Mother and Daughter Moments 33
The thing about days when it snows is it makes it very difficult to pay a surprise visit and play a game with the family before robbing them. Difficult – but not totally impossible if you plan carefully.
It was dark, and the grey sky had a strange red tinge, as I walked down the snow covered street. I was wearing a black padded coat, with black boots and the legs of my pants tucked into them, and a black cap on my head as I carried a large shoulder bag – in which was everything I needed
And the focus of my visit? Cath Harper had been in the press recently as the award winning screenwriter of a short film, which revealed she actually came from a very high brow family. She lived modestly, with her ten year old daughter Sandy, but I felt they would appreciate a warm evening playing together.
I turned up the driveway to their house, adjusting my thin black leather gloves, and then looked round before I rang the bell, and then pulled the rolled up part of my hat down.
I smiled as the door was opened by Sandy – the red haired girl was wearing a short sleeved leopard print top, a knee length black skirt with a pink belt round her waist, and knee length black leather boots. She stared at me for a moment, only my eyes and lips showing through my balaclava mask, before I guided her back in and closed the door.
“Hello Sandy,” I whispered, “I’m here to play a game with you and your mommy. I need you to be quiet for the moment, all right?”
“Whhhooooareuuuu,” she whispered as she stood against the wall.
“Oh, I’m just a friend of your mother’s,” I said with a smile as I looked at her, “so I’m pretending to be a robber, and I’m asking you and your mommy to play as hostages. If you do as I say, it’s a great game, and you can tell your friends all about it, all right?”
As Sandy nodded, I took out of my bag a wide roll of white medical tape, and tore a strip off. “Well, you’re my first hostage, so I need you to be quiet so we can surprise your mommy as well. Put your lips together for me, and then when I’ve put this on, I want you to turn round and put your hands behind your back.”
The girl nodded as I pressed a strip of the tape over her mouth, the shape of her lips clear underneath, and then as she turned round I took a length of cord from my bag, and crossed her wrists before I secured them together behind her back. I then said “let’s go and get mommy to play,” Sandy nodding as we walked into the front room.
“Who was at the door,” Cath said as she looked up – and then stood up as she saw her daughter, tape over her mouth, her hands behind her back, and then me come in. “Hello Cath,” I said with a smile, “time for the surprise game of hostages. Sandy’s already playing, and now it’s your turn.”
“Cuupllswwlllmmme,” Sandy said as she looked over. Her mother was wearing a round necked taupe top with elbow length sleeves, faded jeans with the legs tucked into knee length black suede boots that had a thin heel, and large glasses that framed her face, her dark hair falling over her shoulders.
She stood for a minute, and then nodded as she said “surprise Sandy – I’ll be like you in a few minutes, and then we’ll play together, all right?”
“Good,” I said with a smile as Sandy sat down, looking behind her at her wrists, as I put my bag down and took some more cord out. “Please, come over here, and I’ll secure your wrists before you sit next to Sandy.”
She nodded as she came to me, and allowed me to bind her wrists behind her back, before she sat next to Sandy and kissed her head. “So, we’ll stay here, and watch some television,” she said, Sandy nodding as I said “I need to make sure you both stay here. Can you please put your feet on the coffee table, crossing your ankles?”
I watched as Cath did that, Sandy crossing her ankles in front of her as she could not reach the table, and both of them watched as I secured their ankles tightly together, and then their legs below their knees.
“Now then,” I said as I stood behind Cath, “I need to make it a little more difficult for you to move your arms.” Sandy watched as I took a longer length of rope, and tied her upper body, the two bands framing her chest as I forced her arms into her sides.
As I tied the ropes off, Sandy mumbled “wnntthttswulll.”
“Does she have to,” Cath said as she wriggled round, and looked over her shoulder at me.
“I think she does,” I said as I took out a second length of rope, and tied Sandy’s arms to her body as well, the young girl wriggling round and nodding as she looked at her mother.
“Now then,” I said quietly, “I’m going to go for a walk round the house, but you need to be quiet now as well.” Tearing a ling strip of tape from the roll, I pressed it over her lips as well, Cath nodding as she said “Ehhcnntttlknwwefrrr” and Sandy giggling.
I left them in the room for a few minutes, and then returned to see Sandy was lying with her head on her mother’s lap, so I left them there and made my exit as the snow started to fall again…
There is a particular Christian sect which requires the women to wear a headscarf, to preserve their modesty. Not like a full Hijab, but covering their hair. Many of them are based in the Midlands – such as the family I was planning to visit in Wolverhampton this particular day.
It was a tree lined avenue I was parked in, as I checked my rucksack and then stepped out of the car, looking round as I walked up a short path and round the side of a semi-detached house. As I did so, I slipped the stocking down over my head, and then opened the rear door before I slipped in.
It was an old-fashioned kitchen, with wooden furniture and an old stove, and as I looked round I wondered what I would find – the father of the family was a successful dealer in the stock market.
I had to step to the side, however, as I heard footsteps and waited. The woman who walked in was in her late thirties, and dressed in an old-fashioned manner – a long pinafore dress in a chintz pattern of grey and red, with a long sleeved purple blouse underneath, and long brown leather boots with a square heel. It was the headscarf she was wearing that was unusual – it was more like a shawl, made of the same colour material as her blouse with a darker crimson trim, and tied over her hair as the ends hung down in front of her.
I watched as he put a glass down, and then walked behind her, putting one arm round her waist and the other hand over her mouth as she reached up and tried to pull my arm down. “Keep calm,” I whispered as she struggled in my grip, “if you do as I say, nobody gets hurt, and you spend some quality time with your children.”
I held her for a few more minutes, before she stopped struggling and nodded. “Good,” I said quietly, “if I take my hand away, will you be quiet?” As she nodded again, I took my hand away and said “thank you – slowly, put your hands behind your back.”
“Who are you,” she whispered quietly as I held her wrists while I took my rucksack off, removed a length of cord, and started to bind them together behind her back.
“A burglar – what is your name?”
“Penelope,” she whispered as I pulled the cord tighter round her wrists.
“All right Penelope – I know you have a six year old daughter. Is she at home at the moment?” As Penelope nodded, I said “anyone else?”
“No – I will do whatever you say, just don’t hurt us…”
“I have no desire to,” I said as I tied the rope off, “but I need to make sure neither of you can raise the alarm, so we’re going to pretend you are playing a game.”
She turned and looked at me, as she said “you… You’re the Games Player?”
