Alan Manning downed his second glass of whiskey and turned to look at the clock – it was a little after midday. He crossed the room and picked up the bottle. He peered throught the window into The Avenue. The suburban street was deserted. Everyone would be at work; as should he, he thought. He poured another drink.
All had been going well until three months ago. That was when he had been made redundant. His job had gone to a computer – and some spotty herbert just out of college. Thirty-three years of work down the drain. And now aged fifty-eight, he wasn’t likely to work again. How he resented that kid.
The mortgage on the house had been paid. Thank God. And, there had been a redundancy payment. He took a slug of whisky. He wouldn’t have to worry over money. But, oh, he was bored witless.
His children had grown up and were making their own ways in the world. His wife had run off with another man a few years since. There wasn’t much left for him.
Across the road there was a kid delivering the local free newspaper. “Bloody hell!” Manning said to no one in particulalr. The boy was tramping across flower beds as he made his way from one door to another. Pah! Manning thought. Look at the state of him.
Tony Brewer hated delivering papers, especially in The Avenue. The nineteen-year-old resented that he was only paid two pence for each paper he delivered. Never mind that it was cash in hand and he was on Welfare and shouldn’t be working at all. He lived in the nearby council estate. Why couldn’t he get a paper round there? There were up to seventy flats in a block. He could earn four times as much money in the time it took him to deliver in the snooty Avenue.
It was a blistering hot day. One consoluation was that it did wonders for his suntan. Tony was naturally fair and his skin tanned easily. He wore very fashionable shorts that were so short they hardly covered his tight briefs.
Manning watched as Tony bent down to slip a newspaper into a letter box at ground level. The lower half of his buttocks were exposed under the beige cloth. What a disgrace! Manning fumed. He might as well be parading down the street in his underwear.
Tony straightened up, looked cautiously to his left and right and satisfied that the coast was clear, he opened the outside door of the house. Quickly, he bent down, picked up a parcel and hid it in his bag. Then, he closed the door and hopped across the lawn and through the flower beds into the next garden.
“Hey!” Manning shouted through the window. The kid had stolen a parcel left by the postman for his neighbour. “Hey!” It was useless yelling through the window. No one could hear.
Unsteadily, Manning got to his front door and opened it. “Hey you!” he stumbled into his front garden. “Hey stop. Come here!”
Tony halted, his embarrassment evident even under his suntan.
“Put that pacel back.”
“I saw you. You stole it.”
“Piss off,” Tony had no fear of old men, especially old men in The Avenue.
Manning lurched across the street. “Give it here! Give it here!” he grabbed at the bag full of newspapers on Tony’s shoulder. The teenager pushed him away. “Piss off. Leave me alone.”
The door of the house opened. Mr Todd, a retired engineer, had heard the argument.
“What’s going on?”
Manning held Tony by the arm but the teenager was about to wriggle free. He was, until Todd gripped his other arm.
“He stole a parcel from next door. It’s there in his bag,” Manning explained.
“I didn’t. It’s a lie.” Tony still struggled, but the two men had him trapped.
Manning grabbed the bag, delved in and pulled out a parcel.
“You little thief,” Todd barked. “There’s been all kinds stolen in this street. I bet you’re the one who’s been breaking into sheds.”
“No, mister. Let me go.”
“We should call the police,” Manning’s hatred of young people was to the fore.
“Quite right,” Todd stepped aside and pulled Tony into his house, closing and locking the door behind him. Manning was left on the doorstep.
“What is it, what’s going on?” Mr Todd’s wife came from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a tea-towel. Her husband explained.
“Please missus, don’t call the police. I’ll put it back. I’m sorry,” Tony whined. Mrs Todd paused her hand drying. The boy’s beautiful blue eyes and fair hair enchanted her. “Please.”
“Oh, well, ehrm,” she coughed, embarrased by her own schoolgirl reaction to the handsome young man now standing in her passageway.
“No,” Mr Todd intejected. “You can’t get away with it. I bet you’ve stolen other things.”
“No, really I haven’t.” It was a lie. Tony was well known as a petty thief to the local magistrates. Only last month they had said next time he appeared before the bench he’d be sent to juvenile detention.
Mrs Todd had always had a soft spot for fair hair and blue eyes. She had strayed many times in her marriage as a result.
“Please.” Tony’s pleading eyes melted her heart.
“What about it Albert?” Mrs Todd was won over.
“No way. He must be punished. There’s too much juvenile delinquency in this town.” Todd stepped across the passageway towards the telephone.
“Wait,” Mrs Todd interjected, “I know. What about Candy?”
Mr Todd looked aghast. “Candy? You can’t be serious.”
“Why not. It’s a perfect solution.”
Mr Todd blanched and then his face coloured like a cherry. Tony watched in silence. He edged his way toward the door, then remembered Todd had locked it.
“C’mon Albert. It works on me.”
Mr Todd blustered, “No well … I mean.”
Mrs Todd laughed. “That’s decided then. I’ll go and fetch it.” She turned and made her way up the stairs. Moments later she was in the master bedroom and rummaging through the wardrobe. It had been several weeks since Candy had made an appearance. Where had she left it? She searched along the rail between her dresses and her husband’s jackets. It wasn’t there. Oh, of course she remembered. Tutting to herself, she walked into the adjoining room. There was a tell-tale rattle as she pushed open the door. Once inside she turned. Yes, there it was: Candy, hanging from a hook on the door. A whippy rattan curve-handled school cane.
