The Gentle Way







“How long is it to go now – four weeks?”


“Something like that,” Hannah said as she held her back, and then lowered herself into the chair.  “I just want him or her to come now.”  The thirty-year-old had long light brown hair, and was wearing a white long-sleeved blouse with a floral print collar, as well as black stretch pants that covered her very prominent bump, and a pair of black shoes with kitten heels.  As she sat herself down, she looked across at her sister through her large glasses and said “what?”


“What did the doctor say when you saw her the other day?”


“To take it easy – as if I can truly do that with two other kids – and avoid stress as much as possible.”


“Well, I can help with that – take Tim and Suzie off your hands for the day of you want.” 


Hannah smiled as she looked over at her sister.  Ruth was two years younger, and was wearing a black leather jacket over a white top with thin black stripes, black jeans and ankle boots with a block heel.  She also had long brown hair, but her glasses were round with dark lenses.


“Rough night last night?”


“No – pollen count,” Ruth said with a laugh as she picked up her coffee cup.  “Seriously, however – let me take them to Drayton Manor or something for the day.”


“Might be nice to have a day to myself,” Hannah said with a smile.  “Let me call Steve later and find out what he thinks.”


“Oh yeah – he’s still on that business trip, isn’t he?”


“He’ll be back in time,” Hannah said as she sipped her coffee.  “I’ll call him later – now who on earth could that be?”


Both women looked to the door as they heard the front doorbell ring.  “I’ll be back in a minute,” Hannah said as she slowly stood up and walked out of the room, Ruth shaking her head as she sipped her coffee again.


Approaching the front door, Hannah held her back again and said “lord, this one’s strong,” before she opened the door and said “good morning, how can I…”


“Good morning, dear lady,” one of the two men standing at the door said, “we would both be grateful if you allowed us to enter without any undue alarm.”


Hannah slowly nodded as she backed up, her face paling as both men walked in, the second man closing the door as they heard sounds from the upper floor of the house.


“If we could make our way into your main room?”


Hannah slowly nodded as she turned and walked in, Ruth looking up to see her – and then the two men who followed her in.  They were identically dressed – black leather jackets over sweaters, pants, shoes, leather gloves, and balaclavas which covered their heads, allowing only their eyes and mouths to be seen.  The most striking thing about them was their disparity in height – one was a foot taller at least than the other.


“What the fuck…”


“Ruth, please…”


“Who the hell do you think you are,” Ruth growled as she stood up and walked over to the taller of the two men.  She could see the gun in his gloved hand, but there was a fire in her as she said “You dare to threaten a pregnant woman, a vulnerable woman, especially one who has been unwell…


“Get the hell out of here – both of you – and we won’t call the police.”


She stared at the two men as they looked at each other, before Hannah said “Ruth, please – I love you, and I know you’re trying to protect me, but I don’t want you to get hurt either.”




“If I may interject for a moment,” the taller of the two men said, “I understand why you have done what you have done, but if you will allow me to say two things, I hope to alleviate your concerns.”


Ruth looked at them, and then said “go on…”


“Well, perhaps some introductions will help – I am known as Mister Tall, and my colleague Mister Small.”


“You….  You’re the Gentlemen Robbers?”


“I do believe the press refer to us under that name,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “so I can assure you, so long as you do as we ask, then your safety – and that of your sister – are our primary concern while we do what we have come to do.”


“To rob us?”


“Indeed – to rob you,” Mister Small said as he slowly put a canvas bag where Ruth and Hannah could see it, “but we have no desire to make this a stressful experience – after all, your sister appears to need less stress right now, no?  So let us be on first name terms – you are?”


“I’m Hannah – my sister, who really needs to calm down and accept what you say, is Ruth.  Ruth, I’ve heard of these guys – I genuinely do not think they mean us any harm.”


“Aren’t you scared,” Ruth said quietly.


“Oh I am – but I need you to calm down.”


Ruth slowly nodded as she said “so what are you going to do?”


“Well, I don’t have a choice, do I?”


“Regretfully, no – so can I ask you both to hand your handbags to my friend, and he will ensure your phones and purses are taken care of.”


Ruth and Hannah nodded as they went to their seats, standing next to each other as they handed heir handbags over, Mister Small removing their phones and purses and laying them on a table before he opened the bag.


“Now,” Mister Tall said, “it is a sad necessity of our business that we have to ensure those we visit cannot raise the alarm or prevent us from going about our work, and that requires that we ensure you stay in this room Ruth.”


“So you’re going to tie me up?”


“Indeed – Mister Small?”


Ruth watched as Mister Small removed a length of white rope from the bag and walked behind her, before she felt him guide her hands behind her back, and then felt the rope as it was used to secure her wrists together.




