At L'ornate restaurant, a man wearing a tuxedo shows a couple out of the building. "Bon soir," he wishes. "And God bless."
"Great table, Pierre," the man says, handing Pierre some money. "I loved the baowolf," he says.
"The Bisque L'ornate," Pierre corrects with a smile.
"Yeah. The meatloaf," the man continues boorishly.
"It is always a pleasure to serve true gourmets," Pierre tells them, watching as they go to their car. Once they are gone, his smile fades, and he turns back to the restaurant. Busboys and waiters are cleaning up. "Lock up," he orders someone in a short tone of voice as he continues through the dining room. A waiter is removing his coat, and gets in Pierre's way. Pierre finally manages to pass him. The waiter shrugs.
Pierre removes his jacket as he enters the kitchen, stopping as a bearded man appears. "Teus," he says.
Teus holds up a magazine. "Tomorrow's Food", the title reads. "You saw?" he asks.
"I saw," Pierre informs him grimly.
Another man appears. " Rudizio," Teus says.
"First," Rudizio moans, "Dick L'Orange impoverishes us," he declares, indicating the magazine in his own hands. "Then, he deceives us."
"Whatever our differences in the past," Teus tells the two men, "Now, we must act together. There is only one answer to such deception," he says, picking up a knife as Pierre and Rudizio look on.
"It will be difficult to find L'Orange," Rudizio tells him.
"There are bribes," Pierre insists. "More forceful methods."
"It will be risky," Reduchio continues.
"So is the restaurant business," Pierre reminds him. "Eh?"
"L'Orange must die," Teus declares.
"L'Orange must die," Rudizio agrees.
Pierre nods. "L'Orange must die," he says simply.
Steele is on the telephone in his office, speaking softly. "Has it really been that long?" eh asks as the intercom buzzes insistently. "Oh, Eloise, how could I forget a warmth as radiant as yours, eh?" he asks, trying to ignore the buzzing, signaling for it to stop. "Sorry. Seems to be a fly in the office," he tells Eloise, moving slightly away from the intrusion. "As you were saying . . . " He pushes the phone away from him. "Huh? . . . Oh, listen, Eloise, we can make up for it tomorrow night, eh?" he suggests as the buzzing becomes more frequent. "Candle light, cold bird, chardonnay-" he frowns as the door opens and Mildred comes in.
"Your buzzer must be broken, Chief," she tells him.
Steele covers the receiver. "Mildred!" he cries.
"I'm sorry, but the client's waiting!" she tells him.
"Yes, I know, but one client at a time, please!" he hisses.
Mildred backs out. "Sorry, boss," she apologizes, grimacing.
"Eight o'clock?" he asks Eloise. "My place? . . . Okay, Eloise. Thank you. Bye." He hangs up, pleased with his plans. He gets up.
In her office, Laura is on the phone. "Well, to tell you the truth, Bill, I can't quite place you . . . There were a lot of people there, and-" There's a knock on the connecting door to Steele's office. Laura obviously is trying to find a way out of the conversation. "Um, ah, I do remember some idiot spilled punch on my dress-" she grimaces. "Oh. I see," she says, smiling, embarrassed now. "No, no, I wouldn't dream of letting you pay for my cleaning bill," she tells him. The knocking gets louder. "JUST A MINUTE!" Laura calls out. "Uh, dinner? Tonight?"
Steele bursts in. "Laura, a client awaits," he informs her.
"I'm on the phone," she informs him, then realizes that he's not going to leave the room and give her any privacy. Smiling, she turns back to her unwanted suitor. "Uh, Bill? You were saying?" she asks, suddenly all sweetness and sounding interested.
Steele is impatient. "Miss Holt- we are conducting a business. The client requires-"
Laura laughs delightedly and sits down at her desk.
"-our attention!" he insists.
Laura laughs. "Yes, of course I'd love to have dinner with you, Bill," she tells him. Steele flops into a chair beside the door. "Seven will be fine," she says. "Bye." She hangs up and takes a long, deep sigh, closing her eyes.
"Who's the lucky fellow?" Steele asks.
"Bill? I met him at a party."
"YOU go to parties?" Steele questions in surprise.
"Of COURSE I go to parties," she replies.
"Yes. Of course you do."
She points to the door. "Shall we?" she asks, getting up and walking toward the door. "The client awaits," she reminds him.
Steele gets up and follows her into his office. "Yes, of course."
A blonde woman is awaiting for them. "My associate, Laura Holt," he introduces. "Phyllis Lewis, publisher of 'Tomorrow's Food'."
"Ah," Laura nods.
Steele points to a chair. "Please, madam. Do take a seat," he tells Phyllis.
"Thank you," Phyllis says, sitting down. Steele sits behind his desk, Laura perches on the edge. "Miss Holt. Do you know our little magazine?"
"I couldn't help but notice the cover story last month," Laura admits. "'Fun Things to Do With Whipped Cream'?"
Steele leans forward, grinning. "Tell me, was that model wearing anything under the whipped cream?"
"Chocolate sauce, no doubt," Laura informs him.
"Miss Holt, perhaps you haven't realized, we are living in a new age," Phyllis declares. "'You are what you eat' is no longer mere nutritional advice. It's a social dictum."
"Snob eating?" Steele suggests.
"Exactly. This is the era of raspberry vinegar, Polish lettuce, mushrooms ferreted out by Asiatic clergy . . ."
"What happened to home cooking?" Laura asks.
"Oh, it's still done," Phyllis tells her. "In the- frumpier homes. This compulsion to eat fashionably, Mr. Steele, is what's brought me to you. My restaurant critic, my dictator of what restaurant is in and what restaurant is out, is missing."
"You know him?" Laura asks.
"L'Orange- a pseudonym, I assume- specializes in skewering high style eating establishments," he tells Laura. "Rakes them over the coals, so to speak."
Phyllis nods. "The readers adore him. But his review for the next issue is two weeks late. We go to press in three days, Mr. Steele. If I don't find L'Orange, I'm out of business."
"Did you call him?" Steele asks.
