Keith and Brenda watched as the police car drove away with Tamara. As soon as the car turned a corner and was out of sight, Brenda sighed and looked desperately up at Keith.
“Keith, I need a hug,” Brenda said, as tears starting to run down her face. He hugged her and the two neighbors stayed in a tight embrace for over a minute.
When Brenda finally let go of Keith she asked, “Keith, can you come over to my house for coffee and maybe some pie or cookies?”
“I’m not working this afternoon. I’d be glad to come over. I think you need someone to talk to, my dear lady,” he answered.
“You couldn’t be more right about that,” Brenda said while letting out a huge sigh of relief.
Brenda owned a beautiful house in the Norwood Flats area of Winnipeg. She was now the sole owner of Brenda’s Cleaning Service. She had contracts with many major business offices in the city as well as having a solid base of residential clients. Brenda ran a successful janitorial service business that was known for its efficiency, reliability and charging reasonable and affordable prices for services rendered.
Before she set up her own janitorial company, Brenda had been a very successful and respected grade six teacher up until her last teaching assignment. During this time, Brenda was hit with a bombardment of both personal and professional crises. Her father had recently passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer and shortly after, the brother that Brenda felt the closest to was killed in a car accident by an impaired driver. That year the school that she worked at underwent a change of administration. Brenda now had to adjust to two administrators who had both decided that Brenda’s performance as a teacher was now below the minimum standards.
This series of crises, all coming together around the same time period, eventually pushed Brenda over the edge.
Things came to head on the day that one of Brenda’s colleagues found her in the staff shower room trying to hang yourself. A one -month compulsory hospitalization in a psychiatric ward, followed by two years of staying at home collecting long-term disability benefits effectively ended Brenda Cameo’s teaching career.
Chapter One Hundred Thirty
About thirty minutes later Blake saw another ship about one hundred metres away. What he saw was Winston Stanfield’s cabin cruiser. Winston’s crew which now included Stephanie and Susan Richards, was also headed in the direction of Squally Point. As the vessel got closer Blake realized that he did not recognize any of the crew on the approaching vessel.
Blake quickly called over Jack and Lionel. “I think we may now be encountering another vessel and crew with the same objectives as ours. Handing pairs of binoculars to Jack and Lionel he asked, “Do you men recognize any one aboard that ship?”
“Yes, I’m fairly sure who one of the crew may be. It is a well- known and controversial marine biologist who up until recently worked for The Department of Fisheries. His name is Dr. Winston Standfield,” Lionel said. You are quite right Blake, in your assumption that the vessel behind us is also searching for Ogopogo.”
Chapter One Hundred Thirty-One:
After Dr. Marsha Mitchell finished her autopsies on the two deceased criminals, Luc and Guy and the corpse of Michael O’Grady she called George Anderson.
“The wounds that I have found on all men were consistent with an attack by an unknown marine apex predator. The damage to their bodies is very much the same as those suffered by the late Ida Rhodes.”
“I was afraid that you were going to say that,” Sheriff George Anderson said with a long drawn out sigh.
“What are you going to do, Sheriff?” the medical examiner asked.
“My choices are now very limited. The creature that perpetrated these atrocities must be destroyed,” George Anderson replied.
Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Two:
While Blake, Jack and Lionel were all getting acquainted telling each other stories about their interest in Ogopogo, Monique called Ryan Richards over to an unoccupied place on the lower deck.
“What’s up, Monique?” Ryan asked.
“Something is bothering me. We need to have a heart to heart conversation.”
“Okay. What about?”
“About us Ryan. About our relationship. I’ve enjoyed being with you so much this summer.”
“That’s a good thing. Isn’t it? I feel the same way about you,” Ryan said.
“I’m glad to hear that, but we are both going to have to make some hard decisions before the end of the summer. What are your plans for the fall?”
“The original plan was to go back to Winnipeg to live with my mom until next summer,” Ryan answered.
“So does that mean that you want to break up with me at the end of the summer? Or does it mean that you want to make our relationship a long distance one until next summer?” Monique inquired.
