The Games Player – Family Party
It’s not that often that I have the chance to play my games with a generational gap and across boys and girls, but my recent visit to a house in Buckinghamshire provided just such an opportunity for me.
The large country house was the home to Mandy Deems, a well-known and highly successful television chef, and I knew for a fact two things. One, he husband and her two sons were going to be away that day on an all-day fishing trip. Two, the families of her sons – her daughters in law and their children – were staying, so I made sure I had plenty of material available to keep them all happy playing my game.
It was about ten in the morning when I made my way from my car to the rear of the house, climbing over the wall with my rucksack on my back and walking round the back of the large grass area towards the rear entrance of the building. I was wearing a black leather jacket over a roll neck sweater, dark trousers and shoes, and leather gloves – and as I reached the back door, I pulled the stocking mask down over my head before I let myself in.
I could hear conversations from other rooms of the house, but I waited in the large country kitchen, confident that someone would come in soon – but it wasn’t Mandy herself who came in at first. It was a woman with dark hair, wearing a long sleeved white top with blue jeans, the lower half of the legs tucked into a pair of light brown felt boots with the cuff turned down at the top.
I recognised her – Tonia Deems, the wife of her younger son, so I waited a moment as she retrieved a bottle of milk from the large refrigerator and poured herself a drink, then returned the bottle – and saw me standing there as she closed the door.
An unusual reaction, I grant you, but I smiled as I said “no shouting or screaming please” and showed her the starting pistol I carried as a prop. “Is anyone else likely to come in in the next few minutes?”
“My son – once he wonders why he hasn’t got his glass of milk yet,” she said quietly.
“Good – then this is what we’re going to do,” I said quietly as I opened my rucksack and took a length of white rope out. “Please, put your hands behind your back…”
About ten minutes later, a twelve year old boy came into the kitchen, saying “have you got my milk, mum?” He had short blond hair, and was wearing a blue denim shirt and jeans with black sneakers - as well as a startled expression as I put my hand over his mouth from behind, and he saw his mother sitting in a chair, her wrists tied tightly together behind her back.
“Jack,” Tonia said quietly, “I need you to be quiet and listen to me. Gran has arranged for all of us to play a very special game today, and it’s a surprise – I had no idea about it until the man behind you told me a few minutes again.”
“Hghmmhh? Hghmmhfwht” he mumbled into my hand.
“Robbers – your grandmother has paid him to pretend to be a robber, and to pretend he is robbing the house, but as part of the game he’s going to take us all as hostages. He’s already started with me – and you’re next, but we need to be as quiet as possible so the others are just as surprised. Do you understand?”
I held Jack for a few minutes, before he slowly nodded and I let him go. “Your glass of milk is over there,” I said quietly, “sit down and rink it while I finish making sure your mother can’t move her arms, and then I am going to do the same thing to you.”
I watched as Jack sat down, while I took a longer rope from my bag and wrapped it round his mother, pulling Tonia’s arms into her sides as she said “it’s going to be an exciting game – and we can see who manages to get free first.”
“Does it hurt, Mum,” Jack said quietly after he had taken a drink.
“No – it’s tight, but it doesn’t hurt” she said, smiling as I pulled the ropes tighter, and then tied them off behind her, before I took two lengths of rope out from my rucksack and looked at Jack. “It’s your turn now – so finish your milk, and then put your hands behind your back.”
“Once he has you ready,” Tonia said as I began to tie his wrists together behind his back, “we’ll go and find Peter, get him to play as well – and then he will get the rest of the family to play.”
Jack nodded as I tied the rope between his arms and secured the ends together, and then wrapped a longer length around his upper body, forcing his arms into his sides as I formed a band round his stomach, and another one just below his shoulders. He wriggled round as I tied the ropes off, and then said “well, if you stand up, Jack can show us where his brother is.”
“Come on,” he said quietly as we walked out of the kitchen and down the corridor, and into an oak panelled room. A seven year old boy was sitting on a leather couch, wearing a red shirt and jeans with grey trainers.
“Peter,” Tonia said quietly, “how would you like to play a very special game with all of us?”
He looked up and saw his mother and brother, then me as he said “cor – is he pretending to be a robber?”
“He is – and he’s going to make sure we all stay in this room while he gets Aunt Irene, Kate and Dora, and your grandmother to join us and play as well. So, I want you to stand up while we sit down, and he’ll do to you what he has done to us.”
“Okay, Mum,” Peter said as he jumped up, standing in front of Tonia as she sat down and Jack sat next to her, and allowing me to take his hands behind his back as I produced some more rope.
Ten minutes later, he was sitting next to Jack, looking at the ropes around his ankles and legs as I secured his brother’s legs together below his knees, then moved over to Tonia and started to bind her ankles together.
“Now, where are you aunt and her family,” I asked Jack as I tied the ropes off, and started to bind his mother’s legs below her knees.
“They will be upstairs, working,” he said as he wriggled round, “will you bring them down here?”
“I may go and fetch your grandmother first, we will see,” I said with a smile, “but first I need to keep you all quiet. I will put the television on for you to watch, and for the game you must stay as you are until everybody is in the room, all right?”
“We’ll stay where you leave us,” Tonia said as I took from my bag the roll of white micropore tape, and tore a strip off.
“Right – who want to be first…”
As I got to the top of the main staircase, I could hear some talking coming from a room a little further down the corridor. As I passed by, I noticed Mandy Deems typing a t a desk, her back to me, but I went past the room and looked in the next one.
Irene Deems was sitting on the floor, her long brown hair falling over the shoulders of her red jumper. She had a wide tan leather belt round her waist, the same colour as the knee length leather boots her jeans were tucked into.
Kate Deems was eleven years old, and like all the other was wearing a pair of jeans with the legs tucked into boots – in her case black riding ones. She was also wearing a black waistcoat over a white jumper, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Bu contrast, Dora was seven, and wearing a grey sleeveless fleece over a white top, a brown suede skirt, light tights, and burgundy red cowboy boots. But all three were surprised to see me, as I closed the door and said “hello – I’m here to play a game with all of you. Aunt Tonia and her boys are playing, and now, it’s your turn.”
“A game?” Irene looked at me, and then said “it’s all right girls – I’ve heard of someone who can be hired to play these games. Do you mean you have their aunt and cousins tied up?”
“And quiet – and they want you to join in, so I need to do the same to all of you now. So will you go first, show your daughters there is nothing to be afraid of if they play this game?”
“Just watch me girls,” Irene said as she looked at me after standing up, then turned round and put her hands behind her back, saying “he will do to you what he does to me” as I wrapped the rope around and between her wrists.
“Is Granny going to play as well,” Dora said as she looked at me.
“Oh yes – once I have you with your cousins, I’ll go and get her to play as well,” I said with a smile as I tied the rope off, and then watched as the two girls stood up, walked over and turned, putting their hands behind their backs as Irene said “We’re going to see who can get free first when the man gives the word, all right?”
The two girls nodded as I tied their wrists together, then used a longer length of rope on each of them to make sure their arms were secured to their upper bodies. As I tied the rope off round Kate, she looked at me and said “How often do you do this?”
“Often – I find it pays very well,” I said as I looked at all three of them.”
“I don’t think a real robber would have tied it tighter,” Dora whispered as she twisted round. Irene looked at me, as I smiled and said “I take that as a compliment. Now, I’m going to put some of this tape over your mouth, and then I will take you to join the others – but not a word until we get to the room they are in, all right?”
All three nodded as I covered their lips with the tape, and then we walked in single file out of the room, past the office in which Mandy was working, and down the stairs.
“Hmmhgghdhnhss - uhrphlhhnhnh?”
“Lhksslhkht” Irene said to Tonia as we walked in and I helped Jack to sit on the floor, Kate sitting next to him as her mother sat next to her sister in law, and Dora pushed herself up onto the end of the couch. The boys watched as I took more ropes from my rucksack, then tied the ankles and legs of the three new arrivals.
I then put two cushions on the floor and moved both Jack and Kate so they were lying on their stomachs, banding their ankles back so that they could be secured to their chest ropes as they faced the television. The next stage was to move Dora so her head was on Irene’s lap, looking at her and smiling under the tape as I bent her legs back and tied them to her chest ropes at a ninety degree angle. Peter was soon hogtied in the same way, looking up at Tonia as his head moved on her lap.
“Now remember,” I said as I looked at all of them, after I had tied some rope from Irene’s ankles to Tonia’s, “you need to stay here and don’t move until I have brought your grandmother in. Enjoy the television.” They all nodded as the two youngest managed to roll over, and I left the room.
When I entered the office, Mandy Deems was talking to herself, before she said “done!” Standing up, she turned – and saw me standing there. Like her daughters in law, she was wearing blue jeans, her ones tucked into a pair of knee length brown leather boots. She had on a red jumper, with a long silk rectangle with a brown and red paisley pattern printed on it tied loosely round her neck.
“OH sweet lord,” she said as she saw me, “who are you?”
“The papers call me the Games Player – and right now, downstairs, your son’s families are playing a game of Robbers – and they are just waiting for you to come and join them.”
She nodded slowly before she said “and you have not hurt them?”
“No – but they are waiting for you. So, I want you to open the safe I see in that corner,” I said as I put my rucksack down, “and then I’ll get you ready to play the game as well.” I watched Mandy as she slowly nodded, and then walked over, squatting down to open the safe before she stood and ran her fingers through her white hair.
“Now,” I said quietly, “remove your scarf, fold it, and put it in your mouth.”
“All of it?!!?!”
“All of it – now.”
I watched as she slowly took the scarf off, folded it and pushed it into her mouth, her cheeks bulging out as I took the white tape from my back and covered her chin and lips with the soft material. I then guided her wrists behind her back and secured them tightly together, making sure the knot was out of reach of her fingers, before I secured her arms to her body with the longer rope, bands framing her chest as I did so.
She twisted round and watched as I emptied her safe into my rucksack, and then took her by the arm, walking her down the stairs and into the room.
“Yes she is,” I said to Dora as I sat Mandy in an armchair where she could see her family, bending down and securing her ankles together as the others wriggled round again. The main sound apart from muffled grunts was that of leather on leather, especially after I secured Mandy’s legs below her knees and she tried to twist round as well.
“The bad robber has you all hostage now,” I said with a smile, “and he’s going to make his getaway. I will wait in the kitchen, and after the next program finishes, you can try to escape – first person to join me there gets a special prize!”
With that, I left them to talk to each other, wondering who was going to get the surprise of finding an empty kitchen…