Roddy my best friend laughed, but he was the only one that did.
My mother glared at me. “That is disgusting, Michael. You’re not fit to sit with civilised people. Go to your room.”
She was really annoyed. Looking back, I should have done as she said, but at twelve years old heading towards thirteen, I was flexing my independence muscles and didn’t have the sense I was born with. I was also showing off in front of Rod.
“No.” I smirked at her.
She shifted uncomfortably in her chair. It was a hot day and we were sitting in the garden having dinner. Her hands were crossed over her belly, which was huge, a great swollen dome. It made me feel sick to look at it. My mother was pregnant. I still couldn’t believe it. It was disgusting. She was just about ready to pop and everything, every little movement was a great effort to her. She wasn’t sleeping well and had little energy, what better time to defy her. Again, in retrospect, I was being a little shit, I had been for months, but at the time all I could see was my own predicament. Kids are selfish that’s all there is to it, and pre-pubescent kids are particularly selfish.
“Are you defying me, Michael?”
She sounded frazzled, almost tearful. I pulled a- do- you- want- me- to- spell- it- out- kind- of- face, and she flushed. There was a brief silence, and then He spoke.
“Do as your mother asked and go to your room please, Michael.”
I ignored him. He had no right to tell me to do anything. He was my mother’s husband, but not my father. In total she had known him for about a year and they had been married for almost five months of it. I just couldn’t accept that she had re-married and was pregnant. I was still reeling with the shock of it all and the fact that she hadn’t sought my permission. I suppose in many ways I was just plain jealous. Why did she need to marry again? Why did she want another kid when she had wonderful me? It had always been just mum and me. My natural father had left us for someone else when I was less than two years old, just walked out one day and we never saw him again. He didn’t even send me so much as a birthday card from that day on. Mum made up for it though.
I suppose I was used to having her all to myself and I suppose in lots of ways I was spoilt. Now everything had changed and I was no longer her sole consideration. We had lived in a cramped two bedroomed flat for as long as I could remember, I hadn’t minded, but when she married him, we had moved into his house and it was some house, not palatial exactly, but big, with a garden like a small park. I should have been in clover. I wasn’t.
“Did you hear me young man?”
Again I ignored him and let rip with another belch, even bigger and better than the ones that had prompted my mother’s annoyance in the first place. I thought I was being amusing and witty, but in reality I was being tiresome, rude and a complete bloody pest. Mum had finally had enough.
He spoke again, but to Roddy this time, not me.
“I’m sorry, Roderick, but I think it’s time that you went home.”
Roddy got up at once. “Sorry I laughed, Mr Hurst,” he mumbled, I didn’t mean to be rude.” He looked at me in an embarrassed sort of way, “see you, Mike.”
He acknowledged the apology with a nod of his head and a quiet, “that’s alright son.”
I felt as if Rod had let me down, “what are you saying sorry to him for,” I shouted. “You’re supposed to be my friend.”
“That’s enough, Michael! You’re not behaving much like a friend yourself at the moment.” He took a hold of my arm, giving me a little shake.
I was furious. Wrenching myself free, I turned on my mother, yelling, “are you just going to sit there like a fat lump? Tell HIM he has no fucking right to tell my friends to go home, or to touch me.” My language at that time was frequently peppered with words of Anglo Saxon origin, it wasn’t pretty or clever, but it was very typically angry little boy.
My mother stared at me for a moment, her face turning a deeper shade of red, and then she too addressed Rod. “Mr Hurst is right, Roddy, it’s time you went home. I’m sorry that you’ve had to witness Michael’s bad behaviour.” She lumbered to her feet, “ I’ll show you out, and don’t you worry, none of this is your fault.” She glanced back over her shoulder, “I agree, Don. It is time he was taken in hand.” Then she walked off with Rod.
I stared after them, what the hell did she mean by that?
“I’m going to tell you again, Michael,” he said calmly, “go to your room. You’ve spoilt the meal for everyone, including your friend.”
I glared up at him, “fuck you, I’m going with Rod.” I made to flounce off, but he grabbed my arm again, pulling me back and forcibly turning me to look at him. I was a fairly small kid for my age and he was just over six feet tall so all he had to do was flick his wrist.
“I beg your pardon?”
Like I said, I had less sense than I was born with. “You deaf as well as stupid?” I sneered, trying to free myself.
