Story from The Roue 02.
A cure for Susan
Edward Gregson was tired, irritated and very vexed. It had been a thoroughly distressing day. Perhaps he had expected too much of Susan; just as he probably expected too much of Claire. But then Claire, dammit, had never let him down.
As a Harley Street specialist, with his impeccable quality of patients, and charging his scale of fees, he had a right – yes, a perfect right, begad – to demand the highest standards from his staff, whether it was his receptionist, nurse, cook or handyman. 'It's what they've been trained for,' he muttered as he tidied his desk, 'and it's what I pay 'em for.' Well, Ada was a fine cook, Bill was indispensable as gardener, plumber, electrician and philosopher, and Claire – Miss Claire Sylvester, SRN – was beyond reproach. A veritable jewel. Highly qualified, efficient yet engaging, an oasis of calm in storm or tempest. A benediction. Of course, she was twenty-six; and had been nurse in his elegant surgery for the past four years. She knew her job and had long since got to know his ways – Teddy Gregson was the first to admit he was not the easiest person to understand. But dear Claire always coped. She anticipated potential problems, dealt with difficult patients with the utmost tact – a reassuring word there, a hint of quiet authority with someone else. Such a pity she had to leave him for a while to nurse her mother through a painful illness.
Susan had seemed the ideal replacement; fresh out of nursing school, it was true, but the high flier of her class. Lively, intelligent, and extremely attractive. Alas, after just four days of her text-book sermons, her knowing air of superiority and flashes of temper, he felt sorely in need of a bottle of Scotch. Glenfiddich or Crawford's Five Star for preference. 'Physician, heal theyself,' he groaned, as he reached into the drinks cabinet and his temple ticked with the tale-tell throb of an impending migraine. 'What have I done to deserve the visitation of this young vixen?' Well, at least he could blame Claire for that; she it was who persuaded him Susan would make an ideal stand-in for her. 'You'll get along like a house on fire,' she had assured him.
House on fire! Within 24 hours they'd had a blazing row! Claire had suggested Susan would prove a ready learner; why, in less than a day she was trying to teach him. In four years he could not remember an occasion when Claire had called him anything but 'Mr. Gregson' in the presence of patients; in four days Susan had cheerfully called him both 'Edward' and even 'Teddy' – in front of a peer of the realm, an acclaimed actress and an embarrassed bishop. When he had privately reproached her for her familiarity Susan had flounced out of the room, saying 'In future I had better call you Dr Fuddy-Duddy.' Edward Gregson wasn't sure which part of that description infuriated him most – his demotion to doctor, or the assertion that he was stuffy.
As if all that wasn't enough, Susan's attire was far from suitable. True, with great reluctance, she condescended to wear her crisp white nurse's housecoat, but underneath she wore a skirt which would have looked short on a netball player, and teamed it with an up-to-the-neck blouse that would have been entirely circumspect, but for the fact that it was almost transparent – a characteristic which made it all too noticeable that she was a very well developed young lady in the mammary region; twice she had come wearing the skimpiest of brassieres, and once hadn't worn one at all. Not that any of this would have been observed by patients if she had kept her housecoat buttoned up. But of course it was 'too hot' in the consulting rooms, and so she had fastened it by a single button – with the most adverse effects on some of his patients. Elderly Miss Dunwoodie was scandalised; the bishop had blushed; and Major-General Fawcett-Fyffe – whose blood pressure was high at the best of times – got himself into the most unmilitary lather, and seriously aggravated his angina.
Poor old Fawcett-Fyffe had nearly had a heart attack as Susan leaned across him as he lay on the examination couch; her pert young breasts almost falling out like a brace of pheasant brought down on the Glorious Fourth. And her wide-eyed ministering angel smile hadn't helped in the least – a mingling of innocence and wanton enticement that had the old boy militarily-erect; but, alas, all too briefly. Seeing the major-general's apoplectic condition, Edward Gregson had switched on his cassette machine, thinking a little Vivaldi might soothe his distinguished patient's aroused but ageing passions. Imagine the shock, then, to an already troubled constitution, when the sounds that ensued were not the elegant strains of Vivaldi but a cacophony by The Clash. Thanks, of course, to a tape change made by Susan – who had decided that her employer's taste in music was a 'fuddy-duddy' as the rest of his behaviour.
