The Woman of the Well

Reaching the miserably magical age of thirteen provided little comfort for James. The ostensibly prestigious new label of ‘teenager’ was an awkward fit of little compensation. New pleasures learned only through agonizing experimentation promised him, and every other thirteen-year-old, nothing but an endless series of bittersweet discoveries in which each ripened berry could only be plucked from a tangle of thorns. It was a familiar journey traversed by every human being who reached the age. No one had to volunteer. Puberty thrusts itself upon a person whether they want the adventure or not, and even if the countless people who had already survived the trek wrote out a map annotated with volumes of advice and support, it would not matter to those going through it. Each person simply had to make the trip for themselves. And for James the notion of life’s great pleasures being tangled up in pain was doubly ironic because, young as he was, James already knew that for him one of life’s greatest pleasures WAS pain....a very specific and controlled pain……… and that very few others felt the same. 

Even before ever experimenting with masturbation, James had already discovered the thrill of a sore behind, having secretly spanked himself whenever privacy and the urge comingled. His mother would have been shocked to know how often her son’s bottom suffered through punishment she herself had never seriously considered inflicting. Perhaps had she known, she might have chosen to immediately correct behavior over her knee rather than through time-outs, groundings, and revoked privileges…………and had she done so, she might have quelled the curiosity that consumed her boy so utterly. Perhaps being paddled in earnest by his mother would have taken the thrill out of spanking. But since that did not happen, James continued to punish himself all the while hoping to one day find someone who would. He did not know why he wanted it, or needed it. He just knew he did.

The summer of 1975 found James adapting to a new parent: a stepfather, George. James’ mother had married George in February and was eager to see the two bond. It was not a perfect fit, but George was not a bad guy and very willing to make a go of it. In many ways he was as confused by James as James was by him. When school ended James’ mother thought that an outing “with the guys” ( the guys being James, George, and George’s brother Frank ) would be the perfect opportunity. The plan was to do some trout fishing in Johnston’s Brook which encircled Johnston State Park. It would be a long weekend of camping, fishing, hiking, and hopefully some male bonding. James was less than thrilled but went anyway.

The first day out was nothing short of disastrous. James snagged his line on practically each cast and then, on trying to salvage his last fly, he slipped on the rocks and fell backward into the stream, his waders quickly filling with cold water. The two men had patiently spent most of their day untangling the boy’s lines and coaching him as best as they could, but when he fell in there wasn’t much to do except head back to camp so he could dry out. When the next morning came, James asked if it would be OK if he just stayed behind and explore the area rather than fish. For the two fishermen the request sounded reasonable if not outright merciful for all concerned and they agreed. The campground was very secure and family-oriented, the trails were well-established, and the entire area constantly patrolled. George also knew that James was no trouble-maker and even thought the time alone and the opportunity to explore independently could actually be beneficial. So after an outdoor breakfast, the brothers were off to the stream and James had the day to himself. 

Looking at a map of the campground, James noticed there was a public restroom equipped with showers near a lake where campers could swim. Not entirely enamored of a Mountain Man’s scruffy existence, the possibility of a shower promised a welcome glimmer of civilization and after packing up soap and a towel, he headed to the rest area. The place was surprisingly busy. Campers seeking sunshine and a chance to cool off with a swim lined the shoreline while dozens of younger kids chased each other around the picnic tables. It seemed that a lot of local people also came by car to relax and to take advantage of the lake without staying to camp. James surveyed the situation and then decided to head into the showers to scour off the residue of the outdoors.

The showers were semi-private, mostly open. Inside men and boys milled about, washing, drying, dressing, and undressing. James relaxed and refreshed himself in the warm spray. As he showered he heard a group of what had to be local boys talking to some kids who were camping. Their conversation was of little interest to him until he overheard one say something about “whipping their butts”. Suddenly James became very curious and listened intently to the discussion. It seemed there was some local legend of a switch-wielding ‘Woman of the Well’. According to the locals, the ‘Woman’ was really old but never appeared aged because her well water held “fountain of youth” properties. So sometimes she’d appear as a young woman and then she’d appear as a girl, and then age to a young woman again. Many years ago she used to live in a house near one of the trails, but the house was now all boarded up. If anyone ever tried to drink the water from her well, she’d appear out of nowhere and whip the behind of whomever she caught. James heard one of the campers laughing and accusing the local kid of making it all up, but the boy swore it was true and even said that it wasn’t that long ago that some hikers saw a woman in a shawl taking a switch to some poor bugger’s bottom. They even reported it to the Rangers later on. The kid then said that if they didn’t believe him they should head down the trail from the East campground towards the small pond and to keep going past it. “The house is there and so is the well, and if you don’t believe in the Woman of the Well, just go and try to take a drink from it……but don’t blame me if you get the whipping of a lifetime.”

The whipping of a lifetime? Suddenly James was overcome with the desire to find that well to see if the Woman of the Well existed. Not that he believed in magical well water, but instead felt that since every legend has to have some grain of truth to it maybe if he was lucky, he might have the kind of adventure he would uniquely appreciate more than anyone else. He finished his shower, dried, dressed, and using his map, looked for the Eastern trail and the pond figuring it was the sure way to the well and his adventure.

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The walk took longer than he expected, but after coming up a short rise in the trail he saw a small pond fed by a trickly stream. A bridge connected the trail to the other side and on that bridge stood a gentleman fishing. The two exchanged a polite greeting but as James continued up the trail the fisherman called out to him saying he shouldn’t be going much further. “That’s private property once you round that stretch of trees. The Park technically ends at this bridge.” James explained that he was looking for a house with a well and the fisherman laughed hard. “You lookin’ for the fountain of youth, kid?” 

“Actually, no sir. I don’t think there’s a fountain of youth, but I did hear of a well and a woman who kind of guards it.” James replied.

“And have you heard what happens to boys who get caught by the Woman of the Well?”

“I have,” James admitted, but realizing that he could never honestly explain why he wanted to find the mysterious woman, he decided to amend his story to one that might be more understandable to the gentleman and quickly made one up. “But you see, sir, I made a bet with a friend of mine that I’d find the well and see if there was such a woman. My friend thinks I’m a chicken…..but I’m not. I’m not afraid of some old Well Woman and I’m certainly not afraid of a whippin’ even if she does catch me.”

