With the ease of long practice, Chris yanked the signal levers down, switching the points and diverting the upbound Charing Cross express onto the appropriate line. Not a moment too soon, for already the rails were beginning to shrill with the sound of the down-bound 15:05 for Hastings. If he hadn't noticed our carelessness in time and come dashing in to correct it, the two would have met in about 5 minutes time going in opposite directions on the same track.
He turned on us, his face as red as his hair with fury.
"You stupid little fuckers," he hissed. "Haven't you been told never to adjust the signals without having them checked by a senior signalman ? Well ? Haven't you ?" He thumped me in the chest. "You nearly caused a major accident."
"We . . ." Mick began uncertainly, sounding close to tears.
"Save it, I don't want to hear it. The pair of you are out after this stunt - out of the railways for good."
"Please Chris, we didn't mean it, it was . . ."
"It was fucking stupidity, and it was inexcusable. No, I'm sorry, this isn't like putting glue in the Stationmaster's tea, or the time you put that old bag on the Margate train when she wanted to go to Victoria. People could have been hurt, even killed. You're 17 years old and training for a job that leaves peoples' lives in your hands, you have to take responsibility for what you do. This is the end of the road for the pair of you." He stomped furiously out of the signal room and off down the platform, obviously wanting a chance to calm down before he took a swing at us.
My heart sank into a pit of misery. If I lost this job, my chances of getting another one were probably zero, the job situation being what it was, and I wouldn't be eligible for anything other than the most minimal benefits. And my stepfather would kill me. Heedless of anything else I ran after him, followed by Mick.
"Please Chris, it won't happen again," I pleaded.
"Too damn right," he said, but I carried on anyway.
"We'll do anything, scrub the toilets for a year, anything - just please don't report us. I mean, no harm was done in the end."
"Yeah, thanks to me . . ." he said, but he looked thoughtful now that he had calmed down a bit from his initial rage. He was a good bloke, about eight years older than us but steady, friendly, enjoyed a joke - usually. He had a redhead's temper, but his anger was over as quickly as it came, which was just as well, because he was just over six foot and worked out regularly in his local gym.
I saw a faint gleam come into his eye, and hope flared. Then he shook his head.
"You know you've broken the rules and you'll have to be punished," he said.
"You could punish us," said Mick quietly. I wondered what was going on in his head - it made me a bit nervous, all this talk of punishment.
"Well . . ."
"Look, we did wrong, we should have got you or Malcolm to check the settings," argued Mick. "But give us a chance. We could be good signalmen if you gave us a chance."
Chris rubbed his chin.
"You'd agree to be disciplined as I see fit, no whinging, no complaining ?" he asked.
"Yes," said Mick.
"Er, yeah, yeah," I said.
"Mmm. I don't know. I'll have to think about it. I'm on the late shift today. The pair of you come back after the last train has gone through tonight. That'll give me time to think about it."
"OK," said Mick quietly.
"Right, then, I'll see you here at 11:45 sharp, in your uniforms, and God help you if you're late."
"We won't be," I promised, although the whole business was really putting the wind up me.
"Huh ! Now get out of here, because just at the moment all I want to do is kill the pair of you."
We got, hurriedly.
"What's all this about then," I said to Mick hurriedly as we got outside. "I don't like the sound of it."
"It's a chance, isn't it ?" he said. "I thought you were the one so desperate to keep your job ?"
"I am but . . ." I paused. There was nothing I could put into words, just something about the gleam in Chris's eyes that I somehow knew meant that whatever he decided wasn't going to be any fun at all. Not for us, anyway. "He could do anything . . ."
"Look, suppose he takes us outside, knocks us around - so what ? He isn't gonna kill us, is he ? And if it's just like - I don't know - making his tea and doing all the shit jobs for a year, well, we do most of those anyway."
"Too right," I agreed sourly. "But . . ."
"But what ? Look, if you really don't like it, go and confess to old Sarkey," - that was Mr Sark, the Stationmaster - "and get it over with."
"No, I meant it when I said I really want this job. There was just something about the way he looked when you said it . . ."
"Yeah, maybe he'll tell you to let him fuck you," sneered Mick. "Oh, of course, that wouldn't be a punishment, would it, you bent git ?"
