Still on vacation. We will resume our normal programming next week.
What do you crave? Addictions, they say, are mindsets. Sometimes people work to rid themselves of one, only to find that they have unleashed another…
Ron looked at the boat. It sat in the water tied to the dock. The lake was still, its surface like glass. It was almost as he had left it after his morning row. But an odor lingered. It had almost dissipated, probably exactly as the last occupant had intended. He peered in. It was almost obvious, but not quite. A small white object lay on the seat. It stood out—a small white thing, in vivid contrast to the green hull. Ron looked up toward the house. He thought he saw movement in an upstairs window. She was watching him. He sighed. There was no help for it. Ron set his jaw and steeled himself….and headed for the house.
Six weeks earlier…..
There comes a time in every relationship when the question arises—to move in together or not? For Ron and Trisha it came six months into their affair. Not a very original story, really. Ron was an entrepreneur partnered with some friends of his. He was the engineer, another one was an accountant and the third guy was sales. It was a company that was going to make solar panels. Trisha was a paralegal in a downtown law firm. They met by chance at Starbucks when Ron ran into an old college friend sitting with a couple of ladies. Trisha was one of the ladies. The chemistry clicked almost immediately. As the song says, it was just one of those things.
So they started dating. One thing led to another and before too long they were intimate. Now came the tricky part. Ron lived by himself away from town in a small house on a lake. Trisha had roommates, but one was leaving to take a job out of state and the lease was up anyway. Besides that, Trisha was head over heels smitten by Ron. He was everything in a man she could want. He was tall, fit and handsome in a rugged sort of way. He liked to be outdoors, especially on the water. His house on the lake featured a dock where he had his boat tied up.
He was polite and self effacing. A gentle and considerate lover, Ron was very attentive to her needs. At the same time, Ron was a very take charge sort of guy. He saw problems as challenges that needed solutions. Ron wasn’t the type of man who let problems fester. If it needed fixing, he’d fix it.
Trisha was a trim, pretty girl with coppery hair. She had that bubbly personality that cheerleader types have, but that also tends to make them seem a bit scattered, like a bee flitting from one delightful thing to the next. In many ways she was the opposite of Ron’s methodical left brain approach to things.
But she had genuine feelings for Ron. She hoped Ron felt the same way about her. But she knew there this one little thing—on occasion she smoked a cigarette. It was a habit she’d picked up after college. In her circles lots of her friends smoked. It just seemed the thing to do. Now, she couldn’t help it. It had become a craving.
Early on Ron had noticed—and, he disapproved. “Besides what it’s doing to your lungs, it’s, well…nasty. And I gotta be honest—I hate the smell of those things.”
After that revelation she kept it out of sight. And, she promised herself, she’d quit. Easier said than done. It calmed her nerves. And there was plenty to be nervous about. As a paralegal she worked on high stakes litigation. There were always deadlines. Little mistakes could be made that could prove costly. So every now and then she stepped outside for a smoke-just to calm down, she told herself.
So it was a topic when they discussed her moving in with Ron. She’d been thrilled that he’d wanted her with him. “I want you here with me Trisha. I’m committed to you, and it would be wonderful if we could take this thing we have to the next step.” Then he’d kissed her passionately and that had led to a bout of feverish lovemaking. But before that he’d also said, “If you’re going to live here with me, though, you have to quit smoking-I mean for good.” More than anything, she wanted this relationship. So she made him a promise—no more smoking. He accepted it at face value. So she moved in.
She was enthralled by the house and the lake. The water was calming, so different from her city apartment. Next to the house was the dock and the small green boat. The boat was Ron’s escape. He usually rowed before work for exercise and fished sometimes at dusk and on the weekends. Trisha hoped Ron would teach her how to fish.
She had to admit, it was tough. Ron was a neatnik. He kept his place spotless, and she did not want to mess things up by having him come home one day to dirty ashtrays and the smell of stale cigarette smoke. So, ok, no smoking. Well, maybe not in the house. There was the dock though, where Ron’s boat was tied up. Outside, how would he know? She caught herself. She was already planning to cheat and she knew it. Better to try and quit, she decided.
But then a big trial started up. She worked late. There were deadlines, pressure. She took to slipping out at breaks. “I’ll just have one,” she told herself. “Just to calm down.”
