Everything was great and Mateo was very happy spending his summer with his uncle, but things were about to take a turn for the worst. For some reason, and the brothers didn't know what, Uncle Salvino told them he had to go away for a couple of days. It was a family matter and because he couldn't leave the boys on their own, they would stay with their granddad. He should be back on Tuesday, so It would only be three days.
That Saturday Uncle Salvino dropped everybody off with their granddad and that was when they discovered their other cousins Gualter and Ana were also staying the weekend. It would be crowded even in granddad's large house. Ana and Gilma would share one bedroom and the four boys the other, they would have to double up on the beds.
After supper their granddad said that he had to pick up some fencing stakes from a friend the other side of the town. He thought that two of the boys could give him a hand. Ana and Gilma were going out with grandma. "So who wants to volunteer?" He asked. Gualter said he had a lot of studying to do, but Neymar and Alfonso were up for it. "We'll help," Neymar announced. And so it was decided, Mateo would stay with Gualter to look after him, the other two boys would accompany their granddad. Mateo wanted to go to, but there was only room for three in the little van.
It was after everyone had left that things turned bad. The house was empty and Gualter was not studying, but instead cornered Mateo in their bedroom. At first Mateo thought nothing of it, they were sitting side by side on one of the beds and talking, Gualter even had his arm over Mateo's shoulder. But then the conversation turned to what Mateo did with Neymar and Alfonso. Gualter knew he was staying at their house for the summer.
Mateo looked up to the other boy because he was the oldest of them all, fifteen. However, when he started probing Mateo about what he and the other boys did alone, it became a bit odd, and Mateo somehow didn't completely trust Gualter. He wanted to know if he touched the brothers and played with them. When Mateo asked, "What do you mean?" Gualter moved his arm to rest his hand on Mateo's thigh. "You know," he squeezed his leg. "Stand up." Mateo stood, glad of the chance to escape Gualter's attentions. "Come here." Mateo moved to stand directly in front of the older boy. Gualter moved his hands to undo the top button of Mateo's shorts. "What are you doing?" Mateo didn't know if he should stay or run away. "We're alone in the house. I know you'll like it." Thoughts raced around the youngster's head. What should he do? He was frozen to the spot. Gualter pulled down his zipper, but then Mateo grabbed his shorts to hold them up, turned and ran.
Gualter came after him and caught him in the hallway by the big China vase on the pillar, next to the umbrella stand with the bamboo canes. Gualter hauled him up and removed one of the canes from the umbrella stand. Whilst still holding onto the young boy he swung the cane across his now half exposed arse catching him a good stripe. Mateo yelped and twisted managing to free himself from Gualter's grip, but Mateo's hands let go of his shorts which slipped down causing him to fall over and he bumped the pillar. The China vase wobbled and came crashing down onto the floor, splintering into several pieces scattering across the hall. Grabbing at his shorts, he pulled them up and ran back around Gualter, disappearing upstairs and into the bedroom where he turned the key and locked the door.
"You better open the door," Gualter tried the handle.
"Go away!" Mateo told him from inside the bedroom.
"When granddad gets back you're gonna get It!"
"Go away! Leave me alone!" Mateo felt his eyes watering up. He thought he heard Gualter walk away, but he was scared now. What would happen when his granddad came back? He started to cry, he wished the brothers were here, but they'd gone with granddad.
Around half an hour passed with Mateo staying locked in the bedroom. Then the van pulled up. The boys helped their granddad unload, and pile all the wooden fence posts in the barn. Alfonso was the first to rush into the house and he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the mess. Neymar came in behind him followed by granddad. The two boys stood staring, but their grandfather was angry, "Gualter!" he shouted. "Gualter, get out here!" When Gualter appeared from the lounge the other two boys stepped back, feeling grandpa's rage. "What in God's name have you been doing?" The older boy looked nervous, "It wasn't me granddad. Mateo was running around like a maniac. I tried to stop him but he wouldn't listen to me. He smashed the vase." Gualter looked at the mess in the hall, the broken pieces of the vase. Neymar and Alfonso stood listening, seeing granddad getting more angry by the minute.
"Where is he?" their granddad demanded.
"He locked himself in the bedroom and he won't come out," Gualter replied.
"We'll see about that!" Their granddad went marching off upstairs.
"He really did that?" Alfonso asked Gualter, not quite believing what had happened while they were away.
"Yeah, I said, didn't I?"
Neymar looked at his cousin, but said nothing. Alfonso was also silent wondering what their granddad would do, seeing how angry he was.
They heard him outside the bedroom door, "Open this door at once!" he commanded.
Mateo got up and went to open the door. His grandfather pushed his way inside and seeing the boy there, grabbed a hold of him by the top of his arm. He then marched him back downstairs to where the other boys were standing waiting. "You did this?" He shook Mateo, who started tearing up again and just looked down at the floor. His granddad was so angry Mateo couldn't speak up, even when he shook him again. "Do you know how much that vase cost?" Mateo remained silent.