"Yeah, well if you fucked someone they wouldn't even notice, your dick is so small," I said, as I thumped him, and the whole thing turned into one of those not quite mock battles that develop between teenage boys, neither of us actually trying to do real harm, but both at the same time trying to establish who was boss. But deep inside, I was wondering - had Mick guessed ? Because, in fact, he was absolutely right. I was starting to admit to myself that it wasn't girls but other boys that turned me on. The idea of submitting physically to Chris scared the hell out of me because part of me found the idea very exciting. And there had been just the hint of something in Chris's eyes that made me wonder whether such a thought had crossed his mind.
We disentangled ourselves, and Mick grinned. He was like that - he never took offence for more than a minute at a time, and he expected everyone else to be the same.
"I'll pick you up about 11:00 at your place," he said, "and we can have a quick pint before we go. Might help," he added, which suggested that he had a few qualms of his own.
"OK," I said, and we left it at that. I walked home, and went straight to my room. Mum brought me up some fish fingers and chips for tea, but I couldn't face eating, just chased the chips around the plate. Later, I tried watching the portable telly in my room, but I couldn't concentrate enough to watch anything except the bedside clock. Eight o'clock. Nine. Nine-thirty. Ten. I decided to have a shower and wash my hair - it couldn't hurt to arrive looking smart. Afterwards I put on my British Rail uniform, doing up all the buttons and wearing the tie, neither of which was normal for me. I started down the stairs, and Mum looked up from the telly.
"Going out again love ?" she asked with surprise.
"Bit of overtime, mum. Don't wait up for me." I blew her a kiss and was out the door before she could ask any awkward questions. I hung around by the gate, and within a few minutes Mick put in an appearance. Like me he had obviously decided that smart might be a good policy - God, he'd even polished his shoes, which must be the first time since I'd known him. In his hand he had a four-pack of lager.
"I figured the lads would all take the piss out of us if we showed up at the Lamb in full gear," he said, "so I brought these along."
"Yeah, great." We popped a can each and I took a good slug - Special Brew, extra strong, I could feel the alcohol as it went down. By the time we got near the station I was buzzed - not really drunk or anything, but feeling the effects as a pleasant warmth, like a woolly blanket around me. The prospect of Chris didn't seem so scary any more - hell, he'd be well calmed down now, he'd probably just give us a good telling-off and have us cleaning the lavvies in the morning.
We rolled into the signals room - it's a little, brick-built shed of a place, on the very far end of the platform - quite cosy in the winter, but it gets a bit stuffy at this time of year. There's a table in there where we have our tea and read the papers, and four chairs - good solid British Rail issue from before I was born - and a load of other old junk from the ancient history of the railways. Chris was sitting at the table, reading something. He looked up, and I saw him take in the uniforms with a pleased nod. Then his gaze fixed on something in Mick's left hand and he frowned - oh fuck ! I thought, that stupid tosser didn't leave the other two cans of lager outside.
"I don't believe you two clowns," said Chris, shaking his head in incredulity. "I mean, are you deliberately trying to piss me off or what ?"
"Err - drink ?" said Mick with a sickly smile, proffering the cans.
Chris just shook his head in further disbelief.
"Well, you two have really earned what you've got coming to you, is all I can say."
"What do you mean, Chris ?" I asked nervously. My stomach was fluttering.
He looked coolly at me.
"You reckon you can be good signalmen. Well, good signalmen have to have discipline, and since it seems the pair of you can't supply that for yourselves, I'll have to supply it for you. I'm going to give both your arses the walloping you deserve for today's stunt, and something to be going on with to improve your general attitude."
My stomach did flip-flops inside. I couldn't bear to meet his eyes, afraid that he might see the strange mixture of fear and desire that his words awoke in me.
"Hang on a minute, I'm not letting you belt me, you're not my old man," said Mick with righteous indignation. Chris shrugged.
"You have a choice. Go along with what you promised this lunchtime, and agree to be punished as I see fit, or clear off out of here, and don't bother coming back in the morning."
Mick reddened, and hung his head. Then he shrugged.
"Well if that's how it's going to be, I can take it," he said.
Chris snorted. "We'll see, won't we ?" he said. "The pair of you take your jackets off and hang 'em up."
We obeyed. Suddenly the summer air didn't feel so warm, and I shivered in my striped uniform-issue shirt.
