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Views: 2169 Created: 2014.06.14 Updated: 2014.06.14

A Different Job

A Different Job

This was an attempt to take one of the standard themes from flagellatory writing and try to give it a slightly different slant-- I originally intended it as the first in a two- or three- episode series, but so far haven't managed to complete the second episode. Maybe I shouldn't. Any critical comments would be most welcome...

Jim had taken the job on a whim. On extended stress leave from work, he had been offered a two-month contract to act as a sort of combined personal assistant, media officer and website maintainer for an opera singer. It had sounded sufficiently different, and also sufficiently easy, that it would be a therapeutic break, as well as providing a modest additional income. As well he found Christine Marchwood... interesting. A handsome-looking woman in her forties she was friendly, unassuming and an intelligent and very amusing conversationalist. And she had treated Jim more as a friend or relative than an employee from the moment he arrived at her house at the beginning of his first week. Yet there was an indefinable air of aloofness somewhere there-- some part of her personality that seemed walled off. And then there was the curious conversation on the evening of his first day. Jim had finished tidying up the papers in the little office that opened just off her living room, and was switching off the computer, when Christine had appeared at the office door. “Thank you for everything, James,” she smiled, “it's been a long day. Would you care for a drink before you leave?”

“Thanks very much-- I would.” Jim followed her through the living room and into a small book-lined study. A couple of leather wing chairs were arranged on either side of a small leather-topped table by the window, and on a mahogany desk built into the bookcases stood a tray well equipped with bottles and glasses. Thinking of the drive home, Jim opted for a small glass of red wine and Christine followed suit. She waved him to one of the wing chairs, then sat down herself. “Cheers!” she said and took a long gulp of wine, then put the glass down. “I needed that!” she added with a broad grin. Then the grin faded, and her face changed slightly, becoming somehow slightly austere. “I wonder if you'd mind signing the employment contract we talked about...?” she picked up a sheet of foolscap and passed it to him, “it's mostly the usual sort if stuff I need to have on record to keep the insurance company and the tax people happy. And I've included a paragraph that guarantees your continuance in the position on a part time basis, if you choose, after the two month period is up.” Christine slid a pen across the table to him, and smiled encouragingly.

Jim glanced at the daunting array of paragraphs, squinting at the small type. “Nothing here about my property or my first-born being forefit?” he asked with a smile, as he picked up the pen.

“Nothing like that!” Christine laughed, “my lawyer knows better than to try any nonsense of that kind.” She reached out to take the signed contract, waved it to dry the ink, then placed it carefully in a document case. “The only bit that's a little out of the ordinary is the job performance review requirement.”

“I didn't notice,” Jim confessed.

“It's something that small businesses are encouraged to include-- and I'm happy to. It just formalises the fact that every employee is entitled to continuous job performance evaluation and feedback. Gives them some protection from arbitrary dismissal.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Jim acknowledged. Privately he though it sounded like typical management bullshit and he was rather surprised to hear Christine seemingly buying into it. He drained his glass and got to his feet. “I really should be heading home now.”

“Of course!” Christine jumped up, “I'm sorry to have kept you here in idle chatter-- you must be tired, especially after your first day.

“A bit,” Jim admitted, “but I don't have far to go.

“Thanks again, James, for all your work... I'm so glad to have your help.” She touched his arm briefly as he opened the front door, then waved farewell.

By the end of he first week, Jim was confident he'd found his feet. True there had been the odd bump here and there-- keeping track of appointments with journalists was proving to be more difficult than he'd expected because said journalists seemed almost impossible to get hold of most of the time. And he'd had some irritating problems with the website. But aside from this, things had gone pretty smoothly, and Christine had been a delight to work with; work stress was not going to be a concern in this environment! It was just after eleven when Christine popped her head round the office door. “Come on and have a pre-lunch drink,” she urged him, “it's Friday after all.” Nothing loth, Jim followed her to the study and accepted a muscular gin and tonic-- there were, he reasoned, some four of five hours before he'd be driving.

