Lovely Rita meter maid
nothing can come between us
When it gets dark I tow your heart away
Standing by a parking meter
when I caught a glimpse of Rita
Filling in a ticket in her little white book
In a cap she looked much older
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man
Lovely Rita meter maid
may I inquire discreetly
When are you free to take some tea with me
Took her out and tried to win her
had a laugh and over dinner
Told her I would really like to see her again
Got the bill and Rita paid it
Took her home and nearly made it
Sitting on a sofa with a sister or two
Lovely Rita meter maid
where would I be without you
give us a wink and make me think of you
As she heard the song playing from the open windows of the flats above the shops, Rita marvelled at a few things. Firstly, the fact that her name was Rita and that she was a “meter maid” or Female Traffic Warden to give her the correct title. Secondly, that she did indeed have a bag slung over her shoulder as she walked the streets in her uniform – a crisp white linen blouse that managed somehow to cover her large chest without straining too much, a knee length dark blue skirt that matched the colour of the tie she wore, sensible tights and a pair of comfortable shoes. Thirdly, how funny it was that Paul and John were inspired to write that song by seeing someone outside the studios.
The thought that most filled her mind, however, was how bloody unfair it was that she worked in this provincial little market town, as opposed to the glamour of Abbey Road in London. As she made her way down the high street, her dark brown hair gathered up under her cap and held in place by some strategically placed hairpins, she longed for a little excitement to come into her life, a little danger.
Little was she to know just how soon that dream was going to come true...
As she passed the front door of Quaint Jewellers, she stopped to have a chat with the owner and her assistant. The sun was starting to beat down on this particular summer day, so she unbuttoned the cuffs of her blouse and started to roll her sleeves up as she talked with Amanda and Holly.
Amanda Cathcart was in her mid-forties, but liked to look the modern woman, dressed as she was in a fawn coloured roll neck sweater and matching wrap-round skirt, a belt of silver metal disks hanging loosely around her waist. She also had on a pair of light tan leather go-go boots, the hem of her skirt just going over the top. She smiled as she spoke with the other two, her rouged lips parting to show her perfect teeth and her short copper brown hair cut in a bob.
Holly was in her early twenties, and was wearing a chocolate brown round necked mini dress with short sleeves and a wide leather belt hanging loosely over her hips, and tight brown suede boots that came up to just over her knees. They had run the jewellers between them for a number of years now, and Rita would often stop in for a chat when she had a few spare minutes.
“Busy day today, girls?”, she said as she rolled up the other sleeve of her blouse to just above her elbow, keeping the folds straight so that her uniform still looked perfect. Amanda smiled and replied “Nothing special – we might stay back after lunchtime and do a stock take, given it’s Tuesday.”
“Oh yeah – early closing,” Rita said with a smile. The tradition of stores closing at lunchtime one day a week was still popular in 1967 and for this town Tuesday was that day. It gave storeowners a chance to catch up on stocktaking or other chores, without having to spend time in the evenings doing that. A civilised way of doing things that suited everybody and everybody in the town knew that was what would happen.
“Are you going to the dance on Saturday, Rita?” Holly asked as she swung from side to side on the balls of her feet. The heels on her boots were long, and gave her an additional inch or so of height that was complemented by the beehive design that she had brushed her blonde hair into.
“Could be – I’m not sure yet, it depends on Bert’s work times. Look, I’d better get going – can I drop in for a cuppa later on?”
“Looking forward to it,” Amanda said as she unlocked the front door of the shop and let herself and Holly in. Rita walked down the street, smiling at the people she passed but keeping an eye out for the cars that were parked next to the newly installed meters on the kerb side.
The town clock was striking two as Rita made her way slowly back up the high street. She had passed several times up and down, watching people going about their business, with nothing too much to worry about. The occasional ticket slapped on a car windscreen when the money had run out on the meter, but that was all. Not even a lot of angry abuse directed towards her – not that it happened too much, but it was still unpleasant when it did. Despite the heat from the sun over head in the clear blue sky, she had kept her cap firmly on her head and her tie firmly fastened under her buttoned up collar. She had her standards to maintain, after all, and the slight breeze as she walked was keeping her cool.
