I’m in one of those periods when there’s a lot on the go but not one main, all-consuming activity. I’ve all but finished a bit of work for an educational publisher; the contract for Cold Fire is signed but I doubt much will happen for a few months; The Brides’ Club Murder is with the printer and I’m working myself up to start the promotion; I’ve started thinking and researching for the 4th Jasmine novel, Molly’s Boudoir; I’ve looked over my talk, Salt, Soap and Soda which I’ve given this week; and there have been tasks for all sorts of different organisations. It’s exciting in some ways but also leaves a feeling of not actually having done much. Writing this blog is the one thing I do every week. Why? Well, I was informed that to sell one’s books one has to have an online presence. This is it, but I’m not sure it has much visibility or penetration of the market. I suppose I am just useless at marketing – that’s a statement, not an excuse.
Another reason for setting myself the weekly deadline of this blog is that I like it. It means I have to think about what to write about (or not as this bit of rambling shows) and most weeks, it means writing an episode of the Jasmine Frame stories. I’ve heard that to become a something like a competent writer you need to have at least written a million words. Well, thanks to nine novels, eleven novellas and uncountable short stories I think I’ve done that. Note, I said competent, not good or best-selling. You need to have learnt something over the million words to become that. I’m certainly not troubling the best-seller lists but hope that my writing has developed. You can tell by reading the next (the fourth) episode of the Jasmine Frame story, Darkroom, below.
Darkroom: Part 4
‘I’m going to have a look inside,’ Jasmine said.
‘Why?’ Angela asked from behind her.
‘Because it’s open. I’m wondering why.’
‘You’ll need this then.’ Angela held out a small torch.
‘Where did that come from?’
‘My bag of course. Real girls keep all sorts in their handbags.’
Jasmine shrugged and took the torch from her, turned it on and directed the beam through the doorway. A narrow corridor was revealed. Jasmine took a step inside.
Then, a sound. Footsteps. Is he coming back? A moan escapes from my throat. What’s he going to do next? Is this it? Is he going to kill me?
‘Did you hear that?’ Jasmine whispered.
‘I don’t know. A sound. Ahead I think.’
Jasmine took a few more steps. The torch lit up another door ahead of them, closed. She reached her hand forward; touched the door. It swung open. The cone of light lit up more dusty floorboards and something else; the legs of a bentwood chair lying on its side, and two other legs.
Jasmine leapt forward to the side of the girl. The torch showed that her wrists were tied to the back of the chair with packing twine.
‘Are you alright?’ Jasmine said, stooping over the girl’s head. The black wig was askew covering her face. She moaned.
‘We need to get her untied,’ Jasmine said, looking at the binding but not sure how to start. The knots looked as though they had been tugged tight.
‘I’ve got a penknife,’ Angela said, digging into her bag again.
‘I need to get a larger bag than this,’ Jasmine said, brandishing her small clutch bag in her hand.
‘Here. It’s not a big one.’ Angela handed her the knife which, with the blade pulled out, was no more than ten centimetres long. Jasmine gave her the torch
‘It’ll do. Shine the light on her wrists.’ Jasmine began hacking at the plastic cords. The blade wasn’t particularly sharp but it took just a few moments to cut through the bindings. The girl’s arms came free and sagged. Jasmine stood up and pulled the chair away. For a moment, she looked down at the girl. Her knickers and what was left of her stockings were around her ankles, but her shoes were still on her feet. Her skirt was pushed up revealing a white expanse of thigh and buttock. She still had her red leather jacket on but it was open and her blouse was ripped open. False boobs poked out from the black lace bra.
‘Are you hurt?’ Jasmine asked leaning down. There was mumble that could have been a no. There was no sign of blood so Jasmine decided to take a risk. She tugged the torn knickers from the girl’s ankles.
‘Help me get her up, Ange. We’d better get her out of here.’
She pushed her arms under the girl’s body and lifted. Angela took her arms and helped her into a sitting position. Together they hauled her onto her feet with their arms supporting her. She lolled against Jasmine’s shoulder.
