White Lines and All Kinds of Stop Signs

Birmingham, Alabama (Monte Dutton photos)

Birmingham, Alabama (Monte Dutton photos)

Gainesville, Texas, Friday, April 15, 2016, 11:55 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

It’s been a hectic, fun, and, of course, exhausting few days. I haven’t had a chance to write anything till now, and there’s a good chance posting on this motel wi-fi is going to be iffy.

You’ll know it’s on my site because, uh, you’re reading it now.

I’m the emcee of a charity event put on by VISTO of Cooke County, which, in turn, provides for needy kids hereabouts. I have participated in this for quite a few years now. It’s been in the fall and spring — last year it was in May — and gone from being Pawlessfet to Concert for VISTO, and now it’s part of a broader festival.

In addition to picking lucky numbers, introducing music acts, and the like, I’m scheduled to play a half-hour set on Saturday night at 5. I’ve many friends out here, and, as a general rule and now that NASCAR doesn’t bring me to Texas anymore, this is the only time I see them.

Many thanks to many of my friends in NASCAR for donating items for the silent auction. They are much appreciated and effectively used.

DSCF2548I like to have a 58-year-old man’s meager version of adventure on trips. I try not to do much in the way of planning. In past years, I’ve watched the Mississippi Braves, Montgomery Biscuits, and Frisco Roughriders in action.

This time, I drove from home to Birmingham, Alabama, where I saw the Barons and the Tennessee Smokies play a Southern League version of White Sox-Cubs — Smokies (Cubs) won, 7-0 — and, as seems to happen amazingly often in baseball, spectated something I’d never spectated before.

The dog was the Barons' MVP on Wednesday night.

The dog was the Barons’ MVP on Wednesday night.

In the fourth inning — by then, my scoresheets had been put away because it was lightly raining — the first Birmingham batter singled, stole second and was picked off second. The next Birmingham better also singled, stole second and was picked off second. They might want to pay attention to how that worked, you know, for next time.

DSCF2545I also enjoyed some ribs a few blocks from the stadium at a place called Rib It Up, and I knew I was going to be in business because I was the only white person in the joint. Because I am, at least passably on this trip, dieting, I ordered slaw and green beans on the side, and the man behind the counter asked me if I wanted cornbread, rolls or loaf bread. I should have said, “I’m fine, thanks,” but I said cornbread.

When the ribs came, he’d given me turnip greens instead of green beans, and, apparently, he read my mind because, ever since I’d decided to splurge on the cornbread, I’d wished I’d ordered greens.

It was a fortuitous mistake I’d made.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

I decided to leave the game early because the rain was picking up, and I used my mobile phone to look ahead to Thursday’s activities, at which point I discovered that the game in Memphis between the Redbirds and the Oklahoma City Dodgers, a Triple-A game, started at 11:05 a.m. instead of 7:05 p.m.

DSCF2574Oh, boy. I drove part of way to Memphis through the rain and got a room in a place called Hamilton, Alabama, and all I know about it is the Days Inn. I got up and drove to Memphis, where I discovered that the reason it had a morning start was because it was a school kids’ game, as indicated by a fleet of schoolbuses impeding my path into a lovely stadium.

DSCF2570With school kids, you will find there is literally dancing in the aisles.

This Triple-A Dodgers-Cardinals clash was splendid. The Dodgers led, 2-0, from the third inning, until the home eighth, when the Redbirds tied it on Jacob Wilson’s sacrifice fly. Then OKC retook the lead on catcher Micah Johnson’s single.

DSCF2581The Dodgers’ fourth hurler, whose last name was Tsau, retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth, but Dean Anna walked, Matt Williams (no, not that one) singled, a pinch-hitter name Ohlman walked, third baseman Jonathan Rodriguez doubled, and that was all I wrote on my scoresheet and all she wrote, too, whoever she was.

DSCF2576Birmingham and Tennessee are in the Southern League, which makes abundant sense. Memphis and Oklahoma City are inexplicably in the Pacific Coast League, which I suppose makes the Pacific Coast the east bank of the Mississippi River.

“Goodbye, that’s all she wrote” comes from the Johnny Cash-June Carter version of “Jackson,” where two Southern League teams (Mississippi Braves and Jackson, Tennessee, Generals) reside.

Lest I forget, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood also cut “Jackson.”

When last I left Clinton High School, this was the scene. The Red Devils have since ran their winning streak to 14 games. Strangely, the rain seems to have accompanied me east to west.

When last I left Clinton High School, this was the scene. The Red Devils have since run their winning streak to 14 games. Strangely, the rain seems to have accompanied me east to west.

You can’t have too much adventure for me, though, so, even though I didn’t have to be in Gainesville until tonight, I took off across Arkansas at 3 p.m., stopped south of Little Rock at a huge buffet and general store where once, I noted from the photos on the walls leading to the restrooms, Billy Bob Thornton stopped to eat.

What a shame I didn’t bring any eight-by-10 glossies.

The Redbirds came back under the mascot's watchful eye.

The Redbirds came back under the mascot’s watchful eye.

U.S. 82, from just south of Texarkana to Gainesville and beyond, is a highway of innumerable changes in speed limits, ranging from 45 to 75, and I was strung out on coffee of the strongest truck-stop kind.

I started driving at 6:30 a.m., watched a ballgame in the sunshine, and checked into this motel at about 11 p.m.

Now that’s adventure.

For some reason, I can’t get the coffee machine in this room to work.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

It’s out. $3.49. You can’t afford not to!

Forgive Us Our Trespasses fell eight months and eight days after the release of Crazy of Natural Causes. Eight is my lucky number, and this is pure luck. Apparently, my speed is about eight months. It’s a good pace I’m setting. You can order Trespasses here.

Longer_Songs_Cover_for_KindleI have a new volume of short stories, Longer Songs, which you may examine and preferably purchase here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes has been out since late July of 2015. It’s about colorful coach who loses everything and reinvents himself. Take a look.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles (2013) is based on boyhood memories and is set in a small Southern town amid the tumult of the 1960s. Sample it. The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who somehow becomes a national hero, and that comes with complications. It’s a trip.

(Joe Font cover design)

(Joe Font cover design)

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here.

My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50.

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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