I came home unexpectedly early that afternoon. A pipe had burst and we had to evacuate the office to let the plumbers in. I’d expected the house to be empty. Colin, the only one of my kids still living at home, would have been at business college and my wife was at work. As I closed the front door I heard strange noises coming from the sitting room. They sounded human, but they weren’t exactly voices. I went to investigate.
I don’t know what I expected to see, but I’m absolutely convinced about what I didn’t expect. There on the couch naked as the day they were born was my son and a young man I did not know. They were kissing and cuddling. I think I let out a shriek, like some old maid. The other boy stared at me startled. He went pillar-box red, climbed off Colin, grabbed his clothes and dashed into the hallway.
There the boy – to this day I don’t know his name – hurriedly dressed before flying through the door, leaving me to confront my son. I was naturally dumbstruck. Literally struck dumb. Unable to speak. Colin took the opportunity of my silence to pick up his own clothes and still naked he took the stairs two at a time and I heard his bedroom door slam.
Only then did I think what to do. Father O’Kelly is our parish priest. He’d know what to do. I picked up the phone, dialled his number and put in place this train of events.
I’m not gay. Really, I’m not, but I am curious, I think. It was Jake who came on to me. I know him from college; he’s training to be an accountant. He came on to me, holding my hand, stroking my hair. Not that I objected. I want to make to clear that I’m not claiming sexual harassment here, nor assault. Like I say I was curious, so I went along with it.
I’ve done it twice with Sandra, a girl at college, so I know I’m not gay. That was nothing like doing it with Jake. She was soft and cuddly; he was hard and muscular. And, of course, there’s the cock. Have you ever seen an erect dick? I mean really looked. I’ve jerked mine off many times, but I’ve never actually looked at it.
More young men than you might expect are homosexually inclined. They are attracted to their own genitals and to the bodies of other young men. I told this to Colin’s father when he called me. It is a sin, but it is usually only a passing phase; something that a boy must pass through. I have seen many young men through this passage of their lives. I was ready to help Colin. Together we could get him back on the straight and narrow path to God.
I wasn’t surprised when Dad said I must visit Fr. O’Kelly; he is a devout Catholic (Dad that is, I can’t be so sure about the priest). I go to Mass every week, but I think mainly that’s just to keep the peace at home. I do believe in God and all that and I like to think I’m a good person (most of the time).
Fr. O’Kelly asked me to see him at his home, which puzzled me. I thought we would meet at the church where the confessionals are. He has quite an ordinary home for a priest; it’s a detached house in a street called The Avenue, which is in an up-scale part of town. A very leafy suburb. I had to get two buses from our council flat.
Fr. O’Kelly was in his “civvie” clothes; black trousers and a grey roll-neck sweater. He is about fifty years old and stands a little over six feet; he has a spare tyre at his waist and his face is fleshy. His eyes always seem to me to be pink and watery. I think he had only just showered and shaved as there was a distinct whiff of Lifebuoy about him.
He directed me into a living room. I stood unsure what I was supposed to do. It’s a smallish room, with a two-seater couch, a leather armchair and a coffee table. There’s a glass-fronted bookcase along one wall. I must have been shuffling from one foot to the other a bit impatiently waiting for the Father to join me in the room, before I saw it. I honestly had never seen anything like it before. Where had it come from? Why did a Roman Catholic priest have one?
Resting on the coffee table was what I can only describe as a school cane. These things had been banned about thirty years ago; long before I was even born. It was about a metre long and a light brown (almost yellow) colour. One end was bent to make a handle. I couldn’t resist picking it up. It was as thick as a pencil and had four notches along its length. When I held it between both hands I found it could easily bend and when I let I go it sprang back into shape.
“You should really put that back where you found it.” I’m sure I blushed as Fr. O’Kelly swept into the room. Hastily, I returned the cane to the coffee table. The priest perched himself on the edge of the couch, I stood embarrassed, unsure if I was permitted to sit. It was like being in the headmaster’s study (not that this had ever happened to me at school).
I clasped my hands behind my back and with head bowed I listened to his speech. It sounded prepared, like a sermon he might pull out of his pocket when it was necessary. He said that it was not unusual to have homosexual urges, but they were a sin. It was only a passing phase and they could be overcome. A young man’s life need not be ruined.
I was glad to hear this. Since my experiment with Jake I had worried tremendously. I didn’t want to be gay; I wanted to be normal. Like everybody else; like my Dad; like the people at church; like Fr. O’Kelly.
I don’t remember all that the priest said, but there was something about redemption. And, there was something about penitence. I missed most of this. Suddenly, there was silence. I blushed. Had he asked me a question, was I expected to answer?
“I said,” Fr. O’Kelly repeated himself, “It is necessary to beat this sin out of you.” I heard that all right. “It will cure you of your affliction and help you to live a normal, healthy life.” I watched spellbound as Fr. O’Kelly reached over to the coffee table and picked up the cane. He flexed it between his hands, rather as I had done earlier, then he swished it with terrific force through the air. It made an intimidating swoosh as it flew. My heart beat fast.
Fr. O’Kelly took two paces across the room and stood close to the leather armchair. “Come, stand with me,” he said. It was a gentle command, but a command nonetheless. The priest expected to be obeyed. I shuffled close to him; the scent of the soap tickled my nostrils and for one absurd moment I thought I was going to sneeze.
Fr. O’Kelly flexed the cane once more. “I want you to lower your trousers and underpants and bend over the chair.” He tapped the tip of the cane against the apex of the chair in case there was any doubt what he meant.
I suppose I stared in astonishment, I certainly did not move. “Trousers, pants down,” he said a little more sternly this time. Maybe my jaw dropped, I’m pretty sure my mouth opened and closed, but I couldn’t form words. He said it for the third time, “Trousers and pants down,” as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a nineteen-year-old boy to undress in front of a fifty-something priest to offer up his bare arse for a thrashing with a school cane. All to cure a homosexual trait.
I can’t fully explain what happened next. I’m not sure I will ever understand, but some power overcame me. I knew beyond any doubt whatsoever that Fr. O’Kelly was right. I had to undergo penitence; I needed to show remorse; be contrite. It would cure me of my urges and I would be able to lead a normal, happy life.
My hands trembled, but I got them to unbuckle my belt. My brown chinos hung loosely at my waist and they started slipping over my hips. I unbuttoned at the waist and they hurtled down my legs, passed my knees and flopped at my ankles. I was wearing micro-briefs and as I lifted up my shirt and pullover and looked down my flat hairless stomach, I saw they were so small and so tight they hardly encased my cock and balls. Tufts of pubic hair sprang out the sides. I put my two thumbs either side of the waistband and guided the briefs down my legs, abandoning them just below the knees.
I was once again aware that I was not alone. Fr. O’Kelly tapped his cane against the back of the chair and spoke, “Bend over.” I had never been caned; I had never been spanked. I don’t think I had ever even been slapped as a very small child. I was entering uncharted territory. I was determined to cooperate. This was for my own good. I would emerge from the experience a better person.
I lifted up my shirt and pullover so they were completely clear of my buttocks and leaned forward. The soft leather felt cold against my bare stomach. I rested my palms in the seat cushion and spread my fingers. The seat back was quite low and my torso sank into the soft leather. Instinctively I parted my legs, but I was restricted by the trousers at my ankles. Over the edge of the chair seat I could see a red-and-beige-patterned rug. I was facing a bay window and when I lifted my head I realised it was open. Had it not been for lace curtains I would have been able to see into the garden.
Fr. O’Kelly pressed the cane into my stretched bum. First he went to the top of the crown, then he “sawed” the stick across the fleshiest part of the buttocks, before turning his attention to the “sit-spot”, the underside of the curves. He seemed to be taking an inordinate time setting up his aim. I did not object to this; I would have been quite content if he delayed a lot longer.
At last he was ready. I felt the cane lifting away from my bum, there were a few moments silence followed by a tremendous whoosh and the rod bit deep into the very centre of both buttocks. I heard the thwack as rattan connected with meat a second or so before I felt the agony. It was as if Fr. O’Kelly had pressed a white-hot wire into my bum.
My knees buckled. The palms of my hands slid on the smooth leather seats. I wanted to grip hold of something tightly to help me absorb the pain but there was nothing, so I bunched my hands into fists and dug my nails deep into my palms. I shut my eyes tight and opened them almost immediately. My ears stung as blood flooded into them.
I had no time to recover from the shock before Fr. O’Kelly flogged the second cut into my under-curves. My top teeth bit deep into my bottom lip and I tasted blood. My head flailed left and right and up and down. I wanted to twist one foot over the other to stop the pain but my trousers prevented this.
The third and fourth strokes came in immediate succession. Bam! Bam! That was when I lost it. I coughed up bile and swallowed it down again. I howled. There really is no other way to describe it. A banshee would have been proud of the noise. I could no longer see the pattern on the rug, my vision was blurred by tears.
By now I had lost all sense of time and space, but I am pretty certain there was a delay before the fifth swipe was delivered. What I do know is that I felt the cane being once more “sawed” across my buttocks as the priest found his spot. This time the cane lay in a diagonal from the bottom of my left cheek to the top of the right. When Father O’Kelly let fly the whippy rattan flogged across the four previously delivered cuts, reigniting the agony in them all. I lifted my feet off the floor, wrapped my arms around my head, gasping, desperately sucking in air.
My heart very nearly gave out at that point. My blood pressure must have been off the scale. I was aware of arteries throbbing. My temples pounded. Any moment now I might have a stroke.
I wasn’t aware of such things at the time, but the “traditional” tariff for schoolboy beatings was “Six-of-the-best”. Fr O’Kelly was nothing if not a traditionalist. He took his aim for the sixth and last time. Now, he had the cane resting along the opposite diagonal. My bum was so toasted and my nerve ends so frayed that I could not feel this. I felt the resultant swipe right enough. When I inspected the damage later I saw he had imprinted a perfect “X” on my arse.
He had finished, but he left me heaving over the back of the leather armchair. My nose was so close to the soft cushion I could smell the leather and the sweat of countless backsides. My bum felt like I had sat on a barbecue, the agony was intense. But even as I lay there waiting for permission to stand, the pain was already easing into an intense throb. Soon it would be merely sore and then just a tingle. I had problems sitting on a hard surface for some hours and it was days before the bruises disappeared.
Fr. O’Kelly let me stand and dress and he said a little prayer. I was on the path to salvation, he said. I was cured of my homosexual inclinations; of that I was certain. What puzzled me was why I had a raging hardon that night in bed when in my mind I recounted my bare-arsed flogging.
Picture credit: Sorachan
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second