I am watching Aitkens. He seems to be waiting patiently for me to begin. He is prostrate across a gym horse, dressed in his PE kit: white shorts and vest. The horse is a little high and he is on tip-toes so he can stretch his body across it to grip the two front legs. This makes his back arch and his buttocks are pointing at me at an angle.
I am surprised how big he is but I don’t know why I should be. He is eighteen years old and one of our prefects. He’s in the rugby team and I suppose his bulk is a virtue on the pitch. The muscles in his arms and his legs are straining as he hold his position.
I can’t read his mind. Is he submissive? Certainly, he did not put up a struggle when I told him of my intentions. Nor, did he protest. Why would he? Why could he? He deserves everything that is coming to him.
The gym is empty, it is shortly after four in the afternoon and school is over for the day. I bet Aitkens wishes he was with his pals, on the bus into town, where they will hang around the shopping centre, leering at girls (or whatever it is boys his age do these days). Not this afternoon. At least not yet; he has an appointment with me first.
I flex the heavy cane between my hands. It is about three feet long and as thick as a pencil. It’s dark brown in colour with notches along it every six inches or so. As I bend the cane I can tell it is more powerful than the rattan canes we usually use. It’s called a Dragon, I believe. It’s property is that it’s denser than other canes and it packs more of a punch. Properly applied it will leave severe marks and bruising on a boy’s backside. Good. Aitkens deserves everything that is due to him. I hope by the time I am finished he won’t be able to sit for a week.
Aitkens is a bully. It is as simple as that. Pathetic, isn’t it. This big, strong sixth-form boy has made a career out of stealing dinner money from the juniors. If they don’t cough up the cash, he quite literally bashes them. I should correct myself there. I don’t believe he has bashed any of the kids, the mere threat of violence is enough to make them hand over the dosh.
I can’t be sure how long it’s been going on, but I have every reason to believe it has been a considerable time. At last we have found him out. Now, he will get his just deserts. I look at him over the horse, he is still, waiting, staring down at the wooden floor of the gym. Is he remorseful? Does he regret his shameful action? There must be some regret surely, but I suspect it might only be the regret of being found out.
I want him expelled from the school. We should chuck him and all bullies out on their ears. That would be a deterrent for other louts who think they can torment their juniors. I wanted him out but I know the headmaster would never countenance it. It will be too public a gesture. It will draw attention to the school. Parents will demand answers to awkward questions: how did we allow bullying to take place? How much is still going on?
No, it is better to keep the matter within the confines of the school. To hush it up, if you will. So, here we are this late afternoon. Me with the cane in my hand and Aitkens bent across the horse with his backside pointing out. I’m annoyed that the school rules only allow me to administer a maximum six strokes. Damn, stupid rules. Aitkens deserves to suffer badly for all the pain he has caused others.
The rule says he can only be caned on the seat “as normally clothed”. That is supposed to mean wearing trousers and pants. I would gladly thrash him on the bare buttocks. And, yes, so hard and so often that he bleeds. There, I’ve said it. He is a lout. He is not a mischievous little boy deserving a short, sharp shock. He is not a lazy bones in need of encouragement.
So, it is to be six on the seat as normally clothed. Aitkens is presenting his backside to me in tight fitting cotton gym shorts without underwear. If some blasted school governor wants to argue it out with me later I’ll tell him Aitkens is as “normally clothed”. That’s as normally clothed for a gym class. Aitkens made no protest when I instructed him to present himself to me dressed in this fashion. Perhaps, he doesn’t know the school rules. That’s his look out. I wonder if I could risk ripping down his shorts and giving him six stingers on the bare. Would he tell on me? Sadly, it’s best not to find out. The headmaster would not support me and it would be me out on the tiles, as it were, and not Aitkens.
I am only allowed six strokes so I will make them count. I discussed how best to do this in the staff room earlier and Hopkins, the Head of Mathematics, told me how the prefects caned a boy at his school back in the day. They would have the boy positioned over a desk (but any piece of furniture would suffice) and they would rub their cane across the centre of the boy’s bum to get an aim, then they would stride away for five or six paces and then raise the cane high above their shoulder and take a run up before flogging it into the waiting bum. “It would take his arse off,” Hopkins told me with great satisfaction.
I am not so sure that I can do that with Aitkens. I think it takes a great deal of skill to get the cane to land on target. So much could go wrong in the run up. I might miss the target altogether. I suppose that wouldn’t matter too much if the cane whipped him across the back of the thighs; that would be excruciatingly painful and would surpass any agony Aitkens might feel from an orthodox caning.
I suppose if I wanted to thrash him on the thighs, I could just do it. I mean I just need to stand beside the boy as I would in ordinary circumstances and whip the Dragon into him there, rather than across the backside. It is a temptation.
I decide not to go in for the athletic approach. I stand about three feet to his left (a cane’s length) and rub the heavy rod across the curves of his cheeks. At such close proximity I see that he seems entirely relaxed; unconcerned that he is about to be beaten. His backside is rather meaty and although this is not entirely necessary I allow myself to rub the palm of my right hand across his contours. I smile gently as his bottom quivers in response to my caress. I pat him twice on each cheek as if to say I am ready to go.
