In Jay’s View
“Well, at least the swelling has almost gone?”
I nodded as I looked at myself in the mirror. The black eye was now a dull brown mark under my left eye, but for a couple of days there it had been a real shiner. At one point, I was even thinking of calling off the plans for this weekend, but now it had died down enough.
My head still hurt like blazes though – thanks to the pistol whipping I’d got. As Yvonne handed me a glass of wine and sat on the couch with me, I smiled and said “Yeah – I could have done without the excitement though.”
Yvonne smiled as I heard the kids pottering around upstairs. “You know, the look on your face when they came in was absolutely priceless. Did you know who they were?”
“Not to begin with, no – Charlie, Lisa, get to bed. Mum will be up in a minute, all right?”
“All right Dad,” Charlie shouted down, as Yvonne stood up. “You can tell me about it when I come down,” she said as she left the room, calling out “I hope you brushed your teeth,” as I rubbed the back of my head, feeling the now very much smaller bump.
I thought back to last Saturday, and the surprise I got when I answered the door at dinner time to see the four masked men standing there. They pushed me back in, saying to ‘stay cool’ as they put it. They marched me back into the room, and I almost cried when I saw the look of shock on Yvonne’s face.
Never mind Lisa – but there was nothing I could say. I didn’t even know who they were at first, but as they started talking I recognised the voices of two of the four – they were two of my newer contacts, but what did they think they were playing at?
Well, when they said they were going to hold them hostage while I did something for them, I began to realise what was going on here. They had decided to try and do a job for themselves, and of all the people in the financial worlds they could have picked, they picked me.
Now, Yvonne would not have recognised their voices – she had never accompanied me on any visits with these guys – so as far as she knew, it was a copycat gang. I decided I had to play along, and hope for the best, so I agreed to go with them if they played a game with the others.
It was a strange feeling, being on the receiving end, but as I was driven away I got a taste of what John and the others must have felt. There was no way they knew they had decided to hit their boss, but I was amused to see what might happen if I turned up. Besides, the bulk of the money would eventually come back to me.
I was also, however, genuinely worried. I act as a calming influence, and without me... Well, I admit it – when the car I was in stopped at some traffic lights, I unbuckled and jumped out of the car – stupid of them not to tie my wrists, as we usually do. I then ran as fast as I could into the Saturday night crowds, made my way to the lockup, changed and drove back to a street near my house, walking down to my house with my collar up and my balaclava rolled up as a beanie hat.
I quietly let myself in, rolled down the balaclava, put on the gloves, and listened to the girls talking to Yvonne. She then started running water, so I stood in the doorway and announced my arrival in my Jay voice.
Three things happened simultaneously. Yvonne stood upright with her back to me, and then visibly relaxed as she kept washing the dishes. The girls looked at me, and for a moment even young Cassie Craig was shocked. Finally, the other three masked men looked at me as if something horrible was going to happen.
I made some excuse at being held up, then took them into the front room for a ‘little chat.’ When I got them into a room on their own, I just said “Well?”
One of them eventually said they wanted to impress me with their initiative, so they targeted this Mark Williamson, knowing he held control of some very fat accounts, with the idea of showing me what they could do on their own.
Well, I told them how impressed I was. I believe I said something like “You blithering idiots! WE plan these things for minimum risk, and you blunder into a room with five kids. How many did you think there would be?”
“One, maybe two,” they admitted, which really got me angry. “Initiative be damned!! I don’t mind you suggesting targets, but I vet them and I approve them. Are... We.... CLEAR?”
I think they got the message, so I said “Right – let’s do this right,” and let them back in, sitting down as I talked to the girls and waited – because if they were sticking to protocol, a very important phone call was coming.
Which it did as I was talking to Yvonne and Lisa. I took the phone from my associate, heard the other guy say I had escaped, and told him I would take care of it personally. I then called my mobile phone from Yvonne’s – my phone being in the van – and persuaded myself to go back to the office where my man was waiting.
By now, Yvonne had figured out what was going on, and accepted it when I said Mark was playing the game again. She played her part beautifully as she went upstairs to sort out the bedclothes for the kids, and then I took Cassie and Lisa up.
A deliberate choice – it was obvious Cassie had recognised me and she could calm Lisa, while I was going to ask Yvonne to copy me as I tied Cassie up, and secure Lisa in the same way. I did make sure the other associate gagged her first, to make it look as if she had played as well.
I knew she would, but it did mean neither of the girls felt any hear as they were bound and gagged. Once all five were changed and taken care of, and Yvonne was secured, I took my leave, saying I had to make sure nothing else was going to go wrong.
I went back to the van, drove to the lock up, changed and made my way back to the offices, getting there just in time. The associate – now ex-associate, by the way – was angry as hell as he made me transfer a substantial amount from the company account to one of my offshore ones, and then spun me round, hitting me in the eye with his fist.
