I'm nervous. Okay, not nervous, I'm terrified. Look, you would be too if you were meeting your hero and begging him for a job. No! I can't beg. I'm professional. I'm in control. I've got this. Don't cry, keep eye contact without leering, chin up…
Oh, my name's Apollo Justice, by the way. Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm just so nervous… but I already said that, didn't I? I'm rambling. Point is I'm a lawyer, or hope to be, fresh out of law school. I need some experience and I'm aiming for the top!
That top is the Wright and Co. Law Office and I'm in front of it now. It's smaller than I expected but inside waits a legend. Everyone knows about this place and its owner. You know who I'm talking about. You've probably seen him on TV giving a statement after turning around a big, seemingly impossible case. He's pretty much been the epitome of lawyerhood ever since he started almost 10 years ago.
Well I have an interview to start as his trainee… or intern, or coffee boy, or anything else he'll take me as. Even if I'm rejected I'll still get to cross over that threshold and absorb lawyer powers through osmosis today.
Ugh, pull yourself together, Justice. You won't get anywhere just standing here. All I have to do is go up and knock. He's expecting me. Wait, it's an office. Maybe I just enter and he has a receptionist. Uh, I'll knock just to be sure. No reason I can't be polite. Is this the first test? Gah, I'm freaking out again!
Steeling myself I stand up proud and tall. I don't have much chest to puff out but I do the best I can. After my hand stops trembling I knock on the door. There's no turning back now.
Maybe I should just… wait, I hear voices. Footsteps are getting closer. It's him. It's really Phoenix Wr- it's not Phoenix Wright at all.
Opening the door is a beautiful young woman in a black blazer and short, matching business skirt. I guess beautiful isn't really the best description here. I mean she's pretty, don't get me wrong, but she's more cute. I mean really, really cute and that smile she's giving me has short circuited my brain and I think I'm a puddle in my shoes at this point. I don't even remember why I'm here any more. All I can do is try to keep my eyes level and away from that hint of cleavage.
Now that smile's starting to leave her face and she's peering at me searchingly. Does she think I'm cute too? Wait, no, it's because I'm staring isn't it? Oh God, I'm staring! Abort! Abort!
"I'm Apollo Justice and I'm fine!" I screech. "Er, I mean I'm here for the interview with Mr. Wright?"
Just wonderful, the first thing out of my mouth makes me sound like an idiot. I knew I shouldn't have gotten up at 5 am for Chords of Steel training but what if Mr. Wright wanted to hear my courtroom voice? He won't want to ever see me again now and he hasn't even seen me at all!
The woman at the door seems taken aback by my outburst and I really can't blame her. I'm not even inside yet and I already don't have the job. I think my vision's dimming. Maybe if I black out I can say it was food poisoning or something and reschedule the interview.
Now she's smiling again but it's probably just because I made a total fool of myself. She turns over her shoulder and yells, "Nick, the kid's here!"
Kid? I'm not a kid! I'm clearly an inexperienced, hormonal man-child who shouts too much and please oh please let this day get better.
"Come on in. We're expecting you!" she tells me, just as chipper as ever. Maybe I didn't terrify her after all… or she's just really good at smiling through her fear.
I follow her inside and she tells me to have a seat on the couch before disappearing in to the back office. I do as instructed and wipe my sweaty palms on my knees. I hope they aren't so sweaty they stain my slacks. Maybe I can- No! Don't wipe your hands on his nice leather couch, you idiot!
I sit deathly still; my only movement is my head as I take in the reception room. I want to turn around and look at the giant painting behind my head but I'm afraid the second I do is when Mr. Wright will come in and see me gawking like a tourist. Maybe I can read a magazine instead. Let's see, he has… wow, he sure has a lot of Steel Samurai comic books here. I would have imagined something more along the lines of golf or people magazines…
The door to the main office opens again and that woman is back with that same radiant smile. That didn't take long. Maybe I'm late? But I showed up ten minutes early! Should I have showed up even earlier? Don't start sweating again, Justice, your hair will droop.
"Nick's ready to talk to you, Apollo!" she chirps.
