Mr Bonner put a message on his neighbourhood Internet group to see if anyone knew of a decent decorator who could paint his kitchen and front room. He was delighted when a fellow in the next street emailed to say he’d used a painter called Mr Wodza. He explained Mr Wodza wasn’t his correct name but he was from eastern Europe somewhere – Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, he wasn’t really sure – and his name was a foot long and had a couple of Zs and a W or two and no Englishman could ever hope to pronounce it, let alone spell it. Mr Wodza worked with his teenaged son and was very good. Reliable and not too expensive.
So a week or so later Mr Wodza and Wodza Junior turned up at his house. They worked very well and at the end of the day Mr Bonner was delighted at how much they had done. The next day, however, Mr Wodza was on his own and there was no sign of Junior. Mr Bonner could tell that Mr Wodza was very glum about this. He was like a bear with a sore head for most of the morning. Then, close to midday Junior arrived.
Mr Bonner didn’t speak Lithuanian or whatever it was but he knew without a shadow of doubt that Mr Wodza was very angry with his son. The air was blue with foreign words and Mr Bonner was embarrassed at what he was witnessing. He was about to sneak away upstairs and leave them to it when, Junior shrieked, “No!!!!!! papa.” Or he said words that sounded something just like that. The boy’s face turned a deathly white and he shrinked away from his father.
But, Mr Wodza stood between Junior and the door. There was no escape. The boy pleaded with his father but he would not relent. Mr Bonner stood transfixed. He had no idea what was being said but he began to understand the story as it unfolded before him. He didn’t need dialogue, it was like watching a foreign-language film. He could make out the plot, even without subtitles.
Mr Wodza gesticulated wildly. His arms waved like a windmill. He spoke at moderate volume but his words were harsh. Junior cowered. His pale face was reddening and soon blazed scarlet. His eyes moistened. He seemed to be pleading with his father again. The pleas fell on deaf ears. Mr Wodza grabbed a wooden, straight-backed chair and almost threw it onto the ground in the middle of the room. It shuddered as it fell. He turned to Junior and spoke harshly. Mr Bonner didn’t understand a word, but he could tell Mr Wodza was giving instructions.
That was confirmed quickly. Mr Bonner stared disbelievingly as the scene unfolded before him. He had never seen anything remotely like this in all of his life. He would never have dreamt such a thing would happen in his own kitchen. His jaw literally dropped as he watched a snivelling Junior kick off his shoes. He pleaded some more. Mr Wodza sat on the chair stone-faced. He said something more and waved his hand so that it rose and fell. Even Mr Bonner understood that instruction. He understood it, but he didn’t believe it.
Junior could not look at his father. He turned his head towards Mr Bonner. He said something that Mr Bonner did not understand, but the look of terror in his eyes spoke volumes. Mr Bonner was still non-plussed. He was pretty certain now what Mr Wodza had ordered Junior to do, but he still couldn’t comprehend it. Mr Bonner felt a heel, he couldn’t intervene. He didn’t know how.
Mr Wodza barked an order. Junior looked away from Mr Bonner. The boy’s hands trembled. His knees shook. He reached for the elasticated waistband of his trousers and he rolled them down his thighs, over his knees and onwards to his feet. He stopped and stood erect. Mr Wodza sneered. Junior pouted, but spoke no words. He didn’t need to, the phrase “if looks could kill” said it all. He kicked the trousers until they were free of his feet. Now, he stood in only his white t-shirt and multi-coloured shorts.
Mr Bonner’s mouth opened and closed. He gave a good impersonation of a goldfish. He knew he should intervene. It was his house. He could stop this. His heart thumped and he was sure his own face was scarlet with embarrassment. He was an Englishman after all and not good at confrontation. He tried to form some words but his mouth was unexpectedly dry. Mr Wodza gave another clear order. Junior’s face crumpled in anguish. His suffering was clear. He looked at his father and directed his attention to Mr Bonner standing close by. “Bah!” Mr Wodza ejaculated. He said some more that probably meant “Get on with it!”
Junior tucked his thumbs into the waist of his shorts and with no more than a mere flick of the wrists he sent them travelling south. They puddled at his feet. He didn’t wait for a further instruction, he stepped out of them and was now naked from the waist down, except for his short, white socks. Mr Bonner coughed to clear his arid throat. He had regained his voice. “Surely,” he croaked without much conviction, “is this really necessary?” He struggled to overcome his reserve. “I mean, well …”
Mr Wodza wriggled his buttocks on the hard chair and spoke in clear English. “It is what we do back home. This boy was out all night. He came home drunk and could not get up for work this morning. He does this a lot. He treats me and my wife with disrespect. He thinks the world owes him a living.”
