The most memorable part of Graham's funeral was a eulogy delivered by John. Standing before an audience that included all the main characters of this story on the protagonists' side, John began with the following: "I guess we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, of such unusual intelligence...yes, intelligence, should now so suddenly be spirited away. Well, I feel that I should say, 'Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard, all he ever did for this team was spill coffee on the prototype drawings! I hope he fries!' And the reason I feel I should say this is he would never forgive me if I didn't, if I threw away this glorious opportunity to make fun of him on his behalf. Anything for him, but mindless good taste."
At the end of the service, John announced that they will be taking Graham's urn (containing his cremated ashes) on a city-wide pub crawl that evening to honor the legacy of their deceased colleague.
Afterwards, most of the crowd filed back into the black cars and left the cemetery. Theo, Dennis, Heathcliff, Wolfgang and Charlie lingered behind. It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon, a good time for a walk.
The cemetery was almost deserted of people. Everything was still except for the low hum of distant traffic. The group wandered among the tombstones, the silence between them only punctuated by small remarks. It felt like there wasn't much to say or do other than to just finally have a moment of quiet to themselves.
Suddenly, Charlie stopped in his tracks, looking like he was deep in thought. The rest of the group already several meters ahead of them, Theo stopped and walked back to Charlie's side.
'What are you thinking about?' Theo asked him.
'Well,' Charlie said, while looking at some tombstones, 'the first time we met, Heathcliff totaled my car. Now I don't have a car.'
Theo looked at Charlie without speaking, like she always did when she didn't know where he was taking the conversation. Charlie continued.
'My folks lent me that car after my sister crashed it into a lamp post. The front fenders got dented and had to be replaced. We could only find fenders that weren't the same color as the original, and because of that, my sister didn't want the car anymore so it got passed down to me. I rather liked the car, because the only thing wrong with it was that it made farting sounds when I drove it. Unfortunately, when Heathcliff crashed my car into the warehouse where Wolfgang was trying to propose to you, it was completely destroyed. Now my car is gone, and when I go home I will have an extremely long story to tell to my folks about why that is. After the events in the past few days I'm a little tired, I think for once I don't enjoy long stories anymore.'
'So you're planning to go home soon?' asked Theo.
'My folks aren't expecting me home. In fact, I recall them saying I should be gone as long as my sister's money lasted. You see, they have been running what they called a private liquor business back home, and the word has gotten out to the law. For some reason the law doesn't like private liquor businesses, so my folks are actually taking some time off from their home life to travel around the world, just so they don't have to deal with the law. That's also why they couldn't have been happier when my sister won a lot of money from a lottery ticket and left home to go 'live her life', according to her. She gave me some of that money stored away in a bank account, and since I haven't been spending any of that money ever since I got involved in this adventure, I still have more money than I know what to do with.'
Theo brushed her hand against one the graves, wondering if she should even ask questions. But she decided that after everything that happened, families doing questionably illegal things shouldn't surprise her at all. 'Isn't your girlfriend back at home, waiting for you?'
'The law is very nosy back home. My sweetheart telephoned me before I left saying they're putting her family under surveillance until they find my folks. She said our relationship will have to go on the long-distance, low-maintenance mode. She's not expecting me back home any time soon either.'
'Then why are you worried about having to go home and explain to your family that your car is gone, when right now they're...abroad?' Theo asked.
'Well, I don't know what else I can do, now that both our character arcs are finished.'
Theo looked at him, unsure of what to say next. 'What do you mean, by character arcs?'
'When I woke up in the infirmary on Mr. Dragon's island, my author visited me and told me that my character arc in our story is finished because I've made new friends, and yours would be finished when you successfully defeated Mr. Dragon.'
'Are you sure that wasn't just the morphine?'
'I'm pretty sure it happened, he even told me about events happening in the story which I wasn't present to witness, like how one of Mr. Dragon's colleagues got shot to death by Mr. North in a very similar way to how Al Pacino's character got killed in Scarface.'
Theo still looked skeptical. 'And have you seen this...uh...author since?'
Charlie thought about it, tapping absentmindedly. 'I think there was someone at the service that looked like him, but he was with someone I hadn't seen before.'
'What did the other person look like?'
'She had black hair and wore glasses, and she was writing in a notebook. Occasionally she looked up from her writing to observe you. When they left at the end of the service, she left this note where she sat and made sure I saw her leave it there.' Charlie took the note out of his pocket and gave it to Theo.
Shooting a glance towards him, asking silently why he hadn't brought it up earlier, she quickly unfolded the note and smoothed out the creases. Scanning over the messy cursive, she started reading out loud.
'Although we may not be there to write it, this is only the beginning of your adventures. Best of luck, signed, K.'
'Does this mean we have new character arcs now?' Charlie asked. His eyes brightened.
'Everyone needs to keep growing as people. So I guess the answer would be yes.' Theo looked at Charlie and smiled, 'How about you stay with us for a while. I'm sure Dennis won't want you to leave so soon.' She looked over and saw the other three walking back towards them, probably finally realizing that they had been left behind.
'That's a great idea,' Charlie exclaimed, 'why didn't I realize it sooner?'
Theo shrugged. 'If you're right about the author thing, then it was just written that way.' She linked her arm with Charlie's and looked up at him, grinning. 'Let's not keep our next adventure waiting.'