Kidnapped Rita, Meter Maid
On a particular day in the summer of 1967, a certain criminal gang were about to implement a plan to free a colleague
He was an armed robber on trial for the hold-up at Quaint Jewellers ,and they were working to secure his acquittal. Since he was in fact guilty, this required further illegal activity. Interfering with witnesses is a serious offence, and one lady witness was going to be seriously interfered with. The previous evening, the robber who had not been arrested had met for the third time with an acquaintance who was going to help in facilitating the acquittal of his colleague. They had finalised the details of the day's operation. Its aim was to prevent Rita from appearing in court by abducting her, but the event had to be presented as the side effect of another crime. Otherwise suspicion could fall on the accused man, who would be in much worse trouble.
The prosecution case against him was thought to be shaky by the police. It might look as if the police were just trying to fit up somebody with a criminal record, instead of catching the real culprit. He was a known criminal who had been arrested after a minor accident. The day after the raid, a grey van had been involved in a collision at a junction. The driver had jumped out and fled on foot, but was later arrested on a description from an eye witness. The van, which had been stolen, corresponded to Rita's description and had the same number. The man's defence was that he had not been in the van at that time and knew nothing about the robbery. He admitted stealing the van but said he had taken it only minutes before he was caught.
In the robbery, Holly and Angela had been ordered not to look at the masked men, and had fearfully obeyed. They couldn't give a good description. And the eye witness was not so sure about the man seen leaving the van any more. Rita had on the other hand been able to observe both men's posture and mannerisms, and she had studied the van and thought she remembered the number. So really the outcome all depended on her testimony.
The man who was going to help to make her disappear temporarily was further up the hierarchy of crime than the two robbers, and had more resources and acquaintances available. He had a plan which would ensure that Rita didn't appear in court, and a few days before the trial, he and a colleague had met up with the robber to finalise the details. The robber had explained his opinion of what should be done.
"It mustn't look like our work. Interfering with witnesses and kidnapping is worse than robbery. Personally I'm not going to say anything. Not going to open my mouth at all. She heard my voice. And we don't behave like Pete. You know what he's like, can't help chatting them up even when he's robbing them. So no flirting, no chatting up. She's quite a looker, but put that out of your mind".
"Yes, we got that. We'll talk as if we were about to do a job, maybe holding up a bookie's shop, but she got in the way, and we got panicky. She turned up, we panicked and grabbed her, then we scarpered. Talk about this so she hears. She's bound to think she's been snatched because she's a witness to that job. We take her to the farm I told you about. Steve Hodges place. Hodges doesn’t know or care what goes on down there, so long as he gets his rent. We kept Kenny McGonigle there for a day, he didn't get loose and nobody found him, did they. And he's a hardnut. Your lady friend will be easy by comparison. We keep her overnight, make out we don't know what we're going to do with her, then we let her go, in the afternoon"
"What do you mean, let her go?"
"Oh, we dump her, not near the farm, more likely back where we grabbed her."
"OK, I was worried for a moment there. If she gets killed they'll never stop looking for us. Remember though, she mustn't see anything that connects us with that robbery"
"Well just remember what will happen to Pete if she shows up at court".
So the plan was devised, the arrangements made, and not many days later, Rita was suffering the consequences of the plan.
In a County Court, proceedings in the trial of an armed robber had not gone according to plan, because the main prosecution witness had failed to appear. She had been unavoidably delayed.
In a shed on a field of allotments, near the entry gate, a dishevelled and distressed Rita was hoping to be freed after almost twenty four hours of captivity. The pretty brunette's wrists were tied separately behind her back, each one bound with rope to the opposite elbow Yards of rope had been wound round her upper body, above and below her breasts, fastening her arms tightly to her sides. Her legs had been bound at the ankles and knees. And as if that wasn't bad enough, after carrying her to the shed her captors had made it much less comfortable for her. She had been placed face down on the dusty floor, her bound feet pulled upwards and cords from them connected to the ropes round her arms and body. She couldn't straighten her legs, and she most certainly couldn't kneel or sit up. She was still gagged and blindfolded at that time, and expected to be left that way, so it was a relatively pleasant surprise when one of them began to unfasten the gag. "No need for this anymore. Once we're away you can shout all you like, I doubt anyone will hear you out here. I'll take the blindfold off just as we go, don't want you seeing us. Who says we don't treat our guests well?"
Rita was tempted to make a sarcastic comment, but remembering what had happened the previous evening, she bit her tongue. She guessed that a smart answer might get her another spanking. She just kept quiet and said nothing, while the elaborate blindfold was removed. She blinked in the light; her eyes had been covered since about this time yesterday. At this point the man swiftly moved away from her, she heard the shed door shut before she had a chance to look round. She was alone, abandoned and helpless. At least she wasn't gagged or blindfolded any more, which almost seemed like a treat after the last few hours. But shut in a shed heaven knows where, it didn't make much difference. There was nothing to see and no one to hear her. Looking around at the inside of the shed, she could see a rake and a hoe, hanging from hooks on the wall, but nothing with a blade. She could see cobwebs at the grimy window, and a spider sat in the centre of one of them. She hoped it would stay there, she dreaded the thought of one of them scuttling over her while she was bound like this. Putting spiders out of her mind, she wondered if the shed door was locked. She could see the door had a lock on the inside, but she couldn’t remember hearing them lock it. But they might have, she hadn't been paying attention. When they had brought her here, one had carried her in his arms while the other had opened the door. Blindfolded, Rita didn't see the man lift a brick and pick up the key that was under it, so she didn't know if it had been locked. Not that she could get near the lock, trussed up in a web of ropes on the floor.