Holding me by the upper arms he leaned down, holding his face inches from mine, “you and I have obviously got off on the wrong foot. My fault. I didn’t want to play the heavy stepfather. I wanted you to like me. Bad decision. Whether you like me or not is immaterial. The sad truth is, Michael, I don’t like you much at this moment in time. You’re a spoilt, badly behaved, bad mannered brat and I’ve had enough of it.”
My eyes opened wide at this. “Let me go,” I tried my hardest to twist free, but he just held me tighter and continued to talk in that calm, controlled voice of his.
“I accepted responsibility for you when I married Cathy and it’s time I started taking that responsibility seriously. Whether you like it or not, I’m your stepfather and you are going to start showing me, and above all, your mother, a certain level of respect. In future, when your mother tells you to do something, or when I tell you to do something, you will do it without argument. Do you understand me, Michael?”
“Yes,” I bawled, scared by this sudden turn of events and trying desperately to regain control. “I understand what a fucking dickhead you are!”
His eyes iced over, you could have held a skating party on them. “That’s it. I’ve taken all I’m going to take from you. You’re going to learn who’s in charge around here and it certainly isn’t you.” With that he let go of my right arm, but kept a grip on my left, whirling me round to face away from him. I let out a yelp, more of surprise than pain, as his hand whacked across the seat of my shorts and he said, “you’ve had your day son. It’s Don’s turn now. D-Day if you like, the stepfather has landed.”
I didn’t have much of a sense of humour in those days; besides, I don’t think he was trying to amuse me. “I’m telling,” I shouted, jutting my hips forward as the hand smacked my backside again. “I’m telling mum that you hit me.”
Like Rhett Butler he didn’t appear to give a damn and his large hand walloped my bottom for a third time before he let go of me. “Get inside,” he said sternly, “and apologise to your mother.”
I raced into the house, but complaint rather than apology was the only thing on my mind. The slaps had stung, but not unduly. I was more shocked that he’d done it rather than by how much it had hurt. Still, I exaggerated the pain to my mother, expecting her to be on my side. She wasn’t.
“Good,” she said, casually turning the pages of the magazine she was reading. “You deserved it. I’m sick and tired of your petulance and bellyaching.” She looked up at me; “Don’s bent over backwards to try to make friends with you and to make you feel at home and all he’s had from you is cheek and abuse. It’s time you accepted the fact that you are not the centre of the universe and that I have a right to personal happiness and a close relationship with someone other than you. Don’s a good man; you’ll see that when you give him half a chance. I’ll always love you, Michael, but I’m not putting up with your rotten attitude anymore. Don’s right. I haven’t given you the discipline you obviously need. You’ve had your own way for too long, you’re part of a family now, but not the only part.”
“Make your apology, young man, and then go upstairs.” Don had followed me indoors and his voice had a different tone to it, much firmer than usual, probably because he knew he now had my mother’s support.
I suddenly felt very alone, and very much on the outside. I clenched my fists by my side, my face glowing with temper. Mum had placed a glass of water by the side of the chair she was sitting on, before I knew it my foot was flying towards it. Glass and contents spattered against the living room wall. My mother gave a small cry of fright as glass fragments sprayed the room.
“You can both go to hell,” I yelled and ran for the door. The next thing I know I’m over his knee examining the pattern on the carpet. I gasped as his hand began slamming against my bottom, my shorts and underpants seeming to offer little by way of protection. I had rarely been spanked, the odd swat from my mother, but nothing like this. I began squirming and yelling at him to stop, but he just kept on spanking. I tried desperately to reach my right hand behind me to shield my poor bum, but he had me held in such a way that his upper body acted as a wall. With his left arm wrapped tightly around my waist, he pulled me against his body, leaning slightly forward so his weight kept me anchored firmly across his lap, his left shoulder blocking me. I yipped as a particularly hard swat provoked me to yell, perhaps unwisely in the circumstances, “you’re a fucking bastard.”
“And you’re a foul mouthed little pest,” he said grimly.
