Chapter 4: The Investigation
Maggie took a deep breath, clutching her bag closer to her chest, her gaze wandering over the theater’s somewhat imposing façade. After her interview with Trucy, she’d gone back to the office and typed up her first article, detailing only objective facts that she’d witnessed herself and Trucy’s account of the events onstage. It had taken longer than she’d anticipated to write it, then she had to wait for her editor to read and approve, which took even longer. But finally, he’d given her the all clear, and she was back at the Penrose.
The place had calmed down a bit, although there was definitely police presence around the main doors. However, Trucy had mentioned the backstage door during her interview, and Maggie hoped she may have more luck there. As she began to search for it, she heard a voice call out to her.
“Hey, it’s you again!” She turned around quickly to see Apollo and Athena approaching her. “Maggie, right?” Athena asked, and Maggie nodded.
“Trucy told us about you. You wanted to get her side of the story,” Apollo said, seemingly studying her. “That’s pretty admirable of you.”
Maggie felt slightly uneasy – she had the sense that his intense gaze would be able to detect everything about her, which kind of freaked her out. “I mean, yeah. There’s already enough of this story out there with only one side. I want to be able to give the public the truth.”
“See, nothing, right? I told you, Apollo,” Athena replied in exasperation. “Trucy was right about her. She’s a good guy.” Maggie was alarmed. Did they talk about her?
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry,” Apollo apologized, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. “You just never can be sure.” The attorney looked around casually before turning his attention back to Maggie. “So what are you doing here? Trying to snoop around the crime scene?”
“I would prefer a word other than ‘snoop,’ Mr. Justice, but yeah, basically. I would like to look around for myself if I can.” Maggie couldn’t hide a grin. The thought of investigation did excite her.
“Please…” Apollo muttered, looking slightly embarrassed, fidgeting a bit. “You can call me Apollo. It’s really fine.”
“And I’m Athena!” Athena piped up cheerily. “Why don’t you come with us? We were just going back to the dressing room.”
Maggie gaped at the attorneys. “R-Really? That’s okay? I mean, I’m not a lawyer, I’m just a reporter…”
“Relax, it’ll be fine, just stick with us,” Athena reassured her. Leading the way, Athena gave a cheery salute to the policeman at the door, who opened it for her. Maggie followed close behind, trying not to look too terribly nervous, while Apollo brought up the rear, still looking slightly antsy.
“So why did you guys need to come back here? Did you not find everything you needed on your first visit?” Maggie asked in a hushed tone as they climbed the stairs to the stage, making their way to the backstage area.
“We did find a lot of forensic evidence here before,” Apollo answered, “but there’s something we definitely need to follow up on.” He sighed. “Trucy’s signature is on a contract that could get the office in a lot of trouble. Three million dollars worth of trouble.”
Maggie’s eyes widened. “T-Three million? That’s a lot…”
“Trucy didn’t sign that contract,” Apollo continued with determination. “There’s got to be some kind of trick. That’s why we’re heading to the dressing room now.”
A minute later, Athena pushed open the door, allowing everyone in. “Okay, Apollo, Trucy signed the contract in here, we saw here. There’s gotta be some hint in here as to how the trick was done.”
“I’ll help too,” Maggie chimed in. “If I can, anyway. You guys did get me in here after all.”
After a few minutes of searching, Apollo held up a clipboard. “Isn’t this what Trucy signed the contract on?”
“I think so, yeah,” Athena replied. “How does it work?”
“It’s like a folder, I think. Some people at the magazine use them to carry around research when they’re on the beat,” Maggie answered. “You just have to open the top part there, and there’s storage inside. I bet that’s where the contract was when Trucy signed it.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Apollo said, examining the inside of the clipboard. “This screw seems a little off… or a lot off. It just came out completely!” He held up the tiny silver screw. “I think there’s something behind it.”
“Did you just break that, Apollo?!” Athena scolded, but Apollo shushed her quickly.
“I think it’s a button.”
“Here,” Maggie passed him a pencil from the table and Apollo used the tip to press the tiny hidden button. There was an almost imperceptible click and a portion of the back of the clipboard slipped off completely. Maggie managed to catch it before it hit the ground.
“T-Thanks,” Apollo said to her, examining the revealed compartment. “What’s this piece of paper?”
“I don’t know…” Athena said, moving to check it too.
“Oh, that’s carbon paper!” Maggie exclaimed, noting how the back part of the panel she was holding was stained slightly darker. “It’s used to make copies of things. If you put it between two pieces of paper, whatever you write on the top one is copied onto the bottom one. Like a receipt or… a signature…”
“So when Trucy signed the contract…” Athena began as everyone began to piece the events together.
“What she wrote on the real one was transferred to the fake one!” Apollo concluded.
“That’s how Trucy was conned!” Maggie said firmly. “But who-“
“It has to be the Rating Rajah’s doing!” Athena spat angrily. “It must have taken a lot to trick Trucy, but he did it anyway!”
“The Rating Rajah? You mean Roger Retinz?” Maggie asked, pulling out her notebook and making a note.
“That’s the one!”
“We should take this clipboard with us, in case we take this to court,” Apollo said, tucking the clipboard under his arm. “But wait, Maggie, how did you know about the carbon paper?”
“Oh, uh…” Maggie flushed. “I use it in my art sometimes. It makes really nice patterns.”
“You’re an artist?”
“Not really, I mean, kind of, I guess, I’m just an amateur…”
“Not to break up the party here, Apollo, but we still have one more place to look around! To the Abyss!” Athena crowed, rushing out of the room.
“The understage area,” Apollo explained as the two exited the room as well. “Bonny was supposed to open it for us so we could take a look around. Hey, would you want to talk to the lead detective on this case? I’m sure if I asked, Ema would be happy to talk to you.”
“Y-You could do that? Oh my gosh, thank you so much, Apollo! I can’t believe this!” Maggie tried to refrain from jumping up and down, but her smile gave away her excitement.
Apollo looked even more embarrassed, his face turning a little darker, or maybe it was just the shadows in the hallway. “Sure thing. I’ll take you to meet her, then you can come to the understage area when you’re done and meet up with Athena and me, in case you have any more questions.”
As Apollo led her onstage and began a conversation with the lab coat-clad detective, Maggie couldn’t believe her good fortune. And as the attorney shot her a shy smile before disappearing backstage again, Maggie couldn’t help but feel her heart skip a beat. Apollo Justice was someone she’d definitely be interested in getting to know more about, or maybe even just getting to know in general. But for now, work came first. Play could come later.