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Hutch

Tom Yoho was raised in the heart of the Southern California Sixties. The beach called to him and the waves they produce seduced him and formed his life. Only five foot six and just pushing 150 lbs., his carved and leathery skin draws taught over muscles usually reserved for kids half his age; and like kids half his age, he floats like driftwood between the islands fishing, surfing, and indulging in the sunburnt life of a kama'aina haole in Hawaii. He moved to the islands for the surf, immediately after graduating high school, to follow the fable of cheap tasty dope and 24-hour surfing. He hopped a charter and lived on the beach on Kauai, and smoked and ripped, smoked and ripped.

Tom Yoho is 40 and built like a steel trap. His days are spent broiling in the Hawaiian sun at the helm of a dive boat. His chest is wide but his frame is not imposing as he is lean and wiry. He has no chest hair and the hair of his legs is clear and bleached. Under a T-shirt, his body appears meek but he wears baggy comfortable clothes of light fabric. He often works without a shirt and his shorts ride low on very lean hips; his back curves from the lithe waist and flat belly in strong lats to firm charred shoulders and neck. His legs are spindly and strong and contrast sharply with the width of his chest. His arms lay in great bundles of lean fibre and the muscle is earned not worked-on. He moves dive tanks, aluminum 80's, all day long from the pier to the form-fitted boots at the stern of the boat; and then back to the pier at the end of the charter. Most of the muscle is remembered mass from years of paddling against the surf of Pipeline and Yokohama's. Its waves sculpted his figure in erosion's relief.

Tom's hands are sinewy and ugly. Their nails are thick and discolored. The veins on his arms, hands, and legs are on the surface and their serpents run just below his skin in the meandering style of a jungle river. The muscle has no room for veins. Tom always wears a pair of nylon surf shorts, a polo shirt advertising the dive shop, or a tank top heralding his latest mountain-bike exploits.

Tom smokes incessantly yet his teeth shine and his breath doesn't labor upon one with the heaviness of a smoker. Yet he smokes constantly, as do all the professional divers that Tom works with. Even though hyperbaric trauma and air embolisms are both the results of clogged lungs, none of the divers have taken heed of the dangers.

He is the fool and one perceives his demeanor as that of the sun-baked idiot, merely passing the time of day, but this is a misconception. He sees all and his talent is disguised by generosity and pedestrian humor. He is all-knowing and when diving, one is secure under his tutelage. He hovers, turning on forgotten air supplies, checks BC's, and alerts the dive masters of any diver who seems panicky. The hand signals abound and all is secure when Tom is captain.

Tom suffered, in his earlier days of care-free tomfoolery, from addiction. He was single, worked hard, and squandered his union-inflated paycheck on cocaine and marijuana. His wife Suzy, after marrying, became obsessed with the drugs and began to destroy Tom's credit, his relationship with his supplier, and ultimately, them both, even if for only a little while (When nearly at the bottom, one can never really get any lower and he has always been able to reclaim his care-free lifestyle in time.)

Tom's skin is extremely burnt and skin cancer is imminent. Any scraping of his skin sends rivulets of blood pouring forth. Any scratch that that would be nothing to pliable younger skin tears his and gives him the haggard appearance of a man much older. He wears huge glasses in faux amber frames: one pair is clear glass, the other is shaded and serves as sunglasses. He cannot wear contacts, and without his glasses his is nearly blind.

Once the charm of the tilting palms and the salty clean water cleared from his sun-baked hair, work needed to be found and he took up the profession of the young Jesus: carpentry. He liked to stay late forming surfboards for his friends and making himself little additions to his small open shack. His favorite creations were hutches; really easy to put together and a welcome addition to a cluttered desk. He became obsessed by the wood workings and often, after a morning of slopping in the waves and toking in the sweet pot smoke with his friends, he retreated to the shop to hack together planks of balsa or press-board into an intricate clumsy culmination of in- and out-boxes, letter holders, pen cups, coffee rings, and integrated phone mounts; these he would give to his friends and they began to call him "Hutch."

Hutch has clear blue eyes and bleached-out hair pulled back in a pony tail. He adamantly professes that he has had his hair long since the 60's and nowadays people don't do it out of politics anymore but rather for fashion's sake.

Now Hutch is a boat captain working charters out of Waianae boat harbor, Leeward side of Oahu. His dive boat, "The Deeper the Better," is quite new and he spends hours keeping her clean and becomes uncharacteristically nasty when one tracks mud onto her white fiberglass deck.

