Tales of the Season: Charlene's Story - Chapter 5


Another BigCloset TopShelf story.   Jane has her first interview with Charlie...   A toast... and to sleep!


Tales of the Season:
Charlene's Story

By Lisa Elizabeth


Chapter Five


Ultimatums and Indoctrination

Jane Thompson sat at her desk looking over the file on Charles Allen Hawkins. 'This one should fit into my program perfectly. I have been able to help many boys just like him gain control over their emotions and go on to lead productive lives.' She set the file to the side and opened her right bottom desk drawer. There were three new letters from her former students. One was a birth announcement, another a Ph.D. Graduation announcement and the third was an invitation to a wedding. All were from her previous students. Jane smiled as she looked at the new letters. 'This! Yes, this is what makes it all worthwhile.'

Jane was thinking about those three boys and their time in her charge when there was a knock on the door. She put away the letters and her photo album, rearranged the file on her desk, and then checked herself in the mirror next to her desk to insure she portrayed the correct image. In a final move she straightened her spine, took a deep breath and announced, "Enter!"

There was a short delay between Jane's 'enter' and the door actually opening. This gave Jane a chance o completely change her demeanor into that of the stern school mistress.

Charlie entered the room and walked to the front of her desk. Jane glanced up from the file folder to see who it was and said one word, "sit." It was a command, not a request.

Charlie looked at the chair and as quietly as he could he sat down to wait for Jane to finish what she was doing.

Jane thought to herself, 'Good, he's still scared and nervous. Just the way he should be at this time! Now, we will see just how volatile Mr. Hawkins truly is!'

"It appears that you like to fight! Is that true?" Jane demanded.

"I really don't like to fight. The other kids..." Charlie was cut off with a wave of Jane's hand.

"The other kids nothing! That is just a childish excuse for your lack of self control." Jane replied.

Charlie was a little miffed. He wasn't used to being cut off in mid sentence.

"I have also noticed you are a bit lacking in manners. Is this the reason these so called 'others' choose to pick on you?" Jane queried with a raised eyebrow.

"Lack of manners? What are you talking about? I haven't done anything wrong yet, that I know of." Charlie replied. "No one has ever picked on me for my manners. They always pick on me because of my size and my non-athletic build..." Another wave of Jane's hand silenced him.

Jane reshuffled the papers in Charlie's file, with a big sigh she closed the folder and removed her reading glasses. "Your past history indicates a spoiled child! Whether that is a product of your mother and stepfather trying to make up for your paternal father's abandonment, is not at issue here. If you don't like something someone has said or done, you strike out and hit them! That is no way for a young man to behave! Self-control and manners are what is needed for a young man to be successful in this world! Most young men realize this and grow up just fine, in spite of all the outside influences on them. You, however, have not learned this lesson as of yet! That appears to be my job and part of the reason you are here. Here you will learn the rules of society and how to interact CORRECTLY in all situations." Here Jane paused and got out of her chair and came around the desk.

Jane continued, "Showing initiative and leadership is one thing, bullying, demeaning and physical abuse of another will not be tolerated. These just show an open defiance of convention that will never be tolerated in this society."

Charlie was now a little more irritated. 'A spoiled child? What’s Mom’s divorce got to do with this? I showed self control, everyone I fought with deserved the beating they received. This lady is really a b****!'

Jane continued her lecture, "All these acts indicate an immature person. One who does not have the ability to control their own actions! In each case you have used the 'excuse' they made you do it! That is utter nonsense! I believe it is just a case of your own overblown and misguided ego!"

"Overblown ego?" Charlie asked.

Jane ignored the comment and continued on, "Thinking about it, I believe that this must be the case. Since that is a trait that is unacceptable, you must disabuse yourself of it, with my help, of course. Blindly following the crowd, like lemmings to the sea, is a ridiculous way to lead your life. It is not any individual action in your past but the total number of actions that lead me to believe you lack the common sense held by the majority of people your age."

Charlie's face flushed in anger at the accusations this 'old lady' was making.

Jane reached across her desk and picked up Charlie's file, "The victim of the beating will require surgical intervention to repair the damage to his nose... Does that sound like someone who exhibits common sense and self control?"

Charlie had been fuming about being called a spoiled brat and not having any common sense. However, when Jane reported that one of his last victims needed surgery for his nose, it took the wind right out of Charlie's sails. "I guess not." Was the mumbled reply.

"You guess not? I should think there would be no 'guessing' about it! Charles, you do realize that the path you have been on would eventually lead to jail?" Jane stopped to let that comment sink in.

"Jail? You mean like prison? I would never...I mean I didn't think..." Charlie was frantic.

"Young man, is your hearing impaired? You were given a choice, either juvenile detention, which is a nice way of saying 'jail' or coming here, were you not?" Jane looked down her nose at Charlie.

"Oh!...Yea, I chose here instead." Charlie replied in an unsure manner.

"Yea? What type of response is Yea? I see we will have to work on your vocabulary IF you stay here! Now listen closely, the path you were on would undoubtedly lead to jail time. This I am sure, unless you change your path by successfully completing the program I lay out for you. You are here because a number of people believe that there is an alternative to that path for you. That being the case I had to assure them that I could make you civilized enough to return home.

That seemed to snap Charlie to attention. He wasn't sure what type of program Jane was talking about and it scared him to think about the juvenile detention home as a jail. But when he thought about it, she was right! It was just a jail!

Jane continued after a short pause, "You see, Charles, I have had significant experience in developing a more refined and socially acceptable behavior in children of both sexes. I was, for many years, the headmistress of a prestigious girl's school named Eastmore. In that capacity I gained some small measure of success in teaching grace and polish to young people. Since we have met and I have had a chance to see you first hand, I am prepared to take on the challenge of teaching you a better way."

Jane stopped and let her last statement sink in. Charlie's eyes opened when he figured out he had been accepted into the program here at the academy.

"So...that means I can stay?" Charlie asked.

Jane looked at Charlie with a cold calculating stare. In her mind, this was the perfect time for her much rehearsed ultimatum. She half smiled as she thought about the number of boys who were scared stiff after this part of their ordeal.

"Let me put it to you this way", Jane started with finality in her voice, "It is beyond dispute that you will not be allowed to return home without my commendation, and I am not planning to dispense that approval unless I see improvement. Secondly, that approval is not to be forthcoming unless you accede to whatever program I devise and do it with cheerfulness and resignation. Would you agree with that assessment?"

Charlie was a bit confused about what was just said and he still had no idea what this program would entail. The longer the silence lasted the more uncomfortable he became. He finally realized he was supposed to answer. "I believe so...ma'am." He said while nodding his head.

"You don't seem to know much about what it means to be a man in this day and age. Would it be safe to say you do not know anything about what a woman has to deal with either?" Jane raised a questioning eyebrow.

Charlie was now really confused, "Ma'am, why would I know what a woman goes through? I’m a boy!"

"Not a very well behaved one!" Jane paused and looked out the window as if thinking about something, she then shook her head as if she had made a decision and turned back to face Charlie.

Jane got right down in front of Charlie's face, nose to nose, so to speak, "You may know of a practice in England for curbing such inappropriate behavior such as yours. The English call it 'Petticoat Discipline'. Have you heard of it?"

Charlie sat there wide-eyed and slowly shook his head no.

Jane stood up and walked back around her desk looking like she was contemplating something very carefully. "Yes! I think that is exactly what is needed. Charles, I must have your word that you will obey all commands I give you, without hesitation, no matter how unpleasant or disagreeable they may seem to you at the time. The first part of this will be to see if we can instill some self-restraint in you. If, however, I detect any resistance to these orders, I will wash my hands of you and dispatch you back to Judge Ruth on the next available airplane. Is that agreed?"

Charlie looked at Jane for a minute. He finally formulated an answer, "Ms. Thompson, I chose to come here because I finally realized that something had to be done! I felt, along with Judge Ruth and now you have all agreed that trying to correct this problem now is the best choice. I’m scared. I don't know any more about your program now than I did before, but I gave my word to my mom, stepdad and Judge Ruth that I would complete the program you devised for me. So, I will give you my word that I will do my best to comply with your program."

Jane looked at Charlie for a moment, 'this one WANTS to change, that is different!'. "Very well! We have an agreement! Now, please go out and wait in the foyer and ask Joan to come in here."

Charlie rose from the chair and headed for the door, glad this ordeal was over. Just before he left the room, he turned back to Jane and said, "Thank you ma'am, for believing in me." With that comment, he closed the door and went to find Joan.

'A curious turn of events. Usually the boy wants to stay for fear of jail time, this one wants to stay so he CAN change!' Jane was considering this situation when there was a knock on the door. "Come in!"

Joan came in, shut the door and perched delicately on the edge of the chair in front of Jane's desk. "You asked to see me, Aunt Jane?"

"Well, my dear, I have just given our new student the same ultimatum I gave you on your first day." Jane told Joan.

Joan blushed as she remembered her first day in that same situation. "Yes ma'am. What next?"

"Please tell Marie we will have lunch now and then I will need to talk with you after lunch. I wanted to let you know, you did very well today, I believe your lessons are finally starting to bear fruit!" Jane told Joan.

"Thank you Aunt Jane." Joan replied, inwardly pleased at the praise she received.

"Now scoot! We have much to do before the day is over!" Jane motioned to Joan with both hands and a smile on her face. 'Joan has made such wonderful progress of late! She will make a very good big sister for Charles.'

Jane finished a couple of notes in Charlie's and John's folders and placed them on the side, "He's stewed long enough. Time for the lunch from hell!"

As she left her office, there sat Charlie looking as nervous as one of her new students could. "It is time for lunch, please follow me." Jane instructed Charlie.

As they entered the dining room, Charlie noted Joan standing behind her chair, Joan motioned Charlie to a chair opposite her and resumed standing behind her chair. Charlie went to sit down and Joan cleared her throat. She was shaking her head 'no'. Charlie stopped trying to sit and stood behind his chair, Joan smiled and nodded her head slightly.

Jane finally sat after going into the kitchen and returning. Joan and Charlie took their seats and Marie served lunch. It was a normal first lunch for a new student. Jane spent her time showering praise upon Joan for developing into such a well-mannered and polite young girl. Noting that she had been in as much need for improvement in those areas as Charles. She also made sure to correct Charlie's eating habits by admonishing him for placing elbows on the table, eating too large of pieces, talking with his mouth full and failure to use the proper fork.

As the meal was finishing, Jane turned to Joan, "Would you mind serving dessert, please?"

"Not at all Aunt Jane," was the reply from Joan.

Joan excused herself and brought in a tray with three pieces of Marie's Peach pie. She served a piece to each, then served a whipped cream topping to each person. When done, she returned to her seat and all started eating.

Jane noted that her comments to Charles had some effect. He was taking smaller bites and was spending more time chewing his food. He also would wait until he had swallowed before answering a question. This meant that he had been taught some manners at home, he had just become sloppy over the years. A few days here and he would be right back up to speed in that area, that left more time to work on controlling his anger and aggression.

Charlie was really enjoying the meal, even though he kept getting yelled at for doing things wrong. Ms. Thompson was right, he was not doing things the way his Mother had tried to teach him. He only ate that way on holidays when all the family had gathered. He finally figured out that if he ate that way, Jane quit correcting him. He also noted that the food was GREAT! He knew it would be better than bread and water, but this was very good!

When Jane finished her dessert, Joan stood and cleared the table, she then re-entered the room carrying a tray with two blue wine glasses and one red. She placed the tray so that the red glass faced Jane, then proceeded to serve each the glass nearest them.

"Thank you, Joan. Charles, it has become my custom over the years to celebrate a new student's acceptance into my program with a toast." Jane stated as she picked up the glass and held it aloft. Joan took her glass, but Charlie hesitated. "Is there a problem, Charles?"

"Umm...well...I'm not allowed to drink alcohol, Ms. Thompson. I did once, and my mom and dad really let me have it. I hadn't been spanked since I was like two, but both of them teamed up on me that day. So...I...umm... I just don't." Charlie sort of half mumbled to Jane.

"Ah, yes! Well Charles, you may rest assured I try my best to not break any laws while you are here. The legal drinking age is twenty-one here, so Marie found a delightful, non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice! It gives the taste of a champagne without the alcohol." Jane replied, "It would also interest you that occasionally I receive a student who's problem stems from the use of fermented beverages, so it behooved us to find a substitute."

"Oh! Well, okay." Charlie looked surprised but decided to try the drink. He took the glass and held it up the way Jane and Joan were doing.

