“You seem more lively this morning,” said Hansie. “Shall I ring Phil and Piet and ask them if they’d like to get together today, instead? That’s the second week running we’ve missed out on our Friday night.”
I pulled a face. “Mmm, let’s not. I don’t feel so under the weather, but how about a day to ourselves for a change? We could nip into Barchester and do some shopping, and maybe go to the cinema.”
“Shopping? With you? Ach, are you that desperate for a divorce? Anyway, there’s nothing on at the Odeon I want to see.”
“Miserable old goat.”
“You,” announced Hansie with some gravity, “have not been spanked in far too long.”
“What? All I said was that you’re a miserable old goat. I mean, any independent critic would agree that. . .” my mild, and I think perfectly justifiable, critique of my lover’s failure to see reason was cut off with a squeak as he made a grab for me. I dodged around the armchair.
He advanced on me, menacingly.
“Ja, it’s a good arse tanning you need, hey, boy? I think it is time you sat a bit more uncomfortably – hah!” He pounced, laughing, and I only just managed to evade his grasp. He’s faster than he looks.
“There are boxes in the garage,” he continued, still stalking me relentlessly as I tried to manoeuvre into a position where I could make a dash for the door, “that have not even been looked at since we moved. You promised me faithfully that once you had the last assignment typed up you would spend a day going through them and deciding what to do with them, and since, as you point out, we have a whole day to ourselves, you are damned well going to do it.”
I broke from the shelter of the table, but he had read the play. Well, I suppose I was always on a hiding to nothing, so to speak, trying that on one of Piet’s protégés. I found myself tackled and upended. A hand came down with a crack on my backside.
“Ow.” I felt that, even through the soft fleece of a pair of tracksuit trousers. It had been a couple of weeks since anything more firm than a pair of underpants had been applied to my backside. His hand slipped inside my trackies and did lascivious things to my bottom, while his voice did lascivious things to my head, telling me that I was going to get a good seeing-to. . .
So it wasn’t actually until the afternoon, a little bit pinker and a lot more relaxed, that I eventually got scooted out to the garage to look through the boxes.
“I’m just going outside, I may be sometime,” I announced, but my Captain Oates impression was greeted only with a grunt from the depths of his newspaper.
To be honest, it was a bit of a disgrace. I mean, we’ve been in this house what – a year and a bit now? and here were things I’d just thrown into boxes in desperation and still hadn’t got around to sorting out. Some of them had been already boxed up in the attic of the old place, and I’d just thought, fuck it, I don’t have time to go through them, we’ll just bring them and I’ll sort them out afterwards. Probably a lot of what was in them could be thrown away – should have been thrown away before we moved. But you know how it is with house moves, first there’s too much time, with everything taking for ever, and then it all happens at once and you’re trying to get your entire life packed away ready for the moving men and still be able to find the kettle and a clean shirt.
The old magazines were obvious, those could go. A box of broken kitchen gadgets –why in God’s name had I kept those? An old but still usable iron, kept in case the current one broke. An electric kettle, ditto. All out. One of us could take them down to the council tip. Paperbacks in these two – those had to come in, I couldn’t think how I had missed them before. One of the joys of this house was that it had bookcases everywhere, which since I was constitutionally incapable of throwing out a book was a blessing for which I gave daily thanks.
What was in this one? – ah. Old school exercise books. This was one of the boxes Mary had given me when I moved into my first house, and I had never looked at since. I picked up a pale green one:
God, that took me back. Mrs Livermore’s class. A big woman with curly grey hair who sailed along the corridors in long, paisley-printed skirts, and had a wicked wit that could cut the most obstreperous troublemaker down to size.
And here was another one, red, my fifth form mathematics book, Mr Sharrow’s class, with a Darth Vader portrait drawn on the inside back cover, the product, as far as I remembered, of a particularly dull explanation of the theory of sets. Jason Sweet and Don Cunningham had asked to see it and Don had promptly written ‘J Murdo Midgely’ (the headmaster’s name) underneath, and I had had to painstakingly scribble over the name in ballpoint pen until it was illegible. As I was putting it the book back something fell out and fluttered to the floor.
A photocopy of what was obviously a hand-lettered advert.
SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! it announced excitedly. ONE OFF SHOWING – SEXY SUZY SINS AGAIN! TONIGHT 6pm, 14 ADDINGTON ROAD. £1 ENTERANCE FEE – that was Don, I’d never have got ‘entrance’ wrong, but by the time he’d run them off it was too late. And underneath, a grainy and scarcely decipherable picture of a young lady of ample charms with one lavishly moustachioed gentleman paying court to each, um, prominence.
I swear it was pure reflex that made me snatch it up and shove it behind my back as a shadow fell over me.
“I just came to see if you wanted – Tim, what are you hiding?”
“Nothing,” I said automatically, aware that my face was going distinctly pink.
He cocked his head on one side. “Nothing?”
“Erm, just some old papers and stuff.”
He held out a hand. “Give.”
I shrugged, handed it over. I don’t know why the whole thing still made me feel so embarrassed.
Hansie’s eyebrows rose dramatically.
“Ja, and what is all this then, hey? Ach God, don’t tell me you’re” – he paused in mock horror, lowered his voice to hiss “secretly heterosexual.”
“Very funny. Can I have it back, please?”
“Not until you confess all.”
“I’d rather not. It was all deeply embarrassing.”
“Ah hah. I think I must beat it out of you.”
“Or perhaps I shall not beat it out of you. Ja, that is it, confess all, young man, or I shan’t punish you.”
“You aren’t going to let this drop until I tell you, are you?”
“Not a chance. I came to ask if you wanted tea, hey? Come into the kitchen and I shall give you tea, and perhaps if the story is a good one, biscuits.”
“Only if the story is really good.”
Well, judge for yourself.
“Look at those!” said Don, with all the awed reverence of a Howard Carter seeing the tomb of Tutankhamen for the first time.
“I am looking.” And so I was. The trouble was, I was looking without any trace of Don’s evident pleasure. ‘Those’, the generous assets of the star of the tape Don had just jammed furtively into his mother’s video machine, were interesting from a purely biological point of view – how could she walk with that much in front without overbalancing? – but in terms of response in the trouser department they might just as well not have been there.
“The sound’s crap,” I said. The cheesy, tinny music and the wooden delivery of the actors all warbled as if recorded under 6 feet of water.
“You don’t watch it for the soundtrack, you nong,” he retorted with some scorn. “Oh fuck. . .”
“Yes, I think they are. God, is she really going to take both – wow, she is. . .” I grew slightly interested despite myself. Neither of the male co-stars did much for me, but the only erect cock I’d ever seen in operation was my own. And who knew that the orifices of the human body were that elastic?
“Jeez, this is filthy. This stuff is dynamite.” Don was twisting awkwardly on the sofa, and I realised that he was rubbing himself surreptitiously. I swallowed, shifted my position slightly, allowed my thigh to drift towards his as if by accident, hoping that his next shift might make us brush together. I wondered what would happen if I dared reach for him. . .
“Oh God!” he sighed, as if someone had let all the air out of him, and I realised that he had climaxed. In his underwear. I rather imagined he would be scrubbing his pants in the bathroom sink this evening so his mother didn’t see. I knew how that one went. “Oh God. This film is amazing. Imagine someone just throwing it out!”
We had come across the video protruding from a torn plastic rubbish sack dumped against someone’s garden hedge on our way to school. Don’s casual “oh look, someone’s chucked a video, wonder if it’s any good,” rapidly became “shit! ‘Sexy Susy Sins Again’? Tim, it’s a porno vid, wonder if there’s any more in there.” Fortunately or unfortunately, it was the only one. It had burned like kryptonite in his schoolbag all day, drawing both our glances, and getting me into trouble for not paying attention in the RE lesson. As soon as school was out we had rushed to his house, knowing his mother wouldn’t be home from work until 6 o’clock.
And frankly it was a big disappointment. Not because it was a bad copy, the colours alternately luridly saturated and washed out to a sort of greeny grey, although they were. Not because of the aforementioned underwater soundtrack, or the terrible acting. Hey, terrible acting and porn goes together like a prenup and a Hollywood marriage, although I didn’t know that then, obviously. No, it wasn’t due to that, or the total failure to even pretend it had a plot, or the fact that none of the participants looked remotely as if they were having a good time, or were even that interested in one another. No, it was more that I had hoped, hoped against hope, that just maybe seeing a real woman do it would turn me on, that I might be normal after all.
Only I wasn’t. I wasn’t normal at all. The only thing that had excited me was seeing Don get turned on. Let’s face it. It wasn’t girls I was interested in.
“Wow, wait till Jase and Mick and some of the others hear about this.”
“You should set up a cinema and give showings,” I said sarcastically.
He wrinkled his nose at me, then looked thoughtful. “Actually. . .”
“Actually, that isn’t such a bad idea. We could get them to come round, charge them to come and see it. A fiver.”
“Come off it, no-one’s going to pay a fiver to see some wobbly knock-off of a crap porn film from the seventies. Anyway, Jase hasn’t got any money, he’s still paying his mum back for the loan she gave him to get a bike, Mick blows all his on clothes, and Gaz and Sam are too stingy.”
“Well, a pound then. If we got enough of our year to come we could still make a tidy sum.”
“And how are you going to explain it to your mum? Oh sorry mum, these 30 lads have all come round to watch the telly because theirs have all broken at the same time, and would you like to go out while we watch it, pretty please?”
“Everyone’s a critic,” he said crossly, emphasising it with a sharp blow to my upper arm. I know–”
“But your garage has electricity and lights and everything. And you’ve got that portable telly in your room. I could bring the video and we could hook it up. If we did it Thursday, while your uncle is still away in Italy, the WI are playing skittles in Castle Storley that night, so my mum and your aunt Mary won’t be back until at least 9:30. I know because mum told me she’d leave me the money so I could get fish and chips.”
“No way, Don.”
“Oh come on, it’ll be a laugh. And we’ll share the money 50:50. You could get that book you were after.”
“No, Don. Not happening. Non. Nein. Nyet. Never.”
“Look, if any more come we won’t even be able to see, never mind being able to sit down.”
“Relax, don’t get your knickers in a twist. I shouldn’t think any more are coming – I mean, this is everyone we know, I reckon.”
“And their mates,” I said with feeling. “You should have told people it was a private party. I don’t even know who half these people are. And that guy over there is in the Upper Sixth, and so is John Tierney’s brother. And those three guys who brought the vodka and coke aren’t even from our school.”
“Killer idea though, I wish I’d thought to get some.”
“For fuck’s sake, like Mr Patel would sell you vodka. He'd be straight onto your mum. Anyway, shouldn’t we start?”
Someone overheard this, and yelled: “Yeah, get it on!” which provoked several catcalls, and “No, get ’em off!”.
I looked at Don. “Better do it. The natives are getting restless.” He nodded, and I switched the lights off as he switched my little portable television on, and set the video running.
There were a few audible grumbles at first about the quality of the sound and picture, but as things on-screen hotted up the audience fell silent apart from the occasional whispered 'wow' or 'cor!' and a few half-embarrassed giggles. There was also a bit of shuffling as certain parts of the anatomy needed adjusting from their formerly constrained positions. A perceptible miasma of adolescent hormones started to form, like steam.
“Jeezus!” said someone, at a particularly – um – involved contortion.
“He’s not in it as well, is he?” quipped a wit at the back. Matt Tierney, John’s older brother, the gorgeously lithe star of the school running track with the dark sorrowful eyes of a Byzantine angel.
Everyone laughed, and as if it were a cue the picture slipped sideways, was crossed by a set of dark bars moving upwards, and froze.
“Shit, the video’s jammed!” moaned Don. He raced forwards, and started pushing buttons on the video to no discernible effect, except that the television started showing BBC2.
“Shit is right,” said someone else. “This is crap. I don’t know how you had the nerve to charge us for this, Cunningham. I want my money back.”
“No wait, I’ll get it going,” said the ever-hopeful Don. A chorus of ‘Why Are We Waiting’ began. A crumpled up piece of paper sailed over the intervening heads and bounced off the television screen.
“Oh grow up!” snarled Don at his audience. Under the circumstances, with a room full of bored, horny, frustrated teenage boys, this might not have been the most diplomatic response. A barrage of screwed up pieces of paper – Don’s flyers, surreptitiously photocopied on the machine in the school library – assailed him in response. Then a tennis ball – where the hell had that come from?
“Hey,” said Don, “who threw that?” One of the boys I didn’t know, from Rackham’s, the rougher school at the other end of town, stood up and chucked an empty bottle of Coke at him. Plastic, thank God, but things were rapidly getting out of hand.
“Hey,” I said. “Watch it, lads. My uncle. . .”
“Ooh, yes, don’t mess it up, lads, or Timmy will get a spanking!” said someone.
I went scarlet. Although there were plenty of other lads in our year who got walloped from time to time by dads or stepdads, there weren’t many parents who still believed in the cane, and Jim’s occasional displeasure was all too evident when we changed for PE, the subject of half-amused, half-sympathetic glances.
“Timmy deserves a spanking for making us pay for this,” drawled Matt Tierney.
“Yeah, put him over your knee,” piped up some other herbert.
“Yeah, and Cunningham,” agreed another voice.
“What! No way,” exploded a red-faced Don. Matt Tierney looked across at me and grinned in a slightly menacing fashion. There was a sudden little electric thrill of connection between the strangely fascinating scenes of spanking in various books, the uncomfortable warmth I felt when watching things like Tom Brown’s Schooldays on the television, and the idea of Matt Tierney’s hand on my bare bum. Jim’s punishments were punishments. There was nothing pleasurable about them, even afterwards, because they were a sign I had let him down. But this. . .
