An exciting day today with the launch of Evil Above the Stars at Leominster Library. Go to my SF and Fantasy page for more news.
Lots of things happening at the moment, not all writing related, such as saying goodbye to Sally in Tenbury, but as ever Jasmine is on my mind. As I said last week at Wrekin Writers, she’s been in my head for fifteen years or so now. I think I know her well but do her appearances in print as a transsexual detective, reflect her whole personality? I hope so and I hope the prequels being published here fill in her backstory so that the character in the novels is fully rounded. Here’s the next episode from Jasmine’s university years.
Soft Focus: Part 3
Angela took a sip of her wine, then over the increasing volume of Dido, she leant towards Jasmine and shouted, ‘Do you want to be a girl then?’
Jasmine wasn’t sure how she could answer that question in a single audible sentence. She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders.
‘I don’t know,’ she bellowed in Angela’s ear, ‘I like being Jasmine but don’t think I want to go all the way.’
‘You make a good-looking girl.’
A body slid across the floor, demolishing the dancers as if they were skittles. Jasmine tugged Angela out of the way as the figure stopped at their feet. In the flashing lights they could see that it was Silla. Jasmine bent down to help Silla to her feet but she shrugged off the assistance and staggered off shouting expletives. Jasmine saw that they were directed at a group of young men including Andy. They stood in a huddle waving their hands at Silla and shouting inaudibly.
Tiff reappeared at Jasmine’s side. ‘The gays don’t like Silla, either,’ she shouted. ‘They don’t want a guy with boobs, even false ones.’ Tiff was dragged off again by Sid.
‘Shall we go somewhere a bit quieter,’ Angela said.
‘Yes, let’s,’ Jasmine replied and went in search of her coat.
Out in the corridor, the sound level was low enough for Jasmine to be able to think.
‘Where shall we go?’ she asked.
‘Let’s see what the bar is like,’ Angela replied.
They returned to the cavernous hall close to the main entrance with an immensely long bar. It was busy but there were still places to sit and there was not quite enough noise to drown conversation. Angela led Jasmine to a vacant table in an alcove at the edge of the room. Jasmine sat down and moved her chair closer to Angela’s so that they could speak quietly.
‘So, when did you start?’ Angela asked.
The evening passed more quickly than Jasmine could believe. They had each got up to buy drinks and visit the loo, but otherwise they had spent the time sitting side by side listening to each other talk about their lives before university, their plans or lack of them and their likes and dislikes. Jasmine had never known anything like it. Never had she talked so much about herself or listened to another person’s, boy or girl, private talk. At last she realised that the crowd was thinning and that the background music, which she had stopped hearing, had ceased.
‘I suppose we’d better go,’ Jasmine said sadly.
‘Yes, but there’s a big question,’ Angela said with a broad smile on her face.
‘Which one of us is going to walk the other back to their digs?’
It wasn’t a question Jasmine had considered. They had already established that they lived in halls of residence equidistant from the Students’ Union but in opposite directions.
‘If you were a boy you might do the chivalrous thing and escort me home,’ Angela continued, grinning. ‘But since I think I have more experience of being a girl out on the streets at night than you, I think I should walk you back.’
‘Oh, I don’t think you need to do that.’
‘Oh, I think I do. You know that at closing time there will be thousands of drunk students and other kids wandering the streets. Do you want to find your way through them in your short skirt and high heels?’
‘Um?’ Jasmine hadn’t considered getting back to the flat, sort of assuming that Andy would be around, but he wasn’t.
‘Come on. Let’s go.’ Angela got up and pulled her coat on. Jasmine followed, donning her waist length quilted anorak. She was suddenly aware that her long, almost-bare legs were on display and could be a come-on signal for sozzled randy lads. At the exit Angela put her arm around Jasmine’s and set off at a fast walk. Jasmine kept up as well as she could, feeling a little unsteady on her narrow heels.
Some groups of boys appealed to them to join them. In what, Jasmine did not feel like discovering. Others marked their passing with whistles and innuendo but they soon arrived at the door to Jasmine’s block unmolested.
‘I expect the other guys will be in now,’ Jasmine said.
‘I won’t come and meet them then,’ Angela said. ‘See you tomorrow?’
‘Yes. That would be fun,’ Jasmine replied finding that she really did want to see Angela again, soon.
‘We’d better swap numbers so we can arrange when and where,’ Angela said pulling a small flip cover mobile phone from her bag. ‘You do have a mobile?’
‘Yes.’ Jasmine got her older, chunkier model out. They gave each other their numbers and slipped the phones back in their bags.
‘I’ll send you a text message,’ Angela said.
‘Oh, yes, good idea.’ Text messaging was a new experience for Jasmine as she hadn’t had her phone for long and didn’t have a long list of names in her contact list.
James was late wakening and even later rising from his bed. He lay there thinking about the evening just past. The memories were pleasurable on two counts. First he had been Jasmine. It had been a wonderful feeling being out as a girl again after a few weeks stuck as James. Secondly there was Angela. James was experiencing feelings that he’d never had before and reactions to those feelings which were unexpected, such as repeated swelling between his legs. He’d had lots of girl friends before but never a girlfriend. As he had spent so much time thinking of and actually being Jasmine he had thought that he wasn’t attracted to girls, but then again he hadn’t felt any particular attraction for any boys either. Now he was reconsidering. He was attracted to Angela; boy was he! Perhaps being Jasmine was a phase of growing up, something that would fade into his past, some forgotten quirk caused by having an older sister or something. He wanted to meet Angela again, as James, and see whether the rapport they had developed last night was real or just a one-off.
As he finally swung out of bed and contemplated getting a shower his mobile phone made an unfamiliar buzz. He grabbed it from the bedside table. He had a text message, from Angela. He thumbed the keys until the letters appeared on the small screen.
<come here have news>
What did she mean? He clumsily pressed the alphanumeric keys until he had composed the reply.
<on my way what news> He pressed send and tossed the phone onto the bed. The shower was perfunctory, the choice of clothes random and in a few minutes he was out of his room fully dressed in his daily boy gear. There was no sign of Andy or his other flat-mates in the communal living room and he moved swiftly on out of the block. He jogged the kilometre or so to Angela’s hall of residence, reminding himself that he needed to get to the sports facilities to get back in trim and recalling how much he liked the feeling of running.
He couldn’t get in to Angela’s block of course and neither could he remember the number of the flat she shared. He started pressing buttons on the panel beside the door. The first couple didn’t produce a reply. A few seconds after he pressed the third, a voice spoke.
‘Jasmine. Is that you?’
‘James, actually. Angela?’
‘Come on up.’
The door lock buzzed and opened when he pushed it. He climbed the stairs to the first floor and saw a door opening. Angela appeared wearing a fleece dressing gown.
‘James?’ her tone suggested she wasn’t quite sure.
‘I wouldn’t have recognised you, even though your hair really is blonde.’ James brushed his hand through the short hair on his head. ‘And those jeans hide your lovely legs.’ James blushed. ‘Come on in.’
She opened the door wide and James stepped into a room similar to the one in his flat. Sid sprawled on the sofa and Tiff was in the kitchen area doing something at the cooker. She turned and looked at James.
‘Not got your boobs in to day then,’ Tiff said. James felt the blush return. ‘Just kidding. Nice to see the other you. Like a coffee?’
‘Uh, yes please.’ James was feeling mixed up. He wasn’t used to meeting people who had previously met Jasmine. He turned to face Angela.
‘Your message said something about news.’
‘Sid told me just now. Thought you’d like to know since you met her last night.’
‘Silla. She’s dead.’
‘Dead?’ Jasmine was confused. How could the aggressive transsexual who she had spoken to just hours before be dead.
‘Yeah. Dead. Gone to meet her maker,’ Sid said from the sofa.
‘How?’ James was mystified.
‘Jumped off Clifton suspension bridge,’ Sid replied.
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon