Sweet and Sour Shades of Sandrabyjoeroberts©
Early Seventies. Last of the Summer, just before the Autumn walks all over it. Mid Friday afternoon, storm coming, sky as sullen as my mood. Walking out the last of my high school days, did well in my last exams, just turned eighteen, ought to be as happy as a pig in shit but I'm not.
Want to see Sandra, my tutor. Known her a long time and we click like a copper's handcuffs, even if she's forty and a tiny bit, never dared ask. It's not a working day for her, but I know she's home, made sure she was. Half an hour's brisk walk, a kick this and kick that walk, a kick a cripple if I saw one kind of walk.
Nice little white stucco house, green roof, set in off the street, well kept little garden, wonder where she finds the time to keep the roses and the rest with all the work she's got but somehow she does. Old house, new money, but not newly rich bad taste money; Sandra has too much class for that. If class were perfume, she'd quietly exude it, not reek of it like a whore's handbag.
For all her class, she's got an easy way with her. Easy on the eyes and easy to talk to, easier than my mother at the moment. That don't mean she's EASY though. Might be Sandra and Calvin between us but that can change in a millisecond. You don't come the old soldier with her, found that out a long time ago.
Sandra ushers me in, steps back so I can take my sneakers and socks off inside the door, just a thing we have, makes me relax, bare feet on white shag pile carpet, relaxed makes me work harder she says.
As always her vibes say, "Make yourself comfortable, take the edge off." Not quite a, "Make yourself at home, piss in any corner you'd like," kind of comfortable mind, but it'll do, as it always does, and I feel some of my storm dark mood slip away as I enter her study, first room in her house, where she teaches students.
Light straw coloured walls, this room, with a few tasteful rural prints and a handsome old wall clock which, on pain of a few verbal slaps, I've learned not to watch, not openly anyway. All fits together nicely, just as her figure does.
I sit myself down door I've just come in through side of a large work table three feet wide four long, sit down in a been around black leather swivel chair, adjusted to my size. She'd known I was coming, had set it up beforehand. Never misses a trick, that one. I watch her lithe figure glide to the opposite chair, exact same but set up just that little bit so's you know who's boss higher.
Her chair looks out through a bay window into the garden, mine looks inwards, another situation she likes to exploit where she can. One hell of a teacher she is. Must be, to have got ME all the way up to and through my Senior! And my regular teachers? Well, as my old man, whom I've not seen since I was six, would have said, and for the most part accurately, "They wouldn't know if their arseholes were round, punched, bored, or countersunk."
As usual her white platform soled sandals glide ghostlike over the carpet, supporting five eleven of hourglass figure. Azure blue pantsuit, matching her eyes, white blouse under her jacket. Firm breasts and legs all the way up to her arse. She looks me over as she walks. And she's single, never been married. Hard to believe, but single she is.
She's quite a contrast to me, in my clean but rumpled faded blue jeans and brown tee. Hard middle distance runner's body I've got, straight black collar length hair and brown eyes. Same height as she, and for some reason she likes that, and my looks, but to be honest, if I were any more plain looking I'd be as ugly as a robber's dog. Still, what can't be cured must be endured, and her vibes say she doesn't mind at all.
Sits herself down, gives her down to tits length curly golden locks a toss so I can make out her perfect diamond face with its many laugh lines and announces, "Congratulations Calvin, you've made it into University, you know that?" Cut glass accent, soft or hard, depending. For now, it's soft.
I don't, but my mood is still so sour that all she gets by way of reply is a surly grunt. For a long moment, she says nothing, just lets her eyes look into mine. Not a stare, not a fake geeing up look, just empathy, or what I take for empathy.
"Thought you'd be happy, not just sit there looking like a reg'lar old Jack Nastyface. Want to talk about it?"
Again I don't, but the vibes are pushing my buttons, telling me nothing's secret with Sandra, so eventually, bit by bit I get it all out, my troubles at home, the arguments, the nagging I get, and last but not least, that my mother has grounded me for six months.
Same cut glass accent but a touch harder, "Can't say I'm surprised, with a year's worth of you coming home late, or not at all, not to mention not doing a damn thing you're asked, and as for some other things like break ins and shoplifting, well my lad, I'd keep up the running if I were you, might come in handy some day, eh?"
All of which is true, but on my surprised glance, she adds, "Oh, your Mum and I go back a long way Calvin. Went to the same school, you know that, and we ladies do gossip y'know." She laughs, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes. "You got off light. If you were mine, I'd have grounded you for a twelvemonth, and at least the half of that on bread and water. But you're not mine, and it's no skin off my nose. Is it?"
"Oh I just thought, what with you and Mum being old friends ..."
She cuts me off, not rudely but firmly, "And what would you have me do? Ring Angie and beg her to forgive your many sins? Oh Jaysus and Mary, why don't I phone the Pope while I'm at it? What's the number again, VAT 69? No, I'm sorry, but you'll just have to go home and do your time, won't you?"
She waits a sickening ten seconds, "Unless I punish you rather than your mother. She agrees with that, provided you consent."
"What would you do?"
"Cane your arse. Properly. Don't look so surprised. I went to a convent school, and was a teacher for a few years myself before I became a tutor. I've neither forgotten what a caning feels like, nor how to administer one. And I've got a spare room that's perfect for it."
I must look like someone's hit the back of my head with a rubber mallet, so she continues, "Don't worry, I'll give you some time to think about it, but before you do, I want you to know it'll be no easy way out. It'll hurt like hell, and it's not as if I'll give you some set number of strokes and that's it. You'll get as many as I think you need, enough to break you in fact, and I shall take care to make good practice upon you."
This last, she explains, was a military euphemism for shooting the stuffing out of something. Or someone, she adds in malicious good humour. She lets me go to the bathroom, on my right, through a doorway then hard right, for a nervous pee, and when I return to my chair she says, offhandedly, "I'll give you fifteen minutes. I'm going to phone your mother for a bit of old girl's gasbag anyway, and I've the feeling you'll want to be alone."
She swiftly stands up, turns about, and walks straight out through a door in the wall away from the work table, heading for what I know is her living room and kitchen area. Thanks very much, Lady lay-all-the-cards-out-on-the-table Sandra.
I do want to be alone, no error, not that being alone makes things any easier. I'm in a cleft stick and I know it. On the one hand if I simply go home, there'll be yet another blazing row followed by sweet sufferin' Christ knows how much smouldering nagging afterward; whilst on the other hand I myself have some idea what a caning feels like, having collected a few both ways over my years at school, albeit half-hearted compared to what Sandra might dish out, and it's that unknown that has me sweating. What makes it worse is she's never the once hit me in all the years she's tutored me, she's always used her eyes, her voice, and her vibes. Oh shit oh dear, oh dear oh SHIT!
Ah bugger it! I can't take any more rows, much less any more nagging, either one's worse'n toothache. Of the devil I know and the devil I don't, it'll just have to be the one I don't. I don't care a squirt o' rat's piss if she breaks me. She'll have the job ahead of her and that's a fact; running teaches you a thing or two about pain. Or so I think.
Half three on the dot she re-appears and sits down on her side of the table. Punctual as a tax collector. "Your mother's easy either way, I just checked. Well, what's it to be, run home to Mummy or my way?" The words come over pointed yet blunt-edged, the way the best bayonets are, just right for making the worst stab wounds.
"Somehow thought it might be." Vibes neutral. But the next bit surprises me. "Just go sit in the Hug Chair for a while." Vibes soothing warm. The Hug Chair being what she calls a tan two seater lounge placed a pace in front of the far wall left of the door to the living room, with the wall clock to the right of the door. It's far and away the most comfy seat in here, and it's not often I or anyone else gets to sit on it. I walk over and sit on its right as I face it, as I am expected to. With Sandra everything has to be just so. Just the way she is.
Before I know it she's standing behind me, hands soft on my shoulders, leaning forward so her hair falls either side of my head. Her hands expertly massage my trapezoids as she says softly, vibes humming warm, "Relax, lean forward, hands on knees, look out into the garden." Roses blood red, lawn emerald green in the storm gray light. "C'mon, synch your breathing with the massage, you know the drill."
Indeed I do, it's an old trick of hers for rewarding me. Not that I get it very often; I can count on my fingers the number of times she's done it all the time she's tutored me, but somehow she makes each time feel better than the last. She outdoes herself today, showing such skill as a masseuse I'd swear she could make the most shagged out nag gallop out of a knacker's yard. What the fuck?
