I had a friend. He wore red and white. In the dog days of Summer, he used to wear long sleeves and a beanie hat anyway. He'd never go out without his glasses, and that smile... man. He was a genuinely nice guy. He was the best friend I ever had. 20 years have passed, and I've never found another one. Another true friend, that is. Another unconditional companion... like Waldo.
First of all, don't try to console me. I blame myself because it's my fault, and my fault only. He trusted me, because... well, because I was normal. And he was a bit... strange.
We used to play childhood games. Whiffle ball, card games, flipping pennies and guessing heads or tails... but what we loved beyond all else was hide-and-go-seek. Me, I was never so good at hiding. You'd always go looking in a dark or narrow or otherwise obscured place for somebody, because that's the most obvious hiding place, right? He'd always find me in one of those places. And I'd feel so embarrassed. But he... he was always so hard to find.
You remember how I said Waldo was weird? Well, he'd go find the strangest places to go hide. One time, it turned out he ran off to the woods three miles away. Another time, he went into the local high school and they found him standing on top of the toilet seat, but ducking so that his head didn't appear over the stall door (I know they called his parents about it, but they didn't seem to care--they figured he'd learn from the experience and simply grow out of it.) And then there was that one time... the last time I saw him.
Listen, I don't know where he went. I never found him. And he did an amazing job covering his tracks. No obvious signs of footsteps anywhere. I tried asking some adults, and they couldn't find him either. After a few hours I gave up and went home. I told my parents that I couldn't find Waldo, and they called Waldo's family and they told me not to worry about it. So I didn't. I did my chores, ate my dinner, and went straight to bed as if nothing unusual ever happened. Because it had happened this way before.
About a week later, I decided to go to Waldo's house and see if he wanted to come out and play. There weren't any cars in the parking lot, which is strange because his mom was usually around. Then I knocked on the door, and there was no answer. I was a little confused, so I went back home and told my mom about it. She paused for a little while, I guess ten or fifteen seconds or something like that, and then she told me to ask dad. I asked dad, and he told me that Waldo's family moved. I told him I thought it was strange that Waldo would move without telling me, but he told me that that's the way kids can be, and that someday when I was older I'd meet the sort of friends who were more considerate about people's feelings.
Well, I was mad at Waldo for years. I figured he ditched me because he didn't want to be my friend anymore, though part of me thought maybe because he had to move he knew no other way of letting me go, because he didn't want to hurt my feelings. I didn't think about him for a long, long time once I finally moved on--I went to college, found some girlfriends (one after another, but none that stuck), and found myself a job that I didn't mind doing. But one day... the bug of never knowing where Waldo went off to bit me. I just needed to know what happened to him and his family!
I asked around. I got some clues. A lot of times people were being kinda figurative, maybe even cryptic, but I found my answer. Eventually, I got an address, and I was told that I could find Waldo there. I was so nervous--I wanted to meet him again, but I had so many questions. Why did he leave me so suddenly, without even calling and saying goodbye?
Well, I have to tell you that I'm really hurting as I explain all this, so I'll cut to the chase. That address wasn't somebody's house. It was to a graveyard. And sure enough... I found Waldo there. It turned out that Waldo had hid so well that nobody else could find him either. And he couldn't find his way back out of those sewers.
I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry Waldo. I always wanted to find you... but not like this. Not... like this...