Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

July 19th, 2004

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson

I must admit, Wal-mart isn't…well, wasn't one of my favorite places to go. I could feel the dread creeping into the deepest crevices of my soul when my wife would mention going and dragging my kickin' and screamin' arse with her. God, I hated the thought!

I have posed this very question many times, to myself mind you, but posed. What's with Wal-mart? Could it be this seemingly, simple retail shopping center has been put on the face of these United States by aliens from another planet, just to observe the frantic activity of us humans...make that Southern humans. You know, like when you were a kid and would drop some unsuspecting insect into a red anthill just to see what would happen. Oh sure, you never did that, yeah right!

This makes sense. I don't know how the Wal-marts are up north...hell, I don't even know if they have 'em. But if they do, they just can't be like a Southern Wal-mart. A Southern Wal-mart is a church, in a sense! A gathering place for all to wander in large aisles that have been crowded with pallets stacked high with stuff "one just might need."

I have served as witness to strange activities in these Wal-marts from Florida to Kentucky, and the behavioral patterns of the loyal patrons are the same. They gather early in the mornings to perform a ritual that is terribly frightening and strange to the unknowing. They sit, sometimes alone, sipping coffee. They sit in groups and sip coffee. They play bingo very early in the mornin', too! These folks gather in the pallet-crowded aisles and speak to each other for long periods of time. I have, on occasion, overheard these folks engage in seemingly casual conversation concerning fishin', racin', kids, life and death. Even I have been mysteriously caught up in some of these conversations with perfect strangers, probably brought on by some piece of clothing I happened to be wearing at the time, usually a Dale Earnhardt tee-shirt.

Give this a try. Find your local Wal-mart and go into the fishin' section. Stand around and look real serious-like at a specific type of lure. It won't be long before that total stranger walks up to you and says, "Ya ever catch anythang on that thang?" And he will be serious as hell about it, too! Could it be that underneath those camouflage overalls, there is some scary lookin', scaly-faced monster from another galaxy trying to figure you out? Startin' to make sense, ain't it?

You ever pay real close attention to those Wal-mart greeters at their front and back doors? Look real close at 'em the next time they speak to ya! Most of 'em have a strange, blank stare on their face. Now, they ain't like us. We usually say hi to somebody and smile at 'em. They don't! It's kinda like a robot, uh huh, see what I mean!?

I just thought of somethin' else kinda strange. If y'all have kids that are say, fifteen or sixteen years old, just try and dress them in clothes from Wal-mart. They ain't gonna have it! They just have to have clothes from one of those stores in the biggest malls in the state. Then suddenly, they start comin' home and say, "Look what I got at Wal-mart." Or, "Did y'all see where that Wal-mart sales flyer went out of the newspaper?" Somehow our kids have now become captives of the Wal-mart aliens! More'n likely it's those weird greeters at the front door, plasterin' those kids with smiley-face stickers...they mark 'em, I tell ya, for later captivity!

Getting back to the idea that I was startin' to enjoy Wal-mart shoppin'! I don't recollect when I actually began to like goin' to Wal-mart. It seemed to just happen, unexpectedly like! I just woke up one mornin' and drove to a Wal-mart, no apparent reason. I find myself missing not going. I just have to see what's been brought out that I didn't see the day before.

Now, get this. I always wondered what exactly was behind those big double-doors in the back of the store that say, "EMPLOYEES ONLY." Did you ever wonder what's really back there? I know I've asked many of those Wal-mart folks if they had anymore of a certain item I was lookin' for back there in that giant space with the double doors. The answer I always get is, "All we have are on the shelves." Then, what in the hell do they keep in the back? Huh? Think about it! There are PODS back there, I tell ya!

Did you ever see that old black and white movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers? It's a movie where aliens that looked like the town-folk kept nasty, gooey, pods hidden in an old shed, and if you went to sleep you woke up and your mind and body had been snatched right out from under your nose, and your neighbors started to wonder why you looked the same, but you dad-burned sure didn't act like the same?

So, there ya go! There are pods that are delivered in those big Wal-mart semi trucks. And, if you go to Wal-mart too many times and those front-door greeters see your face way too often, your pod will be delivered. And then, sooner than later, you will wake up and have an unexplainable desire to show up at a Wal-mart, sip coffee, play bingo, and wander around in large aisles and buy stuff you don't need!

See y'all next week. ~ Capt. Gary

About Gary:

Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area. After moving a little closer to the coast, his interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."

He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the waters will ever be present.

Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater patterns in the early '90's and has participated as a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting and tying instructor and stained glass artist, creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.

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