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Four Corners For Four Boys

by Eric Blyton

Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 08 Mar 1999

Author's Note: Unlike most of my stories on this archive; this one isn't based on anything other than a photograph that was posted over at boyspank. com. As usual, comments are very much appreciated.

Paul Reynolds walked into his kitchen Monday morning to find himself in a whirl of chaos. His two sons and two nephews were rushing about, going in and out of the fridge and generally being very noisy. Paul knew this was typical of boys when they hit the leading edge of puberty, but he could see that his wife was getting very wound up. Since she was cooking breakfast, he figured that the least he could do was manage the boys.

"All right, everybody settle down and take a seat!" he said with enough volume to capture their attention but not enough to make it sound like a shout. In any case, it worked. The boys went to the table and sat down.

"Good morning, Uncle Paul," his oldest nephew said. At fourteen, Danny was the senior and most responsible of the boys. The three other boys followed his example and Paul greeted them back.

"Boys, if you're not helping, you're probably in the way. Just sit down and you'll get your breakfast sooner." They resumed talking, but in a lower tone. Paul went over to his wife to see if she needed any help. She didn't, but she thanked him for dealing with the boys. Paul went and joined the boys at the table, feeling that he should lead by example. The smell of bacon and eggs was making him very hungry.

Looking around the table, he observed the boys. Alec, his oldest, was having an animated discussion with Danny while the younger two, his son Jefferson and nephew Keith, both twelve, carried on their own conversation. He couldn't fault the boys for their high spirits; his two nephews had arrived here in Orlando Friday afternoon, but since then it had rained almost non-stop, forcing them to cancel a planned Saturday trip to Universal Studios. It had been raining on Sunday too, and now the boys were looking at next weekend before they would be able to go to the park. Paul had taken them to the mall and a movie, but clearly the boys had been disappointed; especially Danny and Keith who had never been to the park. The weather was fine today, but of course, this was a work day and both Paul and his wife had to go to their offices. Still, Paul had been thinking; Mondays were usually slow for him. He'd have to go in and check, but if things looked light enough, he'd come back and surprise the boys with a trip to the amusement park. He didn't want raise any false hopes, though. If he got in and things were really busy, he wouldn't be able to leave.

"Dad, can we take Danny and Keith down to the park this morning?" Alec asked him. It was an innocent enough question, and usually Paul would have said yes right away, but if he was going to come back and take them to Universal, he didn't want to have to hunt them down. Better to keep them here.

"Tell you what, Alec," he said. "I'd prefer if you boys stuck around the house this morning. After lunch you can go, but not before, please."

"Aw, Daaad," Alec moaned.

"No moaning, Alec. Between your computer, Play Station and the TV, you have plenty here to keep you occupied. If you want to run around, we've got the entire back yard. There's two whole acres, so there's enough room for any game you want to play."

There was a bit more grumbling, but they seemed to accept his restrictions. Paul didn't know why Alec was so hip to go down to the park, anyway. He never went there on his own. Breakfast was served and everybody ate their full. When it was over, Paul instructed the boys to clean up and he and his wife went to leave. In the driveway, he told her his plan and she agreed it would be a good thing. She asked him to leave her a note if he took the boys so she would know what was up when she came home for lunch.

Paul drove off and made his way west on the Expressway, turning off on Orange Blossom Trail. He reached his office building and took the elevator to the fifth floor. He greeted his secretary and went to his desk. Looking at his calendar confirmed his suspicions. It was a light day; he'd have to reschedule one appointment, but it wasn't important. He told his partner what he was doing and headed back to his car.

Heading back on the expressway, he checked his watch. He was making good time; he'd be back home within an hour of leaving. Thinking about how happy the boys would be to hear his news, he smiled to himself. But when he actually got home, he could tell right away that something was wrong. It was just too quiet. Not that he expected them to be raising the roof, but a house with four boys in it just isn't silent. Unlocking the front door, he walked into the kitchen. The breakfast dishes hadn't even been cleared off the table. Now Paul started to get annoyed. The boys must have decided to go to the park after all. He'd have to go fetch them. As he got back into his car, he wondered if he should still take them to Universal after this. He did want to take them, but this wasn't the sort of behavior he liked to let slide. It was when he got to the park that his tension level started to rise. A quick glance was enough to tell him that the boys weren't there. Recognizing one of his neighbors pushing her baby in a stroller, he went over and asked if she had seen them. She said she hadn't and she'd been there for the last hour.

Now Paul started getting very concerned. He told himself that they were boys and that the four of them would be fine, but he was a parent and no parent can help worrying about their children. He drove slowly back to his house, looking around as he drove, but had no luck. For a moment, he considered calling his wife, but he was sure that they wouldn't have told her anything. She'd just get upset and then he'd have to deal with that as well. Better to sort this out on his own. Checking the garage, he saw that Alec and Jefferson's bikes were still there. He couldn't imagine that they had gone somewhere by car and reasoned that wherever they had sneaked off to, they had walked. Getting back into his car, he started driving slowly up and down the streets of the neighborhood. He put the windows down and the Florida heat combined with his tension to make him break out in a light sweat.

