Further Family Fang

As you know, I’ve been sweating this manuscript now like.. ugh. And everything I read was not like it. I want it to be funny and sad and weird. But I just wasn’t finding anything comparable to how the voice of the project is. Well, is when it works.

But here a book is.

I just feel so relieved. Like I’m not somehow failing to write a book how books are written.

Monkey Woman Bridge

I was at a party last night–where I ate gluten-free vegan cake and it was delicious! Not “homemade yellow cake” delicious, but definitely as good or better than most wedding cakes. Like, if someone served this to you at a reception, you’d be “dang, I need to get the name of this baker for my wedding.” And then you’d be “dang, I need to have a(nother) wedding so I can serve this cake instead of some crap.” East Nashville, except for the fact that you don’t have a Chinese restaurant, is there anything you can’t do?

Anyway, at the party was this guy who knew all these spooky Middle Tennessee stories I’d never heard. One was that there’s a woman in Belle Meade who is an exorcist and she goes over to Europe every year and exorcises old castles and then, once a year, her European clients come to her house and play a celebratory game of cricket in her front yard. I love everything about this story–from the rich woman exorcist to the “our gratitude can only be expressed in cricket” part. I’m going to have to ask J.R. Lind if he knows anything about this, since it combines many of his interests: cricket, real estate, and spooky things.

And he knew the Dickson County Werewolf story, which I already knew. Plus he told me there’s a ghost town in Montgomery Bell Park, which I will have to check out.

And he told me the story of Monkey Woman Bridge. Now, let’s be clear. No story can live up to that name. Those three words together are just about as good as “Tiny Cat Pants.” Maybe better. You read “Monkey Woman Bridge” and already your brain is working on the story behind it. It’s like the best part of a horror movie. “Monkey Woman Bridge.” You know something is happening there, that there’s some legend that will be so delicious you cant stand it, but you don’t yet know what it is. Your mind runs wild. Is it a woman who looks like a monkey? A female monkey, well respected by the people of Smyrna, who achieved personhood? Is she evil? Tragic? Lost?

In a perfect world, you would never learn the story of “Monkey Woman Bridge.” We could just sit here together, each with our own private ideas of what that story might be, and each of us would imagine the perfect story, and we would be satisfied.

What is the saddest story you ever read? “Monkey Woman Bridge.” What is the scariest? “Monkey Woman Bridge.” What story made you feel like you could never see the world the way you did yesterday? “Monkey Woman Bridge.”

Anyway, the story he told me was that a woman gave birth to a monkey-looking baby, complete with tail and so she threw it off the bridge and it died. Then she became so distraught that she hanged herself near the bridge. And now, supposedly, when you drive over the bridge with the windows open, you can hear the cries of the baby.

“So, really, it should be called ‘Monkey Baby Bridge’,” he said, but we all agreed that didn’t sound as good.

Here’s another version of the story.