I am in Defuniak Springs, Florida. This was the town that Mark mentions in his next-to-last video, on Day 99 of his walk He noted it on his blog.
On day 99 of crossing America barefoot I travelled from Ponce de Leon to Defuniak Springs FL…
Someone tossed a “care package” out the window that included a religious tract. Defuniak Springs and this part of Florida is full of people that would throw a package out the window with a religious tract in it.
This afternoon, I will be at Walton County Courthouse. This is where the mandatory hearing for Sonja Moore Ziglar, the woman who hit and killed Mark with her SUV, is taking place.
I flew into stormy Pensacola yesterday. The Florida coast is being buffeted by heavy rain associated with a tropical storm.
The drive along I-10, and then, Highway 90, the road where Mark died walking on, felt otherworldly. I experienced a sense of being outside my body at times, watching it all unfold.
When I reached the part of the highway where Mark was hit and his body thrown 120 feet after impact, I used crime scene photos and the final homicide report’s narrative to locate the exact spot where Mark’s came to a rest after being impacted by Ziglar’s vehicle.
The roadside area has grown up considerably in five months and hasn’t been mowed. I left a heart-rock that Mary gave me that I placed in my suitcase and shuttled here, to place it where Mark’s body sat alongside the highway, covered in a sheet.
A man pulled alongside the eastbound lane as I was pacing off the distance from the established “zero line” in the crash report—I’m packing a copy of it on this trip. He asked in a rather authoritative drawl like busybodies often do, “can I help you with anything?” He must have sensed my irritation, as he interrupted my count and task. I told him, “no, you can’t. I’m here visiting the place where my only son was killed in January.” He mouthed a bunch of platitudes and hurriedly drove off. I was glad. I didn’t feel like talking to anybody at that moment or for much of the rest of the day.
I don’t like this place. It reeks of ignorance and an America that all-too-often inflicts its dysfunction on the rest of us—like how Ziglar, traveling from Westville to Crestview and then back home, a distance of nearly 50 miles to pick up a prescription (it’s in the homicide report)—just happened to be driving along highway 90 at the very time Mark was walking. Her actions, which put her at fault for killing Mark, will be adjudicated with a veritable slap on the wrist this afternoon. I will merely be there as a witness and a representative of Mark. Mary and I will carry her actions and the fallout from them to our graves.
A news release went out to a bevy of local media on Monday. They were notified that Mark’s father would be in town and that I plan to read a prepared statement outside the courthouse (most likely in the rain) after the hearing.
Last night, I couldn’t find one restaurant—not a single one—that I was confident would provide me with a plant-based meal. Not to worry. Like Mark did for 100 days (and possibly 101), I found a place to buy fruit, a can of black beans, hummus, and some salsa. Mark probably wouldn’t have gone for the processed sweet potato chips made by Food Should Taste Good. I brought these items back to my hotel and had a meal in his memory.
I called Mary on the phone and recapped my day. I watched a few innings of the College World Series game between Louisville and the Florida Gators (how appropriate). I was cheering for Louisville to no avail. I slept fitfully.
Apparently, the Holiday Inn Express where I’m holed-up has a breakfast buffet. I’d be happy for some fruit and oatmeal. If not, I have some carrots and leftover grapes from yesterday’s visit to Winn-Dixie, two miles down the road.