All week I have been keeping an eye on a certain e-book supplier (here) to see how Seventh Child (Evil Above the Stars vol.1) is doing. Well it’s not in the best seller list but has moved up and down and up so I presume that means some copies have been sold. Volume 2, Power of Seven will be available soon and then we’ll see what happens.
I’ve been having discussions and giving thought to how I can promote both of my series – Jasmine Frame and Painted Ladies and September Weekes and Evil Above the Stars. The problem is that they are in two different genres with, probably, very different readerships. It has been suggested that I have a website linked to this blog and stick solely to crime fiction and transgenderism i.e. Jasmine Frame, with my fantasy/SF material promoted elsewhere. What do you think?
It was interesting to learn this week that Jasmine (and me for that matter) are no longer allowed to drive in Russia, because Putin’s government have included trans on a list of “medical” conditions that could cause drivers to have accidents. What! How blatant can prejudice be? Well, that’s it. I won’t be visiting Russia (another country crossed off).
So to Discovering Jasmine, a prequel to Painted Ladies. Here’s the next instalment. Let me know what you think.
Discovering Jasmine: Part 5
They were back in the police car, driving out of the town centre, heading home. James felt tired and depressed but he couldn’t stop thinking about Cleo the transsexual.
‘Did you catch the gang that attacked Cleo?’ he said.
The police officer in the front passenger seat twisted to face him.
‘What was that, lad?’
‘Did you get them? The man with the knife and the others.’
The officer shook his head. ‘They ran off when we turned up.’
‘Didn’t you chase after them?’
‘No. Our first responsibility is to the victims. We had to check that you and Cleo were safe and getting the treatment you needed. We try not split up. It’s not like on TV you know.’
‘So the men got away.’
‘I wouldn’t call them men,’ the officer said. ‘From your descriptions, and other bystanders, they were youths, a similar age to you, possibly even younger.’
‘But you will go after them?’ James had the feeling that the police weren’t too concerned.
‘We will be continuing with our enquiries.’
‘What will you do?’
‘Someone will talk to Cleo when she gets home from hospital. There’s a good chance that she knew the boys. They probably live on her estate.’
‘And that’s it. Couldn’t you be rounding up the kids on the estate to question?’
‘Look lad. We don’t go pulling in people unless we’ve got a good idea they are involved in a crime and we haven’t the officers to launch a major inquiry just because one tranny has got himself beaten up. The investigation is live, that’s all, OK.’ The officer turned back to face the front. Holly patted James’ hand.
‘Don’t say anything more,’ she whispered.
‘But…but…’ James wanted to say that Cleo’s life had been threatened and it sounded as if it wasn’t the first time she’d been attacked. Why wasn’t she being protected? Was it all because she was transsexual?
They soon arrived at the dark house. James and Holly got out and watched the police car drive off at speed before they went inside. James trudged upstairs without a word and went to his bedroom. He pulled off the sandals, slipped the remains of Holly’s dress over his head, extracted the one bag of rice and unclipped the bra, then wearing just the knickers went to the bathroom to wash off the make-up. When he emerged, Holly was waiting on the landing.
‘I’m sorry about your dress,’ James mumbled. Holly waved her hands dismissively.
‘I’m not bothered about that. I’m just sorry you got hurt and that your evening out got spoiled.’
James shrugged his shoulders. ‘Yeah, so am I. Look Hol, I really appreciate what you did. You’ve been really great to me, helping me be Jasmine.’
Holly placed her hand gently on James’s shoulder. ‘Look, I’m not sure I fully understand why you want to dress up as a girl but it obviously means a lot to you. We’ll do it again sometime, although with Mum and Dad back at the weekend I don’t know when or how. It may be the new millennium and all that but I don’t think they’ll want to know you’re a transvestite.’
James shuddered. The thought of revealing Jasmine to his parents was scary as was being found out by his mates.
‘Don’t tell them,’ he said hurriedly.
‘Of course, I won’t, James. It’s our secret if you want it to be.’
Holly gave him a quick kiss on his cheek and went off to her room. James pushed his door open, went in and threw himself onto his bed.
