It had not been a good day for Emma. First, she had been late for work. Then, she’d dropped a pile of plates on the way out of the kitchen, smashing the lot – and wasting four people’s food. Mr. Hogan would not be pleased – and now she had been summoned to see him He was a miserable man at the best of times – ran the cafe with an iron fist, and not a man to cross.
“Mr. Hogan – you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Emma. Can you think why?”
“Well, Mr. Hogan, I’m really sorry about the plates. It’s just – as I came out of the kitchen, a customer almost walked into me, and I had to swerve to avoid him. And….”
“Twenty-one pounds, that cost us.”
“Yes, I know, but it was an accident – it’s the first time it’s ever happened.”
“Well…. And was there something else you needed to talk to be about?”
“Err… I know I was a bit late this morning, but the bus got caught in traffic – I couldn’t help it.”
“I’m not interested in the bus – all I know is that you are paid to be here by 11 a.m., and this morning you weren’t here until 11.20. How you get here is your problem – so long as you do get here on time.”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan, I understand. But it is the first time I’ve been late.”
“And I hope for your sake it’s the last. Listen to me, Emma – I pride myself on running a tight ship here. Polly’s is a good cafe – it’s well run, it’s in the good food guide, I make money from it. And slovenliness isn’t part of the gameplan. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan”
“Right. Well, I think I’ve made myself understood. Now, there’s work to do – the customers for dinner will be in any moment, so get about your duties. And I hope it won’t be necessary for us to have a little chat like this again.”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan. I’m sorry. Thank you…”
It was true. Polly’s was good – always busy with tourists, lots of satisfied customers. She could think of worse summer jobs – eight weeks between finishing her A Levels and starting at Oxford: just enough to earn a bit of money for a holiday before going up for freshers week. And with her parents still in France – well, she felt quite adult, going out to work, looking after the house….
Of course, the whole place was a bit old-fashioned. Like the dresses they had to wear: trying to make them look like eighteenth-century maids, or something! Combined with Hogan’s policy of employing only pretty girls – mostly slim, blondes like her – there was almost something strange about it! But the other girls were good company – quite a few had been with her in the sixth-form at the public school up the road, so all in all things were OK. Still – seeing Hogan like that made her feel like a naughty thirteen year old: she hoped she’d be able to keep out of his way for a few weeks. At least Wednesday was his night off, so he wouldn’t be around that evening.
Dinner that night went smoothly – busy, but not too much so. One difficult old couple, but she felt like she handled them well. Until…. they were the last group in, six of them – all in their fifties or thereabouts, smartly dressed, obviously friends. Nothing seemed quite right for them – one of them had a dirty knife, another didn’t like the vegetarian starters, they wanted tap water not Perrier. And spoke to her like she was a servant….
It was when she brought the starters out – she’d known that six was too much on one tray, but the chef had just kept piling them on, laughing. And as she got to the table, she lost balance, and the whole lot went tumbling down. If it had just fallen on the floor, it might have been OK – but the soup went right over one of the group. Right over – into his lap. He screamed out – it must have been quite hot – and chaos ensued. Diners shouting at her, the head waiter trying to calm them down, trying to dry off the soup, apologizing – and then the group stormed out.
“We’d get better service in a Little Chef than this,” they shouted. And they didn’t pay the bill for the wine they’d drunk, or the aperitifs.
Emma was quite shaken – thank goodness Hogan wasn’t in, or he’d have sacked her on the spot! She managed to get through serving desserts to the other three tables who were still in – although rather absent-mindedly: here heart wasn’t in it. She just wanted to go home. Finally, the last group cleared off, and she was able to leave.
She got home at 11. She decided to slip into her dressing gown – get rid of that awful dress! As she took it off, she felt something in her pocket. She pulled it out. Oh no – it was the tip that the last table had given her. Ten pounds – very generous. They’d left it on the table for her after they’d gone, and she’d found it while she was clearing up, and just stuffed it into her pocket whilst she cleared up – and then she’d only forgotten to put it into the kitty to be shared out with the other staff… Well, she’d just have to give it in in the morning.
11.10 . The bus was late – again. What was happening to the traffic in this town? She knew it was peak season for tourists, but this was getting ridiculous. And after yesterday, as well…
She rushed into Polly’s, and went to hang up her jacket in the staff room, when she heard the head waiter’s voice.
