Jasmine in lists

I’ve been thinking about misogyny i.e. hatred of women. Some time ago a police force in England announced that it was considering treating acts of misogyny like other hate-crimes of minority groups. This means that all incidents are logged even if no actual crime can be said to have taken place (e.g. swearing at someone can be an offence in a public place but not in a private home). There are enhanced punishments for those convicted of a hate-crime. Women may not be a minority group but they are certainly targeted in various ways, from wolf whistles in the street to rape and murder, simply for being women. This is the indicator of a hate-crime.

Many men would no doubt say that they do not hate women and the whistles and comments and groping are signs that they are actually attracted to the object of their attention. That is not the point. That sort of behaviour shows that they hate the idea of a woman as an independent, thinking person with the same rights as themselves. The case of Trump (I hope that he will soon be forgotten and we don’t have to keep using him as an example) shows this. Treating any women as a plaything and bragging about it in “the locker-room” or the saloon bar or wherever to other blokes reveals the true misogynist nature of the man.

Of course whenever this kind of crime comes up we are reminded of George Orwell’s thoughtcrime. Is it wrong to think of women in this way? Well, I don’t think people should be prosecuted for their thoughts but I do think it shows that we have a long way to go to educate men and boys that women and girls have the right not to be the object of their attention whether verbal, manual or sexual, at least until they have consented. Education does not mean brain-washing, it means explaining and developing an understanding. It is disappointing if some men still show their misogyny in the way that they talk to other men but it is their actions towards women that should be punished.

A final thought. Some feminists refuse to accept transwomen as women or allies in the fight against misogyny.  I think that though wrong they have some reason for their actions. There are some transvestites (not, I think transsexuals) who reinforce outdated stereotypes of women and think that by dressing as women they can act like the fluffy-headed dolls that they perceive women to be. As someone who feels that I reside somewhere in the middle of the male-female spectrum that attitude appalls me as much as it would any woman.

…………………….

discovering jasmine final cover

Murder in doubt cover

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Following the end of the Jasmine Frame story, Perspective, last week I’m taking a rest this week.  There have now been ten novellas and three novels which are listed below in chronological order

Discovering Jasmine    2000    novella   e-book          James ventures out as Jasmine

Murder in Doubt            2001     novella  e-book          James meets Angela at university (formerly Soft Focus)

Aberration                       2004     novella  unpublished   James living with Angela after uni.

Flashlight                        2009     novella  unpublished  PC Frame seconded to V&SCU

Resolution                       2009     novella  unpublished  sequel to Flashlight

Blueprint                         2009      novella  unpublished  James reveals Jasmine to Tom

Self-portrait                   2010      novella  unpublished  Jasmine starts transition

Close-up                          2010      novella  unpublished   starting hormone treatment

Split Mirror                      2011      novella  unpublished   moves to flat, alone.

Perspective                      2011      novella  unpublished   resigns from police force

Painted Ladies                 2012     novel     e-book/pbk    called in to catch serial killer

Bodies By Design            2012     novel     e-book/pbk    assisting Sloane to trace killer

Brides’ Club Murder       2012    novel     unpublished   solving a country house murder.

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Jasmine decides

This may be considered navel gazing but I thought this week I would consider further where I see myself in the gender selection-box. You may be satisfied with just male and female but actually it’s rather more complex than that. First of all let’s get this straight – gender is not sex and gender identity is not related to sexuality. For the vast majority of people sex is determined by whether or not they have a Y chromosome. If you do then under normal circumstances you were born with penis and testicles and a body that from puberty brims with testosterone; if not, then you have ovaries, uterus, vagina, clitoris etc. and at puberty felt the effects of oestrogen. A small proportion of children are born with genetic or congenital abnormalities that render them intersex, i.e. their sex can not be determined at birth.

Gender and gender identity are something  else. As you grow up you become the sum of your genes and experiences. This process doesn’t stop at puberty or adulthood; you change throughout your life. You develop a feeling of who you are and where you sit in masculine-feminine spectrum. For most people this probably isn’t even a question they ever ask themselves. Their gender identity matches their body’s appearance and that’s all that matters. For a considerable percentage of us though, there is a mis-match in the person we think we are and what we look like.

Gender isn’t just male or female. If you think about all the people you know then you will realise that all the men don’t have the same personalities and neither do the women. There is a whole range of behaviour that positions a person somewhere on the gender spectrum.

For those of us who question our gender identity there are a number of pigeon-holes in which we can place ourselves, that’s if we are prepared to be pigeon-holed at all.

Transsexuals – are people who identify with a gender different to their physical sex. i.e. MtF or FtM. For many this feeling is so great that they detest the body that doesn’t fit with their self-image. They may decide to live as the person they identify as which will involve transition and may or may not include medical and surgical procedures to achieve that. Improvements in medicine and changes to the law and societal attitudes have enabled more people to transition in recent years. The media still focusses on celebrity transitions but is less sensationalist thanks to TV shows like Transparent and Boy Meets Girl.

Transvestites – are people who dress up in the clothes of a gender different to their sex. This applies almost exclusively to men dressing as women since in western culture the acceptable clothing choices available to women now include most, if not all, male attire. The thing about transvestism is that it reinforces gender stereotypes e.g. the tarty/show-girl look, the dress-like- Mum style, and so on. The transvestite almost feels obliged to adopt a look that enables them to pass as female (i.e. wearing wigs, false breasts and other enhancements). The term was originally applied to men who dressed up to get aroused so it has sexual connotations that I dislike.

Cross-dresser – means the same as transvestite but tends to be used by those men who dress as women for non-sexual reasons, but in other respects means the same as the above.

Transgender – is an umbrella term that covers all identities and behaviours where perceived gender and physical sex are at odds.

Gender queer and non-binary – are more recent terms adopted by people who reject the traditional labelling of male or female. Their appearance may be difficult to categorise as masculine or feminine e.g. Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst who wore feminine dresses while sporting a full beard.

Androgyny – a mixture or union of male and female (hermaphrodites with male and female sexual organs are androgynous). Previously, a woman who adopted a male appearance was labelled as androgynous (think flat-chested, short-haired Twiggy, or Tilda Swinton) but now the process is being reversed, with males adopting a feminine appearance without seeking to change or enhance their body shape.

wp_20160919_09_48_13_proHaving thought I was a cross-dresser and occasionally wondering if I was transsexual I now feel that I fall into one of the last two categories. I don’t want to mimic a stereotype of a woman but I like the choices in dress, accessories and make-up that woman have available. How I look may make observers question what they see but I am no longer trying to fool them into believing I am something that I am not.

……………………..

So, to the final episode of Perspective, the Jasmine Frame prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design (available from me and all good bookstores). Jasmine is definitely transsexual, by the way. This episode sets Jasmine up for Painted Ladies but, who knows, I may be able to fit in another story.

Perspective: Part 12

Jasmine listened as Palmerston went over the case with reports from Tom Shepherd, Terry Hopkins, Derek Kingston and the other members of the team. Not once was she asked for information or a comment. She sat in her chair feeling increasingly as if she wasn’t really there, that her position as a detective in the Violent and Serious Crime Unit was a dream.
The meeting didn’t last long. DS Palmerston wrapped it up and the group began to disperse to deal with other work. DCI Sloane started to move towards his office. He beckoned to Jasmine.
‘With me, now please, DC Frame,’ he said. Jasmine stirred herself and followed him.
Sloane took his seat behind a desk covered with piles of files and the computer monitor and keyboard gathering dust on the side.  Jasmine stood in front of the desk feeling a little like a naughty school boy, or girl, summoned for punishment by the headmaster.
‘It’s up to the CPS now,’ Sloane said as if continuing a conversation from another time and place, ‘Gayle will probably be charged with manslaughter but as he is still legally a child, he’ll be free soon.’
Jasmine blurted out, ‘What about the injury to his mother, carrying an offensive weapon and the robberies?’ She regretted her words immediately. It sounded as if she had a grudge against Nate Gayle. She was still pretty sore about being mugged and she thought Nate knew what he was up to despite his tender year but she didn’t actually have any ill feelings towards the boy. DS Palmerston was the hate figure in her eyes.
Sloane replied calmly, ‘We accept that Mrs. Gayle’s injury was an accident. As you heard, certain items were found in Gayle’s bedroom that did not belong to him but we have no statements from their owners and with William Smith dead it’s unlikely that the CPS will pursue that aspect of the case.’
Jasmine nodded. She didn’t totally agree with her DCI’s conclusions but perhaps now was not the moment to press her opinions.
‘The outstanding matters relate to your involvement, Frame,’ Sloane continued. ‘Your continued interference, even after suspension, was insubordination at the highest level. Indeed, it could be argued that Mrs Gayle’s wounding was partly caused by your presence in her house without her permission.’
Jasmine opened her mouth to complain, but Sloane held up his hand to stop her and went on. ‘Yes, I know your actions helped to slow the bleeding and you called for assistance, but you should not have been there or anywhere in the vicinity. Explain yourself, please Frame.’
Jasmine took a breath. ‘I’m sorry, Sir, but I felt that DS Palmerston was following the wrong line of enquiry. She ignored what I had reported about my, er, meeting with Gayle and Smith, and my opinion on the involvement of the drag queens.’
‘The DS was following procedure and collecting evidence and statements,’ Sloane growled.
‘And excluding me, Sir, as she had done on every case she has been in charge of since she joined the unit.’
‘Are you accusing Detective Sergeant Palmerston of discrimination, DC Frame?’ Sloane’s neck had turned a shade of crimson and the colour was rising up his cheeks.
‘Now that you mention it, Sir, yes I think it is. She doesn’t like me or what I am and doesn’t want me working with her.’
‘You are deluded, Frame. DS Palmerston is a very able officer who makes efficient use of the resources and personnel that are available.’
‘She hasn’t made efficient use of me, Sir.’
‘The trouble is, Frame, that since you began this, this, what do you call it, transition, you see prejudice everywhere.  I thought you had the makings of a good detective once. . .’
‘When I was a man?’
‘Well, since you put it that way – yes. Having decided you want to be a woman you have been distracted.’
‘I didn’t decide to be a woman, Sir. I am a woman. I decided that I needed to live in my true identity instead of continuing to live an act.’
Sloane’s upper lip crinkled and his eyebrows rose. Was he disgusted or merely confused?
‘Look here, Frame. I know that we as your employers have to allow you to do this thing of yours but in my opinion your performance as a member of this unit has become less than satisfactory and in particular your disobedience with respect to DS Palmerston is unprofessional in the extreme.’
Jasmine was unable to stop herself. ‘Unprofessional. That’s rich. She’s the one who is unprofessional, side-lining and undermining me at every opportunity.’
‘That’s enough,’ Sloane roared, his face now approaching beetroot colour. ‘You will remain suspended while your future in this unit, and perhaps in the force, is considered. I do not want to see you again in this office or station until you are summoned to explain yourself. Is that clear?’
Jasmine matched Sloane’s lack of restraint. ‘You can stick your summons, Sir. I’m resigning.’ She turned and marched from the office holding her head up. She heard gurgling noises from behind her but didn’t turn to see the look on Sloane’s face. She stared straight ahead as she crossed the larger office but saw in her peripheral vision that the whole team was gazing at her. There was silence. No one called to her and then she was through the door and walking down the corridor.
It was a mile or more to the Gayle’s house. Her car had been left there the previous evening when she was taken away by DC Kingston and she needed it back.  It was a dull, chill, winters’ day but Jasmine appreciated the fact that it was dry. Being wet would have added one thing more to her list of miseries.
Did she have to resign on the spot in front of Sloane? Shouldn’t she have given it some thought, awaited the outcome of inquiry into her behaviour? No, she could guess what the result would be if DS Palmerston had any influence over it. She would be demoted at best, kicked out of the police force at worst. Pleading that she was a special case because of her transition was not on; she wouldn’t make that excuse, but she couldn’t think how to overcome Palmerston’s prejudice. She didn’t want to give up her dream job but she was convinced that she had done the right thing. There were implications; she knew that. Being without a steady job didn’t just mean she had no source of income for everyday living expenses, it also meant that she wouldn’t have the funds for the treatments she needed during her transition. What would be the reaction of the Gender Clinic? They might think that she was mentally unstable and refuse to support her through the process on the NHS. It could put back the changes to her body that she needed for years if not for ever.
By the time she saw the old red Fiesta sitting outside the house in the otherwise deserted street, she was thoroughly miserable. The car was inside a cordon of blue and white tape that blocked off the pavement as well as the front garden of the Gayle’s house. There was a solitary police officer standing guard at the front door. He looked up as Jasmine approached as if woken from a reverie brought on by boredom. He watched her step over the tape and approach the car. She put the key in the lock and pulled the door open.
‘Hey, what are you doing?’ he called out, advancing down the garden path.
‘Taking my car,’ Jasmine replied.
‘It’s in a restricted area.’
‘I know; I came here in it last night.’
‘You can’t move anything from a restricted area.’
‘Yes, I can when it has nothing to do with the case and belongs to me.’
‘Who are you?’
‘Detective Constable Frame.’ How many more times would she say that, she wondered.’
‘Frame? I think I know that name.’ The PC had stopped at the gate and looked nonplussed.
‘Look, if you’re anxious, call in to your boss and check that it’s alright for me to take my own car away.’
‘Er, yes, I’ll do that.’ He muttered into his radio. Jasmine leaned on the roof of her car with the driver’s door open.  There were a few minutes of two-way conversation including a hiatus while the officer waited for a reply. Finally, he stood up straight and looked happier.
‘They say that’s alright. You can take the car away.’
‘Thank you,’ Jasmine gave him a broad and appreciative smile.
‘I’ll undo the tape for you,’ he said, moving to the front of the car and unwinding the tape from the bollards. Jasmine got in, inserted the key and turned the ignition. Now was not the time for the car to refuse to start, she thought. The starter motor groaned and the engine fired. She puffed out the breath she had been holding. Then she waved polite thanks to the PC and pulled away.
As the car warmed up her mood improved. She was her own boss now, not bound by police regulations and hierarchy. She would pursue the idea she had had a day or two ago – become a private detective. Surely, there would be lots of demand for someone with CID experience. Of course she would be a success. Also, there was the proceeds from the sale of her share of the house to Angela. It wasn’t a lot but it would provide some capital for her business until the revenue from successful investigations came in. What should she call herself? She thought about it. Frame Investigations – that was it. She smiled. A new life beckoned as the independent female private eye.
…………the end.

Jasmine summoned

I have a book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. It is a reprint by Wordsworth Reference but was written by Charles Mackay and published in its complete form in 1852. It therefore predates such twentieth century delusions as Nazism, pyramid selling and that tartan trousers were once thought to be the height of fashion. Mackay examines such cases as the South Sea Bubble, Tulipmania, the Crusades, witch hunts and fortune-telling, amongst others. In each story whole communities apparently lost all reason in following a rush to penury or self-destruction.  It occurs to me that Mackay would have plenty to tackle today such Trump’s apparent popularity in part of the USA, the ease with which brits fell for the Leavers lies and the denial of the evidence for climate change and ecological breakdown.

Day after day, I become more worried about where we, that is, the people of the world, are headed.  I lived through the Cold War with no great fear of nuclear annihilation but I think now human civilisation is heading willingly if ignorantly towards its end. We hear talk about the current generation of young adults, the millennials, as being the first to fare worse than their parents. That applies in the UK, and across all of the west, but is a mild step back compared to other potential calamities. I think disaster beckons if there is continuance of the state of mind that sees a Trump as a saviour, or supports the blinkered isolationist view that bred Brexit, or stokes the violence of jihad, or continues to burn coal and oil regardless of the consequences or ignores our reliance on the Earth to sustain us. Back in the Cold War we thought that civilisation would end almost overnight in a nuclear holocaust. Now I think it will come in an almost imperceptible worsening of conditions across the world and close to home. In fact it is already happening with the growing number in poverty in the UK and elsewhere despite the millennium promises to life people out of it; the accelerating deterioration in ecologies across the world; the increasing belligerence of world and regional powers (Syria as one case in point); and a hardening of attitudes of ordinary people to what is dismissed as political correctness. How long will it take? I hope I am being optimistic in saying we’ll last out my lifetime but I fear for our grandchildren.

 

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Me and a wall

 

 

After that bit of dismal thought let’s move on to something trivial – the next episode of Perspective. We’re into the penultimate part following last week’s bloody action, but there are still some things to be worked out.  This was intended as the last prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design chronologically, but we shall see if I can fit another story in that explores Jasmine’s gender identity while investigating crimes.

 

 

Perspective: Part 11

DS Palmerston strode towards the front door but was forced to pause as the paramedics wheeled Mrs Gayle out on a stretcher. Jasmine remained sitting on the stairs, waiting for the onslaught to begin.
‘What did you think you were doing, Frame,’ Palmerston moaned as she resumed her march into the house.  Jasmine shrugged.  ‘You’ve been arrested for obstructing the case and here you are causing more mayhem.’
‘I had to get the truth out of Nate Gayle.’
‘And that meant getting his mother injured, did it?’
‘I didn’t mean that to happen. I got Nate wrong.’
‘Damn right you did. You pushed him over a cliff.’
‘No, it wasn’t like that.’
‘You’ve been on his back from the start. It’s called harassment, Frame.’
Jasmine grabbed the bannister and pulled herself up.  She felt unsteady and her head hurt.
‘Look, ma’am, all I’ve been trying to do is show you that it wasn’t those two drag queens that killed Wizzer.’
Palmerston waved her hand dismissively. ‘They both deny it but they had plenty of time to get their stories to tie up.’
‘What stories?’
‘They say they were approached by the two boys who then started arguing and fighting. The two men then ran off and didn’t get involved.’
‘That sounds likely to me. Why don’t you believe them?’
‘They’re providing an alibi for each other. They’re bigger than the two boys.’
‘But they were in drag gear, presumably high heels, tight skirts or dresses. Not the clothes for launching an attack on two streetwise kids.’
Palmerston frowned. ‘Gayle said they shouted racist abuse.’
‘Gayle said. Can’t you see that although he’s a boy not a man, he’s not an innocent kid. I thought Wizzer was the boss, the instigator, but I was wrong. It was Nate all along.’
‘He told you that did he?’ Palmerston spat, ‘You got a confession?’
Jasmine felt the heat rise up her neck. ‘He was angry and blurted it out. Wizzer usually did as he was told including brandishing the knife but it was Nate that took the stuff. For some reason Wizzer decided he deserved more and that was what started the argument. I don’t think Nate meant to kill him but he’s pretty careless when he’s got a knife in his hand.’
‘That’s what got his mother injured?’
‘Yes. He was waving it at me and spun around when his mother spoke to him.’
‘You’re going to have to give a statement, Frame.’
‘Of course.’
‘Go and sit in the car. SOCO can take over here.’
‘What about Nate?’
‘We’ll pick him up. Go.’
Jasmine brushed passed the DS and stepped outside. It was raining again. She went to Palmerston’s car and got into the back seat. Derek Kingston was in the driving seat.
‘You in trouble again, Jas,’ the DC said.
‘Yeah, real trouble I expect, but if I’ve persuaded that woman that she got the story wrong then it’s worth it.’
‘Worth losing your career? You do know that Sloane has been threatening you with all sorts of dire consequences?’
‘I can guess.’
More police cars and a van drove up. Jasmine watched as officers in overalls entered the house while other officers set up tape barriers.
Palmerston returned to the car and bent down to speak through Kingston’s window.
‘Get out Kingston. You stay here looking after things. I’ll take Frame back to the station, take her statement, and make sure we’ve got enough officers out searching for Gayle.’ She tugged the door open and Kingston got out. Palmerston took his place, started the engine and reversed out of the cluster of vehicles.  Jasmine saw Palmerston’s eyes in the driving mirror.
‘Don’t say another word, Frame, until we’re at the station.’

Jasmine sat alone in the interview room. There was a cup of tea on the table in front of her which she didn’t want. A black coffee would be preferable or a glass of water which would do her more good. Her head and neck ached. In the bright light of the room she could see clearly the blood staining her front from her breasts to her shins.  Mrs Gayle’s blood. She wondered how she was doing; was she even still alive.
The door opened and Tom Shepherd entered accompanied by DC Hopkins.
‘Hi, Jas,’ Tom said, ‘We’ve come to take your formal statement.’
‘Not Palmerston?’
‘She’s busy organising the search for Nate Gayle. We’ve got cars driving round the estate and officers on foot checking the alleyways and gardens.’
‘He could be hiding anywhere.’
‘Yes, but its cold and wet. He’s not going to be comfortable. In fact, he could be in danger himself if we don’t find him quickly.’
The two detectives sat down opposite Jasmine.
‘You look a mess, Frame,’ Hopkins sneered, ‘and you’ve caused a mess.’
‘You must have headed off to the Gayle house right after I dropped you off,’ Tom said, ‘Why, after everything that was said about you going off on your own thing?’
Jasmine sighed. ‘I thought Nate’s mother might get him to admit what really happened.’
‘Did she?’ Tom asked.
‘Sort of, but I didn’t realise that Nate was the leader and a knife carrier. How is Mrs Gayle?’
‘Hanging on,’ Hopkins growled, ‘You’re in deep shit for causing all this, Frame.’
‘Thanks Derek,’ Jasmine muttered, ‘I think I know that.’
Tom arranged the pad of paper in front of him. ‘Let’s get your statement down, Jas. Then we can move on.’Bang! Bang! Bang!  Was the noise in her head? Jasmine stirred in her bed, opened her eyes. A grey light filtered through her thin curtains. She glanced at her watch on the bedside table. It said nine a.m. She’d had six hours sleep since the police car had brought her home, but she still felt groggy.
The banging came again. Someone knocking on her front door. She pushed herself out of bed and grabbed her dressing gown. She had it around herself by the time she got to the door and tugged it open. Tom Shepherd was there, again.
He looked at her. ‘Oh, you are here. I wondered. . .’
‘Wondered what, Tom?’
‘Since you weren’t answering I thought you might have gone off on your own again.’
‘I’ve been sleeping, Tom. I had a headache.’
‘Oh, yes, so you said. How is it?’
‘Better, not perfect.’ She felt the side of her head. The lump seemed to have subsided. ‘Why are you here, Tom? Not arresting me again?’
Tom shuffled his feet. ‘No, but Sloane sent me to fetch you to a meeting.’
‘A meeting?’
‘Yes, to wrap up the case and with him, I think.’
‘He could have rung.’
‘He wanted to make sure you were there on time.’
‘When is it?’
Tom looked at his watch. ‘Nine-thirty.’
Jasmine snorted. ‘Well, thanks for the warning. That doesn’t give me time to get ready properly.’
Tom bowed his head, ‘I think that was the idea, Sloane’s in a mood. Look you’d better be getting dressed.’
‘Oh, come in then and close the door.’
Jasmine went back to the bedroom. She seethed. Sloane knew that she needed a bit more time than most people to get herself prepared to face the outside world. At least she’d had a shower last night when she got home to wash off the blood and clear her head. She ran her shaver over her face, knowing that it wasn’t enough, pulled on the first clothes she could lay hands on and slapped foundation on.
She returned to the living room. Tom was standing by the front door.
‘There, I don’t feel comfortable but is that quick enough for Sloane do you think?’
‘You look okay, Jas. A bit, um, what should I say, less. . .’
‘Well-groomed, feminine?’
‘No, erm. . . You’re fine.’
She didn’t want to embarrass him anymore. He was still her friend. ‘Come on then. I suppose my car is still outside the Gayle’s house.’
‘Yes. There’s no time to pick it up now, Jas.’
‘I know. Get me to this meeting.’

All the eyes were on her as Jasmine entered the unit’s office. It made her feel nervous thinking that her colleagues were examining her, and judging her appearance as a woman. She was angry that Sloane had not given her time to get her make-up completed to her satisfaction.
Sloane was standing by the whiteboard, apparently already addressing the team. He beckoned to Jasmine and Tom to join them.
‘Ah, Frame. Please don’t get the idea that your suspension is in abeyance. I nevertheless felt it would be appropriate for you to be at this conference. Take a seat.’
Jasmine pushed a chair from behind a desk and positioned it behind the other detectives facing Sloane. She sat down. Tom joined her.
‘Now, DS Palmerston will bring you up to date on the latest situation,’ Sloane said. His female deputy stood up and faced the group.
‘First of all, the hospital reports that Mrs Gayle’s condition has stabilised. She is still unconscious but the bleeding has been stopped. She should make a full recovery.’  There were mutterings and nods of heads around the room. Jasmine felt a sense of relief. It was bad enough feeling a little responsible for her injury but if the woman had died she didn’t know how she would have coped.
‘Also, Nathan Gayle has been found in an alleyway less than a hundred metres from his home. He was pretty cold and wet but is recovering in a cell. He’s been worried about his mother and has been talking to us.’
Sloane spoke, ‘Which leads me to the announcement that the two previous suspects in the death of William Smith have been released without charge. DS Palmerston will explain what we now know happened on Friday night.’
Jasmine stared at the DS. Did she look embarrassed? Her cheeks were a little flushed but her eyes hardly flickered and when she spoke it was with her usual self-confidence.
‘Gayle has agreed that his previous statement was incorrect and that the fatal injury to William Smith was accidental and occurred during a tussle between the two of them. The two men who we originally suspected were bystanders and should have come forward as witnesses.  Gayle will be charged but he is a minor.’
Jasmine allowed herself a small smile. Her version of events had been accepted, at last, but was she vindicated?  She didn’t expect that much joy from Palmerston.
………………….to be concluded

Jasmine bloodied

We change throughout our lives. Life would be pretty boring if we didn’t develop, learn new things and have new experiences. Even our memories change. They’re not packed in our brains like books in a library, more like the foods in a larder which are taken out from time to time, used and replenished. My own feelings have changed over time and recently I made a fairly important decision.

I discovered I was transgendered (to use the term loosely) when I was in my late 20s. Since 2000, with the support of my dear Lou, I have been “out” and developing my female persona. While I decided that I was not transsexual because I didn’t despise my male body nor want to change it, I did think that I needed to pass as a woman. I think I was quite successful at that, at least from a distance. To achieve the look, in addition  to the female clothes, make-up and jewellery I wore a wig and a bra filled with silicone boobs. The wig was a good disguise and the boobs gave me a more feminine silhouette.

For the last three years I have been out just about as far as it is possible to be out. I now assume that anyone I meet knows that I’m trans (even if they don’t) and I have also mixed up my two public images quite a bit. I’ve always felt that I was one person with male and female characteristics but to fit in with society’s expectations I have appeared either as a man or as a woman. Gradually though, my understanding of myself has changed. First it struck me that the disguise offered by the wig was hiding who I was (it was also pretty uncomfortable in summertime). A year ago I gave up wearing the wig and have since had my hair styled in a more feminine manner.

wp_20160919_14_50_22_proNow I have decided that stuffing a bra to give myself a bust is also presenting a false impression of who I am. I don’t have a bust and I don’t want to pretend I have one anymore.  I have decided to just be me – the me that likes to have a feminine appearance wearing dresses, skirts or tunics over tights or leggings with tops in a variety of colours and styles. The me who loves to wear dangly ear rings and necklaces. The me who likes to wear lipstick, eye-shadow and foundation. Strangely, losing the boobs has not made me appear or feel less female (I think) although I now have the fun of choosing styles of clothes that suit someone who is tall, flat-chested, and mature (yes, I need to have regard for my age).

What does that make me? Do we still need labels? Am I transgender or is the term non-binary more appropriate though less well-known outside gender identity circles? Whatever term you want to use, I am the me I am now. Who knows who I’ll be in the future.

………………..

After that long ramble here is the tenth (yes, we’ve got that far) episode of Perspective, the prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design which fills in the career of Jasmine Frame, transsexual detective.

Perspective: Part 10

Jasmine approached the front door of the small terraced house. She pressed the doorbell and waited. Soon there was the sound of steps approaching and the door was opened by a woman with long dark hair and a pale face.
‘Mrs Gayle?’ Jasmine asked. The woman nodded.  ‘I’m Detective Constable Frame. I’m here in connection with the death of William Smith, a friend of your son, Nate.’
A worried expression appeared in the woman’s face. ‘What about it? Nate has answered all your questions.’
‘I thought you should know that two young white men have been arrested for the attack. They are being questioned at the moment.’
Mrs Gayle shrugged but Jasmine thought she appeared nervous. ‘So?’
‘I was wondering if there was anything else you or Nate could tell us.’
‘Like what?’
‘Such as how the men could see that Nate and Wizzer were mixed race in the dark and the drizzle.’
‘What?’ Now the woman looked confused. She stared at Jasmine in the light from her hallway. ‘What did you say your name was? Frame? Didn’t I complain about you pestering my son.’ She pushed the door closed but Jasmine stuck her foot in the way.
‘You did Mrs Gayle, and I’m sorry about that, but I think that what happened is not quite what Nate has told us.’
The woman was indignant. ‘Nate said those men, well, men dressed as women, attacked him and William and called them vile, racist names. Don’t you believe him?’
‘Not exactly. Not after he’d robbed me.’
‘Not Nate.’ The tone was firm and certain.
‘Yes, Nate and his mate.’
There were thuds of feet on stairs and Nate appeared behind his mother.
‘What’s going on, Mum. Oh, it’s him. The tranny cop. I thought we’d got you off my back.’
‘Not quite,’ Jasmine said placing her weight against the door to ensure it couldn’t be closed.
Mrs Gayle turned to speak to the boy. ‘She, er he, says you robbed her, Nate. Tell me the truth. You still haven’t told me why you were out that late. I thought you were in bed.’
Nate shrugged. ‘I went out with Wizzer.’
‘Why?’
‘To hang out together. Do stuff.’ Nate turned away and padded down the hallway. Mrs Gayle followed.
‘What do you mean? Nate. Tell me, I’m your mother.’
Jasmine stepped inside the doorway and closed the door behind her. She was in the house now and she was going to get some answers from the lad.
Nate turned to face his mother. ‘We were having a bit of fun.’
‘After midnight? You sneaked out without telling me so you could have fun with that boy.’
Nate looked over his mother’s shoulder and saw Jasmine standing behind her.
‘What are you doing in our house?’
‘Getting some answers, Nate. Look, I know it wasn’t the two queens who killed Wizzer. Tell me what really happened. Perhaps it was an accident. Perhaps you and Wizzer argued, the knife came out and it was Wizzer who got stabbed.’
‘Na, it was the fucking weirdoes. They attacked us.’
‘Why should they Nate? I’ve seen them. They may have been having a laugh at the drag night but outside in the dark and wet they aren’t the type to go picking a fight with two streetwise lads.  Why were you and Wizzer arguing? Was it about your takings – the credit cards, the phones, my cash.’
‘What is she talking about, Nate?’ Mrs Gayle said, ‘What takings? Did you rob her like she says?’
‘Oh, shut up, you old slag.’ Nate shoved his mother against the bannister of the stairs and advanced towards Jasmine. She crumpled onto the floor. He slipped his hand in his jeans pocket and pulled out an object. A blade sprang from it.
Jasmine retreated until her back was against the door. Nate approached holding the knife out in front of him.
‘The little wimp tried to keep more than I gave him.’
‘You gave him?’ Jasmine didn’t understand, ‘You were divvying out the takings?’
‘Yeah, of course. Wizzer did as he was told, usually, but then he started to whine about deserving more.’ He shoved the knife forward. Jasmine winced and pressed back against the door. Even the sight of a knife made her tremble.
His mother picked herself up and reached a hand up to Nate’s shoulder.
‘Don’t you speak to me like that, Nate.’  She grabbed his shoulder and tugged. Nate span around, the blade sweeping in a large arc, an arc that intersected with the woman’s midriff. She let out a cry and crumpled to the floor. Blood spurted out onto the carpet.
Nate leapt across his mother towards the door to the kitchen. Jasmine ran after him, taking one step over the fallen woman and diving for the boy’s legs. They fell to the floor, the knife falling from his hand as Nate’s head crashed against the kitchen door. Jasmine recovered first, knelt with a knee in the boy’s back and pulled his arms behind his back. She regretted not having her set of handcuffs with her, but she wasn’t on duty and they were sitting in the drawer of her desk at the Police Station.
Nate wriggled. Jasmine pressed harder against his back and gave his arms an extra tug. He squealed.
‘Lie still or I’ll do you some real injury,’ Jasmine said. ‘I’ve got to get some help for your mother.’
Nate subsided. His mother groaned and writhed.
‘Stay still,’ Jasmine ordered, ‘or you’ll bleed to death.’ Jasmine was worried that that was exactly what was happening. She had to get help.  Jasmine’s shoulder bag had miraculously remained around her neck. With her spare hand she fumbled in it for her phone. One handed she dialled three nines and requested an ambulance and the police.
‘Can I trust you not to run, while I try to help your mother,’ Jasmine asked. The boy grunted something like an affirmation. Jasmine let his arms go and shifted her weight off his back. She turned to look at the woman.  Her jumper and leggings were soaking with blood and Jasmine could see that more was seeping out onto the floor.  The woman was haemorrhaging to death. Jasmine pressed her hands against the area of the woman’s abdomen from which the blood seemed to be leaking hoping to stem the flow.  It was all she could do until the paramedics arrived.
There was a scrambling, shuffling noise behind her. She turned her head to see what Nate was up to. A blow caught her temple, wrenching her neck.  There were bright lights amid darkness. The darkness won.
Sirens and door banging penetrated the blackness. She stirred. Her head ached but Jasmine was alert enough to recall what had happened. She found she was lying across Mrs Gayle, her front as bloodied as the injured woman who was now unconscious.
There was another hammering on the door. Jasmine struggled to her feet and turned the knob of the lock. The door swung open. There were two paramedics and a uniformed policeman.
The paramedics looked at her, their eyes wide. They made to move towards her.
‘No, not me. I’m fine. It’s her,’ she pointed to the woman on the floor. The paramedics pushed passed her and descended on Mrs Gayle.
‘What’s happened here?’ the officer asked.
‘Mrs Gayle was injured by a knife held by her son. It was an accident but he’s run off,’ Jasmine summarised. She put her hands to the side of her head which felt sore. She was trying to make sense of what Nate had said.
‘And who are you?’
‘DC Frame. I came to question the boy.’ Jasmine searched in her pocket for her warrant card then remembered that Tom had relieved her of it.
‘DC eh? Where’s your partner?’
‘I’m on my own.’
The PC’s eyebrows rose. ‘Who is your senior officer?’
Jasmine couldn’t avoid saying it, much as she wanted to. ‘It’s DS Palmerston. I think she’ll be at Kintbridge police station.’
‘I’ll get on to him.’
‘Her.’
‘Oh, OK. Are you alright? You look a bit pale but I guess that’s not your blood,’ he nodded to the staining down the front of her jumper and skirt.
Her neck ached and there was a lump on the side of her head. She took a deep breath.
‘No, I’m ok. Perhaps I had better be getting back.’
‘I don’t think you should leave until your superior officer arrives. Let me give her a call.’
‘Oh, alright.’ Jasmine leaned against the wall of the hall felling dizzy and nauseous. She listened to the officer speak into his radio. After a minute or so it sounded as if he had been put through to the DS. Jasmine could hear her high-pitched whine of a voice expressing surprise and anger. The conversation finished.
‘She says she’s coming,’ the PC said, ‘she sounded a bit surprised that you were here.’
‘I bet.’
The officer looked at the backs of the paramedics bent over the woman. ‘Is she going to be OK?’
‘I don’t know,’ Jasmine said, ‘but don’t you think you should put out a call to pick her son up.’
‘Oh, yeah. That’s right.’
Jasmine described the young man and the officer passed on the details to the headquarters staff. She sat on the stairs while the officer talked and the paramedics worked on Mrs Gayle. She was wondering whether she had got the story wrong. She had thought that Wizzer was the boss and Nate the lackey.
The PC finished talking as there was the distant sound of another siren. Less than a minute later, Jasmine saw through the open doorway, an unmarked car screech to a halt next to the ambulance. The easily recognisable figure of DS Palmerston got out and strode towards the house. The street and vehicle lights were enough for Jasmine to see the anger on her face.
……………..to be continued.

Jasmine at large

This has been the second week of our trek around Scotland and north-east England. We’ve had a lovely time but there have been few occasions to write.

1609-penny-edinburgh

Windblown on Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

After the peace of the Morvern peninsula we experienced the crowds of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Whitby. It was certainly a different feel but we saw some wonderful sights.  Aberdeen and Edinburgh really could have been any big cities, each with its own highlights, but I can’t say I felt the Scottishness.  Whitby was amazing. A narrow, deep valley providing the harbour, with the old town clinging to the valley sides. The ruined abbey and the amazing parish church (stuck in a Victorian timewarp) on the clifftop seemingly just a few yards from our guest house yet separated by 199 steps down, a stretch of water and 199 steps up. We couldn’t get over how busy it was at the end of September. Okay, most of the visitors were oldies like us, but nevertheless the buzz was quite incredible.

 

I had a day out in Edinburgh putting my “new look” to the test.  I think it passed, although I probably didn’t but I’m not sure that matters any more. We’ll see how things turn out  over the next month or two so watch this space for my thoughts on my new non-binary image.

And here is a short episode of Perspective, dashed out on the couple of occasions when I was able to sit with the tablet on my lap. Don’t forget that other tales of Jasmine Frame, transsexual detective are available from me or Amazon: novels -Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design; and novellas – Discovering Jasmine  and Murder In Doubt.  All very cheap as e-books

Perspective: Part 9

Jasmine signed for her keys and turned away from the desk as a uniformed officer ushered in two young men. They both seemed a few years younger than her and were slightly built with short, dark hair. Although they were both wearing jeans with jumpers under their leather jackets Jasmine could tell that their clothes were from top brands. These were two well-off young men but they looked scared and anxious. Another officer followed them in and pushed them towards the custody desk. They were unsure what to do and answered questions from the duty officer in shaky, quiet voices.
‘Come on Jas, I’ll run you home,’ Tom said, taking her arm and pulling her through the doorway.
‘Were they the pair of queens?’ She asked as they crossed the cold, wind-blown car park to Tom’s car.
‘Yes,’ Tom replied zapping the car with the key, ‘that’s why I wanted to get you out of there quick. I didn’t want you getting involved with them.’
‘They didn’t look like rabid racists out to beat up a couple of innocent, mixed-race teenagers,’ Jasmine said. She knew looks were deceptive. Many a confident psychopath became a whimpering child-like figure when faced with a cold, echoey cell and the stern face of a hardened custody sergeant.
‘You know that means nothing,’ Tom replied, ‘worked up after an evening on the booze they could have egged each other on.’
‘And launched their attack from their high-heels and thigh-hugging skirts? I don’t think so.’
‘Just get in, Jas. I’ve got work to do this evening.’ Tom ducked into the driving seat. Jasmine got in beside him. ‘And I’m sure Palmerston will get the story out of them when she interviews them,’ he added.
‘Which story? The one she wants to hear or the truth?’
Tom snorted and started the car moving.
Jasmine wanted more information. ‘After all, what evidence has Palmerston got that those two had anything to do with Wizzer’s death?’
‘There’s Gayle’s statement and the CCTV footage showing them at the scene.’
‘But it doesn’t show them attacking the lads does it?’
‘No, but. . .’
‘What about the knife? It looked like Wizzer’s.’
‘It had his blood on it,’ Tom replied eagerly.
‘So it was the weapon that killed him. What about fingerprints?’
‘Just Gayle’s and Smith’s.’
‘Not either of the alleged attackers?’
‘They were probably wearing gloves. Drag queens usually do, don’t they Jas?’
‘How convenient.’
‘Anything else found at the scene?’
Tom hunched over the wheel. ‘I shouldn’t be talking to you about the case, Jas.’
‘Aw, come on, Tom. It’s not as if I can do any investigating when I’m suspended, can I.’
Tom shrugged and gripped the wheel tighter. ‘Smith had a load of cash on him, some bank cards which weren’t in his name and a few phones, one of the them a top of the range i-phone.’
‘There, you are – Wizzer and Nate are a pair of thieves.’
‘There was a purse too, black cloth with multi-coloured beading.’
‘Hey, that’s mine.’
‘It was empty.’
‘Of course it was, they nicked it from my bag. I keep my cards with my warrant card in a pocket though so the little toe-rags only got my cash.’
‘Which is why you’re off the case, Jas. You’re too closely involved.’  He stopped the car outside the entrance to her flat. ‘Now go and put your feet up and relax. Perhaps Palmerston will forget the charge of interference.’
Jasmine pushed the car door open and stepped out. ‘Some hope.’
‘She’s not vindictive, Jas,’ Tom called out.

‘You think?’ Jasmine slammed the door shut and Tom drove away.
Jasmine mounted the steps to her door and put the key in the lock.  The flat was dark and still cold. She stood for a moment in the unlit room before making a decision, then she grabbed her bag and left the flat again. This time she got into her own car and drove off. She made the same journey that she had done earlier in the day – to the estate where Nate and Wizzer lived. This time it was dark and she parked outside Nate’s home. She knew that even doing this she was giving DS Palmerston more ammunition to use against her and what she was going to do next would end her police career. She didn’t care.

………………. to be continued.

Jasmine in clink

wp_20160919_09_48_13_proI was on holiday this week and for the first time I crossed the border – the Scottish border. There are plenty of remote spots in Scotland and we chose one of them – the Morvern peninsula, looking across the Sound of Mull. Apparently fewer than 300 people live on the peninsula which has an area of at least 400 square miles. That’s plenty of space to be alone with one’s thoughts. One thought or perhaps a set of them was what is it like to live in a community that means neighbours are  the people twenty miles away, the nearest town, Fort William, is fifty miles and there is probably more social life going on across the water on Mull. And yet, wifi in the cottage was good, newspapers appeared in the village shop by noon, the post was collected every morning, and the roads, though single track with passing places, were notably lacking in potholes unlike at home in Herefordshire. To conclude, a great place for a holiday, but not sure if I’d want to live there.

Relaxing means writing as far as I am  concerned, so despite the vacation, here’s the next episode of Perspective, the prequel to Painted Ladies.

Perspective: Part 8

The teenager looked out from under the hood of his sweat shirt. He stiffened but didn’t run.
‘You! Wha’ do you wan’?’
‘I want to talk, Nate. Find out what really happened on Friday night. How did Wizzer really get killed?’
Nate pushed himself away from the wall and leaned towards Jasmine.
‘This is ‘arrassment. I told that woman detective, that proper woman, wha’ ‘appened.’
‘Well, tell me again. How did Wizzer get knifed? Why did you run away, a tough street boy like you, Nate? Hero of how many muggings?’
‘I don’t have to. She said you were off the case. You’ve got no right to ask me questions. You’re a fake. A fake woman and a fake copper.’ He shoved Jasmine in the chest and ran off.
Jasmine was about run after him, to grab him and make him tell her the truth, but she didn’t know how to do that. Not when she didn’t have the authority of the police service behind her. She did follow him, at a walk, and saw him turn off the pavement and into one of the houses. Jasmine walked up to the house, stopped and looked at it. It was well-looked after, with freshly painted window frames and curtains at the windows. A face appeared at one of the bedroom windows, before moving away.
‘Got you,’ Jasmine whispered, ‘I know where you live now, Nate.’  She turned away and walked the streets back to where she had left her car.

Back in the flat she couldn’t settle. She wanted to be active, working on the case, any case, but could not think what she could do. There was only one solution when she felt like this. She changed into her running kit and set off on her accustomed route. Ten k or so, largely along the canal towpath, deserted at this time of year, usually calmed her down and answered the questions she had posed herself.
She felt as though she had come to some sort of a decision as she turned into the car park outside her block of flats. She was hot, sweaty and breathing a little faster than when she was at rest but felt good. The sight of a police car parked alongside an unmarked but familiar Ford Mondeo made her halt with her heart beating faster than it had throughout the run. She mounted the steps to her flat.
‘Hi, Tom. What brings you here?’
Tom Shepherd and the uniformed police officer turned away from her front door. Both examined her.
‘There you are, Jas.’ Tom said, his voice flatter than usual. ‘We were looking for you.’
‘Well, here I am; minding my own business; keeping myself fit.’
‘But you haven’t been, have you?’ Tom said
‘What? Keeping fit?’
A pained expression passed across Tom’s face. ‘Don’t be silly, Jas. You know what I mean. You’ve haven’t been minding your own business.’
‘Haven’t I?’ Jasmine tried to look innocent but she knew she wasn’t succeeding.
‘We’re here to arrest you for impersonating a police officer.’
‘I am a police officer.’
‘Not when you’re suspended, Jas.’ Tom nodded to his companion, ‘Arrest her.’
The uniformed police constable recited the familiar rights of the accused and the charge then reached for Jasmine’s arm. Jasmine shook him off.
‘This is her doing, isn’t it? Palmerston’s.’
The officer reached out again and took a firm grip on Jasmine’s left arm.
‘She had no choice, Jas. Mrs Gayle complained about you pestering her son.’
‘Pestering! I had a few words that’s all.’
‘And you just happened to be on the estate where Nate and his friend lived. Come on, Jas.’
Jasmine shook her arm but the grip on it was firm.
‘Alright, Tom. I understand, you’re just doing your job, but can I get changed into something more suitable before you lead me off to the cells.’
‘You know that’s not usual, Jas.’
‘It is necessary for me. Come on Tom. I’m not a criminal.’
Tom looked undecided. He looked at the constable who remained impassive then shrugged.
‘OK but be quick. Denise won’t like it if she thinks we’ve been soft on you. She was furious.’
The policeman released her arm and Jasmine fumbled her key out of the bag fastened around her waist. She inserted it in the door lock.
‘I’m sure she was,’ she said pushing the door open. ‘Come in. Make yourselves comfortable. Make a coffee if you like, Tom. You know where everything is.’
‘We haven’t got time for coffee,’ Tom said following her into the living room. ‘You’ve got five minutes no more.’
His tone of voice convinced Jasmine that while Tom didn’t like what he was doing she could not push their friendship much further. She ran into her bedroom tearing her running gear off. A minute under the shower, another minute drying, a couple of minutes dressing in a jumper and knee-length linen skirt (she knew that cells weren’t always comfortably warm) and a few more minutes doing her make-up.
She emerged into the living room. ‘There!’
Tom looked at his watch. ‘That was ten minutes not five. Come on.’ Jasmine followed him out of the flat not bothering to pick up her bag. It would have to be handed over in the police station. She locked the door and followed the police officers to the police car. Another uniformed officer was sitting in the driving seat. The rear passenger door was opened and Jasmine got in. They drove off with all three of them keeping their thoughts to themselves.

They entered the police station through the rear entrance into the custody suite. It was a strange experience seeing the familiar procedure from the point of view of the accused. She knew the custody sergeant, not well, but well enough to exchange greetings on normal occasions. Now he acted as if they had never met, going through all the questions and checks. In a short time she was shown into a cell and the door closed behind her. There was a heavy clunk of bolts locking into place.
Jasmine sat on the plastic shelf that performed the role of a bed without a mattress, pillow or blankets. The cell was bare and despite the warmth of the air felt chill. The hard surfaces made every sound reverberate; the same effect as singing in bathroom. Not that she felt like singing. She realised that this was probably the final straw for Sloane. If she didn’t get booted out of the Force then he wouldn’t keep her on his team but she wasn’t going to give Palmerston the satisfaction of having her formerly sacked. She had already decided what to do on her run and this incarceration just confirmed it for her. If she had the opportunity she would resign and set herself up as a private detective. There must be all sorts of cases for her to investigate around Kintbridge. She knew that most of them would involve a husband or wife who had lost the trust of their spouse but maybe there would be business partners who had suspicions about each other’s honesty. She knew it would be difficult to get started but surely she had the knowledge, the skills and the contacts to make it work. One thing troubled her – would her provisional status as a woman hold her back. No, she wouldn’t let it.
The sky,, glimpsed through the high window darkened but she passed the time planning her future, fantasising over the cases she might get. She was barely aware of how much time had gone by when the locks clunked and the door swung open. Tom stood by the door.
‘You can go, Jas,’ he said.
Jasmine stood up and smoothed her skirt down her thighs.
‘What do you mean, I can go? I haven’t been interviewed yet or written a statement.’
‘That doesn’t matter for now, Jas. Denise says the charge will be kept pending for a while.’
‘What on earth do you mean by that Tom? What’s Palmerston up to? If she wants to accuse me, she can get on with it.’
‘She doesn’t have time at the moment, Jas, so unless you want to stay here for the night you can go home.’
‘Why is she busy? What’s up Tom?’
Tom stepped inside the cell and whispered, ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this but we’ve got the drag queens.’
‘Really? That didn’t take long.’
Tom bent his head to talk conspiratorially. ‘Once we got the CCTV photos of them they were soon identified by other people who had been in the pub that were known to the landlord. Denise has arrested them on the charge if murder.’
‘So she thinks this pair of queens, on a night out, deliberately attacked and killed Wizzer.’
Tom shrugged. ‘That’s just about it.’
Jasmine stepped passed Tom. ‘Well, she’s wrong.’ She marched down the corridor to the custody desk.

……… to be continued.

 

Jasmine considers her future

wp_20160902_10_44_17_proNot a lot of writing done this week as there have been one or two distractions – two AGMs for a start. I have also been mulling over a few things which perhaps I’ll say and show more of in the near future.  I have decided to have a go at a few agents with The Brides’ Club Murder, having won an up to date copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook in the NAWGfest draw. Who knows what might happen. I don’t want agents and publishers to write Jasmine Frame off as niche interest only. I hope her stories have mainstream appeal while exploring the trans community. With trans people and trans issues such a focus of interest for the media, and crime always a favourite, Jasmine surely has an appeal to publishers. It is just a question of making that first contact.

Anyway, in Perspective, Jasmine is clinging on to her interest in the murder investigation. Here is episode 7.

Perspective: Part 7

Jasmine stretched her arms and legs, slowly surfacing from the unconsciousness of sleep. She was too cosy to open her eyes. The soft duvet and sheets, the firm but comfortable mattress, the warm air, each conspired to keep her snuggled under the covers. It had been a relaxing night’s sleep. A vague thought surfaced that perhaps she should have a hangover after all the wine, that perhaps Angela wouldn’t want her sleeping on.
Angela! Her eyes snapped open and memory returned. She was in the spare bed in their old house, Angela’s house as it soon would be. This wasn’t right. She should be alone in her own flat. She started to push the covers back, realised that she was naked except for the knickers that kept her “appendage” out of sight.
There was a tap on the door. Jasmine hugged the duvet around her.
‘Jas? Are you awake? I’ve got you a cup of tea.’
Tea? She hadn’t had a cup of tea in bed since she had moved out. She cleared her throat then called, ‘Yeah, I’m awake. Come in.’
The door opened a fraction and Angela peered in. She’s checking if I’m covered, Jasmine thought. Angela pushed the door wide and set a mug down on the bedside table. She was fully dressed in a fawn, cowl-necked woollen dress. Jasmine thought she looked smart, work smart.
‘How are you feeling?’ Angela asked, her eyes showing concern.
‘Fine, yes, fine,’ Jasmine replied checking that her first impressions were correct.
‘You shouldn’t be, nor me, after all that wine we got through.’
‘Was it one bottle or two?’
‘The best part of two.’
Jasmine shook her head, ‘I haven’t drunk so much since I moved out.’
‘Well, I’m glad you’re not sitting in that flat knocking back the booze.’
‘No time for that.’ The real reason was that she spent as little time as possible in the dreary flat and was watching her spending too closely to go buying bottles of wine, or spirits.
Angela retreated to the door. ‘Look there’s no real rush. You can stay if you like, but I’m seeing a client at eleven, in Abingdon.’
‘A client? On a Sunday?’
‘A private job. I’m helping with his business accounts. A bit of extra expertise.’
Jasmine knew that Angela was an increasingly high-flying corporate accountant but she understood little about her work.
‘Oh, I see. What’s the time now?’
‘Nine-thirty.’
‘Nine-thirty!’ Jasmine couldn’t remember sleeping in so late. Certainly not since she and Angela ceased to share a bed. She started to twist her body in preparation for leaping out of bed, remembered that she was almost naked. She felt embarrassed about revealing her manly body even to someone who had explored every square centimetre of it. She froze. ‘I’d better get out of your way,’ she muttered.
‘As I said, there’s no rush. I can leave the spare key with you and you could lock up after I’ve gone.’
Jasmine shook her head. That sounded too much like the old days when they had both called this house home. ‘No, I’d better go.’
‘Well, you can use the bathroom. I’ll get you a dressing gown.’ Angela left but reappeared a few moments later. She tossed her own fluffy gown onto the bed then left again.
Jasmine pushed the covers back and put her feet on the floor. She reached for the dressing grown and held it to her face.  There was the hint of Angela’s perfume and more, the odour of a woman. Jasmine wrapped it around herself merging with it.
Standing in the shower, enjoying the comforts of plentiful hot water and a warm environment she reflected again on what she had given up. She knew that Angela wasn’t tempting her to return, as Angela had been her fiercest supporter of her transition while saddened at their break-up. Nevertheless, the home comforts were beguiling. Jasmine dried herself off and borrowed Angela’s razor to shave her face. It wasn’t too successful and she realised that she would have to redo the chore when she got back to her flat. Unplanned nights away were really not an option.  That point was reinforced when she came to dress. She had to put the frankly, rather tarty clothes she had worn the previous evening back on.  Neither did she have all her cosmetics with her. She called down to Angela and got her permission to use hers. When she was moderately satisfied with her appearance she remembered one final daily chore – her hormone tablets. At least she always carried them with her. She popped them down with the remaining drops of the tea.
Down in the kitchen there was orange juice, toast and marmalade and coffee awaiting her. Jasmine glanced at her watch. It was already ten o’clock.
‘It’s okay. You’ve got time to eat your breakfast if you want a lift,’ Angela said.
Jasmine didn’t want to walk the couple of miles back to her flat in the high-heeled boots. She gulped down the juice.
‘Yes, please. I won’t hold you up.’  She gobbled the toast and threw back the coffee which had had time to cool. ‘There,’ she announced, ‘I’m ready.’
Angela had already put on her coat and collected her handbag and briefcase. ‘Let’s go.’
Jasmine waved to the departing Angela and let herself into the cold, dingy flat. She put the heating on. She wasn’t going to freeze on this cold, November day. As she changed into more sensible clothes she reflected on the conversation she and Angela had while they had drained the almost two bottles of wine.  More of it was coming back to her.
First there were her complaints about her job: DS Palmerston’s antipathy, DCI Sloane’s discomfort in her presence, the side-lining in investigations, the monotonous office work.  Angela had advised sticking in there, seeing it through, things would improve but Jasmine had her doubts. A new idea had taken root; one she had never previously contemplated. Perhaps a career in the police force wasn’t for her now she had transitioned to become a woman, but investigating was in her nature. Was there an alternative, as a freelance detective. It seemed unlikely but held an appeal.
Then there was the case. Angela had seized on Jasmine’s mugging by Nate and Wizzer and Palmerston’s apparent exclusion of it in her analysis of the events that lead to Wizzer’s death. Angela questioned the motive of two drag queens attacking two mixed race youths on a cold, damp winter night. Angela’s comments reinforced Jasmine’s hunch. There was something wrong with Palmerston’s version of the affray.
She sat at her dining table and switched on her laptop. While it took its usual long minutes to boot up she considered what she could do. The first thing was to see what the local media thought of the incident.  She soon found reports by the local newspapers and radio stations and a clip from a regional TV report. It was taken outside a scruffy terraced house showing a handful of bunches of garage flowers and a woman being interviewed. She was pale, dark eyed, tearful and barely coherent. Jasmine gathered she was Wizzer’s mother grieving for her lost son. The camera panned back to show the street and Jasmine recognised and located it. Presumably Nate Gayle lived nearby. She had an idea.
Even in the old Fiesta it was just a couple of minutes’ drive to the sixties, former council estate. She drove slowly along the road in which Wizzer’s house stood. There was still a small police car parked outside and one or two more sad looking bouquets propped against the wall.  Jasmine drove around the corner and parked alongside a car of similar vintage to hers that lacked two of its wheels and had polythene instead of glass in the front passenger’s window. She got out, made sure the Fiesta was locked and began to walk. There were few people about on this damp Sunday morning and she wondered whether she would be successful.
She had traversed most of the streets on the small estate, most with houses more looked after than Wizzer’s, when her heart suddenly beat faster.  Slouched against the side wall of a row of garages was a familiar character. He didn’t look up or take any notice of her until she was a few feet away and his escape routes were limited.
She spoke in as friendly a voice as she could muster. ‘Hello again, Nate.’
………to be continued