It’s been one of those weeks where it seems that not much progress has been made but there have been lots of little things to fill the time. There’s been work on our writers’ group murder mystery, a short story for another group, revisions of September volume 2 for the publisher, and of course the next episode in the Jasmine Frame stiory where she is embarking on her transition as a transsexual detective – here it is.
The Switch – Part 4
When Jasmine got home she had recovered from the encounter with Kyle but was delighted with her bright red and immaculately painted toe and finger nails which matched her bright red lipstick. When she looked in the mirror she saw again how hairstylist Helen had cleverly worked her short(ish) hair to give her a style that she loved. And she held in her hand a set of photos that would establish her new identity on passport, driving licence and other personal documents. Angela too was pleased with her new look and suggested dinner out to celebrate.
It was Jasmine’s first venture to a public meeting place without her faithful wig. For a moment as they entered the smart pub/restaurant side by side she felt exposed and vulnerable without the long locks to hide behind. No-one took much notice of them. Perhaps one or two men did take more than a casual look at two women entering without men in tow but Angela’s firm request for a table for two stifled any possibility that a man might step forward to make contact. Jasmine’s confidence grew as they walked into the dining area. She didn’t even stand out because of her height – in the high heels that she favoured Angela was taller than her.
It was a pleasant meal. As usual, Jasmine and Angela chatted to each other animatedly. It was while they were eating their desserts, concoctions of multi-flavoured ice-creams, that Jasmine realised that they may not have many more such occasions. Soon they would separate, she to forge her new life as a woman, and Angela… What would she do, Jasmine wondered, when she was single again? Would she look for a new man? Someone to satisfy her. The thoughts dampened Jasmine’s spirits as they headed home.
Sunday was a work day. Jasmine made a start on all the forms she had to fill in to change her name and gender while Angela had accountancy work. She had taken on a new role which promised a higher salary but brought more work and more travel. It also meant a new company car.
‘We’ll have to get rid of Rose,’ Angela said. Rose was her nickname for the red Ford Fiesta she had run since they moved to Kintbridge. It was a few years old when they had bought it and, much-loved as it was, was showing its age now.
‘Unless,’ Angela added, ‘you need a car of your own when we separate.’ Jasmine hadn’t given cars much consideration. There was always a police car available when she needed transport for work. She either walked or cycled to the Police HQ each day, or her buddy Tom Shepherd picked her up. She rarely drove the Fiesta as Angela generally took the wheel when they went out together and she hardly ever went out alone as either James or Jasmine. But perhaps when they did part she would need a car. Once again the thought of parting from Angela gave Jasmine pangs of, if not actual regret, then certainly of sadness.
It was getting towards dusk and Angela was about to join Jasmine in front of a DVD when the phone rang.
‘Hello. Is that Jasmine,’ the caller said. It was a female voice that Jasmine vaguely recognised.
‘Yes. Who is that?’
‘It’s Jenny Parry.’ Daniel’s mother.
‘Hello, Mrs Parry…’
‘Is Daniel with you?’
The voice was strained and worried.
‘No, he’s not Mrs Parry. Is something wrong?’
‘I haven’t seen him since yesterday morning. He didn’t come home last night and he’s still not here.’
‘I see. Have you been in touch with his friends? He told me he had a few he was close to.’
‘Yes, I have the numbers of some boys and girls. He’s known them since primary school. I’ve tried them but they haven’t seen him either.’
‘Has he spent a night away before without telling you?’
‘He doesn’t like being somewhere where he has to undress. He likes me to bind him, you know, cover his breasts. But there’s been a couple of times when he hasn’t come home. He stayed at friends’ places but came back the morning after. He knows I get worried, you know, with Daniel being like he is, I get bothered about what’s happening to him.’
‘Yes, I understand, Mrs Parry. Is there anyone else he could be with? Family?’
‘There’s no-one. No-one I’m in touch with.’
There was an ironic laugh at the other end of the phone.
‘He’d be the last person to have Daniel in his house.’
‘Hm, Right. Have you contacted the police?’
‘Yes, but they weren’t interested. They said 16 year olds often go wandering for a day or two.’
Jasmine knew that it would be another day or so before the police would show real concern.
‘Look, I’ll come round to you if that’s what you’d like. See if we can work out where he might be.’
‘Oh, yes please. I’m so worried. Dan tries to show that he’s a confident, easy-going boy but I know that there are things going on that worry him.’
‘I’ll be there in a few minutes, Mrs Parry.’
Jasmine put the phone and explained what was happening to Angela. She was sympathetic but warned,
‘Don’t stay too long. You’re off-duty and on leave. If it is police business leave it to them.’
