CITIZENS OF EASTSHORE
My name is Harold La Franz. I've been working on the lake out there and in the woods since I was fourteen years old.... You want to know what happened ? Well I'll tell you, then you can write it up in your paper. Write it down exactly like I'm tellin you because that's the way it was.
Eastshore never was much of a town, it was flat on it's ass and waitin to die when the city council came up with the idea. Actually it was Jake Jacobs, the Mayor's, brain child; David Slater, the treasurer and Butch Bonzon, street and maintainance just sort of went along. ......Jason Edwards, he's a crazy hard rock miner. He was bored I guess. Anyway, Me and him and Carla Red Deer, she's the one over there that brought us the coffee, we joined up too. Of course it wasn't official council business or anything.
The six of us spent a few days drifting around the lake on Dave's boat scheming up this plan to save Eastshore and revitalize the local economy. Of course you know what the plan was.
Jake said we needed national identity, and what wasquicker and better than to give Deep Lake a bigger than life, water thrashing, tourist attracting creature of the deep!! We had the biggest lake in Idaho, fifteen hundred feet deep, five miles wide and fifty miles long just begging for a lake monster.
We all knew the idea was crazier than hell, but it was a desperate time.
Jake and the boys had already dropped a bundle on advertisements in tourist magazines. We had us some pretty good long term debt for a mess a flowering plum trees and fancy cobblstone sidewalks down main street, and if that wasn't enough, the petting zoo they'dstarted up by the hiway had caused our insurance to triple! Blake Armsley, he's one of the two lawyers in town, and the biggest tightwad in the county. He bought this cut-rate mean ass ostrich they'd been using in ostrich fights down in Mexico. First kid tries to pet the ornery son-of-bitch, the ostrich up and bites the kids ear off!!
Anyway we did a lot of drifting and bobbing around on the lake, not getting much of anywhere, until Carla and Jake got Lorenzo Kafkaloff to come in on it. After Lorenzo came in things started to happen.
Old Lorenzo, now there's another strange duck. Carla says he used to be a missile designer down at Chinaman's Lake in California or somewhere. She said he quit that and made a pile a dough putting together these "Rube Goldberg" contraptions he calls "Kinetic Sculpture". Strange or not, Lorenzo is smarter than anyone I've ever known.
Lorenzo said we shouldstart out slow, tease the public first, build up their interest, and than nail'em with the grand finale!
Carla's father was a full blooded Sioux Indian, and her being half Indian herself, she cons this reporter into doing a story on Tillie Nomey, this old Indian woman
who's about a thousand years old. Tillie plays the guy like a tom-tom and he writes this story about the legend of "Mah-Lahti-Na--Lat-San" Nes Pierce for "huge swimming horse with small head".
It was this reporter, Clyde Gifford, who came up with the nick name "Lottie" .... Anyway Clyde's article went on and on about Tillie'sfather telling her about fishing nets and traps being totally destroyed and the salmon eaten! How her father and the other fisherman of the tribe always avoided the lake around Eastshore. In fact in the old days of her father's father, the area around Eastshore was called "Sashi-Mah-Lahti-Na-Lat-San" or "place of the huge swimming horse with small head".
That story got the town the talking. Then Jake and Lorenzo made the first "Lottie" and when Jason and Butch hit the lake with a few appearances of that ugly tail splashing puppy, things started to roll.
The head on Lottie didn't come up out of the water or anything. It was pretty simple. The only thing that moved was the tail. It kinda came up out of the water sideways and slapped down. It made a hell of a racket. The head, the two humps and the tail must have been fifteen feet long.
I remember Butch and Jason laughing their ass off about this one boat. It was a rockin , like someone was having a lot of fun in there. The rocking boat drifted in close to shore, pretty near where Jason and Butch were operating Lottie by remote control. Butch works the remote and pulls Lottie up to the boat and slaps the tail a couple of times, nothin, a few more times, nothin. The boat just keeps on rockin. Finally, Butch backs Lottie up and, wham! rams the boat. Not once, but twice, before this guy comes up in his "birthday" suit and looks over the side right at Lottie, who's less that five feet away!! Right when the dude's looking at Lottie, Butch slaps the tail in the water.
The guy doesn't even flinch, just turns around and goes back in the cabin and tells whoever he's with "don't worry honey, it's just a big beaver". It was fifteen feet long!!!
It was Butch that came up with the skiff stunt. We were working on that before Lorenzo came in with us. At the time it didn't seem like any big deal. It was simple enough. Jason and I would be trolling in this little boat with a downrigger and....a downrigger? It's a big lead weight, about eight pounds, that hangs down in the water on a cable attached to the boat. You use it to keep your trolling line running deep in the water. Anyway, we were supposed to be trolling for Mackinaw when "Lottie" gets fouled up in our downrigger and drags us across the lake in front of Macdonalds tour boat. Carla and Lorenzo said it would add to the "authenticity" if we, Jason and me, blamed the Navy's research sub. He said the Navy, of course, would deny it and we would be left with the Lottie story. A story, which in a round about way, would be endorsed by the Navy. The Navy? Am I the first person you've talked to? The Navy's had a base here since 1943. Hell, during World War II, thousands of sailors went through boot camp right here at Eastshore. Nothing much left of the base now. Just the research fellas and the little submarine. Something to do with sonar and sound. I know it sure as hell wrecks the fishing.
The skiff?....Butch, Butch used to be a logger too. He came up with the skiff thing. Right outa the air while we were out on Dave's boat. Butch got this logger friend of his to dump these four big cedar logs in the lake. Butch lashed them together. Then he hung this big huge steel basket that Jake had welded up, under the logs on a rope.
Butch and Jason loaded at least two tons a rock into that basket. I thought the rope holding the basket to the logs was gonna break sure as hell. Jake, Butch and Dave towed the logs out to the middle of the lake. Butch ties this long cable to the basket of rocks, loops it over one of the logs and passes the cable to us when we troll by. Jason ties the cable to our downrigger rope and we make for shore about a thousand feet away. Of course, none of this had been tested. Jason and Butch said they checked it out, but I know they didn't. Butch waits until the tour boat's right out in front of us and cuts the rope holding the basket of rocks to the logs. Man those rocks went to the bottom! You could see that cable cutting through the water, hell you could hear it. Bam! The slack goes out and we're off like a rocket and I'm rollin right out of the boat. Jason grabs me by the belt and I'm flopping around behind the boat like a surf board. When we get past the tour boat a ways, I'm supposed to cut the rope with my jack knife. Jason wants me to give him the knife so as he can go cut the rope and then I got to tell him, "don't let me go 'cause I can't swim". Always liked bein on the water, never wanted to be in it. Those rocks got to fallin faster and faster and Jason and me got goin faster and faster. When those rocks hit the bottom, I'll bet they were goin forty miles an hour. I know we was, ripping a straight line for them four logs and Dave's boat tied up to them. We dumped this guy on a jet ski, went right under a water skier's tow rope and plowed smack through a wind surfer's sail. Then, right when we were gonna smack into Dave's boat and logs, them rocks hit bottom and we glide up to the logs pretty as you please.
Of course, our little skip across the water had made us a few enemies and attracted some attention from the Sheriff's lake patrol boat. The Sheriff's deputies were there at the logs waiting for us almost before Jason could pull me into the boat. Jason did have time to cut the rope loose from the boat though.
Those deputies were pissed as hell at us for speeding across the water like that. Recklessly endangering life and limb. They were about to get into their sanctimonious spiel about speeding on the lake when they noticed that little two and a half horse power trolling motor on the boat. They had seen us and they knew no one had been towing us and they sure as hell knew that little electric trolling motor could only do about 2 miles an hour...tops.
Well they were stumped. Now they start asking Jason and me what we think happened. Jason comes right out with "it was the Navy submarine" fouled our downrigger and drug us half to death! I don't think them boys believed Jason but then again they didn't know what to believe.
They left us and went over and checked the story out with the Navy guys who were working the little submarine further up the lake. They weren't up there long until they were back.
Jason and me, we stick to our story and finally one of the deputies brings up the possibility of it bein Lottie. Jason and me hold back awhile, then we're pimping Lottie the Lake Monster like a Hooterville Hooker.
Now, all that had gone on before and the skiff thing, got the papers going all over the country. We were even made the national news.
I think that most of us wanted to quit right then and there and let things take their course, but Lorenzo said it would all be forgotten in a few weeks. He said if we wanted to make a lasting effect for the town we would have to do something with a high profile, an incident that would create an indelible image of Lottie in the minds of a passel of people.
It would've made a pretty good story if we'd quit right there. Jake and Carla were hittin it off pretty good. Jason had a job he was going to in a few weeks. Dave had sold all of his holdings around town. Everyone wanted to hear my "skiff" story and Lorenzo had this New York writer hanging on his every word.
But we didn't stop there. Nope, Jake and Lorenzo had the full Lottie almost ready for her first performance. I think they just couldn't bear to have worked so hard bringing Lottie to the dance and then just have her be a wall flower.
They did the first run with Lottie early one morning. There were just a few fishermen on the lake but there were reports from two dozen fishermen who swore they saw her that morning. Hell, you could stop by Babe's Cafe any time of day back then and some local'd be telling you how they saw Lottie way back when....
We were in the news pretty good now. The national networks were running a little blurb almost every evening. All the motels were full and you could hardly get into Babe's.
We did the big finale on a Saturday. The tour boat Sacajewea always made a run with tourists around 10:00a.m. Lorenzo wanted to do the finale in front of the tourists with their families. The day we did the skiff thing, the tour boat was full of conventioning morticians from Washington. They were so drunk, not one of them noticed a god damned thing.
Well, the day for the big finale was here and what a morning. The sun was warm and the lake was flat as glass. You could hear every sound. Dogs barking, fishing gear rattling around in boats and the diesel idling on the Navy cutter.
Lorenzo and me went down to the lake around 9:30 and pulled out in the lake in Lorenzo's little run-about.
Now, Lorenzo was a genius but that creature he and Jake put together, it was something else. The thing looked "real". No matter how many times I saw it, it still gave me the spooks. And it moved just like an animal, "fully articulated" Lorenzo would say. It was powered by a couple of golf cart motors and ten 12 volt batteries. It had twin screws and was fully maneuverable. The most ingenious thing about this Lottie, Jake like to call it "The Full Lottie", was that you could submerge it and by means of this on board timer, get it to the surface at whatever preset time you wanted. It had two ballast tanks that were blown out by four scuba cylinders of compressed air. Hell, I think the full Lottie was higher tech than the Navy's sub!
At 9:40 Lottie's snout broke the surface, right on cue. Lorenzo could work the ballast controls with the remote when Lottie was on the surface. We just moseyed over to our spot with Lottie almost totally submerged.
There we are, Lorenzo's at the remote controls and me driving the boat and enjoying the most wonderful morning of my life. The rest Of the gang's was on the Sacajewea to shill for Lottie. Ole Lottie was lurking just under the surface, waiting to ambush the tour boat.
The Sacajewea finally reaches it's mark and the show began. Lottie surfaced about a hundred yards away, rears her head and takes a big, lazy look around. Jake and the gang aboard the tour boat take their cue and start yelling "look, look" it's Lottie!!
Well, they weren't the only ones that saw Lottie. Just about everyone on both decks rushed to the side to see Lottie. The tour boat lists so bad three people come sliding down the deck and go right over the rail into the lake. The people in the water are screaming for help but the Sacajawea just keeps on going. The captain can't here them because he's yelling his head off trying to get everyone away from the railings.
Lorenzo and me, we don't have any choice. We got to get those people out of the water. For a little while Lorenzo plum forgets about Lottie who's now making for the Navy's sub buoys. By the time Lorenzo sees what's happening, all he can do is set the surface timer to re-surface at 10:00 p.m. that night and submerge Lottie as quickly as he can. Lorenzo gets Lottie submerged just before the Navy cutter intercepts her. Lottie just keeps on going right at the buoys marking the sub's path. The submarine was just surfacing when Lottie rammed it. Hit it almost head on right at the diving plane. The impact jammed the diving plane and the sub goes straight to the bottom. Those guys on the Navy cutter were runnin and yellin like crazy.
Lorenzo and me hauled the tourists out of the water and get them back on the Sacajewea. Thank god, they could swim. Interesting thing was though, here all these tourists had almost capsized the tour boat and all they could talk about was Lottie.
We all went over to Lorenzo's that evening to watch the news and what news it was. All the networks major story - Lake monster sinks Navy's four hundred million dollar research submarine.
Were we depressed. Then, later that evening we found out the Navy had blown the sub's ballast tanks with a "sound trigger" and recovered it with only minor damage to the sub.
Then we were celebrating 'til Lorenzo reminded us we had to go get Lottie who was scheduled to surface at ten oclock that night.
Jake and me went out to the lake with Lorenzo. We knew where Lottie was gonna come up because the Navy's buoys were still out there. What we didn't know was how many lug nuts would be prowling around the lake looking for Lottie. There was no way we could get Lottie back to where we were keepin her with all these crazies around.
So when Lottie surfaces at ten, Lorenzo resets the timer for the same time a week later and we sink Lottie right there again and go home.
The next day, Sunday morning, we were all supposed to meet down at Babe's for breakfast and discuss our present or future plans. We never got in to Babe's. We almost couldn't find each other in the street, it was so crowded. It was like the sky had opened up and dropped this big ugly carnival on Eastshore.
Every place you looked, there were tourists, gawking and milling around. There were huckster and vendor tents everywhere, hawking everything tacky you could think of. There were Lottie hats, Lottie T-shirts, Lottie burgers, Lottie dogs, Lottie lattes...Hell you could get your fortune told for Christ's sake.
We kinda wandered around, numb, for awhile. No one knew what to say. There we were, thrown out on the streets, strangers in our own town.
About the time when we're all feeling our lowest, Zoe Smith, the writer from one of those New York papers.....yea that's the one. Anyway, real apologetic, Zoe tells us she's been doing some leg work and thinks some of us are behind the whole Lottie thing. Zoe was going to file the story the next day and wanted to know if we had anything to add.
We all felt real bad, you know, about the town being overrun, especially Jake and Lorenzo. It was pretty clear what we had to do. That was to expose Lottie for what she was, end the hoax and take our medicine.
Zoe really didn't want to write the story but Lorenzo convinced her it would help the town. It wasn't hard to get her to set back the date a week.
Jake and Lorenzo went out that Saturday night and got Lottie when she surfaced. They moved her down about 200 yards off the city beach and submerged her with the timer set to bring Lottie up the next day, Sunday, at two p.m. right when the beach was the most crowded.
It was about what you'd expect. Lottie popped up 200 yards off shore and in no time everyone on the beach was watching her. Lorenzo gives em a real show. The tail slappin the water and head rearing up and all. Then Lorenzo brings her right in to the beach real slow.
Everyone clears the water like it was poison. The crowds screamin and all pointing, backing up the beach in this great big semi-circle around Lottie. Lorenzo pulls Lottie up not ten feet from the shore. Lottie's just lying there with her head in the water and her tail twitching real slow.
The cops and Sheriff's deputies from the lake arrive. There must have been fifteen or twenty of them with their guns drawn, all surrounding Lottie. Those cops didn't know what to think, craning their necks, squinting their eyes, trying to figure out just what the hell Lottie was.
Lottie's just lying there twitching her tail slow like and Lorenzo moving her head from side to side real menacing. The cops were getting more and more tense by the moment.
Lorenzo says he was just trying to beach Lottie. I think he wanted to scare the shit outta those cops. Anyways, Lorenzo lets the situation get as "pregnant" with tension as he can. He rears Lottie's head out of the water and jams her into full speed ahead. Lottie didn't get two feet when the cops and deputies cut loose. They had pistols, rifles, riot guns. By the time Lottie hit the beach, and the smoke cleared, there wasn't much left, just the metal skeleton of the head and a bunch of batteries and one of the air tanks hissing air.
Well, they slayed the beast. The seven of us came forward and fessed up. They hand cuffed us and took us down to the jail. Zoe bailed us out and in no time, we were back in Eastshore waiting to be arraigned for destroying government property, reckless endangerment and a bunch of other shit.
As you can imagine, the townsfolk weren't too happy about being made the fool. For awhile, the seven of us were about as popular as Californians.
Lottie had put a lot of money in town pockets though and there was a steady new stream of tourists who wanted to see where Lottie sank the submarine. They wanted to ride the tour boat that Lottie almost had capsized.
They wanted to know all about her-who built her, where she was built-all about her and finally they wanted to go down to the beach and see the plaque that marked the spot where eighteen police and Sheriff's deputies pumped two hundred and thirty-two rounds into poor old Lottie.
The tourists kept coming and the money kept rolling in and in no time the seven of us were all heroes.
The trial didn't come to much. Lottie sightings had continued right along and besides being partial to us, none of the witnesses wanted to swear that what they saw was a mechanical contraption. For all they knew, they might have seen the real Lottie.
Beins how we were so popular and all and like was almost a civic event, the Navy decided to drop the charges. The damage to the sub was minor and god knows they didn't need the money.
In the end, our attorney, Blake Armsley, got all the charges dropped except for a hundred hours of public service for each of us. The judge, he was kind of funny. He said he didn't know if the town could survive that much community service from us.
And that's the story, just like it happened.