A quick bit of promotion. Discovering Jasmine is now on sale as a short e-book. It is available on Kindle for 99p. The story was one of the novellas I serialised on this blog some time ago and in Jasmine’s timeline is the earliest story so far (and likely to remain so) although it is by no means the first Jasmine story I have written.
Jasmine is still very much James, a seventeen year old school student, unsure about his feelings about his gender and experimenting with being Jasmine. The plot of the story concerns the first police case that James/Jasmine becomes involved with when Jasmine ventures outside. It is set in a fictional Hastings where James was brought up but if you come from that area don’t go looking for the “The Safe” or “Hypnotism” night clubs because they don’t exist. The story as been re-edited and tidied up since its appearance here in bite sized episodes, with the addition of a lovely cover by Scott Wood.
Transgenderism is still attracting a great deal of interest. As well as Boy Meets Girl being broadcast on BBC2 (Thursday evenings), last Saturday’s Guardian Weekend magazine had a cover article on child transitions while the Observer Review featured the memoir of a MtF transsexual on the cover. So come on all you media moguls – if trans is the thing why aren’t you snapping up Jasmine?
For information about Jasmine Frame stories including how to purchase them got to the Jasmine Frame Publications page.
Anyway, on to episode 13 of Split Mirror, a prequel to Painted Ladies. Jasmine’s investigations have lead to the arrest of Steve Cox for abducting Diana Stretfield but is that the end of the story?
Split Mirror: Part 13
Jasmine read the final sentence and pressed send. Her report on the Stretfield case was now uploaded to the file but she knew it wasn’t the end of the case, not while Cox was holding out. Heavy footsteps on the thin carpet made her look up to see Tom approaching.
Her heart beat quickened. ‘Has Cox confessed?’ she said.
Tom shook his head. ‘No. He’s in “no comment” mode now. Not giving an inch. Still says you were mistaken and he’s never met the two other women.’
Jasmine felt frustrated. ‘So, what are you doing?’
‘Taking a break. Denise has gone off somewhere. Phoning or having a fag I expect.’
‘We should have questioned him last night, Tom, when he was arrested.’
‘Yes, I know, but it was pretty chaotic then, what with having to get rid of the doggers and clear up that operation.’
Jasmine thumped her desk with her fist. ‘But it gave Cox time to get his story clear. If he doesn’t confess there’s nothing to connect him to those two women.’
‘Unless we find the bodies,’ Tom said. ‘Oh by the way. Denise says that if you’ve finished your report you’re to go home.’
‘There’s nothing more for you to do, Jas.’
‘How about giving me a chance to interview Cox?’
‘You know that won’t happen, especially as he’s saying you assaulted him. Go home, Jas, get settled into your flat. Forget Cox and Denise Palmerston.’ Tom turned on his heels and sauntered out.
Jasmine sat at her desk, fuming and planning all sorts of things to say and do to DS Palmerston. Finally, she breathed out, stood up picked up her coat and bag and headed out. There was no point staying with no work to do. Well, no pressing work that interested her.
The Fiesta lurched into the Friday lunchtime traffic, its cold engine misfiring. On the one way system she had two choices; take the right lane and head back to her flat or the left. She found herself in the left lane and following her route of the previous evening towards the industrial estate. In daylight there was no trouble in finding Cox’s premises, especially as there was a police car and SOCO van parked outside and blue and white tape stretched across the forecourt.
Jasmine parked, got out, ducked under the tape and walked towards the partly open entrance to the garage. She stopped on the edge of the empty painted floor.
‘Hi, anyone there?’ she called. A figure in white overalls emerged from the cluttered far end of the building and walked towards her.
‘DC Frame is it?’ he said in his familiar Welsh accent, peering at her in the dim light through thick spectacles that were about all that could be seen of his face covered by the hood.
‘Rees? I hoped it would be you. Can I come in?’
‘Yes, but don’t touch anything. We’ve done a sweep of the floor; working on the office area now.’
‘They’ve been taken back to HQ to be taken apart.’
‘Both of them?’
‘Yes.’ They walked side by side towards the back of the garage. The rear door was open.
‘Have you found anything?’ Jasmine asked.
‘What do you mean?’
‘To show that Cox had the two other women here.’
Rees Thomas shook his head. ‘Nothing yet, but some of the fingerprints or DNA material we’ve collected may be evidence.’
Jasmine sighed ‘Just one hair or a spot of blood in one of the vans from either woman would be enough to get him.’
‘It looks like he did a pretty good job of keeping that passion wagon of his clean. The stains are pretty recent, probably from the last couple of days when he kept the Stretfield woman in it.’
Jasmine stood in the doorway looking out to the hardstanding where the van had stood.
‘He must have done something with the bodies. I’m sure he killed those women after having sex with them.’
‘We’ll keep looking but there’s no evidence yet that they were ever here,’ Rees said.
The concrete where she had seen Cox about to attack Diana was a clean, bright white. It was a rectangle, about twenty feet by eight, big enough for the Renault Trafic. The rest of the area was the same compressed gravel as the driveway up the side of the building.
‘Why do you think he had this concrete laid?’ Jasmine asked.
Rees shrugged, ‘To stand his van on.’
‘But it’s not really necessary,’ Jasmine said. ‘The ground is firm enough. It looks pretty new, doesn’t it?’
The scene of crime officer, knelt down and looked closely at the concrete. He crawled the length of the hardstanding with his nose close to the surface. At the far end he stood up, straightened and faced Jasmine.
‘I’d say it was all less than a year old and it’s been laid in two sections, the concrete where you’re standing is more recent than this end.’
‘That’s interesting.’ Jasmine said, her brain racing.
‘And there’s something else,’ Rees added.
‘What? Come on Rees don’t keep me in suspense.’
Rees walked towards her. ‘I’d say it was an amateur job. Not laid or levelled by machine.’
‘You mean Cox put it down himself?’
‘To cover something up? Two graves perhaps?’ She was eager for confirmation. It made as much sense as any other story. Cox buried his victims here on his land rather than risk being stopped conveying them to some site out in the country.
‘We’ll have to dig it up to check.’ Rees pushed passed her, back into the garage and picked up his phone from the open instrument case.
Jasmine paced back and for between the narrow kitchen and small lounge. She was impatient for news. The doorbell rang and she leapt to open the door. Was it Tom coming to report?
It was Angela standing in the dark porch.
Jasmine’s greeting was less than effusive. ‘Oh, hi Ange. Come in.’
Angela stepped into the lounge. ‘I thought I’d come and see how you were getting on. Oh. You haven’t unpacked yet.’ She looked around the room. ‘Have you even started? It looks exactly the same as when I left on Wednesday.’
Jasmine looked at the boxes and carrier bags that littered the room. She had felt too excited to even think of unpacking. ‘I’ve been busy, Ange. A case . . .’
‘But you’re home now, off-duty. Do you want a hand?’
‘I may have to go back in. I’m waiting for some . . .’ The mobile phone sang its familiar tune and Jasmine grabbed it from the dining table.
‘Frame?’ It was DS Palmerston.
‘You didn’t go home when you were ordered to.’
‘Ordered? Tom told me I should go home but he didn’t say it was order.’
‘Well, it was. But the scene of crime team told me that you went back to Cox’s garage.’ The pitch of Palmerston’s voice told Jasmine that she was barely restraining her fury.
‘Yes, I did. Has Rees found anything under the concrete?’
‘One body has been uncovered so far.’
Jasmine’s joy was only tempered by sadness for the dead woman. ‘What about Cox?’
‘He has admitted burying two bodies on his land.’
‘Yes!’ She pumped her fist with glee.
‘Frame!’ Palmerston didn’t seem to share Jasmine’s excitement.
‘You will stay at home while DCI Sloane considers what to do about your insubordination.’
‘You heard me, Frame. You’re off duty and you had better think about your future in the V and S C team.’ The call ended.
Jasmine stared at the phone.
‘What’s the matter, Jasmine?’ Angela asked. ‘You’ve turned white.’
‘That . . . woman!’
‘Detective Sergeant Denise Palmerston.’
‘Your boss? What about her Jas?’
‘She’s got me suspended.’
Angela’s hand covered her mouth. ‘Why?’
‘Why? Because she doesn’t like me; doesn’t like trans-women.’
‘Surely she can’t suspend you because of that. You’ve got your rights, Jas.’
‘I know. But that is why she’s trying to get rid of me, marginalising me in the team, stopping me from doing my job even when I’ve helped save a woman and closed a murder case.’
‘You solved a crime, Jas?’
‘Not just me. The SOCO team for a start have done a lot, but Palmerston wouldn’t even have taken the case if it wasn’t for me.’ The realisation of what Palmerston was doing to her finally broke through her anger. Jasmine sagged onto the sofa and sobbed. Angela knelt in front of her.
‘Surely they can’t get rid of you if you’re doing your job successfully, Jas.’
‘I disobeyed her orders, she says, more than once to follow leads. That’s more important to her and Sloane than being successful.’
‘Really, are you sure, Jas. This Palmerston may be against you, but Sloane, well, he may not happy with you becoming a woman but he’s a fair man. Come on. Cheer up. You can sort it out. You don’t want to stop being a police detective do you?’ Angela stood up.
Jasmine sniffed and looked up through bleary eyes at Angela. She loved her job. She loved following clues and hunches. She wouldn’t have been pushed around as a man and she wasn’t going to be pushed around as a woman. She cleared her throat and replied to Angela. ‘No, I’m not going to stop being a detective. It’s what I am.’