“That was for the trouble you caused,” he growled as he hit me again, and frog marched me into the street – and from then on it was a blank until I came to in the A&E, a policeman standing over me as a nurse put some stitches into the wound in my head.
I then told the policeman my family was being held hostage at home, knowing the others would have left by that point, and then was driven home in time to see Yvonne and Lisa coming down the stairs.
Yvonne came back in and sat next to me, sipping her glass of Chardonnay as she looked at the picture of the seven year old girl walking down the street, her hand in that of her mother. “She looks so cute,” she said with a smile, “It will be a real pleasure to look after her on Saturday...”
It was the strangest of feelings, watching Yvonne bind and gag Lisa not as a game, or as Mrs McPhee looking after a younger child, but as a mother making sure her daughter was safe. It gave me a new perspective on how the mothers must feel – lord knows I had a better idea of how the dad feels.
The other strange thing was how Cassie said she felt safer knowing it was Jay and not someone else, and she was glad it was me tying her up. What got to me was when she said if anyone had to tie her up like this as a robber, she was glad it was me. I had to stop myself from choking up there – it was the nicest thing anyone could ever say to me.
As Jay at any rate.
Still, looking at them, all sitting there as they watched me over their scarf gags – I had to use all my talent to smile, bid them a good night and go to face the associate.
I didn’t get much of a chance to explain things to Yvonne that day, what with the police, then John and Jennifer joining us for lunch with the twins, and Jessica, Patty’s mother. We say and watched a film they had made, and then Cassie came into the kitchen and apologised for thinking I was Jay.
I suppose that was one good thing that came out of it – I hadn’t even noticed she had become suspicious, but now she was convinced I was not the man who had held her hostage. I still think John and Jennifer are the luckiest parents in the world to have a girl like her.
Then Alexander Holderness arrived, and announced we were invited to their new house next weekend. I said Lisa and Charlie could go, but I’d have to cry off – Yvonne and I had a dinner dance that night with some important clients, and we could not get out of it, but we would call to collect them on the Sunday if John could take them up.
There were two reasons for the polite decline. The first was, somehow, they had bought Wissenden Hall, where we held the girls hostage that weekend in September, and I wasn’t quite ready to go back again.
The other reason was something Yvonne and I needed to discuss later – but that Sunday, after everyone had left and the kids had gone to bed, I had some explaining to do.
She was, to put it madly, furious, and demanded to know if I had planned it. It took a long time for me to convince her of the truth – that I had been as surprised as her. Eventually, she calmed down enough to say it had been interesting, but until I had come back in she had been genuinely concerned.
I then told her what Cassie had said. “I did wonder,” she said as she gave me a mug of coffee, “from the way she looked at you from time to time, but I’m glad she is convinced otherwise now.”
“At some cost,” I said as I rubbed my head. “At least I’ll get the money back – minus costs – but still...”
“Still, we learned we were right in how we do things – the only question is, what are you going to do about the one who let you get away?”
That was an interesting phone call – I rang him the next night, and said he should have kept Mister Williamson secured, so he was off the team. He took it well, and I referred him to some contacts looking for good muscle.
Now we were looking at the young girl, her glasses framing her eyes.
“That’s Violet, she’s the youngest at seven,” I said as I showed her two more photographs. “Rose is ten and Hyacinth eleven.”
“They like flowers, then,” Yvonne said as she sipped her drink. “The oldest has her dad’s hair and eyes rather than their mum’s right?”
“That’s right,” I said as I showed her a family photo. She looked at it, and then said “So what’s the plan?”
“Well, I’m afraid this is going to be an afternoon start, so I’m glad the kids are leaving at lunchtime. We’ll head to the lockup from here.”
“And the others?”
“None of the ones who were here on Saturday,” I said with a smile. “So, let’s have a drink, and then we can sort out how surprised Keith is going to be.”
Keith Deans, the president of Deans Holdings, lives in a lovely detached house in a quiet street in the north west of London. This particular Saturday I knew he was at a meeting in London, but was due home by six that night. What he did not know was he was going to be working late.
But first, we had to make sure he would do as he was told, which is why at one pm that afternoon Yvonne and I were waiting in the van in the back of a lorry back just outside the M25. Lisa and Charlie were going to have lunch with the Craigs before they went to their night away, so we had gone to collect our things, changed, and were now waiting for the others.
They arrived on time, and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. Yvonne was in Mrs McPhee mode as they greeted her, and I drove the short distance to the house.
Many of the houses on that road were gated, but not that of Keith, and I had free access to drive the van right up to the door, and allow the others to get out without attracting too much attention. Walking up to the door, I nodded to the others, turned the handle and walked in, the others following with the bags as I closed the door behind us.
I could hear music coming from some of the rooms, so I walked forward a little and looked into the front room. There was young Violet, wearing a blue denim jacket over some sort of grey granddad collar shirt, pink jeans, and black ankle boots. She was reading a book, her blue rimmed glasses perched on her nose.
