Jump

Illustration by Mitch Handsone

It’s lonely here. There’s no one left to torture.

—Leonard Cohen

When I shared a house with my friend Sam, who was going through a divorce, his two sons, Reuben and Asher, would visit sometimes, sometimes stay overnight. The younger one, Asher, liked to stay up very late jumping up and down on a trampoline for hours on end while listening to early Leonard Cohen.

I myself have occasionally been drawn to unorthodox mixtures of sound and exercise, such as listening to Beethoven in the left channel and the Minutemen in the right while working out with free weights. Even so, while Asher seemed to be enjoying himself, it was hard for me to conceive of the Canadian poet’s notoriously bittersweet, lingering meditations accompanying anything more athletic than, say, housecleaning through a rainy Sunday afternoon.

What state of mind would I have to be in, I wondered, usually around 4 a.m., to want to mix a trampoline with a Leonard Cohen?

***

Dear Mr. Schulberg,

Thank you for your application. Unfortunately, Blue Noose of California is unable to offer you health insurance at this time. Please refer to the data below for details:

FU-451: Applicant’s pre-existing body exhibits evidence of mortality, requiring expensive treatments with food, clothing and shelter.

FU-1492: Applicant’s pre-existing mind is being treated with new improved Cerebrew™, manufactured by LillyFist®, makers of Cocktor™ and THSeaBreeze™. Check out our Web site and ask your doctor if Cerebrew™, Cocktor™ and THSeaBreeze™ might be right for you!

Sincerely,
Soulless Fucking-Android, CEO
Blue Noose of California

***

Dear Mr. Fucking-Android,

Thank you for rejecting my recent health-insurance application. I regret that I am unable to contribute financially to your upcoming sex tour of Thailand, and hope that your stockholders will accept my sincere apology for my parents having fucked in the first place.

There is no excuse for my corporate inadequacies, per se, but there is an explanation. You see, the factory where I work is undergoing many changes. Without getting into details, last year I was told that the only way to keep my union job (metaphysical janitor), with full health benefits, was to be fisted by Satan each morning at 9 a.m. sharp.

I realize that such demands are not unusual in today’s workplace, but I’ve never been partial to girth beyond a 36 ring size in my bum, so, unable to fulfill the new duties required of me, I accepted my employer’s only other option: to resign from the union job and accept a small stipend to publish a pornographic gossip column in the company’s weekly employee newsletter.

Owing to the high cost of Photoshop filters used to overproduce the newsletter, my company cannot, alas, offer health-care coverage for freelance contributors such as I’ve become. I was, however, given the opportunity to pay 20 percent of my income to maintain health-insurance coverage via COBRA for the past 14 months, until the premium was inexplicably raised by a whopping 30 percent, which I can no longer afford to pay.

Care to hear more?

Sincerely,
Dave Shulman
Los Angeles

***

Dear Mr. Steinberg,

Yes, do go on.

Sincerely,
Soulless Fucking-Android, CEO
Blue Noose of California

***

Dear Mr. Fucking-Android,

Okay. So I went online to see if I could contribute to your $60 million annual salary in some way that would allow me access to a nice clean hospital bed in which, when the right cancer found me, to properly die. I compared prices and found that your company offered the convenient DieRight5000 Plan for just 15 percent of my monthly income, with a $5,000 deductible and no prescription-drug coverage, so I applied.

I was surprised to receive your letter stating that I was not qualified for any coverage through your company, owing to my pre-existing mortality and use of an antidepressant called Cerebrew™.

Thinking this was a Blue Noose–specific variance, I applied to three other major insurance companies, and was rejected by each one for the same reasons. Each company stated, as did yours, that they are required by law to offer me a special “high-risk” policy, but these policies unfortunately cost the same as my monthly rent and food combined.

Without insurance, my therapeutic dosage of Cerebrew™ — the only product that tames my depression — will cost approximately $300 monthly, which I can’t afford, and so I’ll soon be visited by either the Keeper of Interminable Darkness, the Tar-Faced Possum of Ceaseless Gloom or the Cajun-Style Pan-Fried Catfish of Everlasting Void, who will guide me ever downward into the depths of suicidal depression. There, unable to write my pornographic gossip column, I’ll soon be without income, which, I’m sad to say, will have no positive effect on your stockholders’ portfolios.

As a patriotic American, I’m of course greatly concerned: Without the income necessary to subscribe to your traditional extortion services, how may I best dispose of myself in a manner befitting your stockholders’ God-given right to 20 percent annual profits?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

All the best,
Dave Shulman
Los Angeles

***

Dear Mr. Schoenstein,

Thank you for your interest in Blue Noose of California. We are sorry to hear that you are unable to contribute to President Bush’s re-election campaign via your insurance premium. As a trusted leader in community development, Blue Noose of California is more than happy to assist you with your suicide at a special reduced rate. Please refer to the data below for details:

SUI86a: BNC will push you off of a bridge in lovely Pasadena. $138.

SUI86b: BNC will drown you in a vat of toxic waste (as seen in Robocop). $294.

SUI86c: BNC will poke out your eyes, cut off your tongue, hogtie you and drop you from a helicopter onto the Ronald Reagan Freeway while the pilot sings “America the Beautiful” through a bullhorn. $420.

The choice is yours!™

Again, we at Blue Noose of California appreciate your business and wish you and the family you would have had the most painful and untimely of deaths. Check out our Web site and ask your doctor if Cerebrew™, Cocktor™ and THSeaBreeze™ might be right for you!

Sincerely,
Soulless Fucking-Android, CEO
Blue Noose of California

***

Sam finished his divorce, met someone else, got remarried and bought a house. Now he’s my landlord again — I live in his garage.

Sam travels often — sometimes to visit his sons, who live far, far away. And when he’s gone, I’m allowed to hang out in his house.

Found the trampoline upstairs, leaning against a wall behind a chair; dragged it into the living room, popped in The Best of Leonard Cohen and started jumping.