As Fate Would Have It …


Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 10, 2018, 3:09 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

How’d that song go?

I was in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time …

On Wednesday night, I got an email from the boss (at GoLaurens/GoClinton) that Clinton City Council had called a special meeting to consider splitting up its Department of Public Safety into separate police and fire departments. The boss suggested I might need to be there.

I wrote back to the effect that I’d be delighted to go, but that, coincidentally, the high school football teams of Laurens and Clinton were playing in a jamboree at Woodruff at the same time. He wrote back that he’d rather have me in Woodruff.

Little did I know that the jamboree would be at the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center.

(Monte Dutton photo)

I had fun in Woodruff. I sat in my truck for a half hour, confident that no football would be played as long as the Varner Stadium lights were off. After the storm, all the critters began scurrying out of their safe places, and soon life returned to its natural setting.

The skies remained threatening. A voice materialized, undoubtedly through a microphone located in the press box. The finale of the tripleheader, Woodruff against Dorman, would not be played. Clinton vs. Blue Ridge could possibly start as soon as 8:30 – it had been scheduled for two hours earlier – and Laurens could possibly play Chapman at approximately oh-dark-30 Eastern Daylight Time.

(Monte Dutton photo)

At about 8:15, uniformed lads loped out of the fieldhouse and headed out with the intention of loosening up whatever kinks had materialized in their sinews. Before the cadence of the first jumping jacks commenced, lightning flashed above the high school. A lightning strike requires a mandatory 30-minute delay. The voice from the press box had already noted that, “if one more thing happens, the whole thing is off.”

Thusly was it off. The announcement passed with tepid resignation. The press-box god had already informed the critters that gates would not open until 8:15, it would cost $7 to get in, and no refunds would be made. Given these conditions, only the few, the proud, the ones who got in free, had advanced into the zones reserved for paying customers, as well.

Little did I know what hijinks had ensued in the august chambers of city hall, a.k.a., M.S. Bailey Municipal Center, a.k.a., where The Bailey Bank used to be.

(Monte Dutton photo)

There, where discussions of garbage collection can linger into the night, City Council was dissolving its public-safety apparatus in a span of minutes. In fact, the meeting had already been adjourned when a former officer of said public safety arrived to provide vigorous opposition.

The relatively new City Manager got a bit hot and bothered at the hostile testimony, and then the prying questions of the media types who had assembled where I had not brought Bill Ed Cannon to a boil. Unpleasantries were exchanged. Even profanity was reportedly used.

Here’s my day-after news story.

The only reason I wish I had been there was that it would have left me with a story to tell more colorful than this one.


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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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