In the limo, Steele is glancing at his watch as the mobile telephone rings. He picks it up. "Steele here . . . Oh, sorry, tried to reach you, - a slight change in plans . . . Have to meet Miss Holt at a client's this morning. We'll just have to push everything back an hour . . . Can you do that?" he asks with a nervous chuckle. "Splendid. I'll see you then." He hangs up. "Faster, Fred."
At a concrete building with the word "UNIDAC" on it in big letters, we tour the empty, silent, sterile hallways. It's 8:59. The clock changes to 9:00, and the building comes to life. People are everywhere, it seems. The mailroom boy stops at a desk where a nervous woman sits. He leaves and the telephone rings. "Mr. Burnett's office," she says. "Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Burnett will have to cancel today . . . Thursday? Let me check." She stops, and then says, "Thursday would be fine. Good bye," she says, a worried expression on her face as she hangs up with a nervous glance at Mr. Burnett's closed door.
"Alessandra Henry?" Steele asks, causing her to turn around. He's standing there with Laura. "Remington Steele. My associate, Laura Holt."
Alessandra gives them a relieved smile. "Oh." She stands up. "Thank God!"
"You said it was urgent?" Laura reminds her.
"Um, this way," Alessandra tells them, leading them toward Burnett's office. Laura gives Steele a curious look. She unlocks the door, and then leads them into the office, closing the door behind them.
Mr. Burnett is sitting at his desk, his head down, a knife in his back. He's quite dead.
"I'd say urgent was an apt description," Steele agrees.
"Good Lord!" Laura exclaims. "The man's-"
"I know!" Alessandra tells them.
"Why didn't you call the police?" Laura asks her.
"Because *I* killed him!" Alessandra explains, still nervous.
"What?" Steele asks.
"I mean, I mean, I mean, it looks like I killed him! That's my letter opener."
"And look," she continues, going around to the computer monitor.
"Okay," Steele says, following her, as does Laura. She turns the monitor toward them to read the message. "Dear Alessandra, I'm going back to my wife. I don't want to fight about it anymore. David." Steele reads it aloud, finishing with, "Uh huh."
Alessandra hits the delete key repeatedly. "I can't delete it. It's locked in the main computer somehow."
"Look slow down," Laura cautions as Steele glances nervously at his watch. "Were you and Burnett having an affair?"
"No! There were rumors, but it's not true. He had a bad marriage, and- I was someone to talk to. A friend."
"Oh," Steele says, looking at the door.
"Oh, come on! Does he look like my type?"
"Well, it's hard to tell from this angle," Steele admits.
Laura gives him a quelling look, and then tells Alessandra, "Go on."
"Last night, Dave called and said something strange was going on here. He wanted to meet early and talk about it. I came in, and there he was- skewered."
"Excuse us just a moment, will you?" Steele asks, pulling Laura aside. In a soft tone, he tells her, "Um, 'They Won't Believe Me'."
"Who won't?" she asks.
"Robert Young, Susan Hayward, RKO, 1947. Young tries to disguise his girlfriend's death-"
"You think she's lying?" Laura asks him.
Steele looks at the corpse. "Well, in Robert Young's case-"
"If I were the killer, I don't think I'd hire a pair of hot shot detectives to investigate-"
"There's no harm in provoking a conversation, Laura," Steele tells her, straightening his tie nervously.
"Well, thank you, Phil Donahue. May we continue?" she asks sarcasm dripping from her tones.
"Sure, go ahead," he agrees.
"Thank you." She turns back to their client. "Alessandra, do you know what your boss meant when he said something strange was going on?"
"I think this whole place is strange," Alessandra declares. "I'm just working here until I finish my PhD dissertation in Dostoyevsky."
"What does your boss- What did your boss do?" Steele asks, a bit stunned by her revelation.
"Procurement division, middle level assistant cost accountant."
"Oh," Steele says, as if that made things crystal clear.
"I was never sure exactly what he did."
Laura turns her attention to the corpse. She sees something on the floor under his shoe, and bends to retrieve it. It's an oversize key with "G 949" stamped on it. "G 949," Laura reads. "It's possible Burnet was trying to hide this from whomever killed him," she says as Steele takes the key and looks at it.
"Uh huh," he agrees.
"That would be Building G, Room 949," Alessandra explains.
"What goes on there?" Laura asks her.
"Beats me. I don't know what goes on down the hall."
"Shall we, Mr. Steele?" Laura asks.
"Good idea," he says, turning toward the door with her."
Alessandra stops them. "But- what about Dave?" she asks.
Steele pokes his head out the door and looks at all the people. He goes back into Burnett's office. "I'd vote against moving him for the nonce," he tells Alessandra.
"We can't just leave him there," she insists.
"Why not?" Laura asks. "Mr. Burnett's a very busy man."
Steele smiles and opens the door. "Good to se you, Dave!" he says loudly as Alessandra looks ill. "Take care!"
"Nice meeting you, Dave!" Laura says in the same tones as they leave.
"Let's have lunch sometime!" Steele finishes.
Alessandra closes the door behind them. "I think I'm gonna throw up." The phone rings, and she gets the deer-in-the-headlights look she had before they arrived.
Laura takes her and helps her to her seat. "Just business as usual," she reminds Alessandra, smiling as the secretary answers the phone.
"Mr. Burnett's office . . . I'm sorry, Mr. Burnett's in conference now. Can we get back to you?"
Laura smiles approvingly and gives her a thumbs up, Steele winks.
Alessandra watches them leave, the phone still to her ear.
Laura and Steele walk down a corridor in Building G. He's looking at some plans as she counts off room numbers. "G 940. 942." He looks at his watch again. "Are you in a hurry? You've been doing that all morning."
He shakes his wrist. "It's running slow, that's all," he tells her. "947, 948- Must be around the corner." They turn the corner, he reads numbers again. "G 901?"
"902," Laura continues. "903-" she tries to stop a man on a cart. "Excuse me-" he whizzes past them without pausing. She stops a young woman wearing a lab coat. "Excuse me, but we can't seem to find G 949?"
"That's not my department. Check building facilitation." She leaves them to continue down the corridor.
"Building Facilitation?" Laura asks Steele.
"Sounds almost obscene," he comments, glancing at the plans he's holding, then at the doors.
The go to Building Facilitation, and a man punches up a floor plan on his computer monitor. "G 949. G 949. Yeah. There it is," he tells them.
"But that's exactly where we were," Laura informs him, "And there isn't any G949."
"That's impossible. If the room is here, the room is there."
"Well, perhaps you'd like to come with us and see for yourself," Steele suggests.
"I can't do that," the man tells them. "That's Building Coordination. I'm Building Facilitation."
Steele glances nervously at his watch again. "Could you at least tell us what goes on in this non-existent room?" Laura asks the man as something catches Steele's eye and he moves toward a desk.
The computer beeps and the man tells Laura nervously, "Uh, that information's classified. Red Flagged."
"Well, whom do we-" Laura's asking when Steele holds up a book he's holding that reads "Computer Access Codes". He slips it into his jacket and joins her with a smile. "Whom would we see to get more information?" Laura asks, finishing her question.
"Who authorized you to make these requests?" The man wants to know.
"Never mind," she tells him. "I'm sure Central SendCom probably gave us the wrong information. Thank you."
The man looks after them thoughtfully.
As Laura and Steele exit the elevator at the office, Steele grimaces. "Ah, damn!"
"What's the matter?" Laura asks, looking up from reading the book he found.
"Oh, I should have been at the doctor's office a half an hour ago."
"Yes, a few tests came back negative. Listen, try not to worry about it," he says, pushing her out of the lift. "I'll see you later. Okay? Bye. Sorry," he says as the doors close.
Mildred is fanning the air with some files as she sits at her desk. "Morning, Mildred," Laura says, and then wrinkles her nose in distaste.
"Morning," Mildred says, frowning. "I *told* him to put it out," she says, pointing.
Laura gets an angry look as Norman Keyes (see Premium Steele and Forged Steele) and a woman appear. He laughs that cackling laugh, ever-present cigar in his hand. "Norman Keyes, Vigilance Insurance."
"I remember," Laura tells him. "And you're-?" she asks the woman.
"Estelle-" the woman begins, but Keyes breaks in.
"This is Estelle Becker. Listen, honey," he tells Laura, "Where's Steele?"
"I can see that. When will he be back?"
"Look, Keyes, we're right in the middle of a case, so if you don't -"
"I understand, but Miss Becker here has some business to discuss with your boss."
"What kind of business?" Laura asks Estelle.
"I'm afraid that's privileged information," Estelle tells her. "Just when do you expect Mr. Steele?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," Laura tells them.
"We'll come back later, then. Sorry for the intrusion," Estelle says.
"When you see him, honey, will you give Steele a message for me?" Keyes asks Laura. She shrugs. "You can run, but you can't hide."
Laura blows as if the blow away the smoke. Keyes laughs nastily and heads for the door. Estelle lingers a moment, then follows him.
"That guy should be checked for rabies," Mildred comments to Laura. "What do you think that was all about?" she wonders.
"I have no idea, but I'm sure we'll find out," Laura tells her. She shows Mildred the book. "Right now, we have more immediate problems to deal with." She leans on the desk. "There is a dead man sitting in an office at the Unidac Corporation. The secret to his murder is somehow connected to Room G 949. We need to access their computer and find out what goes on in that room."
Mildred smiles. "The computer system hasn't been built that can contain Krebs."
Laura laughs. "Great. I'll start checking on my terminal."
Laura stops and turns back to Mildred. "Mildred, did Mr. Steele mention anything to you about- medical tests?"
"Try not to think about it," Laura tells her in a stunned voice, then turns back to her office. She goes to the computer terminal in front of the window and types something in, then moves to the other window while she waits for a reply. She sees something and pulls the curtain back for a better look.
Steele is pacing on the sidewalk, obviously waiting for someone, checking his watch. A red convertible pulls up, and Steele gets inside. He kisses the driver, whom Laura recognizes as Clarissa, a hooker who was involved in a previous case (see Steele in the Family). As she watches, Steele gives Clarissa a long kiss before they drive off.
Laura releases the curtain, stunned by this turn of events.
Mildred is typing on her computer when Laura comes out of her office, a cup of coffee in hand. "Mildred?"
"That -friend of your nephew's. The- Latin tutor?"
"Clarissa?" Mildred asks.
"That's the one. Has he mentioned her lately?"
"Every time he calls," Mildred tells her with a confused smile.
"Where is she these days?"
"UC Santa Barbara. Tutoring her head off."
"Has- Mr. Steele mentioned her, by any chance?"
Mildred smiles, resting her chin on her hand. "Something on your mind, honey?"
"Oh, no, no, no, no. I'm just- thinking of past cases," Laura insists, turning back toward her office. Before she gets there, Mildred gasps.
"Paydirt!" She reads from the screen. "Room G 949 has been assigned to something called Project Omega."
Laura returns to lean on the desk. "What's Project Omega?"
Mildred shrugs. "I don't know," she says, then looks at the code book again before typing something into the computer. "This could take a little while longer," she says, frowning.
"Tell Mr. Steele I'll be at Unidac," Laura tells Mildred, picking up her purse from Mildred's desk. "If he's interested."
Mildred watches her go with a concerned look on her face.
"Where's Mr. Steele?" Alessandra asks Laura.
"Like Mr. Burnett," Laura says. "In another place." She sits forward in Burnett's office. "How are you doing, Clarissa?" she asks.
"It's Alessandra," the client corrects.
