The Irish In Her
“Good Morning Boston – this is W-HCT radio, bringing you all the news on this St Patrick’s Day, and telling you where all the celebrations are going to take place. Right now, here’s U2 with a classic from the 80’s...”
Although she lived in Cambridge, which was certainly one of the quieter districts of the city, Coleen felt herself to be part of that great force known as the Boston Irish. True, she had never set foot outside her state, never mind her country, but it was in her blood and in the blood of the family, and that was sufficient for her. Never did that feeling come more strongly than on St Patrick’s Day, as she looked forward to meeting up with her friends at a party later that night after work.
As she looked out of her apartment window onto the street below, sipping her black coffee, she wondered what she would like to wear today. After all, green was the traditional colour, but it did not exactly match her auburn hair. Shrugging, she turned from the window and walked through to her bedroom, undoing the belt that held her short dressing gown in place as she did so.
As she stepped into the shower, she missed the start of the news report on the radio. “Boston Police said in a news conference last night they are still searching for the man who has carried out a series of home invasions in the Greater Boston area over the last few days. Homeowners are been warned to be especially vigilant...”
As she wrapped her hair in a towel and sat at her dressing table, Coleen started to apply her make-up – a daily routine she had to go through, in order to look her best for the world outside. She had already slipped on a dark grey bodysuit, with long sleeves and legs that came down to just below her knees that hugged her body like a second glove, while on her bed was a short sleeved summer dress, blue with a white floral print. As Coleen applied her lipstick, she was looking forward to a nice, quiet, peaceful day off before she did the late afternoon shift – one she knew would be a busy one.
Standing up, she removed the towel from her hair and slipped the dress over her head, walking into her front room as she did so. Taking a pair of short black ankle boots from the collection by the door, she pulled them on and laced up the fronts, turning the leather tops down after she did so. Looking round the room, and the collection of Irish memorabilia that was hanging there, she dreamt again of one day visiting the land of her ancestors, before shrugging as she picked up a bag and headed out of the apartment.
A half hour passed, with nothing unusual happening, until the silence was broken by the sound of glass breaking. If anyone had been present, they would have seen the gloved hand reach in and unfasten the clasp before the kitchen window was slid open and a slim built man clambered through, quietly closing the window behind him. Dropping onto the floor, he moved silently to the door, listening for a moment before walking through to the main area of the apartment.
He looked round before starting to pull books from the large shelves, opening and shaking them as he let them drop to the floor, looking for something that could easily be taken as well as hoping to uncover a safe or a strongbox. As each book dropped to the floor, he was glad he had already visited the downstairs apartment, knowing it now to be empty and therefore nobody to query the noises.
As the last book fell, he turned his attention to the items on the wall, and started to look behind the framed prints of Ireland. So intent on his search was he that he failed to hear the apartment door opening and closing, or the fact he had been joined until he heard a woman saying “What the hell do you think you are doing?”
Turning, he saw Coleen standing there, all five foot eight of her with should length auburn hair and green eyes staring at him in pure anger. He barely had time to react before she threw herself at him, her hands balled in rage as she started to rain blows down upon him. He was slightly taken aback by this, so it took him a few moments to do more than try to fend off the blows, but when he saw Coleen’s hand heading for his face, her red fingernails threatening to claw at his skin, he took his chance and grabbed her wrist, forcing her arm down as he grabbed her and twisted her round with his free arm.
Coleen continued to struggle, forcing the intruder back against the wall and knocking a number of items onto the floor as he struggled to control the wildcat that had walked in. Eventually, he managed to push Coleen onto a long seat in the main room and forced her arm behind her back as he sat astride her.
“If you don’t stop screaming and shouting,” he said to her as she continued to scream into the cushion, “I’ll be forced to shut you up more permanently. Do I make myself clear?” This only seemed to make the young girl scream more, so he looked around, desperate to find something to shut her up with. On the floor by the seat was a green bandana, a black check pattern printed on it, so he grabbed that and pulled back on Coleen’s hair.
“You fricking bastard, that hurmmmjrdrrgha” Coleen mumbled a she pushed the scarf into her mouth, forcing it to fill every corner as she struggled underneath him. “If you know what’s good for you,” he said to the girl, “You’ll stop struggling and calm down before you do something you’ll regret. Keep that in there, and stay absolutely still.”
Coleen felt the cloth against the roof of her mouth and her lips, and started to calm herself down. She had heard stories, and seen enough programs like CSI to know what he was talking about, and she did not want that to happen to her. Instead, she allowed him to pull her arm behind her back without resisting.
“That’s better’” she heard him say as something rough was pressed against her wrists. She felt the material tightening around it as it was passed round, before her other arm was pulled round and placed against it. The rough material was then passed around and between both wrists until Coleen was unable to pull her arms apart. She grunted as the man shifted round so that he was sitting on her back and facing the other way.
He took a moment to catch his breath before taking another length of twine out of his pocket and shaking it out. This was the first time the tenant had actually come home while he had been there, and he had not expected to be met with such a furious response. As he grabbed Coleen’s leg, he looked around the room, at the items still on the wall and across the floor, and silently cursed himself. “Flaming Boston Irish,” he muttered a she passed a loop he had made in the twine over her booted foot and pulled it tight against her lower leg, wrapping it round before letting go and pulling her other leg up as well. Coleen desperately tried to kick herself free, but his grip was too strong as he wound the twine around and between her legs, securing them together between the legs of her pants and her boot tops.
From outside her window, Coleen could hear people starting to gather for the parade outside. She continued to try and scream out as the cloth wad that was filling her mouth absorbed the moisture and saliva, but to no avail. She felt herself been turned over and stared up into the unshaven face of the man who had broken in, the stale smell of alcohol on his breath.
“Stay there,” he snarled as he looked into her face, “and keep that in your mouth. You would not like it if I caught you without it.” He glared at Coleen for a moment, before walking in the direction of the kitchen. As she listened to the sound of drawers opening and closing, she tried to find any give at all in the cords around her ankles and legs with her fingers, but to little avail.
“Right,” she eventually heard him say, and as she looked to the kitchen door she saw him walk in, a roll of clear tape that she had been using for packing boxes twirling on his finger. Sitting down on the couch, he grabbed her legs and pressed the free end of the tape against her legs below her knees, Passing it round both legs and pulling tightly as he secured them together. Pushing the skirt of her dress up, he repeated the process above her knees, the tape sticking to the grey material of her body stocking as it was pulled even more tightly.
“Wht f fck d u thnk ur dng,” Coleen mumbled as the man pulled her skirt back down again and forced her to sit up. “Keeping you from getting in my way,” was his snarled reply as he started to wind the tape around her arms and chest, pinning them to her side as it was pressed against her dress. As it went over her forearms and waist, she began to realise that she was not going to go anywhere for some time – and that thought was terrifying to her.
The one thing she wanted more than anything, however, was to get this cloth out of her mouth. She already felt as if the Gobi desert had upped and planted itself inside her throat, so dry was her mouth, and the swollen cloth was making her jaws ache. So it was a greater shock to her when she saw the intruder holding the tape in front of her, before pressing the end down hard against her lips and wrapping the tape around her head, trapping her hair and skin as well as reinforcing her silence.
“Now stay there,” he said to her as he poked his finger right into her face, before dropping the roll on the floor and walking out of the room. Coleen was too terrified to move at first, as she heard him in the other rooms of the apartment, the only other sounds coming from outside. She looked round the main room, with the books and ornaments strewn across the floor, knowing that he was looking for her money and valuables. She would have gladly told him if he had asked, but she realised with a heavy heart her reaction on seeing him had backfired on her badly.
From outside, the sound of the crowd was growing louder, but it didn’t offer Coleen much comfort. She could see no way of letting them know her predicament at all – especially when she turned her head and watched the young man coming back in, carrying a pillow case with him.
He glared at her before turning and leaving the apartment, closing the door behind him. Coleen sat still for a moment, before allowing herself to slide off the seat and sit on the floor among the debris. She tried struggling one more time, but beyond the sound of crinkling as the tape around her body moved and the squeak of her leather boots as she rubbed her ankles together below the twine, nothing seemed to happen. Despairing, she leaned back against the couch and listened to the sound of the parade as it came closer, trying desperately to think of some way of telling people about her predicament.
The sound of marching bands came closer, and the cheers from outside grew louder, ruining any chance of the poor girl trying to shout through the window and raise the alarm. A great fatigue was also starting to come over her, as the adrenaline rush started to fade.
Coleen sat perfectly still, unsure of what else she could do to try and raise the alarm. Outside, she could hear the sound of the bands as the parade went down the street outside her window, but she had no way of shouting above the music. The green bandana that had been so carefully stuffed into her mouth prevented that, as did the clear tape covering her lips.
In desperation, she saw the shillelagh that lay on the floor where the intruder had knocked it off the wall, the closed window a target in her sights as she grasped at a small, but possible way forward. Shuffling forward on her bottom, she edged closer to the long wooden stick that lay in front of her, sweat starting to form on her brow from the exertion given the lack of movement her bindings offered.
IT was a slow, painful job as Coleen moved books out of her way on her journey, but eventually she reached the object and gingerly grasped the thick end of the stick between her feet. As she held it as firmly as she could, she moved herself round so that her back was to the window and started to shuffle backwards.
The shillelagh slipped from time to time out of her grasp, the polished wood scraping the soft leather, but each time Coleen took a short break before starting again to pull it back with her. As she inched towards the window the fatigue was starting to tell, and her legs ached from their enforced rigidity and the additional effort she was exerting, but Coleen kept going, her anger providing the additional strength she needed.
Eventually she stopped and listened to the sound of the last band retreating in the distance. “Now or never,” she thought as she moved her feet up to grip the thinner end of the cudgel. Holding it as tightly as she could, Coleen allowed her body to fall back so that she was lying flat on the floor, the window a foot or so away as she looked up. Summoning what little strength she had left, she started to swing her legs up and down, keeping as tight a grip as she could on the stick with each swing, until she finally threw her legs back and let go as her legs came up at a ninety degree angle to her.
She watched as the heavy stick swung through the air, rising in a graceful arc as it slowly spun round so that the heavy end was facing the window while it sailed towards the glass. Coleen closed her eyes and turned her head, listening and praying until she heard the sound of breaking glass as the cudgel sailed through the window and out onto the street below. There was a shout of “LOOK OUT!” as she forced herself into a seated position and moved as quickly as she could to the wall, pushing herself onto her feet as she leaned against it.
“Where the hell did that come from?” she heard a male voice call out as she turned and slowly hopped towards the window, the cool March air coming in through the broken glass. She turned and looked down at the street below, where the shillelagh was on the pavement with a group of people gathered around it. One of the men was looking up, and pointed towards Coleen. “Shit,” he said as he covered his eyes with his hand to see better, “there’s someone up there looking down, and it looks like... someone, get a police officer, fast!”
Nodding as fast as she could, Coleen turned and hopped back to the couch, the tape crinkling with each movement before she fell on her side and lay still, waiting for the boys in blue to come and free her.
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