Fiction

Death on the Installation Plan

“We’ll consider your contract fulfilled in the event of your death.”

Department of Customer Relations
Raj Inc. Power Tower
Toronto, Ontario

April 7, 2008

Dear Mr. Keehn:

Thank you for signing a two-year contract for a Raj Best Choice Cable Internet, Television, and Cellular Service Bundle.

Unfortunately, due to business realities imposed on Raj Inc. by the recent discovery of a scientific force known as “profit gravity” and ongoing price gouging by Lola’s Executive Massage, Raj has been forced to alter all two-year agreements. Henceforth, a two-year term will be interpreted as a four-year obligation, which will be taken to mean eight years, which will in turn represent commitments of sixteen, thirty-two, and sixty-four, then through death to x n-> ? years. This is not, please understand, a corporate decision so much as a consequence of the immutable laws of physics and Lola’s rapacious yet loving touch. Any upcoming private island acquisitions by our imperial board should be viewed as purely coincidental.

In response to concerns from our valued customers about these exciting new xn->infinity-year bundles, Raj is pleased to announce an offer for those who thought they were signing two-year contracts: Raj Formidable Choice End-of-Life Cable and Cellular Contract Fulfillment Insurance!

Each of us, at one time or another in our lives, dies. At Raj, we believe death’s abundant bounty should be reaped by friends, family, and tax collectors, not providers of technological services. So for an escalating fee of our choosing — discoverable by logging in each month at raj.ca and sending us an updated financial profile adorned with a photo of yourself in a morally compromising position — we’ll consider your contract fulfilled in the event of your death, and will waive all charges for early termination.1

We’re sure you’ll agree that Formidable Choice Insurance is the best way to avoid owing Raj tens of thousands of dollars upon your death, thereby forcing us to send a notoriously ill-tempered collection agency after your heirs (Denise, the twins, the Canadian Cancer Society . . . everyone).

Some customers have responded to this offer with confusion. Why, they ask, would I want to end my relationship with Raj just because I’ve died?

Indeed. So on behalf of those subscribers who want to continue enjoying great Raj entertainment in the afterlife, we’re thrilled to announce the replacement of the Best Choice Bundle with our new Eternal Bride of Raj Heavenly Choice Bundle!

With this non-negotiable upgrade, we’ll garnishee your wages and direct the money to a special trust account created in your name. Then, when Theo Raj’s henchman has finished soaking his garrotte in your neck plasma, we’ll bury you in a comely coffin featuring Raj cable TV and Woohoo! Internet services so you can enjoy great Raj entertainment as you unwind in the soothing shadow of death.

In case you’re worried you’ll miss out on the wondrous offers Raj concocts in the days before tomb raiders scavenge your crypt for copper wire and ritual bones, we’ll also outfit your corpse with a two-way headset connected to our call centre in St. John’s. If you decline to say no when we offer you additional services, we’ll simply assume you want them and extract the cost from your trust.

We’re sure you’ll agree this is a “great deal for the great beyond.” Just let us know which custom casket you’d like to be buried in, and one of our forensic accountants will take care of the rest.2

Thank you for choosing a two-year Best Choice Bundle.

* * * * *

1Formidable Choice benefits apply only to deaths adjudged by a Raj-approved coroner to be the direct responsibility of Raj Inc. Fatal acts of God known to be triggered by Raj-issued cellphones — including, but not limited to, earthquake, locust swarm, and archangel attack — are not covered.

In the event death is adjudged the responsibility of Raj Inc. — for instance, following the inevitable ordering of a hit on the customer by our ceo, Theophus Raj, Esq. — the customer agrees not to hold Raj Inc. liable for civil damages. Should criminal proceedings ensue, the customer agrees to have his or her estate executors instruct key witnesses to perjure themselves, thereby absolving Theophus Raj of any responsibility for his unquenchable bloodthirst.

2Due to the current vogue for philosophical determinism in academic circles, Raj Inc. has been forced to void all Formidable Choice Insurance policies and to rechristen Heavenly Choice Bundles as Private Island Fund Bundles. This is not, please understand, a corporate decision so much as a deduction by Laplace’s demon (look it up on Woohoo!, chump).

Jeremy Keehn is an editor at Harper’s Magazine, and a former senior editor at The Walrus.