Ron smelled it on her clothes when she came home. “You’ve been smoking,” he chided her one night as he gave her hug. She had come in late. At dinner he said, “I thought you were going to quit. In fact you promised to quit. What gives?”
“I am trying,” she said. “It just got to me, you know. I had a craving all of a sudden.”
“Well, you have to control that,” he said. Then Ron put on his fix-it hat. “Why don’t you try a patch? If it’s nicotine, that’s a nicotine delivery system. Use that.”
She said she’d try it. It helped, but the craving was still there. It was nerves. She had to do something with her hands, and she was used to handling a cigarette. Then she did the unforgivable—she smoked in the house. Ron was working late and she had work to do, at home. Without thinking she lit up.
Ron smelled it the minute he hit the door. “Trisha,” he said, “were you smoking? In here?” Trisha nodded, shamed at being caught.
“We talked about this. I can’t have it. Not here. And we discussed the danger to you. It’s very unhealthy.” He ran his hands through his hair, exasperated. “You have got to quit. What’s it going to take?”
The idea came to them when they went out clubbing with some friends shortly after the incident. Their two crazy friends, Monica and Jerry, had suggested going to this risqué review, something called “Fetish Night” at this club called Dante’s Inferno. Jerry said to dress “kinky” so they could get in. It sounded nutty, but Jerry was one of those guys that once he got an idea, he couldn’t let it go. And Monica was sort of a wild child anyway, so ok, Fetish Night it was. Trisha got some torn jeans and a studded belt and Ron had a black leather vest so between them they cobbled up something resembling kinky, at least they thought so, and went to see this club.
It turned out to be an eye opener. The review featured people parading around in all sorts of sexy and outlandish garb to the beat of a heavy metal band. One part of it especially got their attention. It was a spanking demonstration. They brought out a thing like a pillory and various cast members got up and confessed to some “sin”. Then they assumed the position while a leather clad dominatrix smacked them on the ass with a big leather paddle, much to the delight of the crowd. It was all a big put on, as the cast hammed it up.
Ron turned to Trisha and pointed. “I’ll bet that would cure your smoking cravings,” he said, joking with her. Trisha smiled ruefully and said, “If I thought I was going to get spanked every time I smoked, I guess it would.”
The next morning over coffee Ron said, “Were you serious last night?”
“About what?” asked Trisha.
“You said that if you had a spanking hanging over your head each time you smoked, that would make you give it up.”
“I guess I did say that,” said Trisha.
Later in the day she thought about it. She knew she had to do something. There had to be some plan in place just to show Ron she was serious, if nothing else. Not that it would ever happen, because she was resolved now to quit. But she thought that if she proposed some arrangement, some formal contract or something, that gave him permission to actually spank her if she smoked, crazy as that sounded, he might feel a lot better about their prospects as a couple. It was one of those things in his makeup, the need to have a plan, a solution in place, not just some vague promise. And that, she realized, was the really important thing. It was worth a try, she decided. And it wasn’t as if Ron wasn’t already half interested.
She speculated as to what a spanking would feel like. At Dante’s Inferno it had been all theater and laughs, although the dominatrix, or whatever you called her, had hit pretty hard, it looked like. Oh, well, she decided, it’s not going to happen anyway, so what do I care? Giving him permission, that’s the important thing.
She approached Ron about it that night. “I’ve been thinking,” she said. “You don’t think I’m serious about quitting smoking, right?” Ron admitted that he had his doubts. After all, she had fallen off the wagon a time or two. “So ok, here’s how serious I am. If I smoke, I give you full permission… to spank me.”
Ron chuckled. “What?”
“I mean it. You can spank me.”
Ron smiled, then pursed his lips, mulling it over. “Take you to the woodshed, huh?” Then he rubbed his chin, thinking. “It sounds nuts, but yeah, I can see it. Some negative consequence for breaking your promise.” Then he thought for a minute or two. “But how? I mean what are the limits on this thing? I don’t have any leather paddle like at that club and we sure don’t have a pillory lying around. I agree with the idea, but it has to be within certain parameters.”
Parameters. One of those engineer words Ron always used. She could see the wheels turning. He was going to work this out down to the last detail. Actually, that was great. He was fully engaged now, and having this plan in place would satisfy his need to do something.
