The More the Merrier
“I wonder why that grey van was parked near the van Holden house,” Moira said as she drove down the road.
“Probably just a workman,” her daughter Katy said as she smiled and looked out of the window. They had spent the afternoon at the local shopping mall, their purchases safe in the boot of their car. As they approached their own detached house, she said “so what do you fancy for dinner tonight?”
“Your aunt Ophelia is coming to dinner tonight – remember?”
“Oh yeah,” Katy said, “so it will be pork casserole with steamed rice.”
“And all the trimmings,” Moira smiled in response. She had just turned forty, and was wearing a grey jacket over her black dress, a wide tan leather belt round her waist. A purple patterned scarf was tied loosely round her neck, two passes with the ends down in front of her, and her black tight covered legs were nestled in a pair of knee length brown suede boots. Her dark brown hair had hints of grey in it, and was styled in waves.
Katy had just turned eighteen, and her lighter brown hair fell over the shoulders of her white and black hound’s tooth pattern dress. The skirt of her dress came to a few inches above her knees, but she was wearing a pair of white leggings, the lower legs of which were tucked into her long sand coloured Ugg boots.
Moira pulled into the driveway of her house, stopping and letting the car engine stop as Katy opened the door. Walking round, she waited until her mother opened the boot, and they took their bags out, talking quietly to each other as Moira unlocked the front door and they walked in.
“I’ll take these up to my room,” Katy said, Moira nodding as she took her jacket and scarf off, and then hung them on a coat stand. She walked into the front room – and then stopped still as a voice said “good afternoon, my dear – please, don’t turn around.”
Kate walked into her room, placing the bags on the bed as she went to open her wardrobe. She smiled as she made some room, and then turned to take the blue dress from the bag.
“This will look good at the picnic,” she said to herself.
“I agree – that shade will look particularly good on you.”
Katy turned round at the sound of the voice, to see a man about the same height as her standing there. He was wearing a black leather jacket over a roll neck sweater, jeans, trainers and leather gloves – and a balaclava over his head, allowing only his blue eyes and his smile to be seen.
“Oh no,” Katy whispered quietly as she let the dress fall to the ground.
“Now is that any way to treat such a fine garment,” the man said as he walked in, the gun in his hand pointing at Katy as he stooped and lifted it by the hanger. “Please, make sure it is correctly stored. I ask only that you do as I say, and do not try to scream or raise the alarm. I have no desire to be physical with you, but be assured if it is necessary, I will be.”
“No – no I’ll do as you say,” Katy said as she walked to her wardrobe, hanging the dress up before she turned round. “So what are you going to do now?”
“Well,” the masked man said, “shall we start with you telling me your name?”
“All right Katy – my name is Mister Small, and as I said, you just need to do as I say. Did you come back in with anyone else?”
Katy suddenly looked to the door, as Mister Small smiled. “Be assured, my partner will be talking to her now.”
“My name is Mister Tall,” the large masked man said as he looked at Moira. She was sitting on a leather couch, her hands on her head, trying to figure out why he was there. “I regret the fact I and my partner have met you and your daughter, and the fact that we will need to ensure you cannot impede us in our work or our egress.”
“Why are you in my house?”
“Ah – well that is more to do with the fine collection of coins your husband has – we knew he was away this weekend, so it seemed an opportune time to call. Of course, we would prefer to have been and gone before you returned, but life sometimes places these little difficulties in front of all of us.”
“You don’t so,” Moira replied, “so what do you intend to do to me and Katy?”
“Well, as I said,” Mister Tall said as he sat down, “we have to make sure you cannot get in our way, if you forgive the phrase. So, my friend will ensure Katy stays upstairs, and at the same time I will ensure you stay where you are. But, there is no sense in you being uncomfortable – where would you like to spend the next few hours?”
Moira looked at her, before she said “lying down here – if that is possible?”
“Of course it is Moira – now, may I ask another question?”
She looked at Mister Tall and said “what?”
“How long since your operation?”
She glanced down to where the slight scar was visible on the skin above the neckline of the dress, and said “two years.”
“And the prognosis?”
“They got everything,” Moira said quietly, “and no sign of any secondaries?”
“Then I salute your courage,” Mister Tall said as he reached over and took hold of a rucksack, opening it and taking out a length of cord, “so I will ensure you are not too uncomfortable. Please, cross your wrists in front of yourself.”
“I trust that is not too uncomfortable?”
Katy looked over her shoulder and shook her head, looking at the bands of rope that now encircled and held her wrists together. “No it’s not – but what is going to happen to my mother?”
“Mister Tall will see to her and ensure she is comfortable restrained,” Mister Smalls aid as he produced a longer length of rope, doubled it over and began to wrap it around Katy’s upper body and arms, holding them tightly into her sides as it went above and below her chest.
“Is there a problem,” he said as he heard Katy gasp.
“No – it’s just this has never happened to me before. I did not think it would feel like this...”
“Well, stay calm, and lie still when I am done, and it will be all right,” Mister Small said as he passed the rope round again, then used it behind Katy’s back before he fed the rope under one arm, up and around the back of her neck as he held her hair out of the way, and under the other arm before he gently pulled and tied the ropes off.
Katy tried to move her arms, and had to stop herself from smiling as she did so.
“Now, please, sit down on the bed – I need to ensure your legs are secured.”
“Do you say that to all the girls you rob,” Katy joked as she sat down.
“Oh yes – and the boys as well. It helps to defuse the tension.”
“You know,” Katy said as Mister Small knelt down, and wrapped rope around her ankles, “you really are a most unusual armed robber.”
“Contrary to what you may believe,” he said as he looked up, and used the rope to pull her ankles together, “some of us do not believe threatening gestures and waving weapons around to make threats are the best way forward. As someone once said, a kind word can go a long way.”
“Hmmm,” Katy said as he passed the rope between her legs, and then tied it off, before he took a second length and tied her leg together below her knees, “I can see how that would work.”
“Good – and again, I regret that this is necessary, but we have a job to do.”
“Well,” Katy said as he passed the rope between her legs, and she felt the band tighten over her leggings, “when you put it that way...”
“Indeed – lie down please.”
Katy lay on the bed as she watched Mister Small fetch two more things out of his bag – a sponge ball and a wide roll of medical tape.
“Now then,” he said as he looked at Katy, “any last words or requests?”
“All right, this is comfortable,” Moira said as she lay on her side, watching as Mister Tall took the rope he had tied between her wrists and secure it to the band that sat around her legs, below her knees and above the cuffs of her boots. Hr ankles were also tightly secured together, and a band of rope was tied round her arms and body, holding them in place while not rubbing on her chest.
“Good,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “now, we need to...”
He stopped as he heard the front door open and close, and a new voice say “Moira? Where are you?”
“Invite her into the room,” Mister Tall said as he stood by the door, “and please – let it be a surprise to her.”
Nodding, Moira called out “I’m in the front room Chloe – come on in.”
She watched as the door opened and a woman of about the same age as her came in, her greying brown hair pulled back in a bun. She was wearing a blue jacket over a black scoop necked top, a knee length red skirt, dark tights and knee length red suede boots. In her hands was a bouquet of white flowers, but as she saw Moira on the couch, lying on her side with the bands of rope securing her, she whispered “what the...”
“Hello Chloe,” Mister Tall said as he stepped forward, “I offer my apologies, but both Moira and her daughter Katy are a little tied up at the moment. And I also offer my regrets that you shortly will be as well. Your handbag, if you please?”
“A new arrival, Mister Tall?”
Chloe turned round to see two identically dressed and masked men, the only difference the foot in their heights. “Indeed Mister Small – meet Moira, and her friend Chloe. Young Katy?”
“Resting on her bed, and enjoying the silence. I see you brought flowers for your visit – most thoughtful. Allow me to take them and find some water.”
“Er sure,” Chloe said as Mister Small took the bouquet, and Mister Tall took her handbag, opening it and removing her mobile phone.
“Now, Chloe,” he said as he placed both to the side, and drew a length of rope from his rucksack, “kindly put your hands behind your back.”
In the kitchen, Mister Small found a vase and poured some lukewarm water in, before he found sugar and dissolved a large dessertspoon in the liquid, stirring all the time. He then cut away the rubber bands and plastic, before he cut the bottom off the stems and placed them in the water.
Picking the vase up in his gloved hands, he walked back to the front room to find Mister Tall tying the rope around Chloe’s arms, forcing them into her sides before he said “there – now please, take a seat.”
“Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I think so,” Moira said as she watched Mister Small place the vase on the shelf at the far side of the room. “A truly excellent choice,” he said as he looked back. “Would you like me to finish here while you complete our work, Mister Tall?”
“Very considerate Mister Small - I will return shortly,” the taller masked man said as he walked out of the room, Chloe watching as Mister Small took rope, doubled it over, and started to tie her ankles together, the suede crushing under the bands as he pulled them tighter.
“I’m sorry about this,” Moira said as Chloe watched, fascinated at how her boots looked with the band of rope holding her legs together.
“It’s certainly a different experience – you’re the pair of robbers they talk about in the papers, aren’t you? The Criminals with a Conscience?”
“That never fails to amuse us,” Mister Small said as he tied the rope off, and then used a second length to bind her legs together below her knees. “I assure you, Moira, your daughter is fine. She just will have to stay upstairs until sometime later, when we will inform the authorities of your predicament.”
“Thank you,” Moira said as Mister Small took the rope between her legs, and then tied it off.
“You must be Katy – my name is Mister Tall.”
“Nkdnnn,” Katy said through the tape that was smoothed over her lips, as she lay on her side on the bed, her ankles pulled back and secured to the ropes around her chest.
“No, no kidding,” Mister Tall said as he checked the ropes. “Your mother and her friend are both fine – be assured, we will let someone know f your predicament once we have had a chance to get away.”
“Fnkss,” Katy said as Mister Tall brushed her hair from her face, and then left the room. He then walked down the stairs, looking in as Mister Small was smoothing a wide strip of white medical tape over Chloe’s mouth.
“Tssntnsbd,” she mumbled, the shape of her lips moving under the tape making Moira giggle.
“I guess it’s my turn next,” she said as she looked at Mister Tall.
“Indeed – open your mouth as wide as you can please.”
As she did so, she felt Mister Tall gently push the compressed sponge ball into her mouth, feeling it swell and push her tongue down as she closed her lips over it. She then watched as he peeled a long strip of the white tape from the roll and tore it off, before he smoothed it firmly over her own mouth, the tape forming to the contours of her face.
“Are we ready to depart,” Mister Small said as he picked up the rucksack, taking the tape and putting it in the bag.
“I believe so - Moira, Chloe, the Gentlemen Robbers bid you and Katy adieu. May we never meet again.”
The two older women watched as the masked men walked out of the room, and out of the house, before Chloe started to try and free herself.
Moira looked up several hours later, as two policemen came in, one kneeling and pulling the tape away from her mouth before he eased the wet sponge out.
“Please,” she gasped, “my daughter... Upstairs...”
“Go and look,” he said over his shoulder, the other policeman running up the stairs as he took the gag from Chloe’s mouth, and then started to untie the two women.
“Yes,” DCI Jardine said as he looked up.
“Sorry boss,” the uniformed officer said as he looked in, “we got reports of another robbery.”
“Did the Dolls strike twice?”
“No – the descriptions match the Gentlemen Robbers.”
Jardine looked over at the young DC, before he said “two big robberies in one night? What’s going to be next? A kidnapping?”