"To a successful stay!" Toasted Jane and proceeded to clink glasses with Joan and Charlie.

Charlie took a sip, 'Not bad. Just sort-of like grape soda', he thought.

Jane proceeded to tell Charlie more about how Joan had come to her as an unruly teen and now, just look what her stay had done! She was a perfectly charming young lady. She continued on and on about how young people today simply do not understand what it means to be polite and well mannered. Let alone the way most of them dress!

Charlie finished his drink and sat there half listening to Jane's oration, He went into auto-pilot, like when his dad lectured him. He would automatically say 'm-hmm' and 'okay' when there seemed to be a pause in Jane's speech. Finally, he couldn't contain it any longer and he yawned, not a big one, but just enough that Jane noticed.

"Charles, I see you are fatigued from your trip. Why don't you go upstairs and take a nap. We will discuss your future when you are refreshed!" Jane instructed the youth.

"That sounds like a good idea, I am rather tired. I guess the train ride did take it out of me! Oh! Ms. Thompson, are you sure I'm in the right room? It looks like it belongs to a girl! I really don't want to upset anyone, since I’m so new here." Charlie asked half asleep.

"The room you were shown will do just fine for your nap. We will take care of the arrangements when you awake." Jane replied.

"Thank you Ms. Thompson, I think I will take that nap. Excuse me." Charlie stated and rose to leave the table.

"Charles, before you nap, please remove your outer clothing and place them in the hamper, They are soiled from your travels. Marie will see to their cleaning." Jane stated as Charlie left the room.

"Thank you Ms. Thompson." Charlie called over his shoulder as he headed for the stairs and a much needed nap.

Charlie went up the stairs and turned right to enter the room, Joan had shown him earlier. He closed the door, and then removed his shirt and pants and placed them in the laundry hamper. He went into the bathroom and when done there, turned off the lights and crawled into the already turned down bed. 'Must have figured I would be tired from the trip!' He thought as his head hit the pillow and he fell asleep


Marie entered Charlie's room quietly and placed a rose colored robe on the bathroom door. Then she cleaned out the clothes from the hamper and picked up his small travel case. After depositing them on a small cart in the hall, she returned with several hairpieces. She compared them to Charlie's hair, finally deciding on one, this she tagged and replaced on the cart. Silently, she closed the door and went about placing Charlie's bags in storage and seeing that his male clothes were sent our to be cleaned.

When that was completed, Marie took the hairpiece she had tagged and washed it twice with shampoo, then treated it with a conditioner. She then spent a few minutes blow-drying it and giving it a little flip on the ends. When all was finished, Marie went to inform Jane that all was in readiness for Charlie's next step.


After Charlie had gone up the stairs, Jane had asked Joan to clean up from lunch since Marie was busy.

She was then to come into Jane's study when that was completed. Jane sat at her desk reviewing a portfolio of a good investment she had made when there was a knock on the door. "Come in."

Joan entered and once again perched on the edge of the chair.

"In this next phase, I need you to be out of sight. How is your report coming along?" Jane asked her senior student.

"The report is approximately three-quarters complete. I am having trouble reducing all the available information on 'Farming Practices in the Third World' down to four-thousand words, but I expect to be able to complete the task by this weekend as you instructed." Joan replied confidently.

"Good! For the next couple of hours, I want you to first go into the kitchen and ask Marie to help you make cookies. When they are completed, you may go and work on the report until I need you. The next part you will have is to become Charles' friend and to teach him how to walk in petticoats and to keep them from bunching! Do you remember Darla doing that for you?" Jane asked Joan.

"Yes ma'am, I do." Joan looked down at her shoes. She remembered only too well how terrified she was when she was first in petticoats.

"Remember, Joan, how you do over the next few weeks of convincing Charles you are truly a girl will determine when you are released to go home." Jane reminded Joan.

Joan's eye's widened. "Yes ma'am, I will truly do my best. Darla reminded me of my role before she left. ‘Each one, teach one!’ was the phrase she used. I believe it is my turn to teach Charles." 'Not only that, I really want out of this place!' She thought to herself.

Jane dismissed Joan and sat back with a satisfied grin. 'It's amazing how you can gain cooperation from a student by mentioning they will be going home sometime in the future!'



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