She reached up and took it lovingly in her hands. It suppleness excited her. She flexed it into an arc and then swished it through the air to get its weight. Candy was the pet name she and her husband gave to the cane when they used it in their little discipline games. It left candy stripes every time her husband slashed it across her naked buttocks. He was an expert disciplinarian. He could give Tony one heck of a beating. That was what he deserved. The boy would be punished, the stolen parcel returned and they could all move on with their lives.
Tony stared open mouthed as Mrs Todd padded down the stairs holding Candy against the side of her leg. “Nooo!” he wailed when the elderly couple’s plan dawned on him. “No way. I’m out of here.”
“It’s the cane or the police. You choose.” Mr Todd had once run a company employing fifty people. He was used to making decisions. And he expected to be obeyed when he had made them. The silence lasted ten seconds and would have been longer, but Mr Todd broke it. “Go into the lounge room. Let’s get this over with.”
“B ….” Tony started to speak, but didn’t know what to say. He had no choice. The cane or a spell in juvenile jail. The cane wouldn’t hurt so much would it? He had never been caned. It hadn’t been used in his school and it would never occur to his father to keep one at home.
“Quickly.” Todd had a ‘persona’ he used when disciplining his wife. It owed a lot to his former headmaster back at St Tom’s school more than fifty years previously. He gave clear precise instructions in clipped-sentences. There would be no doubt what was expected of a boy.
Todd took the cane from his wife and made some practice swishes of his own. He was delighted by the look of unease on Tony’s face. The young thief was not looking forward to this one little bit.
“Stand there!” The lounge room was very conventional. It had a matching sofa and armchairs, a dining table and chairs. It was quite large and at one end was a television set and a low coffee table. It was the perfect height for the teenager to bend across.
In their games, Mrs Todd always presented herself bare-bottomed for her caning. That was also the way his headmaster delivered his thrashings. Todd would dearly have loved to order the brat standing before him to disrobe, but he was aware of the unusualness of the situation. Not many strangers ordered teenagers to bare their backsides for a sound beating. It almost certainly wasn’t legal.
“Do you consent to be beaten for attempting to steal from our neighbour?” Mr Todd intoned. Consent wouldn’t make it any more legal, but Mr Todd would sleep a little easier.
Tony’s looked puzzled. Mr Todd tried again, using simpler words.
“Will you let me cane you as a punishment for stealing from our neighbour?”
Tony found it hard to breath. Blood rushed through his arteries. “Y … yes,” he gasped.
“In that case,” Mr Todd tapped the wooden coffee table. “Lie flat across that.”
When later he tried to recall what happened next, Tony had no real recollection. On some kind of auto-pilot he walked forward, hesitated a moment behind the table and then lowered himself over. His body fitted perfectly. His pert bottom rested on the edge of the table and with his knees bent his feet splayed out on the carpet.
Todd stood a yard or so from the nineteen-year-old’s left side. The short shorts cupped his buttocks offering a perfect target. The cheeks were tight and there was not enough spare fat to sizzle a sausage. The boy’s skin was tanned nut brown and virtually hairless. Todd “sawed” his cane across the centre of the buttocks to take his aim, then raised the whippy rod high and brought it crashing down. He was greeted with a long “hisssss!” escaping Tony’s clenched lips. The boy’s knees buckled further and his bottom bounced up and down on top of the table.
Todd slashed him again. Tony’s body trembled, then he went rigid emitting a little squeal as he did so. Now, there was a set of tramlines running straight across the delightful contours of his posterior etched into the tightly-fitting cotton shorts.
“Please …” Tony had begun to say, although he had no idea how he was going to finish the sentence. But, there was no time to as Swoosh!! the cane swiped down and in the next second a shrill cry of utter dismay echoed around the room as it sank into his buttocks. Tony felt a deep welt form across the centre of both cheeks, he wriggled and squirmed and clutched onto the soft seat cover for dear life.
“Keep still,” Todd barked, but the teenager could hardly hear him. What self-control he had at the start of the thrashing had evaporated. Red-hot agony engulfed his arse. It felt as if he had sat in a scolding bath. Lines of pain travelled up and down his legs. His heartrate was off the scale and any moment now, he feared, blood would escape through his ears.
Todd beat Tony slowly, and soundly. Six swishy strokes of the very best he had ever administered to man or woman.
“You may get up now.” The instruction was terse. The punishment was over. The nineteen-year-old rose from the table unsteadily. His eyes were glistening and his cheeks were wet. Inwardly, Todd congratulated himself on a job well done. He was astounded when the boy said. “You certainly laid it on, Sir! But I know I needed it. Thank you.”
Mrs Todd blushed deeply. She knew exactly how the boy felt.
Tony rubbed his buttocks gently. The intense pain he had felt as each new stroke connected with his stretch buttocks had faded into a constant throbbing. He knew his cheeks were glowing red hot. Even through two layers of shorts and pants, he could make out the outline of six deep cuts.
Todd led the way to the door, which he unlocked. “Give me the parcel. I’ll make sure it is returned.”
Tony handed it over, desperate not to catch the eye of his punisher. Something that he did not quite understand had happened between them. He had been beaten for thieving. The caning had set the record straight. Some bond had been formed.
From across The Avenue Manners watched, whisky glass in hand, as Tony slowly and evidently in some pain, shuffled to the house next door and popped a newspaper through the letterbox.
The boy now departed, Mrs Todd retrieved Candy from the lounge room. She stood submissively in front of her husband. “Sir,” she said quietly, “I have something I must confess.”
Other stories you might like
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second