Concord, North Carolina, Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:50 a.m.
About 15-20 years ago, one morning, barely light, I was driving up Interstate 85 between Spartanburg and Cowpens when a blue station wagon roared past me in the right lane. It was taxicab with orange lettering on the sides and back. It was a big Ford that brought scale-model aircraft carriers to mind.
I thought it odd when I noticed that the driver, a Latino, appeared to be asleep. He must have been doing at least 85. I hadn’t moved over because he overtook me so quickly I didn’t see him coming.
The station wagon then careened across in front of me and into the grass separating the lanes. At this point the driver apparently awakened.
He yanked the ungainly vehicle back to the right, skidded across in front of me — I had prudently backed off to give him some room — cleared the two-foot guardrail with little resistance and disappeared into some sort of dry wash or creek bed.
Undoubtedly, I cursed aloud and took several deep breaths as I brought my own vehicle to a stop. A great deal of smoke and dust arose from the undergrowth and, in time, so did the cab driver, blood streaming down the front of his shirt from his busted mouth and nose. I’ve heard of people spitting teeth, but it’s one of few times I’ve actually seen it and the only place that didn’t have chalk lines across it.
Mainly, though, he was just shook up.
That morning I was on the way to Martinsville. Today I was on the way here.
I thought about it this morning because race drivers are prone to say, “Well, you may have thought it was a boring race, but from where I was sitting, it was unbelievable.”
One would hope a man driving nearly 200 miles an hour in a closed circuit wouldn’t be bored.
The key point here is that racing is a spectator sport. Of course it doesn’t put a driver to sleep. Batters don’t nod off, either, when fastballs are tracking toward their noggins. For the competitor, sport is certainly jarring. For the fan, it had better not be.
Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.
If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).