It has been one of those satisfying weeks when I’ve been able to get on with my writing, particularly Seven Times Seven, the third volume of Evil Above the Stars, my fantasy series. I hope I’ve been developing it slowly towards a first climax during which the hero, September Weekes finds out important things about herself and the world she inhabits.
Anyway from one heroine and genre to another. Here’s the next episode in a tale of transsexual detective, Jasmine Frame.
The Switch: Part 14
‘Why?’ Jasmine asked almost speechless with confusion. Daniel shrugged.
‘I didn’t know where else to go. I got to Basingstoke, wandered round the shops for a couple of hours and realised I didn’t want to be stuck there when it closed for the night.’
‘You knew that it could be dangerous sleeping rough,’ Angela said placing the bowl of salad on the table.
‘Yeah, I noticed a few weirdoes lurking around. I didn’t fancy meeting up with them when the crowds had gone.’
‘That was sensible,’ Jasmine agreed, ‘but what made you think your father would have you.’
‘He got in touch with me a while ago, after my birthday,’ Daniel said, ‘He was sorry for what he had done to Mum and wanted to get back in with her. She wouldn’t speak to him so he tried me.’
‘And you spoke to him?’ Angela said sharing out the main dish between three bowls.
‘Why?’ Jasmine was stull mystified, ‘I thought you and he had fallen out over your transition.’
‘We had but that was done now. I was a boy. Well, not fully but on the way. He couldn’t stop me now I was sixteen. And anyway, he was my Dad, we’d got on okay before I became desperate.’
‘Okay,’ Jasmine had to accept that family bonds remained strong even when there was a major falling out, ‘So what happened?’
‘I called him, said I needed to see him. He told me to visit him at his place.’
‘Yeah, a flat, not far from the shops. I walked there.’
‘This was when? Late Saturday afternoon?’
‘Yeah. He seemed pleased to see me. Invited me in, gave me a beer.’
‘Treated you like a boy?’
‘Yeah. Even called me Dan. He was trying to be nice so I’d report back to Mum.’
‘You told him the reason why you’d left home.’
‘Yeah. I told him about Kyle.’
‘How did he respond?’
‘He was furious. Stomped around the flat. It’s pretty small so he didn’t have much space to stomp in. Said all sorts of things about not having his kids molested by a fucking shit like McLeery. Those were his exact words.’
‘What happened next?’
‘Well, he got me to tell him all that I knew about Kyle. Where he lived, where he went on the Common, who his mates were. He calmed down, we had another beer, he ordered a pizza and we watched some d.v.d.s.’
‘Look the spaghetti’s getting cold,’ Angela said. ‘Eat while you talk.’
Angela offered Daniel the salad bowl and he shovelled a helping into his dish. He started chomping while Jasmine did the same.
‘And that was it?’ Jasmine continued her questioning, ‘he didn’t say anything more about Kyle?’
‘No, nothing else. He just said I could stay with him for as long as I wanted to. Mind you he only had one bedroom so I’d have to sleep on the sofa.’
‘So you stayed there?’
‘Yeah. After a few beers I got pretty sleepy so curled up on the sofa.’
‘You slept all night?’
‘No. I woke and it was still dark. Dad had put a blanket over me but I was pretty hot. I had the feeling that something else had woken me up; a door closing or something. I went to the loo for a pee. I needed it after the beer. Going back into the living room I noticed his bedroom door was open. I had a look in and although it was dark I could see he wasn’t there.’
‘Your father had left the flat?’
‘When did he come back?’
‘In the morning. I’d got up, had a shower, and was getting some breakfast in his kitchen. He didn’t have much food in, just an old piece of bread. He came in all worked up and edgy.’
‘How did he explain being absent in the night?’
‘He didn’t really. Said he’d got up early to get a job done. I don’t think he realised that I knew he’d left well before it got light.’
‘Did you ask him?’
‘I tried but he’s always had a temper has Dad. As soon as I started questioning him he flew off and said he’d been on his own for long enough and could do without the inquisition. The he said he had another job to do and went out again.’
‘Yeah, well he’s a builder. He’s always done jobs for people at odd times. Anything to earn a few quid I suppose.’
‘What did you do?’
‘Stayed in his flat. I didn’t have a key so I couldn’t leave without leaving the door open and I didn’t think that was a good idea – in Basingstoke. So I hung around watching TV and getting pretty bored.’
‘Did you see your father again?’
‘Yeah, he got back in the evening, brought another takeaway with him, Chinese.’
‘He was in a better mood.’
‘A bit. Said he was sorry about earlier and not being around all day, but he was pretty quiet and went off to bed early saying he was knackered after a day’s work.’
‘So you slept in the flat again.’
‘Yeah, but I was pretty restless having done nothing much all day.’
‘Did he go out again in the night?’
‘No. He got up about six, that was his usual time, and got ready to go to work. He said he thought I should go home to Mum.’
‘What did you think about that?’
Daniel shrugged with a forkful of spaghetti on its way to his mouth.
‘I thought that after two nights he’d had enough of me.’
‘Didn’t you think that was strange after the welcome he’d given you on Saturday?’
‘Well, it was just like him. His moods changed a lot. Perhaps he was expecting someone else to visit who he didn’t want me to see.’
‘So you packed your bag and left.’
‘Yeah. He said I could hang round but after a while I went back to the mall wondering what to do and thought of you.’
‘Thanks.’ Jasmine ate a few mouthfuls of food while she was thinking.
‘What do you think he was doing on Saturday night?’
Daniel put his fork down and looked at Jasmine. There were tears in his eyes.
‘I don’t know, but I think he might have gone after Kyle.’
‘That’s what I was thinking too,’ Jasmine said putting her cutlery down in her dish. She pushed her chair back and stood up. ‘I think I need to ask your father some questions.’
‘Oh, Jasmine. What do you think you’re doing?’ Angela cried. ‘Ring Tom, tell him that you think Dan’s father is a suspect.’
‘And let him know that I’ve been in contact with Dan when I let him think I hadn’t. That’ll do my career prospects a lot of good. I’ve got to clear this up so we know that Dan’s in the clear.’
‘But if his father is Kyle’s killer he could be dangerous,’ Angela said, her complexion turned white.
‘He’s not a serial killer. I’ll take care.’ Jasmine crossed the kitchen and picked up the Fiesta keys. ‘Now, Dan, what’s the address?’
Basingstoke wasn’t on Jasmine’s normal beat but she knew enough about the town to be able to navigate to the address that Daniel had given her. She drew up outside a nondescript block of seventies flats. She left the car on the road and climbed the stairs to the landing which Parry’s flat was on. She knocked on the door. It was only a few moments before the door was opened. The man was a couple of centimetres shorter than Jasmine, even when she wasn’t wearing heels, and had dark hair and a resemblance to Daniel. It was obvious he was his father.
‘Mr Parry. I’m Jasmine Frame. I’m a friend of your son.’
‘My son? Oh, you mean Daniel. What do you want?’
‘Well, perhaps you know that the police a looking for him.’
Parry’s eyes flickered and the muscles in his neck tightened.’
‘He’s not here.’
‘I know. He’s at my house but I need to talk to you.’
Parry looked beyond Jasmine as if expecting her to be accompanied. ‘You’d better come in.’
Jasmine followed him into the room described by Daniel with a sofa, a TV and little else. She remained standing by the door, keeping her escape route free, just in case Parry did prove to be violent. Parry leaned on the back of the sofa trying to look relaxed but not succeeding.
‘What do you want with me?’
‘Do you know why Dan’s wanted by the police?’
He shook his head but he failed to look directly at her.
‘It’s in connection with the murder of Kyle McLeery,’ Jasmine explained.
‘I don’t know anything about that.’
‘But you’ve seen Dan since he left home on Saturday morning.’
‘There’s no point lying about it, Mr Parry. Dan told me he spent the last two nights here.’
Parry’s shoulders slumped.
‘Yeah. OK. I put him up for a couple of nights.’
‘And he told you about what McLeery threatened to do to him.’
‘Yeah. Look why all the questions? How do you know Daniel? Who are you?’ As he asked his questions Parry looked Jasmine up and down. Pennies seemed to drop.
‘Are you one of them tranny people? Is it you who’s persuading my girl that she’s a boy?’
‘I’ve only known Dan a few days and anyway he didn’t need persuading. He is a boy.’
‘How can you say that? She’s got tits and a fanny. I bathed her when she was a baby. She’s my little girl. You’re a cock-sucking perv in a skirt.’ He straightened up and took a step towards Jasmine. His right arm swung up, his fist heading towards her cheek. Jasmine grabbed the arm turned in, twisted Parry around. He toppled over the back of the sofa and ended up in a heap on the floor. He lay there shaking his head with surprise at his fall.
‘I’m not here to fight you, Mr Parry. I am a police officer. I’m trying to prove that Daniel is innocent of McLeery’s death. I’m trying to help him.’
Parry rolled on to his front and pushed himself onto his hands and knees.
‘So I want to know what you had to do with it,’ Jasmine went on, ‘like, where did you go in the middle of Saturday night?’
Parry sat back on his ankles and looked dejected.
‘How did you know I’d gone out?’
‘Dan woke up and found you’d gone.’
‘Damn. I thought after the beers she’d slept all night. I thought she believed me when I said I’d just got up early to do a job.’
‘And did that job involve finding Kyle McLeery?’
‘Yes, but he was already dead.’
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as paperback and e-book from all booksellers.