Notice: This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons is entirely coincidental.
The voice on the intercom said, "Aileen, could I see you in my office?"
"Yes, Mr. Ryan, I'm on my way." Aileen O'Malley left her cubbyhole of an office and went across the hall. She knocked on the door marked 'Frank Ryan, President', and entered.
"You wanted to see me, Mr. Ryan?"
"Yes, Aileen. Now that you're a vice president I want to put you in the picture regarding our loans to IMC Homes. The rumors are that IMC is going to file for bankruptcy, and that would put the bank in an awkward position."
The bank was the Rancher's National Bank. It had been founded fifty years previously by Frank Ryan's father, and for most of its existence it had served the farmers and ranchers who lived and worked in the canyon country northwest of Los Angeles. Now the metroplex blob had engulfed the area, and tracts of houses filled the canyons. The bank had moved with the times, and now making loans to developers was its primary business.
Aileen asked, "But aren't all of our loans secured?"
"Yes, but we would still have to classify them as bad, and technically that would put us out of compliance with the OCC capital requirements. I've been working on arranging an infusion of equity, but nothing is final yet."
Frank Ryan looked at Aileen with concern. He had known her since her birth twenty eight years ago, and she was like a daughter to him. Her own father had died when she was twelve and he had been a surrogate parent. He could tell that something was bothering her.
"What's the problem, Aileen? It's not your mother, is it?"
"No, the doctors say she is recovering as well as could be expected, but the stroke was so severe she may never be able to leave the nursing home." Aileen paused. "It's Bobby."
"What kind of trouble has your brother gotten into now?"
"He was arrested for drugs, and I don't know what to do."
"Bobby is twenty one, Aileen. He's not your responsibility any more."
"I know that, but it's so hard for me to let go. To me he'll always be the bewildered seven-year-old who turned to me for comfort when he realized his father was gone forever."
"He's been using you for a long time, Aileen. You can't help him; you've got to save yourself."
Aileen nodded, and forced herself to smile. "I'll try."
She returned to her office and got back to work. A few minutes later there was a knock at her door; she was annoyed to see that it was Heather, the security guard. The insurance company required a guard, but the work was so boring that it was hard to keep the position filled, and Heather was the best they could do.
"Yes, Heather? Is there something you want?"
"I've got a personal problem. Can I talk to you in private?"
Aileen doubled as the bank's personnel manager, so she suppressed a sigh and said, "Sure, come on in."
Heather closed the office door and sat next to Aileen's desk. She said, "I've been studying photography, and I want to take pictures like this." She handed some photos to Aileen.
Aileen glanced at the photos. They weren't glossy prints; they looked like they were done with a computer. Then Aileen took a closer look, and was shocked when she realized that most of the photos showed nude oriental women, bound in many strands of coarse rope. All of the women were tightly tied, and many were suspended in painful positions.
Aileen asked, "Did you take these?"
"No, I got them off the Internet. I have a new digital camera, but before I can take my own pictures I need a model. That's where you come in."
"You must be insane. I'd never pose for this kind of thing."
Heather tossed another stack of pictures on Aileen's desk. "Look at these before you say no."
These pictures were in black and white and kind of fuzzy, but they clearly showed Aileen in the vault, transferring money from the cash reserve cabinet into a sack.
Aileen went pale with shock. When she recovered enough to speak she asked, "Where did you get these?"
"There's a hidden security camera in the vault. Normally the tape is just rewound if nothing has happened, but I put in a new tape and took the old one home. I was going to tape over it, but I saw what you were doing and of course I saved it."
"What do you want?"
"Like I said, I need a model." Heather smirked. "I'm really shocked that you, Ryan's princess, would steal from the bank. What did you do with the money?"
"My brother was arrested and I had to bail him out of jail. He was terrified; he said that if he stayed in jail he'd be killed. The only way I could post the bond was to borrow the money from the vault. I'll put it back soon, when he goes to trial and the bond is returned."
"I bet Bobby was scared. Drug dealers get nasty if you cheat them."
"How do you know Bobby?"
"We were in high school together, and I still see him around. He's a loser now and he was a loser then, too."
Heather stood and picked up the pictures. "Here's what you're going to do. You come over to my house Saturday morning. My mother is going to Las Vegas this weekend and we'll have the place to ourselves. If you're a good little model I won't tell anybody about the money you stole, but if you don't show up the cops will get the tape, and you'll be in jail with Bobby."
