When John returned to the house he shared with three other fellows from Robinson’s department store he was in for a surprise. He noticed it the moment he entered the kitchen where he went to make a cup of tea. He couldn’t miss it. The kitchen was quite small and it would be difficult to hide anything there. But this was not hidden. Whoever had left it wanted it to be found.
John pursed his lips and his eyebrows knotted. He stopped in his tracks and stared at it for a while. He knew what it was at once, although he had never seen such a thing. Not in real life. He had seen many drawings and once or twice they had popped up on television, in old films from the black-and-white days. Where on earth had it come from?
He lit a match under the kettle and while it boiled he took a closer look. For a reason he couldn’t explain to himself it made him a little nervous. He inched closer to the edge of the table and stood over it. His nervousness was seeping into embarrassment. Why was it here? Who had left it out for all to see?
He looked around the room, he had left the door open. One of his housemates might appear at any moment. He had not checked but he felt sure that for now he was alone. Just to be sure he tip-toed from the room and crossed the passageway. The lounge room was empty. He stood at the foot of the stairs and craned his neck, seeking to hear tale-tale signs of life upstairs. All was silence. Satisfied, but with heart fluttering, he returned to the kitchen. The kettle whistled and he turned off the gas but left his tea unmade. He had other things on his mind.
He closed the kitchen door and checking that he could not be overseen from the garden he cautiously approached the table. It was still there, where he had left it. The tip of his tongue darted through a nearly-closed mouth. His lips were dry so he ran his tongue over them. There was a lump in his throat. He knew what he wanted to do. He needed to find some courage. Suddenly his palms sweated. He reproached himself silently. What was wrong with him! Why did this thing make him so nervous?
He rubbed his hands across the legs of his trousers and cautiously he leaned forward to pick it up. He moved slowly, as if the thing were white-hot, or was radioactive, or was threatening to explode at any moment. Gingerly, he picked it up between finger and thumb of his right hand. It surprised him. It was laughingly light. He licked his lips again and held it in his hands with as the reverence usually afforded a religious relic.
He peered down at it. He had never seen one before. He studied it. It didn’t look much close up. In his imagination he had always thought of this thing as awesome. But now he wondered, what was all the fuss about. He gripped it at one end, it was no heavier than a feather. He ran his hand over it. It was long and thin; about three feet he estimated, and no thicker than a pencil. It was dark yellow in colour with notches at every six inches or so. It was curved into a handle at one end and the other was a little frayed. He flexed it between his hands, surprised by its whippiness.
It was a school cane. He suddenly recalled that they had recently been in the news. The government had just banned corporal punishment in schools, there had been a terrific row about it in parliament. Teachers, parents and even the kids themselves were against the ban. John was unsure but he thought the decision had something to do with “Europe.”
He swished the cane through the air, impressed by the swooshing sound it made as it flew. Now, more relaxed, he flexed it to see how far it would bend. He couldn’t make both ends meet but he nearly got there. He swished the cane once more, conjuring up in his mind the image of a headmaster resplendent in academic gown and mortar-board cap. He swiped the cane across an imaginary schoolboy’s backside.
That was when the kitchen door opened. Ralph, one of his housemates, stood in the threshold. John blushed cherry red and in his confusion he let the cane fall onto the table. “I was making tea,” he croaked as he hurried back to the kettle.
Ralph surveyed the scene. His eye looked at the whippy, rattan cane and then across the room at John who was fumbling with tea caddy, pot and cups. “I bought it at Orwell’s Bazaar,” he said evenly. “I thought we needed more discipline in the house. Keith leaves the kitchen in such a mess. Albert’s not much better. I don’t know how many times I’ve spoken to them. Yes, I’ll have tea thank you.”
He took the proffered cup and saucer and blew across the top encouraging the tea to cool. He nodded at the cane on the table. “I hope not to have to use it, but it might be a deterrent, what do you think?”
John felt his face flush again. He mumbled a response that was no response at all. He had difficulty comprehending. The four housemates had shared the house for six months since Christmas. Ralph was three or four years older than the others and had lived there longest, he had chosen the others as companions and considered himself to be the landlord’s representative. He had once been School Captain at St. Tom’s an upscale public (that is elite) boarding school. He had never abandoned the role and continued his attitude into adult life, often treating the others as if they were juniors in the third form.
