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Three senior men sitting on a bench by the sea | Source: Shutterstock
Three senior men sitting on a bench by the sea | Source: Shutterstock

4 Friends Promise to Meet in 40 Years, 3 Men Show Up and Find Note Saying, 'I'm Not Coming' – Story of the Day

Rita Kumar
Mar 02, 2023
08:50 A.M.
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Four best friends were heartbroken to part ways after graduating from high school. So they promised each other that no matter what happened, they'd meet again at the same spot after 40 years. But on the day of the long-awaited reunion, one of their pals didn't show up, and they decided to find out why.

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The golden rays of the setting sun pierced through the pink clouds, casting an orange glow on the sand and sea. Four friends, Ben, Todd, Willie, and Karl, were sitting on the bench on Santa Monica beach, their hearts heavy with the weight of the impending separation.

The boys had graduated high school just yesterday, but it had already started feeling like a lifetime ago. The bittersweet moment signified the end of their beautiful school life and the beginning of something unknown. For Willie, Ben, Todd, and Karl, that day marked the sad ending of their tight-knit friendship.

As time ticked away, their hearts became heavier. The boys talked about the previous night's prom...About Ben's crush on his classmate, and everything irrelevant, trying to put off the conversation about the future as they couldn't bear the pain of parting ways...

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

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Karl was flying to Spain to meet his parents and girlfriend the following day. Ben was going to college in New York, while Todd had planned to move in with his father in Mexico two days later. Only Willie was staying back in Los Angeles, and the friends had no idea when they would see each other again.

At that moment, Willie took out his notebook from his backpack and tore four sheets of paper on which the boys penned their future addresses, promising to send letters to each other every month. Once that promise was made, the boy then proposed an idea to seal their friendship forever.

"How about we meet here every year? On this Santa Monica beach...at this bench?" said Willie.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Are you serious, pal? But I don't think it's gonna work out...I can't afford a plane ticket from Spain to Los Angeles every year," said Karl.

"Even I doubt if it would work...I'll probably be on a cruise with my parents next year around this time. I don't think I can make it every year coz my dad gets transferred to different states," added Ben.

The friends disappointedly sighed as they understood they would probably never meet again. It ached their hearts, and how they wished they didn't have to see such a sad day. The friendship they'd formed and celebrated over the years was too strong and unforgettable to let go of so easily. So Willie was not going to give up, and he immediately hatched another plan.

A promise once made is a promise that will be kept for a lifetime.

"Okay, life is gonna get busier for us, and we're not gonna meet often. I agree! But what if we swear to meet in forty years over here and on the same day...On June 11, 2017? I'm sure we can do that! What da ya think?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pixabay

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pixabay

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Ben, Todd, and Karl exploded into a giddy laugh. They thought Willie's idea was crazy and practically impossible.

"You kidding, man? You want us to meet after forty years...after a lifetime of experiences and adventures? Please tell me 'twas a joke!" Ben chuckled.

"And why have you chosen exactly forty years?" Karl chimed in.

"Quit laughin', you fools! I chose forty years coz I don't think you'd live longer with that long tongue and pea-sized brain of yours!" replied Willie, trying to lighten the gloomy mood.

"Just think again, pals! It's the perfect time to meet...we would've already retired and will have all the time and energy to meet, talk, dance, and do everything we did in school!"

"Oh, come on, Willie! We won't be in school after forty years. We'd be an old bald bunch with pot bellies, walking around with canes!" Karl laughed.

"Guys, what? Why are you lookin' at me like that? I'm serious...He's gone crazy! Okay fine! Look, I still think this is insane, alright? Christ, the things I have to do for friendship's sake!"

Ben, Todd, and Willie had taken the idea too seriously, so eventually, Karl had no choice but to agree. The boys then promised to reunite on this beach at any cost without any excuses forty years later if they were all still alive.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pixabay

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pixabay

"Guys, don't forget. We're meeting over here on June 11, 2017, at 5 p.m. sharp!" Willie reminded his friends again.

The thought of their reunion lightened their hearts, bringing a sense of hope and joy. As the friends parted ways, they hugged each other tightly and cried, feeling the weight of their friendship and the promise they'd made.

The future was uncertain, and they had no idea if they would even meet as planned. But the boys knew that no matter what happened, they would do anything to keep this promise, and with a heart stronger than the tides, they parted ways that evening.

Forty years passed, and the friends were busy with their own lives in different corners of the world. Willie had founded an IT company in Silicon Valley. Todd retired from sailing and took up his late father's bait shop in Mexico. Meanwhile, Ben was one of the most acclaimed lawyers in New York. They were all married and were swimming in children and grandchildren.

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Ben, Todd, and Willie often met, but they never saw Karl again. Although they stayed in touch with him through letters and phone calls over the years, they started to worry when Karl suddenly stopped communicating with them. It was so strange.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"You sure he's alright?" Ben asked Willie on a call one day. "He hasn't written to me either. I even tried calling him, but he's not answering."

"When we last spoke, he told me he was running a real estate business and was into building villas across Paris. I was in Paris last summer…I even called him and said I wanted to meet him. But he said he was busy in some other country. I'd been to Spain a couple of times, and he told me he was in his hometown. But he refused to meet me…said he was busy with his clients," said Willie.

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They never saw Karl after their last meeting on Santa Monica beach on the evening of June 11, 1977. According to his last letters, he claimed that he was a successful businessman married with two children. But for some reason, he mysteriously stopped responding to his friends' letters and calls and wasn't even there on social media.

Eventually, the date of the long-awaited reunion drew closer, but Willie couldn't shake the feeling that something was off with Karl. He even tried calling him several times, but his calls immediately went to voicemail. At times, Willie even wondered if Karl's success had gone into his head and if he had become too busy for his old pals.

With just two days left for their get-together, Willie called his friends, reminding them about their meeting. He then called Karl, but unsurprisingly, his call landed in the voicemail again. He was disappointed but held his hopes high that Karl would somehow make it on the promised day.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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The day of their dreams finally arrived, and Willie was standing on Santa Monica beach, staring at the golden rays of the setting sun piercing through the orange-tinged clouds. It reminded him of the evening 40 years ago when they parted ways on this same beach. As Willie waited for his friends to arrive, his mind couldn't help but worry about Karl — the missing piece of their friendship.

While in school, Karl was the most curious among the four and would be the first one in all their gatherings. But that day, something just seemed off when he was not even there as promised.

"What happened to Karl? Will he come? Has he forgotten about the promise we made forty years ago?" Willie pondered.

"Hey there, my sweet rascal!" Ben jumped on Willie from behind, startling him. Todd ran to them with arms wide open in the air, shouting like a child. The three men hugged and cried like kids, as though they'd met after ages.

"Where's Karl? Did you call him?" Ben asked.

Willie disappointedly sighed as he took out his cell phone and rang Karl. But once again, there was no answer.

"Maybe we should wait…He must be on the way," Todd said, and the rest nodded.

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The friends reminisced about their good old times and shared a hearty laugh as they strolled across the beach. But their joy faded in a wink when they realized it was already six and Karl still hadn't come. They couldn't quite put their finger on what could've happened to him and why he hadn't arrived.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

"Is it him?" Ben suddenly pointed at a man's silhouette approaching them. Todd and Willie's eyes lit up with joy, hoping it would be their friend Karl.

"No, pal! It's a boy...It's not Karl," Willie was disappointed.

The friends couldn't help but feel a sense of being lost without their old buddy. Their friendship was so close-knit once, and they had dreamed big dreams and even vowed nothing would change between them.

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But somewhere along the way, Karl had gone in an unknown direction, and his friends couldn't figure out why he was avoiding them.

So with a broken heart, Ben, Todd, and Willie marched to their favorite spot on the beach — the old wooden bench where they promised to meet. Just then, Ben's gaze shifted to something fluttering on the bench.

"Guys, what is that?" he alerted the other two, pointing at what looked like a note pinned to the wooden bench's armrest.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

A sense of uneasiness settled over them as Willie plucked the note off the pin. They froze to the ground after reading the first line and recognized it was Karl's handwriting.

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"Todd, Ben, Willie, it's me, Karl. I lost all your phone numbers and addresses, so I couldn't contact you guys. I'm sorry for that. I arranged for someone to deliver this message to you. I hope you're all fine and happy. I'm sorry we couldn't meet all these years but remember, I love you more than anything. I know this might be disappointing, guys. I'm not coming! But I wish you good luck and hope you have a wonderful time at the beach. Don't wait for me. I won't come. I love you, pals. — With Love, Karl."

Ben, Todd, and Willie could not believe their eyes. It was strange that Karl, who had stopped contacting them, would suddenly reach out to them through some random message like this.

Moreover, the fact that he didn't show up that evening, despite promising to do so, deepened their suspicions.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Somethin's not right here...If Karl wanted to reach out to us, why would he leave a note? Why didn't he just call any of us? He said he lost our numbers, but I'm sure he must have written it down somewhere," Willie said, his brows furrowed.

"Yeah, pal...Karl was a tough man in our gang. He never easily said sorry...He never was one for apologies or sentimental talks like this...I wonder what went wrong," Ben doubted.

"I think we should find out what's going on, man...This doesn't seem like him...Our Karl was bold...and talkative. Why would he avoid us? Maybe something's really wrong, and he's hiding it from us...." Todd panicked.

Willie nodded in agreement and decided to seek answers from Andrew, the only relative he knew Karl had in California. He suspected Andrew could know something about Karl, and the three hopped into the car, heading to the man's address.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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The friends immediately made their way to Andrew's house and were warmly greeted by a tall, thin, bald man.

"Andrew? Karl's nephew?" Willie greeted him.

"Yes, but do I know you?"

"Hey, glad to meet you. I'm Willie, and they are my friends Ben and Todd. We're Karl's friends…We were supposed to meet at the beach today and were wondering if you know somethin' about…."

Andrew's brows raised in a surprised arc. "Hey, so you are my uncle's friends! Nice to meet you. Please come in!"

Willie, Ben, and Todd exchanged surprised looks as they followed Andrew, looking around for a recent photo of their buddy Karl. They wanted to see how he looked now, but unfortunately, they found none.

"Where's Karl?" Willie asked Andrew.

"He hasn't been in touch for a while now, and we're worried. We were waiting for him at the beach and found this note. Karl once told me on a call that he has a cousin here in LA. He told me your full name, and I found you on Facebook long back."

"Oh, that note! Did you get it?" Andrew revealed that he was the one who had pinned the note to the bench that afternoon, startling the three friends.

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"You left the note for us? Where is Karl? What happened to him?" the three men gasped in shock.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"My uncle gave this note to me when I visited him last summer. He told me to pin it to the bench on Santa Monica beach on June 11, 2017, without fail. I almost forgot about it, but thankfully, I'd set a reminder on my phone!"

"That's strange," Willie interrupted. "We know Karl is always busy with his new building projects and some million-dollar business. He told me he was flying places to meet clients the last time we spoke. But is he so busy that he has no time for his friends? Look, we want to meet him, alright? Can we have his address in Spain, please?"

The friends exchanged worried glances when Andrew burst into laughter.

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"What?! My uncle and a million-dollar business? He's flying places? Are you kidding me? Uncle Karl doesn't even have money for a plane ticket to Los Angeles...How can he afford a million-dollar business? Good joke!!"

Willie and his friends were shocked at what Andrew had just told them. For so long, they assumed their buddy Karl was rich and settled into the life of his dreams. But now, they were tensed and worried, having realized everything he had told them was a lie.

"What happened to Karl? Why did he lie to us?" Willie panicked. "Did he tell you anything else?"

"Nope! It's been quite a while since I last visited him. He hasn't called and ain't answering any of my calls," replied Andrew.

The friends immediately took Karl's address from him and made their way to their cars, and as they drove towards the airport, their minds raced with fear.

What if Karl is in trouble? What if he is sick or hurt and has been lying to us? But why would he do that? Something's gotta be wrong, they wondered, boarding the immediate flight to Spain to connect the dots.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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The flight seemed like an eternity, and the friends barely spoke to each other. They were muddled and lost in their own thoughts, praying that their pal Karl was okay.

When they finally landed, they were greeted by Spain's pleasant weather and beautiful coastline. But the men couldn't enjoy the scenery and headed to Karl's house in a taxi. Upon reaching, they found the gate locked from the inside, and a dog was barking in a kennel.

"What do we do now?" Todd worried, his voice trembling.

"What we did when we were in the boarding school!" said Willie as he climbed the gate and jumped into the compound. Ben and Todd went after him and headed toward the door, dusting their pants.

"Anyone home? Karl? Can you hear us?" they knocked, tension and fear crawling into their guts. Meanwhile, Karl peeked through the peephole on his door to see why his dog was barking and froze in surprise at seeing his three friends on his doorstep.

The men hoped their buddy would be happy to see them and prayed he wouldn't turn them away. Finally, the door creaked open, and there stood Karl, holding a crutch, looking thinner and older than they'd ever imagined...

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"KARL? BUDDY…IS IT YOU, PAL? OH MY GOD!" the friends squeezed him with a tight hug and cried like kids. For a moment, they forgot about their tiring journey, Karl's deceit, and everything else and were just happy to see him after 40 long years.

The men then settled down in Karl's modest living room and pretended nothing was wrong. But as they looked into his weary and sunken eyes, poor living conditions, and skinny body as though he hadn't eaten for days, they couldn't help but ask him why he'd lied to them.

"Karl, what happened to you, pal? Why are you using a crutch? And why did you lie to us that you were rich? We thought you were happy and settled."

"What's wrong, Karl? Where's your family? Tell us...We have come a long way only for you. You need to speak up now...We know that you're hiding something from us...Come on, tell the truth."

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Tears gushed into Karl's eyes as he looked down at his trembling hands. He didn't want to cry in front of his friends, but now, there was no escape.

"I don't know what happened to me! I think this is my fate…I think this is what God planned for me," he burst into tears.

"I landed in Spain to build my dreams with my girlfriend. I couldn't make it to college after my parents died in a road accident, so I started working as a builder. One day, I fell down from a building and hurt my spine. Doctors told me I would need expensive surgery to walk again. My girlfriend dumped me, and I couldn't get back to my old job. Then I started working as a janitor in a school. I realized my life was only this much. I was happy for you guys and the heights you reached. I was ashamed to tell you about my failures, so I made up tales about my business and European villas! I didn't want to be the laughing stock, guys. I didn't want you to feel sorry for me and think I was a loser. That would break my heart."

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"You're so STUPID, Karl!" fumed Willie. "How could you even think we'd mock you? That's not what friends are for, you fool. We would've helped you!"

"Didn't you even think once that you should've told us everything? Had you done that, then your life could've been completely different, you jerk...We hate you for this, Karl... We seriously hate you!"

Willie, Ben, and Todd were mad at Karl for hiding the truth, but they knew they could not leave him like that. So, they immediately hatched a plan to transform his life.

"If you could please excuse us for a minute?" said Willie, gathering his other two buddies outside. Moments later, they approached Karl with a tear-jerking decision.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Pack your bags and be ready, pal! We're leaving for Los Angeles in four days!" said Willie as Ben and Todd hugged Karl.

"You're taking me with you? To Los Angeles?" Karl burst into tears.

"And then to Mexico! I was looking for a nice business partner to help me at my bait shop...So you're going with me after that! My outdoors is empty…you can stay there!" added Todd.

The friends had even agreed to chip in for Karl's surgery and get him back on his feet once they reached Los Angeles.

"Guys, it's unbelievable! Are you serious?" Karl shed tears of joy.

"What are friends for, Karl? A promise once made is a promise that will be kept for a lifetime! Let's go… It's time to get back to the life we left behind at the beach 40 years ago!" said Willie as everyone cried over a group hug.

"Now that everything is settled, how about we pamper ourselves with some wine and a little tour of Spain before flying home?!" Ben chimed in, chuckling.

Karl laughed, volunteering to be their tour guide. So for the next few days, the old pals toured around Spain, basking in its warm weather like teenagers on a field trip and giggling at hot girls in swimsuits on the beach. They enjoyed the scenery, feasting on delicious Spanish delicacies and wine their bellies could take in!

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Four days later, Ben, Todd, Karl, and Willie, the inseparable best friends, made another promise before the plane took off to Los Angeles.

"We should meet every June 11 at Santa Monica, at the same bench, until God calls us, okay?" Willie extended his hand for the promise. "And no matter what, no more secrets between us…and no more lies, deal?"

"We promise!" the other three swore as the plane took off into the sky.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

What can we learn from this story?

  • True friends will not only share your joy but also part with your sorrows. So never lie to them. Karl had hidden his misery from his best friends, thinking they would pity him and laugh at him after learning about his struggles. But he was wrong because his friends immediately jumped in to make his life better after knowing the truth. They were the real gems of his life.
  • If you love someone unconditionally, you will go to any extent to make them happy. Willie, Ben, and Todd were ready to go any distance to find their friend Karl, so they flew to Spain from Los Angeles to meet him and know he was alright. Their friendship was so unconditional and pure.

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Tell us what you think, and share this story with your friends. It might inspire them and brighten their day.

A woman searches for her bio parents and finds no luck until meeting a man at the nursing home she works. Little did she know she was about to unravel more than she'd ever wanted to know. Click here to read the full story.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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