Final Draft of The Lake Demon


Chapter One

John Richards was hard at work finishing up a short story that he was working on when his telephone rang. It was his sister Meg from Kelowna, British Columbia calling.

“John, I’ve got some terrible news for you. Dad’s cancer has spread to his liver and his oncologist has only given him a month or two to live,” Meg said. “That is terrible news. “Is there anything I can do to help?”  John asked.

“Yes, there is. I could use your company and support right now. My boyfriend Hank moved out two weeks ago so I got a lot on my plate right now.”

“I’ll bet. Well, the timing is very good. My two kids Ryan and Stephanie just arrived two days ago. Susan’s leaving them with me for the summer. I haven’t seen my kids for months now and I’m sure that they’d love to go on a road trip. I just wish that it was under happier circumstances. You don’t mind if I bring my kids along do you, Meg?”

“No, of course not. I’ve got plenty of room for all of you at my place. I’d love to see Ryan and Stephanie again. And like I said, I don’t want to be alone during the short time Dad may have to live.”

“You won’t have to worry about that. The kids will keep us both very active.

They will be sad about their Grandpa being so ill, but at least they will be able to say good bye to him,” John said.

“That’s right. Stephanie and Ryan really love their grandfather,” Meg said.

“There will be lots of things for them to do to keep them from thinking about it. My kids both love Lake Okanagan and they like going for boat rides on the lake,” John said.

“I also need to take a break from my writing. I might even be able to come up with some ideas for a new novel while I’m at your place. We’ll make it a summer vacation for the kids and me.”

“When will you be leaving?”  Meg asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

“Tomorrow morning. The kids and I will need this evening to get packed. They are both out right now, but I’ll tell them as soon as they get home.”

“Aren’t you even going to ask them if they want to go on a trip?”  Meg asked.

“My kids are always ready for an adventure. I know they’ll want to see their Grandpa one last time,” John said.

Chapter Two:

“Well, when should I expect you guys?”

“In about two days. We’ll be driving to your place.”

“Are you sure your old Taurus is up for the trip?” Meg joked.

“Don’t worry I have a Premier membership with CAA,” John said.

After finishing his conversation with his sister, John Richards had a lot to think about. He was now thinking about his father’s passing.

Robert Richards was the kind of man that made the idea of his death seem unreal to John. Yes, he knew that people die every day from cancer or with heart conditions, but his father was supposed to be an exception. He was what is known as a man’s man. Robert Richards worked hard all his life as a heavy equipment operator. He was only sixty-seven years old and always seemed to be in robust health. It was a very rare occasion for John’s father to ever miss a day of work because of illness. Whenever Robert caught a cold or some type of virus he usually went to work anyway and pushed through his discomfort. He liked to think of himself as being tough and, in truth, he was.

Although he was always a hard worker and a good provider, Robert Richards also believed in enjoying life. He loved his cigarettes, his beer and his whiskey. John’s dad also liked to eat a lot of junk food. Inevitably, this resulted in Robert developing a weight problem as he aged. Robert rarely got any regular exercise outside of his job. He used to belong to a ten pin bowling team, but had to give this pastime up when he developed a painful arthritic condition in his knees. A year and a half ago Robert had a total left knee replacement.

It became obvious to John that his father’s health was beginning to decline as he entered his sixth decade of life. Many of his life style choices were now catching up with him. Still, it was hard to believe that his father was dying of cancer and only had a short time to live. John Richards has a tendency to live in denial and believing in his father’s invincibility was a prime example.

Chapter Three:

John was not looking forward to having to say goodbye to his father. Although John was certain of his father’s love for him, he couldn’t remember ever hearing his father tell him that he loved him. On the other hand, it probably wasn’t very often that John had told his father that he loved him even though he truly did.

Robert Richards did not believe in wearing his heart on his sleeve and this was something that he had passed on to his son.

John realized that both Ryan and Stephanie would arrive home in a couple of hours and that he would have to break the bad news about their grandfather to them.

 

Part of John Richard was looking forward to the trip to British Columbia to keep his sister company. He had always gotten along well with Meg.

The other reason was that he needed to break out of a writing slump. He had a hard time finishing up his last short story. He was suffering from what is known as writer’s block. His creativity seemed to be drying up. Ideas for his stories weren’t coming to him as quickly or as easily. John was finding that he was no longer looking forward to his usual early morning writing sessions.

John’s usual routine was to start writing at about 6:00 AM. He would listen to an audio book and drink his coffee at around 5:30 AM. John usually found it easier to write in the mornings, but not during the last few weeks.

John would wake up feeling like he hadn’t slept at all. The truth was that he normally slept for nine or ten hours each night, but it sure didn’t feel like it. John recognized what was happening to him.

He had suffered from episodic bouts of depression since he was a teenager. The episodes followed a very familiar pattern. John would feel extremely tired and would be completely exhausted after a half hour’s walk with his dogs. Then other symptoms of depression would kick in such as lethargy and an inability to get any pleasure from his normal activities. It wasn’t long into his depression before he started to lose confidence in himself as a writer.

Sometimes a change of scenery or a crisis situation would break John out of a severe depressive episode. He was hoping that the phone call that he had with his sister would be his catalyst for change. John could already feel a charge of adrenaline shooting through his system.

Although his father’s illness saddened him he knew he had to be the strong one for his sister and his kids. John now had a strong motivation to make changes in his life. He was hoping that he would have both the physical and mental health to give Stephanie and Ryan a fun and exciting summer vacation.

Chapter Four:

John Richards had another reason for looking forward to the trip to Kelowna. Since he was a young boy John had a strong interest in cryptozoology, the study of unknown species. Stories about Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster had always enthralled John. This all started when he was eight years old when his grandmother showed him a ceramic ashtray with a carving of a large serpent on it. John’s grandmother told him that the creature’s name was Ogopogo and that it lived in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. She also told John a story about a childhood friend of hers that had a close encounter with Ogopogo. Her friend had reportedly watched Ogopogo come out of the lake and start eating chickens that her parents raised on their farm.

Chapter Five:

 

It was early July and it was summer vacation for Stephanie and Ryan. Both of John’s kids worked odd jobs during the summer months so that they would have some spending money and to help pay for their tuitions. Stephanie and Ryan both had paper routes and also did chores and odd jobs for some of the people in their neighborhood.

Stephanie was the first to arrive home. She had been doing some dog walking for a couple that lived on their street.

Stephanie had medium length, natural blond hair streaked with bright, red hair coloring. She had a gold nose ring and a piercing in one eyebrow. Stephanie wore a black and gold Nirvana tee shirt that had a few holes in it and stone washed blue jeans with a tear in one knee. Stephanie was part nineties Seattle grunge and part seventies punk rocker.

Her favorite bands, in no particular order, were Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Hole, Nirvana, The Plasmatics and

Motorhead. Stephanie also listened The Ramones and The Sex Pistols.

Like her brother, Ryan, Stephanie lived with her mother during the majority of the year. She had a strained relationship with her mother. Stephanie’s mother did not approve of her daughter’s style of dress, her friends, or her lifestyle. Stephanie’s mother, Susan, was very concerned that her daughter might be using street drugs. Her brother Ryan got along much better with his mom and often smoothed things over when Stephanie and Susan got into intense verbal disagreements. Both kids were very upset by their parents’ break up, but had their own ways of dealing with it.

Chapter Six:

About ten minutes after Stephanie arrived, Ryan came through the front door. John Richards rented a small house from his father. The plan was for John to inherit the house after his dad passed away. This would make it more financially feasible for John to do substitute teaching in the fall. The house was probably better suited to two occupants than three. It seemed that John, Stephanie and Ryan were always bumping into each other. John was accustomed to having the house to himself for most of the year. Whenever his two kids came to stay with him John found that he had quite an adjustment to make.

Ryan had just returned from doing some yard work for an elderly couple in the neighborhood. He arrived home dirty and sweaty. It was a hot day and Ryan’s first stop was the kitchen sink where he poured himself a large glass of water. Ryan was nineteen years old and was very good looking. He wore his long light brown hair in a pony- tail. Ryan had a strong, muscular, athletic build and the girls at his high school were very drawn to him.

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,” John said. “Which do you want first?””

‘Hit us with the bad news first, Dad,” Stephanie said, looking worried.

“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,” Ryan said.

“We have to visit him before he dies,” Stephanie said.

Chapter Seven:

 

“I’ve got that part covered,” John said. “That’s the good news. We’re starting on a trip to Aunt Meg’s place tomorrow morning. She needs 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?”  Ryan asked.

“Yes, I want to get an early start. I want to be on the road by eight tomorrow morning,” John said.

“Wow, this is kind of short notice. We’ll have to start packing this evening,” Stephanie said.

“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,” Stephanie said.

“Pepperoni for me,” Ryan said.

When their pizza delivery arrived everyone started to help themselves. John, Stephanie and Ryan got into a lively discussion.

“Are we going to have enough money for the trip, Dad?”  Ryan asked.

“Oh yeah. We’ll be fine. Do you guys remember my cousin,

Ronnie?”

“Yeah, I remember him coming to visit us a couple of times,” Stephanie said.

“As I recall he was pretty well off, wasn’t he? He drove a really cool Porsche,” Ryan said.

“Yes, Cousin Ronnie did very well for himself. He owned his own insurance agency,” John said.

“I forgot to tell you guys that Ronnie had a fatal heart attack in January. He didn’t have any direct family members left, so he left me a substantial inheritance in his will.”

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 he 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?”  Ryan asked.

“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,” John said.

“But it’s a Ford Taurus, Dad. I was just reading Phil

Edmonston’s book, Lemon Aid and he ranked the Taurus as one of the worst cars on the road today,” Ryan said.

“I know. I read Lemon Aid too,” John said. It’s good for Phil Edmonston that he thinks that Hondas and Toyotas are such great cars. He can afford them. Ever since my last full time teaching job ended, I’ve never been able to afford an import vehicle. They are way over my budget.”

“What if your car breaks down on the trip? After all its seventeen years old,” Stephanie said. She took a bite out of her slice of ham and pineapple pizza.

“I’m not worried about it,” her father said. “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 with the Taurus is the transmission. I just had a re-built transmission put in it last year. We’ll be in good shape.”

Chapter Eight:

 

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 1999, 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, “Its sure good to be with you again Dad. I really miss you when I’m living with Mom.”

“Yeah, me, too, Dad. We think you’re awesome,” Ryan added.

John started to get choked up and felt a tear trickle down his face when he said,” I love you guys, too, and I miss you terribly when you’re not with me.”

Chapter Nine

Professor Lionel Hardy was sitting in a plush, leather chair just outside the dean’s office at The University of British Columbia. 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. Hardy. 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 British Columbia. 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 books and literature. His tastes were somewhat different from that of his wife. 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 evenings 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 British Columbia.

Chapter Ten:

 

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 for relief.

When Lionel returned to work after seven months, he was 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 smell of leather that engulfed the dean’s office. He had fond memories of his former visits with Dean Edward Sanderson. Lionel and Dean Sanderson were both in their mid- sixties and both men had put on weight over the years. They would now best be described as being 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 praised Lionel on the many positive reviews of his teaching performance that he was getting from his students.

Chapter Eleven:

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?”  Dean Sanderson asked.

“A bit nervous to tell you the truth, Edward. The email you sent me stated that this meeting was urgent,” Lionel said.

“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,” Dean Sanderson said with compassion in his voice.

“What are you referring to, specifically? What have my students been saying about me?” Lionel asked.

“A few of them have been telling me that you don’t seem to be yourself after your recent return to work. They say that you have been coming to class appearing disheveled and tired. One of them said that you are now lecturing in a monotone voice and that you appear 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.”

“Did they say anything else?”  Lionel asked.

“Yes, they did. Many of your students have told me that it takes you forever to get their term papers and lab reports marked.”

“They’ve painted a very bleak picture of my job performance,” Lionel said shifting uneasily in his chair. He felt his face beginning 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 seem to be slouched over 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,” Lionel said.

Chapter Twelve:

 

“Oh, I know that you will, but not for at least one year. 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 certainly deserve a break from teaching. I have full confidence that in one year you will return to your duties as a new, rested and refreshed 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.  A great burden had been lifted off his shoulders. Lionel knew that he was not in any shape to continue teaching at this time.

“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. Lionel began to sob and then checked himself. “Don’t worry about my performance. 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 administration’s 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.”

Chapter Thirteen:

 

After he left the dean’s office Lionel said good bye to Marjorie, the dean’s secretary. He decided that he would head over to the university’s pub to unwind.

Kyle, Jasmine, Ian and Keesha, all university students, were sitting at their usual table at the University of British Columbia’s pub. They were taking a break from their classes. They were all good friends and had established a routine of meeting in the afternoon when everyone’s last class of the day was finished. Jasmine and Ian both had an evening class that started at seven PM, but they had decided that a couple of drinks wouldn’t interfere with their learning.

Ian was reading a copy of the university’s paper. The university’s pub was painted a bright orange color and along with the dark lighting added to the ambiance of the students’ favorite watering hole.

“Man, these stories are lame. I’m bored out of my mind reading this rag,” Ian said reaching for his glass of Bud Light. With his other hand he tossed the latest edition of the university’s paper across the large round table.

“Yeah, it’s a waste of paper and a waste of our student union fees,” Jasmine said.

The problem is their reporters. They can’t seem to come up with any interesting articles for the paper,” Keesha said.

“Yeah, they could really use a really sizzling story for their next issue,” Ian said.

“They allow students to submit stories to the paper, don’t they?”  Jasmine asked moving her chair closer to the table.

“Why don’t we submit a story?”  Kyle asked, leaning back on his chair.

“On what topic?” Ian asked.

“It would have to be a high interest story,” Keesha said brushing a strand of auburn hair out of her eyes.

“What is British Columbia the most famous for? “ Kyle asked.

“Probably the Vancouver Canucks,” Ian said.

“No, probably the Rocky Mountains,” Jasmine said.

“You’re both wrong,” Kyle said. “It’s the monster in Lake Okanagan.”

“You mean Ogopogo?” Ian asked.

“What else?” Kyle answered.

“You guys don’t really believe Ogopogo exists, do you?”  Keesha asked, taking a sip from her grasshopper cocktail.

“Well, lots of people claim to have seen it.” Ian answered. “Kyle’s got a great idea. 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 we can find some photos and videos.”

“I believe there’s at least two documentaries on Ogopogo,” Keesha said.

“If I remember correctly I think that Arlene Gaal has written a few books on Ogopogo,” Ian said.

“Yeah, we could go to the library and look up sites like Wikipedia, Discovery Channel, the History Channel and maybe Animal Planet.”

“That’s not really what I have in mind,” Kyle said. My idea is for 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?”

“We would also have gathered the material for a book about our expedition,” Jasmine said.

“Where would we get the money for an expedition? The equipment alone would probably cost thousands of dollars,” Ian asked.

“We have plenty of options. For example, the university itself could help with some of the funding for our project. And we could always look for money from private benefactors,” Kyle said.

“We will need a lot of funding,” Ian said. We’ll want professional divers, photographers and boats. We’ll have to make a list of all the equipment and the specialized personnel we’d need to pull this off,” Ian said.

“I think I’m hearing some interest here, guys,” Kyle said as a smile crossed his face.

“Let’s think about the university first,” Keesha said. “Which department and what faculty would most likely be interested in a project like this?”

“That’s a no brainer. Professor Hardy from the Biology Department,” Jasmine answered. “He’s the faculty member the media contact every time there’s a reported sighting of Sasquatch or Ogopogo.”

“That’s right,” Ian said. “Dr. Hardy often tells his students about how the subject of cryptozoology fascinates him.”

“Yeah, but have you seen Professor Hardy lately? He’s in pretty rough shape,” Ian said.

“It’s rumoured that he’s still pretty messed up about his wife’s passing,” Jasmine said.

“A project like this might be just the thing to get the professor’s mind off his personal troubles,” Kyle said, feeling the call of nature and getting up to head for the men’s washroom.

Chapter Fourteen:

On his way to the washroom Kyle spotted Dr. Hardy sitting at the bar, drinking a Heineken. As soon as Kyle had finished with the washroom he sat in a vacant bar stool to the left of Professor Hardy.

The professor looked like a man deeply engrossed in some heavy contemplation.

“Hello, sir. I’m Kyle Winter. I’m taking one of your biology classes this term.”

Lionel turned around slowly in his seat and broke out of his reverie.

“What did you say your name is, son?”  Lionel asked.

“Kyle, sir, Kyle Winter. I’m in slot two of introductory biology.”

“I think I recognize you Kyle, but I can’t be sure. There’s one hundred and twenty students taking that course.”

“Of course, sir, I understand. If you don’t mind sir, I need some advice on a research paper I want to work on,” Kyle explained.

“You’re a step ahead of me son. I have just started a one year sabbatical today. As a condition of my continuing to receive a pay cheque during my leave, I need to submit a proposal for a research project of my own, “Lionel said. Of all the professors in this university why did you pick me? From what I’ve been hearing, I haven’t been winning any popularity polls lately.”

“It’s your knowledge, experience and expertise, Dr. Hardy,” Kyle answered.

“Okay, I’m half way through my second bottle of Heineken and now I’m curious. Do you smoke, Kyle?”

“Yes, I do, sir,” Kyle said.

“Why don’t we take our drinks and move outside to the court yard tables. I can remember a time when you could smoke practically anywhere. In the good old days we could even smoke in our offices and in the classrooms,” Lionel said. “Oh, where did I leave my manners? What can I get you to drink?”

“A Jack Daniels and Coke would be great,” Kyle said, settling himself into his outdoor chair.

It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and a refreshing breeze.

“Well, Kyle this is my first day of sabbatical leave and here I am still talking shop,” Lionel said.

“If you would like to talk about my research project at a time more convenient for you, that’s not a problem sir,” Kyle said.

“Well, when I first got here my intention was to sit by myself and get completely hammered. But now it’s time for Plan B. I want to hear what you have in mind for your research project, so fire away,” Lionel said, carefully packing his Borkum Riff tobacco into his favorite white Meersham pipe, the one with the king’s head carved on the outside of the bowl.

“I want to do an in depth investigation of Ogopogo, sir,” Kyle said.

“Well, that topic will be a challenge. It’s been quite well researched already. And as you probably already know, or will quickly find out, the scientific community as a whole does not take the study of sea serpents and lake monsters very seriously. What they want to see is a captured live specimen,” Lionel said taking a few quick puffs from his pipe.

Chapter Fifteen:

“But how about you, Dr. Hardy? Do you believe Ogopogo could exist in Lake Okanagan?  Kyle asked.

“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,” Lionel said taking a generous gulp from his glass of beer.

“How can you be so sure that Ogopogo exists?”  Kyle asked, 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,” Lionel said, flicking a small ash from his tweed sport jacket.

“How are you planning to go about your research? You can find quite a bit of information on the internet alone. There have been reported sightings, a blurry picture or two and a couple of amateur videos, as I seem to recollect.”

“No, professor. I’m getting a group of students together to plan and execute a search for Ogopogo,” Kyle said.

“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,” Lionel said, trying hard not to show any interest in Kyle’s project. The truth was that Dr. Lionel Hardy 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.” Kyle said.

“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. Hardy?”  Kyle asked, unable to contain his excitement.

“Hold on. All I’m saying now is that I’m willing to help you with the planning.”

Chapter Sixteen:

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 ability to foresee 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 opportunity he took part in was a business that involved illegally importing exotic animals to The United States and Canada. He and his friend, Jack Kimberley became co-owners of the new business. Both men knew that there was a potentially profitable market for exotic pets. There were people who were willing to pay substantial sums of money to own exotic pets like pythons and Siberian tigers.

Blake was a high energy individual who became bored very easily. Once he had his new business up and running, Blake felt comfortable allowing Jack Kimberley to run the day to day operation of the enterprise.

Blake loved to make enormous amounts of money, but he was not your typical workaholic. His philosophy of life was to derive as much enjoyment from each day as he possibly could. Blake was not afraid of taking chances. He believed in pushing the envelope and 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 in them to the fullest extent. His personal belief was that one should never have a boring day. If someone does, it’s their own fault.

One of Blake’s favorite hobbies was collecting vintage guitars especially Fender Stratocasters, Telecasters, and Les Paul electric guitars from the 1950s and 1960’s. Blake presently had a collection of close to one hundred 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 guitar 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 difficult 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 greatest passion in life 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, a boa constrictor and a Siberian tiger cub. Blake had hired trained professionals to manage and care for his collection of exotic pets. Through his own business enterprise Blake knew several international business associates that could get exotic animals into Canada . He also wasn’t worried about outsiders finding out about his little zoo. Blake’s mansion and property was at least twenty miles from his nearest neighbors.  Blake also had a 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 knew 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 hovering 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.

Chapter Seventeen:

The Richard’s two dogs were named Strider and Bono. They were both rescue dogs. Strider was a Belgian Shepherd cross and Bono 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. Last Christmas Susan and the two kids drove to Kelowna, British Columbia 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 Richards 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 have been much 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.

Chapter Eighteen:

 

“Your input on this project would mean the world to us,” Kyle said.

“Who’s us?” Dr. Hardy asked.

“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,” Kyle said.

Lionel Hardy polished off his beer, left 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 exorbitant monthly parking rates charged by the university.

Life had changed drastically for the professor after the passing of his wife Edith. Within the first 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 way to go.

 

Chapter19:

Lionel gave all Edith’s belongings to her sister and found a nice, comfortable apartment 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 many possessions 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 focused on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Lionel was very grateful for all the book cases that his son, Eric 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.

Chapter Twenty:

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 was most comfortable in a practical world. John, on the other hand, enjoyed the realm of ideas and the imagination. This tension between the couple led to an almost inevitable break up.

When Susan told John that she wanted a divorce, he really wasn’t 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 him and the kids.

Chapter 21:

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,” Natasha said.

“You’re kidding!”  Ian said.

“It’s true,” Roland said. “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,” Natasha said. “Then it quickly turned into a horror movie.”

“All was going well and Natasha was doing her regular thing until I heard her scream,” Roland said.

“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 really 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,” Natasha said.

“How do you guys know it was Ogopogo?” Kyle asked.

“While I was turning the boat around I looked over my shoulder and just for a second or two, I saw the creature’s head and eyes just break the surface. If it wasn’t Ogopogo I don’t know what the heck it was. It was enormous and it didn’t look like any fish I’d ever seen,” Roland said.

Chapter Twenty-Two:

Blake read books voraciously. Recently, he has been reading numerous books on cryptozoology. This material led him to videos on the paranormal that were of great interest to him.

Blake had become quite the student of The Roswell Incident that allegedly occurred in New Mexico in 1947. He had read the literature both for and against the reality of The Roswell Incident and had come to an unshakeable belief that a space ship that originated from outside the earth had crashed in New Mexico.

Official government explanations of a weather balloon did not make much sense to Blake. Why would the US military send in its troops to gather up the broken pieces of a weather balloon? Why would the air force threaten residents that if they ever told what they saw, they would be killed?

Blake even believed the stories about alien bodies being found at one of the crash sites.

Blake also believed in the existence of Bigfoot. One of his business associates had told him about a close encounter he had with Bigfoot when he was on a camping trip in Oregon. Every time Blake ran into this man he would ask him to describe his encounter in more detail. Blake found that his business associate was becoming more and more reticent to talk about the incident. Any time that he did tell his story of the encounter he would get choked up and his voice would crack.

The type of cryptozoology that Blake found the   most interesting were the reports of lake monsters and sea serpents. He had studied the case of The Loch Ness Monster in great detail. Blake had even taken two trips to Scotland to look for the beast. Although he didn’t see the mysterious animal, he had a chance to talk to a few of the local residents who claimed to have seen it.

Blake was over joyed when he learned that Canada had at least three potential cousins of The Loch Ness Monster. These were Champ from Lake Champlain, Manipogo from Manitoba and Ogopogo from British Columbia.

 

Chapter Twenty-Three:

From his place sitting in the patio and his backyard Blake could see his personal bodyguard Daniel Mason doing his security rounds. Blake picked up his cell phone and called Daniel. Daniel was a well- built, strapping young man with long blonde hair tied in a pony- tail. He has aspirations of becoming a professional wrestler, but right now he is being paid a generous salary to be Blake Riley’s head of security.

After the first ring Daniel answered his cell phone. “What’s up, boss?”

“Have you got a minute Daniel? I want to run some ideas by you,” Blake said.

“Sure, no problem, boss. I’ll meet you at the patio in a couple of minutes.”

Blake picked up his cell phone again and called the kitchen. Mike Dawson, the chief chef, answered Blake’s call.

“Hey, Mike can you make a plate of sandwiches for Daniel and myself? We’re going to have a meeting in the patio.”

“Coming right up, boss.”

“Oh, and can you send along a bottle of Jack Daniels and a two litre of Coke. And maybe a few Heinekens as well Mike?”  Blake added.

“Will do, chief,” Mike said.

When Daniel arrived Blake asked him to take a chair right across the round patio table from him.

“Are you hungry, Dan? It’s getting close to lunch time,” Blake asked.

“Yeah, I am a bit hungry, sir, but I can eat my lunch after our meeting,” Daniel said.

‘Oh, I’ve already made arrangements for lunch. You and I are going to eat our lunch right here. The kitchen staff will bring it down in a few minutes. I want to have a couple of drinks with you too. We haven’t had a good talk for a while.”

“Thank you, sir. Are there any issues with my job performance?” Daniel asked, sounding a little worried.

This made Blake laugh out loud. “You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve never felt more protected in my life since you took over as head of security. No, I just want to get your opinions on a few things.”

“Sure, what would you like to know, boss?”

“Danny, when I interviewed you for this job, you told me that scuba diving was one of your hobbies.”

“That’s right. I used to do quite a bit of scuba diving in Lake Okanagan when I used to live in British Columbia.”

“I’m glad to hear that because your scuba diving experience could be very useful for what I have in mind,” Blake said.

“So, what exactly do you have in mind, boss?”  Daniel asked.

Just after Daniel asked this question one of the kitchen staff arrived with a plate of finger sandwiches and a generous supply of liquor.

“Will there be anything else for you, sir?”

“Not just yet. I’ll call the kitchen if we need anything later,” Blake replied.

“What do I have in mind, you ask? Nothing less than to capture a live specimen of Ogopogo and bring him here to live in our small lake,” Blake said with a big smile on his face.

Daniel began opening a Heineken and gave Blake a look indicating total disbelief. Blake’s head of security just stared at Blake for several moments not knowing what to say.

Blake started to laugh. “I’ve left you speechless, Daniel.”

“Yeah, you might say that. You’re kidding aren’t you, boss?”

“This is no joke. You know how much I love my exotic pets, the more unusual the better. What could be more extraordinary than an animal that most scientists don’t believe even exists,” Blake said, rising from his chair his to pour himself a Jack Daniels and Coke.

“What would you like to drink, Daniel?”  Blake asked.

“A Heineken would be great, sir. You’re serious, aren’t you?” Daniel said reaching for a finger sandwich.

“You bet I am.”

“Well, I know quite a bit about these monster hunting expeditions. I actually took part in one a few years ago, but it was sponsored by National Geographic and was totally funded by their t.v. show,” Daniel said taking a long sip from his bottle of beer.

“Which monster were you hunting?” Blake asked.

A look of excitement passed over his countenance.

“The Lake Champlain monster, Champ. The expedition only lasted around a week, but it must have cost National Geographic a ton of money.”

“Was the expedition successful?”  Blake asked.

“Well, we picked up some sonar soundings of a large object in the lake,” Daniel replied.

“Did anyone on your crew actually see Champ?”

“No, but I got scared half to death.”

“How?”

“I really haven’t told anybody this story because I can’t be sure what really happened,” Daniel said.

Chapter Twenty- Four:

Lionel had just got out of bed on a Thursday morning. As usual he was feeling groggy due to drinking a couple of shots of Jack Daniels along with taking the zopiclone medication that his doctor had prescribed to help Lionel sleep. Lionel developed insomnia after his wife’s passing.

For the first half hour upon awakening Lionel felt like he was trying to navigate an ocean liner through some heavy fog. In a robot like fashion Lionel got the coffee maker set up and poured himself a large glass of water. It was time for Lionel to take his morning medications. The older that Lionel got the more meds were added to his mini pharmacy. He took finasteride for his enlarged prostate. Lionel had a family history of prostate cancer. He also took enalapril and a water pill for his hypertension. For the painful arthritis in both his knees and his back, the professor took Tylenol 3 three times daily.

He was also prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants by his psychiatrist. These included cymbalta, prozac and amitryptiline. The amitryptiline also helped with his back pain and his insomnia. As Lionel did not respond as well as expected by his current regimen of antidepressants, his psychiatrist added the anti -psychotic med, Abilify as an adjunct.

As a side effect of the large number of pills that Lionel took, he found himself feeling excessively sleepy during the day time. A few months ago he went for a sleep study at the hospital. Lionel’s sleep was monitored all night while he was hooked up with electrodes. During the next day he was asked to take short naps every hour to check for other possible sleep disorders.

Approximately, a week after the sleep study Lionel had another appointment to meet with a sleep disorder specialist. The sleep doctor informed Lionel that he definitely had the condition known as sleep apnea. This was to be expected as Lionel was about eighty pounds overweight. The doctor also told Lionel that the daytime sleep study showed inconclusive results but that she could not rule out the possibility of narcolepsy. The appropriate treatment plan that the doctor selected was that Lionel use a CPAP machine when he went to bed at night. She also prescribed the stimulant medication Ritalin for use during Lionel’s waking hours. Lionel now had so many medications to take that he put all his medications in a little blue travel bag.

After Lionel had taken his morning medications, he went to his kitchen to make himself some toast. After the toast popped his coffee was ready to pour. Lionel took a knife out of the drawer and spread marmalade on his two pieces of toast. He then walked the short distance to his easy chair in the living room.

As well as being a voracious reader, Lionel also liked to listen to audiobooks. He was sixty years old now and found that his eyes became tired after about a half hour of reading. To satisfy his hunger for reading material that would not strain his eyes, Lionel found that audiobooks were a good alternative. In this way he found that he could add at least an hour or two more reading to his daily routine. He was presently listening to the audiobook version of The Two Towers from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Lionel had just finished packing his pipe with Borkum Riff tobacco when the phone rang. Lionel picked up the receiver.

“Hello, could I speak to Dr. Lionel Hardy?” the caller asked.

“Speaking.”

“Sir, this is Rick Jennings, the supervisor at The House of Hope Community Rehabilitation Center. I’m calling because your son. Garry went missing yesterday evening. Is he, by any chance, with you?”

“No, I haven’t seen or heard from Garry in about a year. The last time I talked to him on the phone was when I informed him that his mother had cancer. I’ve haven’t heard from him since,” Lionel answered.

“I’m sorry to hear that sir, but if he happens to call you or drops in at your home, could you let us know? We’ve already reported Garry to the police as a vulnerable missing person.”

“I certainly will, Mr. Jennings. I have your phone number on a business card. Thank you for informing me,” Lionel said.

Lionel sat down and lit up his pipe. He made the circling motion with his fingers as he held the match to the tobacco. He had to admit that he hadn’t given his son, Garry, much thought during the last few months. Garry has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been residing at The House of Hope for about a year now. Lionel had tried to contact Garry with the news of his mother’s passing. Lionel also left phone messages for Garry at The House of Hope, but Garry had not returned his father’s phone calls. As Lionel puffed on his pipe he now realized that he had more things to think about than just coming up with a sabbatical research project for Dean Sanderson.

Chapter Twenty- Five:

The trip from Winnipeg to Aunt Meg’s in Kelowna, British Columbia was a tiring but enjoyable one for John Richards and his son and daughter. John drove long hours to make it to Meg’s in two days.

Fortunately, both Stephanie and Ryan had their driver’s licenses and took turns spelling their father off when he became tired from driving.

The truth was that John, Stephanie and Ryan were all having the time of their lives. When you’re in the car for ten to twelve hours each day you have a lot of time to talk and catch up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives.

John asked his son and daughter what they planned to do after graduation from high school.

Ryan responded first, “I’d like to continue my hockey and football careers after I graduate from Elmwood High. If you can make the pros that’s where the money is. Heck, you can make more than a surgeon working in a hospital.”

Ryan was a dedicated athlete who possessed both the passion and natural ability for athletics.

“Yeah, that’s great,” John said. “You’re very athletically gifted Ryan, but a lot of kids at your skill level still don’t make the pros.””

“I know that Dad,” Ryan answered.

“Also, you would have to make a choice between football and hockey. You won’t be able to make the professional ranks in both sports,” John said.

“Well, how about Gerry James who played for both The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and The Toronto Maple Leafs?”  Ryan said, impressing his dad with his knowledge of sports history.

“Who else can you name who was able to go pro in both sports? Also, Ryan, Gerry James played in the nineteen-sixties,” John reminded him.

“Are you trying to rain on Ryan’s parade, Dad?”  Stephanie joked.

“Of course not. I believe that people should follow their dreams, as long as they’re being realistic,” her father responded. “What about you, Steph? What would you like to do after you graduate?”  John asked. John was a careful driver. He kept his eyes on the road, resisting the temptation to look at Stephanie.

“Well, if you didn’t think that Ryan’s goals were realistic you are sure not going to like mine,” Stephanie said.

“Go ahead, try me. You might be surprised,” her father replied.

“Okay. Here goes. Back in Toronto me and a few of my friends have started up our own punk band. We’ve only had a few practices so far, but things are starting to fall into place,” Stephanie said.

Chapter Twenty-Six:

 

Lionel sat in his dark brown Lazy Boy and took comforting puffs off his pipe. He began to think about his son, Garry. He hated to admit it to himself, but, at times, he tried to forget that Garry even existed.

Garry had just turned twenty-eight. He had often lived with his parents for brief periods of time. Garry would leave the home, temporarily, when he decided he wanted the freedom of living in his own apartment. At other times, living with his family would become too stressful for him.

Things would usually become intolerable when Garry decided that either there was nothing wrong with him, or that he was cured of his schizophrenia. The positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions would start to manifest in a few days after Garry stopped taking his medications. As these symptoms exacerbated Garry would frequently experience a complete psychotic break.

During his last psychotic break Garry went running up and down the stairs screaming that he knew that both his parents were reptilian creatures from outer space and that he could see them changing from their human bodies into their reptilian forms. He would then try to place phone calls to the CIA and FBI to inform them that two aliens were living in his house.

The last time this happened Garry went outside the house to the street. He stopped cars to warn them that his parents are aliens and even knocked on their neighbors doors to deliver the same message. One of the neighbors became very afraid and called the police.

In a few minutes the police arrived at the Hardy’s door. Garry had walked a short distance, a little further down the street, and was still trying to stop cars and warn the neighbors about his parents. Two police constables arrived at the family home and spoke with Lionel and Edith Hardy for a few minutes.

“Our son, Garry is very ill with schizophrenia. He must have stopped taking his medications and is experiencing a complete break from reality,” Edith explained.

“That’s right,” Lionel interjected. He is having hallucinations and delusions that are telling him that my wife and I are reptilians from another planet.”

“Thank you,” the female constable said. “Constable Myers and I will restrain Garry, as gently as possible, and take him to the hospital so that he can be treated promptly.”

Chapter Twenty-Seven:

 

Garry was medically stabilized at the hospital and would be ready for release in about five days. This situation created a moral dilemma for Lionel and Edith Hardy. They were both in their sixties and had to deal with the stress of Garry’s medical condition for approximately the last ten years.

The cycle had repeated itself too many times. Garry would experience a psychotic break and would be released by the hospital into their care. Garry would be compliant with his treatment plan for a couple of months and would take all his prescribed medications as directed by his psychiatrist. The positive symptoms of his schizophrenia would either not manifest or be greatly reduced in intensity. The negative symptoms of the disease, however, would still be prevalent. Garry would have very little energy and would sleep until the late afternoon.

Garry would be very lethargic and not be motivated to do much but sleep, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. During these times Garry’s parents found that they were still able to manage living with him.

Then after a few months Garry would decide that he no longer needed to take his medications. He would lie to Lionel and Edith and would tell them that he was still taking his pills. After a few days off his meds, Garry’s positive symptoms of schizophrenia would manifest once again and he would suffer another psychotic break. This crisis situation would necessitate another trip to the hospital to have Garry’s medical condition stabilized.

Lionel and Edith talked the recent incident over and came to the conclusion that they could no longer tolerate Garry’s residing with them. Lionel called the hospital to set up an appointment with a social worker to discuss alternative housing options for Garry when he was released from the hospital this time.

Chapter Twenty-Eight:

After two long days of traveling, John, Ryan and Stephanie finally arrived at Aunt Meg’s place in Kelowna, British Columbia.

“Well, we made it here in one piece,” John said. “I told you that the old Taurus would get us here.”

“Yes, miracles do happen,” Ryan said, grinning.

Aunt Meg owned a large beautiful log. It reminded Stephanie of the main lodge at Camp Woodlands. There would certainly be plenty of room for everyone. The house was surrounded by trees on all sides except for the gravel road that led to it. The place was very peaceful and secluded, with Lake Okanagan very close by.

Meg heard the car coming and was already outside waiting to greet the family.

The two dogs, Strider and Bono, leaped out of the car and ran up to greet Meg. They are both friendly dogs that like people.

“You’re just in time for lunch,” Meg said. ”You guys must be hungry and exhausted.”

“We haven’t been eating very healthy the last couple of days,” John said. John, Stephanie and Ryan all loved to eat junk food.

“Yeah, you should see our dad on car trips. He drives ten to twelve hours per day with very few pit stops,” Stephanie said.

“That’s right. Dad just stops for gas and we run into the convenience store to buy potato chips, chocolate bars, coffee and soft drinks. Around supper time he’ll stop at some hamburger place along the way to have dinner,” Ryan said.

“It sounds like your dad hasn’t changed at all. That’s exactly how I remember it when I went on road trips with him,” Meg said. “Which hotel did you stay at overnight?”

“Motel 6,” John said.

“That’s just like you, too, John. Always trying to save a buck,” Meg said.

“That’s right. I’m not making the type of coin I used to when I was teaching public school full time,” John said. “Subbing pays poorly and writing fiction pays worse.”

“I thought you told us that your cousin Ronnie left you a substantial inheritance,” Ryan said.

“It is a fairly large chunk of money, but I didn’t win the lottery. I’ll need to use some of the inheritance money to pay the bills that my subbing and writing efforts don’t cover,” John answered.

Chapter Twenty-Nine:

 

After Roland and Natasha finished telling Ryan and his friends their Ogopogo story, it was time for the couple to leave. They had a dinner date scheduled at Natasha’s parents place that evening.

“Do you believe their story?” Ian asked.

“I think they’re telling the truth. I noticed that Natasha turned pale and her hands started to tremble when Roland told the story,” Ryan answered.

“Yeah, the chick was scared out of her wits, probably traumatized by the experience,” Jasmine said.

“I have some exciting news for you guys,” Ryan said. “I was just talking to Professor Hardy and-”

“Did you call him on your cell phone when you were in the bathroom?”  Keesha asked.

Ryan laughed. “No, he’s here, on the other side of the pub. I had a chance to talk to him for about fifteen minutes and pitched our research project to him.”

“Man, you have guts, Kyle,” Jasmine said.

“Yes, you are the man,” Ian agreed. “That’s why he’s the first string quarterback on the football team,” said Keesha.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence guys. Now let’s get serious. It turns out that Dr. Hardy is starting a one year sabbatical today,” Kyle said.

“That’s really fortunate for him especially if it’s his performance review year,” Ian said.

“Yeah, the old guy hasn’t been himself since his wife passed away,” Keesha said.

“Are you taking any of his classes this year?”  Jasmine asked.

 

“Yes, I’m taking a second year marine biology class with him. Last year I took his introductory course. You wouldn’t believe the difference in him from last year to this year,” Keesha said.

