- Red Holt Steele
- Transcribed from the
Episode Written by:
- Lee Zlotoff
- Added dialogue is
The show opens with
Laura running through a park. She's wearing what looks like a
small radio and headset until she hears Steele's voice and smiles.
"Good morning, Miss Holt."
"Good morning, Mr. Steele. Nice of you to join me."
Steele is above, with a cigar in hand, a camera to his eye, focused
on her. "Well, you know I've always found a touch of rigorous
physical excercise in the morning so--"
"Invigorating to watch?" she asks with a laugh. "What's
the matter? Not enough birds around to hold your interest?"
"On the contrary. In fact, at the moment, there's a long
legged field darter that's downright riveting." He focuses
in on her again.
"You don't say. And I never knew you had such an interest
in - uh- ornithology."
"Well, there's always that rare bird out there, just beyond
"What about Thorpe? Any sign of him yet? I trust you're
still watching for him."
He turns the camera elsewhere. "Oh, like a hawk, Miss Holt.
Like a hawk." He scans the area, finding a black BMW as
"If our tip is solid, the meeting should occur any day now."
Steele sits up as he spies two men. "This Thorpe. He doesn't
by any chance drive a black BMW, wear dark suits by an inferior
tailor and need to lose something in the neighborhood of ten
Laura stops. "That's Thorpe. Where can I catch him?"
"Communing with the orchids," Steele tells her.
"Got ya." Laura gives him the high sign and starts
in that direction as Steele grabs his camera, paints and easel.
In the orchid house, Thorpe and his companion meet with a third
man. Thorpe hands the third man some money, and the second one,
who's obviously nervous, hands him a file. Thorpe calls their
attention to some nuns that have entered to look at the orchids,
and the three men go outside.
Laura is stretching her legs at a tree, watching the road. "Here
they come," she tells Steele, who's got his camera again
and is watching. "Have you got them?" she asks, turning
up the gain on her radio.
"Fish in a barrel, my dear."
As they approach, Thorpe says, "Of course, this'll help,
but we're going to need you with us to pull it off."
The man is nervous. "I don't know. It wasn't just Stoney.
My wife and I were friends with those people. And then there's
The third man tells him, "Why don't we let the Foundation
dictate those decisions for the time being, Mr.Thorpe, and then
we'll see--" He stops as an alarm starts going on. Thorpe
turns to him as he pulls a scanning device out of his pocket.
"What's that?" the second man asks.
Thorpe frowns. "We're being bugged?"
"Be quiet," the man orders.
Laura is worried. "They dropped off. What's happening?"
she asks Steele.
"Thorpe's in the way. I can't tell."
The man points the device directly at Laura and the pitch increases.
Thorpe points to her as she tries to readjust her radio. "It's
coming from her!"
The second man asks, "What do we do?"
Thorpe says, "Well, we stop her!" He takes off, as
the third man tries to stop him.
"Thorpe. Thorpe, don't!"
Laura sees them, says, "I got trouble." She takes off
away from her pursuers.
"On my way," Steele assures her, on the move as well.
Only Thorpe and the second man are chasing Laura, and they manage
to trap her on a bridge over a waterfall. She climbs over and
moves along the edge of the falls, climbing downward, still pursued.
As she nears the road, Steele arrives, driving the Rabbit. He
honks the horn, and she leaps into the car, her head in his lap.
"Nice of you to join me, Miss Holt."
"My pleasure," she says in return.
At Laura's house, she's resting her sore feet on an ice pack,
reading The Great American Movie Book, when there's a
knock on the door. "It's open!" she calls.
Mildred enters. "Mr. Steele? Oh, hello, Miss Holt."
Laura puts the book down. "Oh, come in. Come in, Mildred."
Mildred comes father in, carrying a notebook and a manila envelope.
"Mr. Steele should be here in a few minutes. Are those the
pictures?" she asks, reaching for them.
Mildred changes arms with them, putting them away from Laura.
"Oh, yes. He called me and asked me to bring them to him
personally, just as soon as they came out of the lab." Laura
is frustrated. Mildred notices the ice bag. "Oh. What happened?"
"It's an occupational hazard. It's nothing, really."
She gets up, reaching again for the envelope. "But let's
have a look at those-"
Mildred turns away, to the windows. "So this is where you
live. Oh, isn't it nice? It's very nice."
"I'm glad you like it, Mildred -" she says, reaching
once more, only to have Mildred turn again.
"Oh, and drapes. Oh, good drapes. *This* is professional
decorating." She eludes Laura again, holding the envelope
behind her. "Oh, did you do this all by yourself?"
Laura moves slowly closer. "I'm redoing the Rockerfeller
summer house next week-" she lunges as Mildred turns and
sees something in the next room.
"Oh, and a piano! And a pussy cat." She pets the black
kitten. "Oh, isn't he sweet?" She starts playing the
piano. The cat jumps down. "I didn't know you could play.
Oh, my. This is an old one, isn't it?"
"It was a gift." Mildred stops playing. "From
my first client, actually."
"I don't remember seeing it listed on your tax return."
"It was my grandmother. She gave me a quarter to find a
missing ring. I was six at the time."
"Mildred, I'm sure Mr. Steele wouldn't mind if I took a
quick look at those pictures-" She reaches again.
