Nighttime in Los Angeles. Above a building, a billboard proclaims: FLOWER POWER! As a huge golden atomizer sprays toward a pair of equally huge red lips.
A car comes to a stop, and a man gets out. He enters the building. Inside, a night watchman is eating chips and watching TV. He doesn't see the man enter the building or cross behind him to another door.
The man puts on a pair of gloves as he goes down a hallway, then enters a large office. A man is sitting in the chair behind the desk. The first man takes out a gun and approaches to point blank range, firing two shots. The man at the desk falls to the floor as the atomizer sprays into those red lips outside the window.
The killer leaves, and we see that the name on the door is that of "Myron Flowers". As the killer closes the door, he's startled to hear "SURPRISE!" and backs up to the door as two young women stand there, dressed in short shorts, tight tops and bell boy caps. One, a blonde, is carrying a cake with a single candle. "This cake for you from Marjorie, on the anniversary of your theft," they sing, "One of these days your greediness is gonna be your death." The other girl, a brunette, takes the candle out of the cake, and the blonde shoves the cake into the man's face. Then they take off down the hallway.
The killer chases them, pulling out his gun. He drops it, and has to chase it across the floor.
In the office of Remington Steele, Laura and Steele are dressed for a night on the town. They tap champagne glasses together and Steele says, "I've always said, a woman's best asset is a man's imagination."
"Intrigued?" she asks.
"Well, let's just say my curiosity is piqued. After all, Laura, black tie, champagne. Adds a whole new dimension to the concept of- business?"
She smiles. "I wanted tonight to be a night you'd always remember, Mr. Steele." She begins to sing "Happy Birthday" as Mildred enters with a cake and candles.
Steele joins in, stumbling when Laura and Mildred sing "Happy birthday, Mr. Steele." He stands, uncomfortable.
"Thank you, but, it's not my, um-"
"Of course it is, Mr. Steele," Laura insists, standing with a smiling Mildred.
"Oh, happy birthday, Boss," Mildred says, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"Oh, oh. Thank you, Mildred."
Mildred turns to leave the office. Laura frowns. "Mildred, I thought we made plans to take Mr. Steele to dinner."
Mildred stops, looks from Steele to Laura. "Well, where I come from, that's called three's a crowd, if you know what I mean."
"Hope you get your wish, Chief."
"Oh, I'm sure Miss Holt will do everything in her power to see that I do," Steele comments with a small smile.
Mildred smiles. "Well, in that case- make it a pip!" She waves at Laura. "Ta-ta."
"Mildred," Laura begins, about to follow. But Steele takes her hand and stops her.
"Steady, steady." He puts an arm around her. "Tell me, Laura, is this sudden celebration merely an act of capricious folly, or has it been steeping for some time, eh?"
"I created you, remember, Mr. Steele? Your birthday is a matter of record. Mildred came across it while she was updating the files."
He refills her glass. "Oh. Well, you might be interested to know that we have a tradition where I come from."
"Really? And where is that- exactly?"
"It's quite a grand tradition, really. Handed down from father to son, father to son, father to son-"
"I get the picture, what's the point?"
"The birthday boy gets one wish. But it must be granted by the stroke of midnight." Laura smiles, understanding his meaning.
Suddenly the two girls from earlier are in the doorway. "Tada!" they yell brightly. Steele and Laura exchange confused looks as the girls go into their routine. They dance toward the couple, then sing. "Shave and a haircut- SURPRISE! It's not unusual, it's your birthday. It's not unusual to spend it in a special way." The dark haired girl pulls a paper from her waistband.
"How about dinner?" she suggests, handing Steele some tickets.
"And a show."
"And when you get away," they both continue. "Just the two of you, to have a happy day. The romantic way."
"Bravo, girls! Bravo!" Steele says, clapping. Laura puts down her glass to join him. "Not exactly the wish I had in mind, Laura," he tells her. "But we're getting there."
"Believe me, it wasn't my idea, Mr. Steele," she is telling him, when two gunshots come through the glass in the window. They all drop to the floor.
Laura starts to rise, but Steele stops her. "Somebody doesn't want me to get my wish," he tells her. He looks around. "Oh, boy. Why can you never find a hat when you need one?"
"A hat?" Laura asks.
Steele pulls the cake from the table and into his hand. "Here we go."
"What are you doing?" Laura wants to know as he blows out the candles.
Steele crawls over to the window with the cake. "A little trick I learned from John Wayne," he tells her, holding the cake up into the window. "Yes, I would venture it's safe to get up now, Laura," he decides, leaving the cake on the window sill.
They stand. "Mr. Steele, this is going to sound crazy," Laura says, as the two girls start crawling from the room, "but I don't thinks those shots were meant for us."
"Oh? Then who?" They turn to see the girls are gone.
Steele catches up with them in the reception area. "Just a minute, ladies. Come back. Stay, stay," he says.
"Oh, don't worry, you don't have to tip us," the blonde insists.
"It's quite possible whoever fired those shots was aiming at you," Laura tells them.
The girls grab each other. "Oh my God," they cry together.
"Stay calm. We're trained investigators and we're here to help you, Miss-"
"I'm Toni, she's Terri," the blonde says.
"I'm Terri, she's Toni," the brunette says.
Steele rolls his eyes. "I can see it's gonna be a long might, Laura. I mean, who would want to kill two singing telegram girls?"
"Not JUST singing telegram girls," Toni insists.
