Part 3 ...... First night in captivity
The road trip went on for what seemed like hours to the boys but, in reality was only about half an hour. The destination was a former house, owned by Young, but unused for several years. It was miles out of Woodville in a secluded location a fair distance from the main highway and accessible only by a dirt track. On the way, the men had stopped at a restaurant to buy some pizza, burgers and several cans of Coke.
On arrival at the house, the men parked their van in an undercover garage. Their first action was the lug the heavy safe between them up a small flight of stairs into the main house. With the men absent for that short period of time, both boys struggled furiously to rid themselves of their bonds but with little success.
The men returned to the van and undid the hogtie ropes from each boy. Israel was the first to be carried up the stairs and was left in what was once a bedroom. Matthew had no chance of trying to run with his ankles crossed and tied as they were. He was also taken up into the bedroom.
The problem which now confronted the men was how the next three days would pan out. Their original plan was to simply take the money out of the safe at the hardware store and to tie up whoever was in the store, whether it was Mr. Barker or his son. They now had two teenage boys they would have to hold for three days before they could get whatever money was in the safe.
Sure, they could simply let the boys go now and scarper with the safe and its contents. They knew the code to open the safe, so why not do that? The only problem with that plan was, what if the boy had not told them the correct code. They would not then have their bargaining chips, i.e. the boys, and they could not open the safe.
No, they would have to hold the kids until they were sure that they could get the money they were after. They would then let the boys go, unharmed.
“What are we gonna do with these kids for three days?” mused Young out loud.
“We can’t keep ‘em tied up for all that time, can we?” Johnson answered Young’s rhetorical question.
“Why not? It’ll keep the brats out of our hair ‘till we get the money. We can’t take the risk of them escaping and blabbing to the cops before we get outa this place.”
Johnson took a more humane view. “But Arnie, the kids have gotta eat and drink and go to the toilet and stuff. We don’t want ‘em dying on us, do we?”
“OK, OK, I get the message.” Young was only partially convinced, but did soften his approach. “We’ll figure something out in the morning though I still reckon they gotta be tied up. Also, they haven’t seen my face and they’re not gonna see it.”
“Let’s get ‘em wrapped up for the night. It’s probably past their bedtime anyway.”
Johnson and Young were very much amateur criminals and had not done anything seriously illegal, certainly nothing like kidnapping two boys. They also had no real plans for the near future and were also not very bright. Their conversation was in front of the two boys who were within earshot, tied up on the beds. Also, the men were using each other’s first names and Israel had already seen and recognised Caleb Johnson.
Arnold Young was very much the ‘brains’ of the outfit as Johnson was, quite frankly, a simpleton. He had earned himself the nickname of “Lloyd” after the Jim Carrey character in the movie Dumb and Dumber. Not only did he have Carrey’s inane grin but he had that ridiculous fringe haircut to match.
Johnson had been busted twice for driving off from the gas station (where Young worked) without paying for the gas. On one occasion he had tried to drive off without disconnecting the fuel pump nozzle from his vehicle, crashing the car and almost setting fire to the gas station.
An indication of his intelligence, or the lack of it, was when he put the balaclava over his head when enacting the robbery at the hardware store – even though he entered without it and Israel had clearly seen his face and had recognized him!
Young thought he was the mastermind of the operation and had many times drawn up plans of devious schemes for which to commit robberies. He had considered holding up one of the banks (owned by Eddie Dale) in Riverdale. This plan was aborted when Young realised that banks are generally awash with security cameras. His latest brainwave was to snatch the safe from Barkers Hardware at the close of business just before a long weekend. The safe would undoubtedly be filled with cash, there would be no security cameras or guards, and the premises would be staffed by only two or three people.
What could be simpler?
Young had a tough guy image, not unlike actor Tommy Lee Jones in his many such roles on the screen. He had the same weather-beaten, craggy face which only a mother could love. His steely eyes and gruff voice completed the tough guy image though his choice of partner, i.e. Johnson, was not what Tommy Lee Jones would have done!
Although it was just past 9.00 p.m. the men prepared the boys for the night. They had already been tied up for more than three hours but they could now add another nine or ten hours on top of that.
Israel, in particular, realised the seriousness of his predicament. What, he thought, would happen to him and his friend once the men had got the safe open? Would they release them as they had said or would something sinister happen, like being killed? These thoughts brought a fresh round of struggling, trying to get rid of his bonds. It was no use. He was stuck.
Matthew had also heard the men talk but he was much more confident that he and Israel would be let go when this drama was ended. Either that, or he would try to escape at the earliest opportunity. How he would do that had not crossed his mind but he was confident in his ability to do it.
As the boys were each laying down on a bed, the men untied the ropes around their ankles. Whilst the boys were laying face down on the mattresses, each leg was tied by the ankle to a corner of the bed, ensuring they would not be able to fall off the bed. To make doubly sure, more lengths of rope were tied between their backs and their bound arms and under and over the beds at least four times. There was now no chance the boys could roll off the beds and even move around on them. Both Matthew and Israel still hands tied behind their backs and also tied to their torsos. The cloth gags and blindfolds also remained in place. A toilet break or a drink of water was not a luxury given to the trussed up teenagers.
After a couple of hours of watching television, the men also decided to bed down for the night. The abandoned house they were now in still had some of the furnishings from the past, e.g. television, microwave, electricity, running water and toilet facilities but only the two beds. Fortunately, a couple of sleeping bags the men carried in their van were available so that would have to do as their ‘beds’.
Both boys had trouble falling asleep as their minds wandered, trying to process what was in store for them for the next few days. Though they had together played a number of tie-up games in a playful manner, the thought of being tied up for 3 days did not appeal to them. The longest either boy had been tied up in one of their games was about 4 hours. In these games the binds were not very tight and each boy knew that his friend would untie him immediately if he was asked to. Also, gags were only sometimes used and were usually either a loose cloth gag or a strip of duct tape over the mouth.
During the night both Matthew and Israel fought valiantly to rid themselves of their rope binds, trying not to make too much noise so as to wake the men. Matthew was a boy who always was in control of a situation and was known to be a ‘leader’ in most activities. He now found himself in total submission to his captors and unable to free himself from the ropes. He was able to locate a couple of knots close to his wrists but the more he tugged at the knots, the tighter the ropes seemed to become. He eventually gave up in frustration.
Matthew then began to try to dislodge the cloth restraints around his mouth and eyes. He rubbed his head vigorously against the mattress time after time. Eventually, after an hour or so, he was able to partially move the blindfold up to his forehead. He shook his head violently and, hey presto!, the cloth was completely dislodged. He could now see. Now to work on the hideous gag.
More rubbing of his head on the mattress, more chewing on the cloth and more pushing with his tongue didn’t seem to be having much effect. The four knots in the cloth made it almost impossible to get it completely out of his mouth. Another hour (or so it seemed) passed when Matthew noticed that the knot at the back of his head was beginning to loosen. It took more head shaking but the gag finally fell from his mouth.
With his sight and vision now in working order, Matthew looked around at the rope restraints, though he was bound in such a way that he was unable to see past his waist. It became very evident very quickly that it was futile trying to get rid of the ropes.
Matthew looked over to see Israel on the other bed just a few yards away from him. He also saw the two men, asleep on the floor. He noticed that his friend was writhing in his bonds so he was obviously awake. In whispered tones, so as not to awake the men, Matthew called out to his friend.
“Izzy, how are you mate. I’ve got rid of my blindfold and gag. Can you do the same? Try it.”
“Try rubbing your head on the bed and shaking the cloths to loosen them.”
Israel grunted “Uh huh” and gave a garbled “OK, will do.”
The blond teenager followed his friend’s advice and it was not long before the blindfold cloth came loose and he was able to see. He was not so fortunate with the gag as the knot at the back of head was tangled with his long hair and no amount of shaking or rubbing would dislodge it completely. Israel’s speech was no more than a gaggle of unintelligible and angry grunts and mmphs.
Despite their predicament, Israel’s failed efforts and his continued struggles drew a chuckle from Matthew.
Even though the boys had gained some element of freedom from the cloths, all they could do was to wait for their captors to awake and, hopefully, untie them. They hoped that wait would not be too long as their bladders were bursting to the point of exploding. Ironically, they were also in desperate need of a drink of water.
Around 6.30 a.m. Caleb Johnson began to stir from his slumber. He was fully awoken when Matthew called out “Hey, buster, how about untying us. We’re busting for a leak.”
