Sunday at Home
“And may the Grace of God Almighty, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be within you and reign in you always, now and forever, Amen.”
As I opened my eyes and looked around the old wooden church, it filled my heart with happiness to see everyone talking with each other – and especially to see Regina settling so well. My sister had come to live with me after certain – unpleasant experiences, and was slowly returning to the happy, bright, outgoing girl I had grown up with in this town.
I knew that my church, and the people I worship with, had and were playing an important part in that process – we had prayed for weeks before she finally came, and continually prayed for her recovery in body, soul and mind.
At least she has started to smile again, if only a little. She had taken care in getting ready today, borrowing one of my hair clasps to wear, and choosing a light blue sleeveless leather top and knee length skirt to wear, a thin purple leather belt around her waist, as well as taupe leather shoes with a three inch heel.
I was slightly more casual in my attire – a peach coloured top with a low round neck, white pants and stiletto heeled sandals in red. As I stood talking to my pastor, I was happy again – because Regina was happy.
After we left the church, we walked for a while in the park by the church, arm in arm, talking about nothing and everything in the way that sisters do, and then I drove us home. My idea for the afternoon was simple – we have some lunch, change into something more comfortable, and then go and see a movie, or do some bowling, before a meal out.
But what did that Scottish poet say about the best laid plans...
I should have known something was wrong as soon as we entered the house, given there was a nice gentle breeze blowing through the hallway, but I figured I had just left a kitchen window open, so I closed the door, and we both went into the front room.
It was only when we saw the scatter cushions scattered on the floor that I began to realize something was not right – but by then it was too late, as I heard Regina’s muffled gasp, and saw the gloved hand over her mouth as she looked at me.
Behind her was a fair haired, light skinned young man, who looked back at me and said quietly “now, you’re not going to cause any fuss, are you?”
“No,” I replied quietly, “but please, take your hand from my sister’s mouth. I promise you, she will not cry out.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“She has lost her voice – she cannot speak, so you may remove your hand, and I promise I will not cause any fuss.”
He looked at me for a moment, and then removed his hand, saying “is this true?”
Regina nodded as she took hold of my arm, and I got a good look at him. He was barely twenty, but he had what looked like a real gun in his hand, which certainly frightened me.
“What happened to her,” he said as he looked at me.
“She was attacked – the shock of what happened means she has not spoken since.”
“Ah – ah, then I am sorry if I scared you again,” he said quietly as he looked at Regina, “but I am robbing this house – so I am afraid I need to make sure neither of you can stop me or raise the alarm. I do promise you this, however – so long as you do as I say, I won’t hurt you or your sister, all right?”
Regina looked at him, then at me before she nodded.
“Look, I’m not going to stop you,” I said, “you can lock us in a bedroom upstairs and be about your business.”
“Except none of your bedrooms have locks,” he said quietly, “so I am afraid I will need t make sure you cannot move.” Looking at Regina, he said “I will take care of you first, and then her, but you need to convince her nothing is going to happen.”
I nodded as he said this, and then he said “we’ll go to your bedroom – take her hand and walk up with me.”
So we climbed the stairs, with me talking to Regina and making reassuring sounds all the time. I saw he had a bag in his hand, which he placed on the bed as he looked round.
“Here,” he said as he pulled the chair away from my dressing table, “sit down.”
“It’s all right, you sit there,” I said to Regina as he opened his back. As she sat down, she watched as he drew some rope from his bag, and moved my hands behind my back.
“It’s all right, Regina, he’s not hurting me,” I said quietly as I felt the rope pulling my wrists together, going around and between my arms before he tied it off, the knot and rope out of reach of my fingers. And believe me, I tried to find it.
He then knelt down and bound my ankles together in the same way, the hems of my trouser legs flaring out as he did so. I watched as he passed the rope between my legs, making it even tighter, and then tucked the ends into the binding.
“Your turn,” he then said as he picked up some rope, and looked at Regina – who started to shake her head and push herself out of the chair.
“No – please, no,” I said as I looked at her, “the man who attacked her – he used ropes to secure her, and they were tight, they scared her...” Looking to the wardrobe, I said “if you must, use some of the scarves in there to secure her to the chair.
“Regina,” I said as I looked at her, “I know this is frightening, but I am all right. Let him do this to you – it should not hurt.”
Regina looked at me and slowly nodded as he went and fetched out a number of scarves, placing them on the bed, before he took two long red silk oblongs, and used them to secure her wrists to the chair back. As he did this, I kept talking to my sister, calming her down, watching as the silk bands secured her wrists in place, and then he took one of my larger shawls, and tied that around her stomach to hold her against the chair back.
Kneeling on front of her, we both watched as he used a large green and gold scarf, folded into a band, to tie her ankles together, and then a black scarf to secure her legs together below her knees. Standing up, he looked at Regina and said “I know this is frightening, and you will find it difficult to move, but is it uncomfortable? Is it hurting you?”
She shook her head and looked at me, and I was surprised to find myself smiling when I said “Thank you – I suppose you have to finish tying me up now as well?”
“Regretfully, yes,” he said quietly as he took more rope from his bag, and tied my legs together below my knees as well, taking the rope between my legs. He then produced a long, long length of rope, and I started to talk to Regina again as he wrapped it around my arms and chest, pinning them to my side so that I could barely wriggle, much less move them.
“Now,” he said as he tied the ropes off, the bands fitting around me, “shall we keep this civilised? Where are your valuables?”
“There’s a safe in the bureau downstairs,” I said as I gave him the combination, and he left us alone. As I heard him walking down the stairs, I tried to loosen the ropes around me, but nothing seemed to give, no matter how hard I struggled.
Regina was watching me the whole time, sitting still, occasionally moving as the scarves held her in place. Eventually, I stopped and looked at her, and said “Are you coping?”
She smiled – a small, strange smile – and nodded as she raised and lowered her legs, looking at the two bands holding them together. She then shuffled a little, her leather skirt rubbing on the seat, before the man came back into the room.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, “but now, I need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm. I know your sister cannot speak, but...”
“Regina,” I said as I looked at her, “he’s going to use something to gag me. If he did the same to you, would that bother you?”
I said that expecting her to shake her head and make it very clear the answer was no – but instead, she nodded and looked at me, as if to say she understood.
I watched as he took a wide roll of medical tape from his bag, tore a long strip off and smoothed it down over my lips and mouth, the tape sticking to me as I nodded to show I was still able to breathe. He then tore a second strip off and smoothed it over Regina’s mouth and jaw, the white contrasting without our own dark skin. I could make out the shape of her lips underneath as he picked up his bag, nodded to each of us, and left the room.
I could hear him downstairs for a few more minutes, and then the front door open and close, before I started to look round, Regina sitting and watching me. I started to slide myself along the bed to the bedside table, and with some difficulty opened the little drawer – taking out the letter opener that was in there, and then beginning to work on the ropes around my wrists to try and work the knot free.
It seemed to take forever, but I managed to get my wrists free, and then work my arms round and peel the tape away from my mouth. “Are you all right, “I whispered to Regina, who nodded as I untied my legs, and then ran downstairs to call the police.
When I came back up, pushing the other ropes over my head and dropping them on the floor, I gently peeled the tape away from her mouth, and stroking her hair I said “it’s over now, the police will be here soon...”
Two little words – but they meant so much to me, as I hugged and kissed Regina with great joy. It had been a scary experience, but if somehow it had led her to start talking again, then great good had come from it after all...