Keeping It In The Family
“Hello, Gill, long time no see.”
“George – oh my god George, is that you?”
“It is, my dear sister- and I am quite sure you’re not that pleased to see me. Now, I have a question to ask you – where’s Lily?”
The woman lay face down on her bed, her wrists and ankles bound with tape over the sleeves and cuffs of her pyjamas. The red-haired man had turned her over after slapping tape over her mouth, mumbling all the time about his late wife and how he would make all midwives pay for that. She turned her head and watched him leave the room with a bag containing her money and cards, and wondered what would happen next.
“In other news, police continue to search for George Simpson, last believed to have been seen in the Manchester area where a young woman was held hostage for three days. The general public are warned to continue to be on the lookout for Simpson, who is five foot ten inches tall with dark hair, and last seen wearing light trousers and jacket.”
Gill turned off the radio in her kitchen and picked up her handbag. She’d heard nothing on the news for weeks now but the search for George Simpson – and she was getting a little fed up with that. So many other things were happening in the world that she felt focusing on one man was a bit too much. Besides, she had a full list of patients to see that day.
As a district midwife, she was dressed in the regulation uniform of a blue, short sleeved top, blue trousers and flat black shoes, and drove the regulation blue Ford Escort with her equipment in the back. Leaving her flat, she headed for the local surgery that was her base of operations, but on arriving there she got the first hint that this was going to be a slightly different day.
At her kitchen table, the woman sat in a chair, her wrists tied to the back of the chair with twine and her ankles tied together. The red-haired man rolled up a napkin and tied it into her mouth, still mumbling about death, wives and midwives then took her purse and left by the back door. She began to struggle in the chair, trying to free her wrists, and wondering what was going on.
Opening the surgery door, the first thing Gill saw were the two reception staff clearing away broken glass and sorting through files that had been scattered over the floor.
“What on earth happened here?” Gill asked.
“Kids, by the look of it. We arrived this morning to find the rear window broken and files scattered around. No drugs have been taken, and all the equipment is still here, so it looks like some kids got in on a dare.”
“Have you called the Police?”
“You just missed them – they said the same thing, so we got a crime number for the insurance company and we have to clear up. What have you got on today?”
“Home visits all morning, but with any luck I’ll be back by the afternoon. Have you got my list there?”
The receptionist handed Gill a list of names and addresses, which she scanned down while resting her bag on the reception desk.
“Hmmm – not too bad, really. What’s Mrs Greene doing on the list, though – She’s not one of my patients.”
“She rang this morning – said it was an urgent matter she needed to discuss with her midwife. None of the others have made it in yet today, so I fitted her in at the end of the round. Why – is there a problem?”
“No, but I don’t normally like stepping on Sue or Kelly’s toes. I’ll just give her a call.”
Gill picked up the phone at the desk and dialled a number, which after a few rings was answered.
“Mrs Greene? It’s Gill, the community midwife here. I understand you called the surgery this morning – is there something wrong?”
“I… I’m not sure. Jenny has been up all night crying, and I’m worried that I can’t seem to get her to break wind.”
In the background, Gill could hear the unmistakable sound of a baby crying. Jenny had been born four weeks before, and she knew from her colleagues it had been an uncomfortable time for her mother in labour. That made her a little more sensitive, so Gill thought a chat may be all that’s needed.
“All right, Mrs Greene, I’ll cal round at about 11 this morning.”
“Thank you, Gill. Please will you let yourself in – I may be a bit busy with things in the kitchen.”
“All right, Mrs Greene – until 11 this morning then.”
“Thank you, Gill, I’ll see you then.”
In her house, Mrs Greene put down the telephone, and started crying again. In a seat opposite her, a red haired middle-aged man was sitting playing with her baby on his knee, and a large kitchen knife was laid on the small table next to her.
“Thank you very much, Mrs Greene, you did that very well. Why don’t you take your baby and give her a feed,” he said as he passed jenny over and picked up the knife, “and then once she’s settled I’ll tell you what’s going to happen this morning.”
