St Monica’s Young Mothers Group
“And you are listening to Three Counties Radio. It’s 10 am on Monday, 10th December 1979 and it’s time for the news now with Alistair MacLean.”
“Good morning. Police are still looking for the prisoner that absconded from Pentonville prison two days ago. Robert Young is…”
“And that’s quite enough of that,” Suzanne said as she turned the radio off, and looked at the clock. With Quentin safely deposited at school, she was expecting the rest of the committee of the St Monica’s Young Mother’s group to come soon for coffee, and to confirm the planning for the Christmas party that Saturday in the church hall.
It was a cold, crisp day, and Suzanne was wearing an olive green pinafore dress made from corduroy. It was held up by thick straps over her shoulders, and underneath she was wearing a chocolate brown roll neck sweater – the same colour as her knee length suede boots that hugged her lower legs.
Walking to the kitchen, she poured some water into the coffee percolator, and filled the upper part with a filter paper and some freshly ground Colombian coffee. It did not take long for the aroma of the coffee to permeate the room, as she arranged some chocolate cakes on a plate and carried it through to her large front room.
The doorbell ringing made her smile, as she walked to the door and saw Angel standing there. The strawberry blonde was wearing a dark brown greatcoat over a tartan print pinafore dress, a white roll neck sweater under that, and a pair of burgundy knee length suede boots.
“Come in, come in,” Suzanne said as she opened the door, “I have the coffee bubbling away.”
“Smells good,” Angel said as she took her coat off and handed it to Suzanne, watching as she hung it on the coat stand, “it seems so quiet with the kids at school now.”
“But nice, right,” Suzanne said as the doorbell rang again, and she opened it to allow Eleanor to come in. The brown haired young woman was also wearing a pinafore dress, hers made from burgundy coloured corduroy, and over a slouch necked pale brown jumper. She was also wearing burgundy knee length suede boots, and smiled as Suzanne took her coat as well.
“Why don’t you both go and sit in the front room,” she said with a smile, “I’ll bring some cakes through, and then the coffee.”
The two friends nodded as they went through and sat on the leather seats, Suzanne carrying the plate of cakes through first, then returning to the kitchen before she carried a second tray through with the coffee pot, cups, cream and sugar.
“I would say shall I play mother,” she said as she set the tray down on the coffee table, the other two giggling as she started to pour the coffee.
“So,” Eleanor said as she sat back, the saucer in one hand and the cup in another, “the Christmas party. Has the Reverend agreed to come as Santa Claus again?”
“He has,” Suzanne said, “and Wendy is coming round in a little while with Helen to discuss the present list, make sure we get the right thing for the right child.”
“Good,” Angel said, “refreshments?”
“Mrs Brown has the Women’s Prayer Circle working on that,” Suzanne said as she looked at the tray. “Oh dear – I forgot to bring extra spoons. I’ll be right back.”
Standing up, she brushed some lint from her dress and then walked into the kitchen, opening a drawer and taking out some teaspoons. As she did so, she felt a slight breeze on her face, and turned to see the kitchen door was slightly open.
“Now how did that happen,” she said quietly as she walked over – and then saw the lock had been forced. That was the moment she was grabbed from behind, a rough hand clamped over her mouth as a voice said “not a word, little lady – I just need a place to lay low for a few hours, grab some food, a change of clothing – and I think this is just the place. I saw the stuff in the garden – married, young kids, right?”
“Hmbgdddd – ruthscpdprssnnrr?”
“Never mind who I am – is there anyone else in the house?”
Suzanne slowly nodded as the man said “all right – do exactly what I tell you, all right? Have you got any rope or twine?”
As she nodded again, the hand was taken away as he said “not a word – find it and bring it to me here.” Suzanne nodded as she went to the store cupboard, and took out a large ball of butcher’s twine, then turned. He was taller than her, unshaven, and it was obvious he had been living rough. He also had her carving knife in his hand as he said “Give it to me.” She handed it over, watching as he held it and then said “walk in front of me, into the same room as the other people here. Do not raise the alarm, do not try to escape – I will use this knife if I have to.”
Nodding, Suzanne walked slowly into the front room, Angel looking up and saying “we were about to…”
“Don’t say a word,” the man said as he came in, pointing the knife at both Angel and Eleanor. “Sit still, hands on your heads, and only do what I tell you to do, understand?”
“We understand,” Eleanor said quietly as she placed her hands palm down on her head, Angel following suit.
“Sit there, hands on your head as well,” the man said as he pushed Suzanne to a chair opposite the other two, putting the knife down where everyone could see it and he could reach it. Taking the twine, he made a loop in the end, and then said to Angel “cross your wrists on your lap.”
