The Shiek

by Gary <>

I had been assigned to work in Saudi Arabia for an engineering firm. I lived there for about two years. As senior advisor for the project, I had a great deal of contact with one of the more influential and powerful shieks, also an engineer, who was responsible for the actual construction. I brought with me a bias that unfortunately carried over into my dealings with this man. Arrogant and condescending on occasion, I openly challenged him and questioned his ability. I tried to show him up and belittle him to his own employees. In mocking jest one day I told someone that Arabs were living proof that the Jews _f_u_c_k_ed camels. He, on the other hand, was always gracious and polite when my childish diatribes flared up.

I often ridiculed what I felt were medieval customs of the country, and, although I was married, openly flirted with his college-educated wife whenever we were alone. She never succumbed to my advances, but that did not keep me from trying whenever I had an opportunity. This perhaps was an attempt for me to further exert my dominance over what I had decided was an inferior colleague and an inferior race of people.

In Saudi Arabia, alcohol is of course forbidden. However, the Saudis tolerate drinking if done in the privacy of the home, including consumption by some of the locals. This is especially true if they have spent a considerable time abroad studying or working. Therefore, most entertaining was done in private homes, so it was not uncommon to see foreigners and a few locals drinking together.

After one such party, the host, who was not really a drinker but provided the beverage for his guests, gave the remaining partly consumed bottles to several guests to take home with them. It is questionable enough to personally transport liquor in a car, but definitely is outlandishly dangerous to have an open bottle in your position.

To this day I still believe it was planned, for when the police pulled me over they immediately ordered me out of the car and began searching it. They would never do this in your home, but it was allowed in your car on the highway because that is public property.

I was allowed to make a phone call from the police station so I called my boss. About an hour later he arrived and we were led into a small private room. He reminded me that several years earlier an Englishman was in the same dilemma. He was sentenced to a canning and immediate expulsion from the country. My assignment here was crucial to my career. Being sent home would destroy it. I will admit, however, that I readily accepted this job because of my interest in corporal punishment. I had hoped to witness as many floggings as possible while here and I did observe a few. But I did not want to witness my own.

He left the room to take a phone call and when he returned said he had good news. The sheik was talking to the police and it might be possible to hush this whole thing up. I couldn't believe that regardless of how badly I treated him, he was going to do whatever he could to help save me. Probably because he needed my expertise on the construction job, I thought.

Finally I was allowed to leave and drove immediately to the sheik's palace. "I can't tell you how grateful I am for your helping me out with this" I told him. "This is incredibly good of you to arrange this for me."

"Well", he responded with a smile, "perhaps it is Solomon the Jew, my partial Hebrew parentage that is coming out in me." I couldn't believe that he had been told my joke.

"You see, I have made a deal on your behalf with the authorities. This accommodation is occasionally permitted for foreigners who break our laws, and for political reasons we do not wish to see them suffer the Saudi type punishment. However, I am obligated by agreement with the judiciary of our county to punish you for your willful disrespect of our laws, but you now have a choice. You may appear in court and accept the judicial punishment that would be decided by the judge which is 12 strokes of the rattan cane, or accept my punishment here in the privacy of this home."

"What do you mean by 'your' punishment", I asked?

"Oh, it is the same punishment. But I will be applying it to you myself."

"You mean a flogging" I stammered.

"Yes. But since you are unaccustomed to the rattan cane we use, an instrument I believe you called barbaric, I will instead allow you some mercy and administer your punishment with a razor strap. I believe this is what you cultured Americans use, is it not?"

My heart was flopping around somewhere near the floor. My mouth was too dry to allow the words to even form, let alone reach my lips. There was nothing I could say. In stunned silence I went from braggart and conqueror to fool. We were both about the same size, but as I looked beyond his immaculentely-groomed beard into his dark eyes, he seemed to grow larger and larger. My heart pounded its way back up into my chest, but I was sweating profusely. I felt like a petulant little child looking up at his father waiting for the command to bend over. I couldn't believe this barbarian was going to discipline me.

