Tuesday, March 29, 2016

From the Top Shelf - The Girl who Outgrew Innocence

Here is a story from Janus magazine from about twenty years ago which for some reason does not have an author's name ascribed to it. It's a tale of religious middle-America and the 'deep water Baptists' with their abhorrence of sexual misconduct.

It wasn't often you saw Huck Jefferson in church, and on his knees. Not that he was praying, mind. No he was peering, slit-eyed to where Mary Jo knelt beseeching God to persuade the large congregation to vote 'No'. Huck felt a mite sorry for her because he knew most of the townsfolk would vote 'Yes'. In front of these very people she had vowed to remain celibate until she married but then, two years later, Mary Jo broke her vow. That wasn't smart in a small township where the decent law abiding folk believe that pre-marital sex is a sin.

When she promised to remain virgo intacta Mary Jo put on a ring. She also agreed to a condition that if she broke her vow, the congregation would be asked to decide whether she should be punished. On the day Mary Jo stopped wearing the ring there were townsfolk who insisted it was darn near as a good as a confession. It hadn't taken long for the Reverend Shaw to hear of Mary Jo's 'crime' There were always God-fearing citizens who were happy to ingratiate themselves before the church and the good Reverend. One of these was the uptight Jessica Langer, a middle-aged spinster, chapel organist and Reverend Shaw's faithful 'lap-dog'. She was the first of more than a dozen to relay the news.

The kneeling congregation were now being asked to decide if the transgressor should be forgiven - or be caned.

Huck knew the cane weren't nothing to be laughed at. When Shirley Lopez got it, she hollered, bucked, writhed and blubbered like a baby. Reverend Shaw had doled out the punishment and raised weals on Shirley's bottom - he knew how to cane all right, and did it real hard. For days after it happened Shirley walked around careful and slow. Mary Jo should've been warned.

Although he hadn't been the one who caused her to break the vow, Huck could forgive Mary Jo anything. He just stared at the slender hips, willing her wholesome sweetness the power to overcome the congregation's righteous indignation. He wished he could see her face, but it was hidden by the curtain of honey coloured hair which hung down to the small of her back. He could picture her lovely fair lashes closing over the cornflower blue eyes; the soft lips moving gently. She swayed slightly, her frame slim and willowy, with grapefruit round breasts, a tiny waist and narrow hips like a boy. Her high necked dress hid a lot, but Huck remembered her in her cheerleader uniform; white pleated mini, white boots and college sweatshirt, her sweet mouth chanting support for the football team - his team. Most of all though, Huck remembered her high kicking legs and cute, white-pantied butt. Playing on the team was the only way he could get to be near her. But it wasn't him, he didn't do the wicked deed. He just wished he had.

One kiss from Mary Jo's honeyed mouth and he'd vote 'No'. She was too creamy and soft skinned to cane. Huck's only chance of a kiss was to work a miracle with the votes, then she might see him as something more than a friend. But there was nothing he could do, so she'd have to pay the price. Maybe it would've been better if she'd said who the boy was. Her silence sure had gone against her.

Reverend Shaw dipped his iron grey head and gave the blessing. On the way out the good folks dropped their voting discs to the right or the left.

Later, at the evening service, which Huck and plenty of the others attended - though it was rare for them to go the church twice on a Sunday - the verdict was announced. Mary Jo whimpered, dropped her head and put a small handkerchief to her eyes. Nine of her best friends voted for forgiveness but 117 of the townsfolk said no. She had broken a solemn vow and had earned just retribution.

Huck could have wept with her. It was real bad for Mary Jo because she had no folk of her own. She'd lived with old Dan Richer and his wife Beth ever since they took her in from the orphanage. Maybe the vote was as much to do with the Richer's isolation as Mary Jo's transgression. They weren't God-fearing citizens like the rest of the townsfolk. They farmed a tiny homestead and kept themselves to themselves, always sending Mary Jo to the store for anything they needed. In all the years Mary Jo lived with them, Huck only saw the Richers twice.

Everyone filed out of church and went to the Congregation Hall. The good Reverend took Mary Jo by the arm and led the way, Huck following just a few paces behind, noticing how she kept her head high. Mary Jo was real proud and defiant. He wanted to tell her she was brave but when their eyes met he looked away. He was more frightened than her.

The congregation filled every straight-backed chair in the hall, some folks even stood at the back to watch. At the front Reverend Shaw was standing to one side of the small table and Mary Jo the other. Huck sat no more than a few feet from the good Reverend. When everyone had gone quiet Jessica Langer came in with a cane, and some other stuff, and gave the instrument to the Minister. Huck noticed how the old bitch was smiling when she handed the cane over.

