This is the second part of the first story I wrote involving Jasmine Frame, private investigator. It’s a precursor to my novel Painted Ladies. Look out for the conclusion next Saturday.
Mirror Image – part 2
It was 10 p.m. and Jasmine had already visited all the appropriate pubs in town, and been propositioned by three dykes. Perhaps the lace top and tartan miniskirt had not been the best idea. Now she was driving down the dual-carriageway to the next town as fast as the Fiesta’s oil-burning engine could manage. She had one particular place in mind to try. Of course she realised that the chance of finding Nick on the first night were slim, but she could think of no other way of starting the search.
She parked in the pub car park and tottered across to the entrance. At this time of night it was locked as she had expected, although the loud music told of excitement within. She tapped on the door and it was opened immediately by a leather trousered doorman.
“Hi, darling, on your own?” He looked her up and down and fixed his eyes on her long bare legs.
“Come on in then.” He stood to one side to let her enter. The pub wasn’t full but quite busy for a Thursday evening. The beat of the music was fast and loud and some sweaty bodies were gyrating on a small dance floor. Jasmine walked slowly to the bar looking around for familiar faces.
“Hello love, and what can I get you?” The bald barman with enough rings in his face to open a curtain shop leaned on the bar facing her.
“A sparkling water, please,” Jasmine replied, flicking a blonde hair from her eyes. She groped in her handbag for the photo of Nick, “and have you seen this person?” She held the photo so that the barman could only see the teenager’s face.”
“Are you a cop?” The tone wasn’t threatening but guarded.
“No, it’s a blind date.”
“I think you’re onto a loser. Over there.” He gestured into the gloom on the opposite side of the bar from the disco.
“No worries. That’s two pounds sixty please.” He placed the tall glass of fizzy water in front of her. A straw bobbed amongst the ice cubes. Jasmine handed over the cash and carried the glass in the direction the barman indicated. The bar was divided into small cubicles with a U-shaped sofa in each. In one cubicle there were two people sitting side by side.
A slim boy with short brown hair sat with his arm around a girl. Jasmine’s gaze worked up from the girl’s dark painted toe nails in high heeled sandals not unlike her own. The smooth tanned legs were bare up to the denim skirt which started at mid-thigh. A cut-off, strappy top concealed small breasts but little else. Bare arms were encircled by cheap plastic bracelets. Her lips and eyes were a matching light blue and framed by waves of shoulder length ginger hair.
“What? Who are you? How do you know my name?” A look of horror had come over the girl’s face. The short-haired boy removed his arm and stood threateningly.
“It’s okay, Nicky, don’t panic. I’m a friend,” Jasmine sat opposite the young woman but leaned forward so they could speak to each other quietly. The boy sank back on to the sofa.
“I don’t know you. How do you know me?” Nicky asked
“Your parents asked me to look for you, Nicky.”
The girl looked scared. “What, are they here? Do they know I’m here?”
The boy hugged her. “Don’t worry Nicky, I’m here.”
“No, calm down, Nicky. Your parents don’t know where I am or anything about what you have done. Look do you want to talk with me privately. We can go to the Ladies’ if you like.” Nicky looked at the boy alongside her then turned to face Jasmine.
“No, Paul knows everything. He knows that I’m not a real girl.”
“Nice to meet you Paul. I gather you met Nicky over the net.” Jasmine offered a hand to the boy as gesture of friendship. Reluctantly he took it and held it limply. Nicky replied.
“Yes. I’d been accessing this transgender site for months. Paul said he was hoping to meet a young TV for friendship.”
“Just good friends?”
“Well. that’s how it started but we got to know each other really well and we decided to meet up. We met for the first time back in March.”
“Were you Nick or Nicky?”
“Nicky of course.”
“Was that Nicky’s first time out.” Nicky laughed.
“Gosh, no. I found out I was trans when I was 10, earlier even. I’ve been collecting bits of clothing for years and trying them on when my parents were out or at night after they’d gone to bed. I began slipping out when they started to leave me on my own when I was thirteen.”
“So you met Paul. What happened then?”
“We fell in love.” Paul said defiantly.
“That’s right. Paul understood me straight away and accepts me as I am; what I want to be.”
“Why did you leave home?”
“I just want to be with Paul, and be myself. I’ve always wanted to be a girl and now I can be – I’m eighteen I don’t have to do what my parents want.”
“That’s true, but at the moment they are worried because their son has disappeared and they haven’t heard anything for a week.” Nicky’s face drooped, and her lip puckered a little.
“I know. I don’t want to hurt them, well, Mum. I was going to tell her but I couldn’t work out how. I can’t tell Dad that I’m not his macho son.”
“Don’t cry, love,” Paul, caressed Nicky’s thigh.
“I understand, but I have to report to your parents. I won’t give all your secrets away but you need to think about your future. Your parents may be more understanding than you think.”
“Do you really think so?”
“Well, I can’t be sure but they do seem to care for you. If you agree, I’ll give them a progress report then come and see you to talk it over. Where are you staying?”
Nicky looked at Paul. “Should I tell her, Paul?” The boy shrugged.
“Why not, she’ll probably find out anyway.” He recited an address in the poor end of the town, “Do you know where it is?
“I’m sure I can find it. Right, I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. Can I get you a drink?”