The G&T wasn't just muscular... it was practically steroidal, and Jim sat down rather abruptly as the first of the gin hit his bloodstream like a depth charge. He took a slow, deep breath and then another. Christine sat down and placed a file folder and a spiral bound red-covered notebook on the table between them. “Now I just want to review our first week together...” Christine's voice sounded a little more distant and formal-- perhaps the effect of the big slug of alcohol he'd just swallowed, Jim thought. He forced himself to concentrate as Christine continued, “and I have to say how impressed I am with your enthusiasm and hard work. But--” she raised a finger as Jim opened his mouth to speak, “I think I've identified three areas for performance improvement that I'd like to discuss.”

“Er...” Jim tried to make sense of this

“You remember, we talked about that when you signed the contract.” Christine smiled very slightly. As you know we agreed that we would conduct regular performance reviews to identify areas for improvement. And this is the first.” She took another sip from her glass, then consulted the file folder which, Jim saw, had his name on the cover in lare black letters. “let me see... we'll start with your media management. Now there were a number of times when planned media interviews did not happen...” Christine picked up the red notebook and flicked through the pages. “yes... four times we were unable to set up interviews-- including the BBC and the opera critic from the Guardian.”

“It's just impossible--” Jim began to protest, but Christine cut him off with a raised hand. “we'll deal with the details later... I'm just outlining the issues that require attention. Second, on my website, not only were the dates of the performances in Chichester incorrect, but the Coventry recital was completely omitted.”

“I did manage to--”

“And finally, “ Christine swept on, ignoring the interruption, “there was the matter of my appointments book-- it was not updated in one instance, and incorrectly updated in another.”

”Shit!” Jim exclaimed before he could stop himself-- that had been a stupid oversight.

“Shit indeed, James,” Christine agreed, “but it is an issue and we will resolve it. Now this is what's going to happen. Right after lunch, I want you to go up to my room--- you know, upstairs, first door on the right-- and wait for me there. Adrian Marlow is joining us for lunch, and she may want to gossip with me for a while afterwards.

”But--” Jim's nascent protest was cut off by a ring at the front door.

“That will be Adrian now,” Christine got up, “let's all go and eat.”

Jim refused a second glass of wine with a shake of his head, and took a sideways look at the clock on the mantlepiece-- after one already! Adrian Marlowe turned out to be an extremely stylish woman of about Christine's age and, like Christine with an occasional undefinable air of distance or aloofness about her. She was also a relaxed conversationalist with a fine line of bitchy put-downs of the great and the good. Jim couldn't think of when he'd enjoyed a meal more. And yet... he glanced at the clock again, but this time Christine caught his eye as he did so. “I think it's time you went upstairs James... I'll be right up.” She turned to Adrian “James and I have our end-of-week review to complete.”

“Well I won't keep you, then...” Adrian made to rise, but Christine motioned her to remain. “At least finish off your wine... I know James won't mind waiting a few minutes.”

As Jim left the room the last thing he saw was the quizzical look on Adrian's face as she bent her head slightly to listen to Christine's lowered voice.

Christine's room must have occupied almost half the floor area upstairs. One wall was lined with bookshelves, another with built-in cupboards and drawers, and a computer work station occupied one corner. There was very little to suggest it was a woman's room, save for a dressing table with an illuminated make-up mirror, and a slight smell of lavender. Beside the work station stood a mahogany cabinet about five feet high and three wide, but very shallow. It was an elegant piece of furniture, glowing oiled wood with linished brass hardware, but its function was not clear. About the only things it was deep enough to contain were DVDs or quite small books. Even as he wondered about this the door opened and Christine appeared. In her hand she held the file folder and notebook he had seen before, and she moved with a brisk purposefulness. “Well, James, Adrian is still busy downstairs deciding which books she wants to borrow from me, so we might as well get this done now.” She strode over to the work station and put notebook and file folder down. “I've reviewed the areas I mentioned, and identified appropriate corrective action and necessary training.

“Er...” Jim looked at her, puzzled... the corporate-speak sounded totally alien on her lips.

