by Earl Javorsky
Herb Baumgartner considered the idea of getting spanked. It was worth it, bearing a little pain—in theory at least—if his wife really could then be over it, get off it, forget about whatever new infraction she had invented for him, and just allow them to be free of it.
To be precise, it had been Doctor Hofflinger’s theory. Herb remembered the session when the Good Doctor had first brought it up:
“What do you mean, let her spank me?” Herb had said, astonished. Even Janice’s jaw had dropped for a second, a look quickly transformed into an expression of somber consideration, a funny sideways nod, as though the idea wasn’t really that far out.
“Spank,” said Hofflinger, smacking his hand on his fat thigh, his head bald with a fringe, smooth pink face and a squinty left eye. “Spank you like the naughty child she thinks you are.”
“Why the hell would I let her do that?” Herb looked at his watch, thinking about how many more sessions were covered by the insurance, aware that Annie had caught his time-check and now had a fresh excuse to be pissed.
“Because your surrender to it will win the trust she needs to develop in order to breakthrough to a new relationship paradigm.” Stanley Hofflinger, PhD, beamed at Janice, laced his fingers together and stretched his arms over his head, then turned back to Herb.
Herb drummed his fingers on the armrest of the leather sofa he lounged in, his wife sitting straight up at the other end, and considered just closing his eyes and tuning out. Tempting, it was, to just nod off for a bit and let the witch break through on her own.
. . .
That night they had dinner at Sabatino’s. Janice let Herb eat his veal and angel hair pasta without mentioning their session. They shared a bottle of Valpolicella and discussed his work—“Why, as partner, can’t you vote yourself a raise?”—his clothes— “You know, there’s a Barney’s outlet in the Valley now. You could get rid of some of those antique suits you wear”—and their daughter—“She lives in a dorm on campus, for God’s sake; she doesn’t need a damned car.” Herb chewed and sipped; he nodded his head occasionally. There were no adequate responses, and Janice was quite used to talking to herself.
They ordered dessert and coffee. Herb liked to spoon vanilla ice cream into his coffee and then eat it; the rich, sweet flavor and the combination of hot and cold pleased him immensely, and he closed his eyes to savor the effect. From across the table, Janice merely said, “Well?”
. . .
Now, on the way home in the car, Janice was telling him the details of what they were going to do. She had obviously spent some time thinking about it—perhaps even been given specific coaching from Hofflinger, whom she had called by cell phone and chatted with as they drove to the restaurant.
. . .
So she enumerated the stations of his cross: They would bathe; they would have a drink (just one); they would proceed to the bedroom; Herb would stand at the end of the bed, facing the headboard; he would bend over and place his hands on the bed . . .
. . .
Just one drink turned into three, but otherwise Herb faithfully followed the script. The first drink got him to the bathtub; the second—on top of the wine at dinner—put him in a dreamy state where he was quite content to go along with the show. Janice actually looked quite lovely in the candlelight. She washed his feet and moved her soapy hands up his legs, stopping just short of a more satisfying contact and telling him to turn around. She then scrubbed his back with a loofah. Her manner was brisk and businesslike; she was in charge now and it suited her perfectly.
They rinsed and then stepped out onto the bathroom mat. Janice wrapped a towel around herself, cinched it, and used a second towel to dry Herb. She had never done this before; except for when they first dated in college, they had never bathed together. Now she was drying his chest, under his arms, his face, then down between his legs, her hands strong behind the fabric. Herb pointed to the bottle of Remy on the counter. Janice shrugged, so he poured his third and downed it as she led him to the bedroom.
More candles, scented with a touch of vanilla, the bedspread pulled back, the sheets brand new Egyptian cotton. Janice walked him to the side of the bed and touched his hand to the sheet before releasing it. Herb stood awkwardly, bent at the waist, allowing his weight to rest on both hands against the fabric.
The first stroke came as a surprise, as if he hadn’t really expected her to go through with it, or at least thought there might be some further preparation, but no, there it was, a sharp, resounding smack that stung and made him jerk forward with a slight, involuntary grunt. There was no script for what they would do next, so he waited, his bent shadow huge against the bedroom wall. He heard labored breathing from the foot of the bed and looked back just in time to see Janice cock her arm back and bring it down for a second blast on his backside—the same spot exactly—and then a third, upon which she suddenly bellowed “Hoohaw!” and rested herself against him, hands on his hips, her pubic hair tickling his sore ass. Janice had never said “Hoohaw” in her entire life, and had always been subdued and prim, especially in the sack.
