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OUT OF BOUNDS By Geary (Smedley) Leason

Smedley Needs to Make a few Calls

Lester Smedley, when last seen, was motoring west on Arkansas 62, approaching the quaint village of Alpena. Lester had a passenger with him, a hitchhiker he picked up outside of Mountain View. This hitchhiker, “Jack”, bore an uncanny resemblance to Lester and with the free use of alcohol between the two, there was a strange air of uneasiness, a foreboding, especially after Jack told Lester to pull up in front of the Alpena State Bank while he, Jack, ran into make a quick “transaction.” “Keep the motor running, I’ll be right out!” Jack instructed Lester.

Within seconds, Jack came flying out of the bank entrance carrying a bulging cloth bag. He hopped quickly into Lester’s pickup truck, shouting, “Move it! Give it the gas!”

Lester – befogged from the fifteen cans of Old Stump guzzled on the drive over from Mountain View, – gunned it, full throttle, down the highway leaving the city limits of Alpena in the dust. Racing westward for another ten minutes and then, nearing the intersection with AR103, Jack suddenly ordered, “Stop! Pull over!” At which point Jack jumped out carrying a large paper bag. He hurried towards a black Grand Am parked by the roadside, then diving into its open passenger door, the car speed off back east toward Alpena.

A bewildered Lester just sat there – but within minutes, he had company in the form of several flashing blue lights, hearing blaring instructions to “Show your hands! Put them on the driver’s wheel!” After being handcuffed and shoved into the back seat of an Alpena police cruiser, Lester soon found himself standing in front of the Alpena State Bank Building receiving the glares and shouts of a red-faced elderly lady swearing, “Yes! That’s the man! He waved what I thought was a gun in his pocket, demanding that I empty the till into one of our bank bags and then toss it to him. That’s him all right! I’ll never forget that face!”

“You are under arrest, Mister, for armed bank robbery, driving while intoxicated, and driving with open alcohol containers in your vehicle,” The police officer pulled the babbling, drooling Lester toward the Alpena Courthouse, which was conveniently adjacent to the bank building. (This is not too unusual in Arkansas small towns). Ushered into a grimy cell in the rear of the building, Lester slowly realized that he was in the middle of something not too good.

Alpena Police Chief, Marvin Scroggins,, peering through the jail cell bars, patiently listened to Lester’s story shaking his head, declaring that the had never heard such a load of horse pucky in all his years as a cop and that Lester should come clean and tell them where he tossed the money that was missing from the empty bank bag found in his pickup.”Your story about ‘Jack and the Doppelganger’ is one that I’ve never heard before’, said Chief Scroggins, “but while I’ll give you an “A+” for imagination, I’m giving you an “F” in truth telling, Here’s a phone for you to make two calls and two calls only. Good luck, pal.”

Lester wasted his first call. After he related his story and predicament to wife Willie Sue, who was up in Iowa visiting their daughter. Her response was, “You booze, you lose! I think I’ll stay up here for another week or so, before I decided what to do.”

Lester’s remaining call was to criminal defense attorney, Vinny Clagg, a guy that Lester had several dealings with in the past. After hearing Lester’s preposterous story, attorney Clagg – with dollar signs glowing in his eyes, advised Lester, “You’ll need about $25,000 up front for my retainer, Smedley, and another $25,000 to cover your bond, which was set at $250,000. Do you still have the stash you buried in that can in Smedley Gardens? OK, good, I’ll get it. I’ll see you sometime next week. That’s the best I can do as I am very busy these days.”

Several days later, Lester, in tow with Clagg, headed over to the Alpena Impound Lot where they extricated Lester’s pickup after paying a stiff charge of $500. Earlier in the day, Lester and Clagg had appeared before Circuit Judge Melvin Hooper, who accepted the bond and set Lester’s next court appearance six weeks ahead. Lester hopped into his pickup, telling Clagg, “I’m going to stop by the Chain Saw guy’s place and buy that bear I’ve been wanting. I’ll see you later, Clagg.” “OK, Smedley, but you’ve got to work on a new story. The Jack and the Doppelganger tale just isn’t going to work!” NEXT WEEK: Fate Intervenes.

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