Ted and his brother Derek were sipping pints in The Three Fishers. Ted was downcast, he was having trouble with his eighteen-year-old son.
“He acts like a little kid. I can’t believe it. He has this catapult. You know like one of those kids in the Beano comic. He smashed a window in Mrs Whittington’s greenhouse. She came to complain. I nearly died of embarrassment.”
Derek sipped on his beer and said philosophically, “Eighteen can be a very difficult age. They can act very mature and grown up and then suddenly they regress and behave like they’re eight again.”
Ted snorted, “So what am I supposed to do?”
“Well for now, treat him like he was eight.”
“What you mean dress him up in short trousers and a striped jersey like Dennis the Menace?” Ted chortled.
“Something like that,” Derek nodded sagely. “Remember what happened to Dennis the Menace?”
“How do you mean?”
“You know. What happened to Dennis in the last picture of the story? Almost every week.”
Ted’s brow furrowed. He had no idea what his brother was talking about and told him so.
Derek’s face brightened, “He got the slipper. His dad took him across his knee and spanked his backside. Remember.” He gulped beer triumphantly.
Ted couldn’t work it out. He sipped more beer to hide his confusion. “You mean I should spank Gavin?” his face wrinkled with disbelief, “With a slipper?”
Derek took another sip. “Not necessarily with a slipper.”
The two drank on in companionable silence, then Derek went to the bar for refills. By the time he returned Ted had gathered his thoughts. “I can’t spank him. He’s eighteen. He’s too old to be spanked.”
Derek set the glasses on the table. “It didn’t stop Dad. Remember that time I got caught stealing magazines from Clark’s newsagents? I was nineteen. He whacked my backside with Mum’s hairbrush. Remember?”
Ted nodded, he did. He hadn’t thought about that in nearly thirty years. “Yes, but did it do any good?”
“Well, I never stole again.”
“Did it hurt then? Was that it?”
“Not really. It hurt a bit, but it was more ….” Derek blushed at the memory, “I just felt a right fool that’s all. Dad taking me across his knee and spanking me like a little kid. That was the worst part.”
Ted stared into his glass. Would it work with Gavin? Would it stop him acting like a child? Would it stop him showing Ted up in front of the neighbours? He drank more beer. “But, he’d never let me,” he sighed, “He’s hardly going to bend across my knee when I tell him to,” he paused, hoping he was wrong, before adding, “Would he?”
Derek remembered that day all those years ago. He hadn’t been expecting it. There was no warning. One minute his dad was standing in the sitting room telling him off and the next thing he knew Dad was sitting on the settee and pulling Derek down and across his knees. Dad had total surprise on his side. Then whack-whack-whack. He pounded the seat of Derek’s football shorts with that goddam hairbrush.
Derek told his brother this. “Get your Laura’s hairbrush. Have everything ready. Wait for Gavin to come home. Tell him what a fool he’s been and then … Bob’s your uncle.
Ted listened carefully. It sounded easy. “Didn’t you struggle. Fight with Dad. I would have done.”
“Ha!” Derek sneered. “No you wouldn’t. Not you. You couldn’t fight your way out of a paper bag.”
Ted smiled, he knew his brother was joshing. “Still can’t. If Gavin wants to he stop me doing it …”
Derek shook his head, “Not if you work it out. The first thing he’ll know something’s up is when he’s over your knee and staring down at the carpet. Then, you hammer that hairbrush into his backside for as long as you can.”
Ted drained his glass. “You’re bloody mad you are. Crackers. It’ll never happen. Do you want another?”
An hour later, not too much the worst for beer, Ted arrived home. Laura, his wife, was waiting with bad news. “I’ve had another complaint. Gavin’s put a cricket ball through Old Thommo’s window. He wants you to go and see him. He wants you to pay for the damage.”
“Oh bloody Nora, Laura!” Ted bellowed. “What is wrong with that kid? He ain’t retarded. He’s got those qualifications from school. He’s off to the tech. college in September.”
“I don’t know,” Laura’s chin wobbled. “He’s driving me to distraction. What on earth can we do?” She rose from her chair and ambled towards the kitchen, “Cup of tea, love?”
Ted sank into the settee. What could he do? Ha! His brother’s words came back to him. Dad was sitting on the settee and pulling me down and across his knees. Dad had total surprise on his side. Ted shook his head. No, he told himself, it would never work.
Laura returned with a tray and cups. “He’s up in his room now, sulking,” she said as she set the tray down on the table. “Laura,” Ted began uneasily, “I was talking to Derek just now and he says …” They sipped their tea as Ted shared Derek’s plan. “What do you think? Should we?” he asked at the end.
He was alarmed by the eagerness of his wife’s reply, “Yes!” she said emphatically. “If it worked with your Derek, why wouldn’t it work with our Gavin?”
Ted’s mouth opened and closed. He tried but failed to find a reasonable objection. Both Derek and Laura thought it was a splendid idea. Ted was in a minority of one. “It’s all right for them,” he thought, but did not say aloud, “They’re not the ones who have to do it. What if Gavin laughs in my face. Or pushes me away. Or punches me in the face.”
Laura collected the cups, “I’ll put these in the sink, then I’ll go fetch my hairbrush.” She bustled from the room, leaving Ted alone to make his silent protest.
