Joan Woodcock still could not quite believe this was happening to her, especially not today. The fifty year old had been looking forward to this night for weeks now – a chance, now that the divorce was settled, to get back out and see if she still had what it took to get a boyfriend.
She had visited her hairdresser, and had her highlights done as well as a new haircut, and bought a new dress especially, a blue lace affair that showed just enough of her to entice any man worth considering. New stockings – not the all in one affairs, but proper ones complete with a garter belt, and new black heeled sandals to make her look taller.
And what had happened? She was about to leave when she was stopped by – him. Oh, he had been polite, apologising for the intrusion as he made her walk back into the house, but he had been most insistent – and the small handgun he had pointed at Joan had only served to reinforce that point.
She had been made to sit in an old armchair, tan leather upholstery on a metal frame, and then he had produced several lengths of rope form inside his tailored jacket. One of those had been sued to secure her wrists behind her back, her red painted fingernails out of reach of the knot as the rope went between her arms. A second length had secured her ankles together, and yet another her legs above her knees, before he had politely insisted she tell him where her valuables were.
She had tried to put him off, but somehow he had seen through her protests, and eventually she had pointed him in the right direction. He had not harmed her – apart from tying her up – and not threatened her, not as such, but she had felt he meant business, as they say on the police reconstruction programs.
He had then produced a roll of white tape, and torn one, then two, then three strips off – all of them pressed down over her mouth, reducing her protests to a small whimper as he lifted her legs and made her sit across the chair, her legs over one arm and her hands hanging over the other, while she watched him stealing her jewels and cash.
It was what happened after that was strange – he looked at her, and said quietly “I feel I may have inadvertently ruined your evening.”
“Udntnsss,” she mumbled as she glared at him.
“My apologies – but it was necessary,” he said quietly, “perhaps I can make it up to you. Is there someone you would like me to call?”
Shaking her head, she watched as the man said “Well, I did ask,” and then left her. She tried to free herself from her bonds, with little success, until she heard a voice – a familiar one – saying “Joan? Are you all right? I had a call at home and...”
She looked to the door as Marcus, one of her work colleagues came in. “Oh god,” he said as he ran over and peeled the tape away from her mouth, “are you all right?”
“I am now,” she said quietly. She had a small crush on him, and as he looked at her, she wondered if he felt the same way...
“And did he?”
“He did actually – a bit Mills and Boon for my tastes, but the event did bring them together,” Barry Hammond said as he sat with Brian Holderness-Carter.
“So we have a Jay Edwards type character?”
“Something like that – the next we heard was when he robbed a spinster of the parish, Maggie Holden...”
Maggie was working in her home office, typing the latest chapter of her next book. As she stretched up, the sleeves of her light pink jumper fell down her arms, so much that she had to push them back down again as she stood up, and brushed some crumbs off her long lilac coloured skirt.
Walking to the kitchen, she put on the kettle and waited as it boiled, before she made herself a coffee. Her long black suede boots covered her legs to the knees as she walked back – and walked into the well dressed man who was looking at her work.
“Forgive the intrusion,” he said quietly, “but please, put your coffee mug down.”
Maggie did that, before standing with her hands on her hips and saying “And who are you?”
“Me? I’m the man who’s robbing you," he said quietly as he produced a pistol and pointed it at her. “I trust you have no objections?”
“Would it matter if I did?”
“Not really no – please, sit in the chair.”
Maggie sat in her typing chair and looked over her shoulder as the man tied her wrists behind the chair back, and then to the central support. He was about six foot two, dark hair, very smartly dressed, but as he wrapped more rope around her stomach and pulled her against the chair back she knew he meant business.
He then tied some more rope around her upper arms and chest, taking it under her arms to tighten it, before he said “Please, push your chair back and cross your ankles.”
As she did this, he knelt down and bound her ankles tightly together, and then her legs below her knees, folding her skirt back to allow him access and then returning it over the band of rope.
“Now,” he said as he picked up a scarf, and rolled it into a band, tying a knot in the middle, “kindly...”
The ring on the doorbell made Maggie give a gasp, as the man looked at her.
“It’s a delivery of shopping,” she said quietly, “please...”
“Open your mouth,” he said, and as he pulled the knot between her teeth she wondered what he was going to do.
“So what did he do?”
“Answered the door, took in the groceries, put them away – including the frozen and fresh food – and then proceeded to rob her,” Barry said. Brian looked at him, and then burst out laughing.
“All right, so he’s well mannered. But does he just do the housework?”
Millie Forbes was not having a good day, as she watched the vet driving away. Her horse has gone lame while riding that morning, and the young man had removed a jagged nail from the hoof.
