If the cat hadn’t jumped from the kitchen table and landed on the draining board by the sink disturbing the plates that were drying there, Mr Shankly would never have looked up from his newspaper.
“Oh, Suki,” he chortled, “daft cat, getouttaway.” Then he walked over to the sink. He meant to put the crockery from breakfast in a cupboard. Out of harm’s way. So the stupid cat wouldn’t break things. That was what he meant to do. But, he didn’t.
The window by the sink looked out into The Avenue. It was always quiet in the morning, after the crowd had hurried off to the railway station and gone away to their offices. After that exodus was over, Mr Shankly would be lucky if he saw a soul until they all returned on the 6.16 train in the evening. The boy he saw now only yards away was definitely – without a shadow of doubt – not an office worker. Mr Shankly leaned over the sink to get a better view. He was pretty sure he hadn’t seen the boy before. He would have remembered him for sure. No doubt about that.
“Hey Suki,” he often spoke out loud to the cat, “What do you think of this?” Suki, being a cat, slinked from the room, her tail high. Mr Shankly shook his head vigorously from side to side for no obvious reason other than perhaps to reassure himself he was not dreaming. The boy was certainly a vision. And, Mr Shankly, told himself ruefully, the boy knows it too.
So, he was about nineteen or twenty. Mr Shankly was a bit of a connoisseur of these things. He had to be. Get a kid’s age wrong and there’d be more than Hell to pay. For sure, this was no child. He must have been six feet tall (Mr Shankly was most definitely pre-metric) and no more than thirty-two round the waist. He had a shock of fairish, almost blond, hair, so unkempt it must have cost him a small fortune at the barbershop to get it that way.
“A dish,” he said aloud, although Suki had long departed and there was no human in the house to hear his assessment. Mr Shankly licked his lips. It was an unpleasant sight. He didn’t know he did it, but he did it a lot. It betrayed his thoughts. “A dish.”
The boy was alone in the street. Walking casually. Towards Widdicombe Wood. Mr Shankly bit down on his bottom lip. He broke into a smile. The boy could only have one intention. Widdicombe Wood. “He’s not very subtle,” Mr Shankly told his own reflection in the window, “Up to no good. Widdicombe Wood. That’s for sure. Look at him.” Mr Shankly strained to catch a final look as the boy disappeared from view. “Look at him.” The boy wore pale pink shorts and a darker pink top. No socks. Just those flip-flop shoes the youngsters wear these days. “Not very subtle. He might as well hang a for-sale sign round his neck,” Mr Shankly chuckled. “No belt. Probably no underpants.” Amused, he shook his head. “Great arse,” he told the breakfast plates as he slid them into the cupboard.
The boy, who was called Tom, had no idea he was being spied on. He had other matters on his mind. He took his phone from his pocket and checked the time. He was early for his appointment. He slowed his pace. He had no intention of arriving before the prearranged hour. No way. He dare not be late. He knew the consequence for bad timekeeping. That didn’t mean he would be early. No way. Just on time. Not early, not late. On time. On the dot.
Tom hated The Avenue. It only held bad memories for him. He lived across Brocklehurst with his mum. Just the two of them in the council flat. It had been like that for years. Since his miserable dad had run off with a younger woman. Just him and his mum. How he hated that. What he would do to get away. To get enough money to get a place of his own. Not a big detached house with double garage, like the ones he was passing in The Avenue. A room in a house-share, with people like himself. A bed-sitting room would do. Anything would be better than that stinking council flat with his mum.
Tom was no different from most kids his age. He thought the world revolved around him. No, he was the centre of the universe. He should have whatever he wanted. Here. Now. Everything, he wanted without the effort. Who cared if he didn’t have a job. He was too good to flip burgers or stack supermarket shelves. Let the burgers flip themselves. He had told his boss that. He said much the same to the manager at the supermarket. Two jobs lost inside a month. The rows at home got longer and louder. His mum was driven to distraction.
Tom checked his phone: 9.29. He took a deep breath, held it for a moment. He crossed the street and with more confidence than he really felt he pushed open the gate to number eighty-six. He let it swing. He ambled up the drive. Halted on the doorstep. The phone clicked to 9.30 and he rang the bell.
The door opened almost immediately. He had been expected. No words were exchanged as the man stood to one side to let Tom enter. Tom stood in the hallway, trying to control his racing heart. The man closed the door. Then, he stood and with his eyes, he examined Tom closely. He made a mental note of the pink shorts, the absence of a belt, the looseness of the cloth against Tom’s firm body. He was making plans.
