I’ve been feeling pain and anguish this week. Mentally, because of the run up to the referendum and the aftershock of Jo Cox’s murder and literally because of a blocked salivary gland (it hurts). As I am writing this on Referendum Day, I cannot tell whether my fears have been averted or not but what I can say is that the last month or two has shown the so-called democracy of the UK to be very sick indeed and, whatever the result turns out to be when you read this, there are some repairs to be made. The legitimisation of bigotry and the hate and fear of minorities that has been aired during the campaign is one thing that makes me afraid for the future. I hope that good old British toleration will re-surface soon. I may have more to say on this in the coming weeks. . .
While my concentration has been broken by stabbing pains to my jaw I have managed to complete what is probably the penultimate part of Aberration, a prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design featuring transgender detective Jasmine Frame.. Warning – there is some violence and strong language. Enjoy!
Aberration: Part 9
Jasmine said nothing, looking at the man and wondering if he had murdered Andy.
‘Nothing to say?’ he said. He pulled a new slim Nokia from his jeans. ‘I’ve been getting calls from my friends around town saying that a girl called Jasmine was looking for me.’ He leaned down and placed a hand on Jasmine’s bare thigh. ‘I get all the attention I need from pretty girls but they don’t usually go round all the pubs looking for me. What’s it with you?’
Jasmine swallowed, trying not to look afraid. ‘I wanted to ask you about Andy Pickford.’
Josh stood up and shook his head. ‘Don’t know the name.’
‘I think you do,’ Jasmine said, feeling more confident. ‘His body was pulled out of the Kennet on Thursday morning. I’d guess, not too far from here.’
Josh shrugged again. Jasmine knew he was feigning incomprehension.
‘And I know you talked to him twice on Wednesday,’ she went on.
Josh frowned, his jaw sagged. Got him, Jasmine thought. He didn’t know I knew that.
‘A right little detective aren’t you,’ he said. ‘Surprising for a fluffy haired little cunt.’
Jasmine ignored the insult. ‘You spoke to Andy twice and a few hours later he was dead.’
Josh snorted. ‘You said, Andy, but that wasn’t her real name. She was Andrea, a fucking girl.’
‘He believed he was a boy. He wanted to be a boy,’ Jasmine insisted.
‘Yeah, he said that. But his parents didn’t know it nor did her boss. I wonder what they would have done if they’d found out.’
‘You were going to out her!’ Jasmine realised what Josh had intended.
‘Only if she didn’t play the game.’
‘Yeah. I gave her the option to join us for, er, a bit of entertainment, or find that everyone knew that she was a sick in the head tranny.’
‘She was worried to death her father might find out. I think she thought he’d beat her up.’
‘Maybe he would have, perhaps that’s why she was so eager to accept my offer.’ Josh was grinning at her now, enjoying recounting his triumph. Jasmine doubted Andy’s enthusiasm.
‘Accepted what?’ Jasmine said in a quiet voice, almost not wanting to know what Andy had let himself be used for.
Josh went on with his story. ‘Just in case she changed her mind I picked her up when she finished work for the night. Brought her back here for a few drinks to loosen her up.’
‘You got her drunk?’
Josh shrugged, ‘A bit tipsy. It made her obliging.’
‘What do you mean, obliging?’ Anger bubbled up in Jasmine’s throat.
‘When we got those jeans and shapeless t-shirt off her she was quite a pretty girl. Nice pair of tits and a juicy slit.’
‘You raped her.’
‘She’d agreed to have fun.’
‘You got her drunk and then raped her,’ Jasmine insisted.
Josh leaned down, face level with Jasmine’s, one hand gripping her thigh, the other, the back of her neck. ‘She was gagging for it. She just needed a cock up her to prove to her she was a girl not a fucking boy.’
‘She was a boy,’ Jasmine spat out, ‘you forced her. She didn’t want sex with you.’
Josh grinned at her. ‘Every girl wants sex with me, you blonde tart. If they know what’s good for them.’ His hand slid a few inches up her thigh under her skirt.
‘Did Andy resist even though you’d got him drunk? Did he not find you irresistible?’
‘When she’d had enough, we dressed her up and put her out.’ His hand crept further up her leg.
‘You mean you dumped her in the river.’
‘She fancied a swim.’
The fingers were in her groin, pulling at the elastic of her knickers. Jasmine bit her lip. She stiffened knowing that she was going to have move in a moment. A finger slipped inside feeling for what wasn’t there. It found something that was. The hand stopped moving.
