The Cat Faces His Past
As you know, I sometimes do private security consultations – and I know I have told you in the past about the fact that, on one or two occasions, I have actually met those I also met in the earlier days of my career. Recently, however, I was asked to call round one evening to...
Well, it may be easier if I just tell the tale, and then you will see what I mean. The request came from a friend, to go and talk to a contact who has asked her about home security. I therefore drove round, and pulled up outside the front of the detached house which was outside Canterbury. Getting out, I removed my briefcase and walked to the front door, looking round as I pressed the bell.
The women who opened the door was in her late fifties, but looked ten years younger. She was wearing a grey runic style dress with a patterned neckline, a black scarf hanging loosely around her neck and down her back, and a pair of black patent leather boots.
“Mister Jacobs,” she said as she looked at me, and for a moment I thought she recognised me from somewhere. I certainly had that feeling I had seen her somewhere before, but put that to one side as I said “That’s me. Are you Mrs Bronstein?”
“No – she’s inside. My name is Hema,” she said as she held the door open and I walked in. I noticed the light streaks of grey in her hair as we walked into the front room.
“Mister Jacobs? I’m Eleanor Bronstein,” a red haired woman said as she stood up, and we shook hands. She was wearing a black woollen dress with a cowl neck, leggings and knee length fabric boots, with a black will scarf tied round her neck. “You’ve met Hema, and this is my friend Electra.”
“Charmed,” I said as I nodded to the third woman. She had a black Pashmina shawl wrapped loosely round her body, covering a purple short sleeved blouse. She was also wearing a knee length silk skirt, decorated with a black, grey and white geometric pattern, dark tights and black high heeled leather boots.
“So, Mrs Bronstein,” I said as I sat down, “how can I be of assistance to you this evening?”
“Well, Mister Jacobs,” she said as she looked at me, and then she looked again. “Forgive me, but have we met before,” she finally asked.
“Well,” I said, “I have met a lot of people in my years...”
“I can imagine,” Electra said, “but I recognise you as well, do you Hema?”
As the third woman nodded, I suddenly realised that I had seen all three of them before – and so I said “ah – well, if you wish me to leave.”
“No,” Eleanor said, “I think if I am going to ask security advice from anyone, a reformed thief is the person to ask.”
“You as well,” Hema said, and then she looked at Electra who also nodded.
“Well, this is a little embarrassing,” I said, “I hope the years have dimmed any anger you had towards me?”
“Well, we will forget is you give advice, and then maybe do something for us?”
“And that would be,” I said with a smile.
“Allow me to give our husbands a surprise – but first to business.”
The next hour or so was spent in discussing security needs, before Eleanor said “that all seems reasonable. Now, what don’t you tell us where you first met Hema?”
“Well, that would be at a country house, around about... 1982?”
“Something like that,” Hema said quietly. “I was working as an au pair there...”
I remembered the day now. I had been asked to – shall we say, obtain an objet d’art from this country house in the depths of Somerset, and had managed to get entry on a Sunday afternoon while the family were away for the weekend.
Note the words there – the family. I had no idea if any domestic staff were going to be there, so I had come prepared. Which was just as well – because I walked into the hallway, and ran into a young woman who had just come down the staircase.
She had long light brown hair, and wore a white roll neck sweater and jodhpurs, a beige waistcoat and black riding boots. She looked at me, and turned to run – but I was quicker, as I grabbed her round the waist, put my hand over her mouth, and asked her to calm down and remain quiet, assuring her I had no intention of harming her.
Eventually, she had done so, and I removed my hand, taking a length of cord from my pocket and tied her wrists together behind her back, hands palm to palm. I then escorted her into the front room, and helped her to lie down on a long Ottoman before I took another length of cord, and tied her ankles tightly together, before securing them with a third length to the foot of the recliner.
I smiled as I looked at her, and told her to lie still, and then she would not hurt herself. Taking a handkerchief from my other pocket, I folded it and pushed it into her mouth, before I took out a length of brown sticking plaster, removed the backing paper and pressed it firmly over her mouth.
And that was where I left her, as I went to find the item I had been asked to collect, and then left...
“So, I trust someone released you in the end?”
“Eventually,” Hema said with a smile, “but, like my friends here, I often wondered what it would like to be that way again – and tonight, we have the opportunity to experience that.”
“Indeed – and do you have what will be needed?”
“Enough for all three of us,” Eleanor said as she left the room, returning with a large holdall which she placed in the centre of the room. Opening it, I took out a length of rope, doubled it over and said “so where would you care to be?”
“We will all be on here, as before,” Hema said as she indicated a recliner, and then turned, putting her hands behind her back. She smiled as I wrapped the rope around her wrists, making sure they were secured firmly and comfortably, before I said “do you wish any further binding on your arms?”
“I think we all wish to find it difficult to move,” Electra said, so I doubled over a longer length of rope and tied it around Hema’s arms and upper body, making two bands as I secured her arms to her body. The other two smiled as she sat down, and Eleanor looked at me.
“So, Mister Cat, do you remember me now?”
I looked at the oldest of the three women, and nodded. “Of course I do – you were one of the very first women I had the pleasure of meeting in my career...”
