It’s Only Been Five Years…
“All right, lady – just sit still, hands on your head,” she said as she looked at me, and then she looked at my son and daughter. Tommy is seven, Edie five – and they had an excited look on their faces as they said “are we going to play a game, Mummy?”
“Yes, yes we are,” I said as I looked at the woman who had come in. She was in her late teens, wearing a denim jacket and jeans with a white t-shirt, and she had a black wool scarf tied loosely over the lower half of her face, her blonde hair, her blue eyes – but she also had a knife in her hand as she said “so let’s play the game. You kids lie on the floor, while I make sure your mum is kept secure first.”
I nodded as Tommy and Edie lay on the floor – Tommy in his blue t-shirt and beige shorts, and Edie in her striped top and pink jeans, both of them smiling as they did so. I’ve played tie-up games with them for a couple of years, so this was not unusual for them – but they had not asked who the girl was.
She was a stranger to them – but I knew who she was. Karen is the daughter of my former next door neighbour – but I had not asked her to come and do this. In fact, I was amazed she was doing this.
I nodded as she walked behind the chair I was sitting in, and when she asked I put my hands behind my back, feeling the rope as she bound my wrists tightly together. I was wearing a white blouse and jeans, with brown moccasins on my feet – and a is felt the rope going around and between my arms, I remembered what had happened the night I had babysat for her, about five years before…
She was twelve then, a shy little girl with blonde hair in pigtails who didn’t say boo to a goose. When the two masked men came into the room where we were sitting she was wearing a pair of pink Hello Kitty pyjamas and white bed socks. I was wearing a black sweater and leggings – after all, I had just come from next door to babysit as a favour, while my husband watched the kids. And she was terrified, as the men told us both to lie on the floor – because they had to tie us up and rob the house.
I looked at them, and then said I should be the one to tie Karen up, to keep her calm, and make sure she didn’t hurt herself. The men looked at each other, and then nodded as I knelt next to Karen, stroking her cheek as she started sobbing, and saying I wasn’t going to harm her…
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to harm you – put your hands together in prayer.”
I wriggled round with my hands firmly secured behind my back, as she helped Tommy to sit up, and then used a roll of blue tape to secure his wrists together. She was calm, in control, and was certainly enjoying being in control – unlike the scared and crying young girl I remembered from that night. Tommy watched as she taped his wrists together, and then bent his legs as she taped his wrists down to them above her knees. He was smiling, especially when she stroked his cheek with the back of her gloved hand, and then taped his ankles tightly together as well.
Tommy nodded as she tore a long strip of the blue tape from the roll, and then pressed it down over his mouth and face, before Karen helped him to lie on his side, his head on a cushion.
“Hssfhnnhmhmmhee,” he said as she looked at me and wriggled round, and I nodded and said “yes it is fun.”
That’s what I said to Karen that night as well. “This is going to be fun,” I said as she looked at me, and I wiped the tears from her eyes, “just put your hands behind your back, and I promise you I will not hurt you.”
“Okay, Mrs Dene,” she said as she slowly out her hands behind her, one of the masked men watching so while the other one had gone to see what he could find. Tearing the end free from the roll of silver tape, I crossed her wrists and then secured them tightly together, making sure the man could see Karen was not going to be able to move them. I then taped her ankles together in the same way, looking at the man and saying “will that be enough?”
The man nodded and then said “tape over her mouth.”
“Mrs Dene, please…”
I looked at Karen as the tears went down her cheeks, and said “it’s all right, Karen – the man is going to do the same thing to me as I am going to do for you, and so we’ll be just the same. Take a moment to calm yourself down, and let the tears stop.
“Look,” I continued as I looked up at the man, “why doesn’t the man use the tape to tape my ankles together now as well. That way, you know I’m going to be the same as you, all right?”
Karen slowly nodded, her sobs subsiding as the man took the roll of tape from me, and then knelt down while I crossed my ankles and he taped them together, the hems of my trouser legs flaring out from under the silver band.
