I had played well, and I knew it, and Piet was going to be pleased. With one exception. There was one particular play where I got it all wrong. I mean, not just a bit wrong, but all to pieces. I can’t even say it wasn’t my fault: it was. I was all over the place. I got my act together fast enough and the rest of the match was good. Piet had never said better than ‘tolerable’ but sometimes you just know when you’ve done well, and he was going to be pleased.
Not pleased enough, mind you. I was going to have to pay for the early pig’s ear. Nothing new there. If you’ve been following the plot, you’ll know that Piet doesn’t let me away with much. Well, not with anything. I was going to smart for that mistake, but afterwards there would be praise and a bottle of wine. I was sure of that.
The only catch was the timing. I’m not good at waiting for a punishment. I’ll take what’s coming, don’t doubt me, but waiting for it destroys my nerves and makes me nauseous. The time in Bath, when I had to wait until we got home, I was travel sick all the way in the coach. The occasion of the charity match against Marshals, a couple of hours was enough to make me queasy. The Ecstasy thing – well, that did for me completely. Piet did make me wait to begin with but he’s learned that it makes me so miserable that now he just finds the first opportunity and gets it over.
And this time? I was here, and he was in South Africa. Bugger.
He’d had to go. There had been a death in the family, some cousin I think, and Piet had decided to go home for the funeral. His own family lives near Ficksburg, I think, and this relative was from a small town near Kroonstad, and he decided that he would make a trip of it and call on some friends in Pietermaritzburg and Vryheid as well. So he was out of the country for several weeks. I missed him desperately, but he called every couple of days, and emailed every night. It was unfortunate that I had a match while he was away, but as he pointed out, it would do no harm for it to be seen that we were not joined at the hip and that I was allowed out without him.
“But you will be careful about what you do and what you drink after this match, koekie, won’t you? I don’t want to hear that Hansie has had to mug a photographer again.”
“Don’t rub it in. I’ll be careful.”
“And I shall see you play, anyway. I have found a satellite channel that is taking the match.”
Isn’t technology wonderful?
Like I say, I did play well, with that one exception, and when Piet rang, he said so.
“What did the sports papers say?”
“Said I was good.”
“Ha. What did Hansie say?”
“He said so too. He thought you would be pleased.”
“Well, koekie, and so I am. Mostly. Tell me the thing I am not pleased about.”
I squirmed. Even over the phone, Piet can do that to me.
“The bit after the first lineout.”
“And what did you do? Or rather, what did you not do?”
“I didn’t watch to my left, so I was taken by surprise. I did remember afterwards, Piet. I didn’t make the same mistake again.”
“No, you didn’t make the same mistake again in this match, but you made it last time and the time before in your club matches. You must, must, must be aware of what is happening on both sides of you. You cannot play effectively unless you watch the whole field of play. Can you?”
“And when I come home, I will remind you of that fact.”
“Oh, Piet, please!”
“What is the rule, koekie?”
“That the consequence of error is punishment.”
“Are you denying the error, Phil?”
“No, sir. Just the magnitude of the punishment.”
“I have said nothing of that.”
“But you won’t be home for another week!”
“Well, that is indeed unfortunate, but it is true.”
I was nearly in tears. “A week, Piet? It’s” and I fought off the urge to say “it’s not fair!”
“You must not get yourself overwrought. Have I ever given you more than you deserved?”
“It’s not the tanning,” I said in a low voice. “It’s the wait. You know how I am about that.” I felt sick already. I know it’s stupid. I’m not afraid of any of the injuries I might pick up on the field, any one of which would be much worse than anything Piet does to me. I’m not actually afraid of the pain, although a couple of times he’s really made me howl. I don’t understand what it is, though, but knowing I’ve got a punishment lined up just gives me the complete ab-dabs.
“Well, my hart, but there is nothing we can do about that, is there?”
No, there wasn’t, but that didn’t make it any better.
When he rang the next day I was already jittery. I managed all right as long as I didn’t think about him – I had done a perfectly reasonable day’s work – but as soon as I thought about Piet, I thought that he was going to spank or cane me and I got all anyhow again. He could hear it, and spent half an hour trying to calm me down, with little success. I was in the kitchen when the phone went again.
“Listen, my hart. I hate to hear you getting yourself so upset. I have a suggestion for you. If you really cannot bear to wait for me to come home, we could perhaps improvise a little if our friends would help.”
“What? Piet, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I will give you a choice, Phil. Either wait for me to come home, or go and present my compliments to Hansie, and ask him to deal with you at once in my stead.”
I was hyperventilating. Hansie? HANSIE? Ask Hansie for a spanking? I didn’t think so. I made some faint noise of blank horror.
“Well, but that is the best I can think of. Hansie will remember my opinions on professional play. He will know how you should be treated. And he knows how things are between us, so he will not be shocked, and he loves you so he will not be unkind. But it is your choice, to wait, or not.”
“He wouldn’t do it.”
“You think not?”
“Tim wouldn’t let him.”
“Tim is a sensible young man, usually.”
“You didn’t say that when he got gossipy with his friend.”
“Phil, we do not talk about that. He made a mistake and you punished him for it. That cleared the account, yes? So let it go.”
“All right, I’m sorry. But I don’t think Hansie would agree to it.”
“If you don’t like the idea, you need not try.”
“I don’t like it. But I don’t like waiting, either. Piet? Would you… would you call Hansie and ask him? I can’t just go over there and… You call him and see what he says. I think he’ll say no.”
Another half hour of blind fear before Piet rang back.
“Hansie says that if it is necessary, he will do it. I told him you had not decided whether to wait for me or not, so he will not expect you. But if you want to go, he knows what to do. Choose for yourself, my hart.”
It took me another two hours to make a decision, and then I phoned Hansie.
“Hansie? It’s Phil. Can I – can I come over? I can’t bear this, and Piet said…”
“Come at once, Phil. I know what Piet said. I will deal with it. Come now.”
“It’s not too late for you? I’m sorry, I’ve only just realised what time it is.”
“It is not too late. Phil? Bring your toothbrush, and stop with us tonight. We’ll have a glass of wine together. Afterwards.”
“What? You do not need to call me sir, Phil.”
“If you’re substituting for Piet, I’m answerable to you the way I am to him.”
“Ach, I suppose. It sounded odd, is all. Come now. Drive carefully, hey? Don’t get so nervous you do something careless.”
In the car, it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea at all of what to expect. I didn’t know what Piet had told Hansie. It was one minor fault, so surely it didn’t warrant the cane? On the other hand, I had done it several times before, and Piet was not enthusiastic about me repeating something he had told me not to do.
Well, too bad. I was committed now. To a bloody asylum if anybody else ever got to hear of this. Why on earth had I thought that this would be the better option?
I heard him put the phone down.
“Who was that?” I said as he came back into the living room. “It’s a bit late for social calls.”
“Phil. He is coming over to stay with us tonight.”
“Tonight? Why, is he lonely?” I admit, I was a bit put out. I didn’t really want company tonight. On the other hand, I could understand that Phil might want some – Hansie went away a fortnight ago on business, just for three nights, and I nearly went spare. Funny how soon you become dependent, isn’t it?
“No. He – you know when you went out, to the Chinese takeaway?”
“Yes.” I was starting to feel the outlines of something I wasn’t sure I liked.
“Piet? But he’s in South Africa.”
“Ja. That is the problem, my liefie. Phil made a mistake in his last match, a mistake he has made before. Piet has told him he will be punished for it, but having to wait for the punishment – it makes him very worried.”
“Ha, so it should. That’s part of it. I always hated waiting for Jim to come home and deal with me when I’d done something wrong.”
“No, sweetheart, you don’t understand. With Phil – it is more than he can stand, the waiting. Piet is worried about him. It is too much punishment, more than the fault deserves.”
“So, he is coming here, and I will administer the punishment.”
“What? No way.”
“Now, Tim. . .”
I opened my mouth and shut it again. I was surprised at myself. Why did that idea upset me so much? After all, Piet had spanked me, in play, admittedly, but he had, with Phil watching too. And Phil had spanked me, very much not in play, and my arse bore the marks for a week afterwards. So why should I object to Hansie spanking Phil?
