Sammy came in that night looking like hell run over. The bags under his eyes were bigger than his actual eyes. Which was particularly weird because Ben had just seen him the day before.
Yesterday, Sammy had been his usual self, if a little quiet since his on air altercation with Lily Wright. Ben hadn't even heard it himself, but Troy had been listening and filled him in. Sammy had come to King Falls looking for Jack Wright and somehow, this had driven a wedge between him and Lily.
Ben had been open with his want to know about the secret past Sammy was always so determined to keep on lock down, but he never would have wanted it to come out like this. Not that he even really knew what any of it meant. He didn't even know who this "Jack" was to Sammy or why his disappearance had launched Sammy into moving to King Falls.
Anyway, Sammy had walked into the station 20 minutes early, a clear warning sign, and immediately gotten to work on whatever he could get his hands on. Chet had been so startled to see him through the booths window that he had accidentally let a call from Pete through to request a song because he was staring in bewilderment. He'd even pulled Ben aside during the switch over to ask if something was wrong.
Ben hadn't known what to tell him.
Usually, Ben felt he could approach just about anything with Sammy. Even things that he didn't want to talk about, he could talk to Sammy. But this, whatever it was, was different. It was Sammy's issue and he didn't want to overstep his boundaries by trying to force Sammy to talk about it. Sammy wouldn't even hint at his past and he was being just as tight lipped about whatever had happened.
Ben had no chance of prying the problem out of him. So, for now, he set up the booth for show and let things ride out. If there was one thing he was certain of, it would come out eventually. He just needed to give Sammy time.
The show began pretty normally and they'd made it through the 2 o'clock hour without much fuss, but just as they opened the phone lines, Frickard had to go and blow the whole thing to smithereens.
"Rumor has it that our own Sammy boy here was called into the sheriff's station this afternoon. Want to tell the world about what, exactly, you did now?"
The question had been nothing but Frickard's usual slimy muck raking. Normally, Ben would have dumped him and moved on but from where he sat across the desk, he could see Sammy go pale. The surprise meant Ben was slower on the dump button and the silence that followed sounded bad.
It was the beginning of an avalanche.
Archie had been next, and for as harmless as he was, Archie was one nosy motherfucker when he smelled juicy gossip. He had sunk his teeth into Sammy's silence and tried to simultaneously defend and pry at his increasingly silent co-host. Ben had eventually been forced to play his commercial as a stealthy way to rush him off the line just to try and get the sad, defeated look off Sammy's face.
The next call had been motherfucking Mayor Grisham, gloating sublty about whatever Sammy had been down there for exemplifying why he was a bad role model and shouldn't be on the air.
Ben had not hesitated to dump him.
The final straw was Cynthia Higenbaum, demanding to know what laws Sammy had broken and how the radio station could keep a criminal on the air. He'd already punched their beloved Mayor, who know what else he was doing with his off time. Ben had attempted to argue with her as he watched Sammy sink farther down into his chair with every word until finally he sat up and snapped.
"You know what Mrs. Higenbaum, fine. Let's talk about it. Let's talk about my trip to the sheriff's station this morning. Let's talk about how I got off work yesterday to a voicemail telling me to come in because they 'needed my help.' Let's talk about how I went in this morning to identify the body of Jack Wright, my dead husband."
The silence that reigned in light of this revelation was enough to choke a person.
Sammy was married.
Sammy's husband was dead.
When he started talking again, Sammy's voice was quiet and grave. Every word hung like a knife in the air, ready to strike through the heart of anyone listening.
"Let's talk about how I have lost the love of my life again, but I have to keep going. So I came to work, because sitting alone in my house was driving me crazy. I came into work because I stupidly thought I could keep myself busy long enough to not have a fucking break down on air. Let's talk about how Jack only died a few days ago, despite having disappeared for two fucking years. Let's talk about all of it King Falls.
"Except you can talk about all of it without me."
Sammy slamming his headphones down and walking out wasn't even a surprise. The immediate call on the hotline though, scared the shit out of Ben.
He'd wanted to let it ring and go after Sammy but on the off chance it was someone who could help he's answered anyway.
"You have 10 seconds."
"It's me, Benny. Don't worry, I'm already in the parking lot, ready to take Sammy home with me."
Troy's voice was, undoubtedly, the best thing he had heard all night.
"How... how did you know to be here?"
"Oh, I could tell as soon as freaking Frickard called in that you were going to need some help. I'll take Sammy home with me and you figure out a way to get the show covered. Loretta was just starting to make some cookies when I left, we'll save you a couple."
Troy Krieghauser was a blessing from the universe. Ben would fight anyone who said otherwise.
Just then, Ben could hear Troy greet Sammy on the other end of the line.
"Well King Falls, I'm gonna send you to break while I try to get a hold of Chet."
They had a long night ahead of them.