Toby got out of bed early; there was no need to as his father wasn’t due for another two hours, but he had found it impossible to sleep.
He hadn’t seen father since he arrived back at university more than two months ago, but now he was making a special trip to visit his son to “talk about” the mid-term results.
Toby was in the second semester of his first year and things were not going well. He had scraped through the exams last semester and was heading for failure in this.
Toby knew he had screwed up at uni. He had been distracted by his new life of independence and had spent too much time in clubs and bars, making new friends. He had completely neglected his studies and even stopped going to church. Of all the sins he had committed since coming to the university, this was the one he most definitely didn’t want his father to discover.
Independence was something so alien to Toby that he had embraced it like a caged bird set free. He had even moved out of the safety and security of the university halls of residence to share a house in a dilapidated part of town with three guys on his course. His father had not approved and had forbidden Toby to move, but the teenager defied him.
Toby set about making breakfast, but once he had poured the milk on his cornflakes, he realised he had no appetite. He looked at the clock, one-and-a-half hours to go. The house was quiet, his housemates were, he assumed, fast asleep; that is if they were in their beds at all. Yesterday was Friday and the boys had gone clubbing. Usually, Toby would have been with them, but the gloom he felt over his father’s impending visit was inescapable so he gave it a miss.
Perhaps the guys had gotten “lucky” and stayed the night with a girl. He hoped so; he didn’t want them around when father visited. It would be humiliating enough without having them as witnesses.
Toby looked around at the mess in the kitchen. The sink was piled high with unwashed pots and crockery. Father had told him he would end up living in squalor if he moved into the house. Like, in most things, Toby conceded to himself, his father was right. It had been a struggle since moving in: none of the boys were interested in keeping the house tidy.
Toby set about cleaning the kitchen and the front room. He even made a valiant attempt to scrape the grime off the hand basin and shower. He didn’t want to give his father the satisfaction of saying, “I told you so.” It also helped to kill the time before father arrived.
With fifteen minutes to go before the dreaded time, Toby heard a key in the lock of the front door and Josh entered. He was unshaven and looked like he might have slept in a hedge last night.
“Yo! Toby!” The greeting was so effusive Toby knew immediately that Josh had “scored” last night.
“Hi! Man!” Toby tried to sound delighted to see his friend, but inside he was deflated: he had hoped he would have the house to himself.
“I’m going for a shower, then I’m having a kip.” Good, thought Toby, at least he’ll be out of the way.
Minutes later his other two housemates arrived home. Oh Christ! It’s a full house. Ravenous, they set about making breakfast, undoing all Toby’s efforts at tidiness.
Then there was a knock at the door. It has his father.
Toby had been too embarrassed about the visit to tell his housemates that his father was coming. Only now he realised that if he had confided in them they would have made themselves scarce for the duration. He wouldn’t have told them everything, of course. That would be too humiliating; he would just say that “dad” was coming and they would get the point. He never called his father “dad” but it would sound better with the guys. They didn’t talk much about their parents, but Toby supposed none of the other guys had one quite like his own.
To say his father maintained standards would be to under-state the situation. There were rules for everything; when you got up in the morning, when you went to bed at night, when you did your homework, no watching of television (not even at friends’ houses), no “pop” music. His father lived by the Bible and made sure his entire family did as well.
Toby was very well acquainted that bit about “spare the rod.” His father believed in complete obedience and the penalty for straying was always a beating. When he was very young he would find himself across his father’s knee, shorts and pants down, getting his bare bottom soundly spanked. Father soon graduated from hand spanks to the bedroom slipper. Toby learned quickly to obey father at all times.
But, as he got older, Toby found it more difficult to stick to his father’s harsh regime. Secretly, he developed a love of modern music, but he dared not bring it into his father’s house. He would sneak to friends’ houses to listen to it at full volume. He was in ecstasy. He was amazed at his friends’ parents for allowing this to happen, although sometimes they would roll their eyes and laugh, “Call this music. It doesn’t even have a tune.”
If his father had discovered Toby’s illicit pleasure, he would have thrashed the living daylights out of him.
Toby had only managed to pass his school exams and make it to university because father ordered him to do his homework each night. It had to be completed by 9pm and father would inspect to see that it was. He would also check Toby’s grades and there were beatings when they fell.
He opened the door and let his father into the house. Even before Toby could say “Hello” his father rebuked him about the house. “I told you not to move here. This place is a dump, the district is full of drug addicts and prostitutes. It is Sodom and Gomorrah!”
He made no attempt to be conciliatory with his, now adult, son. All he cared was that his own flesh and blood had disobeyed him and he wanted vengeance.
Quaking, Toby led his father into the front room. It was next to the kitchen and he knew his two friends would hear them.
For five minutes his father harangued him for his failings; the poor grades; the lifestyle; for letting his family and God down.
In truth, Toby knew this already. He was ashamed that he had let himself down since arriving at university. He knew that he had been weak-willed and spent too much time in self-indulgent pleasure-seeking when he should have been studying hard. Yes, he had disappointed his mother and father.
