Mr Harkaway shuffled the papers on his desk. Something did not look right. He walked over to the filing cabinet and found last month’s returns.
Stupid, stupid, stupid boy! He did not say it out loud as there was nobody in the office to say it to.
He had unearthed an expenses fraud. It was blatant; the work of an amateur. Tony Michaels, a trainee salesman, was writing his own petrol receipts. It was the oldest trick in the book and that was why it was so easy to spot.
Harkaway’s heart raced; he would have to report this; there would be trouble; the police would probably be called and there could be a court case. It would all end in tears.
Harkaway hated confrontation. It was bad for his health. Harkaway had joined Tilotson’s about two years previously. He had taught maths at a local secondary modern school for twenty years. They were tough kids who never understood the value of learning. Every day was a confrontation, but he and the other teachers had one weapon on their side: the cane. Even the toughest boys could be brought to order by a length of swishy rattan.
Then, a new ‘progressive’ headteacher arrived; with ‘ideals.’ Corporal punishment was abolished and the inmates took over the asylum. It was chaos from day one and order was never restored.
Harkaway suffered the inevitable breakdown. Now, he had a nice little job in the accounts department shuffling pieces of paper and balancing columns of figures. He did not have to meet many people in his job, especially not unruly teenagers, and he liked it just like that.
Harkaway had never heard of Tony Michaels, so he made the short journey down the corridor to see his colleague Mr MacDonald, himself another refugee from modern schooling. Within minutes, Harkaway was reading the trainee salesman’s file.
“Damn!” This time he did say it out loud.
“What’s the matter?” asked MacDonald, although he was not really interested.
“This salesman. He’s nineteen years old. Been here a year since he left St Francis Grammar School. He’s got really good reviews from his boss. Expected to go far,” Harkaway replied.
“So what?” MacDonald sensed his colleague’s distress.
Harkaway told him about the expenses fraud.
“It’s the end of his career. He could even get a criminal record. It’s such a waste.”
MacDonald had never met the teenager, but he felt sad for him. “What are you going to do?”
Harkaway was more distressed than he expected to be, “When I think of all the children at our school who never had a chance. Now, here’s this lad, with all the chances in the world and he’s throwing them away. It makes me so angry.”
Harkaway knew that he was expected to report him to his manager. Those were the rules. Let Michaels explain himself and leave it for others to make the decision.
“I’ll have to report him, of course,” Harkaway said wearily.
“Yes, of course,” MacDonald returned the file to the drawer. “What a pity there can’t be some other way to deal with it.”
Another way? Later, when Harkaway was eating his lunch the germ of an idea entered his head. It might just work, but he doubted Michaels would agree.
Back in his office, Harkaway found a ‘Girl Friday’ and instructed her to tell Michaels to report to his office at once. She was startled by the ferocity of his tone.
Harkaway had many years’ experience dealing with misbehaving schoolboys. He was used to hearing their denials and false excuses, but he would break them down in the end. He did it with facts; he presented the evidence.
Michaels was not like his secondary modern pupils. He was smart, well presented and articulate. No wonder he was doing so well as a trainee salesman. It made Harkaway furious. He thought of all those boys and girls at his former school who never had a chance. They were put on the scrapheap. Now, here was Michaels; he had every opportunity to make something of himself and he was throwing it away.
Yes, Michaels agreed under questioning; he had forged the petrol receipts. He had no choice but to confess, the evidence was undeniable. He could have kicked himself for being so obvious.
“Why did you do it Michaels?” The teenager recognised Harkaway’s tone; he had heard it many times from masters at his grammar school. He could tell he was in for a ticking off, but at school it would be followed by a caning.
He knew why he had done it but he was not about to tell Harkaway. He wanted the money. He wanted to buy things, like smokes, clothes, records and to go to discos. He wanted to take a girl out and give her a good time (and later have her give him a good time). All these things cost money: more than he earned.
Instead, in the way naughty schoolboys had done for generations, Michaels stared at his shoes and mumbled, “Don’t know, Sir.”
“Sir,” Harkaway liked that. Maybe there was some hope for this wretched boy after all.
“You don’t know!” Harkaway pretended to fume, “You took a lot of trouble to perpetrate this forgery, you must have needed the money pretty badly.”
Michaels remained silent. If this had been the United States he would have invoked the Fifth Amendment: say nothing, do not incriminate yourself.
“Doh!” Harkaway’s frustration was evident.
“You do know you will be dismissed for this. The police might be called and you could end up with a criminal record?” Harkaway barked.