“I’m sorry, Hansie. I can’t tell you why that makes me uncomfortable, but it does.”
“Ja, I see it. But our friend is on his way, expecting our help. What shall I tell him when he gets here?”
“Tell him, tell him. . .” oh fuck. Expecting our help. Low blow, Hansie. How could I turn round and throw Phil to the demons of his own imagination, when Piet was so ready to help my lover? And yes, me. I remembered what he had said to me, in the garden of the villa, in the moonlit night full of cricket song and the heavy seductive scent of lemon blossom. ‘Does Tim remember that Piet and Phil love him too?’ And I felt – well, yes, I did feel love for them, because that one word encompasses so many different things. So how could I deny Phil what he needed?
“All right, I’m being stupid. Tell him that you’ll help him however you can. I’ll go for a drive.”
“Sweetheart, I did not mean to send you out of your own house. . .”
“I really don’t think Phil’s going to want me around while this happens. And he was polite enough to keep out of the way when you were getting it from Piet, as I recall. But it’s too cold and wet to wait in the garden. I’ll drive up to the all-night Tesco and get some milk and extra cereal for the morning, that ought to give you enough time.”
It was at that point the doorbell rang. A pale and worried looking Phil stood there.
I smiled and gave him a hug. He returned it with surprising strength. Needily.
“Hey, kid. I’m just off to get some milk from Tesco. Hansie is in there. I’ll see you later.”
“Wait, Tim, you don’t have to get out on my account.”
I patted him on the shoulder.
“Don’t be silly,” I said. “We need the milk. You always put gallons on your cereal.”
He smiled wanly. “Thank you.”
“Hey, what are old friends for? Go on, go through. I’ll catch you later.”
If he were not such a large young man, I would say almost that Phil sidled into the living room. Looking very sheepish and rather worried. I cannot think why anyone who has suffered under Viper should look that worried about me.
But of course, I understood well that the cause of his worry was mostly in his head. And Here God, I of all people knew about the whips in people’s heads. Better to get this all done, before he made himself ill with it.
“Come in, Phil. So, we both understand why you are here, ja?”
“Good. That lineout was a mess, a complete whorehouse.”
“Not whorehouse. Not as a – um, description, in English.”
“OK. But you understand me?”
“Oh yes. Piet has already pointed out the deficiencies. I didn’t keep my awareness of play.”
“No, and you didn’t keep the ball, either.”
“So. What do you think you deserve?”
He looked – well, anguished. My heart went out to him. Sometimes you forgot how very young he was. When he bit his lip it left toothmarks.
“I don’t know,” he whispered. “Enough to teach me not to do it again.”
“Ja. I think, if Piet had been here, that he would have used the cane.”
He nodded mutely, resigned.
“But I think he would not do so now. You have already punished yourself over this waiting, quite severely.”
“But. . .”
“The punishment must be just and proportional, Phil. Whatever he did to me – does to me – I know that Piet never gives more than is deserved. I cannot offer you a lower standard than that. So not the cane. On the other hand, you have let a weakness in your game go unchecked even when you had been warned about it, and so a spanking is not enough.”
His head sprang up, fresh worry written on his face.
“Go up the stairs to the small bedroom, Phil, and bring me what you will find lying on the bed.”
He sped out of the room as if the devil was behind him, and stumbled up the stairs, and into the back bedroom. There was a pause of several minutes before he returned and held the thing out to me, gingerly, like a man holding a venomous snake.
“I –Hansie, I’ve never had the strap before,” he said.
I shrugged, ran the soft, heavy leather through my hands from wooden handle to rounded tip. “There is always a first time, hey?” In his absence I had pulled the sofa around so that the back of it was facing the door. “Please remove your trousers, Phil.”
He swallowed, kicked his trainers off, and then undid his trousers and stepped out of them. Legs like young tree trunks, knotted with muscle.
