What If… Beauty and the Best – Silent Night









It is, of course, not the first time the UK has faced a severe national crisis and a time of work-related strikes.  So, What If Beauty and the Best had been around in the Seventies…


“Does your granny always tell you, that the old songs are the best…”


Edie Coolidge smiled as she put the final decoration up on the Christmas tree and stood back.  The sixty-year-old had grey permed hair with a blue rinse through it, and was wearing a long-sleeved green velvet top, brown bell bottom cut trousers, and black stack heeled shoes.


“So, we’re ready for another Christmas,” her daughter Amanda Holmes said as she sat on the couch.  She had dark brown hair, held up in a beehive, and was wearing a short sleeved red wool dress with a white snowflake pattern at the top, as well as black stiletto heeled black strap sandals.


“I think so,” Edie said with a smile.  “Given that man of yours is stationed in Ulster, it’s better if we are all together.  Where are the girls anyway?”


“Talking in the bedroom, Mum,” Amanda said, “And Elsie is preparing the vegetables for dinner.”


“Good – we need to eat by eight and this blasted power cut,” Edie said as she heard the knock on the front door.


“I’ve got it,” Elsie Coolidge said as she walked past the door, drying her hands on a tea towel.  The twenty-one-year-old was wearing a tight white roll neck sweater, her long brown hair falling over her shoulders, brown corduroy pants with a wide brown leather belt round her waist, and white ankle boots.


Opening the door, she said “hello, how can I help you?”


“By walking back in, and putting your hands in the air,” a male voice said, Elsie walking back as the two visitors came in.  The man was tall, broad shouldered, and was wearing a red sweater, blue denim jeans with the cuffs turned up, and brown shoes.  He also had a black mask over his eyes, and a gun in his gloved hand.


The woman who walked in with him was also wearing an eye mask.  She had curly brown hair and was wearing a cream-coloured blouse with large wing collar under a brown V-necked sweater, brown culottes, and knee length burgundy leather boots.  She was also wearing gloves, as she said “sorry, but we’re here to make sure we can get through the next week.  Where is Edie Coolidge?”


“I’m Edie Coolidge.”


The masked woman turned to see Edie in the doorway and pointed the gun in her gloved hand at her.  “Good – look, we don’t want to hurt anyone, so just do as we say, and everyone will be all right.  Please, walk back in.”


She walked towards Edie as the man took Elsie’s hands behind her back, and she felt the rubbing on her wrists as he used a length of brown hemp rope to secure her wrists together.


“Mum – oh god,” Amanda said as she saw the two masked intruders walk in, and her sister with her hands behind her back.


“Please stay where you are,” the woman said as the man told Elsie to sit in an armchair, and then walked behind Edie, taking her wrists behind her back and securing them tightly together as well.


“Please, no – my babies…”


“Stay calm,” the woman said, “where are they?”


“Upstairs in a bedroom…”


As Edie sat down, the masked man walked behind the couch Amanda was sitting on.  “Best, make sure they stay here – I’ll go and bring the kids back down.”


The man nodded as his partner left the room.




“That is what I am called,” he said as he finished securing Amanda’s wrists together behind her back, “now, don’t move while I secure your ankles…”





As the masked woman listened to the door, she smiled as she heard a young girl say, “of course Santa is real.”  Opening the door, she smiled as she said “of course he is real – and he will come and see you on Christmas Eve.  But right now, I need all three of you to listen to me.”


She looked at the three girls.  The youngest was about six and had short blonde hair.  She was wearing a tartan pinafore dress over an orange long sleeved blouse with a tie neck, white knee length socks and black Mary Jane shoes.  The next girl was about nine and had on a long dress.  The top was a short sleeved white blouse, with a Peter Pan collar, while the skirt was a red check and came to the floor where it had a raised hem.  The third girl was about eleven, and was wearing a short sleeved mini dress, orange with a pop art pattern, as well as knee length brown material boots which were laced up the front, the topes of a pair of grey socks clearly visible at her knees.


“Who are you,” she said as she looked at the woman.


“Well, they call me Beauty,” she said as she closed the door, “what do they call you?”


“I’m Mary, these are my sisters, Mandy and Martha.”


“You are Martha,” Beauty said as she looked at the youngest girl, who nodded as she said, “who are you?”


“Well – I’m a robber,” Beauty said, “and my friend – he’s The Best – is with your mum, your aunt and your grandmother.  Now, that means I have to make sure you can’t call out or raise the alarm, but I promise you it’s not going to hurt.  In fact, it can be fun.”


