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We all have our own white whales. Captain Ahab first lost his leg to one and then his life. Mary may not have risked so much, but at 94 (well, almost) her tenacity was still remarkable. She did not shy away from an adversary such as Mr. J.

Mr. J was medium height, weight, with a newer truck than her. Despite his age, he certainly could charge out of the Wayne County Welcome Center with an alacrity and sense of timing that left us in a state of confused surprise. We were there for advice on upcoming steps along the Natchez Trace. He was there for cookies.

We met Mary at the door. She indignantly shook her head. She volunteered at the visitors center every other day with her friend. Every morning, Mr. J would speed into the center with a focus and determination that would not acknowledge a singe soul that stood between him and as much free coffee as he could down. While he planned his equally speedy exit, he would stuff his pockets with the store bought cookies Mary provided for visitors. To add insult to injury, he wouldn’t sign the guest book. The one time she had insisted, all he had written was “J.”

And so the cycle continued. She wasn’t in much shape to deny him entry. So all she had left was to delay placing the cookies until after he had come through. Did we want one?

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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