Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reform Chapter Two

Chapter Two

We Forge the Hairbrushes We’re Spanked with in Life

My roommate’s birthday was coming up, and I wanted to give her a pint of whiskey. So I went to Upton Sinclair. Lisa Upton was out attending her weekly Manners in Society class, but Lisa Sinclair was home and ready to trade.

Reading on her stomach on her bunk. Hmmm…. I’m no detective, but… nah, don’t jump to conclusions, Danny girl. Just close the door behind you and take a look at the wears.

‘Danny! Welcome. Social call, or are you going to give me more of your sweet, sweet money?’ Sinclair was a nasal Bostonian all the way -- I cringed when she said “hard” like “aaaaaaarrrrrrrrddddddddd” but she was a capitalist and co-ran the only game in town so I made the effort.

‘I’m in the market for my hooch.’ I sat down and let my hair down and my feet up. I like my hair covering my eyes when I barter.

‘Nah, sister, fresh out.’


‘Notre Dame and LSU are in the playoffs together and O’Shannassy, O’Toole, O’Brian, Collens, Tibideaux, Geoffres, Savoy, Legrand, and Le Blank cleaned me out.’

‘Damn it!’

‘Easy, easy. I’ve got three labels of vodka and a lovely ambrosia named “Chiraz” which I think they named after an elf in Lord of the Rings but I can‘t be sure because I‘ve only seen the movies. Wicked awesome, though.’

‘I only drink my label, and I need it by tomorrow.’

‘Why tomorrow?’

‘Lauren’s birthday.’

‘Lauren is a Bloody Mary so take the Grey Goose, I’ll throw in the tomatoes. And the bow. Wicked awesome. What’s wrong with that gift?’ She was a capitalist all right, but so was I.

‘Because after I give her the Jack she will feel obliged to share with me, her super awesome thoughtful roommate. Now if you don’t have it, can you get it? Here, let me…’ I saw that she needed to check the train lines she kept in a special code of notes and underlining in her DDU/FA Comparative Ethics textbook (give me an hour alone with that book and I‘d be a millionaire), but she didn’t want to get up from her bunk, so I brought the book to her.

‘Thanks.’ Sinclair leafed through it, getting her mind in code mode. She rubbed her bottom with her free hand. I could smell that pungent Relief Cold Cream that was more and more popular these days. It didn’t sooth as well, it crusted too fast, and I disliked the smell. All that said, it was cheaper, but I preferred my Essence of Gentle Cloud. It heals faster, cools the burn, and smells like vacation. I am available for endorsements.

Her keen greedy eyes must have seen my nose crinkle. ’Sorry about the odor. Evil-Lyn wasn’t pleased with the slight tear at the corner of her new Governor Liz Phair campaign poster, so she gave me a lecture on a proper work ethic and attention to details.’

‘With her heuristic hairbrush?’



‘Bitch indeed. Bitch she is, but she paid full price and put in some fat orders and sold me a garbage bag of the Relief Cold Cream for a very reasonable price, so she warmed my greedy, greedy heart.’

‘You’re trying to trick me into making a pun about your butt getting warmed, but I’m not falling for it.’

‘No dice on the Jack, but I’m getting some Crown Royal in tonight.’

‘Elitist hogwater!‘ I stood up to leave. ’This school’s black market needs competition, and if you don’t get me my fix, I’m going to…’

‘Black markets work like Walmart, sweetheart. There are no anti-trust laws. This place is like the DDU.’

‘Spare me foreign political modes, moneylender and fish monger; I’m acing it. Fine. I’ll catch my own damn fish.’

‘Easy, easy… Look, I’m embarrassed. If you can run a line on a pint I’ll get you what you need to barter at only a reasonable profit to myself. And to my partner.’ She was quick to add.

‘What do ya got?’

‘New shipment of silk. Everyone loves silk, and we‘ve been dry for two months so everyone wants to get well.’ She beamed at me.

I kept my hard look under my loose hair, but that silk could help, and silk at only a reasonable profit I could float.

‘How much do you have?’

‘Yaaaaaaarrrrrrrrddddddddds and yaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrddddddddddds!’

* * *

I beat it to my room to have dinkum thinkum.

Prying booze from the sports fans would be a waste of time due to the college pride. Pride is just too expensive. I lay on my bunk, watching Lauren, sweet dependable Lauren, copy the questions for next week’s Civics exam to sell, in solido, to Unit 3A; half the profits going to our dream of a mini-frig of our very own. Lauren can tend the rabbits. She was so helpful. I had to get her that birthday present!

A confident knock on the door startled Lauren into a fit. She fumbled with the stolen papers, demanding absolute attention to the exact thing in the room we don’t want the goonlets looking at, and dooming us both to at least two spankings, and probably an appointment to The Office for some of Gregor’s “wood lecture.“ I’ve told her and told her… goonlets don’t find crimes—criminals reveal crimes. I wanted to spank her, and if she didn’t get wise soon I just very well may. Not mean, like a goonlet, but like a concerned older sister. Or maybe I’d spank her precious teddy bear, Dr. Featherstone. It would probably make the ditz cry harder than the cane.

I slammed the civics book shut on the papers and said ’Come in’ wide smiling like Donna Read.

It was Ash. ’Hey.’ She nodded to Lauren, who put her face in her hands to hide her embarrassment. What a shy little nineteen year old for another day she was. She needed the whiskey almost as much as I did. Ash looked at me. She had a solid look that forced a return. ’Hey, I have those history notes for you. Come on.’