“that’s right – so we make this a game, and everyone stays happy. Now, shall we go and start?”
Penelope nodded as we walked down the corridor, and she said “Holly, I want you to listen to me,” as we walked into the front room. Holly was sitting on the floor, drawing on a sheet of paper, but when she looked up I saw she had the same eclectic taste in clothes as her mother. She was wearing a yellow spotted coat with green trim, over a dress that had a white top and a green skirt with pictures of flowers on it. She was also wearing a pair of pink leggings, blue socks with a yellow trim, and black slippers shaped like a kitten at the front – but she had a pink kitten head on her left knee, a larger yellow one on her coat, and her hair was covered with a white scarf that had multi-coloured heads on it, the ends knotted together under her chin.
“Mummy – who is this man? He looks funny?”
“He is Holly – he’s come to help us play a special game. He’s going to pretend to rob us, and we need to wait for Jesus to send someone to rescue us. We can watch television while we play – if that’s all right?”
“Of course it is,” I said with a smile. “Hello Holly – ready to play the game?”
“Can I go to the toilet first?”
I nodded as I said “sure – if you will allow me to get your mummy started. Can you do that?” As she nodded, I said to Penelope “have a seat at the end of the couch, and cross your ankles for me.”
“What are you doing,” Holly said as I knelt down, and took some cord from my pocket.
“Well, for the game I need to make sure you and Mummy stay on the couch – so I’m making sure she can’t move off,” I said with a smile as I crossed her ankles, Holly watching as I secured her ankles tightly together. Penelope smiled at her daughter as she said “it doesn’t hurt Holly – you go with the man and do what you need to do, and remember to wash your hands.”
“Are we keeping our scarves on Mummy?”
“Oh yes,” I said with a smile as I picked up Penelope’s handbag, and took out her mobile phone as she watched. I then took Holly’s hand in my gloved one, and took her to the downstairs toilet.
When she came out, she saw the cord in my hands, and said “are you going to do to me what you did to Mummy?”
“That’s right – so will you stand in front of me please, Holly, and put your hands behind your back?” The young girl nodded as she did so, and I secured her wrists together, Holly wriggling her fingers as she said “it feels funny.”
“It doesn’t hurt though – right?”
“Right,” she said as I tied the rope off, and we walked back into the front room, where Penelope was twisting her legs round. She looked at us, and smiled as she said “so what now, Mister Robber?”
“Well,” I said as I took my rucksack off, and took longer lengths of rope out, “first things first – I want to make sure neither of you can move your arms as well.” Taking the first length, I tied it round Holly’s arm below her elbow, and then tied it round her arms and body in a double figure of eight, locking them to her sides as Penelope watched.
“It’s snug Mummy,” she said as she twisted round, while I doubled over a longer length, and walked behind Penelope, wrapping it round her upper body as I secured her arms to her sides. She wriggled round when I had finished, and I said to Holly “right – can you sit next to your mummy now?”
“Sure,” she said as she pushed herself up and back, while I took some more cord and tied her ankles together side by side.
“Look Mummy – I can’t get off the couch now,” she said as she wriggled round, and I used another length of cord to tie her legs together below her knees. Looking at Penelope as she watched Holly, I took one more length of cord, and folded her skirt back slightly so that I could secure her legs together, and then put her skirt back down.
“now, the last bit is I need to make sure you both stay quiet,” I said as I took from my bag a roll of red medical tape – the type that does not stick to clothing. “I’ll wrap this round your heads, and it will keep your mouths covered,” I said as I peeled the end free, and then wrapped it tightly round Penelope’s head several times, Holly watching before her mother said “shllrhhtthelleee.”
“You sound funny Mummy,” she giggled.
“So will you in a minute,” I said as I gagged her in the same way, and then helped her to lie down with her head on her mother’s lap, before I turned the television on, and went to search the house.
When I came back in, Holly was looking at her mother, then she looked at me as she said “Fnnmkkuunusturrrunnrrr.” I could see Penelope smile as she looked at her daughter, before she rolled over and looked at the television, and I took my leave…
Families come in all shapes and sizes – I mean that not in a derogatory sense, but it is true. As I was reminded when, on behalf of Steve, I paid a visit to the home of Moira James, a well-known newsreader, after we read of her awards at a dinner.
Moira lived in North London, with her daughter and two grandchildren – so I had to be prepared for the prospect of all four of them been resident when I called. So, with that in mind, I had a fully equipped backpack with me when I walked up the driveway of her house, and slipped to the back door, making sure my gloves and mask were in place before I quietly let myself in.
It was a small hallway I found myself in, with doors going off to the sides, and as I walked along most of them were empty – except for the front room, where I saw her granddaughter sitting. Her name was Delilah, and she was six years old, a black cardigan over the red tartan dress she was wearing, and black slippers on her feet. She had long red-brown hair with blonde streaks, and was reading an Enid Blyton book.
A book she dropped to the floor when she saw me standing there, the stocking covering my face, and whispered “oh my…”
“Hello Delilah,” I said quietly as I came in and closed the door, “I’m here to play a very special game with you and your family. Would you like to hear about it?”
She looked at me and nodded slowly as I sat next to her, and explained what I was going to do…
When Moira James walked in a few minutes later, she was surprised to see Delilah sitting on the couch, her wrists tied together in front of her with some cord, her ankles and legs secured in the same way, and her wrists to her legs, while a strip of white medical tape covered her mouth.
“Hlllgreeeenwhrrpluynurghm,” she mumbled as she twisted round, and then Moira heard me behind her saying “it’s time to play the hostage game, Mrs James – the one you booked me for?”
The woman was in her late fifties, with carefully dyed red-brown hair, and wore a red jumper with a brooch on the front, black trousers and black leather ankle boots. She looked at her granddaughter, with the pearls string round her neck, and nodded as she said “that’s right dear – I’m going to play along now.”
“Excellent,” I said as I guided her hands behind her back, and used some cord to secure her wrists together while Delilah wriggled on the couch. “Now, go and sit next to your granddaughter, while I make sure we have some privacy.”
As Moira went and sat next to Delilah, I walked to the windows and drew the curtains over – not noticing the car that was beginning to turn into the driveway. Instead, I said “so, the game is that I am going to pretend to rob your grandmother, Delilah, and I need to make sure you both stay together when I have finished. In a little while, I’ll take your grandmother for a walk, and you can watch television until she…”
I heard the young boy call out, and walked quickly round, putting my hand over Moira’s mouth as Delilah giggled. A moment later, I saw her grandson Gerald walk in, wearing a long sleeved blue shirt with thin white stripes, jeans and trainers – and his hair dyed with blonde and light blue streaks.
“What do you… Granny?”
I put my finger to my lips and beckoned for Gerald to come in as we all heard the front door close, and then Moira’s daughter came in. Mary was in her late twenties – Gerald was eleven – but a total contrast to Moira, who was small and petite. Mary was tall and large – very large, if you will forgive the phrase. She also had long red-brown hair, and was wearing a white and cream wool top, jeans and brown Cowboy boots.
“Remain calm,” I said as I looked at them, my gloved hand over Moira’s mouth. “Your mother and your daughter have started to play a special family game, and they want you both to join in – don’t you?”
Delilah and Moira both nodded as Gerald said “but you’re tied them up!”
“Yes I have – and it’s your turn now. If your mother will sit on the chair, I want you to come to me and put your hands together in front of yourself.” Gerald looked at her mother, who nodded as she sat down, and then walked over, watching as I took my hand from his grandmother’s mouth and started to bind his wrists together.
“I know dear,” Moira said to Mary, “we need to play as well, you understand? Delilah was started before I was.”
I glanced over as Mary looked at her daughter, then at me and nodded as I said “great – I want you to go and sit on the floor in front of the couch, while I make sure your mother is going to stay in the chair.”
As Gerald sat down, I took more rope from my bag, and asked Mary to cross her wrists, then made sure they were secured together in front of her before I used a longer length of rope to secure her arms to her sides, above and below her chest. As I did this, Delilah looked at her grandmother and said “whllsshddthtuum?”
“I think she might do that to all of us in a way dear,” Moira said with a smile as I tightened the rope, and then knelt down, crossing Mary’s ankles and securing them together before I tied her wrists down to her knees. I then knelt down and tied Gerald’s ankles and legs as well, and his wrists to his knees before I turned him round and sat Delilah down behind him. Their mother and grandmother watched as I tied their upper bodies together, around their waist and their arms, before I taped over Gerald’s mouth, as well as Mary’s.
“shall we go for a walk,” I said as I helped Moira to stand up, turning the television on as the other three watched us leave. “They’re just going to sit there and pretend they are hostages, aren’t you?”
All three nodded as I invited Moira to take me to her valuables. Before I took her back, however, I secured her arms to her upper body as I had done with her daughter, and covered her mouth with medical tape.
When I came back in, all three were still there, watching as I sat Moira on the couch, bound her ankles and legs, and then helped her to lie down as the television played in the background. I checked their ropes, and then said I was going to pretend to leave them to see who got free first – before I really made my escape…
There once was an au pair, a fashion loving tween girl, and a mother, and they all walked into a robbery…
I know, I know, bad joke – but that’s what happened when I met Iris Helmstrom, her daughter, and their live-in a few weeks ago. Let me tell you the story…
Mrs Helmstrom was a fashion designer – not one of the BIG ones, but successful in her own right, and lived in Hampstead with her daughter Eva and their live-in au pair, a young woman named Carla. Eva was twelve, and often went to shows with her mother, so she was steeped in the culture. Also, with a name like that, you would expect them to be of blonde Nordic descent – far from it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. It was early afternoon, during a half term break, when I drove up to the front of their detached house, and got out. There was a gated entrance, but I wasn’t going in that way – I walked round and along the back alley, and then used my lock picks to open the gate to their rear garden. That I managed, and then I crossed the large lawn and looked in the kitchen window.
Carla was there, preparing some food. She was in her early twenties, with short copper coloured hair, wearing a pink t-shirt, blue denim jeans, and a pair of short black leather boots. I watched for a moment, before she left the room, and I was able to slip in unnoticed.
I pulled the stocking down over my head, and walked slowly down the corridor to where I could hear music playing. Looking in, I could see Eva dancing round, her brown hair falling to her waist as she did so. She was wearing a pink hooded sweatshirt, and as she turned round I could see the word GIRLS above smaller writing in white on her chest, and a Panda face at the bottom. But she was also wearing black tights and thigh high black leather boots that hugged her thin legs.
Smiling, I slipped in and closed the door, watching as she kept dancing – and then stopped as she noticed me standing there.
“Hi,” I said with a smile, “you must be Eva. Your mum asked me to come and make sure you play a game with her and anyone else here?”
“what sort of game? A robbery game?”
“that’s right,” I said with a smile, “how did you guess?”
“You… You’re the Games Player, aren’t you?”
I nodded, smiling under my mask as I said “yes, yes I am. So what game would you like to play?”
Eva smiled as she said “I’m the teen model you had to secure to steal her earnings – pity her minder and mother also got caught as well.” Turning round, she put her hands behind her back, crossing her wrists as she looked over her shoulder and said “I always wondered what this would feel like.”
“Well, it feels like this,” I said as I slipped my rucksack off, and took some rope. Something told me she would appreciate joining the TTT club, so I started by moving her hands so her palms were together, and then securing her elbows together with the first length of rope, and then her wrists.
“Oh my – that is tight, but nice,” Eva said as I took a longer length of rope, and wrapped it round her upper body, forming two bands so that her arms were pinned to her back and held against her. As I tied that rope off, we both heard footsteps, so I put my hand over her mouth from behind and said “play along now.”
As she grunted and nodded, the door opened and Carla came in. she looked at Eva, and at me, before she slowly raised her hands and said “please don’t hurt me?”
“I won’t,” I said quietly, “if you play the game Eva’s mother has arranged. Lie face down on the long couch, hands on your head.” We watched as she did so, and then I told Eva to sit on the floor. As she did so, I took three lengths of cord from my back, and started by crossing and securing her ankles tightly together as she watched. I then secured her legs below her knees, and tied her thighs together as well, each band cinched between her legs, the leather squeaking as she wriggled when I had finished.
“Don’t move, don’t say a word, or your minder gets hurt,” I said to her, and as she nodded I took more rope, and crossed Carla’s wrists behind her back before I tied them tightly together. I then crossed and tied her ankles together, and secured her legs below her knees, before I helped her to sit up.
“Are you all right,” she said as she looked at Eva, while I started to bind her arms to her sides, the rope sitting above and below her chest,
“I am – this bad robber is going to steal all my earnings as a model,” Eva said as she wriggled round, while I finished binding the au pair. I then took from my bag a small brown sponge, compressed it in my gloved hand, and said “all right miss – open your mouth, and once we have you and Madame here quiet, I’ll make sure you both stay right where you are.”
As Carla opened her mouth, I pushed the sponge in, and then wrapped white medical tape round her head to keep it in. Walking to Eva, I winked at her as I pushed another sponge into her mouth, and then wrapped the tape round, sealing her lips as her hair was held against her neck.
Finally, I helped her to lie face down, her head on a pillow, before I bent her legs right back and secured her ankles to her chest ropes, the heels of her boots at her back. She nodded to show she was all right, then turned her head and watched as I hogtied Carla, and then slipped out.
It was while I was searching through the downstairs office that I heard the front door open and close, and the sound of Iris calling out “Are you home?” When she didn’t get an answer, I could hear her walking in my direction, as I stood to the side of the door.
I watched as she walked in, her red-brown hair cut short, wearing a sheer grey dress with a tiger print, black tights with a dot pattern, and knee length black patent leather boots. She put her bag down, turned round and saw me, and her eyes widened under her glasses as she said “oh my god…”
“No screams, no shouting,” I said quietly, “your daughter and the au pair are already secured and quiet, but they have been told this is a game you have organised. Play along with that, and everyone will be just fine.”
“You’re robbing me, aren’t you,” she said quiet, and as I nodded she said “all right then – they are unharmed?”
“Secured, but unharmed. Now then,” I continued as I took some rope from my bag, “kindly turn and cross your wrists behind your back.”
As she did this, I secured her wrists tightly together, while saying “now, I found your safe – please spare yourself the cost of a clean-up, and give me the combination.” She was most helpful, as I secured her arms to her sides, and cinched the binding on both sides.
“Now,” I said as I squashed a red ball in my hand, “open wide, and I will take you to them – after I empty our safe of anything I can use…”
“Hlllmmmmmmkudnppeedd,” Eva said as she wriggled on the floor, Carla grunting as I led Iris into the room. I had already wrapped white tape round her head, as I sat her in a second chair, and secured her ankles and legs while the other two wriggled round.
“Now, I will pretend to leave,” I said with a smile, “but I will return to take the model to my lair, so stay right there.” Eva giggled as she looked at me, her mother’s eyes wide at how tightly she was tied, but she then said “hmmlhrrhtmmee” as I closed the door, and made my escape…
I went with my niece a while back to see Matilda on stage – complete with the horrific Miss Trunchbull. Well, a recent visit turned into a slight adaptation of that story…
To set the scene, I need to explain that I had to break our no friends or relations rule, because the daughter I was visiting knows my niece. That’s as far as it got, but Kasey is ten, and had told my niece she felt her mummy needed a surprise. Given her Mummy is the headmistress of a local private school, how could I refuse?
The afternoon I chose to visit, I could see Kasey in her front garden. She had long blonde hair, and was wearing a cream coloured jumper, spangly black and silver shirts, white tights and mid-calf black leather boots, and she was sitting waiting for someone.
I was checking my rucksack when that someone came. Two actually – two girls who jumped out of a car as Kasey ran up to hug them. The smaller of the two had blonde hair, and wore a sheepskin jerkin over a leopard print top, jeans and short brown boots with a fur trim. The other young girl had long brown hair, which fell over the shoulders of her long white cardigan. That was over a black top, jeans and long brown fringed suede boots.
I watched as they went into the house, waited a few minutes, and then got out, dressed in my brown leather jacket, leggings and boots, as I made my way to the rear of the building…
There was nobody in the kitchen, as I walked in, the stocking pulled down over my head and my gloves on. I walked slowly down the corridor, and then heard some sounds behind a door. Slowly, I opened it to see the three girls, sitting on a couch and watching Matilda – one of my favourite films.
So when I closed the door, and Kasey saw me, she stared for a moment and said “oh my… Suzie, Bobbi, it’s the Games Player!”
“That’s right – you said you wanted your mother to have a surprise, Kasey, and she’s going to get one – with the help of you three.” I could see a dining table with six chairs at the far side of the room, as I said “let’s play a game of robbers. I want each of you to get a chair and bring it in front of the television – pause the film for the moment, and I’ll start it again soon.”
“It’s really her? We’re going to be tied up and gagged,” the smaller blonde girl said.
“That’s right Suzie,” Kasey said, “but she won’t hurt us, and it’ll be a big surprise for mummy. Come on – let’s do as she says.” I took my rucksack off as the three girls walked over, and looked at them.
“So you like Matilda?” All three nodded as I said “well, it’s time for school. I want you all to take your boots off, and sit back in the chair – Miss Trunchbull is going to punish you all.”
“And how are you going to do that,” the brown haired Bobbi said as she sat down.
“I start by getting all three of you to put your hands in the air,” I said, and as they did so I took a roll of silver tape from my bag, and wound it round their waists and the chair backs to hold them in place. I then did the same round their tummies, before I asked them to hold the sides of their chairs, and taped their wrists to the wood.
“We’re stuck,” Suzie said as she tried to move.
“that’s the idea,” I said as I taped her ankles together, then her legs below her knees, so that she swung them over the edge of the seat while I secured the other two girls. It was as I tore the tape off and smoothed it down over Kasey’s legs that I heard an older woman say “do you girls want a drink?”
“You know what to say when she comes in,” I whispered as I looked at the screen, the three girls nodding as the door opened, and her mother came in. She had short dark hair, and was wearing a blue jumper over a white tie neck blouse with white polka dots, a thin black leather belt round her waist. She was also wearing a knee length black skirt, and black knee length boots – and a confused expression as she said “girls?”
“We’ve been captured, Miss Trunchbull,” the girls called out as I covered her mother’s mouth with my gloved hand, and said “so this is Miss Trunchbull – does she need punishing girls?”
“YES,” they all called out and giggled as I whispered “play along – no sense in making a scene, right?”
She nodded as I pointed to the chairs, and said “bring one over and sit opposite the girls, hands on your head.” The three watched as she did that, and I used the tape to secure her waist and stomach to the chair back, and then her wrists to the back support.
“I said you were all naughty girls,” she said in her best Pam Ferris voice as I removed her boots and taped her ankles to the front legs of the chair, before I said “time for you all to be quiet. Put your lips together.”
