Jasmine takes a break

And still it goes on – the news I mean. I’m writing this a little early this week but already we’ve had Farage resigning, again, He’d done his job, so he says. No thought about the aftermath or what responsibility he might have. And Chris Evans resigning from Top Gear. I haven’t watched the new series and neither, for a long time, did I watch the old version.  I like James May and Richard Hammond but Clarkson increasingly got on my nerves with his views. But a TV programme is unimportant compared to what is happening to the government of our country. I’ve read and heard Europeans comment that they thought us Brits were calm and thoughtful and wouldn’t, couldn’t, make such a mess of things as leaving the EU. Well, all I can say is that they haven’t met the ones that voted Leave because if they holiday abroad at all, it’s likely that they stay in hotels and camps that are shut off from the country they are in and the only “foreigners” they meet are the waiters, chambermaids, etc. Doesn’t apply to all of them of course.  We shall see what the next week brings.

Having finished Aberration last week I have decided to take a break from writing Jasmine Frame stories for a few weeks.  Writing the stories is fun but each episode takes up a considerable time each week. I also feel I need to give Jasmine a rest so I can get the imagination and creativity going again. I am writing another fantasy novel which I need to devote more time to. I also want to get the third Jasmine novel ready for publication, and perhaps prepare another of the prequels for e-book publication,  so that will keep me busy. It is almost three years since I started writing the prequels and I have finished nine of them (I thought it was just eight!). For those of you that are interested, the table below lists all the Jasmine Frame stories, written, published or planned. There are still a few gaps in Jasmine’s life story, particularly her first years in the police force. However, I don’t really like writing police procedurals and her opportunities for investigations as a uniformed PC may be limited – but we will see.

This blog will continue nevertheless, with comments on the world outside fiction, especially my experience of transgenderism and news about the Jasmine publications (perhaps some free or reduced price offers soon) so I hope you will continue to pop in for a read.

To show how things change in three years here are a couple of photos of me during that time.

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2016, at Hay Festival.

2016, at Hay Festival.

Provisional title date situation crime Publication & length Publication date
Discovering Jasmine 2000 James experimenting with his gender identity Transwoman intimidated by youths Ebook, Discovering Jasmine

20,000w

2015
Soft Focus 2001 James meets Angela at Uni. Transman dies; suicide or murder? Ebook, Murder in Doubt

21,000w

2016
Aberration 2004 James & Angela living together post- graduation Transman killed 16,000w  
Flashlight 2009 James seconded to V&SCU, meets DCI Sloane for the first time. Woman killed by drug overdose supplied by transwoman 24,000w  
Resolution 2009 James appointed to V&SCU. Meets DC Tom Shepherd Colleague (from Flashlight) murdered 23,000w  
Blueprint 2009 James reveals he is trans Crossdresser suicide 38,000w  
Self=portrait 2010 Start of transition Young transman accused of murder 27,000w  
Close-up 2010 Jasmine back at work. Conflict with DS Baby alleged to be snatched in high street 23,000w  
Split Mirror 2011 Separating from Angela, move into flat. Conflict with DS Transwoman disappeared 22,000w  
Painted Ladies 2012 Jasmine working as private detective. Divorce from Angela. Serial killer targeting trans women Ebook & paperback, Painted Ladies 80,000w 2013
Bodies By Design 2012 Biorchidectomy, start of relationship with Viv Transwoman murdered Ebook & paperback, Bodies By Design 72,000w 2015
The Brides’ Club Murder 2012 Electrolysis. Planning to move in with Viv Leader of Bridal wear group murdered t.b.d

76,000w

2016/17
Molly’s Boudoir 2013 Breast augmentation. Living with Viv Arson at trans shop t.b.d. ?
Impersonator 2014 GRS. Female impersonator killed t.b.d. ?

 

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Jasmine timeline

This week life has been a little more normal, whatever that means. It’s been sunny and warm – nice enough to be out in sumer skirts and dresses.

summer - last year!

summer – last year!

I’ve been able to get on with the next (the third) Jasmine Frame novel as well as getting some other jobs done.  I am thinking about the next prequel novella but have decided to give you, dear readers, a rest for a week.  However, there are now eight novel or novella length Jasmine Frame stories counting the current novel in preparation so I thought you might like to see a timeline of Jasmine’s life and how the stories fit in. I’m not going to give away too many details about Jasmine though. You’ll have to read the stories to find out about her, her gender identity and the cases she tackles as a transsexual detective.

Jasmine Frame Timeline
  • 1983 January 23rd: James Frame born (Hastings, sister Holly is 4)
  • 2000 August: Discovering Jasmine  (novella)
  • 2001 November: Bristol University. Soft Focus (novella)
  • 2004 James/Jasmine graduates & joins the police.
  • 2005 July:  marries Angela Madison
  • 2009 June:  Joins ‘Violent and Serious Crime Unit’ in Kintbridge
  • 2009 November: Blueprint (novella)
  • 2010 July: Commences transition; Self-portraits (novella, previously called The Switch)
  • 2010 November:  Close-Up (novella)
  • 2012 January: Jasmine resigns from the police
  • 2012 May: Painted Ladies (novel – published)
  • 2012 August: Bodies by Design (novel)
  • 2012 November: Brides (novel, provisional title, in preparation)

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

 

Jasmine finds an ending

Talking about Painted Ladies in Malvern

Talking about Painted Ladies in Malvern

Well that’s it.  The Festival is over and I’ve completed the fifth Jasmine Frame prequel. Actually the Leominster Festival was good fun, Jasper Fforde was brilliant and we had good audiences for all the events. We could have done with more booklovers at the Bookfair but we learn…  I also made my debut (?!) in an open mike event giving a very short “Jasmine & Me” talk. Got a few laughs in the right places.

Anyway with no more ado, here is the concluding episode of Soft Focus. It’s a bit longer than usual, as it rounds off the story.  As always, I’d love some comments.  There will be a new story starting in due course.

 

 

 

Soft Focus: Part 14

More people were leaving Debenhams than entering when Jasmine and Angela reached the store, heading home after a day’s shopping. They went inside and found the place almost empty. Upstairs at the café, the servers were tidying and cleaning in preparation for shutting down for the day. A young woman served Jasmine, nevertheless, with a couple of glasses of cola. Jasmine picked up the drinks and followed Angela to one of the many vacant tables. She looked around the brightly lit, empty space, examining the few customers remaining. Was Patricia here already? None of the people seemed to fit the image that Jasmine had in her mind.
Jasmine sat opposite Angela and took a sip of the sweet fizzy drink. Over the top of her glass she saw Angela look up. A soft voice came for behind her.
‘Hello. Are you Jasmine?’
Jasmine looked up and saw a middle-aged lady in a red raincoat and rain hat standing beside her. She jumped to her feet. Her chair scraped against the floor as it was pushed backwards.
‘Patricia?’ Jasmine held out her hand and looked at the woman. She was a similar height to herself, with wispy strands of grey hair poking out from below the hat. Her face was heavily made up with red lipstick that matched her coat and hat.
‘Yes,’ she said, pulling out the chair beside Jasmine and sitting down. ‘And you must be Angela.’ She held out her hand across the table to Angela. Angela shook it and smiled.
‘Can I get you a drink?’ Angela said.
‘No, thank you,’ Patricia replied, ‘I haven’t got long. I’ve got to get to work soon.’
Jasmine was intrigued. ‘What do you do?’
‘Just cleaning. I work in a nursing home. That kind of place always needs staff. They were the only jobs I could get after I transitioned.’
‘How long has it been since, er…’ Jasmine asked.
‘My op? Gender reassignment they call it now. It was a sex-change in my time. It’s coming up to ten years since I had the surgery. Of course it’s never really over – I still have to take the pills.’
‘Ten years? So you were quite, um …’
‘Old? Is that what you mean, young lady?’
Jasmine blushed. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.’
Patricia chuckled. ‘Oh, don’t worry, I know you didn’t mean it. You’re young. Anyone over twenty five is old to you I expect.’ Jasmine shook her head to deny the charge but she knew that Patricia was correct. ‘You’re right. I was in my forties when I completed the transition, but it took years. My former employer got rid of me when I started so I had no money to hurry the process and had to wait patiently for the NHS to deal with me.’ Jasmine noted the hint of bitterness in Patricia’s voice.
‘You got the sack for wanting to be a woman?’ Angela said.
‘Yes. It wasn’t unusual in those days,’ Patricia said. ‘It’s a long story, but we didn’t meet to talk about me. You want to know about Silla.’ Patricia’s voice cracked as she said the name.
Jasmine nodded. ‘Yes, please. You said you knew her well.’
Patricia shrugged. ‘I did say that but I wonder if anyone knew her really well. She was very protective of herself. She had to reason to.’
‘Oh, why? Did you know her long?’ Jasmine asked. Angela leaned forward to catch Patricia’s soft voice.
Patricia took a deep breath. ‘It’s about a year. She contacted me when she started at the university. How much do you know about Silla?’
Jasmine shook her head slowly. ‘Not a lot. We met,’ she didn’t add, once. ‘I know she was waiting for her treatment but that’s about it.’ Angela nodded her agreement.
Patricia looked from Jasmine to Angela and back. She seemed to make a decision. ‘Well, I think it will do me good to tell you. Silla’s dead and perhaps her story will come out so I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets.’ Patricia took a hanky from the handbag cradled on her lap and dabbed her eyes. ‘As I said, it was a year ago when she called the number on my website, like you did and asked for help in transitioning. We talked for a long time then, over an hour, and then many, many times since.’
‘Did you meet her?’ Angela asked.
‘Occasionally. Like this, in a public place. I am wary of meeting callers and Silla was always edgy.’
‘You didn’t see her at home?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I don’t give out my address and to be frank I wouldn’t advise trans people to come visiting in my neighbourhood. It’s not the nicest but is the only place I can afford. I wanted to help Silla, like I do my other clients, but self-preservation comes first. Perhaps you haven’t experienced the hate that some people show to trans-people,’ Patricia glared at Jasmine.’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘No, not really. I know it happens.’
‘You’re not full time then?’
‘No.’
‘Think about it very, very carefully. If you do transition you have to be prepared for prejudice.’
‘Yes, I suppose so. Did Silla meet it?’
Patricia laughed. It was more of a grunt. ‘I’ll say. From people she didn’t know and those who should have been looking out for her.’
Jasmine waited patiently. Patricia looked at her. ‘Silla told me her story. Not all at once, but I put it together over the first few conversations we had. She had known that she was different from an early age and experimented dressing up as a girl using her sister’s clothes.’
So far so familiar; Jasmine had done the same.
‘Silla’s father found her dressed one day, beat her black and blue and told her never to do it again. She did of course and eventually got caught again. I don’t know how many beatings she endured. Her mother was no help; scared of her father, I suppose, so told on Silla whenever she found out. But nothing stopped Silla. She knew she was really a girl. A bright girl too. She found out what she had to do to transition and to get the treatment she wanted. But she had to wait. She could have left home at sixteen, but she waited even though it meant more beatings. She knew that to really get away from home she needed a university education. As I said, she was bright. She stayed on at school to take her A levels and got herself a place here. On the day her results came out she told her family she was no longer Kevin John McBride. Her father threw her out and she hasn’t been home since.’
‘That’s awful,’ Angela said.
‘It’s not a unique story,’ Patricia said.
‘Go on,’ Jasmine urged. ‘What happened to her next?’
‘Well, Silla, as Silla, didn’t have any friends up in Liverpool so she got herself down here and camped outside the university offices until they took notice of her and got her into accommodation and registered with the NHS.’
