As most of you fishermen know, Lake Fork in East Texas is one of the best bass lakes in the world. When you drop the line, you never know what is going to happen. But never in my life did I think I would be fishing with a Zombie:
The Zombie: Andy the Angler
When I was selling color in the chemical pigment and dye business, one of my best customers for fluorescent color was a manufacturer of clay pigeons for target shooting located in some out of the way place called Webb City, Missouri. The plant manager of the factory was a good ole’ boy by the name of Hester, who spent every leisure moment he had hunting and fishing.
Since Webb City was in such an out of the way place ( the southwest corner of Missouri), I would only see him about three or four times a year, but I looked forward to the visit and taking him to lunch. During the sales call, we would sit in his office for several minutes discussing business and then get down to the “meat and potatoes” of the trip: recent hunting and fishing adventures. On one such trip, Hester informed me that every year he and his crew would take a week off to fish Lake Fork in Emory, Texas. “I didn’t know that, Hester,” I said, “I only live about an hour and a half from Fork and I always fish the spawn. How about the next trip out there I meet up with you and your group and we do some fishing. I could put the whole thing on my expense account and we’ll have a good time. I’ll call our plant manager in Richmond, California, and see if I can get him to come with.”
“That’s a dandy idea,” Hester said.
As soon as I we finished up lunch, I got back in the car for the long ride to Kansas City and called Richmond. “Can I speak to Andy?” I asked the receptionist.
“Let me see if he is in.”
After a brief wait, the affable Andy answered the phone. “Good afternoon,” he said, “it’s a beautiful day in Richmond.”
“Don’t give me that shit ding-dong, the only that would be beautiful about Richmond would be if they burned it to the ground.”
“Gary, good to hear from you. How’s is going?”
“Have I got a deal for you. How would you like to get out of that cesspool for a week and come bass fishing with Hester and myself at world famous Lake Fork in Texas?”
“I would give my right arm for that.”
“No need for Draconian measures my friend; besides, you will need that arm for fishing. I will call corporate in the garden city of Newark and tell Barry that your presence has been requested on a fishing trip by one of our best customers.”
“If you can pull that off, I will owe you one,”
“I will make the call and get back to you.”
“You’re the man,” Andy said.
I immediately called corporate and cleared the trip for Andy. Andy would fly from San Francisco to Dallas-Ft. Worth airport in March, where I would pick him up and shuttle us both out to Fork. I would reserve rooms for Hester and his crew and a room for Andy and me at the Lake Fork Lodge, where we would rendezvous for our fishing extravaganza. Fishing guides had been booked and I anxiously awaited the trip.
On the week of our planned journey I drove out to D-FW airport and waited for Andy at baggage. When the people started to stream in, I instantly spotted him. The mammoth middle-aged man with a weather beaten face, weighing close to three hundred pounds, was wearing a pink promotional fluorescent cap.
“Hello, Hello, Hello,” Andy greeted me.
“How’s it going big guy?”
“If it got any better, I would be in heaven.”
“What’s with the pink cap?”
“I brought a whole box of them for the boys,” he said.
“Andy, we’re headed out to East Texas; we could get shot wearing stuff like that.”
“Give me a break.”
“I’m not kidding; and when Hester sees those things, he’s going to freak out.”
“We’ll see about that ─ this hat is made with one of our finest dyes we have,” Andy said.
“You guys can do what you want: I’m not wearing one of those things.”
We got into the car, started on our three hour journey out to Lake Fork, and engaged in a little shop small talk. “How did you get me out of there?” Andy asked.
“I told Barry that Hester was working on a new bio-degradable clay pigeon.”
“Yeah, the pigeons are made of some type of organic material and the stuff eventually dissolves into the earth after you shoot it.”
“Never heard of that.”
“That’s probably because I made it up.”
“You really are the man,” Andy said while checking his watch. “What do you say we make a pit stop; it’s just about beer-thirty.”
I pulled into a convenience store and went to the bathroom while Andy was purchasing the beer. When I returned to the car, Andy was still inside. After fifteen minutes, I began to get worried. I opened the car door to go back in when I spotted Andy coming out with three cases of Lone Star beer. “What took so long,” I asked.
“That woman in there thought I was real cute; she said I kinda looked like the Marlboro Man.”
“Oh yeah ─ the Marlboro man that wears a pink cap. By the way, where is your pink cap?”
“I traded her for this.” Andy pulled out a cap from a paper bag that read “Mother Trucker” across the bill. “What do you think of this beauty?”
“I think whoever designed it must be a very eloquent fellow. Do you mind if we go?”
Getting back to the car we continued on to Fork and checked into our hotel. “Let’s throw our stuff in the room and go and see if Hester is down in the restaurant,” I said. Dropping our gear inside, we walked down to the lodge where we found Hester and the boys draining a pitcher of beer. “Well look what the cat drug in,” Hester laughed.
“We made it,” I said, “and I have brought a special celebrity fisherman all the way from gorgeous Richmond, California. This here is Mr. Andy Plyfman.”
“Andy, nice to finally meet you,” Hester said.
“Likewise,” Andy replied.
“Gentlemen, why don’t we order up some big Texas-style steaks to go with our beer and have some dinner,” I suggested.
“Sounds good,” Hester said, seconding the motion.
We sat around the table, drinking, laughing, and telling fish stories, while glancing up at the walls of the restaurant which were decorated with Lake Fork trophies: the place was a virtual bass museum. Some of the fish were so large, they didn’t appear be real. In fact they were not real, but instead replicas of real fish that had been caught out of Fork.
After dinner I paid the bill and suggested that we get some sleep. “Let’s meet at the dock at six o’clock tomorrow morning,” I said, “the guides will be waiting for us.”
With that we parted ways and headed out to our respective rooms. Opening the door, I told Andy that I was going to take a hot shower to get the grime off and try and get some sleep. “Good deal,” he said. “I’ll just turn on the television and see what’s on. Going into the bathroom I took off my clothes anticipating the comfort of a good hot shower, turned the water on and got in. What I got instead was a cold, rusty-colored water, hypothermic shower. Son of a bitch! I dried myself off and looked forward to good nights sleep. When I entered the room, Andy was passed out on the bed with the porno channel on and a cigarette still burning in his hand. Son of a bitch!! I told him about smoking. I took the cigarette out of his hand, put it out, and turned off the porn.
Flipping off the light switch, I got into bed. I had just started to nod off when I was awakened by a piercing snort. Andy was snoring like a bull. Son of a bitch!!! Pulling the pillow over my head I tried to muffle the blast to no avail.
“Hey man, wake up. Andy wake up, you’re snoring.”
“Son of a bitch!!!!”
Around five o’clock in the morning I had given up trying to sleep, so I got out of bed and got dressed. I looked in the mirror at the bags under my eyes: I looked like a zombie. “Get up” I said, “it’s time to fish.” Andy rolled over, “Good morning, good morning, good morning,” he said, “Sleep well?”
“How can I sleep when you’re snoring like a drunken bear.”
“Sorry ─ you should have woke me up.”
I gave him a dirty look. “Let’s go eat.”
We met the gang at the restaurant, scarfed down breakfast, and chased it down with some jumbo coffees. “Let’s roll boys: it’s time to fish,” I said.
I fished with one of Hester’s crew and Andy fished with Hester. We fished all day long without even a bite. “The fishing is dead today boys ─ that cold front killed us” the guide said. I was now confident that we had probably blown the account. When I went back to the restaurant to meet up, Andy, Hester, and others were sitting around, wearing pink caps, smoking cigars, drinking beer, and laughing. “Did ya’all catch any fish?” I asked.
“Not a one,” Hester said.
“Then why so festive?”
“I called the owner of the company and told him about Andy’s bio-degradable pigeon idea,” Hester said. He was so thrilled about it that he gave me a raise and has asked Andy to come work for us.”
SON OF A BITCH!!!!!
From G.O. Fishin': Tall Tales from the Tackle Box
Available at: Amazon.com/books/garyocallaghan