Meet the Williamsons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mister Williamson?”

 

Looking up from my desk, I smiled at my secretary and said “Yes, Suzanne?”

 

“Your ten o’clock appointment is here, Mister Williamson –I’ve put him in conference room 2.”

 

“Thank you, Suzanne,” I said as I saved the report I was working on, locked my computer and stood up, putting on my suit jacket as I did so.  I smiled at Suzanne, and made my way down the office, before opening the door and looking at the young, very well known woman sitting at the conference table.  She had on an expensive pale blue jacket and skirt, with a white camisole underneath, while with her was a man I knew in a professional capacity.

 

“Miss Devere?  My name is Mark Williamson – welcome to the offices of Williamson Clark and Clark – please, be seated.”  As she sat down, and I put my pad on the table, I said “Good afternoon Gerald – now, I believe you need my advice on a tax matter of some sensitivity?”

 

Perhaps I should introduce myself more properly?  As you may have gathered, my name is Mark Williamson, and I am the Chief Director of Williamson, Clark and Clark, accountants and tax advisors to the rich and powerful.  Well, I like to think of our clients as rich and powerful – and trust me, some of them truly are.

 

I’ve worked in this area ever since I graduated from University, and have attained a reputation for meticulous attention to detail and fastidious honesty.  I do know the tricks of the trade, but I never apply them to help my clients avoid their obligations.   Some clients do not like that, but they can go elsewhere.

 

Now I over see an office of about eighty people, working for large corporations, wealthy families, and the occasional football player as well.  With my fellow directors, we make sure we have a happy workplace, and to set an example all our company and personal accounts are externally and independently audited.

 

Anyway, getting back to business – after an hour or so, I had a real understanding of the situation my colleague’s client had, and had suggested three possible avenues for her to explore.  She stood up and shook my hand, before she said in that silky voice she was well known for “You have a fascinating voice, Mr Williamson – Where do you hail from?”

 

“Near Bristol,” I said with a smile as Suzanne came to show the two visitors out.  I made some final notes, and then said to Suzanne as she returned “Would you type up the notes of our meeting for me to review tomorrow please, Suzanne?  I have a meeting that I need to go to at my son’s school.”

 

“Of course Mr Williamson,” she said as I handed her the notes, returned to my office to collect my laptop and things, and then headed out to the car.  It was starting to get dark already, and I needed to collect the family before we headed to the school.

 

Fortunately, I live only half an hour from the office, and when I got home Lisa and Yvonne were waiting for me.  Lisa is my daughter, eleven years old, and she had her mother’s natural blonde hair which was held back by a pink Alice band.  She was still in her school uniform – the grey skirt and jacket, and pale blue blouse, with white socks and black shoes.

 

I first met Yvonne at University, and we married two years after we graduated.  She works as a teacher at a local school – not one either of our kids go to – and she keeps herself in trim.  Tonight she was wearing a red sweater under her black jacket, a pair of black flared trousers and short black boots.

 

“Charlie’s meeting us at the school – he had soccer practice,” she said as she got in beside me, and Lisa in the back, before we drove to my son’s school.  Charlie – Charles if he is been naughty – is nine, and goes to a prep school as he prepares to sit the dreaded eleven plus – the one that had got Lisa into the grammar school this year.

 

He was waiting for us in the entrance to the school, his short dark hair under the striped cap as we came in.  “We don’t have anything to worry about, do we,” I said as he hugged me and his mother.

 

“No Dad – nothing at all,” he said as we went into the hall.

 

He was right – no problems, so an hour later we were sitting round the dinner table, eating the pizzas I ordered on the way home and talking about the days we had all had.  Eventually, Charlie looked at me and said “Dad, do you think we can have a family game before we go to bed tonight?”

 

I looked at Yvonne and said “What do you think, dear?”

 

“Why not,” she said as she pushed her chair back and stood up, “but give Lisa and me time to get ready, all right?”  She took Lisa by the hand and went upstairs, as I looked at Charlie.

 

“Home Invasion?”

 

“Home Invasion,” he said as he went out from the dining room, returning with a brown canvas bag.

 

“All right, but you need to help me clear up first,” I said as I collected up the pizza boxes.   “Then we can start.”

 

By the time we were ready, Lisa and Yvonne had come back downstairs.  They were sitting in the front room, Lisa in a one piece sleep suit patterned after a tiger with a hood hanging down from her neck, and Yvonne in a very nice pair of silk pyjamas.

 

Charlie and I were ready as well, black scarves tied over our mouths and noses as we came in, me brandishing a toy gun as I said “Nobody move!”

 

Yvonne and Lisa looked at us, Lisa putting her hands to her mouth as Yvonne said “Oh no – please, don’t hurt us!”

 

“Keep quiet and we won’t” Charlie said as he took Lisa by the arm and made her kneel in front of the couch.  “You too,” I said to Yvonne as I pointed the gun at her, “Kneel next to the kid, and both of you put your heads down on the seat cushions.”

 

“All right, we’ll do as you say,” my wife whispered as she knelt next to Lisa and leaned down.  Charlie and I took their arms and crossed their wrists behind their back, before using a length of soft rope to secure them tightly together – the rope doubled over and passed round their arms, pulled back and two more passes, then between their wrists to tighten it before tying the ends off out of reach of their fingers.

 

We then helped them to sit up and tied more rope around their arms and stomachs, locking them into place n a sort of double figure of eight, before making them sit back to back.  While I tied their upper bodies together, Charlie knelt in front of his mother and tied her ankles tightly together, then her legs below her knees.  I did the same for Lisa, before we stood up and looked at them both.

