James Danvers left his home in The Avenue at six-thirty on the dot every morning. His house was unexceptional in every way, just one more suburban box in a street composed of identical suburban boxes. His journey to the newsagent took about five minutes. He bought a copy of the Daily Express and then he walked home again.
Lately, most days he saw a boy out running. He called him a “boy” but at Mr Danvers’s age thirty year olds seemed like boys. The boy was obviously a university student. His singlet had the letters B.U.A.C. on the back, which Mr Danvers knew stood for Brocklehurst University Athletics Club. It was June and that year they were having a glorious summer. Even at such an early hour in the day, the boy sweated as he pounded the streets, dressed only in singlet and the shortest of cotton running shorts.
One day, Mr Danvers was returning to his home, newspaper in hand, when he saw the most extraordinary thing. The boy stood on Mr Danvers’s doorstep and in his hand he held a half-empty bottle of milk. He was drinking Mr Danvers’s milk, stolen from Mr Danvers’s doorstep.
“Hey, you!” Mr Danvers shouted, and not really knowing what else to say, he added, “What are you doing?”
The boy looked startled. He had supposed the street would be empty and the owner of the milk was still in bed.
“I said, what do you think you are doing?” Mr Danvers had been a schoolmaster for more than forty years and he expected to be listened to.
The boy swigged the bottle until it was empty. Every day that he had been running he had stopped to drink a pint of milk; taken from a different doorstep each time. Nobody had caught him before.
Mr Danvers fumed. The insolence of the boy. How dare he not answer. How typical of the young today. Why for two pence, he would give the brat what-for.
The boy bent down to replace the bottle on the step. As he did so the muscles in his backside tightened and his short shorts rode up his thigh. As might be expected of an athlete, the boy was lean and fit. His great shock of fair hair had not seen a comb in months; it hung over his ears and down beyond the neck of his singlet. He straightened himself up, looked across at Mr Danvers and flashed him a smile. His teeth were white and even. They contrasted with the boy’s deep suntan.
Still, he had not spoken.
Enraged, Mr Danvers opened his front door and before the boy had a chance to resist he was bundled inside the house.
“W… war … what you doing?” A look of alarm spread across his face. He was not smiling now.
“Thief! Thief!” Mr Danvers spluttered. Then, after regaining some composure, he reverted to his former-schoolmasterly self. He had lectured misbehaving schoolboys all his adult life; he knew how to do it. It told the boy his behaviour was “unacceptable,” “intolerable,” “deplorable,” “disgraceful,” and most of all, “criminal.”
The boy, like generations of naughty schoolboys when rebuked by schoolmasters, stood head slightly bowed, unable to look Mr Danvers in the eye.
“What would your university say when I inform them of your outrageous behaviour? You could be sent down for bringing the university into disrepute.”
The boy’s eyes shone. Expelled, for stealing. Only now for the first time did it occur to him that taking milk from doorsteps was a crime. Like so many of his generation he had a sense of entitlement; he simply took what he wanted. He didn’t consider the harm he might do to others.
“I shall call the university as soon as it opens this morning,” Mr Danvers would tolerate no nonsense.
“B … b … but …” the boy could not form a coherent sentence, but his mind was clear enough. If the university found out, he would be finished; his life in ruins. The boy was at Brocklehurst on an athletic scholarship. If the old man reported him, at the very least the boy would be thrown off the athletics team. Bang would go his scholarship and he would have to leave university. He would never make it as a professional athlete. He would have no degree. A lifetime of dead-end jobs stretched ahead.
He was in deep trouble and now he knew it. His once bright, open, face crumpled. His lower lip trembled. His eyes watered. He sucked in a lungful of air in a desperate attempt to stop himself crying.
Mr Danvers stood puzzled and watched the boy break down. He had expected insolence and defiance; instead the strapping athlete dissolved like a small boy. Mr Danvers didn’t understand.
Schoolmasters sense when their young charges needed to unburden themselves. Mr Danvers spoke gently, “Tell me. Tell me everything.”
The boy wiped his nose on his arm and confessed. If Mr Danvers reported him to the university his life would be ruined. All for a stolen bottle of milk. The boy decided not to reveal he had stolen many bottles over the past weeks.
Mr Danvers was a fair man, even the most hardened of his former pupils would concede that. The punishment should fit the crime. Expulsion and a ruined life might not be just.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It was the same with old schoolmasters. Mr Danvers knew the perfect remedy. It had served he and countless naughty pupils well over the years. What a pity he didn’t have a whippy rattan school cane to hand. He could administer a sound six-of-the-best and they could both move on.
The boy studied the carpet beneath his feet forlornly. The silence in the room was oppressive.
Mr Danvers’s mind was racing. If not a school cane, then what? What else was available to him to deliver a beating? What did fathers use to spank their errant sons? A slipper? Belt? Garden cane? Palm of his hand? Paddle? Wooden spoon?
Then, he remembered his brother in Worksop. He would spank with a wooden clothes brush. It was, he maintained, the perfect weapon. It was large, heavy and could easily be administered across the backside.
“I shall spank you with a clothes brush.”
The boy blinked heavily. Had he heard the old man correctly. A spanking? Clothes brush?
“Yes,” Mr Danvers was certain, “I shan’t inform the university, I shall deal with you myself.”
The boy’s mouth opened and closed silently. He had started to protest, but stopped himself just in time. It was a solution. A spanking. Unorthodox, yes, but it would save his university career and possibly his entire life.
“Come in here,” Mr Danvers led the way into the dining room. Reluctantly, the boy followed.
The boy stood uneasily as Mr Danvers busied himself. Mr Danvers opened and closed cupboards and drawers until he found what he was seeking. It was about a foot long and four inches wide. The head was oval shaped. He tested its weight in his hand. Yes, he thought, perfect for our purpose.
Then, he moved a straight-backed wooden chair away from the dining table and set it down in the middle of the room. He sat himself down. Yes, he was ready.
“You should come here and bend across my lap,” Mr Danvers said quietly and tapped the brush against his right thigh in case there was any doubt about his intentions.
The boy blanched. A few moments ago it had seemed like a good idea; the perfect solution even. Now, he wasn’t so sure. The clothes brush looked awesome. Mr Danvers could pack quite a punch with that little beauty.
“Come now boy,” Mr Danvers adjusted his buttocks on the hard wooden chair, trying to make himself more comfortable. He spread his knees a little to create a platform for the boy to present himself across.
“Bend over,” Mr Danvers did not like to repeat himself. More sternly, he added, “Now, boy.”
The boy took a deep breath, walked three paces across the room so that he stood to Mr Danvers’s right. He hesitated a moment, as if debating with himself whether he should go through with this. Whether he, a twenty-one-year old student, should allow this old man to spank the living daylights out of him.
He had no choice. Matters had to take their course. He took a deep breath and then slowly laid both hands on Mr Danvers’s left thigh. Then slowly, he eased himself down. He was a tall lad, much taller than his punisher. He stretched his arms out ahead of him and placed the palms of both hands firmly on the carpet. Behind him, he bent his knees so that his toes would rest comfortably on the ground. In this position his bottom was raised over Mr Danvers’s right knee. The boy wriggled slightly so that his bottom was elevated higher, ready to receive the whacks from Mr Danvers’s brush. He felt the rough material of Mr Danvers’s trousers scratching against his own smooth skin.
The boy had been in this position before, Mr Danvers thought. He was quite a load across his lap, but Mr Danvers wrapped his left arm around the boy’s waist. He could feel the muscles in the boy’s back. This was one strong boy. If he wished to he could easily break free. He might even punch Mr Danvers in the jaw before making his escape. But, Mr Danvers could tell that wasn’t going to happen. The boy lay submissively across the old man’s lap. He would take his spanking.
Mr Danvers rubbed his hand across the seat of the cotton running shorts, eliminating every wrinkle. In this bent-over position, the shorts hardly covered the boy’s buttocks. The under-curve of his cheeks were bare. The cotton was thin and Mr Danvers saw the boy wore some kind of jockstrap contraption to keep his privates in place, but his buttocks were uncovered.
This was a new experience for Mr Danvers. He was no longer a schoolmaster and the boy was not a naughty pupil. Perhaps, he thought, this was not such a good idea; spanking a total stranger. He felt required to ask, “Do you truly accept that you deserve to be firmly punished?”
There was a stillness in the room. You could hear the clock ticking. Then, almost inaudibly, the boy whispered, “Yes Sir.”
Mr Danvers gripped the heavy wooden clothes brush in his right hand and tap, tap, tapped it against the centre of the boy’s left cheek. He was finding his spot. Then he raised the brush by a couple of feet and crashed it down into the boy’s pert bum with a terrific crack. The boy creased up his face to absorb the pain, but otherwise remained unmoved. Tap, tap, tap, again finding the spot. This time on the right cheek. Whack! Another stinger.
It was a classic spanking; swat after hard stinging swat connecting with the boy’s upturned bottom as he lay draped across both knees, wriggling and kicking. The boy’s unspoken resolve to take his spanking stoically was broken. He lifted his right hand off the floor, attempting to interfere with the gleaming piece of polished wood that was toasting his backside. Mr Danvers took the boy’s wrist and pulled it firmly up behind his back and held it there.
Mr Danvers paused now and then to berate the boy. It gave him respite from the burning sting, but this was offset by the extra hard whacks he used to punctuate his scolding. You. Whack. Must. Whack. Not. Whack. Steal. Whack. Whack.
As the boy’s backside got hotter and hotter, Mr Danvers sought out new to areas to assault. The boy’s howls could probably have been heard in the house next door when Mr Danvers landed the brush on the boy’s bare under-curves and thighs. The old man took satisfaction as the boy’s crying and squirming increased when he laid the brush on good and hard. Tears flowed freely down the boy’s face as he sobbed his sorrow and regret at stealing from Mr Danvers.
When he stopped at last, Mr Danvers held the boy across his lap for several moments, talking to him softly and giving an occasional whack or two as punctuation.
Eventually, the boy was allowed to stand. He buried his face in his hands, wiping away tears and hiding his shame and humiliation. Mr Danvers wheezed; struggling to catch his breath. He was not as young as he used to be.
“You should go,” he told the boy. He didn’t need telling twice and rushed through the front door. Mr Danvers watched from the window as the boy hurried down The Avenue. Deep red marks were visible on the boy’s thighs; any passer-by in the street would be able to guess what ordeal he had recently suffered.
The boy disappeared around the corner of the street and Mr Danvers went to the kitchen, switched on the kettle. Damn! There was no milk for tea. He cursed silently. He would have to wait until the shops opened.
He sat down and opened his newspaper, but he couldn’t concentrate. He replayed the previous fifteen minutes in is mind. A young thief, soundly spanked. Would the experience of a blistered backside stop the boy thieving again? He resolved to keep an eye out for the boy in future. He would inform his neighbours to be on the lookout also.
Then, it occurred to him: he didn’t know the boy’s name.
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second