The Unexpected Caller
Daisy Meadows looked at herself in the mirror, thinking not for the first time how her parents had saddled her with that name. Having said which, she wasn’t that upset, given she had inherited some of the taste in clothing from her mother.
The white smock top she was wearing over the camisole top had the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and the front open for the top few buttons, while the ethnic headband kept her long black hair away from her face. The outfit was completed by a pair of black leggings and knee length tan leather boots that laced up the front.
Looking out of the window of her student house in the Fallowfield area of Manchester, she could see the quiet street outside, the only traffic the cars of the occupants, and a grey transit van that was pulling up on the kerb.
“Must be workmen,” she said to herself as she went back into the front room of the house, where her housemate Dawn was sitting. The brunette was wearing a brown and red ethnic print smock top, the sleeves coming just below her elbows and a brown leather belt around the waist, with blue opaque tights and a pair of straight tan leather boots.
“All is quiet in the world outside,” Daisy said as she sat down, looking at her friend as she read her book. “What are you up to?”
“Page 300 of 450,” Dawn said without looking up. “What are you going to do?”
“Get back to work I think – I have some orders that need to be completed and shipped by tomorrow,” Daisy said as she checked her phone. “Do you want a coffee before I begin?”
“I’ll make it,” Dawn said as she put her book down, “I could do with the break anyway. You’ll be in the studio?”
Daisy nodded as she walked up the stairs, Dawn standing and stretching before she headed to the kitchen. Filling the kettle, she put it on and rummaged in the cupboard for the coffee, then for a teaspoon as she took two mugs from the tree. The gentle breeze blowing through the kitchen was a welcome change from the heat, as she poured milk into the two mugs and then added the hot water, stirring as the water slowly turned a light brown.
Looking up through the closed kitchen window, Dawn smiled as she picked up the first mug and took a sip, then frowned a little as she realised the breeze was not coming from there.
Turning round, she stood holding the mug before a calm voice said “perhaps you should put that down, before you drop it and break the mug?”
Daisy looked carefully through her magnifying glasses as she placed the diamonds carefully in the ring mounting, surrounding the ruby as it glistened in the bright light.
“There,” she said to herself as she examined the ring, and placed it gently in the holder, removing her glasses as the door to her room opened. “Can you put it on the table over there, Dawn,” she said as she rubbed her eyes.
“Of course,” a deep male voice said, Daisy slowly turning round and looking at the man holding her cup. He stood at least six foot seven tall, and was dressed entirely in black – sweater, jeans, shoes, leather jacket, leather gloved hands and balaclava allowing only his eyes and lips to be seen. In one hand he held a mug of coffee, and in the other a knife which glinted in the light.
“Good afternoon,” he said quietly, “Please do not scream or make any sudden movements. It would be a pity if I was forced to hurt such a beautiful young woman when it is unnecessary.”
“Who... Who are you,” Daisy said quietly as the masked man carefully put the coffee cup down.
“Please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mister Tall, and my friend Mister Small is currently keeping your delightful housemate company. As you have no doubt deduced from my garb, I and my friend are robbers, so I must ask you to co-operate and do exactly what I tell you.”
“Oh my,” Daisy said quietly, “I’ve read about you – but why are you visiting here?”
“We saw some of your exquisite work on display at recent visits,” Mister Tall said as he walked towards her, and picked up the ring in his gloved fingers. “Very high quality, and beautifully presented. You are a true artist, Daisy.”
“Oh,” Daisy said, “I guess I should thank you for the compliment.”
“It was meant as one,” Mister Tall said, “which is why it is with deep regret that I must ask you to put your gems, completed items and cash into this bag here.”
“Yeah, I figured this was coming,” Daisy said with a sigh. “I suppose pleading is useless?”
“I regret so,” Mister Tall said with a smile, “so if you would be so kind, we can ensure you and your housemate are secured while we make our exit.”
“Thank you for at least letting me finish my coffee,” Dawn said as she sat in the armchair, the black clad man sitting opposite her as he held the pistol in his hand.
“No reason why you should go without a drink,” Mister Small said with a smile, “but if you have finished, then I fear we must be about our business.”
Nodding as she put the coffee cup on the table, Dawn said “I know – stop us raising the alarm and all that. What do you want me to do first?”
“Please, walk to the window and draw the curtains over – and do not try to raise the alarm,” Mister Small said as he stood up, watching as Dawn walked over and closed the curtains. Coming back, she said “now what?”
“Please, turn so that your back is to me, and put your hands behind your back,” he replied as he took a length of white rope from a bag. Dawn looked away as she felt the masked man cross her wrists, and then the rope pressing on her as he neatly bound them together.
“What happens when your friend has finished upstairs,” she asked as she felt the rope going between her arms.
“Mister Tall will bring Daisy down here,” he said quietly as he tied the ropes off, and then unwound a longer length before he doubled it over, “so that you may keep each other company while you await the arrival of the police.”
“You know they call you the politest robbers in the country,” Dawn said as she felt the rope as it was wrapped around her body, her arms pulled into her side below her chest as Mister Small wrapped it several times round above and below her chest.
“So I am informed, but truthfully it is a case of knowing we are causing you an inconvenience, and not wishing to make it any more difficult,” he said as he tied the ropes off. “Now, make yourself comfortable on the couch please.”
As she sat down, Dawn stretched her legs out, watching as the smaller masked man knelt down and crossed her ankles before the rope squeaked as it was pulled tightly over the leather.
“I really am not going anywhere,” she said quietly as Mister Small tied the ropes between her legs.
“No – now, stay still...”
“There,” Mister Tall said as he tied the rope off, “I trust that is not too uncomfortable?”
Daisy wriggled round, the rope around her upper body holding her arms tightly to her sides while her wrists were secured behind her back, and then pulled up by a rope between them and her chest. “Not too bad – the top drawer there,” she said as Mister Tall opened a drawer in her room, and removed several jewellery boxes.
“Thank you,” the masked man said as he examined the contents, and placed several items in his bag before going to the wardrobe, and removing a large white silk scarf as well as a small cotton handkerchief.
“Now,” he said as he rolled the scarf along the diagonal into a band, and then tied a knot in the middle, “I regret to say I must ensure you remain silent before I take you downstairs to join your housemate. Breathe through your nose – it can be a little uncomfortable to begin with, but you will soon get used to it.”
“Well, I guessed this was coming,” Daisy said as she slowly opened her mouth, feeling the cotton as the folded handkerchief was gently placed in her mouth, and then the silk knot as it pressed her tongue down, while Mister Tall tied the band around her head.
“Wllssntttbd,” she mumbled as she was helped to stand up.
“Indeed – shall we head down,” Mister Tall said quietly, Daisy walking quietly in front of him as they descended the staircase. Entering the front room, she saw Dawn sitting on the couch, ropes encircling her upper body, legs and ankles, and a layer of white tape covering her mouth. From the way her cheeks were bulging out, Daisy guessed something else was in her mouth behind the tape.
“Ulrrttt,” Dawn said as she looked up, Daisy nodding as she was sat in an armchair, Mister Small taking some ropes and starting to bind her ankles and legs while Mister Tall looked round the room
“We both regret the inconvenience you must both endure for a while,” he said quietly as the sound of rope rubbing on leather filled the room, “but if you remain calm, it can sometimes be a very pleasurable experience according to reports of our visits.”
Both women nodded as Mister Small tied off the last rope, and then picked up the coffee mug. “I’ll get this into the kitchen,” he said as he walked off, Mister tall checking the binding on Dawn.
“Well, on behalf of Mister Small and myself,” he said, “we thank for your hospitality, but...”
He stopped talking as the front door opened and closed, moving to stand behind the door to the hallway as a female voice called out “Daisy? Are you upstairs?”
Daisy’s eyes flicked quickly between Dawn and Mister Tall, wondering what was going to happen as a woman in her mid fifties walked into the room. She had long blonde hair, which fell over the shoulders of her grey cable knit jersey dress. A folded shawl was tied loosely round her neck, while a pair of knee length black leather boots and dark tights completed her outfit.
“Daisy? Why on earth are the curtains closedohmygodwhathppnnnddhhrrmrmmhrrru?”
“Calm yourself,” Mister Tall said as he held the new arrival, his gloved hand over her mouth, “no harm ahs come to these fine young ladies, and no harm will come to you provided you remain calm and do exactly what we tell you. Understand?”
The older woman looked at Daisy and Dawn, both of them nodding as she stopped struggling.
“An unexpected guest, Mister Tall?”
“Indeed Mister Small,” her captor replied as the older woman looked at the smaller man. “What do we have by way of supplies?”
“Not much I am afraid – but there is an unopened skein of washing line in the kitchen.”
“Be so good as to fetch that please,” Mister Tall said, before whispering “Remain calm, all right?” As she nodded, he took his hand away and said “stand perfectly still, hands on your head – we must make some room so that you may keep these delightful young ladies company.”
“Oh my god,” she whispered, “are you two girls all right?”
“An excellent question – what are you doing here,” Mister Tall said as he helped Dawn to jump to another armchair.
“I... I just came to see my daughter,” she said as she looked at Daisy.
“Ah, so you are Daisy’s mother? It is easy to see where she gets her looks and taste in clothes from. I regret to say, however, that we must make sure you cannot raise the alarm as well – ah, Mister Small, you read my mind.”
“Indeed,” the smaller man said as he made a lasso with one end of the skein of rope, and then passed it over the older woman’s head, pulling her arms into her side below her chest.
“Would it be impolite to ask your name?”
“Annabelle,” the older woman replied as Mister Tall wrapped the rope around her, pulling it tight each time.
“Well, Annabelle, kindly lie on your back on the couch please,” Mister Small said as he passed the rope through the band under her chest, and then walked over with her as she sat down, before he crossed her wrist on her lap and started to bind them together as well.
Dawn and Daisy watched as Mister Small took the rope between her arms, and then played it down and wrapped it around her legs below her knees, then around her ankles.
As he did this, Mister tall removed Annabelle’s mobile phone from her handbag, and then removed the battery, placing it with the other two on the old mantelpiece.
“There,” Mister Small said as he tied it off, “that should allow you to stay there for a while.”
“One problem Mister Small – what shall we use to silence her?”
“I regret to say,” the smaller intruder said as he unwrapped the scarf from around Annabelle’s neck, “we must use this. Open your mouth as wide as you can, please.”
“Very well,” she said, feeling the thick band as it was pulled between her lips and then tied tightly round her head, before she rested it again on the arm of the chair. She was unable to close her mouth as she felt it start instantly to get damp.
“Well, unless you are expecting any other visitors?”
Daisy and Dawn shook their heads as Mister Small closed his bag.
“Excellent – we will inform the authorities of your situation in due course. The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu – may we never meet again.”
The three women watched as the masked men left, hearing the back door close before Dawn started to try and struggle free.
“Neelk,” Daisy said after a few minutes had passed. Dawn shook her head and looked over at Annabelle, who was twisting her head round, trying to get the cloth band out of her mouth.
Daisy sat calmly – it wasn’t so bad an experience, and her insurance would cover losses. In fact, it could almost become a selling point – ‘Jewellery so good, people will want to steal it.’
She smiled over the dark and damp grey knot in her mouth, as she waited for the rescue they had promised...