A dark Ford parks in the lot for the familiar twin towers, and two men, dressed in conservative suits, get out. One is carrying a folder. They enter the building, take the elevator up to the eleventh floor, and enter the offices of Remington Steele Investigations.
Mildred is working at her desk, and looks up as they pull out badges. The first one says, "Colby."
"Rhodes," his partner says.
"FBI," Colby says.
"Steele?" Rhodes asks.
"Inside," Mildred informs them, pointing with her pen, her face impassive. As they turn toward the office, Mildred gets up. "Coffee?" she asks.
"Tea," Colby says.
"Sugar," Rhodes answers as Mildred quickly cuts them off.
Mildred gets to the door and pauses, then knocks twice and opens the door.
Inside, Steele is reading the paper, his feet propped on the desk. When the door opens, he lowers the paper and watches the two men and Mildred enter the room to stop before his desk.
"FBI," Mildred tells a shocked Steele.
He folds the paper and sits forward as Colby opens the folder and pulls out a copy of a magazine that he tosses down on the desk before Steele. Steele picks it up and reads the title. "Bedside Babes?" he asks, confused. He picks it up.
"Page 46," Colby tells him. "Babe of the Month?"
Looking at the two FBI men, Steele flips to the page, looks, then closes the magazine quickly, embarrassed. "Good Lord."
Curious, Mildred comes around, and he shows it to her. "You know her then?" Colby asks.
"Obviously not as well as I thought," Steele muses.
"Mind telling us what Laura Holt, private investigator, is doing in a publication of that sort?"
Mildred looks at Steele as he searches for an answer. "Well, obviously, she-" they glance at the magazine again. "She- she's on a case," he says quickly, smiling at his quick thinking.
"Undercover," Mildred agrees.
"The photographer is Douglas Veenhoff," Rhodes informs him. Steele stands. "Ring a bell?"
"Uh . . . ah, yes. Yes, Veenhoff." He smiles at Mildred. "The Veenhoff matter. Yes."
Mildred smiles as she "remembers". "A sleazy job, but someone had to do it," she tells the agents.
"You're aware, then," Colby tells them, "that Veenhoff is wanted for interstate trafficking in pornographic materials?"
"Shocking, isn't it?" Steele comments.
"According to his appointment book," Colby says, "Laura Holt was the last person to see him. She might know where he is."
"I assure you, gentlemen," Steele says, moving around the desk, Mildred right behind him, "as soon as Miss Holt gets in, you shall be the first ones to know," he tells them, still holding the magazine. "The Remington Steele Agency prides itself on its co-operation with the authorities."
"Suppose we have a look at your files, then," Colby says, not really asking. "In the spirit of co-operation."
"Oh, yes," Steele agrees, eager to be out from under the FBI's sharp gaze. "Mildred, look into that, please."
Mildred doesn't blink. "As long as they have a warrant," she says. Steele looks at her as if to ask if she's lost her mind.
"I'm sure you can make an exception this one time," Rhodes suggests.
Steele nods, clearly disturbed. Mildred's next words don't help him at all. "Listen, pal, how long do you think we'd stay in business if we opened our files to every clown who came by flashing a badge?"
"I could walk out that door and be back here with a court order in thirty minutes," Colby threatens. "I could close you down in a day."
"Oh, don't threaten us with that bureaucratic beeswax, buster," Mildred responds as Steele looks decidedly ill. "I didn't spend six years with the IRS fraud squad for nothing."
Steele takes a breath. "Uh, excuse me, gentlemen, just a moment, will you please?" He takes Mildred's arm. "Miss Krebs." He pulls her into Laura's office. "Mildred, this is not a criticism, but- what the hell are you doing?"
"Clients' files are privileged information," Mildred reminds him.
"But the FBI, Mildred," he frets, pacing. "You remember London? You DO remember London? Five passports? Deportation? Once they begin excavating my past-" he makes a cutting motion against his throat, clearly upset and frightened.
