Jim Curran looked back over his shoulder at the board behind him. Yep, that last bit on “The Tempest”-how viewing a character as a man or a monster was entirely dependent on perspective-was how he wanted to finish the lesson. Granted, it’s a simplistic reading but opens the subject for a discussion next week.
He looked out over the heads of the class as they bent to the task of finishing the notes. This is the class he looked forward to and really built his week around. All graduate students, a few working at agencies or successfully free-lancing, but still carving time out of their busy schedules to hone their craft at The Academy. Mr. Curran’s class was sought after and challenging and most students in here required no extra motivation to do good work.
“Very good then”, he said, satisfied that most were finished with their notes. “Would you all pass last week’s assignment forward please?” There was a flurry of rustling as the papers were passed. He scanned to see that everyone was sending something forward. His eyes settled on Judith Volmer, who without looking up took the papers from the girl behind and passed them forward adding nothing to the stack. “Oh don’t tell me…” he thought. In a class of motivated high achievers, Judith was the first among equals. This woman, at twenty two she was a woman, had been published, traveled into the city regularly on assignment but…
“Judith? Did you turn a paper in?”
The girl sat there head down-drilling holes into the desk top with her eyes. “I…I don’t have it.”
There was a sudden stillness in the room as all seat shifting, paper shuffling seemingly even breathing, stopped.
“You didn’t bring it? You forgot it?” Mr. Curran asked helpfully.
“No”, she answered quietly. “I forgot to do it.” She clasped her right hand over her left as that was the one that seemed to be shaking the hardest. She had to form every word individually and deliver them one at a time between the flutters in her chest.
He cleared his throat and looked down at the record book open on the podium in front of him as if it will tell him something he didn’t know. But there it was-missed assignment last week-and two weeks before that. They all had discussed the penalties for infractions-really almost as a lark-no one in this class would be guilty of any infraction.
Jim Curran allowed his gaze to wander out the window. Some of the other girls looked down-out in the hall-out the window with him-to somehow avoid eye contact with anyone, but most of the eyes in the room were on him. He could feel them. It was his move.
“Ok Judith. You know, I guess, that I have to paddle you now, right? This is three times and the term isn’t half over.” She looked up-her eyes were glassy but not full-wide but not wild. She nodded almost imperceptibly. “Yes, I know…I’m sorry.”
“Yes, I’m sure. I am too…but there is really nothing I can do here. You put yourself in this situation.”
“I know…I’m sorry…”
“Ok”, he said uncomfortably. “This is the first time we’ve had to do this, so I guess we should get some ground rules established. Everyone knows what’s going to happen here right? No need to belabor it.” He looked around to find most of the girls still avoiding eye contact. His eyes rolled across the two empty seats by the windows. Happily, there was a baseball game today so that the two boys who were normally in this class were out on the diamond. It wouldn’t have changed what was going to happen, but it certainly would have changed the vibe in the room.
Mr. Curran rose from his desk and rolled the podium out of the way. He went to the supply closet, opened it and took out an oak yardstick from the hook inside the door. “Jesus!” thought Judith, looking quickly away and flushing hotly. The sight of the hard, shiny wood that she had never seen before pushed some hard reality into the fantasy that was playing through her mind.
He brought the yardstick back to his desk and sat again, holding it in his right hand as with a pointer-for emphasis. He didn’t seem to be in a real hurry to proceed. “The question is”, he said “we have fifteen minutes left in the class. Do we do it here during class so everyone can be a witness? Or would we rather do it after class with just Judith and me? And maybe one other person for a witness.” He was thinking this out as he went. “I’m not sure.” Then, almost as an aside “I never thought I’d need to think about it for this class.”
“So”, he said, pointing the stick over the class, “Let’s vote on how it should be handled. Judith, put your head down please. Don’t look. Ladies? Should we do it now-in front of everyone? Or later, after class. And remember, how we vote now will determine how we do it all term. Show of hands-who thinks we should do it now.”
Judith’s stomach roiled as she listened to the rustling of hands raised and lowered. “And who”, Mr. Curran asked, “Thinks we should do it later. In private.” She held her breath, listening for clues in the movements that she couldn’t hear. There was a pause that seemed to last a minute but couldn’t have.
“Very well”, he said. Then another agonizing pause while she held her breath. “Judith, come up here please.”
Oh, no. She suddenly and completely regretted all of her decisions today. She rose slowly and glanced tentatively around the room-any of the girls who caught her eyes looked immediately away. The walk to the front of the classroom left like the longest she had ever taken. Halfway up she touched a finger onto Laurie Wilkes’ desk, as if to steady herself, and Laurie squeezed it in a tight little show of support. “Jesus”, thought Judith. “Laurie doesn’t even like me. What have I gotten myself into?”
Judith had set this little play in motion a few weeks before when she hadn’t turned in the first paper. That had been a mistake-she had been late to class and missed the assignment. Then, last week, after finishing her assignment she wondered what might happen if she didn’t turn it in on time. It turned out nothing happened. Mr. Curran gave her till the next day to turn it in.
Now, dragging her feet on trembling knees to the front of the room her mind flashed to the finished paper in her bag. She had left herself an out until the last possible moment. She had finished the paper two days ago. It was good-very good in fact-and she had planned to turn it in with everyone else. She thought she would turn it in. Right up to the moment when she didn’t. She knew there was no way she could pull it out now having pulled everyone into her little drama. She was past the point of no return.
Mr. Curran removed his jacket and lay it carefully over the podium. He then unbuttoned and rolled up his sleeves as if he were about to take on some physical labor. Judith, flushing pink and breathing lightly-in tiny gulps-was standing before his desk.
“Alright. Bend over and put your hands and elbows on the desk”, he said tapping the glossy surface with the stick. She did as she was told and her hair fell around her face. “May I…” she looked back over her shoulder…”my hair.” “Go ahead” Mr. Curran said from behind her. He was on her left-he was right handed-is what popped into her mind.
She pushed her hair over to the left and tucked some behind her ear. In her periphery she saw Ellen Simms, who sat in the front most corner, watching her intently as if wanting to catch every detail. Hope you enjoy the show, Judith thought. Finished, she placed her arms back on the desk. She heard a movement and felt her skirt being lifted off of her bottom and folded up over her back. Thankfully she had worn a new pair of white panties that hugged her snugly and, she was sure, made a good presentation. Still, feeling the air caressing her bare legs and knowing that fifteen pairs of eyes were centering on her bottom was almost as titillating as it was mortifying.
Jim Curran had decided to do his job. He glanced away from Judith’s firm bottom to the girls in the class. Some were watching closely-some were looking out the window or at the floor. He knew what they were feeling; what they were thinking though. Judith was the best of them and if she could be up here in this position so could they. He guessed that was the whole idea behind this spectacle.
He touched the stick to Judith’s bottom and reared back landing the first swat with a loud CRACK! across the center. Any sound Judith made was drowned out by the collective gasp of the room. He swung hard with the second and hit slightly below the first. Judith squeezed her eyes shut and held her breath behind gritted teeth. Jesus! She didn’t think it would hurt THIS much. She choked out a gasp as the yard stick landed once, then again, across the fleshy bottom of her cheeks digging into the top of her right leg leaving bright pink florets in its wake. She extended her fingers and brought them back into tight fists-making any movement to help somehow allay the burning on her backside and to stop herself from reaching back and rubbing her bum like a child.
From behind, Jim could see the welts that were crisscrossing her bottom through the sheer white of the panties. He knew the classroom could as well. “So girls”, he said turning back to the room. “I’ll wager all papers will be in on time and complete from here on, right?” He was answered by a few quick “yessirs” and a ferocious and general nodding in the affirmative. “Alright then.” He turned back to the matter at hand. “Judith-six more, then we’ll be finished.”
“SIX!?” thought Judith. She was expecting six over all. Then ten. Now an additional six? “Are you ready?” Curran asked. No she wasn’t ready for another six! For the first time her eyes burned and she knew she would cry. Her voice betrayed her-so she nodded once slowly.
“Alright then”, he said again. Christ, she thought, put it on a T-Shirt.
She tensed for the next swat which landed hard across the top then a couple more in the middle. They burned but, truthfully, were not nearly as strong as the first ten. “Push it back out Judith”, he said as she had begun to straighten, trying to pull her bottom in, out of the line of fire. She arched her back and presented fully. As if suddenly regretting not pulling her panties down and paddling her on the bare focused his attention for the last three swats on the bottom of her cheeks where they blossomed out of the soft elastic.
The first swat there was a like a wasp sting and the second like a charcoal. She raised on her toes and coughed out a little mewling whimper which was the first sound she had made. Without realizing it her elbows had come off the desk and she was again close to standing. He let it go and smacked her the last as she bucked down and back again, settling.
“Alright then”, he said repeating what everyone now knew was a nervous tick. “You can get up now, Judith”. As she stood, he handed her his handkerchief which was clean, folded and ironed. “Thank you”, she whispered dabbing at her cheeks as she returned to her desk. As she sat gingerly, her skirt offered little protection against the wood of the chair rubbing her bruised sit spots. From behind, Karen Boehm rubbed her back as she finished dabbing at her eyes not really hearing the assignment that Mr. Curran was giving. Judith knew that Karen really wanted to rub something other than her back but that was OK. She just liked the feel of support right now.
Then the three tones that signaled the end of class rung out and everyone shuffled as quickly as they could toward the door and out what had suddenly become a very small room. Karen touched her should going past-“Let me know if you need anything….” Judith nodded and lingered at her desk till everyone was gone. Then she walked slowly up to the front.
“Are you alright?” Mr. Curran asked, having put his jacket back on.
She nodded gamely.
“Do you have the paper?”
“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter. Did you bring the paper?”
She pulled it out of her bag and sheepishly placed it on his desk. “I’m sorry.”
“No harm done, except of course to….” He nodded toward her bottom.
“Right…it’s OK.” She was suddenly blushing hotly.
“Listen-don’t do this again. Interrupt the class like this.”
“If you need this kind of attention…motivation…see me in my office outside of class time. And we’ll deal with you there.”
“Like this?” she asked.
“Other girls do.”
“Get to class now.”
She walked out of the classroom, her head spinning at the thought.