The Cat’s Exam
Is the tea all right? I hope so – it makes a change at the moment just to sit down and reminisce…
Now, how is your youngest one doing with his exams? Good – I remember when I had to sit my own final examination to gain entry to our professional society, having served my apprenticeship. All I was told at the time was to be at a certain place at a certain time…
So it was, one April evening, that I was in Hyde Park, walking round before I was approached by a senior member of the BA. He greeted me, and then handed me a canvas bag. “Inside,” he said, “is everything you may require to complete this assessment.” Handing me a piece of paper, he said “this address has four flats. Rob these houses, dealing with whoever you may find there, and report back to the main office for the final assessment.”
So that was it – no warning, no prep, and I had that afternoon and evening. Nodding, I set off and fifteen minutes later I was outside the house in question. Looking at my watch, I saw it was three o’clock – time to go to work, as it were…
Getting into the house was not an issue – I went in through the basement door, and made my way to the second floor. I figured working my way down from the top would be the easiest way. There were two doors on either side, so I tossed a coin, and picked the lock on the door to the left.
I found myself in a large open air, with a beaded curtain to the side which I figured led to the kitchen, and other doors for the bedroom and bathroom. And it was from the bathroom I heard a noise, and I knew I would need to make sure someone did not raise the alarm.
I put the bag down, and positioned myself by the door. Now, bear in mind I was unaware I was going to do this, so I was dressed casually – open necked denim shirt and jeans, and black shoes. At least I had some gloves on…
The woman who came out was in her early forties, with long black hair, and was wearing a sleeveless dark blue dress that reached to just below her knees, and had a leopard skin patterned wide collar, the zip fastening pulled down a little from the neck. She was also wearing black high heeled sandals, and had no idea I was there until I grabbed her from behind, putting my gloved hand over her mouth as I calmly told her not to scream, or struggle, but to do as I said.
Fortunately, she complied with my request, and as I took my hand away she asked if I was going to rob her. I said yes, and that was all that was going to happen so long as she allowed me to make sure she could not raise the alarm. As she nodded, I told her to lie on the floor, cross her ankles and put her hands behind her back.
Opening the bag I had been given, I took out a length of white rope and bound her wrists, making sure the rope went between her wrists as she moved her long fingers, with then secured her ankles in the same way. I then pulled them back and tied them to her wrists. Five minutes, and she was secured as I rolled her onto her side, smiled, and pressed a length of white tape down over her mouth.
She watched as I walked into the bedroom, and soon availed myself of her jewellery. As I came back out, however, the door to the flat opened, and a teenage girl who had to be her daughter came in. She was wearing a cream coloured vest top, laced at the front like a peasant blouse, a knee length blue skirt, and cream coloured heels – and she stood speechless as he saw her mother looking up at her from the floor, and me standing in the door to the bedroom.
For a moment, I thought I had failed there and then, but instead she looked at me and asked if I had done that to her mother. I nodded, and said I now had to make sure she could raise the alarm either. She asked her mother if she was all right, and as the older woman nodded she said I needed to secure her as well.
So I put the jewellery into the bag, took out more rope, and secured her wrists together behind her back. I then wrapped some rope round her stomach and arms to lock them in place, making sure it went between her body and arms on either side as well. Sitting her on the floor so that she could lean on a chair, I then crossed and secured her ankles together, before using a thick rolled up cloth as a cleave gag.
Leaving them to try and talk to each other, I raided the rest of the rooms, and then pulled the telephone wire out of the wall. It was so much easier in those days to prevent them alerting the police, just disconnect one or two phones.
Anyway – first flat down, as I let myself out and closed the door behind myself, walked across the hall and got into the second flat. This was a more traditional one, with rooms leading off from a hallway, but it was also empty, so I got straight to work, as it were, wondering when the occupants would get back – it was just after five by this point.
There was a nice selection of jewellery as well – and I added to my haul – but my thoughts of getting out unseen were thwarted as I heard the front door open and close, and two women talking. I could also hear the television as it was turned on, and the strains of The Magic Roundabout began.
Making my way along the corridor and looking in the front room, I saw two sisters, students at a guess. Both had long light brown hair, and were wearing mini dresses. One was sleeveless, grey with a geometric pattern, and buttons at the front, while the other had short capped sleeves in a brown and white print, matched by the top and skirt of the dress, and a grey upper body. Both girls were also wearing hose.
I knew I would need to – persuade them both to stay quiet at the same time, so I put my bag down and selected something from the kitchen before I walked in on them. They both saw me at the same time, holding the large carving knife as I told them both to keep quiet.
No, I was NOT going to use it to harm them – but at that point, I knew I needed them subdued and listening to me, so I waved it round as I walked in, and they both got the point. They were sitting on a couch of the type fashionable then – a wooden base, brown back and arms, striped cushions.
I told them not to shout or raise the alarm, and then to kneel in front of the couch, heads on the cushions and hands behind their backs. They did that, so that I could take two lengths of rope from my bag and secure their wrists together, all the time assuring them I would not harm them – I just needed to make sure they stayed where they were and could not raise the alarm for a while.
I also passed some rope round their waists to make sure their wrists stayed secured to their back, before I told the girl wearing the sleeveless dress to lie on the couch, and rest her head on the armrest. I wanted to use something else to make sure they stayed put, so instead of more rope, I took from the bag a large roll of duct tape.
