Mr. Burton heaved a heavy sigh and glared at the three young men standing in front of his desk. Won’t they ever learn? The law had been in place for three years, they knew the rules – and the penalty for breaking them.
Osbourne, Rowe and Tapler, three twenty-something trainee managers stood hands behind backs, head slightly bowed. Contrite. Waiting for the inevitable. Mr. Burton noticed how all the young men a Global Petroleum looked like peas in a pod. Dark, perfectly creased trousers, gleaming white shirt, tie knotted tightly at the throat. Neat, short hair. Clean shaven.
There wasn’t much to be said. They knew why they were there. Just returned from a company residential course. They had too much to drink one night and missed the start of the following day. That would not do. Not do at all. Action had to be taken.
“It was a serious training school, not a vacation,” Mr. Burton leaned forward in his chair, planting his forearms on the desk. He was a tall wiry man in his early fifties. He was known as one of the “old guard” – staff who had been at Global since before the changes. When Britain was still in the European Union and before the huge economic crash. Things had changed when the New Democrats came into power. Mr. Burton was a keen supporter, the country had been going to the dogs – especially the young people.
“Well, let’s get on with this shall we,” he lifted himself from his sumptuous leather chair and made his way across the office, conscious of three pairs of eyes craning to watch him go. His destination was a long table. It had a drawer running along its length. Mr. Burton tugged it open, creating a rattling sound. To the three young men it seemed to echo around the office, the sound bouncing off the walls. Osbourne’s hands started to shake. Rowe stared intently at his highly polished black leather shoes. Tapler absent-mindedly rubbed his thumbs across the seat of his trousers.
It took Mr. Burton only seconds to reach in the drawer and withdraw a long, thin whippy rattan school cane. They still called them “school” canes, but since the law was passed it was permissible to beat young people in all walks of life. It started when they brought back corporal punishment to schools and soon its use spread to colleges and universities. Then misbehaving apprentices found they could have their backsides blistered. Suddenly, young people learned how to behave. The public loved it. Next thing the law allowed anyone in authority over the young to beat them black and blue.
This cane was made of the traditional rattan and when Mr. Burton flexed it between his hands he effortlessly made an arc. He looked across at the three young men, each still facing his desk. Three backsides waiting to be beaten. He walked slowly back to his desk, gently swishing the cane as he went.
“I think twelve strokes should do it, don’t you?” It was so gently said Mr. Burton might have been asking a genuine question. As if the lads were able to negotiate. “You know what Mr. Burton, I rather think I deserve three dozen.”
Rowe stared at the cane in his boss’s hand. “But we already got dealt with by Mr. Richardson.”
“Be quite! I don’t care about Mr. Richardson.”
Rowe blushed. It wasn’t fair. The workshop facilitator had already spanked them. Twenty-three years old and bent over Mr. Richardson’s knee, trousers at his ankles, underpants at his knees while the old man hammered a heavy wooden ruler into his bared buttocks. Could you imagine such a thing?
Mr. Burton swiped the cane through the air. “Rowe, Osbourne, stand by the wall.” He nodded to his left and the two young men obediently shuffled. “Tapler. Stand there.” He tapped the tip of his cane in the middle of a red-patterned rug. Tapler breathed deeply. His palms were sweating. He rubbed them against his trouser legs and set off across the office.
“Take down your trousers. Bend over.”
The three young men expected this. They weren’t the first employees to be beaten by Mr. Burton. They wouldn’t be the last. Even so, Tapler’s open faced coloured. His palms dampened again. This was too embarrassing. He saw Mr. Burton tap the cane against his own leg impatiently.
“C’mon lad, I haven’t got all day.”
Tapler’s wet fingers unbuckled his narrow back leather belt. He popped the button on the waistband of the trousers and tugged the zipper. The weight of his keys in his pocket helped them slither down his legs. He felt a slight breeze as they went.
“Bend over, lad.” More tapping against his leg.
