A Gentleman Never Rushes
The view over Kensington Gardens allowed Hanan to see life in the infinite variety it came in, as she slowly sipped her coffee. She was wearing a black silk dressing gown, her dark hair falling down behind her as the door to the kitchen opened.
“Good morning Rida,” she said without turning round.
“Good morning Mother,” her daughter said as she poured herself a cup of the strong brew. She was an inch smaller than her mother, but with the same dark hair, and was wearing a pair of red pyjamas made from silk.
“Your father has already left for the embassy, and will be there until late,” Hanan said as she turned round, “what are your plans for today?”
“I have classes from ten until two,” Rida said as she sat herself down, and helped herself to a pastry, “but I should be home as soon as they are finished.”
“Excellent – I need to visit the charity office this morning, but I will be back by one. I will see you this afternoon.”
As she headed to the door, Hanan turned and said “naturally, you will be appropriately dressed?”
“Naturally,” Rida said as she watched her mother leave the room, before shaking her head as she took her mobile phone out of her jacket pocket.
“Steve? I’ll see you half an hour before the lecture.”
The housekeeper was busy preparing the meal for her mistress’ return when she saw the small grey car pull up in the street outside. From the kitchen window, she could see the door open, and someone in black trousers get out, but in itself that was far too common a site to mean anything to her.
Indeed, the sound of the bell announcing a visitor to the front door was of no concern. She had already taken delivery of a number of items, both for the house and for the family, and as she climbed the staircase and crossed the marble floored hall she assumed it was just another such delivery.
Opening the door, she started to say something, and then walked slowly backwards as the two men came in. “Good afternoon,” the taller of the two said as his companion closed the door, “please, forgive the intrusion, but we wish to have a private discussion with the ladies of the house. Perhaps we can accompany you back to the kitchen?”
“Of course,” she said quietly as she felt his gloved hand on her arm, and they walked down to the kitchen.
The local church clock was striking the hour as Hanan stepped out of the limousine. Her long black hair was now hidden under a red scarf that covered her head and shoulders, the colour matching that of the floor length crimson gown she was wearing. The gown had long sleeves, the only form of decoration a row of cloth flowers that went from her right shoulder down to the other side.
As she walked up the stairs, she turned to watch the limousine as it drove off, and then opened the door, walking in and closing the door behind herself as she looked round.
“Cassandra, I am back,” she called out, only to hear no answer. “She must be in the kitchen,” Hanan said to herself as she walked into the drawing room, sitting herself down in an old chair with gold covered wood and ornate upholstery, and picking up a magazine as she rang the bell. The skirt of her dress rose up, revealing her gold heeled sandals as she crossed her legs and started reading.
As the door opened and closed, Hanan said without looking up “I would like some coffee please Cassandra.”
“I am afraid Cassandra is unavoidably detained – but I would be more than happy to arrange for some coffee to be brought, dear lady.”
Hanan looked up as she heard the male voice, and looked at the owner of the voice standing in front of her. He was about six foot five tall, with broad shoulders, and was wearing a black leather jacket over a roll necked sweater, dark trousers and shoes, and black leather gloves on his large hands. The most striking thing about him, however, were his piercing blue eyes and his smile in the holes in the balaclava mask, as well as the knife he held in his hand.
“Would it be rude of me to ask,” Hanan said quietly, “where my housekeeper is?”
“My friend is currently taking care of her,” the man said with a smile, “otherwise, I am sure she would have attended you herself. For the moment, I am afraid I will have to be the person you talk to.”
“Well then,” Hanan said as she put the magazine down, “may I know the name of the gentleman who is paying this unexpected visit to my home.”
“Oh of course, forgive my manners,” the man said, “I am Mister Tall. Before you ask, my friend has already ensured the security system had been disabled in this fine house, so you and I may talk in total privacy, unafraid of what anyone may see or hear at a later date.”
“Mister Tall? I have heard your name – you are one of the Gentlemen Robbers, correct?”
“That is correct,” Mister Tall said as the door opened, and a second gentleman came in, carrying a tray with a coffee pot and cups. “I anticipated the mistress of the house had returned, and so brought this,” he said as he turned and walked over, laying the pot on a table next to Hanan.
As he did this, she looked at him, dressed identically to the first man, but a good foot smaller.
“May I introduce my partner, Mister Small?”
“A pleasure,” he said as he held the coffee pot in his gloved hands and poured some, “do you take your coffee black?”
“On this occasion, I shall,” Hanan said, slightly taken back by the situation she found herself in. Sipping from the cup, she smiled and said “my compliments. And Cassandra?”
