Olive Polson was a forty three year old teacher who lived alone in a comfortable two bedroom cottage in a good suburb. She owned this property outright.
She was a slim, firmly built athletic woman, slightly above average height. An oval face, famed with straight black hair in a page boy cut, she smiled easily and was generally liked by the high school students she taught. She usually wore trimly fitting calf length skirts and well fitted blouses.
Olive had never married. She genuinely liked the company of men and had enjoyed a few relationships in the past though none had ever come to anything. A permanent companion was hoped for but this, she reflected ruefully, seemed less likely as time went on.
Her lifelong interest was music, particularly opera. Two years ago she had bought a state of the art CD player and since then had been carefully acquiring a disc collection of the operatic works she loved. She kept this on a polished wooden desk she had inherited from her mother in a corner of her otherwise sparsely furnished lounge room. Frequently she relaxed in the evening listening to the strains of operatic masters. More than anything in the world, she yearned for a partner who shared this passion.
Tonight was a cold early autumn evening. Olive had eaten her simple evening meal, washed up and tidied her neat eat-in kitchen. She considered how she would spend the evening. Watching something worthwhile on TV or perhaps listening to one of her favourite pieces. Something in the street outside her home attracted her attention. She walked down the hallway, switched on the front door light and stood on her verandah.
The commotion was about two hundred yards up the road. It was centred around a large and opulent residence which had been bought about a year ago by a man from the Middle East. No one knew what this man did for a living but neighbourhood speculation was rife. He was everything from a reclusive millionaire to a drug lord. Right now there were two police cars, lights flashing, parked in front of it. Uniformed men were hurrying everywhere.
It was already getting dark. Curious, Olive walked to her front gate, opened it and stood on the footpath staring up at this scene of activity. She saw a man moving towards her along the path. He was walking briskly but not over hurriedly. He appeared to want to get away from what was happening behind him.
One of the reasons for Olive’s effectiveness as a teacher was her readiness to talk in a friendly and cheerful manner to anyone. She opted to do this now. As the man drew almost level she asked pleasantly, “What’s happening up there?”
“Nothing,” he grunted without looking at her and would have passed quickly by, without another word. Except at that moment another police car, siren shrieking, sped by. The man at once stopped, turned swiftly and faced Olive with his back to the road. As if he did not want to be seen from the passing vehicle. Still inclined to be friendly, she laughed and said, “You act as if you don’t want to be noticed.”
Instantly, instinctively, she knew this was the wrong thing to say. This man obviously didn't want to be seen by the police. Her cheerful manner faded. Meanwhile the police car passed on and stopped at a road junction about a hundred and fifty yards away in the opposite direction to where their colleagues were. A man in uniform got out. Clearly there was going to be a police presence in this area for some time.
And Olive was left standing face to face with this man, who a short while before had been hurrying away from the scene. This enabled her to get a good look at him, despite the fading light.
He was about the same height and build as herself, perhaps slightly taller. Maybe even the same age. A thin face, pointed chin, possibly even a kindly expression. By now she was becoming more and more concerned about what was going on up the street. But at least she thought, he did not look like a brutalised thug. He wore a long sleeved, soft collared shirt and what appeared to be jeans.
He spoke. “Well Madam, the fact is I certainly don’t want to be noticed. And as to what’s happening up there, that’s a long story and the reality is that you, unfortunately, are now very much part of it.” He sounded well spoken, even polite. “And I further add that it’s imperative that I get off the street at once. And obviously the best place is that nice little cottage of yours behind you. I suggest you simply turn around, we both walk up the path, through your front door and close it behind us. Then we’ll further discuss the situation.”
“What?” exploded Olive. “Just what do you mean? What are you talking about?”
“I’m sorry Madam, but this is out of the hands of both of us. Please don’t make me use any more force than necessary.” Without further ado he seized her by the upper arms, spun her around, clamped one hand over her mouth and pinioned her arms with his other arm. There was no one in the street to see this in the growing darkness.
Olive was flabbergasted. He firmly propelled her up the pathway, onto the verandah and into her home. Once inside he closed and locked the front door, switched off the front door light and pushed her down the hallway. She could say nothing and felt he meant what he said when he spoke of silencing her by force.
The hall was in semi darkness but they could see where they were going. They passed an open double doorway. “This, I take it, is your lounge dining room Madam,” he said. “A good place for us to talk. If I take my hand away will you refrain from screaming?” Difficult as it was for her to move her head, Olive nodded. He removed his hand, turned, steered her into the lounge and switched on the light.
Olive turned and faced her captor. She was not a coward and looked him straight in the eye. He was about her own age, he even had an intellectual look. His shirt was clean and neatly pressed and his grey jeans looked expensive. And she was further reassured he addressed her as “Madam.” Hopefully not a criminal. She folded her arms, resolving as far as she could, to take a firm line with this man who had so forcibly come into her life.