 

“All right,” I then said as I looked at Yvonne, “Where do you keep all your valuables?”

 

“In the bedroom,” she whispered quietly, “What are you going to do with us?”

 

“Keep you quiet,” I said as I took a couple of sponge balls and a roll of sticking plaster from my pocket.  “So open wide and say Ah.”

 

The two of them obliged, Charlie and I taking care to make sure Lisa bit on the sponge before we taped over her mouth, and then I said “Watch them while I have a look round upstairs.” 

 

Charlie nodded and sat himself on the seat while I left the room.  I had to retrieve something from my upstairs office anyway.  After about thirty minutes, I came back down to see they were still there – but Charlie had started to tickle his sister’s feet.

 

nndndnnnnt” Lisa was giggling out through the plaster covering her mouth, and I could see Yvonne was getting a little overbalanced as well, so I said “enough – I got what we came for, let’s go.”

 

Charlie stood up and followed me out of the room, as we headed for the kitchen.  I took two cans of coke from the fridge, handed one to him and waited as we heard muffled conversation from the front room. 

 

“So how long,” Charlie said as we sat at the kitchen table.

 

I looked at the clock on the wall, and said “Well, Mum’s record is twenty minutes, so...”

 

“Make that eighteen minutes.”

 

Yvonne was standing in the doorway, several lengths of rope in her hands.  “Charlie, go and free your sister – it’s a school night and you need to go to bed.  Both of you.”

 

Awww – all right Mum,” Charlie said as he walked off, and Yvonne went to the fridge, taking out a bottle of wine and opening it.  “It’s a school night for you as well, you know,” I said as she poured two glasses.

 

“Yeah, well,” she said with a smile before the kids came in, gave us a hug and said “good night,” to both of us. 

 

“I’ll come up and tuck you both in later,” Yvonne said as we watched them leave the kitchen, and head up the stairs.  “So, how was your day?”

 

“Busy as always – but I managed to get most of the reports for this week out of the way, which means I can finish early on Friday.”

 

Yvonne smiled and stood up, holding me from behind with her arms round my neck as I opened the folder I had brought down from the office and looked at the photographs inside.

 

“Hmmm,” she said as she picked up one, “I have the feeling I had better arrange for a babysitter for Friday night.”

 

“I was going to ask if you would,” I said with a smile as I leaned back and we kissed.  “See if Joanne or someone is free.”

 

“I’ll call her later – once the kids are asleep,” Yvonne said as she let go, and left the kitchen.  I waited until she had climbed the stairs, and then took out a cheap mobile phone and dialled a number, clearing my throat as I did so.

 

When I finally spoke, it wasn’t in my usual deep accent, but in a slightly higher pitch and a Geordie accent.

 

“This is Jay – rendezvous 1900 hours Friday, assembly point D.”  Ending the call, I repeated it three times, and then looked again at the photographs of the family, the two kids with their mother and father.

 

Oh yeah – I should have said.  I’m rather well known by the authorities by another name.  You can call me Jay – Jay Edwards.

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking – why does a very successful accountant, at the top of his profession, have a nice little sideline in kidnap and grand larceny?   It’s a fair question, and I could give you all sorts of reasons – a bad upbringing, a psychological need to be in control of situations, an evil mastermind lurking in plain sight...

 

Actually, I kind of like that last one, but the truth is far more prosaic – I enjoy it.  Yes, I enjoy the adrenaline rush, the thrill of doing something dangerous – and unlike skydiving or other dangerous sports, I find it extremely profitable.

 

As to how I got into this particular line of work – when I was a younger man, I was struggling to pay my university fees, so I spent a fair number if evenings doing some breaking and entering.  Nothing big, nothing flashy – but I made enough to pay my fees, with a little extra over, and I was careful not to draw attention to myself by flashing money about.

 

I also built up a number of contacts in the darker economy, for want of a better word, and as I established my accountancy credentials I learned a lot about the way money moves around the world and between companies.

 

I also found myself getting more and more bored the more successful I came.  Oh I found excitement in other ways – Yvonne and I have a very active and imaginative private life – but still...

 

Tell me, have you ever seen the film The Thomas Crown Affair?  I saw the Steve McQueen version when I was a kid, and it fascinated me that someone so rich, so powerful and so successful would be so bored he would contemplate a major art robbery – just because he could do it.  What I realised, just after Charlie was born, was that I was feeling the same way – and like him, I could see a way to do something similar in my world and set it up in such a way I never got caught.

 

One night, I sat up late and made a list of the skills I had to offer.  One, I knew the financial world, and had the knowledge and capability to set up a way of laundering any money I managed to obtain, through foreign accounts and holding companies.

 

Two, I had a physical presence, one that could be accentuated by the right choice of clothing and disguise.  When I was at school, I did a lot of amateur dramatics, and I discovered then I had a flair for accents and changing my voice.  If I was going to rob someone, I had to do as much as possible to disguise myself, including my voice.

 

Third, I had underworld contacts.  Using them, I talked to the right people, and managed to find a number of – let’s call them associates, who would help me with the plans I had.  There were three at first, but over the years I have built up a team of twelve or so that I can call on.  They only know me as Jay, and they do not know each other – I’ll explain how in a minute.  At any rate, I never use the same people from one job to the next, even to the extent that when a job is on, I invite more than I need and only select the final team on the night.  A sizeable retainer means they are all happy – and if they are unfortunate enough to be caught, their families are taken care of by means of charitable donations.

 

So I had the skills, I had the manpower, and I had the means of disguising myself.  I also had a plan for the way we would work – in many ways a classic method, where we take over the home of the target, hold his or her family hostage, and make him or her transfer sizable amounts from their employers to my holding companies.  I have found if you threaten the ones they love, they become extremely compliant.

 

Which is just as well – I will do what needs t be done to do the job, but I really don’t want to hurt anyone beyond stopping them raising the alarm.  Yeah, yeah – I tie the family up, I gag them, and they are made to sleep like that more often than not, but I and my associates are skilled enough that beyond rope marks, it won’t hurt or harm them.

 

 

 

I guess the question in your mind is, how do I select the targets?  Well, I have some rules.  Wherever possible, I do not visit clients of my firm, or friends.  But I know the names of many of the leading business and banking executives of this country, and I know the way their businesses work.

 

Once I select a target, I find out all I can about them, their families and their habits.  Then I select a night when it is most likely the target is at home, or their families are alone, I select my team, and we – well, we knock on the door, and make our way in.

 

Let me tell you about the first time I did this.  I had selected the manager of the major branch of a national bank in town – this was about ten years ago, and I knew he had access to major accounts because my firm had recently audited accounts of firms that used that branch.

 

I met my three associates and briefed them – the man lived in the suburbs with his wife and twelve year old daughter, and I knew he was at home that night.  We drove in a non-descript van to the house, got out in the dark, and knocked on the front door.

 

His wife had no chance when we opened the door, and four masked and armed men burst in.  Two of my men held her against the wall of the hallway, one holding a pistol to her head, while my other associate and I went into the front room.  Their daughter was sitting watching The Simpsons, in a pair of grey joggers and a white t-shirt, while he was in a nice comfy armchair, in an open necked shirt and trousers.

 

I told them both to sit with their hands on their heads, while Mummy was brought in – her hands had already been tied behind her back with rope, and there was a band of rope around her arms and under her chest, pulling down the v-neck of her jumper.

 

The adrenaline rush was – intoxicating, as we bound the daughter, her hands behind her back and rope around her waist and arms, then tied the ankles and legs of the females before gagging them with tape.  We bound and gagged the father in the same way, before I explained he was going to go with one of my men, while we kept his wife and daughter.

 

Once he had gone, we stayed with the two women for a while, before allowing them to wash and change for bed, before tightly binding them, and cleave gagging them with two of the mother’s scarves.  When we had the money, we left them, while Dad was bound and gagged at the bank.

 

The money was transferred to overseas accounts, and eventually returned to me as audit fees, payments for services rendered, and so on.  Even with payments to my associates, and deposits in trust funds for the kids, I made enough to live comfortably – and I enjoyed it.

 

I pay my taxes, and everything is above board – but I had a new way of finding excitement, as our visits grew both in planning and in reward.  My one regret has always been when it has been necessary to visit friends and colleagues – but I can tell you about that later.  Our most recent visit was easily the most complex and profitable – even if at the end three of my associates were in custody, and I only escaped by waiting in the bushes for some cars I saw to drive to the house we were based in.

 

That had been a few weeks before, and now I felt it was time for another visit.  As I studied the photographs on the dining table, Yvonne came back in, wearing a cream silk dressing gown over her pyjamas, and sat with me.  I kissed her, accepted a glass of wine, and watched as she picked up the photos.

 

“So this is who are you planning to visit on Friday,  she said as she looked at the photo, “Dave Wilcox, the head of accounts?”

 

I nodded, and looked at him with his wife.  She was a woman with clear Indian heritage, dressed in a gold Sari with her dark hair held back by gold clasps.  “Denise looked so beautiful at the ball that night,” Yvonne said as she sipped her wine.  “It’s almost a pity you’ll have to make sure she can’t interfere.”

 

She then looked at the picture of their two daughters, in their school uniforms.  On the left was their younger daughter, seven year old Mary, her black hair neatly platted in pigtails as she smiled at the camera.  On the right was Zara, three years older and dressed in the blouse, blazer and tie of her middle school.

 

“Do you think they will be any trouble,” Yvonne said as she looked at me.

 

“No, I don’t think so,” I said as I looked at her.  “I’m sure they’ll do everything we say, especially with my very special associate along to help keep Mary calm.  I don’t know what I’d do without her with the younger kids.”

 

“That’s because she gets plenty of practice looking after her own daughter,” Yvonne said as she kissed me again.  “I’ll call Joanna – see if she is free Friday.”

 

I smiled as she went to the phone.  There are so many reasons I love and married her – and her taste for this life is just one of them.  Only one other person knows who Jay Edwards really is – and when we are at work, I call her Mrs McPhee.

 

Normally I allow plenty of time to do the job that needs to be done – be it a night, a day or sometimes more than one.  I also like to put the kids at much at ease as possible, playing games with them or talking with them.  Over the years, I’ve learned a few different tricks for tying people up and keeping them silent, so that now I have it down to a fine art.

 

I have the perfect way of testing new methods for kids anyway – my own children.  They’ve played tie-up games with me and Yvonne for a few years now, and I’ve generally found what works for them works for the families I visit as well.  Mind you, I’m also glad to learn from others.

 

“Joanne’s good for Friday – I’ve asked her to be here for five and stay overnight.  That all right with you dear?”

 

“Perfect,” I said as I stood up and hugged Yvonne.  “Come on – let’s go to bed.”

 

 

Joanne is one of the local teenagers – we’ve used her as a babysitter a few times, and she doesn’t mind sleeping over if we ask her nicely enough – and pay her enough. 

