A lovely few days in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Lots of bookshops selling books in Slovenian. How come they survive while independent bookshops in the UK have all but disappeared. Well I think we know the answer but it is disappointing. I bought a book with a translation of some of France Peseren’s poems. Apparently he is Slovenia’s greatest writer.
Anyway, on to The Switch, and the next episode of the Jasmine Frame story exploring her origins as a transsexual detective.
The Switch – Part 16
Jasmine had a moment to take in the youth’s left hand on Tamsin’s breast, the other holding a short knife to her neck. The next she was thrown against the wall of the blockhouse, her shoulder grazing on the rough concrete. An arm pressed against her throat and the light of a heavy metal-cased torch shone into her eyes. The third member of Kyle’s gang had been behind the door illuminating the proceedings. The light dazzled her so she closed her eyes.
‘Hey. It’s that trannie friend of Danny-boy.’ She recognised the voice of the boy who had been groping and threatening Tamsin.
‘Pull back, Jake,’ same voice. ‘Let’s have a look at the fucker.’ The arm was released from her throat and the intensity of the light decreased. Jasmine opened her eyes and although the light was still bright in her face, she saw the dark face of Jake behind it and Tamsin wriggling.
‘Get off me Wes, you oaf.’
Wes dropped her arms and she pushed him off her,
‘What’s she doing here?’ Wes asked.
‘It’s not a she is it. It’s one of them trans things like Danny only the other way round,’ Tamsin said.
‘And this one’s a pig,’ the un-named youth said. ‘Why are you here, cop?’
Jasmine pushed herself upright and smoothed her skirt down her thighs.
‘I’m investigating Kyle McLeery’s death,’ she said trying to sound calm and in control.
‘I thought it was Danny what done it,’ Jake said.
‘He’s a girl,’ Wes said, ‘he couldn’t have done in Kyle.’
‘Are you saying girls aren’t tough enough to stand up for themselves?’ Tamsin was defiant.
‘You’re pretty tough, aren’t you Tamsin,’ Jasmine said. Even through the glare of the torchlight she could see Tamsin’s look of comprehension. She knew what Jasmine was referring to. She stepped back into the shadows. The three boys didn’t seem to have understood the exchange.
‘You weren’t on the case this morning at Parry’s house when those two pigs moved us on,’ nameless said, ‘you were just looking out for Danny.’
‘That’s right. He’s innocent and safe,’ Jasmine said.
‘The trannie wants to pin it on you,’ Tamsin said from behind the three boys who now faced Jasmine. ‘She’ll say you did it, Joey, to get Danny off the hook.’
You had to hand it to Tamsin. She had more brains than the three lads put together. Moments ago she was being threatened, now she was giving instructions. She could incite them to harm her, Jasmine realised.
‘I want the truth,’ Jasmine said looking passed the boys to Tamsin.
‘We had nuffin’ to do with killing Kyle,’ the one Jasmine now knew was Joey said, ‘he was the boss.’
‘And you are now, Joey, is that it?’ Jasmine said, ‘Is that why you were feeling up Tamsin?’
‘She’s our bitch now,’ the self-appointed leader said.
‘You’re not having me,’ Tamsin said, ‘Only Kyle was allowed to fuck me.’
‘He said we could have you,’ Wes said.
‘Was that it?’ Jasmine asked, ‘Kyle had found another girl or was he just bored of you, Tamsin?’
Tamsin sniffed. ‘No,’ she moaned.
‘What’s it to you, cock-teaser?’ Jake growled.
‘Do you want a taste of a real cock?’ Wes thrust his groin forward and rubbed his genitals through his dirty jeans. The three boys edged towards Jasmine. The bright beam of the torch obscured Jasmine’s vision, but she saw the glint of light on the raised blade held by the new leader of the gang.
‘Do her in before she rats on you,’ Tamsin urged from the dark.
Hands reached forward to grab Jasmine’s arms. A hand slipped into the waistband of her skirt. The point of the knife pressed against her left breast.
‘You mean before I tell them that you killed Kyle, Tamsin.’
The hands gripping her stiffened. The knife jerked forward, piercing the cloth of her T-shirt and bra. The blade sank into her silicone breast. She didn’t flinch.
‘What?’ Joey said.
‘Saturday night wasn’t Tamsin? Did Kyle meet you here as you planned? What did you argue about?’
Tamsin gave a cry like a wounded animal. The three boys turned releasing their grip on Jasmine; the knife pulled from her false breast. The light moved from Jasmine’s face. She saw red blobs and, through them, Tamsin edging to the door.
‘He said I wouldn’t be his number one anymore,’ Tamsin cried. ‘He chased me up to the pond. There was a pole on the ground. I swung it at him. I didn’t mean to kill him.’ She was at the entrance, the three boys poised to launch themselves at her. The door was thrown open.
More light; bodies filling the doorway; voices, male, older voices shouting warnings. The boys stumbled backwards towards Jasmine. She put a foot forward, shoved a shoulder. The three fell in a heap onto the filthy mattress. Tamsin retreated from the invading police officers. Jasmine grabbed her, wrapping an arm around her naked torso and pinning her arms behind her.
‘Jas? Are you here?’ Tom Shepherd’s voice.
‘Here,’ she called. Torch beams searched the room; fell on her and Tamsin. ‘This is the one you want.’
Jasmine could just make out Tom flanked by two uniformed officers. Behind them loomed the bulk of DCI Sloane.
‘For what reason should we want this girl?’ Sloane said.
‘The killing of Kyle McLeery, sir,’ Jasmine replied.
‘What’s the evidence?’
‘She just admitted attacking him with a steel pole, Sir.’
‘We haven’t released that information, Frame.’
‘I know, so she must have been telling the truth, Sir.’
‘We’ll put some questions to her, Frame. Get some clothes on her, Shepherd, and put her in a car.’
Tom reached forward and held Tamsin’s bare shoulder. Jasmine released her grip on her and the girl was pulled away from her. Tom handed her on to one of the officers who escorted her out of the hut. The three boys untangled themselves from the floor and stood up.
‘And what about this trio?’ Sloane enquired.
‘They were assaulting the girl, when I arrived,’ Jasmine said.
There was more noise of heavy shoes on gravel and two more police officers crowded into the small room.
‘Take them as well but keep them away from the girl,’ Sloane ordered, ‘Now I think we need some explanations from you, DC Frame. Shepherd will accompany you to the station. ’
Jasmine followed Tom and Sloane from the derelict security hut. There were two cars and a police van parked at various angles around her little Fiesta which stood with driver’s door open and engine running.
‘I’ll drive,’ Tom said approaching the right hand side of the Ford.
‘But, it’s my car,’ Jasmine complained.
‘I think you need to calm yourself and work out what you are going to tell Sloane,’ Tom said inserting his tall frame into the driving seat. Jasmine circled the car and got into the passenger seat. She saw Tom’s eyes on her breast.
‘Are you hurt?’ he asked. She looked down at the torn threads and the gaping slit.
‘No. It’s only my falsie that got cut.’ Suddenly she had a vision of the knife slicing into the breast she wished she had instead of the silicone enhancers and blood spurting from the gash. She shivered.
‘Are you sure?’ Tom persisted.
‘Yes. I’m fine. Let’s get going.’
Tom engaged the gear lever and they lurched forward. Jasmine put a hand to her chin. Her face felt rough. It had been a long time since she’d had her morning shave. She reached into the footwell for her bag and dug inside for a mirror and lipstick. She would have to make herself look respectable to face Sloane’s questioning.
Painted Ladies: a Jasmine Frame story is available as a paperback and ebook.