Jasmine bides her time

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“Meet the Author” at Wellington (Shrops) Library.

I’ve been reading Grayson Perry’s book Descent of Man. Some people may wonder at a transvestite commenting on the crisis in masculinity. He does, in fact, refer to his lifetime of dressing in female clothes and how this gives him a perspective on the life of a male. I agree with a lot of his points. With the suicide epidemic and mental health issues among men, the poor educational performance of boys, the rise of gang culture and its associated violence, it is obvious that men are in crisis. Perry rightly explains the problems as being due to the change in employment opportunities for men – the loss of physically demanding manual work – and the changes in society as a result of progress in equality (of all minority groups).  He is also correct that men are disadvantaged by their failure to accept equality of women and by sticking to old stereotypes; a world of equality would be, if not a utopia, at least an improvement on today’s environment.  However I lack Perry’s optimism that men are changing and that the adjustments necessary are happening.

Yes, there are more men who share child-rearing, household chores and other “feminine” roles. Yes, many men accept women as their equal, and transgender/non-binary people as “normal”. But, and this is the big barrier to entry to that wonderful fantasyland of equality, a sizeable number, majority or minority I’m not sure, of men do not accept those things even if they make a pretence of doing so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia (to ignore, for now, other prejudices) lurk just below the surface and can leap out to bite you given the slightest excuse.

I think it is clear that all the so-called “populists”gaining power around the world at present are unreconstructed cavemen at heart. They want a return to the “golden days” where “real” men controlled everything and everyone, when women knew their place and spent all their lives in child-rearing and drudgery. They’d like to see weirdoes like gays, trannies and people of different races confined to ghettoes or not suffered to live.

The fact that so many authoritarian males have seized power recently, the USA, Russia, China, Hungary, Turkey to name just a few, should be a warning to us that the gains in acceptance and equality of the last seventy years are not secure. The backlash starts with little things e.g. The US government refusing visas for unmarried partners of embassy workers when gay marriage is still not permitted in many states; in the UK it is now permissable for shopkeepers to refuse to serve you if they don’t like your message even if it is not abusive or threatening; increasing arguments about the use of gendered toilets by trans people, and so on.

To oppose the rollback of equal rights, minorities must show solidarity with each other. In this situation women are a minority as much as the transgendered.

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A reminder, that Molly’s Boudoir will be published soon. To get a free pre-publication e-book copy in return for a launch day review, write to me here.

This week I was asked if all the Jasmine Frame stories involved a murder of a transperson. Well, yes and no. When I began writing Jasmine stories I realised that she needed an emotional involvement in her cases.  That means that each plot, each murder, should have some gender identity component. But gender questioning covers a whole lot of different issues and  I have tried to make each of the Jasmine stories quite different. Here is a brief (and not comprehensive) guide to different “flavours” of gender identity issues.  Can you guess which stories each is found in?

transgender – a general term for everyone who has gender identity questions.

transsexual (transwoman, transman) – a person who feels that their gender identity is different to the sex assigned to them at birth.  They may or may not transition to live in the gender they identify with and may or may not proceed with medical and/or surgical treatment.

transvestite – a person who enjoys wearing female clothes either privately (sometimes secretly) or in public but does not live permanently as a woman. Originally the term implied a fetish for female clothes. Cross-dresser is a synonym which lacks this psychological definition. Some transvestites have an attraction for particular items of female clothing such as corsets, wedding dresses, high heel shoes.

draq queens – people (mainly men) who dress in an exaggerated form of female attire usually for entertainment purposes. They may be gay or straight, but are not often transgender.

she-males – men who dress in female clothes and may live as women but retain their male genitals to have sexual intercourse with men or women. Some may have breast enhancement to give themselves a female figure.

sissy – men who are forced (usually willingly) to wear certain forms of female dress e.g. French maids, tarts, little girls.

gender fluid/gender queer/non-binary/androgynous – a person who does not accept the binary nature of gender, rejects male and female stereotypes, and may adopt an appearance that is both male and female or neither.

