For those who lived through that time, the seventies were a drab period. Drab clothes, drab music, drab everything. Some things, however, were the same as they are now – such as crime……………
“And that was Kool and the Gang on wonderful Radio One! We’ll be right back with more music after the news at 7.30….”
Judy put two spoons of Maxwell House coffee into two mugs, and poured the hot water over. Stifling a very large yawn by putting her hand over her mouth, she took the mugs of coffee over to the coffee bar and called out of the door.
“Bunty – coffee’s ready!”
Judy took a moment to check herself in the mirror. She was the manager of the local post office, and needed to get in early this morning to make sure she took delivery of the cash for people who wished to cash their benefit cheques the next day. She was dressed in the style expected of women in her position – with an air of authority. On this particular day, she was wearing a light blue silk blouse over a navy blue polo neck sweater, and a red velvet skirt. Her dark stockinged feet were currently sitting in a pair of slippers.
Her younger sister, Bunty, came down the stairs in her nightdress. It was a bit of a joke between them that they shared names with popular girls’ comics, but that wasn’t their fault – Judy and Bunty were popular names when they were born.
“Going to save those who need the money again, Judy?”
Judy took a long drink from her mug. “Now watch it, Bunty – many of these people are genuinely in need. There have been a lot of job cuts around here, after all.”
“All right, all right – my politics lecture isn’t until this afternoon. When are you going?”
“Any minute now” Judy replied, finishing her coffee and heading into the hallway of the house they shared. She discarded her slippers, and pulled on a pair of burgundy leather boots. “Will you be late in tonight?”
“No – after my lecture this afternoon, I’m free, so I thought I’d come back and get some work done.”
“All right,” Judy said as she pulled on her red velvet jacket, “I’ll see you later then. Bye for now.”
“Bye,” Bunty replied as Judy went out of the door. She watched from the window as Judy climbed into her red Ford Escort, and drove off towards the post office she worked in.
An hour later, Bunty locked the front door behind her. She was dressed all in tan colours – a roll neck sweater, corduroy bomber jacket and trousers, and suede boots which had the cuffs turned down at the knees. Walking over to her 2CV, she climbed in and started down the road.
Across the road from the house, two men sat in a non-descript car. They pulled out behind Bunty’s car, and followed her to the college where she was studying.
“Is that the complete delivery?” Judy asked the security man.
“Yes, that’s it Judy. Are you sure you can keep that money locked away until tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry – you can see I’m putting it in the safe now.”
Judy pushed the door of the safe shut, turned the key and placed it in the special bag she was given for it. “Is this the last delivery for you today?”
“No – two more to go. See you next week?”
“See you next week.”
Outside the post office, the same non-descript car was parked as one of the man watched the security van pulling away. He glanced at his watch – his partner should be getting started right about now. Starting the engine, he pulled away and headed back towards the house.
Bunty gathered her books up, and made her way out of the lecture room. It had been a tough lecture, but at least she could head home now.
She pulled the collar of her jacket up against the cold, and made her way across the car park to her car. As she pulled the keys out of her pocket, she heard a voice behind her.
“Excuse me, I think you dropped something.”
Bunty looked down. “No, I don’t think so. What do you think I dropped?”
“The chance to run away.” Bunty felt the point of a knife digging into her side. “Do exactly what I say, do you understand?”
Bunty nodded. She was terrified, but there was no-one within sight that she could call out to for help.
“Give me your car keys, and get into the passenger seat of your car.” The voice said, and Bunty twisted around to see the face of a young clean shaven man staring at her.
“Al…. All right,” Bunty said as she moved round and opened the passenger door. She sat in the car, at which point the mystery closed the door on her and made his way around the front of the car. Sitting himself in the driver’s seat, he took a pair of handcuffs out of his pocket. Reaching over, he cuffed her hands to the door handle.
“Now, No screaming or trying to attract attention or this knife gets in where it will hurt. Nod if you understand.”
Bunty whispered “Where are you taking me?”
“Home.” The man started the car and drove off.
He eventually pulled up outside Bunty’s house. “Now, I am going to take these cuffs off. Don’t do anything stupid.” Reaching over, he unlocked Bunty’s wrists, and as she rubbed her skin he put the cuffs back into his pocket.
“Sit there until I come round to open your door,” he said as he opened the driver’s door. Bunty sat there petrified as he came round to her door and pulled it open.
“Out, now” the man said, pulling Bunty roughly by the arm and leading her to the door.
“Open it, quickly,” he said while looking around. Bunty fumbled in her bag for the door keys, and finally managed to unlock the front door. The man pushed it open, and pulled the terrified girl inside.
“Hands behind your back,” the man ordered.
“Oh no, please don’t do that to me…..”
“What do you think I’m going to do – rape you? Just put your hands behind your back, girlie!!”
Bunty reluctantly did as he asked. The man pulled a length of rope from his pocket, and quickly bound her wrists tightly together, making sure she was unable to reach any knots.
“Now, where do you keep the keys to your back door?”
“There’s one on my keyring – the long one.”
“Right, stand still” the man said, and he pulled a dark scarf from his pocket. Folding it into a band, he tied the scarf over Bunty’s eyes, tying the knot over her blonde hair.
“What are you doing? Please, don’t hurt me, I’ll do whatever you ask, just please don……”
Bunty was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell ringing. Two long rings, one short one. She heard the man go to the door and open it, and then a second male voice reached her ears – this one with a Scottish accent.
“Is this the sister?”
“It is – I had no problem getting her back here. I thought you were going to come to the back door?”
“Change of plan – someone has parked their car right across the access road. I parked as close as I could legally.”
“Right then – let’s get things ready. You’d better make sure she can’t warn anyone before we go any further.”
Bunty stood there, wondering what they were talking about, when she felt something sticky being placed over her mouth. From the way it pulled at her skin, she realised that she had been gagged with something. Something very effective as well, given the fact she was finding it impossible to open her mouth.
“Just breath through your nose and you’ll be fine,” she heard the Scottish voice say. “Right – let’s get her into the front room.”
Bunty felt her arms been taken by two hands and she was led away…..
Two hours later, Judy turned into the driveway and parked her car next to Bunty’s. Approaching the house, she noticed that the curtains were drawn on the front room, but thought nothing of it. Bunty has a habit after a tough day of closing the curtains, changing into some sports gear and dancing to records in the front room, and Judy knew she closed the curtains for this to spare embarrassment on the part of both Bunty and the neighbours.
Opening the front door, she called out “Bunty – where are you?” Hearing no answer, she closed the door behind her and went to the foot of the stairs.
“Bunty, are you upstairs?”
A slight creaking caused her to turn around, but before she could respond she had been grabbed by two men, who forced her to the floor.
“Hands behind your back – NOW!!” One of them barked in a Scottish accent. Judy refused to move at first, but she felt her wrists been grabbed and pulled round and ropes being wound round them. As her wrists were pulled together, she called out “What’s going on – who are you?”
“No questions,” the second man said, as Judy felt a second length of rope being tied around her elbows. She winced as they were pulled together.
“Keys” the second man asked. “Shop and safe keys – where are they?”
Judy realised that this was a robbery, and that the best thing to do was co-operate. “They’re in my handbag” she said “the little bag has the safe key.”
“Stand up” the Scottish voice said, and she was helped to her feet. She then saw a piece of brown material placed before her, and before she could speak it had been stuck over her mouth.
“In here,” she was told, and the two men pushed Judy in front of them into the front room.
A horrifying sight greeted Judy. Laid out on the large couch was Bunty. Her arms were pulled behind her back, and Judy reasoned that they must be tied together behind her back. Lengths of rope had been used to tie her arms to her chest above and below her breasts, her wrists into the small of the back around the waist, her legs above and below her knees, and her ankles, so that she resembled nothing more than a tan coloured sausage. A black scarf was tied over her eyes as a blindfold, and a wide length of brown sticking plaster over her mouth. Judy realised that she must have been gagged with the same plaster, both by the colour and the way it was already pulling at her mouth and jaw.
Her concern for her sister was so great, that she didn’t realise at first that one of the men was wrapping a long length of rope around her chest as well, until she felt the constriction over her jacket and blouse. As her arms were drawn tighter into her body, she watched Bunty shifting slightly, and wished she could tell her she was there.
Bunty realised the men had come back in, and by the sounds she could hear someone else was there with her. She prayed that it wasn’t Judy, but even in doing that she knew it was a futile hope. Much as she would love to have called a warning when the door was opened, whatever was covering her mouth was doing a good job of stopping that. She moved around a little to try and get comfortable, and continued to listen to what was going on.
The man finished tying Judy’s upper body up and she looked down to see what she could of the bonds. She could certainly see the deep grooves in her jacket, where the rope was pressing against the velvet, but not a lot else.
“Sit down” the Scottish man said, and Judy gently sat herself down in a chair opposite the couch. She watched as a length of rope was used to bind her ankles together, digging deep into the soft leather of her boots, and then cinched so that she could not move them apart. As she sat down, her skirt had caught under her legs and risen slightly, so it was no surprise to her when a second longer length of rope was used to tie her legs together below her knees.
“Sort her skirt out – she doesn’t need to show everything” the other man sat, and Judy pushed herself up slightly as her skirt was pulled down to conceal the leg bindings. Her comfort was short lived, however, when yet another length of rope was produced to tie her legs together above her knees, and she watched the rope cutting deep grooves in to the red velvet.
“Right – both of you stay nice and quiet, and we’ll come out of this in one piece. Get going,” the Scot said, and Judy watched as the other man took her store keys and headed out of the house. The other man turned on the record player, and selected a LP to put on the turntable. As he sat down to watch the two bound and gagged women, the sounds of Gilbert O’Sullivan came out of the speakers.
“We might as well listen to some music while we wait,” he said.
Judy squirmed around trying to get comfortable in the chair. She tried to talk to Bunty, but all that came out was a low mumble. Bunty, however, realised that Judy was trying to talk to her, and started to try to move her head around in an attempt to at least get the blindfold off, if not the gag as well.
The man looked over and saw Bunty moving her head and body around. He went over and whispered into her ear “If you keep doing that you’ll do yourself a mischief. Look – I can take the blindfold off now if you want, so that you can see what’s happening. Would you like that?”
“Mmmm” was the sound that came from Bunty as she nodded.
“All right, close your eyes and raise your head, and I’ll take it off.” Bunty raised her head, and the man untied the knot at the back of her head and slipped the blindfold off. Taking a cushion, he laid it on the couch and said “All right, you can lower your head now. Don’t open your eyes until I tell you.”
Bunty lowered her head, and felt the softness of the pillow underneath. “Open your eyes now” she heard the Scot say.
Opening her eyes, Bunty was greeted by the sight of her sister sitting in a chair opposite, bound and with a strip of sticking plaster over her mouth. “So that’s what the stuff is over my mouth” she thought as she looked at Judy’s pleading eyes. Looking down the couch, she realised that she was just as securely bound, and that trying to get free while this man was sitting there was not a viable option. Turning her head back to Judy, she tried to talk to her.
“Mmm hmm mm?”
“Hmm – mht mbut yu?”
A look from the man stopped this conversation, and the two women sat and lay quietly.
An hour or so passed, during which the man only moved to turn over the records. The room was warm, and both Judy and Bunty were beginning to sweat slightly. As Judy tried moving her jaw, she suddenly realised that there was a little bit of give in the tape over her mouth. She glanced over at Bunty, and saw that the corner of her gag was coming slightly away. Bunty looked at Judy, then looked down and saw the same thing. Raising her eyebrows, she looked at Judy, but the older sister very slightly shook her head to indicate that she shouldn’t try anything yet.
Another half hour or so went by, and then there was a ring on the doorbell. Two short rings, followed by one short one. The Scot stood up, and left the room closing the door behind him. Both Judy and Bunty listened intently as they heard a conversation going on outside, and then the front door closed.
Both girls stayed quite still for a few minutes, in case the men came back, but eventually they were satisfied that they had been left alone. Judy pushed herself forward slightly, and slid as gracefully as she could onto the floor in front of the chair. Twisting her body round, she eventually succeeded in turning to face the seat she had previously sat on. Mmmphing at her sister, she placed her face against the seat cushion and began to rub the tape over her mouth against it.
Bunty wriggled around so that the loose bit of tape was against the cushion, and began to very gently rub against the cushion in an attempt to loosen the gag. It took some time for both girls, but eventually Bunty managed to peel the tape away from her face and she was able to breathe again. She lay back for a few minutes to catch her breath, then turned towards here sister.
“Judy – how are you getting along?”
Judy turned to face Bunty – she had managed to loosen one edge of the tape, but it was still stuck firmly across her mouth preventing her speaking.
“See if you can come over here and I’ll try and pull it off.”
Nodding to show she understood, Judy slowly made her way on her bottom towards the couch, while Bunty turned herself over so that her hands were hanging over the edge. Judy reached the couch, and then positioned herself as closely as she could to Bunty’s bound wrists. After a few failed attempts, Bunty finally managed to grip the loose edge of Judy’s gag with her fingers. Using a combination of her pulling her face away, and Bunty pulling on the tape, the two together eventually managed to get the gag off.
Judy coughed for a minute or two. “Thanks, Bunty – that was beginning to hurt. Let me have a look at what they did you.”
She twisted herself around until she was kneeling beside the couch. On examining the way Bunty had been tied, Judy could see that there was nothing linking the various lengths of rope together. She also saw that she could reach the knot that held Bunty’s wrist bindings in place.
“Listen – I’m going to try and undo the rope around your wrists. Stay very still.”
Using her teeth, Judy very gently played with the knot at the back of Bunty’s wrists, and eventually managed to loosen it sufficiently that she could feed the rope back through and free them from the binding around the waist as well.. Dusk was beginning to settle as she finally managed to free Bunty’s wrists.
“Right – now see if you can bring your hands round to your front.”
By a combination of moving her arms and shoulders, Bunty succeeded in bringing her hands round. She also managed to loosen the ropes around her chest as she did so, so that she could move them more easily.
“What do you want me to do,” she asked Judy. In reply, Judy managed to push herself onto her knees, and hop around so that her back was facing her sister.
“Can you undo my arms and wrists? If so, then I can free both of us from these ropes.”
One hour later, both women were untying the ropes around their ankles, and adding the last remnants of their bindings to a large pile on the floor. They hugged each other, and Judy went to phone the local police station. As Bunty pulled off her boots and rubbed her ankles, Judy came back in.
“The police say the post office has been broken into – they must have used my keys to get in. They’re on their way round now.”
“At least we’re alive – let’s be grateful for that” Bunty said, and the two sisters hugged each other.