As I don’t really follow social media that closely, I hadn’t noticed the waves created by Caitlin Jenner’s transition and exposure. It has apparently set off a fierce battle between the extreme feminists and trans activists. Some have even suggested that Jenner be stripped of the Olympic medals she won as a man because she no longer is. While Jenner’s sexy photo shoot suggests that her experience is somewhat different to that of most trans women and men and indeed other non-binary people I do think that using her as a tool to beat other transgender folk is disgusting. I am getting quite tired of the gender wars and feel that we should all be fighting/arguing for equality and acceptance for all individuals with gender irrelevant. How one dresses and appears should be a matter of personal choice.
Anyway, that’s all the ranting for this week. Here is the next episode of the Jasmine Frame prequel.
Split Mirror: Part 8
Jasmine slipped back into the office and made her way to her desk, keeping her eyes off any of the other occupants just in case they were watching her. She wanted to be invisible or inconspicuous. Sitting in her chair, she focussed on her screen simply checking emails except she wasn’t reading them.
She was thinking about how she could have dealt with Palmerston. If she was a bloke she might have swung a fist at the detective sergeant’s smooth chin. But she had been a bloke, outwardly anyway, and she knew she wouldn’t have attacked a senior officer or anyone else for that matter. She could defend herself and restrain a suspect but violence appalled her, as did macho guys who seemed to think it was the solution to every argument. Of course if she was still a bloke she wouldn’t have been the subject of Palmerston’s vitriol, nor been in the Ladies loo.
If she had always been the woman she believed herself to be or indeed had completed transition so long ago that her trans status was unknown to low and middle ranked officers like Palmerston, she still might have swung at the DS – if she thought violence was the answer. But Palmerston would be more likely to think her an ally in the women’s revolution than a sworn enemy.
Once again, she had to accept that being “in between” was the worst of all possible worlds. Men, heterosexual ones, were wary of her, thinking that she might trap them into homosexual acts. On the other hand, women like Palmerston saw her as a threat to the sisterhood, reinforcing gender stereotypes because she wore skirts and lipstick and stuffed enhancers in the bra that she didn’t need to wear because she had no tits of her own, yet.
Would it always be like this? As long as she remained in the Violent & Serious Crime Unit, while she remained in the police force, she would be known as the tranny-officer and forever side-lined by more senior officers like Sloane and Palmerston. Her chest felt heavy and a tear trickled down her cheek. What was the point of staying in the job?
‘Hey Jas, are you OK?’ It was Tom again. She turned her face towards him letting him see her tear-filled eyes. ‘I thought you’d be happy. We’ve taken on your case. Isn’t that what you wanted?’
Jasmine gave him a thin smile. Yes, of course it was what she wanted. The plight of Diana Stretfield must come before her feelings. She swallowed the lump in her throat.
‘Yes, Tom, it is but Palmerston . . .’ She paused because Palmerston had approached Tom from behind him.
‘Palmerston, what, Jas?’ Tom asked.
Tom jerked around at Palmerton’s call. ‘Ma’am?’ he said.
‘You’re with me. Come on.’ She turned and marched away. Tom leapt to his feet reaching for his coat at the same time.
‘That’s why I’m unhappy. You get to go out while I’m left here,’ Jasmine whispered to Tom’s departing back.
She did have things to do however. She sent emails to the officers in charge of the missing persons in Cardiff and Swindon, informing them of the situation in Kintbridge and making a number of requests for information and assistance. After a few minutes she sat back and thought. It would be a while before she got any responses so what should she do while she waited? Hunger and tiredness made themselves felt and she remembered that as well as not having slept last night she had been at her desk since before six this morning and it was now – she glanced at the big clock on the wall – gone ten. She was entitled to a break and despite what Denise Palmerston might prefer she wasn’t chained to her desk. She could go out in her own time.
She stood up, picked up her bag and collected her coat. Derek Kingston was the only other officer at his desk.
‘I’m going to get some breakfast or lunch or whatever, Derek,’ she said as she passed him.
‘OK, Jasmine,’ he replied in a friendly manner. Derek was one officer, other than Tom who treated her like a real person and a member of the team, perhaps because he had experienced some prejudice as a young, black PC.
The canteen was the nearest source of food but she couldn’t face mixing with the other officers today nor the greasy bacon and fried eggs. Instead she headed out into the town. As she stepped through the entrance to the police station an icy blast of February air hit her. She wrapped herself in her coat and strode out quickly, the exercise warming her and starting to take away the depression that Palmerston’s attack had left within her. She reached the main shopping street and walked down it to her favourite café. It may be one of a nationwide chain, but the staff were always pleasant and it was usually fairly busy so she didn’t feel too exposed. This morning it was quite quiet and there was no queue to order her usual black coffee. She also ordered a cheese and tomato baguette as hunger was making her dizzy.
