“Did you see that guy push me out of the truck and throw my duffel bag in the snow?” Glenda asked.
“Yes, are you alright?” Roger asked.
“Yes, I think so. Beezer pushed me pretty hard out of the truck though. I’ll probably be sore for awhile and have some nasty bruises,” Glenda answered after taking a sip of her hot chocolate.
“That’s probably true. Look, I know its none of my business, so you don’t have to tell me your story,” Roger said.
“No, that’s not a problem,” Glenda said. “You let me in your house, Roger, and maybe saved my life, so I should be honest enough to tell you what all went down. First, I need to give you some background information about myself. My real name is Glenda Jackson, but I’m known by several aliases as you’re likely to find out. I’m twenty-two years old and I’m essentially homeless right now,” Glenda said as she stretched out and made herself more comfortable on Roger’s well worn blue and gold patterned couch. Roger sat in his brown Lazy Boy chair and smoked his pipe as he listened to Glenda’s story.
“It sounds like you are having a very rough time of it right now,” Roger stated.
“Actually, my whole life has been a rough time, man. My father left when I was two years old, so I never really knew him. My mom and dad got married too young and the only reason that they got married was because Mom was pregnant with me. My parents never really wanted me. I was an accident.”
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 are all out having fun,” said Stephanie squeezing a cushion tightly.
“I don’t know if it is going to be that much fun and it might be a very dangerous expedition.”
“That could be true but I’m going to find a way to join another expedition.”
Rick had met her father when he went over to visit Misty one afternoon. Lloyd had long hair often worn in a ponytail, was tall, had a bit of a pot belly and was in his early forties. He bore somewhat of a resemblance to Pigpen of The Grateful Dead. Her dad played guitar and claimed to have been in a band in San Francisco. He said that his band was going to be signed by a major record label but his marital break-up had derailed these plans.
After the marital split he decided to move to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada as his parents lived here. Lloyd realized that he had a poor track record for holding down a steady day job and if things really got tough he would have his parents within easy access to bail him out. Lloyd loved his daughter but he was not a disciplinarian. That had been her mother’s strength. Lloyd was a libertarian at heart and had trouble even trying to discipline himself. That was likely the reason that Misty chose to live with him instead of her mother.
Rick was quite infatuated with Misty but she did not appear to have any romantic interest in him. She made it clear to Rick that he was not her type, but that she didn’t mind “hanging out” with him from time to time. Rick held on to a hope that at some point during that summer, Misty would change her mind.
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 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,” 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.
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.”
“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 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 Porsche,” 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 taking a bite of her slice of ham and pineapple pizza.
“I’m not worried about it,” her father responded. “ I’ve always had my car serviced on a regular basis and I’ve kept up with the repairs over the years. The only thing you need to worry about on the Taurus is the transmission. I had a re-built transmission put in it last year. We’ll be in good shape.”