 

When I opened the door to her on Friday night, I was already in my crisp white shirt, bow tie tied, while Charlie and Lisa were in the front room watching a film.  They were in jeans and t-shirts, and both said “Hi” to her as she looked in.

 

“So what are my instructions for tonight,” she said as she sat at the kitchen table, while I put a pair of gold cufflinks in.  She was wearing a pair of cut off shorts over leggings, a baggy grey jumper and sneakers.

 

I just smiled and said “Make sure they get to bed early, and they don’t give you any trouble.  We should be back after breakfast time tomorrow.”

 

“Is that Joanne,” Yvonne said as she came in, and said “Can you help with this, Mark?”  I took the gold chain and fastened it round her neck, admiring her black silk ball gown as I did so.

 

“You look fantastic Mrs Williamson,” Joanne said as I put my dinner jacket on, and Yvonne out a velvet shrug over her arms.

 

“Thanks – you have the contact numbers if we need them,” she said as she looked in the front room.  “Now I expect you two to behave yourself for Joanne – we’ll see you in the morning.”

 

“See you, Mum and Dad” Charlie and Lisa said as we hugged them, and then I escorted Yvonne to the car, driving into the main street and heading, for all intents and purposes, to the Hilton in town.

 

Actually, that was where we went, parking the car and checking into the room I had booked the previous night, before heading up to it with the small case I had packed.  Once inside the room, I put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door handle, and turned the television on, before we opened the case and took out our nightclothes – then stripped down and left our clothes over the two chairs.

 

I put on a sweatshirt and jeans, while Yvonne changed into a denim skirt and blouse, before we both put on sneakers and left the room, walking to the lift and leaving the hotel without anyone batting an eyelid.  We then walked a short distance to some garages under the railway line, and as she held the door open I drove out a grey van and parked it for a moment while she closed the door.

 

We then got into the back of the van and changed again – this time into blue boiler suits, with black jumpers underneath, heavy shoes and black leather gloves.  Yvonne smiled at me, then we kissed, before she pulled the black balaclava over her head, and I wore it as a rolled up cap.  Yvonne stayed in the back of the van while I drove to a quiet car park, and then waited, the tinted windows raised as I pulled the mask down over my own head.

 

At five to seven, four cars drew up, and four men got out – all dressed as I was, with the masks up.  Standard Procedure for my men – we don’t know who each other are.  I got out of the van, and talked with them.  To two, I said thank you and told them they would not be needed – the other two joined Yvonne in the back, saying “Good to see you, Mrs McPhee” as they got in.

 

“And you, boys,” Yvonne replied in a Scottish accent.  “I trust you are both well?”

 

“Yup,” they said as I got in with them.  “All right,” I said in my Geordie accent, “We go in as always, restrain the family.  Mrs McPhee, you take the youngest daughter.”

 

“Of course, dear.”

 

“I’ll let you know what’s needed from the head of the family in due course, but remember – not a word, and always treat them with dignity.”

“As always, Jay,” they both said with a smile, before I got out of the van and behind the wheel, driving to our destination.   The Wilcox house was on a small estate on the outskirts of a nearby village, and had a low wall around the front of the house.  It was detached, and just perfect for our needs.

 

As I drove to the front of the house, the curtains were drawn and the lights were on inside.  I took a moment to look round, then quickly slipped out and to the back of the van, closing the doors as quietly as I could.  My two associates had now pulled the balaclavas down over their heads, and were sporting a shot gun in their gloved hands, while Mrs McPhee had a large brown canvas bag in her hands.

 

“Everyone ready,” I whispered, looking at them as they nodded, and then we walked up to the front door, waiting as I rang the doorbell.  I heard a voice saying “I’ll get it,” and then a body approached on the other side of the frosted glass.  I held my breath as the door was unlocked, and opened out.

 

It was Denise, wearing a red jumper over a white blouse with a small collar, blue jeans and brown ankle boots.  She barely had time to say “Yes, can I...” before I pushed her in, my leather gloved hand over her mouth as one of my associates pointed his gun to her head.

 

“Not a word,” I said quietly as Mrs McPhee and the other associate went into the living room, and I heard two young girls scream before Mrs McPhee said “All right, girls, just calm down and stay sitting.”

 

“Shall we,” I said as we made Denise walk in front of us, and into the front room.  Mary and Zara were sat next to each other on a couch, the television on in front of them.  Mary was wearing a long sleeved pink top, jeans and white socks, while Zara was wearing a white t-shirt with “Guess” printed on the front in different colours, a red belt round her waist, a denim skirt to her knees and black boxing boots with white laces.

 

As for poor Dave – my other associate had his gun next to his head, as he sat there in his shirt and pants.

 

“Good evening,” I said as I pushed Denise over to sit with the girls, “Forgive the  intrusion, but so long as everybody does what we say we’ll get along just fine.  Now, all of you, put your hands on your heads and keep quiet.”

 

“Who are you,” Denise said as she stared at us.  “We’re your guests for the night,” I replied quietly, “and we’re going to make sure everyone is nice and comfortable – so long as they do as we say.  After all, you’d hate it if your family were to get hurt, wouldn’t you Mr Wilcox.”

 

Dave looked at us, and then said “How...  How do you know my name?”

 

“Oh I make a point of knowing about the people I visit,” I say with a smile as I open the brown bag, and take out a length of rope.  “Now, unless your want my friends here to hurt your family, come over here and put your hands behind your back.”

 

I could see Mary and Zara were starting to cry, as Mrs McPhee knelt in front of them and said “It’s all right kids – just do what we tell you to do, and everyone will be just fine.”

 

“But you’ve got guns,” Zara said as she looked at us.

 

“I know, and it can be scary, but believe me – if Daddy does what we say, you’ll be just fine.”

 

I looked at her and nodded, before saying “Mary, go and sit in the other chair over there, with your hands on your head.  Zara, turn and face your mother.”

 

“What are you going to do to us,” Dave said as I crossed his wrists behind his back, and tied them tightly together.  As I did so, Mrs McPhee went and sat with Mary, while the other two made Zara and Denise put their hands behind their back, palm to palm, and started to tie them tightly together with soft white rope.

 

“Oh God,” Denise mumbled as she felt her arms being secured, and looked at her husband.  “Why are you doing that to my mummy and Zara,” Mary said as she looked at the others.

 

“We need to make sure they stay in one place, Mary,” Mrs McPhee said as I made Dave sit down and tied his ankles tightly together.  “Don’t worry, I’ll take very special care of you.  We need to make sure you stay in one place as well, but I’ll do it in a way that won’t hurt, all right?”

 

Mary nodded as she watched the men tie rope around her sister’s arms and stomach, and around her mother’s arms and chest.  Zara soon had her arms locked to her sides, and to her waist with a second band, while her mother had rope wound above and below her chest, and then tightened under her arms.

 

If I may digress for a moment, how much rope to use to secure someone is something I think about a lot.  For fully grown women, I like to use rope around the waist, forearms and stomach, and above and below the chest.  For older teenagers, I’ll do that as well, but for the younger ones I tend to use only the rope around the forearms.  For kids as young as Mary, something else is usually done for the day time.

 

I do bend the rules sometimes, but that tends to be how I work.  I watched with Dave as his wife and oldest daughter had their ankles crossed and tied tightly together with rope, and then their legs below their knees.

 

“Now, if you can promise not to shout for help, we’ll leave it at that,” I said as Mrs McPhee knelt next to Mary, and said “Your turn sweetie – can you put your hands together as if you are praying?”

 

“I’m scared,” Mary said quietly as she looked at Mrs McPhee.

 

“It’s all right to be scared, but I promise you it won’t hurt,” she said with a smile.  “Trust me.”  Mary nodded and put her hands together, watching as Mrs McPhee tied her wrists firmly together.  She then put her ankles together, saying “We need to make sure you cannot move for a while,” before she tied them with rope, and then her legs above her knees.  She then tied Mary’s wrists to her legs, before saying “there – that’s not so bad, is it?”

 

Mary tried to twist her hands free, then said “No, it’s not.”

 

“So what happens now,” Denise said as she looked at me.

 

“Now – why don’t we watch a film together,” I said with a smile, “You pick.”

 

Dave just looked at me, and said “A film?  Are you serious?”

 

“Oh I’m always serious, Dave,” I said quietly.  “We’re going to be here for a while, so you may as well accept the situation, relax and go with it.  Now, why don’t you,” I said to Zara, “pick a DVD and Mrs McPhee will start it for you.”

 

As she selected one, I couldn’t help thinking of the different kinds of children I’ve come across – some scared, some angry, some upset.  Very occasionally, I meet someone who actually likes this – and top of that list has to be one Cassie Craig.

 

In many ways, I never should have met Cassie – John Craig, her father, is a good friend of mine, and I don’t usually visit friends as Jay Edwards.  A year or two back, however, my sources told me he had access to the details of a Far East trade – one I wished for various reasons to take advantage of.  Cassie would have only been about ten at the time, so I would normally have asked Mrs McPhee to come as well, but Lily was ill – priorities, you know.

 

For that one, we actually picked a night they were out, and took his girls and their babysitter hostage first.  I always remember, when I told Cassie what was happening, she seemed excited as well as scared, so I stayed with the three of them until I made the babysitter call them back.  I always regretted the way we treated Jennifer that night, but business is business.

 

One of my associates took John to transfer the funds to a dummy account I had, and we stayed with the girls until the early hours, when they were all asleep.  I never wanted to do something like that again – and yet...

 

Anyway, after an hour or so I said “I’m sorry girls, but I need to have a word with your father.  Mrs McPhee – why don’t you get them some drinks and then we’ll take Dave into the kitchen?”

 

Once she had brought through some cold drinks, and was holding one for Zara to sip, the other two men half walked, half dragged Dave into the kitchen.  “Now then,” I said as we sat down, “I want you to go with one of my friends here to your office, and when you are there he will give you the details of an account, into which you will transfer the sum of fifty thousand pounds.”

 

“And if I say no?”

 

I looked directly at Dave, before saying “Well, so far Mrs McPhee has been very kind to your wife and daughters.  It would be such a shame if she felt she had to – chastise them for your refusal.”

 

He stared at me, his face white, before he said “and if I do as you say?”

 

“Then we will make sure your girls get to bed early, and tuck them safely in for the night before we go.  Denise as well – but only if you do exactly what we say.”

 

Dave nodded, and then said “All right – I’ll do what you say.”

 

“Good.”  I nodded to one of my associates and said “Untie him and let him get his shoes and jacket on.”  I took the other one to one side, and gave him a USB stick.  “Once he has logged into the company account, bind him and plug this into the machine.  Run the program that comes up, and remember to remove it once the program has completed.”

 

He nodded as I went back into the room.  “It must be getting close to supper time,” I said as I looked at them.  “Mrs McPhee, kindly untie Denise, and take her into the kitchen to prepare some food for the girls, will you?  I will stay here and keep them company.” 

 

“Of course,” Mrs McPhee said as she untied Denise.  As she stood up, Dave came in and said “I need to go with one of the men for a little while.  Please, do what they say until I come back.”

 

“Stay safe,” Denise said as she looked at him, before he was walked out of the house.  As Mrs McPhee then took Denise to the kitchen, my other associate started to make sure the phones were disconnected.

 

Now, doing an electronic transfer is one way of getting the money, but I have several – from physically taking the money and leaving it on selected drop off points for collection later, right up to hacking into the system and doing the transfer myself.  Which works depends on the job and on the time.

 

As I watched the two girls talking to each other, and smelt the food coming from the kitchen, I was made to think about my most recent job, and how much I had wished Mrs McPhee could have been there – but she had taken the kids away to their grandmother’s for the weekend.

 

I had two reasons – one was I knew I was going to have to hold the family for three days.  The other was, much against my better judgement, I was planning to hold John Craig’s family hostage again.

 

I’d been in a meeting with him and some other clients, and overheard that he had been given responsibility for a number of linked accounts across the country, totalling a sizable sum.  That piqued my interest, and at first I wondered if some other official would have the details to get the money, but it soon became apparent John was the only one.

 

So on the Friday morning, four associates and I knocked on John’s door and surprised him before he left for work.  The bigger surprise was for us, however, when we took him back into the kitchen.

 

Suzie and Jenny were there, both looking older and more grown up, but four other girls were there too – two younger than Cassie – and all of them were wearing clothes from the 1950’s.  John then asked to speak to us – he’d recognised my voice – and one of them stayed in the kitchen with a gun while we talked.

 

Then he told us that if we wanted his co-operation, we had to treat the time as if it was a tie-up game he arranged for the girls.  He knew his wife would co-operate, and that would keep the younger girls calm.  I agreed, and when he told the girls this I could see the excitement in the younger girls’ faces.

 

I could see in Cassie she had realised this was not a game – as had Jenny – but once my associate had taken John to start his tour of the sites to get the cash she actually showed me a new way to tie them up so they could not escape – making them hold sponges and covering their hands was just one example.  Another was the very secure gag they used – I had used Duct tape up to that point, but they showed me a different tape I have since stocked up on.  I have to admit, I was wanting to try that this time as well – but not yet.

 

I had a note of John’s credit card details, and I had arranged to rent a house in the country to keep the family hostage in.  But it turned out to be much more than that – with the help of Cassie and Jenny, it really did become a three day tie-up game, with them tightly bound and gagged most of the day and all of the night.

 

I knew it would be a long job, and some things would happen I did not like – such as the decision of the two associates with me to bind the older teenagers, Jenny and her friend, like an adult woman on the Saturday, with the ropes above and below their chests.  I wasn’t sure – they were still young after all – but then the rest of the girls asked for it.  I really tried to persuade them not to, with Mrs Craig’s help, but they were most insistent.

 

The effect it had on Cassie and her young friend was strange, but for the three days I could tell she was playing along to keep the younger girls happy and unaware.  I had to admire that in her – especially when things started to go wrong.

 

The first hint I got was on the Sunday, when a regular check-in with the associate accompanying John took place, and he told me everything was going according to plan.  That was a pre-planned code phrase, and it told me he had been captured and John Craig was not with him.  By that time, I knew we had a very large sum of money waiting to be collected, and I knew someone would work out where we were.

 

So I brought the game to an end, leaving the girls and Jennifer Craig in the main room of the house, and went to the van.  Our usual one was in the garage, so one had been – obtained.  I had driven to the house with Jennifer and the girls in their own car and abandoned that in a nearby town.  What I was not expecting was to see the tyres were flat – and when I looked, I saw they had been punctured by a knife near the valve.

 

I told the other two to escape through the back woods, and went down the main drive myself – but I was expecting to see someone there, and sure enough there was, so I hid and waited until they drove up to the house, and then got away as quickly as I could.

 

I retrieved the money, and eventually it made its way back to me, but I also learned the other two had been caught as well – thanks to two boys.  I suspected more, but said nothing – except for when I explained to Yvonne what had happened, and vowed never to hit the Craigs or their friends again.

 

There was another, more practical reason for saying this as well – we were going to move house soon, and I had bought one across the road from John and the family.  The last thing I needed to do was draw suspicion to myself.

 

“Here we go,” Mrs McPhee said as she carried a tray of toasted muffins with butter in, and laid it on the coffee table, while Denise brought in mugs of hot chocolate.  “Now, we’re going to untie both of you, and let you have your supper, all right?”

 

“Thank you,” Mary and Zara said as I and my associate untied them, coiling the ropes neatly, and they sat with their mother, eating and drinking.  “How long are you going to be here,” Denise said as she looked at the three of us.

 

“So long as your husband does what we say without question, not too long,” I said back with a smile.  Mrs McPhee nodded as well in agreement – and I loved her for it.

 

I should say Yvonne knew of my rope and acting skills long before she joined the team – she had a background in Amateur Dramatics as well – but she discovered by accident one of my plans to visit the house of a female bank manager, who lived alone with her twin daughters.  To my surprise, she asked to join in, and so Mrs McPhee was born – that time she stayed with the eight year old girls, read to them, and watched them as they slept before we brought their mother back.

 

This time, she had another job to perform, as I looked at the clock.  “Well, it’s getting late,” I said, “and little girls should be in bed.  Mrs McPhee, please take Mary upstairs to wash, brush her teeth and get ready for bed, and then bring her back down.”

 

“IT’s all right, Mary,” Mrs McPhee said as she stood up, “Come with me and you can show me your room.”

 

“Oh, one more thing,” I said before they left, “Make sure she brings two pairs of her sports socks down with her...”

 

“Why did you say that,” Denise said as she hugged Zara.  “You’ll see soon enough,” I said with a smile, as I sipped on a drink.  “For now, however, you just need to relax and do as we tell you.”

 

After a short while had passed, Mrs McPhee brought Mary back in.  She had put on a pair of polka dot pyjamas, with multi coloured dots on a white background, and pink cuffs on her wrists and legs.  That was matched by a pink round collar and button strip on her pyjama top.

 

“Thank you,” I said quietly, “now please take Zara up to get changed.  Mary, I would like you to put one of the pairs of socks on your feet, and make sure you tuck your pyjamas into them.

 

“Like this,” Mary said as she sat next to her mum and pulled the socks up her legs.  “Exactly,” I said quietly, “now, we’re going to play a little game for bed tonight, so I want you to pull the other pair of socks over your hands.  Mummy will help you to pull them up over your pyjama sleeves.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Well, for the game, we’re going to make sure you all have your hands covered, and then you have the same chance of winning.  Denise, please help Mary.”  I watched as Denise pulled the socks up, and then I handed her a roll of white tape, saying “now tape the top of the socks to Mary’s arms.  Zara and you will have the same thing.”

 

As she did this, Mrs McPhee brought Zara back in, carrying one pair of socks.  “That should be enough,” she said as I looked at Zara’s one piece sleep suit, which was covered in pink zebra like stripes.

 

“Good thinking,” I said quietly,  Denise, do the same to Zara as you did to Mary, and then you will go with Mrs McPhee and get ready for bed.”  I watched as she covered Zara’s hands in the socks, and then went with Mrs McPhee.

 

“Now we’re going to make it more difficult,  I said as I took the white tape, and used it to cover the hands of both girls.  “We won’t be able to hold anything,” Zara said by the time I had finished, and their mother came back.  Denise was now wearing a knee length white nightgown, with short capped sleeves, and a v-necked front.

 

She also had a pair of bedsocks on, and a pair over her hands, which I could see Mrs McPhee had taped to her arm and then over her hands.

 

“All right,” I said quietly, “Why don’t you give each other a great big hug, and then we’ll go up to bed together.”

 

“Thank you,” Denise said as she hugged the girls, and they hugged her and then each other, before we walked up the stairs – Mrs McPhee first, then the family, them me and my other associate.  We stopped outside the bedroom doors as I said “Zara, Denise, please be so good as to put your hands behind your back.”

 

“We’re going to be tied up again, aren’t we,” Denise said, and only after I nodded did she say "Be brave girls,” and moved her arms, Zara doing likewise.  Mr McPhee had her hand on Mary’s shoulder as we crossed their wrists behind their back, making sure the rope held firm over the socks, and then cinched it between their arms.

 

“Are you going to do that to me as well,” Mary said in a quiet voice.  “No dear,” Mrs McPhee said as she squatted in front of her, “but I am going to tie your wrists together – in front of you like before.  Why don’t you cross them for me?”  Mary nodded and watched as her wrists were tied, while the two of us tied ropes around the waist of Zara and Denise to fix their wrists against their backs.

 

“You as well,” Mrs McPhee said as she tied rope around Mary’s waist, fixing her wrist against her belly and tying it between her arms and tummy.  All three of them then had their arms tied to their sides with rope in a double figure of eight around their arms and tummies.

 

“You first Mary,” I said as the door to her room was opened and we all went in.  Mrs McPhee sat Mary on her bad and used two lengths of rope to tie her legs together, at her ankles and below her knees, making sure she cinched the rope between her legs to tighten the bands.

 

“Are you all right, Mary,” Denise said as Mrs McPhee helped Mary to lie on her back, and then gave her a teddy to hug under her bound hands.  “Now, I need to put something in your mouth and then tape it over,” she said quietly, “But I will stay with you and read you a story, all right?”

 

“Thank you,” she said quietly, then she opened her mouth as Mrs McPhee put a small hankie in her mouth, and then covered her mouth with a strip of white tape.  Picking up a book, she began to read “In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit...” while my friend and I escorted Zara and Denise to the older girl’s room.

 

“Regretfully,” I said as I closed the door, “we need to keep you two a little quieter.”  My friend went to the bathroom, and brought back two washcloths, as I said “Please open wide.”

 

“Be brave, Zara,” Denise said as they both opened wide, allowing us to push the cloths in and then tie a knotted strip of cotton from my bag between their lips.

 

Sntthsnf,” Denise said as she saw me take a roll of white tape out.  “No – we must be certain you cannot raise the alarm,” I said as I pulled the end free, and then stuck in to her cheek, winding it tightly round her head and sealing her lips.

 

Zara stood still as I taped her mouth over, and then watched as I tied two bands of rope around her mother’s arms and chest – one below and one above her chest.  I then tied one band around her upper arms and shoulders, making sure it was tied securely, before I helped her to lie on the bed, and tied first her ankles, and then her legs tightly together.

 

“Now, if you lie on your side or tummy, it won’t be so uncomfortable.” I said quietly as I stroked her hair from her eyes.  She nodded and then said “Lvuummeee” to Denise.  I could see the tear running down her cheek as she turned and went with my friend to her bedroom.

 

After a few minutes, Mrs McPhee came in.  “Mary is asleep,” she said quietly, “I’ll stay with Zara now.”

 

I nodded and went in to see Denise was lying on her side, her legs pulled back and tied to the ropes around her arms as she looked up at me.  “Mary is sleeping, and Zara will probably seeping soon as well,” I said quietly.  “Relax, Denise – you have done splendidly.”

