His Witness

By: Vanessa Waltz


“Please, stop!”

Please, stop. Please, stop!

It’s useless noise. The words roll right over my shoulders. The noises he makes are like paper clips thrown at a brick wall. They do nothing to me.

I flinch as a particularly loud scream stabs my ears, and for a second I consider slashing open his throat to kill the noise. It’s always the same fucking thing. Same routine. I catch them. I torture them. They scream, beg, fight, and then they die. All of them.

A man in my position has an intoxicating amount of power. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it goes to my head. I might not decide who dies, but I decide how they die. Sometimes there’s information I’ll need to extract from them, but most of the time I’m just fucking with them. There’s an artistry to what I do. You think it’s easy to break someone, to wear them down until there’s nothing left? It’s not. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of guts. Not many people can do what I do.

Sure, there are plenty of fucking psychos out there who’d gladly take my job, but are they trustworthy? Can you count on a guy who acts as if he’s got nothing to lose?


The only danger in doing what I do is losing yourself from the things you’ve done. Pieces of you get ripped away, little by little. You change. You’re like a beast, with blood running down your front and a manic grin on your face. People look at you differently.

We’re in a stainless-steel room that’s supposed to be used for butchering meat, but lately Jack has me butchering people here, too. In this room, blood saturates the air. It’s a strong, metallic smell that stays in your nostrils for hours. I’m the only one in his crew who can stomach this kind of shit. And you get used to the screaming, the same old pleas, the threats, and all that boring shit.

We have him strapped to a table. There’s nothing Jack wants from this guy.

The underboss, Vince, watches from across the room, and I feel his discomfort. His eyes burn with vengeance as he looks down at the man strapped to the table, but there’s a tic in his jaw. It jumps and just that small detail tells me that he’s uncomfortable. See, I can read people pretty well. I’m pretty fucking intimate with human emotions. You have to be when you do what I do. I’ve spent hours studying their faces.

It’s all in the eyes. They change when the person feels hope, when they think I’ve granted them a reprieve. It’s a lightening of the brow and a slight widening of the eyes. Like right now. The poor bastard strapped to the table looks at me with so much hope in his eyes that I almost feel sorry for him.

Vince crosses his arms, trying to look unconcerned, but his fingers tap his elbow. It’s a nervous tic. Every so often I feel his eyes and look at him. He can only sustain my gaze for a few seconds before curling his lip in slight disgust. I turn my gaze back toward the young man strapped to the table.

“I liked you the most, Tommy. Please, please don’t!”

His wasted face dissolves into sobs and the tears well up in his glassy eyes, spilling out like blood.

Yeah, you liked me so much you decided to rat me out, along with everyone else.

I slide the knife inside Ben’s mouth as he screams, cutting himself all over the blade, and then I turn the knife. It pierces his cheek and I make a sharp, flicking movement with my wrist and I make his. His mouth becomes a bloody grimace.

Vince sends another flicker of disgust my way.

It rolls over me. I don’t give a fuck what he thinks. Or what anyone else thinks, for that matter.

I work my knife through poor little Ben’s flesh, my ears vibrating with his screams. My knife twists as an electrical bolt strikes my brain, sending a flash of heat over my face.

The man lying on my table belonged to a family I work for. He had privileges I’ll never have. He was a made man. It’s a license to steal, kill, to do whatever the fuck you want, and this asshole took a giant shit on the honor he was given. The fact that I’m half-Italian, that I’ll never be made no matter how much fucking money I make these pieces of shit, pisses me off.

So I take it out on Ben.


Now he’s finally getting desperate. The pain is so intense, he’ll fucking say anything. Anything I want. His young face is a crisscross of wounds, like a sharpening block for a knife. I look at his eyes, whitened with fear.

“Tommy, PLEASE!”

I bend my face toward him. “What did you tell the feds?”

“Nothing!” The gash in his mouth opens obscenely. “Just license plates and shit like that!”

His stubbornness makes my blood boil, and Vincent shifts against the wall.

“Just tell me, and I’ll end it.”

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