The seven women looked at each other, the containers and sample goods laid out on the table in front of them, but no purchases were being made, no conversation was taking place.  No noise, save for the ticking of the clock, and the breathing – and the man sitting there…


Earlier that day


“Holly, want a cup of Joe?”


“Yes please, Marge,” a young female voice called back as Marge stood by the percolator.  The twenty five year old was wearing a white vest top and grey patterned shorts, grey slippers on her feet as she watched the brown liquid slowly drip through the top of the machine.


She turned and smiled as her sister Holly walked in.  She was two years older, and while Marge had her brown hair cut in a neat bob, Holly’s hair was looser.  She was wearing a pink housecoat with short sleeves, and nodded as Marge handed her a mug of coffee.


“Thanks – so where’s that husband of yours?”


“At the bank,” Marge said as she smiled and then took a sip from her own mug, “and you need to think about getting ready – the hostesses will be here soon.”


“the – oh for the love of…  That’s THIS morning?”


“It is,” Marge said as she heard the knock on the front door of the house, “so you need to think about making yourself presentable.”  Putting her mug down, she walked out of the kitchen, Holly shaking her head as she heard her sister open the front door.


“They’re not here early are they,” she said, and then her jaw dropped as Marge walked back in with two men.  Both were wearing polo-neck sweaters and dark trousers, as well as dark glasses – but one of them had her sister’s arm in his gloved hand, and Holly could see the gun in the other gloved hand pressed against her side.


“Don’t say a word,” the second man said as he put a duffel bag on the floor.  “We’re in charge now – understand.”


“Holly, what’s going on – you know we have…”


“I said don’t talk,” the second man whispered as he looked at her.  “We need to make sure she can’t raise the alarm – pull that chair away from the table, and sit down, hands palm down on your head.”


“Do as he says, Holly,” Marge whispered, the fear clear in her eyes as Holly slowly sat down.  The second man placed the duffle bag on the kitchen table, and opened the top, pulling out a coil of rope and then walking behind the frightened woman before he started to lash her body to the chair.  As he did this, the man with Marge whispered “you expecting any guests today?”


“Yes – I’m hosting a Tupperware party…”


“Cancel it.”


“I can’t – it’s too late, they will be in the car now.”  She turned her head and looked at the man, Marge grunting as her hands were pulled back behind the chair back and then the rope forcing her wrists tightly together.


“Well then, we’re going to have  a lot of company,” he whispered into her ear as the second man knelt and lashed Holly’s ankles together with more rope, then pulled them to the side and secured them to the chair leg.  “But her – shut her up.”


“What dyuhmhn,” Holly started to say before a handkerchief was pushed roughly into her mouth, the man then doubling over a length of rope and tying it round her head so that it sat between her lips, the cloth pushed further in.


“Now listen,” the man with Marge said, “some people are coming – fine.  Act normal, let them in, we deal with them.  Got it?”


“Yes,” Marge whispered as she looked at Holly, and then heard the knock on the door.  “That…  that will be the hostesses.”


“Good,” the man said, “come with me, let them in.  You go and check the utility room, see how much more rope we can rustle up.”


“Got it,” the second man said as his partner looked at Holly.


“If you make any noise at all, she dies.  Got it?”


“Yhsss,” Holly said as the rope rubbed at the corners of her mouth.  He nodded as he led Marge away by the arm, and stood by the side of the door as she slowly opened it.


“Good morning Marge – is that coffee I smell?”


“Yes – come in, both of you,” she said as she stood to the side, allowing the two women to come in with their bags.  As they did, the younger one turned and mouthed “shit…”


“What is it, Selma,” the older woman said, and then she saw the man pointing the gun at them.


“Not a word, ladies – we’re in charge, so no speaking unless we say you can.”  He looked at them – the older woman in a grey patterned dress with short sleeves, the younger woman in a white jacket and skirt with the same pattern.  “What are your names?”




“Selma… Please, don’t hurt us…”


“then do what we say,” the armed man said as his partner came out of the kitchen, holding white ropes in his hands.  He watched as Patty and Selma slowly unpacked their bags, showing their wares on the low table, before looking at each other.


“Hands behind your backs, ladies.”


The two women looked at Marge as she said “I’m sorry – they just walked in a while ago.  Holly is tied up in the kitchen – there was nothing I could do…”


“I understand,” Patty said as she felt the rope rubbing on her wrists, “we were robbed once – but what do they want?”


“I don’t know, we don’t have much,” Marge replied as the second man moved over and secured Patty’s wrists behind her back, before they were both pushed onto the cane couch, sitting next to each other.  The man then knelt in front of each of them, crossing and securing their ankles together as the first man stood with Marge.


“who else is coming?”


“three friends – why?”


“Did you find more rope?”


“Yeah – in the utility room,” his partner said as he stood up.


“Good – cut some more lengths.”  He looked at the wall clock, and said “relax, Marge – you need to do something for us in a little while…”




Marge swallowed as she walked to the door, hearing the knock again before she smiled and opened it.


“Hello Marge.”


