Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, July 1, 2016, 9:22 a.m.
Independence Weekend! America steps boldly into the second half of another eventful year. The stock cars are roaring in Daytona Beach. The baseball teams are wearing all sorts of star-spangled pajamas. Fireworks galore, and since this year the Fourth of July isn’t until Monday, I expect they’ll commence tonight and keep on popping them in the wee hours right on up Tuesday.
No need to try it at home, kids. Awe-inspiring fireworks displays are available, risk-free, in every downtown square, every minor-league ballpark, and not nearly as much by drunk Uncle Ed, waving a lit Roman candle around in the backyard and inadvertently bouncing a fireball off a donkey’s butt.
Have no fear. If that happens this year, Action News and the humane officer (often a contradiction in terms) will be on the scene, taking fingerprints and making sure all incriminating video is already on YouTube.
Me? I’ll be pecking away at a keyboard, as usual, just like now. The toil of editing a manuscript is not a great way to celebrate freedom, but, as Charley Pride used to say onstage between songs, “it sure beats picking that cotton in Mississippi.”
It sure beats hauling that hay in South Carolina. At this point in life, of course, had I followed in my father’s footsteps, I would have been supervising the hauling of hay in South Carolina. Since the course of my life has been so vastly different, hay is still being harvested in the pastures around my home, but now my only involvement is the yearly receipt of a check and the regular sensation of staggering out of bed in the morning, yawning, looking out the front window, and saying to myself, “I’ll be dogged. Hay.”
I’ll spend a half hour yakking with my mother on the phone. We’ll talk about the books we’re reading, and the latest on that crazy Trump, and who died, and into whom I bumped the other day, and has she seen the latest pictures on Facebook of “the baby”?
I’ll watch the NASCAR races so that I will be qualified to write about them, but now, instead of sitting in a press box annoying officials with my questions, I’ll be annoyed at the announcers on high-def, but it won’t get heated because I can play some carefree Marty Robbins song — “Singing the Blues,” say — or philosophical Tom T. Hall ditty — “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine” — and it will settle me down no matter how many times the announcers use harsh words like “carnage” to describe a wreck. If they’re going to use “carnage,” then they might as well use “bloodbath,” too, because they mean the same thing.
See? That’s why I play guitar.
My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a crime thriller.
Set in the hills of Kentucky, Crazy of Natural Causes is a fable of life’s absurdity, seen through the unique perspective of ruined coach Chance Benford.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories, all of which are derived from songs I wrote.
All three of these books, already autographed, are available at L&L Office Supply, 114 N. Main St., Clinton. Buy one of the novels, and you’ll get the short stories absolutely free.
Most of my books are also available here.