Seventies Bound – The Typing Pool
“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to Secretarial School. One in London... One in Manchester... The other in Glasgow... And they were each assigned very important but menial duties... I took them all away from that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.”
“Yes I know who you are Mrs Brigham,” the stern looking man at the other side of the fence said, “but will they be able to meet our standards?”
“Of course they will, Mister Jones,” Charlie Brigham said as she crossed her legs. The managing director of Jones Engineering was a tad uncomfortable with the woman sitting opposite him, wearing a pair of grey flared pants and a matching jacket over her white blouse, who smiled as she looked at him with her clear grey eyes.
“I guarantee it,” she said, “so when would you like them to start?”
“Tomorrow – it’s pay day, as we need the extra staff.”
“Very well – I will arrange for them to be here at eight in the morning – and thank you again for choosing Brigham Secretaries,” Charlie said as she stood up and walked out of the office. Leaving the ornate Victorian building, she waved down a taxi and jumped in, saying “Compton Street” to the driver as he headed off.
“Well, we’ve been in worse places,” Agnes said as she looked at the austere exterior of the building. The young scot was wearing a burgundy red blouse with a white floral print, a matching knee length pleated skirt, as well as a pair of shoes in the same colour of leather, the sole and stack heel adding two inches of height and a strap round her ankles.
“True, but not much,” Joy said as the trio walked into the main lobby. She was wearing a similar outfit to Agnes, save hers was dark green as opposed to burgundy red, and she had a long string of pearls hanging round her neck. The only other addition was the dark green knee length socks on her feet.
“Good morning,” the third girl said as they stood at the reception desk, “we have been sent from Brigham Secretaries?”
“Oh yes – one moment,” the man behind the desk said as she looked at the other two. Unlike the red headed Agnes and the brunette Joy, she was wearing a crimson red blouse with a floral print, and a flared knee length blue skirt. A silk scarf in the same shade of blue was tied round her neck in a band, and she had on black shoes in the same style as the other two.
“So this is a one day job,” she said as she checked her short cut chestnut hair in the mirrored column.
“Probably Cass, but at least it pays for the weekend,” Joy said as a grey haired, stern faced woman appeared. She wore a grey jacket and skirt, over a white blouse with a frilled front, and stared at the trio through horn rimmed glasses.
“This way,” she eventually said, “I will show you your workplaces and assignments.”
“Gonna be a long day,” Joy said with a sigh as the trio followed her.
“My name is Miss Grant,” she said as she led them to the typing pool, “and you will do exactly what I tell you to do today – is that understood?”
“Yes Miss Grant,” Agnes said as she led them to three tables, typewriters sitting on them.
“Good – get started on the documents by your machines,” she said as they at themselves down, and got to work.
As the day wore on, the girls kept to their tasks, each looking to the others as they other girls moved in and out. Eventually, glancing up at the clock, Cass looked round and said “did we miss the lunch bell?”
“I don’t think so,” Agnes said, “why don’t we find that Miss Grant and find out where we need to go.”
The three girls stood up and walked to what looked like an office door. Knocking on it, Joy heard the woman say “What is it?”
“Apologies, Miss Grant,” she said as she opened the door and walked in, “but we were wondering where...”
“Oh you stupid little girl,” Miss Grant said as she looked at her, and then picked up a gun and pointed it at her. “You and your friends, in here now?”
“Oh god,” Joy whispered as she, Agnes and Cass came in, hands raised as they saw the empty safe, and the doctor’s bag with notes sticking out of it.
“I guess you’ll have to do more than I was going to tell you,” she said quietly, “close the door, and then keep those hands in the air.”
“What the hell’s going on,” Agnes said as Mrs Grant closed the door, and looked at the three women.
“Good thing I came prepared, in case that bastard Jones turned up,” she said with a sneer as she looked at them. “Right, all three of you – take those shoes off, and you,” she said as she pointed at Joy, “take those socks off as well.”
The girls all looked at each other before they slowly unbuckled and removed their shoes, Joy slipping her socks off before they all stood on the floor in their bare feet.
“We can start by making sure you can’t tell anyone what I’m doing,” Miss Grant said with a sneer as she looked at Joy. “One sock for each of your friends – roll them up and push them into your mouth.”
“Shout again and I shoot,” she said quietly, “now, roll those socks up, and stuff one into the mouth of each of your friends. Don’t worry – I’ll make sure you get keep quiet as well.”
Both Agnes and Cass stared at the gun, before Agnes said “just do it Joy – it’s not worth getting hurt or worse over.”
“I know – we’ll manage,” Cass said as they watched their friend roll up the socks, and then opened their mouths, trying not to gag at the taste as they rested on their tongues.
“There’s a roll of Sellotape on that table,” Miss Grant said with a smile, “cover their mouths. We don’t want them spitting those socks out, not do we?”
“Whruddngths,” Agnes mumbled as Joy tore wide strips of the clear tape off and pressed them down over the lips of her friends.
“Why else? I’ve earned my reward, and that bastard kept refusing. So I’m taking what I’m due and nobody’s going to stop me.”
As she pressed the last strip of tape over Cass’ mouth, Miss Grant looked at her and said “nice scarf – take it off and put it in her mouth now.”
“Mrellsreee,” Cass said as she untied her scarf, and then pushed it into Joy’s mouth, the young woman nodding as she was forced at gunpoint to cover her mouth with the clear sticky tape.
“That’s better – now, all three of you, kneel down in a row, Indian line style.”
She watched as they did this, Agnes first, then Joy, then Cass, before she looked in the bag and took out some coils of rope.
“You tie her hands behind her back,” she said as she passed on length of rope to Joy, “and you get the joy of tying her ankles together while she does that.”
Cass nodded as she put Joy’s ankles together, wrapping the rope around them as Joy crossed Agnes’ wrists behind her back and started to tie them together.
“Make sure you take the rope between the limbs – I want it nice and tight,” the grey haired woman said with a grin, before she picked up another two lengths of rope.
“Tie her wrists now,” she said to Cass as she knelt behind her, putting her ankles side by side and securing them together as Cass tearfully tied Joy’s wrists together. She then tied Cass’ wrists, before making both girls lie face down on the floor.
Agnes soon joined them, as one by one she pulled their bound ankles back and secured them to their wrists. “Can’t have you been immodest however,” she said as she moved their skirts to cover them, before picking up the brown bag and closing it.
“Sorry girls, wrong place, wrong time,” she said with a smile before she left the office, closing and locking the door as they heard her clip-clip footsteps receding in the distance.
“Whtruggnndd,” Agnes said as she turned her head and looked at the other two.
“Gtthssffstrtrs,” Joy said as she started to rub the edge of the tape over her mouth on the shag pile carpet, the other three following her example before the tape finally came away from Joy’s mouth, allowing her to push the scarf out of her mouth with her tongue.
Looking at the other two, she said “hold on” before she moved herself over to Agnes, picking on the knot holding her wrists to her ankles with her teeth as she tried to move the tape away from her lips.
“Joy your feet...”
“Complain later,” Joy said as Agnes felt her feet drop to the floor, “can you get me free?”
“All right John, let’s get the... what on earth happened here?”
“Robbery,” Joy gasped, “call the police and cut us free, will you?”
“Ten thousand? A good day for the enterprising Miss Grant,” Charlie said as she sat behind her desk, the three girls sitting on the other side, now wearing jumpers and slacks.
“Sorry Charlie,” Cass said, “I guess we failed on this one.”
“No harm done Cassandra – how were you to know someone else planned to rob the safe at the same time we were going to? No, you played your parts well – and there will always be other factories...”