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 – the second novel

Bodies By Design – now available in paperback

Layout 1Having reached the end of the prequel, Split Mirror, at a convenient time I can now announce that the second Jasmine Frame novel, Bodies By Design is now available to order in paperback form (it is also available as an ebook).  Go to the Jasmine Frame Publications page to find out how you can get hold of your copy.  You’ll find a short excerpt below to whet your appetite.

IMGP4717However to digress for a moment – with transgender remaining a subject of journalists’ fascination it is interesting that the media snake is now starting to bite its tail. An article in last week’s Guardian (or Observer, I can’t remember which) asked whether it was right for non trans people to play trans characters on screen.  The main focus is of course the part played by Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl but of course applies to previous film portrayals of trans women such as Transamerica, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and others where the trans character is played by a “cis-” man or woman.  I would have liked to have seen these parts played by a transwoman but I am not sure that it is a principle that has to be enforced rigidly. The point is that a part should be given to the actor who is able to play it well. A good actor can take on many roles which may differ greatly from their own personality. On the other hand a trans woman is indistinguishable from any other woman and so, if she is a good actor, can also play any part. What I am saying is that the watcher should not be able to tell if any part played on screen is being played by a trans or cis person.  However I hope that no trans-actor is being discriminated against simply for being trans.

Anyway, back to Bodies By Design. The novel follows on some three months after the events of Painted Ladies and Jasmine again becomes involved in the investigation  of a murder while undergoing a significant stage in her own transition.

Bodies By Design: The 2nd Jasmine Frame Novel – excerpt

Jasmine sank down while raising the camera to her eye. She peered through the viewfinder, choosing her shot. Would the picture show whether he was relying on the crutch for support? Did he need it? Was he the benefits cheat the FIS suspected? Was he going to get in and drive off? Jasmine clicked off a few shots.
The subject, a middle-aged man with greying brown hair wearing old jeans and a battered sweatshirt, reached inside the car and withdrew a package. He closed the door. He began to move with difficulty around the bonnet back towards the pavement. Good, he wasn’t going to drive off, not yet anyway. Jasmine took a few more pictures. He paused, looked up the road. Jasmine wondered whether he had noticed her but he was staring, not at her but at something on the pavement opposite. He began to walk quickly, almost breaking into a run, his crutch not performing any role at all
High pitched cries finally penetrated Jasmine’s consciousness.
‘Fire! Help!’
Jasmine looked out of her side window. Standing on the kerb opposite was a young woman with wavy brown hair wearing denim micro shorts and a cut-off vest. She was shouting.
Jasmine dropped the camera onto the passenger seat, grabbed her shoulder bag and opened the car door.
‘What’s the matter?’ she called, getting out.
‘There’s a fire! Upstairs!’ The girl ran towards her just as Jasmine’s subject arrived puffing and leaning on his crutch. The girl pointed to the top floor of one of the Edwardian terraced houses. ‘I heard the alarm going off,’ she added.
Jasmine looked up. Thin wisps of dark smoke rose into the sky from a small dormer window.
‘Is there anyone up there?’
‘Xristal. Oh my God, I think she might be trapped!’ The girl shivered.
‘Show me the way!’ Jasmine’s training took over and she spoke firmly. She urged the girl back towards the house, hurrying her along. The subject followed more slowly.
There were two doors in the front porch. The right one was open. The girl led Jasmine into a dark hallway, through a small kitchen and out into a gravelled backyard. A steel staircase rose to the upper floors. The smoke alarm’s whine was clearly audible.
‘Do you have a phone?’ Jasmine asked the girl.
‘Yes.’
‘Well, dial 999 and get the fire service here as quick as you can!’ Jasmine ran up the staircase. Two short flights brought her to a narrow landing and a door to the first floor flat. Two more flights and she stood at the door to the top flat. The alarm was deafening.

………………

Jasmine again!

Layout 1

Bodies By Design – the 2nd Jasmine Frame novel is now available as an e-book on kindle, price £1.99 from Amazon.

The paperback will be on sale very soon, and can be ordered from booksellers or from paintedladiesnovel@btinternet.com for £9.99 inc post & packing.  Here’s the back cover blurb

Jasmine Frame is back …
Three months after the events of Painted Ladies, Jasmine responds to a call for help and finds herself involved in a murder case by the special request of DCI Sloane. But who or what was the victim? What was the motive? Jasmine’s investigation leads into the murkier regions of the transgender scene. Meanwhile her own transition is progressing and she is about to take an irreversible step to lose her masculinity. What are the parallels between her situation and that of the murder victim? Did both hope to achieve bodies by design?

I am delighted to at last have a sequel to Painted Ladies available for existing fans of Jasmine and for new readers and I am really looking forward to seeing the paperbacks. If you would like to have a copy for review please contact me at the email address given above.

But for another taste of Jasmine Frame here’s the latest episode of the prequel, Split Mirror.

