Friday, June 18, 2010

Summary Justice

This story was originally posted on Devlin O'Neill's Blog, exactly one year ago.

Fate has granted me one small favor today – your secretary has left early, your outer office is empty.  I cannot expect this discussion to go well, but at least she won’t see me cry.  I’ve seen you reduce other attorneys to tears when you deliver a stern lecture from the bench.  It isn’t that you yell, of course, but your disappointment is evident in your tone and expression.  I’ve had tears well up in my eyes, as I sit in the back of your courtroom – and that’s when your scold isn’t directed at me.

No doubt I should have told you about the error sooner.  If I hadn’t set the motion aside to “deal with later,” I wouldn’t have gotten myself into this mess.  Even if I had simply owned up to my forgetful procrastination as soon as I had noticed it, surely that would have been better.  As a last resort, I might have told you before it blew up into an argument with the other attorneys.  I force down all my excuses and wishful thinking.  I didn’t do any of the things I ought to have done, but you can still fix the problem.  I need only endure your lengthy lecture, apologize profusely, and obtain your signature on the remedial order – the problem will be resolved, I can smooth things over with the attorneys, and my guilt will dissipate.

I carry the case file in one hand, the order I’ve prepared carefully placed on top.  I’ve dressed carefully for this confession – wearing a short flippy skirt and matching jacket.  Semi-professional, but with my hair pulled into a high pony-tail and curling down my back, I hope to remind you of my youthful vulnerability.  To complete the outfit, I’m wearing the mary-jane style Sketchers that always make you smile because your teenage niece has a similar pair.

When I enter your office, you give me a look that makes my knees weak.  I’ve seen that look directed at wayward attorneys and cocky witnesses; I expected this response, but the ferocity of having it directed at me is overwhelming.  My prepared explanation flees before I say a word.

“What happened?  I’m sure I gave you this motion some time ago.”

Six months, I can see your handwritten, dated note clearly despite the fact that it is attached to the motion buried in the file I’m holding.

“I . . . . you said there was no rush, so I set it aside.”

“I meant that you didn’t need to drop everything to finish it.  I did not intend for you to set it aside for six months, then proceed to infuriate both attorneys with your sarcasm and total disregard for procedure.  Did you know they have both complained?  Mr. Bath sent me an email and Mark stopped by this afternoon.  What were you thinking?”

I press my lips together.  I have nothing to say, no excuse that will end this lecture.  My offhand remarks have already compounded the trouble I am in here.  My eyes feel hot with unshed tears and I am certain my face has gone red.  I catch my lower lip between my teeth in an effort to stall the tears.

“Sit,” you command, even as you stand and move towards the door.  I do as you direct, sitting in one of the chairs opposite your desk.  I listen as you close the door that separates your secretary’s office from the hall, then the door to your chambers.  It’s nearly four o’clock on a Friday afternoon; surely you know that no one will venture up to your top floor office when you aren’t the on-call judge.  Even so, I appreciate the privacy as much as I dread it.  I wish you would actually yell, then I could lose my temper in my own defense.  But there is no defense to your solemn disapproval.  At least it will be over soon.

“You’ve written the order?”  Suddenly, you are standing next to me – too close, too tall, and entirely too imposing.

With shaking hands, I offer the order, my throat too tight to speak.  You stand in front of your desk, leaning your weight against the solid wood top.  You cross your ankles as you read through the document, the very image of calm.

“That, at least, is up to your usual standard.”  You lean back on one hand, dropping the order near your computer and taking up a single sheet of paper.  I can see that it is a printout of an email.  I know at a glance that the email is the response I sent to the attorneys.  Frustrated, annoyed with my mistake, and throwing a little tantrum, I had violated my personal email rule of “never put something in an email you don’t want everyone to read.”

Seeing that I’ve recognized the email, you pull it back to consider it.  “I’ve never heard you talk like this – thank God, or I’d have been looking for a bar of soap a long time ago – but you’ll put this in writing?  Knowing full well it could be forwarded to anyone?”

I can only look away, finding a spot of floor to stare at as I force myself to remain calm.  You haven’t any idea the effect you have on me when you say these things.  I know it is just the generation-gap that makes you so matter-of-fact about punishments that had fallen into disfavor before I was born.  I might have braced myself for the lecture, but I had forgotten the way my tummy dropped whenever you said such things.  I am glad to be seated, but you startled me from my relief when your fingers take hold of my chin and turn my face towards your own.

“I am expecting an answer, young lady.”

“I didn’t mean,” my answer dies at the look in your eyes, “I just, I wasn’t thinking and I . . . I made a mistake, Judge.  It won’t happen again.”

“I certainly intend to ensure that it does not!  You realize that instead of forwarding this to me, either of them could have taken their complaint to the Court Administrator, the Chief Judge, or even the attorney discipline committee?”

“I didn’t . . . I wasn’t . . .” I shook my head, “I’m sorry.”

“Not yet, but you will be.”

I open my mouth to respond but quickly close it when you flash a look at me.  I want to tell you that I am already sorry, that I will never do anything like that again, and that I might cry if you kept scolding me like a child.  But something in your eyes reminds me.  I know what happens when attorneys argue with you in this mood – your lectures get longer and the target of your frustration always ends up in tears.

