Mr Hawkins tapped cautiously on the bedroom door. “Zach are you awake? You should get up, breakfast is nearly ready.” When he received no reply he knocked a little louder, “Come on Zach, get a move on.” He leaned in closer to the door with his ear almost against the panelling. Nothing. He couldn’t hear a sound. He frowned and very carefully, as if afraid of what he might see, he turned the handle and inched open the door.
Nothing. An empty – if very untidy – room. The bed was dishevelled but Mr Hawkins had no idea if this meant it had been slept in the previous night. The whole room looked very well lived in (to put it politely).
Mr Hawkins frowned. Where was he? He was certain the bathroom was empty and his nineteen-year-old lodger was definitely not downstairs.
“I don’t effing believe it,” he sighed. Mr Hawkins didn’t swear, even when there was nobody around and he was talking to himself. He hurried across the landing and checked the bathroom, even though he knew Zach was not there.
“He’s not at home,” Mr Hawkins told himself, but this time without moving his lips. “He’s been out all night,” he fumed. “With friends, obviously. A girl maybe. Having sex no doubt. That was definitely not ‘social distancing.’”
Mr Hawkins ran down the stairs in a temper. The brat knows there’s a Covid-19 pandemic raging. “Stay at home, protect the national health service, save lives,” that’s what people had been ordered to do. Everybody was at risk. “That stupid effing bar steward,” he said aloud.
Mr Hawkins had had it up to here with Zach. Even in the best of times he resented his presence. Mr Hawkins was fifty-eight and had been made redundant from his job as assistant office manager at a large firm. Now the best job he could get – and would ever likely get – was as a low paid supermarket assistant. With such a reduced income he was forced to take in a lodger. Zach was a trainee something or other at the bank, and like most of the Western World he was off work waiting for the panic to end.
Zach gave Mr Hawkins no pleasure, he was typical of his kind. All teenagers think they know best, they think they are invincible and that the world revolves around them. Selfish to a boy and girl. Zach, Mr Hawkins thought, was a right pain in the you-know-where. But, at least he did pay the rent (or more truthfully, the bank paid it for him). Otherwise he would have thrown him out on his ear ages ago.
Mr Hawkins turned off the heat under the frying pan. “Breakfast for one this morning,” he grizzled. He eyed the clock on the wall; nearly ten o’clock. When would the brat be home, bringing all his germs and viruses with him?
Ten became eleven and then twelve noon. At close to one o’clock Mr Hawkins heard a scrape in the lock of the front door. He rose from his chair and stood in the doorway of the lounge and waited. Moments later Zach was standing in the hallway.
“Where have you been out all night?” Mr Hawkins chided.
“What are you, my mother?” Zach snarled, leaving Mr Hawkins deflated. But not defeated. “Have you heard about coronavirus?” he asked sarcastically. “That virus that’s killing all the world.”
“Yeah, so what?”
“We are supposed to stay at home. Self-isolate.”
“Well you do that, if you like.”
“We are supposed to protect each other. Stop the virus spreading.”
“Here ends the public service address,” Zach hung his coat on the hook on the wall and headed for the stairs.
“Not so fast buster,” Mr Hawkins was past his prime but he could be roused and when that happened beware of his temper. “You have broken the law. Where have you been? Who have you been with? What have you been doing?” each question was asked in a rapidly increasing volume.
Zach looked down his nose at his interfering landlord. He knew Mr Hawkins didn’t like him and well, as far as Zach was concerned the feeling was mutual. “I haven’t got coronavirus,” he spoke slowly as if explaining to a dull child.
“How do you know?” Mr Hawkins snapped.
“Because I ain’t got no symptoms,” Zach shook his head; when would the old man get it?
“You don’t know that,” his landlord raged. “You could be asymptomatic.” Mr Hawkins had watched a lot of television during the lockdown and like most of the nation he had picked up a few new words over the weeks. “You could have it and not know.”
Zach sighed with impatience, “Well so what. It won’t kill me, it doesn’t really affect the young.”
Mr Hawkins glared, he couldn’t believe his ears. “What!” he exploded. “You selfish little ….” He let the sentence trail off, but enraged by his lodger’s dumb insolence, he carried on, “What about me? I’m not young. You could give it to me. Then, what? Then what, eh? I could die.”