“I see,” The fisherman replied with a nod. “You’re out to prove yourself huh?”

“Yes, sir,” James nodded. 

The fisherman smiled and figured on having some fun at the boy’s expense. “OK then, son. I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do. If you head around that bend, you’ll see a big house up on a hill. You head towards it and when you get close you’ll see a well in front of the porch. Now the house is all boarded-up, so you won’t be seeing the Woman right away. You’re going to have to trick her to come out. She sure does love to whip butt. Can’t resist the chance. So what you do is, you take off your clothes……now, don’t worry about anyone seeing you because no one comes around here………… I fish here and I know. So like I said, you take off your clothes and then put them somewhere out of sight, and then bend yourself over the edge of the well. Stick your butt right out there for her like bait….and then just wait. She’ll never be able to resist the temptation to come out with her switch. When you hear her footsteps though, you better run and grab your clothes from where you hid them and take off.....otherwise you’ll be one sorry sonuvagun.”

James frowned suspiciously trying to decide whether the fisherman was serious or not, but being a bit desperate for the chance at getting a real switching, he decided he didn’t have anything to lose. The fisherman seemed right about there being no one around, and he kind of found the idea of being naked out in the open a bit exciting in and of itself, so he decided to give it a try. James looked at the man skeptically but thanked him for his help and started up the path. As he rounded the turn the fisherman snickered and walked over to his truck, he started it up and pulled away to get some lunch, but as he did he turned his CB radio to the channel used by the Park Rangers. “Breaker-Breaker, this is the ol’ Bass-man. Veronica dear....you out there?”

A minute later a scratchy reply came over the radio. “This is Veronica, you fishing fool. Whatcha got for me today? Some camper pee in your favorite spot?”

“No, no, Veronica honey. I think somebody might be trying to break into the old Warwick house. You might want to swing by there and check it out.” He lied thinking about the naked surprise she was in for when she pulled up.

“OK, will do, Thanks Bass-man. Veronica out.”

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The sun lit the abandoned house harshly. Everything contrasted in white glare or blue shadow. A mix of dry, sandy dirt and rocks populated with random patches of every type of weed and wildflower imaginable surrounded the old well which, surprisingly, was as boarded up as the house. No one could sneak water from it if they tried. Suddenly a bit nervous and hesitant, James gave a long panoramic search of the vicinity but just as the fisherman said, not a soul could be seen or heard. The only sounds came from birds and cicadas. As he stepped across the dry ground, a huge grasshopper, as pale brown as the ground it had rested on, broke into noisy fluttering flight startling him. Eventually after walking around what once was the yard, James felt pretty sure he was alone. Next to the house sat a weathered barrel splotched with green moss. An old canvas tarp tied around the top made for an ideal spot to put his clothes. It was out of immediate view, but if he did need to run off, they’d be at chest height and easy to snatch on the go. Not that he’d run off should the Well Woman appear. For her he’d wait in place and accept his fate, but looking around, James began to think that no Well Woman was likely to show and if anything he might need to grab his clothes in the more probable event of the appearance of another curious hiker like himself. The adventure of the Well Woman and her menacing switch was quickly fading into an unlikely wish, too good to be true. But to be sure, he’d follow the fisherman’s advice and if nothing else at least get a kind of streaker’s rush from the bold exhibitionism of public, outdoor nudity. 

With a deep breath, he boldly and very quickly stripped off his clothes until he was standing in just his underwear. Everything else he neatly piled on the canvas. James paused nervously for a moment and looked around one more time before yanking down his briefs and placing them on the barrel as well. He then walked gingerly towards the well feeling very brazen in his nakedness and bent himself over the stone wall with his elbows resting on the planks that now obscured the shaft. At first he felt very pleased with his daring, but after a few minutes of waiting the rush subsided and James began to feel a bit silly, disappointed, and ashamed at his own desperation. The likelihood of a well guardian popping out to switch his behind seemed very low. The question now was how long he would be willing to wait like this. Another 5 minutes? An hour? Perhaps he should just go now.

The sun felt warm on his exposed skin and feeling the passing of a breeze on places never before open to such a sensation calmed him enough to enjoy the hedonistic pleasure of being in the midst of nature in his own natural state. He decided to wait for 15 minutes at the very least. After 15 minutes he’d decide whether to continue or give up, but he felt such an adventure warranted at least a 15 minute wait. In the distance he could hear truck tires on gravel and reasoned that the fisherman he had been speaking with had called it a day, not realizing that the fisherman had long since left his spot. The tire sounds grew louder rather than fainter and James began to panic. Looking towards the side of the house where his clothes were, he realized that the trail he took to the house was not the only way in to the property. Now someone was driving up from the other direction and to get his clothes, he’d have to run right towards them. Rather than risk being seen, he ducked behind the well in a crouch. Sure enough, a vehicle soon drove into the yard and stopped. James hid low and waited, hoping the person would soon leave, dreading that perhaps it was a family of campers looking for a place to stop for lunch.

Veronica pulled onto the Warwick property and looked around before getting out of her truck. There didn’t seem to be anyone around and she began to think her buddy the Bass-man was playing another of his usual jokes. The front door looked secure, and no one could get past the boarded windows. She stretched her back and decided to give a once-around before heading back, already planning her revenge on the practical joker. But as she walked around the well, James struggled to stay opposite her. He probably would have been fine if it weren’t for the poor condition of the planks around the base, because even as he carefully crawled about, the old wood creaked and Veronica knew she wasn’t alone.

“OK, who’s there? Come on out. Park Ranger,” Veronica announced in her most official tone. James looked over at the truck and saw it was indeed a Ranger’s 4x4 and began to panic. ‘How would he explain this?’ Though barefoot and vulnerable to the rough terrain, he decided to make a run for it. He’d head right for the barrel with his clothes and then, at least armed with his boots, he’d make for the woods where he’d try to get away. “Let’s go,” she repeated and that was enough to prompt his attempted escape. Suddenly Veronica stared in partial disbelief as she watched a naked body dart towards her car. At first she figured she had interrupted a pair of adventurous campers in the middle of some under-the-sun loving. It had happened before. But as she ran after her quarry she realized that there was no one with him…..and that he was just a kid. “Hey you! Stop! What are you doing here?”

James made it to the barrel but froze in horror when he discovered the old rope holding the canvas had given way from age. The weight of his camping boots and clothes had pulled the weathered cloth down inside where the whole pile of old cloth, clothes, and frayed rope now lay in about a foot of rainwater at the bottom of the barrel just out of his reach. Even if he ran off at this point, he’d never get away barefoot and naked, and so he just slumped in defeat covering himself with his hands as the Ranger approached.

“I asked you what you were doing here?” Veronica repeated more curious than stern. “I thought you streakers usually made your runs in public places.”

“It’s a long story.”

The ranger laughed. “I’ll bet. And let me tell you in this job I’ve heard them all. Where are your clothes?”

James pointed to the barrel and Veronica looked inside. “Uh huh. OK let’s fish them out and hang ‘em out to dry. I got a blanket in the car you can cover up with while we have ourselves a little talk.”

Huddled in a scratchy blanket, James watched as the ranger wrung out his clothes and laid then on the porch rail to dry in the sun. She then ordered him into the truck and once they were both seated she turned to him. “What’s your name?”

“James, Ma’am.”

“OK, James, you want to tell me what this is all about? And don’t lie. If you lie to me it’ll be a lot worse.”

James explained how he had heard about the Woman of the Well, and wanted to see if it was true and how the fisherman had told him to set himself out as bait. Veronica listened to it all. “So you believe in magic well water and mysterious ageless women who guard it?”

“No,” James admitted, “but I do know a lot of local legends are based somewhat in fact. I mean look. There is an old house, and it does have a well. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was once some lady that used to whip kids for trespassing or whatever.”

“You’re not too far off, kid,” Veronica smiled, “but the real story is a lot more interesting than just that. Suppose I tell you all about the Woman of the Well while we wait for your clothes to dry?”

“Sure,” James replied.

“OK, here goes: The story of the Woman of the Well. Back in the day this house used to belong to the Warwick family. Mrs. Warwick was about 30 at that time, with long straight black hair and blue eyes. In most ways she was just like any other woman or mother of her time and was fairly proud of the reputation her well water had for being some of the clearest, coldest, freshest water a body could drink. On a hot day, kids would play all around her place and then go to the well for a drink. She never minded until one day one child got too enthusiastic about the well water and somehow managed to flop over the side. There was naturally a huge commotion and all sorts of people had to be called in. The good news was that the kid didn’t drown but he did break his arm and there was all sorts of legal trouble for Mrs. Warwick. Eventually it all got sorted out, but she decided she could no longer let kids run around here and drink from the well. It was just too risky. So the well became “off-limits” and if she ever did catch anyone trying to sneak a drink she’d come at them with a switch and teach them a painful lesson. Now you got to realize that back then no kid would dare complain to their mom or dad that they got a whippin’ from Mrs. Warwick because they’d only end up getting another one from them for sure. Any kid who snuck a drink knew they did so at their own risk and if caught they took their licks as the price for messing with the Woman of the Well. 

“Now, unfortunately for Mrs. Warwick, one day, several years later, while hanging out wet laundry from that porch over there, she leaned over the rail and it gave way. She broke her leg pretty badly in the fall and was confined to crutches for a few months. When the local kids realized she no longer posed a threat, they began to come to the well boldly and without fear. Worried that another kid would fall in the well or get hurt playing around it, she told her daughter to start chasing the kids away in her place. The girl had the same dark hair as her mom and looked very much like a younger version of her and pretty soon the kids had a new, younger, faster Woman of the Well to deal with. She’d chase them away and whip the butt of any she caught. Eventually though Mrs. Warwick did get back on her feet and back to defending her well.....only now aided at times by her daughter. Anyone coming into this yard back then ran the double risk of encountering a Woman of the Well in her 40’s or one who wasn’t even 15.”

“So that’s how the story started about the water being a fountain of youth?” James nodded with a smile. “It makes a kind of odd sense.”

“Uh huh.” Veronica nodded in response.

“What happened after that?” James asked.

“Well eventually Mrs. Warwick moved to a smaller place in town, and her daughter went on to become a Park Ranger,” Veronica chuckled.

“You? You’re the daughter?” James asked in awe. “I should have figured what with your black hair and blue eyes.”

“Yes. Afraid so,” Veronica admitted.

“Wow, so what was it like to be the Woman of the Well?”

“To be perfectly honest, it was actually a lot of fun even though I did take the role very seriously. My mother always wore a light lacey cream shawl, especially as she got older. Whenever I was the Woman of the Well, I would put on her shawl. It became my Woman of the Well costume. It was a lot of fun to mess with the kids’ heads like that.” 

“Did you get to whip a lot of kids?” James asked.

“Not really. Some, not a lot. If I saw or heard someone out here I would just run out in the shawl and yell out for whoever was there to stay right where they were and get their whippin’ and most would just run off as fast as they could.”

“Most?” 

Veronica eyed James suspiciously and nodded, then continued slowly, “Uh huh, most……but some just froze in their tracks and waited for me like a deer in the headlights. Those I led to the well and bent them over just like my mother did. They’re the ones that went home with a striped bottom.”

“So they just went along with it all?” James wondered.

“Those that stayed were very contrite and surprisingly cooperative. They’d actually wait bent over the well wall while I cut a switch to use on them. They could have easily run off at that point..... but they didn’t.” Veronica recalled her past with a faraway look and continued, “I never thought much about that when my mother used to catch them. I guess since she was my mother and I was used to obeying her, it didn’t surprise me when they did too. But when it was me telling them to bend over, it sort of surprised me that they listened. Some of the boys were about my age, and when I told them to pull down their pants and bend over, I was amazed that they did.”

“But they did?”

Veronica laughed again, “Oh yes they did! And did they pay a price!”

