For the first time in three days, the Taylor family was able to sit down and have a meal together.
That was how long they'd had their new home after moving halfway across the country when Vic, the father, had been transferred several months after receiving a big promotion. Also at the table was his wife, Ellen, and their two kids, Richard (aged fifteen) and Carla (fourteen).
After spending the last three days and most of the evenings in between getting the moving truck they'd used emptied out and then getting everything unpacked and arranged, all of them were more than a little tired and glad to be done with it-which wasn't the reason all of them were so quiet. Though neither Vic nor Ellen knew it, the kids were fully aware of the arguments the two of them had had in the time between Vic learning of the transfer and when they actually started packing up to move: while Ellen had been delighted by the significant increase in Vic's salary, and had encouraged him to accept the promotion when it was offered, she had ignored his warning that the promotion likely meant they'd have to move to a different company office more in keeping with his new responsibilities. So when the transfer had come, Ellen hadn't appreciated being reminded of that fact; on top of that, she was more than a little resentful that she was being called on to give up a job she loved to follow him-thus the arguments.
For Richard and Carla, it was as much having to listen to their parents arguing as it was having their own lives uprooted: leaving their friends behind and moving to some strange new place where they didn't know anybody.
That left all of them to suffer the gravid silence while they ate. Neither of the kids wanted to say anything that might get their parents arguing again, while neither Vic nor Ellen was willing to speak for fear of having the other take it wrong and having the arguing start again.
They were nearly finished with their meal when the doorbell rang. Welcoming the opportunity to escape the silence, Ellen said that she'd see who it was and quickly left the table. A few seconds later, all of them could hear it as she answered the door.
Instead of the conversation they expected, the rest of the family was surprised to see Ellen come back into the dining room-closely followed by a man wearing some kind of mask. Even more surprising was that there were two more men behind the first, all of them with their faces covered.
Demanding 'Hey, what's going on here?!', Vic started to get up, only to have the man behind Ellen club him with a pistol that Vic hadn't seen. Knocked to the floor, Vic could only lay there, stunned, as the man behind Ellen told all of them 'This is gonna go easy as long as all you folks just stay still and don't make any fuss. Once we get what we're after, we'll be gone, and you can all go back to doing whatever. Got it?'
Terrified, Ellen and the kids said that they did; Vic could only nod weakly.
Still watching the four of them, the man behind Ellen told his companions 'Okay, go to it.'
From where she stood, Ellen could see as the other two men headed for the stairs to the second floor before the man behind her told her 'Okay, lady, go ahead and have a seat. This might take a while, and I don't need anybody getting frisky and trying to get away.' When she was seated, the man backed up a little bit, then pointed his pistol at Vic and told him 'You, too, buddy-off the floor and on a chair, where I can keep a good eye on you. No more trouble, right?'
Again, Vic could only nod as he slowly got himself back onto the chair he'd been in.
Each minute that passed seemed more like an hour to the family as they waited under the watchful eyes of the masked man. It was roughly twenty minutes after they first saw him that one of the others came in and whispered something to him. He became visibly agitated, and they heard him say 'Then one of you look again, only don't be too neat or picky. I want the other one to start hauling out anything else valuable; the TV, stereo, computers, that kind of shit. Go on, get moving!'
When the other man had left, the one with the gun looked at Vic and Ellen as he said 'Now, me and my friends, we're looking for shit we can make some money off of. Nice place like this, we gotta figure that you folks got money. And if you've got money, then there's gotta be some other stuff besides the TV and shit. Stuff like rings and necklaces and other shit like that. So where is it?'
Having gotten his senses back, Vic told the man 'Everything we've got like that is all still in a lockbox at the bank. We weren't going to bring it home until we got an alarm system installed. All we've got here is maybe a couple pairs of my cufflinks and a little bit of my wife's jewelry.'
The man made a disgusted noise before telling Vic 'I sure hope you're just bullshitting me, mister.
'Cause we ain't doing this 'cause we like to, or because we got a whole lot of other choices.'
After that, they all waited in silence again, until one of the others came up to the man with the gun and whispered to him.
They family could all hear the anger in his voice when he turned to Vic and asked 'You sure you don't want to tell us where the good stuff is?'
'I already told you: it's in a box at the bank. You've probably already got everything that's here.'
'Okay, buddy, I guess I'm gonna have to see if I can't change you mind.' Addressing all of them the man waved his pistol as he told them 'All of you… up, and into the other room.'
There was no mistaking the worry on their faces as they did what they were told; the kids followed their father, with Ellen coming last. Once they were in the living room, the man with the gun directed them to stand in the open area in front of where their large-screen TV had once been; the empty space on the wall told them that it had been taken while they were in the dining room.
With them all standing together, the man with the gun asked Vic 'You really wanna make this harder than it has to be? Just give the stuff up, and we'll go. Otherwise…'
'I'm NOT making this harder. Everything really is in the bank vault', Vic answered.
The man sighed, then told them 'Okay, then, if that's how it's gonna be. The rest of you just remember: what happens from here on is because of
Vic took a step forward and declared 'Hey, wait a minute now!', only to find himself facing the business end of the pistol the man held. Abstractly, Vic knew better, but the barrel he was looking into appeared to be approximately the size of the Eisenhower Tunnel the family had driven through.
Nothing else needed be said or done for him to step back and be quiet again.
Looking at the rest of the family, the man waved the gun slightly as he told them 'You heard me. Get those clothes off! Maybe that'll get daddy talking!'
Knowing that it was useless to protest, Ellen and the kids began undressing; a moment later, Vic followed their example.
Each of them dawdled as much as they could, but none of them dared to delay too much; the subjects of sex and nudity basically didn't exist in their home: Vic and Ellen were too embarrassed to do more than (badly) cover the basics about reproduction with their kids, and the kids had picked up enough of their parents attitude to be too ashamed to ask the things they wanted (and needed) to know. As a consequence of that, nudity was too closely associated with sex, and THAT resulted in everyone in the family keeping themselves 'decently' covered virtually all the time. Robert and Carla had both seen nude babies, of course, but nobody older than that-except in the extremely rare magazine that featured such things. When each had rid themselves of their outer clothing, they did their best to fumble and pause and generally put off doing anything else-until all of them were down to their underwear, and the man with the gun angrily told them 'C'mon, c'mon… strip, I said! I told you naked, and I meant naked, dammit! Get moving!'
Ellen and Carla were both silently crying as they reached behind their backs and unhooked the bras they were wearing; Vic managed to keep himself composed, but there was no mistaking the shame and embarrassment Robert felt as the two of them began sliding their underwear down. Once they were naked, Vic simply stood up, his hands at his side, while Robert did his best to cover his pelvis while trying not to look as though he were doing so. Neither of them could resist looking before Ellen and Carla started to slide their panties down their legs. When they were also naked, both females tried to cover themselves, too: Ellen by putting an arm across her bust and shielding