Two men are released from prison.
One is greeted by his waiting family. The other man, a tall, balding
man with a serious expression, gets into a cab and it moves away.
A black BMW sedan follows.
A crowd of people is gathered in front of Laura's apartment building, watching a mime. The ex-con, now wearing a workman's overalls and carrying a toolbox, slinks into the building. Once inside, he turns, and is surprised to find himself up against a brick wall. He looks around, confused and lost, and then heads up the stairs.
Laura pulls the Rabbit into the parking area in the alley beside the building as the man looks into her loft from the fire escape. He slips the lock on the windows in the kitchen and enters the loft.
A man wearing a Hawaiian print shirt passes Laura as she heads toward the building. "Hello, Mr. Putnam," she calls. "How are you?"
Putnam barely pauses. "Oh. Hi-" he says, obviously trying to place where he knows her from.
"Laura Holt. 3-A."
"You certainly are," Putnam agrees as he hurries off. "Laura Holt. Laura Holt."
The man searches Laura's apartment, finding a photo of her and her mother.
At the entrance, Laura is waylaid by the mime, who presents her with an "air" rose. She thanks him, and he turns his cheek to her, indicating he wants a kiss as payment. Laura leans toward him, but he turns his head to meet her lips, and then gives an embarrassed smile. Laura continues into the building, tossing the "air" rose away.
Laura enters the loft, hurrying toward the bath, only to come up short as the man appears in her bedroom.
"I didn't mean to scare you, lady."
"Who are you?" Laura asks. "What are you doing here?"
He comes down the stairs. "I'm the electrician."
"I didn't ask for any electrician," Laura says, watching him warily as she goes upstairs.
"Well, somebody did," he tells her.
"If you're really an electrician, you should have a work order, right?"
"Sure. I got it here." He pats some pockets. "Somewhere."
Laura goes to her jewelry box, and inspects the contents. "Nothing's missing," she notes softly. She goes back to say something to him, but he's gone, the door still wide open.
The man from the BMW is downstairs, checks the name on apt 3-A, then returns to his car as Steele, wearing a tux, gets out of the limo and passes him to go inside. Steele climbs the first flight of stairs, whistling, then pauses, his whistling stopping as he looks up at the rest before continuing. He checks his pulse rate on the next flight, then goes on to the 3rd floor doorway. He's out a breath as he gets to Laura's door, which is still open. She comes out.
"Instead of going to this help the whales fundraiser, why don't we set up a petition to put an elevator in this barn, eh?" he suggests breathlessly as he follows Laura back to the door that leads to the stairs.
"Helping the whales is a worthy cause," she informs him as she opens the door.
"Of course it is," Steele agrees, following her back down the stairs.
"Besides, the media exposure will do the Agency a lot of good."
"Oh. I can feel that you're gripped with passion, but shouldn't you change into something more appropriate?" he asks, noting that she's still in the suit she was wearing earlier.
"I have a quick bone to pick with my manager," she says.
They get to the manager's apartment, and she knocks on the door. "Door's open," a man's voice calls out.
Laura glances at Steele, and they enter to find a man surrounded by mechanical objects: robots, trucks, etc, all buzzing, beeping and whirring loudly. He barely glances up when they enter.
"Looks like a prop room for "Star Wars"," Steele comments.
"My manger is into robotic art," Laura informs him.
"Watch out!" the man calls out as one of the toys shoots two small missile like darts in their direction. Laura and Steele duck, the man laughs.
Steele goes and recovers one of the still flaming darts, showing it to Laura. "Are you insured for this?"
Laura frowns and turns toward her manager. Steele puts the dart into a spool, shaking his hand since the dart's hot. Laura confronts the man. "What is it this time, Holt?" he asks in a snide tone. "Toilet backed up again?"
"I'm afraid it's a little more serious than that, Mr. Thomas."
"Everything's serious with you. Nobody else in the building bothers me with piddling problems."
Steele jumps in. "Just stop playing with your toys for a moment, will you? The lady said it was serious, okay?"
Thomas turns them off, straightening as he looks at Steele. "Toys?"
"I just want to know why you let someone into my loft without first telling me," Laura says. "I don't particularly enjoy coming home to find a strange man lurking in my bedroom."
Steele looks concerned. "A strange man in your bedroom?"
"Said he was an electrician," Laura informs them both.
"I don't know anything about it. Why don't you ask the management company? Maybe they sent the guy," he suggests, turning his robots back on. One of them comes up behind Laura, goosing her. He laughs, until he realizes that she was NOT amused.
Going back upstairs, Laura tells Steele, "I think I'll try to get to the management office before it closes."
"This electrician. Did he take anything? I mean-did he try to harm you in any way?"
"No, but-still I want to try to find out who sent him." As he pauses on the landing, she tells him, "I'll meet you at the dinner."
