Disclaimer: This is a story for fun not for profit
Summary: Sam must catch a soul who is not what he seems to be. He also receives support from an unexpected source
The Devil teleported Sam to a plush law office. "Sam, I want this soul caught as soon as possible. He escaped over ten years ago and he's trying my patience." Sam shook off the effects of the teleportation, and listened with annoyance.
"The soul is named Arnie Becker—L.A. lawyer and world class womanizer. He embezzled one hundred thousand dollars from his law firm and the other partners forced him to quit. He was killed when one of the clients ran over him with their BMW." He pulled out the vessel, which was a briefcase. "How am I supposed to use this," Sam wondered, "Stuff the soul into it?"
"I don't care what you do, Sam, just do it soon" The Devil was getting angry. "I'm going on vacation to Aruba for a week. If the soul isn't caught by the time I return you will be very, very sorry." Sam believed his threat, as he had witnessed the Devil kill a cop right in front of him. That incident had given Sam nightmares for week
Sam found himself back at the Work Bench. He was relieved that the vessel could be seen in public without attracting any attention. "Sam I've been looking all over for you!" Ben said, running up. "We're going to Lola's house for dinner at six." Sam grinned. Ben and Nina had broken up six months ago. Ben had been miserable until he met Lola at a support group for single people. Lola Jones was old enough to be the boys' mother, but that didn't matter. Ben was never been happier than when they were together. Sock liked her because she watched One Life to Live and always picked up the tab whenever they went out. Sam liked her because she reminded him of his mom. Sam's relationship with his mom had been strained since his father's death. Linda Oliver never seemed to be home when he called or stopped by his childhood home. Sam missed the closeness they shared and Lola helped fill the void.
They decided to take Sam's car to Lola's house. Sam turned on the radio and a mysterious song started to play. "Have either of you heard this song before?" Sam asked. "No, try another station," Sock replied. Sam tried every station he could think of but the tune had taken over the radio. "This is just great!" Sam complained. "I have a soul who has disappeared and a song that will drive me crazy"
"Could we forget about reaping tonight please?" Ben begged. "Lola doesn't know about your second career and I want to keep it that way." "Of course," Sam replied, "I want to keep her out of trouble as much as you do." He thought for a minute. "I want to stop at my mom's house for a sec, ok?"
"Why do you want to do that? You know she won't be home," Sock asked. "Just enjoy your freedom like I do." Sam remembered how miserable Sock had been when his mom threw him of the house after she remarried. But he kept his mouth shut. They arrived at Sam's childhood home to find it empty. "I knew it!" Sock stated. "Can we go to Lola's?! I'm starved."
"You are always hungry, Sock. Let Sam take all the time he wants!" Ben said. He was grateful to Sam for his support after the break up with Nina. Sam had taken care of King Charlie and had bought him many beers without asking for anything in return.
"I called Lola to let her we are on the way," Sam stated. They arrived at Lola's about ten minutes later. "Hi boys, I hope you are hungry!" Lola greeted them. Lola was middle-aged and one of the most feminine people they had ever met. She loved wearing bright colors and using lots of makeup and perfume. She reminded Sam of Mimi from the Drew Carey Show without the sarcasm. Sam had thought of introducing her to Gladys from the DMV. He hoped some of Lola's warmth would rub off on her. He kept that idea to himself so that Ben wouldn't get upset.
They had lasagna and salad for dinner, When they finished, Sock got up from the table to watch television. "Come on, let's see if the Mariners are on," he said to Ben. "The least we can do help clean," Ben protested. "No, I'll help Lola," Sam offered.
"You don't have to do anything, honey, the dishes can wait." Lola replied. They brought the dishes into the kitchen. "I'll wash, you dry," Sam offered. "I wanted to speak to you in private anyway," he added in a whisper.
"Still no word from Mom?" Lola asked. "No, I go by the house every day and she's never there. I think she hates me, Lola." Sam felt like he wanted to cry. "Sweetheart, that's not true!" Lola hugged him tightly. "Grief turns you into a different person. When my Leland died I became a hermit until some close friends told me to get on with my life. She'll find her way back to you. I know she will." Sam remained in her embrace for a few minutes. "Lola, you are the best. I love you. When we are finished with the dishes we'll watch whatever you want, no matter what Sock says."