"Oh. Aless- Right. Sorry," Laura apologizes.
"Every time people pass by, it's like Edgar Allan Poe's the "Tell-tale Heart". I think they know what's going on and I want to scream. Seven years of advanced study in literature down the drain. I haven't even taken my orals yet."
"Look, all you have to do is keep people believing in a man who isn't really there," Laura says. "I've done it for four years, you can do it for one day."
"What are you talking about?" Alessandra asks.
"We'll laugh about it over coffee sometime. Right now, I need you to keep your head. And tell me where Unidac would keep personnel files on a red-flagged project called 'Omega'."
A junior executive, with a nameplate on his desk identifying him as the "Personnel Supervisor", removes his glasses, frowning up at Laura, who's wearing oversize glasses and a white lab coat, a Unidac ID pinned to the lapel. "Yes?" he asks in the tone of someone who thinks he's being bothered for no reason.
"Laura Holt, QRS division, Level Seven. Procurement and Applications, Background checks for PBY-14."
The man's frown deepens. "Right," he says, and then sits back to press a button under his desk, allowing Laura to enter the personnel file storage area. She walks through the shelves until she comes to a door with a red sign signifying "Red Flag Projects- Authorized Personnel Only". Keeping an eye on at the man at the desk, Laura pulls out her lock picks and opens the door.
Inside, she finds the Omega file, and opens it. She removes a folder, and sits to read it, only to find it empty- as are the rest of them.
"What are you doing in here?" the man demands to know as he enters the room.
"That is an excellent question," she agrees firmly. "How can *I*, wearing bogus ID, get my hands on a red flagged project without being challenged?" She returns the empty files to their drawer and closes it, turning to confront the man. "You got an answer, mister?"
"Well, I-Who are you?"
"Security," she informs him, heading out of the room. "And you're going on report."
"I didn't know," he insists, following her out of the file area. "I thought that-"
"Thought *what*?" Laura asks.
"My record is spotless," he insists.
"I'll let it go as a warning this time," Laura decides. "But you better straighten up and tighten up, Mister," she warns.
"You can count on it," he promises nervously.
Laura turns and leaves him, getting onto an elevator as another woman gets off of one. The other woman approaches the supervisor, and they both turn to look in the direction Laura took.
Laura gets off of the elevator, and is surprised to hear a message over the intercom "Laura Holt, report to T Section, Room 405." She frowns as the message repeats.
She finds the room, and enters. It's dark, and the door closes behind her. "Hey!" she yells, banging on it. "There's somebody in here!"
Suddenly the lights come on, revealing that she's in a wind tunnel of some kind. There's a model of an aircraft on a stand in the middle of the room, with a huge turbine at one end. The turbine begins to move as smoke fills the room. Laura is pulled back toward the turbine, and is forced to grab ahold of the aircraft model and stand as the Air Speed Indicator reads over 100 MPH. The speed rises, as the temperature drops. Laura releases the file she's been carrying to hold onto the model with a tighter grip.
"Somebody shut this thing off!" she screams as the speed exceeds 300 MPH. Looking back at the turbine, she cries out in fear. "HELP!" she screams. The speed tops at 400, and then drops as someone throws a switch.
Laura, her hair hopelessly tangled, relaxes as the door opens and Steele enters. "There you are, Laura," he says with a smile. "I've been lookin' everywhere for you."
Laura looks up at him.
At the office, Estelle Becker stands patiently to one side as Keyes stands in front of Mildred's desk, blowing smoke from his cigar. "Listen, buster, get that cigar outa my face, or I'm gonna use your forehead for an ashtray."
He laughs. "That's very good, Mildred. Listen, honey, I just wanna see Steele for a few minutes."
"I told you. I don't know where he is. Why don't you go play in the traffic til he gets back?" she suggests.
"Okay, Krebs, forget it. I was gonna do you a favor, offer you a job with Vigilance Insurance, but I guess after this place folds, you could make it as a stand up comic. Come on, Estelle," He turns toward the door, but Mildred jumps up.
"Wait a minute. Whaddaya mean when this place folds?"
"See ya in the bread line, sweetheart," he tells her, laughing as he continues out the door, with a not very happy Estelle right behind him.
Mildred looks troubled.
At the elevators, Keyes is laughing as he presses the button. "I love this job," he tells Estelle.
Estelle frowns. "You're disgusting," she declares.
"What? Because I like seeing justice done?"
"You don't care about justice," she accuses. "You're just determined to nail Steele."
"Come on, you got me wrong, honey. This isn't personal. I sat on what I knew about Steele for a long time because it didn't affect my job. But when my boss tells me he's putting Remington Steele on retainer and that I'll have to report to that fraud on major cases, baby, that's business."
"It's *my* job to deal with informants, Keyes, but that doesn't mean I have to *like* them!" she tells him as the elevator opens and she gets on it.
"Come on, Estelle, don't be naïve," he says, following her.
As their doors close, the other elevator opens, depositing Laura and Steele onto the floor. "I thought at least you might be a little grateful, Laura," he's saying as they head toward the office. Laura looks like a Medusa, with her hair in tangles and in her face. "After all, I thought it pretty good detective work on my part. Mildred told me you were at Unidac, Alessandra directed me to the file room. I heard you paged on the loudspeaker, and then I-"
"Alright!" she yells at him. "I'm grateful! Satisfied?!" she demands.
Steele backs off. "Yeah," he says uncertainly, and follows her into the office.
"Oh, hi, kids," Mildred says, and tells Steele, "Norman Keyes is looking for you-" he nods.
As he removes his jacket, Laura tells him, "I would have been a lot more grateful if you'd been with me in the first place." He nods in agreement of her words. "How was your doctor's appointment?" she asks pointedly.
"Took a little longer than expected, that's all."
"I'll *bet*. How did you get there? Walk?"