“Olga – come in,” Marge said as she stood to the side, allowing her neighbour to come in.  Olga was taller than her, with short dark brown hair that had a hint of grey in it, and was wearing a dark brown jumper with red pants that had a slit at the front of the leg cuff.  Brown moccasins were on her feet, as Marge closed the door.


“So where are thhfhrswht?”


“Do not say a word,” the man said as his gloved hand covered Olga’s mouth, her eyes wide under her horn-rimmed glasses.  “when I take my hands away, put your hands behind your back, and don’t move.”


“Marge, what is happening,” the woman said as her hands were pulled behind her, and she felt the rope as it rubbed on her bare wrists.


“I don’t know – all I know is we are all being held hostage, and I’m sorry, but you are now as well,” Marge said as the man said to Olga “open your mouth, and do not spit this out.”  As the taler woman did so, he pushed a folded J-cloth into her mouth, the blue material sticking out as she was turned and frog marched into the front room.




“Now,” the man said as he came back – but there was another knock on the door, Marge rubbing her hands as she went and opened the door.


“Hello neighbour – am I late?”


“Not at all,” Marge said as she stood to the side, and a redhead walked in, her permed hair flowing down to her shoulders.  She was wearing a sleeveless purple top and checked pedal pushers, and as Marge closed the door she said “it’s very quiet.”


“I know – and I’m sorry Ruth.”


“Sorry for what?”


“For the fact you’re a captive now as well.  There is a man with a gun behind you – please, put your hands behind your back, and then you can join the others.”


“Are you serious…  Oh lord, you are serious, aren’t you?”


Marge nodded as Ruth slowly moved her hands behind herself, and she felt someone grab and cross them, before some rough cord was pulled tightly round them.


“Who else?”


“Holly…  Olga… The Tupperware ladies…  And I guess you, and me,” Marge said quietly as the blue cloth was pushed into her mouth, and she was frogmarched into the front room.  The blinds had been pulled down, the light coming between the slats making the dust visible in the air as Ruth looked at the other three.  They were sat down, hands behind their backs, ankles crossed and secured and the edges of the blue cloth sticking out from between their lips.


“Hmghd,” Ruth mumbled as she saw the second man, the rope in his hands as she was pushed into an armchair.  He knelt down and crossed her ankles, as she felt the cord rubbing on them as he secured them tightly together.  She twisted her legs round before she put them to one side, looking at Olga, Patty and Selma.




“Hdhtnnh,” Olga replied as the man walked over to Marge.


“It’s time – I want you to call your husband, and tell him…”


Another knock on the door made him look, as he said “is this the last one?”  Marge nodded as he indicated to the other man, and said “any sound out of any of you, you will regret it, understand?”  As they all nodded, the three made their way to the front door.


“Marge?  Are you all right – you look a little pale.”


The woman standing there had long brown hair, and was wearing a sleeveless brown dress with a white check.  “Sorry Doris,” Marge eventually said as her friend came in the heels of her shoes clicking on the floor, “it’s been a strange morning.”


“Strange?  In what way?”


“I’m sorry,” Marge said as she closed the door, and Doris saw the man holding the gun, as her own wrists were pulled quickly behind her back and she felt someone binding them together with rope.  The man with Marge put his gloved hand on the young woman’s shoulders, as she said “we’re all hostages – they’re making me call my husband and get him to do something.”


“All of us – Holly?”


“Her as well,” Marge said as the man picked up the telephone receiver.  She saw the way the cloth was pushed into her friend’s mouth, and shivered as she was forced into the front room.  After a moment, she slowly dialled and waited.


“Hello, can I speak to Tom please?  IT’s his wife.


“Tom – listen very carefully.  There are two armed men in our house – they have taken me, Holly and some others hostage, and they want you to do something or they say they will kill us.


“No, you must not call the police, or tell anyone at the bank.  If you do, they say hey will kill all of us.  They want you to be ready when their partners come in an hour, and do whatever they tell you to do.




She looked at the man and said “he wants to talk to you?”  He took the handset and said “you heard your pretty little wife – do nothing, tell no one, wait for my partners.  If you call here again, one of them gets hurt, then another – I trust I make myself clear?


“Good – await instructions,” he said before he put the handset down, and pulled the telephone wire from the wall.  He then took Marge by the arm and marched her into the room, as his partner brought a chair through from the kitchen.


“Sit down,” he said quietly as Marge took a seat, and then he started to bind her upper body to the chairback with some bleu rope from the garage.  She looked at the other five women, the cloth damper where she could see it between their lips, before the second man walked round and pressed strips of silver tape down over their mouths.


“I’m truly sorry,” she said as the man tied the ropes off, then secured her ankles to the front legs of the chair before she too had a cloth pushed into her mouth – and then rope tied round her head, sitting between her lips as the others watched.


The two men went to the kitchen, before Marge saw them carry holly in.  She was still secured to the chair, but her robe had opened up slightly as a result of her struggling, the sweat stains clear.


“Hnhh – hllhfhs,” she said as she was set down next to her sister, Marge nodding as one of the men went and stood by the window, the other sitting with the gun over his lap.


The seven women looked at each other, the containers and sample goods laid out on the table in front of them, but no purchases were being made, no conversation was taking place.  No noise, save for the ticking of the clock, and the breathing – and the man sitting there…







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