‘I’ll just go and try to reassure her,’ Jasmine said throwing a cardigan over her t-shirt and slipping her feet into a pair of pumps.
‘Take Rose,’ Angela said chucking the car keys at Jasmine.
‘It’s only a few hundred yards.’
‘Yes, but it’s getting dark and I’m not sure I’d walk on that estate on my own.’
It was a new feeling for Jasmine to be a vulnerable female in a short skirt in an unfamiliar environment. She took note of Angela’s warning.
It was just a few minutes later that Jasmine pulled up at the Parry house. Jenny Parry opened the door as she got out of the car. She must have been watching through the curtains.
‘Thank you for coming,’ she said almost weeping with a mixture of worry and gratitude.
‘Dan hasn’t been in touch at all?’
‘No. He’s got a phone but it must be switched off and he hasn’t replied to any texts I have sent.’
Jasmine entered the house.
‘Did he say where he was going or what he intended doing when you last saw him?’
‘No. I’d gone to the shops when he left. Before I went out he said he’d be going out for a while.’
‘Did he take anything with him? An overnight bag, change of clothes, that sort of thing?’
‘I don’t know?’ Jenny Parry covered her mouth with her hand, ‘Do you think he’s left home?’
‘I don’t know but shall we have a look in his room?’
‘Oh, yes. Come up stairs.’
Jasmine followed Jenny up the narrow flight of stairs to one of the two bedrooms. Jenny pushed the door open and flicked the light switch. Jasmine joined her in the bedroom. It was a small room, a stereotypical boy’s room – an unmade single bed, a small desk with a pretty old model desktop computer on it, a wardrobe, a few shelves with an assortment of books and ornaments – largely model cars – and posters on the walls showing pictures from computer games – fantasy swordsmen and scantily clad heroines.
There was a scattering of clothes over the floor.
‘Can you see if there are any clothes missing?’ Jasmine asked.
Jenny opened the wardrobe. There were hangers holding school uniform and a couple of other pairs of trousers and shirts. There were also shelves with T-shirts, boxer shorts and socks.
‘Is anything missing?’ Jasmine asked. There didn’t seem to be many clothes even if the garments on the floor were included.
‘It’s difficult to tell,’ Jenny said. ‘I don’t think there’s much missing, but I can’t see his sports bag anywhere.’
‘How much could he get in that?’
‘Oh, it was only a small one. A pair of trainers, trousers, a few other bits and pieces.’
‘Right, so it looks as though Dan’s taken the bag and perhaps a few items of clothes. Anything else he might have with him?’
Jenny looked around the room, searching the desk and the shelves.
‘Well, his phone is definitely not here. I can’t see the charger either; and his wallet, that’s gone.’
‘Did he have much cash?’
‘I don’t know. A couple of pounds perhaps. He does have a cash card for his bank account, but no credit cards or anything like that.’
‘Well, it’s not certain of course, but it does look as though he intended going away for a couple of days,’ Jasmine mused.
‘But why? He was safe at home.’
‘Safe? Did you know he was in danger?’
‘Of course he was in danger. He’s a boy in a girl’s body. There are bullies around who’d pick on him because of who he is. You’re the same – well almost. Don’t you get people having a go at you?’
Jasmine reflected on her good fortune in being in a good job able to live where she wanted.
‘Being older is a help and with my police training I can look after myself.’
Jenny gasped, ‘You’re in the police?’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine had forgotten that Jenny didn’t know.
‘Even though you’re a trans-whats-it.’
‘I’m on leave while I start my transition but my bosses are being helpful.’ Well, most of them, I’m not sure that Sloane is exactly helping, Jasmine thought.
‘How did Daniel meet you?’ Jenny was inquisitive now.
‘I was having a run on the common. I met up with Dan. He was having a bit of trouble with some other youths. A lad called Kyle.’
‘Oh, him. He’s always marching around the estate as if he owns the place.’
‘He’s a bully,’ Jasmine said not adding that Kyle was also a potential rapist.
‘Do you think, Dan has left home to get away from Kyle?’
‘I don’t know. Perhaps he’s decided to get away for a few days to allow Kyle’s attention to wander. If he’s not back tomorrow give me another call and I’ll make sure the police take it seriously.’
Jenny looked very grateful indeed.
Jasmine backed out of the bedroom and headed down stairs.
‘Let me know if you have any news,’ she added as she reached the front door, ‘and try to get some sleep. Don’t worry. I’m sure Dan is fine.’ She knew she was spouting platitudes which Jenny Parry would take no notice of. They didn’t convince her either. What was Daniel up to?