Olive was having a restless night. The warm summer air was coming through her open windows, but it was doing little to cool her as she tossed and turned in her bed. It seemed to her that every sound in the street below was specifically designed to keep her from dropping into a deep sleep, from the cats knocking over bottles to the leaves rustling in the trees that lined the avenue she lived in.
She opened her eyes at looked at the clock that was on the bedside table. Two in the morning – and she felt as if she was incapable of getting off to sleep once more. Throwing off the bedspread, she got out of the bed and put on a pair of slippers, as well as a dressing gown over her blue silk pyjamas. Heading down the stairs, she entered the kitchen and drew herself a glass of water. Sitting at the kitchen table, she slowly drank as she tried to calm her mind sufficiently to get to sleep when she went back upstairs.
Olive had left a window ajar in the kitchen, so she was enjoying the breeze too much to notice that the window was slightly more ajar than she had left it the previous evening. She was also so busy concentrating on not concentrating, that she failed to notice two shadows slowly making their way up the staircase.
Taking her glass, Olive went into the front room and turned the television on, with the volume turned down low. As she didn’t want to disturb her daughter sleeping upstairs, she didn’t put on the light in the room, and so failed to notice that a number of items had been removed from bookshelves and display cases and placed carefully on one side. Her one thought was to use BBC News 24 as a way to get her brain to shut down.
The two shadows crept silently to the top of the stairs and stood listening intently. Apart from the low hum of the television, there was no further sound, and they moved towards the open door of the master bedroom.
Half an hour passed, during which Olive tried to let the business news lull her into at least a state of ready to sleep. Eventually she gave it up as a bad job, and took her glass back into the kitchen. She noticed that the window was slightly more ajar than she expected, but put that down to the wind blowing outside and pushed it to. She then slowly climbed the stairs, and entered the bathroom to seek some relief.
“Mum, is that you?” a young voice called out.
“Yes, it is Diane, sorry if I woke you up. You go back to sleep now.”
Olive flushed the toilet, washed her hands and headed back to her room. Hopefully now she would be able to get fully off to sleep, please God……….
Taking her dressing gown off, she lay back down on the bed and turned over to try and get some sleep. That was when Olive noticed that some of the drawers in her dressing table were open. Wondering if she had forgotten to close them earlier, she was about to get up when two pairs of hands pushed her back into the bed and held her down firmly.
As Olive opened her mouth to scream, something was pushed in and acted as a rather effective gag. Trying to cry out, Olive could not resist as one of the pairs of hands grabbed her wrists and pulled them together above her head. They were then crossed and tied together using a long chiffon scarf, and secured to the centre of her wrought iron headboard.
“Keep quiet,” a male voice hissed in her ear as she struggled against her wrist bindings. In the meantime, the other person had taken another of Olive’s scarves and was tying her feet together at the ankles, again securing the ends of the scarf to the footrest.
“I’m going to take the gag out of your mouth – don’t scream,” the voice whispered, and Olive nodded. A gloved hand reached over and pulled out one of Olive’s stockings.
“Who else is in the house?” the voice asked.
“Mmmmm….my daughter is asleep next door. Please don’t hurt her – I’ll do whatever you ask but please don’t hurt her.”
Olive sensed rather than saw that someone had left the room, then the voice asked again “Money, jewellery, valuables – where are they?”
“In the bureau drawers and in a strongbox in the cupboard” Olive whispered back.
She then heard a muffled scream from a room nearby……….
Diane was tossing in her sleep as well. The covers had long been kicked off, and she was lying on her mattress wearing a white, short slip-style silk nightdress. She was just about asleep again when she felt a gloved hand over her mouth, and she opened her eyes suddenly in a state of panic. A shadowy figure was standing over her, and Diane wasn’t sure what was happening.
“Be very quiet and do as you’re told” a voice whispered to her. “We have your mother hostage next door, and if you scream she will be hurt. Nod if you understand.”
Diane nodded – she could now hear the sound of someone moving around in her mother’s bedroom, and she realised that they were being robbed.
“I’m going to take my hand away. When I do, turn over and put your hands behind your back – and don’t say a word unless I ask you. Do you understand?”
Diane nodded, and as the man took his hand away she turned over and put her hands behind her back.
“Where do you keep your scarves?” the voice asked, and Diane replied quietly “In the wardrobe – there’s a hanger of them.”
She heard the sounds of someone rustling in her wardrobe, and then the voice said “Put your hands together behind your back, wrists crossed.”
Diane did so, and she felt a scarf been wrapped around her wrists to tie them together. When this was done, she tried to move them apart but the silk was holding too tightly.
“Turn over onto your side,” she was told, and Diane wriggled round to face off the bed. She could make out the body of a fairly tall man, holding one of her long chiffon scarves. He then proceeded to push it under her side at the waist, and then tied it so that her wrists were secured into the small of her back.
She then felt another scarf pass around her arms, and her elbows been pulled together and secured. Diane was then rolled back over onto her stomach.
Olive watched as the man went through her valuables, putting them into a small bag and leaving the boxes scattered around. When he had finished, she saw him come close with another scarf, which he passed around her legs above the knee and used to bind them together.
Diane was also watching over her shoulder as her ankles were crossed and bound together with yet another scarf, followed by one around her legs below her knees and one above. She tried to wriggle around, but all she managed to do was ruffle the sheets she was lying on top of and watch the skirt of her slip ride up to reveal her pants. The man gently pulled the skirt back down.
