“The future isn’t here yet,” he said.

He was an unusual roommate,

up at all hours of the night,

typing or composing music.

“Why do you do it?” I asked. “You’re not any good.”

“I hope to surprise myself. If you gamble, there’s always a chance you could win,” he said.

He flew a plane on the weekends. It was pointless. He didn’t go anywhere, but it mattered to him.

“You spend 8 dollars for a gallon of gas and 100 dollars for flying lessons… Why?” I asked.

“Why not?”

“There’s no point.”

“Why do anything?”

“To get ahead. To save money.”


“For when it rains.”

The stories kept pouring out of him at night, and the rejections came back—not all of them—their silence was contempt for his optimism. Eventually, bitterness set in, like a poison, and he began to disparage the publishing industry.

“You or me, don’t stand a chance,” he said. “It’s just a writers’ club for the literary elite.”

“I’ve been telling you that for years,” but my agreeing with him didn’t make him feel any better.

“It’s easier to destroy things than to build them up,” he said. “I should’ve been a destroyer, rather than a creator.”

He began to mess-around with chemistry and electronics.

He enrolled at the local community college and got good grades.

It was then, that I suspected he was building a bomb. I wasn’t worried for myself, or society—with his luck, he would probably blow himself up.

I watched game shows and TV reruns in the interim.

Building a bomb gave him a purpose. He could put his frustration towards filing-away identifying information on bomb components.

I encouraged him, when I could, and began to drink beer in bed. I thought about smoking, but it would cost too much. I wanted to kill myself, while keeping costs down at the same time.

Oddly, my roommate began to get positive again, while planning the destruction of the city.

“I’ll do it at night to minimize casualties,” he told me.

“You know, by telling me this, you’ve implicated me. If I don’t turn you in, I’ll go to prison for the rest of my life.”

“Then you better pray that I don’t get caught,” he said. “If you talk…” He drew his finger across his throat.

I had to do something, but my philosophy had always been to do nothing.

The next day, I opened the apartment, and found his body scattered across the floor, and a smokey residue.

“I’m right,” I muttered. “Do nothing, and the problem solves itself. Come to think of it, the editors at the New Yorker are probably saying the same thing.”

I went back to watching TV.

Life was easy.


2 thoughts on “The Hobbyist

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