by Nate Hoil, January 10th 2023
Tom Yacht never worked hard. It was difficult for him to do anything, no matter what he was trying to do. In the office of his employer, Tom Yacht told his bosses he was tired of breaking his back for them. Then he went home and slumped down, and broke his back sitting on the couch.
“Gahhhh!” Tom screamed as his body molded into the cushions. His surprise was followed by comfort. He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. There was no point in setting any goals for the day.
When he started to get hungry, he called his ex-girlfriend and explained his situation.
“Your back’s not broken,” his ex-girlfriend said when she got there, arms folded angrily standing over him in his living room. She let out a puff of air, and made her way out the door. Tom got up and followed her.
“I love you,” Tom said in an inaudible mumble.
“You’re incapable of everything worth doing,” she responded as she shut the door behind her.
Tom Yacht lived in the apartment above mine, and I always heard his footsteps on the ceiling, following me from room to room. If I went in the bedroom, I would hear him walk above me. If I went to the bathroom, we would flush our toilets at the same time.
“What are you doing?!” I shouted to the ceiling. “Why are you following me around?!” I heard Tom’s footsteps walk out his door, and down the stairs to mine. He knocked one time, then before I could answer, he made another single knock on the door.
Tom’s face always looked like he was working through answers to a quiz. This was because he was always having interviews with himself inside his head. Still, he was never prepared when someone asked him a question.
“Why are you always following me around?!” I said again. He had nothing to offer in response.
Actually, he had nothing to offer at all. He was a shivering toddler, alone in the world. He was 30 years old, and depending on what angle you look at him, he sometimes looked like a semi-realistic self-portrait of himself. Back upstairs, I could hear him fumble with his keys for hours, never finding one that turned the lock.
I began to notice that Tom Yacht only left his apartment to buy groceries. First I would hear him put his boots on without untying the laces. Later he would stomp back up to his door, and drop all his plastic bags on my ceiling with a loud CRACK.
One day I heard him leaving, and talking loudly on the phone:
“I am going to the store. THE STORE! YOU HEAR ME??” He sounded like he was stomping snow onto a rug. I waited for him to travel down the stairs, letting the complex’s door slam shut behind him, then I followed him out there, keeping a few yards behind.
He moved through the streets with his head unusually high, like he was pretending to be a giraffe. The store was three blocks away, and we spun through the revolving doors, taking long and powerful strides up the escalator and into the store’s produce section. I followed him through the aisles, and whenever I saw him grab something off the shelves, I placed identical items into my basket.
With one hand dangling his basket’s plastic handle, Tom Yacht sniffed a perfectly red tomato. His nose flattened against its skin like he was pressing his face against a pane of glass. As he did this, my eyes fell upon it: a half mashed and brown tomato resting on the floor. I reached for it, and lifted it up. Firmly, I pressed the mushy fruit into my face. For a moment, it was though I had never been born.
Whenever Tom Yacht went outdoors, he acted as though the atmosphere couldn’t contain his spirit. Walking through the wilderness, with his grocery bags in his hand, the trees looked like an arena full of screaming fans. He lowered his hat over his eyes. He was famous, but only in his mind.
After telling this story, I will hopefully never think of him again.
You can say what you want about Tom Yacht, but one thing was true: he played by his own rules. Once he made the rules, he would never ever break them. Every morning he woke up, the day may as well have been over. Truthfully, I am running out of things to tell you. Tom Yacht wasn’t very interesting to me. And no one knows what the future will hold, so this story has no real ending. But if I have to leave you, I will leave you with this: a bright light shining on Tom Yacht, and all the woodland creatures reciting a prayer in his name.