"Relax, Chief. Non-co-operation between agencies is the backbone of bureaucracy. By the time Colby and Rhodes get back here with a warrant, you'll be six feet under."
Steele looks at her uncertainly. "Let's just hope it's not an early grave, Mildred," he tells her. "Okay." They go back into his office. "All right," he says, only to find the office empty. "You'd better start carving that tombstone right away, Mildred," he says, closing the door to the reception area. "Also, get me the file on the Veenhoff case."
"There isn't one," Mildred tells him.
"What do you mean there isn't one?"
"That's what I mean. We don't have a client called Veenhoff."
Steele picks up the phone and dials a number. "You mean," he starts to say to Mildred, then turns back to the phone. "Uh, yes. Could you get me the listing for-" he hesitates.
"Veenhoff," Mildred prompts.
The agency limo pulls up outside a building in a run down part of LA. Steele gets out and goes to one of the buildings with a sign, "Veenhoff's Photography," taking out his lock picks. He tries the door, and finds that it's indeed locked. So he picks the lock and enters the building.
Inside, he finds racks filled with negligees, and photo settings. A bathtub, bed, chaise lounge, etc, but no one else. He finds a camera on a tripod and looks through it, turning it toward the entrance as a blonde woman wearing a waitress' uniform enters. "Hi," she says. "Sorry. I had a table that wouldn't clear and my boss wouldn't let me go. I'm not too late, am I?"
Steele straightens from the camera, uncertain how to proceed. "I'm afraid you have the wrong person here," he begins, smiling at her.
"I mean, I'm here now. We might as well do what we can, don't you think?"
"I have to admit, I'm a little nervous. I've never done this sort of thing before."
"I'm a little new at this myself," Steele tells her. They laugh. "Now, tell me," he reads her name tag, "Jackie, now, exactly what type of photographs did you have in mind?"
"Oh, I was sorta hoping you could do for me what you did for Betsy Bloomquist? Only- no leather. Satin's more my style, don't you think?"
Steele looks at her. "Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. No question about it. Now, uh, did I happen to mention what I DO with the photographs?"
"You're not gonna do anything with them, I hope. I wanted to give them to Mikey for a wedding present. That'll surprise him, don't you think?"
"Not too much, I hope," Steele mutters.
"If you got a dressing room, I'll slip into something a little more-"
"Say no more, say no more. Right through here," he tells her, leading her toward a door marked "Dressing Room". "Okay, Jackie. Take your time." She pauses in the doorway. "Breathe. Okay? Don't worry. Don't worry." He closes the door and starts toward the exit, but is startled when a man calls from behind him.
"Veenhoff!" He tosses a golf club at Steele, but Steele ducks and the club lodges in a wooden door. He retrieves it and backs Steele into the studio. "Now, if you're not going to be a human being about this fine, maybe I can knock some sense into that Neanderthal skull of yours! Now had over those files!"
"I'm not Veenhoff!" Steele insists.
The man wrecks a light. "For the last time, give me those files!"
"For the last time, I'm not Veenhoff!"
The man swings the club as Jackie, now wearing a sheer teddy, stockings and a feather boa, comes out of the dressing room. "Where do you want me, Mr. Veenhoff?" she asks.
Steele trips, falling backward into a beach scene. The man hits at him, misses. Jackie stands beside the brass bed. "Hey, come on, you guys. This is MY hour!"
Steele grabs a handful of sand and tosses it into the man's eyes, blinding him. Steele grasps the putter and tosses it away, narrowly missing Jackie, who jumps across the bed and breaks it. Steele grabs the man, hits him and knocks him out. Steele turns the camera around and takes the man's picture. "Smile."
He straightens his tie and leaves.
Mildred is typing when the phone rings. "Remington Steele Investigations," she answers.
"Laura Holt?" a man asks.
"I'm sorry, she's not in right now. May I take a message?"
"Tell her Veenhoff called." We see a scruffy man wearing thick lenses sitting in an equally scruffy hotel room.
