A Farewell to One of the Men in Full

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, July 14, 2017, 11:08 a.m.

I paid modest respects to my line coach today. Not much is there to prove it. I signed the register and nodded at the people who were staking out their seats in the Friendship AME Church sanctuary. Three fourths of the seats were roped off. Harold Williams passed through lots of hearts and minds. He passed through mine as I looked at his remains, peaceful but frail for a man who was a mountain for most of the 46 years I knew him.

Monte Dutton

In the parking lot, before I left, I talked for a while with old acquaintances. It was hot, but I could remain still and not perspire. If I wiggled one pinky finger, I perspired.

I only called him Harold for about his last 10 years. It was always Coach Williams until one time, quite unexpectedly, he told me there was no need to call him “Coach” anymore since he didn’t coach and I didn’t play. I told him I never played much, and he laughed.

Harold laughed a lot. He never called me Monte. He called me “Moddie.”

Moddie, sit down. I want to ask you something.

He never revealed much about his own opinions. For some reason, he enjoyed knowing mine. I guess it was because I’m a writer, and it’s hard to write without making opinions known, particularly in fiction and the wild edge of journalism, columns and blogs, for which I have been most often celebrated.

My opinions usually satisfied him. They always amused him.

Harold was not a second father, but I knew him longer than my father, who died when I was 35. I knew Harold when I was 13. Do the math. For much of that period, he was a rock. A distant rock, but a rock.

Harold Williams (Kim Williams-Carter photo)

In his prime, Harold could almost have hurled a baseball from the church where his body lie to Bell Street, the school where local black youths graduated until Clinton High School opened its doors to them. That’s when I came in. Bell Street was the junior high school where I first played football. Now the high school is almost new. My high school is the middle school. I played football for Harold. I wrote about the boys’ basketball teams Harold coached. I wrote about football played by his son, Hal. I wrote, as recently as this year, about the basketball and football played by his grandson, Jalen Carter.

Harold knew the value of simplicity. He believed that if a man did what he was supposed to do, it didn’t matter much what others did to oppose him. His basketball philosophy was simple. Here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to try to stop it. If we do what we do right, you won’t. He didn’t care much for the element of surprise. He cared for the power of execution.

This made him a perfect assistant for the rigid football leadership of Keith Richardson, who made every player, every coach, and every social-studies student aware of exactly what he required. Richardson had little use for variability in his virtues. He didn’t believe in luck. He didn’t believe in breaks. He didn’t believe in chance. Fumbles occurred because kids failed to protect the football. Recoveries occurred because kids were ready when other kids didn’t. The most futile offering a kid could make to Richardson was an excuse. We all learned not to go there.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

 

All the great men who worked together in the pursuit of Clinton High School athletic excellence were stubborn in their commitment to it. R.P. Wilder. Keith Richardson. Andy B. Young. Harold Williams. Bill Rhodes. Bobby Brock. Connie Hodges. Sam Moore. Dozens of others.

Richardson could be an actor, though he most certainly isn’t. He achieved as much with his expressions as Spencer Tracy. Harold and Bill could have been stage actors. Neither ever needed amplification. They were all men of considerable humor, when they were of a mind. Richardson chuckled a lot. When he laughed hard, he made little sound. Harold and Bill could awaken Rip Van Winkle with their thunderous voice boxes.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Once, when I missed a portion of football practice so that I could attend the funeral of a family friend, the preacher requested a moment of silence at Rosemont Cemetery, a half mile or so from the lowland where the CHS practice field was located. In the silence, I could heard Rhodes’ voice, booming away at some hapless sophomore, clear as thunder rolling on the horizon. As my head was bowed, I couldn’t see the lightning strike.

As I looked down at Harold’s lifeless visage, perfectly at peace, I remembered the time a classmate named Freddie Payne tried to sneak away to the showers without completing the after-practice wind sprints that some transgression required. I could see us all trudging into the locker room, beneath the sign that said “Pride of Clinton,” and hearing Harold’s voice, booming away from far behind.

“Come on back, Freddie! Come on back!”

Freddie went back, but he didn’t last much longer. Harold couldn’t yell at him all the time.

He was a good man. I’ve heard Coach Young call him “a good school man.” A good wife survives. A good family spreads out from him, all bright, educated, and wise.

A good town spreads out from him because he and his colleagues turned so many boys into men. I am, at best, merely a modest example.

 

 

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

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.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.

