Tommy Tompkins was nineteen years old, going on thirteen, and his neighbour in the house next door thought he was a pain in the arse.
He had complained to Tommy’s father, of course. Many times, but his dad just said, “What can you do? He’s nineteen.”
“I’ll tell you what you can do,” Mr. Alderson was at the end of his tether. “If he insists on behaving like a little boy, you should deal with him like one.”
Mr. Tompkins’ puzzled face irked Alderson and he snapped, “A damn good hiding, that’s what he needs.”
Mr. Tompkins’ blank stare hadn’t changed. “Damn it man, if you won’t do it, I shall!” Mr. Alderson roared.
Still, Tommy’s dad was impassive.
“I mean it! I really mean it!” Mr. Alderson boomed as he stormed back into his house.
The problem was Tommy Tompkins had an impish sense of fun and his neighbours in The Avenue were fed up to the back teeth with him. Only that morning the teenager had taken his catapult and stalked the chaffinches in the garden. Well, Tommy was no hot-shot and a large pebble sailed through Mr. Alderson’s window. The problem was it was closed at the time. Smash! Broken glass was everywhere.
Tommy high-tailed it out of the garden pronto. He hid, as he often liked to do, on the roof of his house; behind the chimney. He was there when he overheard Mr. Alderson threaten to give him “a good hiding.” Well, Tommy thought, we’ll see about that. He would make a plan. A jolly jape. Just like the boys did in the storybooks he devoured.
“Sticky Willy” in The Rover was a special favourite. Willy had a special glue that worked in an instant and once two things were stuck together nothing on earth could pull them apart. If only he could find glue like that, Tommy would smear it on the handle and stick old Mr. Alderson to his front door.
They didn’t sell the glue in the shops in the High Street. When Tommy asked at the ironmonger’s, Mr. Wilson laughed out loud and sent him on his way. “Stop wasting my time young ’un. Sticky Willy indeed,” he chuckled.
Tommy would not be deterred. He would still have his revenge. What could he do? Then he had an idea. He had seen it done in The Hotspur. It was devilishly simple. His father was at work and mother was at the Women’s Institute so he had the house to himself. Even though he knew there was nobody at home, he nonetheless tiptoed through the hallway to the cupboard under the stairs, just in case he was heard. His heart thumped. In his mind, he was a British Commando on a mission behind enemy lines. If he were discovered the consequences for the whole country would be dire. The war might even be lost.
Stealthily, he opened the door. It was dark inside, but he knew where it was kept. It hadn’t seen the light of day for some months and was buried under a pile of old cushions. He reached in and took hold of a greasy wooden handle. Then he tugged. It came free easily. He was holding a long thin broom to sweep a chimney.
Careful, not to leave a tell-tale line of soot for Jerry to follow, he moved slowly into the sitting room. It shouldn’t be a difficult task, he convinced himself. He had seen father do this many times before. You had to put the brush end of the stick up the chimney and wriggle it about. Then, a cascade of soot would fall into the fire grate.
Tommy supposed he must have wriggled a little too hard. The soot fell with a whoosh! And landed in a pile at the foot of the chimney. But, it didn’t stay there. An almighty black cloud hovered over the unlit fire before moving across the room and settling in a thin dust on the sitting room carpet. Tommy knelt and stared. Only then, did he remember father always laid an old blanket on the floor before sticking the brush up the chimney.
Time was short, he couldn’t be delayed on his mission. Jerry would be here at any moment. He had to act quickly. Ignoring the soot on the ground and oblivious that he was treading it into the deep pile of the carpet, he walked across the room to the dining table. There he picked up two brown paper bags he had left earlier.
Tommy’s hands were as black as the soot itself by the time he filled the bags. Now, he was ready. Soot bombs. He trudged through the room out into the hallway and up the stairs, into the attic and through the window that took him onto the roof. All concern that Jerry would follow his trail was forgotten; Tommy’s footprints were throughout the house.
