John Hepplewhite was a modest man, he didn’t ask for much in life and he didn’t get it. He lived on a small pension from the Post Office and what he got from the state. He lived alone in two rented rooms and because he was trying to save money he would spend a lot of time at the House of the Sacred Light pensioners’ club where he could sit in the warm, read the newspapers and drink countless cups of tea without having to pay. And, what if from time to time he had to listen to some ruddy-faced fellow wittering on about the Bible.
He did his shopping at the shops and the market where they sold off perishable food cheaply late in the day. At home he never lit more than one bar on the electric fire. John Hepplewhite didn’t think of himself as poor. He was careful with his money. Hidden away at the back of the larder was an old jam jar. Into this he put every spare copper coin he had. Sometimes, when he had been especially careful, or he skipped a meal and made up for it with even more cups of tea at the House of the Sacred Light, he added silver. John Hepplewhite was saving for his special treat.
When the jar was about half full – for that was all he needed – he took it along to the post office where he used to work, and where he still collected his pension, and Mavis, a jolly old type, would patiently count out the coins and change them to banknotes. John Hepplewhite could scarcely contain his excitement and even though Mavis had known him for years she could never get him to tell him what he was saving for.
John Hepplewhite, now greatly excited and with the banknotes tucked securely in the inside pocket of his heavy coat, he trudged down the High Street to the public phone box. Of course, he wouldn’t dream of paying to have a phone at home, not even with the special rates they gave pensioners. His hands didn’t usually tremble, but they did as he lifted the receiver and dialled the number. He knew it by heart, he had rung it before many times. The phone at the other end rang and rang and John Hepplewhite was about to throw down the handset when there was a click and man with a smooth voice answered. John Hepplewhite beamed like a small boy with a new toy. The call concluded, John Hepplewhite returned to his rooms, not now trudging but walking on air, or walking on air as much as a man his age could.
Two days later John Hepplewhite took a bus into the suburbs. He had a pensioners’ pass so he didn’t have to pay the fare. He had already put its equivalent into his jam jar for the next treat. He got off near Widdicombe Wood and had to walk half a mile to get to his destination. It was late spring, the sun was shining but it was still a little cold. John Hepplewhite was as happy as any man could be. He lived for days like this.
He turned into a street called The Avenue, it was a long thoroughfare but entirely deserted of people. The large houses were mostly hidden behind walls or fences and sometimes high hedges. The house he wanted was half way down. He liked that no one was about, it made him feel safe. He didn’t like prying eyes. He saw a large figure on a bicycle ride towards him; as it got closer he saw he was dressed in a bright red school blazer. Instinctively, John Hepplewhite looked at his watch; it was not yet noon. As the bicycle approached and then passed him, John Hepplewhite noticed the boy also wore pale-grey short trousers. John Hepplewhite turned and watched him cycle off into the distance. He smiled broadly, the “boy” was at least forty if he were a day.
John Hepplewhite paused at the gate to number 42. The house itself was set back from the road with a wide shingle path leading to it. John Hepplewhite’s heartrate quickened and his mouth dried. He checked his watch again to make sure he was not early (he had never once been late for this appointment) and satisfied all was well he set off up the path. He rang the doorbell and since he was expected he was not surprised the door was opened instantly. An older women, dressed austerely in a long shapeless black skirt and a white blouse buttoned to her throat welcomed him in.
“Wait in the hallway,” she said abruptly and certain that he would comply with her instruction, she immediately waddled away and entered a room at the far end. John Hepplewhite knew the house well. There were five identical doors leading from the hallway, each made of heavy oak. A coat stand stood in the corner close to the door and there were two small tables along a wall. A grandfather clock that John Hepplewhite had never seen working leaned forlornly in another corner. There were no pictures on the wall but there was a full-length mirror that John Hepplewhite always avoided on his visits. He had no wish to see the reflection of a flabby old man staring back at him.
The woman was gone for five minutes and then she returned and briskly said, “Go into that room and change.” John Hepplewhite had been expecting this and without even a murmur he took the few paces needed to reach the door, he turned the handle and went in. The room was a library of sorts. In some houses it would be called a living room or a drawing room. This was a “library” because there were shelves of books. In the centre was a large oak table with matching chairs. Two leather armchairs were placed either side of a low coffee table. It took John Hepplewhite only seconds to survey the room. He was familiar with its layout and soon found what he was seeking.