“Thank you,” Diane said, and the man curtly nodded. He searched through Diane’s closets and bureau, searching for jewellery and valuables, and pocketing what he found into a jacket somewhere.
The man in Olive’s bedroom approached her with a pair of knickers and a silk Hermes scarf. “Open up,” he ordered her.
“Please, don’t, I won’t scream out and neither will my daughter – I promise, just please don’t mmmmmmm”
Olive was surprised at how quickly he pushed the knickers into her mouth. Before she could spit them back out, he had rolled the scarf into a band, tied a knot in the middle and pushed it into her mouth to hold the packing in place. He quickly passed the ends around her head, and knotted it tightly into place.
“What have you done to my mother?” Diane asked.
“We’re just making sure she can’t call out and raise the alarm – and I’m afraid I have to do the same to you. Open wide, please.”
Diane started to protest, but he stopped her by pushing one of her own bandanas into her mouth, and then using a rolled up thin scarf to hold it in place, tying the knot at the base of her hair.
Both Olive and Diane lay silently in their beds as they heard the two men creep silently down the stairs and out of the house. The night air and sounds continued to circulate round them as they strained to hear any other signs that the burglars may have come back, but no sound could be heard.
Olive began to try and call out to her daughter, pulling on the scarf holding her to the bed as shed did so, but nothing seemed to be giving and the cries were only coming as muffled sounds from the gagged mouth. She lifted her head up to see how her legs were bound, but there wasn’t enough light to see more than dark bands around her ankles and legs.
Diane was also trying to loosen herself, by rolling around and alternatively pulling at and raising her own legs. Rolling onto her back, she could see dark bands around her ankles, legs and waist, but not a lot else. She also tried calling out, but as with her mother no legible sounds were getting out from under the gag.
An hour passed with both women trying to get free, without any success. Olive lay flat on her bed, a dull throbbing beginning in her arms as they had been elevated for so long, while Diane thought about what she could do next.
As she had been struggling, Diane’s nightdress had again ridden up so that her knickers were exposed. Trying to regain her modesty, she realised that she had managed to get herself up into a seated position no the bed, and she started to realise that she may be able to move about. Swinging her legs off the bed, she gingerly put her feet down on the floor, wincing slightly as the scarf around her thighs began to cut a little into the skin. Taking a deep breath, she pushed down on her feet and managed to stand upright.
Diane looked around and caught her reflection in a mirror on her wardrobe door. Her hair was mussed and there were tear stains down her face, but the first thing she realised was that she had been bound with her longer silk scarves, and that the knots used were going to be next to impossible to undo by herself. Going to join her mother was the only way she was going to get free.
Slowly, carefully, she hopped across her bedroom floor to the open door, then down the hallway to her mother’s bedroom. Olive could hear the sound of someone coming down the hall, and tried to call out encouragement to whoever it was.
Olive looked at the doorway as Diane slowly hopped in. She saw her daughter was as securely bound and gagged as she was, while Diane in turn saw that the way her mother was bound would offer no help to her in trying to get free. She called out in desperation.
“Mm? R u al rght?”
Olive nodded, and indicated with her head for Diane to come over to the bed. Diane hopped over and sat next to her mother’s bound body.
“Wht r e gng t d?”
“Dnt knw. R u ok?”
Diane nodded, then looking at her mother’s head she saw that the knot holding the scarf across her mouth had slipped round while Olive had tried to escape earlier.
“Mm – I thnk I cn gt tht of. Cn u cm clsr?”
Diane indicated with her hands for her mother to move her head closer to her. Olive tried, but the bindings to the headboard and footrest made that difficult. Diane instead shuffled herself more onto the bed, so that her back was to her mother’s head. Looking over her shoulder, she eventually succeeded in getting her fingers under the Hermes scarf and pulling it down around Olive’s neck. Olive then used her tongue to push the sodden pair of knickers from her mouth.
“Diane, can you move around to the other side of the bed and lie down? I’ll try to get the gag off your mouth as well with my teeth.”
Diane nodded, and made her way round the bed until she was at the other side. She then pulled her legs onto the bed, and rolled over so that the back of her head was resting against her mother’s chest.
Olive moved Diane’s hair out of the way with her nose, and then used her teeth to pick away at the knot holding the thin scarf in place around Diane’s mouth. Another hour passed before she managed to loosen it enough for Diane to push the other scarf out of her mouth.
“Oh thank god – I though I was never going to be able to talk again,” Diane said.
“Let’s rest for a minute before we figure out how to get out of these bonds,” Olive said, and both she and Diane closed their eyes.
Some hours later, Olive’s husband returned home to find the back door open, and the downstairs rooms ransacked. Calling out, he bounded up the stairs and found both Olive and Diane in the main bedroom. Both women were still tightly bound, with the scarf gags around their necks and the sodden packing on the floor. Diane was resting her head on Olive’s chest.
Olive opened her eyes and screamed as she at first thought the men had returned. When she realised her mistake, she nudged against Diane, who woke and saw her father looking over both of them.
It took some time for him to untie the two women, and then call for the police to come. Descriptions of the assailants were vague, given the dim light they worked in, and the police didn’t hold out much hope for recovering anything.