"Pictures? Oh, these? Oh, I'm sorry, Miss Holt, but- he
is our boss -"
Laura nods, looks away, then leaps across the piano toward Mildred,
missing the envelope, but knocking a glass vase onto the floor,
shattering it. Laura looks terribly frustrated.
"OOh. You've got bare feet," Mildred says quickly.
"Don't move. I'll go get something." She takes off.
The front door opens, and Steele calls, "Laura!" he
enters, a bit surprised to find her laying on the piano, with
glass on the floor. "Sorry I'm late. Mustn't keep the client
waiting, 'ey?" He looks at her, not asking why she was there.
"Did- Mildred arrive all right with the pictures?"
"Mildred arrived all right with the pictures," she
tells him angrily as Mildred returns with a whisk broom and dustpan.
"Oh, Mr. Steele. I am so sorry. This is all my fault. Here
are the pictures you wanted." Laura looks away, angry.
"Oh, thank you. Thank you." She sweeps up the glass
as he looks at them. "Oh, excellent work, Mildred, as usual.
Excellent." Mildred finishes cleaning up the glass, and
Laura gets down. "So, tell me, Laura. Where did R.J. say
she was going to meet us?" he asks, holding the pictures
out her reach. She sighs in frustration.
In an airplane cockpit, a woman is in trouble as alarms go off.
"This is the tower to RJ Stonewell. Are you mayday? Over."
"I'm gonna drop the nose, let her spin, see if I can push
her out at the bottom. Over!"
"Fifteen seconds to ground. Ten seconds."
"Come on, baby! Come on!"
RJ looks up and sees Steele tapping on the glass, having lifted
the black out cover. "Anything I can do to lend a hand?"
he asks. She frowns and waves toward him.
They go into the hanger of the company. "I'm not the type
to scream sabatoge, but when you can't get the parts you need,
and nothing works when you *do* get them, and the bankers won't
return your phone calls--I got sick of hearing it was all just
'bad luck'. Especially since what they're really thinking is
I'm just not cut out to run this business."
"That's why we decided to have a meeting in the park this
morning with Mr. Thorpe," Steele tells her.
RJ is surprised. "Stuart Thorpe?"
Laura takes the ball. "Since Thorpe Aviation seems to be
one of your toughest competitors, we f-" She glances at
Steele, who smiles. "Uh-That is, Mr. Steele felt that there
was a chance he might be behind some of the problems you've been
Steele holds out the pictures. "Aside from Thorpe, do you
recognize either of the other two?"
She studies them. She frowns, pointing to the second man. "Keever."
Laura asks, "Keever?"
"That's Greg Keever. He helped Stoney design the new airplane
before the-- before the heart attack. He was even sitting next
to me at the funeral, when I swore come hell or high water, this
company was gonna stay alive until Stoney's new plane was finished."
"Does he still work for you?" Steele asks.
"Well, he has his own engineering company, but he's under
firm contract to us. Oh, Greg."
"What about the third man in the pictures?" Laura asks.
"No, never saw him before."
"Unfortunately," Laura tells her, "I think we've
found your problem. Do you still want us to stay with this?"
RJ is angry. "Knowing's one thing. But I want you to go
back and get me courtroom proof that Keever and Thorpe are the
ones who're keeping us grounded. When I set out to kick some
tail, it never hurts to be wearin' a good, stiff, boot."
- RJ looks at the
next picture and asks, "What's this suppose to be?"
- Steele is visibly
embarrassed when he sees it's the picture of Laura doing stretching
exercises in the park. "Oh yes, that. It's... ah..."
- Laura, smiling sweetly,
cuts in "Uh..it's an excellent example of the long-legged
field darter, I believe, eh, Mr. Steele?"
- Steele coughs, "Precisely,
yes, ..ooh," while he takes the pictures from RJ. He turns
away from the women slightly and ogles the picture with a smile.
In a room somewhere, the third man in the pictures is lighting
a cigarette, listening as two men give him a report. "Substantial
weakening of Thorpe Aviation's primary competitor, Stonewell
Aircraft, has been accomplished. Deliveries of critical supplies
have been interrupted, and all their attempts to secure additional
operating captial have been successfully blocked. To summarize,
the company shouldn't make it though the end of the year."
"Thank you, Paul," the man says.
"Is there cause to make a change in the sequence profile?"
"It may be necessary to intervene directly." He looks
at the other man. "What about the park incident?"
"From the license number provided, we've established she
is Laura Holt. Graduated from Stanford University suma cum laude,
became an apprentice at the Havenhurst Detective Agency, rising
to the rank of full operative in an unprecedented three years.
Left to form Laura Holt Investigations, which closed six months
later. From there has been employed for the last three point
five years with Remington Steele Investigations. We have not
been able to generate a satisfactory work up on Mr. Steele as
of the moment. Any recommendations about her?"
The man turns from the window. "Where does she live?"
That evening, Laura and Steele are in the limo, having champagne.
"To a day in the park and night on the town," Laura
"Chin chin," he says. "I must admit, you did some
very impressive work today, Laura," Steele tells her.
"Thank you. Which part impressed you the most? The running?
The taping? Or the jumping into the car?"
"I think the part where you - landed in my arms, actually."
