In the summer of 1976, when I was eleven years old, I spent three weeks at my Aunt Jean's house. This would be the second year in a row that I have been to Aunt Jean's, and for those of you who have read the earlier installments which dealt with the previous summer, you'd know that I returned with high hopes of resuming the tie-up games with my cousins Donna, now 12, Shirley, 10, and George, 6, as well as the neighboring kids, Becca, 13, and her brother Jim, 11. I wasn't disappointed.
Just after breakfast on Monday morning, my oldest cousin Keith took George with him on a trip to buy a new drive chain for George's bike; while Donna, Shirley and I went over to Becca's house. During the winter, my cousins had made a new friend, a raven-haired girl named Karen, age 12, who went with us to Becca's. Once there, the girls frolicked in the pool, while Jim and I--feeling a little outnumbered--caught up on recent events in our lives. Although both Jim and I were also clad in our bathing suits, we were happily diverted from swimming by Jim's brand new comic book collection, which he eagerly showed me.
After spending a few hours talking about and reading comics with Jim, Becca abruptly charged into the room with one arm behind her back. She smiled at me, then produced a water pistol from behind her back and pointed it at us. "Neither of you make a sound," Becca ordered.
"Uh-oh," Jim said, as he raised his hands in the air.
Shortly after I arrived, Donna and Shirley had explained to me that raising one's hands in the air was now the way a captive let everybody know that he or she was willing to play without breaking the "reality" of the game. So I quickly put my hands up, as well.
Donna appeared behind Becca with several lengths of rope in her hands. "Did you get him?" When she saw that both Jim and I had been "captured", she laughed and said, "It's gonna get crowded down there."
When I stood up, Donna pulled my hands behind my back and tied them together at the wrists. Once my hands were securely bound, Donna then made me sit down on the edge of the bed while she tied Jim's hands behind his back. "Who else is tied up?" I asked.
"You'll see soon enough," Donna replied.
Jim and I were brought downstairs to the basement rec room, where I saw a bizarre sight. Shirley and Karen sat talking on the carpeted floor. The bizarre thing about this scene was, Karen was bound hand and foot with rope. She wore shorts over her one piece bathing suit, and sat chatting amicably with Shirley--her captor--about a TV show she had seen the previous night.
They both burst into laughter when Jim and I made a big show of pretending to be shoved onto the floor and rolling around with anguished groaning.
"Are you sure you don't wanna gag them?" Becca muttered, as she regarded her brother and me with disdain.
Donna shook her head as she started tying Jim's legs together. It turned out that the only tape Becca had was a plastic coated brand that was too thin to be effective as a gag. "But you can use handkerchiefs," Donna suggested. "Or scarves."
"Make sure they're clean," Karen told Becca, as the latter went to get them.
"Oh yeah?!" Becca retorted. She quickly bent down and tickled Karen's bound bare feet.
She returned with folded scarves, and handed one to Shirley and Donna, who used them to gag Karen and Jim, respectively. I had been sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position, and Becca knelt down and cleave-gagged me with the scarf.
While still sitting upright, I stretched my legs out before me so that Becca could bind them together at the knees and ankles--in the exact same fashion of how my fellow captives, Jim and Karen, were bound.
As soon she finished tying me, Becca leaned over and happily said, "Welcome back, Doug! It hasn't been the same without ya!" Then she tickled my feet for good measure. I jokingly growled at her under my gag.
Donna stood up and gave us captives her customary final inspection of our bonds.
Then, Shirley blurted out, "Oooo! Doug hasn't seen it, yet!"
Becca showed me a sheet of paper that she retrieved from a folder on the table. It read, "We have Doug. No cops. We will call you." Instead of writing the words out by hand, they were formed from clippings of letters from various publications, just like a real ransom note. Becca gave me a proud little smile as I marveled at the note.
"Wow, you did a nice job," I said through my gag (scarves weren't as effective as tape when it came to completely gagging a captive; although my words were mangled, I could still be understood).
"She made up ransom notes for all of us," Donna told me. "But she hasn't written one for herself."
"I'm not going to kidnap myself," Becca said, by way of dismissing the subject. After the customary gloating you would expect of captors, Becca, Donna and Shirley left us alone to our horrible fate in the rec room.
We merely sat there for a few minutes until Karen said, "So what happens now?" Through her cleave gag, it came out sounding like, "O wha appens noh?"
"E ut our elves oose!" Jim informed her. (Non-gag translation: "We cut ourselves loose!")
I burst into giggles at the absurdity of the situation. I saw Karen's shoulders start shaking, then she joined me in full blown hysterics when Jim asked, "Wha with im?"
Taking as much of this as I could, I laid down on the floor and rolled my body across the carpet like a human rolling pin. This only produced more peals of laughter from Karen and now Jim. I kept rolling until I bumped into Karen's feet, which she pulled away from me with a muffled squeal, as if I were going to somehow tickle them.
With a grunt, I got back up into a sitting position. I was facing Karen, who, still giggling, stared at me with a wide-eyed, apprehensive look. "We have to sit back to back," I told her, "so we can untie each other's hands."
Of course, you can probably guess what that sounded like through my gag. The result was that Karen and Jim cracked up once more. I was initially annoyed at having my escape attempt fail thanks to--of all things--laughter, but then I couldn't help but burst into hysterics again when Becca came back downstairs and angrily said, "What the hell are you laughing about?"
Donna and Shirley also returned, and they joined Becca in staring incredulously at their mirthful captives. "I realize this is supposed to be a game," Becca muttered, "but couldn't you guys take it a little more seriously?"
"No," Jim said plaintively through his gag, and we erupted again. This time Donna and Shirley were grinning broadly, and even Becca's cold mask of disapproval melted into a puzzled smile.
Donna finally came over to me, pulled down my gag, and asked, "What's going on?"
"We're just trying to make an escape attempt," I told her sweetly.
Shirley remarked, "If I knew they were gonna have this much fun, I would have wanted to be tied up, too."
"It's still not too late," Donna muttered.
Donna and Becca exchanged a glance, then they pounced on Shirley. I noticed that Shirley didn't put up too much of a fight as Becca tied her hands behind her back.
"Hi, Doug," Shirley chirped happily as Donna made her lay down on the floor next to me. It took Donna barely a minute to bind her sister's legs together at the knees and ankles.
Becca stood behind Donna with a length of rope in her hands and a devious smile on her face. When Becca abruptly ordered Donna to put her hands behind her back, Donna casually asked, "So where's your water pistol?"
Becca muttered a curse as both she and Donna broke into a mad dash for the coffee table. Donna actually grabbed the water pistol first, but dropped it when Becca tickled her stomach. Becca then picked it up and pointed it triumphantly at Donna.
It was at this moment that Becca and Jim's mother called us to dinner. Of course, just when the game was really getting interesting....
Another rule which had been formally adopted in my absence during the winter was that if a captive didn't free themselves within a certain amount of time during a game, he or she would be freed--although the captive would lose the game. In other words, Karen, Jim, Shirley, Donna and I were still considered captives and had to start the next game as such, whenever it took place.
You can bet that Becca reminded us of this as she and Donna reluctantly untied everybody. We agreed that she would run the next game, which will be detailed in another exciting installment, coming soon to this very web site. Thanks for reading.