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It was getting harder for Joyce to drag herself out of bed, even harder for her to leave Ed alone to brood in the house.
It had been seven months since the layoff. He had been so confident he'd find something else right away, but most of his leads had dried up, and the severance money was dwindling. He was becoming moody, edgy. And he brushed off any attempt by her to talk about their situation.
He didn't like her to tell him about her day either, as much as she needed to unload when she got home. He'd get quiet and wander off to whatever place in the house was the farthest from where she was.
It was eating him that she had to take a second job, she knew it. But what could they do?
No more days off for her. When she wasn't working her regular job at the hospital she was servicing home health care clients. It was basic stuff, any LPN could handle it. They were all elderly, forlorn and just marking off time. She'd check their vitals, and sit while they took their meals, which arrived at their door like she did. She'd have to change their diapers if they were incontinent, and clean them up when they had accidents.
It was all so depressing. She'd often find herself praying under her breath, "Don't let me get this old, please."
She was tired, but more than that, her spirit was tired. She was numb, spent, and she hated that. Anything—she wished for anything that would cut through the bleak gray clouds, the overcast of her life. She didn't care whether it made her laugh or cry, just so long as it would jumpstart her feelings, ease the anxiety and break the soul-deadening routine.
She was running late. She liked to be in the client's home when his meal-on-wheels arrived. Some of them were so feeble they couldn't answer the door.
Mr. Sheldon got around pretty well, but he had long lost the spark that gave his life purpose. His background sheet said he was a retired teacher, unmarried, 80 years old.
Joyce arrived at his flat just as the meal arrived, cocooned in plastic foam containers. Joyce took it from the deliverer and went inside. She had scolded Mr. Sheldon about leaving his door unlocked, but now, with her arms full, she was glad she didn't have to fish for a key.
He was sitting by his window facing out toward the street. He smiled at her entrance. He always smiled. He was a pleasant old gentleman who still had his wits about him and could carry on a conversation.
"Hi, Mr. Sheldon, how are we doing today?"
"Don't know how we are doing, dear lady. I'm about the same—no change."
She set up his tray and placed the containers and plastic utensils on it.
"How about you have your lunch and I'll do your BP later?"
"Fine with me. And how are things with you, Mrs. Lacey?"
She thought a moment. "Same with me, too."
"Your husband is still looking, I take it."
"Yeah." She sighed.
"It's hard, I suppose, these days. I was fortunate. I worked at three schools my whole life, the last for forty years. It was a girls' school, did I tell you?"
"Yes, you did, Mr. Sheldon."
"You know, I think my last class of students would be about your age, Mrs. Lacey. I'm guessing ... ah, but a gentleman shouldn't ask a lady's age."
Joyce had sat on the old sofa and was sorting out her stethoscope and blood pressure sleeve. She stood and brushed back a tendril of blonde hair from her forehead.
"I'm forty, Mr. Sheldon."
"You don't say. And stunning ... oh, to have known you when you were a school girl."
"I can't even remember back that far. Seems like I've been married forever, and a mother for almost as long. Trying to keep my daughter in college, but if things get any tighter ..."
Mr. Sheldon nodded gravely, like an old granddad, not really understanding, but showing concern nonetheless.
"I hope, Mrs. Lacey, that is ... I hope I wasn't being forward ..."
Joyce shook off her funk and smiled. "Now, Mr. Sheldon, I don't get flirted with much anymore."
"Isn't that a shame."
He sighed, and pushed around some green muck on his plastic plate with his plastic fork.
"I miss teaching. I miss ... the company of young women. Their minds were so vibrant, unfettered ... right at the cusp of girlhood and womanhood, and still free of the encumbrances that come with maturity."
He let the fork slip through his fingers and looked out the window. "It's hard to mark so much useless time, knowing I have no one to ... teach ... to share."
In that moment Joyce felt useless. She had been feeling sorry for herself, but old Mr. Sheldon's lament made her realize there were degrees of desperation and loneliness. She wished she could say something, tell him things would get better. How could she, when she was having a hard time believing it about her own life?
She had to clear the thickness from her throat before she could speak.
"Mr. Sheldon? Your chart says you're supposed to be taking two kinds of blood pressure meds. I can only find one."
"I'm sorry ... what, dear? Oh, yes. The little salmon-colored pills. I'm not sure ...I think they might be in the top drawer of my dresser."