“Why are you robbing us,” Mandy said quietly.


“Well, I hate to say this,” Beauty whispered as she brushed Mandy’s hair back with her gloved hand, “but we have bills to pay, food to buy.  Now, I’m afraid I have to start by tying your hands behind your back – each of you.”  She showed them the lengths of brown rope in her other hand, and said “so, who wants to be first?”




“Look at us Mum!”


“Oh my god,” Amanda said as she saw Mary, Mandy and Martha walk in, “are you girls all right?”


“We are Mum,” Mary said as they sat on the couch, “Beauty told us what is going on.”


“She did – are you Beauty?”


“I am – girls., meet The Best.”


“Hello girls,” the tall, masked man said, “can you all sit still, and I’m going to use some of his rope to hold your ankles together.”


“We’ll be just like you Mummy,” Martha said as she watched Best tie the rope round her ankles, pulling it tight as it rubbed on her socks.


“Why?”  Edie looked a Beauty and said, “Why do this to us?”


“Beauty says it’s because they have to get money to live,” Mary said as Best secured her ankles together.


Elsie and Amanda looked at each other, before Edie said, “you’re robbing us – to survive?”


“Sadly, yes,” Beauty answered as Best stood up, and went to where he had left a bag, taking out a white scarf and rolling it into a band as he said “now, I’m going to take you grandmother for a little walk in a few minutes, but while we’re out of the room, you need to be quiet.


“All of you – so open your mouth, please.”


“Yes, Mister Best,” Martha said as she opened her mouth, Amanda watching as the masked man cleave gagged her youngest daughter and tied the scarf tightly round her head – and then did the same to Mandy and Mary.  The three girls grinned over the band of silk as he then used more scarves to gag their mother and aunt, before he untied Edie’s ankles and helped her to stand up.


“Come with me,” he said as Beauty stood by the tree.


“Not long until Christmas now girls – excited?”


All three of them nodded as Edie was walked up the stairs, and into her bedroom.


“Are things really so bad out there that you have to rob me to pay for food?”


“Are you a member of the Conservative party, Edie?”


“I am – why?”


“Then you must be aware that Mister Heath’s policies are causing a great deal of hardship – not just with the miners,” Nest said as he indicated Edie should sit on the bed.  “Now, I have no particular wish to make a mess – tell me where your jewelry is.”


Shaking her head, Edie said “it’s a state, isn’t it?”


“Power cuts are just the tip of the iceberg, Edie – on which note, I will tell you that we will leave after the power has been turned off tonight.”


“Then I need to ask you to do something for all of us.”


“Of course – now, your jewelry?”


“Start in the wardrobe, there’s a safe – the combination is…”







Amanda looked at Mary, and then at Beauty as she said “lhttmhthlk.”


“You promise you will not call for help?”


Amanda nodded as Beauty came over and eased the scarf from her mouth.  As the wet silk landed on her chest, Amanda said “we need to feed my daughters.  When my mother comes back, take me to the kitchen and I’ll sort some food our for all of us.”


“That sounds like an idea – but food they can eat in here?”


Amanda nodded as she said “how does Crispy Pancakes and chips sound, girls?  I think your grandmother has some in the freezer.”


The three girls grinned, the corners of their mouths showing the dark grey where the scarf had soaked up their saliva, and nodded as Beauty said, “excellent idea.”




“I’m going to cook some tea, Mum,” Amanda said as Edie sat down, the white scarf sitting between her lips as Best knelt down and re-tied the rope round her ankles.







“This is great – thanks Mummy,” Martha said as she ate a chip, the three girls balancing a plate on a tray on their laps.  Their ankles were still secured, but their arms had been freed.


“You’re welcome,” Amanda said as she sipped her coffee. “So, what is going to happen when we finish?”


“Actually,” Beauty said, “Best has told me what you asked Edie, and we shall take care of that.  After all, it is going to get dark for a while.”


“Oh yeah – the power cuts,” Mary said quietly, “so what are we going to do?”


“Are you all finished?”


As the girls nodded, Beauty took tehri plates and trays and carried them into the kitchen, as Best untied the legs of all three girls and Amanda.  As they stood up, she said “come with me.  Best, would you start to set things up in here?”


“They’re in a drawer in the kitchen,” Edie said as Elsie looked at her.


“What are they going to do?”


“Make sure we are not totally in the dark…”




“So, we get changed,” Amanda said to her daughters, “and then when we go downstairs, Beauty is going to tie us all up – but we will all be the same, all right?”


The three girls nodded as Beauty said, “all right – your grandmother said you would like to wear these, and they will protect your wrists and ankles.”