 

Whtbbtdf?”

 

“Dave will be secured once he has done what we have asked him to – I’m sure you’ll all see him in the morning,” I said as my friend came round to my side of the bed.  “Go downstairs and wash up – see what else you can find,” I whispered as I watched Denise getting comfortable, and then her eyes slowly closing as exhaustion took hold of her.

 

In many ways, this can be the most relaxing, and also the most frightening times of our visits.  You can never quite tell how the family will react to being bound and gagged, and left to sleep.  Some panic – on at least one occasion, we ended up having to bind the family in the front room and only use cleave gags to keep them quiet, and they had to be watched all the times.

 

Other families manage to adjust and cope – and much as I hate to say it, the Craigs come back to mind for that.  The first time we visited, Cassie insisted on being tied nearly as tightly as her sister and mother, and gagged just as much.  I left her with her sister that night, side by side on a bed, as much for mutual support as a way of making sure they kept an eye on each other.  When John told us of the attack a few days later, he told how Cassie had hopped at some point from the bedroom to lie with her mother, and Jenny joined them later.  Truly a strong family – as I found recently, when they all helped each other.

 

 I looked in on Mary, who was sleeping peacefully, her head to one side as she breathed in and out through her nose.  She reminded me so much of Lisa as she lay there.  She has spent a few nights tied and tape gagged in her bed, with her mother and me taking terms watching, and it was because of this we knew this was possible, provided they were kept calm.

 

As for Zara, I could see Mrs McPhee was still sitting with her, reading and talking to her.  I loved the way she handled them, keeping them quiet and calm, so that it was not that unpleasant an experience for them.

 

I went downstairs and sat in the front room, flicking through the channels to see if there was anything interesting on, but I was too tense.  After that long weekend, this was the first time we had visited, and I was too nervous, waiting for my cell phone to ring.

 

Even so, I almost jumped when I felt the vibration of my phone in my pocket – I always, always keep it on silent mode.  Looking at the number calling, I answered and said “This is Jay.”

 

“Transaction complete – the funds have been placed in the account, and I have torched the audit trail.”

 

“Excellent – and Mister Wilcox?”

 

“Secured and Silenced – your instructions?”

 

“Depart, with our grateful thanks.  Your fee will be deposited in your account within the next three days – and our thanks for your help.”

 

“An honour as always – say goodbye to Mrs McPhee for me.”  The line went dead, and I put my phone back in my pocket.  Smiling, I went quietly up the stairs, and looked again in Zara’s room.  The young girl was fast asleep, lying on her side, ad as I closed the door Mrs McPhee and my other associate stepped out of Denise’s room.

 

“We’re done – is she asleep?”

 

“Like a lamb – so we leave?”

 

I nodded as we walked quietly down the stairs, turning the lights off as we did so, and then out of the front door, making sure we locked it behind us.  Opening the back of the van, Mrs McPhee and the third member of our trio climbed in the back, before I removed my mask and got behind the wheel.

 

I drove to a deserted shopping area, where we dropped off the third member of the party, and then back to the lock-up.  Once there, I got into the back of the van and embraced Yvonne, removing her balaclava and kissing me.

 

“Well, that went well,” she said as she looked at me.  “What time is it?”

 

Looking at my watch, I said “Two – back to the hotel for a late supper?”

 

“Sounds good to me,” she said as she unbuttoned her clothes.  “Just let me get changed and I’ll be right with you.”

 

 

 

 

“Mummy!!  Daddy!!”

 

Lisa and Charlie ran up and hugged me and Yvonne as we came back into the house.  They were still in their bed clothes, while Joanne was apparently still wearing her clothes from last night.

 

“How are my babies,” Yvonne said as she hugged them, “Tell me about everything you did last night.”  As she led them into the front room, I paid Joanne and asked if she wanted a lift back.

 

“No thanks, Mr Williamson,” she said with a smile, “the kids told me you’re going to be moving house soon.  Will you find new babysitters for there?”

 

“Nope – if you’re willing, we’ll add travelling expenses to the fee.  Besides, the kids like and trust you.”

 

“I like them too,” Joanne said, “I’ll just go and say goodbye to them.”  As she left, I smiled and went to put the kettle on, listening as the kids ran up stairs and Yvonne came in, sitting at the table and looking at me.

 

“You look tired,” she eventually said as I brought two coffees over, “Why don’t I take the kids to the cinema this afternoon – give you a chance to rest up.”

 

“I’d appreciate that,” I said quietly and smiled at her.  “I don’t think having them running round the place is a great idea today anyway – what will you take them to see?”

 

“No idea – but we’ll be back by six.  Sound good?”

 

“Sounds good to me,” I said as I drank my coffee, listening to Lisa and Charlie as they squabbled upstairs.  I love my family, but I had a few things to sort out that afternoon.

 

A couple of hours sleep, and I waved Yvonne off in the car before closing the door.  As I did so, there was a ring on a particular mobile phone.

 

“This is Jay,” I said in my Geordie voice.

 

“Hello Mr Edwards,” a Chinese voice said in excellent English, “the transactions have been completed. Our usual fee has been deducted, and the balance distributed as requested.”

 

“Excellent – thank you,” I said and then ended the call.  Starting up the laptop, I checked the accounts, and then called my lawyer.

 

“Alan?  It’s Mark Williamson – I have the mortgage in place.  Let’s get the contracts exchanged.”

 

I smiled as I ended that call – a new home, friendly neighbours.  Life, as they say, was good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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