Kevin stands in the middles of the sitting room, gaping at his landlord. His head is light and the room is spinning. His heart races and although he cannot see it he knows his face is flushed bright red. He can’t quite catch his breath. He has never had an out-of-body experience, but he knows this must be how it feels. The room has a dreamlike quality. All is hazy. He cannot quite find his bearings, although he has been in this room dozens of times before.
His landlord is speaking to him. Kevin cannot make out the words. He feels from the tone of voice his landlord is not happy. The landlord’s face is pasty, the lines on his forehead and cheeks are as deep as ravines. The landlord is angry. Kevin struggles to make out the words. His knees begin to buckle. Every one of his senses is in overdrive. He fears he might faint to the floor.
His landlord takes a pace across the room. It is a large room. At one end there is a large leather sofa with two heavy, matching plush armchairs. Opposite them is a dining room table, large enough to seat eight people in comfort. Against the walls are dark, mahogany bookcases full of china ornaments. There is a sizeable collection of dogs and cats in cute poses.
Kevin’s head is static, but his eyes follow his landlord on his travels. What saliva that is left in Kevin’s mouth drains. His temple start to throb and his eyes water a little. The landlord is small in stature, his shoulders slump a little. He will never see seventy again. He halts by the dining room table. Turns to Kevin says something that the teenager cannot decipher. Kevin is not listening, he is watching. His eyes stand on stalks when his landlord reaches forwards and gently picks up the long, thin whippy rattan cane that rests there. He peers at it for a moment as if he has never seen it before. As if he has no idea what it is. As if he did not know what it is used for.
Suddenly, the landlord snaps out of his spell. He turns to face Kevin. Now, the landlord has the cane in both hands. He flexes it, demonstrating to Kevin how easily it bends. Kevin stares transfixed. The cane is about three feet long and as thick as a pencil. It is yellowy-brown in colour and even at a distance Kevin can see the notches that run along its length. His landlord swishes the cane through the air. It makes a terrific whooshing sound as it flies. Kevin closes his eyes and is transported back in time.
It is five minutes previously. Kevin is passing through the gate to the large detached house that for the duration of this university term will be his home. Kevin feels the gravel crunch under his feet as he makes his way to the door. He fishes in his pocket for his housekey. His attention is drawn to a large bay window to his right. He knows it is the window to the sitting room, he has passed this way many times before. Usually he would not notice it. What is there to see? It is just a window, after all.
There is something different this late afternoon. He hears the sound of voices. Kevin is not an inquisitive boy. He has no interest in other people’s conversations, especially not in their private conversations. But there is something special about this conversation. He cannot at first understand what it is that has made him stop and listen. He realises immediately that it is his landlord speaking. It is a warm day and the windows are open. Kevin cannot hear the words clearly, but there is no mistaking the tone of voice. His landlord is angry. Kevin is intrigued, but he does not understand why. Something is drawing him to take two steps closer to the window. He does not go too close. Kevin is a well brought up young man. He knows it is rude to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.
He stays a distance from the window. He can hear enough to get the gist of the conversations. He can see perfectly into the room. He sees his landlord and the landlord’s son Eric. Eric is wearing his school uniform. Kevin supposes he has just returned home from school. Eric is in his last year at school and Kevin knows enough about Eric to know that he is not the best behaved eighteen-year-old in the town of Brocklehurst. Kevin stands perfectly still, his conscious is troubling him. He knows he should not be there, spying. But, an instinct he does not understand makes him stay. Something is about to happen. Kevin cannot guess what that something will be, but he knows – he just knows – that it will be momentous. Things will never be the same again.
Kevin’s landlord is at least seventy but his wife Alice is closer to forty. Life can be complicated some times. Kevin has yet to learn this. He soon will. Kevin watches as his landlord delivers a lecture to his son. Eric remains impassive, head slightly bowed. The lecture is soon ended. Eric elects not to respond. Kevin watches as his landlord imperiously steps across the room. His landlord pulls open a drawer that is part of the dining room table. He reaches in. He pulls out a thin, whippy cane. It is just like the ones that are used to punish naughty boys in schools up and down the land. Kevin’s jaw drops. It literally falls an inch or two and his mouth is open.
Kevin’s landlord says something to Eric. Kevin cannot hear what he has said, but Eric does and he responds immediately. Kevin watches fascinated, unbelieving. He sees Eric shuffle a couple of steps across the room until he reaches the dining room table. He stops, hesitates for a moment and then slowly leans forward. He does not stop until his stomach and chest are laying flat across the table top. Eric stretches his arms forward and with his hands he grasps the far end of the table. In this position Eric’s buttocks are angled across the near edge of the table.
Kevin has a perfect view. Eric’s pale-grey trousers are stretched across his bottom. He is a large boy and in this position his buttock cheeks appear round and firm. He parts his legs a little and wriggles his hips. He settles. Eric is now submissive. He is waiting for his father to get on with it. Kevin has never seen anything like this before. They did not have corporal punishment at his school. He knows about canings, of course. He has seen enough comics and read countless school stories while growing up.
Kevin’s heart races as he watches his landlord tuck the cane under his right armpit and approach his prone son. With great delicacy Kevin’s landlord takes hold of the edge of Eric’s blazer and gently he pushes it up the teenager’s back. He moves it far enough that it is out of the way of his target area. Kevin sees Eric’s buttocks quiver. He assumes it must be the anticipation of what is to come that makes them do that.
Kevin’s own body is also reacting with anticipation. Kevin has urges. Desires. Wants. Needs. He has never spoken about this to a living soul. The front of his underpants suddenly become tight. Kevin’s landlord rubs the palm of his right hand gently across Eric’s left buttock. Then he does the same to the right cheek. He is smoothing out the wrinkles from the seat of Eric’s trousers. He is satisfied. He is good to go.
Kevin watches, transfixed. Kevin’s landlord takes a step away from his son’s submissive body. He stands to the left, slips the cane from the armpit to the hand. He taps it across the very centre of Eric’s bottom. He takes aim. Kevin sees Eric’s buttocks tense. They are a little firmer than before. The cane taps. Once. Twice. Kevin’s landlord raises the rod above shoulder height and with a slight twisting of his body he brings it crashing down across Eric’s bottom. Kevin winces as the cracking sound of rattan connecting with stretched trousers reverberates around the room. The windows are open and the noise is clearly heard in the driveway. Kevin wonders if they can hear it beyond the walls and hedges in The Avenue.
Kevin’s landlord slashes a second swipe down. The cane sinks into Eric’s bottom and almost immediately bounces back. Kevin knows it must hurt. How can it not? Kevin concentrates hard, following the direction of the cane as it takes aim, as it lifts away from Eric’s bottom, as it returns at tremendous force and leaves its mark. There are now three clear indentations across Eric’s trousers. Kevin stares at the eighteen-year-old’s quivering bottom. The pain must be intense. At least that is how Kevin always imagines it. In his fantasies. Himself stretched across the armchair in the headmaster’s study. Sometimes, but by no means always, his trousers are at his ankles and his tight, crisp, white underpants are offered to the cane.
Kevin’s landlord puts another stroke across his son’s bottom. Eric’s head raises from the table top and then he headbutts it. Kevin supposes it is his way of dealing with the pain. Wind whistles through Eric’s teeth, but apart from that he makes no sound. Kevin’s landlord delivers twelve strokes. Each one is a stinger. A swipe. These are not love-taps. Kevin’s landlord is not playing games here. Kevin is still rooted to the spot. He cannot move. All his senses are in pieces. He is unable to put into words his feelings. Meanwhile, Eric lifts himself from the table. His face is scarlet. He and Kevin’s landlord exchange no words. Clearly in great discomfort, Eric hobbles from the room.
Time is standing still for Kevin. He does not know how long he is standing there before he realises he should go into the house. His hands shake as he searches for his key. At last he gets the door open. He is still disorientated and he drops his books and they crash to the floor. It seems to Kevin that the sound they make as they fall could wake the dead. He kneels down to gather them. He sees carpet slippers. Kevin’s landlord is standing there. Kevin, still on his knees, peers up. Kevin’s landlord appears to tower over him. Kevin sucks in breath. A faint aromas of coal tar soap mingles with cigarette smoke.
Kevin’s landlord is speaking, but Kevin cannot distinguish a word. Next thing he knows Kevin is standing in the sitting room. Everything is spinning around him. Kevin’s landlord is speaking. He is telling Kevin about last night. How the student came home in the early hours. How he had missed curfew. How the house was locked up. How Kevin’s landlady had to get out of bed for him. How this was not the first time. How rules were rules. How breaking rules had consequences.
Kevin hears none of this. In his head he sees Eric stretched across the dining room table. The very same table that is only feet away from him. He sees Kevin’s landlord whipping twelve stingers across Eric’s backside. He sees the cane raising and falling. He remembers the dream he has. The dream he has had, many times. Eric is in his room. There is a small, low backed armchair. Kevin is in his pyjamas. Kevin is bent across the back of that armchair. Head low, bottom held high. Kevin’s landlord s beating Kevin’s taut backside with a whippy school cane.
Kevin has never been beaten. Never. Not caned. Not slippered. Not tawsed. Not even taken across the knee for a hand spanking. Kevin fantasises all the time. The headmaster at his school, the lecturers at the polytechnic, his father. Then there is Uncle Alan. The man who lives across the way in the same block of council flats. So much wishful thinking. Kevin thinks he will never be spanked in real life. How can such a thing happen?
Kevin’s landlord is flexing the cane between his two hands. This is real enough. Kevin is confused. Kevin is over the back of the armchair; he is just the right height. The cushion soft in his hands. He feels the back of the chair sticking into his stomach. His trousers are very tight. Kevin’s landlord makes his preparations. Kevin waits in position ready for the first stroke. He does not know what to feel. It is unreal. It is absurd. A nineteen-year-old presenting his bottom to his ageing landlord so he can whack it with a school cane. It may be absurd, but it is also intensely exciting.
Kevin feels a hand caressing his buttocks. It is Kevin’s landlord smoothing away the wrinkles in Kevin’s trousers. Kevin shuts his eyes and grits his teeth. This is going to hurt. He hopes. He demands. Kevin feels the tapping of the cane on his left buttock. He hears the swish of the cane. Kevin hears the cane connect with his stretched bottom. There is a definite crack. He waits. Waits for the pain to hit. Nothing. Kevin is puzzled. He feels the cane tap against his buttocks. It is lower this time. Swish! Crack! Kevin’s disappointment is palpable. It does not hurt.
The next stroke is harder. There is a bit of a throb. What is going on? Why isn’t Kevin’s landlord laying it on the way he did with Eric? Kevin feels cheated. This is not how he imagined a caning.
The next strokes are harder. Number five makes him gasp. But only a little. Swish six hits the spot on the crease just where the bottom reaches the top of the leg. That one definitely hurts. This is more like it. Kevin steadies himself. Now we are cooking.
Kevin hears a voice. It seems to be coming from a distance. From over the mountains and far away. Kevin’s landlord is saying, “Stand up boy.” Kevin feels blood rush to his face; his cheeks are scarlet. His buttocks tingle, but he is not in pain. Kevin’s landlord is speaking. Kevin’s head is light. He has never felt like this before. But he wants more. Kevin’s landlord swishes the cane and points it at him. Kevin hears him say, “If I have to do this again, you will have your trousers and underpants at your ankles. Is that clear young man! Now, go to your room.”
Kevin floats up the stairs. Then he is on his bed. His trousers are on the floor. His underpants are at his knees. His todger is in his fist. His palm is sticky. The words of Kevin’s landlord reverberate around his brain: If I have to do this again, you will have your trousers and underpants at your ankles. Kevin does not quite understand but instinctively he knows this is the start of something big.
Picture credit Kernled
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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