The Crayfish That Destroyed Winnipeg
By Ken David Stewart
Earl Dawson rolled over on his side of the bed and through glazed and blurry eyes glanced over at his Sony digital alarm clock. Bright red numerals indicated that it was 3:03 AM.
“Oh shit,” Earl said as he rolled over in the king size bed that he shared with Edith, his wife of twenty years. It was July 25, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Earl and Edith owned a beautiful red brick home on Wellington Crescent in the wealthy area of the city. The successful couple’s home was flanked on each side by equally expensive houses. Wellington Crescent was populated by upwardly mobile professionals, doctors, lawyers and dentists and the like.
Earl rolled over toward his wife’s side of the bed. He knew from experience that this was likely to be a useless and frustrating course of action.
Sleep had not come easily for Earl during the last two weeks. He had recently turned fifty -eight and had not been enjoying the initial years on his journey toward old age. Wasn’t life supposed to slow down and get easier as one reached his age? Whoever told Earl this tidbit of wisdom was a fool. One’s body got older and slower, you had aches and pains that you never had before and you had less energy to fight your daily battles. This was an appropriate metaphor for Earl’s present life as he was increasingly feeling like he was a somewhat disabled soldier fighting in a war that he was no longer sure that he could win.
Recently, Earl Dawson had not experienced any slowing down in the speed of his life trajectory and the increasing number of serious issues that were crying out for his attention. After fitfully tossing and turning for nearly five minutes, Earl accidently rolled over onto his wife’s side of the bed. He had accidentally pressed his considerable body weight onto his wife’s left arm.
Edith, Earl’s wife of the last twenty years, greatly resented being startled awake from a deep and peaceful sleep. Edith had suffered from a frustrating inability to remain completely asleep over the total course of a night for most of her adult life. It was her pattern to have to get up and read for about one hour before attempting to fall back asleep again.
Episode Two- The Physical Presentation of Dr. Earl Dawson:
Edith stared angrily at Earl and began to unleash her wrath upon her husband, “Earl, this is the second time in three nights that you have bumped into me and have woke me up at this ungodly hour. What is wrong with you! I think that you should ask your business partner, David if he would take you on as one of his patients and provide you with some type of psychotherapy.”
“I am a psychiatrist, Edith. I’m more than qualified to diagnose and treat myself!” Earl snapped back.
“You know that you can’t psychoanalyze yourself, Earl. It is impossible for you to be objective about your own issues,” Edith argued.
“I would like to think that I know more about my personal issues than David does, with all due respect to his obvious professional abilities. Besides, he is not only a distinguished colleague of mine, David is also my business partner and best friend,” Earl stated as he stomped his left foot on the floor.
“Nevertheless, you need to be under the care of a professional therapist. Now that I consider the point that you made, I must concede that David Mylander is likely an inappropriate candidate for you, but you need to find someone who is.”
Earl got off the mattress and began to pace around the bedroom. At fifty-eight years of age, he still cast a vibrant and formidable figure. Earl was barrel chested but presented with a substantial amount of muscle mass. Although he was only five feet ten inches tall, he had thick muscular arms that he proudly displayed whenever he wore tank tops. His back and shoulders were also well developed often causing a casual observer to ignore Earl’s obesity.
Earl was very defensive about his excessive weight and didn’t like it being pointed out to him. He rode bike and pumped iron as much as his professional schedule and diminishing energy levels would allow him.
Earl was grateful for the fact that his entry into late middle age had not caused any significant hair loss. He had long snow-white hair tied back in a ponytail that ran half way down his back. Earl was grateful that his family doctor had prescribed the medication finasteride to treat his enlarged prostate. Earl was delighted when Dr. Lakewood informed him that finasteride worked like Propecia, the medication that delayed male pattern baldness. Earl was very proud of his long mane of hair and often strutted about like a peacock.
“This whole situation is ridiculous. My life is getting harder and crazier everyday. Its like it says in that Dan Hill song, “like a roller coaster riding out of control.” Earl Dawson complained while continuing to pace back and forth like the hyena he saw last year at Assiniboine Park Zoo.
I am fifty-eight years old and can no longer cope with my own life. I just want to get off this roller coaster. The irony is that my job is treating very mentally unstable people on a daily basis. I’m just asking for a decent night’s sleep occasionally. I don’t have to sleep well every night. My present sleep medication protocol is only marginally effective. During most nights I average only three to four hours of sleep. I’ve already reached the maximum dosage of my sleep management medication.
On the evening of July 27, 2017, Isiah Jacobs, the seventeen year old brother of Caleb Jacobs walks down the orange carpeted steps on his way to his basement rec room study. Elijah is a tall, scrawny red-haired teenager with a serious acne condition who looks like he could be the poster boy for a local chapter of Nerds United.
Isiah’s private study is in his family’s rec room. As he approached the door to his study, Isiah noticed that the door is slightly ajar. As he pushed the door open he sees a translucent, red colored rectangular Tupperware container on the right hand side of his expensive black office chair. He hears a loud, scratching sounds coming from the rectangular, plastic Tupperware container.
Isiah bent over and picked up the container for closer observation. He can now see past the glare emanating from the red translucent Tupperware container. He shivers with fright when a living creature attempts to move around. Isiah is so petrified that he immediately drops the container on the floor of his study. Two of Isiah’s fingers manage to lift off the lid of the container. Isiah notices that there is a narrow layer of what appears to be dirty river water occupying the bottom layer.
To his horror, Isiah sees enough to identify the species of the formerly imprisoned animal. It is a large, hideous orange crayfish.
‘How about you, Tamara?” Keith asked. “I don’t know anything about you yet.”
“Well, I just moved in with my grandmother,” Tamara answered.
“You mean Brenda Dawson? I’ve talked to her many times. She’s a really nice lady. She is still known as the pet rescue lady in the neighborhood. Brenda always has at least two stray animals that she keeps until she can find good homes for them. Where were you living before you moved in with your grandma?” Keith asked.
“I was living with my boyfriend, Blake Edwards in Orlando, Florida, not too far from the Everglades,” Tamara answered.
“Where’s Blake living now?”
“He’s in Manitoba right now getting free room and board in The Headingly Correctional Facility. He originally moved to Winnipeg with me and got himself a bachelor suite on Furby Street. After living there for only two days Blake tried to rob a Chinese restaurant two blocks away. The truth is that Blake is not a very smart criminal. It only took the cops about an hour to arrest him,” Tamara answered.
“When is he going to be released from jail?” Keith asked grabbing another corned beef sandwich.
“They’ll probably keep him for a few months as Blake gets into trouble with the law a lot. I think that Blake made a poor choice when he decided to be a career outlaw. The truth is that he is not very good at it, but he hasn’t figured that out yet.”
“Are you in love with Blake?” Keith asked as Tamara took a sip from her glass of water.
“It’s hard to say. I don’t really know what love is. If you are talking about a physical, chemical attraction to Blake, yeah, it’s there. I don’t approve of his lifestyle though. I wish he’d grow up, get a job and have some positive direction for his life.”
“It sounds like you want a quality life. How did you end up moving to Winnipeg?”
“That was Marilyn’s idea. She’s my stepmother. She didn’t want me living that close to the Everglades. Marilyn is worried that it’s too dangerous a location for me. About a month ago, she was watching tv and saw a story about a nine foot Burmese python that wandered into one of our neighbor’s yard in Orlando. The snake had eaten their dog. Marilyn phoned Brenda, my grandmother, and asked if I could live with her for awhile until I found a place of my own in Winnipeg. Marilyn didn’t know that Blake was coming to Winnipeg with me.”
Chapter One Hundred Eighty-Six:
After suiting up for his dive John Richards descended into the depths of Lake Okanagan. He travelled a long way down before he saw anything. John was both startled and grossed out to see a dismembered bloody arm drifting towards him. Common sense told John that he should head back to the lake’s surface. He dismissed the thought as he felt that if it was possible to save the two diver’s lives he should make that attempt. He drifted down quite a distance further when the underwater caverns of Rattlesnake Island came into view.
John could see an adult size Ogopogo coming out of one of the cavern’s openings. The creature was carrying one of the divers between his jaws. John could see the stump of the diver’s missing arm. The Ogopogo stared at John and for some unknown reason released the injured diver from its mouth. It proceeded to turn around and swim away from John and the diver. John knew that this was his opportunity to rescue the diver. He called to the ship from the communication device in his helmet.
“Does anyone up their copy?”
“Yes, we copy,” Blake answered.
“I’ve found one of the divers and he is seriously injured. If I can get him to the surface there may still be a chance that we can save his life I’m going to grab a hold of him and I need you guys to bring us up immediately. I also spotted an Ogopogo. He is gone now and may have disappeared into one of the cavern openings. I don’t know how much time I’ve got until the creature reappears.”
