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The Writing and Photographic Art of Phil Penne
Tales of the 146 year old conjuring woman living off Loop Road in South Florida's Big Cypress Swamp. Locals call her Mama Root and know that if they cross her path, they'd best be respectful.
She’s a good woman, but don’t get her riled.
She’s uneducated, but don’t dare think you can outsmart her.
She’s small and appears frail, but under no circumstances should you underestimate her as an adversary.
Such is the character of Marguerite MacDomangairt, better known to South Florida locals as Mama Root.
She is a strange and exceptionally old woman living off a very real venue called Loop Road deep in the Big Cypress Swamp of South Florida. In the course of this amazing beldam’s 146 years she has run afoul of shape shifters, hired killers and demonic wraiths inhabiting her dreams. She has heard tell of murderous spinning wheels and horses returned from the dead. She has known material gain and devastating loss, joy and despair, ruby love and the flint of hate.
Should you ever find yourself traveling down Tamiami Trail and see a place called Loop Road, traverse its length and witness its incredible beauty, by all means. But if you go about six miles and, against your better judgment, turn down an eerie looking trail and end up in a general store that is frozen in time, face-to-face with a woman whose very appearance scares you out of a year’s growth, then I can offer only one bit of advice:
You’d best be respectful.
...To his left an aging frame structure struggled up out of the swamp. The skeletal remains of a white picket fence lay strewn around the front and a walkway of rough-hewn cypress planks led to the house. The traveler shut off the engine and watched a thin curl of steam escape from beneath the hood as the scalding water of the radiator loosened the electrical tape. Ap-prehensive in this alien environment he glanced out the driver’s side window, making sure that he wasn’t about to step on a rattle-snake or whatever the hell else they had out here that was poi-sonous. Stepping from the car he trotted aross the expanse of ground between the parking area and the stairs leading up to the boardwalk. He climbed the steps, navigated the expanse of cy-press planks that comprised the walkway and broad front porch and entered the structure. There he found an old woman – old in the most extreme sense of the word – arranging tins of chewing tobacco behind the counter.
“Hey, you Mama Root?”
The old woman continued about her work.
“Yo, Mama Root?”
The tins were arranged to her liking and she turned her attention to plastic packets of fish hooks and several pairs of cheap sunglasses hanging from a minnow snare.
“Excuse me, ma’am?”
She turned and smiled. “Sorry, hearin ain’t what it useta’ be. Must notta’ heard you twice’t calling my name.”
He recoiled upon seeing her face. She bore few similari-ties to the living; her features more closely resembled those of a mummy. A thin layer of translucent skin stretched across her skull, with blue veins visible beneath the surface. Dark holes of eyes were sunken into her head, and such teeth as remained her were yellowed and misaligned. Her bone white hair was thin and long, hanging in tangled filaments like Spanish moss. She spoke again in a voice not unlike the sound of a child’s first violin les-son.
“Need a part for your car, do ya’?”...