Kyle, Jasmine, Ian and Keesha, all university students, were sitting at their usual table at the University of British Columbia’s pub. They are all good friends and are taking a break from their classes. The students had established a routine of meeting in the afternoon when everyone’s last class of the day was finished. Jasmine and Ian both had an evening class that started at seven PM, but they decided that a couple of drinks wouldn’t interfere with their learning.
Ian was reading a copy of the university’s paper. The university’s pub was painted a bright, flaming orange color and along with the dark lighting added to the ambiance of the students’ favorite watering hole.
“Man, these stories are lame. I’m bored out of my mind reading this rag,” Ian said reaching for his glass of Bud Light. With his other hand he tossed the latest edition of the university’s paper across the large round table.
“Yeah, it’s a waste of paper and a waste of our student union fees,” Jasmine said.
“The problem is their reporters. They can’t seem to come up with any interesting articles for the paper,” Keesha said.
“Yeah, they could really use a really sizzling story for their next issue,” Ian said.
“They allow students to submit stories to the paper, don’t they?” Jasmine asked, moving her chair closer to the table.
“Why don’t we submit a story?” Kyle asked leaning back on his chair.
“On what topic?” Ian asked.
“It would have to be a high interest story,” Keesha said, brushing a strand of auburn hair out of her beautiful blue eyes.
“What is British Columbia the most famous for? “ Kyle asked.
“Probably the Vancouver Canucks,” Ian said.
“No, probably the Rocky Mountains,” Jasmine said.
“You’re both wrong,” Kyle said. “It’s the monster in Lake Okanagan.”
“You mean Ogopogo?” Ian asked.
“What else?” Kyle answered.
“You guys don’t really believe Ogopogo exists, do you?” Keesha asked, taking a sip from her grasshopper cocktail.
“Well, lots of people claim to have seen it,” Ian said.
“Kyle’s got a great idea,” Ian said. “All we’d need to do is go on the internet and do some research. There’s got to be plenty written about Ogopogo and maybe we can find some photos and videos.”
“I believe there’s at least two documentaries on Ogopogo,” Keesha said.
“If I remember correctly I think that Arlene Gaal has written a few books on Ogopogo,” Ian said.
“Yeah, we could go to the library and look up sites like Wikipedia, Discovery Channel, the History Channel and maybe Animal Planet,” Ian said.
“That’s not really what I have in mind,” Kyle said. “My idea is for an actual monster hunt, a real expedition. Then we do our own documentary about our hunt for Ogopogo. That way we’ll not only get a fantastic article for the university paper, we’ll also make a documentary video that just might help pay down our student loans. Anyone interested?”
“We would also have gathered the material for a book about our expedition,” Jasmine said.
“Where would we get the money for an expedition? The equipment alone would probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Ian asked.
“We have plenty of options. For example, the university itself could help with some of the funding for our project. And we could always look for money from private benefactors,” Kyle said.
“We will need a lot of funding,” Ian said. We’ll want professional divers, photographers and boats. We’ll have to make a list of all the equipment and the specialized personnel we’d need to pull this off,” Ian said.
“I think I’m hearing some interest here, guys,” Kyle said, as a smile crossed his face.
“Let’s think about the university first,” Keesha said. “Which department and what faculty would most likely be interested in a project like this?”
“That’s a no brainer. Professor Hardy from the Biology Department,” Jasmine answered. “He’s the faculty member the media contact every time there’s a reported sighting of Sasquatch or Ogopogo.”
“That’s right,” Ian said. “Dr. Hardy often tells his students about how much the subject of cryptozoology interests him.”
“Yeah, but have you seen Professor Hardy lately? He’s in very rough shape,” Ian said.
“I’ve heard that he’s still pretty messed up about his wife’s death,” Jasmine said.
“A project like this might be just the thing to get the professor’s mind off his personal troubles,” Kyle said, feeling the call of nature and getting up to head for the men’s washroom.
On his way to the washroom Kyle spotted Dr. Hardy sitting at the bar, drinking a Heineken. As soon as Kyle had finished with the washroom he sat in a vacant bar stool to the left of Professor Hardy.
