"Gavin, quit looking out that window. And move the stool away from there." Jack put his book on the nightstand beside the bed. "Come on, it's 11:00. Get into bed."
Still standing on the stool, peering through the blinds, Gavin whined, "But Jack, there's something going on over there. I KNOW there is."
Rolling his eyes, Jack thudded on his pillow twice and laid his head down. "I'm not going to tell you again. Get in bed."
"What if she's being held hostage over there?" Gavin asked from beneath the blinds, still not making any move to do as he was told.
"One." Jack turned over on his side and sunk deeper into his pillow.
"You're an officer of the court. It's your duty..." Gavin huffed into the blinds.
"Two...and I really should let you know, I'm stopping at three." Jack pulled the covers up over his shoulder.
Turning from the blinds, but not making any move to step off the stool, Gavin said, "It IS your du....”
”Thr....” Jack shifted in bed.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!"
Gavin quickly jumped off the stool; picking it up, he carried it to its proper place at the corner of the room. He then jumped into bed.
Jack sat up in bed as soon as Gavin's body hit the mattress. He turned and sent Gavin a glare.
"What? I was in bed before you finished three, wasn't I?" Gavin asked, his eyes peering out from under the covers he held over him like a shield.
Shaking his head, Jack sighed. "Just barely. Now turn off your light and go to sleep."
Reaching out from under his cotton shield, Gavin flicked the lamp off. Turning on his side, he stared at the window where he'd just been staked out. After several minutes passed, he sighed loudly.
"Jack, we really should go over there a… OW!" Gavin yelped as Jack's big hand swatted him from beneath the covers.
"I don't want to hear another word." Shifting in bed once again, Jack turned over on his left side, placing an arm over Gavin's waist, and snuggled into his neck.
Rubbing the sting from his backside, Gavin felt Jack's breath on his neck. Well, he just wouldn't say another word. He'd just do some investigating on his own tomorrow. The nosey Mrs. Ethel Masterson from next door would do the same thing if she thought someone had kidnapped him.
The Animals, or something like that, were rapping though the speakers, complaining about all the things they hadn't gotten done because they were high. Jack lifted his head as a few of the words caught his ear. God, he should really sit Gavin down and discuss the finer points of music with him. Gavin had won the coin toss, so he got to pick the radio station for the first hour. Jack only had about ten more minutes and then he could turn it to his station. He couldn't wait!
Jack was painting the rails on the back porch. Gavin was supposed to be painting the trim around the basement windows, but had disappeared into the shed at the back of the house.
When he hadn't returned fifteen minutes later, Jack put the paintbrush he was using into the cup of water sitting beside the paint can. Wiping his hands on his jeans, he walked towards the shed, searching the area around it for any form of life.
Opening the shed door, he peered in. No Gavin. Shutting the door, Jack walked around to the back of the shed. He noticed the bushes that separated their property from Mrs. Masterson's mashed to one side. Sighing, Jack decided to follow his instincts.
Stepping over the mangled brush, Jack made his way through Mrs. Masterson's yard and walked around to the side of her house.
Not in the least surprised to find Gavin, standing on a cement block, fingers gripped to the window trim that looked into Ethel Masterson's dining room.
Hands on his hips, Jack leaned his head back and stared up into the sky. Wondering what it was about Gavin McCourt that had him searching upwards, more often than not, praying for patience.
"Okay, Sherlock, get down from there. NOW!" Jack barked, a little louder than he intended.
Startled, Gavin looked over at the source of that bark, a little to fast. Loosing his grip on the trim of the window, his foot twisted on the block and he landed with a thud on the soft grass below.
"Jaack! You scared the hell out of me." Gavin complained, glowering up at Jack.
"Apparently I don't scare you enough." Jack walked over to Gavin, holding out a hand to help him to his feet.
Gavin eyed that hand for a moment, wondering if he might be better off staying where he was. Jack didn't waste any time, he just bent over and grabbed an arm, pulling him to his feet.
"I just thought I'd check on Mrs. Masterson. See for myself if she was okay, you know." Gavin took a step back and held out his palms.
Jack's hands went back to his hips, giving Gavin a look that said his patience was now gone.
"Gavin, have you tried knocking on the door? Maybe ASKING her if she was okay?" Shaking his head, Jack didn't wait for an answer.
Grabbing Gavin by the arm, he marched him up the stairs to the door of Mrs. Masterson's back porch and knocked on it.
"Jack, what ARE you doing. We don't know for sure what's going on in there. Someone could have a GUN! Maybe we should call for backup." Gavin whispered loudly, grabbing Jack's arm.
Jack blinked his eyes, then shook his head again. Gavin's imagination never ceased to amaze him. Before he had a chance to respond to those ridiculous statements the door opened.
”Yes, may I help you?" An elderly gentlemen in a navy blue cardigan and tan pants asked through the screen.
"Hello, sir. I'm Jack Ryan and this is Gavin McCourt. We live next door." Jack smiled at the man, just as friendly as you please.
Opening the screen door, the man stepped out onto the porch. "Oh yes, Ethel has mentioned you both. I've not had the opportunity to meet you as yet. I'm Thomas Crandell, a friend of Ethel's.”
Gavin would bet his last dollar that Mrs. Masterson had mentioned plenty about them. The old biddy had never said a pleasant word to them since they'd bought the house.
Shaking Mr. Crandell's hand, Jack said, "It's nice to finally meet you. We've seen you around, but like you said, the opportunity to introduce ourselves never came about."
"Oh, you young people, always coming and going," the old man smiled at Jack.
"Is Mrs. Masterson around by any chance?" Jack asked, when he heard Gavin mumble under his breath.
Looking back over his shoulder, the old man glanced into the house through the screen. "No, she's not here right now. Is there something I can do to help you?"
"Oh no. We just hadn't see her in a few days, and decided to check on her." Jack looked over at Gavin. "Isn't that right, Gavin?"
Gavin gave Jack a subtle glare.
"Oh, that's so nice of you. Ethel said she doesn't neighbor much and it's good to know that there are people who look out for her. She should be back in a few minutes. Would you like to come in and wait?" The old man was beaming.
"No, we won't bother you. We're working on the house. But if *either* of you need anything, just give a yell." Jack shook the man's hand again, and started down the stairs.
"Thank you! We'll do that. It was so nice meeting you both." The man stood on the back porch watching Jack and Gavin walk back through the yard. He waved once before going back into the house.
"WHAT was THAT all about? The man could have her in there tied up and you just say ‘give a yell if you need anything.’ WHO are you? Andy Griffith?" Gavin complained, pushing his way back through the brush into their backyard.
As they stepped on to their property, Gavin felt Jack grab his arm with one hand, while the other hand landed with a crack on his backside.
"OW!" Gavin covered his butt and looked back at Jack. "What was that for?"
"Your imagination is getting a little out of control, buddy boy." Jack pointed at the mangled shrubs. "Fix these and then get back to work."
"Imagination! Imagination!" Gavin turned around to face Jack. "Didn't you notice how sneaky he was acting?"
"Gavin, enough! This habit you have of making up stories for people you see on the street has got to stop. The man is apparently a friend of Mrs. Masterson's. A *good* friend if you get my meaning. He's apparently staying there and maybe...just maybe....they're a little uncomfortable letting people know that." Jack kept walking towards the porch with every intention of getting back to work.
Gavin followed him, muttering under his breath. "How did you get ALL that, from THAT conversation? Good God, Jack! People that age don't have *friends* like that. It would give them both a heart attack or something."
Jack stopped mid-stride and turned around slowly. "I don't want you bothering them. I don't want you snooping over there and I *don't* want to hear *another* word about it. Is... that.... clear!”
Pointing back at the shrubs, Jack said, "Fix the shrubs and get back to work. Now, Gavin!"
Gavin turned around and stomped back towards the shrubs. How in the hell did Jack figure out all that in only a few minutes? There was NO way those two old geezers were *friends*. The old man had probably murdered the old bat and then just took over the house. He'd read about stuff like that.
He'd get to the bottom of this if it was the last thing he did.
"Gavin, I have to run to Lowe's and pick up some more paint. Did you want to ride along?" Jack called to Gavin from the back porch steps.
Gavin stuck his head around the corner of the house, where he was sitting on the ground painting the basement window trim. Good, Jack would be gone for a while. Maybe he could do some investigating.