She knew she must look a mess. Since the previous afternoon she hadn't been able to wash properly, to make up or to change. Her hat had gone missing somewhere, her tights were ripped at the knees. Her dark blue skirt was creased and dusty, and her once-crisp white blouse was damp with perspiration and streaked with dust and grime. Her tie was still knotted, if a little loose, her collar was still buttoned and her sleeves still rolled up above her elbows. Her hat was gone, probably still in the back of the van. Ever since soon after her abduction, apart from a brief interlude, her arms had been bound to her sides with ropes round her above and below her breasts. For almost all of that time, her hands had been tied behind her back as well, but one had been untied occasionally, to enable her to feed and use the toilet. Soon after her capture they had asked if she was right or left handed. She told them she was right-handed, and so they had only ever untied her left hand. Much less chance of her doing anything her captors didn't like, that way.
So Rita, who was always so fastidious about her appearance, was desperate to have a proper wash and change clothes as soon as she was free.
She just hoped that when she was set free, there wouldn't be any news reporters or photographers. She had been interviewed about the jewellery robbery, and her picture had been in several newspapers. She had unwisely told a reporter that one of the robbers had kissed her, and the more sensational papers had made something of this. "Tied-up Traffic Warden kissed by Robber", "Masked Man Flirts With Bound Rita", "Rita's Romantic Robber" had been the more embarrassing headlines. She was still getting her leg pulled about it. Well, this time she would be a lot more careful about what she told them.
Her friends who were caught up in the robbery had been terrified, but Rita was made of sterner stuff. It wasn't as distressing for her as it might have been, thanks to the romantic robber. And her boyfriend Bert, a few days after the robbery, had remarked that she wasn't surprised about the kiss, as she probably looked delicious tied up like that. Soon enough they had re-enacted the event in Bert's flat on more than one occasion, with Rita both in and out of uniform. The scope of their sex life had definitely been enhanced by the robbery.
Rita still wasn't sure whether or not she had really interrupted a robbery, or whether it had something to do with the trial. The trial that was probably over now. She wondered what the outcome was. She would find out soon enough. But how much longer was she going to have to wait before somebody came to the shed. The two men had said they would phone the police as soon as they were miles away. They had explained this while removing her blindfold and gag and ordering her not to try to escape for a few minutes. This was an unnecessary warning, she knew she wasn't going to get loose on her own. If she had learnt anything in the last few hours it was that she had no escapology skills. And then there was the trial. How much trouble would she be in for not testifying, she wondered. Thinking about it worried her a little, though she knew that logically nobody could blame her for getting snatched from the street. How could she know these criminals would be there after all.
She cast her mind back to the previous afternoon. It had been soon after lunch, a sunny Tuesday in late summer, and to a casual observer watching the traffic warden walking slowly down the row of parked cars, there was nothing unusual in her demeanour. Just a typical meter maid, in summer uniform. An attractive, generously proportioned brunette, looking immaculate in a crisp white blouse with the sleeves neatly rolled up past her elbows, a navy blue tie and knee length skirt, flesh-coloured tights and a pair of comfortable black lace-up shoes, doing the same things that she did every day. But the observer wouldn't have guessed what was going on in her mind. She was feeling uncharacteristically nervous. She didn't like to admit to being scared, but she had a sort of foreboding about the next day. She wouldn't be at work. She would be appearing in court, testifying against a defendant. He was suspected of being one of the pair who had held up the Quaint Jewellers shop, leaving Rita and two shop workers bound and gagged. She was concerned because there had been two robbers, but only one man was on trial. She wondered what the second man was doing. It seemed that she, Rita, was only the one who could put them both away. She had an uneasy feeling that he might be planning something unpleasant for her. The police, including her boyfriend Bert, thought she had nothing to worry about. Bert had assured her that thieves had no honour, and the one who escaped would be miles away by now, just glad that he wasn't caught. He wouldn't be giving a moment's thought to helping his partner in crime. Rita just hoped he was right, but she still thought she wouldn’t' feel at ease until it was over.
Before that robbery she had felt that her life in this town was too dull, and a bit of excitement, a bit of danger, was what she needed. Well, she'd certainly had some of that .Being held at gunpoint, then trussed up and gagged by armed robbers was frightening at first, but the robbers hadn't been really violent. Gentlemanly, flirtatious, almost chivalrous, she thought. In retrospect, it had been quite exciting. Strangely she was more worried now than she was while it was happening.
Her worries were jostled of course because at that moment she wasn't the only person with the next day's court case on their mind. There were some others who were thinking about it, and they were illegally parked, just around the next corner.
Bloody van drivers, Rita muttered to herself. It's always them who think they can break the rules. The back door was slightly ajar, but she ignored that and went to the front. She wrote a ticket and was about to fix it to the windscreen when she heard the back door open. "Hello. Won't be long, darling, don't give me a ticket". She turned round. I'll soon sort you out, she thought.
"No, it just won't do. You don't get off that easily." She strode to the back of the van, and didn't pay any heed to the person who had stepped out of a gateway and was walking behind her, carrying an empty canvas shopping bag. The back doors were wide open now, she could see the first man's feet but that was all.
She stepped off the kerb behind the van. She was horrified to see the stocking-masked man behind the open door who was lunging toward her, at the same time as she became aware of movement close behind her. Suddenly she was in darkness, as the man behind dropped the shopping bag over her head. Two pairs of hands grabbed her and lifted her bodily into the back of the van. She was forced face down on the van floor, on a stale-smelling blanket. "Shut up and keep still" said a gruff voice with an Irish accent.