They finished cleaning up and went into the living room. Sam took the remote away from Sock and handed it to Lola. "What are you doing, Sam? We were trying to watch the ball game!" Sock was becoming upset. "Sorry, this is Lola's house and she gets to pick what we watch." Sam's voice was firm. "Don't worry, if there's nothing on the Travel Channel, I'll put the game back on." Lola tried to smooth things over. She changed the station, and a special on Hawaii was on television. "Oh, we have to see this! Hawaii was the last vacation Leland and I ever took together." "What is Hawaii like?" Ben asked. "It's heaven on earth," Lola replied. "The water is warm all the time and the beaches are white and the sand is so soft--it's my favorite place in the entire world."
The trio decided to leave after the Hawaii special ended. Lola gave them enough leftovers to feed them for a week--or a couple of days depending on Sock's appetite. Lola embraced Sam and whispered in his ear to call her if he needed to talk. Sock pouted all the way home. "Sam I can't believe you did that. I thought you were supposed to be my friend." "I am your friend but I can't stand to see you take advantage of Lola," Sam replied. Ben remained quiet but he agreed with Sam. Nina had complained about Sock being too bossy, and she was always telling Ben to develop more of a backbone. At the time, Ben had thought that it was mostly because Nina and Sock were too similar for their own good. He was starting to see that maybe she had a point.
Sam decided to do an internet search for Arnie Becker but the only results that came up were links to high profile divorce cases he had negotiated, and his obituary. There was no record of his embezzlement, but Sam figured the law firm had wanted to avoid publicity. He also tried to identify that mysterious song they'd heard on the radio, but without any lyrics the task was impossible.
Sam went to bed early since he had to work the first shift the next day. Ted had started splitting up their shifts and Sam had become more productive as a result. He had been named Employee of the Month last month, and Sock had accused him of sucking up to Ted. Sam didn't tell anyone, but he found the routine of working at the Bench to be a relief, especially after the Devil had messed with him during a reap. It was soothing.
Sam was working in the Lawn and Garden department when he heard a familiar voice coming toward him. "The service in this store stinks," Gladys said bluntly. "Hi, Gladys, what do you need?" Sam asked with a smile.
"I just need a few things," she said, as she pulled a long list from her purse. Sam was going to find the items she requested, when he noticed the clock on the wall. "Gladys, it's two o'clock! I thought the DMV closed at five?"
"It's none of your business but I took a personal day." "The Devil gives you personal days?" Sam wondered. "I didn't say that, Sam, I said I took one." Gladys was growing annoyed.
"You played hooky from work today didn't you?" Sam grinned at her. "Hey, I do it all the time when I need to go on a reap. Your secret is safe with me. But why today?"
"You wouldn't understand."
"Try me," Sam prompted. "They are making me use a computer," Gladys complained. "I'm old, Sam. I don't understand computers and I don't want to understand them."
"I've used computers for as long as I can remember; I'm sure I can show you the basics," Sam reassured her. Privately, Gladys thought Sam was too dumb to teach her anything but she was desperate. "Be at the DMV at nine o'clock tomorrow," she said sharply. "Did you get everything on my list?"
"I have most of it but a few items are back-ordered. Just fill out this form and I'll let you know when they come in." Sam checked out Gladys, and she left the store.
The next day, Sam arrived at the DMV shortly after nine o'clock and he found Gladys waiting impatiently for him. "Sam, I'm not going to use this stupid thing ever!" She placed the "Next window please" sign in her window and motioned for Sam to come to her work station. "What's the problem, Gladys?" Sam asked. "I've been reading the instruction manual that came with this thing and it keeps talking about a mouse. I hate mice! Am I going to have to bring Fancy to work with me every day?" Sam successfully fought the urge to laugh. "No, the mouse is this piece of equipment right here." He plugged the mouse into her keyboard. "It helps you move around the computer screen," he explained.
"So, why is the book talking about icons?" Gladys asked "I know what an icon is -- a religious statue. I don't see anything like that here." "Computer icons are those little pictures on the screen that tell you what programs you have to use. When you click on an icon the program opens right up. Let me show you." Sam went behind her chair and guided her hand in order to open up Microsoft Word. "Are you getting fresh with me, Sam?"
"Not at all, I have a girlfriend, remember?" Sam teased her. "What on earth is a cursor? The person sitting in front of the computer screen?" Gladys wondered. "No, it's this arrow right here--the cursor helps you move around whatever screen you are using. Wait, I can make it easier for you to see." With a few clicks of the mouse Sam was able to enlarge the cursor and the icons on the screen. "Where is your anti-virus software? That is important to keep you from losing the information on the hard drive." Sam grinned wryly. "I think the Devil invented computer viruses. My dad lost a huge presentation once, I never heard him swear so much. Did any backup disks come with this computer?" Sam asked. "How would I know? What do they look like? You mean these things that look like little records?" Gladys demanded.