"Oh, he would never give us his number."
"Have you tried dropping by his home?" Laura asks.
"He wouldn't tell us where he lived," Phyllis admits.
"Well," Steele asks, "do you at least have a publicity photo of him?"
"No, he'd never allow his photograph to be taken. He wants to keep his identity completely secret. So he won't receive any special treatment when he goes to a restaurant."
"Can you give us a tiny hors d'oeuvre of a lead?" Laura asks.
"We pay him by money order. We forward his pay and his mail to a box at Personal Touch." Laura nods. "I'll pay you whatever you ask, Mr. Steele. The future of 'Tomorrow's Food' is in your hands. Dick L'Orange could be sick, or dead- or God forbid, he could be working for another magazine!"
Steele drives Laura in the Auburn, as he says, "Tell me. uh. what's this friend. umm. what's his name - Bill - what's his last name?"
"Smith," Laura supplies.
"And what does this 'Bill Smith' do for living?"
"He is a certified public accountant."
"Honorable profession", Steele nods. "You could spend the evening counting debits. Hmmm." He's half-laughing at his own joke.
"And credits," Laura points out.
Steele parks the Auburn in the parking lot of "Personal Touch". They get out and start inside. "Don't tell me you're staying home alone tonight, Mr. Steele," Laura comments.
"As a matter of fact, I'm having dinner with a fascinating woman named Eloise," he informs her, slinging his coat over his shoulder.
"Mm hmm. She's a stockbroker. Ouch," he declares, stopping to remove a pebble from his shoe. "An MBA from Harvard. A whiz at the Big Board."
"I didn't realize you were so interested in the Big Board," Laura notes, taking a newspaper from her purse and opening it up.
Across the parking lot, two men sit in a run down car, watching the shop.
Laura enters and goes to the clerk behind the counter. Steele enters behind her, looking nonchalant. Laura smiles at the clerk. "Hi," she says. "I was um, thinking of renting a box," she tells him.
"Here's an application," he says, handing it to her. Laura puts the newspaper on the counter.
"Thank you," she tells him.
Steele wanders over to the boxes and turns his back toward the counter.
The clerk notices that the newspaper Laura put no the counter is "Singles, Etc." "You're gonna place an ad?" he asks.
"Oh, I think so," Laura confesses as Steele sets to work picking the lock on L'Orange's mailbox. "But I'm having trouble with the words," she tells him, opening her purse and pulling out a paper. "Tell me how this sounds." The clerk looks past her to where Steele's working. She starts reading, getting his attention quickly back to her. "Sexy, seething fem, longing for your touch. Um, the kind of woman who knows what a man wants and is there with it before he asks . . ."
One of the men in the car outside is using a pair of binoculars to watch Steele. "Uncle Pierre was right," he tells his friend. "It WAS worth the wait," he says, handing him the glasses.
"Tonight, our uncle will make us his partners," the second man declares. They are smiling.
The first man gets out of the car.
Steele takes the mail from L'Orange's box.
The Frenchman goes to the payphone. "We found him," he tells someone. "WE found Dick L'Orange."
"He must be the strong, silent type," Laura continues to read from her "singles ad".
"I'm silent," The clerk tells her nervously.
"Shh," Laura admonishes.
Steele, carrying the mail, approaches the Auburn, noticing the two men there already. "Hello," he says, dropping his jacket inside. "Yeah, it's an Auburn," he tells them proudly. "People stop and ask me all the time. It's a 1936. V-8. Supercharged. Pretty, isn't she?" he asks, then hears switchblades. He looks at them, frowning. "Does this mean you want to take a spin, or merely take the hubcaps?" he asks. They move closer. "This is- uh, Fellas-" he tosses the mail at them, startling them.
He disarms one of them, and that one takes off. Steele then knocks the second man to the ground.
Laura is still reading. "Must be a black belt in karate, break-dance," she says, and the clerk nods. "Love to discuss Schopenhauer."
"My brother drives one," he says.
Laura sighs. "You were SO close," she tells him.
The men run around the corner of the building, running into Laura as she comes out. They head for their car as Steele runs around the corner, chasing them. He gets to Laura as they peel out of the lot.
"What was that all about?" Laura asks, lost.
"Yes, they came out of nowhere," he tells her. "We must be closer to L'Orange than we think," he says, looking at one of the knives that he's holding.
At the office, Steele, Laura, and Mildred are going through the mail from L'Orange's box.
"Circulars, invitations, competing magazines." Laura says.
Mildred smells a package and cringes, "Yuck! What's this?"
Steele puts down his share of the mail, takes the box, "Hmm?" He smells it and cringes, too. "Oh. Cheese of the month, Mildred," he reads what the package says. "Last month's." He looks around and throws the box in the furthest corner of the office.
"From 'Eager Reader'," Laura says. "No return address. Forwarded from the magazine a week ago."
"'A Passionate Admirer'. Likewise," Mildred reads.
Steele looks at one. "'A True Friend'."
"Dear Dick," Laura reads. "You must try more of my dolce. F.R."
"Dolce?" Mildred asks.
"Italian sweets, Mildred," Steele explains. "What does 'Passionate Admirer' say?"
"I see that feta decrees more garlic. T. S." She looks confused. "Feta?"
"Greek cheese," Laura tells her. "The 'True Friend', Mr. Steele?"
"Allow me to thicken the sauce. P.F."
"Sounds like restaurateurs asking for a second chance," Laura muses. "If they didn't get it . . ."
"Phyllis Lewis might recognize the initials," Steele suggests. "Let me have that, will you, Laura? Let me have those, Mildred. Please?"
"Alright, bye-bye," he says, leaving.
Mildred sits down. "Now what? I checked my sources. And as far as the government agencies are concerned, Dick L'Orange wasn't born, doesn't work, wasn't in the armed services, doesn't pay taxes, and hasn't died."
Laura is thoughtful. "Because he does that under his real name."
"Right. But we don't KNOW his real name," Mildred reminds her.
"But if he's really missing," Laura realizes, "then he's also MISSING under his real name!" she declares, rushing out of the office, leaving an even more confused Mildred behind with a desk covered in mail.
