Recently I was at The Cloisters in New York. (For those who need to know, that is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art built around several genuine cloisters moved from Europe.) This one, the Trie, is complete with a little garden and is about six by seven arches (actually six, six, seven and three with seats plus passageways) each archway about 1.3 meters wide). As I sat there, mostly alone (yes, there is lots of solitude in NY), I realized that my seat (and the twenty-one others) was exactly the right height for use as spanking benches. An idea began to form about how some order might have used these stones and their ideas for penitence. Isn't culture wonderful?
This story is all the product of my imagination (i.e., totally fictional). I have written this set in a monastery but with a few pronoun changes you can convert it to a nunnery if that is your preference. This is NY, have it your way! Oh, I know that the total strokes applied to the novice's butt is unreasonably high, but this is fiction and hospitals are not required.
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The new novice was very nervous. He knew that he had messed up this first week and he also knew that this evening the account books would have to be balanced. Confession was right after the midday meal preceding the Sabbath, then time for private prayer, contemplation and then… The confessor heard him out and prescribed additional prayers before the evening's assembly. Then he handled him a small bowl containing sixteen small tokens (counting chips) with the instruction to bring it to the cloister that evening as that was the measure of the chastisement due.
In the chapel, the novice noted that many others were carrying similar small bowls, but most had only three or four tokens and none more than ten. As it was a silent time, his questions could not be asked nor answered. Our novice prayed with great fervor that afternoon. The tokens were mesmerizing and somehow required constant fingering, just as Lieutenant Commander Queeg's steel balls did. The sun had, at last, reached down to the horizon and the great bell rang to summon all to the cloister. (No evening repast tonight.) In rank order each one stood by an arch on three sides of the cloister; there were nineteen arches and nineteen members of the order. The leader occupied the center archway of the fourth side.
Without any fanfare, the leader instructed those due for physical punishment to present themselves. The novice watched, wide-eyed, as member after member complied. Each member with a bowl lifted up his long robe and bent over the low wall exposing a faithful pair of buttocks and placed his token bowl at his side. The novice did the same. Leaning that way over the wall the novice saw that the casket in the passage way that had previously been always closed and locked was now open and the leader was selecting a paddle – a large heavy paddle. Then the nine others without bowls also selected their implements from among the paddles (both wooden and leather), straps (of various kinds) and canes.
A small bell was rung and the leader started to walk around the cloister with the members bent over with their butts exposed and at risk. When he reached the first set of waiting gluteal muscles, the leader brought the paddle down on them with a resounding crack. The leader proceeded to the next one while the next in the paddlers' line got to the first. The novice heard the leader's paddle strike and then the next one's strap strike. With ten swinging at the other ten, the novice lost track in the seemingly continuous sound of butts being struck. Eventually the leader reached the novice. The novice then tasted the first blow on his behind in many years. It stung and pained him greatly. The novice had not heard any of the others cry out so he bit his tongue and remained mute as he received the first blow from each of other members of the order in the cortege. After the last had delivered the stroke on his already red bottom, a token was taken from his bowl. One down, fifteen to go; actually that is fifteen times ten. This was not the most pleasant of thoughts.
The small bell rang again. The spankers' parade started again. The novice again waited. Then something new. The last in the spanking parade said: "Your bowl is empty; you may get up." Again the novice's behind was struck ten times. Another token was taken. Fourteen (times ten) to go thought the novice.© YLeeCoyote
The parade reformed. The novice saw the one who punishment was completed at the big box selecting a paddle and joining the procession. It did not take long and the horrid thoughts were confirmed. This round was eleven swats to each waiting fundament.
The small bell rang again. The caravan started again. Three more had reached their prescribed counts and were told to get up. The small bell rang several times more. The novice still had five tokens. The others' punishments were all done. His nether regions did not seem so distant after more than seven score blows. And still another five score to go. The thought was horrifying.
Two more rounds and the novice gave in to the pain. Each contact caused the novice to howl. The last in the parade reached for a token but the leader spoke sharply and crisply: "LEAVE IT." The novice heard the token fall back into the bowl. The tiny chip sounded like a thunderclap to the novice. The small bell was struck and the leader started again. The heavy paddle fell on the novices battered butt still again quickly followed by eighteen others. The novice had learnt not to yell but now had another problem. Crying. He was bawling like a baby. The novice had lost control just like a little kid and was sobbing uncontrollably.
Oblivious to the wailing, the cavalcade continued until the novice's bowl was empty. The paddles, straps and canes were returned to the box which was closed and locked by the leader. The sharp snap of the lock could barely be heard by the novice although it was much louder than that of the chip landing in the bowl.
The battered novice remained in position for a long while. Eventually he returned to his cell and slept prone each night for the entire careful week. At the next confession, the novice received only four tokens. When he should have been in prayer and contemplation that afternoon about himself he instead wondered if any one had received more. Of course, he would have to confess this sin next week, but he couldn't help this sinful musing.
© Copyright A.I.L., August 21, 1997
The URL for this page is: https://yleecoyote.asslr.org/EveningPenitenceCloister.html
Last updated: September 15, 2023