Citizen Kern

- by Cartell

Supplied by the author to SirJeff's Ponygirls.
Do not replicate without author's permission.

Chapter 1: Remembrance

People who see her out shopping cannot guess the secrets she hides. She just looks an ordinary woman who is approaching middle age; her blank face says nothing of what has endured. As she pays for her goods in the supermarket, the checkout girl cannot guess that this customer has been worked in harness, and flogged at the post. When she unloads her trolley into the boot of her car, she winces slightly, for still her back pains her; it will take many years to heal the damage the whip has done. But she does not blame her brother, who has gone to his rest; he was only following where his compulsions took him. He is a god now; he showed her the only truly satisfying way to live, oh no, she does not blame him at all. But she does blame someone.

The shopping loaded, she slams the tailgate shut, and she slips into the driver’s seat. Grasping the wheel, she stares rigidly ahead, and she remembers a morning in harness. Sally was beside her; together they strained to keep the buggy moving at a pace acceptable to their master Bob Kern; her brother, her owner, her torturer. He had become expert with the driving whip, constantly he would flick them with it, the lash picking and plucking at their flesh. A piece of skin lifted here, a bright spurt of blood there; he kept them in torment, but always they knew how much worse it would become if they failed him. But he was a good man, and now she wishes she had a photograph of him.

She starts the engine, and eases the car out of its parking place. Reaching the exit, she checks her rear-view mirror. There is just one car behind her, a woman in a Cherokee, with two kids in the back.  She does not think that the police would use children as a cover, but she is not entirely sure, so she keeps one eye on the Cherokee in the mirror as she heads back towards the motorway. Before she reaches the entry ramp, the Cherokee turns off, so she feels a lot happier. The traffic is a slow crawl around Birmingham, but then eases off, and soon she is cruising through Staffordshire. Gradually, she is able to relax, but she knows that she will only ever feel really at ease when she has whipped the skin off Estelle’s back, when she has immersed the girl in a sea of pain, and heard her croaking and crying.

Manchester slips past on the right, Jenny Kern does not notice it. There is dreamy smile on her face as she remembers the happy days, when there was no greater pleasure than to feel her brother slap her rump, and say ‘good girl.’ When he would say things like that, when she had pulled the buggy well and pleased him, then she could forget the itchy trickling of blood down her back, and revel in the completeness and rightness of her life as his slave. Her memory tells her rewarding tales of those golden days, and does not trouble her with too many disturbing recollections of fear and pain.

There had been three of them in that household, the master, Jenny, and Sally. The master, with his wonderful clarity of thought, had seen exactly how things should be; he understood the natural order. Kept in chains, and worked under the lash, Jenny and Sally had known precisely what their place was. In her new life, Jenny came across so many people who did not have knowledge of their proper place, and of course they were unhappy. She thinks back to the bored and lazy checkout girl at the supermarket, that one would clearly benefit from having her back licked by a rasping leather tongue. Her smile broadens, but turns to a frown as she remembers how a maggot had ruined their perfect apple of a universe, a skinny girl that her brother had paid a stupid amount of money for, the little bitch Estelle.

Somehow, and it is a mystery to Jenny, Estelle had wormed her way into the master’s affections, Jenny had actually seen that sly and calculating pump sucking the juices from her brother. Worse than that, Estelle had become the mistress of his other slaves. Jenny flushes with anger and embarrassment as she remembers Estelle stripping her for punishment, strapping her to the post, and lacerating her back with the driving whip. The agony of the last time Estelle had whipped her is a special memory; it had been a totally undeserved punishment, and Estelle herself had run away that very day. Jenny will remember that day, when she gives Estelle her runaway’s flogging. But she will not let the runaway die on the post, she will work her for day after day, using the brutal efficiency her brother taught her. What joy it will be to have Estelle in harness; but her recipe for happiness lacks just one ingredient, Estelle herself. She sighs, checks her mirrors, and eases into the inside lane, ready for the turn-off to home.

