That was Then, This is Now – Don’t Be Afraid
“Granny, I’m scared.”
Well, I was scared as well as I held my granddaughter Amy in my arms, sitting on the couch as she stood in front of me. What was scaring us was the two men who had walked in on us after we had returned from a matinee show – Amy was staying with me for the weekend while her parents had a few days away. She’s eleven years old, with long brown hair, while my greying hair was cut short.
As I said, we had been at a theatre matinee, and I was casually dressed – a white fur gilet over a long sleeved top, dark pants and knee length black leather boots. Amy was dressed up a little more – a pink dress with elbow length sleeves and a large black bow on the front, as well as a black lace underskirt, and her own knee length black leather boots.
But there were the two men in the room. Both were casually dressed – denim jackets and jeans with white t-shirts, and trainers – but they were also both wearing latex gloves, and had black glasses over their eyes.
“I told you lady,” one of them said as the other watched, a gun in his hand, “do what we tell you, everyone is happy. Now, keep your little one quiet.”
“It’s all right, Amy,” I said as I turned her round and stroked her hair, “I need you to be brave, and to do what they say, because we will do this together, all right?”
Amy slowly nodded as I saw the man who had spoken open a bag, and take out a length of rope, so I said “Amy – he is going to tie your hands behind your back, and then he will do the same to me. I want you to remain still, and not get hurt, all right?”
Amy slowly nodded as I stroked her head, while the man took her hands behind her back and started to lash her wrists together. “Why are they doing this Granny,” she asked as he did this.
“Because they do not want us to stop them, or to raise the alarm,” I said with a sad little smile. “But I promise you, it’s not something to be scared of.”
Amy looked at me as the man walked behind me, taking my hands behind my back as she said “has someone done this to you before Granny?”
“Oh yes – I was a couple of years older than you,” I say as I felt the rope rub on my wrists, “and it was me and my mother, but it has happened to me as well – nearly fifty years ago…”
Amy looked at me as I watched him use a longer length of rope, winding it round her arms and body, before I said “well, I remember it was after my mother and I had been to the theatre as well….
“That was an amazing show Mum – thanks for letting me come with you.”
I was so happy to be spending the day with my mother, and at the age of fourteen I felt really grown up. I had even dressed in a special way – a tight cream coloured jersey dress, with long sleeves and a short skirt, and knee length caramel coloured leather boots with a small heel. I also had a lovely scarf folded into a band and tied round my neck, made of silk, with a band pattern.
Like Mum, I had really long dark brown hair, and I could feel the slight breeze in it as we walked out of the Underground station. Mum was wearing a white satin jacket and mini skirt, with her own knee length leather boots, in her case a dark burgundy red.
We walked along the street, talking to each other before we walked into the main hallway of the house our flat was in, mum opening her handbag and taking the flat keys out as we walked up the stairs. It had been a perfect afternoon, and I was looking forward to relaxing as she opened the door, and we walked in.
So when someone grabbed me from behind, and put a leather gloved hand over my mouth, I wondered what was going on – and so did Mum, as she said “who the hell are you?”
“The man holding your daughter, and telling you to do whatever he says,” a voice said form behind me, and glancing to the side I saw a black clad arm, a black leather gloved hand – and a very real gun in the hand.
Mum saw it as well, as she looked at me, and then said “all right – just don’t hurt my baby girl.”
“Wise move – put your hands on your head, and walk slowly into the bedroom.”
“Okay, okay,” Mum said as she opened the door to her and Dad’s bedroom, and walked in, the man making me walk in front of him as he kept his hand clamped firmly over my mouth. I could smell the leather as he did that, but I kept my mouth shut – I did not want to taste it.
Mum turned round as he said “Okay – I want all your jewellery boxes out where I can see them, and then I want you to lie on the bed, hands on top of your head.
Mum nodded as she opened drawers and doors, putting them on the top of the furniture, before she said “I want you to do what he says” to me as she lay on the bed, with her hands palm down on her head.
“Don’t say a word,” the man whispered into my ear, “take that scarf off from round your neck, and roll it into a band.” I did what he had asked, before he said “I’m going to take my hand away – and I want you to pull that scar between your lips, and tie the band round your head. And do it properly – if I find you’ve tied it too loosely, I will do it again after I stuff something else into your mouth, and it will hurt. Nod if you understand.”
I nodded, too scared to do anything else before he took the hand away. Taking a deep breath, I opened my mouth and pulled the band between my lips, tasting the silk on my tongue as I closed my mouth, and then tied the ends at the back of my neck as tightly as I could, under my hair.
“Be brave,” Mum said as she looked at me, and I nodded as I felt the man pull my hands behind my back, and then rope rubbing on my wrists as they were bound tightly together. It felt very strange, and then it felt even stranger as the man put some rope round my arms and stomach and pulled it tight, so that my arms were held against my sides.
“All right,” the man said behind me as he tied the ropes off, “go and lie on the bed. You – stand up and turn to face the bed.”
I walked over, trying not to cry as Mum slowly stood up and turned to watch me lie down. As I did so, I saw the black duffle bag the man had picked up – and the man. He was tall, with a stocking pulled down over his head – but I could see the short grey hair, as he put the bag down, pulled more rope out, and started to tie Mum’s wrists together behind her back.
She smiled, and said “it’ll only be for a little while” as I nodded my head. I could felt the scarf getting wetter in my mouth, but I was still too scared to try and say anything. Mum stood there as the man tied the ropes off, and then took a much longer length, doubling it over and then passing it round Mum before he pulled it tight under her chest. I had to watch as he made the rope into two bands, her jacket rising up slightly as he did so, before she lay on the bed next to me.
“I know it’s scary,” Mum said as the man crossed her ankles and bound them tightly together with more rope, “but – it’s also a little bit exciting, isn’t it?”
I laughed at that, although what came out was some muffled sound, as I heard her boots squeak as her legs rubbed together, the man using another length to secure her legs together below her knees before he took two more lengths from his bag, and walked back to my side. I watched him cross my ankles, and then felt the rope tighten round them, the leather making the same strange sound as the rope went around and between my legs. He then tied my legs together below my knees as well, Mum watching as his gloved hands stroked the back of my legs while he passed the rope between them.
When he had finished, I tried to move my legs apart – but it was impossible, and what was more as I tried to move my legs, I heard the same squeaking sound as I had heard from Mum.
“It’s leather on leather,” she said as she looked at me, “don’t worry, we’re both going to be all right.”
“Okay lady – raise your head.”
I saw the man had found a black scarf of Mum’s and rolled it into a band, and I knew what was coming next. So did she, as she allowed him to pull the black band between her lips and closed them over it, before he tied it tightly round her head, again keeping the ends under her hair.
She turned her head and said “whllwherhrnhh,” and then she kissed my forehead with her lips, before I pushed myself over and put my head on her shoulder, both of us watching the man as he emptied Mum’s valuables into the duffel bag. He turned and looked at us, and then walked out as we both started to try and free ourselves…
“Wow,” Amy said quietly, “how long was it before your father came home?”
“It was starting to get dark outside,” I said as the man behind me pulled the ropes tight again, forcing my arms even more against my sides. My gilet had been forced open as the bands framed my chest – but Amy had the same sort of ropes, so I was determined not to say anything.
“Sit next to your grandma, kid.”
“Okay,” Amy said quietly as she walked over and pushed herself back in the seat next to me, watching as the second man doubled over a length of rope, and wound it round her ankles, the leather compressing under it as he pulled it tighter.
“I can be brave if you can be brave, Granny,” Amy said as she looked at me.
“Good – we can be brave together,” I said as the man took the rope between Amy’s ankles and tied it off, then passed a second length around her legs below her knees and pulled it tight. At the same time, his partner knelt in front of me and lifted my ankles up, crossing them and resign them on his leg as I felt the rope tighten round them as well.
“Well, at least we can spend some time together,” I said with a smile as I kissed Amy’s head, both of us watching as the rope was tied off, and then my legs secured together below my knees before he lowered them to the floor.
“Okay,” he said as he looked at me, “don’t move.”
“Funny,” I said as his friend walked out, and he sat down looking at us as we sat there, saying nothing.
Half an hour later, the other man came back in, and I saw he had one of my pillow cases which jingled as he put it down – and then held up a roll of white tape.
“Amy,” I said quietly, “he’s going to put that tape over our mouths. Don’t panic, we will both be the same, all right?”
“I’m not afraid, Granny, you’re here with me,” she said as the man tore long strip off, and then smoothed it down over her mouth, making sure it was smoothed to the shape of her chin and face. He then smoothed a strip over my mouth as well, so that we both found it difficult to talk, before he helped Amy to lie on her side, with her head on my lap.
She rolled over and looked at me, the smile on her lips visible as the two men left us there. I nodded and said “whllrhhlrhtthmeee.”
“Hknhnghrhnnee, hknh” she said as she smiled back, trusting me completely as I had trusted my mother…
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