This is story #2 in this AU. You need to read the first story, Housekeeping, to understand this one.
Warning: Corporal Punishment of children. Click Here to go Directly to Update!!!
Chris slipped out the window into the crisp winter air. He shimmied across the roof edge and carefully slid to the ground where there was no snow. Once he was obscured by the shade he leaned against the wall and pulled out a cheroot. He lit the cheroot and inhaled the smoke and held it for a moment. He exhaled with a sigh.
“Was it worth it?” A voice came from the darkness.
Chris jumped and then sighed. “Yes, it was.” He replied.
Josiah stepped out of the shadow and approached Chris. “You know you’re not supposed to be after curfew or smoking.”
“Can the attitude Christopher. Let’s go.” Josiah took Chris to his office and lectured him on the hazards of smoking and sneaking out. He quickly administered a sound spanking then afterwards he was sent to an isolation room for the night. “I’ll deal with the rest of your punishment in the morning. Goodnight.”
Chris simply resolved to his punishment and went to sleep. The next morning, Josiah returned to isolation. “You’re grounded for the next two weeks. That means no TV, no phone, no going off campus. You will go to school, eat and stay in your room. Is that understood?”
“Two weeks? For one cheroot?”
“You will not sneak out after curfew Christopher. I also took the liberty to search your belongings but I didn’t find any more cheroots so I can only assume you have no more, however, if I find you with anymore, your punishment will be worse than this one. Understood?”
“Good. Now go to your room.” Josiah stood away from the doorway and pointed toward the hallway. Chris stormed down the hallway toward his room.
Chris stormed into his room and just stopped short of slamming the door. He knew that would just cause him more distress as he absently rubbed his sore backside. He sat carefully at his desk and sighed. He hated being idle and being grounded really sucked. He looked up at his calendar to plot his “imprisonment” and noticed his weekend plans would now be cancelled. He hadn’t thought how his nighttime smoke would ruin his plans.
Getting angry, Chris slammed his left fist into the bulletin board that held the ruined schedule. “Damn!” He hollered as he cradled his sore hand. He hoped Josiah hadn’t heard, but those hopes were dashed as the door opened. He quickly put his hands behind his back.
“Christopher? Do we have a problem?” Josiah asked.
“No sir.” Chris quickly answered.
“Really?” Josiah’s eyebrow rose.
“I was…” Chris paused. “I didn’t mean too and I’m okay now. Honest.”
“What’s the problem then?”
“Next weekend is ruined right?”
“Because of being grounded?” Josiah asked already knowing the answer. Chris nodded. “I don’t see why your mom can’t still come to visit as long as you are cooperative while grounded. That will include after the visit also. And stop hitting the walls.” Josiah added with a smile.
“Sorry.” Chris mumbled as he looked at his feet.
“Come with me Chris.” Josiah led Chris out of the room.
Chris’ head snapped up. “I’m sorry Josiah. I won’t do it again. I promise.” Chris begged as he followed Josiah.
“Let me look at your hand.” Josiah asked as he entered his office. He smiled at the sound of relief as Chris let out a breath. “Though I was taking you to Timeout Two?” Chris nodded. “No. Although I would be justified to, wouldn’t I?”
“Yes sir.” Chris sighed.
“Good. Let’s look at that hand and then get you back to your room.”
Confident that Chris hadn’t hurt his hand too badly, Josiah sent him back to his room and went to check on the rest of the boys.
“Who wants to go sledding?” BA asked all of the boys gathered in the rec room.
“Homework needs to be finished first, so if you haven’t finished it you need to now.” Josiah added.
“My homework is done but must I go outside?”
“No, but you need to be doing something. What would you like to do?”
“Read?” Ezra asked hopefully.
“All day? You need to get outside at least once today.”
“It’s cold outside. I deplore the cold. Please?”
Josiah thought for a moment. “On one condition.”
“What condition?” Ezra asked with caution.
“I need to go to town after lunch and you get to go with me to help with the errands and grocery shopping.”
Ezra thought for a moment and then nodded and said, “Okay.”
“Without complaints?” Josiah added.
Ezra flashed him a smile. “I will endeavor to control my hatred of errands.”
“Good. After lunch be ready to go.”
“Yes sir.” Ezra settled down to read the morning away as Josiah headed back to his office.
Josiah let Ezra go to his room after lunch to get his coat to run errands. “How are you holding up Mr. Larabee?” Ezra asked as he grabbed his coat and put on his boots.
“Already bored out of my skull.” Chris mumbled from his bed.
“We missed you at lunch.” Ezra said as he tied his boots.
“Josiah made me eat in here because I punched the wall earlier.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I thought Josiah would keep my mom from visiting next weekend because of being restricted, but he’s using it as an incentive to behave while ‘locked up’.”
“He definitely has a manipulative streak. It’s like bargaining with the devil.” Ezra smiled.
“Speaking of the devil.” Chris laughed.
Josiah stuck his head in the doorway, “Let’s go Ezra.”
“Yes sir. I’ll see you later Chris. Pray that I survive running errands.” Ezra shivered dramatically.
“I’d rather be grounded.” Chris smiled.
“Now Ezra, and Chris?”
“I can always add a week of two to that grounding if you like it so much.”
“No sir, I’m good.”
“That’s yet to be seen.” Josiah gestured for Ezra to head out. “Get your homework done Chris. I’ll be checking it before dinner.”
“Yes sir.” Chris got off his bed and settled at his desk as Josiah relocked the door. This is going to be a long two weeks, thought Chris.
“Ezra! Timeout #2! NOW!” Josiah yelled.
“No! Why won’t you let me explain?”
“Did you just tell me ‘no’?” Josiah said with deadly calm.
“No! I’ll be in Timeout #1 when you can let me explain.” Ezra stormed off.
“I said Timeout #2 young man.”
“No!” Ezra ran ahead of Josiah, to Timeout #1 and slammed the door.
Josiah swung around. “What Jack?”
“Maybe you should step back and calm down. There’s also a phone call for you on line one.”
“Just take a message.”
“They said it was important.”
“Fine. Have the others bring in the groceries and then could you sit with Ezra?”
“Sure Josiah.” Jack sent the boys to bring the groceries into Nettie and then set out to keep watch on Ezra, who was raging against the walls in Timeout #1.
“This is Sanchez.” Josiah said as he picked up the phone.
“Mr. Sanchez? My name is Jessica and I witnessed what happened this afternoon in the store.”
“Miss, I appreciate your concern but I saw Ezra hit that young man.”
“He didn’t want to though. John was harassing me and wouldn’t go away. Then Ezra asked him to stop but John kept pushing Ezra backwards. Ezra was talking and John swung at him. Ezra dodged the first couple of swings and then took a hard hit to his shoulder. That’s when Ezra hit John. He was just protecting me.”
“He really tried not to fight?”
“Yes sir. I saw how upset you were and I think John hurt Ezra’s shoulder because he grimaced when you hauled him out. I just thought you should know.”
“Thank you Jessica. I’ll fix this. Good day.”
Josiah sighed as he hung up the phone. What a mess.
Ezra was fuming. His shoulder was on fire and his left arm was going numb. He kicked at the padded walls a few times but lost his anger as he slid down the wall, cradling his arm and sobbing out his frustration.
Jack checked on him as the outbursts ended and noted the time in case he was asked. As he sat down again, Josiah came out of his office and headed toward him.
“Jack? Is Nathan still on campus?”
“He should be, why?”
“See if you can find him and ask him to bring his stuff to the timeout room.”
“Certainly.” Jack got on the phone as Josiah went to talk to Ezra.
Josiah entered the Timeout room and noticed Ezra quietly crying while he balled up in a corner of the room. Josiah sighed and moved toward Ezra a crouched down to the boy’s level. “Here.” Josiah handed Ezra a box of Kleenex.ä Ezra took the tissue without a word and blew his nose.
“I’m sorry Ezra. I should have listened and let you explain.”
Ezra looked at Josiah and saw only understanding. The tears flowed freely again. Josiah sat down next to him and allowed their shoulders to touch, to offer quiet support. They sat in silence until Josiah heard the radio crackle with news that ‘he was on the way’.
“How’s the shoulder?” Josiah asked.
“Fine.” Ezra responded automatically.
Josiah chuckled. “Sure you are Ezra.” After a short pause, Josiah added, “I got an interesting phone call after we got back. It seems the young lady you defended wanted me to know you tried not to fight and asked me not to be too angry with you.”
Ezra looked shocked. No one ever went out of the way to help him. Josiah smiled at the shocked look. “There are people out there who care Ezra. I’m glad she called.” Josiah paused again when he noticed Nathan at the window in the door. He waved the doctor in. “Let’s get that shoulder looked at Ez.”
Josiah motioned Nathan closer. As Ezra declared he was fine and tried to move away from Josiah and Nathan. “Not going to happen son. You need to let Nate look at that shoulder.” Josiah quickly snagged Ezra’s leg.
“No. I’m fine. Please just leave me be.”
“Ezra? I need to check that shoulder.” Nathan didn’t wait for any more protests. He quickly grabbed Ezra’s shoulder and arm and with a quick twist and pull the shoulder popped back into joint.
“YEOW!” Ezra shouted.
Josiah smiled as he tried to sooth Ezra’s indignation. “Better?”
“Damn harsh way to help Mr. Jackson.” Ezra sneered.
“Watch your language Ezra.” Josiah gently reprimanded.
Nathan laughed gently. “Sorry Ezra but it needed to be fixed.”
“That’s your story Mr. Jackson.” Ezra complained as he rubbed his shoulder.
“I’ll go get a sling and we can tie it up for a while to let it heal.” Nathan stood up. “Try not to move you arm around too much.”
Josiah and Ezra sat in silence while they waited for Nathan to return. “Let’s get this sling on and then you can lie down. I’m going to give you something for the pain also.”
“I’m quite fine Mr. Jackson. I don’t need any drugs.” Ezra complained as Nathan strapped down Ezra’s left arm.
“I want you to take it anyway. It will take care of the swelling.” Nathan handed a med cup and a bottle of water.
“No.” Ezra tried to turn away from the doctor but Josiah stopped him.
“Ezra.” Josiah warned. “You will take the pills with no more complaints.”
Ezra looked at Josiah to gage how serious he was. He immediately recognized the no nonsense look and took the pills and water. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but his arm was throbbing.
Satisfied the pills were swallowed, Nathan stood to leave. “Get some rest and call me if the pain gets worse.”
“Thanks Nathan.” Josiah added.
“You’re welcome. Get this boy some food then to bed.”
“Thanks Nate.” Josiah turned back to Ezra and noticed the silent tears running down the boys’ cheeks.
“Sorry.” Ezra whispered as he wiped his eyes.
“Why?” Josiah asked.
“Losing my temper. Yelling at you. Telling you ‘no’.”
“You’re forgiven Ezra. Can you forgive me too?”
“I didn’t get the whole story and almost punished you for a situation beyond your control. For that, I’m sorry.”
“Very well.” Ezra yawned. “I will forgive you also.”
“Good.” Josiah stood and helped Ezra up. “Let’s get you some supper and into bed.”
“I’m not really hungry.”
“You need to eat something with those pain pills.” Josiah led Ezra toward the kitchen. As they entered, Josiah pointed to a table for Ezra to sit. Nettie came out from the kitchen and noticed Ezra’s arm.
“What happened to you my boy?”
“A minor altercation in town Miz Nettie. I assure you I am well.”
Josiah smiled. “Nettie? Is there any chance we could get dinner a little early?”
“Certainly Josiah. Supper’s already done, it’s just in the warmer. I’ll get you a couple of plates.”
“I need another for Chris also.”
“Certainly. Why don’t you get Christopher and these boys can eat together.”
“Sounds good to me. I’ll be right back Ezra. Stay put and behave.” Josiah returned with Chris as three supper plates were placed on the table.
Chris saw Ezra and noticed his shoulder. “What happened to you Ezra? You okay?”
Josiah answered for Ezra. “He’s okay Chris. Have a seat and eat. Then Ezra is going to bed and so are you.”
“What! I haven’t done anything new to be punished for.” Chris argued.
“By the time you’re both ready for bed it will only be an hour early.” Josiah silenced Chris before he could say anything else. “You may stay up and read if you want but I want you in bed and quiet so Ezra can sleep.”
“Okay.” Chris sat next to Ezra and started to eat. “So Ez, what happened?”
Ezra told Chris about the afternoon and his injured shoulder. When they were finished, Josiah had Chris return the dishes to be washed and the trio headed to he bathroom as the rest of the cottage came in to eat their supper.
“Where’s Chris?” Josiah asked as he stormed into Cottage Seven.
“He’s in his room, why?” Jack stated as he got up.
“I just talked to his teacher and she said he was uncooperative all day.”
“Josiah?” Ezra said quietly.
“Not right now Ezra.”
“But it’s about Chris?”
Josiah turned to Ezra and scowled. “What?”
“He’s been sick all day and Ms. Jacobs wasn’t interested in that fact. Please don’t be too hard on him.”
“What’s he doing in his room?”
“Laying down. He look a little rough when I picked him up after school.” Jack answered.
Josiah headed down the hallway and entered Chris and Ezra’s room. He saw Chris curled up on his bed under the blankets. Josiah sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed Chris’ back. “Chris?”
“Hmm.” Chris moaned.
“I just talked with Ms. Jacobs.”
“I’m sorry Josiah.” Chris said as he rolled over to face Josiah.
Josiah noticed the watery and glassy eyes. He placed his palm on Chris’ forehead and found it hot. “You’re burning up. Did you tell Ms. Jacobs you didn’t feel well?”
“Yes, but she said I was lying.”
“Is that why you gave her a hard time?”
“I didn’t mean too. I couldn’t stay focused and I got frustrated. She got mad at me because I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to her later, but first I’m going to call Nathan and have him look at you. Stay here until I get back.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Chris rolled over and Josiah tucked the blanket tighter around the sick boy then headed to his office to call Nathan. Twenty minutes later, Nathan was examining Chris.
“Chris? I know your throat hurts but I want you to eat and to drink plenty of fluids. I’m going to give Josiah the meds I want you to take. Get some rest.”
“Josiah? Chris has strep throat. I’m going to bring over some antibiotics and something for his throat. Keep him out of school for a week and I’ll come see how he’s doing before then. If his temperature gets above 103 call me.”
“Thanks Nate. We’ll take care of our boy.”