‘Didn’t that make her happy?’ Angela asked, ‘She’d got away from her abusive home life and was being looked after here. Wasn’t that enough?’
Patricia shrugged. ‘You might think so. Perhaps Silla had been damaged by the beatings. She found it difficult making friends because of the years of keeping her true self hidden and she was frustrated by the slowness of the reassignment process and the hoops she had to pass through.’
‘Hoops?’ Angela asked.
‘Such as the psychiatric tests.’ Patricia answered. ‘You have to be judged to be sane to be allowed to go forward through the NHS system. Mind you, how sane are you if you want bits of your body chopped off, surgery that in itself is dangerous and a life where the law doesn’t acknowledge you as the person you feel you are.’
Jasmine shivered. The mention of surgery gave her an image of a knife cutting through flesh. She couldn’t imagine wanting that but if she too wanted to become a woman then that is what she would have to have done to her. Perhaps she was merely a cross-dresser; someone who played at being female from time to time.
‘She got frustrated at the time it was taking,’ Patricia went on.
‘But it’s only been a year,’ Jasmine said. ‘It can take much longer than that.’
‘You know that,’ Patricia agreed, ‘I know that, boy do I know it. But Silla was impatient. And she was having other problems. She fell out with every group she approached – the radical women, the gays, even the other transsexuals she met.’
‘Are there any others?’ Angela asked.
‘Oh yes,’ Patricia replied, ‘But unlike Silla they keep their identities secret. They don’t want the people around them guessing that they’re trans. Silla was annoyed that they wouldn’t take part in action to change the law.’
‘What law?’ Angela asked, with a mystified look on her face.
Jasmine answered. ‘The law the prevents transmen and women from changing their birth certificate when they transition and hence means they can’t marry in their new gender, and employers, and other people can find out who they used to be.’
‘Oh,’ Angela frowned as she took Jasmine’s explanation in. ‘Why don’t trans people fight for a change?’
‘Some do,’ Patricia said, ‘Silla was prepared to but few other are. They’re scared of being found out and the consequences of that.’
‘So Silla was angry at everyone,’ Jasmine summarised.
‘Yes, even me. She said I wasn’t doing enough because I keep my identity hidden behind the website and phone number. I’m not about to go marching and carrying a placard around my street. No thank you. But she kept calling for a chat.’
‘But why did she kill herself?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Well, things kept building up. Her treatment had been put on hold while she had more psych tests. The psychologists told her they were concerned by her instability – she shouted at them. That just made her more angry. She was abused by some yobs outside a pub and the police weren’t interested. She had more arguments with other students. She rang my mobile last night when I was at work. I couldn’t talk for long – I’m only allowed a fifteen minute break.’
Jasmine leaned in, eager to learn more. ‘What did she say?’
‘She was upset, rambling, saying, “what is wrong with me? Why can’t I get on with people?” Then she said something about even swearing at a young tranny who felt she needed to wear a wig.’
Jasmine froze, her mouth open.
‘She ended the call then,’ Patricia continued. ’I tried ringing her number when I clocked off an hour or so later, but she didn’t answer.’
‘You didn’t speak to her again?’ Angela asked. Jasmine was still immobile.
‘No. It was late, I was exhausted. I went to bed and didn’t wake up till my phone rang. It was the police saying they wanted to talk to me about Silla’s death.’
Jasmine saw Angela looking at her. ‘What’s the matter Jasmine? You’ve gone white.’
Jasmine managed to whisper three words. ‘It was me.’
‘What do you mean?’ Angela said, her face screwed up in incomprehension.
‘Silla killed herself because of me.’ Jasmine said, sadness tearing a hole in her heart.
‘I don’t understand,’ Patricia said.
Jasmine felt tears forming in her eyes and running down her cheek. ‘It was me she told you about. I was the tranny she had a go at.’
‘But you’re not wearing a wig,’ Patricia said.
Jasmine brushed her hand through her short blonde hair. ‘No. Angela says I don’t need to, but last night I thought I did – to look feminine. I was wearing a long blonde wig when I met Silla. She was friendly enough at first but when I told her I’m not going for GRS she blew up. She must have felt that I wasn’t supporting her; that I was just playing at dressing up and not taking being trans seriously like her.’ Jasmine could feel a sob building in her throat. ‘I…I tipped her over,’ she stuttered.
Patricia reached out an arm and rested her hand on Jasmine’s shoulder. ‘No, Jasmine. You didn’t cause Silla’s death. She killed herself because she was depressed about her slow progress and the damage done to her over the years by her family. None of us, neither me nor her doctors knew how near the edge she was. The point is if she had been diagnosed as depressive she may not have bene allowed to go through with the treatment anyway. Perhaps she realised that and was able to hide it. I told she was bright.’
Angela reached across the table and took Jasmine’s hand. She squeezed it gently. ‘Patricia’s right Jasmine. It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause Silla’s death. She was sick.’ She turned to Patricia. ‘Thank you for telling us about Silla. It must have been a shock for you too.’
Patricia nodded. ‘It was. Lots of trans people commit suicide before, during and after their transition but Silla was the first I knew well, or thought I did. Look I’ve got to get to work.’ She rose to her feet. ‘You’ve got my number, Jasmine. Call me some time and we can talk about Silla again, or about yourself.’
‘Thanks,’ Jasmine muttered as Patricia turned and walked away.
Angela also stood up and circled around the table to put her arms around Jasmine’s shoulders. She bent down and kissed her cheek.
‘Come on, let’s go too. You can close your case, Detective Frame. We know what happened to Silla McBride, now.’
Jasmine reached up and took Angela’s hand and pushed herself to her feet. ‘Yes, I suppose so. I don’t want to go through what she did. I guess I’m not transsexual.’
‘Well, I don’t mind whether you’re Jasmine or James, I’d like to get to know you better and I want to cheer you up. You said you like dancing. How about the Union? There’s a DJ tonight.’

THE END

…………………………..

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

 

Jasmine seeks Patricia

As this weekend is going to be somewhat busy I am setting this up on Friday morning with the next (the thirteenth!) episode of Soft Focus below.

A sunny day at Hay Festival

A sunny day at Hay Festival

This week it has all been about the Leominster Festival.  This afternoon and evening I will be with Jasper Fforde, the best selling author of the Nursery Crime, Thursday Next and Last Dragonslayer books.  First he’s helping out at a workshop at our local primary school. Then he’s presenting the certificates at the awards ceremony for our Writing Competition and finally he gets to talk about his writings and perhaps sell a few books.

Tomorrow (Saturday) it’s our Bookfair at Grange Court with contributions from about twenty local authors – displays, talks, book selling (we hope!) – and writing workshops. I’m hoping for a good crowd of visiting booklovers.

Finally in the evening I’m performing at the Festival Open Mic night – presenting a very brief “Jasmine & Me” and hoping for renewed interest in Painted Ladies. It will be interesting to see what response I get when I take the mic.

After all that it will be nice to have something of a rest next week and get back to writing the third Jasmine Frame novel – but more of that later.  Here’s the next episode in the prequel, Soft Focus.

 

 

Soft Focus: Part 13

A ringtone sounded from DC Thomson’s jacket pocket. He reached into it and pulled out a mobile phone that he raised to his ear.
‘Thomson,’ he said then listened for a few moments, then said, ‘OK. On my way.’ He thumbed the off button and dropped the phone back into his pocket. He looked at Jasmine and Angela.
‘Look, girls, I’ve got to go.’
‘But, what did Patricia tell you about Silla?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I’m sorry, there’s no time,’ Thomson said moving to the door, opening it and standing there waiting for Jasmine and Angela to leave. ‘Anyway, I think I’ve told you more than I should,’ he added.
‘What do you mean?’ Angela asked as she took Jasmine’s hand and dragged her towards the doorway.
‘I shouldn’t really have shown you that video or mentioned Patricia, but I wanted you to understand that Silla McBride wasn’t murdered.’
‘But who is Patricia?’ Jasmine said resisting Angela’s tugs. ‘What’s her phone number?’
‘I can’t tell you that,’ Thomson said.
Angela had got Jasmine through the door but Jasmine looked back over her shoulder at the detective. ‘How can we get in touch with her then?’
‘All I can tell you is she works, volunteers, for a group called TransWest. Now come on, I’ve got to show you out and move on.’

Less than a minute later Angela and Jasmine were standing on the pavement outside the police station.
‘That’s it then,’ Angela said, ‘Silla did kill herself. It wasn’t Martie’s or Rachel’s fault or anyone’s.’
‘I wouldn’t say that,’ Jasmine said, frowning. ‘We’ve got to speak to Patricia.’
Angela sighed. ‘Why? Haven’t you had enough of investigating?’
‘I want to know why Silla did it. It seems this Patricia woman knew a lot about her. She can tell us what happened to Silla.’
‘But we don’t know who or where she is?’
‘We’ve got to contact this TransWest lot.’
‘How? Who are they?’
‘They’ll be a transgender self-help group. There’s lots of them all over the country. Some are national organisations, others just work locally.’
‘This sounds like a local one. West country perhaps.’
‘That’s right. It may be a group of trans-people or perhaps just one or two, maybe just Patricia. I’ve come across organisations like that elsewhere.’
‘Oh, right. How do we contact them?’
‘They might have a phone number in the directory or have a website. I need to get to a computer that’s on-line.’
‘We’d better head back to the Union then,’ Angela said, taking Jasmine’s hand.
‘You sure you want to come. I’ve taken up your day with all this questioning.’
Angela grinned. ‘I’ll come with you. It’s been quite fun playing at detectives and I’m getting to learn more about you, Jasmine.’
‘Oh,’ Jasmine said, not sure what Angela was learning. They set off retracing their steps back to the university area at the top of the hill.

“There it is!” Jasmine leaned in to the screen. Having found a spare computer in the Student Union’s internet café it hadn’t taken long to find the TransWest website.
‘A bit dull and simple,’ Angela said looking over Jasmine’s shoulder at the lines of text on a plain pink background. The website was just a single page which described the organisation as providing support for transsexuals, in particular those considering and going through transition from male to female. There was an email address and phone number – a landline. Jasmine put the number into her mobile phone and closed down the computer.
‘Let’s give it a go,’ she said, rising from the chair.
‘Here?’ Angela said.
‘No, somewhere more private,’ Jasmine waved her hand at all the heads crouched over computer screens and keyboards.
‘The Common Room’s probably quiet at this time on a Saturday,’ Angela said.
‘Yeah, let’s go.’ Jasmine followed Angela out of the computer room down a wide corridor and into a large room furnished with stained and battered easy chairs and sofas. It was, as Angela had predicted, empty. Jasmine crossed the room to a window and looked out onto the city. The November daylight was already fading. She retrieved the number she had stored and pressed “dial”. Jasmine held the phone to her ear and heard the beeps as the connection was made and then the ringtone. It continued ringing for quite a while until Jasmine was about to give up. There was a click.
‘Hello?’ a soft, breathy voice said
‘Is that TransWest?’ Jasmine said.
‘Yes, it is. Can I help you?’ The voice seemed more confident and lower in tone.
‘I am trying to contact someone called Patricia,’ Jasmine said.
There was silence for a few moments. ‘Who is speaking please?’ the voice trembled slightly.
‘My name is Jasmine. I’m trans.’
‘I see. Have you rung us before?’
‘No.’
‘How did you get the name of Patricia?’
‘Um. It was through Silla, Silla McBride.’
There was a silence that dragged on until Jasmine wondered if the phone line had gone dead. Finally the voice spoke again, but in a quivery whisper.
‘Did you know Silla, Jasmine?’
‘Yes, I met her.’ Jasmine thought of crossing her fingers but she hadn’t told a lie. Not yet.
‘Silla is dead.’
‘I know.’
‘Why do want to speak to Patricia?’
‘I was told that she knew Silla. Knew her well.’
‘Who told you that?’
Jasmine bit her lip. If she said the police had told her about Patricia then the speaker may be frightened and put the phone down. Also Thomson seemed to regret having given so much information away to two members of the public. Perhaps she should keep her informant’s identity secret.
‘I’m sorry I can’t say over the phone.’ Jasmine almost expected the phone to be put down on her. ‘Look perhaps I can explain. I was with Silla last evening. When I heard this morning that she was dead I couldn’t believe that she had killed herself. I want to find out why she did it and I think Patricia may have some ideas.’
‘Why didn’t you think Silla could kill herself?’
‘Because she seemed so alive. Angry, yes, but she seemed determined to get her transition completed and to fight for the rights of transsexuals.’
‘You’re right but there was more to it than that. She had her problems.’
Jasmine heard the sadness and the knowledge in the voice. ‘Are you Patricia?’
There was another pause. ‘Yes, I am, and you’re right. I did know Silla well, I think.’
‘Can I meet you? I really do want to know more about Silla.’
‘Hmm. I don’t know. I don’t know who you are. Are you really trans? You could be someone from the papers for all I know. A Sun reporter digging for a story about Silla.’ The voice broke up into sobs and then faded.
‘Patricia? Patricia, are you still there? I’m not a journalist. I’m a student like Silla. I just want to know what happened to her. Please can we meet?’
There were sniffles on the line before Patricia spoke again. ‘Alright, I suppose I could do with talking about Silla to someone who knew her. When do you want to meet?’
Jasmine felt excited and eager. ‘Now. This afternoon.’
‘Oh. Yes, well I suppose so. Do you know the café in Debenhams in Broadmead?’
‘Um, yes, I suppose so.’ Jasmine had never been there but thought she could remember where the store was.
‘I could meet you there in an hour. Will that do you?’
‘Yes, thank you, Patricia. I really appreciate it.’
‘How will I know you?’
How could she describe herself? ‘Well I’ve got short blonde hair. I’m wearing a denim miniskirt and black tights and a puffer jacket?’
‘A what?’
‘A quilted anorak thing.’
‘Oh, I see.’
‘And I’ll be with my friend,’ (she almost said girlfriend), ‘Angela.’
‘Is she trans too?’
‘No, she’s a Real Girl.’ Jasmine glanced at Angela who was looking at her intently and following the conversation. ‘And really pretty,’ she added. Angela smiled.
‘Alright, I’ll see you there in an hour.’ The line went dead. Jasmine dropped her hand holding the phone from her ear.
‘We’re meeting this Patricia?’ Angela said.
‘Yes.’
‘Where?’
‘Debenhams café, in an hour.’
‘We’d better get moving – it’s quite a walk there, back down the hill again.’
‘We could catch a bus.’
‘Probably wait an hour to get one.’
‘OK. Let’s walk.’ Jasmine took Angela’s hand in his and set off from the Common Room.
‘So it was Patricia who answered the phone?’ Angela said as they hastened out of the Students’ Union building.
‘Yes. I sort of guessed it was after I asked to speak to Patricia.’
‘She was wary of you?’
‘Yes, I don’t know why. Do I sound threatening?’ Jasmine was mystified.
‘No, but I’m not surprised. Just think about it. Someone who she has been close to – remember all those phone calls that DC Thomson said she had with Silla – has just killed herself by jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Apart from the shock of that she must know that the media are going to be interested especially as the person is a young transsexual.’
‘Hmm. Yes. She did wonder if I was with the Sun.’
‘There you are. She has a right to be wary. But she’s agreed to see you, us.’
Jasmine felt cheered. ‘Yes, so perhaps we will find out what was really going on with Silla.’
………………….
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

Jasmine learns the truth

A busy week, largely due to preparations for the Leominster Festival. If any of you out there are close enough then come to hear best selling author, Jasper Fforde talk about his humorous, satirical, surreal novels (The Nursery Crime series, The Thursday Next series and the Last Dragonslayer series.) – 7 p.m. Friday 5th June at Grange Court (tickets £5). Then on the next day (Saturday 6th) we have a free Bookfair, also at Grange Court – 20 authors in search of readers, plus workshops for writers (there is a fee for the workshops).

In the picture at Hay Festival 2015

In the picture at Hay Festival 2015

We did manage one day in Hay. Starting at the Literary Festival, we had a good browse in the bookshop and attended two events.  The first was very amusing. James Ward spoke about his book “Adventures in Stationery”.  It was for anyone who loves a new pen or eagerly anticipated the start of a school year by getting their pencil case filled with new pencils, rubbers, etc. Actually it was a very good history of important(?) inventions – the paperclip, the drawing pin, the felt/fibre tip pen, the highlighter pen.  I hadn’t realised how much I was in the vanguard of felt tip pen users when in around 1965 I, and my mates, used them instead of old-fashioned crayons for our Geography maps and illustrations – they’d only been invented a couple of years earlier.  Probably the last time I was in the vanguard for anything. James had excellent comic timing and really made the subject matter gripping (that’s not a pun on paperclips).

Following an interesting discussion of NIMBYism in renewable energy provision we moved to the How the Light Gets In festival – the rival and smaller but simultaneous philosophy festival.  There we attended a discussion on “the sublime”. Interesting, if as usual with philosophy, with little in the way of outcome or agreement other than that the sublime is, well, “Wow!”

Not much time to work on Jasmine this week but here is a slightly shorter than usual episode of Soft Focus, the (5th) prequel to Painted Ladies.

Soft Focus – Part 12

DC Thomson led Jasmine and Angela out of the interview room, along the corridor, up a stairs, down another, brighter corridor and into another room. This was a more cheerful environment, with carpet and chairs around a large segmented table. There were windows looking out over the traffic clogged roads of the city centre. The detective signalled to Jasmine and Angela to sit down. These seats did at least move.
‘Don’t go anywhere, girls. I’ll be back in two ticks.’ Thomson left them alone.
‘Why has he brought us here?’ Angela said. Jasmine looked around the room. It seemed to be a meeting room for police officers with a white board on the wall, noticeboards with typed and scribbled notes and a large TV on a mobile stand.
‘I don’t know,’ Jasmine replied.
It was indeed, just a few moments before the DC returned with a videotape in his hand. He went straight to the TV stand, pressed a couple of buttons and inserted the tape into the player beneath the TV. The TV screen lit up and Jasmine saw flickering dark pictures. She began to realise what Thomson intended.
‘Is this a tape of CCTV recordings?’ She asked.
‘Yes,’ Thomson replied, concentrating on the screen and holding down a button on the player. ‘I think what this tape shows will provide an answer your suspicions. There.’ The DC lifted his finger and stood up straight looking at the TV screen. He stepped back allowing Jasmine and Angela an unimpeded view.
The picture was fuzzy dark grey but a line of street lights provided some sort of perspective to the picture. Peering at the screen Jasmine was able to make out lines that represented a pavement. A blurry vehicle appeared at the top of the screen and quickly moved across it and out of view at the bottom.
‘Is that the suspension bridge?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Yes,’ DC Thomson said. He leaned forward to read the small numbers at the top of the screen. ‘At two-forty this morning.’
‘But Silla didn’t fall from the middle of the bridge,’ Jasmine said.
‘This isn’t the main span, this is showing the approach from the east.’
‘We didn’t think there were cameras there,’ Angela said.
‘There are. High up on the towers. They’re mainly used to check on traffic congestion on the approach road, but they also help to pick up potential suicides. Most head onto the centre span but some people, knowing that that stretch is watched all the time, jump from here. Watch.’
No movement showed on the screen for another minute or so and then a figure appeared at the top left walking along the pavement. Is that Silla, Jasmine asked herself. The image quality was poor, the lighting bad, the figure small and distant. It could have been anyone. The figure approached the tower until it reached the bottom corner of the picture. Then it stopped, leaned against the rail and seemed to be looking over into the gorge.
Jasmine felt her heart beating fast with anticipation. Was it really Silla? What was she going to do? Where were her assailants?
The figure reached up and grasped the safety fence above the old cast iron rail. She, presuming it was Silla, clambered up. She stood on the rail for a few moments, then cocked her leg over the fence. Her other leg followed and there, for a moment, she hung on the outside of the bridge. Her face shone white as she faced the lights and the camera. She seemed to look up, then pulled her hands away and fell backwards. She disappeared from view.
Jasmine leapt from her seat her hands raised as if to catch Silla. ‘No!’ She fell back on to her seat again. ‘That can’t have been Silla,’ she said knowing immediately that it was a stupid thing to say.
‘We only had one other jumper last night,’ DC Thomson said softly. ‘The cameras only show this one person falling from the bridge.’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘But, but. She can’t have just jumped. Where were the people who pushed her?’
Angela moved closer to Jasmine, enfolded her in her arms and leaned down to put her head close to Jasmine’s.
‘It must be Silla, Jasmine. Don’t you see? She wasn’t murdered. She killed herself.’
Tears filled Jasmine’s eyes. There was a lump in her chest. ‘Why?’ She appealed.
DC Thomson sat in a chair next to Jasmine. ‘I understand why you thought, hoped, that someone had killed Silla. It’s difficult to put yourself in the position of someone who is so pissed off with life that they’ll jump into space knowing that that is their end. But while you’ve been talking to the people she didn’t get on with I’ve been meeting her friends.’
Jasmine looked up into the detective’s face. ‘Friends? I didn’t think she had friends.’
‘Do you mean the girls she shared with?’ Angela asked.
Thomson shook his head. ‘No, not them. It’s clear that they didn’t get on with her either. No I’m talking about her transsexual friends, or rather friend, singular.’
‘Who was that?’ Angela said.
‘I haven’t met any others at uni., yet,’ Jasmine said, mystified. ‘There must be others. I suppose they keep their head down, unlike Silla. They don’t want their original identities discovered.’
Thomson shook his head. ‘This person isn’t at the university. She lives in the city though. She’s older, been through it all. A sort of mentor more than a friend.’
‘How did you trace her?’ Jasmine asked.
‘What’s her name?’ Angela inquired.
‘She’s called Patricia. Her number was on Silla’s mobile phone. We found it in her room. She hadn’t taken it with her when she went off to jump.’
‘How did you know that Patricia was her, um, mentor?’ Jasmine said.
‘The number of calls she had logged was a clue. Silla spoke to Patricia a few times every day. I called her and then met her. She told me Silla’s story.’
‘Story?’ Angela said.
‘Her life,’ Thomson continued, ‘her history of treatment for, what is it called, uh, Gender Dysphoria? The reasons why she killed herself.’
……………….
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

Jasmine accuses

A quick visit to Malvern this week to take part in another of Jill’s promotional events, this time in the Malvern Lounge. I read two short pieces from Painted Ladies – different excerpts to my usual offering.  They seemed to go down well – and secured a sale, so that was good. Lovely to meet some other lovely writers and artists who were very welcoming of me as Penny, and thanks again to Jill for her energetic efforts.

Talking about Painted Ladies in Malvern

Talking about Painted Ladies in Malvern

And so to the next episode of Soft Focus, the prequel to Painted Ladies dating from Jasmine’s first days at university.

Soft Focus: Part 11

Outside the burger bar Angela caught up with Jasmine and linked arms with her.
‘Are you sure about this?’ Angela asked.
‘Yes.’ Jasmine didn’t hesitate in her stride.
‘You’re happy to go into a police station and speak to them?’
Jasmine turned her face to Angela. ‘Yes, why shouldn’t I.’
‘Well…’ Angela hesitated. ‘You’re Jasmine. The police will need to know who you are. You’ll have to tell them you’re real name.’
‘So?’
‘Are you sure they’ll, um, be alright with you.’
‘Do you mean, you think the police may be just a little bit “prejudiced”?’ Jasmine was surprised by Angela’s assumption.
‘Well, might they be? How many years is it since the Stephen Lawrence thing and the police were found to be, what was it, “institutionally racist”?’
Jasmine laughed. ‘It’s two thousand and one now Angela. The police persecuted trans people in the past, but that was before I was born. They’re more understanding now.’
Angela’s eyebrows rose. ‘Are you sure? I thought transsexuals are fighting for changes in the law to be recognised in the gender they live as.’
‘Yes. I know but that’s a matter of the law. The police are much better. I know.’
‘How?’
‘I’ve worked with the police, at home, in Hastings.’
Angela stopped walking, tugging Jasmine to a halt. ‘You’ve done what?’
‘I’ve helped with an investigation. Come on.’ Jasmine started walking again drawing Angela with her.
‘How? Why?’
‘Oh, it was nothing really.’
‘Come on Jasmine. You can’t do that to me. How did you, Jasmine, get involved with the Police?’
‘Well…’ Starting hesitantly but steadily becoming excited, Jasmine told the story of her previous encounters with the police. When she had finished her tale the modern office block that was the Bridewell Police Station was in front of them across a busy road.
‘So you want to join the Police and become a detective,’ Angela said as they stopped on the kerb waiting for traffic lights to change.
‘Yes, I’d like that. I think it would be an interesting career.’
‘For Jasmine or James.’
‘James of course.’ Jasmine hadn’t imagined working as a woman.
The green man lit up and they crossed to the entrance to the Police Station. They entered a foyer furnished with a few uncomfortable-looking chairs and approached a glazed counter. A woman in a uniform turned from a desk to greet them.
‘Hello. Can I help you?’
Jasmine took a deep breath. ‘Yes, please. We have information about Silla’s death.’
There was a confused expression on the woman’s face. ‘Silla?’
‘She fell from the suspension bridge last night,’ Jasmine explained.
Comprehension appeared in the woman’s expression. ‘Oh, that case. The suicide.’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘No. We think it was murder. Silla was pushed or thrown from the bridge.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘We’d like to speak to the investigating officer,’ Jasmine said, ignoring the desk officer’s question.
The woman frowned. ‘You have some information?’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine said, clenching her fists with determination.
The woman examined first Jasmine and then Angela. ‘What are your names?’
‘Jasmine Frame and Angela, uh…’
‘Madison,’ Angela filled in.
The woman moved back from the window. ‘I’ll see if anyone is available. Take a seat.’
Jasmine retreated to one of the low upholstered chairs and sat down. She pulled her skirt down her thighs and made sure her knees were together, then sat upright.
Angela sat beside her and leaned towards her. ‘What information do we have?’ She whispered.
‘We can tell them that we know that Silla was not suicidal and we can tell them about our interviews with Martie and Rachel.’
‘Interviews?’
‘Alright. Conversations.’
‘I’m not sure they were even that.’
Minutes passed and in the cool, unwelcoming atmosphere of the police station entrance Jasmine didn’t feel like making chat with Angela and she apparently felt the same as she too remained silent. Jasmine looked at the posters on the walls, warning of thieves, the dangers of drink-driving and to be on the lookout for suspect packages in this period of increased anxiety about terrorism. Angela sat beside her curling her hair around her finger then pulling it out.
After what had seemed an interminable time but was in fact, as Jasmine confirmed by glancing at the wall clock, just ten minutes, the door from the interior of the police station opened. A man in a dark grey suit appeared. He had short brown hair with a tinge of silver at the temples and carried himself like an athlete, walking almost on his toes. However a slight paunch suggested that his athletic days may have been in the past.
‘Miss Frame and Miss Madison?’ he asked, releasing the door and stepping towards them. Jasmine and Angela jumped to their feet side by side and nodded energetically.
‘I’m Detective Constable Thomson. I’m told you have some information about Silla McBride.’
Hearing Silla’s surname for only the second time reminded Jasmine of her conversation with her, still less than twenty four hours earlier.
‘Yes, that’s right,’ Jasmine replied. ‘She was murdered.’
Jasmine saw the police officer’s eyebrows flutter but otherwise his face remained expressionless. His eyes seemed to bore into her looking for evidence for her statement. He blinked and a hint of a smile crossed his lips.
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I don’t think this is the best place to discuss this. You’d better come through to the interview room.’ He turned to the door and fingered the key pad beside it. The lock made an audible clunk and he pulled the door open. The detective waved them through. Jasmine and Angela stepped into a narrow corridor. They stood looking bewildered while DC Thomson walked around them and opened another door. He held it open for them and they entered a small windowless room. There was a simple steel-framed table in the middle of the floor, four chairs positioned around it and a light directly above. Thomson indicated for them to sit down.
Jasmine crossed the vinyl floor and sat in a chair with Angela beside her. She tried to pull the chair up to the table and found that it was fixed to the floor, as was the table.
DC Thomson sat opposite them and took a notebook and pen from the inside pocket of his jacket. He placed them on the table in front of him.
‘Now why do you think Silla McBride was murdered?’
Jasmine replied, ‘She must have been pushed or thrown off the bridge. She wouldn’t have jumped.’
‘Why wouldn’t she?’
‘She wasn’t suicidal. She was looking forward to completing her transition and to fighting for her rights.’
DC Thomson smiled gently at Jasmine. ‘She told you this, did she?’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine replied with confidence.
‘When?’
‘Last night. In the Union. It was an LGBT party.’
‘How long have you known, Silla McBride?’
Jasmine opened her mouth to speak, stopped, dropped her head. ‘Only last night,’ she said quietly.
The police officer leaned forward. ‘Sorry, I missed that. Did you say you met her for the first time last night?’
‘Yes… but I understood her,’ Jasmine was regaining her confidence, ‘I knew what she was going on about. We’re sort of similar.’
‘You’re a transsexual too.’ It wasn’t a question. Jasmine realised that she had been speaking with a masculine tone. The detective had read her at once.
‘Not transsexual, but I am trans.’
‘But on the basis of one evening’s meeting you feel able to diagnose Silla’s mental state.’
Jasmine didn’t think she should say it was just a few minutes, not even a whole evening.
‘Yes,’ she said, her voice faltering. DC Thomson turned his head to face Angela.
‘What about you Miss Madison. Do you agree with your friend?’
‘Uh, yes, I think so, I mean Silla never struck me as depressed.’
‘You knew her for longer than one evening?’
‘I met her a few times.’
‘A few?’
‘Well two or three.’
The detective let out a sigh which was more like a groan. ‘OK, so neither of you think that Silla McBride was disposed to killing herself,’ Jasmine nodded vigorously while Angela dipped her had slowly. ‘Let’s just assume for a moment that despite barely knowing her, that you’re right,’ Thomson continued, ‘Do you have any theories about who might have done the deed?’
Jasmine perked up. ‘We know that she had a tussle with Martie and he didn’t like her at all.’
‘Martie who?’
‘Um. I don’t know his surname.’ Jasmine looked to Angela for help but she merely shrugged. ‘He’s gay, lives in Pembroke Rd. He hates trans people.’
‘Like you?’
‘Yes, me too.’
‘Do you think this Martie guy could get an unwilling transsexual over the side of the bridge? There’s quite a high fence you know.’ Jasmine could see that DC Thomson was sceptical.
‘Perhaps some of his friends helped or perhaps he drugged Silla.’
DC Thomson sat back in his chair and folded his arms.
‘Were you there? Did you see them?’
‘No, but…’
Thomson turned his palms up. ‘Without evidence…’
‘There’s the Radical Women and Rachel, they didn’t like Silla either.’
‘Rachel?’ The detective repeated.
‘Wise,’ Angela interjected, ‘She’s leader of the Radical Women and Jasmine is right, she didn’t consider Silla was a real woman.’
‘So you think she and her radical girlfriends chucked Silla over the bridge?’
Angela didn’t reply and Jasmine remained silent thinking that they weren’t going to convince DC Thomson.
The detective stood up. ‘Come with me girls. I think you need to see something.’
………………….

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

Jasmine decides

I’m getting ahead of myself this week as I am writing this on Wednesday for publication on Saturday morning. I had the next episode of Soft Focus in my head and wanted to get it down before other things got in the way and filled the rest of the week.
I often wish that other things didn’t intrude so that I could devote all my time to writing – Jasmine Frame stories, SF/Fantasy and other ideas that float around my brain. Then I wonder whether in fact spending all my time at my desk would stifle my imagination and writing would become a bore. I’m unlikely to find out because I have never been single-minded about things; I couldn’t even make up my mind between chemistry and physics at university and throughout my career I would devote time to this and that whereas a determined individual might have pursued one straight route to the top – of something.  The trouble (is it a problem?) is that I am interested in all sorts of things but carrying out a task in one topic can allow me to procrastinate in another. One thing I’m not pursuing with due diligence at the moment is promoting the Jasmine Frame stories as much as I should, and that must change.  There, an aim and objective.  But while we await developments, here’s the next episode of the tale of Jasmine Frame as a student.

Summer is nearly here again

Summer is nearly here again

Soft Focus: Part 10

They were some distance from the women’s protest before Jasmine started to feel comfortable again. The caterwauling of Rachel and her followers attracted the notice of the passers-by who had given Jasmine a more thorough examination than usual. She felt exposed and vulnerable. Now though the Saturday shoppers wandered by without a second look at her. She was grateful to be anonymous again, simply a young a woman out for the afternoon with her friend. Awareness returned and she noticed that they were walking down the hill towards the cathedral and the docks.
‘Where are we going now?’ Jasmine said to Angela who was at her side.
‘I don’t know. I’m just keeping up with you. You set off so quickly from Rachel and her gang that I thought you just wanted to get away.’
‘I did.’
‘Are you, OK?’ Angela’s voice showed concern and that gave Jasmine a warm feeling. It was a strange feeling, a new feeling. Someone, who wasn’t related to her, cared for her.
‘Yes. I am now. But those women! They hated Silla. They hated me.’
Angela stopped and grabbed Jasmine’s hand. Jasmine was jerked to a halt. She turned to face Angela whose large, wide brown eyes were fixed on her face.
‘Don’t worry about them. They think they are standing for all women but they don’t. Not all women think that trans-people like Silla are fakes. I don’t think you are a fake. I’m not sure I understand this gender thing but I knew a few girls at school who were anorexic and I think they were similar – their image of themselves didn’t match their bodies.’
Jasmine nodded slowly. ‘It’s not quite the same, anorexia and gender dysphoria but I know what you mean. I don’t think I hate my body. I’m not sure. But Silla certainly did. Even in just the short talk we had I could see that she was desperate to change hers.’
‘That’s right. So I’m prepared to believe that Silla was a woman inside her head and there’s at least some of that in you. Rachel and her mates can’t see that. They just see the part of the person that’s on show and think that anyone with the body of a man must have the character and emotions of a man, and in their eyes that’s all bad.’
Angela’s forthrightness surprised Jasmine. She was expressing ideas that Jasmine had thought of but rarely put into words.
Angela continued. ‘But I don’t think Rachel or any of the others had anything to do with Silla’s death.’
Jasmine considered. Rachel’s denial of any role in Silla’s plunge from the bridge was certainly vehement, and Jasmine sensed that it was the truth.
‘I don’t know how good I am at picking out liars but I think you’re right, Angela. Like Martie, Rachel didn’t like Silla, not at all, but I don’t think she was bothered enough about her to kill her. What do we do now?’
‘Well, I don’t know about you, Jasmine, but I’m starving.’
Jasmine hadn’t been thinking about food but now that Angela mentioned it she realised that she was hungry too. Just two coffees in the whole day so far left a big hole.
‘So am I. Where shall we go? Back to the Union, or to your flat or mine. I’m not sure there’s much food in our place.’
‘I don’t think I can wait much longer. Let’s go in a café, there’s lots down here.’
Jasmine clutched her shoulder bag, mentally counting how much money she had inside it. ‘I haven’t got much cash.’
‘I’ll treat you,’ Angela said grabbing Jasmine’s arm and guiding her into the Burger King that happened to be the nearest cafe.

Jasmine sat in the plastic chair munching on her burger and looking across the table at Angela. She wondered how the young woman could make even stuffing a large bun in her mouth look elegant. She didn’t feel anything like as adept.
Jasmine swallowed and cleared her mouth. ‘So who did kill Silla?’
Angela shrugged, and through a mouthful of fries, managed to say. ‘We’ve crossed off Martie and Rachel.’
‘I suppose there are other gays and radical women who might have done it,’ Jasmine said.
‘I suppose so, but where do we start? It could be anyone.’ Angela took another large but delicate bite into her cheeseburger.
Jasmine had to agree with her. Martie and Rachel were the most outspoken of Silla’s critics and no other potential tranny-bashers, either male or female, had revealed themselves. She shrugged and continued eating.
‘What about other trans-people?’ Angela mumbled through a full mouth.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, what if there was another trans-person who had fallen out with Silla for some reason?’
‘Why?’
‘I don’t know. Perhaps they were angry at the way Silla was drawing attention to transgendered people.’
‘I don’t know any other transsexuals or transvestites. Not here anyway.’
Jasmine saw Angela’s eyebrows rise in disbelief. She put her burger back in its box. ‘Really? But there must be hundreds at the university out of the thousands and thousands of students.’
‘I’m sure there are. Well, dozens anyway, but I haven’t met them. Not yet.’
‘Why not?’
‘I suppose it’s secrecy. A lot of transsexuals, most, just want to get on with their lives; fitting in to society in the gender they feel they belong to. They don’t want to draw attention to themselves and get outed. Silla was unusual in that she made a lot of noise about being TS.’
‘Hmm. I get that.’
‘And the others like me, the cross-dressers, well, they probably don’t want anyone to know about it either in case they get ridiculed or worse. Transvestites will come out when there’s an occasion when other people are having a bit of laugh, a fancy dress party or something. Then they can pull on a dress and a wig and it’s a big joke. If anyone thought they were serious they’d probably die of embarrassment.’
‘I see. But there are advice groups at the university for trans-women and men.’
‘I know but I haven’t joined them. I didn’t think they were for me. I’m not transitioning.’
‘But you did join the LGBT group. You came out as Jasmine last night.’
Jasmine chuckled. ‘That was Andy. We got thrown together sharing the flat and sort of hit it off the first week. One night we got drunk over a few beers in the Union and he confessed that he was gay. I kind of decided I had to give him something back so told him I was a tranny.’
‘So he got you to come out.’
‘Yes, I wanted to. I want to be Jasmine a lot but I was scared. You know, new place, new people. Andy said that the LGBT group would be the place to start; that they’d all be understanding and welcoming. So I decided to give it a go.’
‘I’m glad.’ Angela reached for Jasmine’s hand and gave it a squeeze.
‘But the point is,’ Jasmine continued, ‘Silla was the first and only other transgender person I’ve met since coming here.’
Angela screwed up her empty fries carton and put it in the burger box. ‘So we haven’t got any more suspects.’
‘No.’
‘There’s nothing more we can do, then.’
‘Yes, there is,’ Jasmine was determined not to let the investigation into Silla’s death fizzle out. ‘We must report to the police.’
Angela looked surprised. ‘Report what?’
‘What we know about Silla. The discussions we’ve had with Martie and Rachel and our suspicions about how she died.’
‘Do you think they’ll want to know that?’
‘Silla’s dead.’ Jasmine was adamant. ‘The police have to investigate her death properly. We have a duty to tell them everything we know.’
Angela screwed up her face. ‘OK… if you say so.’
‘Where’s the police station?’ Jasmine rose from her seat.
‘Down the hill, and somewhere up towards The Haymarket, I think.’
‘Right come on. We mustn’t waste any more time before we pass on our information.’
Jasmine gathered up her rubbish and shoved it into the disposal bin. She strode from the café with renewed determination. Angela followed.

……………………

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg