There are several versions of this story on the net, but I wrote this one. It's cool to see it still floating around on the net:
Sam Clam and Bob Lobster grew up together in a small town, attended school together, enlisted in the Army together, settled down in the same small town...in short, Sam Clam and Bob Lobster were lifelong best friends.
Having done everything together their whole lives, it really surprised no one when, in their late 50s, they died of cancer within days of each other. What surprised Bob Lobster is that he showed up at the Pearly Gates of Heaven alone, without his best friend in the whole world.
When he inquired to Saint Peter why Sam Clam was not on the roll called up yonder, Pete replied "Sam Clam had some character flaws that you were too good a friend to notice. Your friend, Sam Clam, is in Hell."
Well, Bob Lobster was just crushed. This just wouldn't be Heaven without his best friend, Sam Clam! He moped around the alabaster cloud-castles of Heaven with his harp, unplayed, under his arm. The pastoral scenes of peaceful landscapes, people living together in harmony, and the awe-inspiring choruses of angels went unnoticed by Bob Lobster, who could only lament the absence of Sam Clam.
As Bob Lobster sat wallowing in self-pity on a set of marble steps, he was approached by a man whose halo lit his long, flowing hair. Bob Lobster could discern ghastly wounds on the man's hands and feet, but the man ignored the wounds, instead, looking at Bob Lobster with eyes full of compassion for his plight. "Why are you not happy here in Heaven, my son? We have beautiful cloud-castles of alabaster to live in...peaceful landscapes to wander, harmony with our brothers and sisters, and heavenly music by my Father's chosen angels to enhance our meditation of His love."
Bob Lobster looked up with tears in his eyes and a tremor in his voice."We use to do everything together, and now, being without him, I can't enjoy Heaven like I should. I feel like I'm burning in Hell."
The Son of God leaned down, put his hand on Bob Lobster's shoulder, and whispered..."Oh, you're that one. I've talked to my Father about you...I think we can do something to may your stay more pleasant. Report to St. Peter tonight after Vespers.
Bob Lobster's face immediate shone with hope...Perhaps Sam Clam would make it to Heaven after all!
After Vespers, Bob Lobster made tracks for St. Peter's post at the Pearly Gates. At the gates, Peter briefed him on the deal: "Sam Clam has been condemned to Hell for Eternity...that we cannot alter, for all the Universe would be undone otherwise. What we can allow is for you to visit your friend, Sam Clam, once!, and thus calm your torment over your separation."
Well, this was better than nothing, and Bob Lobster immediately brightened at the prospect of seeing his lifelong best friend, Sam Clam, even if it was to be only once for all eternity.
St. Peter continued, "Your visit must not exceed 24 earthly hours...and you must remember, do not lose your harp, for without it, you cannot regain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven!"
Bob Lobster nodded, barely hearing the Saint, thinking of being with his best friend, Sam Clam, again. St. Peter tapped his gnarled staff at Bob Lobster's feet, the cloud-floor parted, letting Bob Lobster plummet terrified through time and space, until he arrived in Hell.
With a PLONK!
Bob Lobster landed on a red satin pillow at the bottom of a rocky shaft and stared out down a dark desert valley to see a bright, bustling city (not unlike Las Vegas). Nowhere did he see oceans of burning pitch, or smell the stench of brimstone.
Bob Lobster ran to the city, half-expecting it to disappear in the shimmer of a mirage, but it was REAL. Short of breath, he approached a towering demon-figure who was standing in a street intersection, directing traffic around the collision.
"MOVE ALONG!" he boomed, until he saw the harp and softened..."Sorry, what can I do for you, sir?"
"I'm here on a short visit, looking for my best friend, Sam Clam..."
"Ah, yes, Sam Clam...interesting case. Anyway, head down the Troppicana there for about three hundred yards and go into the discotheque."
Bob Lobster immediately followed these directions and strode into the disco, dazzled by the flashing strobe lights, loud music, and the throng of dancing bodies.
"This is Hell?" he thought. The dancers ranged from their teens to their 50s, each fashionably attired, if a little daringly showing off their best physical attributes, after wandering around confused, Bob Lobster was grabbed by a pair of strong hands.
Before him stood his best friend, SAM CLAM! He was decked out on a tasteful suit, bedecked with gold chains (not so tasteful), coiffed with a salon hairstyle, and wearing an expensive watch.
"Bob Lobster! Welcome to my club! I wondered if I'd ever see you again! Let's go to a back room so we can talk...it's kinda loud in here! By the way, nice harp!"
Bob Lobster spilled out the story explaining the circumstances of his visit to Hell and his subsequent puzzlement over the lack of fire, brimstone, and pitchfork-wielding devils.
Sam Clam explained "Well, sure, there's that here, but that's only during 9-to-5 daylight hours. But you can't run an economy based on eternal torment. So after hours, we all help turn this place into a profit-making operation. Me? I manage this nightclub, tend bar now and then, and occasionally join the Chippendale dance line during Ladies Night. It's a change from wading waist-deep in burning pitch, for sure, and helped me lose that 'spare tire' I'd developed after retiring from the Army."
They talked long into the night, then Sam Clam invited Bob Lobster to come with him to "work" in the morning. After seeing his best friend slog around in a pool of burning pitch, poked by pole-armed devils, Bob Lobster decided that Heaven was a much better place, but he still had time remaining with his best friend, Sam Clam, and he vowed to enjoy it to its fullest after "duty" hours.
That night, they returned to the disco, where Sam Clam introduced Bob Lobster to his staff, best friends, and regular customers. They occasionally joined the throng long into the night on the dance floor, and Bob Lobster, bedecked in his snow-white robes, was an immediate hit with the scantily clad women, bumping and grinding against him with wild abandon.
Of course, Bob Lobster couldn't do this encumbered with the harp, so one of Sam Clam's beefy bouncers stood menacingly over the instrument, guaranteeing no one would try to steal it.
It was a great shock to Bob Lobster when he heard and felt a great bell chiming, his 24 hours were almost up! He hadn't been paying attention to the time, and now he risked being stranded in Hell!
He ran out of the club, out of town and headed for the rocky cleft that led to Heaven. He scrambled up the shaft, scraping his knees, hands, and feet on the sharp rock that led upward, all the while reverberating to the chimes ringing through his body.
Bloody, out of breathe, and with only one chime remaining, he reached the Pearly Gates."St. Peter! Let me in! It's me, Bob Lobster!"
Saint Peter looked at Bob Lobster up and down as the last chime sounded.
"Aren't we missing something?"
Bob Lobster patted himself down, panicking and he cried out in anguish
"I left my harp in Sam Clam's Disco!"