Depredation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
It's a crime story with romance and a twist in the tale...

Submitted: May 28, 2013

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Submitted: May 28, 2013

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Alice sat neatly down at the kitchen table of her 3 bedroom semi-detached in the suburbs of London. The burglar slouched at the other end of the vinyl kitchen table.

How did she know he slouched, she wondered. After all, the grey packing tape that blindfolded her excluded even the slightest chink of light. But she did.

If light had been able to pass the tape, it would have fallen on blue eyes that glinted icily. Every corpuscle of Alice was angry. Her rage seared like a symphony through her arteries. The hammer beats of her heart crashed like cymbals in her ears as she strained for evidence of what was happening in the seeing world around her.

The day had started badly - then it had got worse. It had begun with John her husband, a slight, dapper man in his forties - grey suit, pale tie and condescension. Her anger against the burglars momentarily redirected itself back to her husband. She had been idly turning the pages of the free newspaper while she waited for him to come down for breakfast. When he did, he found her perusing an advertisement for a new shop in the high street two blocks away.

\"My secretary was in there yesterday. Bought a present for her boyfriend to spice up a night in. Not up your street at all, my dear, far too risqué I'm sure.\"

Alice had tensed, directed a look in his direction that anyone but a completely insensitive, thick skinned male would have comprehended as extreme displeasure, primped her hair, smiled one of her sweetest smiles and deftly placed his breakfast in front of him. Over him would have been better - but that would have been a waste and Alice hated waste even more than assumptions about the liberality of her shopping habits.

When the elderly neighbour from next door had asked her to get her prescription from the chemist, Alice had deliberately walked past the new shop although it meant going round the village green the long way. The shop was tasteful, she had to admit. It didn't look sleazy and it didn't seem to be bulging at the seams with old men in crumpled raincoats.

The mission to the chemist was successful and she returned the long way round to have another look. On arriving home, the first indication that all was not normal came when she made to close the front door. A strong draught through the lounge pushed it shut with a bang. Had she left the back door open? She was certain not. Could her husband have returned. Most unlikely. Like Alice he was a creature of habit. The office would keep his attention until the due time and then he would return in the early evening to a tea Alice would have timed to the minute.

The second was the strong hand that clamped itself over her eyes. The third was the cold steel that pressed sharply against her jugular.

\"You wouldn't want blood over that nice blouse would you. Keep quiet and you won't be hurt\" The gruff voice was harsh and determined. The arm that obviously went with the voice bound her arms to her side like a band of steel. The slimline dark knee length skirt she wore nearly made her fall as he manhandled her into the lounge.

Another voice, higher, younger, perhaps just a boy, swore briefly. Obviously they hadn't been expecting her back. The draught was stronger here and a gust rattled the window and brought another portion of the back window down onto the television top with a crash. The realisation of their onslaught on her house moved Alice's emotions rapidly from surprise, through fear to the deepest and coldest rage she had ever experienced.

Icy cool, she forced herself to relax and cease resisting. The arm around her eased a little too.

\"What do you want.\"

\"Just a bit of business - you'll get it back from the insurance. We don't want to hurt you - just get in, get out and make a profit. Co-operate and you won't get hurt.\"

\"There's no cash in her handbag,\" observed the younger voice.

The grip around her tightened.

\"Where's your cash kept?\"

\"There isn't any - well just a few coins - change I've been storing for the charity when they come round.\"

\"You're lying!\"

The arm drove the breath from her body. She gritted her teeth determined not to cry out.

\"You've already looked so why do you say I'm lying. I can't give you what I haven't got.\"

\"Her bags got a cheque book in it - phew, loads of money in there.\" The younger voice had a south London twang, maybe a trace of cockney. There was the sound of riffled cheque stubs.

\"What! You think she's going to write us a cheque? Queried the gruff voice sarcastically.

The younger voice continued. She could write a cheque, I could go and cash it while you keep her entertained here.

\"Now there's a thought you wouldn't have had before that last stretch - learned quite a bit didn't you!\"

Alice wondered through her teeming emotions whether she could detect pride.

\"Networking!\" The younger voice continued with satisfaction. \"Nothing better and no better place for it.\"

The cheque was written in the kitchen with her stomach pressed hard against the work top to stop her turning around and with the knife at her throat. She wondered if the fact it emptied the account would be queried by the Bank but doubted it.

The tape, discovered in the utility room with a whoop had then been wrapped round her eyes. At least she had the use of her arms again. She knew the layout of the kitchen exactly. Everything would be in its place, unless they had moved it, neat and tidy.

