Graduation Day








“Agafya Khan!”


The young woman was glowing as she walked forward, holding the large black cap in her hand.  The cream silk scarf that covered her head and neck was tucked into the roll neck of her long cream wool dress, a wide black leather belt round her waist and a matching pair of flat riding boots over her feet, the tops under the hem of the skirt.


In her seat in the audience, her mother Kilya was beaming with pride.  The older woman was wearing an olive green coat dress, buttoned up the front, and black pants with black ankle boots.  Like her daughter, she had a scarf covering her head and neck, in her case a large gold scarf with a floral pattern printed on it.  She applauded as her daughter stood at the dais, the cap placed on her head and the degree certificate handed over, and then went down to join the rest of her classmates.


It was a most precious day, and as such, she wished her husband could be here – but Agafya’s father had returned home on family business before the travel restrictions, and now…


She applauded as the next person was capped - after this, they would go home and celebrate…





“I wish he was here as well, mama,” Agafya said as the car turned into the driveway of their detached home, “but he is not.  I am sure he will call later to talk to us.”


“As am I,” Kilya said as they brought the car to a stop in the front of the house, and they both got out.  Neither of them noticed the grey transit van that pulled up at the bottom of the driveway as they walked in.


“So shall I prepare some food while you take a seat,” Kilya said as she closed the door.


“Why not,” Agafya said as she walked into the main room and turned the music centre on.  As the air was filled with tunes, she was surprised to hear a knock on the front door.


“Shall I see who that is, mama?”


“Please,” Kilya called back as Agafya made her way to the front door, opening it as she said” how can I…”


“Good evening my dear – please, quietly, walk back and keep your hands where we can see them.”


Agafya stared at the two men who walked in – identically dressed, with black leather jackets over roll neck sweaters, trousers, sneakers, gloves, and balaclava masks.  The only difference between them, apart from the fact one was pointing a gun at her, and the other carrying a holdall, was their height – the armed intruder stood a good foot taller than his partner.


“Allow me to introduce myself,” he said with a smile.  “I am Mister Tall, my partner Mister Small.  And you would be?”


“Agafya,” she said quietly, “why are you pointing a gun at me?”


“To get your attention – be assured, do as we ask, and nobody gets hurt.  Agafya – where is your mother?”


“My mother?  She is…  No, please, do not hurt her…”


“Agafya,” the smaller man said as he put the bag down, “my friend is quite correct- so long as you both do what we say, then no harm will come to either of you.  I regret the fact we will need to restrain and silence you, but apart from that inconvenience, you will both be fine.”


She looked at them both as Mister Small opened the bag and took out a length of white cord, doubling it over as he walked behind her, and then guided her arms behind her back.  She felt the rope rubbing on her wrists, as Mister Small secured them together, taking the lengths around and between her arms as she looked at Mister Tall.


“So what exactly do you want?”


“To take your valuables,” Mister Tall said with a smile as Mister Small tied the ends off.  “Shall we repair to the front room?”


Agafya nodded slowly as she flexed her fingers, walking with the two men into the front room as the masked men looked round.


“Please,” Mister Tall said as he indicated the long red upholstered couch, “be seated.  Mister Small, would you ensure Agafya’s ankles are secured together.”


“Of course,” the second man said as he produced more rope form the bag, and knelt in front of Agafya, wrapping the rope around her boot4ed ankles and forcing them together as she looked to the doorway.


“So, who was at the door, Agafya…  Oh my.”


She groaned as she saw her mother come in, staring at her as the man kneeling there took the rope around and between her ankles.


“Good evening, Kilya – as you can see, my friend Mister Small is ensuring your daughter stays where she is.  For your own safety, I recommend you do not scream or try to raise the alarm – neither of us has any desire to cause you any real harm.”


“Mister Small?”  Kilya watched as the masked man stood up and smiled, and then looked to her side.  “That would make you Mister Tall, correct?”


“At your service,” he replied with a smile and an inclination of the head, “do I have your word you will do what we ask?”


“DO I have a choice?”


“Of course, dear lady, but I do strongly recommend you accept what we are saying, for your own well-being.  Now, I require you to put your hands behind your back.”


“You intend to tie me up?”


“I intend to ensure you are kept safe, with your daughter, when we leave.  For now, however, kindly put your hand s behind your back.”


“Have they hurt you, Agafya?”


“They have not, mama,” Agafya said as she watched Mister Small stand up, walking to the bag and retrieving a length of cord which he handed to Mister Tall before he took the gun.  “I do believe them when they say they will not harm us.”


“As do I,” Kilya said quietly as she moved her hands behind her back and felt the rope on her wrists as Mister Tall started to secure them together.  “We will do what you ask.”


“As it should be,” Mister tall said with a smile as he took the rope between the older woman’s arms to tighten the band, and then secured the ends out of reach of her fingers.  “Now, here is what is going to happen – my friend will stay with your darling daughter, and make sure she is not in a position to raise the alarm, while you and I take a pleasant walk around this house to find what we can find.  Then I will bring you back here, and ensure you and Agafya stay right here.”


