One of those days

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It was just one of those days which started fine. I went to school without any suspicion on my part that, by the end of the day, I'd be on the run pretending to be someone totally different with my dad on his way to South America.

It was during the first lesson on Friday morning that the school secretary came into the classroom and handed a note to Mr Jensen, our Maths teacher.

He read it and bellowed out, “James Baker. The headmaster wishes to speak with you.”

There was a cacophony of ribald comments around the classroom and I blushed in embarrassment.

“Quiet,” Mr Jensen shouted.

“Please, sir,” Hodges, the boy who sat behind me called out. “Does he need to put a telephone directory down the seat of his pants, sir?”

“Corporal punishment was banned before you were born, Hodges,” Mr Jensen said. He turned to me. “Just go, Baker or this lot will get so excited they’ll be wetting their knickers.”

I stood up and left the classroom, heading towards the headmaster’s office, worried, but totally unaware of the catastrophe which was rushing towards me.

“Ah, James Baker, isn’t it? Come in and sit down. Your father telephoned me a short while ago. Were you aware that his job is being transferred to New York?”

“New York! But that’s crazy. He works in the City of London as a stockbroker… or something.”

“He has done until now, Baker, but he telephoned me to say he is being transferred with immediate effect to New York and you will be travelling with him, this afternoon.”

“This afternoon!” I felt like crying, but boys don’t cry. “But I can’t. I have Science last subject and I can’t miss that.”

“I’m afraid you are going to miss the rest of this term. Your father has arranged for your au pair, er…” He glanced at a slip of paper on his desk. “That’s a strange name,” he muttered to himself, adding, “Miss Destiny Williams is going to collect you shortly.”

“She’s Jamaican,” I replied, a simple matter to which I could give my attention, whilst the bombshell was exploding all around.

“Jamaican?” the head repeated. It seemed he, too, was having problems grasping reality. “Au pairs are normally European, come to England to learn the language… Anyway,” he recovered his senses, “the fact is that my secretary will help you gather together your belongings and escort you to the car in which, er, Destiny, will shortly arrive. She will then take you to Heathrow Airport where you will meet up with your father, who will have the tickets.”

He came round his desk to shake my hand and wish me good luck with my future, and then I was being escorted out.

***

“Destiny. What’s happening?” I asked as I got into the car, and then my tears really did flow, as she hugged me to her fantastic bosom.

“I don’t know, honey,” she said. “It’s as big a mystery to me as to you, except that…”

“What?”

“Your father has been very stressed recently. Haven’t you noticed?”

“Well, yes, but… surely, he’d be excited if he knew he was being transferred to New York.”

“If it is New York.”

“But that’s what Dad told the headmaster.”

“He said that to me, as well,” Destiny confirmed, “but I thought he might have made it up. I suspect that you may be going to South, rather than North America, to a country without an extradition agreement with the UK.” She released me from her hug and started to drive.

“But… what are you talking about,” I asked. “Are you suggesting Dad is running away from something illegal. Dad wouldn’t do that. Incidentally, this isn’t the way to Heathrow Airport. We should have turned right out of the school gate, not left.”

“I managed to find your passport but I didn’t have time to pack your bag. We’ll have to call in the house on the way. And yes, I suspect that your dad was up to something phoney.”

“Never,” I said, rather cross that she should even suggest it, and sat in sullen silence for the rest of the fifteen-minute drive back to our house.

As we approached it, we could see a number of vehicles outside it, some of them police cars with blue flashing lights, and a gaggle of people standing on the pavement.

“Shit!” Destiny said.

As we got closer, a large BBC van approached from the opposite direction, with a satellite dish on the roof.

“Get your head down,” she shouted at me, and she accompanied it by grasping my shoulder and forcing me to double over, so I’d be invisible to the TV crews standing outside. She drove straight past our house without stopping.

“But what about my clothes?” I asked Destiny.

“I dunno,” she replied.

***

After a few minutes, she told me to ring my dad’s mobile, tell him the police were at the house, and ask what we should do. The phone system gave me a message back saying that his phone was not in service.

“It’s no good going to Heathrow Airport,” Destiny said. “By the time we get there, they are bound to be looking out for him leaving the country – possibly you too.”

“So where are we driving to?”

“I dunno,” she replied.

She drove for a few minutes more and then said, “We’d both better turn off our mobile phones. We don’t want the police or the press to find out where we are.”

“Right,” I said.

“And I’m going to take you to my mum’s house in Brixton. We’ll be OK, there.”

“Right,” I said.

I’d heard of Brixton, but never been there or even passed through it. It sounded rather scary, but there seemed nowhere else to go.

***

I knew that Destiny was eighteen years old, four years older than my fourteen, and that this was her first job after leaving school. She’d told me that she had two sisters the same age as me, Desiree and Desreta, who were twins. Their father had left home shortly after the twins were born, leaving the family virtually penniless, and their mother had done cleaning jobs to try to subsidise the social security.

