Back on Track
“Don’t worry, Uncle – small scale is my line. So, how did you find me?”
“Your mother gave me your address?”
“Do you mean to tell me you were the midwife-hating loony up there? Nice touch, uncle, nice touch.”
“Thank you – but I think it’s time I lay low for a little while now. I just wanted to see if you were all right. Now, I’m afraid I need to make sure your flatmates suspect nothing.”
“Before you do, can I do something?”
Lily stood up, and as George followed suit she moved her bed to one side and removed a floorboard. Retrieving a strongbox, she opened it and took out a wad of twenty pound notes.
“Please, take this as a thank you for all you taught me,” she said as she handed him the money, then replaced everything as it was.
“Thanks, Lily,” he said. “Now, where will it be – the bed or the chair?”
Ten minutes later, George was walking down the road when he started to whistle a tune from his childhood. An old song he liked – and as he whistled he started to sing.
“Weeeelllll drink a drink a drink, to Lily the Pink, the Pink, the Pink…”
As he sang he started to dance, and so did everyone in the street….
George woke up with a cold start. The grim dawn light was starting to come through the closed curtains, and he wiped the sweat off his brow.
“My Lily, a small time thief? Never” he mumbled to himself. He had actually called the night before, on a mobile number that he had, and she had warned him not to come and see him. They talked, that was all, not anything else.
“Must have been that cheese sandwich,” he mumbled to himself as he stretched out on the chair. Looking over, he saw the older woman still asleep on the couch. Her wrists were bound with a length of washing line, the other end of which had been used to tie her ankles together over a pair of thick socks, and she was quietly snoring. He could just make out the traces of adhesive from the tape gag he had used until she fell asleep, and then removed in case she struggled during the night.
“As if I’d give her my contacts as well.” He mumbled as he made his way into the kitchen of the small house. This was the way he had come in the night before, after pilfering some washing line and gaffer tape from a local hardware store. He had followed the woman home from the local store – a woman in her fifties by his reckoning, wearing a grey t-shirt and leggings, a brown lumberjack shirt, mid-length grey socks and walking boots. He watched as she entered the house and the lights went on, then sneaked around the back and forced open the kitchen door with his knife. It was while he was closing the door that the woman had walked in to make herself a cup of tea.
There had been a brief struggle, but George had soon made it clear who was boss, and had forced her to lie on the couch. There he had bound and gagged her, then left her with the television turned up while he made himself something to eat.
“It’s very nice of you to allow me to stay,” he’d said as he sat in her armchair and watched the woman while eating. She had tried to escape, but her wrists were tied in such a way that she couldn’t get to the knots. Eventually she had fallen asleep, and once he was satisfied she was out he had gently peeled the tape gag away.
Now he stood in the kitchen, and as he was filling the kettle he heard a moaning from the front room. Making his way back in, he found the owner slowly opening her eyes.
“Oh – you’re still here then?” she said.
“I’m afraid so, but only for a little while longer. How are you feeling this morning?”
She moved her jaw around. “Sore, and I need to go to the toilet, but I’m grateful for you taking that tape off.”
“Well,” George said, “unless you want that tape right back on again, you do as you are told and don’t make any noise. Do you understand?”
The woman nodded. “Now, is there any chance that I can go to the toilet?”
“Yes, but I’ll need to help you. Let me untie your ankles.”
George knelt at the end of the couch, and untied the rope from around her ankles. “What about my wrists?” she asked.
“No, I think we’ll be able to manage together. Come with me.”
He pulled on the rope and helped the woman to stand up, then led her out of the room towards the toilet. Once inside, he took the rope and tied the loose ends to a heavy basket that had dirty washing in it.
“Let me help you,” George said as he gently pulled her leggings and pants down. “Sit down and do what you must, and then I’ll help you to clean up.”
“Can I at least have the door closed?”
George smiled and left the bathroom; pulling the door to but leaving a crack through which he could see if she did anything other than relieve herself. Eventually he heard the toilet flush, and helped her to pull her pants back up.
“Thank you,” she said as she walked out.
“I should have asked – what’s your name?”
“Elsie – and I suppose you are this George that has been on the news?”
“Guilty as charged my dear – would you like me to fix you some breakfast?”
Elsie looked at the man who was effectively holding her hostage with surprise, and then silently nodded.
A few minutes later, Elsie was sat at the kitchen table while George was making tea and toast. Her hands were now free, but the rope had instead been wrapped around her waist and the back of the chair she was sat on, before being taken down and used to tie her ankles together underneath the seat. There was no cutlery within her reach, but she was sipping orange juice from a plastic cup.
“Here you go,” George said as he passed her a mug of tea and two slices of toast with butter. “I know you didn’t get this last night, so I hope this makes up for it a little.”
Elsie just glared at him, but accepted the proffered food and began to eat. As she took a sip from her tea, she asked “And what happens when we’ve finished?”
“I’ll be on my way,” George replied. “I will, of course, have to make sure you can’t let the police know I’ve been here for a little while, but I promise you I will make it as comfortable as possible for you.”
Elsie put down her cup. “Is it absolutely necessary for you to do that?”