(Joe Font cover design)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Gleaned from the Borders of My Obsession

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, April 10, 2017, 5:05 p.m.

I haven’t blogged here in quite a while. I just haven’t had anything to write. I’ve been overwhelmed with the completion of my new stock car racing novel, Lightning in a Bottle, and I’ve written several times about it on my other site, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. What is the difference between a blog here and a blog there? More here are about sports and are non-fiction. More there are about books and writing fiction. Sometimes I write a blog for this site and decide it fits the other better, and vice-versa.

By Monte Dutton

It’s hardly scientific.

Another reason is that I haven’t gotten out much. Not much free-lancing lately. Sitting in this chair all day and writing fiction, or doing layout, or writing media releases, is highly interesting for me, but writing about it wouldn’t likely be as compelling for you.

If my life suddenly gets more interesting, I’ll let you know.

Even though some of the changes don’t please me – if I could do away with the designated hitter in baseball tomorrow, I would – NASCAR’s changes have interested me.

It seems as every race is the Clemson NIT game. The Tigers led by 26 points with 15 minutes remaining and lost. The difference is that I watch all the races. When Clemson was prohibitively ahead, I switched channels and watched Katharine Hepburn charm Spencer Tracy for a while. I flipped back over and … Oakland was ahead!

Lots of strategy comes into play with all these byzantine rules and regulations.

As strange and different as it seems, I was talking to a friend this morning, and we agreed that David Pearson would have eaten this system alive.

5:45 p.m.

I had to put a load of laundry in. I should be cutting my mother’s lawn right now, but, when I went out to ship the novels and pick up some prescriptions at the apothecary, I forgot to get more gas, so I watched the Typhoid Red Sox lose, 2-1, in Detroit, Justin Verlander over Chris Sale. I suppose if your favorite team loses, and it’s a classic pitching duel, it’s not as disappointing, but, more likely, it’s because the season is young, and half the Boston team is either on bereavement leave, injured, or sick with the flu (hence the term Typhoid Red Sox).

Back to the freshly sanitized Fenway locker room and the Birds of Baltimore Tuesday night. The Red Sox are 3-3.

At the moment, the San Francisco Giants lead the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-1, on Opening Day at AT&T Park. Ten minutes ago, the Giants scored three runs on a swinging bunt by pitcher Matt Moore that the D-backs redirected errantly three times. It was the type of play one normally associates with a Small Fry game.

That’s baseball.

6:00 p.m.

Each Friday, at a little after 7:30 p.m., I appear on South Carolina SportsTalk, which is aired on stations around the state and is hosted most weeks by Phil Kornblut, whom I have known for more years than either of us enjoy chronicling. Most weeks, unless I succeed in expending my allotted time, which is my goal, I’m asked to predict the winner of the upcoming race.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

I do not consider myself any more of a prognosticator than any of the pharmacists at Sadler-Hughes Apothecary. As I have said (and written) many times, my training is in the field of what already happened. While proclaiming my ignorance, however, I will make an honest stab at it. Thus far, I have correctly picked the winner of three of the season’s seven races, meaning that I will undoubtedly miss at least the next 10.

Anyway, on Friday, I reasoned that changes in the Texas Motor Speedway track – new pavement, flatter and wider turns on one side of the track – would reward efficient drivers who were not overly aggressive. I was prepared to pick a Jimmie Johnson victory, but, a few minutes before I went on, Johnson spun out in qualifying. I knew he would have to start at the back of the pack. Matt Kenseth qualified eighth. I picked Kenseth, who finished 18th in a race Johnson did indeed win.

6:18 p.m.

I’m waiting for this new novel to take off. I’m waiting for word to get around about how funny, frank, and controversial it is. It’s been about a week now since I released it to the world, and I did so by not letting anyone know it was coming. Therefore, I suppose, it should come as no surprise that the word is slow getting out, even in this exponentially accelerating age.

Man, I know you don’t read many novels, but, hey, you gotta read this.

A few people have read it and communicated their feelings. If someone hates it, I don’t know about it, but I expect a segment of the stock car racing ruling class is less than ebullient.

I invented a kid who is the answer to stock car racing’s problems. A tale’s got to have a protagonist and an antagonist, or, at least, it sure works smoother in the telling that way.

See? That damned novel again.

I’m obsessed.

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..

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Misty, Water-Colored Memories of the Way We Were

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, March 31, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

I know Laurens County fairly well, having lived here almost all my life. The first banquet of the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame was right down my alley, having put in many a day’s touch-typing on the subject of Laurens County sports.