 

“Yeah, I’m in the same class with Keesha. Professor Hardy has definitely lost his spark. Last year he taught intro biology like a man possessed. He had such energy and passion for his subject. And this year the fire has gone out. He teaches like he’s in a daze most of the time. It’s as if he can’t wait for the class to be over,” Ian added.

“It sounds like he’s depressed. He’s probably still grieving the loss of his wife,” Jasmine said.

 

“So, how is the professor going to be of any use to us in the state that he’s in?” Ian asked.

“When I first sat down with Dr. Harvey he did seem sad and preoccupied, but when I started telling him about our research project, he perked right up,” Kyle replied.

Chapter Thirty:

 

Garry Hardy knew what he had to do. He had to go to Kelowna, British Columbia to see his Uncle Ray and Aunt June. He had saved up enough money to purchase a bus ticket. Garry had many good childhood memories of traveling to B.C. with his parents to visit with his aunt and uncle.

The residual effects of Garry’s last dose of medications were starting to wear off and he was beginning to decompensate or lose contact with reality. He kept it together long enough to buy a one way bus ticket to Kelowna. On a few occasions Garry had tried to tell the staff at The House of Hope in Winnipeg that his parents were reptilian creatures from outer space. He had also discussed this particular delusion with his psychiatrist. Both the staff at The House of Hope and his psychiatrist had tried to explain to Garry that his belief that his parents were extraterrestrial reptiles was a manifestation of his illness. Garry now felt that both the staff at the mental rehabilitation facility and his therapist were conspiring with his parents and were lying to him.

 

Garry desperately needed someone to believe his story. His delusion first started when Garry watched his father, Dr. Lionel Harvey, being interviewed by a local television network. The television show was about flying saucers and extraterrestrials and Garry’s father was considered to be an expert on this topic. During his interview on this show, Dr. Hardy had stated that he had once seen a UFO or more correctly, a squadron of UFOs flying in formation.

In Garry’s way of thinking, his father only said this because he and his wife are from another planet or another solar system.

Garry thought that both his Uncle Ray and Aunt June were somehow privy to this knowledge about his parents. He was sure that they would confirm his belief when he saw them in person at Kelowna.

Chapter Thirty-One:

 

Garry felt very uncomfortable during the bus ride to Kelowna. He was starting to withdraw from the lorazepam in his system. The sudden withdrawal caused Garry’s state of anxiety to significantly increase. He also began to have both visual and auditory hallucinations during the bus ride as the residual effects of his anti- psychotic medications wore off. Garry was certain that the other passengers on the bus knew the secret about Garry’s parents. He also believed that a few passengers were also reptilians from the same planet as his parents. Garry’s auditory hallucinations involved believing that other people on the bus were talking about him. He heard the ones that he thought were extraterrestrials talking about how they would sabotage Garry’s efforts to talk to his aunt and uncle.

Garry walked up to the front of the bus to talk to the driver. “Sir, I need you to stop the bus immediately. I have an important announcement for some of your passengers.”

“What’s this important announcement about?” the driver asked, giving Garry a nervous look.

“I want to tell the passengers that I am aware that there are reptilian creatures from another galaxy on this bus. They are trying to stop me from visiting my aunt and uncle. I want to warn them that I have a large knife on me and will kill anyone who tries to interfere with my plans,” Garry told the driver.

The bus driver had once worked as a psychiatric nurse and could recognize the symptoms of a psychotic break.

“I understand, son. I know that there are reptilians on the bus and I know exactly who they are. When we arrive at Kelowna I will let you get off the bus first, and I’ll wait ten minutes before letting off the rest of the passengers. Then I’ll send them off in the opposite direction. You will have a good head start on the reptilians and will arrive safely at your aunt and uncle’s place,” the driver explained.

“Thank you, sir. That sounds like a good plan,” Garry said.

Unfortunately, a passenger closest to the driver overheard the conversation. “Hey, people there’s a whack job up front who has a knife. He’s planning to kill us,” the man announced loudly to the other passengers.

In a matter of seconds, a burly man seated near the front on the other side of the bus lunged at Garry and brought him down to the floor. He starting punching Garry repeatedly in the face until Garry passed out. The man then searched through Garry’s jacket and removed the knife.

The bus driver immediately phoned in for help. He told the supervisor that he needed the police and an ambulance immediately.

Chapter Thirty-Two:

“I gather you guys haven’t had a decent meal in a while, so you’re in for a treat. I bought some burgers yesterday and I’m ready to get the old charcoal barbeque going,” Aunt Meg said. As Meg made the necessary preparations for lunch, John, Stephanie and Ryan had a chance to unwind from their trip.

“The scenery is beautiful out here isn’t it Steph?” Ryan said.

“Yeah, I love Aunt Meg’s cottage and living out in the woods,” Stephanie replied.

“If Grandpa wasn’t so sick we could have a really great vacation out here,” Ryan said.

“Oh, I think we still will,” their father said. “Grandpa’s a pretty tough old bird and he has a lot of people praying for him. I think he’ll pull through and having you guys here will really boost his spirits. I believe God still has plans for the old man,”

“Do you still believe in God, Dad?”  Stephanie asked. “Yes, I do, even though I’ve shown you guys little evidence of it.”

“Mom told us that you were a pastor of a small church when she first met you,” Ryan said.

“In a manner of speaking, yes,” John replied. “The regular pastor at our church was in his seventies and was starting to lose his stamina. He wanted to retire and there was about a nine month gap before we found a permanent replacement for him. As I had attended a couple of years at Bible College, the elders of the church asked me to be the interim pastor.”

“How did you like being a pastor, Dad?”  Ryan asked.

“I enjoyed it, but I knew I was only holding the fort until the church found a permanent replacement. I was just a young man at the time and the congregation didn’t put too much pressure on me. If someone in the congregation was having serious issues, they were usually referred to one of the elders.”

“So why didn’t you finish Bible College, so that you could become a full time pastor?” Stephanie asked.

“The ministry is a calling, dear and I didn’t hear the call,” John answered. “Also, I wanted to have a family one day and being a preacher’s kid can be awful hard on the children.”

“So you sort of protected us from having to live in a glass fish bowl,” Ryan said.

“Yes, but I was also protecting myself. I didn’t think I had the self -discipline to live a good Christian life and would probably fail as a minister.”

Chapter Thirty-Three:

Lionel Hardy knew that it was possible that he might hear from his son, Garry, in a day or two. If Garry had gone AWOL from the mental health center, he would likely run out of options trying to find suitable living accommodations. Consequently, Lionel would either get a phone call from Garry, or his son would simply show up at his door unannounced.

Until that time, Lionel would give Kyle’s proposition some thought. Lionel felt that it was time that he stopped grieving and feeling sorry for himself. He was still a relatively young man who needed a new challenge in his life.

Also, planning this expedition would give him a chance to work with young people. Lionel had always liked having young students in his classroom. He felt that this helped keep him up with the trends in youth culture. Lionel held no illusions that his generation was superior to the youth of today.

Dr. Hardy was not yet ready to tell Kyle that he had once had a close encounter with Ogopogo. When Lionel was sixteen he and a few of his friends decided to camp out close to Lake Okanagan. They hung out, drank beer, toasted wieners, told stories and generally had a grand old time. One of his friends brought along his acoustic guitar. The more beer that the group consumed the more they sang along with old classics like Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys and Hang On Sloopy by the McCoys.

As the weather was still fairly warm and the camp fire was adding to the heat, Lionel and his friend Kerry decided to cool off by taking a speed boat for a ride. They figured that they would drive the boat out a little ways, anchor it and then go for a swim.

The sun was just starting to set when Lionel and Kerry jumped into the water and started their swim. They both dove several feet under water. Kerry spotted what appeared to be a large log drifting towards them. As they were swimming in the direction of the log the boys noticed that the object was moving in an undulating, serpentine manner and had paddles. Lionel and Kerry both became extremely frightened when they realized that what they were approaching was not a log, but a large living creature. The two young men hurriedly turned around and swam towards their boat. Just as they started up the speed boat, they felt the bottom of the boat take an alarming jolt. Lionel pushed the throttle full speed ahead as the boys headed back to camp.

When they joined the rest of their friends by the camp fire both boys were trembling and appeared to be in a daze.

Chapter Thirty-Four:

Dr. Lionel Hardy decided that it was time to give Dean Sanderson a phone call. “Hello Edward. I have some ideas concerning my sabbatical research project. When can we meet?”

“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon, Lionel. I thought you would be at home resting up and enjoying your holidays for a few days,” Dean Sanderson replied. “If you feel up to it we could meet for lunch this afternoon. There is a new Chinese restaurant not far from the university that I’d like to try out. You just drive to the university and we can go in my car. Can you be here by noon?”

“I sure can. I’ll come up to your office at noon,” Lionel said.

At around 12:15 PM Dean Sanderson and Lionel arrived at The Shangri La restaurant. A waiter took their order and then brought the two men some Chinese tea.

“I’m amazed that you came up with a project idea so quickly, Lionel,” Dean Sanderson said.

“Actually, so am I. After our last meeting I walked over to the university’s pub and decided to have a couple of drinks to celebrate my sabbatical leave. After about fifteen minutes one of my students sat down next to me at the bar and said that he had an idea for a research project that he wanted to discuss with me. The student’s name is Kyle Winter.”

“Oh, yes, our university’s star quarterback. I’ve talked to Kyle on a couple of occasions. He’s a very determined young man. I imagine he’ll go a long way in life.”

“That’s the impression I got. He’s sure not shy. That’s for sure,” Lionel said.

“Well, you certainly have me curious, Lionel. What idea did Kyle have for a research project?”  Dean Sanderson asked.

“A thorough investigation into the possible existence of Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan.”

“Wow. Are you and Kyle going to work together on this project?”

“That’s the plan. Kyle mentioned that he also has some student associates of his that are also interested. The next thing I’ll do is arrange for a meeting to be set up where I get to meet his friends and start planning our project.”

Chapter Thirty-Five:

John, Stephanie and Ryan hungrily ate the burgers that Meg barbecued. They all had time to catch up on what had transpired in each other’s lives since the last time they were altogether. After lunch everybody went for a nap.

Ryan was so exhausted after the long car trip that he slept for two hours. When he arose it was close to 4:00 PM. Ryan pulled a Rockstar Energy drink out of his back pack along with his mp3 player. While he drank the Rockstar, Ryan listened to Led Zeppelin’s, The Song Remains the Same. This had always been his favorite album by Led Zeppelin. His favorite track was the live version of Stairway to Heaven.

When he felt fully awake again, he headed downstairs to Aunt Meg’s living room. The others were all watching an episode of X-Factor that Meg had recorded. It was one of those episodes where the judges were auditioning potential contestants and some of the performances were horrible. Ryan wasn’t that interested in watching the show. He told the others that he was going out for a jog and would probably do some exploring.

A couple of minutes into his jog, Ryan turned around to see a very attractive young woman wearing a B. C. Lions jersey. She asked Ryan if he minded having some company on his jog.

Ryan told her that he would be delighted as he was just vacationing in Kelowna and really didn’t know anyone besides his family and relatives.

“Let’s stop for a few minutes and talk,” the attractive, young female jogger suggested. “We should introduce ourselves. My name is Monique Painchaud. I’m from Montreal, Quebec.””

Ryan stopped running and extended his hand, “Pleased to meet you. I’m Ryan Richards from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Obviously you speak English, Monique.”

“That’s right. I’m fluently bilingual in both French and English. I have just been in Kelowna for a week. My mother lives in Kelowna and I spend the summer months with her. During the winter months I attend university and live with my dad in Montreal,” Monique said.

“I hate to be so blunt, but are you married or do you have a boyfriend?”  Ryan asked shyly.

“Neither,” Monique replied. “How about you?”

“The same. I’m a free agent right now,” Ryan said.

“Free agent, eh,” Monique laughed. “You must be interested in sports.”

“I am. I played both hockey and football at my high school. I just graduated this year.”

“What are you going to do in the fall?” Monique asked.

“I’ve applied at The University of Manitoba and intend on trying out for both their football and hockey teams.”

“What area of studies do you want to major in?”  Monique asked.

“Education. I’m signing up for the four year Bachelor of Education degree.”

“So you want to be a teacher?”

“That’s plan B. I’d rather be a professional athlete,” Ryan said.

“You’d make a lot more money. That’s for sure.”

“What do you study at university, Monique?”

“I’ll be starting my third year at The Faculty of Education.”

“Ah, so we’re looking at two potential teachers here,” Ryan said.

“Hey, Ryan, there’s a diner about a mile from here. Do you want to stop there for lunch?”

“That sounds like a plan to me.”

Chapter Thirty-Six:

Ryan and Monique jogged very well together as they were both in excellent physical condition. After about five minutes had elapsed, Monique glanced to her right to take a look at Lake Okanagan. About fifty meters away she saw a large object moving in the water. It appeared to be black in color and had a cylindrical shape. To Monique, it looked like a living creature. She knew it was not a boat.

Monique stopped jogging abruptly and turned to Ryan. “Stop Ryan. What’s that in the lake?”

Ryan stopped running and turned his head to look toward the lake. “I’m not sure, but it definitely looks like some kind of animal.”

“Look it’s moving in undulations and looks like some kind of whale,” Monique observed.

“As far as I know there aren’t any whales in Lake Okanagan. At least any that look like that,” Ryan said.

Ryan had a pair of powerful binoculars in his back pack. He took them out and got a close up view of the creature in the water. Ryan felt chills when he saw the animal’s head surface. “I know what it is now,” he said in a shaky voice.

“What is it?”  Monique asked.

“It’s Ogopogo. The First Nations people called it the lake demon.”

“You mean it’s the real live version of the toy things they sell to tourists in the local stores?”  Monique asked.

“It has to be. I’ve never seen a fish or other animal that looks like that creature in the lake. Do you have a camera, Monique?”

“Yes, I do. I have a digital Samsung in my back pack.

I’ll take a picture of it.”

Monique quickly took out her camera and snapped two pictures of the animal. Just after she took the pictures she saw a fishing boat about one hundred meters away. The creature then submerged back into the lake.

“Wow, you took those pictures right on time,” Ryan said. “Let’s have a look how they turned out.”

Ryan and Monique both studied the preview pictures on her camera. The creature appeared to be very small and a great distance away.

“Well, your pictures will never stand as conclusive scientific evidence of the existence of Ogopogo, but at least we know what we saw and have pictures to back it up,” Ryan said.

“Did you believe in Ogopogo before you saw it today?’  Monique asked.

“I did, although this was my first actual sighting of the creature. My dad and I have both been interested in cryptozoology for years.”

“What’s cryptozoology? Monique inquired.

“It’s the study of unknown species like Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster.”

Chapter Thirty-Seven:

 

About an hour later Ryan and Monique stopped running when they approached a Tim Horton’s coffee shop. When they entered the shop it was quite crowded. They managed to find two empty seats next to two middle aged gentlemen. The two men are engaged in an animated discussion.

“Henry, what do you think that thing was that we saw in the lake?”  Harvey asked.

“It’s hard to say. It was too far away,” Henry replied.

“All I’m saying is that there have been several reported sightings of Ogopogo over the last month,” Harvey said.

“That doesn’t mean anything. A few years ago there were a bunch of ufo sightings over Brazil. Nobody captured any ufos.”

“That doesn’t mean that ufos don’t exist.”

“I suppose not, but I’m not going to go around telling people that we saw Ogopogo today,” Henry said.

“I agree that whatever we saw was over one hundred meters away, but it appeared to be approaching fast and then it suddenly submerged when our boat came around the corner,” Harvey said.

“That’s what is known as circumstantial evidence,” Henry said in response.

“Maybe not,” Ryan said turning around in his chair to face the two fishermen.

“What do you mean, son?”  Harvey asked adjusting the blue lumberjack jacket that he wore over his black tee shirt.

“I’m sorry. We should have introduced ourselves. My name is Ryan and my new friend to my left is Monique.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Henry said. “But you still haven’t answered our question.”

“Was your fishing boat anywhere near Rattlesnake Island about an hour ago?”  Monique asked.

“Yes, it was. How did you know?”  Harvey said.

“Monique and I were jogging on a trail near the bank close to Rattlesnake Island. Monique had just taken two pictures of the creature you saw when your boat rounded the corner,” Ryan said.

“How do you know it was a living creature?”  Henry asked. He pushed his chair closer to the table.

“Oh, it was a very large, living animal all right,” Ryan said also moving his chair closer to the round table.

“It certainly wasn’t a boat or a log. I managed to take a couple of pictures of it before it submerged,” Monique added.

“Fortunately I had a pair of professional grade binoculars. I got a good close up look when the creature raised its head,” Ryan said.

“You got a look at its head? Can we see those pictures?”  Harvey asked.

“Yeah, no problem,” Monique said.

Chapter Thirty-Eight:

 

Blake Riley got out of his chair to get himself another Heineken. He turned towards Daniel, his personal bodyguard and said. “Do you think any of the crew from the Champ project might be interested in another exploration?”

“For Champ?”  Daniel asked looking at his boss quizzically.

“No. This time it will be an expedition in search of Ogopogo,” Blake replied.

“If the money was right, they probably would. National Geographic paid them very generously for their time and efforts.”

“Money won’t be an issue. I can pay them much better than National Geographic did.  Can you contact the crew?”

“I still keep in touch with the boat’s captain. The other crew members come from all over the world, but he probably knows how to reach them.”

“Starting tomorrow Daniel, that’s your first duty. I want you to phone the captain and ask him to contact the rest of his crew. I’ll be working in my office all day tomorrow so you’ll have plenty of time to make phone calls. If I need any additional security for tomorrow, I’ll hire some extra staff.”

“Are you serious boss? Do you really want me to call the captain?”

“I’ve never been more serious in my life,” Blake Riley replied.

Chapter Thirty-Nine:

Within minutes the police and the paramedics arrived on the scene. An RCMP officer got on the Greyhound bus and first looked around to assess the situation. The first thing he saw was Garry lying unconscious on the floor of the bus. Blood was dripping from Garry’s nose, mouth and ears. Blue and yellow bruises were already visible on his face.

The RCMP officer quickly and efficiently took charge. “I need all of you people, except the bus driver, to get off the bus right now. I need a few minutes to talk to the driver and the paramedic team is going to need room to assist the man who is down.”

The officer gave the signal for the paramedics to board the bus as soon as all the passengers had exited.

A male paramedic was the first to examine Garry. He put his ear close to Garry’s nose and mouth to make sure that his patient was still breathing. A female paramedic put a finger on Garry’s carotid artery in order to ascertain that Garry had a pulse. The lead paramedic then announced to the rest of the team, “The patient is breathing and has a pulse,”

He asked Garry how he was doing to find out if his patient was conscious.

Garry responded by saying,

“A big man beat me up and I hurt like crazy.”

A female paramedic said, “Don’t worry, sir. We’re paramedics and we will take you to the hospital.

Two paramedics slowly and carefully put Garry on a stretcher. Garry howled in pain.

“The patient may have some broken ribs,” said one of the paramedics. In about two minutes Garry was in the ambulance and was taken to the nearest hospital.

The RCMP officer now had an opportunity to talk to the bus driver privately.

“What happened, sir?” the officer asked.

“The young man that they took to the hospital came to the front of the bus to tell me that the bus was full of reptilian creatures who were trying to prevent him from visiting his relatives. I tried to assure the man that I would keep him safe and would let him off the bus early. Some passengers sitting close to the front heard us talking and started freaking out when they overheard the young man say he had a knife. A big, overweight guy jumped on the young man and started to repeatedly punch him in the face. He then proceeded to kick the victim in the ribs with his steel toe work boots.”

Chapter Forty:

“The pictures were taken from too far away,” Henry said studying Monique’s pictures.

Although Henry was still skeptical, the two men agreed to exchange phone numbers with Ryan and Monique before leaving the restaurant.

“Where do you want to go now?”  Monique asked reaching behind her head to tighten her ponytail.

“Let’s go to my Aunt Meg’s. I can’t wait to tell her, my dad and my sister about what we saw today. And I can’t wait to introduce you to my family,” Ryan said.

“That’s very sweet,” Monique said smiling. “I’d love to meet your family.”

Ryan and Monique jogged all the way back to Aunt Meg’s log cabin. As Ryan pointed out his aunt’s residence Monique said, “It’s beautiful Ryan. Are you going to stay here all summer?”

“That’s the plan. Our grandfather is very ill with cancer and is staying at a hospital in Kelowna,” Ryan answered.

“I’m very sorry to hear that your grandfather is ill, but I’m glad that you’ll be staying for the summer,” Monique said.

“It looks like this might be our grandfather’s last summer and my family wanted to be here to say goodbye to him.”

“That’s really sad, Ryan. Have you visited your grandpa in the hospital yet?”

“Not yet. My dad and my sister and I just arrived today. We’ll be seeing Grandpa tomorrow morning,” Ryan said.

“And you met me your first day of vacation. How cool is that?”  Monique said.

“I think it’s very cool. Even though this is going to be a sad time because of my grandpa, our family still plans to have some fun this summer.”

“And will I be part of your fun, Ryan?” Monique asked.

“You already are,” Ryan replied.

Ryan opened the front door and invited Monique into his aunt’s log cabin. “I brought along a friend. Her name is Monique.”

Stephanie was the first to greet Monique. “Are you from Kelowna, Monique?”

“No, I’m from Montreal. I’m going to be saying here with my mom for the summer.”

Chapter Forty-One:

Ryan’s father was just coming down the stairs after taking a short nap. During his nap he dreamed that he saw Ogopogo. John Richards could see that his son had brought home a guest and he was eager to meet her. Ryan’s father was immediately struck by how attractive Monique looked.

This shouldn’t have surprised him as Ryan had brought home many beautiful girls. Still, there was something different about Monique. She was so full of joy that she almost seemed to glow.

As soon as John got to the bottom of the stairs he extended his hand to Monique. “Hi, Monique. I’m Ryan’s father. I’m surprised that my son made a new friend so quickly. This is our first day here.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you, sir,” Monique said.

“You’re very polite, but you don’t need to call me, sir. ‘John’, will do just fine.”

“Okay, I’m very pleased to meet you, John.”

This made John laugh. “Why don’t you and Ryan have a seat on the sofa?”

Aunt Meg had just come in through the back door. She had been in the backyard picking vegetables from her garden. Ryan introduced her to Monique.

“Can I get you guys something to drink?” Meg asked.

“I put a twelve pack of Cokes in the fridge before I went for my nap. Maybe our guest would like a Coke,” John said.

“That would be awesome,” Monique said. “Ryan and I just got back from a jog.”

“You found another jock for a friend, Ryan, and a very good looking one at that,” Stephanie said getting off the couch to get some Cokes from the fridge.

“Actually, Monique’s studying to be a teacher like me.” Ryan replied.

“Your first day together and you already found two things in common,” John said.

“Three, actually,” Meg said. “The two of them are also very good looking.”

“Did you have a good nap, Dad?” Ryan asked.

“It wasn’t very restful. I had a terrifying dream about Ogopogo turning my boat over,” John answered.

“What a strange coincidence!” Ryan said. “You guys aren’t going to believe what happened when we went for a jog by the lake.”

“Let me guess. You two fell madly in love and now you’re engaged,” Stephanie said with a grin, pleased by her own wit .

Chapter Forty-Two:

Dean Sanderson turned his chair and moved closer to Dr. Lionel Hardy.

“Lionel, I may be crazy, but I actually like your idea. Your timing is right. There have been a record number of reported Ogopogo sightings this summer. People are curious to know what others are seeing in Lake Okanagan. A well planned and executed research investigation conducted by The University of British Columbia would carry a lot of weight. How soon can you get your students together for the first planning meeting?”

“Probably in a matter of a few days. I know that Kyle Winter is chomping at the bit. He’s a real go getter,” Lionel answered.

“That’s great. Give me a call as soon as you have a verified meeting time set up.”

There was something weighing heavily on the dean’s mind. “I hate to have to ask you this, Lionel, but are you up to a project like this? This project will require a lot of time and energy. It could also be physically demanding.”

“Yes, I’m ready for this,” Lionel replied. “I needed something to break me out of the funk I have been in over the last year, and I believe this expedition is just what the doctor ordered.”

“You’re starting to sound like the Lionel Hardy I used to know, before Edith’s passing. I’m both relieved and happy for you. We’ve been close friends and colleagues for many years now and I’ve been very worried about you,” Dean Sanderson said.

“I’ll call you with the meeting info in a day or two. Where should we hold the first planning meeting?”

“Right here in my office. Bring along all the students that want to be involved with the project,” Dean Sanderson said.

Just as Lionel got up from his chair he noticed something on the dean’s bookshelf directly behind his large oak desk. Lionel stood up and pointed to it.

“What’s that object on your bookshelf?”  Lionel asked. Dean Sanderson turned around in his swivel chair to see what his friend was referring to.

“This object, you mean?”

“Yes,”

Dean Sanderson started to laugh. It’s a clay model I made of Ogopogo when I was in grade five.”

 

“I didn’t know that you also had an interest in Ogopogo?”

“Since I was a little boy,” the dean replied.

Chapter Forty-Three

Bobby O’Connor was in a daze. He was reliving his recent talk with his editor. A sinking, nauseous feeling had come over him. His reverie was broken when he started to overhear the conversation that Ryan and Monique had just had at the next table. The two fishermen that they were previously talking to had now left the Tim Hortons. Bobby O’Conner overheard the word Ogopogo mentioned. He was listening to Ryan and Monique debrief their adventure today.

Bobby moved his chair closer to Ryan and Monique’s table. He extended his hand to Ryan. “I realize that I don’t know you guys, but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. I’m Bobby O’Conner.”

“Yeah, I recognize you from your picture in The Kelowna Daily Courier. You’re the sports reporter,” Ryan said, shaking Bobby’s hand.

“That’s me. Can I join you? I’d like to hear more about what happened to you guys today.”

“Ryan and I were jogging along a trail that overlooked Lake Okanagan,” Monique said.

“Monique told me to stop and take a look at the lake. She said that she saw something strange in the water,” Ryan said.

“We looked out upon the lake,” Monique continued.” and saw a large black serpent like object moving quickly in our direction.”

“Right. It appeared to move by rapid undulations. It was obviously a living creature of some kind,” Ryan said.

“It sounds like the most common descriptions people give of Ogopogo. Do you think it really was Ogopogo you saw?”  Bobby asked.

“If it wasn’t, I don’t know what it was. It really shook us up to see it,” Monique said.

“What did the fishermen see?” Bobby asked.

“They saw something that looked like a fast moving log, but they were a lot further away than we were,” Monique replied.

“Yeah, we showed them the photos that Monique took. Unfortunately, the creature doesn’t look very big in the pictures, although in one of them you can see it raise its head and neck,” Ryan said.

The two fishermen were kind of arguing over whether or not our pictures were of Ogopogo,” Monique said. “Henry was skeptical, but Harvey believes we really may have photographed Ogopogo.”

Chapter Forty-Four:

 

“Can I see the pictures you took?” Bobby asked.

“Sure,” said Monique, handing the photos to the reporter.

“These pictures are better than I thought,” Bobby said, putting his reading glasses on to get a closer look at the photos. “Although the pictures are taken from a fair distance you can tell that there is definitely a strange object in the water that appears to be moving forward. You can tell by the wave patterns surrounding the creature. Do you mind if I borrow your pictures for a day or two? I’d like to get a photography expert to analyze them. I’ve got a friend who does this sort of thing.”

“So you believe that we really saw Qgopogo?” Ryan asked.

“Absolutely. After you’ve been a reporter for a while you can sense who is trust worthy and who is not and you guys are the real deal.”

Bobby O’Conner got up to leave but not before he got the phone numbers where Ryan and Monique could be reached.

Bobby jumped into his Toyota Camry and didn’t waste any time getting back to his office at The Kelowna Sun. He sat in his chair and immediately phoned his friend the photography expert.

“What’s happening, Bobby?” a Mike O’Grady asked. “I haven’t heard from you in a while.”

“I need a big favor Mike. I need you to give me your expert opinion on the authenticity of two photos. I’ll need the photographs enlarged as well,” Bobby added.

“What are the photos of?” Mike asked.

“I’m not certain. That’s why I need you to examine the pictures for me.”

“This sounds interesting. I’m home all day today if you want to bring the photos along.”

“I can be at your place within the next hour,” Bobby said.

“I’ll put some coffee on when you get here,” Mike said.

 

Chapter Forty-Five

As soon as Bobby hung up the phone, it immediately rang again.

“Hello, Kelowna Daily Courier.

Bobby O’Connor, here.”

“Hi Bobby. It’s Harvey Perkins calling. I saw you at Tim Horton’s today. I have a great story you might be interested in.”

“Is it a sports story?” Bobby asked.

“Oh no. It’s much better than that. My fishing partner and I saw Ogopogo today.”

Bobby almost dropped the receiver and fell off his chair.

 

 

When Ryan and Monique arrived back at Meg Richard’s cottage, they were immediately greeted by the welcoming party of Strider and Scruffy. John Richards came out of the cottage fully anticipating that the dogs were barking to signal the arrival of Ryan and Monique.

“Aunt Meg, Stephanie and I have been wondering all afternoon what it was that you guys were going to tell us. Are you ready to tell us now?” John asked.

“As soon as we’re inside and all you guys are sitting down,” Ryan answered.

In a few minutes, everybody was assembled on Meg’s living room couch.

“Monique and I want to make sure that you can handle what we’re about to tell you. That’s why we wanted to make sure everybody is sitting down,” Ryan said increasing his family’s curiosity.

“Is your story so exciting that you think we might faint?” Stephanie asked, popping the tab on her Diet Coke.

“It just might be. That’s why we’re being proactive. We don’t want to take any unnecessary risks,” Ryan said, standing  a few feet in front of the couch to the left of Monique.

“Okay, now. You’ve got us really curious. Tell us your damn story,” Meg said, edging closer to the front of the couch.

“This better be a whopper,” John Richards added.

“Actually it will especially be of interest to you, Dad. This is right up your alley,” Ryan said.

By this time the dogs outside started barking very loudly as they wanted to join the people in the living room. Stephanie got up and let them in. Strider and Bono immediately lay down in front of the couch.

“I’m going to let Monique tell you our story,” Ryan said.

Monique was very nervous and shuffled her feet before beginning to speak.

“Well, to get right to the point of the matter, Ryan and I saw Ogopogo while we were jogging on a trail close to the lake.”

John Richards stood up immediately and said, “Wow, I’ve been wishing all of my life to see Ogopogo. My grandmother told me about a close encounter one of her friends had with Ogopogo. Go on, Monique. Give us all the details.”

Meg and Stephanie looked at each other with puzzled looks on their faces, but remained seated and listening intently.

“Were you able to get any pictures of the creature?”  John asked.

“Fortunately, Monique had her camera with her and was able to take two pictures of the creature,” Ryan answered.

“Unfortunately, the pictures were taken from quite a distance, so I don’t know how helpful they will be in identifying the creature we saw on the lake,” Monique explained.

“You never know,” John said while pacing around the living room in circles. “We have a lot of new technology today that can probably do a very good job of identifying the object in your photos.”

“Yeah, they can zoom right in on the object,” Stephanie added.

“Are you going to the media with your story?” Meg inquired.

“The media has already approached us,” Ryan answered.

“Yeah, a reporter from The Kelowna Daily Courier overheard us talking about Ogopogo when we were at Tim Horton’s,” Monique added.

“The reporter’s name is Bobby O’Connor, a sports columnist,” Ryan said. ”He asked to borrow our pictures for a couple of days. He told us that he has a friend that is a professional photo analysist  and Bobby wants to get his opinion on our pictures.”

“You better hope you get your pictures back before your reporter friend gets them copyrighted,”  John said, with a nervous twitch.

“Oh, I’m sure we will,” Ryan said. “Bobby O’Connor strikes me as being a straight shooter and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to damage his reputation with his readers,” .

Chapter Forty –Six:

“Just don’t waste any time getting those photos copyrighted when you get them back. You don’t want anyone stealing your evidence and making a profit on pictures that are rightfully yours,” Ryan’s father insisted.

“Don’t worry. We will Dad,” Ryan said, trying to reassure his father.

“Don’t forget that we’ll be leaving for the hospital shortly to visit your Grandpa,” John said. “Would you like to come along with us Monique?”

“Yes, I would love to meet Ryan’s grandpa,” Monique.  “For sure. I hope he’s feeling well enough to talk to us when we come to visit him.

“We’ll find out this afternoon,”  John said.

Chapter Forty-Seven

 

A team of paramedics brought Garry Phelge directly to the Emergency Department of the hospital. As he had several visible contusions Garry was seen immediately by the triage nurse. One of the other nurses on duty took information provided by the paramedics. The paramedics emphasized that not only did Garry have both known and undetermined physical injuries he was also in a delusional state. The duty nurse whispered this information to the triage nurse.

Garry was semi- conscious when the triage nurse measured his blood pressure. She handed Garry a towel to put pressure on his bloody lips. Garry could still see the nurse although his vision was blurry. The triage nurse began to ask Garry questions while typing his answers into the computer.

“Do you know where you are, Garry?

“Yes,” Garry said. This place looks like a hospital.” His tee shirt was bloody and he was having great difficulty seeing out of his left eye. Garry spat out a tooth in between the first and second question.

“Why did the paramedics bring you here?” the nurse asked.

“Because I got beat up by a big, fat bastard on the bus!” Garry said, raising his voice.

“Why do you think the police constables helped bring you into the hospital?”

“I don’t know. They should be arresting the prick that beat me up for no good reason.”

“Are you in a lot of pain?” asked the nurse? How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?”

“Twenty,” Garry said. That fat creep punched and kicked me in the face. Then he used his steel toe boots on my ribs.”

“Do you feel sick?”

“Yeah, I feel woozy and nauseous.” After he finished answering the question, Garry threw up on the floor. The nurse immediately called for a janitor to come clean up the mess.

“Our duty nurse will take you to a patient’s room where you can wait for the doctor to see you. Should we put a pail in your room?”

“Yeah, I would. I might barf again,” Garry answered.

The duty nurse met briefly with an intern to inform him of Garry’s presenting symptoms. The intern called to ask if there was anyone available from the Psych Department. He was told that the psychiatric on duty could give Garry an assessment in approximately one hour. This gave the intern adequate time to do a physical evaluation of Garry’s condition and to wait for the results of his patient’s x-rays and blood tests. As Garry’s lips were swollen and bleeding, the intern asked the duty nurse to suture Garry’s cut lip.

 

Chapter Forty –Eight:

The psychiatrist arrived shortly after Garry’s x-rays came back. The x-rays indicated that Garry did not have any broken ribs.

The psychiatrist and Garry took the elevator to the third floor of the hospital.

They arrived at room 307, Dr.

Weisenthall’s office. Dr.Weisenthall appeared to be in his late thirties. He had an average build and wore his long, grey streaked hair in a ponytail. The doctor asked Garry to have a seat on his light blue couch.

“Hello Garry. I’m Dr. Weisenthal. Most of your test results came back and it appears that you don’t have any serious physical injuries that we haven’t attended to.”

Garry looked at the wall behind Dr. Weisenthall’s Navy blue leather chair. He took note of the doctor’s university degrees. He could see out of the doctor’s windows and could see that it was raining and the sky had clouded over.

“You must be a psychiatrist,” said Garry. “Judging by your university degrees I mean.”

“You’re right Garry. You’re very observant. I am indeed a psychiatrist. I’m actually the Head of the psychiatric wing of the hospital,” said the doctor turning around to get his yellow legal pad from his desk.

“Does it concern you that

I’m a psychiatrist?”

“Yes, it does because I’m not crazy. I didn’t imagine that a man beat me up on the bus.”

“No, the injuries you have on your body are very real. I would never call a patient ‘crazy’. I’m just here to do an assessment of your mental state. People who have been severely assaulted, like you have, usually show indications of trauma. I just need to find out if you have been traumatized by the incident on the bus,” explained Dr. Weisenthall giving his neck a quick turn in both directions to relieve the muscle tension.

“Well, I am feeling a lot of anxiety right now,” “Can you help me out with that?” asked Garry nervously tapping his fingers on the couch.

“Yes, I have successfully treated hundreds, if not thousands of people with anxiety disorders.”

 

Chapter Forty-Nine:

“Are you in a lot of pain, Garry?” asked Dr. Weisenthall. It looks like you took an awful beating from that passenger on the bus. The doctor could see Garry flinch while he was sitting on the couch. Garry was trying hard to find a position in which he would be reasonably comfortable.

“You mean the psycho on the bus that attacked me?” Garry asked.

“If that’s the way you choose to identify him,” the doctor replied.

“I know what he is,” Garry responded. “In answer to your original question, yes, I am in a great deal of pain. I can barely find a part of my body where it doesn’t hurt.”

“I can help you with the manifestations of your physical trauma relatively easily. Here take two of these Tylenol 3s. You should start getting some relief from your physical pain in less than fifteen minutes. Garry, you said you know what the perpetrator of your assault is. What is he specifically?”

“Oh he’s not the only one on that bus. The bus is infested with them”

“With what?” the doctor asked.

“There not human. They’re aliens. A specific group of aliens that can change themselves into either a human or reptilian form at will.” Garry answered.

“Are these creatures dangerous?”

“That’s an understatement. They plan to take control of the earth and all its inhabitants.”

“Have you seen these aliens anywhere else, or at any other time?”

“Nearly every day. My parents are reptilian creatures. They often change form. That’s why I got on the Greyhound bus. To get away from them. I was planning on talking to my aunt and uncle who live in Kelowna. They must know that my parents are reptilians and I was hoping that I could live with them.”

Is there anywhere else that you have seen theses alien creatures?

“I often can pick out some of them in a crowd when I walk downtown. Even if they disguise their reptilian features I recognize them by the sounds that they make.”

“What do the sounds sound like?”

“It’s hard to describe. Only dogs and people with my auditory hyper sensitivity can hear them. The sounds they make are evil and eerie.”

“Life must be very scary for you, Garry,” Dr. Weisenthall noted.

“Yes, it is. I always have to be in a state of hyper vigilance,”  Garry answered.

“That must be very taxing on your system.”

“Yeah, I feel exhausted most of the time.”

“Well, I’m glad that we had a chance to meet today, Garry. I think that I will be able to help you with some of your issues. Your psychiatric condition is not curable but fortunately, it’s treatable.”

“What psychiatric condition!” shouted Garry who was now visibly agitated.

“Now calm down, Garry. You have schizophrenia, most likely paranoid schizophrenia.”

“So you still think I’m nuts!”

“No, you are not nuts. You have a treatable medical condition. You will be staying in the hospital for a week or two until we can get you stabilized. I will start by putting you on some antipsychotic medications.”

“I’m not staying in this hospital so that you can feed me a bunch of dangerous, mind numbing drugs.”

After saying that Garry bolted out the door of Dr. Weisenthal’s office. The psychiatrist then yelled to two male psychiatric nurses who were doing their rounds in the hall, “Jerry, Matthew. Restrain that young man!”

The two male nurses were able to grab a hold of Garry and wrestle him to the floor.

Dr. Weisenthall who was now in the hall caught up with Jerry and Matthew while Garry continued to struggle and kick on the floor. The doctor, a little out of breath, called out to a nurse in the office,” Kylie, go get the restraints. After Garry was put in the restraints he was given an injection of Haldol. The nurses and Dr. Weisenthall stayed with Garry until the medication took effect. As soon as Garry had stopped struggling and appeared to be groggy, the psychiatric team held Garry and laid him down in an open patient’s room.

“This young man is very ill,” said the doctor. I want all the nurses involved to write up an Incident Report. I am going back to my office to write up my report of what just transpired. I will be going home in a couple of hours. I will leave written instructions with the nurses. When the evening shift comes on, I want them fully debriefed on what just occurred with this young man and the interventions that were deemed necessary. Also, let the evening staff know that they can call me on my cell if the patient starts to decompensate again this evening.”