As she closed the door, she looked at her riding boots sitting by the coat rack, and then pulled her white riding blouse out of her britches, unbuttoning the bottom few buttons and then tying the front of her blouse under her chest.
Sitting down, she ran her hair through her greying blonde hair, and then smiled. “Admit it girl,” she said to herself, “wrong side of fifty, two kids, loving husband, and you still worry about your horse? Not too shabby.”
“Oh I agree entirely.”
Millie looked up and saw the man standing there, smiling as he pointed a pistol at her. She was unable to speak for a moment, before she said “oh god, how did you get in?”
“You left your door open while you talked to the visitor,” he said with a smile, “I have to ask you to keep nice and quiet, even if the chances of anyone hearing you are next to zilch.”
Millie started to shake as she sat there, terrified of what the man may be doing. He could see her fear, as he said “Don’t worry – I need to make sure you can’t raise the alarm, but that is all I am going to do. Now, very slowly, put your hands on your head.”
As Millie complied, the man produced a length of white cord from his jacket pocket, and knelt down, binding her ankles tightly together as she started to shake.
“Hey, hey,” he said as he looked at her, “does it hurt?”
“No,” Millie whispered, “it’s just...”
He stood up and looked at her as she said “I’ve been robbed before – forgive me, but the man then said he would not hurt me, and then...”
She started sobbing as he sat with her, and said “I promise you, I will not do anything like that. I want you to turn your back to me, put your hands behind your back, and trust me.”
“But I’m scared...”
“I know, but trust me.”
Millie nodded, knowing she really didn’t have a choice, as she allowed him to bind her wrists behind her back, the rope pulled tightly round her arms.
“Now, open wide,” he said, and as she did so she felt him pulling a rolled black scarf between her teeth. The previous time, the masked man had stuffed her mouth, wrapped tape round her head, and...
As she started crying, the man stood up and placed the telephone on the floor, a few feet from her. “I already helped myself to your valuables,” he said, “so I leave you like this. I am sure you will find help soon enough.”
Millie watched as he walked out of the door, and then pushed herself forward, kneeling on the floor as she started to shuffle forward on her knees...
“He seems to have a thing for older women – probably thinks they make easier targets.” Brian sat back and said “this is Great Britain however, home of the gentleman thief. Is it so unusual?”
“More unusual than you may think,” Barry said. “The real exponent in the past is long retired, and works as a security consultant sometimes. You know just how vicious some of our own home grown variety can be – but this guy is different. He seems to genuinely desire to make it a less stressful experience for the women he robs.
“Here – this one may interest you...”
Closing her front door, Barbara Fenton let out a deep sigh, and set her bag down, taking off her long black coat and placing it in the wardrobe. She looked at herself in the mirror – brown hair with grey streaks, and a dark blue dress that had seen better days.
“And they say it’s an easy job being a headmistress,” she said to herself as she slipped off her boots and made her way into the kitchen, opening the refrigerator and pouring herself a glass of wine. She then made her way up the stairs and started to run a bath – all she wanted now was to soak for a while, before she had something to eat and relaxed in front of the television.
Ten minutes later, she sighed as she sank into the warm scented water, feeling the tensions of the day ease off as she relaxed. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself a few moments, not hearing the slight creak on the staircase...
As she finished drying herself off, and slipped on a bathrobe, Barbara looked at herself again in the mirror.
“Better,” she said as she walked out of the bathroom, the water draining away as she entered her bedroom – and saw a smartly dressed man looking through her chest of drawers.
He turned and looked at her, smiling as he said “ah – I had hoped to leave before you go tout.”
“Who are you, and what are you doing in my bedroom.”
“Well,” the man said with a smile, “I’m a burglar, and I’m a burglar.” He then produced a pistol from inside his jacket and pointed it at Barbara, saying “now, please, put something on so that I can tie you up and take your valuables.”
Barbara looked at him, her head to one side before she said “all right – but if I do this, you must do me a favour.”
“I will steal your valuables, whether you like it or not.”
“I don’t deny you will,” she said quietly, “but perhaps you will allow me to indulge in a little – fantasy.”
He looked at her, then smiled and nodded as he said “All right – what do you have in mind?”
“Turn your back – and don’t worry. My mobile is in my handbag downstairs, and there is no phone in the room.”
Nodding, the intruder walked to the door and looked out, waiting for a few moments before Barbara said “I’m ready.” He turned to see her wearing a white blouse, the top three buttons undone, a red and black tartan short skirt, and white woollen tights.
“IT appears the schoolgirl had disturbed the burglar,” he said quietly, “sorry, but I need to tie you up and make sure you keep out of my way.”