Split Mirror: Part 11

Jasmine leaned back in her chair. Her heart was beating fast. Could Cox have been more blatant? To advertise his taste in lovemaking through his van registration number was simply arrogant. But this was the number plate that Debbie must have seen not the one on the van that Tom investigated. Tom would surely have noted the unauthorised distribution of the numbers and the not-so-hidden meaning. Yet they were the same number. Cox must be running two vans on the same plates; identical vans with one set up for his business and the other for his pleasure. She breathed deeply. Cox was the kidnapper; she was sure of it. But where did he keep his vans and where was Diana? He must run his business from somewhere.
It only took moments to search the Kintbridge directories and then Jasmine reached for her phone. Palmerston’s line was engaged, so was Tom’s. They’d be busy setting up their cordon and rounding up the doggers now. She waited till Tom’s voicemail cut in.
‘Tom. Stop what you’re doing, it’s a waste of time. Cox is the abductor, I’m certain. I’m going to his garage – it’s on the Mill Lane industrial estate. Meet me there soon as you can.’
She ended the call grabbed her bag and coat and ran from the office. It crossed her mind that she was disobeying DS Palmerston’s orders but it didn’t matter. If there was chance to find Diana Stretfield she had to take it.
Crossing the car park she pulled her coat on and fumbled for her car keys. The key missed the keyhole in the door twice before it slid in. She lamented the lack of remote locking on the old Fiesta. Sitting in the driver’s seat she muttered a prayer as she turned the key in the ignition. The engine groaned into life causing her to smile. Prayers did work occasionally then.
It was less than a mile to the industrial estate but it always seemed an unfamiliar world of metal clad boxes of various sizes. She drove slowly along Mill Lane peering through the February darkness for some sign of the building she was looking for. There it was, a small, single storey shed between two larger, more recent blocks, with Cox’s name above the entrance. She drove passed before she stopped and got out, remembering to pick up her big torch.
Jasmine stood by her car and examined her surroundings. At this time of night all the warehouses, workshops and offices were empty and shut-up. There were few street lights and only one or two of the buildings were lit up. Cox’s garage, set back from the road, in the shadow of its neighbours was the darkest of all. She walked slowly onto the forecourt. No other vehicles went by and there were no pedestrians. She was alone. She hoped that Tom had picked up the message and was at this moment racing to support her.
The front of the building was a concertina door wide enough for two cars. Jasmine found the handle, gripped it and tried to turn or tug it. It was immoveable although the doors rattled. There were no windows but no light crept from beneath or above the entrance. Cox didn’t appear to be present. She walked to the left side of the building. There was a bigger gap here to the neighbouring warehouse than on the other side. Her shoes crunched the gravel as she walked up the driveway to the back of the garage. The darkness deepened and she flicked her torch on.
She reached the end of the side wall and took a step beyond. The torch illuminated a concrete hard-standing and, as she lifted it, the back of a tall white van. The reflective number plate sent the light back to her, RUF SEKS. This was it – the unmarked white Renault Traffic; not the one that Tom has seen. A few steps took her to the back of the van. She reached for the handle.
A metallic crashing was followed by a shaft of light showing in a small dirty window in the back wall of the garage. The sound of the doors at the front of the garage being folded back went on for a few more moments. Jasmine retreated to the corner of the building. There was the reverberating grumble of an engine as the vehicle drove into the garage. The engine stopped.
Jasmine switched off her torch and pressed against the side wall. She leaned forward to peer around the corner. A door opened and the back of the van was suddenly in light. A silhouette moved from the door to the rear of the van, tugged the doors open and reached inside.
Cox, surely it as him, dragged the body from inside the van until its feet fell to the ground. Then he put his arms around the naked torso, lifted it from the floor of the van and lowered it to the concrete.
The body lay in the trapezium of light cast by the open door. Dark shoulder length hair, open mouth gagged, breasts, ankles and wrists bound. It’s Diana, Jasmine thought. I’m too late, she’s dead. Then there was a faint groan and the knees bent. No, she’s still alive, Jasmine rejoiced.
Cox bent over the naked, bound woman. ‘It was fun while it lasted but you’re in the way now,’ he muttered. ‘Time to go.’
He reached into the thigh pocket of his overalls and drew out a large wrench. He straightened up and lifted the wrench above his head.
‘No!’ Jasmine shouted. One, two, three paces, and she was in the air, the torch clattering to the ground. She thudded into Cox’s side, her hands reaching for his wrist. He toppled over, falling with Jasmine on top. His hand hit the concrete and the wrench slipped from his grasp. Jasmine was astride him, grabbing his wrists pressing them to the concrete above his head.
Cox was bigger than her, stronger perhaps but she had gravity on her side, still had her masculine muscle tone, and more importantly, skill. He wriggled, struggled to push her off, but she used his movements to roll him on to his front and twist his arms behind his back. He growled and tried to throw her off but she gave his wrists and extra twist. He howled and lay still.
A siren sounded at the front of the garage, a screech of tyres, then faint shouts.
‘Jasmine! Where are you?’
‘Tom!’ She called as loudly as she could, ‘Round the back.’
Feet running on gravel, getting louder, then panting and, ‘what the. .? Is that Cox?’
‘Help me, Tom. I need to check Diana.’
Tom was at her side, resting his knees on Cox’s back, taking his wrists from Jasmine and snapping handcuffs around them. Jasmine moved to Diana’s side. Flat on the concrete with her arms bound behind her back and ankles chained together, she was shaking her breathing through the gag coming in short, fast gasps. Jasmine pulled her coat off, laid it over the naked woman, lifted her so that the coat wrapped around her and hugged her to her own body.
‘She’s freezing Tom. Call an ambulance.’
‘OK. Get her inside it might be warmer there.’ Tom stood up and, still keeping a foot on Cox’s back, pulled his phone from his pocket. Jasmine half dragged, half carried Diana through the open door into the garage. The front of the garage was open and the space for vehicles was partly filled by the van covered in Cox’s advertising, but there was the usual clutter of tyres, tools and spare parts in one corner and a desk covered with oil smudged papers in the other. There was a battered leather revolving chair at the desk. Jasmine heaved Diana to the chair and gently lowered her into it. She pulled her coat around the woman and reached to the back of her head to find the buckle of the leather straps that held the ball gag in her mouth. She undid them and pulled the gag from Diana’s mouth. It came away with a “pop”. The woman gasped.
Jasmine bent down to peer at her face, ‘Diana, how do you feel?’
Diana’s face was white, her lips pale and she was still shivering uncontrollably. She moaned rather than answering. Jasmine bit her lip, worried. She looked around the untidy office area. There must be heating somewhere here. Cox couldn’t work in the freezing cold. She saw an electric fire under the desk, traced the mains lead back to the socket and switched it on. The heater lit up and immediately gave out warmth.
‘An ambulance is on its way,’ Tom called from outside, ‘and so is Denise.’
Even as he spoke, Jasmine heard another siren approaching and then a Mondeo appeared on the forecourt followed by a police car. She watched Palmerston get out and stride towards her.
‘What do you think you are doing, Frame, leaving your post?’
‘He was going to kill her,’ Jasmine protested. ‘Diana would have been dead if I hadn’t got here in time.’
‘Where’s Cox?’ Palmerston demanded.
Jasmine nodded to the open door. ‘Out there. Tom’s got him.’
Palmerston, turned and looked down at Diana. ‘How is she?’
‘I think she’s suffering from hypothermia. An ambulance is coming.’
Palmerston snorted. ‘I’ll see that you’re reprimanded for disobeying orders, Frame.’ She stalked out to assist Tom. Two uniformed policemen arrived looking confused and unsure what to do.
Jasmine knelt and examined the steel cuffs and chains binding Diana’s feet. They were locked in place. She turned to the policemen.
‘See if you can get the keys out of Cox,’ she nodded at the door, ‘or find me a bolt cutters or hacksaw or something to get these things off her.’
The officers split up and one started searching through the scattered tools while the other joined Tom and Palmerston outside.
Another siren sounded, a different tone. The ambulance at last, Jasmine thought.

