When Kyle returned to his table at the university’s pub, he saw that another table had been pushed right up to his table. Two new people were carrying on a lively discussion with his friends. One of the visitors was a young guy with jet black hair and a stocky build. He was wearing a red and white striped muscle shirt. Sitting right beside him was a young woman with light brown shoulder length hair. Kyle sat down in his empty chair to hear the conversation.
Jasmine introduced the two guests to Kyle, “Hey, Kyle I’d like you to meet two very interesting people with quite a story to tell. The guy is Roland and the chick is Natasha. Could one of you tell Kyle the story you just told us?”
“Yes, of course,” said Roland reaching out to shake Kyle’s hand.
“Well, like I was telling your friends, Natasha and I were sitting at the round table next to you and we couldn’t help but overhear your conversation about Ogopogo.”
“Yeah, that really caught our interest. We had a close encounter with The Lake Demon about a month ago,” added Natasha.
“You’re kidding!” said Ian.
“It’s true,” replied Roland. Last month I took Natasha out in my speed boat. She’s an accomplished water skier. So we headed out to Lake Okanagan to have some fun.”
“It was only fun for the first ten minutes,” said Natasha. “Then it turned into a horror movie. “
“All was going well and Natasha was doing her regular thing until I heard her scream,” said Roland.
“Yeah, I was like, totally freaked out by what I saw in the water. First I saw a whole bunch of birds on the water. Then I saw them all fly away as if something scared them. I took a quick look to my left and saw a large black, shiny hump rise out of the water. It started moving closer and closer to me. I wasn’t about to wait around to find out what it was,” said Natasha.
“How do you guys know it was Ogopogo?” asked Kyle.
“While I was turning the boat around I looked over my shoulder and just for a second or two, I saw the creatures head and eyes just break the surface. If it wasn’t Ogopogo I don’t know what the hell it was. It was plenty big and it didn’t look like any fish I’d ever seen,” said Roland.
The more that John Richards wrote fiction the more he found that he enjoyed it. It was also an escape for him. As the years went on he found that he and his wife Susan were losing more and more of their connection. The couple were doing fewer and fewer things together and their only conversations now seemed to end up as fights.
The truth was that Richard and Sue lived on different planets. They now had few if any interests to share except for the kids. Even in that capacity they had serious issues. When it came to disciplining the children Susan took the initiative. John played more of a comforter and counselor role. Susan could not understand John’s deep interest in books and writing. On her job Susan was an accounts executive. She enjoyed the business world and loved working with numbers and statistics. Susan liked tangible things, things that she could touch. John, on the other hand, enjoyed the world of ideas and the imagination. The tension between the couple led to an almost inevitable break up.
When Susan told John that she wanted a divorce, he really wasn’t that surprised. He suspected that this had been coming for a long time. John understood why Susan had so many issues with him and really didn’t blame her for wanting out of their marriage. Now that they were living apart the couple appeared to have a better relationship. This was why Susan told John that she would be happy to spend the Christmas holidays with John and the kids.
Lionel gave all Edith’s belongings to her sister and found a nice, quiet apartment block a short distance from the university. On many days the professor would not even take the bus. He would walk to work if it was not raining out. He rented a two bedroom apartment mostly because he had accumulated lots of stuff over the years. What he liked most about his new apartment was the hardwood floors and the rather old fashioned, historical feel of the place. Many of the things that Lionel owned blended in well with the general ambiance of the apartment.
Lionel loved music. He grew up listening to the early recordings of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Eventually he came to prefer The Rolling Stones especially their early albums, Aftermath, Out of Our Heads and December’s Children. Lionel especially liked the exotic, eclectic flavor that Brian Jones brought to these recordings.
When he was in grade eleven Lionel discovered the music of Led Zeppelin. He listened to Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III and Led Zeppelin IV until he almost wore out these records. There were other artists that Lionel was also a fan of such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and The Guess Who. Now that he was in his sixties Lionel found that he really enjoyed the heavy metal, straight ahead rock and roll music of Motorhead. The professor had spent a lot of time finding space in his new apartment and eventually organizing his vast collection of LPs, CDs and cassette tapes. Lionel even found a few old eight tracks in his collection.
