“Another missing young person,” said Officer Riley. “That's the third one we've had in the past month.”
Luke went to his mother's house to discuss the sad situation.
“I've got to find out what happened to her,” said Luke.
“She was probably just some flighty young woman who ran off with some richer man,” suggested Mom. “As Verdi put it, La Donna e Mobile. That means: women are fickle.”
“I can't believe that, Mom,” said Luke. “She loved me. She wouldn't just vanish. I've got to find out what happened.”
Luke began tracing what Sarah did on the day she disappeared. He was able to find a witness who saw her being shoved into an unmarked green van by three men. Luke began driving around his small city looking for green vans.
After pursuing several green vans which did not end up raising his suspicions, he began pursuing a green van which parked in the parking lot of a medical building. From his car, Luke watched as two men carried a woman out of the van on a stretcher.
“What's the problem with the young lady?” asked Luke.
“Mind your own business,” said one of the men, and took the woman into the medical office.
Luke's suspicions were raised. This van wasn't an ambulance. What was it doing carrying a body into a medical office in a stretcher?
Later that evening, Luke spoke to his mother about the suspicious incident.
“Oh, I'm sure it was completely innocent,” said Mom. “Dr. Hamilton is a fine doctor. You shouldn't suspect him.”
Luke looked at his mother with a puzzled expression.
“Mom, I didn't tell you it was Dr. Hamilton's clinic,” said Luke. “How did you know it was his office?”
“Uh...uh...just a lucky guess,” said Mom.
Luke looked closely at his mother. Then he noticed something that made him even more suspicious.
“Mom, your hands, they look so youthful,” said Luke. “Why do your hands look like the hands of a young woman?” Luke knew his mother was 55 years old, but her hands looked like the hands of a person about 20.
“It's...it's...it's a new hand lotion I'm using,” said Mom. “Yes, that's it. The lotion is made by... uh...Revlon. Yes, they work wonders in making you look younger.”
Becoming suspicious, Luke looked carefully at his mother's neck. He rubbed off some covering makeup on his Mom's neck. He saw that underneath the makeup was a scar that extended all around the length of Mom's neck.
“What is this circular scar?” asked Luke.
“That?” said Mom. “It's..uh...I had a face lift.”
“Your face doesn't look any younger,” said Luke.
There then formed in Luke's mind a horrible suspicion. It was a crazy thought that he tried to crush, but it wouldn't go away. He thought the suspicion was far too ghastly to be true, but he could not help himself from testing it. He knew that his missing love Sarah had a distinctive birthmark on her right shoulder. Could it possibly be that he would find the same birthmark now on his mother's shoulder?
Luke pulled up the sleeve of his mother's shirt. There on her shoulder was exactly the same birthmark that Sarah had always had on her shoulder.
“This is Sarah's birthmark!” blurted out Luke.
“No, it's just a coincidence,” said Mom.
“You have Sarah's body!” said Luke, enraged.
After some initial denials, Mom finally told the horrible truth.
“I paid $700,000 for a body transplant, a head swap,” admitted Mom tearfully. “They told me they could extend my life by fifty years by transplanting my head onto a youthful body. I didn't know how they would be getting the body. I didn't ask about it. I didn't know they would be getting the body by killing a young girl in our city.”
Luke slumped down to the floor weeping. He covered his face with his hands.
“My own Mom has my girlfriend's body!” he said, wincing at the horror of it.
“You must believe me,” said Mom. “I didn't know they'd be using your girlfriend's body for the transplant. I didn't know where the body was coming from.”
Luke called the the police, and the body transplant ring was broken up. The police investigation revealed that after the head of Luke's mother was transplanted on to Sarah's body, Sarah's head had been incinerated.
Dr. Hamilton and his helpers were convicted of murder. It turned out that more than twenty rich old men and women had paid to have the body transplants, in hopes of living many additional decades.
Luke's mother was convicted of a lesser charge, and served only one year in prison. She went on to live for many years, but Luke never spoke with her again.