By Ed Staskus
Nessie the Loch Ness Monster was sick and tired of being cooped up. She was sick and tired of the tourists. She was sick and tired of the amateur monster hunters, scuba diving from one end of the loch to the other searching for her. She didn’t like the scientists with their gimcracks. The loch used to be home sweet home. It was time to move on.
It all started in the 6th century when St. Columba was taking a stroll on the banks of the River Ness. He saw a man being buried. The mourners explained the dead man was swimming in the river when he was attacked by a “water beast” that dragged him underwater. They tried to rescue him, but he was killed. Columba sent one of his buddies to test the waters. It was Luigne who everybody called Louie. The water beast made a move, but Columba made the sign of the cross. “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.” The water beast stopped like it had been “pulled back with ropes.”
Nessie had to laugh. She didn’t understand English, for one thing. Besides that, nobody was ever going to get a rope on her. Lastly, if she had wanted to eat Louie, she would have, but he was wearing a gnarly hair shirt and smelled like rotten fish.
In 1938 Willian Fraser, the chief constable of Inverness-shire tried to stop a hunting party that was after Nessie They had a custom-made cedar wood harpoon gun and wanted her dead or alive. He tried to put a stop to it, but “my power to protect the monster from the hunters was very doubtful”.
He need not have been concerned. She would have made toothpicks out of their harpoon gun.
Then twenty-four boats showed up in 1987. It was Operation Deep Scan. They deployed across the loch with echo sounding equipment. They thought they saw something. One of the scientists speculated they might be seals. Nessie could use an echo sounder. Seals were her favorite food.
Sonar expert Darrell Lowrance saw a large moving shadow six hundred feet down. “There’s something here that we don’t understand, and there’s something here that’s larger than a fish, maybe some species that hasn’t been detected before. I don’t know.”
“Just try to come down here and get me,” Nessie snorted.
When the time came to go, she started north up the loch at night, through the middle of Inverness where all the Scots were sleeping soundly in their beds, up Morway Firth into the North Sea, around John o Groats, and out into the Atlantic Ocean. By that time the sun was at her back and the New World was ahead.
She swam around Newfoundland, up the St. Lawrence against the current, past Quebec City and Montreal, and from one end of Lake Ontario to the other. She sent tourists scattering for their lives at Niagara-on-the-Lake, swam up Niagara Falls, and past Buffalo into Lake Erie. She stopped to catch her breath on the shores of Cleveland Ohio.
That was a mistake.
Police boats and Coast Guard boats their lights flashing sirens wailing raced right at her. Captains of speedboats big and small buzzed her back side, taking pictures with their cell phones. One of the captains lost his grip and his iPhone went flying. Nessie flicked her tail and splatted the phone back into the boat. She snapped her teeth at the Sea-Doo’s but they swerved away like water bugs.
A fire boat sprayed her with water “What is the point?” she wondered. “I’m all wet already.” She dove under the waves and found the deepest spot there was, two hundred feet down, and stopped to think.
“This is worse than the Loch Ness,” she thought. “I’m going back to the Old World tomorrow.”
She backtracked the way she had come, past Fairport Harbor to North Perry, stopping near the Kissing Bridge at the Lake Erie Bluffs. It was getting dark. “I’ll get some shut eye here and shove off in the morning,” she thought. “Going over the Falls will jumpstart me across that last lake.”
She found a shallow spot, stretched out, and lay her head on a half-submerged boulder. She was asleep in minutes and slept like a log. Her eyelids twitched whenever she started dreaming. All the fish avoided her.
Oliver got word about the gigantic sea serpent in the morning from one of his irregulars, 4-and 5-year-old youngsters who kept their eyes and ears open for monster sightings. Tommy One Shoe called him from the Metropark. He spoke in a whisper but was beyond excited.
“Ollie, you gotta get down here right away,” he said. “There is some kind of snake bigger than Bullwinkle asleep here at the bluffs.”
Oliver got the coordinates straight and rolled his pedal power go kart out of the garage. He knew it wasn’t a garden snake. He knew it was some kind of a whopper. Emma was hard on his heels.
“What’s going on? Where are you going?”
“No time to talk. Get your go kart and come with me. Bring your pocketknife, too.
They stopped at a fish house and hauled away all the seal blubber they had. By the time they got to the bluffs, cars were turning around and going the other way. A police car pulled up, although the policeman looked like he wasn’t sure what to do. It was sunny and bright, but nobody was walking on the lakeside paths.
Oliver and Emma raced past the policeman down to the waterline. When Emma saw the monster, she almost jumped out of her skin. Oliver pulled out his binoculars to get a better look.
“She’s a big one,” he marveled.
“Come on,” he said, the blob of blubber flip flopping on his shoulder. He ran towards an overturned rowboat. Emma and he dragged it into the water and rowed out to Nessie. She was still sleeping. The past day-and-a-half had worn her out.
A troop of summer vacation teenagers started shooting bottle rockets at her. Most of them missed, but they were harmless, anyway. They were annoying, though. When the teens wouldn’t stop, Nessie sucked up a thousand gallons of lake water and sprayed them with it. All their matches and bottle rockets turned to useless. They yelled at her, insulting her, but she didn’t know anymore English than she had before and didn’t pay them any mind. She turned towards the rowboat coming her way.
“Now what?” she wondered.
Oliver made signs with his hands that he wanted to tap a message out in Morse code. All monsters knew Morse code. Nessie opened her mouth wide, and Oliver tapped a message out with his ballpeen hammer, tapping on one of her front teeth. In the meantime, Emma started slicing the blob of seal blubber into slabs and tossing them down her throat.
“What a wonderful lassie,” Nessie thought. “I thought I was going to die of hunger.”
“OK,” Oliver tapped. “I get where you’re coming from. You don’t want to stay here, and you don’t really want to go back. Have you thought about Lake Superior?”
The monster said she had never heard of it just like she had never heard of the Great Lakes.
“It’s far but being the swimmer you are, you would get there in no time,” Oliver said. “It’s way up north where there aren’t too many people who will hassle you. It’s one of the biggest lakes in the world and it’s more than a thousand feet deep. If anybody does try to bother you, you can just go undercover for as long as you want. It’s cold, too, like Scotland.”
The more she heard the better she liked the idea. She didn’t like nosy neighbors or warm weather. “How do I get there?” she asked.
“Just turn around and go. It’s the last lake that way. You’ll know it when you get there.”
The sea serpent rubbed the top of Oliver’s head with her nose and swam away. Emma and Oliver rowed back to shore and were soon on their way home. That night he asked his mother if they could have leftover seal blubber for dinner.
“I don’t think so honey,” she said. “I’ve got chicken in the oven.”
“OK mom, maybe some other time,” Oliver said.
“I love you mom,” Emma whispered to her mother, her stomach squirming churning at the thought of eating blubber.
Ed Staskus posts feature stories on 147 Stanley Street http://www.147stanleystreet.com and Cleveland Ohio Daybook http://www.clevelandohiodaybook.com. To get the site’s monthly feature in your in-box click on “Follow.”