Modest New Year
It was a quiet street on the outskirts of Birmingham, a well to do area, and this one particular house had the lights on for rooms on the upper floor only. If one were able to look into one of those windows, they would have seen a woman in her late thirties, looking at herself in a long mirror as she adjusted the short black jacket she had just donned.
The jacket had gold stripes near the bottom, and covered the black halter neck dress she was wearing. The dress was a long one, coming down over her knees and covering the tops of the long black leather boots she was wearing. The most striking thing about her, however, was the silver turban that was wrapped round her head, covering her hair.
She smiled as she turned to see a slightly younger woman standing in the doorway of the room. She was wearing a white jumper with a frill at the collar, a knee length blue skirt with an elasticated belt round her waist, dark tights and stiletto heeled black leather boots. The blue patterned headscarf covered her head, the edge of a black scarf that covered her hair visible underneath.
“Yelena – have you booked the car yet?”
“I was going to so that now,” Yelena said with a smile, “shall we say in half an hour?”
“Sounds good,” Yasmin said as she turned round, “I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
Yelena nodded as she turned and made her way down the staircase, smiling as she did so. She was looking forward to attending the New Year gathering at her parent’s house – it had been so long since they had met face to face, but now the restrictions had been lifted, they could…
The knock on the front door took her by surprise, but Yelena smiled as she walked to the door, and opened it, saying “Good evening, can I…”
“Good evening, dear lady – please, back slowly up and raise your hands.”
Yelena walked back, raising her hand sin the air as the two men walked in. the first thing that struck her, strangely enough, was the disparity in height – one was a good foot taller than the other. Otherwise, they were identical – black clothing, gloves, balaclava masks. The taller of the two held a gun in his gloved hand, the smaller carried a canvas bag.
“Who… Who are you? What do you want?”
“Why are we here? Excellent questions, my dear – and worthy of discussion another time. For now, allow me to introduce ourselves. I am Mister Tall – my friend and colleague Mister Small. May we know your name?”
“Well, Yelena,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small closed the door, “do as we say, all will be well. Are you alone in the house?” She waited for a moment, before she said “no – my sister Yasmin, she is upstairs, and will be down shortly.”
“Well, in that case, we must ensure you are both comfortable. Mister Small, can I impose on you to take care of Yelena while I go and explain the situation to her sister?”
“Of course,” Mister Small said as he put his bag down and removed from the pocket of his leather jacket a length of white rope. “Yelena, I must ask you to lower your hands, and then take them behind your back.”
“Merciful Allah,” Yelena whispered as she obeyed, Mister Small walking behind her and gently crossing her wrists before he wrapped the rope around them. “Please, you do not need to do this…”
“Ah, but regretfully we do,” Mister Small said as she felt the rope tightening, holding her wrists firmly together as she tried to control her panic, “but you have our personal assurance, beyond ensuring you are unable to raise the alarm, nothing else will happen to you or your sister.”
“How can I believe that” Yelena said as she felt him tugging on the ropes.
“Because we are men of our word,” Mister Small said as he walked round, and picked the bag up, “why don’t we go up and join your sister?”
“I really don’t have a choice, do I,” Yelena said as she started to walk up the stairs, Mister Small following as she made her way into her sister’s bedroom. As she walked in, she saw Yasmin sitting on the bed, watching as Mister Tall knelt at her feet and began to bind them together with white rope.
“So this is your partner,” she said as she looked at Mister Small, Yelena nodding as she looked at her older sister. Her hands were also behind her back, as she said “well, it would appear they are not going to see us at the party tonight, Yelena.”
“It appears to be that way,” Yelena said as she watched Mister Tall take the rope between Yasmin’s legs and tightening the bands that held them together, before he secured the ends at the back of her legs. As he stood up, he looked at Yelena and said “why don’t you take a seat, beside your sister, and Mister Small will ensure your ankles are secured as well.”
“How do you feel,” Yasmin said as she watched the smaller of the masked intruders wrap white cord round her sister’s booted ankles, and then start to bind them together.
“How do I feel? Scared – has he said what they wanted?”
“our valuables,” Yasmin said as she heard the squeak of leather rubbing on leather. “He also says we are to be – prevented from raising the alarm, but otherwise he says they respect us and will leave us unharmed.”
“The other one – Mister Small – said the same thing to me. I presume we are going to have to stay in your room.”
“I imagine so – but at least we will be together,” Yasmin said quietly as Mister Tall opened the canvas bag – and then her eyes opened wide as he removed two skeins of rope, shaking each of them loose and handing one to Mister Small as he stood up.
“I know how this will look,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “but be assured, we will attempt to minimise the discomfort. Please, turn slightly and look at each other.”
“What are they going to do,” Yelena said as she turned, then watched as Mister Tall doubled his rope over, and then passed it round her sister, pulling it tight under her chest as her arms were forced against her sides. As he took the rope round her again, this time round her upper arms, her jacket opened up slightly and her chest seemed to become more prominent.
Yelena was barely aware of the fact Mister Small was doing the same thing to her, until she felt her jumper stretched over her own chest, and she saw how the bands of rope framed her body, secured her arms to her sides, prevented her from being able to do anything other than twist from side to side.
“Well,” Yasmin said as she gasped, “it is at least - comfortable? Does that sound strange to you?”
“Strange,” Yelena said quietly, “but you are not incorrect. I am surprised as well – and they have kept their word. As far as possible, they have not touched us.”
“Indeed – ah,” Yasmin whispered as Mister Tall fed a small er length of rope between her arm and body, and then took it round the bands to make them tighter. She watched Mister Small do the same thing to her sister, as Mister Tall stood watching them.
“Mister Small, can I impose on you to ensure any communications are dealt with, and then to search downstairs for anything of interest?”
“Of course – ladies,” the masked man said as he left the room, Mister tall nodding as he said “now, I see no need to create any mess for you to have to clear later – so if you will tell me where you store your valuables, I can extract them with a minimum of fuss.”
“And if we do not cooperate,” Yasmin said quietly.
“That would be – unfortunate,” he said with a smile. “As I said, we have no desire to cause you undue distress, but if it is necessary…”
“No – it will not be necessary,” Yasmin said as Yelena nodded. “If you open those doors, you will find a safe on one of the shelves.”
Mister Tall opened the doors wide, and smiled as he said “it is a good safe, accept my complements on it – but I do need you to give me the combination.”
“It is my sister’s birthday,” Yasmin said as she gave a six figure coded, Mister Tall typing it in and then smiling as the door opened. “Excellent,” he said with a smile as he walked to the canvas bag, and removed a number of velvet bags, going to the safe and placing the contents of various trays into them.
“You know we do not have much of value here?”
“In monetary terms, true,” Mister Tall said as he held up a pearl necklace, “and as true believers, I would expect no less. You do, however, possess many things of beauty and value, and those are what we seek.”
“Very egalitarian of you,” Yasmin said as he closed the door of the now empty safe.
“We like to think so – my friend is searching for anything of value downstairs.” Placing the bags in the canvas bag, he removed two more lengths of rope and knelt by Yelena, passing the rope round her legs below her knees and drawing them together. “I must ask you to show the same level of consideration, Yelena, and tell me where any valuables are in your room.”
“And if I do,” Yelena said as she watched him take the rope between her legs.
“I show the same consideration there as I have here,” Mister Tall said with a smile. “In the meantime, I invite you to move yourself over and lie on your side, facing your sister.”
“All right,” Yelena said as she pushed herself round and lay down, watching as Mister Tall knelt by Yasmin. A few minutes later, he stood up and helped her older sister to lie on her side, Yasmin nodding as she felt her legs being pulled back.
“Well, at least we are together, as you said,” Yelena said as she watched Mister Tall use a further length of rope, and then he walked behind her. She felt him pulling her ankles back, and tying rope between her ankles, then at her back before she realised her ankles were secured to the ropes round her arms and chest.
“Now,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “do I have your word you will talk quietly, while I have a look in the other rooms up here?”
“We will talk quietly,” Yasmin said, Yelena nodding as she watched him leave the room.
“Do you think they will miss us?”
“Knowing our parents? They will imagine we have been delayed, and do nothing,” Yasmin said as she felt the heels of her boots with her fingers.
“so they will not try to contact us?”
“they might – but the one he called Mister Small went downstairs. Our phones are downstairs, are they not?”
Yelena nodded slowly before she said “and I would assume he has unplugged our main phone as well. As well as the internet – so, for now, we are truly on our own.”
“Indeed – and I am not sure I would want them to see us like this.” Yasmin wriggled round, as she said “it is not uncomfortable, but it does feel strange.”
“I agree – but they have kept their word, and they have not truly hurt us,” Yelena whispered. “they have been true Gentlemen…”
“I have read of these gentlemen – they have been called the Gentlemen Robbers.”
Yelena looked at her sister, and then laughed as she shook her head. “How appropriate…”
Yasmin turned her head to see the two black masked men standing in the room. “We were discussing who you were..”
“As always, our reputation precedes us,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small looked in the bag, taking out two gold silk squares and a roll of black tape. “But for now, it is necessary to ensure you cannot alert others to your predicament. I promise you; we will alert your family to your predicament – after we have had sufficient time to make our escape.”
“And we have to assume you will do that?”
“We are men of our word, no?” Mister Small folded the first of the gold squares into a pad, and walked behind Yelena as he said “please, open your mouth, and allow me to place this inside. When you close your lips over it, I will use the tape to provide further – silence.”
“Then I must trust you,” Yelena said as she opened her mouth, feeling the soft material on her tongue as it was eased in behind her teeth, and then she closed her lips as she heard the tape peeling from the roll. As he pressed it down over her mouth with his gloved fingers, she felt the tug on the skin, but knew she was not going to be able to make any real noise.
“Are you all right, sister?”
Yelena nodded, Yasmin smiling as she saw the scarf in front of her own mouth.
“Thank you – for being who you are,” Yasmin said before any other words were muffled by the cloth in her mouth, the black tape over her lips.
“Remain calm, it will not be for too long,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small picked up the canvas bag. “The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu – and a Happy New Year. May we never meet again.”
The two sisters looked at each other as they heard the church bells and fireworks, the lights through the window as the lights were turned off, and the two intruders slipped away…