“I don’t know what to do, I’m at my wit’s end really I am,” Tony stared down into his half full glass of lager. “It’s that bloody kid of mine.”
“What Shane?” his pal munched on a potato crisp.
“No the older one, Dwayne,” Tony sipped his tepid drink and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, clearly distressed.
“What’s up. Not in trouble with the law?”
“Soon will be the way things are going. I don’t know what to do,” Tony drank heavily.
“What did he do this time?”
“Everything,” Tony drained his lager and stared down at the foam in his glass. “He hasn’t done a day’s work since he left school last summer. Nothing. It’s not like there ain’t jobs out there.” He peered across the gloomy bar to his pal who nodded agreement. Encouraged, he carried on, “I wouldn’t mind if it was just a burger bar, or filling shelves at Tesco. It wouldn’t have to pay much.”
His pal interjected, “Just to bring some money in. They can learn stuff on the job, then get a better one later.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Tony was relived to have a sympathetic ear, he had become quite depressed in recent weeks over the antics of Dwayne. “It might give him some self-respect.” He swirled the dregs of beer in his glass, silently recollecting. “He stays in bed to all hours of the day and then goes out until God knows what time. Treats the house like a hotel and gives his mother lip all day long.”
“I know the feeling mate,” his pal stood up and headed for the bar. “Let’s have another drink and you can tell me all about it.”
Fortified by alcohol, Tony recounted the tribulations. “He’s driving Sharon up the wall, even said she wouldn’t mind chucking him out.”
“Onto the street?”
“She don’t mean it of course, she’s just at her wit’s end. Me too.”
His pal broke into a broad smile, irritating the hell out of Tony. “I don’t see there’s anything to laugh about,” he fumed. “It ain’t no joking matter.”
“Nah mate, nah,” his pal waved his hand through the air to calm Tony. “I just mean I know what you’re going through; we had exactly the same trouble with Wayne.”
Tony leaned forward across the table to hear more, trailing his shirtsleeve in spilt lager. When his pal stayed silent, Tony prompted him, “Well what happened? What did you do?”
His pal’s face flushed and it wasn’t the beer. It was the memory of his solution. “I don’t think I can say,” he blustered. “It was all a bit weird.”
“What d’you mean? Tell me.” Tony couldn’t hide his irritation.
“No, well, I dunno. I might get into trouble.” He blinked hard, debating with himself whether to continue, “You know with the social workers, or police, or somethink.”
“What the bloody hell you talking about? You can’t get me going and then not tell me what happened,” Tony grinned.
“Well,” his pal took a long draught of beer and settled back to tell his tale. “Wayne was exactly like your Dwayne. Lazy, no job, never did a stroke around the house. A real pain in the arse.” He broke off and laughed. “Yeah, that’s about it, a real pain in the arse. I was going mad, didn’t know what to do. I spoke to my brother about it and he tells me that he had exactly the same problem with his kid. No job, sloppy, rude, the whole nine yards. So know what he did?”
Tony shook his head and his pal continued. “He only gave him a right good spanking.”
Tony frowned; had he heard correctly? “A spanking? What you mean like …” he struggled to find the right word, so gave up, “… a spanking?”
“Yeah,” his friend leaned in closer in case the girls at the nearby table overheard. “Yeah, as in whacking, walloping, y’know.”
“But Wayne’s eighteen.”
“So what. His lad was nineteen if he was a day.”
“But ….” Tony trailed off speechless.
“Yeah,” his pal spoke in a whisper, “That’s what I thought. Besides, even if I reckoned it was a good idea, how could I do it? Wayne’s built like a brick outhouse and look at me.” There was no need for Tony to look, he knew his pal was running to fat. Too many nights supping lager in the pub. He wouldn’t stand a chance in a stand-up fight with his son.
The subsequent silence went on for too long, so Tony thought he’d better say something, “So nothing happened then?”
“Nah, I didn’t say that. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Ken, that’s my brother, he swore it was the best thing he ever done. His boy’s now at college, he’s gonna be a plumber. So you can see I was tempted.” He took a swig of beer, looked Tony squarely in the eye, and carried on. “Then one night, my Louise is at bingo and I get home about seven and you’ll never credit it.” He paused for effect and when Tony stayed dumb he filled in the details.