The FBI men are tapping the Agency phone line.
"Does Miss Holt know where you are?" Mildred asks.
"Sometimes I wonder. Look, I gotta move. I'm getting stir crazy here."
"No, uh-uh. You're gonna stay right where you are until I can reach Miss Holt."
"Okay, in that case, tell her to bring me something to eat, will ya? Double cheese burger, large order of fries, onion rings."
"Anything to drink?"
"Okay, you got it. What's the address?"
"She's got me stashed at someplace called the Melrose Apartments," Veenhoff tells Mildred.
Rhodes is listening to the conversation. "1121 Melrose. Apartment 303." Colby writes it down.
Mildred parks the Auburn alongside the curb outside the building on Melrose and gets out, holding a white paper bag. She goes to 303, and knocks. "Mr. Veenhoff?" There's no answer. "Mr. Veenhoff?" She tries the doorknob. It's locked. So she pulls out her lock pick kit and tries to pick the lock. The pick breaks off in the lock. She frowns in disgust, then goes to the end of the hall and climbs out onto the fire escape.
From there, she climbs over onto the ledge, the paper bag in her mouth. She sidles along the ledge, tries to get through a window. It's latched, so she gets around the corner to an open window.
Just as she gets there, Rhodes and Colby break into the empty room, guns drawn. "Veenhoff!"
Mildred pulls back, then peeks inside, watching as they thoroughly search the room. Turning back around, she sees a young man with his head stuck inside the engine compartment of the Auburn. She barely stops herself from crying out to him.
Once Colby and Rhodes give up and leave, Mildred yells, "HEY! What do you think you're doing?" The young man just waves at her. He gets the engine started, and goes around to get behind the steering wheel. "Somebody call the cops!" Mildred yells. "He's stealing my car!" The boy drives off in the Auburn. "He's a car thief! Come back, you louse! Come back with my car!"
She climbs into Veenhoff's room as he comes in. "Hey, what's going on?" he asks.
"Yeah." He looks around. "What the hell did you do to my room?"
She grabs his arm and pulls him with her to the door. "Come on. It's not safe in here."
Steele, holding a handkerchief to his upper lip, enters the offices. Laura comes from her office with some paper. "Morning," she says.
"Morning," he replies, watching her.
"What happened to your lip?" Laura asks, obviously distracted.
"Racquetball," he tells her.
"I didn't know you played," she says, nearly hitting him in the face with the door as she opens it to leave.
He follows her down the hall. "Laura, is there anything I should know about? I mean, clients, cases?"
She glances at her watch then looks at him. "Not really. Why?"
"Oh, no reason. Just thought we could have a bite to eat, that's all," he says as they get to the elevator.
"Sorry. Promised a friend I'd do him a favor."
"Really? What sort of favor?"
"Oh, it's an afternoon's work. I wouldn't want to bore you with the details." She presses the button again.
"Oh, no, no. I'll just- come along for the ride, you know? Get a-" he takes a deep breath "-breath of fresh air."
"Really, Mr. Steele," Laura insists, "it's a personal matter. I wouldn't want to trouble you-"
The doors open. "Uh- no trouble," Steele assures her with a smile, then waits for the people getting off of the lift to do so, then waits for her. "Here you go."
Laura gets onto the elevator, her frustration obvious.
Mildred and Veenhoff go to Steele's apartment. As they get off the elevator, she digs out her kit. "Follow me. And keep a sharp eye peeled."
Veenhoff sees the pick. "Oh," he says, and watches as she breaks that one as well. "Uh-oh."
"Come on," Mildred tells him, turning back to the elevator. Veenhoff looks at the lock before she pulls him away. "It's not safe here," Mildred declares.
"How do you know?"
"I'm a trained investigator." As the lift door begins to close, she tells him, "There's death behind that door."
In the limo, Steele glances behind them to see a dark Ford tailing them. He looks at Laura. "This- friend of yours. What does he do?"