The noise of The Clash had certainly blunted the spearhead of Fawcett-Fyffe's advance, and he flopped back on the couch like a stranded walrus, sucking in acres of air and wheezily expelling them like an asthmatic wart-hog.
It really was more than a man could stand. Something had to be done. But what? Edward Gregson replenished his glass for the third time, and decided on a council of war. There wasn't a member of his staff that Susan hadn't infuriated; well, he'd get a couple of 'em together, and hear their suggestions for dealing with the problem. 'Yes, I'll drink to that,' he said, and rang the bell to summon his housekeeper.
'You rang, Mr. Gregson?'
'Yes, Ada, thank you. Please try to find Bill. I'd like to chat to you both... about Susan.'
Ada Langley and Bill Cornwell physically had as much in common as the Dolmens on Easter Island with the Laughing Cavalier. Ada was middle aged, tall, gaunt and with her grey hair tied severely in a bun. She kept house meticulously and cooked with a desperate devotion – a dedication that was sometimes wasted on an employer not infrequently too preoccupied to fully appreciate the subtleties of her cuisine, the only outlet for her stiffled affections. In contrast, Sill Cornwell was as broad as a barndoor, brown as a berry, as outgoing as a barrow-boy and full of homespun good sense.
'It seems,' said Edward Gregson, 'that I have made a dreadful mistake, taking on Susan. She'll decimate the practice – but what can I do?'
'Send her packing,' said Bill.
'I can't I really can't. Her mother would create the most unthinkable scene... she would insist it's my responsibility to instruct Susan and control her.'
'Then you had better do so,' snorted Ada, 'for all our sakes. She needs a firm hand.'
'Ah yes, but how? We're not talking about a child but a mature young woman – physically if not psychologically. You have experienced her high-handedness and temper....'
'If Miss Susan is rather too much for you to cope with unaided, Mr. Gregson, perhaps we should assist you,' Ada responded icily.
'I'm not sure I quite follow....'
'It's crystal clear and plain as the nose on Bill Cornwell's face that she needs a beating.'
'Oh, I say,' said Bill. 'Might take her down a peg or two, though.'
'Susan! A beating!' Teddy Gregson laughed incredulously. The prospect had its attractions; the practicality, however, was another matter.
'When she arrives in the morning, read the Riot Act,' Bill suggested. 'Tell her it's her last chance – and what you'll give her if you have any more of her nonsense.'
'She'll laugh in my face!'
'Then confront her directly after your last patient leaves tomorrow afternoon,' snapped Ada. 'Order her to bend over. If she refuses – ring your buzzer, and Bill and I will be pleased to help you to restrain the young lady.'
'It might be worth a try,' mused Gregson.
'It is – if you want to keep your practice,' Ada told him.
The imperious Susan's fifth day with Edward Gregson was, if anything, even more of an ordeal for him. She had cut nine inches off the bottom of her housecoat, taking it well above the knee, and underneath wore a brown pleated min-skirt, flesh-coloured tights, and pink polo-neck jumper, the pendulous movement of which made very evident the fact that she was not wearing a bra. Gregson could not deny that Susan's appearance was extremely attractive; the point, however, was that he had not engaged her to offer his patients sexual provocation.
Before he had time even to make such an observation the young lady left him speechless by briskly taking down a Sickert original, of which he was extremely proud, and affixing to the wall, in place of the painting, a lamentable poster featuring a moronic bunch called Siouxie and the Banshees. 'It's all right,' she said cheerfully, as her employer looked on in baleful disbelief, 'it won't harm your rotten wall – I've only used Blue Tack. Makes the place look a bit more interesting than that dreary painting, don't you think?'
'I most certainly do not – you can take it down this minute.' Gregson told her (keeping to himself the thought that he would be taking something of hers down later in the day, unless there was a remarkable change in her attitude.)
'Oh, please yourself,' she said. 'I forgot what an old fuddy-duddy you are.'
While she took down the poster and replaced the painting at a pace varying from funereal to dead slow Edward Gregson informed her of his deep dissatisfaction with her mode of dress, her general manner, and even the standard of her work – which, considering her intelligence, was inexcusably sloppy.
'So what do you expect me to do about it?' she demanded.
'I expect you to promise me that you will radically change your ways?'
'And if I don't?'
'Then I shall try methods which one might have thought to be more appropriate to a girl of ten than a well qualified young woman.'
