A Day at the Beach
by Zack

"Lupe, today Mrs. Green and I are going shopping together. Get the children ready to leave by ten."

"Si, Señora Bauer." Lupe spoke perfect English, but for some reason her employer preferred her to use Spanish, her childhood language, whenever possible. Lupe was from Santa Juanita, New Mexico, a small village located on the headwaters of the Pecos River, about seventy five miles east of Albuquerque. The village had been founded in the early eighteenth century, and Lupe's ancestors had been among the original settlers. Which meant her family had lived in what was now United States territory about two hundred years longer than Mrs. Bauer's family.

"While Mrs. Green and I are out you will be in charge of all the children, at her house."

Lupe's spirits sank. Her charges, ten-year-old Rebecca and seven-year-old Rachel, were spoiled, but they were sweet in an insipid way and fairly obedient. The Green children were hellspawn. Bobby, twelve, was mean and twisted, but the fourteen-year-old twins, Ashley and Tiffany, were evil.

"Si, Señora Bauer." Every day you work here pays for three days at college. Keep telling yourself that, she thought. Lupe did well in high school, and she had a partial scholarship to New Mexico State. But NMSU was in Las Cruces, far from her home, and the scholarship only paid for her tuition and other direct school expenses. To get the money to pay for her living expenses she found this nanny job in Los Angeles. It was better than trying to work part-time while she attended classes or getting a student loan she would have a hard time repaying on a teacher's salary after she graduated. She was counting the days (403) until she could leave this L.A. sinkhole and start school.

There was the usual hassle of getting the children ready, but by ten everyone was in the Volvo and they were on the road, Lupe sitting between the girls in the back seat. Mrs. Bauer drove south from her home in Northridge until she reached the Ventura Freeway, drove west to Las Virgenes Road, which crossed the Santa Monica mountains via Malibu Canyon, and then west on the Pacific Coast Highway until they reached the Green house, located right on the beach.

Mrs. Green was waiting on the porch when the Volvo pulled into the driveway. "Hi, Becky," she shouted. "Come on in." Mrs. Bauer and Mrs. Green hugged and air-kissed. They entered the house, and Lupe followed with the children.

Mrs. Green glanced at Lupe and turned to Mrs. Bauer. "My girl just quit. I can't keep anyone for more than a few weeks. Your girl has been with you for about six months now, hasn't she? She must not be as lazy as most of her kind."

"Lupe is a good worker, and she's very conscientious."

Mrs. Green laughed, "I bet she is. She knows if she pisses you off you can call Immigration and her ass will be on a bus back to Mexico."

"No, that's not true. Lupe is an American citizen."

"She is? She must cost a fortune."

"Yes, including Social Security and the other taxes Lupe costs about three times what I paid that Guatemalan girl. But we have tax problems, and our lawyer said it would be bad if the IRS found out we were paying a nanny off the books."

"Yeah, you do save a bundle if you give them cash under the table, but you don't save enough to make it worth the hassle if the IRS is on your case."

Mrs. Bauer asked, "How did the hearing on that beach access thing go?"

"Those assholes ruled against us! Crooked politicians won't stay bought! Supposedly, we now have to give the county an easement that would let people walk through our yard, if you can believe it! But with the appeals we can drag it out for years. It doesn't really matter though. We still have the parking restrictions on the highway, so nobody can park within a couple of miles of here. That means all we'd get on our beach are a few joggers, just like we have now. But enough of this chit-chat. Let's go out and stimulate the economy." She went off to find her purse.

Mrs. Bauer said, "We'll probably be gone until evening, Lupe. Plan on preparing dinner for the children." She muttered, "I know the Green children can be troublesome, but you can handle it, can't you?"

"Si, Señora Bauer." As if I had a choice. This job pays a lot better than MickyD's, and I don't want to lose it. But I wish I didn't need the money so bad.

Lupe found the five children watching a movie in the home theatre. "Rachel, Rebecca, I brought your swimsuits. Do you want to swim?"

Her girls said that they would. Ashley and Tiffany exchanged a look, then smiled. "That sounds nice," Ashley said. "We'll swim too."

"Fine. Put on your suits and we'll all meet out on the deck." Lupe was surprised but pleased that the Green children hadn't objected just to cause trouble. She had brought her swimsuit too, a conservative black one-piece, and she put it on in a bathroom.

The weather outside was typical for a June day in coastal Southern California: cold, foggy, and overcast. The ocean temperature was in the low 60's, and the air temperature was only a few degrees warmer, but the Green house had a large heated pool. Rachel and Rebecca were happily splashing in the shallow end, and Ashley and Tiffany were taking turns using the diving board. Bobby was still wearing his shorts and tee shirt, and he scowled at Lupe before sitting in a deck chair.

Lupe stretched out on a plastic mattress on the deck, under a radiant heater that counteracted the cool outside air. She made sure her girls were safe, then watched Ashley and Tiffany. Lupe thought, They've developed a lot in the last six months, and those skimpy bikinis display every curve. They're taller now, too. Taller than I am. Of course, I'm not a giant. Lupe was 5' 1" and 105 pounds, and she had always wished she were larger. Lupe was just past her nineteenth birthday, but her short black hair, innocent face, and diminutive size made her look like a young teenager.

Lupe was half-dozing on the mattress and half-listening for any signs of distress for about an hour. Rebecca and Rachel climbed out of the pool and Rebecca announced, "We're tired of swimming. We want to watch television."

"OK, girls. Go inside and change. Put your wet suits in the kitchen sink. I'll be right in and make lunch." Lupe sat up and stretched. "Are the rest of you going inside too?"

Ashley and Tiffany had been lounging on the deck, whispering to Bobby. They strolled over to Lupe. Ashley said, "We want to play a game with you."

"What game is that?"

"Pirates. Grab her!" Ashley seized Lupe's right arm and Tiffany seized her left. They wrestled her face down on the mattress, while Lupe, more puzzled than alarmed, struggled weakly. Her struggles became frenzied when she saw Bobby pull a large zip tie from a paper grocery sack, but by then it was too late. The twins forced her hands together long enough to allow Bobby to circle her wrists with the zip tie and pull it tight. Now the twins held Lupe down while Bobby put two more zip ties around her arms, one above each elbow. He used a third tie to loop these together and tightened it until Lupe's elbows were only a few inches apart.

The twins released Lupe and she struggled into a sitting position. She tried to free herself, but with her hands locked together palm-to-palm and her elbows bound she quickly realized it was hopeless. They've got me good. My only chance is to talk myself out of this. I've got to stay calm. She demanded, "Let me go at once! What do you think you're doing?"

Tiffany answered, "Like I said, we're playing pirates. We're the pirates, and you're our captive."

"You never asked me to play this game!" Lupe tried to sound angry, but there was a quaver of fear in her voice. "I don't want to be a captive!"

"Yeah, but that's the nice thing about tying you up. I doesn't matter what you want, all that matters is what we want. But we'll give you a choice. You can play the game or Rachel and Rebecca will be the captives. We'll just put you in a closet or something so you can't interfere. Which do you pick?"

Lupe was appalled at the thought of her girls at the mercy of these monsters. She struggled to free her arms, but it was hopeless. "All right, I'll play if you don't involve Rachel and Rebecca."

"OK, if you're an obedient little captive we'll leave them out of it. They're so wimpy anyway, all they do is cry if we play rough. But I bet you've got more spirit, and I want to see how long it takes to break it."

Bobby asked, "What do we do first, Tiff?"

"Let's make sure she can't run away. Got your rope?"

"Yup, right here." Bobby upended the sack and dumped a pile of rope onto the deck. Tiffany sorted through it until she found a piece of quarter-inch braided cotton rope about four feet long. She wrapped one end several times around Lupe's right ankle and knotted it. "Hold her feet about a foot apart, Ash."