Ralph finished his tea and making his excuses he went to his room, leaving John to do the washing up. John was about to leave the crockery soaking in the sink until later when from the corner of his eye he saw the cane. Ralph’s words rang in his ears, I thought we needed more discipline in the house. Keith leaves the kitchen in such a mess. Albert’s not much better. He washed the cups and put them away before retreating to his own room.
Five minutes later Keith and Albert arrived together. “Blooming heck!” Keith chortled when he saw the cane, “Look at this!” He grasped it enthusiastically and with great delight he swished it through the air. “Whacko!” he roared with glee. Albert was keen to join in the fun. He gripped his knees and jutted out his backside in jocular fashion. “O’ive been a norky, likkle boy,” he gurgled, while wriggling his buttocks. Keith narrowed his eyes like a pantomime villain. “Pah! It’s six-of-the-best for you me lad,” he frowned jokingly. He skipped across the room, stopping close to Albert’s outstretched posterior. He raised the cane about shoulder height, wobbled it until it sang and then swiped it with force across the very centre of Albert’s seat. “Ouch! Yaroooo! Crikey!” Albert jumped to his feet while simultaneously rubbing away at his bottom in an exaggerated style, “You’ve hurt my botty-wotty.”
Keith flexed the cane between his hands and tried to effect a menacing stance. “Bend over boy. It’s six. There’s five more to go.” Albert was still rubbing the seat of his trousers, “No, thank you very much,” he gasped before dissolving into a fit of giggles.
It was much later that evening that Ralph convened what he chose to call a “house meeting.” The other three agreed Ralph could be a pompous ass at times. Ralph waved a piece of paper. On it, in his neat handwriting, was a list of household chores. “I’ve drawn up a rota. You’re all on it.” He did not emphasise that his own name was not. “You’ve all seen the cane in the kitchen. It will hang on the back of the door. Please don’t make me have to use it,” he said menacingly.
Over the next week or so the house was kept if not spotless, then at least tidy. The cane rattled each time the door was opened. It was a constant reminder of the penalty for domestic failure. None of the housemates took it down to play with it. It hung threateningly. None were in any doubt that Ralph was entirely serious.
One Saturday morning Keith and Albert were reclining in the lounge room. Keith was far from happy. “Somehow my father has learned about our trouble at The Three Fishers last weekend,” he said sorrowfully. He meant the time the two of them and another group of youngsters, tanked up on bitter beer, had cavorted down the High Street. Someone, not Keith or Albert, had urinated in the doorway of Orwell’s. The police were called, but what could they do? The yobs were sent on their way with the smallest flea in their ears.
“He’s coming to visit me here, later,” Keith sighed.
“What will he do?” Albert stretched his legs across the couch.
“Not much he can do really, I’m not a little kid anymore,” Keith brightened up. “Just give me a jawing, I suppose.”
Keith’s father, Mr Parkinson, arrived with little ceremony. He was a big man in many senses. Not only was he tall and broad, he was a man of importance. He employed upward of one hundred people and made deals worth hundreds of thousands. He was not a man to be trifled with. When he spoke, people listened. Keith was right when he told Albert his father would give him a “jawing”. He feared the lecture might go on all day. Oh, how Keith wished his father would just shut up and go home. He already knew he had been an idiot to get drunk and go tearing down the High Street. He knew he had made a damned fool of himself, but his father wasn’t right when he said Keith had embarrassed the family. He hadn’t, Keith reckoned, but dared not say so to his father. He hadn’t appeared in court and nothing had been in the newspapers. Nothing had become public and he wondered how his father had found out.
At last Mr Parkinson had run out of words. There wasn’t any more he could say. He had made himself clear. “Bah!” he concluded. “Damn it boy. Go make me a cup of tea.” Keith was grateful to get off the couch and be out of the room. Mr Parkinson watched him go, his own heart beating fast, set off by the anger he felt. “The damn boy is getting away scott-free,” he thought silently.
As the kitchen door opened, he heard an unusual rattling noise. “Damn,” his son muttered, as he bent over to pick something off the floor. “What was that?” his father asked intrigued. His son blanched, “Oh, nothing Dad. Don’t worry. Let me get that tea.” His father recognised that tone of voice. Something was up. What was he hiding? He followed Keith into the kitchen.