'What the hell is that supposed to mean?'
'It means, young lady, that unless I have your absolute word – and I see clear evidence of your keeping it during the day – that you will amend your behaviour, I shall put you across this couch and thrash you.'
'Teddy! Are you out of your mind? Or are my ears deceiving me? You'll do what?'
'I shall thrash you. As if you were a naughty little girl – which, for all your physical development and your academic qualifications, is really just what you are. Shockingly spoilt, know-it-all and impossible – that's what you are, Susan. You need to be given a sharp lesson – an affront to your dignity – to remind you that others have their dignity, too; my patients, my staff – and even me!"
The vehemence of his outburst dampened down the flames of Susan's scorn. 'Just lay a finger on me,' she said quietly, sounding less sure of herself than at any time since coming to work for him, 'and you'll regret it. I'll just walk out. How could you stop me? I'll call the police... and Mummy. Yes, my mother will have something to say about this....'
'You are perfectly free, of course, to walk out – if you no longer wish to work here, and are not concerned about needing a reference to show a future employer. But if you hope to stay... then I assure you I shall carry out my promise. Help will be available if you have to be restrained. Now can we get on with the day's work? Just remember what I have said...'
'I've forgotten already,' Susan snapped, recovering some of her bravado.
'We shall see,' said Teddy Gregson. 'Yes, we shall see.'
It was six o'clock and the last patient had been guided from the surgery and into the waiting chauffeur-driven Bentley. Now the big house was quiet, save for the muted blare of homegoing traffic along the street. Yet the atmosphere inside was supercharged, as it had been all day – but even more so now in the deceptive silence. Susan had started the morning fretful yet restrained, and even polite. But as the day wore on she had become increasingly surly and aggressive, as if annoyed that she had allowed herself to be intimidated by Edward Gregson's threats. She had started to argue with him in front of patients, and to flaunt her figure, as though trying to provoke him into a reaction. But Gregson had affected not to notice, which served only to infuriate Susan – and increase the tension that must have been apparent even to patients.
'I'll be off then,' said Susan, as the Bentley drew away.
'I think not,' Gregson told her. 'You appear to have forgotten that I diagnosed a certain young lady's condition this morning, and indicated a course of treatment for this evening – if there was no miraculous cure during the day. I have seen no signs of any such cure...'
'Oh, cut it out, for heaven's sake. It's been a long day and I want to go home...'
Edward Gregson pressed the buzzer on his desk. And smiled.
He stood with his back to the door. 'Do we really need the staff's assistance?' he enquired gently, but with a steely undertone that Susan recognised as naked male chauvinism – and was impressed by it!
'Just don't try it,' she shouted, above the tumult of her mounting panic.
There was a brisk knock at the door.
'Mr. Gregson... you rang, I believe?'
Ada Langley's crisp enquiry was as piercing as a laser beam. Close behind her was Bill Cornwell, bluff face even redder than usual.
'Oh Christ!' Susan wailed, 'What are you going to do?'
Without saying a word Ada and Bill advanced on the astonished trainee nurse, gripped her by the arms, and pushed her face down over the surgery couch, on which Edward Gregson had placed several pillows. Ignoring her please for help, mixed with threats and more than a few obscenities, they fastened her wrists and ankles to the legs of the couch, by means of surgical straps that had been thoughtfully placed there for the purpose.
'Stop it, STOP it. Let me go, let me GO! Sod you! Sod, sod, SOD you!'
'She's got spirit,' said Bill, with rueful respect.
'And it needs quenching,' snorted Ada.
'Yes, thank you both,' murmured Teddy Gregson, 'but I can manage perfectly well, I think, from this stage.'
'Right, I'll be away then,' said Bill Cornwell, highly relieved.
'Very good,' responded Ada, not bothering to hide her disappointment. 'I am sure we were both happy to oblige you, Mr. Gregson.'
As the door clicked shut behind them, Edward Gregson, respected Harley Street consultant, art lover, and London clubman known for his gentle wit and constant good humour, suddenly recognised the enormity of his actions; the catastrophic potential of the consequences; the bizareness; the sheer unbelievableness of it all. Except that it was all happening; and to his amazement, he was relishing the prospect.