“EMMA! Hogan wants to see you in his office NOW! And I warn you – he’s in a foul mood with you, so watch out!”
Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. She was in trouble now. Would he sack her? Or dock her wages? But she really needed to save up for her holiday. She reached Hogan’s door, and knocked.
She went in, nervously, shutting the door behind her.
“Well, it’s Emma. Sit down.” He waived at the chair in front of his desk.
“Nice of you to join us this morning, Emma.”
“Sorry, Mr. Hogan – the traffic: it’s really bad this week.”
“And is there an earlier bus?”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan – but it’s an hour earlier, so I’d get here really early.”
“Better early than late, my girl. Well, then – yesterday you were late, then dropped £21’s worth of food. And promised me it wouldn’t happen again. And this morning I come in to listen to an irate phone call from a good customer of ours about your incompetence YET AGAIN. And it cost me another twenty-five pounds in drinks they wouldn’t pay for, never mind the cost of their dinners they didn’t eat. And then you’re late. AGAIN.”
“I’m really sorry – I had a bad day.”
“Well, it’s not good enough”
“No, Sir, it’s not.”
“And then there’s the other matter.”
“What do you mean, ‘what’s that?’ Why don’t you have a little think?”
Silence. What could he mean?
“I’m sorry – I really don’t know.”
“Theft, my girl.”
“THEFT? But that’s nonsense… How dare you?”
“So the Peters didn’t leave a tip, last night? How odd – they’re normally so generous.”
“Oh.” The ten pounds. She brightened. “That’s all right, Mr. Hogan – I just slipped it into my pocket while I was clearing up, and found it when I got home. I must have forgotten – I’ve got it with me to put into the kitty this morning.”
“And you think I believe that?”
“But… but it’s the truth! Why would I want to steal ten pounds?”
“I thought you were saving up…? Maybe you wanted to off-set any cut in your wages this week for the money you lost me yesterday?”
“No, Mr. Hogan, that’s not fair…”
“Well, perhaps the police will be able to judge that.” He reached for the phone.
“No, no, please.”
“Well, why on earth not?”
“But that’s so unfair. I didn’t steal it – it was a mistake.”
“Well, you can tell that to Constable Jones, no doubt.”
He paused, and looked her up and down. He leant forward, voice lowered. “So what do you suggest?”
“Whatever, sir. Sack me – I’ll go straight away. And – and you won’t have to pay my wages for this week either.” He looked unconvinced. “Or next week… I’ll stay a week and work free for you”
“So you think you can buy me off from reporting a theft by offering to waive two week’s wages? You’re about to be reported to the police – you’ll probably loose your place at Oxford, even if they don’t put you away, you’ll struggle to find a job with a criminal record – and you suggest waiving two-hundred pounds or so of wages?”
“Well, Sir, I don’t know what else…” She was becoming desperate, almost tearful.
“How did they punish thieves at your posh school, I wonder…?”
“I don’t know, Mr. Hogan. Probably expelled them, I should think.”
“Oh – I thought they had other remedies…”
She looked puzzled – then a horrible thought occurred to her. “You don’t mean..”
“Mean what, Emma?”
“I mean – no – you don’t mean caning…?”
“Well actually, that IS how I thought they would have dealt with it. So I thought you might prefer that, to resolve this little problem.”
“But Mr. Hogan…” The thought was just too awful.
“OK, then, the police it is. But never forget I tried to help you.” Hogan reached for the phone.
“NO! No – I need time to think.”
“You have one minute.” He looked up at the clock, and started drumming his fingers on the desk.
My god. The cane. From this man! No! She’d never even been smacked by her parents, never mind beaten. But otherwise – the police! And what if Oxford did decide they didn’t want her. No! And surely it couldn’t hurt that much?
“I need a decision, Emma – which is it to be?”
“I – I’ll take the cane, Sir. But – but you won’t tell my parents, will you?”
“Well, here’s the deal. I will cane you this evening, after dinner. And I will cane you hard. And you will take the punishment that I choose to give you, without objection. And neither of us will mention this, at any time, to anyone else. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan.”
“Right. Well, you have a day’s work to do. I will see you in the restaurant after the last guests have left tonight – you should wait behind after the other staff have gone.”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan.”
“Well get to it, girl, don’t hang around.”
“Yes, Mr. Hogan.” Emma got up and left the room, her hands shaking as she opened the door. She headed straight from the office to the ladies toilet, and put down the seat to sit and think. The cane! This was awful. And she hadn’t been stealing. Would it hurt? My god.
There was a rattling at the door – someone was trying to come in. She’d better go to work – she stood up, flushed the loo, then stepped out to try to do a day’s waiting on tables…
11.00 . The last diners were leaving. The Head Waiter waved to Emma: “you can go now, if you want!”
“Actually, I wanted to have a word with Mr. Hogan – I’ll hold on.”
“OK.” Max, the Head Waiter pulled on his leather jacket, and made his way to the door. “Don’t stay too late!” he called over his shoulder, and waved his goodbye.
Alone. The lights dimmed in the restaurant. She had never felt so alone in her life. What if she ran – didn’t come back? But no, Hogan would call the police.
She’d brought her jacket down – but Hogan was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, the door opened, and in he strode. “Good evening, Emma. No disasters today, I see.”
“No Sir”. She had never been so careful in her life as waiting during that afternoon and evening.
“Right – to business. Let’s not hang around. Would you like to tell me in your own words why we’re here?”
She hesitated. “Well, Mr Hogan – I was late, then I had some accidents, then there was the confusion over the tip….”
“And so….?” vbcrlfvbcrlf”And so you’re going to punish me.”
“And why is that?”
“Because… because I don’t want you to go to the police.”
“Right. Now, let’s be very clear about this. I am going to beat you, and I am going to beat you very hard. If you have any problem with that, say now, otherwise from here on in you do exactly what I say.”
“No, Sir, I mean, that’s fine. I’ll take my punishment.”
“Right, then.” Hogan picked up a chair from one of the tables, and placed it in the middle of the floor. “I’d like you to take your clothes off, now, please.”
“No buts – you agreed to take the punishment. It’s too late to argue. Now you undress, while I go and sort out something to beat you with.” Hogan strode off, taking out the keys to the cleaning cupboard.
Trembling, Emma started to strip off. She pulled her dress over her head, leave only her stockings, bra and pants. As she looked up, she saw Hogan returning with a long stick in his hands. On closer inspection, it was a cane – just like they must have used at school.
“Well, girl, get on with it.”
“Sir?” vbcrlfvbcrlf”Get the rest of your clothes off. You have one minute, and woe betide you if you aren’t naked by then.”
She pulled off her stockings, then stood up and unclipped her bra. She could feel him watching her, lapping up her nakedness. And now she had no choice but to pull down her knickers, and take them off, adding them to the pile of clothes on the table. She tried to cover herself from his gaze as best she could, as he looked her naked body up and down.
“Hands by your side.”
So she was exposed totally to him.
“Now then. We need to decide what punishment to give you. I’ve been fortunate in being able to borrow this cane from a friend of mine who teaches locally, so all we need to do now is decide on the number of strokes. How many strokes do you think you deserve for being late yesterday?”
“I don’t know, Mr Hogan – one?”
“Yes, that seems about right. And for dropping the plates at lunch time?”
“Mmm – OK, OK. Now, spilling the soup last night?”
Surely this was worse. “Two, Sir?”
“Well I’d thought three actually, so we’ll make it three. And then you were late this morning – how many?”
“Well, you’d had a warning about punctuality, so I think we’ll make it two for a second offence. And that just leaves the stealing.”
She paused. “Three?”
“Well why don’t we say five, and that will round it up to a nice dozen. Is that OK with you?”
A dozen! “Yes, Sir.”
“Right – well, we’d better get down to business, then.” He barked out his order: “I want you to bend over the back of that chair, and hold on to the legs at the front.”
She walked round the chair, and lent forwards over its high wooden back, reaching forward for the top of the front legs.
“That’s not good enough. I want your legs apart – touching the inside of the back legs of the chair, and I want you to hold onto the very bottom of the front legs.”
She adjusted her position, straining forwards to adopt the posture he had recommended. She felt totally exposed, this man standing behind her, looking at her as she offered her backside to him. She prayed that he could not see her private parts, and tried to keep the tops of her thighs as together as much as she could..
“Now, stay in that position. If you get up from it, the stroke won’t count. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Sir.” The moment of truth was arriving – Hogan was flexing the cane alarmingly in his hand.
“And I’d like you to count the stokes out as we go.”
He turned and stepped back. He had positioned the chair just next to the entrance to the room, so had plenty of space to swing the dreaded rod. He placed it gently across the centre of her buttocks – lining it up on her – and tapped it gently. She could hardly bear this: she wanted to jump up and run away – but she knew that whatever he did, it couldn’t be worse than the alternatives.
She shut her eyes. She felt a rush of air as Hogan whisked the cane down across her backside.
At first, she felt nothing – the blow numbed her. But then – but then. It felt as if someone was branding her – the pain scorched through her whole body like nothing she had ever felt before. She held onto the chair legs desperately.
Again, he brought the stick down. Another blow – just above the first. And again, a few seconds later, the agony, spreading across her backside and through her.
He paused. Stepped back, then delivered another cracking stroke, below the other two. She gasped with pain. This was unbearable.
“You aren’t counting, girl.”
“Sorry – sorry. That’s three.”
“Yes. One for being late yesterday, one for dropping the plates, and the first of the spilled soup.”
Again he came forward. Thwack! Again, just below the previous stroke – she could hardly bear it. “Four sir.”
Thwack! The fifth blow was the hardest yet – across the top of her buttocks. She was now sobbing with pain – how could she keep going for another seven?
“Sorry, sir. Five, sir.”
“And that completes the strokes for the spilled soup. Now onto those for being late this morning.”
As the sixth stroke landed, she could stand no more. She jumped up, grasping her burning buttocks, feeling with horror the swollen weals across them.
“Get back down, girl. And that one doesn’t count.”
Gingerly, she bent forward, and watched him walk back – he was going to take a run-up at her! She stared ahead, fixing her gaze on the wall, and determined to try to block out what this man was doing to her.
“Sorry – seven, Sir.”
“No, six – the one before that didn’t count.”
“No, sir, sorry, sir – six.”
A pause. Footsteps. Thwack! She caught her breath, stopping herself from crying out.
“So that’s for spilling the soup.”
She could feel him behind her – she opened her eyes, and saw him lift the stick – no run-up this time.
“Aaaargh.” She couldn’t control herself, as the tears streamed down her face. “Eight.”
Thwack. “Nine.” Thwack. “TEN,” she cried out. He’d delivered the last three in quick succession, right on top of one another, across the bottom of her buttocks – right where it joined the top of her thighs.
He was walking away again – stick high in the air. Running forwards. THWACK!
“Aaargh.” Again she jumped up, clutching her behind.
“Look at me, Emma.”
She turned to face her tormentor, hardly able to see him through the veil of tears. He placed the tip of the cane under her chin, and lifted it up.
“You are going to take these strokes properly. Do you understand?”
“Well get over”.
She shut her eyes. THWACK! Unbelievable pain – he’d angled the strokes across her buttocks, from bottom left to top right, re-igniting the pain of all the other lashes.
And now – again. Only one more – she must stay down.
THWACK. “Aaahhh.” She bit her lip, holding onto the chair as tightly as she could.
“Twelve, Sir,” she sobbed.
“Good. Now stand up and get dressed. And don’t play with your buttocks.”
Trough a haze, she found her bra, and – fumbling – put it back on. Then the stockings, pulled up gingerly. It was agony just to bend forward to pull them up. Then… she stepped into her panties, and pulled them up her legs so slowly, feeling as they reached the top how swollen her buttocks were: they must have been swollen to twice their usual size! And then the hated dress, over her head and shaking it down over her legs. She wiped her face with her sleeve, trying to brush away the tears.
“Well, young lady, let that be a lesson to you. Polly’s cannot stand for the sort of behaviour you have shown, and I hope you won’t forget your lesson in a hurry.”
“No, Sir.” There was no chance of that.
“Well get your jacket on and go.”
She walked across the room, and put on her black jacket. She turned back, and walked towards the door. “Sorry, sir, for any trouble.”
“Go home, Emma. And we won’t hear any more about this.”
And she turned and opened the door, and made her way out of the cafe into the cold night air…