"Now," said Chris, "the pair of you get over there," indicating two of the chairs standing side by side over by the far wall, their backs facing us, "and bend over the backs of those chairs until you can hold onto the front legs."
Oh God, I thought. I felt sick and dizzy. I'd never been really what you'd call walloped at home, although I'd had the cane twice at school. This was just like that, that sense of helplessness and anticipation. Only not quite, because it was Chris. I'd never fancied old Honniwell, the headmaster, but Chris was a different proposition.
"Legs apart," added our tormentor. Through my parted legs and the slatted back of the chair I saw him go to the corner and take out - oh GOD ! - one of the long, old-fashioned signalman's bats that the platform man uses to sign to the train guard. Nowadays we use small, plastic, black-and-white ones about the size and shape of a table-tennis bat. But these monsters were nearly two and a half feet long, and three inches wide, and made of solid, well-polished wood.
"Now," said Chris, with a definite note of triumph in his voice. He slapped me casually across the backside, not hard.
"Stand up," he said. "You can watch what your mate gets and think about what you've got coming."
I got up, awkwardly. Mick's face was beetroot red with embarassment, though I guessed that it wouldn't be long before he would be watching me get it in my turn.
He went and stood behind Mick, to one side of him, and kind of lined up the bat, laying it lightly across the seat of Mick's tightly stretched uniform trousers. The seat was getting a bit shiny, I noticed. Chris drew back the bat, slowly, so slowly, and then:
WHACK. With a smart crack he brought the instrument down on Mick's backside. It must have hurt as bad as it sounded, because I saw Mick's face go from utter astonishment to a screwed up look of real pain. Again the thing came down - it sounded terrifying, and to judge by the expression on Mick's face, that was how it felt, too. Again Chris brought it down, this time on the lower part of that taut curve, and a second in rapid succession on the upper half. I saw Mick visibly brace himself, the muscles under his jaw taut with the effort not to let out any sound. Twice more that terrifying smack sounded, and then Chris stepped back.
"All right," he said sternly. "You can get up, and stand against that wall until I tell you otherwise." Very slowly, Mick unbent. His hands went unbidden to his backside, but Chris quickly snapped:
"And keep your hands at your sides !"
As Mick passed me we exchanged a brief glance: his eyes were red, his face scarcely less so, but he managed a brief compression of the lips that might have charitably been called a smile. Scared as I was, sorry for him as I was, I couldn't help but think: yeah, well you aren't so cocky about it now, are you ?
But now it was my turn.
"You know what to do," said Chris coolly. I swallowed. I adopted the position, bent over the chair back, its rounded wooden top firm against my stomach. My stomach needed something firm, God knows: it was trying to do a little dance in there.
He stood behind me. I couldn't see him clearly, but somehow it was as if he was etched in light on the inside of my head as I sensed his movement, sensed the drawing back of that long, sinister piece of wood, then WHAM.
Christ ! At first it was more shock than anything, an impact like half the world had collided with my arse, and then in its wake a sudden blossoming of the most incredible fiery pain. And before I was ready, before I could collect my scattered wits, and most certainly before the pain had had even the slightest chance to ebb, he hit me again, like a stripe of white-hot metal laid across my backside. I bit my own tongue, and hardly felt it in comparison. That horrid sound came again, and this time he had laid it across the lower part of my bum, which I suddenly discovered was a very tender place, and followed it in due measure with two criss-cross strokes, the last of which had me within a hair's-breadth of crying out in agony. Only the memory of Mick's silence, and my determination not to be shown up in front of him, somehow kept my mouth locked on the inward scream. One more, just one more, and it would be over. The wait seemed like centuries. The whistling thwack, and the fire blossomed again. Two tears squeezed themselves out of my tightly shut eyelids despite all my determination. But at least I hadn't yelled.
Chris rested a hand on my blazing rump. He did it gently enough but his hand seemed to leave its imprint in flame.
"OK, get up," he said. I did so - now I understood why Mick had moved like a seventy-year-old, for movement seemed to bring a fresh wave of burning to my bum.
"The pair of you can drop your trousers, then put your hands behind your heads and turn and face the wall." Chris directed.
