The advertisement in the paper caught my eye immediately: Seeking tutor for a recalcitrant young boy in need of strict discipline. Salary is commensurate with experience. Forward resume to Mr. Edward Robertson, Box 23, Elmira. I found the word discipline particularly interesting.
I immediately sent my resume to the specified address, and, within four days received an answer, setting up an interview for the following week. Elmira was over two hundred miles from where I lived, so I took the train to Elmira on the day of the appointment and arrived at the home of Mr. Robertson by taxi at the requested hour.
The home was a large stone building, set well back from the road, on a winding driveway. My knock at the door brought an almost immediate response, and I was surprised to see a man, older than I was standing before me. Dressed fashionably in a conservative suit, the man was not at all what I had expected. He was muscular and tall. His smile was somewhat acerbic, as he asked me to enter and follow him into the spacious, well-appointed living room. When we were seated, he took almost half a minute before he spoke, his eyes were assessing me like a tiger about to devour his dinner. When he finally spoke, his voice was loud and direct.
“Your resume impressed me, Mr. Lee. You seem to be well qualified for the job, but I’d like you to tell me a little about yourself.”
“Well, for some reason I’ve always wanted to teach. I started teaching high school as soon as I graduated, and I’ve been teaching ever since.”
“And how old are you again?”
“I’ll be twenty-three in August.”
“What made you decide to apply for this job in particular?”
“Well, to begin with, I like the idea of teaching in a one-on-one relationship. Teaching a bunch of teenagers can be a real chore, even when they’re fairly well behaved. And, frankly, I found the word ‘recalcitrant’ in your advertisement most interesting.”
I noticed an immediate spark of pleasure light up his eyes, and I knew I had the job at that moment.
“What is it about this boy that makes him so obstinate?” I asked.
“Oh, Mr. Lee, he’s been a handful ever since I had to take him in. Thomas, my nephew, lived with his mother in some God-forsaken town in Alabama until my sister died a month ago. His father was killed in the war. My sister became very ill about four years ago, and she pulled Thomas out of school to take care of her two years ago.
“Now, Thomas isn’t the smartest kid on the block, to begin with, so he’s badly in need of tutoring. Besides that, I find him defiant and rude, so I am forced to discipline him constantly.”
“How do you discipline him, if I may ask?”
“Certainly! I find a belt on his naked ass to be the most effective. Sometimes I revert to just a spanking if his backside is sufficiently bruised, but his rebellion is such that I feel I have to be as harsh as I can to offset his sulkiness.”
“Let me get him in here now, so you can meet him, and we’ll see if you want to take on my little problem child.”
A few moments later he had Thomas standing before me. He was dressed in only a pink thong, and he held his hands behind his back diffidently. With his head held low, he stared at the floor in front of him. It took no time at all to see that this boy was anything but difficult. He appeared to be about eleven or twelve with a slender, small frame. His feet were bare and, though his genitals appeared small, they were displayed prominently in the skimpy thong. His pale face was pretty, in a somewhat surreal way, with thin lips and a little snub nose. He continued to stare at the floor until his uncle spoke.
“Thomas, this is Mr. Lee. He has come to interview about tutoring you.”
There was a long pause.
“Say hello to Mr. Lee, Thomas!”
He looked up from the floor for the first time, and our eyes met momentarily.
His eyes then immediately returned to the floor.
“All right, you may return to your room now, Thomas.”
Without releasing his hands from behind his back, Thomas did a slight bow, turned, and left the room, climbing the stairway slowly. I found out later that the boy’s feet had been bastinadoed when he tried to run from one of his beatings. After he had returned to his bedroom, I spoke.
“He doesn’t seem very stubborn, Mr. Robertson. He appears shy to me.”
“Oh, that’s all an act, Mr. Lee. May I call you, Robert? And please call me Edward. Yes, he’s just trying to impress you, that’s all. The job is yours if you want it. I like your demeanor, and I get the impression we think alike in many ways. And, by the way, I give you permission to punish him as you see fit if you take the job.”
“Thank you, Edward. I’ll have to find an apartment nearby and move my belongings, but I would think I can be ready to start work by next Monday.”
“Oh, no, Robert! You’ll live here. I have a room right next to Thomas’ for you, and you’ll eat your meals here as well.”
Within minutes we had worked out my salary, not very large, but certainly fair with all the amenities. Edward ordered a taxi to take me to the train station, and I was on my way. I must say the prospects of this job had me fascinated, and the week following was deadly slow as I awaited the opportunity to begin tutoring and overseeing my charge.