Lily the Pink
Lily Harmond poured herself a cup of coffee and looked out of the window of the basement flat she shared with Lucy and Orlah. The light from the morning sun was streaming through from outside, and she took a deep drink from the mug.
Since moving to London, she had been a student at Art College, and was enjoying the freedom that the jewellery design course she was taking was giving her. Not only was she learning one trade, but she was establishing contacts that may be useful to her if she decided to continue with her evening activities as well. After all, a cat burglar needed to know who they could turn to for disposal of items, now didn’t they?
Placing her mug in the sink, Lily made her way back to her bedroom. Finding her sneakers, she pulled over her pink t-shirt a brown tracksuit jacket with dark pink stripes down the sides of the arms, which matched the sweatpants she was wearing. She knew her nickname amongst her fellow students was “Lily the Pink” because of her preferred colour of clothes, but how many of them knew that if she found out they were calling her that, she was paying them a quiet visit when they weren’t home?
Grabbing her satchel, she ran out of the flat and slammed the outer door behind her. Running down the street as she saw her bus approaching, she failed to notice the middle aged gentleman watching from the other side of the road. He watched her running down the main road, and then slipped quietly across and down to the basement entrance to the flat.
Orlah Flaherty was the first of the three girls to return home that afternoon. She worked at a local clothes shop, and Wednesday was still early closing day in this area, so she was looking forward to a nice relaxing afternoon alone at home.
Walking down the street, she was enjoying the feel of the cool breeze as it came onto her face and chest and through her long auburn hair. The chiffon tie-front crop blouse over her white long sleeved top moved in motion with her walking, and the long white gypsy skirt flowed in the wind. Climbing the stairs to the front door, her brown leather cowboy boots clattered against the worn stone.
Entering the flat, she noticed that the same cool wind was blowing through the flat. “Did someone leave a window open again?” she thought to herself as she made her way into the kitchen, depositing her handbag and door keys on the table by the front door first. Entering the kitchen, however, she immediately discovered that it was not an open window that was the problem.
A man was standing in the kitchen, making himself a cup of coffee. He was dressed in everyday clothes, of medium build with dark hair peppered with grey, but that was not the most immediate thing that came into Orlah’s mind.
That was to ask “Who the hell are you?” That was a move she regretted almost instantly, as the man turned round and she recognised the face of George Simpson, a bank robber who had been on the run for some weeks now. He picked up a bread knife that was on the draining board and walked towards Orlah.
“I strongly suggest that you sit down and do exactly what I tell you,” George said as he took Orlah by the arm. “I just need somewhere to crash for a few hours, and I don’t want you disturbing me. Do you live here alone?”
“Nnnnn –no,” Orlah stammered, “two others live here. Please don’t hurt me…”
“Just sit quietly and do as you’re told, and I won’t hurt you,” George said as he led Orlah into the front room of the flat, and sat next to her on a long couch there. “Like I said, all I need is somewhere to crash for a few hours. Now, are you going to give me any trouble?”
Orlah shook her head. “That’s my girl. Why don’t you take those boots off – it may a tad uncomfortable for you if they stay on your feet.”
She looked at the intruder wondering what he meant, but realised the full implications when he produced from behind the couch a ball of twine that she knew had been in the kitchen – she had used it to tie a parcel just the previous day.
“Please, take your boots off, and then put your hands behind your back. I promise I will be gentle with you.”
“Are you going to tie me up?” she asked in a quiet voice.
“Yes I am – I need to get some sleep, and I can’t have you raising the alarm. Now, be a good girl and do what I asked of you, or I’ll do it for you.”
Swallowing hard, Orlah reached down and pulled her boots off, then turned around and put her hands behind her back. George wrapped the free end of the twine around one of her wrists, then pulled both of them together and bound them tightly together, before wrapping the twine around her waist to hold the bound wrists in the small of her back. Cutting the twine, he used the long end to cinch the biding and secure it out of reach of her fingers.
“Now, why don’t you make yourself comfortable – I’m afraid you may be like this for quite a while?”
Orlah looked at the man, and then pushed herself back in the chair.
“As you wish,” George replied, and he began to wrap the twine around Orlah’s socked ankles so that she was firmly bound there as well. After tying the knot off on her ankle bindings, he tied the loose end again to them and ran it up and behind the couch before coming down and behind Orlah. Cutting the twine, he secured it back around her wrists so that she was held into the couch.
“Now, I need to go and get my coffee. Can I trust you not to scream or shout out while I’m there?”
Orlah nodded, and George headed for the kitchen leaving the ball of twine in her sight. She tried to pull her wrists up, but that only caused her feet to hit against the seat of the couch, and she realised it was going to be almost impossible to get out of this situation on her own.