“Well Sir, you’ve got some explaining to do. Just what is going on up there?” She nodded in the direction of the police presence, “And having brought me in here by force, what do you think you’re going to do?”
A faint smile appeared on his face. “That will take some explaining. Perhaps it’d be better if we sat down.” He pointed to her lounge a few feet away. A few seconds of silence and she nodded. They wordlessly seated themselves on comfortable cushions about a metre apart. “Well?” she said, her arms still folded.
He began. “That residence up your street contains some state of the art, high tech computer equipment. Capable of hacking on a national and even international scale. That place will be an investigated crime scene for days, weeks. And some very highly placed people indeed, world figures, will be very interested. Those uniformed men up there are not locals, they’re Federal Police.”
She was taken aback. “We all wondered about that Middle Eastern character who lived there. And tell me sir, just what is your role in all this?”
She was reassured to see his smile broaden. “Simply a courier. I was approaching on foot to pick up an item when the law arrived ahead of me. I just walked past as if I was a local out for a stroll. And would have strolled out of the area if you hadn’t spoken to me - and got a good look at me. And those police reinforcements hadn’t arrived when they did.”
“And so,” he concluded “There was nothing else for it but for me to get out of the street as quickly as I could. Which meant your house with its open front door. Which unfortunately meant taking you captive as well. Standing as you were at your front gate and looking at me so intently. I’m sorry but this is simply the luck of the game.”
“And now,” she said, “All this having taken place, what happens now? And what happens to me?”
He sighed. “Quite simple. I’ve got to get out of this area ASAP. My organisation can arrange it but they probably can’t do it quickly. And as to yourself, sadly but necessarily, I have to tie you up.”
“What,” Olive looked at him, “You’ll have to bind me? Gag me too perhaps? I don’t particularly like the idea of that.”
“I’m sorry. It can’t be helped,” he was an apologetic captor, “and the sooner we get it done the sooner my people can get me out of here. And the sooner you can get back to being an untroubled householder again. Stand up please.”
Olive by now realised she had lost control of the situation. This man was obviously stronger than her. Though not spiritually inclined, she wondered what role fate was playing in these events. She stood up.
She was led to her linen cupboard and invited to pick out her oldest and worn sheet. Asked if she wanted to use the toilet, she agreed and went in. The door was kept partly open. As she relieved herself her captor removed a wet face washer from the nearby bathroom.
"I think you’d be most comfortable tied up in your own bedroom,” he said. She nodded, picturing herself bound hand and foot on her new eiderdown. He led her down the hall.
Once inside the bedroom she was made to stand beside her neatly made double bed while he carefully tore the sheet into strips. Firstly, her wrists were crossed behind her back and secured by several windings of one of the wider pieces. A solid reef knot held this in place. Next her arms were lashed to her sides by several lengths both above and below her bust. Which had the effect of causing it to stand out firmly and stiffly. Lastly, one of the longer pieces was wound around her trim waist, securing her forearms. He bound neatly and took care not to twist the sheeting. Olive’s upper body was beginning to look like a well wrapped mummy.
“And now if you’ll just sit on the bed,” he invited, “I’ll finish this off.” She sat and he knelt beside her, crossed her ankles and looped one of the longer pieces around them many times before knotting it. Finally he lifted her skirt and tightly bound her legs above the knees. “There,” he said, leaning back on his heels and looking at her, “Like a well wrapped little birthday package. Just waiting to be opened." She looked at him scathingly.
“Another thing.” He took one of the last strips of sheet, wound it around her already tied ankles and then lashed it to one of the legs of the bed. “Just to stop you hopping around the room when I’m not here. And attracting attention from the window.”
He stood up. “Oh, the final touch.” He reached for the damp face washer and began to fold it into a wad.
She realised at once what he was doing and responded. “There’s no need to gag me. I’m not hysterical. You haven’t heard me scream while you’ve been here, have you?”
“Indeed I haven’t. It’s what you might do when I’m not here that I’m concerned about. Open your pretty mouth.” She tried to keep her lips clamped shut but he forced it in, bedded it as comfortably as possible and made sure it stayed there by tying the last short piece of torn sheet across the lower part of her face and knotting it at the back of her neck.
“At last,” he said, stepping back and admiring his work. “Bound and gagged and looking as pretty as a picture.” She glared at him.
He turned toward the door. “My next move is to make a call on your telephone. The sooner my people get me out of here, the sooner you’ll be freed and can go back to being as you were.” With that he left the room. Leaving Olive Polson tightly bound, gagged and quite helpless in her own bedroom.
