He can't be gone...I've muttered it to myself for the last 24 hours. He's gotta be out there still, ready to pop up in my chat window at zany hours and what seems to be the most inopportune times. Why, just the other day we were chatting and he told me he was worried about his brain.
He can't be gone. Just six days ago he received my envelope with a couple of New Zealand comic books. He devoured them and wanted more. There were dozens in the series, yet to be enjoyed. He was so taken with them that he'd begun signing off as Wal' - the anti-hero of Footrot Flats.
We had just arranged some details for my visit to Pittsburgh in August. He was getting all excited about showing me around. And of course, we were discussing the publication of his collected Avenir Eclectia stories, in a book all his own, to be called Transfer Orbits.
It's not even been three years since I lost my own father when he was only sixty. Walt was doing a fine job as a stand-in...so often I thought he should have met my dad. They have the same twisted humour. Well, I won't pretend to know what the afterlife is really truly like, but I'll betcha my spaceship that they've met now.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure he's got his own spaceship, too. To him, discovering the universe piece by piece would be an utter act of worship. He may have left this life in a bus stop, but he'll be enjoying the next with rather speedier transportation, I suspect.
It sure is an odd thing to lose someone you've never met. I guess we're lucky we found out; it would be so easy for an online friend to disappear and we'd be never the wiser. But apparently he spoke of his Internet buddies enough to his family that they searched us out.
I don't even know what he looked like. He did say he bore some resemblance to Wal' in the cartoons, so I guess this is the image that's stuck with me.
So long, Wal'. Can't wait to see that spaceship.