one for the panto season, or perhaps the pant season, and for a certain person who knows who she is...


Once upon a time, and implausibly far away, there was an old and malicious Woodgnome. He had not always been a Woodgnome, but he had almost always been old. Well, he had almost always been, so he sort of became old by default, and defaults he had were many. And one day, for no very good reason, he found himself feeling low.

Surely from what you say he was low, already?

Well, yes, he was. Low and cunning. What I mean is he was blue.

Blue? You mean he was coloured like a delphinium?

Well, no, more a sort of range of shades between pink and very dark brown, as are those people who are called 'white'. And those people who are called 'black'. So let's forget the colours. He was depressed.


He was down...


Look, will you stop interrupting? Who are you anyway?

I am a postmodern interjection, designed for an artful distancing effect, and for adding some critical rigour to this rather rambling and ill-structured tale.

Well, bugger off. This is a private story.

I have tickets. For which I paid, I might add, a truly outrageous sum.

Then keep quiet, or you won't get your money's worth. As I was saying, he was lacking in good cheer, and in order to improve his spirits, which were sadly lacking because he had drunk the last of them, he decided to go about the world making mischief by giving people what they asked for. That he could even contemplate such an unkind act, let alone hope to derive amusement from it, shows you what a truly wicked Woodgnome he was.

In one small town he found a vigorous young man, son of a local politician. The local girls were unwilling to go out with him since it was whispered that one of them had found that he thought her 'no' really meant 'yes', and had taken her at her word despite her struggles. Now, bored and lustful, he idly wished to meet the girl of his dreams, and the Woodgnome arranged it. Sadly the young man had neglected to specify what kind of dreams, and the young lady with the flayed skin and tentacles that had once woken him screaming from restless sleep after an evening of watching horror films and drinking vodka was truly delighted to meet her admirer. It had been ages since her last snack.

A little further on he struck dumb the wife whose husband wished she would just shut up (this meant that she lost her job as a lecturer, meaning that the mortgage could no longer be paid and they had to move into a dreary hostel; but she met a very nice doctor while undergoing medical tests for her lost voice, and moved in to his rather nice house a few months later, so in the end it didn't work out so badly for her).

An old miser the Woodgnome came across in his travels was heard to wish that he could be the wealthiest man in the county. When a band of mercenaries looted the area, moved by inexplicable whim and the Woodgnome's grammarye they left him with his life and a few coppers, which was more than anyone else around had, so he got his wish too.

But while all this was very entertaining, the Woodgnome was still a little out of sorts. However, as he drifted across an implausibly picturesque range of mountains with Christmas card snow he came across a small and well kept village in which there dwelled an old wood carver named Gayghetto who wished more than anything that he had a boy.

I beg your pardon? Isn't that illegal, even in these parts?

A son. Honestly, your mind. He wanted a son. As he wasn't married, had never been married, wasn't much interested in women (or boys either, before you start. His heart, or possibly some other part of his anatomy, had been broken by a handsome soldier when he was young, and he had a fetish for older men in uniform, which seeing he was now in his sixties rather limited his choices to Chelsea Pensioners and patrons of some of the seedier sorts of leather bar) – as I say, given these facts, the likelihood of his acquiring a son by any of the normal means were scanty, and he was too poor to go to America and rent a womb. Indeed, he was so poor that he had trouble paying the rent for his little chalet to Malevolo, the local property magnate and loan shark.

Nonetheless he wished for a son, and the Woodgnome, recognising an opportunity for mischief when he saw one, began to do his evil work. The very next day one of the foresters brought in a particularly fine log of chestnut, or perhaps it was sapient, or at least sappy, pear wood, and the old wood carver, moved by something he could hardly express, began to carve it into the shape of a young man. It was, as these things go, a minor masterpiece. All his longing for a son and heir was expressed in the fineness and accuracy of its form until you would almost have said that barring the odd bit of woodworm it was entirely lifelike. Well, a bit lifelike. Well, OK, not very lifelike at all. He wasn't a very talented wood carver.

How appropriate.

What does that mean?

Nothing, nothing at all.

