It was late afternoon of a wintry day and Claudia Schipp was walking home along a quiet street in an area that might be described as comfortable middle class. She lived in a two bedroom cottage here and had done so for the last eight years.
Claudia was thirty five, trained originally in accountancy but was now working in a local library. She was of average height with a slim healthy figure. She had an oval face, framed by short, straight brown hair and was considered pleasant looking though not dazzlingly beautiful. She wore dark rimmed glasses.
She had never married, though she had been engaged three times. Each time she had thought these proposed unions would not have worked out and so broken them off. Claudia was a sensible, practical woman. She had had affairs since but nothing had come of them. At present there was no man in her life and there were times when she wondered ruefully if there was ever going to be.
And now she was making her way home from work, wearing a thick winter skirt and a warm woollen sweater. Because the weather had looked threatening she had put on an old fashioned rubber rain jacket tightly belted at the waist. A pair of black calf length boots completed the picture.
She reached her cottage as the last of the daylight was fading. Up the path, across the wooden porch, Claudia unlocked her front door, reached inside and put on the hall light. She was just entering when she realised she was not alone. A man had come up the pathway behind her and was standing at the edge of the veranda.
Claudia was a firm, resolute woman and not alarmed. She occasionally had local business callers, though rarely as late as this. And here, they were in full view of the street. She faced this newcomer and spoke firmly and clearly. “Who are you? Do you want to see me about something?”
The man smiled. He was about her own age, thin and with a narrow face. He wore a zipped up winter jacket, dark trousers and a cloth cap. He had a large carry bag slung over one shoulder.
He walked towards her. “Yes Mrs Bardon, there is something I want to see you about. But it shouldn’t take long.”
The name settled it. He'd made a mistake. The Bardons, a wealthy retired couple, lived two doors up. Elias Bardon was known as a collector of objects of art.
Claudia relaxed. She’d send this man on his way and then get her dinner. She paused, looked at the visitor and said,“You’ve come to the wrong house and...” when she realised he was standing almost beside her.
“I don’t think so, Mrs Bardon,” he interrupted and reached inside his shoulder bag. With amazing swiftness and dexterity he took out a dampened, folded wad of cloth and thrust it between Claudia’s still open lips. It effectively filled her mouth and completely deprived her of speech. In an instant she had been gagged.
“Mmphhh,” she mewed and raised her arms to get this impediment out of her mouth and push this obviously hostile intruder away before he could do anything more.
He was ready for this and seized her rain coated arms, forced them down, spun her around and forced her into her house. Once inside he pushed the door closed with his heel and heard the lock click. He then pinioned her arms and marched her down the already lit hall. Because of the lateness of the hour nobody was on the street and the gathering darkness made it difficult to see anything. Claudia had been overpowered, gagged and made captive on her own doorstep and no one had seen a thing.
He stopped outside the door to her bedroom and held her firmly from behind while she struggled futilely. Clearly he was stronger than her and possibly used to subduing captives. The only sound was the rustling of the rubberised material of her rain jacket as she tried to get free. He spoke gently in her ear.
“You can’t get away,” he began, “and, I’m sorry but it’s necessary to tie you up, Mrs Bardon. It’ll be a lot easier for both of us if you just let me do that. I certainly don’t want to have to do anything drastic. Nod your head if you understand.” After a few seconds of consideration she reluctantly nodded.
Claudia’s mind was racing. Clearly he thought he was in the Bardon household, not realising it was two doors away. It contained many valuable art treasures which he, as a thief, or burglar, or whatever he was, no doubt wanted. If she wasn’t so securely gagged she’d have gladly told him this, and hope he’d go on his way.
He pushed her inside her bedroom. It was simply furnished. Besides the bed there was a plain wooden chest of drawers and in the corner a small writing table and chair alongside a steel filing cabinet.
Claudia’s bed was a double, though she herself was single. In her humorous moments she jokingly said it was for entertainment purposes. Though she had reflected there had been little entertaining of late.
Her captor made her stand beside it and, taking prepared lengths of soft white rope out of his carry bag, began to tie her up. He bound her crossed wrists firmly behind her back. Next he lashed her arms to her sides, both below and above her breasts, cinching them tightly. The rubberised fabric of her rain jacket whispered and crackled.
He made her sit on the bed itself. Kneeling before her, he bound her thighs several times above the knees, then firmly tied her ankles. The leather of her boots creaked as the knots were pulled tight. Lastly, he secured her bound ankles to one of the bed’s corner supports. “Just to stop you moving around,” he explained.
Finally he produced a roll of duct tape for his bag; tearing off a short length he pressed it firmly across the lower part of her face. He smiled, “We don’t want you pushing your gag out, do we?” She glared at him. Obligingly, he straightened her glasses which had been knocked askew during her capture.
In the fifteen minutes since she’d seen her visitor, Claudia had been overpowered, bound and gagged and was now a prisoner in her own bedroom.
He stepped back. “I’ll leave you alone for a short time while I check out this house of yours,” he said, before leaving the room.
Claudia writhed and strained against her bonds but could do nothing. The only noises she could make were mewing into her gag, and the rustling of her rain jacket as she struggled ineffectually.
Ten minutes later her captor was back. He looked worried. His first move was to detach one side of the duct tape and leave it dangling against her face. He firmly but carefully eased the gag out of her mouth. “Now please listen Mrs Bardon,” he began, “there’s something I want to ask you.”
Claudia had had enough. “No. You listen to me. This is not the Bardon household. They live at number eighty-eight. This is number eighty-four. There are two letters on that desk over there with my name and number eighty-four on them.
“Furthermore, they’re a wealthy couple with a large house full of art treasures, which, I assume is what you want anyway. You’ve had a chance to look over my home. Does it look like the residence of a rich art collector? It’s not big enough, for a start.”
He said nothing but retained the serious look on his face. She got the impression he had already come to this conclusion himself.
“And if you want any more proof,” she went on, “look in the telephone directory in the phone alcove out in the hall. Elias and Celeste Bardon. Number eighty-eight. I repeat, this is number eighty-four. You’ve come to the wrong place.”
Finally he spoke. “A telephone you say? Well then, I think it’s time I made a call. To check something out. But,” he said, holding up the damp wad, “I’ll have to gag you again while I do that. I’m sorry.” This last remark was unexpected.
“Just do something,” she said before he could silence her, “and get your act together. I thought you people were better organised than this.” She surprised herself with this remark, but hadn’t been able to resist. Without further ado he pushed the gag back into her mouth and pulled the hanging tape over it.
He was several minutes out in the hall with the telephone. She could hear his voice raised several times. He sounded unhappy. She remained bound, gagged and seated on the bed, wondering what he was finding out.
He came back, pulled the chair away from the corner table and sat in it facing her. Reaching over, he again removed the gag from her mouth. He looked so chastened she almost felt like laughing. “Alright, alright, so there's been a mistake. This is the wrong address. But it wasn’t my people, it was the others. How could they have been as slipshod as this? It’s unbelievable.”
She refrained from crowing. With the faintest hint of what might have been a sympathetic smile, she spoke. “Perhaps there’s more to it than that. Did you know the Bardons are away at the moment? Visiting family down south? And it’s well known around here that whenever they go away Elias Bardon always has his most valuable pieces crated up and sent to City Security for safe keeping. Can’t let art worth millions lie around in an empty house, can they?
“And another thing. There’s a neighbourhood rumour going around that they’ve fallen on difficult financial times and Elias has had to sell some of his best pieces. Whatever you were sent out for may not be in his ownership any more.”
He looked at her blankly. “No, I didn't know any of that,” he paused, "but if it’s true I certainly should’ve been told. Somebody hasn’t done their homework.”
Claudia, almost felt sympathetic. And then nearly laughed at the absurd irony of it all. This man had invaded her home, taken her captive, bound and gagged her and now she felt almost sorry because he had not been able to do a skilled job he obviously took pride in.
“Perhaps you’re thinking of going up to the Bardons’ and breaking in anyway. Well, I assure you they went away three days ago and all their goodies are safely away in City Security’s strongrooms.” He nodded glumly.
“So what’re you going to do? Gag me again and rob my home?”
He managed a faint smile. “With all due respect, your household isn’t worth robbing.”
She laughed, “You’re probably right.”
He stood up and looked around her bedroom. His gaze fell on her writing desk and filing cabinet. “You write a lot of letters, personal letters?” he asked. She nodded, which earned a smile. “Not the lonely hearts I trust?”
“I have, on occasion,” she felt she could be honest here. This man would go out of her life soon and she’d never see him again.
He warned, “Be careful there. A lot of misfits and losers amongst them.”
“Don’t I know it.”
He looked directly at her as she sat bound on the bed. “You’ve never married, have you?”
“No.” Once again she felt she had nothing to lose by being honest. “Been engaged three times but always felt it wouldn’t have worked and so I broke it off.” A faint smile. ”Foolishly perhaps. Maybe I should have taken a chance on one of them.”
“Not necessarily so. You were there at the time and in the best position to judge. You most certainly did the right thing.”
She looked up at him. He seemed quite decent in some ways and she felt she could talk to him. “And yourself? Any lady in your life?” She did not really expect an answer to this.
“At the moment, no. There have been relationships in the past, very satisfactory relationships, the memories of which I treasure.” He laughed, “perhaps it’s the occupation I’m in at the moment.”