He was gone for some time. At first she heard the faint sound of his voice, then silence. He did not reappear and she wondered what he was doing. Then with surprise she heard music. He had activated her CD player and was playing one of her compact discs.
It was Verdi’s “Aida,” one of her favourite pieces. What on earth did he think he was doing?
It ran for about twenty minutes, then silence. He returned, untied her gag and removed the wad from her mouth. But by way of explanation he said “I found a piece I like among your CD’s and took the liberty of playing it. It’s one I enjoy.”
She looked levelly at him, “It’s one of my favourites too."
“Perhaps we could both enjoy the rest of it?” She was surprised and after some hesitation, nodded. Whereupon he knelt, untied her legs, lifted her onto her feet and led her into the lounge.
Seated on the lounge with her arms still bound, she watched as he reinserted the disc and they both listened to the remainder of the aria. Silence for a while and then they discussed the star crossed love of Aida and Radames. Each discovered the other was quite knowledgeable about Giuseppe Verdi.
Olive was nonplussed. For years she had been hoping to meet a companion who shared her interest in the operatic arts as this man obviously did. He hadn’t existed in middle class suburbia where she lived. And now, when he finally turned up, she found him to be a cyber criminal. At least that was what she thought him to be. Really, she felt, fortune wasn’t fair at all.
But, she now resolved, she was going to play out this strange hand fate had dealt her. She didn’t even know how long she and her captor would be together. She’d find that out for a start.
“You used my telephone to get these people of yours to come and pick you up. When will they do that?”
He looked wretchedly apologetic. “They can’t get here before tomorrow morning. I thought they’d do better than that.”
Olive’s mind raced ahead. She was now determined to use this strange situation she found herself in to her own best advantage. Her talking to this man about Verdi had also revealed he was of an informed, sensitive, caring turn of mind. Not the usual concept of a common thug.
The picture of him being here in her household until morning was unexpected and challenging. How was she to spend the long hours they would be together? Tied up, gagged and locked in a wardrobe? That’s what an ordinary criminal might have done but she now felt he was not that. And anyway, she decided, she deserved better than that.
“So that means we’ve got about twelve hours in each other’s company. How am I to spend it? Bound and gagged and locked in a closet somewhere?” He looked at her with a grimace of distaste and shook his head. She had guessed rightly in assuming his gentlemanly attributes.
She went on, taking the bull by the horns. “I’ll tell you now. I’m a teacher by occupation. I’ve lived alone most of my adult life. I’ve had a few delightful relationships, and enjoyed them. But in recent times it's been a solitary existence.” A faint smile, "A long time between drinks one might say.” She looked at him seriously, ”Is there a lady in your life at the moment?”
Startled, he stared at her and again shook his head, “No. No, there isn’t.” The vestige of a smile on his own face, ”And it’s a long time between drinks for me too.”
She continued. Nothing was going to stop her. “Well then. Might I suggest we spend the night in my bed?” She went on, “If you’re worried I might abscond while you’re sleeping the sleep of the weary might I suggest this. There’s a length of light chain and two locks in the laundry. You could attach one end to the bed footboard and the other to one of my ankles if you like. Just so you could keep an eye on me.” Another smile.
“I don’t think it’ll come to that,” he said, seriously.
“OK then,” wrists and arms still bound, she stood up suddenly and looked him in the face. “Perhaps it’s time we had a drink?”
“Perhaps it is.” He stood up and guided her into the bedroom.
Here he untied her bonds and carefully placed the strips on the bedside table. Good, she mused, he’s tidy. Another virtue in his favour.
They stood together at the side of the bed. Wordlessly, they both sat down, removed their footwear and placed it carefully under the edge. Equally quietly they stood again and began to undress, putting their clothing neatly on her chest of drawers. Finally both were naked.
For several seconds they faced each other. And then quietly embraced. Olive moaned, “It’s been a long, long time for me. You will be gentle, won’t you?”
“I wouldn’t be anything else.”
She turned, pulled back the top covers and slid soundlessly between the sheets. Already her love orifice was moistening. He waited a short while, then slipped in beside her, his member stiffening rigidly. They lay, side by side not speaking a word for a few minutes. And then he turned, faced her briefly, kissed her lightly on the lips and began to caress her. Then with one swift, dextrous movement mounted and deftly entered her. Eyes closed, she moaned with fulfilment, “Oh darling, darling, it’s been so, soo long.”
The next hour was pure bliss and ecstasy.
Two hours later they were both back in the lounge room. The male visitor was fully dressed, except for his shoes. Olive was snugly wrapped in a fluffy dressing gown, tightly sash belted at the waist. She wore a pair of lambswool slippers. They were sipping coffee and listening to a very good recording of part of “The Magic Flute.” Mozart was another old master they shared a liking for. And then the front doorbell rang.
