by DJ Black
Louise Garland was late. In fact she was always late, a habit she was fully inculcating her daughter to follow, she thought bitterly. Ever since her divorce some three years before, her new found business talent and freedom had come at a price. Namely, her domestic situation had gone to hell.
She eyed the stop light with irritation, as if by pure force of will she could make it change. "Come on, come," she muttered. A glance to her watch told her she was already two minutes late; if she didn't get caught at any more lights she might just get there by five past.
After one more glance at the light she reached for her compact and popped it open for the mirror. Her war paint was more or less intact and she alternately closed each dark brown eye to squint at her liner. Her hair too, a somewhat mediocre mid-brown was immaculately combed, and she decided that she could pass muster for business and certainly a meeting with Karen's tutor, Dr Archer.
Thoughts of the man made her tummy flip and she told herself it was just another business arrangement, nothing more. Someone behind beeped a horn and Louise startled. The light had gone and changed on her unnoticed.
"Okay, okay, you're not the only one in a hurry pal," she growled through gritted teeth.
As she stepped from the car Louise smoothed down her tight pencil business skirt and checked the hem in back. Then with a final tongue-wipe of her teeth lest she have any stray lipstick on them she tugged once on her jacket and made ready to cross the street to the lion's den.
"Here goes," she muttered and gave a huge sigh.
Dr Archer's front lawn was manicured and featureless apart from an irregular sweep of paving stones that sat flush to the grass as they formed a curved path to the white planked house.
It looked friendly enough, but the door seemed large and uncompromising like that of a high school principle and Louise caught her breath. For some reason the skin on her bottom tightened and she defended it from an unseen assault with a stray right hand.
"It's just a chat," she said aloud as she raised a finger to press the bell.
The door took almost 40 seconds to open, which strangely dragged as Louise composed herself. Then the man was there, larger than she remembered and carrying himself with a stern demeanour she did not recall.
Dr Archer regarded her silently for a moment and then offered her his second best formal smile.
"Mrs Garland, and only seven minutes late today," Roland Archer said without a hint of sarcasm.
"Sorry I was..." Actually she could not remember why she had been delayed today, but Dr Archer was no longer listening anyway and merely ushered her into the hall.
"Life coaching, wasn't it?" he said as he waved a casual arm towards a brown leather sofa on the far side of his study. "And time management with a view to personal organising?"
"Yes... I mean I am sure my business organising is less than brilliant, but I have a PA for that and..." Louise gushed.
Archer held up a hand to stop her and reaffirmed that she should sit. Louise's daughter Karen had sat on the couch many times, when she had been able anyway, but this was a first in his inner sanctum for her mother.
"I won't expand upon my methods; you are already familiar through my handling of Karen," Archer began, "However..."
"Well yes, but surely it won't quite be the same in my-" Louise began.
Again Archer's arm went up like a traffic cop and she faltered.
"I think we should get something clear at the outset; that is if we mean to go on with this arrangement," he said. "When I am talking, you are not; is that acceptable?" He smiled with real warmth.
"Yes, I'm sorry," Louise made a face of contrition and sat back.
"Look, I have some consent forms and a contract of sorts; the usual stuff, 28 days' notice to quit and so on... but let's cut to the chase. We will agree some clear targets and you will keep a journal outlining your progress and noting failures to meet those targets: for instance lateness, prevarication and that sort of thing. I will help you assess your progress and provide penalties and incentives." Archer pursed his lips and smiled.
Louise swallowed and flushed some as she took this in. "Sounds fair enough," she said thickly, suddenly having trouble with a dry mouth.
She knew where this was leading but she struggled with him spelling it out. After all, the plan was that the possible threat to her... comfort, would be enough. It would also salve her conscience about signing off on Archer's handling of Karen.
"Good," Archer nodded. "Now tell me your views and experience of corporal punishment." He sat back and regarded her like an oriental monk.
Louise opened her mouth in shock and then closed it again.
"Really," she said, "I mean I am in favour and all... but I guess I have much the same experience as anyone else." Louise shifted uncomfortably.
"When was the last time you got a spanking?" Archer asked bluntly.
Louise blushed. "You mean apart from my ex?"
"Were they discipline spankings?" Archer prodded her.
"Kind of... but not exactly..." Louise returned a stiff smile and squirmed.
"When was your last truly disciplinary spanking?" Archer pressed her.
"Look I don't know," Louise began, bristling slightly.
Archer sighed and looked at his watch. "It is relevant," he said.
Louise blew out a slow breath and then shrugged.