“Elsie, I would not have the reputation I have if I did not consider it necessary, now would I? Finish your drink, and we’ll get this over with as quickly as possible.”
George made his way over to the sink, and after washing his plates he took Elsie’s plate and mug and made sure they were thoroughly cleaned. He dried his hands, came behind Elsie and untied her ankles, and then as she stretched her legs out in front of her he released her from the chair.
“Now then, Elsie,” he said as he helped her up to her feet, “Where would you like to spend the next few hours?”
“I think I’ll watch some television if I’m not going to be able to do anything else” she replied.
“Very well then – back to the living room in that case,” George said as eh led Elsie by the arm back to where she had spent the night.
Making a lasso with the end of the washing line, he passed it over Elsie’s head and pulled it tightly around her arm and chest, then passed the rope around twice more before making a knot under her breasts.
“Please, lie down,” he said, and as Elsie laid herself down on the couch he placed a pillow under her head. George then placed her wrists together and wrapped the rope around and between them to hold them tightly together.
As he finished tying the ends around her ankles, and had just ticked the little loose ends into the rope, both were startled by the sound of a key turning in the front door. George quickly hand gagged Elsie, and both listened as the door was opened and closed quietly.
“Mum,” a female called out, “It’s just me. I tried calling earlier but the phone was busy, so I just came round anyway. Where are you – are you in the kitchen?”
Footsteps could be heard walking down to the kitchen from the other side of the closed door. George leaned over and whispered into Elsie’s ear “Call her in and say nothing else,” before hiding himself behind the door of the room.
Elsie gulped and then called out. “I’m in the living room, love. Why don’t you come in and join me – I’m a little busy at the moment.”
“All right mum, give me a minute,” the voice called back, and both Elsie and George waited with baited breath. Eventually the footsteps came back down the hall, and as the door opened a woman in her early thirties. She was wearing a red leather blouson jacket over a white cream floral print dress, and red patent leather kitten heeled shoes. A freshly made mug of coffee was in her hand as she closed the door behind her.
“So, how are you today mum?” she asked as she turned around, and then let out a small gasp as she saw her mother lying on the couch bound and gagged. You could see her eyes expanding through the lenses of her brown horn rimmed glasses as she took in the sight.
“Mum, what happened? Who did this to you? Have you been robbed?”
“In reverse order,” George replied as he gently took the new arrival by the arm and relieved her of the coffee, “No she has not been robbed yet, I did it to her, and what happened is that your mother has been my host for last night. I was about to leave when you arrived most unexpectedly. Maybe I shouldn’t have pulled that telephone cord out of the wall last night?”
“I’m all right, Janice, just a little sore. Please, do as he says, he’s an escaped prisoner. He hasn’t harmed me, but I want this to be over with quickly.”
Janice looked at her mother, then over her shoulder at the slightly unshaven man with greying hair. “Whhhh what are you going to do to me?” she stammered.
“Well, Janice, I need to make sure I can make a getaway, so you just do exactly what I tell you. Do you have a mobile phone?”
“Please take it out, let me see you switch it off, and then place it on the table there, followed by your handbag and then your jacket. Quickly as you can.”
Janice did as she was asked, and then stood in front of George. “Now what?” she said.
“Turn around and put your hands behind your back, and then don’t move unless I tell you.” As he said this George picked up the roll of duct tape that he had left on the floor on the previous night. Janice turned round, and George quickly wrapped tape around her crossed wrists, then around her waist to hold her bound wrists against her back. More tape was then wrapped around her arms and upper chest.
All the time, Elsie was telling her daughter about the events of the previous night.
“And you spent the entire night there?”
“I’m afraid so, dear, and I’m going to spending a little while longer here as well by the looks of things.”
“Kneel down,” George said as he took Janice by the arm, and helped her to kneel in front of Elsie against the couch. Taking the tape, he bound her ankles and feet together, as well as her legs above her knees.
“Please excuse me for one moment ladies,” George said as he stood up and left the room.
“Mum, I’ve got another mobile phone in my jacket pocket. When he’s gone, I’ll try and call for help.”
“Shh, dear, we may not be able to say much in a minute. Just let me say how sorry I am that this has happened.”
“It’s not your fault, mum, it’s not your fault,” Janice said as the two women started crying.
“How touching” George said as he returned, “but I’m afraid I have to stop your conversation. Elsie, it’s been a pleasure, and Janice, I hope we never meet again.”
Saying this, George gently pushed a balled up scarf into the mouths of each of the two women, before slapping three strips of duct tape over the stuffed cheeks and lips. Waving at them as he left the room, he quietly slipped out of the front door and made his way quietly down the street.
Later that evening, in a pub on the other side of town, some of the customers were watching the report of the latest break in by George Simpson. The two victims had been taken to hospital, suffering from bruises and shock, but the public were again warned “not to approach this dangerous criminal if seen.”
One man in particular was sipping from his point when a voice behind him said “Hello Jack.”
“George,” the man said without turning round, “I just heard you were in these parts.”
“Pass the word around, Jack – I’m putting the band back together. Three days time, the usual place.”
Jack nodded and continued to sip his pint, as George slipped back into the crowded street.