Deborah Henry


Copyright: Marion Ettlinger






Brother Ryder, also known as Brother Driver in Surtane, because of his liberal use of a wooden Spalding on the boys, walked back across the makeshift office to his desk and sat down, looking Adrian over.

He’s going to teach me the ropes, Adrian told himself, examining the military expression on the man’s face, with its pockmarks and jut- ting cheeks that seemed sculpted in his cement complexion.

“Come in, boy. Shut the door behind you.”

Adrian stepped into the middle of the room, looked at the closed gray blinds, but heard distant hobnail boots marching, the smell of alcohol, pungent despite the draft from open windows. I repent was written in faintly noticeable cursive on the chalkboard.

“Take a few steps closer and stand there,” Brother Ryder said, reading a document in a manila folder.

“You’re to be called ‘Ellis,’ is it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But you’re really a McKeever?”

Adrian shrugged.

“You’re a strange one, wanting to be called Ellis.”

“That’s my family name, sir.”

“You’re part of our family while you’re in here. Our private club.

Charter member,” Brother Ryder said and chuckled. “We work as a team here. Keep your eyes to yourself, Ellis,” he said, reading Sister Agnes’s report. “Just answer yes or no. Do you understand, Ellis?”

He said his words slowly, evidently thoroughly engaged in his reading. Adrian peered over the file and upside down deciphered her bloody words. Episodes of sexual arousal and/or misconduct. Occasional mischievous thoughts and deeds.

“I want no other words from you.”

“Yes, sir.”

Overly attached to members of the opposite sex. I expect. Discipline at Surtane will correct this.

“Any more words out of you and you’ll have your knickers round your ankles, and you’ll be holding on to that chair for dear life,” he said, gesturing with his club. It had a large ivorine golf ball handle.

Adrian dared not look up.
“Are you a nosy boy, Ellis?”

“No, sir.”

“I told you, you bloody eejit, nothing but yes or no. Pull down your bloody trousers, and stand there in your knickers.”

Stunned by this, Adrian gawked at him.

“Go on now, as I tell you.”

Adrian fumbled, feeling his fingers getting clammy as he let his woolen trousers down.

“Not a word from you, just yes or no.”

Brother Ryder was staring at him. Adrian heard a humming from the electricity in the eerie silence.

“Are you nosy, Ellis?”


“Are you curious about what goes on in this room?”


“You are nosy, then. Why are you looking at the cabinets, boy? Look at me.”

Adrian looked directly into the man’s eyes, black peas, like a pigeon’s.

Brother Ryder raised his wooden club, reached out with it, and touched Adrian between the thighs.

“One move from you and you’ll feel this Sabbath stick across your back. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

He slowly diddled him with the golf ball grip.

“Do you masturbate, Ellis?”


“Do you play with these? Look at me, and no lies.” Adrian stared into his face, holding back tears.


“I think you’re lying, Ellis.”

“No,” he said again, louder.

“Yes, you do, Ellis. I’ve heard about you.”


“Do you like girls, Adrian?”


“Do you like boys, then? Are you a fairy?”


“Then which, girls or boys? Do you like girls?”


“Aha! Now at least you’re being honest. Have you ever done it with a girl, mister big stuff?”


“Not even at night, diddling yourself ?”


“Let me tell you, boy. Don’t diddle yourself. It’s not healthy. It’ll

tempt you. And temptation leads right to the Devil’s door. Well,” he said and closed the folder. He walked around the desk and stood behind Adrian. He smacked the boy hard in the back.

“Don’t,” Ryder declared, “let me catch you getting into trouble here. We keep Surtaners free from the Devil, Ellis. I’ll knock the shit out of you if I have to. Do you understand?”



Adrian felt the shaft of the club stick his backside and then, slide

up, and strike his privates. Adrian gasped and let out a scream.

“You have bad blood, Adrian. You’ll come to nothing. Pull up your trousers and go into the chapel. Say three Our Fathers. I won’t have much use for the shaft if you keep clean, now will I, Ellis?”


“After you go to chapel, go up to the fitting room and get outfit- ted.”




“Welcome to the Whipping Club.”











Deborah Henry attended American College in Paris and graduated cum laude from Boston University with a minor in French language and literature. She received her MFA at Fairfield University. She is an active member of The Academy of American Poets, a Board member ofCavankerry Press and a patron of the Irish Arts Center in New York.

Curious about the duality of her own Jewish/Irish heritage, Henry was inspired to examine the territory of interfaith marriage and in so doing was led to the subject of the Irish Industrial School system. She has traveled to Ireland where she has done extensive research and interviews, including those with Mary Raftery (States of Feardocumentary filmmaker and co-author of Suffer the Little Children) and Mike Milotte (award-winning journalist), as well as first-hand reports from the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries, Mother Baby Homes, Orphanages and the Industrial Schools.

Her first short story was published by The Copperfield Review, was a historical fiction finalist for Solander Magazine of The Historical Novel Society and was longlisted in the 2009/10 Fish Short Story Prize.

THE WHIPPING CLUB is her first novel. She lives in Fairfield, Connecticut with her husband and their three children. She is currently at work on her next book.







The Whipping Club By Deborah Henry, Cinematic Book 







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