“I could let them make their complaints.  You would probably lose your job, but I expect you would keep your license.  You could find another job, but I would miss you.  I would miss your clear-headed advice and your even clearer writing style.  I would have to train another new clerk, teach another new lawyer how different reality is from law school.  That would put me to a great deal of trouble, you know.”

“Yes sir.  I could, maybe I could apologize to them.  I’ll do anything to make this right, really.”

“Well, yes.  Mr. Bath would accept your heart-felt apology.  But Mark thinks something more is required.  Would you agree?”

“I . . .” my mind was racing.  What something more?  How could I agree without knowing?  And yet, how could I not?  I love my job, love working for you and the other judges, and certainly I do not want the taint of losing my job or facing a discipline committee.  “Whatever it takes,” I agree.

You shake your head, “Full disclosure, first, before you can agree.  I intend to give you a spanking you won’t soon forget.  Once you agree, there is no second chance…you’ll get every bit of the punishment you deserve…until I decide you’ve learned your lesson.  Still rather face me?”

I am not sure, but I agree readily enough.  I trust you, respect you, and maybe even have a tiny crush on you.  I am willing to do nearly anything, if only you’ll forgive me.  I ask only one question, “And they won’t make any formal complaints?”

“You will apologize to both of them, they will delete the email and forget this even happened.  You didn’t have any other plans tonight, did you?”

“I…”  I hesitate.  I don’t have plans, but I can hardly be expected to agree happily to an immediate spanking.  On the other hand, even if I did get you to believe a hastily developed story – I would only delay the inevitable.

“Nothing you can’t cancel, then.”  A hint of a smile flashes across your lips, no doubt you have a very good idea what I was considering.  As I watch, you take a seldom used side-chair from the other side of the room and carry it to the open area near your desk.  Seating yourself in the straight-backed wooden chair, you pat your lap and say, “Come here now.”

My tummy flips again.  You are really serious about this.  Sure, I’ve thought about it.  Fantasized about it, even, but I never imagined you would really . . . my thoughts are interrupted by your “If I have to get up and bring you over here, neither of us is going to be happy.”

Startled, I jump to my feet only to scramble to pick up the pen I have dropped.  After a quick glance at you, I place the file and recovered pen in the seat I have just vacated.  With hesitant steps, I walk to your side.  You simply watch me stand, again that ghost of a smile appears and I wonder what you find amusing.  Finally, you take my arm and pull me over your lap.

“You’ve never been spanked before, have you?”  Without waiting for an answer, you drop the first of many crisp swats on my skirt and say, “I’m just going to start with my hand.”

I feel as if I am frozen.  It feels so odd – the unusual position, the brisk but not yet uncomfortable swats.  Counter-intuitively, it feels safe – you are holding me tight around the waist, and I know you are doing this because you care.  My mixed emotions keep me silent and still even when you flip my skirt onto my back.  Your fingers trace the lacy edges of my panties and your hand smoothes my skirt before you take up spanking me again.

“That . . . um . . . that kinda hurts.”  Even as the words come out of my mouth I realize how trite the words sound and my face flushes.

“That is generally the idea behind a spanking, young lady.  It will hurt a good deal more before I’m finished here.”

As though your words were prophetic, it does begin to hurt more.   I cannot tell if your hand is striking with more force or if the cumulative effect of the swats is beginning to get to me; all I know is that it is becoming truly uncomfortable.  I wiggle, despite my best efforts to accept my punishment, but you only tighten your hold around my waist and spank on.

Another pause and my panties slide down my legs before I can even think to protest.  I wiggle harder as the spanks increase in strength and frequency.  You are lecturing now, but I must admit that I am not listening to your words.  I know why you are scolding me, so my answers and apologies are automatic.

My bottom is burning uncomfortably when you stop and help me to my feet.  Even so, I am a bit confused.  The spanking hurt, of course, but not as much as I had always imagined that it would.  I reach a hand back, seeking to slip under my skirt and feel the heat that must be radiating from my backside.

“No rubbing,” your command has me pulling both hands together in front of me.  “Take off your jacket and get my ruler from the desk.”

I begin to remove my jacket, still a bit dazed from my first spanking.  Halfway through, the impact of your directions reaches my brain.  You aren’t done spanking me . . . and you’re going to use your ruler to spank me.

I will never forget the first time I saw your ruler.  I was sitting in your office discussing the random case of the day when your court reporter popped in and asked if you had a ruler she could borrow.  The ruler you removed from the drawer was 18 inches long, made of dark wood, and thick enough to make any closet-spanko’s heart stop.  Your court reporter expressed some surprise at the size and wickedness of your ruler.  You responded by smacking the ruler hard against your palm and saying, “It’s good for smacking unruly children…among other things.”  I could have sworn you gave me an odd look as you said those words, but I later decided it was simply wishful thinking on my part.

“Go on, I’m sure you remember where I keep my ruler.”

I toss my jacket over a chair and stumble towards the desk.  Apparently my fascination had not gone unnoticed.

“Step out of your panties, too.  You won’t need them for awhile.”

I do as you directed, barely able to stop trembling enough to follow your simple directions.  I fumble with the desk drawer and take the ruler in my suddenly sweaty palm.  I manage the return trip with a bit more grace, but still have no idea what you expect of me when I return.  Thankfully, you take the ruler from my hand and guide me back over your lap.

This time, you lift my skirt before you began, so the first burning cracks of the ruler land on my bare bottom.  I complain while you scold and demand answers.  The few times I don’t answer, you drop the ruler lower on my thighs, inducing a hasty response.  Eventually, the combination of my whines, wiggles, and moans force you to give up the lecture and let the ruler do the talking.  The ruler was very persuasive; I felt like a well punished little girl before you help me back to my feet.

You stand up as well, lifting my skirt from my bottom and pushing me into the wooden chair you had recently occupied.  I try to protest, but you shush me and give me a look that kept me seated.  You retrieve the hateful email and place it in my hands.  Then you lean back onto your desk, crossing your ankles and watching me.

“Read it to me.”

“I don’t . . . I didn’t . . .” I protest, unable to explain my objection clearly with my burning bottom pressed onto a wooden chair and the evidence of my misbehavior in my hands.

“You wrote it, young lady, now I expect you to read it.  Do you need another round with the ruler?”

Well, that convinces me, even though I was extremely reluctant to read the curse-riddled missive aloud.  The message would not have been professional even without those particular words, but I knew without being told that you would not appreciate my word choice.  I try skipping the first four letter word, but you interrupt, telling me that was not how you remembered it and I would do best to read exactly what I had written.  I follow your direction, wincing at the tone of the email and cursing myself with every curse I read out.  I am sure the email was not a tenth of that length when I typed it out during my temper tantrum.

“Do you know what happens to naughty little girls who use that kind of language?”

“Um, they get spanked?”  I offer hesitantly.

“That too, of course, and we will return to that shortly.  But naughty young ladies who spew that sort of filth need their mouths washed out with soap, wouldn’t you agree?”

“No!”  I most certainly did not agree and I start to stand up in response to your statement.

“Sit yourself right back down, young lady.”  Your glare ensures that I do exactly as I was told, “And you can sit there and think about it while I get the soap.”

You disappear into the small bathroom attached to your chambers while I sit as though attached to the chair.  I had heard you mention this remedy for cursing miscreants whenever such appeared in your courtroom, but I had never imagined it was more than a joke or a less-than-fond memory from your childhood.  But as I listen to the water running in the bathroom, the remote possibility took on a frightening reality.  You return to the office, working a wet washcloth against a bar of soap.  I can smell the scent of Ivory soap and something akin to real terror keeps me perfectly still in the chair.

“Relax,” you say soothingly as you approach, “This won’t even hurt and it only takes a few minutes.  It won’t be a pleasant few minutes, of course, and I expect you’ll remember it, but you will be fine.  Open up for me.”

I shake my head.  All you have to do was raise an eyebrow and I do as you had asked.  Immediately the soapy rag is inside my mouth, spreading the disagreeable taste of Ivory over my tongue and lips.  I want to beg you to stop, but my mouth is full and it was all I can do to keep from gagging.  My eyes fill with tears before you decide you had cleaned all the filth from my mouth.  You take hold of my arm and pull me from the chair, marching me into the small bathroom.

“Rinse,” you say, handing me a cup that was half-full of water.  I would probably have remained at the sink for the rest of the evening, attempting in vain to remove the soap taste from my mouth, but you soon direct me back into the office.

“Please, sir, I’ve learned my lesson.  Really I have.  Please?”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” you said, the humor of your statement lost when I realize that means there would be more spanking.

Still firmly grasping my arm, you bypass the chair and go instead to your desk.  It only takes a gentle shove and a few softly spoken commands to have me bent over the desk, grasping the far side with my hands, my feet neatly spread, and my bottom thrust into the air.  You flip my skirt out of the way and examine my backside thoroughly with your hands.

I turn to look at you when I heard the clink of your belt buckle and the swoosh of its passage through your belt loops, “No . . . please sir . . . please don’t . . .”

“Hush, now.  You know you’ve earned more than the warm-up I’ve given you.”

I press my forehead against the cool wood of the desk in resignation and you place your free hand on the small of my back.  When the first burning stripe hit, I yelp and try to stand up.  You prevent that easily enough, murmuring a combination of threats and reassurances until I resume my position.  I hold that position throughout the strapping, though I protest loudly until tears threaten.  When I have given myself over to the tears and my bottom is throbbing and red, you finally stop.  I hardly notice your disappearance until you return with a cool, blissfully Ivory-free rag which you use to wipe my face until I quiet.

“There now,” you say as you help me to my feet, “Put yourself together and we’ll meet Mr. Bath and Mark for dinner, you can make your apologies tonight and put all this behind you.”

I know we will meet them at the local tavern you favor for after-work drinks and meals.  I know that the two attorneys are kind enough to have saved a high-top table for us, because that is where you always choose to sit.  And it would not be long before I know why your favorite place for dinner has high wooden stools with no foot rests.

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