Out of Bounds by Geary Leason

Save Your Cans For Smedley

Ernest and Mildred Smedley ran into a deal of a lifetime where they, through an online home exchange program, were enjoying two weeks of pure upscale living in a million dollar residence in Joliet, Illinois, in exchange for the other party living in their modest home here in the Bay. The Smedleys’ total out of the pocket cost was only $59 for the exchange program membership fee. Smedley calculated that their two weeks in this exchange house would have cost upwards of at $3,000 without this deal. Good deals like this lit up Smedley, the ultimate cheapskate, as if he won the lottery.

The Joliet residence was sited on a large, isolated, beautifully landscaped forest-like spread, edging up to the fish-rich Illinois River, where a white planked dock had a hoisted Tracker fishing boat just waiting for Ernest to use in his passion for fishing. Oh Delight!

And privacy – another untold pleasure enjoyed by Smedley, a reclusive geezer, was his also, as there wasn’t a neighboring house in sight. Oh Joy! “This is almost too good to be true!” sang Smedley.

But then on day three of the Smedleys’ sally into the good life, it all came crashing down. It was late afternoon as Smedley, heading up to the house from the dock with a cooler filled with large mouth basses earned by his a day trolling on the Illinois River, saw a plume of gravel dust arising from the driveway, made ever so more ominous by the flashing red and blue lights of the vehicles which were racing toward him. A phalanx of uniformed men came pouring out of their vehicles, rushing toward Smedley, commanding him to hit the ground and to put his hands behind his head, shouting, “You are under arrest for grievous home invasion!” OH !OH!

Smedley, oblivious to the many Home Protection signs posted on this property, was operating under the assumption that the Romanovs, the home exchange party, must have notified the proper folks that the Smedleys had permission to use the residence. All true, but with one major problem: the Romanovs did not own the place! OMG! The true owners, Ralph and Mary Updyke, who were in Italy for the summer, were immediately notified of the Smedleys’ breech of their home. After hearing the Smedleys’ sad tale the Updykes mercifully agreed not to press charges, but they did require that the Smedleys pay the going rental rate for such places which, after adding the cost of the gourmet meals and the liquor the Smedleys had consumed, totalled $4,500!

After Smedley went deep into his Discover Credit card to cover the $4,500, he then called the Fairfield Bay police and asked them to check out his place in the Bay, with a sinking feeling that if he got stabbed on the Illinois end of the deal, there was no telling what awaited him on the Bay end of the deal. Chief Dudley said he would look into it and call him back.

Chief Dudley reported back to Smedley: “Late on Friday evening, neighbors noticed a large moving van with the lettering painted over, pull into Smedley’s driveway. The next morning the neighbors reported seeing several signs posted around the property announcing, “Home Remodeling Underway. For Your Safety Stay Away.” Over the next two days neighbors observed a middle aged couple carting chairs, tables, appliances, and a host of boxes large and small – into the large van. The van was so full that some neighbors thought that maybe the Smedleys were moving out! Come Monday morning, the van was gone, the signs were down, and your house looked empty.”

The Smedleys returned on Tuesday and were escorted by Chief Dudley into their residence. The Smedleys should have been chaperoned in by the EMT’s as they were overcome with shock upon seeing that the interior of their house had been reduced to a shell! Not only was all the furniture gone, but all the plumbing fixtures – the commodes, sinks, shower stall, copper tubing – had been ripped out! The carpet, marble tiles, hardwood flooring, cabinets, wall hangings, and even the wallpaper, everything – ALL GONE! Oh Unmitigated Disaster!

Smedley was not quite done with his suffering as his lifetime money-grubbing nature added one final blow: Smedley was always too cheap to pay for insurance coverage on his dwelling, so everything – including all his wife’s valuable possessions that had been hauled away in the Romanovs’ van – was history, no insurance coverage! NADA!

Epilogue: Mildred drove off in the ‘97 Grand Marquis to her daughter’s home in Keokuk, Iowa, not even leaving a note. Smedley can be seen riding about town on an old Schwinn bicycle (that the Romanovs had apparently decided was not worth taking), stopping here and there, collecting aluminum cans. Smedley would appreciate it if you would save your cans for him.

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