The Barn Burners
Natalie looked back over her shoulder at the billowing cloud of smoke in the distance. Her side was beginning to ache from running so fast. She knew she had to stop, she could go no further. She collapsed onto the ground next to a nearby tree to catch her breath. Beau came running up behind her and threw himself to the ground beside her, both of them struggling to catch their breath.
When she could finally speak, Natalie shook her head. “We’re in for it now!”
“Not if they don’t find out it was us.” Beau said hopefully, reaching inside his pocket, fingering the lighter he had just used to light the firecrackers. “I’m not sure anyone saw us there.”
They heard the sirens in the distance as the fire department pulled up to the vacant field to douse the flames. “At least someone called the fire department” Beau observed.
Natalie and Beau were fiercely loyal to one another. Their father had been sent to prison when they were three and four years old respectively, and their mother ran off and left them when they had been six and seven years old. After that, they had lived mostly with their great grandmother until last winter when she got very sick and had to be put in a retirement home. Now they were thirteen and fourteen years old, and had been living with their father’s brother and his wife, Uncle Dan and Aunt Ruth, for the past six months.
Natalie started to cry. “What if they find out we did it and send us away?”
“We’ll stick together no matter what” Beau assured her. “We won’t let them separate us or send us to some state home. We’ll run away first.” Beau said, though he knew his plan was easier said than done. They had been at the mercy of adults their entire lives, and the problem was there was no place for them to run. Especially, now that they were living in the country.
They stewed over their predicament for a long time, finally resolving they had to return home and hope no one suspected them of starting the fire. Uncle Dan was sitting in the rocker on the front porch when they arrived. “Where’ve you been?” He asked casually.
Beau shrugged “just out in the fields.”
“I would have thought you would have shown up at the fire, I’m sure you could see the smoke. Everyone around was there it seemed, it was quite exciting.” Uncle Dan said.
“We saw the smoke” Beau said nervously.
Uncle Dan was very suspicious of his niece and nephew. “Someone mentioned that you two were the culprits who started that blaze, but I told them I doubted it. Do me a favor though and turn out your pockets for me” Uncle Dan said. “Just so I can make sure in my mind it wasn’t the two of you that started that blaze.”
Beau’s face turned crimson. Natalie pulled out her pockets quickly, since there was nothing inside them. Beau carefully worked his pockets halfway out, hoping his uncle would think they were empty. Uncle Dan could tell Beau’s pockets were not all the way turned out, so he reached over and yanked on them until the incriminating contents fell to the porch. Beau closed his eyes as he heard the cigarette lighter and the few left over firecrackers hit the ground. He cursed himself for not destroying the evidence, but he had also never been searched before when he got home.
Uncle Dan looked at Beau curiously. “Care to explain the firecrackers and the lighter?”
Beau was unable to look at his uncle. “It’s not what you think.”
“Explain what it is then.” Uncle Dan suggested as Aunt Ruth joined them on the porch. Beau knew he was in trouble. He tried to will himself to run, but his legs were like lead and he couldn’t move. Uncle Dan reached down and picked up the firecrackers and lighter. “Anyone who saw these might think you had something to do with starting that fire.”
Natalie stood next to her brother Beau, staring at the ground and glancing up at Beau from time to time, following her brothers lead.
“Explain why I shouldn’t suspect you started that fire.” Uncle Dan suggested. But before Beau could answer, a cop car pulled down the long dirt driveway and two officers quickly got out and approached them.
“Good evening” Officer Parker introduced himself and his partner Officer Johnson. “Someone reported seeing two teens running away from a fire about half mile from here, just shortly after the fire started. We were told they lived here.” Officer Parker said.
Beau and Natalie knew they were busted. Uncle Dan handed the lighter and firecrackers to the police officer. “You might be interested to see what I found in their pockets.” He said.
Officer Parker looked intently at Beau and Natalie. “Care to explain what you are doing with these things?” He asked, and Natalie’s lips started to quiver and she began to cry.
“We didn’t mean to do it” Natalie burst out and Beau elbowed her as hard as he could. But that was the beginning of the end. Finally Beau and Natalie made a full confession that it was them who had lit the firecrackers in the field, but they both insisted they never intended for a fire to start.
Officer Parker explained to them both how extensive the damage was and that the old barn near where the fire started had been demolished by the flames. He talked for what seemed like forever to Natalie and Beau, and finally issued them both a citation to appear in juvenile court to answer for what they had done. Eventually Officer’s Parker and Johnson went back to their car and drove away and Beau and Natalie were left alone with their aunt and uncle on the porch.
Uncle Dan looked intently at them and frowned. “I suspect you found those old firecrackers out in the old garage. I’m sure my son Alex left them there a long time ago, but I told you the things in that garage were off limits. It’s been one thing after another since you both got here and quite frankly, I’ve about had enough of your shenanigans.”
“We’ll leave then” Beau said angrily.
“You’re not going anywhere” Uncle Dan informed him. “I never gave up on my own kids and I’m not about to give up on the two of you. However, when I finish with you both, you may wish I had.”
“What are you going to do to us?” Beau asked in a worried voice.
Uncle Dan and Aunt Ruth had raised three boys who were now grown and gone. Uncle Dan looked at Beau sternly. “I’m going to teach you an old fashioned lesson in obedience.” He said. “I told you to stay out of that barn and not to get into things in there. I’ve also warned you before about fire danger in the fields around here. We live in the country where everyone has a lot of property, and no one wants it destroyed.”
“Okay so I fucked up” Beau said angrily.
Uncle Dan looked at his wife Ruth briefly, then back at Beau. “I think we’ve had the discussion about bad language on several other occasions, so that isn’t helping your case.”
Beau’s jaw tightened. Uncle Dan was a reasonable man and had been very patient with Beau and Natalie. He usually gave them extra chores for discipline, which they hated to do and they seldom followed through with the extra chores, or any of their regular chores for that matter, unless they were threatened with harsher consequences. Uncle Dan had taken away their privileges and given them a good talking to countless times, but in reality nothing had really worked with them and they continued to do pretty much what they wanted.
“There comes a time when there’s been enough talk and the time comes for action.” Uncle Dan said. “So let’s take a walk.” He took Beau by one arm and Natalie by the other, leading them off the porch and over to the side of the large house to a grove of willow trees.
Beau swallowed. “This is bullshit.”
Uncle Dan raised his eyebrows as he proceeded to demonstrate the finer points of how to cut a switch.
“You can’t use that on us” Beau said emphatically.
“Your opinion is noted” Uncle Dan said handing the freshly cut branches to Natalie and escorting them both back to the house. They stopped on the porch briefly as Uncle Dan took time to clean off the branches with his pocket knife. Beau and Natalie watched with growing concern. Then he led both of them inside the house into the living room. Aunt Ruth busied herself in the kitchen.
“You can’t do this” Beau stated.
“I don’t want to Beau, but quite frankly you leave me little choice.” Uncle Dan stated emphatically. “This was how I learned to behave when I was young.” Uncle Dan stated. “And trust me I started minding a lot better after a good whipping.”
Natalie started to cry. Uncle Dan pulled out the ottoman and told Natalie to bend over and place her hands on either side. “Oh please Uncle Dan” Natalie said in anguish.
“This is what my brother and I received plenty of times when we were your age.” Uncle Dan quipped. “You’ll survive.” Natalie willed herself to bend over as instructed. Uncle Dan yanked on her shorts and panties and they fell down around her ankles, exposing her bare bottom.
Uncle Dan raised the switch high up in the air, bringing it down with a smooth swift stroke against Natalie’s bare bottom. SWISH! “Owwie” Natalie screamed standing up and reaching back to feel the fresh welt.
“I know its hard Natalie, but keep your hands flat on the ottoman and stay bent over or I will have to add more licks.” Uncle Dan warned.
With that Natalie started to cry “This isn’t fair.” But she bent back over the ottoman. SWISH! SWISH! The switch touched her bare skin two more times sharply causing her legs to wiggle back and forth. “Ouch!”
“Stay still” Uncle Dan warned her. “It’s important that you take your punishment like a young lady.”
Out of all the spankings Natalie remembered experiencing in her life, none were nearly as stinging as this one. SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! One after the other landed against her bare flesh and she screamed out in anguish. “Please stop” she sobbed.
SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! One after the other, this time moving down across the backs of her thighs “Ohhhhhhhh” she cried hysterically when the switch stung the backs of her thighs. SWISH, SWISH, SWISH, the licks fell in rapid succession, and Natalie thought she might die. She grabbed onto the ottoman for all she was worth her knuckles turning white. The whipping didn’t stop until her uncle had delivered thirty stinging licks to her bare bottom and thighs, most of them to the backs of her thighs.
She was begging for mercy. “No more please, please” she sobbed hysterically.
Uncle Dan decided that was enough for her and told her to pull up her pants and trade places with Beau. She bawled in pain as she pulled up her panties and shorts, the welts on her legs were visible beneath the bottom of her shorts.
