I’m not going to kill you. I wanted to get that piece of information out in the open straight off so there’s no misunderstanding – so you can be completely open and relaxed with me. You’re going to survive this conversation. You’re even going to be able to walk away on your own once we’re done talking, you and me. Your life is in no danger, so put any thoughts of escape or running off out of your head and listen.
Now that you know your worst fears won’t be realized, you should be able to focus with a clear mind. That’s important, because you really need to hear what I have to say and understand it. This is about your life. Not about losing it because, as I said, that’s not going to happen right now. If anything, this is a more serious threat. It’s about you wasting your life.
You’re on the wrong path, you see. I know it’s a strange thing to hear coming from a man like me. I can hardly claim to be on the right path myself. I hurt people for a living. I’m not a hitman or an assassin. I’m what cops or reporters sometimes call an enforcer. I don’t like to be called that. It sounds too formal. In the business, they sometimes call my sort a soldier, and I don’t much care for that either. It makes my profession sound honourable, official, part of a noble collective, and it’s sure not that. If I ever filed a tax return, and I was being honest – two big “ifs” – I’d write “thug” in the space they leave for you to state your profession. I’m a thug. I hurt people. Sometimes I hurt people so bad, they die. When that happens, it’s usually on purpose, but I still wouldn’t call myself a hitman or an assassin. I’ve met a few of them and those people are cold. People like that would never take the time out to have a conversation like we’re having right now. So I guess you should be glad you’re stuck talking to a thug. Believe me, in my world there are many people of few words you don’t ever want to have to talk to.
You’re young. You have your whole life ahead of you if you don’t get too busy trying to shorten it. Lately you’ve been pissing off the wrong people. The sort of people who keep me on speed dial and pay me a monthly retainer to do what I do whenever they need me to do it. These people – and I’m sure you’ve already guessed who I’m talking about – wanted me to send you a message. Not like a memo, or a greeting card, or a love letter. These kinds of messages are expressed in broken bones and spilled blood.
Take it easy. I’m not going to get violent with you. I like you. Really, I do. So I want to make this as simple and painless as possible. For the both of us.
You see these? These are pruning shears. They’re like little hedge clippers you use to trim bushes. Now you’re going to hold still while I take a finger. Just one. And no, we’re not going to argue about it. You see, it’s important that you remember this conversation for the rest of your life. The longer you remember it, the longer that life will be. Think of this like that old trick of tying a string around your finger to remind you of something. It’s just like that. Only the finger won’t be there anymore.
There’s a hospital just a few blocks away. Apply some pressure, try not to pass out, they’ll fix you up fine. They could probably even reattach the finger, but they won’t be doing that. I’ll have to hold onto it, I’m afraid. You see, you’re getting off light here. But the finger will serve as proof that I’ve done something to you. Something permanent. It’s kind of like a receipt for the message I’ve delivered. You understand?
I knew you would. You’re a real sport.