"Actresses," Terri interjects.
"Singers," Toni adds.
"Dancers," they both say.
"Penny Marshall's gardener said we're the next 'Laverne and Shirley'," Toni tells them.
"Penny Marshall's gardener," Laura repeats.
"Yeah," Terri tells them. "We did his birthday. Penny was supposed to be there, But she didn't show."
Steele frowns, looking at his watch. "Tell me, girls," Laura says, "Have you any idea who would want to kill you?"
"Not really," Toni says.
"Haven't got a clue," Terri adds.
"Little Murders," Steele notes. "Elliot Gould, Alan Arkin, Twentieth Century Fox, 1971. A random sniper picks people off at a New York high rise building." He takes the girls' arms and turns them toward the door. "Okay, girls, on your way. I'm sure our man is scaling another high rise as we speak, right now."
Laura stops him from pushing them out of the office. "Are you really going to send these poor, defenseless girls out to face Lord knows what?" she demands of him, opening the other door as Terri and Toni watch them.
Steele shrugs. "Merely one of our options, Laura."
"Obviously, whoever it was followed them here," she reminds him. "Now," she asks the girls, "Where were you tonight?"
In an apartment building, Steele is smoking a cigar as an elderly man opens the door. "Ah, Mr. Bascombe. Pleasure to meet you. Pleasure to meet you indeed. Milo Minderbinder, Jinglegrams, Inc. I believe two of my young ladies visited you this evening-"
"Those two work for you, do they?" the man asks.
"Oh, Yessir, and I was just-" he gets no further as the man socks him in the mouth, sending him into the opposite wall.
In the limo, Steele holds a handkerchief to his mouth, glancing occasionally at a solemn Laura.
At the next stop, Laura knocks on the door. A woman appears. "Hello, Mrs. White? Two of our girls, Toni and Terri, were here tonight, and I was just doing a follow up to see if their work was satisfactory."
"Oh, yeah," Mrs. White says in a deadpan voice. "They left something I'd like to return." She turns away, and Laura looks to where Steele is waiting in the limo, giving him an "okay" signal. When she turns back to Mrs. White, she's on the receiving end of what's left of a pie in the face.
In the limo again, Steele glances over at Laura, who's sitting there with meringue in her hair, and hides a smile.
At the building with the atomizer billboard, Steele and Laura go through the hallway to Myron Flowers office. Laura is trying to wipe more of the meringue from her hair. "It's not too late to salvage the evening, Laura," Steele tells her.
"I'll live, Mr. Steele. It's only meringue."
"Well, we could still catch the opening of the second act," he says. Glancing at Laura, he adds, "Well, after the lights go down, of course."
Laura points to Flowers' office and the remains of meringue on it. "Ah. The girls' calling card."
"Well, let's hope Mr. Flowers is a bit more accommodating. I don't know how much more this I can bear."
Laura knocks. "In this business, Mr. Steele, you take the lemon with the meringue." She hands him the handkerchief, which he stuffs up his sleeve. Laura opens the door. "Mr. Flowers?" she says, "I'm with- J--" She stops, as Steele joins her.
Flowers is dead on the floor. "Oh, dear me," Steele moans. "Dear, dear me," he says again. They kneel beside the body. "And on my birthday, too."
The coroner loads Flowers' body into the wagon and leaves. Steele and Laura come from the Flowers building. "Congratulations, Laura," he says. "You've managed to embroil us in a real case."
"I think it's safe to assume whoever took a shot at Toni and Terri had something to do with Myron Flowers' murder."
"Odd," Steele comments.
"What's odd about it?"
"There was meringue on the door and the wall outside the office- "
"Yet the only thing on Myron's face was aftershave."
"So, who did Toni and Terri accost with a pie in the face?"
The night watchman ducks under the police tape and enters Flowers' office. He smiles, and steps over the chalk outline to sit in Flowers' chair. He picks up a gold atomizer from the desk and puts it in his pocket.
At Laura's loft, Mildred is pouring coffee for Steele. "THAT Myron Flowers?"
"You know him, Mildred?" Steele asks.
"Doesn't everybody?" she counters. "He's the Col. Sanders of breath spray."
Laura looks at the girls. "You said you went to Mr. Flowers office at around 7:30?"
"EXACTLY 7:30," Toni insists.
"And you're sure it was Myron Flowers you surprised?"
"Positive," both girls say.
"Little bald fella, about sixty."
"Don't try to fake us, Mr. Steele," Terri says. "The whipped cream was sticking all over his hair. THAT I remember."
Laura's interested. "Terri, Myron Flowers was bald."
"Yes, and it's quite possible you two threw a pie in his killer's face," Steele tells them.
"It is?" Toni says.
"Can you describe the man you THOUGHT was Myron Flowers?"
"Like that," they say together.
"How old?" Steele questions.
"Thirty," Terri says.
"Fifty," says Toni.
Steele looks at Laura, who asks, "What color was his hair?"
"Jet black," Terri says.
"Light brown," Toni says.
"Eyes?" Steele asks.
Steele groans in frustration.
"Oh, sounds like you really put the old peepers to him," Mildred comments.
"One thing is for certain. He knows what you two look like," Laura tells them.
"Yes," Steele agrees "And I'm afraid he'd determined that neither one of you will live to identify him."
"Does that mean we have to stay cooped up here till you find out who that guy is?" Toni asks.