They both went to answer it. Olive switched on the front door light. Her companion stood to the left where he would be shielded by the open door. And then she opened it.
Three policemen stood on the verandah. Two right in front of the doorway, the third about two feet behind them. They explained they were making house to house enquiries and wanted to know if she had seen any suspicious male characters in the neighbourhood in the last three hours.
“Well no,” Olive told them, “I haven’t been out all night. I’ve been quietly at home listening to music.” As if to confirm this some strains of the disc they were listening to wafted out onto the verandah. The two men looked at her closely.
The third smiled at her over their shoulders. “Mozart, isn’t it? The Magic Flute?”
“Why, yes it is. You know your music.”
“I appreciate opera,” he acknowledged. The two in front then decided they had other houses in the area to check. After a brief admonition to keep an eye out and report any strangers, all three withdrew. Olive locked the door and switched off the light.
“Imagine,” she told her companion who had heard this exchange, “even the police enjoy Mozart.”
Morning came. And with it rain. Olive and her visitor had breakfast in the kitchen. She was wearing a tasteful, long sleeved white blouse and neat blue slacks. The man was dressed as he was the night before, except he was in his socks. The two had just finished washing up when there was a discreet knock at the side door. They both went to answer it.
The door was opened to a firmly built woman in her early forties. She had a broad face, a solid chin with a friendly look. She wore a smart belted beige trench coat, buttoned to the throat with a snugly fitting rain hat of the same material. A shopping carry bag hung from one shoulder.
This was Beryl, come to take away the unexpected visitor of the night before. The man stepped forward to make introductions. He avoided the use of names. Beryl, he said, was an old friend who had come to courier him away from this locality. Olive was described as a very gracious lady who had kindly sheltered him for the night. To further emphasise this he placed one hand on her shoulder. Both ladies looked at each other, and smiled.
Beryl spoke first. “There’s certainly a hive of activity up the road. Federals everywhere. The sooner you’re out of here the better.” She went on to say she was parked in a parking lot near a small shopping centre in a parallel street to this. She had reached Olive’s home through a walkway linking the two. “Any single man walking around in this area would be stopped and questioned. And there’s plenty of them to do it.”
She went on. “So it'd be better if we walked away from here together. They’d be less likely to stop a couple.”
Olive spoke. “They’d be even less suspicious of three. After all, they’re looking for a single male courier who somehow dropped out of sight last night. We could be a local couple, on our way to the shops for the week’s groceries. And you,” she smiled, “Could be a neighbourhood lady on her way to the library who chose to accompany us.”
Beryl smiled as well, “I quite agree three would be better than two.” Then she was serious, “Of course you realise this makes you an accessory?”
“I’m already an accessory.”
“Well then,” said Beryl, “The sooner we’re on our way the better. This rain’s setting in. Have we got wet weather gear?”
Olive said to the male, “I’ve got an old hooded rain jacket you can wear. And I’ll wear my raincoat. Not as stylish as yours”, this to Beryl, “but it’ll keep the rain out.”
“Right,” said Beryl. And then to the man, “You'd better go and put your shoes on. And is there anything else here we should gather up?” He mentioned the cloth strips used to bind Olive, still on the bedside table. “Get them too,” she tossed him her shopping bag, “We can’t leave anything incriminating behind.” He took it and left.
Beryl turned to Olive. “So he tied you up, did he? And gagged you as well?”
“He did at first, but he was considerate about it. And gentle. That's what made me change my mind about him. He was anything but an ordinary thug.” She paused, “And since then we’ve come to an arrangement. We have a few things in common that the world doesn’t share.”
“Indeed. Well I’m glad to hear that.” Beryl moved closer. “He's not a thug. He may have said he was a courier but he’s one of the most important men in our organisation. He’s one of the three best people in this country in his field of specialised computerisation.” Olive nodded. She had suspected something like this.
“And when we’ve gone, will you report this?”
Olive smiled, “What’s there to report? It was one of the happiest nights of my life.”
At that moment the man returned, shoes on and carry bag full. “Ready to go,” he cocked an ear to the rain outside, “We’ll need that wet weather gear.”
Olive led the way to her laundry. She handed the man a rolled up waterproof jacket from a shelf then took her old blue raincoat from a peg beside the door and began to put it on. The stiff waterproof fabric rustled as she buttoned it up. Beryl watched as they garbed themselves against the elements outside.
Finally they stood before her, dressed for the worst the weather could offer. Beryl exuded jocularity, “You certainly look like the average suburban couple. She laughed. "How’d you get together? Who introduced you?”
Seriously, the man said, “Giuseppe Verdi introduced us.” And Olive agreed.