THE JUMP OFF: The Sam Lipsyte Players

By

RASKOV’S HEAD, shya scanlon

“There was something melon-y and inviting about Raskov’s head.”

There was something melon-y and inviting about Raskov’s head. So I was worried. The company had practically brought Gallagher out of retirement for this party, and rumor was he’d have his Sledge-O-Matic. No one I’d spoken to had ever actually seen Gallagher, and more than one person thought for sure he’d already died.

“Wasn’t it a stroke?” asked Susan, nursing her third Appletini.

Tom frowned, shaking his head. “Gum disease,” he slurred.

“Can you die from gum disease?”

“You can die from anything,” said Jared. Jared was in billing.

Under an hour later, toward the end of the predictably embarrassing act, an assistant began to pass around disposable raincoats. Raskov, who was sitting up front, waved the woman on.

Gallagher pulled a small table into the clearing that had formed in front of him. Then he began to pace.

“It’s not a slicer, it’s not a dicer,” he began.

Everyone seemed to grow a little uncomfortable. Everyone except Raskov. And when the Sledge-O-Matic came down on the first Granny Smith, the Oooo’ing and Ahhh’ing was underwhelming. Gallagher dutifully proceeded to go through a container of cottage cheese, two cartons of chocolate milk, a tube of AIM toothpaste, but it wasn’t until he got into the office supplies that people seemed to perk up.

Suzy from New Accounts was hit in the eye with the letter Q from an ergonomic keyboard, and simply bent down to pick it up, raising it into the air like a trophy. The crowd exploded, chanting “Su-zy Q! Su-zy Q!”

Then a hush fell over the room. I stood on a chair to get a better view, and saw my soon-to-be ex-coworker, tears generously wetting his cheeks, stand and embrace the comedian, then lean over and place his smooth, bulbous dome on the table. Jared was lying face down in a puddle of vomit. Susan had taken Tom into a corner office.

Gallagher stood back slowly, then raised the Sledge high over his head, like a preacher raising his hands to Jesus, a priest who in one fell swoop would forgive us all.

Raskov closed his eyes. “This really brings back memories,” he said.

___


Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art. She is the Deputy Editor of Flavorpill and has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Unsaid, The Believer, Everyday Genius, Guernica, elimae, and Esquire.com. She blogs at The Astonishing Egg and is The Rumpus New York Editor. More from this author →