Gently With Everyone









“Is it all right if I go to my room, Mum?”


“Sure,” Coral said as she watched her fifteen-year-old daughter run up the stairs, the soles of her boots hitting the wood as she did so.  She was in her early forties, with long blonde hair, and was dressed in black – a wool sweater under a tailored jacket, and black leggings which were tucked into a pair of knee length black riding boots with a flat sole. 


“Well, we’re home again Albert,” she said as she looked at the toy poodle she was carrying in her arms, wearing a black dog coat.  “Are you hungry?  Yes you are,” she said as she held the dog and kissed the black nose, and then carried it into the kitchen, the dog wagging its tail as she put it down on the floor, and put a sachet of food into one bowl, water in the other, and put them both on the floor. 


“There you go,” she said with a smile as the dog started to eat, and then she heard the knock on the front door.




“Is that you, Holly?”


“It is,” the fifteen-year-old said as she looked round the bedroom door, “how’s the work going Rhoda?”


“It’s going,” the seventeen said as she looked at her young sister in the doorway.  Holly had long blonde hair, like her mother, and was also dressed in black – a round necked sweater, tight pants, and laced combat boots. 


“Mum is going to cook dinner for seven – think you will be done by then?”


“I imagine so,” Rhoda said before she turned back to her desk.  She was wearing a floral print short sleeved top, with a short black skirt, black leggings and knee length leather boots, and a black and red scarf was tied over her hair.  Holly nodded as she headed to her bedroom, and lay on the bed, music coming from her radio as she picked up a book to read.


“Good afternoon Coral.  Please, forgive the unexpected intrusion, but we need you to walk back very quietly, and keep your hands where we can both see them.”


Coral was staring at the two men as they walked in, dressed from head to foot in black.  Literally, from head to foot in black, including the balaclavas which covered their heads so that only their eyes and lips were visible.  The taller of the two was carrying a gun which he was pointing at Coral, the other man – a foot smaller – closing the door as he held a bag in his gloved hand.


“Who…  What…”


“Some introductions are perhaps in order.  My name is Mister Tall – my colleague, Mister Small.  I need you to remain calm and quiet, Coral – I assure you; no harm will come to you or your daughters so long as they do as I say.”


“But what do you want?”


“Your cooperation – and your valuables.  Where are your daughters?”


“Upstairs – but there is something you need to know.”


“We will be more comfortable talking in the front room, I think.  Mister Small, will you ensure the telephone is disconnected – we can deal with the internet later once we have the family secured.  After you, Coral?”


As she slowly turned and walked into the front room, Coral was trying to process what was going on.  They were being robbed – after everything…


“Before you take a seat, Coral, please be so good as to put your hands behind your back – I wish to ensure they are secured while we talk.”


“Oh – right,” she said quietly as she looked at Mister Tall, moving her hands behind her as she felt the rope around her wrists.  It was tight, but not uncomfortable as Mister Small worked to complete the binding, before she sat down.


“Look, I know you need to secure us,” Coral said quietly, “but my oldest daughter, she’s just had a dose of chemotherapy…”


“Ah,” Mister Tall said, and Coral could hear the concern in that one word.  “May I enquire…”


“Leukaemia – but she is coping.  As for Holly, a few months ago, she was involved in a robbery at a friend’s house, one that was not – as polite as this one.”


“I see.”  Mister Tall leaned over and put a gloved hand on Coral’s knee as he said “I assure you, Mister Small and I will ensure we do nothing to cause them further stress, although they like you will have to be secured.  Perhaps, Mister Small, you could start by asking Holly to join us.”


“Of course, Mister Tall,” the smaller man said as he selected two lengths of rope from the bag, one longer than the other, and left the room while Mister Tall took out another longer length. 


“In the meantime, Coral, let us ensure your arms are properly secured…”




As he walked quietly up the stairs, Mister Small could hear the music coming from one of the rooms.  He listened for a moment, then took a breath in before he opened the door and walked in.  Holly looked up from the bed, and pushed herself back as she whispered “no…  Not again…”


“Hello,” Mister Small said calmly as he closed the door, “you must be Holly.  My name is Mister Small – would you mind if I sat down?”


“But…  You’re wearing a mask.  You’re a robber, aren’t you?”


