It was a few months ago when Richie Matthews along with his friends Mike Lewis, Amber Johnston, Tamara Clarke, and Carlton Lamarre patiently stood outside of the student union awaiting their friends Kim Park and Eddie Reyes.
"I'm going to check on them." Richie says pulling his iPhone out of his pocket. As soon as he unlocks the phone he receives a text from Eddie informing them that he won't make it. "Eddie says he's not going to make it. He had to talk to one of his professors about a project."
I'm going to go in and find us a table." Mike says entering the student union.
"We'll be inside, guys." Amber says tapping Richie on the shoulder.
"Okay." Richie says as Amber and Tamara head inside.
"Hey, Rich, I think I see her coming." Carlton says with a smile as he spots Kim walking down the hallway. She looks very upset as she makes her way down the hall. "She looks mad as hell, bruh." Carlton says in a concerned tone. "Something is up."
Not too far behind is Al Graves, one of the best defensive players on Peach State University's football team. Al Graves is a young black man around 21 years of age. He stands 6'3" and possesses a muscular 265 pound frame. As he makes his way down the hall people stand aside getting out of his path. A look of anger adorns his face as he pursues Kim. Carlton quickly steps forward but Richie steps in front of him looks back and nods in a nonverbal attempt to suggest that Kim can handle herself. Carlton nods back confirming that he got the message.
"Hey, get back here!" Al snarls. "I ain't done talking to you."
"Well, I'm done talking to you." Kim says with a firm tone.
"You acting like I did something to offend you."
"You said you wanted to lick sweet and sour sauce off of me." Kim says with a frown. Al begins to speak but she cuts him off. "That's not the first time I heard that one, by the way. In the future when you're approaching a girl you don't know you pro ably shouldn't get sexual and racial in the first sentence. Goodbye!"
"Oh snap!" Carlton exclaims in a prideful manner fist bumping Kim as she joins him and Richie.
Al looks around and noticing that they have an audience. He's frustrated and embarrassed. He begins to approach Kim again.
"Listen, homegirl..." Al begins.
"Dude, just let it go." Richie says interrupting him. He's agitated but tries to maintain a calm demeanor and speaks with a friendly tone. "We both know things are only going to even further downhill from here. You're Al Graves, man! I'm sure you'll get another girl in no time." Richie smiles and hopes that appealing to Al's ego may alleviate the situation some.
"Fuck out of my face with that bullshit, cuz." Al says shoving Richie.
"Calm down." Richie says. "No need to get physical."
"You ain't seen me get physical yet, bitch!" Al says taking a swing at Richie. Richie quickly dodges the punch.
"Dude, what the h..." before Richie can finish the sentence Al takes another swing. Richie stands 5'10" and weighs about 155 pounds. Al has a substantial size advantage and a greater reach. In Al’s mind he just picked a fight with an easy opponent. But Carlton quickly grabs Al by the shoulder. Standing at 6'2" Carlton has less of height disadvantage than Richie. But weighing in at just over two hundred pounds there is still a size gap between Carlton and Al, but Al won’t be as physically imposing to Carlton.
"Hey, man, what’s your problem?" Carlton angrily asks as he pulls Al back. Al quickly turns around and begins swinging on Carlton.
"You want some of this too, bruh?" Al growls. Carlton manages to block and dodge all of Al's punches but loses balance and falls.
"Carlton!" Kim panics and quickly tends to Carlton while Al turns his attention back to Richie.
At this point Mike, Amber, and Tamara have cone outside of the student union as have several other students. Al swings on Richie several times, but Richie manages to dodge each one.
"Dude, knock it off. There's no reason to be fighting." Richie says as Mike helps Carlton up. The two are preparing to jump in. Al goes for another swing, but Richie ducks behind him. As Al turns around Richie connects with a spinning roundhouse kick to the side of Al's head. Al stumbles backwards and a look of confusion quickly appears on his face. He begins to lose balance but Richie quickly runs to him and eases him to the ground.
"I've called a paramedic and the campus police are on the way." Amber says.
"God damn, Rich!" Carlton exclaims. "That was some straight up Bruce Lee shit right there." Carlton tries to high five him but Richie doesn't reciprocate.
"Sorry, but this ain't anything to be excited about." Richie sighs as he looks down at Al who has passed out.
"I don't know, Richie." Tamara says with a smile as she pats Richie on the back. "You handled yourself pretty damn well. That's something to be proud of."
"I did what I had to." Richie says shaking his head in disappointment. "But this ain't something to be excited about. I feel like being excited about that would be disrespectful.”
