Manners in Grey and Brown
Angela looked out of the windows of the taxi as she was driven down the road to her house, smiling at the memory of the day. The country fair had been an amazing occasion, and to be invited to attend as the guest of honour was a rare privilege. She had even dressed in a suitable, if fashionable manner – and she had never been so grateful that the weather had been hot and sunny.
She had worn an off white jersey dress with a matching fedora hat, a thin purple band round the hat itself. She had worn a pair of off white tights as well, but her legs were snugly covered by the over the knee brown suede boots she was wearing.
“Not bad for a sixty year old broad,” she said to herself as the memory of her presenting the prizes came back to her, the joy in the faces of the children, the pride in the faces of the mothers.
As the driver pulled in front of a grey transit van, he smiled as he turned off the engine, came round and opened the door and allowed Angela to get out of the car.
“I hope you have a good evening, Ma’am,” he said as he touched the peak of his cap, smiling as she walked into the path and towards her front door. He then got back into the car and drove off – meaning he did not see Angela standing for a moment as she opened the door, and then walking slowly in.
“Thank you,” the tall man said as the door was closed behind Angela, and she turned to see a second man standing there. Both were identically dressed – black leather jackets over jumpers, dark trousers, show, gloves, and balaclava masks, but one was a good foot taller than the other.
“Who are you,” Angela said quietly, “and what are you doing in my house?”
“A fair question,” the taller of the men said as he looked at her, “My name is Mister Tall, my colleague Mister Small. As to why we are here, I regret to say we have been commissioned to obtain something in the house, and as we are here we may also avail ourselves of the opportunity to take some of your valuables as well. I know this is an inconvenience for you, but I do promise that so long as you do as we say, then no harm will come to you.”
Angela looked at the two men, and then slowly removed her hat as she said “I obviously have no choice in the matter – so what exactly are your intentions towards me?”
“Purely honourable, I assure you – may I complement you on your outfit?”
Angela smiled as Mister Tall said “for now, however, I must ask you to slowly put your hands behind your back. My colleague Mister Small is going to secure your wrists with rope, and then your arms to your body, before I ask you to accompany me upstairs to the bedroom.”
“Oh,” Angela said as she raised an eyebrow, “what for?”
“To assess your jewellery and what we may take, of course – nothing more, I assure you.” Mister Tall watched as the tall blonde nodded and placed her purse on a side table, then put her hands behind her back, feeling the rope on her wrists as Mister Small crossed them and bound them tightly together. She could feel his gloved hands on her arms as he took the rope around and between her wrists, then tied the ends off out of reach of her long fingers.
“I have to say, that is far more comfortable than I was expecting,” she said quietly as she wriggled her fingers, and then let out a soft gasp as a double band of rope was passed around her and pulled tight under her chest, forcing her arms into her sides.
“This is – very different,” she said quietly as the rope was carefully wound tightly round her, framing her chest as her dress was stretched over it, and yet neither of the masked men seemed to wish to take advantage of her – their concern really was only to make sure she could not use her arms at all, either to try and get free or else to raise the alarm in some other way.
“As I said, we have no desire to cause any undue or additional distress,” Mister Tall said with a smile as his partner pulled the ropes tighter, and then secured the bands together behind her back, before he used a shorter length of rope to secure her wrists to the bands. As she twisted round, Angela felt the ropes rubbing on her – a very strange feeling, even through the wool of her dress.
“So what happens now,” she said as she looked at Mister Tall.
“Now, please, walk up the stairs in front of me. Mister Small, you will take care of things downstairs?”
“Of course, Mister Tall,” his partner replied, Angela nodding as she walked in front of her captor. Shaking his head, Mister Small made his way into the office on the ground floor, smiling as he removed a picture and placed a small metal box on the door of the safe hidden behind.
“It should only take a few minutes,” he said to himself – and then he heard the front door open and close, and stood behind the door of the office, taking a small revolver from the pocket of his leather jacket as he did so.