“Well, I have to admit, I am.  But may I sit with you?  I only desire to talk at this stage.”


Holly nodded, her arms round her legs and her knees on her chin as the masked man sat on the side of the bed.  “Now, the first thing I need to say is, looks aside, I am not going to hurt you Holly.  Your mother told me you had a rather unfortunate experience at a friend’s house.   Is that true?”


As she nodded, Mister Small shook his head.  “I despair sometimes of the way certain members of my work community act when they are in situ.  I can only apologise for anything they may have done – and reassure you that we are not all the same.”


Holly stared at him before she said quietly “so, you are not going to stop me moving?”


“Ah – regretfully, I have to say we are going to stop you moving, Holly, but I can assure you of two things.  One, I am not going to hurt you.  Two, you will be with your mother and your sister, and you will all be the same.  It is my experience that doing this can make it less stressful.”


“You talk in a funny way?”


“I am respectful of you,” Mister Small said as he handed her the smaller length of rope.  “Hold this, and tell me if the rope scares you.”


Holly held the rope in her hands and looked at it, before she said “no.  Why did you ask?”


“Because I need you to do something very brave, Holly.  I want you to stand up and let me use this to keep your hands behind your back.  As I said, your mother and sister will have the same thing done to them, so you will all be the same.”


“Okay, I trust you – you have a nice voice,” Holly said as he stood up, taking the rope from her as she herself stood in front of him.  She bit her lower lip as he took her arms behind her back, and then used the rope to secure them together snugly.  She flexed her fingers as he said “there, tell me how it feels Holly?”


“Not as bad as that time – what is the other rope for?”


“A fair question Holly – I am going to use it to secure your arms to your sides.  So relax, and let me know when you are ready.”  He waited as Holly thought and then nodded before he passed the rope round her and pulled it tight under her chest, gathering the material of her top as he took it round her upper arms.  He worked quickly, methodically, as the bands tightened and held her arms against her sides, and then secured them behind her back.


“It actually feels – nice,” Holly said as she turned and looked at him, and then looked at the door as it was opened, and a second man looked in – dressed identically, but taller.


“Ah – Holly,” he said, “your mother would like you to join her.  If you will come with me, Mister Small will go and talk to your sister.”


“Okay,” Holly said as she walked past him, Mister Tall handing him two fresh lengths of rope before they went down the stairs, and Mister Small walked along the corridor to another door.  He listened for a moment, and then walked in, closing the door as he looked at the girl sitting at the desk.  He waited for a moment, and then said “hello Rhoda.”


She suddenly raised her head, and turned round, her eyes wide as she said “what the…”


“My apologies for waking you,” Mister Small said, “I am aware of the effects of the treatment you are receiving – especially the tiredness.  My name is Mister Small.”


Rhoda was still staring at him, as she whispered “of course you are.  Give me one reason why I should not scream for help.”


“Allow me to give you three.  One, your mother.  Two, your younger sister.”


“And three?”


“Three,” Mister Small said as he placed the ropes on the bed, “I assure you that I am not going to do anything to cause actual harm.  I can understand how you feel, and we will take all measures to ensure you are not placed at risk.”


“But you are going to tie me up?”


“But I am going to tie your up – and then take you to join your mother and Holly.  In deference to the fact I just woke you up, please remain seated while I secure your wrists and arms.”


“You said please?”


“Manners maketh man,” Mister Small said as he picked the shorter rope up and walked over, standing behind Rhoda as he folded her arms behind her back, and secured her wrists together.


“That wasn’t what I was expecting…”


“I suspect it will be more comfortable.”  Mister Small smiled as he secured the ends, and then doubled the longer rope before he passed it round her upper arms, forming two bands that framed her chest as he did so.


“You’re right – that isn’t so bad,” Rhoda said quietly as he secured the ropes behind her, and then helped her to stand up.


“Excellent – let us take this nice and slow,” he said as he opened the door and walked with her, slowly, carefully, along the hallway and down the stairs.  As they entered the front room, Coral looked up and said “Are you all right?”


“I think so,” Rhoda said as she looked at her mother.  Coral was sitting in the centre of the couch, white bands round her ankles and her legs below her knees with the rope cinched between her limbs.  Holly was sat beside her, her feet on the coffee table and rope wrapped round and between her legs, while a taller man dressed like Mister Small was passing the rope between her legs below her knees, making that binding tighter before he secured the ends.


