Subject: New Story:"Sarita's Legal Advisor"-I(Oilbuckle)-m/f, nc
From: oilbuckle@aol.com (Oilbuckle)
Date: 3 Sep 1998 18:00:54 -0700

Sarita's Legal Advisor

by Gordon X. Oilbuckle

(This story deals with the spanking of a pre-teen girl. If you're under 18 or are uncomfortable with the subject matter, don't read it.)

The ten-year-old black girl ignored the taunts and racial epithets of the other children as she proudly strode to her desk in the back of the classroom. One lanky boy with a perpetual sneer on his face, whose apparent age seemed to imply he had been held back at least twice, stuck out his foot to trip her.

"It's okay, Mary!" said eleven-year-old Sarita Villamonte as the girl righted herself, and took her seat next to her. "The kids'll just forget this as soon as the Governor stops shooting off his..."

A scream came from the little girl in the desk next to the lanky boy. "AAAAH! A RAT!" She leaped up and upset her inkwell all over her dress.

And, from the open area next to the nonexistent classroom wall, came an exasperated "CUT!"

Ben Elkins, director of the TV docudrama, "Separate But Equal," glared down at the sneering boy. "Johnny, I've TOLD you not to bring that thing to taping!"

John Marks shifted in his chair, and smirked with the arrogance of a 13-year-old actor who already had two successful series to his credit. "Aw, it's just a RUBBER rat!" To demonstrate, he picked it up and whirled it around by the tail. His neighbor cringed again.

Sarita leaned forward in her chair and shot daggers at Johnny. "He pulls that on every one-day extra on this show!" she seethed. Mary-actually LaVonda Madison-nodded, remembering her own first encounter with John's rubber rat on her first day on the set. She'd jumped up and screamed, disrupting the whole production but, to much to her embarrassment, providing Elkins with some extra footage he'd decided to keep in the finished film.

John Marks had done his share of screaming, too, after Sarita had given him a very satisfying black eye. So had John's parents, threatening to sue the studio, the director, and Sarita's parents (she wished them good luck in finding her father, who had disappeared six years before), before a doctor had determined that John had no serious injuries.

Timothy Berkeley, the handsome young lawyer who was advising the production and had made some wonderfully valid points with the Marks family, came over and looked at John with an irritated look. "Do you have to pull that trick on everyone?" He calmed the screaming extra with a few soothing comments. "Why don't you go and wash your hands? Wardrobe can get you a new dress..."

"There's no running water," protested Ben Elkins. "I've tried to get someone to look at it all week!"

"Maybe Carlos can help!" put in Sarita, glancing over at her chaperone. "He's a plumber, after all!"

Elkins brightened and walked over to Carlos Gomez, whose responsibility it had become to take charge of the young actress during her film schedule while her mother was at work. Carlos shot Sarita an irritated look and protested that he didn't have his tools with him.

"Then go home tonight and bring 'em back tomorrow!" said Elkins. "We'll pay you union scale!" Carlos brightened at that, and Elkins heaved a sigh of relief. "If you knew how impossible it was to get a plumber around here..."

As Carlos left to fetch his car, Sarita glared at the smirking John Marks. "If Carlos weren't here, I'd break that jerk's nose!"

Tim Berkeley gave her a sympathetic glance. "I know just how you feel! But violence is never the answer!"

Sarita snorted. "Tell that to Carlos. After what I did to John last week, he settled with me back at the hotel. I couldn't sit for the rest of the day!"

Tim looked up in genuine shock. "You mean... he beat you?"

Sarita shrugged. "You could say that, yeah. He believes in old-fashioned discipline, just like my Mama."

"But... but he's not even your father...?"

"Doesn't make a difference. He's my legal guardian for studio purposes; they settled all that." Sarita instinctively rubbed her bottom as the fresh memory flooded back.

Tim stared at her indignantly. "I can't believe... there are laws on this sort of thing now, you know!"

Sarita looked up in sudden delight. "You mean, it might not be legal for him to hit me?"