“Oh please,” Barbara said as she knelt on her bed, her hands clasped together in prayer in front of her, “don’t do that to me. I promise I’ll do whatever you say.”
“Then stay still,” the man said as he put the gun where they could both see it, and extracted a length of white rope from his jacket pocket. “Be a good girl, and hold that pose...”
Barbara watched as he tied her wrists tightly together, the rope going between her arms to tighten the binding, and then helped her to sit down on the bed. She wriggled her toes as he bound her ankles together in the same way, and then her legs above her knees, the tights protecting her skin from the rope as it rubbed on them.
“Now then,” he said as he looked round, and then from another pocket produced a long length of white cloth, “open wide and keep quiet.”
Barbara had to stop herself from grinning as the cloth pressed down on her tongue, and he tied it tightly round her head. She lay on the bed, her legs behind as she supported herself with her hands, and nodded as he asked where she kept her jewels and valuables.
In her mind, she was living a fantasy, a long held one, and hey – her insurance would cover it, if she said she was forced to dress like a schoolgirl...
“Oh come one – that’s not in the official report.”
“Of course it’s not – but she’s the headmistress of my son’s school. She told me the story at a PTA meeting – in confidence, and I expect you to keep that.”
“Me, keep secrets,” Brian said with a laugh.
“Good,” Barry said.
“So when did this paragon of intruders last strike?”
“A month or so ago – a shop manageress – and this shows what I was talking about.”
Sheena knew she should have done the banking before coming home, but that last pair of customers had insisted on trying on every dress they had selected – at least twice – and now she had been forced to bring the bags home. As she’d left, she had told her assistant that she would be in late the next morning, and to open up for her. At least she could trust her to do that safely.
She was wearing a royal blue jacket, buttoned up the front, over a matching short sleeved dress with a round neckline, black tights with a vertical stripe, and black pumps with a three inch heel. As she reached down to slip her left shoe off, however, she heard a noise in the front room.
“Whiskers, is that you,” she said as she walked into the room – and then stopped dead as she saw the well dressed man looking at her from the open display cabinet.
“Ah – good evening,” he said with a smile as he looked at her, and then produced a pistol, “I must ask you not to raise the alarm in any way. Just very slowly, close the door behind you and come in.”
“Who.. Who are you,” she stammered as the door shut behind her.
“Not really important – please, have a seat.” He walked over to her table, pulled a wooden seat out and indicated with his hand. As Sheena sat down, she let out a little moan, the man watching as he said “I trust you are comfortable?”
“I get the feeling I won’t be in a few minutes,” she said quietly, “but I will cope. Just old age I feel.”
“Nonsense – you are not that old,” he said as he guided her hands behind her back, and started to bind them together with rope.
“That’s not what my doctor says,” Sheena replied, grunting as she felt the rope pulling her arms together.
“Then he or she is a fool,” the man said as he knelt behind her, and tied the end of a long length of rope to the joint of the leg and the seat, before he started to use it to secure her arms and chest to the chair back.
“I guess you’re going to take everything – my jewels, my takings, my money...”
“Your takings,” the man said as he pulled the rope tight, making her gasp as it pressed on her stomach, “What makes you say that?”
“My bad luck – I had to bring the takings from my fashion store home tonight.”
He moved round and knelt in front of her, smiling as he tightly bound her ankles.
“Let us see, shall we,” he said with a smile as he stood up. “For now, however, I regret you must be quiet. Please, open your mouth.”
“I must,” he said, so as Sheena opened her mouth he pushed a folded cloth in, before tying a white cloth over her mouth, covering her lips and chin as he pulled it taut and secured the ends under her hair.
She watched as he then continued to search the room, before leaving her for a while. It was obvious from what she could hear that he was searching the bedrooms, and Sheena stamped her feet on the floor in frustration at her helplessness.
Eventually, he reappeared in the room, and said “Out of curiosity, I see the name Allyson in your contact book. Is she your assistant?”
Sheena nodded slowly as he smiled. “Good – enjoy your evening,” he said quietly as he turned the television on, and left her to try an escape.
An attempt that lasted for ninety minutes, with the only effect of the ropes around her upper body slipping down her chest. As she screamed in frustration, she was surprised to see the door opening and Allyson come in.
“Oh my god – he was right,” she said as she came over and removed the gag.
“The man – he rang my doorbell, handed me the takings bag, and said you might need some help...”
Brian laughed out loud. “A touch, a distinct touch, as Holmes once said. And yet you still don’t know who it is?”
“Nope – but we have bigger fish to fry than a modern day Raffles,” Barry said as he stood up. “Come on – we need to go to that meeting now...”