For a few moments he stood a few paces from the couch on which Susan lay writhing and cursing, spread-eagled like some ancient ritual sacrifice. Her shortened white housecoat, which she had provocatively kept together by a single button, had opened out during her struggles with Ada and Bill, and spread like a crumpled white cape above the waist, while her ridiculously brief brown skirt had tugged up over protesting hips like furrows in a ploughed field. Below the snowy-white cape and its shadowy crevasses, below the encircling ridge of brown – peeping out like rich earth through retreating snow – was the splendid expanse of her nether regions; a proud pair of buttocks pushed up like burial mounds, and lissom outstretched legs, straining against their bonds. This most attractive 'southern exposure,' braced and bound, yet vibrantly straining for freedom, was denuded except for Susan's flesh-coloured tights and a tiny pair of white pants, the outline of which Edward Gregson could just discern through the girl's tights.
'Alright, you've had your fun,' said Susan, partially exhausted by her struggles. 'Now let me up. If you do so right away, I won't tell anyone – not even Mummy.'
'Ah yes, your mother. She has already been given some intimation of the situation. I telephoned her at lunchtime.'
'You phoned her – about this?'
'Yes, we had quite a chat about it, actually...'
'I don't believe it. You can't stand her...'
'Well, our little discussion helped to clear the air. It seems you behave just as abominably at home. Your mother said she hasn't been able to control you for years. "Lack of a father's influence," she described it as...'
'Ugh, I might have expected Mummy to say that! Trust her! But I just don't believe you told her what you had in mind... and I still can't believe you're stupid enough to go any farther with this farce...'
'Ah, then I have a surprise for you. When I mentioned to your mother that both Ada Langley and Bill Cornwell suggested you need a tanning, she said she agreed completely! In fact, she said it was the most sensible proposal she'd heard for a long time.'
'My god, the cow! You're enjoying this, aren't you?'
'Well my dear, to be quite truthful, yes, I am! When I agreed to engage you I must admit I had serious misgivings – not just because Claire Sylvester has been such an excellent nurse, or even because of your own inexperience. I was always a little afraid that you would play up, behave badly... but I had no idea just how badly. I took a chance, was prepared to hope for the best – and you have let me, and your mother, down completely. Not to mention yourself. I am at a loss to know what you have been trying to prove...'
Susan struggled to turn her head and look over her shoulder as Edward Gregson stepped up to the couch. 'Well, perhaps Mummy was right about one thing – about my not having had a father around all those years. But that wasn't my fault,' she said accusingly. 'That was your fault, Daddy!'
'Yes, my dear,' Edward Gregson sighed, 'in many ways it was. Your mother and I grew apart. She had her world. I had mine. We must both share the blame. We stopped loving each other – but we have never stopped loving you.'
Susan thought of all the resentment she had felt for her father, even more the hatred she had for Claire Sylvester, who had seemed to go completely supplant her mother and herself in his affections; and suddenly it seemed so stupid, so negative...
'Oh Daddy, I've led you such a dance...'
'Well, young lady, now I am going to call the tune.'
'Oh no, Daddy, not really...?'
Very methodically, very clinically, one might say, Edward Gregson rolled down his prodigal daughter's tights, and folded back her housecoat with a rasp of starched cotton; then, softly and silently, made similar adjustments to her fluffy pink jumper and dishevelled skirt. After a moment's hesitation he eased her wispy panties down over the fullness of her upthrust bottom, leaving them stretched in a thin white line at the base of buttermilk hillocks – braced and bare.
In his professional life Gregson had made innumerable examinations of female patients, from nubile, golden-limbed beauties to withered and ancient dowagers. On all these occasions the human form was a mere mechanical curiosity; a machine with some malfunction to be identified and corrected. His interest lay in the nature of the irregularity – determining the impediment and cure – rather than in any concern with shape, size or sex. It therefore struck him with some force that this examination was quite different. For one thing the subject was not compliant and co-operative, but resistant and, indeed, forcibly restrained; and, far from being incapacitated to some degree, she was in the rudest good health. In addition to which, the patient was not some impersonal expanse of bone and skin and sinew, but his daughter; the 'body in question,' as the Jonathan Miller TV programme would have termed it, was his very own palpitating flesh and blood.
Almost as if making a routine examination, he adjusted the direction of the beam from an angle-poise lamp, so that it played along the smooth escarpment of her thighs and buttocks before darting over the rumpled contours of her skirt and jumper – then danced on the dazzling white of her housecoat.
