“That’s not what I have in mind,” said Kyle. “What I’m thinking about is an actual monster hunt, a real expedition. Then we do our own documentary about our hunt for Ogopogo. That way we’ll not only get a fantastic article for the university paper, we’ll also make a documentary video that just might help pay down our student loans. Anyone interested?”
“Where would we get the money for an expedition? The equipment alone would probably cost thousands of dollars,” asked Brendon.
“We have plenty of options. For example, the university itself could help fund the project. And we could always look for money from private benefactors,” answered Kyle.
“Man, we will need a lot of funding,” said Ian. We’ll want professional divers, photographers, boats. We’d need to make a list of all the equipment and specialized personnel we’d need to pull this off,” said Ian excitedly.
“I think I’m hearing some interest here, guys,” said Kyle as a smile crossed his countenance.
“Let’s think about the university first,” said Keisha. Which department and which faculty would be interested in a project like this?”
“That’s a no brainer. Professor Phelge from the Biology Department,” answered Jasmine. He’s the faculty member the media contact every time there’s a reported sighting of Sasquatch or Ogopogo.”
“That’s right,” Ian said, nodding his head in agreement. “ Dr. Phelge is always telling his students how the subject of cryptozology interests him.”
“Yeah, but have you seen Professor Phelge lately. He’s in pretty rough shape, “said Brendon.
“He’s still pretty messed up about his wife’s death,” added Jasmine.
“A project like this might be just the thing to get the professor’s mind off his personal troubles,” said Kyle getting up to head for the men’s washroom.
On his way to the washroom Kyle spotted Dr. Phelge sitting at the bar drinking a Jack Daniels and Coke. As soon as Kyle had finished with the washroom he found a vacant bar stool next to Professor Phelge. The professor seemed preoccupied. He looked like a man deeply engrossed in some heavy contemplation.
“Hello, sir. I’m Kyle Jackson. I’m taking one of your biology classes this term.”
Dr. Phelge slowly turned around in his seat and broke out of his reverie.
Kyle, Brendon, Jasmine, Ian and Keisha were sitting at their usual table at the University of British Columbia’s pub. Brendon was reading a copy of the university’s paper.
“Man, these stories are lame. I’m bored out of my mind reading this rag,” said Brendon reaching for his glass of Bud Light.
“Yeah, it’s a waste of paper and a waste of our student union fees,” said Jasmine.
The problem is their reporters. They can’t seem to come up with any interesting articles for the paper,” added Keisha.
“Yeah, they could use a really sizzling story for their next issue,” said Ian.
“ They allow students to submit stories to the paper, don’t they?” asked Jasmine moving her chair closer to the table.
“Why don’t we submit a story?” asked Kyle leaning back on his chair.
“On what topic?” asked Brendon.
“ It would have to be a high interest story,” said Keisha brushing a strand of her auburn hair out of her eyes.
“Well, what is British Columbia the most famous for? “asked Kyle.
“Probably the Vancouver Canucks,” said Ian.
“No, probably the Rockies,” said Jasmine.
“You’re all wrong,” said Kyle. “It’s the lake monster in Lake Okanagon.”
“You mean Ogopogo?” asked Brendon.
“Who else?” Kyle answered.
“You guys don’t really believe Ogopogo exists, do you?” asked Keisha taking a sip from her grasshopper drink.
“Well, lots of people claim to have seen it,” said Ian.
“Kyle’s got a great idea,” said Brendon. “All we’d need to do is go on the internet and do some research. There’s got to be plenty written about Ogopogo and maybe a photo or a video.”
“I believe there’s at least two documentaries on the lake monster of Lake Okanagon,” said Keisha.
“Yeah, we could go to the library and look up sites like Wikipedia, Discovery Channel, the History Channel and maybe Animal Planet,” said Ian.
“Did they say anything else?” asked Lionel.
“Yes, they did. Many of your students have told me that it takes forever for you to get their term papers and lab reports marked.”
“They’ve painted a very bleak picture of my job performance,” said Lionel shifting uneasily in his chair. He felt his face starting to redden.
“Yes, indeed they have. But there’s one important fact to keep in mind, Lionel. All these negative reports have occurred after your loss of Edith. I have also noticed a big change in you. You now appear to be slouching and you walk very slowly with your head down. You now rarely have coffee with the other faculty in the lounge.”
“Well, now that you’ve told me all this Edward, I’ll try to pull my socks up and do a better job,” said Lionel.
