Steele Among The Living
Transcribed from the episode written by:
Andrew Laskos

Two people are walking and laughing on a beach, playing in the waves, before the pick up their towels and head off- as we hear the sound of glass breaking and are at a party.
A dark haired woman is telling a younger, blonde man, "THAT'S what I do to things that bore me, Teddy." She puts her arm around his neck. "Now, get your DEVOTED wife another drink," she says as a young woman comes closer, her face a masque of concern. "If you can manage something that complicated."

Teddy frowns. "You've had enough, Rena," he declares as two older men watch with concern.

"Of what?" Rena asks. "You, maybe?"

One of the men starts forward, but the other one pulls him back. "Let her go. The party was getting dull, anyway."

Rena moves closer to Teddy. "Oh, how could I? You have been SO busy of late."

The younger blonde steps in. "I'll get you what you want," she says, trying to take the glass from Rena.

But Rena pulls it back. "Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh," she says, then moves toward the girl as she backs away. "You mean YOU are going to give HIM," pointing at Teddy, "back? Oh, how generous of you Marian. Really." Marian looks embarrassed as Rena staggers back against Teddy with a laugh. "Teddy! WHAT can you possibly see in this THING?" she sneers. Teddy steps away from her. "She can't even paint her own name. She's got NO money! Aha! The SACK! Perhaps that's where her talent lies!"

Marian is nearly in tears. "Will you stop at nothing?" she cries and runs away.

"Marian!" Teddy looks ready to follow, but Rena stops him.

"You can't leave now, Teddy. You haven't freshened my drink!"

He knocks the glass from her hand, angry. "Rena, right now, I could-"

"What?" she asks. "Kiss me? Ooo. In front of all these people?" Teddy shrugs her off and leaves through the patio doors as Rena laughs delightedly.

Later, Rena staggers into her art studio, still laughing to herself. She removes the sheer overdress she's wearing and picks up a paintbrush, running it over her face. She hears something and turns as the door opens. "Who's that?" She smiles. "Ohh. It's YOU. Oh, you really must forgive me for making such a spectacle of us all," she tells the visitor, as she runs the brush over the top of her chest, "this afternoon." The visitor's gloved hand picks up a trowel as she turns toward the painting on the easel before her. "I couldn't resist it. Ohhh, what a sensation we'll cause!" The gloved hand brings the trowel downand from outside the house, we hear a scream

Laura, in welder's mask, is using a burnishing tool on what looks to be car parts as others work in the room on other projects. A grey haired man approaches, looking admiringly at what Laura's doing. "Oh, yes," he says with an Italian accent. "Yes. Eccentric. Wild animals, snapping and snarling."

"Snapping and snarling?" Laura questions. "It's supposed to be The Lovers."

"Why of course," he tells her. "The Lovers. Snapping and snarling." He closes her visor again and gives her a kiss on it. "Bella!" he tells her before moving away.

One of the other students approach. This one is an overweight man with a cigar in his hand. "Lovers, huh? That the kind of sex life you got? Now this here," he tells her, taking her to his workspace, where an empty TV sits filled with empty beer cans. "This here makes a statement."

Later, Marian approaches Laura and gets her attention so that she'll shut off the burnishing tool. "Miss Holt?" she asks.

Laura raises her visor. "Yes?"

"I heard from some of the other students that your work is- is-" she starts crying.

"Is it really that bad?" Laura asks, looking at her work.

Laura says, "That's- really bad," she agrees, and we find that she's in Rena's studio. The place is ashambles, with paints scattered everywhere, and what looks to be blood on the walls.

"It gets worse," Marian tells her. "Teddy told the police he was with me that night."

"Believe me, Marian. It's best to tell the truth even if it's embarrassing to admit you spent the night with- Rena's husband."

"He wasn't with me," Marian tells her.

Laura looks surprised. "Oh?"

"We lied to the police," Marian explains.

"You mean you backed him up?" Laura asks. Marian nods. "Oh, boy," Laura sighs, moving farther into the room.

"But he didn't do it. He couldn't have."

"But you're not sure."

"Uh, well, once, about a month or so ago, we were parking in one of the canyons. Teddy only had an hour and then he had to get back to Rena. He said- he wished she were dead."

"And where is he now?" Laura asks, looking the room over.

"Hiding. I don't know where."

"All the earmarks of an innocent man," she points out with some sarcasm.

"He's scared. You've heard the way the six o'clock news is milking this thing." Laura examines some eyeglasses she's found. "Prominent West Coast artist Rena Casellas the victim of a brutal slaying."

"The police still haven't found her body?" Laura questions.

"Look, you don't always get to pick who you fall in love with. But I love Teddy. And he loves me, and I want to marry him. And I will."

Laura is fascinated with the eyeglasses. "Providing we can prove he didn't kill his wife first."

"Then you'll help me?" Marian asks.


Steele is saying, "I don't know. What do you think, Darrell?" he asks the painter, who has made three lines on the office wall for Steele to consider.

"I don't think it's right for you, Mr. Steele," he says of the three shades of blue as Bernice and Murphy move furniture past him, Bernice giving him a dirty look.

"Yes," Steele agrees. "Too cool. What these offices need is- feeling. Vitality. Passion, if you will."

"Passion?" Darrell repeats. "I got it."

The telephone rings, and Bernice turns to Steele, as she and Murphy are still holding the sofa. "Would it be too much to request some assistance from you, Mr. Steele?"

"Huh? No, no, no, no," he says, watching Darrell as he moves to uncover the telephone and pick it up. "Steele here."

On the other end of the line is Laura's art teacher. "Uh, hello, is Laura there?"

"No, she isn't. Can I take a message?"

"This is Giovanni."


"Last night, I didn't say enough. She was-magnifico."

"Last night," Steele repeats, not thinking about paint now.

"I cannot wait until next week for the- The Lovers to progress."

"The lovers? Then I presume this is a personal call?"

"Tell her she was splendid. Inspiring." Steele looks uncomfortable. "Fantastic!"

"Okay, okay. That's it," Steele says, trying to stop the man's effusive praise. "I got it."


"Ciao indeed," Steele says, and hangs up the phone. He starts toward the other office, but Darrell stops him.

"Mr. Steele." Steele turns to watch as he paints a bright red stripe on the wall. "How's that for passion?"

Steele isn't happy. "Passion's a dangerous thing, Darrell. You never know when it's gonna run wild. Or with whom."

Laura and Marian enter the office as Laura tells her, "You'll have to forgive our decorating. But if you can find a place to sit in that office-" She and Marian come face to face with Steele

"Ah, there you are, Miss Holt. My most trusted associate."

"Marian Travis. Remington Steele."

They shake hands as Marian says, "Mr. Steele. She's wonderful. She really is."

"Umm. So I've been hearing." As Marian and Laura pass, Steele grabs Laura's arm. "Miss Holt, I've just received a phone call that requires an immediate conference between us.-"

"Whatever it is will have to wait." She turns to where Murphy and Bernice are sitting on the end of the sofa. "Uh, Murphy, you want to come in on this?"

"Sure," he says, and follows her into Steele's office. Bernice moves past Steele with a grin on her face.

Darrell stands there. "Mr. Steele. What about the colors?"

"It's red," he decides, then follows the others.

Marion tells them, "I know Teddy married Rena for her money. Teddy's beautiful. And guys like that, well, they just get used to the easy life. Rena-Rena likes to own things. Some relationships don't go the way they're planned."

Steele looks at Laura as he says, "More often than one can imagine." Laura shoots him a look as Marian continues.

"And I know Teddy wanted to leave Rena."

"Then why didn't he?" Laura asks. "The easy life?"

"NO," Marian insists. "He didn't care about that anymore. Rena was blackmailing him."

"With what?" Murphy asks.

"He wouldn't tell me. But she threatened to use it against him if he ever tried to walk out on her."

"So," Steele begins, "we're dealing here with a man trapped at the very apex of a lovers triangle. On one side, true love," he says, moving around the group to sit behind Laura. "On the other side a hollow commitment, fueled by little more than cheap, carnal lust." Laura's trying to figure out what's going on.

"Mr. Steele, I don't-"

"The question is, then, Miss Holt," he continues, "Could a man, would a man faced with such an excruciating dilemma, - resort- to- murder?"

Laura turns to look at Marian, without a clue as to what's going on.

As she and Steele get out of the limo, Laura repeats, "The 'apex of a lovers triangle'? Don't you think you went a little heavy on the drama? Thank you, Fred." They start down the street.

"How about we change the subject to last night?"

"What about last night?"

"I called you. You weren't in."

"Well, I was- busy with some work."

"Oh. Anything interesting?"

"Just nuts and bolts kind of stuff," she tells him

"American made or foreign?" he asks as they open the door to "Spriggs Art Gallery" and enter.

"But WHY, Nicholas?" they hear a man saying as Laura picks up a flyer from the desk.

"Because, I'm not in the business of selling blank walls or slides!"

"Now calm down, Nicky!"

"Now when do I get the paintings?!"

"Soon!" As Steele and Laura move toward the voices, we see two men standing in a darkened room with the slide of a painting on the wall. "Look, that's all I can tell you!"

"I don't like this, Noah. None of it. If I had known what was involved when you approached me about Rena's work, -"

"You would have tried to double your commission," Noah accuses. The curtain to the room opens, revealing that it's the two men from Rena's party.

Laura speaks. "Excuse me. Mr. Spriggs?" Spriggs shuts off the projector and turns on the light.


"I was wondering if you might help me."

Spriggs comes out, saying, "I'm sure Anita can answer any questions you might have." Steele is there. "If I can tear her away from the soap operas. Anita!"

"Actually, it's you we want to speak with," Steele tells him, as Noah hovers in the background.

"Is there something particular you were interested in?" Spriggs asks.

Laura hands him a card. "Information."

He reads the card. "Remington Steele Investigations," he says, glancing at Noah.

"You attended a party at Rena Casalles the night she disappeared. Is that correct?"

"Yes," Spriggs admits nervously. "But I was only there for a very short while. I mean, I left a LONG time before she-"

Noah steps up quickly. "I was also there. Noah Devareaux."

"The art critic," Steele tells Laura.

"Ordinarily I'd be flattered by the recognition," Noah says. "Unfortunately, both Nicholas and I were both very close to Rena. And her murder has left our nerves a little raw, I'm afraid. How can we help you?"

"Teddy Bennett, Rena's husband-," Laura begins, only to stop.

"Ah, yes," Noah says. "A walking poster. With about as much depth. I suppose Rena was attracted to the animal in him. I often warned her that exotic pets like that could be dangerous. But she never listened."

"Then," Steele surmises, "You think he killed her?"

"That's a decision for the police to make," Noah insists.

"According to this mailer, you were planning a showing of Rena's latest works?" Laura asks Spriggs.

"Yes, well, that opening will have to be delayed now."

"Nicholas thought at first it would be a fitting memorial. But I convinced him that a presentation so soon might appear to be in bad taste."

Spriggs spies someone behind a free form sculpture. "You there. What are you doing? Leave that alone." The man starts for the door. "Just a moment."

Laura frowns. "It's the beer cans," she comments, recognizing him as the man from her class.

"The beer cans?"

"Stop him," she tells Steele. They both take off after him.

The man, wearing a trench coat and laden with some kind of equipment, runs around the corner. Steele and Laura follow. They lose him for a moment, until Laura sees the burning cigar on the ground. Steele leads her to a cardboard box, and they both look at the shoe that's sticking out from under it. Steele looks around and picks up a brick, which he drops on the man's toe.

"OW!" he pops out of the box.

"Consider him stopped," Steele tells Laura.

Steele searches his pockets, and hands his wallet to Laura, who looks at the ID. "Leo Blitzman," she says.

"Yeah, watch the rough stuff, pretty boy," Leo says. "You're dealing with an eye."

"An eye?" Steele questions.

"Cannon, Mannix, Rockford," he says.

Steele turns to look at Laura. "He appears to be speaking in some sort of code."

"He's trying to tell us he's a private eye," Laura explains.


"You'd better believe it, sweets," Leo tells them. "I handled dozens of cases last year. My middle name is divorce."

"Alright, Mr. Blitzman," Steele breaks in. "Then what are you doing lurking around us?"

"I don't have to answer nothin," he says, smiling. "I'm like a priest with my clients."

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Blitzman," Laura recalls. "Weren't you in charge of security at Renaldi's when the designs for their spring line were stolen?"

"I don't care WHAT you heard! It didn't happen like that! And I'm suin'! My lawyers are handlin' it right now."

"And then there was the garden party for the county museum. You let the raffle tickets blow all over the lawn," she recalls.

"What am I God? I can control the weather?"

"When you got back from collecting them, somebody had stolen the Paul Revere tankard."

"I'm a persecuted man. And if I hear you repeating this too, I'm going after you. In court."

Steele's had enough. He grabs Leo and shoves him against some boxes. "Alright, Mr. Blitzman, I want to know who you're working for."

Laura touches his arm. "Mr. Steele. If I could have a word with you-"

"Steele? Remington Steele?" Leo questions.

"That's right," Laura tells him. "And you stand right there, otherwise Mr. Steele will be forced to shoot you." Steele gives Laura a strange look.

Leo smiles nervously. "I got roots growing out of my toes," he tells Steele as Steele reluctantly releases him to join Laura.

"You're not gonna like this, but we have to let him go."

"What? Shouldn't we at least wrench some information out of him?"

Laura looks at Leo. "Leo, you gonna tell us anything?"

He puts his hands in his pockets. "I'm like a priest, remember?" She tosses his wallet back to him as Steele turns away in frustration.

Leo is in his car, a beat up yellow AMC Pacer that's seen better days, with license plates that read "BLITZMN".

Steele and Laura are in the limo, following a few cars back as Laura tells a still upset Steele, "I merely said he wouldn't tell us anything. Not that he wouldn't prove useful."

"Alright," he agrees breathlessly, then turns toward her. "Putting Blitzman aside for the moment- Laura, I feel we need to talk about what's been happening between us. About Truth and deception. Honesty and falsehood."

"Then you've been getting the same feelings I've had," Laura jumps in.

He hesitates. "From the sound of it, hardly."

"I thought Devareaux was lying too. Spriggs, for that matter. Why would they plan a showing of Rena's works, and then cancel it?"

"Laura," he begins to try again. "I don't think you quite have the picture-"

"You're right. You must be. They don't HAVE the pictures. When I looked in, all Spriggs had were the slides. And he was complaining about having to wait. But if Rena's dead, then where are they? You know, it's almost as if they were expecting her to die." Steele nods as Fred calls out.

"Up. He's made us!"

They look up to see Leo's Pacer turning around and coming up beside them. "What's this? You're followin me? In that ocean liner?"

"Don't be absurd," Steele assures him. "Our paths merely coincided for a stretch."

The car behind Leo, being swallowed up his the exhaust from his car, honks. "I LOVE it!" He exclaims. "They're trying to follow me!" he looks back at Steele. "Hey! I got two ex wives trying to hunt me down, and they've yet to sprinkle salt on this rooster's tail!" he says. "So take a gander at this car. Cause all you're gonna see of it is the dust!" He takes off.

Steele picks up the car phone as he says, "No matter what, Fred, don't lose him until I tell you."

"Yes, sir!" Fred makes a U-turn.

"There's only so much insult a man can have added to his injury," Steele says, putting the phone to his ear. Fred follows through a gas station, as Leo laughs. Leo turns a corner, and pulls into a garage. The limo passes, and Leo is delighted.

"No salt on this rooster's tail," he says, putting the car into reverse and going back the way he came in, almost hitting another car. On the curb, Laura and Steele watch him turn the corner.

"Very impressive, Mr. Steele," she tells him.

Steele whistles for a taxi. "One learns these little tricks when one is constantly-"

"On the run?" she suggests as he takes her arm.

The taxi driver asks, "You the fifty dollar tip dispatch was yellin' about?"

"That fella that's just gone round the corner has it, providin of course, you don't lose him," he tells her as he and Laura get into the cab. "Follow the smoke."

"I'm with ya, sugar," she tells him.

Teddy is pacing a warehouse room when there's a knock on the door. He opens it and Leo comes in. "Were you followed?"

"Are you kidding?" Leo asks, lighting his cigar as Teddy closes the door. "Follow a rooster like Leo Blitzman? That's like trying to shake hands w'your own shadow."

There's another knock on the door.

Steele says to Teddy, "So. You hired Leo to prove that Marian didn't kill Rena."

"I was on her tail like that," he says, snapping his fingers, still disgusted that Steele managed to follow him. "Even brought my own beer cans to class as a cover."

"Beer cans?" Steele questions, confused.

Laura quickly covers. "It's not important. Teddy, why did you suspect Marian?"

"Cause I was afraid that she couldn't stand to watch the way that Rena treated me anymore. I mean, she loved me that much. That's why I told the police that we were together that night after the party."

"Doesn't work badly as an alibi for you, either," Laura points out.

Teddy looks shamefaced. "Alright. I found Rena for her money. And nine out of ten people say I killed her for the same reason. But you wanna know what the truth is? Rena was completely tapped out. You see, the demand for her paintings had been slipping off the past couple of years. She kept on spending like the party was never gonna end."

"Would anyone else have a reason to kill Rena?" Steele asks.

"I don't know," he admits. "You see, I kinda lost track of what was happening in Rena's life. I mean, she was off painting someplace. I don't know where. It's very mysterious."

"Then you didn't see her most recent set of canvases," Laura comments.

He shakes his head. "You know, Marian got me into therapy. Primal scream. A terrific guy in Beverly Hills. You know I never knew how much I hated my father? I mean, really hated him. But you know what? I love him. He's a terrific guy, my dad. I can really relate to myself now in a positive way."

"But," Laura reminds him, "you still stand to inherit the paintings. And with Rena dead, they'd be worth a lot more than they were a week ago."

"I know," Teddy admits. "I even smell guilty. You see, that's why I'm holed up here. I was hoping that in clearing Marian, well, Leo- he'd come up with a lead, maybe."

Leo looks depressed. "Any day now, Teddy, any day."

Laura looks around. "What is this?"

"Oh, well, Marian rented it around six months ago to store all this junk art she's selling. You know, we had plans to convert it into our own space some day. It's funny. All my life, I'm not even worth the clothes I hustle to put on my back, then I finally meet somebody who matters to me. Then this happens." He turns to look at Steele, who's standing behind him now. "Love make any sense to you, Steele?"

Steele's eyes are on Laura across the room. "Less and less," he admits. "All the time."

Laura and Steele are at Rena's studio. Laura's on the phone as Steele looks around. "Thanks, Murph." She hangs up.

"You say the police have been through here?" Steele asks.

"Clean up isn't their strong suit," she tells him. "No wonder Rena had so many pairs of glasses. She was going blind."

"Going blind?"

She nods. "Murphy checked with her opthamalogist. She had a degenerative eye disease called retinitus pigmentosa. But it's odd."

"Her painting?" Steele questions. "More like tragic."

"No, I mean this studio. Rena must have been standing here because there's such a large stain. But there's not a drop on this painting."

Steele has picked up a self-portrait of Rena. "Laura."




He finally turns. "Laura. Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Twentieth Century Fox, 1944. A detective falls in love with a murdered woman that he knows only through her portrait, then discovers that she's not really dead."

"Not really dead?" Laura asks. "Try this. A successful but waning artist is broke. Her only source of income in her painting, but she realizes that she'll soon be blind."

"She dies in a sensational murder," Steele adds.

"Plenty of delicious scandal."

"Which shoots up the value of her paintings."

"Additional data- no body, erratic, illogical evidence at the scene of the crime-"

"So Rena staged the murder to cash in on her talents while she still could," Steele surmises.

"And left Teddy to take the rap for it."

"Cold blooded scheme," Steele comments, still looking at Rena's picture.

"Cunning woman."

"And not nearly as appealing as Gene Tierney."

In the limo, Laura tells Steele, "Marian's going to meet us at the loft. She can't wait to see Teddy again. The lovers, reunited." In the back glass, we can see a yellow Pacer is following them.

"Indeed," Steele says. "Laura, there's no point in putting this off any longer. I took a phone call for you this morning. From- Giovanni."

"Giovanni?" She winces. "Oh, dear. You weren't supposed to find out."

"Obviously not."

"So you know about my -"

"Lover? Yes."

"Lovers," she corrects.

Steele's eyes widen in shock. "Lovers? You mean there's more than one?"

"Well, I knew it was going to be more work," she explains eagerly. "But I couldn't see doing it any other way."

"But, that's not possible," he protests.

"Well, keeping them both balanced is tricky. But when you're holding a torch like that-"

"Torch? Sounds more like a forest fire, raging out of control! Laura, I would like to consider myself a sophisticated man. I would never PRESUME to have a monopoly on your affections. But- if you must dally, couldn't you confine it to one tryst at a time?"

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You took a message for me, and deduced from that that I was having a smarmy affair with Giovanni?"

"He was none to discreet about it, either."

"Very clever deduction," she says angrily.

"You taught me too well, I'm afraid," Steele tells her.

"Well why don't you come with me next Tuesday? The more the merrier?"

Steele is shocked again. "I don't think humor is the way to deal with this right now, but if you really feel-" she places a hand to his mouth.

"Shh," she whispers, pointing to something. She reaches down and picks up a listening device. Looking behind them, they see the Pacer following them. Angry, Laura digs in her purse and comes up with a whistle. Leo's trying to figure out why he's not hearing anything.

Laura blows the whistle into the bug, causing Steele to wince, and Leo to lose control of his car. He goes off the road into a picnic table. The family that is there stands watching as he gets out of the car.

Marian, Laura, and Steele enter the dark loft. "Teddy? Teddy, it's me, Marian. Everything's gonna be all right," she assures him, turning on the lights. "Mr. Steele says Rena isn't really dead."

"We merely begin with all the known facts, Miss Travis, and from those try to make the creative leap to a working hypothesis- or theory, if you will," he says to Laura.

"Teddy?" Marian calls again, becoming concerned.

"It's alright, Teddy, really," Laura calls.

"From there, we seek out corroborating evidence to buttress our theory," Steele continues. "Until we feel confident in saying, with a high degree of certainty, that Rena is most probably-" he places his hand on a shelf against the wall, knocking over a painting that is leaning there- and revealing the body of Rena. Marian screams. "Dead," Steele confirms. "Well, it was only a theory," he points out as Laura tries to comfort Marian.

Back at the office, Marian says, "But you said Rena faked her own murder."

"In her studio she had," Laura confirmed. "Obviously someone knew it was staged an accomplice, perhaps. And decided to make it a reality. Probably to keep all the paintings for himself.

"Himself? You're not thinking it was Teddy?"

"No, no. But we did leave him there this afternoon."

"And he wasn't there when we discovered Rena," Steele points out.

"Then you ARE saying it was Teddy, aren't you?"

"We're merely saying that- in light of the facts, it might be wise to prepare yourself for the worst-"

Murphy comes in. "Laura. Excuse me. Can I see you for a second?" he asks. "It's important."

Laura turns and follows him from the room, leaving Steele alone with Marian. "You see, Marian, there are unfortunate surprises even in the most- trusting of relationships."

Bernice interrupts. "Mr. Steele- Darrell said to tell you to take all the time you want on the color. He gets paid by the hour."

"Thank you."

"And Miss Travis. Someone named Giovanni called. He says he'd like to arrange private sessions for you and Laura together. He feels you're both that good." She sneers at Steele as she leaves.

"Good God in heaven," Steele mutters, looking at Marian. "You know him too? The man's an insatiable animal."

Marian smiles. "Giovanni? An animal? Believe me, compared to some of the sculpture instructors I've had, he's a pussycat."

Steele smiles. "Sculpture instructor?"

"Yes. On Tuesday nights. That's how I met Laura. He's very encouraging. And Laura has a natural talent." Steele's smile is filled with relief. "You should see her piece. The Lovers. For rusty carburetors and brake drums, it's terribly romantic."

Murphy is telling Laura, "It seems Teddy had some gambling debts before the marriage. He embezzled money from Rena to pay them off. She found out about it, collected enough evidence to have him convicted, and kept him on a short string ever since."

"No wonder he couldn't leave her for Marian."

"With Rena out of the picture, he's out from under a tight rap, worth a small fortune in artwork, and free to do as he pleases. You want my vote?"

"I'm afraid to start counting," Laura says.

Steele tells Marian, "Oh, not to worry, Marian. Even the best of detectives can be occasionally misled by the facts," he says, glancing at the door to Laura's office. "Particularly when they're not fully explained. And I can identify with Teddy's predicament. Now trust me. We'll find Teddy's innocent no matter how remote it may seem." She starts crying on his shoulder. "Oh, there, there now," Steele murmurs in comfort, but he's smiling in the direction of Laura's doorway.

As the limo drives through the darkened streets, Steele acts uncomfortable. "Laura, I owe you an apology."

"You do?"

"Jealousy is a petty, childish emotion. What you do with Giovanni et al on Tuesday nights is your own affair, so to speak."

"Thank you."

"My hopes for a fuller relationship between us were possessive and unrealistic. I can see that now, and I appreciate the way you helped me through a difficult adjustment." He sighs sadly. "It won't happen again."

She turns around to him, rubbing his shoulder. "Well, you know, I don't think we need write anything in stone-"

The telephone rings, and Steele says, "Excuse me," as he answers it, she stays where she is. "Steele here."

Bernice is on the phone. "Alright. It's 11:30. I waited and I called. Now what do you want?"

"Ah, Darlene," Steele says with a fond smile.

"What do you mean, Darlene?" Bernice wants to know.

Laura withdraws, looking away as he continues his little charade. "YesTonightOf course I remember."

"You're pulling something, aren't you?" Bernice accuses.

"You have a key, don't you?"

"All right. Tell me what you're doing, or I'm gonna hang up right now," Bernice warns.

"Just let yourself in. I'll be by shortly." Bernice looks sick. "Silk? Always loved the feel of silk." Bernice slams down the receiver, and Steele laughs wickedly. "Very well, very well. Okay. Until then," he says, then hangs up. He looks back at Laura. "I'm sorry, Laura, what were you saying about stone?"

Laura's slightly upset. "Look, I may not have been complete- That is, if you really thought that I-! Oh, HELL!" she exclaims, then gives Steele a kiss as the limo comes to a stop. "Give my best to Darlene!' she tells him, opening the door.

"Laura," he says, sliding across the seat as she slams the door. "Laura, wait. Wait. Darlene is just-" He gives it up, sits back, shaking his head. "Love must truly be an enigma, Fred."

"How's that, sir?"

"Because I can't tell if I'm winning or losing."

Laura enters her house, and turns on the light, only to be grabbed from behind. "You scream, and it's all over," her captor warns.

Steele gets off the elevator at his apartment, pausing as he notices the damaged door lock on his door. Cautiously he pushes it open, and tosses his coat down. "Don't shoot, Leo. It's me."

Leo comes from the kitchen with a plate of food and glass of milk. "Steele. You know, this is some shed you got here. Uh, you want some?"

Teddy is sitting at a table, saying, "I'm sorry I scared you, Miss Holt, but I'm kind of a wreck myself. You know, getting set up once was bad enough. But twice-"

Laura sets a plate of food on the table before him. "So you let the loft to look for this?" she asks about the papers on the table.

"See, I couldn't believe that Rena would ever leave me anything. I mean, especially her paintings." He stuffs a napkin down the front of his almost unbuttoned shirt. "Then I remembered-she kept all her legal papers in the safe in the floor of the bedroom. So I went to check. Then, when I got back, there's Rena. Dead. Again. So I ran." Laura's reading the papers. "Someone's trying to bury me, Miss Holt, as fast as they can. Now, I'm no Einstein, but that piece of paper there, I think that -sticks the blame on somebody else for a change."

"According to this, Rena sold all of her paintings, including the ones nobody's seen yet, to a consortium."

"That's good for me, right?"

"Well, it hardly clears you, especially since you didn't even know about it. But it does point elsewhere," she admits, picking up her glass of what looks like beer. "Maybe to Devereaux or Spriggs."

"Either one's okay with me," Teddy tells her. "As long as we do it right away. I don't want to be a notch on some cop's .38."

"In that case, you shouldn't go back to the loft," Laura tells him.

He stands up, reaching into his pocket. "Are you kidding? I'm NEVER going back there. You take the key. I don't want them to find it on me." He drops the key on the table.

"Then I guess you'd better spend the night with me," Laura suggests.

"Hey, thanks for the offer, Miss Holt, but- well, you see-since Marian, I've kinda- sworn off fooling around. You know what I mean?"

Laura is a bit frustrated by his denseness. "I meant," she tells him, standing up. "On the couch."

Steele pours a glass of liquor as Leo speculates. "Look. The Casellas dame is dead for good. But somebody snatched the paintings. We find the paintings, we got the killer. Capice?"

"An eminently sound deduction, Leo."

"So I figure we're both pros. Why butt heads over this, huh? We go arm and arm, we find the oilskins together, split the recovery fee- become partners."


"Only thing is, you gotta dump baby doll."

"Miss Holt?" Steele questions, loosening his tie.

"She's no good for you, Steele. I'm talking albatross. Secretary one week, detective the next. I mean, you and I know being a real detective takes a certain, uh-"

"Je ne sais quoi?" Steele suggests.

"Yeah, yeah. That to. But mostly it takes moxie. I got moxie, you got moxie. Together we got moxie up the kazoo. Whaddaya say? Partners?"

"I don't know, Leo. You strike me more as a lone wolf."

"The lone wolf. That's great."

"Why don't we see our way though this case," Steele suggests, pulling Leo from the table and grabbing his coat, "And consider our options then?"

"You make a great business partner. Gilt edged. Blitzman and Steele."

"Oh-ho." Steele leads him toward the door.

"Or Steele and Blitzman. Hey, you eat a guy's liverwurst, you don't get fussy about the name-"

"Actually, it's pate, but never mind."

"Okay. I can see you want to put us on a little shakedown cruise. Right? I'm game. First thing in the morning, -"

Steele takes the broken lock from the door. "You're gonna see to it that my lock is repaired."

Leo holds up the lock. "Taiwan. And they're ruining the detecting business."

Steele pushes him out. "Good night." He closes the door.

The next morning, he arrives at Laura's. When she lets him in, he tells her. "Audacity, Laura. It makes kings of commoners. You'll never believe the proposition I had last night."

"I doubt that I care to hear about it."

"But when I got home, I discovered that-"

"Don't," she says, holding up her hand. "I thought about what you said last night, and you were right. Maybe we should keep our private lives private, each to his own, no questions asked. Besides, we have a case to solve, and it isn't getting any simpler." She turns away. "Wait here."

"But," he says, following her to the doorway, "But, I'm talking about the case. He hears the shower running, and finds men's clothing on the couch. The phone rings, and he answers. "Steele here."

"YOU," Bernice says. "What are you doing there?" In the background, Darrell and several of his friends are gathered.

"Why? Who were you expecting, Miss Wolfe?"

"Hey, if you set me up last night to take advantage of Laura," she warns as he looks around and finds another bug.

"I can assure you, any advantages taken weren't mine. Now, to the purpose of your call."

"The gallery owner, Spriggs, just called. "He said he had to see you right away, it was urgent. But wouldn't give me any details over the phone."

"Message received. Thank you." He hangs up. Laura comes in. "We need to see Spriggs," he says, at the same time, she speaks.

"We need to see Spriggs." She stops. "He called?" she asks.

"Apparently." He grabs her before she can turn away. "But-Laura, listen to me. If- because of Darlene-if you thought- that is, if it caused you to-" he motions toward the bedroom, "rebound into-"

"No questions, remember? Just the case. Spriggs." She turns and leaves him standing there, still worried.

"Right. Spriggs." He holds the bug up to his mouth. "Spriggs gallery. You got that, Leo?" he says into it. A car horn blows outside.

Laura sees him and frowns as she follows him out.


As they enter the gallery, she says, "Partners. He actually suggested we all become partners?"

"Well-not all of us. Leo feels that- uh, the agency might be overstaffed."

"Really? Whom does he think we should cut?" she asks, and then they're distracted by a noise in the back of the gallery. They rush in that direction, reaching the back room just as Spriggs appears in the doorway.

"Mr. Steele. Anita still glued to the damn soap op-" he falls forward into their arms, revealing a piece of metal sculpture sticking out of his back.

Getting him to the floor, Steele and Laura run into the room, but Steele can't get the back door open. "It's blocked," he tells her. "Let's go round to the back."

"Right," she agrees, and leads the way to the front door as Leo comes in.

"Hey, Holt! Where's Steele?" he asks as she passes him. Seeing Steele, he says, "Hi, Steele. Where's Spriggs?" Then he sees Spriggs' body. "HEY! Somebody just killed Spriggs!" he calls, then takes off as well.

They return to the gallery. "Did you make the car, the plate, a face?" Leo asks.

"Nothing!" Laura declares as she continues into the other room.

Leo and Steele pause by the body. "Well, the worms'll be singin tonight," Leo comments.

"An appalling metaphor, Leo. But accurate. Best call the police, I suppose. If we only knew what he was trying to tell us. Laura?"

Leo kneels beside the body. "Ain't no telephone to the grave, Steele."


"We're on our own. Blitzman and Steele." He glances up as Steele moves away. "Okay. Steele and Blitzman. Steele!" he follows. "Steele!"

Laura is looking at some slides of paintings. "Unless I'm mistaken, these are the slides of the missing Rena Casellas paintings."

"Logical assumption, Laura, but what about Spriggs' assailant? I mean, I hate to say it, but I think Teddy's back in the fire."

"Teddy didn't kill Spriggs," she tells him. "But if we can find the paintings, then we'll also find the killer. Devereaux perhaps."

"You hit the kitten on the head, baby doll," Leo tells her. "So, how do we find the paintings, coach?" he asks Steele.

Laura looks at Steele as he looks thoughtful. "Uh, how do we find the paintings?" he muses. "A simple enough procedure for seasoned professionals, Leo. Teddy said Rena painted these pictures in a secret hiding place known only to herself and her accomplice." He looks at the slide. "With Rena dead, where better to continue hiding the paintings but that same secret hiding place?"

Laura snaps her fingers. "Those palm trees." She points out four palms in a "W" shape. "They're in at least half of these pictures."

"So what?" Leo asks.

"I've seen those palm trees before," she insists.

Steele's looking now. "Of course you have. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,
United Artists, 1963, Spencer Tracy and a plethora of comics." He points to the palms. "The money was hidden underneath the crossed palms."

Laura is stunned. "I think they could be."


They go to the site of the palms. "There they are!" Steele calls out.

"Rena must have painted those pictures somewhere around here," Laura comments.

"Laura," Steele asks as they stand beneath the palms, waiting for Leo to catch up, "How can you be so sure that Teddy didn't kill Spriggs?"

"Because he spent the night with me," she tells him, examining the slide in her hand.

"Teddy? You mean, this morning in the shower?"

"He didn't know where else to turn."

"I know the feeling," he mutters as Leo comes up, out of breath.

"Hey, Steele, this is heart attack hill. Couldn't you find another way to get up here?" His attention is caught by something, and he moves past them

"As usual, Leo, your sense of timing is impeccable."

"Well, I knew you'd find it."

"You did?" Laura and Steele notice the cottage across the way, and they follow him.

At the cottage, Laura tries the door, but it's locked. "I'll bust it down," Leo tells them, handing his coat to Steele.

"I don't think that would be wise, Leo," he warns.

Leo moves back. "Cover your eyes," he tells Laura. "Splinters can be dangerous." He leaps at the door, and grabs his shoulder. "A trick door," he declares. "Who could tell?" he asks, grabbing his shoulder again.

Steele gives him back the coat. "Perhaps there's an easier route," he decides, and leads them away. He easily leaps over a short wall, and then Laura gets over. They wait for Leo, and Laura offers her hand.

"I can do it, I can do it," Leo insists, putting his coat on the fence and leaping on top. Laura has to help him down.

They enter the house through an unlocked door. They hear another door close. Leo tells Laura, "You'd better stay here, Baby doll. Things might get rough." Laura remains where she is.

Steele and Leo enter the study, and Leo opens a door, only to have Noah Devereaux shove something in his face and take off. Steele gives chase. As Noah reaches the door and opens it, Laura breaks a chair over his head. Leo arrives on the scene as Noah slides to the floor. "Nice work, Steele," he says. Laura turns away, angry and disgusted.

Once Noah wakes, Leo tosses him onto the sofa. "Let me mark him, Steele. Just the tip of his nose."

"Would you tell this animal to leave me alone?"

"You were Rena's accomplice in the staging of her murder," Laura accuses.

"I want to talk to my lawyer."

"Then you murdered Rena since she was legally dead already," Steele continues.

"But Spriggs wasn't prepared for that and panicked. That's why he called us. Unfortunately, you got to him before we did."

Leo looks at Laura. "I could dislocate a joint."

Laura ignores him. "The contract between Rena and the consortium you formed should provide enough of a motive."

"And the fingerprints on the sculpture in Spriggs will no doubt prove equally revealing," Steele says.

Leo grabs Noah. "Let me loosen a tooth or two."

"ALL RIGHT! Spriggs did panic when he found out why I brought him into the consortium. He accused me of killing Rena. He threatened to go to the police. I couldn't persuade him otherwise- but I DID NOT kill Rena!"

Leo looks at Steele. "Chinese water torture," he suggests.

Steele smiles sickly. "No, I swear, why would I kill her? She'd hidden the paintings someplace. She was going to get them when she was killed. Until I had those paintings, Rena was more valuable to me alive than dead, right?!"

"That does seem to follow a certain, sordid logic," Steele admits to Laura. Laura moves off, thoughtful, as Leo shakes Noah.


"I don't KNOW! I thought they'd be here. But I've taken the place apart and they're not."

Steele notices Laura, standing there, a finger to her mouth. He goes to her. "You're onto something. I can tell by that delicious gleam in your eye."

"I think we've been missing something rather obvious."

"I'm still missing it. What are you talking about?"

"She was going to get the paintings." She snaps her fingers. "Of course."

"Of course what?" he questions as she moves off.

"My God, get this maniac away from me!" Noah pleads as Leo lights a cigar and holds it menacingly.

"Leo, please!" Steele says. "He's already confessed. Please."

Leo frowns and lets Noah go.

At the warehouse, Leo unlocks the doors to the loft. "You really think the paintings could be here, Steele?"

"Rena knew about Teddy and Marian, it's possible she knew about this too." Leo turns on the lights.

"It's the last place anyone would expect her to use," Laura points out. "Devereaux said she was going to get them just before she was killed." Leo starts going through the canvases that are scattered everywhere.

"It's nice stuff, alright," Leo comments. "But I don't see what we're looking for."

Laura asks Steele, "If you were going to hide a set of paintings-"

"I'd put them right in front of your nose, where you'd never see them," he tells her. He looks at a stack of paintings, and pulls the corner of the canvas, revealing one of the missing paintings.

"Paydirt," Leo says. "Listen, Steele, why don't we forget the recovery fee and dance these beauties into the black market? I got a friend that knows a lot of high rollers in Houston, and- uh, they eat this kind of stuff for breakfast."

"We haven't found Rena's killer, Leo," Laura reminds him.

"Devereaux, right?"

"No, not until he knew where the paintings were."

"Then Spriggs. It's always those little guys."

"No. Spriggs didn't even know about the scam. He thought Rena really WAS murdered in her studio."

"Well," Steele asks, "if it wasn't Marian, and it wasn't Teddy, who the-"

"What difference does it make?" Leo asks. "We got the brass ring. I could go out and rent us a truck-" Laura glances at the door as a thought occurs. "And have these in Houston before the sun hits the horizon." Laura joins Steele. "Whaddaya say, Steele?"

"Leo, how did you get us in here just now?" Laura asks.


"With a key," Steele answers. "Why?"

"Whose key?" she wants to know.

"Uh, Teddy's key. Teddy gave it to me when we were here."

"No, no, no, no," Laura says, holding up the key. "I have Teddy's key. And Marian had hers the night we found Rena."

"What is this, Steele? You lettin baby doll run the show?"

"Where'd you get the key, Leo?" Steele asks.

"Rena must have had one made up so she could get to the paintings. But the police didn't find one on the body. Did you come looking for Teddy and walk in on Rena instead?"

Leo pulls a gun. "I warned you about her Steele," he says.

"Ohhh, no, Leo," Steele moans.

"Rena laughed at me," Leo explains. "I made her an offer. An even split on the paintings, and I would have kept her secret. Twenty years in this business carryin' a license and this is the sweetest thing I ever stepped into." He moves to the row of paintings. "Crazy dame. She ran for it. I went after her and got a piece of her coat by the elevator." He puts some canvases under his arm. "Next thing you know, I'm looking down the shaft at a stiff. I didn't mean for it to go sour like that. Just my luck, huh? The goose dies, and I don't even know where the golden eggs are."

"So you hitched yourself onto me," Steele says, "and hoped it would pay off. Leo, you're a detective. Doesn't that MEAN anything to you?"

"Yeah. It means teaching frightened old ladies how to use mace three times a week just to keep my car running. You pegged me, Steele. The lone wolf. What have I got that's so great, huh? Nothin. And when I take the Big Sleep in some charity ward on Skid Row, who's gonna care? Nobody, that's who. Once, just once, I want to score it big."

Laura moves around Steele. "You're going to have to kill us to do it, Leo."

"That's right," Steele agrees softly. He slowly starts toward Leo.

"Don't come any closer, Steele," Leo warns. "I'll shoot."

"I don't think so, Leo," Steele tells him. He takes the gun.

"I always wanted to send somebody up the river," Leo tells him. "I never figured on it being me." Laura puts her hand on his shoulder.


Darrell is showing signs of frustration as Steele examines the swatches of color again. "The same color?" he asks in disbelief. "After all we went through?"

"A man needs a little consistency in his life, Darrell," Steele tells him. "Something reassuring, familiar. Something to inspire trust."

Laura joins them. "What's this about trust?"

"He wants me to paint the walls trustworthy grey," Darrell tells her.

Laura smiles. "I approve the choice. It was worth waiting for."

Marian and Teddy come in, with Teddy carrying something that's covered by a cloth. "Laura? Where would you like this?"

"Right through there," Laura tells them.

"What is that you're taking into my office, Teddy?" Steele asks him.

"A hernia."

They follow them into the office. Teddy sets the item on the desk. "Before we leave," Marian says, "we'd like to tell you the good news. Teddy and I are getting married."


"Oh, that's wonderful!"

"I've turned over a new leaf," Teddy tells them. "No more living off other people. My irresponsible days are over. I've found a new profession. It's respectable, secure, and dependable."

"What's that, Teddy?"

"I've taken up- painting," he tells them.

"I'm so excited I could almost-" Marian begins.

"Oh, don't do that, Princess. We got a plane to catch. We're off to Arkansas to see dear old Dad," he tells them. Marian and Laura hug, and Teddy takes Steeles' hand. "Well, Steele, muchas gracias."

"Don't mention it," Steele says, as Teddy moves to Marian and Laura.

"Princess, come on." They leave the office.

Once they're alone, Steele and Laura stand there, looking nervously at each other. "Laura, I realize we agreed to no personal questions, but- in the interest our mutual sanity- what would you say to sixty seconds of- total honesty?"

"A full minute? Are you sure you can handle it?"

"I'm desperate enough to suggest it."

"Alright. I'm not having an affair with Giovanni."

"There is no Darlene."

"Teddy spent the night on the couch."

"I spent the night with Leo."

"The Lovers-is a sculpture I've been working on."


She pulls the cloth from the sculpture. "Do you like it?"

He's doubtful. "Inspired."


"That IS what we're doing, isn't it?"

"In that case," she asks, standing close to him. "I have one more question."

"Fire away."

"What's your real name?"

"My -real name." He glances at his watch. "Uh. Time's up." He pulls a wire on the sculpture.

The End.