Perclusio (per-clu’-si-o): A threat against someone, or something.

“If you don’t pay up, I’m gonna eat your eyeballs with a dull fork while you’re still alive.” That threat was one of my best. I’ve been in the threat-writing business for 12 years helping gangsters and other disgruntled people scare the shit out of other people—rival gang members, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, potential heirs, lovers, police, and for the psychopaths, random innocent strangers. My threat-writing business is called “Say Your Prayers.” Business had always been good.

Now, somebody was threatening me. I had no idea who it could be, although I was pretty sure I new why. By my count, I had contributed to viciously threatening 2,300 people and my clients had never failed to achieve capitulation—they always got their way. It was a disgusting way to make a living, but it made me wealthy, with death threats being my biggest seller. I had to find out if the person threatening me was serious. The person was using the plain prose direct threat strategy: “I’m going to kill you.” Usually, a good threat includes the contingency: “if” along with “you do” or “you don’t” where the threat is being used as a motivational push in a desired direction as the key, as in the case of the death threat, to avoid death. But, “I’m going to kill you” provides no direction. It is a “pure threat” that leaves it up to the addressee to come up with a contingency.

This is not an easy task. Since I don’t know what I’ve done to “deserve” the threat, it is nearly impossible to come up with a plan. Usually, in cases like this the plan involves leaving town and going into hiding. And maybe, if I announced that I would pay a shitload of money to get off the hook, that might appeal to the intrinsic greed that is resident in all people, and only needs to be piqued by the offer. Then it dawned on me! I could write a counter-threat that would end this craziness.

I wracked my brain. The threat “I’m going to kill you” is so simplistic that it is hard to counter with anything but the standard “You’ll go to prison.” I gave it some more thought. Ah ha! I came up with “I’ll find out who you are and kill you first.” Then, I could back it up with reference to my vast network of information sources, my informants, the hitters, and ties to organized crime and the police. I texted my threat back to the encrypted number it had come from. Immediately, I got back “It is hopeless dead man.” How frustrating. It was time to go home and pack and go into hiding.

I opened the door and there was my maid in her cute little maid suit pointing a pistol at me. I was stunned. She had always been cheerful and polite. I liked her a lot—maybe too much. She was 19 and in the US illegally. She came from some country in eastern Europe that I had never heard of. Her name was Giselle. “Why do you want to kill me?” I asked, about to pee my pants. Giselle said: “You pay me bad. My boyfriend says I should shoot you. I am desperate to prove him my love.” Yeesh, I thought, this is beyond weird. I said, “Look, all you have to do is ask for a pay raise. That’s how it works in America. Death threats aren’t the way. Give me the gun.” She handed it over. Then, she gave me her boyfriend’s name and address. I made a phone call to Tony.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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