“What did you say?” Ritchie stared at his eldest brother in wide-eyed bewilderment.
“You heard. Bend over that settee, I’m going to cane your backside.” And to emphasise the point he wobbled the whippy rattan in front of the eighteen-year-old’s face.
What the … Where did that come from? Richie had never seen a school cane before, did people still make them? It was dark yellow and shiny; exactly like ones that schoolmasters had used on generations of unruly boys.
John swished the rod through the air a couple of times and then flexed it between both of his hands, menacingly. It was more than three-feet long and as thick as a pencil, but it was so supple he could make the business end almost touch the curved handle.
“You disgust me. Poor mum will be turning in her grave. Stealing from your boss.”
Ritchie averted his eyes from the cane and turned his attention to the carpet beneath his feet. John was right; he had been caught stealing magazines from the newsagent and general store where he worked.
“Stealing from nice Mr. Weaver. What were you thinking?”
Ritchie was unsure if he was expected to answer, but shrugged his shoulders just in case.
“Bah!” His brother expelled air through clenched teeth. “I told Mr. Weaver I would thrash the living daylights out of you if he didn’t call the police. Lucky for you he said yes.”
He swished the cane again.
“So, you bend over the settee and you take a caning. If you don’t, you’ll end up in the magistrates’ court. And, if that happens you can pack your bags and clear out. I’m not having a convicted thief living here.”
Ritchie knew his brother meant it too. He was in charge. His word was law. Ritchie and his two other brothers owed everything to John. He had kept the family together after his widowed mother had died suddenly five years ago. Ritchie was the youngest and the only one living at home now.
Swish, swish went the cane. John was certainly intimidating his kid brother.
Ritchie had no remorse. Not for Mr. Weaver anyway. He had a rubbish job in a crappy shop. The wages were lousy; why shouldn’t he steal stuff? He’d been doing it for years, it was a wonder he hadn’t been caught sooner.
Ritchie knew he had no choice. It had to be a sore arse or he would lose his job and his home. A life in a cardboard box beckoned.
His brother’s impatience was showing. Ritchie stared at the young man. He was a bit of a star at the local gym and his bulging torso tapered to a slim, muscular waist. He could pack a punch in the boxing ring and Ritchie had no doubt he would land a cane with some energy.
“Come on buster. Bend over the settee. Let’s get on with it.”
Ritchie’s brain was resigned to the beating, but his body had other ideas. He could not get his feet to walk the four or five paces across the living room it would take to reach the settee. A caning? How painful would it be? Could he take it? Would he humiliate himself in front of his brother by howling the house down?
Ritchie’s thoughts were interrupted by John’s strong hand as it gripped the teenager’s arm and tugged him across the room, his feet scrapping the carpet as he went. Then, grabbing him by the scruff of the neck, John propelled his brother face down across the arm of the settee.
Ritchie put up no struggle. He stared impassively at the dusty dark blue patterned ‘throw’ that covered the cushions.
John pulled the boy’s shirt out of his jeans, and then pulled them up snugly, ensuring a tightly presented seat.
“Head lower, legs further apart. Stick your bottom out more.” John knew exactly how he wanted his younger brother positioned so he could whack his cane into his proffered backside with maximum effect. For a twenty-two-year-old man in the year 2017, John had a surprising amount of experience in such matters.
John took up position a cane’s length to the left of his younger brother and then tapped the rod one… two… three… times on the same spot and watched captivated as the firm but fleshy bottom cheeks wobbled with each tap.
The tension in the room was unbelievable. Ritchie’s buttocks clenched and unclenched involuntarily. He closed his eyes tight in anticipation of the searing agony about to come.
“Relax, it’s better if you relax,” John’s words were kind, but his younger brother was not in control of his backside and still the cheeks twitched.
John let a few seconds pass before he asked, “Ready?” There was a slight nod of Ritchie’s head, but it was enough. John laid the cane right across the centre of his brother’s rounded bottom then brought it up into the air. Ritchie flinched at the first touch of the rattan, knowing it to be only seconds away from causing him extreme pain.