“Was it just boys you whipped?” James inquired.

“Mostly. But there were a few girls who got to feel my switch. It’s funny, the boys who stayed seemed to do so out of fear or some sense of honor, but the girls who stayed seemed ………curious. I do remember one girl in particular. Strange.”

Tell me,” James prompted. 

Veronica leaned back in her chair with a smile of the recollection, “Now the first time I became the Woman of the Well, I was 14, and it was probably that same year that I heard a lot of giggling out in the yard. It was a particularly hot week in the summer and I looked out and saw a bunch of kids, guys and girls, all probably seniors who just graduated from high school, fooling around by the well. Naturally I did my best to chase them off, and they did run away but they acted more like it was a game and they were just pretending to be scared. I could tell they were leaving but making fun of me at the same time, but I guess that made sense, they were all older and bigger than me and they sure didn’t believe I was some supernatural being. But later that same day, just before sunset, I saw one of the same girls over by the well having a drink. She had on these really short shorts and sandals with a loose, button-down top knotted in front to pull it tight while showing off her stomach. She looked like some Amazon version of Maryann from Giligan’s Island. Anyway, I came out in my shawl and went over to her but I didn’t yell or try to scare her. It seemed silly to try. She was about a foot taller than me, probably 17 or 18 years old, and she just stayed there without running. I recognized her from the high school basketball games as the school’s varsity center, 6’2” and very mature in appearance but I’m sure she didn’t know me. I thought for sure she was going to try to dare me to chase her away, but instead she said in a deep but polite voice, ‘Are you the Woman of the Well?’ I nodded and she said, ‘I guess you caught me, huh?’ I said that I remembered her from before and she admitted she was with that group. She said it was probably really bad of her to get away one time and then have the nerve to come back again. She moved in a very slow and deliberate way like she was in a dream or trance. Very weird. 

“Before I could say anything to her, she undid her top and tight denim shorts and pulled them down to her ankles and kicked them aside with her sandals……………….. panties too. And then she just stood there looking down at me. Naked she looked more like 23 than 18, statuesque, lean, athletic. Her breasts weren’t huge but full, but even still, they dwarfed mine, and let’s just say that ‘down below’ she was very mature as well. She reminded me of a thoroughbred racehorse, large but sleek and powerful....it was very intimidating. She easily could have broken me in two. She said nothing but just stood facing me, her magnificent naked body squaring off against my immature, pubescent self dressed in rolled-up jeans and a T-shirt....with my hair in a ponytail…a truly mismatched pair. She seemed neither proud nor shy about being naked. With me clothed and her like that, you’d think I’d feel in control, but she was so confident, so self-assured even in front of a ....kid....because that’s all I was back then....that I felt like she was the one in control. And then she just turned and bent over the well. I remember her bottom seeming huge to me..... but feminine and shapely while still muscular and tight....not a kid’s bottom at all. I ran off to get an appropriately thick and supple switch still thinking she was toying with me and that she’d be gone by the time I returned, but as I made my way back I saw her still there, bent like before, waiting. Seeing her so willing sort of made me bold and I said, ‘since you admit to coming here twice, I’m going to give you double the punishment.’ And she turned to me and looked me in the eye like I was doing her the biggest favor.

“I switched her as hard as anyone I ever whipped but she never yelled out. She gasped at the first stroke but then just made short little grunts each time my switch landed. That annoyed me a bit. I was used to having kids yelp and whine and beg for mercy and here was this …woman….. accepting her fate so calmly. So I really laid into that perfect bottom of hers wanting to mark up its perfection. I knew she had to be feeling something because every lash produced a spectacular welt, but she took the full double dose without complaint, although her grunts did sound a bit more desperate at the end. When I finished I felt I had failed in really punishing her but when she stood up I was surprised to see her face was red, her nose and eyes all wet and runny. She sniffled and wiped her face with her hands and said ‘sorry for stealing your water, Miss, it won’t happen again.’ And when she dressed I caught her scrunching her face when she had to wriggle into her shorts since they were so tight and her bottom was so welted, and I smiled. She saw me smile too and blushed hard. Her whole proud posture had now changed and I knew I hadn’t failed at all. I got through to her. Little me had broken the stallion. And then she left and I never saw her again. It was all very weird but I remember thinking that when I was Woman of the Well, my age really didn’t matter. Armed with my switch, I really was an ageless force to be reckoned with. It was a very powerful feeling for a kid of 14.”

“Did anyone ever come back after being punished?”

“Would you?”

James grew reflective and quiet. Veronica looked over at him and told him another story. “One boy I caught went to school with me. He knew who I was. Knew my name. He knew I wasn’t some ageless well-witch but when I yelled out to him to stay, he stayed for the switch too. That one boy came back and got himself caught several times, and stayed every time.”

“What became of him?” James asked.

“I married him.” Veronica smiled with a wink. “When we started dating we were around 16 or so and he’d come around and try to find new ways to get caught by me. One day I had a dentist appointment in town, just a short walk from my school. He didn’t know and so, thinking I was home he came into the yard figuring on being funny by drinking our well water and then pretending to get drunk with each sip. He started to act crazy and began singing rowdy bar songs. I’m not home, so of course my mother came running out. She lectured him on being too old to act like a silly irresponsible kid. She had no idea we were dating, and when he tried to explain she told him he should be punished just like the child he was acting like. So now, here I come, my lips all numb from the novocaine and when I look out the window, there’s my boyfriend bent over the well with his bare butt getting thrashed by my mom.”

“That is pretty funny.”

“Oh and she really gave it to him too! I ran out and explained everything and introduced him and my mom blushed for the first time I remember. To make amends she invited him to dinner and even gave him a cushion to sit on. We’ve been together for about 15 years now. And on our anniversary we’d sometimes come out here and re-enact our old ‘Woman of the Well’ adventures.”

James blushed. “So that’s why that kid said someone saw the Woman of the Well whipping someone not that long ago.”

“Yeah, about 2 years ago a couple of campers spotted us and reported it. They didn’t get too good a look since I had the shawl on and no one took them too seriously. But it was true.”