"These are your backup disks, and yes they are important. Great, you have Norton antivirus software." Sam inserted the disk into the hard drive and waited for the files to finish up loading. "There, I installed antivirus software onto your computer. You'll need to run an antivirus scan at least once a week. You don't want our boss angry with you because you lost some important data." "No, I don't want that at all," Gladys agreed. She was very thankful for Sam's help although she was never going to let him know that.
Sam looked up at the clock and saw that it was after twelve. "I'm going to Wendy's, do you want anything?" "I'll get my purse," Gladys stated firmly.
Great, she's buying me lunch to thank me for helping her with the computer, Sam thought. He had a gift card as a result of being named employee of the month but he could use that at another time. Sam drove them to Wendy's, where they noticed that there was a long line at the drive-through window. "Let's eat inside," Sam suggested. "You can get free drink refills that way." Gladys agreed and they went into the restaurant. When they ordered their lunch, Sam noticed that Gladys had left her purse in his car. "Gladys, it's your treat next time," Sam stated. There won't be a next time, Gladys thought, but she remained quiet.
They sat down and Gladys observed Sam's lunch. "Did you order a side salad instead of fries? Sam you're nuts." Sam laughed. "You sound just like Sock," he teased her. Gladys frowned. "I hope not," she said, annoyed at being compared to that moron. "For your information, I skipped the fries so I could get a Frosty for dessert." Sam replied. "What's a Frosty?" she asked. "It's vanilla or chocolate ice cream with your choice of mix-ins. I got vanilla with Oreos mixed in. I love cookies and cream ice cream."
"Sam, you can't eat ice cream in front of a demon! That's a form of torture!" Gladys was becoming agitated.
"Why? I know the Devil can't eat it because God cursed him but does that apply to all demons?"
"None of us want to eat ice cream for fear of getting him angry," Gladys stated.
Sam looked at her. "He's on vacation. He'll never know what happened. Come on, it will be my treat," he offered. Gladys narrowed her eyes. "If it tastes terrible, I'm blaming you."
"What kind do you want?" he asked. "I'll have chocolate, and did I see M&M's up there?" she asked, getting into the spirit of things. Sam ordered the Frosty and brought it back to the table. He watched as Gladys took the first bite. "This is delicious. I can't thank you enough."
Sam grinned. "Don't eat it too fast or else you'll get a headache," he teased. "I'm going to savor every bite of this," she promised. After they'd finished their Frosties, they headed back to the DMV. In the car, Sam decided to ask Gladys for a favor. He turned on the radio, waited for the sound to come on, and asked: "Do you know the name of this song?" "I love this song; it's Lola by the Kinks," she replied.
"I've never heard before, but suddenly I hear it all the time," Sam said. "Well, Lola was popular long before you were born." Gladys replied. "I haven't been able to figure out what the song's about," Sam said. "It's about a boy who falls in love with a transvestite. Girls will be boys, boys will be girls it's a mixed up world a shook up world, except for my Lola," Gladys sang.
Suddenly it hit Sam why the song had been playing non-stop on his radio, and he felt as though he had been punched in the stomach. "Gladys, I think I know why I can't find Arnie Becker. I think he's living as a woman, and I think I know her." Sam felt like crying but he maintained his composure. "What are you talking about, Sam? " Sam explained that Nina and Ben had broken up how Ben had been miserable until Lola had befriended them. Sam didn't tell her that Lola had become a surrogate mother to him and that his mom had disappeared.
"Maybe it's just trying to tell you that the soul is a transvestite, and it's nothing to do with the Lola you know." Gladys was trying to be helpful, but knowing the ways of the Devil, she suspected that Sam's first instincts were probably right. "Do everything you can to find the soul before you accuse her of anything." They arrived back at the DMV. "Thanks for your help, Gladys" Sam tried to look happy for her benefit. "Take care, Sam, I'm sure I'll see you soon."
Sam arrived home feeling awful; he wanted to forget he had ever met Lola. His mind grasped at a straw: maybe if I do a search for Leland Jones it will prove that Lola is real. Sam logged onto his laptop and tried to find Leland Jones but no record of him existed. Something was definitely wrong, and Sam knew in his heart what it was. "What am I going to tell Ben? He'll be humiliated," Sam thought to himself. He could feel his mind start to race, and decided to take a nap, since he always functioned better after he had rested. He fell quickly into a troubled sleep, but woke up when Ben knocked on his door. "Sock and I are going to Lola's for dinner, want to come?" "No thanks, Ben, I had a big lunch and I'm not hungry" Sam replied. "But hey, Ben--tell Lola I'll take her out for breakfast tomorrow."