I pet Lauren and followed Ash to her room. Her roommate wasn’t in. She closed the door, and stood close to me so we could talk low.

‘What’s up?’ I asked.

She gave me that wide, open mouth smile she, and she alone, has. It wasn’t gleeful, but there was play involved. She gave it to collect her thoughts and set the dialogue off on her beat.

‘I need to borrow a wetsuit.’

‘You can’t get out through the sewers.’

‘Yes I could, but that’s not what I need it for.’

‘I don’t scuba dive myself, at least while I’m in central Texas. Jaws scared me as a kid.’ She drilled me with her eyes, costing her absolutely no effort and sapping me of resolve to be cool. I had to harden myself because I felt an urge to want to give the nut a wetsuit, and that’s a bad business strategy, even for a friend. Wait, when did Ash become my friend?

‘I already got a line, but I need a master to VB’s inner office, and I need a reliable reader for a night run tonight.’ Damn, she’s picking up what the Romans do fast. ’Heather, Katherine, Kathy T, Becky, Leshonda, and Senator Gail are out. They’re still jittery from the Dorm Invasion last week.’

Kathy T wasn’t jittery, Kathy T was wounded and medivacked behind the lines; but Ash was right, good help was going to be hard to find for a while. Except for Kathy T, who was in the shower and modest, all of our friends got out in time (Gail and Heather didn’t get into a fight until later that day). I would have run down Time Squire naked to get away from Gregor‘s redirected aggression, but Kathy T was of a Puritan blue bloodline, yet I bet those six welts on her ass were bright red.

I’m serious about the bet. Any takers? I need the scratch. Refusing to touch my reserve, and the Mini-frig Fund being sacrosanct, left me with forty bucks, three packets of cigarettes, a three month old pristine issue of Vanity Fair, three of the four perfume advertising packets I tore out of the Vanity Fair (man, that Frenchy chemist who made Le Espirit is a freaking genius), a black and white photograph of Steve McQueen working on a car engine I cut out of the Vanity Fair, and finally my charming disposition allocated to invest into Operation Jack Now.

Ash was going all in, a risky play, but it was the only game in town. Desperate times…

My bank of trusty and capable girls stood larger than Ash’s, but resources were tight, the mood was bad, and Van Brown wasn’t a goon to idly annoy. Coach Van Brown was the strongest fish in this pond, and as she says, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!” so she bruises “One-hundred and ten percent!” of any bottom that needs a little “shot in the arm!” I shouldn’t be critical. She helped me lose and keep off twenty pounds and cut three minutes off my two-mile the good old fashion way: by beating the crap out of me. I wonder if the Spartans spanked each other?

Ash waited for me. ’What about a key to the gym?’ I asked.

‘No, I got a way around that.’

‘OK, I’ll get a reader, but I need a pint of Jack Daniels tonight.’

‘Good, because I got a liter of Coke for Lauren. All we need is ice, and I share a sandblaster in shop with a girl works in the mess.’

I forced my face not to show shock. Did they know each other like that? How did Ash know it was Lauren’s birthday tomorrow? And how the Hell did I not know about their friendship until now? And what kind of an animal would mix the best whiskey in the world with Coke?

You chase whiskey with Coke. I live among savages.

‘Do you have a line on any Jack?’

The smile again, but now her bright beautiful blue eyes slanted in conflict. Sigh, now what?



‘Evelyn Gruber.’




Evelyn “Evil-Lyn” Gruber was the meanest goonlet in Southdown‘s history -- I think she’s even known nationally. I heard that when she found out that trusties in Reform Schools have great discretion in administering corporeal punishment, she ate a cop’s puppy alive right in front of his kids just to get invited to the party. I don’t know if that’s true, but it fit’s the profile.

A deal with the head goonlet, captain of all my enemies? Her business ethics were top notch. She never crawfished, but still, she was the earthly manifestation of Cold Hearted Puppy Eating Evil.

‘OK… to every problem there is a solution.’ Ash was very positive. She held out her hands like I could toss the solution to her like it were a softball. ‘What does Evelyn want?’

‘A Liz Phair poster without a slight tear in the top right corner.’

‘I only have Exile to Guysville, and it’s scratched.’

‘I’ve got a good deal on yyyyaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrdddddsssss of silk.’

‘No good I hear. Evelyn loaded up after dumping a bag of cans on the market. But get me a coil, would you? I’m good for it.’

Tracy, Ash’s roommate, burst in the room and slammed the door shut. She leaned on the door like a horde of zombies were out there. Her gym uniform covered in sweat, she gasped for air. I looked at Ash, who shrugged.

‘Ghah…. Gha…. She‘s she‘s… gone insane….’

* * *

Then up went down, black went white, and the whole school fell down the red-tailed rabbit hole.

The whole school bustled with fear and celebration because Evil-Lyn broke her antique hairbrush on Sinclair’s ass. Sinclair’s rear end wasn’t any tougher than anybody else’s, her bottom simply had the dubious honor of being the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Ancient Egyptians made hairbrushes to last.

