Whatever Happened To Polly?
Mary Simmons was sitting in the hotel room, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the local paper, when the article first caught her eye.
Mystery Minxes to reunite?
At the reunion this week for the Class of 1997 at Ryedale High, the big talking point is whether or not we will see the first reunion since that time of the Mystery Minxes, the group of girl detectives who had a reputation in the mid to late 1990’s for solving local mysteries.
Three of the group, Mary Simmons, Kathy Jester and Sarah Hughes, are all known to be coming into town to take part in the celebrations, and it is hoped that the whole group will be reunited on the evening.
As our older readers will recall, the Mystery Minxes first came into public prominence in 1994, when the daughter of then Mayor Calvin Hood was kidnapped by an extortion gang. Janice Hood was a friend of the girls, who selflessly set out to rescue her form her captors after seeing the photograph that accompanied the ransom demand.
Mary thought for a moment, remembering the photo. Janice was sat in a chair, still in the uniform petticoat dress they had to wear and with her blonde hair in pigtails, while a woman behind her was tying a cloth gag into her mouth. Rope was visible around her upper body, but they had decided as a foursome to go and rescue her. Polly had been the one who figured out where she was kept, and the police were very generous in their praise of all four.
Polly – why didn’t the article mention Polly yet? Mary read on.
Other cases followed over the years, but the group split up soon after graduation from Ryedale High, when Polly Simpson, the fourth minx, suddenly left town without any explanation. This reporter understands that, as of yet, no-one has been able to contact Polly, but it is hoped that she can be tracked down in time for the reunion on Friday.
Anna Bouvier, staff reporter
Mary put the paper down. She had stayed in town after graduation, working for the local sheriff in the office, but had kept in touch with both Kathy and Sarah. Polly, on the other hand – well, after what happened that day she wasn’t surprised that she had left town. Still, she was beginning to wonder – whatever DID happen to Polly?
The four of them had been inseparable – she, dark haired and athletic, Kathy, Blonde, popular with the boys and a good fighter, Susan, red-haired and eagle-eyed. But without Polly, they would have been nothing. Polly was to the minxes what Thelma Dinkley was to Mystery Inc – the brains of the outfit, but in appearance, well…. Homely was the best word. Mary had never felt right about what happened at graduation, and had wanted to make up for it, but in the last ten years Polly had just vanished.
She put the paper down, and left the house to make her way to work. Maybe when she met up with Kathy when she arrived tomorrow, things may be clearer.
Mary looked up from her plate to see a tall, blonde haired woman standing in front of her. Dressed in a tight white jumper and skirt, with black boots and a black leather blouson jacket, Kathy Jester looked as young as she was when they had graduated.
“Kathy?” Mary said as she stood up and hugged her friend. “I thought you weren’t due in until tonight!”
“Well, I recorded my last spot early, so I managed to catch an earlier flight. So how have you been?”
“Oh, busy. Looking forward to Friday?”
“Of course. Have you heard from the others?”
“Only Susan. No-one’s managed to track down Polly yet. Funny – there was an article in the paper yesterday about us.”
“Do you know what I was thinking of yesterday? The Case of the Missing Cheerleader!”
“What on earth brought that to mind? No, let me guess – something on your sportscast…..”
In 1996, the leader of the Ryedale High cheer squad disappeared on the night of the big game. Everyone assumed the rival team where pulling a prank, but it was only after they managed to prove their innocence that things had got serious.
Kathy had got the girls together to look into the case. While Mary and Susan chased down leads, Polly searched through the cheerleader’s room to look for clues, but there were no signs of anyone been taken from the room by force. It was known she had been in her room ten minutes before her absence was noted, but there was no sign at all of her.
The four had met to compare notes, when Polly had a flash of inspiration and they all headed back to the cheerleader’s house. On the way, she tried to explain Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Purloined Letter”, and specifically a fact none of them grasped at the time – the best place to hide something you don’t want to be found is right in front of you.
At the house, Polly led the way, against the protests of the mother, to the attic. There, lying on the floor was the cheerleader. She raised her head as the light from the torch passed over her bound body, and whispered “Help me”.
It transpired that her mother had decided to punish her in the strongest possible manner for being late with work, and had bound her like a sausage on the attic floor before using chloroform to silence her. Totally illegal now, but hushed up in those days.
“Yeah, I remember it now,” Mary said. “We took all the credit for finding her, didn’t we?”
“These last few days, Kathy, I’ve been thinking more and more about Polly. Especially about the Graduation Day incident. I really wish we had had the chance to apologise.”
Kathy grimaced. “Come on, Mary. You may be content to have stayed here, but I wanted out, and the Mystery Minxes provided the perfect opportunity to get a job that meant I was well known. Yes, Polly got hurt, but she survived didn’t she?
Come on – tell me all the news now….”
Break-in at former Mayor’s house – family left bound and gagged by intruders
Mary stared at the headline. How strange – she was thinking about the Hoods only the other day, and yet here they are back in the news again.
Janice still lived with her mother – Mayor Hood had passed away some years ago – but they had both been woken by a masked intruder, who had tied and gagged both women before ransacking the house. What was unusual, according to the report, was that no weapons were reported to have been used. The intruder bound Janice’s wrists first, and then led her to her mother’s bedroom. Seeing what was happening, Mrs Hood agreed to be being bound as well.
“Morning, Sheriff,” Mary said as she walked into the office. “I see there was some trouble at the Hood’s house last night.”
“Yup, looks like a standard break-in to me.”
“Anything unusual about it?”
“Mary, your Minx days are long behind you now. I will tell you this, however – the intruder was female.”
“How do they know?”
“They smelt her perfume.”
That night, Mary and Kathy met up with the recently arrived Sarah Hughes for a drink. Her hair was now a mousey blonde as opposed to the redhead she used to be, and she now wore glasses, but otherwise she too was unchanged in ten years.
“To the Mystery Minxes!” Sarah said.
“And to Polly,” Mary added.
“You’re really worried about her, aren’t you? Come on, what happened was ten years ago, it’s in the past now.”
“Kathy, we didn’t do right by her. Would we have had so much success without her? Remember the case of the Forest Felon?”
Early 1995, and the houses on the outskirts of town were being burgled by a man known only as the Forest Felon, because eh marked his victim’s houses out from the local forests. No-one had been able to trace him, and for three months the burglaries continued.
By May, however, he had moved on to kidnapping. A young housewife had been snatched when her house was burgled, and her husband sent a photograph of the woman. She had been bound to a support post, her jeans pulled right down and only her panties still in place. Her wrists were behind her back, her ankles bound to the post and a long white scarf tied into her mouth. The Felon was asking for ten thousand dollars ransom.
Polly had been the one to examine the photo closely, and in the background there was a blue refuse bin. She also examined the river flowing behind, and managed to narrow the location down to a small area. The Minxes had quietly searched, and soon found the Felon’s hideout. The police moved in, the housewife freed and the Forest Felon sent down. The Minxes were once more lauded for their work – all except Polly…
“Whatever happened to the Forest Felon anyway?”
“Still inside – he got 20 to 30 for his crimes. Why?”
“I’m not sure – did you see in the paper about Janice?”
“Mary that could not have been him. Why – do you think our old nemeses are coming back to get us this week?”
Kathy and Sarah laughed, but Mary was lost in thought. It had been a man that kidnapped Janice – so why was it a woman this time?
Mary was in the high school gymnasium, watching the final preparations for the reunion, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
Turning around, she saw a blonde haired woman in a two piece suit looking at her.
“Mary Simmons? Anna Bouvier – I was wondering if I may have a word?”
“The reporter? Of course – please, have a seat.”
The two women sat down and Anna took out a notebook.
“Old fashioned, isn’t it?” Mary commented.
“Well, I like to keep some of the old fashioned ways going. Mary, I wanted to ask you some questions about the Mystery Minxes, if that’s all right?”
Mary sat back and crossed her legs, so that her cowboy boots showed under her jeans.
“Go ahead. What do you want to know?”
“Mary, many of your cases are well documented, but I wanted to ask about the last case you were all involved in.”
“The Graduation Day one?”
“Yes – the records are a little unclear. Perhaps you can tell me what happened that day?”
“All right – I’ve wanted to tell this story for a long time anyway. It started like this….”
June 1997 and it was Graduation Day at Ryedale High. The four friends were sitting in the courtyard, talking about their plans for the future.
“Kathy, you’re off to Berkeley on the sports scholarship, and Susan’s going to Harvard. What about you, Polly?”
Polly smiled. “I’m not sure yet – I’m going to take a year out and live a bit before I decide. Where are you going, Mary?”
“Nowhere – I need to look after my mother. Ever since she had her stroke, she’s depended on me.”
A group of students came running past.
“What’s happening, guys? The Graduation ceremony is over” Kathy called.
“It’s Mrs Harper, the principal’s wife – she’s been kidnapped!”
The four looked at each other, and then made their way over to a television screen in the cafeteria. On the screen was a picture of Mrs Harper, dressed in a white spaghetti strapped dress with black polka dots. White tape was covering her mouth, and rope was bound around her chest, arms and neck. The newsreader said that a ransom demand for one million dollars had been received.
“We have to do something,” Polly said. “Can you girls meet me in one hour?”
The other three nodded as Polly ran off.
Anna tapped her pencil on her pad. “So what happened after that?”
“Honestly? I can’t speak for the others, but in my case I’m ashamed to say I was distracted by Brick Bradford, the star quarterback of the team. We…. Well, we went behind the bleachers for a while, and it was three hours later that I remembered that Polly had asked us to meet her.
Kathy and Sarah – well, you’d have to ask them what happened, but it was another hour before I managed to get to our meeting point and they weren’t there then. Something else was.
“Polly? Polly, are you there?”
Mary entered the room the Mystery Minxes used as a meeting place, but there was no sign of Polly or the other two. In the nearby gymnasium, the sounds of the Graduation Ball could be heard.
“Where the hell are the other two?” Mary thought as she switched the light on. On the table was a brown envelope and a tape recorded. Mary opened the envelope, and looked at the contents.
There was a photograph of Polly, lying on her stomach on a bench of some type. She was wearing the clothes she had worn under her graduation gown – a red top with loose laced opening onto her chest and jeans. More crucially, her wrists were bound behind her back, and a man in a balaclava mask was tying a thick white cloth into her mouth to gag her. There was a note pinned to the photo, which simply said “Play Me.”
Mary switched on the tape recorded, and she first heard Polly screaming “Girls, help me!” Then a male voice started to speak.
“Your friend here was discovered trying to free Mrs Harper, Minxes. Now she’ll be our guest while we deal with Mr Harper. Try to interfere or rescue her and both woman die. You have been warned.”
Mary stood in shock for a moment, then picked up the photo and tape recorder before leaving the room, closing the door behind her.
“I took the stuff to the police – I for one knew this was too big for us now. I found Kathy and Sarah after that, but they both thought it was just a joke.”
“Mrs Harper and Polly were released the next day, weren’t they?”
Mary nodded. “I tried to see Polly when they were rescued, so that I could apologise, but the closest I got was when she left the hospital. She just looked at me and walked off in the opposite direction. I haven’t seen her since.”
“You stayed here, didn’t you?”
“Yes – my mother died a year later, and I just could not face moving away. Kathy and Sarah – they got all the glamorous jobs while I stayed here and tried to help.
I just wanted to make up somehow for my selfishness all those years ago.”
Anna smiled and closed her notebook. “Thank you, Mary – it’s been good to hear what happened that day. I hope to see you tomorrow.”
“You weren’t in our class, were you?”
Anna’s smile broadened. “No – but I want to see this story through to the end. Good afternoon, Mary.”
The reunion party was in full swing as Mary arrived in a red halter neck dress and heels. The music was playing, and people were either talking or dancing.
She saw Brick Bradford, dancing with his wife, the former cheer squad leader. There was Janice Hood, talking to a group of old friends. Kathy waved at her from the other side of the room, where she and Sarah were standing.
“Mary – what kept you?” Kathy said as she walked over.
“Work – that’s what.”
“Well, have a drink. I’ll be back in a minute!” Kathy walked off, the silk of her white topless dress swishing as she made her way across the floor.
“You know, I hate these reunions,” Sarah said as she and Mary stood talking for a while.
It was only after half an hour and several old classmates had passed that they realised Kathy had not returned.
“Now where could she have got to?” Sarah asked.
“”I’m not sure,” Mary replied, “Let me go and have a look around.”
Mary walked off around the hall, but there was no sign of Kathy anywhere.
“Kathy?” Janice said when Mary asked her if she had seen her friend, “She went outside with someone – a reporter I think. Why – is something wrong?”
