Serpent in the Smog
Jack Wicks sat at his desk at Scotland Yard, staring out of his window at the gathering November gloom. One of the patented “pea soup” fogs was starting to roll in from the Thames, which to Jack meant another smog filled night. “Just what I need,” he thought as the telephone rang on his desk.
“Guv, it’s Bob at the front desk. We’ve had someone come in that I think you need to talk to – it’s important.”
“All right, Bob – put this person in an interview room, and I’ll come and talk to them.”
“You’d better come and see me first, Guv – there’s something you need to know.”
Wicks stood up, put on his jacket and closed the door marked “Detective Inspector Wicks” behind him as he made his way to meet his colleague. Descending the stone staircase, he wondered what was so important that Sergeant Harris wanted to see him first.
“All right, Bob – what’s so important?” Jack said as he met the uniformed officer in the corridor.
“See for yourself,” Sgt. Harris said as he opened the room door. Wicks looked in to see a blonde haired woman sat at the desk, looking in shock and clutching a hot mug of tea.
“Does anyone else know she’s here?”
“No – she asked for you by name. I thought you might want to talk to her first.”
“Thanks, Bob – I owe you one. I’ll take it from here.”
Sgt. Harris nodded and made his way back down the corridor, and Jack smoothed his hair back as he went in.
The woman looked up. “Are you Jack Wicks?”
“I am. How can I help you?”
“The girl I look after – she’s been kidnapped, and I don’t know who to turn to.”
Jack sat down in the wooden chair opposite her. “You’ve come to the right place – why don’t you start at the beginning and tell me what happened.”
The woman took a drink from her tea and started.
“Judy – that’s the girl’s name – and I were taking a walk along Hampstead Heath when we were grabbed from behind by two men.”
“Did you see them?”
“Only one. He was about six foot two, and looked a little tubby. He was wearing a suit and tie, but he also had some sort of mask over his face.”
“Anyway, they dragged us both into a clearing in the trees, where there was a blanket on the ground. Mary and I were pushed down onto the blanket, and I watched them tie her hands together behind her back at the same time as mine were.”
She showed Jack her wrists, which had bruises from ropes around both of them.
“I see,” Jack said as he examined her wrists. “What happened then?”
“We were both made to sit up while our arms were tied to our sides, then I was pushed back down and more rope tied around my ankles and legs. The tall man tied some sort of handkerchief into my mouth, and then I watched them both dragging Judy off in the direction of an old house.
I lay there for a little while, trying to cry out for help, and eventually managed to get my wrist free. I got the rest of the ropes off, and came here to talk to you.”
“Because Derek said if I was ever in trouble, to go to Scotland Yard and talk to Jack Wicks.”
Wicks sat back in his chair and looked at the woman before him. There were med stains on her tailored skirt and jacket, and tear stains running down her cheeks, but she held herself remarkably well, all things considered.
He stood up and opened the door. “Constable, get a squad car to take this woman home.”
She looked up at him. “Go back to Derek, tell him what has happened and then tell him I’ll deal with it. Did you see any houses in the direction they were going?”
She thought for a moment. “Yes – there was some sort of manor house they were heading towards.”
“Were they armed?”
“I had a gun pressed to my head.”
“All right – go and see Derek. You’ll be fine.”
The woman stood up and went out of the room with the constable, as Jack sat thinking for a moment. He then stood up and made his way out of the venerable building.
The fog was descending more quickly as DI Wicks and two constables made their way along the row of houses that backed onto the heath where the attack had taken place. Knocking on each door, they had a short conversation with each of the house owners.
At the end house, the door was answered by a dark haired woman. She was beautiful, dressed in a black silk dressing gown and smoking a cigarette in a short holder as she stood in the doorway.
“Good evening,” she said in a husky voice. “Can I help you?”
“Good evening, Madame. My name is Detective Inspector Wicks, Scotland Yard. We are investigating reports of a disturbance on the Heath near here earlier this evening. I was wondering if we could ask a couple of questions.”
“Well, it is a little inconvenient at the moment.”
“I assure you it won’t take long. Did you see or hear anything at about 5 pm this evening?”
The woman drew her gown tighter around her. “No – I didn’t get home until about 6, I’m afraid.”
“And you live here alone?”
“Apart from my housekeeper, yes.”
“May we speak to her?”
“I’m afraid she’s a little tied up with work at the moment. Perhaps another time?”
DI Wicks looked keenly at the woman. “Did you, when you returned, perhaps see a man about six foot two, well dressed, acting suspiciously in the area?”
The woman’s face seemed to go pale for a moment, but she said “No – and besides, with this fog, I could not see anything.”
The two policemen behind Wicks nodded as he looked at them.
“Well, madam, if you should remember anything please call the police station. Good evening to you.”
The woman nodded as she closed the door to the three policemen, and let out a sigh of relief.
“Well done – now back into the front room.”
A tall man well dressed and carrying a pistol appeared from the side of the door and took the woman by the arm, leading her back into the front room of her house.
Lying on the floor was another dark haired woman, naked except for white stockings and a garter belt, and bound with rope around the wrists, chest, ankles and legs, with her ankles pulled back and secured to her wrists with a short length of rope. A white cloth was tied into her mouth, and she mewed as her friend came back in.
