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OUT OF BOUNDS By Geary (Smedley) Leason

Smedley “Breaks” Out of Jail!

Lester Smedley, one of the Bay’s oddest geezers, was facing charges of bank robbery, DWI, and driving with an open alcoholic container, all charges arising from some bad choices made some weeks ago on the day Lester, with his wife tucked away in Iowa visiting their daughter, decided to explore some interesting places in NW Arkansas. Lester’s first misstep was when he decided to buy a case of beer to enjoy while he cruised the Arkansas back roads; and the second, was when he picked up a hitchhiker as he was heading out of his first stop in Mountain View, driving toward Alpena.

Previous accounts of Lester’s misfortunes were recorded here, the past two weeks, telling of the fabulous coincidence that Lester’s hitchhiker was his doppelganger, defined as the one person in the entire world who looks exactly like you. Jack, the hitchhiking doppelganger, playing Lester like a yoyo, robbed the Alpena State Bank and then made his getaway with Lester behind the wheel. Shortly after, Jack, with the loot from the bank now stuffed into a paper bag, jumped into a waiting car driven by an accomplice, leaving a stunned Lester parked by the roadside, but soon to be in the clutches of the Alpena police .

Lester was identified by the bank teller as the one who threatened her and demanded that she put the money into the bag, which was later found in Lester’s vehicle, but empty. The clear-cut identification, Lester’s vehicle seen driving away from the heist, and the empty bag found in Lester’s vehicle left no doubt that Lester was going to spend a few years behind bars. Lester hired local criminal defense attorney Vinny Clagg, who, like everybody else, just didn’t buy Lester’s story, but took the case as Lester had the money to make it worth his while and especially so if Clagg could string out the case, collecting $1000 for every court appearance on top of the retainer fee of $25,000 he had already collected.

Attorney Clagg persuaded Lester to plead guilty on the two booze charges and worked a deal with the judge to put Lester under house arrest for two years, the house being the one run by his over-bearing wife, Fraulein Uberfuhrer Willie Sue. Lester was not too happy about this and thought that serving hard time in a county jail would have been easier.

In the meantime, Clagg was able to put off the trial by putting forth one motion after another – all working to string the bank robbery case out. The first motion was to cause the prosecution to furnish all the evidence they had gathered to indict Lester. In response, the prosecution said it would take two months for this, so the Judge Melvin Hooper set the next hearing two months later. After two months the prosecution indicated that they misplaced the bank bag, so they would need more time to track it down, another delay. On another occasion, Clagg could not make the hearing date as he was going to Alcapulco that week to celebrate a win he had in another case. Finally, when Clagg and the court could find no more “reasons” to delay Lester’s trial after eleven months of folderol, Lester’s case and fate was nearing its painful conclusion: Lester had no chance, as no one believed his story of ‘Jack and the Doppelganger.’

Behold There Cometh A Miracle!

A huge portion of serendipity, an unbelievable ‘break,” for Lester derived from his membership in the Arkansas Geezer Brotherhood, a band of geezers who look out for each other especially in times of peril. One tenet these geezers follow is to read daily the obituary section of the Arkansas Democrat newspaper, looking to spot member geezers who have gone on to glory, and then send a sympathy card to those left behind. And there it was! Lester saw his picture in the August 12 edition. It was a picture of him! But not really – it was a picture of a guy named Jack Stretcher. That was him! The hitchhiker! The bank robber! JACK STRETCHER WAS LESTER’S DOPPELGANGER!!

But now to prove it and get himself off the hook, Lester googled the local Flippin, AR newspaper and came across a story telling of a meth lab explosion nearby and the deaths of two men, Otis Herman and Jack Stretcher! Lester called the Flippin police and asked them to search the meth lab ruins for anything linking these two men to the Alpena State Bank robbery. And sure enough, the Flippin cops found several money wrappers blown all over the place bearing the name “Alpena State Bank.”

Judge Melvin Hooper, after studying the pictures of Lester matched with pictures of Jack Stretcher, and with the advice of the prosecutor’s office, dismissed the bank robbery charges against Lester. Lester was now a free man but for the house arrest for his booze charges. Attorney Clagg was torn with his mixed feelings of losing his juicy fees representing Lester and Lester’s freedom.

Lester is current negotiating a deal with the British film company interested in making another “Doppelganger” movie. He thinks he might even play himself and his doppelganger in the movie.

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