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[Image of Little Miss Naughty] Call Me Daddy
by Mija

It started with a personal ad in the LA Weekly:

"Lost little girl? SWM 40's looking for missing 'daughter' - a girl in need of love and a firm hand. Box #4978028"

The words stayed with her for weeks, even after she threw away the paper. Daddy had been gone for years, taking love and firm hand with him. Her mother was, well, she was okay. But she and the girl had never liked each other much and the move from girl to teen had been too much strain for the relationship. They simply tried to stay out of each other's way - both longing for the day the girl would leave.

Sitting on the hard wire chair at the Starbucks on Santa Monica Blvd she looked again in the Weekly. Told herself as she sipped the bitter coffee (despite wanting hot chocolate) and tried to look cool that if the ad was still there - well, then maybe.

And there it was:

"Lost little girl? SWM 40's looking for missing 'daughter' - a girl in need of love and a firm hand. Box #4978028"

She took out a P.O. box and wrote, told herself it was all a goof, that she wouldn't meet him, wouldn't call him, wouldn't write again. But she did, sending a picture of herself in clothes too sexy, too old for her soft young body - yet with eyes wide and vulnerable that began to haunt him. To his question she replied she was nineteen, a lie by almost four years.

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Her hands shook so that she could hardly hold the phone as she dialled the number on the letter, calling him collect from a pay phone so as not to reveal her home number.

"Hello? Mr . . . A . . . um. Mr. X? It's me." Her voice was a good deal higher than usual - a little girl voice.

He paused a moment, not sure which of the women he'd written back had called, not wanting to be mistaken.

"Where have you been, sweetheart?"

Feelings of power rushed over him.

"I, well, I mean, A - Mr . . . Mr . . ." she stammered, unable to speak, her head suddenly full of memories of being late biking home from a friend's. Her father meeting her at the door, first full of concern, which turned to annoyance at her breezy explanation of her tardy return. Her own fear as his hand on her neck led her to her parents' room, the order "Take down those jeans now!" accompanied by the sound of her whining pleas and his belt clicking unfastened, "those panties too!"

"Call me Daddy, sweetheart. Now where have you been?"

There was a pause as her heart raced faster than her breath. "I - I was, I was . . ."

"Young lady! I'm waiting."

Her voice tightening further as her stomach fluttered and her hand locked the phone in a death grip. She looked around, afraid of someone overhearing her stuttered excuses.

"I was at school." Pause as he waited. But she didn't say it.

"And now?"

"I'm at a pay phone at the mall." She shuffled her feet as though suddenly caught in a crime . . . or lie. Her voice dropped to a shamed whisper.

Silence on the other end.

"Which mall? Have you noticed it's already dark?"

"I guess." Her voice now a sulky whisper.

"Don't you give me that attitude, miss. Now, which mall?"

"I'm at the Westside Pavilion." Her voice was a broken whisper. Pause. She still didn't say it.

"You meet me by the Overland parking lot. Do you hear me?"

She nodded, lost in the memories of his searing strap burning into her pillow-raised bottom.

"Are you wearing that black dress?"

Stammering. "No, no. My green skirt and jean jacket."

"I'll be there in ten minutes. And you better not keep me waiting. You're in more than enough trouble as it is."

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She stood there clenching the phone for several minutes, the dial tone insistent in her ear before the noise around her brought her back to reality - feeling alone and isolated amidst the crowd.

You don't need to go.

But my daddy is waiting.

You don't need to go.

But he'll be madder if I'm not there.

She felt the white paper of her shopping bag turn moist in her hand. Despite the traffic, the Overland exit was quiet, almost deserted. When a car pulled in fast and loud in the space not far from her, she stepped forward a bit without thinking. A man got out of the car and came toward her quickly, his size and demeanor overwhelming her as he embraced her tightly.

"There you are!", taking her purse and throwing it in the back seat and pulling the shopping bag from her stunned hands. "Did you ask if you could come here after school today? Hmm?"

Her hands fluttered aimlessly as he pulled the shear panties from the bag and threw the packing and receipt away, retaining only the clothing.

"Where did you get the money for these, young lady?"

How to tell she'd taken the money from her mother's purse?

"And what makes you think a girl your age should be wearing clothes like these? Hmmm?"

A man walking out of the Macy's exit saw a father holding a scrap of silk and scolding his daughter. "Shoplifting," he thought and clicked his tongue in a 'kids today' manner.

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The vice-like grip of his hand on her arm propelled her back to the shop where he asked to see the manager. She seemed to shrink as he held her arm tightly while they waited.

The manager approached the middle-aged man and young girl. She noted the child's resemblance to him around the eyes, though she wasn't sure as the girl looked down and trembled a bit.

"May I help you?"

"I'm afraid so. My daughter has something to tell you about these," as he handed her the small lacy scraps of panties.

The manager examined the panties and turned to the girl, who looked down in misery.

"And what would that be?"

The girl shrugged.

The manager watched with a sly smile as her father leaned down and whispered too loudly, "Do you want us to go back to the car and then come back here?" his right hand brushing the buckle of his belt for a brief but significant moment.

The girl found her voice in a rush.

"I stole them from you."

The manager looked at her with scorn and at her father with a sort of veiled contempt. The two talked for a moment as the girl flushed hot, eyes pricking with tears.

"I'll teach her at home what happens to children who steal. Don't you worry."

Her ears burned, hearing that through her haze.

"All right. Normally we call the mall security on thieves, but if you promise she won't be back here again without an adult you both can go."

Her father thanked the manager and even bought five pairs of very plain thick cotton underpants and T-shirts in the girl's size. The shop next door yielded some plain ankle socks and saddle shoes.

When she tried to protest being too old for them, he silenced her by saying to the clerk: "Someone has gotten too big for her britches lately and needs to be reminded she's just a little girl. These seem more appropriate for school."

The clerk laughed a bit nervously and made conversation about kids today growing up undisciplined and too fast.

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Driving home from the mall, the girl noted she was now wearing a child's clothing, right down to the saddle shoes on her feet.

The man drove silently, fast, toward the house.

"But but . . ." she finally stammered.

He turned to her, still driving full speed.

"Call me Daddy if you want something." His tone was hard but almost pleading.

She gulped, trying to swallow something large.

"I'm - I'm - I'm I'm scared of you." Her voice was a whisper, a childish lisp.

"You ought to be. Daddy has been looking everywhere for you. I love you. But you know you need to be punished for not coming home when you should have. Obviously you've forgotten you're just a little girl."

The girl turned toward him, eyes widening for a second.

"No wait! You're not . . . you bastard!"

"Call me Daddy," he said as his hand slapped sharply across her face.

The world flashed bright as she struggled with the door handle, locked from his side. Her feet kicked helplessly against the upholstered seat.

His movements were firm and sure as he drove into the garage, opening and closing the door with a plastic box. He set the car in park, turned and removed the key as she struggled blindly with her safety belt. He strode around the car, opened her door, took her chin in his hand, holding it firmly.

"It seems I've waited far too long. And let you become a spoiled, foul-mouthed, careless little thief. But no more."

She froze as he spoke, a sudden need for the bathroom washing over her.

"Staying out until after dark. Dressing like a tease. Lying and stealing!" His breath hot on her face as he leaned close, his fingers unfastening her seat belt.

Shame flooded over her as she clenched her legs tight together.

"When I'm finished with you tonight you'll be a very sorry, very blistered little girl." His hand gripped her arm tightly.

Her eyes closed and a tear ran down each of her cheeks. She looked up at him, eyes shining.

"Yes, Daddy," she whispered. Saying it. Finally.

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