Michaels blanched. He had not thought of that. He had been so stupid he did not think he would be caught. The consequences of his actions had never occurred to him.
“B… But,” he started miserably, but his famous salesman’s gift-of-the-gab eluded him. Somehow he must save his job and keep the police out of this.
Harkaway was unsure how to turn the conversation to reveal his plan.
Unsteadily, he began. “I see in your personnel file you attended St Francis Independent Grammar School.” He paused to see if there was a reaction from Michaels. There was not.
So he blundered on. “It is a school with a very fine tradition for … err … for discipline.”
Still Michaels remained silent.
“What would your headmaster think about how you have behaved? How you have let down the honour of the school.”
Michaels did not give a damn about what the school thought about his behaviour. He was very glad to be away from there. It would suit him very much indeed if he never saw the place again. Why was this lowly accounts clerk lecturing him about school and honour?
“I was myself a schoolteacher for many years. Not at such a fine school as St Francis, of course,” Harkaway was losing his thread. This was too embarrassing; why did he care about this boy? He was a thief; he deserved to be sacked and to be prosecuted. He should let events take their course.
He was about to dismiss the teenager from his office when Michaels piped up. Suddenly, he had realised what this was about: discipline … school … honour.
“I am sorry Sir. I have behaved badly,” he said. Then he took a deep breath. “I deserve to be punished severely, but could it be without losing my job. I will never do it again. I promise.”
It was a lie and Michaels knew it. He enjoyed the clothes, the clubs and the girls too much to give them up. He would lose the lot if he was sacked. But if he could stay with Tilotson’s, later when the heat had died down he would find another more successful way to steal from the company. But, for now he would have to take what was coming to him.
Harkaway flushed. Had he understood the boy correctly? “What would your headmaster have done if he found you stealing?”
It was now or never, Michaels realised. He took a deep breath. “He would have thrashed me,” and then for dramatic effect he added, “And I should have deserved it, too.” And, for good measure he added, “Sir!”
And, that was how four hours later, Tony Michaels, a nineteen-year-old trainee salesman, came to be standing in Harkaway’s living room at his home. He had had plenty of time to change his mind, but he knew he had no choice; he had to go through with it.
Harkaway flexed a long, yellow, rattan cane thoughtfully between his hands. He could not get the measure of young Michaels. He seemed impassive to his fate.
“Have you been caned before, Michaels?” Harkaway swished the rattan through the air to try to intimidate the boy.
“No, sir,” it was another lie. There was no reason to tell it, but Michaels seemed incapable of telling the truth. He had been caned. It hurt like crazy, but it did not kill him.
If he had thought being a caning novice would make Harkaway go easy on him, he was much mistaken.
“Then, young man this will be an awesome experience for you. I do not intend to be lenient at all. This will be a thrashing you will never forget.”
Michaels’ heart raced. Exactly what did this jumped-up accounts clerk have in mind?
Harkaway eyed the teenager. He wore a smartly-cut dark suit. His buttocks would make a perfect target in those trousers, he thought.
But, he would never find that out.
“Take off your jacket, Michaels,” he swished the cane, “and place it on the table there.”
Only now, did the magnitude of this sink in. This could turn out to be one hell of a thrashing. With trembling hands, Michaels undid the two buttons on his jacket and slipped it from his shoulders. Then he tidily folded the immaculate jacket and put it on the table.
“Now, stand behind that armchair,” the cane swished again for emphasis.
Colour was draining from Michaels’ face as he took two or three steps to cross the room.
He breathed deeply, waiting for the final instruction: bend over.
“Now lower your trousers, Michaels.”
The teenager’s mouth gaped open, but he just stopped himself voicing an objection. He had not expected this: Harkaway had not said it was to be on the pants; or God forbid on the bare.
Michaels looked pleading at Harkaway, but the ex-schoolteacher was not to be moved.
“Do it immediately, boy,” he intoned quietly, “or you will receive extra strokes.”
Michaels closed his eyes and cussed silently. Then he unbuckled his belt, and popped the buttons on his trousers before he guided them across his buttocks and down his thighs where they came to rest at his knees.
He could feel a cool breeze against his now bare legs. Please God, he prayed, please let me keep my pants on.
“Bend over the chair, Michaels.”
Oh thank you God! Michaels placed his hands together as if in prayer, rubbed the palms, took a deep breath and dived forward over the back of the ugly vinyl armchair.
His face came to rest on an old worn cushion. The odour of stale sweat filled his nostrils.
“Feet further apart boy.”
