No More Lies
John pulled up the driveway to his detached suburban house. The early autumn sun was beginning to set as he climbed out of his Daimler and collected his briefcase from the boot of the car. The familiar crunch of the gravel under his feet as he walked to the doorway helped him to relax – it was the little things that always made his work and life especially pleasurable.
Opening the door, however, he had no idea that the way his life worked was about to take an impossible turn….
“Louise? I’m home, dear.”
His wife came out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel and looking at her husband with a slightly quizzical manner. She was wearing a white blouse and skirt, and John could see that something was troubling her.
“John, I’m glad you’re home. I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?”
Louise held the door to the front room open, and John made his way in as she closed the door behind her. Sitting down in an armchair, he watched his wife make herself comfortable opposite him.
“John, I heard from Rita today – she’s expecting.”
“That’s wonderful news – why didn’t you call and tell me?”
“I tried – but for some reason your mobile wasn’t connecting. So I called the office instead.”
John’s face went slightly pale.
“Oh? What did they tell you?”
“Just that you’d been fired by your boss two years ago, and hadn’t been seen near the place since.”
“John, what the hell is going on? We’ve had no problem paying the bills – you even told me you got a raise – and now I find out you lost your bloody job? What the hell have you been doing?”
“Louise, please let me explain….”
“No more lies, John – I’ve had a bucketful of them. Why the hell should I listen to you now?”
“Louise, please will you calm down and keep quiet….”
“Quiet? John, why the hell should I keep quiet? You’ve been lying to me all this time and now I mmmmph.”
With a speed she did not her husband capable of, John dashed over and clamped his hand firmly over his wife’s mouth, holding her arm down with the other.
“Louise, if you don’t shut up I may have to show you just how good I am at my work. Now, are you going to keep quiet and let me explain, or do I have to make sure you stay quiet?”
Louise looked at her husband with surprised eyes. What the hell was he talking about? She saw John take release her arm, and take a clean white handkerchief from his pocket.
“I mean it Louise – are you going to be quiet or do I have to stuff this into your mouth?”
Louise nodded and John took away his hand. “Let me fix you a drink, and I’ll explain everything.”
Louise sat at the table, a glass of wine in hand, as John drew the curtains and turned on the room lights before joining her.
“John – what did you mean when you said that earlier? Would you really have tried to gag me?”
“Yes, I would have. Look – I was fired, yes, but you need to hear why because that goes some way to explaining what happened.”
“You remember Derek, the boss I had at the insurance company? Flash git, threw his money around, trophy wife, and didn’t know the meaning of the word modesty?”
“Well, he fired me because I threatened to spill the beans on some of his extracurricular activities. I found out he was cooking the books to make it look like he was making far more in terms of income than he actually was.”
“I don’t understand – why did you tell him what you’d discovered?”
“Louise, I’m an honourable man – I wanted to give him the chance to come clean. Instead – well, half an hour later I was out of the office and no chance of telling anyone. He’d planted records that made it look like the fraud was mine, so I was given a choice – go or be arrested.
So I decided to get my own back. I knew he was going away for a week, so I waited until he had been away for a few days before I visited his house.”
Louise swallowed hard. “Hang on – I remember reading in the papers about a robbery at his house. You dismissed it – John, don’t tell me…..”
John slowly nodded.
“Dave – my friend who works at the studios – he gave me a prop gun they use for filming. I told him it was for an amateur dramatics production.
In the middle of the afternoon, I went to Derek’s house and knocked on the door. His wife was there, of course – it was the middle of the afternoon, but she was in a silk dressing gown and drinking a cocktail.
She recognised me, and asked what I wanted. I told her I had to leave some files for Derek, so she let me in. Then I pulled the gun out of my pocket and told her not to scream.
She just whimpered. I made her go into the kitchen, and find for me some washing line, and then I took her up to her bedroom and made her lie face down on the bed. I tied her wrists together with the rope, and then used it to tie her ankles together before securing the ends to the foot of the bed. She just kept saying ‘Don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me.’
I told her I just wanted some things Derek had, then found two silk scarves in a drawer. One I used to blindfold her, the other to stop her calling for help. I then turned over the bedroom, taking what jewellery I could find, and booted up Derek’s computer.
The files I needed to prove my innocence and his guilt were backed up there, so I took a copy and left a note saying if he reported this to the police, I would in turn report him. Then I left.”
Louise sat listening to all this, then swallowed.
“You really did that?”
“I really did that. I had made some contacts with the fringes of the criminal fraternity through work, so I contacted one of them discreetly – one I could trust. He took care of getting the money from the jewellery, and now he acts exclusively for me in that area.
Well, I found out two things. One, I actually enjoyed the excitement and the thrill of doing that. Two, I could make a lot more money this way than in others. So I had a career change.
Louise, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but if I had what would you have done?”
“I don’t know, John, I don’t know. So what do you do now?”
“Well, if you want me to stop I will. Or…..”
“Look, come with me tomorrow and see what happens.”
“Come with you? You mean…..”
“Louise, just say no. If you want to find out how I earn my living, however, just come with me.”
The following afternoon, John and Louise were sat in the Daimler outside a detached house in a town some miles from where they lived. At John’s request, Louise had worn a blue jacket and skirt with a roll neck sweater, and black leather boots. John was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie. To the entire world, they looked like an ordinary couple waiting for someone.
“So what happens now?” Louise said.
“Follow my lead and say nothing. I’ve watched the house for the last week, and I know what to do.”
John opened an attaché case, inside of which Louise saw a variety of lengths of rope neatly coiled, rolls of medical tape and clean handkerchiefs. She also saw a set of velvet bags, and a small handgun.
“Take this and put it in your purse,” he said handing Louise the gun. “Don’t worry – you won’t have to use it, just point it. Also, take this and ball it up in your hand.”
Louise looked at what John had handed her – a tan stocking. John smiled at her, and then they both left the car and walked up the drive way, John carrying the case and Louise her purse.
The door to the house sat in an alcove. Looking round, John rang the doorbell then slipped the stocking in his hand over his head, indicating that Louise should do the same. He also pulled on a pair of black leather gloves, and handed a pair to Louise indicating she should put them on as well.
The door was opened by a grey haired woman, dressed in a brown dress and flat shoes.
“Yes, how may I MMMPGFDHH!”
John pushed her into the hallway, with his hand clamped over her mouth, while Louise closed the door behind them.
“Not a word, please, and this will all pass quickly. When I take away my hand, do as I say and you say nothing. Do you understand?”
The woman nodded, and John slowly removed his hand.
“Now,” he said taking her by the arm, “show me where the telephone is.”
The woman led them into the hallway, and pointed to the socket in the wall. At a nod from John, Louise walked over and pulled the phone out of the wall.
“Is there anyone else in the house?”
The woman nodded, and pointed towards a door in the corridor.
“Take the gun out and cover us,” John said, and as Louise pulled the gun from her purse john pushed the woman towards the door.
“Martha, who was that at the ……”
A woman in her mid-thirties stood up, looking at the three people who came into the room. She was wearing a black and white short sleeved dress, of a style that wrapped around and tied at the back, and slippers on her feet.
“Say nothing and no-one gets hurt,” John said. “Please, walk over and close the curtains, then lie face down on the floor with your hands behind your head. You, Martha, do that now.”
As the woman walked over, her eyes fixed on the masked intruders, Martha lay down as she was asked and John laid his case on the table.
“Right, Mrs Appleby, this is a robbery. If you do as we ask, my companion here will not have to use the weapon she has in her hand. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” the woman replied.
“On the floor then, as quickly as you can please.”
Mrs Appleby lay down as John took one of the lengths of rope from the case, and kneeling down beside Martha he took her wrists, placed them in the small of her back and began to quickly tie them together. Louise watched as her husband wrapped the rope around the older woman’s crossed wrists, then passed it between them and pulled it tight.
John stood up, made his way to Martha’s feet, and with another length of rope crossed and tied her ankles together.
“Roll over, please, Martha,” John said as he stood up and made his way back to the case.
“What are you going to do?” Martha asked as John came back with a handkerchief and a roll of tape.
“Your employer and I have some business to discuss, so I’m afraid I need to make sure you can’t disturb us. Open wide please.”
John waited as the older woman opened her mouth, then placed the rolled up handkerchief in her mouth before smoothing several strips of tape over her closed lips.
“Close your eyes, please.”
John tore off a long strip of tape and placed it over the woman’s closed eyes. He then helped Martha to sit up, and manoeuvred her over so that she was sat against a chair.
“How can you let him do this?” Mrs Appleby asked Louise as she stood and watched. She was wondering the same thing – but she could not deny there was a thrill behind this.
“Right, Mrs Appleby, please place your hands in the small of your back.”
John took a length of rope and tied her wrists together then used the ties at the back of her dress to secure them into the small of her back. He then helped her to her knees, and then to stand up.
“You and I, Mrs Appleby, are going to take a walk around your lovely house and see what we can find. In the meantime, my friend here is going to look downstairs.”
“What am I looking for?” Louise whispered.
“Credit cards, money – but nothing that belongs to the poor lady. Only to this one” John replied.
“Please, don’t hurt me,” Mrs Appleby cried out as John led her out of the room.
“Don’t fight and you’ll be just fine. Join us upstairs when you’ve finished down here, and bring the case with you.” John picked up some of the velvet sacks as he said this, and the two made their way up the staircase.
Louise looked around the rooms downstairs, finding the purse of Martha but leaving that as instructed, but placing other items in one of the bags. She then placed the bag in the case, closed it and picked it up. Knelling beside the bound Martha, she quietly asked “Are you all right?”
Martha nodded, and tried to speak, but all Louise heard was “y?”
“Don’t struggle, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Louise stood up and made her own way up the staircase.
“In here,” she heard John call, and she entered what was obviously the master bedroom. Mrs Appleby was sat on the bed, ankles crossed and tied and with a silk scarf stuffed in her mouth, watching John emptying the contents of her jewellery boxes into the sacks.
“Ah good – why don’t you make sure Mrs Appleby here more comfortable and gag her properly?”
Louise put the case down on a bedside table, and gently pulled the scarf out of the frightened woman’s mouth.
“How can you help him do this?” she spluttered.
“It’s a living,” Louise said, and she flashed a quick smile over to John. Taking a handkerchief from the case, she folded it neatly and came back to Mrs Appleby. “Now, are you going to open your mouth, or do I have to make you?”
The woman looked angrily at Louise, but opened wide as Louise gently pushed the cloth in, then closed her mouth to allow the tape to be placed over her lips.
“Why don’t you lie down and rest your head on the pillow,” Louise said, and Mars Appleby shuffled down so that she was lying on her back. Louise than took a long strip of tape, and as with Martha downstairs Mrs Appleby was blindfolded.
John came over, and rolling the bound and gagged woman onto her side he ran a further length of rope between her ankles and wrists.
“Thank you very much for your time, Mrs Appleby.”
With that, John and Louise made their way down and out of the house, removing the stocking before they left and the gloves when they returned to the car. Louise was flushed and felt a little strange.
“How often do you do this?” she asked.
“Once or twice a month – as you say, it pays the bills and a little more besides. Now, the question is, do you want me to stop and get another job or not?”
Louise sat in thought for a moment, and then shook her head. “No – but when we get home, you have to show me what they taught you in the Scouts. That way, I can be of more help to you.”
John laughed, and drove home with his wife by his side.