The Three Monkeys
See no evil...
I was woken by the sound of the curtains blowing against the glass of my bedroom windows. I have to admit that such a soft sound would not wake most people, but I am a very light sleeper.
Turning over in my bed, I switched on the bedside lamp and got out of bed, looking at myself in the mirror on my wardrobe door before I walked to the window. I smiled as I saw the way my blonde hair fell over my bare shoulders, then went over and closed the window to.
It was a cool evening, and I returned to my bed, determined to get some more sleep as I turned the light off. I had to be up early in the morning, as it was my turn to open the store, turn off the alarm, and get the display racks ready for the shoppers to look at and admire.
As I closed my eyes, there was nothing to disturb my peace, nothing to give me any cause for concern as I slowly started to drift off...
It was the creak of the board I heard first, but before I had a chance to open my eyes I felt the leather glove over my mouth, the cold metal against my forehead, and the female voice saying “Don’t move, don’t open your eyes.”
I nodded, and then felt a pressure on my eyelids as something stuck to the sides of my head. I tried to open my eyelids, but something soft was pressed against them, and I found to my horror I was unable to open them.
“what’s going on,” I said quietly as I felt the covers been pulled off me, and then my hands forced together as something stuck to my skin, and held them in place.”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” the voice said again as I felt whatever it was forcing my ankles together as well. “Right now, be quiet, or we will make sure you cannot speak at all.”
“But I don’t understand, who are you?”
“I told you to be quiet, Jennifer,” the voice said, and I suddenly realised whoever she was, she knew my name! “And I told you what would happen if you did not stop.”
I felt something pressing down on my mouth, pulling at the skin on my jaw and under my nose, and when I tried to speak all I heard was “Mmmmwhtshong.”
“Sleep, Jennifer,” the voice said, “we will talk in the morning.” I felt a soft touch on my forehead, and then someone sit on the bed. I was stunned, within ten minutes someone had somehow blinded me, gagged me and stopped me moving my hands or feet - and I had no idea why.
Well, that was not quite true - I figured it had something to do with the store, but I had no idea what. Or why they had decided to take me captive during the night.
I don’t think I slept at all during the rest of that night - but I must have, because eventually I felt my hands and ankles been released, and the voice said “Time to get up Jennifer. If you promise not to speak unless spoken to, I will take the covering from your mouth and you may eat.”
I nodded, and then gasped as the pressure was taken off my mouth. “I need to go to the toilet,” I said quickly, and I felt my arm been held as I was walked somewhere and then turned round.
“Sit down,” the voice said as I felt someone lifting my nightdress, and I sat on what I realised was the toilet, taking a moment to relieve a different kind of pressure.
I felt a wipe between my legs, and then I was walked again, been guided to go down my stairs before I was sat sown on what I realised was my couch. I could smell toast cooking, and then the voice said “Open your mouth and take a bite.”
I bit into what was a slice of granary toast with marmalade and chewed on it, swallowing before I said “Look, will you please tell me why you are doing this?”
“In good time, Jennifer - drink.” I felt a straw been placed to my lip, and I took a long drink of orange juice. For the next few minutes I alternated between toast and juice, before I felt my face been wiped and the voice said “Time to get ready for work Jennifer.”
“Look, I’ll do whatever you want, but you must take this off my eyes.”
“No, Jennifer, that is not what is going to happen,” I heard the voice say as I was walked back up the stairs, and then my nightgown was taken off me. I had to stand there, helpless, as at least two people helped me to put on a pair of panties, and then a blouse, a skirt and something tied round my neck.
“Sit down,” the voice said, and when I did so I felt something soft enclosing my foot, and the sound of a zip been pulled up as that soft something wrapped around my legs to my knees. “Now you will come with us,” the voice said, and I was made to stand again, then felt the cool outside air as I was made to sit on a funny seat, and a belt was fastened around me.
“We’re going to take you to your store,” the voice said as what was obviously a car moved off, “and then we wish to make some free purchases. Say nothing, do nothing to attract attention.” I felt a cold ring in my side, and I just nodded as we headed I presumed into town.
Eventually, the car stopped and I was helped out of the car. We walked a distance in the cool air, and then I heard a key turning in a lock.