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve replayed that moment, that grin and what it might have led to, in my fantasies. But it was only a moment, and then the tiny spasm of excitement was washed away by hot embarrassment, and I wished for the floor to open and swallow me. Fortunately, one of the intruders from Rackham saved me instead.
“God, you St Edmunds boys are such perves,” he said, more accurately than he knew, tongue unwisely loosened by vodka and Coke. The mob turned its eyes upon new prey.
“Maybe we should spank them,” suggested John.
“Yeah, who invited you anyway?” said Don. “This is a private showing.”
“Fucking useless showing, more like,” responded the other boy. “Come on, lads, lets split and leave these sad individuals to wank over their broken porn video.” And with a certain amount of jostling and lip-curling, they swaggered out. Only as the last of them did so, Don, showing off, gave him a half-hearted shove to speed him on his way. Swiftly, the other boy turned and shoved back, a lot harder. Taken by surprise – and why it didn’t occur to him that the other would respond if challenged I don’t know – Don staggered back, bumped into my portable, and with the awful inevitability of the Titanic and the iceberg it toppled forward and hit the concrete with a flash and a muffled implosion.
“Shit, shit, shit!” A curl of nauseating smoke rose from the wreckage.
“Quick, someone, unplug it!” John was nearest the plug but he shrank back.
“Is it safe? I don’t want to get electrocuted.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” said his brother irritably, striding forward to yank the plug out. “There, it’s done.” He looked at me and shrugged apologetically. “Sorry mate, your TV is totalled though. Looks like the entertainment is over for tonight.” He patted me on the back, and strolled out the door. Others started getting to their feet, complaining grumpily, and began to follow. Soon Don and I were the only ones left.
Don bit his lip, and looked at me. “Tim, I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean. . .”
I swung between heaven and hell. Matt Tierney had touched me! He called me mate! What the fuck was I going to tell Jim and Mary about the TV? – it had been a Christmas present, only 5 months ago. I was so dead!
“Just go, will you? I’d better tidy up.”
“Can I borrow a screwdriver? I have to get that video out of the machine before I take it home to mum.”
“There’s some in the toolbox over there. Wait, Don. . .”
“He’s about to suggest, laddie, that you unplug it first. At least I hope he is.”
“Jim! You’re back early!”
Don had gone a nasty shade of green. I suspect I didn’t look much better.
“We were just. . .”
“Tidying up. I heard. What happened to the television, Tim?”
“It fell.” Not a lie. Just not as informative as it might be.
“I see.” I got an old-fashioned Look. “Och well, I doubt it’ll do ye much good now. I suggest ye throw it straight out for the scaffie.”
Don looked puzzled. “He means the bin man,” I explained. It was not a good sign that Jim had reverted to dialect.
“Mr Hamilton, it was my fault. I knocked it.”
Jim looked at him. “Aye,” he said, ambiguously. He turned back to the door. “I’ll go in, I’ve not even had a cup of tea yet. Tim, I’ll see you in a minute. Oh, and Don?”
“Yes, Mr Hamilton?”
“Make sure you get that dirty video out of the machine before you take it home.” He vanished, leaving us to exchange horrified looks.
“He knows! Oh God, he’ll kill me!”
Don looked queasy. “Unless I get that video out of the machine without breaking it, you won’t be the only one to get killed.” By dint of prodding, hooking, and levering we managed eventually to persuade the case of the videotape out of the machine, and a further 5 sweaty, heartpounding minutes got the protruding entrails of magnetic tape removed from the machinery without apparently breaking any of it.
“I’d better go, then.” He picked up the bulky VCR and shot me a look of deep sympathy. Rather you than me, it said.
I sidled cautiously into the house. Jim was sitting at the kitchen table, a mug of tea in front of him, his suitcase and a duty-free bag still standing in the corner. He looked weary.
“I – um – need the dustpan. For the glass. Jim, I'm sorry.”
“For what, laddie?”
I paused a moment. What was I sorry for, exactly?
“For letting the TV get broken.”
He shrugged. “It was your TV. You're the one who'll have to do without it.”
“I know, but...” I paused. He didn't seem particularly cross.
“Are you...?” My voice broke, and I cleared my throat again. “Are you going to cane me?”
He looked up in genuine surprise. “No, whatever gave ye that idea?”
“I thought you'd be angry.”
“It was an accident. Oh, I was a bit cross you broke that TV when you only had it last Christmas, and you shouldn't have had it out there in the first place, but under the circumstances I can see why you did.”
I looked down. “How did you know?”
He chuckled. “That it was a dirty video? Teenage boys hidden away in the garage with a TV and a video recorder? What else would it be?”
I blushed furiously, and he gave me a searching look. “Look, Tim, I'm not exactly condoning it. That kind of thing is exploitative, and you should be grateful it wasn't your aunt Mary that caught you. She'd probably have made you both watch it with her and explain exactly what was going on.”
I shuddered. The depths of embarrassment this conjured up scarcely bore thinking about.
“Did you enjoy it?”
“No, not very much,” I confessed in a small voice.
“No, I never did, either.” To my shocked look he returned a grin. “Och, laddie, I've seen things would make your hair curl when we were on tour in the old days. But after the first five minutes they all start to look the same.”
“No-one seemed to be having a very good time. I mean, it was all so grim.”
“Aye. But just remember, laddie, porn isn't sex, any more than a programme about a burger factory is a meal. You'll find that out, hopefully.”
I blushed again, and so did he. Oh, we'd done the birds-and-bees stuff years ago, and he and Mary were both pretty open, but it was still embarrassing.
“So you aren't going to punish me?”
“Not for that. Never for that. And as for the TV – well, you'd better start saving if you want a replacement, but apart from that, no, as I told you already. Why, do you want me to punish you?”
“No, no,” I protested hastily.
“Good, because I'm tired, and I'd much rather have myself a glass of wine and an evening with you watching the television. The respectable channels, that is. If they're not too tame for you.”
I grinned at him. “They'll be fine.”
“Good. Now go and sweep up that glass before your aunt gets home. And Tim?”
“Don't tell her about all this till tomorrow, there's a good lad? I could do without having to arbitrate tonight.”
“Yes, Jim.” I bent down to the cupboard under the sink to get the dustpan, and as I did so, some of the money contributed by our viewing audience fell from my pocket and rolled noisily to the floor.
Jim frowned. “Raiding the piggy bank?”
“No, it's the money they paid to...” my voice trailed off.
“Who paid?” Sharply.
“All the lads from school.”
“You mean you were charging – you had your friends from school in and you actually charged them money to watch this mucky film of yours? Jings, laddie, ye're unbelievable.”
“But – I thought you knew. I thought you saw!”
“I saw you and Don Cunningham. I thought this was just the two of you up to your tricks, not the setting up of a blue movie cinema on the premises! Will ye be hanging a red light out the window next? How many?”
“How many what?”
“How many of ye were there?” he said with some exasperation.
“Holy mackerel! And what will happen when some of those boys get asked by their parents where their money went? Do you think your aunt is going to be amused having people's mothers buttonhole her in the supermarket and accuse her of running a porn cinema in her garage? And some of those boys’ fathers are local councillors, or people I do business with, let alone the ones who are my own employees. What sort of position does that put me in?”
“I didn't think.” Even to me it sounded weak, but it was true. I hadn't thought, not about the consequences for him and Mary.
He made an exasperated sound. “You never do, laddie. For someone so bright. . .”
“I know. I’m an awful numpty.”
He looked at me consideringly. “Go and tidy up the glass in the garage, then go to your room and wait for me.”
Fuck. Looked like it wasn't going to be a relaxing evening watching the TV together after all.
“Hah. And was it? Here, have another Jaffa cake.”
“Thanks. Oh, we did watch the TV in the end, but I watched it unable to get comfortable, with 12 stripes across my backside, and he didn't hold back giving them, either. I think he was genuinely pissed off that he had to do it, actually.”
“And what did Mary say?”
“Nothing. Very loudly and pointedly. I think Jim told her he had dealt with it.”
He grinned at me. “So. My lover the porn baron.”
I flapped a hand at him dismissively.
“And this Matt Tierney? Should I be worried?”
“Never spoke to me again, and I was too shy to approach him. I’ve often wondered though. ‘Timmy should be spanked’. Did that idea turn him on, too?”
“Ja, and why should it not? Such a pretty and spankable bottom at his mercy?”
“Oh come off it.” I said, feeling my face grow warm, and shifting uncomfortably as the frank lust in his gaze made blood rush somewhere else as well. “He was straight as far as I know. Still you have to wonder.”
“And straight guys cannot enjoy the idea of spanking, or being spanked?”
“Yes, of course they can, I’ve even been spanked by one or two, or one who claimed to be at any rate. No I just meant – did I imagine there was something, some spark, when he looked at me that time? Or would he really have done it? Guess I’ll never know.”
“We do not know, my liefie, ever, what might have been. So we must take our opportunities when they arise, ja nee?” He held out his hand, and took mine, and without further and unnecessary words, led me to the bedroom.
And took – his opportunities. Yes, certainly those.
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© , 2007