"What's gotten into you, Laura?" he asks, rolling up his sleeve to remove a bandage from his arm, wincing as he does. "
"I could have just used you at Unidac, that's all," she tells him, looking down at Mildred's desk, unwilling to confront him further.
Mildred laughs at her appearance. "What happened to you, Miss Holt? You look like the Bride of Frankenstein."
"Thanks, Mildred," Laura says, pushing the hair out of her face- only to have it come right back. "You find anything more?"
Steele puts his jacket back on. "No, just shooting blanks."
A deliveryman comes in with a tux in plastic. "Delivery for Mr. Steele," he says.
"Ah, thank you, my good man," Steele says, taking the suit. "Thank you very much indeed. Here you go. Thank you very much." He starts toad his office with the tux. "Carry on, Miss Holt."
Laura speaks loudly, so he can hear her through the open doorway. "Well, I got a look at some Project Omega personnel folders -"
Steele inspects the tux in his office. "Uh huh?!" he calls back.
"They were empty!" she yells. "All of them!"
Steele's still checking the suit. He lays it on the back of the chair. "Yeah?"
"A room that doesn't exist, now employees that don't exist?" Mildred questions.
Steele returns. "Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating," he declares.
"Listen, Chief, Norman Keyes and some dame named Estelle Becker have been looking for you. Are you in some kind of trouble?"
Laura watches Steele closely as he answers. "Trouble, Mildred?" he asks nervously. "What kind of trouble?" he can't quite look at Laura as he attempts a smile.
"I don't know exactly, but-" the telephone rings, and Steele fidgets under Laura and Mildred's accusing glares. "Remington Steele Investigations." Her mouth drops open. "It's for you, Boss. An- Ilsa Lund?"
Steele hesitates, then heads for his door. "I'll take it in my office, Mildred, okay?"
"Who's Ilsa Lund?" Laura asks.
"A- nurse. Probably with my test results and everything like that, okay?" he says, rushing into his office. He backtracks to close the door behind him, then rushes to the phone.
Laura stands there, then looks furious. "Ilsa Lund!" she declares, going to the telephone in the waiting area to pick it up.
"What are you doing?" Mildred asks.
"Ilsa Lund is the name of the character Ingrid Berman played in 'Casablanca'," she tells Mildred, carefully lifting the receiver to listen in on Steele's conversation.
Mildred does likewise with the phone on her desk. "Yes? Steele here."
"Remington," Clarissa says brightly. She's calling from a phone box on the street. "It's Clarissa. I used the code name like you told me."
"Yes," he says in almost a whisper. "Good. Excellent work."
"There's been a change in schedule. It's been moved up to three o'clock. Is that be a problem?"
He checks his watch. "No, no, no, I don't think so. Listen, I've just gotta take care of one minor detail here, I'll handle that and I'll meet you over there, okay?"
Laura frowns, looking at Mildred upon hearing his words.
"I gotta tell you, I'm really excited."
"Yes," he agrees. "I am rather fraught with anticipation myself," he laughs nervously as he hangs up the phone.
Laura and Mildred quickly do the same, and get away from the phones before he comes in, carrying the tux and telling them, "Uh, minor emergency. Either the lab mixed up my tests, or I've got hepatitis."
"What?!" Mildred calls as he starts out.
"Uh, don't worry, it's not the contagious kind, just don't drink out of my cup for the next 24 hours. And please, Laura, don't go back to Unidac. This case is getting far too dangerous. Take care, now, be careful. Cheers," he tells them, backing out of the door with a kiss thrown their way.
Laura grabs her purse to follow him, but Mildred grabs her arm. "OH, no you don't. I wanna know what's going on around here."
"Mildred, I'm gonna lose him!" Laura declares.
"No you won't, you've got time. Fred's gotta bring the limo around. Now give."
"All I know is that this morning, when Mr. Steele *said* he had a doctor's appointment, I saw him get in a car with Clarissa."
"So that's why all the questions." Laura nods. "Well, what's the Boss doing with a college tutor?"
Laura puts her hands on Mildred's arms. "Mildred, Clarissa's no college tutor. She's never even been to college."
"But Bernard says she's the most popular girl on campus," Mildred insists.
"And off, too. Clarissa's the kind who will be popular with anyone for the right price."
Mildred's shocked. "You are kidding! That sweet, lovely girl- What is my nephew doing with a hooker?" she wants to know.
"He's her tax advisor," Laura tells her. "The question is, what's Mr. Steele doing with her?"
Mildred grabs Laura's arm to push her toward the door. "Go find out."
"You keep checking on Omega. I'll check in as soon as I've sold *this* mystery."
Mildred nods as Laura leaves, then goes to answer the telephone. "Remington Steele Investigations."
"I've gotta talk to Mr. Steele," Alessandra says.
"Take a number," Mildred tells her.
"Then give me Miss Holt."
"You just missed her. Can I help you?"
"This is Alessandra Henry."
"Oh. You're the girl at Unidac," Mildred realizes. "What's up, honey?"
"The police are here," Alessandra says, sounding terrified. "What'll I do?"
"Don't panic!" Mildred tells her, sounding panicked herself.
At the LA County Courthouse, Laura watches from the rabbit as Steele comes out of the building with a piece of paper. He's smiling as he heads for the limo that parked outside. He gets behind the wheel and drives away. Frowning, Laura follows, but gets cut off by another car. She gets out, angry. "HEY!"
A man gets out of the car. "Lyle Andrews, Unidac Security," he identifies himself, showing her his ID. Laura's trying to keep an eye on the limo. "You've got a lot of explaining to do," he says.
As the limo leaves her sight, Laura tells Andrews, "So do you, mister!"
"You have no right to pull over a private citizen!" Laura insists.
"I've got a report here that says you were in high security areas without authorization. Now, that's all I need to sic the FBI on you."
"Then why don't you?" Laura asks.
"Because I know your boss's reputation. Because the Feds always find a way to screw things up. Now who are you working for?"
"Look, you're in trouble, lady. I'm trying to give you a break!"
"No dice," she says.
"You're forcing me to call the FBI. Now, if you'll just tell me what the case concerns-maybe we can compromise somehow."
"Omega," Laura says.
"How do you know about Omega?"
"What is it?"
"It's Top Secret. They won't even tell us in security." Laura nods.
"Well, somebody at your company found out and was killed for it. Whoever committed the murder was very smart. He framed the man's secretary. Since then, somebody at Unidac has tried to kill *me*."
"How would you like to tell your story to the President of Unidac?" Andrews asks.
"What about the FBI?"
"Forget about the FBI. Sounds like we've got a conspiracy on our hands. You wanna expose it or you wanna stand here being righteously indignant?"
Laura nods, and follows him to his car.
A frazzle police officer asks the woman from the personnel area, "Did you actually *see* a body, ma'am?"
"Well, not exactly, but- " she points at Alessandra. "She wouldn't let me in. And I thought, well, I was sure that-"
"You didn't see a body, but you called in a murder?"
"Look, something strange has been going on around here," the woman insists. "Burnett's been canceling appointments all day. No one's seen him. I'm concerned." She glares at Alessandra. "Where *is* he?"
"Lunch," Alessandra replies evenly.
"At three-thirty? Who with?"
"Well, actually,-" Alessandra begins, but all three look toward the door as Mildred comes in.
"Me. Krebs, IRS."
"You just had lunch with Burnett?" the officer asks.
"You got a hearing problem?" Mildred counters.
"Where is he now?" the other woman asks.
"At the Blue Parrot," Mildred informs her. "Tying one on. You his secretary," she asks Alessandra, who nods tightly. "I need Burnett's expense receipts going back five years."
"Looks like the guy would have been better off dead," the officer says, picking up his hat and leaving with his partner. "Let's go. Next time," he tells the woman, "make sure there's a body."
The woman glares at Mildred, then follows them out of Burnett's office. Mildred jerks her head for Alessandra to follow, and closes the door. She nearly screams when she sees Burnett's body hanging from the coat hook on the back of the door. "It was the best I could do under the circumstances," Alessandra apologizes. "You want some water?"
Mildred tries to control her revulsion. "Nah. I see these things all the time." She takes a step and almost collapses. Alessandra helps her to the sofa. "I think I'll sit down for a minute, though."
Alessandra sits with her. "Who are you?" she asks.
"Krebs. Remington Steele Investigations."
"That payroll supervisor called the cops. She must be in on it," Alessandra declares. "Whatever *it* is."
"Right," Mildred says. "And they're not gonna stop now, whoever *they* are." She looks at the body. "We gotta get that stiff outa here."
Mildred shrugs. "I'm open to suggestions."
Mildred pushes a mail cart through the room. A secretary tries to put mail into it, but Mildred stops her. "Sorry, full load. Have to wait for the next cart." Another woman tries as well. "Sorry, honey, I got a full load. Next cart, okay?" She pushes the cart down the corridor and pulls the mail up over Burnett's body. Whistling, she pushes it on.
Laura is trying to comb her hair in the visor mirror as Andrews drives the car along a beach road. "I didn't realize Unidac had any ocean property," she says.
"It's the President's house," he tells her. "He likes to get away from the plant every once in awhile."
Laura can't get a comb or brush through her hair and sighs in frustration. "Forget it." She puts the visor back up.
"So, uh, what put you onto Burnett in the first place?" Andrews asks.
Laura, putting her comb into her purse, stops and looks at him.
"That's right," Andrews remembers belatedly. "You didn't mention the dead man's name, did you?" He smiles nervously.
As he turns a corner, Laura opens the car door and throws herself out of the car. She tumbles down a ravine. Andrews stops the car and pulls his gun, but she's too far away as she runs down the beach. He goes back to the car.
Laura gets off of the elevator at the office, dirty, disheveled, one heel gone from her shoes, as a man waits for the car. He looks askance at her appearance. "Got a problem, buddy?" she asks, continuing on to the office. "Mildred?" she calls out once she enters the office. At Steele's door, she calls, "Mr. Steele?"
Realizing she's alone, she goes into her office and takes a pair of tennis shoes out of a file cabinet, only to run toward the phone on Mildred's desk as it rings. "Remington Steele Investigations," She answers, sitting on the desk to remove her broken shoe. She tosses it across the room.
"This is Starbright Jewelers," the man on the phone tells her.
"Hooray for you." She puts on the first tennis shoe.
"Is Mr. Steele in?"
"Are you kidding?" she asks.
"Well, just tell him that there's no problem. We're sending the rings over to the church as discussed. There'll be a small extra charge, of course-"
"Uh, wait a minute. What church?"
"The Little Chapel of Perpetual Happiness," he tells her.
Laura holds the phone away from her mouth. "Blood test, tuxedo-"
"The Little Chapel of Perpetual Happiness?!" she says into the phone, then hangs up, furious, and paces across the room. The phone rings again, and she grabs it, shrieking into it, "NOW WHAT?!"
Mildred looks frightened. "Miss Holt?"
"Mildred, where are you?"
"At the Unidac mailroom," Mildred tells her.
"What are you doing there?"
"Somebody called the cops on Alessandra. But it's okay. I put the body where it'll be lost for hours, if not days."
Mildred smiles, proud of herself. "Priority Mail."
"Mildred, I want you to bring Alessandra back here, and wait for me."
"Where are you going?"
"The Little Chapel of Perpetual Happiness," Laura informs her angrily, hanging up and taking off.
Mildred hangs up, confused.
At the Chapel, a wedding ceremony is taking place. The minister, a kindly looking, gray haired man, smiles. "And now, the rings, a symbol of your trough, your life-long commitment to one another."