“Hand me the roll of tape back,” I said as Karen watched me tear a length of the silver material off. “I’m going to put it over my mouth,” I said, “and try to talk to you.” As she nodded and wriggled onto her side, she watched me smooth the tape over my own mouth, the silver material forming to the shape of my jaw, as I said “Shnnuhnhdhrsthndmh?”
“A little, Mrs Dene,” Karen said as I tore a second strip off and smoothed it over my mouth as well, and then I said “Shnnhdhthsthuh?” She nodded and closed her mouth, pursing her lips as I tore a length off and smoothed it down over her mouth as well.
“This is tight,” Edie said as Karen wrapped the pink and purple striped rope around her wrists, holding them tightly together as Tommy wriggled on the floor, the tape crinkling on his mouth as he watched. She was happy, Tommy was happy – somehow, Karen was really making this a game for them as well, as she tied the rope between my daughter’s wrists, and then bent her legs as she used the other end of the rope to bind her ankles tightly together as well.
“Now, it’s your turn to be quiet,” Karen said as she took out of the bag she had brought things in a roll of dark grey tape, and tore off a long length before she smoothed it down over Edie’s mouth and chin. I could see the grin on her lips underneath as she rolled onto her side as well, and she tried to talk to Tommy.
“Nice kids,” Karen said as she looked at me, “are they going to behave themselves?”
“They know this is a game,” I said quietly as I watched Karen take a length of rope from her bag, and kneel in front of me, lifting my legs and crossing my ankles as she balanced them on her knee before she started to bind them together. “What are you going to do with me?”
“Make sure you cannot stop me robbing you,” she said as she looked at me.
“Thrrr – whrthshmnh.”
Karen nodded as the man stood up, and I rolled onto my side to look at her. I had also laid face down on the floor and put my hands behind my back, allowing the masked intruder to cross and tape my own wrists together.
I could see the fear was still in her eyes, but she was at least remaining calm now, as the second man came back in. He was carrying a pillow case, which jangled as he put it into their bag.
“”Let’s get out of here,” he said, the second man nodding as he knelt and stroked Karen’s cheek. “You are a very brave girl, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” he said, and I nodded in agreement as they both left us alone.
We both listened to them leave, the front door closing, as I looked at the clock. “Duhhwnththtrhhndghtfhrrh?”
Karen looked at me, and then shook her head, as I started to rub the corner of the tape over my mouth on the floor. She watched what I was doing for a moment, and then started to do it herself. I had already tried to find the edge of the tape round my own wrists, without success, and felt it would be better if I could talk.
As it was, her parents returned before I had managed, and freed both of us before they called the police. When we were both free, Karen hugged me as she cried, and said “thank you”.
They had moved away soon after, about five years ago, but as she pulled the rope between my ankles to cinch the binding and tied the ends off, she looked so different, so much more confident. I wondered if she had recognised me or the kids at all, as Edie wriggled herself closer to Tommy.
“There now – that doesn’t hurt, does it?”
I shook my head – and then I watched as she tore a second long strip off the roll of dark grey tape, and said “put your lips together – I need to make sure you stay quiet.”
“I understand,” I whispered before I let her tape gag me, the material of the tape tugging slightly on the skin round my mouth as it stopped me talking. Karen then left the room, as I slid down onto the floor and looked at my children.
“Whnchnnwhghtfhrhhmhmme,” Edie said as she looked at me.
“Whttthlshsghn,” I said as I wriggled round, looking at the band of white round my own crossed ankles.
Karen came back in about a half hour later, smiling as she put a pillowcase that jangled into her own bag, and then she checked that Tommy and Edie were all right. She then came over and leaned over to check my wrists – but as she did so, she whispered into my ear “I’m sorry Mrs Dene – you were nice to me, so I haven’t done what I would do elsewhere.”
“Why do you do this,” I whispered back.
“After that night, I started to rob other houses – and I found I liked tying up the people there, especially the kids. But I hadn’t realised you still lived here.”
She then hugged me, before she said “thank you for letting me play your games – now you can try to escape.” Tommy and Edie watched as she picked up her bag and left the room, before they started to wriggle round and try to get free.
As for me, I twisted round as well – wondering where else Karen had visited, and how that night had changed her so much…