Episode 42 The longer the fight in the stands at St. Vital Arena went on, the more spectators participated, either as active combatants, or they were only there to shout out encouragement to their friends. One of the brawlers was thrown heavily against an arena … Continue reading Winter Dreams Episode 42 by Ken David Stewart
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 Hundred Eleven
Luc and Guy were able to get down the walk way to the dock without drawing the attention of the old couple.
They climbed aboard the elderly couple’s cabin cruiser and began to look around. Luc got the boat started and the two criminals started out towards Squally Point.
The old man got out of bed and looked out his front window just in time to see his cabin cruiser leaving the dock. He swore under his breath and immediately went to his phone to call the Sheriff’s Office to report that his cabin cruiser had been stolen.
Guy and Luc were having a great time sailing along Lake Okanagan. Guy found the liquor cabinet on the craft. The two thieves now had an ample supply of alcohol to help keep them entertained. They were laughing and telling jokes about how easy it was to steal the boat. Guy turned towards the back of the cruiser when he spotted lights about two hundred meters behind them. The speed boat behind them seemed to be picking up speed and was gaining on them.
“Hey Luc. There’s a speed boat coming up right behind us. It could be the Harbor Patrol.”
Luc put down his glass filled with Canadian Club, turned around and could see the lights behind their boat.
“Yeah, it’s the harbor patrol all right,” Luc confirmed.
Guy was starting to panic.
“What if they stop us and start asking questions? What if they ask us for ID?”
“Settle down, Guy. I’m good at talking to cops. I just don’t need you acting all nervous. I don’t want these guys suspecting that something is wrong. Grab a fishing rod and pretend that we’re just fishing. I’ll slow down the cruiser. With any luck we’ll just wave to them and they’ll pass us by,” Luc said.
Just after Luc said this their boat got a heavy bump from a large object. A few seconds later the men both heard and felt another heavy jar and the two men were knocked off their feet.
“Something’s attacking our boat, Luc.”
By this time the cabin cruiser was slanted on an angle and water was starting to get onto the deck. When the two criminals got to their feet a thick, long, green tail swatted them overboard and into the lake. Neither man had bothered to put on his life preserver. They were quickly pulled below the surface of the water.
By this time the harbor patrol were in close vicinity of the cabin cruiser. The two officers had seen the huge, green tail knock the two men off their vessel. When they got closer to the cabin cruiser they looked over to where the men had been knocked off their boat. They could now see the water bubble up leaving a long trail of red blood.
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?”
The phone in Sheriff George Anderson’s office rang loudly. George picked it the receiver on the first ring.
“Hello, Sheriff’s office. This is Sheriff Anderson. How can I help you?”
“Hi George. It’s Bobby O’Conner from the Kelowna Daily Courier.”
“What can I do for you Bobby?” the sheriff asked.
“I just called to give you guys a head’s up. I got a phone call from a woman telling me that her group is planning a big demonstration for this afternoon at 2:00 PM.”
“So did she say what they would be demonstrating against?” George asked.
“Yes, their group is called Save Ogopogo. They are protesting against all the people who are on the lake hunting for Ogopogo. The group wants all these weekend warriors off the lake. She sounded very concerned because many of the would- be hunters are packing pistols, rifles, harpoons and any other weapon they can get their hands on. Some crews are bringing along large nets and iron cages in hopes of capturing Ogopogo alive.”
“Yeah, we’ve been getting a ton of complaints here at the sheriff’s office. The phones have ringing off the hook,” George said, with a sigh.
“What I’m really concerned about is the hunters finding out about this demonstration. If they catch wind of this, and they very likely will, there is the potential for a show down and possible violence,” Bobby said.
“You are probably right Bobby. That scenario could very well play out,” George said.
“The woman told me that she has already contacted the local radio stations, television stations and other media outlooks. I know that she’s telling the truth because I have been checking the local blog sites and there are a lot of posts both for and against the Save Ogopogo campaign. I’ll be going to see the demonstration because I have to report what goes down for the newspaper. I just wanted to pass the tip onto the Sheriff’s Office because I don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” Bobby explained.
When Sheriff George Anderson, Deputy Bill Rollins and William Everett arrived at the location of the demonstration it was only 1:30 PM. They took a look at Main Street in the center of town. Already a crowd was forming.