He told her all about it the next day as he handed her a couple of pages of text stapled together. “I found this on the internet,” he said. “It’s part of a discipline contract called The Spencer Plan. It’s a real thing written by this woman psychologist and it lays it all out. It’s usually a two way thing, but I don’t smoke, and it’s only for this specific thing, your craving for cigarettes.”
He handed it to her. Yes it was a real contract. She started to blush when she read it. It was ostensibly for married couples. She liked the sound of that. It suggested a whole new level of intimacy. But it was the procedure that made a shiver run up her spine. If the woman transgressed, she was to go into their bedroom and remove her clothes, every stitch. Her husband would come in, fully clothed, and seat himself on the bed or in a chair. She would place herself across his knees. Then the husband, using his hand only, would spank her on her bare bottom until he felt that she had been sufficiently punished. He would give her a hug and forgive her, then leave while she contemplated her sin. The spanking was to be a real one, not just love pats. It should be serious enough to impart a good lesson. She might cry and her bottom would be red and swollen for a time.
Wow, she thought. She’d had a swat or two as a kid, but nothing like this. It said the spanking had to be hard enough and long enough to instill a genuine sense of remorse and an honest intent to do better.
Ron looked at her, waiting for her reaction. She gulped. She had started this discussion and here was a concrete proposal. She couldn’t very well back out. What would she say? That she’d just been kidding? In for a penny, in for a pound, she decided.
“Do I sign this or what?”
He handed her a pen. She signed it.
“I’ll keep this in my desk,” he said, folding it up. “But, really, Trisha, this shouldn’t be necessary. You’ve quit, right?”
“Right.” This made it official.
After that, she pretty much forgot about it. Until one day a month later when she’d had such a bad day that she bought some smokes on the way home and lit up in her car. She told herself, just one. But she went through several while stuck in traffic. Absentmindedly she stuck the pack in her purse. When she got home she showered. Ron wasn’t home yet. Trisha figured that she’d rinsed off the smell in the shower.
Trisha was making a salad in the kitchen when Ron came home. He was absentmindedly flipping through the mail when he accidentally knocked Trisha’s purse off the kitchen nook table. Trisha gasped and turned just in time to see the cigarette pack tumble out. Both of them saw it at once. Trisha cringed and Ron frowned. He picked up the purse and the pack. Looked at it.
He looked at her and shook his head. “How many come in a pack, Trisha? Twelve?”
Trisha just nodded, a sickening feeling creeping over her.
He juggled the pack. “There are eight left. Did you smoke four?”
Trisha nodded again. She felt about three feet tall.
“Come here,” said Ron. She shuffled over to him. He smelled her hair. It was still damp. “You showered and washed your hair to get the smell out, didn’t you?”
Trisha looked away. She could not look him in the eye.
“So. Here’s what we have. You smoked four cigarettes today, then, not only were you not going to tell me, you figured to cover it up by washing your hair. Is that about it?” Ron sat down and sighed, shaking his head.
“Ron, I’m sorry. I had such an awful day, I just, I…the craving came back.”
Ron nodded sympathetically. “Well I guess I can see that, and I honestly do want to hear all about your awful day, Trisha….”
“Yes, Ron. It seemed like everything went wrong and…” The words started to tumble out. Thank God he was going to be reasonable.
Trisha stopped, frozen. “After?”
“After some rather unpleasant business is taken care of. You remember our agreement? The Spencer Plan?” Trisha quailed. Was he really going to…?
“I see you do. Well, here’s what happens, Trisha. We’re going to do this.”
Trisha gaped at Ron. “You’re really going to s-spank me?”
“Yes, I am. We are going to do this like the plan says.”
Trisha stood there like a deer-in-the-headlights, not believing that this was actually happening.
“Go to the bedroom and take off your clothes– everything.” Trisha just stood there, still in shock. “Well? We did have an agreement, right? Are you going to just blow it off, or are you mature enough to accept the consequences? Which is it?”
A spanking! Ron intended to follow through and give her an honest-to-gosh old fashioned spanking. Like a kid. Visions of old cartoons and movies flashed through her head, like where the heroine got spanked over the hero’s knee. Only in the old movies the heroine wasn’t stark naked. Ron was looking at her expectantly, waiting. Trisha had to think. If she refused, this could be the end of her and Ron. It wasn’t just the offense, it was the cover-up, and worse the failure to accept a consequence that she’d agreed to. It would say something to Ron about her integrity, that she lacked it. No. Couldn’t have that. She took a deep breath.
