The bus pulls into the Mission Civic Auditorium parking lot, where a sign says, "Rocky Sullivan. Fri. - Sat. 8 & 10 PM The date is covered by a banner that reads, "SOLD OUT"
From the bus' window, Rocky smiles, delighted upon seeing that sign. The band members get off the bus as a heavy set white haired man talks to a younger man. Rocky comes up. "Hey guys, look!" She points to the sign. "I'm a hit!" she declares.
The men look at the sign and frown in shock. Rocky gives the older man a kiss and takes off. The older man says, "Tell me this ain't happening," he begs his friend.
"I seen a lot of crazy things in my time," Buddy says. "I never would have figured that broad for a winner. We're dead. You know that, don't you?"
"I'll think of something," his partner says.
"Well, think fast! A couple of more shows like this--"
"Hey! I don't need this grief from you, Buddy. I'm in this just as deep as you are. We just have to figure out a way to end her career. Fast."
"Brian, that broad has got desire comin' out her ears! It's gonna take an elephant gun to keep her off that stage!"
Brian looks at him seriously. "Do you know where I can get one?" he asks.
That evening, Laura and Steele are in the limo as he tells her, "Need I remind you, Laura, that the last time we saw this woman, she was being stalked by a menagerie of literary sleuths. One of whom turned out to be a murderer."
"I promised Rocky we'd be there," Laura tells him, as if that ends the discussion.
"Wonderful. That makes four of us," Steele sighs. "You, me, Rocky, and the piano player."
"Two hours out of your life is not that much to ask," Laura says.
"On the contrary, Laura, two hours of Rocky singing 'Who's Sorry Now' is too much to ask of anyone."
"Come, come, Mr. Steele. How many times have you dragged me to film festivals of dubious merit? I THINK you owe me one."
"Umm. Perhaps," he agrees at last with a wounded expression. "But it would ease my suffering considerably if you'd have dinner with me afterwards."
"I suppose I could be talked into that," Laura agrees.
"Ah, splendid. I'll make the reservation," he tells her excitedly. As he dials a number on the mobile phone, he leans back, picks imaginary lint off of his trousers.
Laura is twisting her necklace around her neck with her fingers, trying her best to act non-chalant, but she can't stop from smiling.
"Ah, yes, good evening, Operator," Steele says into the phone. "Um, I'd like to place a call to San Francisco, please."
Laura, who has been sitting with a smile on her face, looks at him in shock.
"Yes. Uh, Marty's restaurant," he elaborates.
"San Francisco?" Laura repeats in disbelief.
"Oh, I'm incorrigible, Laura," he tells her with a satisfied smile. Into the phone, he says, "Ah, yes, yes. Good evening. Uh, I'd like to make a reservation for two, please . . .Oh, say, um... 10:25?" Laura mouths, '10:45?!'
". . . Good..." he continues. " . . . Great. Fine, that's lovely . . . Uh, yes. Steele . . . Yes, uh-- Remington Steele."
Laura rolls her eyes and sighs, knowing he's preening because his name has been recognized.
"Thank you," he concludes, very pleased with himself as he hangs up the limo phone.
"Of course, we'll have-- time to see the show, *fly* up there, have dinner, and *fly* back?" Laura aks, questioning the practicality of his plan.
"Who said anything about flying back, um?" he asks her with a laugh, grinning at her very suggestively.
She grins as if to say, 'I might have known,' but she doesn't say no. Remington couldn't be more pleased with himself.
The limo arrives at the Auditorium amid other cars. People are milling about. Steele and Laura get out. "Good Lord, Laura," Steele comments. "We must be at the wrong place."
Laura looks at her tickets. "This is it," she tells him.
"Oh? Then Rocky must be the opening act for someone. Let's see. Who's in town? Sinatra? Cindy Lauper?" Laura is examining the tickets again and laughs. "The Eurhythmics?"
"Rocky's the only name on these," she says.
"Laura, you don't suppose- all these people . . . to see- Rocky Sullivan? OUR Rocky Sullivan?"
"Stranger things have happened, Mr. Steele," Laura tells him, looking confused herself.
"Yes. But I can't remember when." He extends his arm. "Shall we?"
A white Ford drives to the back to park. The driver gets out, puts a tag on his jacket, opens the trunk of his car, uncovers a gun and puts it into his trousers. He walks to the stage entrance and through the crowd, excusing himself.
In her dressing room, Rocky is putting on a sequined dress as a heavyset man, holding a cowboy hat and wearing a string tie, watches. "Are you sure you don't need anything?" he asks. "Anything at all."
Rocky turns around and lifts her hair. "Clint, honey, could you zip that for me?"
He puts down the hat and zips her top. "I could send out. You name it, you got it, little lady." Rocky is looking at the palm of her hand, where "Who's Sorry Now", "The Man I Love", "Hooray for Hollywood", and "Melancholy Baby" are written in black ink.
"What?" she asks. "Oh. How about a case of good luck?" she asks.
Clint smiles. "Oh, you don't need luck, Rocky, you got talent."
"Oh, thanks," she says, giving him a kiss as someone knocks on the door.
"I'll get it," Clint offers, going to open the door where a dark haired, frowning, middle aged woman is waiting.
"I've been looking all over for you, Clinton," she tells him. Another man waits in the hall behind her, looking into the room.
"Well, you sure enough found me, sugar," Clint says.
She comes into the room. "You know, if I was a jealous wife, I could lose a lot of sleep wonderin' what's been goin' on in here."
"Now don't start that again," Clint says.
Rocky asks, "How do I look?"
Clint and his wife smile at her.
Buddy and Brian are looking out of the stage curtain at the gathered crowd of people. Brian paces away, upset. "Talk about your meteoric rise to fame," Buddy comments, cigar in his mouth. "I ain't seen nothin' like this since I helped launch Patti Page."
