The bright white LCD screen flashed with advertisements, promising free iPods and Playstations. “Click here to find true love!” “Click here to make free money, no effort!” Mike Cielo found one blaring banner particularly relevant: “Change your life right now!”
He heard the crashes and bangs as his roommate stumbled into the apartment, obviously drunk again. It was Thursday, and he had been home early in preparation for work the next morning. Closing the laptop, his dark green eyes pored over the spreadsheets, and as he pushed his black hair out of them, he stood and went to the door of his room.
With a mixture of pity and anger, he watched as she giggled her way onto the couch. Adriana was 22, like him. They had met through a craigslist posting 3 years ago, both seeking someone to share the rent in a city where only the wealthy could afford to live alone outside of abject squalor. Two college students who had quickly cut through the awkward tape of a new person you live with and became fast friends.
The problems had only started recently. After graduation, Mike had gotten a job rather quickly. By default they had agreed to stay as roomies. In fact, they hadn’t even needed to broach the question. However, Adriana had not been so lucky in her search for employment.
She lay there, laughing at some recalled joke, prone on the couch in their modest living room. It also doubled as a dining room, with a table and a few straight backed chairs. The walls were adorned with photographs, Adriana’s work. The pictures were a hobby, but she was talented enough to make more of it, had she applied herself. Instead, she had graduated with a degree in philosophy, for some reason Mike never understood.
“I thought you were sending out applications all afternoon.” Mike ventured, and Adriana rolled her head in his direction. She slurred her response with a charming smile, despite the empty look in her hazel eyes.
“Well, I did. And nothing happened. Not a thing! SO I decided to go and make something ELSE happen. Which it did. I think,” she ended with a giggle.
“Going to the bar and getting plastered for the third time this week does not constitute making something happen,” he intoned. She blew her long, auburn locks off her face as she snorted.
“Don’t be such a freakin’ downer, Mike. Yer killin’ my buzz.”
“I’m sorry for being a speedbump on you’re road to happy oblivion,” he replied.
Adriana jumped off the couch, anger flaring in her eyes. Her upper lip curled as she barked out at him, “Don’t you start with me, Mike! Don’t even!”
He didnt reply. Didnt have the chance, as she stormed off into her room, slamming the door behind her. The clinking of bottles passed through the thin walls, followed by music played purposefully loud. He sighed, and turned back to his room, closing the door himself.
Sleep was difficult to come by, thanks to Adriana’s angry soundtrack. As he lay there, he couldn’t help but stew the problem over in his head. She was a jersey girl, the spoiled princess kind. It had never really been a problem before, being busy with school and all that. But now her behavior was really getting out of hand. As he recalled, her parents had divorced when she was young. The cruel and typical game of “Who loves you more” played between her parents, wreaking dire consequences that were suddenly affecting her life so much.
Mike hadn’t exactly had a Leave it to Beaver childhood himself, but hey, who did these days? There were some things he knew, however. There was no way his parents would have let him get away with acting like she did, no sir. Anything CLOSE to the sheer disrespect and vitriol she was spouting would have landed him a sore bottom. Screaming like she did, he wouldn’t have been able to sit for a week, as the same words his parents always said whenever discipline was dealt rang in his head.
“Actions have consequences,” he whispered to the night. No one replied.
“Inaction also has consequences,” he followed. Still no answer.
The music faded. He slept.
Work the next day was inordinately busy, a blessing he did not recognize. All thoughts of Adriana were pushed from his mind, swamped as he was with reports he needed to file and customers he needed to take care of. He enjoyed his job, enjoyed being an integral part of the machine that was his company. Every day he felt like he was part of something bigger, and that something had a purpose. It was comforting and exciting at the same time. As they often did on days such as this, the hours flew by with startling alacrity. When his watch announced it was time to go, he could scarcely believe it. He threw papers and reports into his suitcase and rushed down and out of the building.
Squeezing onto the train with a million other straphangers, he saw a lady in a business suit who looked startlingly like Adriana. But it wasn’t, merely a coincidence. The strange sighting turned his thoughts to his wayward friend, for the first time that day, and he wondered what he should do. Outside the window, lights flashed by in the dark tunnel. He thought back to the many nights they had shared on this train and others, coming back from this party or that event, laughing, often a little drunk. She was his best friend; he didn’t question that. The thought of turning her out, even if she was a real bitch lately, hurt him more than he could voice.