Breathless, Steele says, "These stairs are beginning to take their toll. I doubt if I'll be able to stay awake through the shrimp cocktail."
"All you have to do is show your pearly whites, say a few words, and look as if you're interested."
He stays on the landing. "I don't know anything about whales. How am I supposed to talk about it?"
"Start with the sanctity of all living things and work your way up to blubber," Laura tells him before turning to go upstairs.
"Blubber," Steele repeats, going down the stairs.
At Commercial Management Corporation, Laura, dressed for her evening in a colourful, filmy dress, talks to the sour faced woman behind the desk. "800 10th Street," the woman says, looking at a file. "There. You happy? I checked. No electrician." She slams the file down. "Next?"
"Uh, what about my particular loft?" Laura asks, causing the people behind her to fidget. "3-A? Laura Holt?"
"Don't you have anything better to do with your time?" the woman asks.
Laura tosses her long nylon scarf around her neck, and it lands on the head of the man standing behind her to one side. "There was a strange man hanging around my bedroom, and I want to know-" she pauses as the man drops her scarf over her arm. "Know why?"
The woman is about to answer when the man from the BMW approaches from behind her. "Perhaps I can help this young lady out."
The clerk smiles. "That won't be necessary, Mr. Matthews. I can handle this."
"I don't mind," Matthews says with a pleasant smile, and tells Laura, "Would you- step over this way, please?"
Laura smiles delightedly at the clerk, who glares at Laura as Laura moves to join Matthews. "I'm going to level with you, Miss-?"
"Holt," Laura supplies. "Laura Holt."
"Frankly, this is the kind of thing we like to keep under wraps. But there's been a rash of burglaries in your neighborhood recently. We've been working with the police on it since we first noticed a pattern. We'd be more than happy to find a hotel for you to stay in for a couple of days."
"That won't be necessary. If he was just a housebreaker, I'm sure I scared him off. Thanks for the offer."
"If you change your mind, let Miss Livermore know," he says, and Miss Livermore glances up, NOT happy as she looks at Laura. Laura smiles and leaves.
Matthews enters a classroom filled with parents and teachers to join a man who is sitting before an easel where a picture is sitting. The man says, "Five Thousand dollars a year, and she can't draw a straight line, and doesn't know what two and two is. But she IS expressing her true self. Well, she is pretty. Maybe she'll marry rich. Did you follow Cosgrove?"
"From the moment he left prison."
"He headed straight for his old building on 10th Street."
"Are you telling me that's where he hid the papers?"
"It looks that way. But he wasn't able to find them. He didn't know the building had been converted into lofts."
A woman calls out. "Mr. Dixon? I just wanted to thank you for your generosity. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is to finally have a working Xerox machine."
"Education is always a solid investment, Miss-"
"Of course. You're doing a wonderful job with Courtney. Jane?" he calls to a woman across the room. "Miss Martin."
Miss Martin walks across to take the woman's hand. "Oh, Mrs. Dixon. How nice to see you."
Dixon turns back to Matthews. "We've got the jump on him. Get the blueprints of the building from our management company."
"Already did that. We have another problem. The tenant? A girl named Laura Holt? She works with Remington Steele Investigations. She's already asking questions."
Dixon is thoughtful. "I've waited more than two and a half years to find those papers," he tells Matthews, who nods and leaves.
Laura and Steele return to the building. Laura's carrying a "Help the Whales" banner, and Steele has a button his tux expressing a similar sentiment, a balloon on a string in his hand. As they climb the stairs, he says, "I must say, all in all, I thought the evening went quite well. The audience seemed to enjoy my little talk."
"You really think people cared there were three different film versions of "Moby Dick"?"
"Oh. I thought it was quite appropriate, considering the theme."
"I'm not at all convinced that analyzing Gregory Peck's harpooning technique set quite the proper tone for the evening."
As they reach the 3rd floor doorway, he tells her, breathlessly, "Well, it was a hell of a lot better than John Barrymore's I must say." He's catching his breath, about to open the door, when Laura does an abrupt about face. "Eh? Where are you going?" he asks, following her back down to the next flight.
"I'm being a good neighbor. I'm going to tell Mr. Bartholomew about the robberies."
Steele glances at his watch. "Do you know him very well?"
"Not really. But I hear he's a writer. The one thing about adversity is that it tends to bring people together." She opens the door to the 2nd floor.
He follows her to the door, trying to straighten a painting that's hanging on the wall nearby. Laura knocks.
"Who is it?"
"Uh, I'm Laura Holt. I live in the loft above you?"
"I just wanted to tell you something."
The door opens a crack to reveal an ugly little man, wearing round glasses and a frown. "So?"
"Have you heard of any burglaries in the neighborhood recently?"
"You haven't had any trouble?" Steele asks.
Laura smiles, trying to be friendly. "Because there was a strange man in my loft this afternoon, and-"
"That's YOUR problem," Bartholomew declares and slams the door.