"I don't think so! It's not my field, of course, but you can be sure I'll research it by tomorrow! I think it's disgraceful that children are still physically punished in this day and age!"

Sarita shot Tim a grin as she headed off with Carlos. If Tim was right... and he'd been near the top of his class at Harvard Law School... she'd soon have a big surprise for him. Not to mention her mother and brother.


Sarita didn't realize at first that she wasn't still dreaming of John Marks and his nasty rubber rat. She seemed to have rats on the brain all week. But no, her mother and 16-year-old brother Pablo were clumping around the kitchen, and when she listened closely, she was sure she heard the scurrying footsteps of a rodent. Her eyes brightened in the dim light. Fate seemed to be playing into her hands! She knew exactly how to get back at John... and, if Tim was right, without having to worry about Carlos taking her over his knee afterwards.

She got up and crept through the hall, the woolen feet of the one-piece red sleeper she liked to wear at night (since she'd acquired it from the wardrobe of her last film) making no noise on the wooden floor. Sarita opened the kitchen door and slipped in, closing it again quickly so the rat wouldn't escape.

"Sarita? What are you doing up?" asked Mama.

"Just thought I'd help you catch the rat!" replied Sarita boldly. She stretched up for the plastic tub of potato chips they'd bought last week, opened it, and dumped most of the chips on the counter. Then she crouched down and held the tub sideways near the rat. "Chase it this way!" she told Pablo. Within a minute, attracted by the few chips still inside, the rat had bolted inside the big tub, and Sarita popped the lid on.

She stood up and bowed, disappointed that Mama and Pablo didn't seem inclined to applaud. But they both beamed at her. "Good work, Sarita!" said Mama. "Now, Pablo, if you'll get your baseball bat, we can kill this rat here and now!"

Sarita looked up in shock. That would destroy all her plans! "No, Mama!" she wailed, forcing tears into her eyes as she'd done in her last movie. "Can't I just let it go somewhere?"

Mama looked angry. "NO, Sarita! He'll just find his way back here! Pablo, get your bat!"

Pablo went out, and Sarita knew it was time to up the stakes. "It's not *fair!" she wailed, her voice rising. "All he wanted to do was feed himself, just like US!" She darted toward the tub and began to open it. "I won't LET you kill him! I'LL LET HIM GO!!!"

Lights began to go on in the nearby houses, and suddenly Sarita began to think she'd overplayed her hand. Pablo came rushing in with his bat. "SARITA!" he snapped. "We've gotten enough calls from the neighbors already about your tantrums! If we get any more we'll have to MOVE!"

"SO MOVE!" screamed Sarita. "Now that I'M making the money, we need a better place ANYWAY!"

"That is ENOUGH!" said Mama firmly. "Pablo, can you attend to her...?"

Before Sarita could dart away, Pablo had her by the arm and was leading her toward the kitchen chair. She tried to squirm away, but he had her firmly across his lap and was beginning to unbutton the trap door in the seat of her sleeper. "Pablo, NO!" she begged. "I ONLY wanted..."

Pablo unbuttoned the second button and let the trap door fall, and Sarita stiffened in horror as she realized he still had the baseball bat in his hand. He looked at it for a moment, then dropped it with a sigh of resignation and brought the palm of his right hand down on Sarita's exposed bottom.

As he continued to deliver a series of sharp spanks, Sarita figured it was time to stop screaming and turn on the tears for all she was worth. She forced herself to ignore the fire in her derriere and wail, "It's all right, Pablo! Spank me all you want! But please don't kill the poor rat!"

It seemed to work; Pablo's slaps became less frequent and softer. Mama looked over in genuine sympathy. "But, Sarita! We can't let the rat find his way back here..."

An opening! "Hollywood's over a hundred miles from here, Mama! And I'm going back with Carlos in only a few hours! We can easily let the rat go so far away he'll never find his way back!"

Mama pursed her lips, and Sarita knew she had her. Pablo had loosened his grip enough to allow her to wriggle free, and Sarita forced a conciliatory look into her eyes as she gave her brother a stare of reproach, at the same time giving her backside a dignified rub to remind Mama how much she'd already suffered tonight. "You promise you'll let him go? Far away? You WON'T forget?"

Sarita squealed in delight. "Oh, thank you! You're the BEST Mama in the world!" She gave her a hug, then raced for the kitchen thermometer. Crouching over the tub and making sure the lid was tightly secured, she used the thermometer's tip to punch six air holes in the lid. Only then did she permit herself to stand up and, as if in afterthought, button her flap back over her reddened bottom.

As Sarita triumphantly returned to her room with her prize under her arm, she rubbed her backflap again. Damn! She'd have to sleep on her stomach now! Still, as soon as she learned the law from Tim, this would be the last time she'd have to suffer such an indignity.

Sarita rubbed her eyes as she stood in Carlos' driveway, waiting for her chaperone to back his car out of the garage. Juan Gomez, Carlos' ten-year-old son, came out in his pajamas and bathrobe. "Oooh, you have that rat with you! Can I see?"

Sarita glared at him, but lifted a tiny bit of the lid so Juan could see the rat frantically running around inside. "I'm letting him go!"

Juan gave her a wide grin. "I heard! And I saw you getting licked, too! I never saw why you wanted to wear those pajamas, anyway. They just make it convenient for Pablo to get at your bum!"

Sarita stuck out her tongue at him, not dignifying his impertinent comment with an answer. She knew that nothing on Earth could prevent her mother and brother from getting at her bare essentials when they wanted to. Once she'd had the brainstorm of confessing to breaking the kitchen window of her grandmother in Washington state just before heading out in her snowsuit. Mama had promptly removed her snowsuit and lowered her overalls with great difficulty before taking down her panties and applying her hand to her backside. At least the sleeper made sure that, even if Juan or any of the other neighbors happened to look in the window, her really private parts would remain covered throughout.

When Carlos drove out, Sarita hastily got into his car, hoping Juan wouldn't mention the rat. He didn't, and Sarita clutched the tub in her lap as they drove away. Today would be a day to remember...

"Can't we stop at the rest area, Carlos?" whined Sarita as Carlos approached the last one before the Hollywood exit. "I really have to go!" She did, too.

"Afraid not. We're running late as it is," replied Carlos, accelerating his car.

Sarita squirmed in the passenger seat. "But I'm not sure I can hold out till then!" She cast him a venomous look as they drove by the rest area. "I might wet your car seat. And you know, I've heard that after that happens, it costs several thousand dollars to replace the upholstery. Do you want to find that out?"

Carlos glared at her. "That could be. And I've heard that a spanking on a wet bottom hurts a lot more than it does on a dry one. Do you want to find that out?"

Sarita stuck out her tongue at him, but hastily withdrew it. "Can't you go a bit faster?" she whimpered. Although the car was already going over 80, he inched it up a bit more.

Sarita seized her chance right after bolting down her lunch. Returning to the set before any of the others got there, she opened up John Marks' backpack. The rubber rat was hidden under some magazines Sarita doubted John was old enough to legally buy, but she extracted it. Then, opening up the tub she'd brought from the car, she dumped the squirming rat inside, along with several crumbs from the chips and a few brown pellets whose origin Sarita guessed at once. Serves him right, she thought as she dropped the rubber rat into the tub and headed for the nearest dumpster.

When the moment came, it took even Sarita by surprise. Polly Ives, the jumpiest of the extras brought in for that one day to fill the seats of those without speaking or acting roles, had leaped up onto her chair and was screaming at the top of her lungs. "A RAAATT!"

Ben Elkins came over with an irritated sigh, "Not *again," Johnny!"

John Marks sneered and picked up the rat by its tail. "What a moron! Can't you tell a rub..."

That was when the rat whirled around and sank its teeth into John's finger. His scream made Polly's sound like a whisper, and Sarita roared with laughter as he shook his hand in shock and terror. So did LaVonda and several of the other regulars, and Sarita noticed even Tim trying to suppress a smile.

The rat had fallen to the floor and was racing around in panic, and Sarita slipped over to the classroom door and opened it. The rat raced out and was lost in the field beyond. Hey, she'd promised she'd let him go, hadn't she?

John Marks' parents and Tim were trying to calm the screaming boy, while the director called for a doctor on his celluar phone. "Has anyone seen that rat? Catch that rat!" he said. Everyone looked around, Sarita taking care to look in the opposite direction, but in vain.

Uh-oh! Carlos had come out of the bathroom where he'd been working, and was talking to Ben Elkins, who'd just got off the phone. She strained her voice to hear, and caught Carlos' rising voice. "I see. Juan was telling me something about Sarita catching a rat last night. Sa-REE-ta!" He was yelling now.

Sarita looked around frantically for Tim. He couldn't be gone.. No, there he was, walking toward the pay phones! She caught up to him just as Carlos began to head in her direction.

"Tim, I need your help! I'm afraid Carlos is going to beat me again!"

Tim's eyes narrowed. "Well, we'll just have to lay down the law to him, won't we!" He took her in his arms like Sir Galahad, and looked firmly at the approaching plumber. "Just what is it you intend to do, Mr..."

"Gomez," whispered Sarita.

"Mr. Gomez? You realize, I hope, that the state of California no longer permits abuse of children?"

Carlos spluttered. "Abuse? Do you realize what that little brat just did to the boy? She hid a rat where it'd bite him!"

"After he'd been terrorizing the girls with a rat all week!" protested Sarita.

"A RUBBER rat, I'm told!" roared Carlos. "There's a big difference! Sarita, don't you realize that rat could've been rabid?"

"It sure ran out rapidly!" giggled Sarita.

"RaBid! It could have RABIES! And, since they didn't catch it..." Carlos looked accusingly at Sarita once more, "...they'll have to give John rabies shots! And those are NOT pleasant!"

"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!" laughed Sarita.

Carlos gripped Sarita's shoulder firmly, and she was very glad she had her gallant protector. "That was EXTREMELY irresponsible and very dangerous! WHAT if the rat had bitten Polly!? Or you, or any one of the others!"

"But he didn't!" Sarita pointed out. She looked up at the determined Tim, and decided to go for broke. "It's no skin off my nose if he has trouble sitting for awhile!"

"He won't!" snapped Carlos. "Rabies shots are given in the stomach. I've run into my share of rats in the sewers. But I know who is going to have trouble sitting!" He began to pull Sarita away.

"Mr. Gomez!" snapped Tim. "I agree that what Sarita did was irresponsible, and perhaps she deserves to be punished... although, considering John Marks' antics since he came on the show, I can understand her rationale. But exactly how did you intend to punish her?"

"The only way she understands!" snapped back Carlos. "A good, hard spanking!"

Timothy Berkeley sighed. "I suppose that's still the way a lot of people in your subculture think." Carlos' nostrils widened at the implied insult. "But there happen to be laws on such things now. There's a big difference between discipline and abuse. You realize, I suppose, that Sweden and many Scandinavian countries it's completely illegal for an adult to strike a child for any reason?"

Carlos tightened his hand on Sarita's shoulder. "Yeah, I seem to recall that. But I didn't think we were in Sweden. Do you mean to say I can't hit her at all?"

Tim sighed. "Well, they haven't gone that far. Yet." He made it sound as if it were only a matter of time before it came to pass, as he evidently hoped. So did Sarita. "But there are strict limitations to any sort of physical discipline."

"What do you mean?" Carlos replied.

"A parent or guardian... and I suppose you qualify in the latter category, from what Sarita tells me... may strike a child with the open hand, nothing else..."

"I don't need anything else!" muttered Carlos.

"On the clothed buttocks..."

"Where else would I hit her? Mind you, sometimes I'm tempted to slap her sassy face, but I wouldn't do it."

"No more than three times!"

"THREE times?" protested Carlos in disbelief. "I'm hardly getting warmed up by then!"

"See!" gloated Sarita. "So you'll have to try grounding me... although that'd be a bit hard, with the money I'm bringing in for this film. Or maybe a time-out?"

"Exactly!" beamed Tim. "I can't imagine corporal punishment being appropriate in any case for a child of Sarita's age. Possibly a three-year-old who wanders into the street. But Sarita's, what?, ten years old..."

"Eleven!" protested Sarita. "Almost twelve!"

Carlos gripped Sarita's shoulder as he pondered the situation. Finally he said, "But does the law have any age limitations?"

"Well... no," said Tim. "But surely for a girl her age..."

"A girl who pulls a stunt like that needs whatever I'm allowed to give her!" snapped Carlos. "Three times, eh?" He led Sarita across the deserted studio field toward a boulder.

"I suppose you're right," conceded Tim, as Sarita struggled in sudden shock. "But you're not allowed to hit too hard!"

"Hard enough," muttered Carlos, sitting down on the boulder. He pulled Sarita over his lap and lifted the back of her dress.

"HEY!" screamed Sarita. "He said CLOTHED buttocks! You can't take my clothes off!"

"Last I looked, underpants were clothing!" Carlos observed. He raised his right hand, but Tim grabbed it, and the two men struggled.

"It's not proper for you to expose a child like that! Especially a girl Sarita's age!" Sarita emphatically agreed, especially since her flight had given her a major wedgie on one side. She wasn't thrilled at Tim seeing not only her lingerie but most of her right cheek... not to mention that there wouldn't be much protection when the spanking actually began. Even three swats from Carlos' heavy hand would hurt.

"She's got to feel it! Where does the law say underpants aren't clothing!"

Tim pondered. Finally he said, "I think there's someone here today who can help. Judge Harold Zaboly's going to be shooting 'People vs. People' today. He's an actual California judge, and he can decide." He shot Carlos a nasty look. "But I still think you're abusing the child!"

Carlos glared back. "I'd like to see you spending weeks looking after this brat without wanting to swat her!"

Judge Zaboly looked down at the three people who'd entered the improvised chambers he'd used for the show. "What is it, Tim? I go on in two hours, you know!"

Timothy Berkeley explained the situation, and the judge stroked his chin. "Yes, I remember the law! A lot of silliness over nothing, if you ask me. This is an interesting case. Maybe you should actually take it on my show!"

"No!" put in Sarita hastily. Even if she won her point, the prospect of getting spanked, even with her dress down, in front of millions of TV watchers was too horrifying to contemplate. Tim also shook his head vehemently, as, though not without some hesitation, did Carlos.

"Very well then!" said the judge. "Mr. Gomez, exactly what did the child do?" His eyes narrowed as Carlos explained the situation, spending more time to the rat's running around among several adults and forty children than Sarita felt it deserved.

"Under the circumstances," he went on, "I believe underpants very definitely qualify as clothing. You may carry on, Mr. Gomez!"

"I protest!" said Tim as Carlos pulled Sarita over his knee. "This is quite improper!"

"You heard the judge!" replied Carlos as he lifted Sarita's skirt. Sarita braced herself, grateful that she'd at least straightened out her wedgie, just in case.

"You're not allowed to hit too hard, you know!" protested Tim as Carlos brought his hand down firmly on the seat of Sarita's cotton underpants.

"And what, exactly, is 'too hard?'" asked Carlos.

"That was too hard!" wailed Sarita.

"Not hard enough to cause any skin discoloration, I believe!" said Tim firmly.

"Well, let's let the judge decide!" said Carlos. He reached for the waistband of Sarita's panties and pulled them down.

"NOOO!" screamed Sarita. "He SAID you had to leave my lingerie on!"

"When I hit you!" pointed out Carlos. "But how is he to tell how discolored your skin is if he can't see it?"

The judge nodded. Sarita tried to hide her face. She almost wished she'd let Carlos spank her on her lingerie before. Tim was hardly apt to think of her as a mature young lady, lying there with her skirt up and her bottom exposed for him to see.

"I don't think that was too hard. Doesn't look like any permanent discoloration." said the judge. "Go ahead, Mr. Gomez." Carlos pulled Sarita's panties back up, not without some reluctance, and gave them another hard spank.

"Now, that was..." began Sarita, stopping herself too late. Carlos pulled her lingerie back down, and Tim began to protest.

"Now, see here! You're subjecting the child to humiliation far out of proportion!"

"Tell that to the Marks kid!" snapped Carlos. "Your Honor, did I hit her too hard?"

"Don't forget she's a Latina!" Tim put in. "Her skin wouldn't discolor the way a white child's would! It's racist to..."

"Oh, please!" sighed the judge. "Give her her third swat and get this over with!"

Carlos pulled up her panties and administered it resoundingly. Sarita howled, her voice getting even louder as Carlos lowered her panties once more. "I just wanted to make sure this was all right, too!"

"It was indeed!" said the judge. "I wish all my cases went this smoothly!" Carlos loosened his grip and Sarita rubbed the seat of her dress briskly, sticking out her tongue at the judge.

Judge Zaboly grinned. "Come to think of it, there's such a thing as contempt of court. Perhaps another sentence..."

Sarita had had enough. She bolted from the courtroom set.

"Three more days and we're out of here!" said Carlos as he and Sarita entered their hotel room. "This hasn't gone that badly!"

Sarita gave him a reluctant grin. No, it hadn't. Now that her punishment was over with, even she had to realize it hadn't been all that bad. She'd come back to find the director in a furious argument with the Markses as to whether the shots inadvertently taken of Johnny and the rubber rat... and the real rat... could be used in the final film. Ben Elkins thought it would add an excellent humorous counterpoint to the serious coverage of the Southern school integration controversy; John and his parents emphatically disagreed. Without going into details, Carlos had made it clear Sarita had been punished for her trick with the rat, and the other kids on the set, especially the girls he'd fooled with the rubber one, now looked on her as a heroine.

She glanced at the nighttable where she remembered leaving her watch, and her eyes narrowed. Her watch was GONE! The watch her father had given her for her fourth birthday, proud that his little daughter could already tell time, and she'd asked for and got bigger bands for it ever since. It was one of the few possessions she had to remember him by.

Before Carlos could stop her, Sarita was out the door and bellowing at the nearest maid. "My WATCH! It's GONE! One of you must have STOLEN it! I want it BACK! NOW!"

The maid muttered an apology as Carlos came out and suggested they search the room more carefully. Sarita stuck out her tongue, but Carlos seized her shoulder and steered her back into their room.

"Why couldn't you have at least looked for the watch before screaming at the maid?" asked Carlos angrily as Sarita made a cursory search.

"I looked EVERYWHERE!" whined Sarita. "And the hired help has no business treating a paying guest like that!"

"And YOU have no business treating THEM like that!" replied Carlos, very angry now. "By the way, what's this?"

Sarita's eyes gleamed. "My WATCH! Where was it?"

"In the bathroom near the tub, right where you put it!"

Sarita giggled. "Well, I guess I spoke too soon, right?"

"You most certainly DID! Might I remind you that your MOTHER put food in your mouth all those years by working as 'hired help?'" He strode toward her as he added, "I think you could use another lesson in manners!"

"I don't suppose I could have a time-out this time?" Sarita said weakly. She looked at his determined glare and said, "Well, why not? We know where we stand now, right? Let's get this over with."

Carlos sat down and Sarita leaned over his lap. "On my lingerie again, I suppose? Well, whatever turns you on." She felt Carlos' indignant shudder as she flipped up the back of her dress.

