Having been late last week I’m getting in early this week with the next part of my prequel serial about Jasmine Frame (below). This week has seen interesting progress with Painted Ladies. News about me and the book has been spreading slowly through the media (go to http://www.troubador.co.uk and look up the book’s webpage) and I hope will encourage sales. Also I am moving on slowly with the sequel, Bodies by Design, having gone back over one bit a few times to get it closer to being right. Anyway, here’s the next piece about Jasmine:
Blueprint, part 3
Jasmine took the envelope from Petula’s hand. Automatically she filed away a number of details with her policeman’s eye. It was a typical A4 size, buff envelope. The address, written in biro, was in capital letters and the recipient was a Mr P. Thwaite. There was a normal large letter postage stamp in the top right corner and a smudged postmark which she did not examine closely. The envelope had been opened with a paper knife that made a clean slit through the paper. She drew out a sheet of thin card. So far so ordinary, Jasmine thought until she turned the A4 card over and saw the photograph. It was a full page shot of a nude woman reclining on a couch. Depending on your point of view it was either art or porn. Nothing was left to the imagination. The body, and it was the body that drew the eye, was of a young but mature woman. Jasmine looked at the head and had a shock. The face and hair were Petula’s.
‘That’s quite a photo,’ Angela said looking at the print from Jasmine’s side.
‘It’s not me,’ Petula said. ‘Well, it’s my head but not my body.’
‘I sort of thought that,’ Jasmine said, ‘No offence.’
‘No. I wish it was mine, but even if I was female I don’t think I’d ever have looked quite as attractive as her. Whoever’s body it is.’ Petula said with a note of regret in her voice.
‘A clever bit of photoshopping,’ Angela noted, ‘Who sent it to you?’
‘I don’t know,’ Petula said, ‘There was no letter or anything with it.’
‘Have you had any others?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Yes,’ Petula dug in her bag and drew out another three similar envelopes, ‘but that is the first one that is…uh.’
‘A blue print?’ Angela completed Petula’s sentence.
Jasmine grimaced at Angela’s pun and looked at the other envelopes. They were very similar to the latest and the writing of all the addresses looked identical. Jasmine laid the four envelopes down on a table, took the contents of each out in turn and put them on top of their respective packaging. The other three were photos of Petula standing in various forms of dress. In one she wore a respectable long skirt and top, in another she had on a miniskirt and cropped T-shirt and in the last she was in a set of seductive lingerie including a g-string, stockings and suspender belt and half-cup bra. In each, Petula’s middle-aged face surrounded by the brown curls of her wig looked out of the picture.
‘There seems to be a sequence here,’ Jasmine said.
‘That’s right,’ Petula said, ‘they’re getting more and more, um, pornographic.’
‘When did you get them?’ Jasmine asked, leaning down to examine the postmarks.
‘Weekly. The first one arrived a month ago on the Friday and it’s been each Friday since.’
‘Hmm,’ Jasmine looked at each photograph, comparing them, trying to draw as much detail as she could from each.
‘The problem is my wife,’ Petula said. ‘I have to stop her seeing them.’
‘I can see they’re a bit embarrassing,’ Jasmine said looking at Petula who had blushed.
‘She doesn’t know about me.’
‘What! She doesn’t know you’re a transvestite?’ Angela said, louder than was necessary.
‘Cross-dresser,’ Petula said defiantly, ‘No, she doesn’t. It’s been a secret all our married life.’
‘How long’s that?’ Angela asked, her eyes wide with surprise,
‘Twenty eight years. I keep my female clothes in a suitcase in the garage. I only dress at home if she is out or I bring them with me and change here.’
Jasmine saw disbelief on Angela’s face.
‘It’s not uncommon,’ Jasmine said, ‘Plenty of the ladies here will tell you about their secret existences or of others they know.’ She pointed around the hall at the other cross-dressers.’
‘But how do you keep it secret?’ Angela asked.
‘By taking care,’ Petula said, ‘and making sure that nothing crops up in conversation that could lead anywhere awkward.’
‘So these photos are quite a problem,’ Jasmine said, ‘How have you managed to stop your wife seeing them?’
‘Well, I do tend to take business post to my study to open,’ Petula explained, ‘As it was in a brown envelope that is what I did with the first one. When the second arrived I recognised the writing and made sure that I removed it smartly, and the same with the third and fourth.’
‘And in each photo your head has been superimposed on some other model’s body.’ Jasmine looked at the photos closely again. ‘The same model by the look of them.’
‘That’s right,’ Petula said.
‘But where did the photographer get the picture of your head. Do you recognise a photo it was taken from?’ Jasmine asked
‘Do you have photos of you, as Petula?’
‘A few. Mainly old prints taken by friends at evenings like this.’
‘Not digital then?’
‘No, I don’t have a digital camera.’
‘Do you have a computer?’
‘Do you have any photos of Petula stored on it?’
‘So this picture of your head must have been taken by someone unknown to you.’
‘I think so.’
‘Do you go out in public as Petula?’
‘Now and again, if Linda, that’s my wife, is out for the day, or away for a day or two.’
‘Hmm. So someone has snapped you while you’re out as Petula, and taken your head and merged it with this other model’s body. Why?’
‘That’s what I want to know. You’ve got to help me. I’m getting frantic that Linda will see one and ask all sorts of questions.’
‘Yes. I understand.’
‘And what is the next one going to show?’ Petula’s voice had become plaintive
‘How do you know there’ll be a next one?’ Angela asked.
‘Oh, I think there will be,’ Jasmine said, ‘The photographer is playing a lovely little game with Petula and hasn’t revealed their aim yet.’
‘Please help me,’ Petula said.