“I need to make sure you two stay here – and I won’t ask again.”
“Please, Angel,” Suzanne said, her friend nodding as she crossed her wrists, watching as the man slipped the end over both wrists and then pulled tight, forcing them together before he took the twine around and between them. He then pulled down, making her skirt sink between her legs before he lifted her legs and secured her ankles together, again wrapping the twine around and between her limbs before he used the knife to cut an end off, and secured it with a clove hitch.
“Your turn,” he said as he looked at Eleanor, smiling as he made another loop in the twine. She was soon secured in the same way, the thin twine biting into her ankles and wrists as she tried to move.
“Right then,” the man said as he picked up two napkins, and stuffed them into the mouths of Angel and Eleanor, “you are going to go and cook me something to eat, while your friends stay here and do not move – if they do, you get hurt. You both get the message?”
Looking at each other, they nodded as he grabbed Suzanne by the arm and frig marched her to the kitchen. “Remember – no funny tricks,” he said as she found some bacon and sausages, and started to cook them.
“What ae you going to do to us,” Suzanne said as she sat at the table, watching the escaped convict as he wolfed down the food and the large mug of tea she had made.
“I’ll sort that out in a little while, once I…”
The sound of the doorbell made Suzanne hump as he got up, picked up the knife and grabbed her.
“Are you expecting anyone else?”
“Yes – the Vicar’s wife and the head of the Sunday school. We were going to discuss presents for a Christmas party…”
“Damn,” he said quietly as he grabbed two things from a laundry basket “all right, come with me.”
He made Suzanne stand and walk into the hallway, stopping as he looked in at Angel and Eleanor. “If either of you makes a sound, she dies,” he snarled, the two women nodding as he walked Suzanne to the door. “Let them in, and not a word,” he said quietly as he stood to the side, Suzanne swallowing as she opened the door.
“Hello Suzanne,” Wendy said as she stood in the porch, “may we come in?” The vicar’s wife was wearing a black bomber jacket over a green knee length dress, a scarf around her neck, and cream coloured long leather boots. Helen, the Sunday school leader, had frizzed brown hair in contrast to Wendy’s carefully styled blonde bob. She had on a long brown coat over a camel coloured top and knee length skirt, her leather boots a glistening patent deep brown.
“Of course – you’ll have to take us as you find us,” Suzanne said as she stepped to the side, “we had a couple of callers earlier.”
“Really,” Helen said as they came in, and Suzanne closed the door, “what sort of ohmygodwhoareyou?”
Both women looked at the unkempt man as he held Suzanne, the knife in his hands as he said “never mind who I am – are you expecting anyone else?”
“No – I’m sorry he overpowered me and the others earlier…”
“IT’s all right,” Wendy said calmly, “we’ll do as you say.”
“Good – coats off and on the stands, then face the wall, and put your hands behind your backs.” He watched as the two new arrivals did that, and then stood with their hands behind them.”
“Are Angel and Eleanor all right, Suzanne?”
“Yes – he tied them up in the front room, and they have cloths in their mouths,” Susanne said as she watched him use one of the two stockings he had picked up to secure Wendy’s wrists tightly together behind her back, and then using the second one to bind Helen’s wrists. The thin material stretched over their bare wrists as they were held firmly together, and they were unable to move them as they twisted round.
“Come and have a look,” the man said as he pushed the three women into the front room.
“Hmmggsntuswll,” Angel said as she and Eleanor looked at Wendy and Helen, their wrists behind their back.
“Are you both all right,” Wendy asked, both of them nodding as the man said “Stay right there – I’m going to make sure you two friends are really comfortable together, and then you can come up and join them. You three – up the stairs, single file.”
They could only watch as he forced them to climb the staircase, opening doors and then forcing them into a spare bedroom.
“All right,” he said as he looked round, “both of you sit on the floor, back to back.”
“What are you going to do to us,” Wendy asked as they both sat down, trying not to trap the skirts of their dresses under themselves.
“Keep you both in here and keep you quiet,” the man said as he took the ball of twine, made a crude lasso and put it over both women, pulling hard as the twine forced them together below their chests. He then wound it round both women, taking it above and below their chests, forcing them more and more together before he cut and secured it. Cutting two shorter lengths off with the knife, he used them to cinch the bindings between their arms and bodies, making them even tighter.
“Just stay relaxed, Helen,” Wendy whispered, “and try not to panic.”
“You sound like this has happened to you before,” Suzanne said.