“Wow.”

“So, is your adventure now complete? You learned the legend of the Woman of the Well and even got to meet her in person ……or one of them. Pretty good pay-off for your embarrassment I would think.” 

“You know, Ma’am, if I had been caught, I wouldn’t have run either.”

Veronica nodded knowingly, “I believe that.” The Ranger eyed the boy curiously for a moment then bluntly asked why he was so curious about these punishments. At first James only shrugged evasively……the typical teen response…………. but after Veronica persisted he suggested that it was probably because despite hearing about kids being punished this way, he himself had never experienced it. “So your Mom has never spanked you?” Veronica asked.

“No, never. But she’s threatened to plenty of times.” Another silence followed. “So….” James began with a nervous flutter, “what are you going to do now, Ma’am?”

“Well I’m not going to report this if that’s what you mean. I don’t think anyone needs to know about your little afternoon streak. I doubt anyone else saw you but me, and I won’t file a complaint. Seen plenty of bare butts in my life and yours is just one more.”

“That’s not what I mean, Ma’am. I mean I came to the well, and you caught me...and you are the Woman of the Well. And I already told you that I’m not the type that’d run.”

“What are you saying, James?”

“You kind of owe me a whippin’ Ma’am. I followed all the rules.”

“Don’t be silly, James, I’m not going to whip you. First off, that was a long time ago. And besides, what if someone saw us? I’m a Park ranger for cryin’ out loud! What if someone reported seeing me switching a kid? No way....just put it out of your head. Besides, I doubt you’d find the experience as exciting as you seem to think. Remember out of all those kids only one ever came back for more. Now wait here and let me check on those clothes. They should be dry by now.”

James watched as Veronica got out of the truck and as she disappeared around the front of the house, he spitefully snatched the keys from the ignition and got out of the truck. Before Veronica returned he managed to hide them under one of the dozens of flat rocks along the path and sit back in the passenger’s seat with a smug grin. When Veronica got back with his clothes, she told him to dress so she could take him back to his site, then quickly noticed the keys were missing. “OK, where are they?” she asked sternly. But James refused to answer. Veronica nodded red-faced. “OK, I see, I’m going to have to persuade you to tell me where the keys are huh?” James nodded triumphantly. “Fair enough. But be warned, young man, I don’t like being tricked or manipulated. You may be in for a worse time than you bargained for. But enough, since you really want your butt whipped then let’s go! Get your tail over that well. I need to cut a switch and fix it so you stay put.”

Despite the impending punishment, James went to the well feeling victorious. He shed the blanket and draped his naked self on the warm stones. When Veronica returned she had with her, not only a sturdy-looking switch of birch, but a few lengths of rope from her truck. These she attached to the well’s axle and then secured James’ wrists to the dangling ends. A few turns of the well handle quickly took up the slack and stretched the youthful body tightly and snugly over the wall. “I know you said you wouldn’t run, but now that you made me angry, I just want to be sure,” Veronica snapped, “now get ready. I think despite your apparent bravery, I’ll have those keys back in no time at all.”

With that confident proclamation, Veronica delivered the first stroke. James gasped at the pain. He hadn’t expected it to sting so much. Before he could recover the switch landed again and then again and again. James began to dance like a marionette. His self-spankings never felt like this. Those he could control adjusting the pace and intensity to his own satisfaction, here he was at someone else’s mercy. And she certainly wasn’t looking to see that he was having a good time. “Oww!“ he cried out. “I’m sorry Ma’am. “I’ll tell you where the keys are.”

“Oh, I’m sure you will!” Veronica replied then laced into the pale bottom again, raising another livid stripe.

“Please, Ma’am. They’re under a stone by the car.”

“There’s only about forty stones over there. Should I look under each one?” Veronica asked sarcastically and underlined her point by underlining the trembling cheeks yet again.

“Ahhhhhhoooooow!” he whined quickly stammering, “The one…the one… the one that kind of looks like Australia.”

The response triggered a chuckle. “I see. I’ll go check,” she announced in a very calm voice. “You wouldn’t be lying to me now would you?” She delivered a vicious cut to his lower bottom.

“Owww! No, Ma’am, they’re there, I promise!” James swore.

“OK, let me see,” she replied and then struck again, pleased to hear a genuine howl. Leaving James trussed as he was, she went to the path and smiled at the rock that did indeed resemble Australia. Underneath, as promised, resided her keys, which she quickly pocketed.”You were telling the truth, James. I found them right where you said.”





































She walked back to her victim and then surprised him by picking up her switch rather than letting him down. “Now that we have the keys back, let’s attend to the fact that you were trespassing on my well.”

James groaned, but resigned himself to his fate. It was fair after all…..and it was what he asked for. “Yes, Ma’am,” he replied, “I’m sorry I tricked you.”

Veronica then gave James a very memorable experience. By the time she was finished, his bottom was no longer just striped with alternating lines of welt and white, but utterly ridged like a maroon washboard. Not a sliver of pale remained. When let down, James just moaned and without consciously planning it, turned into Veronica’s arms and held her. At first at bit surprised, Veronica stiffened, but then just reciprocated and held her repentant victim. James’ reaction to her punishment prompted an old memory. 

“So,“ she said finally, “was it everything you were looking for, or should I expect to hear from lawyers in the morning?”

James released his embrace and wiped his face with his hand, his eyes looked up into hers with puppy-dog devotion, “It...YOU.....were amazing. Thank you.”

“I see,” she replied, “you remind me a bit of that kid who kept coming back.”

“I’ll be back……next year. I promise.”

“By next year you’ll want no part in games like this. But I’m glad you got your adventure, even if you won’t be able to sit without wincing. Now go get dressed.”

The ride back to James’ site was mostly quiet, however, in the midst of the general silence, Veronica brought up a topic that shocked James. In a calm, authoritative tone, she gave her young victim an assignment of sorts, one bound by honor. When home, and after his souvenir stripes had faded away, she wanted the boy to find the right moment to suggest to his mother that she consider trying corporal punishment as an option when he was disrespectful or misbehaved. James said he would but doubted his mother would agree. Veronica smiled and replied that if the suggestion came from him and he sounded sincere, that his mother just might surprise him. James again agreed to try, admitting he probably would benefit from such a policy. But upon exiting the truck the boy looked back at Veronica and repeated, “Even if my Mom agrees and I end up punished this way, I will still be back next year. You just wait and see.”

