“Look” began the guidance counselor, “There’s not a lot of work out there for big, dumb-looking people. I get it. But I’d just like you to think the whole henchman thing through.”
The big, dumb-looking high school student sat at attention.
“I also understand that tattoos and piercings don’t count against you when applying for such work, which for you is a plus. But have you thought it all through?”
The student shook his head, half up and down and half side to side. The counselor thought it best to assume the motion indicated a no.
“You list fighting as one of your skill sets. Do you understand that as a henchman, whenever you confront an adversary they are going to either punch you in the windpipe or kick you in the testicles? Your only role is to go down like a ton of bricks to indicate how formidable that opponent is to your boss. That’s it.
And when you get critically injured in some encounter or other, don’t worry for a minute about your health insurance, because a few hours after you arrive at the hospital your boss, or one of his underlings, is going to visit for the sole purpose of killing you. He may or may not ask if you’ve spoken to the police, he may or may not bring flowers and balloons, but at some point he will either shut off your meds, put a pillow over your face or shoot you multiple times in the head.
Do you understand?”
The man-child once again let loose with a number of head shakes that did little to clarify his understanding.
“At some point you will be left alone with a bag of money. It will be a test. If you keep it they will make an example of you. If you return it there will not be any reward given. In short, do not get into henchmaning for the money. You can make more working at a convenience store. You should only consider such a career if you enjoy being part of a team… that exists to terrorize the weak. And bear in mind, a lack of empathy is not a skill set.”
The counselor did not want to punish the youth for being honest about what he was considering doing after graduation, but he feared that he was not adequately making his point that being a henchman was not a particularly wise path to decide upon.
“Listen. The only true responsibility you can expect to have is to oversee your boss’s plan to kill whatever adversary he wants to dispose of. The problem is that he will depart just before the death of said adversary, and due to inherent flaws in whatever scheme was to have played out, when they finally escape unscathed you will be held accountable.
Nothing good comes from being the guy your boss blames for his plan going awry, let me tell you.”
Finally the young man spoke. “Do they let you pick your nickname?”
The innocence of the question caught the counselor off guard. “Well Chad, I don’t think so. In fact, I think you can count on that nickname being derogatory. Probably highlighting some feature of your personality or physical appearance that you’d rather not be… um… highlighted.”
“Well that sucks” said Chad.
“Yes. Yes it does” replied the counselor.
“What about being a bouncer then? Do they offer health insurance that doesn’t involve getting shot in the face? Or a chef maybe. I make a killer omelet. I use every spice in the cabinet” offered Chad.
The counselor smiled. “Now you’re talking.”
The boy perked up a bit. “Why is it that whenever I hear the word afoot said aloud I automatically think of the sentence ‘The door is ajar’?”
“That” replied the counselor, “Is a question for the school psychologist.”
“Got it” said the youth, and with that he got out of his chair and lumbered out of the office.