That was Then, This is Now – Cougar Time
Retiring as a teacher gives you a chance to look back on what has happened to you during your career – a career that spans over four decades. And yet, right now, it’s something that happened to me in my first job that is coming to mind.
What’s making it more real is that the situation is similar – on both times, I was alone at home when someone broke in, and needed to stop me raising the alarm.
So what happened the first time? Well…
It was 45 years ago – 1976, and I had just passed my PGCE and started to work in a primary school in Birmingham. My hair was very different then – very dark, cut in a bob, and I liked to dress in the fashion of the time. That much has not changed.
I remember the day clearly – I was house sharing at the time, and that particular day I was wearing a white blouse, with a HUGE winged collar, under a long Laura Ashley dress. It had long sleeves, and came down over my knees, the fabric printed with a grey and cream floral pattern. I was also wearing a pair of black leather boots with wedge souls and heels – very common at the time, and very fashionable, but boy did they hurt your feet…
Anyway, I was done for the day and caught the bud home, the homework I had for marking in the crochet bag over my shoulder. I got off, walked up the road to the front door of my house, and let myself in – then had to stand still as I saw the man that was standing in the hallway.
He was the same age as me, and wearing a brown leather bomber jacket over a denim shirt and jeans – and a knife which he had just used to cut through the telephone cable.
He looked at me, and said one word immediately.
He then dropped the bag he was carrying and quickly walked over, grabbing my arm as he said “I thought everyone worked late in this house!”
Well, that told me he had watched this place, and my two housemates were registrars – who were working late shifts and nights at the moment. All I could do was say something like “not all of us.”
“Damn again – sorry lady, I’ve got to tie you up and gag you while I rob the house. You going to give me any trouble?”
I looked at him and shook my head as I said “no, I won’t give you any trouble.”
“Good – go into the front room, close the curtains, and then sit down, hands on your head.”
I nodded as he pushed me in front of himself, remembering all the time the knife in his hand, as I let my bag go to the floor and walked over to the bay windows. Looking out, I shook my head and closed the curtains, then sat down on a long leather couch – part of a corner unit.
The man closed the room door and put his bag down, then drew out a coil of brown rope which he cut a light off with the knife. “Okay – hands together in front of you, palm to palm, and stay calm.”
I nodded as I watched him tying my wrists together – he kept the rope over the cuffs of my blouse and the arms of the dress, so it didn’t really rub on my skin, but it was tight – especially when he took it between my arms as well.
I then continued to watch him as he knelt down, cutting another length of the brown rope before he wrapped it round my booted ankles and forced them together. I could see the growing bands on the soft black leather, as he looked up at me and said “hopefully, your housemates will not be too long.”
“What do you want anyway,” I asked as he took the rope between my legs, making the binding even tighter, and then tied the ends off at the back of my legs.
“Money, jewels, whatever I can find,” he said as he lifted my legs up and made me turn round, stretching my legs out in front of me before he cut two more lengths of rope, using them to bind my legs together above and below my knees. The rope gathered my skirt round my legs, so I was glad in a way my modesty was preserved.
When he had done this, he cut one more length of rope off, and then wound the rest of the rope round my arms and body, forcing my arms into my sides as he made two bands that framed my chest. It felt strange, to find myself feeling more and more helpless – but I could not feel how rough the rope was, just how tight it was.
When he had tied that rope off, he moved some cushions so they were up against the arm of the couch and then gently helped me to lie down with my head resting there. Taking the length of rope, he tied it round my wrists, and then tied the other end to the band of rope above my knees, so that all I could do was wriggle from side to side.
“All right, lady,” he said as he stood up, and then took a roll of brown Elastoplast from the bag, popping the lid off and tearing a long, wide strip off, before he said “put your lips together, and don’t struggle – you might fall off there if you do.”
“All right,” I said quietly, and then nodded as he pressed the sticking plaster over my mouth, before leaving me in the room. I stayed there, hearing him moving about up the stairs, before he came back down and turned the television on. Nationwide was just finishing, so I had to do the only thing I could do – turn onto my side and watch whatever came on…
It was late when my housemate came back and found me, untied me, and then went next door to call the police. I was sore, and needed the toilet, but mainly I was just glad that time was over.
So what has brought 1976 back to my mind now? I’m 67, recently widowed and retired, and not expecting any excitement in my life, but I still like to dress in a modern way – and now I find myself in a strangely familiar situation.
I was wearing a denim jacket and skirt, with a black long sleeved top under the jacket which had a silver print of a tiger head on the front. My hair is longer now, and grey, but I still wear boots – these ones are black leather, knee length with a stiletto heel, and I also have black patterned tights on.
So why is it familiar? Because I have just come back from a tutoring session, and my daughter is working a late shift – and I have walked into the house to find a young woman standing there, wearing a brown leather bomber jacket over a denim shirt and jeans, and with a knife in her hand…
I looked at her, and said “well – what can I do for you, young lady?”
“Hand over your handbag and mobile,” she said as she looked at me, “and then walk into the front room, and close the curtains over the windows.”
I nodded as I fished my phone out of my pocket and handed it to her, as well as my handbag, and walked into the front room – but not before I noticed that the phone wore had been pulled out of the socket, as had the internet server box. So I walked in and closed the curtains, before I stood in the centre of the room, watching as he put the bag she was carrying down, and took from it some lengths of white rope.
“I want you,” she said as she looked at me, “to stand in front of me, and put your hands behind your back.”
“Are you going to tie me up,” I said quietly, and she she nodded I felt it was not prudent to argue. SO I turned round and stood with my back to her, feeling her as she took my jacket off, and then crossed my wrists before I felt the rope rubbing on my wrists as she forced them together.
IT felt soft, not rough, but she was making it tight, as I pictured her taking the rope round and between my arms, and then the tug as she tied the ends off. When she was done, there was no way I could move them apart – and that was before she passed the rope round my body under my chest, and pulled it tight.
“You’re a bit of a cougar, aren’t you,” she whispered into my ear as she wrapped the rope round me, forming two bands that framed my chest. This felt very different, as the ropes got tighter, and rubbed on me – but it was the way it forced my chest out, the silver face stretching over it, that was the most unusual.
I then glanced to my side as I felt the young lady pull the rope between my arm and body, under the lower band, and then pulled it up and back, making it even tighter on that side as she took the rope round the back of my neck, and then fed it under the bands on my other side, then pulled it tight behind me.
So there I was – upper body immobilised and I could guess what was coming next.
“Sit down,” she said as she pointed to my couch. I walked over and carefully sat myself down, trying not to groan at the way the ropes were making me feel, before she knelt down in front of me, crossing my ankles before she took more rope and started to tie them together as well.
I watched as the white band grew wider over the black leather, and then how she took the rope between my legs, the bands getting tighter before she tied it off behind my legs. “Make it easy on me and less for you to tidy up,” she said as she took more rope from the bag, “And tell me where your valuables are.”
“Well, I prefer less mess,” I said, and as she tied my legs together below my knees I told her where to look in the bedrooms. I also said I didn’t have a safe – which was also true.
When she had finished, I tried to twist my legs, but all that created was the squeaking sound of leather on leather. The young lady then took two more things out of the bag – a plain black scarf, and a wide roll of white tape.
“You’re going to gag me,” I said as she folded the scarf into a pad.
“I am – lie still, don’t struggle, and you’ll quickly get used to this, so – open your mouth.”
I nodded as I slowly opened up, feeling the silk of the scarf on my tongue as she pushed the pad into the open space, and then closing my lips over it. It felt strange, but she was the one in charge…
There was then a strange sound, like wet wallpaper coming away from a roll, as she peeled a length of the white tape from the roll and then tore it off, before she smoothed it down over my lips.
Not just my lips – it covered my jaw and the lower part of my face, round my cheeks to just below my ears, and it stuck to the contours so that it almost formed a second skin. I did try to speak, but it was only a low mumble that I heard.
She then made me lie down and roll over onto my stomach, before I felt her pull my ankles back, Looking back over my shoulder, I saw her tying my ankles to the ropes round my chest with another length, leaving me unable to stretch my legs out, before she picked up the bag and walked out of the room.
I heard her moving abut upstairs, grateful my daughter was not home yet, before she came back in and turned the television on. The One Show was just starting, and I rolled onto my side as I heard her leave the house, resigning myself to watching whatever came on…
My daughter got home about ten, and saw me. Once the shock had passed, she cut me free and called the police, while I went to the toilet, just glad it was over.
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