Big deal, right? One hairbrush is another, right? Let me tell you something: you could take a pizza out of an oven with that thing. You could row a canoe up Niagra Falls. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but only due to trauma. Countless times I’ve been over Evil-Lyn’s lap, panties uselessly around me knees just when I needed them the most, my track team honed backside getting POUNDED by that venerable masterpiece of overkill. It’s worse than a huge paddle, because a hairbrush has a higher rate of fire. In the time it takes to spank once with a sorority paddle, I’ve lost count of how many smackers I’ve caught from the brush. And it’s over the knees, which is just degrading, and the carpet around here is a really boring gray. Sometimes I dreamed about it.

These types of hairbrushes can’t be manufactured anymore due to the Geneva Convention. The fanny fanner had been passed down Evelyn’s family line, generation to generation, ever since the Spanish Inquisition, and she no doubt had dreams of one day handing it down to her spawn.

Today, history broke.

And so did Evil-Lyn. She was on a rampage, spanking every bottom she could find with a wooden handled strap with a sting yellow-jackets worship as a god, vowing to spank every bottom everyday until one of us invented a time machine, went back to the sacking of Troy to get her another such hairbrush from Achilles, who used one as a weapon. People were afraid to leave their rooms, or even the space beneath their bunks. Tracy had just finished gym, and was no doubt near dead then, but when she got the news she ran around the school, the long way, to get to her dorm room and hide.

‘Great! We’ll never be able to find…” Ash cut me off, and asked where Evil-Lyn was now.

Ash, on hearing, rushed to the raging goonlet. I grabbed her, desperate to save her life, as her bottom must still be devastated from her epic caning only eleven days prior. The coach did a good job of spanking the art of Greco-Roman wrestling into me, yet Ash shrugged me off without breaking her stride.

I asked Tracy who already caught it, she told me Legrand, so I told Tracy and Lauren to go hide in Legrand’s room because lightning doesn’t strike twice, and then I beat it after Ash, cursing myself for joining forces with a suicidal idiot that was far stronger than me.

I could hear the strap at work fifty feet down the hall and around the corner. I rushed to the corner and peaked over, careful to be extra sneaky. Senator Gail had her hands on the wall, her panties down, as Evil-Lyn gave Gail’s ample rump her patented “Hopper”, an up swing of a strap that nails the skin where the ass and thigh meet, just like the butt owner‘s manual advised against. As I counted Hop nineteen, the tall and stately Senator Gail almost hitting her head on the ceiling, I remembered the day Evil-Lyn demonstrated her Hopper on me in a nearby hallway for being prettier than her.

Oh, Evil-Lyn is gorgeous in a Beer commercial, B slasher movie sort of way, but I had that special prettiness that sells big budget productions because teenage girls can relate (hint hint, movie industry).

When she was done getting her fun, she Snapped me (our skirts have a loop at the rear hem that loops over a cloth hook at the bottom of our shirts, thus Snapping is when they announce the end of your punishment by lowering your skirt. I find the bastard that thought that up...) She said, “I hope you enjoyed the first of many, many talks with me, Danny,” as I pulled my panties up and rubbed the sting out.

“Could you make it eight love pats next time- I almost learned how to fly.”

She apologized for the lousy service, and gave me sixteen more right then. Since then, whenever I have the pleasure of her trade, as I’ve said normally over her knee under the loving care of her justly destroyed relic of chastisement, she often says, “I’ll be sure not to short change you this time, Danny.” Then she gives me the normal dose and a third more, just to make extra sure. I didn’t learn how to fly, either. I did learn how to keep my big mouth shut.

Sigh. Immediately after she spanks me, that is.

‘Excuse me, Evelyn? When you’re done here, I’d like to have a word with you.’ I thought those were going to be Ash’s last words. As far as last words go, pretty lame. I would have said, “Life holds no meaning for me. Please spank me to death. I regret nothing!” Put that on a tombstone and a million years from now some grad student will write a thesis on it entitled “What the Hell Does That Mean?“

Evil-Lyn stood a few inches shorter than Ash. The goonlet captain had long blonde and evil hair she keeps in a pony tail like her master Gregor that is almost as pretty as my dark hair that adapts to the situation. I now chewed on my hair. Evil-Lyn looked up at Ash, and for a moment shock replaced her rage. Then that mean little smile of hers. It’s four times smaller than a normal smile, like her heart.

‘Alright, alright.’ She drawled out in her James Earl Jones style Georgian accent which would have been so cool if it belonged to any single other person. All I heard now was the deep breathing of Darth Vader. ‘Keep your skirt down, St. Croix, the line starts to the left.’

Gail was a Senator’s daughter, but not haughty about it. When speaking in class on the successes of the International Natural Progression Doctrine or getting her ass whipped for no reason, Gail was just one of the girls who wanted to come off as natural because she was being groomed by her grandmother for a political future. Currently, Gail hopped once more, didn’t scream out “OUCH!” like she normally did, and, taking her time, Evil-Lyn moved in an exaggerated swagger towards her playmate and kissed her glowing left cheek with a 360, which is when they start with their hand on the target, then rotate the arm, gaining speed, in a counterclockwise arc all the way back to the beginning, usually keeping their palm on the cheek after impact to feel the jiggling flesh. It humiliates everyone involved.

Gail had a nice big’ol bottom toned by all the freaking PT we have to do, and she is often a victim of the suspenseful 360 maneuver because her rump-drum-set gives off a SMACK sound that Goonlets need in vitamin C proportions.

‘Now, whose going to remember to not end her sentences with prepositions?’ Oh please! I believe it was Churchill who said, “That is the sort of pedantry up with which I shall not put unless you threaten to spank me!” Actually I’m joking. Churchill was English—Brits like being spanked. I hear their reform schools are loaded to bursting with tea-drinkers well within their forties.

