Mama Jean is or was the most popular Elder in the Slabs, depending on your detective work in the following footwork.

Ten days ago, Mama Jean disappeared in the Slab Walmart 500 yards south of my shipping container. I spoke with my neighbor who knows her better than anyone, and he took me on foot to her vehicle in the middle of nowhere. That it, the gifted '97 silver Buick was high-centered, mired to the hubs in sugar sand, and tilted at 20-degrees to the horizon with all four doors flung open. There was a half-pound of weed and her debit card on the front seat, but no keys. Clothes strewn all over and nothing in the trunk. The previous morning, her dog, who never left Mama's side, had turned up at my neighbor's bed licking his feet, and we couldn't trace his paw prints back to the car.

The neighbor took me by the elbow to a poleline track 100 yards from the Buick and, pointing down, instructed, 'These are definitely Mama Jean's waffle shoes. That is definitely the staff she dragged behind her for snakes. I'm not sure if Mama was wearing the shoes and dragging the staff because she couldn't walk 50' without falling over.'

However, seniors are resolute in the face of death, in the 115F desert, and I followed the sign along the poleline northwest for ½-mile to the sandy Walmart wash where it enters and drops due west. The distinct staff and wind-faded prints hugged the north edge of the wash for 1.5 miles to a cut-off track that climbs up to Salvation Mountain and with it the stick drag. Her footstep was firm and bobbing around bushes indicated it was nighttime, about 80F, under a full moon. She walked toward Salvation Mountain for 100 yards, got her bearings, and laid a distinct ten-foot loop as if wishing to be trailed back into the wash and continued west.

In one mile more, the tracks led to the edge of the High Canal about ¼-mile south of Beal Road. There is a cut step in the bank for entry, and no body in the weeds. The preceding is fact, and this is theory – she had arrived exhausted and thirsty, bend on all fours like an animal, drank, bathed to cool off, slept on the bank, and the next morning caught a ride with a good Samaritan.

Where was Mama Jean? The neighbor and I during the next two days contacted everyone she knew, and called all the jails and hospitals. Her floundered car was being tampered with, so we hooked a tow rope and jerked it out like a rubber band. We towed her abandoned trailer on Low Road that people were trying to steal in the wee hours to a safe spot. An ex-military Slabber volunteered to send up his 30-foot drone four days ago, but was pre-empted on asking permission by two police drones already buzzing Slab Walmart. Calls to the cops reporting a missing person were repetitive. A deputy came looking for me but I ducked because 90% of them are incompetent, 50% corrupt, and all green and muck up tracks.

Today, July 28th the case should be solved. Mama's social security deposit is made. Many Slabbers know her password and that she may carry a duplicate card. Within hours, she or her abductor will make a withdrawal. Do you think it will be Mama or an assailant? If the latter, the camera will catch a person in disguise, no doubt, and red flag the police. Or, it will be Mama Jean smiling toothlessly.

Update noon, July 28, one hour ago. The white morgue truck just stopped by with Mama Jean. Coroner Figurero wouldn't let me look at her, said she was too decomposed. However, he updated me. Two slabbers at 8am this morning, who never take walks in Walmart wash and never enter Ella's junkyard 200 yards west of my shipping container, claimed to have smelled Mama Jean's body. They followed the odor past the caretaker's vicious dogs to a VW van on blocks where they found the body. Then one of them ran one mile to the Oasis Café where a dozen patrons were admiring a commemorative photo of Mama Jean on the wall. The runner panted the news, and called 911. Tears spilled. The sheriff sped past my place to the junkyard but could not get past the dogs to the body. Out came animal control. They ran the gauntlet, or shot the dogs, and retrieved Mama's body. They stopped by my place for my version having tracked her, or someone wearing her shoes and dragging her staff three miles to the High Canal. I told the investigator that I believed my version, and suggested it might be an extravagant setup to get the caretaker out the junkyard to pillage the seventy vintage vehicles used in Hollywood movie sets out here. 'It's a theory,' I told him. The Coroner shrugged, and said, 'Please call us sooner next time,' and drove off.


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