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Jasmine needs reviews

Layout 1I am reversing things a little this week to make an appeal for reviews of the Jasmine Frame books. As I have reported previously, the next novel, the 4th, Molly’s Boudoir, is about to be published.  I am hoping for a launch date for the e-book and paperback around the end of November – just in time for Christmas!  I’d would really like to get some publicity on Amazon for this event and that means getting reviews. First of all, if you have read any of the existing three novels or the three novellas then please, please write a review on Amazon. For Molly’s Boudoir, I will send a prepublication pdf version free to any of you who contact me, in return for a review on the publication date.  Send me an email here if you’d like to take part.

The Jasmine novels are set in and around the town of Kintbridge.  In Molly’s Boudoir the main action takes place in the small town of Thirsbury, west of Kintbridge.  Kintbridge is a fictional version of Newbury in West Berkshire and Thirsbury is modelled on Hungerford.  All the locations in the books are based on real places but I give them different names so I can make small changes to suit my plot. It also doesn’t help that the town centre pub mentioned in Painted Ladies disappeared a few years before I published the novel because the whole area was redeveloped into a new shopping centre. For me Kintbridge is still the Newbury of the 2000s.

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I have never understood hate aimed at groups of people that share a characteristic whether it is racism, homophobia, transphobia or whatever. There are individuals that one doesn’t get on with or dislikes (I can’t think of anyone at the moment), but not whole groups, with the exception of the Brexiteers in parliament, Trump supporters in the Republican Party, and  autocrats running various countries. When I say “understood” perhaps I mean “don’t empathise with” because that sort of hate is, I think, a sign of weakness. Misogyny is one such hate. Are some men so fragile that they cannot bear a woman to match, or exceed them in any way? To hate half the human race seems to me to be an admission of inadequacy. And yet it is still very common and indeed with the rise of the populists/autocrats, is increasing. It is not just a feature of the alt-right. The Soviet Union made much of giving roles to women that were unknown in the west at the time – engineers, pilots, cosmonaut – but how many women did we ever see in those pictures of the leaders of the politburo watching parades at the Kremlin.  There are as few prominent women at the top of the Labour Party as there are in the Conservatives. I would like to see true equality where the gender of any individual is an irrelevant factor in anything that they do or say.

WP_20180913_14_43_11_Pro (2)Another hate I despise is that which suggests that giving trans people rights somehow lessens the rights of women. A piece on the Thursday PM on Radio 4 was, I feel,very one-sided. A male spokesperson for the radical feminist view that transwomen are not women was allowed to spout his distortions of the truth while Ruth Hunt of Stonewall was berated for not controlling trans-activists who respond to this garbage. Hunt pointed out that Stonewall policy was to support the current law of the land i.e. transwomen in possession of the Gender Recognition Certificate are legally women in every respect. This was the first time that I have felt that the BBC did not stick to its famous “balance”. A warning – denying that trans-people have particular rights denies every individual the right to be themselves.

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Jasmine in limbo

I worry about idolatry. (I’m also worried about May’s Brexit debacle and Trump’s UN performance, but those are for another day, perhaps). The way in which (new) Labour party members hero-worship Jeremy Corbyn is the cause of my worry. Idolatry can soon become fanaticism and fanaticism underpins dictatorship. The manner is which Corbyn is hailed as our saviour seems to me to be unrealistic and blinkered. For a start, if we are to claim that the UK is a parliamentary democracy then the leader of a party is only of a limited if significant importance. The tendency has been to form a personality cult around leaders from Margaret Thatcher onwards but the zeal with which the current Labour Party hails Corbyn is beyond anything that has happened before.

Does Corbyn deserve it? He comes across as an honest politician which is rare enough these days and he has values which he has stuck to. Actually that is part of my issue with him since I don’t think he has changed his mind or had a new idea in forty years. The current policies that his team have publicised is a rehash of former Labour/socialist manifestoes – and I do like some of them, but they are hardly fresh or innovative.  Corbyn seems to me to retain old attitudes to the environment (he’s only interested in renewable energy if it can be used to bash the oil companies) and his attitude to women and gender variant people is questionable.

