Beauty and The Best – The Big House
“Hey,” Barbara said as she came into the kitchen of the flat she shared with her partner, “good day?”
“Busy one,” Tom said after he put his mug down, “I was helping a friend do a big delivery to the manor house.”
“Really? What was it?”
“Furniture mainly – the mistress of the house was doing a bit of a refit. You ever come across Alice Creed in your work?”
“No – she the matriarch of the family?”
“Yeah – used to be an assistant manager at a local bank and married to the owner of Creed Department Store.”
“So worth a bit?”
Tom nodded as he sipped his hot coffee. “Yeah – we had to put some drawers into the bedroom, and I saw a few things.” He then looked at Barbara, and said “you’ve got that look in your eye.”
“Well, we do need to pay the rent next week – can you take the day after tomorrow off?”
Alice Creed smiled as she opened the front door of the house. “There you are – come on in, I’ll put the kettle on.” She stood to one side as her daughter and her two granddaughters came into the hallway. The sixty-three-year-old had short grey-blonde hair, and was wearing a round necked peach top with long sleeves, white pants and white moccasins.
“Coffee would be wonderful,” Debra Kerr said as Alice closed the door. She was wearing a blue blouse with the sleeves rolled back to the elbows, white jeans and white shoes, while her older daughter Angel was wearing a long-sleeved crimson sweatshirt with her jeans and shoes.
“How are the studies, Angel dear?”
“Hard – we did our first stint in the hospital today for our second-year placements,” the nineteen-year-old said.
“Can I go and play in the playroom, Gran,” Bobbi Kerr asked. She was eight years old, and had on a white lace cut top with blue jeans and blue trainers.
“Of course you can – on you go,” Alice said as the young girl ran up the stairs, and the other three headed into the kitchen. “So you managed to delegate the sales for the day Debra?”
“Yeah – Alex can manage the jewellers for the day,” Debra said with a smile as she watched her mother pour coffee into three cups. “Where’s Dad?”
“In London at a conference. I hope you don’t mind, but Mo is coming round with the family as well.”
“Well, the boys can keep Bobbi company,” Debra said as they made their way into the drawing room, siting in the comfortable armchairs as Alice heard the knock on the door.
“Excuse me,” she said as she stood up and walked out, Debra and Angel watching before two more women walked in. Mo Gallagher was a former colleague of Debra at the bank, a few years younger, with the same style of short grey-blonde hair as her friend, and wearing a loose-fitting grey t-shirt and jeans. Liza Baines was her thirty-nine-year-old daughter – the vice-principal of the school Bobbi went to, she was wearing a white t-shirt, a dark knee length skirt and black shoes.
“And where are the boys Liza?”
“Gone to the playroom-I take it Bobbi is up there already?”
“She is,” Debra said with a smile as Alice brought in two more coffees. “Sit down, have some coffee – let’s talk…”
Bobbi turned her head as the door opened, and saw the three boys standing there, looking at her. Tom was ten years old, with short dark brown hair, and wearing an orange t-shirt and checked shorts. His younger brother Dick was eight, and had on a blue t-shirt and blue checked shorts. Harry, the oldest brother, was twelve4, and had on a green t-shirt and multi-coloured checked shorts.
“Hey Bobbi,” Harry said with a smile on his face, “Ready to play?”
“Well, I am glad everything is going well,” Liza said as she looked at Angel – and then they heard the knock on the door.
“I’ll go and see who it is,” Debra said as she stood up and walked out of the room. As she opened the front door, she smiled and said “can I help you?”
“I am sure you can – please, allow us to come in.”
There were two people in the doorway – a young man and a woman. The man was wearing a black jumper and pants, the woman a tight-fitting jumper with black leggings and over the knee suede boots. They both had on black woollen hats on their heads – and black eye masks covering their eyes, the dark eye shadow making their eyes seem brighter.
“Thank you,” the man said as his partner closed the door, the gun in his gloved hand pointed at Debra, “now, just do as we say, nobody gets hurt, everyone stays safe.” Putting the bag he was holding in his other and down, he said “What’s your name?”
“All right Debra – turn slowly round and put your hands behind your back.”
As she did this, the masked woman walked to the front room, opening it and saying “Good morning – please, all of you, remain seated and do not make any sudden moves.”
She looked at Angel, smiling as she said “I am serious – all we want is your money and valuables, so everyone remain calm.”
“Where’s my daughter?”
“I’m here Mum,” Debra said as Alice saw her come into the room, a tall, muscular, armed and masked man following her. Her hands were behind her back, as the man closed the door and said “I take it you are Alice Creed?”
“Is this a joke Debra,” Lisa said as she held her cup.
“No, Lisa – I don’t think this is a joke,” her mother said quietly. “I’m Mo – may we know who you are?”
“My name is Beauty,” the masked blonde said, “my partner The Best. Seriously, we have no desire to harm anyone, but we do need to make sure none of you can interfere – where are the rest of the children?”
“Upstairs,” Alice said as she looked at Mo. “So you are real robbers?”
“We are,” the Best said as he helped Debra to sit next to Angel, and then took more lengths of rope from the bag he had laid down, handing two to Beauty as she covered the women. “Please, all of you, hands behind your back.”
“But why – why rob us,” Angel said as she watched Best walk behind her grandmother, and take her hands behind her back before he started to bind her wrists together.
“Because they want money,” Mo said.
“True – but we want it because it is the way we manage to survive today. Not out of greed, but purely out of need,” Best said as he tied the ropes off, and then walked behind Mo, doing the same to her.
“Seriously – you are?”
“Angel – I’m her daughter,” she said as she looked at the others. “I’m scared though – why do you have to do this to us?”
“To make sure you are all the same,” Beauty said as she put her gun down, and then walked behind Angel, taking her hands behind her back and lashing her wrists together with the rope. “But we are not joking – we regret we have to do this, but we are desperate.”
As she tied the ropes off, she made sure Lisa had her wrists secured behind her back, before she looked at Best and said “will you be all right while I fetch the younger generation?”
“I should be,” the masked man said with a smile as Beauty took the gun and her bag, and left the room. Best smiled and said “now ladies – be vulgar for a moment, and all of you put your feet on the coffee table, ankles crossed…”
As she got to the top of the stairs, Beauty heard a young girl laugh out “no – stop it” and opened the door to see what was going on. She saw three boys in coloured t-shirts and checked shorts kneeling on the floor – but when the oldest turned his head, his eyes opened wide as he said “guys…”
All three stopped and stood up as she saw a young girl on the floor, her wrists and ankles loosely tied together with skipping ropes. She looked over at the masked woman, and said “oh my – a real robber?”
“That’s right – my name is Beauty. Like it?”
“Yeah – guess you think this looks funny…”
“Well, they didn’t exactly do a good job – you can get free, right?”
Bobbi nodded as she wriggled and freed her hands and feet, sitting up as she said “So how does a real robber do it?”
“Want me to show you on the boys?” Beauty looked at them and said “after all, all of you are going to be tied up and gagged anyway.”
“We are?” Harry was shaking slightly as he looked round the room.
“Hey – I promise it doesn’t hurt – Bobbi, can I show them what I am going to do on you?”
“Okay,” the young girl said as she stood up and put her hands behind her back, the boys watching as Beauty took some soft rope from her bag and crossed Bobbi’s wrists before she tied them firmly together.
Tom, Dick and Harry looked at each other before Dick said “No” and put his hands behind his back. The other two watched as the masked woman wrapped the rope round their brother’s wrists – and five minutes later had his wrists secured together.
“Does… Does it hurt?”
Dick shook his head as Beauty made sure that both Tom and Harry had their wrists secured together as well, before she said “now, I’m going to take you all down to be with the others – but I need to make sure you all stay quiet first.”
“How are you going to do that?”
Beauty smiled as she took a strip of white cloth from her bag, and said “guess…”
Lisa opened her eyes wide as Tom, Dick and Harry walked into the room, their hands behind their backs and white cloths pulling back the corners of their mouths as they looked at their mother. She also had her ankles tied together with rope – and a white cloth pulled between her lips, as did their grandmother.
“Boys – have you been hurt?”
“Nhhhhgrhrrnn,” they said as they looked at Mo, Debra nodding as Bobbi came over and sat with her and her big sister.
“This is the Best, boys,” Beauty said as she came in, “why don’t you sit on the floor, and then he will do to your ankles what I did to your wrists.” The boys nodded as they sat down, their eyes wide as the large, masked man smiled when he knelt down, and started to bind their ankles together.
“I know it can be a bit scary, this happening to you,” Alice said as she twisted in the chair she was sitting in, “but we are all the same, and I promise you, they seem to be keeping their word about not hurting you.”
“Whatathpphhnhhpsthrs,” Angel said as she looked at Bobbi.
“Thbhsthdmhhp – bhtbhtheeshdthm.”
Angel nodded as she looked at the boys, the scarf between her lips pulling the corners of her mouth back as she smiled.
“Now then,” Beauty said as Best stood up, “my friend is going to take Alice round the house, and then we’ll sort out some supper for all of you. We’re going to be staying for a little while, so don’t worry – if you need the toilet, grunt and one of us will take you.”
“First, however,” Best said as he took a white scarf from a bag, and cleave gagged Mo as she looked at the others.
“Whhlllnffhnlhfthsdhn,” Harry said as he looked at his brother, and then at his mother.
“Huunhtbhwhrnhn,” Lisa said as she twisted round.
“Come with me,” Best said as he helped Alice to stand up and walked her out of the room. “You seem remarkably calm?”
“Mo and I worked in a bank – it comes with the territory,” Alice replied as they walked to the office at the rear of the ground floor, “but you strike me as different. When you say you need the money to live, you mean it, don’t you?”
Best nodded as he opened the door and they walked in, before he said “sit in the chair – and tell me the combination to the safe. You may as well save on the tidying up.”
“Fair point – so how bad is it for you?”
Best looked at her and said “bad – I wonder sometimes if those who live like you understand just how difficult it is to live out there, wondering if you can afford to either eat or be warm, or both. If you did, perhaps the likes of us would not feel they have to do this.”
“Possibly,” Alice said as she nodded her head, and watched him open the safe using the combination she had given him. “I do understand – I remember dealing with people like you in the Eighties and during the banking crisis. Before your time?”
“A little – although I do remember the last thing you mentioned,” Best said as he started to load coins and other things into his bag. Alice nodded as she said “so, I cannot condone the fact you are holding us all hostage – but I do understand where you are coming from.”
“Then we can proceed on the basis,” Best said as he stood up and looked at her. “Now – let’s go through the bedrooms…”
Angel looked at the younger boys and her sister, before he looked at Beauty and said “whdhdhths?”
“Why do we do this?” Angel nodded as Beauty said “you’re a student, correct?”
“So you see people who are suffering because they cannot afford to eat properly, to warm themselves, right?”
Angel lowered her head for a moment, and then nodded as Beauty said “well, we are the same – we just decided to take a more affirmative approach to the situation. Do you need to go to the toilet?”
Bobbi looked up and nodded as Beauty untied her ankles, and said “come with me” as she stood up and escorted her out.
Angel looked at her mother as she said “Huuhhlrhttt?”
“yHsmmhhhm – bhtshrhhtthfhrshrhrthnth.”
Debra nodded as Lisa looked at her sons, saying “Hwhhruhfhrh?”
“Thank you,” Mo said as she rubbed her wrists, Beauty nodding as she place the damp white cloth in a bag. Best was now watching the others as she stood with Mo and Alice in the kitchen.
“You’re welcome – the three of us are going to prepare some food for everyone to eat, before Best and I make sure you really cannot raise the alarm before we leave.”
“Well, at least we can eat,” Alice said as she opened the refrigerator door. “We can do some chopped vegetables…”
“Let me do that – if the two of you are just going to do the rest of the prep.”
“You have our families tied up and gagged in the front room – we’re not going to do anything to cause them any harm, just as you won’t.”
“Remember when that armed gang raided our branch?”
“Yeah,” Alice said as she put the oven on, Mo taking chips and fish fingers from the freezer and placing them on the side, “This is nowhere near as frightening, so I should thank you of that.”
“No problem,” Beauty said with a smile as she peeled some carrots and then cut them into strips. “We are staying until after dark, so we’ll make sure you are all comfortable and entertained.”
“But unable to move – or talk?”
“And even more restrained than now,” Mo said as she found some baking sheets.
“Indeed – but so far, so good as they say.”
Alice shook her head as she said “you’re barely in your twenties – either of you.”
“True – but the wisdom of years is yours to share, and mine to hear.”
“And to follow?”
Beauty shook her head as she said “so long as it does not involve telling us to stop now, then yes.”
“Right – has everyone got everything they might want?”
“Yes Gran,” Angel said as she looked at Bobbi. Tom, Dick and Harry.
“We’re good, Mum,” Debra said as she sat with Lisa.
“Even if we can’t get up and walk off,” Lisa added as she looked down. They had been allowed to walk into the dining room, but when they sat down Best had made sure each of them had their ankles tightly secured together again, and then also secured their legs together below their knees.
“Good – because Mo and I are going to be like you now,” Alice said as the two older women sat down, Beauty watching as Best knelt and started to bind their ankles and legs with rope.
“This is actually exciting, Mum,” Dick said as he grabbed a fish finger.
“Harry – are you all right?”
“Yes – I was scared at first, but it wasn’t so bad,” the oldest brother said, “but we’re going to be tied up again after we eat?”
“Yes – and more tightly,” Beauty said with a smile, “so make sure you have as much to eat and drink as you can.”