"He's a photographer."
"Oh. For a newspaper?"
"No, no," Laura responds nervously. "He has his own studio. Does- portraits, mostly."
"Ah, I see. Graduations, weddings, kids, dogs, that sort of thing."
Laura hesitates. "More or less," she finally answers.
"Has he- ever taken your photograph?" Steele wonders.
Laura almost laughs. "Mine? No. Me? You know how camera shy I am."
"Ah, yes. A veritable shrinking violet," Steele agrees dryly. The Ford is still back there. "Um, this friend of yours wouldn't be mixed up in anything- illegitimate, would he?"
Laura looks at him. "Your imagination never stops, does it?"
"At the moment, it's working overtime."
"All right. A couple of days ago, someone broke into Veenhoff's Studio, roughed him up and demanded he turn over his files," she explains in a cool, no nonsense tone.
"That's his name. Veenhoff?"
"Yes. Luckily, he was interrupted by Veenhoff's next appointment. I managed to get a line on a man who fits his description. If it's who I think it is- we may have a mini-Watergate on our hands."
"Ever heard of Ford Stevens?" she asks.
Steele draws a blank. "No."
"He's the candidate for State Senate. And very likely the man I'm after."
"What's his connection with Veenhoff?"
"When I find out, I'll let you know."
Steele looks back again. This time, Laura notices and looks herself, but doesn't see anything. "Is there something you're not telling me?" she asks.
"Whatever gave you that idea?" he asks in return. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
"Whatever gave you that idea?" she repeats. They both sit there, arms folded, looking away from each other. Steele notices and puts his arm on the door as Laura looks at him.
At Ford Stevens' campaign headquarters, Laura gets out of the car. "Sit tight. I'll be back in a minute."
The Ford parks across the street.
Inside, Laura finds a woman who seems to be in charge. "Excuse me, I'd like to see Ford Stevens, please?" She hands the woman her card.
The woman looks at it. "Wait here," she says, and moves off. Laura goes to a desk and notices an appointment on the calendar for a press conference at 6 pm that evening.
Steele looks at the Ford again, then sits forward. "Fred, why don't you swing round the back and let me out?" He pulls some money out and hands it to Fred. "Take leisurely drive up to Santa Barbara, and have yourself a big, fat, juicy steak."
"Thanks, Mr. Steele."
"Pleasure," Steele assures him.
It takes the Ford a moment to get out of its tight parking space, but then it's on the tail again.
Ford Stevens is on the telephone in his office, talking to someone about a campaign poster. "No! No way! Look at the picture! I look like an albino!" The woman knocks and comes into the room. "Make it darker. Add some color. I don't' know. Just- make it work . . . Right, right, I gotta go." He hangs up and turns to the woman. "What's up?" She hands him the card. "Laura Holt, Remington Steele Investigations?" He looks worried. "What does she want?"
"I don't know. She wants to see you."
"Uh, tell her I'm out," Ford says, rushing to grab his coat. "Tell her- no, tell her I'm on a campaign swing up north! Be in Fresno til Friday!" he calls out, leaving through a back door.
"Okay." She goes back out to Laura.
Steele enters the headquarters via another back door and comes in, wearing his sunglasses, to watch as the woman gives Laura Ford's message. "He will return your call," she assures Laura. "Thank you." They shake hands, then the woman moves away.
Laura smiles tightly, then sees Steele. He comes over to her and removes his glasses. "So?"
"Stevens is campaigning up north. He won't be back til Friday, late."
"Um, a likely story," Steele says.
"Why do you say that?"
"Obviously from your tone of voice, you don't believe that."
"According to his appointment book, Stevens has an interview with Channel Six tonight- at his home, in Fremont Place."
"Isn't it a wonderful feeling, Laura, being on the same wavelength?" Steele questions. "I mean, it's almost as though we can- read each others' thoughts, without actually having to articulate a thing." Laura looks confused as he smiles.
Mildred and Veenhoff are holed up at Laura's loft. She's on the phone. "I know you'll do your best, Sergeant, but you gotta understand, that if my boss finds out that car has been stolen, I am dead meat . . . Alright. Good-bye." She hangs up. Veenhoff paces restlessly, and she picks up the phone again and dials the agency number. No one is there. She finally hangs up. "Aren't those people ever in?" she frets.
"Now what?" Veenhoff asks.
The door opens, to admit Laura and Steele. "Oh, Miss Holt," Mildred says, coming forward. "Mr. Steele."
"Veenhoff?" Laura says.
Steele looks surprised. "Veenhoff?" he repeats, then offers his hand. "Remington Steele. How do you do?"
"Hiya," Veenhoff says.
Steele closes the door. "Not quite what I had pictured, but-well, never mind. Mildred, it's been a terribly long day. Perhaps you could fix us some cold drinks, please, will you?"
"Right away, Chief."
Steele looks at Veenhoff again, not noticing Laura, who's behind him. "So, Veenhoff, why don't you come and sit down, eh?" he suggests, not seeing the hand motions that Laura gives to Veenhoff as he leads him toward the sofa. "Miss Holt tells me that you two have known each other for quite some time."
Steele and Veenhoff sit down. "Oh, well, I guess about three-" Veenhoff begins, only to have Laura finish for him.
"Years. You know?" She says, sitting down on the arm of the sofa, smiling at them.
"That long," Steele muses. "I understand you're a photographer," he says to Veenhoff.
"Yeah, yeah. What I do is boudoir photog-raphy," he says, as Laura tries to signal for him to stop it behind Steele's back.
"Boudoir photog-raphy," Steele repeats. "Hmm. Mildred, I'll give you a hand with the drinks, shall I?" he gets up to join her in the kitchen as Laura smiles.
She slips down beside Veenhoff to ask in a quiet voice, "What happened?"
"Somebody tore the room apart," he tells her.
"Whatever you do, don't tell him you took MY picture," Laura begs.
"Why not?" he asks.
"I wouldn't want him to get the wrong idea," she says.
In the kitchen, Steele tells Mildred, "I don't' know what game our taciturn college is playing at, but I've given her enough opportunity to fess up and she hasn't said a word."
"You know those two FBI guys?"
"Hm humm?" Steele acknowledges, sucking on a lemon slice.
"They came to Veenhoff's apartment. I barely got him out in time."
"Like a bad head cold those two. Hard to shake off." He picks up a bottle and opens it for her. "By the way, Mildred, where's the Auburn?"
"Um, in the shop. It has, sticky lifters."
"Again?" he asks in disbelief. She shrugs.
As he and Mildred come over with the drinks, Laura impresses on Veenhoff not to say anything. "So, tell me, what exactly is this- Boudoir Photography?"
"Well, it's only the hottest new craze to sweep the country," Veenhoff informs him. "Women, and I'm talking housewives, I'm talking secretaries, I'm talking teachers, taking Playmate style pictures."
Steele leans close to Laura. "These women actually pay you to photograph them in the nude?"
"Well, yes and no," Veenhoff hedges as Laura glares at him. "I mean, most of them have come in not expecting to do any real nudity, you know, but- uh, a couple of glasses of wine-" he takes a drink. Steele gives Laura look. "A little slide show of some of the previous clients, and the next thing you know, these women are, well, getting into the real arty stuff," Veenhoff laughs.
"Well," Laura says, "I'm sure we all find this very fascinating, but-" she gets up. "We've got to go. With any luck, this case will be wrapped up by tonight."
"Thank heavens for that," Steele tells her, a grin on his face. "The next thing you know, he'll be wanting to take YOUR picture."
Laura looks away, wondering what's going on.
The Ford pulls up outside Laura's building. They watch as Laura and Steele get into the Rabbit and drive away. "Check upstairs," Colby tells Rhodes. Rhodes gets out of the car, and Colby follows Laura and Steele.
