The Job 35

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CHAPTER 35
She led the way back to the terrace, but instead of taking me to the front door she took me down the back alley between the two terraces, squeezing past a big white van, which she introduced, with a grin, as her ‘Tranny van’. I noticed that she used three keys to get through the door to the back yard, and the wall was topped with barbed wire, two cameras visible either side of an upstairs window. The actual back door was just as secure, and when we came through into the little lobby, I noticed a couple of steel bars ready to brace the door. There were also three fire extinguishers standing against the wall. I raised my eyebrows in query, and she shrugged.

“Some people don’t like us. What can you do but follow the Boy Scouts’ motto, and be prepared?”

She opened the door to the back room, just a crack, motioned me to stay back, and shouted.

“I have someone here to talk to us. She is safe. No threat, nothing to worry about. We’ll give you one minute to decide to stay here or go upstairs”

She shrugged yet again, clearly for my benefit, then waited for her watch to count down the seconds. As they ran out, she turned to me.

“No judging, no comments about passing, no staring. Got it?”

I followed her into a reasonably large living room, four girls waiting for us, eyes fixed on me.

Girls. They weren’t, not really, I thought, then I took that thought and emptied a can of PAVA spray into its face. There were four girls there, one in a dress, two in skirts and tops and the last in pyjamas with a teddy bear print. Their size or otherwise didn’t matter. Don’t stare, girl. Deb pointed to me.

“Girls, this is Diane. She’s a copper, but one of ours, I believe. No threat”

The girl in PJ’s glared.

“Why should we believe that, Nana?”

Deb sighed, and her shoulders slumped.

“I know, Charlie, but please, just this once? I have talked through it all with her, what she’s after. I believe her. Di, take a seat? Tiff, could you put that recording on, the one from the news?”

The Charlie girl, who did look quite good for a—stop that, DC Owens! Charlie moved to one side with a sniff, and I took a seat as the television flickered into life, and I was suddenly watching Bev Williams and then Sammy going through their paces for BBC Wales. I had a sudden and clear understanding of where this was going.

As each of the five were introduced onscreen, the four girls shouted abuse at them, the loudest being reserved for two of Dyfed-Powys’ far-from finest and, astonishingly, Joe Evans.

“Switch it off, Tiff. Girls, Diane here arrested that lot. Show some manners now, OK?”

What a transformation! I found both Tiff and Charlie staring at me, and the latter asked, in a very small voice, “Who nicked Pritchard?

“I did”

“Did he get fucking hurt?”

Deb interrupted. “What was it you said, Di? Only the most necessary and appropriate levels of force, or something?”

Sod it, once more. “I may have hit him several times with a steel baton after giving his face a full can of pepper spray, but that’s what happens in the heat of the moment, Your Honour”

Charlie threw herself at me, hugging, and kissing my cheek.

“I am so, so sorry, Diane! Nana, I should know by now, aye? Not to doubt you. I am so sorry”

Tiff, who was in a blue dress that actually suited her quite well (stop it!) was very, very softly spoken.

“Who arrested Joe Evans?”

“A friend”

I took a guess, and added “He can’t hurt you again, girl”

Her face twisted, and tears rose in her eyes. “Tell me he got hurt”

I shook my head. “Not that day, but I think someone else had been there before us. He’s not well. When my boss spoke to him, he pissed himself”

Charlie snarled “Yeah, makes a fucking change then, on the floor instead of on you, yeah?”

I had to ignore Deb’s warning and stare, and ‘Nana’ noticed.

“Can you three, not Charlie, please do me a favour and go off next door?”

She turned back to me. “We actually have two houses, with a communicating door. Gives us more room, and two more alternative exits, just in case. Don’t look at me like that, OK? Some families don’t take to their kids being trans. When I say ‘don’t take’, think of the way you described arresting those bastards. Reasonable force? Necessary etc? Same here. Two of my girls gave up and went home, and I still put fucking flowers by their graves. That is why we do what we do, Diane”

“It’s that bad?”

“Oh, I would say you have no idea, but I already know you bloody well do. Charlie? Check the door, please”

As soon as she was out of the room, Deb whispered “If you don’t want me to mention your rape, say so now. You OK with it? Right. Stay quiet”

Charlie came back in, nodding to Deb.

“They’re all gone, Nana”

“Good. Charlie, this is Diane. She is your sister. She was sixteen. Di, this is Charlie. She was only thirteen”

I was lost for words at that. Fucking thirteen? I knew what Deb meant of course, so when I recovered control of my mouth, I asked the obvious question.

“Ashley Evans?”

“Fuck, yeah. You too?”

“Walking home from a friend’s place, French study session”

“Parents out, taking a chance for a walk around the block in the dark, dressed… Dressed as I should have been if life wasn’t such a fucking pile of shit. Did he piss on you afterwards as well? Get rid of the spoodge and the shit? Sorry, you were born with a fanny, weren’t you? He’ll have put it in there, won’t he, the cunt?”

She stopped, as if a switch had been thrown.

“Sorry, Diane. Really sorry. Not your fault, is it? Just, well, not used to this. Too used to being a piece of shit to everyone. ‘Cept Nana, of course. Sorry”

I did what I had to, and slithered across the settee to hug her, getting the full flood of her tears in return, before she started to laugh, and had to explain about the unintended pun, which just led to more serious sobbing. I could do mothing other than hold her till she was quiet again, herself once more.

Once she was back in control, she looked directly at me.

“What are you looking to do, Diane?”

I shrugged, French style, arms wide and hands flying.

“Put Councillor Evans away for as long as I can, assuming he is guilty, naturally”

“No bullshit, please”

She held a hand up to stop me replying.

“I know you can’t say so, but you want him locked up big style. You want him hit with everything you can find. Am I right?”

I sat silently as I considered my options. There was only so much I could safely tell her, but some things arched over all of the victims, including myself.

“Charlie, I am going to explain a few things, then I need to ask you some questions. As you are the victim here, I can do it informally. You can do it with Deb here, or in private. You can do it anywhere, or in any way, that lets you feel safe or comfortable. First, though, I need to explain a few of the rules that I am bound by. That OK?”

The girl nodded, then turned to her…. What? Carer? Guardian?

“Nana, could I be really cheeky and ask for a hot chocolate?”

The older woman smiled, and there was true affection in it.

“Course you can, girl. Di? You want anything?”

Why not? “Could I have the same, please? Haven’t indulged myself in ages”

“Five minutes, then. I’ll leave the kitchen door open in case you need me”

Unspoken, unnecessary, I understood that as ‘so that I can hear what you say’. I had no issues with that, and fully understood her attitude. I turned back to Charlie.

“I was sixteen. He threatened me, said he had a knife, dragged me into his car by my hair, drove to a quiet spot, raped me, pissed on me and then punched me unconscious. I was then visited in hospital. That is all you need to know. That means I can no longer take a direct part in the investigation, partly because there are things I am not allowed to know before any trial takes place. Things that relate to my own experiences. What I am doing, though, is a bit like one of those silly old films, where the hero has a servant passing him loaded guns”

She laughed, surprisingly. “Like in Zulu, where the two wounded men drag themselves around with a box of bullets?”

“I would have thought that film was a bit before your time!”

“I’m a Welsh girl, and there’s singing in it!”

I grinned. “I know the bit you mean. It always makes me think of that poster, with the eagle or whatever and the mouse”

“What’s that one?”

“It’s a great big bird of prey, all talons and sharp beak, and there’s this mouse—it’s drawn, not photos, yeah? There’s this mouse, and he knows he’s about to be ripped to bits and swallowed, so he’s just standing there, resigned, and giving two fingers to the bird”

Deb reappeared just then, setting a tray with three mugs down on the coffee table.

“I remember that one! Says a lot, that picture”

I picked up my mug, savouring the rich smell and the warmth.

“Yeah, but we’re not like that anymore, are we? And I do say ‘we’, because both of us have been there. This time, they’re getting more than two fingers. Anyway, as I was saying, spot on, Charlie. I’m pulling out the boxes of bullets, the ammunition like, and I have some very, very good colleagues, friends, who have the guns to fire them. You can be one of the bullets, if you want. But it has to be your choice. Now, what happened after you were attacked?”

“Parents kicked the little pervert out, didn’t they? Mam and Dad didn’t want no nancy-boy pervert showing them up. I… Nana, please”

Deb took her hand.

“Charlie lived rough for a while. About a week, wasn’t it? Yes?”

A sharp nod.

“Then she ended up in a ‘relationship’ A chaser spotted her, took her for a burger, warm up the poor street kid”

I didn’t know that word, and it must have been obvious, as Deb’s mouth twisted.

“Chaser. Tranny chaser. Men who get off on trans girls. Usual grooming process, usual sequence of concern, affection, undying lurve, sex, control, violence and a lot of the time punting the girl out to friends or customers. Chasers”

Charlie found her voice once more. “Yeah. He had me in a flat, bedsit place. I went out the window, in the end”

Deb slipped onto the sofa, putting an arm over the girl’s shoulders.

“She ran into one of my other girls, just by chance. Kimberley. She’d already moved on, but she hadn’t forgotten me”

“Nobody could ever forget you, Nana”

“Thanks, love. That, Di, is how Charlie ended up here. It’s what we do. Trans girls only, they get a place of safety, and we do our best to keep the chasers away. I vet their internet use, for example. Too many of the bastards trawl things like Facebook looking for victims. Every so often, I take a walk round the city, seeing who’s new. I know the areas the street kids hang around, and the older ones know me, know what I do, so they sometimes send girls to me when they see me”

I turned back to Charlie.

“You better now?”

“Yeah”

“What happened after Evans had finished with you?”

“Man out looking for somewhere to let his dog have a sneaky shit, saw me in the bushes. Called an ambulance”

“Police?”

“Two of them came to the hospital, called me a whore and a slut, threatened my family. I’m pretty sure that was at least one of them you nicked”

Oh, you pieces of filth. That was something we would most definitely feed into the investigation as to their source of info, whoever it was that had been alerting them every time someone called Evans put his hands or cock where they weren’t welcome. Police, DC Owens. Professional.

“Charlie, what I will need from you is simple, and that’s date and times. At some point, I would like you to have a chat with a couple of my colleagues, and get all that down on paper, so we can use it properly. Would you do that for us? For yourself? Oh, and changing the subject, while she’s not here. Joe Evans and Tiff?”

Deb grimaced. “That one with the droopy eye? Chaser. Trawls the night clubs, that’s where Tiff met him. Very free with his fists”

And none of that had ever, to the best of my knowledge, made it as far as South Wales Police’s ears. Just like myself, I realised, they had hidden rather than fight, but at least I had come through it. I made a decision.

“Charlie, if I do this, would you be happy to give evidence? I fully intend getting Ashley Evans charged with my rape, and if we added yours it would really ice his cake”

She shook her head. “Nobody wanted to listen when he did it, so no, not like that”

“You’ll let him get away with it?”

“No. What I will do, and I will talk to Tiff, is to wait and see you do him for yours. If you nail him, then I know he’s vulnerable, him and his family. “

I thought that over, and though I really wanted to present the good Councillor with an overflowing plate I wasn’t going to push her. One more thing.

“Charlie, this may not be an easy thing for you, but one of the things that has haunted me all these years is big men. I have never forgotten, you know? Big bastard rapist, sort of puts you off bulky men. One of my colleagues, though, I can’t imagine anyone gentler. Big man, gentle man. He really cares about people. He’s called Blake, and he is one of the reasons I am only just starting to heal, seeing him as something other than muscles and size. It might help you as well”

She cocked her head, smiling gently.

“And you’re in love with him?”

There was only one possible answer, and I gave it.

“I think I am, Charlie”



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