George returned with his coffee and a carrier bag which he placed on the floor. “Thank you for not screaming” he said as he sat down. “When your flatmates return, I will make sure they are comfortable as well. I don’t suppose you want to tell me when they’ll be back?”
“Why, so you can be ready for them? I don’t think so” Orlah sneered back to George.
“No matter,” he said as he put his coffee mug down and picked up the bag, “I don’t think you will be able to warn them anyway. I had a good look around your flat before you came back, and I have some things here that will help me to spring a surprise on them.”
George walked around behind Orlah, and pulled from the bag two silk scarves and a small foam ball. Taking the ball, he rolled one of the scarves around it and stood behind the bound girl.
“Open wide or I’ll make sure you will open your mouth,” George said. Reluctantly, Orlah did as he asked and the ball was stuffed into her mouth. The ends of the scarf were then tied tightly at the base of her neck.
“Let’s see how effective that is” George said and he gave Orlah a pinch on the cheek. She tried to scream, but all that came out was a muffled yelp.
“Good – now I’m afraid I have to stop you seeing what’s happening,” George said a she folded the other scarf into a band and used it as a blindfold. Sitting back down, he picked up his mug and took a drink.
“Feel free to try and escape, but it won’t do you any good. Now I’m going to have a little nap – just let yourself relax when you realise what’s happening.”
“And he really said he wanted to do that to you?”
Lily and her flatmate Lucy Kavanagh returned to the flat at the same time. Lucy was also a student, although on a different course from Lily, and she happened to catch the same bus as her today. Lucy was wearing a grey roll neck sweater, grey faded jeans and mid calf boots made from grey suede. The two flatmates let themselves in and placed their bags by the door as well.
“Orlah’s back I see – I wonder why it’s so quiet then?”
“Yeah – normally she would have her radio going full blast. Maybe she just stepped out for a minute?”
“Maybe – I’ll go and put the kettle on, you go and see what’s on the telly?”
Lily headed for the kitchen while Lucy made her way into the living room. As she went in, the second thing she saw was Orlah bound, gagged and blindfolded on the couch. This was the second thing, because the first thing was the man standing beside the couch with a bread knife in his hand.
Indicating that she was to stay quiet, he took Lucy by the arm and led her into the kitchen, where Lily was standing at the sink filling the kettle.
“Li……Lily, could you turn around please?” Lucy stammered.
“Lucy? Wha…..” Lily started to speak, but when she saw the man holding Lucy’s arm she felt a pang of fear and of recognition. She did her best to hide the latter.
“Lily, Orlah’s in the front room. This man must have tied her up, and now she can’t see or talk, and I’m scared of what he’s going to do next……”
“So long as you both do as you’re told, then nothing bad will happen,” he said. “Are there any more flatmates due?”
Lily shook her head, and the man beckoned her to come and join them.
“Right – I need to make sure you two ladies are nice and safe before I get on with my business. Come on – you’re going to help me,” he said pointing at Lily.
“And if I don’t?” she shouted back.
“Then it will be the worse for you, my dear. Don’t make things difficult for yourself; just do as you’re told. Now come here.”
Lily joined the other day, and led the way as the intruder pushed Lucy towards the bathroom. “In here,” he said, and the three of them made their way in.
“You,” he said to Lucy, “Lie face down on the floor and put your hands behind your back. Your friend here is going to tie you up, and then I’ll tie her up.”
Lucy knelt down on the floor, and then lay flat with her hands behind her back. The intruder cut a long length of twine from the ball, and handed it to Lily.
“Tie her wrists together, and do it properly or you’ll be naked when I do it to you.”
“I’m sorry, Lucy,” Lily whispered as she wound the twine around her flatmate’s wrists and pulled it tight. “Do you want me to take your glasses off for you?”
Lucy nodded, and Lily gently took the steel rimmed spectacles and folded them before placing them on the sink. The intruder cut another length of twine, and then told Lily to tie Lucy’s ankles together. She did this as she had tied the wrists together, pulling tight so that the twine seemed to cut into the soft leather of her boots.
“Right, young lady, roll over onto your back,” the man said, and with some difficulty Lucy managed to do so. “Take this and tie her legs together,” he said to Lily, and as she tied Lucy’s legs together above her knees he knelt down and brushed her black hair out of her eyes.”
“Now, I want you to stay here while I take care of your flatmate. Then I’ll take of what I have to do, and be on my way. Just lie nice and quiet and you’ll be all right – do you understand?”
“Yes,” Lucy whispered, and the intruder looked at her before nodding. Taking a washcloth from the bath, he rinsed it out with cold water, wrung it nearly dry and then stuffed it into Lucy’s mouth as a gag, before securing it in place with some wide medical tape that was in the bathroom cabinet. Rolling her back onto her stomach, he took a scarf that he had brought with him and blindfolded the bound and gagged girl.
“Right,” he said as he stood up, “You come with me.” Taking Lily by the arm, he left Lucy struggling on the bathroom floor, and pulled the final girl into one of the bedrooms. Closing the door behind him, he took Lily over and allowed her to sit on the edge of the bed as he took a seat at the dressing table.
“Uncle George, what the hell are you playing at? My flatmates don’t know I’m related to you, what happens when…”
“Keep your voice down Lily. As far as the one in the front room knows, I’m George Simpson, but she need never know that you’re my niece. Unless, of course, you want to shout it out for the whole world to know.”
“Sorry – it’s just a shock to see you. I thought you’d left the country.”
“Yeah, well, I had to see you to ask you something.”
George sat on the bed beside Lily. “Was it you that shopped me to the police?”
“No way – I would never do that. If I had, do you think I’d still be here today?”
“No – but I had to ask anyway. So, you used the money to go to college?”
“Yup – and I’m following in the family business as well. Anyone who calls me Lily the Pink gets a visit from a very proficient burglar a few days later.”
“Lily the Pink? I know you like pink, but do they really call you that?”
“Fair dues. I’m glad you’re following in the family tradition, but watch your step my girl. I don’t want you to be in my position in the next few years.”
“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?”
An hour had passed, and Lucy had heard the front door open and close a few moments before. Struggling on the floor, she realised that the twine around her wrists was loosening, and she began to gently try to ease her hand free. It took a further half hour, but eventually she managed to free her wrists and take the blindfold off her eyes.
Tearing the tape from her mouth, she spat the washcloth out and grabbed a pair of medical scissors that were on the washing basket. Cutting the remaining bonds on her legs and feet free, she stood up and opened the bathroom door.
“Orlah? Lily? Where are you?”
Two sets of muffled cries came from the direction of the front room and the bedrooms, so on the basis of she had been captured first Lily ran to the front room. The blindfold over Orlah’s eyes had slipped down slightly, and she looked pleadingly at Lucy.
“Oh lord – here, let me get that out of your mouth,” Lucy said as she gently pulled the ball and scarf from Orlah’s mouth. She then used the scissors to cut the twine behind the couch, and the young Irish woman stretched her bound ankles out in front of her.
“What the hell happened today, Luc? I just came home early, and then that escaped prisoner…..”
“You recognised him?”
“Lucy, his picture has been all over the papers – that was George Simpson, the bank robber.”
“He was here? Oh god – where’s Lily?”
Muffled screams could be heard from one of the bedrooms, as if in response. Cutting the remaining twine away from Orlah’s wrists and ankles, the two flatmates cautiously made their way to Lily’s bedroom.
Opening the door, they saw the contents of her drawers and wardrobe scattered across the room. Lily was on the bed, her wrists and ankles crossed and bound with twine and her ankles pulled up behind her in a tight hogtie. There was further twine around her thighs and calves, and a scarf was tied tightly over her eyes. Lily was trying to call out, but her stuffed cheeks indicated the presence of a very effective gag under the knotted belt that was tied into her mouth.
The other two women looked at each other, than Lucy came forward and peeled the blindfold off as Orlah went to find a working telephone. Lily looked up at Lucy with tear filled eyes, and screamed through her gag to release her.
Some hours later, the three girls were sitting in their front room. The police had been and gone, satisfied that the intruder had indeed been the escaped prisoner, and taken their statements. Now they were trying to forget their own ordeal. Hot baths and oils had eased the soreness and the bruising around their wrists and legs, but they were still jumping at the slightest noise.
“Why this house?” Orlah asked.
Lucy shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows? We were just unlucky I guess.”
The sound of the letterbox made all three jump up, and Lily slowly made her way into the hallway. A bunch of takeaway menus and other junk mail was scattered on the floor, but as she bent down to pick it up she noticed a sealed envelope addressed to her. Pocketing it in her dressing gown, she put the other items in the bin and went back into the room.
“Nothing important,” she said, “but I need to try and get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Lily made her way to her room, which had now been cleared up, and as she lay under her duvet she opened the note.
I hope I wasn’t too hard on you, but your flatmates had to be convinced that you were an innocent victim as well. Besides, you have to learn how to take been tied up before you can do it properly to someone else – and now you have.
On the other side of this paper is a list of some of my trusted contacts. Tell them you’re my niece, and they’ll see you’re treated fairly. It’s the least I can do for you now.
I have some business to take care of, so keep your head down and watch what you’re doing. I’ll be watching your career from now on.
Say hello to your mother for me, and be nice to her – family is very important to us.
She folded the note and put it in a drawer, then turned off her light and thought of what her next step would be.