Dick smiled as he said “great – can I be next to Bobbi?”
“Only if Bobbi says you can be.”
The younger girl smiled as she said “sure – he looks cute when he can’t move or talk.” Dick blushed as both his brothers elbowed him, Angel and Debra shaking their heads and smiling.
“Before I forget,” Best said as he stood up, “and my apologies I did not do this before, but if all the adults could put their jewellery and watches into this velvet bag?”
“I can’t take this ring off,” Alice said quietly.
“Fair enough – but all other items in here. Your necklace as well, Angel – no other exceptions.”
As he collected the items, Beauty said “thank you all for accepting we are here, and what we are doing.”
“I understand why – I don’t agree, but I understand why,” Lisa said.
“You’ve actually not said much all afternoon.”
“I know – I’ve been thinking about some of the parents at my school, and how lucky my boys actually are. Bobbi, you’ll bet getting a lot of questions on Monday.”
The younger girl nodded as she sipped from her glass, and looked at Dick.
“I think we’re finished,” Best said as he cleared the plates.
“I think so – so boys first. All three of you, lean forward and put your hands behind your backs.”
“Here we go again,” Tom said as the three of them did as Beauty had asked, feeling the rope son their wrists as the ropes were used to secure their wrists together. Dick and Harry then watched as Best took a longer length of rope, and wrapped it round his upper body, forcing his arms gently against his sides as he felt the bands hugging him.
“Indeed,” Lisa said quietly as she watched the masked man bind the upper bodies of her two younger sons in the same way, “you really will not be going anywhere, will you?”
“I don’t think you will either Mum,” Tom said quietly as he looked at his brothers.
“Very true,” Mo said, “so I am glad you are feeling comfortable about what is happening.”
The three boys nodded as Mo then said “oh my…”
“Put your lips together Tom.”
Tom did what Best had asked before he smoothed the white tape down over his mouth, almost sealing his lips together – and then he did the same to the other two boys, before he placed the roll of tape on the table.
“Hmfhhn,” the young boy said, Bobbi giggling as she saw his lips move under the tape and Best pulled their chairs back.
“Stand up and jump into the front room,” he said, taking the boys through as Beauty said “your turn, Bobbi – hands behind your back please and then I’ll take care of your sister at the same time.”
“Okay,” the young girl said, Debra watching as first Bobbi, and then Angel had their wrists secured behind their backs, and their arms pressed against their sides with the bands of rope. Angel sighed as the ropes were pulled tighter round her, as her mother raised an eyebrow.
“We can talk about it later – privately,” Debra said, Angel nodding before Beauty smoothed the white tape down over her mouth, and then over Bobbi’s. She helped them both to stand up as Best came back in, and collected more ropes while the girls were taken to the front room.
“They really do seem to be coping with it,” Mo said as she looked at the others.
“And we need to show them we are coping as well,” Debra said as she felt Best take her own hands behind her back, and the rope rubbing on her wrists as they were forced together.
“I’ve put the television on – they’re watching a cartoon, and Beauty will make sure Bobbi is sitting next to Dick,” Best said as he tied the ropes off, and then took a longer length of rope round her upper body.
“This is what Angel sighed, right?”
“I think so,” Debra said as the ropes formed two bands that framed her chest, “I can see what she felt. As the ropes were tied off, she said “look – thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Best said as he started to bind Lisa’s arms, and Beauty came back in. Picking up the roll of tape, she peeled a length away and held it in her gloved hands, before she said “purse your lips Debra.”
“Talk to you all later,” she said before she was tape gagged, Mo and Alice nodding as Lisa said “I may have to tell the whole school about this, and how to cope with this.”
“A life lesson for all?”
“Indeed Mum,” Lisa said as she looked at Mo – and then felt the tug on her skin as the tape was pressed down over her mouth. Best then took Mo’s hands behind her back, and Beauty Alice’s, as they both looked at their daughters.
Debra nodded as the four adult women were made to shuffle into the front room. Angel was sitting on the couch, Tom and Harry either side of her, while Bobbi and Dick were sitting on the floor in front of the couch.
Beauty and Best helped the four of them to sit down, Mo and Alice in armchairs while Debra and Lisa sat on a smaller couch, and then allowed them to settle down as Best looked out of the window.
“All quiet – be calm, enjoy the show,” he said with a smile as the program continued…
“Hey – anybody still up?”
Harvey Creed closed the front door – he could hear the television was on in the front room, but he could only hear a low mumbling. Putting his bag down, he walked into the front room as he said “what’s for sup….”
He stood, staring at the bound and gagged family as Alice turned her head, and said “Chhlthephlsssthenchthsfhrh…”
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