Johnson sprang to his feet and immediately aroused Young who was still snoring his head off.
“Arnie, the kids are awake and, look, they’ve got their blindfolds off. Resourceful little buggers.”
Young wasn’t so thrilled as he knew both boys had now seen his face. “Oh sh...” he exclaimed. “That changes things now lads, now that you’ve seen my face.”
Israel gulped behind the gag flopping in his mouth, knowing exactly what Young was intimating. Maybe he wasn’t, or couldn’t, let them go now.
“Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Young’s words did nothing to soothe Israel’s fears. “For now, I guess you’ll want to go for a pi...”
“Tell ya what, kiddies. We’ll untie you and, one by one, you can use the bathroom for whatever – even have a shower – then you’ll come back for some food.”
“If either of you try any funny stuff, you’ll both suffer. In fact, we don’t really need you at all” said Young, pointing in Matthew’s direction. That sent a shudder through Israel as he knew what Young meant and he didn’t want his friend hurt at all.
Israel was the first to be untied. Johnson firstly pulled the gag out of his mouth and then unpicked all the knots on the ropes which had bound his wrists and body for the last twelve hours. His legs were then untied from the bed’s corners and he was helped to his feet. The boy was unsteady on his feet, having been immobilized for so long and he rubbed his wrists which were rubbed raw by the encircled ropes.
Israel was led along a corridor to the bathroom and was told that he had just ten minutes to shower and go to the toilet. Johnson stood guard at the door whilst the boy took care of his business. After a refreshing shower, Israel put on his clothes and was led back into the kitchen area where he was told to sit on a chair at the kitchen table.
The same procedure was repeated for Matthew and it was not long before both boys were seated at the table, ready for their first meal since they were captured. Each boy was given a chicken burger and a can of Coke, which the men had purchased on their journey from the store to the house. It was hardly a nutritious meal for breakfast but, as hungry as the boys were, they wolfed it down voraciously.
The next problem the men now had was there was no more food in the house for either themselves or the boys. They had not planned to return to the house after they had taken the safe’s money from the store and the little food they brought with them last night had been devoured. So, they had to go into town to but some provisions – enough for three days for the four of them.
What should they do with the boys? Should they tie and gag them and put them in the van as they did at the store? No, that would be too risky, especially in broad daylight. The only solution was to tie up the boys whilst they drove to town, making absolutely sure there was no chance of escape. Should one of the men remain at the house to guard the boys whilst the other went into town, or should both go?
In the end, the men were confident they could secure the boys sufficiently so they would not escape. After all, it was only a ten minute drive into the next town and they would be back in under an hour.
“OK boys, here’s the plans for today. You’re free to wander around this room for a while and talk between yourselves.” Young laid down some ground rules for his captives.
“Don’t even think about trying to get away or calling for help as it’ll get you punished. This place is in the middle of nowhere and no-one’ll hear you if you do yell.” The first sign of trouble from either of you and there’s a cosy little basement that we’ll lock you in for the rest of your visit.”
“Remember, one little slip-up or mistake will mean you’ll spend three days all tied up in the basement. How dya like that, boys?”
Young was trying to sound benevolent and threatening at the same time but the boys knew exactly what would happen if they stepped out of line. Matthew, however, was not going to go down without a fight.
“You know, mister, it’s just about our duty to try to escape, so you’d better be on your guard.” Matthew responded in his typically bravado style.
“Just try it, kid, and you’ll regret it. Even if one of you gets away, the other will suffer and suffer big time. Maybe we’d better tie you up right now and be done with it.” Young’s comments pulled Matthew back into line and into reality very quickly.
“OK, OK, I get the message. We’ll be good.” “But you are going to let us go when you’ve got the money, aren’t you?” Matthew asked the question that both boys had been tossing around in their minds.
“Of course. We won't hurt you if you behave. All we want is the cash from this damn safe then we’ll be on our way out of this dump and out of the State.”
The men spent the next hour or so trying to figure out ways of opening the safe now, rather than to wait three days.
A crowbar might do the job, they guessed. If they tried to jemmy open the safe they might damage the timelock device and be unable to get in. The next option was to blow open the door of the safe with some explosives. As the men were not gifted in this area and had no explosive devices, that idea was also shelved. Also, an explosion might also destroy whatever money was in the safe.
No, they had to wait three days for the timelock to expire.