Mr. Burton used to order a lad to, “Touch your toes.” He wasn’t sure why. It was the traditional way, he supposed. What generations of schoolmasters had done. He quickly learned it was better to have the lad grab his shins. It kept the knees straight and the bum was beautifully rounded to receive the swish of the rattan.
That was how Tapler presented himself. His spotted boxer shorts fitted snugly against his stretched cheeks. The lad’s shirttail hung down and covered most of his buttocks. It was no effort for Mr. Burton to take the edge and push it up the lad’s back to his shoulders. Mr. Burton was surprised how hairy the twenty-two-year-old was. Quite the hairiest youngster he had ever dealt with.
Tapler stared at the rug. It had a pattern but he couldn’t work out what it was. Some modern art perhaps. From the corner of his eye, he saw Mr. Burton take up position. He felt the cane being “sawed” across the centre of his tight buttocks. Then it was lifted away. He heard the swoosh as the cane flew and the crack as it connected with the seat of his underwear. It was a second or so later that he felt the tremendous pain. A thick welt was already forming under his boxers. It throbbed like mad.
Tapler gripped his calves so tightly his fingernails scratched the flesh. The second and third swipes bounced off his bum; landing in almost the same spot. It knocked the wind out of him. He shut his teeth just in time to stifle the “yowelll!” he wanted to make.
Osborne and Rowe looked on apprehensively. Their pal seemed to be taking the thrashing well. Rowe had howled when Mr. Richardson spanked him, he couldn’t imagine taking a trousers-down caning stoically.
Tapler’s head ached and saliva drained from his mouth. His boss continued his task with determination. It was his duty to instil discipline in the young. One day, when they were managers and making a good career at Global they would thank him for days like this. All his employees would. Mr. Burton was convinced corporal punishment worked. A sore arse never did any harm. The youngster broke the rules, learnt a very painful lesson and the world moved on. God was in his Heaven.
Twelve swipes of the cane across the underwear is an awesome punishment. By the time Tapler was allowed to stand his bum was ripped to shreds. Even without rubbing his hands across his buttocks he knew there were high ridges rising on the flesh. It felt like his shorts were stuck to the skin. That was either sweat, or God forbid, blood.
The trainee manager took Tapler’s place. Tapler’s ashen face and damp eyes made Osbourne’s skin crawl. Osbourne took up position, let his trousers fall and bent to stare at the rug. Mr. Burton grimaced. Osbourne wore the most garish briefs, in a kind of zebra pattern. He had noticed that although young men dressed outwardly alike, they favoured outlandish underwear.
“Brace yourself boy.” He lashed the first cut home.
He had landed number eight when the office door swung open. Mr. Harris the section head – Mr. Burton’s boss – stood in the threshold. He was younger and beefier than Mr. Burton. He smiled broadly. “I heard there was something going on in here.”
He stared across at the zebra-covered arse. “Don’t I know you,” he grunted. “Didn’t I have occasion to thrash you the other week?”
“Yes, Sir,” the reply was addressed to the rug.
“Give me that, Burton,” he grabbed the cane from his hand and marched up to Osbourne. Rowe and Tapler watched in horror as Mr. Harris gripped the waist of the twenty-three-year-old’s pants and ripped them to his knees, completely baring the buttocks.
“You’ve given him a good set of marks, Burton,” he said with genuine admiration. Eight thick parallel lines ran from the top of the globes, over the crest of the buttocks and into the soft sit-spot. Mr. Harris raised the cane high and thrashed six stingers into the bare flesh. Rat-tat-tat, like machinegun fire. Osbourne howled like a banshee. His body twisted this way and that. His knees buckled and straightened as he fought to stop himself jumping to his feet and rubbing away at the scolding flesh.
“Here, carry on,” Mr. Harris handed the cane back and perched his buttocks on the edge of the desk. He folded his hands demurely over his crotch and made himself comfortable to watch the rest of the show.
Other stories you might like
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second