“Well, James, if that turns out to be true, the Woman of the Well will be waiting for you.”

-------------------------------------------------

Almost exactly a year later James was back at the Park’s office with his stepfather and step-uncle to register for a campsite. This time he readily agreed to come ……as long as he could hike around rather than fish. The past year had been eventful. As promised, he had obeyed Veronica’s directive and during a particularly emotional argument with his mother, offered her the old-fashioned option of physical chastisement as a consequence he would be willing to suffer if she felt it appropriate and deserved. After months of dealing with the emotional swings and sarcastic attitude of a pubescent, hormonal teenager, the exasperated woman needed no further persuasion. Within mere minutes after James had uttered the words, he was across his Mom’s lap absorbing her frustration into his reddening cheeks. Initially, releasing all that pent-up emotion felt wonderful, but as her anger subsided, the sight of her son’s raw posterior did elicit some maternal guilt. However once finished James hugged her so tightly and for days afterward James’ attitude had so improved that his mother never hesitated to employ the same method whenever warranted without any guilt at all. The new arrangement remained their secret. No one else knew, not even his step-father. It was their private understanding and both enjoyed the harmony that resulted from it.

Now at the office he saw Veronica and was pleased to see her smile back at him. He said something about being back and not-so-innocently mentioned that he “couldn’t wait to go hiking ……like last year”. Veronica just smiled at the hint and replied that if he really liked hiking he should go around 2:00 tomorrow, saying it was the best time for exploration. 

The following day as directed James made sure to hike up to the old abandoned house and its special well at the time Veronica suggested. As he eagerly ambled up the gravel trail he was surprised to see a young girl in a cream-colored shawl sitting on the porch steps. She had jet black hair and blue eyes.

“Hi. You wanna play ‘Woman of the Well’?” she asked.

James hesitated and the girl continued, “my Mom told me you did.”

“Your Mom? Is she a Ranger?” The speculation was logical. Not only did this girl have Veronica’s same black hair and blue eyes, but how else would she have known to wait for him?

“Yeah, she is now. But she used to be the Woman of the Well……… and before her it was my Grandma, but now I’m Woman of the Well,” she explained casually.

“You? How old are you?” James asked with slight annoyance.

“Technically speaking I’m 13, or will be in a month, but if you’re playing ‘Woman of the Well’ it’s better to think of me as ageless.”

“Don’t you think you’re a little young?”

“No. My Mom was Woman of the Well at 14 and I’m not a lot younger than that. Besides you don’t seem much older than me. So you want to play or not?”

“I don’t know.” James evaded.

“You played with my Mom.” The girl countered.

“She told you?” James asked in embarrassed shock.

“Yeah. She said you were good at it too. I was glad when she told me you were coming here today. No one ever seems to want to play anymore,” the girl paused to grin in devilish pride, “Mom says it’s a shame because just like you... I’m also good at it.” The girl then continued in a tone of detached disappointment, “Yeah, nowadays no one wants to play. Everybody’s either too shy or too chicken.” The girl turned to James with knitted brow, “I hope you’re not chicken. Mom said you weren’t. And look,” she added with sudden, innocent excitement, “I even found the most perfect switch,” she said as she swished it through the air with a menacing ‘whoosh’, “I haven’t seen one this good all season. It’s like a sign or omen or something that we should play today.”

James hesitated some more. He hadn’t planned on this. He thought Veronica would be here not her daughter……and she was 12……a kid, not the expert with a runner of birch that Veronica was. But the more he thought, the more he realized that if he wanted to have another ‘Well Adventure’, he would have to rely on Veronica’s daughter……and besides, he rationalized in his head, the Woman of the Well was supposed to change in age. This made it sort of true to the legend. And he could still have his adventure and probably have an easier time sitting around the campfire later on. “OK,” James replied, “sure, I’ll play. What’s your name?”

“I told you……I’m the Woman of the Well.”

James chuckled at her insistence of staying in character. Stanislavski would have been proud of her. “OK, OK. So, Woman of the Well…..I suppose you want me bent over the wall?”
The girl sighed with a shrug of exasperation, “Duh-uh! Well yeah-eah, whaddya think?” she rolled her eyes sarcastically, then added, “but you got to let me hide first and naturally those clothes need to go.”

“My clothes?” James objected. “You want me naked?”

“Don’t give me that! You played before, you know the rules. If we‘re gonna play, we’re gonna play it right. Don’t worry, no one comes by this way anymore. No one will see you....” she paused with a snicker that she instinctively hid with her hand and then added teasingly “....other than me. And since I’m the Woman of the Well you don’t need to be shy with me.”

The girl strode off disappearing around the side of the house out of view leaving James to disrobe in the bright sunshine. He was careful this time to place his clothes away from any watery danger, and once fully naked, carefully stepped to the well and waited. The girl soon reappeared and began yelling, “How dare you try to steal from my well! Stay where you are you trespasser and suffer the consequences!” James found the theatrics a bit corny but played along. He cooperated as the girl put his hands through the familiar rope loops and cranked the well handle to secure him to his spot. When she took up position behind him he wasn’t too worried figuring she could not be the switch expert her mother was, but her first cut proved him wrong. It felt as if she snapped a red-hot wire across his skin. The stroke burned into him like a branding iron. In just a few strokes more he was genuinely wriggling and jumping as much as the ropes would allow. It was now impossible for James to think of this as just a game though the girl still did. In her shawl-costume, she continued to berate him over the concocted offense of stealing her water. Skilled and enthusiastic, she was merciless to the point of glee. It was hard to believe but this girl was actually more menacing with a switch than her mother. She gave him two dozen strokes, each one as masterful as the last. By the end, he was howling after each cut and in a genuine state of trembling remorse, instinctively apologizing in desperate tones for a transgression he had not committed.

“OK, I think you’ve learned your lesson. Now never steal from the Woman of the Well again!” and concluded with one final switch-slice right across the lower fatty curve of James’ striped bottom which made him yelp. As James slowly recovered his breath, his tormentor mischievously slipped away and then returned to her victim to untie him. “To answer your question my name is Amy. You want to play some cards?” she asked producing a rubber-banded deck from her bag.

The natural ease with which this girl shifted from strict disciplinarian to eager card player charmed James. “OK, I’ll play for a bit, but then I should head back,” he agreed as he went to the porch for his clothes. As he approached the spot he saw his clothes weren’t there and heard the girl giggling. “Where are my clothes?” he asked.

“I hid them,” she admitted, “I kind of like having you like that. It’ll definitely make the card game way more interesting……annnnd…… all you need to do is win just one hand and I’ll give all your clothes right back. Buuuuuuuut....for every hand you lose before that….” she smiled as she reached into her bag, “you’ll have to pay a price.” James’ mouth hung open as he saw Amy twirl a stout plastic, flat-backed hairbrush in her hand. 

“You’re going to spank me if I lose?”

“Uh huh,” Amy nodded, eliciting a genuine look of protest from her ‘captive’. 

“But you just switched me!” James protested as he instinctively twisted himself in an attempt to survey the condition of his stinging rear.

“True, and your point is?” she smiled.

“It’s not fair!” James argued then paused noticing for the first time that this girl….this 

Amy....was actually kind of cute. In fact the more he thought about it, she was more than cute, she was truly pretty. Struck by this revelation, he suddenly had a devilish idea.  

“Tell you what, how about if whoever loses a hand gets spanked?” James suggested thinking his idea might afford him a look at more than Amy’s adorable face.

But Amy shook her head dismissively, “don’t be silly. The Woman of the Well doesn’t get spanked.”

“You’re not the Woman of the Well right now.”

“Well girls don’t get spanked.”

“Sure they do.”

The girl reflected a moment and realizing the logic in the statement, nodded in agreement. 

“Yeah, I suppose they do, but let’s just say that this particular girl,” she said pointing to herself, “doesn’t. Nope, the stakes stay like I said. The way I see it, while a nice stingy spanking is an ideal penalty for some people, I don’t believe it suits me at all. I have no desire to have my butt smacked by you or anyone else. Even my Mom never spanked me.”

James was shocked by this revelation since it was her mother, Veronica who told him to suggest spanking to his own mother. “You’re kidding me! Your Mom? The same person who’s probably whipped like half your town has never spanked her own kid?”

“You sound surprised,” Amy observed, “but I don’t know anyone who does that anymore.”

James smiled at the irony. “I guess you’re right, even my mother never used to.”

“But she does now?”

James nodded, “Uh huh, and it was because your Mom said I should suggest it to her. So I did.”

“And she went for it?” Amy was beaming with mounting glee.

“I’ll say!”

“Oh that’s just too funny,” the girl confessed amid her laughter.

“Amazing,” James shook his head from side to side, “it’s like spanking is a bad idea for everybody else, but OK for me.”

Amy nodded enthusiastically, “more than ‘OK’...it’s perfectly suited to you. In fact we are kind of a perfect match. You are definitely the type who should be spanked and I’m definitely someone happy to do it. So stop fighting it and let’s play.” For his part, James could not argue with Amy’s conclusion. It was something about himself he had always known and now it appeared that someone else recognized it in him too, but rather than thinking it strange, instead appreciated his quirk. It occurred to him that this card game could be fun ..... he might not even try too terribly hard to win. 

“Let’s play on the steps, just watch out, the wood’s pretty cracked. If you’re not careful you’re gonna end up with a buttful of splinters,” she smirked, “and I’d rather spend the afternoon spanking your butt instead of yanking splinters out of it.”

“You’re bad,” James teased as the girl shuffled the worn deck.

“Funny, huh? I’m bad and you’re the one with the whipped behind. I believe they call that ‘irony’. How’s it feel by the way?” the girl asked with a proud tilt of her head.

“It feels like I sat on one of those grills I saw in the picnic area.”

“It’s kind of what it looks like too.” Amy replied as she dealt. “Gin OK with you?”

James nodded consent and asked, “so where’d you learn to hit like that? You aren’t that old and you said before that no one ever plays this game anymore. Just natural talent?” James praised.

“I suppose there’s some natural ability in me……being a Woman of the Well and all,” she shrugged playfully, “but I suppose I got a lot of practice on my Teddy Bear. I used to whip his naughty butt all the time as a kid. Wore the fuzz right off his stuffed bottom.” She laughed, all teeth and sparkling eyes. “Actually, you were my first flesh-and-blood victim.”

“Really? Given your skill I never would have guessed. Your strokes hurt more than your Mom’s.”

“Why thank you!” Amy nodded, “I have to admit it was a lot more fun than whipping poor old Teddy. He just laid there after a swipe like he was dead. Your reactions were a lot more energetic. And to be honest, your butt is cuter than his….” she leaned in with a flirtacious whisper…”but don’t tell him that. Wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings.”

James blushed at the compliment, “thanks, to be honest, I know this might sound strange, but I am glad we got to play Woman of the Well.”

“Why would I think that strange? It’s why you came here today isn’t it? And to be honest, I’m glad too,” Amy countered, “ ‘cause like I said, I’ve been waiting for a willing playmate for a long time.”

“Well,” James began shyly, “I mean coming from the person who got whipped.”

“I see,” Amy nodded, “the victim’s not supposed to like it, right?” she paused for a moment to eye him coyly and then added, “but you do.”

James nodded unable to answer, his face glowing. Amy noticed his reaction and reached out to touch his hand, “It’s OK, you can admit it, especially to me, James.” Amy’s blue eyes bore right into him, “I think you know I’d understand better than anyone, so tell me, it’s OK, I’d like you to.”

“I can’t,” James bowed in embarrassment.

“Whisper it then. Whisper it right in my ear, just to me,” Amy whispered herself as she leaned in. James met her halfway and slowly inched towards her ear. He could smell apple-scented shampoo in her hair as his cheek lightly brushed against hers, but she didn’t pull away. 

