A Question of Colour
“I see... Yes, I understand perfectly... We will seek as always to fulfil your requirements to the best of our abilities... Of course you may rely on us. Thank you for your trust and consideration, your highness.”
Putting the phone down, George sat back in his leather upholstered chair, shaking his head before he picked up the phone again.
“Coleen? Would you find James and then I need both of you in my office please? We have a special order to fill...”
Rachel Moore was walking home from her classes, without a real care in the world. In her second year at Leeds University, she was enjoying her course work, and the flat she shared with Dottie was comfortable enough – for student accommodation.
The young coloured woman was dressed to keep the autumnal chill out, a long orange and red scarf wrapped around her neck and held in front of her under a thin black leather belt. The belt also went round a beige cardigan, both the cardigan and the scarf covering her white lace top. A pair of blue jeans, the legs tucked into brown felt boots with layered tassels, completed her outfit.
Walking into her flat, she put her bag down and made her way to the kitchen, filling the kettle and plugging it in.
“Hey - if you’re making some coffee, I’ll have some of that.”
“No problem,” Rachel said as she looked at Dottie. Unlike her long black hair which fell to her shoulders, Dottie had her hair arranged in a bun on her head. Her striped jumper had a long black scarf loosely wrapped around the top, while the legs of her jeans were tucked into knee length black leather boots.
“So when’s your next lecture,” Rachel said as she handed the mug over.
“Nine tomorrow – what about you?”
“I get the day off,” Rachel said as they sat at the kitchen table, “so a nice relaxing start to the weekend.”
“Could be – if the boys don’t get involved,” Dottie said with a smile as the doorbell rang. “I’ll go and see who it is,” she said as she stood up and walked out of the kitchen. Rachel could hear the door open, and some muffled conversation – then silence as the door closed.
“Hey Dottie – who was it?”
There was no response, as Rachel slowly stood up – and then stared at the man who walked in, dressed in a black boiler suit, with a balaclava over his head.
“Oh shit – HEELLLPPMMMMMMM,” she called out as he walked quickly over, her calls muffled as a black gloved hand was clamped over her mouth.
“Not a word, lady,” he said as he held her, “just cooperate and you won’t get hurt.” Rachel tried to stamp on his foot, but he moved it out of the way in time, and smiled as he pulled her back towards the chair.
“Sit down, and keep your mouth shut,” he said quietly as he forced her into the chair, and then pulled her hands behind her back, using a plastic zip tie which he produced from his pocket to hold her wrists together.
“Who the fucking hell are you,” Rachel shouted out as the thin plastic strip was pulled tightly over her arms.
“I thought I told you to be quiet,” was the only reply, Rachel starting to talk again before a red sponge ball was pushed into her mouth. Before she had a chance to push it out, the intruder produced a roll of black electrical tape and started to wind it round her head; covering her lips and making her hair stick to her neck.
“Now,” the man said as he looked at her, “on your feet.” He forced Rachel to stand and frog marched her into the front room of the flat.
Dottie was sitting in a chair, her arms pinned behind her back and her ankles secured with a plastic strip, black tape wrapped round her head as well. She watched as Rachel was made to sit and her ankles secured, before the two masked intruders looked at them.
Dottie watched as her scarf was unwound, and then she couldn’t see anything as it was tied tightly over her head, covering her eyes and blacking everything out. Rachel was unable to stop the other intruder removing her scarf and binding it tightly round her head, blocking all light out as she heard the man say “search the house.”
Both sat quietly for a few minutes, listening to the sound of someone searching, and then to their surprise a female voice said “clear.”
Rachel felt herself been lifted up and laid down, before something was wrapped tightly round her body and she heard tape been torn free as whatever covered her was secured more tightly round her body. She was then lifted up and carried – somewhere, unable to see or talk, before she heard a grunt – and then a vehicle starting.
“HMMMMMM” she called out, before a sweet smelling cloth was clamped over her nose and mouth, and she drifted into unconsciousness...
If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I'd be a better man
I'd listen to her
Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted
Cause he's taking you for granted
And everything you had got destroyed
Frankie smiled as she finished doing her makeup, and put the eye shadow down. The twenty year old African American was wearing a chocolate coloured long sleeved sweater with a roll neck, the hem of which was over a short black pleated skirt.
Fastening a beaded necklace around her neck, and putting some bracelets on her left arm, Frankie stood up and walked over to her bed, sitting down before she pulled on a pair of black felt boots that came to her knees.
As she stood up, her twin sister Bernice came in. The only way to tell them apart was their hair normally – while Frankie wore her hair in soft black curls that went either side of her central parting, Bernice wore hers in a large Afro that fell over her head.
There was also the matter of their clothes – while Frankie was very conservatively dressed, Bernice wore a brightly coloured sleeveless dress, with flowers printed on it, and a thin belt around her waist. She also had on a pair of black boots with a stack sole and stiletto heels, leather to the front and suede at the back.
“Nice,” Frankie said, “so what is this party you said we were invited to?”
“I got the invite in the post – a private gallery viewing. Might even meet a nice guy there.”
“It would make a change,” Frankie said with a smile. “When’s the taxi coming?”
“Should be outside now. Come on...”
“Private is right – do you see anybody else here,” Bernice said as they pulled up outside the door of the large house. Getting out, the twins looked at each other as they walked to the door, watching it open as a smartly dressed man appeared.
“You must be Frankie and Bernice,” he said as they walked up, “I am James, the host for this evening. Would you come this way please?”
They followed him into a large drawing room, where a select group of people were standing round, sharing gossip with wine and canapés.
“Please help yourself,” James said as he indicated the buffet, “we will begin the viewing shortly.”
“Thank you,” Bernice said as Frankie took a drink from a passing waiter.
“Some high powered people here,” she said as she looked round. “I wonder what sort of art the viewing is for.”
“We’ll find out soon enough,” Bernice said as she ate a salmon puff pastry. “Listen, I need to find the little ladies room. Wait here for me?”
“Sure,” Frankie said as Bernice walked across the room, her heels clicking on the marble floor, and then across the corridor to the toilets. As she came out a few minutes later, she saw a second door ajar, and walked slowly up to it.
Looking inside, she whispered “what the hell,” before a hand was clamped over her mouth, and she was pulled backwards...
“Excuse me, are you Frankie?”
She turned to see a young woman in a blue jacket and skirt standing behind her.
“Oh no,” she said quietly, “What has Bernice gone and done now?”
“I assure you, she has done nothing,” the woman said, “she has already gone to the viewing room, so James asked if I would take you through early as well.”
“Oh – all right then,” Frankie said as she put her glass on the table, and followed the woman across the hallway and into a room. A number of displays were already there, drapes hanging over the glass cases.
“It was never really explained what this viewing is for,” Frankie said as she looked round.
“Was it not? Well, we are a specialist supplier for household art, and behind these drapes are our latest acquisitions.”
As she passed, them, Frankie thought she heard muffled voices, but said nothing as they approached a door.
“I think there is something in here you will find of particular interest,” the woman said as she opened the door handle, “if you would like to come in?”
“Thank you,” Frankie said as she walked in – and then stared at Bernice, who was seated in a wooden chair, bands of rope holding her to it around her waist, chest and lap, while her ankles were tied together and pulled under the chair. A large knotted scarf had been pulled between her teeth, as she tried to shake her head and tell her sister to run.
“Bernice? What’s going on?”
“Forgive us,” James said as he stood behind a second chair, and Frankie felt a cold disc against her back, “but we wish to make you and your sister an offer you cannot refuse. Sit down, and I will explain...”
“All right class,” Miranda said as she looked out over her class, the bell for the end of the day ringing, “I expect to see your essays on my desk tomorrow morning. Have a good evening.”
