The Italian Job
Belgravia has always been an area of London that has attracted some of the more exclusive tenants, especially with the large number of embassies within easy travelling distance. Over the years, security has improved in many of the buildings, but some still retain that old world charm on the basis that discretion is the better part of valour.
Such was the case of the domicile occupied by Signor and Signora Cassarello. The master of the house was one of the middle-level dignitaries at the Italian embassy, while his wife filled the traditional role of hostess and woman about town, seen in all the best fashion magazines. It was this that attracted the attention of the two men who were waiting in the non-descript grey van in a side street around the corner from their apartment. In the lap of the taller of the two gentlemen was a recent copy of Hello! Magazine that showed the apartment as it was at a recent charity engagement.
“So this is one very rich woman?” The smaller gentleman said.
“Oh yes – Old Italian money, and the jewellery to match. We’ll give it a few minutes and then make a discreet entrance in the back of the house. Agreed?”
In the main room of the apartment, a woman in her early forties was busy tidying and dusting. She was dressed in a black knee length dress with a white apron tied around her waist, flat shoes and her dark hair tied in a bun. As she walked round the room, she sung a song to herself.
“Ho veduto la neve sul livello della montagna,
ballo il giorno dappled attraverso il cielo”
She was so caught up in her own singing she didn’t notice the slight cracking noise as the rear door to the kitchen was gently opened with the aid of a thin screwdriver, and the two black-clad gentlemen made their way in from the courtyard.
“Do you hear that?” The smaller gentleman said as the sound of the older woman singing came through to the kitchen.
“Yes I do,” the taller man said as he closed the door behind him. “I had suspected there may be a servant in the house, but not more than one. I think we should be prepared, don’t you?”
“Agreed,” the other man said as he pulled a black balaclava from the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled it over his head, leaving only his eyes and mouth showing. His companion did the same with another mask, and then held his fingers to his lips as the singing came closer.
“L'amore è nelle cose che fate,
amore è in .....
Madre santa della Mary del dio!!”
The woman stopped short as she walked into the kitchen and saw the two masked men standing there. She dropped the duster she was carrying, and stared at the strangers.
“Mister Small, would you please give this kind lady a hand?” The taller gentleman said, as the younger one walked briskly over and grabbed the maid by the arms. She continued to stare at the tall man as he walked over and stood in front of her.
“Buon pomeriggio, cara signora. Sarebbe scortese da chiedergli il vostro nome?”
“Don…. Donnatella. Dal tutto che sia santo, che è voi?”
“Potete denominarli l’signor Tall ed il signore vicino voi è l’signor Small. Mi dico, Donatella, sono voi l'unica persona nel paese al momento?”
Donnatella nodded to indicate that she was alone.
“Quello è buono, Donnatella. Voi dovete ora fare esattamente che cosa lo diciamo di fare, capite?”
“Capisco, ma chi o che cosa siete?”
“Per essere franchi, siamo scassinatori ed intendiamo sollevare la vostra padrona dei suoi valuables. Se cooperate, che danno verrà a voi. Coopererete, Donnatella?”
“Sì. Che cosa lo volete fare?”
Mister Tall allowed a smile to play across his mouth.
“Fate un lavoro meraviglioso di conservazione della questa cucina pulita, Donnatella e quella è una buona cosa per oggi. Per favore, fronte di bugia giù sul pavimento con le vostre mani dal vostro lato.”
Donnatella nodded and knelt down before lying face down on the floor. Mister Small looked at his companion.
“Since when have you spoken Italian?”
“For some time.”
“Mister Tall, the breadth and catholicity of your knowledge never fail to amaze me.”
“Mister Small, will you do the honours please?”
The small masked man gently pulled Donnatella’s wrists behind her back and wrapped cord around and between them. She turned her head and talked to the taller gentleman.
“Non danneggi prego la mia padrona”
Kneeling beside her, he smiled through his balaclava as the rope was knotted.
“Distenda, il mio caro, lei sarà tutto il di destra se coopera con noi. Ora, largo aperto.”
Mister Tall had produced a black scarf from a knapsack he had removed from his back, rolled it into a band and tied a knot in the middle. He now held the bandana in front of the maid, the knot in front of her mouth.
She opened her mouth and allowed the knot to be pulled back behind her teeth, as the ends of the scarf were knotted together behind her head. As this was taking place, mister small had crossed her ankles and lashed them together with a further length of rope.
Mister Tall helped Donnatella to roll over and sit up as his companion unpacked more lengths of rope from the rucksack.
“Mister Small, if you will take care of things here I will begin work elsewhere. Donnatella, lo renderemo comodo come possibile e lo riterremo soltanto per finchè è necessario. Vogliate gradire le mie scuse per l'inconveniente.”
“ggh” the maid grunted as Mister Small wrapped some rope around her arms and chest. Collecting the rucksack, Mister Tall made his way out of the kitchen and into the main room of the apartment.
He spent some time in the main room, selecting various items of silver and pottery and carefully packing them into his sack. As he was about to make his way out of the room, however, he heard a key turning in the doorway. Clsoing the door to the room so that there was only a crack open, he watched.