By Monte Dutton

Of the eight inductees, the only one I had never met was Chrissy Floyd, the Laurens basketball player who performed most of her magic while I was away trying in vain to keep up with cars going around and around. I talked to her on the phone over a month ago. She was gracious. Everyone was gracious. It’s probably hard not to be gracious when home folks realize officially how great one is.

Take a close look at every day, and something unique occurs. On Thursday night, my unique experience was listening to my words being used as narration by another voice. The stories I’d written for the program were used for introductory greetings of each inductee. I’m sure the words sounded better than if I’d said them, but it just felt slightly weird, sitting out in the audience, finding myself tempted to lip-synch. Maybe it was like an actor who can’t carry a tune, having to have his voice replaced in the musical numbers. Maybe this happened to me before, but I can’t remember it.

King Dixon

With one exception, I knew these people.

My mother told me tales of King Dixon, who played for the old Laurens Tigers (now Raiders) when my father was a Clinton Red Devil. Dixon and his mates whipped Clinton five years in a row – yes, he played in the eighth grade – and my father never talked much about it. Sixty years ago, and a man who starred in football and life still attaches great significance to never losing to Clinton. This, of course, led a couple of Clinton’s finest to allow as how, son of a gun, they never lost to Laurens.

Chick Galloway’s granddaughter represented him.

Chick Galloway died when I was 11. Cally Gault, another PC man – male graduates of Presbyterian College are prone to espouse that synonym of virtue, “the PC man” – recalled Galloway, hitting him grounders while Gault was playing baseball at PC.

That was in 1948.

What I remember of Galloway is that he was a stately man, who commonly wore bowties and who shook my little hand while my father told me he had been “one of the best shortstops there ever was.” Galloway’s big-league career ended prematurely in 1928, when, standing near the cage, a wild pitch in batting practice hit him in the head, ending his career.

Cally Gault

Coach Gault almost spans my life. He moved back here when I was five. Occasionally, I was a ball boy but mostly I watched the Blue Hose play from the area behind the wooden stands in the Johnson Field end zone where kids were allowed to wad up paper cups and pretend they were footballs. It’s funny. When I was 10, he was “Cally.” I can see him now, stalking the sidelines, wearing a blue pullover with “PRESBYTERIAN” in embroidered garnet, similar to what Ara Parseghian wore on Notre Dame sidelines at the time, giving the zebras a hard time. Cally coached the Blue Hose, but he was a bulldog.

Kevin Long

When I first met Kevin Long, he was working for my dad. I was in the ninth grade when Kevin was a senior, and long before the television show, Clinton High School had SNL: (Robert) Scott, (Charles) Norman and (Kevin Long). In Clinton, they might as well be Tinker to Evers to Chance.

J.D. Fuller

J.D. Fuller starred at noseguard for two Red Devil state champions, and my brother Brack was his teammate on one of them. Like Long, Fuller starred for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Noseguards have roared out of Clinton like BMWs out of Greer, but Fuller was the first one chosen as a county hall of famer. Cross Hill is a small place, but the people there ought to hire J.D. as goodwill ambassador.

Chrissy Floyd

Three Red Devils: Long, Fuller and their coach (and mine), Keith Richardson. Two Raiders and a Tiger from Laurens: Barry Atkinson, Dixon and Floyd. Three Gamecocks: Long, Fuller and Dixon. One (Clemson) Tiger: Floyd. Three Blue Hose: Galloway, Gault and Richardson. One woman: Floyd. Five played and coached football: Dixon, Gault, Fuller, Long and Richardson. One baseball player: Galloway. One basketball player: Floyd. One who treated them all: Atkinson.

Barry Atkinson at what he does best.

“Coach” Atkinson mainly fixes. He’s been the Laurens District High School athletic trainer since the budget mainly consisted of ice, tape and “atomic balm.” If there were a Mount Rushmore for memory, Barry would be on it. He can recite most of the Gospel According to Yogi Berra and sprinkle it with a one-liner from General Douglas MacArthur, all while assessing the range of motion in a bum left ankle.

Keith Richardson

At the end, by virtue of the alphabet, was Richardson, whose high school coaching prowess is as legendary in Clinton as Vince Lombardi’s in Green Bay. Hardly anyone who played for him ever calls him Keith, least of all I. In my many travels, I called Earnhardt Dale, Gant Harry (pronounced “hurry”), Waltrip D.W. and Tony Stewart things that I deign not to disclose here. I once called Bob Knight “Bobby” and actually survived.

Richardson? He’s “Coach.” He wouldn’t mind it if I called him Keith, but I probably wouldn’t be able to go to sleep that night.

“How you doing?” ask at least three quarters of all the people one encounters. Most reply “fine.” A few say, “It’s all good.”

John Avery

That’s what the banquet was: all good. No one felt slighted. No one thought anyone went on too long. Most of the jokes got laughs and all of them chuckles. John Avery mastered the ceremonies. The slides flashing across the screen behind the honorees were nostalgic and compelling.

I’m not a big banquet fan. I dreaded dress shoes and didn’t wear a tie. I wore a sweater to hide the wrinkles in my shirt.

I didn’t want to leave when this one was over, though. Here’s what I wrote last night before bedtime.

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..

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Sports in the Background

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, March 9, 2017, 12:53 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Hmm. Missouri beat Auburn. A basketball game was on TV at 11 a.m. It was in Nashville. It was 10 there. I wasn’t paying much attention until the overtime. I was crossing the magical 200-page barrier in my next novel. Fifty-four thousand words. I’ve got to write about an airplane soon. In fact, I’m maneuvering the whole shebang in for a landing.

As Bobby Bare used to sing, Ride me down easy, Lord, ride me on down.

The Tar Heels are playing the Hurricanes in Brooklyn. Let me check my program guide. By gosh, San Diego State is going to play Boise State in the Mountain West quarterfinal. That tips at 11:30 p.m.

Next thing you know, the time will change.

I haven’t watched much baseball. The Red Sox pounded the Braves on TV. Furman beat Presbyterian on a Tuesday afternoon before Clinton High’s final playoff basketball victory. I have only watched one of the local high school teams practice.

I watched the Red Devils win a pulsating 1-0 soccer match over a team representing a club of home-schooled kids.

The Chicago Blackhawks, my favorite hockey team, has been playing especially well, particularly on those rare occasions when I’m watching.

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for NASCAR)

And, of course, there’s NASCAR.

Most of this week’s news has been about the future. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, they’re apparently going to run a fall race through the infield. Las Vegas, site of this week’s Sprint Cup race, is getting a second race. Both items aren’t going to happen until 2018.

So chill for now. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que, sera, sera.

I’m going back to fiction.

Get back to the country, back in the barn aga-ain.

Bobby Bare, Doris Day, and Neil Young. All in one blog. Sometimes I amaze myself.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Down Go the Devils

The Red Devil faithful turned out. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, February 26, 2017, 9:02 a.m.

It’s still vivid in my mind this morning. The glitter of a large arena. A throng of fans, more rowdy than usual because they’re small-town folks come to the city, and their hopes are up because they are anticipating another big victory and a nice meal at some restaurant Clinton doesn’t have.

By Monte Dutton

Twenty-one and four. The Red Devils finished 21-4. They made it to the Class 3A upstate finals, which remains the furthest they have ever been. When first they laid eyes on the Southside Tigers, it was, Wait a minute. Is this a PC game? Nope, nope, here come the Red Devils. That must be a high school team.

They should have waited for Dorman-Gaffney. They’d have thought they stumbled into the Pac-12.

First it was the shoulder. Later it was the knee.

Southside (26-1) won, 71-43. Inside, the Tigers were both tall and thick. Clinton was lanky and slender. The Red Devils’ All-State forward, Jalen Carter, had a first half like a boxer’s first round. Twice he crashed to the Bon Secours (Ironically Titled) Wellness Arena floor, only to be partially revived by the trainers. When the game was long over, I was at the end of a hall, underneath the stands, watching Carter limp to the bus, ice bags wrapped around his knee.

Hoosiers doesn’t happen every year.

Tymori Tribble

The game was sunset at the end of a glorious day. Southside’s Tigers loped off gracefully into the distance, disappearing with the sun over a boys’ basketball season’s far horizon.

The Red Devils, under first-year head coach Eddie Romines, were a splendid engine of improbable cohesion that finally threw a rod after a Ferrari pulled up at a red light.

V-r-r-r-room.

During the glorious 14-game win streak that encompassed the year to date up until Saturday, it was not uncommon for the Red Devils, with their boundless enthusiasm and clever risk-taking, to face second-half deficits. This time, though, it wasn’t manageable. Southside led by 20 points at the end of three quarters.

Clinton’s Zay Hurley and Southside’s Taymon Leamon.

