And Then the Lawless One
I looked for a good angle for an angel for six weeks, but nothing coming. These accounting records were a chip at the big table, and I needed something good to bet on. Once I had an angle, I would need Matron to leave her office for what I’d know would be long enough for me to burgle. Wasted opportunities. In six weeks she did this five times, the fifth taking an act of the Federal Alliance.
Matron bounced out of her office in all her tall blonde glory, as happy as I’ve ever seen a demon, and waited with her hands on her hips, smirking at the door into my little ad hoc accounting firm. And in a man walked Ashley St. Croix. I don’t mean to be elitist, but she looked rather like a rube.
She was in oil stained overalls, a brown cotton shirt, and primitive sandals. One thing stood out as big city life—the neck cuffs. If you’ve never had the pleasure, a neck cuff is an iron collar around the neck with rings. These rings are connected to wrist cuffs, forcing your elbows high into the air, your wrists chained to your neck in the back, your elbows high above your head. Very difficult to refuse to comply in such an outfit. Also, of course, uncomfortable, but Ash looked fine as always. Even amused.
The guy wore a kick ass black business suit. He was FA Praxis for sure, because no other (and honest) member of the constabulary could afford that austere garb. Praxis was issued nice, tax payer bought, stuff. He wasn’t much taller than Ash, not bulging, but his face gave me the impression of a lithe body made of steel. His eyes looked as if they glowed blue. I had to remind myself that I was a lesbian now, and that I was in a serious relationship with a jealous and punitive lesbian whom I wanted to snuggly with minutely and forever. Not that she spanked me hard anymore, but she was learning the cane and I could tell she was the type of lesbian that would whip the crap out of a cheating snuggle bunny. I’d actually be offended if she didn’t castigate my ass in a jealous rage, as I was her love slave and a high-end top-flight love slave at that, as she was my snuggle bunny, and pretty and the smartest most awesome person in the whole wide… sorry, back to what’s interesting to you.
‘Miss St. Croix.’ Matron Gregor was lofty. ‘So kind of you to join us to continue your education. Agent, are those barbaric cuffs really necessary?’
The agent had been cool. I could see him looking at everything in the room without moving his head, categorizing and memorizing, looking for potential clues and threats like DDU spies with long knives lying and laying in wait. After being asked whether the cuffs were necessary to contain the frail female in his custody, the agent’s head sank as he let a long lungful of frustration out.
He turned to my friend Ash with a stern but not unkind face. ‘Normally? No.’ Ash popped her eyebrows and looked around in mock embarrassment.
‘Well, agent… agent?’
‘Free Range Agent Joel Taggart, Ma’am.’
‘Well Agent Joel Taggart, I don’t think we’ll need those brutish cuffs anymore. Please remove them.’ Agent Taggart gave out a silent laugh while handing a folder to Gregor. It was more of a low “huh” with a little rasp to it. He kept his other hand on Ash’s collar.
‘Please sign the transfer orders first, Ma’am.’ She did. ‘Please note, both of you, that we’ve implanted a tracker that will alert us if she crosses a state line. That, also, is normally not necessary.’
Agent Taggart checked the signatures, then folded the folder and put it snuggly in a sneaky pocket on the inside of his coat. Cops and criminals dress alike, as I had the copy of the key to Matron’s office door Ash made in my own secret pocket.
He stood behind Ash and pulled a ring of keys out of his pocket. He stopped a moment, thinking very hard, then walked around Ash to face Ash, his head bouncing a little bit the way people do to build themselves up to parachuting out of a functioning airplane. She looked back like the innocent lamb she wasn’t. He shook his head(I doubt he got what he wanted) then walked around and freed the Kracken.
His hands around her neck collar, I could see he wanted to strangle her.
Ash didn’t make a big thing about rubbing her arms which must have ached. It was more like an idle scratch of a bored person.
‘Thank you, Agent Taggart. I can handle it from here. Miss St. Croix, I’m sure you know the procedure.’
‘Right.’ Ash walked by her and into her certain doom like most people walk to the register of McDonalds Plus to order a hamburger with uber-sized fries and a Coke. Was it “uber” still? It went from “Super”, to nothing, to “Extra”, to “as much as you want” to “more” to “More” to “Super” again, and at the time I was thrown in the clink it was “Uber” but hell it could be some Samarian word now for all I knew. Of course now I know it’s “Full”, but to this day I don’t know what it was then. I should wikipedia it.
Matron was too thrilled to insist Ash called her “ma’am” or “matron”. After all, she was restricted to the thirty-six cuts of the cane, and she already no doubt planned to make the best of each. I was sorry for my friend, but not scared, as I knew she liked the challenge of the cane, being, you know, batshit crazy. There was no cure, so I decided to just go with it.
‘Ma’am,’ the Praxis man said. ‘I understand you have to process her now, but there are a few things I need to discuss with you, so I’ll wait here.’ Matron didn’t like that. It was a tiny flash storm I would have missed if I hadn’t been looking right at her through the corner of my down turned eye. I’m sure Taggart caught it too, but he acted as innocent as Ash wasn’t.
‘Of course, Agent Taggart. This will just take a few minutes.’
‘Free Range Agent Taggart.’ He said it with a smile, mildly, and I suspected a little proxy war of words for position raged before my very eyes. I didn’t get it, not knowing rank, but I suspected. Ash smiled at the addendum, but made sure Free Range Agent Taggart didn’t see it. Hmm…..
The man from Praxis sat down in one of the plastic waiting chairs I’ve ever only seen reform girls sit in awaiting for the cane. It was comical. I only looked at him with my eyes. His hair was just slightly too long to be short, and it was obvious that a hairbrush would be both ineffectual and unneeded. His hair was light and beautifully chaotic yet orderly at the same time. Oh shut up! I’m doing the best that I can, people. That’s how it looked. It looked pretty irresistible, but in a way wholly different than my Snuggle Bunny’s perfect hair. His was perfect because it wasn’t perfect, and again, shut up.
My hair was down behind my adorable ears, by the way.
‘So,’ he said. ’You do the accounting around here.’
Er… this man had the power of life and death. ’No, sir. I just check it. It’s part of my re-habilitation. Other students share the assignment sometimes.’
‘Oh? That’s not normal, is it?’
‘Tests-’ CRACK! ’Tests show I’m optimized to be an accountant.’
‘Yeah, those tests. They’re getting better all the time at predicting a person’s aptitude. Still, they’re always wrong.’
He continued. ’Funny, my test advised I become a gardener. Pulling weeds is the joke. So anything funny about them?’
I kept my head down. I didn’t know what to do. My brain froze. His natural, good natured manner was, of course, a lie they taught him in
‘I see nothing unlawful about the accounts I’m given, sir.’
‘You prefaced that statement. What about the accounts you’re not given?’
I was nervous, and my vocabulary suffered for it. I wasn’t afraid of him, I was afraid of how common he seemed. I took another look and realized that he was handsome. He wasn’t born handsome. He was born quite plain. However, I’m a girl, and I could see that his face had taken a grave serious expression so often that it left a permanent visage that made his face strong, trustworthy, and interesting. Pain was all over him. Especially around the eyes; the skin lined by concern that would have fit a philosopher king whom had suffered many battles against impossible odds to defend his definition of reason and the babies squirming behind it. Handsome interesting. And good natured despite the corruption that comes with great power and superior ability. I’ll even use the word kind, like he’d seen enough pain to hate pain of any kind, on anybody. I wasn’t attracted to him, not like that, not really. Well, I wasn’t sure, but I felt myself being seduced into trusting him. I grew scared.
‘I-’ CRACK! Poor Ash. That bitch caning her was a bitch. ’I don’t have to talk to you, sir.’
‘Call me Joel. How about this.’ His voice was cold perfect except for a touch of southern. And just a spider’s touch of it. Mississimplex? Left around age seven to the Mid West? No… it was impossible to figure. He was too smart and too well trained for me to guess at without clues beyond just talk. And country and southern were too easily confused. He could have been suckled in Russia for all I knew. ’You ask a question, any question, and I’ll answer you as honestly as I can.’ CRACK! That annoyed him. ’Then it’s my turn, and so on.’
‘No, sir. No bet, sir.’
‘OK. I should tell you that I’m going to learn everything before I leave, Danielle Archer, but maybe you don’t know anything, so maybe that doesn’t matter to you.’ CRACK. ‘Danielle Archer.’
The only person on the planet more uncomfortable than me at that moment was Ash. Or maybe not even her. She seemed quite the glutton for punishment, a condition I was learning more and more about from my Evelyn, but now I had a Praxis who somehow knew my name staring me down, making me feel like a naked virgin about to be sacrificed to river gods I didn’t believe in. But that wasn’t true. I didn’t feel bad because I lied. I didn’t feel bad because Free Range Agent Joel Taggart looked at me. I felt bad because I knew Taggart knew I lied. They train those boys good.
Still, I planned to plan the angle for an angel as soon as it presented itself. The Federal Affiliation could go to the Devil.
The silence. He kept looking at me. In silence. Except for…
‘How did you catch her?’ That came right out of me without any warning. I felt like a ventriloquist’s dummy. My stupid, stupid big fat mouth…
‘Perchance. I was in the area to give a deposition about another matter. I’m not with Reform Services. An old buddy of mine is and asked me to look the case over while I sat around, maybe give an opinion which way
‘How did you know about the mechanic?’
‘That’s a second question, and it’s my turn.’
‘No, it isn’t. Sir. Blaming it on instinct is like blaming it on magic. Sir.’
He smiled at me. It was very genuine. The problem with someone you know is lying to you is that not everything they say and do is necessarily a lie. The smile seemed genuine… damn. I couldn’t tell, so I assumed it wasn’t.
‘Instinct is sometimes better than reason for a trained and experienced brain because instinct is the product of the subconscious, and the subconscious is always smarter than the conscious. The subconscious is smarter, but unfocused. With training you can teach it a thought process that can be traced back. Reason, sometimes, is merely retracing the steps of instinct. CRACK It’s not easy to lie to Praxis. The old man, in the transcript, was loquacious and opinionated. He was asked about a girl. If he had a girl, he would have lied on general principle because we’re the government and he fought with distinction in The War of Reduction and The Great Dividing Line. His nature is contrary. If he lied to those agents, those agents would have known it. CRACK So, he didn’t lie. General principle: if I can figure something out, so can someone else. A clever girl would know lies couldn’t help her, no matter how earnest the desire of the liar; and a clever girl could fool a blind old man into thinking she’s a boy, especially if she is good with mechanics, because people in a relaxed state think in stereotypes. CRACK I knew she was clever because she escaped and avoided recapture. Escaped through this South Fence which is so famous, it appears. I saw in the report that
The CRACKING increasingly annoyed him while his words increasingly amazed me.
‘Interesting choice of words. “Blaming.” So you have strong feelings for
CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK
He said it under his breath while he rose from his chair, seeming to press his hands on his knees to augment the maneuver. He didn’t move naturally. He moved a little supernaturally. The man from Praxis appeared at Matron’s door and opened it and entered like he owned the world. I write it as if I saw it. I only say it in memory. Taggart could move.
Matron was livid. She spoke so fast I could hardly record the profanities. I couldn’t spell a few of them, and neither can my computer’s spell checker, so I’ll just skip it. She brandished her cane at the man, but he rotated the seat zapper with his fingers, not even moving his hand or wrist. He tossed the cane aside like he didn’t need it anymore, as he was a Jedi, like his father before him. The cane just flew away.
Taggart backed away from the door, Matron poking him in the chest with an epee finger. It was comical. Gregor, taller than the man from Praxis, looked like an angry gerbil compared to the guy. His grace, his apologetic manner, his submissive hands in the air, and bemused laugh oozed comedy as he backed away from the Fury. Four or five steps back he stopped and made serious, an altogether different smile on his face. Gregor’s finger jammed into his suddenly steadfast chest. She flinched and retreated on reflex, her whole body routed by a stubbed digit.
Free Range Agent Joel Taggart retook some of the field of battle.
‘Calm? Good. That’s enough, you’re verging on vengeance.’ He looked Matron in the eye cold and indifferent as he spoke on high. ‘Get dressed,
Maybe I wasn’t a lesbian? Maybe I did want a man in my life to tell me what to do, protect me from monsters, and, Hell, he could even spank me if that got his motor running. I harbored a fantasy, me in chains, and dish rags around my waist, and dreams of hand feeding him omelets… Jesus, why omelets? My brain is broken.
I heard, ‘you’re wasting the FA’s money with this and I have some…’ yelled at the calm and running dog Taggart before Ash closed Matron’s door. Ash was pissed. I didn’t know she could get pissed.
I pounced on her as she rubbed her bottom.
‘Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod… are you ok? What happened? Are you still crazy?’
‘Bastard should have minded his own business.’ She walked out some of the sting while I walked with her, clutching her shoulders from behind. We made little circles in the office, Tazmanian Devil style.
‘Ah, the answer is “yes”. He stopped Matron from cutting you in two.’ Hmmmm…. ‘Hey… look, certain… hidden desires of mine have recently let out so if you want to disclose any compelling impulse you have to… towards contrition I would be happy to discuss the… er… problematic nature of dyslexic physical satisfaction that some people—prudes—would look down on or give s fancy name to and of a disturbed Frenchy royal author as if this compulsion for dyslexic physical and emotional surcease of sorrow…’
Ash stopped and I bumped into her back. More importantly I bumped into her backside, causing a spasm in my insane friend who may just be a little bent like I turned out to be.
‘I don’t need some thug in shining armor rescuing me. Bastard doing me a favor… I can handle myself!’ she screamed at Matron’s door, or would have if I didn’t gag her with my hand. She clamped her teeth on my hand and turned and grabbed me, I think reflexively, and we had a little vertical arm wrestling match while we stared each other down. I could feel her heavy nose breaths on my fingers. The bit, and the pain was hard to ignore. I was terrified and out matched; but right, and being right helps.
She remembered me, over time, and calmed down. She was furious, but she remembered that she wasn’t furious at me. I relaxed my grip. She continued to cool down. I felt her mouth twist under my palms. I removed my hand and there was that smile I’d missed. I breathed out a sigh of “I’m not going to die a violent death” and bent over, my palms on my shaking knees. It was a position I’d taken so many times for Coach’s paddle that it had become a security blanket.
Cool calm and collect[sic], I returned vertical.
‘So, you fought the law and tied, which is like tying a train.’ That made her laugh. ‘I kept your stuff.’
‘I figured, but I wanted to appear optimistic.’
We smiled at each other and made a date to catch up and giggle and girltalk and all that noise. Then Alexia hauled her off to get processed, which is the “welcome back” sans cane. Medical examination, uniform, code of conduct book, and shitloads of paperwork. Forgive my Gallic, but no other word comes close. If you let your kids read my seamy diary, you’re an unfit parent. Get over yourself, prude, I’m a kinky lesbian now, so Victorian propriety is out except for table manners which I enjoy as a game with winners and loser.
I took my seat.
A few minutes later the door opened and two members of the Establishment exited. Gregor locked the door.
‘Of course we’ll cooperate fully with Praxis, but the length of
Taggart bent his head and made a “stk” noise. He appeared good natured about it, but he didn’t pretend to lack influence. ‘Discretion is not caprice. Discretion is guided by reason and logic in accords with the facts, and is therefore accountable. Discretion is not will. Keeping her here another four years on top of her current sentence is a waste of this school’s resources, the people’s money, her time, and the
‘She wanted freedom!’ Taggart turned away from Matron with his hands up. ‘She didn’t escape because she wanted drugs or to hurt somebody or even herself.’ He put his hands in his pants’ pockets and studied an aerial photograph of Southdown hanging on the wall. ‘Christ’s sake, first thing she did was get a job.’
Matron dismissed it with a wave of her hand. ‘Temporarily, to cover herself. Eventually she would have descended into savagery like all… untrained Reformers.’ Taggart turned and looked at her hard. He didn’t like something about that, and he didn’t care if Matron knew it.
‘That’s not empirically demonstrated. And that’s not my opinion.’
Matron never looked so condescending. ‘It’s my opinion, and that’s all that matters. Induction is imperfect in this case. I know the girl’s nature. Now I’ll show you the grounds.’
I watched the two leave two seconds longer than I should have. Taggart watched me watch them, and let me know it. He was good. Gregor never caught me eyeing her. He was on to me, but it was too late for him. I had my angle and my angel.
I used the keys Ash copied from my Snuggle Bunny’s master set, unlocked and open, closed Gregor’s door behind me, and snooped.
There the third accounts were, in plain view in Gregor’s bottom desk drawer under thirty pounds of paperwork. Six simple sheets of paper. I folded them nice and snug and stuck them in a hidden pocket I sewed into my uniform like the cops. Then I pulled out The Note with the aid of a handkerchief I normally only used to clean my face after a much deserved thrashing from a goonlet who didn’t love me. I had never touched The Note with bare fingertips. On The Note, in letters cut out from three different fashion magazines(I threw them away after) and pasted on common paper, the following:
We have the accounts. We will give them back, but we want something in return. You must deal; our price will be cheap. Acknowledge the theft by announcing an extra portion of ice cream for dinner. Then watch the bulletin board for two weeks.
Yes, I even cut out and pasted the punctuation marks. Don’t judge me.
I placed The Note where the accounts used to be, and beat it out of the office just as Snuggle Bunny entered my ad hoc accounting office. There absolutely, positively, must be a God; and He must absolutely, positively, love screwing with me. I’m like a Sit Com character to Him.
‘Hey, I heard that your crazy friend just are you out of your fucking mind?’ Well there is no answer to that, is there? Either I am crazy, and thus not qualified to make judgments; or I’m not crazy, but you can’t trust my opinion as my sanity is in question.
‘Er… I was just snooping.’
Somehow, someway, my Snuggle Bunny looked a lot like this girl I used to know by the name Evil-Lyn. She dragged me out of the sill, locked the door from the inside, and shut it. Her attention elsewhere, I hid the key in my pocket.
She looked me down. Not up and down, mind you: down. ‘Did Matron want you in there?’
‘Well, no…’ I should have lied, but I made a common error and told the truth before it occurred to me to weigh the issue. Evelyn’s eyes are very, very blue.
Her smile was just constrained, playing the part. ‘Ohhhhh… I’ve neglected that butt of yours too long, but I’m going to correct that this very minute.’ I silently agreed. It had been two days since she made me scream for the bliss to stop—too much bliss! She grabbed my neck and forced me to my orgasmic doom. ‘You’re getting a spanking!’
She was an excellent actress. I had to confess to myself that part of me wanted a genuine promise of a tear gushing hind quarters whacking to add spice to the sex ritual, but only a small minority that only had political power in universities, like the Vegetarian Party. She marched me down the hallway. I looked crestfallen and resolved to have my adorable ears filled with the WHACKWHACKWHACK of a hairbrush against my ostentatious bottom. Some of the people we passed were sympathetic, some ignored us, and some gloated.
We passed an open dorm room and I got a glimpse of Gail’s big shapely bottom up in the air catching Alexia’s strap. Alexia had dropped off Ash and decided to spend the paperwork time giving Gail incentive to stand more. Alexia was cool, and one of us, but she had it in for Senator Gail for sure. I wondered if it was for the same reason Snuggle Bunny had it in for me… nah. Gail was just unlucky enough to have the most smackable sitter in town, and I was just very lucky.
Snuggle Bunny shut and locked the door, as this was an esoteric affair unfit for the common stock. I waited in the middle of the room, bouncing a little on my knees for a about three seconds, which was how long it took Snuggle Bunny to grab her hairbrush. I stopped bouncing, as I was a dead sloth.
Then time jumped forward a bit, which is very rude, and my brain awoke to two sensations: 1. Carpet visualized a foot beneath my face. 2. Searing pain!
WHACKWHACKWHACKWHACKWHACKWHACK- you get the idea. I was too addled to count the paddlewhackings or initiate intelligent debate on the subject. I just screamed out some freshly learned profanities and kicked and twisted until I reached the critical bottom throbbing limit and simply collapsed over Evil Snuggle Bunny’s knee so my super-smart subconscious could put all my energy into mewling.
That didn’t stop her, of course. Nope. WHACKWHACKWHACK…
My butt was just fire by the time the WHACKS stopped, not that I really noticed. The present pain was more than sufficient to feel punished; additional pain would have suffered from the principle of diminished utility of return. She had even spanked the mad out of me. Evelyn outdid herself.
She picked me up and sat my thighs down on her lap so that my hot ass hung over the side. She forced my limp neck over her shoulder, rubbed my back, and shushed me. I don’t know for how long.
I felt pretty good.
Eventually something needed to be said, but Snuggle Bunny was a coward so I initiated without profanity. ‘You spanked me hard.’
‘Yes, I did. You know why, or do I need to spell it out?’
‘Yes to both.’
She rubbed my adorable ears. That just wasn’t fair.
‘Danny, you get caught breaking into Gregor’s office—forget the caning. A caning is nothing. What is that, a couple days hard sitting? She could keep you here four more years. Years! Damn it, Danny Bear, you know what prisons used to be like? Stupid girls like you thrown in with savages, gray bars, mind numbing routine, no education, no nothing—everything inhuman. Soul crushing! This place sucks, I admit. I want to live, Danny, and I insist you live with me. There is a world of Chinese food and malls and movie theaters and near absolute freedom just a little bit of time away for both of us. But you have to learn responsibility. Can’t you understand that? You have to govern yourself to get the rest of us to tolerate your freedom. That’s why you’re here, little girl. To teach you the difference between a girl and a woman, and I’m not going to spend four years on the outside waiting for you to respect other peoples’ freedom. How could it knowing you suffered in here? I will spank you until you understand it, and I will continue to spank you until you act it. I can’t just hope… I’m not going to treat us as a bet. I’ll spank you everyday if it gets our asses out of here on schedule.’
I slumped on her shoulder. She smelled good. ‘That wont be necessary. I get it. I wont snoop anymore. And I’m not mad.’ I somehow brought myself up from my body’s rightful and natural position on Evelyn’s shoulder to look her in her evil little eyes. ‘I’m not mad, I know why you spanked me, and I know you will do it again, and I wont be mad then, but you have to tell the truth. You enjoyed smacking my bottom until I yelled out and begged, didn’t you? Oh, don’t look all sheep on me!’
‘Of course I enjoyed it!’ My Snuggle Bunny confessed like she was stating she liked ice cream-as I suspected- but still I was a little annoyed. ‘You’re impossible! Spanking you is the only way to get you to admit that 2 plus 2 equals 4 when you yourself would scream bloody murder if someone told you it was 5. You’re just contrary! God damn! Any rational human would enjoy spanking you just five minutes after introduction. Me? I already know how impossible you are, and I already know how much fun it is spanking that impossibility out of you. And, yes, watching your buns bounce is sexy—sue me. What, you sore?’
‘I deny nothing.’ I snuggled my Snuggle Bunny, which was efficacious because she was a snuggle bunny par excellent. I didn’t feel like moaning over the paradox that is my nature, so I didn’t.
‘Also, smacking you hard is good stress relief.’ I agreed silently in my head. My personality and full ass were tailor made for stress reduction. Damn it. I was ill fated for sure. I readjusted myself back over her shoulder and felt as carefree as a tree and pondered Snuggle Bunny’s woes.
‘Stress? Ha! What, woman problems? Just spank them into submission. That’s what ever girl really wants you know; haven’t you ever watched a John Wayne movie?’ I wanted to bite her neck off. I tried, with my teeth, but it wasn’t working. Her skin was resilient.
‘I can’t spank this one. Gregor is going to change Southdown’s essay question for the Annual FA Rand/Friedman/Stout Trust Competition.’ It is weird to hear a half pouting tone from someone that just spanked every ounce of sass and pride out of you. ‘They need to think up a new name.’
‘Just call it the RFT…’ I mumbled this, trying to take it in while chewing on her blouse. ‘But you… wait.‘ I popped off her shoulder to look her in the eye. ‘You already submitted your essay to Gregor. Capitalism the Phenomenon. The essay I toiled over, editing out all the passive tense? It was excellent! I mean it rocks except for all the passive tense, but I took the passive tense out!’
‘Yeah. She didn’t like it. Sort of pissed her off, actually. I didn’t, I thought she’d like it. I really did.’ That wasn’t disappointment on her face—that was hurt. ‘I tried to defend it but she wouldn’t let me speak. Then I asked how she would go about changing it, and she said she’d start by “throwing it in the bin”, but that it didn’t matter because she was changing the essay question. Everybody needs to rewrite. She’s screwing everybody over. Something about comparative analysis with the FA and DDU and freedom of speech or… multi inculcation or something Hell what does it matter.’ She didn’t say that last bit as a question. ‘This is going to set me back a bit. Years, actually. Maybe worse. She acts like she never plans to leave Southdown like I thought, so that leaves me her recommendation to run another school and I don’t think I’m going to get it. Don’t know what I did.’
She wasn’t whining. Whining wasn’t in her nature. She shook her head a little, trying to dislodge whatever synapse traffic jam kept her from a conclusion. She automatically blamed herself. That was her nature, but fortunately nature provided her with a me.
I hugged her, and plotted my two angles for two angels against the middle.