She calls her boss by a nickname and is already on a first name basis with me apparently. I can't fault her cheerful enthusiasm but I was hoping for a "Mr. Justice" or two. Oh well, I can think of worse people to take to me so readily, especially after my first impression was gaping and squawking at them.
She stands aside and lets me pass in to the main office. I swear a choir of angels is singing and light is pouring out of this place. Ever since I started school this very moment was my dream. Part of me wants to fall to my knees in awe but that would probably be considered unprofessional. For the record, the other part of me wants to fall to my knees because I'm too nervous to walk.
I look at the desk and there he is, the man himself with his rich blue suit, powerful red tie, and his famous slicked back spikes of hair. He looks like he's moving fast even when he's sitting still. On his lapel rests that Holy Grail, the golden attorney's badge. He's the real deal, alright.
He looks at me with those hawkish eyes and fierce looking eyebrows. I feel light headed like I'm going to pass out all over again. Maybe I should have brought a cookie or something to keep my blood sugar up. Or is that only when you give blood? You tell me; I've lost the ability to think.
"You must be Mr. Justice," he greets.
I nod stiltedly and see him stand from his desk. He reaches over it with an outstretched hand and I instinctively take it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I tell myself to give a firm, confident handshake and I wind up managing to squeeze his hand like we were dating instead. Just wonderful.
He sits back down and gestures for me to take a seat. I try not to think about whether or not he just wiped off his hand and I'm glad to sit down before my legs seize up and I fall over. Taking some calming breaths I notice the receptionist or whoever she is walk past me and plop herself on Mr. Wright's desk. She crosses her legs and leans on his shoulder eyeballing me. Okay, definitely not a receptionist… unless he just has it going on. He is a legend, after all. I could see it happening.
"Whaddia think?" he asks her with obvious affection in his voice.
She hums in contemplation a bit and brushes some of that long black hair over her ear before answering, "He looks nervous."
Is this the interview? He has his mistress or whatever judge me like a piece of meat? What's going on here? I slaved over my résumé and cover letter for this? Or is this how the most powerful lawyers really act? I have no idea what's going on and that pact I made with myself to not cry is crumbling.
"Are you nervous, Mr. Justice?" Mr. Wright asks with the kind of smirk I wish I was cool enough to pass off.
"N-no, I'm just… yes, very," I confess. I can't lie to him!
He chuckles. It sounds genuinely amused and somewhat comforting. That's good… at least I hope it's good.
"Nick won't hurt you," the woman soothes.
"I won't, anyway. Maya's the one who hits," he adds.
Maya… I saw that name on the ad for the firm. That's who this is? Maya Wright, his wife and paralegal? Of course, who else would it be? I'm an idiot. I sure hope I'm quicker on the uptake when he starts asking real questions. I think I'm getting a stress headache and I haven't even done anything but sit down and say hello.
"Your résumé was impressive," he tells me. I feel my heart soar and realize that's the first thing it's done besides try to hammer its way out of my ribcage since this morning. Then he continues. "So, I'm going to come out of the gate with the big question. What is being an attorney to you?"
Oh no, is this one of those things where I "keep my eyes on the prize" and "have to really want it?" I'm no good with execuspeak!
"Wh-what do you mean, sir?" I ask, hearing my chances tumble out of my mouth and shatter on the floor.
"I mean what is it do you think we do? What is our purpose? How would you describe the job of a defense attorney?"
Uh, defending people in court? Is this a trick question? I think I preferred applying for burger joints where they asked me to rate my people skills on a scale of one to five or what kind of animal I would be if I was one. Oh man, I need to think of something to say quick. Anything!
I swallow, hopefully inaudibly, and answer, "W-well, we protect those who are wrongfully accused." Hey, I made a three syllable word. I think that's a record since I got here.
Mr. Wright looks at me, weighing my answer. At least I hope he's weighing my answer and not waiting for me to continue. I don't know what else to say!
"That's what I used to think too," he tells me at last.
"Used to, sir?"
He nods. "I first wanted to become a lawyer because a friend of mine stood up for me when no one else would. Later, I discovered I had to stay on this path to help him in just the same way. After that he left. When he came back, he told me he discovered what it really meant to be a lawyer."
"Wh-what was it, sir?"
"Mr. Justice… do you mind if I call you Apollo?"
"Not at all," I reply while shaking my head, ruining all likelihood of any professional sounding title.
"Apollo, I discovered on that same day what being a lawyer meant to me… among other things." He glances at his wife and I'm sure I'm missing something but I don't dare ask. "Some day, I think you might too."
Oh great. Some day doesn't mean today. I might as well just pack up and leave before the word "sorry" has a chance to pierce my hopes and dreams.
"But I like that answer," he continues. "It shows the bright-eyed enthusiasm I had as a beginner."
"You should have heard the last guy we had in here," Maya comments with evident snark. "He actually said being a lawyer meant 'defending people in court.' If we wanted to hear that we'd hire the dictionary."
Hooboy am I glad I went with answer number two…
My attention goes back to Mr. Wright as he evens up some papers by rapping them on his desk. There's a silence as he reads them and I don't know if I should say anything or not so my eyes start flitting about. I spot a Steel Samurai poster on the wall and come to the conclusion that he really likes his kids' shows. Or maybe the Wrights have children? Wasn't Steel Samurai the original franchise, though? It's pretty out of date. I'm not sure, I've never watched it.
There's another poster for an old, much more serious looking movie right next to it. Talk about a contrast. There's no title for the film listed but it looks kind of sad. This place really isn't decorated how I had imagined but geniuses are supposed to be eccentric, right?
"I don't see any listing of any experience working in a law firm," he says, grabbing my attention back. I really hope that was just him stating a fact and not being critical. I mean, I can't get that experience if people turn me down for not having it in the first place!
"I didn't have any either and I was awesome," Maya immediately chimes in. She pokes him in the chest, continuing to point out, "and I still am."
Saved by the boss's wife. I love you, crazy lady.
"Not yet, but I hope to," I answer with a bit more confidence than I thought I had in me. "That's why I'm here." Oh crap, that's too confident. I add a half-hearted chuckle at the end of that last line to make it sound humorous. I am terrible at this. Please just hire or refuse me already so I can go home and have my nervous breakdown.
Mr. Wright nods again, seemingly accepting my answer. "I want to make this short," he says, "otherwise Maya gets bored and starts watching television while I'm trying to interview applicants."
At that Maya pushes off Mr. Wright's shoulder and hops to the floor in a huff. "Oh sure, make me sound like a kid in front of the kid," she complains.
I see her stop and scrutinize me intensely from the corner of my eye and I tense my jaw a little in hopes that will stave off my trembling or the flushing of my cheeks. It's a futile effort that makes no sense but something about the way she's looking at me makes me incredibly unnerved and flustered. Or maybe I'm just still panicking like a kid on his first day at a new school. Also that kid's hair is on fire and he's in his underpants.
"Mr. Nick, Mystic Maya, I'm back!" yells a girl's voice.
To say the shouting takes me by surprise would be a considerable understatement. I'm pretty sure my hair stabbed a pair of holes in the ceiling from the jumping I just did. Turning around I see a girl who can't be older than 16 rushing in to the office like she owns the place. She's wearing these weird robes like a kimono and has two braids of brown hair looped behind her head and when she sees me she stops in her tracks and covers her mouth in surprise. About time someone other than me was uncomfortable around here.
"Welcome back, Pearly!" Maya greets just as enthusiastically as ever. She gives the girl a hug and, seeing her looking at me, says "That's Polly, the new guy."
Polly? Since when did I have a nickname? I was fine with you calling me Apollo but I have to draw the line here.
"He's not the new guy yet, Maya," Mr. Wright corrects.
Okay, maybe I'll draw the line somewhere else.
"But why Polly?" Mr. Wright asks, sounding as incredulous as I feel.
Maya points at me and declares, "His hair looks like bird feathers. He reminds me of that parrot. Remember her?"
"Oh yeah!" Mr. Wright smiles broadly and I feel my hopes of ditching the nickname diminishing. "I like it."
"Hello, Mr. Polly!" the new girl says, immediately accepting me. "I'm Pearl Fey. I'm Mystic Maya's cousin and I'm an assistant here at the Wright and Company Law Office."