“We do not have much of value…”


Mister Tall smiled as he said “be assured, my dear lady, I will know what is of value and what is not.  Often it is the things we do not notice that are the most valuable.  Which reminds me – do you have a mobile phone?”


“In my handbag.”


“And you, my dear,” Mister Tall said as he looked at Agafya.


“Also, in my bag – why?”


“Mister Small, once you have made Agafya comfortable, ensure you have their phones so they may not use them – and then ensure that their means of communication are disabled.  Shall we?”


“Be brave,” Kilya said to her daughter as Mister Tall escorted her out of the room, Mister Small nodding as he said “I now need to ensure you truly cannot move.  I mean no disrespect and apologise in advance if I inadvertently call you distress.”


“In what way” Agafya asked as she watched him walk back to the bag and remove a longer length of rope, doubling it over as he walked behind the couch she was sitting on, and then passing it round her and pulling it tight under her chest as her arms were forced against her body.  She looked down as he took the rope around her again, this time above her chest, then made several more passes so that her arms were held tightly against her, leaving her unable to do more than twist round.


“this is tight,” she said quietly, “but it is comfortable.  How is that possible?”


“Practice on my part,” Mister Small said with a smile as he walked back round, and then looked at the certificate on the table.


“A degree in psychology?”


“Yes – I graduated today,” Agafya said as she wriggled round, perplexed by the lack of ability to move and also hearing the sound of the rope on her leather boots.


“Then allow me to offer my congratulations,” Mister Small said with a smile, “it is a most useful skill and understanding to have.”


“So, if I was studying you now?”


“I would be flattered,” Mister Small said as he arranged some cushions on the arm of the couch.  “But for now, I have to do something else.  May I assist you to lie down and rest your head on the cushions?”




“For your comfort and safety.  May I?”


“I have no choice but to accept,” Agafya said as Mister Small lifted her legs and helped her to move round, watching as she laid her head down before he adjusted the skirt of her dress, and then used a length of rope to secure her legs together below her knees.  She tried to move round again, with little success as Mister Small found both mobile phones and turned them off.


He then walked into the hallway, unplugging the main phone as Agafya looked at him, before he came back in and took from the bag a wide roll of white tape.


“What is that for,” she said as she watched him literally peel the edge of the tape free from the roll, and then tear a long strip off.


“Allow me to show you,” Mister Small replied with a smile.  “Please, put your lips together…”






“I need to thank you for your cooperation,” Mister Tall said as he placed the necklace in the velvet bag.


“It would have done me no good to fight,” Kilya said as she looked at him, “so what now?”


“As I said, we join your daughter – if you will allow me,” the masked man said with a smile as he helped her to stand up and walked her out of the door, and then down to the main room.




“Oh my,” Kilya said as she saw Agafya try to talk to her, her lips moving under the white tape that covered her mouth and chin.  She was laid out on the couch, a band of white rope holding her legs together over her skirt, and her arms heled tightly to her sides.  “Has he taken advantage of you?”


Agafya shook her head from side to side as Mister Small looked up from the laptop he was typing on.


“Have you found what we were looking for, Mister Small?”


“I have, Mister Tall – do you need assistance?”


“Not at this time, no,” the taller mans aid with a smile as he reached into the bag and took out a longer length of rope – one he shook free and doubled over, and then passed round her, forcing her arms against her sides as he wound it round her stomach and her upper arms.


“You do know what you are doing,” Kilya said quietly.


“Well, I ama professional,” Mister Tall said as he pulled the ropes tighter, Agafya watching as he tied the ropes off, and then helped her mother to sit in an armchair.


“If you would kindly raise your legs and put your feet on the table for a moment, crossing your ankles?”


“Very well then,” she said as she complied, watching as he wound rope round her ankles and secured them tightly together, and then secured her legs together below her knees, each band cinched with the rope between her legs, before he lowered them again and took the roll of white tape out of the bag.


“And now, regretfully, I must ensure you are as quiet as your daughter,” Mister Tall said as he tore a strip of tape away.  “Keep your lips together, and breathe through your nose – that way, there will be no problems.”


“Very well then,” Kilya said as she felt the tape being smoothed down over her face, adhering to the contours of her chin, and covering her mouth.  IT was not uncomfortable, but it kept her quiet as she said “fhkuhhfhruhrkhndnhss.”


“It is our pleasure,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small stood up, closing the laptop as he did so.  “My work is done, Mister Tall,” he said quietly as he put other items into the canvas bag.


“Excellent – then we need to be on our way,” Mister Tall said as he looked at the room and smiled.  “The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu ladies – may we never meet again.”


Agafya and Kilya watched as the two masked men left, closing the door behind them before Kilya started to twist round, desperate to find a way to break free – but with little luck, as Agafya said “Mhhmmhh, htsnhghhddd.  Hlppwhlchmshnn.”




“Fhhfrhsnhttchlllhd.  Whthpphnswhnhchnnhtthlkthhs?”




“They should not be too long in being rescued,” Mister Tall said as the two men removed the balaclavas and sat in the transit van.  “You sent the message?”


“I did – and I have the information our contact wanted.  I pray they will not feel too discommoded.”


“As do I – shall we?”







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