A public service

Tony stared into his Smartphone, a double cappuccino cooling by his side. He crossed his legs, glad that they were hidden beneath the table. The door spun open, the wind howled outside. Al walked across the coffee shop, leant towards him and they puckered their lips together.

“What are you reading?”

“Something from South Africa. There’s a fella who punishes people, you know canes them, for a fee.”

“Nothing unusual in that.”

“No, he does it for a service to parents. He deals with their older unruly teenagers. Twentysomethings, too.”

Al smiled. Typical Tony, searching for spanking stories on the Internet again. “Doesn’t seem very likely, does it?”

“It’s here,” Tony nodded at the tiny screen as proof. “In a paper in Johannesburg.” He slipped his fingers to scroll to the top of the news report. “They’ve banned the cane in schools, so this fella takes the place of the headmaster. He’s doing roaring trade, apparently.”

“Fake news,” Al said with great authority, and when his pal stared back blankly, he continued, “They put up fake stories on Facebook and then people share and tweet them and they go viral. There was something about it on Sky News last night. It’s all a pack of lies.”

Tony shrugged, “It could be true.”

“Yeah right.”


Johan shuffled the final few yards to the house. He had found it easily. Far too easily. He couldn’t believe this was happening. His father must be crazy. The sun blazed on his back. He had left his school blazer at home, but as instructed he wore the rest of the uniform. At this time of year that meant an open-necked white shirt, pale-grey short trousers and not much else.  He was a star rugby player at school; built like an ox. He reckoned he was too big, too old, for this.

They had won a famous victory. They did what rugby players always do. They went out on the lash. Too much beer had been drunk. There had been some trouble at a bar, Johan couldn’t remember too much about it. It was the final straw. There had been warnings. Ignored by Johan.

“A trip to Dr. Uys will soon sort you out,” his father had it arranged already.

Johan paused at the gate to the house. Another young man stood forlornly at the doorstep. His short trousers reached half way to his knees. He must have stood six-feet-two at least.

They shared perfunctory nods, barely acknowledging each other, before the door eased open. Johan gulped a lungful of air and followed his companion, noting his blue-and-yellow-school blazer sticking to his back with sweat.

The hallway was large and circular, five wood-panelled doors – all firmly closed – dominated the interior. A spiral staircase led to three upper storeys. The air-con blasted Artic air. Johan shuddered; it was like being in an ice box.

“Face the wall,” Dr. Uys was a small man; his victims towered above him. He was wiry and beneath a black roll-necked sweater was a firm, hard body.

The boy in the striped blazer swivelled on his heels, placed his nose two inches from the wall, locked his fingers and placed them on the top of his head in typical naughty-boy style.

“Hands on head,” Dr. Uys spoke softly. He was a calm presence. He had no need for histrionics. He knew he would be obeyed.

“Well, Christiaan, I was astonished when your father telephoned me. After the last time, I thought you would never want to see me again. This is your third visit. Parents will believe that my methods do not work.” He paused to allow the import of his words to sink in. Christiaan tensed. “So, this time we must make sure that you learn. It will be on the bare. I have cut some fresh switches.”

Johan’s beige face blanched. He stared intently at the peeling plaster in front of his nose. This was unreal. He was eighteen years old for the love of Mike. In a moment, he would be expected to present his backside to this weird man and there was nothing he could do about it. His father was adamant. Johan would certainly get a rugby scholarship to the Varsity but it wouldn’t be enough. He would still need money from the family. He had to show he was serious. Take a beating and then improve his behaviour. Or else.

The beating? Would it hurt so much? His buttocks had been bruised before. South African rugby players had a spanking ritual. It started with the national team. If a player screwed up on the field or was late for training they would get a dose of the borsel, a heavy wooden clothes brush. Only last week three teammates had held Johan stark naked over a bench while the club captain pummelled his arse black and blue. Johan wanted to believe it made him a better player.

“Let’s get on with this, shall we?” Dr. Uys’ soft voice interrupted the boy’s thoughts. “Johan, follow me.” Johan watched, heart pounding, Dr. Uys move across the hallway and opened an oak-panelled door. He paused, realising the teenager had not moved. “Now, boy,” his calmness unnerved the boy. He couldn’t quite get his legs to move. “I shan’t ask again,” Dr. Uys purred.

It was a large dining room, with a table that ran almost its entire length. It could easily seat twenty people.

“Stand there,” Dr. Uys nodded to the head of the table, closest to the door. Johan’s eyes widened, his body shook. He had never seen a punishment cane before. It looked pretty awesome at a little over three feet in length, not counting the curved handle. It was as thick as a pencil and even from a distance Johan saw it was worn with use.

Dr. Uys had a little speech prepared. A litany of misdeeds was read; all Johan’s misbehaviours from the past months; minus some that thankfully for the boy his father had not discovered.

“Your father insists on an exemplary thrashing.”

Johan had no idea what “exemplary” meant, but could guess. His buttocks were to be ripped to shreds.

Saliva drained from his mouth as he heard the cane rattle against the walnut table when Dr. Uys picked it up. Dr. Uys swished the rod through the air at speed. Johan swallowed the last of the spit. It looked a mighty effective tool. The borsel would be nothing compared to this.

