Well Met by Moonlight
“Thanks,” Anna Carter said as she paid the cab driver, and got out onto 34th Street, the yellow cab setting off as she put her purse back into her shoulder bag. The grey haired woman was wearing a dark grey short sleeved dress over a grey roll neck cable knit sweater, a matching cloth belt tied round her waist and knotted in front.
Her legs were snugly enclosed in a pair of patent leather black boots, the skirt of her dress covering the top, as she found her apartment keys and let herself into the lobby. Removing her large sunglasses, she walked up the stairs, her necklace bouncing off her chest, and let herself in.
So when she felt the leather gloved hand over her mouth, and the small disc which was pressed against her back, the shock made her completely mute.
“Hello,” a female voice said as Anna’s eyes moved from side to side, “my apologies for the intrusion, but you have something I want, and I need to make sure I can obtain it without any interruptions from you. Nod if you understand.”
Anna slowly nodded as the voice said “good – when I take my hand away, I want you to open your mouth and say nothing. Again, nod if you understand.”
As Anna slowly nodded, the leather gloved hand was taken away, and she opened her mouth, trying not to gag as she realised one of her own scarves had been folded up and was been pushed into her mouth.
“Hush – close your lips together.”
Anna brought her lips together, and then felt something tugging at them as some sort of soft material was pressed down over them. It held firm, as she tried to move her lips, with no luck.
“Walk in front of me,” the voice said as she felt a hand against her back, and she walked slowly forward into her drawing room. She could see a black holdall sitting on a table, and that one of her wooden chairs with ornate arm supports was sitting in the centre of the room.
“Sit down,” the voice said, “and make yourself comfortable – this will not take too long.”
Anna nodded as she sat down and rested her own arms on the supports, looking to the side as she saw the intruder for the first time. She was slim, well built, and dressed in black with a balaclava covering her head. Through the holes for eyes and lips, she could see they were also covered with what looked like a stocking. The woman was taking a length of rope as she secured Anna’s wrists down to the supports, and then her arms at the elbows.
“I’m sorry this is necessary,” she said as she pulled the ropes tight, “but I assure you, it is for your own protection.”
“You will see,” the masked woman said as she put Anna’s ankles together, and she felt her ankles been pulled together, the leather compressing under the rope as it was taken around and between her legs. After it was taken between her legs and tied off, she watched as the woman pulled her ankles to the side and secured them to a front leg of the chair.
The intruder stopped and looked at Anna, her covered lips smiling as she said “If I said to you ‘Well Met by Moonlight’, what would you say, Miss Anna Carter?”
Anna stared at the young woman, before she said “Hmgdddd...”
“Exactly – which is why it is necessary for you to be left like this for your own safety. Please, relax, do not struggle – I will only be a few minutes.”
Anna turned her head and watched as the young woman walked out of the room, her mind flying back forty years...
“Are you sure we can do this? Nobody will find out?”
Anna looked at her three friends, tugging nervously on the side of her mini dress. It was grey, with a white Elephant motif printed over it, and her light tan suede boots covered her legs from her knees. The brunette was clearly worried about what this meant.
“Yes – if we all agree to do it this way,” Eleanor said as she looked at Anna and Casey. “Bobbi – are you in?”
“There now – that wasn’t too bad, was it?”
“Now that would be telling,” the woman said as she deposited a velvet bag in the larger one, and then checked the ropes. “I’m sure your husband will free you when he gets home, but for now, relax, enjoy the down time – and thank you for your cooperation.”
Anna watched as the intruder walked out of the apartment, and then began to fight the ropes holding her in place. If this was really about that day, she needed to warn the others....
“Another day, another fistful of dollars,” Casey said as she rode the subway to her home. The sixty year old woman still had long reddish brown hair – thanks to the judicious use of dyes – and today had a long brown greatcoat which covered her clothes. Under that, she was wearing a purple and grey patterned blouse, the top buttons undone, blue jeans and old brown leather boots. She also had a light brown handbag, slung over her shoulder as she left the train and walked back to her car for the short drive home.
Pulling into her driveway, she got out and fished her keys out of her handbag. With her husband away on a golfing trip, and the kids at college, she had the house to herself – and that meant she could have a nice relaxing evening at home.
So when she closed the door behind herself, and took her coat off, she went up to the bathroom and thought about starting to run a bath.
“Nah – food first, then bath,” she said to herself as she walked back down the stairs, but as she passed the front door she heard a knock.
“I wonder who that could be,” she said as she looked through the side window, and saw someone in a courier’s shirt standing there. Wondering what was been delivered, she opened the door and said “yes, can I help you?”
“You most certainly can – walk back inside, hands in the air, and don’t say a word.”
Casey stared at the person, slowly raising her hands as she walked backwards. She was indeed wearing a courier’s uniform – but no uniform she knew off included a stocking pulled down over her head, trapping her long black hair against her neck. She also had on a pair of black leather gloves, one hand holding a pistol as she pointed it at her.
“Nice house,” the intruder said as she put down the black bag she was carrying and closed the door. “Is anyone else at home?”
“No,” Casey said in a small voice, “what are you going to do to me?”
“Make you comfortable – where is your bedroom?”
“Good – very slowly, turn round, and put your hands behind your back.”
Casey nodded as she did what she was told, biting her lower lip as she heard the intruder put the bag down, and then cross her wrists, the soft cord holding them firmly together as it was wound around and between her arms. She grunted as it was pulled tight, flexing her fingers as the intruder tied the ends off, out of reach of any chance of pulling on them.
“After you,” the masked woman said, Casey nodding as they walked up the staircase, and into the master bedroom. She looked at her bed, as the intruder said “stop” and she saw a band of rope been passed round her body, pulling her arms tightly into her sides as it was taken round above and below her chest.
“I don’t understand, is this a robbery,” Casey whispered as each band was pulled tighter and tighter.
“Yes, it is,” the woman said as she pulled the rope one more time, and then tied them off. “Sit down on the bed.”
“Why – ho, I see,” Casey said as she saw the two lengths of rope in the hands of her captor, sitting on the edge of the bed and watching as she bound first her ankles, and then her legs together.
“Now, I have a message for you Casey.”
“How... How did you know my...”
“Well Met by Moonlight.”
Casey looked at the woman, her face paling as she sais “Oh my god...” Her mind then flew back...
“It’s wrong – we can’t just take it and say nothing,” Casey said as she folded her arms. She was wearing a lemon wool mini-dress, a blue scarf tied round her neck, and a pair of purple suede boots. Looking at Anna, she said “we need to tell the authorities we found this.”
“Will they believe us though,” Anna said as she looked at her and Eleanor.
“Of course they will,” Eleanor continued, “if we all say the same thing.” She looked at the burnt out car, and then at the black holdall that sat on the ground between them.
Casey walked over to where Bobbi was sitting, and put her arm round her friend. “I know it doesn’t seem right, Bobbi, but it’s going to help us all so much. You can see that. can’t you?”
“Are we all in on this or not?”
“You made your choice,” the intruder said as Casey realised she had a folded scarf on her gloved hand, held in front of her mouth. “Now it’s payback time. Open wide.”
She nodded as she opened the mouth, tasting the silk on her tongue before the intruder took a roll of white tape and wound it round her head, silencing her before she laid her on her side and secured her ankles back to her chest ropes.
“I won’t be long,” she said as she took a sleep mask and placed it over Casey’s eyes, not only blindfolding her, but also hiding the start of the tears as they flowed down...
Bobbi smiled as she came into her apartment, removing her red scarf and long red coat and hanging them up before she went into her kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine. Sitting in her front room, she put her feet up and looked at her black leather boots, the legs of her black jeans tucked into them, stretched out in front of her.
The thirty year old was tired, happy, all sorts of things, as she thought of phoning her mother – and then remembered why that was not possible. Not yet anyway.
“Well, a nice quiet night in,” she said to herself as she turned the television on – and then froze as she saw the gun out of the corner of her eye, and heard the female voice say “no words, no movement – just stay where you are, Bobbi.”
“How did you get in here,” she said as she looked at the black clad woman.
“Not really important, is it? Now, I need to make sure you stay there – at least you’ll be more comfortable in the chair. I want you to put your hands behind your head, and cross your ankles.”
Nodding, more out of fear than anything, Bobbi crossed her ankles, watching as the woman took a length of white cord and quickly bound them tightly together.
“I don’t understand,” Bobbi said as the intruder took a second length of cord, and tied her legs together below her knees, “I don’t have any jewellery or anything – so why are you robbing me?”
“I know,” the intruder said, “and I regret this, but you do have something I need.”
“It belongs to your mother, and it is amongst her belongings you have stored in your front room.”
“My mother... You know she is...”
“I am – and I am truly sorry to hear that. By all accounts, she was the most exuberant of her group of friends – save for one day.”
Bobbi watched as the intruder took her hands in front of her, crossed her wrists and tied them together, before she ran some rope from them to her knees and tied them down.
“This is about what the four of them found, isn’t it? Well Met by Moonlight?”
“Did she tell you the story?”
Bobbi nodded slowly as she thought of what her mother had said...
“Some years ago, I was in a car with my three friends when we came across a broken roadside barrier. We pulled up, and tried to look down the slope, but...
“I was still doing me medical degree at the time, and I wondered if anyone was injured down there, so I made my way down - a stupid thing to do, when you consider I was wearing a mustard coloured dress with a very short skirt, and knee length crimson suede boots. Anna, Eleanor, Casey – they followed me down a while later, and then saw what I was staring at.
“There was the burnt out shell of a Pontiac, but nobody was around. If anyone had been in the car, they had either escaped or the car had burnt them on when it caught fire. What I was looking at was a black holdall that somehow had been thrown out of the car. I had opened the top, and was staring at the bundle of notes that was inside. Hundred dollar notes, all neatly wrapped and labelled.
“Eleanor looked in the bag, as I went to sit down on a nearby rock, trying to think about what happened. I could hear them talking about what to do – and that was when Eleanor made her suggestion.
“We all had debts to pay – and nobody was claiming the money – so why didn’t we take it and split it amongst ourselves? I wanted no part of it – I could not understand how it had got there, or who had been in the car...
“I looked up to see Casey by me, talking to me, as both Anna and Eleanor looked over. I just wanted to go, so I nodded – and we took the bag back up with us.
“After that, we went back to our house – and that’s where we made the deal. I never took my part though – the details are in my papers. When... When the time comes, you deal with what you find in the way you see fit. And do the right thing.”
“There’s a case in my spare bedroom, with my mother’s papers in it. I haven’t opened it – yet. If you’re after what I think you are after, it will be in there.”
“Thank you,” the intruder said as she pulled the ropes one more time, securing Bobbi’s arms to her sides and helping her to lean back in the chair. “I need to keep you quiet now – and when you see your mother, tell her all is well.”
The young woman nodded as the white tape was smoothed over her mouth, and the intruder turned up the television, leaving for a few minutes before she nodded and left the apartment.
Eleanor looked out of the window of her drawing room as she listened to the phone call.
“I know – Anna called me last week, are you all right Casey?
“Okay then – at least you got through it. I wonder what this person is going to do about Bobbi?”
The older woman nodded as she looked out. Eleanor was wearing a pink and grey striped sweater, the sleeves pulled up slightly, and a short black skirt. Her legs were enclosed in a pair of dark tights with a lighter checked pattern, and knee length grey-brown suede boots.
“I’ll be sure to take care Casey – you look after yourself now, all right?”
Putting the phone down, Eleanor looked out on the road, at the young families walking by, and slowly shook her head to and fro.
“I’m glad she’s recovering – it means I approached this the right way.”
She turned and looked at the woman sitting in her armchair, smiling as she pointed a pistol at her. She was smartly dressed, in a blue jacket and skirt, a cream camisole under the jacket, and knee length black boots – as well as a black stocking pulled down over her head.
“I know,” Eleanor said with a little smile, looking through her glasses, “forty years is a long time to carry that round...”
“I still can’t believe it,” Eleanor said as she sat in the seat, the skirt of her off white wool dress rising. The dress was designed to look as if it was a separate top and skirt, the roll neck sitting under her chin.
She stroked her hand down her grey knee length suede boots and looked at the others. “So we’re agreed – a four way split.”
“I’m not agreed,” Bobbi said, “take my share and give it to a charity, but I don’t want it.”
“We’ll put it somewhere safe for you,” Anna said, “in case you change your mind.”
“Hey what’s this?”
Casey drew out of the bottom of the bag a black leather satchel, opening it to take out some ledgers.
“The books for someone – what do we do with these?”
“We’ll keep it in the same place as Bobbi’s share – rent a safety deposit box somewhere. Leave that with me – and when Bobbi is ready, we’ll get together and collect it for her.”
“How will we know if she is ready?”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be – it’s all like a dream...”
“that’s it – we quote Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night’s dream – the opening line is...”
“Ill met by moonlight,” Casey said.
“So when we’re ready, we send the message to the others.”
The other three girls looked at each other as Eleanor said “the message is Well Met by Moonlight...”
“How did you find out?”
“Not really important,” the intruder said as she stood up, and held up a length of rope. “Lie down, and put your hands behind your back.”
“So it’s not Bobbi’s share you are after,” Eleanor said as she lay on her stomach, placing her hands behind her and looking over her shoulder as she felt the rope around her wrists.
“No – I just wanted the access information to the safety deposit box, which you split between the four of you. With it, I can retrieve the ledgers.” She pulled the rope tight between Eleanor’s wrists and tied the ends off, before she crossed and started to bind her ankles. “I’ll make sure her daughter gets the money – care homes, especially good ones, are expensive. Consider it the apology from all three of you to her.”
“I know – the other money is spent, you know?”
“Not my concern,” the masked woman said as she tied Eleanor’s legs together below her knees, and then ran some rope from her ankles to the leg of the couch. “I’m going to steal your jewellery, so this is a real robbery, but the other matter remains private between us. Is that acceptable?”
Eleanor nodded as she placed her lips together, feeling the brown fabric plaster as it was smoothed firmly down over her mouth, and then watched as the woman walked to her safe, opening it and taking the contents out.
“Thank you for your cooperation,” she said with a smile as she left Eleanor there, wondering who this woman was.
Three days later
“Thank you,” the brunette said as she opened the safety deposit box, and withdrew from there the two leather satchels. Opening one, she smiled as she put it to one side, and then took out of the second satchel the binders, looking through them and nodding.
“Will you be requiring the box any more, Madame?”
“No – send the final bill to the usual address. I will be taking the contents now,” she said as she put both satchels into her large bag, smiling as she walked from the vaults to the main lobby and then out of the bank.
As she went out, she took out her cell phone and looked at the display.
“Your ladyship? I have successfully obtained the ledgers you needed – I shall have them couriered by hand to you today. They should be sufficient to clear the slur on the reputation of your client’s family. All other items have been disposed of, and the contribution will be made as requested.”
She ended the call, and hailed a cab. “St Angela’s Academy,” she said, closing the door as the cab sped off....