It didn’t matter that Carissa was a grown woman of 20 years. She would not be given any choice, as long as she, and her husband wished to remain in the church. Adultery was a sin that could sink a marriage, and consequently could ruin a community. It was, therefore, punished with unusual severity. Alberto had a duty, and he carried it out faithfully, albeit with much reluctance. The two of them had only been apart of the community for six months. They knew full well that the church’s rules required corporal punishment for certain transgressions. But they were ardent believers in its mission, and so they moved to the small dusty compound in Arizona where the church housed its members. There was no sense in turning back now.
So there she was, face down on the bed, her bottom bare, holding the leather strap in her hands as her husband took a moment to pray with Reverend Jackson in the adjacent room. In the corner stood her partner in sin – Scarlet McDonald. Scarlet had succeeded in seducing Carissa during an evening of drunkeness. She assured Carissa that no one would find out. Now she stood there in the corner, tears rolling down her cheeks. Scarlet knew exactly what happened to an adulteress, and that it would be happening in a few minutes to the both of them. The thought was too dreadful to bear. But bear it, she must.
Hearing Scarlet’s quiet sobs only confirmed Carissa’s fears about what her sentence would entail. She could hear the footsteps echo in the hallway. Her tears began to flow as well.
The two men entered the room somberly, without a word. The reverend squeezed Alberto’s shoulder, and looked at him with compassion. “You may begin your duty, just as I instructed,” he said. Alberto nodded, took a deep breath, and removed the belt from his wife’s trembling hands.
For the next hour, the leather strap rained down on Carissa, and Scarlet as they took turns receiving their whippings, and standing against the wall. Each offender was punished in intervals, allowing them a short time to recover before being instructed to lie back on the bed for another painful installment. Alberto had been instructed to punish the girls without reservation. He obeyed dutifully. Other members of the community gawked through the window as they passed by. Soon enough, there was a small crowd outside.
When the last whap echoed through the house, Carissa was openly sobbing, as the Reverend held her hands in place at the edge of the bed, just as he did for Scarlet. He released his prisoner, and took the strap from Alberto.
“You did well brother,” he said. “You carried out your duty, and your marriage will be better for it. I will see you on Sunday.” He spoke softly, yet crisply.
“As for you ladies, I want you to stay right where you are, just as you are. We will have our nurse come by in a few minutes to make sure you are not injured. I trust you won’t be doing this again?”
Both girls nodded, and replied together, “No sir.”
They meant it.