But, at the same time, he was also discovering himself, trying to work out who he was and what sort of person he could become. It was called growing up and he could not become an adult without making mistakes.
He knew also that father believed it was his duty to God to correct him.
His father had finished haranguing him and there was silence. Toby had hardly said a word: he knew his father did not want him to defend his actions; his part in this little drama was to accept unconditionally the word of his father.
Toby could hear the excited voices of his housemates in the kitchen; they seemed to be in exceptionally jolly moods.
“Can we please do this upstairs, father?” there was pleading in Toby’s voice. His father had also heard the voices and immediately understood his son’s predicament. He ignored the plea, said nothing, and slowly unbuckled his belt.
He looked around the small room, searching for a suitable spot. “Stand by that table.” By now he had withdrawn his thick, wide, leather belt and doubled it over.
“Take down your jeans and underwear and bend over the table.”
His father said a silent prayer as he watched the teenager disrobe and bend forward placing his elbows on the Formica-topped table.
“Right over! Flat on your stomach.” Toby shifted his position. “Now, take hold of the table legs.”
His father took two previously prepared pieces of twine from his pocket and tied the boy’s hands to the table. Now, Toby was at his father’s mercy, but no clemency would be shown today.
“Legs further apart!” Toby wriggled a little until his father was satisfied.
Toby lay still, unable to prevent his father’s preparations. The man adjusted the boy’s shirt and pullover, rolling them up until he was naked from the shoulder blades to his ankles.
Satisfied, he raised the belt high and lashed it down with considerable force into Toby’s backside, immediately creating a sunset stripe across both cheeks.
Toby had a high tolerance of pain and remained motionless.
SNAP! Another lash fell, echoing around the small room. In the kitchen the two boys stopped laughing and stared at each other in puzzlement.
WHACK! Toby willed himself not to kick out. He stayed bent over, holding his bottom in place so that his father could lash his buttocks over and over.
WHOOSH! And his father did so, swinging the belt down hard across the top of the boy’s thighs. Involuntarily, Toby’s legs stomped the ground as the agony shot down his legs, but it didn’t relieve the pain and belt didn’t stop; it continued to strike his teenage bottom.
Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! His father was thrashing his son like never before.
Toby felt the force of the blows sending waves of pain flowing through his bottom, both cheeks shaking with the impact. His resolve to take the belt whipping stoically failed and he yelled.
Next door, Tom and Matt, startled, looked at each other. Without speaking they agreed they should not intervene.
In the front room his father was frenzied as the belt rose and fell, rose and fell and rose again. Toby was in pure agony as lash after lash bit deep into his fleshy globes. His knuckles had long ago turned white as he gripped the table legs for dear life.
Toby’s pain was more than anything he’d ever felt before: none of the past whippings compared. He wanted to push himself away from the table, turn around and grab his father’s arm and stop the pain, but the ties on his hands prevented this. Despite the intense agony that was pulsating through his body, he knew he had no option but to take whatever his father dished out.
Toby’s buttocks and thighs were a mass of welts, the belt had whipped into him so many times it was impossible to tell where one lash started and another finished. The boy was howling with the agony, but his father did not care, he whipped on and on: he was doing God’s work.
Toby was scarcely conscious; the throbbing in his buttocks had travelled down his legs, up his back and through his whole body. His sobbing choked him and he could hardly breathe; his heart was racing and any moment he feared it might give out.
His father raised and lowered the belt for a further onslaught on the boy’s buttocks when the door burst open and Tom and Matt rushed in. Tom made a grab for the belt and was rewarded with a slash across his face. He recoiled doubled over in pain. Toby’s father slashed the belt down across Tom’s back just as Matt, sizing up the situation, delivered a hard kick in between the man’s legs. Now, it was his turn to double up in agony.
At that moment Josh entered the room eager to see what all the commotion was. Horrified, he saw his dear friend Toby, tied across the table, half naked, with his flesh ripped to shreds.
Josh untied Toby and helped him rise from the table. Unable to stand, Toby fell into his arms.
Toby’s father was now cowering on the ground, trying to protect himself as Matt and Tom rained kicks all over his body. Distracted by Josh’s arrival, they stopped their assault allowing Toby’s father to run from the house.
The three friends helped Toby over to the couch and lay him face down. Matt winced at the sight before him. It looked like Toby had been assaulted all over his buttocks and thighs with a meat tenderiser.
Unbidden, Tom went to fetch a bowl of cold water and a flannel, then gently, affectionately, bathed the wounds.
Matt went to his room and found a tube of antiseptic cream, Un-self-consciously, he squeezed out a globule onto his fingers and massaged it gently into his friend’s throbbing arse.
Toby’s father sat in his car, his ribs ached terribly. He thought one might be broken. He realised he had left his belt at the house, but there was no way he was going to go back for it.
After a while, he felt well enough to drive away, not realising this would be the last time he would ever see Toby again.
Other father and son stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second