(For ACT ONE, see here)
Time: Approximately 3:00 PM on a Saturday, six months later
Setting: Inside Saint Michelle’s Roman Catholic Church
Having spent yet another afternoon paddling her sister’s behind, June informs her Trixie that she plans to go to confession later that afternoon. Trixie offers to meet June at the church so that they can attend Saturday evening Mass together. Upon arriving at St. Michelle’s, June enters the first open confessional, and draws the curtain behind her.
June Bless me Father, for I have sinned
Father Allen How long has it been since your last confession?
June One week.
Father Allen How have you sinned, my child?
June I took the Lord’s name in vain three times, I said a curse word when I burned my hand on the tea kettle last Tuesday, and I lied to the salesgirl at Woolworth’s when she asked if I had worn the slip I was returning.
Father Allen I see. Is there anything more you’d like to tell me?
June [after an uncomfortably Yes, Father. I have been spanking my
long pause] sister every week, for the past six months.
Father Allen I’m sorry. What did you say?
June I have been spanking my sister every week, for the past six months.
Father Allen How old is your sister?
Father Allen Why, she’s a grown woman. What could she possibly have done to provoke such treatment?
June She has broken one of the Commandments, and I fear for her soul.
Father Allen Are you her guardian?
June No, Father.
Father Allen Then, you have no authority to discipline her. If you sister has sinned, then she must answer to God.
June Yes, Father.
Father Allen Is there anything more?
June [choking back tears] Yes, Father…Soon after I started spanking my sister, I noticed myself becoming… physically aroused.
Father Allen [barely containing his So, you have been indulging in your
outrage] sister’s mortification for nearly six months?!
June [weeping openly] Y…yes, Father! I have s…sinced!
Father Allen Indeed you have, young lady, and I’m afraid that saying a couple of Rosaries won’t be enough to absolve you.
June [recognizing the insinuation] I understand, Father.
Father Allen Very well, then. Please step out into the nave, and reflect upon the image of our church’s patron saint. I’ll be with you shortly.
June exits the confessional, breathing a sigh of relief when she discovers that Trixie has yet to arrive. Per Father Allen’s instructions, she follows the wall that runs along the epistle side of the church, until she comes to a niche, which houses a life-size marble statue of Saint Michelle bearing the proverbial rod of correction. As she contemplates the zeal with which Michelle embraced her penance, June begins to notice herself trembling in the aisle. Unbeknownst to her, several ladies from the city clerk’s office happen to be sitting in the pew immediately to her left. Upon observing their co-worker’s visible distress, the ladies exchange empathetic glances and nods of tacit approval. Within a few minutes, Father Allen emerges from the confessional, dressed in the purple vestments customarily worn by priests during Lent. He proceeds to approach his anxious penitent.
Father Allen [Standing beside her] Come with me, please.
June Yes, Father.
June follows Father Allen towards the front of the church, stopping when they reach the altar rails. With a nod, the senior priest lets June know that she may pass, at which point, she ascends the three stairs that lead to the sanctuary. Turning to her right, she continues to follow Father Allen through a door that opens into a large, well-appointed sacristy containing chalices, clerical vestments, and various other consecrated items. The two of them proceed to walk in silence towards a long and narrow staircase, which leads to the undercroft of the church. As June and Father Allen descend these stairs, a strange and musty smell triggers some of her most painful childhood memories. The undercroft is essentially an expansive basement, with brick-lined walls and vaulted ceilings. The area is lit by dozens of intermittently-spaced gas lamps. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, June notices random articles of furniture that seem to have no particular purpose, all except for a solitary oaken kneeler that looms rather conspicuously some fifty yards in the distance. In addition to being unusually tall, the top shelf of this kneeler appears to be fully padded. Along a nearby wall, approximately fifteen feet beyond the kneeler, lies a small niche bearing an assortment of wooden canes. Affixed to the wall just beneath this niche is a brass plate with a quote from Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
Father Allen Tell me, June Louise Jenkins, how long has it been since you and I last met here?
June [blushing] Oh, I can’t recall, Father Allen. Fifteen years, at least.
Father Allen Sounds about right. Well, some of God’s children never seem to outgrow our need for the rod, now, do they?
June [dejectedly] No, Father.
Father Allen [sighing] Mass begins in half an hour, so let’s get this over with. Please prepare yourself.
June wipes away a tear as she approaches the kneeler. While bending at the waist, she raises her skirt and slip to reveal the voluminous panty girdle that holds her nylon stockings in place. Having detached the garters of the girdle from her nylons, June shimmies her way out of the constrictive undergarment, much to the vexation of Father Allen.
Father Allen Up and over, please.
June straddles the knee rest while pushing her hips against the padded shelf, purposefully presenting her bottom for correction. Moments later, Father Allen turns to the left wall and removes one of the heavier canes. He takes a few precursory swings before proceeding with June’s penance.
Father Allen Given the grievous nature of your sin, I’m going to give you fifteen with the cane, June.
June [gasping] Fifteen, Father?!
