Lars clutched his savaged buttocks. The warm water of the shower turned crimson as it washed over his throbbing arse. He knew the other guys were watching him to see how he would react. He hopped from one foot to the other, rubbing his bum. He gave them a show. They couldn’t see his smile. He was happy. He was now one of the team.
It had been a boyhood dream for the eighteen-year-old. A player for C___________ Soccer Club. The biggest and best in the whole country. And, now it had become reality. His first senior match was over. A victory. Not that Lars had much to do with that. Truth be told, he had been overcome with nerves. His game was off. An undistinguished debut. Except for what followed.
The team sprinted off the field into the locker room. “Well, young Lars,” it was the Club Captain Sven speaking. A broad smile creased his face. Team members gathered around. Nobody wanted to miss out on the fun.
Lars stood, waiting. At eighteen, he was the youngest in the team. His captain was not much older – just enough to be an elder brother.
“Happy Debut Day.” The team had a special song. It was like Happy Birthday. Tradition. Lars grinned. He knew what was coming. They all went through it.
Indridi, the kit man, arrived just then. A raucous cheer echoed through the locker room. The tubby man gave an audacious bow. “Thank you gentlemen; thank you.”
“Get on with it Indridi!” someone in the back of the crowd shouted. The kit man smiled, enjoying his moment in the spotlight.
“Patience gentlemen. Patience. These things cannot be hurried,” he grinned. He set his bag on a bench and with a flourish, like a magician producing a rabbit, he ostentatiously unzipped it. He paused. He knew all eyes were on him. In his head, he counted to five. The drama was intense.
“Voila!” he reached into the bag. “And, Hey Presto!” To wild cheering, he drew out a birch rod. He held it in both palms lovingly. High. Sven stepped forward. Referentially, as if it were a religious offering, Indridi bent one knee, bowed his head, and allowed the Club Captain to take it.
Lars watched transfixed. The birch was maybe fourteen inches long. It was a tight bundle of twigs, held together at one end by gaffer tape. It looked pretty heavy from where he was standing. Sven clutched it in both hands and held it high above his head. Just as he had done last season with the national soccer championship trophy. His teammates cheered as loudly as they had done that day.
Satisfied that they were ready, Sven sat on a bench. Unbidden, the team formed a semi-circle around him. Everyone would have a front row view.
“Come young lad.” It was a pleasant command. Lars knew he was blushing. He desperately wanted to be part of the team. He would do anything to make that happen.
“Take off your shorts. This has to be on the bare.” Another, kindly instruction. Lars had been naked in front of team mates many times in the past. Stripping held no terror for him. He was rather proud of his muscular body – he was an athlete after all.
The rhythmic sound of clapping echoed around the locker room. Lars hitched his thumbs into the waistband of his shorts. He stepped out of them. Then, his white briefs hit the floor. Thinking ahead of this day, Lars had imagined that he might take hold of the underwear and like one of the strippers in the “gentlemen’s club” across the street, he would provocatively twirl his pants around his head, before teasingly throwing them for a team mate to catch.
In the event, he stood motionless. Waiting for events to take their course.
“Bend over my knee.” The roof might have risen; the cheering was now so intense.
Lars stepped forward. He was a tall teenager, easily six feet and more. He paused for a moment, looking down at the bare knees of his Captain, wondering how this was done. Sven sat on a long bench; Lars supposed the best thing to do was to lower himself across the older man’s knees and lay his chest along the wooden slats. He could stretch his arms ahead of him. His legs would have to dangle in mid-air.
Before he could decide, Sven gripped him by his left wrist and propelled him forward and face-down across his lap. Lars could not see, but he was perfectly positioned, buttocks nicely angled, to receive the lashes of the birch rod.
His Club Captain gripped the birch rod in his right hand and gently rubbed the tips of the twigs across the lower half of the eighteen-year-old’s bottom, just where the under-curves met the thighs.
“One. Two. Three!” the teammates counted. Sven took his cue and brought the birch down with tremendous force. He was rewarded by wild cheering and clapping from the team and a low sorrowful hissing from the boy across his knees. Lars’ eyes widened. His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish. He wouldn’t allow a sound to pass his lips.
Swish! A second cut hit higher. Already, the whole of his smooth, white bum was criss-crossed with thin stripes. Lars heaved his bottom high, but Sven was an expert at this. He wrapped his left arm across the boy’s middle and pressed down hard. Lars was going nowhere.
The boy’s face was now as scarlet as his backside. He shut his eyes, silently vowing he could take this. He must take this. Not to do so meant shame and ignominy. Slices three and four tore into him. Never in his whole life had he felt such pain. He had been injured many times on the playing field, but nothing before had prepared him for this.
Six hard strokes ripped his arse to shreds and then it was over. Blood wept from dozens and dozens of small cuts. Lars’ buttocks resembled raw hamburger meat. The agony had numbed his bum. To frantic clapping and cheering, the boy hauled himself to his feet. Teammates crowded him, each extended a hand for him to shake. Many clapped him on the shoulders. One or two went in for a full hug.
His face glowed with pride. Teammates formed a guard of honour for him to walk through on his way to the shower.
“He took it well,” Sven beamed with pride. “I wonder if Stig will be so stoical when it’s his turn next week?”
Picture credit: Ivory Soap
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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