Slow Southern Style – Chapter 1

"Will Horton Alive! Killer claims last victim not dead! Wedding postponed for husband of victim!"

All of Salem wakes up to the sensational headlines the morning after the huge double society wedding. The news spreads like wildfire that Ben Weston has claimed that even though it was thought that Will Horton was dead the past two years, and a funeral was held, that it was simply not true.

Ben won't tell anyone how he knows though, and everyone believes he is just trying to hurt the family once more, he took away their loved one Will once before, and that he just wants to hurt them all over again.

Sami comes back to Salem breathing fire when she hears Ben's unbelievably cruel claims. She and Lucas show up at the police station to see their son's murderer. The police foolishly allow Sami to be in the same room as Ben, and before they realize what is happening, Sami is across the interrogation table, trying to strangle Ben, and when they try to pull her off, she goes for his eyes, screaming at him to tell them the truth.

Ben is cowering on the other side of the room, saying, "That woman's crazy"; a good comment coming from a psychopath. Sami lunges at him again, screaming, "tell me the truth, you bastard, you killed my baby."

Ben looks at her in a hurt fashion, and says "You don't have to be rude, do you?"

"Ah", screams Sami, "Let me at him, you won't have to worry about sending him back to Bayview, there won't be anything left."

Hope tells Ben, I don't know how much longer we can hold her back, you better tell us what you know.

Ben looks scared of the crazy woman, ironic! "I saw him", Ben says.

Rafe says, "You saw him at the hospital. He came to see you?"

Ben, "No, silly man. I saw him on the computer. There was a picture of him at his job. They let us use the computer so that we can keep our computer skills current."

Hope says, "You saw him in some article? Where did it come from? What was it about, why was Will mentioned?"

Ben, "It was in Memphis, he was shown on the advertisement for where he works. It's a club, he's their star performer."

Rafe, "What kind of a club? Will isn't a performer."

Ben, "It didn't say, it just said that it was the hottest and most popular club in Memphis, it showed Will on the poster outside, the star of the show. There was even a star around his face! It's a private club, you can only get in if you are a member or a guest of a member. But it wouldn't say anymore, it said that you had to experience it for yourself.

I tried to find a list of members so that I could go meet one and get them to take me with them so that I could see him and apologize for hurting him. I would have left the hospital so that I could do this. I felt bad when I thought he was dead, but now it's not so bad cause I know he's alright, that I didn't kill him like I thought.

That's why I had to stop the wedding, once I go there, and get Will to come back here, he's going to want his husband back.

Sorry, Paul, but Will gets Sonny, not you. Anyway, Sonny is only with you because he thought Will was gone, he loves Will more than you."

Rafe, "Ben, what's the name of the club?"

Ben, "Black Velvet, the pictures looked really fancy, I can't wait to see it."

Paul is freaking out at what Ben said and that Sonny didn't deny it. Why is everything being ruined, damn it. Why did Will have to pop up alive?

Hope, "How can Will be alive? They had a funeral and his parents saw him in the morgue. It must be a lookalike, why did Ben have to see the picture, and cause all of this trouble?"

Rafe doesn't believe it's Will, actually no one does, and they say so to Ben.

Ben looks at them and says, "See for yourself."

He asks Hope if he can show them the article. She agrees just so that they can get all of this cleared up, and for them to know that it's not Will, just a figment of Ben's disturbed mind. She hands him a tablet, and he types in the information to bring up the article from the Memphis newspaper's website. Soon as he is finished typing, the article pops up on the screen, along with the picture.

Sure enough, the guy in the photo is a dead-ringer for Will, pardon the pun, and they are shocked but sure it must be a coincidence. Ben's mind grabbed onto the photo making him think it was Will, so he wouldn't feel so guilty about having murdered one of his best friends, that's all, it has to be.

Rafe looks up the information for the club, and they try to contact someone there to get the performer's name, but the club refuses to give out any information on their entertainers for safety reasons. The only information that they can get from the club's management is that he is not from Memphis originally, he is from somewhere in the Midwest, you can tell from his accent. They joke that they don't hold that against him and they forgive him for that because he is so sweet and cute.

Sami and everyone at the police station still aren't convinced that it could be Wil, but they are not completely sure now that it's not Will either. Could it be Will, no that's insane, it can't be possible, he was buried, wasn't he?

They don't want to do it, but the only way to be sure is to test the DNA of the body in the casket? Can they really disturb Will's final resting place on such flimsy evidence? What should do they? They to go ask Sonny what he wants, but Lucas looks at them and says that Sonny has no right to decide one way or the other.