Watching her class as they filed out, Miranda smiled before she sat at her desk and collected her books. It had been two years since her husband had died, but she had made a good life for herself in this town. Yeah, she had to admit she was lonely at times, but friends were usually a phone call away.
The Ghanaian woman had her dark hair cut in a bob, and was wearing a wrap round dress in a snakeskin design, a thin brown leather belt around her waist, and a pair of knee length leather boots that were light brown.
Putting her bags into the bag, she stood up, putting the straps of the bag over her shoulder as she made her way out of the room, along the corridor and to the outside of the academy, talking to a couple of colleagues as she did so.
Putting the bag into the boot of her car, she slammed that down and got behind the wheel, reversing out of the parking spot and heading to the exit, and then the road. She was humming to herself as she drove along, thinking of the things she needed to pick up from the supermarket before she headed back to her flat.
As she drove along, she paid no attention to the black transit van that followed her into the supermarket car park, parking alongside her and waiting as she got out before a woman got out and made her way in behind the middle aged teacher.
It took Miranda an hour to find everything she wanted, and as she pushed the trolley with her bags to her car the thought in her mind was that of the bottle of Rioja and the steak she would cook. She used the keyfob to unlock her car as she approached, the lid to the boot rising as the rear doors opened in the transit van.
She turned to lift the first bag in – only to cry out in surprise as a gloved hand was clamped over her mouth, and she saw a man in a black boiler suit grab her feet and help lift her off the floor. She was too surprised to offer any resistance as she was lifted into the back of the transit van, the doors slammed shut as she was made to lie on her stomach, and her arms pulled behind her back.
“What the hell do you think you are doing,” she cried out as she looked over her shoulder, to see one of the men who had lifted her in hold her wrists together, while the second wrapped a length of rope around and between them, pulling tight as he forced them together.
As he tied that rope off, they moved down, the man crossing her ankles as they were tied together, the rope squeaking as it rubbed on her leather boots. “LET ME GO!!! HELP – I’M BEING KIDNAPPED,” Miranda called out, only to stop when she was rolled onto her back, and she saw the gun pointing at her.
“Open your mouth.”
“Whmmgmddmmppp,” Miranda mumbled as a folded headscarf was pushed in, filling her mouth and pressing her tongue down, before she was made to close her lips over it, and a wide strip of white tape was pressed down firmly over her lips. She could hear her own car been driven off, and then the vehicle moving, while the two men sat and watched her.
She wasn’t sure how long they drove for, but eventually the van stopped, and she was carried out, taken along a corridor and then left in a room, wondering how had done this – and why?”
“Welcome Miranda – I trust you are not too incapacitated?”
She looked at the woman who had come in, before she closed the door and said “let me explain what is going to happen...”
“... and that’s the weather for tonight Dave.”
“Thanks, Jo – and good luck to you in your new job. You’ve been one of the faces of the new for five years, and I’m sure you’ll make a great success of what comes next.”
Jo smiled as she went off the set, and handed her microphone to the technician. The thirty five year old Native Australian was wearing a peach coloured sleeveless dress, with a bowed collar and a silver belt round her waist, and knee length tan leather boots, her hair frizzed and covering her head and ears.
Returning to her dressing room, she sat at the table and removed her earrings, smiling as she looked at herself in the mirror. “This time next week, I’ll be back in Sydney,” she said to herself before she stated to remove her makeup, humming to herself as she did so.
She didn’t hear the door open and close, didn’t hear the footsteps – it was only when the cloth was clamped over her nose and mouth, and she inhaled the sweet smelling vapours, she tried to raise her hands to pull the hand holding the cloth away. As she tried to breath, however, her eyelids started to get heavier, and her hands started to feel as if they were holding lead weights.
As they slowly closed, she caught a glimpse of a figure in her dressing table mirror, dressed in black, smiling as she slipped into unconsciousness...
When she came to, Jo was surprised to find herself lying on a bed, in a barely furnished room. She slowly sat up, taking the bottle of water that was by the bed and sniffing it before she took a deep drink.