Rita was momentarily too shocked to shout anyway. Someone who was heavy was kneeling astride her thighs. Her hands were seized and pulled behind her back. Oh no, not again, she thought as she felt the ropes being quickly wrapped round her wrists several times and pulled painfully tight. Then the cord was passed through her black leather belt, fastening her hands in the small of her back. Once her crossed wrists were securely bound, the man shifted his weight off her. He turned his attention to her feet. She felt the cord being deftly passed round and round her nylon-clad ankles before being knotted. All this seemed to happen in just a few seconds. At the same time a second pair of hands pulled away the shopping bag from her head. She glimpsed daylight again but only for an instant, before a length of fabric was wrapped round her head, over her eyes, and knotted at the back of her head. She didn't dare to move while this was happening.
"Good girl" said the Irish voice. "Just do as we say and you'll be all right. Or you'll get more of this". She suppressed a squeal as he delivered a couple of hearty smacks to her bottom. She lay still and quiet as her lifted her feet in the air and tied more rope from them to her bound wrists.
"OK, let's go. Call the job off and let's get out. It's gone wrong, can't go through with it now. She's hogtied, that will do for now. She's a cop. We can't carry on now". The man got out and slammed the back doors. Moments later the van moved off. Rita, laying face down in the back, was stunned by the speed of events. One minute she had been carrying out the routine of her job, just giving out another ticket, next minute she was being tied up, abducted, taken away. Call off the job, he had said. Can't carry on. What job was that? It sounded as if they had been about to rob somewhere, but her appearance had scared them off. They thought she was a policewoman. It was the uniform, she thought, it wasn't the first time she'd been mistaken for a policewoman. Strange how she had worried about giving evidence, thinking that might put her in danger. And now she'd been kidnapped by another gang, and they didn't even know about any court case. She didn't dare to try anything. It sounded like they might have just grabbed her in a moment of unthinking panic, so maybe they would soon let her go. If only they would just stop the van somewhere quiet, untie her and send her on her way. Then she had an unwelcome vision of her being dumped at the roadside, bound and blindfolded, to be found by strangers. But neither of these things happened. It wasn't going to be that easy. Rita struggled against the cords, trying to reach knots with her fingers, but to no avail. The van continued on its way, stopping now and then. Rita guessed the long stops were at traffic lights but had no way of knowing which direction was being taken. Eventually the van travelled at high speed without stopping for a long time, half an hour or more. She was being taken out of town, but where?
An hour or more later, the van had stopped and the engine was turned off. Rita had no idea where she was. She heard the back doors opening. Somebody climbed in and she felt hands checking the ropes round her wrists and ankles. She could have told them the knots were still tight. "You all right?" It was the Irish voice again. He had a cheerful middle-aged voice and sounded concerned, and she was a bit less scared than she might have been.
Rita decided to play the frightened little mouse. It wasn't usually her style, but today she was quite scared. And as a bound and helpless captive her options were limited.
"No I'm not all right. I'm all tied up and I'm frightened and these ropes hurt. I want to go home. Why are you doing this?"
"We were going to do a job, but you came along and wrote the van number down, so we called it off. We thought you were the law. We couldn't just leave you there, screaming for the cops. There's no need to be scared. We'll let you go soon, just got to sort something out"
Rita felt as if a huge weight was being lifted from her mind. They had taken her by mistake. She was going to be free soon! "So you could untie me, will you do that. Please. Now you know I'm not a policewoman". She put on her most appealing voice.
"Five minutes, then you get untied. Just wait five minutes." She heard him getting out of the van and walking away. She heard voices but couldn't make out any words. But it didn't matter, they were going to let her go. She did feel a bit ashamed saying she wasn't a policewoman. As if it was all right for a real WPC to be snatched from the street and tied up, but not a Traffic Warden.
Ten minutes later, the man returned, got back in the van and began to untie her, first her feet, then her hands. He helped her to sit up, but said "Don't touch the blindfold. If you want to get out of here you mustn't see us. We're going somewhere. Here, I'll help you out. He took her by both hands and pulled her carefully toward the open doors, so that her feet hung down. To her surprise he pulled her forwards out of the van and helped her to stand, albeit unsteadily. His hand grasped hers. "You've got to come with me, you're going home in a different car. Come on".
Rita tried to guess where she might be. She couldn’t hear any traffic noises, but there was some distant birdsong. He led her along a tarmac path or drive, and she realised that she could hear the footsteps of two others, as well as the talkative Irishman. She felt a sudden panic and was on the verge of resisting, of asking who was walking with them. Until she recalled his remark about not seeing them. It was definitely safest to keep quiet, even though she was scared again now.
A door opened in front of them and she was led through it. The sound was different, she realised they were indoors. Not on carpet though, it felt like a dirt floor. Like in a farm building, she thought. Her hand was pressed down on a wooden rail. "Go up the steps carefully. I'm right behind you and somebody's waiting for you. Hold the rails both sides". Gingerly she climbed the steps. It didn't feel like a staircase in a house. There was nothing between the steps, she was sure of that. Definitely a farm building. As she reached the top her hand was gripped again by someone in front of her. She was being led cross a wooden floor now.
"Where am I going now? When are you going to let me go?" She couldn't keep quiet any longer. The response was an unexpected one.
"Are you right or left-handed? Which is it?" It was the Irish man.
"I'm right-handed. What's that got to do with anything?"
"Good. Now, open your mouth wide for a moment please".
Rita, suspecting nothing, opened her mouth wide without thinking and was horrified when a knotted piece of fabric was forced into her mouth. She raised her hands to resist but strong arms gripped her from in front, pinning her arms to her sides while behind her someone pulled the ends of the fabric tight and knotted them at the back of her head. They weren't going to let her go, the horrible realisation struck her. She wasn't being freed, she was being tied up again. She tried to kick out, but didn't connect. she felt the man who was gripping her step to one side, without slackening his grip.