This message makes him wriggle his hips and shake his bottom from left to right. He grips the wooden legs of the gym horse tightly. Aha! He is not so unconcerned after all. He opens his eyes wide and seems to be taking an inordinate interest in the scratched wooden floorboards in his line of vision. I tap the cane across his shorts. I intend an uppercut. That is to say I will whip the cane from below so that it bites into the undercurves of his cheeks. I will put all my beef into it and should be rewarded with a thick welt. It will be in the exact part of his bum that connects with a chair whenever he sits. He will, I hope, feel it for some considerable time to come.
I find my aim and draw the cane back. It wobbles as it rises. I hold it high and steady for a moment and am delighted to see Aitkens’ bum clench tightly. It is now as hard as rubber. As a devoted golfer I have a superior upper body strength. I use every ounce of it as I flog the cane into the seat of his shorts. Bingo! A perfect hit. The cane sinks into his flesh and seems to remain embedded there for a second. Another second passes before “Yeow!!” Aitkens felt that all right. He grips the legs of the horse tighter. His knees buckle under the pain. His buttocks wobble.
I stand back and admire my handiwork. A clear line where the cane struck is visible across his white shorts. I can’t see it but I know there is a livid red welt forming under the cotton. Satisfied with my effort so far, I take aim again. Sometimes with a caning a master will go “round the circuit”. By that I mean he will try to strike as much of the buttocks as humanly possible, leaving not a square inch of bottom un-scorched. There are many merits in that approach. The boy is undoubtedly left sore. But I wanted Aitkens to encounter maximum agony. Since I have discounted the “run-up” approach I intend to go for Plan-B.
Plan-B is simple. For it to succeed I must lay the cane on the same spot as often as I can. This means that the welt that already throbs on his backside will be reignited if I can land the cane on top of it. You get the picture? It will double the pain. Think then how it will be if there are six strokes. I might be able to achieve my ambition of drawing blood.
I take my aim and whack him as hard as I would if beating a carpet. Spot on! His head rises and falls and he stamps his legs up and down. “Huff, huff, huff.” I can’t quite describe the sound he makes, but wind is whistling through his lips. The back of his neck is scarlet, as I suppose is his once-creamy backside.
I take a third swipe. It lands just below the other two. Aitkens yells. Oh how I wish I had been able to give the bully a public thrashing. How the youngsters he bullied for so long would enjoy seeing him reduced to this. I stand back to take in the scene. His knuckles are white, he is holding the horse so tightly. His short, fairish hair is soaked in sweat. It looks like he has just stepped out of the shower. I take a gentle stroll so that I can now see Aitkens from the front. I am delighted to observe his once-open and rather handsome face is now distorted like that of a gargoyle. Good, I hope he is suffering.
Number four hits right on target. He does the wriggling and the stomping and the yelling once more. I congratulate myself. I am on fire. And so is Aitkens’ backside. Tears are flowing freely. I did not expect this. Senior boys do not as a rule cry during a caning. That is something we expect from a junior boy, subjecting himself to corporal punishment for the first time. Again, I rue the fact that Aitkens’ victims cannot see this.
I stand close to Aitkens. His shorts are tight and I can clearly see the effects of my caning. His under-cheeks are corrugated. I want to know if there is blood. I can’t see any so I press my hand into Aitkens’ flayed bottom. Of course, he roars with the pain. The cotton of his shorts is pressing into the welts and I hope to see traces of blood. Alas, there is none. Disappointed, I take up my position once more, determined to rectify this.
I surprise myself with the ferocity of stroke number five. I have found reserves of strength I did not know I had. It was another uppercut and as it whizzes through the air and cracks into his buttocks I am sure it slices them open. That one should have taken his arse off, to use Hopkins’ very apt phrase. Aitkens is in deep distress. Manfully, he keeps his position, head low, bottom high, despite the tears and the snot flowing down his face. I ought to admire his fortitude but I can only hope the humiliation he feels outweighs his all too obvious agony.
One final stroke to go. I hesitate. I dearly want to know what his savaged backside looks like. I have a last chance to achieve my ambition. Shall I rip down his shorts so I can examine the naked flesh beneath? I know I am not permitted to beat him on the bare, but am I also not allowed to do this? I will allow him to pull them up before I deliver the final lash.
I take the coward’s way out. I do not want the aggravation that will come if Aitkens sneaks on me to the headmaster. So for the last time, I take aim. I go for the middle of the red, throbbing stripe of flesh. By now it must feel to Aitkens like he has been sitting on the glowing bar of an electric fire.
Whoop! Bulls Eye! I stand back only now realising that I gripped the cane so tightly that my fingernails dug into my palms. My pulse is racing and I am suddenly aware of the cold sweat soaking the back of my shirt. I stare disinterestedly at the eighteen-year-old writhing over the top of the horse. Yes, he is crying but I despise him because he is not more hurt. Given my way they would be calling for a medic at this point.
I do not want to let him go but really what choice do I have? Six strokes is the maximum I am allowed to give. It is no consolation that I delivered six-of-the-very-best. Aitkens, nor any other boy at this school, would have suffered such a caning before. But, that is no comfort.
“Get up. Go!” I rasp and Aitkens hauls himself to his feet. He dares not look at me and unsteadily he sashays across the gym towards the exit. I watch him as he goes. I tuck the cane under my arm and prepare to leave, a dark cloud of dissatisfaction over my head.
Picture credit: Sting Pictures
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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