A busy week, so not a lot of writing work done. The highlight though, was going to see the Priscilla Queen of the Desert musical live. Great fun, amazing costumes, good songs, and a feel-good atmosphere pretty much like the original film. I just wonder how many other trans folk were in the audience. How about a musical version of Painted Ladies?
Anyway here is the next episode of Blueprint. I think we’re approaching a climax, not sure, but sometime soon…
Blueprint, Part 19
With the engine off the temperature in the car soon began to drop. Jasmine hugged herself and hoped that she wouldn’t have too long to wait. Fifteen minutes passed before she saw a figure in her driving mirror emerge from one of the terraced houses. He walked swiftly along the pavement towards her. Just before he came level Jasmine opened the car door and stepped out. The man stopped with a startled look on his face which turned to a scowl.
‘You waited,’ he growled.
‘I said I would, and you came,’ Jasmine said.
‘I’m on my way to the shop. We need some more milk.’
‘That’s a good excuse. Do you want to get in the car or shall we walk to the shop together, Rosalind?’
‘Don’t call me that.’ He looked up and down the deserted Sunday-afternoon street obviously deciding which would be least noticeable – getting into an unknown woman’s car or walking with her in public. There was another alternative; he might make a bolt for it, leave her standing so that she would have the choice of chasing after him or letting him go. He made a decision, shrugged.
‘I’ll get in. But I can only be a couple of minutes. She’ll wonder why I’ve taken so long.’
Jasmine opened the back door of the Ford Focus, let him get in and got back into the driving seat. She had him now – the childproof-locks would stop him getting out. Jasmine twisted in her seat to get a look at him. He sat back in the seat looking very uncomfortable and nervous.
‘I won’t keep you for long. I just need some answers. You are Rosalind aren’t you?’
‘Who told you?’
‘I thought so.’
‘You visited her to dress didn’t you?’ She saw his colour change and the scowl turn to anger.
‘I’m not a trannie. It was a phase. Things were difficult.’
‘How did you find Betty? She doesn’t advertise. Do you know some trans people?’
‘I went to that big place down near Canal Street, Transmutations, first. I had this, uh, urge. Look, I don’t want to talk about it.’
‘So someone at Transmutations gave you Betty’s address?’ Jasmine persisted.
‘Yeah. It was costing me too much. One of their women said Betty would be cheaper.’
‘Yeah, but it was different at her place.’
“Rosalind” wriggled uncomfortably.
‘She seemed to take it more seriously. The Transmutations women seemed to think it was a bit of fun helping blokes dress up, but for Betty and the others it was a way of life.’
Jasmine understood what he meant. She had noticed the difference on her visits to Transmutations and Betty’s Boudoir. The former was more like a theme park while Betty’s was much more intimate.
‘Didn’t you like it at Betty’s?’
‘I wasn’t sure. Oh, she was very helpful, understanding and all that, but I told you. It was just a phase. I soon realised that I wasn’t like that. I don’t want to look like a stupid prick in a dress and I don’t want my balls chopped off.’
Which was, of course, just what Jasmine did want, ultimately. She felt herself flush, but she persisted.
‘But you did visit Betty’s a few times and met Petula?’
‘Yeah,’ Rosalind admitted with a sigh.
‘Tell me about it.’
‘There’s not much to tell. I’d been to Betty’s a couple of times before she suggested going out. It scared me stiff but sort of gave me a thrill too.’ The thrill of doing something extraordinary, of breaking convention. Jasmine understood what he meant even though it was not something she had felt since her teenage years.
‘So you went out with Betty. Just the two of you?’
‘Yeah, the first time. It was only an hour. A quick trip to the shops and a cup of coffee.’
‘You enjoyed it.’
‘Sort of. Betty suggested meeting up with a couple of others and making it a lunch party.’
‘The others being, Petula and …?’
‘Petula and some trannie called Christine or Caroline or something.’
‘How did it go?’
‘Okay I suppose. I felt nervous all the time but the other two were pretty relaxed. Actually they spent most of the time chatting with each other.’
‘Did you go out with Betty again?’
‘No. Soon after my wife and I patched things up and I realised this dressing lark wasn’t for me.’
‘Really?’ Jasmine knew that while the urge to be female could be supressed it often re-surfaced.
‘Really. It’s in the past. It’s something I did for a while when things weren’t so good and now it’s gone. I got rid of all the stuff I’d bought.’
‘Okay. So you didn’t go out with Betty and Petula again?’
‘Well, not with Betty.’
‘Well at that first lunch we all exchanged ‘phone numbers and a few weeks later Petula rang to ask if I’d like to meet up with her and the other trannie. I said yes.’
‘This was a Thursday again?’
‘Yeah. We met at one of the big stores in town and had lunch in the restaurant.’
‘Just the three of you.’
Jasmine dragged out the first photo of Petula and held it up for Rosalind to examine.
‘Was this photo taken at either of your meetings with Petula?’
Rosalind leaned forward to peer at the image.
‘I don’t know. He looked pretty attractive for an older guy in drag. You know; he wore decent clothes, but I can’t remember if those were what he was wearing when we were out.’
‘Did you take any photos?’
‘No!’ His bark made Jasmine flinch.
‘Do you have a computer?’
‘And a digital camera?’
‘Yeah. So what? Why is taking a photo of the trannie such a big deal?’
‘Because the photographer hounded Petula into taking her own life.’
‘What? You don’t think I did that do you? Why should I? I only met the daft bugger twice.’
‘I don’t know why anyone should have done what they did to Petula, but someone did and I mean to find out who.’ Jasmine looked into Rosalind’s eyes searching for signs of guilt. He looked away from her and tried to open the door.
‘Well it wasn’t me. Let me out. I’ve been gone too long already.’
‘Alright.’ Jasmine got out and opened the rear door. Rosalind unfolded himself and stood up.
‘Look, I don’t how a photograph could make someone kill themselves, but it wasn’t me, right.’ He inclined his neck and spoke into Jasmine’s face. ‘And don’t come knocking on my door again.’ He straightened up and marched off down the street.
‘I may have to speak to you again, Rosalind. I will find out who took the photos.’
He ignored Jasmine’s call and strode on. Jasmine got back into the car and started the engine. She put the car in gear, released the handbrake and pulled out of the parking spot. She drove at walking pace up the road following Rosalind. He reached a small shop and paused to look at her. She lowered her window.
‘The urge never truly goes away,’ she called out. He looked as if he would explode then turned away and went into the shop without making a reply. Jasmine raised her window and drove on.