- Molten Steele
- From the episode
- Richard Collins
The LA freeway system
at night, leading to an exclusive residential area. As we home
in on an expensive home, a telephone is ringing. Inside the house,
a woman is sitting, terrified, watching as the telephone as it
continues to ring.
Finally, unable to take it any longer, she picks up the receiver
and listens. "Stop it," she hisses. "Stop it!"
She stands. "Leave me alone. You're insane. You should be
locked up!" She hangs the phone up and grabs her coat, running
from the room and outside, looking around as if afraid she's
The next day, she's in the offices of Remington Steele, telling
them, "For over twenty years, I've been a faithful, devoted,
wife. Sometimes, I think that's all I've ever been. Mrs. Charles
Dumont - the oil magnate's wife. If I so much as THOUGHT of making
love with another man, I told myself I was- hallucinating."
Laura asks, "What changed that, Mrs. Dumont?"
"Time. Too many years. Too many hours," she says, pausing.
"Loneliness. I wanted to be touched by somebody other than
my masseuse." She removes her coat.
"And that someone-?" Steele asks.
"Walter Mueller," she tells him, angry. "A young
auto mechanic. He makes house calls in Rancho Santa Luisa, servicing
our cars." She looks uncomfortable as she looks at Laura.
"It -It was an- arrangement."
"Go on, Mrs. Dumont," Laura prompts quietly.
"He-He charged me for work he didn't do. You know, tune
ups, carburetors, that sort of thing. And then two weeks ago,
he told me he needed ten thousand dollars for new equipment."
"Blackmail," Laura says.
"Exactly. I wouldn't pay him."
"That took courage," Steele tells her.
"Well, somehow it offended me more to pay a blackmailer
than to pay a lover. Unfortunately, Mueller's come up with a
rather imaginative form of persuasion," she says, taking
something from her purse and handing it to Steele.
He unfolds the newspaper and reads the name. "The Swinger's
Street Journal." He looks at an article. "The
True Wealth of the Senses."
"The classified ads," Mrs. Dumont tells him. "On
the back." He turns it over. "That circled item?"
He reads it. "That's ME." Laura leans across the desk,
and he hands it to her. "Emily Dumont, with my unlisted
phone number and a description of me and my- specialties."
Laura and Steele look at each other for a moment. "As a
result, every pervert and sex maniac in the dialing area has
given Flaming Emily a jingle."
"Have you thought about changing your telephone number?"
Emily turns to look at her. "Yes. Yes, of course. But my
husband would want to know why."
"Does he know about this?" Steele asks.
"NO. And right this moment, he's at the White House in Washington,
lunching there. But he's due back in Santa Luisa this evening
for a cocktail party he's insisting we give."
Steele is looking at the paper again. "This - Mueller seems
"I hope you can prove he's behind this harassment,"
Emily tells them. "And I want you to put a stop to it. Miss
Holt, Mr. Steele, I made a mistake. Just one. I regret it. I
wouldn't do it again. But I live in a world where you can pay
for that kind of mistake forever."
As Laura drives the Rabbit, Steele is perusing the paper. "Hmm,"
he says. "Fascinating." Laura frowns, uncomfortable.
He clicks his tongue. "Extraordinary."
"How long are you going to linger over that catalogue of
curves and kinks?" she asks.
"Laura, I'm researching the case," he tells her, smiling.
"Do you always smack your lips when you research?"
"I'm marveling at the uh, the uh, - the creativity of the
human animal," he tells her.
She glances at the paper. "Animal, yes. Creative? I don't
know. Why is it so amazing that the world is filled with twisted,
lonely people?" she asks.
"Well, if some of the people in here can provide what they
promise, they won't be lonely for long," Steele tells her
with a leering smile.
"Mr. Steele, I don't mean to-to ground your flight of fancy,
and I'm sure it's VERY fancy, but can we take a moment to discuss
our M.O. on this case?"
He folds the paper and takes a metal briefcase from the back
seat. "Precisely my agenda, Laura," he tells her. "I
suggest that once we reach Rancho Santa Luisa, you uh, shield
Mrs. Dumont from further harassment," he says, taking a
clip board from the case, "while I nail young Mueller for
this shabby and tawdry business," he says, holding up the
paper then putting it back down. He takes out a pen and looks
at the clipboard.
"How do you plan to do that?" Laura wonders. "Don't
these filthy rags guarantee their - clients confidentiality?"
"I intend to beat the publisher at his own game," he
tells her with a smile as he starts writing.
"Careful," she warns. "Among that sort, beating
may be considered- foreplay."
Steele looks her up and down not quite sure what to say, "Yes."
They continue driving, passing through an affluent strip of
- "Does it tell
you something about this community that every other office is
a stockbroker's," observes Laura.
- "Yes. I think
our friend's publisher should be around the next corner."
here, porno shop there," Laura laughs, "Work hard,
They pull up to a building on a dirty side street, the area filled
with expensive cars. Several well dressed men enter and leave
something called the "Love Library" as Laura comments,
"High class clientele."
"Um hmm," Steele agrees. "High class community."
He opens the door.
Laura grabs his arm, stopping him. "Don't get lost in your
work," she tells him, then smiles as he gets out of the
car and goes to the store. She drives off.
Steele enters the building cautiously. He comes into a room where
men are reading and examining various books. He's donned a monocle
and pipe, and stands in the doorway for second before taking
out his handkerchief and mopping his face. "Gentlemen pray
continue with your activities," he says, then moves farther
into the room.