"I think it's best," Laura tells them. To Steele, she says, "We'll start with the security guard at Flowers' Industries. He ought to know who was in and out of that building tonight."
"But have a gig tomorrow," Terri insists.
"Yeah. We're doing Morgan Fairchild's manicurist's daughter's birthday party tomorrow."
"That's show biz?" Mildred questions.
"Don't you realize what a great contact Morgan Fairchild's manicurist is?" Terri asks.
"Yeah," Toni agrees. "She tells Morgan how great WE are."
"Morgan tells her agent," Terri says.
"Agent tells her producer."
"And we've got our own series," Terri finishes.
Laura laughs as Mildred nods. "THAT'S show biz." The girls look upset. "Oh, don't worry, girls. Mr. Steele will have this one wrapped up in no time flat, won't you, Boss?"
"Umm? Oh, yes," he nods. "With some judicious gumshoeing, we should arrive-" he glances at his watch, "-just in time for the curtain call."
Mildred looks at him, then sits down as he and Laura leave.
The security guard gets home, removes his coat and hat and sits down in front of the TV. He takes out the atomizer and sprays a shot into his mouth. He begins to gasp and drops the atomizer on the floor, before falling to the floor himself.
Later, there's a knock on the apartment door. "Mr Johnson!" Laura calls out. We hear the lock being worked, and the door opens.
They kneel beside the body. "Heart attack?" Steele questions.
"He's the right type. Overweight, undernourished."
"Unkempt and unloved, by the looks of him," Steele adds. Laura stands and Steele rolls the body over. "More than likely he was killed to keep him from identifying Myron Flowers' murderer. He examines the back of Johnson's head. "Hmm. Have a look." He points something out to Laura, who returns. "That's the blow that did him in."
"If he was murdered, it must have been by someone he knew. No sign of forced entry. Except for us." She sees the atomizer. "Handkerchief," she says, holding out a hand.
Steele gives it to her. "Hmm. Well, I must say," he says, taking it from her. "The man had taste. It appears to be solid gold."
"Why would a security guard squander his money on a solid gold atomizer?" Laura asks as Steele polishes the atomizer.
"Unless it didn't belong to him in the first place. This could have fallen out of the killer's pocket when he struggled with Johnson."
"At least we have something to go on," Laura says. "There can't be a lot of solid gold atomizers floating around out-" she stops as he's about to take a shot, and takes it from him.
Steele looks apologetic, and follows her out, uneasily closing the door without benefit of a handkerchief on the doorknob.
The next morning, the girls are doing aerobics to loud music when Mildred and Steele come in. Mildred rushes to the stereo. "My goodness!" She yells. "What on earth are you-?" She turns the music off.
"Come on!" Terri protests. "That was my favorite part!"
Mildred grabs their clothes. "Girls, put some clothes on. There's a gentleman present."
Steele's enjoying the view, actually, as Terri says, "Okay, Krebbie."
"And DON'T call me Krebbie. The name is Krebs. And it's MISS Krebs to you."
"Yes, ma'am," Terri replies, saluting.
"Right," Mildred says, turning to Steele. "Oh, Boss, I'm sorry, unleashing these two on you and Miss Holt."
"You hired them, Mildred?" She nods disconsolately. "Never mind," he says, reassuring her with a hug. "Your heart was in the right place." He goes on toward the bedroom.
Mildred turns back to the girls. "Come on, come one. This is a pig sty. Let's move it. Pick it up. All of it."
The atomizer is on the bedside table. Steele comes up, looks at the mussed covers on the bed. There's no sign of Laura, except for the lump under the blanket. "Rise and shine, Laura, rise and shine," he calls out at the head of the bed. She doesn't stir. "Laura?" He pulls back the covers to find her feet. Going to the other end of the bed, he lifts the blankets. "Laura? Wake up. Come on." She raises up, looking tired. "There's a girl," he says, sitting down and putting an arm around her.
"They didn't get to bed until five a.m.," she tells him.
"We stayed up all night talking about the 'biz.' You know, it's funny. Those girls and I are worlds apart- and yet I'm not that much older than they are."
Toni comes up. She picks up the atomizer. "Hey, cool! What's this dooda?"
Steele grabs it from her. "That dooda is evidence, before you smudged any meaningful fingerprints off of it," he tells her, putting it into his pocket.
The phone rings. "I got it," Toni says.
Laura leaps up. "NO you don't!" she insists. She grabs the phone and holds it to her chest as she declares, "Need I remind you this is MY home and MY phone!" She puts the phone to her ear. "Hello?" A second later, she holds it out. "It's for you."
Toni takes the phone. "Hello? . . . Oh, hi, Petula . . . "
"Petula?" Steele questions.
"Our answering service," Terri explains, coming upstairs too. She goes to the closet.
Laura comes off the bed and grabs a top from her. "You two are guests in my home. That means my clothes, my closets, my dresser drawers, AND my phone number are strictly off limits! You got it?" She pushes Terri away as Toni comes over.
"We got anther gig, Terri!" Toni shrieks. "Woody Allen's west coast barber's brother is having a bar mitzvah."
"Woody's SURE to be there!" Terri says.
"This is it! Our big break! I can feel it in my bones."
"Dibs on the shower!" Terri calls, and they start down the stairs.
"MILDRED!" Steele yells, not moving from the railing of the bedroom.
"Yo?" she calls back from the kitchen.
"They don't leave this loft."