Steele tells his bride, "With this ring, I thee wed." He smiles at Clarissa as she takes the other ring.
"With this ring, I thee wed."
In a pew, Clarissa's friends applaud.
"Lovely," the minister says. "And now, we must ask if there is anyone present who knows why these two should not be wed, let them speak now or-"
Laura bursts into the chapel. "You'd better believe it, buster!" she declares. She stalks up the aisle toward Steele and Clarissa.
"Unbalanced cousin," Steele explains to the minister, grabbing Laura and trying to hold onto her.
"You fraud," Laura accuses. "You liar, you-"
Steele winces as she hits him. "You don't happen to have any wet sheets, do you?" he asks the minister, then lifts Laura over his shoulder as she continues to rant, "You snake.! You philand-.!"
"Tends to babble when she gets excited," he tells them, slapping her bottom as she screams, "Tuxedo!"
"I'll be right back," he promises.
"Oh, put me down!" Laura demands.
"Calm down. There you go, calm down," he says as the minister signals to the organist to play something.
Laura screams, "No! No!" as Steele takes her into an anteroom, saying, "Don't bite your tongue, don't bite."
Laura hits him, screaming, "Where are you going with me?"
He closes the door behind them as she keeps screaming, "Put me down right now! Let go!" and repeatedly hits him on the bottom.
He puts her into a coat closet. "In you go. In you go," he says.
"No!" she yells, furious. He drags the sofa and coffee table to bar the door as she yells. "Let me out of here now!" and bangs on the door.
He locks the door before closing it, telling her, "Someday, Laura, we're both gonna laugh about this! Don't worry!" He closes the door and returns to Clarissa. Laura's screaming and pounding can be heard over the music. "Sorry about that," he tells them. "Don't worry. She exhausts easily. She'll be down to a dull whimper within moments." To the minister, he says, "Shall we continue?"
"Uh, very well." He signals the organist to stop playing. "Uh, if there is anyone present who knows why-"
The doors open again, and this time it's Keyes and Estelle. "Stop the wedding!" Keyes yells. Steele looks frustrated as Keyes and Estelle join them. "This marriage is a complete fraud, just like the groom," he tells the minister, showing him his ID. "Norman Keyes, Vigilance Insurance."
Estelle holds out her ID as well. "Estelle Becker, Immigration and Naturalization Service." She gives Steele a disappointed look. "Nice to see you again, Mr. Steele."
"I knew you'd try something like this, Steele," Keyes accuses.
"I don't know what the man's talking about," Steele insists.
"Come on get off it, Steele," Keyes says. "The alleged bride here's nothing but a two bit tramp, with a rap sheet a mile long."
Clarissa's friends start booing Keyes.
"Watch it, baldy," Clarissa warns him.
"Mr. Steele," Estelle says. "As I told you in our first interview, a marriage of convenience cannot be used to establish residency."
"Miss Becker, I assure you, this is not a marriage of convenience," Steele insists, his arms around Clarissa. "I deeply, deeply am in love with this young lady here," he says, and gives Clarissa a very convincing kiss.
Estelle's almost won over, and starts to smile.
Laura gets out of the closet and finding the door locked, piles furniture before the other door. She looks out of the transom to see Steele kissing Clarissa.
"They've got my vote," the minister declares.
"I'm satisfied for the moment," Estelle tells Keyes.
"Oh, come on! They're as phony as a pair of three dollar bills!" he insists.
"If you don't mind, Norman-" Steele says.
"This isn't over, Steele," Keyes warns.
The minister tries again. "Jumping ahead a bit in the interest of time, I now pronounce you-"
The doors burst open again, and Mildred yells, "BOSS! We got big trouble!"
"Oh, Mildred, can't this wait?" he begs her.
"They got Alessandra!" Mildred tells him as Clarissa turns around. "Where's Miss Holt?!" she demands to know
Laura rips the door almost off of its hinges and appears. "Ah, Laura, just in time," Steele says. "Hi."
"What?!" she asks.
Mildred grabs Steele's hand, dragging him with her. "Alessandra's been shanghaied!" she tells Laura, and Laura turns to lead them out of the chapel.
"Mildred, please," Steele begs. "Please-" but she won't let go.
As the doors open, the organist is playing "I love you Truly". The "bridesmaids follow them out, throwing rice. 'I'll be back, okay?" Steele promises a disappointed Clarissa.
As Steele, Laura, and Mildred speed away in the limo, which has been decorated for the wedding, Clarissa turns to her friends. "Not now, girls!"
Laura skids the limo around a corner, yelling at another driver, "Outa the road, Bozo!"
Steele is in the back seat with Mildred." I don't mean to carp, Laura, but could you just slow down a tad?"
"I know how to drive. I happen to be an excellent driver. Keep going, Mildred."
"Actually, I'd like to know more about the wedding, Boss."
"Oh, it's a Byzantine tale, Mildred, I assure you," he moans.
"And one we can chat about when this case is over," Laura tells them. "Now what happened at Unidac, Mildred?"
"Okay, after I ditched Burnett's body, I went back to
the office, but Alessandra was gone."
"And I think I know who's got her," Laura says.
Andrews is interrogating a tearful, terrified Alessandra. "What do you know about Omega?"
"I don't know anything about Project Omega!"
The woman from personnel and the man from Building Facilitation are there. "She's lying," the woman says.
"Look," Alessandra insists, "I don't know anything about anything at Unidac. I'm just a flunky, understand? A cog. A cipher. Have you read Kafka?" she asks.
Outside, Laura brakes the limo to a stop and they all get out to run inside the building, just a few steps ahead of the security guards.
"Where's Burnett's body?" Andrews asks Alessandra.
"I don't know!"
"Where's Remington Steele?" the Facilitation man asks.
"Fellas, I don't know!"
Andrews is at the end of his tether. "I believe her. In which case, there's no need for further discussion." He pulls out a gun and starts to put a silencer on it.
Alessandra is horrified.
Laura, Steele, and Mildred come around a corner and commandeer a golf cart. Steele takes the steering wheel as Laura sits beside him. "This part of our plan?" Mildred asks.
"Why walk when you can ride?" Steele says.
"Let me have the map," Laura tells him. She opens it up. "I think it's straight ahead." She opens it in front of his face. "Wait a minute!"
"Laura, get the map down!" he tells her, seconds before they crash into the security office. Steele knocks the gun from Andrews' hand. Andrews takes off. Steele picks up the gun. He and Laura start back outside, but the guards come up. "We're from Blue Division," Steele tells them. "Project Zeta Beta Lambda, Red Flag, Green Clearance, Yellow Zone, arrest these two people over here, will you?" he says, pointing with the gun, (looking VERY Bondish). "There's something reassuring about bureaucracy," he tells Laura, glancing at his watch.
"Let's get Andrews," she says, pushing him out of the door ahead of her. "Come on."
"Yeah." They take off.
Andrews runs out onto the compound, to a site where some new construction is going to take place. There's mud everywhere. Laura makes a flying tackle and takes Andrews down, getting soaked with muddy water in the process. Steele runs up, then backs off, trying not to get mud on his tux.
Sitting on a crate, he watches, smiling (SMILING?!) as Andrews pins Laura in the muddy water. "Feel free to jump in anytime!" Laura calls out to him.
"No, no, no, no," he insists. "You're doing just fine, Laura." As soon as he says that, Andrews pushes Laura's head under the water. "Oh, well," Steele sighs, putting the gun down and picking up a length of plywood. He looks at it, then takes a swing at Andrews, knocking him out.
Laura looks up at him through her muddy, tangled hair. "Teamwork, eh?" Steele asks, smiling and wiping stray mud splatters from his suit.
She glares, furious.
In the office of the president, A. J. Drury, they tell the tale. He says, "Amazing. Absolutely amazing."
"Well, as far as we can piece together, Mr. Drury, there is no Project Omega at all," Laura tells him as Steele paces restlessly.
"No," Steele agrees. "Phony rooms, phony employees, all part of a phantom division within Unidac."
"All created by Andrews and a handful of key personnel who knew how to manipulate the bureaucracy."
"I know my company's gotten a little-top heavy in recent years," Drury says, "But I never dreamed anyone could pull off something like this. And Omega is a total fake?"
"Except for the money," Laura tells him.
"Omega was budgeted at twenty-five million dollars," Steele inputs. "Half of that was from a government grant."
"That is what the late Mr. Burnett stumbled onto," Laura tells him, trying to keep her dirty hair out of her mouth. "Millions of dollars being paid to people and projects he couldn't verify."
Steele nods. "Poor sod violated the sacred rule of corporate existence."
"What's that?" Drury questions.
"Cover your behind and don't ask questions," Steele says with a smile. "Now, if you don't mind, we've got a wedding to attend to," he says, grabbing Laura and looking at his watch.
Drury looks at Laura's appearance. "Would you like to freshen up a bit first?" he offers.
Laura looks about to accept the offer, but Steele tells him, "Don't worry, I have handi-wipes in the car. Come along. Good day."
Steele's driving the limo as Laura asks, "All right, give. Why are you running off in that monkey suit to marry a hooker?"
"Oh, really, Laura. When you say it like that it all sounds rather distasteful. She's a wonderful girl."
"I didn't even know you two were dating."
"Well, it's a bit complicated," he tells her.
"Why don't you start at the beginning and work your way up to the altar?" she suggests.
"That consulting contract you arranged with Vigilance Insurance?"
"What about it?"
"It didn't sit too well with our old friend Norman Keyes. It seems he took offense at having to report to me on important cases."
"I don't hear any wedding bells yet."
"Being a petulant prig, he informed immigration that I was in the country illegally. Look, I know you were only trying to help when you gave me that passport in the name of Remington Steele, Laura, but -"
"Wait a minute. Are you implying that somehow this all is *my* fault?"
"Don't punish yourself, Laura," he insists. "I bear you no grudge."
"You were stranded in London! A man without a country! That passport got you back into the United States, you lousy ingrate!"
"Laura - Laura, it's very sweet of you to apologize, but there's no need. The important thing now is to get me to the church on time."
"Stop this car and let me out," she demands.
"Sorry. I'm on a rather tight schedule. The best I can do is slow down." Laura looks at him, then reaches over and grabs the keys, turning the engine off. "Laura, come on!" he says as the car coasts to a stop by the curb.
She gets out and starts walking away. HE gets out and follows her. "Laura! Laura, wait! Laura, please, please." She pulls away from his attempt to grab her arm. "Laura! You don't seem to grasp the gravity of the situation. If I'm not married to an American citizen by six o'clock this evening, I'm gonna be thrown out of the country!"
"So you're going to waltz down the aisle with the Happy Hooker?"
"Laura, please, this is no time to be jealous," he says.
"I'm not jealous, I'm angry! Can't you tell the difference?!"
"Why are you angry? I'm the one who's being deported?!"
"For some cock-eyed reason, I expected less of you!"
"Less? Less, less, less, *what*?"
"Less trickery, less deceit, less of everything that makes me doubt your feelings for me."
"Would you have married me?"
"Of course not!"
"And I wouldn't have asked you," he tells her.
"I knew if we worked at it hard enough, we'd find something we agree on." She starts to walk away again.
Steele grabs her again. "Laura, look, how could I have asked you to part of a ploy? A scam? An arrangement?"
She pulls away. "So you shopped around, found the best deal in town and bought Clarissa!"
"Rented actually," he admits. "In fact, I'm paying her by the hour, so I really do need these keys," he says, trying to get them from her. "Right now."
"NO!" she tells him.
The car phone begins to ring. "Telephone," Steele says. They both go back to the car, and he answers. "Steele here."
"Remington, I'm sorry," Clarissa apologizes.
"Well, don't be. I'm on my way-"
"Could you contact the minister?" she asks him. "I'm only allowed one phone call."
"One phone call?" he questions. "That has a very ominous ring to it. Clarissa, where are you?"
She's in a holding cell with other hookers. "Keyes had me busted for soliciting," she tells him.
"Oh, Clarissa, look, if death can take a holiday, why can't you?"
"All I did was give him my business card. I gotta go. It's time for my strip search."
"Clarissa- Clarissa-" he hangs up the phone, looking distraught. "Clarissa's in the clink," he tells Laura.
She nods. "What now?"
"Once I'm settled somewhere, will you visit me occasionally? With these excursion fares now, you can travel practically anywhere in the world for around ninety-nine dollars."
"That's it? You're just giving up?"
"Leaving aside the small matter of a bride for the moment, there are certain legal niceties regarding marriage that cannot be overcome in one hour and ten minutes!"
"You're the Duke of Deception. Think of something!"
He starts thinking. "Think of something, think of something."
Laura is saying sincerely, "I've loved him from the first moment I met him. He has all the qualities I admire in a man. Honesty, integrity." She pauses to blow her hair from her face. "Compassion. Sometimes, he seems to good to be real. It's almost as though I invented him. I'd be the happiest woman alive if I could spend the rest of my life, by his side."
A tearful Estelle Becker tells her, "I think that's the most beautiful expression of love I've ever heard."
"It comes straight from the heart, Miss Becker," Laura says, still sounding oh so sincere.
"I want to believe that," Estelle says. "I want this all to work out. I want-" She cries out as a fish leaps into her lap. "Ah!"
"Allow me!" Steele offers, taking the fish and tossing it back into the bin of the fishing boat they're on. Mildred stands close to Estelle. He looks up and sees Keyes pull his car into a parking space. Turning to a cigar chewing Hispanic man, he says, "Okay, time to cast off!" The man stares at him. "Vamoose, amigo!" Steele says. The man grins and nods.
The boat's engines start and they pull away as Keyes comes to the edge of the wharf. "Steele!" he yells. "Steele, you won't get away with this! It stinks, just like those fish! You can run but you can't hide! I'll be the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning! For better or for worse, Steele, you're mine!" he promises.
Steele smiles as they watch Keyes ranting on the dock. "Incurable romantic," Steele comments. "Hysterical because he can't be my best man." He puts his handkerchief into his pocket. He holds out a hand to Laura. "Shall we, my dearest?"
"Yes, my darling," she replies, placing her hand in his. As they pass Mildred, Laura asks, "How do I look?"
"They say all brides are beautiful," Mildred assures her.
Laura smiles as she follows Steele to stand by his side, her arm through his. "You're sure this marriage isn't even remotely legal?"
"Laura, when I make a bargain, I stick to it," he assures her.
"Okay. We've got a phony marriage license and fake blood test results. What about the captain? He'll have the authority to marry us."
"Um hum. Absolutely correct, Laura."
She pulls her arm from his. "Then what are we doing here?" she asks through clenched teeth.
"Juan's not the captain," he tells her as the man he told to cast off puts on a white captain's hat.
"Who is he?" she asks.
"He cleans fish," Steele tells her, puling her arm back through his. "He's very good at it, actually."
"Amados amigos!" Juan begins in Spanish, "Estamos reunidos aquí hoy, para unir --- a Rrrrrr-emington y La-ura en el sagrado matrimonio. Tu Remington, aceptas a esta mujer, por tu amada y fiel esposa, en la riqueza como la pobreza, en las buenas y las malas, hasta que la muerte los separe?"
Steele says, "Yeah, I do. " Seeing Juan's confusion, he says, "Uh, sí."
Juan smiles. "Ah, sí."
Laura asks Steele, "How long do we have to maintain this charade?"
"Not long," he assures her, still smiling.
Juan says, "Y tu, Laura, aceptas a esta hombre, por tu amado y fiel esposo "
"Two years at the outside."
"En la riqueza y la pobreza,-"
Laura is horrified. "Two years!?"
"En las buenas y las malas,-"
"Anything less and it's not a valid marriage in the eyes of immigration."
"Hasta que la muerte los separe?" Juan looks up at his friends, who give him signals of encouragement.
Steele nudges Laura. "Your turn."
"Entonces, como capitán de este barco, los declaro marido y mujer!" When Laura and Steele don't react to his words, he adds, " ahora puedes besar a la novia!" and makes kissing noises.
Steele smiles and turns to face Laura, pulling her close. "I think this is where we plight our troth with a kiss."
"How are we supposed to keep this up for two years!?" Laura wonders, looking unhappy.
"By being the happiest married couple in America."
"But we're not really married, you conniving con-man!"
"And that's exactly what Keyes will be trying to prove, my blushing bride." He pulls her closer still and kisses her. "Mmm!" He looks at his watch to make sure they made it. "Mm-mm!"
Juan takes out a concertina and starts to sing in English. "Feelings nothing more than feelings "
Mildred is crying. "Don't you just love weddings?" she asks Estelle.
Estelle sighs deeply. "I just hope I can get THIS one to stand up in my report."
"What are you talking about?! We're past the 3-mile limit! This is legal as hell!"
Juan continues to sing. "Trying to forget my feelings of LOVE "
Laura, still in Steele's arms, sighs. "This is the worst day of my life!!"
"Laura," Steele asks, "how can you say that? The honeymoon hasn't even started yet. Hmm?" He smiles at Mildred and Estelle. All Laura can manage is pained grimace as Juan continues to sing.
"I wish I'd never met you girl you'll never come again "