You might well infer that this blog tells of the end for Thierry and Pepi. While, as ever, you'll just have to wait and see ... You're actually probably spot on. (Saying that, if anyone does fancy commissioning a final few chapters just get in touch. Seriously. My co-writer could do with a job.)
The final chapter begins with a slow pan across a sorrowful scene. I'd add maybe a sunset and then some dark clouds rolling in for dramatic effect. And Pepi, melancholy and lonely as ever, stares in silence. And Thierry, headache feeling worse than ever, cannot believe what he sees.
Dora is being strapped to a 4x4. Thierry and Pepi have never been more than colleagues to old Dora and they are shocked to see her in such a compromising position. Lyrita, having lain low since Pepi's rejection, is lying even lower now. She remains locked to the canoe and it is clear that this evil nemesis has lost her chance to paddle at sea. The flag has been untied, the water bottle holder has been unclipped; the continent-crossing team has been disbanded.
Morosely, Pepi mourns the tasks which he once moaned about. No more pulling against downstream currents. No more directing down the Danube. No more splashing at sea. While Thierry recognizes that his life will now change, he sees it as an opportunity for something other than mood-setting alliteration.
Thierry assets that he and Pepi are still capable of sandwich-making in the middle of nowhere and can find plenty of other uses as land-lubbers.
Thierry sees himself as inevitably useful and at one with his master. He could be a walking stick. He, despite his slightly wooden characterization, could become a fighting man to face stray dogs. At worst, with his experience in shipping he could carry some luggage? Pepi, wishing that Thierry would find a way to make a point other than via repetitive sentence structure, just wants to be loved.
Luckily, Master Wilkins and Master Warner can put an end to the anxiety that you're inevitably feeling on the paddles' behalf. Thierry and Pepi are to become mementos.
As the masters march through mountains they recognize the beauty and hardship of their paddles. They merely wish to commemorate their faithful servants.
Master Warner envisages Pepi as part of a table: embedded whole down the centre of an oak master piece. Pepi's melancholy mood would be the perfect setting for thoughtful conversation after dinner. Master Wilkins envisages Thierry sitting on his wall: looking down on Master Wilkins, taped forehead a lasting reminder of the tested but unbroken bond between man and going-moldy-bit-of-wood.
So there you have it, an anti-climax if ever there was one. Two young explorers in a foreign land complete their quests and retire, with one guaranteed food nearby and the other guaranteed an unbelievably good-looking view. Happily ever after.
If only it was that simple for all of us.