Without hesitation, he began to strip off his clothes. He was nearly seventy and he was proud that he was still sprightly, unlike some of the others at the pensioners’ club who could no longer put on their own socks. He was soon completely naked. He stood admiring the collection of goods displayed on the oak table. He took hold of the white cotton briefs with Y-shaped front and elasticated waist band. He steadied himself against the table as he stepped into them. They fitted snuggly against his buttocks.
Then, he pulled the white singlet over his head and the snugness of the cotton against his flesh emphasised his flabby belly. In the correct fashion, he tucked the singlet into the waistband of his underpants. John Hepplewhite ran his eye across the oak table, his tongue darted through his pursed lips as he chose the grey shirt from a paper wrapper. It felt recently ironed and as he climbed into it he caught the distinct aroma of the starch that had stiffened the collar.
Next came his favourite; he lovingly fingered the grey short trousers, they were made of flannel and immaculately laundered and pressed and if he didn’t take care he might have cut his finger on the crease down the front. He felt his withered penis stir. He had no idea why, but short trousers always did this to him. He unfastened the button at the waist, and then the three on the fly, opened the top of the trousers and stepped in. Within seconds he had pulled them up and was tucking in the shirt and vest. The short trousers were especially tailored and fitted him snuggly.
He buttoned the shirt and found his school tie. It was of red and green diagonal stripes. There was no mirror and John Hepplewhite made several attempts to knot the tie neatly. His previous reservation about the mirror was gone. He so wanted to admire his appearance. He walked to the window and failing to see his reflection he sat in an armchair and pulled up his woollen stockings. They were so long they reached up his thighs and there was hardly an inch of flesh left uncovered between sock and trousers. He folded over the tops of the stockings until they were tucked just below the knees.
Soon he was in his shiny black lace-up shoes. He was not quite ready. His school blazer was on a heavy wooden coat-hanger. John Hepplewhite caressed the lapel between his finger and thumb. The quality of the cloth was superb; he picked it up and smelled its freshness. It fitted him well, as always. Finally, he took hold of the woollen cap and carefully placed it squarely on his head. It completely covered his recently cut short-back-and-sides haircut, as it was intended to. He was ready. At that moment the door edged open slowly and the old lady appeared. She appraised the situation and happy that John Hepplewhite was dressed she said, “The headmaster is waiting for you boy! Do not keep him waiting.”
John Hepplewhite rubbed his sweaty palms on his blazer and with a mixed feeling of anxiety and excitement he left the room and crossed the hallway. The old woman had left, her job completed for the moment. He stopped, peered at a sign displaying the word “Headmaster” in worn lettering, took a deep breath and rapped his knuckles on the door. His heart raced in anticipation of the response. It was some time coming. At last a voice boomed, “Come!” John Hepplewhite slowly turned the handle, it was a heavy door and he almost had to put his shoulder to it to get it to budge. He stood in the threshold. “Ah Hepplewhite, come in. Close the door. Stand there boy.”
The words were intoned by an imposing figure seated at a large mahogany desk. He wore a dark suit enclosed in a heavy, black academic gown. On his head balanced a mortarboard cap. The figure steepled his fingers and leaned back in a large leather chair. “You again, Hepplewhite,” he peered down his beaked nose. “This is becoming something of a habit, boy.”
Hepplewhite nodded meekly, but said nothing. He clasped his hands behind his back and stood, feet slightly apart. He looked intently at the headmaster who continued his lecture. “Your geography master informs me that you have failed on two separate occasions to complete your prep. You failed to present an imposition he duly set and you were insolent when he questioned you about it,” saliva dribbled from his mouth. “Well boy! What have you to say for yourself?” he snapped.
The ferocity of the headmaster’s questioning rocked Hepplewhite. He burbled something unintelligible. The headmaster leaned forward, placed the palms of his hands on the desk and roared, “Hepplewhite I trust you are not trying to be insolent now!” Hepplewhite found his voice, “Oh no sir, truly sir, no sir, sorry sir,” but he was almost as incoherent as before.
The headmaster steepled his fingers once more. “Pah! I’m going to thrash you Hepplewhite. Thrash you. You deserve nothing less.” Hepplewhite’s faced flushed, “Crikey,” he said. “No please sir, don’t cane me sir. I shall be good.”
The headmaster grimaced, “Quiet! Stand in the corner. Hands on head. Contemplate your sins. Think about what’s coming to you.” He watched with satisfaction as the wretched boy before him, his face a picture of misery, turned and shuffled away. “Right in the corner,” the headmaster called after him, “I want to see your nose touching the wall.” He leaned back in his chair, then opened and closed drawers to his desk. He was not looking for anything, this was part of his ritual. He would give Hepplewhite ample time to anticipate what was to come.