Oh yeah, Gail’s answer.

‘I am going to remember, Ma’am.’

Evil-Lyn shook Gail’s cheek up and down enough to oscillate all of Greater Gail along with it. ’Good! Now scoot.’ She turned, like a hawk on a rabbit, on Ash. Gail ran off away from us, stretching her undies with her ankles to allow full strides. Gail has a better sprinting time than I do, but I don’t hold it against her because… well, maybe I do?

Evil-Lyn fingered the warmed black leather instrument of correction, looked Ash up and down, settling on Ash’s calm face, and licked her lips. ’Next.’

‘I think I can help you.’ How did she stay so calm? In the face of a certain whipping? Evil-Lyn was going to take whatever skin was left off of Ash’s battered buns! Were they sending Vulcans to Reform School now? No, that’s ridiculous, because Ashley St. Crois wasn’t logical.

‘You can help yourself to the wall. Git.’

Ash held her hands up, still calm, and walked over to the wall like there was some formal procedure to it, and put her hands on the wall and her butt out in full compliance. Evil-Lyn stood right behind my stupid friend, slapped either end of Ash’s skirt with both hands, and asked, ’Anything to say before I learn you never to interrupt a judicial proceeding?’

‘Yeah. I think I can fix your hairbrush, but I need to see it first before I can know for sure.’

‘Are you fucking with me?’

‘No, Ma’am.’ She rotated her head out, as if catching the “no” from the air with her teeth, and brought it back down with the “ma’am” to show that she knew just how thin the tightrope she walked across was. I’ll give you a hint: it was made by a spider.

‘Come on.’

I followed them down the halls, extra extra sneaky, and waited at a corner close to Evil-Lin’s room, which was a dungeon. Nobody noticed me kneeling by the corner, because everyone, even the other goonlets, hid in their rooms praying the chair braced against their door held. Two minutes later the strapping started. Six, pause, six harder, pause, six so loud I considered knocking on the door then running away. Silence for a minute, then Ash exited, with the hairbrush of doom, closed the door, and rubbed her thighs. She gave her body one voluntary shake, then seemed normal. Like fee-de-la-dee! I stopped sneaking and pondered what clever thing I would say to the maniac.

‘Come on,’ She said before turning the corner, turned the corner, and walked on. I rushed to catch up.

‘How did you know I was here?’

She just gave me that smile. ‘OK, we’re a go. Have the reader ready thirty minutes after sundown. At the Den.’

‘What the Fuck just happened, psycho!?!?’ She ignored my indignation, but answered the question.

‘We went in, I looked around without moving my head, she showed me the hairbrush, and from there it was easy. Just a hairline. See? One more spank and it could crack in two, but fixable as is. I told her I could fix it for her pint of Jack. We discussed college football, then she gave me till the morning or I’d catch it everyday for a month, “and twice on Sunday.” I asked to see the pint, she felt insulted, I told her I wanted a full pint and not one sipped from, she told me to trust her and that she felt hurt by the allegation, I told her that in God I trust and everyone else pays in cash, especially anyone who can beat me at will, she beat me until she put principles before personalities, dug into her closet, showed me the Jack, I got up from the desk, took her hairbrush, and the rest you know.’

‘Hardly. You’ll enlighten me after you cream up your thighs.’

‘No time to go back to your room, though my butt could use it. She whipped my ass as well, but I need to get to the shop and get to work.’

I showed her my can of cold cream. The good stuff that smelled like docile ether high in the air. She looked at it then at me and I felt pretty damn good about myself. ’Come on,’ I said. ’There’s a M.A.S.H. over here.’ I led her to the utility closet. We entered, brushing aside some brooms. ’Now don’t give me any crap about doing it yourself. If she worked over your cheeks with leather I need to check if the cane marks reopened. How do you like it?’

‘Just do it fast and hard.’ She put her hands on the wall with the same formality as for the strapping. Her thighs were a sight. Not as bad as I thought, but a sight. I don’t take advice on how to treat wounds from psychopaths, so I was extra tender. Done with the easy part, I held my breath, and bared her ill fated bottom. Remarkable healing progress for only eleven days after the worst caning in the history of the strictest reform school in the Affiliation—but it was still blue and purple in places, and Evil-Lyn’s strap brought back all the healthy red to her cheeks.

It’s good to make small talk in surgery, I find. ‘Why did you doubt her about the pint? She’s an evil bitch that needs to die, but her veracity in dealing is impeccable.’ I asked the question to get her mind off the first coat which is the hardest. Her body tensed from my spider’s touch. Her spinal cord did work after all—It was just her brain that was broken.

‘So she would put me over her desk and whip me so I could steal her key ring hanging from the nail above her desk and beneath her Liz Phair poster when she turned around to get the whiskey.’ She showed me the keys. The keys. Evelyn’s goonlet keys. The keys. Keys.

My God in Heaven. Power. Absolute power.

Absolute power in the hands of a maniac.

‘You’re brilliant! And dead! You’re Edgar Allen Poe! When she finds out those are missing…’

‘Hurry up down there, Florence Nightingale, I can take it. I need to get down to shop and copy all these keys. I’ll get them back before she knows it.’

‘But how do you get them back, psycho?’

