Caught Stealing

A girl is tempted by what she finds on her Physics teacher’s desk

By Tara Patterson

Katie England felt well and truly fed up. Two weeks into the spring term of 1986, she had already had enough. The school bell rang; she miserably dragged herself out of bed and reluctantly put on her uniform. As she pulled on her navy blue knee socks she looked with envy at the other sixth form girls in her room as they rolled black stockings up their legs.

“It looks like another cold one,” teased her roommate, Rebecca Staffe. “Just the weather for stockings don’t you think girls? I wouldn’t want to be wearing knee socks on a day like today, and with it being Saturday who’s coming into town this afternoon? Oh sorry, Katie can’t, she’s grounded again.”

“Don’t you start, Bex,” snapped Katie. “Sailor Taylor pulled me in for a uniform inspection yesterday, caught me wearing tights, so it’s another term of socks like a blooming sprog, and she confiscated my fags too! I suppose you wouldn’t get me some when you go out, would you?”

“Not on your life, mate. I’m having no more to do with smoking this year. Surely after that whacking Miss Hapwood gave us last term, you shouldn’t either. It’s just not worth the risk anymore.”

*         *          *

Several hours later, the girls were sitting through another unbearable double lesson of Physics. As soon as Mr Everest had set the class to work, he disappeared through the swinging door out of the lab into his office next door.

“Harry’s gone for a quick burn,” whispered Lianne Sidney to the girls on her bench.

Katie frowned. “Lucky sod! I’m gasping for a fag, and I’ve got no chance of getting any since I’m grounded, confined to school for the next month.”

“Try this,” said Lianne as she handed Katie a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum. “My Mum swears by it. She said chewing helped her give up.”

Katie unwrapped the gum and discreetly began to chew. Suddenly the office door swung open again. Mr Everest swept in and began to walk around the lab to check on the progress of the work. From where she was sitting, Rebecca caught a glimpse of her teacher’s ashtray on his office desk; a lit cigarette sat smoking on the edge and next to it a pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

The old Physics Master made his way around the class until he stood behind Katie, reading through her work over her shoulder. He stood so close she could smell the smoke on his breath.

“Stay behind after the lesson, England. You know how much I despise chewing in my lesson. I’ve got a real canny job for you,” said Mr Everest in his Geordie accent.

Finally the bell rang to mark the end of the lesson and the end of the week. The room was soon empty. Katie sat on her stool and waited. She stared out of the second floor window. Below her on the sports field, she watched the sixth form rugby team warming up for their match. After a short wait, Mr Everest came back into the room carrying a flat bladed paint scraper and a small dustbin. Katie guessed what was coming.

“I want all the gum scraping off from under this bench. It’s disgusting under there,” ordered Mr Everest. “That will teach you not to chew in my lesson. You chewers make such a mess when you stick it underneath. I’ll be back shortly to see how you are getting on.”

With that, he handed Katie the scraper and left the room. Katie muttered to herself as she sat down on the floor under the lab bench. She recoiled from the sight of all the bits of chewing gum stuck to the underside. As she began to scrape, the craving for a cigarette grew and grew. Katie tried to ignore it at first but soon it was all she could think of. Then she remembered the packet on her teacher’s office desk.

Soon the temptation was too much. Katie stood up and quietly moved to the office door next to the blackboard. She listened and heard nothing. Katie gently pushed the bottom of the door with her foot. It moved freely, the door slowly opened, the office was empty. Still sitting on the desk was the open cigarette packet.

Before she knew it Katie was inside the office. She picked up the packet and put it in her pocket. She turned to make her escape and looked straight into the eyes of Mr Everest.

“Just what do you think you are doing, young lady?” He demanded. “How dare you enter my office, and stealing too. I never had you down as a thief.”

Katie gasped.

“I-I didn’t mean to, Sir. It just kind of happened. Look Sir, I admit it. I smoke. I’m gasping for a cigarette, and I can’t get any of my own. Surley you must understand the cravings.”

“No excuse, England,” shouted the Physics teacher. His face was red with anger, “I have no time for, or interest in, your excuses. You are a thief and it’s lucky I caught you red-handed. What were you going to steal next? My wallet from out of my desk, perhaps?”

“No-no Sir,” sobbed Katie. “It’s just a cigarette I need. I wouldn’t take your wallet.”

“Well England you leave me no option but to report your disgraceful conduct to your head of house and summon her up here to get you. Miss Hapwood has a similar loathing of thieves as I do. Think yourself lucky you are not one of the boys from my house. I would guarantee you such a thrashing if you were. Now get out of my office, wait outside in the corridor facing the wall. There is nothing for you to steal out there and please return my cigarettes to their rightful place.”

Katie put her hand in her blazer pocket and pulled out the packet. As she put it back on the desk, she looked at Mr Everest.

“I’m sorry, Sir,” she whispered.

“Outside now!” Bellowed the angry teacher.

*         *          *

Katie strained to hear what was being said behind the door. She had been waiting in the corridor for half an hour and it was ten minutes since Miss Hapwood had arrived. Without warning, the door to the right of Katie opened and Miss Hapwood stood with her arms folded in the doorway of the Physics lab. The teacher was a similar height to her pupil. She was dressed in a charcoal grey suit and a pair of black court shoes. Her blonde hair was wound up and pinned up tight at the back of her head.

“This is getting too much of a habit, England. You getting in trouble and interrupting my weekend, you have really done it this time. In you come.”

