Fortescue unscrewed the cap of a new whisky bottle. More of the amber liquid splashed onto the table as into the glass. He raised it and gulped. It had been years since he had actually tasted the stuff. Somewhere in the room a wireless played inane disc jockey chatter.
He leaned against the window and peered out, seeing nothing. Dark clouds blocked the sun. Another dull, grey day. He drained the glass, sucked in breath and hacked phlegm into his throat. He reached for the bottle and rattled another drink.
Three paces away was his chair. If he concentrated very hard, he could make the distance. One pigeon step at a time. Concentrate man. It wasn’t much of a chair. Not like the sumptuous leather one he once had his study. This was cheap wood, with a foam cushion. It made his back hurt.
Fortescue slumped. His chest hurt. He leaned forward trying to get his head between his knees. Damn! More whisky spilled.
He slumped back into the chair, head flopping. Soon he would be asleep.
A door opened and closed nearby. He could just make out excited voices of young men. His head dropped onto his chest.
It is a summer’s afternoon. About four o’clock. School has ended for the day. Most of the boys have returned to their homes. Some are at cricket practice. Fortescue can hear their merry voices drifting on the breeze. One young man is not so merry. Chippindale stands in trepidation, hands on head, facing the wood-panelled wall. The study is stuffy, smelling of old man’s sweat and cigarette smoke.
Fortescue sits behind his huge walnut desk. He leans back in his chair and places his hands behind his head. He stretches. He stares intently at the prefect. His pale-grey trousers fit snugly, displaying two chunky buttock cheeks: lifted and separated. The muscles in his back are taut. His gleaming-white cotton shirt clings to the contours of his torso. Even across the length of the study Fortescue can see the damp patch at his shoulder blades.
Fortescue hauls himself to his feet. Slowly, for he is in no hurry and wishes to savour every moment. He crosses the study to the tall, thin cabinet. His hands shake slightly as he tugs open the door. The array of canes is impressive. He doesn’t have to count them, he knows exactly the extent of his arsenal. There are seven assorted rods, some with the traditional crook-handle; most made of rattan and two are dragon canes. The dragons are ideal for thrashing older boys; but today Fortescue has another idea.
The Malacca cane. It is no bigger or thicker than any of the other canes; but it is denser. This Malacca has notches every three inches or so along its length. These cut into the flesh and leave severe bruises and welts; even when applied to a boy’s bottom covered with trousers and underpants. When applied “trousers down,” even on the underpants, it rips at the meat of the buttocks. A boy carries the marks of such a thrashing for at least a couple of weeks and sitting down is a painful business for many days following. As Chippindale is about to discover.
Fortescue flexes the rod between his hands. Perfect. Dense, but whippy. He relishes the sound it makes as he swipes it through empty air. He turns towards the prefect. “Turn. Stand there.” He points the cane at a rather worn rug in front of his desk. He swipes the cane once more, studying Chippindale’s clear, open face, now clouded with concern.
The prefect shuffles into the required position. Fortescue stands, cane tucked under his arm. “Trousers down,” he barks. Without hesitation Chippindale reaches for his belt buckle. Fortescue allows himself a smile. It is all right, he tells himself, the boy cannot see you. It would not do to show his pleasure.
The belt now undone, Chippindale starts on the trousers. He has some trouble with the fly buttons. Fortescue watches intently as the front of the eighteen-year-old’s trousers open, revealing the white briefs beneath. “Down boy. All the way.” It is an unnecessary command. Chippindale is well trained. He knows the headmaster must be obeyed: without question.
The pale-grey trousers slip down Chippindale’s thighs but snag at his knees. He opens his legs a little and they continue their journey south and rest in a puddle at his feet. “Bend over. Touch your toes.” Another barked order.
Chippindale has been here before. He knows toes means toes. Right down. There is to be no resting hands on knees or gripping shins or ankles. He sucks in a lung-full of air and stretches forward. The tips of his fingers brush the toecaps of his shoes. Fortescue’s tongue darts in and out of his mouth, rather like a lizard. The prefect’s knees are slightly bent which thrusts his buttocks out, making his smooth cotton white underpants hug him.
Fortescue flexes his cane once more, seduced by it springiness and power. He looks at the prefect now submissive before him, the muscles on Chippindale’s legs are tense, the buttocks firm and inviting, the back arched. Fortescue advances, now eager to get on with the job. He stands beside the boy, grips the tail of his shirt and pulls it away from the target area, exposing an area of bare, hairless back. He cannot help himself; gently he caresses the proffered buttocks, running his right palm across each mound, discovering that a single cheek fits the size of his hand perfectly.