"No, I'll just keep painting. I only have two more windows and I have enough paint." Pushing himself up from the ground, Gavin walked towards Jack, stopping on the third stair.
"I'm just going to wash my hands and then I'll head out. I should only be half hour at the most. You need me to pick up anything else?" Jack asked, leaning down from the top of the porch to kiss Gavin on the forehead before heading into the house.
"Mmm, no," Gavin answered, looking up at Jack, making sure he was on his way.
Gavin went back to his painting until he heard the garage door open. As soon as the SUV had pulled onto their street, Gavin went into action.
Heading back towards the shed, Gavin pushed his way through the brush again and made his way back up Mrs. Masterson's yard. Looking at the back of the house, he tried to think of the best way to get any evidence he might need.
He thought about climbing the lattice and looking in the bedroom windows, but since he was afraid of heights, that might not be the best way to go about it.
He noticed the mudroom door was open and decided he'd just sneak in there and listen. Maybe he could hear something from down there.
Opening the screen door, he snuck in and waited before going any further. He couldn't hear any voices from here.
Walking up the three stairs, he stopped at the entrance to what was probably the kitchen. Leaning his ear to the door, he listened again for any voices.
Not hearing any, he opened the door slowly and peered around it. Searching the kitchen from the crack he didn't see anyone, so he decided it would be safe to go in a little further.
As quietly as he could, he tiptoed a few steps until he was at the archway to the dining room. He still didn't hear anything.
Then a chill ran down his spine as he heard what sounded like a scream. His eyes widened. GOD, he was murdering her. He knew it all along. Jack should've listened to him. He had to do something quick.
Spotting a large grill spatula on the counter in the corner of the kitchen, he grabbed it and ran through the house and up the stairs in the direction of that scream.
"I'M COMING ETHEL!"
As he turned his SUV down their street, Jack spotted several police cruisers in front of Mrs. Masterson's house. The whole neighborhood seemed to be out; most were standing in the yards and around the cruisers.
"What in the hell's going on?" He mumbled under his breath. A cruiser was blocking the entrance to the drive, so he parked on the street and looked over to the house, searching the faces of the people lining the streets in hopes of spotting Gavin.
He had a very unpleasant feeling he wouldn't find him there among the crowd. Oh, it didn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what in the hell had happened here.
It wasn't a murder. There were no hostages. No kidnappers.
No, this was a circus and he was sure the ringleader was none other than.....Gavin McCourt.
Climbing out of the SUV, Jack slammed the door shut. He marched like a man on his way to battle. The spectators gathered on the street and in the yard parted as he approached them, each one of them knowing from the look in the man's eyes and the purpose in the man's step that he was someone on an important mission. Jack stared straight ahead, his eyes never wavering from the front door of Ethel Masterson's house. He continued his march straight up the stairs and on to the front porch.
A policeman stopped him as he got to the door; even he eyed the man somewhat warily. "Excuse me, but...”
"Jack Ryan, District Attorney. Can you tell me what the problem is?" Jack pulled out his wallet and showed his ID.
After checking the ID, the policeman said, "Well, I don't really know. This elderly couple found an intruder and ....”
"An intruder, huh? Now, isn't that interesting. I'll just go on in and talk to this.....intruder." Jack opened the front door and walked in...to utter chaos.
Mrs. Masterson was sitting on the couch in her robe. Mr. Crandell, also in a robe, was sitting beside her. He had an arm around her shoulder, trying to calm her.
She was having none of that. Pointing a finger, she hollered
"I WANT HIM ARRESTED!"
Following that finger to the HIM she was referring to, Jack shook his head and looked at the ceiling, praying once again for patience.
And, of course, not finding any.
Gavin was standing in front of the fireplace, with his hands handcuffed behind him.
"I'm telling you, I thought she was being held hostage. I was only trying to......help?" Gavin's eyes widened at the sight of the fire-breathing dragon standing at the entrance to the room.
"Maybe I can be of some assistance here." Every eye in the room turned to look at him, hope in their eyes that maybe someone could finally make sense of this mess. Jack's eyes were only fixed on Gavin.
"Well, I must say I'm glad your here. He…he... came storming into our bedroom ...and, " Mrs. Masterson clutched her robe. "He's INSANE!"