He gripped her firmly by the waist. "No, not on your lingerie! I think you could use a slightly harder lesson this time!" She felt his hand reaching for her panties and pulling them down.

"NOOOO!" screamed Sarita. "You're supposed to hit me on my clothed buttocks, remember?" Carlos only gripped her harder and reached out his hand. "Or is it just an excuse to cop a feel?"

She felt him shudder in indignation. "Don't worry, I'm not going to feel anything!" WHAT was he doing? Instead of hitting her, he was reaching toward his tool box. In the mirror she could see his hand emerge... clutching his long wooden ruler! "But YOU will!" He brought the ruler down with a crack across her bottom.

"Carlos, are you crazy? You're not allowed to hit me with anything! Just your hand!"

"So sue me!" he said as he brought the ruler down again. It stung a lot more than Carlos' big, flat hand had earlier, especially now that she no longer had her lingerie to protect her. The third swat, coming down in almost the same place the first had, made her squeal in agony.

"Okay, okay!" wailed Sarita, struggling to get free. "I won't talk to the maid like that again, OK? Why don't you let me go! I've HAD my three whacks!"

"I think you can use a few more this time!" snapped Carlos, bringing the ruler down on Sarita's bare bottom once more.

"AIIII!" roared Sarita as the ruler came down again and again and yet again on her stinging backside. "I don't believe this! You're hitting me with the wrong thing, too many times, without the necessary protection! You aren't doing anything right except where you're hitting me!"

"Thanks! I knew I'd forgotten one!" said Carlos. He brought the ruler down this time on the backs of Sarita's thighs, causing her to squeal again in renewed shock. "Now STOP the screaming or you'll get it across your face!" Sarita quieted down and the swats resumed across her bottom, every square inch of which was stinging by now.

As Sarita's protests died down, Carlos brought his ruler down with less and less force. Finally he said, "Now, look here, Sarita. You're a very successful and talented little girl, but you're still a little girl. And you simply can't do anything you want to. Neither can I. Neither can anyone. There are rules and laws that apply to all of us!"

"But not to you!" whimpered Sarita. "It's not legal to do to a kid what you just did to me!"

Carlos gave her one last swat, then began to pull her panties back up. "Maybe not, though I really doubt that lawyer's credentials. But it wasn't legal to set that rat loose, either. Nor, I might add, to drive at 85 miles an hour at a 65 limit, the way you were urging me to do this morning, either!"

Sarita sniffled as Carlos released his grip. "I... I guess that's true. But that really hurt!"

Carlos watched sympathetically as Sarita rubbed the seat of her dress. Three spankings in one day were a bit much even for her. "Not half as much as being bitten by a rat and getting rabies shots. And I know you think Johnny deserved it. Maybe you deserved this, too."

Sarita approached him cautiously as he put his arm around her. "I should tell Tim what you did to me! And Mama and Pablo..."

Carlos ruffled her hair. "And what *then?" The welfare people might take you away, sure, but I've heard some of the foster parents do things to their wards much worse than what I've done. And you wouldn't get to act any more. These things happen all the time, and the government only makes it worse when it sticks its nose in."

"But... I hate getting spanked like that! It's not just that it hurts... it's undignified and embarrassing for a girl my age!"

"Then you can stop it very easily. Just behave yourself and stop pulling nasty pranks and screaming at people, and nobody will have to punish you!" Carlos gave her a hug. "Now, why don't we get dinner?"

"Separate But Equal" wrapped two days later, with no further incident. John Marks seemed unusually quiet for the rest of the filming and didn't play any more tricks on anyone. Neither did Sarita Villamonte.

Tim Berkeley grinned at Sarita as she and Carlos headed off the lot for the last time. "See how well things worked out! I'm sure Mr. Gomez is a lot better chaperone now that he knows the proper way to treat children! And everyone's better for it!"

Sarita grinned back. "I guess you could say so!"

* * *

Dedicated to Hope, Miss Lily, and all the rest who've waited so long for Sarita's latest adventure...