After five minutes, the headmaster rose from the desk. “Let’s get on with this shall we,” he stated abruptly. “Turn around boy,” and when Hepplewhite did so and took his hands from his head, the headmaster who was incapable of speaking in a normal voice, roared, “I did not give you permission! Hands on head, boy!”
“Sorry sir,” Hepplewhite croaked. His eyes followed the headmaster as he walked across the study. He stopped when he reached a tall, thin cupboard. With great deliberation he reached into his pocket and after fumbling around he withdrew a small key. Hepplewhite watched with increasing anticipation as the headmaster opened the cupboard door and reached inside. The rattle as several thin, whippy canes were moved around seemed to fill the room. Hepplewhite licked his bottom lip and gulped; his mouth was now completely dry.
He watched as the headmaster withdrew a cane. It was a typical school punishment cane, about three feet long and as thick as a pencil with the traditional curved handle. The headmaster showed it to Hepplewhite whose eyes widened. He recognised it. The headmaster had thrashed him with that very stick on his last visit to the study. The headmaster flexed it between his hands and studied it closely as if he had never seen it before. He frowned, and replaced it in the cupboard. “I have acquired a new cane,” he said as he reached inside again. “It is especially suitable for senior boys. For recidivists. For boys who return to my study time after time. It is a Malacca!”
He showed the cane to Hepplewhite. It was much the same size and shape as the previous cane but as the headmaster bent it between his hands and then swished it through the air, Hepplewhite saw it was extremely dense, but whippy. It looked an awesome weapon. “Yes,” the headmaster spoke as if to himself only, “This will be very suitable.” He looked over at Hepplewhite who was still standing submissively, hands on head. “Go there,” the headmaster swished the cane in the general direction of a low leather armchair. “Bend over. You know what to do Hepplewhite.”
Indeed he did. He was no stranger to the headmaster’s study. Still with his hands on his head he took the three paces necessary to get into position. He looked at the chair in front of him. He was easily tall enough to clear its back. “Bend over Hepplewhite,” the headmaster growled, “He haven’t all afternoon.” He swished the cane to emphasise his impatience.
Hepplewhite took his hands from his head, rubbed them together and then fell forward. He stretched his arms out ahead of him and gripped the front of the seat cover. In this position his school cap remained firmly on his head. He spread his feet and jutted out his bottom, submissively. He heard footsteps behind him and a terrific swishing noise as the headmaster took practice swipes with his heavy cane. Then, in quick succession he felt a hand gripped the tail of his blazer and pushed it up his back and away from the target area; followed by the cane “sawing” across the centre of his bottom. Suddenly, it was lifted away and returned with great force so that it cut across both cheeks equally.
It hurt Hepplewhite, but not much. He had received harsher strokes in the past. He waited patiently; this time the headmaster tap-tapped the cane into the softer undercurve of his buttocks. The cane rose and fell. It was a harsher stroke but Hepplewhite was not deceived, he knew the headmaster was just warming up. He took four more strokes so that now his bottom sported six lines running parallel to each other. The headmaster was an expert with the cane, each had fallen precisely where he intended.
“Stand up Hepplewhite,” the headmaster placed the cane under his arm and paced the study. When Hepplewhite was on his feet, the headmaster glared, “Shorts down Hepplewhite, bend back over.” Still facing the chair, Hepplewhite fumbled with the waistband of his grey short trousers and then the fly buttons. It would have been difficult enough for him to perform this task even if his fingers had not been trembling. At last the immaculate short trousers were open. They fell easily down his thighs and snagged at the knees. He opened them and they continued to the floor. Without hesitation, Hepplewhite threw himself back over the chair. This time his cap fell from his head and slipped to the floor.
The headmaster tidied Hepplewhite’s blazer once more and was presented with an expanse of white cotton underpants. He “sawed” the cane once more taking note of how it sank deep into Hepplewhite’s fleshy buttocks. This swipe was the hardest yet and the headmaster was rewarded with the sight of Hepplewhite’s knees buckling. Hepplewhite gripped the cushion harder, but before he could settle himself properly the second and third strokes bounced off his bum.
“Ouch!” it was a genuine cry of pain. The headmaster knew this for certain because Hepplewhite like several of his pupils usually reacted with the somewhat overstated yell of “Yarrooo!” during a caning.
The next three were harder still. Hepplewhite wriggled his hips and stamped his feet. This was genuine. His heart raced and his breath came in shallow pants. “Up Hepplewhite,” the headmaster strolled the study once more. Hepplewhite rubbed his rubbery buttocks ruefully. “Leave it alone boy! You know the rules,” the headmaster growled. Hepplewhite’s hand immediately sprang to his sides. “Pants down. Back over.” It was a simple command, given without histrionics for the headmaster had no doubt Hepplewhite would obey. The headmaster was in control.
Indeed Hepplewhite did not argue, he simply slipped his thumbs inside the waistband of the white cotton Y-fronts and with not much more than a flick of the wrist he sent them sliding to his knees. Not waiting to ensure they reached his feet he dived over the back of the chair. As the headmaster for the third time moved the blazer out of the way he took careful note of the dozen lines that now emblazoned Hepplewhite’s hairy bum. He congratulated himself on a job well done. “Brace yourself boy,” he called with some good humour as he sent the first of six absolute stingers across Hepplewhite’s bared bottom. Air whistled through his clenched teeth, he writhed and his shoulders rose a little.
Swipe! This one had Hepplewhite crossing one foot over the other to stop himself jumping up. His temples pulsated just as quickly as his bottom. This caning was proving hard to take. The headmaster never liked to draw blood during a caning so he aimed his cane at one of the few places that had not yet been touched. Thankfully, Hepplewhite’s bum was large so this gave him the opportunity to lay one high on the apex of the mounds. He was rewarded by the sight of a deep red line and a hissing boy.
At last the final of the six was delivered. It had been quite an ordeal: six-six-and-six; it wasn’t a punishment for a novice. The headmaster ambled leisurely toward the cupboard and then taking his time he found the key, unlocked the door and returned the cane to rest alongside its companions. All the while Hepplewhite stared down at the seat cushion. His bum was on fire; a caning on the bare, even if lightly delivered – and this one had not been – is always a severe punishment. The intense agony was quickly dissolving into a sore ache. It had been a harsh punishment, but he had survived.
At last the headmaster called across the study, “You may stand now, Hepplewhite.” He watched as he hauled himself to his feet. The short trousers and Y-fronts were in a puddle at his feet. Hepplewhite leaned down to retrieve them but was cut short, “Leave them be!” the headmaster snarled, “I have not finished with you! Stand back in the corner. Hands on head.”
Meekly, Hepplewhite waddled like a penguin until he resumed his place, nose pressed against the wall. The headmaster returned to his desk and sat back in his hair. From this position he had a superb view of Hepplewhite’s battered bottom. He watched the clock on the mantelpiece, keeping a close eye on the time and when he was ready he reached down to the bottom drawer of his desk. In it was the book where an official record of corporal punishment was kept. He drew this out and put it on the desktop and then returned to the drawer.
He stood up and walked in front of the desk, there he picked up a straight backed chair and manoeuvred it into the centre of the room. He sat down and with a little difficulty adjusted his academic gown so he became comfortable. Once satisfied he spoke with a haughty air. “Turn around Hepplewhite and face me.”
Hepplewhite did so and his jaw dropped open. He had not expected this. Seated in the straight-backed wooden chair was the headmaster and in his fist he gripped an off-white rubber-soled plimsoll, the type of slipper generations of schoolboys had worn for physical education classes.
The headmaster released his grip on the plimsoll and let it rest on his lap. He snapped his fingers, “Stand there boy,” he pointed to a spot close to his right thigh. As Hepplewhite waddled across the study, the headmaster took up the plimsoll again. He waited for the full import of the situation was clear to Hepplewhite and then intoned, “Bend over my knee.”
Without instruction, Hepplewhite slipped the blazer from his shoulders and tossed it to the floor. Then he dropped forward so quickly that he hurt his shoulder because he had to push his arms ahead of himself to break his fall against the hard ground. He pressed his palms firmly into the floor and bent his knees so that his bare bottom pointed at an angle over the headmaster’s thigh. He waited impatiently as the headmaster carefully folded his shirttail so that it bared his lower back. The headmaster took a firm hold of him around the waist and thwacked the hard slipper into his already-sore backside. The burning sensation was terrific.
And so it went on like that until the clock on the mantlepiece confirmed the hour was over. Hepplewhite dressed himself in his school uniform once more and the headmaster divested himself of gown and cap. And like that John Hepplewhite and the headmaster repaired to the kitchen and enjoyed a nice cup of tea, while the old woman discreetly counted the banknotes.
Picture credit: Unknown / Charles Chapman (The Magnet)
Other stories you might like
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second