The manager of a failing estate agency is encouraged to do better.
Philip Norton was a very angry man. For years he had built up a string of Estate Agencies, working on the principle of maximum delegation to the local managers. These managers and their staff were expected to acquire an intimate knowledge of their areas, to become involved with community events, and to cultivate an almost personal relationship with their clients. It required dedication on their part beyond any nine-to-five job and it had paid off in every case – except one. Philip had no doubt the fault in that one case lay in staff attitude. He would have to pay them an urgent visit, and he would go equipped with the means to secure better performance in the future.
This particular Agency consisted of only three staff. Two were fairly recent recruits and Philip believed they were capable of good work, provided they were given the motivation. The fault lay with the Agency Manager, Francesca Carbonera, known as Franca, whom he had appointed three years ago. She had arrived with excellent references and full of enthusiasm, but now she had gone off the boil. This morning, he was determined that she would be vigorously warmed up again.
Franca did not greet his arrival with any enthusiasm. She ushered him into her office, eyeing his large case with suspicion, and languidly ordered one of her juniors to bring them coffee.
“No need for that,” Philip snapped. “I want to get straight down to business.”
He gave her a penetrating look as she stood in front of him, arms crossed over her chest. She must be entering her late thirties now, he calculated; shapely as ever, but both her breasts and thighs showing signs of enlargement. Her Italian ancestry had provided her with long black hair, an olive skin and excellent figure, but an English diet and lack of exercise were having their effects. Very well, he thought, today’s experience would sharpen her up.
“You know, of course,” he began, “that your sales have declined steadily over the last year, and you needn’t blame any recession because all the other agencies are profitable. The fault, I am afraid, lies squarely with you. I have given you warnings by phone and email numerous times, but now I am determined to put things straight. Listen carefully, because I am going to present you with two choices.”
Franca was about to speak, but Philip held up his hand to silence her.
“The time for excuses is over, Franca,” he continued. “Your first choice is to resign your post here and now. If you do that, I shall give you a reasonable reference and wish you well. Your second choice is to experience a short, sharp shock which I believe will improve your attitude and performance. And believe me, if you reject both choices, if you continue to do nothing, I shall dismiss you on grounds of incompetence.”
Franca stared at her boss for a moment with her arms still crossed, trying to take in this ultimatum.
Then she asked: “What sort of shock? What have you got in mind?”
In answer, he opened his bag and pulled out an object that made her eyes open wide in disbelief. It was a thin yellow cane, nearly two feet long, with a curved handle. Philip flexed it in his hands then swished it through the air.
“This,” he continued, “is a traditional cane, no longer used in schools as considered too cruel by modern standards. I can assure you that you would find it extremely painful. But effective corporal punishment is not only about pain but also humiliation. I would therefore require you to bend over and take six strokes across your backside.”
“And that’s your alternative to the sack?” Franca looked at him in horror. “You can’t be serious, can you? What good do you think it would do, other than satisfy some perversion of yours?”
“Be careful what you say, Franca,” came the reply. “I’m not asking you to strip off or perform any sort of sex act. I am offering you corporal punishment because I know that you still have the makings of a good manager, if you just become more disciplined. Six strokes of the cane will I’m sure lead to that end, especially when I tell you that I shall keep a careful eye on your future performance. If I find that it has not significantly improved in a month, I shall be back again – with the alternatives of resignation and twelve strokes. So what is it to be?”
“I don’t have much choice really, do I?” Mumbled Franca. “So let’s get it over with. What do you want me to do?”
“I’m very glad that you’ve taken such a quick and sensible decision, Franca.”
Philip scrutinised the dejected figure in front of him. In spite of the poor standard of her work, she had clearly made an effort to look presentable for his visit; crisp white blouse tucked into a black pencil skirt that reached just below her knees, with her legs in dark patterned tights and feet in low shiny heels. Unknown to her, of course, she was dressed perfectly for her punishment.
“Very well,” Philip continued. “Turn round and bend over as far as you can.” Franca duly reached down with her hands on her knees. “No, you can do better than that,” he ordered. “Move your legs apart and get right down, with your hands grasping your ankles.”
Franca moved into position, sighing as she did so. Philip was now presented with a generous target. There was no visible panty line, so perhaps she was wearing a thong and the tights might actually be stockings. If so, only her tight skirt would protect her from the force of the cane. Through its material, he could discern the outline of each buttock and the crack between them. He carefully laid the cane across the middle of her rear and tapped it a couple of times, making her cringe.
Philip issued further instructions. “I could have asked you to bend over a chair, but this is to be an exercise in self-discipline and so I expect you to hold your position. Take a firm grip of your ankles, grit your teeth, and prepare for the first stroke. Is that clear?”
Franca murmured assent.
Philip was determined that each blow would provide Franca with a very painful experience. There was no point in caning her half-heartedly, only to have to come back next month and repeat the exercise. He raised the cane high and brought it down with a sharp crack on its target, watching it dig into her rear but ensuring that it did not bounce back on her thighs.
The effect on Franca was immediate. She gasped and yelped, then stood up and rubbed her buttocks furiously.
“That really hurt!” She blurted out.
“It was intended to hurt,” came the implacable reply, “and let me remind you that was only the first of six. What’s more, if you stand up again, I shall add extra. Now bend over and get back in position.”
Whimpering slightly, Franca resumed her humiliating pose. Her hair fell over her face but she made no attempt to brush it away. This time, however, Philip placed his left hand firmly on the back of her blouse, just above the top of her skirt. The cane was lined up slightly below the first cut, and the second stroke brought out a louder yell than the first. Franca wriggled her rear from side to side, but she kept a grip on her ankles.
“I advise you to keep that noise down, Franca,” ordered her boss. “You don’t want the other two bursting in on us and seeing your backside in the air.”
Philip also knew the pain would grow all the more excruciating with each stroke, especially as he was working his way down her broad backside to its most sensitive regions. With the third and fourth strokes, Franca muffled her cries but tears were now pouring out of her eyes. The fifth blow made her knees buckle and she almost collapsed on the floor, but Philip grasped her by her blouse and pulled her back into position.
“We have reached the last stroke, Franca,” he informed her. “You have kept yourself down so I shall not add extra, but you have squirmed about more than was necessary and so I shall ensure that your final encounter with the cane will be the most agonising. Stay bending over!”
Philip swished the cane in anticipation, then laid it right across the join of Franca’s buttocks and thighs, making her shudder. It was raised then delivered with all the force promised. Franca did not wait for any further orders. As soon as his hand was lifted off her back she shot upright, clutching her cheeks, with hair still hanging over her flushed and tear-stained face.
“Right, Franca, your short sharp shock is over,” the boss concluded. “I shall leave you to tidy yourself up and then discuss future policy with your staff. And remember that I shall be monitoring your progress constantly. I’m sure you don’t want twelve! Good day to you.”
Philip packed away his cane and left Franca in her office, still too absorbed in her pain to utter anything beyond a few sobs and moans whilst she hopped from foot to foot, hands still pressed against the seat of her tight skirt. He bid a curt farewell to the two other employees, who were staring at him open-mouthed. No doubt they had heard the cracks of the cane and Franca’s reactions. Let her explain it to them as best she could. He had carried out a task that was necessary for the future well-being of the Agency. Yet he could not help thinking about the delightful sight presented by Franca’s ample upturned rear, and also of the six stripes that were doubtless even now reddening across her buttocks.
© David Hamilton 2015