Seventies Bound 2
The summer of 1975 was one of the hottest ever recorded, both temperature wise and fashion wise, with a wide clash of styles being worn by women. This tale represents the extremes of that time and the perils that could be faced if women found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was possibly the hottest July night that Mandy had ever known in her life - and it had been a long hot summer already. The news had carried stories of a Minister for drought being appointed by Wilson, and advice on sharing bath water with family, but that wasn’t the uppermost thing in her mind.
No, that was what she was going to wear to the barbecue that her friends at work were throwing that night. It looked like it was going to be a scorching evening, but the prospects of things heating up in more ways than one was there. Specifically, the new office post boy Tim was proving to be a very hot attraction indeed.
The eighteen year old looked at her body in the mirror after she had towelled herself off from her bath. She was just beginning to appreciate what an attractive woman she had grown into, and she twisted and turned in the mirror to admire her curves.
Finally she decided that she had to put something on, She pulled some briefs and a bra from a drawer, and then put on a short sleeved cheesecloth blouse, which she tied below her breasts. A pair of red silk hot pants followed, and then Mandy out on a pair of straight red leather boots which laced up at the front.
As she headed down the stairs, Mandy saw her mother standing at the doorway to the front room. Caroline was holding a glass in her hand, and swirling around a drink and some ice cubes with it.
“Is that the most appropriate thing to be wearing to a works evening night out?” She asked as Mandy came towards the room.
“First, Mum, it’s not a works night out, it’s a party that some of the people I know at work are throwing. Secondly, I’m old enough to decide what I want to wear, and finally I certainly would not go dressed like my grandmother!”
Caroline looked at herself in the full length mirror that hung on the hallway wall. She was a librarian, and tended to dress more strictly than her daughter. On the other hand, she thought that she looked quite fashionable in her long sleeved white dress, with a high collar and floor-length skirt. The cork wedge sandals that she was wearing provided extra height as well, and an ethnic print scarf was tied over her greying hair.
“I thought I looked rather modern in this, actually. Certainly the students seem to be wearing these styles more and more.”
“Yes, but aren’t you hot dressed like that? At least I’m cool.”
“You’re cool because you’ve hardly anything on!! Look, never mind what I say, you just have a good time.”
“Thanks mum,” Mandy said as she kissed Caroline on the cheek. “Have you heard from Daddy today?”
“He managed to get a call in while you were in the bath. He’s very busy in New York, but sends his love to you.”
“One day I’ll go to New York and see all those wonderful sights.”
“I’m sure you will, Mandy, I’m sure you will – when you have the £1000 to spare for the ticket.”
Mandy grabbed a crotched poncho and threw it over her top. “I have to go, mum – and please make sure the doors are closed. Another house nearby was burgled the other day.”
“Just go and have fun – I’ll be all right.”
Mandy waved as she headed out of the front door. Caroline watched her out of the room window as she walked down the street, and then headed through to the back of the room to pour herself another drink.
Her daughter was growing up so fast now, and she knew that sooner or later she would be leaving and setting up home on her own. Caroline wasn’t sure if that scared her or pleased her – she loved her daughter so much, but knew she had to grow up sooner rather than later. Caroline sat down and nursed her drink as she tried to think things through in her mind.
She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she failed to notice the soft click as a window was opened in the kitchen, and a dark clothed man crept through the opening that he had made. Stepping softly, he passed through the kitchen into the hallway, and saw Caroline sitting there in a chair with her eyes closed. Slowly he came into the large room, and made his way round until he was standing behind her chair.
The first Caroline knew of his presence in the room was when a hand was clamped over her mouth, and she saw the gleam of a knife blade as it was passed in front of her eyes.
“Stay very still and very quiet,” a Scottish voice said, “I have a knife and I’m not afraid to use it. You do exactly what I tell you to do, is that clear?”
Caroline looked on wide eyed as the knife continued to flash in front of her, and slowly nodded her head.
“Very good. I’m going to take my hand away, and I want you not to say a word. Understood?”
Again Caroline nodded, and the intruder took his hand away from her mouth.
“Stand up and turn around”
Caroline did as she was asked, and saw a burly man in his mid-thirties with thinning brown hair and a greying beard. He was dressed casually, but the knife in his hand gave him authority in that room at that time.
“I need to keep you out of my way for a while,” the man said as he looked around the room. The two downstairs rooms had been knocked together into one, and in the space where the wall had been a geometric wooden screen had been erected that gave some sort of division between the two halves. The slats were far enough apart to allow people to see through.