From an open window she could hear Sandie Shaw signing her latest hit.
Love is just like a merry-go-round
With all the fun in the air
One day I'm feeling down on the ground
Then I'm up in the air
Are you leading me on?
Tomorrow will you be gone?
As she passed the jewellers, she noticed with a little anger that the grey van which had been there half an hour earlier was still parked there, the red flag on the meter clear for all to see. She took out her pad, pen poised in her hand to start writing, when out of the corner of her eye she caught a movement behind the window of the store. It looked like someone in a pair of overalls, so she figured that whoever owned the van was doing some work for Amanda.
“Maybe they just need reminding,” she said to herself as she walked up to the door. The blind behind the glass was pulled down, and the sign between the canvas and the clear glass said “Sorry! We’re Closed!!” in large red letters, but Rita knew if she rang Amanda would let her in.
“I’ll get them to put some money in the meter, while I have a brew,” she thought to herself as she stood there. When the door was not immediately opened, but instead there was a flick of motion of the blind, she reached up and rang the doorbell again. This time she heard the lock on the door turn, and as the door opened she called out “Put the kettle on, Holly.” To her surprise, however, a gloved hand reached out, took her bare forearm in a firm grasp and pulled her into the shop, the door slamming shut behind her.
The light inside the store was dim, and it took a moment or two for Rita’s eyes to adjust after the bright sunlight outside, but when she saw the scene inside the shop her knees started to turn to jelly.
Across the floor was strewn a number of velvet stands, which should have held items of jewellery but instead showed the empty indentations where the jewellery should have been. Holding her arm was a man, dressed in brown overalls and wearing a brown balaclava over his head with only a thin set mouth and a pair of piercing blue eyes showing. As she looked at him, Rita realised that he was looking at her with anger, and the sawn off shotgun that was in his free leather gloved hand showed the rest of the story.
“Who was it?” a deep male voice said from the rear of the store, and the first man shouted back “A nosey parker – I’ll take care of her and then bring her through. You’re not going to give me any trouble, are you,” he whispered into Rita’s ear as he pressed the barrel of his gun into her side. She looked sideways with her eyes, noting the smile that was playing no his lips, and nodded.
“Good girl – drop the bag on the floor and put your hands behind your head,” he said as he let go of her arm, the gun pointing at her all the time. Rita slowly lifted her satchel over her head, dropping it to the floor and locking her fingers together over her hair. The man prodded her in the back with the gun and forced her to march over to the wooden counter, over which Rita could gradually see the telephone that had been pulled away from the wall and thrown onto the floor, the Bakelite set cracked and the receiver loose. From somewhere in the rear of the store she could hear a radio playing.
Please release me can't you see
you'd be a fool to cling to me
to live a lie would bring us pain
release me and let me love again
“Lean forward and put your head on the counter, then don’t move,” the man whispered, and as Rita did as she had been ordered he placed the gun on the counter within his reach so that Rita knew what might happen if she protested. She listened to the man’s breathing as he took something out of his pocket and shook it out, then grimaced as he forced her hands down behind her back and crossed them in the small of her back. Looking over her shoulder, she saw him doubling over a length of thin rope, and realised what was about to happen.
“Where are Amanda and Holly?” she asked as the cord was passed around her wrists and pulled tightly, making her yelp as they were forced together. The man said nothing as he passed the rope around and between them, pulling tighter with each pass until Rita could feel her pulse against the cords. Giving one last tug between her bound wrists, he tied the cord ends together and pulled back on her shoulders, forcing her cap to fall on the far side of the counter as she came up.
“All right – let’s make you nice and cute before we take you through,” the masked man said as he picked up a rucksack from the floor, and took out a tightly wrapped skein of white rope. Pulling one end out, he fashioned a lasso with the free end and pulled enough rope out to make it large enough to pass over Rita’s head, which he proceeded to do before pulling tightly around her arms and chest below her breasts. As he pulled the coil around behind her, Rita could feel her arms being pulled into her side, as well as the material of her blouse stretching over her breasts and the front parting slightly around the buttonholes.
She was beginning to wonder if the material would hold, and that fear grew stronger as the rope was passed round above her breasts and pulled back through the first loop. As more and more passes were made, securing her arms more tightly to her side, the loops forced her breasts to become more prominent, and the buttons seemed to be straining to stay in place. To add insult to injury, he then seemed to take great pleasure in passing the rope around her neck, turning her round so that he could pass the end through the ropes below her breasts, then taking it around her neck again and pulling tighter still before pulling her bound wrists further up her back. As he stood back, she could feel the pressure around her breasts, and wondered what she must look like.
“Enjoying yourself?” she heard the deep male voice say, and Rita was turned round to see a second man in overalls and a balaclava. He was shorter, stockier, and his brown eyes looked amused as he scanned Rita up and down. “My friend does so enjoy his work – would you like to see what he did earlier?” he said as he took Rita’s arm and led her into the stockroom at the rear of the store.
“I only came in to tell you to move your van,” she stammered as she was led through to the small office. “We’ll move it in a few minutes once we’ve packed up,” the man said, “but first we need to make sure you stay out of the way.
As Rita walked in, she was greeted by the muffled yells of Amanda and Holly as they looked up from their seats on the floor. They were sat back to back, their wrists tied together in front of them with rope and then lashed down to their legs above their knees. In Amanda’s case, her skirt had been gathered under the ropes that her wrists were attached to, so that Rita could see the bare skin under her skirt and above her boots. For Holly, her skirt had fallen down so that the rope went around the bare skin above her knees.
Both women also had their ankles bound together, side by side, and the rope from their wrists was run down and secured to their ankles as well. Their bodies were lashed together with ropes around their waists, while their upper chests were also bound together. Finally, strips of brown sticking plaster were firmly over their mouths, although Rita could see from the way their cheeks were bulging that something else was behind and in their mouths.
“Guess I’ll have to wait for that cuppa,” Rita said as she was forced to sit down opposite the bound pair. Holly had to stop herself from laughing as the masked man crossed Rita’s ankles and started to tie them together with white rope. The radio she had heard earlier was still playing some pirate station.
Silence is golden, but my eyes still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see
“We weren’t really expecting anyone else, so you get some special treatment,” the man said as he looked up and smiled at Rita. All the time winding the rope around and between her ankles, then taking it up and wrapping it around her legs above her knees. As he pulled them together Rita tried to find some give in the ropes around her wrists and arms, but with little success. The cord was cutting into the bare skin in her forearms, and she was worried about what sort of mark they were likely to leave.
“All right, we’ll be on our way in a few minutes,” the masked man said as he companion came back in and began to pick up a number of canvas bags from the floor. “I just have one more thing to do, and then we’ll be on our way.”
“And what would that be , I wonder,” Rita said sarcastically as she watched him take roll of sticking plaster from the desk in the office and tear a long strip off, holding both ends firmly in his hands as he came over. “Pucker up, sweetie,” he said, and Rita was taken by surprise as he kissed her quickly before smoothing the fabric over her mouth, sealing them together so that she could not talk. Standing up, he walked over and switched off the radio, leaving the only sound to be heard the muffled traffic outside.
“Have a nice afternoon, ladies,” he said as the two men left, closing the office door behind them. They listened as the front door of the shop was opened and closed, the little bell above the door frame ringing both times, and then to the sound of a van driving away. As silence descended on the store, Rita looked over at Amanda, her head bowed against her chest and the tears running down over the fabric that covered her mouth.
Amanda looked up at her friend. “m sre, rt, m s sre,” she mumbled through the gag, “u shldn b hr.”
“dnt wr,” Rita said as she looked over at the younger girl. “Hle, r u ll rght?”
The young girl looked up, her blonde hair now lying limply around her face and neck, and nodded slowly.
