Amongst this week’s discussion about the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and continued jingoistic calls to bomb Syria to “end the IS threat” (both miracles of obfuscation) was one little bit of non-news – a preview of the new film “The Danish Girl” with an interview with Eddie Redmayne. That this was on the main BBC news was news in itself – a film about the first surgically gender-reassigned transsexual in mainstream cinemas (we hope). The report focussed on the miraculous change that has occurred in the last seven years. Then there was no interest or money for making the film, now there is and a Hollywood star more than prepared to play the part. It is part of and the result of the remarkable focus on transsexuality by the media, particularly in the last two years. No doubt there will also be discussion (and complaints) about the part being played by a man. Should it be played by a trans-woman? Since apparently a good part of the film is about the subject’s life before the operation then it would be appropriate to use a pre-op transsexual or a cross-dresser in the part not a post-op trans-woman. However, I know of no A-rated actor who claims to be either of those (which is a pity). In the absence of a suitable trans-actor I am quite happy to see Redmayne in the role and in fact he looks fantastic in the few cliups that have been shown so far. So following Spectre and Star Wars, “The Danish Girl” is next on my list of films to watch.
Anyway back to my own transsexual character, Jasmine Frame, detective. A reminder that both novels featuring Jasmine are available in paperback from ellifont (go to the Jasmine Frame Publications page) and on Kindle. Here however is the next episode of the prequel:
Flashlight: Part 8
James had a problem when he got up the following morning. What was he to wear? Being a uniformed officer was simple. He just put on the regulation trousers, shirt and shoes and he was ready. Now though he was a plain clothes detective and he didn’t have much to choose from. There were more of Jasmine’s clothes in the wardrobe than James’ – dresses, skirts, tops, dainty sandals with heels. Apart from a couple of pairs of jeans and casual stuff there was just one formal male suit, a lightish grey. He wore that to weddings the he and Angela were invited to. Their old university friends were getting married at the rate of one or two or year so the suit had a few outings. It was no longer new. There was nothing else; it had to be the suit.
Dressed and breakfasted, James said good bye to Angela and set off for the police station. He thought he was early, it was just after eight o’clock. It was a shock to find the small office they had been allocated filled by DCI Sloane and DCs Sparrow and Money.
‘Ah, Frame,’ Sloane greeted him not too impatiently, ‘we start early here. There’s a lot to get done.
James apologised. ‘Uh, yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir, I’ll be in earlier tomorrow.’
‘Come and sit here, Jim,’ Milla said indicating a wooden chair next to hers. James squeezed passed the desks and joined Milla and Money in a line facing Sloane.
Milla leaned her head towards James and said softly. ‘We’re deciding on our strategy for the day,’
‘How far did you get with the owners of the Marquis?’ Sloane asked Money.
The DC looked at his notes. ‘They’re based in London. They look clean; no sign of any criminal activity. Of course they could just be clever.’
‘Hmm, yes.’ Sloane mused, ‘This Marquis place needs a closer look. I think that’s your job, Sparrow. Take Frame with you. Money, get on to Forensics. I want the detailed report on Peck and that sample that Frame handed in a.s.a.p. Also, Money, you’ve got the contacts. Find out what the established dealers have to say about these deaths.’
‘Yes, Sir,’ Money replied.
‘Now, I’ve got to be elsewhere.’ Sloane lifted his bulk from the chair. ‘Keep me informed by phone.’ He left and pulled the door closed behind him.
‘Off you go then you two,’ Money growled, ‘Leave me with a bit of peace and quiet.’
Sparrow picked up her bag and led James from the office. As James closed the door he said in a quiet voice.
‘Is DC Money OK? He seems a bit, er, grumpy.’
‘That’s Keith,’ Milla said heading off down the corridor. ‘He’s been in this job for quite a few years, considers himself Sloane’s man but has never been promoted to DS. He’s a bit unreconstructed actually; wary of women, not happy about gays and lesbians although he hides it as much as he can.’
What would he make of a trannie, James wondered?
They reached the car park. Milla dug in her bag for the keys and chucked them to James. He was grateful that he caught them.
‘You know where we’re going. You drive.’
They got into the Focus. James adjusted the drivers’ seat but didn’t have to move it much – Milla was no more than an inch shorter than he was. He soon had them moving out into the traffic.
Milla rested back in the passenger seat. ‘Tell me about yourself, Jim. There wasn’t much time yesterday. How long have you been a cop?’
‘Nearly five years. Ever since I finished university. I was lucky enough to get accepted straight away.’
‘So a graduate. You’re ambitious then?’
James glanced at her. She was smiling, so not pissed off because he had a degree and was a supposed fast-tracked entrant. ‘I suppose so. You sort of get on the conveyor belt and go where you’re sent.’
‘But you want to be a detective?’
‘Yes. That’s been at the back of my mind ever since I joined up. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to arise, I suppose.’
‘And now it has.’
‘Yes, but with me moving there is a vacancy. Make a good impression on Sloane and he’ll have you in my place in no time.’
How do I impress Sloane, James thought, and how do I keep Jasmine hidden?
‘I think you mentioned that you’re married,’ Milla questioned further.
‘Yes, Angela. We met at uni., Bristol, got married as soon as I finished basic training.’
‘She’s not a cop then?’
‘No. She’s an accountant. Deals with big companies. Not really sure what she does. She’s up in London quite a lot these days.’
‘Not yet. I think it will be a while before we do. We’re both into our careers, I suppose.’
‘And what do you do when you’re not policing?’
‘I run and we both like films, classics more than blockbusters, and dancing.’
‘So that was why you visited the Marquis, to dance.’
‘Yes.’ James didn’t add that it was mainly a chance to go out as Jasmine.
They reached the area of town where the Marquis was situated and managed to find a parking space. They got out and walked to the front entrance of the former pub. The glass in the windows had been replaced by opaque panels and the entrance was closed and locked. There was no bell or knocker. Sparrow thumped on the wooden door. It was secured firmly so didn’t even rattle and the thud didn’t appear to carry. They waited a few moments but there was no sign of a response.
‘Let’s try round the back,’ Milla said. She set off with James a step behind. They walked around the block and into a narrow lane that led to the rear of the buildings. They came to the Marquis which was secured by a chicken wire fence. A wire gate was open. They entered the yard. On their left was a skip full of cardboard and another for waste. To the right was a heap of crates of bottles and beer barrels. A metal door with an emergency release bar was wedged open.
Milla took her warrant card from her pocket and stepped inside. ‘Hello, anyone there? Police.’
James followed. There was an answering call from inside the building. They followed a short corridor and emerged into the main room of the club that James recognised. There were a few dim lights on but otherwise the room was in shadows.
A young man emerged from the gloom carrying a wide sweeping brush. He was wearing torn, denim shorts and a grubby t-shirt.
‘Hi,’ he said when he saw them, ‘did you say Police?’
James raised his hand to display his card and Mila flashed hers. ‘That’s right, we’re on an investigation. We’d like to speak to the owners.’
The cleaner shook his head. ‘They’re not here. We never see the owners.’
‘A manager then? Whoever runs the place?’
‘Oh, that would be the organisers of the club nights but they’re not here now. It doesn’t open till nine. They won’t be here till later this afternoon.’
‘What about you?’
‘I just clean up. Make sure the place is ready for the next session.’
Milla looked around at the empty dance floor obviously pondering what to do next. The hall looked very different to James without the flashlights and the lasers and the thumping music. There was the usual stale smell of sweat and spilt beer.
‘Do you mind if we look around?’ Milla said although it was not really a query.
‘Yeah, fine. What are you looking for?’
‘We’ll keep that for the manager, these organisers that you referred to.’
The young man shrugged and returned to his sweeping.
Milla turned to James. ‘Show me around, Jim. This is familiar?’
‘Yes,’ James said peering into the darkness at the edges of the room, ‘The DJ plays from over there,’ he pointed, ‘the bar’s at the other end and along both sides there are private, well, sort of private, rooms.’
‘What do you mean “sort-of-private”?’
James hesitated, surprised to find himself embarrassed. ‘Well they’re small rooms with comfy sofas and couches where people go to have, er. . .’
‘Sex?’ Milla grinned, ‘Come on, James. You’re a detective now, you can’t be a prude. People like to have sex in different places and sometimes with people watching. I suppose that happens?’
James nodded, ‘Yes, people wander in and out watching others at it.’
‘Hmm, and sharing drugs?’
‘I think so. Certainly cannabis. Probably other stuff.’
‘And where did they get it. Presumably not at the bar.’ Milla was still grinning, ‘Show me where you met Natalie and this trans-man who sold you the H.’
James lead Milla into the darkness, along a corridor and then through a door into the lavatory. A dim grey light came through a wired window high on one wall. There was a strong smell of urine and other noxious odours. The floor was strewn with towels. James noticed one or two used condoms amongst the debris. Obviously the cleaner hadn’t been in here yet.
James pointed to the row of cubicles. ‘There, the middle one. That’s where they both were.’
Milla stepped forward, pushed the cubicle door open and peered in.
She turned to face James. ‘Hey Jim, this is the Ladies. What were you doing in here?’
James felt a huge heavy lump in the middle of his chest. He couldn’t think of a credible lie but could he trust DC Sparrow?
‘Um, Milla, there’s something I’ll have to explain.’