Steele looks around, and then asks, "Does he know how adversity's meant to bring people together?"
Laura turns toward the door-and the stairs- with a determined look. "Maybe we interrupted his creative process," she suggests.
Steele hesitates at the bottom step, looking up. "Once more unto the breach," he quotes, and then slaps his leg to get it started on the ascent. "Once more."
In the loft, Steele gives the balloon to Laura. "Here you go." He closes the door and goes to check the windows. "After all this time, I still don't understand what it is about this place that makes you call it home."
"I just feel comfortable down here. It's creative. There's an energy down here. Why live someplace like everyone else when you can live in a place that's a little bit different?"
"Oh," he comments, obviously still not understanding as he enters the bath.
"Are you looking for something?"
"Yes, things that go bump in the night," he tells her going through the bath to the bedroom.
"With one lone housebreaker? He won't be back," she insists as he looks in the closets and she ties the balloon to the rail.
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. Personally, I find it more than a little curious that yours was the only loft he was interested in." He kneels beside the bed to look under it, and Laura smiles in disbelief.
"Oh, really, Mr. Steele."
He looks at her. "Yes, well, I've thought of hiding here once or twice myself, actually." He gets up and grabs a pillow and blanket, coming back downstairs. "I'll take the couch."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Laura, why must you always respond in that tone?" he asks, going to the couch.
"That tone," he says, facing her. "The one that questions my intentions."
"Maybe it's because we've been down this road before," she suggests.
He takes off his jacket. "And we've both agreed on the roadblock, have we not? But you've had an intruder in your house. I'm simply concerned with your safety. We'll deal with my lust at a more appropriate time."
"You've been through this place with a fine tooth comb," Laura tells him, taking his jacket from the back of the sofa as he continues to make his bed. "Besides, I'm fully capable of dealing with my own self in an emergency," she reminds him, stepping across the couch cushions and going toward the door, holding out his jacket. She turns and looks at him.
Steele smiles as he realizes she's beaten him again. "You're a difficult woman, Laura. Which, I concede, is part of your charm." He takes his jacket from her.
He gives her a quick kiss. "Goodnight."
She watches him go, then closes and latches the door before pulling off her earrings. Suddenly she's grabbed from behind by a man, a handkerchief pressed over her mouth and nose. Laura struggles, but finally succumbs to the chloroform and collapses over a chair.
At 9:50 the next morning, Mildred hangs up the telephone and tells Steele, "Still no answer."
Steele is thoughtful, then says, "I'm going over there."
"I'm going with you," Mildred tells him, but Steele stops her.
"No. Man the phones in case she calls in, okay?"
"Okay." Mildred nods and sits down.
At New Horizons Hospital, Laura is standing at a door of a sound proofed room, yelling as a doctor leads a group of interns on their rounds. He looks at Laura through the window of the door, and tells the others, "We have here the classic symptoms of chronic intoxication and its after-effects."
Laura is screaming. "Somebody drugged me! Let me OUT OF HERE!"
"For her own safety," the doctor says, "we're going to keep this tragic young woman under seventy two hour hold. If we can help her cope with her inner torment, so much the better," he says, smiling at Laura through the glass.
They move away, and Laura leaves the door, flopping down onto the bed. She sees the air vent in the ceiling. Looking outside, she drags the bed to the door and upends it to create a ladder as an orderly and nurse begin making rounds. She climbs the bed and gets into the vent, crawling through it. The dust makes her sneeze softly, and the orderly hears it, and then dismisses it.
Laura continues to the nurse's station, as the doctor and his residents pass. He says, "Care and understanding. That's what these people are crying for."
She opens the vent and drops to a desk, then grabs the phone and hides on the floor, under a desk. Grabbing the phone, she dials the number for the office. Mildred answers quickly. "Remington Steele Investigations."
"Listen to me," Laura whispers. "I'm being held prisoner-"
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you."
"Mildred, I need help."
"I'm sorry, you'll have to speak up."
The orderly unlocks Laura's door and sees the bed.
"I can't speak up."
"Could you place this call again, please?"
Laura hears the bed fall, and looks over the counter. She says, "I'm being held prisoner at New Horizons Hospital!" she tells Mildred, then drops the phone and takes off.
Laura leaps over the desk, pushing a gurney at the orderlies, but is captured by the orderlies anyway. "Let GO of me, you crazies!"
"Miss Holt, are you there?" Mildred asks. "Miss Holt?" She hangs up, and dials another number. "Mr. Steele, PLEASE be there." There's no answer, and she hangs up again, grabbing her purse. "New Hope. No. Lost Hope. GOOD Hope!" she says, running out the door.