“The alarm code, if you please Jennifer,” the voice said, and I gave her the code for the keypad, waiting as the door opened, and after a few minutes the peeping stopped. I was then walked inside, as the voice said “Thank you Jennifer - we’re going to sit you down, and I want you to offer no resistance.”
I heard a scraping sound, and then I felt my bottom chill as I was sat on what I now knew to be a metal chair in the shop. I felt my arms been pulled behind the back of the chair, and then some sort of cord rubbing on my wrists as they were forced together.
“Please,” I started to cry, “I promise I won’t stop you...”
I would have said more - but I heard the door opening and footsteps, and I wondered who had arrived for work.
Hear no evil...
I got off the bus and pulled the collar of my leather jacket up and around my neck, trying to keep the slight chill out as I walked down the high street. It was the early autumn air that was getting to me, so that even with my jacket on I could feel it.
I enjoyed working at the store, as Jennifer was not too concerned about the three of us wearing the same uniform. “So long as you are smart,” she said to me, “I don’t really care.” So today I had on a light blue slip dress over a long sleeved black top, black leggings and knee length black leather boots with a small stiletto heel.
I soon arrived at the back door to the store, and walked in, knowing Jennifer would be waiting inside. What I was not ready for was what I saw when I came in.
There was Jennifer, dressed in a candy striped blouse, with a folded black and white scarf tied round her neck and the ends to one side, a brown linen skirt and knee length brown suede boots. Only she was sitting in one of our back room chairs, her arms were over the back, and two cotton wool pads were taped over her eyes.
I also felt a strong arm gripping me, and a woman came into my view. She was dressed all in black, with a balaclava over her head that only allowed her piercing blue eyes to be seen, and she stared at me.
I looked at her, then at Jennifer, but she seemed to be getting agitated with me for some reason. She then poked at me before I saw Jennifer say “Does she have long brown hair?”
The woman turned and looked at Jennifer for a minute, who shook her head and say “She won’t hear you - Babs is deaf. You need to let her see me and let me talk to her, all right?”
The woman turned and looked at me, then pulled a second chair over and indicated she wanted me to sit down. As I did so, I watched Jennifer’s lips as she said “I’m sorry Babs - it looks as if we are going to be robbed. Look at me, and I’ll tell you what she says, all right?”
I nodded and said “All right” as I saw a second woman walk over and tie some rope around Jennifer’s arms and body, securing her to the chair back. “They broke into my house during the night,” I saw her say as I felt my own arms been pulled behind the chair back, and some sort of rope encircling my wrist as they were held together.
“The woman behind you is saying that so long as you do what they say, you’ll be all right. They won’t take this blindfold off though - can you see their faces?”
“No,” I replied as I saw a band of rope being passed over my head and around my stomach, pulling me back into the chair as I felt it tightening around me. “So they are going to rob the store?”
“I think so, yes - it’s better if we just let them do whatever they are going to do. I’m just sorry if they frightened you.”
The masked woman was now kneeling to the side of me, wrapping what I could now see was something like curtain cord around my booted ankles and pulling them together. I watched, fascinated as she wrapped the cord around and between my legs, securing my ankles together before she tied them to the front leg of my chair. I tried moving them, but they were too tightly secured.
I watched the second woman tying Jennifer’s ankles separately to the front legs, then tying her legs to the chair as well. The first woman then turned and looked at her, as she looked at me.
“No,” she finally said, “if you do that, then Babs will be totally isolated. We won’t scream or raise the alarm, but we need to be able to talk to each other for a while.”
The first woman then turned and looked at me, before nodding and going with her companion into the main part of the shop. Jennifer sighed, then said “Babs, when they go, they’re going to put tape over our mouths, so we won’t be able to talk and you won’t see my lips. Will you be able to cope with that?”
“I’ll manage,” I said as I looked at her, “so long as they don’t blindfold me like they have you. Not to be able to see would be the worst thing.”
“I don’t think they will,” she said as I watched them starting to empty the shelves of the rings and gold chains, “but we just need to so as they say. Are you uncomfortable?”
I shook my head and said “no - well, I can’t move my arms or legs, but I’m not that - what’s wrong?”