Justin agrees, unfortunately Lucas is right, Will and Sonny were legally separated when Will was murdered, so only his next of kin can decide, in this case, Sami and Lucas. Marlena looks at Sami, and asks her, "What do you want to do, sweetheart?"

Sami, "I can't believe that it's true, but my god, if there is a chance that my baby could be alive, I need to know. I have cried for him every day since that thing there killed him."

Sami looks at Lucas, and asks him, "What do you think we should do?"

Lucas replies, "I don't want to, but we need to know for sure, imagine if Will is out there somewhere?"

Sami and Lucas ask Hope to help them get Will's casket exhumed so that they can have a DNA test performed so that they can have definite proof that Will is dead, and that it is him in the casket. That way they can be absolutely sure he is gone, and no one can try this again and cause even more pain.

Hope calls the DA's office and requests an exhumation order for the remains of Will Horton, due to the claims of his killer, so that DNA testing can be done to verify that Will is deceased, and she is told that it will take a couple of hours to get the request processed, so everyone decides to wait at the station.

Lucas and Sami are climbing out of their skin, waiting to find out if their son is dead for sure, the idea that he could be out there somewhere for the past two years is unbearable. If he is alive, why wouldn't he have contacted someone, didn't he want to come home to them?

They know that at the time he was killed, that his life had become harsh and painful, and they could understand wanting to leave it behind, but even if he wanted to get away from everything else, he would never abandon his daughter.

She was the most important thing in the world to him, he was willing to give up the love of his life so that he would have his daughter in his life. He would never just leave her, and not have any kind of contact with her.

Once they exhume the body, they will need to have DNA taken from the remains so that it can be tested against Will's sample which is on file at the hospital. Finally, they will have proof that their son is really gone, and this heartbreaking nightmare can end.

Finally, they receive the call telling them that the order has been signed, and the paperwork is faxed over to Hope's office allowing the exhumation, Hope and Rafe arrange for two of Salem PD's techs to accompany them to the cemetery to collect the samples needed for testing.

Sami and Lucas insist on going to the cemetery with them to see the casket being dug up, but Rafe tries to talk them out of this idea, however neither he or Hope can convince them to stay at the station. He knows that the reality of seeing the grave disturbed and the casket removed and opened to allow for the sample collection will be incredibly hard for them to deal with seeing.

He tells them that they can't guarantee that they won't see Will's decomposing body when the casket is opened, and this is an image they don't want to have of their son, that they should remember what he was like before he was buried.

He admits to them that he can't stand the thought of seeing the body of the young man he considered to be like a son. However, they can't be persuaded to let the PD handle this and bring the information back to them.

After hearing that Sami and Lucas are going to the cemetery, the rest of the group insist on going with them as well. Rafe and Hope look at each other, and know that this is the worst possible idea, but they can't get any of them to stay behind. They know that even if they think that they can handle this now, the reality will be quite different.

Especially, if any of them see the remains, that they will be unable to deal with the image that they will have forever in their heads of the young man that they had all cared for, even if at the end of his life, things had been bad because of his actions that last year.

Sonny says that he needs to know for sure that Will is gone. He can't deal with the thought that Will might have been out there all alone for the past two years, in god knows what kind of mental condition, and if so, why didn't he come home to them all, or to him?

They head to the cemetery, and Rafe insists on helping dig up the coffin himself, he feels he it owes it to Will. They get the casket up on the side of the grave, the tech starts to open it with a crowbar, he pops the lid, and looks in to determine the state of the remains.

He wants to see if there is any viable tissue for a DNA sample, and to get ready to collect it, so that they can rebury the remains as quickly as possible, out of respect for the deceased and let the poor man rest in peace again.

The tech is shocked by what he sees, or he should say, what he doesn't see in this case! The casket is empty, well to be precise, there is no body, there are weights inside the casket that simulated the size of an adult male body, in an effort to make it seem like there a real body in there.

He bends over to doublecheck that what he thinks he is seeing is real, that he's not hallucinating. He gasps loudly, and he calls Hope and Rafe over right away. They ask if he has gotten the needed samples so that they can put the casket back, and he says no.

There is a problem. They ask if the body was too badly decomposed to be able to retrieve a sample. He says that's not the problem. There is no body in the casket, and it doesn't look there was ever a body in the casket. He tells them that it was filled with weights to make it seem like the body was there.

However, there are no biological samples in the casket, that the interior area is pristine, and that it doesn't seem like a dead body was ever in there. There is nothing available to test. He's sorry but they can't do any tests.

