Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, October 2, 2017, 12:48 p.m.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a large-scale music festival. Thanks to friends in Texas, I’ve been to lots of small-scale music festivals, but, mostly, I’ve watched favorite musicians, barely known to most of my friends, at auditoriums, converted movie theaters, and the like. I don’t even go to large-scale sporting events much. I’m happy as a clam – a phrase John Prine turned – watching the Presbyterian Blue Hose or Furman Paladins play on Saturdays.
TV is just fine for the Clemson Tigers.
But who hasn’t tried to put himself (or herself) in the souls of the music fans, packed into an open area, watching the act he’s been waiting to see for three days – the purpose of the whole trip! – and then finding himself in the middle of a horror movie?
It’s common for me to fall asleep with the TV on. This morning I awakened at 4:30, just enough to realize the TV was still on, and, as I reached for the remote control in the flickering light, I heard a description of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. For a moment, I thought it was a movie. At 4:30, the crawl read that there were least three dead and 20-plus wounded. I left the TV on and spent the next three hours, half awake and half asleep, embellishing the sound from the TV with small, fantastic creations of my mind.
I’ve stayed at least twice at the Mandalay Bay during trips to Vegas for stock car races. I was at the Luxor one year, too. I know the area.
I got up, went to the bathroom, put on some coffee, went back to the bathroom for a different call, got the coffee, walked into the den, and turned the TV on. Forty-plus dead. Two-hundred-plus injured. I couldn’t just sit there. I shaved and took a shower. I drove uptown for breakfast.
“Sorry. We’re not open.”
“You don’t serve breakfast anymore?”
“Not until Tuesday.”
I went through the McDonald’s drive-through. In front of me was a van with a ladder on top. The back was covered with bumper stickers.
InfoWars.com (some slogan under it that escapes me now).
Don’t Tread on Me.
Armed and Loaded.
I wanted to know who that was. I was trying to see his face through the side mirrors on the van. Then I saw a sticker identifying the van as being licensed by the City of Newberry, so I realized it wasn’t likely anyone I knew.
I don’t begrudge anyone his or her beliefs. If there’s anything I begrudge, it’s people who denigrate those who disagree with them. At that moment, though, I was angry. Events were rising up in my chest like heartburn. I guess I wanted the guy to climb out and rip all his decals off. That was unreasonable. So was I. No reason was anywhere.
Nowhere does my extroversion occur as naturally as in a store. I chat with people I don’t know. I wink at their babies. I recommend the chicken salad. On this trip, I didn’t say a word to anyone. I pushed the cart and put things in it. The only decision I recall making was to give the pumpkin spice bagels a try. I bought bagels because all I could remember being in my refrigerator were two tubs of cream cheese.
I got back home and put the groceries away. At least 58 dead. Five-hundred-plus injured.
If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.
I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.
Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.
Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.
I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.
I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.
I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.
I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).
Write me at hutdut@email@example.com or “message” me through social media.