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Sarah removed her camel Jimmy Choo pumps. They'd been
so necessary in June -- their $500 price now proved obscene.
Pausing before removing her skirt, she looked pleadingly
at the camera.
"Please, August will be different. I had extra expenses
because of moving. Please?"
A hesitation. Perhaps he was considering mercy.
"Miss Sarah Angelica Garcia?"
He coughed. Sarah waited, breathless.
"I'm not concerned with your personal life -- only
your finances. To wit, your debts."
Moisture pricked behind Sarah's large brown eyes.
Paper rustled. The voice continued.
"As of July, you owed $5768 to a total of seven creditors,
She nodded, looking down.
"And, realizing you needed to take hold of your finances,
you chose my firm. Together, Sarah, we worked out a payment
plan . . . which was . . . ?"
Moisture welled into tears -- streaking her white skin.
Her voice shook.
"I will pay $500 or 10% of the balance, whichever
is greater, to your firm by the third, every month." She
turned away from the camera, crying.
"Correct. And, this month, I've paid 10% of your
balances -- totaling $576.80."
He continued, ". . . but how was your check, received
on August 7th?"
"$450, sir." Her voice cracked in fear. The
penalty was supposed to be severe.
His voice. "I make that a shortage of $126.80, yes?"
Sarah nodded, unable to speak.
"Thus, Miss Garcia, you have one minute to undress
and get into position. In exactly one minute, Mrs. Koch
will enter. Should you still be clothed and out of position,
she will summon two assistants who will forcibly cut your
clothing from your body. Is this entirely clear?"
Sarah's hands moved of their own volition. She removed
her stockings, skirt and blouse without even thinking
about the camera and her unseen master. But, unhooking
her bra, she looked up.
"What position, sir?"
His silence leered at her.
"Bent over the white chair, hands on the seat."
The chair faced the door and away from the camera.
She removed her bra and then, fingers fumbling, took down
her panties. Footsteps outside made her rush into position,
her bottom offered to the silent lens.
A heavyset matron entered holding a 28-inch crook-handled
cane and a clipboard.
The matron clicked her tongue, reading. "That'll
be 128 strokes, given in groups of 24, a quarter hour
of rest between groups."
Sarah looked up. But Mrs. Koch spoke to the camera.
The intercom crackled. "Yes, you're on time and a
half, dear lady. Add fourteen tawse strokes for Miss García's
late penalty, please."
There was a pause.
"In your own time, madam."
Sarah, surprised, looked at the matron.
"Wait, he pays you to cane me?"
The matron flexed the cane impatiently. "Not just
you, miss. Bend over like a good girl."
"But-but, this is costing -- that is, what does he
get out of it?"
She tapped the cane in reply. But the intercom broke the
There was low, amplified rumbling laughter.
"Me? I like to watch"
to Mija's stories
to the treehouse