Looking at herself in the mirror, Kama smiled and fastened the large silver and jewelled earrings in place. Picking up the pearl handled brush, she began to run it through her long dark hair, thinking through what she had to do that day. In her early forties, she looked much younger, even when wearing the traditional dress she had on today. Her tunic was green and white, in a floral pattern, with an open neckline and sleeves that flowed out just above her wrists. The tunic itself came to just below her knees, covering the top half of the green pantaloons she was wearing, with them gathered at the ankle. A pair of gold strapped sandals were on her feet, as she stood up and put on the gold necklace on the dresser.
“Numa,” she called out, “are you nearly ready?”
“I just need a few more minutes mum,” came the reply as Kama picked up the long white chiffon scarf, and carefully draped it over her right shoulder, letting it drop in front and behind. Looking out of the bedroom window, she saw it was quiet outside, with only a couple of cars and a small grey van parked outside.
She walked out of the room and down the staircase, looking at the family portraits as she went down, and then heading to the kitchen. Taking a glass, she poured herself some water and took a drink, before she said “NUMA!”
“I’m here,” her twenty year old daughter said as she came in, wearing a purple silk dress. The thin spaghetti straps over her shoulders kept it up, as the short cap sleeves fell over her upper arms, and the tired and slightly ruffled skirt fell to just above her knees. The front of the dress was in a slightly lighter shade of purple, with a dark sash gathered in a bow at her left side. She was also wearing a pair of white three inch heel pumps, and a set of pearl drop earrings, her hair gathered on her head and held in place by a hair clasp.
Kama shook her head as she said “Numa, you are a very beautiful young woman, but dress this way and you attract the wrong sort of boy.”
“Mum, who says I want to attract the right sort of boy,” Numa said as she checked her reflection in the hallway mirror. “When you were my age, was Dad really the sort of man you were looking for?”
“He was the sort of husband my parents were looking for,” Kama said as she put her hand on her daughter’s cheek. “I know it is hard for young girls like you, but...”
The sound of the doorbell ringing made them both look, Numa saying “I will see who it is” as she headed to the door, and Kama went into the front room, picking up her handbag and putting her purse into it.
“What is it, Unm...”
As Kama turned round, she saw she was not alone – two men were standing with her, one only about five foot seven tall, the other at least a foot higher. They were both dressed in black – leather jackets over sweaters, jeans, shoes, gloves and balaclava masks, so that only their eyes and mouths were showing. The smaller of the men had his hand gripped tightly around Numa’s arm, while the taller was pointing a pistol at her.
“Do forgive the intrusion,” he said in a calm, polite manner, “but I have to tell you that this is a robbery. Please, both of you, remain calm and do as we say, and you will both be just fine.”
“Who... Who are you,” Kama said as she found her voice.
“You may call me Mister Tall, and my quiet friend here is Mister Small. I presume you are Kama, and this charming young lady is your daughter Numa?”
“How... How do you know this?”
“Unimportant for the moment, my dear lady – what is important is that you draw the curtains across the windows, before you take a seat over there, place your hands upon your head, and do nothing until one of us says so.”
Slowly, Kama walked over to the ornate couch and sat herself down, placing her hands face down upon her head as Mister Small said “now, Numa, we need you to find your mobile phone, as well as that of your mother, and bring them here. Where may they be?”
“Mine is in the bag,” Kama said as she indicated the handbag on the low coffee table.
“I... I have mine in my handbag upstairs.”
“Then it may remain there for now,” Mister Small said, “I must, however, ask you now to sit next to your mother, and put your feet up on the coffee table.”
“Why must I...”
“Numa – do as he says, they are armed,” Kama said quietly, her daughter nodding as she sat next to her and put her feet up on the coffee table. They watched as Mister Small removed a small rucksack from his back, opened it and took out a length of white rope, using it to tightly bind Numa’s ankles together and then taking the rope between her legs, as well as around her feet, tying it off under and behind her heels.
“Why are you doing this,” she said quietly as Mister Small produced a second length of rope, and started to tie it around her legs below her knees, while her skirt fell slightly back down her legs.
“With regret,” he said quietly, “we need to ensure neither you nor your mother can do anything to impede our work here. Once we have you comfortable secured, Mister Tall will take her on a tour of the house, while I keep you company down here.”
“On which note,” Mister Tall said as he placed the gun in his packet, and removed a further length of rope from the rucksack before looking at Kama, “I need to ask you to turn slightly to your side, and place your arms behind your back, crossing your wrists.”
“I must – so please, do as I ask.”
Numa watched, trying to move her legs as the taller intruder started to bind her mother’s wrists together, binding the rope tightly as he passed it around and between her arms, and then tied it off out of reach of her painted fingers.
She did not even notice as Mister Small lifted her legs and laid them so that her feet were on the floor, and left the room for a moment, returning as he said “the telephone is now disconnected, Mister Tall.”
“Excellent – I need to ask you to accompany me now, Kama, while my colleague ensures your daughter is comfortable.”
“Please, don’t hurt her...”
“It is not our intention to do so,” Mister Small said as he produced some more rope, Numa nodding as she watched Mister Tall take her mother out of the room.
“Kindly lean forward, and place your hands behind your back,” he said quietly, Numa doing as she was asked as she felt the soft rope pressing against the skin on her wrists, while they were forced together. He was gentle, but firm, as the rope pulled tighter and tighter and she was left unable to separate them.
“Now,” he said as she straightened her back, “I need to secure your arms to your upper body.”
Numa nodded as she saw him take a long length of rope out, double it over and then wrap it around her arms and body, pulling it tightly below her chest before e took it round above, repeating the move several times as it pressed down and forced her arms into her side. She could feel him drawing the two bands together as he tied the ropes off behind her back, and then said “would you care for some water?”
“I asked if you would care for some water? This would be a good moment for you to have some.”
“My thanks,” Mister Tall said as he used the combination to open the safe, opening it and removing various boxes. He examined the contents, and placed some in his bag and replaced others.
Kama was sat in her husband’s leather desk chair, twisting around as the ropes held her arms tightly to her side, the white contrasting with the light green as it encircled and held her chest out. IT felt a little strange, but she could not deny her arms were immobilised – especially with the short lengths he had used under her arms to tighten the bands against her body.
“Why do you do this,” she asked as she sat still and looked at him.
“Why do you rob innocent people?”
“It is a living,” Mister Tall said as he closed the safe, “and be honest – we have secured your arms to your body, and in the case of your daughter her legs are secured, but have we done anything else to cause you actual physical distress?”
Kama stopped moving for a moment, looking at him as she shook her head and said “no – no you have not. In fact, you have gone out of your way to be courteous.”
“Quite – now, shall we head upstairs and see what we can find in the bedrooms.”
He took Kama by the arm and helped her to stand, walking her out of the room and towards the staircase. As they went past the front room, she glanced in to see Numa sitting up, a straw in her mouth as she sipped from a glass of water that Mister Small was holding.
“Much, thank you,” Numa said as she sat back, watching as Mister Small placed the glass across the room, and then gently wiped her mouth with a napkin. “you’re not so bad for a robber.”
“I take that as a compliment,” Mister Small said with a smile. “Now, I need you to move over to this armchair – do you require some help with that?”
“Would you mind?”
Shaking his head, Mister Small helped her to stand and then take small hops across the room, holding her as she steadied herself and then sat herself down. “So what happens now,” she said as she looked at him.
“I regret to say I must take steps now to ensure you do not raise the alarm verbally,” Mister Small said as he retrieved a plastic bag, containing a white scarf, and a roll of white tape from the rucksack. Opening the bag, he folded the scarf into a small pad and said “anything you wish to say before we do this?”
“Thank you – seriously.”
He nodded as Numa opened her mouth, feeling the cloth as it filled her mouth and pushed her tongue down. She gently closed her mouth, looking up as he tore a long strip from the roll and held it in his gloved hands.
“No, thank you for cooperating,” Mister Small said as he pressed the tape down over her mouth, smoothing it so that it stuck firmly to her flesh. She could feel slight pulling, but it seemed to settle in place, and as she tried to speak all that came out was “whrsmmmm.”
“Numa? My dear, are you all right?”
Numa looked over to see her mother in the doorway, bands of rope around her chest and holding her arms, as well as her scarf, in place.
“Mfnnn,” she mumbled as Mister Tall walked her mother over to the couch, sitting her down as he said “please, place your feet on the coffee table.”
As Kama rested her feet, she watched as Mister Tall crossed and tightly bound her ankles together, and then secured her legs below her knees, taking the rope between her legs over her pantaloons.
As he folded the tunic back down, covering the higher band of rope, she looked at her daughter, seeing the shape of her lips under the white band, and said “will the same be done to me?”
“I regret to say, it is – would you care for a drink before hand?”
“No – but I think you for the offer.”
Nodding, Mister Tall removed a second bag, and took out a small blue scarf, before he folded it into a pad and said “please, open your mouth as wide as possible.”
As she felt the silk on her tongue, Kama relaxed as much as possible, her tongue forced down as he eased the pad in, and then she closed her lips over it, getting used to the feel and the taste as he pressed the length of white tape over her mouth, the material forming to the shape of her mouth and jaw.
He then helped her to lie on her side, her head resting on a cushion on the armrest as she looked over at her daughter.
Kama nodded her head as the two masked men cleared their things away, Mister Small taking the glass to the kitchen and washing it before they came back.
“We thank you for your cooperation, ladies,” Mister Tall said, smiling as he looked at them. “The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu – may we never meet again.”
Numa turned her head and watched as they walked out, listening as the front door opened and closed, and then turning back to look at her mother as she started to struggle, her scarf slipping slightly as she tried to free her arms.
“Cllmdwnmm,” she said as she settled down, “tsnggddtstttht.”
Kama nodded, trying to get as comfortable as she could as the clock ticked away, wondering how long it would be before their absence at the party was noted...