“Yes, Ron. We have a deal. I broke it. I’m sorry and I’m ready to accept the penalty.”
“Good. I’m proud of you Trisha.” Ron smiled. “Go ahead then. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”
On shaky legs Trisha ascended the stairs. Once in the bedroom she pulled the vanity over to the foot of the bed. Then she stripped off her clothes. She studied herself in the mirror, looking over her shoulder at her bottom. She knew she had a cute ass. It was probably her best feature. She put her hands back, feeling her cheeks. She wished it wasn’t so pert, so round. She stood by the vanity and waited for Ron. As she stood and waited she felt an excitement she’d never felt before. It was an odd brew of fear, embarrassment and sexual arousal. She was feeling the most intense feelings and it was so very strange. She felt nothing but love and desire for Ron who, nonetheless, was coming up to what?… spank her soundly, give her a good licking, take her to the woodshed, tan her hide. All those clichés ran through her brain.
She heard his footsteps on the stairs and her heart beat faster. She put her hands behind her reflexively, without thinking, as if the shield her fanny from what was coming. Ron entered the bedroom and beheld his very naked and very pretty girlfriend standing by the bed hands behind her back and chewing on her lip. She looked deliciously contrite and vulnerable, and he had to check himself. Yes, he’d like nothing better than to tell her she was forgiven and tumble her into bed. But…he had to follow through on this. If he let it go, he wasn’t doing her any favors. And, he’d have to make this real.
He sat on the vanity. “Ok, Trisha, get over my knee.” Trisha minced forward nervously and laid herself over Ron’s lap. He guided her with his arm, pulling her forward until her bottom was angled up high and her nose was inches from the floor. She raised her head and noticed that the floor mirror was right in front of her. She could see her face and the crowns of her buttocks behind her. She shivered as Ron rested his hand on her left bottom cheek.
“Trisha, this is going to sting. It has to if it’s going to do any good. I’m going to spank you until I think it’s enough, but it will probably be for two or three minutes. Don’t try to wriggle off. You know you deserve this right?”
“Yes, Ron. I’m sorry.”
“All right then. Here we go.”
Smack! Trisha felt a tingle as Ron’s hand connected forcefully with her left bottom cheek. Then smack! Another fell on the right. Then several more times his palm smacked her bottom. Then he seemed to pause. It was almost a pleasant tingly sensation. But then he shifted her a little and started up again, as if earlier he had been merely experimenting.
Smack! Smack! Now the spanks were coming at a steady tempo. She felt a hot stinging sensation in her buttocks that grew in intensity as sharp smacks continued to assault her bottom. The tempo did not let up. The sting grew more intense. She wriggled, reacting to the heat that was building in her bottom.
Ron carefully spanked Trisha’s bottom with firm but measured smacks. He worked from the crowns of her buttocks down to the tops of her thighs, alternating cheeks and spreading the impacts around. Her bottom was full and fleshy and it quivered when his palm struck. She was clearly in some distress now. He could tell by the way she was wriggling. And she started to emit little whimpers. It was definitely getting to her.
Ow! This was really starting to hurt, thought Trisha. The smacks sounded like shots or firecrackers in the enclosed bedroom. She fluttered her legs and bounced up and down, but Ron held her down with his brawny arm across the small of her back. She wasn’t going anywhere. She looked straight ahead. In the mirror she could see her face. Yow! This really stung! Tears were welling up. She could see Ron, his brow furrowed with concentration, as he lifted his arm and brought it down again and again.
Her bottom is getting red, thought Ron. He continued the spanking with brisk volleys of smacks.
“Ow…Ron! Oh…ahhh,” she started to become more vocal now. It was stinging so bad.
“I had hoped…smack!…this wouldn’t be…smack!…necessary, but here we are….smack! smack!” said Ron, peppering her seat with steady spanks. “Do you…smack!…understand you made a bad choice?” Smack! Smack!
“Oh…ow…I’ve learned my lesson. No more smoking. Please Ron!”
“I hope so,” said Ron. “But we are not done yet.” Ron proceeded to smack Trisha’s wriggling behind with increased vigor and faster delivery. Trisha wailed as Ron doled out a last twenty hard fast spanks to a bottom that was now very, very red. Trisha broke down sobbing. That was it. Ron stopped. It was enough.
Gently Ron stood her up. He stood up and hugged her, smoothing her hair. She put her face in his chest and sobbed. For a few minutes they just stood there, then Ron took her shoulders and pulled her up facing him.
“I know that was a real spanking and it made you cry, Trisha. But if it hadn’t been real, it wouldn’t have done you any good. You took your punishment very bravely.” He kissed her forehead gently. “Now there’s just one other thing.”
Trisha looked up with through teary eyes. “Yes?”
“I want you to stand over there in the corner facing the wall. I want you to think and reflect. Will you do that? I’ll go prepare supper and then we’ll have a nice meal together.”
Trisha nodded. Ron let go and started to leave the bedroom. He turned at the door. “Right over there, Trisha,” he said pointing. Obviously he was going to make sure she did it. Obediently Trisha walked to the corner and faced it. Ron left.
Trisha was a stew of emotions. Her bottom throbbed. It was hot and it felt like it was glowing. She bet her cheeks were as red as a fire engine. At the same time she felt intensely loved. It was so intimate. An emotional barrier had been breached. Ron had corrected her exactly according to their agreement and he hadn’t held back. The spanking had been firm and measured, and given with a genuine concern for her well being. But it had been hard enough to produce tears. And there was something else. She was intensely sexually aroused. And she’d noticed Ron. He’d been getting hard; she’d felt it beneath her. But he had restrained himself. He could have tumbled her into bed at any time but he’d held back. He had not cheapened the level of intimacy by turning a chastisement for a real fault of hers into sex. In her ruminations she almost didn’t hear Ron calling her, telling her it was time to eat.
She ate standing up at the breakfast bar. She was too sore to sit yet. After dinner Ron suggested that he rub some cold cream on her bottom and she assented. That act progressed into the most intense sex the pair of them had ever had. Ron was strong and virile and Trisha felt an unbridled passion that kept her wanting more and more of her masterful lover. Somehow the spanking had torn away her inhibitions. They embraced each other and made love with an intensity that Trisha had previously only dreamed of. It sustained them both for hours.
Six weeks later….
Trisha sat at the kitchen table, the pack of cigarettes in front of her. Ron wasn’t home yet. She stared at the cigarettes. It was the craving. But how? Then she looked out at the lake. I know, she thought. The boat. She walked out on the dock, lowered herself into the boat.
She knew the consequence. He’d order her upstairs in that commanding voice of his that she found so thrilling. She’d strip and wait, that wait that was both exciting and awful. Waiting in her nakedness, her stomach would be full of butterflies, imagining what was coming. She’d hear his footsteps on the stairs, coming closer. The door would open, and she’d hear the springs creak as he sat on the bed. Then the command—- to get across his knees —her naked, he fully clothed. And then she’d feel that vulnerable feeling, lying over his knee, helpless, her bare behind sticking up in the air. There would be the feel of his palm, patting, testing her bottom, his touch like an electric shock. Then that first smack. The hot sting. Then more and more hot spanks until it took her breath away. The sting in her rear would intensify, the spanks falling methodically. Her bottom would burn, mildly at first and then hotter as the spanks piled one on top of the other. She’d squirm in his steely grip, flutter her legs. It would do no good. Tears would come. She’d cry, then it would be over and it would be a hug and time in the corner. That’s when the sexual frission would really rise, when she stood naked with a hot glowing bottom thinking about later. And then later, they’d make love. It would be wild, uninhibited, passionate.
She felt all shivery inside yet flushed hotly. It was the craving.
But not for the cigarette. She’d kicked that habit. No, this craving was new. She wanted the ritual of the punishment and all the attendant emotions it invoked-the delicious shame of her nakedness, the fear while she awaited his footsteps, the vulnerability when she was over his knee, the intimacy of his palm smacking her bottom, the arousal that resulted. The spanking stung atrociously, true, but it was so intimate—a just lesson administered by a loving male. And the loving afterwards. It was her new drug. She’d have to tell him eventually. She couldn’t keep pretending to be addicted to cigarettes. But that would be easy. That Spencer contract could be altered to cover a lot of faults, and she had plenty. Like taking his boat out alone?
Once more then I’ll pick something else, she decided. I can’t be too obvious. But he always checks on his boat when he gets home. She flipped out a cigarette and lit up. When she finished she left the butt right on the seat. She went back to the house….and waited anxiously for Ron to get home.
From the short story collection, The Puritan Museum.