I have my suspicions that Corbyn is a charismatic puppet for a group in the Labour Party with ambitions to establish a state as intolerant of dissent as the rightwingers in May’s party. Their fudge on the subject of the People’s Vote on Brexit is a case in point.

Politicians should earn our respect not our idolisation.  Unfortunately, at the moment I cannot think of one politician of any party who earns my respect for their past and present behaviour, with the possible exception of Caroline Lucas and unfortunately neither she, nor the Green Party, is going to be in a position to affect government policy.

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WP_20180927_16_21_24_ProI am really enjoying attending my new weekly writers group. It’s nice to have a decent cup of coffee while we read our work and talk about writing. They are a lovely group of ladies (unfortunately, the group is almost but not quite exclusively female, not counting me). Today I was given the idea for an excellent murder technique.  Not sure when I can use it, probably not in a Jasmine story, but perhaps if I ever get round to writing my Gussy Harcourt thriller stories (set in 1860s Oxford) it could come in useful.

That’s the joy of writers’ groups – they stimulate the little grey cells and make you want to get down to writing.

Molly’s Boudoir is almost ready to go for typesetting but I’m afraid Jasmine is in limbo at the moment because I’ve run out of time. For this and the next two weeks a couple of hours each day is given over to a trip to the hospital (not for me but for Lou) so I haven’t yet put fingers to keyboard on the next Jasmine short. Patience please.  Don’t forget that their are six Jasmine titles available on Kindle and the first three are also available in paperback from me  viz. Painted Ladies, Bodies By Design, The Brides’ Club Murder, Discovering Jasmine, Murder in Doubt and Trained By Murder.

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Jasmine into the future

Are we turkeys looking forward to Christmas and a restful break from the business of fattening ourselves up? It seems that we are doing something similar. Dark clouds are building while we continue with our jobs, chores, pleasures and personal worries.  The Brexit cliff is getting near and May is heading towards it with unthinking determination. Her vehicle may be like one of those clown’s cars from which bits of body and headlights and things fall off, but still she has the steering wheel in her corpse-like grip and her high-heeled shoe presses the accelerator to the floor. I can’t believe that she doesn’t realise that when she drives out into that void that the next step will be a plummet into chaos, degradation and bloody unrest, but she acts as if she doesn’t know or care. She certainly doesn’t appear to have the strength of character to stamp her foot on the brakes and say enough is enough. Leaving the EU to strike out alone is not the easy or desirable task that the Brexiteers said it would be.

I suppose one could argue that leaving the EU club should be a simple act of cancelling our membership, while it has turned out to be more like trying to terminate a contract to a gym. But the EU is not a simple club. For over forty years the 60 million people of the UK and the 300 million people of the rest of Europe have become intertwined. We rely on them and they on us.  Many treaties and agreements have been signed which bind us together and of course there is that little matter of about half of our exports and imports being to and from Europe. It was always going to be as difficult to split us off as it is to separate conjoined twins with heart, lungs and more shared between them.

What we have in fact is a slow-motion coup taking place with the Brexiteers manoeuvring to seize power when May finally succumbs. They will succeed if the majority of the Conservative acquiesces because they prefer to hold onto government rather than take the honest, moral and democratic path and ask the voting public for a second opinion – an opinion based on the true facts of what being in the EU means and what the consequence of leaving will be.

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This week we started Welsh lessons. Having moved into the Principality it was something we wanted to do. I learned Welsh up to the age of 16 and even have an O level in it but I haven’t used the language in fifty years and, actually, I was never much good at it. Back in school we didn’t do much conversation and I always found it difficult to learn vocabulary. Learning science was easier because there were patterns and laws and explanations which you don’t get in a list of unrelated words. Now I’m trying again. Today the emphasis is on talk – starting with simple questions and answers. Hopefully it will be fun and the words will stick this time.