"Come on, Rich." Mike says. "It's not like people are taking selfies with his unconscious body." Mike says before hearing the sound of a shutter effect from someone's cellphone. The others look down to see Carlton taking a selfie with Al's unconscious body. Mike, Richie, and Tamara look down disappointed. "Are you serious, playboy?" Mike says shaking his head. Once the others aren’t looking Mike mouths "Send that to my phone, bruh." Carlton nods.
Today the repercussions of that day are being felt. Despite clearly defending himself Richard Matthews has found himself the defendant in a suit filed by Alphonso Graves. Martin Akande doesn't know it yet but this will become his case. Martin leaves his bedroom dressed for work. He's clutching his briefcase and heading down the hall. As he enters the kitchen where his wife, Candice hands him a cup of coffee he quickly gives her a kiss as he accepts it.
"You know I need some sugar to go along with that, love." Martin says with a smile.
"Take as much as you need, handsome." Candice says giving him another kiss. Just as she does Martin's phone vibrates. He holds his phone out while taking a sip of coffee.
"The boss wants to see me as soon as I get in." Martin says staring at his phone.
"Don't tell me that you, of all people, are getting called down to the principal's office." Their friend, Anthony Lamarre says in teasing manner.
"Don't be silly, Anthony." Candice says walking into the kitchen. She hugs Martin from behind and peaks around him to look at Anthony. "Martin's been killing it!" She says with a smile.
"Well, it's too early for a promotion, sis." Her brother, Jermaine Brown says from the kitchen table. "Besides y'all don't need even more money to mismanage." Jermaine says taking a sip of coffee.
"We're working on our finances!" Martin says in an annoyed tone as Candice steps back from him.
"No, my brother, I'm working on your finances." Jermaine says finishing off his coffee. "It's actually cutting into time that could be spent on paying clients." He adds with a laugh.
"Oh, come on!" Candice says angrily. "Are you implying that you might start charging us? Martin would never charge you for legal advice."
"Well, actually..." Martin begins with a nervous smile. Candice shoots a dirty look at him before he can even finish the sentence. Martin nervously stands up from the table. "Alright, I'll catch y'all later." Martin says as he grabs his briefcase.
Over at the office of Matthews and Associates, Robert "Bob" Matthews meticulously analyzes the suit filed against his youngest son, Richie. He shakes his head in disbelief. His wife, Diane walks over to him.
"Bob, no matter how many times you read it the details aren't going to change." Diane says taking the documents from his hand. The documents are quickly taken from her hand by their son, Robert "Rob" Matthews Junior.
"Why are you so stressed out, old man?" Rob asks. "The people this dude hired are scrubs. Even I can take them."
"So you're saying that you'll only do well against scrubs?" Bob asks with a look of disappointment. Rob stammers and before he can respond Bob quickly follows up sarcastically stating "That's very reassuring, son."
"I didn't mean it like that." Rob says quickly.
"Of courses you did. In your mind this is a frivolous suit being presented by a team of lower tier attorneys. You're looking at this as an easy win." Bob says angrily.
"That means that you aren't taking this case seriously." Diane adds. "That also means that you aren't the right person for the job."
"Are y'all serious?" Rob asks angrily. "This is my little brother. Of course I'm taking this seriously. Beside this case is going to heavily involve my alma mater. Who else is as well connected to PSU as I am?"
"He is." Diane says pointing to Martin as he makes his way over to the office. She waves at Martin as he approaches the office and he waves back. "Please, son. Give us the room." Rob frowns and drops the documents on his father's desk. He opens the door just as Martin reaches for it from the other side.
"What's up?" Martin asks with a smile. Rob quickly side steps him saying nothing as he walks away. Martin enters the office. "Hi. Good to see that everyone is in such a cheerful mood." Martin says in a facetious manner as he looks over at his weary bosses.
Rob approaches his younger brother, William, who works at the firm part time as a clerk. William is at his desk working on some paperwork. Rob pulls up a chair and takes a seat next to him before putting his elbows on his desk. William finishes typing and looks over at his brother. William looks over at his older brother with a frown.
"You know I hate to say that I told you so." William says as his frown quickly morphs into a smile.
"Bullshit!" Rob replies. "You wouldn't even smile that hard if dad tossed you the keys to his Mercedes."
"There might be some truth to that." William replies while chuckling.
"I just can't believe this."
"You can't believe that mom and dad made what they believe to be the right choice about who should handle Richie's case?"
"No. I can’t believe that dad is still playing this stupid game." Rob says angrily. "He's using Martin to try to make me jealous.”
"You're being really mature about this." William says rolling his eyes. "It's not like they didn't just choose the best person for the job."
"We have the same quality of education and the same amount of experience. What does he have over me?"
"He's handled a wider range of cases, has more trial experience, and seems to be pretty skilled at preventing certain cases from getting to trial. He's basically been outperforming you on every level, bro."
"Is that all?" Rob asks.
"One client that y'all had in common feels like he's less of a dick."
"Fuck you." Rob grumbles as he walks away.
"Good talk, Robbie." William says as he goes back to typing.
Back in Bob's office Martin's conversation with the firm's founders is beginning to wrap up. The conversation hasn't necessarily been tense, but there has been a great deal of concern on both sides. Diane and Bob are naturally worried about their youngest son and the suit filed against him. Martin is concerned about how this case may impact his working relationship with their oldest son, Rob.
"Are y'all sure about this?" Martin asks. "I mean are y'all sure that Rob will be cool with me handling his brother's case?"
"We've discussed this with him already." Diane responds in a reassuring manner. "He knows that we're only doing what's best for Richie."
"He's fine with this." Bob chimes in confidentially as he crosses his arms and leans against his desk.
"THIS IS BULLSHIT! HE'S MY FUCKING BROTHER!" Rob angrily shouts from outside.
"Yeah, he sounds like he's being real cool about it." Martin says as he picks up the legal documents. He heads out of the office and passes Rob who shoots a dirty look at him. Martin ignores him and heads over to his desk.
Later that afternoon Richie is in the quad at Peach State University discussing the lawsuit with his friends. His girlfriend, Kimberly Park is worried. His best friend Eduardo Reyes is cautiously optimistic, as is his friend Amber Johnston. His friends Tamara Clarke and Michael Lewis Junior are both angry but they're trying to play it cool. However his friend Carlton Lamarre is furious and has never been one for filtering himself.
"Al Graves has officially reached full-blown fuck boy status!" Carlton says angrily. "This punk ass bitch started a fight with Rich that he couldn't finish and now he wants to sue? I mean seriously what kind of shit is that? Al can eat a dick and choke on the balls for all I care." Carlton is fuming by the time he's finished speaking.
"Damn, Carlton! Tell us how you really feel." Tamara says looking over in Carlton's direction.
"I don’t want to get too vulgar!" He says this in earnestly implying that he's not aware of what he just said or that there's is worse that he could've said.
"Yeah, that did sound a little PG for you." Tamara says sarcastically.
"Carlton does have a point." Eddie says shaking his head. "The fact that Al could start a fight and then sue because he got injured is insane."
"Yeah, the fact that he's trying to play the victim is ridiculous." Mike says calmly before casually adding "If he wants to know what being a victim is like, I know a few dudes that could make that happen.”
"Whoa, chill out." Amber says quickly. "Violence is what got him into this mess to begin with."
"No it's not." Mike says adamantly "Ego is. Kim hurt his little feelings so he tried to take it out on Richie and it back fired on his punk ass."
"Damn right!" Eddie says emphatically. "If he would've taken that L and kept it moving it wouldn’t have gotten to this point."
"Richie, how are you feeling about all of this?" Kim asks while rubbing his back.
"I don’t really feel like talking about it." Richie says putting his arm around her as they begin to walk away from the others. "Besides my dad's sending someone from the firm to talk to me. He'll probably need to talk to you and Carlton too."
"Your dad isn't going to be doing this himself?" Kim asks. "I guess this kind of case might be beneath him, but you're his son."
"It's not like that." Richie says. "He's just too close to this case."
"What about your brother?"
"OH GOD NO!" Richie suddenly erupts. "I love my brother but he doesn't exactly have the best track record."
"Richie!" A voice says catching Richie's attention. He turns around to see Martin approaching him with Carlton following closely behind him.
"It’s Martin, right?" Richie asks as he reaches out to shake his hand.
"Yes. It's good to see you again." Martin says shaking his hand.
"You're in real good hands, Rich." Carlton says with a great deal of confidence. "This dude right here is the truth." He turns to Kim. "Martin, this is Kimberly Park, Richie's boo thing. Kim, this is Martin Akande, lawyer and friend of the family."
"Thanks, Carlton." Martin says with a smile. "So, what I want to do is speak with all three of you separately."
"Why separately?" Kim asks.
"I need to get your accounts of what happened from your individual perceptions." Martin explains. "Having you all give your accounts at the same time may lead to you influencing each other's accounts. Trust me, if this goes to trial you'll need your stories to be as authentic as possible, and believe it or not a few inconsistencies may actually help. You don't want to sound too rehearsed. Naturally, I'm going to start with Richie."
Across the campus at the administrative office Rob is inside talking to the campus police and some of the administrators about the fight between Richie and Al. He is there without the knowledge of his parents and attempting to take some initiative in hopes that he may be allowed to work on his brother’s case. He is taking thorough notes from everyone that he speaks with. After collecting the notes he begins to send an e-mail addressed to Martin Akande. As this is happening Martin is wrapping things up with Richie, Amber, and Carlton.
“Thank you, guys.” Martin says. “Like I said, if you can identify any other students that were there please e-mail me the names. Carlton, your version of the story was very thorough but if it goes to trial I’m going to need you to use more professional wording.”
“I assure you, if the circumstances demand that I testify inside of a courtroom my testimony will be professional as fuck!” Carlton says with a smile.
“That’s very reassuring.” Martin says shaking his head. Martin departs and begins to head for the administrative offices. Candice is walking out of an office and waves at him. He smiles before heading in her direction. "Hey, love." Martin says quickly hugging her and then planting a quick kiss on her cheek.
"How's the case going?" She asks as he releases her.
"It’s going well so far." Martin replies with a smile. “I just sat down with my client and two major witnesses. Carlton was one of them.”
"That had to be a colorful, version of the story." Candice laughs.
"No surprises there." Martin says with a chuckle. "But the kid wants to be a prosecutor, I'm sure he'll have himself together if this ever goes to trial." Martin says. “I’m heading to the administrative office. I have to collect some information about the investigation and school policies."
"No need, it’s already been done." Rob says walking out of the office. "Check your e-mail."
"You're not supposed to be on this case." Martin asks with an annoyed tone.
"I'll take that as my cue to leave." Candice says. She kisses Martin on the cheek and begins heading down the hallway. "See you at home, babe."
"I know I'm not supposed to be on this case." Rob says. "But this is my little brother we're talking about. I'm not going to sit on my ass and do nothing. I can’t." Rob's voice is firm, his delivery is emphatic but his facial expression suggests a degree of pain.
"I have a younger brother too." Martin says. "I know where you're coming from."
"Just check out the e-mail and tell me what you think." Rob says. Martin pulls out his phone and begins reading the e-mail. He notices that several documents are attached. He opens one and begins to skim over it before going to the next and then he looks up at Rob with a smile on his face.
"This is on point!" Martin exclaims. "All of it is extremely thorough. But you didn't give yourself any credit.”
"The credit is all yours, man." Rob says patting Martin on the back before beginning to walk away. "Consider it an apology for me being such a dick to you."
"I give credit where credit is due." Martin says placing is hand on Rob's shoulder. "It wouldn't be right for me to claim someone else's work. When I get back to the office I'm going to let your pops know what you did and see if he'll put you on the case with me."
"Are you serious?" Rob says with a huge smile. He looks as if he's trying to stop himself from jumping for joy."
"Damn right." Martin says with a grin. "If this is the kind of work you're really capable of it doesn't make any sense not to have you working with me on this." Rob quickly hugs Martin. Martin looks a bit uncomfortable but he pats Rob on the back.
Back at the offices of Matthews and Associates Martin and Rob arrive. They head for Bob's office but Rob quickly realizes that they aren't here. Rob sees Will passing by.
"Will, have you seen Dad?" Rob asks. "We need to talk to him."
"He's working on a case, a multimillion dollar case." William replies. "What's up?"
"I wanted to see if he'd let me work with Martin on Richie's case."
"You're still at it?" William asks. "Martin's going to need help, but I'm not so sure you're the best person to do that.
"He'll do fine. He's already taken the initiative to get some very important information." Martin says.
"It's nice to hear that you're stepping up your game to help, Richie." Will says with a look of concern. "But shit just got real. When Graves's family realized what firm they were up against they decided to change their representation."
"What kind of change are we talking about?" Rob asks.
"They hired Walter Silverman and Bernice Hall-Simmons."
"Oh shit!" Rob and Martin exclaim in unison.
"Man, those two have quite the reputation." Martin says calmly. "In fact a friend and I had a joke about them." He says. "It's Silverman and Hall; shit your drawers / Making clients rich and attorneys crawl." He raps this to the tune of Jay-Z's song "Brooklyn's Finest."
"Sick!" Will laughs while fist bumping with Martin.
"This is nothing to joke about." Rob says.
"That reminds me I need to write a new rap to the tune of Eric B and Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke."
"I take that you're still up for this?"
"Damn right I am!" Martin says pounding his chest. "What about you?" Martin extends his hand to Rob.
"Of course I am. This is my brother we're talking about, dude." Rob replies shaking his hand.
To Be Continued...