I used only duct tape in the girls, but palmed a sponge and put in in Kasey’s mother’s mouth before I taped over her lips. Then I left them to watch the film while I took some nice things…
I guess it was a bit strange, but it happened to me and my family, and I wanted to write it down in my diary. After all, it’s not every day you find your sister tied up, a masked man tying your mother up, and discovering they were pretending it was a game to keep Cissie happy?
Bobby – my eight year old brother – and I had gone to deliver a parcel for Mum. She works part time as an Avon lady, but had to stay at home because Cissie was ill. She’s twelve – and my twin sister, and was wearing a white Varsity sweatshirt and black joggers. As for Mum, she had on a grey checked blouse, grey jeans with the legs tucked into a pair of long brown leather riding boots, and her usual smile.
Anyway – I had put on a red t-shirt with a Hockey motif, over a long sleeved camel coloured top, grey jeans and trainers, while Bobby was wearing a black t-shirt with a logo on the front, grey jeans with the cuffs turned up, and his own trainers. We were planning to kick a ball round the garden, when I heard Cissie sneezing, and Mum came into the kitchen. She said she had a parcel that needed to be delivered that morning, but she could not leave my sis alone, so asked if Bobby and I would take it?
The address was about twenty minutes’ walk away, but it was a nice day, so we both left the house and walked off. Looking back now, a few days later, I remember seeing a car parked on the street a little way down – nothing special, just an ordinary car, and we thought nothing of it.
It was about three quarters of an hour later when we walked back into the house, into the front room – and discovered that Cissie and Mum were not alone. There was a man in the room as well, wearing a black leather jacket, black jeans and a jumper, black trainers, black gloves – and a black stocking pulled down over his head.
As for Cissie, she was sitting on the couch, with her arms behind her back – and the man was standing behind Mum, who also had her hands behind her back. He looked over her shoulder, smiled under the stocking and said we were just in time to join in the game Mum and Cissie were playing.
Bobby looked at me, wondering what was going on, and I looked at Mum – and she just nodded as she said this was a man that she and Dad had had hired to pretend to be a robber, so that we could all play a game of Robbers together. And it was going to be a realistic game, so we were all going to pretend it was a real robbery and play along.
Did I buy it? Not for a second – I realised this was a real robbery, but Bobby looked scared, and I didn’t want to upset him or Cissie – so I said we would play as well, but the man would have to let me do whatever needed to be done to Bobby, and then he could do the same to me.
He nodded as he said that was fine, as Bobby walked round and looked behind Mum. I came as well, and saw he had crossed and tied her wrists together with white rope, taking the rope around and between her arms so they were locked together.
I guessed Cissie was in the same position, and I recognised he had used something similar to how we had been taught at Scouts to tie two sticks together, so I looked at Bobby and said I would do the same to him. There was a rucksack on the floor, and as the man took another length of rope out Mum said we would all play the game together at the end, and help each other.
He nodded as I took his hands behind his back and crossed his wrists, the masked man watching as I doubled the rope over, and then tied his wrists together in the way he had done – tightening it by taking the ends between his arms as well as he wriggled his fingers.
Mum asked if it hurt, and Bobby shook his head as Cissie sneezed again, and said it didn’t hurt for her either. Bobby then went and sat next to her, and Mum on the other side of her, as the man said he was then going to make sure they really could not move their arms.
He took from the rucksack three longer length of ropes, and handed me one as he doubled over a second one. We both went behind the couch, and I watched as he passed the rope around Cissie’s arms and body, pulling it tight below her chest and then winding it round above and below. I did the same thing to Bobby as Mum talked to both of them, and I realised we were going to be left unable to really move our arms when he had finished.
Bobby wriggled round a little as I secured his arms as well, and I whispered not to worry – we’d all be the same in a little while. He nodded as I made two bands on his chest as well, and then tied the ropes off behind his back. The masked man handed me two shorter lengths of rope, and told me to tie them round the bands, between his arms and body, as he did the same to Cissie.
I then watched as he did the same to Mum – well, not quite. Rather than using two shorter lengths, he took the rope under one arm, up and around the back of her neck, and under the other arm. IT looked tight, as her blouse stretched over her forced out chest…
She saw me looking at her, and shook her head as she and the others sat back. The man then took more rope, and told both Cissie and Bobby to cross their ankles. As they did so, he knelt down, told me to do the same, and we tied their ankles in the same way as their wrists were tied.
I looked up at Bobby as he twisted round, and smiled as we did the same thing to their legs below their knees, so that their legs were secured as well. Mum smiled at me as I stood up, as the man said Mum was going to take a walk with him round the house, so it was time for me to be secured as well.
I nodded as he took my hands behind my back, and I felt the ropes on my wrists as they were secured together just as tightly as the others. He also tied my arms to my sides in the same way, before I sat down next Mum, and he tied my ankles and my legs below my knees. The three of us looked at each other as he said if we promised to keep quiet, he would turn the television on while he took Mum round the house, and pretended to steal her valuables.
I looked at the others and promised we would be quiet, if he didn’t hurt Mum. He smiled at that – after all, I was playing along – and turned the television on before he helped Mum to stand up, and they walked out of the front room.
We all started wriggling round, trying to find some way to get free, but the knots were too tight – and I realised I had done a good job on Bobby as well, as he looked at me and asked what we were going to do.
I suggested watching SpongeBob Squarepants, which had just come on, so we all sat back and watched, me feeling my hands against my back as I did so.
When they came back after half an hour, the masked man helped her to sit on a chair beside us, and then we all watched as she crossed her ankles, and he tied them together in the same way as all of us. Cissie laughed as her boots squeaked as they rubbed together, Mum laughing as well as he tied her legs together below her knees, each band tightened between her legs as well.
Looking at us all, the man then said he needed to make sure we could not raise the alarm again – just as Cissie sneezed. He took a hankie and wiped her nose, as Mum said she needed to be able to sneeze as freely as possible.
He looked at Cissie and nodded, as he took out of his rucksack a white headscarf. Rolling it into a band, he told Cissie to open her mouth as wide as possible, and then pulled the band between her lips, taking it into her mouth and tying the band round her head so that her hair fell over the knot. As she looked at me and Bobbie, she closed her lips over the band, and mumbled something we could not make out.
Mum said thank you – I could guess why – before he folded a piece of cloth in his gloved hands, and told her to open her mouth. Bobby and I watched as he put the cloth in her mouth, and then waited as she closed her lips before he tore a length of white tape off a roll, and pressed it firmly over her mouth, the shape of her lips visible underneath.
