The Occasional Chip Off the Old Block

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 14, 2017, 1:30 p.m.

Mornings like this scare me because I remind myself of my old man. He’s been gone since 1993. I’ve outlived him. He lived on, this morning, when I had errands to run.

When I was a teen, my father ruined a lot of plans because of the way he could kill an afternoon. He’d get me to ride up to the hardware store, or a garage, or any other place where people hung out, and hang out. He’d talk to everybody in the post office, or the grocery store, or the filling station, or, more often, all three and several more.

By Monte Dutton

Meanwhile, not having social media, I’d stare at my watch.

It is my habit to write during the first half of days. I get up, stagger into the kitchen, put on some coffee, turn on my laptop, take my meds, and visit the facilities. Then I’ll sip coffee while thoughtfully perusing the social media that is now available. I’ll check the email, rid my website of spam responses, and, then, I’ll write. Sometimes it’s a chapter. Sometimes it’s a blog. Quite often, it’s a blog and then a chapter.

This morning, I needed to venture out into the civilization early. I couldn’t fix breakfast because I had no food. I had several copies of my latest novel to ship. I needed some office supplies. My cell informed me that a prescription refill was ready.

I had no plans to kill the entire morning. I’m satisfied it was my daddy’s spirit.

I hardly ever eat breakfast out. This morning I decided to give the Clinton Café, which despite its name of many incarnations, recently opened in what was originally a Subway many moons ago, a try. I’m happy that Clinton now has two places where a man can order a fried bologna sandwich basket. I enjoyed two eggs, over medium, grits, sausage, and enough coffee to make me slightly giddy. I also read a chapter of the novel, In Farleigh Field, that is conveniently located in my phone.

From there it was on to L&L Office Supply for some mailing stickers because I was shipping two books to Aurora, Illinois, in a predominantly pink box once designed to transport packets of Sweet ‘n’ Low. I talked baseball with Billy Glenn, which is always enjoyable, and this morning’s topic of conversation was the Atlanta Brave’ new ball palace.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Next, after affixing one of said labels, it was on to the post office, where I chatted pleasantly with other patrons and the lady behind the desk, who knows me well for my frequent use of media mail.

Then I talked current events, and when he’s moving into the new building, with Walter Hughes at Sadler-Hughes Apothecary. One of my favorite spaces in Clinton is soon going to occupy a new one. I fret slightly in the way small-town people do when something familiar changes.

Next was Ingles, where I played my regular game of seeing how high a percentage of items I can purchase that are discounted, thanks to my bonus card. I often let that card dictate what I buy. If, for instance, none of the cottage cheese is on sale, I do without cottage cheese. Realizing there is a certain element of misleading salesmanship at work, I do it as much to lend some competitive aspect to shopping as to save money, though the latter is nice.

Then, the “low fuel” light went on in the truck, so I ventured out to the Pilot Truck Center on I-26 to fill up. By then, nature called, no doubt a result of Clinton Café coffee, and I had a spare quarter, so I weighed myself, knowing full well that the scales there are a good 20 pounds off. I know it’s wrong, but it still makes me feel better. What’s a quarter for a positive attitude?

Now I’m back home, writing. That qualifies in my world as an exciting day.

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.

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).

Fear & Loathing In The Aisles


[cb_profit_poster Beer1]Clinton, S.C., Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 1:30 p.m.

My Friday is going to be colorless.
My Friday is going to be colorless.

We got our 30 minutes of snow today, which was great because that gave everyone a chance to observe the tradition of racing to the supermarket for bread. There was, of course, no way it was sticking. I think the weather has cleared out altogether now.

Bi-Lo was a bit impolite. It seemed as if everyone was in a hurry. People who would normally wait for a moment while I tried to pick from all the Bi-Lo Bonus Card specials were doing the old Bugs Bunny “excuse me, excuse me, pardon me, coming through.”

It reminded me of Larry Woody, one of my funnier friends, at the race track, voice dripping with irony, “All right, look out, working press, coming through …”

I did buy a loaf of bread, but not because it was momentarily snowing outside. I was picking up football-game-watching provisions, mostly for a pot of Texas chili. The beef is in the slow cooker now, and late tonight I’ll season it. Then I’ll get up early in the morning to taste it and make final adjustments for a long green-flag run.

1:50 p.m.

It looks like I’ll be here at the house for the next couple days, watching football games on TV. On Saturday, I’ll hit the road to Orangeburg to watch Furman play South Carolina State in the FCS playoffs. I should be home in time to watch most of Clemson-South Carolina.

Thirty-one years ago, the two schools faced each other for the first time in Greenville. It was Furman’s first playoff game ever in what was then known as Division I-AA. This was in no small part because it was Furman’s first year in I-AA.

The Bulldogs would win that game and the next one – the rest were in the regular season – but the Paladins have won 10 of the 12 since. They were already scheduled to resume the series next year.

When I was growing up, South Carolina ETV had an afternoon show known as “The Job Man Caravan,” which consisted mainly of music videos years before MTV. The host, Bill Terrell, would list job openings across the state interspersed with film clips of rhythm-and-blues artists, some of which were from South Carolina. In particular, I remember Moses Dillard and the Tex-Town Display, but Terrell also showcased James Brown, the Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, etc.

He’d always refer to the show as “The Job Man, Uhhhh, Caravan!”

In 1982, I was assistant sports information director at Furman, and I discovered that Terrell was the Voice of the South Carolina State Bulldogs. His voice reminded me of Tom Hawkins, who once teamed with Curt Gowdy on college-basketball telecasts. I imagined Terrell saying, “Back to pass, Desmond Gatson, looks right, throws left, complete! First, uhhh, down!”

When I met Terrell for the first time, I had a bit of difficulty keeping a straight face.

2:18 p.m.

Black Friday means nothing to me. I’ve never bought anything on the day after Thanksgiving more significant than a six-pack or a dozen eggs. The idea of lining up in the cold so that I could participate in a stampede of bargain hunters makes no more sense than going to Pamplona to try to outrun a herd of bulls through the streets.

I don’t see shopping as a competition. I can’t imagine elbowing my way through a crowd to a table stacked with gaming consoles.

It strikes me as evidence that some people will do almost anything if television commercials tell them to do so.

If I had a store – and wanted to boost business on Friday – I’d offer free Prilosec.

Next year clinics should offer colonoscopies at 20 percent off … on the day after Thanksgiving. The pre-op – the, uh, cleansing – now that would make it a national day of excitement.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. What I’m thankful for is your continued support.

[cb_profit_poster Beer2]