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Phoenix Wright (成歩堂龍一) ([personal profile] thewrightway) wrote in [community profile] aceattorneythenovel2017-03-10 08:41 pm

Chapter 3: Seeking Further Evidence (Japanese terminology)

“I ate too much menma, I don't feel good.”
Kokone-chan complained rubbing her stomach as we left the store. I feel the same. Taikuuken's menma is great, but eating too much of it has given me heartburn.
“We haven't got our hands on anything other than menma. Meguru-san seemed like he was hiding something though...”
“Did your ears pick anything up from him?”
“Hmm, he seems to be afraid of something... I think. I could feel some kind of unease in the tone of his voice.”
I felt that too. He seemed to become unnaturally fidgety when I brought up the topic of Uranashi-san.
Was there some kind of trouble between Meguru-san and Uranashi-san? I'll need to uncover the details.
“We should head to Uranashi-san's office next. I'd like to hear from his secretary and office staff.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“The location of the office... is...”
I'd drawn a map with the address. I opened my bag to pull out the piece of paper out when something occurred.
I heard a lively voice.
“It's true! It was a totally awesome plane. You've never seen anything like it. It was like, a hundred times cooler than grandpa's plane!”
There were three young boys with backpacks talking as they walked. They were probably in... third or fourth grade. The boy in the middle was talking with great excitement.
The other two boys responded.
“No way~! Your grandpa's plane is awesome, Wataru.”
“That's right. There's no way there's a plane cooler than his.”
“I thought so too until I saw it. It was pure black, super fast... I used to think grandpa's plane was the best in the whole world, but it couldn't stack up against that.”
The boy noticed us in front of the store and stopped talking to smile at us.
“Are you customers, pops? Thanks for your patronage~ Our ramen is great, right?”
“Eh...? Ah, you live here?”
“Yeah! Come again soon, we'll be sure to serve up plenty of our special menma!”
The boy gave us a wink. It was practised like a pop idol's wink.
His two friends said “Bye, Wataru” and “See ya tomorrow” as they walked away while waving. Wataru-kun opened the door to the shop with vigour and called out “I'm back~” as he went inside.
Kokone-chan whispered to me after the door closed.
“Do you think... Meguru-san has a son... Or his little brother, perhaps?”
“Yeah, Odoroki-kun told me Meguru-san has a little brother. If I recall, their parents passed away and they live together with their grandfather.”
“Their grandfather... That's the 'predecessor' Meguru-san mentioned.”
We left the store and and followed the map I had drawn. The wind was strong as always.
“He said his grandpa has a plane. I was surprised to hear that.”
“Yeah, me too. I didn't think anyone could buy their own airplane unless they're ridiculously wealthy...”
I hate to say it, but 'Taikuuken' didn't really look like it was that popular. That it made enough to buy a plane was beyond my expectations.
Kokone-chan seemed to have the same opinion.
“There's people out there who sink everything they have into their hobbies. Like audiophiles who go into debt just to buy super high fidelity stereos and stuff...”
“I suppose so.”
“Or swimming maniacs who build a pool at home and don't even swim in it...”
“... I don't think that happens much.”
“Meguru-san's grandfather is probably that type of guy. The store is falling apart, but he has the plane of his dreams... a real romanticist!”
Kokone-chan held her hands together with a big smile.
Come to think of it, there were a lot of pictures of aircraft inside the shop. I suppose he's an aviation maniac through and through. I mean, he even called the shop 'Taikuuken'.
“I'd like to meet this grandfather if possible. Meguru-san told us that he's an old friend of Uranashi-san after all.”
“I wonder if he's out today? We should've asked Meguru-san more about his grandpa.”
“I'm not sure he was really in the mood to talk about it though...”
Anyway, our next destination was Uranashi-san's office. I looked at the sheet of paper with the map to check the location one more time.
“Hmm... So we turn left at the traffic lights up here...”
Then it happened.
A particularly fierce gust of wind took the paper from my hands.
“Ah, crap!”
The paper fluttered in the wind. Kokone-chan and I chased it in a panic.
“Hold iiiit.”
Kokone-chan raised her voice, but the paper didn't listen. The wind carried it at tremendous speed. There's no way we can...
Suddenly, the paper vanished from view.
“... Eh?”
We stopped in our tracks.
The paper had been caught by a thin old man. He gripped a butterfly net with both hands. He swung his katana... I mean, butterfly net, as if he were a samurai in a period drama, splendidly catching the paper.
The old man slowly lifted the net from the ground and removed the sheet of paper from it.

We ran over to thank him.
“Thank you so much. That memo is ours. The wind took it out of my hands...”
The old man suddenly let out a strange yell. Kokone-chan and I were taken aback.
For a small thin old man... that's quite a noise...
“Why you darn litterbugs! In the name of the sky, I will punish you!”
The old man swung his butterfly net with a dangerous look in his eye. Despite the fact that a net is unlikely to give you lasting injuries even if you are hit with it... his intensity was intimidating.
“I-I'm sorry. We didn't actually mean to drop it...”
“Whether you meant to or not, littering is littering! Litterbugs like yourselves just toss your trash anywhere and it gets blown into the sea! Which means it's scoundrels like who perform the heinous crime of polluting our beautiful oceans!”
It wasn't on purpose, but I can't deny that it was my fault. I lowered my head in apology.
– However, the absolutely fearless Kokone-chan spoke up with a bright curiosity on her face.
“Are there bugs around here?”
“... What?”
“You've got a really nice butterfly net, so I was wondering if there were any rare specimens of butterfly or grasshopper around here...”
That fierce noise once again. We were taken aback.
“This net ain't for catching bugs! It's to nicely catch the litter scattered about by dirty litterbugs like yourselves!”
“No matter how much trash you scoundrels toss, I'll nicely catch it all! You won't escape the judgement of my net!”
I guess this city has a litter problem. Well, I suppose with such strong winds all kinds of things blow about. I've got to commend this old guy for catching everything that flies by in his net...
The old man thrust the paper back at me.
“It's downright deplorable. As long as I, Toshinari Amakake, am still alive and kicking, you litterbugs won't get away with your deeds!”
“... Amakake?”
So this old man is...
But before I could confirm it with him, the old man noticed something. He saw the address I had written down.
“What? Uranashi's office? You're in cahoots with that corrupt politician then!”
“Eh? Corrupt, you say...”
“The man is a fraud preying on this town! Hmph, so you're his underlings, eh? It figures you'd be tossing your trash about the place!”
This is a huge misunderstanding.
But we've finally found someone willing to talk about Uranashi-san. And one who completely turns his good image on its head. This is potentially controversial testimony. It could be really helpful to our case.
“Are you by any chance the former proprietor of Taikuuken?”
The old man gave me a sharp glare as I made my enquiry.
“So what if I am!? I may have handed the business over to my grandson, but Taikuuken is my castle! We ain't serving our menma to underlings of that Uranashi fella!”
“You're mistaken. We're here to investigate yesterday's incident.”
“Police? I ain't got anything to say to you. Uranashi got what was coming to him!”
“I'd like to hear more about that. What I've heard indicates the public opinion on Uranashi-san was fairly positive and he was a respectable politician working for the people...”
“Nothing is respectable about his politics! I've known him since we were in grade school! The world wouldn't be able to stand having another filthy cheat like him. He's the king of cheaters!”
“Could we have some specifics...”
“It's a long story. In first grade he won a prize by submitting an essay written by his tutor. In second grade, he knocked over the fish tank in our classroom and blamed me for it. In third grade, on the day of our big clean up he feigned illness to take the day off. Then in fourth grade...”
“Ah... Um... I'm more interested in his political career than his childhood misdeeds...”
“There's plenty more! There's no end to that man's misdeeds!”
Suddenly a loud voice echoed and the old man cut himself off.
It was Meguru Amakake-san. He was out of breath having run all the way here.
“Hm? Meguru? You've abandoned the shop...”
“There's no customers anyway. I heard from the neighbours that you were rampaging in the middle of the road shouting.”
“That's total codswallop! I ain't rampaging! In the name of the sky, I'm dishing out punishment...!”
“Stop shouting! It's because of your behaviour that we don't get any customers...”
Meguru-san grabbed his grandfather's hand and bowed his head to us.
“Sorry, Naruhodo-san. It seems my predecessor has been causing you trouble.”
“He was no trouble at all. In fact, Toshinari-san had some interesting things to say...”
“... I'm sorry. We're leaving.”
Meguru-san pulled his grandfather along by the hand. Toshinari-san was oddly compliant with his grandson's actions.
“... There he goes. Our valuable source of information.”
Kokone-chan lamented as she watched the two of them depart.
“Seems like a cranky old coot. I'm not sure I'd feel safe flying with such a short tempered pilot.”
That's right, Wataru-kun had mentioned his grandpa's plane. Which means that Toshinari-san has his own personal aircraft.
“I wouldn't want to ride a plane with him... That aside, he really seems to hate Uranashi-san.”
“Sounds like Uranashi-shi was a real problem child in school. Do you think he turned over a new leaf and became a respectable adult?”
“I don't know. Toshinari-san seems to believe his political career was built on fraud and deceit...”
“But he's the only one who seems to be of that opinion. Everyone else is singing his praises.”
“... Well, maybe we should just head to his office.”
I held on to the paper tight to make sure we didn't lose it a second time as we went to Uranashi's office.

[Same Day, 4:00 PM: Masamichi Uranashi's office]

Uranashi-san's office was on the main street not far from the station. It was the heart of this city.
The building his office was in was old fashioned and made of stone. The elevator was also old style.
“Pretty simple for a politician's office.”
Kokone-chan murmured. It wasn't what I was expecting either. He'd been a politician for many years, I was expecting something a little more grandiose.
When I knocked the door the response “Come in.” came from inside.
“Excuse us.”
I opened the door. The room wasn't particularly vast and there were desks and cabinets lined up neatly. Beyond that was a simple lounge suite.
There was a single man in the room. He was sat at a desk doing some kind of work, but stood up when he saw us.
He was wearing a sharp looking suit and metal framed glasses. His age was probably somewhere around 30. He seemed like a highly capable intellectual.

“Who might you be? I'm sure you've heard, but Uranashi-sensei is...”
“I hate to suddenly intrude. My name is Naruhodou, I'm a defence attorney.”
“Attorney...? Regarding the incident then...”
“That's right. I'm representing the suspect, Housuke Odoroki.”
The man nodded and offered his business card.
“I'm Shirai, I served as Uranashi-sensei's secretary. I'm still in shock that such an unbelievable incident happened. I've been so busy with the news coverage and people phoning in their sympathies... I haven't had a moment to pause.”
“Sorry to interrupt while you're busy. We were hoping we could get some details about the incident from you.”
“Of course.”
Shirai-san guided us to the sofa.
As he served us tea, I nonchalantly surveyed the office.
The desks and cabinets were incredibly tidy. It's a far cry from out office which has stuff all over the place, magic props, a piano, fake food, etcetera.
On the wall was one of Uranashi-san's posters and a schedule. Most of the schedule was packed to the brim, but the rest was all blank after the words 'Business Trip' written for yesterday.
The photo on the poster showed him in the peak of health. He was apparently 67 when he died, but he looks a lot younger. The slogan 'Bringing a dazzling white shine to all!' was written beneath his smiling face.
“Sounds more like a slogan for a washing detergent than a politician.”
Kokone-chan whispered. She only meant for me to hear, but unfortunately Shirai-san overheard her as he brought the tea.
“Washing detergent, eh? How interesting.”
Shirai-san spoke with a smile as Kokone-chan blushed in embarrassment.
“No, not at all. I'm sure the boss would be overjoyed to hear such a comparison. A politician as clean as washing detergent – That was the boss's style.”
“I've heard he spent many years devoting himself to this city.”
Shirai-san lowered his head in a deep nod in response to me.
“Indeed... It's such a shame. He was a great politician adored by the entire public... Why did he have to go like this...?”
“The entire public? I've heard evidence to the contrary though.”
I shot straight on the offensive. Shirai-san made a doubtful enquiry.
“What do you mean by that?”
“I met someone who hates Uranashi-san with a passion. He made Uranashi-san out to be some kind of heartless monster.”
“Who was it? Who would take such a ridiculously unfounded...”
I naturally didn't want to give away his name, but Shirai-san seemed to clue in immediately.
“Ah, right. The old man from Taikuuken, Toshinari Amakake-san, isn't it?”
“That's just Amakake-san's idea of a joke. Try not to take him too seriously.”
“A joke...?”
“He's got a sharp tongue. Despite what he says, Uranashi-sensei and Amakake-san got along well. They've been best friends since before they even started school.”
Best friends...? That's not the impression I got.
“When Amakake-san's ramen shop was going through a rough patch, Uranashi-sensei lent a hand to help out. I'm sure he's mourning Uranashi-sensei's death in his own way. He's known to be quite the contrarian though, so he's not willing to be honest with himself.”
“I see.”
I nodded.
“Why is it you think that Uranashi-san was killed? What motive did the killer have?”
“I'd like to know the answer myself.”
Shirai-san looked straight at me.
“I have no idea why that young man – the suspect Odoroki, would hold murderous intent towards a fine politician like Uranashi-sensei. I was hoping you could explain it to me, Naruhodou-san.”
“Odoroki-senpai didn't do...”
Kokone-chan burst out unable to contain herself, but I stopped her.
At this point, there was no denying that Odoroki-kun was the prime suspect. Nothing we say here will clear his suspicion.
This isn't the place to prove Odoroki-kun's innocence. The courtroom is.
Shirai-san spoke with a polite smile.
“I'm afraid I've nothing else I can say. Apologies I couldn't be of assistance.”
His phrasing was polite, but it was clear that 'I'm busy, so get lost.' was the true meaning behind his words. As expected of a politician's secretary, he was quite good at conveying his intent without any words... I felt an odd kind of admiration for this skill.
“Sorry to intrude without any warning.”
“Not at all. I hope the details come to light in court. When I visit his grave, I'd like for the boss to pass on with satisfaction.”
I signalled Kokone-chan with my eyes to keep her from saying anything and bowed.

In the end, we got nothing of any use in the vicinity of Umibeno Airport.
Though a number of things still bug me. Uranashi-san's reputation is unnaturally clean. Yet nobody was willing to say anything about his death. The only person who seems to know about Uranashi-san's dark side is Toshinari-san. And perhaps Mitsurugi, based on his attitude.
This case seems like it's going to be complicated.