Steele turns the Auburn to stop before Laura's building. Her car is still parked beside the building, and after he glances at it, Steele goes inside the building to Laura's apartment, passing Mr. Bartholomew on the stairs, who demands to know, "Hey, what the hell's going on up there? How am I supposed to be able to write with all that hammering and pounding? Hey, HEY! I want that racket stopped and I want it stopped now! I don't have to put up with this! And I won't!" he calls after Steele, who doesn't pause.
Steele finds the sliding door unlocked and opens it, then is tossed to the ground as two men literally step on him as they leave the apartment. On the landing, Bartholomew is talking to a woman who's holding bags of groceries. "That pounding's been going on for hours," he tells her as the two men come running past, knocking him back through the second floor door and the woman into the corner, scattering her groceries.
Steele glances at the apartment "Laura," he calls, and then turns to follow the men. Bartholomew is just getting up when he comes flying down the stairs and knocks him down again. He pauses, asks the woman, "Are you okay?" and when she nods, he continues down.
The men exit onto the street. One of them is Matthews. When Steele comes out, they run around the corner into the alleyway. Steele follows, until the BMW turns the corner and heads toward him. He turns to run away, but the cars faster and he grabs the fire escape ladder, bracing his feet on a brick wall to escape the car. As it disappears, Steele waves, and the ladder slips.
At the hospital, a young nurse is checking her reflection in a mirror as Mildred, dressed as a nurse herself, comes up, a sour expression on her face. "Ten hut! And just WHAT do you think you're doing? Are you or are you not supposed to be alert at all times?"
"Well, yes, but-"
"I don't want any of your lame excuses. You're in deep bandini, young lady. See your supervisor at once."
The girl asks, "Who are you?"
"I'm the LAST person you wanna give any lip to, that's who. Now move it or lose it! Come on, move it." Mildred grabs the keys and looks into the rooms for Laura, finally finding her tied to a bed. She unlocks the door. "Miss Holt. Are you al right?"
"Just fine, Mildred," she says as Mildred begins to untie her.
"What in world have you been drinking?"
"I haven't been drinking- never mind. Let's get out of here." In the hall, the nurse comes back with the orderlies.
"That's her," she says.
"Run for it, Mildred," Laura says.
Laura and Mildred take off, the orderlies give chase, and Laura pushes a gurney at them, then overturns a couple of carts as Mildred declares, "I don't think I'm cut out for this heroine business!" Laura and Mildred make their escape.
Back at the loft, Steele comes in to find holes in the brick walls of the room. Suddenly he's hit by Cosgrove and knocked unconscious. Cosgrove starts to look for something, but hears Laura coming back and takes off.
"Please, Mr. Bartholomew, it's been a rough night."
"It usually is when you party all night," he comments, following her into the loft, using a crutch.
Laura notes that the door's open, then sees Steele just waking up. "And I suppose your playmate's just doing Yoga," Bartholomew says as Laura rushes to Steele's side. "A nighttime floozy and a daytime drunk. You two are the most immoral, degenerate people it's ever been my misfortune to meet." He hobbles out of the loft.
Cosgrove climbs the fire escape. Laura asks, "Are you all right?"
"Um hum. This neighborhood's beginning to grow on me," he tells her, then looks at her, realizing that she hasn't changed from the night before. "Oh. Look at you. Been out on the town, have we?"
"So to speak. Right after you left, some guy came and-" she notices the holes. "What is THAT?" she wonders, going to the wall.
"That's what I was working on when the lights went out." He turns and grabs the stairway to get up, but it moves out, away from the wall, revealing a cut out opening. "Yes, well, I suspect this is how your unwanted guest made his entrance."
"I had no idea this was here," Laura declares. "Someone knows my loft better than I do." She goes onto her hands and knees and goes into the opening in the wall.
"Umm. Which makes me extremely queasy." He looks at her backside, touching the dirty material. "Laura, uh, I've always admired this dress, but-" she comes back out. "Don't you think it's seen better days?"
"Astute observation, Mr. Steele." She gets up and climbs into the bedroom area, drawing the curtain.
He gets and says, "Laura, at the risk of being cruelly misinterpreted yet again- Please, stay at my place?" he asks, but she simply smiles and finishes closing the curtain. He sighs at her stubbornness. "All right, then, Mildred's!"
"I just want to find out what's going on around here," she tells him through the curtain. He turns, trying to see through the curtain. "Intruders in the night, holes in the walls, moveable panels. What's this mayhem all about?"
"I think the answer's clear enough," Bartholomew tells them hobbling in, followed by Mr. Thomas, the manager, the woman, whose arm is in a sling, and Mr. Putnam. Laura pokes her head out of the curtain above Steele. "Tell us what you do for a living, Miss Holt?"
"I'm a private investigator," she says, disappearing again.
"There, you see? Her life is endless mayhem."
"You obviously write fiction," Steele comments dryly.
"You never told us what you did."
"You never asked," Laura says, looking out again. "Besides, what has that got to do with anything?"
"What has that go to-? Look around you, Miss Holt. Those goons nearly broke poor Helga's arm. I'll probably never walk right again, and all because they were chasing Sam Spade here up and down the stairs with machine guns."
"Machine guns?" Steele questions.
"They nearly pumped me full of lead," Helga insists.
Bartholomew takes a paper from his pocket. "Allow me." He reads, "We the undersigned tenants of 800 10th Street, Los Angeles, California, hereby petition for the eviction of one Laura Holt.
Now dressed in a black jumpsuit, Laura opens the curtains. "What?"
Thomas steps up. "You've been a troublemaker since day one. Always complaining, always asking for special attention."
"Twice I asked for a plunger."
Helga accuses, "She HAS been a troublemaker."
"I've been a wha-? I don't even KNOW you!"
"I watch you all the time. Coming in at all hours, making noise. You use up two trash cans, never leave me any space for mine.
Laura looks at Steele as he says, "Really, Laura."
"You know, Holt," Putnam adds, "you are ripe for a class action suit. We could prove in a minute that you represent a clear and present danger."
"What are you, James?" Steele asks, "A lawyer?"
"Ever heard of Putnam, Bailey and Richards?"
"Yes, of course."
"He's Putnam," Bartholomew tells them. Putnam smiles.
"You don't even know me," Laura insists. ""Did it ever occur to you that Mr. Steele and I might be just as innocent as you are? Mr. Steele and I are professionals, and we're very good at our job. As a matter of fact, you're safer around here because of me! Believe me, you have absolutely NOTHING to worry about!"
Suddenly the fire alarm starts going off, and the room is filling with smoke from the hallway. "That's the fire alarm," Thomas says.
"FIRE!" Helga yells.
They all run out to the stairway door, but the stairs are in flames. Thomas looks up. "The safety sprinklers aren't going off!"
Steele asks, "Where's the shut off valve?"
"Come on," Thomas says, leading him into the stairwell.
Laura turns back to her apartment. "Come on! We'll climb down the fire escape! Let's go!" They follow her into the loft, and onto the fire escape as Steele and Thomas make their way through the smoke to the ground floor maintenance room.
Thomas burns his hand on the knob, so Steele hands him his handkerchief. He winds up kicking the door open, since it's flaming around the edge. "Where's the valve?" Steele asks.
"It's over there! It's too late! Come on, let's get out of here!"
Steele tries to turn it, but it won't budge. He turns to see Thomas running off. The doorway becomes blocked by debris, and he takes a pipe to the valve, trying to turn it on.
Laura and the others stand outside as Thomas crawls from the building, coughing and soot covered. "Where's Mr. Steele?" she asks. He shakes his head, unable to talk, and she runs to the doorway, watching the smoke pour out of the building, with Steele apparently trapped inside.
Later, Laura enters the burned out maintenance room as firemen are cleaning up. "Ma'am-ma'am, we've already looked everywhere."
"Well, *I'm* gonna look everywhere," she tells him.
"Thank God he got those sprinklers working before he uh-" There's a pounding noise.
"Did you hear that?" she asks, going to a door in the wall.
"Here. Ah, it's just an old coal chute," he tells her, opening it.
Steele slides out, coughing. "Mr. Steele!" Laura's relieved.
"The Great Escape," he coughs. "Steve McQueen, James Garner, United Artists, 19-63."
"Obviously a film of great educational value," Laura declares, leading Steele aside. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, well, we seem to have asked that question frequently in the last 24 hours."
She grabs his lapels. "My solitary firefighter! What were you trying to prove by coming in here? You could have been killed!" she says, throwing her arms around his neck.
Steele smiles, returns the embrace, coughing.
"The valve was jammed shut," the fireman tells them.
"Deliberately?" Laura asks.
"Looks like it."
Steele's trying to brush his jacket clean from the smoke and soot. "Then it was arson," Laura says.
"Yes," Steele agrees. "The work of a professional, I'd say."
Laura turns and goes as Steele finishes primping, while the fireman watches, amazed.
Once they're outside, Steele having dodged dropping water to accomplish that, Laura says, "All right, let's start at the beginning. A strange man shows up at my loft, next thing, I'm given a mickey and held incognito," Steele's looking at the Auburn, which is covered with soot and grime from the fire. "You try to find out what's going on, and get hit on the head for your troubles, and then they try to burn down the house!"
"Yes, well, strangely enough, I don't think any of this is personal," Steele says.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I don't think they were after you or me, I think it was something in your loft. Who occupied the loft before you did?"
"Good question, Mr. Steele. Well, I've lost one home; I'm not going to lose another. When those jokers from the Enterprow Foundation blew up my house, I let me emotions blind me. I lost all perspective. Well I'm not going to let that happen again! I'm a detective! I'm going to detect!" She turns and goes to her car.
Steele swipes at the ash covered Auburn with his handkerchief, then turns back to the building's entrance. Thomas comes out, carrying one of his robots, and can't look Steele in the eye.