The terrified woman took the baby in her arms, and lifting her top up she started to breast feed the hungry baby, the man watching all the time.
The morning passed quickly enough for Gill, as she saw a number of patients and babies, but as 11 o’clock approached she was ready for a drink of coffee and a chat with someone.
At this time, Mrs Greene was sat waiting for the midwife to arrive, her unexpected guest standing behind a door in the room. He had told her why he wanted the visitor to come at that time, and she was beside herself with worry as to what would happen to her.
Gill pulled up outside the terraced house that the Greene’s lived in, and knocked on the door before opening it. Going in, she called out “Mrs Greene? It’s Gill here, are you in the living room?”
No reply came to her inquiry, and closing the door behind her Gill wondered if her patient had actually managed to fall asleep. “Mrs Greene, are you in the living room?” she said as she walked through the open door.
Once in the living room, Gill dropped her bag and put her hands to her mouth. Jenny Greene was fast asleep in a baby seat on the floor, but in a dining room chair her mother sat, dressed in a white smock top, black jumper and leggings and black boots.
Her hands were pulled round behind the back of the chair, and as Gill could see ropes around her arms and chest she knew that her hands must be tied back there as well. Her ankles were tied to the legs of the chair, as were her legs below her knees, and more rope was wrapped around her lap securing that to the seat of her chair. A knotted scarf was tied in her mouth, so that her cries were muffled to Gill, and another scarf had been folded into a wide band and used to blindfold her.
Mrs Greene was pulling forward in the chair, and trying to call out, but as Gill went forward to try to help a hand was clamped over her mouth and a knife pressed against her throat.
“Don’t say a word,” a deep voice whispered into her ear. ”When I take my hand away, tell that woman to calm down or she’ll injure herself. Tell her the baby is still asleep, and she needs to behave herself for Jenny’s sake. Nod if you understand.”
Gill nodded, and the man took her hand away as the knife was kept at her throat.
“Mrs Greene, I don’t know what’s going on here but Jenny is asleep and looks fine. For her sake and for yours, stay calm and stop struggling.”
The bound woman calmed down, and sat with her head slumped.
“You’re coming with me, nursie. I’ll be back to see you later, young lady, but thank you for the food for now.”
Gill was dragged backwards and up the stairs of the house by the man, and began to fear that she was about to be attacked or worse. As she was pushed into the large bedroom, however, she caught a glimpse of the man who was holding her and almost screamed. He was middle aged, slightly portly with grizzled dark hair, and he smiled at her.
“Hello, Gill, long time no see.”
“Lily? George, you’re on the run from the bloody police, what do you want with her?”
“Keep it down, Gill, or you’ll wake the baby. I took quite some time to get her to sleep after I tied up her mother – after all, I wanted it to be a surprise when you got here today.”
“When I – YOU broke into the surgery last night!”
“That’s right – I knew you worked there, and I wanted to see you, so I arranged to drop in one of your patients today and ask her to arrange for you to call. I thought I did a good job on the “kids mucking about” look myself.”
“But why, George? And why Lily of all people?”
“She was with me on the job I was arrested for, Gill – I need to know if she had anything to do with that.”
“When did you persuade her to do your dirty work?”
“Sorry, Gill – she asked me if she could take part. So, where is she?”
“In Spain for the next week – she lives in London now with some girlfriends of hers.”
“Spain? Have you got her London address?”
Gill reached into her pocket, and took out a pen and pad. Writing an address on it, she tore the page of and handed it to George.
“Thank you, Gill.”
“So now what? You’ve broken in and imprisoned this poor woman – do you expect me to let you go free and nothing else to happen.”
“No, I don’t. I’m sorry I had to it this way, but I needed to see you without attracting the wrong sort of attention. It also means I need to make sure you’ve been a part of this home invasion.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Remember when we used to play at Cops and Robbers when we kids, Gill?”
Gill nodded. “I usually ended up being the damsel in distress for that.”