Bobby asked if she was all right, and as Mum nodded I watched the masked man fold two more pieces of cloth. I told him to do me first, and as I opened my mouth he pushed the cloth in. It felt – and tasted – funny on my tongue as I closed my lips over it, and then he covered my mouth with some of the tape. It pulled a little on my face, but it didn’t hurt, and I nodded to Bobby as he got the same thing.
The man then said he wanted to make it a contest to try and escape, as he helped me and Bobby to lie face down on the floor, and then pulled our ankles back so that he tied them to the ropes round our chests. We both wriggled round as he lifted Cassie onto the other chair, and tucked her legs under her before he tied her ankles to her chest ropes as well.
Finally, he helped Mum to hop over to the couch we had been sitting on, and then lie face down before her ankles were tied like ours. He smiled at all of us, and said he was going to pretend to leave, and we could start to try and get free after the next cartoon had started.
Little chance of that – we were too tightly tied, and as the programs continued, I could see him pick up his bag and leave the house. We struggled for a while, making it a contest, as Cissie sneezed and then smiled, the dark patch growing between her lips, and we three tried to find a knot.
Eventually, Bobby and I rolled back to back, and I started to pick on the knot holding his ankles to his back. I only managed to get him to stretch his legs out before Dad got back, finding us all sweaty, tired, and wondering how to explain what happened…
As Ramadan is starting, I want to tell you about a recent visit to a family, where yet again I had to be sure cultural sensibilities were followed – and the young daughter was still going to have fun!
I knew the mother from the school my niece goes to – they run a very profitable property rental business, and she lived with her husband and their ten year old daughter on the outskirts of town. They did not flaunt their wealth – both were usually very casually dressed, as was her sister, who lived with them.
It was a Friday evening when I was parked behind their house, and I could see the light on in the kitchen – but once it was turned off, I got out and made my way across the back lawn. I was wearing a black jacket and pants, with soft boots and gloves – and I had a black scarf tied over my head as well as the stocking mask I had put on.
As I slipped in, I could hear more talking down the corridor, and I walked slowly along, before taking a look inside. The two older women were sitting watching television – the lady of the house was wearing a Harris tweed short jacket over a long sleeved yellow top, ripped jeans and knee length black leather boots, with a black scarf wrapped around her head.
Her sister was wearing a long sleeved peach peasant style top, with faded jeans and black felt ankle boots, a red and peach scarf covering her head. I decided to leave them to their talk for a few minutes, and slowly walked up the stairs to see if I could find the daughter.
I found her in her room, lying on her bed and reading a book. She had dark hair, cut short, and was wearing a black t-shirt, a denim skirt and baseball sneakers designed like the American flag. She didn’t hear me as I closed the door, and said “hello there.”
As she heard me, she rolled over and looked at me, and then said “Who are you lady?”
“Me? I’ve come to play a game with you and your mum and aunt. It’s a very special game, like cops and robbers – except I play the robber, and I pretend to rob you.” She looked at me, as she said “you mean you pretend to rob us? Does that mean you’ll be like the bad guys in films, and stop us moving or talking?”
“Well, that is what I want to do,” I said with a smile, “does that scare you?”
“No – I just don’t want it to hurt any of us.
“I promise you, it doesn’t hurt,” I said with a smile as I took my rucksack off. “We’ll start with you, and then get Mummy and Auntie playing. Would you like your hands in front of you, or behind you?”
She looked at me for a minute, and then put her wrists together in front of her, watching as I took some white rope and tied them tightly together. “There – does it hurt,” I said with a smile under the stocking, as she shook her head and tried to twist them round.
“Now what are you going to do,” she said as I took more rope out.
“Tie your arms to your sides, make it more difficult for you to escape,” I replied as I tied the rope round her arms and stomach, in a double figure of eight, and then tied another length round her upper arms. As she wriggled round, I smiled and said “there – now I’ll take care of your ankles and legs later, but I think it’s time we got Mummy and Auntie playing. Before we go down, however, I need to make sure you stay quiet – do you have a cold, or suffer from asthma?”
She shook her head as I smiled, and reached into the bag. “Good – open wide now…”
“Is that you Angel,” her mother said as the door to the room opened, and her daughter walked in – with me behind her as he said “Thhmtplheeeemmem.” The white tape over her mouth moved with her lips, but that and the sponge I had put in her mouth kept her muffled.
“Hello,” I said as they stared at her bound wrists and arms, “I started the game you planned with your daughter, and now it is your turn to be the victims of the Games Player. No noise, no attempts to raise the alarm – just play along with her, all right?”
The two women looked at each other and nodded as the daughter sat down. “Good – I want you both to sit down, back to back, and put your hands on top of your heads.”
“Are you all right,” Mummy said as she looked at her daughter, who nodded as she watched them both sit down and put their hands up, while I took a coil of rope from my bag and tied the two women together around their waists. I then made them put their hands together in prayer, before I tied their wrists together, cinching the binding between their wrists as well.
“Sit on the couch please,” I said to the young girl as she sat down, watching as I crossed her mother’s ankles and tied them together, then secured her legs below her knees, the leather squeaking as her boots rubbed together. Bending her legs, I then tied her wrists to her knees, and then did the same to her aunty.
I then went to her, and the two women watched as I crossed and tied her ankles snugly together as well, and then her legs below her knees, before I helped her to lie down and tied her wrists to her legs. She rolled onto her side and watched as I made sure a compressed sponge ball went into the mouths of her mother and aunt, and then wrapped white tape round their heads, holding them together and covering their mouths.
And that would have been that – I would have left them to play for a while, search the house and then leave – except there were unexpected visitors as a third woman came in, wearing a grey sweatshirt, ripped jeans and brown leather boots. She had a seven year old girl with her, also wearing a grey sweatshirt and jeans, but with mid-calf black boots. While her mother had a black hijab on, she had a blue and brown scarf folded into a band and tied over her head, the bow on top of her forehead.
She looked at my captives, then at me as I said it was a surprise to see them, but they were in time to join in the game as well. The girl looked at her daughter, who nodded as she wriggled round, as I told her mother to sit on the armchair, and put her hands on her head.
I told the little girl to put her hands together in front of her, and tied them together with rope, before we walked over and she stood beside the chair while I secured her mother’s ankles and legs together. I then sat her on her mother’s lap, and secured her ankles and legs, before tying her ankles to her mother’s legs, and then her wrists to her legs.
Her mummy then put her arms round her, as I crossed and tied the woman’s wrists together, and tied them to her daughter’s – and then gagged them with sponge balls and tape as well, before I left them and searched the house as they tried to talk to each other.
When I came back, the young girl had fallen asleep, the tape showing her mouth as her mother looked at me, and the others. I told them to try and escape, and left them there, knowing they would be free by sundown…
The joy of gardening is something that eludes me, but I understand why it is a family thing – and it provided a them to fit a recent visit to play my games.
The target owned a large out of town gardening store – a family firm, which he took over from his father. He had a thirty five year old wife called May, and a nine year old daughter called Mindy. And on the day in question, I knew from my research they would be working in their home garden while he was at the store.
It was a warm June day as I pulled into their driveway. I was not in my normal black for this occasion, but in an old green jumper, faded jeans and black wellington boots. But I had the stocking mask under my brown beanie, and black gloves on, as well as my usual rucksack. I had a different type of rope this time – hemp rope that looked a bit like twine, but would hold firm for what I had in mind.
Getting out, I looked round and then walked along the side of the two level house, listening carefully to the sounds that were getting louder. Looking round, I saw Mindy kneeling on the ground, using a trowel to put some soil round some small plants on a border of the large garden. Her blonde hair was pulled back on one side in a ponytail, and wore a long sleeved grey top, peach coloured pants and purple wellington boots.
Her mother was sitting on a recliner, laughing as she talked to Mindy. She wore a long sleeved black top with panels cut out of the sleeves, jeans and long green wellies, with dark glasses covering her eyes and her own blonde hair pulled back in her own ponytail.
Mindy then stood up, brushed down her legs, and went into the house – giving me a chance to begin playing. Reaching up, I pulled down the stocking to cover my head, found the starting pistol and felt it in my hand, before I walked out and said “good morning – please, stay where you are and keep your hands where I can see them.”
May stared at me, and whispered “oh my god…”
“No shouting, no screaming,” I said as I smiled and sat in the seat next to her, “just sit quietly and listen. This is a robbery, but I have no desire to hurt you and your daughter, even if I have to make sure neither of you can raise the alarm. So, I need you to do something for me.”
“And that is?”
“Pretend this is a game arranged for you and your daughter – it’s a very realistic game, but you are both playing together, and you’re both going to have fun together. If you do that, she will not be afraid and she will be safe. Understand?”
May slowly nodded as I looked at the recliner. It had two arm rests, and the leg support was slightly up. Putting my rucksack down, I said “I presume she has gone to the toilet?” When May nodded, I said “good” and opened my rucksack, taking out a length of rope. “Kindly put your hands together in front of yourself in prayer.”
“Why? Oh my god – out here?”
“It is a fenced garden, this is a detached house – and we can make you both quite comfortable. Now, if you would?”
When Mindy came out of the house a short while later, she looked at her mother and said “Mummy?”
“Mindy, angel, we’re going to play a very special game – it’s called robbers, and I’ve asked a friend to play it with us. Say hello to Mr Robber.”
She slowly turned round to see me smiling, as I said “hello Mindy – I’m going to pretend to be a robber, and make sure you and your mummy cannot stop me.” She looked again at May as she held up her bound wrists, and said “oh wow – will he do that to me as well?”
“He will indeed – he’ll do to you exactly what he’s doing to me, so I want you to be quiet and let him do it, all right?”
As Mindy nodded, I took some more rope from my bag and said “good – sit on the recliner next to your mummy, get comfy, and then put your hands together in prayer as well.”
May nodded as her daughter sat in the chair, watching as I wrapped the brown rope around her wrists and tied them firmly together, cinching the binding as I did so.
“Good – now, stay sitting as you are, and I’ll tie your upper body so you cannot move your arms – you first, then your mummy – and then you can both settle back.”
May watched as I doubled over a longer length of rope, and tied Mindy’s arms to her sides, forming two bands as I did so. Her top had three purple feathers on the front, which stretched as I tied the ropes off, then helped her to shuffle back. I then bound May’s arms to her sides, framing her chest and then cinching the two bands with shorter lengths of rope before she sat back.
“Are you all right Mindy,” May said as he looked over, her daughter nodding as she watched me kneel down and tie her ankles together, the rope squeaking on her wellies as her legs were secured together, and then a second band around her legs below her knees.
As she wriggled her legs round, I took one more length of rope, and tied Mindy’s wrists to the band below her knees, so that she could get her hands to her mouth, and then said “sit quietly now – Mummy needs to be just like you before we carry on.”
“IT’s quite nice actually Mummy,” Mindy said as I bound May’s legs in the same way, and then tied her wrists to her legs, as she looked over.
“Now, you two wait out here, have a quiet talk, while I go and pretend to rob your house, “I said quietly, “and I’ll bring you both out a drink when I come back.” I then moved their chairs so both of them were lying back, their legs raised, and made my way into the house to look round.
When I returned half an hour later, I had a tray with two glasses if iced water, a straw in each one, and helped them both to sit up before I let them both have a drink.
“Thank you,” Mindy said as I put the glass down, “so what happens now, Mister Robber?”
“Now,” I said as I looked in my bag, “I need to make sure you and your mummy stay quiet, but after that you can both try and get free. So, I want you to open your mouth for me, and I’ll put this sponge ball in, then put some special tape on your lips that will stop you talking. It’s cool out here, so you should be all right, but I’ll be watching after I pretend to leave.”
“We’ll both be the same,” May said with a smile as Mindy opened her mouth, and I eased the sponge in, before wrapping the white tape round her head to keep the sponge in. May laughed as she saw her daughter’s lips try to move under the tape, and then allowed me to silence her in the same way.
“Now, wait fifteen minutes, and then you can try to escape,” I said as I looked at them, and went to the kitchen door, watching as they tried to talk to each other before I removed the stocking, and slipped out of the front door…
Steve had offered to watch the baby for a day while I went and, as he put it “played a game and had some fun.” He even helped me to plan out how I would spend the afternoon which was very nice of him.
This particular afternoon found me in Derby, looking at the home of one Desmond Cartwright, a reasonably successful car salesman in the area, who was married with a thirty eight year old wife called Denise. They had two daughters – ten year old Harper and six year old Shona, and as it was a midweek afternoon in the October holidays, daddy would be at work…
As I watched, the family car pulled up, and Denise got out. She had long light brown hair and wore a black coat over a matching jersey dress, dark tights and tan over the knee suede boots with a short square heel.
As she opened the back door of the car, Harper got out, her blonde hair held back by a hairband. She was wearing a blue sweatshirt, short dark skirt, black leggings and grey-brown Ugg boots with big buttons on the side. Shona jumped out as well, her blonde hair in a ponytail, wearing a purple jumper over a grey dress with a floral print, grey leggings and pink trainers. They all walked into the house, as I checked my rucksack and allowed them a few minutes before I made my way up to the front door.
The door was unlocked, so I stopped for a moment, and pulled the stocking down over my head, tucking it under the collar of my brown sweater, and zipped up the front of my leather jacket before I slowly opened the door, slipped in and closed it behind me. I could hear footsteps upstairs, so I made my way quietly along and slowly climbed the staircase and peeked into one of the doors.
Harper and Shona were sitting on the floor, playing a game of Sorry as they talked about whatever they had done that morning – but I knew I would have to give them a different game to play, so I went into the room, closing the door and putting my finger to my lips as they stared at me.
“Hello girls,” I said quietly, “I’m very pleased to meet you both. Your mummy and daddy have hired me to come and play a very special game with our mummy today.”
“What sort of game,” Shona said as Harper looked at me.
“Well, it’s called Kidnap – I’m pretending to be a kidnapper, who is going to take both of you and your mummy somewhere until your daddy pays me to have you come home. Does that sound like an exciting game?”
“I guess so,” Harper said, “but are we going to be tied and gagged like on the television?”
“Well, your mummy and daddy want this to be realistic, but I promise you, it doesn’t hurt,” I said as I slipped my rucksack off, and took a length of white cord from the top. “Here – have a feel and tell me what you think.”
I gave it to Shona, who felt the rope and then handed it to Harper as she said “okay – so how do we play this game?”
“Well, I guess I have to take you both hostage first,” I said with a smile as I took the cord back, “so who wants to be first?”
“I will,” Harper said, “what do I have to do?”
“Why don’t you both stand up with your backs to me,” I said with a smile, “and put your hands behind your back.” As they did so, I doubled over the length of cord, and then secured Harper’s wrists together behind her back. As she wriggled her fingers, I did the same thing to Shona, the young girls looking round as she said “that’s tight.”
“It doesn’t hurt though, does it?”
She shook her head as Harper said “so what happens now?”
“Now, I need to make sure it’s difficult for you to move your arms,” I said as I took two longer lengths of rope from my rucksack, and tied them round the upper body of both girls, forcing their arms into their sides and cinching the bands between their arms and bodies with shorter lengths.
“Now then,” I said as I tied the last rope on Shona, “I think it’s time we made sure your mummy was taken captive as well – but before I do that, I need to make sure both of you stay quiet, and I do that by putting this in your mouths,” I said as I held up a small red sponge ball, “and then putting a strip of this white tape over your mouths. Just breath through your nose, and you’ll be fine. Ready?”
Both girls nodded as they opened their mouths, and I pushed a ball in, then when they had closed their lips put a wide strip of the micropore tape over them. “Now then,” I said as I opened the door, “let’s go downstairs and take Mummy captive as well.”
They walked in front of me, and down the stairs as Shona said “hrrsmmmee”
“Nththkshn,” Harper said as they walked along the corridor and into the large kitchen, Denise looking round as she said “do you girls want a drink… Oh my god…”
“Wfbhnnkhnhppdmmee,” Harper said as she looked at me, and I said “hello Mrs Cartwright – I’m the actress you hired to play the game of Kidnap with you and the girls, and as you can see I’ve already taken them hostage. It’s your turn now.”
Denise looked carefully at them, and said “are you both all right,” watching as both girls nodded before she looked at me. “all right – do you promise you’re not going to hurt any of us?”
“It’s a game Mrs Cartwright – the girls aren’t hurting, are you?” As they both shook their heads, I put my rucksack on the kitchen table, removed some rope and walked behind Denise, whispering “play along so the girls think this is a game” as I took her wrists behind her back, crossed them and then tied them together with the rope. I could see the shape of the girls’ lips under their tape gags as they smiled while I tied their mother’s wrists together, and then wrapped a long length of rope round her upper body, making bands above and below her chest before I took the rope under the lower band on one side, up and around the back of her neck, and then under the other side.
“Uhrrrlkssnhwmmee,” Shona said as I tied the rope off, and said “right – we need to take all three of you to my lair, which for today is your front room. Mummy will lead the way.”
We walked to the front room, where Denise sat on a long leather couch, the girls either side of her as I drew the curtains over. “Now I need to make sure you three stay in the lair,” I said as I took some more lengths of cord from my rucksack, Denise watching as I removed Harper’s boots, and then crossed and tied her ankles tightly together, making sure I took the rope between her legs, and then tied her legs together below her knees.
I did the same to Shona as their mother watched, and then crossed and tied her ankles together, the rope sinking into the soft suede as I did so. “When you have made us secure,” she said as she looked at me, “what are you going to do?”
“Inform your husband I have you as hostages, and make a ransom demand,” I said as I tied the rope off, and started to tie her legs together below her knees, “but in the meantime, I’ll leave you watching something, even if you cannot move.” Tying the rope off, I said to the girls “I want Mummy to stay on the couch, so I’m going to move you both on the floor, and make it so that you can only wriggle round, with a cushion for your heads. All right?”
Both girls nodded as I put tow cushions on the floor, and then picked Shona up, Harper and Denise watching as I put her on her stomach, pulled her bound ankles back and tied them to her chest ropes. I did the same to Shona, before helping Denise to lie on her stomach and hogtying her as well.
“Finally, Mummy needs to be as quiet as you,” I said as I held a compressed sponge ball in front of Denise’s mouth. She nodded as she opened her mouth, allowing me to push the sponge in, and then taping over her lips as I whispered “keep pretending this is a game, to keep the girls calm, while I see what nice things you have to take.”
She nodded as I put Hairspray on the player, and then left them in the room, Denise rolling onto her side as she watched the girls, and I searched the house.
When I returned an hour later, the two girls were singing along a Denise turned her head and looked at me. “Daddy has agreed to pay the ransom,” I said, “so I’m going to collect it, and then he will come to rescue you all. You can try and get free after I’ve gone if you want.”
The three of them nodded as I closed the door and slipped out of the house, with a substantial amount of jewellery and money – and the satisfaction of a game well played…