small textlarge text

David Jans

The Scalpel File

An incision from the inside of his wrist extending up the forearm. Nice and clean.

Part of me yearned for his demise to be more violent, but this was a professional office after all, with pristine carpets and hardwood floors.

A select group of office superheroes stood before me, Avengers of sorts, united in ending Kevin Gunderson’s reign as a corporate jihadist at Elite Medical Supplies. His terror techniques and tactics were varied but he was particularly skilled at hijacking quarterly sales meetings by grandstanding and undercutting his co-workers. Gunderson was my nemesis, continually turning my minor missteps into scorched earth with his never-ending arsenal of scuds. The man with the pasty white complexion, a poor attempt at a comb-over, and a porn mustache would never upstage me again.

Gunderson cut an evil swath across the office so I didn’t have a difficult time pulling together my elite superhero strike force. Alex from purchasing was Blade, who procured an impressive variety of razor-sharp scalpels. His ability to negotiate a volume discount notwithstanding, his skill in wielding the finely-honed instruments made him indispensable to the mission. Mary from administrative services was the Concierge, riding herd over the schedule, securing prime private office space, and laying down a terrifying torture soundtrack. Jack from maintenance was the Grappler, using a fireman’s carry technique to transport Gunderson to the professionally appointed executive office where he would suffer for his crimes.

As for myself, I stood proudly in front of the group with a dark red T seemingly emblazoned on my chest. I was David Jans, Torture Man. Always a meticulous planner in my job as a district sales manager, I applied the same level of rigor in devising my multi-faceted torture checklist.

Everything was perfect. The Concierge had somehow rigged up a black leather office chair so that Gunderson laid back like a dental patient about to receive the most painful cleaning of his life. He gradually regained consciousness from the Grappler’s perfectly weighted knock to his balding dome to the sounds of Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi. The auditory sucker punch had him reeling right out of the gate.

“Hey, what is the fuck is going on? My head is killing me and that sound, my god make it stop.”

He sounded a bit punch drunk and struggled to see clearly.

“Jans is that you? You mother, fucker. Why am I leaning back in this goddamn chair?”

I stayed focused and laid out my scalpel themed torture checklist on the office desk.

First up, the good old probing below the fingernails technique.

“Listen Gunderson, this is for the time you undercut me during the last quarterly sales meeting.”

The force with which I probed surprised me. My inspiration was the look in Gunderson’s eyes when he pointed out the grim statistics of my performance in the Southeast region to my supervisor. The Grappler covered his mouth to stifle the blood-curdling screams.

We moved seamlessly into a symbolic procedure of retribution. Blade skillfully used the scalpel to carve an X in Gunderson’s chest, marking a spot to memorialize his sins and for me to rub a healthy dose of salt. As he cried out in agony I channeled fellow victims of his sodium infused misery and pressed harder.

The Concierge kept the group on task, efficient, and cognizant of the time. She also dialed up the auditory pressure levels by spinning a medley of songs by Fall Out Boy, sending Gunderson careening to new depths with each excruciatingly shrill vocal. Unfortunately, the evil playlist also attracted some unwanted attention. I dispatched the Grappler to the door as the attempts to open it grew more forceful and the knocks louder. Everyone froze and waited. Waited for the Grappler to deliver a lethal sleep inducing elbow drop to his colleague from the evening maintenance crew.

The torture command center fired back up with a vengeance as Blade took center stage to flex his ninja-like scalpel throwing ability. He toyed with Gunderson, narrowly missing his head, crotch, and arms while also keeping him off guard by connecting on a few throws, zeroing in on the ample meat in his stocky legs. Gunderson cried out from the lethal dose of fear and pain,

“Jans, please make it stop.”

I raised my right fist to the ceiling, our end of days initiation signal. The team worked cohesively to transport Gunderson back to where it all began. The office chair would also be where it would end. The plastic tarp surrounding the chair served as additional assurance of a neat and tidy operation, but I knew Blade’s incision would be precise. The blood would pour like cognac into the makeshift snifter, a small office desk recycling bin placed under Gunderson’s dangling left arm. Blade called for the scalpel, the Concierge the dutiful assistant picking the sharpest one. It reflected off the office lights as he raised it high above his head and waited for my final directive. He lowered it to the target ever so slowly in sync with my right hand.

Gunderson screamed,


My heart pounded as if it might explode out of my chest as the blade closed in on the inside of his wrist.

The door bursting open didn’t initially register. Orchestra conductors block out distractions and stay focused on shaping the score. The forceful demand of an armed guard stopped our beautifully dark performance moments before the finale,

“Drop the weapon and step away from the chair!”

The Human Resources Director followed him into the room.

“What in the hell is going on here? Someone better start talking.”

I stepped forward, but before I could speak he moved towards the office chair,

“For Christ’s sake, why didn’t you tell me it was Gunderson. Carry on here Jans.”

Blade played his instrument flawlessly in perfect time with my desired tempo, bringing a gorgeous flowing dark red curtain down over our performance.

➥ Bio