“What I mean, James, is that I think the appropriate corrective action will be eighteen strokes with the riding crop...”

“What?” Jim's jaw dropped-- he could not believe his ears-- “you mean...”

“I mean I'm going to give you eighteen strokes-- as part of the corrective action programme you agreed you would accept.”

“But I never--”

“James: you signed a contract specifically agreeing to participation in my performance improvement programme. Now I will not try to enforce that through legal action... if you do not wish to participate, then you may leave-- with no hard feelings on either side. But..... “ for a moment Christine's face softened, ”I should regret that.”

“You want to whip me...?” Jim croaked.

“I do not want to whip you, James. This is not about my desires, but your need for correction and instruction.”

“I don't understand...” Jim struggled to find words and struggled to articulate them. Not only was he confused, but his throat seemed to have tightened, and his tongue swollen so much that he found it difficult to speak. There was no way he was going to let some woman whip him as though were a wayward schoolboy. And yet...

“It is very simple, James... you decide whether you wish to work with me under the conditions we agreed to or not,” Christine smiled.

Jim closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them. Christine still stood there, calm and elegant, and suddenly he realised that he could not leave.. there was something about this woman that compelled him to remain... and he also realised with a sudden start, that the thought of her whipping him made his stomach contract in a not entirely unpleasurable fashion. “I'll stay...” he croaked, his eyes on the floor.

“I'm glad of that... “ Christine's voice was suddenly warm and reassuring, are you sure?”

“Yes, I'm sure...” Jim found it easier to speak, though he still could not meet her gaze.

“Then all you have to do right now is take down your trousers for me... then we can begin.”

Jim hesitated for only a moment, raising his eyes to look at Christine. Her face was smiling, but set... she expected to be obeyed. He slipped off his shoes and, fumbling a little, unfastened his trousers and took them off—it was not the first time he'd done this in front of a woman.

“You may hang them over the back of that chair,” Christine pointed to the straight backed chair that stood beside the dressing table. And you can put your underpants there too,” she added quickly. Obediently Jim peeled off the bikini briefs and put them on the chair with his trousers. Though his shirt provided some coverage, Jim was acutely aware of the fact that for some reason he was becoming very aroused. Christine went to the mahogany cabinet that had so attracted Jim's attention and opened it to reveal serried ranks of canes, crops and straps. She took out a slender tapered rod that must have been almost a yard long, with a little leather flap at its tip, and flexed it. “A rather long whippy riding crop,” she explained, “but perfectly serviceable. Now please bend over the end of the bed, James...”

Jim bent over, pressing his face into the blue candlewick bedspread. He took a deep breath, and the scent of lavender filled his nostrils as he braced himself. He felt a light touch on his bare skin and a slight draught as Christine lifted up his shirt tails to fully expose him, and at that moment felt a wave of physical desire so sharp that it almost made him gasp. A moment later he did gasp as with a sharp “snap!” an intense stinging blow landed on his right cheek. Even as he muffled that gasp, a second stroke landed on his left, followed by four more in very rapid succession on right and left successively. By the time the sixth landed it took all Jim's concentration not to twist away from the intense sting. He managed it, just, and drew a deep breath, inhaling more lavender, and then froze as he felt Christine's fingertips slide gently across the burning spots on his skin. “I'm sure you know I don't enjoy causing you discomfort, James,” she said, and her fingers moved back and forth, “but it is necessary that you understand where mistakes have been made...” Jim felt as though his insides were melting, and for a moment he could have offered up his life for another touch of those fingertips. A pause, then Jim heard a faint “swish” and the crop slapped into his right cheek. It was a significantly harder stroke than the previous six, and in addition to the cold sharp sting there was a solid impact that he felt travel through his flesh. There was a pause of about two seconds, and another “swish”, and the second stroke landed on his left cheek. It was as hard as the first, but Jim was prepared for it, and though the sting was intense, he found it easier to tolerate than the six very rapid strokes that Christine had started with. And the next four, delivered with clockwork precision were, if anything, easier to tolerate... the burning sting offset by the internal “thud” of the impact that provided almost a comforting, contrasting sensation. After the twelfth stroke Christie paused again, and ran her fingers across Jim's skin once more. Jim shivered-- he wondered whether she was leaving welts-- certainly his bottom felt as though it was swollen...