I waited alone in his study for about an hour. He finally returned with two dark skinned security officers in army fatigues and told me the punishment would be administered in the main dining room. He led me through the hall and I could see beyond the open door thirty feet ahead into the room that a bench had been placed in the middle with a large pillow across it. As we approached the room I noticed that one of the guards was carrying the razor strap. I wanted to start apologizing for my behavior the past two years. I wanted to thank him again, hoping he would change his mind and let me go. I was too embarrassed to even speak.

All the way down the hall and well into the room my eyes were fixed on the bench. I was imagining how I was going to be placed over it. What it would feel like. Would he take down my trousers? Would my bottom be bare? As we approached the bench I suddenly realized why we had to wait an hour for the punishment to be meted out. About fifteen feet away from the bench sat my boss, the sheik's wife, and my wife.

My face flushed as red as my bottom was to be. My wife looked as stunned as I did. My boss sat expressionless. The sheik's wife sat emotionless, but her eyes betrayed her delight at what was about to happen.

The sheik spoke. "The Koran says that punishment should be painful but not severe. The real purpose of punishment is humiliation. That is why it is given in public, usually the Town Square." He started to undo my belt, and slowly zipped down my pants. "And that is why it is why floggings are given across the bare bottom".

My trousers were taken down to my knees, with my underpants following. I was placed lengthwise across the bench with the pillow under my pelvis. One of the guards grabbed my hands and extended them over my head and held me in place. The other guard held my legs firmly in place.

The Sheik walked in front of me, stooped down to within inches of my face and said, "You will be given 12 lashes with this razor strop."

He backed-off, shook the strop a few times as if to limber it up, looked at the audience for a moment, raised the strop over his head and brought it down across my exposed buttocks. The stroke, echoing around the room, made it sound like three lashes were given.

I didn't know which was worse, the pain or the humiliation. My ass went numb. I looked at my wife.

CRACK. The second blow was twice as bad as the first. My wife winced.

SMACK, CRACK. Two more were administered in quick succession. I struggled to get up but the guards held me firmly down. I wiggled my ass trying to free myself.

CRACK. Now I started to whimper. I looked at the Sheik's wife. She was faintly smiling.

SMACK. "OWW, NO" I yelled. My tear filled eyes appealed to my boss. I had often been arrogant to him as well. I could tell he was straining not to smile or look pleased. I found out later that he was delighted that I was receiving this whipping, and in fact immediately accepted the sheik's terms and made the suggestion that he be allowed to witness my strapping.

The sheik walked in front of me and said, "Perhaps we are not so arrogant now?"

"Please, I'm very sorry. I've had enough", I emplored. Tears were running down my beet-red face.

SEVEN began to make me light headed, not from the pain but the humiliation. My bare ass was sticking up in the air and I was being disciplined like a child. Please hurry and get it over with I thought. I yelled out for him to stop.

I am told that my behind was blazing red at this point. You could count the individual strap marks.

"Would you like me to reduce the sentence," he asked?

Oh God yes please....thank you, thank you" I pleaded.

He motioned to the guard holding my hands. He released me and I started to get up. A hand roughly pushed me back down onto the bench. The guard placed a blindfold over my eyes. I was again held in place.

"I have reduced your sentence to just three more strokes. However, I will give your audience the opportunity to administer them. Your boss who has felt your sarcastic tongue far more times than I have, my wife who has endured your clumsy advances, and your own wife who has suffered your own marital indiscretions will each be given the opportunity to administer the final lashes to you. You will never know who, if any of the these people have taken up my offer."

The next three stokes were as different from each other as they were from the first seven. I suspected that each of them gladly assumed the role of disciplinarian, and not without cause. Each of those last three strokes was far worse than the first. I yelled out after each and by the end of the third was sniffing back the tears.

My whipping produced positive effects, however. I never again insulted the Sheik. I was much more respectful of my boss, if for no other reason that he keeps this incident between us. It wasn't. Several top executives enjoyed the story. And whenever I get out of line with my wife she smugly threatens to tell our friends....or call the Sheik.

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