First of all a sneak preview of the cover for Bodies By Design which will be available as an e-book and paperback in September. More of that in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week I read something on Linked-in that chimed with some thoughts I have had in the past. It was recounting the continuing spat between radical feminists and trans activists. The feminists pointed out that the media fall on a man who suggests that women’s brains are different to men’s causing women to be emotional and weepy and all that. Remember what happened Prof Tim Hunt when he described female scientists as tearful and prone to falling in love. On the other hand, famous trans women like Caitlin Jenner are feted for their stories of “feeling like a woman trapped in a man’s body” and how they knew they were female because of all the emotions they felt. The feminists don’t think trans people should get away with this arguent. Although I am trans or non-binary or whatever label you want to use, I think I side with the feminists on this. Too often trans people, particularly cross-dressers, present a stereotypical image of what a woman is – either the sexy young things (cf Caitlin Jenner in Vanity Fair) or the elderly mother figure. Many transsexuals claim, like Jenner, that they are female because their minds are different to what they think a man’s should be.
I really don’t know what differences there are, if any, between a male brain, a female brain or indeed a trans brain. I don’t know whether my identification with being trans is because the neurone connections in my brain resemble a woman’s. All I know is I like wearing clothes which are generally found in the female part of the catalogue, I like wearing dangly ear rings, I like wearing lipstick and I like having my hair done in what may be considered a more feminine style. What I’m getting to is that I’m getting pretty fed up with the distinctions that are made between male and female, not just by the authorities but by feminist groups, trans groups and many other groups. I would just like to be considered as me.
So to the sixth episode of Split Mirror – the Jasmine Frame prequel to Painted Ladies. Enjoy!
Split Mirror: Part 6
‘God, Jas. Have you been here all night?’
Jasmine looked up from her computer screen and saw Tom Shepherd standing over it. Her eyelids felt heavy and she blinked.
‘No, not all night.’ She yawned and stretched her shoulders.
‘Well, it looks like it. You look knackered.’
Jasmine thought that was probably a pretty fair statement. She stood up and stretched her back and arms. Her breast enhancements moved in her bra and she quickly shoved them back into place and sat down again.
‘Thanks for the compliments,’ she replied finally.
‘Well, what’s the problem? Did you spend all night unpacking?’ Tom was showing real concern for her.
She thought of the boxes still filling her living room. ‘No, I haven’t started unpacking yet. I couldn’t sleep. Things on my mind.’
‘What things?’ Tom’s face showed fear as he realised that he might have been prying, ‘Sorry. Is it this split from Angela or your, um, transition, you know . . .’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘No, none of that. Well a little bit I suppose. I miss Ange and the flat’s a dump. But no I was thinking about Diana Stretfield.’
Now Tom looked mystified. ‘Stretfield? I don’t recall a case with that name.’
‘The missing person.’
‘Oh, from yesterday. The woman who came in. But I thought we hadn’t picked up that case.’
‘That’s what Sloane and Palmerston said.’
Tom’s worried look returned. ‘You’re not disobeying Denise again are you?’
‘I needed confirmation, Tom.’
‘Confirmation of what?’
‘That Diana is a trans-woman.’
Tom sighed, moved round the desk and pulled up a chair beside Jasmine’s. He folded his frame into it.
‘I see. It got to you personally did it. What did you do?’
‘I went to see her.’
‘The woman who reported the missing person?’
‘Is she a trans-woman?’
‘No, Tom. Debbie Stretfield was married to Donald Stretfield who became Diana. They divorced but still live together.’
‘Right, got it. You’ve got to admit Jas, this trans stuff gets pretty confusing.’
‘Yes, Tom. I know exactly how complicated it gets.’
‘So you met this woman.’
‘I presume the other woman, the trans-woman still hasn’t turned up.’
‘So what did you find out?’
‘Diana has completed her transition; had all the surgery and so on. She’s a complete woman.’ Jasmine realised that there was a wistfulness in her voice.
‘That’s what you want. Is that right, Jas?’
‘Yes, Tom. But it takes years. The Stretfield’s used all their savings to pay for a lot of it, but both of them lost their jobs. Diana had to wait for the NHS to do the final gender reassignment surgery.’
‘That’s when she was given an, um, . . .’
‘Vagina. You can say it, Tom.’
Tom’s face coloured, ‘Yes, I know, but. . . Anyway, what has this got to do with her going missing?’
‘It seems that once she had recovered she became eager to try out her new equipment.’
Tom looked vague for a moment then understanding dawned. ‘Ah, you mean she wanted to have sex with a man.’
‘Yes, it seems to have become an obsession with her, but she was still living with Debbie. The only way she could think of to achieve her wish was to slip out for an evening of dogging.’
‘Dogging!’ Tom laughed.
‘Yes, you know that layby on the A4 near the motorway junction.’
‘I know it. I’ve been down there a couple of times when there have been reports of things getting out of hand.’
‘So have I, Tom. I went there last night.’
‘You did what?’
‘Diana’s car had been reported abandoned there so after I left Debbie I went there. I didn’t tell her that was where Diana went.’
‘But you went on your own to a known public sex environment?’
‘Was there anyone there?’
‘Yes, quite a few.’
‘They could have attacked you.’ Tom paused as if thoughts were going round in his head. ‘You’re a woman. You might have been raped. No. If they found you were still a . . ., I mean you still have a . . . They might have killed you, Jas!’
Jasmine let Tom stumble on. ‘None of that happened.’ Although she knew Ton was right and that she had put herself in a vulnerable position.
‘What did you see? Was there stuff going on? Did you speak to any of them?’
‘I saw people having sex watched by other people, men; and, yes, I spoke to a couple of the “participants”. They both knew Diana, I think they’d both had sex with her at one time or another and they knew she was trans but since she was able to satisfy them they didn’t seem too bothered.’
‘Did they know where she was?’
‘No, but one of them, Big Dick . . .’
‘Because he had one?’ Tom giggled
‘Yes, Tom. Big Dick said he saw her the night before last, Wednesday, and she may have gone off with a guy who had a high sided white van.’
Tom’s face showed interest. ‘Did they know this guy?’
‘No. He wasn’t a regular at the PSE. But it looks as though he might be someone who goes from site to site. His van was padded inside.’
‘Just what you need for driving off with a kidnappee.’
‘Have your reported this to anyone? You’re not sitting on it hoping to trace this Stretfield woman, are you?’
Jasmine sighed. ‘I’m not that stupid, Tom. I’ve informed missing persons of all that I know.’
‘No. It was dark of course, and Big Dick didn’t see it. Of course there were other people there on Wednesday evening who may have seen it, but I didn’t question them all.’
‘No of course not, Jas. Did they, er, molest you?’
Jasmine snorted. ‘They showed interest in me. Asked me to join them in the back of a car, so I didn’t hang round. The uniform boys and girls can go down there this evening and speak to everyone they can get hold of. Perhaps they’ll be able to trace this van and the driver.’
Tom didn’t speak for a few moments then he looked at Jasmine and at her computer screen which had reverted to its screen saver. ‘But you’ve been here for a while, haven’t you Jasmine. What are you up to?’
‘I told you. I couldn’t sleep. I kept on thinking about Diana. If I’m right, she’s been in the hands of this white van man for going on thirty six hours. She may well be dead. I kept imagining what this guy might have wanted to take her away for. If he’s not satisfied with fucking women in a public place what else does he get up to in his fancy van?’
‘So I came in early, about five, to start digging.’
Tom nodded slowly, ‘Ah, I see. You’ve got an idea.’
‘Well, not much of one. I thought since he hadn’t been seen at this PSE before perhaps he’s picked up women from other sites.’
‘That’s a good one.’
‘So I’ve been through all the missing person reports for the last year.’
‘That must have been a huge number, Jas.’
‘Of course it is, but I limited it to women, not young girls, they don’t tend get to dogging sites, and I started with Berkshire and then widened it out to the M4 corridor.’
‘Well, this site is close to the motorway. He’s got a white van. I thought there was a chance he might drive up and down it for some work reason.’
‘Hmm, yes. Did you get anywhere?’
‘Perhaps. I’ve found two case of women who have gone missing in the last year who were known to visit particular PSEs.’
Tom’s eyes widened, ‘Really? Where?’
‘One outside Cardiff and the other near Swindon. They’re both similar sites to the one here – overnight lorry parks a few hundred yards off the motorway.’
‘The women – have they turned up?’
‘No. Not a sign. No bodies, no clues.’
‘Did the local police link the two cases?’
Jasmine shook her head and tapped her keyboard to wake up the computer. ‘It doesn’t look like it. There’s no link between the two reports flagged. Two doesn’t make a pattern, three perhaps does.’
‘That’s true. Did they question the doggers?’
‘Some. At both sites the women were known by sight and er, other attributes, but no names. That’s the point about dogging isn’t it – no questions sex with strangers.’
‘Was there anything at all in the reports?’
Jasmine’s fingers played over her keyboard and files appeared on the screen. ‘The investigations weren’t very thorough. They were missing persons inquiries and the women were single. With no evidence that they’d been abducted, or worse, not a lot was done. Nobody that the police interviewed reported the women going off with anyone in particular. But I’ve been through the recorded notes and in both cases someone mentions a white van.’
‘Didn’t they follow it up?’ Tom sounded critical.
‘Why should they? It’s not the only unfamiliar vehicle mentioned in the reports. No one says they saw the women get into it, and no one has looked at the two sets of records looking for correlations.’
‘Have you told anyone about this, Jas?’
‘Not yet, Tom. I’ve just spent the last few hours digging it out. I haven’t compiled a report yet.’
‘You’re going to have to tell Palmerston. Or Sloane.’
‘I know, but there’s something else.’
‘I think I’ve seen the white van.’
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