"Right. From here on, Krebs gets tough."
Laura surveys the loft. "Look at this place." She grabs the curtains. "Let's wrap things up so we can get back to normal." She closes the curtains.
A blonde woman, wearing a lab coat, says, "A grudge? I'll tell you what kind of grudge I had against Myron. I spent eight years of my life perfecting the formula for Flower Power. I'm the genius behind it. Not him. He stole it from me, he put his name on it, and he made a fortune."
"I empathize with you, Dr. Flowers. Working the trenches while a figurehead basks in the limelight. It's enough to drive anyone to murder." Steele winces.
Dr. Flowers pauses. "Certainly you don't think I had anything to do with Myron's death."
"You certainly had an excellent motive," Laura points out.
"Last night was the tenth anniversary of Myron's deceit. I simply hired Jinglegrams to remind him of it. I would have gone myself, but I had a class. Now, I wish, - I would have loved to have seen his face just one last time."
"Well," Steele comments, "it appears he robbed you of even that small consolation, Doctor." He pulls out the atomizer. "Tell me, have you ever seen this before?"
"Yes. Myron gave one to each of his 'Golden Circle'," she tells them.
"And just who are the Golden Ones?"
"Well, there's his second in command, Fitz. My replacement, Brenda. And my ex-son Chip."
"EX- son?" Laura asks.
"He left me the same day his father did," she tells Laura. "As far as I'm concerned, I no longer have a son. Oh, if it's suspects you're after, I would say that Brenda and Chip are probably worth about- twenty five million more today than they were yesterday."
In the Rabbit, Steele holds the atomizer. "Find me the man who owns this atomizer, and I'll show you a man who's breath smells of murder." He laughs. "Oh, how I long for days when our cases truly puzzled me. Of course, on the other hand, the sooner we solve this case, the sooner we'll be able to address ourselves to more pressing matters."
"What could possibly be more pressing than nabbing a murderer?" Laura asks.
Steele pulls out two tickets. "Catching the opening act of '42nd Street'. I called the box office this morning. Best seats in the house." Laura smiles. "Mind the road."
Brenda Flowers is an artificial blonde who tells them dramatically, "I married Elliot, my first husband, the Saturday after I graduated from High School. Myron and I were married less than a month after my divorce from Elliot. I've never been without a man in my life," she says to Steele.
"If this is too painful for you, Mrs. Flowers," he begins.
"No. No, Myron is dead. And nothing I can do will change that. I just have to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with the rest of my life, like it or not." A young man and woman enter the room. Brenda flies to the young man's side. "Oh, Chip!" she cries. "This is step son Chip. And my husband's personal secretary, Miss Evans," she adds, almost as an afterthought. "Oh, this is Mr.- "
"Steele," Laura supplies. Steele shakes Chip's hand. "I'm Laura Holt."
"They're looking into the circumstances of your father's final journey," Brenda tells Chip.
"Yes. Your father's untimely departure from this world has put two of our clients in little bit of a- predicament," Steele says.
"Someone is trying to kill them," Laura clarifies. "We think it's the same man who killed your father."
"Well, I'll tell you what. You guys find whoever did my father in-and I'll take care of the sucker," Chip declares.
Laura frowns as Steele looks at her. "Tell me. Did the late Mr. Flowers have any enemies?"
"Enemies?" Brenda repeats, shocked at the idea. "Why, Miss Holt. Myron was respected and loved by everyone who knew him."
Chip smiles at Steele. "She's incredible, isn't she?"
"Mind boggling," Steele agrees.
"Tell me," Laura asks, "weren't you a little bit concerned when he didn't come home last night?"
"Why, no. I was with Joshua."
"Joshua?" Laura asks.
"Yes. My guided imagery instructor," Brenda explains.
"Oh," Steele comments nervously.
"It wasn't uncommon for Mr. Flowers to work in his lab for hours on end," Miss Evans tells them. He wouldn't even stop to eat."
"Yes," Brenda agrees. "That was Myron. Dedicated. Self sacrificing. Brilliant." She spritzes some breath spray into her mouth with a gold atomizer. "He'll be with me forever."
Chip does the same. "Yeah. Me too."
Laura looks up at Steele as Brenda runs to another man- the killer. "Brenda," he says.
She throws herself into his arms. "Oh, thank GOD! Now I can land. Now I can finally rest my wings at last."
"I took the first flight back," he tells her. "Brenda, I don't know what to say. It is such a- shock. I mean, I can't believe it myself. Myron's really gone?"
"Gone, Nathan. But not- GONE gone," Brenda tells him.
Nathan sees Steele and Laura. "Oh, I'm sorry. Nathan Fitz. Myron's second in command."
"They're investigating Dad's death," Chip tells Nathan.
"Ah. Really?" Nathan says, beginning to search his pockets.
"Lose anything, Mr. Fitz?" Laura wonders.
"My atomizer. I seem to have misplaced it."
"Ah ha," Steele mutters.
"Here it is," Nathan says, coming up with it.
"Ah HA," Laura says to Steele.
Outside, Laura says, "I guess that blows our atomizer theory."
"Indeed. Our suspects not only have their atomizers, but also alibis as well."
"Let's hope '42nd' Street enjoys a long run. The way things are going, you may be celebrating your 42nd birthday before we get to see it."
They get into the Rabbit.
Inside the Flowers house, Nathan is telling Brenda, "Those girls can identify me, Brenda. It is only a matter of time before Steele-Brenda, please listen to me. This is your problem too. If Steele gets to me-"
"I don't want to hear about it, Nathan," Brenda tells him. "Do what you HAVE to do! Only just get us out of this." She walks away, leaving a worried Nathan behind.
At Laura's loft, Steele opens the door to reveal the place has been tossed. Laura is furious. "All right. That's it. That's the last straw. I don't care if it IS a matter of life and death. Those girls have worn out their welcome."
"Laura," Steele says from the doorway.
"I could STRANGLE them!"
"When I get through with them-"
"Where are they?" he asks.
Laura stops, looks around. She turns toward the bar between the living area and kitchen, peers over it.
Mildred is wrapped in a shower curtain, the girls are clad in towels as they sit on the sofa. "Oh, Mr. Steele," she says, "it was SO humiliating." The girls nod.
"Was it the man YOU thought was Myron?" Laura wants to know of the girls.
"He had on this, like- blue ski mask," Toni tells her. "And-"
"Sunglasses," Terri interjects.
"SUNGLASSES?" Toni says.
"The guy was wearing sunglasses."
"No way, Ray," Toni insists.
Laura looks at Mildred. "Mildred, did you get a good look at him?"
"I'm sorry, Miss Holt. All I remember is the mask."
"Well," Steele tells them, "the most important thing is that you're all safe. You'd better get dressed before you catch your death of cold. Go on," he tells the girls.
Mildred stands up. "Mr. Steele-"
"You don't think any the less of me, do you boss? I mean, now that you've seen me-"
"Oh, of course not, Mildred. Rest assured. I did the gentlemanly thing. I averted my eyes."
"Oh, bless you, Mr. Steele." She moves off. "All right, girls, brains before beauty."
Steele joins Laura, who's gone into the kitchen. "Why didn't the masked man kill them?" she wonders "Why did he make them take their clothes off? It doesn't make any sense."
"Unfortunately sense is the one thing we're sorely lacking in this case, Laura," he comments. Laura starts straightening the kitchen as he sits there. "Unless," he says, and stands patting his pockets till he comes up with the atomizer. "He was looking for- THIS."
Laura takes it. "And what is so important about this thing? It has no distinguishing marks, no monogram."
"Speaking of distinguishing marks, did you happen to notice, did you happen to notice the unique placement of the tattoo on Toni's-"
"It was Terri, and I thought you averted your eyes?" Laura questions.
"Ah, yes, well, a detective's trained eye CAN be a nagging problem at times, Laura," he hedges. "Never a moment's rest." He looks toward the bathroom.
"I wonder what's in this thing?" Laura muses as Steele sniffs some red carnations on the counter.
Laura sprays the flowers with the atomizer, and they watch, horrified, as the flowers wilt before their eyes. "Good Lord," Steele says, stepping back.
"Uh. That could have been you, Mr. Steele," she tells him.
"Or you, Miss Holt. We've been carrying that damned thing around for the last twenty-four hours. The bloody thing's lethal."
"We'll have it analyzed," Laura declares, coming around to join him. "And we'd better look into Johnson's autopsy. I have a feeling a blow to the head wasn't what did him in after all."
Steele gives the carnations another wary glance before tightening his tie to follow her.
In the office, Laura is on the telephone as Steele watches. "Yes," she tells someone on the other end. "Thank you very much." She hangs up. "The atomizer was filled with poison," she confirms.
"For that daisy fresh breath, no doubt," Steele adds. Mildred comes into the room, carrying some papers. "Ah, Mildred. How are our charges holding up?"
"They're in Miss Holt's office, trying to convince Morgan Fairchild's manicurist to postpone her daughter's celebration until tomorrow afternoon," she tells them. Steele grunts. "Here's the Johnson autopsy report," she says, handing him the paper, which Laura grabs out of his hand.
"Thanks, Mildred," he says. Mildred hesitates, curious about Miss Holt's actions. Steele points toward his eyes, and Mildred goes on.
Laura reads the report. "I was right. Johnson was poisoned by a mixture of ingredients found in most laboratories."
"Ah." He holds up the atomizer. "Which makes this little gem a murder weapon."
"Yes, but whose is it? Chip, Brenda, and Nathan Fitz still have their atomizers."
"Therefore, it obviously belongs to Myron Flowers. And if he was half as obsessed about his breath as his intimates were, then the murderer obviously thought he had a fool proof plan."
"And since Myron didn't fall for it, he simply adopted plan B and shot him."
"Then used the atomizer to get rid of Johnson," Steele suggests.
"Now. If you were the murderer, where would you go to get your hands on the ingredients to MAKE the deadly poison?" Laura asks.
Back at the Flowers building, Laura and Steele walk through a corridor. They're both wearing white lab coats, and carrying clip boards. Steele pauses before a door and picks the lock. Someone passes at the end of the hall. Steele stops, looks at Laura's clipboard, then turns back to the door and opens it.
Inside, Laura consults her clipboard, looking for the poison ingredients. "What are you looking for?" Steele asks, probably intending to help.
"Methoxychlor, bi-scidoxiclumerine, hexachlorocyclohexane."
Steele nods. "Piece of cake," he muses.
Suddenly they hear a key in the lock of the door and hide behind a shelf. Miss Evans, Myron's secretary comes in. A moment later, Chip enters the lab and says through the door into the corridor, "This shouldn't take too long, Miss Evans. Plan on working with me for an hour or so." He closes the door. "Nancy." He rushes to her.