Father Allen Yes, in order to keep you from taking carnal pleasure in your sister’s suffering, I must remind you what it’s like to be on the receiving end.
June [whimpering] I…I understand, Father.
Father Allen proceeds to walk behind June. Moments later, June hears a dreadful thwack, as the cane sears her backside like a white hot tongue of flame. Out in the nave, Trixie has just arrived to find that the church is nearly full. She takes her seat in a short pew towards the very back of the cavernous church, when suddenly, she hears a very faint cry of anguish emanating from a heating register in the floor beneath feet, As she listens to each and every subsequent cry, June’s younger sister notices herself becoming inexplicably aroused.
Father Allen [in a stern voice, just Do you repent for having subjected your
prior to delivering sister to corporal punishment.
the fifteenth stroke]
Still doubled over the kneeler, June whimpers incoherently, having long since lost all capacity for response. Father Allen pauses to examine the crimson lattice of welts that chasten her thoroughly distressed backside.
June [anguished] I…I do, Father!
Father Allen And do you repent for having taken pleasure in her suffering?
June [wailing] I do!
Father Allen Then, I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Trixie startles as June lets go one last heartrending cry. Father Allen gives June a few minutes to regain her composure and collect her underwear before proceeding to celebrate the Mass. In order to save her from any undue embarrassment, Father Allen lets June leave through the sacristy so that she walk around the to the front of the church and re-enter through the vestibule. Less than ten minutes later, June passes into the nave to find Trixie waiting for her just inside the entrance. Relived to see her sister, Trixie moves a few feet further into her pew so that June can stand beside her.
Trixie [whispering loudly] Where have you been?!
June [dismissively] I had to use the bathroom. My stomach’s botherin’ me.
Trixie [genuinely concerned] Are you okay?
June Yeah, I’ll be fine.
As the opening hymn concludes, Father Allen enters the sanctuary with several other priests and deacons. Taking his place behind the altar, he commences the Mass. Father Allen Please be seated.
June shudders at the prospect of having to set her very sore backside upon the wooden bench of the pew.
June [moaning softly] Oh, God.
Trixie June, what’s wrong? Is it your stomach?
June [in an exasperated whisper] Shush, Trixie. I’ll talk to you when we get outside.
Despite having to stand up and sit back down seven more times, June manages to suffer through the Mass. As the congregation sings the final strains of the closing hymn, June steps out into the aisle to let her sister that she is all too eager to leave.
June [hastily genuflecting] Let’s go, Trixie.
Trixie [knowing enough not Okay.
Having stepped outside, Trixie follows June back to her house, which is located just a few blocks down from the church. They talk all along the way.
Trixie How’s your stomach?
June It’ll be alright.
Trixie [trying her best You should be glad you were in the bathroom before Mass. Some poor girl was doin’ her Penance in the undercroft.
June [feigning surprise] No! Really?!
Trixie Ayuh. I heard her through a grate in the floor beneath my feet. The sound was very faint, but I could tell she was screamin’ like a banshee!
June How many do you think she got?
Trixie I counted fifteen.
June Fifteen! Holy Mother of God! She’s not gonna be sittin’ anytime soon, I can tell you that!
Trixie Amen! Do you remember Mom bringin’ us to confession when we were little? I was always so scared whenever she had to go over the kneeler.
June Oh, I remember. Mom used to say that the priests were only deliverin’ her from evil.
Trixie Yeah. It took all I had not to go down there and help her.
June [wise to Trixie’s motives] You mean stand in for her.
Trixie [embarrassed by her Well……yeah.
June Yeah, well you know what would’ve happened then, don’t you?
Trixie [eagerly] No, what?
June Father Allen would’ve made you watch while he finished with Mom, and then, he would’ve hauled your naked rear ends over that kneeler, and paddled you within an inch of your life.
Trixie [wistfully] Really?!
June And then, Mom would’ve dragged you out of there, kickin’ and screamin’, and paddled you twice as hard when she got you home!
Trixie [swooning] Oooohh.
June [shaking her head] Honest to God, Trixie.
As Trixie and June turn onto Baylor Street, they can see June’s house at the end
of the block.
Trixe Do you remember the last time you did your penance in the undercroft, Junie?
June [with no affect] Oh, it’s been at least an hour.
Trixie [stunned] W…What?!?! Oh, my God!! That was you screamin’ down there?!?!
June Ayuh. I told Father Allen that I have been spankin’ you every week for the past six months, and he gave me a Penance to match.
Trixie Oh, my God, Junie! Are you okay?!
June [deadpan] Well, my rear end feels like someone’s taken a blowtorch to it, but I’ll live.
Trixie [visibly upset as she Oh, Junie!! I’m so sorry!! Why did you have
sister] to confess?!?!
June [angry and ashamed] Because…paddlin’ your sacrilegious rear end turns me on, that’s why!
Trixie [emotions running the gamut] What?!?!
June [in tears] At first, I honestly believed that I was doin’ it for your own good, but then, after the first few times, I started soakin’ through my panties. That’s when I knew I had to confess. I’m so sorry, Trixie!! You must think I’m some kinda d..degenerate!!