As she headed for the bedroom she looked back over her shoulder. He had pushed the tray away. The food mostly untouched.
It was a bachelor's bedroom. Sparse, with books piled against one wall. The bed was made haphazardly.
She stepped over to the cherry wood dresser and opened the top drawer. It was a treasure chest of junk and mementoes. Match boxes from restaurants that probably didn't exist anymore, postcards with postage far out of date. Her hand went swimming through it all until her fingernail struck a plastic pill bottle. She read the label. It was his meds, and they needed to be refilled soon.
She started to close the drawer when her eye was caught by a packet held together with multi-colored elastics. She let her curiosity override her respect for her client's privacy and lifted the packet from the drawer and turned it over in her hands. It was a block of photographs.
She started to replace it, but her fingers seemed to have a mind of their own and began tugging at the rubber bands. The photos nearly spilled like a deck of cards and she scooped them together with both hands.
The photos were a mix of faded black and white, and faded color. Mr. Sheldon was the central subject in each, surrounded by smiling young women. Joyce guessed they had been his students.
She thumbed through them slowly, marveling at how clothing and hairstyles changed with each passing class. But the young women's faces seemed to her interchangeable through the years. They had to be senior class girls, Joyce guessed, in their late teens. Right on the cusp, as Mr. Sheldon said.
Other photos, however, were of women obviously older, in their twenties, some even in their thirties, Joyce guessed. The poses were the same, though, a loving, smiling bevy of females surrounding a mild-faced gentleman with wispy gray hair. They must have been his former students returned for a reunion or a visit. At once, Joyce wondered if she could match the faces in the older photos with those in the more recent photos.
Gosh, Mr. Sheldon would be wondering what was taking her so long. But she couldn't resist. She began to thumb through the pack, and as her curiosity piqued she thumbed them faster. An image blurred by that startled Joyce.
No, she couldn't have seen that—could she? She was about to dismiss it, but then she thumbed back and—there it was. Joyce held her breath—could she really be seeing this?
It was one of the reunion photos with the familiar poses. But in this one a young woman was bent over Mr. Sheldon's lap, and his hand was poised to spank her bare bottom.
Joyce stared at the photo a moment, her thoughts a jumble. The other women were smiling; even the one bent over his lap was looking at the camera, a grin across her face.
Joyce's cheeks burned. She thumbed through more of the photos, and another photo, a different class, and another woman, bent over Mr. Sheldon's lap. This one was kicking her legs, her panties stretched between her ankles. But she looked like she was having the time of her life.
"The old perv," Joyce whispered in a shuddered breath.
There were other photos mixed within the larger group, each with a bare-bottomed lady awaiting her punishment from Mr. Sheldon.
Did he spank them when they were in school? She wondered. But then, if he did, they seemed to love him, and came back to—what—relive his ... attentions? The grins and smiles were genuine and warm, Joyce thought.
"They really did love him," she whispered. A smile crossed her face. "You randy old codger."
"Mrs. Lacey?" he called from the parlor.
"Yes—coming. It took me a while to find them."
She detoured through the kitchenette and returned with the pills and a glass of water. Mr. Sheldon winced as he swallowed the meds. Then Joyce took his blood pressure reading.
"Will I live another day?" he asked mournfully.
"Yup, afraid so."
He looked out his window, still with his slight smile, but with such a forlorn expression.
Joyce put away her equipment then turned toward the old man. An idea was buzzing in her head—an outlandish idea, an idea she had better stamp down with both feet right now, an idea that was sending the blood right to her cheeks.
Her head down, she held her hands together, fingers fidgeting, twisting. She turned one foot slightly inward, almost touching the other.
"Yes?" He continued to stare out the window.
"I—I need to tell you something—it's kind of embarrassing."
Now the old man looked up at her.
Joyce clasped her hands behind her back, her nervous fingers still tangling with each other, her right foot turning back and forth in a metronomic rhythm on the ball of her foot. She did not take her eyes off the floor.
"What ... what is it, dear?"
"I shouldn't have ... I know. I'm very, very sorry."
"What—what is it?"
"I—looked through your things. I know I shouldn't have, I could get into bad trouble. I didn't mean to—I guess I was just being a nosy girl. Please—you won't tell anyone, will you? I'll never do it again, I promise. I feel like such a bad, bad, bad girl."
She dared arch one brow to sneak a look at him. Was he catching on?
His face was one of utter puzzlement, but then his eyes narrowed, and the kindly smile took a roguish turn.
"Ah—I see. Well, yes, that was a very—naughty thing to do."
"I know," she pushed her lower lip out in an exaggerated pout.
"I should report you to your supervisor."
"Oh, please-please-please. I'm sorry, Mr. Sheldon. I'll never do it again."
"Well, all right. But I just can't let this pass without correction."
"But—I said I was sorry."
"It is good that you are sorry, but you have to learn that when you do a naughty deed it must have consequences."
"What—what are you going to do?"
"I think you already know what your punishment should be."
"You're going to spank me? Oh, please, Mr. Sheldon, I'll be good, I'll be such a good girl from now on."
"Young lady, this is for your moral improvement. Now come here—at once!"
"But—but—but ..." Joyce hesitated, continuing to fidget her hands. Now she rubbed her thighs together.
"Young lady, don't make me tell you again. Step over here this instant."
"Yes—yes sir," she whimpered
Joyce stepped closer, her hands trembled.
"Now, lift your skirt."
Joyce gathered the hem of her skirt in her hands and lifted it over her hips. A buzzy little voice inside her head said, "I can't believe I'm doing this."
She felt giddy, lightheaded, a tickle deep in her tummy. She placed a thumb underneath the waistband of her coral-colored panties and prepared to tug them down.
"I'll do that," Mr. Sheldon ordered. "Now, you get yourself over my knee, and no hesitation or it will go badly for you. Do you understand, young lady?"
Joyce lowered herself onto Mr. Sheldon's lap gingerly, afraid her weight could harm his frail legs.
"I want your hands touching the floor."
Joyce let her belly settle onto his lap. It was a remarkably sturdy platform, she thought, before she considered her situation. She was bent over an old man's lap, her skirt pushed up as he prepared to spank her—her, a grown woman, a grown married woman, a mother.
Then his hands tugged her panties off firmly, without hesitation or ceremony. Her behind was exposed to this old codger. Her eyes widened as she realized she was getting wet.
"Such a pretty derriere," he remarked. "It's almost a shame to turn its pretty pale complexion bright red."
"Oh, Mr. Sheldon," Joyce pleaded. "You're not really going to spank me, are you?"
A hand landed firmly across one cheek. It didn't really hurt, but its impact startled her. God, he really whacked her.
"That was for asking a silly question."
Joyce squirmed in his lap.
"Be still!" Another thwack jiggled her ass. That one stung.
"Now, young lady, you need to respect others' privacy. 'I was just being nosy' is not an excuse."
"I—I know ..."
Three more thwacks in rapid succession. Joyce couldn't help it, she began to kick. Her ass tingled warmly where his hand made contact. There was excitement, but just a slight strain of fear now. Joyce found herself regressing into the mindset of a young adolescent.
"Please ... Mr. Sheldon ... no more, I'll be good ... I'll be so good."
"Yes—yes you will."
Another series of thwacks jiggled her burning ass. Tears sprung from her eyes. The adult Joyce stood back inside her mind and watched herself, amazed. He actually made her cry.
Joyce sobbed pitifully and tried to reach up to sooth her stinging cheeks. Her legs bent at the knees. She felt Mr. Sheldon reach for her panties and take them off her ankles. Then he eased her off his lap. She stood on shaky legs, still whimpering.
"Now, dear," Mr. Sheldon said, his voice soothing, fatherly. "I want you to understand, that this was done for your own good. Bad acts require consequences. Do you understand?"
Joyce snuffled. "Yes, sir."
"Good, now go wash your face, and arrange yourself."
"Yes, sir." She reached for her panties, but he stuffed them in the drawer of an end table."
"Proper young ladies do not wear luridly colored under things. I will keep these, and you will wear white, cotton under things from now on."
Joyce turned and made her way to the bathroom. Her behind was still giving off heat.
She stood in front of the mirror and ran the water into the sink, catching some in her palms and splashing her face. She dabbed herself with a face cloth. Then she looked directly into the mirror.
"My God, Joyce—what did you just do?" But even as she asked the question a grin spread across her face. Electrical energy was coursing through her body. She felt like her head had been cleared of all the gloom and cobwebs that darkened her life.