“You need not worry on her behalf, she is quiet comfortable,” Mister Small said. “For now, we ask you to relax, and enjoy your drink.”
“And after that?”
“Ah,” Mister Tall said quietly, “well, after that, we will require you to give us a tour of the residence, at which point we shall be relieving you, with deepest regret, of some of your valuables.”
“I had deduced that would be the case,” Hanan said quietly, “and when you have completed the tour?”
“Then, and again with deep regret, we must leave you incapable of raising the alarm for some time – but be assured, your modesty will be preserved, and every courtesy shown.”
“Most thoughtful,” Hanan said quietly as she sipped her coffee. “So what will the first stage of this process be?”
“If you will excuse me for a moment,” he said as he left the room, returning a few minutes later with a large black leather bag. Placing it on the floor, Mister Tall at opposite Hanan as she drank, and said “now, here is what is going to happen...”
“Are you sure you can’t let me in?”
“I’m sure Steve,” Rida said as she got out of the car, holding his hand as she did so and then retrieving her shoulder bag. She was wearing a tight knee length dress, made of black cotton with a light pink front, and lace ends to the sleeves, a pair of black stockings and pumps with a three inch heel and raised sole. Her dark hair and neck was covered by a pink silk scarf, the same shade as the front of her dress, while she had a necklace of small beads round her neck.
“Your mother’s home isn’t she?”
“Sadly, yes – I will see you tomorrow,” Rida said as she gave the young man a little peck on the cheek, and then walked quickly up the stairs, waving as he drove off before she went into the house.
“I am in the drawing room,” she heard her mother call out, “would you please join me in here, Rida?”
“Must have a visitor,” she said to herself as she walked in, and saw her mother sitting in the chair. She also saw the masked man standing with her, the knife clearly in his gloved hand, as he said “come in, my dear young lady.”
“Mother, what is going on,” Rida said quietly, as she heard the door close behind her. Turning, she saw a smaller man, dressed the same way as he pointed a very real gun at her, and said “please, no screams, no loud noises. So long as you do as we say, no harm will come to you.”
“they are speaking the truth,” her mother said, Rida noticing for the first time the fact her mother’s arms had been moved behind her back, and the band of white rope that sat like a rope belt around her waist.
“Please,” the tall man said, “allow my friend Mister Small to relieve you of that large bag, and then stand very quietly with your hands by your side.”
Rida nodded as she felt the bag lifted from her shoulder, and watched as it was placed by the wall some distance away, and then felt her arms as they were drawn behind her back, the gentle pressure as her wrists were crossed and held together, and then the feeling of soft cords as the masked man began to bind them, pulling the rope firmly around and between her arms until she could not move them apart, and then gently passing the rope around her waist to lock them against her back.
“Mother, are they intending to rob us?”
“That is their intention,” Hanan said as she tried to move her own wrists, “but they have not harmed us, and I do not believe they intend to so long as we do as they say.”
“Quite correct – allow me to make the introductions. I am Mister Tall, and the man behind you preparing to secure your arms to your upper body is Mister Small.”
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” she heard him say as the rope was taken around her body, pulling her arms into her sides as it was tightened below her chest, and then above her chest. As it was taken around several times, Hanan said “I trust nothing beyond what is necessary will happen to me or my daughter?”
“On that, you have my word of honour,” Mister Tall said as they watched Mister Small bind Rida’s arms, and then carefully feed the rope under her left arm, bringing it gently up and around the back of her neck before taking it under the other arm.
“May I invite you to take a seat here,” Mister Small said as he indicated an Ottoman couch, Rida nodding as she walked over and sat herself down.
“I must now do the same to you,” Mister Tall said as he was handed a long length of rope, Hanan nodding as she felt the bands pressing her arms into her sides. She watched with a mild, detached interest as the ropes sank into the soft material of her dress, even as she realised the masked man was taking every care not to touch her in an inappropriate manner.
“I will give you credit for your manners,” she said quietly as she felt the bands tightening, before Mister Tall secured the ropes behind her back.
“Now,” he said as she helped her to stand, “let us go on a tour of this fine building.”
“I have a request – two actually,” Hanan said. “First, wherever I may go last, I wish Rida to join me there.”
“Of course – and the second request?”
“I wish to see Cassandra.”
“OF course – Mister Small, will you kindly entertain this young lady and ensure she is properly comfortable while we do this?”
“Of course, Mister Tall,” the smaller man said as Rida watched her mother walk out with the other masked man. “Mister Tall and Mister Small? They are surely not your real names?”
