Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Just Before I Off to Sunny Spain...

I will be off to Spain in a few hours; Carib Player, 12Km or so east of Marbella on the Costa Del Sol via Gatwick and Malaga, Back on the 27th or 28th - I am a little confused about it. Anyway, here are a couple of short extracts from the new book - not fully proofread / edited these, though. The title shall be: 'A Continuum of Discipline' but as has been kindly pointed out a spelling mistake had found its way onto the final cover design which I will deal with on my return (well, I am dyslexic). The book should be out one week after I return. Thanks to all those 'early worms' who pointed out the error! See you all in ten days, unless I find a WiFi point where I am staying.
Uncomfortably perched on the narrow bench seat of a modern copy of a cramped Victorian-styled school desk, its plastic tackiness adding to her discomfiture, a furtive glance up and to her right and those dulled eyes would meet with the equally soulless gaze of the window, one of three identical lining the wall. But she daren't - and besides, there was no relief to be had from monotony there, only whitewashed frosted glass cowering behind a guard of similarly whitewashed steel bars. To the front, no more than a couple of meters or so away, hung the reason why she daren't.
A single glimpse of the supple rattan, its heavier bamboo cane sibling and its leather-strap cousin and her eyes fluttered quickly back to her schoolwork; already she was falling behind with the dictation. Tears welling in those pretty deep violet eyes the realisation was finally dawning that there no matter how hard she tried, there always seemed to be some obstruction to her terminating her tenure, some excuse, some reason they could cite to justify extending her residence.
Discipline prevailed in this establishment, rigid, repressive, personality stifling control that threaded its way through every aspect of an inmate’s existence and insinuated itself between every fibre of a girl’s consciousness. Here a small cohort of girls in their late teens - and some even older – sat erect and attentive in polyester and rayon school uniforms underpinned by longline open-bottomed girdles, full-bodied and long-legged interlock cotton knickers, thick woollen stockings and ungainly bottle-green plastic T-bar shoes, fastened with white nylon buckles.
Girls that under other circumstances one might suspect prone to petulant sarcasm at the drop of a hat, or a smile from the wrong man - one who may have had the temerity to have aged, be balding or become fat, say – now responded contritely when addressed and curtsied prettily with knife-pleated hems between finger and thumbs. Here girls that might once have been fractious, sulky and belligerent – almost certainly rebellious in some way – waited compliantly with hair firmly plaited, scraped back from pale carbolic-scrubbed faces with nary a single curl left untamed to relieve the severity and tucked away beneath Victorian-style bonnets tied with bottle-green ribbons to match their uniforms.
Here Lessons commenced with fingertips on shoulders, heads erect, six pairs of eyes facing forwards and backs straight – today was no exception. But this was not even a school, not a proper school. It was a sham, merely something set up as a ‘behavioural psychology investigation’ in the bowels of a privately run psychiatric hospital and sanatorium. Not that the place was ever referred to as such – it was a ‘retreat’ where one might undergo ‘rehab’; if one could afford it. Nor were any of these cowed ‘schoolgirls’ actually of school age – all would have ordinarily been starting at university or just entering the job market. These were volunteers, hoping to make more in a three months tenancy than in lord knows how long in any other way. Except that once in place, no one seemed to leave – three months became six, became a year… even longer. But then this small group had been hand-picked to become ‘long-term’ from the start, their backgrounds investigated, their circumstances probed and cover stories put in place should anyone ‘come knocking’. Most had been runaways, grateful for a bed for the night let alone a respite from a winter that seemed to go on for ever.
Yes most were runaways that would never be missed, even if they were never seen on the streets again – most, but not all! Certainly not Lavinia Vitesse, her of the once waist-length jet locks and stunningly bright deep-violet eyes – her residence had been bought and paid for from day one. Not that this was intended to be the be-all and end-all of her existence, quite the opposite. This was merely a stepping stone on a carefully laid out path that somebody out there had had put in place for her.
A sombre yet imposing figure walked the floor between the two rows of cramped Victorian desks, up and down, up and down, the creaking of a tight leather skirt, the swish of expensive nylons and the tap, tap of high heels the only sound to break the oppressive wall of silence.
The teacher was standing over her now, craning over her work – a formidable woman; tall and imposing with corseted wasp waist, thrusting bustline under her silk shirt, huge dark eyes and jet-black hair swept up in a neat no-nonsense bun. She would see now, she would see she hadn’t kept up, couldn’t keep up – her attention had only strayed for a moment, but that’s all it took. It was inhuman, she’d tried to catch up, really tried, but the recorded dictation just went on and on regardless, monotonously, relentlessly droning on and on and on. Her beautifully made-up face bereft of humour, this teacher – and there were three - was particularly intolerant, and of even the smallest lapse in concentration. She carried a wickedly pliant riding switch in her gloved hand and didn’t hesitate to use it, whether it be for a slip in dictation or an incorrect answer, or the tiniest infraction of uniform regulations come to that.
“Hands out please, palms uppermost, left on top of right – you know the way, girl.”
The silent air whistled and was split with her scream. Not once or twice but three times – and repeated on each palm! She was learning the hard way that freedom could be as tenuous as a spidery signature scrawled on a crumpled document - and the longer they kept her there the more likely it would be that she would docilely sign on the dotted line the next time they told her to, just as she had the last time...and the time before that...and the time before that. But then, they didn't need her to sign anything, not any more – at least not to keep her here. It had all been dealt with, once and for all. It was all official now, unimpeachably legitimised at the sweep of a pen and overseen by three of the keenest minds in psychiatric practice, at least in so far as her incarceration went.
But there were other things a person’s signature might be required for. There were certain parties out there that would be anxious to obtain to hers - and those, geographically closer, only too willing to apply the necessary pressure to overcome any reluctance on her part. ‘The Unit’ ‘The department of Experimental Behavioural Psychology’ Whatever they called the place, it was merely a euphemism for what was in reality: a prison, a privately-run gaol for which one need not have committed any crime – at least not one that would be recognised as such by society at large...

Of Wayward Girls and of Immoral Women
Elsewhere... The woman reached out, proffering a bunch of photographs, each its own plastic pocket as if recently retrieved from a portfolio or archive. “Perhaps an example: the 'finished article', so to speak – our Pauline. That one was something of a tearaway – once.”
In the first photograph she had been handed, this 'Pauline' of theirs – she felt sure it was not the girl's true name - appeared somewhat younger than the seventeen years that she had been assured that the girl in fact was. A dark-haired girl, her long chestnut mane had been tightly braided each side before being coiled and then pinned up so as to form a plaited whirl on either side of her head, each fastidiously tied off in the centre by a large bow formed from a length of gloriously shiny broad pink and blue candy-striped satin ribbon. The effect managed to be somehow both severe and childish at the same time and was obviously not a style the girl would likely have chosen by choice off her own back. No, somebody had lavished time and imagination in devising that style for the girl and undoubtedly an element of humiliation had been at the forefront of his or her mind.
It made for a very disciplined look, an impression that was underlined by the high Eton-style blouse collar that buttoned tightly beneath the girl's chin and that seemed as if designed to cause her to carry her head tilted ever so slightly to the rear. The latter collar was tightened still further around her neck by a neatly knotted school tie that was in a soft pastel blue, diagonally striped by bars of baby pink so as to match the ribbons in her hair. The potential masculine severity of the blouse itself was softened by its pink and white vertical candy striping and by the overwhelming femininity of the - perhaps somewhat overstated - puffball shoulders, which along with the outdated styling of the collar, tended to give the impression of the garment owing more to the Victorian era than the present.
The fabric itself tended to add further to that impression of strangely-restrained childish femininity; the blouse had a definite sheen of satin about it, catching the light with a gloss to rival that of her hair ribbons, and yet at the same time gave the impression of smart crisp stiffness, as if starched in the traditional manner. Some sort of horrid man-made fibre was Madison guess; functional but hardly likely to be comfortable if worn for any extended period. Then again it was also Madison's guess that some degree of physical discomfort was the intention, to counterbalance the psychological discomfort the uniform was undoubtedly intended to create in the young girl.
No, clearly comfort didn't come into this equation at all - it was only a head and shoulders shot but already she had seen enough to realise that every detail had been worked out with one aim in mind; the imposition of a regime of the strictest discipline. The result could be seen in the girl's pretty sea-green eyes, washed clear of defiance almost as if brainwashed, and by the embarrassment painted on her cheeks as vividly as applied blusher. The girl possessed the sort of pretty, yet childish, oval face which, as devoid of makeup and well-scrubbed with carbolic as it was, appeared ageless.
The next photograph was a full length shot. The girl’s uniform was well-fitting, neat and pressed, her collar starched and her tie tightly and correctly knotted and placed. Madison’s practiced eye was instantly drawn to the creases at the elbow of the girl's pink and white candy-striped cotton blouse. As sharp as if the blouse had been new-on that very day, the crisp delineation of those wrinkles was matched, as if in deliberate opposition, by the featureless smoothness of the fairy-pink perfection that constituted the juvenile-styled school pinafore the girl had on over it, with its panelled flared skirt and square-topped, yet narrow-waisted, yoke.
The fabric making up the latter – at least as identified by Madison Bartlett's fairly-expert eye – was almost guaranteed to crease at the drop of a hat, yet it was as perfect as if freshly ironed. Taken together with what she had been told regarding the chronology of this shot, those two features - the steam iron-fresh smoothness of the dress and the hardly-worn crispness of the blouse - spoke of a young spirit curbed and wayward behavior constrained. Together it all implied one thing: Here was a young lady well-bowed under the heavy yoke of the strictest of discipline – Madison found herself having to take care so as not to give away her shortness of breath, having been quite overcome merely at the thought.

Copyright © 2011 Garth. P. ToynTanen

The moral rights of the author have been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the Publisher.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious as is the storyline – it is a work of complete fantasy and should be treated as such. Any resemblance to real events or real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters can be assumed to be over the age of 18 or the local age of consent in the reader’s region or jurisdiction.


Orage said...

How very strange! There were two comments yesterday!!!

susan o'keeffe said...

I am looking forward to reading the book when it is published. I have read Institutionalized Volume 1 & 2. My Partner Helen got it for me, as in a little way it mirrors our lifestyle to-gether. Helen likes to use the cane, the martinet and the leather strap, and firmly believes in teh use ofplastic pants as a means of showing her control.

Please keep up the wonderful work in this site.....we both love it.


Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait for the book. I loved your depiction of punishment to the hands.

Anonymous said...

The extract loks good, can't wait to read the book.


Toyntanen said...

Hi Orage! Yes, I’m back again!
You are right of course, Orage; you’re not going crazy or anything. In fact I think it was you yourself that pointed out the glaring typo that had crept on to my cover design, if memory serves me correctly.

Well I couldn’t leave that sitting there like that and luckily I had a little time that Tuesday morning before leaving for the airport to make a correction, though not sufficient to actually change the book cover itself (also I was using someone else’s computer that did not have the graphics package I use loaded). I did have on a data stick with me the updated version of the cover saved at the stage before I had entered the title text and so I decided to upload that version in place of the erroneously spelled version. It was simpler, easier and more time-efficient to avoid words of explanation by simply reposting the entry in its entirety (I was literally down to the last few minuets before my taxi was due at the time!).

Sorry about that, but I hope that explains things. I am grateful for you pointing out the error though – I doubt I’d have noticed for ages. My dyslexic brain just seems to skip over such things and I read it perfectly normally, even though the spelling might be something quite absurd!

Hi, too, Susan! Thanks for the intriguing comment. I wonder what you and you partner thought of the first two books – what parts most ‘shook your tree’ and which left you cold? Have you any last minute suggestions as I add the finishing touches to the third volume?

Thanks, too, to our two anonymous contributors, of which you will be able to read more in the main blog entry, when I post it up, later today.