A first person account by Katie K.
The one thing I’ll never forget about living in the Larsons’ house was the wooden paddle that hung on a nail in the downstairs hallway.
It was about a foot long, an inch thick, light brown, and oval-shaped with a small handle on top. It was well-made but it had the appearance of something that might have come from Mr. Larson’s woodshop. It was one of the very first things I noticed when the Larsons took me in.
I didn’t have the courage to ask them about it, and for all I knew at the time, it had never been used. Although, once in a while it would go missing, usually for a day or so, and then it would reappear. And once, I noticed, it had been cracked and was then replaced a few days later with a new one that seemed to be just a bit thicker.
I grew up in Los Angeles and I moved out of my parent’s house as soon as I graduated from high school. Neither my mom nor dad were supportive of my desire to become a doctor and they both wanted me to work full-time so that I could help support them while they stayed home and sold drugs from their garage. I didn’t exactly grow up in a model household, and that’s putting it mildly.
The Larsons — a family I knew from church — offered to take me in while I started school, now that I was an adult. I jumped at the chance. Literally, I jumped up and down and hugged each of them, I was so grateful!
They were a quiet family, closely knit and very traditional. They were also very kind people. I fit in with the Larsons pretty well although I always had a sense that I wasn’t one of them. They never did anything intentionally to make me feel that way. It’s just that since I wasn’t related to them, I was treated a little differently.
For instance, I noticed that Mr. Larson was more physically distant with me. He rarely hugged me like he did his wife and daughters. He always called them “honey,” or “sweetie.” I was just plain ol’ “Katie.” I understood that it might seem inappropriate for him to be affectionate toward me, but deep down I longed for him to treat me just like his own.
I also got punished much more often than his two girls who were both my age. For one thing, they were much better behaved. I had a bit of a temper. But when they did act up, they never seemed to get grounded for as long as I did. Sometimes they didn’t get grounded at all. I always wondered why, but I didn’t have the courage to ask about that either. I was just glad to be a part of their family.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 we all got pretty sick of each other, having to live in the same house and not being able to do anything other than go for walks or shop at the grocery store. Veronica — or Mrs. Larson as I called her — and I got into a big argument over the fact that I was not doing enough chores in the house. And she was right, I wasn’t. But I didn’t appreciate the fact that she always left her dishes and clothes lying around. At least I cleaned up after myself! I argued in my defense.
But I slipped up big time! She got defensive, and I got really mad and called her a “fucking slob.” Mr. Larson heard me and stormed into the kitchen. We started arguing and for the first time in my life, I saw him lose his temper. He started yelling at me and pointing his finger at my face. I called him an “asshole” and left the house.
I walked the neighborhood for over an hour cursing under my breath and kicking myself for losing my temper with the two people who had treated me better than anyone ever had. When I finally came back, it looked like everyone had gone to bed. I walked in quietly through the front door, hoping nobody would take notice.
“Hello Katie,” said Mr. Larson in a curt tone of voice. I turned toward the sound of his voice. He was at the kitchen table, reading.
“Hi,” I said softly. I walked toward him slowly, knowing he probably had something to say to me.
“That was quite an outburst you had earlier,” he said. “Do have anything to say for yourself, young lady?”
I sat down at the table across from him. “Yes, Mr. Larson,” I replied. “I’m really, really sorry! I let my temper get the best of me and I had no right to lash out at either of you like that.”
He nodded approvingly and looked at me as if thinking of what to say next.
“And I’ll accept whatever punishment you might have for me,” I said emphatically.
“Apology accepted Katie. But it would be pointless to ground you. None of us can go anywhere anyway. And cooping you up in your room or taking away your phone is only going to cut you off from the outside world even more. I suspect that that will probably make your mood and your behavior worse.”
“That’s probably true,” I said as I looked down at the table. “But I really do feel bad! And I want to do better and make it up to you! It’s just that…” I paused mid-sentence and felt tears welling up in my eyes.
His tone softened. He reached out and touched my hand. “What is it, Katie?”
I looked up at him as a tear fell from my face. “It’s just that…I get really upset with you and Veronica because you have such a wonderful family, but you treat me like an outsider!” I cried. “You’re all so affectionate and huggy and kissy, and I just get treated like I’m renting a room here or something. I want to be treated like I’m a Larson! Heck, I’d even be okay if you spanked with that big scary paddle in the hallway!” I said with a hint of a smile breaking through my tears.