Sarcastic know-it-all. Anyway, once he had finished it Gayghetto looked at it and sighed. Then he blinked once or twice at the light fittings, because despite the fact that the electricity had been cut off for persistent non-payment of the bills, a pale glow began to illuminate the cottage.

“Gayghetto, Gayghetto,” came a soft, crow-like voice.

“Damn, is this like one of those Candid Camera things or something?”

“No, you silly old fool, it's all reality TV these days. I am the Blue Fairy,” said the Woodgnome. Yes, all right, we've been through the colour thing. Depressed Fairy didn't seem to have the right ring to it, OK? “I have heard how you longed for a son of your own, and I have decided to help you. Behold!”

With a mysterious gesture, and a lot of incomprehensible words (actually, that bit was more or less the same as his normal behaviour, but normally his gibberish was associated with consumption of a considerable amount of wine, and was not accompanied by faint but definite wisps of smoke from the ears: it was a difficult spell) the gnome made a great Magic. And the wooden boy stretched, yawned, and got up from the workbench, naked as the day he was carved.

“I notice that the carving is anatomically accurate,” said the Woodgnome with interest. “Although possibly a little out of proportion.”

“My memory isn't what it was,” admitted Gayghetto. “And I didn't have a mirror,” he added mournfully, looking down to where the generous rounding of his midriff blocked any direct view of matters below the waist. He brightened up, however, and threw his arms around the wooden boy. “My son! Come to my arms.”

“Leave it out,” said the wooden boy crudely. “You're old enough to be my grandad. I’m starving, is there anything to eat around this dump? Can I borrow the car keys? How about upping my allowance?”

“Entirely lifelike,” marvelled the Woodgnome. “Hot damn, but I'm good.”

“But Pinouchio...”

“Pinouchio? I'm not being called that!” exclaimed the youth. “I was thinking more of something along the lines of Clint Thug, or Stud Hung.”

“What sort of name is that for a boy? No, Pinouchio you shall be. It's an old family name.”

“Geez, no wonder the family has died out. Dad, I ain't staying here to be called ridiculous names, I'm off to seek my fortune and make a man of myself. See ya!” And he set off out of the door at a great rate, leaving poor Gayghetto devastated, and wishing he had carved a nice sideboard instead. The wicked Woodgnome smiled to himself, and set off in pursuit of Pinouchio, to see what further mischief he could make.

I suppose this is some sort of crude rendition of the picaresque, or a classic quest theme.

I suppose this is a large strap.

It is large, isn't it? It looks very heavy.

It is very heavy. I borrowed it from a character I know who isn't using it at the moment.


Well, he'll never know, provided I return it in time. And provided I haven't worn it out on you.

What? Are you offering me violence?

Offering – isn't exactly the verb I'd choose. Threatening, now, that's a good verb. As are beating, strapping, and thrashing. All good sound verbs, for a good sound action.


As in 'not a'. Do I make myself clear?

Crystalline. Eep! Mmf mnt mmng mmy mrh. Honest.

Fine.  Now Pinouchio had not gone very far down the road when he met with a Fox and Wolf. The wolf whistled.

“Hey Foxy, get a load of this cutie.”

“Mm, veeery fit! Have you ever thought of modelling, young man?”


“Yes, a handsome young man like you could make a lot of money as a model. A lot of money, for very little effort.”

“Where do I sign?”

“Good chap. Here, here, and here where it says 'I understand that all moneys shall be payable net of my agent Mr Fox's fees'. Young fellow, you and I - “

“And me,” said the Wolf, in a slightly threatening and dubiously grammatical manner.

“And our good friend and partner Mr Wolf, of course,” added the Fox without missing a beat, “are going to go places.”

“Wicked. What sort of places?”

“Paris, San Francisco, Sydney – but in the first instance, Foolstown.”

“That's a good place for this modelling, is it?”

“Oh, for someone like you, just launching their career, absolutely the best. Come along. Would you mind just carrying these bags for me, only I have a bad back. Thank you so much. Oh and Mr Wolf's valise, if you wouldn't mind. What an obliging young man you are, I can tell that you are going to go far in this industry.”