Mary nodded as she unlaced her boots and pulled them off, Amanda helping Mandy and Martha to take their clothes off before she removed her own shoes and dress.  She then put on a one piece red and white striped sleepsuit; her feet covered by the attached slippers.  It zipped up the front, as Mary put her feet into the feet of a pair of peach pajama bottoms, bootees keeping them warm with an elasticated cuff at her ankle.  She then pulled over her head the long-sleeved matching top.


Mandy had put on her own pajamas – green bottoms, and a top with a green lower half and a white upper half and sleeves, an orange band round her waist with a bow at the front.


“Can you help me Mandy,” Martha said as her sister walked over, nodding as she helped the young girl to ease her feet into booties of the purple bottoms.  Her top was also purple, with a white lace collar.


“Excellent,” Beauty said, “now, I want you al to stand in a line, and put your hands behind your back.  I’m going to make sure your wrists are tied together, but I’ll put the rope over the cuffs of your tops, so it feels more comfortable.”


“Thanks,” Mandy said, Amanda watching as one by one her daughters had their wrists secured together behind their backs. 


“You’re very nice for a robber, Beauty,” Martha said.


“Actually, you are - I’m sorry you need to do this to buy food,” Amanda said as Beauty crossed her wrists behind her back, and then secured them together with the brown rope.


“What are the four other ropes for,” Mandy asked as she looked on the bed.


“Let me show you,” Beauty said as she doubled one over, and then wrapped it round Mandy’s stomach, pulling it tight as her arms were forced against her sides.  She took it round several times, around her upper arms and her stomach, before she tied the ends off behind her back.


“Okay – I can see how that works,” Amanda said as Mary and Martha both had their arms secured to their sides in the same way, before Beauty did the same thing to her.  She tried not to show how it made her really feel, as she pulled the ropes tight, the bands framing her chest.


Beauty secured the ropes, and then said “right – we go downstairs, your aunt and grandmother come up.”  She let all four of them walk out in front of her, as they went down the stairs and into the main room.


“Ah – well, at least we know what is going to happen now,” Elsie said as she watched them walk in.


“Indeed – Best, would you kindly take the other two upstairs and allow the3m to change before you bind them?”


“Of course,” Best said as she untied the legs of Edie and Elsie and allowed them to walk up the stairs.


“I see the candles are out,” Amanda said as she looked round the room.


“Indeed – it is important you are not afraid,” Beauty said with a smile, “but equally importantly, you need to be safe.  So, girls, I want you all to sit on the couch.”


“Come on,” Mary said as they sat down, watching as Beauty used more brown rope to secure their ankles together at the elasticated cuff, and then their legs below their knees.  She then used another length of rope to tie Mary’s left arm to Mandy’s right arm, making sure it was tightly cinched, and then Mandy’s left arm to Martha’s right arm.


“Have a seat, Amanda,” the masked woman said, their mother sitting down and watching as Beauty used two more lengths of rope to secure her ankles together, and her legs below her knees.


As she and the girls twisted their legs round, Beauty looked at the clock.  “7.15 – we need to make the final preparations soon.”


“We’re ready then.”


The girls said “you look great, Gran, Aunt Elsie” as Edie and Elsie walked in.  Edie was wearing a peach nightgown, with sleeves that came down to her elbows, and a skirt that came to her knees, while Elsie was wearing a sleeveless nightdress which came down to her ankles.  Both of them had their hands behind their backs, and they could see the bands of rope that held their arms to their sides.


“Indeed – take a seat ladies,” Best said as Edie sat in a rocking chair next to the couch, and Elsie sat in the other armchair.  Beauty knelt down and put Edie’s ankles together, wrapping the brown rope round them and pulling it tight as Best did the same to Elsie.  They both then secured the legs of the two women, this time above their knees with the skirts of their nightdresses gathered under the band.


“There – you won’t be able to mov enow,” Beauty said.  “One more thing.”


“What’s that?”


Thew girls watched as Beauty took a roll of brown sticking plaster from the bag, tore as trip off, and then pressed it down over Amanda’s lips.  “Tkhhphsqhut,” she mumbled, the girls nodding as Beauty pressed a length down over each of their mouths, and then did the same to Edie and Elsie.


Best held up a box of matches, and then started to light the candles as the girls watched.  As he finished, the clock struck eight, and the lights all went out, the flames of the candles the only illumination as they reflected on the baubles on the tree.


“Thank you – all of you,” Beauty said as the two of them left Edie and her family to relax in the lights…










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