One of those weeks when I’ve done everything but my fiction writing, except for the next episode of the Jasmine Frame prequel Close-up, so here it is.
Close-up: Part 13
‘Jasmine are you alright?’
Angela’s voice came to her through a fog of pain. Jasmine found that she was lying on the carpeted floor sprawled over Angela. She nodded slightly but her head hurt and her neck ached so she kept her eyes closed until the dizziness passed.
Angela wriggled her legs from under her. ‘Who are you? What are you doing?’
The front door slammed shut. Jasmine felt a weight against her back, a knee pressed against her spine and a point pushed into her neck. A shiver of fear ran up her spine, an old, oft-remembered fear. Not a knife, please, not a knife.
‘Get up and step back. Come close and the perv gets this in his neck.’ That voice was calm and light, a male voice though quite high pitched. A young man. It was too much effort to open her eyes and to move. She heard the rustling noise of Angela getting to her feet and shuffling away. ‘Take your tights off,’ the man ordered. Who could the attacker be? She needed to see. She forced her eyes open. Angela was bending over pulling her thick tights down her legs with her dress hitched up. Jasmine started to move her head to get a glimpse of the man.
‘Stay still or I’ll slit your throat.’
Jasmine froze. Her forehead rested on the floor. She tried to breathe steadily, difficult with the weight on her and the fear of the knife.
‘Tie his arms behind his back.’ The man commanded. Jasmine glimpsed Angela kneeling beside her, reaching out to take her wrist. She manoeuvred her arms into place so that Angela could link them together.
‘Make it tight. I don’t want the fucking trannie to get free.’
Jasmine felt the cloth tighten around her wrists. With her chest pressed against the floor, her neck twisted and the man still resting a knee against her back, she found breathing even more of an effort. Keep calm, she told herself, don’t panic. We’ll get out of this somehow. He’ll tell us what he wants soon.
‘Right. Now pull the fucker’s tights off. Don’t try anything. This knife is still ready to slit his throat.’
Angela’s hands were on her thighs, sliding up under her skirt. Fingers groped for and found the waist band. Jasmine tensed her legs to lift her abdomen from the floor to ease Angela’s task. She felt a tug then the tights slipping over her buttocks and down her legs. Jasmine was thankful that it was Angela who was doing the undressing. Her knickers stayed in place keeping her hated genitals out of sight of the watcher. Angela pulled her shoes off then pulled until the each leg of the garment came away.
‘Put the tights down by my side. Kneel facing away from me. Put your arms behind your back.’
The knife blade was removed from her neck but the weight on Jasmine shifted and increased. Now he was kneeling with both knees on her lower back. Angela grunted while he worked. Then the weight lifted from Jasmine’s body. She could breathe more easily.
‘You can turn around now.’ The voice was further away. Jasmine twisted her body, her head spinning, until she was on her back, her bound wrists under her. She pushed her bare feet against the carpet shuffling back until her head touched the bottom of the stairs. She forced herself up into slumped, sitting position and looked at her assailant standing a couple of metres from her.
‘Who did you expect, Detective Constable Jasmine Frame? You get visits like this often do you? Are you kinky as well as a freak?’ There was a broad smile on his face. He was proud of what he had done.
‘What are you doing here?’ Get him talking, find out what his intentions are, think of a plan, that’s what she must do. Angela squatted by her side, glaring at Harris but saying nothing.
‘Ah, now that rather depends.’
‘On how I feel.’
‘The police are after you.’
‘Of course they are. Stephen Parnell told me all about his little stay in your cells and the chats he had with you. The bloody wanker. If he’d done what he was supposed to do you’d never have connected that buggy with him and none of this would have happened.’
Jasmine thought Harris was deluding himself but spoke in as calm and soft a voice as she could manage. ‘So, what can we do for you, Ryan?’
‘Well… perhaps you can get me away from here, or I may just kill you. Sort of get my revenge in before the fuzz get me. They’ll put me away for a while anyway after what happened.’
‘What has happened, Ryan?’
‘Stop trying to speak girly. You’re a fucking bloke like Stephen.’
‘I am a woman, Ryan. You knew Stephen Parnell for a long time. He said you talked a lot so I am sure you have learned the difference between a cross-dresser and a transsexual.’
‘Fucking weirdoes both of you.’
‘You had been his friend, Ryan. Why did you kill him?’
‘He wasn’t my friend. He was one of my, um, subjects.’
Jasmine saw Angela glance at her and raise her eyebrows. What did that mean? ‘Subjects? What do you mean?’ she said. Was she trying to engage Harris in chat?
Harris turned his head to focus on Angela. ‘It’s a hobby of mine. No, a career. I find out about people.’
Jasmine shifted her weight to get more comfortable. The tights bound around her wrists shifted. She stopped moving. Was she imagining it? She tugged again, carefully, making sure that Harris wasn’t looking directly at her. Her wrists parted a couple of centimetres.
‘You find out about people?’ Angela repeated, ‘Tell me about it.’
Harris smiled. He obviously liked to talk about himself.
‘It began when I was kid. Following my sister, copying what she did. Then I started following people in the street, seeing where they went shopping, where they lived. They got used to seeing me around so stopped to speak to me when I said “Hello”.’
‘They became your friends?’
A sad expression crossed Harris’ face. ‘No, not friends. I didn’t want them as friends. I just wanted to learn all about them. When I got a computer I looked for famous people that lived nearby. I didn’t take much digging to find out where they lived?’
‘How did you find out where we lived?’
‘That was easy. Stephen told me all about this freak.’ He nodded at Jasmine. ‘Told me his name. He changed his details recently, electoral role, that sort of thing, but he forgot to keep it private.’ Jasmine recalled filling in the electoral role form along with the many other forms she had to fill in to transition. It had been a boring chore. Had she really been so silly as to make her address traceable?’
Angela got his attention again by speaking. ‘Why did you want to know these celebrities addresses?’
‘So I could go and watch them at their houses. See them come and go. Watch who came to visit them. Find out who they were fucking.’
‘Isn’t that stalking?’ Angela said.
Harris’s face clouded. ‘That’s what the pigs said. A woman, she was on TV, an actress in a soap. Not very good. She complained. I wasn’t bothering her. Just watching. She had a string of blokes visiting her. One day I got inside her house and watched her giving one of them a blowjob.’ He giggled. ‘She never knew that. She thought I just stood by her gate.’
Jasmine tugged on her bonds. The elasticated material stretched but started to slide. She’s tied a slip knot, she thought. Clever girl, Angela. Carefully, she continued to part her wrists.
‘The police arrested you, did they?’ Angela asked.
‘I was still a kid. They warned me off. They only knew about the one woman. She was the only one that had noticed me. I had files on dozens on my computer but the cops never bothered to look.’
‘That was some time ago and you didn’t go to court?’
‘Yeah, about five years. They made me go and see this counsellor. Stupid cunt. Sit in a circle and talk about yourself. Suited me fine. Made up some rubbish about myself while these other twats told me their life-story.’
‘You mean, the counselling encouraged you to carry on stalking people.’
‘She didn’t know. I was a good boy. Did as I was told. But I got to know the others, especially that cock-waving flasher, Stephen Parnell. He was good for me he was.’
‘How did he help you?’
‘He was so desperate to have someone see him when he dressed up and say nice things about how he looked, he did everything I asked. Gave me stuff, let me stay at his place when my bloody parents threw me out.’
‘You took money off him?’
‘He gave it to me. It was hard work saying he looked pretty when he looked a right tosser.’
All Harris’ attention was on Angela now as she engaged him in conversation. Harris sat on the floor, the knife dangling loosely in his hand while he talked. Jasmine continued to pull on the bindings behind her back, steadily pulling the long leg of the tights through Angela’s slipknot.
Angela moved, giving Harris a glimpse of her bare thigh and offering him a smile. ‘What happened next?’
‘Stephen became pretty sick-making. All he wanted to do was dress up as a woman and go out. I wanted a bit of fanny not some aging pervert. But his flashing story gave me a thought. I got him to tell me about the two girls that he poked his cock at. It didn’t take me long to trace them. They were older now of course, tasty tarts. I thought it would be fun to fuck the cunts that Stephen had got his dick out for.’
‘They were attracted to you?’
‘Of course. Ashley first. She’d just had her kid. The bloke wasn’t around. She loved the attention I gave her.’
‘But you dropped her.’
‘Yeah. The kid was a pain. It was starting to crawl around and get in the way. It bawled and puked all the time too.’
‘So you went after the other one.’
‘Yeah. Amber. A bit of a moron. She’d got herself up the duff too. Had the kid to get her own place to live. She was an easy lay. A bit thin. All bones.’
‘Didn’t the child annoy you like the other one did?’
‘Yeah, but it was younger. Stayed in the cot the whole time. But boy, did it cry. I told Amber to shut it up. So she did.’
‘She killed her child?’
‘Yeah. She did it, but my stuff was all over her flat. The cops would have fitted me up for it. I had to think of a story to make the fucking pigs look somewhere else.’
‘So you made up this story about the baby being abducted.’
‘Yeah. Would have worked too, if Stephen fucking Parnell had done what he was fucking told to do instead of dumping the fucking buggy in the fucking river.’
The foot of the tights slid through the knot. Jasmine’s hands were free. She kept them behind her back as she thought about what to do next. Angela had done a great job of getting Harris’ story and distracting him. Now he was worked up, waving the hand that held the knife around. Jasmine reckoned that she probably had one chance to grab his wrist and knock it from his grasp. She had to choose the moment.
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback and e-book from all booksellers including Amazon