\"Would you like a cup of tea while we wait? Gruff voice had released her once the tape was over her eyes. \"I was just going to have one when you - so rudely - interrupted me.\"

\"Just don't blame me if you scald yourself and no funny business or - put it this way - you'll be gutted!\" He stabbed the knife into the table top and laughed callously. It was a long drawn out snigger. The chair creaked under his heavy body. The situation had stabilised, he was in control and was looking forward to the cashed cheque.

\"Is your tea all right?\" queried Alice after a few minutes of slurping silence.

\"Just the way I like it, stewed!\"

\"Did you also learn that at the same place as your friend?\"

\"Maybe I did and maybe I didn't.\" Caution had entered his voice - a cunning that grew from long experience of living with ulterior motives and deceit.

\"If you kill me, you will probably die too,\" said Alice levelly.

He sneered - but there was a tension in his voice. She could feel him leaning forward.

Ice flowed like torrents in her veins - the most important thing in her life - ever - was how she spoke her next words.

She didn't have to. There was the sound of his chair being pushed back, the thump of his feet towards the downstairs cloakroom and then the sound of him being immediately and violently sick.

\"What the hell did you put in that tea,\" he snarled as he re-entered the kitchen moments later.

\"The whole of the contents of my neighbours prescription,\" smiled Alice sweetly. She had taken off the tape and was observing him minutely and contemptuously, like a specimen.

Then her expression changed and her blue eyes glinted savagely.

\"I haven't the faintest idea what's in it but it but I believe that it thins her blood - or something. You're probably a lot better with it out of your system or it would be thinning your blood now as it does to many other rats in similar doses.\"

\"You're completely out of your mind - if you think I'm going to let you get off Scot free doing that to me. \" He was a thick set man in his early thirties with black stringy hair, a dark patterned jumper and scruffy baggy jeans. He advanced menacingly.

\"I'm going to teach you a lesson!\"

\"On the contrary,\" said Alice coolly, \"it is I who am going to teach you!\"

He stopped in his tracks. The gun, grey squat and chunky in her small hand was pointing unwaveringly at his groin.

Move a step further and I will blow your brains out - you do keep your brains down there don't you.\"

His moustache bristled on his upper lip and the rest of his face paled.

\"I should also add that I am the President of the local Women's Hand Gun Club - and I was a regional finalist last year.\"

\"Different to shoot a target than a person,\" he levelled at her cautiously, through gritted teeth.

The plate on the wall by his head disintegrated.

\"Not if you're really angry and do not give a single fig for the person you're pointing the gun at.\" Replied Alice. \"Do you know, I really hated breaking that plate. It was my favourite. I loved it just as I love this house and just as much as I loathe you. So do me a favour and try your luck.\"

The gun had returned to point to his groin and he was now standing very, very still.

\"Or,\" she was standing now, her one hand going through her shopping bag, \"you can put these on.

The handcuffs clanked on the kitchen table.

\"Now!\" Her voice was glacial and with no remorse. \"Do it!\"

It was now early evening and for Alice it had been a busy day. She was feeling more relaxed now and back on an even keel. The late afternoon shower had helped and, pampered and sweet smelling, she was looking forward to the return of his Highness, Mr Condescending. Tea would be ready on time as always.

She gazed at herself in the full length mirror. Gone now the slimline skirt and the blouse. The new dress hung in soft creamy alluring folds, clinging to her slight body in all the right places. If she stood against the light, she knew her underclothes would be visible, skimpy as they were.

Her anger against the burglars was over. Which meant she could get on with being cross with her husband again and his remarks at the beginning of the day about 'risqué' and his young secretary.

It was convenient her plans for the evening had also provided such a good solution for the burglars. When the police had come to take them away and had replaced Alice's handcuffs for official ones, the Sergeant had looked at her suspiciously. Alice had given him her most demure of smiles.

\"The trouble is, madam,\" had said the Sergeant, \"with good behaviour, they'll be out again in a month, if they go in at all. It's not much of a punishment for the distress to you.\"

Alice smiled again even more sweetly as the memory of the red haired woman's tear stained face and the man's extremely red one as they were taken away. The thought drifted satisfyingly to the back of her mind.

She reached up to the back of the bedroom door where the bag from the new local shop was hanging. In the bag lay the handcuffs. They would need cleaning and sterilising since she was expecting to be using them again later.

Mr Condescending indeed.

The same sterilisation would be needed for the other article she had bought from the same shop and which had been the cause of the burglars tears and very red face. It too was hung behind the bedroom door by its curved handle in readiness.

A very thin, supple, willow wood cane.

\"Such a very neat and tidy solution,\" thought Alice, happily.

The End


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