His words didn’t reach her, no matter how often he lectured her. Earlier in the month he had tried giving her the cold shoulder, but he had lacked the conviction to carry that through. Any threats of eviction were idle and she knew it. He seemed to be out of options.
The thought he had gave him pause.
He would see what she had done today, before any further action would be taken.
Placing his keys on the shelf next to the door, Mike entered the apartment with purpose. He walked right past Adriana, sitting lazily on the couch with the TV on. He entered his room, placed his briefcase on his desk, and let out a deep breath. She had noticed his cool entrance and likely assumed he was ignoring her again. He walked out the door into the living room.
She neglected to even look away from the TV, content to sit there ignoring him. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt and a floppy cotton skirt, her typical comfort clothes. Mike stood there for a minute, watching her. The TV had another one of those daytime talk shows — some guy with an attitude and a book to sell telling people to turn their lives around. Adriana watched with cynicism written all over her face.
“So is this what you did all day?” he asked calmly. She didn’t look up.
“I’m getting inspired.” was her reply. The words were toneless.
“Adriana…” he started, his resolve slipping in the face of her apathy. He was nervous and unsure of himself, when she rose to her feet, spite marring her face.
“Why Mike? Got something to say?” she practically spat.
His mouth opened, a thousand responses dying in his throat. He said nothing for probably four awkward seconds, before she turned away.
“Yeah, I thought not,” came the resentful follow up.
Something in Mike changed, right there. He set his jaw, narrowed his eyes, and grabbed her by the wrist. She looked up in surprise.
“What are yo–” she began. But by then he was dragging her over to the table on the other side of the room. He pulled one of the armless, straight back chairs out and sat down in it. A puzzled look crossed Adriana’s face, but before she could realize his intentions, he had yanked her over his knee.
“What the hell, Mike? You thin– OW! OWHOW! HEY!” came her protests, as his bare hand landed solid smacks across her backside. She jerked and struggled, but he held her tight. She raised her voice to protest again, but he cut her off, continuing the spanking throughout.
“Adriana, I’ve had it up to here with this. You need to get your stuff together and stop being such a bitch to the person trying to help you out!” he said, confidence flooding through him.
She raised her hand in the way of his, and he grabbed it, pinning it to the small of her back.
“Stop struggling, or else I’ll make it worse! This is to get you back on the right track!”
Despite the warning, she continued to kick and fight. So after a few more choice smacks, he grabbed the hem of her cotton skirt and flipped it up. She howled in protest, then in shock as his hand rained down blows upon the thin cotton panties. She said nothing, aside from “OW! OW! OUUUUCH!”
When her hand broke free of his grip and once again sought to interfere, he pulled the hem of her panties down, and began to spank her on her bare behind. THIS brought a much more vocal reaction.
Within a minute, she was starting to sob, and the words he had been waiting for poured almost incoherently from her lips.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, oh god, Mike, I’m sorry,” she cried penitently. He softened up, eventually stopping.
“Do you mean that?” he asked.
She sniffled and nodded.
“Alright, get up then,” he directed.
She stood, panties still around her knees. Her face was tear stained and remorseful. It was obvious to him that she thought this was over. It was not. He got up and strode to the kitchen, where he grabbed the first relevant tool he could think of. Adriana was silent, aside from her sniffles. When he walked back into view, wooden spoon in hand, her knees wobbled.
“I am guessing by your silence that you have realized you deserve this,” he said.
She said nothing, eyes downcast. Without stopping, he moved back over to the chair. Instead of sitting, however, he put his hands on Adriana’s back and pushed her over the back of the chair, instructing her to grab the seat. Flipping her skirt back up, he could see the redness of her skin, almost feel the heat. This did not deter him from his course.
“Do not let those hands leave that chair,” he ordered.
Adriana nodded submissively through a sniffle. Standing at her side, he put his left hand on her back, and raised the spoon in his right.
THWACK! Was the sound it made, over and over, Adriana jumping and crying along. Her hands never left the seat, however, despite the blows. All the while, Mike talked to her.
“No more going to the bar during the week alone!” THWACK!
“No more sitting around, doing nothing but watching TV!” THWACK!
“No more talking to me as if I were your ENEMY!” he yelled, that last blow striking the hardest.
She sank to her knees, knowing somehow it was over. She was crying, whispering the words, “I’m sorry…You’re right.”
Mike bent down and embraced her. She melted into his arms, all the guilt and anger flowing right out of her. Gently, he kissed her forehead and wiped away her tears.
“I’m here to help, Adriana.”
“Thank you for all the inspiration I really needed, Mike.