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A number of years ago, my buddy John and I decided to take a trip to the pristine Everglades. Billy, a friend of John’s, operates a rustic fish camp that I was told was quaint, remote and just “perfect.” It was located in a little town called Everglades City. Maybe you have heard of it. It’s like a spot in the desert. Even if you’ve seen it before, an unmarked route makes for challenging navigation. Thank goodness John was familiar with the backcountry or we would probably still be driving around the wetlands. 
We took Hwy 41 to an old road that branched off in the direction of the camp. We wanted to arrive in the afternoon, but with heavy traffic through Naples, we finally rolled in around 6:oo p.m. John was right when he said the camp was rustic. The cabins had more moss growing on the shingles than the oak and cypress trees surrounding it. The huts had thatch palm roofs. You actually had to duck down to get through the doorway as the palm fronds hung only a few feet off the ground. The circular cabin we were in was half porch and half sleeping quarters (unscreened by the way), with two single beds constructed on 2x4s with four-inch foam mattresses. As I stood in awe assessing the situation, I couldn’t help but ask John, “How about those two cabins over there across the way?”

“One is a combination kitchen/dining area with an old couch, TV and VCR. And the other, well that’s Billy’s place,” answered John. Billy’s place, too, was rustic, but five-star compared to where we were going to be spending the next couple of days. His cozy cabin had a shower, toilet, a plush double bed, sitting area and screened-in porch.

Regardless of first impressions, I was excited about fishing and wanted to get my rods rigged so we could get an early morning start. As we started to unpack, I remarked to John about the large birds that were zipping around our hut. “Those aren’t birds Henry, those are bats!”

John reassured me that the bats weren’t the blood-sucking variety and that they were quite large due to the vast amount of insects in the area.

After settling in, John strolled over to the kitchen to help Billy with dinner and suggested I come over as soon as I was done rigging my gear. I didn’t make too much progress before I decided it was a good time to grab a cold one. I walked the dimly lit 60-yard stretch of marsh to the cabin with the kitchen. As I pushed open the creaky screen door, I could see the guys were one step ahead of me, talking big fish stories with beer in hand. Dinner wasn’t going to be ready for another 20-minutes, so I grabbed a beer and wandered back to the cabin to finish my rigging duties. As I entered, I suddenly felt something on the back of my neck. Instantly, I dropped the beer, fell to the ground and screamed like a little girl. I don’t have too many phobias, but spiders and big bugs weaken my knees. Unsure as to what sort of flying monster was attacking me, I cautiously moved my head to the left and didn’t see a thing, then to the right, nothing there either. My eyes drifted to the thatch roof and as I trembled in fear, I laid my eyes on the largest man-eating locust that I have ever seen! Yuk! 

I wanted to handle this all on my own and said to myself, “Henry, be tough. You can do this!”

After a quick deliberation, I devised a master plan, which at the time seemed like a good idea. I grabbed one of my casting rods and proceeded to stare at this ugly insect that I desperately wanted out of my life. I slowly raised the butt of the rod as I prepared to compress him into immediate death. On the count of three, I forced the butt to his thorax. Crunch…I got him! Well, sort of, but I forgot one thing. The thatch roof offered no support and as I fired the rod upwards, so went a good portion of the roof. The locust was trying to escape even tough I had him pinned. In fact, he was still wriggling around. I panicked and needed help. I felt ashamed for doing this, but what choice did I have? “Hey John! Billy! Get over here quick!” I exclaimed.

Having heard my screams, the guys were only seconds away. One of them blurted, “Henry, what the hell are you doing?”

“Don’t ask; just help me!”

Laughing hysterically, Billy grabbed a chair and calmly reached for the locust. I felt relieved – that is until Billy obnoxiously held the bug in front of my face and shouted, “BOO!”

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