She emerged from the bathroom and returned to the parlor. Mr. Sheldon sat in his usual seat, looking out the window at the world. But his shoulders were straighter, and his jaw jutted out with an air of satisfaction. His sad smile was replaced with one of quiet joy.
He turned, his eyes bright, but his brow furrowed. "Mrs. Lacey, I ... that is, will you be returning?"
Joyce smiled. "Thursday."
"I'll look forward to it."
"So will I. Goodbye, Mr. Sheldon."
"Goodbye, dear—be a good girl."
Joyce chuckled and nodded.
"Oh, and Mrs. Lacey?"
"Thank you, Mr. Sheldon."
* * *
She savored every bite, the whipped cream and gooey marshmallow sauce, all the while squirming to get comfortable as the burning sensation in her asscheeks gradually subsided. The realization that she was without panties made her feel wonderfully wicked.
She left the ice cream shop and drove the fifteen minutes it took to her driveway.
As she entered the house she noted how dark it was. The shades were all drawn. She systematically raised each, then trotted upstairs. She pushed open the door to the bedroom.
Ed was sitting up, his back propped up by pillows, papers spread over his lap. He was snoring, still in his pajamas.
"Huh! Oh, you're home."
"Didn't you even get dressed today?"
"No reason to. No appointments, I'm just waiting to hear from those places I interviewed at last week. They're taking their time. Christ, they'll probably never ..."
"I know you're trying ... I really do. But, I've been thinking."
"Yeah ... what?"
"I'm the primary breadwinner in this family now."
"You're ... what?"
"Yeah, and I think that gives me some privileges."
"What are you talking about?"
"I mean, I'm out working all day, seven days. I don't like coming home to a dark house. And another thing ..."
"When I want sex, I better get it."
"Sex? Joyce, what ... honey, what's going on?"
"I'm horny, Ed. I'm tired, but I'm horny, and I'm not letting you slide because you're all mopey."
"Mopey? Jesus, Joyce."
"Get those stupid pajamas off!"
"Oh, for crying out loud."
Joyce climbed onto the bed and grasped the bottoms of Ed's pajamas. She dragged them down his legs and his cock sprung up like jack in the box.
"That's good, but you better get it a lot harder. C'mon, wake up," she ordered grasping Ed's cock and giving it a shake. "Get that top off—now!"
Ed complied, then watched wide-eyed as his wife in a flurry of movement tore off her clothes and tossed them carelessly about the room. She stood for a moment and pulled her earrings off, turning to place them on the dresser.
"Joyce! What—what happened to your behind?"
"Oh," she said with an indifferent shrug. "One of my clients spanked me today."
"Shush! Now lie back—and don't you dare come before me."
She straddled him, easing herself onto his cock. "Ohhh, yes!"
Then she began to bounce as Ed's eyes went wide again.
"Yeah, oh God. That's so good. You're so hard. Yes-yes-yes-yes. Oh, fuck ... fuck-fuck-fuck ..."
"Don't! I don't care if your eyes pop out."
She bounced, twisted, swiveled her hips, bit her lip, then grasped Ed's hands and placed them on her tits. "Squeeze! Come on, stud—my fuck-boy!"
"Shush! God, I'm almost there ... Jesus, Oh Christ!"
"Joycie—Joycie, oh, God ..."
"Oh! Jesus! ... yesssss!"
"Yeah, baby ... c'mon ..."
Ed's cock twitched then spasmed inside her, splashing her canal.
"All of it, baby ... give me all of it ... yes, all mine."
All the tension in Joyce's body fled her like a ghost. She collapsed on top of Ed, letting herself melt into him.
"Oh, geeze ..." she moaned. "I needed that."
They lay quietly for a moment. Ed lifted a fall of hair away from Joyce's eyes. Her smile was sweet, satisfied, beatific.
"Oh, Eddie. Let's go out tonight."
"Huh? But, we're trying to scrimp ..."
"I know ... just for a pizza or something. Right before it gets dark ... It's so nice out. We can walk through the park to Ruggierio's, and then we can order a big cheese pizza and eat it there. Please."
"Yeah—yeah, that'd be nice. Joyce, are you okay?"
They lay quietly another moment. Ed held her tighter in his arms.
"Everything's going to be okay."
"Yeah, sweetheart. Everything's going to be okay."
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