Next day was warm and sunny so when James set off for the council estate, shortly after breakfast, he wore a T-shirt, jeans and old trainers. He thought that would make him blend in as he searched for Cleo’s flat. He got off the bus and started walking the streets. There were a few kids on the road kicking a ball around but otherwise there was little movement. Most of the buildings were shabby terraces and semi-detached houses put up in the fifties and sixties. There were scruffy patches of grass or dried mud in front of them where cars were parked or dumped with one or more wheels missing.
He came to a development of four storey apartment blocks. It wasn’t difficult to guess which contained Cleo’s flat. The ground floor walls on two sides of the block had slogans and pictures crudely sprayed on them. “Tranny” and “Perv” were a couple of the legible words and a few fanciful images of penis and testicles. It appeared that someone had attempted to remove most of the graffiti but some looked older than others and more ingrained into the brickwork. A window facing the road was partly boarded up. James walked up the side of the building till he came to a communal door. It opened when he pushed on it and he stepped into drab foyer with a dusty, vinyl-tiled floor. There was a stairs and entrances on the left and right. He chose the left. There was no bell or knocker so he tapped his knuckles on the door. It was a few moments until he heard feet scuffing against a carpet on the other side of the door.
‘Who’s there?’ A voice called out. Neither deep nor high-pitched it was impossible to tell if it was a male or female.
‘Is that Cleo?’ James replied. ‘We sort of met last night; on the promenade; when you were being attacked. I tried to help.’
There was the rattle of locks being undone and the door opened a few centimetres but was stopped by a chain. Half a face appeared, pressed into the gap.
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’
‘I’m James Frame but last night I was Jasmine. I wanted to know if you were OK.’
‘You were the kid who stopped those thugs attacking me?’
‘Yeah. Well, I tried.’
‘Um. Yes.’ It was still difficult for James to admit it to someone else. The door closed, the chain clanked and then the door opened wider.
James noticed Cleo’s head first. Mousy hair flecked with grey covered her ears but had receded from her high forehead. One eye was covered with a patch and bruising showed around it. There was dried blood in a cut on her lip and another bruise on her cheek. Then James looked down and noticed the pressure bandage on Cleo’s right wrist, the short pink vest revealing a paunch and the miniskirt that failed to cover most of her plump thighs. Her legs were bare but she wore high-heeled sandals.
‘You’d better come in.’ Cleo looked over James’ shoulder, obviously checking there was no one else in the foyer, then stepped back into the short hallway. James stepped through the doorway and waited while Cleo closed the door and replaced the chain. Then James followed her through a door into a small living room with a tiny kitchen attached.
‘Have a seat,’ Cleo said sweeping a heap of newspapers off the grubby two-seater settee and shoving a dirty plate underneath it. James sat down hugging himself tightly so he didn’t have to touch too much. The room was a mess, with heaps of papers, magazines and post and piles of clothes, washed and unwashed. It was quite dim despite the bright sunlight outside because half the small window was covered with cardboard.
‘So here you are,’ Cleo began. She tried to speak in the upper register of her voice but every few words it dropped an octave. ‘You can see I’m fine. Just a bit bruised. Is that all you want to know or is it the first time you’ve seen another tranny?’
James was confused. Cleo was suspicious and not very welcoming. Perhaps she had reason to be.
‘I can see you took a hammering,’ he said. ‘Are you sure you’re feeling alright. Can I do anything for you? Go to the shops or something. Those blokes were vicious.’
‘Kids they were. Just fucking kids. I don’t need any help but thanks for the offer.’ Cleo pulled up a dining chair and sat down spreading her legs. James stopped himself from looking up her short skirt at her knickers. His eyes rose to her T-shirt stretched across her high, ample bosom and battered face.
‘One of them had a knife. He took a swipe at me,’ he said.
‘Yeah. The cops asked me about that. I didn’t see it.’
‘The police officer thought you might know them.’
‘They’re probably from around here. I might recognise them. Don’t know their names though.’
‘You get bothered a lot?’
‘Bothered!’ Cleo laughed. ‘Obscenities sprayed on my wall; banging on my door at all times of day and night; stones thrown at my windows, some large enough to smash the glass.’ She pointed to the boarded up window. ‘Followed whenever I step outside the door, name-calling the whole time. Oh, yes, I get bothered.’
Painted Ladies: a Jasmine Frame story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon