Done my first presentation of “Jasmine and me” at The Sitting Room, Ludlow. The audience weren’t clamouring to get in but neither did they clamour to get out. Quite pleased with how the linked readings from Painted Ladies, Bodies by Design and Blueprint went down and there were plenty of questions afterwards. Also I sold a few books. Anyway many thanks to The Sitting Room for the opportunity. Now need some more venues.
So here’s the next part of Blueprint
Blueprint, Part 13
‘Hi, Jame…, uh… Jay…’ Tom stuttered.
‘It’s Jasmine,’ Jasmine said stepping off the bottom stair and looking up at Tom’s pink face.
‘You look, uh, strange,’ he said.
‘Strange?’ Jasmine asked, frowning and wondering what Tom found wrong with her appearance.
‘I mean, you look like a stranger,’ Tom said losing something of his look of utter bemusement.
‘It’s me Tom,’ Jasmine said, beginning to enjoy her colleague’s discomfort.
‘I know it’s you,’ Tom said, ‘but you look so different. It’s not just the skirt, make-up and the hair, you’ve got a, um, figure. You don’t look like a fella.’
‘Well thanks, Tom. That’s one big compliment, although I have to say it’s all a bit fake for now, but one day…’
‘This is how you want to spend all your life?’
Jasmine saw Tom’s eyes scan up and down her body.
‘Yes, some day, perhaps sooner than I thought, it will be for real.’
‘And tomorrow will soon be here if you carry on chatting,’ Angela said, grinning, ‘Come on in Tom. Cup of tea?’
Tom turned to face Angela and seemed relieved to speak to her.
‘That would be great. Thanks.’
‘Well, perhaps Jasmine can be the hostess and take you through while I put the kettle on. I presume you need to talk about Petula.’
Tom looked surprised for a moment.
‘Oh, yes. James, um, Jasmine said you were together when Thwaite gave you the photos.’
‘What have you got, then?’ Jasmine said, leading Tom into the lounge. Tom sank into one of the armchairs, his long legs splayed out. Jasmine sat on the sofa, carefully tugging her skirt down her thigh and pressing her knees together.
‘Well, I had a fun time visiting the charity shops but I got lucky.’
‘Really?’ Jasmine leaned forward eager to hear more.
‘Yes. A lady in the Hospice shop recognised Thwaite’s photo and said he’d brought in a suitcase yesterday morning.’
‘And yes. I’ve got it. It’s in the car outside.’
‘Did the charity shop open it? Have you opened it?’
‘No and No. The lady said they’d been busy and hadn’t got round to sorting donations from yesterday. I thought you’d like to be with me when we opened it’
‘Thanks. We’ll take a look when Ange has made the tea. See if there are any clues. Anything else?’
‘Well, not a lot. I went back to the station and called in on forensics as you suggested. There were just a couple of the girls in this afternoon. I gave them the photos. They examined them with a magnifier. Couldn’t say much though. They’re printed on typical glossy print paper which you can buy from any stationer. The photo of Petula is fairly low resolution, possibly taken with a mobile phone rather than a camera as such and the rest of the photo is, as you said, a screen-grab.’
‘Hmm. Not much to help us there.’
‘No. Could have been done by anyone with a computer and a little bit of know-how. What about you? Have you got anywhere or have you been doing other stuff.’
Jasmine caught Tom looking at her legs covered in the smooth black tights.
‘I’ve been working Tom not preening myself.’
‘I didn’t mean…’
‘I’m sure you didn’t, Tom.’ Was she really sure about what was going through Tom’s head? Could she be certain he didn’t see her as a transvestite getting a kick out of wearing women’s knickers and bra and the rest. ‘This isn’t a special occasion, Tom. This is me when I’m off duty.’
‘Oh. What does Angela think about it?’
‘Ok about what?’ Angela came in carrying a tray of mugs. She laid them down on a coffee table.
‘Tom was asking how you feel about me.’ Jasmine saw Tom searching Angela’s face for signs of a reaction.
‘I’ve known Jasmine since James and I first met,’ Angela said handing Tom a mug, ‘I did’t know what it meant at first and when we got married I didn’t think that she wanted to be a woman all the time, but I think I appreciate how she feels.’
‘So you’re OK with this transition James, uh, Jasmine has mentioned,’ Tom’s voice was sombre.
‘Yes, well, I’m sad at losing the guy I’ve loved, and I’m not sure where it will leave us as a couple, but I know it’s what Jasmine wants.’
‘Need,’ Jasmine said, ‘It’s more than a desire, it’s something I’ve got to do to be the person, the woman, I am.’
Tom shook his head.
‘I still don’t get it.’
‘Don’t worry Tom,’ Angela said, ‘I’ve known Jas for seven years and I’m not sure I understand her.’
‘But you’re going to become, DC Jasmine Frame?’ Tom asked Jamine.
‘DS. It’s going to be a while to arrange my transition and I hope we’ll both have passed our sergeant’s exams by then.’
‘I think life is going to get interesting – for you, me, Sloane and the rest.’
‘That’s one way of putting it.’
‘Anyway. If you haven’t just been looking at yourself in a mirror what have you found out.’ Jasmine was pleased by Tom’s lighter tone, or was it just to get off the subject of his transition and get back on the safe ground of the investigation.
‘Well I have been busy, even though I was wearing a skirt. Thwaite spent those days off in Manchester – the proof’s in his bank statements. I’ve got a list of places he may have visited.’
‘So. Where does that get us?’ Tom asked.
‘Well, I think the photo of Petula was taken on one of his awaydays and if I can find out how he spent his time I think we may get a lead on who took it.’
‘Hmm. Perhaps. What are we going to do?’
‘I’m going up to Manchester.’
‘When?’ Tom and Angela asked in unison.
‘Oh, Jas. I was hoping for a real weekend together,’ Angela moaned.
‘And I was hoping for at least one day with Sophie,’ Tom complained.
‘I‘ll go on my own. You can have your day off, Tom,’ Jasmine countered, ‘I’m sorry, Ange, but Sloane has only given us a few days to complete this case so I’ve got to see if I can get a lead.’
‘You say you’ve got some addresses?’ Tom asked, ‘Will it be safe going on your own?’
‘Better on my own than dragging you along with me. They’re places where trannies meet. They’ll accept me but you could be a bit intimidating, unless you fancy dragging up.’
‘No way. OK, If you’re sure.’
‘I’m sure. Now let’s have a look in this suitcase. Perhaps there’s something that will cut the list I’ve got.’
Tom rose to his feet.
‘I’ll get it.’ He strode out and a moment later Jasmine heard the front door open.
‘Are you sure about going on your own?’ Angela asked.
‘Yes. Even if I find this anonymous photographer I don’t think they’re going to be violent. Those photos are more like a practical joke than a threat of violence.’
‘Well, I hope you’re right,’ Angela said, ‘You’re relishing this aren’t you. Carrying out an investigation as Jasmine Frame.’
Jasmine examined her feelings and realised that Angela was right.
‘Yes. I suppose it is an opportunity to give myself an outing but I really do want to find out why Petula was driven to kill herself.’
The front door slammed shut and Tom lurched into the room carrying a suitcase. It was an old-fashioned style, covered in worn and scratched brown leather, not huge but it looked pretty heavy. Tom set it on the floor.
‘We should be doing this down the station,’ he said, ‘You know, avoiding contamination, protecting evidence, that sort of thing.’
‘Yes, I know. Have you got gloves?’ Tom nodded. ‘Well you put them on and open it up. I’ll just watch.’ Jasmine leaned forward to get a closer view.
Tom pulled some latex gloves from his pocket and stretched them over his hands. Then he pressed the two catches on the case. They sprang open.
‘At least it isn’t locked,’ Jasmine sighed. Tom lifted the lid and the three of them gazed at the assorted colours and textures of the clothes packed inside.