John and Richard ~ Chapter 8: Cold and Contrite

Written for Tarabeth’s Tea Room Challenge and inspired by the skinny dipping world record attempt on Rhossili Beach in South Wales

“I don’t see what you’re so het up about. After all, you did it!” said Richard resentfully.

“That was an entirely different matter. It was a properly organised event to raise money for a very worthwhile charity.”

“It doesn’t alter the fact that there are pictures of your bare arse all over the internet.”

“Don’t be vulgar, Richard. There were four hundred people on that beach, all of them naked. No one is individually identifiable.”

“Nonsense. I’d recognise your gluteus maximus anywhere! You were in the top left hand corner of that picture on the front page of The South Wales Evening Post, walking between two women.”

“It’s a matter of supreme indifference to me whether or not I can be recognised,” said John stiffly, unwilling to acknowledge that Richard had correctly identified him from the rear. “I was participating in a world record breaking attempt organised by The National Trust. It was properly policed and there were qualified lifeguards present. You, on the other hand, were indulging in horseplay which is not only unsafe but could have laid you open to a charge of indecent exposure. To say nothing of the fact that I had specifically asked you not to take part.”

“You’re just a spoilsport. There was no call for you to interfere.”

“There was every reason for me to come and bring you home. You were risking your life in that river as well as risking your professional reputation if someone had reported you to the authorities.”

“Public nudity isn’t an offence in this country,” stated Richard defiantly.

“Don’t start giving me lectures on English criminal law,” retorted John sharply, struggling to control his temper.

“Well, don’t talk to me about the risks of swimming in open water then. I’ve had my share of drowning victims brought into the hospital. I know what’s safe and what’s not safe and I’m a strong swimmer, as you very well know.”

“I’m not engaging in argument with you, Richard, and I won’t be spoken to in that manner. You deliberately set out to disobey me and no amount of justification can alter that fact. You and I have an agreement which means that you to follow my instructions, most especially on matters relating to your safety and professional reputation. If you fail to honour that agreement then you submit to my discipline. Isn’t that so?”

John looked questioningly at his partner and this time Richard was the one struggling to control his temper. He felt unreasonably angry about being fetched home from the river bank although he was forced to acknowledge that John had done nothing to embarrass him in front of his friends. To a casual observer there was nothing untoward about John arriving a trifle early to give him a lift home. The trouble was that Richard hadn’t been ready to leave and he resented having to curtail his own enjoyment to submit to John’s dictates, let alone to his discipline.

“If you fail to honour our agreement then you submit to my discipline, don’t you?” John asked again, not unkindly. That was true, but when it came to the crunch Richard never found it easy to accept decisions which were in conflict with his personal preferences. When all was going well, he welcomed the security of handing over to John the decision making role in their partnership and he wasn’t above deliberately baiting his partner in order to enjoy the erotic charge which came from a punishment spanking. John always seemed to know when Richard was angling to go over his knee and he could be relied upon to deliver the chastisement playfully, although he could still have Richard kicking and yelling before he finished. Furthermore, when Richard had seriously screwed up there was catharsis as well as absolution to be found in a more serious punishment and in certain circumstances John would resort to use of the cane in order to make a lasting impression.

But when John’s opinions and judgement ran contrary to his own inclinations, Richard found it difficult to surrender his independence. He tried to remind himself that the special relationship into which he’d freely and confidently entered did not come without some downsides, principally that he didn’t get to pick and choose when to submit to John’s authority. John was watching him now, easily able to read the internal struggle which was reflected in his expressive features and John recognised the moment of decision even before Richard opened his mouth to utter the required words, “Yes, sir. I’ve agreed to submit to your discipline.”

The short wait, coupled with Richard’s obvious effort to suppress his resentment went a long way to restore John’s customary good humour. He recognised that his own angry reaction had stoked Richard’s resentment and he set himself to defuse the situation. “Thank you for that, Richard,” he said. “I don’t mean to be an ogre and spoil your fun but you frightened me. When I saw how fast the river was flowing and how steep the banks are at that point, I was horrified to realise it was you in midstream. I’m sorry that my fear for your safety turned into anger.”

“I’m sorry too,” said Richard with sudden surrender and stepped forward to lay his head on John’s shoulder. Long familiarity with such reconciliations meant that John’s arms snaked automatically around Richard’s back and the two men leant against one another to reconnect in comfortable intimacy.

Eventually John broke the embrace and announced, “Now, we shall have to make the punishment fit the crime, shan’t we?” That was invariably John’s line when he was about to propose some inventive and amusing penalty. There was also a hint of suppressed amusement in his voice which Richard picked up on at once, suspecting that he could be in for some fun and games.

John took Richard’s hand and led him, unresistingly, out into the garden. Halting in the middle of the lawn he lazily announced, “As you’re so keen on al fresco nudity you can take all your clothes off out here.” Richard glanced up apprehensively at the neighbour’s bedroom window which overlooked their back garden. John intercepted his glance and said, “Don’t worry. Their car’s not on the drive. I think they’ve gone out for the evening.”

