The Cougars were scheduled to play the Norberry Knights that evening. Before getting his gear ready for the game Rick thought about giving Misty a call to see if she would like to come with him to watch the game. Rick’s new coach, Brad Keenan had started off the season by platooning his goaltenders. This meant that Rick and Brent would start alternate games. Tonight Rick was scheduled to start in goal as it was an away game. It worked out that Rick would play most of the away games and Brent would work the home games. For some reason, Rick liked this arrangement as he found that he preferred to play in different rinks. He seemed to get more pumped up when he new that at least one side of the arena would ‘boo’ him. Like a professional wrestler, Rick enjoyed ‘drawing heat’ from the opposition’s fans.
As Rick did not know how Misty would respond to his invitation he was more than a little nervous when he picked up the phone.
“Hi, Misty. It’s Rick,”
“You think that I don’t recognize my new boyfriend’s voice by now?” asked Misty.
“I love the sound of ‘my new boyfriend’”, Rick said.
“It sounds like you are falling in love.”
“I already have,” replied Rick.
“So what’s on your mind?” Misty asked.
“I’ve got a hockey game and I want to know if you would like to come with me.”
“That’s right. I’m dating a jock. I’ve never done that before. Sure, let’s go for it. I’ve never even been to a hockey game before.”
“You’ll love it. Good fast paced action. Can you be ready by five-thirty?”
“I think I can manage that. I’m kind of looking forward to watching you play hockey,” answered Misty.
Chapter One Hundred Three
“Now, back to the demonstration,” Winston said. “What went down?
“At first it looked like there was going to be trouble and even violence,” Stephanie answered.
“A lot of wanna- be Ogopogo hunters were out in full force. Many of them were carrying weapons like tire irons and baseball bats.”
“That sounds like what we were just watching on tv,” Winston joked, referring to pro wrestling.
“Yeah, only this was going to be for real. Those good ole boys were looking for a showdown with the demonstrators. All the Save Ogopogo people had were placards to defend themselves,” Garry said.
“That brings back bad memories of the demonstration in Chicago outside the Democratic Party’s Convention in 1968. I know. I was there and took a few good shots to the head from the billy clubs that the police were so freely swinging around.” Winston said.
“So, did anything like that happen at the Ogopogo demonstration?” Wally asked, as he put his can of Coke back on the coffee table.
“No, ironically, this time it was law enforcement that saved the day,” Stephanie replied.
“Sheriff Anderson got up on the stage and let the good ole boys know, in no uncertain terms, that he and his crew weren’t going to tolerate any violence. He told the demonstrators that the local law enforcement crew wouldn’t hesitate to start making arrests at the first sign of violent activity. The sheriff also told the crowd that if the situation got out of hand he would definitely call in the RCMP for back up,” Garry said.
“Sheriff Anderson is a good man. He’s very level headed and knows how to take charge of a situation very quickly and efficiently,” Winston said.
“The Head of the Department of Fisheries also spoke to the crowd,” Stephanie said. “He told the crowd that any boats seen on the lake would be stopped by The Harbor Patrol and searched for weapons of any kind.”
“So, tell me, Stephanie. How did you get interested in the Save Ogopogo group?” Winston asked.
“Oh, you can just call me Steph, sir. Everybody else does.”
“And you can call me Winston. I feel old when people call me, sir. So give us the story about how you became interested in Ogopogo.”
“Well, it all starts with my father, John Richards,” Stephanie answered.
“Is he the Canadian author?”
“How did you know that?”
“As you may have noticed, reading is one of my favorite past times. All you have to do is look around my house. As you can see I have wall to wall bookcases packed with books in my living room. Even my small study has full book cases. I have read two of your father’s fiction novels. He is a very good writer,” Winston said.
“I’ll have to tell my dad what you said about his writing. He will be very pleased to hear your compliment. Like a lot of novelists he has doubts about his own talent,” Steph said.
“My father has been interested in Ogopogo since he was a young boy. He wants to write his next novel about Ogopogo so he got approval from Dean Sanderson to join the university sponsored expedition to look for Ogopogo.”
“Then, perhaps I shall meet your father and ask him to autograph my copies of his books,” Winston said.
“He would be very happy to do that for you. My dad loves his fans. The only concern that I have for the expedition is that it is being financed for the greater part, by the entrepreneur, Blake Riley. I don’t trust the man. Riley would just love to capture a live Ogopogo,” Steph said.
“So you will be going along on this expedition, too, I imagine?” Winston inquired.
“Unfortunately, not. Dean Sanderson has told my father that they are now at full capacity and will not have room for any more crew members. I am very upset about this,” Steph answered.
“Well, then. I have a proposition to offer you. How would you like to join our expedition? It will be on a somewhat smaller scale than the university’s project, but it still offers plenty of excitement. In fact, we have seen Ogopogo up close already,” Winston said. “Of course, I will need you father’s permission to allow you to participate.”
Stephanie was jumping up and down in her chair and yelling, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
A phone call was made to John Richards and after Winston assured him of all the safety precautions that he would be taking, John gave his approval for Stephanie to join Winston’s expedition.
Chapter One Hundred Two
It was a short walk from the town commons to Winston Standfield’s house. When Garry knocked on Winston’s front door, he was immediately greeted by the smiling face of Wally’s Grandfather. Wally put down his Diet Coke and got off the couch. “Garry, I see you brought a very beautiful friend along,” Winston said, as he extended his right hand towards Stephanie. Stephanie gave Winston a warm smile and shook his hand, “Pleased to meet you sir. Garry has told me a little bit about you and I’d like to learn a lot more.”