"You know you got an annoying habit of pointing out the obvious, Buddy?" Brian asks.
"Look, four sold out shows in a row. You said it was impossible. You said it'd never happen. You said we'd be rich!"
"All right! Listen to me. You tell Rocky to start out with the Helen Morgan number. You know, the one where she gets on top of the piano?" He starts to leave.
Buddy stops him, frowning. "Wait. Why?"
"Just do it. I'll take care of the rest," Brian tells him, and goes.
Buddy goes back to the curtains to peek out. The young man that was lurking behind Clint's wife in the hallway approaches him and clears his throat. "I need to see Brian Hunter," he tells Buddy.
"You just missed him," Buddy says, starting to walk away.
The man stops him. "Okay, then. I need to see you."
"You just missed me, too," Buddy says, pushing away from him.
Rocky is talking to someone in the hallway when she says, "Mr. Steele! Miss Holt!"
Laura looks at the man at the stage door, smiling at him as Rocky comes over to them. "Ah, hello, Rocky," Steele says, indicating to the man that they do indeed know her.
"Thanks for coming," she says as she and Laura embrace.
"Mr. Steele has talked of nothing else all day," Laura assures her.
"Oh, I wouldn't miss it for the world," Steele agrees. "Yes."
Rocky comes up and gives him a kiss, putting her hands on his face. "Oh, sorry," she apologizes, rubbing at his cheek. "I got ink all over you."
"What?" he asks, frowning at her ministrations.
"Oh, dear," he sighs.
"Come on," Rocky says, pulling him forward.
"It's okay, Pops," she tells the man. "They're friends of mine." She follows them down the hall. "I am SO nervous. Did you see the crowd out there? You'd think Dustin Hoffman was performing!" Steele finishes cleaning his cheek. "Of course, Dustin never looked this good. Not even in 'Tootsie'."
Buddy comes up. "Roc!"
"Buddy! Come here. I want to introduce you to some friends of mine. This is Remington Steele and Laura Holt. This is one of my managers, Buddy Brokaw," she says.
Buddy shakes their hands. "Hello."
"Hello, Buddy, how are you?" Steele asks.
"Listen, kid," Buddy tells Rocky. "A little change in the opening. Brian wants you to start with the Helen Morgan number."
"Buddy, I've got my act memorized. You know that."
"Little change of pace. Keeps it fresh," Buddy insists.
"Don't you think I ought to start out with an up note and catch em with my best song?" Rocky asks, smiling.
"Listen, kid, you, sittin' on top of the piano, under a baby spot- you're gonna have em eatin' out of the palm of your hand, kid."
Rocky considers this. "Maybe you're right. Then, when I got em hooked, I'll swing into 'Who's Sorry Now'."
Steele grimaces. "That's my girl," Buddy tells her, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Good to see you," he tells Steele and Laura. "Enjoy the show."
"Thanks," Laura says.
"He discovered Vaughn Monroe," Rocky tells them.
Clint and his wife come down the corridor. "Rocky."
"Oh, Clint, honey, come here. I want you to meet two very special, close, personal friends of mine. Remington Steele and Laura Holt, this is Clint and Betty Overton from Midland, Texas."
Clint shakes their hands. "How do ya do? Nice to meet you."
"You members of the band, are you?" Steele asks.
"Shoot naw, man," Clint says, leaning toward Steele to confide, "I got me a piece of this here little lady. Best investment I ever made."
"Hey, gang," Rocky says, "Almost show time. Better go grab your seats."
Clint gives her a kiss and a pat. "Break a leg, kid."
"Oh, thanks." Rocky rushes away from them.
"That's- show biz talk," Clint tells Steele.
"Ah, yes. Boffo and all that," Steele says.
"Let's go," Laura says, taking his arm.
"Let's get our seats," Steele agrees, waving at Clint and Betty as they move away. "Nice to meet you, Betty."
In the auditorium, the lights go down. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Rocky Sullivan!" an announcer says, emphasized by a drum roll.
The curtain goes up, the piano in the spotlight. The pianist begins to play "The Man I Love", and then Rocky comes out from across the stage, belting out her signature number, "Who's Sorry Now", to the wrong music.
In the audience, Laura winces. "Oh, my."
"Hm hmm," Steele nods. "It's gonna be a long night," he drawls as Rocky continues to sing.
Suddenly a sandbag falls onto the piano, in the exact spot where Rocky would have been sitting if she'd done as asked. The pianist jumps away as the audience gasps in horror.
Later, onstage, Rocky says, Oh, Buddy, Im sorry. I totally forgot you wanted me to do that piano thing. Im just so used to opening with Whos Sorry Now that I just
Actually, were pretty lucky, you know, says Buddy. This is the first accident we had.
This wasnt an accident, Mr. Brokaw, says Steele as he enters the backstage holding a piece of cable. The cable was sheered. He shows the cable to Laura.
Let me see that. Buddy takes the cable from Laura to examine. "What have we got here?" Buddy asks. "Some kind of joker?"
"There's nothing funny about that, Mr. Brokaw," Laura declares. Steele takes the cable.
"You think somebody's actually trying to hurt Rocky?" Buddy asks.
"You tell me. You wanted Rocky to change her opening. If she HAD, she might be dead," Laura points out.
Rocky tells her, "No, no, no. Buddy said it was Brian who wanted to change it."
"Yeah. That's right, it was Brian," Buddy agrees.
"Who's Brian?" Steele asks.
"Brian Hunter. My other manager."
"Well, perhaps we should have a chat with the errant Mr. Hunter," Steele suggests.
Laura nods as Clint and Betty come onstage. "Rocky," Clint says, putting a comforting arm around Rocky's shoulders. "Rocky, honey, are you all right?"
"I'm just- I feel like I'm gonna throw up," Rocky tells him.
"Would you accompany Rocky to her dressing room until she's feeling a little better?" Laura asks the Overtons.
"Of course we will," Betty says, then removes Clint's hand from Rocky's shoulder and puts her own around the smaller woman. "Come along, honey."
"Now," Laura says to Buddy, "About Mr. Hunter."
Brian is leaving the building via the artist's entrance, en route to the bus, when a silver stretch limo pulls up and a man gets out. "Hey, I wanna talk to you. Come here." Brian starts to run away, but the other man grabs him.
"Who are you?" Brian asks. "What are you doing?" The man shoves him into the limo and it leaves the parking lot.
Inside, Clint is making a phone call on a payphone. "Let me speak to the entertainment editor . . . When will he be back?" Betty comes into the hallway and listens to him. "Monday morning? . . . I got a hot tip for him . . . Oh, all right. Tell him somebody tried to kill Rocky Sullivan tonight during her show." Betty sighs, then comes closer. "Rocky Sullivan." Betty slaps his arm.
"Come on, Clint, I'm starved!"
"Betty, git back in there. There's a murderer on the loose!" He turns back to the phone. "What's that? . . .Naw, she's a singer. A real risin' star . . . Right. Good-bye, now." He hangs up. "The little lady needs our protection," he tells Betty.
She doesn't move as he takes a step toward Rocky's dressing room. "Protection against what? Your publicity stunts?"
He moves closer. "Just what are you suggestin', Betty?"
"Oh, come on. I know that fallin' sandbag wasn't any murder attempt. I mean, Damn! Rocky wasn't anywhere near the thing when it fell!"
"You're accusin' me of perpetratin' this whole thing, are ya?"
"I wouldn't put it past ya. The way you been lookin' all 'goo-goo eyed' at her."
"Just protectin' my investment," Clint insists, turning to return to the dressing room.
With a look of patent disbelief, Betty follows him.
The man who accosted Buddy before the show is searching an office. Buddy, Laura and Steele enter. Buddy asks, "What the hell are you-?"
The man pulls a gun. "Don't come any closer. I am a desperate man."
Buddy throws some papers at him, making him lift his arm as he fires. Buddy, Laura and Steele drop to the floor, and he takes off.
Laura stands up. "He wasn't kidding!" They take off, chasing him.
Outside the building, Steele and Laura split up for a second. "Did you get him?" Buddy asks.
"No," Steele tells him. "Damned impolite of him to shoot and run like that, too."
Laura returns. "Was that Brian Hunter?"
"Who was it?" Laura asks.
"I don't know!"
"More to the point," Steele points out, "Where IS Brian Hunter?"
Brian is sitting in an office, looking terrified. The man sitting behind the desk says, "Joseph, pour the man a glass of water."
"Um, no thanks," Brian says. "I'm not- thirsty."
"Hey, don't worry. It's bottled."
Joseph gives him a glass as the man at the desk says, "You've been avoiding my calls, Mr. Hunter."
"I've been pretty busy these last few weeks. In and out of town, you know?"
"Did you get my messages?"
"No. No, my- secretary must've- thrown em out."
"Mr. Hunter, don't insult my intelligence. If you don't want to do business with me, just say so."
"It's not that I don't want to do business with you, Mr. Nash. I'm not sure you want to do business with me."
Nash gets up. "Now what makes you think that? Now, we're not only in the sanitation business here anymore. I mean, we're into things like linens, uh, health foods. Movies. And if things go, the way I think they're going to go- next month, we'll own a record company. Now, you tell me, Mr. Hunter. What good's a recording company without recording stars?"
"You don't understand, Mr. Nash."
"Mr. Hunter, you're doing it again."
"Sorry. I apologize."
"Accepted." Nash sits down. "Rocky Sullivan, Mr. Hunter. I really like her. She's got what it takes to fill an auditorium. You know, nothing would make me happier than to be- personally involved with her career. You understand me?"
"Only too well, Mr. Nash," Brian says.
"Good. Now. You're her manager-"
"ONE of her mangers," Brian corrects. "I have a partner."
"I know," Nash tells him in a chilling voice. "Me." He's holding an ink pen. "Joseph," he calls. Joseph puts a contract in front of Brian. "Now, that's all legal. Fifty percent for you, fifty percent for me." He puts the pen down on the desk.
Brian looks at him. "I can't sign this."
Nash looks at Joseph, who takes Brian's right hand and grabs his thumb. Brian screams in pain. Joseph grabs Brian's left hand and puts the pen in it. Brian looks at Nash, who has watched all of this impassively. He signs the contract.
In Rocky's dressing room, Steele tells her, "Well, so far, we have what appears to be an attempt on your life- and a crazed man with a gun. Odds are the two are connected."
"In other words," Laura clarifies, "it's quite possible that the man who shot at us, also cut the sandbag loose."
"I'll KILL the creep," Rocky declares.
"Yes, well, no sense working yourself into a frenzy over it," Steele tells her. "Miss Holt and I will ferret out this trigger happy inept murderer long before he can have another crack at you."
"We'll get on it first thing in the morning," Laura says.
"First thing in the morning?" Steele questions.
"Perhaps it would be safer if you stayed at my place tonight, Rocky," Laura suggests.
"Oh, I suppose that rules out a quick trip to the City by the Bay," Steele notes.
Laura laughs. "I'm afraid you'll have to leave your heart somewhere else this evening, Mr. Steele."
"I'm gonna need my overnight stuff from the bus," Rocky says.
"Well, I'll get it while you change," Laura offers.
"It's in the red suitcase in the back," Rocky tells her.
"I'll- call Marty, shall I?" Steele calls after Laura as the door closes.
"Who's Marty?" Rocky asks.
Steele picks up the phone. "The patron saint of missed opportunity," Steele tells her, frustrated once again.
Laura leaves the building and goes to the bus. Inside, she goes into the back, curtained area. The "desperate man" grabs her, putting his hand over her mouth and a gun to her head.
A Cadillac pulls up outside. Clint gets out and sees a light on in the bus. He goes over and gets on. "Rocky?" he calls. Going to the curtain, he says, "You in there?"
"Answer him," the gunman orders in a whisper.
"Mmm?" Laura says though the hand over her mouth.
"Rocky, there's something I been meanin' to tell you. Rocky, can I come in there?"
"Um umm," Laura says, sounding vaguely negative.
"You sure you're feeling all right? You don't sound too awful good."
Laura moans again.
"Rocky, well, I know this is gonna sound all school-boy crazy, but, honey, I love you. I love you and I want to marry you."
"Really?" Laura manages through the gag.
"Of course I do, darlin. Betty can see that, why can't you? Rocky, I know I can make you happy if you'll let me. Rocky? Rocky, I swear I'll give you everything my daddy ever gave my mama and more. I want an answer. I want it now."
"Uh-uh," Laura manages.
"I can't wait any longer," Clint decides. "I'm comin' in there." He pulls opens the curtains, only to be confronted by the man's gun.
"One move and you're both dead," the man warns. "I'm a desperate man."
Rocky opens her dressing room door to a knock. Betty is there, holding three white deli bags. "Thought you all might be working up an appetite."
"We're just leaving," Rocky tells her.
"Clint in there?" Betty asks.
Betty looks past Rocky, and sees a man's leg. "He sure as hell is!" Betty declares and pushes the door open, only to find Steele instead.
Steele, his mouth full of candy, comes to his feet. "Oh. Mrs. Overton."
"Oh. Mr. Steele," Betty says, embarrassed. "Well, Clint was gonna- park the car and then he was gonna come on up here-"
"I haven't seen him," Steele tells her.
"Well. Well, where is he?" she asks.
The three of them leave the building and hear a gunshot. As they watch, the gunman runs from the bus. He gets into a white Ford and tears away before Steele can catch up to him. Steele runs back to the bus.
An ambulance pulls away to reveal Clint, his right arm in a sling, sitting on the bus steps as Betty and Steele stand close by. "You're a lucky man, Mr. Overton."
"It's just a scratch," Clint says.
Laura and Rocky come down the stairs, and Clint moves out of the way. Laura hands Steele a ledger book. "I grabbed this from him when he ran," she says.
"What is it?" he asks.
"Looks like the financial ledgers for Rocky's show."
"Brian is gonna hit the roof. He guarded those books with his life. I mean, he wouldn't even let ME see them," Rocky says.
Steele puts the ledger under his arm. "Well, rest assured, I'll treat them with equal regard. Come on, Rocky." He extends an elbow toward her. She takes it. "There you go."
As she and Steele go around the bus, Rocky says, "You probably think I'm always in trouble, huh?"
"Just as long as Sherlock Holmes steers clear of this one, we'll get by all right," Steele assures her.
Betty runs after them. "Mr. Steele?"
"Yes?" he asks, stopping.
"Do you think that it's safe to go back to our hotel room tonight?"
"Oh, I'm sure, yes. The gunman was after this book, not your husband. I suspect you've seen the last of him, okay?"
"Night," Betty says, smiling as she turns back toward the bus.
"Miss Holt," Clint says to Laura, "back there in the bus, well, I'd appreciate it if you-"
"Don't worry, Mr. Overton," Laura assures him. "I didn't hear a thing." She moves off to join Steele and Rocky, almost running into Betty. "Night," they say at the same moment, then Laura is gone.
Betty goes to Clint. "For cryin' out loud, Clinton, you damn near got yourself killed!"
"Shoot, Betty. Take more than a little old pop gun to put me outa commission," he tells her.
"That's not the point. We don't belong here. We're outa our league. These Hollywood people are just- well, they're just plain sleazy."
"Aw, come on, Betty. Now, tell me you never dreamed of bein' in show biz. Tell me it ain't fun. Why, it's glamorous as hell, girl!"
"But it isn't us. Oh, let's go home, Clint. Please?" she begs with a pout.
Clint looks thoughtful.
While Rocky sings in the shower in Laura's apartment, Mildred looks over the books. "According to this, Brian and Buddy are making money hand over fist. Four performances, four sold out shows." Steele is looking at them over her shoulder. "I wish we had a piece of the action."
"Wait a second, Mildred," Steele says, his attention caught by something. "What's that?" He takes the ledger. "Laura, have a look at this." She comes closer.
"Investors?" Laura questions.
"Yes. Clint Overton," Steele reads. "Forty nine percent." He looks further. "Arthur McKinley Reynolds III, forty nine percent. Represents a group of dentists from St. Paul."
"How much do they own?" Mildred asks.
"Oh, not bad for a bunch of plaque scrapers."
Laura frowns. "Doesn't leave much. Two percent."
Steele reads three more names. "Forty-nine percent. EACH."
Laura takes the ledger. "Puma County Board of Education. 49%. Southeast Ranchers Association, 49%."
"Everybody seems to want to own a piece of the Rock," Steele notes.
"You can't sell more than a hundred percent of anything, can you?" Laura asks.
Steele gets an idea. "The Producers."
"Here we go again," Laura says through clenched teeth.
"Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, AVCO-Embassy, 1968. Hoping to make a fortune, Wilder and Mostel mount the worst possible play they can find. 'Springtime for Hitler'. Sell twenty-five thousand percent to the backers, expecting the whole thing to flop on opening night."
"What happens, Chief?" Mildred asks, enthralled.
"Well, they're very nearly driven to murder when the whole thing becomes a hit," he tells her.
"Holy cow," Mildred sighs.
"Indeed," Steele tells her. "Rocky Sullivan is Brian Hunter's 'Springtime for Hitler'. The Rocky Sullivan Show closes for lack of audiences, the investors take the loss. Brian and Buddy pocket the money."
"But the show's been making money," Laura realizes, "and now the investors want to be paid their share of the profits."
"Only there's not enough money to go around," Mildred says.
"No wonder someone's trying to kill Rocky," Laura comments.
"What are you gonna tell her, Boss?
"The truth, Mildred. It's the only sensible thing TO do."
Rocky comes from the bathroom, wearing a towel, her hair wet. "I feel so much better. I can't tell you. You know, I wanna thank you guys for coming to my rescue again. I don't know what it is with me," she says, sitting beside Mildred.
"Bad luck?" Mildred suggests.
"It's not that bad, is it?" Rocky asks.
"Well, Rocky," Steele begins, but Laura interrupts him.
"Rocky, how did you come to be involved with Brian and Buddy?"
"Believe it or not, I went to an open audition. I probably beat out over two hundred girls. Brian and Buddy told me they were looking for somebody who could put them over the top financially."
"Looks like they hit paydirt," Mildred comments.
Laura winces, and turns to Steele as he adds, "Indeed." He shrugs.
"You know, all my life, all I ever wanted to be was a performer," Rocky says sadly. "My father wanted me to be a secretary. He never liked my voice. No matter what I did, I couldn't please him. EVER."
"Well, Rocky, a wise man once said, you can't please all of the people all of the time," Steele says.
Laura silences him. "What Mr. Steele means, is that you're not alone, Rocky. Artists have been misunderstood throughout the ages."
"You know, I've waited tables, I've stuffed envelopes, I was a model for an underwear manufacturer once. Anything to pay the rent. It wasn't easy. A lot of people said that I didn't have what it takes. Then Brian and Buddy came along, and then- here I am! The big time!"
Mildred smiles. Laura glances at Steele, who smiles as well.
"You gotta find that nut with the gun, or my career is shot!" she tells them.
"Grisly choice of words, Rocky," Laura says.
"But accurate," Steele points out.
The next day, Buddy is pacing his office when Brian sneaks into the room through a side door, his hand wrapped in bandages. "Where the hell you been?" Buddy asks.
"I came up the fire escape," Brian tells him, trying to get into a desk drawer.
"That's not what I asked you. We got problems."
"That friend of Rocky's? That Remington Steele? He's a private dick. He's got out books!"
Brian looks at him finally. "Great." He keeps tearing through the desk.
"What are you doing? What are you looking for? What's with the thumb? Come on, Brian!"
Brian stops and looks at him. "I sold 50 % of Rocky's contract to Vincent Nash."
Buddy puts a hand over his mouth. "What are you crazy? He's as dirty as they come. He's got his fingers into every dirty scam in town!"
Brian holds up his thumb. "Tell me about it!"
"Hey, that ain't nothin' compared to what he's gonna do to us when he finds out what we done to him!"
"That's why we gotta kill Rocky. It's our only hope."
"Yesterday that was our only hope. Today, we ain't got no hope at all!"
"Trust me, Buddy. I've thought this through. And with Rocky dead, we don't have to pay off our investors and Nash's 50 % becomes academic."
"Oh, I don't know, Brian."
"Listen to me. Just make sure that Rocky's in her dressing room this afternoon. I'll take care of the rest." He finds a cassette tape.
"What the hell is that?" Buddy asks.
"The perfect alibi," Brian says, heading for the fire escape door again. The intercom buzzes.
Buddy picks up the phone. "Yeah?" He puts a hand over the phone. "We got visitors."
"Uh, Nash. He wants to look at the books."
"What do we do?" Buddy asks.
"Stall him," Brian says, then ducks out.
Buddy puts the phone back to his ear. "Uh- . . . Oh. Well, send them in." He hangs up.
Steele and Laura come in. "Mr. Brokaw? We've come to return your financial ledger," Steele tells him.
"It made very interesting reading," Laura comments. "For instance, I found it fascinating that you've sold over 500% of Miss Sullivan to various investors."
"What?" Buddy says, pretending surprise. "What are you talking about?"
"Here you go," Steele says, placing the ledger on the desk and opening it. "Have a look." Buddy puts on his glasses and studies the books. "There. There."
"This is illegal, isn't it?" Buddy asks.
"Are you saying you knew nothing about this?" Laura questions.
"Well, Brian keeps the books. I'm the creative half of the team."
"Oh," Steele says.
"Look, I've been a producer/manager for going on thirty years. I've been involved with some of the tops acts in the business. You ask any of them if Buddy Brokaw ever pulled a fast one. That didn't help them, of course," he adds quickly. The buzzer goes again. "Yeah?" Buddy says into the phone. "Oh, well . . . Yeah. Send him in." He hangs up. "Excuse me a minute. I wanna throw some cold water on my face." He goes through the side door.
The front door opens and Nash comes in, accompanied by Joseph. "Good morning," he says.
"Good morning," Steele and Laura reply.
"I'm here to see Mr. Hunter," Nash says.
"Mr. Hunter," Steele comments. "Very popular man. Hard to pin down, though. Perhaps you'll settle for his partner." He glances toward the door.
Laura puts her purse onto the desk and goes to the door. "Mr. Brokaw." She smiles at Steele. "Mr. Brokaw." She opens the door and reveals the fire escape beyond. "Would you settle for us?" she asks Nash.
"Depends. Who are you?"
"Remington Steele and my associate, Laura Holt."
"Well, you tell Mr. Hunter Vincent Nash came by to look at the books," he says, turning toward the door.
"Vincent- Nash?" Laura repeats.
Nash turns back to her. "Oh. You've heard of me, huh?"
Laura shrugs. "Yes. You're in garbage, aren't-" she pauses. "you?"
"These books that you're looking for," Steele asks, "wouldn't by any chance have to do with Rocky Sullivan?"
"There, you see? Word spreads fast, Joseph. And I've only been his partner for less than twenty four hours."