‘Oh, I’ll just go see her, palming the keys, say the hairbrush is going to take a lot more work than I thought so I want two pints. She’ll put me back over her desk. I’ll stay down for it, then on thigh whip six I’ll make a big show, knock some things over in a pain driven fit, apologize for crawfishing on the deal, and get back to shop. I’ll put the keys down during the fit and she’ll assume I just knocked them over.’

‘But what if she goes after your butt?’

‘Then my butt will get whipped. But she wont. She needs me to function so I can fix her hairbrush.’

‘But…’ I couldn’t think. ‘Butbut…’

‘Hey, Chatty Kathy, focus on my butt, I’m on a deadline. And so are you, and don’t forget the silk.’ Ash braced herself for the painful medical procedure, and hummed the song “Shitloads of Money” by guess who?

* * *

I got the silk to Ash‘s room. I did not get the newspaper reader.

Newspaper reading is normally a job for newbies. Everybody whose anybody around this joint had done the job at least once. I did it twenty times my first month because I did every job I could get to build up some scratch and rep. I got spanked five times, pretty bad too. However, this time was too important to leave to an amateur, because if Ash got caught escaping through the Den, with her ass in it’s present battered condition, even she’d scream by the time Matron Gregor was through, and keep screaming until the paramedics doped her.

No pro takers tonight because of the raging fear, so I was it because I needed a drink. I waited in the classroom next to the Den’s entrance.

Ash showed up on the second. She had a school bag with her. She took off her clothes. I turned around, wasting a chance to see if she had “666” written anywhere on her body.

I said, ’You should wait, the dark of the moon is in one week.’

‘Forecast says rain off and on next week. Pickings that slim? I wouldn’t think you’d like dumb work like this.’

‘I don’t, but work’s work and I have mouths to feed. Mine. I mean Lauren’s. I wouldn’t think a spanking magnet maniac like you would mind getting wet? Are you one of the cat people?’

‘Van Brown keeps the window on the third floor open. She thinks the fresh air “puts hair on your chest!” But she’s real good about closing it when rain’s a risk.’ I heard her shuffling about, but couldn‘t figure out what she was doing. Her accent continued to flummox my radar.

‘You pick up on your environment pretty quick.’

‘Only took a second. There’s no water damage on the inside frame or carpet around the window. Besides, the coach has her faults, but she’s a good worker. Pays attention to details, takes care of her equipment and her girls. I think she would have joined the army if she had the stomach for killing. She even defends the DDU as just a bunch of misguided kids that can be reformed in the right environment.’

‘How do you know she’s no killer?’ I asked through smirked lips. Ha! My back was turned, so she couldn’t just flash me her smile; she had to answer with words that made up sentences.

‘Because she loves people too much to be a killer, even an honorable killer like Praxis agents or a soldier protecting his citizens. She loves everybody. She’s the real deal Christian. Haven’t met that many.’

There is an unwritten rule about asking about a fellow reformer’s life before getting pinched, which is, don’t. You know, where are you from, what did you do to get in here, how did you vote for American Idol- the basics. People can tell you their past—everyone does eventually—but you shouldn’t ask, even to your lesbian lover. It’s never come up before for me (when I need my hair pulled, I want a big strong stupid man), but now I wanted to ask. Fortunately, I can keep my cool and respect other people’s boundaries when money wasn‘t involved.

But I did want to ask.

‘You can turn around now, Danny.’

Ash’s former clothes were stuffed in her bag. Ash was mummified in silk that had been soaked in black paint, now dried. Her Irish white face and brilliant red hair hid in a black plastic garbage bag with eye holes cut out. Around her neck dangled from tied shoelaces a pair of regulation school shoes jerry-rigged into ice skates—sharpened metal blades fixed to the soles. She had a jump rope in a loop over her right shoulder and left waist. She wore four pairs of black socks made out of uniform skirts, but no shoes.

‘How do I look?’

‘Like an asylum escapee.’


‘How… psycho!’ I controlled my voice to a whisper fitting the anti-chambers of the Roman Senate. ‘How are you going to do it?’

‘Oh, I’m going to keep low and run. You know the tall tree next to the gym?’

‘The one without bark or limbs on its trunk for the first fifteen feet?’

‘Closer to twenty, but yeah. See, I rap this jump rope around the tree and myself, use these blades on my shoes to dig my way up the tree until I reach the limb sticking out east at about twenty-five feet up. Then I just monkey over on the limb, climb through the open window, and I’m in. OK, let’s go. Oh, yeah, I handed off the hairbrush. Evelyn was pleased. I got your pint stashed, but since you’re reading yourself I’ll double your end by tomorrow.’

‘No. That wasn’t the deal.’

‘The deal’s changed. Don’t argue, you’re too clever and I need to think straight. Now get going, the moon isn’t waiting for us.’

I decided to argue later. A deal’s a deal; it’s either my bad luck or my bad work that I got stuck with the reading instead of the brokering, and I would not accept extra payment as long as Lauren got a pint of whiskey she was obliged to share with me.

There is a dank underground ally under the school one could reach through a forgotten latch in the floor. Flowing water down the center with a moldy brick walkway along either side. I refuse to give you too many details, as I don’t know whose reading this, but the entrance is under something in a dark corner of a niche in a corridor near a classroom. Deduct that, Mr. Holmes.

You go down it, and you get into an underground alleyway that is safe and covered. There, on either concrete bank of the stream of bile, you can smoke, think about life, begin an escape attempt, or just enjoy being alone. Every reformer knows it, even the goonlets. Nobody talks about it. It is the Den of Iniquity, because when alone, people get into iniquity.

The goonlets normally use it to smoke and brag about how many bottoms they spanked that day which wasn‘t likely that night because bragging requires noise and Evil-Lyn can hear noises, but you never know, do you? Sometimes a goonlet, bored and unable to sleep, will come on down to the Den just for something to do, like spanking a smoker. I once shared a smoke or three with goonlet Killroy after she gave me the business end of her whippy ruler (metric, very unpatriotic). It wasn’t ideal, but she smacked hard and I needed a smoke after I wiped my eyes and I didn’t particularly want to be alone just then, as I recall. She’s a rat, and a hard spanker, but sometimes, when I want to be alone, I like company.

But, ideally, most of us girls don’t like our rumps roasted. Thus the oldest profession: newspaper reading.

If someone wants out, they have to make sure the coast is clear because there isn’t anyway to check except jump down and see, and the punishment for an escape attempt is severe. So they hire a person to go into the Den first, make sure the coast is clear, then stand around “reading a newspaper.” If they are going for an escape, it’s a Tomahawk, because all the reader has to do is make sure the coast is clear, then go back to the dorms. If the patron wants out but plans to come back in, you have to sit around, minding your business, reading a newspaper, to make sure the coast is clear for the return. Normally, this is for girls meeting for a tryst in the Love Niche outside the walls. More on that later.

If the client is coming back into the tunnel after doing whatever out of bounds, and if a goonlet enters the Den, the goonlet spanks the reader, letting the buyer know the coast is not clear via the noise of spanks and screams, so they hold back and wait outside the entrance.

As long as you’re not escaping you just get the one spanking. If a goonlet catches you running, then you get spanked, you and the goonlet fabricate some story about how you tried to escape without revealing the secret of the Den, and you face the canes of justice, may they all get Dutch Elm Disease. Nowhere official is the Den mentioned. It was sacrosanct.

Reading. The job is the lowest of the low, but that’s where you have to go if you have a dream. And I had a dream of a man named Jack, and his soul affirming concoction, so I jumped down.

The coast was clear.

‘Luck.’ I said.

‘You too.’ It was ridiculous, her saying that with a garbage bag over her head. She ran off. The ally was lovely dark and deep, and very boring, but I had a promise to keep, so I sat down on one of the chairs that had been there since my arrival, lit a cigarette, and forgot to not look at the Vault.

The school had walls, serious walls, but nothing uncommon for a school, even an Ivy League style first class Free Mason boarding school like this one. Well, it wasn’t Free Mason anymore because they donated it to the FA for tax purposes, but it was built a Free Mason school, and it was built beautiful with lots of beautiful esoteric money.

Except the Vault wasn‘t beautiful at all. It was the most serious door I had ever seen. Far scarier than the bars you see in old time prison movies. It was solid battleship blue steel from the floor to the ceiling, no handle, a comically small keyhole, and from the only angle I had ever seen it from it looked to go back into the wall for twenty miles of unbreakable alloy. It looked like it had never been opened. I hated it. Most girls just ignored it and smoked. It made me claustrophobic. It reminded me of the grave that I’d someday fill.

As you’d expect, I heard from a girl who’d heard from a girl that had left Southdown before I got sent up that shared a room with a nameless girl whose sister’s boyfriend’s dad was a Mason and knew, for a fact, that a deranged Mason biochemistry professor kept his wife in a suspended cage in the Vault thirty years ago.

He performed illegal experiments on his wife, Crazy Annie, and fed her live fish he’d caught himself, rats that had survived lab class, and algae that grew on the walls. Nobody knew—it was the professors little secret, an oubliette. The Professor died, while fishing, of a heart attack without telling anyone of his wife, and after a few days Crazy Annie knew she was alone. So she swung her cage back and forth to scrape algae off the walls to eat, and spent the hours sharpening her ever growing fingernails against the bars of her cage until she fashioned a nail into a key that fit the lock. Her hair was long and white and grown into her skin before she escaped that little cage into the larger cage.

Out of the cage, she set to work on the Vault door. Little by little her nails got longer, and tougher, and sharper—and narrower—as she made the slowest progress to make her fingernails thin enough to fit the Vault’s key hole, but hard and serrated enough to open it to the outside, to the world that abandoned her to that Hell on Earth, wanting to see the daylight again, and wanting to taste anything, anything at all but algae, but all she could remember eating were those wiggling, gasping fish and writhing lab rats. If you held your breath, and leaned in, they say you can hear the scratching scratching scratching through the little key hole as she gets ever closer, and maybe you’ll even hear a dull scream of frustration, or God help you, success.

‘Shit!‘ The amber burned its way down to my finger until it gave my fingers a good burn. I caught a tear in my eye and shook my silly head. I would make myself sick thinking about such tripe, so I thought over that third account I discovered in Gregor’s office after Ash’s Stand as I stamped out the smoke and lit another.

I’m not really a smoker. I like cigarettes, but I like to run more. When on the job I’d light up a smoke, take a drag or two, then just flick it for ten minutes. The point was to have an excuse. If you just sat there you looked like a person reading the newspaper upside down, which could blow it for your employer.

The accounts. The accounts were in code, but from the flow and arrangement of numbers I knew that there was a commercial product, that overhead was low, but the profit margin was usurious, like diamonds; yet selling in bulk. And it was working. There was an account estimate for the competition—and that interested me because it was very precise, like they had inside information on the competition.