“That’s quite the compliment,” Winston replied. “I’ll try my best to satisfy your curiosity.”
Winston was not repelled in the least by Stephanie’s punk rocker look. Colored hair and piercings had never upset him. He liked kids that showed a bit of attitude. After all, Winston Standfield was just a big kid himself.
“We were just watching wrestling on tv. Do you like wrestling, Stephanie?” Winston asked.
“I love wrestling. You could say I’m a wrestling fanatic,” Stephanie answered.
“Can I get you a drink from the fridge?” asked Wally who was having trouble keeping his eyes off Garry’s new friend. “Would you like a Coke, ice tea or a beer?”
“Oh, that’s easy. I’ll definitely go for a beer,” Stephanie answered.
“I noticed your Save Ogopogo tee shirt. It appears to have a large ugly stain on it,” Winston said.
“Well, Garry and I had a little collision at the refreshment stand at the demonstration. Garry accidentally spilled some of his drink on me.”
“Garry has always been a clumsy oaf,” Wally teased.
“So you two met at the demonstration. What was the demonstration like?” Winston asked.
By that time Wally had handed Stephanie her beer and she was popping the zip tab off her can of Kootenay.
“Can I get you a glass?” Wally asked.
“No way. I’m a punk rocker chick. I have attitude.” Stephanie said. “Sorry about the tee shirt. Garry offered to buy me a new tee shirt, but I told him not to. The stain will probably come out in the wash.”
“That Orange Crush is like battery acid. It can burn a hole right through your tee shirt if you are not careful,” Garry joked.
“I’ve always liked guys with a sense of humor,” Stephanie said.
“I still love professional wrestling,” Winston said 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,” Garry said while petting Winston’s dogs. “Life as a pro wrestler is certainly much different than working a nine to five job,” Winston said. “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?” Garry asked.
“That’s easy,” Winston answered. “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,” Winston said 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.”
“Wow, That doesn’t sound like too much fun,” Wally said.
“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,” Winston said.
“Plus, you have to 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.
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 Winston 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 Hardy.” “Pleased to meet you Garry.
Are you related to Lionel Hardy, the professor of marine biology?” Winston asked.
“Yes, he’s my father,” Garry answered.
“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?” Winston inquired.
“I really can’t say,” Garry said. “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.
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,” Wally said.
“From what Wally’s told me about you, you sound like a pretty cool guy,” Garry said.
“That’s true. I am, come to think of it,” Winston said 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.”
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?” Winston asked.
“I’d wouldn’t mind a coffee,” Wally said. “What would you like Garry?”
“A coffee would suit me too,” Garry said.
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.
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,” Winston said.
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,” Winston said.
“I kind of invited myself over to your house,” Garry said “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 Okanagan again.”
“Wow, Cody’s lucky. He’s probably one of the few people in the world that had a close up look at Ogopogo,” Garry said.
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,” Wally said. “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.”
“Wally, is there any chance that I could meet your Grandpa, Winston Stanfield, in person?” Garry Hardy asked.
“Well, you’ve bummed me a lot of Marlboroughs. I think that I could try to set something up for you,” Wally answered as 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,” Garry said. “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.” Wally said.
“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,” Wally answered. “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.”
Garry Hardy 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,” Todd said 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?” Garry asked.
“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,” Todd answered.
“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 One Hundred Thirty-Eight:
“I believe there is still room on the couch for you Ms. Richards,” Winston said.
“You can just call me Susan,”
“Then that’s how it shall be, Winston and Susan.”
“That works for me,” Susan said.
“Mom, what are you doing in Kelowna?” Stephanie asked.
“I have had a couple of telephone conversations with your father that have made me very worried about you and Ryan. Your father told me that you and Ryan are going on separate expeditions to search for Ogopogo. I am very concerned about your safety,” Susan said.
“I can appreciate your concern, Susan, but I can assure you that Ryan and Stephanie will be well taken care of,” Winston said.
“First of all, I am taking my grandson and his friend with me. If I didn’t believe that they would be safe I wouldn’t take them. Secondly, I own a very large vessel. Even a very large creature would have a very difficult time over powering it,” Winston explained hoping to reassure Susan.
“I take it that you believe that Ogopogo is real,” Susan said.
“Absolutely, I’ve seen it with my own eyes and so have Wally and Garry. We managed to get some excellent pictures and video footage of it two days ago,” Winston said.
“Wow! How close did the creature get to your boat?”
“I would estimate it was within fifty yards of us.”
“Did any of you get injured?”
“No, the animal didn’t get close enough to my boat. Even if it did, or made any attempt to attack us, I would not hesitate to shoot it. I own some high powered weaponry aboard,” Winston said.
“I don’t know if that makes me feel any better. The mere fact that you got so close to Ogopogo freaks me out,” Susan said. “And what about Ryan’s safety? I heard that he and his father will be going with a different expedition.”
“I don’t think that there is any serious reason for concern there either,” Winston answered. “The other expedition is sponsored by The University of British Columbia. There are several university students going on that expedition and I know one of the marine biologists who will be helping to direct the project. His name is Dr. Lionel Hardy and he has an excellent reputation as a marine biologist. Their expedition is co-sponsored by the entrepreneur, Blake Riley. Mr. Riley has an even larger and more elaborate boat than I have and he can afford to hire the best crew on the planet. He has will have at his disposal nothing but state of the art equipment for his voyage. Would you consider joining my expedition, Susan?”