Nineteen-year-old Liam Thomas stood, hands clasped behind his back, feet shuffling slightly, in front of the desk.
Behind it sat the Senior Tutor, a stern man, imperious, dressed in a black academic gown.
The Senior Tutor, Professor Adams, was doing his best to ignore the student before him. The professor liked to let the boys stew. Leave them to wonder what might happen to them. What punishment they might expect.
The Senior Tutor had seen it all before, but this was a new experience for Liam. This was his first time in Prof Adams’ study. Liam had time to take in the splendour of the room. This was an ancient university, one of the best in the country, no the world. It had high expectations of its students and had centuries of tradition to uphold.
Liam was like a fish out of water at the university. Whereas most of his fellow students had parents in the professional classes and had attended expensive fee-paying schools, Liam’s father was a factory worker and his mother worked in a beauty parlour. He came from a very working class, poor area of South Wales.
“Well, Thomas.” The Senior Tutor had deigned to recognise Liam’s presence at last. “What is this all about?”
It was “all about” Liam being thrown off the philosophy course. He had been at the university for more than a year now. At first he worked hard, just as he had done to get into the university in the first place. But, things had gone downhill lately. Girls and beer were to blame mostly. So, Liam skipped a few tutorials, handed assignments in late and maybe worst of all, the last essay he had delivered was clearly plagiarised.
So, Dr Abramovich had thrown him off the course with the parting words, “Go see the Senior Tutor to discuss your options.”
Soon, Liam would discover that really he had no other option but to submit himself to Prof Adams, the Senior Tutor.
Prof Adams heard Liam’s story in silence. Liam was honest with the Senior Tutor. He admitted he had not worked at all this term and had let down himself and Dr Abramovich.
Prof Adams visibly mellowed as he heard this frank confession. It was always easier to deal with a boy who admitted he was at fault.
“And what should happen now?” the professor asked.
Liam stayed silent, shuffling his feet again, staring at the carpet. He wasn’t sure if this was a rhetorical question that he wasn’t really expected to answer. In any case, if it wasn’t rhetorical, he had no answer to give.
Liam mumbled something about being given another chance. He would work harder and so on. Even Liam wasn’t convinced by his answer.
“Not good enough, Thomas.” The professor was not going to let him off so lightly.
“Really, you should be sent down for the rest of the term and after your suspension is over we might discuss your future again.”
This was the last thing Liam wanted. His parents had scrimped and saved to help him to get to university. Whereas most kids in his valley left school at sixteen and went to work to bring money into the house, his own parents had worked overtime to pay for him to stay on to do A-levels and go to university. It would break their hearts if he were sent down.
“There might be an alternative, however,” the professor was speaking again.
Liam’s face brightened, encouraging the Senior Tutor to continue.
“You have worked hard to be at this university Thomas and I would not wish to see all that work wasted. But, you need to be punished and the punishment must be exemplary.”
Liam blushed, his face bright red, what was coming next?
“You need a short, sharp shock. Something to pull you up sharp. Something to help you to mend you ways.”
Liam’s heart was racing now.
“I could administer a sound thrashing.”
Liam’s jaw visibly dropped.
“You will take twelve strokes of the cane on your underpants, bent over that sofa,” he nodded to a leather couch that was just behind Liam.
Suspension or a beating: those were the options. Liam had never been caned in his life. Not even spanked. He couldn’t even remember being slapped as a very small child. What the hell would a “sound thrashing” with a cane on his pants be like?
But suspension from the university was out of the question. He really had no option.
“Well, what’s it to be Thomas?”
All the saliva had drained from Liam’s mouth and he could barely get the words out, “The caning please.”
“The caning please, SIR,” the professor snapped back.
“The caning please, Sir.”
The Senior Tutor rose from his chair and went to a second desk where he opened a long drawer. Liam couldn’t see exactly what the professor was doing, but he heard a rustle of canes as the professor chose the rod he would use to whip him.
The professor extracted a rattan with a curved handle. He swished it in the air two or three times to get its measure. Satisfied that it was the perfect implement to thrash Liam, the professor closed the drawer.
Liam was transfixed. Not only had he never been caned, he had never even seen a cane before. This was an impressive instrument, dark yellow in colour and maybe three feet in length. The Senior Tutor swished it once again, deliberately trying to intimidate Liam.
“Stand by the sofa.” It was a simple command made with authority.
Liam must have been in a trance. Later, when he tried to recall his encounter with the professor, there were large parts that he simply could not remember.
Professor Adams watched in silence as Liam walked to the couch and stood four feet from it.
“Closer boy.” Of course, Liam realised, he couldn’t stretch across the back of the couch from this distance. He shuffled forward a little.
The professor held the cane in his right hand, ready to do his duty. “Take down your trousers.”
