Testing Times - Chapter 39 "One Of The Girls"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  

Part
Thirty Nine

 

"One Of The Girls"

 
Friday 12th June
 

Tammy had been looking forward to the end of the week, she'd had three exams in the past five days and now had three more to do. That would mark the end of the schooling and the start of something else.

She'd attended an open evening at the University for the Highlands and Islands the previous night and had a better idea how the course worked. In practice she had to see her tutor no more than twice a month unless there was a problem. Angela, John and Tanya had accompanied her but Helen had still not made any application for further education, Tammy resolved to keep out of that argument.

Angela had doubts, she wasn't sure she could do the work but she did want a career and independence, so had to participate. Tammy held her hand but had insisted their parents stayed away from this event.

She spotted a few kids, mostly those from Tanya's school, who were looking very embarrassed as their mum or dad kept asking silly questions. One or two came to Tanya to ask about Helen.

"Sorry, I don't know what she's doing, I never get told. Tammy?"

So much for staying out of it. "Don't know, I was hoping she'd be here tonight."

"Doesn't she go to the boys school?"

"That's what I heard."

"Yeah, maybe she's gone all butch and wants to play rugby with them?"

Tammy had shrugged and walked away.

Friday afternoon she'd collected Helen and Jeri, the aim was to relax before the informal dinner. Richard wanted to speak to Jeri before she changed for the pool, for simplicity she was wearing a summer dress over her bikini.

Jeri was none the wiser as she was swept into the study. The rest of the girls went out to the pool but volleyball wasn't playable with only three of them.

"What's up with Jeri, Tammy?"

"I can't say, and it's up to Jeri when she comes back out."

"Come on, she could be getting told off in there?"

Tammy laughed, "Helen, she has nothing to worry about, but it really is up to her whether she tells us."

They messed around in the water, Helen wasn't quite ready to swim the length but was making the width.

"Have you heard any more about why the police were there, Tammy?"

"No, Janet won't tell me anything."

"What about asking the teachers?"

"It doesn't work like that, Helen, none of the teachers will say a word, Janet is the best source of gossip there. Angela, did you dad ever say anything after school?"

She thought before answering, "I stayed in my room, out of the way, either doing homework or pretending to do it. I really don't know if he said anything to mum."

The arrival of police around half past one on Wednesday had been unexpected, there had been nothing in the press and none of the staff were missing as far as she knew.

They were asked to get cleaned up for dinner but still hadn't seen Jeri return. Helen used the shower in the guest room so all conversation ended.

When the three met up on the landing, Jeri was just coming out of the study. She was holding a sheet of paper and had a smug smile on her face. They ran down the stairs but Helen got there first, snatching the sheet from Jeri's hands.

"Give that back!"

"I just want to read ..... Owww!"

Jeri had slapped Helen, and was easily able to take the sheet back. She turned and ran back into the study, locking the door. Joan had seen it all.

"Helen, I suggest you leave. We don't tolerate bullies here."

"I just wanted ..."

"You managed to ruin a special moment for Jeri. If you had done that in school I could ask to exclude you for a week, you would miss your final A level exams."

"So what?"

"Is that how you feel?"

"Yeah, it's not like I'll need them?"

"Fine, I'll have the cottage cleared out on Monday, you have until then to arrange somewhere else to stay."

Helen was now in tears, obviously realising what she'd done. None of them approached her, Joan was taking command of the situation. Richard was nowhere to be seen, Tammy guessed he was still in the study consoling Jeri.

Joan took Helen into the sitting room and firmly closed the door, none of them wanted to be in that room. Tammy knocked on the study door.

"Jeri, it's Tammy, can I come in?"

There was a short delay then the bolt was pulled back. Jeri walked back from the door and gestured that Tammy should close it. Her make-up, not that Jeri usually wore much, was smeared. Richard was at the desk.

"Is your mum dealing with Helen?"

"Yes, Dad."

"Fine, please leave it to her." Tammy nodded. "Now, perhaps Jeri can pass on her news?"

"I've had a consultation with Professor Roberts." Tammy knew this but didn't admit so.

"I couldn't spare the time to see him and I don't think my mum could afford the train fare, let alone the consultancy fee." Jeri laughed. "Anyway, it seems the school's medical fund covered it."

Richard nodded, Tammy couldn't remember such a fund, but remembered that Helen's father had provided a sizeable bursary to the school.

"So I spoke to him for nearly an hour, he asked about how I was coping, about my orchi, dad's cancer, all that sort of thing. He asked about you too. I think I must have told him my life history at least twice. He said he had some notes from Dr Hall but he wouldn't read them until we were done."

Tammy was waiting, not wanting to butt in.

"He finished the interview then said he was going to call mum, I wasn't sure that she'd give him the information he wanted but he told me not to worry. About twenty minutes later we got this fax from him."

Tammy gently took the sheet and read it, Professor Julian Roberts was satisfied that Jeri was transgendered and, subject to blood-work, would be started on hormone replacement treatment at the earliest opportunity.

Tammy gave Jeri a hug, "well done girl, absolutely one of us now!"

"That's not all."

"Oh?"

"The Head told me that so long as I had this letter by the end of next week I could take Lori's place in the office until September."

"Where will you live?"

"The female dormitory block will be ready by the end of next week, despite the fire. In fact I could move into one now but the contractors are still doing things."

"I didn't think there was a fire?"

Richard intervened, "it was very small but could have been much worst, thankfully it was found very quickly and extinguished."

"Where was it?"

"In one of the female dorms. When the fire bell had gone off, none of the boys would have been in the new block so you wouldn't have known."

"No, I assumed it was a false alarm. Was it deliberate?"

"I can't say." Tammy guessed she wouldn't get any more information about the fire.

"Jeri, what about your disclosure certificate?"

"We applied for it on Monday afternoon, it should come through next week."

"When were you asked?"

"On Monday. The Head said he didn't want to have to advertise in the town as it would take too long. I guess I was the only suitable candidate even if I didn't actually apply?"

"What about seeing your mum in the summer?"

"I'll fit a week in somewhere, but I think it'll be best if I work. I'll get to be a night warden for the girls as well."

"Tanya was going to do that."

"Yes, we'll be splitting the work, every other weekend or something like that."

"That's brilliant news, but don't let Tanya have you do all the work just because you're in the Halls. You'll get paid too?"

"Yes, all through the summer and then for when I'm on duty. I think the plan is I do nine thirty at night to six thirty in the morning. That's nine hours at the basic rate for four days, so a thirty six hour week. Tanya then covers the next four nights, but apparently it's included in her salary."

"So you get paid for not doing anything?" Tammy giggled.

"Oh, there will be work. From what I've been told I might need danger money!"

"I'm so pleased for you!"

"Thanks Tammy, but what about ... Helen?"

Richard offered to go and check on them, but allowed Angela into the study so Jeri could bring her up to date.

What surprised them all was that Helen was still there for dinner. She was very contrite, very apologetic and had none of the bravado she'd exhibited earlier. Under normal circumstances there would have been wine on the table but this was missing. Tammy noticed that Jeri's appetite was okay but Helen was picking at her plate.

 
Saturday 13th June
 

Tammy decided she needed a summer wardrobe but would she also need working clothes, the professional businesswoman? Trying to get a tailored suit in Thurso wasn't easy so she'd make do with off-the-peg. A few words with Sarah a week earlier had solicited a few outfits.

"Okay Tammy, the options are cream, navy, burgundy, black and cerise. Each comes with a jacket, trousers and two skirt lengths, knee and mid-thigh. It's all size twelve, I don't think you've changed recently?"

"No, not unless the cut is different to everything else, where did you get them?"

"Do you remember Penelope Lane?"

"Penny? Of course I do."

"She had your measurements from the modelling you did earlier in the year so these have been made to order then expressed here."

"Oh. I wasn't expecting that."

"The only thing she asks is that you mention the brand every now and again, there are some cards in each jacket."

"Great, I'll take the lot, how much?"

"You didn't hear, it's free, it's a thank you for the work you did with her. Her wholesale trade is thirty percent up across the Highlands and fifty percent here. I'm still handing the Orkney's too and taking a slice of that."

"I'm so pleased for you Sarah."

"Yes, since you helped me in December my business has done much more than survive, sales are up sixty to seventy percent on the same period last year. But at times I struggle to cope and now I have no-one to help on Saturdays."

"You could try Jeri Anders, but she'll be working with Janet Adams through the week."

"Have I met her?"

"She's five foot four, brunette, shy."

"Oh yes. She looks fifteen."

"She's seventeen, in the middle of A levels, eighteen in September."

"I'll give Janet a call and work something out."

A few customers had walked in so Tammy offered to assist. One woman was clutching a bundle of flyers and not really looking at the stock, Sarah was busy so she approached Tammy.

"Hello, I'm Christine Trethgarwyn, do you read the local press?"

Tammy did not want this conversation but didn't want to lie either.

"Can I help you with anything Ms Trethgarwyn? We have a few offers on at the moment."

"I'd just like to speak to you about local politics."

"I'm sorry but I have customers waiting and I don't discuss politics when I'm working."

"Maybe if I see you somewhere else then, thank you." She left, probably used to being sent away.

About half an hour later the shop was empty again and the pair had a chance to talk. "Who was that woman, Tammy?"

"Christine Trethgarwyn, she's a candidate for the by-election."

"I've never seen her before."

"Neither have I."

Tammy excused herself and walked around to the rear of the store, then up the stairs into Caithness Marine.

"Hi Tammy."

"Oh, hi Sophie. Is Hilary here?"

"No, she's out for the day so I'm minding the shop for her."

"Okay, you never said how long you were going to be up here?"

"I didn't and at the time I didn't know either."

Tammy guessed she wasn't going to get a great deal out of Sophie. "How's Heather?"

"She's fine, she's resting after a major operation."

"What did she have done?"

"It's not my place to discuss that, you should ask Heather when you get there but she may not want to answer."

Tammy shrugged, she wasn't learning a great deal. "Christine Trethgarwyn just came into the shop." She pointed to the floor.

"Oh."

"I'm pretty sure she didn't recognise me and I was careful what I said."

"Good, thankfully I won't ask you to submit an encounter report."

"Would I have to?"

"Under certain circumstances you should do it automatically, even if not asked. It can back you up if a query or a complaint catches up with you later."

"I see."

"In this case, however, I suggest you do the report regardless. Do you know where to find the online forms?"

"Yes."

"Well, there's a spare terminal in the conference room, use that."

Tammy tried to login but her password had expired, that took a phone call to fix. Fifteen minutes later she'd completed and logged off.

"Who did you submit it to?"

"Hilary, I couldn't see you on the list. Heather is marked as unavailable."

"You won't find me. Now, I believe it would be a good thing for you write an encounter report any time you come across a known person of interest, or someone who is potentially of interest."

"How would I know?"

"Look at it this way; consider whether Hilary, Dave Brown or Heather might like to know about the person?"

"Even if I don't speak to them, Sophie?"

"Yes, just observe and report. It might be unimportant or it might be the key piece in an investigation. You won't necessarily know which so don't make an assumption and declare it worthless. Also, the longer you leave the report the worst your memory is and potentially the value of the report decreases as well."

This was making sense to Tammy but it was so completely different to her school-work or the assistance she'd given her father over the years.

"Tammy, did you see the paperclip symbol next to the form?"

"Yes."

"You can attach any sound or video recordings you have, plus photos and scans. Just don't take any risks, any at all, in order to take a photo or record a conversation. The clips, pics etc are additional to the text of your report, extra, they are not essential."

"Right. What about any photos my car takes?"

"Hilary can add those when she reviews your report."

"Understood."

"Just remember, do not take any risks."

"Yes, I understand."

"Now, Tammy, you know that I've been here all week?"

"Yes, I guess you were involved with the harbour master thing?"

"That 'thing' as you put it is an ongoing investigation by the local police and not my area of concern."

"Oh."

"Don't make assumptions, Tammy, it will get you into trouble."

"Ummm, yes."

"What you do need to know, however, is I'm very close to making an arrest, possibly two, concerning a long term threat to your security."

"Oh, who?"



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