The ring tone of the phone played again. With trepidation Alan Hawkes glanced at the caller ID. He knew it would be his dad again. It was the third time in an hour.
He let the phone ring out. He knew he would have to face his dad sooner or later. But not just now. He wasn’t ready yet.
His dad must have seen the newspaper story. It had been in the local paper, but dad lived a hundred miles away. He probably saw it on-line. Someone must have shown it to him.
Alan Hawkes was twenty-four years old. He was a purchasing administrator for a national fast-food chain. He lived with his girlfriend. They had a child. They even had a mortgage. He was an independent adult. But, he would never be free of his dad.
The phone rang again. This time Alan answered it. Dad was mad. “Come home Saturday.” It was an order. One that must be obeyed.
As “crimes” went, Alan Hawkes’s was not big. He and some workmates had too much to drink and empty beer bottles were smashed in the street. The case at the magistrates’ court made the newspaper. A small fine; nothing much.
Saturday was a fine bright spring day. Alan Hawkes arrived at his “home” in the early afternoon. No matter how many years he would live in his own place, his parents’ house, where Alan and his two younger brothers were brought up, would always be called “home.”
He parked the car and walked up the path. He still had a door key and let himself in. His nineteen-year-old brother Jimmy’s came out of the kitchen to greet him. The smile that split Jimmy’s face was as good as a confession. It was he who had told dad.
“You’re for it now,” he crowed. “Dad’s mad as hell. It’s the woodshed.”
Jimmy knew that for certain. Only the previous Tuesday, he had himself been in the woodshed over dad’s knee; his jeans at his feet and his pants at the knees while the old man pounded his son’s bare buttocks with a heavy wooden utility brush. Jimmy and his pals had been out on the lash. With bladders full of beer and nowhere to relieve them they had urinated in a shop doorway. There were no police and no newspaper story. A neighbour passing by had spotted him and told his dad.
They called it the “woodshed,” but it wasn’t really. Theirs was a large suburban house. It had a big garden with a shed, but no woodshed. The “woodshed” was a small space in the basement, just off the utility room where they kept the washing machine and the chest freezer. There was a beat-up couch and a table and an old TV. It was more like dad’s “den.” This was where he would take his sons when they needed their backsides blistered.
Dad reckoned it was more private than the living room or the boy’s bedroom. The boys were never allowed in the den on their own. If they were spotted sneaking down the stairs to the basement, it could mean only one thing: a spanking was imminent.
Dad was a powerful man in his late forties. He owned his own building firm; he’d built it from scratch. He employed hundreds of men. He was the boss. He was used to getting his own way.
Dad and his twenty-four-year-old son stood in the den. Dad eyed his son from head to foot with undisguised distain. Every square inch of Alan’s arms was covered with tattoos. There was another across most of his back that dad couldn’t see. Why did young people mutilate themselves like this, he wondered. Did they think it made them look attractive?
He wasn’t about to have an argument about “body art,” he had other business to attend to.
Alan stood, his eyes blazing as his dad ripped into him. He was determined he would not cry, but the tears were already forming.
“Irresponsible,” “immature,” “reckless,” were some of the words dad threw at his son. “You have a child of your own …” he let the sentence trail off. How could Alan ever think to discipline his own son if he couldn’t behave himself?
Alan watched passively as the colour of his father’s face moved through pink, to mauve, to purple. His old man was genuinely enraged; this was not an act.
“Why am I doing this?” Alan had wondered during the two-hour drive. Why was he travelling a hundred miles knowing that his dad would belt his backside for him when he arrived?
His dad had no control over him anymore. Alan didn’t live at home, his dad didn’t employ him in his business and he wasn’t obliged to him for anything.
All these things were true, but somewhere deep down in his soul in ways he couldn’t understand his dad was still his dad. He was the boss. When he told you to jump you replied, “How high?”
Both Alan and his dad knew how this confrontation would play out. Corporal punishment must be administered.
Satisfied that he had vented his spleen and there was no more to be said, dad strode from the woodshed into the adjoining utility room.
He returned seconds later. Alan’s mouth gaped open. “What the …”
Under his arm, dad held a long thin cane. It was like nothing Alan had seen before. It wasn’t a length of garden bamboo. It had a curved handle at one end and even in its current lifeless state, it looked extremely whippy.
“I got it on eBay,” dad said in response to the quizzical look from his son. “Especially,” he smirked.
He slipped the cane into his hand and wobbled it in front of his boy’s face. Alan’s eyes followed it as his dad made practice swishes. A “swoosh” echoed around the den every time it cut through the air.
“They used to use these in schools. Years ago,” his dad flexed the cane between two his hands.
Alan’s face paled. He had been spanked many times by dad, even as an adult. It always hurt like hell, but nothing he had experienced before would be as painful as this.
“Six-of-the-best they used to call it,” his dad continued. “But, since you are not a little boy, let’s call it twelve.”
He swiped the cane through the air to emphasise his point.
“Trousers, pants down. Bend over the couch.”
Alan’s eyes blazed. Twelve strokes with that cane. Bare arsed.
“B …” he started to mouth the words of protest, but held back. He mustn’t argue with his dad. The old man’s mind was made up. If Alan made a fuss, he would get extra strokes. That was for certain.
He took a deep breath. There was nothing for it. Events had to take their course.
Alan shuffled to the back of the couch. He pulled at the elasticated waist of his trousers sending them south. Then with the merest flick of his wrists the underpants followed. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, rubbed the palms of his hands together, and then as if diving into an icy pond, he threw himself over the back of the couch.
He had been in this position before. Last time, just before Christmas, he had taken a couple of dozen whops from an old razor strop. It was a family heirloom. At least three generations of Hawkes men had had their bare backsides tattooed by it.
Alan straightened his legs and set his feet about twenty inches apart. He kept his head low into the dusty couch cushion and raised his bum as high as he could. Submissively, he waited for the first lash from dad’s new school cane.
Dad had never caned anyone before but he reckoned it wasn’t rocket science. He stood a little to his son’s left and tapped the cane across his buttocks to get an aim. Then, he moved the cane back and whipped it down hard.
Alan’s buttocks were far from firm. He was no athlete and he spent too many hours in the pub. Like so many of his generation, he was already in his mid-twenties running to fat. The cane struck home, sank into his wobbly bum and emerged a split-second later leaving behind a distinctive red mark.
Alan sucked in his breath. It had hurt, but not as much as he had feared.
Swipe number two sank lower across the buttocks. Again the flesh quivered and the cane submerged into the pink mounds. Another line appeared; this one a little deeper than the first. A welt slowly formed.
Alan opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish, but he successfully suppressed any sound.
There was plenty of fat for dad to aim at. He went high with the third stoke, cutting across the top of the curves, just below the base of the back. His son gasped. That one was the most painful yet.
The next one he aimed low, almost across the crease where the bum and the thighs met. Alan yelped. His legs twisted at the knees and his hips swayed. “Huff, huff, huff,” he wheezed. Sweat was beginning to show under his shirt. His heart was racing.
Encouraged by the reaction to the previous stroke, dad laid three more in quick succession in the same area. Rat-tat-tat! It sounded like machinegun fire echoing around the small den.
That had Alan roaring. His face rose from the dusty cushion and he shook his head violently from left to right. Tears flowed down his cheeks.
“Steady. Keep still.” It was a curt command from his dad and Alan knew better than to disobey the order. He gulped in draughts of air.
Thwip, thwip, thwip. Three more slashes cut into the jelly-like buttocks. The flesh shuddered under the impact as the cane struck the same spot over and over. A small trickle of blood weeped from the cut.
Alan was no stranger to corporal punishment, or to its pain, but this bare-arsed caning was the worst he had experienced. He stamped his feet on the floor, bounced his head up and down against the back of the couch and twisted his torso as waves of agony shot north-to-south and east-to-west through his entire body.
Dad swivelled on his heels. That hissing sound had not come from Alan, his son, prostrated across the couch in front of him.
He turned to see Jimmy, his face pale and his lips parted in astonishment.
“You!” dad roared at the nineteen-year-old. He knew immediately that he had sneaked into the basement to try to witness his brother’s humiliation.
“Stand there!” he shook his cane. “Face the wall! I’ll deal with you later!”
Sorrowfully, the teenager shuffled across the room and pressed his nose against the wall. Behind him he heard the almighty swish of the cane flying through the air, followed by a dull thud as it sank into jelly. His brother’s growl was husky; all the saliva had drained from his mouth. He hacked up a dry cough.
Swish! Crack! the cane flew and landed for the twelfth and final time. Dad paused to admire his handiwork. His aim had been true. Twelve distinct marks were burned across his son’s buttocks. Most ran in a perfect parallel one to the other. Blood was seeping from a particularly deep and wide welt. The bum was red raw and he was certain he had given Alan a thrashing he would not forget in a hurry.
Dad tucked the cane under his arm, rather like a sergeant-major might. He made an imposing sight.
“Get up and leave.”
Alan didn’t need telling twice. He pulled himself up from the couch, tugged up his trousers and pants in one movement and headed for the stairs.
Moments later he was hurrying down the street. At the time he found his parked car his brother Jimmy was loosening his trousers before bending over the couch to offer his bum for what would be the first encounter of many with dad’s new school cane.
Other father and son stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second