In the summer of 1977, when I was twelve years old, I stayed for three weeks at my Aunt Jean's house. I played tie-up games with my cousins Donna, (13), Shirley (11), and George (7; who mainly watched at this point). We also roped in the neighboring kids Becca (14), her brother Jim (12), and the little girl who lived down the street, Karen (13).
On the Friday of my third week, I had spent the day playing tie up games with the gang at Becca's house. We had bounced back and forth, with each of us being the captor becoming the captive, and vice versa. Becca invited all of us to stay over, with her mother's blessing. In retrospect, Becca's mom let all of stay over because her husband was off on a fishing trip that weekend, and she simply welcomed some company--even from such a crazy crew like us.
I had initially went over to Becca's house shirtless and barefoot; clad only in a swimsuit. When word came down that we were staying over, I had meant to go back over to my Aunt Jean's to get a change of clothes. However, a severe thunder storm that afternoon put a damper (literally!) on those plans, forcing me to remain in my swimsuit the entire evening. I never actually went swimming that day (I was too busy either getting tied or tying up somebody else), so I didn't have to put up with wearing a wet swim suit. Still, I felt very awkward when everybody around me changed out of their bathing suits into regular shorts and shirts, while I had no choice but to remain in my bathing suit. I felt very much like the odd man out. But Karen, bless her, had went out of her way to make sure that I wouldn't feel awkward.
Karen had brought along clothes to change into just like everybody else. But she never changed into them. She remained in her two piece bathing suit all night. And this made me feel much better. It was easier for me to weather the good natured ribbing (because we remained in our swim suits, the others kept calling us Aqualad and Aquagirl) because I wasn't alone, Karen was literally right beside me the whole evening. And I suddenly realized that I had a companion that evening, and not in just the way we were dressed; I knew that, in Karen, I had a found a special friend.
As far as the tie-up games went, the evening itself was pretty quiet. It wasn't until the late hour, when everybody was in bed--or at least supposed to be--that the weirdness began once more.
I was spending the night in Jim's room. George and I were on the floor in sleeping bags. While George and Jim slept like logs, I stared at the ceiling, too wired to even close my eyes. I got up and wandered around the silent, empty house. It must have been around one or two in the morning. I wound up in the kitchen, here I stared out at the darkened pool outside.
Just as I took a step backward, a pair of arms wrapped themselves around my torso, pinning my arms to my chest. I was hand-gagged, and heard somebody whisper into my ear, "Shhhh! Not a sound!"
It was Becca. I was in the clutches of the evil dragon lady herself!
She forced me down to the kitchen floor in a kneeling position, where she placed tape over my mouth. Then she bound my wrists behind my back with rope.
Once my hands were securely bound, Becca whispered, "Ok, let's go, Aqualad."
I was forced to my feet, and escorted down to the basement rec room. After Becca turned on the light, she sat down on the sofa with all of the rope she needed. Then, she made me get down on my knees before her, with my back facing her. Once I did this, Becca then tied my ankles together with rope. As I glanced down over my bare shoulder at her, I noticed that she tied the knot on the back side of my ankles, where I could still reach them with my bound hands.
After my bare feet were bound, Becca then pulled the knot that bound my wrists loose--then retied it so that it was tighter and more secure. Becca caught me glancing over my shoulder at her, and gave my chin a little squeeze with her hand. She double-checked my gag by rubbing her fingers all over the tape, making sure it stuck securely to the lower half of my face. "There, let's see you try and call for help from your fishy friends, now, Aqualad...."
A note: Aqualad was actually a super hero character from a cartoon called the Superfriends. Aqualad was a water-breathing sidekick to Aquaman, and among their powers was the ability to call on various underwater creatures to perform whatever tasks needed. Although Becca and the others kept calling me Aqualad because I was clad only in a swim suit, the real Aqualad was actually fully dressed in a standard super hero costume.
Becca herself was barefoot, clad only in an over-sized T-shirt that she favored as pajamas during the summer. Her blond hair was loose and flowed down past her shoulders. I knelt before her, bound hand and foot (and loving every second of it), watching her carefully. She was an infamous tickler who showed no mercy, and I braced myself for an attack.
Becca regarded me with a smug smile that was not without affection. She reached out and tickled my bare feet with the tips of her fingers. This made me flinch so violently, I nearly fell over--until Becca abruptly caught me in her arms with a giggle. She placed me back into a kneeling position again. Then she grabbed the back of my neck with both of her hands. This made me tense up all over.
Then Becca did something interesting. She started messaging me. My neck and shoulders were pinched and kneaded like clay under her hands. It felt great! I relaxed immediately.
"There, isn't that better?" she asked.
When I nodded, Becca said, "Good, 'cause now I can do...this!"
She reached out and pulled me close to her and tickled my sides mercilessly. I wiggled and writhed as best as I could, but my bonds, as well as Becca's tight embrace, kept me right where I was: at the mercy of her tickle-happy fingers.
When she stopped, I found myself lying dazed on the floor. I noticed Becca had suddenly glanced up at the doorway, but when I looked, there was nothing there.
Still staring at the doorway with a knowing smile on her face, Becca got up from the sofa and left me alone in the rec room without another word. I stared after her, wondering if there was something I did to tick her off.
After a few minutes on my own, I decided to try and untie my ankles. I bent my body back in a u-shape in an effort to reach the knot binding my ankles with my tied hands. This was still easier said than done. When I heard a slight noise, I glanced up, expecting to see Becca.
Instead, it was Karen.
Barefoot, she was clad in a regular sized T-shirt that exposed her swim suit bottom. I was touched to see that she didn't even change into her pajamas--which I knew she had brought with her. She knelt down on the floor and fussed over me like a heroine finding her best friend bound and gagged in the villain's lair. "Oh, Doug! Are you all right? What did she do to you?"
Then, after still not untying me, Karen drew back with her best melodramatic gasp. And, before I even saw her, I knew Becca was standing there, glaring at the both of us.
She took Karen captive by wrestling her to the floor and binding her hands behind her back. I couldn't help but giggle when I heard Karen, completely out of character, say, "Ow! All right, Becca, I said I give up, already!"
Like me, Karen was gagged with tape, then her ankles were tied together. Then, once Karen and I were bound and gagged side by side on the floor, Becca sat cross-legged between us and started babbling this hysterically funny plot about how she would find out the secret of calling fish from us so she could open her own seafood restaurant and thus wipe out the competition--because with our stolen power, she would corner the market on seafood.
I was giggling wildly under my gag--while Karen, who was never a big fan of the Superfriends, stared at Becca as if she had gone completely insane.
Becca tickled tortured us in order to force us to tell her how to call the fish (as Karen pointed out to me later, since we were both gagged, how the hell were we supposed to tell her, anyway?). Then, having grown tired, Becca laid down on the sofa and closed her eyes.
Karen and I exchanged a look over our gags. It appeared Becca was sleeping--but with Becca, you never knew. Nevertheless, we decided to try an escape attempt anyway. We both rolled over so that our bound hands were facing each other. Then Karen found the knot that bound my wrists and went to work on it. After a minute or so, I was able to pull my wrists free. After I untied Karen's wrists, we pulled off our gags and removed the rope from our ankles.
I wanted to attack Becca, but Karen grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the rec room. We ran up the stairs and straight out the side door. It was a hot and muggy summer evening that greeted us outside, and we stood by the door, momentarily indecisive as to what we were going to do next.
Karen then went "Oh, I got it! C'mon!"
I allowed her to tug me over to the playhouse in Becca's back yard, were we bent down through the doorway (a doorway that appeared to have been built for smaller people than us) and crouched down in the darkness within.
Karen abruptly hugged me--she actually grabbed me and held me close to her. "I'm so glad we're out of there!" she whispered.
"Yeah, me too," I said, as I swatted something that felt like it was crawling up my leg. Then, when I glanced out the glass-less window of the playhouse, I said, "Uh-oh!"
Becca had strode out of the house and was now looking through the yard for us. I was amazed at how imperious she still appeared, despite the fact that she stood clad in nothing but her nightshirt.
I was also amazed at the number of creepy-crawly things that were running around on my skin. I was slapping myself so much that I was afraid the sound might attract Becca. Karen started swatting herself as well. She finally shook her head and went back outside; I quickly did the same. We decided that facing Becca was a fate less worse than being eaten alive.
Karen removed her shirt (she wore her bathing suit top underneath) and swatted herself and then me with it as Becca came over to us with a big smile on her face. She gestured at the playhouse and said, "Didn't you two know that place becomes bug heaven at night?"
"Now you tell us," I muttered.
We were escorted back inside the house. Becca made Karen and I take seats at the kitchen table while she turned on the lamp over the stove. This provided us with enough light without drawing any attention from the rest of the house (or so we hoped).
When Becca pulled my hands behind my back and bound them at the wrists behind the chair, I said, "You're gonna tie us here? Are you sure this is a good idea? What if somebody comes into the kitchen?"
Becca just shrugged as she went over to bind Karen's hands in the same fashion. "That won't be my problem," she said laconically.
"It will be if your mother comes in and we tell her you tied us," Karen told her.
Becca held her hands up and stepped back from us. "You two really don't want to get tied? Just say so, and I'll stop the game right now and we'll all go to bed."
Karen and I exchanged a glance that turned into knowing grins. We weren't about to stop the game now, especially when our hands were securely tied behind the backs of our chairs. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.
"I thought so," Becca said as she bent down to bind my ankles.
She tied my ankles together, with one crossed over the other, then secured them to my bound hands by running a rope from my ankles to the binds on my wrists. This forced my bound legs to be pulled backwards so that only my toes and the ball of my foot touched the floor. Karen's feet were tied in similar fashion, and she gave me this adorably funny look that said, Maybe we should have quit when we were ahead!
Becca gagged us both with tape and then bid us goodnight with a broad wave of her hand and one of her infamous "Cheshire Cat" grins.
As soon as she left, Karen and I both struggled furiously to free ourselves of our bonds. But, of course, it turned out to be a completely futile gesture, because we soon realized that neither of us was going anywhere. Moving the chairs into position to pull each other's knots loose was out of the question; I sat a the head of the table, with Karen halfway down the side, and our chairs had been pushed under the table, for good measure. I discovered later that this situation forced Karen's vivid imagination to come up with a bizarre plot where she and I had been bound and gagged in the kitchen because we had been bad dinner guests, and were being punished after hours for our rude behavior earlier at the table.
I admired her flights of fantasy; all I could think about while sitting bound at the kitchen table was what the hell I was going to say to Becca's mother when she came in to make breakfast later and saw us. Luckily, that didn't happen. Because, a half an hour later, my cousin Donna stumbled half asleep into the kitchen. Barefoot, and clad in her nightshirt, Donna gave us this disgusted look through her bleary eyes that appeared to say, Oh for crying out loud, already!
She untied my hands, then turned around and stumbled back to bed. After I untied my feet and removed my gag, I freed Karen of her ropes. By this time, I had grown tired enough to sleep, and Karen appeared the same way. We bid each other goodnight and went into our separate bedrooms.
I took a few silent steps towards my sleeping bag and laid down next to a slumbering George. No sooner did I lay down and pull the cover over me, than I heard Jim sardonically say, "Goodnight, John-boy."
"Goodnight, Jimmy," I replied.
George abruptly awoke in an instant, saying, "What? What's going on?"
"Nothing," I told him. "Go to sleep."
“Good night, George-boy,” Jim said.
And that was that. Karen and I swore revenge on Becca, but something else came up before we could carry out our plot. More about that next month. As always, thanks for reading.