The End

All his life Arthuro had been an accountant. He had a few friends with whom he drank a port or two after work, every night, on office days, they met at the cafe on the corner in the Barrio Alto. At the cafe there was room for four small tables, each with two chairs, while outside stood a table for four under a lemon tree. But this did not matter, for Arthuro had no more than three friends. The friends joked that there was not another friend because he would not have fitted the table, while they laughed at their common jest. In the weekend however, Arthuro stayed home, he told his friends that he was writing. On Monday evening his friends asked what it was he had been writing on over the weekend, but Arthuro never said more than his usual reply: ‘oh, nothing. What do you drink?’ to which his friends would reply: ‘Port Arthuro, as always,’ and no one remember they had asked.
One day Arthuro stopped visiting his friends at the cafe. The next day his friends heard he had died in his sleep two nights ago. When they attended the wake, Arthuro’s son showed them a thick packet of papers, a manuscript of more than five hundred pages.
‘Look, this is what my father has worked on all his life. I remember, he was writing on it when I was still a child. Did he ever talk about it to you?’
‘Well yes, of course. We knew he was writing every weekend, as he was not at the cafe. But he never said what it was about.’
‘Did you read it?’ the three friends asked, naturally curious of course.
‘Yes, yes, it’s a travel adventure about four men, each living in a different capital of a different continent of the world.’
‘One friend, Tomas, lives in New York City.’
Tomas nodded.
‘Another, Vasco, lives in Paris.’
Vasco frowned.
‘And a third, Antonio, lives in Hong Kong.’
Antonio said nothing.
‘The four are brothers know nothing about each other, but they all are looking for their unknown father, a sailor named Arthuro.’
‘How does it end?’ the friends simultaneously asked.
‘It doesn’t!’ the son replied.
‘The last hundred pages are not there. There should be another hundred pages because the story abruptly ends and skips to a final and empty page, numbered a hundred pages higher. I was hoping you would know about it.’ The son looked hopeful at the three men.
The friends sighed and shook their heads with regret.
After the wake the three men went to the cafe on the corner in the Barrio Alto, sat down at their regular spots, and ordered a port.

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