My mother had died from a heart attack when I was six, so we, too, were a single parent family, but there the resemblance ended. My father had always been able to afford live-in nannies in the early days, and now au pairs, who would look after me. Having been brought up as part of a white, middle-class family whose father made a fortune in financial services, I simply couldn’t imagine what the house we were travelling to would be like.

“Will your Mum mind you bringing a fugitive to her house?”

“You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s just taking you somewhere safe whilst we figure out what to do.”

“Do you think they’ll find Dad and arrest him?”

“I’m not certain. The point is that his passport was with yours in the filing cabinet. I have it with me now so he can’t get very far without it. We’ll just have to wait until he contacts us.”

A niggling thought had been whirling around my head and I had to voice it before it drove me crazy. “If he is arrested, what happens to me?”

“You’ll be looked after, whatever happens.”

“You mean, I’ll be taken into care.”

“That’s the official term for it, but it means they would find a family for you to live with for the time being.”

I could feel my eyes welling up again. “But Destiny, I don’t want to live with some random family. These last few months living with you have been fantastic – the most wonderful time of my life. I want to carry on living with you.”

She took her eyes off the road for a few seconds to look at me and smile. “You’re stupid,” she said.

We didn’t talk much for the rest of the journey but I felt much happier. I trusted Destiny and knew she would do everything she could to look after me. I glanced sideways at her and saw she still had that little smile on her lips as she drove. The last hour or so had been incredibly traumatic; suddenly it seemed to be turning into an adventure.

***

“Mum, this is James, the boy I’m looking after.”

We’d left the car in a car park and then walked for what seemed like ages through the streets of Brixton until we arrived at a terraced house in a rather dingy looking road.

The plump Jamaican woman smiled at me. “Hello, James. And what brings you to our part of the world?”

“Family problems, Mum,” Destiny said. “He’s got nowhere else to go for the time being.”

“Then come in,” she said.

“Thank you, Mrs Williams,” I said.

“Call me Delilah,” she said with a smile.

“Thank you… Delilah,” I said, adding with a sudden rush of confidence at her friendly welcome, “It must be confusing when you get a letter addressed to Ms D Williams.”

She threw back her head and laughed. “You don’t think of these things when your children are young. It only starts to sink in when they grow up and you start opening love letters from a boyfriend.”

Why should I feel a sudden stab of jealousy?

“Mum!” Destiny protested. “In any case,” she said to me, “he was only twelve years old.”

And why, I wondered with a little smile, did Destiny bother to explain. Then I caught Delilah watching me with her own little smile and I covered my confusion by explaining the circumstances that had brought me to her doorstep.

After Destiny had added her own version of the last few hours, Delilah said, “It’s just coming up to eleven o’clock. I think we’d better turn on the radio and listen to the news.”

“And police have swooped on the offices of Faulkner and Baker in the City of London. There have been reports of over a hundred million pounds missing from their accounts. Police are hoping to talk to company director, Jeremy Baker, whose whereabouts are not currently known.

“And now, on to the sports news…”

“OK,” Delilah said, looking me in the face, “we need to have a full and frank discussion.”

With her right index finger, she counted off the digits on her left hand. “Number One. Your father appears to be on the run. His phone is turned off, presumably to avoid being traced and we can expect that sooner or later, he will either contact you or he’ll be arrested.

“Number two. Destiny is currently responsible for you, and will be until either your father or the authorities take over. Reading between the lines, you don’t want to be taken into care – and I can well understand that and I’m sure, so does Destiny.”

I nodded agreement, and Destiny said, “I couldn’t bear the thought of it. It would be like I’d failed in my job.”

“Number Three,” Delilah continued. “We can expect that the old Bill will shortly be looking for both you and Destiny. They will certainly hope that you two can lead them to your father and they may well suspect that you, Destiny, have run off with the cash with James’s dad.”

“You mean that I’m having an affair with him? I don’t think so.” She made a gagging symbol by pretending to poke her forefinger down her throat.

“They don’t know what your relations are with him so they are bound to try to find you. Sooner or later, they are going to be knocking on this door and then they will find you both.”

I stared at Destiny and she back at me. Neither of us had thought of that.

“Fourthly,” she said, “we only have two beds in this house and one settee. I have two rampant teenage daughters who share one of the beds, and, I suspect, would be quite inclined to drag a teenage boy into it. There’s Destiny who is now an adult, and would be committing a crime if she slept with a minor, there’s me and there’s you. Which all reminds me of that puzzle with a fox, a chicken and a bag of grain getting across the river. So, the question is how do we ensure that you, James, are not taken into care; you, Destiny, are not arrested; and that none of my daughters do regrettable things with you?”

There was a silence as we all looked at each other, hoping that someone would produce a solution.

“Could James stay with Mrs Clarkson, next door,” Destiny asked.

“There is the fifth fact,” Delilah said, “which is that James is white in a district where all our trustworthy friends and neighbours are black. We could probably find someone to put him up for a night or two, but a honky is going to stick out like a spare cock at an orgy. He’s going to get noticed and talked about and sooner or later, the old Bill are going to hear about him, so… Now that’s an idea.” She broke off as she reflected on something.

I waited whilst Destiny said, “What’s that, Mum?”

“Well, it was that bit about him sticking his cock out, and of course, there are ways of preventing that.”

“Mum! For heaven’s sake.”

“And of course, I didn’t introduce Point Number Six, which is that he doesn’t have any clothes with him but I think… Yes, yes. I think that would do it.”

“What?” Both Destiny and I said it together.

“Well…” She stared at Destiny and then me for a few seconds; you could almost see the cogs in her brain churning everything around. Then she said, “OK, well, my idea means that you may have to get over a number of taboos, and if you can’t do that, we’ll have to look for another solution. So the first taboo to break is that whilst you are currently white, it would be fairly easy to buy some spray tan and convert you to a more respectable colour. I’d have to dye your hair, as well.”

“You mean you’d turn me black,” I asked.

“Is that a problem?” Delilah asked. “I mean, if it is, then we can forget it and I won’t go onto the second taboo.”

“It’s not a taboo for me,” I said. “Actually, I think it would be rather cool. But what was the second taboo?”

“Like I said, there are ways of preventing rampant cocks from sticking out. Devices you can buy which lock on and can’t be removed when you dive into bed with one or more of my daughters or, more likely, they dive into bed with you. If you’re going to spend the night here, wearing one of those is non-negotiable.”

“You mean that you would lock this thing on my... on my cock and I wouldn’t be able to… What about weeing?”

“You can still wee, but that’s all. As I say, if you’re not prepared to wear one…”

“I’ll do it,” I said. After all, I was still a virgin – apparently the only one in my class. “I’ll wear one of these things.”

“Which takes us onto the third, and probably the biggest taboo.”

“You’re changing the colour of my skin; you’re locking up my cock. There can’t be anything left.”

“A friend showed me one of those chastity devices called a Y-gina. It fastens over a man’s tackle and completely conceals it. Instead, it looks as though he’s a woman.”

“Oh Mum! Come on. That’s disgusting.”

“Actually, I think that, rather than it being disgusting, replacing male genitals with something which looks like a vulva is definitely an improvement, but I guess that’s irrelevant. But what is important is that thinking about that led me onto breaking the final taboo. If you have a vagina rather than testicles, then it makes sense if you go the whole hog and wear female clothes. I still have all of Destiny’s clothes from when she was your size, ready to pass them onto the twins. I reckon we could turn you into a very passable black girl. So, what do you say? Are you going to break the third and biggest taboo?”

I know I blushed a vivid shade of crimson. “I’m not sure,” I gasped. “I couldn’t really look like a girl, could I? Destiny, what do you think? Wouldn’t I look stupid?”

“You certainly wouldn’t look stupid,” she said. “I think you could look pretty passable, and I believe you’re brave enough to do it. I know lots of boys who think they’re brave, but they’d wimp away from this.” She looked me in the face. “James, let’s give it a try.”

“We could say you were my niece,” Delilah said. “Her name’s Jasmine, so it’s not too different from James. That’s Jasmine Williams, by the way, same surname as us and they live in Bradford so there’s no chance of anyone local knowing her.

“OK,” I said. “I’ll do it.”

***

Destiny was dispatched to the local shops to purchase several items, whilst I stayed behind to help Delilah with the bedding.

“Presumably,” I said, “I’ll be sleeping on the settee. So is Destiny going to share with you?” I really hoped that she would say that Destiny and I had to share the settee together.

“I wouldn’t be happy leaving you on your own all night, downstairs, even if you are wearing a Y-gina. I can imagine that Desiree and Desreta might visit you in the night and even if straight sex is off the agenda, there are many other things I wouldn’t want you to get up to with the girls.”

“Oh.” I wasn’t sure what sort of things she was talking about but was too embarrassed to ask.

“So I have to sleep with someone. Who would that be?” Please let her say that Destiny would sleep with me.

“You can sleep with me and Destiny can have the settee. I reckon no one will accuse me of seducing you.”

Gulp. “Oh, right. Er, won’t that be a bit embarrassing?”

“You’re going to be a girl quite soon and you will have to get used to seeing naked women. Better that you get used to that with me.” She grinned as I went red again. “OK?”

I tried to grin back, aware that I was getting out of my depth. “I guess so.”

“Right, well, Destiny will be back from the shops soon. Meanwhile, I’ve borrowed the hair remover she left here last time she came, so pop into the shower and I’ll spray it all over your body.

***

By the time Destiny returned from the shops, I’d been dehaired all over, had a shower and my hair shampooed. I was nervous about the Y-gina which Destiny had bought but Delilah simply told me not to be a wimp and lifted the towel away from my body to expose my tackle which had shriveled through plain terror to a microscopic size. Then she simply slid the thing over the top, after which and I heard some ominous clicks.

“There,” she said. “You are now a woman.”

I stared down. It hadn’t hurt but everything seemed to have disappeared. I had to really bend over to look between my legs where I could see a slit between my legs.

“Is that it?” I asked, which sent Destiny and Delilah into peals of laughter, and made me blush furiously at my own naivety.

After that, I was spray-painted a dark brown colour all over and then my hair was dyed black and Delilah put it into a style which looked very Afro. Then, quite small black false boobs were stuck to my chest and thick black shaping pads stuck to my thighs and bum, so I gave the impression of being pear-shaped.

“I thought women were supposed to be a figure 8, not pear-shaped” I complained staring at myself in the mirror.

“That’s brilliant,” Delilah said to Destiny. “He’s only been a woman for a few minutes and already he’s complaining about his figure.

“We don’t want to make you look like too sexy,” she said to me. “That would attract attention. Far better that you look like a schoolgirl with a big bum and tiny breasts.”

I could see the logic in that, but I still felt a little unhappy that I wasn’t being given a very attractive figure. Still, I could hardly protest that I wanted to be prettier, and I certainly didn’t want to attract the attention of boys. I shrugged philosophically.

“Come with me,” Destiny said, “and I’ll sort you out some of my cast offs.”

Her cast-offs were packed away in plastic bags, and it took her a few minutes to work out which would fit me. When she eventually decided on the size, she pulled out several items from one of the bags which included some pretty dresses, as well as tee shirts and grubby jeans. From another bag came a number of bras, slips, socks and tights. “I bought you some new panties,” she added.

I shrugged.

“I think tee shirt and jeans, don’t you?” she suggested.

“Those dresses and skirts are really pretty,” I suggested.

“They are, aren’t they.” She picked up one or two. “But I think the same argument applies. You don’t want to look too pretty at this stage so that you get noticed. You need to blend into the background.”

She was right, of course, and we settled on a faded, but pretty, tee shirt and an old pair of jeans.

I had just finished putting everything on and was admiring myself in the mirror when there was a terrible banging on the door.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Sounds like the old Bill,” Delilah said. “I’ll go and let them in before they kick the door down.

“OK, OK, I’m coming,” she shouted as she went down the stairs.

Within seconds, the house was full of policemen who surged through it, shouting at all of us to stand still. Destiny held me by her side to ensure I didn’t get trampled beneath their feet whilst they searched the house.

“Remember, your name’s Jasmine Williams, if you’re asked,” Destiny said. “From Bradford.”

“What address in Bradford?” I asked. “They might ask…”

“What’s your name, young lady?”

But they were talking to Destiny. When she told them, they immediately handcuffed her, in spite of her protestations.

“What’s she being arrested for?” Delilah shouted?”

“She’s being taken in for questioning on suspicion of fraud,” the policeman said. “I’ll formally arrest her if you want me to,” he added.

Delilah shook her head and watched as Destiny was taken downstairs and out to a police car. Suddenly, the house was quiet again, as the last of the policemen disappeared.

“Are you all right, love?” Delilah said to me, slipping an arm around my shoulder.

“But Destiny has been taken away,” I sobbed, “and I didn’t do anything to save her.”

“There was nothing you could do,” she replied. “And if you’d tried, you’d be under arrest yourself.”

“But they can’t just come bursting into your home like that and take her away. Destiny has done nothing wrong. They can’t just arrest her.”

She knelt down so she was looking directly into my face as the tears coursed down my nose. “That just shows that you’re still a white honky at heart. If you were really black, you’d know that’s what the filth do all the time. One law for whites; another for blacks.”

“But that’s dreadful,” I said, as I sobbed some more.

***

“I need to get a lawyer sorted,” Delilah said. “But, since she hasn’t been officially arrested, I’m not certain whether legal aid will pay for it. I’d better ring someone.”

“Delilah,” I said. “I have some money in a savings account. If legal aid won’t cover it, we can use that.”

“We can’t take money from you,” Delilah said.

“Destiny is only in this mess because of me and my dad. If there’s no legal aid, I’ll cover it as long as I can.”

Delilah came over to me and enveloped me in a great big, very squashy hug.

“I’ll ring someone,” she said.

After she had put the phone down, she said, “I’ve got someone who’s going to represent her. He said that paying for it rather than using legal aid will give faster results so I told them to go ahead.” She told me the price and I was a bit surprised. My savings weren’t going to last very long at that rate.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he gets her out quickly,” Delilah continued. “It would be good to tell her the cavalry are on the way. I wonder if she’s still got her phone with her.”

She rang the number and then said, “It looks like it’s switched off.”

Which is when I remembered. “We switched our phones off in the car when we discovered that Dad had done the same. Her phone is probably still here in her handbag.”

Delilah quickly found where Destiny had left her handbag and, as she opened it, she handed me two passports. “These must be yours and your dad’s.”

“Thanks,” I said, putting them in my pocket.

“You’re right about the phone,” Delilah said, “it’s turned off.” She switched it on and a second later it beeped to show a text message waiting. Can you call me back on this number asap? Jeremy.

“it’s Dad,” I gasped, relief seeping through me, pulling out my mobile from my pocket.

Delilah said, “Better not to use your phone here. Keep it switched off and use the house phone instead.”

A minute later I was talking to my dad. “It’s all ridiculous,” he was saying. “Sure, some of the profits are down and there have been cash flow problems.”

“Then why don’t you tell the police, Dad?”

“Because they would confiscate everything and I’d be stuck in prison, without the chance to recover the losses. No, what I need to do is to get away somewhere safe to give me time to recover all the money that’s been lost and then I can pay everyone back.”

“But where will we go?” I asked.

“Ah, well, we’re going to have to travel separately. I’ll go out first and get everything set up and then I’ll call for you to come out there – probably get Destiny to bring you out. How does that sound?”

The question at the end cut straight through me: I’ve got a meeting on the day of your football match, James, but it’s all right as I’ll be there in plenty of time. How does that sound? How many times had I heard that final sentence whenever I wanted him to see me acting in the school play, or getting the school prize, or whatever, but always knowing it meant he was going to let me down?

“That sounds great, Dad. Where will you go?”

“Better you don’t know, then if the police interview you, you won’t have to lie. Where are you at the moment? Has Destiny got my passport?”

“We’re at Destiny’s mum’s house in Brixton and I’ve got our passports here, Dad. They’re in my pocket.” I pulled the passports out and tried to flip them open to check that one of them was, indeed, Dad’s passport, dropping them both on the floor as I did so. “Look Destiny is in…”

“That’s brilliant. Look, could you bring it to me? You just need to hop on the Tube and I’ll meet you on the platform at Victoria Underground Station. We can properly say, er, au revoir, then.”

“OK, Dad. What time shall we meet?”

***

I told Delilah what I had to do.

“It’s probably better if I come with you,” she suggested, “especially as you’re not very used to the Tube and it’ll be rush hour around then. And it will be your first time out in public as a girl.”

Wham! I’d forgotten all about it since the police raid, in which I’d been accepted as a girl without question. But how would I cope in public, when there’d be lots of people just looking at me, particularly, lots of boys of my age thinking about what they would like to do with me?

“That would be great, actually, Delilah. I’d completely forgotten about that part of it. Do I look all right?”

“You look a very natural girl, but perhaps if you’re going to see your dad off, you might like to put on a pretty outfit. Presumably, you didn’t warn him about your current disguise.”

I shook my head. “No. In fact, he’s probably going to blow his top when he sees me.”

“Don’t worry, lots of dads do that when they see how their daughters are dressed up. Come on, let’s choose a nice outfit and you can knock him dead. In fact, it might be quite fun to see how long it takes him to recognize you.”

***

As the train pulled into Victoria Tube station, I caught a glimpse of my dad as we flashed past him, waiting about halfway down the platform. “That was him,” I told Delilah as the train drew to a halt and the doors opened.

“You go on,” she said, slipping her capricious handbag over her shoulder, “and get a few minutes quality time with him, but remember, see if he recognizes you first.”

I stepped off the train very carefully, only just getting used to the one-inch kitten heels I was wearing, and definitely not getting used to the draughts running up my legs beneath the short denim skirt with the frayed hem. Neither was I getting used to the looks of every young male, and quite a few older ones, as they peered down the open V neck of my matching denim jacket, which was also frayed at the bottom. If this had been a normal occasion and I’d been seeing off my dad at the airport for a long journey, I’d have dressed smartly. The very idea of dressing down was an anathema.

And yet, I felt great. No one had looked at me suspiciously, realizing that I was really a boy. Instead, they had seen (or not seen) a West-Indian teenage girl.

As the crowd started to clear the platform, I caught sight of Dad, looking this way and that along the platform. The doors of the train closed and the train pulled out of the station (creating more draught which whizzed up my skirt). As I got closer to Dad, I thought he’d given up hope that I was on the train, and had turned to sit on one of the seats.

But as I got closer, he turned to me with a nice smile. Dad doesn’t smile at me much and I have to say it lifted my heart a little. Perhaps I had misjudged him and he was really dreading being away from me for so long. I gave him a nice smile back, and he lifted his hand in his characteristic wave, indicating I should sit next to him.

I knew Delilah would be dischuffed that he’d recognized me so quickly, and it was for her sake that I continued my roleplay, using the voice I’d been rehearsing with her since putting down the phone. “Hello,” I said, and gave him a lovely grin.

“Hi,” he replied. “So what’s your name.”

It gave me so much pleasure that Dad was going along with the roleplay, that my grin turned into a smirk. “Jasmine Williams,” I said, adding, “I’m Destiny’s cousin.”

“Oh!” he said, playing up his surprise. “Oh right, you’re Destiny Williams cousin,” he repeated, rather unnecessarily. I did think he was hamming things up, somewhat. Still, it was nice just playing a game with my dad. We hadn’t done that for years.

“I’ve brought your passport,” I said, handing him the envelope I’d put it in.

“Yes, of course,” he said, taking the envelope from me. “I was expecting my son to bring it.”

“He couldn’t make it,” I said.

“All for the better, I think,” he said. “That means we can have a little fun.”

What had got into Dad? I’d never known him in such a playful mood. Perhaps him going away had made him realize what he was about to miss. “I’d really enjoy that,” I said, giving him another lovely smile. “But have we got enough time?”

He glanced at his watch. “You’re right,” he said. “I haven’t got much time, but a quickie doesn’t take long. And when you see her next, thank Destiny for sending you along. She knows I like them young.” Then he slipped his hand onto my thigh and ran it up beneath my skirt.

It was so unexpected that I just gasped for an instant, but then in my side vision I saw something whizzing towards my head. I ducked back just as Delilah’s huge handbag rapidly flashed past me and landed squarely against Dad’s jaw.

“You dirty pervert,” Delilah shouted, as Dad fell off the seat onto the floor. “This is my niece and she’s fourteen-years-old. Dirty old men like you need locking up.” She then gave him a substantial kick in his rib cage.

She picked up her handbag, took my hand and said, “Come on, love. Let’s get away from these pervs.” And she marched me through the tunnel to another platform where a train travelling in the opposite direction had just arrived. The doors closed as we stepped onboard and within a few minutes we’d arrived back at Brixton Station.

It wasn’t until we were outside in the street that we trusted ourselves to speak about it, although Delilah had been muttering for our whole journey.

“Are you all right, love?” she asked

“I think so,” I said. “Can you just run it by me again what happened back there. I thought I was getting on great with him, then suddenly he’s slipping his hand up my skirt and you’re clonking him with your handbag. Dad has never touched me like that before. I don’t understand.”

“You twerp, your dad wasn’t touching you up, he was touching up a fourteen-year-old black girl because he thought he could get away with it. And I’m going to have serious words with Destiny about what she’s been saying and doing with him. “

“Touching up a young girl! My dad would never do…”

Delilah put her arm around me. “I’m afraid he would, love.”

***

The twins, Desiree and Desreta, were already home from school when we got back. I’d expected them to be identical but these two were as different as chalk and cheese.

Desiree was chubby, already with the big boobs and bum that characterised both her mother and Destiny. But Desreta was as slim as a beanpole, her white school blouse barely revealing the slight undulation of her breasts above her flat tummy. Delilah told them who I was and that I was hiding from the police. If, yesterday evening, my father had brought home a boy dressed as a girl and told me he was hiding from the police, it would have blown my mind, but these two seemed completely unfazed by it. And I also got the impression that they knew the importance of keeping quiet. I guessed that children’s dealer parents in this community were not those who went to the City of London every day; loose talk could get you, or their parents, a knife between the ribs.

Desiree spent a little time admiring my transformation, before retiring to their bedroom with her phone, whilst Desreta (call me Sreta) wanted to know everything that had happened to me that day. We used her phone to trawl the net looking at all the news sites for information about Dad, and comparing one bit of information with another.

The rumours said there was over a hundred million pounds missing from the company, the police simply said they were investigating reports of missing funds. So, it looked as though Dad’s final words to me on the phone had been lies.

“Look on the bright side,” Sreta said. “If your dad does manage to escape and call you out to some South American state, you’ll be stinking rich. You’d be able to pick any girl you wanted.”

“And if he gets sent to prison, penniless?” I asked.

“You’d be stuck with me,” she quipped with a smile.

“That’s all right, then,” I replied before I’d even thought about it. We both kind of grinned at each other, and I thought that, only a few hours ago, I’d been secretly in love with Destiny; now I was happily chatting with her sister who I found absolutely entrancing.

“What are you going to do about school?” Sreta asked.

“I dunno,” I said. “If I go back there, they’ll be asking all sorts of questions about who is caring for me. They’d be certain to take me away from Destiny and stick me with some unknown family.”

“I meant,” Sreta said, “has Mum done anything about temporarily getting you into our school? We missed enough school in lockdown. You can’t miss any more.

“Mum,” she yelled through to the kitchen. “Can’t Jasmine come to our school on Monday?”

“I’ll check it out,” her mum shouted back.

“But I can’t just turn up at your school,” I protested.

“It happens quite regularly here,” Sreta said. “Parents are arrested or something and the kids are passed onto a relative to look after. I’m sure Mum can get you enrolled.”

“But there’d be thousands of girls and boys,” I said, gasping at the implications, and wondering which would be worse.”

“Desiree and I would look after you,” she said. “You certainly mustn’t stop your schooling.”

“The school secretary has gone home,” Delilah said, sticking her head through the door. “But I suggest we plan that Jasmine goes in to school on Monday and I’ll ring the office first thing to clear it with the secretary.”

“But I can’t just go in,” I said, panicking. “I’ll be asked all kinds of questions about where I’ve come from and what happened to me.”

“You know your name,” Delilah said. “We’ll sort out your address in Bradford which I’ll pass onto the secretary, but you’d better memorise it in case someone else asks you. If you’re asked anything by the other children just say that you can’t tell. Kids here are used to that kind of response.

“Sreta, why don’t you get out Destiny’s old school uniform and sort out something suitable?”

“Sure thing,” she said, leaping up in delight. “Come on,” she said, grabbing my hand.

I followed her upstairs and went through the cache of clothes I’d earlier been through with Delilah, but this time picking out the white blouse and pleated tartan skirt which Sreta already wore, together with a pair of black Mary Janes and some tights. I was just admiring myself in the mirror when we heard a commotion downstairs. Before I could get stressed, Desiree burst out of her room, saying, “Destiny’s home. Come on. Let’s go and see her.”

We all rushed down the stairs and spent several minutes hugging her and listening to her experiences.

“That solicitor you sent was great, Mum,” Destiny said. “Far better than the one when I got arrested at that rave. He had me out of there in no time.”

“Thank Jasmine for it,” Delilah waved to me. “She offered to pay for someone, saying it was her fault you were in the mess.”

“It’s not your fault you have a cheating dad,” Destiny said. “Has he contacted you…”

“He has,” Delilah said, “and something came out of that meeting that you and I need to talk about, Destiny.” She turned to us. “Girls, make yourself scarce.”

She said it in a voice that brooked no argument. We all quietly went upstairs.

***

“James, I need to speak with you,” Destiny said a little while later. It was the first time I’d been called by my real name since my conversion and I had a sudden omen that she was going to say something I wasn’t going to like.

“What is it?”

“Mum says I need to be honest with you about something. She’s told me what happened on Victoria Station with your dad.”

“Right,” I said.

“The thing is that when your dad interviewed me for the job, he asked if I would have sex with him.”

“That’s disgusting,” I gasped. “But at least he still gave you the job when you told him to get lost.”

Destiny looked at me.

“You did tell him that was an abominable idea, didn’t you?” There was a terrible doubt growing inside me.

“I needed the job, James. I told him that I needed a written job offer, first.”

“Destiny! You mean you had… You had sex with my…with my dad! But…”

“James, you’re very young but having sex is what many adults do. It’s not evil. It has to be a personal choice. I chose to have sex with your dad in order to get the job, and that’s it.

“Or,” she added, “that should have been it. The point is that he kept wanting me to invite the twins to visit, saying it would be good for you to meet them.”

“Well, it would have been good to meet them,” I said.

“I didn’t like the way he kept asking about them,” Destiny said, “as though his interest was more than just on your behalf. And when I thought about it afterwards, he didn’t seem to be very interested in me at the interview until I’d told him about my family position, which of course, included the twins.”

I suddenly grasped what she was saying and my mouth dropped open. “You’re saying that he gave the job to you not just because you had sex with him but it also gave him access to young teenage girls?”

“I challenged him eventually and he told me that our family could do very well out of such a ‘liaison’ – he called it. I was looking around for another job when this all blew up.”

“You were going to leave me?” I said, trying hard not to cry.

“James, I enjoyed looking after you. You have become a good friend. I think what has happened over the course of today has made the situation better. I’m really pleased that you are staying with us for the time being, and I’m going to try as hard as I can to keep it that way.”

***

“Are you a budding poet,” Desire asked me when I returned to the living room, a grin all over her face. She was holding a small, half-folded slip of paper in one hand.

“What? I asked.

Her grin became wider, showing every one of her shining white teeth, as she fully unfolded the paper and read out:

“Jack and Will
Went up the Hill
To fetch a Whale some Water
Bill came Down
With half a crown
But over two hours Later.”

When she saw the lack of recognition on my face, she held up the writing for our inspection, saying, “This was lying on the floor over there. It’s not any of our writing. It must be yours.”

“It’s my dad’s writing,” I said, tears suddenly pricking my eyes. “It must have fallen out of his passport which Destiny brought from the house.”

Deep in thought, I reached out to take it and she passed it over. Sreta came to stare at it over my shoulder. “It’s when Dad and I were just fooling about,” I added. “Doing stupid things.”

“Sorry,” Desiree said. “I didn’t mean to upset you…” She broke off as her phone beeped. “Sorry,” she added, “gotta take this text.”

“Are you all right?” Sreta asked, still standing very close to me and watching me carefully.

I nodded. “Do you think I could borrow your phone for a minute, please? I’m not supposed to be using mine in case the police trace it.”

“Course you can,” she said with a smile. She handed it over and announced she was going for a wee.

***

“Did the password work?” Sreta asked me when she returned, taking me by surprise as I hadn’t heard the toilet flushing.

“What are you talking about?” I said, hurriedly looking at Desiree to see if she was listening. By now, she had ear buds in and her head was bouncing to some pop tune.

“Your dad is in banking,” Sreta said. “He isn’t going to make a mistake between Will and Bill. Neither is he going to randomly capitalize certain words, as I do with the acronyms I use as passwords. The piece of paper was in his passport, ready for a quick getaway, so it’s probably a password to his wodge of stolen money. So, did it work?”

I shook my head. “I thought it was his bitcoin password,” I said. “I’ve even tried substituting the number ‘2’ for the word two in the verse.”

“What about the twelve and a half pence?” Sreta asked.

“What?”

“Half a crown,” she answered. When I still looked blank, she added, “That’s two shillings and sixpence in the old money our grandparents used – equivalent to twelve and a half pence, in today’s money. Try using ‘12.5p’ instead of ‘hac’.”

She watched me try the new password and then said, “I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes grow as large as yours. I presume the sum of money you have just unlocked is even bigger than your eyes. I think my contribution towards unlocking that is probably worth a million pounds, do you agree?”

I nodded. “Yes,” I said, my mind trying to grasp the figures. “I think that’s worth a million pounds.”

Sreta punched the air in exhilaration.

I changed the password on Dad’s Bitcoin account to something very different. Then I helped Sreta set up her own account and transferred one million pounds to it. Afterwards, I thought I should have been more awed by what I was doing, but it was only numbers – somehow it didn’t translate into untold wealth.

“No one else should know about this,” Sreta said. “You must pretend you have more money in your savings account than you thought. You could say you inherited a lot of money from your mother.”

“I guess so,” I agreed. “It does mean I can pay your Mum properly for looking after me. But…” I paused. “Is this right, what we’re doing?”

Sreta smiled. “You can equally ask if it’s ‘right’ that some people have hundreds of thousands of pounds to invest when there are millions of people living in poverty in this country – not to mention the rest of the world. Were those people thinking of us poor people when they invested their money, or were they only thinking of making more hundreds of thousands of pounds?”

I shrugged.

“And if they weren’t thinking of us,” Sreta continued, “why should we think of them, now that we have the money? OK, it may be illegal, but the law is only made to protect the haves in this world, not people who live in this area. We just have to ensure we don’t get caught, which means being very wise about how much and when we spend it. Start throwing it around and people will start asking questions.”

“What about my dad?”

“I think your dad has to look after himself.”

I shrugged again. “I guess you’re right. I think I also need to properly change my identity. Using your cousin’s name from Bradford may work for a while, but sooner or later the two identities will clash. Do you know anyone who could get me a new identity?”

Sreta smiled. “Oh, yes. It’ll cost but you should be able to afford it. You could also decide to go back to being male; in fact, you could become a white male.”

I grinned back at her. “I reckon I’m less likely to be discovered if I stick to being a black girl. Except I’d need a lot of help from you.”

Sreta’s smile went from ear to ear. “Black girl it is then,” she said.

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Comments

way cool stuff

thanks for sharing !

DogSig.png

The end?

erin's picture

If this is the end of the story, well, it's a good ending. :)

But the story sure could be continued. :P

Hugs,
Erin

= Give everyone the benefit of the doubt because certainty is a fragile thing that can be shattered by one overlooked fact.

wasn't sure

Maddy Bell's picture

what to expect at the start but thoroughly enjoyed it. Please say there will be a follow on,


image7.1.jpg    

Madeline Anafrid Bell

It's Been Some Time

But it's nice to see something from you.

Jill

Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Long time, no see

Valcyte's picture

But worth the wait.
Hope your muse has more adventures in store for us. So many ways this story could go.
Val

You Wouldn't Want Dad

joannebarbarella's picture

As your financial advisor. As Woody Allen said "He invested all my money until there was none left."

The trick is going to be getting all that money out of Bitcoin into something a little steadier without drawing attention to it....and a young black girl in Brixton is not going to be able to be worth millions.

On the other hand she is not going to stick out like a sore thumb in that community.* It's the perfect disguise.

I do hope there is more to come in this story.

* For those who don't know Brixton is the London equivalent of Harlem in New York.

What a pinch to be in

Jamie Lee's picture

Dad really is a trash piece of work. Air is wasted on him. And his running out on his son proves he's no father.

James is better off where he is, even though he knows his dad was lying about being sent for. Dad wouldn't send for James because it would mean he would have "baggage" slowing him down.

So, what becomes of James as he is now? Is he exposed at school? Is he found by the police? Or, shock of shock, his dad does send for him? Or, dad is finally arrested?

Others have feelings too.