………
Painted Ladies front cover jpegPainted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame story is available as a paperback and ebook from all booksellers including Amazon

Jasmine alone

Not a lot of time this week for writing but things are moving with publication of Bodies By Design – the 2nd Jasmine Frame Novel, as both a paperback and e-book and the novella Discovering Jasmine as an e-book.  I hope I’ll have a publication date and lots of info next week.

Rebecca Root has been getting plenty of publicity for her role in the new BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl – an interview in Guardian Weekend and a feature in Radio Times are just the ones I’ve seen. I’ve got high hopes for the series in presenting transpeople in comic situations where the joke is not “silly bloke in a dress” but the ridiculous situations we find ourselves in.  Ms Root comes across as a likeable and sensible woman and I hope she has lots of success with this role and others. It will be great to see a transwoman playing a transwoman. It would be even better seeing a transwoman playing a woman’s role but the whole point is that once transition is complete there is no distinction so really we shouldn’t notice. On the other hand I wouldn’t want to insist that all trans-roles should be played by trans-people, after all acting is about playing a part. In classic theatre there is a lot of playing with roles – all male and all female Shakespeare, women taking traditional male roles and vice versa (e.g. Helen Mirren as Prospero/a in The Tempest). How about an all-trans Hamlet? Theatre (and film) should not be censored in any way.

I’d love to see Rebecca Root playing Jasmine – okay she’s a little old for the part and not blonde, but make-up does wonders.

Anyway here is the next episode in the prequel to Painted Ladies. It’s building up to a climax – just wait.

Split Mirror: Part 10

Jasmine ended the call and dropped her phone on to her desk. Almost at once it beeped and she grabbed it up again, thinking Tom had got back to her straight away, but it was only a text alert. The receptionist at her GP surgery was reminding her that she had an appointment at five o’clock today. She had forgotten about it and wondered how she could have done. These appointments with Dr Jilly Gould were important to her as they moved her forward in her transition even if each step seemed to be infinitesimal in size. She hoped that this time Jilly would be happy with the effects of the hormones she had been taking for three months, not that she had seen much change in her body shape yet. Perhaps there would be news from the gender reassignment clinic. Oh, how she hoped to be given a date for her surgery but she knew that was unlikely. She would have a few more years yet to practice patience.
The phone rang and vibrated in her hand. She jumped in her seat realising that she had been day-dreaming. She glanced at the screen; this time it was Tom. She pressed the answer button and held the mobile to her ear.
‘Tom. Did you get my message?’
‘Yes, Jas, but it’s a downer I’m afraid.’
‘The wrong van?’
‘Yes. Sorry, Jas. It was parked on the pavement outside the houses. A Renault Traffic, high top.’
‘That’s right.’
‘Plastered with the name of the owner, Steve Cox, and his phone number. He’s a car mechanic; does motorway rescues. Nice guy, early forties, still lives with his mother. She’s a bit dotty but said he’s very proud of his van now he’s got his name all over it. I’m coming back in. I’ve told Palmerston. I expect she’ll be speaking to you any moment.’
Jasmine felt a weight in her stomach. She’d so hoped that they were on Diana’s trail even though it had been a long shot. ‘Thanks Tom,’ she said and ended the call. She looked over the top of her monitor and saw DS Palmerston advancing towards her.
‘Frame. Your information proved to be of no use, as I expected.’ There was obvious glee in her voice. ‘Now I suppose we have to go about finding Stretfield the proper way although I still think there’s a good possibility that she has just walked out on her look-alike partner with or without this unknown van driver. At least it gives us a chance to disrupt the obscenities occurring in that layby.’
Jasmine listened to her monologue without comment awaiting the instructions that she knew would be coming. She wasn’t disappointed.
‘Put together a team to round up those sex maniacs this evening. We’ll need about a dozen uniformed officers and see if Kingston and Money are free to come along with Shepherd. We’ll need transport and a mobile incident vehicle so we can interview them individually on the spot. Inform highways and the area commanders. Make sure we can all speak to each other. I want to set up the cordon at twenty hundred. Got it?’
Jasmine certainly had. She knew she had an afternoon of phone calls and form-filling to set up an operation of this size.
She nodded. ‘What about me Ma’am?’
Palmerston looked confused. ‘What do you mean?’
‘What role do I have in the operation?’
Surprise made the DS’s eyes widen. ‘You’ll be here of course. Monitoring communications.’
Of course, Jasmine thought, how had she ever expected anything else? Left behind as usual, playing no real part in the proceedings.
‘We’ll find out if this white van man really does exist. Get on with it Frame.’ Palmerston turned on her heels and headed for Sloane’s office.
Jasmine breathed in deeply and got down to work. She’d be lucky if she had everything arranged in time for her doctor’s appointment.

