Testing Times - Chapter 31 "Jeri Gets Her Wish"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  

Part
Thirty One

 

"Jeri Gets Her Wish"

 
Sunday 24th May
 

The ferry from Orkney was making it's final approach into Scrabster as she drove towards the harbour from Thurso. To say that she'd had an unexciting morning thus far would be the perennial understatement.

Tammy parked near the Scrabster Harbour Trust building at ten twenty. She'd positioned her car so there was a clear line of sight to the main road, the A9, this was also the inbound and egress road for all ferry traffic, all arriving and departing traffic would be recorded with her onboard cameras; one day Hilary might tell her why.

"That's a good position Tammy, you can safely ignore the ferry traffic. Quickly go and check in with the duty Harbour Master."

"Sure, Hilary."

Tammy left her handbag tucked behind her seat and slipped her phone into the camera bag. Her camera was already out and she'd swapped the lens whilst in Thurso for one slightly longer; a very wide lens was no use in the harbour. She took stock of her location as she stood next to her car, behind her were the waters of the inner harbour. Across from that was the inner harbour wall and the outer harbour. Plenty of water, but even in May it was only a few degrees above freezing.

She felt like a right idiot dressed in her high vis jacket until she saw just about every port worked wearing one. There was only difference, hers was clean and plainly brand new whereas the others were well used. She climbed the stairs to the first floor harbour office.

"Good morning, Miss, what can I do for you?"

"Hello, I'm Tammy Smart from Caithness Marine Research."

"Oh yes, we were expecting you around seven?"

"The rest of the week I will be here around that time, but not today!"

"We'll see, little girl, we'll see. Now, I allocated young Jimmy to walk with you today but he went for breakfast an hour ago and is needed for the ferry in just under ten minutes. Now, if you'd been here at seven?"

"I'm sorry, Mr?"

"McDonald, Hamish McDonald."

"Well, I'm sorry Mr McDonald, but nobody told me."

"It's not personal Miss Smart, we don't let anyone go wandering around the harbour area without an escort the first time they're here, health and safety you see."

"I do, very sensible."

"Good, coffee while you're waiting for your escort?"

"Yes, please."

"The kettle's over there, be a good lass and make us both a mug. White with two sugars please."

Tammy felt insulted but put her camera and bag down before going towards the tea station. The kettle was, of course, empty so she turned to speak to the Harbour Master - just in time to see him heading out the door.

She did find water, and a fridge with milk, so busied herself with the beverages. Looking around she spotted Hamish's coffee mug, a well-used and well stained drinking vessel. She used a little of the boiling water to clean it but it was difficult without a proper kitchen.

His coffee was steaming when Hamish returned, bringing a young lad around eighteen with him.

"Jimmy, this is the wee lass we thought wasn't going to turn up." He turned to Tammy, "he takes coffee the same as me."

Tammy got the hint and made the third coffee, wondering if she should just give up and leave the chauvinist's office.

"Not bad, Miss Smart, not bad."

"Thank you," she wasn't being sincere but Hamish missed the tone, "can I go around the harbour when we've finished our coffee?"

"Oh, no, not yet. Jimmy has to help with the unaccompanied freight first."

Tammy did not want to apologise for her tardiness again, when she hadn't even been told about these issues in advance. "Unaccompanied?"

"Lorry trailers that have been dropped in the port, we use a tug to load and unload the trailers."

"A tug?" Tammy was becoming confused.

"A diesel tug, makes a load of noise and can't go more than twenty miles an hour, but a heavy duty work horse regardless. There's one over there." He pointed out the window at the strange looking beast.

Jimmy drained his mug whilst Tammy was still sipping it, then he was out of the door and into the tug. It started with a cloud of black fumes from a vertical exhaust and then was off.

"He's my boy, a good lad. Give him half an hour and he'll be ready, there's very little freight on a Sunday. You can put the kettle back on, my daughter will be here soon, she works on the ferry."

Tammy could see that this was an incestuous arrangement but hardly surprising in a tight knit community. She relaxed but spotted something in the water, she grabbed her camera and headed to the door.

"What's got into you, lass?"

"Something in the water, out there?" She opened the door and put the camera to her eye, snapping away.

"It's just a pod of killer whales, we see them all the time."

"Really?"

"Oh yes."

She was quite relieved when Jimmy returned to the office, especially when he didn't need another coffee.

"Ready, Miss?"

Unfortunately, two mugs of coffee had done more than delay her. "Can you direct me to the ladies?" She could hear Hamish's groan, and Jimmy's smirk.

The walk around the harbour was an anticlimax after that. Tammy wanted to follow Hilary's instruction but Jimmy wouldn't let her stop to photograph the small boats, pointing out instead all the men, and women, who worked in the port.

"That's cousin Mary, and her husband cousin Gerald."

"Both cousins?"

"Yes," he sounded indignant, "Mary is from my father's side and Gerald from my mother's."

"Oh, I see."

With that, the speed of the tour picked up, Tammy was back at her car ten minutes later. She stowed the camera in the boot, retrieving her phone from the bag. Her high vis jacket went into the boot as well. She docked the phone, it was nearly midday and she had a missed call.

"Hi Hilary, you called?"

"Yes, there was an attempt to grab Helen this morning."

Tammy started the car and got on the road, exceeding the speed limit slightly through the village before testing the rallying aspects of her Mini Cooper on the open road towards Dounraey.

"Tammy, did you hear what I just said?"

"No Hilary."

"Right, there's no panic, slow down."

"But you said ..." She reduced her speed.

"I said there was an attempt, I didn't say she'd been harmed or was at risk."

"Err?"

"A couple of thugs were stopped coming out of town by the police. In the car were photos of Helen and the addresses for you, Elsie and the school."

"Why were they stopped?"

"They'd been checking the hotels, showing the photos to everyone. They were spotted by some off duty officers, apparently."

Tammy relaxed a little, "okay, what else?"

"Nothing else, the police are investigating. I gather you had interesting morning?"

"Yeah, you could have warned me about that pig the Harbour Master!"

"That's all for show, to see if you can be wound up. He tried the same act on me."

"Great, so you could have let me know."

"It wouldn't have made much difference."

Tammy ended the call, what could they do with Helen?

She left her car out the front and walked in through the front door, to be met by Joan. "Can we have a word?"

Tammy shrugged and followed Joan into the study.

"What is it, mum?"

"Jeri."

"What about her?"

"She might have to be him, again."

"Pardon?"

"I talked to the Head this morning, the rule is that you need a shrink's letter to attend school as a girl."

"Oh, and there's no way we can get Jill to help in that regard?"

"Correct, plus her father's chair of governors so you can't expect any relaxation of the rules."

"What about the pinafores?"

"That will be okay for a short time but he might insist on a letter from her GP to continue wearing them after this week?"

"I see, what would want to do?"

"My own position is that if she wants to be a girl, let her. However, she only made that decision on Friday afternoon so who's to say it's a long-held belief? She's not claimed it's anything more than an epiphany as yet. Also, there's no female boarding until September."

"So Gerry, has to attend, as a boy."

"Yes. We can't put him, or her, up here any longer as we don't have the space. It doesn't help that Elsie's away, she'd be able to deal with Harry Davison."

"Have you told Jeri?"

"Not yet, she's been with your Dad at Aberdeen airport waiting for her mum and sister. They'll be about another twenty minutes."

So, Jeri had got her wish, a ride on a helicopter.

"I thought we'd have lunch first then sit down to discuss the situation. I just wanted to bounce the issues off you first."

"Fair enough, as Head Girl, I presume?"

"Something like that, confidentially of course."

"Of course, what about Helen?"

"It doesn't sound as if we need to change our arrangements at the moment, at least that's what your Dad and the police think. Can you wait about fifteen then take a buggy across to Elsie's to collect them?"

"Sure."

Tammy dropped her bag on her bed, she needed the loo again - it also wouldn't do any harm to check her face before the visitors arrived. Heading outside she could see Angela and Helen climbing out of the pool.

"When's lunch?"

"Soon, Helen."

"Okay, time to get changed."

The pair threw towels around their shoulders and sauntered off towards the house, Tammy wondered if Helen had been told about that morning's incident? She checked the poolside was tidy as Leanne wasn't normally scheduled to work on a Sunday. She unlocked the gate that opened into Elsie's estate.

Suddenly she could hear a helicopter approaching from the South. She jumped into one of the buggies then sped across to the landing area behind the house of the Clan McPherson, arriving just as the chopper came into land.

Richard did the introductions "Thanks Tammy, this is Olivia and Claire Anders, Jeri's mum and sister."

"Pleased to meet you Mrs Anders."

Richard loaded their bags onto the back of the golf buggy as the chopper took off, startling the newly arrived guests. Jeri joined them then once all four were squeezed onto the buggy she headed back, much more slowly than before, leaving her dad to walk back.

Tammy helped carry their bags indoors, where Joan met them.

"Tammy, could you look after Claire and Jeri while I speak to their mum?"

"Sure, Jeri what do you want to do?"

"Let's go up to the studio."

Claire wasn't saying very much and Tammy wondered if their mum, Olivia, had told her not to pester her new sister. They climbed the door to the studio, it was clear Angela and Helen had been up here earlier as all the lights were on.

Claire decided she was out of range of any adult supervision, "I can't believe ...." Jeri was in a pair of capris with a scooped neck gypsy top. Her bra straps were obvious. She wasn't wearing any make-up but the outfit screamed 'girl'.

"Are those real?"

Claire pointed at Jeri's bust, then prodded her."

"Oi, Claire, yes they're real."

The sisters hugged, Jeri was plainly emotional as her eyes were wet. Tammy handed her a tissue.

"So, you're Tammy?"

"Yes."

"Who girlified my big brother?"

"No-one, she just decided on Friday that's how it would be. We went shopping yesterday for a few things."

"Like a bra?"

"Yes, she needs one."

"I'm a B cup and my brother's nearly the same as me."

"Your sister," Tammy corrected the girl.

"Yeah, whatever!" She walked into the recording booth and picked up the acoustic, brushing her long blonde hair away from her face. The wireless pick-up was already switched on as she strummed it. Jeri went to the desk and moved some of the faders.

"Can you play?"

"Oh, yes. I've been practising with Gerry's guitars. He left them at home."

Tammy wanted to correct Claire again, but knew it would take some time. Of course, it wasn't even as simple as that, she wondered how well the meeting was going inside the house.

Claire started playing something but Tammy couldn't recognise it, she wasn't as proficient as Jeri that much was clear. There was very little communication between the Anders girls, Tammy was trying to determine what Claire was thinking but she was giving very few clues away as she played.

A phone rang, Tammy answered.

"We're all wanted, lunch."

She hadn't even known there was an extension in the studio, but perhaps that was sensible after Angela managed to shut herself in there a few months earlier. Tammy climbed down the stairs and escorted them across to the house. There was the smell of Sunday roast wafting out of the kitchen window, but inside the kitchen door was firmly closed. Tammy suggested they washed using her bathroom before lunch.

"Nice room."

"Thanks Claire."

A few minutes later they arrived in the dining room

Lunch was polite, the small talk was, er, small. No-one wanted to broach the major subjects.

"So what do you do, Tammy?" Claire was asking.

"I'm in the sixth form with Jeri, I finish there in a few weeks. Angela and Helen are at the same school."

"Gerry said you were doing a job this morning?"

"I have a part time role with a company in town, doing research. I am doing harbour traffic surveys right now."

"Oh."

Tammy guessed that Livvy, as she'd now been told to call, had been briefed by Joan and Richard about the school. Of course, that was not a certainty right now.

With lunch out of the way, Richard asked Tammy to stay but the other girls were sent out, Helen was asking Claire if she'd brought a swimsuit.

"Tammy, Dr McIntosh is on his way over with Reverend Franklin, so we'll relocate to the sitting room shortly. Before we do that though, could you explain about yourself to Livvy?"

Tammy looked at her father with a quizzical look, but he nodded back.

"Well, I transitioned last November and came back to school as a girl at the end of December."

"When did you know?"

"Years earlier, but it was circumstances that caused me to transition rather than a well planned operation."

"Operation?"

"Perhaps not the best word, they weren't the best planned arrangements. I did however have the support of the Head, most of the governors and my father."

"But, how could you know, I mean you were born a boy?"

"Yes, physically, but I'd like to think of it as a plumbing problem as my brain is wired as a woman. I've had several shrinks confirm that."

"I understand he, she, had a problem with a shrink on Friday?"

"I wasn't there so I can't tell you what happened, but I've had problems with this woman before and won't be seeing her again. I'm dealing with Professor Roberts in Glasgow for any further appointments."

"I understand there are others at your school?"

"Two others that I know of, both in the Upper Sixth, one of whom was at this table just now. They, as I, have letters confirming they are transgendered and in transition, this allows them to attend school as females. Jeri has no such letter so that would cause a problem."

Jeri knew Tammy's story as it was common knowledge in the school, but hadn't known about previous encounters with Jill. Livvy had only just been made aware of the legal aspects.

"So will Gerry have to leave St Andrews?"

"That's uncertain but there could be a compromise position until the end of term."

"Maybe." Her mum wasn't hopeful of an easy solution. "What about bullying?"

Joan intervened, "I can assure you Mrs Anders that bullying is taken very seriously. Jeri helped identify one boy and he has been removed from the school. That was the first such case this year."

"So can he stay at the school? Yes or no?"

"We need to discuss that with the Head."

"You said the Reverend was also going to be here?"

"He's a governor as well, as is Richard. I'm a member of staff so I don't make policy decisions. Tammy's Head Girl so has to be involved with the practicalities of any solution to this issue."

There was a knock on the study door, Tammy opened it as she was closest. "Dr McIntosh and Reverend Franklin are in the sitting room, Miss."

"Thank you Leanne." Plainly Richard or Joan had asked her to work.

Jeri's mum was clearly not used to being in this type of environment, but she'd said nothing at lunchtime when Leanne had served. "You have a maid?"

"Yes, and a cook. We have a busy household and need the help, shall we go?"

***

Jeri had been called into the meeting after twenty minutes, at which point Tammy had left. It must have been a sight as Jeri arrived in her black bikini, fresh from the pool, wrapped in a towel in a vague attempt to maintain decency.

Tammy gave up and changed into her bikini. She'd just come down the stairs when Rev Franklin came out of the sitting room in search of the toilet. She was carrying her towel, not wearing it.

"Oh, I'm sorry Miss Smart, could you just tell me ..."

"Over there, Reverend." Tammy pointed towards the ground floor facilities.

"Thank you." He was flustering.

"Not at all."

It hadn't been her intention to make the Reverend uncomfortable, just bad timing. She'd almost made it to the back door when she was called back. There were now two bikini-clad transgendered girls in the room, Tammy wrapped the towel securely around herself.

The Headmaster addressed her, "I believe we have a workable plan, whether it's what Miss Anders wishes is another matter."



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