“What the dickens,” his father’s face lit up while Keith’s darkened. The boy held the school cane in his hand. He fumbled his effort to hide it behind his back. “Give it here,” his father’s lips pursed and his eyes narrowed. Shamefacedly, Keith passed the long, thin, supple cane over. His father did what everyone seems to do when holding a cane. He flexed it between his hands to see how far it would bend. He wobbled it in front of his face before swishing it viciously through the air. He said nothing, but the changed expression on his face told that an idea had come to him.
“Where did this come from?” he inquired. Keith’s cheeks burned and his palms moistened as he told his father the story. Mr Parkinson roared with laughter. It was a genuine outburst. He had not heard anything so funny, so preposterous, in ages. He recovered some control of himself and asked “And, has he used it on you yet?” He took perverse pleasure at his son’s discomfort. “No, no, of course not, no,” the boy blustered. Mr Parkinson’s eyebrows knitted, he flexed the cane thoughtfully. He was debating with himself. “Ha! It’s only a matter of time.” Keith stepped backward, away from his father, he had an almost overwhelming desire to flee from the room. The cane swishing continued.
To Keith it seemed like an eternity, but in fact it only took Mr Parkinson seconds to make up his mind. “Perfect,” he said absent-mindedly, “absolutely perfect.” His son’s eyes shone, his throat suddenly dried, his heart beat twenty to the dozen. “No, Dad, no. Please. No. You can’t. Dad, no!” he almost wailed.
“Let’s go into the next room,” his father tucked the cane under his armpit, like some sergeant-major on parade. And, when Keith remained rooted to the spot, he thundered, “Now, lad!” Keith was twenty years old. He had a job and he lived away from his parents’ home, but in that moment he learned that he would never truly escape his father. He would always be in charge. His word would remain law until; until when? Well, until the day one of them died, Keith would later reflect. Keith, sorrowfully and at funeral-pace, led the way.
It was a small lounge, but nonetheless big enough for Mr Parkinson’s purposes. He had never been in the room before but it took mere seconds to appraise his possibilities. An armchair was pushed against the far wall. It had the perfect proportions. “Move that around,” he nodded towards it, “so the back faces into the room.” It was a clear command, given without histrionics. He expected to be obeyed; and he was. Meekly, his son shuffled the few paces necessary to cross the room. The chair was not heavy, but it was hard to get a hold because of the soft, shiny cloth that covered it. It slipped several times in his hand as he manoeuvred it. At last it was in place. He stood straight uncertain what he was supposed to do next.
His father might be considered an ‘old-fashioned’ man, even for the times in which he lived. He believed in order; he believed everything should be in its rightful place. He believed in hierarchy; some led while others followed. He believed in duty. He believed it was his duty as a father to punish his son. Keith’s behaviour had been outrageous. The boy had been drunk and out of control. What kind of life could Keith expect if he had no self-discipline?
Mr Parkinson slipped the cane from under his arm and into his hand. He wobbled it in empty air while gazing at his son. Only for the first time since his arrival had he looked properly at the boy. Already he showed signs of degeneration. His face was pudgy, his waist thick. Too much beer and not enough exercise, his father concluded. Keith could not return his father’s stare, he found great interest in the complicated pattern in the carpet beneath his feet.
Mr Parkinson swished the cane at his son and waved it up and down, “Let’s have those trousers down. Underpants too.” Keith’s jaw fell and for a few moments his mouth remained open. His mouth wanted to voice a protest but his brain was numb, he couldn’t think of a word to say. His body would not move.
“Pah!” His father did not hide his exasperation. “Now, lad. Or do you want extra strokes?” He spoke imperiously, and to Keith his voice seemed to be coming from a long distance away. “Well lad?” the almighty swipe his father made with the cane brought Keith to his senses. He shook his head vigorously, “No, no … Please.”
He father suppressed a sneer, at that moment he disliked his son very much indeed. “Well, let’s get on with it shall we.” The trousers were loose-fitting and once Keith put his mind to the task they were soon open at the front and slipping over his flabby thighs. He let them rest at his knees. He took a deep breath and hesitated. He had been spanked by his father on his underpants as a kid, but never on the bare. “Pants too!” Mr Parkinson blurted. The boy closed his eyes, put his thumbs in the waistband of his dark-blue briefs and slowly guided them down. For a moment he stood like a rabbit in car headlights, afraid to move, aware that he was standing half naked in front of an older man. His cock dangled, demonstrating (if this was needed) to his father that he was no longer a boy.