“Oh, I know that you will but not until at least one year from now. Lionel, I’m granting you a sabbatical leave starting today. Don’t worry about money. The university will continue to send you pay cheques over the next year. You’ve been paying into the deferred salary leave plan for several years now and you deserve a break from teaching. I have full confidence that in one year you will return to your duties a new man. This university owes you, Lionel. In the past you have been one of the best teachers this university has ever had.”
Although Lionel had been very disheartened from hearing the negative reports from his students he knew that they were true. However, he had to admit that he felt relieved like a great burden had been lifted off his shoulders. Lionel knew that he was not in any shape to continue teaching at this season in his life.
“Thank you, Edward. You have been very kind to me. I must admit that I am far from over the death of my wife. She meant the world to me and we had such a wonderful life together. When I return to work next year I will not only be as good a teacher as I used to be. I will be better.”
“ I know you will, Lionel. Oh, by the way, we’ll need to think of a research project that you will be working on during your sabbatical. That’s the administrations rule but don’t worry about it. It’s just a formality. When you think of a project you might be interested in give me a call.”
“I will definitely do that and I”ll get back to you with my answer sometime next week.” After he left the dean’s office Lionel said good bye to the dean’s secretary, Marjorie. He decided that he would head over to the university’s pub to think about a research project.
When Lionel returned to work after seven months he was still not psychologically ready to assume his regular duties. He received an email from Dean Sanderson asking him to meet him in the dean’s office immediately.
After about a ten minute wait, Dean Sanderson’s secretary, Marjorie Wilkes told Lionel that the dean was ready to see him in his office.
Lionel had been in the dean’s office several times during his time at the university. He always liked the powerful smell of leather that abounded in the dean’s office. This time was different though. He had fond memories of his former visits with Dean Edward Sanderson.. Lionel and Dean Sanderson were both in their mid fifties. Both men had put on weight over the years and would now be described as stout in appearance. During his visits with the dean in the past they would often reminisce about the times that they both were lecturers in the Biology Department at the university. Dean Sanderson had always been the more ambitious of the two friends. He became Department Head in his third year and had quickly climbed the academic ladder to administrative positions within the university.The dean had often congratulated Lionel on the many positive reviews of his teaching performance that he was getting from his students.
Today, however, the mood in the dean’s office was sombre. Dean Sanderson asked Lionel to take a seat in his office.
“How are you feeling, Lionel?” asked Dean Sanderson.
“A bit nervous to tell you the the truth, Edward. The email you sent me stated that this meeting was urgent,” said Lionel.
“I’m afraid that this will not be an easy meeting for either of us. Frankly, Lionel, I’ve heard some disturbing reports from your students since your return to the university. I’ve also made some observations myself that have me worried about you, “ said Dean Sanderson in a compassionate tone of voice.
“What are you referring to, specifically? What have my students been saying about me?” asked Lionel.
“ A few of them have been telling me that you don’t seem to be yourself after your return to work. They say that you have been coming to class looking disheveled and tired. One of them said that you are now lecturing in a monotone voice and that you appeared to be in your own world. Another one said that you often show up to class ten minutes late and that you often lose your train of thought during your lectures. The most disturbing report I heard was that students have said that they’ve frequently smelled alcohol on your breath.”
Professor Lionel Phelge was sitting in a chair just outside the dean’s office at The University of Oregon. He wrung his hands nervously as he knew this was not going to be a pleasant meeting. Lionel got a heads up from one of his colleagues in the Biology Department that some of his students had been complaining about him.
This had been a hard term for Dr. Phelge, His beloved wife, Edith had just passed away seven months ago. He and his deceased wife had enjoyed a wonderful life together. Edith had been a professor in the English Department at The University of Oregon. The couple had met when they were both first year lecturers. As they were both rookies in the world of university academics and teaching they quickly bonded. Although he considered himself as a scientist first, Lionel also loved literature. His tastes were somewhat different from his wife’s. Lionel was a child of the sixties and had read the writings of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. Edith was a specialist in the area of The English novel.
The couple would spend many delightful evening’s at home reading different books and later discussing what they had read. Then they would each spend an hour or two grading papers or preparing lectures for tomorrow’s classes.
Edith and Lionel loved to travel. They had driven to many U.S. States and Canadian provinces. They had planned a long trip to Europe before Edith got her diagnosis of leukemia. Edith’s chemotherapy and radiation treatments had been very hard on her and had exhausted what little energy she had left. She had to go on long term disability and greatly missed her work at The University of Oregon.