Fortescue positions himself a pace or two to Chippindale’s left; a cane’s length. He takes his aim, tapping the tip of the dense Malacca cane in the centre of the far buttock. He can scarcely disguise his pleasure when Chippindale’s body tenses and his buttocks clench in anticipation of the pain about to be unleashed.
Any moment now.
Swish! The cane swipes through the air and lands with a resounding Thwack! across the centre of Chippindale’s bum. A thick line forms across the tight, thin cotton pants. A perfect shot. Chippindale hisses, sounding like a steam engine settling down. It is a reflex action, he can’t help it. It’s a natural reaction, his body has to do something to cope with the pain.
Fortescue waits. In his head he is counting to twenty, giving enough time for the prefect’s body to register the stroke, for the burning sensation to travel across the stretched buttocks. Then, just as the agony is easing to mere pain – Swipe! The second cut lands; again dead centre of the backside, but this time a little lower. Now, Chippindale has a line of fire about an inch wide across his stretched flesh.
The headmaster is an expert with the cane. The boys say his beatings are awesome. They should be too – Fortescue gets plenty of practice. Chippindale’s hair is soaked with sweat; his face is as scarlet as his buttocks must be.
The cane flies and lands higher this time. Three perfectly parallel lines. The boy will have something to show his pals later. Fortescue takes pride in his own prowess. Chippindale wriggles his hips left and right. His fingers leave the toecaps of his shoes. He nearly jumps to his feet, but stops himself just in time. He doesn’t want extra strokes.
“Keep still boy!” Fortescue’s voice echoes around the study. He is incapable of speaking in a normal tone of voice.
The headmaster pauses. He lets Chippindale settle, then takes careful aim. The fourth goes high. Chippindale rewards this with his first clear yelp. The prefect breathes hard, drawing gulps of air into his lungs. Fortescue takes a step back, the better to see the four distinct welts that are throbbing beneath Chippindale’s skin-tight underpants. A job well done, the headmaster congratulates himself.
He puts swipe number five lower, into the fleshiest part of Chippindale’s buttocks. Where there is most padding. The cane sinks deep into the meat before springing back, leaving another clearly-defined weal. Chippindale stifles a yell, Fortescue hacks out a dry cough.
The final stroke. Chippindale braces himself, Fortescue smiles broadly. All the boys at the school know about a headmaster’s caning and that last stroke. He adjusts his position, places the cane at a diagonal across both cheeks so it goes bottom left to top right. He taps it so Chippindale has no doubts about his intention. Fortescue likes the way the prefect’s body tenses, his shoulders heave. Here goes, he thinks to himself as he raises the cane high and with the effort a golfer might give when teeing off, he lets fly.
Whop! The cane goes at the speed of sound before crashing into Chippindale’s bum. It falls across the previous cuts and sets each one of them on fire again. Chippindale grips his ankles, determined not to show the intense pain. He wants to jump up and dance around clutching at the scorching flesh. But, he doesn’t. It takes a super-human effort to stay down, bent over, fingertips on toes. He is a beaten boy, he wants to scream and holler but he won’t. He wouldn’t give the tyrant headmaster the satisfaction.
Fortescue knows this. Of course, he is aware of the schoolboy code of honour. He would never tell the boy but he is rather impressed with his fortitude. He loves nothing more than a senior boy who can take a proper thrashing. Fortescue catches his breath and slowly paces the study and opens the door to his cupboard. He replaces the cane and turns to look at Chippindale still bent double, touching his toes. Submissively. A master and his pupil.
The headmaster returns to his desk, opens a drawer and finds the book he is looking for. He writes the details of the beating, omitting the fact it was administered trousers down.
“You may stand Chippindale.”
Hot, sweaty and very sore, the prefect straightens. Fortescue knows he is desperate to rub away at his backside. He is in no hurry. Let him suffer, he thinks. “Sign.” The headmaster slides the punishment book across the desk. Chippindale hesitates, he has no pen.
“Bah!” Fortescue has no patience, he delves back into the desk drawer, rummages around and finds a pen. He rolls it across the desk.
Chippindale signs his name.
“You are dismissed. Send in the next boy.”
Fortescue’s chin slips, he slumps from the chair, catching himself just in time before he tumbles to the floor. He tries to shake the dullness from his head and stumbles towards the bottle. From somewhere he hears a voice faking jollity, “And, now for the ten o’clock news.”
Picture credit: Sting Pictures
This was a story abut The Tyrant Headmaster, for more click here
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