Blood was rushing through his veins and his temples were throbbing, but Liam obeyed. He fumbled with the buckle of his wide leather belt and snapped open the clasp. Then he undid the button at the waist. The weight of the belt helped his corduroy trousers slip down revealing his bright red underpants. Liam undid the zip fly and the trousers fell to his knees.
“Bend over,” the professor touched the back of the couch with his cane.
Liam hesitated. Was he really going to let this man thrash him with a cane?
“Quickly!” The professor snapped the cane against the couch again.
Liam took a deep breath and lowered himself across the couch. It was the perfect size for a teenager to bend over. Liam stretched his arms in front of him, grasping the front edge of the couch tightly.
“Legs further apart boy.” Liam did as he was told.
Prof Adams stood cane in hand, observing the scene. He did not enjoy beating boys, he told himself.
He watched as Liam, breathing heavily, clenched his buttocks together in anticipation of the first lash.
The Senior Tutor believed it was his duty to deliver sound thrashings to his wayward students. It was for their benefit. A short, sharp shock would bring them to their senses. The alternative was to ruin their studies, their future careers and ultimately, perhaps, their entire lives.
Better by far to deal with the problem this way.
Prof Adams stood to Liam’s left, extended his cane and tap, tap, tapped it against the student’s right buttock. Then with a swift movement he swung the cane back, beyond shoulder height and lashed it into his underpants.
Liam shrieked as the cut hit home. It was involuntary; he hadn’t meant to do it. His body writhed in pain and he jumped up hopping from foot to foot, rubbing his backside vigorously.
“Get back over!” there was real anger in the professor’s voice. “If you stand up again, we shall start the punishment all over again. This time on your bare backside.”
Reluctantly, slowly, painfully, Liam positioned himself once again over the back of the couch.
Slash!!! The second cut bit deep into Liam. A white line appeared across the student’s tight red underpants and the professor knew that beneath the cotton a deep welt had formed.
Thwack!! Thwack!! Thwack!! Three cuts fell one after the other with no time for respite. Liam yelled each time the cane hit home. Tears were flowing down his cheeks. He did not know how to cope with this thrashing.
His knuckles were white as he clutched the couch for dear life.
Prof Adams saw Liam’s pain, but he felt no reason to let up. He had a duty to perform and he was going to do it. He had beaten many students over the years and he knew that once thrashed very few ever came back for more. This punishment, however harsh and unusual some people might see it, actually worked. He had the evidence.
He lashed down cut number six. Liam’s howling did not let up. It was so intense it could probably be heard all over town, if the professor hadn’t had the foresight many years ago to have his study sound-proofed.
The Senior Tutor paused as he reached half way in the punishment. He stepped forward and gently pulled at the elastic waistband of Liam’s underpants. For a split second the boy thought the professor was going to pull them down and deliver the final six on the bare. That wasn’t fair; he had kept his part of the bargain and had kept down across the back of the couch.
But, the professor was only inspecting the damage. He could see six thick, deep welts in Liam’s buttocks. His aim had been perfect, even though the boy had been writhing most of the time. Blood was beginning to seep from the wounds.
The professor snapped back the elastic and ran his hand across both buttocks, smoothing the cotton so it became a second skin. Liam winced in pain as the man’s hand connected with his wounds.
Stepping back, the professor raised the cane and continued with the thrashing. Blows seven, eight and nine fell in quick succession. Poor Liam gagged as tears and snot cascaded down his chin. His whole body was wracked in pain.
Whack! Whack! Whack! Then it was over. The professor quietly laid his cane on his desk. Liam was sobbing uncontrollably into the cushion of the couch, his whole body heaving as he gasped for air.
“Stand up Thomas.” It was a quiet instruction, devoid of anger. It was over. The boy had submitted to his punishment. Not well, but he had taken it.
Liam raised himself from the couch unsteadily. He almost fell as he tried to stand in front of the professor.
Liam was distraught. He couldn’t stop the sobs. His backside was raw. The red pants camouflaged the blood that was oozing from his wounds. His backside throbbed with a pain the like he had never experienced. Liam tried to rub at his bottom, but realised that the merest touch increased the pain, it didn’t relieve it.
He bent down to retrieve his trousers from his ankles. Even that small effort stretched the skin across his buttocks and sent another shock wave of pain through him. With some difficulty Liam zipped and buckled himself up.
The professor went to his desk drawer and retrieved a box of paper handkerchiefs. He offered the box to the boy. Liam grabbed a handful of tissues and wiped away the mucus from his face. He was beginning to regain some measure of control.
“When you have composed yourself, please go to Dr Abramovich and with my compliments tell her you have received a thrashing and ask her if she will kindly consider reinstating you on her philosophy course.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Liam replied and turned to leave, his university career saved.
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second