"Okay, I was 22 or 23," she told him, not meeting his gaze.
"After you married?" the tutor leaned forward.
Louise nodded. "I had just had Karen and things weren't going so well. After a row at home I left my husband..." she snorted mirthlessly, "...quite literally holding the baby. I went back to my parents," Louise winced, "but they were less than entirely understanding. My father spanked me, and how." Louise made a purse of her lips and shrugged again as she looked away.
"Do you want to expand?"
"No," Louise muttered. "But I will. I had it coming, I know that. My folks said I wasn't too old for a good sounding spanking and they were right. Pop made me go out to the washroom out back and take my pants down, just like always. I had to bend across the washer just like always, with my bare butt sticking out. Pop gave me, I don't know... a good workout anyway, with his belt."
"Did you cry?"
"Oh yah," Louise pulled a face. "I couldn't sit down too well afterwards."
"How did you feel about it?" Archer had picked up a small book now and had begun making notes.
"Like I said, I definitely had it coming, but it was embarrassing... especially as they had me stand in the corner with my red sore hiney on show... it was kind of a tradition in our house growing up." Louise let out a long slow breath.
"Was anyone else present?" Archer scribbled something.
"Not that time," Louise said, expressing a long felt relief. "But back when I lived at home only a year or so before, then yeah, anyone who happened to be there got to see me get it and definitely saw me in the corner. Then there was Alec of course." She sighed. "So embarrassing..."
"My husband, he came to get me you see." She smiled ruefully. "I was still in the corner when he arrived."
"How do you feel about it now? I mean what did you learn from the experience?" Archer sounded kind and matter-of-fact.
Louise felt that this was a key question and she took a breath. Be honest, she decided, after all it was why she had come here and it was a core belief, if not a comfortable one.
"I guess... I guess I learned that a girl is never too old for a good old fashioned bare bottom spanking. I know it did me good and... and although I didn't appreciate it at the time I am grateful, even for the embarrassment; I kind of needed taking down a peg or two. That's where Karen is ahead of the game I suppose."
"Karen? What is she to do with this?" the tutor asked; he was surprised now.
"Why... she kicks up a storm at the time, especially if I spank her, but she always says sorry and gives me an occasional thank you afterwards. She thinks the world of you... Dr Archer this and Dr Archer that..." Louise forgot her embarrassment and was gushing again.
Archer laughed and nodded. It was his turn to be embarrassed. "Well I never..." He coughed. "So let's... eh... let's talk details and... if you like my programme then we can get to the paperwork and settle the financial arrangements," he added.
Louise sighed and put down the pen. "That all seems... well anyway, thank you Dr Archer I think we have a plan."
Now that she had gone over it, it all seemed rather workaday. All she had to do was set objectives for herself each day, each week and each month and then discuss with Dr Archer what would help and what might hinder her targets. Swot analysis, he called it. Also she had to write down every time she was late in her little notebook and say why she had been late.
"There is just one other thing now," Archer said as he cast a final eye over the papers and put them in the out tray on his desk for filing.
"Oh yes," Louise said pleasantly.
"A small matter of you being late here today," Archer said sharply. His eyes were severe and appraising and Louise could see why Karen was often apprehensive about her sessions with him.
"Yes I am sorry about that, but I was only..." she began; a well-used and meaningless excuse just a tongue-flick from her lips.
"There is no 'only' when it comes to you being late," Archer cut her off. "You are late by habit and I have no doubt that in your case delay piles upon delay until you can never catch up."
"Tell me Mrs Garland, why were you late today?" Archer asked her pointedly.
"Well I..." She couldn't remember. "I just got a bit behind and the traffic was worse than I..."
"The traffic, what in Abraham Heights?" He cocked one eyebrow. "Not one road transport situation in a hundred is ever going to make one more than two minutes late for anything. And in your case even that margin is denied you. From now on you will leave at least a five minute margin for every appointment, no excuses. So see it does not arise."
"Yes I'll be sure to..." Louise began.
"No, what you will do is remove your jacket and skirt before putting your nose in that corner," Archer told her.
Louise closed her mouth and followed his nod to a space between an antique chest and a scroll-arm divan that stood against the wall at right angles to it. Now that she looked, the corner between looked conveniently vacant.
"Surely..." She licked her lips nervously as absently she pointed to the space.
"At 40, was it? You won't be the oldest girl to stand there, but you come pretty close," he chuckled. "And you have no idea how often I wanted to see you there. All those times you were late collecting Karen."
"Dr Archer," she remonstrated, "Now that I know... I mean I promise that I won't..."
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