The product was called “Frost.” The competition they coded as “Last Spring.” A code’s a code. The words they used could mean nothing, or it could be a clue. What was clear was Gregor was pulling a Nintendo on the competition—selling at a loss in the beginning to gain market share, then, having destroyed the free market, slowly raising prices to make a profit. It was working.

And I knew it was criminal. If it was legit they’d get me to double check and file it because my services were as cheap as oxygen and just as handy. Gregor was in on it, but who else? And did it matter to the higher truth(my self interest)?

I wanted to tell Ash, but I didn’t have much to tell yet, and I only recently realized that she was my friend and bat shit crazy. She wouldn’t talk, obviously she had the most reliable ass in Southdown when it came to bending over to interrogation, but she was unpredictable and wild. And a liar. Hardly a sin in this place, but it unnerved me that she was clearly planning an escape, but not admitting it to anyone.

No, not time to make a move, so I just sat there, lit up another smoke, and let the world pass me by until an angle or angel presented itself—or I finished up my stretch and reentered a world were bottoms are only spanked as a kinky trust exercise to cure the seven year itch or because the bottoms belong to English people.

‘Ahhhhh…. Fate takes a hand.’ Someone drawled out behind me. Drawled out like they do south of Carolina Trust and north of the Florida Freehold. ’You’re in my seat.’

I stood up and faced Evil-Lyn. She idly smacked her repaired bottom bruiser on her right hand. She was a lefty, and the ancient Greeks, the smart people who gave you democracy, logic, geometry, and the oral tradition, were also smart enough to call left handed people “sinister.”

‘So, Archer, what brings you down to the Den on this fine, fine evening.’ She said this as she took her seat and adjusted her skirt just right, taking her time, fussing, living in the moment, smelling the roses, all the while my soft tush twitched like Pavlov‘s dog drooled.

‘I’m snark hunting.’ I took a last drag of my smoke, stamped it out, and waited for the what I knew would be a truly painful spanking. I’d caught it alright, caught it just about the worst you can, but that’s the cost of doing business sometimes, so stop whining and take it like a man.

‘Snark hunting? What a coincidence! So am I, but I caught one, and I‘m a Jabberwocky. ’ She inspected her repaired fanny fan like a Samurai warrior would his thousand folded sword. ’Do you have a permit?’

‘I left it at the office.’

She finished her inspection of the ancient wood, then looked me in the eyes, her smile four sizes too small, yet containing all the sadism one associates with a well fed cat batting around a mouse.

‘I have mine with me, and it’s ready to go Snicker-snatch.’ That impressed me despite myself. She was something. ‘Ash did a good job. At least, I think she did. I was inclined to test it on her, but her end has taken such a beating of late that I didn’t think it could take a thorough test run. Medically speaking, that is. I’m told Ash is quite the tough guy. Hmmm…. I haven’t had you over my lap in… how long has it been?’

She could go on teasing me for half an hour, she loved teasing me, but I didn’t want Ash out there waiting in the open any longer than necessary. Time was against a girl out there, and I knew my job as a reader.

‘Almost a month. Which is waaaaayyyyy too long, because nothing makes me happier than lying over your lap like a helpless child, taking a spanking because you have father issues or whatever twisted your pathetic soul, pretending I couldn’t just stand up, knock you down, and kick the shit out of you until you liked it, and break that hairbrush with my bare hands.’ She didn’t balk. Her amused face hardened, the smile widened a little, but she kept her cool. ’And I’m prettier than you are, and you know it.’

‘Would all little girls with big mouths get over my knee. The Spank Train is boarding now.’ I had a way of going over that allowed me some pseudo pride. Remember, she’s left handed, which meant my head needed to be on her right side to accept the Left Hand of Justice, giving me a nice view of the Den’s exit to a world of freedom and pale bottoms. I grabbed her right knee, eased myself down, then pulled on her knee to get the target just where she wanted it. This is how I avoided kneeling towards her. Yeah, I’m a Sir Thomas Moore alright. Or Saint Thomas Moore, depending on your affiliations.

My gambit to get the spanking started worked. Hurray! She didn’t take her time, but pulled my skirt up and my cottons down without any savoring. I grabbed the legs of the chairs, closed my eyes, and thought of England and all the men there who would pay money to change places with me at that moment. I’d never been to England, but I’ve seen movies about it.

She lowered her little mouth down to my too large flat ears(my only facial flaw other than my too large stupid idiot masochistic loudmouth mouth) and whispered, ’would all passengers please strap in and get comfortable, cuss it’s going to be a long ride.’ I bought a first class ticket with my smart mouth. Ahhhh…. pride and prejudice. Damn you both.

The air was cool on my bare ass until my bare ass contributed to global warming. And then pain. SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACKSMACKSMACKSMACK and you get the idea. Evil-Lyn went from cheek to cheek, left and right and left and right and left and right, using all of her muscles like the Matron taught her, twisting her waist and putting her shoulder into it at a steady pace that allowed not one second of silence between smacks. Lauren once timed one of my trips over Evelyn’s knee at two minutes even, on the nose. Two minutes—big deal! Let me tell you something, Jack, time is relative. I was eligible for social security after minute one.

Over her knee this time, getting the regular dose, plus my loudmouth earned extra third, PLUS Evil-Lyn’s fervent desire to test Ash’s repairs, I thought about England, and I refused to scream bloody murder like normal. Halfway through she sensed my resolve and worked over that spot where the butt meets the thigh.