“Neither option really appeals to me. I love you and I couldn’t stand to have only a phone and email relationship until next summer,” Ryan said. “So, what are your plans for the fall?”
“I feel the same we you do. I’m in love with you too and I wouldn’t want to have to settle for a long distance relationship for most of the year,” Monique said.
“So what should we do?” Ryan asked.
“It means that we both need to stay here when the summer is over. Another option would be for you to move to Montreal permanently or for me to move to Winnipeg.”
“My preference would be that we both decide to live in Kelowna permanently. Of course, it’s going to be very hard news for our parents to accept,” Ryan said.
“I know our parents are very likely to be upset about our plans for the fall, but it is never easy for parents to let their children go and allow them to grow up,” Monique said.
“That’s true, but we are both adults now and have the right to make our own decisions,” Ryan said.
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Nine
“Jack, I want you to invite your whole crew aboard The Viper. This boat has more than enough room. I want them all to join us for lunch with drinks to follow,” Blake said.
“It sound like you want us to stay for awhile,” Jack said.
‘Who knows you may get to see another live Ogopogo. One of their species has bumped and jarred our boat three times. We think that it is upset that we have the replica aboard our vessel. We were just attempting to throw the model back in the lake when our boat suffered another strong blow from beneath the surface. I hope that Ogopogo is satisfied that we got its message. It has to be one powerful creature to push this boat around.”
“I have a new proposition for you, Jack. One that is going to more than make up for how I betrayed you in the past. After my fling with Debra ended I found out how it feels to be used and betrayed. It made me think about what had happened to you. You may not believe me, and I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t. My philosophy of life has changed. I used to think that it was a dog eat dog world and that everybody had to look out for number one.
I fell into a deep depression after the break up with Debra Lang. It got so bad that I went to see a well -known therapist. She helped me to see some things about myself that I didn’t want to look at. I was really full of self- pity. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was as much to blame for what happened as Debra was. The most frightening epiphany for me was the discovery that I didn’t have any friends. I had people I paid to work for me, but I was just their employer. I came to realize that I needed some real friends. In order to do this, I would need to mend a few fences,” Blake said.
“That was quite the speech, Blake. You know, I almost believe you. Can a leopard really change its spots?”
“I believe it can. That’s why I want to make it up to you. I’ve always liked you and you are the closest thing to a friend I ever had,” Blake replied.
“Okay Blake. You’ve got me interested. You said something about a proposition. What is it?”
“I want us to be partners again, Jack. Only this time we are not going into the new project to make money. Our objective will now be to be to make history. We will be on the cutting edge of scientific discovery. I don’t know how much money we’ll make, but we are sure to be famous. I can see us ending up with book deals and movie rights offers,” Blake said.
As Blake was making his pitch to Jack, Dr. Lionel Hardy arrived from the lower deck where he had finished lunch with his students.
Blake introduced Lionel to Jack.
“I’m trying to talk Jack into becoming a partner with us on this expedition. I was just explaining to him the great opportunity for scientific discovery we have before us. Jack’s skill set would make him a valuable addition to our project,” Blake said.
“That may be true, but so far all we’ve managed to accomplish is to capture a very well designed replica of Ogopogo,” Lionel pointed out.
Jack and Blake both laughed.
“This is a sort of inside joke, but Jack played a key role in helping us discover the fake Ogopogo. It’s a long story but I will fill you in on the details later, Lionel,” Blake said.
“What am I going to do about my crew if I agree to join forces with you and Dr. Hardy. With all the personnel on your crew we certainly won’t need the members of my crew,” Jack said.
“You are absolutely right,” Blake said. “Your crew will no longer be needed. Although I would like to keep your paramedic. However, to make their disappointment easier to bear, I will reward each one of them with a five thousand dollar severance cheque.”
“I believe that that kind of offer will go a long way to easing their angst,” Jack said.
“Lionel, I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you this yet, but Jack has obtained some amazing photo and video footage of a smaller version of Ogopogo,” Blake said.
Jack Kimberley walked over to his kitchen to make himself some coffee. He was still trying to think of a way to get back at Blake Riley. If only he could make a fool out of his former business partner. An idea occurred to Jack.
