Finding Willis… a Missing Person and an Amazing Reunion


The other day I made a quick stop at Wal-Mart in the small town of Athens, Alabama. Again, “small town” is relative. Huge compared to my home (unincorporated) town of Jachin, actually.

I stuck my eggs, sausage, sharp cheddar, and Pillsbury in the back seat. I had a craving for Mom’s Breakfast Casserole earlier. I’ll have to give you that recipe some time.

So, anyway, I opened the driver’s side car door and pivoted to sit down, but a small piece of paper on the pavement caught my eye.

It was folded in sixes and had writing on it. I nearly passed it up, but my curiosity got the better of me. What could be written on it?

I picked it up and opened the folds.

To my amusement, there was a pen and ink drawing of a man. The cartoon balloon introduced the man to me:

“I’m Willis M.”

It was a sketch of a muscular young man, wearing a hard hat, jeans, a pocketed t-shirt, and work boots. He had heavy brows and a dark beard.

Probably some guy who worked in a construction job of sorts. The word I’m didn’t have an appostrophe (I tend to really notice things like that), so the art was either done by someone who didn’t score good grades in English or he was too rushed to bother with grammar.

The back of the sheet had a hurried caricature of another guy. The balloon said, “Ho Ho I’m Santa Matt W.” It must have been done next because it was on the back of the paper and wasn’t done with the careful detail of the first drawing. (I’m using a lot of deductive skills here, dear Watson.)

Really, I was quite impressed with the artist’s work. So I had to share it with all of you. I also like Willis’ first and last name. It sounds like a great name for the guy in the drawing, but I don’t want to hurt the Willis’ and Matt’s privacy by publishing it online. I went to 411 and searched on the men’s names but had no luck.

The paper was so clean that I’m sure that it was dropped only that morning. I can imagine a couple of guys stopping at Walmart for sodas or to buy their lunch for the day. They are sitting in a utility truck, goofing off with the artist’s skills with a pen.

“Here ya go,” says the artist. “You can keep it.”

“Yeah, man, it looks just like me,” answers Willis. He opens the door to go inside the store and carelessly stuffs it in his rear pocket, accidentally pulling it back out along with his hand. The square of paper flutters, un-noticed, to the ground.

I can think of lots of story plots about Willis. And it may aven be crucial that I post this.

For example.

Willis’ family has been searching for him. His father is very ill, but Willis and his dad have been estranged for years. Willis’ sister in Canada sees this blog. It’s her beloved brother, long lost. Sister responds to my blog, “Please tell me where you found the drawing. We’ve got to be in touch with Willis!”

I tell her. They hire a private detective and send him to Athens. He finds Willis.

Yay, I saved the day. Kismet and all that. The story ends up on the Today Show… They even bring Katie Couric back to do an exclusive interview of me, my new artist buddy, Matt, and Willis. I meet Matt Lauer and Ann Curry (is she still on the show?). Al Roker gives me a big hug. Woo-hoo, I’m the hero. I get a book contract…

Oops. I forgot.

It’s not all about me, right?

It’s really about Willis finding his way back to his family in Canada. Also, Willis’ father gets well because seeing his son is a balm to his health. And Willis is reunited with his fiancée, and our book deal helps them to build their starter dream house. Willis gets me to help him with his English grammar. It’s all so wonderful. All because I found the line drawing of Matt and Willis in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Athens, Alabama.


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