"Oh." They're about to kiss, when the phone rings.
Steele is frustrated, and Laura answers. "Hello? Yes, Mildred.
What is it?" Her smile fades. "Yes, Mildred. Mr. Steele
is right here." She covers the mouthpiece of the phone.
"You're going to have a little talk with our Miss Krebbs
very, very soon."
He nods, taking the phone. "Really? What about?" He
speaks into the phone as Laura sips her champagne. "Yes,
Mildred? Steele here. Really? Are you sure it was her? No. No,
no bother at all, Mildred. Okay. Thank you. Bye." He hangs
up, a thoughful expression on his face. "Hmm. That's odd."
"RJ Stonewell called. Told Mildred she'd had a change of
heart, wants us to drop the case. We're simply to send her a
The limo stops before Laura's house and they get out as Laura
says, "But that doesn't make any sense."
Steele taps the top of the car, and moves toward the house with
Laura as it moves away. "Well, we'll call her in the morning.
No sense taking the blush off an otherwise perfect evening, is
"No," Laura agrees, getting out her keys. "No
sense at all."
Steele takes the keys from her "Now, the key." He unlocks
the door and opens it slightly, unknowingly setting off a timer
inside. The cat runs out.
"Nero," Laura calls, starting to follow. "Now
what's his problem?"
Steele stops her. "What say we go inside and find reasons
to turn the lights off instead, ey?"
Laura puts her arms around his neck. "But Mr. Steele. My
cat doesn't have any claws."
"Oh." The timer is still couting down.
"How will he defend himself?"
"When he comes back, I'll give him boxing lessons,"
"By then it may be too late," Laura says, and they
kiss for a moment. When the kiss ends, she says, rather breathlessly,
"Let's look for Nero."
Steele nods, not really enthusiastic about the idea, and they
turn from the house, with Laura calling the cat. As they move
away, an explosion rips through the house, and Steele pushes
Laura to the grass, shielding her body with his. After a moment,
they both turn and look to find Laura's house engulfed in an
The next morning
a fire engine and a police car are seen leaving the street in
front of what used to be Laura's house. She stands looking forlornly
at the remains of her house, wearing Mr. Steele's suit jacket
over her shoulders. Steele is raking some of the debris as if
looking for anything salvageable. A woman wearing a hard-hat
and carrying a clipboard walks up behind her. "Ooh, boy.
This IS bad." She looks at Laura. "You and your husband
not my husband...he's um....that is, um..yes, this is my...um.."
she stops and closes her eyes as if she's trying not to cry.
"It was my home" she says softly.
- "Yeah, hey.
It's rough, believe me, I know," the woman says. "I
gotta see this thing all the time. Oh, the name's Pechelski,
but most of my cases just end up calling me Frannie" She
takes Laura's hand and shakes it. Laura is too dazed to respond
so Frannie continues. "See...ah..with a big bang like this
the Fire Marshall hollers "gas" and the company brass
knows it's lawsuit city, so the sooner we can get in there and
get an ok from your insurance company, the better off we're all
gonna be, understand?"
- But Laura has started
walking away from the woman toward the burned remains of her
home. She's not listening to
- "The sooner I can get in there
and get an okay from your insurance company, the better off we're
all gonna be, understand?" Laura moves away. "Okay.
No big rush. It's just that, see, if we could get through questions
say, one through ten on this questionaire, then that's really
gonna cut red tape on down the line. Take for example this question
number three-" Laura stands, looking at the remains of her
piano. "Now, did you notice any trouble with your gas appliances?"
Steele notices the direction of Laura's gaze. "This would
include your gas stove, or your water heater- you didn't have
a hot tub, did ya?" Laura's anger bubbles over, and she
tosses Steele's jacket at the woman as she takes off to the Rabbit.
"Laura!" Steele calls.
"Alright, forget about question six. How about question
Laura gets into the Rabbit and takes off. Steele retrieves his
jacket, heading toward the limo. "Fred! Fred!!"
At RJ's, RJ ignores the bell for as long as she can. "Who
is it?" she finally asks.
RJ lets her in reluctantly, a false smile pasted on her face.
"WEll. You were ringing that bell so hard, I thought you
"You called last night and dropped the case. Why?"
"Oh, heck, Miss Holt. It's not even seven o'clock in the
Laura grabs her and turns her around. "I know what time
it is. I wanna know why did you drop the case?"
"As soon as I cooled down from seeing those pictures you
took, I got to thinking. Greg Keever's practically been family
to us. Oh, hell, he was laying the floor here when Stoney and
I took over this old place. And I thought, well, the best way
to handle this is if Greg and I just sit down and have a long
talk and work this whole thing out."
"That's not good enough. Your problems went a lot farther
than Greg Keever and you knew it."
"Maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm just not cut out to run
this business. When Stoney was alive, didn't seem like there
was a mountain too big to be moved. But without him--I don't
know. You can't fly an airplane with only one wing."
"You told me you and Stoney built this business brick by
brick from a dirt runway and a two seater training plane. Yesterday
you'd so much as hang anybody who so much as slowed you down.
Now I want to know *What happened*?!"
"A man called," RJ tells her.
"Men like that usually don't give their names," RJ
tells her darkly. "He told me that Stoney didn't *really*
die of a heart attack. I thought it must be some kook, so I said,
'Oh, well, how do you know that?' And then he started reading
me some numbers. He told me the date of my marriage. He told
me the number of the first airplane we ever sold. He told me
the combination of the safe in my office. And then he told me
the addresses of every one of my grandchildren. I don't scare
so easy, Miss Holt."
Laura put a comforting hand on her arm. "We'll make it known
that we're no longer working for Stonewell Aircraft."
Steele unlocks the door to his apartment, and he and Laura enter.
She's talking a mile a minute. "This thing must run deeper
than a couple of corporate dirty tricks. We're close to it. Otherwise,
why hit back so hard?"
"We've been over Thorpe pretty well, but maybe we've missed
something. And then there's Keever." Steele takes off his
jacket. "Maybe there's a connection there we're not seeing."
She continues. "What about that third man in the pictures?
We still don't know who he is." Steele sits down in the
arm of the sofa. "On the tape, he said something about a
foundation, didn't he?" She picks up the phone. "I'll
have Mildred check it out. Could be another-" Steele grabs
the phone from her and hangs it up.
"Laura, let it go for a minute," he says, pushing her
onto the sofa. "You've just been through one bloody hell
of a shock."
"I'm all right!"
"Well I'm not! And I've still got a place to call home!"
She's angry. "Look, we're exhausted. We reek of smoke. There's
a shower in there, use it. You'll find some fresh clothes in
the closet. Stretch out on the bed for an hour or two. Can you
Laura stands up. "I'm *not* running from this!"
"So don't run, but at least have the common sense to stop
and catch your breath, woman!"
Laura picks up the phone. "You wanna kick back on this thing?
No one's stoppin' you." She dials the phone.
Steele is angry as well. "You're right. Perhaps you need
some time by yourself." He leaves, slamming the door behind
Laura frowns. "I'm sorry," she says- too late for him
to hear it.
Outside, Steele pauses, then locks the security lock with his
key, locking Laura in the apartment.
He goes to a restaurant with the sign "Headquarters, 14th
Aero Squadron", and sees Thorpe at a table with some other
people. The head waiter comes over to him, asks "Pardon,
m'sieu. 'ow many in your party?" in a French accented voice.
"Two," Steele tells him, removing his jacket and handing
it to the man. "Just show my friend here where it is. I'll
be along in a moment." Steele grabs a towel from a table
and places it over his left arm, then picks up a coffee pot from
a passing tray. He goes to Thorpe's table. "Everything all
right here, gentlemen? More coffee?" He moves to Thorpe.
"And you sir? Oh, and Mr. Thorpe, there's a phone call for
"Take a message."
"They said it was urgent, sir."
"I told you to take a message."
"Very well, sir." He spills some of the coffee, and
puts down the pot. He and Thorpe both look at the floor, and
Steele grabs his tie. "This is one call you're goin' t'answer,
mate." He drags Thorpe up, pulling him by his tie toward
the door. "Poor gentleman's got something caught in his
throat-" He pulls the man out of the building. "Come
on. Come on." He pushes Thorpe against a tree. "Now,
Mr. Thorpe. You and I are going to have a nice, little chat.
Because I'm not at all pleased with the way things are going."
"Look, I told Veckmer I'd leave it all to him, now. You
don't have to drive it home!"
"He didn't send you?"
"No. I'm just the sort who takes expection to someone trying
to kill a member of my firm. A rather valuable member."
"Look, I didn't try to kill anyone. I swear. I don't know
what you're talkin' about."
"Then who's this Veckmer character?" He pokes Thorpe
in the head. "I'm asking nicely, Mr. Thorpe. You don't want
to see me lose my temper, ey?"
The head waiter calls, without a trace of French accent. "Hey!
What is this? What do you think you're doin'?"
Steele hesitates, then backs off. "All right." He pats
Thorpe's cheek, then goes to the headwaiter and retrieves his
coat. "Cancel my table, will you, okay?" he leaves.
At the Enterprow Foundation, Thorpe gets clearance through the
gate and enters the building where the three men were talking
earlier. "Because this thing is just going too far now,"
he tells the third man and his lackeys. "All right. You
could make my company a front runner, I was willing to look the
other way. Here and there-" He speaks to Paul. "But
murder. That kind of blood I don't need on my hands, buddy boy."
"You agreed that the means of acheiving our mutual goals
would be left entirely in our discretion," Paul reminds
him. The head man looks on approvingly.
Thorpe isn't satisfied. "What? Are you guys crazy or something?
You weren't there at that restuarant today. Whoever he is, that
joker wanted to tear my head off. Uh-uh. I think maybe we just
call it quits right here and now."
The man says, "Unfortunately, Paul, I think Mr. Thorpe is
right. We have gone too far this time. In our desire to protect
the interests of our client, we've lost sight of the bigger picture."
He looks at Thorpe. "I'm sorry, Stuart. We'll do everything
we can to rectify this situation in whatever way you think best."
He's walking Thorpe to the door as he speaks. The two lackeys
exhange a glance.
"Well. Okay then." They shake hands, and Thorpe leaves.
Steele enters the apartment. "Laura?" he calls. "Laura?"
