Seventies Bound – Crime School
August was always a strange time at St Blazius school for Young Ladies – the fifth and Upper Sixth forms may have been on holiday, but the examination results were due in the middle of the month, and for Allyson Brookes, the school secretary, that meant preparing letters to all of the pupils in those forms, explaining either their options when they returned or offering congratulations on their results.
She was not the only staff member in residence – a small number of students stayed over the summer for a variety of reasons, and for this summer of 1978 that included a number of girls from overseas. Miss Babcock, the headmistress, and her assistant Mrs Duncombe had taken some of them to London for the day, but three of the girls – sisters from America – were in the residence, Matron keeping an eye on them.
She finished another letter off, taking it from the typewriter and pinning an addressed envelope to it, before she placed it on a pile and stood up to stretch. A coffee break was most definitely called for at this point. Allyson was wearing a white and brown checked blouse over a brown turtleneck sweater, a dark grey waistcoat over the blouse. Her light brown hair was cut long and curled at the ends, and her olive coloured front pleated skirt came down over her knees as she stood. The hem covered the tops of her burgundy red leather boots, the square heels sinking into the deep pile carpet as she made her way to the small kitchen.
Filling the kettle, she placed it on the small ring of the cooker and turned the heat on, putting some Maxwell House coffee into a large mug and adding some milk as the kettle heated up, a low whistle that built in pitch and volume telling Allyson when the water was ready. Picking up a dish towel, she lifted the hot kettle by the handle and poured the water in, stirring all the time, before replacing the kettle to the cool side of the hob.
Opening a tin, she took out a couple of Jaffa Cakes and held them in one hand, the mug in the other as she returned to the office. Putting the mug down, she sighed as she picked up another sheet of paper – then gave a muffled gasp as a leather gloved hand clamped itself over her mouth, and she was pulled back.
“Not a word, Miss – we don’t want to get hurt or into any trouble, do we?”
She didn’t recognise the voice, but she could see another man in front of her, dressed in a cream safari jacket and bell bottom pants with black Cuban heel boots, dark glasses – and a very real and menacing pistol in his gloved hand. Allyson slowly nodded as the man behind her said “good – be a darling, and when I take my hand away open your mouth as wide as you can.”
Allyson slowly nodded, and as the glove was taken away she opened her mouth, trying not to retch as the balled up cloth was pushed in, forcing her tongue down to the floor of her mouth, before the neck of her jumper was pulled up to cover her lips and face below her nose. She could hear the ripping sound before silver tape was wrapped tightly round her head, forcing the cloth to her lips and silencing her completely.
She was sitting in an old wooden chair with arm rests, and as the man in front of her walked forward and grabbed her wrist, she saw he second man. He was dark skinned, and wearing a brown roll neck sweater under a blue jacket with matching pants. He took her other arm and forced it palm down onto the arm rest, taping her wrist to the wood before he passed the roll of tape over to his colleague, and her other arm was secured in the same way.
She looked from side to side, wondering what was going on as the tape was wound tightly round her waist, holding her to the hair back, and then around her lap on the seat. Finally, the man in the Safari jacket knelt down and taped her ankles together.
“Great – these boots are ruined,” she said to herself as the wheeled her to the supplies cupboard and pushed her in, closing and locking the door behind her before the two men looked at each other.
“We check the school, see who else is at home – and we keep them quiet…”
“Are you girls going to be all right now,” Mrs Dobson said as she stood in the doorway of the common room, looking at the three young American students in their jeans and striped tank tops.
“We’re fine, Matron,” one of the girls said, Mrs Dobson smiling as she closed the door and heard the music start. She was wearing an open necked cream silk blouse, the collar over the top of her maroon coloured suede sleeveless dress. The dress had buttons at the front, and matching tie belt, the pleated skirt coming down and covering the top of her coffee coloured leather boots.
She had been Matron at St Blazius for ten years now, since her husband had died in the accident, and the girls were in many ways a surrogate for the children she had never had. She wanted to care for and protect them at all stages, make sure they came to no harm…
As she entered her room, she saw the two men waiting, one of them pointing a gun at her as he put his gloved finger to his lips. “Not a word,” he said as he looked at Mrs Dobson, “our business is not with the girls here at the moment, so as long as you do as we say, we don’t disturb them, understand?”
“Who are you, and what do you want?”
“Not your problem, lady,” the man in the safari jacket said as he held up a roll of bandage, “all you need to do is lie down on the examining table there, on your stomach, and put your hands behind your back.”
“I have a choice?”
“No – not really,” the other man said as she lay down on the low table, unable to stop them as they folded her arms behind her back, placing her elbows in the palms of her hands, and started to secure her forearms together with the bandages. As they did so, she remembered the times she had played similar games with her husband, using those memories to calm herself and stop herself panicking…
“Roll over and sit up.”
Mrs Dobson, with some difficulty, rolled herself onto her back and sat herself up, watching as Safari Jacket man bound her ankles tightly together with more bandages, and his friend wrapped some around her upper arms and body to hold them into place.
“What are you intending to do – mummify me?”
“No – just do enough to keep you quiet and out of the way,” Safari Jacket man said with a smile.
“And how are you going to keepmequweeeutehhddtskkk,” she mumbled as he pushed a folded cloth into her mouth, and then wrapped a crepe bandage tightly round her head to ensure it stayed firmly in place. She watched as his companion went to the medicine cabinet, and forced it open before he took a bottle of ether, and poured some onto a cloth.