Swipe! The cane flew through the air, then Mr Parkinson thwacked it with some force against the back of the chair, “Bend over.” Keith was resigned. There was no way to avoid this. His father was in control. Keith lived by his rules. No question. He shuffled his feet and turned on his heels. Now he faced the chair, he rubbed the palms of his hands together, tried to calm his beating heart and slowly leaned forward.
The chair was the perfect height to receive Keith. His cock dug into the apex of the chair and his stomach cleared it by an inch or so. His bottom was raised at a good angle to receive the beating. He reached forward and gripped the front of the seat cushion. His knees were slightly bent and his feet parted. The trousers and underpants stayed at his knees which meant he would be unable to kick his legs about too much once the cane began to bite.
Mr Parkinson waited for Keith to settle, “Head low, bottom high,” he intoned and he tapped the cane gently across his buttocks to encourage the boy further over the chair. “Good,” he said when Keith was positioned to his satisfaction. “Now, try not to move about too much. And don’t stand or try to impeded me. If you do, we’ll start all over again. Is that clear?” A muffled response spoken into the dusty seat cushion affirmed that it was.
Mr Parkinson stood a yard or so to his son’s left side (a cane’s length) and gently sawed the whippy rod across the centre of his buttocks. The cheeks were plump and he pressed the cane in hard, noticing how it left a line imprinted in the flesh. Satisfied of his aim, he moved the cane away, raised it so that it was above the height of his shoulder and with a twist of his body he brought it crashing down, using all the power in his forearm. Mr Parkinson was a keen golfer so had a great deal of upper body strength. A thin red line immediately appeared across Keith’s buttocks. The whole of his bottom wobbled, then his hips wriggled, his head moved from left to right like a horse trying to shake off a fly. He gasped, but swallowed down the yelp his body demanded he bark.
The second stroke hit lower, the third higher. Mr Parkinson had a large target and he made sure his whippy cane struck from the top of the mounds, over the crest of the hills and into the sensitive under-cheeks. It was a mightily-effective thrashing. Keith played his part. The pain was excruciating and it felt like his father was pressing a white-hot wire into his rear, but with some effort the boy stayed in position. True, his buttocks, wobbled, his hips swayed and his back arched, but at no time did he move from his submissive position. His father, quietly admired him for his fortitude.
There was no need for “extra strokes” – a dozen had been Mr Parkinson’s unannounced tariff and once the twelfth stroke had cut deep into the underside of his bottom (that one would reignite every time Keith sat down in the hours to come) he said quietly, “Okay. That’s over. You may stand. Get dressed.”
It took a moment for the boy to get his breath back. His body was wracked with pain and blood travelled through his arteries at the speed of light. His heartrate was off the scale, his temples throbbed as much as his bum, his eyes were blinded, he had no saliva in his mouth. He paused, still prostrate across the chair, waiting for his body to calm and recover. The pain in his bottom was powerful, but already it was dissipating. His scorched flesh cooled a little and the pain turned to an intense throbbing. As he stood and gingerly examined the damage with the tips of his fingers the surface of his corrugated bottom felt like leather. He sucked in air, still urging his blood pressure to fall. He reached down to his knees and in one movement he tugged up both his trousers and pants together and in great discomfort he wriggled them over his buttocks. He straightened himself and turned to face his father.
Only then, over Mr Parkinson’s shoulder, did he see Ralph standing half in and half out of the doorway. He was failing to suppress a grin. Mr Parkinson, alerted by his son’s stare, turned and for the first time realised that he had an audience. “Well done, Sir,” Ralph beamed, “A very fine job if you don’t mind me saying so.” Mr Parkinson flushed and looked down at the cane still in his hand. He had never been good at receiving compliments and he blushed profusely.
“Thank you, Ralph,” he glowed. “And, thank you for informing me about this little …” He nodded towards Keith, for once lost for words.
“A pleasure, Sir,” Ralph bowed his head as a courtier might to a king, “Indeed a pleasure.”
Picture credit: Unknown
Other stories you might like:
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Also writing school stories as Scholastic here
Charles Hamilton the Second