Mrs Taylor spread the newspapers across the kitchen table; all of them, the posh broadsheets as well as the tabloids. “He’s on all the sports pages,” she gasped to her husband, her face glowing with pride.
“Course, he is,” Mr Taylor stood by the doorway surveying the headlines from a distance. “It’s what we worked for.”
His wife picked up the Sunday Mirror. “It says he’s the next Raheem Sterling.”
“I sincerely hope so,” Mr Taylor grinned, “We could do with the money.”
“Oh George,” his wife tittered as she picked up another newspaper to read more about her son Jason, the up-and-coming Premier League footballer. She was distracted by the sound of boiling water overflowing from a pan. Still holding a newspaper she dashed across the kitchen and turned down the gas under the potatoes.
She glanced at the clock on the wall. “I do hope he isn’t late, dinner’s nearly ready.”
“He won’t be,” her husband told her confidently. “He wouldn’t dare,” he muttered under his breath.
“It’s been weeks since he’s been home. So much has happened since we last saw him. He’s famous now,” she beamed.
“Yes,” her husband spoke quietly. “It will be good to see him …” he let the sentence trail off. So much was left unsaid.
His wife replaced the newspaper she had been studying intently back on the table with the others. “Will you talk to him,” she picked up two mugs and rinsed them under the cold tap. She wanted to be distracted. There was something she did not want to face. “You know,” she almost whispered as he busied herself with a tea towel, “about the other thing?”
George Taylor groaned, “Of course, we can’t let it pass. I have to. I’m his father. It’s my duty.”
“Yes dear,” his wife replied softly as she replaced the two mugs on the “tree” on the worktop near the sink. “Yes, I suppose you must.”
Justice arrived on time. Not a minute early, not a second late. Now that Jason was a public figure the football club supplied a car and chauffer. Travelling by tram was now a thing of the past, a pleasure the young footballer would never again enjoy.
“Hello Ma, Pa,” he flung his arms wide and puckered his lips when his mother leaned forward to offer her left cheek. He shook his father’s hand firmly and avoided looking him in the eye.
“Look! Look!” his mother gestured towards the newspapers that still covered the kitchen table. “You’re a star!” Justin blushed prettily. He loved his mother so much.
“No, no, not a star. Not yet,” he said, but even as the words tripped from his lips he flushed deeper. He was not a young man hampered by modesty. Yes, he was a star. He had scored five goals in six matches. He was the hottest player in the league. The Player of the Month.
His father was framed in the doorway. He spread his legs and clasped his hands behind his back. He knew how to make himself an imposing figure. “Jason,” he spoke firmly. “Come with me. Into the back room. I want a little word with you.”
Jason’s heart thumped. A little word. His father never ever wanted a little word.
“But, Pa …” his protest was cut short.
“Now, son. While your mother gets dinner ready.” He turned on his heels. He didn’t need to look back to make sure his son was following. He knew he would. Star or no star.
The back room was the family’s best room. It was the one they used when the priest visited. Other than that people rarely entered, unless it was Mrs Taylor with the vacuum cleaner and duster. It had one further use. Mr Taylor knew that. So did his son.
Jason watched his father enter the room and stand feet apart, hands clasped once more behind his back. This time he was in the bay window, framed by the small back yard. Jason followed him in and stood hopping uncomfortably from one foot to the other. Then, suddenly hearing the sound of his mother preparing dinner he realised the door was still open. He turned and quickly closed it.
“So,” his father got straight to the point. “You’re the big shot now, then.” Jason bit down on his lower lip. This wasn’t a question, it was a statement and he knew his father had not finished. “What about Tuesday?” That was a question. Jason blinked uncontrollably. How could his father possibly know about Tuesday?
“Tuesday?” he bluffed. “I don’t know what you mean?” Jason’s voice cracked.
“Don’t lie to me!” his father’s anger was genuine. “Drunk as a skunk. Outside some club or other. Two in the morning,” he waved his arm through the air. “Two in the morning!”
“But ..” Jason began but let the sentence end. There was nothing he could say. His father was telling the truth. There was a club. He had been drunk. It was two in the morning. He wondered how much more his father knew. He had been lucky some witness nearby hadn’t posted pictures on Instagram.
“Well,” his father had grasped his hands behind his back again and was now leaning forward towards his son threateningly. The silence was intense. Sweat soaked Jason’s scalp even though the room was cold and a little damp.
Jason shrugged his shoulders. It was the wrong thing to do as it set his father off. Mr Taylor knew how to do “controlled rage,” he had used it many times to subdue his three sons over the years. It worked again. Slowly and precisely he listed his sons faults. “Pride,” he intoned, “You think because you are a big shot you can do precisely what you like.”
Jason stood head bowed. Heart thumping. Temperature rising. He knew where this was going: rising Premier League star or not.
“A good hiding.” His father had reached his logical destination. “That’s what I’m going to give you. A good beating.”
“I’m nineteen. I’m too old,” the words escaped Jason’s mouth before he had a chance to swallow them back. His father’s eyes glared and his nostrils flared.
“Too old! I tanned you brother’s backside that time he came home drunk and puked up all over the doorstep. He was twenty. Twenty-one!”
Jason’s head spun. He remembered well enough. It was just the sort of thing his father would do. And – and this was a relevant point – his brother submitted to the punishment without a murmur. That was how their father had brought them up.
Mr Taylor had finished his lecturer. The time for words was over; now it was time for action. Jason watched as his father slowly crossed the room towards an old mahogany sideboard. He pulled open a drawer and reached inside. He didn’t have to look, he knew what he was looking for and exactly where it would be.
The paddle he waved in Jason’s face was homemade and worn with use. It was typical of its kind: about fourteen inches long and three wide. Holes had been drilled in to the blade end so it could fly through the air more quickly. Jason looked intently at it as his father gripped the handle tightly in his right fist and smacked it with some force into his left palm. There was no need for him to give this demonstration of the paddle’s power. Jason was no stranger to this.
His father rested the paddle on the seat cushion of an armchair while he took hold of it and dragged it toward the centre of the room. “Stand there!” he pointed at a spot close to one of the chair’s arms. Jason knew the drill. He took a deep breath and slowly took up position. He was no longer the super star, the young footballer whose picture had been in every newspaper that day. The lad praised to the skies on Match of the Day. He was Mr Taylor’s son. A teenager who had gone astray. A lad who needed to be taken down a peg or two. Who needed to be taught a lesson. To be guided back onto a straight and narrow path. His father was about to beat him. Because he care. He loved him. It was a father-and-son thing.
“Take down your trousers. Underpants too.” Mr Taylor rubbed the paddle across the palm of his hand. He was quiet and commanding. There was no need for histrionics. He knew Jason would obey. He always had, he always would. Taking care not to look his father in the eye, Jason unbuttoned his trousers and let gravity take them down his thighs, past his knees to his ankles. He pushed his briefs in the same direction. He stood before his father partly naked. He felt no embarrassment. His father had seen him like this before. The guys at United saw him naked every day.
Without waiting for further instruction, Jason leaned forward and slowly lowered himself over the arm of the chair. His face was in the seat cushion and his back arched so that his bottom pointed to the ceiling. He had to bend his legs so he could maintain his position. He may not have been too old for a spanking but he was too tall to go over the arm of a chair. He wondered why his father didn’t insist he present himself across the back of the chair. He would get a much better aim. But, Jason wasn’t about to suggest this improvement.
He closed his eyes and waited. He heard his father move so that he stood behind Jason and a little to the right. The nineteen-year-old felt the heavy wooden blade touch against his muscular buttocks. It was surprisingly cool, but he knew things would soon heat up. His father “sawed” the paddle across the centre of his bum. He was getting his aim. Suddenly, it was lifted away only to return a split-second later. It crashed into his bottom at full force, burning the surface of his bum and knocking all the wind out of his lungs. Jason’s hips wriggled and his legs flailed. He just about sucked down the yowl! he wanted to scream.
Before he caught his breath a second and third swat landed (one low, one high). Now, both buttocks throbbed madly. Thwack! Splat! Swipe! His father was a man on a mission. He looked on with deep satisfaction as his son’s backside glowed under the power of the paddle. Three more swats landed, all more or less on the same spot; on the undercurve where the cheeks meet the thighs. Then he swatted another three, this time on the crest of the mounds. Yet another three swipes bit into the top of the buttocks. Not one square inch of flesh was left untoasted.
Jason’s legs kicked and his hips swayed. He was bent across the arm and crammed into a small space and there was nothing for his hands to grab onto to and steady himself. His forehead butted up and down into the soft seat cushion. His temples throbbed and his lungs were empty of air. He felt like he had run the full length of the football field at top speed. His eyes were soaked. He thought with sweat, but it might have been tears.
His father was a man of few words when he delivered a spanking. There were no words of admonition. He did not berate his son. He did not demand from him guarantees of better behaviour. That could come later. For now, he preserved all his energies for the beating at hand. He was not a cruel man. He did not need to flog the teenager within an inch of his life. But, as the boy had said himself I’m nineteen. There was no point giving him a little boy’s spanking.
He laid on another dozen swats. Good and hard. Blisters were already beginning to form. Jason would not sit comfortably at the dinner table.
“Enough. It’s over. Stand. I trust you have learned a lesson.”
Jason jumped up from the armchair. “Oh yes,” he said, because he knew this was expected of him. He clamped his hands across both buttocks and ran up and down on the spot, rather like he would do after an opposing defender kicked him on the knee during a match. It was supposed to ease the pain (but rarely did).
“Get dressed,” Mr Taylor slowly replaced the paddle in the sideboard. “Come, you mother will have laid the table for dinner.” Together as father and son they went to join Mrs Taylor. She pretended not to notice her son wince when gingerly he sat on the hard dining chair.
Jason waited for his father to say Grace before he tucked into his Sunday roast. His buttocks were aflame, but already the intense pain was turning to a constant throbbing. Soon it would fade altogether. He was glad of that. He would worry later about how he would explain the bruises on his bum when the team met up in the morning for training.
Picture credit: Unknown
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