'You-you mean you do intend to hit me?' Susan yelped.
'I am afraid I do. Yes, young lady... in fact, I will let you share a confidence – it can be our little secret. I have, ahem, how shall I put it? I have – corrected Miss Sylvester on two or three occasions, and I propose to use the same implement on you. It is an American-style punishment paddle; you see – solid leather, very pliable, very effective – but not excessively severe.'
Edward Gregson did not feel a need to explain that his sessions with Claire Sylvester had been mutually enjoyed – as a prelude to the most blissful lovemaking. Nor was such an admission necessary – for Susan perceived the nature of her father's relationship, not so much with a flash as a blast of feminine intuition that tore through her like an Armalite rifle bullet. For an instant she felt revulsion; then, to her amazement, she experienced an entirely new 'oneness' with her father, a delicious sense of peace. It enveloped her whole being, almost as if she could feel it and touch it and taste it. In this, at least, she would be on terms with the woman in his life – the woman who was not only a perfect employee but enjoyed an intimate, physical relationship with him as well.
'He's seen Claire bare – and his Sue, too!' she mused.
Even as she found herself giggling the paddle arched down and cracked across her bottom, smacking the taut domes like a wet sheet slapping against windows in a high wind. The sensations were incredible. Her giggle changed to a gasp, then a gurgle of disbelief as the searing, burning band across the centre of her buttocks spread out in all directions like heat radiating from a furnace.
For the next two minutes Susan Gregson learned what her father meant when he said he was going to call the tune. It was a full symphony of sound – the whistling paddle, the smack of leather on juicy tender cheeks and the upper landscape of her legs, her plaintive, piping cries, the torrent of her tears; and her father's modulated breathing, punctuated by gradually louder exhalations of air as a consequence of his exertions.
The result, for Susan, was a thoroughly spanked bottom; cherry red from top to base – and beyond, to smarting thighs. As the first three strokes had descended on throbbing cheeks she had wriggled like a hooked fish, straining against the constricting straps, and hurting her wrists and ankles in the futile process. After that, sobbing into the sheet beneath her, face smothered by her damp brown hair, she subsided like a punctured beachball as the paddle cracked across her buttocks and the backs of her glowing legs.
Gregson put the paddle down and stood back to consider his handiwork, then ran a cool, soothing hand along the aspen-quivering landscape of his daughter's legs and bottom. A case of 'touch and glow,' he thought. Slowly her trembling flanks became less convulsed as her father inspected the hot and tender surface, then gently unfastened the straps. Even after she was released Susan remained face down, scarlet bottom elevated by the pillows beneath her, crying softly. This spectacle was so much more like that presented by Claire in a not totally dissimilar situation; for unlike Susan, she was by nature placid and undemonstrative. She received those occasional, moderate warmings of her bottom with an adoring, uncomplaining passivity that had come almost to irritate Edward Gregson; he half wished that she would react – rebel. But that was not her nature; she had been disciplined by both her parents as a child, and smilingly submitted to Gregson's 'correction' – because she loved him, and because it so enhanced the 'kissing and making up,' the passionate lovemaking that followed.
This spectacle of Susan reminded him of Claire – the muted sobbing and acquiescence. The difference, of course, was that Susan had been given a very real spanking – for its own sake, and most certainly not as a prelude to anything else. But it had brought about a transformation in her demeanour. Gone was all the rebelliousness and distain, the arrogance and quick temper. Gregson dabbed the scarlet mounds with a soothing lotion, then helped her gently to her feet. A little unsteadily she pulled up her panties, wincing at the discomfort, and adjusted her clothing.
'I'll ache for days,' she sniffed, 'it will help to jog my memory – just in case I forget. Gosh, I'll never call you a fuddy-duddy again. You're a very forceful Daddy!'
Edward Gregson smiled with relief.
'Y-you want me to carry on as your nurse?'
'Most certainly – I think you can be every bit as efficient in your work as Claire Sylvester.'
'Monday morning then – eight-thirty sharp.'
'Eight-thirty sharp,' Edward Gregson repeated, and squeezed his daughter's hand. He didn't think he needed to enter this particular case in his casebook -treatment to a certain gluteus maximus and surrounding area. But the diagnosis had appeared to be 'spot on' – and the effectiveness of the cure quite unmistakeable!