And they set off down the road, the Fox skipping lightly along, the Wolf prowling menacingly by  his side, and Pinouchio labouring along in the rear, weighed down by luggage. Invisible, the wicked Woodgnome strolled in his wake, occasionally pressing down on a bag to make it particularly heavy and awkward, and laughing like a drain.

Eventually, however, they reached an inn, where rooms and an excellent meal were bespoken. The Fox and the Wolf spent the evening regaling Pinouchio with all the wonders that his career would surely bring him, and the stellar successes of their previous clients (none of whom, of course, he had ever heard of), and filling his glass with strong ale until his head spun.

In the morning Pinouchio awoke in a strange and uncomfortable bed, feeling as if that same head was a block of wood, and his tongue had been sandpapered and varnished. However, as this was in fact the case it was neither surprising nor unusual that he should feel so. He made his way cautiously downstairs to be confronted by the innkeeper.

“Your friends have gone on – they left this address for you,” said the innkeeper politely, handing over a scrap of paper.

“Uh right, thanks,” said Pinouchio, heading for the door.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” said the innkeeper, a tad less politely.

“No, I didn’t have any luggage,” said Pinouchio.

“The bill.”

“But. . .”

“Your friends told me that they had left all the money with you, and you would be paying the bill,” said the innkeeper, now sounding distinctly testy. He was really a rather large innkeeper, the mannequin noted.

Going pinker by the minute, Pinouchio fumbled in his pockets to discover only some sawdust and a few dead leaves.

“I – er. . .”

“You haven’t got it, have you? Right, I’m calling the police. We know how to deal with fraudsters in this town, my lad, it will be the birch for you.”

Pinouchio had no idea what this meant but it suggested some sort of family reunion, which he thought couldn’t be all bad. The wicked Woodgnome, however, had other ideas. He could be distinctly feline at times, and the prospect of small things trying to evade the inevitable was always pleasurable.

“Run,” he suggested in Pinouchio’s ear.

“Who said that?”

“No-one said anything,” said the surprised innkeeper.

“I did,” said the Woodgnome, taking the form of a small cricket and appearing on Pinouchio’s shoulder.

“Who are you?”

“I’m the innkeeper you’ve just tried to stiff,” said that worthy, puzzled, since he was far too sensible and solid to be able to conceive of such things as Woodgnomes. Fortunately most people are, otherwise we should be plagued with them, a prospect that doesn’t bear thinking about.

“Not you,” said the boy. “Him.”

“I’m – er, your conscience,” said the sprite. “Yes, your conscience. You need to listen to what I say, and do it.”

“Why?” asked Pinouchio, not unreasonably.

“Because bad things will happen to you if you don’t,” returned the Woodgnome. The fact that worse things were likely to be incurred if the young man did follow his advice he wisely left unsaid.

Prompted thus, Pinouchio made a break for the door, and up the main street. After a moment’s shocked surprise the innkeeper, who was rather more athletic than the average, having taken up innkeeping on his retirement from international rugby, set off in pursuit. Well, you didn’t think you were going to get a story round here without a rugby player in it, did you?

“He’s gaining on you,” noted the Woodgnome from his perch on Pinouchio’s shoulder. “If you can go any faster, I should think that would be a good idea.”

Pinouchio was too breathless to be able to reply to this as it probably deserved.

“Go left here,” advised the gnome as they reached a junction.

“Bu –hut, it, ah, says, hah, dead, eh-hend,” puffed Pinouchio.

“Does it? Dear me, I never noticed. Oh well, you can’t win them all.”

“He’s going to catch me! He’s going to smash me to matchsticks!”

“Quite possibly. Ooh, what about this door here?”

“There’s no – oh, there is. Where did that come from, I’m sure it wasn’t there before.”

“Quick, in!” Pinouchio dodged through the door marked ‘Rear Entry – Artistes Only’ just as the innkeeper came around the corner, and slammed it behind him. Then he looked around in surprise. A small fussy man in a flouncy shirt and trousers far too tight for him was sitting with his head in his hands, weeping.

“What’s the matter?” asked Pinouchio, who was a good-hearted boy, solid whatever it was. Pear, let's stick with pear. Anyway, it was sound, not a flaw or knot.

“It’s a disaster. We came here because everyone said it was so much cheaper than at home, the boys would perform for peanuts. Well they will, and that’s because they look like monkeys.” He broke off to stare. “Who are you, anyway? If you’ve come for the auditions you’re too late. Mr Packer has sent all the candidates off in disgust.”

“Audition? Audition for what?”

“For a part in. . .” he stared at Pinouchio thoughtfully. “Hmm, I wonder. Yes, you might do. You just might. But you can’t audition dressed.”

“Do you mean I can’t audition dressed like this?”

“No, I mean you can’t audition dressed. Here, I’ll give you a hand.”

“Hey, get off.”

“Hoity toity. You’ll have to get used to having an undresser if you’re going to work in this business, sweetie. Come along, Mr Packer doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

“Packer?” Deciding to go with the flow, Pinouchio began taking off his shirt.

“Are you going to repeat everything I say to you? Is this some sort of medical condition? Look, if you want a small part – oh, I say.” This as Pinouchio reluctantly removed his trousers. “Well, perhaps a larger part.”

Blushing, and clad only in his underpants, Pinouchio followed the small fussy man down the corridor.

“Now remember, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get cast. Not everyone can be, even if they have natural assets like yours. Fudd G Packer is the top director in the field, he can afford to pick and choose, so it will depend if you can shine on camera and impress him with your acting ability.”

“You mean I might be in films?” Pinouchio’s eyes widened as understanding belatedly dawned.

“Of course, isn’t that why you came here? For a part in the new Erotic Tails film, ‘Donkey Richard’?”

“’Donkey Richard’? What sort of name is that for a film?”

“A working one. It will probably be shorter once we come to release – they generally are.”

Good grief, that’s a rather vulgar innuendo, isn’t it?

Is it? Oh. Anyway, I thought you were keeping your mouth shut.

Shut tight as a vestal’s – damn, now you’ve got me doing it. The Critics Union will blackball –will want nothing to do with me.

Nor do I. May we get back to the story? Thank you.

“Now do come on.” The fussy little man led Pinouchio into a room with a couch and a chair, in the latter of which a portly middle-aged gentleman was sitting and talking to a thin, lugubrious individual standing behind a large camera.

“What’s this, Bernard?” He pronounced it with the accent on the last syllable. “I thought we’d seen the last of them for today, and a total washout they were, too.”

“A late entry, Mr Packer. One I really think you should consider.”

Packer and the cameraman looked Pinouchio up and down. Then the director rose, ran a  hand appraisingly over Pinouchio’s abdomen and patted his bottom.

“Hey, nice abs and glutes, hard as wood. That must be some workout regime you have going there, kid – say, what do they call you anyway?”

“Pin- er, that is Clint. Clint Thug.”

Packer laughed. “I don’t think so,” he said. “No, no, that sort of name will never do for a twink like you. Gotta be something cutesy ending in –y. Lemme see, Mikey, Spikey, Timmy, Jimmy, Richy, Twitchy, Switchy, Mitchy. . . Yah, I like Mitchy. Mitchy Qute. How about that?”

“I don’t know. . .”

“I wasn’t asking you, kid, I was asking Bernard.”

“I don’t believe there are any other artistes using that one at the moment, Mr Packer.”

“Mitchy Qute it is. Pleased to meet ya, Mitchy. Drop ‘em.”

Pinouchio goggled at him.

“Take your knickers off,” hissed Bernard behind him.

Pinouchio obeyed, and had the satisfaction of seeing both Packer and the cameraman give a double take.

“You got potential, Mitchy, I’ll give you that. But can you give me wood on demand?”

“I’m all wood, Mr Packer,” said Pinouchio, accurately enough.

The director laughed. “That’s the spirit. So prove it.”

The mannequin looked confused. “Excuse me a moment, Mr Packer, let me have a talk to him,” said Bernard. “First time nerves I expect.” He drew Pinouchio to one side.

“Look, can you get wood in public or not? Not everyone can.”

“I don’t understand what you mean,” said Pinouchio. “What sort of wood?”

“A – oh hell, what do you call it here? A stiffy? A hard-on?” He gestured in the general direction of Pinouchio’s groin. The mannequin blushed rosewood, all over. Bernard eyed him appraisingly.

“Look, you do know what to do with it, don’t you? I mean, you’re experienced?”

Pinouchio went from rosewood to mahogany. “Of course,” he mumbled, in the general direction of his feet. And as he did so. . .

“Wow! Now that is impressive,” said Packer.

“It’s a little less than my average, must be the cold,” lied Pinouchio, trying to seem blasé.

“My God, it just got even bigger,” said Packer. “Geez, for a little guy you are hung out of sight. Gentlemen, if the camera takes to young Mitchy here the way I have, then I think we’ve found our Donkey. Call in Buster Butt and the other tops and we'll try running through a scene.”

There was a sudden crash, and the door flew open. In burst the innkeeper, scarlet with rage.

“There you are, you little bastard,” he cried. “Never mind the police, I’ll deal with you myself.” And leaping on poor Pinouchio, he grabbed him in a painful armlock, dragged him over to the bed, and pulled the naked youth across his lap. His large spatulate hand slammed down on Pinouchio’s quivering and beautifully curved cheeks.

Sadly, even the hand of a former rugby international cannot make that much impression on wood. And although the Woodgnome’s magic ensured that Pinouchio felt every blow as soundly as if he had been flesh and blood, the innkeeper’s hand felt it too.

“Damn, this boy’s arse is tough. Anyone got an implement?”

“This is fantastic,” said Packer, “Greg, are you getting all this on camera? We were going to have a spanking scene anyway, and this is hot! Here, guy, whatever your name is, take this paddle.” He handed the innkeeper a stout leather paddle with one side garnished with flat metal studs. “Carry on, carry on. Make that little tush of his glow!”

Nothing loath, the innkeeper proceeded to belabour Pinouchio, first with the leather side, then with the studded side, while keeping the unfortunate youth pinned despite his ever more desperate struggles.

“I didn’t do anything,” he pleaded. However, since this was, objectively, untrue, it only had the effect of further growing that part of his anatomy that responded to lies. The innkeeper looked slightly startled, and then grinned. “That’s how it is, huh?” he said. “I always thought boys who enjoyed getting spanked were just something written about on dubious internet porn sites by the sort of people my mother warned me about and I could never seem to meet. Well, you’re going to have a really enjoyable time today, boy. You had the slap-up meal, and the soft bed – now you get the slaps, and you'll be sleeping on your stomach for a week, no matter how soft the bed, if I have anything to do with it. Anyone got a hairbrush? Or a thick belt?”

“Look, I’m really sorry, kid,” said Packer. “I’d have loved to have made a star of you. You got the looks, you got the most wooden acting I’ve seen in years in this business, and I’ve worked with all the stars. But if the tops won’t – well, you saw how they reacted.”

“It wasn’t my fault Mr Butt got a splinter in his – down there,” muttered Pinouchio sullenly.

“Maybe not, but the guys don’t want to take the risk, and neither do I. Those are their prime assets, and frankly my insurance premiums will go through the roof if any more of them get a potentially career-ending injury like that. So I gotta let you go.”

Pinouchio slumped as only a teenager can slump. However, as has been remarked, the wood from which he was carved was extremely sound, and he had to acknowledge the justice of the argument.

“I suppose so,” he said glumly.  “I just wanted to make a success of myself so I could show my dad I could achieve something on my own.” Thinking of Gayghetto and the snug little cottage in the mountains made him feel nostalgic. The old man would be there now, in the cottage, cottaging – er, that is, carving, and probably weeping a little as he wondered what had happened to his wonderful son. The thought was so moving that he shed a tear of his own.

Packer, who had had a difficult relationship with his own father until he had acquired enough money to buy the medical opinion he needed and get the old man locked up in a suitably grim old people's home, was moved despite himself. Like many ruthless individuals, he had a streak of sentimentality.

“Listen, kid, to show you there’s no hard feelings, Bernard will cut you a juicy cheque for today’s work – say five hundred?”