He has recently taken mountain biking very seriously. Tom's best friend is Dave and the only thing that they have in common are mountain biking, Rum and Cokes, and getting stoned. Getting stoned is a major part of Tom's life. Tom owns a blue pick-up, a low-end Toyota, and has a rack in the bed for Trekker and another bike. The cab has the burned in sweetness of pot smoke laced in with Marlboro Lights.

Tom's life has always been seasoned by the sea. His first experience was as a deck hand on a fishing boat. The waters off the Leeward island are bursting with Oceanic sport fish but the whole region is protected by the fish and game sect of N.O.A.A.. Tom, Eugene, the captain of "The Happy Hooker," and Birth, the guy who scored Tom the job, sailed out all over the Leeward island picking fish out of the water day and night. The fish came so readily that the captain became arrogant and spent his idle time drinking bottles of vodka. One night, one-hundred thousand dollars worth of vessel ran aground and self-destructed off French Frigate Shoals. All their fish and nearly their lives were lost before a plane responded to their distress signals. There were heavy fines levied and the captain lost everything, and subsequently so did Tom.

Suzy works for an adventure company and ran away with a 22 year old co-worker and married him while married to Tom. Tom's wife left him after being married for nearly twelve years; she took off with a guy she works with while conducting a wilderness adventure in Colorado. Tom's ex-wife, Suzy, used to ski professionally. She was popular and spent many years shushing slopes all over the world, winning gold for the National Team. A tragic crash in Argentina ended her career.

She and Tom met while she was on holiday in Hawaii and he was pumping her gas. His island savvy and swarthy freedom seduced her and they married informally at city-hall in Honolulu not six months later.

When Tom divorced her, she came back and offered herself to him. He kicked her out and called her new husband and left a deftly scalding voice mail, alerting him that his wife had just offered herself up to him and that she was a hoary user-of-men.

Suzy was never able to have children and, as a result, their adopted sons and daughters are parrots and cockatails. When the divorce was final, Tom became adamant about keeping the brightly hued avians. He threatened to kill Suzy if any of the birds went missing.

Tom is proud of having been a carpenter. He reminisces about the houses he built on Kauai and, when driving with him through the narrow roads of that island, he takes elaborate detours to show you the mastery of his work. He also brags that he has lived in a dozen or so houses in his twenty years in the islands. These houses are very alike and built speedily for economy and lie very near the ocean. They are all children to Tom and he tells of the successful mini-harvests he was able to cultivate and then smoke in their small gardens.

Tom is an adept and powerful mountain biker and can easily keep a strong pace up in the roughest of conditions. He often smokes while riding, always stopping for smoke breaks (both tobacco and pakalolo), and spends much time coughing and hacking and spitting in the morning before he can consume the vast quantities of oxygen it takes to power a bike up an incline that challenges a hiker, to say the least a bike. His bike is named "Trekker" and is "tricked out" with suspension and new "aggro" tires. He often takes weekends off work and hires a Lincoln Town Car, takes some friends, and heads out to Kauai to brave the cutting jutting mountains of Koke'e and Awa'awapui. The trails are long and arduous, not to mention life-threatening, but Tom attacks them in his guiless child-like aplomb.

Tom is polite and cordial to everyone and has a strong sense of moral justice. He has never screwed anyone over and never intends to. Even so, he is quite prejudice against Filipinos, Samoans, Blacks, and just about everyone else; even though in close quarters he is kind to all races; it does not appear to be a racism of malicious intent but more of a cultural convention divined at an early age. He believes that many of the "darker races" have done him wrong and it is their habit. He also loves ethnic humor but his biased against Filipinos the worst as they are "closest to the ape."

Prejudice is something that Tom doesn't conceal but also tries to hide. The tendency for foot-in-mouth disease is a Tom specialty. He once jibed a new acquaintance about the heftiness of a lady diver just to find out that she was the fellow's wife and lover. Things of this nature always happen and Tom hides behind his well-constructed veil of ineptitude and back country-ness. It covers him well because one excuses his faux pas as being merely the ejaculations of a half-wit. The truth is that Tom is aware, accurately, of the fool's ability to gain power from his "master's" own perception that his ignorance is not a threat.

Tom is happiest when mountain biking, having a Rum and Coke, and smoking choice buds; but, unfortunately he comes into the most terrific conflicts. He played high school football and uses its tactics to take out anybody who threatens him. He is a fierce animal when riled and his most recent exploit had him smashing a Filipino youth to the concrete wall of a bus-stop shelter. The boy tried to steal Tom's book bag so Tom grabbed the boy and splattered him against the wall with such force that Tom heard the "sound of bones cracking."

©1995 Chris Abraham