I motioned for the other three to head upstairs and look for the others, as Mrs McPhee and I walked quietly into the front room. Violet did not hear us until Mrs McPhee said “Hello.”
She looked up to see us, in our boiler suits, balaclavas and gloves, looking down at her. Before she had a chance to scream. Mrs McPhee sat next to her, her gloved hand over Violet’s mouth as she put her other arm round her.
“Let’s not cry out,” she said quietly, “My friend here is going to go and find your mum. Is she in the kitchen?”
Violet nodded as I went to the door, and walked down the corridor. Looking in the kitchen, I could see her mother putting shopping away. She was wearing a red jumper with a large white scarf round her neck, a knee length white denim skirt, and brown knee length leather boots. She was about to close a door when she – and I – heard another of the daughters scream “MUM!!!!!”
She whirled round to see me standing there, smiling as I pointed my gun at her. “Good afternoon, Clara,” I said with a smile, “Please, do not worry – my friends have just found one of your daughters. Now, be sensible, and come with me into the front room, and then we can talk.”
“The front... VIOLET!”
“Please, Clara,” I said as I took her arm, “Come with me.” I walked her into the front room, where Violet said “Mmmmweshthppnggn” through the gloved hand of Mrs McPhee.
“Please,” I said as Clara looked at her youngest daughter, “Close the curtains. Your other daughters will...”
I was interrupted by one of my associates walking the middle daughter, Rose, into the room. She had on a black roll necked sweater, jeans and knee length black leather boots, but right now she had her wrists taped together behind her back, and a length of white tape covering her mouth.
“Oh god, it’s a robbery, isn’t it,” Clara said as she saw her third daughter coming in. Hyacinth is eleven, but unlike the dark hair of Violet and Rose she had frizzed blonde hair. She had on a white t-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, but her eyes were looking round wildly as she was pushed into the seat next to Rose. Her bound wrists and taped mouth told their own story.
“Don’t be afraid,” Mrs McPhee said in her soft Scottish accent to Violet, “We’re not going to hurt you, but we have to make sure you cannot move or speak unless we let you, all right?”
Violet nodded as Mrs McPhee took her hand away, and said “Give me your wrists, Violet. I promise you it will not hurt.”
“All right,” Violet said as she held her hands out, watching as Mrs McPhee took a roll of white tape and secured her wrists together in front of her, while I guided Clara’s wrists behind her back and taped them to each other.
“Now, just breath through your nose and you’ll be fine,” Mrs McPhee said as she pressed a length of tape over Violet’s mouth, while I did the same for her mother. Sitting her in an armchair, I said “Check we’re alone,” before smiling and looking at the four of them.
“Hello – I’m Jay Edwards, and we’re going to be staying a while. Just behave, and we’ll all have a fun time...”
Clara looked over at her daughters, and mumbled through the tape covering her lips “Rullrrt?” They all nodded back as they turned to look at me.
“Now,” I said as I looked at them, “Here’s the situation. So long as you all do as I, or Mrs McPhee here ask you, then we’ll try and make this a less frightening experience. We need to have a conversation with Mister Deans when he comes back tonight, and then after dinner we will be taking him on a trip to take care of a little business for us. Until he comes in, however, we will look after you and make sure you come to no harm. Do you all understand?”
The four of them slowly nodded, as I smiled and said “Good – now, I regret to say that we need to make sure you cannot move from where you are for a little while. Mrs McPhee?”
I watched as she knelt down and looked at Violet. “What we’re going to do is tie your ankles and legs together – why don’t you watch while Jay does it to your mother first, all of you?”
The three girls turned and watched as I took some rope, knelt in front of Clara and crossed her ankles, winding the rope around them and pulling them together as I made four passes round her ankles and two between her legs. I could see Rose squirming slightly at the sound of the cords rubbing against her leather boots, so I said “It sounds worse than it is,” before tying the rope off, and then securing her legs together, below her knees and above the top of her boots.
Once I was finished, I looked at Clara and said “Not too uncomfortable, is it?”
She tried to move her legs around, then looked at me and shook her head from side to side. “Now,” I said as I looked at the other three, “Mrs McPhee and my two friends are going to do the same to all of you. Please, stay still for the moment and allow them to do their work.”
“I’m not going to cross your ankles,” Mrs McPhee said to Violet as she looked at her, “so long as you promise to stay where you are.” She nodded and watched as Mrs McPhee slipped her boots off, and tied her white sock covered ankles together, before she secured her legs below her knees.
“Whtrugngtdts,” Hyacinth said as she twisted her bound legs around.
“Actually,” I said quietly, “I thought you might like to watch a DVD for a little while, and then we can make sure you all have a drink. Perhaps you can select a suitable film, Mrs McPhee?”
“Where do you keep them,” she said as she looked at Clara, who was staring incredulously at us. Eventually, however, she indicated a small cabinet to her right with her head, to which Mrs McPhee want and looked through a collection.
