Chrystine’s Home Visit
“Well,” Chrystine said as she sat on the seat, the mug of coffee in her hand, “I have to admit, this was not how I expected the day to go.” She looked over at her daughter April, who was sitting with her husband Tom, both of them nodding as they said “tell us about it – at least the kids have got off to sleep.”
“They don’t seem to be hurt as such,” Chrystine said as she took a drink from the mug.
“Thanks to you Mum,” April said as she ran her hand through her blonde hair, “you were amazing with them.”
“Well, you two were rather tied up with other things…”
Earlier that day
Chrystine stepped out from the railway station, a smile on her face as the cool spring sun shone down. She had planned this day with her grandchildren, Tommy and Angela, for the last week, so that their parents could take care of business in town. A trip to the cinema, and a meal out was very much in order.
The grey haired woman was wearing a flecked grey jacket and skirt, the jacket embroidered with black details and over a V-necked black sweater, the skirt coming down past her knees with a slit in the back to allow her to walk. The heels of her ruched black leather boots clicked on the flagstones as she made her way to the main road – a ten minute walk, and she would be at her daughter’s house.
As she turned down the leafy lane, she was surprised to see a black SUV pulled up on the driveway in front of the family car, but she figured it was just someone dropping to collect some designs from April, and didn’t think anything of it when she walked into the house, saying “where is everyone” as she walked into the front room – then letting her bag drop to the floor as she took in what was happening.
The family were sitting on the large couch, Tommy and Angela between Tom and April – but all four of them had their hands on their heads, and the fear was clear in their eyes as Chrystine looked at them.
A fear she realized was justified when she saw the two armed men appear behind the couch, wearing black wool balaclavas, and then heard a voice next to her say “well, it seems you were expecting someone – what’s your name?”
“Chrystine – I’m their grandmother,” she said as she saw the way the kids were looking at her. Tommy was wearing a khaki t-shirt and cargo pants, with white socks on his feet, while Angela wore a green t-shirt and jeans, her dark hair combed back while Tommy’s light brown hair was unruly.
April looked at her mother, and said “I’m sorry Mum – they came in and overpowered us a half hour ago.” She was shaking in her light blue shirt and jeans, the sleeves rolled back and the top buttons open, while Tom was wearing a cream polo shirt and jeans. “I don’t know what they want, but they have guns, and they mean business.”
“I can see that,” Chrystine said quietly, “the best thing we can all do is remain calm, and do as they say.” Looking at Tommy and Angela, she said quietly “I know you’re scared, and it’s all right to be scared, but you need to be brave for your parents and me, all right?”
“All right Gran,” Tommy said quietly as one of the man made his parents stand up. “Make sure they can’t raise the alarm,” he barked as he and a fourth intruder took April and Tom out of the room, the second man carrying a bag with him as Chrystine looked at the other two.
“What are they going to do Granny,” Angela whispered as Chrystine sat with them.
“I think,” she said quietly, “they’re going to tie us up so that we can’t move, but don’t be afraid – I’m not going to let them hurt you.” Looking at the two men, she said “look, I’ve been through this before, they haven’t – if Tommy tells you which is his bedroom, can you fetch two pairs of sports socks?”
“What for Gran,” Tommy asked quietly.
“To protect your wrists – well?”
“Fair enough – start with her,” the man said as Tommy told him which room to go to, Chrystine smiling as she said “well, he’s going to tie my wrists together behind my back now.”
“You’ve bene robbed before Granny?”
“A few times,” Chrystine said with a smile as the last man took a length of cord form a bag, making the older woman turn and put her hands behind her back as he put his gun where they all could see it. “If he shows you what is going to happen on me first, then you let them do it to you, and I promise you we’ll stay together when they go.”
“What about Mum and Dad?”
“Well, Angela, I’ll see if I can see them in a little while,” Chrystine said as the man returned with two pairs of white sports socks. “For now, I want you to use those socks to cover your hands and wrists.” She watched as they took a pair each as she felt her own wrist been forced together behind her back, the man taking the rope around and between her arms as they were secured.
“Does it hurt, Gran,” Tommy said as she winced at the last pull.
“No – it’s going to be tight, but having the socks over your wrists means they won’t get marked or be harmed.” As Chrystine said this, the other intruder took a length of cord from the bag, and said to Tommy “stand up, and turn round, then out your hands behind your back.” Angela watched as her brother did this, answering “I’m ten” when the second man asked how old she was.
“And I’m twelve – please, don’t hurt us,” Tommy said a she felt the rope through the cotton of the socks, then looked at Chrystine. “You’re right Gran – it’s tight, but it doesn’t hurt.”
“How old are you kid?”
“Twelve – why?”
“Well, you’re doing the right thing,” the man said a she tied the ropes off on Tommy’s wrists, then watched a she sat down and Angela stood up, allowing them to bind her wrists as well.
“What are you doing with my mum and dad,” Tommy said as he watched Angela having her wrist tied.
“My friends are asking them some questions, and then they’ll do the same thing to them we’re doing to you,” he answered as Angela turned and sat down.
“Look - I promised them I would go and talk to their parents, so don’t tie my legs yet,” Chrystine said, the man nodding before each of them took a second length of rope and knelt down, binding Tommy and Angela’s ankles in the same way as they had bound their wrists.
“I guess we’re going to stay here,” Angela said, actually smiling a little as the man took the rope between her legs, his fingers accidentally tickling the back of her legs. They then watched as two more lengths of rope were produced, and their legs were secured together below their knees.
“Now, you need to stay where you are – but I think they’re also going to bind your arms to your sides,” Chrystine said quietly as she saw a much loge length of rope being produced from the bag, “so I want you to watch what they do to me, all right?”