“In there,” he nodded to a door at the farthest end of the hallway. Tom led the way. He had visited before. The man watched him go. Once Tom was in the lounge room the man waddled up the stairs, headed for the bathroom. He needed to empty his bladder before he got down to business.
Five minutes later he was back. Tom stood sheepishly. He remembered his last visit. This would not end well. The man once again scanned his eye over Tom’s body, registering the teenager’s nervousness. The silence in the room was deafening.
The man broke it. “Well, Tom.” Tom’s open suntanned face flushed. More silence. The man tried again, “Well, Tom.”
Tom knew his eyelids were blinking uncontrollably. Blink-blink-blink. His mouth was so dry he could hardly croak, “Well, Uncle Ernest?” Yet more silence.
Uncle Ernest sucked in air, he was a man of short temper. His nephew was trying what little patience he had. “Well, what have you got to say for yourself!” he roared. Tom blushed a tomato red. His mind was blank. What was he supposed to say?
Uncle Ernest paced the room. “Your mother is beside herself. Sick with worry,” he growled as he reached the window. He stared into the garden beyond. He could not bear to face Tom with his accusation. “Those vile things you said to her. Your own mother. Disgusting. Disgraceful.” He paused, anger spreading through his body. “Well!” he turned on his heels and faced his nephew. “Well! What do you have to say!”
Tom blustered. “Well, Uncle, I.. that is …” Eventually, he trailed off. He had nothing to say. Uncle Ernest was right. Tom had driven his mother to distraction. But, and he knew better than to try to argue this with Uncle Ernest, she was partly to blame too. Always winding him up. Getting on his nerves. The things she said. Her very presence in the flat. She was driving him insane.
He said none of these things. What was the point? Uncle Ernest didn’t want to hear. He hadn’t summoned Tom to his house to have a discussion. This wasn’t a therapy session. Uncle Ernest had only one thing on his mind. Retribution. This was a reckoning. Tom must pay for the way he had treated his mother – Uncle Ernest’s kid sister.
“You’re a brat. You need taking down a peg or two. You need to learn how adults behave. Get a job. Be responsible. You’re nineteen-years-old god-damn-it,” Uncle Ernest was slow and methodical in his condemnation. “Your mother loves you. Heck I love you. Like my own son. Do you think I like doing this?”
The pause took Tom by surprise. Was that a real question? Was he expected to answer? Did Uncle Ernest enjoy doing this to him? Tom shrugged his shoulders in bewilderment. Did he? Did he enjoy this?
“Bah!” Uncle Ernest’s temper popped. “You waste of space.” Tom watched him walk to the centre of the room and pick up a chair from under the dining table. Then he carried it across the room and set it down in an empty space. Tom’s head throbbed with tension. Uncle Ernest crossed the room again, stopped at a cupboard and opened it. Tom watched his uncle carefully, although he knew with certainty what would happen next. The same thing that had happened the last two times he visited. Sure enough, Uncle reached his arm inside it and quickly emerged with a large, heavy wooden clothes brush in his fist.
Uncle Ernest glared at Tom, his unspoken words said, “You know what’s going to happen now.” Tom knew his own blood pressure was off the scale. His breathing quickened while he watched Uncle Ernest take the brush to the chair. There, he sat down, wriggled his buttocks and straightened his back. He parted his legs, planting his feet firmly into the wooden floor.
“Come here,” he gestured with the brush, “Bend over my knee.”
Tom had expected this, since the moment he had received the phone call instructing him to present himself at Uncle Ernest’s house. It was never in any doubt A spanking. Over Uncle’s knee like a naughty little boy. And, he had told himself, they wanted him to act like an adult – when they treated him like a nine-year-old.
Tom looked across the room at his uncle. He was so much older than his mother. Uncle Ernest had been a company director, a man who gave orders and expected them to be obeyed. Invariably, they were. He had the power. It was the same in the family. He was the boss, the master. Tom was not exactly the slave, but certainly the underling. The minion. The subordinate. Tom could refuse. Then what? Would his mother throw him out the flat? In her distress, she had threatened this. If he didn’t obey Uncle Ernest, would he insist he left. With no job, no money, all he could look forward too was a life on the streets. No, it was clear Uncle Ernest had all the power.
Tom shuffled across the room. He stood by his uncle’s side, towering over the old man. Tom peered at Uncle Ernest’s fat thighs encased in chino trousers. Uncle’s gut flopped over his waist, straining against a pink-patterned shirt. Uncle parted his knees further, presenting Tom with a platform of flesh to prostrate himself across. He took a deep breath and slowly lowered himself. He had done this before, he knew how it was done. Within seconds he was face down, the palms of his hands pressed firmly into the ground. His bottom was high over Uncle’s lap and his feet dangled in mid-air. His flip-flops tumbled to the floor.