“Come over here,” the man said, waving his knife in the direction of the partition, and Caroline followed him over.
“I want you to stand in front of this, and let your arms drop by your side,” he said, producing as he spoke some rope from the rear pockets of the jeans he was wearing.
“What are you going to do to me?” Caroline asked in a quavering voice.
“I’m going to make sure you stay out of my way while I search this house,” the man replied. “Now, do as I say.”
Caroline walked over and stood in front of the partition. Unwinding one of the lengths of rope, he tied one end to Caroline’s wrist, wrapping it around three times before knotting it off. He then passed it round one of the slats in the partition, pulling it tight so that her wrist was firmly against the wood, and then around the ropes a couple of times to cinch it. Passing the rope through the slats, he took it over to the other side and tied her other wrist to the partition in the same way.
Caroline tried to move, but her wrists were too tightly tied to the partition wall. Taking a second length of rope, the intruder tied Caroline’s waist to the partition, and then with a still longer length of rope her chest, making sure all the knots were on the far side of the partition from the frightened woman.
“Now, let’s see what else we can do,” the man said, and Caroline started crying as she realised there was no way out……
The sun was large, read, and slowly setting in the west as Mandy walked back up the street to her house. The party had been a great success, and she felt she had made real contact with Tim, and they had agreed to get together next weekend for a date. She swung her handbag round as the air began to cool down to something approaching bearable.
Putting the key in her door, Mandy threw her nag on the floor, quickly followed by the poncho. She had noticed that the lamps were still on in the front room, so Mandy went in both to get a drink and to see how her mother was before she went to bed.
“Mum – are you still up? I can’t wait to tell you wha….. OHMYGODMUMWHATHAPPENED!!”
The sight in front of Mandy was Caroline standing against the wall partition in the downstairs room, only she wasn’t standing voluntarily. Mandy could see ropes around her ankles, legs, waist and chest, and that her mother’s wrists were right up against the wood of the partition. Most striking of all, however, was the large strip of brown sticking plaster that was over her mouth, and the wide-eyed stare highlighted by Caroline’s blue eye shadow that was fixed on her daughter.
“Mum? What happened? Who did this to you?”
Mandy walked round and saw the knots that held the ropes in place around her mother’s body. Caroline was frantically shaking her head and trying to say something to her daughter, but the tape over her mouth was preventing anything understandable from coming forth.
Coming back to look at her mother’s face, Mandy noticed for the first time the frantic, scared look in her eyes and the fact she was trying to scream out.
“Mum, what is it? What are you trying to say?”
“I think, little girl, your mother’s trying to tell you that the person who did this to her is standing behind you.”
Caroline’s eyes opened wide, and Mandy spun round to face the burly man, with his knife in one hand and a pillow sack in the other, which rattled as he placed it on the floor. Not once did he take her eyes off Mandy.
“You’re a pretty little thing, aren’t you?” the man said as he came towards Mandy. Caroline began to struggle and attempt again to get free, but the man put his knife against her throat.
“Shh, shh, I’m not going to hurt such a beautiful creature,” the man said, “but I will need to make sure she can’t stop me getting away. Right, little girl, turn round and put your hands behind your back.”
“Have you hurt my mother?” Mandy asked.
“No, but you need to do as you’re told, or I may have to do something I’ll regret.”
Reluctantly, Mandy turned round, and put her hands behind her back. The man took ahold of her hands, pushed them together with her hands palm to palm, and began to loop a length of rope around them to hold them together. Once her hands were held together, the man took another length, doubled it and fed the loop up her arms until it rested above her elbows. Pulling it tight, Mandy felt her elbows been tied together, and noticed that her chest was pushed out further by the way her arms were being tied together.
The man finished securing Mandy’s elbows together, and then placed his hand on her shoulder. “Sit down,” he said and Mandy let herself be sat on the floor.
She watched as he took a roll of sticking plaster from his pocket, and tore a long strip off. Caroline shook he head and tried to call out in protest, but it was no use as the man firmly pressed the plaster over Mandy’s lips as a gag.
“Now, I need to make sure you can’t run away, so sit still”.
He took a long length of rope, and wrapped it around Mandy’s ankles in a figure of eight over her leather boots. Passing in between her ankles a few times, he then took it up and tied her legs together above her knees, making sure the rope was firmly tied off so that she could not bend her knees without tightening the rope still further.
