TANYA Whitfield had it coming. Of that fact there was no dispute. That is was as radical as it was, was an indication of the urgency with which her stepfather ( and other interested persons) had deemed it necessary to respond to the teenager's declining behaviour trend.
Being seventeen, touching adulthood physically but not quite intellectually, had been her downfall. Her adolescent impulses had not deserted her and showed no sign of doing so for the foreseeable future.
She was lovely; there was no denying that fact. In Imperial parlance she measured under five and a half foot. Her weight, depending on whether she was encumbered by her traditional garb of Doc Maartens boots and heavy jackets or was undergoing her quarterly school physical examination where the permissible jewelry items would provide the only variance from her true mass, was around the 48kg mark. Tanya was not a big girl from a height and weight perspective. She was well proportioned for her weight and height. Her most prominent feature was, indeed, her most prominent feature. Although not quite in the Linzi Dawn McKenzie mode, she was an extremely well-endowed teenager, more resembling a scaled-down version of Sam Fox. Except that she was not blonde. She wore her dark hair fashionably cut into a bob-style, which complemented her pretty face ideally. Her complexion allowed her to suntan a light, golden brown during the summer months, although she had the sense to treat the sun's rays with respect. All these features, coupled with lovely legs and a firm bottom, made Tanya Whitfield a highly aesthetic image. But her darker side was gaining prominence and Colin Maynard, to name but one, had had enough.
Maynard was, for want of a better classification, Tanya's legal guardian. Forty-four, he had been married to her mother for two-and-a-half stormy years. Tanya, whose real father she had never known, had stayed on with Colin Maynard after the breakup of the marriage. She had never had a very bonded relationship with her mother. The onset of adolescence had only made their relationship worse and the two females bickered like cat and dog rather than mother and daughter. Maynard, having only become acquainted with the girl when she was fourteen and a half, had not felt it his duty to begin imposing discipline on her. So while Tanya and her mother fought, Maynard took little action to keep the teenager in line. If truth be told, he had begun to regret marrying the woman soon after they had tied the knot. As much as he felt the teenager needed firm discipline, he did not have it in him to side with her mother.
As part of the divorce agreement, Maynard consented to support the daughter in exchange for being allowed to keep the house which, under normal circumstances, would have had to have been sold and the proceeds therefrom shared. Financially, it had made sense. The girl was almost off his hands. She was not university material, so the spectre of looming higher education fees seemed highly unlikely. He also enjoyed the presence about the house of the shapely teenager. Typical of the modern teen, her midriff seemed to be perpetually bare, over weekends in particular, as too-small t-shirts and halters were the rule rather than the exception. She would walk casually around the house clad only in panties and t-shirt . He would not deny that he longed for a peek at those parts of her anatomy he would naturally have viewed in a perfectly normal context had she been his own daughter, raised from a baby. She persisted in doing things like rushing from the bathroom, shower or the swimming-pool area through the house to her bedroom, her modesty being barely retained by some strategically placed towel, item of clothing, hand, arm or combination thereof. He had then discerned a noticeable increase in these occurrences. He hadn't minded, of course. He maintained what he hoped would appear to an observer, to be non-interest. He did not want to be perceived as being a lecherous stepfather-cum-guardian. But he did look; and how he looked. ..
Tanya, from her side, became even more blatant. Bathroom and shower doors were, intentionally or otherwise, left ajar. Getting dressed or undressed in her bedroom had virtually ceased to be done behind closed doors but she appeared to always do this in such a way that the interesting bits of her anatomy were obscured. At first, Tanya would appear not to notice her guardian's glances her way while she was in one of these partially clothed states. She then, however, began to display an increasing degree of annoyance, culminating in an outburst when he (genuinely) mistakably entered the bathroom just as she was emerging from the shower. Colin Maynard had been looking down and had seen nothing he shouldn't have seen before she retreated rapidly into the shower stall. "Don't do that!" she had hissed angrily. "You keep doing that," she had added as Maynard beat a hasty withdrawal from the bathroom.
"Sorry, sorry!" he offered, and left it at that.