“Wow, there’s quite a large group of demonstrators out here already,” George said.” “How many demonstrators would you estimate are out here, Bill?”
“I would guess at least a hundred, Sheriff,” his deputy answered.
“My guess would be around one hundred and fifty,” William Everett added.
“Well, any way you slice it, we’ve got to make sure that this is going to be a peaceful demonstration. If the crowd gets much larger they are going to be that much harder to control,” Sheriff George Anderson said.
“I hear you,” Bill Rollins said.
“To the people in this town, Ogopogo is a very emotional issue.”
“You are right,” William Everett added. “Many people believe that the creature exists and is alive and well living in Lake Okanagan. They do not want their local legend tampered with,”
The three men looked up to see Kelowna Daily Courier reporter, Bobby O’Connor pull up in a silver van. He had a whole news entourage with him including a young attractive female junior reporter, a photographer and a camera technician. As soon as he got out of the van, Bobby huddled with his crew and drew out the game plan for them just like a hockey coach would do. He sent the junior reporter out to interview some of the people holding placards and posters. Bobby asked the video and audio technicians to follow him. They walked towards the sheriff’s cruiser car where George, Bill and William were all standing.
Bobby walked over to Sheriff George Anderson and asked George if he could interview him. Strangely enough, the sheriff was actually welcoming the opportunity of addressing the crowd and the media.
The organisers of Save Ogopogo had already taken over a large stage in the common area. It was beautifully decorated with pictures and artwork of Ogopogo. Large, colorful banners covered with slogans were also clearly visible. A few of the organisers were getting the microphones and speakers set up and were testing both the connection and the volume.
Sheriff George Anderson turned towards Bobby O’Connor and told him to gather up his crew and to follow him to the stage.
As soon as the men arrived at the main stage the sheriff walked up to a woman who appeared to be giving out orders to her charges.
George walked up to the lead organizer. She was a red haired woman with a shapely body that seemed to indicate that she worked out at the local gym on a regular basis. The lady looked like she could be in her late thirties or early forties. She was wearing a yellow tee shirt with red lettering that read, ‘Save Ogopogo’.
The woman saw George climbing up the stairs to the stage.
“What can I do for you, Sheriff? Of course you realize that this is a legal demonstration that has been given full approval by the town council. I have the official papers right here in my purse. I can show them to you.”
“Oh, that won’t be necessary. What shall I call you?”
“You can just call me Elaine,” the woman answered.
Bobby Conner took a few steps closer to the front of the stage. He looked up at the lead organiser and said, “Hello. My name is Bobby O’Connor. I’m a reporter with the Kelowna Daily Courier. I couldn’t help hearing you telling the sheriff that your first name is Elaine. May I ask you what your last name is for the record?”
“Oh, I know who you are, Mr. O’Connor. You used to report on the Kelowna Rockets when you were a sports reporter. My oldest son is a trainer for the hockey team. You are also the reporter who first broke the story relating to Ogopogo this summer. I must say that you created quite the stir in this town. My full name is Elaine Tanner for the record,” the lead organiser answered.
“Thank you, Ms. Tanner. Would it be possible for me to get an interview with you sometime this afternoon?”
“Certainly, Mr. O’Connor. Perhaps later in the afternoon. I need to have a conversation with Sheriff Anderson first. Oh, and by the way, you can just call me Elaine,”
“And you can just call me Bobby.”
“Before you start addressing the crowd I would like the opportunity to make a speech laying down the ground rules for this demonstration. I don’t want things getting out of hand,” Sheriff Anderson said.
“Oh, I can almost certainly tell you that you won’t have any problems with my organization,” Elaine said.
“That’s not what I’m concerned about. Just take a look at those guys getting out of their four by fours and pick- up trucks. Some of them are carrying tire irons and baseball bats. Those good old boys look like they’re aiming for a skirmish of some kind,” the sheriff said, shaking his head.
‘I think I better grab the microphone right now and make something clear to these would be brawlers.” George added.
George walked up the microphone stand and said, “Test, test.” When he was convinced that he had enough volume to be heard George began speaking to the crowd that was spread all about the town common.
“I can see that there are quite a few of you out here this afternoon. That’s all well and good. We have free speech in this country but I don’t want to see anyone here brandishing any kind of weapon. This is a peaceful town and I intend to keep it that way. All you boys that have tire irons, baseball bats and other assorted weaponry can take all your stuff and put it all back in your vehicles. After all, the demonstrators are only carrying placards and I don’t think it would be a very fair fight.” This remark heralded some loud laughter and applause from the Save Ogopogo demonstrators.