Both of the children nodded as she twisted round again, one of the armed intruders watching as the second doubled the long rope over, and then passed it round Chrystine’s arms and body, pulling it tight under her chest before he started to wind it round her upper body, above and below her chest. She smiled as she said “honestly, it will be all right – just think of it as a game we’re all going to play.”
As the ropes were tightened, she said quietly “let me watch as you do the same to them, then let me go and see my daughter and her husband. They’ll sit quietly here until I come back – please, don’t so anything else until I do that.”
“What else will they do, Granny,” Angela asked as ropes were passed round her body and then pulled tighter, forcing her arms into her sides as she looked round.
“Well, I’ll tell you when I come back, all right? For now, just sit quietly and talk to each other,” Chrystine said as the second man helped her to stand, and they walked out of the room.
“Thank you for keeping them calm,” he said as they walked up the stairs.
“They’re going to be scared enough when you gag us – which you are going to do, aren’t you?” As he nodded, Chrystine said “well, again, do me first – now, where are my family?”
“MUM! Where are the kids?”
“They’re fine – they’ve been tied up in the front room, but they’re unharmed, and I have their word they will stay that way,” Chrystine said as she saw the scene in the master bedroom. Tom was lying on his side on the bed, his wrists crossed and secured together behind his back as well as bands of rope around his chest and arms, his legs and his ankles, which were pulled back and tied to his chest. A wide strip of white tape covered his mouth, and it was obvious something has been pushed into his mouth under it. “How are you?”
“Scared – not as scared as that time when I was their age…”
“Whttwssthtth,” Tom said as he looked over.
“When April was ten, we were robbed in our house,” Chrystine said quietly, “and they left us both tied up, like you, on the bed.” She could see April already had her wrists tied behind her back, and her arms forced into her sides with bands of rope above and below her chest. “Tommy and Angela are been very brave about this, just as you were then.”
“Are you going to stay with them?”
“Given the circumstances, I said so at the start,” Chrystine said as she looked round, the clothes scattered on the floor as well as the empty jewellery boxes, the safe door open. “Do you stay safe up here, and I’ll give them a message.”
As she watched, April was forced to sit on the bed, one of the men covering her with the gun as the other crossed and secured her ankles together, and then secured her legs below her knees, the ropes pressing down on the denim.
“Just tell them to stay calm, and we’ll talk later,” April said before she opened her mouth, Chrystine watching as a folded cloth was pushed in, and then the white tape pressed down onto her chin, covering her lips so that the shape of them could be seen underneath.
“I’ll tell them that,” Chrystine said quietly a she watched her daughter been hogtied on the bed as she faced her husband, before she nodded and she was escorted back down the stairs. As she sat down, Tommy said “Are Mum and Dad all right?”
“they’re fine – they said to tell you both you are very brave, and they will talk to you soon, but the way the men have tied them, they have to stay upstairs,” she said quietly as she sat down, the children watching as one of the men crossed her ankles and started to bind them tightly together.
“That sounds funny,” Angela giggled as the ropes made Chrystine rub her boots together, the squeaking Nosie very clear.
“Yes it is – but don’t worry about that right now, I need to tell you both something,” she said as the ore was tied off, and then her skirt folded back before they started to secure her legs together below her knees. “When they have finished tying my legs, they are going to make sure we cannot call for help when they go. Now, that means they are going to put a cloth in your mouth, and then cover your lips with tape.”
“Will… Will we be able to breathe,” Tommy asked in an anxious tone.
“Yes – breathe in and out through your nose, and you’ll be fine, all right?” As they both nodded, Chrystine saw a white cloth as it was folded, and then said “watch me.” She opened her mouth and allowed him to put the folded cloth in, closing her lisp over it as both the kids heard a soft, peeling sound, and then saw the wide strip of white tape as it was pressed over their grandmother’s mouth and chin.
“Are you all right, granny?”
“Hmfhhnnkhds, bhthhshndfhnnee,” Chrystine said, both of them giggling as they heard the muffled words and saw the way her lisp moved under the tape. “Phlssphtththllfsshnnhnwhnhurrddhdn?”
“Of course we will,” the leader of the group said as he came in, Tommy allowing the man to put a cloth in his mouth and then the tape over that, Angela following suit as they looked at each other. The television was then turned on, as the leader of the group said “let’s go” and left them bound and gagged on the seats.
“Hghrrthhtthhrsphree,” Tommy said, Chrystine nodding as she said “Shhlrhthtt – thrrhndshnnhlnnhfuwhnt.” She started to watch the film with them – she knew the socks meant they would not be able to get free, even if they weren’t scared, but the ropes on her were tied too tightly as well, the knots well out of the way of her fingers.
She nodded as she looked at Tommy, the tape twisting with his lips as he tried to speak. The tape over her own mouth was certainly holding firm, making sure she could not say too much, before Angela managed to stand up and jumped over, going onto her lap as her bound legs hung over the side of the chair and then resting with her head on Chrystine’s chest.
“Whlllehhhppshmhnnschmmsshn,” she whispered, rubbing her cheek on her granddaughter’s head as her eyes slowly closed…
When Chrystine opened her eyes, she saw Tommy lying on the couch, his head on the armrest, his eyes closed as she heard him gently breathing in and out. Angela was also asleep, as she nodded and smiled under the tape, before gently kissing her forehead.
“Hello? Anyone home? I saw the door open and…”
Chrystine turned her head to see the neighbour standing there, looking at them. “Phls,” she mumbled, “chllthephllssbhtdhntwhkthmm.” The neighbour slowly nodded as she took her mobile phone out and went into the corridor, Chrystine smiling as she knew rescue was coming for them all…