Trixie [after a long pause] Well…you already know what spankin’ does to me, right?
June Yeah…so what?
Trixie So, do you think I’m a degenerate?
June Of course not, Trixie. I may not understand why you enjoy gettin’ spanked so much, but that doesn’t mean I think you’re a degenerate.
Trixie [another long pause] But, you know what I do out in the woods.
Trixie [just as she reaches So, maybe I oughta confess to bein’ a
June’s front walkway] pagan.
June Don’t you even think about it! If those priests ever find out what you’ve been doin’ in the woods, they’ll excommunicate you!
Trixie But, if I had confessed to bein’ a pagan, instead of comin’ to you, then you wouldn’t have felt the need to spank me, and if you hadn’t felt the need to spank me, then you wouldn’t have confessed to Father Allen.
June [opening the front door] Come inside, Trixie. I have somethin’ I wanna show you.
Trixie follows June into the house, and closes the door behind them. Once inside,
both sisters shed their heels, and leave them by the door. While passing through
the foyer, June stops and turns her back to Trixie. Without another word, she
proceeds to reach beneath her skirts.
Trixie What are you doin’, Junie?!
June You’ll see.
June unfastens the garters from her stockings and rolls them down, mouthing a
silent prayer silent prayer prior to peeling off her girdle
June Hey, Trixie.
June [grimacing as she tugs Remind me…never…to wear…a panty
her girdle down from girdle…to confession!
underneath her slip]
Trixie [brimming with empathy] Oh, Junie! You poor thing!
Having liberated herself from the bondage of her delicates, June bends over to grab the hems of her skirt and slip.
June Brace yourself, Trix.
June grimly lifts her skirts to reveal the fifteen mortifying emblems of her
Trixie [gasping in horror] Oh, my God!! Junie!! Ohhhhhhhh!! You should see what wicked priest did to you!!
June [from beneath her skirts] I’m gonna have to take your word for it, hon.
Trixie [bursting into tears] Oh, my God, Junie! It’s awful! I can’t even imagine how much it must hurt!
June You think my rear end looks bad, Trixie? Try to imagine what yours will look like once you confess to Father Allen!
Trixie I would do anything to keep him from hurtin’ you, Junie!
June [standing upright so that her I know you would, Trix, just promise me
dress falls down while turning you won’t go gettin’ any crazy ideas.
to face Trixie]
Trixie [crossing her fingers] I promise.
June What they don’t know can’t hurt us.
Trixie Ayuh……Did Father Allen absolve you?
June Ayuh, right before he put the rod to my rear end for the fifteenth cursed time, he asked me whether or not I repented for havin’ spanked you.
Trixie Oh, my God, really? What did you tell him?
June I told him I did.
Trixie [trying not to sound So…you’re not gonna spank me anymore?
June What? Are you kiddin’ me?! You’re lucky I’m not spankin’ you right now!
Trixie But… you repented.
June I know.
Trixie So, every time you spank me, you gotta confess all over again, right?
June [conspiratorially] Not if you don’t.
Trixie [delighted with her What they don’t know, can’t hurt us!
June [still grinning] You got it. Hey, Trix. Why don’t you stay over here tonight
Trixie [tearing up for no] Really? That would be great!
June Ayuh. We can drink some wine and watch TV. Lucy’s on tonight.
Trixie I love that show!
June Me too. Tell you what. You go and grab every pillow you can find, and I‘ll get the first aid kit.
Trixie Ooohh, it’ll be like a slumber party!
June [rolling her eyes as Yes, Trixie. Just like a slumber party.
she heads out of the room]
Trixie [tongue-in-cheek] Hey, Junie! Aren’t you gonna put your girdle back on?
June [with a wry grin] Why? We’re not goin’ anywhere.
Trixie [encouraged by June’s Um…would it be okay if I…um…
disregard of propriety]
June Oh, for God’s sake, Trixie. Go ahead.
Trixie [gleefully reaching up her Thanks, Junie!
dress to shed her
panties and pantyhose]
June Sure. That’ll make it easier for me to paddle you.
Trixie [feigning protest] Hey!!
Both sisters burst out laughing.
FINAL ACT OF ATTRITION
Trixie confesses to a grievous transgression
as she bends with her back to the minister’s eye,
beseeching to keep him from swiftly upending
her over the kneeler with her dress hoisted high,
peeling her pantyhose down to her knees,
letting her underwear fall in the aisle,
paying her penance in spite of her pleas,
counting the strokes as she stares at the tile.
Lee Todd Lacks seeks to blur the distinctions between rants, chants, anecdotes, and anthems. His experience of living with significant vision and hearing deficits often informs his writing and artwork, which have appeared in The Monarch Review, Crack The Spine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Bop Dead City, Liquid Imagination, The Quarterday Review, Tincture Journal, Gold Dust Magazine, Yellow Mama, elsewhere. His poem, “Durgin-Park,” won the Bop Dead City Beginnings Contest in July of 2015. In December of 2016, Fermata Publishing recently released Lee Todd’s first chapbook of poetry and short fiction, entitled Underneath.