Tom closed his eyes shut. He felt his Uncle’s arm rest across his back and grip him around the waist. He was in the classic spanking position. Like how many naughty boys across the years?. He felt Uncle Ernest’s movement. Tom’s buttocks clenched, tightening the flesh. Uncle Ernest gripped the brush, raised his hand, paused, and brought it crashing down into the seat on Tom’s shorts. The whack! noise resounded across the room. Five seconds later the action was repeated. Tom now had two stinging marks, one on each cheek.
Uncle kept up a steady rhythm. Whack-raise-hand-pause-whack-raise-hand-pause. Tom’s buttocks were warming up. He lay, bottom high, head low and let his Uncle get on with it. Nineteen-year-old boys are resilient creatures. A spanking – even one with a heavy brush – across the seat of summer shorts and cotton underpants was easily endurable. Tom knew that. But, so too did Uncle Ernest.
He was only getting started.
“Stand up,” he commanded. Tom hauled himself to his feet and stood in front of his uncle. “Hands on head.” The teenager complied without fuss. Again, he closed his eyes. It did him no good, he couldn’t pretend he was anywhere other than in Uncle Ernest’s loungeroom getting his naughty bottom spanked. Tom felt Uncle Ernest grip the waistband of his shorts. It took the old man a moment to fumble with the button there. At last, he had it open. It was a moment’s work to locate the zipper and quickly pull it. The law of gravity took the shorts down Tom’s thighs and they snagged at his legs.
“Back over,” Uncle Ernest unceremoniously dripped Tom’s left elbow and guided him back over his knees. “Right,” Uncle Ernest spoke to himself as he smoothed the creases from Tom’s bright-blue underpants. They already fitted snugly, but by the time Uncle had caressed each buttock and pulled the elasticated waistband tight, they fitted like a second skin.
Tap-tap-tap. Uncle Ernest took his aim. Whack! “Owww,” Tom mouthed silently. That hurt. Unhindered by the summer shorts, the brush could do its work. It cracked against Tom’s hard bottom. The boy’s leg flailed. They were beyond his control. His hips heaved to the left and right. “Steady, steady boy,” Uncle Ernest said through clenched teeth. “Keep still now.” He pounded half a dozen whacks into the underside of the buttocks. Tom’s pants only covered half the flesh, red, oval-shaped marks scorched the naked flesh. “Owwww, owwwww,” Tom was yapping. The spanking was hurting now. Encouraged by this, Uncle Ernest slammed the brush around the circuit, paying especial attention to the meatiest parts of the mounds. But, not forgetting the tender sit-spots, nor the higher reaches of the buttocks. No square centimetre of Tom’s bum was left un-toasted.
He wriggled. He writhed. He hollered. But Uncle Ernest was no slouch in the spanking stakes. He gripped the boy tightly around the waist. The brat was going nowhere – not until Uncle Ernest was certain he had learned his lesson.
“Oww. Oww. Oww.” Tom’s cries covered up the sound of letters plopping onto the doormat. The postman stood puzzled by the front door. Did he recognise that noise? He wondered. He checked he could not be seen from the street before leaning forward and pressing his ear to the door.
“Whack-whack-whack. Ow, ow, ow,” The postman smiled broadly. Yes, he was right. Someone was getting what he deserved. If only more parents did the same. Why the kids of today, they got away with murder. He nearly skipped down the drive. The sun shone more brightly. There was still hope for the world.
Uncle Ernest was an old man, but he could always find reserves of energy when he needed them. Nobody was timing, but Tom’s phone registered 9.47 by the time Uncle Ernest set the brush down. “Up,” he commanded. Tom didn’t need telling twice. He was off Uncle’s lap and hopping up and down massaging his baked buttocks.
“Get dressed,” Uncle Ernest replaced the chair under the dining table. “And don’t you dare disrespect your mother again. Now, go home”
Unhappily, Tom gave his buttocks a rueful rub before heading to the door.
Mr Shankly was back at his kitchen sink, filling the electric kettle for tea when he saw the boy in pink again. This time he was hurrying down The Avenue. “I bet he’s had a lot of fun, don’t you Suki,” he said as he pushed the switch. “Lucky blighter.”
Picture credit: Just Magic (Magic Spanking Factory)
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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