THE CHECK

 

 

 

Copyright © 2006 by Leah Kelley

 

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.

 

 

 

 

     Clay walked up his front walk, a bounce in his step.  The weather was beautiful and with things slow at work he decided to take off early and surprise his wife with an afternoon trip to nearby Gatlinburg.

 

     He picked up the mail before entering the house, absently fingering through it until his eyes lit on a piece marked, “Return to Sender”.  The envelope was addressed to his brother-in-law in his wife’s handwriting, but somehow the city, state, and zip code had gotten smudged and it was therefore, undeliverable.

 

     When Clay entered the house he could hear the water running upstairs that signaled his wife was preparing to take a bath.  He slowly opened the envelope.  He and his brother-in-law didn’t always see eye to eye, so it didn’t surprise him that Lindsey hadn’t mentioned she’d been corresponding with him.  It bothered him, but it didn’t surprise him.  He was surprised, however, when instead of a letter he pulled a check from the envelope.  Made out to Lindsey’s brother, Jonathan Walker, it was for $100.00.  His lips tightened.

 

     Lindsey’s younger brother was forever in trouble, mostly due to his own irresponsible nature, and many times he looked to Lindsey to bail him out.  Clay and his wife had disagreed multiple times on this very issue.  He couldn’t believe she’d written him so large a check without Clay’s permission.

 

     The jets on the Jacuzzi came on upstairs, so Clay took his time fishing the checkbook out of his wife’s purse.  He searched the register.  It was no surprise the check wasn’t written down.  She’d just skipped the number altogether.  But later down the register another check number was skipped as well.  He’d just about bet she sent another check when they realized the first one was lost in the mail.

 

     Clay remembered Lindsey being short on cash that week and asking for an extra bit of money from him.  He didn’t keep close tabs on her spending habits – just wrote her a check every couple of weeks for her part of the budget which included the groceries, clothing and all the things pertaining to housekeeping, and that went into a separate account that Lindsey managed.  Lindsey had told him the grocery bill that week was more than she’d expected.  She’d even apologized for going overboard.  Now that he looked back on it, however, they hadn’t eaten anything different that week – no steak or shrimp or anything that should have been that expensive.  Lindsey was just covering her tracks.

 

     The fact that she’d lied to him bothered him even more because they were supposed to be a Christian home.  Christian wives didn’t go around lying to their husbands, did they?  Of course, none of them were above sin, but that didn’t mean he condoned it.

 

     Hearing the jets go off in the jacuzzi, he slowly returned the check to the envelope and made his way upstairs.  Lindsey stood in their bedroom, a fluffy yellow towel wrapped around her slim body, her soft brown hair piled on top of her head in a barrette with damp tendrils trailing just below her wet shoulders.  Pink and clean from her bath, she looked beautiful.  He sighed heavily.

 

     When she saw him, her face lit up and she flew across the room to put her arms around him, laying her cheek against his chest.

 

     “You’re home early!” She pulled back to look into his face, her smile fading a bit as a look of concern entered her eyes.  “What’s the matter?  Are you sick?”

 

     He shook his head.  Then he handed her the envelope.

 

 

     Lindsey grasped the envelope as if it were a snake.  She knew all too well what was inside.  Guilt had plagued her ever since she’d sent it.

 

     Trying to wrap her mind around the awful trouble she was in, she removed the check with trembling fingers.  Her skin went hot all over and her mouth dried.

 

     “Do you want to explain this to me, Linds?” her husband asked.  His tone was gentle, causing tears to form in her eyes.  He was such a good husband to her.  He didn’t deserve this.

 

     “I’m sorry,” she said quietly as the tears ran down her face.  “Please forgive me.  He called and said his roommates were going to throw him out of the apartment if he didn’t pay his part.  I know I should have talked to you about it... ”

 

     “He never received the check.  Did he get thrown out?” Clay asked.

 

     Lindsey’s heart picked up and she cried harder.  “I sent him another one,” she finally made herself admit.

 

     He nodded solemnly.  “Linds, you’re telling me you made the decision to go behind my back not once but twice to send this money?”

 

     She nodded.  “I’m so sorry.  I don’t want you to distrust me.  I’ve never gone behind your back on anything before.  I promise.”

 

     “I don’t want you to distrust me either, but you do.  You didn’t trust me to make the right decision in this situation,” he told her.

 

     “I was afraid you’d say no,” she said.

 

     “That is a chance you should have taken.  You didn’t have the right or authority to take money for our household needs and give it to someone else.”

 

     “I know,” she cried.

 

     He removed his tie, unbuttoning the top button of his still crisp white shirt, and began to roll the sleeves up past his muscular forearms while she sent up desperate fragments of prayer.  Ever since they married five years earlier her husband had disciplined her when she did wrong.  She knew of no other woman whose husband did the same, but that made no difference.

 

     Mostly he corrected small faults.  Five or ten swats with a paddle for mouthing off.  Two or three swats for spending too much time on the computer.  She’d gotten a painful over the knee hand spanking just last month for coming home with a speeding ticket.  Correction was infrequent and made a huge impression when it happened, but it was usually over quickly even if it was painful.

 

     Except when he took off his belt.

 

     He’d done that twice before – once just a few months after they married, and once more a couple of years ago.  She hoped he’d never do it again.

 

     Clay studied her for just a moment before his large hand moved to the buckle of his wide leather belt.  Lindsey’s heart jumped into her throat as he unbuckled it and pulled it from his pants with a swish.

 

     “Lindsey, I’m going to punish you for your dishonesty,” he told her, the jingle of the buckle ominous as he doubled the belt in his hand.

 

     Lindsey shook her head slowly, her eyes never leaving the belt.  “Please... ” she pleaded.  “Please not with that.  I... I’ll get the paddle, okay?  Please?”

 

     “Sorry, Linds.  We’re way past the paddle this time.  Now take the towel loose and lie across the bed.”

 

     “Clay, please!” her hoarse voice rose to a high pitch.  “I’ll never do it again.  I promise!”

 

     “Face down on the bed, Lindsey.  I’m not going to tell you again.”

 

     Lindsey loosed the towel and let it fall to the floor.  She knew from experience that to continue to argue would only earn her an additional paddling the following morning.  She’d be sore enough without that.  Trembling from head to toe she climbed onto the bed and buried her face in her pillow.  “Please... ” she begged, her voice muffled, “please don’t whip me hard.”

 

     She heard the buckle jingle again as he moved into position.  The noise caused the knot of dread in her stomach to intensify.  The belt swished and fire streaked across the crest of her bottom.  She drew a sharp breath between her teeth and jerked.  The belt swished again.

 

     “Ooowww!” she screeched.  The leather wrapped around the lower part of her cheeks, causing her to rise up on her elbows and clench her bottom.  The next stroke landed on her upper thighs.

 

     Lindsey knotted her fists in her pillow and kicked her feet as the whipping continued without pause.

 

     “Oooh!  Oooh!  Pleeeaase!  Pleeeaase Clay!  I’m sorry!” she wailed over and over again, yet her husband continued his grim task.

 

     The burning of her backside became nearly unbearable.  She writhed against the bed, her legs moving frantically in an effort to remove her bottom from the scalding assault, yet it continued.  She became aware of nothing more than the dreaded swish of the leather followed by the awful fire it brought.  Screams jerked from her throat with each stroke until finally she was too hoarse to scream anymore.

 

     She sobbed into her pillow, the pain unspeakable, yet Clay continued to whip her without mercy until she was so spent she could do no more than cry quietly.

 

     Her bottom was so sore she barely realized it when the whipping was over.  She turned on her side and watched her husband replace the belt around his waist and breathed a sigh of relief.

 

     He wiped the tears from one side of her face and kissed her cheek.  “Why don’t you lay up here and rest for awhile, and then we’ll talk, okay?”

 

     “I need to go to the bathroom,” she nearly whispered.

 

     “Go ahead.  Then I want you to get some rest.”

 

     She moved gingerly off of the bed and walked slowly into the bathroom, her bottom on fire.  After using the toilet, she peered into the mirror at her backside.  The belt marks crisscrossing her rear made her sniff and hiccough in self pity.  She’d never forget this lesson as long as she lived.

 

     When she returned to the bed, she slept almost immediately.  She was awakened by her husband a couple of hours later by a gentle hand on her shoulder.  He sat next to her on the bed.

 

     “How do you feel?” he asked in a quiet voice.

 

     “Better,” she admitted.  She touched her bottom and winced.  “I’m a little bit sore.”

 

     “Do you feel like going out for dinner tonight?  I thought we’d drive over to Gatlinburg. Maybe go to the Dixie Stampede?”

 

     She loved the Dixie Stampede.  “Yes!  I’d love it,” she told him.

 

     “Okay, get ready and we’ll get going.”

 

     “Clay, are you still mad at me?” she had to know.

 

     “No, Sweetheart.  You know this settles it for me.  And I don’t think you’ll do anything like that again, will you?”

 

     “No, Sir,” she said, suddenly shy.

 

     He winked at her.  “Get ready and let’s go.”

 

 

 

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