How to Dress Well – A Novel is entirely fictional. This story has literally no affiliation to do with the life of Tom Krell or his music project, How to Dress Well. Short of using his name and that of his music project, nothing in this story is based upon reality. His album Love Remains was a great inspiration for me, so much so that it served as the inspiration for a creative writing class. In this novel, I imagine a fictional Krell and the circumstances of creating such a beautiful, haunting work. Having never met Krell, the character of Tom Krell herein has no basis in the former. I mean nothing but the greatest respect for Tom Krell and his music, and hope that this story is simply seen as a creative extension, done by a fan, from a fantastic album.
Chapter One: Love Remains
I had wished things turned out differently for us, but life or fate simply had other plans. I cannot deny the pain you inflicted and I would never try to pretend otherwise. But know: this is not on you. This is and has been my life and was never your responsibility. People face adversity much greater than I and manage through it, but I simply have been defeated. You said your peace and made your apology, and for that, you did all you could do. Most of all, when you said your heart was beginning to fade and I was angry and I told you I agreed. I was lying. And now I know, love remains.
Tom Krell lays naked facedown in his white bedroom beside his white bed. He has just consumed a lethal dose of XX and drank several bottles of red wine to take his own life. It’s 10:01 p.m. (CEST) and he hasn’t eaten in approximately 27 hours. In his room is the only non-white item, a wood, burgundy desk where his suicide note sits alongside his just-completed dissertation. He has not telephoned anyone in over ninety hours or made intentions of his suicide clear to anyone. Instead, he’s written an extremely verbose, personalized goodbye letter to friends and relatives. It was 8:20 p.m. when he began dictating the note to himself while finishing his first bottle of homemade red wine. Initially written to “the people closest to [him]”, he changed the tone of the letter to be individually directed. Twelve minutes later, he committed the words to paper, nearly verbatim from his dictation. Until 9:56 p.m. he wrote the note at which point he signed his name, folded the paper and placed it in an envelope. He kissed the seal and wrote “How to Dress Well” on the main side. Faint stains of wine appear on the envelope after consuming his second bottle of wine. The note and dissertation are placed side-by-side on the otherwise empty desk, while his other belongings are nearly stored beneath. Anything of value (computers, electronics, antiques, etc.) is to be donated to local schools in need.
He goes to the bathroom one final time before pouring a large glass of water in a mason jar. He took three pills at first drink, three at the second, four at the third, six at the fouth, three at the fifth, and ten at the sixth. There is one final elusive pill in the bottle, which he fishes out and swallows. He took one final drink of water before retiring to his bedroom.
To his mother was the greatest apology: an unconditional atonement and taking of responsibility and an unconditional apology. With realized irony, he asks her a favor in the letter which he struggles to do as it passes responsibility onto the living. His note is a goodbye and an explanation only. There was to be no ambiguity or confusion. What is said is closure – devastating and potentially indigestible, yes, but also thorough and final. As he lays on the ground, he replays parts of the letter in his head as the final strains of consciousness are retained.
We never connected, but that has nothing to do with this. You treated me with love, respect and dignity. We are simply different people with different courses in life. We may not share similar values or be able to talk at length, but I know we share a respect for our fellow man. This is why you have earned my unfailing respect. You could not have saved me. You did everything you could do as a father. And that was enough. For me, my problems lay elsewhere, out of your scope. I hope you will never change.