We all have them: those difficult phases when nothing goes right. The Baxter household was going through a particularly tough period. First, the gardener left to run a bar in a Spanish resort. Then the cleaner was poached by the neighbours. The dog attacked the cat and left it with a permanent limp before getting knocked down by an ice cream van and suffering near-fatal injuries.
And Marjorie Baxter found her husband in bed with the illiterate bimbo he passed off as his secretary.
Whether it was the injured dog or the scheming typist that formed the final straw, Marjorie decided she could take no more. She packed a couple of cases, called a taxi and booked into a hotel in the next town. It solved nothing, but it gave her a respite and allowed Colin time to make amends.
Sure enough, two days later he telephoned, full of abject apologies and promises of a better future.
‘I’ve persuaded the Hendersons’ housekeeper to come to us,’ he boasted. ‘And she’s agreed to live in, starting today, so we can leave all the domestic stuff to her.’
‘And I’ve paid the vet’s bills. The cat’s back home and Jonty’s progressing well; he’ll be back in the kennel next week with any luck.’
‘I’ve given Mandy two weeks’ notice and asked an agency to get me a new secretary. I specified someone over forty, with good qualifications.’
He was wheedling; desperate to appease his wife. He knew he sounded weak but he did not care. He just wanted Marjorie back home with him. After all, they had a dinner party organised for Friday, and nothing had been done about menus and seating arrangements. He waited for her response, knowing she was enjoying his discomfort.
‘No, don’t sack her,’ she finally said. ‘I’ve a much better idea. I’ll be home tomorrow to explain it to you.’
The following morning, Marjorie Baxter walked into an immaculate house with the smell of fresh coffee and polish much in evidence. The new housekeeper could be heard working in the kitchen, where she remained unobtrusively waiting to be summoned. However, at that time, Marjorie was not the least bit interested in the budget for breakfast cereal or the advantages of concentrated washing-up liquids.
Colin was in the dining room, uncertain about how to greet his wife. So he was relieved when she immediately took charge of the conversation.
‘I don’t see the point in getting rid of Mandy: you’ll only find another little trollop as soon as she’s gone, so you might as well keep her. On the other hand, I don’t want her thinking she’s got any rights or privileges just because she rumples our duvet occasionally. If she learns her place and stays in it, I’ll have no objections. Anyway, I said George could borrow her for an experiment.’
‘A chap I met at the hotel. Some kind of inventor; wants his latest project to have a road test before he markets it. I thought your little strumpet might be just what he’s looking for.’
Colin was suspicious, but was not sure why. Certainly, Marjorie had always been singularly tolerant of his little flings, but she had never become actively involved with any of them before. He wondered how Mandy would react.
Later that afternoon, Marjorie escorted a confused Colin and Mandy back to the hotel she had been using. A middle-aged man with a waistcoat and pipe was waiting for them in an empty lounge, booked for the occasion. He stood up with old-fashioned courtesy as they entered and formally shook hands with them all.
‘George Jenkins; pleased to meet you. I trust Marjorie has explained my little gadget to you?’
Marjorie smiled; Colin and Mandy looked at each other for support; something to do with training was all they had been able to glean from Marjorie.
‘Well then. Let’s get straight down to business, shall we?’ George said heartily. ‘Just slip your leggings down, girl, and we’ll make a start. Six okay with everyone?’
‘Six?’ echoed Colin.
‘Oh Colin,’ Marjorie laughed, ‘I explained about George’s caning machine. He needs to try it out and Mandy needs a spanking for being such a naughty girl with her boss, so I’ve brought the two of them together.’ She turned to Mandy, who had gone very pale. ‘Come on, Amanda, do as the nice man says or he might have to increase it to a dozen.’
There was a moment of intense indecision. Mandy stood looking sexily athletic in a dark vest, leggings and trainers and her fair hair tumbling loose as though she had just completed a gentle work-out. Colin stared at his wife, thinking he should challenge her but knowing he could never do so. George wondered what the delay was for and how officious he could be in hurrying things along. And Marjorie was quietly triumphant.
‘Come on, Mandy. Bare your bottom and kneel on the chair. George needs to get his apparatus lined up. Perhaps Colin would like to hold your hands, so you won’t be tempted to get them in the way of the cane.’
Her husband moved like an automaton to help his mistress in her hour of discomfort and Mandy took this as a signal to go along with his wife’s bizarre revenge on her. She lowered her leggings to her thigh-tops and knelt on the chair, knowing protests would be futile. Anyway, she was certain the gadget would not work. And if it did, it wouldn’t hurt.
It took George a few minutes to fix the machine to a table and adjust it to the right height and length. He seemed confident in its ability to do the job and gave a running commentary about what he was doing and how effective it would be in administering thorough chastisements without causing fatigue or distress to the punisher.
At last all was ready.
‘I just pull back here and release the spring and....’
None of them, least of all Mandy, were prepared for the speed with which the cane sliced through the air and struck home on the girl’s outthrust haunches. She yelled and writhed, clinging tightly to Colin’s wrists as George made some more adjustments.
‘A little higher, I believe,’ he murmured almost absent-mindedly to himself. The first stroke made an initial pink line just above the rumpled leggings but it quickly blossomed into a mauve ridge. Its colour was still deepening as the second stroke landed, swiftly and loudly on the full meaty curves of Mandy’s buttocks. She screamed through clenched teeth, too shocked to articulate the curses that formed in her brain.
The third stroke was less effective, coming much higher on her bottom-cheeks where there was less fat and more bone. This time there were tears and pleads for mercy, offers of resignation and promises of chastity — all to no avail.
Marjorie halted the proceedings to inspect progress: three parallel lines in different stages of development. The first had already taken on the traditional ‘tramline’ appearance and the second was quickly copying it. The third would not amount to much more than a single red streak, but she did not doubt it was causing its fair share of discomfort. She signalled to George to carry on and the fourth swipe bit deep and low.
This time the oaths burst forth. Marjorie remarked cattily that she had not realised Mandy’s vocabulary extended to words of two syllables, but her victim was beyond hearing her. She was bouncing on the seat, trying to cool her angry nates, desperate to soothe her burning flesh.
For the fifth stroke, George had her thrust her rump out further so that the cane had less distance to travel to its target. It landed with a thud, driving her hips forward, leaving its signature in a double line that turned scarlet, white, purple and pink, its edges fuzzing and raising up even as they watched.
She knew the next would be the last blow she would have to endure but it was no easier to bear for all that. George set the mechanism so that the arc was extended and the impetus the cane gathered on its journey made its final impact truly awesome.
She knew that was the last one; she knew her punishment was over. She knew she was free to continue her affair with Colin or quit as she chose and that Marjorie would not bear a grudge. She knew all that, deep in the recesses of her mind, but at that moment nothing mattered — nothing existed — except for the raging pain in her bottom. She thrashed about on the seat, lacking the wit to get up until Colin moved to comfort her.
Marjorie and George insisted on a close inspection of their artwork and had her pose lewdly to show her ‘war wounds’ to their best effect. They debated dispassionately on the relative merits of the different settings and the aesthetic appeal of the various welts. Their one regret appeared to be that they had not had the opportunity to experiment further.
Mandy had expected a lecture from Marjorie at least and felt almost slighted when the other woman merely told her to adjust her clothing and leave. She looked to Colin for moral and physical support, but he looked away, clearly embarrassed and a little repelled.
And so it came to her: she was the only loser in this strange scene. Colin no longer desired her either as a secretary or a mistress; Marjorie had exacted her revenge in an apparently civilised way; George had been able to test out his creation.
She did not say goodbye as she left.