In a hoarse wisp of a whisper he confessed, “I liked having you whip me, Amy……..and I really like you, too.” 

As James pulled back slowly, Amy whispered back, “I really like you too, James.” And before either gave it much thought, they briefly hesitated as if considering what would have been a ‘first kiss’ for each of them. But nervous hesitation dragged the pause from romantic to awkward and the moment passed as the two blushed awkwardly. Each sat up straight and returned to their game acting as if what just almost happened hadn’t happened at all. However, peaking over her fan of cards, Amy noticed that James’ once meek and humbled penis was now poking up from his lap like a curious snake. She couldn’t help giggling. Until today she had never even seen a boy’s penis let alone have one react like this on account of her.

“What?” James asked her softly, but blushed hard when the girl pointed to his crotch still snickering. “Sorry,” he added, “ I...uh...um…”.

“It’s OK,” Amy soothed, “I don’t mind. Just don’t you be getting the same ideas as your friend there,” she rebuked playfully.

For a while the pair briefly discussed their schools and towns, what they liked, the music they listened to, and what their future plans might be. The things they had in common made them comfortable, the things they differed on merely made each seem more interesting to the other. After talking a bit about their families, Amy smiled and sighed, “OK, I have been thinking about something and I just have to ask.”

“What?”

“I know you said my Mom told you to ask your Mom to spank you when you were bad, and you did, but...”, the girl paused before continuing, “I just can’t imagine someone bringing something like that up to a parent? How did you go about asking to be spanked?”

James made a face and shrugged. “It actually wasn’t that difficult. It almost happened on its own. I mean, yeah, after your Mom told me to I thought a lot about how to bring it up, and like you said, nothing felt right. I put it off until the right time or until I could find the right words and then one day my Mom and I ended up in this huge argument over my room being messy. And here she is yelling at me, and I’m yelling back and we’re both upset and then just like she’s done a million times, she brings up the fact that she’s always tried so hard to be fair, and that she never spanked me….even though I ‘certainly deserved it’,” James imitated his mother’s voice, “...and so she’s trying to make me feel guilty because she never spanked me. And I was so sick of hearing that, that without really planning it or even thinking about it, I just snapped back that if she really felt that way, she should have just done it instead of always complaining about not doing it.”

“You didn’t!” Amy replied with open mouth.

“Yeah, and it gets worse. Right after I said that she said, ‘you think I wouldn’t?’ and I said something like, ‘I don’t know, if you want to, do it, if you don’t ....don’t, but just shut up about it'. That pretty much did it.”

“I would think it would.”

“Yeah, she stood there in shock for like a minute staring at me with these wide open eyes. And then her eyebrows came down hard and I knew I was in trouble. I had never told my Mom to ‘shut up’ before. She grabbed me by my arm and literally pulled me along into her room and before I knew it, I was over her lap apologizing like crazy.”












































Amy clapped as she laughed, “That’s great! She must have been pissed. Was it bad?”
James nodded, “yeah, she really let me have it. I thought she was just going to smack me with her hand, but she went into her drawer and got this hairbrush I didn’t even know she had and holy cow! That thing stung like crazy.”

“Wow.”

“But you know,” James tilted his head slightly and continued with reflection, “I can’t complain. I really did deserve it. My room was a mess, and what I said….well heck, what parent wouldn’t take a comment like that as a direct challenge? I practically dared her to spank me. But after it was over I wasn’t upset with her at all. I was actually glad she did it. I even hugged her.”

“Hmmmm,” Amy replied with a frown.

“What’s wrong?”

“Your Mom spanks you and you hug her……and my Mom told me you hugged her after she whipped you, but I do it and I don’t get a hug at all,” Amy pouted.

James saw the cute lower lip jut as Amy’s brow crinkled. “I’m sorry. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s just that I wasn’t sure you’d want me to. Would you like a hug?”

“I think it would be a nice way to show there’s no hard feelings,” the girl reasoned.

“OK,” James smiled as he rose from his stair. Laying her cards face-down on the cracked dry wood of the porch, the girl stood also with her arms straight and spread, palms up, wholly open and willing. James shuffled forward encircling her with his own outstretched limbs and then slowly and tentatively each tightened their hold firmly binding themselves together. 

But their embrace produced more than mere feelings of reconciliation. Each seemed surprised at how effortlessly their bodies conformed to one another in a perfect fit. Their faces forced close, the two looked at each other with hopeful eyes that gradually grew soulful. As if mutual victims of some alien force of magnetism, they soon found themselves drawing even closer until their faces were inches apart. Then without a conscious decision the two gently shared a youthful kiss of pressed lips, exchanged breath, and frozen time. Only after they pulled away did they realize what had just happened. This time both of them blushed and Amy quickly sat back down, picked up her hand and resumed playing. Silent minutes passed. Amy was the first to speak. “That was....nice. But did you really mean it when you said you liked when I beat your butt?” 

James nodded, “Uh huh.”

Once again the twinkle of teeth and eyes flashed brightly. “Good, because……’gin’,” she announced with an evil smirk, as she laid down Queens and threes. “Let’s go,” she barked playfully, “over my lap and pay the price.”

James rolled his eyes but obeyed willingly. At that moment James knew he had found a kindred spirit, someone like him .....though different, someone who understood that pleasure and pain were brother and sister but knew that you needed opposite halves on that same coin. One person to dish out the pain, the other to accept it. As he stretched across her lap he asked, “say, after I win my clothes back, you wanna go for a walk?”

Amy smiled coyly listing her head to one side. “Ok,” she replied with a teasing grin, “but it could be a few hands before that happens.” James just smiled, got into position, and waited. Despite the welts he was already sporting he knew she wouldn’t go easy on him, but it would be worth a sore bottom to spend time with this youthful enchantress and hopefully get to hold her hand on the trail and maybe even steal another kiss. He also knew he was officially in the throes of his first big crush…… on a girl with jet black hair named Amy....a real girl he met as the result of once chasing down a legend. Being a teenager just got better.


The End
Art by H-Bum