For America's most infamous couple, this is what it was like the morning after:

Resting in a private room in a drab psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, Va., a cheerful, upbeat Lorena Bobbitt was playing host to a handful of visitors. She was being "treated like a queen," one friend said, and was sorting through scores of letters, cards and telephone messages from well-wishers.

Meanwhile, at Dulles International Airport, en route to an undisclosed destination, a stunned John Wayne Bobbitt was trying to make sense of a jury's verdict Friday that his wife was not guilty of malicious wounding when she cut off his penis in June because she was insane at the time.

"I have a lot of comment," said John Bobbitt, surrounded by relatives whose bags also were packed. "There's a lot I'd like to say, but my agent won't let me say anything."

Lorena Bobbitt, who will be hospitalized for up to 45 days while doctors determine if she is mentally ill and dangerous, issued no statements.

Bobbitt vs. Bobbitt, the explosive tale of the battered woman and the mutilated husband, is far from over. There are movie deals to be made. Interviews to be done. Dollars to be raised. And perhaps most of all, wounds to be healed.

"I told her today is the first day of the rest of her life, and she said that's the way she was looking at it," Blair D. Howard, one of Lorena Bobbitt's three attorneys, said after talking with her yesterday. "Right now, all this is behind her. She's not talking about the past. She's talking about the future."

Paul Erickson, John Bobbitt's agent, put it this way: "He just wants to get on with his life. He wants to return to a normal life." But he said Bobbitt is preparing for a publicity tour to raise money for legal and medical fees.

Despite the couple's differences, which were recounted for a jury and a nationwide television audience during a wrenching, eight-day trial, the two shared a common first reaction to the jury's verdict: confusion.

Moments after the verdict was read, Lorena Bobbitt turned to one of her attorneys in the Manassas courthouse and asked, "Is that good?" Eighteen miles away, in a hotel room, Erickson said, John Bobbitt turned to him and asked, "Does this mean she got away with it?"

Both times, the answer given was yes; by yesterday, it was sinking in.

Both Bobbitts had survived serious criminal allegations and escaped as many as 20 years in prison. John Bobbitt, a 26-year-old former Marine and barroom bouncer, was cleared by a jury in November of marital sexual assault. His wife, a 24-year-old manicurist from Ecuador, was declared not guilty of criminal wrongdoing by reason of insanity.

Lorena Bobbitt's attorneys vowed to win her release from Central State Hospital, a 125-year-old facility 20 miles south of Richmond, as quickly as possible.

Until that happens, her friends are promising that she will have visitors every day. Yesterday, hospital officials said Bobbitt already had drafted a list of visitors she will see and added that the place was "swamped" with calls for her.

"Some people say that maybe 45 days away is the best thing," said Margaret McGarry, one of her colleagues at a nail salon in Centreville. "Maybe it's good for her to get away from the pressure and the swarms of people."

"She needs help," agreed Amalin Castro, 22, whose family took Bobbitt in on many occasions during her marriage. But she added, somewhat forlornly, "If anybody should be in a mental hospital, it should be John Bobbitt, more than Lorena."

Although John Bobbitt would not say where he was going yesterday, Erickson said a 40-city radio tour would begin next week. Bobbitt, whose penis was reattached in a much-heralded operation, accrued "several hundred thousand dollars" in medical and legal bills, Erickson said, and hopes to raise money while on the road. Bobbitt also is negotiating a European tour.

One lifelong friend expressed dismay yesterday at the image of John Bobbitt that emerged at the trial. More than two dozen witnesses testified that he repeatedly beat or berated his wife, and doctors on both sides -- three for the state and one for the defense -- agreed that, despite John Bobbitt's denials, he had raped her moments before the mutilation.

"In all the reports I've heard about John being a rapist and wife-beater, I've never met that person," said Robert Johnston, 22, who was in the Bobbitts' Prince William apartment, sleeping on a couch, the morning of June 23, when Lorena Bobbitt and her 12-inch knife put the county on the map.

"I was shocked with disbelief. I thought the verdict was wrong," Johnston said. "I thought it was clear that she did it in anger."

Both Johnston and Erickson blamed the "pathetic prosecution" by Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert for Lorena Bobbitt's acquittal.

"It seemed incredibly disingenuous to attempt to convict her while maintaining to the jury that John Bobbitt was both a rapist and an abuser, utterly ignoring his acquittal on precisely that charge," Erickson said.

Ebert insisted that he did the best he could in presenting John Bobbitt, who stumbled through his monosyllabic testimony, as a witness. Even Erickson characterized Bobbitt as "not having emotions beyond elementary ones."

The prosecutor said he was saddled with the opinions of a three-doctor panel that examined Lorena Bobbitt and concluded that she was mentally ill because of years of abuse. Although those doctors disagreed with the opinion of a defense psychiatrist who said Lorena Bobbitt went temporarily insane, Ebert said the unanimous medical conclusions of abuse and illness gave the jury an "out."

Several veteran lawyers agreed with Ebert yesterday, and they empathized with the frustration he must feel after losing both high-profile Bobbitt cases.

"Paul Ebert may be the first lawyer in American history to lose both sides of the same case," remarked Abbe D. Lowell, a criminal defense lawyer.

From the perspective of two juries, and perhaps to the American public, Lowell said, "she was an abused spouse who they found had suffered enough. He was an abusing spouse who they found had been punished enough." Staff writers Peter Baker and Marylou Tousignant contributed to this report.