Dr. Uys rattled the cane against the desk. “Take down your trousers and bend over, please.” It sounded like a genuine request. “Please, if you feel that you’d like to, bend over for a flogging,” but the doctor expected, demanded, to be obeyed.

Tears pricked at the back of Johan’s eyes. There was no escape. No amount of pleading would save him. He had made his bed, now he must lie in it. If he wanted to be a rugby star one day, he would have to submit his backside to the cane.

Unable to look at the doctor and his wicked cane, Johan concentrated on unfastening the clasp at the top of his grey short trousers. The waistband was half elasticated and needed no belt. He fumbled with the zipper and they slithered down his thighs.

Dr. Uys watched intently. The pale-grey material fell to the floor revealing bright yellow underpants clinging to the rugby player’s meaty buttocks. The eighteen-year-old had some package, tightly secured at the front.

Johan hesitated. Was he to take down the briefs? Christiaan was due a bare-arsed thrashing. Dr. Uys sucked in breath and tapped the cane once more across the edge of the table. “Bend over.”

Johan was a tall young man, but not so much that he could reach the far edge of the huge table. He creased at the waist and stretched forward. Instinctively, he moved to grip the sides of the table, but this was futile, so he folded his arms and rested his head on them. He felt a movement and from the corner of his eye he watched his tormentor prepare himself.

He felt his shirt being lifted away from the target area up his back. A second fold took it to his shoulders. Johan’s body shuddered, partly through fear, but also because of the icy air-con.

“I shall deliver twelve strokes,” the doctor sounded like he was reading a script. “You must stay in position throughout until I instruct you to rise. If you move you will incur extra strokes. Do you understand?”

Johan had never heard the word “incur,” he was learning a lot that afternoon. He groaned. He could have said Yes; he might have said, No. Dr. Uys took it as an assent. He flexed the cane between his two hands and then “sawed” it across the centre of the teenager’s buttocks. A wry smile creased his lips when Johan’s buttocks tensed. He tapped the cane one-two-three watching Johan’s cheeks form a tight ball.


Thwack! Dr. Uys saw the boy’s body shiver, his hips writhed and his head threw back. Under the tight cotton a clear line rose up.

The doctor tapped twice more, a little to the south of the first cut, he drew back his arm and gave the next cut. Johan was ready for it. His body flinched, but his head did not move. He groaned. This was way worse than anything he had endured from his rugby teammates.

At stroke five, the doctor delivered a perfect hit into the underside of Johan’s buttocks, just where they joined the thighs. A dark red line immediately glowed across bare flesh. Johan shrieked, “A-a-a-a-argh shit!” and his body bounced up and down across the shiny table top. He bit deep into his forearms. His legs kicked. His feet marched up and down on the spot, like a soldier on guard duty.

“Calm. Stay calm.” The doctor’s voice was soothing. He rather admired the teenager before him. He was taking his first-ever caning rather well, he thought. Other boys had run screaming from the room at this point.

He lined up the swishy rattan cane once more and gave a couple of light taps and waited two or three seconds. Then, Swish! This one hit the meatiest part of the globes. It sank into the flesh and bounced out again, leaving a deep cut behind. Johan howled. Tears like young rivers cascaded down his face. Vomit clogged the back of his throat. He swallowed hard just in time to stop it spewing across the table top.

Dr. Uys paused. The boy’s bright yellow underpants were spotted with orange. They clung to his firm round bottom by a combination of sweat and blood.

Johan lost count of the strokes, but Dr. Uys had not. He was a man of his word; he delivered twelve almighty stingers across the underpants of the troublemaking teenager. The final of the dozen, he placed at a diagonal so the rattan whipped into Johan’s already red-raw flesh reigniting the pain endured by all eleven previous strokes.

The boy’s bum was numb. It throbbed so badly that oddly he no longer felt the agony. It felt like his buttocks had swollen to twice their natural size. He lay face-down across the table, his arms drenched in spit and tears, sobbing quietly, unaware of his surroundings.

Dr. Uys replaced the cane on the table top. “You may rise.” When the boy made no attempt to move, he translated, “Get up. It’s over. Get dressed.”

Slowly, the eighteen-year-old hauled himself to a standing position. He stumbled and gripped the edge of the table for support. He gulped air into his lungs, bent like a hairgrip and holding onto his knees he wheezed a recovery and tugged his short trousers over his buttocks, wincing all the while.

“Wait there,” the doctor was anxious to deal with his next culprit. He ambled across the room and picked up a document and a ballpoint pen. He handed it to the boy who could not bear to look his punisher in the eye.

“It is for your father, to prove I have fulfilled my contract.” Johan’s hands shook. He scrawled something; he could not form a signature, but it would have to do.

“Follow me.”

Unsteadily, Johan shambled behind the doctor across the hall. Christiaan who still faced the wall with his hands on his head turned his body, his face deathly pale. Dr. Uys, opened the front door wide. For Johan, the day was over. Not so for Dr. Uys; he still had work to do.


Other stories you might like

The cartoonist’s painful memory

A memorable night at the theatre

The Gaffer of the Academy: 1. Beginnings



More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website


Charles Hamilton the Second



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