Another week gone and another step forward. I have received the proofs of Painted Ladies to go through and correct – there are bound to be some errors. I just hope we find them all. Soon we’ll have the exact date for publication and then we can really start making plans.
In the meantime, here is the final part of the Jasmine Frame story, Picture This.
Picture This, part 3
Erica stepped uncertainly into the room and leaned against the sofa.
‘Do you feel comfortable, Erica?’ Jasmine asked
‘Yes,’ Erica said uncertainly, shifting her weight on her shoes.
‘Perhaps I should have said, are you satisfied?’
‘What else would you like?’
‘I’d like to go out, meet people, be a woman for a while.’
Jasmine groaned inwardly.
‘You could meet other TVs like that but I’m not sure about going out in public unless you want to start a riot.’ Jasmine felt perhaps she was being a bit hard on Erica who deflated and sank onto the sofa.
‘I know, I know, I look grotesque don’t I.’
‘Well, that’s one word for it, but you could do a lot better.’
‘Really? But I’m tall, fat, old.’
‘I know all that, but there are tall, fat, old women who nevertheless make something of themselves. You’ve never had advice from a woman have you?’
‘No, no-one at all.’
‘When I was just dressing, my wife helped me. She only moved out when I decided I wanted to be a woman full-time.’
‘You mean you’re a transsexual?’ Erica looked at Jasmine properly for the first time. ‘You look fantastic, just like a real woman,’
‘Thanks. As far as I’m concerned I am a real woman. OK I haven’t quite got the correct body bits yet and it does take a lot of effort to fight against the years of testosterone. But you can do it as well if you choose your clothes, your wig and make-up with care.’
‘Where do I start?’
Jasmine looked at Erica laying rather than sitting in the sofa, rolls of fat bursting out from her girdle, which was obviously far too tight.
‘For a start, where did you get that girdle?’
‘It was my mother’s. I kept it when she died.’
‘Some of us don’t need it, but you need some help with your shape and I think I know where you can get something much more suitable. I’ve seen the adverts in a magazine. It’ll only take a phone call and your Visa card. Then we can sort out your clothes.’
Over the next couple of weeks Jasmine paid a number of visits to Eric/Erica. The charity shop clothes were bundled up and returned to Deirdre Sloane who was delighted to receive them with a promise of a donation. Jasmine soon persuaded her that prosecuting Eric Chapman would be a waste of police time and money.
Packages began to arrive at the Chapman residence and Jasmine smiled at the delight with which Eric tore the wrappings off. Erica had listened attentively to Jasmine’s advice and turned out to be a quick learner. Jasmine thought the time had come for her big test.
Jasmine was again sitting in the living room, now devoid of clothing. Once again she heard steps coming down the stairs but now they were the regular, confident steps of someone not afraid that she would fall. Erica entered the room and waited to be judged. Jas took a long approving look. Erica had neat auburn hair with a delicate wave that just touched her shoulder. Her face seemed to show a natural tan with a hint of colour on her eyelids, cheeks and lips. The loose beige tunic top hung neatly from her ample but firm breasts and there was a suggestion of a waist. A brown, woollen, calf length skirt curved over the rounded hips and bottom. There were no unsightly bulges or marks of underclothes. On her feet Erica wore a pair of brown court shoes with a slightly raised heel. Yes, Jasmine thought triumphantly, she’s got it.
‘You look great Erica. How do you feel?’
Erica smiled broadly. ‘Thank you, I feel wonderful. Thank you so much.’ She tapped her padded hips looking very satisfied with herself.
‘Good, because now it’s time for our little trip.’ Erica looked worried. ‘That’s right. It’s about time we paid a visit to those charity shops and gave them your donation.’
‘Yes, of course. You are right. But are you sure I should go like this?’
‘Why not? You look like the sort of woman who would support charitable work. And I thought that perhaps afterwards you could buy me lunch.’
‘It will be my pleasure. Let’s go.’ Erica picked up her large leather handbag and set off for the front door.
From the car park, Jasmine and Erica moved swiftly from one charity shop to another. Erica handed over considerable sums of money to the grateful assistants. No one treated her as anything other than a woman with a healthy bank balance. Just one shop remained, managed by Deirdre Sloane. Except that there was no sign of Mrs Sloane. Another woman stood behind the counter as they entered. Erica halted and turned to Jasmine.
‘I can’t,’ she whispered.
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine asked
‘I can’t stay here,’ Erica hissed.
‘It’s my wife,’
‘There, behind the counter.’
‘Oh, I see. Well, it’s too late now. She’s seen us come in. It will look strange if we just go straight out again.’
‘But I can’t face her.’
‘Yes you can. You’ve done superbly with the others. Just speak softly.’ Jasmine held her elbow and gently urged her into the shop. They walked up to the counter.
‘May I help you?’ asked Mrs.Chapman politely.
‘I, uh, would like to make a donation to your charity,’ Erica said huskily. Mrs Chapman looked at her without a trace of recognition.
‘That’s very kind of you, Madam. We always appreciate donations.’
Erica opened her handbag and took out a cheque. She held it between her fingers with their gleaming pale pink nails. Mrs Chapman took it from her and began to read it. At first her face showed approval as she read the amount and then bemusement as her eyes reached the name and signature. She looked at Erica.
‘I don’t understand. Where did you get this?’
‘It’s all right. It’s my cheque.’
Mrs Chapman stared into Erica’s face.
‘Yes, my dear.’
Mrs Chapman looked Erica up and down.
‘But…but, you look respectable.’
‘I hope so.’
‘When I found you in our bedroom you looked dreadful, a caricature, a man in a badly fitting frock, looking like a prostitute.’
‘Jasmine, here has taught me a few things and put me right.’
Mrs Chapman glanced at Jasmine and then back at Erica.
‘This dressing is important to you, isn’t it Eric.’
‘Yes, my dear, but you are too.’
‘I didn’t think so.’
‘I mean it. Look can we go home and talk about it. Perhaps I can explain a bit, or at least try.’
‘What about her?’ Mrs Chapman, nodded to Jasmine.
‘Oh don’t worry about me. I’ll leave you two to discuss things. I’m looking forward to getting my fee out of Chief Inspector Sloane.’