He was "The Man," at least in his own mind. In fact, being "The Man" was the most important thing in his life. He was "The Man" at the work place, at home, but mostly he was "The Man" when it came to fly fishing. He could cast farther than his friends, he always had the latest and the best equipment, he always caught the most fish and, of course, the biggest ones whenever he went fishing. If you had just met him you would soon come to understand that he was "The Man." As a result he did not have any real friends, but he did have a cadre of followers that hung around basking in the glow of his ego.
Wherever he went he went first class. He was as bold as brass and his bravado and machismo convinced others that he indeed was "The Man." He fished the best water, rubbed shoulders with all the big names, and wherever he went he was always striving to be the center of attention. After all, he was "The Man."
The unfortunate thing was that he lived his life looking over his shoulder to see if anyone else was coming up from behind. Anyone that was perceived as a threat to his dominance was quickly discredited, and they certainly were never allowed with the groups where he circulated.
Although he considered himself as a well-rounded angler, proficient in all aspects of fly fishing and fly tying was the one area where he thought he shone the brightest. At fly tying clinics, sport shows, or anywhere that a crowd of fly fishers might gather you could be certain that you would find "The Man" commandeering the most prominent spot where he could display his vast talent with fur and feathers. He was not an instructor; he was a showman and the show was always all about "The Man." At a fly tying exhibition setting at the vice he was the center of attention, and nothing made him happier. There he could bask in the admiration of the lesser mortals.
Like with all mankind the grim reaper came calling on "The Man" and in a flash of blinding light he found himself standing before a man in a white robe seated behind a large desk. There was a large book before the man behind the desk and "The Man" could see that it was a fly fishing book. He edged closer and he could see that some of the fly patterns were his and he even saw a picture of himself as the man leafed through the pages of the book. The man continued to leaf through the book and then he closed the book and looked up.
"Well, it looks like you had quite a reputation 'down there.'
"The Man" smiled and nodded his head. It was obvious that his reputation had preceded him, and he was glad that somebody noticed.
"Unfortunately, it really doesn't mean anything here. In fact, your life style, your attitude toward your fellow man all weight against you up here."
How could that be? Didn't excellence count for anything? Certainly there must be some mistake.
The man pulled out another book from under the desk. He opened and a frown creased his brow. He looked up at "The Man" and shook his head.
"Excellence does count for something up here, but you never demonstrated any kind of excellence."
"The Man" couldn't stand it any longer. "What do you mean I never demonstrated any kind of excellence? I was the very best fly tyer; no one could produce a better fly than I did. My casting was flawless. Show me anyone that ever did it better."
The man in the white robe shook his head again. "I pity you. Did you ever take time to be thankful for your abilities? Did you ever share your talent with others? Did you ever take time to marvel at the beauty that surrounded you when you were fishing? Did you ever consider anyone better than yourself? Unfortunately the answer to each of those questions is no. Your arrogance and your pride have blinded you to what really mattered and now you will have an eternity to realize your error."
"The Man" sat on a bench next to a beautiful stream. In fact it was a perfect stream with a steady stream of insects hatching and beautiful butter-colored trout rising with abandon. Occasionally an angler would come walking along the bank casting flies to the rising trout. Sometimes they would turn and look at him and they were always some of the fly fishers that he had known 'down there.' They were always the guys that he never associated with in his former life. They never measured up to his standard of perfection, but now they fished for the golden trout and all he could do was watch. He watched as they hooked and released those golden beauties and he longed to once more feel that thrill, but he was destined to sit on that bench and watch others. He was destined to sit there forever, unable to move, unable to speak, unable to do anything but watch. Retribution is hell.