In the kitchen, Mister Samll held his gloved hand over Donnatella’s mouth as the sound fo footsteps echoed in from the main hallway,
“Donnatella, portereste prego un certo caffè?”
Mister Tall watched the elegantly dressed woman walk past the doroway and up a staircase. As she reached the top of the stairs, he crept out, nodded to Mister Small who was looking out of the kitchen doorway and started to climb the staircase as quietly as possible.
In the main bedroom, the woman had placed a large handbag on the bed and was removing a pair of expensive sunglasses. She was wearing a pair of smart grey slacks, a white cashmere roll neck sweater with a Hermes scarf around her shoulders and a Versace grey leather jacket that was open at the front. Mister Tall watched from the doorway as she looked round, brushing her blonde hair out of her eyes.
“Donnatella, dove è voi?”
“I' la m. Donnatella impaurito indisposed al momento - è poco legata in su con qualcosa. Forse posso aiutarlo?”
The woman turned round and stared at the black clad gentleman who was looking at her, his blue eyes shining while the rest of his face was covered in a black balaclava.
“Good afternoon,” she said in a crisp English accent. “I am Madame Cassarello. And you are?”
“You may call me Mister Tall. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Madame, but I fear that you may not enjoy the experience quite as much.”
“I presume you are not here for a social call?”
“You presume correctly,” Mister Tall replied as he produced a knife from his jacket pocket. “I must ask you to do exactly what I say, or else it will not be the best time fo day for you. Do you understand?”
“And if I refuse?”
“Then I may be forced to be – unpleasant. You may like to know that Donnatella is currently the guest of my partner, Mister Small, and will come to no harm unless you do something unfortunate. I trust you understand my meaning?”
Madame Cassarello looked at the man, before shrugging her shoulders. “I have heard of you – you call yourselves the Gentlemen Robbers, is that correct?”
“You have the advatnage of me, I see. So will you cooperate?”
Madame shrugged “Your manners do you credit, Sir. Do you mind if I sit down?”
“Please, be my guest,” Mister Tall replied. “Would it be possible for me to address you in a less formal manner?”
“You may call me Angelina. May I call you by your name?”
“Mister Tall will be best I think. Tell me, Angelina, what is the combination to your safe?”
“The safe that is hidden behind the bookcase there.”
Angelina shrugged again, and gave a series of numbers to the tall intruder.
“Thank you, Signora. I regret it is now necessary for me to restrict your movement for some time. Would you please hold your hands out in front of you, palm to palm?”
“As you wish,” the lady said as she held her hands out, the cuffs of her jumper protruding from the grey leather jacket. Mister Tall took a length of cord from his pocket, and quickly bound her wrists together, ensuring the ropes were cinched between her arms. Madame Cassarello was sat in an old oak chair with arm rests, to the left hand one of which Mister Tall secured her wrists after the rope was knotted.
Satisfied that his captive was not going to move, Mister Tall proceeded to remove the false panel from the bookcase and open the safe. Signora Cassarello watched as he quickly emptied a number of jewellery cases into his bag.
“You are an efficient worker,” she said as Mister Tall closed the safe door. “And I presume this is your companion, Mister Small?”
“Our reputation proceeds us,” Mister Tall said as the smaller gentleman walked into the room. “How is Donnatella?”
“Resting – she is secure and not about to raise the alarm. Shall I finish off here?”
“If you would,” Mister Tall said. Mister Small took a length of cord, placed the blonde woman’s ankles together and lashed them to the right hand leg of the chair. A further length of rope was tied around her legs above her knees, and then around her thighs to secure her to the seat of the chair.
“I do not think I will be going anywhere,” Angelina said as she looked at the ropes.
“Not for the foreseeable future,” Mister Tall said as she passed a length f rope around Madame Cassarello’s arms and chest, firmly securing them before tying the rope to the other armrest. “I regret to say that we must now silence you.”
“I see – please, be sure that you do as thorough a job as you have with your binding.”
Mister Tall untied the scarf from around her shoulders, shook it out and eolled it inot a band before tying a knot in the centre, that was almost as large as the bound Signora’s mouth.
“As you desire, please open wide,” he said as he held the scarf in front of her mouth. He gently eased the knot into her mouth, and as she closed her red hued lips around the knot Mister Tall firmly secured the ends together under her long blonde hair.
“Now, we will take our leave of you,” Mister Tall said as he picked up his rucksack. “We will inform the authorities of your predicament when we have had sufficient time to make good our escape. Ringraziamo voi e la vostra domestica per la vostra cooperazione. I ladri dei signori lo hanno offerto addio!”
The two masked gentlemen made their way down the staircase and out of the kitchen, passing the bound and struggling maid as they did so. She glared at them as they exited through the rear entrance, closing the door behind them.
In the bedroom, Angelina Cassarello looked around the room. She had tried to loosen the ropes around her wrists, only to find that she was firmly secured and unable to move much at all. She glanced at the telephone on the bedside table, only to grunt in frustration as she saw the loose wire that was disconnected from the wall.
The two men were having a quiet drink in th4e country bar, reading the paper. The front page story was of the daring raid at the home of the assistant to the Italian Ambassador, covering in detail how the police had received an anonymous tip off and released the two women captives.
“Another successful day, Mister Tall?”
“Indeed, another day. Another pint?”