Juggling lots of different activities this week. Sending off packages containing Bodies By Design – yes, there have been sales (get your copy now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and look at the Jasmine Frame Publications page for prices); sorting out business for various committees, getting ready for the Applefair in Leominster (books for sale); writing some science stuff; and writing the first episode of the new Jasmine Frame prequel, Flashlight. This one fits in just before Blueprint which was the very first prequel I wrote. What I have not been doing is writing the next Jasmine Frame novel. I will get round to it, I promise.
So, here is the first episode of Flashlight. Hope you like it.
Flashlight – part 1
The beat of “Day ‘n’ Nite” crashed through Jasmine’s head. In the brief flashes of light she watched Angela’s face change to blue, red, yellow, purple, green. Angela’s eyes were closed as she danced to the pulse of the music. Jasmine ignored the hot press of steaming bodies with their mix of odours of sweat, perfume and other substances not so legal. She was simply enjoying being with Angela and being herself. The nylon fringe of her dress brushed against her bare thigh, rising and falling like the long tresses of her wig. She didn’t mind that her foundation was bubbling and her eye shadow slipping. She was enjoying being female and out with her wife.
There had been no thoughts of a night on the dancefloor when James got back to their rented flat. It had been a long shift and it was already eight p.m. He dropped his bag and shrugged off the blouson he’d worn to and from the police station.
‘Hi, James,’ came Angela’s call from the living room. James pushed the door open and stepped into the cramped space. Angela was sitting at the dining table working on her laptop as she had been most of the time she was home in recent months.
James sank into the saggy sofa, let out a sigh of relief and closed his eyes. ‘How are you getting on, Ange?’
Ange closed the laptop. ‘I’ve had enough of corporate takeovers.’
James’ eyes opened and stared at her. ‘Don’t you have an exam soon?’
‘Yes, next week. But I’ve done enough for now. I seem to spend all my time in front of a screen. I want a change. How about you?’
‘Yeah, and a lot of tramping around the countryside.’
‘Looking for a bunch who’d been fooling around at a lock on the canal and killed a swan.’
‘Killed a swan? Don’t they belong to the Queen?’
‘Something like that. This one got eaten. They’re probably travellers.’
‘So you’ve been walking the towpath?’
‘Yes. All the way from the edge of town to Theale and back.’
‘Did you find them?’
James sighed. ‘Nope.’
Angela stood up, and took a step towards James and knelt in front of him.
‘I’m sorry you’re tired but I was hoping we might go out this evening?’
‘Out? It’s Wednesday. There’s work tomorrow.’
‘Yes, but you’re on a late and I’m on a study day. We could lie in a bit.’
Angela had obviously been waiting for his return to present her plan.
‘Where do you want to go?’
‘I found it on the internet today.’
James grinned. ‘When you were supposed to be revising?’
‘Yes. It was boring.’
‘What did you find?’
‘There’s a new club and tonight they’re having a transgender night. Well, it’s every Wednesday actually.’
‘A trans dance night?’
‘Where is it?’
James frowned. ‘I thought that place closed.’
‘It’s reopened. Had a makeover. Website looks pretty cool. They specialise in dance music.’
‘Oh,’ James was tempted although his legs protested that they didn’t need any more exercise.’
‘Come on James. You know you love to dance. I do too. And there’s that new dress you bought.’
‘Ah yes,’ James thought of his latest impulse buy. An up to the minute flapper dress in silver satin, with a long fringe and little else to cover the legs. ‘It’s in town. What if I’m seen?’
‘Can you see any of those blokes at the station going to a trans session at a club.’
‘Well then, even if we did see someone we know they’d hardly recognise you dressed. You know you can pass.’
James really did like Angela’s idea but he felt drained at the moment. ‘I need something to eat before we go though. I’m starving.’
Angela stood and headed towards their tiny kitchen. ‘I’ll fix you a toastie. Now go and start sorting yourself out.’
James hauled himself out of the settee and began undoing the buttons of his short sleeve uniform shirt.
‘Do you think that dress will be okay for an evening out?’
‘It’s perfect and it’s been a lovely day so you won’t be cold getting to the club. You won’t feel cold at all once we start dancing.’
It had taken less than an hour for James to shower, shave, eat the toasted sandwich, dress in bra, knickers and “the dress”, put on her make-up and wig and fasten the high heeled sandals to her feet. Angela had taken even less time to transform her appearance. Once they were out of the block of flats Jasmine felt able to relax. Now they were just two young women heading off for a night’s entertainment but she still worried in case any of their neighbours saw this tall, rather boyish, figure and matched it with PC James Frame of the Reading Constabulary.
“Show me love” started to fade out as the DJ announced a change of mood – a bit of nostalgia. The familiar intro to Abba’s Supertrooper began. There were cheers from some of the older dancers. Rather deep-voiced cheers. Jasmine leaned, just a little, and bellowed in Angela’s ear.
‘I need a break, and a drink.’
Angela nodded, grabbed Jasmine’s hand and guided her between the packed bodies beyond the edge of the small dancefloor to the bar. Angela quickly attracted the attention of a barman. He was wearing a yellow strapless dress and blonde wig but his dark beard gave him away.
‘What can I get you girls?’ he asked.
‘Two large glasses of water, please,’ Angela replied.
Having gulped down half her glass, Jasmine put her head close to Angela’s. ‘The dancefloor is smaller than it used to be, isn’t it?’
Angela looked around. ‘Yes. They’ve put in all these extra rooms.’ She pointed to the closed doors to the left and right.
‘What are they for?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Do you really need to ask?’ Angela giggled. ‘You can be naïve at times, Jas.’
‘You mean, drinks and music aren’t enough these days.’
‘You’ve got it Jasmine, The website made a lot of their cosy “quiet rooms” for intimate liaisons.’
‘But they’re not private. I’ve seen people coming and going from them.’
‘No. People can watch as well as take part.’
‘Cheap entertainment,’ Jasmine said.
‘That’s it. Low costs, high income. Look at all the people here tonight. They’re not all trans.’
‘The Marquis never used to be this full.’
‘No Jas, which is why it closed. The new owners have a revised business plan.’
‘You’re not studying now, Ange.’
‘I’m like you, Jas, never off-duty. Not completely.’
Jasmine breathed deeply. Angela was right. She often brought work home. She shouldn’t, she knew, but some of the incidents she was called to just had to be talked through to make them understandable.
‘I need the loo,’ she said.
Angela nodded. ‘OK. Take care. The ladies will be busy.’
‘Yes, it’ll be full of women and men playing at being women – like me.’
‘Well, no, practicing maybe.’
Angela grinned as Jasmine moved away looking for the signs to the toilets. She found the ladies quickly enough and when she opened the door she saw that Angela’s prediction was correct. Although the light was dim it was, unlike the dancefloor, constant so she could instantly make out the figures at the wash basins and the mirrors. Some were obviously men in dresses repairing their heavy make-up, but for most it was difficult to tell their genetic gender. It wasn’t the ladies attending to their cosmetics that took up the space however. There was a couple pressed against the wall snogging; a person in a dress not unlike Jasmine’s, on her knees with her head moving back and for against the groin of another “girl” who had her skirt hitched up to her waist and her knickers pulled down to her knees.
Jasmine pushed open the door of the nearest cubicle and dimly saw a pair of bare buttocks, tensed as their owner thrust against a figure bent over the loo. She pulled the door closed and moved to the second cubicle. It too was occupied. A slim, girl with short spiky black hair was sitting on the seat, but from the state of her dress was not engaged in any toilet activity. There was a wad of banknotes in her lap and a handful of small clear plastic bags in her hand.
‘Hi, love,’ the girl said, ‘Are you buying?’
Jasmine drew back and hurriedly shut the door. She was off duty. She didn’t want to get involved with a drug dealer, not tonight. Two people emerged from the third cubicle and Jasmine gratefully pushed passed them to get into it. She locked the door, pulled up her dress and tugged her knickers down. She sat.
‘I’ve been offered drugs,’ Jasmine shouted into Angela’s ear.
‘I wondered what took you so long. What was it? Skunk?’
‘No, Heroin or cocaine I think. I didn’t hang round for long enough to take a close look.’
‘Are you surprised, Jas?’
Jasmine thought about what she’d seen and wondered what her position as a police officer was. Should she report that she had witnessed drug dealing to say nothing of public displays of sexual activity? But it probably counted as normal for 2009. If she reported it she would have to explain why she was attending a dance-night for trannies. She hoped her next visit to the Marquis would not be in uniform on a raid.