Your Granny Should Know
“I think it’s really cool that you’ve opened up this shop, Granny.” Celeste was looking around the shelves of small antiques that formed the basis of Long Time Ago, he grandmother’s new store in the centre of their home town. “Where did you get all of these?”
“Oh, I have my sources” her grandmother replied. Beatrice wasn’t really old enough to consider herself a grandmother – after all, she had only just celebrated her 45th birthday. She had given birth at an early age, however, and like her mother Celeste’s mother had given birth to her before she was 21. After spending more years than she cared to think of working in the furniture business, she had used her savings to set up her own business dealing in antique clocks, statuettes and other small items.
“So, what do you want me to do?”
“Well, I know you need to earn some extra money, so I wondered if you would like to come and work with me at the weekends?”
“Work for you? Will that mean that I have to dress properly like Mum wants me to all the time?”
Beatrice looked at her granddaughter. The Caribbean roots of their family were very clear to see in her, with her dark skin and blue eyes. Only the bleached cropped hair she currently had looked a little out of place.
“No, Celeste, I think you can dress smartly without looking like a schoolgirl. So long as you don’t actually scare the customers off, anything is fine with me.”
“Sounds good – when can I start?”
“You can start on Saturday – and don’t be late, we open at nine sharp!”
On Saturday morning, Celeste arrived at the store at 8.45. She rang the bell for the upstairs flat where her grandmother lived, and entered when the door lock was released.
“Come on up,” Beatrice shouted down the stairs, “I’m just getting ready.”
Celeste entered the living room, and took her coat off. Beatrice looked at her, and said “Felling a bit hot today?”
“Oh, come on, Gran – you said I didn’t have to dress like a schoolgirl.” Celeste was wearing a white, cap sleeved t-shirt under a faded sleeveless denim mini-dress, and black knee-length leather boots which laced up the front.
“I suppose I did – and I’m not exactly dressed for the bank manager either” her grandmother replied. She was wearing a polo neck sweater, with coloured horizontal stripes, a powder blue sleeveless jerkin and pants, with the legs tucked into straight black leather boots. “Do you think we could get into an antiques fair dressed like this?”
“Oh, who cares, so long as the customers like what they see in the shop,” Celeste replied. “So, are we going to open the store or what?”
“All right, dear – let’s get to work.”
The morning kept both women busy, with a steady stream of customers. Beatrice talked to those who were interested in various items, while Celeste served at the counter and tidied up as people came and went. As one o’clock came around, Celeste brought down a plate of sandwiches and two mugs of coffee from the flat.
“The postman came while I was upstairs – I left the parcel he brought on the table for you.”
“Thank you, Celeste – it’s very difficult to hear the buzzer for the flat in the shop. I need to see if I can get that sorted out. Did he say what it was?”
“No – why don’t you go up and have a look?”
Beatrice went up to the flat, and examined the parcel. She came back down shaking her head.
“That postman – he should have delivered it to the flat next door.”
“Do you want me to take it round?”
“No, leave it for now – I’ll take it round when we close up. Come on – let’s have our lunch, and then we can get back to business.”
The two men left the flat, closing the door behind them. They hadn’t found what they were looking for, but the person resident there had finally told them that sometimes the postman had a habit of delivering her mail to the flat next door. After making sure that she would not be able to raise the alarm for some considerable time, they went into a nearby café to discuss what they needed to do next.
The clock was striking four when the two women finally managed to clear the shop. “Celeste, dear, why don’t you go upstairs and make us both a cup of coffee while I cash up and close the store. It’s been a good day, and it’s time we wound down.”
As Celeste went up to the flat, Beatrice went over to the door and turned the sign to “Closed”. After locking the door, she turned away, and so didn’t notice the two men crossing the road.
Beatrice had put the kettle on when she heard the buzzer for the flat door.
“Yes, who is it?” she asked over the intercom.
“It’s your neighbour – I was told a parcel was delivered to you for me by accident?”
Celeste thought her grin had popped round when she left the shop earlier in the afternoon to get some paper. “Oh yes – come on up and get it,” she said as she released the door.
Beatrice finished counting the till receipts, and locked the takings into a small strongbox. Putting the key in a pocket in her jerkin, she locked the door from the shop to the flat, and started to climb the stairs.
“Celeste, I hope that coffee is read……” As she entered the flat, Beatrice was horrified to see that two young men were in the flat, one holding a knife to Celeste and the other doing something to her wrists behind Celeste’s back.
“What do you think you are doing, - you let go of her this instant, or so help me…”
“Or what, old lady – you’ll smack me?” the young man with the knife said. “Just shut up, or it’s this young girl who’ll get hurt. Capeesh?”
“Please Gran – I’m too scared to stop them,” Celeste said as the other young man came round. “Hands behind your back, Granny.” He said as he held a length of cord in front of her. Beatrice placed the strongbox on the table. “Do what you want – please just don’t hurt my baby.”
“All we want is that package you had delivered here by accident – although that strongbox will go nicely as well.” As her said this, the youth lashed Beatrice’s wrists together, making sure the rope was cinched around to secure them.
“Where’s your bedroom?” the boy with the knife asked. “Through here,” Beatrice replied, and Celeste was pushed in the direction she indicated. The man finished tying Beatrice’s wrists, and pushed her in the same direction.
“Get on the bed, face down, both of you” they were told as they entered, and the two women did as they were asked.
“What’s going on, Granny?” Celeste asked as her ankles were crossed and rope tied around them.
“Just keep calm and do as they say,” Beatrice replied as her ankles were also crossed and tied. “It’s not worth getting harmed over, and it’s only money.”
Celeste grunted as her bound ankles were pulled up, and a rope run between her wrist and ankle bindings. “Please, you don’t have to do that, we’ll do as you say,” Beatrice asked, but she was soon hogtied as well.
The two men began to search the bedroom, and added some of Beatrice’s jewellery to the haul. They then same round to Celeste.
“Open your mouth,” she was told.
“No – you don’t have to gag us, we won’t say anything.”
“You don’t have a choice in the matter – open your £**£”%%ing mouth!!” and the knife was placed against Celeste’s throat. Opening wide, Beatrice watched as a scarf was balled up and pushed into her mouth, and tape stuck over her lips to keep it in.
“You too Granny,” and Beatrice allowed the same thing to be done to her.
“Now don’t move,” the two bound women were told, and the men ran out of the room, slamming the door behind them as they left the flat.
The two women lay silently for a while, listening as the sounds of the street came through the open bedroom window. Neither was quite sure what to do next, both fearful that the sound of the door closing was a ruse and also that they didn’t want to hurt each other.
The phone rang in the flat, and the sound of Beatrice’s answer phone could be heard. They both heard the voice of Celeste’s mother asking where she was, and telling her to call home. This started Celeste off, and she thrashed and writhed around the bed trying desperately to get out of the hogtie she was in. Her movements were so vigorous that the skirt on her dress started to rise up, and her grandmother had to move around just to stay put of the way of her bound legs.
Finally Beatrice tried to say something.
“Clm dwn, r yll hrt yrslf.”
Celeste calmed down, and lay on her side as her grandmother moved over to lie on her own side and face her.
“Grn, im scrd.”
“I knw – gv m a mnt t thnk.”
Beatrice lay still, and Celeste tried to copy her calm and measured breathing. Suddenly, Beatrice started to move herself onto her stomach, then inch her body around so that her legs were lying over the side of the mattress. Celeste watched as Beatrice slowly allowed her body to tip over the side while using the mattress to cushion her stomach, so that after a few minutes she was kneeling on the floor facing her granddaughter.
“Sty thr – m gng t gt smthng” she mmphed over, and Celeste lay calmly on the bed.
Slowly, carefully, Beatrice inched her way across the floor on her knees towards a small dressing table. Eventually, and exhausted from the effort, she reached the table and rested her head on the top.
“Grn – r yu al rght?” Celeste called over.
Beatrice nodded, and very gingerly opened up the centre drawer. Looking over her shoulder, she rummaged within the drawer until she found a pair of nurse scissors.
“Mv t th dg f th bd” she called to Celeste, and she began to make her way back to the bed. Celeste, in turn, shuffled along the bed so that her hands were at the side, guessing what her grandmother intended to do.
As she approached the bed, Beatrice wriggled around on her knees so that her hands could reach the rope holding Celeste in a hogtie. Holding the scissors carefully, one handle in each hand, she lowered the blade to the rope and started to rock back and forth in a slow even motion.
Again, time passed, but eventually Celeste felt the rope start to give way, and she pulled as hard as she could. The rope parted suddenly, and Celeste stretched out her long legs.
“Grn – lt m jn y und tr t hlp” she tried to say as she rolled over and dropped down onto the floor. Taking the scissors from Beatrice, she eventually managed to cut the rope holding her hogtied as well.
The two women stopped and rested for a moment, and then they moved themselves round so that they were back to back and began trying to release each other’s wrists. Eventually Beatrice managed to get one of her wrists free, and removed the tape from over her granddaughter’s mouth.
Celeste spat out the cloth, and breathed deeply for a few minutes. “Gran that was amazing. Where did you learn to do something like that?”
Beatrice untied the rope around her ankles, and then removed the gag from her own mouth. “There’s a few things you don’t know about your old gran, Celeste – one of which is that I used to be a fairly good escape artiste. Here – let me get you untied.”
Some minutes later, as the clock struck eight o’clock, Celeste was rubbing her wrists as Beatrice removed the rope from her ankles. “There – take your time bringing the circulation back and I’ll see if I can get in touch with the police.”
“Can you teach me some of those tricks – I’d like to know what to do if I’m in that situation again.”
“Let’s get over today first, dear – tomorrow, after all, is another day.”