Edith passed away four months after her diagnosis. Lionel was devastated by his loss and fell into a deep depression. His doctor ordered Lionel to take at least six months off work. Lionel’s doctor prescribed the antidepressant, Cymbalta as part of his treatment. He didn’t tell his doctor that he had been turning more and more to Jack Daniels during his time of grief.
When Lionel returned to work after seven months he was still not psychologically ready to assume his regular duties.
At seven AM Stephanie was already up and was busy cooking the family a breakfast of bacon, eggs and sausages. The only times when John Richards ever got a home cooked meal was when one of his friends invited him over for supper. Most of the time John made himself a bowl of Frosted Flakes for breakfast, two peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch and in the evening would drive over to the A&W restaurant in the mall for supper. The one advantage to this is that John never gained any weight when his kids weren’t staying with him.
“When’s the last time you got your car serviced, Dad?” asked Ryan.
“Just two weeks ago. Got an oil change and had the technicians at Firestone check out the car for potential problems. They gave it a clean bill of health,” answered his dad.
“But it’s a Ford Taurus, Dad. I was just reading Phil Edmunston’s book, Lemon Aid and he ranked the Taurus as one of the worst cars on the road today,” said Ryan.
“I know,” I read Lemon Aid too.” said John. It’s great for Phil Edmunston that he thinks that Hondas and Toyotas are such great cars. He can probably afford them. Ever since my last full time teaching job I’ve never been able to afford an import vehicle. They are way out of my price range.”
“What if your car breaks down on the trip? After all it’s seventeen years old,”said Stephanie as she passed a plate of sausages over to her dad.
“I’m not worried about it,” her father responded. “ I’ve always had my car serviced on a regular basis and I’ve kept up with the repairs over the years. The only thing you need to worry about on the Taurus is the transmission. I had a re-built transmission put in it last year. We’ll be in good shape.”
After the family finished breakfast Ryan and Stephanie washed and dried the dishes and John went outside to start loading suitcases and bags in the back of his white Ford Taurus station wagon. John’s two dogs ran out to the car with John and quickly jumped in.
It was fortunate that John had purchased the station wagon model of the Ford Taurus as it was able to accommodate all of the family’s luggage. As they started down the road Stephanie said, “It’s sure good to be with again Dad. I really miss you when I’m living with Mom.”
“Yeah, me,too, Dad. We think you’re awesome,” added Ryan.
John felt a tear trickle down his face when he said,”I love you guys, too and I miss you terribly when you’re gone.”
After a few minutes passed Ryan noticed that his dad was pacing around the small living room. “What’s up?, Dad. You look like you’ve got something on your mind.”
“Have a seat on the couch, guys. I have some good news and some bad news to tell you,” said John still nervously pacing the floor. “Which do you want first?”
‘Hit us with the bad news first, Dad,” said Stephanie with a worried look on her face.
“Okay. The bad news is about your Grandpa. I just got a call from your Aunt Meg earlier today. She told me that Grandpa’s cancer has gotten worse and that he may only have one or two months to live,” John answered.
“That’s terrible news,” said Ryan with a pained expression on his face.
“We have to visit him before he dies,” said Stephanie.
“I’ve got that part covered,” said John. “That’s the good news. We’re starting on a drive to Aunt Meg’s place tomorrow morning. She wants our company until your Grandpa passes away. We’ll be staying at her place for most of the summer.”
“Did you say we’re leaving tomorrow? Dad” asked Ryan.
“Yep, I want to get an early start. I want to be on the road by eight A.M. tomorrow morning,” answered John.
“Wow, this is short notice. We’ll have to start packing this evening,” said Stephanie.
“That’s the plan,” John replied. “We’ll start packing right after supper. I’m going to phone Pizza Hut and order us some pizza. What kind of pizza would you guys like?”
“Ham and pineapple for me,” answered Stephanie.
“Pepperoni for me,” said Ryan.
When their pizza delivery arrived John, Stephanie and Ryan got into a lively discussion.
“Are we going to have enough money for the trip? Dad, “asked Ryan.
“Yeah, do you guys remember my cousin, Ronnie?”
“Yeah, I remember him coming to visit you a couple of times,” said Stephanie.
“As I recall he was pretty well off, wasn’t he? He drove a really cool Porshe,” said Ryan.
“Yes, cousin Ronnie did very well for himself as a life insurance agent,” answered John. “ I forgot to tell you guys Ronnie had a fatal heart attack in January. He didn’t have many family members left, so he left me a substantial inheritance in his will.”