“Why?  A deep and philosophical question, Ruth,” Mister Tall said with a smile.


“I mean why do you do this?”


“Ah – well, it is our profession, and one we take pride in doing well, and today it is our pleasure to visit your sister’s…”


“Mummy – what’s going on?”


“Oh no,” Hannah whispered as all four of them looked to the door, and saw the two children standing there.  The boy was about nine years old, and was wearing a red and grey striped top, blue jeans and blue socks with orange heels.  He had short dark brown hair, while his seven-year-old sister had long blonde hair.  She was wearing red long-sleeved dress and purple tights, and she looked scared as she said “we heard the noise – what’s happening Mummy?  Why are these men wearing masks?”


Hannah looked at Mister Tall, before she said “well, I’m afraid they are two robbers – and they are here to rob us.”


“They’re not going to hurt you or Aunt Ruth are they Mummy?  They look scary and we know you haven’t been well.”


Mister Tall looked at them and smiled as he said “what is your name, my dear young lady?”


“Suzie – you have a nice voice…”


“Thank you Suzie – and your name, young man?”


“Timmy – we’ve seen Mummy is walking slowly and holding her back.  You’re not going to hurt her or us, are you?”


“Not at all – but we do need to do certain things to make sure you, your aunt and your mother are kept comfortably in one place,” Mister Tall said with a smile as he looked at them.  “Mister Small – would you give the children a length of cord to hold please?”


Both Tim and Susie took the length of cord from the masked man, as Mister Tall said “my friend Mister Small has used one of these lengths of cord to make sure your aunt cannot bring her hands from behind her back.”


“Is it all right, Aunt Ruth,” Suzie asked quietly.


“Actually – it is,” Ruth said as she smiled, “so why don’t we make this a big adventure together.  Let Mister Small do the same thing to both of you.”


Tim and Suzie looked at each other, then at Hannah as she said “go on – I really don’t think they are going to hurt you.”  They then let Mister Small take the ropes back before he guided their hands behind their backs, and made sure their wrists were secured together as well.


“It feels funny,” Suzie giggled as she tried to move her hands.


“Well, in a little while my friend will make sure you both feel as if you’re being constantly hugged,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “but for now, why don’t you both sit on the couch, either side of your aunt, and he will do to your ankles what he did to your wrists.”


“Come on,” Ruth said as she sat in the middle of the couch, Tim and Suzie sitting wither side of her as Mister Small retrieved three more lengths of rope from the bag.  Kneeling by them, he started by doubling a length of rope over and then passing it round Suzie’s ankles, gently bringing them together before he took the rope around and between her legs.


“Now, I am going to take your mother for a walk round the house,” Mister Tall said, “and you have my word that she will not be hurt.”


“Are you going to do this to Mummy as well,” Tim said as he felt the rope around his own ankles.


“Well, given your mother needs as little stress as possible, we may do something a little different – but I promise you, before we go all of you will not be able to move or call easily for help.”


“We could try calling now,” Ruth said as Mister Tall bound her ankles together.


“True – but I don’t think you want to cause anyone undue stress, do you?”


Ruth looked at Hannah, and at the children, before she said “no, I guess not.”


“Excellent,” Mister Tall said as he removed two lengths of rope from the bag, “if you will come with me Hannah?”


“Kids – you’re being wonderfully brave.  Keep it up for Aunt Ruth.”


“Yes, Mummy,” Suzie said as she watched her mother leave with the taller of the two masked men. 


“Your name is really Mister Small?”


“It is, Tim,” the masked man said with a smile.


“And you’re really not going to hurt us?”


“Why should I wish to do that?”


“Well – you said it would feel as if we were being hugged all the time…”


“IS that such a bad thing?  Would you like to see how I do that?”


Suzie nodded as Mister Small removed a much longer length of rope from the bag, and doubled it over, before he stood behind Ruth and passed it round her body as she remained seated.  He hen pulled it tight, before he took it round her body above and below her chest, and then tied the ropes off behind her.


“He’s right,” Ruth said with a smile, “it does feel like being hugged.”


“So tell me, Ruth, what do you do for a living?”


“Me?  Well, I’m trying to break into modelling…”


“I want to be a model when I grow up,” Suzie said.


“Ah – a fine profession, and may I say you both have the natural beauty to make a success of it,” Mister Small said as he looked at them.




“Honesty – so tell me, Suzie, Tim – are you ready to be just like your aunt, and feel the hug?”







“You asked the question already,” Mister Tall said as he emptied the contents of a jewellery box into a bag, Hannah watching as he did so.


“I know you’re robbers – but why do this the way you do?”


“Ah – well, we found very early in our careers that, to quote Solomon, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”  In other words, we find polite insistence is more appreciated than more direct forms of persuasion.


“Huh,” Hannah said as she held her back.


“Forgive me, but is that the baby kicking again?”


“Yeah – look, I accept you have to tie me up, but can you do it in a way that is not too uncomfortable?”


“Naturally – would it be impolite to enquire?”


“Four weeks or so – so a little more endurance,” Hannah said with a smile.  “I’m on maternity leave for now anyway?”


“May I ask?”


“I work at a bank – we get training on how to deal with bank robberies, but nobody ever mentioned quiet persuasion before.”


“We find it works for us,” Mister Tall said with a smile.  “So, shall we progress to your husband’s office?”




“You’re right, Aunt Ruth – it is just like being hugged,” Tim said as Mister Small pulled the ropes tighter and secured the ends behind his back.  All three now had bands of rope round their upper arms and their stomachs, as Mister Small came back with three more lengths of rope.


“We just need to make sure your legs are more secure,” he said as he doubled one over and then passed it under Suzie’s legs before he pulled it tight below her knees, and secured them there as well.


“That tickles…”


“Accept my apologies,” he said with a smile as he took the rope between her legs and secured the ends, then repeated the process for Tim.


“So what happens when my sister comes back,” Ruth asked as he secured her legs.


“We make sure she is secure, we take steps to ensure you cannot call for help, and then we leave – but we will ensure someone is made aware of your situation once we are sufficiently far away.”


Ruth nodded, and then said “I should apologise.”


“For what?”


“For reacting so violently when you first came into the house…”


“Ah – no hurt was caused,” Mister Small said with a smile, “now, if I was to leave the room for a few minutes, do I have your word you will not try to escape and call for help?”


All three nodded as Mister Small left the room.


“Your mother’s right,” Ruth said as she kissed the heads of Tim and Suzie, “you are both being very brave.”


“Well, they seem nice – for robbers,” Suzie giggled as she tried to move round.


“Yeah – they’re not scary at all are they,” Tim said quietly.


“Not really no,” Ruth said as she tried to move as well.  “Do you think they will let us all watch something when they go?”


As Tim and Suzie nodded, Ruth said “so what shall we watch?”




“I am afraid it is time to ensure you cannot raise the alarm,” Mister Tall said quietly, “so I want you to put your hands together in prayer.”


“All right,” Hannah said as she put her hands together palm to palm and raised them, watching as the masked man wound the rope around and between her limbs until her wrists were held tightly together.  He then doubled over the longer length of rope and passed it round her upper arms and body, forcing them against her sides before he fed the rope round the band between one arm and her body, then took it up and round the back of her neck.  He then wound it round between her arm and body on the other side, before taking it behind her and tying the ends off.


“That’s tight,” she whispered.


“But hopefully not too uncomfortable,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “so shall we join the others?”


Hannah nodded as they slowly walked down the stairs, and she saw her sister and children sitting on the couch, tightly bound.


“Well – we’re not going anywhere, are we,” she said with a smile as Mister Tall helped her to sit in the armchair, then watched as he took more ropes and knelt at her feet to secure her ankles together.


“We’re fine,” Ruth said quietly as she twisted round, watching as Mister Tall secured her sister’s ankles and legs in the same way as her.  He then tied another band of rope round Hannah’s legs above her knees, and ran a length of rope from her wrists to that binding.


“Now Mummy can’t move,” Tim said, Suzie giggling as Hannah said “true – so what happens now?”


“Now, we need to make sure you stay quiet,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small took a wide roll of white tape from the bag.  He gently peeled a length away and then tore it loose, before he came over to Tim and said “boy’s first – put your lips together.”


The others watched as he smoothed the tape down over Tim’s mouth, the shape of his lips visible underneath as he tried to talk – only “Htshhhnhsss” coming out as Mister Small peeled another length away.


“Just breathe through your nose, and you’ll be fine,” he said to Suzie, the young girl nodding before the tape was pressed down over her mouth as well.  Ruth felt the tug on the skin around her mouth as she was gagged in the same way, before Hannah was also silenced.




“For what,” Mister Tall said as he looked at Hannah.




“It was our pleasure,” he said with a smile as Mister Small picked up the bag.  “It has been a pleasure – the Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu.  May we never meet again.”


They watched as the two men left, the television showing CBBC as they tried to get free.


“Swhhnhhh,” Hannah said after a while as she looked at Ruth.


“Whwhhtt – thllchhlshmhnnlhthr.”


“Whrffhnnmhhmm,” Tim said, Suzie nodding as Hannah smiled at them.  Somehow, she knew they would be all right…








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