“I wish you would.” Zach had meant to say it under his breath but Mr Hawkins heard him well enough.
“What did you say? What did you say,” his arms flailed like a windmill as he directed ineffective slaps of his hand at the nineteen-year-old’s head. Zach pushed him away and they stood eyeball to eyeball in confrontation.
“You bar steward,” Mr Hawkins spluttered. That set Zach off. “Bar steward? Bar steward, you can’t even say bastard. You’re pathetic. Do you know that. In your pathetic little house. With your pathetic job at the supermarket. D’you know what, death’s a blessing for people like you.” He made to push his way by his landlord and head towards the bathroom.
Mr Hawkins chest tightened and his head spun, a red mist was descending. “You… You…” he couldn’t find the words. What did he want to say? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t know what to say, but suddenly and very clearly he knew what he wanted to do.
What he was going to do.
He reached out and grabbed a chunk of Zach thick, dark hair. “You come here, come here,” Mr Hawkins’ voice rose to a crescendo. He dragged the boy through the doorway into the lounge. Taken by surprise Zach lost his footing and found his feet were sliding along the carpet. “I will not have it. I won’t have it. Not in my own house!” Mr Hawkins was wailing now.
“Gerroff me! Gerroff! for ferks sake,” Zach struggled but couldn’t break clear of his tormentor.
“You watch your language, young man. Have some respect.” Mr Hawkins’ temper was flying. He had no clear plan of action but that red mist demanded vengeance. Suddenly he found he was swiftly unbuckling his belt and drawing it through the loops on his trousers.
“What are you doing?” Zach could not hide his alarm as he watched Mr Hawkins double up the leather strap. “No don’t. Stop that. Gerroff!”
Mr Hawkins shoved Zach in the back and the teenager fell face down onto the seat of an armchair. Before he could escape his landlord gripped Zach’s arm and pulled it up his back. For a moment at least he was pinned down facedown but with his backside up and in the perfect position to receive lashes from the belt.
Mr Hawkins was no slouch; he rained down six, then twelve heavy swats of the belt across the seat of Zach’s jeans. The teenager yelled more with indignation than in pain. Zach’s buttocks were small and hardly filled out the seat of his jeans. Mr Hawkins didn’t have much of a target but he made the most of what he had. He let fly across both cheeks. The jeans had heavy back pockets which gave the boy protection from the spanking that he deserved. He wriggled his hips and kicked his legs but again all he manged to do was slide against the carpet.
“You’ve been needing this for a very long time, you brat,” Mr Hawkins breathed uneasily with the exertion of spanking Zach. He knew with the heavy denim jeans he was making very little impact on Zach’s bottom. While he had the chance he belted the backs of the boy’s thighs where the denim was thinner and the flesh more sensitive to pain. That set the brat wriggling and writhing more. He hissed with genuine pain. Mr Hawkins allowed himself a moment of satisfaction.
If he had not been so overwhelmed by the anger and gave himself time to think, Mr Hawkins might have devised a way to take the jeans down and deliver the well-deserved spanking across the seat of Zach’s underwear – or glory be, across his bare bum.
But that wasn’t to be. In a fair fight there was no doubt that Zach had the strength to knock Mr Hawkins into the middle of next week, but at least for a moment his landlord had the element of surprise and the upper hand.
Zach continued to put up a fight and the effort of holding the bucking boy face down across the chair seat while also whipping the leather belt across his backside soon took its toll. Zach wriggled free and forced his way to his feet. Mr Hawkins continued the whipping cutting into Zach’s back and shoulders.
The boy’s eyes were moist. Were they tears of shame, or of humiliation? Or possibly they were tears of sorrow. Zach hurried from the room, dashed up the stairs and bundled into the bathroom where he locked the door firmly. This would have to be his sanctuary until Mr Hawkins calmed down.
Downstairs, Mr Hawkins looked closely at the belt he held limply in his hand. “Did that just happen?” he asked the sideboard. He got no answer so he looped the belt back around his waist and shuffled into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea and ponder what he would say to Zach the next time he saw him.
Picture credit: British Boys Fetish Club
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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