Jennifer had suddenly moved her head to the side, and I saw one of the two masked women run behind me. I had no idea at all what had caused that reaction - not at first, anyway. A few minutes later, however, she came back into my line of sight, and with a heavy sigh I saw what the problem was.
Speak no evil...
“Jennifer? Babs? Are you in the front?”
I closed the door to the alleyway and took off my coat, hanging it on the coat rack as I looked round. I was wearing for work today a brown smock top with puffed sleeves and white polka dots, a pair of tan jodhpurs and short brown boots. Well, it was cold outside...
When I didn’t hear a reply at first, it didn’t bother me that much, but then I was grabbed from behind, and before I could say anything something was stuck firmly down over my mouth. I had no idea what it was at first, but then I caught a glimpse of myself in the window, and froze.
All I could see of whoever was behind me was a pair of green eyes, and the most noticeable thing about me was the trip of white tape that covered my mouth. No matter how much I tried to move my lips or twist my jaw round, the material moved with it, and I realised later rather than sooner I had walked in on a robbery.
“Whrssjnfrndbs,” I mumbled as I felt my arms been pulled behind my back, and then some sort of cord pulling them together at my elbows. I tried to struggle, but whoever this person was too strong, as I felt my wrists being lashed together as well.
“Move,” a female - a female voice? It was a woman who was doing this? I was pushed into the shop, and would have gasped if I was able to when I saw Jennifer and Babs sitting in chairs, held tightly in place with ropes. Babs was looking at me, her eyes wide, and Jennifer - Jennifer had cotton wool pads taped over her eyes?
“I’m sorry, Wendy,” Jennifer said as she looked at Babs, “you’ve walked into a robbery. Please, do what they say.”
“She can’t answer you,” Babs said, “there’s tape over her mouth. I guess that’s what’s going to happen to us eventually.”
“Oh great,” Jennifer said as she shook her head. “Wendy, just try to relax. I know you’re probably scared out of your head, but neither of us has been harmed, and I don’t think they will so long as we do what they say.”
I nodded to Babs to show I understood, as the masked woman sat me on the floor, crossed my legs in front of me so that I was sitting in a yoga position, and started to tie my legs together over the top of my boots.
“What’s happening,” Jennifer said as she looked in my direction.
“They’re tying her legs together - Wendy’s sitting on the floor with her back to the counter. Are you going to be all right?”
I nodded - I had managed to calm down from the initial shock, and was slowing my breathing down, using the same Yoga techniques that meant I wasn’t too uncomfortable being forced to sit in the lotus position.
Nor was I too uncomfortable with my arms parallel behind my back - my real concern was for the others. Another masked woman came over and looked at me, her blue eyes almost burrowing into my soul, and then turned to look at Jennifer.
“The combination for the safe, Jennifer - now.”
I looked at both of them as Jennifer shook her head. “I’ll only do it if you promise not to hurt us.”
“If you have understood anything, Jennifer, it should be that we do not wish to hurt you. Having said which, if you refuse...”
She started to walk towards Babs, who called out “Jennifer, please...”
“All right, all right.” She gave out a sequence of numbers to the masked woman, who nodded and sent her masked friend on her way. “Thank you, Jennifer,” she said as I let out a muffled sigh of relief. “Now, enjoy this time together.”
I shifted a little, and then looked at Jennifer and Babs. “Great,” Jennifer said, “we must look like the three monkeys.”
“It must look funny,” Babs said. I think she was trying to make things easier, but I really had to work not to laugh - after all, it did look funny.
Eventually, however, the two masked women came back and looked at us. “Thank you for your cooperation,” the blue eyed one said, “but we need to go now. Time to be quiet.”
“Before you do,” Jennifer said, “can you take this blindfold off when you go? I want to be able to see the others, even if we can’t talk?”
I watched as she nodded, and then she and the other robber pressed a wide strip of the white tape over their mouths. She then pulled the tape and pads away from Jennifer’s eyes, the two of them leaving as she blinked and allowed her eyes to adjust to the light.
We sat there, looking at each other, the shelves empty, the safe open, wondering how long it would be before someone noticed the shop had not opened, and came to look, to call the police - anything.
I hoped it would not be too long - I was getting an itch and I could not scratch it...