Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, April 18, 2016, 12:04 p.m.
I did something on Sunday — and quite a way into Monday — that I don’t think I could have done when I was younger.
This is encouraging. It might not have been wise, but I pulled it off.
I left Gainesville, Texas, at 9:30 on Sunday morning and drove all the way home. I rolled in about 3 this morning. It wasn’t but 1,060 miles, give or take a few lane changes here and there. My phone kept telling me I was on the best possible route and that I was going to get home at 2:10 a.m. My phone changed it to 3:10 a.m. when I crossed the Alabama-Georgia line and the time became Eastern again. Though stupid about time zones, my phone was right about the ETA.
ETA is air-travel lingo for “estimated time of arrival.” I had informed my house-sitting nephew of my case of temporary insanity so that he would not come after me with a baseball bat when I walked in from the carport, dragging a suitcase, wearing a backpack, and carrying a guitar slung across my back.
My mother is at her house right now, expecting me home tonight. I’m about to call her and admit I’ve lost my mind.
I don’t often listen to a NASCAR race on the radio, but Carl Edwards led me and the Food City 500 across Louisiana. After it was over, I called a colleague to ask hinm what he thought. It always sounds more exciting on the radio, but I enjoyed the PRN broadcast, though. I just didn’t trust what my eyes couldn’t see.
My timing was exceptional. Each time I filled up with gas, I also filled up with the boldest truck-stop coffee available. As the trusty Dakota ran out of gas, I filled up with coffee. Another tank of gas. Another trip to the restroom. Another tank of coffee.
I did not plan to drive all the way home. I just kept going. I never got drowsy. I never got jumpy. Satellite radio was my greatest ally. I sang a lot. I listened to a tribute to Merle Haggard and a replay of the Friday night Grand Ole Opry. While I drove through Jackson, Mississippi, I switched to local radio for the broadcast of the baseball game between the Mississippi Braves and the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts were leading, 1-0, when I drove out of range. I thought about stopping and watching the game. I thought about getting a room in Birmingham, Alabama, which is where I stopped the last time I made my annual Texas trip. By the time I got to Atlanta, I decided, well, I’ve gotten this far. I might as well keep going.
I had several such adventures when I was younger, but none was this long, and even though I may have been more, uh, vigorous and youthful, I had far less sense.
There’s a Robert Earl Keen live album in which he talks about joy-riding with friends to a bluegrass festival in Crockett, Texas, “armed with a case of Texas Pride beer and a handful of cheap amphetamines.”
I never fortified such a voyage with illegal pills, but once, I drove with a car full of friends from a basketball game in Charlotte to a football game in Cincinnati, through the night. We were armed with a diet supplement called guarana (NRGs, for “Nature’s Raw Guarana”) that consisted basically of a crushed-up plant, allegedly from the jungles of South America, rife with caffeine. We were popping those NRGs like candy and washing them down with beer. We also made up bawdy verses of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “The Authority Song.” We rolled into one Queen City, Cincinnati, after starting in another, Charlotte, and crossed the Ohio River as the sun rose.
Was that yesterday? No. It was over 30 years ago. As Tom T. Hall sang, quite possibly on my cassette player way back then, “Don’t forget the coffee, Billy Joe.”
Our friend, Stanford Jennings, then played for the Cincinnati Bengals. I’ve probably watched football games more attentively. About all I remember about this one is that it was cold. Also, we met Stanford on the morning of the game, and as I recall, he seemed mildly alarmed at our appearance.
Sunday’s trip was less exciting, but I expect I’ll remember it longer.
I’m a little slow getting started today. I ain’t a kid no more.
I also think I may lay off the coffee today. I got a bad taste in my mouth.
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.
I have a new volume of short stories, Longer Songs, which you may examine and preferably purchase here.
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.
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.
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.