She's not there. He goes into the bedroom, returning with the
smoke stained dress she'd been wearing. Worrying, he finds a
note pad with Keever's name and number on it. G. Keever, Aerospace
Design, 118 15th Ave.
He takes the Rabbit to find her, and finds himself in a traffic
jam near the address. "Oh, damn." Seeing fire trucks,
police cars and an ambulance, he asks another driver, "What's
She shrugs. "I don't know. They said somebody jumped off
a building, or something."
Steele looks at the rooftops. "Laura," he says, getting
out of the car and rushing to the ambulance, pushing his way
through. A cop stops him.
"Whoa there, pal."
"I've got to see her. Is she hurt badly?"
"Nobody gets through. Besides, it ain't a she, it's a he."
Steele looks past him just in time to see them pull a sheet over
Thorpe's dead body.
Later that evening,
the doorbell buzzes at Remington's apartment, and he comes out
of the bedroom, wearing jeans, his hair wet from a shower, a
towel over his neck, holding a sweatshirt. He puts it on over
the towel as he walks through the living room, then removes the
towel and opens the door to find Laura there, wearing some of
his clothes. "Oh! My, my, my. I approve of your tailor."
"You've pulled some pretty tacky stunts to get me up here
alone, but this has got to be a new low."
"You know me. For the right woman, there's no limit to the
depths I'll sink."
"Like trying to lock me in this afternoon? Luckily, your
doorman had a spare key."
"Merely trying to give you time to collect your thoughts.
Now, are you going to come in? Or are we going to need the doorman's
help with that too?" He steps back.
Laura enters, dropping her jacket on the sofa, but keeping the
file folders she's carrying, and he steers her toward the dining
room, where there are two place settings ready and waiting. "It's
only fair to warn you that one of your gourmet creations would
be wasted on me tonight," she says as he seats her. "Perfection-wise."
"Actually," he tells her, dipping soup into bowls,
"It's your hide I'm trying to preserve. In case you hadn't
noticed, someone out there's trying very hard to kill you."
"I can take of myself," Laura tells him. "I have
for a long time now."
"Yes, well, that was before it made a difference to me,"
"Now, we're going to have some noodle soup. It comes out
of those little foil packets these days. Then you're gonna have
the unprecedented honor of sleeping in my bed- pajamas optional.
While I - keep company with the couch. But no matter how you
slice it, you're stuck with me tonight, so I suggest you make
the best of it."
Laura picks up the files. "Well, if you insist on playing
bodyguard, the least we can do is get some work done. I have
all our files on Thorpe here."
Steele sits down. "Really? I saw our Mr. Thorpe today. Twice,
Laura looks at him."You did?"
"The first time I tried to threaten him to get some information."
"And the second?"
"He was on his way to the morgue. Seems he had a sudden
urge to throw himself off a rooftop."
Laura is stunned. "They killed him. This must go beyond
just- aircraft companies. Must be-" She rises, moves away
as Steele watches her. "Think Keever did this?"
"I-uh, I don't know. But these boys play very nasty. But-
you were saying something before that?"
Laura hesitates, trying to regain her train of thought. "I
was saying - umm- I'll sleep on the couch." Steele nods
as if he expected that.
Late that night, a thunderstorm is raging, rain pouring, and
Laura is sitting on the hearth, crying. Steele comes from his
room, then turns to go back.
"Don't go," Laura begs softly.
He hesitates, then turns around. "Couldn't sleep,"
he says as she comes to stand before him. "Must be the rain,
She nods. "Must be."
"Umm. Ahh, perhaps I should - make us some coffee."
She nods again, still fighting back tears. "Yeah. Some coff-coffee."
Suddenly she's crying again, her arms around his neck, her face
against his shoulder.
"Shh. Shh shh shh, Laura. It's okay," he says gently,
"Why did they have to burn down my house?" she cries.
"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know," he repeats
in a soothing tone, smoothing her hair. She moves away a little.
"Come on." He turns her toward the hearth again.
"I'm so scared," she admits.
"I know. I know."
"Everything's gone. No house, no things. No Bernice, no
Murphy." She sits down.
"Well, I'm here."
Laura looks up at him. "The man with no name?"
He laughs. "Markos," he says.
"Markos?" Laura questions, thinking she's going to
find out his name.
"Markos Androkos," he says. "Little man. Neck
so short he said it wasn't worth washing. Black mustache, thick
like wire. A big smile with a gold tooth in it right here. Oh,
boy, he worked us like dogs, he did. 'Harder, Xenos!' he'd scream
to me. 'Work harder! Don't you want us all to be rich?! Hey?
Hey?'" He laughed again.
Laura watched as he moved to sit down. "Markos."
"Had a little cargo ship- and family that seemed to include
half of Greece. Oh, but he fed you well, and at the time, that
was enough to keep his name in my book. He used to cram every
crack in that ship with anything for anyone, so long as it got
him another dollar closer to buying that bloody tanker. Night
runs were a speciality."
"A smuggler," Laura realized.
"Oh, yes, and a damn good one. Oh, you'd love the party
he threw when he finally bought that bloody tanker. Oh, God.
Had his tooth all shined and gleaming and polished. Huh. And
more food and music and wine than I'd ever seen in my entire
life. 'Drink, Xenos! We are peasants,' he said, filling my glass
for the countless time. 'But tomorrow-" Steele rises. "'Tomorrow,
eh, tomorrow, we are tycoons, eh?'" Laura laughs at his
story, at the little man he's describing so well.
"And were you?" she asks as he sits beside her, his
"Well, we all went down to the pier at dawn to watch it
arrive. She wasn't out there more than two miles before an explosion
in the engine room ripped through the side of the hull - and
before we could believe what was happening, it sank like a stone.
Since he was twelve, he wanted nothing else. And like that-"
he snapped his fingers "-it was gone. No more. The pier
became so quiet we could hear each other breathe." He chuckled.
"And then Markos, he starts to laugh. And I don't mean a
nervous titter, but a full bellied, spit in the sky, all out
laugh. I couldn't bloody believe my ears. I was furious. 'Why
are you laughing?' I screamed at him. 'Because, Xenos because
from now on - everything is new again, eh? Eh? Just *think* of
the possibilities.'" Laura smiles. "Think of the possibilities,"
he tells her.
She looks at him. "Tonight- if you asked me- I don't think
I could say no."
"Tonight- I don't think I *could* ask," he tells her,
cupping her cheek with his hand and kissing her other cheek as
she kissed his hand. "Get some rest. We've got work to do
in the morning."
The next morning, Keever is getting into his car when Laura and
Steele appear. "Hi there," Laura says. "Remember
Keever tries to run. "Uh, uh, uh. You didn't answer the
"What do you want?" he asks nervously.
"To talk about Thorpe," Laura says.
"And Veckmer," Steele adds.
"I don't know anything."
Steele pulls a picture out. "Guess again, Greggy."
"You helped Thorpe sabatoge Stonewell Aircraft."
"That's not true."
"Only the game got a little too rough. You wanted out, Thorpe
refused, so you threw him off a roof."
"No. It's not like that."
"Then tell us how it is," Laura says.
He puts his hands on the car. "All right. I know RJ's having
problems with the company. Then, I get a call from this- Veckmer,
saying that if I really want my plane built, Thorpe is the man
to do it. I have my own firm to think about, you know. And RJ
hasn't been able to pay me since Stoney died, so I agreed to
give Thorpe some preliminary plans for ten thousand dollars,
but that's as far as it went, so help me God."
"Who is this Veckmer?" Steele asks.
"I don't know. He set up that meeting in the park, but-
he always called me. I don't even have a phone number. Now, that's
everything. I swear."
"All right, Keever," Laura says, opening his car door
for him. "But I'd drive carefully if I were you." She
closes the door, then leans down. "The roads are very rough
right now." They move away, as Keever puts a hand to his
Laura and Steele come from the building where Keever's offices
are. "You think he was telling the truth?" Steele asks.
"I don't know. But until Mildred can come up with something
on Veckmer, he's our only lead, and I think we should keep an
eye on him." She's inspecting the leather jacket she's wearing-
one of his, of course.
"A traditional stake out in a car, do you think?"
Laura looks up, and a sign catches her eye. She points to it.
"Let's try there." The sign reads "Conversion
for Lease" and gives a number. 555-7676
The realtor leads them into the warehouse room, there's a peice
of machinery in the center. It's dusty and dark. "Viola!
Takes your breath away, doesn't it?" she asks.
Steele nods. "Yes. And replaces it at the same time,"
he says as Laura coughs. He looks around, unimpressed.
"I know it needs some work. But they've put in a full bathroom.
And this could be a kitchen," she says, leading them across
the room to where the machine is standing. Laura turns a knob
on it, imagines a countertop. "Oh, don't worry about that
old thing. If you take the place, we'll have it removed-"
"No," Laura says. "Leave it. I like it."
Steele is giving Laura an uncomfortable glance. "You- uh
- said something about a view-" he reminded the woman.
She smiles, points them to the window. Laura wipes the grime
from a pane, and they have a perfect view of Keever's doorway.
"What more could we ask for?"
Laura enters the office as Mildred is hanging up the phone. "Ah,
good, Mildred. You're still here. Bring the file and come with
Steele enters the office as well. Mildred picks up the file.
"Okay, Miss Holt."
"Excellent, Mildred, you're still here." Laura goes
into her own office, expecting Mildred to follow. "Come
with me, will you, please?"
"Yes *sir*," Mildred says, turning to follow him. Laura
comes out of her office, looking for Mildred, only to hear her
telling Steele, "This Veckmer is a real tunnel builder."
"Um humm." Laura pulls up her jeans, going to her office.
"Even having worked in fraud for the IRS, we didn't get
many this slippery." Steele sits as Laura enters via the
side door. "But you show me a paper trail, and I'll come
up with something, because I *live* to dig."
Steele puts his feet up. Laura tells Mildred, "Well, before
giving us details of your excavation, Mildred, there's a *small*
administrative point we need to address." She pushes Steele's
feet from the desk. He gives her a worried look. "While
it is more than apparent that Mr. Steele here is the senior member
of the firm-" she puts a hand on his shoulder. "The
fact is that for the nuts and bolts operation we're more or less-
equals." Her fingers dig into his shoulder when he doesn't
answer immediately. "Isn't that right, Mr. Steele?"