Then John paused. Then there was the whistle as the cane swiped through the air and bit deep into stretched trousers. Ritchie released his breath with a “harrr.” It wasn’t a cry, just a sound. The teenager winced and his buttocks squirmed as it absorbed the first fiery stripe.
For a second time the cane was curled across the crown of Ritchie’s buttocks, which rose up simultaneously in angry response. A long cry of dismay erupted through the boy’s throat, and his legs tangled with each other as he tried to kill the burning pain which was taking over this entire backside.
John progressed slowly down his kid brother’s buttocks, making sure that each lash was delivered lower than the previous one. He knew exactly how long to wait between strokes to cause the maximum sting.
There were three or four loud intakes of breath that became sobs and Ritchie’s whole body shivered in shock. The pain raged through his backside. He longed to leap up, clasp his bum and run out of the room. By lash number six he was yelping and frantically writhing and twisting. He began to move his hand back towards his scorching bottom then thought better of it. Some long-dormant schoolboy instinct told him that if he obstructed his brother’s progress he would get extra strokes.
Instead, he gripped firmly onto the cushion of the settee, screwed up his eyes tightly and waited for the next agonising cut.
John stared impassively at his brother’s prostrate body. He felt the sense of power he had over his brother. He had delivered six-of-the-best strokes across Ritchie’s stretched buttocks. The teenager was quietly sobbing into the cushion of the settee. He seemed contrite. But, his crime had been serious. He had brought disgrace to the whole family and not only to himself. The punishment had to be exemplary. The boy must never be tempted to steal again. A thrashing of the utmost severity must be delivered.
He took up his position once more, found his aim, raised the cane high and like taking a swing with a golf club he brought it crashing down with force across the very centre of Ritchie’s buttocks. He yelled. It was a lusty cry and the boy’s sobs became great gulps. The cane rose again and John aimed it at an imaginary spot five or six inches beneath the surface of his brother’s buttock. The cane lashed through the soft and now very sore buttocks and bit deep into the flesh.
Ritchie released a blood-curdling scream, his feet drummed up and down on the carpet as if he were a soldier on sentry duty. The boy’s face was deep puce and tears flowed freely down his face. Huge sweat patches had formed under his armpits and the hair on his head was so wet it looked like he had just stepped out of a shower.
John was sweating buckets too. His breathing was heavy and his heart pounded with his exertions. He was a fit young man, but rarely, even on the hardest machine at the gym, had he felt such physical strain.
Whop! Whop! Whop! He landed three scorchers one after another. His aim was perfect and they all landed within a centimetre of one another. Blood must surely be seeping from wounds beneath his brother’s tight jeans and snug cotton underpants.
Ritchie buried his head in his hands and held on grimly.
Two more strokes to go. John had a plan, he knew how excruciatingly painful it would be to land the final cuts diagonally across the boy’s arse. That way they would cut across the existing welts reigniting the pain. The result would be an unendurable agony.
He moved position slightly and whipped the cane down. Ritchie’s yell would not have shamed a banshee. “No!!!!!”
He did not scream for mercy. That was as well, since John would show his brother none. The final lash struck making a second diagonal so that the wretched boy’s buttocks now had a perfect X across them.
It was over. There was the slightest rattling sound as John laid the cane down on the dining room table. His brother’s yells had subsided to loud gulps as the poor lad tried desperately to suck air into his lungs. The agony in his arse had travelled north, south, east and west across his whole body, but now it was subsiding into a glowing throb.
“Get up, it’s over.” John could barely get the words out; his own metabolism was severely disturbed.
Unsteadily, Ritchie hauled himself up. Quickly he grabbed hold of the settee as he realised he did not have the strength to stand on his own two feet. Tears and snot covered his face and his shoulders heaved as more sobs evacuated his body.
John wanted to get this over with. “If you cause this family shame again, I’ll flog you on your bare buttocks. Now go to your room.”
Ritchie did not need telling twice. Holding on to the wall for support he eased his way up the stairs, crashed open the door of his room and dived onto his bed, burying his sobs into the pillow.
John meandered into the kitchen, picked up a coffee mug and filled it from the cold water tap. He stared through the window as he took great gulps. Oh, mum I miss you so very much.
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second