Sam was thankful that he had to work the second shift while Sock and Ben had to be at the Bench first thing in the morning. Sam took care of King Charlie and did some other chores while Ben was gone. He thought it was the least he could do for him.
Sam arrived at Lola's house around eight o'clock the next morning. "Hi honey, we missed you last night!" Lola greeted him. "Lola, before we go I need to ask you a very important question." Sam took a deep breath. "Does the name Arnie Becker mean anything to you?"
Lola looked up, startled, met Sam's gaze, and started to cry. Sam knew he had found the soul he had been searching for. "Sam, I have to tell you a secret. I'm Arnie Becker," Lola said through her tears. Sam took another breath. "Well, I have a secret too, Lola," Sam replied "My parents sold my soul to the Devil before I was born. I have to send escaped souls back to Hell or else the Devil will hurt me.
Lola looked at him. "No, Sam I don't want that to happen to you. I feel so connected to you—I love you so much." "Why did you become Lola?" Sam asked, trying to have as much time with her as he could before the reap.
Lola looked into the distance. "I hated women when I lived as Arnie. I used them in my personal and professional lives. I was so unhappy and I never knew why. I met with a therapist and I learned that I was envious of how comfortable women were in their bodies and I never was in mine. I started cross-dressing: first in the privacy of my own home then out in public. I loved it I felt that I was finally at peace with myself. However I did something very stupid in order to live as I wanted."
"You stole money from your firm," Sam whispered. "I did and it was the worst decision of my life. The other partners didn't take me seriously when I told them I was going to have a sex change operation so I stole enough money to pay for the surgery. I was killed before I could become a woman." Lola looked back at Sam. "You aren't going to tell Ben about this? I don't want to hurt him. I told Ben from the start that all I was interested in was companionship and I am so happy he introduced me to you. Ben is one of my best friends; he's like a brother to me."
"I'll never reveal your secret," Sam promised her. "But what do you want me to tell him? He'll be miserable when you aren't here anymore."
"Tell him I decided to vacation in Hawaii. That I booked my flight after they left and I asked you to drive me to the airport. I'll write to him whenever I can."
"If you are going to Hawaii you have to pack. I'll be right back." Sam went to his car and retrieved the vessel from the trunk. He waited until Lola came downstairs with her suitcase. "I'm ready to go--would you give me a kiss goodbye, Sam?" "Of course I will." Sam embraced her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "This won't hurt," he promised as he opened the vessel. He watched as Lola disappeared into the briefcase.
Sam drove to the DMV with tears streaming down his face. He went to Gladyss window but he couldn't make eye contact with her. "So, is this Arnie Becker?" she asked. "No, this is Lola," Sam replied. "Please take care of her for me." He turned away, and left the DMV before Gladys could say anything. Sam stopped for coffee before driving to work. He was able to calm down before giving Ben the sad news. Ben fainted when Sam told him that Lola was gone. Ted sent him home and Sam volunteered to work the rest of Ben's shift as well as his own. Ted put Sam on cart duty since he could sense Sam didn't want to face customers.
Back at the DMV, Gladys began to process the vessel. "I'm afraid there has been a mistake; this vessel was assigned to Arnie Becker, and Sam said your name was Lola," she said. "I was Arnie Becker, I'm Lola now," Lola reassured her. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at Gladys. "You aren't Sam's mom are you? I want to give her a piece of my mind." "Why would you do that?" Gladys asked. Lola told her how Sam had been waiting to hear from her for months and how kind Sam had been to her. Gladys felt guilty. Sam had been so good to her for the past two days and she had done nothing for him in return. Then she noticed something, and asked the reaped Soul: "Why are you carrying a suitcase? You aren't allowed to have extra clothes down there." Lola explained that Sam was going to tell Ben that she was going on vacation to Hawaii in order to cover for her absense
A week later Sam and Ben received some mail. "Sam, look at this!" Ben showed him a postcard. "It's from Lola and she's learning to dance the Hula. She also explored Diamond Head. She said she wishes we were with her!" "That's great, Ben," Sam smiled. He opened his envelope and found two Wendy's gift cards with a note. The note read "Let's have lunch." "Thank you, Gladys," Sam whispered.