 

Chapter Fifty:

 

Monique arrived at Aunt

Meg’s cottage at around 10:00 AM. Before Monique left yesterday evening she and Ryan had agreed to check out The University of British Columbia. I think they both knew that something was going on between them and that they might decide to pursue their educations on the same campus. After taking a leisurely walk outside the campus, Ryan and Monique decided to go for lunch at the university’s cafeteria. They thought that they might meet some of the university’s students and be able to ask them some questions.

They found a table just across from where Kyle Winter and his friends were sitting. As Kyle had a loud voice, Ryan and Monique could not help but overhear the conversation at the adjoining table.

“I’ve got our time and date set for our meeting with Dr. Hardy and Dean Sanderson. It’s scheduled for 10:00 AM. next Tuesday.” As usual Kyle was taking charge. “I’ll need all of you guys there on time and I want you to come dressed in business style clothing. We need to look professional and give the message that we are taking this project very seriously.”

“What do you think Dean

Sanderson will think of our Ogopogo project?” Keesha asked.

Ryan spat out a mouthful of his coffee when he heard Keesha say, ‘Ogopogo project.’ As there were still a couple of open spaces at Kyle’s table, Ryan signaled for Monique to move her chair to the university students’ table.

“Could we join you guys for lunch?”  Ryan asked. “We overheard you talking about Ogopogo.”

“Sure, come join us.” Keesha responded.

Ryan and Monique moved

their chairs right beside the group of UBC students. “We should introduce ourselves. I’m Ryan and this is Monique.”

“Is Monique your partner or girlfriend?” Ian inquired.

“I wish,” Ryan answered.

This made Monique blush. Kyle and his friends then made all the necessary introductions.

“Are you guys students here?”  Brendon asked Monique and Ryan.

“No, we’re both here on summer vacation. Ryan’s from Winnipeg and I’m from Montreal. Both our parents are separated so we only come here to live with our other parent during the summer months,” Monique replied. “That’s cool,” Kyle said.

 

“So why are you interested in Ogopogo?” Jasmine wanted to know.

“Well, I’ve always been interested in cryptozoology. I can’t speak for Monique,”  Ryan said.

“If I wasn’t interested in cryptozoology before, I certainly am now,” Monique said.

“Why’s that?” Ian asked.

“Because Ryan and I saw the creature yesterday morning,”  Monique answered”

“Wow! You had a close encounter?” Kyle asked.

“It wasn’t that close an encounter, but it definitely was a surreal experience,” Ryan replied.

“Okay, give us all the details,” said Keesha.

“It started when Ryan and I went out for a jog along a trail that runs along the lake.”

“What part of Lake Okanagan are we talking about?” Keesha asked.

“We were close to Squally Point,” Ryan answered.

“All right. Go on,”  Kyle said, impatiently.

“As I was saying, we were running along the trail when I saw something weird on the lake. I asked Ryan to stop and have a look where I was pointing,” Monique said.

“Well, I stopped jogging and looked over towards the lake,” Ryan said. “There appeared to be a large dark object in the water, undulating rapidly. Monique was able to take a couple of photos of it.”

“What did you think it was?”  Brendon asked shuffling around in his chair and tapping his foot on the floor.

“If it wasn’t Ogopogo I don’t know what the heck it was,” Monique said giving her ponytail a quick swish.

“What did you think it was Ryan?”  Kyle wondered.

“At first I wasn’t sure, but once I saw its head break the surface I was certain that it had to be Ogopogo,” Ryan said, sitting straight up in his chair.

“Wow! Have you got the pictures you took with you?” Keesha asked rolling up the sleeves on her University of British Columbia jacket.

“We let a local reporter borrow them so that he could get them examined by an expert in photographic analysis,” Ryan answered.

“Which reporter and from which newspaper?”  Ian asked.

“Bobby O’Connor from The Kelowna Daily Courier,” Monique replied.

 

“Bobby O’Connor, the sports writer? That guy’s a drunk. Anytime I go to a hockey game I see Bobby he’s  half in the bag,”  Kyle said.

“Look, this whole group is going to be doing a research project on Ogopogo. We’re planning to organize an expedition to actually find the creature.”

“And I’d love to record an interview with you and see those pictures that you took of the creature,” Keesha said.

“We can do that,” Ryan said. “We are wondering. Is there any way we could be of more help to you, such as joining you on this expedition?”

“You two are keeners, aren’t you?” Kyle said with a laugh. “I’ll tell you what. This whole group has a meeting scheduled with Dr. Lionel Hardy, a marine biology prof and Dr. Sanderson, the dean of UBC. The meeting takes place at 10:00 AM Tuesday morning in Dean Sanderson’s office. We’d love to see you guys at the meeting.”

“You can count us in,” Ryan said. “Oh sorry, Monique. I haven’t asked you yet?”

“Of course I’ll be coming to the meeting,” Monique said, sounding a little indignant.

“It’s all settled then,” Ryan said. “Welcome aboard, the Good Ship Ogopogo.”

 

Chapter Fifty-One:

 

Ida Rhodes was in the habit of taking her dog, Chloe, for walks along the trails in the evenings. Her walks generally lasted about forty-five minutes along the walking paths parallel to   Lake Okanagan. Ida favored one trail in particular that came close to the edge of the lake near Squally Point.

On one particular evening Ida looked towards the lake and saw and heard a great upheaval in the water about fifty yards from the shore. As Ida moved closer to the lake she started to feel terrible chest pains. In a couple of minutes she suffered a fatal heart attack. As she lost her grip on the leash that held Chloe, Ida fell into the lake and was soon dragged under by the strong current.

Chloe jumped into the water making a valiant effort to save her owner but she too went under from the force of the lake. Within a few minutes both Ida and Chloe were dead.

 

 

 

After three days had passed the mail carrier became concerned as letters and flyers were starting to pile up in Ida Rhodes’ mailbox. The letter carrier talked to both of Ida’s neighbors on both sides of her cottage. Neither of the neighbors had seen Ida leave her house during the last three days. He asked if this was an unusual situation for Ida and both neighbors reported that the elderly lady usually took her dog for a walk by the lake in the evenings.

The mailman was beginning to worry that Mrs. Rhodes might be dead in her house after suffering a fatal heart attack. He also considered the possibility of foul play. He phoned the local police and they conducted an investigation and came up with one lead. A couple of teenagers had observed an old lady walking her dog on a trail close to the shore of Lake Okanagan. The boys reported that they were on their way to the general store. When they returned from the store about ten minutes later they passed the point where they had seen the elderly woman and her dog. This time they did not see the old lady or her dog.

Chapter Fifty-Two:

 

 

On Tuesday morning the university students led by Kyle Winter were seated outside Dean Sanderson’s office. Ryan and Monique arrived a few minutes later. They were directed to take a seat and wait for Dean Sanderson to call them. Dr. Hardy was already in Dean Sanderson’s office seated in the red leather chair.

“I’m eager to meet your students Lionel. I’ve probably seen most of them in the cafeteria or in different places on campus at one time or another. I’d like to hear what their ideas are,” Dean Sanderson said.

“I think that you will be pleasantly surprised Edward. They are a very intelligent and creative group of young people,” Dr. Hardy said.

“As I told you earlier they will be accompanied by two summer vacationers who would also like to be part of the project.”

“All right. Let’s get the young people in here and hear what they have to say,” Dean Sanderson said.

As the group of young people entered Dean Sanderson’s office he directed them to have a seat on a long maroon sofa.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about you people from Dr. Hardy. I’ll first ask Kyle to explain how you guys came up with the idea for your research project,” Dr. Sanderson said.

“Well, to tell you the truth sir, we were sitting in the university cafeteria discussing how boring the articles are in the student’s university newspaper,” Kyle said with some trepidation.

Dean Sanderson burst out laughing after hearing Kyle say this.

“I’m glad it was a student and not me that said it. I’ve read the student’s newspaper so I know what you’re talking about. I understand that you have recruited two extra people who are visiting form out of province,” Dean Sanderson said.

“Yes, that would be Ryan and Monique. They are here for their summer vacations and have shared some very interesting information about the Ogopogo,” Ryan answered.

“Well, I’d be very pleased if they would share this information with Dr. Hardy and myself. What about it, Monique?” Dean Sanderson said.

“Certainly Dean. Ryan and I had just met and as we were going on a jog on a trail near Lake Okanagan. We’d just run a short distance when I turned to my right and saw something unusual on the lake. I saw a large black hump that was undulating on the water,”  Monique explained.

“Then I stopped in an attempt to verify what I was seeing. It appeared to be a large creature of some sort, but I’d never seen anything like it on the lake before. Two fishermen also saw it but from a much greater distance. The object submerged after a few minutes.”

“It was definitely Ogopogo you saw,” Dr. Hardy stated emphatically, barely able to conceal his excitement.

“I managed to take two pictures of the creature,” Monique added.

“Can we see the pictures?” Dean Sanderson asked.

“We don’t have them with us,” Ryan explained. “We gave them to the reporter, Bobby O’Conner. He’s taking them to a photography expert to get them analyzed.”

“Get them back immediately,” said Dr. Hardy. “Try to get a written report from the professional that analyzed the photos as well.”

“As you people may know Dr.Hardy is taking a year’s sabbatical leave. He has been an excellent teacher and researcher for this university and we wanted to reward him with a year free of his teaching duties. During this time Lionel has told me that he wants to do an intensive research project about The Ogopogo,”  Dean Sanderson said.

“I’m hoping to write a series of articles and perhaps a book on my research,” Dr. Hardy said.

“We are also hoping to write some great articles about our research on Ogopogo for the university newspaper,” Kyle added.

“And we would like to join an expedition with you to search for Ogopogo,” Ryan said.

“I believe that an expedition would be a crucial part of our research on The Lake Demon. That’s what the aboriginal people called the creature. Of course, we would also be looking at any previously written articles and would want to interview people who claim to have seen Ogopogo,” Dean Sanderson said.

“We’ll need to brainstorm everything we’re going to need for this project as well as knowing who is willing and able to complete each assigned task.” Dr. Hardy said.

“Not to mention the financing for the expedition,” Dean Sanderson added.

“A project like this could cost a fortune, Lionel.”

“I’m well aware of that, Edward. That’s why I think it’s critical that we make up a wish list of all the equipment we would like to have for our expedition. From there we can do some research and get an estimate of how much money we’re looking at,”  Lionel said.

“The university board will likely grant us some money, but I don’t think it will be a lot,” Dean Sanderson said.

“We may be eligible for some  grant money from the province,”  Lionel said.

‘We may have to come up with the majority of the expense from private donors,” Kyle said.

“I think you’re right, but where could we find some wealthy private donors?” Dean Sanderson asked.

“I don’t know, but why don’t we put out some ads briefly describing our project asking for financial assistance. You never know. There could be a rich, eccentric entrepreneur out there who might be interested in a project like this,” Kyle said.

“It’s worth a try,” Ryan said optimistically. “Kyle could be right about the eccentric private donor just waiting for an opportunity like this.”

“It’s also going to depend on how well we sell the expedition. Someone out there might want the fame or publicity,”  Jasmine added.

“That’s what I like about working with young people. They are so creative,” said Lionel.

“Not to mention enthusiasm and a positive attitude,” Dean Sanderson added.

 

Chapter 53:

Bobby O’Conner recovered his composure enough to make an appointment to meet Harvey Perkins, the fisherman who claimed to have seen Ogopogo earlier in the day. They agreed to meet at Tim Horton’s at 5:00 PM.

As Bobby got in his car to drive to Mike O’Grady’s apartment, he started to think that his future as a reporter with The Kelowna Daily Courier could still be salvageable. He had to admit that the witnesses that he talked to today both sounded credible.

At 2:00PM Bobby parked his black Pontiac Grand Am on the street across from Mike O’Grady’s apartment. Mike lived in a run -down inner city part of town. Bobby made sure that he locked his car before he walked across the street. He walked up a flight of rickety, wooden stairs to Mike’s apartment. Bobby thought that he could smell the faintly detectable scent of urine in the hall.

Bobby knocked on Mike’s door but it took at least a minute before his friend answered it.

Mike O’Grady has been in a compromised state of health for most of the last five years. The former photo analysis expert is now sixty-three years old and suffers from both arthritis and emphysema. The fact that Mike weighs nearly three hundred pounds and still smokes as many cigarettes as his lungs can handle hasn’t helped matters. Mike walks with a slight limp and uses a walker to help him get around.

“Have a seat Bobby if you can find one. You may have to move a few books off the couch,”  Mike said.

To say that Mike O’Grady’s tiny bachelor apartment was cluttered would be a great understatement. Books, magazines, newspapers, compact disks and videos were scattered everywhere. Mike’s carpet looked like it had not met up with a vacuum cleaner in the last six months.

“Hand over your pictures and I’ll have a look at them,” Mike said sinking into his chair with a loud groan. ”Damn arthritis!”

Mike studied the first picture carefully. He turned the picture around and studied it from several angles. He held the picture close to his face and then moved it about an arm’s length away.

“It’s authentic, all right,”  Mike said. He picked up the second photo and went through exactly the same procedure.

“Both pictures are real. They are not touched up, nor have they been tampered with in any way,” Mike said.

“How can you be so sure Mike? You haven’t studied the pictures using any of your instruments.”  Bobby said.

“I don’t need to, but I will if it will put your mind more at ease. I’ve been doing this type of science long enough to spot a fake just by examining it with the naked eye.”

 

Chapter Fifty-Four

 

Daniel Mason, the head of security for Blake Riley Enterprises had just picked up the morning edition of the Kelowna Daily Courier . He took it to his office to read. As part of his daily job routine, Daniel skimmed through the newspaper underlining, highlighting or writing in the margins anything that might be of interest to Blake Riley. Blake was a voracious reader of both novels and non- fiction books, but didn’t have the patience to read the daily newspaper from cover to cover. That’s why he had his head of security search the paper for him. Blake and Daniel had many conversations in the past and Daniel had a good grasp on what might be of interest to his boss.

As he was reading through the classifieds, Daniel noticed a very strange advertisement. It was posted by a marine biologist professor at The University of British Columbia named Dr. Lionel Hardy and he was asking for financial sponsors for an exploratory expedition to hunt for the Ogopogo Lake Monster. As Daniel was putting a large red circle around the ad his office phone rang.

“Hi Daniel, this is Peter Marks, the captain of the boat that searched for Champ. I got a message that you might have a similar expedition in mind.”

“Yes, I do. However, I have to give my boss, Blake Riley the credit for the idea,” Daniel replied.

“Isn’t he that eccentric millionaire who’s always seeking new adventures?”

“I wouldn’t call Blake eccentric, but he is a man that is always looking for new challenges in life,”  Daniel said.

 

 

“So what does your boss have in mind?”

“He wants to head up an expedition to capture Ogopogo and keep him in his private zoo,” Daniel answered.

“What! He’s crazy! Now this ups the ante considerably. So we’re expected to capture this creature alive?”

“That’s Blake’s goal,” Daniel said.

“Well my crew and I are going to want much more money than National Geographic paid us. We’re also going to need to hire some additional staff for hunting and trapping this animal,” Peter Marks stated emphatically.

“I wouldn’t worry about adequate compensation. My boss has pretty deep pockets and once he embraces a new project he becomes obsessed by it.”

‘Well, I still have the contact information from the old National Geographic crew and I could call them to see if they’re interested,” Peter said.

“I would appreciate that very much,” Daniel said. “Remember to tell them that getting paid generously for their work won’t be a problem.”

 

Chapter Fifty-Five

 

As soon as Bobby O’Connor left Mike O ‘Grady’s apartment he drove over to Tim Hortons to meet Harvey Perkins, the fisherman who had called him earlier in the day. Harvey spotted Bobby immediately as he came through the coffee shop’s doors. Harvey was a sports fan and had seen Bobby O’Connor’s picture several times on the sports page of The Kelowna Daily Courier.

“I’m over here, Bobby,”  Harvey said, as he pulled out a chair for the reporter.

The two men shook hands. “Please to meet you in person, Harvey. I gather that you have something interesting to tell me and that it has nothing to do with sports,” Bobby said.

“You’re right about that,” Harvey said. “Like I was telling you on the phone, my partner and I spotted an unusual moving object on Lake Okanagan. Two young people, Ryan and Monique saw it also and showed us a couple of pictures they took of the creature.”

“Do you think the creature in the photos is Ogopogo?” Bobby asked.

“I’d put money on it. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen and I’ve been a fisherman a long time.”

“What does your partner think?”

“Henry is skeptical about everything. The creature would have to be staring him straight in the face before he’d believe in it.”

“How far way was the creature?”

“About a hundred meters away, I’d estimate.”

“Would you mind if your story was published in the Kelowna Daily Courier,” Bobby asked.

“That’s fine with me. People can laugh at me all they want but I know what I saw.”

 

Chapter Fifty-Six

 

Sheriff George Anderson sat back in his black leather office chair and stared out his window overlooking Lake Okanagan. Just then his lead deputy Bill Rollins knocked on the sheriff’s door.

“Come in, Bill,” George said.

“Have you got any special assignments for me, Sheriff?”  his deputy asked.

“I’ve been thinking about the Ida Rhodes case, Bill. Have we got any new leads other than what the young boys told you?”

“Not a thing. Mrs. Rhodes has one sister that I was able to contact. Ida’s sister Francis told me that she had not heard from Ida in about three weeks. I told her that her sister had gone missing and asked if Ida had mentioned anything about leaving town or going on a trip.”

“What did the sister say?” asked the Sheriff asked.

“She told me that her sister hadn’t mentioned anything like that and was probably not in good enough shape to travel,” replied the deputy.

“Mrs. Rhodes doesn’t even drive a car, does she?”

“I’ve never seen a car in her driveway.”

The Sheriff got out of his chair and stood up. “So the old lady wasn’t planning on going anywhere except to take her dog for a walk along the lake. Some young boys saw her by the lake but do not see her return. I want some missing persons posters put up around the whole area,”  Sheriff Anderson said.

“No problem, Boss. I’ll take care of that. I was just going to ask you one thing, sir. Has anyone reported seeing something unusual on the lake recently?”

“No, why?”  the Sheriff asked. “What do you mean by unusual?”

“Well, last evening my son

Jeff and his little friend Anson returned to our house scared out of their wits. They said that they had been out fishing on the banks not far from where the old lady disappeared. Both boys told me that they saw a large black hump move up and down in the water. They were probably about fifty yards away guessing by how they described the size of the object,” Deputy Rollins said.

“So want me to believe that Ida Rhodes and her dog got eaten by Ogopogo?” George asked  laughing out loud for the first time in weeks.

“No, of course not, George, but I believe that my son and his friend got a terrible fright from something they saw,”  Deputy Bill Rollins replied.

 

Chapter Fifty-Seven

 

Daniel Mason had just handed his edited copy of The Kelowna Daily Courier to his boss, Blake Riley.

“I put a large red circle around something in the classifieds that should be of particular interest to you, sir,” Daniel said as he passed the paper to his boss. It’s on page thirty-seven.”

Blake quickly turned to the page indicated by his head of security. He perused the advertisement placed by Dr. Lionel Hardy, the marine biology professor.

“I need to get in contact with this professor immediately. I am very interested in his proposed project, but there are several details that I need to find out. Having a marine biologist as part of our crew will give credibility to our project.” Blake reached in his pocket for his cell phone. “I’m going to call this professor right now.”

Dr. Lionel Hardy was sitting at home in his favorite chair reading the book, Devil’s Knot by Mara Leverrit when his phone rang. When Lionel read he became deeply absorbed in a book and it took him a few seconds to adjust to any disturbance of his concentration such as a ringing phone.

‘Hello, this is Dr. Loinel Hardy speaking.”

“Professor Hardy, this is Blake Riley, the entrepreneur calling. I am responding to your newspaper ad about the expedition to find Ogopogo. I understand that you are looking for financial backers.

“Yes, indeed I am,” Lionel answered. “The expedition that I am envisioning could potentially cost in the million dollar range. Some university students are presently researching all the personnel and supplies that we will need and they are attempting to come up with a rough estimate of the total expenses for our project.”

“I believe that I can be of invaluable service to you in this project. I have more than sufficient financial resources to cover the costs of the expedition. I also have previous experience with this type of endeavor. A few years ago my head of security was involved with a project searching for the Lake Champlain Monster. I have also been to Scotland to look for the Loch Ness Monster. At present I have the employee I mentioned contacting the crew from the Lake Champlain Project.”

“I thank you for calling me, Mr. Riley. What you have said greatly interests me. Could we arrange to meet in person in a few days to look further into this matter?” Lionel asked.

“That would be my pleasure. Get back to me with a few dates that you will be available,” Blake Riley said.

 

Chapter Fifty-Eight

 

A meeting was set up for all the parties interested in The Ogopogo Project. This group included Dr.Dean Sanderson, Dr. Lionel Hardy, Kyle and the rest of the university students,  as well as Ryan Richards, Monique Painchaud and Blake Riley. On a Friday afternoon they met in the university’s main conference room.

“Thank you all for coming,”  Dean Sanderson began. Today’s session will be mainly an exploratory meeting with the purpose of defining what our goals are for this project and how, in a practical way, we might obtain them. I will ask Dr. Hardy to explain how he envisions the project.

“As some of you already know, I have been granted a year’s sabbatical to write a research paper on a topic of my choice related to marine biology. I have long had an interest in cryptozoology and a particular interest in the creature known as Ogopogo. I am hoping to gather some data that has previously never been published that would help determine whether or not this animal actually exists in Lake Okanagan,” Dr. Hardy said.

“There have been many sightings of this creature over many decades and yet no one has been able to come up with any conclusive evidence of the existence of the Ogopogo,” Dean Sanderson said.

“Kyle, could you tell this group what the university students’ interest in this project involves?”

“Well, to tell you the truth, sir, our original aim was to come up with a story that would be of great interest for publication in the university’s newspaper. We have noticed that there is a great need for some articles that would be of more interest to the student body,” answered Kyle.

“I consider that to be a worthy goal, Kyle. I, too, have noticed a lack of interest and readership in UBC’s student newspaper. I’m all for anything that’s going to improve the university’s image,” Dean Sanderson said. “And what about our two young people who are on summer vacation? Please tell us how you became interested in this project.”

“My new friend, Monique and I had a recent sighting of Ogopogo. We had just met and were out for a jog when we saw Ogopogo in the lake. Monique was able to take two pictures of the creature with her camera.

Unfortunately, the photos were taken from a considerable distance and would never be considered as positive scientific evidence,” Ryan answered.

 

Chapter Fifty-Nine

“I’d like to introduce all of you to someone I had the pleasure of talking to recently,” Dean Sanderson said. “His name is Blake Riley and he feels that he could be of great support to our intended project. Would you be willing to address the group, Mr. Riley?”

“Certainly, Dean Sanderson.You guys can just call me Blake. I have been interested in all aspects of cryptozoology for most of my life. I have been especially interested in lake monsters. I don’t mind saying that I’m a wealthy business man who has substantial resources that I’m willing to invest if the planned expedition meets my expectations.”

“What specific outcomes would you expect from our research project?” Lionel asked.

“Firstly we need to capture a live specimen of the creature,  Blake answered.

“You would want a piece of the creatures flesh to use for a scientific biopsy?” Lionel inquired.

“With all due respect, professor, I would consider our mission to be a failure if that’s the best we could do,”  Blake replied. ‘My goal is to capture the whole animal alive.”

“Have you have lost your mind, Mr. Riley? We aren’t even positive that this creature exists,” Dean Sanderson said.

“Although I firmly believe in the existence of Ogopogo, I feel that it would be a daunting task to capture one alive. Not to mention the ethical questions involved.”  Dr. Hardy said.

“I would be happy just to get a close up video of the lake demon,” Ryan said.

“If we could get a tissue sample from the animal we would accomplish what no one has yet managed to do,” added Monique giving her ponytail a good shake.

“If we even get one good sighting just think what a great story we would have for the university’s newspaper,” Kyle said, speaking on behalf of the students.

“I’m hoping that we can put together a great book based on our research and findings during our search for Ogopogo,” Jasmine said.

 

Chapter Sixty:

 

Dean Sanderson pulled his easel closer to the long conference table. He then passed out yellow legal pads and official UBC pens to everyone.

“It’s time to generate some ideas and then to assign some job duties to this group. Proper organization is going to be critical to the success of this project. I’m not sure where to start, but I’ll begin by throwing out some general questions for discussion.”

“Firstly, equipment. What are we going to need?”

“I’ll take care of our equipment needs,” Blake Riley said. “Equipment and supplies for our expedition shouldn’t be a problem.”

“How are you going to access it?” Dr. Hardy asked.

“A few years ago, Daniel Mason, my head of security was a participant in an expedition to find Champ, the Lake Champlain monster. He has recently been in touch with the boat’s captain and he is in the process of rounding up the former crew.”

“How do you know that this crew will be willing to go on another monster hunt?” Dean Sanderson asked.

“Because these people live for adventure and the adrenaline rush. Also, I am willing to pay the crew generously for their work and the use of their equipment. Don’t worry. I have more than enough financial resources to cover all the costs of this expedition,” Blake answered.

“That’s a great relief,” Lionel said. “Without the proper equipment and a professional crew we would not be able to make a thorough search for Ogopogo.”

“ This is a great relief, Blake. I was concerned that the costs involved for this project could be prohibitive.” Dean Sanderson said.

“How soon could the crew be available?”  Kyle asked.

“I’m giving them three days to let me know if they are in or out. Then I want to have them meet with this group for a planning meeting as soon as possible,” Blake said.

“You certainly don’t let the grass grow under your feet,” Dr. Lionel Hardy observed.

“That’s my philosophy of life,” r Blake Riley replied. “I came from an impoverished background but I knew that other people had an abundance of money and personal possessions. There were successful men and women who had their freedom and lived the good life. Despite being brought up in a trailer park I learned that I had one rich and successful uncle. When I was about fifteen years old I decided to give him a phone call. I wanted to find out how he broke out of the poverty mentality while most of his relatives lived below the poverty line.

Uncle Jordan and I had a long talk. He told me that the road to success always starts with right thinking. He mailed me two books that he insisted that I would need to read to fully understand what he was talking about.”

“What are the two books?” asked Ryan.

“The two books are both by Napoleon Hill. One is titled, Think and Grow Rich” and the other is The Law of

Success in Sixteen

Lessons,” Blake answered.

Chapter Sixty-One

“As The University of British Columbia will be one of the sponsors of this project I would like to see a great deal of research compiled, from an academic perspective,” Dean Sanderson said, picking up his cup of coffee.

 

“This is a given, Edward. I will assign research tasks to all of the UBC students involved in this project and perhaps even to Ryan and Monique if they are interested,” said Dr. Lionel Hardy.

 

“We would love to be part of your research team, Dr. Hardy. Monique and I are willing to do anything to help,” Ryan said.

 

“Ryan didn’t even bother to ask me, but I am in full agreement with him,” Monique said giving Ryan a teasing grin.

 

“I need to find out who is interested and best suited to each research assignment,” Lionel said. “I am opening the floor to suggestions.”

 

“I would be interested in keeping a daily log or journal on our project starting with this meeting,” Jasmine said. “I am already recording the minutes for today’s session.”

 

“That sounds good to me,” saiLionel said. “Edward,  may I borrow your easel chart to start writing down these individual assignments?”

 

“Be my guest,” the Dean said.

 

“I would be interested in searching for and putting together all the research that has been done up to this point in time on Ogopogo.” Ian said. I will need one or more volunteers to help me with this part of the job.”

 

“I could help you with that,” said Keesha.

 

“Same here,” said Brendon. “We could start working on the research tomorrow morning.” The Lake Demon

John Richards was hard at work finishing up a short story that he was working on when his telephone rang. It was his sister Meg from Kelowna, British Columbia calling.

“John, I’ve got some terrible news for you. Dad’s cancer has spread to his liver and his oncologist has only given him a month or two to live,” said Meg.

“That is terrible news,” John responded. “Is there anything I can do to help?”asked John.

“Yeah, there is. I could use your company and support right now. My boyfriend Hank moved out two weeks ago so I got a lot on my plate right now.”

“ I bet. Well, the timing is very good. My two kids Ryan and Stephanie just arrived two days ago. Susan’s leaving them with me for the summer. I haven’t seen my kids for months now and I’m sure that they’d love to go on a road trip. I just wish that it was under better circumstances. You don’t mind if I bring my kids along do you, Meg?”

“No, of course not. I’ve got plenty of room for all of you at my place. I’d love to see Ryan and Stephanie again. And like I said, I don’t want to be alone during the short time Dad has to live.”

“You won’t have to worry about that. The kids will keep us both very active. They will be sad about their Grandpa being so ill, but at least they will be able to say good bye to him,” said John.

“That’s right. Stephanie and Ryan really love their grandfather, said Meg.

“They will have lots to keep them distracted though. My kids both love Lake Okanogan and they love going for boat rides on the lake,” said John.

“ I also need to take a short break from my writing. I might even be able to come up with some ideas for a new story while I’m at your place. We’ll make it a summer vacation for the kids and I.”

“ When will you be leaving?” asked Meg while pouring herself a coffee.

“Tomorrow morning. The kids and I will need this evening to get packed. They are both out right now but I’ll tell them as soon as they get home.”

“Aren’t you even going to ask them if they want to go on a trip?” asked Meg.

“My kids are always ready for an adventure. And I know they’ll want to see their Grandpa one last time,” John answered.

“Well, when should I expect you guys?”

“In about two days. We’ll be driving out to your place.”

“Are you sure your old Taurus is up for the trip?” Meg joked.

“Don’t worry I have a Premier membership with CAA,” said John.

After his conversation with his sister John Richards had a lot to think about. First, he had to think about his soon to be deceased father.

Robert Richards was the kind of man that made the idea of his passing seem very unreal to John. Yes, he knew that people die every day from cancer or with heart conditions, but his father was somewhat exceptional. He was what is known as a man’s man. Robert Richards worked hard all his life as a heavy equipment operator. He was only sixty-seven years old and always seemed to be in robust health. It was a very rare occasion for John’s father to ever miss a day of work because of illness. Whenever Robert caught a cold or some type of virus he usually went to work anyway and pushed through his discomfort. He liked to think of himself as being tough and in actuality, he was.

Although he was always a hard worker and a good provider, Robert Richards also believed in enjoying life. He loved his cigarettes, his beer and his whiskey. John’s dad also liked to indulge in a high carbohydrate diet that inevitably resulted in Robert developing a weight problem as he grew older. Robert rarely got any regular exercise outside of his job. He used to belong to a ten pin bowling team but had to give this pastime up when he developed a painful arthritic condition in his knees. A year and a half ago Robert had a total left knee replacement.

It became obvious to John that his father’s health was beginning to decline as he entered his sixth decade of life. Many of his life style choices were now catching up with him. Still, it was hard to believe that his father was dying of cancer and only had a short time to live. John Richards has a tendency to live in denial and believing in his father’s invincibility was a prime example.

John was not looking forward to having to say goodbye to his father. Although John was certain of his father’s love for him he couldn’t remember ever hearing his father tell him that he loved him. On the other hand, it probably wasn’t very often that John had told his father that he loved him even though he truly did. Robert Richards did not believe in wearing his heart on his sleeve and this was something that he had passed on to his son.

John realized that both Ryan and Stephanie would arrive home in a couple of hours and that he would have to break the bad news about their grandfather to them.

 

Part of John Richard was looking forward to the trip to British Columbia to keep his sister company. The other reason was that he needed to break out of a slump. He had a hard time finishing up his last short story. He was suffering from what is known as writer’s block. His creativity seemed to be drying up. Ideas for his stories weren’t coming to him as quickly or as easily. John was finding that he was no longer looking forward to his usual early morning writing sessions. John’s usual routine was to start writing at about 6:00 AM. He would listen to an audio book and drink his coffee at around 5:30 AM. John usually found it easy to write in the mornings but not during the last few weeks.

John would wake up feeling like he hadn’t slept at all. The truth was that he normally slept for nine or ten hours each night but it sure didn’t feel like it. John recognized what was happening to him. He had suffered from episodic bouts of depression since he was a teenager. His episodes followed a very familiar pattern. John would feel extremely tired and would be completely exhausted by a half hour’s walk with his dogs. Then other symptoms of depression would kick in such as lethargy and an inability to get any pleasure from his normal activities. It wasn’t long into his depressive episode before he started to lose confidence in himself as a writer.

Sometimes a change of scenery or even in a situation requiring immediate action such as a crisis situation would break John out of a severe depressive episode. He was hoping that the phone call that he had with his sister would be his catalyst for change. John could already feel some of his energy returning. Although his father’s illness saddened him he knew he had to be the strong one for his sister and his kids. John now had a strong motivation to make changes in his life. He was hoping that he would have both the physical and mental health to give Stephanie and Ryan a fun and exciting summer vacation.

John Richards had another reason for looking forward to the trip to Kelowna. Since he was a young boy John had a strong interest in cryptozoology, the study of unknown species. Stories about Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster had always enthralled John. This all started when he was eight years old when his grandmother showed him a ceramic ashtray with a carving of a large serpent on it. John’s Grandma told him that the creature’s name was Ogopogo and

that it lived in Lake

Okanagan in British

Columbia. She also told John a story about a childhood friend of hers that had a close encounter with Ogopogo. Her friend had reportedly watched Ogopogo come out of the lake and start eating chickens that her parents raised on their farm.

It was early July and it was summer vacation for Stephanie and Ryan. Both of John’s kids worked odd jobs during the summer months so that they would have some spending money. Stephanie and Ryan both had paper routes and also did chores for some of the people in their neighborhood.

Stephanie was the first to arrive home. She had been doing some dog walking for a couple that lived on their street.

Stephanie had medium length natural blond hair streaked with bright. red hair coloring. She had a gold nose ring and a piercing in one eyebrow. Stephanie wore a black and gold Nirvana tee shirt that had a few holes in it. She wore stone washed blue jeans with a tear in one knee. Stephanie was part nineties Seattle grunge and part punk rocker. Her favorite band was Nirvana. Her other favorites, in no particular order, were Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Hole, The Plasmatics and Motorhead. Stephanie also liked The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. She owned a large collection of CDs.

Like her brother, Ryan, Stephanie lived with her mother during the majority of the year. She had a strained relationship with her mother. Stephanie’s mother did not approve of her daughter’s style of dress, her friends or her lifestyle. Stephanie’s mom, Susan, was very concerned that her daughter might be using street drugs. Her brother Ryan got along much better with his mother and often smoothed things over when Stephanie and Susan got into shouting matches. Both kids were very upset by their parents’ break up but had their own ways of dealing with it.

About ten minutes after

Stephanie arrived home Ryan came through the front door. John Richards rented a small house from his father. The plan was for John to inherit the house after his dad passed away. This would make it more financially feasible for John to do substitute teaching in the fall. The house was probably better suited to two occupants than three. It seemed that John, Stephanie and Ryan were always within close proximity of each other. John was accustomed to having the house to himself for most of the year. Whenever his two kids came to stay with him John found that he had quite an adjustment to make.

Ryan had just returned from doing some yard work for an elderly couple in the neighborhood. He arrived home dirty and sweaty. It was a hot day and Ryan’s first stop was the kitchen sink where he poured himself a large glass of water. Ryan was seventeen years old and was very good looking. He wore his long light brown hair in a pony tail. Ryan had a strong muscular athletic build. The girls at his high school found him to be very attractive. The only times that Ryan did not have a girlfriend was by his own choice.

 

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. He owned his own insurance agency,” 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.”

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 rebuilt 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 you again

Dad. I really miss you when

I’m living with Mom.”

“Yeah, me, too, Dad. We think you’re awesome,” added Ryan.

John started to get choked up and felt a tear trickle down his face when he said,”I love you guys, too, and I miss you terribly when you’re not with me.”

 

Chapter Two:

 

Professor Lionel Phelge was sitting in a chair just outside the dean’s office at The University of British Columbia. 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 British

Columbia.

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 books and literature. His tastes were somewhat different from that of his wife. 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 British Columbia.

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 for relief during his time of grief.

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 with compassion in his 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 recent 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.”

“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 certainly deserve a break from teaching. I have full confidence that in one year you will return to your duties as 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 in 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. Lionel began to sob and then checked himself. Don’t worry about my performance. 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 administration’s 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.

Chapter Three

Kyle, Brendon, Jasmine, Ian and Keesha 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 Keesha.

“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 both wrong,” said Kyle. “It’s the lake monster in Lake Okanagon.”

“You mean Ogopogo?” asked Brendon.

“What else?” Kyle answered.

“You guys don’t really believe Ogopogo exists, do you?” asked Keesha taking a sip from her grasshopper cocktail.

“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 Keesha.

“Yeah, we could go to the library and look up sites like Wikipedia, Discovery Channel, the History Channel and maybe Animal Planet,” said Ian.

 

“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 Heiniken. 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 slowly in his seat and broke out of his reverie.

“What did you say your name is, son?” asked the professor.

“Kyle, sir, Kyle Jackson. I’m in slot two of introductory biology.”

I think I recognize you Kyle, but I can’t be sure. There’s one hundred and twenty students taking that course.”

“Of course, sir, I understand. If you don’t mind sir, I need some advice on a research paper I want to work on,” explained Kyle.

“Well, you’re a step ahead of me son. I have just started a one year sabbatical today. As a condition of my continuing to receive a pay cheque during my leave, I need to submit a proposal for a research project of my own, “said Dr. Phelge. Of all the professors in this university why did you pick me? From what I’ve been hearing I haven’t been winning any popularity poles lately.”

“It’s your knowledge, experience and expertise,” Dr. Phelge,” Kyle answered.

“Okay, I’m half way through my second bottle of Heiniken and now I’m curious. Do you smoke, Kyle?”

“Yes, I do, sir,” answered Kyle.

“Why don’t we take our drinks and move outside to the court yard tables. I can remember a time when you could smoke practically anywhere. In the good old days we could even smoke in our offices and in the classrooms,”said the professor. “Oh, where did I leave my manners? What can the waiter get you to drink?”

“ A Jack Daniels and a Coke would be great,” said Kyle settling himself into his outdoor chair.

It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and a refreshing breeze blowing.

“Well, Kyle this is my first day of sabbatical leave and here I am still talking shop,” said Lionel.

“If you would like to talk about my research project at a time more convenient for you, that’s not a problem sir,” said Kyle.

“Well, when I first got here my intention was to sit by myself and get completely hammered. But now it’s Plan B. I want to hear what you have in mind for your research project, so fire away,” said Dr. Phelge carefully packing his Borkum Riff tobacco into his favorite white Meersham pipe, the one with the king’s head carved on the outside of the bowl. “I want to do an in depth investigation of Ogopogo, sir,” said Kyle.

“Well, that topic will be a challenge. It’s been quite well researched already. And as you probably already know, or will quickly find out, the scientific community as a whole does not take the study of sea serpents and lake monsters very seriously. What they want to see is a captured live specimen,” said the professor taking a few quick puffs from his pipe. “But how about you, Dr.

Phelge? Do you believe that

Ogopogo could exist in Lake Okanagon?” 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.”

 

Chapter Four

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 software 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 professionals 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 knew 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 hanging 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.

 

Chapter Five

 

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 since the last time they’d been together which was Christmas time. 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.

 

Chapter Six

 

“Professor Phelge, 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 first 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.

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 ambience 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 sound 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.

 

Chapter Seven

 

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 in 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.

 

Chapter Seven

 

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 Okanagon 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.”

“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.

 

Chapter Eight

 

Blake Riley’s file sharing business could pretty much run itself. He was now in a financial position to be able to afford a business manager and several employees. This left Blake with a lot of free time to pursue his own interests.

He read books voraciously. Recently he was reading numerous books on cryptozoology. His readings led him to videos on the paranormal that were of great interest to Blake.

Blake had become quite the student of The Roswell Incident that allegedly occurred in New Mexico in 1947. He had read the literature both for and against the reality of The Roswell Incident and had come to an unshakeable belief that a space ship that originated from outside the earth had crashed in New Mexico. Official government explanations of a weather balloon did not make much sense to Blake. Why would the US military send in its troops

to gather up the broken pieces of a weather balloon? Why would the air force threaten residents that if they ever told what they saw, they would be killed?