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WP_20180913_14_43_11_Pro (2).jpgMolly’s Boudoir is back from the first round of copyediting so it won’t be long now before I can set a publication date for the e-book and paperback. One thing I have to do is write the acknowledgements. As well as the usual people who have assisted me in getting the book published, I will have to thank the people whose own writings I have used in my research. You see, in this book Jasmine at last reaches the stage of having her Gender Reassignment (or Confirmation) Surgery. I’m not going to reveal how it goes but on this occasion I am not writing from personal knowledge.  I am transgender or gender-fluid (whatever you want to call me) and have no wish to undergo any medical procedures if I can help it. I have had to use accounts written by transwomen who have been through the process, in particular, Trans A Memoir by Juliet Jacques (pub. Verso).

Does having GRS, mean that Jasmine’s reached the end of her journey? Well, no it doesn’t. Again without giving anything away about Molly’s Boudoir, I do intend writing a fifth novel, provisionally titled Impersonator. Once that is done we’ll have to see if Jasmine has a future.

 

Jasmine in waiting

I suppose I have to return to the subject; it is the mammoth (bigger than an elephant and woolly round the edges) in the room. It’s not that nobody can see it and not that they don’t talk about it – the news is incessant – but most of the conversation is pointless or dishonest.  I refer of course to the imminent departure of the UK from the EU.  In recent weeks we have had May and her supporters (more accurately, the people who want to stay in jobs) defending the indefensible which are the “Chequers proposals” – they appear to be nonsense what I have heard or read about them. Then we have had the Brexiteers ganging up and giving us their considered opinions and declarations. Considered is in italics because their ideas are wishful-thinking pipedreams with not a single sensible sentence amongst them. However, while leaving the EU was once upon a time (yes, it was fiction) going to mean immediate riches and responsibility-free independence, now we have to look forward to decades of painful recovery from this nightmare. The leavers seem to believe that the EU owes the UK something. It doesn’t. We are leaving and causing huge disruption to the EU so why should the other 27 countries smooth the path and give the UK better terms than anyone else. Meanwhile countries and economies a lot larger than us are waging a trade war which will have consequences for everyone. An easy life ahead? I don’t think so. That mammoth is rotting and creating a big stink.

In the last week or two we have been establishing a “normal” routine in our new home; joining groups to pursue former interests and finding new ones. Being in a writers’ group has been something I have enjoyed and found rewarding for a long time. This week I attended a group that holds great promise. I was made very welcome, they showed an interest in my writings, many of the members who I spoke to are actively engaged in their own projects and, most important, they were prepared to offer constructive comment on each other’s offerings and not just pointless platitudes. They meet weekly (for morning coffee) which is another plus as it offers more opportunities for discussion and sharing of ideas.

WP_20180913_14_42_23_ProOf course, some of the new groups are meeting me in my more feminine guise. As I am increasingly mixing and matching genders rather than being simply transgender I am aware that this can cause confusion. In fact everyone I have met so far as been wonderfully welcoming and accepting, but names and pronouns are a difficulty. Now, I insist, and it is the truth, that I don’t mind what name I am called or which set of pronouns are applied. I wish that our language would move forward to provide a set of widely known non-gendered pronouns (I don’t particularly like being referred to as “it”) but I think that is a long way off when most people have so far had no cause to consider a society without gender. It’s a work in progress.

Last week I revealed the cover of Molly’s Boudoir, the 4th Jasmine Frame novel. Here is the back cover burb. Let me know what you think. Does it make you want to read the novel?

Jasmine Frame is recuperating from surgery and bored. Her daily exercises and residual soreness are holding her back from the life of a private investigator. The lack of a functional car is another problem. Nevertheless, when DI Tom Shepherd requests her help with the arson and murder at Molly’s in the quiet town of Thirsbury, she is eager to get on the case.

With help from her partner, Viv, she gets mobile and is soon delving into the weird sexual practises of the owners of Molly’s, finding that some men will go to any lengths to fulfil their urges. Jasmine knows all about urges but finds that one of hers, the need to investigate, gets her into trouble that could threaten her new womanhood.

Molly’s Boudoir is now with the lovely people who will point out the errors and omissions and transform my word-processing into a publishable form. Not long to wait now!