‘Well, what have we got her? The little girl isn’t a girl.’ The hand withdrew from her knickers and he released her neck. He swung his arm and the hand slammed into the side of her head. ‘Disgusting pervert.’
Jasmine rocked on the chair, her head ringing.
‘Think you can fool Josh do you? You want to be a girl? You want cock. I’ll give you cock.’ He swung a leg over hers and crouched astride her. His hand went to his flies and started to pull down the zip. The other hand grabbed her nick and pulled her head forward. Jasmine put her hands on his chest and pushed but his weight pressed forward.
Some commotion in the hallway filtered through her terror of what Josh was attempting to do. Footsteps approached.
‘Josh! The police are here. They want you.’ That was one of the men who had kidnapped Jasmine.
Josh straightened up, dropping his hands. Jasmine pushed back, gasping for breath to fill her lungs.
‘What they doing here?’ Josh roared and stamped off towards the door.
The window was revealed clear and unimpeded before Jasmine. She didn’t look behind. She didn’t plan. She leapt up, took three steps forward and launched herself through the open frame, arms outstretched.
A glimpse of green then her hands hit the ground. She heard a click in her left wrist and then she was tumbling, somersaulting, rolling over the grass and then tarmac. She lay for a moment on her back looking up at the clouds in the sky. She put her left hand down to push herself up and cried. Pain pulsed up her arm. Her wrist was definitely broken.
Jasmine struggled to her feet. The river was in front of her, a lock to her left. Away to the right was where Andy’s body had been pulled from the water, and the route home. She set off, slowly, limping a little, her left knee felt sore as well as the side of her face and the wrist which she cradled in her other arm. Walkers along the riverside path looked at her, wonder and disapproval in their eyes. She realised that her wig, though still, miraculously, on her head, was lopsided. She guessed that she wasn’t looking at her most feminine or attractive.
It took considerably longer than on one of her runs to get back to the flat. She didn’t feel like running, in fact, walking had become more of an effort than she wanted. There was even a feeling of nausea. At the door she remembered she didn’t have her bag or her door key. Where had that gone? She tapped with her good hand.
The door was opened almost immediately and there was Angela, worry showing in her frown and set mouth.
‘Jasmine!’ she cried, ‘What happened?’
Jasmine staggered through the door. ‘Let me sit down and I’ll tell you.’
Angela took her arm to help her into the room, but Jasmine winced.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘My wrist’s broken.’ Jasmine sank into the sofa and sighed. ‘I had to dive through a window to get away.’
‘From Josh? It was his mates that took you from the pub?’
Jasmine nodded. ‘He did it. He got Andy drunk, raped him and then dumped him in the river.’
‘He told you!’
‘He was gloating. I think he was planning the same for me until the cops turned up.’
‘They did. Good. They didn’t take long then.’
‘Yes. Look let’s get you to A&E and get that wrist sorted and I’ll explain.’
‘I suppose I’d better change if we’re going to see a doctor,’ Jasmine said, reluctantly hauling herself to her feet.
‘I’ll give you a hand.’ Angela knelt to unfasten Jasmine’s sandals, then helped her stand and loosen her skirt. It slipped down over her hips while Jasmine used her good hand to remove the wig.
‘So how did the police know where to come?’ James asked as Angela pulled a pair of shorts up his legs.
‘When I came out of the loo and found you gone I wondered what you were up to but then I saw your bag on the floor and I knew something was wrong.’
‘Good deduction,’ James said as Angela removed his silicone breasts from his bra.
‘That’s when I started making a noise asking the barman and the other people what had happened.’
‘A few people must have seen me being escorted out.’
Angela unclipped his bra. ‘Yes, but they were a bit slow to speak up until I started saying if it was this Josh bloke it was connected to a death.’
‘Yes, well, the barman finally gave in. He knew Josh well but I think he realised that this was one affair he wanted no part of. He admitted that Josh’s mates had taken you out and he gave me his address. I rang the police and asked to speak to Constable Vickers.’
‘The detective I spoke to?’
‘Yes,’ Angela pulled a t-shirt over James’ head taking care not to jar his injured wrist. ‘You must have got him and his boss thinking after you spoke to him yesterday. He was interested to hear about Josh’s contacts with Andy. I gave him the address.’
‘You didn’t mention me?’
‘Not Jasmine. Come on let’s get your wrist fixed.’