As Bernard handed him the piece of paper, Pinouchio perked up a little. Despite the fact that his bottom was still throbbing, that sounded like quite a healthy profit on the day. However, no sooner had he stepped outside the door than the Fox and the Wolf, attracted to the scent of money like sharks to blood, appeared and plucked the cheque from his hand.

“Your first earnings in the business! Well done, kid. Now let me see, once I deduct my expenses, and Mr Wolf's fee...”

“But he hasn't done anything,” expostulated Pinouchio (which was ingenious of him, since he could neither spell expostulated nor give its dictionary meaning).

“Security,” said the Wolf, laconically. “Lot of dangerous types round here. A boy could get hurt, if I wasn't on his side.” He cracked his knuckles and looked hard at Pinouchio. It wasn't a Look, but seemed to carry a similar hint of danger, and it made the marionette feel distinctly uneasy.

“Exactly. You don't know how lucky you are to have met us, young Pinouchio – you might have ended up  falling into bad company.”

“But my cheque?” He snatched at it, only to have the Fox hold it up, out of his reach.

“Uh, uh, uh, you signed an agreement, remember? Our fees to be deducted first from your earnings.”

“I got that job myself. You weren't even around! Give it back! It's mine.”

“It ain't,” growled the Wolf.

“No, it's mine,” said a new voice, as a ham sized hand grabbed the cheque from the Fox's paw. The Wolf looked around, decided that personal security came before job security, and made himself scarce.


“You owe me for 1 night's accommodation for one in an economy single and for two in the honeymoon suite  – by the way, my laundress is most unhappy about whatever it was you got on the sheets, it's very difficult to get off apparently – and for 3 dinners, champagne room service for 2 to said honeymoon suite, and 2 breakfasts. This will cover it nicely,” said the innkeeper in a satisfied tone.

“Ah, you see, the boy was supposed to, er...”

“Oh, he's already made a small downpayment, haven't you?” said the innkeeper to Pinouchio, who clutched at his bottom in horror at the possibility that there might be more to pay. “But you, on the other hand...”

“Um, got to go, urgent appointment, suddenly remembered, catch you later, byeee,” said the Fox.

“Now, you run in the opposite direction,” advised the Woodgnome, materialising on Pinouchio's shoulder, secure in the knowledge that the innkeeper couldn’t see him.

“Hey, you got a cockroach or something on you,” said the big man, flicking the unfortunate gnome off with a sausage sized finger. 

Ham hands, sausage fingers. Is it lunchtime or something? Or was he just a bit of a porker?

Do really want to pursue the pork thing, given what you said earlier about innuendo and the Critics' Union?

Er, now that you mention it, consider it unsaid.

Good. And I still have that strap, you know.

Not a word, honest. Mumm.

Ooh, champagne, what a good idea. Although I prefer Taittinger. Where was I? Oh yes, he knocked the wicked Woodgnome for six, a thing many would have enjoyed seeing, although not as much as they would have enjoyed seeing the Woodgnome get six.

The innkeeper Looked at Pinouchio. It was a proper Look, putting the Wolf's effort quite into the shade, and Pinouchio lowered his head and blushed prettily enough to quite charm the big man.

“Mm sorry,” mumbled the wooden youth. “Keep the money.”

“Nah, I don't think it was entirely your fault. And you paid for it. Here, take your cheque.”

The youth looked up in surprise, then grabbed the money before the innkeeper decided to change his mind.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“I'll...” Pinouchio paused. He wasn't really sure. To be honest, although the idea of having money seemed great, he was unclear about what exactly one did with it. And whatever one did with it, he had a feeling that it would be a lot more comfortable to be doing it from one's own room in one's own home, with somebody else doing one's washing, ironing, cooking, and cleaning.

“I want to go home,” he said quietly. “I'll go home, and give the money to my dad.”

The innkeeper went rather pink and examined his great big hands as if they had suddenly become of overwhelming interest. He cleared his throat.

“I was just wondering, um, perhaps someone should come with you, to make sure you get there all right?”

“Damn,” groaned the dazed Woodgnome, from somewhere on the floor. “He’s temporarily insane, or in love as the mortals call it. No wonder he could see me.”

Pinouchio looked at the big – the very big, the very well muscled and fit, really remarkably fit and one might even say, hot – man.

“That would be, er, cool,” he said. Tentatively, he put out a hand. As the innkeeper took it he suddenly squealed.

“What? I haven’t done anything to you. Yet.”

“No, feel! Feel!” The older man took this invitation up with alacrity. “Mm,” he said, “and you feel good.”

“You don’t understand. I’m flesh and blood! I’m a man at last!”

The innkeeper grinned at him. “Oh no,” he said softly. “You’re a Bottom. And you’re mine.”

Two days, a broken bed, and a great deal of gossip later, the innkeeper and Pinouchio set out arm in arm for the mountains. Because the nights were cold, they were obliged to huddle together a great deal for warmth, of which they generated a surprising amount. It was a long and wearying journey, but at last, despite every detour they could think of, they arrived in Pinouchio's native village completely and literally shagged out.

“I'd better go in first and speak to Dad,” said the youth. Leaving his lover outside, he opened the door and went in.

There was a moment of stillness, and then Pinouchio screamed.

The innkeeper burst through the door.

“What is it?”

“My father!” cried Pinouchio in a trembling voice. “He's being swallowed by an enormous shark!”

And sure enough, clad in a rather fetching hussar's blouson and shako and not much else, Malevolo the loan shark was kneeling between Gayghetto's legs and, er -


Attending to his needs.

Oh come. This is the 21st century. You can be explicit, you know.

It may be the 21st century, but we have good taste here in Otherwhen.

Good ta...? – ahahahaha! Very funny. Yes, I see what you're doing there. Irony. Very appropriate. No, don't... not the strap! Not the strap! Owooch! Ow! OW!

“Oh Dad,” said Pinouchio. “Don’t tell me you’re behind on the rent again.”

“Um, actually, son. . .”

“Your father and I have something to tell you,” said Malevolo, not a whit put out by an audience, and eying the innkeeper appreciatively. “We’ve decided to go to Amsterdam, get married, and set up a small business.”

“Business, what business?”

“Hand-carved wooden sex toys.” said Gayghetto proudly. “Mal here thinks my designs could really be a big success, especially if we sell over the Net too.”

“I suppose you don’t do paddles as well?” asked the innkeeper with some interest.

“Indeed I do, young man. Here, this is one of our most popular designs, the Spanking Plank. Good and solid, with properly chamfered corners, and a nice, smoothly lacquered finish for a good stinging contact. Or this longer one is the Licking Lath, or there’s the Heinous Heartwood novelty paddle that embosses these little heart shapes all over the recipient’s bottom. . .”

“I’ll take one,” said the innkeeper with a wicked smile that made Pinouchio go all funny inside.

“I’ve got something to tell you, too, Dad,” said Pinouchio. “This is Brutus. He’s the man who made a Bottom of me. He and I are in love, and we’re going to be happy ever after. So he tells me, and he must be right because he’s my Top.”

“Welcome to the family, my boy,” said Gayghetto, delighted. “We should have a double wedding, and the two of you could have the cottage as a wedding present – we won’t be needing it, will we Mal?”

“A present? Can’t we even charge them a paprika rent?” (That’s like a peppercorn rent, with an appropriately Mittel-European twist.)

“No, we can’t,” said Gayghetto firmly. “I’ve told you you need to save your financial acumen for the punters.”

“You’re the daddy,” said Malevolo meekly.

And so it came to pass that Brutus and Pinouchio set up a small guesthouse in Gayghetto’s old cottage, catering to Tops and Bottoms of refined tastes who liked the idea of holidays that combined spankings and scenery. The wicked Woodgnome was a little miffed by this happy ending, but not that annoyed, since judging by Pinouchio’s reaction to the marks left by the (regularly employed) paddle, being flesh and blood was not entirely the desirable thing the young man had imagined.

And after all, as the Gnome later said to a friend (yes, even wicked Woodgnomes have friends), it was a Fairy Tale, and subject to the laws of Fairy Tale Narrative, happy endings and all. And you can’t beat Narrative, though it does like being roughed up a little. That’s why it hangs around with us in the first place.


Idris the Dragon

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© , 2009