There was a vacant seat at a small table hidden in a corner which she went to and made herself comfortable. She sipped her coffee while she awaited her food thinking about what Diana Stretfield might be going through, if she was actually still alive. What was the purpose of the van driver’s visits to dogging sites? Was it to find a willing subject for public sex who he then persuaded to go with him, or having lured the subject into his van did he drive off with them against their will? Once he had the subject alone in his van, what did he do next? Kill them and dispose of the bodies or keep them for his private pleasures, at least for a time? No bodies had been discovered that matched the Cardiff and Swindon abductees but that didn’t mean much. There were plenty of ways of disposing of bodies so that they wouldn’t be found. Whatever she thought of Sloane and Palmerston, their demand that she should find that white van was the key and she didn’t know how she could do it.
Her baguette arrived and she was biting into it when her mobile phone rang. She dug it out of hr bag conscious that other customers were looking at her. The number was unfamiliar.
‘Hello,’ she said trying to keep the pitch of her voice slightly raised so that she sounded feminine, ‘this is Detective Constable Jasmine Frame.’
‘Jasmine. That other detective has been to see me, the one that was with you that didn’t seem interested.’ It was Debbie Stretfield and she didn’t sound very happy. ‘There was a tall man with her.’
‘That’s right, DS Palmerston and DC Shepherd have taken on the case,’ Jasmine replied as sweetly as possible.
‘Well, that woman told me that our car has been found near the motorway at a place where people go for sex and that was why Diana was there. She said Diana has probably been abducted.’
‘That’s what we think happened, Debbie.’
‘Did you know any of this last night when you came to see me?’
‘I wasn’t sure about it and didn’t want to worry you unduly,’ Jasmine replied realising that she wasn’t being completely honest.
‘You’re like Diana, Jasmine. I want you to explain to me what Diana was doing.’
‘I . . .’
‘Not on the phone. I want to see you.’
She couldn’t refuse the woman could she? Even if it meant disobeying Palmerston again.
‘OK. I’m in town. Come and join me for a coffee.’
‘I haven’t got a car. The woman detective said that the police would be keeping it to examine it for evidence.’
Jasmine had forgotten that the old Micra was the Stretfield’s only car. ‘Alright, I’ll drive out to you but meet me where your road meets Reading Road.’
‘Why don’t you come to my house?’
She didn’t want there to be any chance of Palmerston or another police officer seeing her with Debbie.
‘I’ll explain when I meet you.’ She would have to think of some excuse.
‘Alright then. Soon?’
‘I’m on my way.’ Jasmine ended the call, gulped down her coffee and stuffed the baguette wrapped in a paper napkin in her bag. She hurried from the café, and walked as fast as she could without breaking into a run and making a spectacle of herself. Back at the station, she went straight to her old Fiesta and drove onto the Kintbridge one way system.
It only took a few more minutes to get onto Reading Road and she saw Debbie waiting on the corner of the road leading into the housing estate. She pulled up and leaned across to open the passenger door. Debbie Stretfield got in and looked at her suspiciously.
‘Why didn’t you come to my house?’ Debbie asked as Jasmine re-joined the traffic heading east out of the town.
‘Because DS Palmerston doesn’t like me meeting people,’ Jasmine had decided to tell the truth.
‘Because you’re TS?’
‘Does she know you visited me last night?’
‘Yes. That’s why she’s been forced to take up the case. It was me that found out what Diana has been doing and what might have happened to her.’
‘Yes.’ Jasmine described what she had done and found out after their previous conversation.
Debbie listened silently but Jasmine glanced at her a few times as she drove on seeing a range of emotions pass across her face from anger to sadness.
‘Thanks for being honest with me, Jasmine. Your sergeant didn’t explain much. Do you have any idea why Diana visited this sex place?’
‘I don’t really, I’m sorry,’ Jasmine said, ‘I haven’t completed my transition yet so I don’t really understand why Diana was so desperate to have sex with men. But I think that was the only reason she visited the site. She didn’t have any sort of relationship with any one person.’ Jasmine didn’t add that she couldn’t imagine exposing herself to the dangers in the way that Diana had.
There was silence for a few moments then Debbie spoke. ‘One thing your detective did mention was a white van, a tall one.’
Jasmine stared at Debbie almost forgetting the road in front of her.
‘She told you about it?’
‘Yes. Just said that it had been seen at this place Diana went to.’
‘Well, I’m sure I’ve seen a van like that on our estate.’
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including amazon