In the loft, Veenhoff is telling Mildred," Mildred, when I'm behind that camera, sex never-" they hear a knock, and Mildred shushes him, turning around to look at the door.
"Who is it?"
"FBI. Open up."
Mildred waves Veenhoff to the bathroom, then goes to the door. Opening it, she asks Rhodes, "You got a warrant this time?"
Veenhoff sticks his head out of the bathroom. "Hey! How are you?!" he asks.
Rhodes pulls a gun and comes into the room. "Okay, Veenhoff. Let's move it."
Mildred grabs a statue from the piano and slams Rhodes over the head. Veenhoff tells her, "He offered me twenty grand for my files. Told me he's a talent agent."
"He's no agent," Mildred tells him. "Not even for the FBI."
"How do you know?"
"What about it?"
"It's not government issue!" Mildred declares.
Mildred steps over Rhodes' unconscious body, and grabs Veenhoff's hand. "Come on! Come one! It's not safe here!"
Outside Ford Stevens' house, Colby sits, watching the Rabbit, and waiting. Steele and Laura are inside as Stevens is being made up for his TV appearance.
He looks at a mirror. "Oh, that's fine. Thank you very much." The make up woman leaves them. Stevens gets up. "Mr. Steele, Miss Holt, please. I just don't have time to deal with you right now. I'm right in the middle of my campaign. I'm a very busy man." Steele and Laura follow him as he's walking away.
"I'm sure the news media would enjoy hearing just how busy, Mr. Stevens. Breaking and entering, extortion, assault and battery. Quite an agenda."
"I say," Steele asks, "What does the name Douglas Veenhoff mean to you?"
Stevens sags. "All right. I'll tell you exactly how it happened. But you have to understand something. My whole life is invested in this campaign. This house, my kids' future, pension plan, the risk is enormous."
"We're all ears," Laura tells him.
"My wife," Stevens tells them. "She-" he moves to a table and pulls out a copy of "Bedside Babes".
"Oh," Steele muses, taking the book. "Bedside Bab-" Laura grabs the book. "-s," he finishes, frowning at her.
"Page 27," Stevens tells Laura.
She carefully goes to that page, not looking at anything else. Steele leans over to look as well. "Your wife?" he asks Stevens.
"No. Lucille Bascombe, our next door neighbor. She and Emily- that's my wife- went down to this- boudoir photographer and had all these damn pictures taken. Hell, when she first showed them to me, I was flattered. In fact, it was kind of a turn on," he admits.
Steele smiles as Laura looks uncertainly at him.
"We've been married a long time. Then I saw this."
"Are you saying Douglas Veenhoff took this picture?" Laura asks.
"YES," Stevens confirms. "That's why I wanted his files. Can you imagine what it would do to my campaign if my wife ended up in a smut magazine like this?"
"Well, I don't think there's much chance of that, Mr. Stevens," Laura says. "Your wife would have to sign a release before Veenhoff could sell her pictures."
Emily Stevens comes into the room. "Lucille didn't sign any release."
"Are you certain?" Steele asks.
"Of course. Don't be absurd. Those pictures were meant for her husband's eyes only." Steele nods. "As were mine." He nods again, while Laura glances through the magazine.
"I can see your predicament, Mrs. Stevens, but the question is-" Laura gasps, closes the magazine, her eyes wide.
"What's the question?" Stevens asks.
Laura is in shock, so Steele takes over. "The question is, what are we gonna do about Veenhoff and this-" he grabs the magazine out of Laura's hands, "trash."
Laura grabs it away from him. "It's already-" Steele grabs it back, struggling with Laura for it. "It's already on the local newsstands." Laura grabs it again, holds it close. "Probably hundreds throughout the city," he says, looking at her.
"Thousands across the country," Stevens tells them.
Steele glares at Laura, who asks, "Mr. Stevens,- if we promise to deliver your wife's negatives to you, will you leave Veenhoff alone?"
