I read last week that a US toy manufacturer is producing a doll modelled on a well-known teenage trans-girl. I think it’s great that the girl has got recognition for her struggle to be recognised in the gender she identifies with but I wonder – how can you tell the doll is trans? The pictures show a feminine face and hair-style but what about the model of her body? In my limited experience, boy and girl dolls are equally lacking in genitalia although the female version may have breasts. So does the trans doll come with a mixture of male and female clothes and tiny enhancers to fill the doll-sized bra. I wonder how often children who have Barbies and Kens play cross-dressing games. What does Ken look like in a dress and Barbie in an Action-Man outfit? What other trans icons could be put out as models, perhaps like Star Wars figures rather than dolls – Grayson Perry, Caitlin Jenner?
I’m being facetious, I know. There are far more serious issues facing trans-people, particularly in the US. I have just read that Trump has withdrawn Obama’s Federal guidance that held back the States wishing to ban trans-people from the washrooms that they feel comfortable using. Is it the beginning of a fundamentalist backlash against LGBT?
I’ve decided to open up a new occasional page for my rants about the state of the world – got to the “PRE on the World” page if you want to read them.
Jasmine Frame in The Brides’ Club Murder
Watch this page for the publication of The Brides’ Club Murder: the 3rd Jasmine Frame novel scheduled for the first week of March with a special offer on the paperback edition of Painted Ladies.
And so to the latest, that is, the fifth, episode of Darkroom, the Jasmine Frame prequel. What is Jasmine getting into?
Darkroom: Part 5
‘Should we call an ambulance for her?’ Jasmine said softly.
Angela shook her head. ‘I don’t think so. I think she just needs to gather herself.’
‘But we need to find out what happened to her so we can so something.’
‘Give her time, Jas.’
Jasmine bit her lip. ‘We saw you on the tube,’ she said to Diana.
Diana swallowed and spoke in a cracked voice. ‘I remember you too. I thought you both looked pretty and I wished I could look like you.’
Jasmine was pleased that at last Diana had responded. ‘We thought you were on your way here like us, but we lost sight of you in the street.’
Diana nodded. ‘It was cold. I was hurrying. I didn’t see him until he grabbed me and pushed me through the door.’
‘He was behind you? He followed you from the station?’
Diana shrugged. ‘I don’t know where he came from.’
‘What did he look like?’ Jasmine leaned forward to hear Diana’s whispered reply.
‘I don’t know. I didn’t see him. It was dark inside.’
‘Yes, I know.’
‘He had a torch. He shone it in my eyes. I couldn’t see anything.’
‘He was alone?’
Diana nodded. ‘I think so. I didn’t hear anyone else.’
Angela listened as Jasmine continued to question Diana. ‘What happened when he got you into the building?’
‘I . . . I was scared.’
‘He dragged me into the room and pushed me onto the chair.’
‘The chair was there in the middle of the room?’
‘Yes, yes, I think so.’
‘Then what did he do?’ Jasmine asked.
Diana sobbed, her words emerging in a broken gurgle. ‘I just like being a girl. I’m not gay.’
Angela hugged her tighter. ‘Yes, yes, we understand. He abused you?’
Despite her head being held firmly in Angela’s arms, Diana nodded.
‘OK, we don’t have to go into all that if you don’t want to,’ Jasmine said realising that she was sounding like the police officer she was in her male life. ‘When he’d, um, finished, what happened.
Diana sniffed. ‘He knocked me over and kicked me. That’s all I can remember until you came. I think I was unconscious.’
Jasmine nodded. ‘And that’s how we found you. I wonder how long it had been since he left?’
Angela released her grip on Diana, allowing her to breathe and sniff wetly.
‘He just left Diana there. He could have killed her with that kick to the head but he didn’t care,’ she said.
‘Yes, but he had it all planned,’ Jasmine agreed. ‘He must have had that dark room in the warehouse prepared with the single chair and the entrance door unlocked. Then he waited at the station until a likely target came along. He chose the time before the club filled up when the street from the station was pretty quiet and dark.’
‘He was waiting for Diana?’
