Another busy week and not much opportunity to promote Painted Ladies. Nevertheless there have been some good bits of news. Apparently Diva magazine ran a review although I haven’t seen it yet, and at last there is a review on Eurocrime the big crime fiction reviews website http://eurocrime.co.uk/reviews/Painted_Ladies.html Also I have got on a bit with Bodies by Design – the exciting action packed climax is in sight!
Finally there has been some good publicity for my “entertainment” Jasmine and me, at The Sitting Room in Ludlow at 8pm. on Wed. 27th Nov. I hope there will be an audience.
So, here is the next episode of Blueprint and the start of Jasmine Frame’s first outing as a transsexual detective.
Blueprint, part 11
James and Tom thanked Miss Sutton for her help and left the bank after checking Peter Thwaite’s timings with the cashier, Sue Marsh. They sat in a coffee shop mulling over what they had learnt.
‘He arrives late, stays a while, then leaves,’ Tom said, taking a sip of his cappuccino.
‘Looking pretty sick – or worried,’ James added, blowing on his black coffee.
‘Why was he late for work?’
‘I think he was shook up by the arrival of that last photo. The post must have arrived before he left for work or else none of this would have happened. He stuffed it in another envelope and posted it off to me sometime in the morning, perhaps before he got to the bank.’
‘Why come to work at all if he had decided to end it all?’ Tom shook his head.
‘Perhaps he hadn’t reached that decision. But he had to get out of the house, away from Mrs Thwaite. He left the bank when he knew she would have gone to work herself.’
‘So he goes back, collects his female clothes and …what?’
‘Gets rid of them.’
‘Wheely bins, recycling points, charity shops. I can’t see someone like Peter Thwaite dumping them by the road side, he’s too clean and particular for that.’
‘Do we need to find those clothes?’ Tom’s expression showed that he thought the task would be impossible.
‘It would help to determine his movements and prove that he had decided to get rid of signs of his cross-dressing.’
‘Hmm. I suppose the charity shops are the easiest to check. We may get lucky if someone recognises his photo.’
‘Right Tom. You do that.’
Tom grimaced. ‘Thanks. What are you going to do, Jim?’
‘Go back to the bank and see if they can show me his own transactions. See if I can track down where he stayed on those Wednesday nights when he was away.’
‘Why is that important?’
‘Because I think that on those secret days off he was meeting or in the vicinity of the person who took the photos.’
‘Ah, I see.’
‘And once I’ve got that information I’ll have to do some travelling myself.’
‘Shall I come too?’
‘I think it best if I go alone.’
‘Because I’ll be meeting up with other trans folk and I’ll be Jasmine.’
Tom’s coffee cup stopped half way to his lips.
‘What? Oh, this other character you have.’
‘It’s not another character, Tom.’
Tom looked over the rim of his coffee cup, his dark eyebrows raised.
‘I am Jasmine,’ James said firmly, ‘One day I’ll discard this pretence at being male. James will disappear and I will be Jasmine Frame full-time.’
Tom put the coffee cup down and looked straight at James, then shook his head.
‘It’s no good, Jim. I can’t see you as a woman.’
‘You will, and perhaps sooner than I expected, if we get anywhere with this investigation and it all comes out – about Thwaite and me.’
‘I’m not sure it’s something I’m looking forward to.’
‘I’m not either. I don’t like being the centre of attention. In fact when I’m dressed as Jasmine I’m pretty careful I’m not the centre of attention. Look, I don’t know what image you’ve got in your mind. I don’t go round looking like a drag queen, nor did Petula for that matter. We both look like women when we are dressed, at least on first sight.’
‘I suppose I need to see you to believe it.’ Tom said.
‘That can be arranged. Look we had better get on. When you get back to the office get those photos out of my desk and take them down to Forensics. See what they can tell us about the postmark and anything about the photos. Oh and get me some copies, and bring them to me at home if you can spare the time.’
‘OK. It looks as though my weekend with Sophie has gone up in smoke anyway.’
They parted, Tom to visit the many charity shops in the town centre and James to return to the bank. He emerged after an hour or so with a sheaf of bank statements. He returned to police HQ and drove home.
Angela was ironing in the kitchen, nodding her head to old clubbing numbers, the ones they used to dance to in the old days when they had time for such past-times. James paused in the doorway watching her for a moment and missing those sessions on the dance floor. Why did they stop? He wondered. As if he didn’t know. It was when he took to dressing as Jasmine every time they went out and Angela got fed up of being approached by other men thinking she needed a bloke to dance with.
‘Oh. Hi,’ she said noticing him. She put down the iron and stopped the music player. ‘Have you finished?’
‘No, but I’m not going back to the station. We need to talk.’
‘OK.’ Angela looked pensive as if she knew where the talk would lead. ‘Have you had any lunch?’
James glanced at his watch noticing it was gone one o’clock.
‘No. I hadn’t thought about it.’
‘I haven’t either. I wanted to get this ironing out of the way. I’ll put something on while you get changed. I suppose that’s what you want to do.’
‘Then we’ll have this chat.’
A few minutes later Jasmine re-joined Angela in the kitchen as she poured hot soup into bowls. There hadn’t been time to put her make-up on but Jasmine felt comfortable in opaque tights, an above-the- knee cord skirt and fluffy jumper. She flicked the long blonde hairs from out of her eyes and sat down at the table.
‘Is this about the suicide?’ Angela asked, between mouthfuls of soup.
‘Yes. Sloane’s given Tom and me a few days to look into the reasons behind Thwaite’s suicide. I’ve shown Tom the photos and told him about Thwaite being a cross-dresser.’
‘And how you met Petula?’
‘Yes. Tom now knows about me, about Jasmine.’
‘What about Sloane?’
‘Not yet. As I said he’s given us a few days to investigate and Tom agreed we didn’t need to report till Monday.’
‘But it will come out that your trans.’
Jasmine held her breath for a moment.
Angela stood up, taking her empty bowl to the dishwasher. She put the bowl down and turned to Jasmine.
‘Well, we knew it would happen even if it wasn’t supposed to be now.’
‘I’m sorry Ange. I didn’t mean to rush into announcing it.’
‘I don’t want you to rush into anything Jas,’ Angela eyes flared, ‘Just because you have to let Sloane and everyone know you are who you are, you must take your time over your transition. Tell the right people, get them on your side. You can’t suddenly cast James Frame aside.’
Jasmine knew Angela was correct.
‘You’re right. This’ll just be a heads up and then I’ll start going through the formalities. But I don’t know how Sloane’s going to take it. Well, I do – with difficulty. Tom’s having enough trouble taking it in and he’s a modern sort of guy.’
‘Yes, well take care. Don’t assume that everyone will be easy with you suddenly appearing on duty as a woman. They may have to accept it but they won’t necessarily like it.’
‘I know.’ In truth, Jasmine felt nervous. For years she had dreamt of going public, letting everyone know she was a woman not a man, at least in her own sense of identity, but now it was actually starting to happen she trembled with nervousness.
‘I’ll support you. You know I will.’ Angela came and stood behind Jasmine, pressing her hands against her shoulders. ‘So where are you going with the case.’
Jasmine took a deep breath.
‘It seems that once a month Thwaite took a day off from work without his wife knowing and spent the night and the day away somewhere.’
‘Somewhere outside the local area. Up north I’d say. I’ve got his bank statements to see if I can trace the place he stayed and anything else he paid for.’
‘You’ve got an idea, though haven’t you?’
‘Yes. I think he was on a trannie awayday. Perhaps visiting a trannie club or dressing venue or something. I think it’s where the photographer latched onto her.’
‘Well, then, Detective Jasmine Frame you’d better hunt the miscreant down. Make sure he pays for driving Petula to her death.’