Ashley did so, and Tiffany wrapped the free end of the rope around Lupe's left ankle and tied it off. "She can't run with this hobble, but a leash will be good anyway." Tiffany found a twenty foot piece of the cotton rope and tied a slipknot in an end. She put the loop over Lupe's head and tightened it around her neck.

Tiffany yanked on Lupe's leash. "Stand up, captive. You're gonna walk the plank!" She pulled on the leash and walked toward the end of the pool with the diving board. Lupe struggled to her feet and followed, her hobble forcing her to scurry to keep up and prevent the noose from tightening around her neck.

When they reached the end of the pool Tiffany and Ashley grabbed Lupe's arms and forced her up the shallow steps and onto the diving board. In the meantime, Bobby had fetched his pirate sword, a plastic broadsword about two feet long; it's edges were dull but the point was sharp. Bobby jabbed Lupe in the back. "Walk, wench!" he snarled. "This is an easy way to die. We could keelhaul you instead."

Lupe pleaded, "Please, don't do this. It's dangerous. I might drown."

"That's the point. Get moving!" Bobby jabbed again and Lupe took a few more steps out onto the diving board.

The board wobbled and Lupe thought, What am I going to do? The children have no idea how risky this is. She struggled to free her arms but they were still tightly bound. All I can hope for is they get tired of this game and let me go before I get hurt. She shuffled to the end of the board, took a deep breath, and jumped into the water.

Lupe hit with a small splash and submerged, but she quickly bobbed to the surface. She was a good swimmer and she was able to keep her head above water even with her arms and ankles tied. Tiffany used the rope around Lupe's neck to pull her over to the side of the pool next to a stainless-steel ladder. "Climb out!" she commanded.

The rope joining Lupe's ankles was just long enough to let her step between the rungs. Tiffany and Ashley grabbed her arms and helped her climb back onto the deck. Lupe was very frightened. "Please, untie me. I did what you asked."

Bobby scoffed, "That was nothing. You barely went under the water. Hey, I've got an idea! Take her back to the plank." He ran into the house.

The twins forced Lupe back to the diving board. Tiffany asked, "What do you think Bobby's planning?"

Ashley laughed. "I don't know, but it will be something good. You remember what we did to that last girl? That was his idea."

"Yeah, she was tied up in the shed for almost two days. Remember how she begged us to let her loose? And the best part was she couldn't even complain because she was so scared of being deported." Tiffany yanked Lupe's leash. "How about you, bitch? Are you good at begging? I bet you don't want to go back to Mexico either."

Lupe decided humiliation was the lesser evil. "Yes, please, I beg you. Don't hurt me. Let me go."

Ashley laughed. "Not good enough, bitch. You didn't even get down on your knees. Here comes Bobby. Let's see what he's got."

Bobby was carrying a pair of dumbbell-shaped hand weights. He knelt and tied them to Lupe's ankles. "These weigh about ten pounds each," he announced. "They'll keep her from popping to the surface. Let's get her on the plank."

Lupe was terrified. "No, please, don't make me walk the plank again, I'll drown!" She fell to her knees. "I beg you, don't do this. Please, let me go."

Bobby prodded Lupe's back with the point of his plastic sword. "Stop sniveling and stand up! You promised to play the game."

Lupe shook her head and crouched lower so her chin was touching her legs. Tiffany smirked, "Well, if you won't do it we can go get Rachel and Rebecca..."

"No, don't do that. I'll play." Lupe struggled to her feet. What good will it do to fight? she thought. I can't save my girls when I'm tied like this, and they'll just throw me into the water anyway.

Once again the twins forced Lupe up the steps and out onto the diving board. Bobby jabbed her bottom with his sword, but she stood still. "Move, wench!" he shouted. He shoved her and she toppled off the side of the diving board. She hit the surface on her side and the weights tied to her ankles pulled her feet to the bottom of the pool.

Lupe didn't try to struggle to the surface. She realized her only chance was to walk to the shallow end of the pool. She opened her eyes and shuffled along the bottom.

Ashley watched Lupe's progress. "She's not as stupid as I thought. Too bad you dropped the rope tied to her neck, Tiff. It would be fun to pull her back to the deep water."

"Yeah, it looks like she'll get out. This wasn't much fun. What do you want to do next?"

Just before Lupe's air ran out she reached the shallow end of the pool and her head came out of the water. She gasped for breath, coughing and snuffling to clear her airway.

Bobby said, "I have another idea. It's what pirates did a lot..." He whispered the rest so that Lupe couldn't hear what he was saying, but she knew it wasn't going to be good for her.

Tiffany jumped into the pool and retrieved the rope tied around Lupe's neck. Lupe begged, "Please stop. Please let me go."

"Well, we'll take you out the pool." Tiffany walked up the steps at the shallow end and dragged Lupe behind her.

Ashley tossed a towel over Lupe's head and Tiffany wrapped the rope around Lupe's neck to hold it in place. "There. We don't want to spoil the surprise." She put a reverse loop in the rope and tied the end to the handrail, then ran off to join her siblings.

Lupe shivered as the cool air touched her wet skin. There was just enough slack in her tether to let her climb back into the warm water of the pool. She couldn't see anything, and all she could hear was the sound of the surf and some seagulls. She lost track of time, but vaguely realized that the children had been away for quite a while. Are they just going to abandon me? Am I going to disappear for a few days, like the girl in the shed?

Finally the children returned. Bobby stood on the top of the deck railing and looked both ways along the beach. "OK, there's no one close by. Let's go!" He untied Lupe's leash from the railing. "Stand up, bitch!" He forced Lupe to leave the pool and stand on the deck while he took the weights off her ankles.

Each twin grabbed one of Lupe's arms and guided her down the stairs from the deck to the beach. Lupe couldn't see anything, but when the dry sand under her feet changed to moist sand and then to wet sand she had a terrible vision of what was going to happen and tried to stop. It didn't do any good; the twins just dragged her along until they reached the hole they had dug in the wet sand. Tiffany kicked the back of Lupe's knees and she was forced to kneel. Ashley tied a rope from Lupe's ankle rope to the tie holding her elbows together and she was secured in a kneeling hogtie. They pushed her into the hole and packed the sand around her body until she was buried up to her neck.

Ashley removed the towel and cleared away the sand between Lupe and the ocean. "There. Now you can see the waves."

Lupe struggled desperately, but the packed sand held her immobile. All she could do was move her head. She was crying now. "Please, please, don't do this. I'll drown for sure."

"Don't be silly. The waves aren't that close."

"But what if the tide is coming in? What then?"

"Well, that's just a chance you'll have to take, isn't it? I want to finish watching the movie. We'll be back when it's over."

Lupe screamed and begged, but the children left her and returned to the house. Lupe shivered in the cold sand. "I'm doomed," she muttered. "If the water doesn't kill me hypothermia will. My only chance is if someone comes along and digs me out." She tried to look along the beach, but piles of sand blocked her view. Her fear increased when she realized the sand piles would also hide her from any possible rescuers. Lupe could only see the ocean, and it looked like the waves were getting closer.

The waves were getting closer. Lupe had screamed until her throat was sore, but no one had heard her. Now all she did was whimper as the water got closer and closer. Eventually a line of foam touched her chin, and then a larger than usual wave completely submerged her head. She knew she was just minutes from death and recited to herself the prayers she had learned as a child.

Lupe was distracted by a barking dog. She heard a woman shout, "That's a human head!"

A man replied, "It's a girl, buried in the sand! Quick, we've got to get her out! Here's a shovel. I'll dig, you try to keep her face out of the water!" The man started to dig at Lupe's back. The woman sat on the sand between Lupe and the ocean, using her body and outspread legs to deflect the waves.

Once the man had cleared some of the sand away he asked, "Can you stand up?"

Lupe replied, "No, tied up..." She was very cold, her body shivering and her teeth chattering.