“Hey,” Holly said as she lowered her legs, “I see you met Mister Small.  This, believe it or not, is Mister Tall.”




“Please Rhoda, take a seat beside your mother,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “and I will ensure your legs are secured in the same way as the rest of your family.  Take your time.”


“Are you sure you are all right,” Coral asked as Rhoda sat next to her.


“Yeah – the shock has worn off,” she said quietly as Mister Tall knelt and started to bind her ankles together.  “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and they have not hurt me.  How are you coping, sis?”


“I’m not scared,” Holly laughed, “and that’s a good thing.”  Rhoda nodded as she felt her ankles being drawn together, the rope rubbing on her leather boots as it was tied off, and then Mister Tall used more rope to secure her legs together below her knees.  As he stood up, he said “if you ladies will excuse us, Mister Small and I are going to search the house.  We have your phones, and…”


“The internet is disconnected,” Mister Small said as he looked in.


“Good- if we have your word you will not scream or shout, we will take no further action at this time.”


The three women looked at each other, before Coral said “you have my word.”


“Excellent – shall we, Mister Small?”


As both men left the room, Coral said quietly “let me guess – you can’t reach the knots?”


“Bit difficult in my case,” Rhoda said as she turned, Holly and Coral looking behind her back.


“So I see – why did he do that?”


“So it did not hurt so much – but the ropes are tight, I can tell that.”


“Does it feel this way for both of you as well?”


Coral looked at Holly, and said quietly “what way?”


“When I try to move, and they rub on me, it feels – different.”


Rhoda nodded as she said “yeah, I know what you mean – I guess it is nice and tight.  Mum?”


“Well, I guess you are both growing up,” Coral said quietly, “we should be grateful they haven’t tied us even tighter.”


“Even – tighter?  Mum, is there something you want to share with us?”


Coral blushed and shook her head.  “We’ll talk about it later – my big worry now is they are going to do something to keep us quiet.  Rhoda, how are you feeling?”


“A mixture of terror and excitement…  Oh.  You mean do I feel as if I am going to puke?”


“That’s what I mean.”


“No – but if you told them about my treatment, and given the way they have acted so far, I suspect they may already have considered that.”


“Indeed we have.”


All three of them looked at Mister Tall and Mister Small as they walked in.  “Thank you for your considerations, dear ladies,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small placed several pillowcases in the bag, and then placed a pair of stockings on the seat.  “But, as we overheard you say, it is time to be quiet.  We will start with you, Coral.”




“We have something different for her,” Mister Small said as he rolled the stocking up.  “Please, open your mouth.”  Her daughters watched as the stocking was pushed into her mouth, and she closed her lips as he peeled a length of white tape from a roll, and then smoothed it down over her jaw.


“Does it hurt, Mum?”


Coral looked over and shook her head as Holly opened her mouth, allowing Mister Small to push the second rolled up stocking in before he covered her lips with tape as well.


“Given the treatment you are receiving, we need to ensure your silence in a different way,” Mister Tall said as he held up a belt from a dressing gown, made from red silk.  “It may be a little uncomfortable to begin with, but it will be better if the worst to occur.”


“I get it – an di should say thank you, for all of us,” Rhoda said.


“All compliments are gratefully received,” Mister Tall said as he walked behind her and pulled the red band between Rhoda’s lips, securing the ends as she closed her lips and looked at the others.




“Yhssmhmm,” Rhoda mumbled as she watched the two masked men collect and clear the rest of their items.


“Ladies, it has been a pleasure to meet all of you – and two such brave and resourceful young ladies – his fine day.  We will inform the relevant authorities in due course.


“The Gentlemen Robbers bid you all adieu – may we never meet again.”


Coral nodded as they left the room, and heard the front door open and close.  She then looked at her daughters, before she said “swhdhwhdh?”


“Nhffhnn,” Holly said as the tape showed her lips, “jshrhkhhks, rht?”


“Riht,” Rhoda mumbled as their mother nodded.  They then heard a panting as Albert padded in and looked at them, his head to the side.




The toy poodle nodded as he jumped onto Rhoda’s lap and settled down, the girls shaking their heads as they watched…







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