Richard began self consciously to strip off. Despite his professed pleasure at baring his body to the elements, he actually felt uncomfortable about undressing in his own back garden. He proceeded slowly, folding each item of clothing until there was a neat pile at his feet. A light breeze had sprung up which was threatening to disturb his thin garments so his final act was to place his shoes on top to anchor the pile before he drew himself up in front of John, looking him boldly in the eye to try and disguise his uncertainty.

“Face the flower bed and clasp your hands behind your neck,” instructed John. “And stand still.” Richard turned and followed orders as John bent to pick up the pile of clothes and then walked back towards the house leaving his partner to speculate on what was coming next.

The sound of water running through the garden hosepipe alerted Richard just before the head of the sprinkler rotated far enough to send the first shower of icy droplets over his head, shoulders and back. He gasped with shock at the sensation, forcefully reminded of how the icy river water had stolen his breath when he leapt from the grassy bank. This time, however, he had a few moments’ respite while the sprinkler slowly rotated before he was doused again. As he got increasingly wet the breeze seemed to chill him more than the cold shower but he stood his ground, as directed, and kept his hands clasped behind his neck. Gradually his hair became soaked and the water ran down his face, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut.

Then he could see behind his eyelids the inky blackness of the river in which he’d swum and the corkscrew spirals of mini whirlpools where the fast flowing water encountered obstructions. He’d been quite unprepared for the cold which had sapped his strength and the speed of the current which had rapidly swept him into midstream. It was quite unlike swimming lengths in the pool or even bathing in the sea. He had suddenly to exert all his strength to prevent himself from being carried downstream and when he regained the bank he found the steep and muddy overhang difficult to negotiate. He was heartily grateful for the strong hand from above which hauled him back onto dry land even if it did turn out to belong to a very irate John.

Subdued and thoughtful, Richard could now understand that John had every justification for his anger. When the sprinkler was finally turned off, Richard was standing in a puddle of water on the lawn feeling cold and contrite. He opened his eyes but didn’t move from the position in which he been placed, and when John walked over and placed a hand on his shoulder he said, “You were right. I did place myself in danger. The others stayed by the bank but I leapt in without thinking. The current was far more powerful and the water far colder than I’d expected. You had every right to be angry.”

“Never mind,” said John consolingly. “Thank God, you’re a strong swimmer and you got out safely. There’s no harm done.”

“I deliberately disobeyed you, John, and you were rightly fearful for my safety. I’m not sure that the garden sprinkler really cuts it when it comes to punishment for something like that.”

John looked searchingly at his unhappy partner. He’d intended the brief period of nudity within range of the garden sprinkler as little more than a token penalty to mark his displeasure but the distress and guilt he saw in Richard’s eyes convinced him of the need to take further action.

“Just two then,” he stipulated, “and then we’re done with this.” He bent to remove one of his canvas deck shoes which had flexible rubber soles. “Bend over.”

Richard once again cast a nervous glance in the direction of the neighbour’s window. He hadn’t enjoyed stripping off in the garden and he liked the idea of being spanked out in the open even less. But he reckoned that two whacks with a glorified school plimsoll would soon be over with so he bent obediently, spreading his legs and bracing himself with his hands on his knees.

The thunderous slap of rubber on cold, wet skin was so loud that for a split second Richard was too astonished to fully register the intense, burning sting. Then he sprang upright with a yell and jumped around the lawn rubbing his left buttock which was developing a clear imprint of John’s deck shoe, complete with the pattern of wavy lines embossed on the sole. It was only when the pain abated somewhat that he became conscious of the ludicrous figure he must cut, leaping around naked and clutching his bottom. He returned rather shamefacedly to John’s side, grateful that his partner showed no sign of being amused but seemed to be waiting patiently, confident that Richard would resume the bending position when he felt ready.

This time Richard bent slowly and grasped his shins firmly, determined to absorb the blow without getting up. He took a deep breath and braced himself, correctly surmising that John would deliver a matching wallop to his right side. The sound didn’t alarm him this time so he was left to fully absorb the effect of supple rubber propelled at speed onto wet skin. The breath was forced from his lungs with an audible grunt but he held his position and didn’t stand up until John placed a hand under his shoulder and pulled him upright and into his arms.

When Richard had got his breath back John observed speculatively, “I should perhaps have warned you. A spanking is always much more painful when applied to wet skin. I thought two with a deck shoe would be enough.”

“More than enough, thank you,” Richard breathed.

“Come on then,” John instructed. “I think I heard next door’s car on the drive. They obviously haven’t gone out for the evening.” This time he did give way to laughter as Richard pulled out of his arms and hightailed it into the house. When he caught up with his partner, who was twisting around in the kitchen to inspect the damage to his bottom, he asked laughingly, “What’s your hurry? You were only too happy to display your nudity to all and sundry this afternoon.”

“Just because you’ve got no qualms about the world and his wife viewing your arse, that doesn’t mean that I want anyone seeing mine in this state. I take it those are designer shoes you’re wearing. I seem to have the maker’s name imprinted on my buttocks.”

John rang his fingertips lightly across his partner’s hot bottom. Richard was pouting with mock outrage but he couldn’t disguise his shiver of excitement when John said, “You’d better come upstairs. I think I need to inspect the imprint at closer quarters.”