A socially inept youth on a work experience scheme witnesses something he shouldn’t.
By Neville Moore
“Uh-oh!” Wendy, peering around the kitchen door, felt the need to alert the companions behind her; a shadow had just passed the netted window of the dining room, through which a watery morning sun’s rays were shining. “Here comes Daffy!” Sue and Jennifer winced. A moment later, the door to the small dining room opened silently and a lugubrious presence wafted across the room, through another door, and came to rest in the centre of the kitchen.
“Erm… tea?” It said in a sepulchral voice. “Any going?”
Sue sighed, poured a cup and held it out to Daffy. “Thanks,” said the new arrival. “Cold out, ey.”
The women exchanged wry glances. The conversation in the kitchen, before Daffy’s arrival, had been animated, ribald and punctuated with explosions of shrill laughter. Momentarily, they wondered if they dared continue, what with this wet blanket now in their midst. It was Wendy who finally settled the question. Turning to Daffy, she said, in tones that suggested she was addressing a half-wit: “We were just talking about spanking, David.” She winked at the other two women.
“Spanking?” The skinny, greasy-haired young man looked around uncertainly, as if seeking among the pots and pans some necessary clarification. “Um. As in?”
“As in, Owen Price’s little hobby,” replied the ebullient Wendy, accompanying the remark with an expressive gesture involving her hand and her expansive, uniform-skirted derriere. Sue, the oldest of the three women, giggled briefly, nervously, and glanced at the expressionless Jennifer. “Hey, David, you know, you better look out. Be nothin’ in the rules to say he can’t do a bloke, too,” Wendy added, with a malicious grin.
David Glyn Jones looked uncomfortable. Although he was a mere “Work Experience” adjunct to Ty Madog Nursing Home, and as such, supposed himself unaffected by whatever rules and regulations might apply to genuine employees, the topic of conversation made him ill at ease, given these foulmouthed women’s proven ability to provoke embarrassment in the most casual listener.
Nevertheless, he felt a twinge of curiosity. What did Wendy mean about Owen Price’s “little hobby”? Was she merely referring to the jovial, playful slap that Price bach was occasionally seen to dispense to the unguarded rear of a female staff member as she bent to assist one of the Home’s decrepit residents? It could hardly be anything worse than that, surely?
Noting his confusion, Wendy smirked, then composed her face into an expression of mock seriousness. Glancing at her companions she said: “Nah, he’s safe. Not much meat there,” – she nodded at the seat of David’s trousers – “beg pardon, David. Now, Jen, though, there’s a different story…” Her voice tailed off uncertainly. The thought had simultaneously occurred to both Wendy and Sue, that perhaps Jennifer would prefer not to have her forthcoming ordeal discussed in front of an outsider – even one as harmless and insignificant as David Glyn Jones. This time it was Jennifer herself who broke the silence.
“You’re not getting any of this, are you, David?” Said the youngest and slenderest of the three women, stepping towards him with a mock-seductive swaying of the hip and putting her hand on his bony shoulder, having carefully placed her empty teacup by the sink. “It’s simple. You remember my mix-up with the pills the other day? Well, Owen Price has decided to ‘punish’ me with a good old-fashioned spanking. Yep! Right this afternoon, just when I knock off. What do you think of that?”
Overcome with shock and embarrassment, David cast his eyes to the floor. From the moment he had first met her, two weeks ago, he had been troubled by Jennifer’s youthful, curvaceous prettiness. A recent recruit to Ty Madog, she was actually the same age as he, although nothing in her behavior or manner – or his, for that matter – acknowledged this commonality. He knew that, for her as for the older women, he, “Daffy”, the useless, clumsy, tongue-tied “work experience” placement from the North Wales Jobs Outreach scheme, was at best a figure of fun, at worst an annoying hindrance. Although Ty Madog currently had only eleven “residents” (the staff called them inmates), the regular nurses (“care workers”) were busy enough with cleaning, bathing and bed-making to have done without the presence of a slow-witted parasite who did little other than pour himself endless cups of tea and launch into occasional desultory efforts at conversation with the mostly catatonic “residents”. These conversational sallies – as the women must have noted – generally coincided with the unannounced visits of the nursing home’s owner, Mrs Price, a stout, red-faced, foghorn-voiced harpy, who, he assumed, would be providing regular reports on him to the local outpost of the Manpower Services Commission. As for Owen, Mrs Price’s lumbering, equally red-faced son, it had quickly become clear that Daffy’s ability to establish tenuous rapport with the elderly residents was of no interest or concern whatsoever: Owen Price visited Ty Madog in order to go over next week’s meat and vegetable orders, to breeze around the building quoting Bible verses to all and sundry (he was a Lay Preacher at the Chapel of the Risen Lord, as he liked to remind people) and to grope, paw and fondle the female staff members at every available opportunity. Now, unaccustomed to being included in any conversation, it was just Daffy’s luck to be put on the spot like this, by none other than the lovely Jennifer herself. What was he supposed to say? How could he possibly impress her?
