"That lake monster is hungry," said Pete, staring out across the lake. "Been too long without tourists."
"The lake monster goes through this every winter. It knows how to save its strength until spring when the tourists return," said Colin.
Pete shook his head. "Not this year. Not enough tourists back when the leaves turned. Remember the year before last? Condominium. This year? Nuffin, barely a car accident, hard to cover up a disappearance."
"But what can we do? The leaves are finished this year. Nobody comes up in these parts during the winter."
"We'll have to lure them," said Pete, scratching his stubble. His eyes tracked the trail of bubbles bursting on the surface of the placid lake. He knew beneath the lake monster was exhaling very slowly. It would barely take two breaths a day. "Maybe ski vacations."
"Mountains are too sharp, too severe. My pappy tried to setup a resort and that winter we ended up burning the skis in the fire for warmth," said Colin.
"We need some antiquing," Pete said.
"Can't happen. My grand pappy tried that. My pappy said that they ended up pulling apart the furniture and burning it in the fire for warmth."
"What do we have to offer then, dagnabbit?" Pete asked.
"A lake monster," Colin said.
Pete got to work immediately. He set up a website, printed up pamphlets to be distributed to the rest stops along the interstate, and spoke with the hotel owners. All of the townsfolk had a soft spot for the lake monster, so they agreed to offer special rates for sightseers coming to try to catch a glimpse of the lake monster. Restaurant owners did likewise. Soon, the first busful of lake monster tourists rumbled up the road into town.
"Perfect," Pete said from his new boat. He checked his watch. Almost time. The first tourists boarded for the first tour. They lined the railings, their cameras hanging from their necks like bait as they leaned over to stare into the black water, hoping for a glimpse of the famous lake monster.
"I don't see anything!" announced a man whom Pete had already pegged as lunch. He wore his shorts like combat fatigues: he had hit the ground and would not rest until the mission to have fun had been completed. "Now I paid good money for this tour and I demand to see something interesting!"
"I can't control the monster," said Pete. "He's down there, though. Maybe he's sleeping."
"Sleeping! I could've been sleeping but instead I decided to have fun! And I want to have fun! Don't you have some, I don't know, torpedos to shoot at it? Depth charges?"
"Sir, this is a lake in the continental United States, not the Battle of the Atlantic," Pete said. After the man turned back to direct his grumbling towards a fellow tourist, Pete looked up to the cockpit of the boat, where Colin piloted the ship. Pete nodded, and Colin winked back.
The boat turned out towards the center of the lake.
"Sir, you're right, we owe you a sighting today. Although this is a civilian ship without, er, torpedos, we are going to position the engine over what we believe is the lake monster's den. Sometimes the noise disturbs his slumber," said Pete to the tourist.
"Damn right. Why didn't you do this before?" He leaned over very far.
Pete shoved him into the water. The other tourists gasped.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said Pete over the cries of the overboard tourist, "although this seems cruel, remember: you wanted to see the lake monster. And the lake monster needs to eat. We will kill two birds with one tourist. Look!"
The tourists turned. Sure enough, the lake monster emerged from the inky depths of the lake. All claws and fins and teeth, it was a terrible and awesome sight to behold. With serrated appendages it tore the tourist into easily digestible pieces and consumed each with a different mouth before emitting its cry, which the tourists would go on to recount as the sound of a bucket of shattered blackboard being thrown into a woodchipper whose teeth were fingernails.
The tourists applauded.
"So you see," said Pete, "the best thing that you can do for this exquisite creature is to go home and tell your friends. Even your annoying friends. Especially your annoying friends."
And so they did. The lake monster did not go hungry all that winter, nor the next.
"This is a great idea," said Colin one day.
"Sure was," said Pete, looking over the lake monster tour registration list.
"What do you mean, was?" asked Colin.
"We have no tourists coming for the next three months."
"What about after those three months?"
"The registration doesn't go that far. And we don't have money to keep the boat repaired."
That winter, Pete and Colin tore the boat apart and burnt it to keep warm.
Until the lake monster crawled up on land and ate them.
The Moral: quit while the lake monster is full of somebody who isn't you