My eyes widened, as the arm around my waist lifted me slightly and my shorts were tugged down to my knees. I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made, having one of the thin coverings between his hand and my bottom taken away. I bawled in earnest as his hand struck the surface of my underpants with a resounding crack. Another hard smack landed, his fingers catching the bare flesh of my upper thigh, and the tears came gushing from my eyes. He smacked me a few more times and then returned me to my feet. My legs were shaking with fright. Before I even had time to rub my stinging bottom, he had returned my shorts to their original location and I was ordered once again to apologise to my mother, which I did without further protest. Taking my hand he steered me towards the stairs. I thought he was going to shove me into my room, but he stopped on the landing. It was a fairly wide landing and in one corner, at the top of the stairs, there was a tall stand with a plant on it. He removed both stand and plant and manoeuvred me, still crying, into the spot vacated by them, my nose just about touching the point where the walls met.
“You will stand there quietly and think about your behaviour. I will tell you when you can move.”
He went downstairs, leaving me standing there like a lemon. I’d begun to calm down a little and reached my hands back to rub at my throbbing behind. As soon as I heard the living room door close, I crept to my room. I’d only been lying on my bed for a few minutes, feeling very sorry for myself, when the door opened. My heart, to my disgust, began to thud as Don’s stern voice told me to get up.
“Why?” I whined.
“Get Up, Michael!”
His tone didn’t invite argument. I got up.
He folded his arms and glared down at me. “I don’t recall giving you permission to leave the corner.”
I regained some of my snotty attitude, “why do I have to stand in a corner? It’s bloody stupid. Who do you think you are?”
“I know who I am, Michael.” He placed a strong hand on my shoulder and propelled me onto the landing, “you need to learn who you are.” He shoved me back in the corner, nose to the wall. “You’re a naughty little boy. I want you to stand here and think about how badly you behaved this afternoon. The best time to think is when you’re bored and there is nothing more boring than having to stand in a corner staring at a wall.”
“Why can’t I just stay in my bedroom?” I pouted.
“The bedroom is the last stage of punishment. When you climb into bed you know the worst is over and when you get up again, you do so with a clean slate, no grudges held.”
My temper let me down again, “you’re a fucking WEIRDO. Mu-um,” I shouted, “mum!”
Don bent and slapped me smartly, once, on the back of my left leg, just below the hemline of my shorts. “You’re going to learn to control that dirty mouth of yours. I don’t like bad language and neither does your mother. And, your mother, in case you hadn’t noticed, is in the last stages of pregnancy. She needs rest and calm, not you giving her a hard time. Now face that wall and stay there until I tell you to move.”
I successfully fought an urge to blow a huge raspberry at his retreating back, satisfying myself by mentally machine gunning him instead. I stood there, leaning my head against the wall, deeply conscious of the sting in my leg and the dull warmth in my recently spanked backside. I was seething with resentment and confusion. I had interacted more with Don in that horrible half hour than I had in all the time I’d known him, and it had not been pleasant. I hated him and I hated my mother, but...but what? I didn’t know what. I stood for what seemed like hours, but which turned out to be five minutes before I heard footsteps on the stairs. I turned round hoping it would be mum coming to tell me she was sorry for letting him spank me. It wasn’t.
“You may go to your room now, young man. When you’ve changed into your pyjamas and brushed your teeth you can come downstairs to say goodnight to your mother before going to bed.”
“But it’s only half past seven.”
“Congratulations,” he gave a cool smile, “you can tell the time. I’m repeating this for the last time: pyjamas, teeth, goodnight, bed and lights out. Do you want to argue, because if you do, get it out of the way now. If necessary I’ll undress you and put you to bed myself.” He folded his arms and looked at me in a way that was to become very familiar. “You’re eating into my time now, Michael, and my patience, which is already worn to transparency where you’re concerned.”
I stared at him, fighting the compulsion to break down into tears again. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. He stared back unflinchingly. At forty he was ten years older than my mum, but he didn’t look it. He took full advantage of the leisure complex he owned, swimming and working out several times a week.
“I don’t like you,” I blurted it out, bubbling into tears yet again, much to my annoyance.
He clapped a hand to his forehead in mock surprise, “and here was me thinking you worshipped the ground I walked on.”
I scowled, lobbed a fantasy grenade at him and stamped off to my room. I got into my pyjamas but I didn’t brush my teeth and nor did I go downstairs to say goodnight. I’d be damned if I would. I climbed miserably into bed and lay down. Part of me hoped he’d come up and demand that I say goodnight so I could defy him, but he didn’t. I heard them talking and laughing downstairs and imagined they were laughing at me. I eventually cried myself to sleep.
“Hello sweetheart,” my mother acted as if everything was normal next morning, leaning her bulk towards me to deliver her usual morning kiss.
Not on your Nelly. I sidestepped her.
She shrugged, “still sulking I see. You have no cause for it, Mikey. You got what you deserved last night, in fact you’ve had it coming for months.” She poured me a glass of orange juice, ruffled my hair and then asked me what I wanted for breakfast.
I didn’t reply, but even my silence didn’t faze her. She simply poured cereal into a bowl, doused it in milk and placed it in front of me. I studied her as she moved about the kitchen. She seemed more relaxed than she had been for weeks. I was hurt, taking her happiness as gladness at my misery, interpreting it as her no longer caring for me. I sat at the table, a bowl of cereal in front of me that I couldn’t eat because I was so choked with emotions I didn’t understand. Don came in and I watched as he wrapped his arms around MY mother and kissed her, laying his hands lovingly on her bump, as she leaned back against him. It suddenly dawned on me that they were a couple. They were together and the bump would, at any time now, be converted into a child that would belong to both of them. And where would that leave me? I felt totally shut out and suddenly so frightened I thought I was going to vomit. Leaving the cereal and juice untouched I crept from the room. I don’t think they even noticed me leave.
I got dressed and slipped out quietly, heading off to see Roddy. I told him what had happened, leaving out the bit about being made to stand in a corner. It just sounded so embarrassing, the kind of thing that happened to naughty infants at school. He sympathised, but said that it was no big deal and I had kind of asked for it.
I glared at him huffily, but he just laughed. “You did, Mike. If I talked to my mum or dad the way you speak to your parents I would be dead, never mind walloped.”
“He’s not my parent,” I reminded him stiffly, “and I thought you’d understand.”
Rod pulled a face, “well I don’t, sorry Mike. You’ve got a nice house and nice parents, okay,” he held up his hands, as I scowled at him, “a nice mum and step dad. I don’t see the problem.”
“He isn’t nice, he’s horrible, and I hate him.”
“What do you mean why?”
“Why do you hate him, except for last night he’s never laid a finger on you. He makes your mum happy and he bought you that ace bike for your birthday. My dad’s tanned me loads of times and I don’t hate him, not once it’s over anyhow.”
I was lost for an answer. I didn’t know why I hated him. I just did, on principal.
Roddy, a natural diplomat, then and now, changed the subject. He invited me to go over to his gran’s house for the day with him. His older brother Richard was going away to university the following week and his parents were helping him ferry some stuff down to the digs he was going to be living in. Rod had opted to visit his gran, who lived about five miles away, rather than endure two long boring car journeys.
Rod’s mother asked me to clear it with my mother first, as it would be late when they brought us home. I pretended to telephone her and get permission. Even to this day I’m ashamed that I did such a stupid and selfish thing. She would have said yes without hesitation. I just wanted to worry her, to pay her back for daring to care about someone other than me. When you’re young you tend to act without thinking. Deep down you know you’re doing wrong, or being an idiot, but it takes maturity to allow that small, still voice of sense and conscience to filter to the surface.
Rod’s parents dropped us off at his gran’s house on their outward journey and we had a great day. Rod’s gran was a lot of fun, she took us to the pictures then out for something to eat, generally spoiling us rotten with sweets and treats. It was clear that Rod thought the world of her and I envied him. I had no grandparents. My mother’s parents had died when I was tiny. I had no memory of them and my father’s parents, like my father himself, were an unknown quantity. As far as I could glean they lived in Scotland and had shown no interest in me whatsoever.
By the time Rod’s parents arrived to take us home, it was approaching nine at night. Of course gran had lots of questions about Richard’s digs, etc, etc, so by the time his dad’s car drew up outside my house it was ten past ten. I waved them off and turned to go, rather nervously, into the house. The front door was locked and it suddenly struck me that apart from the porch light; the place was in total darkness. I rang the doorbell, but no one was answering. The back garden gate was locked and there was no way I could scale the high wall to check if the back door was open.
It began to rain softly and I huddled in a corner of the porch wondering why no one was home. I was puzzled, and rather scared. I thought about going back to Rod’s house, but dismissed it at once. I would have to own up to the lie I’d told, and Mr Burns, Rod’s father, was a man I didn’t want to annoy. He had a way of looking at you that made you feel about an inch high. Despite the continuing warm weather by day, the September nights were chilly and I was dressed only in summer shorts and a t-shirt. I shivered, praying that mum would come home soon. I sat for what felt like eternity, occasionally dozing, but too cold and uncomfortable to sleep properly. My head was nodding down towards my chest when the sound of a car pulling up on the drive jerked me fully awake.
I stood up stiffly as Don walked towards the porch. There was no sign of my mother. He must have seen me, but he didn’t so much as glance at me as he inserted the key in the lock and opened the door. I knew instinctively I was in serious, serious trouble. I stayed where I was, partly because my legs were stiff and partly because I was so scared I was rooted to the spot. My buttocks clenched involuntarily, as if they sensed what was coming. He flicked the hall light on and then reached out his hand, grasping mine and yanking me inside. The door slammed behind us and my legs suddenly rediscovered movement. The moment he let go of my hand I bolted for the stairs, managing to make it halfway before he caught me. Standing braced against the banister rails he placed one foot a stair higher and tipped me face forward across his left thigh, pushing a hand between my shoulders to keep my front end well down and my rear well up. He wasted no time in yanking my shorts down. To my absolute horror, my underpants also ended up hugging my ankles. Wow! My head snapped back and I let out a scream loud enough to waken the dead as his hand left a blazing print on my bare buttocks. I barely had time to draw breath before the next thunderbolt hit my rump. I squealed and kicked wildly, bursting into a storm of tears as the powerful hand struck yet again, pleading with him to stop, but he just kept on spanking me over and over again. I became hysterical, yelling incoherently, as he smacked my bottom so hard I was convinced he’d removed every square inch of skin from it. The previous days spanking paled into insignificance. Snot and tears poured down my face and dripped onto the stair carpet.
“Mummy,” I managed to sob the word out, it was a good few years since I’d called her that, but right at that moment all I wanted was my mummy. I sobbed it out again, and the spanks stopped, but the pain burned on. Tucking me effortlessly under his arm, shorts and pants still pooled about my ankles, he carried me the rest of the way upstairs and into my bedroom where, without setting me down, he removed my shoes and socks, then my shorts and pants and finally my t-shirt which he used to roughly wipe my nose and face before flinging it aside. Snatching up my pyjamas he put me into them as if I were a toddler, folded back the blankets and deposited me into bed. The blankets dropped over me, the door closed and I was alone in the dark with only the sound of my own ragged sobs for company.
From finding me in the porch to closing my bedroom door Don had not said one solitary word. Despite the raging fire in my nether regions I was cold, probably shock, and I huddled under the bedclothes shivering and sobbing, not daring to even rub my sore bottom in case it made it hurt more. I listened to him moving about in his own room and again wondered where my mother was, but wild horses would not have dragged me from that bed to ask. Through a welter of pain and tears my mind acknowledged that he would get round to telling me in his own sweet time and that for now the worst was over and it would be wise to stay put. The intense heat in my backside subsided fairly quickly, leaving an uncomfortable tingle. My sobs likewise began to decrease and exhausted I drifted towards sleep. I vaguely heard his footsteps descend the stairs and the unmistakeable whir as the dial on the telephone was rotated. I was asleep before I could hear whom he was calling, waking next day to the Sunday morning smell of bacon cooking.
The bedroom door opened and his tall frame filled the space. “I want you up, washed, dressed and downstairs in ten minutes, Michael.”
That was it, the door closed and he was gone. I sat up resentfully, and then groaned. My whole body ached, probably from all the kicking and flailing I’d done while draped over his thigh. I felt as if I’d run a marathon. Dropping my pyjamas I studied my bum in the wardrobe mirror. Apart from a slight ache in the muscle, it was almost normal; there was a faint blush, but no lacerations, and no blisters. I was rather indignant. The pain of the encounter was still clear in my mind and I felt almost as if my backside had betrayed me by showing no sign of the trouncing it had taken.
As I neared the kitchen, my knees became distinctly wobbly. Keeping my eyes vacuum cleaner style, i.e. clamped to the floor, I walked into the room with as much bravado as I could muster....
End of part one.
Copyright 2009 / 2015