Reflections on a Wet Sunday
“Listen to the
rhythm of the pouring rain,
telling me of what a fool I’ve been…”
I love listening to the oldies channel on the radio, and as I drove Sally back to my place after church we were both singing along. Sally is ten years older than me, but like me she is a widow, and we bonded over a mutual need for company and solace. So every Sunday, after the evening service we go to each other’s house for a late meal and a film.
We both had long coats on – well, it is December – and under my coat I was wearing a black jersey dress, black tights and black leather boots. Sally was wearing a long floral print skirt with a dark red top, and long black leather boots as well.
Anyway – the rain was falling onto the roof of the car as I drove onto the paved area at the front of my house, and we both ran inside, taking our coats off and placing them on the coat rack before Sally went into the front room, and I went to the kitchen to put the kettle and the oven on.
As I looked out into the back garden, I could see the rain hitting the rear patio and bouncing up, making a pattern of grey and white as I turned the radio on.
“Why does it
always rain on me,
is it because I lied when I was seventeen…”
I shook my head as I put some coffee into both cups, and made the hot drinks, then took a flan out of the fridge to warm up before it went into the oven. Picking the two mugs up, I walked along the hallway and into the front room, saying “it won’t take too long for lunch to be cooked, what do you…”
As I walked into the room, that was when I realised that this was not going to be a typical Sunday. Sally was standing there, but there was someone behind her – a woman with long auburn hair, wearing a black jumper and leggings with short boots, a mask covering her nose and mouth – and a gloved hand covering Sally’s mouth preventing her from saying too much.
Her eyes, however – her eyes spoke volumes as they darted to and fro, and then looked past me. I wondered what she as looking at – and then I found out as I felt a small pressure against my back, and heard a soft, deep voice that was strangely warming, as she said “May I suggest you put the mugs down on the coffee table, my dear – no sense in making more mass than we need to, is there?”
“Absolutely none, Madame,” the one holding Sally said – an unusual choice of names, I thought, but then I heard the second woman said “please, do this now.”
So I did that – slowly, carefully, I put the mugs down as the hand was taken away from Sally’s mouth, and the woman said “be seated, take a moment to have your drinks, while Madame and I explain what is going to happen.”
“Dee, what the hell is going on,” Sally said as she sat next to me, but what could I say – I had no idea either, so I said “I guess we’ll find out – while we drink our coffee.”
As I lifted my mug, I looked at the second woman – taller, with long auburn hair, but like the one she had seen with Sally wearing black with a mask covering her nose and mouth.
“So,” I said after I took a sip, “what is this all about?” And as I spoke, the one that had been called Madame turned on the music centre in the front room.
“And it’s a
hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
and it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall”
Dylan – how prosaic. Madame then sat down, and said quietly “it is very simple – we need use of your house for a short while, for reasons you do not need to be aware of. Regretfully, what it does mean is we need to make sure neither of you raise the alarm – so, I invite you both to finish your drink, and then we can make you both as comfortable as possible.”
Sally looked at me, I looked at Sally – and then we both began to drink from our mugs as the music played.
It was Sally who asked the question on both of our minds.
“What exactly do you mean, make us comfortable?”
The other woman looked at us, and said “we mean we are going to ensure you cannot raise the alarm, but we have no reason not to harm you – so we will make you as comfortable as possible.”
I watched as Madame reached to the side of the chair she was sitting in, and picked up a canvas bag. Opening it, she took out two lengths of rope, handing one to My Lady as Sally looked nervously at me.
“So, let us begin,” Madame said as she stood up. “Ladies, we need you to stand up, turn round, and put your hands behind your back.”
“If the rain
they run and hide their heads
they might as well be dead
if the rain comes
if the rain comes”
It is the strangest of feelings, standing there with my friend as we looked at each other, while two masked women bind your wrists together behind your back. The rope felt strange – it was thin, but they knew what they were doing, and it was tight, it held my wrists together, and as it was made tighter still Sally said the strangest thing.
“Is it wrong of me to think this actually feels – nice?”
“I don’t know,” I said quietly as I felt the knot being tied, and then glanced behind Sally’s back, the white bands around and between her own wrists as she flexed her fingers.
“We also need to secure your arms to your sides,” Madame said quietly, “I assure you, if you remain calm and do not try to struggle, and it will not hurt you.”
“We have a choice?”
“No, you do not,” My Lady said quietly as they each doubled over a long length of rope, and then stood behind us again as I saw the band of rope go around me.
It’s one of those thoughts that suddenly come to mind at times, for no obvious or indeed reasonable reason – but as I felt the ropes tighten, and my arms forced against my sides, I suddenly found myself thinking if this is how a chicken feels when the butcher dresses it.