"I'm doing this for three reasons Calvin. Firstly, so you'll see there's nothing personal in what's going to happen. It's not that you're bad, it's that you're a young man going through a silly stage, a bloody silly stage. Your Mum does the best she can, but she's not got quite enough steel in her to put a curb bit on you for a while. Oh, and you never heard me say that about your mother, look you. Secondly because I respect your decision, it's a very brave one."
She's sitting beside me on my right before I get the third, along with a breathtaking hug. I catch her perfume. Just a discreet hint of Chanel Number 5, or Yves St Laurent. Never did learn all the different ones. As my face presses chastely into her right shoulder, I feel her hands rubbing in slow circles all over my back as she comes out with it.
"And lastly because, whereas you've always known me as nice friendly helpful caring tutor Sandra, you're about to see another side of me. The icy cold, heartless, uncaring bitch side of me, so enjoy the hug while it lasts!"
It doesn't last long. It ends in an almighty stinging smack on my backside, along with a curt, "Get up!"
I get up. "Follow me!" said the same way as I've read the hangman used to say it, and damn me if it don't feel the same. Frightening.
Follow her as the long threatening storm breaks. Past the work table and the entrance, past the bathroom I used earlier, and to the end of a short passageway. Short walk following her marching pace, a short walk I'd normally enjoy allowing my eyes to drink in the ups and downs of her Rock of Ages beam ends that I scarcely notice now, such is my anxiety.
The well known refrain rings mockingly inside my skull for a split second before she turns left to open a door. "Rock of Ages, CLEFT for me, let me hide myself in thee!" Aye me, so this is what you get for taking the mickey out of hymns, eh?
Door opens. Inwards, as she stands on the right of it. "Get inside!" In a tone usually reserved for misbehaving dogs. No more shag carpet, wood parquet floor. "Stop there!"
Door closes, light comes on. Just enough time to see it's a medium sized room, pastel shade walls, double bed with matching coverlet left of centre back wall, hard up against that wall, three seater sofa hard up against the end of the bed. Door to the right of the bed, between it and a huge built in closet, right wall. Sofa's back four inches higher than the bed. No windows.
She moves so she faces me. Vibes low now, so low it's freezing in here, Summer or no Summer. And that's when real fear starts. Her hands grip my shoulders. Not the masseuse's fingers I know. More like some undead creature's talons. And the voice, somehow so different from any I've ever heard her use.
"Look into my eyes and listen! From now until this is over, you will do exactly what I tell you when I tell you.You will not speak to me unless I put a question to you. And you will address me as Miss Van Lewin. Do you understand?"
The devil looks out of her eyes, not the hot and wild devil beloved of cartoonists, the one you only laugh at, but Dante's frozen devil, the one that lives in the lowest circle of hell. The one that REALLY scares you because it doesn't even have to TRY to scare you.
"Yes Miss Van Lewin".
"Strip. Take all your clothes off, leave them on the floor. Except for your underpants. NOW!"
She stands there while I do it. Never moves, not a fraction of an inch. Just stands there looking me over like she's working out what sum to bid at a slave market, all the while emitting vibes of a kind that keep a constant flow of ice water pouring over me. Transformation complete, every word in it etched into my mind.
ICY COLD HEARTLESS UNCARING BITCH.
"Walk over to the sofa. Kneel in the middle of the sofa, facing the bed. Put your hands either side of you palms down on the back of the sofa and lean forward slightly."
She slinks up behind me. I feel her hands either side of my hips. Her thumbs hook into the waist band of my black Y fronts and she jerks them down to my knees. I turn my head. Her right hand strikes like a snake, twists my right ear. Painfully.
"Face front! Spread your legs out, as far as your Y fronts will allow. And cut out your bloody bashful virgin act, it doesn't impress me!" This when I fidget as her hands relentlessly part and squeeze my buttocks, impassively gauging fat score and muscle tone.
She walks off, goes over to the closet, takes off her jacket so as to have the better use of her arms, hangs her jacket up, bustles around getting some things together.
She comes back, three pillows tucked between her left arm and side and a straight three feet long three eighths of an inch thick rattan cane in her right hand. Pauses at the front of the bed, lays down the cane, casually flicks one pillow out so it lands middle of the bed, picks up the cane again, moves behind me with it and the remainder of the pillows. I daren't move. Not that my obedience gets a scintilla of sympathy out of her.
Lays the cane down beside me on the sofa to my right, then moves behind me, doing everything at a carefully measured pace, to build up the tension, no doubt. She'd make a bloody good actress come to think, I'd pay good money to see her on the stage. Except this isn't an act. Can't think what it is, and that's scary too.
Sets up the two pillows in front of me so they're hard up between my lower belly/groin and the back of the sofa. My crown jewels now protected, with some assistance from me on her carefully worded commands, she makes one final inspection, the hangman's last look you might say. She steps back, picks up the cane with her right hand, then moves so she's behind me and to my left.
"Lean all the way forward, put your face in the other pillow and hold onto either side of it. Tightly." All this between experimental swishes of the cane. Leaving me, as intended, vulnerable, exposed, waiting in silence.
"Perfect! I do like to do any job proper Christian RIGHT, first time, and with this one that's all the more important, because this is a ritual, Calvin, a ritual with an opening, a body, and a conclusion."
Oh thanks, so that's what it is, I'd never have guessed that.
"The opening is all about turning you into an object. That's all you are to me now, see, just an object for me to hit. One last thing. Don't even think about pleading for me to stop, or whining to me about how much it hurts. You do either one and you'll soon find you've mistaken me for someone who could give a fuck."
That's the first time I've ever heard her swear, but it's not the use of the word that shocks me, its the way she uses it.
"Do you understand?"
"Yes Miss Van Lewin."
"Good, then on to the scientific application of PAIN."
On a scale of one to ten, no caning I've ever had so far has exceeded six, and as a runner I've learned to ride them out, just taking care not to laugh, but this one STARTS at seven!
SWISH CRACK!!!!! followed by a thump and thousands of angry wasps stinging my arse an instant later, then a deep BURN such as I've never felt in my life. She uses sets of three, with precise pauses in between and a longer pause between sets.
It's all the more agonizing because she is a master at reading body language and using that info to set just the right tempo she wants. So that just as the burn from the last one is fading ever so slightly, another one crashes in, every one delivered in a good and workmanlike fashion. There's hardly a carpenter I've ever seen who could have nailed off a floor by hand as methodically.
Each is almost a pistol shot loud, and a million flash bulbs go off inside my head, every time. I can't yell even if I want to, because it's all I can do to keep breathing. The blows knock the breath out of me. This is no middle distance run, this is a marathon.
Then from somewhere I hear someone moaning, in between tears. Just as I realize that someone's ME, an almost disembodied voice says firmly, "Six more and that's it". The cane balances on my quivering backside. "Keep STILL! These will really hurt!"
SWISH CRACK!!!! SWISH CRACK!!!! SWISH CRACK!!! SWISH CRACK!!!! SWISH CRACK!!!! SWISH CRACK!!!!!!!
Hurt? Jesus fornicatin' CHRIST they hurt! They slam home in a blur, a red ROAR of pain that leaves me gasping, almost uncertain where I am, nothing but a crying, moaning, broken wreck. Vaguely I can make out footsteps and the closet door opening again. It shuts. More footsteps.
Then she's sitting on the bed, softly stroking my hair and my neck. "It's over, it's over, it's OVER"
"Arghh! You sadistic bitch!"
She isn't the least put out by the unusual salutation. She simply pulls the pillow out from under my face, pushes it to my left, gently puts her hands under my chin and lifts my head up so I can see her eyes again. Her face crinkles with amusement, and the vibes are warm again. She mulls my words over.
"Bitch? H'mm, fair enough. But did I not warn you I'd turn into a bitch? And have you ever known me waste my breath on idle threats? Sadistic? Noooo. I TOLD you it would hurt, I just didn't say how much. And how much, that's a wee bit subjective, isn't it? It's you inside that skin of yours, not I. Besides which, you've done your level best to earn this over the last year, and now you've got it, I don't see where you have any cause for complaint. Next time, be more careful what you wish for, eh?"
'Yes Miss Van Lewin" I can only just get that out between choked back groans.
More hair and neck stroking. "Sandra".
"Is it really over?"
"Yes, unless you'd like me to bring the cane back so you can kiss the bloody thing!"
"UGH! Why would I want to do that?"
"Oh, if I were a religious person, a reg'lar church crawlin' mongrel that is, I'd MAKE you kiss it. That's biblical, I'd have you know! Then I'd make you get dressed and walk home, in the pissing down rain and all."