As he pressed the damp cloth firmly over her nose, she had to breath in deeply, her eyes flickering as she slipped into unconsciousness.
“Right – we put the other girls to sleep, before the party arrives back…”
“All right girls,” Natalie Duncombe said as the minibus came to a stop outside the school, “take your bags to your rooms, and we will arrange supper later.”
“I forgot the catering staff had the day off,” Holly Babcock, the Headmistress said as she got out. She was wearing a grey herringbone tweed jacket with a long matching skirt, pleated at the front, and a dark olive green tie-neck blouse. Her legs sat in a comfortable pair of cream leather baggy high boots, with a two inch cork heel. Her assistant was wearing a large checked waistcoat over a white blouse, a long red skirt and burgundy red leather boots.
“I’ll make sure the girls get their stuff to the room,” Natalie said, “you find out what the state of play is and then we can take a drive out to the fish and chip shop.”
“Sounds good,” Holly said as Natalie took the girls towards the dormitories. They spoke quietly amongst themselves as they went to their rooms, before Natalie walked back down the corridor – and then stopped outside one particular door. she could hear muffled voices inside – male ones.
“Who’s in there,” Natalie said as she put her hand on the door handle - only to fall into the room as it was pulled inwards, and she saw a man wearing a blazer, jumper and slacks pointing a gun at her.
“Stay quiet,” he said as the door was closed, and someone pulled her arms behind her back, before she felt something like rope being tied tightly round her wrists. She could feel the cords on her skin, rubbing as they were secured more and more tightly.
A length of white rope was then passed over her head and round her body, forcing her arms into her sides as it went above and below her chest. She could see the room had been searched, and a white envelope was sitting on one of the beds.
“what are you doing here?” she said as the ropes were pulled tighter still.
“Taking a couple of your charges for a little trip – we needed to find her medicine,” the man said as she held up a set of inhalers. Natalie stared at him as the ropes were pulled still tighter, and she struggled – not just against the binding, but at the way she was starting to feel.
“What’s wrong teach – too tight?”
“Like you care,” she whispered back as she was pushed onto one of the beds, and she saw the second man, dressed in a safari jacket and pants. He walked forward and grabbed her legs, crossing her ankles as the first man put his gun, down, took some rope from his pocket and started to bind her ankles together.
She tried to struggle, but that made him grip all the tighter, as she said “if you harm the other girls…”
“Only if they get in our way,” the man in the safari jacket said as his colleague pulled the rope tighter between her ankles, and tied the ends off, before he pulled her skirt up and started to bind her legs below her knees, the leather squeaking as her legs rubbed together.
“Hey – don’t you…”
“OH relax, will you – we just want to keep you quiet and out of the way, not anything else,” Safari Jacket said as the ropes were tied off, and then she was allowed to lie on her side as his partner took from his pocket a strip of fabric sticking plaster, tore the backing off, and pressed it firmly over Natalie’s mouth. She struggled, mumbling “ullnffrrgtewwewffthas” as they laughed and took the inhalers with them…
“Allyson? Are you in the office?”
Holly looked round the empty secretary’s office, before she walked to the typewriter and picked up the mug, filled with cold coffee.
“Strange – I wonder what happened to her,” she said as she took the mug to the kitchen, not hearing the thumping from the store cupboard. Allyson grunted as loudly as she could, but could not be heard…
“Mrs Babcock – have you seen Angel and her friends?”
Holly looked at the sixth former and said “no – I’ll go and see if Matron knows where they are.” She walked down the corridor, her heels clicking on the floor before she opened the door to the room, and said “are you…”
She stared at Mrs Dobson as she struggled on the examination table, and stepped back, not sure of what shew as seeing – straight into Safari Jacket man as he said “oh dear – guess we have one more person to keep quiet before we can get away.”
“Who…” Holly’s words were cut short as a rolled up sock was pushed into her mouth, and the two men took her by the arms, frog marching her back to the office.
“Whrrruddnnhrrr,” she called out as she tried to spit the sock out – the man in a blazer spotting that as he grabbed the belt from her great coat, and used it as a cleave gag, pulling it between her lips and forcing the sock further in.
“Sit down,” Safari Jacket man said as Holly was pushed into a chair, and his partner wrapped a length of rope round her waist, pinning her to the chair back. Safari Jacket knelt down in front of her and pulled her ankles to the front legs of the chair, securing them in place with thick twine.
The men then forced Holly to put her hands palm down on the armrests, as her arms were tied down at the wrists and elbows. She tried to move, to call out, but it was useless as the man said “we’ll take real good care of the girls,” before leaving the room.
“Whtgrlllsss? Cmmbkhhrrrr? HLPPPPPPPMMMMMMMMMMMMM!”
“No sign of them,” one of the sixth formers said to the others as the approached the room.
“It’s strange – I thought they were – MRS DUNCOMBE!!!!”
The girls stared at Natalie as she struggled on the bed, then one of them ran over and gingerly pulled the sticking plaster away from her mouth.
“Quick,” Natalie whispered, “find some scissors, and cut me free. One of you find Mrs Duncombe, we need to call the police…”
“They were kidnapped?”
“Indeed,” Holly said as she sat with the other three in her office the next morning. “The police managed to intercept them, thanks to your timely discovery Natalie. So all is well that ends well.”
“For now – maybe we should look at increased security,” Allyson said.
“Indeed – and some lessons in self-defence…”