The Cat as a Kitten
Do you know, I was talking to a friend recently, and he asked me about the first time I had to fly solo on a major robbery. It made me think for a little while, and then I remembered the first time I did what our American friends call the Apartment Challenge.
The idea is simple enough – you pick a building which has a number of tenants or flats in it, and you get as much as you can out, while at the same time dealing with whoever or whatever you may find there. Now, this would have been about 1978, and the house I was set the challenge for was a student house near Tottenham. It was a large detached house, and there were five students inside, but after that, I was on my own – and flying solo for the first time, as I said.
The challenge started for me at about eight on an autumn evening, and I had packed carefully, as well as taking care with my choice of clothing – a brown roll neck sweater under a cord jacket, jeans and soft shoes. I looked at the house and then walked round the back, looking up to see that the small bathroom window was open.
So I sling my bag over my shoulder, looked round and then scaled the drainpipe, opening the window and slipping in as I took care not to knock half a dozen bottles of bath salts into the bath.
I stopped for a moment, and listened to see if anyone had heard, before I looked out of the door. Nobody was about, but I could see the first door on the left was open, and the sound of Radio 1 was coming out, so I decided that would be a good place to stop.
Looking in, I saw a woman sitting in a chair, her legs up on the table. Her long brown hair was over a red poncho, and her black and white checked pants were tucked into a pair of knee length shiny black leather boots.
I smiled as I came in and closed the door, watching her as she looked at me, and then saying “don’t scream – I’m not going to hurt you, just rob you and your flatmates.”
“OH my,” she said as she looked at me, “this isn’t a joke is it?”
“No – but it does mean I need to keep you in here, nice and quiet.” I saw a ball of twine on the table, and said “please, put your legs on the ground, and your hands behind the back of the chair.”
She looked at me again, and then smiled as she said “a little excitement is probably what I need,” then put her feet down as I picked up the twine and walked behind her, putting her hands together palm to palm before I used the cord to secure them together.
“SO do you do this often,” she said as I wound the twine between her wrists as well, and then pulled it down, tying it round the chair back before I took her legs back under the seat and put her ankles together. I even heard her sigh softly as I started to wind the twine around and between her ankles, leaving her tied to the seat as I cut the twine – and put the scissors into my bag, along with the rest of the roll.
“Your valuables, if you would be so kind?”
“In there,” she said as she nodded at the top drawer of a bureau, watching me as I smiled and availed myself of her valuables.
“Now, I regret to say you must sit here quietly, so as not to alert the others,” I said as I turned the radio up. “Do you have any scarves?”
“Kinky,” she said as she twisted round. “Look in the wardrobe.”
I looked in and found a large cream headscarf, which I rolled into a band and then tied a knot in the middle of. She smiled as she opened wide, the knot sitting behind her teeth as I tied the band round her head, and then blew her a kiss, before I looked out of the door.
It was still quiet, but after I had stepped out and taken a couple of steps, the door right beside me opened and a brown haired woman came out, wearing a black minidress covered in coloured circles, and a pair of dusky black leather boots.
She looked at me and opened her mouth to scream, so I had no choice out to put my hand over her mouth and carry her back into her room, putting her on her bad as I looked into her eyes and said “be quiet – I’m not going to hurt you, but you need to be quiet.”
She looked at me, and then slowly nodded.
“If I take my hand away, will you scream?”
She shook her head, as I removed my hand and said “sorry about that – roll over, and put your hands behind your back.”
“What are you going to do to me,” she said as I grabbed a long paisley chiffon scarf from her table.
“I’m robbing this house, so I need to stop you warning the others,” I whispered as I crossed her wrists and used the scarf to secure them together, then grabbed a second scarf ad used it to tie her ankles together.
“Who are you?”
“Hush,” I said as I pulled her ankles back, and used the last scarf on the table to secure her ankles to her wrists. Not the most comfortable thing to do, but I was in a hurry. Rolling her onto her side, I picked up a handkerchief and stuffed it gently into her mouth, then she watched as I collected her jewellery.
“Forgive me,” I then said as I used the belt from her dressing gown as a cleave gag, to keep the cloth in place, and looked out of the room again. The hallway was empty, so I slipped out and walked to the top of the stairs.
There was one more door on this floor, so I listened carefully and then opened it as quietly as I could. Slipping into the room, I put my finger to my lips as I looked at the very beautiful blonde sitting there.
She was wearing a brown roll necked sweater and suede miniskirt, brown hose and knee length suede boots in the same material as her skirt. She looked at me, closed her book and put it down, and then purred “so, handsome, what are you doing in my room?”
“Honestly? I just tied up two of your housemates and robbed them, and now I’m going to do the same to you.” In those days, houses tended to only have one phone line, and I was never more grateful for that.
“Oh are you now? I hope you were – gentle with them.”
“I am always gentle, if insistent,” I said with a smile, “why do you ask?”
She stood up and walked to the wardrobe – and that’s when I realised this was probably not the first time she had been tied up, as she produced several lengths of white rope and laid them on the bed,
“Go on,” she said as she turned her back to me and crossed her wrists behind herself, “show me what you can do?”
Well, how could I refuse an invitation such as that? I crossed a length of rope over and secured her wrists tightly together, as she looked over her shoulder and watched me.
“You’ve done this before,” she said quietly.
“I’m a professional – sit down please, and cross your ankles.”
Which is exactly what she did, as I knelt down and bound her ankles tightly together. IT was as I stood up that there was a knock on the door, and another voice said “you in there Yvonne?”
I stood behind the door and looked at the blonde as she said “come in Cher.” The door opened and a dark haired young woman came in, wearing a green smock top with a wide brown leather belt, a brown mini skirt, purple tights and knee length purple suede boots.
“I was just wondering if...” She saw Yvonne sitting on the bed, smiling as I put my hand over her mouth from behind, and said “not a word, Cher – just do as I say, all right?”
“It’s all right, Cher’s not going to raise the alarm, are you Cher? He’s probably got Connie and Betty trussed already – now it’s our turn?”
I could feel her lips break into a smile as she nodded, and so it was she was soon sitting next to her friend, her wrists tied tightly behind her back and her crossed ankles secured together.
“I think I need to make sure you two stay together – so back to back or facing each other.”
“Facing each other, lying on the bed,” Cher said, “but can you do us a favour first?”
“Well, I am robbing you, so you may ask.”
“There is a roll of sticking plaster in there,” Yvonne said as she nodded to the wardrobe, “put some of that over our mouths, and then tie us together on the bed.”
Now, I was by no means a prude then or now – and I have seen a few more intruding things since then – but I found the plaster, used it to gag them, then made them lie facing each other before I tied a length around their waists, and another rope around their thighs, then finally their calves.
As they got – friendly, I found Yvonne’s jewels, and some money, and then checked the other empty rooms. I knew there was still one girl to go however, and /I still had to search downstairs.
I slowly walked down, listening to the sound of the television in the front room, and then looked in. The last housemate was there, wearing a minidress made of a cream fabric with lilac details and a chintz pattern on it, as well as knee length white boots. The sleeves of her dress flowed from her elbows, covering her hands.
Well, I still had the twine, and the roll of sticking plaster, so I decided on the direct approach, walking in and saying “good evening – please, don’t get up.”
She looked at me, her soft red hair flowing in curls to her shoulders, and then slowly raised her hands as she looked at me. “Where are the others,” she whispered.
“Having fun in their rooms,” I said with a smile. She was sitting in one of those old armchairs that had wooden armrests, so I said “I need to make sure you stay there, please, put your hands on the armrests, palms down.”
“They haven’t been hurt?”
I shook my head and watched as she put her hands down, then used the twine to secure her arms down to the rests, taking it around and between her wrists and the wood, as well as across the chair. I then used more of the twine to tie her ankles together, and across to a leg of the chair, and then finally secured her legs together below her knees.
I then looked into her eyes, and said “pure your lips please.”
She offered no resistance as I pressed a strip of brown fabric plaster firmly over her lips, and then searched the rest of the house, before leaving by the front door.
A small tale, I know – but it has a sequel. I was at an antiques fair last week, when two women in their sixties came past me. They were both wearing jumpers, knee length skirts and long boots, with scarves over their shoulders, but as we passed, they looked at me for a moment.
“May I help you?”
“You probably don’t remember us – I’m Yvonne, this is Cher.”
I stopped for a moment, and then said “I need to thank you for not alerting the police to who I was and am.”
“No problem,” Cher said, “but if you can find your way to visit us again...”