Almost inaudibly the girl mumbled, ‘You’re not him?’
‘No, we’re helping you,’ Jasmine replied, taking a firmer grip on her waist.
‘Where can we take her?’ Angela asked as they stumbled along the narrow corridor.
‘It’ll have to be the club. There’s nowhere else round here.’
‘We should call the police; and an ambulance.’ Angela added. They reached the door onto the street.
‘Yes, but let’s get her inside first. You can see she’s freezing.’ Jasmine heaved her up and with Angela draping the girl’s arm around her neck they set off up the road to the Engine Shed. They crossed the road to the entrance. The queue had grown and the waiting clubbers stared at them. The security guards saw them immediately.
‘What’s up?’ the elder bouncer said.
‘She needs help. Can we get in, please?’
‘Yeah, of course.’ The guard pushed the queue back and stood to the side of the door as Jasmine and Angela helped the girl through. ‘What happened to her?’ he asked.
‘We don’t know, but she was attacked by someone.’
‘Well, you find the weirdo who did this to her and we’ll sort him out.’
‘Thanks,’ Jasmine grunted as they pushed through the doorway. There was a crowd around the ticket office and cloakroom, and the corridor passed the loos was milling with girls coming and going. The sound of the music seemed even louder than it had been earlier. Jasmine found that her head was spinning so she wondered how the t-girl felt.
‘Let’s get her to a quiet room,’ Angela shouted. ‘Then we can see what she needs.’
Jasmine nodded and they lifted the almost dead weight of the girl. They carried her across the now thronging dance floor to the row of quiet rooms.
Jasmine lowered the girl onto a sofa as Angela pushed the door closed.
‘Are you OK? Did he hurt you?’
There are pins and needles in my hands and arms. The blood returning to my arteries and veins. My wrists hurt where the cords cut in. I push myself into a sitting position. I shake my head. That hurts. Which question am I answering?
‘What’s your name?’ he/she asks.
‘Dave. . .’ I pause. That’s the other me. The one that isn’t pounced on by sex monsters. ‘Diana,’ I say.
‘Diana, I’m Jasmine. I’m with my wife Angela. We’re at The Engine Shed. The Be Club. Do you remember?’
I nod. Yes, I remember. I was on my way to the club. When was that? Eons ago. Before. . .
‘Do you mind me asking? Are you TV, like me, or TS?’
I open my mouth to answer. Nothing comes out. It’s not a question I’ve ever been asked before. I cough and swallow. My mouth is dry.
‘TV.’ It comes out as whisper.
‘Right. Ah, here’s a drink for you.’
The other woman, comes and stands over me. She’s holding a glass of water. I raise my hand to take it but my hand shakes, and water starts to spill. She grabs it and helps me carry it to my lips. I sip the water. It’s cold but refreshing. My head clears a little.
‘Thank you,’ I say. The wife, Angela, sits beside me. The TV, Jasmine is still kneeling in front of me.
‘Are you injured?’ Angela asks.
My whole body aches, my wrists are still sore, the side of my head is tender, but after I explore my senses I decided that physically I’m not badly hurt. But inside I am shaking with fear and anger. I shake my head and take another sip.
‘Can you tell us what happened?’ Jasmine asks, ‘Or do you want to wait to tell the Police.’
I have an image of sitting in a bare room with a policeman asking questions and writing down what I say. The thought appals me. How could I tell a policeman what has happened to me? He’ll laugh and say it’s my own fault for going out dressed as a girl.
‘Not the Police,’ I mutter.
‘OK,’ Jasmine says, nodding her blonde head. Is it a wig? It looks much more real than mine. I realise that my wig is perched on the side of my head. I push it straight. Jasmine smiles at me.
‘That looks better,’ she says. ‘Do you want to tell us instead? You might feel better if you share it.’
Angela puts her arms around my shoulders and gives me a squeeze. I feel her soft, real breast against my shoulder.
Jasmine is right. I should tell them what happened, but I wonder if I can describe it. The shame is numbing. I nod and try to find the words.