7

‘I’m really sorry I’m late, Jilly,’ Jasmine said as she pushed the door of Dr Gould’s office open. The young GP glanced at her screen.
‘Only a couple of minutes, Jasmine. I hadn’t got round to thinking of taking my next patient yet. Busy?’
Jasmine sat in the chair beside Jilly’s desk, tugged her skirt down her thighs, and put her fingers through her hair. ‘Yes. A rushed job on. I’ve got to go straight back but I didn’t wasn’t to miss seeing you.’
‘So we’re not going to get that quiet drink and chat this evening, then.’
Jasmine laughed. It felt like her first real laugh for days. This mythical drink and chat was a constant source of amusement since they had never yet managed to coordinate their busy working days to allow them a couple of hours together. ‘One day,’ she said.
Jilly’s face took on a serious expression. ‘I’m glad you managed to get here though. It’s important that we keep these regular appointments so I can monitor your reactions to the hormones. Could you take your shirt off, please Jasmine?’
Jasmine obliged but felt embarrassed sitting in just her bra when it was only supporting her silicone falsies. Dr Gould used her instruments to measure her heart beat and blood pressure and took a sample of blood. She kept up a stream of questions and chat.
‘Have you noticed any changes?’
‘No, no really. My breasts feel a sensitive and sore at times but I don’t think they’ve grown.’
‘It’s early days yet, Jasmine. It’s not quite three months is it?’
‘Nearly. I started in November.’
‘And don’t forget you’ve got the antiandrogens fighting your testosterone and well as the oestrogens. I’m not even sure we’ve got the dose right yet. It’s a delicate balance and the reason for all these tests.’
Jasmine nodded. ‘I understand Jilly. I’m just impatient to be fully a woman.’
‘I know, Jasmine.’ Dr Gould tipped her head on one side and gazed at her. ‘Well, I don’t really. I can’t really understand what it must be like to feel that your body is not in tune with your identity. You’re teaching me an awful lot. I appreciate it. You can dress now.’
Jasmine gratefully began to pull her shirt on.
‘What about moods?’ Jilly asked.
‘What about them?’ Jasmine asked feeling a bit wary of Jilly’s question.
‘Well, you are like a girl going through puberty with all these hormones sloshing around inside you and you know what they are like. How do you feel?’
‘It’s difficult to say,’ Jasmine replied. She didn’t want to confess to the times she burst into tears or snapped at Angela or Tom or other colleagues or the days when it was a struggle to even get out of bed. ‘Work has been difficult,’ she admitted, ‘but that’s because my senior officers keep leaving me out of operations so I’m stuck in the office.’
‘Perhaps they think they are protecting you while you go through your transition.’
Was Sloane protecting her? Perhaps, but not Palmerston.
‘Our DS has got it in for me. She hates transwomen.’
‘Oh, that’s a pity. You shouldn’t have to face abuse in the workplace. What does Angela say?’
‘We’re not together anymore. I’ve moved out.’
‘Oh, when? Where?’
Jasmine struggled to recall since she had hardly spent any time in the flat but an image of untouched boxes and bags came to her. ‘Um, Wednesday. It’s a one bedroom flat on Bristol Road. I haven’t had a chance to do anything to it yet or even unpack.’
‘But you have started your life as a single woman.’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine said knowing that her tone of voice revealed her feelings.
‘You miss Angela?’ Jilly asked.
‘Yes,’ Jasmine admitted, ‘I know we had to split up for Angela’s sake. She doesn’t want a lesbian relationship. But, well, we got on.’
‘You were, are, very close Jasmine. It’s bound to be hard for you for a while. But try and stay positive and this problem with your colleagues – don’t let it get to you.’
Jasmine knew what the doctor was getting at. Any sign of depression or mental ill health and she would be off the gender reassignment waiting list. It was a sort of catch 22. Some people thought she must be mad to want to alter her body but only if she was judged completely sane would she be allowed to do it.
‘I won’t,’ she said. ‘If that’s it, Jilly, I’d better head back to work.’ Jasmine rose to her feet
‘Yes, that’s all for now, Jasmine, but we need to meet fairly frequently to make sure your hormone balance is correct.’
Jasmine was already heading for the door. ‘Sorry I’ve got to rush. Thanks Jilly.’