“And what is your occupation? Professional thief?”
Again he laughed, “Some might call it that. Let’s say it’s theft to order. In tonight’s case it was a very valuable item owned by Elias Bardon. A gold communion cup exquisitely crafted for Mother Church in France in the early 14th Century. Worth hundreds of thousands. But sadly,” he laughed again. “If what you’ve told me is correct it most likely isn’t there anymore. Anyway, let’s say I work for an organisation. A largely respectable one, despite what you might think. If it makes you any happier I’m getting out of the theft side of it. It is, like tonight, rather unpredictable.
“And to change the subject somewhat. Your occupation. You’re a librarian aren’t you? Never married you say? I’d say we’re both about the same age and though you might not entirely agree we probably have a few things in common.” He walked around the room and then faced her and asked, “That old fashioned black rubber rain jacket you’re wearing. Where’d you get it?”
She looked down at the item of rainwear in question now laced with the white rope he had used to tie her up. “From my mother. She died about seven years ago. She must have bought it long ago, back when such raincoats were in use. She never used it much and when she went it passed on to me. It doesn’t matter that these rubber coats aren’t used any more. It keeps the rain out. I wear it from time to time. Like days like today.”
He spoke gently, “You know smooth, shiny black is a turn on for some men, don’t you?”
She smiled, “Ask any girl who’s ever worn a black satin evening dress. Why, does it turn you on?”
He didn’t answer but continued to pace the room. Finally he turned to face her.
“How long is it since you’ve had a really satisfying love experience?”
“So far back I can’t remember. Years.” She looked quizzically at him. “Why? Are you thinking of giving me one now?”
“Er, well I…”
“Come on,” she said, sitting up on the bed, her rain jacket creaking faintly, “this has been a wasted evening for both of us. You came here with incorrect and incomplete information and your mission failed utterly. That 14th Century communion cup probably isn’t in the locality, let alone the Bardon household.”
“And how’s it been a wasted evening for you?” he asked.
“Well, if you hadn’t appeared and bound and gagged me I’d have made my supper and then watched TV for a while or perhaps read a good book. Then I’d have made a cup of chocolate and gone to bed and got a refreshing night’s sleep.”
He looked at her sharply, not sure whether she was speaking tongue-in-cheek or not.
“We’ve both missed out, shall we say. We’ve neither of us anything to lose. Why don’t you untie me and we’ll both try and have a good, decent fuck. I think we both deserve it, and certainly need it. I do anyway.”
“Well, ah…” For a man in the line of work he had come here to do he could be curiously hesitant on occasion.
“Oh, come on now,” she repeated, “if you don’t attempt I’ll be very displeased with you. So displeased I’ll give a full and accurate description of you to the authorities afterwards. Also details of the interest in the Bardons’ communion cup. That’ll no doubt please your precious organisation.”
He straightened up. “Well then. One should always try to please a lady. Certainly after such a gracious request. And I’m well aware of what hell hath no fury like. I shall do everything to rise to the occasion.” He knelt at once and began to untie her ankles.
Minutes later they stood together beside her bed. Smiling slightly she slipped off her rain jacket and placed it carefully on the wooden set of drawers. Then they both sat down and removed their footwear which they placed together on the floor. This done, they again stood and wordlessly began to undress. They put their removed clothing side by side on the chest of drawers. They both instinctively did this neatly.
“I like a man that’s tidy with his personal things,” she smiled.
“That’s not confined to femininity.”
They stood naked. Without a word they embraced and kissed. Then held each other firmly, “It’s been a long time for me,” she whispered.
“For me too,” was the response.
Seconds later they were between the sheets. Silently she removed a tube of lubricant from a drawer at the side of the bed head and wordlessly began to apply it to his member. He embraced and began to gently caress her. Neither had spoken a word. His digit swelled under her ministrations. Deftly, he turned her on her back and with one swift, gentle movement he mounted and penetrated her.
Her eyes closed, she began to moan wordlessly and then began to advise him. “Slowly now, oh so slowly, but deeply, deeply. As deep as you can." A louder moan and then, “De-light-ful. Oh, so de-light-ful.”
“Delighted to be of service, Madame,” was his comment.
Forty minutes later they both sat side by side on Claudia’s lounge in her sitting room. He wore shirt, trousers and his footwear. She wore nothing but her boots and rain jacket. Two cups of coffee stood on the small table in front of them, and together they sipped.
“I’d say we both got a great deal out of that,” was his comment.
“I think we did. One of the best I’ve ever had,” was the dreamy response, “is it worth following up?”
“I think so. If only to see if there’s anything of any permanency in it.”
They both smiled.