It wasn’t particularly painful. They didn’t lose on a three-pointer at the buzzer. Southside let them down easy. They got figurative shots of novocaine. They trudged out to the bus, even those who weren’t limping, and rode on back down the road to reality.

This is pure speculation, but they might have felt like General Custer if he had lived.

It took me a while. I sat out on press row, typing a story and editing photos as the Wade Hampton and Dorman girls cavorted earnestly about. When the former put the latter to bed in Class 5A, I did the same with my day’s work. I watched half of Dorman’s victory in the boys’ game after my laptop decided it was an appropriate time to download 238 Microsoft updates before it would cut off.

Getting that laptop to shut down was not unlike the way the Red Devils’ season ended. There wasn’t a whole lot they could do about it.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Be Prepared

Lewisville defeated Calhoun Falls. (Monte Dutton photos)

Greenville, South Carolina, Saturday, February 25, 2017, 12:26 p.m.

The girls’ basketball team from Estill is playing Lamar. Estill is about to win. Both towns are a long way from Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Somehow they are playing for an upstate championship. I don’t know why.

Estill just won, 47-40.

By Monte Dutton

I know why Clinton and Southside are playing on this court at 3:30. Both are conclusively upstate. Southside – a high school, not a town – is just a few miles away. I went there one time to write a football season preview. The last time I wrote about a basketball game there, I suspect it was a different gym.

As you may have surmised, the Southside-Clinton game is the reason for my presence.

I am safely in the building, which I last visited for a hockey game. I haven’t seen a basketball game here since I watched Furman play Clemson slightly less many years ago than when this building, originally the Bi-Lo Center, opened.

Lewisville and Calhoun Falls just ran onto the floor. They are boys. This already have I ascertained.

Between now and 3:30, it is my task to find out what I have to do. I know I have to write about the game and take a few photos. What I don’t know is whether or not there are rosters and if there are statistics other than those in the scorebook. If I need to keep up with field-goal attempts, rebounds and assists, I will do so.

The high school reporter, like the Boy Scout, must be prepared.

The Flashes need new batteries. Lewisville is running away. Final score: Lions 71, Calhoun Falls 48.

Next up, and the games are running behind as upstate finals are prone to do, is the Class 3A girls finals between the familiar schools, Newberry and Seneca. The Bulldogs are 25 miles away, and the Bobcats have played the Red Devils in many sports on many occasions in playoff games over the years. I last visited Newberry football season. I last visited Seneca for the 2016 heartbreak of the year, a season-ending baseball game Clinton lost, 2-1.

I haven’t learned about a procedure, if any, for post-game interviews, this being a large and fancy facility soon to host a conference tournament and NCAA regionals. It isn’t the home of the Southeastern Conference today, so I reckon my postgame work will be about the same as if I was writing about the middle-school rivalry between Clinton White and Clinton Red.

Wayne Green, an old Clinton High teammate, and I chatted for a few minutes before the basketball game. Wayne is the football coach at Berea now. We talked about old times and our coach, and he told me about the Berea basketball team and I did the same about Clinton. What he said left me worried, but I worry easily.

One of many little-known facts about me is that I like the Chicago Blackhawks. When I got home, rather than get myself all concerned by watching something like the news, I watched the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-3. Just let the record note that Jonathan Toews rules.

I’ve got a Powerball ticket for tonight. But it’s too late. Days like Tuesday don’t repeat themselves immediately.

*Paraphrased from an old country song.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

 

In Everything but the Money

(Monte Dutton photos)
By Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

Some days are great. Some are awful. Some gotta win. Some gotta lose. Sometimes Goodtime Charlie’s got the blues.*

I wish they’d had a Powerball on Tuesday.

What they had Tuesday night was a basketball game matching the visiting Berea Bulldogs against the Clinton Red Devils. I was part of the loudest crowd I have ever seen watching a basketball game at Clinton High. I’m not the authority on the subject, but I’ve been to lots of games over the past four years. I went to every game when I was in school, but that was more than 40 years ago.

It was the Upstate Class 3A boys’ semifinal. The Red Devils haven’t lost since the year changed, but early, when Berea led, 21-11, I was starting to dawdle into “well, it was a great season, anyway” mode.

Fortunately, the local ball team had more intensity and determination than I. It’s a consequence of age.

Kiah Young (5) and Tymori Tribble.