Blake even believed the stories about alien bodies being found at one of the crash sites.

Blake also believed in the existence of Bigfoot. One of his business associates had told him about a close encounter he had with Bigfoot when he was on a camping trip in Oregon. Every time Blake ran into this man he would ask him to describe his encounter in more detail. Blake found that his business associate was becoming more and more reticent to talk about the incident. Any time that he did tell his story of the encounter he would get choked up and his voice would crack.

The type of cryptozoology that Blake found the most interesting were the reports of lake monsters and sea serpents. He had studied the case of The Loch Ness Monster in great detail. Blake had even taken two trips to Scotland to look for the beast. Although he didn’t see the mysterious animal he had a chance to talk to a few of the local residents who claimed to have seen it. Blake was over joyed when he learned that Canada had at least three potential cousins of The Loch Ness

Monster. These were

Champ from Lake

Champlain, Manipogo from Manitoba and Ogopogo from British Columbia.

 

From his place sitting in the patio and his backyard Blake could see his personal bodyguard Daniel Mason doing his security rounds. Blake picked up his cell phone and called Daniel. Daniel was a well- built strapping young man with long blonde hair tied in a pony- tail. He has aspirations of becoming a professional wrestler, but right now he is being paid a generous salary to be Blake Riley’s head of security.

After the first ring Daniel answered his cell phone. “What’s up, boss?”

“Have you got a minute Daniel? I want to run some ideas by you,” answered Blake.

“Sure, no problem, boss. I’ll meet you at the patio in a couple of minutes.”

Blake picked up his cell phone again and called the kitchen. Mike Dawson, the chief chef, answered Blake’s call.

“Hey, Mike can you make a plate of sandwiches for Daniel and myself? We’re about to have a meeting in the patio.”

“Coming right up, boss.”

“Oh, and can you send along a bottle of Jack Daniels and a two litre of

Coke. And maybe a few Heinekens as well Mike?” added Blake.

“Will do, Chief,” answered Mike.

When Daniel arrived Blake asked him to take a chair right across the round patio table from him.

“Are you hungry, Dan?” asked Blake.  “It’s getting close to lunch time,”

“Yeah, I am a bit hungry, sir, but I can eat my lunch after our meeting,” said Daniel.

‘Oh, I’ve already made arrangements for lunch. You and I are going to eat our lunch right here. The kitchen staff will bring it down in a few minutes. I want to have a couple of drinks with you too. We haven’t had a talk for awhile.”

“Thank you, sir. But are there any issues with my job performance?” asked Daniel.

This made Blake laugh out loud. “You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve never felt more protected in my life since you’ve been working here. No, I just want to get your opinions on a few things.”

“Sure, what would you like to know, Boss ?”

“Danny, when I interviewed you for this job you told me that scuba diving was one of your hobbies.”

“That’s true. I used to do quite a bit of scuba diving in Lake Okanagan when I used to live in British Columbia.”

“I’m glad to hear that because your scuba diving experience may be very useful for what I have in mind,” said Blake.

“So, what exactly do you have in mind, boss?” asked Daniel.

Just after Daniel asked this question one of the kitchen staff arrived with a plate of finger sandwiches and a generous supply of liquor.

“Will there be anything else for you, sir?”

“Not just yet. I’ll call the kitchen if we need anything later,” replied Blake.

“What do I have in mind, you ask? Nothing less than to capture a live Ogopogo and bring him here to live in our small lake,” said Blake.

Daniel began opening a Heineken and gave Blake a look indicating total disbelief. Blake’s head of security just stared at Blake for several seconds not knowing what to say next.

Blake started to laugh.

“I’ve left you speechless,

Daniel.”

“Yeah, you might say that. You’re kidding aren’t you, boss?”

“This is no joke. You know how much I love my exotic pets, the more unusual the better. And what could be more rare than an animal that most scientists don’t believe even exists,” said Blake getting out of his chair to pour himself a Jack Daniels and Coke.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” asked Daniel reaching for a finger sandwich.

“You bet I am.”

“Well, I know quite a bit about these monster hunting expeditions. I actually took part in one a few years ago, but it was sponsored by National Geographic and was totally funded by their t.v. show,” said Daniel taking a long sip of his beer.

“Which monster were you hunting?” asked Blake. A look of excitement passed over his countenance.

“The Lake Champlain monster, Champ. The expedition only lasted around a week but it must have cost National Geographic a ton of money.”

“Was the expedition successful?” asked Blake.

“Well, we picked up some sonar soundings of a large object in the lake,” answered Daniel.

“Did anyone on your crew actually see Champ?”

“ No, but I got scared half to death.”

“How?”

“Well, I really haven’t told anybody this story because I can’t be sure what really happened,” explained Daniel.

 

Chapter Eight

 

Dr. Lionel Phelge had just got out of bed on a Thursday morning. As usual he was feeling groggy due to drinking a couple of shots of Southern Comfort along with taking the zopiclone medication that his doctor had prescribed to help Lionel sleep as he went through his grieving process over his loss of Edith.

For the first half hour upon awakening Lionel felt like he was trying to navigate a ship through some heavy fog. In a robot like fashion Lionel got the coffee maker set up and poured himself a large glass of water. It was time for Lionel to take his morning medications. The older that Lionel got the more meds got added to his list. He took Proscar for his enlarged prostate. He had an uncle who died from prostate cancer. He also took enalapril and a water pill for his high blood pressure. For the painful arthritis in both his knees and his back, the professor took Tylenol 3 three times daily. He was also prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants by his psychiatrist. These included cymbalta, prozac and amitryptiline. The amitryptiline also helped with his back pain and his trouble falling asleep at night. As Lionel did not respond as well as expected by his current regimen of antidepressants, his psychiatrist added the anti psychotic med, Abilify as an adjunct. Likely due to the large number of pills that Lionel took he found himself feeling excessively sleepy during the day time. A few months ago he went for a sleep study at the hospital. Lionel’s sleep was monitored all night while he was hooked up with electrodes. During the next day he was asked to take short naps every hour to check for other possible sleep disorders.

Approximately, a week after the sleep study Lionel had another appointment to meet with a sleep disorder specialist. The sleep doctor informed Lionel that he definitely had the condition known as sleep apnea. This was to be expected as Lionel was about eighty pounds overweight. The doctor also told Lionel that the daytime sleep study showed inconclusive results but that she could not rule out the possibility of narcolepsy. The appropriate treatment plan that the doctor selected was that Lionel use a CPAP machine when he went to bed at night. She also prescribed the stimulant medication Ritalin for use during Lionel’s waking hours. Lionel now had so many medications to take that he put all his medications in a little blue travel bag.

After Lionel Phelge had taken his morning medications, he went to his kitchen to make himself some toast. After the toast popped his coffee was ready to pour. Lionel took a knife out of the drawer and spread marmalade on his two pieces of toast. He then walked the short distance to his easy chair in the living room. As well as being an voracious reader, Lionel was an avid fan of audiobooks. He was sixty years old now and found that his eyes became tired after about a half hour of reading. To satisfy his hunger for reading material that would not over work his eyes, Lionel discovered audiobooks. He found that he could add at least an hour or two more reading to his daily routine if he listened to audio books. He was presently listening to the audiobook version of The Two Towers from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Lionel had just finished packing his pipe with Borkum Riff tobacco when the phone rang. Lionel picked up the receiver. “Hello, could I speak to Lionel Phelge?” asked Rick Jennings, supervisor of the House of Hope.

“Speaking.”

“Sir, your son Garry has gone missing from The House of Hope. Is he by any chance with you?”

“No, I haven’t seen or heard from Garry in about a year. The last time I talked to him on the phone was when I told him that his mother had cancer. I’ve haven’t heard from him since,” answered Lionel.

“I’m sorry to hear that sir, but if he happens to call you or drops in at your home could you let us know? We’ve already reported Garry to the police as a vulnerable missing person.”

“I certainly will, Mr.

Jennings. You’ve now got me very concerned,” said Lionel.

Lionel sat down and lit up his pipe. He made the circling motion with his fingers as he held the match to the tobacco. He had to admit that he hadn’t given his son, Garry much thought during the last few months. Garry has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been residing at The House of Hope for about a year now. Lionel had tried to contact Garry with the news of his mother’s passing. Lionel left a phone message for Garry at The House of Hope, but Garry had not returned his father’s phone call. As Lionel puffed on his pipe he now realized that he had more things to think about than just coming up with a sabbatical research project for Dean Sanderson.

 

Chapter Nine

 

The trip from Winnipeg to

Aunt Meg’s in Kelowna, British Columbia was a tiring but enjoyable one for John Richards and his son and daughter. John drove long hours to make it to Meg’s in two days.

Fortunately, both

Stephanie and Ryan had their driver’s licenses and took turns spelling their father off when he became tired from driving.

The truth was that John,

Stephanie and Ryan were all having the time of their lives. When you’re in the car for ten to twelve hours each day you have a lot of time to talk and catch up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives.

John asked his son and daughter what they planned to do after graduation from high school.

Ryan responded first, “Well, I’d like to continue my hockey and football careers after I graduate from Elmwood High. If you can make the pros that’s where the money is. Heck, you can make more than a surgeon working in a hospital.”

Ryan was a dedicated athlete who possessed both the passion and natural ability for athletics.

“Yeah, that’s great,” said John. “You’re very athletically gifted Ryan, but a lot of kids at your skill level still don’t make the pros.”

“I know that Dad,” responded Ryan.

“Also, you would have to make a choice between football and hockey. You won’t be able to make the professional ranks in both sports,” said John.

“Well, how about Gerry

James who played for both

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and The Toronto

Maple Leafs?” asked Ryan

“And who else can you name who was able to go pro in both sports? Also, Ryan, Gerry James played in the nineteen-sixties,” said John.

“Are you trying to rain on Ryan’s parade, Dad?” joked Stephanie.

“Of course not. I believe that people should follow their dreams, as long as they’re being realistic,” her father responded. “What about you, Steph? What would you like to do after you graduate?” asked John. John kept his eyes on the road, resisting the temptation to look at Stephanie.

“Well, if you didn’t think that Ryan’s goals were realistic you are sure not going to like mine,” said Stephanie.

“Go ahead, try me. You might be surprised,” replied her father.

“Okay. Here goes. Back in Toronto me and a few of my friends have started up our own punk band. We’ve only had a few practices so far but things are starting to fall into place,” said Stephanie.

 

Chapter Nine

 

As Dr. Lionel Phelge sat in his Lazy Boy and took comforting puffs off his pipe he began to think about his son, Garry. He hated to admit it to himself but, at times, he tried to forget that Garry even existed.

Garry had just turned twenty-eight. He had often lived with his parents for brief periods of time. Garry would leave  their home, temporarily, when he decided he wanted the freedom of living in his own apartment or that the present situation living with his family had become intolerable.

Things would usually become intolerable when Garry decided that either there was nothing wrong with him, or that he thought he was cured from his schizophrenia. The positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions would start to manifest in a few days after Garry stopped taking his medications. As these symptoms exacerbated Garry would frequently experience a complete psychotic break.

During his last psychotic break Garry went running up and down the stairs screaming that he knew that both his parents were reptilian creatures from outer space and that he could see them changing from their human forms into their reptilian forms. He would then try to place phone calls to the CIA and FBI to inform them that two aliens are living in his house.

The last time this happened Garry went outside the house to the street. He stopped cars to warn them that his parents are aliens and even knocked on their neighbors doors to deliver the same message. One of the neighbors became very afraid and called the police.

In a few minutes the police arrived at the Phelge’s door. Garry had walked a short distance further down the street and was still trying to stop cars and warn neighbors about his parents. Two police constables arrived at the family home and spoke with Lionel and Edith Phelge for a few minutes.

“Our son, Garry is very ill with schizophrenia. He must have stopped taking his medications and is having a complete break from reality,” explained Edith

“That’s right,” Lionel interjected. He is having hallucinations and is hearing voices that are telling him that my wife and I are reptilians from another planet.”

“Thank you,” said the female constable. Constable Myers and I will restrain Garry and take him to the hospital so that he can be promptly treated.”

Chapter Ten

 

Garry was medically stabilized at the hospital and would be ready for release in about five days. This knowledge created a moral dilemma for Lionel and Edith Phelge. They were both in their sixties and had to deal with the stress of Garry’s medical condition for approximately ten years now. The cycle had repeated itself too many times. Garry would experience a psychotic break and would be released by the hospital into their care. Garry would be compliant with his treatment plan for a couple of months and would take all his prescribed medications as directed by his psychiatrist. The positive symptoms of his schizophrenia would either not manifest or would be greatly reduced in intensity. The negative symptoms of the disease would still be prevalent. Garry would have very little energy and would sleep until the late afternoon.

Garry would be very lethargic and not be motivated to do much but sleep, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. During these times Garry’s parents found that they were still able to manage living with him.

Then after a few months Garry would decide that he no longer needed to take his medications. He would lie to Lionel and Edith and would tell them that he was still taking his pills. After a few days off his meds, Garry’s positive symptoms of schizophrenia would manifest once again and he would suffer another psychotic break. This crisis situation would necessitate another trip to the hospital to get Garry’s medical condition stabilized.

Lionel and Edith talked the recent incident over and came to the conclusion that they could no longer tolerate Garry’s residing with them. Lionel called the hospital to set up an appointment with a social worker to discuss alternative housing options for Garry when he was released from the hospital this time.

 

Chapter Eleven

After two long days of traveling, John, Ryan and Stephanie finally arrived at

Aunt Meg’s place in

Kelowna, British Columbia.

“Well, we made it here in one piece,” said John. “I told you that the old Taurus would get us here.”

“Yep, miracles do happen,” said Ryan grinning.

Aunt Meg owned a large beautiful house that resembled a log cabin. It reminded Stephanie of the main lodge at Camp Woodlands. There would certainly be plenty of room for everyone. The house was surrounded by trees on all sides except for the gravel road that led to it. The place was very peaceably secluded with Lake Okanagan very close by.

Meg heard the car coming and was already outside waiting to greet the family. The two dogs, Scruffy and Skippy leaped out of the car and ran up to greet Meg. They were both friendly dogs that like people.

“You’re just in time for lunch,” said Meg. “You guys must be both hungry and exhausted.”

“We haven’t been eating very healthy food the last couple of days,” said John. John, Stephanie and Ryan all loved junk food.

“Yeah, you should see our dad on car trips. He drives ten to twelve hours per day with very few pit stops,” said Stephanie.

“That’s right. Dad just stops for gas and we run into the convenience store to buy potato chips, chocolate bars, coffee and soft drinks. Around suppertime he’ll stop at some hamburger place along the way to have dinner,” said Ryan.

“It sounds like your dad hasn’t changed at all.

That’s exactly how I remember it when I went on road trips with him,” said Meg. “Which hotel did you stay at overnight?”

“Motel 6,” said John.

“That’s just like you, too. John. Always trying to save a buck,” said Meg.

“That’s right. I’m not making the type of coin I used to when I was teaching public school full time,” said John. “Subbing pays poorly and writing fiction pays worse.”

“I thought you told us that your cousin Ronnie left you a substantial inheritance,” said Ryan.

“It was a pretty large chunk of money but I didn’t win the lottery. I’ll need to use some of the inheritance money to pay the bills that my subbing and writing efforts don’t cover,” John answered.

 

Chapter Twelve

 

After Roland and Natasha finished telling Ryan and his friends their Ogopogo story it was time for the couple to leave. They had a dinner date scheduled at Natasha’s parents place that evening.

“Do you believe their story?” asked Ian.

“I think they’re telling the truth. I noticed that

Natasha turned pale and her hands started to tremble when Roland told the story,” answered Ryan.

“Yeah, the chick was scared out of her wits, probably traumatized by the experience,” offered Jasmine.

“I have some exciting news for you guys,” said Ryan.” I was just talking to Professor Phelge and-”

“Did you call him on your cell phone when you were in the bathroom?” asked Keisha.

Ryan laughed. “ No, he’s here on the other side of the pub. I had a chance to talk to him for about fifteen minutes and pitched our research project to him.”

“Man, you have guts Kyle,” said Brendon.

“Yes, you are the man,” Ian agreed.

“That’s why he’s the first string quarterback on the football team,” said Keisha.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence guys. Now let’s get serious. It turns out that Dr. Phelge is starting a one year sabbatical today,” said Ryan.

“That’s really fortunate for him especially if it’s his performance review year,” added Brendon.

“Yeah, the old guy hasn’t been himself since his wife passed away,” said Keisha.

“Are you taking any of his classes this year?” asked Jasmine.

“Yes, I’m taking a second year marine biology class with him. Last year I took his introductory course. You wouldn’t believe the difference in him from this year to last year,” said Keesha.

“Yeah, I’m in the same class with Keesha. Professor Phelge has definitely lost his spark. Last year he taught intro biology like a man possessed. He had such energy and passion for his subject. And this year the fire has gone out. He teaches like he’s in a daze most of the time. It’s as if he can’t wait for the class to be over,” said Brendon.

“It sounds like he’s depressed. He’s probably still grieving the loss of his wife,” said Ian.

“So, how is the professor going to be of any use to us in the state that he’s in?” asked Brendon.

“When I first sat down with Dr. Phelge he did seem sad and preoccupied, but when I started telling him about our research project, he perked right up,” answered Ryan.

 

Chapter Thirteen:

 

Garry Phelge knew what he had to do. He had to go to Kelowna, British Columbia to see his Uncle Ray and Aunt June. He had saved up enough money to purchase a bus ticket. Garry had many good childhood memories of traveling to B.C. with his parents to visit with his aunt and uncle.

The residual effects of Garry’s last dose of medications were starting to wear off and he was beginning to decompensate or lose contact with reality. He kept it together long enough to buy a one way bus ticket to Kelowna. On a few occasions Garry had tried to tell the staff at The House of Hope in Winnipeg that his parents were reptilian creatures from outer space. He had also discussed this particular delusion with his psychiatrist. Both the staff at The House of Hope and his psychiatrist had tried to explain to Garry that his belief that his parents were extraterrestrial reptiles was a manifestation of his illness. Garry now felt that both the staff at the mental rehabilitation facility and his therapist were “on board” with his parents and were lying to him.

 

Garry desperately needed someone to believe his story. His delusion first started when Garry watched his father, Dr. Lionel Phelge, being interviewed by a local television network. The television show was about flying saucers and extraterrestrials and Garry’s father was considered to be an expert on this topic. During his interview on this show, Dr. Phelge had stated that he had once seen a UFO or more correctly, a squadron of UFOs flying in formation.

In Garry’s way of thinking, his father only said this because he and his wife are from another planet or another solar system.

Garry thought that both his Uncle Ray and Aunt June were somehow privy to this knowledge about his parents. He was sure that they would confirm his belief when he saw them in person at Kelowna.

 

Garry felt very uncomfortable during the bus ride to Kelowna. He was starting to withdraw from the lorazepam in his system. The sudden withdrawal caused Garry’s state of anxiety to significantly increase. He also began to have both visual and auditory hallucinations during the bus ride as the residual effects of his anti -psychotic medications wore off. Garry was certain that the other passengers on the bus knew the secret about Garry’s parents. He also believed that a few passengers were also reptilians from the same planet as his parents. Garry’s auditory hallucinations involved other people on the bus talking about him. He heard the ones that he thought were extraterrestrials talking about how they would sabotage Garry’s efforts to talk to his aunt and uncle.

Garry walked up to the front of the bus to talk to the driver. “Sir, I need you to stop the bus immediately. I have an important announcement for some of your passengers.”

“What’s this important announcement about?” asked the driver giving Garry a nervous look.

“I want to tell the passengers that I am aware that there are reptilian creatures from another galaxy on this bus. They are trying to stop me from visiting my aunt and uncle. I want to warn them that I have a large knife on me and will kill anyone who tries to interfere with my plans,” answered Garry.

The bus driver had once worked as a psychiatric nurse and could recognize the symptoms of a psychotic break.

“I understand, son. I know that there are reptilians on the bus and I know exactly who they are. When we arrive at Kelowna I will let you get off the bus first and I’ll wait ten minutes before letting off the rest of the passengers. Then I’ll send them off in the opposite direction You will have a good head start on the reptilians and will arrive at your aunt and uncle’s place safely,” explained the driver.

“Thank you, sir. That sounds like a good plan,” said Garry.

Unfortunately, a passenger closest to the driver overheard the conversation. “Hey, people there’s a whack job up front who has a knife. He’s planning to kill us,” the man announced loudly to the other passengers.”

In a matter of seconds a burly man seated near the front on the other side lunged at Garry and brought him down to the floor. He starting punching Garry in the face until Garry passed out. The man then searched through Garry’s jacket and removed the knife.

The bus driver immediately called in for help. He told the supervisor that he needed the police and an ambulance immediately.

 

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

“ I gather you guys haven’t had a decent meal in awhile so you’re in for a treat. I bought some burgers yesterday and I’m ready to get the old charcoal barbeque going,”| said Aunt Meg. As Meg made the necessary preparations for lunch John, Stephanie and Ryan had a chance to unwind from their trip.

“The scenery is beautiful out here isn’t it Steph?” asked Ryan.

“Yeah, I love Aunt Meg’s cottage and living out in the woods,” replied Stephanie.

“ If Grandpa wasn’t so sick we could have a really great vacation out here, “said Ryan.

“Oh, I think we still will,” said their father. “Grandpa’s a pretty tough old bird and he has a lot of people praying for him. I think he’ll pull through and having you guys here will really boost his spirits. I believe God still has plans for the old man,”

“ Do you still believe in God, Dad?” asked Stephanie. “Yes, I do even though I’ve shown you guys little evidence of it.”

“Mom told us that you were a pastor of a small church when she first met you,” said Ryan.

“In a manner of speaking, yes,” replied John. The regular pastor at our church was in his seventies and was starting to lose his stamina. He wanted to retire and there was about a nine month gap before we found a permanent replacement for him. As I had attended a couple of years at Bible college, the elders of the church asked me to be the interim pastor.”

“How did you like being a pastor, Dad?” asked Ryan.

“I enjoyed it but I knew I was only holding the fort until the church found a permanent replacement. I

was just a young man at the time and the congregation didn’t put too much pressure on me. If they were having serious issues they usually went to one of the elders for support.”

“So why didn’t you finish Bible College so that you could become a full time pastor?” asked Stephanie.

“The ministry is a calling, dear and I didn’t get the call,” answered John. “Also I wanted to have a family one day and being a preacher’s kid can be awful hard on the children.”

“So you sort of protected us from having to live in a glass fish bowl,” said Ryan.

“Yes, but I was protecting myself also. I didn’t think I had the self -discipline to live a good Christian life and would probably fail as a minister.”

 

Chapter Fifteen

Lionel Phelge knew that it was possible that he might hear from his son, Garry in a day or two. If Garry had gone AWOL from the mental health center he would likely quickly run out of options for living accommodations. Then Lionel would either get a phone call from Garry or his son would simply show up at his door unannounced.

Until that time Lionel would give Kyle’s proposition some thought. Lionel felt that it was time that he stopped grieving and feeling sorry for himself. He was still a relatively young man who needed a new

challenge in his life. Also, planning this expedition would give him a chance to work with young people. Lionel had always liked having young minds and bodies in his classroom. He felt that this helped keep him up with trends in youth culture. Lionel held no illusions that his generation was superior to the youth of today.

Dr. Phelge was not yet ready to tell Kyle that he had once had a close encounter with Ogopogo. When Lionel was sixteen he and a few of his buddies decided to camp out close to Lake Okanogan. They sat around, drank beer, toasted weiners, told stories and generally had a grand old time. One of his friends brought along his acoustic guitar. The more beer that the group consumed the more they sang along with old classics like Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys and Hang On Sloopy by the McCoys.

As the weather was still fairly warm and the camp fire was adding to the heat, Lionel and his friend Kerry decided to take a speed boat for a ride. They figured that they would drive the boat out a little ways, anchor it and then go for a swim. The sun was just starting to set when Lionel and Kerry jumped into the water and started their swim. They both dove several feet under water. Kerry spotted what appeared to be a large log drifting towards them. As they were swimming in the direction of the log the boys noticed that the object was moving in an undulating, serpentine manner and appeared to have paddles. Lionel and Kerry both became extremely frightened when they realized that what they were approaching was not a log but a large living creature. The two guys hurriedly turned around and swam upwards

towards their boat. Just as they started up the speed boat they felt the bottom of the boat take an alarming jolt. Lionel pushed the throttle full speed ahead as the boys headed back to camp.

When they joined the rest of their friends by the camp fire both boys were trembling and appeared to be in a daze.

 

Chapter Sixteen:

Dr. Lionel Phelge decided that it was time to give Dean Sanderson a phone call. “Hello Edward. I have some ideas about my sabbatical research project. When can we meet?”

“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon, Lionel. I thought you would be at home resting up and enjoying your holidays for a few days,” replied Dean Sanderson. “If you feel up to it we could meet for lunch this afternoon. There is a new Chinese restaurant not far from the university that I’d like to try out. You just drive to the university and we can go in my car. Can you be here by noon?”

“ I sure can. I’ll come up to your office at noon Edward,|” answered Lionel.

At around 12:15 PM Dean Sanderson and Lionel arrived at The Shangra La restaurant. A waiter took their order and then brought the two men some Chinese tea.

“I’m amazed that you came up with a project idea so quickly, Lionel,” said Dean Sanderson.

“Actually, so am I. After our last meeting I walked over to the university’s pub and decided to have a couple of drinks to celebrate my sabbatical leave.

After about fifteen minutes one of my students sat down next to me at the bar and said that he had an idea for a research project that he wanted to discuss with me. The student’s name is Kyle Winter.”

“Oh, yes, our university’s star quarterback. I’ve talked to Kyle on a couple of occasions. He’s a very determined young man. I imagine he’ll go a long way in life.”

“That’s the impression I got. He’s sure not shy. That’s for sure,” said Lionel.

“Well, you certainly have me curious, Lionel. What idea did Kyle have for a research project?” asked Dean Sanderson.

“A thorough investigation into the possible existence of Ogopogo in Lake Okanogan.”

“Wow. Are you and Kyle going to work together on this project?”

“That’s the plan. Kyle mentioned that he also has some student associates of his that are also interested.

The next thing I’ll do is arrange for a meeting to be set up where I get to meet his friends and start planning our project.”

 

Chapter Seventeen

 

John, Stephanie and Ryan all chowed down on the burgers that Meg barbequed. They all had time to catch up on what had transpired in each others’ lives since the last time they were altogether. After lunch everybody went for a nap.

Ryan was so exhausted after the long car trip that he slept for two hours. When he arose it was close to 4:00 PM. Ryan pulled a Rockstar Energy drink out of his back pack along with his mp3 player. While he drank the Rockstar Ryan listened to Led Zeppelin’s, The Song Remains the Same. This had always been his favorite album by Led Zeppelin. His favorite track was the live version of Stairway to Heaven.

When he felt fully awake again he headed downstairs to Aunt Meg’s living room. The others were all watching an episode of X-Factor that Meg had recorded. It was one of those episodes where the judges were auditioning potential contestants and some of the performances were horrible. Ryan wasn’t that interested in watching the show. He told the others that he was going out for a jog and was also going to do some exploring.

A couple of minutes into his jog another jogger was just a few feet behind him. He turned around to see a very attractive young woman wearing a B. C. Lions jersey. She asked Ryan if he minded having some company on his jog.

Ryan told her that he would be delighted as he was just vacationing in Kelowna and really didn’t know anyone besides his family and relatives.

“Let’s stop for a few minutes and talk,” suggested the attractive, young female jogger. “We should introduce ourselves. My name is Monique Painchaud. I’m from Montreal, Quebec.”

Ryan stopped running and extended his hand,

“Pleased to meet you. I’m

Ryan Richards from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Obviously you speak

English, Monique.”

“That’s right. I’m fluently bilingual in both French and English. I have just been in Kelowna for a week. My mother lives in Kelowna and I spend the summer months with her. During the winter months I attend university and live with my dad in Montreal,” said Monique.

“I hate to be so blunt, but are you married or do you have a boyfriend?” asked Ryan.

“Neither,” replied

Monique. “How about you?”

“The same as you. I’m a free agent right now,” answered Ryan.

“Free agent, eh,” Monique laughed. “You must be interested in sports.”

“I am. I played both hockey and football at my high school. I just graduated this year.”

“What are you going to do in the fall?” asked Monique.

“I’ve applied at The University of Manitoba and intend on trying out for both their football and hockey teams.”

“What area of studies do you want to major in?” asked Monique.

“Education. I’m signing up for the four year Bachelor of Education degree.”

“So you want to be a teacher?”

“That’s plan B. I’d rather be a professional athlete,” said Ryan.

“Well, you’d make a lot more money. That’s for sure.”

“What do you study at university, Monique?”

“I’ll be starting my third year at The Faculty of Education.”

“Ah, so we’re looking at two potential teachers here,” said Ryan.

“ Hey, Ryan, there’s a diner about a mile from here. Do you want to meet there for lunch?”

“That sounds like a plan to me.”

 

Chapter Nineteen

 

Ryan and Monique jogged close to each other as they were both in good physical condition. After about five minutes had elapsed Monique glanced to her right to take a look at Lake Okanogan. About fifty metres away she saw a large object moving in the water. It’s shape appeared to be cylindrical and its color was black. To Monique it appeared to be a living creature and was definitely not a boat.

Monique stopped jogging abruptly and turned to Ryan. “Look Ryan. What’s that in the lake?”

Ryan stopped running and turned his head to look toward the lake. “I’m not sure, but it’s definitely some kind of animal.”

“Look it’s moving in undulations and looks like some kind of whale,” noted Monique.

“As far as I know there aren’t any whales in Lake Okanagan. At least any that look like that,” said Ryan.

Ryan had a pair of powerful binoculars in his back pack. He took them out and got a close up look at the creature in the water. Ryan felt chills in his body when he saw the animal’s head surface. “I know what it is now,” he said in a shaky voice.

“What is it?” asked Monique.

“It’s Ogopogo. The First Nations people called it the lake demon.”

“You mean it’s the real live version of the toy things they sell to tourists in the local stores?” asked Monique.

“It has to be. I’ve never seen a fish or other animal that looks like that creature in the lake. Do you have a camera, Monique?”

“Yes, I do. I have a digital

Samsung in my back pack.

I’ll take a picture of it.”

Monique quickly took out her camera and snapped two pictures of the animal. Just after she took the pictures she saw a fishing boat about one hundred metres away. The creature then submerged back into the lake.

“Wow, you took those pictures right on time,” said Ryan. “Let’s have a look how they turned out.”

Ryan and Monique both studied the preview pictures on her camera. The creature appeared to be very small and a great distance away.

“Well, your pictures will never stand as positive scientific evidence of the existence of Ogopogo, but at least we know what we saw and have pictures to back it up,” said Ryan.

“Did you believe in Ogopogo before you saw him today?’ asked Monique.

“The truth is that I did although this was my first actual sighting of the creature. My dad and I have both been cryptozoology buffs for years.”

“What’s cryptozology? asked Monique.

“It’s the study of unknown species like Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster.”

 

Chapter Twenty

 

About an hour later Ryan and Monique stopped running when they approached a Tim Horton’s coffee shop. When they entered the shop it was quite crowded. They managed to find two empty seats next to two middle aged gentlemen. The two men were engaged in an animated discussion. “Henry, what do you think that thing was that we saw in the lake?” asked Harvey.

 

“It’s hard to say. It was too far away,” replied Henry.

‘All I’m saying is that there have been several reported sightings of Ogopogo over the last month,” said Harvey.

“That doesn’t mean anything. A few years ago there were a bunch of ufo sightings over Brazil. Nobody captured any ufos.”

“That doesn’t mean that ufos don’t exist.”

“I suppose not but I’m not going to go around telling people that we saw Ogopogo today,” said Henry.

“I agree that whatever we saw was over one hundred meters away but it appeared to be approaching fast and then it suddenly submerged when our boat came around the corner,” said Harvey.

“That ‘s what is known as circumstantial evidence,” said Henry in response.

“Maybe not,” said Ryan after taking a sip of his coffee.

“What do you mean, son?” asked Harvey looking in Ryan’s direction adjusting the blue lumberjack jacket that he wore over his black tee shirt.

“I’m sorry. We should have introduced ourselves. My name is Ryan and my new friend to my left is called

Monique.”

“Pleased to meet you,” said Henry. “But you still haven’t answered our question.”

“Was your fishing boat anywhere near Rattlesnake Island about an hour ago?” asked Monique.

“Yes, it was. How did you know?” asked Harvey.

“Monique and I were jogging on a trail near the bank at Rattlesnake Island. Monique had just taken two pictures of the creature you saw when your boat rounded the corner,” said Ryan.

“ How do you know it was a creature?” asked Henry. He pushed his chair closer to the table.

“Oh, it was a very large living animal for sure,” said Ryan also moving his chair closer to the round table.

“It certainly wasn’t a boat or a log. I managed to take a couple of pictures of it before it submerged,” added Monique. “Fortunately I had a pair of professional grade binoculars. I got a good close up look when the creature raised its head,” said Ryan.

“You got a look at its head? Can we see those pictures?” asked Harvey.

“Yeah, no problem,” said Monique.

 

Chapter Twenty-One

Blake Riley got out of his chair to get himself another Heineken. He turned towards Daniel, his personal bodyguard and said. “Do you think any of the crew from the Champ project might be interested in another exploration?”

“For Champ?” asked Daniel looking at his boss quizzically.

“ No, this time it will be an expedition in search of Ogopogo,” replied Blake.

“If the money was right they probably would. National Geographic paid them very generously for their time and efforts.”

“That wouldn’t be an issue. I can pay them much better than National Geographic did. Where can I get hold of the crew?”

“I still keep in touch with the owner of the boat we used. The other crew come from all over the world but he may know how to get in contact with them.”

“Starting tomorrow Daniel that’s your first duty. I want you to phone your friend and get some leads on how to contact the rest of the crew. I’ll be working in my office all day tomorrow so you’ll have plenty of time to make phone calls. If I need any additional security for tomorrow I’ll hire some extra staff.”

“Are you serious boss? Do you really want me to make those phone calls tomorrow?”

“I’ve never been more serious,” replied Blake Riley.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Two

 

Within minutes the police and the paramedics arrived on the scene. An RCMP officer got on the Greyhound bus and first looked around to assess the situation. The first thing he saw was Garry lying unconscious on the floor of the bus. Blood was dripping from Garry’s nose, mouth and ears. Blue and yellow bruises were already starting to be visible on his face.

The RCMP officer quickly took charge. “I need all of you people except the bus driver to get off the bus now. I need a few minutes to talk to the driver and the paramedic team is going to need room to assist the man who is down.”

The officer gave the signal for the paramedics to climb aboard the bus as soon as all the passengers had exited.

A male paramedic was the first to examine Garry. He put his ear close to Garry’s nose and mouth to make sure that his patient was still breathing. A female paramedic put a finger on Garry’s carotid artery in order to ascertain that Garry had a pulse. The lead paramedic then announced to the rest of the team, “The patient is breathing and has a pulse,”

He asked Garry how he was doing to find out if his patient was conscious.

Garry responded by saying,

“A big man beat me up and I hurt like hell.”

A female paramedic said, “ Don’t worry sir. We’re paramedics and we will take you to the hospital. Two paramedics slowly and carefully put Garry on a stretcher. Garry howled in pain.

“The patient likely has some broken ribs,” said one of the paramedics. In about two minutes Garry was in the ambulance and was taken to the nearest hospital.

The RCMP officer now had an opportunity to talk to the bus driver privately.

“What happened, sir?” asked the officer.

“Well, the young man that they took to the hospital came to the front of the bus to tell me that the bus was full of reptilian creatures who were trying to prevent him from visiting his relatives. I tried to assure the man that I would keep him safe and would let him off the bus early. Some passengers sitting close to the front heard us talking and started freaking out when the man said he had a knife. A big overweight guy jumped on the man and started to punch him in the face. He then began to kick the victim in the ribs with his steel toe work boots.”

 

Chapter Twenty-Three

 

“The pictures were taken from too great a distance,” said Henry studying Monique’s pictures.

Although Henry was still skeptical the two men agreed to exchange phone numbers with Ryan and Monique before leaving the restaurant.

“Where do you want to go now?” asked Monique reaching behind her head to tighten her ponytail?

“Let’s go to my Aunt Meg’s. I can’t wait to tell her and my dad and my sister about what we saw today. And I can’t wait to introduce you to my family,” said Ryan.

“That’s very sweet,” said Monique. “I’d love to meet your family.”

Ryan and Monique jogged all the way back to Aunt Meg’s log cabin. As Ryan pointed out his aunt’s residence Monique said,”It’s beautiful Ryan. Are you going to stay here all summer?”

“That’s the plan. Our grandfather is very ill with cancer and is staying at a hospital in Kelowna,” answered Ryan.

“I’m very sorry to hear that your grandpa is ill but I’m glad that you’ll be staying for the summer,” said Monique.

“It looks like this is going to be our grandfather’s last summer and my family wanted to be here to say goodbye to him.”

“That’s really sad, Ryan. Have you visited your grandpa in the hospital yet?”

“Not yet. My dad and my sister and I just arrived today. We’ll be seeing Grandpa tomorrow morning,” answered Ryan.

“And you met me your first day of vacation. How cool is that?” said Monique.

“I think it’s very cool. Even though this is going to be a sad time because of my grandpa, our family still plans to have some fun this summer.”

“And will I be part of your fun, Ryan?” asked Monique.

“You already are,” replied Ryan.

Ryan opened the front door and invited Monique into his aunt’s log cabin. “I brought along a friend. Her name is Monique and she’s from Montreal.”

Stephanie was the first to greet Monique. “Are you from Kelowna, Monique?”

“No, I’m from Montreal. I’m going to be saying with my mom for the summer.”

 

Chapter Twenty-Four

Ryan’s dad was just coming down the stairs after taking a short nap. During his nap he dreamed that he saw Ogopogo. John Richards could see that his son had brought home a guest and he was eager to meet her. Ryan’s father was immediately struck by how attractive Monique looked. This shouldn’t have surprised him as Ryan had brought home many

attractive girls. Still, there was something different about Monique. She was so full of joy that she almost seemed to glow.

As soon as John got to the bottom of the stairs he extended his hand to Monique. “Hi, Monique. I’m Ryan’s father. I’m surprised that my son made a friend so quickly. This is our first day here.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you, sir,” said Monique.

“You’re very polite but you don’t need to call me, sir. John, will do just fine.”

“Okay, I’m very pleased to meet you, John.”

This made John laugh. “Why don’t you and Ryan have a seat on the sofa?” Aunt Meg had just come in through the back door. She had been in her backyard picking vegetables. Ryan introduced her to Monique.

“Can I get you guys something to drink?” asked Meg.

“I put a twelve pack of

Cokes in the fridge before I went for my nap. Maybe our guest would like a Coke,” said John.

“That would be awesome,” answered Monique. “Ryan and I just came back from a jog.”

“You found another jock for a friend, Ryan and a very good looking one at that,” said Stephanie getting up to get herself a Coke from the fridge.

“Actually, Monique’s studying to be a teacher like me.” Ryan replied.

“Your first day together and you already found two things in common,” said John.

“Three, actually,” said Meg. The two of them are also very good looking.” “Did you have a god nap, Dad?” asked Ryan.

“Well, it wasn’t very restful. I had a terrifying dream about Ogopogo turning our boat over,” answered John.

“What a strange coincidence,” noted Ryan. “You guys aren’t going to believe what happened when we went for a jog by the lake.”

“Let me guess. You two fell madly in love and now you’re engaged,” said Stephanie.

Chapter Twenty-Four

 

 

Dean Sanderson turned his chair and moved closer to Dr. Lionel Phelge.

“Lionel, I may be crazy but I actually like your idea.

Your timing is right. There have been a record number of reported Ogopogo sightings this summer. People are curious to know what others are seeing in Lake Okanagan. A well planned and executed research investigation conducted by The

University of British Columbia would carry a lot of weight. How soon can you get your students together for the first planning meeting?”

“Probably in a matter of a few days. I know that Kyle Winter is chomping at the bit. He’s a real go getter, “answered Lionel.

“That’s great. Give me a call as soon as you have a verified meeting time set up. I hate to have to ask you this, Lionel, but are you up to a project like this? This project will require a lot of time and energy. It could also be physically demanding.”

“Yes, I’m ready for this,” Lionel replied. “I needed something to break me out of the funk I have been in over the last year and I believe this expedition is just what the doctor ordered.”

“You’re starting to sound like the Lionel Phelge I used to know before Edith’s passing. I’m both relieved and happy for you. We’ve been close friends and colleagues for many years now,” said Dean Sanderson.

“I’ll call you with the meeting info in a day or two. Where should we hold the first planning meeting?”

“Right here in my office. Bring along all the students that want to be involved with the project,” said Dean Sanderson.

Just as Lionel got up from his chair he noticed something on the dean’s bookshelf directly behind his large oak desk. Lionel stood up and pointed to it.

“What’s that thing on your bookshelf ?” asked Lionel.

Dean Sanderson turned around in his swivel chair to see what his friend was referring to.

“This object you mean?”

“Yes,”

Dean Sanderson started to laugh. It’s a clay model I made of Ogopogo when I was in grade five.”

“I didn’t know that you also had an interest in Ogopogo?”

“Since I was a little boy,” replied the dean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Five

Bobby O’Connor was in a daze. He was reliving his recent talk with his editor. A sinking feeling had come over him. His reverie was broken when he started to overhear the conversation that Ryan and Monique had just had at the next table. The two fishermen that they were previously talking to had now left the Tim Horton’s. Bobby O’Conner overheard the word Ogopogo mentioned. He was listening to Ryan and Monique recap their adventure today.

Bobby moved his chair closer to Ryan and Monique’s table. He extended his hand to Ryan. “I know I don’t know you guys, but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. I’m Bobby O’Conner.”

“Yeah, I recognize you from your picture in The Kelowna Sun. You’re the sports reporter,” said Ryan shaking Bobby’s hand. “That’s me. Can I join you guys? I’d like to hear more about what happened to you guys today.”

“Well, Ryan and I were jogging along a trail that overlooked Lake Okanagon,” said Monique.

“Monique told me to stop and take a look at the lake. There was something strange in the water,” added Ryan.

“We looked out upon the lake,” Monique continued and saw a large black serpent like object moving quickly in our direction.”

“Right. It appeared to move by rapid undulations. It was obviously a living creature of some kind” said Ryan.

“It sounds like the most common descriptions people give of of Ogopogo. Do you think it really was Ogopogo you saw?” asked Bobby.

“If it wasn’t, I dont know what it was. It really shook us up to see it,” said Monique.

“What did the fishermen see?” asked Bobby.

“They saw something that looked like a fast moving log, but they were a lot further away than we were,” answered Monique.

“ Yeah, we showed them the photos that Monique took. Unfortunately, the creature doesn’t look very big in the pictures although in one of them you can see it raise its head and neck,” added Ryan.

The two fishermen were kind of arguing over whether or not our pictures were of Ogopogo, said Monique. “Henry was skeptical but Harvey believes we really may have photographed Ogopogo.”

 

Chapter Twenty-Six

 

“Can I see the pictures you took?” asked Bobby.

“Sure,” said Monique handing the photos over to the reporter.

“These pictures are better than I thought,” said Bobby taking a sip of his coffee. Although the pictures are taken from a fair distance you can tell that there is definitely a strange object in the water that appears to be moving. You can tell by the wave undulations surrounding the creature. Do you mind if I borrow you pictures for a day or two? I’d like to get a photography expert to analyze them. I’ve got a friend who does this sort of thing.”

“So you believe that we really saw Qgopogo?” asked Ryan. “Absolutely. After you’ve been a reporter for awhile you can sense who is trust worthy and who is not and you guys are the real deal.”

Bobby O’Conner got up to leave but not before he got the phone numbers where Ryan and Monique could be reached.

Bobby jumped into his Toyota Camry and didn’t waste any time getting back to his office at The Kelowna Sun. He sat in his chair and immediately phoned his friend the photography expert.

“What’s happening

Bobby?” asked Mike O’Grady, “I haven’t heard from you in awhile.”

“I need a big favor Mike. I need you to give me your expert opinion on the authenticity of two photos. I’ll need the photographs enlarged as well,” said Bobby.

“What are the photos of?” asked Mike.

“That’s why I need you to examine the pictures for me.”

“This sound interesting. I’m home all day today if you want to bring the photos along.”

“I can be at your place within the next hour,” said Bobby.

“I’ll put some coffee on when you get here,” said Mike.

As soon as Bobby hung up the phone, it immediately rang.

“Hello, Kelowna Sun.

Bobby O’Connor here.”

“Hi Bobby. It’s Harvey Perkins calling. I saw you at Tim Horton’s today. I have a great story you might be interested in.”

“Is it a sports story?” asked Bobby.

“Oh no. It’s much better than that. Me and another fishermen saw Ogopogo today.”

Bobby almost dropped the receiver and fell off his chair.

 

Chapter Twenty-Seven

 

When Ryan and Monique arrived back at Meg Richard’s cottage they were immediately greeted by the welcoming barking of the two dogs, Skippy and Scruffy. John Richards came out of the cottage fully expecting that the dogs were barking to signal the arrival of Ryan and Monique.

“ Aunt Meg, Stephanie and I have been wondering all afternoon what it was that you guys were going to tell us. Are you ready to tell us now?”

“As soon as we’re inside and all you guys are sitting down,” replied Ryan.

In a few minute everybody was assembled on Meg’s living room couch.

“Monique and I want to make sure that you can handle what we’re about to tell you. That’s why we wanted to make sure everybody is sitting down,” explained Ryan.

“Is your story so exciting that you think we might faint?” asked Stephanie popping the tab on her Diet Coke.

“It just might be. That’s we we’re being proactive. We don’t want to take any unnecessary risks,” answered Ryan standing

up a few feet in front of the couch right next to Monique.

“Okay, now you’ve got us really curious. Tell us your damn story,” insisted Meg now sitting hear the front of the couch.

“This better be a whopper,” added John Richards.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

“That’s wonderful,” said Dr. Phelge. We now know where to start and we’re ready to get this project moving.”

 

“I think that this has been a very productive first meeting,” said Dean Sanderson. “Blake could you call me as soon as you know for sure where we stand with your crew?” “The second that I have everything in place I shall give you a call and we can schedule our next meeting,” answered Blake. Riley.

“That’s what I like about you Blake. You are a true man of action,” said Dean Sanderson.

 

Chapter Twenty-Nine

At about 7:00 PM Garry

Phelge was still feeling the effects of the shot of Haldol that had been administered to him by the psychiatric nurse. He stared at the white ceiling above him and was slowly drifting into a state of partial consciousness. It was not a bad feeling. It felt more like floating on a cloud.

Garry was starting to realize that he was in a psychiatric ward. Garry heard a knock on his door. He managed, with a great effort to say, “Come in.”

 

A rather large man whose arms were covered with tattoos entered Garry’s room. The man looked very tough but he had a gentle manner about him.

 

“Hi Garry. My name is Todd. I’m a psychiatric nurse here.”

 

Garry managed to slur out,

“Pleased to meet you.”

 

“I was thinking you must be getting very hungry about now,” said Todd sitting down in a chair by Garry’s bed.

 

“Come to think of it, I am. I can’t really remember the last time I had anything to eat. I think I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich with me on the bus but I can’t remember if I ate it or not,” said Garry. “Are you the guy who gave me the shot of drugs?”

 

Todd laughed, “No, that would have been one of the day shift nurses. They all went home about three hours ago. Believe it or not you’re in luck today. The suppers they serve here are generally not bad, for a hospital I mean. Would you like me to order a supper from the cafeteria for you?”

 

“I would appreciate that,” answered Garry. “Any chance that I could get a cup of coffee?” Garry hoped that some caffeine might alleviate his mental sluggishness.

 

“No problem. I’ll get you a coffee from the staff lounge.”

 

As Todd left the room to get Garry’s coffee and to phone the kitchen to order a supper Garry felt a shot of optimism travel through his brain. “This nurse is all right,” he thought to himself. “He’s treating me like a human being.”

 

Chapter Thirty:

 

After about five minutes had passed Todd brought Garry a cup of coffee.

 

“I hope you like International Delight creamer and Sugar Twin in your coffee,” said Todd handing Garry the cup.

 

That’s exactly the way I like it,” replied Garry. “I’m hoping this coffee will help clear some of the cobwebs in my head.”

 

“That haldol is pretty strong stuff. They also gave you lorazepam. I checked your chart.”

 

“Well, I’ve never been a big fan of meds.”

 

“I can understand that. The side effects of some of

these psychiatric meds can be pretty wicked.”

 

“The worst is Seroquel. The doctors prescribed that drug for me the last time I was in the hospital and they made me continue taking them at the rehab treatment facility.”

 

“Which rehab center were you staying at?”

 

“The House of Hope in

Winnipeg.”

 

“How did you end up there?”

 

“Well, about a year and a half ago I apparently caused quite a commotion on my parent’s street. I don’t remember much about the incident. They told me that the cops picked me up and took me straight to emergency at the hospital.”

 

“That must have been scary,” said Todd.

 

“It was, but it wasn’t the first time that something like that happened to me.”

 

Just as Garry finished saying this an announcement came over the hospital intercom.

 

“Todd, Garry’s supper has arrived at the front desk,” said the ward’s receptionist.

 

“I’m on my way. I’ll just get your dinner and I’ll be right back,” said Todd.

 

Todd returned shortly with Garry’s meal. “I hope you like chili and fries. That is tonight’s dinner special. There’s also some apple pie for dessert.”

 

“That sounds great,” said

Garry. I’m starving. I must warn you though that the chili gives me lots of gas.”

 

Todd laughed. ‘Don’t worry we have a window in your room to open if the smell gets really bad.”

 

Garry was really starting to like this guy.

 

“I heard that you had a rough time on the Greyhound bus,” said Todd.

 

“That’s an

understatement,” replied Garry. “The bus was infested with reptilian creatures.”

 

“What do these creatures look like?” asked Todd.

 

“They all come in different forms. Some have heads like snakes, some look like large lizards and some resemble dinosaurs like TRex.”

 

“That must have been scary, seeing all these weird creatures. Where do these beings come from?” asked Todd.

 

“I know that they are from some planet outside our galaxy but they won’t tell me the name or location of the planet.”

 

“You’ve actually spoken to them?” asked Todd.

 

“Once or twice but they usually don’t like communicating with humans especially those that can see that they are really reptilians.”

 

‘When did you first hear about these reptilian creatures?”

 

“I first read about them on the internet. Then I discovered that my parents are both reptilians too.” “How did you find that out?” asked Todd.

 

“After a while I would start seeing their reptilian features for brief moments. My senses became more acute to recognizing that my parents were able to move in and out of their reptilian appearance at will. If a person does not know their true identities they are not likely to ever see their reptilian presentations. Only a select few, like myself, are on to them.”

 

In two minutes Todd was back with Garry’s supper. As he passed Garry his supper tray Todd’s cell phone rang. When Todd answered the call the fourth floor receptionist told him that he was needed immediately in the emergency department. “Sorry, buddy. There’s a patient in emergency who appears to be on a bad acid trip and needs someone to talk him down. That job always goes to me when I’m on duty. I’ll come back to talk to you when I get back. Enjoy your supper.”

Chapter Thirty

After not eating in over thirty hours Garry was famished. He wolfed down his chili and fries like a man who had been on a shipwreck for several days.

After quickly demolishing his meal Garry felt like having a smoke. He walked down the hall to speak to the duty receptionist. Garry asked her if there was anywhere he could go to smoke a cigarette. The receptionist told Garry that there was a small outside courtyard that was all locked and gated on the outside fence. She said that the gate was kept locked in case anyone was thinking about leaving the hospital. Garry was given the directions to get to the courtyard.

As soon as he got there he opened the door that led to the courtyard. He reached in his jacket pocket for a pack of Marlborough cigarettes. His dad had been in the United states recently and had bought Garry a carton of red Marlborough cigarettes. Lionel had remembered that these were Garry’s favorite brand of American cigarettes. Garry pulled a cigarette out of his crumpled pack. He must have scrunched the pack up somehow when he was on the Greyhound bus. He lit the cigarette up using a lighter that had a picture of the late Marilyn Monroe on it.

Garry then heard a voice in the dimly lit courtyard. The voice was coming from a wooden bench. “Can I get a light off you man?” asked the Voice.

 

Chapter Thirty-One:

 

Garry turned towards his left the direction that he heard the voice come from. From a light streaming out from a window on the ward Garry could make out an old well used park bench. ”Mind if I join you?” asked Garry.

“Sure, this bench is a four seater for regular size people but only a two seater for extra-large guys. We have a couple of really big guys on the ward now. What’s your name, buddy?”

“Garry Phelge.”

“Hi, I’m Wally Stanfield. So what brings you to our delightful facility?”

“Oh, I was just in the neighborhood and thought I’d check out the place,” answered Garry removing a Marlborough from its pack. “Man I hate these soft packs. They get crushed so easily and the cigarettes break. Would you like one?”

“I’d love to have a Marlborough. I haven’t’ smoked one in years,” said Wally.

Wally Stanfield was also in his  twenties. He had a stocky build, wore bifocal glasses and when he wore his baseball cap Wally bore a striking resemblance to Michael Moore the documentary film maker.

“Okay, now all joking aside what’s your real story? Don’t worry. I’ll tell you mine and I’m not easily shocked.”

Garry leaned over and lit Wally’s Marlborough with his Marilyn Monroe lighter. “I was a Greyhound bus on my way to visit my aunt and uncle in Kelowna. Sometime during the ride I got the crap kicked out of me by one of the other passengers. I just remember a fat, red neck, neo-fascist bastard that must have punched me in the face about twenty times. For an encore he kicked me in the ribs with his steel toe construction boots. The next thing I was aware of was the police taking me to the hospital.”

 

Wally took a long deep drag off his cigarette and turned toward Garry . “Okay,  I can see that you obviously took a shit kicking. That explains why you’re in the hospital but it doesn’t explain why you’re in the psych ward.”

Garry stared at the ground and focused on the yellow/orange leaves on the ground. ”Well, obviously they think I’m crazy.”

“So what would give them that idea?” Wally asked.

“The doctors and nurses didn’t believe me when I told them what I saw on the bus.”

“So, what did you see?”

“I saw several people on the bus that had reptilian features.”

“You mean like snakes and alligators?”

“No, their heads were shaped more like flesh eating dinosaurs like T-Rex and Allosaurus.”

“I think I watched a documentary about people who could change their appearances back and forth from people to dinosaurs.”

“I saw that show too. What they were saying was true, Wally.”

“Have you ever seen these reptilian creatures before the bus ride?

“I see them practically everywhere I go. Even at home. My parents both have this power. At least my dad does. My mother passed away about a year ago.”

“Wow. That’s a far out story man. No wonder the doctors and nurses didn’t believe you.”

“So that’s my story? What’s yours?”

Chapter Thirty-One

“Wally took a deep drag from his cigarette. “I tried to run away from the last group home I was at?”

“So why did you leave?’ asked Garry as he ground his finished cigarette into the ground with his boot.

Wally laughed. “It would take about an hour and three or four more cigarettes to tell you.”

“That bad, eh?”

‘Worse, they run the place like a jail. It’s all about rules, regulation and control of the unit. In short, all the things I hate. I value my personal freedom and privacy above everything else.”

“So how did you get to the hospital?”

“The police found me wandering the streets so they picked me up. I hadn’t taken my meds in a few days so I was starting to hallucinate a lot and was pretty disoriented,” Wally explained.

“When you were telling your story about your parents it reminded me that I have some weird relatives, too. Especially my grandfather.”

“What’s weird about your grandfather?” asked Garry. “Do you want another cigarette?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Well my grandfather has quite the story. It easily rivals yours about the reptilian creatures.”.

“Now you got me hooked. What’s his story?”

“Where shall I start?’ Wally wondered out loud.

“Up until about two years ago my grandfather worked for the provincial government in B. C.

He was a scientific researcher for The

Department of Fisheries.

That was Grandpa’s official title anyway.”

“What was your Grandpa’s name? I might have heard of him. My father is a marine biology professor at UBC and he may have mentioned your grandpa’s name.” said Garry.

Grandpa’s name is Winston Stanfield. His parents named him after Winston Churchill. His full name was Winston Churchill Standfield. Most people who knew him thought he was crazy, or if they had a gentler nature, they would say that he was eccentric.

Personally, I think he is the coolest guy around. He definitely marches to his own drummer and refuses to be confined by anybody’s rules. He had a diverse, eclectic set of interests and past times. If he were born about a century earlier he would have been admired as a rugged individualist or perhaps, a Renaissance man. He was the last person that should have been working for the government.”

“Wow, your grandfather sounds like quite a fascinating individual,” Garry interjected.

“A character would probably be a better choice of words. Gramps is like a character in a novel. What can I say? He’s my hero. I haven’t told you yet that Gramps was a Vietnam Vet and both a wrestler and an independent wrestling promoter.

“Wow, you could write  a book about this guy?” said Garry.

“Believe me. I plan to some day.”

 

“I want to hear more about your grandfather another time but I see that the nurse is signalling for us to come inside,” said Garry.

“Yeah, next time you want to go for a smoke come find me in my room, 109. I think that we will be having some interesting conversations,” replied Wally.

 

Chapter Thirty-Two

Garry walked back to his room glad that he had made a friend. He sat alone in his room for a few minutes pondering his conversation with Wally. Shortly after this he heard a knock on his door. It was Todd Finlay.

“Sorry for the interruption, man, but the guy down in emergency was freaking out pretty bad. I see that you finished all your supper. They must have forgot to send up your desert. It was apple pie and ice cream this evening. If you want I can go down to the kitchen to get you one. They usually have food left over,” said Todd.

“No thanks Todd. I’m pretty full from my supper,” answered Garry.

“Should I open your window now?” joked Todd.

“Not just yet,” Garry laughed.

“The receptionist told me you went out for a smoke break while I was gone,” said Todd.

“Yeah, I did,” said Garry taking a sip from the remainder of his coffee that had now turned cold.

“Was anyone out in the court yard with you?” asked Todd.

“Yeah, a guy named Wally Standfield.”

“Good. Wally’s an interesting guy. He likes to talk doesn’t he?”

“Actually, talking to him cheered me up a bit.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Todd putting his yellow legal pad on the desk in Garry’s room. He also took out his favorite silver Cross pen.

“I have to take a few notes on my clients when I have interactions with them. I enter some of them in the shift log book and some stuff I use for my case notes on my clients,” said Todd moving a chair closer to Garry’s desk.

“If I don’t write them down immediately I’ll probably forget what we talked about an hour from now.”

Todd Finlay finished up his interview with Garry. It was getting late and Todd could see that Garry was getting very tired. Todd picked up his yellow legal pad and pen and wished Garry a good night’s sleep.

Chapter Thirty-Three

The next morning Garry was awakened by the day shift nurse, Shelly Grover.

“Sorry to wake you up so early Garry. I’m Shelly Grover, one of the day shift psychiatric nurses. How did you sleep?”

“Very well. I probably could have slept a few more hours yet,” answered Garry.

“I know. It sucks but we have to give all the patients on the ward their morning meds starting at 7:00 AM. You happened to be third on my list of rounds,” said Shelly.

As Garry took a handful of meds he took a big gulp from his Styrofoam cup of water. “I wonder what cocktail of meds Dr.

Weisenthall has come up with for me,” Garry mused.

“I should have a chance to visit with you sometime this morning Garry. Right now I have to wake everybody up and give them their meds. I’ll see you later today. Do you want to get yourself a coffee and then go out for a smoke?” asked Shelly.

“Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me. I’m still feeling a bit groggy,” Garry replied.

“I think your friend Wally is out in the courtyard right now.”

“My friend, Wally? Word sure does get around fast here.”

“I just read about it in the log book when I started my shift,” answered Shelly. “It’s standard procedure.”

“Wow, I’m impressed. This place is run very efficiently, isn’t it,” Garry noted.

“Indeed it is. I think you’ll find the help you’re looking for here Garry,” said Shelly as she left Garry’s room.

“That’s good to know,” replied Garry.

 

Chapter Thirty-Four

Garry made his way down to a long table in the hall. He was happy to see an assortment of beverages ranging from bottled water and fruit drinks to tea and coffee. He also found his favorite artificial sweetener, Sugar Twin Original.

Garry made himself a coffee, opened the door and stepped into the courtyard. He felt a strong gust of wind and noticed that the sky was somewhat overcast. As he walked towards the courtyard’s long bench he could see Wally Standfield wearing a blue lumberjack jacket and a Winnipeg Jets baseball cap. Wally was color coordinated except for a pair of red Converse running shoes. The runners made Garry think of the late Kurt Cobain from the band, Nirvana.

“Hey, buddy,” said Wally.

“Is it windy enough for

you? By the way could I bum another Marlborough from you?”

“Sure,” said Garry offering Wally a cigarette from his slightly crumpled pack. He also took up one for himself and gave Wally a light from his Marilyn Monroe lighter.

“I love the fall,” said Garry. “It’s beautiful the way that the leaves change color.”

“Yeah, me too,” said Wally. With his stocky build, bifocal glasses and the casual way he was dressed

Wally bore a close resemblance to Michael Moore, the documentary film maker.

“I’m really interested in hearing more about your grandfather,” said Garry.

“Oh, yes, Winston Churchill Standfield,” said Wally with a chuckle. “He’s quite the man indeed.”

“That sounds somewhat like how Hamlet described his father,” said Garry.

“You like Shakespeare?” asked Wally.

“Yeah, I read a lot, even the old classics.”

“My, my,” said Wally. “We have another thing in common.”

 

“So back to your grandpa. How old was he when he retired from the Fisheries Department?”

“Seventy-two years old. Grandpas would never say that he retired though. That was the official party line story but it’s not what really happened,” said Wally. Old Winston would tell you that he was forced to retire. You see the government had wanted to get rid of him for several years,” answered Wally.

“Why was that?’’ asked Garry.

Wally laughed. “It will cost you three more Marlboroughs and about an hour of your time to find out.”

“You really like my Marlboroughs, don’t you?” asked Garry.

“Yeah, I like the taste of them and it’s the brand that my hero, Lemmy Kilmister smokes. You can’t buy them in Canada. I don’t know why,” said Wally.

“I don’t believe it. Another similarity. We both like Motorhead,” said Garry. “And I suppose your favorite drink is Jack Daniels mixed with Coke?”

“What else? Except they don’t let us have any alcohol around here. Apparently it doesn’t mix too well with the medications they give us.”

“Well, I’ve got enough of your favorite cigarettes to keep you talking for an hour. So let’s hear more about Winston Standfield,” said Garry buttoning up his navy blue windbreaker.

“We’ll have to postpone story time until the afternoon,” said  Wally getting up from the bench. “Group starts in five minutes and it’s mandatory for all patients on the ward. We have it twice per day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I’ll take you up to the third floor classroom where we have group and classes.”

Chapter Thirty-Five

“You have classes as well as group here?” asked Garry.

“Yeah, group is more along the lines of group therapy. Wally opened the wrapping on a chocolate bar that he had bought at the hospital canteen.

“I can’t go without my mid- morning snack,” said Wally. “That’s probably why I’m so fat.”

“You aren’t that fat,” said

Garry trying to keep the conversation on the positive side.

Wally laughed out loud. “You are too kind my friend. I used to be in great shape when I was a teenager. At that time of my life I used to play hockey, football and baseball. I’d also go to the gym to lift weights.”

“Why did you stop?” asked Garry.

“Well, at a coffee shop near my high school I made friends with some stoners. They seemed to like me and soon I was going over to their houses and going to their parties. They were stoners to the core and smoked grass practically every day. In a short time, I picked up on their habits. The more weed I smoked, the less motivation I had for sports. My weight also started to climb because marijuana gives you the munchies. A short time after I got sick and was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having schizophrenia.”

“You said that they have classes here too. What’s the difference between group and classes?” asked Garry.

 

“Group is more like traditional group therapy. Both Dr.Weisenthal and Shelly are there to direct traffic. It’s sort of like a free form, stream of consciousness, “How are you?” type of meeting. The point of it is to get us to work on some of our issues.” answered Wally.

“Does it work?” asked Garry.

“Who knows? It usually makes for some interesting sessions though,” Wally answered. “Occasionally someone will have a meltdown. That’s basically the reason Dr. Weisenthall and Shelly are there.”

“How about classes? How does that work?” asked Garry.

“It’s sort of like school. At times it feels like a cool alternative school and at other times like a university seminar,” said Wally. “You’ll see what I mean the next time we have class. Group only lasts for about forty-five minutes and then we can go out for a smoke break.”

Chapter Thirty-Six

After the morning group session ended Garry and Wally went out to the courtyard for a smoke. By this time the sun was breaking through and the sky was starting to clear.

“So what did you think of group?” asked Wally.

“It’s a lot to process but to tell you the truth I couldn’t get my mind off your grandfather during the session,” answered Garry. “Before group you said that he didn’t really retire from the Fisheries Department.”

“That’s right. It was more like a forced retirement. Either you take a generous severance package or we’ll find a way to fire you or at the very least make you completely miserable,” said Wally.

“What did your grandpa do to piss off his employer so badly?”

“Well, there were a lot of factors most of which had to do with Gramps eccentric personality. He was almost impossible to supervise as he always had his own ideas on how a job should be done or how a project should be approached. My grandfather’s way of approaching things rarely lined up with what his supervisors had in mind,” explained Wally.

“So, in other words his bosses viewed him as a pain in the ass,” said Garry.

“Exactly, but don’t get me wrong. They recognized that Winston was a brilliant scientific researcher. They just couldn’t deal with his personality,” said Wally.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

“My Grandpa was usually at odds with his supervisors most of the time but last year things really came to a head. Gramps told his bosses that he had seen Ogopogo. They thought that he had really flipped out this time,” said Wally.

“You mean they didn’t believe him?” asked Garry.

“That’s an understatement,” Wally laughed.

“But he worked with scientists. Aren’t scientists always on the look out for discovering new phenomena?” asked Garry.

“In theory, yes,” answered Wally. “But they protect their professional reputations very carefully.

They don’t want to look like fools. Phenomena such as Ogopogo, Bigfoot and the like fall under the umbrella of cryptozoology. In layman’s terms, the discovery of unknown creatures, most of which are considered myth or legend.”

“But have they ever considered the possibility that animals like Ogopogo and Bigfoot might be real?” asked Garry.

“I am sure that a few of them have but they wouldn’t discuss this with their colleagues unless they were at a party and were very drunk. Even in that setting and in those circumstances they would probably treat the subject as a joke,” Wally explained.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

 

“So what about your grandpa? Do you think he really saw Ogopogo?” asked Garry.

“Do you believe in

Ogopogo?” Wally said answering a question with a question.

Garry laughed. “You’re talking to a guy who sees reptilian creatures practically every day.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” said Wally.

“What about you Wally? Do you believe that your uncle actually had an encounter with Ogopogo?”

“I believe that he saw something that he couldn’t explain,” replied Wally. “On the subject of the paranormal I must admit that I’m somewhat of a skeptic.”

“Why’s that?” asked Garry.

“There’s just been so much fakery over the years,” Wally responded. “Let’s take Bigfoot as an example. Have you ever seen the so called video that was supposed to be Bigfoot in the early sixties?”

“No, but I saw some still photos taken from the film. My dad showed them to me in a copy of Argosy magazine,” answered Garry.

“So what did you think?” asked Wally. “Did you think the pictures were real or not?”

“They looked pretty real to me,” Garry answered. “Especially the photo where the creature appeared to be running away after spotting the hunters.”

“Have you ever thought how easy it would be to have a big man dress up in a black bear or gorilla costume? When I study the photos closely I swear I can see a silver zipper running up the creature’s back.”

“Okay, that’s just Bigfoot,” Garry said.

“All right. Let’s take ufos as another example. A couple of decades ago there was all this excitement about these super clear, close up pictures of alien spacecraft. The guy who claimed to have taken these pictures was a one armed farmer from the Netherlands. I believe that his name was Billy Miere or something similar to that.

Anyway, years later after he and his wife had split up she told the press that her ex- husband had faked all his pictures using models of ufos that he had made in his woodshop.”

“Okay, but this doesn’t pertain to lake monsters,” said Garry.

“Fair enough, let’s talk about lake monsters starting with the granddaddy of them all, the Loch Ness Monster,” said Wally. “Have you ever heard of the famous Surgeon’s Photograph?”

“Of course. The picture was featured on the cover of Tim Dinsdale’s books on the Loch Ness Monster,” Garry replied.

“Very good. Did you know that it was faked?”

“No, I had no idea. It looks so real.”

“Indeed it does but it was revealed in the 1990’s that what is really pictured in the photo is a toy model submarine adapted to look like a sea monster,” said Wally.

“Then there’s Manipogo, the supposed lake monster in Lake Manitoba. Some farmer claimed that he shot Manipogo when he spotted it resting where the shore met his land. He said that he was able to drag the dead creature into his barn for safe keeping. There was a rumour that the RCMP were called in to investigate. The story went on to say that the farmer offered the RCMP officers a deal. He would allow the RCMP to take the carcass of the dead lake monster with them and he would swear never to tell anyone what happened. The farmer asked the RCMP officers for two hundred thousand

dollars to close the deal. As the rumour spread the media contacted the RCMP and the RCMP press agent told them that the story was preposterous.”

 

Chapter Thirty-Six

“Okay, you said earlier that your grandfather claimed to have seen Ogopogo,” said Garry.

“That’s what he claimed,” answered Wally.

“All right. Where was your grandpa and what was he doing when he had his sighting?”

‘Man, you really are interested in this cryptozoology stuff,” Wally commented.

“I come upon it naturally.

My father is Dr. Lionel Phelge, the marine biologist. He is really into all that stuff. Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo, you name it. He downloaded the whole History Channel collection of Monster Quest videos,” answered Garry.

“Okay. That explains it. To answer your question my grandpa, Winston, was out in a boat one sunny afternoon hoping to learn something about the underwater plant life in Lake Okanogan. He brought a young diver, named Cody Hansen, along who he outfitted with an underwater camera.

Gramps was hoping that his diver would find some colorful specimens of plant life near the bottom of Lake Okanogan. As the diver was shooting the video, old Winston could watch him on the laptop he had on his boat. He also had a microphone hooked up to the diver so that he could communicate with him.”

Winston was taking a sip of his coffee when he looked at the screen of his laptop and saw a cloud of dust surrounding the area where his diver was supposed to be. Gramps became very worried and spoke into the microphone connected to Cody’s, “What’s happening Cody? I can’t see you?”

“I can’t see anything either. One second I saw this snake like head about ten metres away from me and the next thing I knew I couldn’t see anything. The water became clouded over by sand dust. I’m on my way up,” answered the young diver.

In less than two minutes   Cody was seen surfacing. Gramps helped him onto the boat.

“How are you doing, son?” asked Gramps.

Cody stood there trembling for a few seconds and then slumped into a chair.

“It was horrible Winston. I saw a creature down there that shouldn’t be there. Judging by the size of its head it’s probably huge. I’ll tell you this. There’s no way I’m going back down there for a second look.”

“I understand son but I need to know exactly what it was you saw,” said Winston helping Cody out of his diving gear.

“I saw something that looked like the head of an anaconda. It’s eyes looked red and were bright like headlights. I only got a glimpse of it but that was enough for me. Oh, man I think I shit myself while I was down there.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, son. You just got the scare of your life,” Gramps told Cody.

“Damn rights. I’m going to have nightmares about this for months,” said Cody.

“Unfortunately, you probably will. Do you want a smoke?’’

“Yes, please. Do we have any cigarettes on board?” asked Cody.

“I always keep a spare pack in my desk drawer on the boat. For emergency situations only,” Gramps told him.

“Well, I’d sure call this an emergency. After I have my smoke I’m going down to the lower deck to get cleaned up.”

“Sure thing. Take your time. I only want you to tell me one thing. Do you care if I tell my supervisor about your experience?”

“Go ahead. He’ll just laugh. He’ll think that we’re trying to pull his leg.”

“Most likely. But while you’re getting yourself settled I’m going to write up an incident report and I’ll need you to sign it too.”

“No problem, Chief, but I’ll say it again. Your boss, Ray Hartley, is not going to take this seriously.”

“That’s probably true but I do,” Gramps answered.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Bobby O’Connor wrapped up his interview with Harvey Perkins, got into his black Toyota Camry and drove back to his office in the Kelowna Sun building. He was feeling very energized. This was a sensation that Bobby had not felt in a long time. He remembered feeling like this back in his hockey playing days. It reminded him of his prime years when he would be skating down the wing looking for an opening in his opponent’s defense. Bobby would experience a rush of adrenaline as he picked his spot and wound up for what announcer Danny

Gallivan would call a ‘cannonating’ slap shot.

In just one day, Bobby had come out from under a black cloud of depression and a nauseating hangover.

Today was going to be a different day for Bobby O’Connor. His life was about to change. For today, he could forget about those miserable bus rides with the Kelowna Katfish hockey team. He would not have to listening to some young junior hockey player bragging about his latest sexual conquest.  The sports reporter would not have to smell the sickeningly sweet aroma of testosterone and male body odour. Today was going to be different.

Bobby O’Connor entered the offices of The Kelowna Sun and started making his way towards his editor’s office. He had to suck in his gut in order to squeeze by the secretaries and other reporter’s desks. Bobby now weighed close to two hundred fifty pounds and was starting to turn grey around the temples. He could see his editor, Jack Walby sitting back in his black executive’s chair. Bobby chuckled to himself when it occurred to him how much Jack Walby looked like the actor, Ed Asner. At times Bobby had almost slipped up and called Jack, Lou, the character played by Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore show. Heck, Bobby was waiting for Mary to appear in Jack Walby’s office at any moment.

On Jack’s desk was a picture of his third wife and all his kids from his previous marriages. An opened box of pepperoni pizza was sitting on Jack’s desk. There were three slices of pizza remaining in the box.

 

 

Booby knocked on Jack’s door and Jack waved for him to come in. Jack was talking to someone on the phone while cradling a Diet Coke in one hand. A few seconds after Bobby entered his office Jack

hung up the phone and motioned for Bobby to take a seat.

Bobby sat facing Jack’s long oak wood desk in a maroon colored leather chair with a slight tear in it.

“So, what’s up Bobby? You got the report on last night’s game?” asked Jack taking a bite from a pizza slice. “Oh, man, where’s my manners? Help yourself to a slice of pizza, Bobby.”

“Not right now, Jack but thanks for the offer. Now to answer your first question, I’ve got something much better than a report on a junior hockey game. I’ve started gathering material for a breakthrough series of articles,” answered Bobby.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

“What are you talking about? I’m already feeling that I might be sorry I asked,” said the editor cleaning his hands with a white napkin.

“We’re talking about cutting edge science, Jack. I’ve recently interviewed a few people who claimed to have seen Ogopogo. I’ve even got a couple of pictures that I  had verified by a photographic expert.”

“Ogopogo? What does that have to do with The Kelowna Katfish. Are they looking for a new logo?” asked Jack chuckling as he threw his crumpled up napkin into a nearby dark green garbage can.

Booby sat up and leaned forward towards his editor’s desk. “I’m very serious about this one. It could be a great scoop for The Kelowna Sun.”

“Come on, Bobby, you’re a sports writer. Shouldn’t you pass this material on to a reporter who covers science or the local news?”

“Absolutely not. This is my story. Anyway, aren’t you the one who told me I had to come up with more exciting stories?”

“Yeah, I am,” answered Bobby’s editor.

Chapter Forty

“Well, this is where it begins. Anyway, I’m tired of covering junior hockey. I’m a university grad and my interests and talents expand way beyond covering the sports beat.”

“So you’re telling me that you want to broaden your horizons?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, come to think of it, I was recently talking to the sheriff, George Anderson. We play on the same curling team. He was telling me that there has been a record number of Ogopogo sightings this summer.”

“That’s what I heard too.”

Have you heard about Ida Rhodes?

“Isn’t she the old lady who went missing when she took her dog for a walk along the banks of Lake Okanagon?”

“That’s the one. The sheriff told me that a lot of people in town think that Ida and her dog may have encountered Ogopogo.

George’s deputy, Bill

Rollins, also told him that his son and one of his young friends got quite a scare recently near the same area where Ida Rhodes and her dog disappeared. Why don’t you arrange an interview with the sheriff and his deputy?”

“You mean I’ve got your permission to work on my new field of interest?”

“Yeah, why not? I’ve been thinking it over. I’ve probably had you working the sports beat too long,” replied the editor.

Chapter Forty-One

 

Bobby couldn’t wait another second to get to his desk and start writing his first newspaper article on Ogopogo. What follows is Bobby O’Connor’s first draft of the article:

 

There have long been rumours of a mysterious creature or creatures that inhabit Lake Okanogan.This unknown animal is known as Ogopogo and first was mentioned in First Nations legends. They called Ogopogo, the lake demon. There have been many reported sightings of the creature since that time, often as many as ten per year.

Most people doubt the existence of a sea monster in Lake Okanogan and claim that it is a mythical creature. They state that the reported sightings are either hoaxes or are reports of people who have mistakenly seen some other object or phenomena.

Then there are the true believers who claim to have actually had a real sighting or close encounter with Ogopogo. There have also been reports of persons who have gone missing while near Lake Okanogan,

This summer has seen an unusually high number of reports of Ogopogo.This reporter has interviewed some of the people that have had close encounters with the creature.

I have talked with two very credible young people known as Ryan and Monique. They told this writer that they had recently seen Ogopogo while they were out jogging near the banks of the lake. Monique was able to take two pictures of an unusual phenomenon that she and Ryan claim is Ogopogo. I have had a photographic expert check these photos out and he told me that they have not been tampered with. Around the same time two local fishermen also sighted an unusual object approximately one hundred meters distant from their boat. I have had the opportunity to talk to one of the fishermen in person and he is firmly of the belief that  what they saw was Ogopogo.

 

Chapter Forty-Two

Wally took a long deep drag off his cigarette and turned toward Garry . “Okay, I can see that you obviously took a royal shit kicking. That explains why you’re in the hospital but it doesn’t explain why you’re in the psych ward.”

Garry stared at the ground and focused on the yellow and orange leaves on the ground. ”Well, obviously they think I’m crazy.”

“So what would give them that idea?” Wally asked.

“The doctors and nurses didn’t believe me when I told them what I saw on the bus.”

“So, what did you see?”

“I saw several people on the bus that had reptilian features.”

“You mean like snakes and alligators?”

“No, their heads were shaped more like flesh eating dinosaurs like T-Rex and Allosaurus.”

“I think I watched a documentary about people who could change their appearances back and forth from people to dinosaurs.”

“I saw that show too. What they were saying was true, Wally.”

“Have you ever seen these reptilian creatures before the bus ride?

“I see them practically everywhere I go. Even at home. My parents both have this power to change their appearance from human to reptilian. At least my dad does. My mother passed away about a year ago.”

“Wow. That’s a far out story man. No wonder the doctors and nurses didn’t believe you

“So that’s my story? What’s yours?”

“Wally took a deep drag from his cigarette. “I tried to run away from the last group home I was at?”

“So why did you leave?’ asked Garry as he ground his finished cigarette into the ground with his boot.

Wally laughed. “It would take about an hour and three or four more cigarettes to tell you.”

“That bad, eh?”

‘Worse, they run the place like a jail. It’s all about rules, regulation and control of the unit. In short, all the things I hate. I value my personal freedom and privacy above everything else.”

“So how did you get to the hospital?”

“The police found me wandering the streets so they picked me up. I hadn’t taken my meds in a few days so I was starting to hallucinate a lot and was pretty disoriented,” Wally explained.

“When you were telling your story about your parents it reminded me that I have some weird relatives, too. Especially my grandfather.”

“What’s weird about your grandfather?” asked Garry. “Do you want another cigarette?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Chapter Forty-Three

“Well my grandfather has quite the story. It easily rivals yours about the reptilian creatures.”. “Now you got me hooked. What’s his story?”

“Where shall I start?’ Wally wondered out loud.

“Up until about two years ago my grandfather worked for the provincial government in B. C.

He was a scientific researcher for The Department of Fisheries. That was Grandpa’s official title anyway.”

“What was your Grandpa’s name? I might have heard of him. My father is a marine biology professor at UBC and he may have mentioned your grandpa’s name.” said Garry.

Grandpa’s name is Winston Stanfield. His parents named him after Winston Churchill. His full name was Winston Churchill Standfield. Most people who knew him thought he was crazy, or if they had a gentler nature, they would say that he was eccentric.

Personally, I think he is the coolest guy around. He definitely marches to his own drummer and refuses to be confined by anybody’s rules. He had a diverse, eclectic set of interests and past times. If he were born about a century earlier he would have been admired as a rugged individualist or perhaps, a Renaissance man. He was the last person that should have been working for the government.”

“Wow, your grandfather sounds like quite a fascinating individual,” Garry interjected.

“A character would probably be a better choice of words. Gramps is like a character in a novel. What can I say? He’s my hero. I haven’t told you yet that Gramps was a Vietnam Vet and both a wrestler and an independent wrestling promoter.

“Wow, you could write  a book about this guy?” said Garry.

“Believe me. I plan to some day.”

“I want to hear more about your grandfather another time but I see that the nurse is signalling for us to come inside,” said Garry.

“Yeah, next time you want to go for a smoke come find me in my room, 109. I think that we will be having some interesting conversations,” replied Wally.

Garry walked back to his room glad that he had made a friend. He sat alone in his room for a few minutes pondering his conversation with Wally.

Shortly after this he heard a knock on his door. It was Todd Finlay.

“Sorry for the interruption, man, but the guy down in emergency was freaking out pretty bad. I see that you finished all your supper. They must have forgot to send up your desert. It was apple pie and ice cream this evening. If you want I can go down to the kitchen to get you one. They usually have food left over,” said Todd.

“No thanks Todd. I’m pretty full from my supper,” answered Garry.

“Should I open your window now?” joked Todd.

“Not just yet,” Garry laughed.

“The receptionist told me you went out for a smoke break while I was gone,” said Todd.

“Yeah, I did,” said Garry taking a sip from the remainder of his coffee that had now turned cold.

“Was anyone out in the court yard with you?” asked Todd.

“Yeah, a guy named Wally Standfield.”

“Good. Wally’s an interesting guy. He likes to talk doesn’t he?”

“Actually, talking to him cheered me up a bit.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Todd putting his yellow legal pad on the desk in Garry’s room. He also took out his favorite silver Cross pen.

“I have to take a few notes on my clients when I have interactions with them. I enter some of them in the shift log book and some stuff I use for my case notes on my clients,” said Todd moving a chair closer to Garry’s desk.

“If I don’t write them down immediately I’ll probably forget what we talked about an hour from now.”

 

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Todd Finlay finished up his interview with Garry. It was getting late and Todd could see that Garry was getting very tired. Todd picked up his yellow legal pad and pen and wished Garry a good night’s sleep.

The next morning Garry was awakened by the day shift nurse, Shelly Grover.

“Sorry to wake you up so early Garry. I’m Shelly Grover, one of the day shift psychiatric nurses. How did you sleep?”

“Very well. I probably could have slept a few more

hours yet,” answered Garry.

“I know. It sucks but we have to give all the patients on the ward their morning meds starting at 7:00 AM. Yo u h at 7:00 AM. You happened to be third on my list of rounds,” said Shelly.

As Garry took a handful of meds he took a big gulp from his Styrofoam cup of water. “I wonder what cocktail of meds Dr. Weisenthall has come up with for me,” Garry mused. “I should have a chance to visit with you sometime this morning Garry. Right now I have to wake everybody up and give them their meds. I’ll see you later today. Do you want to get yourself a coffee and then go out for a smoke?” asked Shelly.

“Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me. I’m still feeling a bit groggy,” Garry replied.

“I think your friend Wally is out in the courtyard right now.”

“My friend, Wally? Word sure does get around fast here.”

“I just read about it in the log book when I started my shift,” answered Shelly. “It’s standard procedure.”

“Wow, I’m impressed. This place is run very efficiently, isn’t it,” Garry noted.

“Indeed it is. I think you’ll find the help you’re looking for here Garry,” said Shelly as she left Garry’s room.

“That’s good to know,” replied Garry.

 

Episode 81:

Garry made his way down to a long table in the hall. He was happy to see an assortment of beverages ranging from bottled water and fruit drinks to tea and coffee. He also found his favorite artificial sweetener, Sugar Twin Original.

Garry made himself a coffee, opened the door and stepped into the courtyard. He felt a strong gust of wind and noticed that the sky was somewhat overcast. As he walked towards the courtyard’s long bench he could see Wally Standfield wearing a blue lumberjack jacket and a Winnipeg Jets baseball cap. Wally was color coordinated except for a pair of red Converse running shoes. The runners made Garry think of the late Kurt Cobain from the band, Nirvana.

“Hey, buddy,” said Wally. “Is it windy enough for you? By the way could I bum another Marlborough from you?”

“Sure,” said Garry offering Wally a cigarette from his slightly crumpled pack. He also took up one for himself and gave Wally a light from his Marilyn Monroe lighter.

“I love the fall,” said Garry. “It’s beautiful the way that the leaves change color.”

“Yeah, me too,” said Wally. With his stocky build, bifocal glasses and the casual way he was dressed Wally bore a close resemblance to Michael Moore, the documentary film maker.

“I’m really interested in hearing more about your grandfather,” said Garry.

“Oh, yes, Winston Churchill Standfield,” said Wally with a chuckle. “He’s quite the man indeed.”

“That sounds somewhat like how Hamlet described his father,” said Garry.

“You like Shakespeare?” asked Wally.

“Yeah, I read a lot, even the old classics.”

“My, my,” said Wally. “We have another thing in common.”

Episode 82:

“So back to your grandpa. How old was he when he retired from the Fisheries Department?”

“Seventy-two years old. Grandpas would never say that he retired though. That was the official party line story but it’s not what really happened,” said Wally. Old Winston would tell you that he was forced to retire. You see the government had wanted to get rid of him for several years,” answered Wally.

“Why was that?’’ asked Garry.

Wally laughed. “It will cost you three more Marlboroughs and about an hour of your time to find out.”

“You really like my Marlboroughs, don’t you?” asked Garry.

“Yeah, I like the taste of them and it’s the brand that my hero, Lemmy Kilmister smokes. You can’t buy them in Canada. I don’t know why,” said Wally.

“I don’t believe it. Another similarity. We both like Motorhead,” said Garry. “And I suppose your favorite drink is Jack Daniels mixed with Coke?”

“What else? Except they don’t let us have any alcohol around here. Apparently it doesn’t mix too well with the medications they give us.”

“Well, I’ve got enough of your favorite cigarettes to keep you talking for an hour. So let’s hear more about Winston Standfield,” said Garry buttoning up his navy blue windbreaker.

“We’ll have to postpone story time until the afternoon,” said  Wally getting up from the bench. “Group starts in five minutes and it’s mandatory for all patients on the ward. We have it twice per day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I’ll take you up to the third floor classroom where we have group and classes.”

 

 

“You have classes as well as group here?” asked Garry.

“Yeah, group is more along the lines of group therapy. Wally opened the wrapping on a chocolate bar that he had bought at the hospital canteen.

“I can’t go without my mid- morning snack,” said Wally. “That’s probably why I’m so fat.”

“You aren’t that fat,” said Garry trying to keep the conversation on the positive side.

Wally laughed out loud. “You are too kind my friend. I used to be in great shape when I was a teenager. At that time of my life I used to play hockey, football and baseball. I’d also go to the gym to lift weights.”

“Why did you stop?” asked Garry.

“Well, at a coffee shop near my high school I made friends with some stoners. They seemed to like me and soon I was going over to their houses and going to their parties. They were stoners to the core and smoked grass practically every day. In a short time, I picked up on their habits. The more weed I smoked, the less motivation I had for sports. My weight also started to climb because marijuana gives you the munchies. A short time after I got sick and was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having schizophrenia.”

“You said that they have classes here too. What’s the difference between group and classes?” asked Garry.

 

“Group is more like traditional group therapy. Both Dr.Weisenthal and Shelly are there to direct traffic. It’s sort of like a free form, stream of consciousness, “How are you?” type of meeting. The point of it is to get us to work on some of our issues.” answered Wally.

“Does it work?” asked Garry.

“Who knows? It usually makes for some interesting sessions though,” Wally answered. “Occasionally someone will have a meltdown. That’s basically the reason Dr. Weisenthall and Shelly are there.”

“How about classes? How does that work?” asked Garry.

“It’s sort of like school. At times it feels like a cool alternative school and at other times like a university seminar,” said Wally.

“You’ll see what I mean the next time we have class. Group only lasts for about forty-five minutes and then we can go out for a smoke break.”

After the morning group session ended Garry and Wally went out to the courtyard for a smoke. By this time the sun was breaking through and the sky was starting to clear.

“So what did you think of group?” asked Wally.

“It was a lot to process but to tell you the truth I couldn’t get my mind off your grandfather during the session,” answered Garry. “Before group you said that he didn’t really retire from the Fisheries Department.”

“That’s right. It was more like a forced retirement. Either you take a generous severance package or we’ll find a way to fire you or at the very least make you completely miserable,” said Wally.

“What did your grandpa do to piss off his employer so badly?”

“Well, there were a lot of factors most of which had to do with Gramps eccentric personality. He was almost impossible to supervise as he always had his own ideas on how a job should be done or how a project should be approached. My grandfather’s way of approaching things rarely lined up with what his supervisors had in mind,” explained Wally.

“So, in other words his bosses viewed him as a pain in the ass,” said Garry. “Exactly, but don’t get me wrong. They recognized that Winston was a brilliant scientific researcher. They just couldn’t deal with his personality,” said Wally.

 

“My Grandpa was usually at odds with his supervisors most of the time but last year things really came to a head. Gramps told his bosses that he had seen Ogopogo over the weekend. They thought that he had really flipped out this time,” said Wally. “You mean they didn’t believe him?” asked Garry.

“That’s an understatement,” Wally laughed.

“But he worked with scientists. Aren’t scientists always on the look out for discovering new phenomena?” asked Garry.

“In theory, yes,” answered Wally. “But they protect their professional reputations very carefully. They don’t want to look like fools. Phenomena such as Ogopogo, Bigfoot and the like fall under the umbrella of cryptozoology. In layman’s terms,the discovery of unknown creatures, most of which are considered myth or legend.”

“But have they ever considered the possibility that animals like Ogopogo and Bigfoot might be real?” asked Garry.

“I am sure that a few of them have but they wouldn’t discuss this with their colleagues unless they were at a party and were very drunk. Even in that setting and in those circumstances they would probably treat the subject as a joke,” Wally explained.

 

“So what about your grandpa? Do you think he really saw Ogopogo?” asked Garry.

“Do you believe in Ogopogo?” Wally said answering a question with a question.

Garry laughed. “You’re talking to a guy who sees reptilian creatures practically every day.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” said Wally.

“What about you Wally? Do you believe that your uncle actually had an encounter with Ogopogo?”

“I believe that he saw something that he couldn’t explain,” replied Wally. “On the subject of the paranormal I must admit that I’m somewhat of a skeptic.”

“Why’s that?” asked Garry. “There’s just been so much fakery over the years,” Wally responded. “Let’s take Bigfoot as an example. Have you ever seen the so called video that was supposed to be Bigfoot in the early sixties?”

“No, but I saw some still photos taken from the film. My dad showed them to me in a copy of Argosy magazine,” answered Garry.

“So what did you think?” asked Wally. “Did you think the pictures were real or not?”

“They looked pretty real to me,” Garry answered. “Especially the photo where the creature appeared to be running away after spotting the hunters.”

“Have you ever thought how easy it would be to have a big man dress up in a black bear or gorilla costume? When I study the photos closely I swear I can see a silver zipper running up the creature’s back.” “Okay, that’s just Bigfoot,” Garry said.

“All right. Lets take ufos as another example. A couple of decades ago there was all this excitement about these super clear, close up pictures of alien spacecraft. The guy who claimed to have taken these pictures was a one armed farmer from the Netherlands. I believe that his name was Billy Miere or something similar to that. Anyway, years later after he and his wife had split up she told the press that her ex- husband had faked all his pictures using models of ufos that he had made in his woodshop.”

 

 

“Okay, but this doesn’t pertain to lake monsters,” said Garry.

“Fair enough, let’s talk about lake monsters starting with the granddaddy of them all, the Loch Ness Monster,” said Wally. “Have you ever heard of the famous Surgeon’s Photograph?” “Of course. The picture was featured on the cover of Tim Dinsdale’s books on the Loch Ness Monster,” Garry replied.

“Very good. Did you know that it was faked?”

“No, I had no idea. It looks so real.”

“Indeed it does but it was revealed in the 1990’s that what is really pictured in the photo is a toy model submarine adapted to look like a sea monster,” said Wally.

“Then there’s Manipogo, the supposed lake monster in Lake Manitoba. Some farmer claimed that he shot Manipogo when he spotted it resting where the shore met his land. He said that he was able to drag the dead creature into his barn for safe keeping. There was a rumour that the RCMP were called in to investigate. The story went on to say that the farmer offered the RCMP officers a deal. He would allow the RCMP to take the carcass of the dead lake monster with them and he would swear never to tell anyone what happened. The farmer asked the RCMP officers for two hundred thousand

dollars to close the deal. As the rumour spread the media contacted the RCMP and the RCMP press agent told them that the story was preposterous.”

 

 

“Okay, you said earlier that your grandfather claimed to have seen Ogopogo,” said Garry.

“That’s what he claimed,” answered Wally.

“All right. Where was your grandpa and what was he doing when he had his sighting?”

‘Man, you really are interested in this cryptozoology stuff,” Wally commented.

“I come upon it naturally.

My father is Dr. Lionel Phelge, the marine biologist. He is really into all that stuff. Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo, you name it. He downloaded the whole History Channel collection of Monster Quest videos,” answered Garry.

“Okay. That explains it. To answer your question my grandpa, Winston, was out in a boat one sunny afternoon hoping to learn something about the underwater plant life in Lake Okanogan. He brought a young diver, named Cody Hansen, along who he outfitted with an underwater camera. Gramps was hoping that his diver would find some colorful specimens of plant life near the bottom of Lake Okanogan. As the diver was shooting the video, old Winston could watch him on the laptop he had on his boat. He also had a microphone hooked up to the diver so that he could communicate with him.

Winston was taking a sip of his coffee when he looked at the screen of his laptop and saw a cloud of dust surrounding the area where his diver was supposed to be. Gramps became very worried and spoke into the microphone connected to Cody’s, “What’s happening Cody? I can’t see you?”

“I can’t see anything either. One second I saw this snake like head about ten metres away from me and the next thing I knew I couldn’t see anything. The water became clouded over by sand dust. I’m on my way up,” answered the young diver.

In less than two minutes   Cody was seen surfacing. Gramps helped him onto the boat.

“How are you doing, son?” asked Gramps.

Cody stood there trembling for a few seconds and then slumped into a chair.

“It was horrible Winston. I saw a creature down there that shouldn’t be there. Judging by the size of its head it’s probably huge. I’ll tell you this. There’s no way I’m going back down there for a second look.”

“I understand son but I need to know exactly what it was you saw,” said Winston helping Cody out of his diving gear.

“I saw something that looked like the head of an anaconda. It’s eyes looked red and were bright like headlights. I only got a glimpse of it but that was enough for me. Oh, man I think I shit myself while I was down there.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, son. You just got the scare of your life,” Gramps told Cody.

“Damn rights. I’m going to have nightmares about this for months,” said Cody.

“Unfortunately, you probably will. Do you want a smoke?’’

“Yes, please. Do we have any cigarettes on board?” asked Cody.

“ I always keep a spare pack in my desk drawer on the boat. For emergency situations only,” Gramps told him.

“Well, I’d sure call this an emergency. After I have my smoke I’m going down to the lower deck to get cleaned up.”

“Sure thing. Take your time. I only want you to tell me one thing. Do you care if I tell my supervisor about your experience?”

“Go ahead. He’ll just laugh. He’ll think that we’re trying to pull his leg.”

“Most likely. But while you’re getting yourself settled I’m going to write up an incident report and I’ll need you to sign it too.”

“No problem, Chief, but I’ll say it again. Your boss, Ray Hartley, is not going to take this seriously.”

“That’s probably true but I do,” Gramps answered.

 

Bobby O’Connor wrapped up his interview with Harvey Perkins, got into his black Toyota Camry and drove back to his office in the Kelowna Sun building. He was feeling very energized. This was a sensation that Bobby had not felt in a long time. He remembered feeling like this back in his hockey playing days. It reminded him of his prime years when he would be skating down the wing looking for an opening in his opponent’s defense. Bobby would experience a rush of adrenaline as he picked his spot and wound up for what announcer Danny

Gallivan would call a ‘cannonating’ slap shot.

In just one day, Bobby had come out from under a black cloud of depression and a nauseating hangover.

Today was going to be a different day for Bobby O’Connor. His life was about to change. For today, he could forget about those miserable bus rides with the Kelowna Katfish hockey team. He would not have to listening to some young junior hockey player bragging about his latest sexual conquest.  The sports reporter would not have to smell the sickeningly sweet aroma of testosterone and male body odour. Today was going to be different.

Bobby O’Connor entered the offices of The Kelowna Sun and started making his way towards his editor’s office. He had to suck in his gut in order to squeeze by the secretaries and other reporter’s desks. Bobby now weighed close to two hundred fifty pounds and was starting to turn grey around the temples. He could see his editor, Jack Walby sitting back in his black executive’s chair. Bobby chuckled to himself when it occurred to him how much Jack Walby looked like the actor, Ed Asner. At times Bobby had almost slipped up and called Jack, Lou, the character played by Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore show. Heck, Bobby was waiting for Mary to appear in Jack Walby’s office at any moment.

On Jack’s desk was a picture of his third wife and all his kids from his previous marriages. An opened box of pepperoni pizza was sitting on Jack’s desk. There were three slices of pizza remaining in the box.

 

 

Booby knocked on Jack’s door and Jack waved for him to come in. Jack was talking to someone on the phone while cradling a Diet Coke in one hand. A few seconds after Bobby entered his office Jack

hung up the phone and motioned for Bobby to take a seat.

Bobby sat facing Jack’s long oak wood desk in a maroon colored leather chair with a slight tear in it.

“So, what’s up Bobby? You got the report on last night’s game?” asked Jack taking a bite from a pizza slice. “Oh, man, where’s my manners? Help yourself to a slice of pizza, Bobby.”

“Not right now, Jack but thanks for the offer. Now to answer your first question, I’ve got something much better than a report on a junior hockey game. I’ve started gathering material for a breakthrough series of articles,” answered Bobby.

“What are you talking about? I’m already feeling that I might be sorry I asked,” said the editor cleaning his hands with a white napkin.

“We’re talking about cutting edge science, Jack. I’ve recently interviewed a few people who claimed to have seen Ogopogo. I’ve even got a couple of pictures that I got verified by a photographic expert.”

“Ogopogo? What does that have to do with The Kelowna Katfish. Are they looking for a new logo?” asked Jack chuckling as he threw his crumpled up napkin into a nearby green garbage can.

Booby sat up and leaned forward towards his editor’s desk. “I’m very serious about this one. It could be a great scoop for The Kelowna Sun.”

“ Come on, Bobby, you’re a sports writer. Shouldn’t you pass this material on to a reporter who covers science or the local news?”

“Absolutely not. This is my story. Anyway, aren’t you the one who told me I had to come up with more exciting stories?”

“Yeah, I am,” answered Bobby’s editor.

“Well, this is where it begins. Anyway, I’m tired of covering junior hockey. I’m a university grad and my interests and talents expand way beyond covering the sports beat.”

“So you’re telling me that you want to broaden your horizons?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, come to think of it, I was recently talking to the sheriff, George Anderson. We play on the same curling team. He was telling me that there has been a record number of Ogopogo sightings this summer.”

“That’s what I heard too.”

Have you heard about Ida Rhodes?

“Isn’t she the old lady who went missing when she took her dog for a walk along the banks of Lake Okanagon?”

“That’s the one. The sheriff told me that a lot of people in town think that Ida and her dog may have encountered Ogopogo.

George’s deputy, Bill

Rollins, also told him that his son and one of his young friends got quite a scare recently near the same area where Ida Rhodes and her dog disappeared. Why don’t you arrange an interview with the sheriff and his deputy?”

“You mean I’ve got your permission to work on my new field of interest?”

“Yeah, why not? I’ve been thinking it over. I’ve probably had you working the sports beat too long,” replied the editor.

 

Bobby couldn’t wait another second to get to his desk and start writing his first newspaper article on Ogopogo. What foolows is Bobby O’Connor’s first draft of the article:

 

There have long been rumours of a mysterious creature that inhabits Lake Okanogan. This unknown animal is known as Ogopogo and first was mentioned in First Nations legends. They called Ogopogo, the lake demon. There have been many reported sightings of the creature since that time, often as many as ten per year.

Most people doubt the existence of a sea monster in Lake Okanogan and claim that it is a mythical creature. They state that the reported sightings are either hoaxes or are reports of people who have mistakenly seen some other object or phenomena.

Then there are the true believers who claim to have actually had a real sighting or close encounter with Ogopogo. There have also been reports of persons who have gone missing while near Lake Okanogan,

This summer has seen an unusually high number of reports of Ogopogo.This reporter has interviewed some of the people that have had close encounters with the creature.

I have talked with two very credible young people known as Ryan and Monique. They told this writer that they had recently seen Ogopogo while they were out jogging near the banks of the lake. Monique was able to take two pictures of an unusual phenomenon that she and Ryan claim is Ogopogo. I have had a photographic expert check these photos out and he told me that they have not been tampered with. Around the same time two local fishermen also sighted an unusual object approximately one hundred meters distant from their boat. I have had the opportunity to talk to one of the fishermen in person and he is firmly of the belief that  what they saw was Ogopogo.

Episode 76 of the Lake Demon

 

Wally took a long deep drag off his cigarette and turned toward Garry . “Okay,  I can see that you obviously took a shit kicking. That explains why you’re in the hospital but it doesn’t explain why you’re in the psych ward.”

Garry stared at the ground and focused on the yelloworange leaves on the ground. ”Well, obviously they think I’m crazy.”

“So what would give them that idea?” Wally asked.

“The doctors and nurses didn’t believe me when I told them what I saw on the bus.”

“So, what did you see?”

“I saw several people on the bus that had reptilian features.”

“You mean like snakes and alligators?”

“No, their heads were shaped more like flesh eating dinosaurs like T-Rex and Allosaurus.”

“I think I watched a documentary about people who could change their appearances back and forth from people to dinosaurs.”

“I saw that show too. What they were saying was true, Wally.”

“Have you ever seen these reptilian creatures before the bus ride?

“I see them practically everywhere I go. Even at home. My parents both have this power. At least my dad does. My mother passed away about a year ago.”

“Wow. That’s a far out story man. No wonder the doctors and nurses didn’t believe you.”

Episode 77:

“So that’s my story? What’s yours?”

“Wally took a deep drag from his cigarette. “I tried to run away from the last group home I was at?”

“So why did you leave?’ asked Garry as he ground his finished cigarette into the ground with his boot.

Wally laughed. “It would take about an hour and three or four more cigarettes to tell you.”

“That bad, eh?”

‘Worse, they run the place like a jail. It’s all about rules, regulation and control of the unit. In short, all the things I hate. I value my personal freedom and privacy above everything else.”

“So how did you get to the hospital?”

“The police found me wandering the streets so they picked me up. I hadn’t taken my meds in a few days so I was starting to hallucinate a lot and was pretty disoriented,” Wally explained.

“When you were telling your story about your parents it reminded me that I have some weird relatives, too. Especially my grandfather.”

“What’s weird about your grandfather?” asked Garry. “Do you want another cigarette?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Well my grandfather has quite the story. It easily rivals yours about the reptilian creatures.”. “Now you got me hooked. What’s his story?”

Episode 78

“Where shall I start?’ Wally wondered out loud.

“Up until about two years ago my grandfather worked for the provincial government in B. C.

He was a scientific researcher for The Department of Fisheries. That was Grandpa’s official title anyway.”

“What was your Grandpa’s name? I might have heard of him. My father is a marine biology professor at UBC and he may have mentioned your grandpa’s name.” said Garry.

Grandpa’s name is Winston Stanfield. His parents named him after Winston Churchill. His full name was Winston Churchill Standfield. Most people who knew him thought he was crazy, or if they had a gentler nature, they would say that he was eccentric.

Personally, I think he is the coolest guy around. He definitely marches to his own drummer and refuses to be confined by anybody’s rules. He had a diverse, eclectic set of interests and past times. If he were born about a century earlier he would have been admired as a rugged individualist or perhaps, a Renaissance man. He was the last person that should have been working for the government.”

“Wow, your grandfather sounds like quite a fascinating individual,” Garry interjected.

“A character would probably be a better choice of words. Gramps is like a character in a novel. What can I say? He’s my hero. I haven’t told you yet that Gramps was a Vietnam Vet and both a wrestler and an independent wrestling promoter.

“Wow, you could write  a book about this guy?” said Garry.

“Believe me. I plan to some day.”

Episode 79:

“I want to hear more about your grandfather another time but I see that the nurse is signalling for us to come inside,” said Garry.

“Yeah, next time you want to go for a smoke come find me in my room, 109. I think that we will be having some interesting conversations,” replied Wally.

Garry walked back to his room glad that he had made a friend. He sat alone in his room for a few minutes pondering his conversation with Wally.

Shortly after this he heard a knock on his door. It was Todd Finlay.

“Sorry for the interruption, man, but the guy down in emergency was freaking out pretty bad. I see that you finished all your supper. They must have forgot to send up your desert. It was apple pie and ice cream this evening. If you want I can go down to the kitchen to get you one. They usually have food left over,” said Todd.

“No thanks Todd. I’m pretty full from my supper,” answered Garry.

“Should I open your window now?” joked Todd.

“Not just yet,” Garry laughed.

“The receptionist told me you went out for a smoke break while I was gone,” said Todd.

“Yeah, I did,” said Garry taking a sip from the remainder of his coffee that had now turned cold.

“Was anyone out in the court yard with you?” asked Todd.

“Yeah, a guy named Wally Standfield.”

“Good. Wally’s an interesting guy. He likes to talk doesn’t he?”

“Actually, talking to him cheered me up a bit.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Todd putting his yellow legal pad on the desk in Garry’s room. He also took out his favorite silver Cross pen.

“I have to take a few notes on my clients when I have interactions with them. I enter some of them in the shift log book and some stuff I use for my case notes on my clients,” said Todd moving a chair closer to Garry’s desk.

“If I don’t write them down immediately I’ll probably forget what we talked about an hour from now.”

 

Episode 80:

Todd Finlay finished up his interview with Garry. It was getting late and Todd could see that Garry was getting very tired. Todd picked up his yellow legal pad and pen and wished Garry a good night’s sleep.

The next morning Garry was awakened by the day shift nurse, Shelly Grover.

“Sorry to wake you up so early Garry. I’m Shelly Grover, one of the day shift psychiatric nurses. How did you sleep?”

“Very well. I probably could have slept a few more

hours yet,” answered Garry.

“I know. It sucks but we have to give all the patients on the ward their morning meds starting at 7:00 AM. You happened to be third on my list of rounds,” said Shelly.

As Garry took a handful of meds he took a big gulp from his Styrofoam cup of water. “I wonder what cocktail of meds Dr. Weisenthall has come up with for me,” Garry mused. “I should have a chance to visit with you sometime this morning Garry. Right now I have to wake everybody up and give them their meds. I’ll see you later today. Do you want to get yourself a coffee and then go out for a smoke?” asked Shelly.

“Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me. I’m still feeling a bit groggy,” Garry replied.

“I think your friend Wally is out in the courtyard right now.”

“My friend, Wally? Word sure does get around fast here.”

“I just read about it in the log book when I started my shift,” answered Shelly. “It’s standard procedure.”

“Wow, I’m impressed. This place is run very efficiently, isn’t it,” Garry noted.

“Indeed it is. I think you’ll find the help you’re looking for here Garry,” said Shelly as she left Garry’s room.

“That’s good to know,” replied Garry.

 

Episode 81:

Garry made his way down to a long table in the hall. He was happy to see an assortment of beverages ranging from bottled water and fruit drinks to tea and coffee. He also found his favorite artificial sweetener, Sugar Twin Original.

Garry made himself a coffee, opened the door and stepped into the courtyard. He felt a strong gust of wind and noticed that the sky was somewhat overcast. As he walked towards the courtyard’s long bench he could see Wally Standfield wearing a blue lumberjack jacket and a Winnipeg Jets baseball cap. Wally was color coordinated except for a pair of red Converse running shoes. The runners made Garry think of the late Kurt Cobain from the band, Nirvana.

“Hey, buddy,” said Wally. “Is it windy enough for you? By the way could I bum another Marlborough from you?”

“Sure,” said Garry offering Wally a cigarette from his slightly crumpled pack. He also took up one for himself and gave Wally a light from his Marilyn Monroe lighter.

“I love the fall,” said Garry. “It’s beautiful the way that the leaves change color.”

“Yeah, me too,” said Wally. With his stocky build, bifocal glasses and the casual way he was dressed Wally bore a close resemblance to Michael Moore, the documentary film maker.

“I’m really interested in hearing more about your grandfather,” said Garry.

“Oh, yes, Winston Churchill Standfield,” said Wally with a chuckle. “He’s quite the man indeed.”

“That sounds somewhat like how Hamlet described his father,” said Garry.

“You like Shakespeare?” asked Wally.

“Yeah, I read a lot, even the old classics.”

“My, my,” said Wally. “We have another thing in common.”

Episode 82:

“So back to your grandpa. How old was he when he retired from the Fisheries Department?”

“Seventy-two years old. Grandpas would never say that he retired though. That was the official party line story but it’s not what really happened,” said Wally. Old Winston would tell you that he was forced to retire. You see the government had wanted to get rid of him for several years,” answered Wally.

“Why was that?’’ asked Garry.

Wally laughed. “It will cost you three more Marlboroughs and about an hour of your time to find out.”

“You really like my Marlboroughs, don’t you?” asked Garry.

“Yeah, I like the taste of them and it’s the brand that my hero, Lemmy Kilmister smokes. You can’t buy them in Canada. I don’t know why,” said Wally.

“I don’t believe it. Another similarity. We both like Motorhead,” said Garry. “And I suppose your favorite drink is Jack Daniels mixed with Coke?”

“What else? Except they don’t let us have any alcohol around here. Apparently it doesn’t mix too well with the medications they give us.”

“Well, I’ve got enough of your favorite cigarettes to keep you talking for an hour. So let’s hear more about Winston Standfield,” said Garry buttoning up his navy blue windbreaker.

“We’ll have to postpone story time until the afternoon,” said  Wally getting up from the bench. “Group starts in five minutes and it’s mandatory for all patients on the ward. We have it twice per day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I’ll take you up to the third floor classroom where we have group and classes.”

 

Episode 83:

“You have classes as well as group here?” asked Garry.

“Yeah, group is more along the lines of group therapy. Wally opened the wrapping on a chocolate bar that he had bought at the hospital canteen.

“I can’t go without my mid- morning snack,” said Wally. “That’s probably why I’m so fat.”

“You aren’t that fat,” said Garry trying to keep the conversation on the positive side.

Wally laughed out loud. “You are too kind my friend. I used to be in great shape when I was a teenager. At that time of my life I used to play hockey, football and baseball. I’d also go to the gym to lift weights.”

“Why did you stop?” asked Garry.

“Well, at a coffee shop near my high school I made friends with some stoners. They seemed to like me and soon I was going over to their houses and going to their parties. They were stoners to the core and smoked grass practically every day. In a short time, I picked up on their habits. The more weed I smoked, the less motivation I had for sports. My weight also started to climb because marijuana gives you the munchies. A short time after I got sick and was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having schizophrenia.”

“You said that they have classes here too. What’s the difference between group and classes?” asked Garry.

Episode 84:

“Group is more like traditional group therapy. Both Dr.Weisenthal and Shelly are there to direct traffic. It’s sort of like a free form, stream of consciousness, “How are you?” type of meeting. The point of it is to get us to work on some of our issues.” answered Wally.

“Does it work?” asked Garry.

“Who knows? It usually makes for some interesting sessions though,” Wally answered. “Occasionally someone will have a meltdown. That’s basically the reason Dr. Weisenthall and Shelly are there.”

“How about classes? How does that work?” asked Garry.

“It’s sort of like school. At times it feels like a cool alternative school and at other times like a university seminar,” said Wally.

“You’ll see what I mean the next time we have class. Group only lasts for about forty-five minutes and then we can go out for a smoke break.”

Episode 85:

After the morning group session ended Garry and Wally went out to the courtyard for a smoke. By this time the sun was breaking through and the sky was starting to clear.

“So what did you think of group?” asked Wally.

“It was a lot to process but to tell you the truth I couldn’t get my mind off your grandfather during the session,” answered Garry. “Before group you said that he didn’t really retire from the Fisheries Department.”

“That’s right. It was more like a forced retirement. Either you take a generous severance package or we’ll find a way to fire you or at the very least make you completely miserable,” said Wally.

“What did your grandpa do to piss off his employer so badly?”

“Well, there were a lot of factors most of which had to do with Gramps eccentric personality. He was almost impossible to supervise as he always had his own ideas on how a job should be done or how a project should be approached. My grandfather’s way of approaching things rarely lined up with what his supervisors had in mind,” explained Wally.

“So, in other words his bosses viewed him as a pain in the ass,” said Garry. “Exactly, but don’t get me wrong. They recognized that Winston was a brilliant scientific researcher. They just couldn’t deal with his personality,” said Wally.

Episode 86:

“My Grandpa was usually at odds with his supervisors most of the time but last year things really came to a head. Gramps told his bosses that he had seen Ogopogo over the weekend. They thought that he had really flipped out this time,” said Wally. “You mean they didn’t believe him?” asked Garry.

“That’s an understatement,” Wally laughed.

“But he worked with scientists. Aren’t scientists always on the look out for discovering new phenomena?” asked Garry.

“In theory, yes,” answered Wally. “But they protect their professional reputations very carefully. They don’t want to look like fools. Phenomena such as Ogopogo, Bigfoot and the like fall under the umbrella of cryptozoology. In layman’s terms,the discovery of unknown creatures, most of which are considered myth or legend.”

“But have they ever considered the possibility that animals like Ogopogo and Bigfoot might be real?” asked Garry.

“I am sure that a few of them have but they wouldn’t discuss this with their colleagues unless they were at a party and were very drunk. Even in that setting and in those circumstances they would probably treat the subject as a joke,” Wally explained.

Episode 87:

 

“So what about your grandpa? Do you think he really saw Ogopogo?” asked Garry.

“Do you believe in Ogopogo?” Wally said answering a question with a question.

Garry laughed. “You’re talking to a guy who sees reptilian creatures practically every day.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” said Wally.

“What about you Wally? Do you believe that your uncle actually had an encounter with Ogopogo?”

“I believe that he saw something that he couldn’t explain,” replied Wally. “On the subject of the paranormal I must admit that I’m somewhat of a skeptic.”

“Why’s that?” asked Garry. “There’s just been so much fakery over the years,” Wally responded. “Let’s take Bigfoot as an example. Have you ever seen the so called video that was supposed to be Bigfoot in the early sixties?”

“No, but I saw some still photos taken from the film. My dad showed them to me in a copy of Argosy magazine,” answered Garry.

“So what did you think?” asked Wally. “Did you think the pictures were real or not?”

“They looked pretty real to me,” Garry answered. “Especially the photo where the creature appeared to be running away after spotting the hunters.”

“Have you ever thought how easy it would be to have a big man dress up in a black bear or gorilla costume? When I study the photos closely I swear I can see a silver zipper running up the creature’s back.” “Okay, that’s just Bigfoot,” Garry said.

“All right. Lets take ufos as another example. A couple of decades ago there was all this excitement about these super clear, close up pictures of alien spacecraft. The guy who claimed to have taken these pictures was a one armed farmer from the Netherlands. I believe that his name was Billy Miere or something similar to that. Anyway, years later after he and his wife had split up she told the press that her ex- husband had faked all his pictures using models of ufos that he had made in his woodshop.”

 

Episode 88:

“Okay, but this doesn’t pertain to lake monsters,” said Garry.

“Fair enough, let’s talk about lake monsters starting with the granddaddy of them all, the Loch Ness Monster,” said Wally. “Have you ever heard of the famous Surgeon’s Photograph?” “Of course. The picture was featured on the cover of Tim Dinsdale’s books on the Loch Ness Monster,” Garry replied.

“ Very good. Did you know that it was faked?”

“No, I had no idea. It looks so real.”

“Indeed it does but it was revealed in the 1990’s that what is really pictured in the photo is a toy model submarine adapted to look like a sea monster,” said Wally.

“Then there’s Manipogo, the supposed lake monster in Lake Manitoba. Some farmer claimed that he shot Manipogo when he spotted it resting where the shore met his land. He said that he was able to drag the dead creature into his barn for safe keeping. There was a rumour that the RCMP were called in to investigate. The story went on to say that the farmer offered the RCMP officers a deal. He would allow the RCMP to take the carcass of the dead lake monster with them and he would swear never to tell anyone what happened. The farmer asked the RCMP officers for two hundred thousand

dollars to close the deal. As the rumour spread the media contacted the RCMP and the RCMP press agent told them that the story was preposterous.”

 

Episode 89:

“Okay, you said earlier that your grandfather claimed to have seen Ogopogo,” said Garry.

“That’s what he claimed,” answered Wally.

“All right. Where was your grandpa and what was he doing when he had his sighting?”

‘Man, you really are interested in this cryptozoology stuff,” Wally commented.

“I come upon it naturally.

My father is Dr. Lionel Phelge, the marine biologist. He is really into all that stuff. Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo, you name it. He downloaded the whole History Channel collection of Monster Quest videos,” answered Garry.

“Okay. That explains it. To answer your question my grandpa, Winston, was out in a boat one sunny afternoon hoping to learn something about the underwater plant life in Lake Okanogan. He brought a young diver, named Cody Hansen, along who he outfitted with an underwater camera. Gramps was hoping that his diver would find some colorful specimens of plant life near the bottom of Lake Okanogan. As the diver was shooting the video, old Winston could watch him on the laptop he had on his boat. He also had a microphone hooked up to the diver so that he could communicate with him.” Episode 90:

Winston was taking a sip of his coffee when he looked at the screen of his laptop and saw a cloud of dust surrounding the area where his diver was supposed to be. Gramps became very worried and spoke into the microphone connected to Cody’s, “What’s happening Cody? I can’t see you?”

“I can’t see anything either. One second I saw this snake like head about ten metres away from me and the next thing I knew I couldn’t see anything. The water became clouded over by sand dust. I’m on my way up,” answered the young diver.

In less than two minutes   Cody was seen surfacing. Gramps helped him onto the boat.

“How are you doing, son?” asked Gramps.

Cody stood there trembling for a few seconds and then slumped into a chair.

“It was horrible Winston. I saw a creature down there that shouldn’t be there. Judging by the size of its head it’s probably huge. I’ll tell you this. There’s no way I’m going back down there for a second look.”

“I understand son but I need to know exactly what it was you saw,” said Winston helping Cody out of his diving gear.

“I saw something that looked like the head of an anaconda. It’s eyes looked red and were bright like headlights. I only got a glimpse of it but that was enough for me. Oh, man I think I shit myself while I was down there.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, son. You just got the scare of your life,” Gramps told Cody.

“Damn rights. I’m going to have nightmares about this for months,” said Cody.

“Unfortunately, you probably will. Do you want a smoke?’’

“Yes, please. Do we have any cigarettes on board?” asked Cody.

“ I always keep a spare pack in my desk drawer on the boat. For emergency situations only,” Gramps told him.

“Well, I’d sure call this an emergency. After I have my smoke I’m going down to the lower deck to get cleaned up.”

“Sure thing. Take your time. I only want you to tell me one thing. Do you care if I tell my supervisor about your experience?”

“Go ahead. He’ll just laugh. He’ll think that we’re trying to pull his leg.”

“Most likely. But while you’re getting yourself settled I’m going to write up an incident report and I’ll need you to sign it too.”

“No problem, Chief, but I’ll say it again. Your boss, Ray Hartley, is not going to take this seriously.”

“That’s probably true but I do,” Gramps answered.

Episode 91:

Bobby O’Connor wrapped up his interview with Harvey Perkins, got into his black Toyota Camry and drove back to his office in the Kelowna Sun building. He was feeling very energized. This was a sensation that Bobby had not felt in a long time. He remembered feeling like this back in his hockey playing days. It reminded him of his prime years when he would be skating down the wing looking for an opening in his opponent’s defense. Bobby would experience a rush of adrenaline as he picked his spot and wound up for what announcer Danny

Gallivan would call a ‘cannonating’ slap shot.

In just one day, Bobby had come out from under a black cloud of depression and a nauseating hangover.

Today was going to be a different day for Bobby O’Connor. His life was about to change. For today, he could forget about those miserable bus rides with the Kelowna Katfish hockey team. He would not have to listening to some young junior hockey player bragging about his latest sexual conquest.  The sports reporter would not have to smell the sickeningly sweet aroma of testosterone and male body odour. Today was going to be different.

Episode 92 of The Lake Demon:

Bobby O’Connor entered the offices of The Kelowna Sun and started making his way towards his editor’s office. He had to suck in his gut in order to squeeze by the secretaries and other reporter’s desks. Bobby now weighed close to two hundred fifty pounds and was starting to turn grey around the temples. He could see his editor, Jack Walby sitting back in his black executive’s chair. Bobby chuckled to himself when it occurred to him how much Jack Walby looked like the actor, Ed Asner. At times Bobby had almost slipped up and called Jack, Lou, the character played by Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore show. Heck, Bobby was waiting for Mary to appear in Jack Walby’s office at any moment.

On Jack’s desk was a picture of his third wife and all his kids from his previous marriages. An opened box of pepperoni pizza was sitting on Jack’s desk. There were three slices of pizza remaining in the box.

 

Episode 93:

Booby knocked on Jack’s door and Jack waved for him to come in. Jack was talking to someone on the phone while cradling a Diet Coke in one hand. A few seconds after Bobby entered his office Jack

hung up the phone and motioned for Bobby to take a seat.

Bobby sat facing Jack’s long oak wood desk in a maroon colored leather chair with a slight tear in it.

“So, what’s up Bobby? You got the report on last night’s game?” asked Jack taking a bite from a pizza slice. “Oh, man, where’s my manners? Help yourself to a slice of pizza, Bobby.”

“Not right now, Jack but thanks for the offer. Now to answer your first question, I’ve got something much better than a report on a junior hockey game. I’ve started gathering material for a breakthrough series of articles,” answered Bobby.

“What are you talking about? I’m already feeling that I might be sorry I asked,” said the editor cleaning his hands with a white napkin.

“We’re talking about cutting edge science, Jack. I’ve recently interviewed a few people who claimed to have seen Ogopogo. I’ve even got a couple of pictures that I got verified by a photographic expert.”

“Ogopogo? What does that have to do with The Kelowna Katfish. Are they looking for a new logo?” asked Jack chuckling as he threw his crumpled up napkin into a nearby green garbage can.

Booby sat up and leaned forward towards his editor’s desk. “I’m very serious about this one. It could be a great scoop for The Kelowna Sun.”  Episode 94:

“ Come on, Bobby, you’re a sports writer. Shouldn’t you pass this material on to a reporter who covers science or the local news?”

“Absolutely not. This is my story. Anyway, aren’t you the one who told me I had to come up with more exciting stories?”

“Yeah, I am,” answered Bobby’s editor.

“Well, this is where it begins. Anyway, I’m tired of covering junior hockey. I’m a university grad and my interests and talents expand way beyond covering the sports beat.”

“So you’re telling me that you want to broaden your horizons?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, come to think of it, I was recently talking to the sheriff, George Anderson. We play on the same curling team. He was telling me that there has been a record number of Ogopogo sightings this summer.”

“That’s what I heard too.”

Have you heard about Ida Rhodes?

“Isn’t she the old lady who went missing when she took her dog for a walk along the banks of Lake Okanagon?”

“That’s the one. The sheriff told me that a lot of people in town think that Ida and her dog may have encountered Ogopogo.

George’s deputy, Bill

Rollins, also told him that his son and one of his young friends got quite a scare recently near the same area where Ida Rhodes and her dog disappeared. Why don’t you arrange an interview with the sheriff and his deputy?”

“You mean I’ve got your permission to work on my new field of interest?”

“Yeah, why not? I’ve been thinking it over. I’ve probably had you working the sports beat too long,” replied the editor.

Episode 95:

Bobby couldn’t wait another second to get to his desk and start writing his first newspaper article on Ogopogo. What foolows is Bobby O’Connor’s first draft of the article:

 

There have long been rumours of a mysterious creature that inhabits Lake Okanogan.This unknown animal is known as Ogopogo and first was mentioned in First Nations legends. They called Ogopogo, the lake demon. There have been many reported sightings of the creature since that time, often as many as ten per year.

Most people doubt the existence of a sea monster in Lake Okanogan and claim that it is a mythical creature. They state that the reported sightings are either hoaxes or are reports of people who have mistakenly seen some other object or phenomena.

Then there are the true believers who claim to have actually had a real sighting or close encounter with Ogopogo. There have also been reports of persons who have gone missing while near Lake Okanogan,

This summer has seen an unusually high number of reports of Ogopogo.This reporter has interviewed some of the people that have had close encounters with the creature.

I have talked with two very credible young people known as Ryan and Monique. They told this writer that they had recently seen Ogopogo while they were out jogging near the banks of the lake. Monique was able to take two pictures of an unusual phenomenon that she and Ryan claim is Ogopogo. I have had a photographic expert check these photos out and he told me that they have not been tampered with. Around the same time two local fishermen also sighted an unusual object approximately one hundred meters distant from their boat. I have had the opportunity to talk to one of the fishermen in person and he is firmly of the belief that  what they saw was Ogopogo.

Chapter Sixty-Two

Jack Walby, the editor of

The Kelowna Sun called Bobby O’Connor into his office.

“Have a seat Bobby. Would you like a coffee? I just made a fresh pot.”

“Yes, that would be great sir,” answered Bobby.

“Just think. Two weeks ago I was seriously thinking about letting you go. But now everything has changed. The last article you wrote about Ogopogo has gone viral. I never would have dreamed that a mythical lake monster would draw so much attention,” said Jack.

“That’s the point Mr. Walby. A lot of people don’t think that the creature is a myth. They believe it is real.”

‘Personally I don’t care if it’s real or not,” said the editor pouring out two cups of coffee. “I’m in the business of making money selling newspapers and finding and keeping an ever expanding clientele of business people that will buy our advertising space. In my experience the most effective way of meeting these goals is by maintaining a high standard of journalism. Lately my phone has been ringing off the hook with inquiries about your recent article from both readers and potential advertisers. This makes me very happy and has made your continued gainful employment much more tenable.”

“I’m glad to hear that sir. I had an uneasy feeling that my next job could be selling vacuum cleaners door to door.”

Jack laughed out loud. “Not if you keep our readers well entertained with your articles.”

“I’ve got some suggestions for you. Why don’t you interview Dr. Lionel Phelge? He’s a well respected scholar who writes a lot about unusual phenomena. He is presently a marine biology professor at The University of British Columbia. Also, see if you can find a photographic expert that can verify those two pictures that Monique took of the unusual object on the lake.

“I will certainly set up an interview with Dr. Phelge and will try to track down a credible photographic expert. This afternoon I got a lead that two bodies have been found washed ashore by the sheriff’s people on the banks of Lake Okanagan.”

“Well, I guess you have your work cut out for you Bobby,” said his editor.

 

Chapter Sixty-Three

“Wally, is there any chance that I could meet your Grandpa, Winston

Stanfield, in person?” asked Garry Phelge.

“Well, you’ve bummed me a lot of Marlboroughs. I think that I could try to set something up for you,” answered Wally who was buttoning the top button on his blue lumberjack jacket. It was a little chillier than usual out in the courtyard this morning.

“I was hoping you would say that. Here’s another Marlborough as a sign of good faith,” said Garry. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll be seeing Gramps this evening. I’ve got a weekend pass to stay with him until Sunday evening. I could give Gramps a call right after our smoke and ask if he wouldn’t mind if I brought a friend along this evening. By the way, do you like watching pro wrestling, Garry?”

“Are you kidding? I used to watch Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown all the time. Most of the time I could even get my parents to order the pay per view events for me.”

“That’s great. There’s only two kinds of people in this world as Gramps always says. Those who love wrestling and those that hate it. Why I asked is because old Winston and I have marathon sessions watching both current and classic wrestling videos from the seventies, eighties and nineties.” said Wally.

“There’s only one thing you need to do before we can make this gig happen. You need to get permission for a weekend pass from the staff,”

“Who can I ask?”

“Either Todd or Shelly,

”answered Wally. “They just need to get the okay from Dr. Weisenthal. They may tell you to give them more lead time in the future but they can probably make this happen for you.”

 

Chapter Sixty-Four

Garry Phelge was very happy to find out from Todd Finlay that he was approved for a weekend pass to accompany Wally Stanfield on his visit to his grandfather’s place.

“You’re set to go,” said

Todd as he dropped by Garry’s room while doing his rounds.”Dr. Weisenthall told me that you’re doing really well and should be ready for some approved day and weekend passes. I agree with him. I’ve seen a lot of growth in you over the

last month.”

“Thanks Todd. I really like it here especially your classes.”

Todd laughed, “I’m glad that you approve of my teaching. I wish you worked in administration. Some of the administrators find my teaching to be a little over the top. So all you need to do now is get packed for the weekend.”

“Do you like pro wrestling

Todd?” asked Garry

“I love it. I used to be on the amateur wrestling team when I was attending at university.”

“Who’s your favorite all time professional wrestler?”

“That’s easy; Mick Foley. He had three different personas and would attempt stunts that no wrestler in his right mind would dream of trying,”

“Of all Mick’s personas who was your favorite?”

“I would rank Dude Love third, Cactus Jack second and Mankind first,” answered Todd.

“Did you know that Mick Foley is now a professional writer?”

“I sure do. In fact, I own and have read all his books including his books about his wrestling career, his two novels, Scooter and Tietam Brown and his children’s books.”

That’s why I like talking to you Todd. You and I share so many of the same interests.”

 

Chapter Sixty-Five

Winston Standfield arrived at The Kelowna Mental Health Center promptly at 7:00 PM on Friday evening. Wally and Garry were waiting eagerly for him and ran out to meet Walter who was inside  his 1994 white Ford Tempo. Winston had bought the Ford Tempo at a rather shady looking used car lot two years ago. He managed to buy the car for two thousand dollars. Winston had always liked old Fords but had no idea why. It certainly wasn’t because of their reliability.

He also owned his beloved white 1997 Ford Taurus.   This car was constantly in need of repairs but Winston knew had to do most minor repairs himself. He would go to Canadian Tire and pick up the year and model for the car’s repair manual and would figure out the rest from there. Winston opened the back passenger door for the two young men.

“Hi Grandpa this is my friend, Garry Phelge.” “Pleased to meet you Garry.

Are you related to Lionel Phelge, the professor of marine biology?” asked Winston.

“Yes, he’s my father,” answered Garry.

“What a small world. Lionel and I go back a long ways. We’ve known each other since our university days. We’ve kind of lost contact the last few years, but I would certainly like to meet the old boy again. We have a lot of catching up to do.” “How’s your dad doing these days?” asked Winston.

“I really can’t say,” answered Garry. “My dad and I really haven’t been in touch for about two years now. Around this time I foolishly stopped taking my meds and caused my family a great deal of embarrassment in the neighborhood where they live. Since that time my mother has passed away and my father doesn’t want me staying with the family anymore.”

“I’m sorry to hear that son.

I also knew your mother. She was an esteemed scholar of English literature.”

“Yes, both my parents were very educated people. I, unfortunately, could not carry on the family tradition when I became ill with my first episode of psychosis.”

“I know something about that illness with Wally being my grandson.”

“Gramps also knows a lot about schizophrenia as he has researched the disease extensively,” Wally interjected.

Chapter Sixty-Six

After about a thirty minute drive Winston Stanfield pulled up his white Ford Tempo in front of his lake side cottage. “Here we are boys, I have a feeling that we’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend. I’ve got plenty of wrestling videos, video games and a great collection of dvds that aren’t about wrestling. We’ll also have some great conversations and I’ll even take you guys out for a ride on my speed boat tomorrow. Does that sound like a plan?”

“It sure does,” answered Wally.

“From what Wally’s told me about you, you sound like a pretty cool guy,” added Garry.

“That’s true I am, come to think of it,” said Winston with a chuckle. “I’m what people call, young at heart and a free spirit. The way I look at it, life should be fun, at least most of the time,” s

Winston Standfield was a tall thin man in his early sixties. His hair was snow white, long and tied back in a ponytail. Winston wore a unique pair of glasses with white/silver frames. He was wearing a gray tee shirt that appeared to have some kind of food stain on it. Winston liked to wear old, well- worn Wrangler jeans. He was fortunate to have lost all the extra weight that he carried when he had been a pro wrestler. It was also to his credit that he had stopped using anabolic steroids. By the time Winston had left professional wrestling two wrestlers he had once battled died early deaths related to their use of performing enhancing drugs.

Wally and Garry both carried in their suitcases that were packed with some clothes and toiletries for their weekend stay.  “Can I get you guys any coffee or pop?” asked Winston.

Chapter Sixty-Eight

“I’d wouldn’t mind a coffee,” said Wally. “What would you like Garry?”

“A coffee would suit me too,” answered Garry.

There wasn’t going to be too much room for the boy’s refreshments on Winston’s coffee table. The long wooden table was covered with magazines like WWE Wrestling, The Marine Biologist, National Geographic, Guitar World and Rolling Stone. There were also recent issues of Men’s Health to be found somewhere in the mix. Winston also appeared to be reading at least three novels at the same time. The sofa that they were sitting on was well worn and was usually occupied by Winston’s two dogs who were both lying on the orange carpet by the boys’ feet. They both appeared to be very friendly dogs who were busy sniffing both Wally and Garry’s runners and blue jeans.

Chapter Sixty-Nine

In a few minutes Winston Stanfield returned with the boys’ coffees.

“I hope you guys like Tim

Horton’s coffee with some International Delight creamer,” said Winston.

Garry was the first one to take a sip of his coffee. “Wow, this is delicious, sir. It’s much better than the coffee they give us at the mental health center.” “What you get there is good old stock institutional coffee. I know. I have some acquaintance with mental health facilities myself. Oh, by the way Garry. You don’t have to call me, ‘sir’. It makes me feel old and much more mature than I actually am. You can call me Winston or just, ‘man’, as far as that goes. We’re pretty informal at my place,” said Winston

“I kind of invited myself over to your house,” said Garry “When Wally told me about your encounter with Ogopogo I wanted to meet you. He also told me that you’re a very cool guy.”

“Well, I do, indeed have an Ogopogo story to tell. The actual encounter with the animal was more, Cody’s, my assistant. He was diving in the lake after I got a digital image of a large object on my radar. The young man got quite a scare down there. He told me that he got a pretty good look at Ogopogo from a distance that was a little too close for his liking.

Cody told me that he would never go diving in Lake Okanogan again.”

“Wow, Cody’s lucky. He’s probably one of the few people in the world that had a close up look at Ogopogo,” said Garry.

Winston chuckled at this. “ Oh, I don’t think Cody considered himself to be that lucky. It was more like he was scared out of his wits. There’s likely a lot more people than we can imagine that have seen the lake monster. They don’t report their sightings because they don’t want to be laughed at.”

“Like what happened to you,” said Wally. “You actually lost your job over it.”

“Oh, it wasn’t the only reason they got rid of me, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. Let’s watch some wrestling. It’s just about time for Friday Night Smackdown.” Chapter Seventy:

“I still love professional wrestling,” said Winston leaning back in his Lazy Boy and reaching for his pipe and tobacco. It’s been about twenty years since my last match but sometimes I still miss it. I mean I don’t miss waking up and feeling like I’ve been run over by a semi or all the hours spent travelling, but I do miss the pure adrenaline rush of performance art.”

“Tell me more about your career as a pro wrestler, Winston,” said Garry while petting Winston’s dogs.  “Life as a pro wrestler is certainly much different than working a nine to five job,” said Winston. “You spend a lot of time on the road. I only had a handful of matches in the WWE. For most of my wrestling career I worked the independent wrestling circuit.

“What was the biggest difference that you found between the WWE and the independent wrestling promotions?” asked Garry. “That’s easy,” answered Winston. The money. The second thing would be the lack of job security in independent wrestling organizations. And then there was the travel. Professional wrestlers spend a lot of time travelling whether they work in the WWE or for the independent promotions. The fact is you spend a lot more time travelling between wrestling gigs than you actually do wrestling,” said Winston packing some high grade pipe tobacco into his Sherlock Holmes meerschaum pipe. “

Winston owned five pipes that he kept in a wooden pipe holder that his ex-wife had given him as a present for one of his birthdays.

“We almost always car or van pooled as wrestlers. The big difference was that in the WWE the wrestlers could afford new, roomy SUVs. Some of the top talent even had Hummers. In the independent promotions the wrestlers usually travelled in an uncomfortably packed van or a rusted out car that was at least twenty years old. Vehicle breakdowns between gigs was common. It wasn’t unusual to have to leave our stalled car and thumb a ride the rest of the way to a wrestling show.” Chapter Seventy-One

“Wow, That doesn’t sound like too much fun,” said Wally.

“Actually, it was, most of the time. You see when I was a much younger man I used to work factory jobs. That kind of work is total drudgery for eight hours per day.

When I first began my wrestling career, you never had a boring day. There was no way of accurately predicting what was going to happen on any given day or night, ” said Winston.

“Plus, you gotta remember, we were young then. We could tolerate a lot more physical and mental abuse. I could go on for days telling you guys wrestling stories from my past. But let’s continue with that tomorrow. Friday Night Smack down is just starting.”

The two boys and Winston had a good time watching Friday Night Smackdown. Winston provided an entertaining and educational running commentary on the matches, and explained the differences between present day wrestling and old school wrestling.

 

Chapter Seventy-Two

After Smackdown ended Winston made some more popcorn and offered the boys some more pop and popcorn. The conversation switched to the topic of mental health and life in psychiatric treatment facilities.

“The whole mental health system in North America is a disaster. The present system simply does not work. The only people it benefits are those who have  important sounding job titles working in government bureaucracies,” Winston stated, pounding his fist on the coffee table. “From what I’ve heard, though, the Kelowna Mental Health Center is one of the better run mental health facilities in Canada.”

“That’s true,” said Wally.

“The front line rehabilitation staff is really cool and they know what they’re doing.”

“I have to agree with

Wally,” Garry added. Our rehab workers, Todd and Shelly really seem to care about us and our psychiatrist, Dr. Weisenthall is also very good.”

“Well then, you guys are in the fortunate group of mental health consumers that are getting adequate treatment for their mental health issues. Many people with mental disorders, especially those with schizophrenia, simply fall through the cracks of the mental health system. A lot of them either end up homeless or are forced into living in filthy, cockroach and rat infested hotel rooms or old broken down rooming houses.”

“Nobody cares. That’s the whole problem,” said Wally.

“You’re right, Wally, but there are a minority of people who do care, but these are usually the underpaid and underappreciated front line workers.”

“Do you think that this situation will ever change?” Garry asked Winston.

Chapter Seventy-Three

“No, there are too many institutions, corporations and individuals who are benefitting financially from the way the system operates now.”

“This conversation is getting really depressing,” said Wally. “I’m getting really tired. Why don’t we call it a night?” asked Wally yawning.

Winston said, “You’re right.

Let’s all get a little shut eye.

We’ve got lot of things to do tomorrow.”

Wally found two air mattresses and inflated them properly with a hand pump. The two young men were both very tired and fell asleep quickly.

In the morning the boys awoke to the enticing aroma of the bacon and eggs that Winston was cooking for them.

After consuming a hearty and delicious breakfast and a pot of coffee, Winston suggested that it was time to go for a boat ride.

“I was going to take you guys for a ride in my speedboat but on further consideration I decided we’d go for a ride on my big cabin cruiser. I’ve got a lot of brand new, cutting edge technology on the big boat that I’d like to show you guys.

Chapter Seventy-Four

 

Bobby O’Connor got in his car and drove out to the site on the shore of the lake where the woman and her dog’s body had washed ashore. The surrounding area had been roped off with yellow police ribbon by the Sheriff’s Office.

The two bodies were already badly decomposed and the odor emanating from them almost caused Bobby to lose his breakfast.

“You come to check this out, Bobby? See if there’s a story here?” asked Sheriff George Anderson making circles with one of his shoes in the sand.

“Well, is there? Have you been able to identify the bodies yet?” asked the reporter for The Kelowna Sun.

“Absolutely. One’s a human and the other’s an animal,” laughed the Sheriff sarcastically.

“You’re a real funny boy today, George,” was Bobby’s response.

“On this job you gotta preserve your sense of humor or you go nuts,” said George spitting out a long spittoon of Redman chewing tobacco.

“Well, if you want to get serious the medical examiner should be here in about ten minutes. Hopefully, she’ll be able to provide more specific details on the two victims.”

“Do you think that the two bodies washed ashore might have anything to do with the recent disappearance of Ida Rhodes and her dog?” asked Bobby.

“Who knows? It’s too early to tell and the details are too sketchy at this time. There’s been lots of speculation, though. The bodies washed ashore in the general vicinity in which the old lady and her dog were last seen.” The Sheriff answered. “Still, we have no way of making any positive identifications until the medical examiner does her thing.”

“The Sheriff’s right. We really won’t have anything to go on until the medical examiner completes her assessment,” added Deputy Bill Rollins.

“I heard that your boy and his friend got quite a fright about a week ago,” said Bobby O’Connor. “Did the boys see Ogopogo?”

“Well, for sure the boys saw something that scared them half to death. Neither one wants to go near the water now,” answered the Deputy looking down at the sand.

Chapter Seventy-Five

William Everett, the Head of the Province’s Fisheries Department was deeply engrossed in reading The Kelowna Sun.

With a scowl on his face William turned his chair in the direction of his assistant, Max Turner,” Has this whole town gone crazy? Have you read Bobby O’Connor’s latest article on Ogopogo?”

“I thought O’Connor was a sports writer,” said Max taking a long sip from his coffee and moving towards his boss by swivelling around his chair. “He used to cover The Kelowna Katfish’s games. I don’t know where he got his information from. Every time I’d go to a Katfish game, I’d look up to the press box and see that Bobby was half in the bag before the end of the first period.”

“I thought that he covered the sport’s beat too, but he seems to recently have changed his portfolio. He now is an expert on lake monsters, notably,

Ogopogo.”

“Well, I hope he does a better job with that than he does covering junior hockey. He spends more time writing about the fighting during the Katfish games than he does about the team’s skills and abilities,” Max responded.

“You can’t stick that one on

O’Connor. The Kelowna Katfish have neither any skills nor any playing ability. He’s got to write about something,” said The Head of the Fisheries Department.

“But I’ll tell you what O’Connor’s fault is. I can blame him for this article. He’s stirring the whole town up writing about all these alleged encounters with Ogopogo. Can you believe this? He thinks that the bodies that recently washed up on the shore of Lake Okanogan have something to do with Ogopogo. I mean, give me a break. Bodies wash up on the shore every summer. People have boating accidents and they drown. They don’t get eaten by Ogopogo.” said Everett as his face started to redden.

“You’ve got to calm down William. You know what your doctor said about your blood pressure,” said Max with a look of concern on his face.

Chapter Seventy-Six

“I thought you said that Ogopogo was a mythological legend,” said Max.

“Of course the creature is imaginary, but people insist on preserving their myths. It provides a little magic to their otherwise boring, ordinary lives,” asserted William Everett.

“Now listen to this.

O’Connor states that the

University of British

Columbia’s marine biology department is rumoured to be planning an expedition to search for Ogopogo. This kind of publicity can easily ‘go viral’ in this age of social media. Kelowna, if not all of British Columbia, will become a laughing stock in Canada and potentially around the world,” added Everett emphatically.

Max got out of his chair to refresh his coffee. “Look on the bright side William. Can you imagine the economic boost this is going to give the tourism industry in Kelowna, and for that matter all of British Columbia?”

“I know this circus is going to bring in a lot of revenue, but because of that my superiors are going to ask me to give this nonsense my full support,”, said Max tossing his copy of the Kelowna Sun to the far right hand corner of his oversize desk.”

“You can bet your retirement savings on that,” agreed Max making his way back to his desk.

“Well, I’ll tell you what. They’re not going to get an ounce of my support or approval. Within weeks we’ll have every crackpot and lunatic with a boat hunting for Ogopogo,” said pounding his fist on his desk for emphasis.

“They could injure or even kill the creature and cause a lot of boating accidents and drownings,” said William Everett continuing with his rant.

“Now that’s the second time that you’ve referred to Ogopogo as a real living animal,” laughed Max.

“I don’t believe that Ogopogo’s an actual prehistoric lake monster, like some long extinct species of marine dinosaur, but it could be something living, like a giant eel for instance,” said the Head of Fisheries.

 

Chapter Seventy-Seven

The medical examiner, Dr. Marsha Mitchell, arrived on the scene where the two bodies had drifted ashore. She was an attractive tall brunette woman twenty-eight years of age. Marsha had only been the local medical examiner for two years but she was already very professional in her approach to her job and was not easily distracted by unpleasant sights or odors, She took a very clinical approach as she started to assess the situation in front of her. Dr.  Mitchell approached the two fragmented bodies in front of her and began her examination. There was

very little flesh left on both the human and the animal carcasses before her. She had her two assistants take photos of the bodies at the spot where they had washed ashore. She then directed them to get the bodies ready for transport to her laboratory.

After about a ten minute ride to her office Marsha first contacted the dental specialist, Dr. Robert

Raines who would attempt to locate matching dental records for the human victim. He started by contacting Ida Rhodes’ dentist for his records for his patient. Ida’s dental records were quickly couriered over to Dr. Mitchell’s office. After a thorough comparison of the dental records with the teeth on the decomposing body of Ida Rhodes, Dr. Raines concluded that there was a positive match. Dr. Mitchell was now free to start her autopsy with the knowledge that her deceased patient was indeed, Ida Rhodes.

A veterinary expert was able to determine from his examination of the dog’s skeletal remains that the breed’s identifying characteristics were consistent with the dog that the old lady had owned.

After about an hour and a half’s time had elapsed, Sheriff George Anderson and Deputy Bill Rollins arrived at Dr. Mitchell’s medical laboratory.

As the Sheriff approached Marsha Mitchell he found it necessary to cover his nose with a handkerchief in order to make the decomposition of Ida Rhode’s body less offensive to him.

“Hello, Dr. Mitchell. What have you determined so far?” George asked.

Chapter Seventy-Eight

“Well, the human carcass is definitely that of the old woman, Ida Rhodes. According to the veterinarian’s report the decomposing body of the dog that washed ashore was most likely the pet that belonged to the deceased woman,” answered Dr. Marsha Mitchell.

“What will you officially declare as the cause of death?” asked Sheriff George Anderson.

“In my professional opinion, my most likely conclusion is that the elderly woman and her dog were the victims of a fatal attack by a very large marine predator. My assessment is based on the bite marks on the remaining flesh of the two victims. I have measured the length of the bite marks and they appear to indicate a very large mouth with sharp jagged teeth. They most closely resemble the type of distinct markings that would be left on a piece of fabric cut with sewing shears. They suggest that the attacking animal had at least two rows of very sharp jagged teeth,” answered the medical examiner.

“What species of large marine predator are we talking about?” asked Deputy Bill Rollins wanting a more definitive answer from the doctor.

“At this time I cannot hazard a guess as to what kind of marine animal that the predator might be. An expert in marine biology might be of more help in making a more precise determination,” answered Marsha. “My personal recommendation would be that you consult Dr. Lionel Phelge, the marine biology professor at The University of British Columbia.”

“Isn’t that the professor who believes in the possible existence of ufos, aliens, Bigfoot and the like?” asked Bill Rollins

“Dr. Lionel Phelge does have a well-known interest in cryptozoology? Answered Dr. Mitchell.

“What kind of zoology?” asked the Sheriff.

“Cryptozoology, the study of unknown and undiscovered species,” was Dr. Mitchell’s answer.

 

Chapter Seventy-Nine

“Well, at least you’re not telling us that the large marine predator is Ogopogo as I’m sure

Kelowna Sun reporter, Bobby O’Connor is going to insinuate to his readers,” said Sheriff George Anderson with a sigh of relief.

“I’m sure that Dr.Phelge could provide a more educated opinion on whether or not the predator was Ogopogo,” said Dr. Mitchell.

“What? Are you saying that you believe in Ogopogo?” asked the Sheriff with a look of astonishment. “You’re pulling my leg now, aren’t you doc?”

“No, I’m a medical professional and a trained scientist. I’ve learned not to discount any possibility until it has been conclusively ruled out. My father used to spend a lot of time on Lake Okanogan and he claims to have seen Ogopogo upon two occasions,” answered Marsha in an undoubtedly serious tone of voice.

“Oh great. Just wait until Bobby O’Connor asks you for an interview and you tell him that,” said George shaking his head and looking down at the floor. “I would simply tell Mr. O’Connor what I have told you. If he asks if Ogopogo could be the unknown predator in this case, I would tell the reporter that anything is possible, but that it would be unlikely in this case. We, presently, don’t have enough evidence to go on,” Marsha clarified.

“I can guarantee that O’Connor will ask you if you believe in Ogopogo,” said the sheriff.

“Once again, I would be very professional and careful in what I would say to him. I wouldn’t want to help him sensationalize his newspaper reporting. On the other hand, I don’t have any idea what Dr. Phelge is going to say to him. It  is very likely that Mr. O’Connor will want to interview the professor,” answered Marsha.

“Oh, I think that ‘s a given,” interjected Deputy Bill Rollins. “The media’s first stop is usually Dr. Phelge’s office when something controversial happens.”

“And I’m sure that Phelge will tell O’Connor that an Ogopogo encounter is a distinct possibility. The professor is quite biased in his interpretations of paranormal phenomena. The only thing that we can be happy about is that he is considered to be a weird bird by his colleagues,” said George.

“A bit eccentric for sure, but he is still a darling of the media and the public in general,” said Bill.

“Let’s face it,” said the Sheriff. “There is something within human beings that is attracted by magic, the mysterious and the extra ordinary. They want to believe that there is something out there in the world that has not yet been discovered,”

“I didn’t know that you were so philosophical, Boss. Oh, there are so many things that you still don’t know about me Bill,” replied George Anderson with a chuckle.  Chapter Eighty

“I think it’s a fair conclusion to draw that Ryan and Monique will be going on that crazy Ogopogo expedition along with the University of British Columbia students,” said Meg Richards while preparing coffee for her brother John.

“Yes, I would think that would be a fairly safe guess,” answered John. Who knows they both may end up attending The University of British Columbia during the fall semester.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Meg.

“Well, it’s fairly obvious to me that they’re both in love with each other.”

“If you’re right this could lead to quite a complicated situation when September arrives.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to think about it. If they both do decide to stay here past the summer I’ll have to talk to Susan and see what kind of arrangements we’ll need to make,” said John.

“I could see that getting a little dicey,” Meg pointed out.

“Yeah, tell me about it,” said John with a sigh. I certainly wasn’t expecting this when my kids came over for the summer, or more correctly, what I assumed was only going to be for the summer.”

“Well, life is full of little surprises isn’t it, John?” said Meg.

“Speaking of little surprises I phoned Dean Sanderson at UBC the other day. We got talking about Ryan and Monique going on the expedition and I told him that I had more than a little interest in searching for Ogopogo myself. I told him that I was a writer and was looking for an idea for a new novel. I asked him if I could join their group and help out wherever I was needed on the project,” said John.

“Somehow, I’m not as surprised as you may think, John Richards,” replied Meg.

 

Chapter Eighty-One

 

Dean Sanderson had set up a general meeting for all participants in the

Ogopogo Research Project. He had reserved Theatre B of The University of British Columbia so to accommodate what could potentially be a large turnout.

The dean stood at the podium of the large lecture facility and proceeded to bring the meeting to order. A significant number of people had indeed shown up for this meeting.

“I’d like to welcome all of you and thank all of you for attending our first formal organizational meeting. We have a daunting task ahead of us in organizing and planning for the implementation of an expedition to search for Ogopogo, our province’s legendary lake monster. As most of you are very likely aware the existence of Ogopogo has not been scientifically established either positively or negatively.

Supporting the argument for the reality of The Lake Demon, a name that was first given to the creature by our First Nations peoples, are an impressive number of reported and documented sightings of the marine animal. Most of these reported sightings have been by people of impeccable integrity.Yes, there have, unfortunately, been some hoaxes by disreputable persons over the years, but human nature being such as it is, these occurrences are to be expected. Still, we must not allow the tomfoolery of a few misguided individuals stand in the way of the gathering of relevant data by reputable and rigorous scientific investigation.

As he is much better versed in the nature of our subject than I am, I would like to call upon and introduce our renowned professor of marine biology, a respected member of the faculty of The University of British Columbia, Dr. Lionel Phelge.

A generous outpouring of applause greeted Dr. Phelge as he took his position at the podium. He opened his black briefcase and took out a thick folder which he proceeded to place upon the lectern. He next proceeded to turn on the lamp that was attached to the podium.

Chapter Eighty-Two

First of all, I would like to relieve you all by telling you that I am not going to give you a long, scientific lecture on Ogopogo. For those who are interested there are a few authors who have written about Ogopogo in their books and have proposed their theories on the existence or non -existence of this phenomena. These books

are very likely available in your public library or, alternatively, may be ordered through Amazon.ca. There are also numerous blogs on the internet that debate this topic.

Furthermore, there is much debate upon what kind of species this animal might be. Presently, some of my students are working on intensive research upon both primary and secondary sources on the subject of Ogopogo.

There is some scientific speculation that Ogopogo may be a surviving member of a species of primitive whale that was thought to move in a serpentine manner. Many of our modern day sightings have indeed reported that what these individuals saw was a very large serpent like creature that moves along the water in an undulating manner often exhibiting hump like shapes.

Unfortunately, the few purported pictures of Ogopogo that have been professionally analyzed are very inconclusive. The photos are usually taken from quite a distance and have a grainy appearance making any kind of conclusive identification of the object in the water to be impossible. And as Dean Sanderson has already noted there are always those individuals who try to perpetuate hoaxes. Also, as the dean has pointed out the Ogopogo is also a historical phenomenon that was first reported in the legends and stories of what our First Nations peoples called the Lake Demon.

“I must apologize for my somewhat impaired vision. Last year I, unfortunately, required emergency surgery on my left eye as a result of a detached retina. As I did not get to the surgeon’s within the recommended window of time, he was unable to save much of the vision in my left eye, This being the case, I now require enhanced lighting and increased magnification when I am required to read or to refer to my notes. This is why I have the large round magnification device around my neck. I will be using it whenever I have difficulty reading my own notes,” explained the professor.

As many of you know I have had a particular interest in what is known as crypytozoology for a long time. I like to think of myself as a scientist who keeps an open mind about things we don’t yet fully understand. Simply put, cryptozoology is a science that studies the possibility of undiscovered, unknown species whose existence has not as yet been scientifically proven. To provide undisputed evidence of the existence of even one of these phenomenon would vastly increase the respectability of any scientist.

I will be very honest with you and will state upfront that this is one of my major goals in taking on this project. As many of you know the last couple of years have not been among my best. I have been bombarded with various attempts that seriously question my competence and reputation as a respected man of science. I suppose that making myself so available to the media has not helped my cause. However, I have made full use of the media as it is my belief that the public has the right to be made aware that there are still many things in the world that are still a mystery to science. I am hoping that the outcomes of our expedition will help to bolster my sagging professional reputation among my critics. With that being said, I will ask Dean Sanderson to come up to the podium and address you once again.

 

Chapter Eighty-Three

Dean Sanderson stepped up to the podium for the second time this morning.

“Thank you, Dr. Phelge. I appreciate your openness and honesty. I believe that you have set the tone for this meeting. I, too, have other reasons besides pure scientific research in backing this project. As some of you may have guessed our projected enrollments at UBC have had to be adjusted due to a steady decline in the number of students enrolled during the last five years.

I can’t say precisely why this is, but it is the reality that our university’s administrative team is now facing. Perhaps it has something to do with the declining economy of our province over the past few years. My conjecture is that many of our prospective students are now looking at other avenues to explore for their post- secondary education. Many are opting for community colleges and trade schools as a more practical solution. The boom in technology over the last decade has also had a significant impact upon our enrollment. Many young people are looking at courses in computer programming and computer technology. They foresee taking this route to be more feasible for their future employment prospects.

 

But, I am hoping that our enrolment will increase dramatically by the fall semester and it won’t be through luck or accident. I am actually grateful to the Kelowna Sun’s reporter, Bobby O’Connor for the recent publicity that he has given our university. As most of you are aware Mr. O’Connor has recently stopped reporting on The Kelowna Katfish hockey team and is presently working on articles related to Ogopogo.

This is good news for our university. Now I’m fully aware that Bobby O’Connor is not everyone’s favorite reporter and some may say, with some justification, that his recent articles on Ogopogo are sensationalistic and rivals the quality of some of the writing in publications such as The National Enquirer and The News of the World.” This resulted in much laughter from the audience.

“ My answer is fair enough. I, too, have some concerns about Mr. O’Connor’s motives. Nonetheless, the Ogopogo is now front page news and our university has been praised for taking a leadership role in the quest to solve the mystery of our province’s beloved lake monster. I firmly believe that this publicity will inspire a great number of high school students and those presently attending other universities to apply for admission to UBC in the fall.”

Chapter Eighty-Five

“Some of you have expressed concerns about how we are going to finance this research project. I would like to address this issue by asking our special guest, Mr. Blake Riley to come up next. Mr. Riley is a very successful entrepreneur and has a strong interest in helping fund an expedition to look for Ogopogo. Please come up to the podium now, Mr, Riley,” said Dean Sanderson.

There was a slight smatter of applause after Blake Riley’s introduction. Some in the audience had heard about Blake Riley, but they didn’t quite know what to make of him. There had been rumours going around that Blake was a rather sleazy character. Although these were only rumors, people tend to believe that where there’s smoke, there is fire. Many of the students were surprised that their dean had not done his due diligence of Blake Riley’s past history. They feared that Dean Sanderson was so worried about coming up with the funding that he wasn’t too concerned where that money came from or what kind of a funder he would have as a business associate.

 

Chapter Eighty-Six

After a hearty breakfast, Winston and his two young charges boarded Winston’s large, white cabin cruiser. “Wow, this boat is huge. You weren’t kidding Mr. Stanfield when you told us you had a big boat. It’s beautiful,” said Garry.

“Not Mr. Stanfield, Garry. Just call me Winston, please. Yes, it is an extremely large vessel but we’re searching for a very large creature, possibly fifty to sixty feet long,” said Winston.

“Do you really think we’ll see Ogopogo today,

Gramps?” asked Wally. “It’s not likely, but who knows? At the very least we’ll have a very enjoyable boat ride. It’s such perfect weather to be out on the lake. These creatures don’t come up to the surface too often unless they spot some birds near the surface of the lake. Then it’s feeding time for these animals,” answered Winston.

“So the birds are prey for Ogopogo?” Wally inquired.

“Yes, Ogopogo feeds on birds and any fish that appeal to his taste buds,” answered Winston.

The boat was now moving at a slow, calm pace. Garry couldn’t help taking in the beautiful scenery. They were presently passing through a part of Lake Okanagan that was populated with many cottages on the shore. Many tourists visited the lake on their holidays,

“Could we be prey for Ogopogo?” asked Garry when he had broken out of his reverie.

“It’s possible,” said Winston, “But only if the creature thinks we’re hunting him. “Fortunately, there aren’t any reports of Ogopogo eating anyone, but some people have claimed that they have been chased by the creature. There was a swimmer who was training for a marathon not too long ago. He told that media that he was certain that he was being closely followed by two animals that fit the description of Ogopogo. He said that he jumped in his rescue boat as soon as it passed by him. He told the press that he had never been more afraid in his life.”

 

Chapter Eighty-Seven

 

“Gramps, did you read in the paper about the old woman and her dog who disappeared recently?” The article said that they were last seen close to the lake,” said Wally.

“Yeah, I remember reading about that. I doubt that she and her dog were eaten by Ogopogo, Maybe the poor lady has Alzheimer’s and simply got lost,” said Winston.

“But her dog would have been able to lead her home,” asserted Wally.

“That’s a good point but the old lady may have waded in the water until the water covered her head. She could have drowned,” said Winston.

“But her dog can swim. He could have saved her,” said Wally.

“You won’t give up. Will you Wally? Okay, it is possible that the old woman and her dog were eaten by Ogopogo,” chuckled his grandfather.

“I just heard on the radio that two bodies washed ashore. They could be the bodies of the old lady and her dog,” said Garry. “The Sheriff and the Deputy are at the scene now, conducting an official investigation.”

“Oh, man. You two guys sure stick together, don’t you?,” Winston responded. “The Sheriff’s office is required to do an investigation any time there are fatalities in their jurisdiction.”

“This discussion is starting to freak me out,” said Wally. “Can we change the topic of this conversation?” asked Wally with a pale look on his face.

“Don’t worry, Wally. I was just about to change the topic, anyway,” reassured Winston putting his hand on Wally’s shoulder.

 

Chapter Eighty-Eight

“From what I’ve heard, Winston, you are a renowned and respected scientist. Why would the Department of Fisheries want to lose you?” asked Garry.

“That’s a very good question. You have to know how a large bureaucracy works, Garry, “said Winston taking a quick glance at the lake.

“When large government departments are involved, the top administrators never want to be challenged by their subordinates. They have big, but fragile egos that are easily bruised by anyone who thinks outside the box.”

“Like you,” said Garry.

“Like me,” said Winston. “I’ve always been one to speak my own mind, Come

to think of it, I first got in trouble for that in kindergarten. I asked the teacher why we couldn’t have chocolate milk instead of white milk. If my memory serves me well, she sent me to the principal’s office to discuss the matter.”

“That is certainly starting young,” said Garry.

“Yes, it is, but I guess I haven’t learned my lesson yet,” said Winston. “Now instead of challenging my teachers, I give my supervisors headaches.

“Do you regret challenging authority?” asked Garry.

“No, only ordinary people don’t question authority.

They live their lives in fear, frustration and desperation. They probably wish that they had the capacity to ask the hard questions in life,” Winston responded.

 

“Your supervisors didn’t believe your story about your diver’s encounter with Ogopogo, did they Gramps?” asked Wally already knowing the answer.

“Of course not. At least they would never say publicly that they believed me. They feared that if they sided with me they would be laughed at and possibly disciplined by their bosses. On second thought it’s highly unlikely they believed my story at all. They probably have me labelled as some eccentric old fool. We only have free speech in this country if we’re willing to suffer the consequences,” answered Winston as the breeze blew through his hair,

“Some people might say you’re not a good role for us,” joked Wally as he buttoned up his windbreaker,

“And they’d probably be right,” said Winston with a twinkle in his eye.

“It’s getting a little chilly on deck. I think I’ll put on a windbreaker,” said Wally.

 

Chapter Eighty-Nine

 

During his entrepreneurial career Blake Riley had made more than a few enemies. He had not always been the most honest or loyal business partner.

There was one particular business partner that held a very strong grudge against Blake Riley This fellow has seriously considered putting a hit on Blake.

The man’s name is Jake Kimberly. He and Blake were once the top distributors in a new startup network marketing company, Blake had sponsored Jake into the business. This meant that Jake and everyone he personally sponsored would become part of Blake’s down line or personal organization. After about a year the two entrepreneurs had both built their businesses to the point that they were both making seven figures annually.

During their second year in business Blake met up with a young attractive woman named Debra Lane who was starting up her own multi-level marketing business. Blake was immediately taken with her. It didn’t seem to bother him that she was married. When they started their affair the woman’s attraction to Blake went well beyond the romantic. She had been looking for an experienced, already successful network marketer who would be able to help get her business off the ground. The woman was also hoping to find somebody who would both invest his own money in her business venture and would be willing to convince a significant number of his down line to jump ship and follow him along to join the new start-up. Blake definitely appeared to fit the bill. Debra was also hoping to make Blake the vice president of her company

Chapter Ninety

Blake and Jack Kimberly had been at odds lately. Their business ideas were starting to diverge. Blake had been pondering on how he could legally get away from Jack and now he saw a way out. It would be through his new girlfriend, Debra Lane.

One evening Debra Lane offered to treat Blake to dinner at a high class hotel dining room. He eagerly accepted her offer and they met in the luxurious dining room of an upscale exclusive hotel. When the waiter arrived at their table to give them both menus and to take their orders, both Blake and Debra ordered drinks while they decided on what they would like to have as their main meals.

“Blake, I’ll get right to the point. You know that you are a very handsome man and that I am physically attracted to you. However, I believe that we have a great deal more than that going for us,” said Debra taking a sip from her glass of water.

Blake found Debra to be just as attractive. Debra had long straight blonde hair, a trim, fit figure and gorgeous long legs, She had already told him that she was twenty-four years old and was very dissatisfied with her present marriage. She came from a wealthy family and was now missing many of the luxuries that she had enjoyed while living with her parents.

When Debra first met her husband Roman, he had been an up and coming star in a major life insurance company. He was so charismatic that he had little difficulty selling both life insurance and investment products. It appeared that Roman would soon be a member of the exclusive Million Dollar Round Table group of insurance salesman and would be making an impressive income that was bound to keep increasing with each passing year.

The problem was that although Roman enjoyed money and the things that he could buy with it, he was, at heart, an artist. He loved to create things such as fascinating novels and this led to much conflict between himself and his wife. Debra was not at all supportive of her husband’s artistic endeavors. She wanted him out of the house making large sums of money not creating abstract oil paintings. This last year his insurance and investment policies sales had actually decreased from the previous year. Instead of lining up meetings with prospective clients, Roland was now spending more time at home working on his writing and painting.

Chapter Ninety-One

For a little while, Jack

Kimberly was unaware of what Blake was doing behind his back. This ended when Jack received a phone call from one of his down-line informing him of Blake’s treachery. Blake hadn’t even offered Jack an opportunity or a position in the new company. This caused Jack to seethe with anger.

Jack stayed awake for many nights trying to come up with a plan to get revenge on Blake. He preferred to have an action plan that was legal. He did not want to go to jail in the process of getting revenge.

After another of his sleepless nights, Jack sluggishly got himself out of bed. He opened his front door and retrieved the morning edition of The Kelowna Sun.

As Jack skimmed through the newspaper the first thing that captured his attention was an article by reporter, Bobby O’Connor.

The article was about

Ogopogo and mentioned

Blake Riley’s plans to finance an expedition to search for the legendary lake monster.

Jack Kimberley now knew what his plan to get revenge on Blake would be. He needed to find a way to derail Blake’s expedition.

 

Chapter Ninety-Two

 

Garry and Wally were all set to board Winston Stanfield’s enormous state of the art cabin cruiser. Winston and an engineer friend of his had designed the boat together. It was painted white with red trim. The boys noticed that the main deck of the ship had three powerful telescopes mounted on both the left and right hand sides.

“With six telescopes we won’t miss sighting Ogopogo if he decides to surface today,” said Garry.

“That’s definitely possible,” added Wally. “The creature has to get hungry sometime and I can see a ton of birds flying close to the surface.”

“It’s a perfect day for a boat ride today. The water looks calm, the sun is shining brightly and I don’t see a dark cloud in sight. It’s what as known as ‘Ogopogo weather’. Yes, indeed, we might get lucky today and see Ogopogo,” said Winston.

“What part of the lake are we headed for, Winston?” asked Garry.

“We’re going to use some strategy today, boys. The majority of good sightings have been in the general vicinity of Squally Point and Rattlesnake Island. So that’s where we’re headed,” answered Winston.

 

“It appears that all the famous lake monsters have a favorite location. For example, Nessie’s favorite spot is near Urquhart

Castle,” noted Wally. “That’s because Loch Ness reaches its greatest depths in that area. The beast very likely has her lair deep in the depths around Urquhart Castle,” said Winston.

“What about Ogopogo?

Where do you think its lair is situated?” asked Garry.

“Right where we’re headed now. The area surrounding Squally Point and Rattlesnake Lake is a very logical place for Ogopogo to have his home base. There are plenty of fish such as trout and salmon in that vicinity and the lake also reaches its greatest depths around there,” answered Winston. “This is where my diver friend was when he had a rather frightening encounter with the lake monster. He had discovered several deep ridges and caverns around Rattlesnake Island. He told me that a very large animal could easily hide in some of these deep caverns.”

“How’s your diver buddy doing now?” asked Wally. “Not that great,” answered Winston. “I spoke to him about a week ago and he told me that he was still getting nightmares about the incident. He also said that he’s never going diving in that area of the lake again.”

Chapter Ninety-Three

“How will we know if Ogopogo is close to us when it’s under the water?” asked Garry.

“I’m glad you asked,” said Winston with a twinkle in his eye. “I’m going to take you guys down to the lower deck so that I can show you guys something very interesting.

As soon as the boys were down the steps, they were dazzled by flashing, colorful lights and wall to wall technological instruments.

“Wow!” was all the boys could say.

“This is awesome, Winston. You’ve got electronic devices and computer monitors everywhere,” said Garry.

“Your next job, Gramps, will be to tell us what all this stuff does,” said Wally.

“That’s exactly what I was going to do next,” said Winston seating himself in a chair beside the closest computer monitor on the left.

“Now, let’s start right where I’m sitting. As you can see this computer monitor is divided into four screen sections. It gives us four different views of the lake. We’ll eventually take turns monitoring this device just in case one of our cameras picks up on any unusual activity near the surface of the lake.

But as Garry asked, “What if the creature is near our ship but is below the water?” said Winston. When we’re back on the main deck I’m going to lower a sensor deep into the lake. The sensor has microphones that will pick up on any sounds emanating from under the surface. The closer an object gets to the sensor the louder it’s going to beep. The sensor also has the capacity of detecting large objects coming near it and giving off an even louder signal.”

“Wow, you seem to have thought of everything,” said Wally.

“Who designed all this stuff anyway?” asked Garry.

“This boat certainly has it all, doesn’t it?” asked Winston grinning from ear to ear. If I don’t have a piece of technology on this boat, it hasn’t been invented yet,” he laughed. “Actually, I helped design most of this equipment myself with the help of an IT expert I know.”

 

Chapter Ninety-Four

 

 

John Richards woke up with a start. He had been having a nightmare about Ogopogo attacking Ryan and Stephanie. He could feel that the tee shirt that he wore to bed was damp with perspiration. John let out a deep sigh of relief when he realized that it had only been a dream. He turned his head to look at his digital alarm clock. The clock displayed 3:33 AM. As John fell asleep shortly after midnight he realized that he only had about three and a half hours sleep. John reached for his pack of Cameo cigarettes on the night table. He decided that he would have a smoke to calm himself. After he finished his cigarette he would decide whether or not he should get up for the day or try to fall back asleep for a few more hours.

John thought of another reason why he had trouble sleeping. He had been dreading today’s visit at the hospital with his father. It had been several months since he had last had a phone conversation with his dad.

 

This last talk with Robert Richards had been a tense one for both father and son.

John had been reticent to discuss his father’s cancer and the strong possibility that Robert could die within a few months. John and his father had usually had a hard time talking about deep, heart felt personal issues.

Like most sons John had wanted to make his father proud of him. John remembered a time when he was a teenager and he knew that his dad had been proud of him. For three years John had been a star athlete at his local high school. He had been an outstanding linebacker on the football team and was the star goalie of his hockey team.

Robert made a priority of attending as many of his son’s games as possible. His face beamed with pride every time the crowd would cheer his son’s athletic performances. John had the knack for making a crucial tackle during a football game or making a near impossible save during a hockey game. John had twice received a standing ovation from the fans when he stopped penalty shots during hockey games. Robert Richards would always remember how proud he had felt when a scout for The Kelowna Katfish had approached him and asked him if his son would like to play goal for the Katfish in the near future.

 

Chapter Ninety-Five

Unfortunately, John Richards was no longer a teenager or a star athlete. He still kept himself in good condition by riding his prized black Giant mountain bike and he still had at least three workouts per week at the gym, but these were solitary recreational activities without adoring fans to cheer him on.

During his adult years John felt like he had let his father down. He attended university after he graduated from high school. John quit his team athletic endeavours altogether when he started university. For some reason his heart was no longer in it. He very much enjoyed the freedom that comes with being a university student.

John quickly became popular with both his fellow students and his professors. He was always ready to start up or join in a class discussion and his professors loved him for it. Most of his peers also were happy to have John liven up a potentially, long boring lecture.

John liked everything about

the university

environment. He especially enjoyed the social life that the university setting provided him. In high school John had to spend the great majority of his time studying in order to make decent grades. The rest of his time was devoted to playing high school team sports. All through high school he didn’t have a girlfriend. In fact, he couldn’t remember ever having been on a date.

While in high school, because of his diligent study habits John was able to maintain a B average. Since that time John realized that he wasn’t academically gifted and that he would need to be a plodder if he were to survive academically with his university courses. John had assessed his abilities very accurately. He had to keep his nose to the grindstone in university as much as he had to in high school. In university John had to work hard to maintain a C+ grade point average.

 

 

Chapter Ninety-Six

Robert Richard’s was proud of his son for earning a university degree and becoming a certified teacher. John was hired by a school district and taught at both the elementary and junior high levels for several years. John started to dislike his job more with each passing year. He finally became so stressed that he had to take a year’s leave of absence and go on long term disability. After his leave was over John made a decision not to return to full time teaching.

Over the next few years John tried out a series of new jobs attempting to make a career change. He had a succession of jobs including stints as a car salesman and various positions that primarily involved physical labor.

On an occupational level none of these jobs really worked out for John. Realizing that he was still two decades shy of retirement age John signed on with a school division as a substitute teacher. To supplement his meagre income John also worked part time at a group home. Although he didn’t consider this to be an ideal situation, he could live with it as he had found an avocation that he really enjoyed, that being writing fiction novels. John dreamed of one day having a successful self- supporting career as a professional writer.

John knew that his father was very disappointed that his son had for the most part left a respectable career as a teacher. He could not understand his son’s desire for a career as a writer. Robert knew that this was causing problems in John’s marriage and he wished that his son would give it up for the sake of his family if for no other reason. Robert thought that it was highly unlikely that John could ever make a decent living as a writer.

 

Chapter Ninety-Seven

 

John Richards was just getting up from an afternoon nap when Aunt Meg’s telephone rang. As he was the closest person to the phone he picked up the receiver.

“Hi, John. It’s Sue.”

“Oh, hi, Sue. How are you?”

“I’m a little worried about you guys.”

“What are you worried about?” asked John. “Well, I’ve been reading the papers and watching the news on t.v. Apparently, there’s all this excitement about Ogopogo and I know that you’ve always been interested in this type of thing,” said Susan.

“Yes, you’re right about that. It is very exciting isn’t it?” asked John with a nervous sound in his voice. Since they had been separated he had not enjoyed his telephone conversations with Susan. It seemed that she always put him on the defensive and they would end up arguing. He had long felt that his wife did not have a lot of respect or confidence in him.

“ I’ll get right to the point John. I’ve been reading about two separate expeditions that are going to search for Ogopogo. Are you and the kids involved in these in any way?”

“Yes, we are. Ryan and his girlfriend have joined the university’s research team,” answered John getting up to make himself a pot of coffee.

“Girlfriend? Did Ryan meet somebody out there?”

“Yes, He met a very nice girl named Monique. She’s from Montreal and is staying with her mother for the summer.”

“Does it look as if it’s going to be a serious relationship?” asked Susan.

“Very much so. Meg and I were talking about this yesterday. It looks like Ryan and his girlfriend are in love,” answered John.

“Oh great,” said Susan. “Now I’ve got two problems to worry about. Ryan’s new love interest and the two of them going on that expedition.”

“There’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure that it will be a short expedition and I’’ll be right with them on the boat anyway,” said John.

“Now that really puts my mind at ease,” said Susan sarcastically.

John sighed and was hoping this conversation would soon end. He noticed that he was starting to perspire. John was also getting angry.

“Look Sue. I know you don’t have a very high opinion of me but I love my kids and would never do anything to hurt them.”

“But you don’t have any problem putting their lives in danger,” snapped Susan.

 

Chapter Ninety-Eight Winston Standfield was down in the boat’s lower deck thinking about what he should make for lunch. A few summers before he had taught Wally how to operate his boat.

Wally, with the wind almost blowing off his battered, old baseball cap, was enjoying navigating his Grandpa’s cabin cruiser. While guiding the vessel towards Squally Point he heard Garry calling out to him.

Garry had been looking out one of the telescopes situated on the left hand side of the ship.

“Wally, come quick! I see something. Come have a look.”

“Wally ran to the telescope nearest to Garry. As soon as he looked into the telescope he could see what his friend was talking about.

“Do you see it?” said Garry with an excited high pitched voice.

Wally could see some activity about one hundred metres from the boat. There were a flock of birds making a fast retreat from the surface of the lake. Wally could also see a large grey hump in the same area from which the birds had just made their escape.

Garry cried out, “We’ve got to tell Winston!”

“No, hold up,” said Wally.

“I’ve lost sight of the hump. It appears to have submerged.”

 

Chapter Ninety-Eight

 

 

Jack Kimberley walked over to his kitchen to make himself some coffee. He was still trying to think of a way to get back at Blake Riley. If only he could make a fool out of his former business partner. An idea occurred to Jack.

 

What if he could prove that Ogopogo did not exist or make it appear that Blake had really had the wool pulled over his eyes.

Then an ingenious thought crossed Jack’s mind. What if he could find a fake

Ogopogo? Who did he know who could build one?

 

Jack realized that he and newspaper reporter, Bobby O’Connor had a mutual friend. Someone that they both knew from their high school days. His name was Mike O’Grady, the same man who had analyzed Monique Painchaud’s pictures for Bobby.

 

Jack remembered how

Mike always liked to tinker with things when they were in school. He remembered the time that Mike had made a small scale model of Ogopogo for a science project in grade eleven. Jack wondered if Mike still had kept the model after all these years. He knew how he might find out. Jack would phone Bobby

O’Connor to ask if he had kept in touch with Mike O’Grady.

Jack immediately got the phone number of The Kelowna Sun that was printed near the bottom of the front page. He dialed the number and a receptionist put him through to Bobby O’Connor.

 

Chapter Ninety-Nine

 

“Hey, Bobby. It’s Jack

Kimberly, man.”

“Jack Kimberly? I haven’t heard from you since high school,” said Bobby trying to finish chewing a piece of his lemon Danish.

 

Jack reached for his coffee while he sank back into his favorite black Lazy Boy chair.

“Yeah, it’s been awhile buddy. I was just thinking about you and Mike O’Grady.”

“Mike O’Grady? I just talked to him a few weeks ago. I asked him to look at a couple of photos and to tell me if he thought they were authentic or fakes,” Bobby said, finally having finished his piece of Danish. He sat back in his chair and loosened his tie getting prepared for some pleasurable reminiscing with an old friend.

 

“How’s Mikey doing these days?” asked Jack.

 

“Not the greatest. The last decade or so, hasn’t been very kind to him,” answered Bobby.

 

“Geez, I’m sorry to hear that. What’s been giving

Mike trouble?” asked Jack.

 

“Well, his health hasn’t been that good. He’s got arthritis in his knees and his back and he’s really obese now.”

 

At least that hasn’t changed. He and I were the two fattest kids in grade five,” said Jack.

 

“Mike also has emphysema but he still smokes like a chimney,” Bobby continued. “Because of his poor health he collects disability now. He makes a little money on the side repairing computers for a few clients and doing some photography.

Chapter One Hundred

 

“Have you ever heard of a guy named Blake Riley?” asked Jack. While he was talking on the phone Jack was staring straight ahead at one of his own abstract paintings that he had mounted on the wall in front of him. His living room was starting to smell a bit musty so Jack walked over to open up a window.

 

“Blake Riley? Anyone who is reading my recent articles on Ogopogo knows who Blake Riley is. He’s that rich, eccentric entrepreneur who’s funding the university’s research project on

Ogopogo,” answered Bobby throwing his Danish wrapper in the plastic garbage container to the left of his desk.

“It’s a small world, Bobby. Blake Riley was in our grade six class when we were in elementary school. I don’t know if you remember him from back then. Blake was a tall, skinny kid who always looked dirty. His clothes were well worn and always had holes in them.

“Now I’m starting to remember,” said Bobby with surprise.

 

“When I interviewed Blake on the phone I never made the connection. Blake didn’t stay long in our class, as I recall,” now sitting up straight in his leather upholstered chair.

 

“You’re right about that. Blake was only in our room for about six months or maybe less. Blake was a bully who used to threaten little kids for their lunch money. Eventually, Mr. Dole, our principal, called in Blake’s mother to discuss the situation. As Blake’s mom was behind on her rent payments she took this as a sign that they should move again to a place that charged lower rent. So Blake ended up having to change schools again,” said Jack.

“Poor kid,” said Bobby.

“Don’t feel too sorry for him,” said Jack taking a sip of his coffee.

“No one in our class liked him. Blake was a bully, a liar and a thief. A lot of things went missing in our classroom during Blake’s stay with us.”

 

“Yeah, I recall losing my geometry set and my Batman comic books seemed to mysteriously disappear that year,” said Bobby scratching his head. He now remembered the day that the school nurse found lice in Blake’s hair. “Life is full of surprises. I met up again with Blake Riley when I attended Business College. I couldn’t believe how different he looked. Blake now looked clean and was wearing a new sweater and a nice pair of dress pants. I asked him about his life after he left our grade six class,” said Jack.

Chapter One Hundred One

 

“I wasn’t aware of Blake’s change in character until it was too late. It wasn’t too long after we both graduated from Business College when Blake approached me with a business proposition. Blake had a lot of charisma, and still does in a devious sort of way. I ended up joining Blake’s business venture.

 

At the beginning our business took off like a rocket. Within a year we were both making more money than we’d ever seen in our lives. Things went smoothly for a few years, then Blake went turncoat on me. He started having an affair with a woman who persuaded Blake to forsake the business that he and I shared and to join her in her new business venture. Blake didn’t even pay me the courtesy of letting me know what he had done. Heck, he didn’t even ask me to join the new company that he would help build,” said Jack.

 

“So, the jerk double crossed you,” said Bobby.

“That’s a huge understatement. Blake was disloyal to me and almost ruined me financially,” said Jack.

 

Jack was starting to get red in the face and his blood pressure was starting to spike. Even telling Bobby about this situation caused Jack to relive it.

 

“So, what are you going to do about it and how does Mike O’Grady fit into the picture?” asked Bobby, becoming very intrigued with Jack’s story.

 

“I figure that the best way to get back at Blake is to make a total fool out of him. I want to see him totally humiliated,” answered Jack.

 

“And how do you plan to accomplish that?” asked Bobby.

 

“I’ve got a couple of ideas that I hope Mike can help me with.”

“Of course you know all about Blake’s participation and funding of the university’s research project,” said Jack.

 

“Of course, I wrote several articles about it,” said Bobby.

 

“Well, I plan to make that project fall flat on its face.” “And how exactly are you going to do that? You’ve got me really curious.”

 

“You’ll be the first to know but first I have to run my ideas past Mike. Have you got his number handy?” asked Jack.

 

Chapter One Hundred Two

As soon as Jack finished his phone call with Bobby O’Connor he called Mike O’Grady.

“Hey Mike. It’s Jack Kimberly.”

 

“Who? Jack Kimberly?

From high school?” asked Mike.

 

“The one and only. Look

Mike. I was just talking to Bobby O’Connor. I have a big favor to ask you. Is there any chance I can come to visit you this afternoon?”

 

“I don’t see why not. I hope you won’t mind a very messy apartment that doesn’t smell that great,” said Mike.

 

“That’s no problem. I should be at your place in less than half an hour,” said Jack.

 

When Jack parked his new

Ford Fusion in front of Mike O’Grady’s apartment, he could see that he was definitely in an inner city neighborhood. He saw what used to be a corner grocery store with boarded up windows. An animal scurried across his shoe. It was moving too fast for Jack to see it. He shuddered and hoped it wasn’t a rat. He walked up the rickety stairs that he prayed would hold his weight. One of the handrails shook and vibrated as Jack grabbed a hold of it.

Mike O’Grady’s apartment was on the second floor. As Jack climbed the steps he could smell the faint odor of urine in the hall. He knocked on Mike’s apartment door. Mike answered the door promptly and invited Jack inside.

 

Mike was not exaggerating when he talked about his place being a mess. It looked like his apartment had been hit by a tornado. Mike’s dining room table was covered with computer monitors, hard drives and an assortment of old computer parts and tools.

 

Jack looked around the room trying to find a clear spot where he could sit down. Finally, Mike moved a box of books off an old easy chair. The chair was well worn and had an assortment of holes of various sizes. Most of the holes looked like they were from cigarette burns.

Chapter One Hundred

Three

William Everett was looking out his office window that overlooked Lake Okanogan. With a look of disgust on his face he turned around to face his assistant, Max Turner.

“Come here, Max, you need to take a look at this.”

Max arose from his chair slowly and carefully. It was one of his bad days when his arthritis was especially painful. He joined William at the front window. “What’s up Will?”

“Look at all the yahoos out there in their speedboats. Most of them have their camcorders and cameras ready. Man, some of them even have weapons with them.”

“What are you going to do, Will?”

“I’m going over to Sheriff Anderson’s office to pay him a visit. This nonsense has to stop,” answered William.

Will went out to his car to drive to Sheriff George Anderson’s office.

When William arrived he found a very agitated sheriff talking to his deputy Bill Rollins.

“I don’t know about you Bill but I’m going nuts. I’ve been getting phone calls all morning complaining about all the traffic on the lake both on the water and on the surrounding roads.” said Sheriff George.

“Me too,” answered Bill. “A lot of the people calling in are really riled up. Some of them are actually yelling at me. They are demanding that we take some action. They don’t feel safe.”

“I can’t say that I blame them. Every idiot that’s out on the lake thinks he’s the almighty hunter who’s going to capture Ogopogo. They are expecting to make a lot of money after they haul in the lake demon.”

Just then Bill Rollins turned around to see William Everett standing outside his office. “Come on in, Sheriff. What can we do for you?”

“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. As a matter of fact, that’s the reason I’m here,” George answered.

“You are referring to the disaster on the lake we’ve got on our hands,” said William Everett.

“Exactly. What are we going to do about it?” asked Sheriff George Anderson.

“The first thing I would suggest is that we get the Harbor Patrol involved. We need to contact them and advise them of the severity of the situation,” William suggested.

“That would be a good start. Secondly, I think we need to have a serious meeting with the local media. We have to get the media on board to help us get the message across to the public that this situation is unacceptable and that law enforcement will take action if this type of behavior continues,” said George.

 

Chapter One Hundred Four:

Jack finally cleared off a spot on Mike O’Grady’s ragged and easy chair. This chair has seen a lot of mileage and probably hasn’t been cleaned since Mike bought it at a local flea market.

“So, how you been Jack?” asked Mike as he sat on an old broken down couch that appeared to be on a slant.

“I’ve been better,” said Jack. “And you?”

“I get by. I should have taken better care of myself when I was younger. Of course, back then, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about it. Now I’m paying the price. I’m fat, I smoke too much and I’m pretty crippled up with arthritis. Fortunately, I collect a disability cheque every month. I make a little extra cash fixing up people’s computers and doing a little photography on the side. The government doesn’t know about this. If they did they would either reduce my pension or take it away altogether.”

Mike took a cigarette out of his pack. “Other than that I can’t complain. Mike started a laugh that soon turned into an ugly, hacking, coughing spell.

“So has life been kicking you around a bit, too?” asked Mike. He was barely able to catch his breath long enough to get the words out.

“Life was actually treating me pretty well until our mutual former classmate, Blake Riley pulled the carpet from underneath me. I thought that Blake and I were pretty tight the last few years. We were very successful business partners until Blake decided to cut me out of the partnership. I thought that we had each other’s backs until very recently. I would even have said that we were close friends at one time, but Blake met a female entrepreneur that swept him off his feet. To paraphrase Marlon Brando, she made Blake a business offer that he could not refuse. Unfortunately I didn’t seem to fit into the happy couple’s business plans. Blake threw me out like last week’s garbage.

“You sound very angry. Are you planning to get Blake back for this travesty of justice?” said Mike taking a sip from his can of Diet Coke.

 

Chapter One Hundred Five:

“You bet I am and that’s where I need your help,” answered Jack.

“Oh, where’s my manners? Can I get you a Diet Coke or put on some coffee for you?” said Mike.

“Yeah, I’ll have a coffee once you get your percolator all fired up.”

Mike got up and slowly and carefully manoeuvred his way off the couch to make the coffee in his small kitchen. Getting off the couch was an ordeal for him. There were so many dirty cups, plates, dishes and bowls that Mike had to move a lot of cookware out of his way in order to find the coffee percolator. He’d worry about finding a clean coffee cup after the coffee was brewed.

After he finished setting up the coffee maker Mike returned to the couch. It looked like the couch had swallowed the big man so far inside it so that he was now a part of it.

“Okay coffee’s on. Now how can I help you get revenge on Blake?” asked Mike his ponderous weight sinking him into the ragged old sofa like a black hole.

“Mike, do you remember that

model of Ogopogo that you made in grade six, for the science fair?”

“Of course I do. I put a damn lot of work into that thing. At that time in my life I was fascinated by lake monsters. I took great pride in carving my model out of wood and then painting it.”

“Do you still have it?” asked Jack.

“You bet,” replied Mike. “It still has a place of honor on top of my bedroom dresser. I even dust it off once in a while,” laughed Mike.

“Can I see it?” asked Jack.

“Sure I’ll go get my little treasure from my bedroom.”

It didn’t take Mike long to retrieve the model and bring it into his living room. It was not hard to see that Mike had put a lot of hard work into his science project. Mike’s eyes sparkled as he held it. Ogopogo was carved to a very precise scale and its body was a blend of the colors gray, green and brown. The replica had two flippers and some glued on feathers that were painted emerald green formed the mane on the back of Ogopogo’s head.

“Wow,that is a beauty! Can I handle it up and study it for a minute? I see now why it won first prize at the science fair,” said Jack. Mike slowly passed it to him and Jack held it carefully in his hands.

“Is there any way that you could build a large replica of this model, say fifteen to twenty feet long?” asked Jack.

“I could if I had the supplies,” answered Mike.

“What if I offered to pay for all the materials you would need plus pay you generously for your labor?” asked Jack.

“As long as you paid me better than my computer repair customers do,” Mike laughed.

“Say I do agree to building you a life size replica of Ogopogo. What would you do with it? You know. I think our coffee should be ready by now. I’ll go get it.”

Jack watched Mike try to extract himself from his couch. It was too painful for Jack to watch. Weighing in at over three hundred pounds Mike had to position himself so that he could use his hands to grab onto the coffee table in order to gain some leverage.

Jack couldn’t stand watching Mike struggle a second longer.

“Don’t try to get up, Mike. I’ll get the coffee for us.”

Chapter One Hundred Six:

As Jack gave Mike his coffee he began answering Mike’s question.

“There’s a couple of ways we could go with this once your life sized model of Ogopogo is built. One idea I have is to take the replica out to the lake and hire someone to start snapping pictures of it. Then I will anonymously mail these photos of the fake Ogopogo to Blake Riley. I will include a letter that says that I am a tourist who happened to see the lake monster on Lake Okanagan and started taking pictures of it. The tourist will write that he took these pictures near Squally Point. When the time is right I will make up another letter from the tourist to the Vancouver Sun. The letter will be addressed to Bobby O’Connor and will state that the photos were fakes. I will wait until Blake has sent these pictures to Bobby claiming that he took them himself. This will prove to the world that Blake is both a liar and a fraud.

I also have another plan in mind. I will hire somebody to phone Blake and tell him to immediately get to a certain location on the lake. The caller will state that he has been watching the lake demon for about ten minutes now. Blake won’t waste any time getting his boat and crew out to the specified location. Meanwhile, I will have hired a couple of divers to manoeuvre your model beneath the surface. Blake will be sure to take a ton of pictures that he will once again send to the Vancouver Sun. I have no doubt that Blake and his crew will even try to capture the phony lake monster, but I will tell my divers to submerge the model and get it out of Blake’s sight.

If Blake’s crew does manage to capture artificial Ogopogo I will have my own video crew nearby to film the look of shock on Blake’s face when he discovers that the Ogopogo he caught is a carved, wooden model. I will then send this video to Bobby O’Connor at the Vancouver Sun. This time Blake will look like a gullible fool.”

“You sure want to get revenge on Blake Riley, don’t you Jack?” stated Mike.

“With every fibre in my being,” Jack answered.

 

Chapter One Hundred Seven:

Winston was just bringing lunch up to the deck. It wasn’t difficult for him to see the excitement on the faces of Wally and Garry.

“Did I miss something while I was getting lunch prepared?” asked Winston.

Winston carefully placed the food on a table on the main deck.

“That’s the understatement of the year,” answered Wally.

“We saw Ogopogo!” said Garry.

Winston was so excited that he almost knocked over the tray with the chili and fries on it.

“What! You actually saw the beast? How far away was it?”

“I’d estimate seventy-five to one hundred meters from our boat,” answered Wally shivering a little from a strong gust of wind.

“That’s right. At first we saw a long row of birds on the surface and then they quickly flew away. Then we saw the humps rise out of the water,” said Garry.

“What that means is that the creature is not far from our boat. I need you guys to keep your eyes focused on the lake while I go downstairs to get some cameras and camcorders. You guys can put your chili into the buns while you are keeping a look out for the creature,” said Winston as he ran down the deck stairs.

Just as Winston reached the lower deck the long grey neck of Ogopogo rose about ten feet from the boat. Garry was frozen in his spot as he was mesmerized by his close encounter with the lake demon. The creature’s head resembled that of a horse. It had a beautiful dark green mane. The beast’s eyes were large and its mouth kept opening and closing. Ogopogo had a very angry countenance as it stared back at Garry. The young man let out a loud scream.

Startled by Garry’s voice, Wally turned around and also saw the creature. As he was in the process of making himself a chili burger, he dropped his paper plate and spilled his lunch all over his cargo pants.

Winston also heard Garry’s scream and ran up the deck stairs with two cameras and a camcorder. He gave one camera to each of the boys and told them to start taking pictures. With shaking hands Winston set up and adjusted the camcorder to its optimal settings and then started shooting a video of the creatures head and neck.

After about two minutes Ogopogo decided to submerge probably thinking that he’d given enough of himself away for one day. Winston, Wally and Garry all watched the lake’s water bubble and gurgle as the beast submerged. They all got soaked by the water that sprayed up on the deck of their boat.

Winston looked at the two young lads and said, “That’s enough excitement for today boys. I’m going to turn the boat around we’ll head for my place.

Chapter 108:

John had woken up during the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. He went downstairs to make himself a coffee. He would try to motivate himself to think up some ideas for a new novel that he planned to write.

John walked over to the coffee table to get his pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. Due to his low and unstable income John only bought the budget brand cigarettes. He knew that he should try to beat his tobacco addiction but he loved to smoke cigarettes when he was working on his writing. John sat in his red leather easy chair that was much the worse for wear. The leather upholstery was wearing out and there were cracks on the chair where some of the stuffing was starting to stick out. John didn’t let the condition of his chair worry him too much. After all he bought it for twenty dollars at a garage sale. He took a cigarette out of the pack and lit it up with his lighter, the one with the Harley Davidson logo. As John glanced at his lighter he thought about how much he would like to have his own Harley Davidson motorcycle. Right now John would have to settle for finding ads for Harleys in magazines. As he looked at these advertisements John would dream about riding his red custom built Harley along the highway. In his imagination he could feel the wind blowing through his long hair as he passed cars and trucks along the way.

John enjoyed a few minutes of his reverie until he could hear the sound of the coffee percolator. It was now time to face the real world. John didn’t like living in the real world that much. He was happiest when he was living in his own imagination and was sitting at his desk writing his novels. John wanted his next novel to be about Ogopogo.

He was starting to envy the fact that his son, Ryan and his girlfriend, Monique would soon be going on an expedition to search for Ogopogo.

 

John Richards knew that this was his opportunity to make his dream come true. He often thought about having a close encounter with Ogopogo and proving the creature’s existence once and for all. Heck, if he could gain access to a camcorder he would love to make an amazing video of the creature at close proximity.

John was rather timid and introverted by nature and had never had too many friends due to his being painfully shy. He was also very much a lone wolf by nature. One of the reasons that John chose writing as a career was that he liked to work alone, without a supervisor looking over his shoulder.

This time he knew that he would have to step out of his comfort zone. He needed to be part of the expedition. John especially hated having to call people up and ask for their help. He knew that he would need to just bite the bullet and phone Dean Sanderson.

Chapter 109:

John fought back his fear and called Dean Sanderson’s phone number.

“Hello, Dean Sanderson. This is John Richards, Ryan Richard’s father.”

“Hello, Mr. Richards. Your son is a fine young man. You should be very proud of the superb job you did raising him,” said Dean Sanderson.

“Thank you. Yes, I am very proud of my son,” answered John.

“What can I do for you today?”

“Well, I have a very big favor to ask?” asked John.

“Tell me what the favor is and I’ll tell you if I will be able to do it,” replied John.

“Well, sir. You probably haven’t heard of me but I’m a Canadian author with a couple of published books to my credit. I want to write my next novel about Ogopogo. In order, to make my writing come alive I would like to join your crew on your expedition. I would be willing to help in any way I can.”

“Well, as luck would have it I have room to add one more crew member and then I’m at capacity. Welcome aboard. I’m sure that the crew will find a place where your skills are needed,” answered Dean Sanderson.

“Thank you so much Dean Sanderson for this opportunity.”

After John ended his call, he walked into the living room with a big smile on his face.  He looked around and saw Stephanie sitting on the sofa. From the look on her face John could see that his daughter looked very upset.

“What’s the matter, Steph?” asked John.

“Do you ever think about what I want Dad?” asked Stephanie. She was now crying.

“What do you mean, honey?” By now his smile had turned into a look of concern.

“I overhead you talking to Dean Sanderson. Why didn’t you ask if I could join the expedition, too?”

“Sorry honey. I didn’t think you would be interested in the expedition,” answered her father.

“Of course I want to come along. I don’t want to stay here with Aunt Meg while you guys ogopogo 22

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