The professor looked like a man deeply engrossed in some heavy contemplation.
“Hello, sir. I’m Kyle Winter. I’m taking one of your biology classes this term.”
Lionel turned around slowly in his seat as he broke out of his reverie.
“What did you say your name is, son?” Lionel asked.
“Kyle, sir, Kyle Winter. I’m in slot two of introductory biology.”
“I think I recognize you Kyle, but I can’t be sure. There’s one hundred and twenty students taking that course.”
“Of course, sir, I understand. If you don’t mind sir, I need some advice on a research paper I want to work on,” Kyle explained.
“You’re a step ahead of me son. I have just started a one year sabbatical today. As a condition of my continuing to receive a pay cheque during my leave, I need to submit a proposal for a research project of my own,” Lionel said. “Of all the professors in this university, why did you pick me? From what I’ve been hearing I haven’t been winning any student popularity polls lately.”
“No one else has your knowledge, experience and expertise, Dr. Hardy,” Kyle answered.
“Okay, I’m half way through my second bottle of Heineken and now I’m curious. Do you smoke, Kyle?”
“Yes, I do, sir,” Kyle said.
“Why don’t we take our drinks and move outside to the court yard tables. I can remember a time when you could smoke practically anywhere. In the good old days we could even smoke in our offices and in the classrooms,” Lionel said. “Oh, where did I leave my manners? What can I get you to drink?”
“A Jack Daniels and a Coke would be great,” Kyle said settling himself into his outdoor chair.
It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and a refreshing breeze.
“Well, Kyle this is my first day of sabbatical leave and here I am still talking shop,” Lionel said.
“If you would like to talk about my research project at a time more convenient for you, that’s not a problem sir,” Kyle said.
“Well, when I first got here my intention was to sit by myself and get completely hammered. But now it’s time for Plan B. I want to hear what you have in mind for your research project, so fire away,” Lionel said, carefully packing his Borkum Riff tobacco into his favorite white Meersham pipe, the one with the king’s head carved on the outside of the bowl.
“I want to do an in depth investigation of Ogopogo, sir,” Kyle said.
“Well, that topic will be a challenge. It’s been quite well researched already. And as you probably already know, or will quickly find out, the scientific community as a whole does not take the study of sea serpents and lake monsters very seriously. What they want to see is a captured live specimen,” Lionel said taking a few quick puffs from his pipe.
“But how about you, Dr. Hardy? Do you believe Ogopogo could exist in Lake Okanagan? Kyle asked.
“Not only could, it does. But there is more than one Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan. There needs to be a whole family of them to keep reproducing,” Lionel said taking a generous gulp from his glass of beer.
“How can you be so sure that Ogopogo exists?” Kyle asked lighting up a Player’s Extra Light cigarette.
“One of these days I’ll tell you, but not today. I have to build up some trust in you first,” Lionel said flicking a small ash from his tweed sport jacket.
“How are you planning to go about your research? You can find quite a bit of information on the internet alone. There have reported sightings, a blurry picture or two and a couple of amateur videos, as I seem to recollect.”
“No, professor. I’m getting a group of students together to plan and execute a proper search for Ogopogo,” Kyle said.
“You sure have ambition, son, but do you have any idea how much something like this might cost? Not to mention the amount of man hours required,” Lionel said, trying hard not to show any interest in Kyle’s project. The truth was that Dr. Lionel Hardy was already getting excited about Kyle’s plans.
“I fully realize that this will be a massive undertaking, but I’m hoping to put together a crew that will be up to the challenge.” Kyle said.
“But how about the money? Do you have any idea what an expedition like this might cost? The first thing you and I need to do is make a list of all the crew members, divers, and specialized staff that we will need. Then we have to find out what it would cost to rent some boats and some video and audio equipment.”
“So you’re going to join our expedition, Dr. Hardy?” Kyle asked unable to contain his excitement.
“Hold on. All I’m saying now is that, but I’m willing to help you with the planning.”