Rafe and Hope stare at him in shock, and go to examine the coffin for themselves, and they see what he is talking about, there are several weight bars in the casket, about equal to what Will weighed, so that when the casket was moved, people would believe a body was in there.

They move back after they have seen for themselves that the tech was correct, they are in disbelief, Will's body is not in the coffin. Where is it? Sami calls out to them, asking them are they done yet, her son deserves to be back at peace. Can they please put his casket back now that they have the samples?

Hope and Rafe head over to let Lucas and Sami know that there is a problem, a big problem, there is no body in Will's casket. That to be truthful, there doesn't look like a body had ever been in that casket, and that there are weights in it to simulate the body.

Sami freaks out when she hears this, she screams out where is my son's body? We saw him in the morgue, he was dead, he was not breathing, and he was cold to the touch. We said goodbye to him in that room, and he was not alive. What happened to his body? How did they lose him, and why weren't we informed?

When the rest of the group hears this, they come running, they had been standing back from Sami and Lucas, trying to give them some privacy, even though Sonny wanted to be closer to them, but he knew that they did not want him around.

After the way things had ended with him and Will, with Will dying before they could fix things between them, and him now being with Paul, they had made their feelings clear about that, and he could understand their reactions.

For them, he was betraying Will's memory by moving on with Paul, and he wonders if they would have had such a problem with anyone else, were their feelings the way there seemed because of his past with Paul, and what happened when between them when he first came to town, and how everything ended.

Sami goes on and says, "What about the autopsy report? It would show what happened, and where they sent him for burial, perhaps the medical examiner's office sent him to the wrong funeral home, they could have fooled up the paperwork, it's possible that his body went to the wrong place, and we need to find out where his body is now, so that we can get him moved to his rightful grave and resting place."

Rafe tells Sami, "Sami, there wasn't an autopsy performed, because cause of death was obvious, you could see the strangulation marks on Will's neck, I saw them while we were waiting for the paramedics to get there.

The ME came to the scene while we were waiting for the coroner's assistant to come take his body to the morgue so that you could identify him, and so the body could be released for burial. The ME just confirmed that Will was dead, and the body was released to the funeral home for preparation for the funeral. We never saw it again. Remember, you had requested a closed casket.

Lucas, "Call the ME and ask him to doublecheck his paperwork, we need to find our son's body. We don't want to cause any trouble for him, we just need to find out where Will is, and get his body back and put in his proper grave."

Rafe, "The ME retired at the end of that month, and moved out of town right after that. We didn't have a forwarding address for him, he said that he needed to get away from the death and pain he saw everyday.

We found out that he had committed suicide a few months after he left town when the authorities contacted the town to inform us of the fact because we were listed as his last employer. So, unfortunately, we can't question him about Will's case."

Sami, "Can't somebody from the police department check the paperwork, surely that is allowed, isn't it? We can get the answers ourselves from the paperwork, and can get Will back here where he belongs, right?"

Hope, "It was discovered after he retired that there were gaps in the paperwork, it didn't show up right away, because it took a few weeks to fill the position, we were depending on the coroner from the next town over, to cover any autopsies we needed completed during that time.

So, after the new ME took over, she went through all the old paperwork to familiarize herself with all the cases, and found out that he hadn't been completing his paperwork in the proper manner. We discovered that most of his paperwork for the last two years is missing large chunks of information.

While we have tried to get as much of the paperwork backfilled as much as possible, it was not possible for every case and Will's was one of the cases that we couldn't find all the information so that the file could be closed properly.

We tried to get the information from the funeral home, but a couple of months after Will passed, there was a huge fire that destroyed the document storage area where all the backups of the files for the funerals that they have carried out since they have been in business were being held. It was burned to the ground, and everything was incinerated.

All their records were all destroyed, and the problem is that they had just started to make electronic copies of their files. However, they had started with the oldest because they were the most fragile, and were working their way to the most recent files, like I said, the whole area was destroyed, even the computer backup storage devices, they weren't stored in a fire safe box, just in with the other documents.

John, "Well, what about the funeral home itself, surely their office has a current copy of the file on their computer system, at least some information?"

Rafe, "There was a break in about a month before the fire occurred, and their computer system was stolen, and all their records were gone, but they weren't worried, because they had backups of all the file in the storage unit, until the fire a month later. So, the funeral home's records were completely destroyed, and because of this there is no way to confirm that Will was ever there."

