In the Absence of Cam Newton

Alex, in plaid shirt, with his friends. (Monte Dutton photos)

Alex, in plaid shirt, with his friends. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, January 18, 2016, 3:12 p.m.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

What do you know? It was a Sunday with the NFL playoffs going on, and I watched precious little football.

My great-nephew was celebrating his 13th birthday at a bowling alley in Cayce (Columbia suburb), I don’t see Alex Montgomery Howard as much as I used, and neither does his great grandmother, and so my mom and I traveled to Park Lanes to see Alex and his younger brothers Anthony and Josh.

Josh. Full of mischief.

Josh. Full of mischief.

When I left, I felt grateful to the Carolina Panthers for taking a 31-0 halftime lead over the Seattle Seahawks. As it turned out, there ended up being a reason to listen to the end of the game on radio.

Anthony. Wide open.

Anthony. Wide open.

Once there, courtesy of my phone’s directions,I tried to be useful, so I prevented Josh and Anthony from rolling another ball down the lane and, most likely, into a gutter, before the pins were cleared. Kids were allowed to use a metal frame, was similar to a miniature ski jump, in order to roll the ball down the jump and then the lane. I proved adept at studying the roll of the balls enough to align the jump for the purpose of making the occasional spare possible for a kid who needed my help to hoist the ball into the jump. Anthony wasn’t satisfied with gravity, so he kept shoving the ball down the jump so hard that it left the tracks before it reached the lane.

Linda and Herman Mcaulay.

Linda and Herman Mcaulay.

It’s the first time I’ve seen Alex socialize because some of his school friends showed up. With his glasses and stocking cap, I thought Alex looked like Waldo, and, like Waldo, he was frequently hard to find.

Ella and her grandmother. The generation between took the photo.

Ella and her grandmother. The generation between took the photo.

In the video room, Anthony and I steadfastly opposed the advance of frightening mechanical monsters with our trusty firearms. The difficulty wasn’t really reloading in time. It was popping quarters into the machine before the monsters got us. Thankfully, it was just a game, more interested in gobbling quarters than devouring players.

DSCF1665I also raced my Dodge Challenger against Josh’s Chevy Camaro through city streets, tunnels, a desert, and a dirt trail. My Challenger had really stiff shocks. That way I was able to soar over jumps that magically took me from the outskirts of Paris to the cactus-strewn desert of Arizona. I won the head-to-head and finished third overall to Josh’s fifth. When he asked me to slow down and let him catch up, I laughed maniacally.

DSCF1664They’re all happy kids. Josh is the charmer with the twinkles in his eyes. Anthony is a perpetual-motion machine. Alex is veering into adolescence but still at least seems astonishingly sane.

The grown-ups all sat around and swapped charming tales of the kids. I ordered some boneless wings for myself and a two-corn dog plate for Mom. That’s what she wanted, and it may have had something to do with it being among the menu’s least expensive items.

DSCF1667

On the way home I listened to the radio account of the Pittsburgh-Denver game while pretending to listen to my mother’s review of the party, and how precious the kids are, and how “Ella looks good, doesn’t she?” and that she thinks Tony, Ella’s husband, looks like Tom Selleck when he was younger.

I gave Alex cash, because it had been so long since I’d seen him that I no longer had the slightest idea what he was interested in, and I certainly didn’t want to bring him something related to his obsession of six months ago. I figure there’s a good chance the money will be spent at Game Stop.

DSCF1662I had some flashbacks to a time, not so long ago, when Ella was the age Alex is now, and I took her on trips to places she may never get to go again. She’ll be 32 next month. I can’t see her as much in her children’s personalities because they are all boys, but, of course, I can see her in their faces.

DSCF1653When Alex was born, I told her that his birth was one more chance, in our maddening and dysfunctional clan, to “get it right.”

So far, so good.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=0AD3V83MM7SDKFNKQ5YB

(Joe Font cover design)

(Joe Font cover design)

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=09V773T1A5GZXP96KS3Y

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.

 

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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