The Reverend sent Mary Jo out back to the kitchen to change and Jessica gave her the other stuff which included a dressing-gown. Just before she turned on her heel, Mary Jo looked straight at Huck. She didn't smile, she just looked sweet and scared.

Reverend Shaw was in two minds. He told the congregation, who were to witness the chastisement, he was sad Mary Jo had to be caned. But he wasn't too sad. No girl in town was better looking than Mary Jo. Men looked at her plenty, though some reddened when she caught their eye, but she never flirted. The Reverend had thoughts about Mary Jo but he was 54 and she was just 19. Now he was going to put the rod across her butt. Knowing what thoughts he often had about her butt, the prospect gave him great pleasure.

Out back, in the tiny kitchen, Mary Jo was anxious and it was hard for her to hurry. Her fingers trembled as she undid her dress, it took several tries to push each button from its hole. Fear had driven the colour from her face and her tummy felt tight and empty. Her mouth was so dry she fetched a glass of water and sipped it nervously. She'd better brush her hair, because she wouldn't be able to do it when it was over. She'd just fall into bed, no hair combing, no teeth cleaning, no pyjamas - just a pain filled night spent on her tummy.

Conversation seeped back to her, low murmurs with coughs and silences. She could hear the Reverend's loud voice booming on about lost innocence, fleshly desire, devilish temptations and teenage immorality. Once upon a time she had accepted all that stuff. Now she was too old, too curious, too beautiful and too thoughtful to believe in virgin brides. Virginity on your wedding night meant a husband who hurt you when he went in, and then came too soon. You wouldn't come at all, were too shy to ask for his help and spent your wedding night aching with frustration unless you slipped out to the john to give yourself relief.

She tied the dressing gown and breathed deeply, hoping this might ease her fear and tension. The light switch was like a rifle shot when she turned it off. Her steps echoed on the wooden floorboards and when she appeared in the hall every face stared at her.

There was no sympathy anywhere apart from Huck Jefferson who sat right in front with a pained look on his long face. Her eyes searched for the cane but no-one was holding it. She knew Reverend Shaw would perform the task. Girls who'd had it from him reckoned he was a beast and well skilled in inflicting the worst pain.

Jessica Langer stepped forward and helped Mary Jo off with the robe. Some of the menfolk averted their eyes as the butt-naked teenager walked defiantly to the table and bent herself over. Women looked at their menfolk and seethed inwardly at Mary Jo's beauty. But Huck was spellbound, his face reddened and his reaction to Mary Jo's charms was stronger than ever. His nervous and uncomfortable cough was echoed by fifty others.

Mary Jo turned her head, settling her cheek against the hard wood. Jessica Langer searched for the girl's hands and placed them on the far side of the table. She had to hold the edge and grip, and as she did so her hips were against the rim, her splendid bottom cheeks jutting up, round and firm.

Huck gasped. He had to. He should've believed his buddies when they ribbed him about her looks. Her bottom was firm and tight with a pencil-line shadow dividing it, each cheek perfectly round, flowing down into curvy thighs and long legs. She was really something. Surely it was natural that men wanted her. Maybe they should have voted for forgiveness...

Reverend Shaw drew himself up to his full six feet and prayed for meekness in Mary Jo's mind. He told the watchers it was her way of saying sorry. He said folks should leave the hall if they had no mind for severe punishment. The door closed and they all felt easier when some of the more squeamish womenfolk had gone. Shaw muttered, "Thank you, brother" to someone and Mary Jo guessed he'd been handed the cane. She saw Huck shift uncomfortably in his chair and then she knew.

A tear rolled down her cheek onto the table and she wanted to blow her nose. She was about to sniff when there was a whistling sound and pain seared like forked lightning across her naked bottom. She gasped, momentarily fighting for air, then her face screwed up, her mouth dropped open, eyes widened and she yelled. Real loud. Her heart pounded and she remembered years ago that dreadful moment in the swimming pool when she had got in out of her depth - like she was now - and she went under and couldn't breathe. She couldn't breathe now. She struggled for air and sucked desperately. Finally her lungs filled, she gulped, swallowed and then weeping filled the hall.

Shaw didn't have to hear Mary Jo shriek to know he'd hurt her. That was only right, the girl must expect the worst. Her bottom flattened when the rod struck and he enjoyed the way she clenched her bottom cheeks in an effort, he supposed, to fight off the pain. No chance of that, no matter how desperately she tensed and wriggled; cane pain was not the kind to be squeezed away. It ate into flesh, gnawing and scalding and seeking out the very depths of resistance. No, cane pain meant redemption, but only after the thrashing was complete and the sinner lay awake, blood pulsing through the lines laid across the sinful flesh.