Amanda looked up at the clock on the wall, which was now showing three o’clock in the afternoon. “Thr hrs,” she mumbled, “m srrr, m s srr...”
Rita decided that some sort of action was required. Pushing herself away from the wall she was sat against she brought her knees up as far as she could and started to shuffle on her bottom across the wooden floor. It was a slow, painful business, but both Amanda and Holly watched as she allowed herself to fall over onto her side, roll over and slowly push herself up onto her knees. Shuffling forward, she felt the nylon around her legs part and give way as she slowly approached Amanda, then turned herself around so that her hands were close to the older woman’s mouth.
“Mnd,” she mumbled as she looked over her shoulder, raising herself up so that her hands were near her mouth, “tr n ln frwrd. M gng to tr n tk t top f.”
“M gng to tk t tp f,” she said as she motioned to Amanda with her head. As the older woman leaned forward, Rita reached out with the fingers of one hand until she managed to get hold of one corner of the fabric strip over Amanda’s mouth. Rubbing against it, she managed to loosen enough to get hold of the corner between two fingers. Amanda realised what her friend was trying to do, and slowly twisted her head round so that the strip started to come away from her mouth. It was slow, and painful as the adhesive refused to budge from her skin, but eventually she was able to cough out the handkerchief as Rita held the tape in her hands, the lipstick from Amanda’s lips clearly visible on the white underside.
“Oh thank God, thank God,” Amanda cried as she finally caught her breath, the saliva sodden cloth in her lap. “They overpowered us just before closing time, and tied us both up in here. Holly, can you cope for a while longer?”
“Ys. I thnk s,” she mumbled back.
“Good – Rita, I think I can reach the knot that’s holding the big rope in place with my teeth. If you can keep that position, I will try and undo it for you and start getting you free.”
“d t,” she grunted as Amanda leaned forward and started to pick at the knot with her teeth. As she felt the tug on the ropes, she suppressed the urge to call out when her breasts were even more painfully constricted, her body showing two little damp patches at the tips of her nipples where she hoped it was just sweat that had soaked through. She stared forward, determined not to cry as the rope bit still further into her bare skin as Amanda kept picking at the ropes, slowly unravelling until to her great relief Rita felt her wrists drop down and the pressure around her chest ease slightly.
“Thanks, Amanda,” she said as she allowed herself to sit down. “Is there any chance you can get my wrist free now – then I can try and get the rest of myself untied.”
“Let me see,” Amanda said as Rita held her wrists back for her to work on.
The clock struck four as Rita finally managed to work the rope off her upper body and get back onto her knees, the wooden floor rubbing against the bare skin where her knees had worn through. Her first act was to finally peel the tape off her own mouth and then Holly’s, taking a second handkerchief out as she did so.
“Oh thank you,” Holly said as Rita hugged the two women to show she understood something of how they felt. She got to work on separating the two women, before untying the rope around Amanda’s wrists and tossing it to one side. As she rubbed her arms, Rita repeated the process on Holly before untying the rope around her own wrists.
“Can you two free yourselves now,” she said as she slowly got to her feet, waving unsteadily as she did so. She could see the sweat stains on both their outfits, but the way they were looking at her told them she wasn’t exactly a perfect vision now either. Absent mindedly rubbing the red marks on her wrists, she took their nods as agreements as she walked into the front store and towards the front door.
Opening the door, she peered out into the setting sun as it lit the street, before she heard a familiar voice saying “Rita? What the hell has happened to you?” Looking to her left, she saw a young policeman standing there, his helmet perched on his head and a surprised look on his face.
“Oh Bert – thank god,” she said as she fell into his arms. “Sound the alert –there’s been a robbery, and I walked straight into it.”
She stayed there as the policeman blew on his whistle, and as two more officers came over he looked at his girlfriend. “Did you see much of them?”
“Them, no – but I can remember their van make and registration plate,” she said as she looked up at her saviour. “Quickly – there’s still two people tied up in there.”