Steele picks up the ledger. "Well it's my distinct pleasure to present to you the said books."
Nash opens the ledger and the more he reads, the angrier he becomes. "You mean for every buck I get-"
"You pay five dollars," Steele finishes. "Sweet, isn't it?"
Nash drops the ledger. "Legitimate business can be very aggravating," Laura points out.
"Joey!" Nash says, opening the door. "Get the car!"
Laura and Steele exchange a look as he slams the door.
Someone knocks on a hotel room door. Clint opens the door to find the gunman there. "I have to talk to you," he says. "I'm a desperate man." He pushes Clint into the room."
At Laura's, Rocky is on the phone with Buddy. "Where are you?"
"I'm at the theatre. Now listen, kid. I got a room full of people here waitin' to rehearse. Every minute you ain't here is costin' me money."
"Mr. Steele told me to lay low until I heard from him." Mildred looks up, listening.
"Rocky, sweetheart, who's handling your career? I mean, you're a star. You got your reputation to consider here. Not to mention two sold out shows tonight?"
"I never thought of that."
"Yeah, well, let's go. Huh? Come on down. We got a lot of work to do."
"I'll be right there," Rocky says, hanging up the phone. She gets up and heads toward the bedroom as Mildred watches her. When she grabs her purse, Mildred grabs it too. "Where do you think you're going?"
"I've got to get down to the theatre."
Mildred stands up, shaking her finger. "Uh-uh. Not until Mr. Steele or Miss Holt gives me the okay to let you go."
"You don't understand. I owe it to my fans."
"To do what?" Mildred asks. "Get yourself killed?" They start circling the couch.
Mildred runs to the door, and Rocky looks around. "So you wanna play dirty, huh?" She runs toward the kitchen. Jumping onto the counter, she slips through the window onto the fire escape. Mildred gets into the window, then freezes when she realizes how high up they are. Rocky come back into the loft through another window and leaves
"Ah, no fair!" Mildred says, sitting on the counter.
"Mildred, Mildred, will you calm- just calm down, Mildred!" Steele says into the limo phone.
Mildred is almost in tears. "I did the best I could, Boss. I'm just not as agile as I used to be."
"Yes, I understand. Any idea where she got to?"
"She was headed for the theatre."
Steele's alarmed. "The theatre?"
"It's a death trap!" Laura says. "Hit it, Fred!"
"And don't spare the rubber!" Steele adds. "Thank you, goodbye, Mildred," he says to Mildred and hangs up.
"Don't spare the rubber?" Laura questions.
"I can't be clever all the time, Laura," he tells her.
Buddy is in his office, at gunpoint. "I wanna see Brian Hunter," the man says. "Now."
"I told you-"
"Whatever you have to do, you get him over here! I have an account to settle with him."
"But I don't know where he is," Buddy insists.
The man pushes Buddy back. "Look, I am a desperate man. I know what you people are doing, I know about the scam, okay? You guys took the worst singer you could find," he says, and neither man sees Rocky in the hallway, listening. "Thought she'd close after the first show. In fact, you were banking on it. At tax write off. At least, that's what you'd tell the investors. Meanwhile, you and Brian end up with over a half a million dollars." Rocky is near to tears. "Not bad for a few weeks work!"
Rocky comes into the office, distracting the man. Buddy grabs his gun. "Get out of here! Get out of here, you bum! Scram!"
"You and Brian Hunter haven't heard the last from me," he promises.
Buddy comes back to Rocky. He knows she heard them talking, and puts down the gun. "Rock-," he says in a gentle voice, and starts to turn toward her. But she takes off. He follows her into the hallway. "Hey," he says, putting an arm around her. Seeing her mascara streaked face, he sighs. "Ah," and takes out a handkerchief to wipe her eyes. "Come on, Kid. You're right. Brian and I are a coupla rats. I guess we just got a little too greedy. Look, go home. Don't hang around here. It ain't healthy. Just let me handle things from here on in. It's time I dissolved my partnership with Brian permanently."
Rocky breaks away from him. Buddy turns back to his office. Rocky asks Pops, "Where's Brian?"
The limo pulls up outside, and as they get out, they encounter Joseph leaning on Nash's silver limo. "Hey," he says. "Move that pile of spare parts. You're blockin' the road."
They hear two gunshots and rush to the doors. The man who confronted Buddy runs out, knocking Laura down. Steele grabs his ankle, then puts a foot on his back. "Not this time you don't. Stay right there."
Laura runs into the building. She sees Nash and chases him from the stage and through the auditorium. He gets out of the building, and Laura loses him.
Nash runs to the back of the building, only to see Steele with the gunman. Nash and Joseph take off in different directions. When the gunman tries to run as well, Steele holds onto him. "No, no. Stay. Stay." He turns toward the doors. "Come on."
Laura runs toward Rocky's dressing room in time to see Clint
dragging Brian's body into the hallway.
Standing before the stage with Steele, Laura asks Rocky, "What happened?"
Rocky is flanked by Clint and the gunman. "I don't know. I heard shots, so I went to my dressing room and there was a gun on the floor. Then there was someone at the door, and I thought it was the murderer coming back, so grabbed the gun!"
"And nearly took my head off," Clint explains.
"What were you doing there, Mr. Overton?" Laura asks.
"Same thing as her. I heard shots."
"Then why were you moving his body?"
"To protect this little lady from a frame up."
"A frame up?" Laura repeats. "Rocky had no reason to kill Brian."
"I'm afraid she did," Buddy says, joining the group onstage. "Five minutes before he was shot, Rocky found out that he'd been using her for a scam."
"Yeah, but I didn't shoot him!" Rocky insists.
"Yes, well, unfortunately, for you, Rocky," Steele points out, taking a cloth wrapped gun from his jacket, "your fingerprints are on this gun. And since you fired it at Mr. Overton here, a paraffin test won't clear you, I'm afraid."
"What about him?" Clint asks about the gunman.
"Yes," Steele agrees. "What about him?" He gets up on the stage and closes on the man. "I just bet you thought I'd forgot about you, eh, mate? Hmm? Now, why don't you just step forward and tell everyone exactly who you are?"
The man steps forward, Steele stays with him. "Uh, my name is Arthur McKinley Reynolds III. I'm an accountant from St. Paul," he tells them, putting on some glasses.
"An accountant, eh? From St. Paul," Steele repeats, looking at Laura as they both recall the name.
"The dentists," Laura says.
"That's right," Arthur says.
"You above all had an excellent motive to kill the elusive Mr. Hunter," Steele points out, waving the gun around. "I mean, for the last two days, you've been running around, shooting at anything that moves, haven't you?"
"That's your gun, isn't it?" Laura asks.
"I think so, but, I'm no murderer," Arthur insists. "The gun was just- well, I was a desperate man."
"Um. So you said," Steele agrees.
"On more than one occasion," Laura adds.
"I was at the point of turning that gun on myself," Arthur insists.
"Hey, kid," Buddy points out, "You're a pretty rotten shot for a suicide."
"Listen, you gotta believe me. This was my first account. I mean, I've HAD other accounts before, but this was my first solo flight. My father did some checking up on Brian and didn't like what he found. I tried everything I could, but Brian wouldn't talk to me. The gun was the last resort. I couldn't go home without that money. My father would have killed me!"
"He's telling the truth," Clint says. "He told me the whole story this afternoon in my hotel room."
Nash wanders in. "Collusion," he declares.
"Ah. Mr. Nash. Nice of you to rejoin us," Steele says. "We were just getting round to you."
"I had to call my attorney," Nash says. "He suggested that it wouldn't look right if I didn't come back. Obviously these two hicks are working together."
"Now don't go talking loco, pardner," Clint warns. "I'm not working with him. Hell, all he wants is his money back. And all I want is for Rocky to be happy."
"You stood to lose everything you've invested here," Laura says to Clint.
"Shoot. I got more money than I know what to do with."
Arthur says, "Uh, Miss Holt, can I talk to you for a second?" He steps toward the edge of the stage. Kneeling, he says, "I don't know if this'll be any help, but, uh, just before I heard the shots," he lowers his voice. "I saw Buddy heading for Rocky's dressing room."
"Would you be willing to swear to that in a court of law?" Laura asks.
He thinks. "Would my father have to know about that?"
Nash goes to Steele, who's trying to overhear Laura's conversation with Arthur. "It was the broad," Nash declares. "I saw her heading for her dressing room. I heard the shots."
"You're certain?" Steele asks.
"Why would I lie?!" Nash demands to know.
"Thank you." Steele moves quickly toward Laura.
Kneeling close, he listens as Laura tells him, "We may be onto something."
"Um hmm," Steele agrees. "It was Rocky," he says at the same time she speaks.
"It was Buddy."
"What about crazy Arthur here?" Buddy asks. "HE went rushing out of the office, heading for the dressing room, saying we hadn't heard the last of him. Right, Rocky?"
Clint steps forward. "Yeah, well, he must met up with Mr. Prim-and Proper here," he says, pointing to Nash. "Cause I saw him heading for that room."
"You better be able to back that up," Nash warns dangerously.
Clint meets him halfway across the stage. Steele gets between them. "Now, wait a minute here! Let's just calm down! Please!"
Betty runs in. "Clint!" she cries. "Clint!
"Before our tempers provoke anymore mayhem around here, I suggest you all go home," Steele tells them. "Miss Holt and I will call the police and you can tell your stories to them, okay?"
Clint turns to Rocky, "Don't you worry, little lady. No way you're goin' to jail if I have to sell every damn thing I own."
"You're a sweet guy, Clint," Rocky says, giving him a quick kiss.
Laura says, "Why don't you take the limo back to my place, Rocky? We'll call Mildred and have her come pick us up."
Betty taps Clint on the shoulder and they leave. Rocky moves
to stand next to Steele. "Yes, well, Rocky. The good news
is- with Brian dead, you're no longer in danger."
She smiles at him. "The bad news, however, is- you're a prime suspect in his murder."
"That won't do much for my career, huh?" Rocky asks.
"No, that won't bode well." Rocky wanders toward the exit.
Steele reaches down to pull Laura onto the stage and they go to Rocky's dressing room. Laura notices the two bullet holes in the bathroom door. "Brian was shot through the door," she says. Opening the door, she examines the holes as Steele finds a tape recorder on the floor of the bathroom.
"He falls back, knocks the radio onto the floor, the killer runs out, dropping the gun first.
"Rocky comes in, sees the gun, hears Clint at the door-picks up the gun, turns- and shoots before she realizes who it is."
"Clint decides to protect Rocky from what looks like a frame, drags Brian's body out, and is caught by us."
"There's one thing that's nagging at me," Laura frets.
"Always a good sign," Steele notes. "Always a good sign."
"How does the murderer know that Brian's in the bathroom?"
Steele is thoughtful, then picks up the radio and turns it on. "Because he was playing this," he says, as Rocky's voice fills the room.
"If that tape was playing," Laura muses, "then-" she picks up a black stocking from the floor. "Is it possible that the murderer thought it was Rocky in there?"
"In other words, Brian was not the intended victim," Steele realizes, then listens to the tape. "Then what was Brian doing hiding in the bathroom, listening to a tape of Rocky singing?"
Laura wraps the stocking around her hands. "Because Brian was lying in wait for her," she realizes. "Brian was going to strangle her, and that tape was the perfect alibi."
"Of course," Steele says. "Of course. If anyone saw Brian leaving Rocky's dressing room, they would have heard her singing."
"And dead men don't sing," Laura says.