It was getting fucking irritating now, but just as Herb was about to say, “Enough, already,” Janice reached from behind and cupped his balls with a hand hot as fresh toast.
. . .
Hot, Janice thought. This was hot like when she and Herb were new, like sex in his car, hot now even with their loose skin and flabby middle-age flesh. Herb had drifted into his own orbit so long ago, and she into hers, and now there was this spark that could bring their orbits into synch again, or at least to a moment’s intersection. Janice bent over and kissed Herb on the shoulder blade, the wild hair on his back, curly and brown, tickling her lip, while she caressed him with her left hand. She turned him around and took him eagerly.
. . .
Three weeks later, Herb was playing golf with his best friend Barry Crandall, a stockbroker who had been cheating on his wife since she got pregnant with their first child. After the third hole, Herb noticed that Barry was walking oddly. At the fifth, he decided to ask about it.
“Knee bothering you again?”
Barry, who had been remarkably cheerful even though his game was off, stared down at his ball and said, “Nope. Knee’s fine.”
When Barry started lining up his next shot, Herb said, “Well, you’re walking funny.”
Barry let his club swing like a pendulum over the ball as he looked out over the fairway. He finally looked up at Herb and said, “I’ve got a sore ass.”
“Hemorrhoids?” Herb was beginning to wish he hadn’t pressed the issue.
Now Barry took a step forward, close up to Herb, then looked around before fixing his eyes on Herb’s and saying, “Strictly private now, right?”
“Absolutely. One hundred per cent.”
“Ellen got us into therapy. Some goofball that your wife told her about. He came up with this fucking wild idea . . .” Barry paused. His mouth closed, then opened again, his eyes desperate now, committed but clearly wanting to get off the hook.
“Spanking?” Herb volunteered. He hoped his sympathetic smile wouldn’t morph into a smirk.
Barry shook his head. “Where in the world would you get that idea? I mean, how did you guess? Oh my God, you’ve got to be kidding.”
They proceeded in silence, playing badly and not caring.
Over beers in the clubhouse, Barry finally brought it up again. “I hate it, but it’s worth it. Unbelievable, really.”
Herb nodded and said, “Hey, I know. I haven’t had this much fun in years.”
“Fun?” Barry drained his Heineken. “Twenty years of legal secretaries, lady lawyers, and law students—none of them holds a candle to Ellen. It’s like we’re on a fucking honeymoon.”
Herb raised his bottle in a toast: “Here’s to fucking honeymoons!”
. . .
Janice drove home from the market and started dinner. Salmon, scalloped potatoes, creamed broccoli, salad with garlic bread. Dessert, even. They had started going to the gym together; she wanted to firm up, be more attractive to him. Herb had even bought two new suits—they had shopped together at Nordstrom—and looked quite handsome in them. She, in turn, had agreed that their daughter should have a car. Well, why not? What had her resistance been? She couldn’t remember. That Dr. Hofflinger was a genius.
Later, after dinner, after the ritual bath, the three drinks, the drying him off, they caressed by the bed. Herb nuzzled her freshly shampooed hair, then sighed and, turning to the bed, assumed the position.
Janice stood gazing fondly at her husband’s hairy back. They had, at Dr. Hofflinger’s suggestion, taken it up a notch and added a riding crop, which she now flicked through the air several times, marveling at the whirring sound it made, the promise it offered. The phone rang, but she ignored it. On the fourth ring, the answering machine picked up. After listening to her own voice on the outgoing message, Janice heard Ellen Crandall saying, “Pick up, for God’s sake, you’ve got to see this!”
Janice sighed. The spell was broken, but the mood could be revived; she went to the phone and picked it up.
“Hi, Ellen, can I get back to you in a bit?”
Ellen’s voice was breathless. “You’ve got to turn on the television. I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
Janice shook her head. “I can’t do that right now. What the hell is going on?” She watched Herb pour himself a fourth drink.
A shriek came from the phone. “There he is again, look at him, for Christ’s sake. Janice? It’s on the news. Dr. Hofflinger is getting busted at some S&M parlor in the Valley. He’s wearing mesh nylons and a fuzzy pink sweater that says, ‘I’m a naughty little boy.’ Can you fucking believe it? They’re pushing him into a police car!”
Janice told Ellen she would call her back later. She turned to Herb, who raised his eyebrows questioningly, and led him back to the bed. She would have to tell him eventually, but not at this particular moment.
About the Author:
Dan Howard was born Daniel Earl Javorsky in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and novelist. His novels include Down Solo and Trust Me, and a sequel to Down Solo has just been released.