I looked up in alarm, but hastily dropped my gaze on meeting Chris's steely glare. Mick didn't even bother to try. We unbuckled our belts and let the grey serge uniform trousers slide down around our knees. And all I was thinking was: PLEASE God, don't let him wallop me with that just over my underpants, please, please, I won't be able to take it.
"Now that," said Chris, "was for what you did today. And this is going to be for the way that you two little bastards behave generally. " And he reached around me and waved in front of my horrified gaze his thick leather belt which he had slid from off his waist and doubled over. But as he did so his body brushed against mine, and I caught a whiff of aftershave and sweat and something else masculine and indefinable, and all of a sudden my cock twitched inside my underpants. It was as if all the heat pulsing in my backside had suddenly flowed, thick and molten, forwards into my groin. To my horrified embarrassment, within seconds I had the most ragingly rock-solid stiffy I had ever known.
My face must have gone purple with shame, and I could only thank my lucky stars that the tails of my shirt, and the fact that I was facing the wall, helped to hide my condition. I was so pre-occupied with this that the sudden explosion of a new fire in my arse, as Chris's belt snapped across it, caught me rather on the hop.
Which was exactly what I did. Thinking I was about to try to dodge my punishment, Chris grapped me by the shoulder, and pushed me down into a bent-over position, as the belt came down five more times. Oh God, did it sting ! But someone up there must like me, because for whatever reason, he didn't seem to notice the throbber in my undies. Between how much my backside hurt and how busy I was trying to keep anyone from noticing my erection, I hardly realised he had finished until he said:
"All right, go and stand against the wall."
Slightly bent over to hide my condition, I hobbled over to that wall quick as you like, and hid my face against it. I heard the snapping sound of the belt as Mick got his, and a faint whimper from him as the supple leather caught some particularly hot spot. Then it was over it seemed, and he was a shadowy warmth beside me. I didn't look sideways, or acknowledge his presence in any way: that would have felt too - too - I don't know what, too much of an acknowledgement of what had happened, perhaps. I knew that this was a thing that Mick and I would never talk about, not really talk. Probably we wouldn't even joke about it, or only very carefully, when memory had had a chance to fade. It was too real, and too intimate. Blokes didn't share things like that with one another. And yet I wanted something more.
Then Chris began to lecture us, tell us how we had to shape up, watch what we were doing, take the job more seriously. Funny, we got that sort of thing all the time from the senior staff, and normally it was water off a duck's back, but this time it really got to me, as if my emotions were as raw as my arse. I was nearly in tears by the time he finished.
"OK," he said at last. "You can go. But if there's any more trouble out of the pair of you, you know what you can expect."
Well, Mick had his trousers back up and was out of that door like a scared rabbit. But I hung back. Something glorious and terrible stirred inside me. It was like some unbearable pressure behind my lips, forcing them apart . . .
"Chris," I said.
He raised his eyebrows interrogatively, and I thought: what a wonderful colour his eyes are, rich, rich brown with that gleam in them, like chestnuts when they first come out of their leathery case . . .
"Well ?" he asked, after a moment.
"I - it was me that suggested it. Changing the signals I mean. I forgot about the up train." All the blood seemed to rush out of my head in the shrill silence that followed the words, leaving me dizzy, empty. This must be how it felt to dive from a cliff, in the moment when the long descent began to the rocks below, the body finally committed to the irreversible plunge.
He nodded, thoughtfully.
"Well, I'm glad you told me," he said. "That shows something. But you realise that this means I'll have to punish you some more ?"
I nodded, not daring to trust my voice.
He smiled. "Step out of your trousers and come over here," he said. I thought, to my surprise, that there was a slight quiver in his voice. No, I must have imagined it. I obeyed, walking across the bristly synthetic carpet, my mind a turmoil of things that I could hardly put a name to, need, fear, shame, and lust so closely blended that I wasn't sure what I was feeling at all.
I stood in front of him, feeling the warmth of his body come off him like a wall that has been warmed all day by the sun.
Our eyes met. It seemed like a long, long time before his head dipped gently towards me and his lips brushed, dry and warm, against mine. I closed my eyes as those same firm muscular organs worked against me, surrendering myself, my own lips parting in response as involuntary and instinctive as a flower opening to the sun. His arms fastened around me like a living wall, inside which lived a new and different world.
We broke off. I was a little shocked by the strength of my body's response. He shook his head.
"Wow," he said, and suddenly I realised that he wasn't that much older than me, and he didn't have the key to the universe or anything.
"Chris, I want . . ." I began, but he silenced me with his lips, hungrily devouring me. I suddenly discovered that kissing was just about the most incredibly erotic thing in the world, and that if he did that to me much more I was going to explode . . .
"I know," he said at last, his hands roaming possessively up and down my back. "But first there's the little matter of your punishment."
"Please, not the paddle again," I said.
He laughed. "No, not the paddle, or the belt. I rather think that what you need is a good old-fashioned spanking, don't you ?"
YES ! Yes, I want to feel your body warm against me, feel your strength overpowering me, know myself helpless, my bum presented for your pleasure, know that you will decide when my punishment ends, submit utterly to your hands, yours, yours completely, completely vulnerable, completely willing . . .
"If you say so," I whispered.
He pulled me to him, and his hands ran down my sides and into the waistband of my underpants, carried on moving, dragging them down, down to my knees. All the while his eyes never left mine, holding me in his gaze. My cock sprang to attention, freed from the tight cotton, but this time there was no shame in me, only desire. His hand stroked lightly across the silky skin of my erection. Then, abruptly, he sat down and pulled me down, resistless, across the hard bunched muscle of his thighs. Despite myself, despite the soreness of my arse, despite the fact that I knew this was going to hurt, I found myself arching up, raising my trembling buttocks ready for his hand. I wanted this, needed it on some level deeper than words could express. I felt the weight and strength of his left arm across the small of my back. He touched my backside, as if reassuring himself of something.
Then his hand came down, firmly, on my cheeks. The small part of me that had been hoping that this would be just a gentle reminder for form's sake was instantly disabused. Maybe if I hadn't had the paddle and the belt first it wouldn't have stung so much (as it happens I was to learn on other occasions that that wasn't true !). As it was he hadn't hit me more than about ten times before I was going through the roof. All the fire in my bum had been re-awakened by his strong calloused hand as it methodically covered every inch of my wriggling behind.
I cried out - I couldn't keep it in any longer, but he just grunted and carried on with my punishment. It seemed endless, the slap of his hand, the stinging, white-hot fire. Still he spanked me, and soon I was sobbing like a little kid, all mixed up with pleas and promises to be good.
Abruptly he stopped.
"All right," he said. "You've had enough." His voice was hoarse. I couldn't get up - my legs felt all shaky. Gently - how could someone be so gentle and so strong at the same time ? - he aided me up and held me close, running one hand through my hair.
"You're a cute kid," he said.
I kissed him. I put everything I could into it, trying to tell him all the things I felt and didn't know how to say. I could feel his stiffy through his trousers as he pressed against me. My own, which had vanished, suddenly sprang to roaring life again.
He broke away a moment.
"Listen - you do want this, don't you ? Because if you don't . . ."
I silenced him with a hungry mouth while my hands were busy at his zipper. I undid the waistband of his trousers and my hands slid into his underpants and claimed my prize. Oh my God, I thought, this is it, I'm holding another bloke's hard-on. It felt wonderful, throbbing in my hand like the bird I once rescued from our cat, vital with heat and life.
"Well, I guess you do then," he said drily. He began to kiss my neck, while he unbuttoned my shirt, then his mouth moved light as a butterfly across my shoulders. I responded in kind, almost tearing at the buttons of his shirt in my need.
"Easy," he murmured, "we've plenty of time," but my excitement and lust seemed to infect him too, and time went into fast forward, and then suddenly I was naked and kneeling (very carefully!) at his feet to pull off his socks, and finally to reach up and pull down his briefs.
His cock leaped out from its nest of tightly curled red-brown pubic hair, its swollen head seemingly, from my perspective, as big as a fist, its dark shaft as thick and ribbed as a treetrunk. I studied it with fascination, free for the first time to look openly at another man's private parts, noting the similarities and the differences, delighted and not a little awed.
He thrust it towards me and I took it into my mouth. After a few moments in which I thought I would choke I started to get the hang of it, holding the shaft with my left hand to control it, flicking my tongue over the smoothness of the head, moving, always moving, stimulating the sensitive tissues.
"Oh Christ," he said. "I'm too excited. Much more of this and I'll come straight away." I laughed inside. Who was in charge now ? But he gently pushed me away.