"Don't try that again" hissed the Irishman. "We don't intend to hurt you but we will if we have to. We were going to do a job but you came along and spoilt it, poking your nose in. Just doing your job, I know, but too bad. Now we've got to keep you for a few hours till we get some stuff sorted out. I know you'll try to escape so I'm going to make sure you can't. Best to just put up with it. My name's Dermot. Think of me as a friend. It could get a lot worse if you make trouble. You'll get food and a bed".
The last remark raised her spirits somewhat but then she felt ropes being passed round her. Round her body they went, pinning her arms to her sides just below her breasts, then under and round her arms above her elbows, round her body again above her bust, round the arms again. The rolled-up shirtsleeves helped to relieve the pressure on her arms. The process repeated a few times then she was aware the cords were being knotted behind her, in the middle of her back. She stood compliant and unresisting while this was being done. What was the point after all. The man spoke as if he was alone but she knew there were others. At least one had helped to tie her arms. She remembered a phrase she had heard in war films. Resistance really would be futile. She guessed her hands would be bound next and so they were. Strong hands forced her wrists into a crossed position and wound cords round them twice before knotting them. Unexpectedly, the cords were not ever so tight. Nevertheless, she couldn't get them free. The cords round her arms didn't allow enough movement for that. Then a hand took her by the upper arm and pulled her forward. Several more steps, then the hands turned her slightly.
"Sit down. It's a camp bed" said the familiar voice. "I'll help you". The hands pushed her down, she allowed herself to drop clumsily into a sitting position. Like all camp beds it bowed in the middle and in spite of her best efforts she was unable to stop herself rolling backwards, unable to keep her feet down, before tipping sideways. The unseen man caught her by the shoulders and steadied her, sat her up again. "Stockings. Very nice!" he commented. "I don't like tights myself. I hope they don't catch on".
Rita shuddered. They weren't going to hurt her, ok, but it wasn't going to be a pleasant few hours. Knowing that this creep had been looking under her skirt, leering at her underwear, was not reassuring. How safe was she, she wondered. Maybe not at all, she realised. Trussed up like this, there was nothing she could do to protect herself. She just hoped the man was decent enough to respect her. He was a criminal of course, but she knew from her policeman boyfriend Bert that robbers and ordinary criminals had no time for rapists and their like. She just hoped it was true.
"Just need to make sure you don't run off" he continued. He pulled her back into a sitting position, then she felt him forcing her feet together and passing the cord round her ankles. It was wound several times round before being knotted at the front. Was that intentional, so she could not reach it with her fingers, she wondered.
She was aware of him lifting her feet up onto the bed and then his hands were on her shoulders, lowering her onto her side. "Want a cushion? You may as well rest for a while, before dinner".
Dinner, she wondered. Was that a joke? his footsteps receded, then returned. He lifted her slightly and placed a cushion or a pillow, she couldn't see which it was, under her head, before lowering her. "See you later then. You aren't going anywhere today so take it easy. Don't cause any trouble and you'll be all right".
Then she was alone. She heard a door close in the distance. For the first time, she was alone, nothing was happening, nothing was being done to her. She decided to lay still and assess her situation. She didn't know where she was, but one thing was certain , they didn't want to be seen. It meant that if she escaped and was caught again, she would be in real trouble. They might even decide to murder her. She shivered. They would have done it by now, if that was the plan. The man had mentioned dinner. With these thoughts buzzing around in her head, she drifted into sleep
Some time later she was woken by Dermot's voice again. She wondered how long she had slept. She hadn't meant to fall asleep, now she had no idea what time it was. For a moment, she forgot she was a bound prisoner. He lifted her into a sitting position with her feet on the floor. "Time for you to eat and drink" he announced. "I'm going to untie your feet, but first I'll take the gag off. You understand you better not try anything, don't you? And don't ask questions". He was holding her chin up. Rita nodded. The gag was quickly removed and he squatted to untie her feet. She was being guided to what she guessed was a different room where to her surprise he began to untie her wrists. "Right-handed, wasn't it". He took her right hand and pushed it up behind her back to her left elbow, then retied it to the cords round her arms and body. "Lunchtime. A bit late in the day, sorry about that. Sit down, I'll help you".
He guided her into a hard wooden chair with a high back. She could smell coffee. He lifted her left hand and placed it on a table. "Cheese sandwiches and coffee, feel round and help yourself. I'll be watching". She heard the movement of another chair as he sat down.
Rita ate and drank slowly, relishing her partial freedom. Her feet and her left hand were free and she wasn't gagged, but she was certain that would soon change. After she had finished, he led her to a toilet. She was glad of this, though she hadn't dared to ask.
But then at the toilet door she said "I need both hands and I need to see what I'm doing".
"No you don't. You can do it all one-handed. It'll just take longer".
"Can't I at least do my hair? Please, what harm can it do?"
He sighed impatiently. "I'm losing patience. Maybe I'll tie your hands again and pull your knickers down myself. Don't think I wouldn't like to"
That was enough. Rita cringed "No, OK, I'll do what you say". She caved in. She didn't want that.
"I'll shut the door. I don't need to watch you that closely. If you mess with the blindfold you'll be very sorry".