And then I realised the chicken may not have a lot of thought on the matter, given it was dead at that point – and I laughed out loud, Sally looking at me as the rope was taken round her body again and saying “what’s so funny?”
“I’m not sure you would believe me if I told you.”
Sally just shook her head as I felt the rope get tighter and tighter. It was forming two bands, sitting above and below my chest, and I had to admit, it was indeed keeping my arms against my sides.
It was as if my late husband was holding me in his arms, and it was certainly doing the job – even more so when Madame took two other lengths of rope, and tied them around the bands between my arms and my body so that the bands tightened on me. It did feel as if I was in his safe embrace – a feeling I decided to embrace, because if I did not, then the fear may start to return…
Sally grunted, and I turned to look at her as she looked at me.
“Let the stormy
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face”
“Why don’t we take a walk upstairs,” Madame said as she picked the bag up, me walking in front of Sally – as if we had a choice in the matter, My Lady bringing up the rear. As we walked I felt the pressure on my chest – a very strange feeling, if I was being honest, as we walked up the stairs and entered my bedroom.
“Very nice,” Madame said as she looked round, “where may we leave you?”
“On the bed?” I locked at Sally, who nodded in agreement as our captor put the bag down.
“Very well then – please, both of you, sit on the bed.”
Sally walked to the other side of the bed from me as we both sat down, then turned ourselves so that our bound wrists were between our backs and the bedroom wall, and our legs stretched out in front of us.
That was when the strangest thing happened – Madame and My Lady straightened and fixed our skirts so that nothing was showing, and then asked us to bend our legs slightly. As we did so, they wound rope around our legs above our knees, gathering our skirts around them and allowing the topes of Sally’s boots to be seen.
They then bound our legs together below our knees, taking the rope between our legs as well, so that we couldn’t do more than move them from side to side. It was a strange feeling - especially as they helped us to lie down, and we watched them use more rope to bind our ankles together.
As they did that, we both heard the squeak of the rope rubbing on the leather, as we wondered what else they might do – a question that was answered when they cinched the ankles binding by tying rope between our legs, and then securing that to the ironwork at the foot of my bed.
I twisted my legs round, the sound of rope on leather and rope on metal added to by Sally twisting her legs as well, and then we looked at each other. They had said they would make sure we could not raise the alarm – and at least in terms of moving, that was true.
The question was, how were they going to keep us quiet?
A question that was answered as My Lady walked to my wardrobe, and took out two of my silk squares, folding them into pads as she walked over. Madame looked at us both, and said “we are going to put these into your mouths, and then put some tape over your lips to keep them in there. It will feel strange at first, but be assured you will get used to it. Remain calm, and breathe through your nose. Now is the time to say anything you need to say to each other.”
I looked at Sally, and said “at least I didn’t put the flan into the oven.”
“Maybe we can have it once someone finds us?”
I nodded and watched as she opened her mouth, and then My Lady put the folded black silk square into her mouth, pushing it in so that her cheeks puffed out as she closed her lips over it, and then the masked woman tore off strips of silver tape from a roll, pressing them down over her mouth.
“Open your mouth.”
I turned to look at Madame, and then opened my mouth as the red silk wad was gently, firmly pushed in. It held my tongue down as I tasted the material, and filled my mouth before I closed my own lips, and she took the roll of silver tape from My Lady. I heard the ripping sound, then felt the tug on the skin on my face as she pressed it over my lips. Rip, press. Rip, press. Rip, press.
As she finished, Sally turned her head and looked at me. Her lower face was a silver mask now, and as she tried to talk all I heard was a low mumbling, all I saw was the tape crinkling as her lips tried to move under them. I nodded as I turned onto my side as well – so that my wrists and hands weren’t pressing up into my back – and we looked at each other.
“Looks like she’s here.”
I saw Madame look out of the window, and then she turned on the bedside radio as My Lady nodded.
I watched them both walk out of the room – but not before another song started to play.
“I tell my
they mustn't show
But soon these tears
are bound to flow
Cause it's raining
Raining in My Heart”
“Shnnctchrr,” I mumbled as Sally nodded, and I tried to twist round, thinking of my husband in bed with me, his arm over me as we slept. The only other sound was our boots squeaking as we twisted round, before a great fatigue came over me…
Sun is cold and rain is hard
I know, been that way for all my time
'Til forever, on it goes
Through the circle, fast and slow
I know, it can't stop, I wonder
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
Comin' down on a sunny day”
I opened my eyes and rolled over to see four policemen come in, one of them peeling the tape from my mouth and easing the soaking wet cloth out of my mouth as he said “are you all right?”
“Yes – the women?”
“We don’t know – there’s an ambulance outside, we’ll take you both to hospital once we have you free…”
It was only later we found out what had happened next door – and how lucky we had been…