As Miles Halter was lowered into the ground, everyone standing around that hole in the ground felt it. As that boy was lowered into the fucking ground, never to give me a gawky smile or guzzle beer or do fucking anything ever again. Fucking gone. Just like that. Fucking gone.
Even the masculine, never weak Colonel was babbling and gasping with more tears than I knew one boy could hold, choking out indecipherable words and fucking babbling on about Miles Halter who will never fucking do anything ever again.
Neither me or the Colonel saw this coming. Hell, if one of us was going to die, I would've bet me. I'm the one who was usually drunk or stoned (maybe both). I'm the one who did stupid, fucking reckless things like get in a car and drive drunk and kill myself.
That's not to say he was drunk. When the group of us, even Takumi and Lara, came crashing into the police station after The fucking Eagle had the nerve to tell us, the police didn't have much to tell us. It was a car crash, but Pudge wasn't drunk, and the truck driver, who Pudge hit said that Miles didn't swerve over. He didn't try to escape the semi truck barreling at him.
Our reactions must've been a sight to see. The Colonel, eyes suddenly growing wide and jaw slack, until he went from dumbstruck to angry, crumpling to the floor of the dorm, slamming his fists repeatedly against the floor until The Eagle had to get Takumi and I to drag him out. And then Lara, who couldn't stop asking questions about what happened and who did it and why and why and how and why did Miles Halter have to die, why would he do this, why did he die, why, why why. Takumi threw back his head and just screamed and screamed until he didn't have a noise left in him, and then he just let his raspy voice scream anyway.
I took the cake, though it's not a title I'm necessarily proud of. I sobbed and sobbed and cried and screamed and sobbed and bawled all through the school assembly and the car ride to the funeral home and all through meeting his parents and for several days afterwards. I forgot about eating and drinking and showering and anything that normal people to do and wailed and wailed.
"Dammit, Pudge, dammit," I heard Colonel whisper beside me as we all stood around the hole, which seemed impossibly small for someone like Pudge.
I was flanked by a whimpering Colonel on side and a murmuring Takumi on the other, with Lara next to him and The Eagle after her. I wondered if he would come at all considering Pudge was one of us, but I suppose Pudge had no major pranks to his name. And now he's fucking gone.
Dr. Hyde was there also, reading some sort of funeral sermon. He mentioned a bit about last words, which brought everyone back to tears considering nobody would ever know Pudge's last words.
The Colonel reached for my hand as Dr. Hyde spoke, and he just squeezed my fingers as tight as he could, his hands clammy. When I let my eyes wander to his face, I saw his red, puffy eyes and tear stained face. I didn't blame him.
Pudge's parents were on the other side of the hole with a few relatives. They were quiet and sniffled together, one black mass of people nodding and crying together. Truthfully, there were less of them than I expected, but Pudge never talked much about his home life. Probably because after he heard what Colonel and I had to say, it just didn't seem right to talk about his own problems.
There had to be a problem for him to do this. I noticed that even the truck driver was there, the one Pudge had collided with. From what the police had told us, he was really upset about Pudge and how he didn't swerve. How he didn't move out of the way, even though he probably had time.
The Colonel broke down into a series of loud cries as Dr. Hyde reached the end of the sermon.
"Ah, the Great Perhaps. Perhaps, just perhaps, he didn't need any remarkable last words because there are no words that could sum up Miles Halter."
It was because of Pudge that I didn't learn — and now don't remember — anything from my high school years at Culver Creek. I tried to pay a little more attention to Dr. Hyde after Pudge, but I didn't understand it like he did. There were no solid answers. Pudge understood that, but I never did.
Which is why while Colonel and I and the rest of us have searched tirelessly for an idea as to why Pudge did what he did, we haven't come up with anything. Pudge was the one who could understand and compromise with abstract ideas and abstract answers. And what an abstract puzzle this is.