Families who believe in ghosts are ostracized and treated unkindly by their neighbors. It is smart for people who might have seen ghosts to pretend like they haven’t, otherwise people will stop believing anything they say. Therefore, I stress again that I do not believe in ghosts.
And I have not seen one with red eyes.
Another question people ask is if the ‘Valley of the Shades of Death’ is real.
I should hope so, as I am sitting in the valley as I type. I suppose if we discovered the valley today, we would shorten its name with a clever acronym, like ‘VOSD’, or some such thing that would be easy to text. But the valley was here long before text messaging, and the name was shortened to something else you might have heard.
“How much of The Ghosts of Ross Bridge is real?” is the most troublesome question I am asked. The problem is that folks rarely accept my answers without proof, but providing proof is a more difficult undertaking than one would think.
Take, for example, the popular spot on Shades Mountain known as Lover’s Leap–previously known as Sunset Rock. One fellow demanded an explanation from me as to why the name was changed.
I was unaware that penning a book came with the responsibility of proving the glaringly evident to every sourpuss in the county. It seems to me that anyone with common sense could figure out the name changed after a heartbroken woman jumped off the rock.
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that some people like to argue, and no matter how I answer they will retort with more questions. Like: “What is real?”, “Why is anything called anything?”, “Were you a butterfly dreaming you’re a person, or a person dreaming you’re a butterfly”, “Why is there something instead of nothing?”, and “Where does it all come from?”
It’s a wonder people can get anything done for all the debating going on.
Now I understand why lengthy legal disclaimers are at the bottom of every advertisement. Heaven forbid I find myself in court, with some prosecuting attorney demanding proof of the historical contents in this book. It would be impossible to deliver since the Yankees burned virtually everything around here that isn’t made of stone. I could be left debating ‘what is real’ with a sourpuss attorney, and that doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
I don’t want that kind of responsibility. Therefore, I now proclaim that this book is fiction, and any attempts to make more than that will be at your own risk. Real people’s names are in the book, but no claims are made that these characters accurately represent their real-life counterparts, particularly with the surnames Ross, Spencer, Brock, and Coward.
The sourpusses are asking the wrong questions, anyway. They should be asking: “Why did a family suddenly pick up and move to Nebraska?”, or “Why do the lights in the pedestrian tunnel turn on and off by themselves?”, or “What are the flocks of blackbirds following?” It seems to me these are of more immediate concern than dreaming butterflies.
If this book captures your imagination so that you wish to learn more about our history, then I shall be deeply flattered, and consider this book a success.
As for the question of how much of The Ghosts of Ross Bridge is real, I will leave that up to you to decide. Please remember that not all learning comes from books and many truths are matters of faith.
To the sourpusses of the world who challenge this assertion, Mr. Sherman Rootworker would say, “Just because I can’t prove it is, don’t mean that it ain’t.”
And Mr. Sherman is a very wise man.
Shades Valley, Alabama