“It has – in Africa,” Wendy said as the man cut more twine, and used it to secure her ankles together, the thin cords sinking into the soft leather as he wound it around and between her legs. He then cut another length and used it to secure her legs together above her knees, gathering the skirt of her dress around her legs. She tried moving her legs, but all that happened was a squeaking noise as the leather boots rubbed against each other. Looking at Helen, she nodded as her friend’s legs were secured in the same way.
“Stay there,” he said as he stood up and dragged Suzanne from the room.
“He’s the escaped prisoner, the one on the news, isn’t he,” Helen whispered quietly.
“He is – the best thing we can do is accept what has happened, see what he decides to do next – and pray that is all he does,” Wendy said quietly as he came back in. Suzanne now had her wrists secured behind her back, and he had two large headscarves in his hand – headscarves he used to cleave gag both women, before he took Suzanne back out of the room. As he did this, Wendy saw the pair of tights that had been used to secure her wrists behind her back, the thin band around her waist made from the legs to keep them in place.
“Are you both all right,” Suzanne said as she was forced back into the front room, Angel and Eleanor nodding as the man made Suzanne sit down, and then cut the twine from their wrists and ankles – after he had used two more headscarves to force the napkins more into their mouths, tying them tightly round their heads.
“Stand up, turn round, and put your hands behind your backs.”
“Please, do as he says,” Suzanne said quietly, “he has Wendy and Helen already tied up in the spare bedroom.”
They both nodded as he took two more pairs of tights, and used them to secure their wrists behind their back, improvising belts with legs of the tights to make sure they stayed secured against their backs. Making them kneel down on the floor, he then used two more sets of tights to secure their ankles together, and then made them lie face down before using the legs again to place them both in a hogtie.
“Don’t move,” he growled as he took Suzanne out of the room, both Eleanor and Angel lying still as they heard footsteps going up the stairs, and then the sound of running water.
Suzanne could only watch from her position on the toilet seat as the prisoner washed himself in the shower, using her husband’s razor to remove his stubble. Her wrists were further secured to the pipe leading to the cistern tank above her, and a folded flannel had been pushed into her mouth. As she wriggled round, she was grateful it was at least a damp flannel – her mouth was dry enough as it was.
Eventually, the water stopped running, and a damp arm reached out to grab a towelling robe. As he stepped out, Suzanne could see he was much cleaner, shaved – almost handsome.
“Right,” he said as he untied her wrists, and helped her to stand up, “your bedroom.” He frog marched her into the master bedroom, looking in on Wendy and Helen as they sat on the floor of the spare bedroom, not moving. Once in the room, he said “sit on the bed,” before he went through the drawers, finding clean underwear and socks, then some of her husband’s clothes from the wardrobe. She watched as he dressed, and then knelt in front of her, using some more of her tights to secure her ankles tightly together. Helping her to lie on her side, he bent her legs back and secured them to her wrists with the legs, and then pulled the flannel from her mouth.
“I’m going to take some money and leave,” he said as he opened her first aid box, “someone will come and find you eventually.”
“Please, don’t leave me like…”
“Hush,” he said as he tore a strip of brown sticking plaster from the roll, and then pressed it firmly down over her lips, stopping her from talking as he took money from her purse, and then looked at her.
“Thanks,” he said as he walked out, stopping first in the spare bedroom and checking the bonds on the two women there. Satisfied, he walked down the stairs and checked on Angel and Eleanor, before walking out of the front door, turning up the collar of the jacket he had taken as he walked off.
“Hssefnllgn,” Eleanor said as she looked at Angel.
“Efnnkss – hhy?”
“Guddd,” she mumbled as she started to wriggle across the floor, her eyes fixed on Suzanne’s sewing basket which was placed next to a chair. Inside that basket would be a pair of scissors, and scissors were a tool she could use.
“Whtthhfufnd” Angel said as Eleanor turned herself round, looking over her shoulder as she managed to lift the lid on the basket and rummaged inside. Finding the scissors, she carefully took them out and opened the blades, looking over her shoulder as she started to saw at the tightly stretched nylons.
It seemed to take an eternity, but eventually she grunted as Angel saw her move her arms apart, then sit up and cut the tights from around her ankles. Reaching behind her head, she untied and removed the headscarf, then spat out the napkin before she said “oh lord – are you all right Angel?”
“Wllbwhnufrmm,” her friend said as she came over and cut her free. Removing the cloth from her own mouth, she said “the others?”
“I’ll go and look – you call the police.”
Angel nodded as they walked into the hallway, Eleanor walking quickly up the stairs as she looked at the phone wire hanging from the table, the socket broken on the wall. Walking out of the front door, she quickly made her way next door and banged on the front door.
“Please,” she said to the grey haired woman who opened the door, “I need to use your phone to call the police…”