Katie stood in the middle of the room while the two teachers looked at her; both had faces like thunder.

“So where do I begin?” Said Miss Hapwood as she slowly paced around Katie. “It seems you have a real problem with smoking, quite the nicotine addiction it seems. In fact, you seem to have problems with quite a few of our rules; your appearance for one, back in knee socks, I notice. I understand from Matron she has had to withdraw certain privileges from you again. And now there I was about to go out to enjoy an afternoon shopping with Matron Taylor and I get summoned up here to deal with you. Mr Everest reports that he caught you stealing.”

Katie shuffled uncomfortably on the spot. What she could say? She had been caught well and truly red-handed. She just stared into space as Miss Hapwood continued.

“Well then, what have you got to say for yourself, young lady? I thought we had addressed the issue of your smoking last term. Wasn’t twelve swats of the slipper enough encouragement for you to stop?”

“I-I have tried,” stammered Katie. “I got through most of the holidays without a fag but I’ve sort of slipped back since the term started. I didn’t mean to steal Mr Everest’s cigarettes, Ma’am, but Matron confiscated mine. No one will get me any, seeing as I’m confined to the school grounds. I didn’t think. I just got desperate. I’m not a thief.”

Miss Hapwood shook her head.

“How very sensible your friends are, not to get involved and be lead astray by you. I’m very disappointed in you, England. I thought that after what happened last term you had turned a corner. You need to pull your socks up and knuckle down. Your final examinations are only months away. As for the matter in hand, I think that a very severe punishment is in order, don’t you Mr Everest?”

Katie’s heart sank. She could already feel the butterflies. Why had she been so stupid?

“Will it be the slipper again?” She asked quietly.

Miss Hapwood looked at Katie for a moment.

“It seems, England, that my slipper didn’t have the desired effect on you last time. Mr Everest here has suggested that if you were one of his boys he would have caned you on the spot, no questions asked. So now, as I am here to act as witness, that is exactly what he is going to do to you.”

“No, Ma’am. No, not the cane,” begged Katie. “If you slipper me, I’ll promise to give up smoking I’ll…”

“I don’t think you are in a position to negotiate, girl,” interrupted Mr Everest. “I caught you well and truly in the act. I’m afraid if you can’t do the time then you shouldn’t have done the crime. You should have thought about this before you chose to steal my cigarettes, shouldn’t you? Six strokes should teach you not to put your hands on things that don’t belong to you. Now put that stool in the middle of the room.”

Katie did as she was told. She picked up the tall stool that Mr Everest was pointing to and moved it to the centre of the science lab.

“Blazer off, England, assume the position over the stool,” commanded Miss Hapwood.

Katie put her blazer on one of the benches and bent over the metal legged stool. She gripped the bottom cross bar of the stool tightly with both hands. As she put her head down, her loose long hair fell over and covered her eyes. Behind her, she could feel Miss Hapwood lifting her gymslip and blouse tail clear of her bottom. The office door creaked as Mr Everest returned with his cane. Then she smelt it. He was smoking. Katie heard the sound of a heavy glass ashtray being put down on a hard surface. Mr Everest took a long drag of his cigarette before placing it in the astray. He tapped the cane on Katie’s tightly stretched navy blue Knickers.

“Ready, Miss Hapwood?”

“Proceed.”

SWISH CRACK. Mr Everest, stepped into the swing as he brought the cane down hard.

“ARRRGH” Katie screamed as she felt the burning sting cutting across her bottom. She gripped the cross bar of the stool, fighting her instinct to straighten up.

SWISH CRACK.

Katie screamed again and whimpered: “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Owww!”

SWISH CRACK, SWISH CRACK.

Mr Everest delivered two hard strokes. Katie gripped the stool hard, one of her legs lifted as she tried to absorb the intense pain.

SWISH CRACK.

“ARRRGH! Stop, please,” begged Katie as the next stroke cut low across the top of her thighs.

SWISH CRACK.

The final stroke was the hardest, delivered diagonally over the five previous weals on Katie’s bottom.

“ARRRGH!” Katie screamed. The intense pain took her breath away. She hoped and prayed that it was the last one. She just wanted it to all be over.

Mr Everest put down his cane and picked up his cigarette. Katie listened to what was going on around her. She daren’t get up; she knew all too well what would happen if she did without being told to. She felt a pair of warm hands on her shoulder. Miss Hapwood spoke to her in a gentle voice.

“Up you get, Katie. It’s all over.”

Katie slowly straightened up. The pain across her bottom seemed to be exaggerated by every movement. She gently rubbed her bottom and could already feel the weals beginning to form.

“We are going to give you some help to stop smoking,” said Miss Hapwood. “I’ll have a word with Matron Taylor this afternoon. Please can you come and see us after tea in her surgery?

Katie looked at her two teachers through her tears.

“I-I have tried to give up before, but I can’t do it. I find the craving gets me; that’s why I took your cigarettes, Sir.”

“You don’t want to get like me, do you?” Said Mr Everest. He actually seemed quite sympathetic now. “I ought to give up too. Look at me. I can’t even get through a double lesson without nipping out for a smoke. It’s tough giving up on your own. I’ve tried before and failed. I’m sure we would both succeed if we had someone to help the other along. I’ll tell you what. We will start our own stop smoking group, you and me.”

Mr Everest picked up his cigarette packet from the bench; he offered the open packet to Katie.

“One last smoke then, England?”

The End

© Tara Patterson 2016