He pauses beside a table containing various "toys",
picking up a whip as a man comes from a back room. Steele turns
to him, and says, "Mr. Vishuva?" in a very proper British
voice. The man nods. "Lord Marchmane," he says.
The man looks him over. "You a wrestler?"
"Only with great ideas," Steele says, looking around.
"Excellent restraints and leathers, Mr. Vishuva."
"What can I do for you, Lord?"
"I, sir am an author," Steele tells him.
"Don't need no author. I don't even need a writer. I do
the whole damn paper myself."
"Remarkable," Steele comments. "But I require
neither employment, nor a publisher. I've already sold my book."
He takes the pipe from his mouth. "The Sexual Exploits
of an English Nobleman," he tells the man.
Vishuva is unimpressed. "English noblemen are out of date.
I mean, that's last year's filth."
"I intend to eliminate the middle man," Steele says,
"And sell my book directly to its special- uh- constituency."
Vishuva looks more unimpressed. "Therefore, I'm prepared
to offer you a handsome fee for your list of classified advertisers
in your magnificently prurient publication. A thousand dollars
and five percent of the profits on the book."
"My advertisers count on me to protect them, Lord. It's
a sacred oath. You know, like a Doc and his patients?"
Steele looks frustrated momentarily. "I can see you're a
straight arrow, Mr. Vishuva. What would you say to ten percent?
Hmm?" He puts his case on the table.
"It's ten percent of zip, Lord," Vishuva says, starting
to turn away. "Okay? The book ain't gonna sell."
Steele opens the case. "Yes, well, before you decide, Mr.
Vishuva," he pulls out the clipboard. "Just have a
glance at this, I pray." He presents the clipboard to the
man, who takes it. "Just a glance. This paragraph, for instance,"
he says, pointing it out with his pipe. Vishuva's eyes widen.
"My Lord, that's disgusting."
"Thank you. I did attempt to reach the heights of depravity
with that one. Do you think it has a chance?"" he asks.
"It's GOLD," Vishuva declares. "I mean, I've worked
for some of the biggest talents in this business. Uh, Countess
Perverse, Jack Lance. You dwarf `em, Marchmane." He looks
at the story again, laughing. "You dwarf `em."
"I do?" Steele questions, somewhat surprised.
"Twelve and a half," Steele offers. They shake hands.
At the Dumont
housemaids prepare for the afternoon festivities as the telephone
rings and a short-haired woman answers it. "Dumont residence.
No, no you have the wrong number, there is no Emily here."
She starts to put the telephone down and then quickly listens
as a look of horror appears on her face, "No, I'm not interested
either." She hangs up the telephone but it immediately
rings again. She takes a moment and then picks it up. "Dumont
Laura and Emily come downstairs.
"I've told people you're a Vassar alumna," Emily tells
her as they enter the living room to find a harried looking woman
with the telephone in her hand as a Hispanic maid dusts the room.
"I'm on the board of trustees. This is my social secretary,
Miss Hopkins," she introduces. Miss Hopkins carefully replaces
the receiver. "She's been an absolute pillar through this
Miss Hopkins looks up with a nervous smile. "Mrs. Dumont!"
The phone starts ringing again. "I've enjoyed working for
you," she says quickly. "But I can't stand this sudden
rush of activity." The maid picks up the phone. "I
can't answer one more time." She puts her hands to her temples.
"I have such a headache." She rushes off.
"Miss Hopkins?" Emily calls after her as the maid drops
the vase of flowers in her hand.
"Madre de Dios!" she cries out, hanging up the phone
and turning to Emily. "The world is ending!" she declares.
"Senora Dumont. For THIS you make me learn English? I go
back to Bolivia." She leaves the room.
"Ophelia," Emily calls. The phone rings, and Emily
Laura stops her from moving forward, holding up her hand and
going to the phone. "Hello?" she answers. "Oh.
Um." She laughs as she sees Emily's concerned face, then
frowns as the caller continues to talk. "Oh. Sounds like
fun," she says at last. "But I can't. Mother's here."
She hangs up, looking at Emily, who smiles. It rings again. Laura
gingerly picks it up and holds it so that Emily can listen as
"Ah, yes. Him again. I think his name is- Big Al."
Laura looks amazed. She puts the phone to her ear. "I'm
very busy tonight. Mother's here." She looks sick. "Bring
her along?" She hangs up, disgusted.
"If only my husband's plane were- hijacked or something,"
Emily says, then looks up as they hear a helicopter. Emily goes
to the French doors and opens them to watch the helicopter landing.
"No such luck," she tells Laura, "it's him."
Laura unplugs the telephone, holding up the end of the cord.
"No more ringing. I've disconnected it."
Emily laughs. "Nice try, but it won't work. The first thing
he'll do after complaining about another house guest from Vassar
is go straight to the phone," she tells Laura, who joins
her as Charles Dumont gets out of the helicopter and waves goodbye
to the pilot. Emily waves hello as he stalks into the house.
"Hi, dear. How was Washington?" she asks.
He grunts, going to the table where the phone is. Emily tries
to head him off. "Darling, this is Miss Holt."
"From Vassar?" he asks. He shakes hand. "At least
this one's pretty."
He notices the phone's unplugged. "The phone's disconnected.
No wonder I couldn't reach you." The women watch nervously
as he reconnects it. He picks it up, and listens. "Who is
"That must be for me," Laura tells him. "My fiancé,"
she explains, laughing.