"Don't worry, I won't touch it" Rita snapped. She guessed that any attempts at escape would fail, and she would suffer the consequences. Whatever that was she didn't care to find out. She did the best she could with only her left hand. She couldn't pull her panties down very far and pulling them up properly afterwards and getting comfortable was just imposssible. Trust a man to think that she could do this one-handed. She didn't want to leave them pulled higher on one side, she would have to put up with the discomfort through a few hours more of being tied. She settled for getting the waistband up to her hips, glumly aware that however unsatisfactory this was, the alternative was asking the Irishman to help. She suddenly thought about her hair. She bent her head and felt with her one free hand. Yes it was a mess, lots of pins had come out and presumably were in the van or somewhere. Her lovely long brown hair that she had taken so much trouble to pin up, she was almost glad she couldn't see it. Then the man interrupted her thoughts.
"Going to be much longer? Have I got to come and get you?"
With a sigh of impatience, Rita turned and felt for the door. She had momentarily forgotten where she was. No point in being a prima donna here. Once she was outside the man took her free hand and bound it to the opposite elbow behind her back, without a word and with an efficiency that depressed her. She was led back, she didn't know where to, until he said "You can sit in the chair for a bit, listen to the radio. S'pose you like the pirate stations?"
What Rita didn't know was that the gang wanted to talk freely without being overheard. She had only heard Dermot's voice, and that wouldn't incriminate anyone. Loud pop music would ensure that their prisoner didn't hear anything useful. She thought quickly.
There was an opportunity here. "Yes, I'd like that". Hopefully she followed up with "Do I still need to be tied up?".
"Oh yes, and you'll be tied to the chair, but I won't gag you unless you make trouble".
"I won't make a noise. But look at my hair. I must look like a scarecrow. Can't you just untie me for long enough to tidy it up?" She had a vague idea that she could hide the pins in her hand and use them to get free, she wasn't sure how.
"I don't think so. It looks a mess, you're right, but I don't think I'll untie you"
About half an hour later, Rita sat on the wooden chair, her bottom finding it increasingly hard and uncomfortable. She was bound to the chair by a length of cord passed three times round her waist and knotted. Not too tight, but her feet were tied together at the ankles and fastened to the left front chair leg. She wasn't going anywhere. She had been listening to Radio Caroline, the reception fading and returning all the time, when Dermot returned. "I'm going to help out with your hair. Can't have a pretty lady looking a mess while she's our guest". To Rita's surprise her chair, with her bound to it, was being pushed across the floor.
"What are you doing?" she cried in a panic. The movement suddenly stopped.
"I'm going to take the blindfold off for a few minutes. You are facing into the corner, so don't look round. I got my face covered, but you'll still get hurt if you turn round. Understand?"
"I understand, I won't look. What are you going to do though?"
“I'm going to gag you if you ask questions, that's what". Rita took the hint and said no more. First he removed the blindfold, which she saw was a piece of torn-up bedsheet. She blinked as her eyes got accustomed to the light, though it was actually rather gloomy. She tried to see as much as possible, without being seen to look round. The wall of the room was wooden, as if it was a farm barn. It was dusty and she could see cobwebs where it met the ceiling. She shuddered, she didn't like spiders and she didn't care to think about them running over her while she was tied up. The floor, the part she could see, was wooden boards covered partially by very old linoleum. Suddenly the man was pulling out the remaining hairpins, and she involuntary tried to pull her head away. "Keep still. I'm tidying your hair. Don't move, don't speak, how many more times must I tell you?" He yanked a handful of her hair. "I don't have to be as nice to you as I am".
Rita winced. She sat still, suffering in silence as he pulled her hair back tightly into a pony tail, gathering it at the back of her head. He dangled a thick rubber band in front of her briefly. "Your new hair ribbon" he remarked. He spent some time fastening her hair with it, he obviously wasn't used to doing this, she thought. When he was finished, he showed her something else. It was a roll of gauze bandage. He had a safety pin in his hand as well ."Do you like it? You'll be looking at it for quite some time I'm afraid!"
"I'll try to get used to it" said Rita defiantly.
"You'd like to be gagged as well, would you? Or did you forget what I said about talking?"
"Forgot" she said sulkily.
"OK, I'll let you off., now, must get on".
He placed the fabric over her eyes and began to wind it round her head. He was very methodical, she thought, didn't want it coming loose on its own. It was passed round three times, twice below her pony tail and once above it, knotted, and then she felt the safety pin being pushed into place, at the back of her head. She was well and truly bandaged up, more thoroughly than she needed to be, but she said nothing. She didn't want to be gagged with the same thoroughness. "Bedtime in an hour or so, see you then" he said. She listened to his footsteps fading into the distance. Once again, she was left with Radio Caroline for company. But the reception was getting worse, as it always did later in the evening.
She could hear voices, and as the radio signal grew occasionally fainter, she could make out some of what was being said.
There were two voices, and one of them was that of Dermot. The other voice said "Ray! he's just a kid. Is it smart, leaving him here on his own to guard her?"
"He'll be all right. He's pulled his weight on the jobs so far". It was Dermot speaking but it suddenly struck her that he didn't have an Irish accent any more. She thought about this. It must be an act just to ensure that whatever she told the police about her abductors would be wrong. No doubt his name was not Dermot either. Rita froze at the next thing that she overheard. "ok, but we know he likes to touch the women, remember that wages office job. He really made a meal of tying that big blonde cashier up, didn't he".
"He's been warned about that. I don't want the law after us for rape or anything like that. No, I think he's got the sense to be careful."
"Right. Once she's put to bed, we go and get it. All Ray has to do is make sure she doesn’t get away"
"Don't worry about that. She hasn't got loose so far, and she's going to be trussed up even better once she's in bed"
"I'll just be glad when it's tomorrow afternoon and we've dumped her. I don't like this, kidnapping. Too much can go wrong."
Rita listened intently. To her annoyance the radio signal grew stronger and though she could still hear speech, she couldn't make out what was being said. She struggled uselessly against the ropes again. She knew it wouldn't do any good, but it was so frustrating, just sitting still. She thought about what she had heard. They were going to dump her tomorrow afternoon. But where, and would they just set her free, or would they just leave her trussed up, gagged and blindfolded where nobody would find her for ages. They didn't seem that bad, she thought. But she was going to be left with somebody who liked to touch unwilling women. Women who were tied up, by the sound of it. And she was going to be put to bed, and trussed up even better. She wanted to scream, how much better did she need to be tied up for heaven's sake. Already she could hardly move a finger, and couldn't see anything.
Rita was able to keep track of time because of the radio, so she knew that an hour passed her captors entered the room again. "Dermot" spoke in his fake Irish accent.
"You can go to the ladies again now. Make the most of it, you're going to bed after that. Anything you need? We don't want you getting ill or anything, we aren't monsters".
"Well, not being tied up any more would be nice. Just while I'm in bed"
"Forget that, you stay tied up. So there's no sensible requests then?"
"Well, what if you untied me just so I can freshen up. I'd appreciate that. I know you'll tie me up again afterwards. Please". Rita tried to sound as appealing as she could.
"Sorry, no. For one thing. you wouldn't get very fresh in there. You should be glad you can't see it. It's just a bog, don't be fooled by me calling it the ladies. And I went to so much trouble, tying you up nice and comfortable, I don't want to have to do it all over again".
"Well, thanks for nothing!" Rita blurted out sarcastically. "Why did you ask?"
"Careful now. I'd shut up now if I was you. I could gag you now and my friend here could help you in the ladies, instead of having your hands untied. Wouldn’t like that, would you?"
"No" she muttered sulkily. "Sorry". She thought it would do no harm to say sorry. She wasn't in a position to get stroppy. She thought about asking for a glass of water, but then she imagined herself lying here helpless in the small hours, bound and probably gagged, desperate for a pee, trying not to wet herself.
With her left hand free she was taken to the toilet where she repeated the pantomime of trying to do everything one handed. It wasn't any easier the second time. She stayed in there as long as possible until Dermot threatened to come in and get her. Once out, her hand was tied behind her to her left elbow and she was led by the arm to where the camp bed awaited her. She realised it was a different room. It was warmer and it smelt more dusty. Hands guided her until she felt the edge of the bed on the back of her lower leg. "You can sit down now".
She lowered herself carefully, managing not to roll over backward this time. As soon as she was seated he was winding cord round her ankles ,cinching it between her legs and knotting it. Then he lifted her feet onto the bed and lowered her onto her side, then manoeuvred her so that her head was next to the pillow. He rolled her over on to her face and turned her head, so she was resting it on the pillow facing sideways. "What are you doing?" she asked in a panic.
"Just making you comfortable for the night. Listen, I won't gag you if you keep quiet, so shut up now".
Rita didn't push her luck any further. While he was meticulously binding her to the bed, she followed his movements trying to imagine what she must look like. Eventually he was finished, and she was securely fastened to the bed at one end by ropes from her bound ankles that went under it and back to her feet. Not holding her too closely to the bed, but enough to stop her moving her feet far. In the middle, another length had been connected to the web of ropes around her upper arms, then passed under the bed and up again, and securely fastened. Admiring his handiwork, he addressed Rita as if seeking her approval."You'll be able to turn on your side, just about, but you won't be able to roll over on your back or sit up. If you stay face down the ropes round the bed won't pull so tight".
Rita said nothing. She thought of saying something like "oh, you're so thoughtful, you really know how to treat a lady. It's just like spending a day with Omar Sharif". But she kept her sarcasm to herself, she didn't want to provoke him into gagging her. That was just about the only bit of discomfort she had been spared.
"Goodnight then. Just call room service if you need anything." he said cheerfully.
This time she did respond. "Oh thanks, I'll do that"
By way of reply Rita was startled by a hearty smack on her upturned bottom. "See you later then". She listened as the sound of his footsteps grew fainter. The radio was still on, but the signal was fading as it always did at night. Her thoughts returned to the overheard conversation. She could hear faint movement, far away, but no speech. Eventually the radio programme changed, and she realised that she had been alone for more than half an hour. She wondered if the men had gone out, leaving her alone and helpless with the tactile Ray. Soon she heard footsteps approaching, somebody lighter and faster than Dermot. He was standing close, she could hear him breathing. She heard a chair being dragged across the floor, closer to her bed. The man sat down, without a word. She heard some rustling sounds and something that sounded like scissors cutting fabric. The radio went quiet, he must have turned the volume down. Eventually he spoke. "You can talk to me, you know. What's your name?"
Rita thought for a moment. Then, thinking she had better not annoy him, opened her mouth to reply. To her horror, he immediately forced a knotted lump of fabric into her mouth, then she felt it pulling tight and being knotted behind her head, below her pony tail. "What are you doing this for?" she tried to shout, but all that came out was a series of "mmmphs". "I'm going to tell them you started shouting, so I had to gag you. If you say anything different, they won't believe you, but if they do, remember I'll be around to get my own back. You'll be sorry if you get me in trouble". She froze as he leaned over against her and cupped a hand over each breast, squeezing them gently. Sensing her fear, he released his grip slowly and pulled away. "Just getting to know you. I don't want to get dirty handprints on your blouse. But that's no reason why I can't have some harmless fun". Rita heard him moving the chair again. He sat down. What was he going to do, sitting down, she wondered. "Anybody ever tell you what a nice bottom you've got?" he asked. She felt her skirt being pulled right up at the back, his hand stroking her buttocks through her panties. "It would be a pity not to give you a spanking. I bet you deserve it. I bet you've been a naughty girl in your time". This was followed by a sharp slap on her bottom, which made squeal into her gag and jerk against her ropes. He had big hands, the smack made both buttocks sting equally. He chuckled and slapped her bottom again, harder this time.
How long was this going to go in, Rita thought with a feeling of despair. Another slap, and then she heard the sound of a door opening somewhere in the building. The man stopped, he had heard it as well. The others were back. "Playtime's over. Just as we were starting to get acquainted!" Rita's sense of relief as he pulled her skirt back over her bottom was spoiled as he gave her four more smacks, over her skirt but still painful. He pulled the chair away from her. She could hear footsteps and voices. "No time to take the gag off. I'll have to say that you started yelling. Don't drop me in it, remember you'll be sorry if you do".
With that threat he left the room, having first turned up the radio. Now that she was alone Rita felt near to tears. Had she had a lucky escape from a potential rapist? Probably not, she tried to reassure herself. It seemed from his last threat that he was scared of the others, but what if they left her alone with him again? Now she couldn't hear anything clearly because of the radio. Presumably now she was going to be left alone till the morning. Gagged, as well as bound to the bed and blindfolded. At least before she could shout if she needed anything, if she felt unwell. Maybe the pseudo-Irishman would come back and take pity on her.
About half an hour passed, she knew this by the radio programmes changing over, when "Dermot" joined her. He wasn't happy. "So you don't know when you're well off. You start shouting as soon as you think you're alone. Well, it looks like he did a good job gagging you, so you can stay like that till I turn in, which is going to be in about half an hour. But I'll give you a little reminder to behave yourself. Know what happens to naughty girls?" Surely not, thought Rita, not again, as she guessed with a sinking feeling what was going to happen. He didn't pull her skirt up, but his first smack on her bottom still stung. A few seconds passed in which she thought that was it, then there was a second smack. Five seconds, then a third, Rita counted up to seven smacks before he stopped. "I'll be back soon then" He sounded different, she guessed that he was aroused. She was so relieved when he left the room. She tried not to dwell on what might have happened, or what could still happen. Either of these men could return and do anything they wanted, there was nothing she could do to stop them.
It was a nightmare. She hadn't even done the thing she was being punished for. She had been tied up by those robbers a few weeks ago, that was bad enough but that sort of thing did happen. But this was ridiculous, being snatched from the street, kept tied up and blindfolded on hours on end. Not allowed to use the toilet properly, or to wash, and then being soundly spanked by two different strangers. She had never heard of women being spanked by criminals, it never got mentioned when robberies were reported in the paper. Rita read newspaper reports of robberies avidly since she had been a central figure in one of them. What else was going to happen to her? She didn't allow herself to think about that. She passed the next half hour trying to free her hands, fumbling around just trying to reach any knot with her fingers, but to no avail. Before long she could hear "Dermot" approaching.
"Learned your lesson, going to behave yourself? I'm going to take that rag out of your mouth, don't want you choking in the night, do we?" Rita felt his fingers at the back of her head, then the fabric was pulled out of her mouth. She opened her mouth wide and took a deep breath. "Sleep well, we're going to let you go in the morning".
Rita didn't reply. She didn't want to talk to any of them. Her dignity was non-existent, she was lying here bound and blindfolded and her bottom stung. They didn't deserve polite conversation. She listened as he walked away.
Her thoughts drifted to the trial tomorrow. Her captors didn't know anything about that apparently, it was a weird coincidence that one gang of criminals had kidnapped her when she was about to testify against another gang. It was hard to believe, but these men kept mentioning an abandoned robbery, so it must be right. So if they were as good as their word, they might set her free in the morning, she could even make it to the court. Or maybe the Police would think her kidnapping was a higher priority.
She wasn't even sure if anybody knew she had been kidnapped. Maybe nobody had seen her being snatched from the street. They would know she hadn't checked in at the police station, but would her boss look into it. She had planned to spend the evening alone in her flat as Bert was on a training course, so she probably hadn't been missed. It was with these thoughts running through her mind that she drifted into sleep. Exhausted by her exceptionally stressful day, she was still asleep the following morning when she woke as "Dermot" approached. At first, waking to find herself bound and blindfolded, she couldn't place where she was or why. Then she remembered it all, it wasn't a nightmare
"You can have a bit of breakfast. A bit of toast and a cup of coffee, all right" Dermot sounded cheerful, but Rita , remembering the events of the previous evening, wasn't feeling friendly. She was just looking forward to being released, and she still thought it might be imminent.
"All right" she said.
The procedure for breakfast was the same as for the previous evening. Rita's feet were freed and she was led away to a table and chair, where with one hand free, she ate her toast and drank her coffee. Then the one-handed visit to the washroom. When she came out, as he was binding her free hand behind her back again, she asked the pressing question. "You're going to let me go this morning, didn't you say? No need to tie me up again really, is there?"
"Dermot" hesitated. "I suppose not. We got some stuff to sort out first though, I think. Tell you what. I'll have to ask the boss about that. I'll put you on the bed and tie your feet, but I won't make a meal of it. Then I'll go and ask".
Rita was led back to the bed, where he sat her down before binding her feet securely at the ankles. He helped her to lie on her side with her head on the pillow. "I'll go and ask the boss now. I'll be right back" he said. Rita was tempted to say that she thought he was the boss, but she had a feeling that it was best to play dumb. There was no sense in letting on that she didn't believe all that she was being told. She knew he wasn't Irish and she knew the other man was named Ray. That knowledge could get her tormentors arrested, although she didn't know where she was being held.
She had been told quite a few times that she was about to be released, so she didn't have high hopes this time. She was right, he didn't return. She had only a vague idea of the time. The radio wasn't on now, so there was no way of telling. Rita rolled over onto her other side and rested her head on the pillow again. There was nothing to do but rest. She knew it was pointless to fight against her ropes. Her wrists were sore now and any struggling caused instant pain. It was almost a treat to just lie still. She remembered the trial that she should have been attending. What would happen, would the man get acquitted for lack of evidence. She was the only one who could positively identify the man, so he might well get off. What would he think if he knew where she was now, why she wasn't in court. Or was her abduction part of a plot to get the man off. It appeared not, but what a coincidence it was. She wondered if she would ever find out what it was all about. Her head buzzing with these questions, she fell asleep again.
She woke with a start when a familiar voice said "Come on, wake up. Time to go. Want to go to the bathroom?" Rita thought for a moment, half awake. Were they going to take her back to where they grabbed her? She could be going on a fairly long journey.
"Yes, please. I do. You mean you're really letting me go?"
"Yes, really". Rita felt herself being lifted into a sitting position. Then the now-familiar routine, she was taken to the toilet with her left hand untied. Out of stubbornness she stayed in the little room until he lost patience and threatened to drag her out. As she expected, her hand was securely tied behind her back again . But that wasn't all.
"Open your mouth wide please".
Rita wasn't about to be gagged without protest. "No, you don't need to gag me now, not if you're letting me go".
"It's a precaution. You could start yelling and get us arrested. You know you'd like to. Now co-operate, just open up or I'll do it the hard way. And I'll smack your bum a few times if you aren't careful".
"OK, I'll co-operate" Rita felt herself blushing. She opened her mouth wide and a knotted length of fabric was forced into her mouth. Behind her someone was knotting the ends of the cloth at the back of her head. Then she knew she was really being released, she was led down some stairs and taken outdoors. She heard the doors of a vehicle being opened, the back doors of a van. She was pushed into a sitting position in the back of the van. Two pairs of hands pulled her inside and laid her on her back on the van floor. The floor felt as if it was covered with an old piece of carpet, at least it was better than the bare metal floor would have been. But then she felt ropes being passed round her ankles and knotted. She was just that the binding didn't seem to be as meticulous as it was the last time, but then she had a moment of helpless panic as her skirt was lifted, then some more cord was being passed round her legs just above her knees. Once the cord was knotted she felt the hem of the skirt being pushed back down.
She suddenly had a horrible thought. What if they weren't really going to free her. They could put her in a sack and drop her in a lake, they could easily dispose of her in all sorts of horrible ways. But then she thought, the blindfold. They took such care that she didn't see a thing, they wouldn't bother if they meant to kill her. As if reading her thoughts, the Irishman spoke. "We're going to leave you somewhere near where we got you, and we'll phone the cops to come and find you". Then, the task of binding her finished, they both got out and closed the doors. Moments later the van was driving away, taking Rita to the allotment shed where she now lay awaiting rescue.
Rita was waiting with growing impatience and anxiety. She didn't know how long she had been in the shed, but it seemed like at least an hour. She had tried to calm her anxiety by thinking about the hot bath she would soon be enjoying, once she was home, and had changed out of her dusty and grimy clothes. It would be lovely just being free, not having her hands tied behind her back like they had been for so long. But right now she could hear rain on the roof of the shed, but not the sound she wanted to hear, which was the sound of approaching police cars.
The rain was getting heavier. I should be grateful they didn't leave me outdoors, thought Rita. The police wouldn't have come and I'd be getting soaked. Then, to her dismay, she saw something moving out of the corner of her eye. A spider had come in under the door, a big one. Rita could see that it wasn't a garden spider, the kind that makes big webs in the hedgerow. It was like the ones that ran about fast, in sheds and garages. It stood still by the door. Rita shivered, just willing it not to run toward her. Then suddenly there were voices, middle-aged men talking. Not far away. "It's going to blow over in ten minutes. I'm going in Harry's shed for a smoke till it stops". I'm going to be rescued at last, she thought, her spirits jumping. At last. But then she heard a shed door opening, not her shed but another one. They might not find her after all. She wasn't having that.
"Help" she yelled at the top of her voice. "Help". It had gone quiet.
"Did you hear that?" one of the voices said.
"Help. I'm in this shed" she shouted.
The voice was near, just outside. "Are you all right? It's locked. Where's the key?"
"Idiots" muttered Rita quietly, then shouted again "I'm not all right. I can't open it, I'm all tied up. Just do something, get me out"
"Says she's tied up. It's locked. What's going on, eh. It was Jim's shed, nobody should be using it now. Look under that brick, he used to keep the key there".
She could hardly believe it when the door opened, release really was at hand at last, after all the lies she had been told. "Keep still for a while, I got a Stanley knife, soon have you out of this. Stop wriggling around".
The other one spoke "Who did this to you, love? Went a bit overboard with the string, didn't he?"
For the first time in twenty four hours, she lost her composure "I don't know who it was" she sobbed. "I've been kept tied up since yesterday afternoon and I don't know why".
Half an hour later ,Rita sat in the back of a police car, heading for her home town, listening to a conversation between the two male constables who sat in the front. "That Pete Fensome got sent down for the jewellery robbery then. The shop girls identified him after all". The other one turned to Rita. "You're from over that way. You heard anything about that?"
A week later, one evening in Rita's flat, She and Bert were talking about her abduction again. "The thing about being not just tied up but blindfolded as well" said Rita "is that you don't know what's going to happen to you until it actually does happen". Bert gave her a sideways look. "Someone could do just what they like to you. Am I going on about this too much?"
"Maybe" said Bert. "It's the third time you've said it. You're being a naughty girl, putting ideas in my head"