“Only six more strokes to complete our corrective module,” Christine murmured, “and to remind you of the importance of keeping my appointments diary up to date...”

This time there was no doubt about it-- the crop hissed through the air and the tip landed with a loud “crack!” and a sudden blaze of sensation that was something more intense and invasive than pain. Jim gasped aloud, then drew a deep breath, again inhaling the sent of lavender. He slowly exhaled, absorbing the sensation, then took another deep breath. As though that had been a signal, the crop hissed down again and the heat and shockwave bloomed once more. This time Jim did not gasp; there was no shock-- the timing of the stroke had been perfect as it arrived just at the moment when he was physically and mentally poised for it. And again, and again, until Christine delivered the final and eighteenth stroke. Jim felt himself floating.. his bottom burned and throbbed, and felt twice its normal size. And at the same time... still swimming in the scent of lavender, and the vaguely aware of the distant voice of Christine telling him he could stand up, Jim realized that he was becoming very visibly aroused. Christine's voice became clearer. “You may stand up now, James,” she said.

Jim straightened up slowly half-turning as he did so in an effort to hide his erection. He need not have worried, for Christine was already walking across the room to replace the crop in that no longer mysterious cabinet. This she did with considerable deliberation so that Jim had time to struggle into underpants and trousers before she had finished closing and locking the cabinet door. He sat down on the end of the bed to replace his shoes-- and let out an involuntary sigh as his bottom reminded him of the treatment it had just received. Christine watched him with the hint of a mishievous grin then, as he rose to his feet, crossed to him and took his hand. “I am glad you stayed James-- I have come to rely on you.”

“Mmmm... thank you...” Jim muttured, “I should be on my way....” He found it difficult to speak, and was torn between wanting to get out of the house to be by himself and think about what had just happened, and not wanting to let go Christine's hand.

“Won't you stop for a glass of wine?”

“No thanks” Jim felt his face burning. There was no way he could sit down with both these women and hold a normal conversation as though nothing had happened. “Honestly, I do need to get going.”

“Of course” Christine gave his hand a quick squeeze, then led the way downstairs. Adrian looked up from her book and, it seemed to Jim, gave them both a rather knowing look. “Everything settled OK?”

“Yes-- all cleared up. James is just leaving.”

Adrian gave them a casual wave as Christine ushered Jim to the front door then returned to her book. At least she picked the book up, but her thoughts appeared to be elsewhere. She heard the front door close and, shortly after, the sound of a car starting up. Christine came back into the room.

“So I assume you had your wicked way,” Adrian said with a smile, as Christine poured herself a glass of wine.

“He was very sweet, and very responsive,” Christine replied firmly.

“Not scared out of his wits?”

“Actually more confused, I think...”

“Mmmmm...” Adrian looked thoughtful, “he must have more imagination than I gave him credit for.”

“He is intelligent and responsive,” Christine emphasised the remark with a gesture that came perilously close to spilling her wine, “and I'm sure he'll be back.”

Jim parked his car with less than his usual precision and let himself into his flat. He needed a drink-- preferably a brandy. He was confused and excited at the same time. He found it difficult to believe what had happened to him that afternoon-- but it had happened. And he found it impossible to believe that he would accept that sort of thing. Yet he had accepted it and, he admitted to himself after a short struggle, he had.... appreciated it... found it arousing... He took a gulp of brandy. He had found it more than arousing, he confessed to himself, though quite what more than arousing it was it difficult to say. And at least it was a damn site less stressful than arguing the toss about operational safety with a bunch of ignorant venal managers. He finished up his brandy and put the glass down sharply. He'd decided. He'd go back to work with Christine tomorrow.


johncrossley 8 years ago