As her sister watched, I wound the tape round her legs above her knees, and then round her ankles a swell, before I told her to move as far back against the couch as she could – because her sister was going to lie next to her. She managed to lie half on her side as her sister lay down, and I taped her legs in the same place as well.
As they struggled, I told them to put their lips together – and then pressed strips of the silver tape firmly over their mouths, their eyes almost pleading with me as I did that. Picking the knife up, I cut through the telephone cord, and left them to enjoy the BBC news as I picked my bag up, and made my way out of the flat.
So far, so good – two flats down, and the two ground floor ones to go. And it was only just after six. Walking down the stairs, I decided a bold approach may help to speed things up – and I was getting a bit more confident as well – as I rang the doorbell of the first of the two doors.
The woman who opened the door was in her mid-thirties, with short red-brown hair, and wore a long sleeved white jersey dress, with gold heeled sandals that had laces criss-crossing her lower legs in the Grecian style. Very classy – as was her wide eyed reaction as I gently guided her back in, closing the door and smiling as I announced I had come to rob her.
Sometimes – just sometimes – the direct approach worked, and in this case I obviously had tapped into some hidden desire, as she looked at me and said “so you’ll have to tie me up and gag me?” As I nodded in the affirmative – and bear in mind I was a young and somewhat naïve man at this time – I could have sworn she shivered and whispered “goody – my bedroom is this way.”
She walked into her bedroom – pale blue walls, and a royal blue bed – and lay down on her stomach, crossing her hands behind her back as I put my bag down. Well, if she was going to be so open and inviting, I felt it only right and proper to accept the invitation, as I took rope and bound her wrists tightly together. I could have sworn she sighed as I took the rope between her arms, tightening the binding, and then tied it off as she kept talking, telling me where her valuables were.
I then crossed and secured her ankles with more rope, before I used a single length to place her in a light hogtie, her legs bent at ninety degrees as she rolled onto her side. This was the first time I’d robbed someone who wanted to be like this – certainly not the last, but the first on my own – and we talked as she watched me empty her purse and jewellery into my bag.
I had one last task to perform – she had already said she was not going to try and raise the alarm – so I decided she should be really quiet. Folding a clean cloth, I told her to open her mouth, and then pushed the cloth in behind her teeth, filling her mouth, before waiting for her to close her lips before I covered them with silver duct tape. She watched as I picked up my bag, nodded, and then left her in the room…
So – three down, one to go, and so far nobody had raised the alarm. I was beginning to think I was going to pass this with flying colours, as I tried the handle of the last door. To my ever grateful thanks, this door was unlocked, so I was able to slip in and close the door behind me.
The television was on in this house as well, and I could hear Top of The Pops starting. I could also hear a noise in the kitchen, and as I looked in I saw an eighteen-year-old girl making a sandwich. She was very casually dressed – a crimson denim blouse and blue jeans with a thin brown belt, and she was also barefoot.
Coughing slightly, I introduced myself, and apologised for the fact she would not be able to eat her food for a while. She took one look at me – and tried to run past. Now, I abhor violence, and do try to avoid it, but I was on the clock, so I grabbed her and hand gagged her, telling her to behave or it might get a lot worse for her.
Well, it took a while of me talking quietly, but eventually she got the message and nodded. I asked if anyone else was home, and as she shook her head from side to side I walked her into the main room of the apartment. There was a dining table with four chairs to one side of the room, so I told her to pick up one of the chairs and set it in front of the television, then sit down and put her arms by her sides.
I thought for a moment – if I was being assessed, I had one flat with two women secured on the floor, one with two on a couch, and one with the woman on the bed. I wasn’t sure how they were going to do it, but this had to be a chair tie.
The chair was an old, but sturdy one, made with brown wood and upholstered in red with a white fleur de lis pattern. Kneeling behind her, I took her arms around the back of the chair, and started to bind her wrists together, reassuring her if she cooperated, everything would be just fine. Once her wrists were secured, I wrapped some rope round her body and the chair back, and then secured her wrists to that band.
She watched next as I knelt in front of her, and secured her ankles tightly together side by side, cinching and tightening the bands by taking the rope between her legs before I tied it off behind them. I also made sure it was over the cuffs of her jeans, to provide some extra protection to her skin.
A second band of rope further secured her legs above her knees, and then I tied another band around her thighs and the seat of the chair. There then remained the question of how to keep her quiet – and here I did improvise.
I picked up a white hand towel from a pile of ironing, folded it and also picked up a thin purple scarf, before I pressed the towel over her mouth, and then used the scarf to keep it secured, pulling it slightly in as I tied the scarf tightly round her head. She could only watch then as I emptied her purse, and searched the rest of the house.
It was just after eight as I bade her adieu, left the flat and walked out of the house, carrying the bag and whistling as I made my way along the road - and saw the police car with flashing blue lights as it stopped outside and two officers ran in. I suppose I should have been curious as to who had got free first – but I had an appointment to keep.
So that was how I sat – and passed – my final assessment. IT turned out it was the sisters who had managed to free themselves first – I kind of expected that, but at least I had time to complete the task.
So, as I said, passed – and I have never looked back since. More tea?