It was a dark and stormy evening when the cheery blond Lacey Manx fell onto the sofa and turned on the television to find a world of ebola and terrorists and extremely unattractive people. "Ugh," she said, quickly changing the channel to... Bravo? Food Network? Some type of frivolity.
She was twenty-four and freshly married to a healthy accountant. He had flown off to a Flagstaff or a Spokane for an audit and left her to her own devices. She relished the brief moment of domestic liberty. She had worked all day in the human resources department at the bank and wanted nothing more than to order a pizza and eat, like, a whole third of it.
Lacey pulled up her cell and ordered a pizza with pepperoni, olives, and extra bubbles. In twenty minutes of idle texting and whatever, the doorbell rang. She grabbed a wad of cash and skipped with joy towards the door.
But there was no pizza. Instead, there was an impeccably dressed man with thousand dollar shoes, bright red horns, a shimmering pitchfork, and a bag of intangible excellence.
"I'm Dean Satan," he crooned like sexy butter. "You must be Lacey."
"You're not the pizza guy!"
"Hey, kiddo, with intellect like that, I can see why you got a 152 on your LSAT!"
Her eyes wide with wonder: "How did you know I took the LSAT?"
"I'll let you in on a secret. I've got magical access to the LSAC database."
"But what are you doing here?"
"I think there's been some mistake, as you haven't applied to law school yet."
"Oh, I decided against it."
"I'm sorry," Dean Satan said, mockingly. "I'm not sure I heard you correctly. You decided against it?"
"Yes," she said. "Now, if you'll excuse me, sir, I have a pizza coming!"
"Walk that cute little ass into my car," he said, suavely. "I won't ask twice."
The next thing she knew they were racing down the freeway in his silver Jaguar with the torrential rain pouring down and Dean Satan was delivering a well-rehearsed monologue about the importance of law and social justice and owning Egyptian cotton. "Consider aliens," he said. "If aliens show up, we have to have a legal framework in place that can accommodate intragalactic commercial transactions and intraspecies divorce and such."
"Where are you taking me?" she groggily asked. "Did you drug me?"
"Objection, compound!" he snapped back. "See, that's a lawyer trick! I think; I haven't practiced in years. Anyway, are you familiar with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol? Of course you are, you liberal artist, you! Well, kiddo, welcome to Dean Satan's Halloween Carol! I'm taking you to three stops that represent your past, your present, and your future."
"Can you please take me home?"
"Can you sign a master promissory note?"
The car slammed to a halt. To the right, Lacey saw a modest house in observable disrepair. Inside, a family of six huddled around a small table two sizes too small. The driveway had a surplus of junky cars, and the backyard had a chainlink fence.
"Lacey, this is your past. The so-called working class. They're eating macaroni and cheese for dinner! The father is a butt-fucking carpenter and the mother is an unstable hairstylist. I read your personal statement, and your psychological profile. Do you want to have five babies and wind up back where you started?"
"We're going to have two," she said. "Then we're getting fixed."
"Speaking of getting fixed, these folks need a lot of things, but nothing is more important than legal services. In any event, without an advanced degree, you run the risk of being right back here!"
"We're doing very well for ourselves. While I like the law, I don't see that it adds to my career or happiness. Please," she begged him, "can you please take me home!"
"As you wish!"
He sped down the empty roads and pulled into another subdivision. Lacey looked quite confused as he dashed around the unfamiliar terrain and pulled to another hard stop in front of a two-story house. She really, really wanted her damn pizza. In the front window of the house, even through the rain, they could clearly make out a young couple sitting down for a piping-hot dinner.
"This is not my house," Lacey said, with a tone straight out of Lacey in Wonderland.
"It might as well be," Dean Satan smoothly retorted. "Mediocre steak and mashed potatoes. This is middle class torpor at its finest."
"They look happy," she said. She had no idea what torpor meant.
"But are they?" Dean Satan said. "Somewhere in that house, there's a fireplace, and above the fireplace, a mantle, and that's where they keep their dreams. She, in particular, has always wanted to be a lawyer who helps children as a form of vicarious motherhood. But she toils away fooling herself in human resources. Ghoulish!"
"Sir, I know you're trying to convince me that law school is a good idea, but I have thoroughly researched this and decided that for me and my goals in life, law school is not a good idea. Many people who go wind up horribly in debt, and the legal job market is like trying to trying to play musical chairs with double the people and fifty pound weights on your ankles in a room that smells like dead fish."
"But you can make a difference as a lawyer! Fight for justice and international peace treaties! Don't tell me a pretty girl like you is all about money?"
"I'm not, and I'm mature enough to know that my self-worth is not defined by how much I can claim to help people through my education or career. Now, please, can I finally go home? My pizza is probably cold already!"
"Alright," he said, "but I need to take a detour."
Dean Satan, indeed, took the long way back to the Manx household. He turned into ever-deeper subdivisions, higher-numbered circles of suburban hell. His Jaguar handled turns excellently. It was at this point, for no reason in particular, that Lacey realized that she totally had a porn name. It was little wonder that the pizza guy giggled a bit when she said her name. Indeed, the pizza delivery scenario was straight out of an adult movie. Still, she wanted her fucking pizza. Hunger was making her stomach ache, and she started looked around the floor for mints? gum? toothpicks with residue? But Dean Satan's Jaguar had the satanic spotlessness of the upper middle class.
...Dean Satan was rambling. "...So that's my scholarship offer. Speaking of scholarship, people say that legal scholarship is worthless and doesn't help the practicing bar, but those people are Negative Nellies. Legal scholarship is cited regularly by federal judges, and more importantly, 97% of major courts subscribe to, and presumably read, our law review each quarter. Do the Judges cite the Bible or Romeo and Juliet? No, but you know they've probably read it!"
The car slammed to another halt in front of an imposing mansion, New Georgian style with tailored shrubbery and a three-car garage and a glass conservatory-like sitting room that she had always dreamed of one day having. He put his hand on her shoulder. She felt its icy claminess through her sweatshirt.
"This could be you," he said. "This is my house. And yes, there's a heated in-ground pool in the back with a tropical-themed cocktail bar."
"Sir," she said, desperately, "I think you've kidnapped me! I just want to get back home and eat my dinner!"
"If you come to law school, you have an 87% chance of being employed in a job that makes $160,000 a year if some other dominoes fall. I know you think you're happy now, but when you're old and gray and feasting on virginal souls, you will look back and say, my God, I could have had that lifestyle..."
The rain and lightning and thunder increased dramatically, as if ordered by a wicked deity. A gremlin scratched at the side of the car. A thumping was heard in the trunk. Violins screeched. Freddy Krueger may have been involved. Dean Satan had a glimmer in his eye and smiled. He was ready to close.
"All you have to do is come to law school and get on the open road of greatness. Take out a modest loan. Give law school a chance, and you, too, will understand the splendor of representing people at their lowest lows, when they most need a lawyer, while raking in cash like a crack dealer at a rehab facility. And all you have to do is sign the master promissory note. ...and the application ...and the background check form. ...and these other disclosures required by federal law."
Like magic, the glove compartment opened to reveal a stack of eerily-glowing papers, and she found a pen in her hand! It was a silver Montblanc!
"Won't you take this Faustian bargain?"
She looked at the papers. She really wanted to get back to her pizza and her night of peace and solitude, just letting her brain relax in front of the television in a haze of nothingness.
"Have I mentioned that the JD degree is versatile?" he added. "Employers in all sorts of fields are rushing to sign JDs for their helpful knowledge base."
She knew this to be a lie. "It's our company policy not to hire JDs in non-lawyer positions."
"Is it really a hard and fast policy, though?"
"There's a sign on the wall."
This stumped Dean Satan. He was equally stumped when she placed the pen down on the stack of papers. "It's flattering, but I'm really not interested," she said. "I'm happy with my life, and don't need a law degree."
The pen began smoking, flaming, burning through the smoldering paperwork in a bonfire of charred dreams. Dean Satan's face turned even redder, but he tried to keep his cool amidst the fears that his law school would have to renegotiate its bond payments if this scenario played out too many times. My God, he thought, he might have to take a pay cut.
"Well," Dean Satan said, "I wish you the best of luck." He opened the car door and stepped out of the car. "Word of advice, though, refuse to drop urine if they ask."
"Aren't you going to take me home?"
"Shit, no," Dean Satan said, setting up a punchline. "That's not my car!"
A tremendous bolt of lightning crackled overhead with a thunderous roar. Terror washed over Lacey's eyes. Before she could even think of what to do next, the rain and thunder was replaced by sirens and the red and blue of police lights.
Lacey suddenly understood the demand for attorney services that just a few moments earlier she had refuted with the temerity of a half-informed journalist. "I need a lawyer!"
Lacey hated the striped jumpsuit, and she had only slept a few hours in a constant state of fear. The whole place smelled of urine.
She was hauled into the bright, sterile courtroom and looked like ass. She had never gotten her pizza, although she had remembered later on that she really did not like olives as much as she thought. Her name was called, the bailiff snickered, and the elderly female judge read the charges: grand theft auto...intent to sell...driving while intoxicated...criminal fraud in the false ordering of a pizza...transporting a minor across state lines...Sarbannes-Oxley...
For a moment, she thought about explaining everything to the judge. "It was the law school dean," she mumbled. Then she realized how utterly insane that was. I mean, really batshit crazy. Unfathomable. Jesus on roller skates, who the fuck would believe a law school administrator would do anything untoward to get a student in the door? The idea seemed so ridiculous that she thought about setting up an insanity plea (if only she could think like a lawyer!). Law schools are non-profits that exist for the public good. They don't do things like commit consumer fraud and ruin a perfectly good evening. No one would believe her that Dean Satan was actually, like, you know, satanic. It was totally outside the bounds of acceptability in a modern, civil society that values education and journalistic integrity.
"Ms. Manx, how do you plead to these charges?"
"I should have gone to law school!" she cried.
"I find you guilty of stupidity," the judge quipped. Everyone laughed. "If you had gone to law school, you could easily contest these charges like a boss. But you did not, and so you are fucked sideways."
The judge laughed maniacally. Lightning and thunder. Rueful tears as her peers went to law school and were almost entirely gainfully employed within nine months after graduation, many even as lawyers. Frivolity no more.
And, somewhere, Dean Satan was resting his pitchfork against a podium at a chamber of commerce meeting, a bar association luncheon, an elementary school, working ceaselessly to turn the nightmarish dreams of commoners into the lollipops and sunshine of happy-smiley justice and investment returns.
If only Lacey had listened...
Don't let Lacey's fate befall you, kids. Remember, this Halloween weekend: stay safe, don't drink and drive, and for the love of all that's holy, accept a Faustian bargain when presented to you!