A pang of disappointment went through me - was that to be it ? But no, he was kneeling down too, pulling me down onto the grubby carpet, turning me around. His mouth closed on my own prick, warm, velvety and muscular, and I returned with renewed vigour to my work on the huge manhood that he eagerly thrust toward me, my head bobbing in the warm, sweaty man-scented space between those muscled thighs. My tongue roamed down the shaft like some wonderful grown-up ice-lolly, and slithered across the taut sack of his scrotum into the hollow between thigh and balls. Meanwhile the most amazing sensations kept threatening to distract me as his tongue worked along under the flare of my own cock head, and over it and down.
And down. His tongue moved across my balls and then he was gently parting my thighs, his tongue probing the sensitive skin between them, and on into the sweat-slick crack between my cheeks. I made the faintest sound of protest but he carried on, twisting me gently but irresistably onto my stomach, pulling my arse up then swooping down again, between my still flaming buttocks, their soreness now just another element in the vast sea of sensations enveloping my body, as his tongue probed, slickly muscular, at my arsehole.
Helplessly my body convulsed, surging back to meet him as he probed and played. His hands ran over my hot, welted cheeks as I moaned with pleasure.
"You like that, huh ?" he whispered.
"Oh yes," I gasped.
He began to kiss my arse, my thighs, my lower back, then returned once more to his joyous assault on my anus. I hardly knew where I was, dazed with the intensity of my pleasure. But I wanted something more.
"Chris," I gasped.
"I want you to fuck me silly," I said gloriously. I wanted that massive organ buried to the hilt inside me, taking me, making me completely and indelibly his.
"Boy are you hot for it !" he said, laughing. "Hang on a minute." He disentangled himself from me and got up, went over to his jacket and returned, triumphantly with two small sachets. One proved to be a condom, which he expertly unrolled over his throbbing dick. Then he turned to me, and opened the second sachet of some slick gel. One gel-smeared finger probed at my arse, and slid smoothly in. I wiggled, adjusting to new sensations. He withdrew it, then lubed up his rubber-sheathed monster. He straddled me for a moment, bent down to kiss my lips.
"You know this might hurt a bit if you haven't done it before ?" he whispered. "I'll try to be as slow as possible, but to tell you the truth you've got me so excited that I might get a bit carried away."
"Can't hurt worse than the signalmans bat, can it ?" I asked.
"Maybe not," he said. "But just say something if it's hurting you, all right ? The last thing I want to do is hurt you."
I grinned - it just seemed so incongruous from the man who had just belted seven kinds of hell out of me. Then he parted my legs, moving between them. His hands toyed with my erection, rubbing the skin of the shaft, driving my organ to new lengths as his own rested like some primed and potent warhead between my cheeks, butting at that pucker of skin, making a trembling lust run through me. He began to enter me, sliding in.
A fiery pain lanced through me, and I winced, and at once he stopped, waiting, allowing my arse time to adjust to him, and then again he was thrusting, controlled but ungainsayable, into the heart of me, and suddenly, like some key turning in a lock, everything meshed and slid together and he pushed the full length of him home into my arse. I gasped, and saw his look of concern, but shook my head and smiled, unable to find the words to say that it was not pain but joy, that this was what I had been made for. And somehow he understood that wordless reassurance, and he began to move inside me, pumping, thrusting that solid maleness into me, producing a sensation not fullness, not pain, not even exactly pleasure, although it had something of all of these; it was, rather, an absolute rightness that grew and grew within me with each thrust until I was moaning, incoherent wordless sounds of encouragement and surrender and love. And suddenly that growing sensation exploded within me, and my body exploded with it, and I cried out as I came with an intensity that was close to pain and like nothing that any hand job had ever prepared me for. And as my body convulsed around him Chris, driven to frenzy, thrust one last time and came with me, deep inside me.
I remember vaguely him withdrawing, carefully, from me, and collapsing in my arms, his body warm and satisfyingly heavy on me. And I was floating, my body sore, but a good sort of sore like after hard exercise, and my mind drifting in some calm place, far away from the world. Presently we would have to get up and go, tidy the place up, sort ourselves out. I thought that probably this would not be the last such encounter, and that maybe I was going to spend a lot of time sitting down carefully in future.
But for now we were stopped, at rest here, all signals on red.