The brush was some kind of family heirloom. It had been Laura’s grandmother’s and possibly her grandmother’s mother’s. Nobody could be sure. What was certain was it had an oval-shaped head that was at least six inches at its longest point. It was made of ebony wood and was extremely heavy. “Here,” Laura said calmly, as she handed it to her husband. “I’ll go call him. It’s best if I keep out of the way.”
Again, she left before Ted could share his doubts. He swore under his breath. What had he got himself into? Was it too late to back out? Suddenly, his son loomed over him, “Wossup Dad?” he moaned, “I was in the middle of something.”
Ted noticed the zipper of the teenager’s jeans was half open. He just managed not to say, “Yes, and I know what it was.”
Gavin stood irritably. His huffing and puffing pushed Ted’s buttons. “I’ve had complaints,” Ted babbled. He hadn’t planned what he was going to say. He felt awkward. He wished Derek was there to help him along. “Catapult,” he blurted, “Cricket ball. Broken windows. Neighbours are complaining. Who’s going to pay for it?” It all come out in a rush.
Gavin’s long, angular face creased into a sneer.
“That’s just like you,” Ted tried to keep his temper. He had to stay calm, be in control. “You don’t care. It’s about time you started acting your age. You’re not a kid any more. A catapult. I ask you.”
Gavin stared at his dad, not hiding his scorn. Blah, blah, blah. Here he goes again.
“It can’t go on like this. It can’t,” Ted felt himself babbling. He needed to act fast. The element of surprise was vital. “You need to be taught a lesson. How to act responsibly. It’s for your own good,” he chided as he took hold of a dining room chair and placed it gently in front of the settee.
Gavin watched impassively. Then, his dad sat himself down on the chair. He reached out his arm. “Come here, son. This is long overdue.” Gavin was at least two inches taller but that didn’t stop Ted tugging him forward. The boy stumbled as he went flying face down over his dad’s lap. He had no control, his arms fell ahead of him and he had to rest his palms in the carpet to steady himself. His knees bent and his toes brushed the ground. Gavin couldn’t see it himself, but could feel his bottom was raised high over his dad’s knee.
Ted gripped the boy around the waist. He was going nowhere. He had never noticed it before but his son was thin and wiry. His jeans fitted him tightly and stretched across his buttocks so that each cheek was clearly outlined. Ted took a deep breath and smacked the palm of his hand against the meatiest part of Gavin’s left cheek. Then he did the same with the right.
“Hey, worr-you-doing? Gerroff! Hey! Stop it!” Gavin kicked his legs against open air. He tried to wriggle off Dad’s knees but the Old Man held him firmly down. Gavin waved his arms about, trying to reach back to protect his bottom, but his head was too low he couldn’t do it.
Ted spanked all across Gavin’s buttocks. The cheeks were solid; was this what “buns of steel” were? Soon the palm of Ted’s hand stung. In all the excitement he had forgotten the brush. It lay on the table within easy reach. He gripped it. The heavy weight felt good in his hand. Whap! He pounded it into the underside of Gavin’s left cheek. The boy gasped, wriggled and continued his protests.
To no avail. Ted had the boy where he wanted him. Face down, across his knee. Pinned in position. He could yell and holler all he wanted to, but that would not stop Ted. His confidence grew with each successive whack.
“Are you learning your lesson, son,” he wheezed. It wasn’t really a question. “I hope you’ll start acting your age now.” He spanked the hairbrush into the peaks of the cheeks. “This is for your own good.” Now, he went higher. The jeans had two thick pockets sewn into the seat, Ted tried to avoid them – they gave too much protection. Gavin’s hips wriggled and his bottom rose and fell. He was feeling this all right. Ted remembered Derek said his spanking hadn’t hurt so much. The thought encouraged Ted to spank right into the undercurve (away from the pockets) with renewed energy. “Ahhhh! Arrgggh,” Gavin cold not stop himself crying out.
“No more catapults. Be careful where you play cricket,” Ted was wheezing. He was not an energetic man at the best of times, and now with five pints of beer inside him, he was slowing down. Gavin’s energy levels were higher. He wriggled his hips, and waved his arms like his life depended on it. His fury was unbounded. Put across his Dad’s knee for a spanking with a hairbrush like a little kid. Jesus, what if his friends found out.
At last, Ted admitted defeat. He was spent. If he carried on one minute more he might collapse in a heap. He released his grip on Gavin and the teenager bounded to his feet. He hopped from one foot to another, trying hard to keep his temper. Why, for two bob he’d smack the bastard in the chops.
Ted stayed seated. He was getting his breath back. He watched his son moving around the room. The boy’s face was scarlet, his eyes shone. “Will I have to do that again,” Ted asked reasonably.
Gavin gaped. To his own astonishment he heard himself reply, “No Dad. Sorry Dad.” His could not meet his father’s eyes. He stood, hands behind his back overcome with embarrassment.
“Good lad,” Ted rose from the chair and, also self-conscious, returned the chair to its rightful place. “You’d better go back to your room,” he whispered.
Laura came in, carrying more tea. “That’s the first good idea your Derek has had in his life,” she giggled as he handed over a cup.
Picture credit: Unknown
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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