You have to go back to 1973, and I was breaking into a flat in the Camden area of London. IT would have been about midnight, which you would think would have been a good time to make such a visit.
So you can imagine my surprise when the door to the apartment opened, and a thin blonde haired woman came in. She was wearing a one piece body suit, with a spiral pattern, and knee length tan leather boots – and a look of surprise as she saw a young man searching through her drawers.
Fortunately, I could take advantage of that surprise, as I came forward and took her arm, promising her I would not hurt her if she did as I said. She nodded and asked what I was going to do – so I asked her to show me any scarves she had.
She was a modern, fashionable woman, and scarves she had a plenty – which I put to good use, four of them holding her spread eagled on the bed, and a fifth tied between her lips as a gag, while I searched for her jewellery.
I left her there, with a promise to let the police know her predicament, before I slipped out...
“And you kept your word,” Eleanor said, “the police arrived an hour later. And when I saw your picture in the brochure my friend gave me, I knew it was you – even if you are older and possibly more handsome.”
“Flattery goes a great deal,” I said as I took out another length of rope, and doubled it over, before I walked over and guided Eleanor’s hands behind her back. She was standing in front of a leather armchair, while Hema was watching, and Electra was grinning.
“Well, a little more modesty is required tonight I think,” I said as I made sure her wrists were secured together, and then started to bind her arms to her sides in the same way I had done with Hema. Once I had her secured, she sat herself down in the armchair as I looked at Electra.
“I think I would prefer to be tied to the chair,” Electra said as she walked over and put one between the other two women. Sitting herself down, she put her arms through the chair back, as I took more rope and started to tie her wrists together.
“As I recall,” I said as I looked at the dark haired woman, “you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
It was 1978, and I had already secured the older woman who lived in the semi-detached house on the outskirts of Birmingham. She was lying on the bed, staring at me over the knotted scarf that was in her mouth, her limbs secured, as I searched through her jewellery boxes.
“I must apologise again for the inconvenience,” I said as I looked at her, “I trust you are not too uncomfortable?”
She shook her head and twisted round, the ropes rubbing on her leather boots and corduroy dress, but as I closed the last drawer I was surprised to hear the sound of the front door opening. I put my finger to my lips, picked up the rucksack that had my supplies in it, and walked down the stairs.
There was a young woman there, putting a designer carrier bag on the hall table, and looking round. She was wearing a puce coloured woollen dress, with a rolled collar and sleeves that came half way down her forearms, a thin black belt tied round her waist, and knee length straight burgundy leather boots. A brown beret was perched on her head.
“Mrs Brown? I have your delivery from...” She turned and looked at me, and then said “oh my...”
“Quite – I regret to say I need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm for a while. Equally regretfully, I cannot see those boots of yours damaged. So please, go into the front room, sit down and remove them.”
And so it was, about fifteen minutes later, that I was smoothing a length of silver tape over the mouth of the young lady. I had used the same tape to secure her wrists and ankles together, as well as her arms to her sides and her legs above her knees.
“Sorry about this,” I said quietly, “but I need to make my getaway, and I need some time to do just that. I hope your employer is an understanding one.”
She looked at me and struggled, the tape crinkling as she moved around and I left...
“Now this is much more comfortable,” Electra said as I tied the rope around her wrists to the chair back, and then used a length of rope to secure her body to the chair back.
“Now, I need to secure your legs,” I said as I turned again to Hema, “and help you to lie down, but first I need to ask how you wish to remain quiet.”
“A real burglar would use what he had to hand,” the woman said, “use my scarf.”
“Very well then,” I said as I lifted the long black chiffon scarf up from her neck, Hema opening her mouth as I wrapped the scarf around her head and between her lips with three passes – and then tied the ends securely at the base of her neck.
I then took some more rope, and secured her ankles together side by side, the rope squeaking on the leather, before I used a second length, folding her skirt back slightly as I secured her legs together below her knees.
“Lie down,” I said quietly, Hema lying on her side with her head on the armrest before I adjusted the skirt of her dress. She nodded and smiled over her gag, as I turned my attention to Eleanor.
“Your legs first I think,” I said quietly as she stretched them out, and I secured her ankles together, and then her legs below her knees. She made herself comfortable, and then looked at Hema.
“I think we should share the experience,” she said as I looked at her, and then walked behind, taking her scarf and using it as a cleave gag on her. I checked she was all right, and then looked at Electra.
She smiled and put her ankles together, watching as I secured them just as tightly as I had the other two, and then pulled them to the side and secured them to the leg of the chair.
“You are a true gentleman,” she said as she smiled, and I secured her legs together below her knees as well.
“I do not think your shawl will make a safe or effective gag,” I said as I looked at her, “would you be upset if I used a tape gag on you again?”
“Not if you make it something over than silver tape,” she said quietly.
“Lkknmemdssncbnt,” Eleanor mumbled, so I went to her bathroom, and found a roll of white medical tape. Coming back, I showed it to Electra, who nodded as I tore some strips off and used them to cover her mouth.
“Perhaps something to keep you entertained,” I said with a smile as I turned on the CD player, and put in a selection of show tunes, before I left them to their experiences, and to the wait for their husbands to find them...