We tried to enjoy our week as best we could, biding our time until Friday (Read: Payday). Finally Jessie was finished with his workweek and ready to join us at the condo.
His plan was to have the locksmith out as soon as he was done, and to drive directly down to Naples in our newly liberated van once the locksmith had cut the key. He called me when the locksmith was on his way over, assuring me he'd call again once he was on the road. A half hour went by. No call. I waited a few more minutes, but could bear the suspense no longer. I called Jessie. "Are you on your way yet?" Silence - and then, "Babe, you know how we could pull the key out of our ignition even when the van was running?" "Um, yeah?" "The locksmith cut the key, and it fits in the ignition, but it won't turn over since the ignition has a flaw." I imagined having to replace the entire steering column next, all because we lost our stinkin' key. But Jessie was talking again. The locksmith had just informed him that he happened to have an ignition for our model of van in his truck. He was sure he'd be able to get the old ignition out with his equipment. For $90 plus his service charge, we could have the new ignition installed and a key that actually worked in it.
A half hour later Jessie called me. I had no expectations by this time. But, he informed me with jubilation that he was actually driving in our van, and on the way down to join us! We were so relieved! Finally we had transportation again. We felt rueful about the expenses we had already accrued in this fiasco, and had yet to pay out before the truck would be usable again, but at least things were finally looking up!
We were able to have a lovely time with family despite the fact that we'd had so much wind taken out of our sails the previous week. We headed home Sunday night after bidding farewell to our visiting family. It had been a great time.
By late Monday morning things had gotten back to normal for the most part. I started unpacking the bags from our stay at the condo after breakfast. I carried an armful of clothes into the girls' room to be put away, and almost stepped on a set of keys lying on the floor just inside their doorway. Sudden realization coursed through me, and my voice was shrill almost to a screaming point when I called Jessie to come and look. He arrived quickly, and his gaze followed my pointing finger to rest on the set of keys lying ingloriously in the doorway. He stared at them stupidly for a moment, and then, in a flash of sheer brilliance, he turned to Eliza (who was just barely two at the time). "Eliza", he said sweetly, "Can you please put the keys back where you found them?" Eliza, delighted to oblige, scooped up the keys without hesitation and pitter-pattered down the hallway. She reached the coat closet and confidently pulled open the door, sat her little bum on the floor, selected a pink cowboy boot from the assorted shoes cluttering the floor of the closet, and dropped the ring of keys inside.
A few addendums:
Now, I assure you, in our previous search Jessie had thoroughly searched this closet, shaking each shoe and looking inside. However, we found that when a set of keys is lodged deep inside the toe of a size 8 pink cowboy boot, they do not rattle, and are not visible from the top. And since this all happened in July, the boots had not been worn at all for several months at least.
Thus ends the saga of the keys. Well, not quite ended. The truck parts did take 6 weeks to arrive, and when they did, they were the wrong color. But we had them painted and Jessie spent the entire next Saturday successfully repairing the truck.