"Chip," she says, and they start to kiss, moaning loudly as Steele and Laura peek at them. "Chip," Nancy says at last. "Chip, stop. I have to ask you something."
He removes his coat. "Let's talk later, Nance. We only have an hour."
He kisses her again, as Nancy tries to stop him, moaning all along.
Laura notices a bottle of methoxychlor on the shelve behind them. She points it out to Steele, who's more interested in the scene going on between Nancy and Chip.
"You had a fight with your dad, didn't you?" Nancy asks.
"Don't lie to me. I heard him tell his lawyer that he'd been betrayed by his own flesh and blood. He said he had vipers in his nest, and he was going to clear them out once and for all."
"Are you thinking what I think you're thinking?" Chip asks.
"I don't KNOW what to think, Chip, I'm scared."
Laura sees a bottle of hexachlorocyclohexane and points it out.
"Nancy, just calm down. Relax." He kisses her again.
"Okay, so we had a shouting match. Big deal. It wasn't like it was the first time. I mean, you know what a wild man he was." He starts kiss her again.
"It was about us, right? He found out about us, didn't he? He was going to cut you out of the will. He said so." Steele looks at Laura.
Chip looks at Nancy. "I didn't kill him. The old bird was my father." He kisses her again, and this time she responds. He bends her over the table, knocking over equipment.
As we hear moaning and such, Laura frowns. "I've seen enough," she whispers to Steele.
"On the contrary, I don't think we've seen anything, yet," he muses.
Laura pushes him toward a side door. They exit the room unseen as Chip and Nancy continue their "meeting".
In the hallway, Steele asks, "Do you think Chip killed Myron?"
"It's a possibility."
"This case has been deceptively irritating from the outset. I suggest we move cautiously. Get a second opinion."
"Whose?" Laura asks.
Nathan is on the telephone in his office. "Tillema," he's saying. "T-i-l-l-"
"-e-m-a," Mildred finishes. "I got it. Mr. Tillema, the answering service shouldn't have given you this number." The girls are sitting across the room.
"Tillema?" Toni says. "Wait a minute! Wasn't he casting director in the 'Attack of the terrible snapping things'?" she asks Terri.
Terri and Toni rush over to the desk as Mildred tries to talk. "I can't hear you. I'm sorry, just a moment-"
Terri grabs the phone out of her hands. Mildred grabs the cord. "Mr. Tillema, Mr. Tillema-"
Mildred pulls the phone away and says, "Mr. Tillema, the girls are booked for the foreseeable future."
"Don't listen to her!" Toni yells. "We'll do it!"
"Whatever it is!" Terri adds.
"Hold, just one moment, please," Mildred tells Tillema, and lowers the receiver. "Now listen to me, you overgrown Shirley Temples. It is MY job to see to it that you live long enough to play character parts."
"But you don't understand," Terri insists. "We have been bouncing around this town for six whole months!"
"Knocking on doors."
"Singing our hearts out!"
"Dancing our feet off."
"And what do we have to show for it?" Terri asks.
"Corns," Mildred replies, dead pan.
"We're practically over the hill," Toni says.
"Wiped out," Toni finishes.
"All right. I've got the perfect part for you," Mildred tells them, smiling.
"Yeah?" the girls ask.
"You can play a couple of corpses. You walk out that door, and that part's yours permanently. Now PARK it!" she orders, pointing to the sofa.
Mildred returns to the phone. "Hello, Mr. Tillema, I'm awfully sorry to keep you waiting."
"That's quite alright. I am very determined," Nathan insists. The door opens to admit Steele and Laura. Nathan hangs up.
"Ah. Mr. Fitz."
"Mr. Steele. What a surprise."
"We need to ask you a few questions," Laura says.
"Questions? Oh, uh, come in. Come in." They enter the room, closing the door behind them.
"We believe we know who murdered Myron Flowers," Laura tells him.
Nathan's wary. "You do?"
"Yes," Steele confirms. "Domestic homicide, it seems. Classic case." Nathan sinks into a chair. "Greed. Passion."
"I knew you'd get to the bottom of it. It was just a matter of time," he says, sounding defeated.
"Mr. Fitz, you've known Chip all his life," Laura begins.
Nathan looks sad. "Yes. And I know he'll never forgive me for this."
"We don't mean for you to condemn him in any way, but in your heart of hearts, do you believe he could murder his father over Nancy Evans?"
Nathan looks up at Steele, confused. He looks at Laura. "Chip? What-? Chip," he repeats, as if suddenly realizing who the killer is. "Yes, of course. Chip. And Nancy." He rises from the chair, given a new lease on life. "Yes. Yes, oh, now it all makes sense."
"How so, Mr. Fitz?" Laura questions.
"Well, um, Myron had plans- ambitious plans for Chip. But-he never approved of his relationship with Nancy. He thought she was- too common for him. Naturally, Chip tried to keep his relationship with her a secret, but- uh, they're kids, and when kids are in love-"
"Yes," Steele agrees. "We know. All the world's a stage." Laura frowns.
"Please, don't misunderstand me," Nathan insists sadly. "I love that boy like a son, but- he's impulsive. As a matter of fact, I heard him this morning making plane reservations."
"Where to?" Laura asks.
"Singapore, I think he said."
Laura looks at Steele. "How hard would it be to disappear in that part of the world?"
"Especially with twenty-five million in cab fare," Steele notes. He stands. "Mr. Fitz, I'm sorry you had to hear the news like this. I'm sure it must come as a bit of a shock."
Fitz looks upset as he shakes Steele's hand. "I'll cope, Mr Steele."
"Good man," Steele says. "Good man."
Nathan sees them out, and nearly collapses in relief, then goes to a phone hidden inside a drawer and dials a number. "Yes. Hello. Is this Petula? . . . Yes, this is Mr. Tillema again. Do you expect Toni and Terri to check in? . . . Well, listen, when they do, would you tell them to meet me at 1209 Desmond Estates . . . Yes, I've got something really juicy for them." He hangs up and gets a gun from the desk, slipping a clip into it.
At the Flowers house, Steele is confronting Chip, as Laura and Brenda look on. "And so," Steele summarizes, "returning to your father's office to retrieve the poisoned atomizer, you had no alternative but to shoot him when you realized your original plan had failed. But then, upon leaving the scene of the crime, you encountered two singing telegram girls. Knowing that they could identify you, you followed them, and then tried to kill them in my office."
Chip laughs. "That's a great story, Steele. Unfortunately, it isn't true. I didn't shoot my father."
"We'll see about that, eh?" Steele asks, pacing again. "Yes. We'll see about that." He goes to the door. "This way, girls! Don't be bashful!" he tells Terri and Toni as they enter. "Now. May I introduce to you, Chip Flowers." He looks at the girls, who look confused and uncertain.
"Hi," Toni says.
"How ya doin?" Terri asks.
Laura realizes that something's wrong.
"Yes, well, closer, girls, take a good look." He pushes them toward Chip. "I imagine it was a trifle dark last night."
"I thought you said the guy was gonna be here?" Toni asks.
"Take a good look," Steele insists, nervous now. "I want you to be absolutely positive."
"Him?" Toni says, pointing to Chip.
"There! You see?" Steele says.
"I've never seen that guy before in my life," Toni insists.
"Me either," Terri agrees.
"That's impossible," Steele tells them.
Laura is thoughtful now. "Mr. Steele, perhaps we'd better-"
But Steele isn't ready to concede defeat. "Everything points to him! I mean, his father cut him out of his will because he disapproved of Chip's liaison with Nancy!"
Brenda jumps up, furious. She puts an arm around Chip. "You have got one minute to get OUT of this house," she informs Steele.
The girls take off, as Laura tries to salvage the situation. "Please, try to understand, Mrs. Flowers, Mr. Steele is known for his rather unorthodox methods. I assure you, he's not accusing anyone. He's merely attempting to- eliminate suspects."
"Well, I don't exactly like the way this guy works," Chip informs them. "In fact . . "
The girls are on the telephone in the next room. Toni is saying, "Fantastic. Thanks, Petula!" She hangs up. "Mr. Tillema called again. He wants us to come over for an audition!"
"I have a feeling about this."
"Me to. We're gonna knock 'em dead," Terri declares. They get up and take off.
"You can't expect text book logic from every case," Laura is telling Steele as they approach the limo. "If we missed something, we'll find it. Even if we have to go back to square one."
"Square one? I've never gone backwards in my life," Steele insists as Laura gets into the limo.
Inside, Mildred asks, "How'd it go, Boss?"
"You may be witnessing Steele's last case, Mildred," he informs her glumly.
"Oh. That bad, huh?"
Laura looks alarmed. "Mildred, where are the girls?"
"I thought they were with you?"
"No, they left us."
"Well, they didn't come out the front. I would have seen them," Mildred says.
"Then they must have slipped out the back," Steele realizes.
"But where would they go?" Laura wonders.
Mildred snaps her fingers and picks up the phone. "Hello?
. . . Who's this? . . . Petula. Oh, good . . . This is Mildred
Krebs of the William Morris Agency." Laura looks at Steele
as Mildred continues. "No, I won't. The William Morris Agency
never holds . . . Now listen, I got a deal in turnaround here
and Metro wants to take an option on it. And I think Terri and
Toni would be absolutely perfect for the part . . . What? I KNOW
they've got other offers. Do you think the William Morris Agency
would want them if they didn't? . . . Now, where can I find them?
. . . 1209 Desmond Estates," she tells Fred.
"Thanks, kid." She hangs up. "Hit it, Fred."
The girls enter an empty house. "Hello? Mr. Tillema? Hello? Is anybody home?"
"How do you like that?" Toni asks. "The guy stiffed us."
"Not quite," Nathan calls out. They turn as he fires at them. The girls scream and take off.
Nathan chases them. They climb a ladder up to the roof, and Nathan passes it by, not knowing they've gone up. He winds up at the pool, and sees them on the roof. He takes another shot at them, and they start throwing things at him before scampering away again.
The limo pulls into the drive of the house. As they get out of the car, they hear two shots. "Stay put, Mildred!" Steele orders, and takes off with Laura.
They go around the side of the house.
The girls climb off the roof, and as they start toward the corner, Terri grabs a garbage can lid as Nathan appears to shoot again. She and Toni throw the lids at him like Frisbees, making their escape.
They get back into the house, and Nathan's right behind them. They run into Steele and Laura. "He's behind us!" they scream.
"WHO!?" Steele asks.
Laura grabs a stick and when Nathan comes to the corner, she knocks the gun from his hand. Steele presses him against the wall. "Fitz?" Steele says.
"Fitz?" Laura repeats.
"YEAH," the girls say. "Fitz."
Steele looks at them. "Okay, okay, I give up!" Fitz cries. "I did it! I shot Myron Flowers!"
"Oh, stop groveling, Fitz and have some dignity, for heaven's sake," Steele says.
Mildred runs up. "Mr. Steele. Miss Holt."
"What is it, Mildred?"
"The coroner just called. Myron Flowers didn't die of gunshot wounds after all," she tells them, out of breath.
"Oh, good Lord," Steele moans. "Isn't anything routine anymore?"
"What did he die of?" Laura asks.
"He was poisoned."
"Poisoned?" Steele repeats.
"Poisoned?" Fitz says.
"Why would Fitz poison Myron and then shoot him?" Laura wonders.
"I didn't poison him and then shoot him. I just- shot him."
"That means you shot a dead man, Fitz," Steele explains.
"Yeah," Toni said. "Just like showbiz, Fitz."
"It's all in the timing," Terri adds.
"Does that mean I'm innocent?" Fitz asks Steele.
"Not quite," Steele tells him, then looks at Laura.
"What DOES it mean?" she wonders.
We see the giant atomizer again outside of Myron's office window. "It means," he tells those gathered, "That we go back. Not to square one, but to square three. Brenda, Fitz, and Chip are there. "Fitz shot Myron, all right, but only AFTER he'd been poisoned."
Brenda looks up at Fitz. "But why would you poison him if you were going to shoot him?"
"How many times do I have to say it? I didn't poison him," Fitz insists. "I just shot him."
"Then who poisoned him?" Brenda asks Steele.
Steele turns to Laura, scratching his ear as he asks, "Do we have an answer?"
Laura looks thoughtful. "We're going to look awfully foolish if we don't," she whispers. To the others, she says, "Obviously, it was a man."
"How do we know it was a man?"
"A man with a ski mask broke into my loft," she reminds him.
"And any fool knows it wasn't Fitz, since he would have murdered Toni and Terri, knowing that they could identify him."
"Which means," Laura continues, "That the intruder was looking for something."
"The poisoned atomizer," Steele suggests.
Chip is getting nervous.
"And in order to poison the atomizer, he had to have access to the lab," Laura says.
"Chip!" Brenda whines.
"Chip," Fitz says.
"Seems our Mr. Steele was right after all," Laura says, patting his shoulder.
Steele smiled, feeling vindicated.
Brenda frowns, distraught, and uses her breath spray. "Oh, dear. I couldn't run away with a man who's a murderer."
"You couldn't?" Fitz and Chip both ask in surprise.
"It wasn't Chip and Nancy Myron found out about," Laura realizes. "It was Chip and Brenda."
"Apparently Brenda had one too many Flowers in her bouquet. Myron had to go," Steele explains.
"I told you I would take care of Myron, Chip," Brenda says.
"You told me Myron found out about us," Nathan says.
"Yes," Steele agrees. "But what better way to manipulate you into murdering the one person that stood between her and the man she really loved?"
"You've been had, Fitz," Laura says as Fitz uses his breath spray. "She never planned to run away with you. It was Chip she wanted. And what about Nancy?" she asks Chip. "What were you going to do about her?"
Nancy enters, asking, "That's what I'd like to know. I loved you, Chip. You loved me."
"Yeah, but, not like I love Brenda. She's like- I don't know, she's - something else."
"She certainly is," Laura agrees angrily. "She's busted."
Chip nervously uses his spray, then pushes Nancy into Laura and makes his escape onto the balcony and to the roof. Steele chases him. They struggle on the ladder up to the billboard. Chip pushes Steele off and continues up. Steele recovers and follows.
Chip tries to climb through the lips, but Steele grabs his ankles.
The others come onto the roof below, watching the struggle. Laura starts working on the control box for the sprayer.
Steele pulls Chip out and has a grip on him when the sprayer sends them both down.
"Sorry," Laura apologizes, and tries again.
Chip knocks Steele over the edge, leaving him hanging over the street far below. He grinds his shoe into Steele's hand, trying to loosen his grip. Laura makes the spray knock Chip back, giving Steele the chance to climb back up.
Chip jumps inside the lips, and Steele follows. We hear a smack, and then Chip comes flying out, unconscious. Steele appears, triumphant, and pulls Chip up.
Nancy yells. "Chip!"
"Nancy," Laura says. "Don't waste your breath."
The girls dance and sing "42nd Street" in Laura's loft as Steele and Laura, wearing tux and evening gown, watch. They applaud when the girls finish.
Steele sighs, tearing up the tickets he bought. "Somehow I thought when you said that we'd celebrate my birthday with 42nd Street and then champagne at your place, I had an entirely different evening in mind."
The music starts again as Mildred brings some champagne over on a tray. "We have the best seats in the house, Mr. Steele," Laura tells him.
"You know, Boss, I think they have real potential."
"Oh, you have a keen eye for talent, Mildred," Steele tells her. "Keen eye."
"Thanks, Chief," Mildred says, moving away.
Laura places a hand on his leg. "Cheer up, Mr. Steele. Birthdays have a way of rolling around, year after year."
"Oh. Even a real birthday could not be as memorable as this one, Miss Holt. Cheers." They try to intertwine their arms to drink, but Steele can't reach his glass.