He almost missed them; he glanced down a side street and just managed to pick up four boys standing around on the edge of the road. They had taken off their shirts, but he'd seen the four sets of dark hair and gotten a clear look at Danny's face. There was something else too; from their body language and the way they were holding their hands, it was clear to him that they were smoking. Paul was relieved and angry at the same time.

The boys hadn't seen him and he'd already driven past, so he pulled over for a moment to let his nerves calm down. This was why Alec had wanted to go to the park; so they could sneak cigarettes. Paul wasn't happy to see his boys smoking, but he realized that it was something that every kid tried at least once. He knew that if you made a big deal out of forbidding something, it was a sure way to get your children to do it. He and his wife had both agreed that the best thing to do was lead by example; neither of them smoked and they hoped that the boys would be smart enough to do the same. But this sneaking off was another matter. Paul put the car back in drive and went around the block, coming up on the boys from behind.

Jefferson saw him first; his mouth dropped open and his cigarette fell from his fingers. Paul watched him as he poked Keith in the ribs, apparently unable to get any words out. Keith also dropped his cigarette and crushed it under his sneaker.

"Alec, Alec, it's your Dad!" Paul heard him say. Alec and Danny whipped their heads around, shock evident on both their faces. They also dropped their cigarettes, though they must have known he had seen them by then. He was nearly on top of them.

"Dad!" Alec said as Paul pulled up next to them, "What are you doing here?"

"Funny, I was going to ask the same thing. It seems we have a few things to talk about, so why don't you all just get in the car."

Very silently, the ashen-faced boys climbed into the car. Jefferson got in the front and the others in the back. Paul doubted that Jefferson wanted to be that close to him, but the others moved quicker. Alec started to stammer something out, but he put up his hand to stop him.

"Where are your shirts?" he asked.

"Um, right there by that tree Dad," Alec answered. "We were running around and got hot."

"Don't you think you should get them?"

Alec got back out of the car and ran to the tree to retrieve the boys' shirts. Danny was sitting on the seat behind Jefferson and now he leaned forward.

"Uncle Paul?" he said softly with his eyes downcast underneath his bowl-head haircut, "This is really my fault. It was my idea to smoke, so I'm the one you should be mad at."

"That's very noble of you to own up to it, Danny," Paul said and meant it, "But the smoking is actually the least of my concerns."

That obviously wasn't what he'd expected to hear. Paul saw him glance questioningly at Jefferson and then lean back as Alec re-entered the car.

"Boys," He said as he drove slowly back home, "I've just spent a rather tense half hour trying to find you. Did any of you not understand that I'd told you to stay home this morning?"

They all shook their head and so he continued.

"Well, then I'd like you to tell me honestly why you disobeyed me and exactly what you did."

There was a long pause and then Danny spoke up.

"Like I said, Uncle, it was kind of my fault. Last night we were talking about things, like what we'd never done before. Jefferson and Keith said that they'd never tried smoking and I asked them if they'd like to try...."

"And we didn't have anything planned for today," Alec said, continuing the narrative, "So we figured we could show them this morning. That's why I asked it we could go out to the park."

"We were afraid one of the neighbors would see us if we did it in the back yard or that Mom would smell it at lunch time," Jefferson admitted.

"We waited a few minutes after you left to make sure you were gone and then went down the road to the 7-11." Alec added.

"Why didn't you at least clean up breakfast?" Paul asked in an exasperated tone.

"We were going to do it when we got back," Jefferson mumbled. Paul rolled my eyes, but indicated that they should go on.

"So we got the cigarettes," Alec said, "And started walking back home."

"Wait. Back up. Who bought the cigarettes?" Paul asked.

"I did, Uncle," Danny admitted.

They was stopped at a stop sign and Paul turned around and looked him up and down.

"There's no way the clerk could have thought you were eighteen," he concluded. "Did he just not care?"

"It was a she. And no, she, um, looked at me real hard. I told them they were for my Dad."

"A lie," Paul said flatly. "Were the rest of you there?"

"We were outside," Alec said, "But we talked about it before."

"It was my idea that he should say that," Keith admitted, speaking up for the first time.

"So you were all party to the lie and are all equally as guilty as Danny, even if he was the one that actually told it. Go on, Alec, finish the story."

"Well, we got there by those trees and each smoked one. I said we should take our shirts off so they didn't smell like smoke. After that, we played around for a while. We were just starting to have a second one when...."

"When I so rudely interrupted you," Paul said with ill humor. "I'm sure you're wondering what I'm doing home. Well, things were slow in the office and so I was coming to take you all to Universal. But right now, I don't know what I'm going to do."

