I was the one who said it. I don’t know why. Like many things I regret saying, it came flying out of my mouth during a moment of frustration. Well, a whole week of frustration, really, but that was the pinnacle. When Quint told me to get ready for bed and I realized yet another day had passed with nothing to show for it.
What had I been doing all day? I couldn’t even remember. There was a comedy special on Netflix, and some online browsing of the same old websites I always visit, and… oh, yeah, I took out the trash. My one claim to productivity. Whoop de doo.
So as Quint climbed into bed next to me and reached to turn off the lamp, I said, “If I don’t finish a song tomorrow, you can give me a spanking.”
He paused, then rolled over to face me, leaving the lamp still lit behind him. It was hard to tell what his expression was, but his voice sounded incredulous. “Pardon?”
“I mean it!” And most of me did. My butt sent up tingles that suggested it did not. Ignoring them, I pulled the covers to my chin. “I’ve been telling myself I’d write this song all week, and I keep putting it off or sitting down to write it and everything comes out terrible so I just turn on Will & Grace reruns instead. And I haven’t even left the apartment, barely. I’ve turned into a lazy, untalented lump!”
His eyebrows went up. I didn’t need to see his face to know that. “If you continue to speak about yourself in those terms, you won’t need to wait for a spanking, young man.”
I flushed and turned onto my back. Just in case. “Sorry.”
“What is the song about?”
“I’m trying to write a Christmas song,” I said. “I don’t know why I bother. No one even likes new Christmas music. But one of my fans emailed asking me to, and I feel like I’m disappointing them if I don’t.”
Quint pulled me closer. His hand rubbed my back. “Angel, I’m sure your fans will understand if you aren’t feeling inspired to write Christmas music.”
“But I haven’t written any music all week,” I said, half into his neck. “I haven’t even practiced much. It’s like I lost my mojo.”
He was quiet for a moment. The whole apartment was too damn quiet. Seb had gone to visit his family for Thanksgiving.
“Alright,” he said. “I’m going to work from home tomorrow and make sure you’re practicing, at the very least. At the end of the day, we can discuss your progress and see if you do need a spanking.”
My stomach flipped. Yet having it laid out like that, all concrete and planned, helped. I knew tomorrow wouldn’t be another day full of self-loathing and discontentment. He’d see to it.
And he did. He didn’t even wait until the end of the day. When ten AM rolled around and I’d accomplished nothing but indoor fetch with Jagger for an hour, he came out of the bedroom, confiscated the ball, and swatted me over to my synth.
“I expect to hear you playing until lunch,” he said, planting me in the chair on my heated behind. “I don’t care what. Simply play. You asked for my help, and you’re getting it. Understood?”
Amazing how fast the wall of resistance I’d been running into all week disappeared with him standing over me with his arms crossed. He stayed there long enough for me to fall into a tune, then went back to his desk.
I played Christmas carols at first. That morphed into improv. It sounded horrible, but whenever I stopped for more than a few seconds, he called, “Theodore,” from the bedroom. So I played the same chord progression. Over. And over. And over. And over. Then I slammed my fingers on the keys and spun the chair around.
“See!” I shouted down the hallway. “I suck! I can’t think of anything new! I’m a hack and– I– I didn’t mean it!”
Too late. He was coming toward me yet again with that determined set to his mouth. He grasped my elbow as I rolled away, tugged me firmly to my feet, and set off, pushing me in front of him. In the bedroom, I got flipped over his knee for a swift, hard spanking that left me out of breath and tearful.
“Now,” he said, holding me in his lap while I clung and snivelled. “Your choices are to lie on this bed where I can keep an eye on you and write a song—and I don’t care how bad it turns out, as long as it’s written—or lie on this bed where I can keep an eye on you and write lines. Which would you like to do?”
“S-song,” I said.
“I will make sure that you’re actually writing it.”
“I know. Thank you.”
I don’t know why I said that, either.