“That’s terrible, Jennifer,” he finally blurted out, earnestly, after a long pause.
“Terrible? You’re bloody telling me. He wants to smack my poor little bum until it’s bright red!” Wailed Jennifer, half-twisting in order to provide her audience with a good profile of the poor little bum in question, as much as the regulation knee-length pale green uniform would allow. Grinning, the other two women watched Daffy, who was now staring at Jennifer open-mouthed, and thinking that he would definitely not have called the gorgeous mirage before him, with the regulation dress stretched around it, either poor or little.
“But can’t you…” – David cast about for a solution – “report him, or something?”
“Yeah, and get this place closed down, an’ us all out of a job,” cut in Wendy, raising her eyes to heaven. “No, thanks. Anyways, a spanking ain’t so terrible. We’ve had ours, haven’t we, Sue?” She added, with another grin.
Sue closed her eyes with a slight wince. “Don’t remind me.”
“So, Jen, like what we were saying. Just get it over with, an’ forget about it. Worse would be if he wanted to, like, take advantage.”
“And you’re saying he won’t?” Jennifer said, knitting her brow. All three now seemed to have forgotten the presence of Daffy.
Wendy considered. “Nah, I don’t reckon. Lay Preacher an’ all. Never anything like that with us, was there, Sue? Just bend over, sorry sir, and whack whack whack. Like in the flippin’ army!” Wendy’s tone strongly hinted that she rather resented not having been taken advantage of, on the occasion or occasions referred to.
Daffy looked from the twinkly, tousled Wendy to the demure blonde Sue, and from the latter to the doll-like Jennifer. His head was beginning to swim. “I’d better go talk to the residents, yeh,” he mumbled, and shuffled out of the kitchen. As he padded across the empty dining room, he heard a momentary silence and then a peal of laughter. By the door to the living room, he paused, froze and pricked up his ears, overcome by curiosity.
“Poor boy – you just scared him off!” he heard Sue say in her quiet voice.
“Nah. Betcha right now he’s wishing it was him doin’ the honours,” came Wendy’s irrepressible laugh. An inaudible murmur followed.
“Oh, he’s all right,” Daffy just heard Jennifer say, a touch dismissively, as the kitchen door swung shut. “He’s just shy…”
There was nothing more to be listened to, but what he had heard was enough. David Glyn Jones spent most of the rest of the afternoon in a blissful daze. Jennifer, the lovely Jennifer, before whom he had always felt himself to be the merest cockroach, had called him “all right”! He hardly paid attention to the customary loud complaints and curses of Sam, the emphysema victim attached to a large yellow oxygen tank, or to the endless wittering of the octogenarian Polly. It wasn’t until the afternoon round of pills that he was shaken out of his agreeable romantic stupor.
“Where’s Louise?” Polly demanded to know as Wendy laid a tray, with the tea and the red and yellow pills, in front of the old lady.
“It’s not Louise, Mrs Williams, it’s Jennifer. Louise left us three months ago,” said Wendy.
“Oh… Well, where’s Jennifer then?”
“In the bathroom, I think, getting ready. She’s going to get spanked today,” Wendy volunteered politely.
“Oh! Well, dear, you might have told us before… And who is the lucky young man, may I ask?”
Straightening up, Wendy scratched her tousled head. “Not married, Polly. Spanked.”
“She’s going to be what, dear? Speak up!” Polly cupped her hand over her ear impatiently.
“Spanked, Polly,” shouted Wendy. “On her bum.”
A cracked voice, this one male, started up on the other side of the euphemistically named “living room”. “Best thing for ‘em, I say. Drug runners the lot of ‘em. Thieves and bandits.”
Wendy turned to face Sam. “Jennifer isn’t a drug runner, Mr Evans.”
“No? Well, what’s it about then?”
“Gave you the wrong pills on Wednesday, Mr Evans. Have you forgotten already?”