Mr Bonner listened intently. Junior stood sheepishly and Mr Bonner looked him up and down. Suddenly, he saw, not an immigrant labourer standing in his kitchen but his own son Ryan. He too was disrespectful and often idle. He treated the house like a hotel and drove his mother to distraction by missing meals she had cooked for him and leaving the living room looking like a pigsty. He was no different from Wodza Junior.
Mr Wodza was still speaking. “We would not put up with it at home and we will not do so here. I will discipline him; like a father should. It is my duty.” Mr Bonner blinked hard; he could not argue with that. “But,” he spluttered, “Isn’t he a bit old …” and then he trailed off browbeaten into silence by Mr Wodza’s icy stare. “He is only nineteen, he is not yet an adult. He is an adult when he learns to behave like that. Until then ..” He didn’t finish the sentence, instead he slapped his thigh hard.
That was an instruction. Junior understood it. It was then Mr Bonner understood that the drama playing out in his kitchen might be rare to him but for Mr Wodza and his son it was not at all unusual. It was how they lived. Mr Bonner saw Junior hesitate but it was clear this did not mean refusal. The teenager shuffled forward and stood close to his father’s side. Mr Wodza slapped his own thigh one more time. Junior seemed to be debating with himself inside his own head. Mr Bonner wondered if he was going to obey.
Mr Bonner soon found out. Junior took a deep breath, rubbed both hands together and in one smooth movement he leaned forward. Inside a second his head was butting the ground and his bottom was raised high over his father’s knee. His legs spread out behind him with his toes brushing the floor tiles. Mr Bonner had a bird’s-eye view of Junior’s round, hairless bottom. For a moment, he imagined it was himself and Ryan. Would his son meekly remove his trousers and underpants and submit himself across his knee? Ha! Why was he even bothering to ask the question.
He watched absorbed as Mr Wodza took hold of Junior’s t-shirt and moved it away from the target area. The boy’s fleshy bum quivered in anticipation of what was to come. It didn’t have to wait long. Mr Wodza raised his right arm high and brought it down hard so that a resounding thwack echoed around the empty kitchen. A dark-pink imprint of the hand glowered across the centre of Junior’s left buttock. A similar one soon glowed in the middle of the right cheek.
Mr Bonner had never spanked a boy and he had never seen it done, not even in a movie, so he had no template to work with. That said, he was more than certain that Mr Wodza knew his business. Within a minute both cheeks were rosy. He spanked rapidly and hard. From where he stood the buttocks looked mightily raw. Junior winced and screwed up his nose as smack after smack connected with his hot bottom, but otherwise he showed no emotion. He neither gasped or groaned. No yaps or yelped were uttered, not even when Mr Wodza turned his attention away from the buttocks and assaulted the backs of Junior’s legs. Although his knees did buckle a little and he covered one foot over the other to stop him kicking his legs about.
Time stood still for Mr Bonner. He had no idea for how long Mr Wodza spanked his son. It was, he concluded to himself, probably what was known as a “sound spanking”. Junior’s bottom was raw and the imprint of his father’s palm and fingers was reproduced time and again across his bare backside and thighs.
At last Mr Wodza stopped. He said nothing and simply released his grip on his son. Junior scrambled to his feet and without waiting for permission he retrieved his shorts and climbed in. He was breathing heavily when he stepped into his trousers and pulled them up. His face was scarlet and his eyes moist. He dared not look at his father; his shame was so great. Mr Wodza remained seated. He looked across at Mr Bonner as if expecting him to say something.
Mr Bonner coughed politely, “A-hm, I’ll let you get back to work then, shall I?” He hurried from the room. He settled in the lounge and even though it was hardly mid-day he poured himself a whisky. As he sat and sipped it he recalled the previous minutes in his mind. He remembered how Mr Wodza had catalogued Junior’s faults. How they mirrored those of his own boy Ryan. He heard Mr Wodza say how it was a father’s duty to discipline their sons. They only became adults when they learned how to behave.
It was good to see how other people lived, but he knew he did not have the courage to learn a lesson from them. He gulped his whisky, a trifle ashamed.
Picture credit: Sting Pictures
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Also writing school stories as Scholastic here
Charles Hamilton the Second