tagTranssexuals & CrossdressersWatching the Detectives

Watching the Detectives

bynikkiesilk©

I live for feedback.

*****

1 Philippa

For the umpteenth time I needed to move to get my circulation going again. I tried to stretch my legs but it's not easy in the front seat of my small car. Fuck, I thought as I snagged my tights against something beneath the steering wheel. If that was another pair ruined I would scream. I was parked facing a nondescript semi-detached house in a drab suburb of South London. It felt like I had been here for days when it had been just four hours as I checked my watch yet again.

I hate night time surveillance jobs; they are often cold, uncomfortable, downright creepy, and sometimes dangerous. I keep pepper spray in my handbag and an extendable baton, bought in the US, in the car for protection, but I've never had to use them as I have always talked my way out of trouble. These bread and butter jobs are the kind of work that pays to keep the wolf from the door. Thank God for husbands who can't keep their trousers zipped up and wives who won't keep their knickers on. There was a steady stream of spouses who would make their way to my scruffy office with tearful appeals for me to find out whether Charlie or John or Samantha or Linda were straying from the straight and narrow.

I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Philippa, 28 years old and a private detective in the aforesaid South London. I also happen to be a pre-op transsexual, but I assume none of you are interested in that.

Tonight I was following and hoping to catch a few photos of a little scumbag who was a serial cheater on his pretty wife. I couldn't understand any man who could come home to a gorgeous wife and then turn round and cheat with some of the slags I had photographed him with. However, mine was not to reason why, mine was to do and get paid.

The front door opened in the house I was watching and he stuck his head out to look around. They never check properly, so there was not much chance of being spotted. I raised the Nikon to my eye, focussed and shot a few frames. He ducked back in and then emerged with a woman wearing a dressing gown. They embraced and I got a lovely close up sequence of them kissing with his hand inside her dressing gown.

I ducked down as he left the house and strolled down the street to where he had parked his car. I had an appointment with his wife tomorrow at the office which would lead to the usual tears and then anger. Still, I had done my job and would get paid. My work is done, I thought, pulled the car away from the kerb and drove off hoping to get some sleep. Shit, I had laddered my tights.

This is the glamorous life of a 21st century private detective trying to earn a living in the mean streets of Tooting, South London. Raymond Chandler, eat your heart out.

How did I get to become a private detective? It's a long story. I was named Philip after my grandfather who had died on D-Day on Sword Beach. He had married my grandmother two months earlier and my father was born five months later. Do the maths; things like that happened in wartime. My dad became a police officer in the Met police here in London until his retirement as a Chief Superintendent. He met my mum, who was ten years younger than him, and they tried and tried to have children and had pretty much given up when, hey presto, yours truly popped into the world.

I loved my mum and respected my father. That's not to say I didn't love him, but he was a copper and had rules by which he lived and wanted me to live. I wasn't wild or rebellious but I guess I never lived up to his expectations for a son. I was small and slender, taking after my mum, wasn't good at sport much to the disappointment of my rugby mad father. I didn't fit in with what the boys wanted to do and I preferred to spend most of my time with the girls. It was hop scotch for me and not climbing trees.

When I grew up gender dysphoria didn't exist. Well it did, but no one called it that back then. What I got called was fairy and pansy and sissy and bullied mercilessly. I didn't have the ability or the will to fight back and so I withdrew into my own world. I was unhappy but I didn't understand why.

That's when I discovered dressing. I was looking for some solace and I thought, as I liked doing girl things, why not try to look like one. I stole a pair of my mum's knickers from the laundry hamper one night and put them on in my bedroom. The feeling as they slid up my legs sent me dizzy and when I pulled them up tight I nearly fainted.

That was that, as they say. I would 'borrow' my mum's stuff and shoplift knickers and pairs of tights from local shops. I built a small collection of knickers and a bra and a couple of dresses I picked up from outside the charity shop where someone had left them for collection. I would get home from school and run to my room and pull on the knickers and the bra and a dress. God knows what I looked like, but I didn't care, I was happy.

Of course, I got caught. Mum was crying and Dad went crazy, calling me all kinds of names and it would ruin him if it ever got out his son was a poof. After he had finished and stormed out, Mum came and hugged me and told me it would be OK and we would sort things out. Mum was so sweet and talked to me for ages about how I felt and why I did it and told me it was natural for boys to explore what they felt. She probably got me through one of the darkest periods of my life. Dad was no help, but he just didn't understand and therefore just rejected the whole idea.

I still got to dress occasionally with Mum's passive connivance. She would look the other way rather than support it outright, otherwise Mum felt she would be letting my dad down. I built another small stash of clothes and even got my hands on some makeup I would practice with when I knew Dad was safely out of the way. One night I came down from my bedroom to the kitchen where Mum was sitting and she gently wiped some eye shadow off my face which I had missed before Dad could see it. She was and still is, a hero.

Then, at about age 16, I was given my own computer and I discovered the internet. I not only discovered it, I nearly drowned in it. I soon found out I was not alone; indeed, there were many people going through the same struggle as me. It makes such a difference when you know others are feeling the same doubts and fears. It doesn't make them disappear, but you realise they can be faced up to and, just maybe, they can be overcome. They were also willing to show me how I could cope with the bigotry and prejudice I would face if I went down the path I was considering. I must have spent every spare moment for a year in reading and researching this new world. At last I had found an identity; I realised my feelings weren't wrong or perverted. I felt happier than at any time in the past. I knew I wanted to be a girl, not a boy.

I got to know people online and we would get together when we could and get loaded on cheap cider, dress together and play around. At 18 I left school, found a job in an insurance office and hated it. However, it meant I could move away from home. I could be in boy mode at work and then get back to the one room place I was renting and could become the girl I wanted to be. Occasionally, I would go out dressed late at night to walk around feeling liberated and scared in equal measure. I developed some problems trying to balance the two sides of my personality, became deeply depressed and more than once contemplated suicide as the answer. Luckily, there were some good people I had met and they helped me to come to terms with what I was facing.

I met an older T-Girl who was further down the path with her transition. She took a liking to me and helped me to get my head sorted out. She told me to stop trying to walk down two paths and to pick the one which suited me best and go with it. I guessed it would be a hard road if I chose to follow my heart. But I knew this what I had to do so, with my friend's support, I started on hormones and began the process of transition. It was such a huge relief to finally start the journey to the girl I wanted to be.

It was inevitable that I would have to come out at work, as the changes the hormones brought were becoming too obvious. I dreaded the reaction I would get from my colleagues, but I was surprised. After the first shocked reactions and sniggering it calmed down and people moved on to other issues to get worked up about. At least most weren't outrightly hostile, although there were two older blokes who were extremely nasty about it. A couple of the women took my side and sorted the two men out, but they never accepted me. It was bearable, but there were always snide remarks which hurt so much. However, I clung to the thought that it had to be worth it, as I felt so much better now I was making my first steps towards who I wanted to be.

I was still lonely, however, until I joined a LGBT group which had started up locally, made some good friends there and life started to look up a bit. The support I got from the group helped me become more confident and I even dated a few guys for a while. There were still some bad times too and I came close to being beaten up on more than one occasion, but I carried a rape alarm with me and when it went off the arseholes disappeared pretty quickly.

Things had got better with my mum and dad too. Mum had gently and persistently worked on Dad and he gradually came round to accepting my choices. I'm not saying he wouldn't have preferred it otherwise but I think he had always loved me; he couldn't understand how I felt. We began to talk with my mum's help and it's a lot better now. He did some research on his own about transgender issues and began to realise it wasn't the end of the world to have a daughter instead of a son. It took a lot for him to come round and I loved him for it.

I was over at their house for Sunday lunch and I was moaning about my job. I had just been passed over for a promotion I knew I deserved, because, I was convinced, of who I was. Dad said if you're that fed up, go and do something you want to, nothing's stopped you in the past. We talked about it and out of nowhere he said he had an old mate from the force who had become a Private Investigator when he left the job. Dad was having a drink with him a couple of days ago and he had told my dad he needed someone to help out in the office and maybe some field work. Dad had promised to keep his eye out for anyone who might be interested.

Mum was horrified and gave Dad a right telling off, but my interest was piqued and Dad slyly set me up to meet Alan, his old mate. Alan was initially not keen, probably only seeing me because of Dad, but I had prepared well for the interview and, I think, impressed him with my determination to get the job. I'm also not too sure there were any other interested candidates, so Alan offered me a trial period, after which we could both decide if it was right for me.

A lot of the work was office bound, not only filing and making excuses to the clients when Alan was too drunk to turn up to meetings, but also a lot of research work on the phone and on the computer. Alan was old school and couldn't get on with technology. Even his mobile was just a phone and he couldn't even cope with that at times. I had managed to develop a lot of computer skills and I soon was able to produce results for him which he couldn't have got anywhere else.

It is frightening how easy it is to find it information online. People are so careless about what they post on social media that it's laughably easy to find out so much unintended information. With a little fast talking and some greasing of palms it's also possible to get confidential information about people. I am constantly surprised at how little care people take about their passwords, for instance, and with some software and expertise you can get a lot of information which people should keep more secure. I also found I had a knack for being a fluent and persuasive liar if necessary.

It wasn't long before I was going out with Alan into the field and I think he enjoyed teaching me the tricks of the trade. I was a quick and eager pupil and I pestered and pestered him into letting me go out on my own to do some field work. I learnt everything from Alan and I will always be grateful to him. We made a good team, the business was growing and building a good reputation until, one gray autumn day, Alan keeled over in Streatham High Road and died from a heart attack. I was devastated, not only because I had lost a friend and teacher, but it had it seemed things were going so well and now I would have to start somewhere else. So, it was a great surprise when our solicitor told me that only a few weeks before his death, Alan had at last made a will and had left me the business.

Let's be clear though, the business meant a scruffy office, some filing cabinets, a geriatric computer and surveillance gear but also, most important of all, his black book full of contact details with solicitors and divorce lawyers. These are the people who matter in giving out work as much as clients who come direct. I hit the phones hard and knocked on a lot of doors to persuade them I could do the same work Alan had done. Some didn't believe me and moved their work elsewhere, but there were enough I managed to persuade to give me a chance. It was hard work but it paid off, and I managed to keep my head above water.

About this time a small lottery win paid for a trip to Thailand for me to get a boob job, my Adam's Apple shaved, vocal cords stretched, as well as my nose fixed and it was money well spent as far as I was concerned.

I'm passable and, I have been told, pretty when I make the effort. I don't get made by many people and that's mostly only by other T-Girls. I live in a renovated apartment in what had been a police station before Government budget cuts forced its closure. I had bought it with some money left to me by an aunt together with a fairly hefty mortgage. I make enough from detective work to cover my outgoings and have a reasonable amount left over. So that's how Philippa Taplow ended up being the owner of TV Detectives - my joke. Most people think it refers to television detectives and I don't enlighten them, but it makes me smile.

Following my late night photography session with the sleazeball husband, I managed to get a few hours sleep before I had to be at the office to present my report to the anxious wife. There were the expected tears and I keep a box of tissues on my desk ready for these occasions.

As I said a lot of my work is referred by solicitors or divorce lawyers, so I don't get many walk ins and none that looked like the woman who rang the bell in the office later in the morning. She was the kind of blonde you see in Hello magazine showing you her beautiful home. She was tall and elegant, blonde hair tumbling down over her shoulders in waves in a style I could only dream about and wearing a pink tailored short skirt and jacket, which I swear was Dior, over a white blouse. She had a pair of Chanel sunglasses perched on top of her head and I caught a flash of red on the soles of her dusky pink heels, which meant Louboutin.

For some reason she was dressed for Knightsbridge and slumming it in Tooting.

Idiotically, I found myself wishing I had put on something more than my usual trousers and blouse and spent a bit longer on my makeup this morning.

'Are you Philippa Taplow?' She asked, looking around as if she might catch something from just being in here.

'Yes, that's me, and you are...?'

She was searching for somewhere to sit so I lifted some magazines off the only chair I had in the office and dusted it with my hand. Good start, Philippa. She reluctantly sat down and crossed her legs. In the short skirt she was wearing, it made even me wake up and pay attention. I couldn't place her perfume but I could tell it wasn't from the Pound Shop remainder bin.

She looked as if she couldn't work out if this was an office or a store cupboard and she carefully placed her Burberry handbag on the floor beside her, opened her jacket and sat back, albeit reluctantly, in the chair.

'I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name. Mrs...?'

It doesn't matter for the moment, Miss Taplow. I believe my husband is cheating on me and I want to know if you can find the proof for me.'

'It's certainly the kind of work we do,' I always say we as it sounds more impressive than the truth. 'Not that I want to turn work away, but why have you come to us? No offence, but I would have thought one of the bigger agencies would be more your style.'

'Does it matter why? I'm here and I'm offering you the work. Do you want to do it or not?'

You pick up a sense in my line of work when someone wasn't being straight with me. I felt somehow she wasn't levelling with me, but if I turned away everyone who felt a bit hinky, I wouldn't have much of a business.

'Ok then, tell me why you think he's having an affair and I'll tell you then if I think I can help.' I began to take notes but the voice activated digital recorder would fill in any gaps I might miss. Clients like to see me taking notes, it makes them think they are getting more value for their money. She went through the usual litany of reasons: unexplained late nights, callers hanging up, showering when he got home, unexplained items on the credit card bill, leaving the room to take calls, and so on.

Sometimes this is all coincidence and someone with low self esteem can turn innocuous events into something completely different. This woman definitely did not have low self esteem for sure. She seemed confident, arrogant almost, and to have everything planned carefully.

'Have you challenged him about this?' I asked. I wanted to know if he was aware of her suspicions. It could make a big difference out in the field. If he was aware that he was suspected he would be a lot more jumpy and unpredictable.

'No, not yet. I want to get some evidence before confronting him. I will tell you that I have the money in our marriage and I want this to be safely wrapped up before I go ahead. If he is cheating, then I will cut him out so fast his feet won't touch the floor.'

She looked around, 'Do you have any coffee?'

'I'm sorry, yes of course. How do you take it?'

I am a coffee freak and the one indulgence I had allowed myself at the office was to buy a good coffee machine. She asked for espresso so I busied myself making a couple of cups which gave me time to look at her again. She was, in fact, a little older than I had at first thought, but beautifully groomed. Hair and makeup were flawless in a way which takes a long time, or help, or both to achieve. She had large diamond studs in her ears and what to my eye looked like a Bulgari watch on her wrist. There was clearly money here and I thought again there was something off about her, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

'Ok,' I said, giving her the espresso, 'before we go any further I should tell you my fees and if you're happy with those, then we can get into details.' I gave her a figure for my hourly rate at the top end of my scale. Charge what the market will bear, Alan used to tell me. She nodded and said, 'That's fine, I believe in payment by results, so I will pay a bonus on successful completion of the investigation. Would £10,000 be adequate?'

I succeeded in stopping my mouth falling open at this point. A client offering me a bonus, unasked for? Something was off, but what? I told her it was perfectly adequate.

'I do need to know your names at this point, I can't go on without those.'

She looked uncomfortable and I wondered what was the problem. She must realise I needed to know.

'My name is Eleanor Northcliffe and my husband is Gareth Evans. I continued to use my own name after we get married. I hope you understand the importance of confidentiality, Miss Taplow.'

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