In Pursuit of Lost Joy

(Monte Dutton photos)

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 9:46 a.m.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.

Monte Dutton (John Clark photo).

This is a football town, located in the lower quadrant of a football county, the central-upper-left of a football state and the east of a football region.

Have a spring football game. People will show up.

Clinton High School’s spring football game was relaxed, mainly because Clinton was playing Clinton and not Laurens or Woodruff or Newberry. The Red played the White. The final score was Red 40, White 27, but no one lost.

DSCF3178Okay, maybe the defenses lost.

The aforementioned little corner of the world has been unhappy in recent years. It expects to win. It hasn’t. Each year the rich folks get a little more snooty. The poor folks get a little more bitter. The shrinking middle class shrinks a little more.

It seems ridiculous that a better football season would fix a lot around here, but it’s understandable. Lots of the people who read this didn’t grow up in these parts.

DSCF3162Football doesn’t bring jobs. It brings joy. In lieu of jobs, all in all, joy ain’t bad.

In the words of a short-lived Furman soccer player, more than three decades ago and taken wildly out of context:

It hurts. Down deeeeep inside.

DSCF3169The Red Devils, 3-7 a fall ago, look better. That was enough joy to occupy the surprisingly large crowd that showed up on Monday night at Wilder Stadium to watch a game that had been rained out Friday.

In the post-game press conference — that means I was conferring with head coach Andrew Webb by myself — he used the word “wonderful” five times in under a minute.

DSCF3154Wonderful effort. Feels wonderful. Their attitude was wonderful. It was wonderful. As Lawrence Welk was once fond of saying, “Wunnerful, wunnerful.”

Oh, yes, and Shy Spearman, who scored the final touchdown, is “a dadgum good Red Devil.” I talked to Spearman, too. I’m satisfied he is.

DSCF3181Clinton needs a good football season like Bill Cosby needs a lawyer, Donald Trump a hair stylist and the Tin Woodman a heart.

The local citizenry, good and true, had no animosity, just hope, as it munched its boiled peanuts, sipped its Cokes and cheered every long run and accurate pass.

DSCF3171Hey, Fred, it looks like the Red Devils found a kicker!

Oh, yeah, I seen him play soccer. The other kid, on the White team, he’s good, too.

Yep. Plays soccer, too.

I sure do love soccer.

Man, they got some running backs.

DSCF3165I sure hope we got a line that can block for them.

They don’t look bad.

Naw, sure don’t. That ain’t Laurens they playing, though.

We’ll worry about Laurens when the time comes.

Exactly right, Sam. Exactly right.

It’s the spring. Flowers bloom.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Clinton also needs a certain author’s latest novel to become a bestseller. Consider Forgive Us Our Trespasses, my fourth and latest. It’s an outlandish crime thriller, complete with cuss words and meanness.

Don’t stop there. My third, Crazy of Natural Causes, has been out less than a year and is actually about a football coach, at least for a while.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

Longer Songs is my brand-new collection of short stories.

The Intangibles is set in the 1960s in a Southern town that looks familiar.

The Audacity of Dope was my first and most fun. A pot-smoking songwriter and his right-hand girl lead the Feds on a merry chase that turns serious.

Read my short stories and book reviews at

I’m not hard to find on social media. I pretend it’s a useful vice.



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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