“So. Now stand against the back of the sofa, please. Yes, like so. Good.” I came close behind him, put a hand on his shoulder, felt him flinch. “Soon over, my friend. Let us finish this business, ja?” I leaned down, pulled his boxers to his knees, and bent him over the back of the sofa. His height meant that his backside rested right on the top of the cushions; most of his weight was on the far side and he would not easily be able to get up. His T-shirt rode up, exposing his lower back.
I admired the view for a moment. A young athlete at the peak of his fitness, every muscle defined and taut. Then I took the strap and laid it gently across that fine muscular backside.
“Twelve strokes, Phil. You will count them, ja?”
“Yes, sir,” came the muffled reply from the sofa cushions.
“Good. So, we begin.”
It is a heavy strap. Used from above in this way, gravity does most of the work. It is not necessary to add much momentum from the arm, unless the most severe punishment is called for, just enough force to ensure that it lands where one wishes. I have not used it full force with Tim and I had no intention of doing so with Phil.
I brought it down, saw the red mark blossom, heard the hiss of breath and then the mumbled ‘One, sir’. Again, a little higher. ‘Two, sir’. Higher again then, across the very top of the buttocks, careful not to strike the vulnerable back. The breath whistled out of him with that one, for sure, a slight tremble in the voice on ‘three, sir’. And now lower, across the base of the cheeks and the upper thighs. ‘Ow, four, sir’. The tip of the strap had wrapped a little on that one, leaving a dark, half-moon mark on the side of the thigh. I adjusted my stance a little for five and six to prevent that, aiming the tip for the middle of the right cheek as one would with a cane.
Halfway through. Now it was necessary to strike a little harder, to ensure that the lesson was driven home. Seven and eight painted what was already red a deeper crimson. He was grunting and shifting now with the blows, and the muscles in his legs were locked solid, everything clenched. I slapped the back of his thigh just hard enough to sting. “Relax those muscles, Phil.” He made an effort but I could see it was an effort. “Just four more, my friend. Just four more.”
These would be the hardest. And nine! And ten! And eleven! A muffled squeal on that one, and a choked ‘eleven, sir’ after a long pause. I brought my arm up, let the strap fall with lazy precision.
And it was done. I lay the strap over the sofa, reached down to rub his back.
“There now, boet, it’s all done. Come now, Phil, get up.” And I helped him up, and took him in my arms for a long hug. His eyes were red, though dry, but his lip was bruised and badly swollen – he must have been biting it hard to keep from crying out. I remember doing such things as a boy – my whole mouth full of blood, once, because I had bitten right through the inner part of my lip. Curiously, when my father saw it, I got even a sort of grudging respect. It was the manly thing to do, you see, harm yourself to keep from crying out. I felt almost like crying myself when I saw Phil so.
“Ach. Phil, sweet heart, see what you have done to yourself,” I said, touching the abused lip gently.
“It’s nothing, really. Just – thank you. Thank you, Hansie.”
“Foolish. It is done, now, lesson learned I hope.”
He smiled, a bit waterily. “I hope so too. That’s a vicious bitch, that strap. Don’t show it to Piet – I’d rather he didn’t get ideas.”
I grinned. “And what are you going to do when he asks how you were punished, then?”
That had obviously not occurred to him, because he paused in the act of pulling up his underwear – cautiously, I noted – and shook his head ruefully.
“Variety is the spice of life. It will make a change for you.”
“I’d rather have mine unsalted, thanks all the same. Has Tim felt that thing?”
“Of course. How do you think I learned to aim with it?”
He shook his head. “I can’t really imagine – play – with something that severe. I mean, yes, I suppose a spanking, but. . .”
“And would you ever have thought a spanking was play, once?”
He thought about that for a moment. A twinkle came into his eyes that made him look for a moment like a naughty schoolboy.
“Oh God, you mean I’m on the road to becoming a full blown pervert like you and Tim?”
“Cheeky boy, I see the strap was not enough for you.” I reached down and slapped his still very warm, even through shorts, backside. “Shall I have to spank you as well?”
“Ouch! No, I’ll be good.”
“So, put on your trousers, and I will pour you some wine. And I hear the car, I think, so Tim has timed his return well. Some people will do anything for a drink.”
Click on Idris the Dragon to go back
All material © , 2005