"One might even go so far as to say that Miss Holt is in-
charge of such things," he agrees, reaching up to pat her
"He's the boss, but *you're* in charge?" Mildred asks.
"Having worked for the government, Mildred, I wouldn't think
the concept beyond your grasp," Steele points out.
She nods. Laura puts her hands on the desk. "Now. About
Mildred reads from the file. "Well, graduated young from
Wharton Business School with top honors. Then he moved right
into a management job working for the ITQ, and in two years,
he's head of his division."
Mildred closes the file. "And then- Something must have
happened. Because all of a sudden, he's out of there. And for
the last five years - you'll forgive the expression- bubkis.
No new address, no new job. He just- dead ends."
"Maybe we should check that list of foundations again,"
Laura decides, moving to the outer office. Steele nods.
In the outer office, Laura picks up the list and turns back toward
Steele's office when someone comes from the waiting area, clearing
her throat. Laura turns to find RJ standing there. "I didn't
mean to startle ya, Miss Holt."
"That's all right. But- what are you uh-"
"Doing here? Looking for my backbone. So, I went by your
house to tell you- I'm awfully sorry, Miss Holt." Laura
"Yeah. Me too."
"And if these snakes killed Stoney- well, if there's anything
this old prop jockey can do to help, you just holler, you hear
"You got it." RJ gives her a hug, then leaves as Steele
"Was that RJ?"
"She just- paid her bill," Laura tells him. "Let's
get back to Keever. I'll get the car. You grab Mildred's research
and meet me downstairs."
"Okay," he says, having little choice in the arrangements.
At the elevators, Laura is surprised when they open and the gas
company lady comes out. "Miss Holt."
"Ah, come on. Frannie."
Laura starts past her. "Listen, I'm sorry I haven't gotten
to those forms yet, Frannie-" she's saying, but Frannie
grabs her by the neck and pulls a gun from her pocket.
She looks around. "That's okay, Miss Holt," Frannie
says, pulling Laura into the elevator. "The company's going
to take care of everything from now on." The doors close.
In the garage, Frannie says, "Alright, Miss Holt, now I
want you to put your hands in your pockets - and move very, very,
easy." Laura does as she's told, finds some fingernail clippers
in the left pocket.
"The company know you're moonlighting as an assasin, Fran?"
"Wrong company, honey. I been on you full time since the
bomb missed. All right, just a little further." She stops
Laura at the open back doors of a van. "Get into the van.
"Can I take my hands out of my pockets?" Laura asks.
"All right." Laura pulls out the nail clipper, file
extended, and stabs Frannie's arm with it, distracting her and
making her lose the gun. Laura runs to retrieve the weapon, but
before she can do it, Frannie's in the van and gone. Laura just
misses her chance to fire the gun.
When Steele gets there, Laura's standing by a pillar, the nail
clippers in her hand. "Laura. You're extraordinary. I've
been looking everywhere for those clippers. Where'd you find
"Here," she says, handing him the gun. "You can
have this too."
"Where'd this come from?" he asks.
"Gas company," she tells him, moving toward the car.
In the loft, Laura asks, "Anything happening?"
"Uh uh," Steele tells her. "By anything you mean
to include the toga party up the block, the elderly couple doing
excercises to Johnny Carson, or the nude saxophonist, or Keever's
place, which hasn't changed in the last four hours?"
"A nude saxophonist," Laura muses. "This is an
"Yes. Well, in a day or so, you can call the rental agent
and give it back to her- saxophone and all."
"I don't know. This place might have possibilities,"
she says, yawning.
Steele's amazed. "Laura, you can't be serious. It's a filthy
warehouse with the single luxury feature of a toilet."
"Strange criticism from a man who starts a whole new life
every year or so."
"Maybe. But I always made it a point to move *up* the ladder
in the process."
"Another lesson from -Markos and- X- what did he call you
"Xenos. Wouldn't by any chance be your real name, would
"It's Greek for 'stranger'," he tells her, going back
Laura frowns. "Figures."
Steele sees two men dragging Keever to a car. "Laura, hold
on. It seems Keever isn't asleep after all."
"Looks like they're taking him for a midnight ride."
At Enterprow, the car with Keever is admitted. He's nervous.
Laura and Steele watch as she tells someone on the phone, "That's
right. Route 181. Good." She hangs up, and tells Steele,
"It's all set." She looks at the gate. "Think
we can get in?"
"Shouldn't be too difficult for a long legged field darter
with the gifts of Claudette."
"Claudette Colbert in 'In Happened One Night'. Clark Gable,
Columbia, 1934." Laura starts to say something. "I'll
explain on the way. Come on." He gets out.
At the guard house, the guard is reading, when he sees a female
leg appear from the bottom of the window, moving enticingly.
Curious, the guard gets up and goes to the door, only have Steele
tap him on the shoulder. "Hey, sunshine,"he says, just
before hitting the man and helping Laura to her feet. "Remarkable
things, these little nail clippers, aren't they?"
"You don't have to tell me," She says, reaching inside
to open the gate. They move toward the compound.
Inside the futuristic building, they avoid others in the hallway
by ducking into a doorway. Laura hears another door open and
pulls him into another room. Once inside, the lights come on,
and a female voice asks, "What project file are you requesting?
Please state the project file you are requesting."
"Stonewell Aircraft," Laura says, then shrugs.
"Thank you. One moment, please. Correct project file heading
is Thorpe Aviation. Hard copy or video display?"
"Be tough," Steele suggests.
"Hard copy," Laura says. Three printers begin to print
out the information. They look a the printouts. "My God,"
Laura exclaims. "They had a step by step plan for destroying
"Yes. They had the same thing prepared here for three more
"Except for Thorpe. They're corporate hit men. Destroying
people is just a side line. Their real business is destroying
"And whoever's paying for this ends up controlling nearly
the entire market. Mildred said this Veckmer was a sharpie, but
"We still have to try and find Keever," Laura reminds
him. They move to the doors.
Steele looks at the room. "Thanks for all your help, luv.
Bye." They go back out into the hallway, and in trying to
avoid guards, wind up in the same room as Keever.
"As strange as this may sound, coming from us," Steele
tells him, "But we're going to try and get you out of here."
Laura helps him up. "He won't let me-"
The other door opens, and Veckmer stands there. "Very perceptive,
Steele lets him sit back down. "As you were."
Veckmer says, "Welcome to the Enterprow Foundation. You're
the first to ever get this far. It will make an interesting footnote
for the files."
"Why waste the space?" Laura asks. "Your collection
is already so impressive."
"You don't approve."
"Industrial sabotage has such an ugly ring to it, ey?"
"We merely extend the basic principles of business to their
logical conclusion. Control of the market is everything, How
you do it doesn't really matter."
"Eliminate the weak and only the strong will survive. Is
that what you told the board at ITQ?" Laura asks
"My success there proved my system worked. But they are
old men, with country club wives and bleeding ulcers. They kept
all the money I made them. I, however, was simply an embarrassment
to be disgarded."
"You left and you started your own business," Steele
"Private consulting is so much less restrictive. But tell
me something. I consider my information network second to none.
How is that we can't generate a history on you more than five
lines long, Mr. Steele?"
Steele grins. "I suppose I'm just easy to forget."
"Let's hope so," Veckmer says. Steele grabs for him,
just as the doors open and Paul and his friend enter, both with
guns ready. "I don't think that would be very productive."
He stands. "It's been interesting trying to eliminate all
of you. But I think the time has come." He looks at this
lackeys and nods, starts to turn away.
Laura puts out her hand. "I wouldn't be too certain if I
"She's right," Steele confirms. "Even as we speak,
this building is being surrounded by the police."
"I'm not even going to honor that cliche with a response,"
Veckmer says, then freezes as a bright light shines in the window
and a helicopter can be heard.
"This is the police. This is the police." Laura closes
her eyes in silent thanks, the two lackeys lower their guns slightly.
"The premises are surrounded."
Veckmer tells them, "Kill them quickly."
Steele points at the door. "I wouldn't shoot. They'll come
barrellin' in here like an army. I promise you."
"I said kill them!" Veckmer yells, only to watch as
both men run from the room, trying to save themselves.
"Exit the building with your hands on your heads,"
the police call. "This is the police."
Veckmer tries to make a run for it, but Steele grabs him, tossing
him onto the table and sliding him down its length, where Laura
gives him a right cross, wincing as she hurts her wrist. "I
Steele checks Veckmer, then tells Laura, "I think it's time
we signalled the police, don't you?"
Laura taps her nose, and leaves.
Outside, she waves a flashlight at the helicopter- which isn't
a police chopper at all, but a private one, with RJ at the controls
and a man in the other seat. RJ tells the man, "I think
we've done it. You can go back to bed now, Tom." She laughs.
At the office the next day, Laura enters carrying a garmet bag,
wearing a new dress. "Ah, Laura," Steele says. "New
dress! Woo Hoo!"
She twirls. "The first of many. What do you think?"
Mildred says, "Whoa. That is knock out city."
"Yes," Steele agrees. "Ditto."
Laura returns the clothing to him. "Thanks for the use of
your wardrobe," she says, as Mildred looks on, smiling.
"Well, you did them more than proud."
Feeling like a third wheel, Mildred says, "Well, I - uh
- umm- I guess I'll be leaving now, if that's all right with
you -" She smiles, and turns to the door. "I'm going
"Bye," Steele says. "And you're- still detemined
to live in the warehouse?" he asks Laura.
"Well, just think of the posibilities, Xenos."
"Yes, but- is it safe?"
"I've left Nero there to stand guard-"
"Even so, perhaps I should take you home-"
"Oh, thanks, but, I need the time to myself." She pauses
by the door. "But- soon I'll have you over for- noodle soup?"
"Oh. My favorite. My favorite." She comes over and
gives him a kiss on the cheek, then leaves.
Laura opens the sliding door to the loft, and gasps as she sees
the grand piano with the big red bow and single red rose on it.
Nero is there as well, waiting. Laura picks up the card. "Play
it again, Sam." She sits down, wiping a tear from her face,
then begins to play Chopin's "Prelude In E Minor".
On the street, Steele is listening to the music. He turns to
the limo. "You ready for me to drive you home, Mr. Steele?"
"It's all right, Fred," Steele tells him. "I think
I'll walk tonight, okay?" He taps the car twice, and Fred
drives off. Steele listens for another second, then turns and
walks down the sidewalk.