When she felt able to, she looked up and called out “Hey – who’s in charge here?”
“Good evening Jo.”
She looked to where a door had opened, and a red haired woman came in, wearing a jacket and skirt and carrying a small case. Behind her came a woman dressed in a white jumper and pants, who watched her as she carried a gun in her gloved hand.
“I’m so glad you came to,” the woman said as she set the case down on a table, and opened it. “I need you to strip.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Strip, Jo,” she said as the woman in white looked at Jo, “or my friend there will strip you.”
Nodding Jo sat down and pulled her boots off, and then removed the belt, before standing up and reaching behind her. As she pulled the zip down, the dress fell gently to the floor, revealing her white bra and panties.
“Excellent,” the woman said as she removed a simple white dress, with short sleeves and a pleated skirt, “put this on please.”
“What is going on here,” Jo said as she took the dress and put it on.
“I will explain once you have been prepared,” the woman said as she took out a pair of white stilettos, “now put these on, and then stand with your arms by your sides.”
“What is this – a kidnapping,” Jo said as she slipped the shoes on, wondering how they knew her shoe size, and then gasped as she saw the woman take a skein of rope from the case, opening it up and doubling it over before she made a small loop in the centre, and walked behind the taller woman.
“Relax, breath normally,” she said as she positioned the loop at the back of Jo’s neck, and draped the rope down her front on both sides, the armed woman standing in front of Jo as the ropes were wound in spirals down her arms, and they were pulled behind her back.
“Oh sweet Jesus, why are you doing this,” Jo gasped as she felt her arms been secured together, and then forced up her back as the woman fed the ropes through the loop, and then around her upper arms and body, enclosing her breasts in a rope harness before she tied it off.
“You need to be quiet now,” the woman said as she took a folded silk scarf, and stood in front of Jo, “open your mouth, please.”
“What is going on,” Jo demanded again.
“As I said, all will be explained in due course,” the woman said with a slight hint of impatience, “now open your mouth please.”
Jo could taste the perfume on the scarf as it was placed in her mouth, and as she closed her lips over it she watched the woman tear a strip of brown sticking plaster from a roll, and then press it firmly over her mouth, her protests muted as the woman took her arm and walked her out of the room.
As they made their way down the corridor, Jo saw more men and women walking past, dressed in white, black or red, and the fear started to grow in her as she was taken into a room.
Rachel and Dottie were lying on a large double bed, looking to the door as the white ball gags filled their mouths. They were both wearing white t-shirts and joggers, and were tightly hogtied.
Frankie and Bernice were sitting on the floor, back to back, wearing white mini dresses and go-go boots. Their wrists were crossed and secured with rope, then tied down to their knees as their legs were bent in front of them. Their upper bodies were secured with ropes, while a band of white tape held their heads together as it covered their mouths.
Finally, Miranda was sitting in an old fashioned rocking chair, her arms held to the armrests with white leather belts, and her ankles secured together with another band. She wore a white jumper and shorts, with white trainers, and a white panel covered her mouth.
“Welcome Jo,” a smartly dressed man said as she heard the other five shake their heads and moan. “Please, sit here.”
Jo was walked to a white chair, which she was sat down on, her upper body lashed to the chair back, and her ankles were tied to the front legs of the chair.
“Welcome,” the man said, “to Objects of Beauty. Your possessions have been brought from your homes, any contracts and commitments you had cancelled. From this time on, you are here for one purpose – to please the person who has requested you.”
“George,” the man said as a large African man, dressed in a tailored suit, came in, “the order as requested.”
“Excellent,” George said as all six women struggled and tried to call for help.
“George,” the woman said, “surely in an age of cultural diversity, all women in a set of darker skin is an anachronism?”
“I agree,” George said, “but a contract is a contract. You are going to a new home, ladies, with hot weather and all the comforts you need – subject to approval.
“On which note, I must meet the client – I will return shortly. Come.”
The six women were left alone, to look at each other and wonder what was going to happen next...