While the teenager manoeuvred himself into the required position, Harkaway approached him from behind, grabbed at the tail of his shirt and carefully rolled it up until it rested half way up his back.
Then he grabbed the waistband of the boy’s gleaming white underpants.
“Oh, no! God, you have deceived me!” Michaels would have words to say the next time he attended his church.
The pants were soon reunited with the trousers.
Harkaway did not announce the number of strokes he intended to deliver, so it came as an almighty shock to Michaels’ system when a dozen hard cuts lashed into his naked buttocks and each one laid on with the greatest force.
Harkaway had never caned a boy with such ferocity. Later, recalling the incident to his colleague Mr MacDonald, he would say he did not remember much of what happened. He did recall the anguished shrieks from the boy as lash after lash whipped into his buttocks. And, he remembered the squirming as the boy’s body thrashed from left and right and up and down as if it were being tossed about on a heavy sea.
After the boy had dressed and left the house, Harkaway found a tea towel soaked in his blood.
If Harkaway’s memory was blurred, Tony Michaels remembered every second of every minute.
My arse is tight and open, all my muscles in my legs and buttocks are tense, and I cannot flex my backside. I can also feel my cock touching the top of the chair.
I hear some swishing sounds which send tremors all through my body. Next I feel the cane touch my backside, right in the middle. It rests there, for a moment. There are a few taps, which sting.
Before I have time to think any more there is a zip sound, followed by absolute agony. I could not believe how much pain I was in. It was sharp, but then it built up like a burn going deeper and deeper into me. Just as it started to fade the next stroke landed.
I had been caned at school – many times, it was that kind of school – but I had never felt such pain in my whole life as I did under Harkaway’s cane.
I could feel burning lines across my bum, the first across the fleshiest part and each stroke that followed cut just below the last. I was screaming, sweating, gasping and gripping the chair with both hands desperately trying to stay in position. I so wanted to run away, but some schoolboy code of honour must have kicked in: I knew I must take my punishment like a man.
Mr Harkaway waited a little longer before delivering another stroke, which left me in intense agony. The bastard laid it diagonally across previous welts, raising the heat and burn in all of them again. I could feel blood oozing from the wounds which felt very deep.
Slash number eight was the same and so were the final four but they were diagonals laid on the other way round.
Throughout, I shrieked out in agony and shock, my legs kicking up automatically as a merciless shower of mighty whacks followed in unbelievably quick succession. My bum, hips, shoulders all wriggled frantically in a futile attempt to escape the flashing cane which scorched into my buttocks.
By the time he had finished, I was sobbing. My bum was burning like I had sat on a lit coal fire.
After what seemed like hours, Harkaway instructed that I should stand up. Gingerly, I did so, but this sent fresh waves of agony through my injured bottom. Harkaway was breathing heavily, gasping for breath. He seemed to be in as bad a state as I was.
As if in a trance he left the room. I was not sure what to do next, so I tried to get dressed, but the very action of pulling my pants across my flogged buttocks was enough to send shockwaves through my body. I pulled my pants down again and saw the rear was covered in large pink stains. That was when I realised my buttocks were bleeding; Harkaway had ripped me to shreds.
Still in much pain and with my pants and trousers now around my ankles, I waddled to the kitchen and found a tea towel which I soaked in water and eased the flow of blood. The cool water felt good against my throbbing arse and I let it soak for a minute or two.
Mr Harkaway was nowhere to be seen. I did not want another confrontation with him, so when the raging agony in my arse subsided a little and was reduced to a constant throbbing, I managed to pull up my pants and trousers. I collected my jacket and left.
On the way out, I glimpsed myself in the hallway mirror. I did not recognise the ghostly figure with the snot covered face and the wild staring eyes.
I walked the three miles back to my home; I could not risk taking the bus, I knew I would not be able to sit down for some considerable time to come.
At home I whipped down my trousers. The blood had dried against my underpants and I had to take a wet flannel to soak them off my skin.
My bottom was still incredibly painful. There were a dozen deep welts criss-crossed over the buttocks; they looked like Clapham Railway Junction. The cheeks were still swollen and covered in dark blue bruises.
The next day when I returned to work, my bottom was still tender to the touch and I wriggled a bit as I sat at my desk. Mr Harkaway never mentioned the forged petrol receipts and I kept my job.
That was more than four weeks ago. The wounds have healed and I lived. I submitted an honest expenses claim this month, but I am working on a new fiddle for the future. I hope I do not get caught, but if I do then please don’t let it be by Mr Harkaway.
Other stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second