Mr. Larson let out a soft chuckle and then stood up. “Ohhhh Katie,” he said gently. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you felt that way.” He put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a squeeze. I stood up from my chair immediately and wrapped my arms around his torso. He was tall enough that my head rested square in the middle of his chest. His body was warm and firm. He rubbed my back and I began to sob as we embraced.
“There, there sweetie. It’s okay,” he said softly. “You’re one of us. You always have been. It’s just that you are a very attractive young woman and I didn’t want to be inappropriate in showing affection toward you. But from now I promise to treat you like a Larson. No exceptions.”
I sniffled and smiled up at him as my tears abated. “Thank you!” I said. “Wait…do you really use that paddle in the hallway?”
He smiled and nodded. “We do,” he replied. “We have certain rules, and everyone knows that if those rules are broken, then it’s a trip down to the basement with the paddle in hand.”
“Everyone? Even Veronica?”
“Yes, even her.”
“Ohhh wow, you guys are strict! Does it hurt?”
“Ohhh yeah,” he replied emphatically. “Veronica and the girls hate it. But they know it’s good for them. They’ve told me as much plenty of times.”
“Wow. I guess, now that I’m family…that means I’m gonna get paddled for my little outburst?”
“Katie,” he said looking down at me with a stern look on his face. “The way you’ve been behaving lately, I intend to spank your bottom every single day for the next week.”
I laughed for only a second before realizing that he wasn’t joking in the slightest. His gaze remained, stern and resolute.
“Ohhhh, you’re serious?” I asked, my voice beginning to quiver.
“Do I look like I’m joking?” he asked.
I was transfixed by his brooding gaze. His handsome brown eyes seemed to hold me captive. “No, sir,” I replied.
He released me from his embrace and put his hands on his hips, just above his belt. “Then go get the paddle from the hallway and head straight to the basement. I plan on teaching you a lesson in respect that you will never forget.”
My pulse quickened and I gulped. I stood there helpless, unable to move. The next thing I knew I was turning away from him, his hands firm around my shoulders. I felt his hand slap my butt hard enough to send me a few steps on my way.
“Now Katie!!” he shouted. “Unless you want an extra paddling for being disobedient!”
I scurried away and made a B-line for the hallway. The paddle was hanging there, waiting for me. No longer an object of curiosity, it looked larger and thicker than ever before. I pulled it from the nail so nervously and clumsily that the nail came off the wall and I dropped the paddle to the floor. I picked it up and tried to replace the nail. As I fumbled with it between my fingers, I heard Mr. Larson’s footsteps down the corridor.
“Katie, what’s going on?” he asked, his deep, sultry voice echoing off the walls.
“Nothing Mr. Larson!” I shouted. “I’m getting the paddle and heading down to the basement right now!” I dropped the nail to the floor and walked hurriedly past him with the paddle in my hand.
“I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” he said. “Until then I want you to hold that paddle in your lap while you sit and wait on the sofa. And I want you to think long and hard about your actions and their consequences.”
I turned around to face him and acknowledge his instructions. As I did, I found him standing over me looking down with his firm, yet caring gaze. “Yes Mr. Larson,” I said meekly, looking down at the paddle in my hands.
He reached for my chin and lifted it with his fingers. “I’m only doing this because I…”
I looked up at him, my eyes once again welling up with tears.
“Because I love you, Katie.”
I smiled as a tear fell down my cheek. “I know Mr. Larson. I love you too,” I said as I turned around and headed down the stairs. I made my way down and as I sat on the sofa and waited with the paddle in my lap I realized that my life had reached a turning point. No doubt, it would probably hurt to sit down for weeks after Mr. Larson was through with the series of punishments he promised to give me. No doubt, I would be crying like a baby by the time it was all over. No doubt, the entire house — and possibly a few of the neighbors — would hear me getting my butt spanked for the very first time in my life.
But I was okay with that. I was a Larson now. I was finally loved. I was finally home.
And the paddle that hung in the hallway would always remind me of that fact.
Thanks for reading.