Later, however, she broached the subject again, in a manner that Colin Maynard resented. Out of the shower and fully dressed, she had confronted him by suggesting that he was deliberately invading her privacy in an improper way. He had been taken aback and expressed outrage that she should make such an accusation.
In a subsequent development, Maynard became further enraged by his cheeky charge's suggestions when, he returned home early from work one weekday. From the tinted lounge window he could see Tanya, with her back to him, sitting at the edge of the swimming pool with her legs in the water. She was naked. In the pool were two boys of about the same age as she. Another girl, who Maynard recognised as one of Tanya's classmates at Edgemeadow High, was suntanning herself, topless, on the lawn. Tanya's guardian watched, transfixed, as one of the boys began waving a bikini bottom, obviously hers, above his head like some trophy. Her response was to arch herself out towards him, obviously providing the boy with a clear view of her privates, and splashing water in his direction with her feet. Beating a hasty retreat from the window, lest he provide the girl with further reason to consider him a dirty old man, Maynard's realised that Tanya was not the innocent young lady she was purporting herself to be. He was both hurt and livid.
Her general behaviour, both at home and at school, had begun showing a steady decline. Maynard had been forced to resort to gating her for part of weekends and docking her weekly allowance in an attempt to curtail her wayward tendencies. The culmination occurred with a phone call Maynard received at work from the school secretary at Tanya's school. The headmaster would like to see him, as the girl's guardian, as a matter of extreme urgency; preferably that same afternoon. The secretary would only divulge that it concerned a serious transgression of the school's Code of Conduct. Colin Maynard had little choice but to comply with the request.
When he arrived at the headmaster's office, having had to cancel an important work appointment in order to be there, he had had to wait for some twenty-five minutes in the reception area before the door was opened for the headmaster to show an anxious-faced man, slightly younger than Maynard, out of the office. The man was obviously a parent. Maynard was then shown into the office.
Tanya was in serious trouble. The school head made that clear from the outset. She, together with two classmates, had been caught playing truant for three consecutive days. A note, purportedly signed by her guardian, in which her absence from school was excused because of 'sinus problems" had been forged. She had owned up only when her co-conspirators, both boys, had inadvertently implicated her. Tanya had subsequently admitted to forging, in addition to her own note, the others' as well. The headmaster had, on hearing this, examined all three letters and been amazed at how genuine these had appeared. He had just finished discussing the matter with a parent of each of the boys. The man Maynard had seeing leaving the office had been, he now realised, one of the boys' father.
The headmaster explained that, while the boys could expect little mercy, he considered Tanya to have played a pivotal role in the incident. Having forged the letters, the headmaster explained, made her liable for even more severe disciplinary action than was facing her two male classmates. The tone and mood of the head made Maynard nervous. What decision had he arrived at? Expulsion, and all the resulting complications seemed the only possible consequence of Tanya's actions.
"The boys will be severely dealt with," the headmaster explained solemnly. He did not elaborate. "Your, er- stepdaughter," he continued, searching for the right word, "has become, and I will be frank with you, Mr Maynard, a serious problem at the school."
"I know that there were some problems," Maynard offered feebly. "But I didn't realise they were as serious as this…" He trailed off. He had known for some time that Tanya had been giving problems at school. Her teachers had raised the point often enough of late at teacher-parent meetings. Her report card had shown a drastic academic deterioration.
"To make matters worse, I have been forced to examine her absenteeism records." The headmaster drew Colin Maynard's attention to a sheet of notebook paper on the desk blotter. "I won't go into exact dates, unless you really want me to do that; save to say that I can assure you that I have discovered that this instance of truancy is not an isolated case. Not by a long way."
"How will she be punished?" ventured Maynard. "I realise that she will have to be very harshly dealt with," he added hopefully. Anything to ward off the impending e-word.
"Expulsion seems my only choice," said the headmaster. "I have enough leeway as regards the punishment I can mete out to the two boys. But disciplining Tanya poses something of a dilemma. I'm sure you understand the point I'm making."
"You mean the cane, headmaster?"
"Precisely. I have not yet administered their punishments, but I will shortly. After school today, to be exact." He looked at Colin Maynard earnestly. "Departmental regulations allow me to administer up to six cuts with a heavy cane. Parental approval for anything in excess of this is required. This I have just been received. Each boy will receive eight - yes, eight strokes - with the heavy cane this afternoon. On their bare buttocks, " he added.
Maynard was clutching at straws. "I understand your predicament, but there must be some alternative punishment, although the cane would seem to be the only fitting punishment in this case."
The head's eyes lit up. "Exactly. But it's not permissible; at least not in the formal school environment. The hostel's of certain boarding schools do permit the caning of girl pupils, but that's not an option in this case."
"What do you suggest?" enquired Colin Maynard. Maybe there was an escape route after all.
"I must be very honest," he replied. "I don't have a practical suggestion to offer; short of asking you to remove Tanya from Edgemeadow High." Sighing deeply, he looked up at the ceiling. "In the best interest of maintaining good order at the school, your stepdaughter needs to receive substantial more severe punishment than that of the two boys."
"Why don't you cane her then?" Maynard was virtually pleading with the head to consider this option. "You have my permission. I shouldn't be saying this, but she deserves it"
"That's just the problem," said the headmaster. "I am expressly forbidden from administering corporal punishment to female pupils."
"Who would know?" offered Maynard weakly.
"No, that's not an option" repeated the head. He then looked Maynard in the eye. "Do you agree that Tanya needs to be made to change her ways drastically very soon?"
"Yes, I do," replied Colin Maynard, eagerly. "I most certainly agree."
"Do you also agree that it may be necessary to impose a radical solution to achieve the desired effect?"
"How drastic? Do you want me to give Tanya a caning?" Much as the prospect of dealing with the teenager in this way appealed to Maynard, especially given that his anger at the bathroom episode had not yet subsided, he had serious doubts over his ability to mete out such punishment.
"No," answered the head immediately. He then proceeded to rummage in a desk drawer and took out a business-type card. He did not hand it to Colin Maynard straight away. "We may have a solution here," he said. "It's -er - unconventional. But it is effective. Very effective," he emphasided.
Relief began to permeate its way into Maynard's demeanour. "Tell me more," he asked.
"I have the name and contact details," the headmaster said, indicating the card is his hand, " the name of someone I know and respect well. He, in addition to being an extremely learned academic, and a highly respected one too, I might add, is also astute in the creation and imposition of individually-catered discipline regimes."
"Is he a teacher?" asked Colin Maynard.
"He was one. He left the profession some time ago to pursue a more lucrative career writing mathematics text books. You may, possibly, know him. He used to teach at this very school."
"Who is he?" enquired Maynard. He was interested. "How does he operate?" he added.
The headmaster took a tangible few seconds to choose his words. Then he spoke. "Put simply; he operates beyond the school discipline restrictions imposed by the education authorities. I have recommended his services to others before and I can vouch for his methods being effective."
Colin Maynard didn't say anything. He waited for the headmaster to elaborate further.
"I won't explain the finer details, Mr Maynard," the headmaster said. " I would prefer you to speak to him personally."
"I shall do that," responded Colin Maynard.
The head continued. "At the outset, I must emphasise that should you agree to send Tanya to this expert, she cannot expect to be treated any differently from the boys. In fact, in order to satisfy the need to commensurate punishment, I would expect her to receive substantially more severe correction. If you agree to listen to what my - er former colleague - has to suggest, I will lay the groundwork by contacting him to fill him in on the background to this matter. "
"What happens then?" asked Maynard.
"You will then have to contact him to arrange a meeting. " The head then pushed the card across the desk to Maynard who read the name.
Arthur Barton. The name rang a bell. The headmaster put him out of his misery. "A former teacher at this very school," he announced. "A few very wayward pupils have benefited from his special brand of correction."
Before Maynard could fire more questions, the headmaster dropped his
It was tantamount to an ultimatum to the teenager's guardian. He announced
immediate suspension of Tanya from school pending the "mutual agreement"
himself and Maynard as to "suitably severe punishment and corrective
be instituted against the schoolgirl." A deadline of two days was set;
by Maynard , or preferably Arthur Barton, to confirm the pending application
such measures against the girl would convert the suspension to permanent
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