“Tome” is the first short story in Maile Meloy’s short story collection Half in Love. The story centers on an unnamed woman lawyer, who's also the narrator, and her client Sawyer. A construction worker, Sawyer is upset about an accident on a worksite. Sawyer received workers' compensation, so he can’t make a tort claim. In other words, Sawyer can’t sue the contractor for negligence or misconduct. The lawyer tells Sawyer this, but Sawyer doesn’t believe her, so the lawyer drives him to another tort lawyer. When this lawyer explains the situation, Sawyer believes him, since, according to the narrator, this lawyer is a man.
On the way back from the male tort lawyer, Sawyer says some distributing things to the narrator. He tells her he wants to kill everyone with a shotgun and wishes his wife would get in a car accident. A week later, Sawyer does something reckless and holds someone hostage—a Samoan person who goes by Big Man. The hostage crisis happens in the middle of the night. The lawyer is called to the scene. She finds Big Man and Sawyer cordially discussing Sawyer’s football-playing days and Big Man’s connection to royalty.
Sawyer has a plan to escape, but the lawyer undercuts him by telling police that he’s going out the front of the building. Sawyer winds up in jail. The lawyer visits him and discovers that Sawyer’s wife has left him for another person in prison.