No chill in Bob Richey

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – I’m sitting in a coffee shop downtown, maybe a quarter mile from Harrah’s Cherokee Center, catching up on stuff going on back home while I’ve been watching basketballs bounce and swish in two college tournaments.

If I lived here, I’d probably bring the laptop to the High Five just for the music. Since I checked out of the motel, discovered the library is closed on Mondays and found this place, I’ve heard Blaze Foley, Iris Dement, John Prine and Robert Earl Keen wafting through the speakers. This is my kind of funky town.

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Monte Dutton

I’m satisfied I’m the only sportswriter here who tilts his laptop by placing a novel he wrote under it. Now I’ve got a pile of Southern Conference Tournament game packets there because a fellow at the next table asked about Crazy of Natural Causes and I gave it to him. I don’t figure it cost me much. I believe that novel, the 3rd of my eight, earned me $33.14 in royalties in 2021.

It’s the quiet before the storm both because it’s going to start spitting rain outside at any moment and because tonight Furman is going to play for its 1st SoCon title in 42 years. Last night they discovered a way to defeat Samford in the same fashion as Columbus with America. The Paladins played the whole game into a figurative headwind. Furman played hard but not well. The shots don’t fall every night. Sometimes it takes grit. In honor, I had a bowl of grits mixed with sausage, eggs and cheese at a Waffle House.

Good food fast.


As a kid, I went to Asheville often because my old man traded horses frequently with the Treadway brothers. I’d know where their place used to be if I knew where Sky City used to be because it was behind there, somewhere on Tunnel Road.

After the Furman game, a colleague told me the game was so tense that he wanted a cigarette even though he doesn’t smoke. It reminded me of when I was 15, and my dad had his driving privileges revoked, and I pulled a trailer carrying two horses down the Saluda grade – I-26 hadn’t fully penetrated the mountains then – pumping the brakes all the way. When the land got level, my grandfather said, “I haven’t had a cigarette in 20 years, but I’d give 20 bucks for a Camel right now.”

Times have changed. We weren’t tough. We were just lucky. Last night the Paladins weren’t good, but they were tough.

I’ve acclimated myself to the 2nd shift. Tonight I may have to switch to the 3rd. 

Damn, it’s been fun, though. About much fun as I can stand.