"Thank God for that," Steele agrees.
"Only one person wasn't accused of heading toward Rocky's dressing room."
"Because that one person was already IN the dressing room."
They look at each other and say at the same time, "Betty Overton!"
"Come on," Steele says.
Steele swerves the Rabbit in and out of traffic in a race to reach the loft in time. "Remind me to get this horn replaced, Laura," he says, honking it repeatedly. "It's awfully anemic."
"How about a siren?" Laura suggests.
In the loft, Betty is threatening Rocky with a butcher knife. "I thought you were just a passing fad with Clint. Like that football team in Hawaii, or that chain of disco roller skating rinks he got mixed up with last year- oh, no. He was in love with you. Even I could see that!"
"Betty, I never did anything with Clint! He's not even my type!"
"Well, you sure are his. I mean, why else would he buy up every ticket for every performance?"
"What are you talking about?"
"He went down to the box office that first night, only seven tickets were sold! Now, he couldn't have an empty house for his little songbird, could he? He went out and he rounded up a whole passel of people and he gave them all tickets."
"That's not true!" Rocky insists.
"You are gonna climb out onto the fire escape, and you are gonna jump," Betty tells her, having backed her up to the counter in the kitchen. "They'll say that you were filled with remorse and couldn't take it anymore. MOVE!"
"And if I don't?"
"Then you're gonna commit hara-kiri. One way or the other, honey, YOU are gonna die."
Steele and Laura pull up to the front of the building and rush inside.
Rocky breaks away and runs up into the bedroom. Betty follows.
Laura tries to open the sliding door, but it won't budge. "Bolted from the inside!" she tells Steele, and bangs on the door. "Rocky!"
Rocky runs from the bathroom. "Miss Holt!" she screams as Betty follows her, still brandishing the knife.
"Open the door!" Laura calls.
Rocky gets to the door and tries to pull the bolt, but it won't move, and Betty is closing in. "I can't!" Rocky yells back.
"Fire escape," Steele tells Laura. "Come on." They take off.
In the loft, Betty and Rocky fall over the back of the sofa, and Betty drops the knife. Rocky tries to get it, but Betty puts a pillow over her face, and reaches for the knife. Rocky fights to keep her hand away as the pillow falls.
On the fire escape, Laura and Steele see what's going on, but the windows are closed. Steele leaps through them, breaking them. Laura rushes past him to pull Betty off of Rocky. Betty falls again, dropping the knife. Steele dives, pushing the knife farther away, and then grabs Betty, pulling her to her feet. "Easy," he warns.
Laura helps Rocky. "Are you all right?" she asks.
"I never felt better in my life," she says, trying to catch her breath.
That night, a somber Rocky is in her dressing room, holding a rose, as Steele watches her from across the room. Pops comes in. "Five minutes, Rocky."
She manages a smile, which fades once the door closes again. "I can't go on," she tells Steele.
"Of course you can."
She shakes her head. "I'm a fraud. The only reason those people are out there is because Clint paid them to come."
"Once they see you out there, they will love you," Steele insists, earnestly. "Please believe me. They will."
"No, Mr. Steele. I've lost it."
"You know, Rocky, there have been times in my life when I've felt as though I couldn't go on. As thought I had nothing to live for anymore. When everybody I seemed to trust failed me," he tells her, crossing the room to her side.
"That's funny. That's exactly how I feel now," Rocky tells him.
Steele puts an arm around her. "Rocky, we're not always able to anticipate or effect the way people treat us. I suppose that's what makes life exciting- and frightening at the same time. But still- there is ONE constant we can control."
She looks up at him. "Yeah? What's that?"
"You," he tells her. "No matter what happens, you can be the best Rocky Sullivan there ever was. And no one can do a thing to stop you. Now come on. Put a smile on your face and be bold. Please."
She smiles. "Okay." They leave the dressing room.
The auditorium is filled once again. As Rocky and Steele comes down to the stage area, where Laura and Mildred are waiting, they find Clint there as well. "Hey, Rocky."
"Oh, hi, Clint. I'm sorry about Betty."
"Yeah," he agrees. "Me too. Did ya see? You got a full house tonight."
Rocky shakes her head. "Yeah. Thanks to you."
"Uh-uh. I didn't buy but one ticket," Clint assures her. "My own."
"You mean- all those people paid real money to see me?"
"Uh huh. They must've heard about the attempts on your life and all and come down to see your death defying performance."
"And now, ladies and gentlemen," the announcer says, "here for her second sold out performance in a row, Miss Rocky Sullivan!"
The audience applauds, and Rocky takes a deep breath. She looks up at Steele, who tells her, "Knock em dead." She gives him a kiss on the cheek, and moves onto the stage as the band warms up with her theme song.
Laura moves to Steele. "They're playing your song," she says.
Rocky takes the microphone. "Thank you! Thank you!"
"Good lord," Steele muses. "The woman may have a career after all."
"I still think we ought to have a piece of her, Boss," Mildred says.
"Bite your tongue, Mildred," Steele warns as Rocky talks to the audience.
"Is it too late to catch that plane to San Francisco, Mr. Steele?" Laura asks him.
"Uh-uh," he says. "It's never too late, Miss Holt. Not with that song ringing in my ears." He takes her arm and they start to turn away. "Come on, let's go."
"And now, ladies and gentlemen," Rocky says, "I'd like to dedicate this song to two very special friends of mine," Laura and Remington turn, unhappy. "Remington Steele and Laura Holt." They try to sneak out. "Come on!" Rocky urges. "Come on out!"
Mildred and Clint drag Steele and Laura toward the stage. They go out and take a bow as Rocky breaks into "Who's Sorry Now?"
As they turn back to the exit, Steele says, "I can think of an answer to that musical question, Laura."
"I'm with you, Mr. Steele," she agrees, putting a hand to her head. Steele grins.