The professor had to use a good portion of his second bedroom for his bookcases and boxes and stacks of books. Lionel had enjoyed reading books by Stephen King since his own days as a university student. His favorite works included The Dark Half , The Tommy Knockers and a collection of King’s short stories called Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Recently Lionel had read and enjoyed one of Stephen King’s new releases called 22-11-63. This novel centered around the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Lionel was very grateful for all the book cases that his son had built for him. Eric was a carpenter and possessed many skills that Lionel lacked.
The other author that Lionel loved was J.R.R. Tolkien. He had read The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings several times and also owned the DVD trilogy pack of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
“Your input on this project would mean the world to us, “said Kyle.
“Who’s us?” asked Dr. Phelge.
“Oh, I already have a few friends who want to get in on this expedition of discovery. They’re in the pub right now. Would you like to meet them?’
“Some other time, Kyle. I would like to spend the rest of my first day of my sabbatical leave on vacation. Tomorrow morning I’ll give your proposition some serious thought. Why don’t you call me in a few days and I’ll tell you what I’ve come up with? And here’s my business card. It also has my home phone number on it.”
”Thank you, sir. I’ll leave you alone to relax now,” said Kyle.
Lionel Phelge finished off his beer, walked out of the university’s pub and walked across the street to the bus stop. His apartment was not very far from the university so he usually took the bus to work. Lionel didn’t want to pay the monthly parking rates charged by the university.
Life had changed drastically for the professor after the passing of his wife Edith. Within the fist month of her death Lionel figured out that he could not live in their family home any longer. The old house just had too many memories of his deceased wife and the wonderful life they once had. He knew that he would have to learn how to survive on his own and he thought that a fresh start in a new place would be the best thing to do.
The Richard’s two dogs were named Skippy and Scruffy. Both were rescue dogs. Skippy was a Belgian Shepherd cross and Scruffy was some type of Blue Merle Border Collie Cross. All of the Richards loved animals. When Richard and Susan were still together they had three animals. Besides the two dogs, the family had an orange tabby cat named Crush, named after the soft drink. When the family unit split up they decided that John would take the two dogs and Susan and the kids would keep the cat. The two dogs loved car rides but this was going to be a long trip for them.
John and his two teenagers had a lot to catch up on since the last time they’d been together which Christmas time was. Last Christmas Susan and the two kids drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba to spend about a week with their dad. Even though they were in the process of getting a divorce and had been separated for quite some time John asked Susan if she wanted to join them for the Christmas holidays and she agreed. Neither John nor Susan were dating anyone exclusively at this time and deep down they still did like each other.
The Richard’s break-up was due to numerous factors. The main area of disagreement between the couple was John’s growing interest in his writing.
When John first started writing it had just been a hobby for him. John needed to go on long term disability after his last full time teaching assignment. John loved to teach but he disliked enforcing heavy discipline and just got bored and frustrated by the countless extra duties teachers were expected to do as part of their job description. After several years of working in this environment, John simply couldn’t take the pressure any more.
John would be far more suited to being a university professor than working as a public school teacher.
When John first went on disability he found that he had hours of free time each day that he had never had before. John decided to take up hobbies to pass his time and one of these was writing fiction. John would get up early in the morning and put in about three hours at his word processor. He found that he enjoyed both the solitude of the early morning hours as well as the joy of writing. The problem began when John Richards started to get obsessive about his writing.
Blake Riley was rich, very rich. He made most of his money over a two year period during the early dot com. days. Blake was a visionary who had the foresight to see the endless business opportunities presented by modern scientific technology. When the dot com. boom was coming to an end, Blake had the foresight to see this in advance. He sold off his businesses at a tidy profit and set up an off shore bank account. At twenty-four years of age, Blake was a self- made millionaire.
Blake was far too young and much too ambitious to retire. The next business opportunity he looked at was setting up a file sharing company in Sweden. There was a fortune to be made in selling both monthly and annual memberships to subscribers. In return, his customers could upload and download files on an unlimited basis.
Blake was a high energy individual who became bored very easily. Once he had his file sharing software business up and running Blake hired competent managers to oversee the business.
Blake loved to make enormous amounts of money but he was not your typical workaholic. His philosophy of life was to get as much enjoyment from each day as he possibly could. Blake was a risk taker who believed in pushing the envelope. He was always interested in propositions that were high risk, high reward.
Blake had many hobbies and interests and now had the cash flow to indulge himself to the fullest. His personal belief was that one should never have a boring day. If he does, it’s his own fault.
One of Blake’s favorite hobbies was collecting vintage guitars especially Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters and Les Paul electric guitars from the 1950s and 1960. Blake presently had a collection of close to one thousand classic guitars. There were two guitars that Blake Riley was hoping to one day add to his collection. He coveted the white Fender Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock and the red Gibson double neck that Jimmy Page used when he played the songs, Stairway to Heaven and The Song Remains the Same. Although he picked up a guitar now and then, Blake lacked fine motor skills and found it hard to play anything skillfully. He contented himself with practicing guitar scales, cranking up his Marshall amps stack to ten and executing screaming string bends.
Blake’s passion was for collecting. He collected all kinds of things from sports cards to vintage cars. His most serious interest during the last year was collecting exotic pets. His goal was to have his own zoo right on his large property that stretched far out to a lake. So far Blake had a tortoise, a chimpanzee and a Siberian tiger cub. Blake had hired trained professional to manage and care for his collection of exotic pets. He had several business associates who knew people who could obtain animals that were illegal in his present country. He also wasn’t worried about outsiders finding out about his little zoo. Blake’s mansion and property was at least one hundred miles from his nearest neighbors. And Blake had competent security staff watching out for him and his property at all times.
Blake was quite eccentric. Some even thought that he suffered from bipolar disorder. One thing was for sure. Blake was very moody. His staff rarely new what to expect from him on any given day. Some days he would be friendly and jovial and on other days there seemed to be a heavy cloud over him.
On his bad days the only thing that could help Blake out of a deep depression was the thought of obtaining a new, but rare addition to his private zoo. When he went to sleep at night, Blake would often dream about acquiring an animal that no other zoo possessed.
“But how about you, Dr. Phelge? Do you believe that Ogopogo could exist in Lake Okanagan? asked Kyle.
“Not only could, it does. But there is more than one Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan. There needs to be a whole family of them to keep reproducing,” said Lionel taking a generous gulp from his glass of beer.
“How can you be so sure that Ogopogo exists?” asked Kyle lighting up a Player’s Extra Light cigarette.
“One of these days I’ll tell you, but not today. I have to build up some trust in you first,” said the professor flicking a small ash from his tweed sport jacket.
“So how are you planning to go about your research? You can find quite a bit of information on the internet alone. There have reported sightings, a blurry picture or two and an amateur video, as I seem to recollect.”
“No, professor. I’m getting a group of students together to plan and execute a search for Ogopogo,” said Kyle boldly.
“You sure have ambition, son, but do you have any idea how much something like this might cost? Not to mention the amount of man hours required,”said the professor trying hard not to show any interest in this project. The truth was that Dr. Lionel Phelge was already getting excited about Kyle’s plans.
“I fully realize that this will be a massive undertaking but I’m hoping to put together a crew that will be up to the challenge.” said Kyle.
“But how about the money? Do you have any idea what an expedition like this might cost? The first thing you and I need to do is make a list of all the crew members, divers, and specialized staff that we will need. Then we have to find out what it would cost to rent some boats and some video and audio equipment.”
“So you’re going to join our expedition, Dr. Phelge?” asked Kyle unable to contain his excitement.
“Hold on. All I’m saying now is that I’m willing to help you with the planning.”