A senior guard named Tymori Tribble hoisted the team on his shoulders. In their darkest hour, he shed light. Tribble scored 24 points, and, at times, made the Bulldogs look like the Washington Generals. He wasn’t alone. A Clinton team beaten badly on the boards and from beyond the three-point line in the first half turned into a boards-crashing, fast-breaking, ball-hawking, wide-open-layup-on-the-other-end band of insurgents.

Clinton (21-3) 70, Berea (21-6) 62. The Red Devils next play in Greenville, at a posh location called Bon Secours Wellness Arena, where Southside, a Greenville school, will be the opponent and plenty of good seats will be available. The winner will advance to another posh arena in Columbia.

Few saw this season coming, and I don’t even know anyone named Few anymore.

The head coach wasn’t even supposed to be the head coach. When Tosh Corley, who was standing in for Todd Frazier, stepped down, the new coach was Jim Still. Then Jim took a job in administration back in Greenwood, and Eddie Romines became coach. Jim, by the way, has taken an avid interest in the team he never actually coached, and was there Tuesday night to enjoy the latest great victory with everyone else.

Eddie Romines

Clinton High School has a spacious gym, at least compared with its peers, and it was about 80 percent full. The students were delirious, almost like they were in the audience of The Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles showed up. The screams were at a lower pitch. I was a section over, screaming gruffly as old folks do. Now, I wasn’t on assignment. I just scribbled a note here and there for the purposes of this document. I snapped the occasional picture.

On Saturday, I will be on assignment in Greenville – the last time I experienced what the 11 o’clock news always calls “The Well” was a minor league hockey game three years ago – and I will return to the professional reserve of the journalist.

Instead of “Good Goddamighty, ref, he damn near knocked him down!” it will be “Huh. That was an odd call.”

But that’s not all.

Furman, my alma mater, visited Presbyterian College. Not the whole school. Just the baseball team.

I have attended many Presbyterian baseball games. At most of them, I have miscalculated the weather. As the afternoon wears on in February and March, a chill wind often howls. Tuesday was an exception. Even though the day became increasingly overcast as the innings wore on, I took off my Clinton High School hoodie to reveal a Furman sports shirt.

The only time I ever root against the Blue Hose is when they are playing the Paladins. Late last year, the two schools opened basketball season, and PC won, 73-71. Since that time, Furman has won 20 games and PC four. I don’t think my presence made the Paladins play worse, so I can only conclude that Furman had no idea how good it was and Presbyterian was blissfully unaware of how bad.

The Paladins won the baseball game, 6-0. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I hope Presbyterian beats Wofford this afternoon.

Ken Pettus, an old friend, and I chatted for a few minutes at the baseball game. He was standing beyond the Furman dugout, watching the game in the way of associate directors of athletics. I once watched Ken play for Newberry against PC.

Wayne Green, an old Clinton High teammate, and I chatted for a few minutes before the basketball game. Wayne is the football coach at Berea now. We talked about old times and our coach, and he told me about the Berea basketball team and I did the same about Clinton. What he said left me worried, but I worry easily.

One of many little-known facts about me is that I like the Chicago Blackhawks. When I got home, rather than get myself all concerned by watching something like the news, I watched the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-3. Just let the record note that Jonathan Toews rules.

I’ve got a Powerball ticket for tonight. But it’s too late. Days like Tuesday don’t repeat themselves immediately.

*Paraphrased from an old country song.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Clinton’s Basketball Keeps on Bouncing

I didn’t know my cell could make a person disintegrate if he walked in front of my panorama. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, February 18, 2017, 10:15 a.m.

The Clinton High boys’ basketball team cultivated a magnetic attachment to a 10-point lead in Friday night’s second-round victory over Pendleton, or, as people are wont to synonymize, “you know, up next to Clemson.”

The Red Devils just missed. The final score was 53-42.

Other than that, the crowd in round two was larger. Both games so far have been at home, and so will the third, Tuesday against Berea (21-5), thanks to the Bulldogs’ 84-82, triple-overtime victory at Chester.

Bulldogs also typify Pendleton. Clinton (20-3) was better. Pendleton was game. It’s the definition of a second-round playoff game.

By Monte Dutton

I didn’t have to write the shot-by-shot, so I spent most of the night high in the grandstands, hollering “traveling!” like everyone else. I had a notepad but didn’t have to scribble things like “third straight TO” but, instead, things like “C repels a 10-pt. lead.” Hence, the opening graph.