Bartholomew comes down, scowling. "We could have all been killed because of you two."
"You know, I'm beginning to find a rather striking consistency in your behaviour."
"What are you talking about?"
"Every time there's trouble, you're here heading the drive to get Miss Holt thrown out of this building. Are you sure all you're concerned about is the safety of the neighbors?" Bartholomew stalks away, leaving Steele to dodge dripping water again to return to the building.
At the property company, Laura waits impatiently behind another man, picking lint from his shoulders.
"Fill this out completely and be sure to sign the last page," Miss Livermore tells the man. "Next."
Smiling, Laura faces Miss Livermore. "Hi, remember me?"
"Let me guess- Elizabeth Taylor?"
"Laura Holt? 800 10th Street?"
"Your manager warned me about you. A complainer from the word go."
"A plunger. I ask for one lousy plunger and I'm branded for life."
"Just- just a minute. I want to know who rented the building before the conversion. I happen to know it was a business, because-"
"What do you think this is, Information Please? Next!"
"Would you PLEASE just tell me who owns the building?"
"I write your company's name on my rent checks every month! WHOM do you give them to?"
"Federated Bank, all right?"
"You've been MORE than kind," Laura says, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "In fact, you've been UN believable. Have a nice day." Laura moves off, and Miss Livermore grabs a paper from the next woman in line.
Laura goes to the bank, and gets the proverbial runaround before leaving to find that the Rabbit is being ticketed. She goes to a building and walks up to the information desk in the center of the lobby. "May I help you?" the perky blonde asks.
"My name is Laura Holt. You company owns the building I live in. I want to speak to the person in charge."
"I'm sorry, but we have nothing to do with the actual running of the buildings. Perhaps if you approached your management company, why I'm sure-"
Laura grabs the woman's jacket and pulls her close. "I've seen the management company. I've seen the bank that the management company sends the rent checks to. I've seen the real estate firm that employs the bank to process the checks," she informs the frightened woman. "And I've seen the holding company that hired the real estate firm to employ the bank. They SENT me here." She releases the girl.
The girl smiles and picks up the telephone. "Sir. I hate to bother you, but one of our tenants, a Miss- Holt, is down here at reception?"
Laura enters an office with huge automatic doors. Stalking into the office, she tells the man behind the desk, "I have some questions for you, Mr. Dixon."
Dixon turns around and hangs up the telephone, smiling pleasantly. He stands. "Please sit down, Miss-"
"Holt. Laura Holt." She sits down on the edge of the chair, still ready to do battle.
"Now, what can I do for you, Miss Holt?"
"Mr. Dixon, I've spent the better part of four hours taking a crash course in bureaucratic rigamarole, and all I want to know is WHO leased my loft before I moved in?"
He smiles again. "Where do you live?"
"800 10th Street."
"Miss Hampton, would you pull the file on 800 10th Street and bring it in, please?" he says into the intercom. "I assume this has something to do with the fire?"
"How do you know about the fire?" she asks.
"I got a report on it."
"So soon? You are on top of things."
"You think there's some sort of connection between this and the previous tenant?"
"It's worth checking out," she tells him as he takes the file.
"Thank you very much, Miss Hampton." Laura joins him at the desk to read the file. "Yes, here it is. From 1968 to 1983, the entire building was leased to a business owned by a Mr.-Cecil Cosgrove." He watches her reaction to the name. "Name mean anything to you?"
"No. What business?"
"Industrial equipment. Would you care to see the file?" She looks at it. "Any help?"
"Not really. Thank you for your time."
"My pleasure, Miss Holt." He watches her go.
She returns to the office. "Oh. I was starting to worry about you again, Miss Holt," Mildred tells her.
"Is he here?" Laura asks, obviously tired.
"He's in his office."
Laura goes to the open doorway. Steele is sitting, reading the paper, feet propped up. "Ah, Laura. There you are. Where've you been? It's nearly six o'clock."
"I've spent all afternoon standing in line, knocking on doors, pounding the pavement, but I finally found what we've been looking for. The previous occupant was a man by the name of-"
Steele smiles, pleased with himself. "Cecil Cosgrove."
Laura is stunned. "How did you know that?"
"It was nothing, really. Basic detective work."
"Are you telling me that you just sat here all afternoon and got the same information that I scratched and clawed and banged my head into every wall in the city for!?"
He nods. "yes." She moves toward him, ready to strangle him. "Ah, but- Laura, if it wasn't for your tutelage, I would never have developed that razor sharp investigative instinct that I've always so-" he kisses her hands, "envied in you."
She asks, "Terrific. Just how did our instincts do it?"
"I went back and got the vase that was used to render me unconscious."
"Fingerprints," Laura realizes.
"Cecil Cosgrove's fingerprints, as it turns out." He shows her a file. "It appears that our Mr. Cosgrove embezzled more than a million dollars from his corporation and ended up spending two years in prison for his trouble." Laura picks up the file. "He was released as of yesterday."
She looks at the mug shot. "That's the electrician I found in my loft," she tells him.
"Well, he obviously hid the stolen money in his old warehouse, paid his dues behind bars, and then came back to claim his unjust reward."
"Do you really think he'd hide a million dollars in the walls and then burn the BUILDING?" Laura asks.
Steele looks put out. "Laura, why must everything always make sense to you?"
"You're not far off. He IS Cosgrove. You know where he lives?" she asks him.
He looks at the newspaper again. "No. But I have a good idea where he might turn up again." He folds the paper and gets up.
They drive the Auburn past Laura's building to see an ambulance, and a body being loaded into it. The body is Cosgrove's. Steele frowns. "Apparently we weren't the only ones looking for Mr. Cosgrove." They drive on.
Mildred comes into Steele's office. "Okay. I think I might have found something in the morgue."
"Morgue?" Steele questions.
"She means the newspaper morgue," Laura explains. "What is it, Mildred?"
"First of all, this Cecil Cosgrove character- may have been convicted of embezzling, but- the missing money hasn't seen the light of day yet. Now, on top of that, there are rumors that Econocon Oil may be the guilty party and not your Mr. Cosgrove."
"Econocon?" Laura asks.
"Your ever-friendly landlord," Steele comments.
"Econocon owned Cosgrove's company," Mildred tells her.
"But why would a giant corporation want to see one of its subsidiaries go bankrupt?" Laura wonders.
"It happens every once in a while. A corporation needs a huge tax loss. So, they do a little decorating on the books. They run a subsidiary into the ground, end up making a profit, and usually get away with it."
"Perhaps we should try something like that around here and opt for an early retirement, eh?" Steele suggests, as he sits on the edge of the desk beside Laura.
Mildred laughs. "No way, Boss. We're not big enough to get away with it," she says, joining them on the desk.
"If Econocon set Cosgrove up to take the fall, what did they want out of my building? And why murder Cosgrove?"
"Unfortunately, the answer still lies in your loft."
"Unfortunately?" Mildred asks.
"Because of the fire," Laura explains, "the building's been declared off limits. Rather convenient for Econocon."
Steele covers his ears, Laura puts a hand to his mouth, and Mildred puts a hand over her eyes.
"Well, Laura, it looks as if it's time to battle with bureaucracy once again, eh?"
Laura rolls her eyes.
That night, two police are standing guard outside Laura's building. One of them tells three bums across the street, "All right, you bums. You bums, move along. Let's go. Yeah, you! Move along!"
Two of the bums are Laura and Steele, the third is an old wino that's tagging along. They get up and walk along. "Couldn't you have come up with something a little less appropriate?"
"Positively irresistible, Mr. Steele," she tells him.
"I didn't give up my life on the Riviera to become a tramp in downtown Los Angeles."
"I hear ya, pal," the old man commiserates. Steele glares at him.
"the decoy has arrived." They watch as Mildred, dressed as a bag lady, pushing a grocery cart filled to overflowing, sits down on the steps before the building. She looks at her reflection in a mirror, patting her matted, dirty hair, then takes a half eaten apple out of a dirty cloth and starts eating it.
"Lady, don't park it there," the cop tells her. "Move."
"I ain't botherin nobody," she tells him.
"No, you look, junior. This place is mine. I ain't movin, period."
"I'm gonna be very nice and I'm gonna ask you one more time: move."
"Ah, go stuff it, will you, you little twerp."
Steele winces. "I do wish Mildred wouldn't be quite so zealous."
The cop grabs Mildred. "Hey!"
"I'm taking you in."
"Hey, that's my apple! What're you doin?"
Laura starts forward, but Steele pulls her back. "Steady, Laura. She fell in the line of duty. Besides, we've got work to do. Come on."
They move out, and the old man says, "Okie dokie," and moves to follow them.
Steele turns to the old man. "Stay. Sit." They start toward the building while the cops are distracted with getting Mildred into the squad car.
"Hey! Wait a minute! I demand my rights!" Mildred hollers. "I demand my lawyer! I demand you get off of me, you big oaf!"
Steele and Laura get into the building as they pull away. They start up the stairs, and see Bartholomew climbing the stairs as well, carrying something in his arms. "For once it'll be a pleasure going up these stairs," Steele tells Laura, and hands her his flashlight. "Hold onto that," he says, then rushes up behind Bartholomew and tackles him, sending the computer printouts the man was carrying everywhere.
Laura shines the flashlight on him as they lay in the computer print outs that cover the floor, which the man threw into the air when tackled. "Fancy meeting you here, Mr. Bartholomew."
"I think we're getting to the bottom of this, Laura. Perhaps you can explain these, eh? Hardly a writer's manuscript, eh?"
"Read em. Go ahead. Nestor Bartholomew's great American Novel."
Steele and Laura scan the pages. "They're stock forecasts!" Steele declares. "Management resumes."
"Without tomorrow's forecasts, I would have lost most of my clients," Nestor tells them. "I'm a stock analyst."
"Why pretend you're a writer?"
"I got tired of seeing that glazed look in everybody's eye when I told them what I did. Oh, they tried so hard not to yawn in my face. So I moved down here, to the creative community. Hoping to find friends. I figured I'd have a better shot at it if I told them I was a writer. Didn't make any difference."
A brick falls upstairs. "That came from my loft," Laura tells them.
"For an abandoned building, it's certainly crowded, isn't' it?" Steele says.
Nestor asks, "Does this mean you're going to tell everybody about me?"
"That's your choice, Mr. Bartholomew. Not ours." She and Laura get up and go on upstairs.
They get to the open doorway of Laura's apartment, watch as Dixon and Matthews find an envelope.
Laura straightens and hits Steele in the chin, then they move away from the door. "Well, well," she tells him. "The hospitable Mr. Dixon from Econocon. It looks as if he found what everybody was after."
"Uh huh. I have a feeling we get our hands on that, you'll finally be able to get a good night's sleep around here."
Laura looks at her flashlight, taps him with it. "Do unto others, Mr. Steele?"
He grabs a fire extinguisher. "Absolutely, Miss Holt."
They are waiting at the doorway when the men come out. Laura hits Dixon's arm with the flashlight, Steele slams the extinguisher into Matthew's stomach. Laura picks up the envelope, and she and Steele take off downstairs.
Matthews pulls a gun, firing at them. They go into Thomas' apartment, which was almost untouched by the fire. They hide behind a cabinet as Matthews and Dixon come in.
"I don't mean to alarm you, Laura, but we're a gun short on this exchange, you know?"
Dixon calls out, "Miss Holt, I've waited a long time to my hands on that envelope. There's been enough blood shed already. Why have more?"
"It wasn't Econocon after all, was it, Mr. Dixon?" Laura says. "You're the reason the money never surfaced." Steele goes to the control panel. "You're the embezzler, not Cosgrove! You set him up, didn't you?"
Steele sets the machines into motion. "If it wasn't the money you were looking for, what was it? Was Cosgrove trying to blackmail you?"
Matthews takes aim, but one of the robots takes his gun. He jumps after it, tripping on a toy car, falling. Steele tackles him, as Dixon makes a grab for the gun. Matthews gets up, and grabs across the panel for Laura, but she decks him with a right.
Steele takes care of Dixon. "I'm beginning to appreciate your taste in art, Miss Holt."
"I always knew you'd come to see their value, Mr. Steele."
She smiles, revealing her blacked out teeth.
Later, in the loft, Steele is repairing the wall as Mildred sweeps. "My compliments Mildred. Your bag lady was first rate."
"Ah, thanks, Chief. It was a part I could really sink my teeth into." She looks up to where Laura is repairing a bedroom wall. "What was in the envelope, Miss Holt?"
"Cosgrove commissioned an audit when he first suspected Dixon. With it, he could prove Dixon set him up."
"Well, why wouldn't he expose him instead of going to prison?" Mildred wondered.
"Ah, well, blackmail is far more profitable, Mildred," Steele explains as the door buzzer goes off. "I'll get it."
"At the time of his arrest, Cosgrove told Dixon that a couple of years behind bars was a small price to pay for being able to blackmail him. All Dixon could do was wait."
Steele opens the door to Helga, Thomas, and Putnam.
"May we come in?" Helga asks. Steele nods.
"Well, we all owe you- and Mr. Steele here a great deal, Laura, including a giant apology."
"Does that go for Mr. Bartholomew or did he plan to abstain from this little peace party?"
"Probably too embarrassed to show up," Thomas says.
"After all," Helga points out, "He was the instigator of this whole unpleasantness."
"If you ask me, he deserves to be ostracized," Putnam agrees.
Laura frowns. "That's a little unfair. We're all neighbors. We should try to get along."
Putnam smiles. "Well, that's very generous of you."
"You're a real sport, kiddo," Helga says.
"If you can put up with him, I guess we can," Thomas says.
"I'll go ask him up," Laura says, and Steele follows her out.
"Laura, now that the neighbors think so highly of you, do you think we could petition for an elevator in this building?"
"One step at a time, Mr. Steele. "
At Nestor's door, he says, "Laura, you're an extraordinary woman, being this forgiving."
"I think we started something with Mr. Bartholomew," she tells him, knocking.Steele tries once again to straighten the painting on the wall. "Established a mutual trust. I'm looking forward to a new relationship with him." He opens the door. "Hello, Nestor," she says, smiling.
He slams the door in her face as Steele laughs.