It’s been a busy few days since the Easter break. I’ve had some good comments about Bodies By Design, the first sequel to Painted Ladies which takes Jasmine Frame further in her transition while solving another case. I must decide where to go with it. I’ve also been working on the murder mystery my writers’ group is planning – it should be fun. This has left little time to get on with the editing/writing work on my fantasy series but that must take precedence in the coming weeks. Isn’t the life of a writer exciting? It sure is.
Anyway, here is the next episode in The Switch, the Jasmine Frame prequel.
The Switch: Part 5
Angela had already set off for an appointment in London, and Jasmine was contemplating another day of form filling and a visit to the post office to send them off special delivery. It was a warm, sunny summer’s morning and Jasmine was enjoying the freedom of wearing a light dress. When she was back at work it would be formal skirts and jacket or even trousers.
She was taking her last sip of the first black coffee of the day when the doorbell sounded. There was a tall, dark figure visible through the front door, that Jasmine recognised. She flung the door open.
‘Hi, Tom. Have you forgotten that I’m on leave?’
DC Tom Shepherd’s face showed a flash of surprise followed by a serious frown.
‘How could I forget,’ he mumbled, ‘I said good bye to my mate James on Friday.’
‘l’m still your mate, Tom,’ Jasmine said.
‘Are you? You’re changing. You’re not going to be the bloke I knew anymore.’ Jasmine sighed. Was this going to be how it was like from now on, with even her friends holding back now that she was a woman full-time?
‘Come in. I’ll make you a coffee.’
Tom followed her through to the kitchen and watched as she put the kettle on. ‘You’ve seen Jasmine before,’ she went on, ‘and you’ve known longer than most people that this is what I’ve wanted. What’s the problem?’
‘I know, but it never seemed real before, and you look different to how I’ve seen you as a woman at other times.’
‘I’m not wearing a wig. That’s the difference. Angela’s hairstylist has done a good job on my own hair. It’s a bit short but I like it.’ She tossed her head from side to side giving Tom a better view of the cut.
‘It looks nice,’ Tom muttered. Jasmine poured water into a mug for Tom and another for herself. She added milk and sugar to Tom’s and handed the mug to him
‘So, why are you here? I can’t believe that Sloane has let you take time off for a social visit.’
Tom set the mug down again and took out his notepad. Jasmine was surprised by the sombre expression on his face.
‘No, it’s not a social visit, Ji…Jas. Sloane sent me because he thought your appearance may have frightened one of the others.’ Jasmine snorted.
‘What’s it all about?’
‘It’s a murder inquiry.’
Jasmine’s eyes opened wide. ‘A murder? So, why call on me?’
‘The victim’s body was found in a pond on the Common last evening. He’d been hit on the head with blunt instrument, probably a length of pipe, before he drowned.’
‘He? A man?’
‘A youth. He’s been identified as Kyle McLeery.’
Jasmine felt the adrenalin course through her blood. She felt light-headed and flushed.
‘Kyle? I know a Kyle.’
‘We know. When we did the name search you came up along with a Daniel Parry. You put in a report about an incident on Friday evening on the Common between Parry and McLeery.’
‘Jones and Hedges confirmed that you had called them to the old security gate entrance to the Common and that you were there with a boy.’
‘Kyle and his mates had gone by the time Jones and Hedges arrived.’
‘Parry is wanted on suspicion of the murder of McLeery.’
‘Daniel is a suspect?’ Jasmine gasped, ‘But he’s missing.’
‘So we’ve discovered. We called at his home this morning and talked to his mother. She said she hadn’t seen him since Saturday morning. Your name came up again.’
‘Yes. It would. She called me last night and I went round to see her.’
‘Apparently Daniel Parry is really a girl.’
Jasmine felt her temper fray a little.
‘No, he’s really a boy. He has the physical features of a girl because he is waiting for surgery. He’s a transsexual, like me, except he transitioned a while ago and he’s F to M.’
‘Alright, Jas. There’s no need to get worked up about it. Perhaps we’d better sit down and talk about it quietly.’ Tom picked up his mug and ushered Jasmine through to the lounge. He slumped into an armchair spreading his knees. Jasmine sat on the sofa making herself as small as possible.
‘We know Daniel is transsexual,’ Tom went on, ‘and that’s another reason why Sloane sent me to talk to you. Since you know the boy he thought you could tell us all you know about him.’
‘I’ve only met him once, two days ago,’ Jasmine protested.
‘Oh,’ Tom was surprised, ‘Sloane thought that since you and he are, well, you know, the same, you knew each other which was why you were with him when he confronted McLeery on Friday.’
‘It seems that Sloane thinks I know every trannie in Kintbridge. I came across Dan by chance when I was on a run and he wasn’t confronting Kyle he was being threatened with rape.’
‘I see,’ Tom said making notes in his pad, ‘So there was a history of animosity between them.’
‘Animosity!’ Jasmine roared, ‘Kyle McLeery is a thug. With his gang he’s been terrorising Daniel and other people on his estate. He had a go at me in town yesterday. Threatened me too.’
‘So, you’re not unhappy that he’s out of the way,’ Tom said, eyes on his pad as he wrote furiously.’
‘What are you suggesting Tom. Am I a suspect too?’
Tom looked up and saw the furious look on Jasmine’s face.
‘Technically I suppose I have to include you, but no of course not.’
‘Well, I’m glad Kyle won’t be able to carry out his wishes but I’m not happy he’s dead, particularly if it gets Dan into a spot of bother.’
‘Do you think Parry did it?’
‘What?’ Jasmine thought. She didn’t want to think that Daniel could have murdered Kyle but what about self-defence? Daniel would fight, that was certain but he couldn’t have overpowered Kyle and his buddies, and they must have been with Kyle if he had gone after Daniel again. ‘When did Kyle die?’
‘Late afternoon or early evening.’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘No, I’m sure it wasn’t Daniel. He left Saturday morning and took a bag with him. I think he just wanted to get away for a few days, out of Kyle’s way.’
‘That doesn’t sound like much of an alibi, Jas. He could have planned to meet McLeery on the Common, killed him and then taken off.’
‘No, I don’t believe it. Dan was the victim. He might fight for his life but he didn’t strike me as a lad who would set out to murder his tormenter.’
‘You sound like you know Daniel well, Jas.’
‘I don’t. We chatted once and I’ve talked with his mother. That’s all.’
‘Well, we need to find him. There may be forensic evidence, DNA. He’ll have to answer questions.’
‘Of course, but don’t forget to consider other possibilities.
‘Yes, Jas. Where were you yesterday?’
‘I was here all day until I went out at about nine to see Jenny Parry. Angela was here all day too. It wasn’t me, Tom.’ Tom was still writing.
‘Of course, Jas. Just a formality. You know that.’
‘There must be other suspects, other motives.’
‘Nothing yet, but of course we’ll keep an open mind, Jas.’
‘Of course.’ Jasmine didn’t share Tom’s confidence.
Tom put his mug down on the carpet and stood up.
‘Well, I’d better be going. I’ve got to visit Parry’s friends; see if they know where he may have gone. You’ll let us know if you hear anything Jas?’
‘Well, enjoy your leave.’ Tom headed to the door. Jasmine followed and held the door while watching him get in his car and drive off. Enjoy her leave? She wished she was back on duty, fully involved in this case. She couldn’t accept that Daniel had killed Kyle. There must be another story there somewhere, and where was Daniel?