“Let’s watch this one,” she said as she brought a copy of Hairspray back. I raised an eyebrow, before she said “The musical, not the original, ye daft ninny” and put the disc into the player.
As they watched, I looked at them and thought once more at the way they were taking the situation. I could see Clara and Hyacinth trying to twists their wrists free, so I looked at them and shook my head. They soon got the message.
Rose was unsure of what was going on, but as she looked at Violet she relaxed and nodded to show she understood what was going on. For some time, the only noise was the rubbing of leather as they watched some of the film.
As the scene where Tracy hears of the plans for “Negro night,” I said to Mrs McPhee “This would be a good moment to fetch some drinks.” She nodded and left Violet, who looked at me and said “Cnnebwffmmme?”
“Of course,” I said as I picked her up and sat her on her mother’s lap, her taped wrists taped on her lap as she cuddled in with Clara. Mrs McPhee soon returned with four glasses of water, and four straws. “You first,” I think,” she said as she sat next to Rose, and slowly peeled the tape away from her mouth.
“Thank you,” she whispered as she took the straw between her lips and started to drink the cold water. Nodding to one of my associates, she watched as he removed the tape from Hyacinth’s mouth, and the allowed her to have a drink of water.
“We’ll give you and your mother a drink in a minute, Violet,” I said as I saw her turn her head to look at her sisters. She nodded and waited, Clara rubbing her cheek on the girl’s hair as the other two finished their water.
“Now,” Mrs McPhee said as she stroked the hair away from Hyacinth’s face, “if you and your sister promise to sit quietly, we won’t put the tape back over your mouths for the moment. All right?”
Hyacinth looked at Rose, who nodded, her pigtail bobbing up and down as she did so. “We promise,” she then replied, watching Mrs McPhee and myself as we ungagged Clara and Violet, and allowed them both to have a drink.
“Thank you,” Clara said as she had a drink of water. “How are you coping, Violet,” she then said as she looked at her daughter.
“I’m scared, but not as scared as I was,” the little girl said. “They’re not going to hurt us, are they?”
“We’re not going to hurt you,” Mrs McPhee said quietly, “and it’s all right to be scared. I know how scary it can be to have strangers coming into your house and making you do things you don’t want to. I promise you, however, if you behave it will be all right.”
Violet looked at us, and then said “What are you going to ask Daddy to do?”
“To help us, that’s all,” I said as I looked at Clara. I then glanced at the clock, and saw it was three thirty. “Now, why don’t we watch the rest of the film,” I said as I sat with Rose and Hyacinth, while Mrs McPhee went with one of my associates to the upstairs room. Another sat opposite us, while the third was upstairs, keeping watch discretely from an upstairs window.
Eventually, the film finished, and we allowed them to watch a short cartoon on the television. As it ended, I said “Now, we need to make some arrangements for when your father returns. I’m afraid we will need to restrain you all a little more – except for you Clara.”
“Me – why?”
“You need to start cooking dinner,” I said with a smile, as I took a pair of scissors and cut the tape away from Violet’s wrists. “I’m going to use this,” I said as I showed her a length of rope, “to tie your wrists together in front of you, and then down to your knees, then I want you to sit with your sisters. All right?”
She nodded, watching as I crossed her wrists and tied them together, then secured the ends of the rope between her legs. I then lifted her up and placed her on the settee, next to Rose.
“Now, as for you two,” I said quietly, “Sit forward and lean down.” As they did so, my two associates cut their wrists free, before immediately binding them together with rope. As they straightened up, then bound their arms to their bodies across their stomachs, making sure it went in the double figure of eight pattern.
As they did this, Mrs McPhee released Clara, and helped her to stand up. “I’ll give you a hand in the kitchen,” she said as she took her arm and walked he rout, while I looked in the bag and took out three bandanas. I rolled them into bands and tied knots in the middle of them, before I said “Now, I am afraid we need to keep the three of you quiet – open wide now.”
“Will it hurt,” Hyacinth said as she looked at the cotton band.
“No – it just feels funny for a while,” I said as I stood in front of her, “Oldest first.”
Hyacinth nodded and then opened her mouth, allowing me to ease the knot past her teeth, and then tie the band tightly round her neck, the other two watching. Rose was next, scowling at me still before she allowed me to tie the gag in, and then Violet.
“What happens when Daddy comes home,” she said as I held the scarf in front of her mouth, “Will you be kind to him as well?”
“I promise,” I said as I gagged her, listening as she said “Fnku” and then sat back. I sat and watched them, listening to the muted conversation from the kitchen between their mother and Mrs McPhee.
It sounded like the usual questions – “how could you do something like this? Why have you hooked up with this man? Don’t you feel any remorse?” I’m sure after our experience she did – after all, I did – but we have an act to maintain, an image to project.
After a while, my mobile phone started ringing. “Excuse me one moment,” I said to the girls as they looked at me, and answered the call, saying “This is Jay.
“Right, thank you,” I said as I looked at the clock, which was showing a time of five thirty. “Watch them for a moment,” I said as I went into the kitchen, and saw Mrs McPhee helping Clara to sort some plates out.
“Your husband is on his way home,” I said as I sat down, “and when he does arrive, I want you to say nothing. Allow him to come in as if everything was all right, and let him see for himself what has happened.”
Clara nodded, before saying “Are you going to be eating with us?”
“No, but thank you for the offer.” As I spoke, the other two associates came in. “They will help you with the rest of the preparations. Mrs McPhee, would you accompany me please?”
“Of course,” she said as she left the kitchen with me, and walked into the front room.
As the clock reached six, we heard a car pull up in the driveway, the door opening and closing as the three girls looked to the door. There was the sound of the front door opening, a case being put on the floor, and a call of “Hi everyone – what sort of a day have you had?”
Mrs McPhee put a finger to her lips as she looked at Violet, Rose and Hyacinth, while I stood behind the door to the room, waiting for it to open. As it did, and Keith Deans walked in, he saw the girls sitting in a row, their eyes wide over their gagged mouths, and said “What the...”
“Good evening Keith,” I said as I took his arm and walked him in, “As you can see, we have your daughters hostage, and in a moment I’ll take you in to see your wife. All you need to know right now is this – do exactly what we tell you, and they will be fine. I am sure you understand what I am saying?”
“Are you all right girls,” he said as he looked at the trio, watching them as they slowly nodded. “Mrs McPhee,” I said, “Kindly stay with the girls, and if they promise to be quiet you may now remove the gags. Keith, come with me please.”
I walked him into the kitchen, where Clara ran into his arms, they two of them embracing in a very touching reunion. “Thank God,” she said as she looked at him, “They’ve held us hostage all afternoon, waiting for you to get back.”
“Have they hurt you,” Keith said as he held his wife’s head and looked at her.
“We’ve been tied up and gagged, but that’s all. They’ve treated us very well, all things considered...”
“And who are they?” he then said as he looked at me.
“Forgive me – my name is Jay Edwards.”
Keith looked again at me, and then sat down in shock. “Right,” he finally said, “I’ve heard of you, and I know what you’re going to say.”
“Really? That would be a refreshing change, because normally I say what we’re going to so later. Right now, you need to help your wife to put the dinner on the table – and remember, your daughters are in the next room, so no funny tricks.”
He nodded before standing up, and helping Clara with the final preparations for dinner. “Go,” I said to my associates, “and help Mrs McPhee to bring the girls in to sit at the table. Make sure they are secure when you do so.”
He nodded and went off, while I stayed to watch the parents as they talked quietly to each other, Keith reassuring Clara that everything would be all right...
“Have you all had enough?”
“Yes, thank you Mum,” Violet said as she passed her dinner plate down. All of them had been tied to the chairs, with ropes holding their stomachs to the chair back. While the girls still had their legs tied together, Keith and Clara had their legs tied to the front legs of the chair. All of them, however, had their arms free to eat as they talked at the table, like a normal family. Mrs McPhee and I took the dirty plates and sat them by the sink, before I looked at all of them.
“Clara,” I finally said, “We’re going to untie you to allow you to wash the dinner dishes.” Mrs McPhee did the honours, helping their mother to stand up while I looked at the girls.
“Now,” I said to them, “We’re going to tie your wrists together again in front of you, and then you will be helped to go back into the front room. Do you have a favourite board game?”
“We like to play Monopoly,” Rose said as she looked at me.
“That sounds good – tell me friend where the game is kept, and you can start to play a game amongst yourselves. Mrs McPhee will play with you.”
I watched as she tied their wrist together, hands palm to palm, and then untied them from the chair before they were carried back through to the front room.
“They’ll be perfectly safe with her,” I said as Clara looked at me, nodding before she went back to the dishes. “Now, Keith, you are doubtless wondering what is going to happen next?”
“What makes you think that,” he said in an attempt to be funny – it didn’t work.
“In a little while, you’re going to take a trip with one of my associates to your office, and there you will transact some business for me. Once that business is conducted, then you will remain there until we tell you it is safe to go home.”
“And Clara and the girls?”
“Will remain safe in our care until that time, but make no mistake – any attempt to try to escape, or do anything we do not tell you to, and...”
I looked at Clara, who was standing nervously, a plate in her hand as she whispered “No...”
“All right,” Keith finally said, “I’ll do whatever you want, just don’t hurt my family.”
“Sensible choice – now” I said as I released him, “Help your wife – she looks as if she could use the support.”
When he was able to, Keith slowly stood up, walked over and hugged Clara from behind, whispering “It will be all right,” as he kissed her. It was a touching moment, as I turned to my other associate.
“Watch them,” I said as I slipped out and found the third person waiting.
“You leave in an hour,” I said quietly, “When you get him to his office, you know what to do?”