The man cleared away more sand and saw the zip ties on Lupe's arms. "Shit! This looks like attempted murder." He dropped the shovel. "Help me dig her legs out, Claire!"

The man and the woman knelt in front of Lupe and dug furiously at the sand covering her thighs. Another wave rolled up the beach and water filled the hole in front of Lupe and washed in more sand.

"Grab her arm, Claire. It's now or never." The man and the woman grabbed Lupe's biceps and pulled with all their strength. Lupe thought her arms were being torn off, but her body came out of the hole. Her rescuers sprawled on the sand.

"Feel how cold she is, Jack. We've got to get her warmed up. Can you untie her?"

"No, I don't have anything that'll cut these ties." Jack went to work on the rope holding Lupe's ankles. "Got it! Let's help her stand up."

Lupe staggered, but managed to stay on her feet with the help of the hands holding her arms. "T-t-thanks," she stammered. She pointed to the house with her chin. "Hot tub, on deck there."

"Then let's go there, quick!" Jack and Claire hurried Lupe toward the Green house.

When they reached the base of the stairs to the deck Claire pulled them to a halt. "Wait a minute! Suppose the person who did this is there? This could be bad."

Jack pointed to their dog, a large Doberman. "Bruno could take care of that."

"What if they have a gun?"

Lupe interrupted, "Nobody here but children." She started up the stairs, and Jack and Claire hastened to help her. Once on the deck Jack took the lid off the hot tub and Claire eased Lupe into the water.

Claire took out her cellphone and dialed 911. She asked, "Do you know the address here?"

Lupe managed to remember the number she had seen on the front of the house and repeated it to Claire, who relayed it to the 911 operator. The hot water was thawing her out, and her arms were now painful instead of numb. She finally got a good look at the people who had saved her, a nondescript couple who looked to be in their forties. Both were dressed in now-soaked baggy gray shorts, gray sweatshirts, and canvas shoes. She said, "Thank you for saving my life."

Jack replied, "I'm just glad we got there in time. It was a close thing. But who did this to you? What happened?"

Lupe related the day's events, starting before her capture by the twins and Bobby. When she had finished her story Jack said, "That's terrible! And you say they threatened to hurt Rebecca and Rachel?" Lupe nodded. "Claire, you'd better call CPS too. We can't leave little girls unattended with these monsters around."

There was the sound of sirens stopping and then paramedics appeared around the side of the house, followed by a deputy sheriff. Jack and Claire talked to the deputy, who radioed for backup. The paramedics cut the zip ties off of Lupe's arms, placed her on a gurney, and whisked her away.


Lupe was in her dorm room at NMSU. It was a hot August day, and outside an afternoon thunderstorm was soaking the campus. She marveled at the contrast with the cold L.A. weather of just two months ago. She opened a letter from Jack:


John Webster
Claire Calhoun

Dear Lupe,

Just a note to let you know how things are going here. We are in settlement talks with Mr.and Mrs. Green (actually, with the lawyers representing their insurance company) and everything is going well. Our investigator located the 'girl in the shed'. She had, in fact, complained to Mr. Green about what the children had done to her, and he paid her off in return for her promise of silence. Then, in an act of monumental stupidity, he stiffed her on the final payment. She gave us a deposition, so we now have proof of a pattern of criminal behavior, and that Green knew about it. I expect you will shortly receive more than enough money to pay your way through college, even after Claire and I take our big cut off the top! In the meantime, if you need another advance be sure to let me know.

Claire has spoken with some of her old friends from the time she worked in the District Attorney's office, and they are looking at possible criminal charges against Bobby and the twins. I don't think they will actually go to jail (the Green money and influence will prevent that), but who knows? The Feds are also looking at possible tax and immigration violations.

Let us know how you are doing and if we can help you in any way. It is said that if you save someone's life you are tied to them forever, and this is true. Please consider us to be your friends as well as your lawyers.


The End

Copyright © 2010 by Zack. I welcome your comments. Email me at zack_writer{AT}hotmail.com