Oh, I kicked with each blow, kicked two hundred times, and I jerked and I grunted, and yes, I cried, but I bit my lip and bruised my fingers grasping those chair legs, refusing to scream. My face hurt. I stretched it and scrunched the skin around my eyes and grimaced, but, I didn’t scream. No, I refused to scream. I flatly refused to scream until the last thirty whacks.

I lost all sense of time. Normally I’m a Swiss clock with time, even during a spanking, but it was just too much, holding it in and taking what I was taking, and thinking about that evil bitch just loving every second of it, humiliating me by bearing the second most private part of my body and punishing me, taking joy in it, at no cost to herself, and so much fucking pain to me. Pain is philosophical in the abstract. But when you catch it it’s just pain; when you fight it, you pretend you can take it with dignity and not like a baby, and it becomes a spiritual issue almost. At least it did for me that time. Spiritual issues always end with humility. It was a swelling of self-worth against my environment, and I was winning until I gave in and screamed and begged for her to stop, please I’ll do anything I’m sorry I’ll never do it again you’re prettier than me and two plus two equals five or whatever the hell you want.

I meant it all at the time.

Screaming helped a lot. Screaming felt like shrugging a freight car off my back, and I could count again. I could count the number of times a wooden boudoir accessory contacted my bottom. I screamed and counted for thirty confrontations with the brush.

Her sadism satiated, Evelyn rested and rubbed my back while I gasped and cried and continued to beg mindlessly. I never once let go of those chair legs. I think I bent one, but I’m glad it didn’t break because then I’d get spanked again for destroying school property. A student before my time stole that chair, moved it down to the Den, probably to enjoy smoking more. I prefer to smoke sitting down too.

A few minutes later and I was on my quivering legs. I rubbed myself, really giving my cheeks the business, not giving a damn anymore, while Evil-Lyn patted her precious, looking me over. She approached me and I backed away a step, pure instinct, but she caught me and pulled my handkerchief out of my “secret’ pocket on the inside of my blouse located behind my neck. She paid attention, it would seem. She folded it right and pressed it against my noise. I couldn’t have been more shocked if she had pulled an aircraft carrier out of my noise.


I wasn’t in the state of mind to think, much less mock, so I just blew on command. She was good at holding the thing. She wiped me clean and careful. Then she folded it again, wiped my eyes and my noise better than I could have, with the clean side, and handed me back the used rag. I took it dumbly.

‘So, you’re finally growing a backbone, are ya? Hmm.’ She lifted my chin with her brush until we were eye to eye. ’I knew you had it in you. By the time you get out of here you’ll be a woman. You’ll be someone for anyone to admire. I’m proud of ya.’ She smiled at me, and she did look proud. Even affectionate. I would have taken another dose of the brush instead of hearing her say that. I thought about putting my finger nail into her eye.

The bitch gave me what very well could have been a genuine smile (I understand crocodiles smile), then turned on her cleft hooves and clicked clacked all the way back to whatever bridge she lived under. ’Don‘t worry I wont tell anyone.’

I lit a cigarette and smoked it for real. Angry. Frustrated. I felt short changed somehow. Something was wrong and my bottom hurt and I wasn’t at all happy. I controlled my breathing and reminded myself, via mantra, that everybody catches it so get over yourself and think straight. Everybody catches it so get over yourself and think straight. Everybody catches it…

Damn it. Damn it all to Hell.

Two smokes later Ash checked to see if the coast was clear, and if I hadn’t been looking at that exact spot, waiting for a garbage bag to poke around the tunnel entrance, I never would have seen her.

She took off her silk rags and folded them with a technique I’d never seen to get them far too compact than should be possible in a world of indelible natural laws.

‘Sorry it took so long. Van Brown left her dog in tonight so I had to bribe him with some leftover meatloaf…’ She ripped the bag off her head and stuffed it away before searching my face. She herself made a face. ’How bad?’


‘Knock it off, who got you?’

‘Nobody. Get dressed. I’m cold.’ I turned around and smoked. I could hear her ruffling about. It took longer this time because she had to pack everything extra impossibly tight to include her new wetsuit.

I was ready to head off first to make sure nobody was out in the hall, ready to pounce, when Ash touched my arm and said, ’Hey, look…’

‘I’m not a child!’ I hissed at her. She was taken aback, but her feet stood their ground, her eyes kept on mine.

‘I never thought you were. It was Evelyn, wasn’t it? Looking to test out her repaired hairbrush. I’m sorry I didn’t think of that. I should of, it’s so obvious. I‘m sorry.’

‘Stop… stop, I’m sorry. I’m just rattled and looking for somebody to take it out on. Let go of me so I can finish my job.’

‘I think you’ve done enough. Wait with the bag and I’ll…’

‘Hold on, sister. You might be a tough guy, but I’ve read more papers than I can remember—I know the job. Now wait here and wait for the signal.’

‘OK, whatever you say.’ Ash let go of my arm and took two steps back.

‘And the deal was for a pint, and that’s all you’ll give me, understand?’


‘Good. And stop acting like that, I’ve been over her knee more times than I’ve read newspapers.’ I smiled at her. ’And I mean that literally: I’ve been spanked by Evelyn more times than I’ve actually read a news publication.’ I got a constrained laugh from the maniac, and dispelled the tension my childishness made, which was good because we were going to the same party the next day.