“Of course not,” Mister Small said as he selected two more lengths of rope, and walked over to kneel in front of Rida. “Now, would you kindly cross your ankles, and then I will ensure you cannot move your legs.”
“Is this really necessary?”
“I regret to say it is,” he said as he watched the young lady cross her legs, and then wrapped the rope around them, the dark of her tights lightening under the pressure of the band of rope as he secured them together. As he tied the ends off, he said “I trust this is not too uncomfortable?”
“Surprisingly, no,” Rida said as she watched the small masked intruder wrap some rope around her legs below her knees, and bind them tightly together, the rope going between her legs. “So what is going to happen now?”
“Well,” Mister Small said as he looked round the room, “I see some items of interest in this room. So, I am going to have a closer look – but before I do so, I need to ensure you cannot raise the alarm verbally.
“Will you please open your mouth as wide as you can?”
“Msssrseeemmdmm,” Cassandra said from her seat as she looked at Hanan and Mister Tall. She was secured firmly in place with bands of rope around her waist, chest and arms, the knotted scarf sitting firmly in her mouth as she tried to speak. Her legs were tied firmly to the front legs of the chair at her ankles and legs, as she was seated watching her small television.
“It is all right, Cassandra, I am sure you had no choice in the matter,” Hanan said as Mister Tall led her back up the stairs, and then to the next floor of the residence. He took her through the rooms one by one, Hanan watching as he asked questions, and where she indicated opening and removing jewels, cash and other items.
This was particularly true as they found her husband’s private office, her admiration for his care rising despite her position as she watched Mister Tall search their safe, not taking anything relating to her husband’s position, but taking other items of value.
Eventually, they came to the master bedroom, Mister Tall smiling as he said “I invite you to make yourself comfortable on the bed, and tell me where to look to minimise any mess made.”
“At least you have given me the choice,” she said as she sat down, “I presume this is where I will be left?”
“It is indeed – my friend has already disconnected the telephone,” he said as she sat herself down, and watched as he removed a length of rope from the bag he had placed their valuables in, before he knelt and said “would you kindly put your ankles together.”
“And when you have bound my ankles,” Hanan said, one eyebrow raised as she watched him take the rope around and between her legs, “what then?”
“Do not be concerned – I will do nothing to disturb the modesty and sanctity of your dress,” Mister Tall said as he tied the ends off, “would you allow me to assist you to move your legs on the bed?”
“Of course,” Hanan said as he lifted her legs up, and allowed her to move round before he laid them gently on the ornate coverlet. She then watched as he folded her skirt round her legs, and then used another length of rope to secure her legs below her knees, only her ankles partially showing by the time he had finished.
“I would like Rida to join me now, if that is possible,” she said as she looked at the masked man.
“One moment,” he said as he took a mobile phone out. “Mister Small? Would you be able to assist Rida to come up to the master bedroom?
“Excellent.” Ending the call, he said “she will be up presently. Now, for this room, where should I look?”
A few minutes later, Hanan looked over as the door opened, and Mister Small came in, carrying Rida in his arms.
“Ruullrrtmm,” she said through the band of white tape that encircled her head, covering her mouth as well as her scarf.
“I am all right – and you, my daughter?”
Rida nodded as Mister Small laid her next to her mother on her bed, Hanan watching as Mister Small carefully adjusted her skirt, and then looked to his partner.
“Would you be so good as to ensure her mother is just as silenced as her daughter?”
“I would be honoured,” Mister Small said as he looked at Hanan, and then retrieved from the bag a red silk square, which he folded into a pad before saying “if you would be so good as to open your mouth?”
“I will talk to you later, Rida,” Hanan said, her daughter nodding as she felt the silk on her tongue, and then heard a sound like something peeling away, before she felt the tape pressing on her head as he wound it round her head, covering her mouth and also the scarf, her modesty preserved as she was silenced.
He then helped her to lie down, again adjusting her skirt as the two women looked at each other, and then at the two masked men as they completed their work, putting everything into a bag before they looked at the two women. Glancing at the clock, Hanan was surprised to see it was nearly five.
“Thank you for your hospitality,” Mister Tall said with a small bow at the waist. “The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu – may we never meet again.”
“Fnkukfrnthrrnnss,” both women said as the two gentlemen walked down the staircase, removing their balaclavas as they walked out and down the staircase.
“Problem, Mister Small?”
“We appear to have a parking ticket, Mister Tall,” he said quietly as he picked the envelope from under the windscreen wiper, and both men got in.
“A small additional expense for such a pleasant afternoon – shall we?”