At Oarney's Express Limited, Hot Dog and Hamburger stand, Phyllis is telling a mustached man who's holding a hot dog, "Michael, could you please look a bit LESS satisfied?"
Michael smiles. "You know me, Phyllis," he says, "Eating is living." He's sitting at a table were there are several hot dogs ready, all numbered.
"Ah, Mrs. Lewis," Steele says, interrupting the photo shoot to shake her hand.
"Mr. Steele," Phyllis says.
"Do I detect a secret craving for- junk food?" he asks.
"We are conducting a blind hot dog eating contest for the magazine," she tells him.
"This is Michael Fleming. My nostalgia editor. Remington Steele," she tells Michael.
The two men shake hands. "Glad you're on the case, Steele," Michael tells him. "If you don't find L'Orange, we'll all be eating on food stamps."
Steele shows Phyllis the letters. "We found these in L'Orange's post-box."
"Oh," she says, looking them over as Steele watches Michael eat a hot dog.
Michael chews, then picks up a small tape recorder to say, "Uh, Number One. Fair texture. A bit mushy. Fine bouquet." Steele frowns in distaste. "A touch too heavy on the bi-glycerin-sorbate." He looks at Steele. "Have a bite?"
"Uh, no thanks," Steele refuses. "Bi-glycerin-sorbate has a tendency to- clog my nasal passages," he says.
Michael takes a drink from a can.
Steele asks Phyllis, "Do any of those initials seem familiar?"
"Well, these Italian initials could stand for Federico Rudizio," she tells him. "Of the Resantes(?) Reduchio."
Michael laughs. "L'Orange really knocked his gnocchi you might say."
"Oh, and these Greek initials must stand for Teus Stravos," Phyllis says. "Of the Eye of Zeus?"
"L'Orange said his moussaka tasted like a moose made it," Michael tells Steele, still laughing.
"And P. F.?" Steele asks.
"This could very well be the most volatile restaurateur in the business, Mr. Steele," Phyllis says. "Pierre Fumar, of L'ornate."
"Wasn't L'Orange's pan-roast of L'ornate published at the same time he disappeared?" Steele asks.
"Yes," Phyllis admits. "I'm afraid it was."
"Thank you," Steele says, taking the letters. "Thank you very much indeed."
"Number two," Michael says into the recorder. "Fair."
Laura enters the police station and goes to the missing persons desk. An overweight officer is standing there and asks, "Sgt. Hackett, Ma'am. You wanna report a missing person?"
"Not exactly. I'm looking for someone. And I'm hoping that someone has reported the person I'm looking for missing."
"It's not easy to explain," Laura sighs.
"Well, how about starting with the name of the person you're looking for," Hackett suggests.
"I'm afraid I don't know that," Laura admits.
"Can you describe him?"
"Well, let's start with an easy one: Is it a man or a woman?"
Laura looks stunned. "I'm not sure."
"TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes, huh?" Hackett asks. "Wait'll the boys hear about this. When am I gonna be on TV?"
"Look, could you just tell me who has been reported missing the last three weeks?"
"The last three weeks," Hackett repeats. "Everyone?"
"Every single person," she insists.
Hackett looks uncertain, Laura gives him a long look.
Steele meets Laura in front of an apartment building. "What's so urgent?" he asks as he parks the Auburn.
"I think I found L'Orange," Laura tells him, indicating that he should follow her.
"That's urgent," he agrees, getting out of the car.
Upstairs, Laura's reading door numbers. "Three ten."
"Listen, what makes you think you've got the right man?" Steele asks.
"Three oh nine. It's not a man. It's a woman. She's been missing for sixteen days. Three oh five. Here." She knocks on the door. As they wait, Laura explains, "Her name is Anna Dix."
"Dick. Dix?" He grins. "That's not much."
Laura points to the lock. "She was born in Orange, New Jersey," She tells him as she takes his lock pick from his sock and she keeps watch.
"She's sixty-three, widowed, a grandmother. Does charity work- a terrific cook."
"Scourge of elite eating, eh?" Steele questions, working the lock.
"I tracked down a daughter," Laura tells him. "She takes her children to the best restaurants in town, and she says she gets reimbursed." Steele gets the door open, peeks inside. He looks around the hall, then opens the door for them.
"Really? Come on."
Inside, they each find copies of "Tomorrow's Food" laying around. "Snap," Steele comments. He finds a photo of an elderly woman and a little girl. "Ah. Sweet," he says.
They go into the kitchen. Steele turns on the lights to reveal evidence of an explosion around the stove. "Good Lord!" Laura says.
The two of them inspect the kitchen. Steele looks in the refrigerator, and finds a wilted bunch of celery. Laura finds a cat in the cupboard. "Oh," Laura says. "Oh, oh, goodness. Kitty, kitty," she says, picking the animal up. "Wait a minute. Who's feeding the cat?"
Steele opens the fridge again, and takes out a foil topped can of cat food. Laura brings the cat over. The animal paws at Steele's arm, smelling the food. "Is this yours?" Steele asks. The cat starts eating.
"It's fresh," Laura notes.
"Yes. It is."
At fifteen til six, Laura is reading a children's book as Steele looks out of the window. "How long have you known the stock broker?" she asks.
"Eloise? Oh, about a month or two," he admits.
"You must be very close by now," she notes.
"Actually, I haven't seen that much of her," Steele says, loosening his tie.
"Yes. Yes. You two might have a lot in common," Steele tells her.
Laura sighs as if she doubts that.
Almost an hour later, Steele is playing some kind of game as he sits. Laura is standing behind a dining room chair, bending over the back of it. Steele glances at her. "Tell me, what's Bill like?"
"I don't really know him that well."
"Uh humm. Tell me, would uh, would he and I have anything in common?" he asks.
He looks at her as she looks at him and comes closer. "I don't think so. I get the feeling he's, um, different than you."
"In what way?" Steele asks, frowning and rising to join her in the doorway.
Laura's uncertain, nervous. "Um, he seems more open. More in touch with his feelings. No tacky mystery about him."
Suddenly Steele grabs her, covering her mouth with his hand and drags her out of sight. Laura grabs at his hands, grunting.
"Nothing personal, Miss Holt," Steele assures her.
A woman enters the apartment through the window. "Here Princess," she calls. "Here Princess." She goes into the kitchen.
Steele and Laura follow her.
The woman pulls open the refrigerator, and the lights come on in the room. She drops the cat food and screams, running to grab a rolling pin. "Mrs. Dix?" Laura asks. "Really, you can trust us," Laura tries to reassure her.
"You stay away," Anna tells them. "Get away."
"We're here to help you," Laura tells her.
"You people are ruthless. First you try to kill me with the stove, then you try to kill me with your sauces."
"No, Mrs. Dix, we're private investigators, really. This is Laura Holt, I'm Remington Steele," Steele says quickly, as Laura gets out her I.D.
"Your identity is safe with us," Laura tells the woman.
"It is?" Anna asks. Laura nods earnestly. Anna sighs in relief. "Would you like some tea?" she asks.
"Love it," Laura agrees with a smile.
Anna turns to the remains of her stove, finding the kettle. Laura finds a matchbook from L'ornate and shows it to Steele in silence. His eyes widen.
As they have the tea, Steele asks Anna, "You don't know who's trying to kill you, eh?"
"Well, one night, I thought someone had followed me home from my box at Personal Touch. And I got really frightened. I was afraid I'd ruined my cover. The next night, when I arrived home, I turned the stove on, I came back into the living room here, picked up the groceries to take them back in, and- Ka Boom. My kitchen blew up behind me. I mean, that's all I know. I went into hiding. I didn't want to lead them to my family."
"Where have you been staying all this time?" Steele asks.
"Um, with a friend," she admits, picking up her tea up "At a senior citizen's home. I sneak into his room late at night." She looks embarrassed. "But I can't do that anymore. Oh, I need to get some sleep."
Steele glances at Laura, who laughs softly. "Uh, Mrs. Dix. Did you bring this home from L'ornate?" she asks, holding up the matchbook.
"No," Anna says, taking it. "I never bring matchbooks home. I'm afraid of fires."
Laura and Steele return to the office. "Case closed?" Mildred asks.
"Case more serious," Laura informs her. Steele sits down on the sofa. "Someone's trying to kill her."
Mildred is surprised. "She's at Miss Holt's," Steele tells her, kicking off his shoes. "Can you stay with her tonight, Mildred?"
"Just what I need on my diet. Watch dogging a gourmet cook."
"Well, while you're feasting at home, Miss Holt and I will be busy pursuing our quarry at L'ornate," he tells her.
Laura's uncertain. "You don't really think Fumar would have left his own matchbook at the scene of the crime," she says.
"Somebody did," Steele points out.
"All right, all right. Bill and I will have dinner there tonight," she decides. "And I'll see if I can- sink my teeth into something."
Steele sits up. "But Laura, we're a team," he reminds her. "We do our best work together."
"Well, we'll uh- what do you Americans call it?-we'll double-date."
Mildred looks at Laura as Laura shakes her head. "No, no. This American calls that planned lunacy." Steele gets up.
"Laura, you'll love Eloise. She'll love you. I'll love Bill, and he'll love me."
"Sounds like a love feast," Mildred comments.
Laura looks worried.
Later, in Laura's loft, Anna brings a plate to the table where Mildred's waiting. "I made some biscuits to go with the sherry," she tells Mildred.
"Oh, why thank you," Mildred says, pouring the sherry. "But I don't think I should have any." She hesitates as Anna pushes the plate closer. "Well, maybe just one." The door buzzer goes off. "I'll get it!"
"No, no, no," Laura insists, hopping down the stairs as she tries to put on her shoes. "It's my funeral," she declares. "Debits, credits," she mutters, passing Mildred to open the door.
A very handsome man is standing there, smiling. "Hi," he says. "Do you remember me now?"
Laura is impressed. "Credits," says.
"I beg your pardon?"
She laughs, embarrassed. "Uh, you look much taller when I don't have punch all over my dress," she tells him. Lifting a finger, she turns to grab her purse and tell the women, "Don't wait up for me." She and Bill leave.
In the Auburn, Steele is saying to an attractive brunette, "I do hope you're hungry, Eloise. We are going to one of the better restaurants in town."
"Marvelous," Eloise tells him. "I haven't eaten a bite since you called."
Steele glances at her with a smile. "Oh. Frantic day at the brokerage?"
"No," she tells him. "I wanted to fit into this dress."
"And you do," Steele assures her. "You certainly do, Eloise."
In Bill's sports car, Laura tells him, "You're being awfully gracious, Bill, about this change in plans."
"Not at all. One thing you'll find out about me, Laura, I like to stay open to new experiences."
"You may find Mr. Steele a bit- unusual."
"Not a chance. That's another thing you'll find out about me. I'm not judgmental."
Laura smiles. "Oh."
"I am looking forward to meeting your associate," Eloise tells Steele.
He laughs. "Yes. I'm looking forward to that, too. Actually, Miss Holt was rather surprised that I'm seeing a person like yourself."
Eloise laughs as well, uncertain. "How did you describe me?"
"I made it clear that you were intelligent, charming, successful-Yes, she might be a bit testy about that," he says with a frown.
"Oh, not to worry. I'm never competitive with other women," Eloise assures him.
Steele's a little disappointed. "You're not?"
At L'ornate, Pierre has haughtily informed Laura and Bill that without a reservation, there will be an hour's wait for a table in the empty restaurant.
As they're standing there, Steele arrives with Eloise on his arm. "Ah, Laura, dear," he says. "Good evening."
Laura turns. "Bill Smith, Remington Steele." The two men shake hands.
"Hello, Bill Smith, how do you do? Yes," Steele says. "Oh. Eloise Fairchild, Laura Holt."
"Hi," Eloise says.
"Pleasure to meet you," Laura replies. As Bill and Eloise shake hands, Laura tells Steele, "Problem. Despite the ravages of L'Orange, there will be at least an hour's wait."
"Oh, really?" Steele says. "Well, not while Eloise is famished, eh?" he asks, and smiles. "What shall we do about this?" he wonders before turning to the reservation book on the stand nearby and picking up the pen. Laura steps closer, watches as he writes in "Steele -4."
Pierre comes over. "Ah, yes," Steele says. "Good evening. The Remington Steele party. I'm sorry if we're running a little bit late."
Pierre glances at the book, then at them. "Of course, Monsieur Steele. Right this way." He moves toward a table. Eloise follows as Laura silently applauds Steele's action. Bill turns to follow the women, and Steele taps him on the shoulder, his smile fading.
Pierre shows them to a table. Laura seats herself, but Eloise waits for Steele to hold her chair. She smiles. "I love when a man does that, don't you?" she sighs.
"Not really," Laura tells her with a smile. She snaps her napkin open in frustration.
Steele pulls a copy of "Tomorrow's Food" from his coat and places it on the table as Pierre stands there. "Business," he tells the restaurateur. Pierre is furious, glaring at Steele.
Steele and Laura look at each other as Pierre goes toward the kitchen, angry. The two men who attacked Steele at Personal Touch are there. "The nerve of that man to wave L'Orange' review in my face," Pierre declares, passing them.
One of the nephews calls him back. "That man. That's HIM!"
"That's who?" Pierre asks.
"That's Dick L'Orange," the other one says.
Pierre stares. "The man at the postbox?"
"Absolutely," his nephew declares in French, satisfied.
Steele looks at the others as a waiter stands by. "Champagne for all, yes?" he asks the others. The waiter moves off.
Pierre glares. "Tonight will be his last meal. Dessert will be on the house."
Pierre gives them some menus. "Come on, Pierre. You can confide in us. You must be ready to murder this L'Orange fellow, eh?"
"He does not phase us, m'sieu," Pierre assures Steele.
"But obviously this review has hurt your business," Laura points out.
Pierre looks at her. "Not at all, madam. Our clientele dines fashionable late," he informs her. Laura looks at Steele.
"All right, Pierre, now, for starters, why don't we have the baby clams in saffron butter," Steele suggests. Eloise smiles at him over her menu. "The warm lobster salad with garlic croutons, and lambed lettuce-" now Bill looks at him with a smile. "The fricassee of tiny shrimps-" Laura sits back, irritated as he continues. "-and scallops, and- the oysters in tiny, tiny beds of lettuce."
"Very good, sir," Pierre agrees.
Laura speaks up. "Perhaps the rest of us would like something else, Mr. Steele," she suggests.
"Not I," Eloise insists. "Whatever Remy orders is fine with me."
Laura looks at Bill. "What about you, Bill?"
"Oh, one thing you'll learn about me, Laura," he says, closing his menu, "I'm flexible."
Laura closes her menu in frustration and hands it to Pierre. Steele asks, "Tell me, Pierre, if this L'Orange fellow were to walk in here now, would you know him?"
Pierre smiles grimly. "Yes, m'sieu. He is so droll. So playful. His sense of humor is beyond comprehension."
Steele is a bit concerned as Pierre moves off. "He almost turned burgundy," Laura comments to Steele. "But if he were the one who planted the bomb, wouldn't he be more circumspect?"
Eloise sighs. "I think Remy's work is so exciting."
"Remy's WORK certainly is," Laura agrees.
Steele's smile is uncertain, and he turns to Bill. "How is the accounting game, Bill?" he asks.
"Well, one thing you'll learn about me. My work comes second. My real goal right now is to get in touch with myself."
Steele looks at him. "Having trouble with your telephone?" he asks in a deadpan voice.
Bill laughs. "I like a guy with a sense of humor," he says. Laura grimaces, a glass of champagne in her hand.
Michael Fleming enters the restaurant and goes to Steele. "Mr. Steele." Steele stands up.
"What a coincidence," Steele comments.
"Not really. Phyllis asked me to track you down. She said you found L'Orange."
Laura stands as Steele pulls Michael aside. "If you'll excuse us for a moment," she says to Bill and Eloise, and she joins Steele and Michael.
"We have found L'Orange," Laura admits. "But he can't come out of hiding yet."
"Why not? We need his reviews."
"Someone is trying to kill him," Steele tells Michael. "As soon as we catch the killer, L'Orange can go out and eat again. Okay?"
"Tell Phyllis we're taking good care of L'Orange," Laura says.
"Yes, all right," Michael agrees, standing there as they return to their table. "I might as well have some dinner," he decides. He looks around, collaring Pierre. "Uh, can I get something- plain?"
"Whatever m'sieu wishes," Pierre says coolly.
The waiter arrives with the food. "Green pasta with the red sauce," Steele says, pointing one of the others, "the black pasta with the white sauce, the white paste with the black sauce, and the green pasta with the black sauce," he finishes. When the waiter places Eloise's plate before her, he knocks over a glass of water. She gasps and stands up.
"Oh, dear, oh dear," Steele frets, coming over to her.
Pierre appears. "I am sorry, madam. I will get a towel."
"Oh, no, don't bother," she insists. "Where is the ladies' room?"
"Allow me," Pierre says, leading her off.
"What rotten bad luck," Steele muses as they sit down again.
Pierre is back. "Excuse moi, does one of you own a red Datsun Z?" he asks.
"I do," Bill admits, smiling. But the smile fades as Pierre continues.
"I'm afraid there has been a little accident in the-" but Bill is already heading toward the door in a panic. Pierre shrugs and leaves.
Steele starts eating. Laura looks from the two empty chairs to him as he says, "Good looking fellow."
"Beautiful girl," Laura returns, also eating.
Pierre is back, and tells Laura, "Excuse me. The other lady asked if you would join her?"
Laura nods. "Oh, certainly. Excuse me." She leaves them.
Pierre looks at Steele. "And what do you think of our humble cuisine tonight, m'sieu?"
"Oh, yes, Pierre. The food is excellent. Everything I've tasted is superb."
"Perhaps you would care to convey your compliments in person?" Pierre suggests archly.
Steele looks at him. "Yes. I'd love to talk to the chef. Why not, hmm?"
Pierre smiles. "Follow me, m'sieu."
"Certainly," Steele says, rising.
They enter the kitchen. "This is our chef," Pierre says as a man wearing a chef's uniform turns, a huge knife in his hands.
"Oh," Steele says, "I just wanted to-" he sees the two nephews, but doesn't recognize them. "I just wanted to say- the food was superb!" he declares, moving around. "Really superb! Everything was very, very, tasty," he is saying. Pierre grabs a knife and stands there. "Keep up the good work, fellas, okay?" he turns to find himself threatened by Pierre and the others, all wielding knives.
"Prepare to meet your maker, M'sieu L'Orange," Pierre tells him, backing Steele up.
"L'Orange?" Steele questions, confused.
"And now we draw the curtain on your nasty little comedy.
"I think that you're making a little mistake," Steele insists, talking quickly. "In fact, we're both making a mistake. You see, I thought you- well, never mind about that, but the fact is, I'm NOT Dick L'Orange. Really. I'm Remington Steele," he says, putting his hand into his coat to pull out some identification.
"No hasty moves," Pierre warns. Steele raises his hands. "I knew when we found you, you would try to weasel out of it like a rat."
"Did anyone ever tell you about mixing your metaphors?" Steele asks. He looks at the table next to him. He picks up a tray. "Or your petit fours, for that matter?"
"DIE, L'Orange!" Pierre declares.
Steele tosses the tray into Pierre's face, then into the chef who's behind him with a cleaver. He kicks another one, then throws flour into the face of someone who's just coming into the kitchen. He grabs a cutting board as Pierre throws his knife. The knife sticks in the wood, barely missing Steele.
Steele takes off, pushing dish trays into their path to delay their pursuit. Finding himself in the dishwashing area, he grabs some plates and uses them as Frisbees. He goes back into the kitchen and climbs onto a table, then uses a hanging light fixture to swing across to the top of a cooler, then out of a window.
He runs down some stairs and into Michael. Steele cries out in alarm, about to hit Michael before he realizes who it is. He lounges against he door, trying to recover. "You sure everything's under control?" Michael asks.
"Oh, yes," Steele assures him. "Absolutely. Absolutely," he repeats. Michael gives him a wide berth to return to the dining room.
Steele sees Pierre and his nephews enter from the kitchen as Laura and Eloise return. He grabs them both to stop them. "We're just leaving," he says.
"But my pasta," Eloise says.
"Ah, yes, terribly overcooked," Steele declares. "Come on." Ignoring their protests, he herds them from the restaurant as an angry Pierre looks on. From the doorway, Steele turns to smile delightedly at Pierre, further angering him.
"You ask me for your shares when the swine is still free?" Pierre asks his nephews. Michael is just outside the kitchen door, listening.
"We handed him to you on a silver platter!" one of them says.
"Is it our fault you cannot carve?" the other asks.
"Don't bother me now," Pierre tells them. "I must consult my colleagues." He leaves them.
Michael looks around the corner. "Excuse me? Could I have some more wine?" he asks one of the nephews.
Pierre is unlocking his car when someone taps him on the shoulder. He turns to find Steele there. Steele grabs his coat. "Can we talk?" he asks.
"Talk? Talk to you? After what you have done?" he asks, removing Steele's hands.
"Why are you trying to kill Dick L'Orange?"
"You dare to ask me that? You, who took my money, and Stravos' money, and Rudizio's money, to write bad reviews of other restaurants? And did you do it? No, you did not. And what of Recherché, um?"
"Recherché?" Steele repeats.
"Oh, now you choose to be dumb. We pay you for a bad review of Restaurant Recherché, and once again you do not deliver. And you can ask why we are going to kill you?"
"Hmm. I've done all that, have I?" Steele questions thoughtfully.
Pierre looks furious as he straightens his lapel. "There are no words to describe you. And you will pay. I can promise you. You WILL pay." He gets into his car.
"Well, I must admit, I'm not a very nice person, am I?" Steele muses.
Bill parks the Z in front of Laura's building. "Thanks for a lovely evening, Bill," she says. "And for dropping off Eloise."
"Don't leave me, Laura," Bill begs in a soft voice. "I have a problem with rejection."
"Bill, I'm not rejecting you," she insists. "I've got a case to pursue."
"My wife rejected me. She walked out on me. And um, it was devastating."
"It must have been awful," Laura commiserates.
"Yeah. I still haven't worked through all my feelings. Shock, confusion."
"How long ago did she leave you?" Laura asks.
"1978," Bill says. Laura's shocked.
"It takes time, Bill, but- you'll get over it." She leans forward and gives him a kiss on the cheek. "Good night."
"Yeah." She gets out.
The nephews pull up across the street and watch as Laura goes into the building. They get out of the car.
Laura opens the door to the loft to find Mildred playing solitaire on the coffee table. "Oh, hi," Mildred says. "How was your date?"
"Fine," Laura assures her. "Fine. Is Mr. Steele here yet?"
"Is everything all right?"
"Where's Mrs. Dix?"
Steele enters the loft and closes the door behind him. "She's asleep," Mildred tells them.
"Would you wake her up, please, Mildred?" Steele asks, looking toward the bedroom. Laura looks at him, wondering what's up.
"At this time of night?"
"Um hmm. We have to talk to her now." Mildred gets up. Steele gives Laura a side-long look. "Did you have a good time with Bill?"
"Oh, absolutely," she lies. "I was sorry I had to cut it short."
"Oh, pity," Steele agrees. "You might have found out more about him."
"Good time with Eloise?"
He smiles. "I certainly did, yes. Ah, yes. She's all woman."
"Confirm that already?" Laura asks. Steele looks at her, she looks at him.
In the lobby, the nephews discuss their plan. "Do you think we should have left Uncle Pierre?"
"Our new employer made us partners. Uncle Pierre only gave us promises."
"That's true." He looks at the mailbox. "Laura Holt. 3-A."
"And we must steal a grandmother for our new partner."
"The restaurant business is very tough." They leave the lobby to go back outside.
"WHAT are you talking about?" Anna demands to know.
"They say that you took money to write from restaurateurs to write nasty reviews about their competitors."
"That is a blasphemy, young man," Anna insists, coming to stand before him. "And a dirty lie. I never took a penny from those thieves who run the restaurants. I didn't even let them know who I was, so they couldn't ooze their slimy charm in my direction."
"They say you took money from all of them to write a bad review about a new place called Recherché- and not only that, but that you double crossed them and then didn't even write about it!"
"That is absurd. I wrote a bad review of the Recherché last month," Anna insists. "They can't even make a decent chicken pot pie," she tells him. "But the magazine didn't run the review. I thought Phyllis ran out of space and would run it this month."
Steele looks at Laura for advice. She lifts her hands and shoulders. "If you're not taking bribes," Steele asks, "why is it that you've attacked every restaurant that you've visited?"
"Because this city and every other one is full of robbers and incompetents, passing themselves off as chefs and restaurateurs."
The doorbell goes off, and Mildred tells them, "I'll get it."
"It's the Emperor's New Cuisine," Anna tells Laura and Steele. "I am on a crusade to clean up the deceit, the extravagant overcharging. The ill treatment of customers."
Mildred opens the door, and there's no one there. She looks outside as Anna continues. "The society that thinks food is good if the color of the tablecloth is au currant," she says.
The nephews grab Mildred, putting a hand over her mouth to drag her away, unnoticed.
"You're the Ralph Nader of Quiche Lorraine," Laura tells Anna.
"Well put, young lady," Anna agrees.
Steele turns, notices the door is still open. "Mildred?" he calls.
"Mildred?" Laura echoes him as they go into the hallway.
"Mildred?" Steele calls again, but the hallway is empty. "Mildred?"
"Keep the door locked," Laura orders Anna as they start downstairs.
Downstairs, the nephews are trying to get Mildred into their car. "Stop struggling, Grandma!" one of them says.
"Grandma!?" Mildred questions, but they put a hand over her mouth again. She bites the hand, and they push her into the car and take off as Laura and Steele reach the street.
They jump into the Auburn. "Why are they taking Mildred?" Laura asks.
"Hang on!" Steele tells her, starting the car and making a u-turn to follow the kidnappers.
At a warehouse, the nephews drag Mildred into a room. "Here she is, partner, a grandmother."
"Just as you ordered. Now you can see how good we are, partner," they tell another person as Mildred struggles to free herself.
When she's free, she says, "I want an explanation of what's going on here, or someone's gonna pay through the nose!"
The third man is in the shadows, unidentifiable. "That's the wrong woman," he declares.
"You see? I told you!" Mildred says.
"No! This is the right grandmother!" one of the nephews insists.
"She's the wrong woman. Get rid of her, dunces!"
"I am not leaving until you tell me what's going on!" Mildred says, angry.
The nephews grab her. "I am not going until I get an explanation!"
"Be quiet!" one of the nephews insists.
"You should have told us you were the wrong grandmother!"
Laura and Steele drive up and see the nephews' car sitting across the lot. They hear Mildred cry out, and go to check it. They find her outside the building, on the ground.
"What happened?" Steele asks.
"They threw me out," Mildred tells them.
"What?" he asks.
"Some man I couldn't see said I was the wrong person. I mean, it's bad enough to be kidnapped, but to be returned-?" They hear car tires squealing. Steele rushes back around the corner in time to see the nephews' car and another car leaving the lot. He looks heavenward, and turns back to the women.
"They were out to kidnap somebody's grandmother," Mildred tells Laura.
"Mrs. Dix!" Laura realizes.
"I'm 42 for gosh sakes," Mildred insists, then gives Steele a defiant look as he stops. "Or thereabout. I can't take much more of this, Boss. Everywhere I go, people are snatching me. I mean, I love my job, but- why am I so popular?" she wonders. She takes Steele's arm. "I'm gonna have to come to work with a travel bag."
The next day, the three of them are pacing the floor of Steele's office. "If we believe Mrs. Dix-"
"And we do," Laura interjects.
"Then someone else is pretending to be L'Orange and soliciting bribes from the restaurateurs."
"That same someone tried to blow up Mrs. Dix," Laura surmises.
"And had me kidnapped by mistake," Mildred suggests.
"Perhaps," Steele muses. "Perhaps not."
"Mildred can identify his voice," Laura tells them.
Suddenly Steele turns, his eyes wide. "The Thin Man. William Powell, Myrna Loy, M-G-M, 1934. Nick and Nora invite all the suspects to a dinner party and then serve up the killer as the main course!"
"Dick L'Orange can host a gourmet dinner to apologize to the restaurant business," Laura says.
"We can't endanger Mrs. Dix," Mildred reminds them.
"Of course not," Laura agrees. "Mr. Steele will be the irascible Dick L'Orange."
Steele's not as pleased. "Laura, these people are ready to kill me because they THINK I'm L'Orange."
"All but one," Mildred points out.
"True, true," he admits. "The criminal knows Mrs. Dix is Dick L'Orange."
Laura goes to him. "The one we're looking for is the one that DOESN'T try to kill you!" she declares.
He looks less than happy. "That's very comforting. Very comforting," he says, walking away as Laura smiles.
A table is elegantly laid in the living room of Steele's apartment. As he comes from the bedroom, he checks the table. The door buzzer goes off, and he peeps into the other room, where Laura is pouring drinks and Mildred, wearing a maid's uniform, is sampling appetizers. "The festivities begin, ladies. Mildred, mind the cart."
He goes to the door, polishes one shoe on the back of his pants leg, and then opens the door. Pierre clicks his heels. "L'Orange," he says, coming into the room.
Steele clicks his heels. "Fumar."
"Lovely apartment," Fumar comments.
"Thank you very much."
"I am first?" he asks.
"Yes, I believe you are."
"You are a gourmand for punishment," Fumar pronounces as someone else rings the buzzer.
Laura answers this time. "Good evening, come in," she tells Teus and Rudizio. Steele smiles at them in greeting, becoming nervous as Teus winks at him repeatedly.
Rudizio shows Steele a bottle of wine. "My special vintage, L'Orange. For you, alone."
Steele takes the bottle nervously. "Oh, gratzi, Rudizio," he says. "Yes, no doubt I will be- transported." The Italian smiles, then he and Teus move into the other room.
Laura comes over to Steele. "Well?" she asks.
"Hmm? Oh." He shows her the wine.
She nods, then goes to answer the door again. It's Phyllis and Michael. "Good evening," Laura tells them.
"Good evening," Phyllis replies. "What's the occasion?"
"You two are gonna help us cook someone's goose."
"I hope we're not using any rich sauces," Michael says.
Laura points them toward the others. "This way."
In the other room, Laura approaches the men. "Gentlemen, I'd like to ask you a few questions-"
"Let me ask YOU a question," Rudizio interrupts. "Is this Iranian caviar?"
Pierre joins them. "At twenty five dollar an ounce? It's from Iceland."
Rudizio points to the cracker. "San Diego," he insists.
Laura joins Phyllis and Michael. "Good goose takes time," she tells them ruefully.
Steele opens the wine, sniffs the cork and frowns.
"Dinner is served," Laura announces.
As the guests move toward the table, Teus pauses and winks again.
"Fumar tries to threaten me," Steele tells Laura and Mildred, "Rudizio brings me a wine of- doubtful vintage,-"
"What about the Greek?" Laura asks.
Steele winces. "He keeps winking at me."
"Any of those restaurateur's voices sound familiar, Mildred?"
Mildred nods. "The Greek. The timbre's the same. And that accent's phonier than a plastic grape leaf."
"Let's see just how Greek he really is," Laura suggests. Steele looks at her.
"What do you suggest I do?"
"You're the Continental," Laura reminds him.
"Yes. Thank you," he mutters, going to join his guests.
"Please, ladies and gentlemen. Do be seated. Yes. Thank you."
Rudizio picks up the wine bottle. "You haven't tried my wine, L'Orange," he says.
Steele puts a hand over his glass. "Remember the old Greek proverb- 'He who mixes the wines of the Gods-' " he pauses.
"Yes?" Rudizio asks.
"Salads," Laura announces. "To clear the palate. Bib lettuce, lamb lettuce, and arugula." She sits down as Mildred brings the plates to the table.
Michael says, "Whatever happened to plain old iceberg?"
Startled, Mildred drops Rudizio's salad in his lap. "Oh, I'm so sorry," she apologizes, glancing at Michael occasionally.
"My apologies," Steele says. "She's new on the job."
Mildred puts a hand on Laura's shoulder, and as a confused Steele watches, Laura joins Mildred at the door. "That's him," Mildred tells her. "The voice. The pudgy one with the mustache."
"Are you SURE?" Laura asks.
"But he doesn't even OWN a restaurant-" Laura begins, then stops. "Or does he?"
"Exactly what kind of Greek are you, Stavros?" Steele asks that gentleman.
Stavros becomes angry. "You DARE to insult me?" he asks, rising.
Laura jumps in to save the day. "What M'sieu L'Orange is asking, is exactly what man at this table could have sent letters to you restaurateurs IN M'sieu L'Orange's name, asking for bribes, and then intercepted those bribes?"
"Exactly," Steele says.
Michael is becoming nervous as Laura continues. "What man could have read each column when it arrived at the magazine, two weeks prior to publication, learned what restaurants L'Orange panned, and then contacted their competitors to demand bribes to write what he KNEW had already been written?" She goes to Phyllis "Mrs. Lewis, why didn't you run M'sieu L'Orange's savage pan of Recherché?" she asks.
"I never got the copy," Phyllis tells her. "In fact, I had to fill in with an article on 'Fifty Ways to Use Hollandaise Sauce'."
Steele has risen now, and is following Laura as she pauses behind Michael. "And who would have reason to divert a savage pan of Recherché?" she wonders. "When I check the tax records tomorrow, I'm sure I'll find the answer to that," she says. Michael tenses.
"Okay, I do own Recherché," he admits. "But you can't prove I did anything."
Mildred, carrying a tray of shish-kabobs, says, "You had me kidnapped, buster!"
"THAT'S your proof!" Steele declares.
Michael jumps up, trying to escape. He grabs a long metal skewer. "Alright, maybe I did take a few bribes. I couldn't make a living at the magazine. Hot dogs! She had me rating hot dogs!"
"Michael," Phyllis insists "I thought you LOVED wienies."
"You bought your restaurant with money you made in bribes from other restaurateurs," Steele accuses.
"I opened the best place in town," Michael tells them. "Honest name, good, plain food. Big portions. Then that L'Orange gave ME a bad review."
"And the only way to turn it into a rave review under L'Orange's byline was to kill L'Orange and step into his shoes," Laura says. "And make plain food fashionable again!"
Mildred comes up behind Michael and clobbers him over the head with a serving tray. As he lays on the floor, she says, "A message from all the grandmothers in the world, next time, watch out who you snatch!"
The next evening, Steele lets Laura into the apartment. "So. Hi," he says nervously. She seems nervous as well.
"Hello, good evening," he repeats, closing the door behind her. "There's enough food left over from last night to feed a gourmet army," he tells her as they walk toward the balcony door.
"Where's Eloise?" Laura asks.
"Uh, the truth?"
"I know this was meant to be a make up dinner for Bill and Eloise,-" he begins as they go onto the balcony. "She's very sweet, very willing, easy to please, but- kinda takes the fun out of it, you know?" They laugh. "Bill parking his Z?"
"Uh, I didn't invite him," she admits.
"Why not?" he asks as they stop beside a table laid for four.
"I learned one thing about Bill," she tells him. "He, uh, he lacks something. Tacky mystery," she says.
Steele grins, and Laura taps the fork he's holding with a fork.