“I trust you are satisfied now?” the woman said as she removed her robe and stood there in a black slip, bra and stockings.
A smaller man was standing in the room, untangling a coil of rope and cutting it into various lengths.
“I should think you are as well,” the taller man said. “After all, we’re not the only lawbreakers here, are we now?”
The woman flashed an angry look at him as he took a length of rope and, pulling her arms behind her back, started to tie her wrists together.
“What have you done with the poor girl anyway?”
“She’s safely stored away until this fog lifts, then we’ll be on our way. Now shut up and stand still.”
He wrapped a coil of rope around her chest, above and below her breasts, pulling tightly so that the rope dug into her bare flesh, and then secured it behind her back. Pushing down on her shoulders, she was forced to kneel on the floor as her ankles were lashed together, then laid down on her side as they were secured to her wrists in a hog tie.
“Now you just lie quietly, and this will all be over soon,” the man said as a cloth was tied into her mouth. The two women looked at each other, trying to talk and nodding to reassure one another that they were all right.
“Have you dealt with the maid yet?”
The smaller man nodded. “Do you want to see her?”
“Yeah, these two aren’t going anywhere for a while.”
The two men left the women struggling on the floor, and made their way upstairs.
In one of the bedrooms, a black dress and white apron had been left on the bed, and a young blonde haired woman turned her head to see who had entered the room. She was wearing a black bra, pants and stockings, which were held up by a garter belt, but no other clothing.
Her wrists had been crossed and tied together behind her back, and secured to her waist with more rope. Rope had also been bound around her chest and arms, making her breasts stick out rather prominently. Rope had been tied around her legs above her knees, three times below her knees and around her ankles, and some sort of white tape was over her mouth.
“What’s that over her mouth?”
“I found it in a medicine cabinet – it must be that new type of plaster that came out recently. There’s a pair of panties in there as well to keep her extra quiet.”
The tall man looked at the girl as her long blonde hair went down her back. “Where’s our little guest?”
The shorter man opened a door and the tall man nodded. “Now all we need is for this fog to lift. Come on – let’s see what these two dykes have by way of a drink.”
In the basement of the house, the door to the kitchen was opened and DI Wicks crept in, followed by the two policemen.
“Are you sure this is where they are?” He said.
“Yes, sir – I noticed the reflection in the hall mirror.”
“Smart move, son – come on, let’s find her and bring this to an end.”
The three men cautiously made their way up to the ground floor and crept along the corridor. Through the open door, they saw the two bound and gagged women on the floor of the front room, but made no attempt to free them at this point, choosing instead to go to where the noise of glasses and laughter were coming from at the rear of the house.
Wicks signalled to the two policemen to investigate, as he made his way up the stairs to the upper floors of the house.
Opening the bedroom door on the second floor, he saw the maid lying on the floor. She was on her back, and arching her back in a vain attempt to try and loosen the ropes. When she heard the door open, she lay down and rolled over to face Wicks standing in the doorway.
She tried to call out, and motioned with her head towards a wardrobe that was inset into the wall. Wicks nodded, and silently made his way across to open the door.
Sitting on the floor of the wardrobe, with the clothes pulled over to the other side, was a young woman, about eighteen years old, wearing a short white slip. Her wrists were crossed and bound behind her back, and her ankles were tied together with a rope that had then been pulled up and tied around her upper thighs, forcing her to stay in that position. More of the white tape was over her mouth.
“Are you Judy?” DI Wicks said, and the girl nodded. “I’m DI Wicks – just stay still while I get you free. It’s all right; everything is going to be all right.”
He helped Judy to shuffle out of the wardrobe, and quickly untied the knots around her legs and ankles. Peeling away the tape, she spat out a stocking that had been pushed into her mouth before whispering “thank you.”
One of the policemen came in as Judy was rubbing her wrists. “We’ve got the two men handcuffed downstairs. What do you want us to do?”
“Take Judy with you,” Wicks said as he took a greatcoat from the cupboard and placed it over her shoulders. “You know where to go with them. I’ll follow you later once I’ve taken care of things here.”
The policeman nodded as he helped Judy down the stairs. Wicks looked down at the other woman on the floor, who was staring at him and calling out something that sounded like “Help me.” He stared back, shook his head and made his way out of the room.
Walking down the stairs, he went into the front room and looked at the two women on the floor.
“Excuse me, ladies,” he said as eh walked past them, “I need to make a phone call.”
He went to the set sitting on the table and dialled a number.
“Derek? It’s Jack.
Don’t worry – we found Judy and she’s on her way back to you. The two idiots who tried this are also coming with her. We have, however, a problem. Said idiots broke into a house, and we have three female witnesses.
Yes, they bound and gagged them. I haven’t done anything about that – yet.
Uh-huh. I understand. I’ll wait here until they arrive.
Yeah – thanks, Derek. See you later.”
“Well ladies,” Wicks said as he replaced the phone, “I’m afraid both of you and the maid are about to have a career change. When those two men overpowered you, you weren’t to know they had kidnapped the daughter of Jack Lords, the biggest crime boss in London – and Jack doesn’t like witnesses to his problems.
Don’t worry – you won’t be like this for long. Besides, I’m told Tangiers is very nice at this time of year – if you’re not a slave.”
Jack went and poured himself a drink and sat down as the two women looked at each other, and tried to scream for help.