"Ethel dear, I think he thought you were in trouble." Mr. Crandell patted her shoulder. "Why, I think that was a brave thing to do, when you think about it. He deserves a medal. Don't you think so, Jack?"
Jack's eyes narrowed even more, if that were possible. "Oh, I can't begin to say what all he deserves."
Gavin decided since he had an ally of sorts in Mr. Crandell, now might be a good time to add a little defense of his own.
"You see, I heard her screaming and I thought.....well, I just grabbed the spatula and....I ....
Jack's eyes narrowed, his nostrils flared. "A.....*spatula*!"
Shaking his head, Jack decided that was a whole other conversation. He needed to keep this conversation focused on the "why" before he started in with the "what".
Crossing his arms across his chest, his muscles flexing with every movement, Jack asked, "Where *were* you when you heard this...uh...*scream*?"
Gavin bit his lip and chewed a second. "In the...kitchen."
Nodding his head like he completely understood, Jack asked, "Whose kitchen?"
Gavin turned to the policeman that was standing beside him. He whispered to the man under his breath.
"Can you arrest me... now?"
Standing in his corner, Gavin sighed. If this had turned out the way he had thought it was going to, they'd be making arrangements to present him with the Outstanding Citizens Award.
He was only trying to help, wasn't he? That SURE didn't seem to matter to Jack. Just because they didn't NEED his help, didn't mean that his heart wasn't in the right place. If Jack thought about it calmly, he was sure to see that.
God, Jack was going to KILL him.
Who would have EVER thought that Mr. Crandell and Mrs. Masterson were *friends*. When Gavin yelled "I'm coming, Ethel” ...well, he just would never have imagined that Ethel was....coming too.
A shudder went up Gavin's back. The thought of it was enough to make a man ill.
But SEEING it was enough to make a man puke.
That should be punishment enough. Gavin thought he'd need extensive counseling to get over the image. Of course, Jack didn't see it that way. He thought he'd actually seen smoke coming from the man's ears.
Hearing Jacks' footsteps coming down the stairs, Gavin cringed. He hoped Jack had calmed down some.
"Come. Here." The softly said clipped words were more commanding than any yell ever could be.
Gavin turned from his corner and slowly walked towards Jack, who was standing in the middle of the room, pointing his finger to the floor in front of him.
Holding his hands out in front of him, Gavin scrunched his eyes closed and peeked out under his lashes.
"I can… explain," he said, knowing there really wasn't a GOOD explanation. But smoke was still billowing out the man's ears, and he needed to stall for time.
Jack just jerked his finger again, pointing at the floor.
Taking the few steps needed to reach his executioner, Gavin stared at the floor.
"What explanation could you POSSIBLY have that could make any sense of this at all, Gavin?" Jack crossed his arms over his chest. "I told you NOT to bother them. I told you to LEAVE them alone. YOU just chose NOT to listen."
Gavin kept his eyes on the floor. Putting it in that simple way, he figured he really didn't have any explanation. Regardless of the fact that he was TRYING to help. Regardless of the fact that they DIDN'T need his help, or want it for that matter, it all came down to the fact that Jack had told him NOT to. The why's and how's of it didn't really matter. It was as simple as that.
"I guess when you put it that way...I really don't have an explanation." Gavin sighed, peering up at Jack, his hands behind his back.
"Then get the paddle." Jack pointed at the hutch, then made his way over to sit on the couch.
Letting out a shaky breath, Gavin slowly headed for the hutch. Opening the drawer, he retrieved the torture device and shuffled back to where Jack was sitting. He held the paddle out, and as soon as Jack took it, he began unbuckling his belt. No use waiting for him to be told to do it. Letting his jeans fall to his ankles, he slipped his fingers into his boxers and pushed them all the way down.
Jack guided him over his knees, pressing his palm to the small of Gavin's back. The first crack of that paddle could probably be heard clear over to Ethel Masterson's house. Gavin's yell could probably be heard as well. He grabbed and held onto the bottoms of Jack's jeans, not wanting to make the mistake of jerking his hand back to protect his now flaming backside.