“Mum? You back yet?”
Zara smiled as she closed the front door and looked round. The house was in silence, so she said “I’m just going to get a drink – I’ll get one for you as well” as she walked to the kitchen.
Angela looked to the side as Mister Tall stood beside her in the bedroom, his gloved hand pressed firmly over her mouth as he whispered “your daughter?” As she nodded, he said “well, I am sure Mister Small will explain the situation, and you will join her shortly – you may even get the chance to have the drink she is preparing. For now, your jewellery if you would be so kind…”
Mister Small looked carefully from the office door as the young woman walked past. She was wearing a dusky pink jacket with a brown soft leather skirt, a pattern punched into the hem a sit hung down, and over the knee brown suede boots. She had light brown hair that fell freely down and over her shoulders as she walked to the kitchen.
He walked slowly down the hallway, making as little noise as possible as he saw her walk to the work surface by the kitchen window, pick up a water jug and pour some into a glass. She stood for a moment, looking out of the window as she took a sip of water, and then she stared for a moment as she saw the reflection of a masked man in the window.
“What the…” she said quietly as she turned round and saw him, smiling as he looked at her with a gun in his gloved hand, and said “good afternoon. Please, do not panic or shout – for one thing, it would not work, and for a second thing, my colleague is currently upstairs with the lady of the house, and it might not be the best thing for her if you did.” Looking at her, he continued to smile as he said “am I right in presuming that you are her daughter? The resemblance is most striking.”
Zoe slowly nodded as she continued to look at him, the front of her jacket open to show her white crop top underneath, and then she said “you… you’re…”
“Allow me to introduce myself – my name is Mister Small, and my colleague Mister Tall is currently upstairs with your mother. You may have read of us – we are known colloquially as…”
“The Gentlemen Robbers,” Zoe whispered quietly. “Yeah, I’ve heard of you – but why here? Why my mother?”
“There are various reasons, but truthfully, at this point in time the reasons are unimportant. What is important now is that I have your agreement to do what I say, just as your mother agreed earlier.”
Zoe looked at the small masked man, and then slowly nodded as she took another sip of her water. “Excellent,” Mister Small said as he looked at her, “now, I did hear you say you would prepare your mother a drink. Why don’t you do that, and then bring both glasses into the front room? I need to make sure you are comfortably secured in there.”
“Do I really have a choice?” As Mister Small shook his head, Zoe poured more water into a second glass, and then walked into the front room with him, noticing him picking a bag up as they walked in.
“Now then – please, place your mother’s glass on the coffee table,” Mister Small said with a smile, “and then take a seat at the other end of that couch, before crossing your ankles and putting your feet onto the coffee table as well.”
“Now what would I do that,” Zoe said, and then she saw him take a length of white rope from the bag and double it over, shaking her head as she said “stupid question, wasn’t it?”
“Not really – actually a fair one, but I think you can see the reason for my request, no?”
Zoe found herself laughing and shaking her head as she sat down on the cream leather couch, crossing her ankles as she rested the heels of her boots on the coffee table, and watching with a mildly detached interest as Mister Small wrapped the rope around her ankles and then pulled it tight, forcing her ankles together as he started to bind them together. The soft brown suede of her bots was compressed under the rope, seeming to lighten in colour as he took the rope around and between her ankles, before tying the ends off behind her legs.
She then watched, sipping her water as a second length of rope was doubled it over, Mister Small using it to secure her legs together below her knees, the rope sitting again on top of the brown suede as they were bound in the same tight, but comfortable manner.
“Well, I guess I should be… Mum!”
“Hello Zoe,” Angela said, her daughter looking at the tall masked man who walked in with her. “I see you’ve met my friend’s friend.”
“Have they hurt you,” Zoe whispered as she saw the way her mother’s upper body was bound.
“No – I suspect the same thing is going to happen to you in due course,” Angela said as she was helped to sit on the matching armchair, “just as I suspect my legs are going to bound in the same way as yours. Is that water for me?”
“Allow me,” Mister Tall said as he took the glass in his gloved hand, and allowed Angela to take several sips of water, while Zoe finished her glass and put it down on the coffee table, while Mister Small stood with yet more rope.
“And now, my dear, if you will put your hands behind your back?”
“Will you allow me to remove my jacket first?”
“Of course,” Mister Small said as Zoe slipped her jacket off, watching as he folded it and placed it on the third chair of the suite, and then guided her arms behind her back. She felt the soft rope on her bare wrists as they were held together, the binding growing tighter, but still comfortable as the cords went around and between her arms.
At the same time, Mister Tall knelt down and crossed Angela’s ankles, before using rope to bind them together as she watched. As the rope compressed her own boots, she looked over and said “how did the interview go today?”
“Well, I start on Monday,” Zoe said, Mister Small looking over as he doubled over a longer length of rope and asking “ah – and where is your new place of employment to be?”
“Rufford Auction House – you know of it?”
“Oh we know of it,” Mister Tall said as he folded the skirt of Angela’s dress back, and then started to bind her legs together below her knees, “In fact, we spent a pleasant afternoon recently with the Rufford family.”
“You did – and when you say pleasant, you mean…”
“I mean,” Mister Tall said as he cinched the leg binding, and then folded Angela’s skirt back as she twisted her legs round, “we visited the family, made sure his son and daughter enjoyed a quiet hour revising while we talked to their parents, and then left them all watching an improving film without the ability to disagree with each other as to the merits or demerits of the film.”
“I think he means they tied them up and gagged them while they robbed the house,” Zoe laughed.
“I believe that is what I just said,” Mister Tall replied as he stood up, while Mister Small pulled the doubled over rope around Zoe’s body, the band rubbing on her midriff as her arms were forced into her sides. He then took the rope around her several times, framing her chest as the ropes rubbed on her upper arms, before feeding it under one arm, up and around the back of her neck, and then under the other arm to make it tighter still.
“There – I trust that is not too uncomfortable,” he said as he took the glass from the coffee table, and collected the second one from Mister Tall.
“I suspect we will manage,” Angela said quietly, “so what happens now?”
“I must take care of the safe – Mister Tall will explain,” Mister Small said as he left the room, the taller masked man smiling as he turned the radio on, and said “may I suggest Radio 2 as a channel you may both find something to enjoy on?”
“Possibly – but we could always just talk when you go,” Zoe said, then she saw her mother shake her head before she said “I do not think they are going to allow us to do that, my dear?”
“Your mother does speak the truth,” Mister Tall said as he took two blue silk squares from the bag, and started to fold them. “I must ask you both to open your mouths, and keep these in there once I have placed them behind your teeth.”
“We’re going to talk about this later, aren’t we Mum,” Zoe said as she wriggled round.
“We will do,” Angela said with a smile, before she opened her mouth and allowed the Gentleman to put the cloth inside, closing her lips over it and watching as he did the same to her daughter.
“Dhsnnhtshmmshbhd,” Zoe mumbled as she felt the cloth start to soak up the saliva, while Mister Tall took one of her mother’s headscarves – a large red one – and roll it into a band before he tied a knot in the middle – a knot he then eased into her mouth as well, before tying the silk band around her head.
“Whllrhhlrht,” Angels mumbled in reply as a grey scarf was used to gag her further in the same way, and then Mister Tall helped Zoe to lie on her side on the couch, her head on one arm as she looked at her mother.
“Ah – all completed in the office,” he said as he saw Mister Small walk back in.
“All done – and the glasses are washed,” Mister Small said as he looked at the two women. “The Gentlemen Robbers thank you for your cooperation – and we bid you a fond adieu. May we never meet again.”
With that, the two masked men left the room, closing the door as Zoe and Angela looked at each other. Zoe tried to twist round on the couch, trying to find some way to loosen her ropes, before Angela said “Susthrrtmhndee?”
“Yhss – ghswhchnshrsthrreesss…”