Sam Evans grunted, as if to imply his theory had just been confirmed. It was now Dottie Wilkins’ turn. “We-ell, I don’t know if I ever quite spanked anyone, really. Not what you could call a proper whatsit. But there again,” she added in her shrill voice, “Will Mathers was such a nice man. You know, once we went with the whole family to Rhyl. It was in August, I remember…”
David looked at his watch. Normally, the mid-afternoon tea and pills ceremony was a reminder he had only half an hour to go before his abbreviated working day was over. Now, he realized with a shock that he didn’t want to leave. Somehow, he would have to find an excuse to stay until Jennifer’s knocking-off time, which he knew today was at five o’clock. The idea of not being at least somewhere in the vicinity while his goddess was being cruelly disciplined, proved on examination to be unthinkable, especially now that he, David, was officially all right. Maybe, he thought vaguely, he might even be able to “do something” about it all. Save his loved one from a fate worse than two hours’ conversation with Dottie. Now that would really strengthen his case wi’ her…
“Still here, David?” Sue enquired an hour later, with a smile, as she passed by the door carrying a pile of linen. “Chatting to the residents?”
“Oh, er, yeah.” He hadn’t been. He looked around to find a suitable “resident” to chat to. Most, by now, were asleep in their chairs.
Time seemed to have slowed almost to a standstill.
“Still here, Neil?” This time the voice was that of the burly Owen Price. “Sorry, I mean David. Neil was the one before you. How’s it doing, lad?”
David, who had sunk mentally into the room’s prevailing lethargy, looked up from his chair. Owen Price’s expression was, as usual, bluff and jovial. In spite of himself, David felt a new respect for a man who, apparently, was able to command the woman of his choice to submit to any ordeal his whim dictated. He reminded himself that, nevertheless, Owen Price was now an enemy. He was the man who was going to hurt Jennifer. His Jennifer.
“Er, Mr Price…” he mumbled, hurriedly getting to his feet, “I wanted to talk to you…”
“Well, I am a little busy at the moment, David. But go on, fire away,” beamed Owen Price, looking round the room, apparently checking for traces of dust.
“It’s about Jennifer.” Daffy felt vaguely that he should now be drawing a sword.
“Just the very maiden I’m here to see. I dare say she’s waiting upstairs right this minute. Well, what about her?”
“Is she, erm… is she in trouble?” David ventured cautiously, feeling less and less like the heir of Errol Flynn as each second passed.
“Not especially. Nothing a good wallop on the seat of her knickers can’t put right. Why do you ask?”
“You’re here to, umm… to, er, punish her?”
“Yes, David, I am so. ‘And unto thy maidservant, ye shall take a rod unto her behind, that she may remember the proper pills in future’. One Corinthians, five fifteen.” Winking at David, and making a show of consulting his watch, Owen Price turned and strode towards the door. There, he hesitated. “Why, are you telling me you’re keen to watch?”
“No, sir, of course …,” spluttered the intrepid guardian of his damsel’s honour, “I mean I… It’s really not my business, only…” He stopped himself in time from saying “…only I love ‘er.”
“Because if you should be so inclined, I daresay it could be arranged,” mused Owen, a slight smile playing on his lips. “Yes, in truth. You can be a witness. Handy tykes, witnesses. That way, we can both of us joyously behold the Unveiling of the Sacred Rump. Quite a nice specimen she carries there, wouldn’t you say?”
David nodded dumbly.
“All right. In five minutes, just come and knock on the door. We’ll be up in 108.”
Smiling as if in amusement at some private joke, Owen strode out of the room. A moment later, his heavy footsteps were heard ascending the stairs. David waited, then followed him as quietly as he could, up the carpeted stairs, past the gleaming electrical stairlift, to the middle of the landing, where he stopped and listened.
The door to 108 was closed. Through it, David heard Owen Price’s loud voice saying something like “… and of course I drop everything and rush here, and what, madam, do I see? Sam Evans laid out unconscious on the floor!” There was a pause in which a very faint, tremulous female voice could be indistinctly heard. David strained his ears. The man’s voice could be heard again, but more faintly, and the words were indistinguishable. Jennifer again offered something, and Owen’s vague murmurs that punctuated her words sounded like: “Yes, I’m afraid so.” Both voices, speaking in turn, became even fainter, as if they were exchanging confidences. Then there was a silence.
David took a deep breath and knocked at the door.
“Come in!” He heard. He turned the handle and entered. He had time to take in the heavenly spectacle of Jennifer spread-eagled across the table in the centre of the room, with her uniform dress rumpled over her back, and her bottom, in clinging white cotton knickers, pointed directly towards the door he had just walked through. Owen Price stood beside her, pressing down on the small of her back with his left hand. In his right he held a leather strap.
“Now, now,” he chided as a startled Jennifer struggled vainly to lift herself from the table. “It’s nothing to be alarmed about, lass. I asked David here to be present as a witness to your punishment, to see that there is nothing untoward or, um, excessive…”
“Daffy?” Jennifer cried out. “You asked Daffy? That idiot?”