When they heard the reason he'd come back, they looked even more ashamed. In the rear view mirror, Paul could see Keith looking completely crestfallen. No doubt he thought he'd blown his only chance to go. They were nearly home and there were no further comments until they pulled up into the driveway.

"I didn't like it Dad!" Jefferson exclaimed. "I didn't even breathe the smoke in!"

"Are you trying to be funny?" Paul asked, kind of annoyed. Jefferson could try to use humor at the worst times, but this apparently wasn't one of them. It was clear to Paul that the boy had no idea that he was trying to pull a Clinton.

"Jefferson, whether or not you inhaled makes no difference to me. As I told Danny, the fact that you were smoking is the least of my worries. Now you four come inside."

The shamefaced and shirtless boys followed him into the living room and he sat them down in the couch facing me.

"Now boys," he said. "First, about the smoking. I think it's a dumb and childish habit, but one or two cigarettes wont kill you. I tried them when I was a boy, and I don't really care that you have also. I don't want you smoking in the house because I don't like the smell, but if you feel you must smoke, you have my permission to do it in the back yard. Just don't leave the butts around; that's another thing that annoys me."

None of them expected this, but Paul felt it was for the best. It took all the thrill out of it for them. But now on to the business at hand.

"Having said that, do any of you want to guess why I'm angry?"

"Because we went out when you told us not to?" Alec guessed.

"That's part of it. I had no idea where you boys were. I even checked the park since you asked about that earlier, but you weren't there. But that's not all of it."

"Because we didn't clean up breakfast?" Jefferson asked.

"That's also part of it. You could at least cleaned up before you went off sneaking around."

"Because we lied to get the cigarettes?" Danny wondered.

"Yes, that's the three things. I might have ignored one or perhaps even two of them, but I can't let all three go. I'm in a very difficult position here. I'd usually just ground Alec and Jefferson for three weeks, but with you two here that would just about kill your vacation. So I'll give you all a choice. Anyone who doesn't want to be grounded will have to receive a hard spanking instead. This offer is not subject to negotiation and you have five minutes to decide."

Paul got up and went into his study. None of the boys noticed that he had turned the room to room intercom on and as soon as he had shut the door behind him, he went to his desk and picked up the receiver. He was quite interested in what the boys would decide and how they would decide it. There was silence for a few moments and then he could hear Keith talking.

"Can your Dad hear us?" he was asking.

"Not with the door closed and not if we keep our voices down," Alec answered. Paul had to fight the urge to giggle. He reminded himself that this was a serious matter and kept listening.

"Does your Dad spank hard?" Keith wondered.

"Yes!" Jefferson told him, "We don't get spanked often, but if he gets mad enough to do it, it hurts like crazy."

"I don't want to be grounded for most of my vacation," Danny said, "Does he make you pull your pants down?"

"Sometimes," Alec said, "But with you two here, he probably wouldn't."

Alec was wrong about that, Paul thought. He wasn't having a good day for predicting what his Dad would do.

"What does he use?" Keith asked.

"A paddle," Jefferson answered, "He keeps it in the garage."

"Well, I think I'd rather just be spanked," Danny said. "Our Dad would have spanked us just for smoking anyway."

"Me too," Keith said, "But do you think we can get him not to tell Aunt Linda?"

"Probably," Jefferson replied, "And if you guys want him to spank you, I guess I'll get it, too. I want to be able to go places with you all."

"Come on, guys," Alec protested, "He won't really ground you all for three weeks. Mom won't let him. It'll probably be just for a week, and we weren't going anywhere 'til Saturday anyway."

"You know very well he means what he says about three weeks," Jefferson said, "You're just afraid of him spanking you."

There was a silence. Even through the intercom, Paul could feel the discomfort of the boys.

"I'm too old to be spanked," Alec finally said.

"No you're not!" Danny protested. "I'm four months older than you, and I still get spanked. And I'm gonna to get spanked now."

"Oh, let him wimp out if he wants," Jefferson said. "Dad will just ground him and we can go out together."

"All right, I'll tell Dad I want a spanking, too," Alec snapped. "But I still think you three are crazy. You must want him to blister your butt, Jefferson."

"Can it Alec! This is as much your fault as the rest of us. And I bet you'll cry more than me, too."

"I'm not going to cry," Alec said. "I'm a man, I can take it."

Paul shook his head. His oldest son wasn't getting anything right today.

"You're a boy, just like the rest of us," Danny said. "I know I'm probably going to cry; I don't care what you do."

Paul had heard enough. He put down the intercom and waited a minute. This really was the easiest thing, but since Danny and Keith weren't his sons, he'd not wanted to spank them without offering them a way out. Hopefully, this would minimize any resentment. He opened the door and went back into the living room. The four boys were sitting where he had left them,