Wow, she's actually very proper and polite outside the "Mr. Polly" thing. Not what I'd expect from someone dressed like that and related to… hold on…
"'Mystic' Maya?" I ask, confused. I hope I'm allowed to ask about that.
"That's me!" Maya cheerily confirms. "The Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique at your service. We all head out there in the summer and then come back here in the fall to run the office. It's sort of a power couple time share thing Nick and I do."
Kurain Who-what's-it? Isn't Kurain that Japanese looking village just outside of town? She's the Master of that place? So my hero of a lawyer apparently married a princess or something? I knew he was a big shot around here but this is ridiculous.
"Oh… I see…" I answer. I really don't see. I was nervous before but now I'm just confused and completely out of my element like a cat on a raft.
"That's why we're looking to expand the office," Mr. Wright explains. "It would be nice to keep it open while we're in the mountains so the girls can channel spirits and run a government and whatnot."
Yeah, he said that as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Lawyer by day, ghost whisperer by night? I feel like I need to lie down. I see him laughing now. Either he sees my expression or he's as insane as I'm beginning to suspect.
"I know, it's probably a bit much," he says. "It's actually easier to get used to than you think. Don't worry about it. Starting out I'd just have you watching me in court and watering Charley just to get a feel for things. You're way too green yet."
I want to argue how I was top of my class but if this is what lawyers normally deal with, yeah, I'd say I'm green. They didn't exactly cover spirit channeling in Criminal Justice 101.
"Mr. Nick, I got what you wanted," Pearl interrupts. She hands Mr. Wright a piece of paper and he goes over it, signing the bottom after reading it.
He looks at me with those sharp eyes of his and a wisp of a smile graces his lips. Just what does that paper have to do with me? I start imagining it's my permanent record or something and he's reading how I got in to a fight in the eighth grade and that's somehow a deal breaker.
"Do you know what this is?" he asks me, turning around a picture on his desk.
I take a peek and it's a photo of him with a bunch of other people. It looks like the girl next to him holding a "Victory!" banner could have been Maya when she was younger. The face is really similar but back then she was hardly the unassuming beauty who greeted me at the door. I don't recognize anyone else. There's a worthless looking man in an orange jacket, some posh and proper fellow in red… or maybe pink, and a large man in a green trench coat with hands so big they could probably crush my head. It looks like there's another woman on the left but she's kind of washed out. Stuck on the picture frame is a smaller picture of a little girl with hair identical to Pearl's. It must be her when she was younger. Poor kid used to have a forehead as big as mine.
"It looks like a celebration," I answer. What on earth could this have to do with that mystery paper? Is he putting on some kind of skit for my benefit? I keep expecting a camera crew to pop out and tell me I've been had.
"This is a family," Mr. Wright clarifies. "Not by blood but by circumstance."
I have nothing to say to that. What do you say to that? I'm happy for him that he has such great friends, I guess, but I'm still at a complete loss. I nod my head and hope he continues which he thankfully does.
"This office is the same way. Remember when I asked you what being a lawyer meant to you?"
"Yeah…?" I answer warily.
Mr. Wright leans forward on his desk and he looks extremely serious. Those wild eyebrows of his make him look like a predator of some sort, I swear.
"I'm not looking for a lawyer that's like the rest, Apollo. High test scores, experience, impressive win records, all that can come with time."
"He's saying that because he never read Sis's law books," I hear Maya whisper to me. Part of me wants to laugh but I'm too enraptured by my hero speaking to me so seriously.
"A person's soul is what makes them unique," Mr. Wright says. "Maya, Pearls and I have forged a makeshift family I wouldn't trade for a normal one. The other people in this picture are an extension of that. We were flung together and formed a bond no trial or tribulation could break. You happened to show up to this office at just the right time."
"I… I did?" I stammer. So you're telling me I'm not necessarily qualified for the position but my timing is right? I'm fine with that. Let me sign on the line and shake my hand. I won't tenderly hold yours this time, I promise.
"You remind me a lot of myself when I was in college," he tells me. "So, I want to see if you'll fit in here; not just anywhere."
I'm like Mr. Wright in college? That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever told me. I don't care if I sound like a fanboy because the greatest lawyer of all time said he sees himself in me! I hope I'm not vibrating in my seat. Calm down, Polly. He's still talking. Did I just call myself Polly? Whatever. Roll with it.
"One of the men in this picture, Larry Butz, was charged with murdering his latest girlfriend earlier today," Mr. Wright continues. "He didn't do it. You can trust me on that." He must see my expression because he says, "Yes, his last name is really Butz. There's a saying that goes along with it but you'll probably find that out for yourself."
Mr. Wright nods once. "I want you to go down to the detention center and talk to him on my behalf. Find out what happened and report back. Consider this the rest of the interview. If you do a good job, you might secure yourself a position in this office family."
I spring from my chair in an embarrassingly exuberant fashion. I don't care how stupid I look. "Right away, Mr. Wright!" I shout. "Thank you so much! I won't let you down!" I head for the door not wanting to waste a moment.
"Apollo!" Mr. Wright calls after me.
I spin around to see him holding up that piece of paper from before.
"You might want to take this defense request along with you," he suggests.
I grimace and I'm probably blushing but I'm used to it by now. It's not like I could be any more awkward than I already am at this point anyway. I accept the slip of paper from him, folding it up and securing it in my pocket.
"First day and you're setting him up with Larry?" Maya asks incredulously. "You could just tell him to go dodge traffic or something, Nick."
I don't even want to know what she means by that. Is this Larry guy dangerous? If he's in jail he must have some kind of mean streak. He's incarcerated now, though, so I'll be fine! I'll be fine, right? Of course I will… I'm Apollo Justice and I'm fine.
"Alright, alright," Mr. Wright relents. I get the impression his wife wears the pants in this family, even if she's currently in a skirt. "I won't force you to go alone, Apollo," the man continues. "Pearls, keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn't get in to trouble."
Wait, Pearls? That teenager? I have to babysit too? Okay, so technically he worded it like I'm the one being babysat, but come on. Maybe she's just coming along to observe? The last thing I need is a partner who's just hit puberty. That's when I feel her take my hand.
"Mystic Maya says the buddy system is the safest," Pearl tells me. "I like your bracelet," she adds, holding up my hand.
"Um… thanks," I reply. What else can I say?
"Take good care of your special someone, Pearly!" Maya adds with the most devilish grin I've ever seen on such a cute face.
"Mystic Maya, it's not like that!" Pearl adamantly and thankfully denies. "I don't even know him!"
Her pouting is met with the Wrights looking to each other and bursting out laughing. It's at this point I finalize realize I have no idea what I've gotten myself in to. I just wanted a job working in the famous Wright and Co. Law Office. Now I'm suddenly holding hands with Mr. Wright's under age cousin-in-law and being sent to go question one of his friends in prison while he and his wife make fun of me for it. This is the last direction I expected this day to take.
"Here, Pearly, take this in case he gets handsy!" Maya shouts after us.
She tosses something to Pearl who releases her hold on me and bobbles the thrown object a few times but manages to take hold of it. When Pearl inspects the projectile I recognize it as a can of pepper spray. You have to be kidding me. Handsy? Does Maya mean me or Mr. Butz? If the guy's a friend of Mr. Wright he can't be that bad, can he? Isn't he part of that "makeshift family" too?
I like the way Mr. Wright worded that, now that I think about it. I've never had a family before. This bracelet Pearl mentioned is the closest thing I've had to ever knowing my mother, or so I'm told. Is this bizarre office what families are really like? I guess I'll find out after talking to Mr. Butz. Well, that's assuming I'm hired after all this. Pearl looks awful reassuring, though. Her big, determined eyes are full of the confidence I should have.
As she leads me out of the office she's rambling something about how "Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya" solve crimes together all the time. Is this girl actually going to be my partner then? Hey, maybe she will. A makeshift family is better than no family at all, right? Plus it comes with my dream job so you can't beat that. I'll have my own desk and everything. In a few years I could be a real partner to the firm and strike fear in the hearts of evil along side Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney. Yeah, Wright and Justice Law Offices; I like the sound of that.
Look out, world. Here comes Justice!