Over two hours had gone by since her return to the office. Jasmine was alone, the room strangely quiet and peaceful. DS Palmerston had been in along with Tom Shepherd, Kingston and Money. They had collected their instructions and Jasmine had confirmed all the arrangements. Now they, along with the uniformed officers were on their way to round up and question the doggers at the public sex site. Jasmine had nothing to do except seethe at being left on her own. All she could do was listen in to the communications between the police officers but there was none at the moment. She deeply resented being left out of the operation and allowed herself to dwell on her bitterness. It wasn’t even likely that they’d glean anything useful from interviewing the participants and voyeurs in the sex play. The chances were slim that anyone recorded the registration of the white van in the dark layby while there was exciting activity taking place.
Jasmine couldn’t avoid being disappointed that Tom had turned up the wrong van but something about it bothered her. She pulled out her mobile phone and rang Debbie’s number.
‘Hello?’
‘It’s me Debbie, DC Frame, Jasmine.’
‘Oh, hello. Do you have any news?’
‘No. Sorry Debbie but we really are doing all we can. Look I have a quick question.’
‘Yes?’
‘The van you saw up the road. It was plain white, no markings, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes. That’s right.’
‘And you’ve seen it a few times?’
‘Yes.’
‘How recently?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. Not long ago. A week or two.’
‘You can’t remember anything else about it can you? It’s number plate?’
There was silence for a few moments. ‘No, I can’t, I’m sorry. Wait! There was something strange about the number. It had the two numbers in the middle like they do now but they were split up.’
Jasmine felt excited but wasn’t sure what Debbie meant. ‘You mean the letters and numbers were separated into two bits.’
‘That’s right.’
She had an inspiration. ‘As if the numbers were acting as letters and making words with the letters?’
‘That’s right, I suppose, but I can’t remember the letters making any sense to me,’ Debbie answered. ‘I’m sorry I can’t help anymore.’
‘No, that’s fine Debbie. You’ve been a great help. Good bye.’ Jasmine ended the call and eagerly played her fingers over her keyboard calling up information on her computer. She wanted to find out what vehicles Steve Cox had previously owned. It took just moments and there it was. A white Renault Traffic. The same model as his current van but a little older. It had been scrapped. At least the records said it had been.
Jasmine compared the details of the two vans. She stared at the registrations, the older RV54YTK and his current van RU55EKS. 5s could be Ss and a 4 used as an A. She scribbled the sequences on a piece of paper separating the numbers. Then she saw it. Of course a 5 could also be twisted into a sort of F. RVS AYTK meant nothing, but what about RUF SEKS?
………………………

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

Jasmine hopes for a breakthrough

Back home after three weeks away and looking forward to some discovering jasmine final coverpromotional activity for  Jasmine and September. Next month will see a double launch with the publication of Bodies By Design, the 2nd Jasmine Frame novel as a paperback and e-book and of Discovering Jasmine – the first stand alone publication of one of the prequel novellas, re-edited as an e-book and available as a special offer in pdf format.  Discovering Jasmine is the story of James/Jasmine as a teenager finding out about him/herself and appeared here in serialised form.  Here is a quick look at the cover.

But back to the present and the latest episode in the latest prequel.

Split Mirror: Part 9 

Jasmine stamped her foot on the brake and pulled into the side of the road. A lorry passed with its horn blaring. Jasmine ignored the noise and stared at Debbie. Surely it was too much of a coincidence. The driver of the white van that she believed was involved in Diana’s abduction couldn’t possibly live on the same estate – it was highly improbable. Wasn’t it? But she had surmised that the driver lived somewhere locally. Perhaps either he or Diana recognised the other because they lived close to each other and that was why Diana was taken.
‘Are you sure? Did Palmerston describe the van?’ Jasmine asked.
Debbie looked certain. ‘She said it was a plain white Ford Transit high top. I didn’t pay attention at the time and didn’t quite understand what she meant.’
‘It’s a van with higher sides than usual.’
‘That’s what I thought. I’m sure I’ve seen one on the estate, parked on the pavement so it was difficult to walk passed.’
Jasmine sighed. ‘There are thousands of those vans, dozens if not hundreds in Kintbridge.’
‘I realise that,’ Debbie said, ‘but I wondered if Diana knew the owner before she met him at this . . . place.’
‘It’s a possibility,’ Jasmine conceded. ‘Let’s have a look for it.’ She looked in her mirror and when the road was clear performed a U-turn. They headed back towards Kintbridge.
Neither said a word for a few minutes. Jasmine was trying to dampen her hopes. It couldn’t be this easy to trace the van. They were back on the edge of the town when Debbie spoke.
‘You think Diana’s dead don’t you?’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘I haven’t given up hope of finding her alive yet, Debbie.’
‘But those other women you think were kidnapped by the same person – they haven’t turned up have they?’
‘No.’
‘And they disappeared months ago?’
‘Yes.’
‘So they are probably dead.’
Jasmine shrugged as she slowed approaching the turning onto the estate.
‘If there has been no ransom demand then surely he kidnapped them to kill them?’
Jasmine wanted to sound encouraging. ‘They met at sex sites. Perhaps they went willingly to have sex in a more private place. Maybe he wants to keep the women for sexual gratification or for trafficking. It’s not a pleasant thought but it’s an alternative to them being dead.’
‘It’s something,’ Debbie said.
‘Now where did you see the van?’ The road curved and twisted through the housing estate with short cul-de-sacs on the right and left. Jasmine drove slowly.
‘Further on. Beyond our house.’
Jasmine touched the accelerator. As they approached Debbie’s house she saw a small police car parked outside. She speeded up.
‘Your liaison officer is waiting for you,’ she explained, ‘I don’t want anyone to know I’ve been out with you.’
‘That woman detective would have a go at you?’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine said, certain that Debbie was correct.
‘Diana had a lot of trouble from her boss and colleagues when she was an electrician. They couldn’t accept her as a woman because they had known her as Don.’
Jasmine slowed as they rounded a bend and were out of sight of the police car. ‘That’s part of my problem too, but Palmerston has got it in for trans-women in general – she’s a feminist.’
Debbie snorted. ‘She obviously has no idea about the trials you people suffer. She probably thinks she’s had a difficult time as a woman but I know what you go through.’
Jasmine nodded recognising the devotion that Debbie had shown to her former husband, now her female partner. ‘Where was the van?’
‘Just here,’ Debbie said, pointing out of her window at a row of semi-detached 1970s houses. There were no vans visible now. Jasmine slowed to a crawl. There were no driveways or garages alongside the houses. She noted the house numbers.
‘Did you see the van more than once? It wasn’t just delivering?’
‘No. I’ve seen it a few times.’
‘Do you know the people in these houses?’
‘I don’t. Can’t say I’ve got to know many people at all since we’ve lived here. Diana and I have kept to ourselves. Of course we went out together but we didn’t want people prying into our affairs.’
Jasmine understood what Debbie meant. She didn’t want neighbours gossiping about the strange pair of women who looked alike and lived together. ‘The garages are in separate blocks aren’t they?’ she said.
‘Yes,’ Debbie pointed through the windscreen. ‘I think if you take the next turning left you’ll see a row of them.’
Jasmine accelerated and followed Debbie’s directions. They drew up between two rows of concrete garages with metal up-and-over doors.
‘You couldn’t get a high top in one of those garages. The door is too low.’ Jasmine said.
‘That’s right,’ Debbie agreed. Jasmine manoeuvred back to the road and stopped.
‘If he does live here, he’s not here now. I’d better drop you off and get back to the station. Palmerston may be wondering where I’ve been.’
‘I hope I haven’t got you in to trouble,’ Debbie said.
Jasmine shook her head. ‘It’s not a problem. I can handle Palmerston.’ She wasn’t sure that was true but she wasn’t prepared to admit it. ‘But don’t tell anyone that we’ve met. I’ll say you rang through with your information about the van.’
‘I’ll walk home from here and let you get back. Thank you for your support.’ A tear trickled down the woman’s cheek. She opened the passenger door and stepped out.
‘No. I must thank you,’ Jasmine said, feeling regret that she couldn’t immediately soothe Debbie’s anguish. ‘I’ll keep in touch with you. We’ll do all we can to find Diana.’
Debbie pushed the door closed and Jasmine drove off.

6

As Jasmine entered the Unit’s HQ she saw Tom Shepherd standing beside Denise Palmerston who was sitting at her desk. Both looked up and saw her and she watched a scowl crease the DS’s face.
‘Where have you been, Frame?’ Palmerston asked.
‘I took a break while I was waiting for replies from Cardiff and Swindon,’ Jasmine replied trying to act as casual as she could.
Palmerston wasn’t satisfied. ‘Kingston said you went out over an hour ago.’
‘I went out to get to get something to eat. I got in early this morning and missed breakfast.’
The Detective Sergeant considered for a moment, then appeared to change the subject. ‘I suppose it’s too much to ask if you made any progress in tracing the van before you left.’
Jasmine ignored Palmerston’s sarcasm. ‘I hadn’t but Debbie Stretfield phoned me. After your visit she recalled seeing a high side white van on the estate where she lives.’
Palmerston ignored the clue, ‘Why did she ring you?’
‘I gave her my number when I met her last night. I think she trusts me.’
Palmerton scowled. ‘Hmm. It’s unlikely it’s the same van.’
‘But it’s a possibility,’ Jasmine said, ‘We think the driver is local and perhaps he or Diana recognised each other.’
‘A very slender possibility,’ Palmerston said as she pondered. Jasmine glanced at Tom. He raised his eyebrows and gave a hint of a shrug. ‘I suppose we must act on any lead in the absence of some real information,’ she went on. ‘Tom, collect a couple of uniforms and get down there and look for this van. If it’s not there do some door knocking. Find out who the driver is and the location of the vehicle. I have other things to do.’ She got up and marched out of the room.
Tom looked at Jasmine with a suspicious expression. ‘Stretfield rang you?’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine replied but did not elaborate.
‘OK. Tell me where she says she saw a white van.’
Jasmine gave him the house numbers she had noted then hurried to her own desk.
‘What are you doing, Jas,’ Tom asked following her.
‘I want to see if Cardiff or Swindon have replied yet. You get off and do what “Denise” says. It may be a long shot but it’s our only lead so far.’
‘Why did you say “Denise” like that?’
‘Well, you’re “Tom” while I’m simply Frame. Getting on well now are you?’
‘She’s OK, Jas. It’s just you she doesn’t get on with.’
‘No, it’s not just me. She’s transphobic; she doesn’t believe we should have the right to call ourselves women. It’s war, Tom, and one of us is going to win.’
‘Hmm. I hope it’s not that serious as you might lose, Jas.’
‘Oh, it is,’ Jasmine was convinced that her future in the police force depended on her relationship with DS Denise Palmerston. ‘Now get off and find that van driver. Diana Stretfield has been in his clutches for nearly two days now.’
Tom moved off tossing over his shoulder as a parting comment, ‘I hope this whole scenario is not a red herring Jas.’
Jasmine woke up her computer and looked in her email inbox. Her heart beat faster when she saw that there were messages from both Cardiff and Swindon but her hopes subsided when she read them. Neither had any CCTV coverage of the public sex environments on the nights when the two women had gone missing so there was no information on the van. Neither was there anything useful in the files on the two women. They were just two spinsters, one in her thirties and the other in her fifties but, like Diana Stretfield, looking younger. The younger shared a flat with two other women but was not in a relationship while the elder still lived with her husband but they were no longer intimate and lived almost separate lives. The flatmates and the husband who had reported the women’s disappearance knew of their dogging but showed little concern for them. No clues to their whereabouts had been reported. Until Jasmine re-awoke interest the cases had been placed on a dust-collecting pile.
She sighed and began a search of vehicle details, sorting a list of white Ford Transit vans registered in the area. As she expected there were hundreds to go through. She entered the road name and house numbers she had noted. No vehicle appeared. She stared at the screen feeling frustrated. Was Debbie mistaken and the van driver was just a caller and not a resident? Then she had a thought. Many people referred to all vans of that particular type as a transit van, but there were other makes. She started the search again using the address rather than the make of vehicle.
Jasmine smiled. There it was – a white Renault Traffic van and the owner’s name. She reached for her phone and clicked on a frequent contact. She heard the ring tone and then Tom’s recorded message. She spoke after the beep.
‘Damn, I hope you pick up Tom. I’ve got the name of the van owner, Stephen Cox. Of course it may be the wrong van and he may not be our suspect but . . .’ She couldn’t think what else to add.
…………………
Painted Ladies front cover jpegPainted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback and e-book from all booksellers including Amazon

Jasmine digs deeper

Layout 1First 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.

15 July 1 - CloseupI 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

 5

‘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?’
‘That’s right.’
‘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.’
‘Yes.’
‘I presume the other woman, the trans-woman still hasn’t turned up.’
‘That’s right.’
‘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?’
‘Yes, Tom.’
‘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.’
‘Exactly, Tom.’
‘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.’
‘Registration number?’
‘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?’
‘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.’
‘Why?’
‘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.’
‘Until now.’
‘Correct.’
‘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.’
‘What’s that?’
‘I think I’ve seen the white van.’
……………………..

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Jasmine gets her answer

Ellifont logo greyWell, I am, or to be more accurate, ellifont™ is, now an official publisher.  I have the ISBN numbers for Bodies By Design and other Jasmine Frame books. In addition the proofs are being checked and the cover is all but done and ready to be unveiled in a week or so. Soon, very soon, I will have to make plans for the marketing. I wish I had the magic formula for getting Jasmine Frame known to a wider audinece.  There is so much publicity about trans people at the moment – trans actors, trans models, even a trans sit-com on BBC, but none of it compares with Jasmine – a trans-woman making a living as a detective.

 

15 July 1 - CopyI’m also getting exercised by the place of non-binary people in society. That’s the phrase used for people like me who haven’t transiitoned to a gender different to that we were born in but vacillate between appearing as male and female. People like us are not protected by law in the same way that transsexuals are but there is a move to get the Gender Recognition Act changed so that you don’t have to have a medical diagnosis to get your gender changed. It still won’t help me but is a welcome move away from the authoritarian imposition of gender identity.

So to Split Mirror, the Jasmine Frame prequel story to Painted Ladies. It’s actually set about seven months before PL. There’s a bit more crude language and references to sex in this episode – hope you like it.

 

 

Split Mirror: Part 5

In the stark light of the headlights, the men surrounding the Volvo were mere silhouettes. Jasmine had no way of knowing whether they were people she’d want to be within a mile of, but the thought that Diana had allowed some of them, many of them perhaps, to grope her and have sex with her made her feel sick. Had the need to prove she was a woman, to show that she could function as a sexually complete female, been so strong in her? Jasmine shared the desire to have the body she believed she should have but she could not put herself in Diana’s place and imagine giving herself to any and every man that wanted sex in a public place.
She looked at the little man. He was still eyeing her up. He disgusted her and she just wanted to be away from this place. But she had come to find out about Diana. She had to know more.
‘Did you see her here last night?’ she asked.
He shook his head, ‘Nah, I wasn’t here. Why do you want to know? Checking up on your friend?’ The last word was said in a tone that suggested a more intimate relationship. Jasmine ignored it.
‘She was here. Her car still is but she isn’t, is she? She hasn’t been home.’
The man frowned and he withdrew from her. ‘Look, I don’t know anything about her. Perhaps she went off with one of the blokes. Sometimes the women fancy fucking somewhere more comfortable.’
‘I want to know who she went with,’ Jasmine insisted.
‘I told you, I don’t know nuffin.’
Jasmine glanced around the men concentrating on the action in the cars. ‘Who would know? Any of these guys?’
‘Perhaps,’ the weasel backed off.
Jasmine reached out, grabbed his coat and pushed him back until he was against the bonnet of car with its headlights on. She raised her knee, pressed it into his groin and ground it against his balls. He yelped.
She withdrew her knee, a bit. ‘If you don’t help me look for my friend, the police are going to be here asking lots more questions and putting a stop to your dirty little games.’
The worried look was replaced by a grin on the man’s face. ‘You’re like her aren’t you? One of them transsexuals.’
Jasmine tightened her grip on his collar. ‘How did you know Diana was trans?’
His smile became a sneer. ‘Pretty obvious when you get close to her init. She weren’t a youngster, yet those tits could have been a teenager’s. And she wanted her cunt filled as if she’d just discovered fucking.’
Jasmine was disgusted by his talk but she couldn’t disagree with his explanation. She released her hold a little.
‘What about you?’ he went on. ‘You look a bit younger. Have you got a nice new pair of knockers and a new fanny?’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘I haven’t got that far yet.’ She wondered why she felt compelled to reply. Was it to deny feeling the urge that Diana had?
‘Still got your cock have you. Well don’t worry. Some of the guys aren’t too bothered about where they stick their tools.’
‘Stop your filth,’ Jasmine retightened her grip, ‘Just help me find out what happened to Diana.’
‘I can’t if you keep strangling me with me own coat,’ he said. Jasmine dropped her hands and stepped back. The man straightened up and raised his chin to stretch his neck.
‘That’s better. I can see you’re bothered about your mate but I said I wasn’t here last night.’
‘Someone else then?’ Jasmine glanced around at the sizeable crowd.
‘Well, perhaps Big Dick saw her. He’s often here for a bit of nooky. Come on.’ He slipped across the front of the car and into the dark space within the circle of vehicles. Jasmine followed. Her eyes quickly adjusted to the dark. She was amazed by the number of people clustered around the cars, some in various states of undress despite the cold. They moved in a zig zag as the little man searched for the person he called Big Dick.
‘There,’ he said quickening his step towards a 4×4. A man was moving away from it adjusting his flies. He was no more than a couple of inches taller than Jasmine with no sign of a gut. In fact Jasmine thought he looked pretty fit.
‘Big Dick!’ her guide called, ‘This tart’s asking about the trannie bitch.’
‘What about her?’ he asked, stopping and peering through the dark at Jasmine.
‘I guess your name’s not Richard,’ Jasmine said.
He grinned, ‘Nope. Do you want to see?’ his hand reached down to his flies again.
‘No, I just want to know if you saw my friend, Diana, last evening. She was here.’
‘Why should I tell you?’
‘Because she’s missing and I thought that if you’ve had any sort of relationship with her you might be just a little bit concerned and prepared to help.’
He scratched his chin. ‘Yeah, well, she has been kind of obliging. Eager to fuck any of the guys who fancied it, which means most of them who ain’t gay. She gave me a good time. Tight though.’
‘Look I don’t need that. I just want to know what she did last night. Did you see her?’
‘Yeah, reckon I did. She’d had a couple of the regular guys then there was a new bloke.’
‘Someone new to this?’ Jasmine indicated the circle of cars.
‘Don’t know about that but I’ve never seen him here before with his fancy van.’
‘A van?’
‘Yeah, a high-sided Transit. A real passion wagon. Had the inside padded and a thick mattress done out in black fur and drapes.’
‘So you saw Diana in this van.’
‘Yeah.’
‘Did you see her leave it?’
Big Dick screwed up his face. ‘Can’t say I did. Mind I was occupied elsewhere after I saw her.’
‘And the van?’
‘Oh, he must have driven off soon after. He weren’t here when we’d finished.’
Jasmine took a deep breath. She had the answer to what had happened to Diana – well the start of it anyway. She’d gone off with, or was taken by the man in the van.
‘Can you tell me anything more about this van? Registration, markings?’
‘Nah. On the outside it was just an ordinary white van. Now, darling, are you going to be nice now that I’ve answered your questions.’ He stepped towards Jasmine. She retreated raising her hands and preparing to defend herself.
‘I wouldn’t go after her,’ weasel said, ‘she can be vicious.’
‘I like a bit of high spirits,’ Big Dick said.
‘Not with me you won’t,’ Jasmine said, retreating.
Weasel stepped between them. ‘I wouldn’t bother, Dick, she ain’t even got a cunt.’
Jasmine backed off and then turned and hurried away. She glanced over her shoulder to see weasel and Big Dick still standing in the dark. Pushing passed the bodies milling around the cars, she broke into a run back to the Fiesta. She put the key in the lock and looked behind her. No-one had followed her and she sighed with relief. Thankfully the engine started without hesitation and she pulled out onto the main road heading home.

The boxes and carrier bags occupied most of the free floor space in the small living room lit by a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. The flat was freezing cold and she had no idea how it was heated. What had the agent said? Storage heaters? She squeezed through into the tiny kitchen. There was a box on the narrow worktop with a post-it stuck to it. ‘Some supplies to start you off. A,’ Jasmine read. She smiled. Angie had done it again, thinking ahead while she had given no consideration to eating. She pulled packets and cans from the box – coffee, baked beans, sliced bread, sardines, soups, even some fresh apples. Enough to get her started in her lonely home until she made time to go to the supermarket. She filed the kettle and turned it on then opened the bread and slapped the crust and a slice on the grill pan. She pushed it under the grill then went into the bedroom. There was only room to move because there was just a single bed, unmade, but there was a large carrier bag sitting on it containing sheets, duvet and pillow.
Jasmine returned to the kitchen. The grill was still cold. She hadn’t turned the main switch for the cooker on. She did so and remained leaning against it, feeling the warmth slowly grow and removing some of the chill that she felt. Is this the reason that Debbie and Diana stayed together, Jasmine wondered, so that neither had to establish themselves in a new single home? They had been married much longer than she and Angela had but she knew how hard it was to split up from someone you loved even though the urge to become a woman was even stronger. While she understood the reasons Debbie and Diana had carried on living together, even after their divorce and Diana’s surgery, she couldn’t comprehend Diana’s craving for sex. Would she feel the same when the drugs had worked their changes on her body and the surgeons had re-shaped her genitals? She couldn’t see herself in the back of a car with a stranger on top of her and others peering in cheering and urging them on. Nevertheless that was what Diana had done and now she was gone. Jasmine was convinced she had been taken by the white van driver, probably against her will. That van was her only clue.
The smell of burning bread reminded her that the grill didn’t automatically turn off when the toast was done.
…………………………

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book (e.g. from Amazon) and paperback from all booksellers. Order a copy for £8.99 inc. p&p from paintedladiesnovel(at)btinternet.com and pay by PayPal.

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg