The table was scattered with the remnants of the meal as the evening sun set through the drawn blinds. Empty plates were in the places where they had been sitting earlier, and the table still had the spaces left for the puddings that they had not yet managed to have. Cathy wasn’t sure when they would get round to having the cream pies that were sitting on the kitchen work surface, but she wasn’t too concerned about that just now. All she was listening to was the low mewling and sobbing coming from her daughter and granddaughters as they lay on the floor, and she was wondering when her son in law would get back from wherever he had been taken.
As she tried again to get her fingers to reach the knot that held the rope around her wrists, she was trying hard to think what there was to give thanks for on this particular day – and then realised the fact all four of them were still alive was reason enough. She turned over and looked at Samantha, her daughter, as she lay there.
“Smnth? Cn u hr m?”
“Dnt wrry – it be l rght.”
“Grn m scrd”
“Dnt b, cse – evrythng el b fn.”
The day had started so well. She had an invitation to join her daughter and their family this year for thanksgiving, and she was grateful for the chance. She hadn’t got out of the house much since her husband died, and this was the season for families. She arrived at their house at about noon, dressed in a light grey jacket and skirt, dark stockings and black leather shoes. The gloves on her hands were of the same colour, and she wore a grey hat for the occasion over her greying brown hair.
“Mum!! I’m so glad you came!” Samantha cried as she opened the door to her. She was still dressed in joggers and a t-shirt, and a large white apron covered her front. “I’m just going up to get changed – who don’t you go into the living room and get a drink from Steve?”
As Cathy walked into the house, and Samantha closed the door behind her, they both failed to notice the grey car parked across the road. The man in the car picked up a cell phone, talked into it for a few minutes, then drove off past the children playing in the street.
“Hello Cathy,” Steve said as he passed her a glass of wine, “Glad you could make it. Sam and the girls are upstairs getting ready, and dinner won’t be long. How are you feeling today?”
“Not too bad, thank you Steve. Do you think Samantha will need a hand?”
“You know your daughter, Cathy – everything is going like clockwork.”
Cathy took a seat by the window, and sat talking to Steve as the cars went up and down the street out side. The grey car that had driven off earlier slowly went past the house, turned and stopped a way down, the four men inside watching the world going by.
“Yeah, business has been a bit busy recently – ah there you are Cassie.”
Steve looked at his older daughter as she came into the room. Cassandra, or as everyone called her Cassie, was in her sophomore year at college, and had come home especially for the holiday. A tomboy, she normally wore jeans and old t-shirts, but for the holiday she had made a special effort. She was wearing a black silk top with a blue and white floral pattern on the front and a think silk belt, black trousers and short heeled black Mary Janes. She was the spitting image of her mother, with shoulder length brown hair.
“Hello, Gran,” she said as she walked over to kiss Cathy. “What do you think?”
“Very nice, although I still think you would look nicer in a dress. Where’s Janey?”
“She’ll be down in a few minutes – trying to figure out what top to wear. Dad, Mum says can you get the starters on the table.”
“No problem,” Steve said as he put his glass down. Janey sat down next to Cathy, and started telling her about her college classes.
In the street, the four men were still sat in the car, watching and waiting.
Janey came running into the room as Cathy was talking with Cassie. Two years younger than her sister, she was wearing a short sleeved Romany blouse with a brown leather belt around her waist, a floral patterned skirt and brown suede boots. She hugged her grandmother, and poured herself a glass of wine, tossing her long blonde hair as she moved her head.
“Are you allowed to have that now?” Cathy asked as she took a small sip.
“One glass Gran – and it is Thanksgiving after all.”
“One glass is all you are going to get, young lady.”
Samantha had also walked into the room. She was now dressed in a light blue trouser suit, with a black silk top underneath her jacket, and black leather ankle boots. She had a sting of pearls around her neck, and looked much more like the head accountant she was in her day job. Her brown hair was pulled back in a bun on her head.
“All right – shall we go and sit down?”
The man slipped back into the rear seat of the car.
“They’re just sitting down to eat their dinner.”
The man behind the driver’s wheel glanced at his watch. “All right – we’ll give them an hour and then we’ll move in.”
“Oh my god – that is a beautiful bird.”
Steve carried in the turkey and laid it carefully on the table. Around it were the various accompaniments – mashed potato, sweet potato, and other vegetables – as the four women looked at the steaming cooked bird.
“Shall I carve?” Steve sad as he picked up the knives.
“All right – go round the back.”
The grey car set off down the now deserted street, and stopped next to an open area which was hidden from the main road. Stopping at the back, the four men stepped out, collected some times from the boot of the car, and made their way across to the rear of Steve and Samantha’s house.
“That was wonderful,” Cathy said as she pushed her plate away. Samantha stood up, collected the five plates, and made her way into the kitchen.
“I’ll get some coffee brewing before I bring the pies in” she called back over her shoulder as she walked down the corridor. Entering the kitchen, she placed the dirty crockery on the work surface, and turned round to grind some coffee beans. She stood there, open mouthed, at what she could see before her.
“What’s keeping her,” Steve said as ten minutes went by with no sign of Samantha returning. Cathy placed her napkin on the table and stood up.
“I’ll go and see if she needs some help,” she said as she walked out of the dining room and into the kitchen. “Samantha is there….”
She found Samantha standing in the kitchen, with a man standing either side of her and a cloth stuffed in her mouth. The next thing she noticed was a gloved hand over her own mouth, and a male voice whispering in her ear “Don’t say a word.”
“Now where have those two gone?” Steve said as he stood up. As he looked towards the doorway, however, his attention was caught by the party walking back in, which comprised Samantha, Cathy and four unknown men.
The men were dressed in white shirts, dark trousers and shoes, with stockings over their heads and surgical gloves on their hands. They pushed the two women in front of them, and two went behind Cassie and Janey, pointing rather large guns at their backs.
“No-body move,” the leader said as he walked round the table, “and this Thanksgiving will have a happy ending.” Steve looked at his wife and mother in law, and asked “Are you two all right?”
“Ys,” Samantha tried to reply, but the thick white scarf that was tied tightly into her mouth was making speaking difficult. When she had seen the men coming in through the kitchen door, she had tried to scream for help, but a washcloth had been quickly stuffed into her mouth. By the time her mother had walked in, her wrists had been pulled behind her back, placed so that one arm was lying on top of the other, and tied together with rope linking her wrists to her elbows and around her forearms. When Cathy had come in, the gang leader had grabbed her, and Samantha had watched as she had her arms and wrists bound in a similar way while more rope was wrapped around her own upper body, above and below her breasts.
Cathy had realised what was happening as soon as she walked in, and simply said “Please don’t hurt my daughter” as she had been tied up. She watched as rope was fed around Samantha’s shoulders and neck, pulling the chest ropes tighter and making the buttons on her jacket strain slightly, even as the same thing was been done to her. The gang had then taken the cloth out of her mouth, but before she could say anything a knotted white silk scarf had been pulled in, filling the woman’s mouth as it was tied at the base of Samantha’s neck. Cathy allowed the man with her to do the same thing, and the two had then been marched into the dining room.
Cassie and Janey had both stood up when the gang had come in, and Janey now sat down with a thud. Cassie was pushed back into the chair, and looked at her younger sister as she suddenly turned pale, leaned to the side of the chair and threw up.
“What is this all about?” Steve asked as he looked down at the carving knife on the table.
“This is a robbery – or more specifically, this is a robbery of your branch office. Please, forget about trying to use the knife – your wife would be the first to be shot if you tried anything.”
Samantha screamed through her gag at Steve, who looked around and then sat down again.
“Sorry, folks,” Janey said as she sat upright again.
“You two,” the leader said pointing his gun at Steve’s daughters, “Stand up and put your hands behind your back.”
As they both stood, the men behind them put their guns into holsters and produced several lengths of rope each. They took their hands, arranged them behind their backs so that their elbows were resting in their hands, and started to bind their wrists to the opposite elbow.
“We’re going to take you down to the bank, but first we want you to see that we mean business,” the leader said to Steve as he watched his daughters being bound. “Two of us will stay here with your family, and if you behave yourself you might get to see them again.”
Cassie winced as the man pulled the rope around her forearms tightly together and cinched the binding. “Do you have to be so rough,” she said as he took her by the arm and led her away from the table. Janey was crying as she was led away from the table as well.
“I think we’ll all be more comfortable in the living area,” the leader said, “Why don’t you come with us?”
Taking Steve by the arm, the family were led into the front room, and Samantha and Cathy were sat down on the large couch.
As Steve was directed to draw the blinds, Janey watched the men start to wrap a long length of rope around Cassie’s chest. Starting by looping it below her breasts, he pulled tightly on it behind her back, and then passed it around above her breasts. Another pull, and more passes around forced Cassie’s bare arms to be pulled into her side, as well as forcing her breasts to strain against the fabric of her top.
“Nice rack,” the gang member said as he passed the rope around her neck and through the ropes below her breasts, before pulling it up and passing it back round her neck.
“Hey,” the leader said, “I’ll do the talking. Sit her down and get the other one trussed up.”
Cassie was pushed onto the couch next to her mother and grandmother, as the man took another long length of rope and started to bind Jamey’s arms to her side. “Are you two really all right,” she whispered to Cathy, who nodded and kept watching as small tears started to run down her cheeks.
After a few minutes, Janey had also had her arms bound tightly to her side, but rather than sitting her next to her family Steve was forced to watch as she was sat down on the floor, and her ankles crossed and bound together. Her skirt was lifted up and folded back, and her legs tied together above and below her knees before the hem of the skirt was folded back again.
“Take care of the older daughter,” the leader said, and Cassie watched as another gang member knelt in front of her, crossed her ankles and stared to tie them together. “We will keep your family nice and safe here,” he said to Steve as her legs were also tied together, above and below her knees.
“What are you going to do to them?” He asked as Samantha watched her own ankles been tied together.
“You’ll see – start with the younger one” the leader said to one of the gang members. The man put his gun on a coffee table, walked over and gently took Janey by the arm, leaning her over so that she lay on her side. He then rolled her over onto her stomach, took her bound ankles and pulled them up so that they were near her bound arms. Taking a length of rope, he tied it around the ropes that held her arms to her sides, and passed it around her ankles so that Janey was in a hog tie. Gently rolling her back onto her side, he pulled her skirt back down and left her lying on the floor.
“Mum, Dad, make them stop please,” Janey called out as the gang member took Cassie by the arm and helped her to shuffle off the couch and onto her knees. He then helped her to roll over on to her side, then her stomach, and proceeded to place her in a hog tie as well.
“Your family will stay like this until we have finished our business,” the leader said. “Listen – my mother in law is getting old. If you must stop her getting around, at least don’t do that to her.”
“Wht bt m?” Samantha said as her ankles were being tied together. “I’m sorry,” the leader said, “but you need to be treated the same way as your daughters. Which reminds me – gag them, but don’t use a knotted scarf on the younger girl. We don’t want her been sick again.”
Two white scarves were produced, and rolled into thick bands. As one of the gang tied a knot in the centre of one of the bands, the other knelt next to Janey and pulled the scarf into her mouth, knotting it under her hair. The second scarf was placed into Cassie’s mouth as Samantha was lowered onto the floor, and then rolled onto her stomach and placed in a hog tie as well.
“I’m sorry girls,” Steve said as he watched his wife and daughters lying on the floor. “I’ll try and make it up to you, I promise.”
“Very nice words, but meaningless,” the leader said as he took a length of rope, knelt down and swung Cathy’s legs round so that they lay on the couch. “If you promise not to move, I won’t tie you the same way as the other three. Do you promise?”
Cathy nodded, and watched as her ankles were crossed and the rope passed around her stockings. He legs were then tied together below her knees, and again above. As she was moved down so that she lay on the couch, he rolled Cathy onto her side so that she faced the back of the couch, and then attached her ankles to her wrists with a long length of rope so that she was able to lie flat.
Cathy rolled over onto her other side so that she could see her girls lying on the floor. The gang gathered their materials together, and the leader took Steve by the arm.
“You two stay here and watch them,” the leader said, “while we go and visit his bank. We’ll come back and pick you up later.”
That has been three hours ago. For the first two hours, the four women had lain still, with the only movement been Cassie and Janey occasionally rolling from side to side. They had tried to talk to each other, but the muffled sounds had been mostly unintelligible, and the stern looks from the two masked men had soon silenced them each time. As the sun had started to set, they had all heard a car draw up, and the two men simply walked out. No sign of Steve, and no indication they would be released in any way.
So Cathy was lying there, trying to find a way to get free, with the three other women on the floor. Cassie and Janey had managed to move round so that they were facing each other, with Cassie trying to reassure Janey that they would be all right. The squeak of Cassie’s ankles as she tried to work them free was one of the few sounds they could hear, along with that of Samantha’s boots as she tried to free her ankles from her wrists. The buttons on Samantha’s jacket had worked loose, so that her black top was showing, and her hair was freely lying around her face and neck. The two girls were also showing some signs of bruising where the ropes had rubbed on their bare skin.
As the sun finally set, Cathy was worried about something else. If the fireworks started, then they would never be able to call for help if anyone was going to walk by. She decided it was time she took control.
“cn u mv ovr hr?”
Cassie looked at her younger sister, nodded and then rolled over onto her stomach. By moving like a snake, she slowly made her way over to her grandmother, who moved her self so that her face was at the front edge of the couch.
“gt n ur knes, nd tr t pt ur fngrs ndr t scrf.”
Pushing herself up so that she was kneeling by using the couch, Cassie moved around and gingerly forced the fingers of one hand under the scarf around her grandmother’s lower jaw.
“Gd – nw mv it rnd.”
As Cassie moved her fingers round, Cathy opened her jaw as wide as she could, and eventually was able to push the knot out of her mouth.
“At last,” she croaked as the sodden cloth lay around her neck. “Let me see your hands, and I’ll see if I can’t loosen some knots with my teeth.”
Both Janey and her mother turned and watched as Cathy slowly picked away at the knots holding Cassie’s arms to her legs, while Cassie knelt and watched them. Suddenly, she felt the rope give, and she managed to sit down and stretch her legs out to her side.
“Thnku grn,” she said, and Cathy nodded.
“Listen – I have my mobile phone in my handbag in the hallway. Do you think you might be able to go and get it, while I see if yoru mother is as supple as you are?”
Cassie nodded, and sitting on her bottom she began to shuffle her way towards the door. “Your turn, Sammie,” Cathy called out forgetting how much she hated that name. “Come over here and I’ll see if I can get you free as well.”
As Samantha was finally able to stretch her legs out, Cassie shuffled back in with a mobile phone in her hand. “Let me get that scarf out of your mouth,” Cathy said as she rolled over, and managed to pull the scarf out of Samantha’s mouth with her fingers.
“I’m coming, Janey” she said as she made her way over to where her younger daughter was still hog tied. Cassie managed to open the phone, dial 911 and place the speaker near to her grandmother.
“Police – quickly. We’ve been tied up and my son in law kidnapped,” she said as Janey finally stretched her legs out.
Some hours later, the four women were sitting in an ambulance as the police and forensic teams searched the house. In the sky, fireworks of many colours and hues were going off.
“We found your husband at the back,” a police officer was saying to Samantha. “He was bruised and sore, but otherwise unharmed. You’ll be able to see him at the hospital. It looks like they hit you because it was a holiday, and no-one would be about.”
Samantha smiled weakly, and hugged her two daughters. “How on earth did you manage to do that, Mum?” she said as she turned to Cathy.
“What undo the knot? I was a girl scout once, you know. Besides, when I was younger they had classes with how to get out of these sorts of situations. Let’s give thanks that we got through this unharmed.”