Charles hands her the phone. "Your fiancé's got a
filthy mouth," he tells her, moving around to join his wife
as Laura picks up the entire phone and answers.
"Yes, dear?" she says sweetly. "I'll call you
tomorrow. Well, then, you call me. It's not convenient now. I'm
"I gave that school a hundred thousand dollars," Charles
comments. "What are they teaching `em these days?"
"Time change," Emily reminds him.
"I gotta call Jakarta by four o'clock," Charles says,
looking at his watch.
"No," Laura says. "Flatly no. Gotta run now. Good
bye." She hangs up, smiling nervously. The phone rings again.
Charles indicates that she should give him the phone. He answers
it. "Hello?" Disgusted, he holds it out to Laura. "It's
Laura gives him a sick smile as she takes it. "Hello?"
she says sweetly.
As Walter Mueller walks from his office, a cab pulls up and Steele
gets out. "Walter Mueller?" he calls, stopping the
man from getting into a van.
"Uh, sorry," he answers with a German accent. "Four
o'clock appointment. Never late. Mueller," he says.
Steele holds up the paper. "Yeah. I'm a private investigator.
I'm sure you recognize this."
Mueller takes the paper. "Gott In Himmel," he
says, grimacing in distaste. "Schmutzig. Never see
this before," he insists.
"Your English is very good," Steele tells him.
"You are too kind," Mueller says, smiling and handing
the paper back.
Steele grabs his shirt and pushes him against the van. "But
your German's lousy, mate," he declares. Mueller takes a
swing at him, but Steele hits him twice. "Now listen, blondie,
and listen well. Because I'm only gonna say this once. Stay away
from Mrs. Dumont."
"Stay away from who?" Mueller says, still pretending,
but he's dropped the accent.
"I know you placed this ad in the paper. I can prove it.
You make one more dirty little move around her - and I'll have
the police on you so fast that you'll wish you WERE in Stuttgart."
Mueller pushes him away.
"You're on private property. You got a warrant, do something.
If not, get out."
"Yeah. Well, I hope you have a good memory. Because I do."
He slaps Mueller with the paper and then turns and gets back
into the cab.
At the Dumont cocktail party, Emily watches as Charles walks
past, then she turns to Laura. "If any of these people knew
about `Flaming Emily', I'd be gossip fodder for the next - twelve
"We'll see that they don't find out," Laura promises.
Emily smiles. "Oh, you and Mr. Steele are such a blessing.
You know, my life wasn't always like this. There- There was a
time when Charles and I were as close as- Come. Meet the neighbors,"
she says, pulling Laura across the room. They stop before a young
woman and middle aged man. "Jimmy, I'd like you to meet
Laura Holt. This is Jimmy and Sandra Cassen," she tells
Laura, who smiles and shakes their hands.
"Hello," Laura says.
"Hi," Jimmy says. "We live in the Spanish colonial
across the street."
Sandra giggles. "Happiness Hacienda," she tells Laura,
looking up at her husband. "Si, Senor?"
"Si si, pequena Senora." They kiss as someone else
They turn as a dark headed woman and man approach. "Oh,
hello, Tommy," she says. "Tommy Montague," she
"The helicopter man," Laura realizes, recognizing him
from when he dropped Charles off earlier.
"Um hmm. And my better half. Anne," he says, putting
his arm around his wife.
"Tommy's too modest," Anne insists with a big smile.
"Excuse us, Anne, Tommy," Emily says, turning Laura
away from the others and leading her to another couple that Charles
is talking to. "Doc Markins is here," she tells Charles,
who leaves them. "May I introduce Phil and Betsy Lindner?"
She tells Laura.
"Hi," Betsy says brightly, laughing. "The big
traditional, right up the stream."
"You must be the young lady from Vassar," Phil says,
shaking Laura's hand.
The phone rings, and Laura looks toward it as Emily looks about
to faint. "Urgent call," Laura declares, taking off.
"Terribly sorry." Emily follows her.
"School business," Emily tells Phil and Betsy as Laura
grabs the phone from another guest.
"Good old Vassar," she says, smiling widely.
"If these calls start again," Emily whispers, "I'm
gonna fall apart."
"Why don't you go get some air, Mrs. Dumont. I'll handle
Emily keeps looking at the telephone. "Good idea,"
she finally agrees. "Thank you." She moves off as Laura
puts the phone to her ear.
"Now listen. I've had all the disgusting propositions I'm
going to . . ." she begins, only to stop as Steele begins
"Laura, I haven't made you a disgusting proposition in ages,"
he tells her, speaking from a pay phone as the cab waits.
"Sorry. This phone's become an instrument of the devil.
How did you do with Mueller?" she asks.
"Well, it seems I've lost my knack of terrorizing people.
I think we're going to have to take a different tack with him."
"You mean," Laura says with a sour expression, "we're
in for more exotic experiences?" Someone screams. Steele
frowns. Laura looks in that direction, then tells him, "They
may be beginning already," she says. "Call me back."
She hangs up and follows the others outside to the pond behind
Walter Mueller is laying on a rock, dead, as Betsy Lindner looks
away from the grisly scene, her husband at her back.
Charles speaks to the police, then heads for the house, where
Emily is telling Steele and Laura, "I've managed to tell
my husband everything."
"How did he take it?" Laura asks.
"Badly. I hurt him. I don't ever want to hurt anyone like
that again," she tells Steele.
Steele holds up a key. "Mrs. Dumont, umm, Miss Holt found
this Mercedes key clutched in Mueller's hand."
"Aren't you two taking a terrible professional risk?"
she asks. "I mean, what's it called- withholding evidence?"
"Let's call that mislaying?" Steele suggests. "Milder
"Yes, but you wouldn't do that unless you thought I was
in serious trouble, huh?" Emily wonders.
Charles comes into the room. "Now that Mueller's dead, there's
nothing more for you two to do," he tells Steele and Laura.
"Mr. Dumont," Laura insists, "We can't be sure
that Mueller was the only one involved in the blackmail scheme."
"I'll deal with any other blackmailers," Charles tells
"The fact that Mueller was blackmailing your wife gives
her a prime motive for killing him," Steele points out.
"As of now, the police are saying that his death was an
accident," Charles informs him.
"An autopsy might change their minds," Steele says.
"Well I'll deal with that situation too. In my own way."
"Charles," Emily says, frightened, "I don't want
to go to prison for a murder I didn't commit!"
Laura covers her face with a hand. "You're over wrought."
"Over wrought?" she questions, even more upset as he
pulls out his checkbook.
"How much do we owe these people?" he asks.
Laura goes to him. "Mr. Dumont, if the police charge your
wife with murder, how many checks do you think you can write?"
she asks as Steele silently tries to reassure Emily.
"Just as many as it takes, Miss Holt," he tells her,
tearing the check out. "I think you'll find yours extremely
generous." She takes the check. "So good night."
He moves past her to his wife. Steele follows an angry Laura
out of the house.
Outside, she says, "Let's go to Mueller's. Find out who
his last customer was."
"In case you hadn't noticed, Laura," Steele points
out, "we've been relieved of our duties."
"Not by MRS. Dumont," Laura tells him. "As far
as I'm concerned, she's STILL our client." She starts to
tear the check, but Steele grabs it.
"Ah! Normally, I approve of the theatrical gesture, but
that one's a trifle extravagant, wouldn't you agree?" he
asks, opening the car door for her.
"It's a matter of principle," Laura tells him.
"Never let principle interfere with money," he tells
her, going around to the other side of the car. "We'll go
to Mueller's. And to that extent, I'll, uh, be seduced by your
Laura looks at him over the top of the car. "Would you really
have cashed that check and gone home?" she asks. "Or
is the question- academic?"
"Oh, Laura, you're giving me a freebie. I can be a high
minded fellow at hardly any cost."
"Imagine that. Seduced twice. And by the same principles."
"I believe its called double jeopardy," he tells her
as he looks at the house again. "What is it?"
"I was just thinking about Mrs. Dumont. She's so vulnerable.
She'll probably be pacing the floors all night while their friends
sleep soundly in their mansions."
Phil Lindner and Betsy are ready to go to bed, but Phil's not
happy. "You paid blackmail with a personal check?"
he asks, then slaps her.
"I wasn't thinking," Betsy tells him, in tears.
"Betsy, what if some bank clerk happened to notice the signature
on the check?"
"Buy him off," Betsy tells him.
"If he showed it around?"
"Buy everyone off!"
"If they made copies?!"
"BUY THE BANK!!"
At the Cassen house, a similar scene is being played out, as
Sandra, in a teddy, tells Jimmy, "He wanted ten thousand
dollars. I had to give him something."
He turns her to face him. "What DID you give him?"
"Let go of me. I just gave him- my bracelet. The one with
diamonds and rubies."
"Sandra, I paid twenty four thousand for that bracelet.
Don't you realize they can trace jewelry?"
Sandra looks at him, and smiles seductively. "Jimmy. I'll
play the closet game with you, if you'd like."
"I don't think the closet game'd work tonight," he
tells her sadly.
At the Montague house, Tommy sits on the bed as he asks, "Anne,
are you sure you didn't give him anything?"
"I sent him a couple of notes," Anne admits nervously.
"For appointments, Tommy."
"I thought you were smarter than that."
At Mueller's Steele and Laura park the Rabbit in the garage,
and go into the office, which is unlocked. "Apparently Mueller
felt secure enough to keep his door unlocked," Laura comments
as they stand on the porch.
"Either supreme arrogance or terminal carelessness,"
Steele agrees, opening the door for her.
Laura goes to the desk as Steele looks in a ledger. "He
must have kept records of his appointments," Laura tells
him as he bends near the window.
"Moonlight is romantic, but it's hell to read by,"
he says, squinting to read the papers in the ledger. They hear
a car drive up, and look outside.
"It's a Mercedes," Laura says.
"Are there any other kind of cars in this town?" Steele
wonders as she peers at the driver.
"Jimmy Cassen," she says.
"Returning to the scene of the crime?" Steele wonders.
"Looking for the same thing we are?" Laura asks.
"Splendid opportunity to- try our key?" Steele suggests,
bringing out the Mercedes key she found in Mueller's hand.
She takes it. "You keep an eye on the midnight marauder,"
she tells him, heading for the back door.
"Yes," Steele nods, looking for a place to hide Finally
he crouches beside a file cabinet as Jimmy comes in.
Jimmy rifles through the desk, as Laura goes to the car and gets
in, trying the key, which doesn't work. She sees another car's
headlights and ducks down.
Jimmy hears the car and takes off for the back door as Phil Lindner
gets out of his car. Laura peers up at him, and Steele comes
from his hiding place, only to dash under the desk as the door
opens again and Phil starts looking through the things on the
Laura is about to get out of the car, but sees Jimmy coming back
from around the building. So she closes the door and leaps into
the back seat, hiding the floor board. Jimmy gets into the car
and starts it, driving away with his surprise passenger.
Meanwhile, Steele is playing a modified version of "musical
chairs" with Phil Lindner's feet and his hands. The space
beneath the desk is cramped, and barely large enough for Steele
to hide in, so he's forced to keep moving his hands so that Phil
doesn't step on them as Phil searches the office. He hears another
car, and takes off the way Jimmy went, and Steele pops out, smiling
with relief, only to frown as the door opens again. He ducks
back under the desk.
It's Anne Montague this time, and the spike of her high heel
finds Steele's fingers. He grimaces silently in pain.
Jimmy returns home, smoking a cigar that makes Laura have to
fight a cough. He pulls the car into the garage, sets the security
system, and then sets the garage system before going into the
Laura sits up, seeing him enter the house. Then, she notices
the flashing light on the dash, indicating that they car alarm
is set. After considering her options, she grasps the door lock
and pulls- but the alarm doesn't sound. Only when she opens the
door does the siren start blaring. She stands there, then pushes
the door button, sliding under it and out of the garage. As she
runs across the pavement, Jimmy runs from the house. "Stop,
Thief!" he shouts, then fires a gun at her.
Laura leaps into a clump of bushes, landing against the wall.
A man leads two Doberman dogs out. "Carlos," Jimmy
says to him, "Let `em loose." Carlos releases the dogs,
who both take off after Laura, who runs along the fence, to the
gate. She climbs up, only to find her skirt caught by one of
Finally managing to get loose, she jumps over and runs away.
Steele is looking around the garage. "Laura?" he calls.
"Laura, where've you gone to?" He stops, looking down
the road and sees her walking, exhausted, along the road toward
the garage. "Laura?" he asks, running toward her. Walking
around her, he puts an arm around her to support her. "Good
Lord, Laura," he comments. "All you had to do was try
a key." She stumbles as they approach the car. "Steady,
"I feel like Eliza, crossing the ice," she tells him
breathlessly as he opens the car door. "Shot at, chased
by dogs," she shivers.
"You need a little quiet," he tells her, trying to
get her into the car.
She turns to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Oh, Mr.
Steele. You're a caring person."
"Thank you," he says, putting a hand on her head, pushing
down. "Watch your head," he warns, getting her inside
and closing the door. "Okay. All right," he says, getting
behind the steering wheel. They drive off down the road.
"If they protected their women around here the way they
protect their property," Laura tells him, resting her head
on the back of the seat, "Walter Mueller would have died
"Based on his appointment book, I'd say he died of exhaustion,"
Steele tells her.
"Woo! Puts Lord Marchmane to shame," he declares, looking
at her, so that he doesn't see the truck heading toward them
down the road.
But Laura does. "LOOK OUT!" she cries out, pointing
as the truck's headlights illuminate the car. Steele turns the
wheel, sending the small car down a steep embankment, where it
comes to rest at the bottom.
- Laura and Steele
look up, shaken from the crash. "Somebody knows I'm not
a Vassar girl," concludes Laura.
- "That was an
oil truck," observes Steele. "Isn't Dumont in oil?"
- Laura nods her head.
"And we're in something *just* as slippery."
- In a restaurant
in Rancho Santa Luisa Laura, freshened up, exits the toilet and
walks to Remington sitting at a table. She throws her handbag
on the table and sits down as Steele looks up briefly from Mueller's
appointment book and comments, "Ah, much better. Beginning
to look like the old Laura again."
- Laura laughs, "I
know you're trying to be kind but please don't say the *old*
Laura ever looked like this."
- "Laura, if
Mr Dumont *is* the killer, why didn't he show up at that scavenger
hunt at Mueller's? Mmhn?"
- "Maybe there
was nothing there he needed to retrieve," suggests Laura.
"I assume this is one thing they were all after," he
"Mueller's appointment book?" she asks.
"I found it in his van," he explains.
"Who was his last appointment?"
He puts down his glass. "Well, nothing for today, but apparently
he liked to do his. . ." he searches for the word. "His,
umm, accounting at night. And apparently Mrs. Dumont isn't the
only client where he- as they say - wore two hats?" Laura
is stunned. "The young lady that you identify as Anne Montague.
Three tune ups in one month. Her motor must be absolutely frenzied
"Who else subscribed to Mueller's - service?" Laura
asks. "Look up a- Betsy Lindner."
He turns a page. "Here we go." He starts to speak,
then stops, looking up. "It seems her transmission required
"What about Sandra Cassen? Big Senor's wife?"
He turns another page. "Uh -" He's amazed by what he
"That bad?" Laura asks.
"If her 450 required half of these repairs, she has the
sourest lemon that ever rolled out of Stuttgart."
"All three of those loving couples are neighbors of the
Dumonts," Laura tells him. "They wouldn't have to move
the body that far."
"Well, tomorrow, Prince Charming, if you will excuse my
lack of modesty, shall take the glass key and try to find Cinderella's
ignition." He stands. "For tonight, shall we dance?"
Laura doesn't look too enthusiastic. "Why not?"
He pulls her chair out for her. "I'm flattered by your enthusiasm,
Laura," he says as they move toward the dance floor.
"Sorry. Long evening," she tells him. She examines
the other couples on the dance floor. "Do you think ANY
body's here with their spouse?" she asks him as they dance.
"In most places, I'd say yes," he tells her, looking
around as well. "But in Rancho Santa Luisa - I'd be loath
to bet on it. This town is a veritable Peyton Place." She
looks at him. "Lana Turner, Lee Phillips, Twentieth Century
"These people have all the money in the world, beautiful
houses, enviable lifestyle. But they don't seem to have marriages.
Instead, they have arrangements. You run the house, I run the
empire. I'll see my `Poopsie', you see your mechanic. Let's keep
up appearances," she says, frowning. "Is that how it
has to end up? Just appearances?"
"Not necessarily," he tells her. "For most people,
the bloom never leaves the rose." She stops dancing.
"There's no guarantee of that."
"The risk goes with the territory. For you and I, we risk
our lives every day."
"Professionally. Maybe that's enough risk for me."
He looks around. "We're not dancing."
"You know the old song- `My Heart Won't do the Things My
Feet Want to Do'?"
"I think you have that reversed," he tells her.
She shakes her head. "Not tonight I don't." She turns
and leaves him on the dance floor.
He smiles at another couple, straightening his tie as he follows
The next day, Steele, wearing white mechanic's coveralls and
his sunglasses, is in Betsy Lindner's car. She's approaching
as he tries the key. It doesn't work. He gets out of the car.
"Hi," he says. "Alfred Mainwaring. Walter and
I were about to announce our partnership when the- dreadful tragedy
occurred," he tells a smiling Betsy.
"Oh. Walter didn't tell me he was going into a partnership."
"You know how discreet he was," Steele tells her, trying
to put his sunglasses into his pocket, and missing twice before
"Indeed. Are you as well trained as Walter?"
"Stuttgart, '81," he says.
"With honors," Betsy adds, still smiling.
"Of a sort," he tells her, giving her a winning smile.
She responds. "I think I can find some use for you,"
she tells him.
He nods, a little worried.
At Sandra Cassen's, she tells him, "Scratch us off your
list. We're taking our business back to the dealer."
He looks over the car. "Are you sure they'll provide the
same quality of service?" Steele questions.
"What do you mean by that?"
He opens the car door. "Some of the bigger, more personal
operations, tend to over look the," he gets into the car,
"telling detail." He tries the key, it doesn't fit.
"What are you doing?" she demands to know. "Get
out of my car!"
"Ah," he says, getting out. "I can see you're
a woman of decision, Mrs. Cassen. Yes." He closes the door.
At the Montagues, he has to face BOTH Tommy and Anne. He's under
the car as they watch him. A drop of oil hits him squarely in
the face. "Yes. Yes, ahh, yes." He gets up, wiping
his face. "Yes, well, it leaks oil."
"Do you specialize in diagnoses?" Anne asks.
"I'd check out the crankshaft and the gaskets," Tommy
"Ah, yes. Crankshaft and gaskets," Steele repeats.
"Yes. Critical. Very critical."
"Well, how long do you think it will take to fix?"
Anne wants to know.
"Well, a day or two," he tells her.
"A day or two?" Anne repeats.
"It's leaked oil before, and Walter's had it fixed in an
hour," Tommy tells him.
Steele gets into the car. "Walter's one fault. Slapdash.
That's why he asked me to come in. To slow things down."
"You're SURE he was going to make you a partner?" Anne
asks as Steele digs for the key.
"Yes, uh, wouldn't want to have any dissatisfied customers,
now, would we?" he asks, trying the key. He has trouble
getting it out. "Don't want to kind of- desecrate Walter's
memory." He closes the door.
"Uh," Tommy says, "Where do you think you're going?"
"Test drive," Steele says. Tommy tosses him the keys.
"Thank you." He starts the engine. "Ah, yes. Hear
that? Yes." He drives the car to a garage, where he tells
the mechanic, "Speed is of the essence," while holding
some money in his hand.
"A couple, maybe three hours," the man says.
Steele pulls out another bill. "Double the work force."
He stuffs the money into the man's pocket.
"That'll triple your charges."
"I admire your mathematics," Steele says, stuffing
a third bill into the pocket as the man smiles.
"I like yours too. Come back in an hour." He hands
Steele a paper.
"Thank you," Steele says.
At the headquarters for Dumont Oil, Charles is talking to someone
on the phone as Emily comes in. "I'll be in Brussels on
Wednesday. We can re-negotiate." He sees Emily and covers
the phone. "What are you doing here?"
She shows him a newspaper article. "As Mr. Steele predicted,"
she says. "The autopsy's convinced the police it WAS murder."
Charles tells his caller, "I'll call you back." He
stands up. "Now don't be frightened. You didn't do it."
"It's not myself I'm frightened for," she tells him.
"Then who?" he asks, then frowns as she looks at him.
"Me? I didn't even know about you and Mueller until after
he was dead."
"So you lead me to believe," she says.
"Do you think I'm- capable of killing somebody?" he
"How do I know? After all these years, I don't know you
any better than you know me."
The intercom buzzes, and Charles asks, "What is it?"
"Laura Holt to see you," the secretary tells him.
"Laura Holt to see ME?" he questions.
"Well let her come in," Emily tells him. He looks at
her. "Let her come in!"
"Send her in." He looks at Emily. "What's this
"I don't know. Do you?"
Laura enters the office. "Morning."
"Last night, Mr. Steele and I were run off the road by an
oil truck. You're the only oil man in the community," she
tells him, placing her hands on his desk.
"Last night," Charles says, "one of our trucks
was stolen." He picks up a paper. "Here's the report.
It was abandoned fifty miles down the coast. Read it yourself,"
he says, handing it to her. "It's time stamped."
She takes it. "I'll take your word. But I'd like to look
at the truck. It might tell us something."
"I seem to remember dismissing you," Charles points
Laura is reading the report as she answers. "Mr. Steele
and I decided not to hear it."
Emily smiles. "Thank heavens."
"Miss Holt . . ."
"Careful, Charles," Emily warns. "Here's somebody
who's not afraid of you."
Laura puts the report down. "And you have no reason to be
afraid of us. We want to help. Somebody borrowed your truck for
a murder attempt," she tells him. "They may not be
trying to frame you, but they're certainly not your friend."
"Listen to her," Emily begs. "For once listen
He almost smiles. "What do you want me to do, Miss Holt?"
"Don't keep any secrets from me," she tells him.
They go to the truck yard, and he takes her to the recovered
truck. "Is this the one?" he asks.
"I can't swear to that," she tells him. "It was
dark. But it could have been." She opens the door and climbs
up with his help. "Whoever ran us off the road would have
to have some experience driving one of these, wouldn't they?"
she asks, getting into the cab.
"I'd say so. They're not easy."
"Have you driven one?"
"Yeah. Not for thirty years. And not last night."
"What about your friends?" she asks, searching the
He laughs. "I doubt if any of them ever had to. Most of
them are old money. I'm one of the few self made men around here.
When I started in the oil fields, I had nothing but my two hands
and one very lucky break."
She looks at him. "What was that?"
"A bright, educated, loving wife. Yeah, Emily. She pushed
me. Taught me. Supported me. I was crazy about her." Laura
listens to him. "I really wanted to succeed. She gave me
"Sounds like a lovely beginning," Laura says.
"Yeah, it was. Then when she told me about Mueller, I realized
how much we've lost. Somewhere along the line, it changed from
ecstasy to exasperation. Oh, I kept myself very busy, with grand
plans, building an empire. Let me tell you something, Miss Holt,
when you're smart, ambitious, independent, it's a lot easier
to maintain a career than a relationship." She looks down.
"Don't ever make that mistake."
"I'll try to remember that," she says, then finds some
pills in the seat. "You think these belong to one of your
He shakes his head. "I don't let them drive on medication."
She gets the pills and he helps her out of the truck.
Steele returns to the garage to collect the Montague car, only
to find it deserted. "Hello?" he calls out. "Anybody
home?" The car's still on the lift, and he goes over to
it. Placing his hand on the button that he thinks will lower
the car, he leaps out of the way when an engine nearly drops
in his head instead. He sits up, relieved, looking nervous.
- Laura walks into
Steele's' office as Mildred is applying an ice bag to Steele
shoulder as he moans.
- "Did you see
a doctor?" asks a concerned Laura.
- "He wouldn't
go Miss Holt," replies Mildred.
- Laura admonishes
Steele. "When you 'phoned you *promised* you'd see a doctor."
- Steele lifts his
hand from his face, "My bones have stopped vibrating."
- "Any idea what
- "Someone obviously
re-wired the switches."
- "Good place
*not* to do business," comments Mildred.
when you have enemies in Rancho Santa Luisa."
- Laura reaches into
her handbag and pulls out her hand containing tablets. "Well,
apparently our enemy gets all tensed up when he tries to kill
someone. Nitroglycerine tablets. I found them in the oil truck."
"Those are for heart conditions," Mildred tells them.
"My ex husband used them. That's how I discovered he had
Steele, after studying the pills, hands them back to Laura. "Do
those belong to someone in Dumont's social circle?" he asks,
flexing his sore shoulder.
"The druggist felt THAT information was confidential,"
Laura tells him.
"Hmm. Maybe he should take a share of Lord Marchmane's memoirs,"
"He did suggest that over half the men in Ranch Santa Luisa
have heart conditions," Laura tells him.
"That's one of the perks of a seven figure income,"
Mildred comments. "THAT my ex husband didn't have."
"The druggist won't talk," Steele says, "The police
are probably one step behind us. Suggestions, Miss Holt?"
She holds up the key. "We crash a party."
"If we play our cards right," she says, grabbing his
hand, "one of the guests is going to get her just desserts."
Mildred holds out the ice bag, but Steele shakes his head no.
At the Lindner's Laura and Steele arrive. "You're on, Miss
Holt," he tells her.
As she moves into the house, he notices a pool of oil on the
pavement and kneels to check it out, looking thoughtful.
Laura finds all four women inside, along with two other women.
Betsy sees her and smiles. "Miss Holt. What a lovely surprise,"
she says, getting up.
"You may change your mind about that, Mrs. Lindner. I suspect
that more than one of you knows that I'm not what I pretended
to be. I'm a private detective. Investigating the death of Walter
Betsy sits down again. "Oh, it was SO tragic."
"Poor Walter," Sandra says, "he was a wonderful
"Yes," Betsy agrees with a smile. "And he knew
"I don't relish telling you this," Laura says, "But,
several of you were sharing Walter's more- personal services."
She faces the women. Emily is surprised. "His appointment
book details the dates, the times, and the charges. I know he
tried to blackmail one of you, so I have to assume he may have
tried on all of you. This key was found on Mueller's body. Sooner
or later my associate and I are going to find whose Mercedes
it fits. If it's yours, I urge you to make it sooner."
Sandra puts down her glass. "Betsy, darling, I have scads
of errands," she says.
"I have an appointment, too," one of the other women
says. The only two women left sitting are Betsy and Emily.
"I'm not even going to TRY to make an excuse," another
woman says. They file past Betsy.
Sandra tries again. "My 450 happens to need a great deal
of . . ." She looks at Laura, seeing her interested expression.
"Oh, forget it." She leaves.
"I hope you find the killer," Anne tells her. "Walter
was no angel, but I don't approve of murder. Good bye, dear,"
she tells Betsy.
Emily gets up. "Good bye, Betsy." She and Laura walk
toward the door together.
"I had to do that, I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I never asked myself if I was the only one,"
Emily admits. "But I suspected I knew the answer."
The women leave, and Steele is watching from the rose bushes
as Anne gets into Sandra's car with her. Emily and Laura come
out. "I'll call you," Emily tells her. "Bye-bye."
Laura waves at her. Betsy comes out of the house. "Miss
Holt, I have to talk to you. That key belongs to my husband's
car. But I can explain. You see," she stops as Steele approaches.
"Alfred. Alfred," she says, smiling.
"Remington Steele," he tells her. "Miss Holt and
I we, uh, we-work together."
"Oh," she says, obviously disappointed. "Should
have known you were too good to be true."
"About your husband's car, Mrs. Lindner," Laura says,
reminding her of their conversation.
"Oh, yes. Well, we took MY car to the Dumont's yesterday,
and we left Phil's here for Walter to fix the wiring. But, when
we came home, the car was in the driveway, and the hood was up,
but the work wasn't completed."
"Hmm," Steele muses. "Hasty departure, eh?"
"From this world, I suspect," Laura agrees.
"What?" Betsy asks. "You think Walter was murdered
"Umm, Mrs. Lindner, how long as that oil stain been on your
"Well, the gardeners were here yesterday morning, they would
have cleaned it up."
"And it's dry enough to have been here overnight,"
Laura says. "You wouldn't have seen it in the dark."
"I suspect I'm all too familiar with the car that made it,"
Steele says, pulling Laura toward the car as a confused Betsy
As they approach a house, a helicopter is running. Steele starts
for the front of the house, but Laura stops him, pointing out
Anne and Tommy Montague, carrying suitcases, heading for the
helicopter. "Sudden wanderlust?" Steele asks.
"We're going to our place in the mountains," Tommy
tells them calmly.
"In a business suit?" Laura asks him.
"Apparently you aren't familiar with the morays of Rancho
Santa Luisa," Tommy tells them.
"Yes. Appearances ARE everything, aren't they?" Laura
Steele looks at the helicopter. "A man who flies a helicopter,
knows as much about cars as you do-could probably drive an oil
truck. Wouldn't you agree, Mr. Montague?"
"It made you very tense to try to kill us," Laura says,
holding up a pill. "So you needed these."
"What are they?" Anne asks.
"Oh, doesn't your wife know about your heart condition,
Mr. Montague?" Steele asks.
Tommy tosses his suit bag and case at Steele. Then he and Anne
take off the other direction, toward the lake, where they jump
into a boat.
Seeing that, Steele turns toward the helicopter. "You're
going the wrong way!" Laura yells.
He grabs her arm. "You can't out swim a motorboat,"
he tells her, dragging her with him. He gets in and starts checking
gauges, flipping switches.
"Don't tell me one of us knows how to fly this thing!"
"It's amazing what you can pick up when your life's at stake,"
he tells her.
"Vietnam?" Laura asks.
"Monte Carlo, actually." They take off go in pursuit
of the boat. Tommy tries to out run them.
"All right, Sky King," Laura says. "How are we
going to stop them?"
"Take over!" he tells her, removing his sunglasses.
Laura's eyes widened with incredulity. "What? You're the
"It's quite simple, Laura. This lever makes it go up and
down, and this stick makes it go left or right!" He opens
the door and climbs out onto the leg.
Laura is terrified. Steele lowers himself, then looks down. "Laura!
Down a bit!"
"Is this all right?" she asks.
"You're doing famously! Wonderfully!" he tells her,
swaying dangerously near to falling into the water. "Left!"
Finally he drops into the boat and makes short work of Tommy,
hitting him and sending him into the water before taking over
the controls. Anne, stunned, looks back to where Tommy fell.
Laura yells. "Would somebody get me down!!!"
Later, Laura and Steele are at the restaurant again, dancing.
"Poor Anne. She broke the cardinal rule. She fell in love
with Mueller. But when she went to the Lindner's to ask him to
go away with her, he laughed in her face."
Steele nods. "So when his back was turned, she picked up
one of his tools and - It's amazing the strength that raging
anger gives you."
"Or a raging hurt."
"But she needed her husband to move the body over to the
Dumont's," Steele points out.
"And he was willing to keep her secret rather than expose
an empty marriage."
"Your dancing shows a vast improvement tonight," he
tells her. "Heart and feet more in sync?"
"I'm working on it."
"Bodes well for our future," he says.
Laura glances around, and sees the Dumonts dancing closely. "Look
who's here. He may be the first man in Rancho Santa Luisa to
actually bring his wife to this place."
Charles notices them. "Umm. There's Steele and Miss Holt,"
he tells Emily. "Certainly didn't expect to see them in
a place like this."
"Let's not interrupt them," Emily says.
"Let's not interrupt them," Laura tells Steele. "Now.
About your helicopter training in Monte Carlo," she says.
He shrugs. "Oh,. Nothing terribly interesting." He
looks around, as if trying to avoid the topic, but seeing her
looking at him, says, "Several million in gold bullion,
a beautiful but treacherous Contessa, a frantic flight across
Laura yawns. "Right. Just- run of the mill stuff,"