‘Someone like her – young, trans, alone, nervous.’
‘He was taking a risk.’
‘That’s probably part of the fun for him. Having chosen his victim, he follows her and times his attack just as she reaches the door of the warehouse. Provided there’s no-one really close he’s got her inside unnoticed.’
‘If we’d been a bit quicker and right behind Diana, he wouldn’t have got away with it,’ Angela said, the regret obvious in her voice.’
‘No. He would have given up on Diana and gone back to wait for another target. Maybe there wouldn’t be anyone suitable.’
‘That would be frustrating for him.’
‘Yes. Perhaps he has a plan B. Another way to find a tranny to molest.’
‘Is this the injured girl? She rushed towards them and knelt, the split in her dress parting to reveal her smooth, nylon-sheathed legs.
‘Yes,’ Jasmine replied, ‘This is Diana. She was on her way here at the same time as us but was attacked and dragged into the warehouse on the other side of the road. He abused her.’
‘That’s dreadful. Are you calling the police?’
‘Diana doesn’t want to; not yet.’
Debs let out a sigh of relief. ‘Hmm. I don’t really want the cops prowling round here but I like the idea of sex-maniacs lying in wait for our girls even less. We have to do something.’
‘Diana couldn’t see him so we’ve no description of the attacker. Of course, there may be semen on Diana’s clothes or on the floor of the warehouse where he attacked her. The police may be able to get a DNA match.’
‘If we informed them,’ Debs added.
‘Do you think Diana is his first victim?’ Angela asked.
Jasmine looked at Debs waiting for an answer. She thought then slowly shook her head.
‘I don’t know. I haven’t heard of anything like this, but perhaps his other victims don’t want to talk about it either.’
Jasmine spoke, ‘He left Diana for dead. There was no way she could have freed herself if we hadn’t found her. Even if it is the first time he’s tried this stunt he knows this area and I’d say he knows this club and its patrons well.’
Debs looked surprised. ‘You mean he’s a regular?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘I don’t know about that but I’d say he knows about the girls who come here, what time the place gets busy. Perhaps he has tried picking up trannies here to get a bit of what he wants.’
Debs shook her head, ‘I can’t believe it. Yes, I know we have “the admirers” who come to court the girls, and yes, a bit of, er, intimate behaviour goes on in these quiet rooms. It’s what some of the girls come for; to play out their fantasies of being desirable sex objects.’ Her face darkened. ‘But I’m not having someone coming to my club and forcing themselves on my girls.’
‘Good, but identifying him is the problem,’ Jasmine commented.
Debs stood up. ‘Look, I’ve got to go. It’s nearly time for the live entertainment and I have to do my compere bit. Look after Diana and I’ll come back and see you shortly.’ She turned and left giving them another burst of dance music as the door opened and closed.
Angela looked at Jasmine. ‘Do you think the guy who attacked Diana comes here to meet TVs?’
‘I’m sure he’s been here on several occasions. The question is, where is he now?’
Diana shivered. ‘I feel sick.’
Angela leapt up and threw her bag over her shoulder. ‘Oh, I hope it’s not concussion. Let me take you to the loo.’ She gripped Diana’s arm and helped her to her feet. The two of them staggered to the door.
‘Shall I come too?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Call an ambulance. I don’t want Diana collapsing on us.’ They left the room.
Jasmine sat in the dimly lit room and took her mobile phone from her clutch bag. There was no signal. She stood up and walked to the door to the adjoining room staring at the small screen. There was no change so she carried on walking from one small, dark, quiet room to another. A couple of rooms were occupied by shadowy figures engaged in soft chatter, snogging and fumblings under clothes but Jasmine barely noticed. She continued in her quest for a signal.
She turned a handle and pulled the door open. The next room was darker than the others. She stepped into it and let out a small cry of joy. She had a signal. The door closed behind her. The only light was from the screen of the phone. She tapped one nine, then another, then the phone flew out of her hand as something slammed against her wrist. She gasped and looked up. A bright torch light shone in her eyes.
A soft, smooth voice of a man spoke from behind the light. ‘Well, what have we got here, said the spider to the fly.’