He nodded, and then said “And when he has completed the task?”
“Secure him, silence him, but do not harm him. I want no repeats of last time.” He nodded as I came into the front room, and sat next to Hyacinth, saying “So who’s got the most properties so far....”
At precisely eight thirty, I went back into the kitchen and said “It’s time – hands behind your back Keith.”
As my associate crossed and tightly bound his wrists together, I said to Clara “Please put your hands together in front of you.” As she did so, my other associate bound her wrists together, and then took her through to the front room.
“So what do you expect me to do,” Keith said as he was made to stand up.
“Exactly what my colleague here tells you to do – and remember, I am a phone call away,” I said as he was led to the front room.
“I need to go out for a little while,” Keith said to his family as they sat there, “Do what they tell you, and I’ll see you all later.”
“Good luck, Dad,” Hyacinth said, Keith nodding as he was led out to his car. As we heard it driving away, Rose said “Damn – Mayfair with a hotel. I’m out of the game.”
“Such a pity,” I said as I looked at her. “Mrs McPhee, would you untie her legs please?”
“Why,” Clara said as Rose stretched her now free legs out.
“Because my good friend Mrs McPhee is going to take Rose to change for bed,” I said with a smile. “Now, whose turn is it?”
The game progressed for a little while, before Mrs McPhee brought Rose back in. She had indeed changed into a green round necked top and a pair of light blue pyjama bottoms, with a green and blue tartan-like print on them.
She also had her hands covered in a pair of white sports socks, and it was obvious that her hands were held in fists under them. The tops of the socks were taped to her bare arm with a strip of white tape.
“Have a seat, Rose,” I said as she sat between Clara and Hyacinth, while Violet said “I’m out.”
“Come with me,” Mrs McPhee said as she untied the young girl’s legs, “and you can get ready for bed as well.”
“What did you do to Rose’s hands,” Violet said as she stood up.
“I’ll show you upstairs,” Mrs McPhee said as they went up the stairs. “What are you going to do to us,” Clara said once they were out of earshot.
“We need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm later, so with regret, we need to tie you all up and gag you in your beds. I promise you, it will not hurt too much, but you will be secure.”
“So that’s why she did this to my hands,” Rose said as she held her sock covered hands up, “to stop my using them?”
“And it will also protect your wrists as you will see,” I said with a smile as I started to put the game away. “When Violet comes down, you will go and change Hyacinth, and then your mother will go last. She can then give you all a bedtime drink, before we make you comfortable for the night.”
Clara looked at me, and the two others standing in the room, before saying “All right – but I want to see they are safe first.”
“Of course,” I said as I heard a toilet flushing, “that was my intention all along.”
A few minutes later Violet returned with Mrs McPhee, sitting down as she took Hyacinth upstairs after I untied her legs. The young girl was wearing a pale blue t-shirt over a pair of red checked pants, but her hands were already covered in a pair of white sports socks.
“It feels quite nice,” she said as she showed her mother her hands, “and it doesn’t hurt.”
We waited a few minutes for Hyacinth to return, wearing a pink t-shirt and a pair of candy striped shorts, before I escorted Clara up the stairs, waiting as she took care of herself in the bathroom before taking her back to her bedroom. She sat on the boot, finally removing the boots and saying “Do you have to watch?”
“Yes I do but don’t worry – I meant it when I said you would be safe,” I said as she stripped out of her clothes, and then took from a drawer a purple short sleeved nightdress, slipping it over herself before she said “I suppose you’re going to make my hands useless now as well?”
“Why would I? You need to prepare supper,” I said as I looked in a drawer, and took out a pair of white sports socks. “Let’s go to the kitchen and make some cocoa for them.”
As we carried the tray of mugs and cookies in, Mrs McPhee picked a mug up and held it for Violet to drink from, while the other two helped Rose and Hyacinth to have their supper. Clara sat down and held the cup in her own hands, watching them as they ate and drank.
“I suppose,” she finally said as she looked at me, “I should be grateful. You kept your word and did not harm us.”
“I have some honour,” I said with a smile as the girls nibbled on the biscuits. Eventually, we placed the cups on the tray as I looked at the clock.
“Well,” I said as I looked at them, “Time for bed, but we need to do something first.” I went to one of the duffel bags, took out two sponge balls and a roll of white tape, and said to Clara “Make a fist with your hands holding these.” As she did so, I covered her hands in the white tape, before pulling the sports socks over them and taping them to her arms at the top.
“See Mum,” Violet said as she waved her hands round, “I told you it wasn’t that bad.”
“And you were right,” Clara said as I picked up four lengths of cord. “Now, we need to start to secure you.” I handed one to Mrs McPhee, who said to Violet “Cross your hands in front of you, dear.”
Violet watched as her wrist were tied together in front of her, over her socks, and then tied to her belly with a length of rope around her stomach, while the other three had their wrists crossed and secured behind their backs, then rope tied around their waist to fix them against the small of their back.
“Now,” I said with a smile, “Let’s go up the stairs to your bedrooms – Mrs McPhee, if you will lead the way, we will start with Violet.”
“Shall we,” she said as we formed a line and walked up the staircase, Mrs McPhee behind Violet, one each of my associates behind Rose and Hyacinth, and finally with me behind Clara, carrying a duffle bag with me. As we entered Violet’s room, I said “Please stand against the wall,” I said as Mrs McPhee walked Violet over to her bed.
“Now,” she said as she looked at Violet, “we need to make sure you stay in your bed for the night. I’m going to start by tying your arms to your tummy, as we did earlier to Rose and Hyacinth, all right?”
“Thanks,” Violet said as she looked at me, “I wondered why you did not do that to me earlier?”
“No need,” I said as Mrs McPhee tied her arms to her body with the double figure of eight tie. “But now, it is going to be necessary. Now, lie down and get comfortable.”
“Thanks,” Violet said as she lay on her back and wriggled down, her head resting on her pillows as she watched Mrs McPhee tie her ankles tightly together, side by side, taking the rope between her legs as well to tighten them, and then her legs below her knees.
“All right,” Mrs McPhee smiled as she looked at Violet, who nodded as she looked at Clara and her sisters. “Do I need to be kept quiet as well?”
“I’m afraid so – you remember when you had the knotted scarf in your mouth?”
Violet nodded as Mrs McPhee folded a handkerchief up. “Well, this is like that – I’m going to put this in your mouth, and then smooth some of the tape we used earlier over your mouth. Then I’m going to stay and read to you while Jay and the others look after your sisters and mother. All right?”
“Can I have a bedtime kiss before they go? I’d like a hug but...”
“I understand,” I said as I looked at Clara, who walked forward and kissed Violet on the forehead. “Ready,” the young girl then said, as she opened her mouth and allowed Mrs McPhee to put the handkerchief in, then tape over her mouth.
“Now,” she said as she stood up and walked to a bookcase, “How about The Gruffalo?” Violet nodded and waved with her covered hand as we took the other three out, and I said “Your room next, Rose.”
As we entered her room, I handed one of my associates several lengths of rope, and said to Rose “Stand still and let my friend here secure you.”
Clara watched as Rose had her lower arms tied to her sides with the same style as she had seen on Violet, and then a length of rope tied around her arms and shoulders, tightening it with two short lengths under her arms.
I nodded and handed him a third length, which he then used to tie her arms under her chest. “Why?” Clara said as she stared at me.
“Added security,” I said as I removed a cloth from the bag, and folded it up. “Now, Rose, we need to make sure you stay quiet. Please, open your mouth as wide as you can.”
Rose looked at her sister and mother, then allowed him to push the cloth in, her cheeks bulging a little as he took a length of towelling, tied a knot in the middle and then pulled that into her mouth, tying the band around her head and securing it under her hairline.
“Oh God,” Hyacinth whispered as he then wrapped white tape around her head, “we are really going to be unable to speak, aren’t we?”
“Regretfully, yes,” I said as Rose was helped to lie on her bed, watching as her ankles and legs were secured. “You will find it easier to lie on your side,” I then said watching as Rose turned onto her side and then secured her ankles to the bottom of the bed with one more length of rope.
“Watch her,” I said to the associate, who nodded as we escorted Hyacinth and Clara to the young girl’s room.
I watched with Clara as Hyacinth was bound in the same way as her sister, noting with a little amusement the way she reacted to the extra band of rope under her chest. It reminded me of the confused look on Suzie and Cassie, never mind that on Lisa the first few times...
As my man secured her ankles to the foot of the bed, I took Clara by the arm and said “Your turn,” escorting her to her bedroom.
As we walked in, I left the door open so that she could heat the three girls, and then said “Please, stand where you are.” Laying the bag on the floor, I took out a hank of rope, shook it out, doubled it over and passed it around her arms and body, pulling them into her side before I started to pass it above and below her chest.
“How can you do it?”
“I beg your pardon,” I said as I pulled her arms tighter into her body with each pass, then tied the rope off at her back, and passed it under one arm.
“How can you do this – hold families hostage while you force someone to steal for you? Do you have a family?”
“I decline to answer the question,” I said as I passed the rope over one shoulder, and around the back of her neck, before taking it down over the other shoulder. “But let me ask you a question, Clara. Suppose another gang had broken in, using guns and other methods to intimidate you, either benign and gagging all four of you all the time, or even worse taking the girls away and leaving you to explain to your husband what was happening – how would you have felt about that?”
Tying the rope off, I turned her round and helped her to sit down, before looking into her eyes as she thought over what I had said. “When you put it that way,” she finally said as she looked back at me, “then yes, this has been better, and you have treated us well, but it still does not explain why you actually do it.”
“A question for you to discuss with Keith when he returns,” I said as I knelt down, crossed her ankles and tied them tightly together, before I lifted the skirt of her nightdress up and tied her legs tightly together, below her knees. Replacing the skirt, I stood up and said “Time to keep you quiet. Mrs McPhee will be keeping an eye on the girls, and will let you know when they are asleep.”
As if on cue, Mrs McPhee appeared at the door and said “Violet is asleep now – I’ll go and relieve the guard with Rose.”
“Thank you,” I said as I took a washcloth out and folded it. “And now, Clara, please open as wide as you can.”
“All right,” she said as she opened her mouth, allowing me to push the cloth in and then tie a knotted length of towel between her lips to keep the cloth in place. “Fnku,” she then said as I tore the end of the white tape free from the roll, pressed it gently to the side of her face and then wound it tightly round, her lips visible underneath as I passed it round four times, and then tore the tape off, smoothing it down over her trapped hair.
“Allow me,” I said as I helped her to lie on her side, before pulling her ankles back and securing them to her chest ropes with one final length of rope. As I walked round, my other associate came back in, so I said “Guard her,” and went back downstairs, looking in at Mrs McPhee as she stroked the head of Rose and spoke to her.
Sitting down in the front room, I turned the television on and watched the news, the volume turned down. Clara had asked an interesting question, especially given my recent experiences, but as I sat down and thought it over I realised I still had the right approach.
If I was going to do this, then we had to be as kind as we could be to the families – make it more of an adventure than a scary experience. I sat back and looked round at the family photos, and hoped that this experience would make them a closer family as well.
I could hear the talking upstairs, and wondered what the girls would be dreaming of. Scary men and women who threatened them, or dreams of being wrapped in blankets and carried away, as Lisa once told me she had?
The buzzing on my mobile phone interrupted my thoughts as I took it out, looked at the caller ID and answered it.
“This is Jay.
“Excellent – and we have confirmation of collection in San Francisco?
“Good good – what about Mister Keith Deans?
“Right – move out with our thanks. You will receive our fee in the usual manner. Job well done.”
As I ended the call, I relaxed a little bit and looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. One am in the morning on Sunday – 5 pm in San Francisco, where my contact will even now be taking care of the transfer of the funds so generously donated by Keith’s bank.
Standing up, I climbed the staircase to look in on the girls. Violet was on her back, her gagged mouth visible over the duvet that Mrs McPhee had put over her, her chest rising and falling easily.
Coming out of her room, I saw the other two men talking quietly in the hallway. “Job done,” I whispered, “Go downstairs and tidy up.”
I walked down the corridor and looked in on Clara, who was fast asleep, her head on two pillows as she mumbled through the tape and cloth. I then looked in on Hyacinth, who was lying on her stomach on the bed, her head to one side. I brushed the hair away from her eyes, and then covered her over with a blanket.
Finally I looked in on Rose, as Mrs McPhee covered her with a duvet, her eyes closed as she mumbled slightly. “She just needed to be calmed down,” Mrs McPhee whispered as we left the room, and walked downstairs.
“All cleared,” I said as my two colleagues brought a second duffel bag out and nodded. “Right,” I said as I turned off the lights, and opened the front door, “Let’s go. We’ll drive you back to the rendezvous, with grateful thanks.”
It was nearly four by the time we got back to the house, and I opened the front door. Walking into the kitchen, Yvonne went to put the kettle on while I sorted out two coffee mugs.
“It’s too late to go to sleep now,” Yvonne said as she found some milk, “and besides, I’m still pumped up with adrenaline.”
“I know what you mean,” I said as I took a mug of coffee. “That was a really busy night.”
“Did you think of me and Lisa?”
I nodded before taking a sip from my mug. “I could not help it – you?”
“Sitting with Violet, the youngest girl, I did think of Lisa and Cassie, and her friends. It made me glad we could be a little kinder than some.”
I nodded and said “I agree – so, how do you want to spend the next couple of hours?”
Yvonne looked at me and smiled. “Well, it would be such a pity if a big bad robber was to break in during the small hours, and have to tie me up while he robbed me – or did something else?”
I took her in my arms, kissed her and said “Yes, most unfortunate...”
“So this is Wissenden Hall? What on earth made you pick here?”
Yvonne was looking out of the car window as I turned into the driveway and approached the front of the large house, stopping the car next to that of John and Jennifer.
“Location, convenience, availability,” I said as I looked once again at the large double doors, “I never thought Alexander would actually buy the place for his family!”
“It must have really made an impression on them,” Yvonne said as she looked at the frontage. She had changed – after our playtime – into a cream coloured trouser suit with a black silk blouse, and leather shoes. I was wearing a casual jacket and slacks with a shirt.
“I wonder what Lisa and Charlie make of the place,” I said as we got out of the car, and walked up to the door. Pulling on the bell, we waited a moment before Alexander came to the door.
“Mark! Yvonne! Welcome,” he said as he showed us in, “the kids are out in the playhouse – come and join the others...”