Beau never remembered feeling this nervous. “Get over the ottoman and take your punishment like a young man” Uncle Dan said sternly.
Beau swallowed the lump in his throat and moved forward and leaned over the ottoman. His Uncle yanked down Beau’s pants and boxers, and they fell in a heap at his ankles, just as Natalie’s had.
SWISH! Uncle Dan wasted very little time getting started. “Oh Shit!” Beau said standing up in surprise.
“For swearing I’m adding five more” Uncle Dan said “and if you get up again, I’ll add another five. Stay still and take your punishment.”
Beau never felt such hatred and loathing in his life, being humiliated like he was. He gritted his teeth determined not to cry. SWISH, SWISH, SWISH! Uncle Dan wasted no time continuing with the punishment. Beau gritted his teeth. This was more pain than he ever remembered feeling from any other spanking in his life, even some of the beltings he received from his mother’s boyfriend when he was just a kid.
SWISH, SWISH, SWISH, SWISH, the licks continued to fall one after the other and after twenty, Beau had to grip the ottoman vehemently, so he would not stand up or reach back to block the switch.
“You really need to think things through before acting as foolishly as you did” Uncle Roy said as he continued. SWISH! SWISH!
Beau was made of strong emotions, but he could no longer hold back his tears. “Oww” he started to let go, feeling extremely humiliated. “Ouch” and the tears flowed freely.
Uncle Dan gave Beau fifty licks in total, swish after vicious swish listening to his nephew sob and try to hold still. Beau’s bottom and upper thighs were striped red and raw from the switch.
“No more” Beau begged in his humility. “Please.”
Uncle Dan finally withdrew the switch and told Beau to pull up his pants. Beau struggled, just as his sister had, to pull up his pants over his stinging bottom. His eyes were filled with tears and as he looked over he saw that Natalie was still bawling like a baby.
Uncle Dan looked at them both as they stood side by side in front of him. He placed his hand under Natalie’s chin and tilted her face up so he could look in her eyes. “I’m sorry I had to do that, and I know it hurts.”
He then looked his nephew squarely in the face. “I’m really sorry Beau, but what you did was not okay. It’s not okay to set fire to fields and then take off without even bothering to call for help. You acted very recklessly all the way around.”
Beau couldn’t stop crying as he felt the burn on his bottom and upper thighs. “Yes sir.”
“Things are going to change around here” Uncle Dan said. “You are both going to start doing what you are supposed to be doing. If you don’t, then we may have to do this again, but I sincerely hope not.”
With that, Uncle Dan took Natalie in his arms and hugged her. “I’ve grown to love you both just like my own kids, though I’m sure at times like this that’s hard for you to imagine. I only had to whip my three boys a couple of times over the years, and I sincerely hope this is the one and only time I have to whip you two.”
Uncle Dan reached over and hugged Natalie who sobbed heavily against her uncle’s chest. He released her a moment or two later and she ran and hugged her Aunt Ruth who was standing in the hallway. After several moments hugging Aunt Ruth, Natalie then retreated to the privacy of her bedroom to examine her welts and rub her sore bottom.
Beau stood facing his uncle, unable to stop his tears. Uncle Dan reached out and embraced Beau. Beau had not been hugged in a long time, especially by a man, and he suddenly felt himself melt as if he was a little boy again. Beau had always been strong, for his sister’s sake, but suddenly that was gone. His back shook vigorously as he sobbed against his uncle’s shoulder. “It’s okay to cry and let it out son” Uncle Dan said. “I know it hurts. And for the record, I know you didn’t mean to start that fire, but you really didn’t think about your actions.”
“I’m sorry” Beau sobbed.
“It’s okay” Uncle Dan said, patting him firmly on the back. “We won’t talk about this anymore. You’re square with me, but as for the citation you got from the police, that matter will still need to be resolved between you and the courts.”
“Yes sir” Beau said sniffing and trying to compose himself.
“Go on up to your room now” Uncle Dan said.
Beau swiftly went up the stairs to his room, passing Natalie’s closed door. When he entered his own bedroom he quickly closed the door, and ripped off his pants to relieve his burning bottom. He then threw himself down on his bed and began rubbing his bottom with vigor. He had never felt anything that painful in his life.
When they were alone, Dan looked at his wife Ruth and embraced her, kissing her forehead. “I thought we were done raising kids.”
“Me too” she sighed heavily. “And those two are full of spunk.”
Dan smiled, “Yes indeed, you can certainly tell they belong in this family.”