“Well, we need to play that game one more time. That way, you walked in on a robbery and were the innocent victim.”
Gill swallowed hard. “So, where do you want me?”
“Lie face down on the bed – I’ll be gentle,” George said, and as Gill lay down he searched through the drawers and removed a selection of scarves from the drawer.
“George,” Gill asked as he began to tie her wrists together with a long chiffon scarf, “Did you really do that bank job?”
“Yes, and Tara really helped me with the café next door. She’s quite a good worker your daughter – you should be proud of her.” Tying the scarf tight, he took another and pulled Gill’s elbows together behind her back as well.
“So how are you surviving?”
“Mainly by breaking into houses and getting food when no-one’s there, if I’m lucky. Roll over please”
Gill rolled over onto her back, and George crossed her ankles and started to tie then together with a set of tights.
“And when there is someone home?”
“It’s happened three, no four times – two pairs of women, one sunbathing and one in a hotel room. I used different MO’s each time,” he said as he finished knotting the tights and wrapped a scarf around her legs above, and one below, her knees. “So far, they haven’t put two and two together, but my time may be running out. Once I’ve talked to Lily, I’ll be on my way,”
Gill stretched her legs out as George stood up, and tried to move her wrists and ankles. “You still know how to tie a good knot,” she said as George found three more scarves.”
“Thank you, Gill. I’m sorry I had to this to you, but it was necessary. Open up, and I’ll be on my way.”
“Wait a minute – they know I’m your sister, and they’re bound to put two and two together. What am I meant to say?”
“Gill, I thought of that. There’s a reason why you were the only one of the three midwives to make it in today, so as long as you tell them you didn’t see your attacker you’re fine. I wore a red wig then and when I was with the woman downstairs, so she doesn’t know it was me. Just keep with the story that you were attacked by someone with a fixation for new mothers and midwives, and you’ll be fine. Now, please open your mouth and don’t worry about me.”
Gill opened her mouth and allowed George to push a balled up scarf in, after which he tied a rolled up scarf into her mouth. After securing the knot, he kissed his sister on the cheeks and rolled her onto her side.
Heading back downstairs, he looked in at Mrs Greene, and saw the baby was still sleeping.
“Once again, thank you for everything, but I’m going now. The midwife is upstairs, safe but bound and gagged like you, so she can’t help. I’m sure someone will be along soon.”
Mrs Greene listened as she heard the front door open and close, and then silence fell over the room.
Gill lay still for a free minutes, and then rolling onto her back she forced herself into a sitting position. Swinging her feet off the edge of the bed, she wriggled forward and allowed herself to slide off the mattress and land on her bottom on the floor. Scooting across the bedroom floor, Gill made her way out of the room and towards the staircase.
Mrs Greene could hear the sound coming from upstairs, and she began to shake her head around and try to get loose again. Somehow, she managed to loosen the blindfold that had been tied around her eyes, and as the scarf fell she saw her baby daughter still asleep in the chair. She also saw the door to the room open slightly, and a bound and gagged figure hopping into the room.
Gill hopped over to an armchair where she allowed herself to drop into the seat.
“Ms Grn – r u al rght?”
“Ys – wht hppnd?”
Further conversation was cut short, however, as the front door was burst in and two policemen ran into the room. As one went to free the frightened mother, the other came over and removed the gag from Gill’s mouth.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, I think so – whoever it was didn’t harm me, but how did you get here so quickly?”
“When your colleagues didn’t report for work, the surgery called us. We found them both bound and gagged in their houses – and both said they were attacked by someone with red hair who said he hated midwives. We re-traced your route, and when we didn’t get an answer we broke in.”
“That explains it – he told me he had lost his wife in childbirth, and wanted to get his own back on all in the profession. He must be an absolute lunatic.”
“Well, let’s get you both to hospital – we can talk to you later.”
From down the street, George watched as the two women and the baby were taken into an ambulance. Pulling the collar of his coat up, he walked towards the railway station, and his next visit.