“I’ll now call up to the stage the Head of our Fisheries Department, Dr. William Everett.
William slowly and carefully walked the steps up to the stage. He first looked around the audience trying to get a rough idea of who he would be addressing.
“I’m not used to making many speeches but this afternoon I feel compelled to do so.
Sheriff Anderson and I have received an untold number of complaints about all the boat traffic on the lake. Tourists have been coming to our city in record numbers that we’ve never seen before. Most of the town’s visitors have come for one reason and one reason only. They have come with the intention of hunting or capturing Ogopogo. Now, I’m not saying that I believe that this creature actually exists, but I am aware of the dangerous situation that is taking place on our lake. Let me remind you that Ogopogo, if he is real, is a protected species under our provincial legislation. That means, in plain English, that no one is allowed to harm the creature in any way. If you do get close enough to see Ogopogo, remember that you can take all the photos and videos that you like. You are free to conduct interviews with Bobby O’Connor and his news crew. However, you are not allowed to take any guns on the lake or fire any shots at the creature. I also don’t want to see any harpoons sticking out of Ogopogo’s sides either. I don’t know how many of you have read Moby Dick or how of you may think it’s just John Bonham’s drum solo. But I will tell you this. I don’t want to see any Captain Ahabs out there on Lake Okanagan. If you do feel the need for that kind of adrenaline rush, I suggest you buy yourself a copy of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick at the town’s bookstore. If you find reading Moby Dick too much of a challenge, I suggest you buy a copy of Jaws by Peter Benchley instead. These statements were followed by much loud laughter from the Save Ogopogo demonstrators.
“Do you have anything to add Sheriff?” William asked.
“Only this. If I see any violent activity occurring this afternoon I will start making arrests and if this crowd gets out of control, I will not hesitate to call in the RCMP,” Sheriff George Anderson stated emphatically. “Elaine the mic is now all yours.”
“Well, at least you’re not telling us that the large marine predator is Ogopogo, as I’m sure Kelowna Daily Courier reporter, Bobby O’Connor is going to imply to his readers,” Sheriff George Anderson said with a sigh of relief.
“I’m sure that Dr. Hardy could provide a more educated opinion on whether or not the predator was Ogopogo,” Dr. Mitchell said.
“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 Okanagan and he claims to have seen Ogopogo upon two occasions,” Marsha answered, 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,” George said, 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 stated.
“I can guarantee that O’Connor will ask you if you believe in Ogopogo,” the sheriff said.
“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. Hardy is going to say to him. It is very likely that Mr. O’Connor will want to interview the professor,” Marsha answered.
“Oh, I think that’s a given,” interjected Deputy Bill Rollins. “The media’s first stop is usually Dr. Hardy’s office when something controversial happens.”
“And I’m sure that Hardy 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 most of his colleagues,” George said.
“A bit eccentric for sure, but he is still a darling of the media and the public in general,” Bill added.
“Let’s face it,” the sheriff said. “There is something within human beings that is attracted by magic, the mysterious and the extraordinary. 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,” George Anderson replied with a chuckle.
The medical examiner, Dr. Marsha Mitchell, arrived on the scene where the two bodies had drifted ashore. She was an attractive tall brunette 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 Rhodes’ body less offensive to him.
“Hello, Dr. Mitchell. What have you determined so far?” George asked.
“Well, the human remains are 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,” Dr. Marsha Mitchell answered.
“What will you officially declare as the cause of death?” Sheriff George Anderson asked.
“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,” the medical examiner replied.
“What species of large marine predator are we talking about?” Deputy Bill Rollins asked, wanting a more definitive answer from the doctor.
“At this time I cannot hazard a guess as to what kind of marine animal the predator might be. An expert in marine biology might be of more help in making a more precise determination,” Marsha answered. “My personal recommendation would be that you consult Dr. Lionel Hardy, 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?” Bill Rollins asked.
“Yes, Dr. Lionel Hardy does have a well-known interest in cryptozoology,” Dr. Mitchell said.
“What kind of zoology?” asked the Sheriff.
“Cryptozoology, the study of unknown and undiscovered species,” was Dr. Mitchell’s answer.