We went to see The Danish Girl at the cinema this week. It wasn’t as busy as for Star Wars, surprise, surprise. Actually I wasn’t – surprised, that is. Despite the wonderful filming and costumes and the fine acting by Eddie Redmayne and Amelia Vikander and others, I do wonder how much appeal the film will have for mainstream audiences. It tells the 1920s/30s story of how artist Einar Wegener became Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The transformation is portrayed with little tension or drama despite the extreme threat to Lili’s survival in the operating theatre. It is really a love story – not about the growth and discovery of love but its survival. Einar (Redmayne) and Gerda (Vikander) are very much in love but as Einar becomes Lili she becomes self-centred and focussed on her own gender turmoil. She pushes Gerda away. Gerda is hurt but never loses her love for Einar/Lili and supports her throughout her transition. Trans people, their partners and perhaps their acquaintances can maybe recognise the emotional exchanges but I wonder if those with no experience of transgenderism can understand the urges that Einar/Lili experiences and appreciate the film.
Anyway, for a bit more action there’s Jasmine Frame in Flashlight, the prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design.
Flashlight: Part 14
Like Jasmine, Baker and her two captors stared at the doors. There was another crash followed by the scream of wrenching metal. The doors swung open. The syringe swung away from her arm and the grip on Jasmine’s arms and thighs weakened. She pushed her feet down on the floor and pressed against the chair-back. The chair toppled backwards. Jasmine somersaulted, her dress flopping over her head but she ended up on her feet. She straightened up, her wig covering one eye, and ran around the back of the van. She heard Baker ordering Kel and Hassan forward as boots thudded on the concrete floor and the invading police officers yelled out instructions.
Jasmine crept down the side of the van until she reached the bonnet. The buckled garage doors were open ahead of her. Following the last of the police officers through the gap was Milla. She wore an anti-stab vest over her boob tube and mini-skirt. She saw Jasmine.
‘Jas! Here now. Quick.’
Jasmine ran towards the doors. Milla grabbed her and pushed her through the opening. Outside was a traffic jam of police cars and vans, headlights on and lights flashing. Milla dragged Jasmine between the vehicles to where their own unmarked Ford Focus stood.
‘How. . .’ Jasmine began.
‘No time now, Jas. Take the car. Get home. Change to James then get to the club a.s.a.p. Bring Jefferson and Dick in for questioning. I’ll send you assistance.’
‘But . . .’ Jasmine’s head was filled with questions.
‘Go. I’ll cover you.’ Mill dangled the car keys in her hand. Jasmine took them, got in the car and drove off with tyres screeching.
Two thoughts occupied Jasmine’s mind as she drove home as fast as she dared. How had Milla known where she was being held? Had she given her a way to keep Jasmine secret? She hoped to get an answer to the first question sometime but for now she had to do what Milla had ordered to stand a chance of keeping her transgenderism concealed.
She braked hard outside their apartment block and ran from the car, operating the lock as she did so. Miraculously her small bag had remained dangling across her body despite the gymnastics. She leapt up the stairs to the flat and shoved the key in the lock. In the hallway she pulled off the wig. As she entered the bathroom she tugged her earrings off and pulled the dress over her head. She bent down to spread cleanser over her face and swilled it off with water.
‘Jasmine? Is that you?’
Jasmine rubbed her face as she headed to the bedroom. Most of her make-up had come off –much of it onto the towel. Angela was standing in the doorway, eyes blinking in the light.
Jasmine squeezed passed her. ‘Can’t stop now, Ange. I’ve got to change. Get me a t-shirt, please.’ She undid her bra and the enhancers flopped to the floor. Hopping to the wardrobe as she tugged off one sandal then the other, she pulled out a pair of chinos. With the trousers around his hips James grabbed the t-shirt from Angela’s hands and pulled it over his head. He was leaving the room with one hand holding his trousers up, pushing his feet into a pair of trainers and grabbing his jacket.
By the door he picked up Jasmine’s shoulder bag which had been discarded.
‘Explain later, Ange.’ He staggered out of the flat, leaving the door for Angela to close. Back in the car he did up his trousers and pulled up the fly, then he was off again, racing back to the Marquis. How could he explain this excursion? Would he have to?
