A group of them were talking in the pub. The beer was flowing. There was only one topic of conversation. Those bloody kids. The ones who congregated around the bus stop at night. Giving innocent folk grief.
“Have you seen the graffiti? The swear words?”
“They drink strong cider, then piss it up all over the bus shelter.”
Everyone spoke at once. They all had horror tales.
“They make racist comments to the Muslims.”
“Did you hear what they called young Garry?” Garry had cerebral palsy. He dribbled a lot. “It was so upsetting for his mum.”
“We should do something about those hooligans.”
“Yes, we should.”
“Whose round is it?”
More beer was drunk.
It had been the beer talking. When they first came up with the idea it was conceived in drink. But, later, in the cold light of sobriety, it still sounded a good idea.
So, they made a plan. It was pretty simple. It would work. If everybody played their part and didn’t bottle out at the last minute.
They chose Thursday night. They needed access to the community hall. It was used most evenings. But not Thursday. So, Thursday it was.
They needed tools. That was a bit more difficult. The thing they needed most wasn’t made anymore. It had gone out of fashion. Time was you’d find them in every school. In many homes too. But, not now.
Old Joe thought he could find a decent alternative, so he was set loose in the nearby woods to see what he could come up with.
The others scoured their homes to see what they could contribute.
It was Thursday night; nearly nine o’clock. It had threatened to rain, but it was clear now. Stars were out. The louts at the bus shelter were swigging cider; smoking dope. There were five of them. A gang of mates. All unemployed and living off the state. All over eighteen, all strong, all able to work. Just bone idle, that’s all.
They didn’t know what hit them. Five family cars pulled up together. Passenger doors opened. Podgy middle-aged men got out. Not the fighting kind. The louts would have made mincemeat of them in a fight. A half-fair fight. But this was no fair fight. They had surprise on their side.
In the blink of an eye plastic shopping bags were over heads and five louts were bundled into backseats. Plastic ties bound their wrists. Cars sped off. Round one had been a success.
Trestle tables had been put out at the community hall. One was covered in fresh switches. Old Joe had done a good job whittling. They really wanted good solid school canes. The whippy rattan kind. With curved handles. But the switches would make a good substitute.
There were also belts and brushes. Someone had found a pair of old-fashioned bedroom slippers. Ones with checked uppers and flexible leather soles. A heavy razor strop took pride of place. Did anyone still use cutthroat razors?
A dozen strong and some not-so-strong men awaited the arrival of the cars. They were psyched up. Waiting. Ready to give the louts the thrashings they thought they so richly deserved.
It was such a simple plan. Each car in turn pulled up outside the hall. Then, the unwilling passenger was hauled inside. A dozen men helped to tie each hooligan over the trestle tables. Face down, backsides high. The perfect position. Legs were tied together with rope. Nobody was going anywhere. Not until punishment had been effected.
They shouted, hollered and shrieked. And that was before a single lash had connected.
Gerry Aldermaston decided he was the residents’ leader. He made a speech. It wasn’t Churchillian; nobody would have followed Aldermaston into gunfire. But he spoke from the heart. The five young men with their jeans-covered arses on show had destroyed the peace of the community. They vandalised common property. Good, honest, decent, people were afraid to walk the streets.
“It has to stop and it must stop right now!” he roared.
Five young men muttered curses. None spoke out loud. The enormity of their plight was clear. They were at the mercy of Aldermaston and his cronies.
“Gentlemen,” Aldermaston spoke to his colleagues as if they were an army platoon. “Down with their jeans. Underwear too.”
That set the five hooligans off again. Whining and cursing and kicking their legs. It was to no avail. Five pairs of naked buttocks were soon on display.
“Come to order, please gentlemen,” Aldermaston was marshalling his troops.
Each resident picked his weapon of choice.
“What a pity we don’t have a proper school cane,” Mr Winstanley sighed aloud. “They don’t make them any longer,” he added. His colleagues muttered their sympathies, all ignorant of the existence of eBay.
Twenty-five residents formed an orderly line.
Aldermaston was enjoying his moment in the limelight. “Gentlemen,” he smiled, “Take your marks. Let punishment commence.”
Then each man stepped forward and slashed his instrument of punishment into the naked haunches of the erstwhile terrorists. One after another they whipped switches, belts, a razor strop, a slipper and assorted brushes across the bared cheeks of the hooligans. Then they resumed their original positions and went around the circuit again. And again. And again.
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second