“No – by the way, how are you and your mother?”
“We’re fine – whoever that intruder was, she was very gentle with both of us.”
“You’re certain it was a woman?”
“Well, either that or a very skilled man. The perfume was unmistakable – Charlie.”
“Charlie – I thought that was no longer available.”
Janice thought for a moment. “Yeah – in fact, I only remember one of our classmates using it.”
Mary whirled round in time to see Sarah walking out of the room. As she went off to follow her, she was stopped by Anna Bouvier.
“Mary, may I have a word?”
“Not now, Anna – something’s wrong,” Mary said as she ran across the floor as fast as her heels would allow and went into the corridor.
She was just in time to see Sarah been dragged off by someone, then a sharp prick in her arm was followed by the onset of sleep. As she looked up through drowsy eyes, she saw Anna kneeling over her….
Mary shook her head as consciousness returned, only to realise that her wrists were fixed behind her back. She was flat on her back on the floor of a hotel bedroom, some mail by her head. Twisting round, she could see her wrists were bound with some rope, which was also wrapped around her chest and shoulders. Raising her head slightly, she saw that her ankles were also bound in a similar way. Some sort of cloth was in her mouth, and she could tell something was knotted at the back of her neck, so she presumed she had been gagged with some sort of cloth.
A moaning sound came from elsewhere in the room, and looking over she saw Sarah lying on one of the beds. She had been stripped down to her underwear, and her wrists were handcuffed above her head. A rope was knotted over the cuffs, and bound above her head to the headboard. Ropes round her chest and waist lashed her to the bed, and her legs were tightly bound above her knees. Leather cuffs were around her ankles, and a purple scarf tied tightly over her obviously stuffed mouth. She was looking down at Sarah, and motioning with her head to the other side of the room.
There, on another bed, was Kathy, still unconscious. Her wrists were bound together with rope to the head of the bed, and her ankles bound as well to the foot rest. Her gown was on the floor, and a white cloth tied into her mouth. A woman was standing over her, dressed in a black backless cat suit and with her back to Mary. She was pulling down the slip Kathy was wearing to expose her breasts.
Mary tried to call out, and the woman turned at the sound. To her horror, Mary recognised her.
“Ah, Mary, you’re awake. Good, I wanted you to see this.”
The reporter reached up and removed her wig to reveal short, mousy blonde hair. Mary stared even more intently.
“Yes, Mary, it’s me. You never knew my full name was Pollyanna Bouvier Simpson, did you? I’ve been waiting for this reunion for quite some time now.”
Sarah stared at her old friend in amazement, while Kathy began to stir.
“I’m sorry I had to do this to you Mary – when I talked to you yesterday, you were the only one who actually showed remorse at what happened. I talked to the others, and they just laughed off the incident. You, Mary – you cared, and I was going to leave you out of this. When I saw you heading after Sarah, I tried to stop you, but you saw my assistant taking her away, and I had to bring you here.”
“Why this? I’ve been away for ten years now, but this seemed the best opportunity to revisit old haunts. That was me at the Hood house the other night – we jewel thieves have to keep our hand in, you know – but for the last six months I’ve been doubling up here as a reporter, just to get close to you three tonight.
That day, when I found the kidnapper’s hideout, I had no-one backing me up, and I learnt two things. Firstly, never rush into things alone. Secondly, crime does pay when planned and executed carefully. That’s what I’ve been doing these last ten years – robbing people in a planned, careful way. I never forgot my old school friends however.
So I decided to give you all a taste of what I went through. These two deserve this, but you Mary – you’re the innocent bystander here, and I’m truly sorry you had to get involved.”
Polly looked at the other two. “Be grateful I’ve only tied you both up – it could have been much worse.
Mary, in the envelopes at your head are my last gift to the town – the true story of Anna Bouvier, who disappears tonight. Don’t try and find me again – you don’t want to be involved in my world now. Stay here, and help others- that’s the best legacy the Mystery Minxes can leave.”
With one last look at the other two bound women, Polly waved and left the room. Mary looked at the other two, with a look of contempt and pity, and then started to try and free herself.
It was another hour before security checked the room after an anonymous call, and the paper the next day was full of the report of how the Mystery Minxes were kidnapped and left helpless by a former foe. The true story of what happened, however, remained with the Minxes.