It's said that the Wakulla Springs wilderness - including the fifteen miles of caves which cuts through the water's depths - is home to a menagerie of creatures, both real and mythical: black panthers, rhesus macaques, the Clearwater Monster, the Skunk Ape, and a thousand-pound hammerhead known as Old Hitler. Yet "Wakulla Springs" is less a tale about monsters than it is the journey of one family (and, by extension, the evolution of social mores and attitudes). Beginning with matriarch Mayola, the story of the Williamses is inexorably linked to the Springs: by culture, tradition, and superstition - and a series of cheesy Tarzan movies shot on location in Wakulla County, Florida.
The plot's surprisingly sparse, especially given the story's length and description. ("Wakulla Springs" reads more like a novella than a short story.) Each of the four parts or chapters focuses on a different member of the Williams clan, and his or her experiences with Wakulla Springs and the exclusive, "whites only" resort situated on its banks. Cultural signposts indicate each segment's particular timeline; while African-American Mayola tries to pursue her education in the Jim Crow south, by story's end we meet her granddaughter, Dr. Anna Williams - a multiracial woman of African-American, white, and Cuban descent - visiting Wakulla Springs during sabbatical to study the encroachment of invasive species into the area.
It makes for an enjoyable and engaging read, even if most of the "monsters" we meet are of the human and institutional variety.
P.S.: Free Cheetah!