The nineteen-year-old sat behind the chimney stack and waited. He was swiftly rewarded. He heard the back door of Mr. Alderton’s house open and the miserable neighbour shuffled into the garden. He was wearing old, baggy grey flannel trousers and a worn shirt. On his feet, he wore his bedroom slippers. In his hand, he held secateurs. Unaware of the interest he was creating on the rooftop next door, Mr. Alderton set about deadheading his roses.
The first bag of soot hit him on the shin, before splitting and falling to the grass.
“What the …?” he looked up startled, just as the second bomb flew through the air and hit him squarely in the face.
Mr. Alderson peered in the direction the missile had flown. “Grrrr!!” spluttering, he shook his fist at Tommy. His impish next door neighbour had made no attempt to hide. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” he roared.
The teenager stood perplexed. He stared at Mr. Alderson and his neighbour glared back. What is he wearing? Mr. Alderson couldn’t understand it. Tommy was dressed in a red football jersey and white shorts. What kind of fellow wears a football shirt when not actually playing football? What was going on in that boy’s tiny mind, he fumed.
He waved his fist at the stupid boy. “Get down here this instant,” he growled. “At once,” he continued, in case his instruction had not been clear. He wiped soot from his face and mouth while Tommy disappeared from view.
“Pah,” Mr. Alderson said aloud, although there was nobody there to hear, “He’s probably run away. Well, just wait until I get my hands on the little nuisance.”
He was wiping his face on the sleeve of his shirt when Tommy came through the side gate. Mr. Alderson stood startled. So, he hadn’t legged it after all. Tommy’s usually blank expression was as uncomprehending as ever. A wave of fury overtook Mr. Alderson. He moved forward five steps at pace, reached out and grabbed Tommy by a clump of his hair.
Mr. Alderson dragged the boy through the garden. He had no definite plan, but he was determined in the outcome. He glanced around the garden. He was familiar with its layout. There wasn’t much there; a lawn area and flower beds. The garden table and chairs were locked away in the shed. How would he do this?
Inspiration struck. Still tearing the teenager’s hair, Mr. Alderson frogmarched him to the low wooden fence that separated his garden from the one next door. He still had the element of surprise, Tommy did not yet understand his fate. Releasing the boy’s hair, Mr. Alderson took him by the scruff of the neck and manhandled him until he was bent across the fence.
Tommy was a small fellow, but his body still cleared the height of the fence. He was bent double with the palms of his hand planted in next door’s flower bed. Time was of the essence, Mr. Alderson reckoned. In no time Tommy would break free and run away. Mr. Alderson wrapped his left arm around the boy’s waist and with his right hand he gripped the waistband of the boy’s shorts, tugging them and his pants to the thighs.
Tommy’s protests were vocal and physical. “Gerroff! Leggo!” he wailed and he wriggled his hips and kicked his legs. Mr. Alderson held him firm. The naughty neighbour was going nowhere. Mr. Alderson nearly toppled when he stood on one leg and pulled a slipper off his foot. He gripped it tightly by the heel, raised his arm and brought it crashing down on Tommy’s naked left buttock.
His creamy white bum, now had a dark pink outline of the slipper imprinted on one cheek. Mr. Alderson noted how the buttock wobbled like jelly with the impact of his leather-soled slipper. He whacked it down again; this time on the right cheek. Another delightful imprint appeared.
“Oww! Oww! Oww! Leggo! Leggo!” Tommy wriggled and roared. He made far more noise than the pain from the spanking so far warranted. Mr. Alderson walloped the slipper across the boy’s bare bum another four times. The wailing reached a crescendo. Tommy kicked his legs and wriggled some more. But, for now, Mr. Alderson held him still enough to inflict another dozen whacks.
Oww! Oww! Oww!” Tommy screamed blue murder.
In the house next door, Mr. Waite, rushed to the bedroom window attracted by the commotion. He had a bird’s-eye view of the silly boy next door, bent over Mr. Waite’s garden fence, his arms waving hysterically and his legs kicking wildly. His arse was bare to the wind and Mr. Waite’s good friend was pounding away with a heavy slipper.
Mr. Waite leaned out the window, the better to enjoy the fun. Why, he wondered silently to himself, had he not thought to do this himself?
Picture credits: The Champion; Rover
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second