“Don’t worry John we are bringing you up as we speak,” answered Blake.
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Five:
Bobby O’Connor decided to call Sheriff George Anderson. He believes that there is now less animosity between him and the sheriff. Bobby imagines that because of his cooperation during the recent demonstration he may have won him some brownie points with Sheriff George Anderson.
“Hello Sheriff. This is Bobby O’Connor. I want to thank you for allowing me to report on the demonstration in the town commons.”
“No problem, Bobby. I was glad to have you spread the word about my speech to the crowd. For the most part it has been successful in keeping the Ogopogo hunters off the lake,” the sheriff said.
“You said ‘for the most part’. Have there been any violators of your warnings?”
“I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that there has,” the sheriff answered.
“It has recently come to my attention that a man was attacked by a marine predator. The witnesses claim it was just a large fish, perhaps a sturgeon, but I have serious problems with their stories. I am not aware of any large fish such as a sturgeon that could cause this type of injury,” Sheriff Anderson said.
“What kind of injury are we talking about, specifically?” Bobby inquired.
“A very severe one. Most of the victim’s right arm was amputated.”
“You mean torn right off?”
“Could I speak with the victim? Has his condition stabilized enough that I could talk to him?”
“No, he’s dead,” the sheriff replied. “The man was in very poor health prior to the injury. He had a major heart attack while he was in the hospital.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Bobby said.
“What do you think really caused the man’s injury?”
“I don’t know, but our medical examiner, Dr. Marsha Mitchell, will be looking into it,” George replied.
“Have there been any other similar incidents of late?”
“Yes. Dr. Mitchell is looking into another recent incident. Two criminals who had stolen a couple’s boat were reportedly knocked off the boat by a creature with a large green tail.”
“What kind of animal knocked them into the lake?”
“The Harbor Patrol saw the whole incident. Two of their divers went into the lake to look for the two men. What they found was two badly mangled bodies. One man’s torso was almost ripped in half.”
“What kind of animal could have done this?”
“We don’t know. One of the divers reported seeing a very strange, menacing creature that correlates with people’s reported sightings of Ogopogo,” the sheriff said.
“How do you intend to follow up on these incidents?” Bobby inquired.
“I have asked Dr. Marsha Mitchel to call me as soon as she has any more information about what could have attacked the victims. After that I’m going to take my law enforcement staff along to find Ogopogo,” the sheriff said.
“Wow! So you really believe that Ogopogo attacked the victims?”
“What else could it be?”
“When you go out to look for Ogopogo, could you take me along?” Bobby asked.
“I don’t see why not. I’d just have to get it cleared by the Harbor Patrol,” the sheriff said.
Chapter One Twenty-Three:
Dr. Marsha Mitchell was in her office trying to catch up on some of her files when she heard her phone ring.
“Hello. Dr. Mitchell. This is Sheriff George Anderson. I’m calling to give you a heads up that you will soon be getting three more clients. I received a call from one of the surgeons at the hospital, Dr. Phillip Garvey. He told me that his first patient had died on the operating table. He was a man named Mike O’Grady. Mike had most of his right arm torn off by an unknown animal in Lake Okanagan. By the time his crew got him to the hospital it was too late. The poor man had lost a great deal of blood and was in very poor health prior to his injury. The doctor said that Mr. O’Grady died of from a massive heart attack while he was on the operating table.”
“That’s horrible. What happened to the other two men?” Marsha asked.
“They were DOA when they got to the hospital. These two men were criminals who stole an old couple’s boat, but they didn’t need to die in such a horrible manner. They were enjoying a couple of beers on the main deck when they were suddenly knocked off their boat by a very large green tail. The Harbor Patrol divers found the two bodies of the criminals. They were mauled very badly. One man’s leg was torn off above the knee and the other guy’s torso was almost torn in two,” Sheriff Anderson stated.
“One of the divers got a good look at the animal that caused the destruction. All he could tell me, on the record, was that the animal was an unidentifiable marine predator. Off the record, he told me he was sure that it was Ogopogo.”
“This sounds very similar to the Ida Rhodes case,” Dr. Mitchell observed.
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Two:
Blake Riley’s boat took another bump from underneath the vessel. This time it was powerful enough to shake the whole ship.
“What the heck was that?” Blake said, turning in the direction of the ship’s captain, Peter Marks.
“Well, it isn’t a submersible. My guess is that it’s a very large living creature,” Peter answered.
“Such as Ogopogo?” Blake asked.
“It’s possible sir. I am not aware of another creature in Lake Okanagan that could give your ship a jar like that,” Peter stated.
“Get Dr.Hardy for me. I think he’s below the main deck checking the sonar readings,” Blake said to Keesha, one of the university students.
Keesha didn’t have to go far as Lionel was already making his way to the main deck.
“Dr. Hardy, something very large has hit the boat twice already,” Blake said.
“I’m aware of that. That’s why I ran up the stairs to the main deck. The sonar readings I was getting suggested a very large object indeed, perhaps as large as fifty feet long,” Lionel said.
“Could it be Ogopogo?” Blake asked.
“I would hazard a guess that it is,” Lionel answered solemnly.
“Why does it want to attack our boat? I thought that Ogopogo is not an aggressive animal,” Blake said.
“At the present time we don’t have very much evidence concerning the creature’s aggression, one way or the other. There has been the odd report by a swimmer or a water skier in Lake Okanagan that claims that Ogopogo was pursuing them,” Lionel answered.
A third hit now struck the boat strong enough to allow some water to spray onto the main deck.
“Why is the creature doing this? What does it want with us?” Blake asked.
Ryan Richards walked towards Blake and Lionel.
“I have a theory,” Ryan said. The Ogopogo that is attacking the ship probably saw us capture the replica with our large fishing nets.”
By this time Kyle Winter had also stepped up to join in the discussion.
“Ryan’s right. Ogopogo likely thinks that we will try to capture him too. The creature is probably unaware that the replica wasn’t a real Ogopogo.”
“You guys could be right. My concern is how many bumps my ship can take before the creature causes some serious damage,” Blake said.
A voice was heard a few feet away. It was John Richards. “I’m worried about that too, but I’m also afraid that Ogopogo may try to climb aboard to rescue the replica.”
“So what should we do?” Blake asked, who was now looking anxious.
“My suggestion is that we throw the replica back into the lake,” John said.
“I agree. That makes sense to me. Maybe if Ogopogo thinks that we’ve set his friend free, he will leave us alone,” Lionel said.
Peter Marks was now set to take charge again. He grabbed a megaphone and said, “I need all hands on deck. We’re going to need lots of muscle power to lift the replica up and throw it back in the lake.”
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-One:
Cam McDougall didn’t waste any time getting to work on the photos and videos that Jack had provided. He called Jack over to have a look at some of the photos.
“Jack, these pictures you have are incredible. Considering that they were taken at night they show remarkable clarity and detail. I just have one question for you. Two, actually.” Cam said.
“Go ahead. Ask.”
“First question. Who took these photos and videos?”
“An old friend from my high school days, Mike O’Grady,” Jack replied.
“Would it be possible for me to meet him?”
“Unfortunately not. Mike passed away yesterday at the hospital. Mike got too close to the young Ogopogo and it tore his right arm off. Mike died in the operating room while he was being treated.”
“That’s terrible. His camera work was amazing.”
“We’ll miss him. That’s for sure,” Jack said sadly.
“Here’s my other question. Just an observation, but the smaller animal definitely appears to be an animate object, but something doesn’t look quite right with the larger creature. This is even more apparent on your videos. The little one appears to be moving around in a very life- like manner, but the adult creature looks stilted. The junior Ogopogo looks very much alive and appears to want to play with the larger one. The little one may think that the larger animal is its mother. The adult size creature doesn’t appear to be moving on its own. It looks like it only moves when the little one pushes on it,” Cam observed.
“The reason for that is that the adult size Ogopogo isn’t real. It’s made out of wood. Mike O’Grady designed, built and painted the replica of Ogopogo,” Jack explained.
“From what you have told me, this Mike O’Grady was a genius. Did he make a lot of money from his work?” Cam asked.
“Unfortunately not. Mike was getting older and suffered from numerous health challenges. He lived off his government disability cheque. He also made a little spending money by repairing other people’s computers. Mike died in poverty,” Jack said.
“Life is just not fair. That man should have died as a wealthy man,” Cam said.
“As brilliant as Mike’s work is, there’s going to be one major problem. It won’t take the experts long to figure out that one of the Ogopogos is a fake. That will start them wondering if the little one is real. People are going to suspect that all these photos and videos are a hoax,” Cam stated.
“The irony is that I originally planned for the replica to be a hoax played on Blake Riley. Then the real junior Ogopogo showed up and ruined all my plans to humiliate and disgrace Blake Riley,” Jack said.