His granddad, still gripping the youngster's arm, stormed out past the other boys in the direction of the barn. The others followed him. Alfonso and Neymar could both imagine what was about to happen.
Once inside the old barn grandfather released his hold on Mateo. "Stay there," he told him. Mateo stood still, a few tears starting to fall. The other boys waited, watching silently. Meanwhile their granddad came back with a stool which he set down in front of Mateo and sat down on it. That was when Mateo and the rest of them noticed he had also brought that old leather strap that was hanging up at the back of the barn.
Their granddad took the strap in his right hand laying it across one knee. "Come here," he looked straight at Mateo. "Now I'm warning you, and you," he glanced over in the direction of the other boys. "Let's have the truth." He looked like he was controlling his anger, but the atmosphere was tense, they all knew what could happen. Mateo was sniffling. "This," their granddad raised the strap, "has not seen any use since your daddies were your age. But it's still as good as ever it was." He flexed the strap between his hands. "You can ask your dad, each of you, they will still remember. There were times when I used this," he slapped the strap against his left hand, "to teach them a lesson. And it is not something you forget."
Alfonso gulped, imagining that his granddad was about to use the strap on little Mateo for breaking the vase. Neymar couldn't quite believe what was happening. He could see his granddad was angry, but he didn't think Mateo deserved to be strapped. It must have been an accident, he didn't think he would do something like that on purpose. Neymar remembered that time when he'd misbehaved and their dad had giving him a good spanking. His granddad had seen that and told his father, if it was him he would have used the strap. Should he say something?
Mateo was now standing in front, up close, to their granddad. "Right young man, what do you have to say for yourself?"
The youngster sniffled back the tears, but said nothing. "If you don't speak up then I'll presume you're guilty and I promise you if I use this strap you won't sit down for a week." Alfonso watched, willing Mateo to say something. Their grandfather reached out and took hold of Mateo gripping the front of his shorts he pulled him in to stand between his legs. He undid the button and zipper of the boy's shorts, he moved his hands grabbing each side and swiftly tugged Mateo's shorts and underpants down. The other boys watched the scene, looking at Mateo standing there with only his t-shirt which reached to the top of his bottom, leaving his backside exposed. "Last chance," their granddad told him, "I'm rapidly losing patience."
Mateo murmured something. "Speak up!" his grandfather ordered.
"I... I broke the vase." Alfonso gasped, he's going to get it now, he thought. "B... but it was a... a accident." Neymar wondered how long before his granddad would whack the boy, he didn't look at all pleased. But Mateo seemed to find his voice and his courage. He told his grandfather what Gualter had done and how he had run downstairs to get away, but Gualter caught him. He said the older boy grabbed him and hit him with one of the canes from the umbrella stand, the thin ones. As he twisted trying to get loose he must have knocked the "vase thing," he said. It came crashing down breaking into pieces, he got free and ran back to the bedroom, locking himself in. His grandfather gave Mateo a stern look. "It was an accident," Mateo repeated sniffling, "but I broke it. And...," he took a deep breath, "if you think I should get spanked for that..." He trailed off, starting to cry.
Alfonso thought the boy had balls to say that. Maybe his granddad believed it was an accident, but the rest, he found a little hard to believe. "Mateo," his grandfather addressed the boy, "if you are trying to put the blame on Gualter, in my book that's worse than lying."
"I'm not," Mateo whimpered. "It happened like I said. I broke the vase, I didn't mean too, but Gualter scared me."
Granddad turned his attention to Gualter. "I left you in charge. I gave you the responsibility of taking care of your cousin."
"He's lying granddad. Trying to get out of being punished. I tried to stop him, but he was just playing up and wouldn't listen, wouldn't keep still, kept running around. And that's what happened."
It was then Neymar spoke up. "Look grandpa, Mateo has got a big mark where Gualter hit him. Neymar didn't believe his older cousin for one minute, he didn't trust him. Their granddad took hold of Mateo's hips and turned him around. He saw the red stripe that stretched across the boy's bottom.
"I was trying to get him to be obedient," Gualter said. "It was just a tap."
"I'm very angry," their grandfather announced. "But I'm not going to punish you now," he told Mateo turning him back to face him. "I'm not sure who to believe, but I'll say this to both of you," he looked over towards Gualter. "If I find out later one of you is lying, you'll be sorry. I am much too angry right now. You can both think about things. After supper you can all get ready for bed and wait for me to come upstairs." He reached forward and pulled up the boy's shorts. "I think I believe one thing, it was an accident. However, if you weren't running around. Anyway..." Their granddad stood up and placed the old leather strap down over the stool. "I won't use that strap on you Mateo. Not unless I find out you were lying, or you give me further cause to use it. You will get the spanking you deserve, after I've had a moment to calm down." Then he left the boys there and walked back to the house.
Gualter followed, but Neymar and Alfonso threw loads of questions at Mateo about what had happened. They put their arms around him and gave him a hug. Both boys believed he was telling the truth. Mateo told them, "I'm still getting a spanking tonight." Neither boy knew what to reply.