The rest of Aileen's week passed in a blur. Her mind churned with schemes, but she couldn't think of any way to avoid doing as Heather demanded. If her embezzlement was exposed it would bring disaster to too many other people; her mother, her brother, and Mr. Ryan would all suffer. She cursed her brother for getting her into this, and cursed herself for allowing him to use her.
* * *
Saturday morning Aileen forced herself to drive to Heather's house. It was located in one of the oldest of the housing tracts, and even in that neighborhood it looked shabby, with peeling paint and a cracked window patched with duct tape. The yard was a wilderness of dead grass and weeds. Aileen drove past and parked down the street. Her nine year old Escort fitted right in with the other cars in the neighborhood.
Aileen knocked on the door, and it was immediately opened by Heather, who snapped, "It's about time you showed up. I was about ready to make up a photo album for the cops. Get your ass in here."
Aileen entered the house, and wrinkled her nose at the sour smell. Mess and clutter was everywhere, with soiled clothing and dirty dishes scattered on the floor and on the beat-up furniture. Heather sneered, "Doesn't meet your high standards, Princess? You won't be spending much time in here anyway."
Heather pushed Aileen though a doorway and into the attached garage. Old drapes had been fastened to one wall, and large lights on stands had been placed in front of it. A dirty blanket was spread on the floor.
Heather said, "Let's get started, Princess. Take off all your clothes."
"No! You can tie me up, but I won't take my clothes off."
Heather looked at Aileen for a moment, and then without warning pounded her midsection with a three-punch combination. Aileen felt as though a bomb had gone off in her body and she clutched her stomach and fell to her knees, moaning.
Heather said, "That's the last time I'll go easy on you. Now strip!"
Aileen knew she had no choice, so as soon as she could stand she took off all her clothes. She blushed all over her body as Heather examined her from all sides.
Heather said, "Not too bad, even if your tits are on the small side. I see you don't trim your bush, but that's OK. It makes a change from all the models who have a naked pussy."
Heather got a hank of thin brown rope out of a cardboard box and commanded, "Turn around and put your forearms together behind your back. Not that way! Parallel to the floor."
Aileen moved her arms to the required position and Heather doubled the rope and wrapped three loops around Aileen's wrists. When Heather tied the ends it was snug, but not tight, which surprised Aileen. She thought she could slip out of this without too much struggling. Then Heather wrapped the rope twice around her chest above her breasts, reversed it at her wrists, and wrapped it twice in the other direction before tying it off. This was tight, and Aileen could see the rope was cutting into her upper arms.
Heather continued with more rope around Aileen's chest, this time below her breasts, and when she cinched the loops together at the elbows Aileen's arms were immobilized. Aileen could move her hands up and down a little by flexing her elbows, but she couldn't pull them apart.
Heather pushed Aileen against the wall, turned on the floodlights, and started shooting pictures with a hand-held digital camera. She shouted instructions, and Aileen moved and turned in response. When the camera memory was full Heather turned off the lights.
She said, "I'm going to unload these pictures, but I'll get you set up for the next ones first. Come here and turn around."
Heather used a doubled rope to tie the upper band of rope around Aileen's chest to the lower one. Then she used a chair to connect one end of a deer hoist and to an eyebolt in the ceiling, and tied the rope to the lower end of the hoist. She raised the hoist until Aileen was standing on her toes, with her body bent forward.
Aileen begged, "Please let me down. This hurts so much."
Heather responded, "I knew I forgot something." She got a ball gag from the box and held it in front of Aileen's face. "Open up."
Aileen didn't bother to protest; she opened her mouth as wide as she could. Heather forced the ball into Aileen's mouth but before strapping the gag in place she rotated the ball so a small hole was at the front of Aileen' mouth. "Don't say I'm not looking out for you, Princess. You can breathe a little through this gag, so you won't die if your nose gets stuffed up."
Heather left the garage and Aileen was alone. As the pain got worse she started to cry, and the tears mixed with the drool and formed a puddle on the floor.
After what seemed to be an eternity to Aileen, Heather returned and the photography continued. When the camera was full Heather lowered the hoist until Aileen's feet were flat on the floor and she moaned with relief.
Heather said, "Now I'm going to add a crotch rope. Do you know what that is? You don't? Then this will be a surprise."