Sami, "So, you are telling us that there is no way to prove that my son is dead, and where his body really is? This is unbelievable, how could no one have noticed that the ME wasn't completing his paperwork the way it should be done?

Aren't there rules in places to make sure this doesn't happen? What about the staff in the Medical Examiner's office, why didn't they say anything to someone who could have fixed this issue?"

Rafe speaks up, "Well, there were only two staff members, the coroner's assistant who helped move the bodies from the scenes, and helped out with autopsies, and the administrative clerk. They were both devoted to him, and we discovered out afterwards, because they left shortly after the ME retired, that they were his wife and son.

The son used the mother's maiden name, and she used her mother's maiden name when they applied for the positions, so that no one would know that they were related. Unlike the police department, their office doesn't allow anyone who are involved or closely related to work together.

Due to the fact that the whole office left at once, Abe had to fill all three positions at once, so it took a while to get the office back up and running, and when it was, the ME discovered what had been happening with the paperwork, and the fact that his staff had been covering for him.

We have been searching for them, especially after we were informed of his suicide, but it's like they have disappeared off the face of the earth, we have been looking but cannot find a trace of them anywhere.

At this point, we think they are both dead as well, because there has not been any activity with their bank accounts, their credit cards, and their passports have not been used, and no new driver licenses have been issued in their names.

She has been trying to get everything straightened up since then, but a few of the people that passed shortly after Will, their paperwork has been fooled up as well, apparently, they were all sent to the same funeral home as Will."

Lucas, "Can't the funeral directors at the home reconstruct the paperwork?"

Hope, "We tried that route, but they didn't complete the paperwork themselves, they had an office manager who took care of all of the day to day details and completed all the documents needed for the funeral home.

He has left since then, he was offered a fantastic job in Hawaii, with a huge raise, and he wouldn't be working at a funeral home anymore. Who could blame him? Not that he got to enjoy it for very long, he was killed in a house invasion about a year ago, along with his whole family, it was brutal."

Sonny, "So, you are telling us that there is no one left who has any pertinent knowledge as to where Will could be? That's impossible, it's also insane, it sounds like someone wanted to make sure that no one could ever find any legitimate proof of Will's death one way or the other.

It seems like it was done on purpose, like a huge coverup, but why would someone do that, what possible reason could they have to do all this in regards to Will's death. Who would want to do that to Will's family? "

Sami, "I agree with Sonny, it's insane, we need to know where our son is, we need proof that Will is gone. I can't believe that I am saying this, but I think we need to go to Memphis. We need to go to this club, hopefully we can meet this young man, explain the situation as it is to him, and hope that he will agree to give us a DNA sample so that we can at least rule out that he is Will.

He is going to think we are insane, but hopefully we can get him to understand the situation and get him to agree to our request. Can you imagine the look on his face when a group of strangers come up to him and then tell him that he is a dead-ringer for their late relative?

Then one of us must ask him if we can please have some of your DNA to prove you are not him; because we just discovered that his body is missing two years after he was murdered. He will think we have just escaped from psychiatric facility, and I wouldn't blame him, it does sound insane."

Lucas, "We need to get there as soon as possible, but the main problem will be getting into the club so that we can meet him and talk to him, and request the DNA sample. We need to see about getting a membership so that we can get in, from what it seems like, it is extremely exclusive. Too bad we don't know any members of the club, they could get us in as guests.

I just thought of something, Mom or Andre might know someone, I am going to call her and explain the situation, you know that she will do this for us, and for the chance to know for sure about Will, so that we will know that he is gone or not. Mom has business contacts all over the country, so she should have some in Tennessee."

Sonny speaks up and says, "I'll call Uncle Vic, he may know of someone who is a member as well, he will do this for me, even though he wasn't very fond of Will at the end."

Sami, "Fine, ask him, but I don't think he will do it, just to spite me."

While this is going on, Lucas has called his mother, and explained the situation, and tells her that they have discovered that Will's grave is empty, and due to a set of very suspicious circumstances, that there is no way to verify that Will is dead. He tells her of everything they just learned that has happened since Will died.

Kate, "I agree, I find it hard to believe that all of this has happened since Will was murdered, and that none of it is connected. It's almost like someone wanted us to think that Will was dead and buried when he wasn't, but why, who would do something so cruel to all of us?

I will check with my business colleagues from down that way, and see if anyone is a member, and if they are, I will ask them to arrange guest memberships for whoever is going to Memphis, so that you can all get into the club, and meet this performer, the young man who you said looks just like Will, Lucas, does he really look that much like Will, really?"

Lucas, "Mom, he could be Will's identical twin brother, I couldn't see any difference in the picture in the article and Will, they looked exactly like each other, it was hard to see someone with Will's face looking out of the picture, looking so happy and healthy, so alive, to be honest."

Kate, "Can you handle seeing someone, maybe talking to someone who looks that much like Will, and who is alive and well. What will you do if he doesn't agree to do the DNA test, can you handle not knowing for sure? Or is it going to destroy you and Sami even more?"

At the same time, Sonny calls his uncle Victor, and tells him what they have found out. Victor is just as suspicious of the series of events as everyone else that day, he may not have been fond of or even liked Will Horton if he is honest, but after being killed, he figures that even Will deserves to rest in peace.

The first thought of who could have done this that occurs to him is Stefano. God knows that he had done so many other evil things to the Brady's and Marlena over the years. Sonny explains to him about seeing the picture of the performer in Memphis

How he looks identical to Will, and he explains the plan to head to Memphis, trying to find the performer and asking him for a DNA sample so that they can have proof that he is not Will. He then asks him if he knows anyone who is a member of the club Black Velvet.

Victor tells Sonny that he thinks that Deimos might have been a member, he remembers seeing the name of the club mentioned in Deimos' papers after he died. He says that he doesn't know if the club is aware of Deimos having passed away.

He tells Sonny that he will check with the club, and see if the group of them can get into the club under Deimos' membership, and he tells Sonny that he will need a complete list of names to give the club if they agree to let them in.

Sonny tells the other that Victor thinks that he might be able to get them in, and he needs to know who wants to get into the club, Sami says she is going, and Lucas agrees with her, Sonny is going, so of course Paul says he will as well. John and Marlena also say that they want to be included, and so do Justin and Adrienne.

Sonny tells Victor that all eight of them want to get in if possible. Victor agrees, and he tells Sonny that he will call the club right away, and he will get right back to him, as soon as he gets an answer from the club.

They are stood around the cemetery just waiting to hear back from Victor, they are in too much shock to think of even leaving there until they hear about the club. Around ten minutes after Sonny spoke to Victor, his uncle calls him back.

Victor tells him that he has arranged for them all to have a temporary guest membership for the club, and that it is good for a month. Sonny thanks his uncle and when he hangs up, he tells the rest that Victor has gotten them access to the club.

They are glad to hear this, and John tells them that he will charter a plane to get them to Memphis as soon as possible, so that they can get this put to rest, and Will can be in peace. He tells them they should all go and pack a bag for a few days, on the off chance that they cannot meet the performer right away.

He tells them to get to the private plane terminal at the Salem airport when they are ready, and that as soon as they are all there, and have clearance that they will fly to Memphis, they all agree with him and go to get their separate ways to get ready, and they meet up at the terminal in under an hour, and board the plane for their flight, each lost in their own thoughts about what they will soon see.

Their takeoff is delayed when Justin receives a call from Steve, and he finds out that the woman who is with them is not Adrienne, but Bonnie Lockhart, and that she has been impersonating Adrienne, as soon as they hear this, and once they have her detained, the police arrive and take her into custody.

While everyone on the plane are waiting for the police to arrive, they are stressed out at the latest thing that has happened. At the same time Justin is wanting to get to Statesville along with the police so that Bonnie can be put back into prison, and Adrienne can be released. Kayla has brought some clothes and toiletries for Adrienne so that she can get out of the prison clothes and feel more like herself again.

On the plane, the rest of the group are shocked, because none of them had known it wasn't really Adrienne, sure, she had acted weird a few times, but not anything to make them believe that she was being replaced by a double.

Sami is quieter than anyone has ever seen her, and Marlena is concerned. She goes to sit down with Sami, and she asks Sami if she is okay. Sami says no, that while she wishes this young guy in Memphis could be Will, but she knows that it can't be him.

She says this is because she and Lucas saw him in the morgue, and that she had touched his hand and kissed his forehead, and when she did this that he felt cold to the touch. She said that Will was not moving or breathing then, and he was cold when she touched him.

Will is gone, and she doesn't think that her heart could handle losing Will all over again. She breaks down in Marlena's arms, and Lucas comes over and takes her into his arms, because he knows exactly how she is feeling.

It was hard enough the first time that they had to face that Will was dead, and now this, they must do it again, and have to see someone that looks just like their dead son, god, the thought is so painful. He just wishes that Adrienne and Justin could get there, so that they could go do this and come back home and grieve for Will again.