That paddle rose and fell like an orchestra baton in a steady rhythm, Gavin’s yelps and pleas adding to the chorus, almost in soprano. His legs kicked wildly, the toes of his tennis shoes thudding like a drum on the floor. His backside felt like fireworks were exploding with each crack of that paddle. He let go of the hem of Jack's jeans, unable to keep his hand from trying to stop the conductor from continuing with this song.
The paddle never stopped rising and falling. Jack just grabbed the arm with his left hand and held it to the small of Gavin's back, never missing a beat. After several more verses the finale came, and the soprano-like yells turned bass. His voice hoarse from yelling, his shoulders shaking with his deep sobs, Gavin lay over Jack's lap unable to move.
Jack rubbed his back and blew out a breath at the sight of Gavin's red, flaming backside. He let his hand rub down his back and over Gavin's bottom, feeling the heat that radiated from it. After a few minutes of rest, Jack lifted him up and sat Gavin on his lap, rocking him back and forth until his shudders slowed down and he buried his head in Jack's neck.
After one last shudder, Gavin lifted his head, whispering in Jack's ear. "I'm sorry… I didn't...listen."
"Shhhh...I know." Jack just kept rubbing his bottom. "That's over now."
"And...I...really…did…think I was helping." Gavin sniffed, lifting his hand down from Jack's neck to wipe his nose. "I know ...that doesn't ...excuse not listening though."
Leaning forward in his seat, but not letting go, Jack reached for a tissue and wiped Gavin's face.
"That's what we just dealt with now. You not listening, Gav. It's over and hopefully you'll remember the next time I tell you you're not to do something." Placing the tissue over Gavin's nose he said, "Blow."
After he blew, Gavin said, "I'll re…member!"
"Tomorrow we'll deal with the fact that you ran up those stairs, after hearing that scream, not knowing for sure what you were facing up there. You never thought about calling the police, just charged up there, with only a...God!....a ..*spatula*.... for back up." Shaking his head, Jack's brow creased in the middle.
"What were you going to do the guy if he WAS trying to harm her… Spank him?! The sight of that spatula might be something that gives you pause...*most* of the time. But I doubt very seriously if it would have meant a whole hell of a lot to someone holding a gun." Jack pushed the hair away from Gavin's forehead.
Gavin's red, watery eyes widened and he started to protest. "Of course I wasn't goin....... ‘Tomorrow!’ You...mean...!"
"Yes! I mean." Jack nudged Gavin off his lap and they both stood beside the couch. "Not that there was a chance in a million that there was anything up those stairs but two elderly, but quite *friendly*, people."
Jack ran his hand through his hair. "However, you didn't know that at the time. You truly believed someone was being murdered. So, instead of calling the police, or running for help, you just charged up there to what, in your mind, was a dangerous situation."
Crossing his arms over his chest, Jack gave Gavin the sternest look he had in his little bag of faces. "And that we WILL deal with! Tomorrow!"
"But Jaaack, I won't even be able to SIT tomorrow," Gavin whined, still looking so pitiful. He didn't have to try looking that way this time.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll be fine by tomorrow." Jack said, not relenting at all, but the sight of Gavin's pitiful face did cause him to lean down and plant a kiss above each of those red puffy eyes.
Closing his red eyes and shaking his head, Gavin tried one more time in getting his sentence revoked for time already served.
Apparently he wasn't getting through to Jack just how traumatic this whole experience had been for him. Gavin was sure that if he could make Jack understand how AWFUL it had been, he surely wouldn't spank him again tomorrow.
Gavin didn't even want to THINK about it, let alone give voice to the horrible images that still flashed in his brain. But he knew he had little choice. He would have to.....tell Jack about it, or be spanked again tomorrow.
"Jack, I've already been punished enough for going up those stairs, don't you think?" Gavin wiped his nose with one arm, while rubbing his still bare and red flaming backside.
Jack shook his head. "Gavin, I thought you understood. That spanking was for disobeying me, after I told you not to go over there. Tomorrow you'll be spanked for running in to what you *thought* was a dangerous situation....without any thought at all."
Jack still didn't get it. He knew now he was going to HAVE to give him all the gory details. Gavin gave a face of pure disgust.
"But Jack....... I SAW Ethel Masterson........ NAKED!"
His body shuddered.
"I think that's punishment enough for ANY man. It's got to be worth at least..... TEN spankings."
Unfortunately for Gavin....Jack didn't agree!