She swings into the exit lane, touches the brakes before the roundabout, and then turns the car right, back over the motorway. Soon she passes through the small town of Over Kellet, she is nearly home. Her turning to the left comes up quickly; she is gratified to be alone on this minor road, and she hums happily as she drives to the end, where her gateway is. She has to leave the car to open the gate, she is careful to padlock the gate behind her when she has driven the car through. There is a short driveway to the house; Cypress trees on both sides line it. Emerging from the tunnel of branches, she at last pulls up in front of her house, and switches the engine off.

Cautious, always cautious, she stands by the car for a few seconds, just listening. There is nothing but the raucous cries of rooks, and the mechanical chattering of magpies. This is the start of her security routine; she walks around the house, checking for signs of forced entry, for anything out of place. She checks the three small pebbles she always places on each window ledge, and she carefully examines the soft soil of the flowerbeds that surround the building on three sides. Moving away from the house, she slowly walks through the garden; she does not expect to see anything, for she knows she is no tracker, but she savours the air, seeking a hint of aftershave, or perhaps a few molecules of tobacco smoke. All her surroundings bring her only comfort; there is no hint of danger.

Relaxing, she comes to the potting shed at the end of the garden. Inside the shed, in a bag of dry straw, is her outside emergency kit, a Sig-Sauer pistol and five thousand pounds in cash. She has never fired the gun, but she knows that if she ever has to use it the range will be point-blank, so she sees no need for target practice. A quick press of the release button, and the magazine drops into her hand; the top round has the tiny scratch she made, the weapon has not been interfered with. Now she looks through the shed doorway, across the garden, at the blindly staring windows of the house. It is safe, she can feel it in her bones, and so she replaces her emergency kit in the straw bag, and leaves the shed. If animal instinct had warned her of danger in the house, she would have put the pistol and the cash in her handbag, and driven away. But that dreaded day has not come, she returns to the front of the house, and unlocks the door.

Standing in the hallway, she again listens carefully for a few seconds. The slow tick of the living room clock is audible, and then there is a loud click as the freezer compressor kicks in, but these are the sounds of normality.  She goes into the kitchen, fills the kettle, and plugs it in. While the kettle boils, she goes upstairs to her bedroom, and she changes her navy blue suit for jeans and a sweater, then she clatters back downstairs to the kitchen. Sitting on a stool, she sips her coffee, and she allows herself a cigarette. From the kitchen window, she can see north, over her unkempt meadow, across the tiny River Koor, and to the road beyond. The light is fading fast now; she stubs out the cigarette, drains her cup, and hops off the stool. In the hallway there is a cupboard under the stairs, from this she fetches a whip; it is time to work the ox.

* * * * * *

Night has long fallen when Jenny returns the whip to the cupboard. She wanders into the kitchen in something of a daze; without turning the light on, she leans on the sink and gazes out of the window, breathing deeply.  The sky has cleared, and the stars gleam heartlessly over the dark landscape; there is no moon and she cannot see the far end of her meadow, although there is a hint of the rippling river beyond. Gradually, her breathing returns to normal, she turns away from the sink and makes her way upstairs, still in darkness.

Jenny turns the bathroom light on, and immediately clamps her hands over her face, before she can see herself in the mirror. Slowly, ever so slowly, she opens her fingers, and peeks out at the stranger in the glass. A smile spreads across the stranger’s face as her hands fall from her face, and Jenny feels very happy with herself. Singing softly, she undresses, and then steps into the shower to wash away the day’s sweat and the blood that is drying under her fingernails.

Naked, and still slightly damp, Jenny climbs into bed. For a while, she again thinks back to the good days, and a sharp image of Sally floats across her mind. The black girl had been a peach, and very strong as well, but she could not compare with the power of the ox. Feeling the satisfied warmth of any good citizen, Jenny drifts into sleep.



Coming Next... Chapter 2: The Ox