James pulled up on the yellow lines outside the club and got out trying to look as calm as he could. There were still two doormen although there were more people leaving now than arriving. James recognised one of the bouncers from earlier in the night but the other was a replacement for Kel. James raised his identity card, retrieved from Jasmine’s shoulder bag.
‘I need to see Mr Jefferson,’ James said. The security men glanced at his card, nodded and stood to one side. James glanced behind to see two uniformed police officers approaching.
‘Are you DC Frame?’ the leading officer said.
‘Yes. Did DC Sparrow send you?’
‘Follow me. There’s two people we need to find to take in for questioning.’
James led the way into the club. The noise was still loud, the lights still flashing and the dancefloor stilled packed with writhing bodies, male, female and other. James and his escort circled the dancers but there was no sign of Jefferson or Dick.
James headed for the stairs. As he began to climb he turned to the following police officers.
‘One of you come with me, the other stay at the bottom and stop anyone else coming up.’
On the top floor, James strode into Jefferson’s office. The club manager was sitting behind the desk. He looked up, at first alarmed and then angry.
‘What are you doing, bursting in here,’ he said in his high-pitched voice.
‘Police, Mr Jefferson. I’m DC Frame,’ James waved his warrant card, ‘We’d like you to come to the station to answer some questions.’
‘Questions? What questions?’
‘About the sale of illegal substances on these premises.’
Jefferson squinted through narrowed eyes. ‘Do I know you?’
‘No.’ James dismissed the question. He didn’t want to get into explaining his prior meeting with the Jefferson when he was Jasmine. ‘Come with us now please.’
‘I’m busy. There’s a club to run. I’ll come and answer your questions later when we’re closed.’
James sighed. He’d hoped that Jefferson would come without argument.
‘I must insist, Sir.’
There was a pounding on the floor behind him. The officer left at the bottom of the stairs burst in.
He spoke through pants for breath. ‘It’s kicking off down there. A bunch of yobs have got passed the bouncers.’
‘What are they doing?’ James asked, his heart beating rapidly. This was unexpected. Where had the yobs come from?
‘They’re beating up the gays and wrecking the place,’ the officer said.
‘I’ve got to stop them,’ Jefferson said rising to his feet.
‘No,’ James held out his hand to prevent Jefferson leaving. The man looked bewildered. ‘I think it’s more than a bunch of gay-bashers. They wouldn’t invade a full club. I think it’s your competition come to mess up your business.’ James turned to the officers. ‘Take Jefferson down the back stairs and out through the yard.’
One officer took Jefferson’s arm and lead him from the room.
‘What are you going to do?’ the other officer asked.
‘I need to find someone else before the attackers get to him,’ James said. ‘Put in a call for back-up. We need support now.’
They parted and James hastened down the front stairs. He paused before reaching the bottom and listened to the noise. Music was still playing but there were screams and the crashes and bangs of wood hitting wood and of chipboard being torn apart. The lights were still flashing and illuminating the dancefloor. James could see arms flailing and people struggling to find the exit. He slid along the wall in the shadows hoping none of the assailants would see him. At the moment they seemed focussed on the bar and the small side rooms.
He reached the corridor that lead to the toilets and quickened his pace. He pushed the door to the Ladies open and found it empty except for Dick, cowering in a corner.
He trembled. ‘W. . who are you?’
‘Police. Come with me. I’ll get you out.’
The young man slowly stood. ‘T. . they’re after m. . me.’
‘You know that do you?’ James asked.
‘I. . I’m trans. They’ll kill me.’
‘They might, but not because you’re TS,’ James said.
‘They’ll murder you for stealing their customers.’
The trans-boy trembled violently. ‘You mean . . .’
‘I think they’re from the other drug gang. Now come with me. I’ve got to get you out of here.’
James stepped forward, grabbed the youth by the shoulders and pulled him upright. He still had his bag of drugs around his neck.
‘Come on,’ James guided Dick to the door. They stepped into the dimly lit corridor. James saw a figure approaching them – bald, t-shirt, jeans, boots – a stereotypical bovver boy homophobe. It was a costume, a cover for the real reason for the invasion. A knife glinted in his hand.
‘Oh, shit,’ James groaned.