What if he could prove that Ogopogo did not exist or make it appear that Blake had really had the wool pulled over his eyes.
Then an ingenious thought crossed Jack’s mind. ‘What if he could find a fake Ogopogo? Who did he know who could build one?’
Jack realized that he and newspaper reporter, Bobby O’Connor had a mutual friend. Someone that they both knew from their high school days. His name was Mike O’Grady, the same man who had analyzed Monique Painchaud’s pictures for Bobby.
Jack remembered how Mike always liked to tinker with things when they were in school. He remembered the time that Mike had made a small scale model of Ogopogo for a science project in grade eleven. Jack wondered if Mike still had kept the model after all these years. He knew how he might find out. Jack would phone Bobby O’Connor to ask if he had kept in touch with Mike O’Grady.
Jack immediately got the phone number of The Kelowna Daily Courier that was printed near the bottom of the front page. He dialed the number and a receptionist put him through to Bobby O’Connor.
“Hey, Bobby. It’s Jack Kimberly, man.”
“Jack Kimberly? I haven’t heard from you since high school,” Bobby said, trying to finish chewing a piece of his lemon Danish.
Jack reached for his coffee while he sank back into his favorite black Lazy Boy chair.
“Yeah, it’s been awhile buddy. I was just thinking about you and Mike O’Grady.”
“Mike O’Grady? I just talked to him a few weeks ago. I asked him to look at a couple of photos and to tell me if he thought they were authentic or fakes,” Bobby said, finally having finished his piece of Danish. He sat back in his chair and loosened his tie getting prepared for some pleasurable reminiscing with an old friend.
“How’s Mikey doing these days?” Jack asked.
“Not the greatest. The last decade or so, hasn’t been very kind to him,” Bobby replied.
“Geez, I’m sorry to hear that. What’s been giving Mike trouble?” Jack inquired.
“Well, his health hasn’t been that good. He’s got arthritis in his knees and his back and he’s really obese now.”
At least that hasn’t changed. He and I were the two fattest kids in grade five,” Jack remembered.
“Mike also has emphysema, but he still smokes like a chimney,” Bobby continued. “Because of his poor health he now collects a disability pension. He also makes a little money on the side repairing computers for a few clients and doing some photography.
“Have you ever heard of a guy named Blake Riley?” Jack asked. While he was talking on the phone, Jack was staring straight ahead at one of his own abstract paintings that he had mounted on the wall in front of him. His living room was starting to smell a bit musty so Jack walked over to open up a window.
“Blake Riley? Anyone who is reading my recent articles on Ogopogo knows who Blake Riley is. He’s that rich, eccentric entrepreneur who’s funding the university’s research project on
Ogopogo,” Bobby said, throwing his Danish wrapper in the plastic garbage container to the left of his desk.
“It’s a small world, Bobby. Blake Riley was in our grade six class when we were in elementary school. I don’t know if you remember him from back then. Blake was a tall, skinny kid who always looked dirty. His clothes were worn out and always had holes in them.
“Now I’m starting to remember,” Bobby said, slightly surprised.
“When I interviewed Blake on the phone I never made the connection. Blake didn’t stay long in our class, as I recall,” said Blake, now sitting up straight in his leather upholstered chair.
“You’re right about that. Blake was only in our room for about six months or maybe less. Blake was a bully who used to threaten little kids for their lunch money. Eventually, Mr. Dole, our principal, called in Blake’s mother to discuss the situation. As Blake’s mom was behind on her rent payments she took this as a sign that they should move again to a place that charged lower rent. So Blake ended up having to change schools again,” Jack said.
“Poor kid,” Bobby said.
“Don’t feel too sorry for him,” Jack said, taking a sip of his coffee.
“No one in our class liked him. Blake was a bully, a liar and a thief. A lot of things went missing in our classroom during Blake’s stay with us.”
“Yeah, I recall losing my geometry set and my Batman comic books seemed to mysteriously disappear that year,” Bobby recalled while scratching his head. He now remembered the day that the school nurse found lice in Blake’s hair. “Life is full of surprises. I met up again with Blake Riley when I attended Business College. I couldn’t believe how different he looked. Blake now looked clean and was wearing a new sweater and an expensive pair of dress pants. I asked him about his life after he left our grade six class,” Jack said.
“I wasn’t aware of Blake’s change in character until it was too late. It wasn’t too long after we both graduated from Business College when Blake approached me with a business proposition. Blake had a lot of charisma, and still does in a devious sort of way. I ended up joining Blake’s business venture.
At the beginning our business took off like a rocket. Within a year we were both making more money than we’d ever seen in our lives. Things went smoothly for a few years, then Blake went turncoat on me. He started having an affair with a woman who persuaded Blake to forsake the business that he and I shared to join her in her new business venture. Blake didn’t even pay me the courtesy of letting me know what he had done. Heck, he didn’t even ask me to join the new company that he would help build,” Jack said angrily.
“So, the jerk double crossed you,” Bobby said.
“That’s a huge understatement. Blake was disloyal to me and almost ruined me financially,” Jack replied.
Jack was starting to get red in the face and his blood pressure was starting to spike. Even telling Bobby about this situation caused Jack to relive it.
“So, what are you going to do about it, and how does Mike O’Grady fit into the picture?” Bobby asked, becoming very intrigued with Jack’s story.
“I figure that the best way to get back at Blake is to make a total fool out of him. I want to see him totally humiliated,” Jack answered.
“And how do you plan to accomplish that?” Bobby asked.
“I’ve got a couple of ideas that I hope Mike can help me with.”
“Of course you know all about Blake’s participation and funding of the university’s research project,” Jack stated.
“Of course, I wrote several articles about it,” Bobby said.
“Well, I plan to make that project fall flat on its face.”
“And how exactly are you going to do that? You’ve got me really curious.”
“You’ll be the first to know, but first I have to run my ideas past Mike. Have you got his number handy?” Jack asked.
Chapter One Hundred Fifty:
“Jack, I want you to invite your whole crew aboard The Viper. This boat has more than enough room. I want them all to join us for lunch with drinks to follow,” said Blake.
“It sound like you want us to stay for awhile,” said Jack.
“I have a new proposition for you, Blake. One, that is going to more than make up for how I betrayed you in the past. After my fling with Debra ended I found out how it feels to be used and betrayed. It made me think about what had happened to you. You may not believe me, and I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t. My philosophy of life has changed. I used to think that it was a dog eat dog world and that everybody had to look out for number one.
I fell into a deep depression after the break up with Debra Lang. It got so bad that I went to see a well -known therapist. She helped me to see some things about myself that I didn’t want to look at. I was really full of self- pity. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was as much to blame for what happened as Debra was. The most frightening epiphany for me was the discovery that I didn’t have any friends. I had people I paid to work for me, but I was just their employer. I came to realize that I needed some real friends. In order to do this, I would need to mend a few fences,” said Blake.
“That was quite the speech, Blake. You know, I almost believe you. Can a leopard really change its spots?”
“I believe it can. That’s why I want to make it up to you. I’ve always liked you and you are the closest thing to a friend I ever had,” said Blake.
“Okay Blake. You’ve got me interested. You said something about a proposition. What is it?”
Chapter One Hundred Forty –Eight:
As Jack boarded The Viper, Blake brought Jack a rum and coke. He pointed to the large water soaked replica of Ogopogo trapped in the net. “I see that you snagged the big prize,” said Jack with a wide grin on his face.
“Yeah, it’s a beauty of a model,” replied Blake with a laugh. “I would sure like to meet the guy who put together that masterpiece.”
“That could be a problem,” said Jack.
“How so? Do you know the artist?”
“His name was Mike O’Grady,
“That name sounds very familiar. I think I knew a kid in school who went by that name,” said Blake.
Jack burst out laughing.
“Oh, come on. It can’t be the same guy,” said Blake.
“Do you remember who won first prize at the science fair in grade eleven?” asked Jack.
“Now I see the connection. Mike was the kid who built that small model of Ogopogo. It was a beauty. I remember that Mike spent weeks working on that model. So you’re telling me that Mike O’Grady designed and built the life sized model on the deck of my ship? Why would he build a full size replica and what was it doing on the lake?”
“I arranged the whole thing,” said Jack. “I paid Mike O’Grady to build the life sized model.
“I was going to use the model to get back at you,” said Jack.
“What have you got against me?” asked Blake.
“Are you that obtuse, Blake. You mean to say that you don’t remember what you did to me?”
“No. I don’t remember what I did to you.”
“You quit our business partnership and took up with some sleazy married woman,” answered Jack.
“She, somehow, talked you into leaving our business to become partners with her in her start-up enterprise. The worst part was that you left me entirely out of the loop concerning your new plans. I only found out about what you had done through one of our former business associates.”
“I can appreciate what you’re saying, Jack, but you are missing something here. In our previous business venture you and I were on the same page for a long time. Then, as time went by, our business ideas were starting to diverge to the point that we couldn’t agree on lunch. I didn’t see any rational reason why you and I should remain business partners. That’s why I jumped ship. I admit that I should have let you know of my change of plans in advance.”
“So why can’t I talk to Mike O’Grady?” asked Blake.
“Because he’s dead,” Jack answered.
Blake Riley was rich, very rich. He made most of his money over a two year period during the early dot com. days. Blake was a visionary who had the foresight to see the endless business opportunities presented by modern scientific technology. When the dot com. boom was coming to an end, Blake had the foresight to see this in advance. He sold off his businesses at a tidy profit and set up an off shore bank account. At twenty-four years of age, Blake was a self- made millionaire.
Blake was far too young and much too ambitious to retire. The next business opportunity he looked at was setting up a file sharing company in Sweden. There was a fortune to be made in selling both monthly and annual memberships to subscribers. In return, his customers could upload and download files on an unlimited basis.
Blake was a high energy individual who became bored very easily. Once he had his file sharing software business up and running Blake hired competent managers to oversee the business.
Blake loved to make enormous amounts of money but he was not your typical workaholic. His philosophy of life was to get as much enjoyment from each day as he possibly could. Blake was a risk taker who believed in pushing the envelope. He was always interested in propositions that were high risk, high reward.
Blake had many hobbies and interests and now had the cash flow to indulge himself to the fullest. His personal belief was that one should never have a boring day. If he does, it’s his own fault.
One of Blake’s favorite hobbies was collecting vintage guitars especially Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters and Les Paul electric guitars from the 1950s and 1960. Blake presently had a collection of close to one thousand classic guitars. There were two guitars that Blake Riley was hoping to one day add to his collection. He coveted the white Fender Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock and the red Gibson double neck that Jimmy Page used when he played the songs, Stairway to Heaven and The Song Remains the Same. Although he picked up a guitar now and then, Blake lacked fine motor skills and found it hard to play anything skillfully. He contented himself with practicing guitar scales, cranking up his Marshall amps stack to ten and executing screaming string bends.
Blake’s passion was for collecting. He collected all kinds of things from sports cards to vintage cars. His most serious interest during the last year was collecting exotic pets. His goal was to have his own zoo right on his large property that stretched far out to a lake. So far Blake had a tortoise, a chimpanzee and a Siberian tiger cub. Blake had hired trained professional to manage and care for his collection of exotic pets. He had several business associates who knew people who could obtain animals that were illegal in his present country. He also wasn’t worried about outsiders finding out about his little zoo. Blake’s mansion and property was at least one hundred miles from his nearest neighbors. And Blake had competent security staff watching out for him and his property at all times.
Blake was quite eccentric. Some even thought that he suffered from bipolar disorder. One thing was for sure. Blake was very moody. His staff rarely new what to expect from him on any given day. Some days he would be friendly and jovial and on other days there seemed to be a heavy cloud over him.
On his bad days the only thing that could help Blake out of a deep depression was the thought of obtaining a new, but rare addition to his private zoo. When he went to sleep at night, Blake would often dream about acquiring an animal that no other zoo possessed.