He took Mandy by the shoulders, and helped her to lie down on her side, before taking another length of rope and tying her ankles to her wrists in a loose hogtie. She looked up at her mother, who had started crying silently at the predicament that she now found both her and her daughter in.
“Well, ladies,” he said as he picked up the pillow case, “I hate to leave you like this, but you seem to be tied up in sorting things out, so I’ll let myself out of the back day. Have a nice night!”
He turned and left the room, and both Mandy and Caroline listened as the front door closed. They then looked at each other for a few minutes, and tried to speak and ask if the other was all right. It was still a warm night, and Caroline in particular was beginning to show signs of tiredness and sweat from her attempts to get free.
Mandy, on the other hand, was beginning to feel the adrenaline rush that comes from great fear, and she began to throw herself around the floor in a desperate attempt to force loose the ropes around her body. Again and again she kicked her legs back and forth, believing that the changes in tension might loosen the rope between her ankles and wrists, but the knots held tight. She rolled round and round, and pulled at her wrists to loosen the rope there, but all to no avail. In fact, the only thing that started to give way was her blouse, as the ties under her breasts came away and the blouse began to hang more and more loosely.
Caroline looked on at her daughter, wishing she could tell her that there was no point in trying – the ropes were just too tightly tied. She should know – she’d been trying since the man had finished tying her legs together, and went off to search the house. She did not want her daughter to feel she had given up, however, so she tried again to wriggle the ropes free from around her body, or at least get her wrists loose from the partition. Sadly, nothing seemed to be giving way.
The clock had struck midnight before Mandy, tired and sweaty, stopped rolling round and realised that she was going to be this way for some time. Looking at her mother, she tried again to talk to her.
“Mmm? MMMM – wht cn w m?”
Caroline tried to reply, but it was useless. Instead, she motioned with her head for Mandy to come closer to her.
Mandy rolled over onto her side, and slowly made her way across the floor until she was lying at her mother’s feet. When there, she rolled onto her stomach and with some effort managed to get onto her knees. Leaning against the partition, she placed her head against her mother’s legs and sat still in thought. Caroline mmphed to show she knew she was there, and looked down at her daughter as Mandy looked up into her mother’s eyes. Outside, the still and warm night air heightened the sounds of the city as life went on, oblivious to their predicament.
The sun was shining brightly down at ten the next morning, as Mrs Swanson approached the house to do her cleaning. It was one of her regular jobs, but she hoped it would not take too long as she had a number of jobs that particular day.
Opening the front door, she called out “Mrs Evans? It’s just me, Mrs Swanson. I’ll get started and be out of your way as quickly as I can.”
Loud noises reached her ears from the front room, but she couldn’t make out what was been said.
“Mrs Evans? Are you in – great day in heaven!!?”
Mrs Swanson could see both Mandy and Caroline, wide eyed and trying to call out to her. Mandy’s blouse had fallen down her arms and back, showing the red bra she was wearing, while Caroline was drooping from being tied to the partition all night. Her scarf had fallen from her head onto the floor, and her fair hair was limp with sweat.
The cleaning lady ran over and peeled the tape from Caroline’s lips.
“Quick – call the police,” she croaked, and as Mrs Evans ran to the phone she continued “Mandy, love, are you all right?”
Mandy nodded, with a feeling of relief that they had finally been discovered after a very long, hot night. Mrs Evans could be heard calling the police, and then after she had replaced the receiver she re-appeared with a pair of scissors.
“Please, free Mandy first,” Caroline said, and Mrs Evans cut through the rope keeping Mandy hogtied. As she stretched her legs out, Mandy watched as Mrs Evans cut the ropes around her legs, and then around her arms. Mandy tried to tell her to remove her gag, but it was only after she cut through the ropes around her arms and wrists that she was able to take the tape off her mouth.
“Mum – are you all right?” Mandy asked as Mrs Evans cut through the ropes holding Caroline to the wall partition. She slumped to the floor out of sheer exhaustion as the rope holding her wrists together was the last one to be cut, but forced herself up and gave Mandy a huge hug.
“It’s over now, dear, it’s all over,” she whispered into her daughter’s ear as Mandy burst out crying, Mrs Evans looking on unsure what to do next.
The police arrived and took statements from both women, as well as ascertaining the extent of the property taken. It transpired that they had not been the only victims of this particular robber – there were three other cases in the previous month of women in the local area tied up and gagged while their homes were ransacked.
It took time for both women to recover – and they made sure after that to be extra vigilant on the long hot summer nights.