She tied a rope around Aileen's waist with the knot at her back, ran the end between Aileen's legs and over the rope in front, and then to the back again where it went around the chest ropes. Heather made sure the rope was centered in Aileen's slit and then pulled it tight and tied it.
When Aileen was again hoisted onto her toes some of her weight was supported by the crotch rope and she felt like she was being cut in two. She screamed through her gag, but Heather just chuckled and left the garage.
The rest of Aileen's day passed in a haze of pain. Heather never untied Aileen's arms, but she changed the rest of the bondage and the method of suspension. Most of the time her feet were off the floor and all of her weight was supported by the ropes biting into her body. Aileen was in a suspended hogtie when she passed out.
Heather had a moment of panic, but then she realized that Aileen was still breathing and relaxed. It was time for dinner anyway, so Heather lowered Aileen to the floor and took off all of the ropes except for those binding Aileen's arms. She took out the gag and dragged Aileen away from the blanket and revived her by pouring a pan of cold water over her head.
Aileen moaned her way back to consciousness and when she could make her jaw muscles work she begged, "Please, please untie me. I'll do anything you want."
"You're doing what I want right now. I really enjoy watching Miss Rich Bitch suffer. You're not so stuck-up now, are you?"
Heather gave Aileen some water, and as soon as Aileen could move she let her use the toilet. Then it was back to the garage and more suspension.
Eventually Aileen was passing out so often that Heather decided to stop for the night. She cut all of the ropes off of Aileen's limp body and took out the gag. To secure her for the night Heather bolted a short chain to the wall and padlocked it around Aileen's neck. Heather considered putting the gag back in, but she decided not to because she didn't want to take a chance of Aileen suffocating. A gag wasn't really needed; in this neighborhood nobody paid any attention to screams..
The next day Heather changed the style of bondage. She used white cotton rope and tied Aileen 'western style', with a lot of props, such as chairs and tables. Aileen was numb, and she followed Heather's orders without protest.
On Sunday afternoon Aileen had been tied in a strappado for several hours and she wished she could die. She barely noticed when Heather said, "Well, Ma will be back from Vegas any time now, but I want to take a few more shots with you on a bed."
She untied Aileen's ankles and lowered the rope holding her wrists so Aileen could straighten up. Aileen's wrists were still tied behind her back and she still had the ball gag distending her mouth, but compared to the bondage she had endured so far this weekend she felt like she was almost free. She prayed that Heather's mother really was on her way home, so this ordeal would be over at last.
Heather twined her fingers in Aileen's hair and forced her to bend over so her head was waist high; she walked her in this humiliating posture into the house and back to a bedroom. A computer and a printer were on a card table next to a messy bed. Heather connected her camera to the computer and unloaded the pictures.
Heather said, "Come over here and look at the pictures I took this weekend. Some of these are really hot."
Aileen shook her head, but Heather held her hair so she was forced to face the monitor. Aileen cringed with shame as the images of her nude body were displayed on the screen. When she closed her eyes sharp slaps on her breasts forced her to open them.
Heather said, "An Internet buddy of mine promised to post these on his website, and thousands of people will download them. You'll be famous."
Aileen shook her head and pleaded through her gag, but Heather just laughed.
A shout came from the front of the house. "Heather! If you don't get your shit out of the garage I'm going to run it over!"
Heather exclaimed, "Damn, Ma is home already." She ran out of the bedroom.
Aileen was desperate; she had to destroy the pictures somehow. She could reach the computer keyboard, and she forced her numb fingers to type the commands that would reformat the hard disk. The process was almost complete when she heard Heather returning. Aileen moved to block the doorway of the bedroom, and turned and held out her bound wrists.
Heather untied Aileen's hands and said, "Well, I guess the fun's over for now. Maybe we can do this again next weekend."
Aileen managed to get the gag out of her mouth. She pleaded, "Please, I did as you asked. Don't make me do this again."
Heather snarled, "You belong to me, bitch. You'll do what I tell you, or you'll go to jail. Understand that?"
Aileen understood all too well, and she started to cry. Heather said, "Oh, stop the blubbering. Here are your clothes; get dressed and get out of here."
* * *
Aileen had to force her aching body to get out of bed Monday morning, and she had just got to work when her phone rang; it was Heather, and she was mad. She screamed, "You're going to be sorry for what you did to my computer, bitch. Ma is going to be gone next weekend, and I want you over here early; we're going to add some welts to your rope burns. And I'm taking this week off, so cover for me."
The week seemed to flash by, and as the days passed Aileen became more and more frightened as she imagined what Heather might do to her on Saturday. She could barely function by Friday afternoon, and then her world collapsed. It started when she answered a phone call: "Rancher's National Bank, Aileen O'Malley speaking."
"Aileen, this is Bobby."
"Bobby! You sound upset. Is something wrong?"
"I'm calling to say goodbye, Aileen. I've got to get out of town. I don't know when I'll see you again, but it won't be soon."
"But your trial! If you don't appear the bail will be forfeited! Bobby, I've got to have that money back or I'll go to prison!"
"Maybe you can borrow some money from Mr. Ryan. I'm really sorry, but I'm dead if I stay here. Goodbye."
Aileen was stunned. She sat at her desk with the phone in her hand for some time before she noticed that the intercom was buzzing. It was Mr. Ryan, who said, "Aileen, come into my office at once."
Aileen panicked. Had the missing money been discovered already? She forced herself to move into the hall. A man and a woman, wearing suits and carrying briefcases, were standing outside Mr. Ryan's door, but she barely noticed them as she entered the office. Another man in a suit was standing next to Mr. Ryan.
Ryan's face was gray and his voice trembled when he said, "Aileen, this is Mr. Lewis, from the FDIC. Mr. Lewis, this is Aileen O'Malley, our vice president."
Lewis said, "The Controller of the Currency has declared this bank insolvent and has appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as the receiver. My staff and I will be here this weekend to inventory the vault and go over the books so the bank can reopen Monday with a new owner. I'd like you to..."
Lewis was interrupted when Ryan collapsed to the floor, clutching his left arm. Aileen had seen these symptoms before, and she didn't hesitate. She grabbed the phone and dialed 911, and told the operator that paramedics were needed at once; Mr. Ryan was having a heart attack. Then she dropped to her knees beside him and sobbed.
The paramedics were on the scene in a few minutes. Aileen was distraught, but she insisted on going to hospital with Mr. Ryan.
Just before Aileen left the office Lewis said, "Is there someone else on your staff who can help us?"
"Yes, Grace Smith, our chief teller, can help you. I'll tell her." Then she was gone.
Aileen spent Saturday and Sunday at the hospital. She comforted Mrs. Ryan, and then Mrs. Ryan comforted her. By Sunday night Mr. Ryan's condition had improved enough that he was moved out of the intensive care unit and into a regular room. Aileen persuaded Mrs. Ryan to go home and rest, but she stayed with Mr. Ryan in his hospital room.
For the first time since Friday she thought about herself, and what she should do. It was certain that the FDIC had discovered that the money was missing. She knew that Heather would happily show the pictures to the police, and that she would be arrested. Aileen decided to confess; at least that would prevent suspicion from falling on someone else. Once she had made her decision she fell asleep in her chair.
It was almost 8 a.m. when Aileen woke up. She decided to go to the bank one last time before she turned herself in. There was a city police car parked in front of the bank, and a uniformed officer was standing by the door. Aileen recognized him; they had gone to high school together.
She said, "Hello, Tommy."
"Good morning, Aileen. How's Mr. Ryan?"
"He's improving. The doctor thinks that he can probably make a full recovery."
"That's good news. Aileen, there's an FBI agent inside, and he wants to see you."
Aileen wasn't surprised; stealing from an insured bank was a federal offense. She went inside and found the FBI agent in Mr. Ryan's office.
He said, "Are you Ms. O'Malley? I'm Special Agent Horvath, Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Aileen nodded, and he showed her his credentials. He reached into a briefcase and Aileen expected him to bring out handcuffs, but instead he had some photographs, which he spread on the desk. Aileen was surprised; how had Heather gotten here so soon?
Horvath said, "Please look at these photos and tell me if you recognize anyone."
They weren't pictures of her, they were all pictures of men. Aileen looked at them carefully, then she pointed to a picture and said, "This is Mr. Lewis, the man from the FDIC."
"What did he tell you?"
"That the bank had been declared insolvent and the FDIC was taking it over. He said they were going to inventory the vault and look at the books."
Horvath shook his head. "I don't know if he looked at the books, but he sure went through the vault; all of the money is missing. This bank isn't insolvent and that man isn't from the FDIC. He's a very clever thief, and you've been robbed."
Story copyright© 2002 by Zack. All rights reserved.
I welcome your comments. Email me at zack_writer@hotmail. com