“I gets into the kitchen and what do you think I see, it’s only Wayne. And he’s as pissed as a fart and he’s only half naked. No trousers, no pants. Nothing down below. And he’s only got a bottle of my booze in his hand. Stolen it out of the kitchen cupboard. So I says something like ‘What you doing?’ and he turns round and tells me to fuck off. Yes! Really.”
Tony’s mouth gaped open; he tried not to laugh. Even his Dwayne had never sworn at him like that. “What did you do?”
His pal shook his head as if he couldn’t believe himself what he did next. “Well, I just flipped. I went apeshit. I never planned it, I swear.” He waited to get a nod of consent from Tony and carried on. “There was this board on the kitchen counter. Y’know the thing you use to chop vegetables and the like. So I just grabbed hold of it. It was no bigger than a DVD cover and I just hurled myself at the brat. He never saw me coming.”
Tony gaped, he had guessed what happened next. “You never did.”
“I did. I grabbed him by the neck and before he knew it I had him bent over, face down over the table. He was really effing and jeffing now. But I didn’t care. I just whacked that board across his arse. He was stark naked of course and his bum was as red as a pillar box after I walloped him two or three times.”
He refreshed his mouth with lager, “But I didn’t stop at that. I was whacking every inch of his bum. Really hard. And I was telling him about all the bad things he had done and how he needed to get a job and make something of himself.”
“Didn’t he fight with you?”
“I think it was the drink … and the surprise. I don’t really know. I had him pinned down by the shoulders and he wasn’t going nowhere. Anyway at last I let him go and he ran back to his room hollering.”
Tony shook his head in disbelief. He could see why his pal didn’t want the Social or the police to know. It seemed like his pal had finished his story, but Tony thought there must be more to it. “What happened next? Didn’t he just carry on like before?”
His could see his pal’s eyes twinkle. “You know what,” he said, “I’m no head doctor, you know a trick cyclist like, but I think I touched a nerve.” He grinned at his own joke, “I mean not just the nerves in his arse. It was the first time I’d really showed him that I cared. The next day we had a good talk about it and I told him that there were rules in life. You have to put something in to get something out.”
“Did he understand? Did he change?”
“Well, no. Not straight away. But I told him that if he didn’t buck up his ideas, I’d do it again. The spanking like. And, I’d keep on doing it until he grew up and learned how to behave proper.”
“I bet that went down a storm,” Tony remarked sarcastically. His pal drew on his beer and peered at Tony over the rim of his glass. “You know what, it did. I really think he tried. He even went out looking for a job (or at least he said he did).”
“Good for him.”
“I really thought things were going to get better. Then, suddenly, it was like nothing had happened. He stayed in bed all day, was surly around the house, y’know.”
“So what happened?”
His pal blushed and his eyes misted. “Well, we had a right heart-to-heart. Y’know, proper like. Father and son. And, I said I loved him.” Tony could feel his own face warming. He could never talk to his own son that way. His pal continued, “And, I said I promised him that if he didn’t buck his ideas up, I’d give him another spanking.” He was nodding his head vigorously now.
“What did he do, punch you in the kisser?”
“No. I told you I had hit some nerve or something. I told him I was going to give him a good hiding with my belt. ‘Right, I said. Go and get a chair from the kitchen and bring it here. He did that.” He paused, enjoying having Tony’s rapt attention. “Then I said, ‘Take down those jeans and bend over the back of the chair’. You should’ve seen his face. What a picture.”
Tony gulped down a mouthful of lager too quickly, he choked it back up, covering his mouth with his hand to stop it spewing over the table. His pal continued his tale. “And, he only went and did it. No argument. He just undid his belt, pulled down his jeans and leaned over the back of the chair, pointing his arse at me. Meekly. No questions.”
“Well, I gave him a right leathering. On his underpants. He ooohed and argghed, the way you would and just stayed there, head down, bottom up and let me get on with it. Whack. Whack. Whack.” Tony stared in fascination as his pal drained his glass.
His pal smacked his lips. “D’you know what. By the next week he had a job, he started paying us rent. He was a changed lad. Because we showed him the way. Set boundaries. Self-respect, you see. Now he’s doing City and Guilds or some-such in electrics and soon he’ll be a skilled man and,” he winked jovially, “rolling in money. Loadsamoney!”
Tony collected their glasses and headed for the bar wondering whether he could ever find the courage to do the same.
Picture credits: Unknown
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