“Like I said, I thought it would soothe you to have a witness,” Owen intoned smoothly. “Now, if you don’t stop rolling about, girl, I might have to ask him to help restrain you.” He relaxed the pressure on her back slightly. “Or, of course, we can see about preparing your dismissal.” Jennifer instantly stopped struggling. “That’s better. You know, Jenny, It really would be a pity to lose you. I fancy I speak also for young David here.”
Young David, who had in the space of a few seconds, and with the customary amount of hideous ruin and combustion, fallen from “all right” to “that idiot”, and hence, from Madly In Love to Tragically Rejected, could do little other than nod, since it was obvious even to him that nothing he could say was liable, right now, to be appreciated by either party. Inwardly, he congratulated himself on not having found the courage to try to dissuade Owen Price from disciplining the former goddess of his heart. He had just this moment decided that Jennifer’s undeservedly spectacular bottom, as well as her overall personality, would – after all – benefit greatly from the attentions of a leather strap such as the one now dangling from Mr Price’s hand.
“Are we all ready, then?” said Owen, shooting a conspiratorial glance back towards David before trying to assume an air of due solemnity. “Now girl, just remember that this is for your own good.” He drew back his hand, and sent the strap with moderate force to the dead centre of Jennifer’s plump buttocks. Her head jerked back and David heard a loud gasp.
“Certainly, Mr Price.”
“So that was number… ?”
“One, Mr Price,” said David, in a tone that suggested he was delighted at the opportunity to demonstrate his arithmetical prowess.
The next stroke curled around the side of Jennifer’s left buttock. This time, there was a definite squeal.
“Two, Mr Price.”
The following stroke was addressed to the girl’s right buttock, and elicited another gasp.
“Three, Mr Price.”
“Jenny… er, Miss Lomax, have you anything to say to me?”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir,” Jennifer croaked. “I promise it won’t happen again.”
“I’m sure it won’t, Jenny,” Owen Price said in gentle, reassuring tones. “However, it’s in everyone’s interest to make quite sure, and the best way to do that is to make you remember this lesson for a long time.” He drew back his arm. “As for how long, you may if you please enquire of the fair Wendy. Or Sue, come to think of it. They’ve both been needing of discipline, at different times.”
“Four, Mr Price,” intoned Daffy in his best servile manner, as Jennifer emitted a heartrending yelp. From this point onwards, there was going to be, David saw, a lot of overlap, of savage tormenting of already bruised flesh. The shocking loudness and vicious sharpness of each successive impact, and the unsightly visible reminders left on those areas of bare flesh not covered by Jennifer’s panties, unnerved him somewhat. He had grown up believing that girls were delicate, fragile creatures, and what Mr Price was doing to this young woman didn’t seem right, in respect of that. And yet somehow it looked, and sounded, right in another way. He couldn’t imagine himself bearing such a humiliating and excruciating ordeal with the resignation and fortitude Jennifer was now showing. It was as if she accepted it as her due. It also seemed almost embarrassingly plain that whatever divine hand had sculpted Jennifer’s hinder parts had done so with precisely this usage in mind. That was something she herself must have long been aware of… and that would be why she had waited in that room for Owen Price to come to her, instead of just leaving and sticking two fingers up at the place. There was a properness in all this that was somehow evident to both of them, and not to him. A secret they shared, from which he was excluded.
“Owowow!” There was a slight commotion, as Jennifer’s hand shot behind her to offer succour to her burning flesh, and Owen’s stronger hand gently but firmly returned hers to its proper place.
“Five, Mr Price.”
It had, clearly, something to do with Owen Price himself. As far as Daffy could tell, the man was far from handsome in the way women were presumed to measure such things; he had the face and the body of a Welsh farm labourer. He didn’t seem to be (though Daffy recognized he was hardly a fit judge) particularly intelligent or well educated either, even if he knew his Bible. But there was clearly something about him that women responded to, something Daffy himself conspicuously lacked. A kind of brutal simplicity and directness and confidence. A habit of not expecting ever to hear the word “no”.
“Um…oh, five, sir.” True to form, David’s mind had wandered off its allotted task.
“Daffy, that was six, you stupid moron!” Jennifer spat the words out. “Christ, that’s all we needed, someone who can’t even count!” Her shaking voice revealed she was on the brink of tears.
“Sorry, yeah, six,” David murmured, shamefacedly.
“Don’t hold it against him, Jenny,” remarked Owen with a chuckle. “Our David’s in training to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer.”
“Well… some ‘witness’!” Jennifer replied with venom.