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Jasmine prepares

NAWG CassAs mentioned in the last blog, I spent last weekend at the NAWG Festival of Writing at Warwick University.  Despite not winning anything, not even a raffle prize, I had a great time. The break-the-ice workshop sessions on Friday afternoon with Steve Bowkett were great and I attended excellent workshops with Simon Hill, Morgen Bailey and Ken Macleod. There were lots of other events, including the Open Mic (I did a bit on moving house), Readings (I read a bit from Cold Fire) and of course the Gala Dinner where I had the pleasure of sitting next to Ken Macleod. I haven’t read much of his work but he is a fine writer. He was a friend of Iain Banks from childhood so I enjoyed talking about one of my favourite authors.  As usual I came away on the one hand feeling that my writing needs to improve but on the other, re-invigorated and keen to move on. As always the atmosphere was inclusive and I felt no problem about being a trans (or rather genderfluid) person amongst cis-people. Actually this year I was not the only trans person (welcome Karly).

NAWG provides a great deal for both writers’ groups and individual writers. If you are in a writers’ group make sure they know about NAWG. You can view the website here

This week I joined a new writers’ group, not unfortunately one that seems to have any contact with NAWG, but an interesting group of authors nevertheless.  I look forward to hearing more of their own writing and telling them all about mine. . .

The latest Jasmine Frame short story, Negative, ended last week (you can go back and read it if you haven’t done so already) so this week I promised a bit more news about the next Jasmine novel – Molly’s Boudoir. Those of you who know about the history of gay and trans people will recognise the significance of the title. This novel is set some ten months after the 3rd novel (The Brides’ Club Murder) and actually takes place in 2013, the year that Painted Ladies was published.  Jasmine’s relationship with Viv has moved on and she is about to have her Gender Reassignment (or Confirmation) Surgery which means a lot to her. Meanwhile there is an incident at Molly’s, a shop owned by Evelyn Bunting in Thirsbury, a town a short distance from Kintbridge, Berkshire. Tom Shepherd is the investigating officer who decides that Jasmine’s help is required. Jasmine of course gets thoroughly involved in the case which takes her into areas of gender and sexuality that she is unfamiliar with.

That’s all I can say without giving too much of the plot away. Let’s say that it is a tale of mystery and action with some sexual content.

I am at the final draft stage so soon Molly’s will be going off for copyediting and preparation for publication – hopefully not long.  Here however, is the cover, once again magnificently prepared by Scott.

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Start saving your pennies to buy the e-book or paperback version later in autumn

There will be a new story here, soon.

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Jasmine takes a leap

WP_20180803_14_21_17_Pro (2)This weekend I am at the annual NAWGfest – that is the National Association of Writers’ Groups Writing Festival at Warwick University.  It is a great opportunity to join in several workshops which are always stimulating and thought-provoking as well as meeting and socialising with people that I have got to know over the last few years. NAWG however has something of a split personality. Is it, as its title suggests, a sort of umbrella organisation for writing groups or is it an association for authors published or not.  If the latter then it overlaps somewhat with the Society of Authors, but that organisation is only for published writers. I have been a member of a number of writers’ groups but to my knowledge only one has been a member of NAWG and that one didn’t really participate in the association’s activities.  That was why I became an individual or “associate” member. There are possibly millions of people across the country who are writing, many thousands taking part in on-line or face to face writing groups but not many who take advantage of what NAWG offers, perhaps because of the cost. I find the encouragement I get from meeting other authors, engaging in activities which might not be directly related to my particular writing tasks but nevertheless develop my skills, and just talking about writing, very rewarding. I hope NAWG and its annual festival goes from strength to strength.

You may have noticed I haven’t commented on this week’s news. I am trying to blank it from my consciousness as if I think about it too much I could become very agitated and worried. I really do wonder where we will be in one year, five years, time.

So, let’s get back to fiction. We’ve reached the final episode of Negative. I hope you like the conclusion of this short story.  It fits in the small temporal gap between Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design and I doubt I will be able fit another plot into this period of Jasmine’s life. Next week I’ll say a bit more about Molly’s Boudoir, the fourth novel, and where I’m going with this blog. In the meantime, enjoy.

Negative: Part 11

Alun took a few faltering steps towards his mother who beckoned him with her hands and warm, encouraging words. Jasmine crawled along the cliff edge keeping her head down. The sirens grew louder and then blue lights appeared over the crest of the moorland. Alun froze, took a step back, then another.
Jasmine rose into a crouch, sprang. She intended a low rugby tackle but her shoulders hit Alun’s legs above his knees. He staggered. She closed her arms around his thighs as she toppled to the ground. He flexed his leg. His heel struck Jasmine’s breast. She held on. He slumped.
And rolled. Her arms were trapped under him. Her feet and ankles swung free. She could feel that there was nothing beneath them but air. Now she was holding onto Alun to save herself not to pull him down.
Hands grabbed her clothes, tugged on her, dragged her away from the edge. She spat tough grass from her mouth and looked up. Ceri’s mother was looking down at her and Alun, a uniformed police officer beside her.
‘I thought you both were going over for a moment there,’ the PC said. He dragged the passive Alun off Jasmine and helped him to his feet. Jasmine panted and pushed herself into a sitting position. To her side, inches away, was the drop, the road below out of sight, and the sea. The PC pulled Alun further from danger.
Another police officer offered a hand. Jasmine used it to pull herself up. Alun was already being taken away with his mother tagging along, crying and asking nonsense questions.
‘You okay?’ the officer that had helped Jasmine said.
‘Yeah, I think so.’ Jasmine rubbed her chest. Her false boobs had taken the brunt of Alun’s involuntary kick; her knees were a little sore from being dragged through the tough grass and bare rock; her heart was still thumping from the exertion and the terror.
‘Let me help get you back to the car,’ the officer said. Jasmine nodded and he took her arm allowing her to put some of her weight on him as they walked away from the cliff.

A few minutes later Jasmine found herself sitting on a hard, plastic seat in an interview room at the town police station. She had barely noticed where the police car was taking her when she had been shown into the rear seat and they had set off down the hill. Her thoughts had been going over those last few moments; her fear that Alun was about to throw himself off the cliff, her own narrow escape from falling; she wondered if the police understood what had happened, the reason for Alun’s flight; did they realise that Ceri had nothing to do with Tegan’s death.
The door opened and a detective walked in, a short, thin woman with lank hair. She carried a mug which she put down on the table in front of Jasmine.
‘This is for you. Sweet tea. I believe you’ve had a bit of a shock. What’s your name?’
‘Jasmine Frame.’ She looked at the pale beige liquid in the mug. A coffee perhaps was desirable but not this sugared water. ‘Thanks,’ she said, nevertheless.
The detective sat down opposite her. ‘I’m DS Huws, Glynys Huws. Sorry to put you in here. It’s not very comfy, but we need to ask you some questions. Like what was going on up there on the cliff?’
‘I thought Alun might jump,’ Jasmine said.
‘You know him then?’
‘No. I know his sister, Ceri.’
‘Ah, yes, Ceri Powell. Mrs Powell says she found you alone at her house.’
Jasmine took a deep breath and began her story. ‘I’d gone to see her, find out what was happening to Ceri. Only Alun was at home. We had a talk but he became agitated. I got knocked over as he ran out.’
‘Knocked over?’
‘Well, knocked out I think. He didn’t mean it. I cracked my head against the door. That’s how his mother, Mrs Powell found me.’
DS Huws showed concern. ‘How’s your head now?’
Jasmine felt her skull. The headache had dulled; she was hardly conscious of it amongst the other scrapes and bruises of her contribution to saving or arresting Alun.
‘OK,’ she said, ‘I don’t feel concussed.’
The detective smiled. ‘Why did Mr Powell become, er, agitated?’
‘I had got him to tell me what he did with Tegan Jones.’
‘What he did?’ The detective’s eyes widened.
‘Ceri had nothing to do with Tegan’s death.’ Jasmine explained about Tegan’s transphobic treatment of Ceri and Alun’s brotherly response. The detective listened.
‘So, Alun Powell confessed to you that he abducted Miss Jones, knocked her unconscious, took her to the top of the headland and dropped her off the cliff.’
‘No, not the last,’ Jasmine shook her head vigorously. ‘He left her on the edge. Her fall was an accident.’
‘I’m not sure the death of Tegan Jones can be called an accident.’
Jasmine shrugged. She reluctantly had to agree with the detective on that point. ‘No, not an accident, but not a deliberate act.’
‘If we corroborate your story then perhaps it will be manslaughter not murder. But how did you get involved. You’re not a local. Is it because you and Ceri Powell are both . . .’
‘Transsexual women. That’s not why I came here,’ Jasmine explained, reluctant to talk about herself. ‘We recognised what we are and became friends, but I’ve only known Ceri a few days since I met her at the hotel where she works. I came for a rest.’
‘A rest? A holiday? On your own?’
‘Yes, on my own. It was more recuperation than holiday.’
The detective examined her. ‘What do you do, Miss Frame?’
‘I’m a detective.’

Jasmine sat on the slightly more comfortable seat in the waiting area, a mug of cooling black coffee resting on her knee. Mrs Powell sat a metre from her, but they weren’t conversing. She was deep in her thoughts no doubt contemplating the future with Alun in custody, facing an appearance in court and perhaps, probably was more likely, a sentence in prison. The DI in charge of the case had allowed her to sit in while Alun was interviewed, his “learning difficulties” recognised.
Jasmine was waiting to hear that she was not required for any more questioning, but she was reluctant to leave the older woman alone, even if they weren’t talking.
A door opened and a sergeant in shirt sleeves emerged followed by Ceri. Mrs Powell leapt to her feet and embraced her daughter. Jasmine stood up and waited for an opportunity to greet her friend.
‘The DI says you can all go now,’ the sergeant said, ‘We’ll keep Mr Powell in the cells over night and give you a call in the morning when he is going to be interviewed again. Do you need a taxi?’
Ceri parted from her mother and spoke first. ‘No, I want to walk in the fresh air. It’s not far.’
The custody officer said good bye and retreated through the locked door.
Ceri stepped towards Jasmine. ‘Thank you for what you did.’
‘What did I do?’
‘Saving my brother.’
Jasmine frowned. ‘I’m afraid I haven’t saved him from the responsibility for Tegan’s death.’
‘I know, but you saved him from falling from the cliff, and he didn’t mean for Tegan to die. You said that.’
‘That’s true. I knew it wasn’t you, but I didn’t know what had happened until Alun told me.’
‘He didn’t know what he was doing,’ Ceri said.
‘He’s a child really,’ Mrs Powell added. ‘They won’t put him in prison with criminals, will they?’
‘The police will treat him as kindly as they can,’ Jasmine explained, ‘but there is the matter of justice for Tegan.’
Ceri bowed her head and looked at the floor. ‘I know. I hated the things she said to me. When they were questioning me, accusing me of killing her, I felt at first that she deserved it, but then it came to me that she was just mixed up. No one deserves to die. I wish I hadn’t complained so much about her to Alun.’ She sniffed and her mother put an arm around her.
Jasmine revealed her thoughts. ‘I don’t know why Tegan was transphobic and I don’t think her partner, Bob, understands either.’
Ceri looked at her. ‘You spoke to her? Bob?’
‘Yes, she and Tegan were obviously very much in love.’
‘She’ll want Alun put away for life,’ Ceri snivelled.
Jasmine shrugged. ‘That’s why we have courts and judges. A jury will probably conclude that Alun is guilty of manslaughter, but the judge will decide how responsible he was and what a fitting punishment really is. It’s not up to the victim’s family or supporters. Alun will be protected.’ Jasmine hoped that what she said was true.
‘Let’s go home,’ Mrs Powell said, taking Ceri in her arms. The three of them walked out of the entrance of the Police Station and commenced the short walk back to their house. The streets were empty now and the sky was dark. Jasmine looked at her watch surprised at how late it was. It was gone midnight. She said farewell to Ceri and her mother and continued towards the hotel. She got her mobile out of her bag relieved that it hadn’t been lost on the hillside and also that it was still working. There was a text she hadn’t read earlier. The Benefits Agency wanted her to start an investigation. She had a job to go home to. Her holiday was over.

THE END