Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Nine
“Jack, I want you to invite your whole crew aboard The Viper. This boat has more than enough room. I want them all to join us for lunch with drinks to follow,” Blake said.
“It sound like you want us to stay for awhile,” Jack said.
‘Who knows you may get to see another live Ogopogo. One of their species has bumped and jarred our boat three times. We think that it is upset that we have the replica aboard our vessel. We were just attempting to throw the model back in the lake when our boat suffered another strong blow from beneath the surface. I hope that Ogopogo is satisfied that we got its message. It has to be one powerful creature to push this boat around.”
“I have a new proposition for you, Jack. One that is going to more than make up for how I betrayed you in the past. After my fling with Debra ended I found out how it feels to be used and betrayed. It made me think about what had happened to you. You may not believe me, and I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t. My philosophy of life has changed. I used to think that it was a dog eat dog world and that everybody had to look out for number one.
I fell into a deep depression after the break up with Debra Lang. It got so bad that I went to see a well -known therapist. She helped me to see some things about myself that I didn’t want to look at. I was really full of self- pity. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was as much to blame for what happened as Debra was. The most frightening epiphany for me was the discovery that I didn’t have any friends. I had people I paid to work for me, but I was just their employer. I came to realize that I needed some real friends. In order to do this, I would need to mend a few fences,” Blake said.
“That was quite the speech, Blake. You know, I almost believe you. Can a leopard really change its spots?”
“I believe it can. That’s why I want to make it up to you. I’ve always liked you and you are the closest thing to a friend I ever had,” Blake replied.
“Okay Blake. You’ve got me interested. You said something about a proposition. What is it?”
“I want us to be partners again, Jack. Only this time we are not going into the new project to make money. Our objective will now be to be to make history. We will be on the cutting edge of scientific discovery. I don’t know how much money we’ll make, but we are sure to be famous. I can see us ending up with book deals and movie rights offers,” Blake said.
As Blake was making his pitch to Jack, Dr. Lionel Hardy arrived from the lower deck where he had finished lunch with his students.
Blake introduced Lionel to Jack.
“I’m trying to talk Jack into becoming a partner with us on this expedition. I was just explaining to him the great opportunity for scientific discovery we have before us. Jack’s skill set would make him a valuable addition to our project,” Blake said.
“That may be true, but so far all we’ve managed to accomplish is to capture a very well designed replica of Ogopogo,” Lionel pointed out.
Jack and Blake both laughed.
“This is a sort of inside joke, but Jack played a key role in helping us discover the fake Ogopogo. It’s a long story but I will fill you in on the details later, Lionel,” Blake said.
“What am I going to do about my crew if I agree to join forces with you and Dr. Hardy. With all the personnel on your crew we certainly won’t need the members of my crew,” Jack said.
“You are absolutely right,” Blake said. “Your crew will no longer be needed. Although I would like to keep your paramedic. However, to make their disappointment easier to bear, I will reward each one of them with a five thousand dollar severance cheque.”
“I believe that that kind of offer will go a long way to easing their angst,” Jack said.
“Lionel, I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you this yet, but Jack has obtained some amazing photo and video footage of a smaller version of Ogopogo,” Blake said.
Chapter One Hundred Ten:
George Anderson was pulling a double shift at the sheriff’s office. His regular overnight deputy had phoned in sick earlier in the evening. George had just finished catching up on his paper work and was now finding it a struggle to stay awake. He got up from his desk and was now making a fresh pot of coffee. The sheriff really didn’t mind the solitude of the early hours of the morning. As George figured that he had worked hard enough for one day he decided to catch up on his reading. He was a huge science fiction fan and especially liked reading the old classics by authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Tonight he was reading his favorite science fiction novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau By H.G. Wells.
George had recently rented the video version of this novel and had enjoyed it immensely. Just as he’d settled back down in his office chair and took the bookmark out of his novel, his phone began to ring. The office had been so quiet that the sheriff was startled by the ringing of the phone. George sat up straight and picked up the receiver,
“Sheriff’s Office, George Anderson here. How can I help you?”
