23 July 2006

Monday, November 30: My third year in kindergarten, I learned that all stories have a happy ending

First, he explains why he was in kindergarten for three years. First year, too young. Second year, just right. Third year, Rheumatic Fever, hospital, and missing so much school that he couldn’t catch up with his classmates, so he kept going to kindergarten.

But that year he learned to read. He loved books. He read every story in the kindergarten classroom and was way ahead of the level of his peers. Until the day that he found a book in which the last few pages had been torn out in a rage by a much younger classmate. Dag was furious that he couldn’t read the last page of the book. But then his mother explained to him that all he had to do was imagine the ending of the story. He could make it any way he wanted. Did he want a happy ending? A sad ending? He could make up multiple endings if he wanted to, and no story ever needed to have an ending that wasn’t happy if he wanted it to be happy.

It took Dag a few years to get it fully engrained, but eventually he got in the habit of not reading the last chapter of any book. Instead he would make up the ending that suited him.

Dag reviews the main events of the story. His ex-wife hires him to find her husband, his former best friend. He finds the former friend by way of the friend’s current mistress, who’s boyfriend knocks Dag unconscious. Dag’s office is ransacked by the former friend’s business partner, who happens also to be the ex-wife’s lover. Dag discovers that the former friend has been laundering money for an unknown client operating through a shady syndicate of thugs that tries to kill him by shoving him in the Chicago River. When he catches up with the former friend, he discovers that the friend has embezzled millions from the unnamed client and is in the process of giving it all to charity. Dag enters into the scheme but before he can follow through the former friend is murdered. Dag checks into a hospital to await a heart transplant, but is called by the thugs who have kidnapped Dag’s partner, Riley, and are holding her for ransom of the laptop that belonged to the former best friend. Dag discovers that the ex-wife’s lover is in on the kidnapping and breaks through a window knocking the lover over. In the process, the lover’s gun discharges and he is critically wounded. Dag flees with Riley, but the thugs are closing in on him when a friend from the FBI shows up with help. Dag ends up back in the hospital, but sacrifices his position in line for a heart-transplant so that a kid can have the heart, which happens to be donated by the lover. In the aftermath, Dag distributes all the former friend’s assets to the ex-wife, the mistress, and a number of charities, but never finds out who killed the former friend or who the mystery client is. Dag has sent Riley to find a possible key to the mystery in the form of a hexadecimal code tattooed to the wrist of the lover.

But now Dag is really tired. He really wants to solve this mystery. In fact, however, he is too tired just now to keep narrating, so he asks the readers to imagine their own “happy ending,” as he is imagining his.

End Chapter Thirty
End Book