The lads representing our town and surrounding rural burgs are breathtaking to watch. I don’t use that term lightly. Several times passes took my breath away. Sometimes a turnover ensued before I caught it. It is a team that can send an entire crowd into paroxysms of delight. The Red Devils teach a course in cell-phone avoidance. There’s no time to tweet.

Pendleton’s chief culprit on Friday night was a love of the three-pointer that was mostly unrequited by the basket most of them missed. When I was growing up, a long pass to the far end of the court, resulting in a layup, was known as “a snowbird.” By now, I’m sure politicians from one side or the other have turned that into a derogatory term for something, but Clinton had three of them in a row after Pendleton three-pointers clanked.

One more victory puts the Red Devils into the Class 3A upstate finals. What are the prospects? It would have been nice to see Clinton put the teams it has beaten away more effortlessly, and now it’s unlikely to get another chance.

What tilts in the Red Devils’ favor is their cohesiveness. They are, to a man, unselfish. They have bought into the notion. At times, they get a bit too fancy, but that’s the old-timer coming out in me. In the stands, not keeping up with numbers, I was sure Jalen Carter, the team’s all-state selection, had more than 20 points. He scored 15. Zay Hurley added 14.

Three of them – Carter, Donte Reeder and Tymori Tribble – are among the nicer kids I know, and I’m sure the only reason I can’t attest to more is that I don’t happen to know them as well.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

The Bounce of This Ball Is Truer

I couldn’t duplicate this photo if I tried because I don’t know how it happened. The place looks quite a bit larger when it isn’t skewed. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 9:57 a.m.

The gym wasn’t full, but it’s a large gym. The first round of the Class 3A boys’ basketball playoffs matched Clinton, the top seed from Region 3, against Indian Land, the fourth seed from Region 4. More will undoubtedly show up on Friday, when Pendleton visits for round two.

By Monte Dutton

The Red Devils (19-3, 10-0 region) led by as many as 20 points but twice allowed the Warriors (6-16, 3-5) to creep to within six. Meanwhile, Pendleton was dismissing Emerald, 72-64. In the second round, the brackets shift, which, without delving into specifics, is why Indian Land arrived in Clinton from the east and Pendleton will sweep in from the northwest.

Exciting to watch is this surprising Clinton team, coached by Eddie Romines for the first time. I’m not but a few years older than Eddie. When we were growing up, I’d estimate that 90 percent of the times I saw him, he was shooting baskets and scaring up pickup games at the Clinton Family YMCA. When Clinton promoted him to head boys’ coach this year, I knew the choice was dedicated to the game. Eddie is a mild-mannered fellow right up to about the time the opening tip-off is tossed. It’s unusual for an opening toss-off to be tipped.

Jalen Carter

On Tuesday night, I wasn’t writing about the game on deadline, but I did hang out at the scorer’s table for a while when the teams were warming up. I was talking to Buddy Bridges about the late Dick Vaughan, and to John Gardner about it being impossible for one man to operate the whole scoreboard while keeping the score right and making sure the clock was running when it was supposed to be and not when it wasn’t. Eddie walked by and, not surprisingly, I said something profound like, “Hey, Eddie.”

He walked about five yards, when it apparently occurred to him that I had spoken in his direction. He reversed his course, “about face,” and came back to shake hands and hear me say he didn’t have to do it because I knew he had a ballgame and was tense the way coaches get before them.

And, besides, this was the playoffs, and playoffs are thoroughly dangerous affairs.

It’s been many years since I’ve seen a Clinton basketball team that was this much fun to watch. I probably missed a few possibilities while I was off watching cars go around and around.

Every player Clinton puts on the floor is athletic. It’s a ball-hawking team, one that takes chances on defense and monitors the passing lanes like U-boats preying on an Allied convoy. On offense, the Red Devils are fast-paced and unselfish. Last night, four scored in double figures: Jalen Carter 19, Kiah Young 18, Zay Hurley 17 and Tymori Tribble 15.

Indian Land was outmanned but bold in the “we got nothing to lose” mold. The Warriors committed 32 fouls. Four fouled out. Thirty-one of Clinton’s 80 points were free throws. They had free shots at 51.

When it was over, I milled around, chatting to Donte Reeder about playing football next year at Alderson Broaddus, and kidding Tribble about committing consecutive turnovers, the former on a 10-second violation and the latter on a five. It was a brief lapse. I think the hectic pace might have gotten the referee’s adrenaline flowing and his approximation of a second accelerating.

Eddie was saying the effort was good but the man-to-man defense fallible when I walked by. I figured I could write this without an in-depth interview.

