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Waldo Finds Himself: Handford Detective Agency

Updated on March 6, 2019
Luke Holm profile image

Luke Holm earned bachelor's degrees in English and philosophy from NIU. He is a middle school teacher and a creative writer.

Listen to the Dramatic Reading

Suspect at Large

My eyes are sharp, honed after weeks of scouring pages and pages of evidence. Despite my acute precision and skill, I’ve lost my mark. Suggestions and clues fail me as they point astray, deterring my mind and prolonging the imminent capture of my prison-cloaked man. However, I’ve narrowed down his location and know he is near.

I’ve tracked him to a busy beach. I feel my hunt coming to an end, but not before sifting through a myriad mess of men, women, and children. The cosmopolitan community speckles the shores with a sea of faces. Fortunately, I know how to swim.


The Hunt

Gnarly surfers, busy lawyers, and bearded priests mangle my senses and scatter my wits, but I manage to stay sharp. I think I spot him in the distance; a glimpse of crimson light reflected off the shades of a smiling teen. As I dodge small children in brightly colored vests, mothers weaning babies, and a man on a motor scooter, the teen turns away and I lose sight of what could have been my only chance.

Dammit. I was so close. My search continues and again I think I spot him near a grove of flags waving in the wind. No luck. I struggle to understand how such an adversary could possibly exist. My determination wanes and I start to give up.

Perhaps this beach is where I’ll meet my end. It’s clear he doesn’t want to be found and probably could even evade God if he wanted. I find an empty blanket with no one around, so I sit down to think about my next move.


Looking Within

I once heard that so long as we search outside of ourselves, we will never find what we are looking for. At the time, I thought it was a load of garbage, but now, I was willing to try anything if it meant the end to this ridiculous quest. So, right there, sitting on the sun-baked sand, I shut my eyes and waited for him to find me.

I sat there for a long time and eventually felt the chill of sun setting over the horizon. When I opened my eyes, the beach was empty. I was alone. In the past, I might have cursed myself for letting my prey slip away once again. However, this time was different. I searched my feelings and found that I no longer cared to pursue the prize.



Slowly, I got up and walked toward the lapping tide at the end of the beach. I took the moment to enjoy the sea as it swirled around my ankles and sucked the sand from my toes. It was cold, but I felt alive and fresh. Something that I’d missed for far too long. A new vigor arose in my heart and I released my burden to the roar of the waves.

Waldo Finds Himself

For a moment, the water pooled into a shallow puddle in the sand. I peered down and saw the man I was looking for. There he was, candy cane red and boyish features marked his sly face. He was odd and not what I’d expected, but at the same time, I knew my journey had come to an end. He waved and I smiled back. Turning to go, the sun winked a knowing goodbye.


Where's Waldo?

This story, like many others, is a spin-off of the popular children's book by English illustrator Martin Handford, "Where's Wally?" In the short story, Handford Detective Agency is a tip-of-the-hat to Wally's creator.

Written in the late 1980's and 7 in total, Handford's books spread quickly, attaining a variety of titles and names for the series and main character. With seven books in total, the series has spread across the globe, inspiring
several video games and movie scripts. Waldo's striped attire has become fashionable for many to wear on Halloween or practically any other dress-up occasion.

Depending on the country, the protagonist, Waldo, has gone by many names: French Charlie; Hindi Hetti, Norwegian Willy, Croatian Jura, German Walter, and Danish Holger. Further fun ensued as Waldo fanatics took a closer look as he was joined with several of his friends: Wilma, Wenda, Odlaw, Woof, Wizard Whitebeard, and The Wally Watchers.

For several years, Handford's books were pulled from school shelves because a nude breast conspiracy theory. In one of his illustrations, a woman is sunbathing topless. The image is innocent until a clumsy boy next to her accidentally spills his icecream on her back. The shock causes her to lift up off of her towel, revealing her left breast. The illustration was remedied and the woman was eventually given a bathing suit top.

If you've never searched for this candy cane character, I highly suggest taking up the mission. Not only does Handford's books promote hours of fun, but also an interesting take on society and geography.

Reddit Inspired Where's Waldo in Chicago, IL

Did you enjoy finding Waldo when you were a child?

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© 2017 JourneyHolm


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