Angel 52 (compromise)
‘There’s nothing as cruel as folk,’ muttered Angel, kissing the tops of the twin’s heads and hugging them tight to her breasts. They didn’t let up screaming, but she felt a shifting tone, the clinging starburst of their waning outburst. In the same way, she clung on to her anger, felt the way it buoyed her and set her apart.
She’d seen the way the older cop’s raptor gaze had lingered over her breasts and had ogled her, the same way Jaz used to do, sizing her up, before raping her. Remembered the ways she’d tried to get away, a thousand hopes burnt out every time like birthday candles.
The younger, curly-haired cop stood in the doorway. ‘Alright?’ he asked. His expression hard to read as he met Angel’s gaze.
Angel sensed his wry amusement. ‘Whit?’ she offered a question in reply. He’d ears like Spock, but was quite handsome she thought. ‘Am I some kind of freak show, you find funny?’
He grinned, mirthlessly and took a step back, an almost imperceptible nod, as if confirming his findings and closing the door over, but not shutting it.
Words buzzed in her head, how worthless she was, how she knew they would win.
She could hear them plotting, the way Church’s voice brightened as she mentioned Angel’s name, how she deferred to her male colleagues. The ways in which the older cop argued they would and could squeeze her, rival theories of what to do in bantering tones of cock hens rushing through the same maze. Force feeding her the right lies, shifting the blame and her into acquiescence, of being a good girl. They decided on a united front of confronting her with her silliness and ignoring her remarks about the governor.
Angel swallowed hard and tried to control her expression as they came through the door, she didn’t know how to be brave or clever and was tired trying.
Church led the way, and stood at the edge of the table, the two cops behind her. She cleared her throat and uhmed and ahed before suggesting, ‘We’ve all got off on the wrong foot…and it would be better if we just started again’.
The swivel chair Angel was in helped her sooth the twins, using her toes, she turned quarter circles one way and the other. She made cooing sounds, her bright blue eyes gleaming and deferentially watching them beneath her long eyelashes. As she stood up the twin’s shawl fluttered and swooped, like a ghostly presence, and settled on the floor. Adam was first to react to the cold air, frowning and mewing. Lisa took up the cry.
The top two buttons of Angel’s blouse were already undone. Writhing babies on her lap, unbuttoning the rest, she hooked her bra up, holding it with her chin and exposing her breasts. Sitting like a mermaid on a rock, she focused her gaze on the older cop. ‘I’m just going to feed my babies. Go on have a good look. Then you can go and have a good wank…I know your type.’
‘Cover yerself up Angel! For God’s sake.’ Church, usually so proper in her speech, slipped into the vernacular.
There was a dangerous exhilaration in talking. ‘I head you saying I sometimes wasnae all there, anyway.’ Angel lifted Lisa on one breast. ‘A bit dim, um I?’ She lifted Adam and squeezed her breast into his mouth. ‘I’m breast feeding, you said I was to go ahead. No special cases. No concessions. I thought this wis a women’s prison, but it isnae, it’s a place for perverts, a viewing gallery for the depraved. I heard you saying we could threaten her with taking her wains aff her. Aye, very fucking Christian that is…You’re a fucking hypocrite of the worst kind…
She would have said more, but Church followed the other cops out of the door and it shut with a satisfying click. When Angel looked over at the Perspex, nobody was taking the opportunity to leer in at her and she enjoyed her caged freedom.
‘My wee pet lambs,’ she kissed the fussy hair on her twins and laughed. A crack had appeared in Church’s composure. The truth was out. ‘When every door is locked,’ she crooned, ‘you need to use the windae’.
The twins were sleeping and Angel was almost sleeping herself. She’d covered her breasts and primly buttoned her blouse to the neck. The knock on the door startled her. Church popped her head in.
‘You decent?’ the guard asked. She glanced around the room as if a nude man was going to jump out from under the table.
‘As decent as I’ll ever be,’ Angel guffawed.
‘The two CID have had to leave,’ Church smacked her lips together in what might have been a conspiratorial smile. Creases in the corner of her mouth where she’d bitten back on her outbursts. ‘An extremely urgent case.’
‘That’s a shame.’ Angel tapped the notebook on the desk. ‘They’ve forgot their notebook. They must have been in a hell of a hurry.’
‘I suppose they were.’ Church stood on tiptoes and looked over at the twins. ‘Sleeping soundly, eh?’
‘Aye,’ she nodded. ‘Eat, shit, sleep, but no necessarily in that order.’
‘And puke,’ offered Church.
‘Aye, that tae.’ A frown appeared on Angel’s forehead. ‘Whit were they here to see me about, anyway?’
‘They didn’t tell me all the details, but I picked up it was something about your rape.’
‘Rape?’ Angel played with the word, testing it on her tongue. ‘They never said I was raped. They said I was a slut. Deserved everything that was coming to be. Heartless, no good cow. Not in so many words. But you know whit I mean?’
Church let her talk herself out, fingering her set of keys like a good luck charm. ‘Well, time we were getting back anyway.’
Angel stood up slowly, trying not to wake the twin. ‘I’ll need to get the buggy.’
‘I’ll get it,’ Church didn’t wait for a reply, turning, she darted into the corridor.
The prison officer held the door open with her foot as she wheeled the buggy in. ‘Better wrap them up warm,’ she advised. ‘It’s getting a bit bitter out there.’