“Hmm,” said Owen, as if a thought had just occurred to him. “You’re right, Jennifer. David is our witness, so I suppose we ought to be ruled by his judgment. Tell me, David, how many more strokes do you think Jennifer needs to complete her punishment? One? Three? Ten?”
David was silent for a moment. He didn’t claim to understand women, but recent experience did seem to suggest that the best way to earn a woman’s contempt was to be completely harmless. For Jennifer, the inoffensive Daffy was an idiot, and the cruel Owen was just… Owen. He heard himself saying: “Oh, I think four more would be… about right. Enough to, y’know, give ‘er the message, like.”
“Four?” Screamed Jennifer. “You little bastard!”
“Jennifer,” said Mr Price severely. “If there’s one thing I won’t tolerate, it’s strife between staff members. For better or worse, we’re one big family here. Even David, as long as he’s on placement. You should be glad he didn’t say twenty. I would have, if I’d just been called a moron.”
Jennifer was silent.
“So, I’d like you to say thank you to him. Now!”
“Thank you, Daffy,” said Jennifer, after a long pause, with a contemptuous toss of the head that contrasted rather piquantly with the vulnerability of her exposed rear end.
“That’s all right, Jenny,” said Daffy, essaying one of his rare, crooked smiles.
“Jennifer Lomax to you,” the girl sniffed. Winking at Daffy, Owen took aim against the centre of her left buttock.
From this moment on, even if delivered vicariously, they would be Daffy’s whacks. And those squeals and yelps would be for him, too. This, Daffy mused as the strap ploughed its way through the air, was a lot more interesting than being in love.
* * *
“Er, David, lad, will you call them through for lunch?” Sue’s musical voice rang out from the kitchen. David, who had been skulking in the empty dining room, by the window, observing two song thrushes building a nest in the hedge across the road, made for the doorway to the living room. At that moment, Jennifer appeared through the same doorway, carrying a tray with various teacups on it.
“Hi, Jennifer,” said Daffy, optimistically.
Jennifer looked at him as if he had just sprouted compound eyes, antennae and a serrated proboscis. “Do you mind?” She said icily. He stepped aside, and she disappeared into the kitchen. He watched her departing rear with a certain interest. She had used her day off to recover from the ordeal of Mr Price’s spanking. Now, two days later, he wondered if she still felt anything. The seductive roll of the hip was still there… but he fancied she walked with a certain stiffness.
Regretfully, he turned to the living room. Soon, the first batch of six “residents” would be undertaking their slow, stately pilgrimage across the few yards that separated their chairs in the living room from their places here at the dining table. His job was to avoid gridlock between the various Zimmer frames that battled to be first through the excessively narrow doorway. This ritual always felt as if he was watching a nature film, in which a swarm of insects with metallic legs could be seen in close-up squeezing through a hole in the bark of a tree.
“Time to call ‘em in?” Wendy’s head, with its mane of straggly hair, had appeared in the living room doorway.
“Yeh, think so,” said David.
Wendy looked round, then beckoned David through the door. Once he had passed through, and in the sort of low tone they both knew would be inaudible to any of the residents, Wendy said: “You’re a sly one, aren’t you!”
“Little bird told me you sat in on Jen’s punishment, or is that wrong?”
“I wasn’t sat nowhere. I was stood up the whole time.”
“But you saw the whole lot?”
“How was it?”
“She cried a bit, like.”
Wendy waited a few moments before realizing this was all she would get out of him. She looked round again – this time a little theatrically, as if emphasizing the intimacy of the conversation. “Pretty, ain’t she?” she said finally, with a conspiratorial wink and a friendly pat on the arm.
“Well, there you are then.”
“Um. How d’you mean?”
“Oh, you know. She ain’t got a boyfriend, in case you were wondering.”
“She hates my guts.”
“Only today. Give her a week. You should see the marks! She showed us this morning. That Owen bloody Price gets worse every time.”
“And then? After a week what?”
“Ach, David. Jenny needs a man, does that Jen. She’s a sitting duck. You a man or a mouse?”
Slowly, as he shuffled back towards the kitchen, while the irrepressible Wendy did the calling through, David turned the question over. Was he, in fact, a man or a mouse? All he knew was that right now he needed a cup of strong tea like he had rarely needed one before. As he crossed the living room, the pocket of his trousers caught on the corner of the table, which was sufficiently shaken to dislodge a vase, which fell and spilled water across two or three of the place settings. The blonde head of Sue poked momentarily out through the kitchen door.
“Uh-oh,” she said as she disappeared again inside the haven of the kitchen. “Better get a cloth, quick. Here comes Daffy.”