“This is Allan Hayes, the building supervisor from The Lake Side apartment complex.”
“What can I do for you, Mr. Hayes?”
“I know that this is going to sound very strange, but a few minutes ago one of our tenants moved a rather odd object out of his apartment. It was very large and was all covered up by the drop cloths that house painters use,” Allan said.
“So what exactly did he have under the drop cloths?” the sheriff asked.
“I didn’t get a very good look at it. All I could see was the part that wasn’t covered at its back end. It looked just like a long tail that you might see on an adult size crocodile or alligator.”
“I hate to ask you this, sir, but how much have you had to drink this evening?” the sheriff asked.
“Nothing. I don’t drink alcohol. One of our tenants, Mrs. Carson, witnessed the same thing I did. She was the first one to tell me that it looked like the tail of a full grown alligator or crocodile.”
“So, where was this tenant taking this thing?”
“I don’t know. My guess would be that he and a few other men were taking it to Lake Okanagan,” Allan answered.
“Now, let me ask you a question, Mr. Hayes. How would your tenant be able to keep an adult crocodile or alligator in his apartment with no one noticing it until tonight?” the sheriff inquired.
“It beats me, but somehow he did it.”
“Well as strange as your story is, you strike me as being a little too old to be pulling a prank. I’m just here by myself tonight, but I’ll get one of my deputies to investigate this when he gets here for the day shift.”
“Thank you Sheriff. I’m just concerned that there might now be two dangerous predators in the lake,” Allan said.
“What’s the other dangerous predator?”
Chapter One Hundred Eight
Mike O’Grady was moving between his cameras and camcorders in an almost athletic manner. Jack and some of the crew could hardly keep from laughing out loud as they watched their three hundred pound visual technician dance acrobatically between his cameras. Mike was breathing heavily and perspiring profusely as he barked out directions to the divers telling them in which direction to move his wooden masterpiece. Mike was so engaged in what he was doing that he didn’t seem to realize that it was very unlikely that the divers could hear him. In an almost trance like state Mike paid meticulous attention to the pictures that he was taking. He wanted the model Ogopogo’s movements to look as life- like as possible.
Under the water, one of the divers was startled by a heavy object bumping into his body with considerable force. He quickly rose to the surface in time to see a very unusual creature come to the surface. One of Jack’s crew called out to him, “Jack, look to your right!”
“What?” Jack said as he was drinking a beer and had been joking happily with one of his lighting technicians. When he turned to look to his right, Jack dropped his bottle of beer on the deck of his cabin cruiser. It shattered in pieces.
“I don’t believe it! What is that thing? It’s trying to jump on the back of Mike’s model,” Jack said, his face registering extreme fright.
The lighting crew turned their lights on high beam in order to get a better look at the phenomenon right before their eyes.
The creature was small in relation to the size of the replica but it looked eerily similar to the model. It was greenish in colour and could be as much as ten feet long. It had a long neck and thick body with visible flippers. It was trying hard to get the model Ogopogo’s attention.
“You can call me crazy, but that animal looks like a much smaller version of Ogopogo,” Jack said, who was now pacing around the boat’s deck and was wildly gesticulating in the direction of the creature. Jack didn’t pay any attention to the shards of his broken beer bottle that he was stepping on.
“Why is it trying to get on top of the model’s back?” asked one of the lighting technicians.
“It’s trying to play with the fake Ogopogo. So far it hasn’t figured out that it’s not real,” one of the muscular crew members answered.
“Who knows? The little guy might think it’s found its mother,” Jack surmised.
“Move the boats closer!” Jack Kimberley yelled to the two men at the helm. “I want to get as close to this thing as we possibly can. I want Mike to be in a position to get the best possible video footage. Lighting crew, turn up the lights. I want this footage to be as clear as is technically possible.”
Mike O ‘Grady worked his video equipment like a man possessed.
“Jack, do you realize that this is going to be the most credible evidence ever of Ogopogo’s existence?” said Tyrone, on of Jack’s crew members.
By this time the Ogopogo, junior edition, had taken notice of the two boats. It had probably become cognizant of the fact that the wooden replica was not alive and was therefore not one of its own species. The bright lights and the cameras appeared to have angered the creature. It st moved rapidly in the direction of the two boats. It swam right up to the side of the cabin cruiser and began pounding one of its flippers against it.
With an unbelievable display of courage Mike did not leave his video equipment and kept his camcorder focused right on the creature.
Justin, one of the other crew members, screamed at Mike to stop the filming and to move away from the creature. Unfortunately, Mike was too mesmerized by what was happening to pay any attention to Justin.
Within a matter of seconds the creature raised its long head and neck out of the water. It opened its mouth revealing a menacing set of teeth. It wrapped its mouth around Mike’s right arm and in one swift bite tore it off.
Mike screamed in agony and passed out from the shock of his sudden amputation.
By this time the smaller crew of the speed boat had climbed aboard the cabin cruiser. As Jack and the crew members of both boats rushed to Mike’s side trying to attend to him, the creature suddenly submerged with the greater part of Mike’s arm in its mouth.
What little was left of Mike’s right arm was spouting blood profusely all over the cabin cruiser’s deck. Fortunately, one of the crew members that Jack had hired, Brian Kelly, was a trained paramedic. Thinking ahead, he had brought his medical supply bag on board the boat. Brian immediately took a large bandage out of his bag and expertly applied a tourniquet to the stump of Mike’s arm. He then applied all of the large bandages and gauze that he had available to him.
Brian has successfully stopped the blood from gushing, but he knew that the crew had to get Mike to a hospital quickly if he was going to survive. Mike regained consciousness when Brian started giving him medical assistance, but was now rapidly going into shock.
Brian had now taken charge of the crew and started giving orders. Jack Kimberley was not about to invoke Brian’s authority realizing the severity of the situation.
Brian Kelly began to bark out orders. “We need to immediately get these boats back to shore. You two guys, who were manning the boats, get these boats moving immediately. Time is of the essence if we are going to save Mike’s life. He needs to get to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible. Jack, do you have any blankets on board your boats?”
“Yes, I do. I think have three large blankets,” Jack answered.
“Good, let’s get them out now. Mike is in shock and we need to keep him as warm as possible,” Brian said. He was no longer acting as a crew member, but as the true medical professional that he was trained to be. Jack’s boat travelled to the lake front at top speed. With Mike’s life being in danger, no one thought of retrieving the replica of Ogopogo. The divers would not have been willing to risk their lives trying to get the model back on the boat. They did not know if Ogopogo was still in close proximity. The replica was to remain floating on the surface of the lake.
Chapter One Hundred Seven
At about one o’clock in the morning Jack Kimberley’s work crew arrived at his lake front cottage. Jack had his high end cabin cruiser tied to the dock. He also had a rather large state of the art speed boat just to the left of it. The boats were very expensive and came with all the bells and whistles. Like his ex-friend Blake Riley, Jack greatly valued all the good things in life. The chase for the good things in life was what motivated these men to get up every morning.
The sky was now pitch black with only the brightly shining stars and the full moon to provide illumination. In the early hours of the morning the temperature dropped considerably and being on the lake would cause Jack’s crew to feel even colder.
Jack knew exactly what he’d need to make this a successful project so he made sure that his well- muscled crew also knew how to navigate a variety of different boats before he hired them.
As soon as his party arrived at his dock, the first item on the agenda was to get the Ogopogo model off the flat- bed truck and loaded onto Jack’s big cabin cruiser. With considerable effort the men were able to lift the replica onto the boat.
With this job accomplished Jack took charge and started to give his crew specific instructions. He made sure that every man knew his assignment.
Jack told the designated captains of both boats to each keep the other vessel in sight. He wanted to make sure that both boats were easily accessible to each other if any unforeseen incidents occurred.
After the vessels had travelled about one hundred meters from the shoreline, Jack signalled both boats to come to a stop. Jack had decided that they had reached a suitable spot to launch Mike’s replica of Ogopogo.
The strongest men on Jack’s crew slowly lowered the fake Ogopogo into the water as the divers started putting on their gear. Mike O’Grady began getting his cameras and video equipment set up on tripods. In a few minutes Jack gave the orders for the divers to start maneuvering the wooden replica from below the surface of the water. The divers were very happy to discover that the model dinosaur could float on the surface when they let go of it.
It took Mike O’Grady almost five days to complete his model of Ogopogo. He took this assignment very seriously. For Mike, this was not just paid work. It was a test of his artistic abilities. It had been a long time since had been able to fully use his creative skills.
Mike received a phone call from Jack Kimberley.
“Hi, Mike. How’s your little project coming?”
“I just finished putting the finishing touches on it this morning. I usually don’t get up before ten, but I felt very motivated to get the job done,” Mike said.
“How did it go with the work crew I hired to work with you?” Jack inquired.
“Very well. Without their help I wouldn’t have been able to get the job done on time. Those kids were super. When are you going to come around to see the finished project?”
“Can I come over right now? I’m dying to have a look at your work.”
In less than twenty minutes Jack Kimberley arrived at Mike O’Grady’s door. As soon as Jack stepped into Mike’s apartment he looked straight at the replica of Ogopogo.
Jack’s face beamed with astonishment and pleasure.
“This is unbelievable, Mike! If I didn’t know better I would think that you caught a live Ogopogo and put it in your apartment.”
“I must admit I’m very proud of my work. As soon as I got started on the project I just knew it was going to be a masterpiece. I just kind of went into another dimension while I was building it and the ideas to make it awesome just kept flowing.”
Mike’s creation was indeed awesome. His model was built to a perfect scale and the paint job was incredible. Mike had used a variety of paints to give the model a blend of different shades of green. Everything from the head, neck, body, flippers and tail were done exceedingly well.
“I can’t wait to give our decoy Ogopogo her first swim on the lake. Here’s my plan. I’m going to rent a long flatbed truck and hire some more men to carry your Ogopogo out to the truck. I’m planning on arranging this for around two AM. Ideally, I don’t want anyone to see us moving the model. I realise that even in the wee hours of the morning someone may catch sight of us. I’m also going to buy the largest bed sheets and blankets that I can find. Come to think of it, I know a painter who will have plenty of drop clothes that I can borrow,” Jack said.
“What will we say if we run into somebody and they ask us what’s underneath all that covering?” Mike asked.
“I can’t see a problem if that situation arises. We’ll just telling them that we’re moving some very expensive, antique furniture that we’ll be selling to a dealer.”
“I have to hand it to you Jack. You sure know how to cover all your bases,” Mike said.
“Plan A goes into action as soon as we get the model loaded on the truck in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. After we get our wooden friend onto the truck we’re going to take it out to a very secluded part of the lake. The place I have in mind has a lot of trees, bushes and other vegetation surrounding it. Due to the early hour of the day it will be very dark and it is doubtful that anyone will see us unloading our treasure from the truck. Just in case, however, we will keep a close lookout for any potential bystanders.
I will hire a couple of guys I know that you have powerful portable lighting devices and know how to use them. I will also take along some high grade flashlights so that we don’t stumble on our way to the path to the lake,” Jack said.
“So you’re planning to take some pictures of my replica in the lake?” Mike asked.
“Yes, but only clear, crisp photos. I know that you have some high end video equipment in your apartment, Mike. You are going to be our official photographer and camera man,” Jack answered. “Don’t worry. You will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.”
“I’m very willing to help you with this project, Jack, but with my health challenges and mobility issues I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get down to the shore of the lake,” Mike said, with a feeling of embarrassment and shame that only the disabled know.
“I’m always a step ahead of you Mike. You are this project’s artist and audio visual technician, but I am the project manager. I’ve thought of everything. I hired three huge body builder guys I recruited at a local fitness club. If worst comes to worst, these men can carry you down to the lake. I’m also bringing along a very sturdy wheel chair I bought at a medical supply store. With the help of my four strong lads we may be able to get you down to the lake front by means of the wheel chair,” Jack said.
“I have to hand it to you, Jack. You are a brilliant planner and tactician,” said Mike who was greatly in awe of his friend’s skill set.
“You sure must want to make a fool of Blake Riley. You aren’t sparing any effort or expense to make your little scam work,” Mike said.
“You are one hundred percent right about that,” Jack replied.
Mike O’Grady heard a loud knock on his door at ten o’clock in the morning. He usually got up late and was just starting on his first coffee and first cigarette of the day. He was almost surprised when he arose each morning to find that he hadn’t died in his sleep. At Mike’s age, and with his many health challenges, every new day was a bonus. He grabbed his beautiful, hand carved walking stick with the lion’s head and headed in the direction of his apartment door.
“Hang on. I’m coming!” Mike yelled. He wished that people would appreciate how hard it was for him to get around and that they would make allowances for the extra time it took him to do things.
When Mike opened the door he was greeted by Jack Kimberley. Behind Jack were two strapping young men who were carrying long, thick pieces of lumber. Standing behind them were two attractive young females who were carrying cleaning supplies. Jack was carrying assorted bags that contained paint, various tools that Mike had requested and a can of carpenter’s glue.
“I hope I bought all the material that you’ll need Mike,” Jack said. “I’ve also brought along some human resources with me whom I am paying to be at your beck and call. I realize that you are not in the best of health so I’m going to spare you the grunt work and let you save your energy for your creative and artistic talents. Please call me if I have forgotten anything or you think of anything else that will help you with this project. I’ve asked the ladies to immediately start cleaning and rearranging your apartment. If you are going to build a life size model of Ogopogo, you are going to need as much free space as possible to work. We can’t have you tripping over anything, can we now?
My two male workers are going to start moving your furniture out of the way for you so that the ladies can start cleaning your floors. How long do you think it will take you to finish this project?”
“I would say give me about a week. I might be able to finish faster with all the helpers you’ve given me. I will still need to take frequent rest breaks to get my breath and energy back up, but it is a great relief to know that I won’t have to do any heavy lifting,” Mike answered.
Mike’s eyes were filled with wonder when he looked around and saw all the lumber, paints and other materials that Jack and his crew had brought in. He once again felt the same rush of excitement that the boy in grade eleven had felt when he started work on his model for his school’s science fair.
Chapter One Hundred Forty-Two:
Jack finally cleared off a spot on Mike O’Grady’s ragged, old 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?” Mike asked as he sat on an old broken down couch that appeared to be on a downward slant.
“I’ve been better,” Jack said. “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 my health. Now I’m paying the price. I’m fat, I smoke too much and I’m pretty well 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?” Mike asked. 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 tossed me out like last week’s garbage.”
“You sound very angry. Are you planning to get Blake back for this travesty of justice?” Mike said.
Chapter One Hundred Forty-Three:
“You bet I am and that’s where I need your help,” Jack said.
“Oh, where’s my sense of hospitality? Would you like a cup of coffee, Jack?”
“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?” Mike asked, his ponderous weight sucking him into the ragged, old sofa like a black hole.
“Mike, do you remember that model of Ogopogo that you made in grade eleven, 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?” Jack asked.
“You bet,” Mike replied. “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?” Jack asked.
“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 paint brush hairs that were painted emerald green and 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,” Jack said. 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?” Jack asked.
“I could if I had the supplies,” Mike replied.
“What if I offered to pay for all the materials you would need plus pay you generously for your labor?” Jack asked.
“As long as you pay me better than my computer repair customers do,” Mike laughed.
“Say I do agree to build 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.”