I watched the game from about 10 rows up, surrounded by people I’ve known for at least three decades and, in most cases, all my life.

This is a football state, and Clinton is a football town. Basketball has a hard time going up unless football is going down. At the moment, football is edging back up but isn’t there yet, and by there, in these parts, it means competing for state championships.

If there is a void, then baseball a spring ago and basketball at present have filled it.

Folks are starting to notice this little team that plays a different kind of ball.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).

Whoever Heard of a Red Devil Heaven?

First-year head coach Eddie Romines and his Red Devils. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 10:30 a.m.

Life is back to normal. I’ve returned from my restorative road trip. Tuesday night found me back in my normal element, watching the Clinton Red Devils play and driving back home to dicker with photos and write a story about it.

By Monte Dutton

A dichotomy exists between the basketball teams that represent the local high school. Both the boys and the girls have risen and fallen through the years. At the moment, the boys are on a hill, and the girls are in a valley. Both teams do their very best. Newberry paid a visit from 25 miles, mostly down I-26, and Clinton won the boys’ game, 68-60, and lost the girls’ game, 66-27.

A region sweep of the neighboring Bulldogs – Newberry won a holiday-tournament game in overtime – leaves the Clinton boys with 15 victories and three defeats, overall, and a perfect seven victories in as many tries in Region 3-3A, which Clinton and Newberry share with Woodruff, Mid-Carolina, Broome and Chapman. The girls are 4-14 and 1-6.

When I am on assignment, my wandering is restricted to the scorer’s table and the end zone for pictures. When I take pictures, I tally stats on the back of my left hand, then transfer them to a legal pad when I get back to my seat.

Here’s a helpful hint from the journalism pros: Don’t forget to scrub the ink off the wrist with spit. That way the slate is clean when the boys’ game starts.

So much for the notion that journalism is getting too antiseptic.

Kiah Young (5) and Tymori Tribble.

When I go to a game as a fan, I mingle all night. I good-naturedly jeer the refs. I try not to be harsh. I don’t jeer unless I really think it’s a bad call. Sometimes, I even say something to the person sitting next to me like, “You know, that probably was the right call.”

At the scorer’s table, it’s quite different. I must make use of my professional reserve. Also, there is too much to do. A good bit of the time, I pass messages from one scorekeeper to the other. Last night I chatted quite a bit with Al Webb, who keeps the clock. I also get amusement out of watching the repetitive interactions between the benches and the table.

How many timeouts?

Two?

I got two?

That’s right. Two.

How many they got?

One.

They got one?

That’s right. One.

Tymori Tribble

I think it’s required that every officiating crew have a stickler. During every timeout he comes over and delivers a small talk about how he likes everything to be.

Arrow pointing that way. It’s their ball, right?

Yes.

Why hasn’t the arrow been reset?

I reset it when the other team in-bounds.

I like it if you reset it immediately.

Will do.

Savana Campbell (3) and girls’ coach John Gardner.

It’s possible that it makes the people sitting at the table slightly more likely to notice when said referee misses a call, but, of course, it is the scorer’s table, so we don’t yell. We make snarky remarks under our breaths, and, in my business, while it is unprofessional to cheer for either team while occupied professionally, it is allowed and, in many places, encouraged, to exhibit several forms of humor.

In general, though, at the scorer’s table, the officials find friendly faces. The job is hard. The accolades are few. I was probably one or two off on the turnovers or something.

The whole scene at Clinton High is upbeat. The girls’ team has struggled, but it’s better than last year’s, and it’s won a region game, and Newberry (13-2, 8-0) is overwhelming. The Lady Bulldogs forced 25 turnovers and held the Lady Red Devils to two field goals in the first half. Still, Clinton keeps chugging away, doing its best. Great nobility resides in that.

Honoring the seniors.

Last night was the final regular-season home game, i.e., Senior Night. Both teams and the cheerleaders received the individual tribute of the crowd between the games.

Now Clinton’s aura of invincibility will be sorely tested. An early-season trip to Chapman was postponed by snow till next Tuesday. That means the Red Devils must venture to Broome on Friday, Woodruff on Tuesday, and Chapman on Wednesday. The home victories over Broome and Chapman were tense.

The Region 3 title is anything but wrapped up. Chapman is 12-4, 6-1, having lost only at Clinton earlier in the season.

Local sports provide intimacy that others do not. I spent 20 years writing about NASCAR, and never once did a famous driver scan my groceries at Ingles.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).