After her first loud howl Mary Jo kicked back from the knees, just once, but enough to make Reverend Shaw decide to increase the number of strokes if she did it again. Then she lifted one foot then the other in a kind of shuffling dance, brought on by the intense pain. Many of the watchers, dyed-in-the-wool Creationists who had never been young, nodded approval at the severity with which the caning had begun and trusted it would continue that way. Huck almost cried in sympathy though, quickly averting his eyes from her lovely pain-wracked face. But it was just for a moment. Some awful compulsion made him turn back to watch hopelessly - and as helpless as Mary Jo. Reverend Shaw did his work well. The girl would think twice before she gave herself to another man. The first stroke had brought her to heel.

Shaw secretly wondered if he had been specially chosen by God to perform this humbling task. Certainly he had the approval of his doting flock. Most of his congregation came to watch each punishment as it was usually a pretty girl who had committed sins of the flesh who was on the receiving end. But not Huck. It was his first time and he was suffering too, but not as much as Mary Jo.

The Reverend appraised Mary Jo, drew back his arm and laid into her bottom again. His second cut fell just below the first where already there was a red stripe edged with white. Four more like that, spreading down to the crease at the top of her legs and she would be his. He'd have her on her knees each Sunday. He'd approve the men she dated. She would take no lover until she knelt in church with her husband-to-be and the wedding ring was on her finger.

Huck was already beginning to think things had gone too far. It was all very well for Reverend Shaw to punish the girl but after the second hideous shriek he was sure Mary Jo repented. They should stop at three. He hadn't been happy about this from the start. When he heard Mary Jo's third anguished howl he nearly jumped up and told them she'd had enough.

For Mary Jo it was more than enough. Pain fused with anger and rage. Damn the vow, damn their verdict, especially damn Shaw, his strictures and his cane. He had even devised a silence rule for when the punishment was over. No girl was allowed to talk about it afterwards, whether she wanted to or not. Shaw said misery and shame should be private, not the subject of conversation between friends. He made this rule to show how much he cared. Once everybody knew talking was taboo nobody felt they should ask, so none of the Reverend's fierce punishments could be talked about first hand. He also decreed that if any girl broke the rule she'd have a further public caning.

Mary Jo knew the rule was made for an entirely different reason. Celibates had to promise that if they broke their vow the congregation would decide their fate. Always, without exception, they had voted for the cane. If all the girls were allowed to discuss how bad a caning was they would never risk putting themselves in jeopardy. And Reverend Shaw would be denied a source of great pleasure.

Shaw lashed down a fourth time. Mary Jo writhed across the table, legs scissoring, knees weakening, feet drumming, hips ramming into the table. The watchers gasped as she absorbed the pain of the rod but Shaw was determined to give her the full six. He had to be hard, to mark her and render her contrite with pain. She could cry herself out later, while he walked back with the watchers, assuring them all it was for the best for as Baptists they had a duty to raise their daughters in fear of the rod.

The fifth stroke landed on untrammeled flesh on the underside of the girl's buttocks, but not yet on the most tender spot where they joined the tops of her thighs. He was saving the best 'til last.

There was a pool of tears on the table-top. Mary Jo's eyes were awash and she believed she would weep forever. There was a rule about not crying too, they invented it to make a girl feel guilty when the tears rolled down her face.

No honourable man would inflict punishment like Shaw did it. Not knowing where the cane would land made it worse. She knew that when the rod whirred down it indented both buttocks leaving an indelible mark of accusation. She had taken five. He had slashed gradually lower and the fifth stroke had sliced across her underparts. She knew that, by the nature of things, his last stroke would slash into the crease between buttocks and thighs so that when she walked every step would chafe her. Only a huge sense of guilt kept her lying across the table, waiting for more.

Shaw knew he had to aim well if he wanted to make the last cut the most painful. He must land the cane exactly where Mary Jo's bottom cheeks joined the tops of her thighs. There was a natural crease there, easy to see but not so easy to hit with the cane unless you swung accurately. He changed position so he stood in the best place to deliver that final cut. He paused and took a deep breath to calm himself. His attention was also being diverted by a faint but positive stirring in his loins which might grow immensely pleasurable later, but which he would never mention to a soul.

He scanned the girl's swelling bottom, striped with his rod, felt for the balance on the balls of his feet, lifted his arm, fixed his eye firmly on the spot he wanted to hit, and swung the cane. He sliced perfectly into the underswell, the rod reaching well along the ridge of tender flesh. Mary Jo, who had been expecting the cane on the very place where it fell and had prayed that he wouldn't be able to hit it, bucked in pain. Howling at the top of her voice she drummed her feet on the floor crying oh,oh,oh,oh,oh, as she tossed and shook her head, hair flying like a corn blizzard.

Huck bit his lip, he was feeling pain in the heart, unlike poor Mary Jo. Her hands had flown to her bottom in a desperate attempt to protect herself. She had been warned not to but the pain was unimaginable and the body moved by itself, ignoring the mind. Hurt consumed her and the watchers, understanding how cruelly the last stripe had been laid, began to stir. One of them pushed his chair back, caught Shaw's eye and indicated that, despite the girl's disobedience, it was the right time to end the flogging. Shaw did not mind, he was elated at having struck the girls' most tender spot. He had delivered six of the very best to her bare bottom and was happy to stand back.

Mary Jo howled on, no sign of letting up, the flames licking inward now invading even her most private part. She had tried to keep her muscles clenched throughout the caning, feeling it might somehow protect her from the worst. After four she could squeeze no longer and she took the fifth and sixth with her bottom open and relaxed. When they cut in, every part of her lower cheeks flinched. Now they just burned.

Her buttocks quivered involuntarily and an exhausted shudder ran through her body. Mary Jo could count her pulse rate from the throbbing of all six weals. She knew the watchers were standing to leave, she could hear the scraping of chairs. Perhaps they expected her to get up but she was beyond caring. She damned them all to hell. How could they watch her take such a beating and not say, long before the end, she had had enough. The betrayal filled her with anger and resentment. She'd tell every girl who thought to take the celibacy vow, not to. Love never deserved a thrashing like this, never warranted the pain, the fiery weals, or the burning agony on tender flesh.

None of the congregation had left, but most were standing, including Huck. For a few seconds there had been silence, but now they were all talking, conversation increasing in volume until the hum filled the small hall. Huck stood alone in the crowded hall, bemused and stunned by what he'd seen, just inches from Mary Jo. He could have touched her. He wanted to so much but he was afraid.

He watched her rise painfully from the table, old bitch Langer smirking as she draped the dressing-gown around Mary Jo's drooping shoulders. For just an instant the tear streaked eyes lifted and looked piteously into his. Huck gulped, feeling hopeless and inadequate. He held out his hands in a gesture of supplication and she stumbled forward, almost throwing herself between them. He clasped her tightly to stop her falling, clutching her strongly against him. Her sweet, arousing nakedness burned into him setting his sensibilities aflame. His head reeled with heady elation. He had Mary Jo in his arms. She was in his arms.

All around Huck there was silence. Every face in the hall turned to look at him, eyes narrowing in suspicion. He saw the accusation in Shaw's angry face and maybe jealousy too. Mary Jo sobbed, her trembling body pushed tighter against him. Muttering began again in the hall.

Huck looked wildly about in fright. Their eyes bore into him. Me? No, no, no, it wasn't me! He stepped back, flushed and panic stricken, clean away from her. Mary Jo's sobbing eyes were bewildered, pleading, imploring.....

..but Huck Jefferson turned and ran.

From Hermione's Heart


Rosie Jones said...

Thanks for sharing this one Hermione, it really draws the reader into the atmosphere. I'm guessing Huck was the one who ratted on her, out of jealousy.
Rosie xx

Roz said...

Hi Hermoine, I have been awol from blogland for some time and just now getting to visit some blogs again. Oh ouch, poor Mary Jo! I think both the reverend and Huck need a good dose of the cane! Thank you for sharing another great story.


ronnie said...

Enjoyed the story Hermione. Thank you. Janus magazines certainly had some good stories.


Lindy Thomas said...

Thanks Hermione for this great story. Poor Mary Jo. I agree with Roz both the reverend and Huck need caning.
Hugs Lindy

Enzo said...

Hi Hermione - I always love the stories you share, but I am undecided on this one.

Just stating my impressions on this specific story. On one hand, it is well written and keeps pace really well.
On the other hand part of my suspension of disbelief was stuck at the entire scene, based on what poor Mary Jo was wearing - which begs the question; what exactly was she wearing? Was she naked throughout or just waist down? Would she really have been made to step forward like that rather than pull her panties down once bent over?

Or perhaps it is just that I am not a fan of large public "established" discipline rituals stories like these.


Hermione said...

Rosie - I hadn't thought of that possibility.

Roz - Welcome back! I agree the Rev needs a taste of his own medicine.

Ronnie - I would love to see some of the original magazines.

Lindy - It was rather a severe punishment. I wonder why she took he ring off!

Enzo - I noticed that there was no specific description of her state of undress, and I'm glad of it. I wouldn't care to read that she was nude.


Enzo said...

Hermione - There were hints of her state of undress that left it open to interpretation which is why I questioned it and thus (agreeing with you) why I probably didn't enjoy it as much.