"Absolutely," Stevens says, sounding relieved.
"We'll get right on it," Steele assures them, "And don't worry about Veenhoff," he tells them as Laura moves off, "I have a feeling he's gonna get what's coming to him." He follows Laura.
"I hope so," Steven says, following them a little way. "Miss Holt," he calls. Laura stops. "I have the funny feeling I've seen you somewhere before."
"No, I don't think so," Laura says, trying to leave.
"Wait, wait a minute, it'll come to me," he says.
"Ford never forgets a face," Emily says.
"Ah," Steele says with a smile, "photographic memory, eh?"
Ford snaps his fingers and nods. "Century Plaza Hotel. Presidential Primary, 1984. You were wearing some sort of- provocative gown."
Steele smiles as Laura turns and leaves, then follows her.
In the limo, Steele says, "Provocative gown? Presidential primary? Where was I?"
"Mind on the case, Mr. Steele," Laura admonishes, still furious. "We may have gotten Veenhoff off the hook with Stevens, but he's not off the hook with me."
"Obviously, he neglected to tell you he was peddling his pictures on the side."
"I'm gonna wring his fat, greasy neck!" she declares.
"Oh, Laura, you're taking this awfully personally. After all, it's not as though you were between those pages. The object of desire for every slobbering pervert, every- sex starved Marine, every-convict on death row who wishes to kind of-"
"Mr. Steele, PLEASE!" Laura begs. "I've got a headache!"
Steele lifts his hands. "All right. All right."
When they arrive at the loft, Steele slides back the door, and Laura rushes in, loaded for bear. "All right, Veenhoff," she says, then stops. "Mildred?"
"Veenhoff's wanderlust is beginning to annoy me," Steele comments.
Laura wraps her jacket tightly around her. "I'm gonna find that creep and bury him," she declares, leading Steele out of the loft.
Mildred and Veenhoff are in Steele's office. He's examining the pictures of Steele on the wall as Mildred talks on the phone. "What do you mean, Tijuana? . . . What spare parts? . . . No, no, listen to me. I don't care if you've got five thousand stolen cars on your books. I have got to have that Auburn back . . . When? . . .Yesterday was too late!" she hangs up.
"You hungry?" Veenhoff asks.
"How could you think of food at a time like this?" she asks him. "We have killers on our tail and no wheels."
"Yeah, I know, but if I'm gonna die, it might as well be on a full stomach."
"Oh, please, don't whine. You make me wish I was dead." She paces around the office.
"You got something against me or something? You been puttin' me down all day."
"It's your job."
"What about it?"
"It stinks." She sits down.
"Oh, hey, look, Mildred, let me tell you something," Veenhoff says, sitting on the end of the coffee table. "When I was maybe- five, my dad bought me my first camera. It was an old box kinda thing with a great big lens, worn leather case. But I loved that camera. He was an illustrator- my dad. Worked in advertising. And HIS father- was a sculptor. Well, mostly he was a farmer. But he loved to sculpt the ice in the wintertime."
"What about your mother?"
"She believed in me. I wouldn't be doing this boudoir stuff if I could sell my serious pictures, Mildred," he tells her. "You don't believe me, do you?"
She smiles at last. "Maybe I could make us a pot of coffee."
"Could tide us over. Maybe a cookie?" he asks.
She turns and points a finger at him. "You go too far."
At Veenhoff's Studio, Steele and Laura enter, look around. "Let's call it a night, shall we?" Steele suggested. "Pick up the scent in the morning?" They turn around, only to stop at the sound of a gun being cocked. They turn back to find the man who attacked Steele with the golf club, standing there with a gun. "You're becoming a regular fixture around here, aren't you?" Steele asks.
Laura looks surprised. "You know him?"
"Passing acquaintance," Steele tells her.
"I can't afford to be a nice guy anymore, Veenhoff. I want those files."
"He isn't Veenhoff," Laura tries to tell him.
"Uh-huh," the man says in disbelief.
Colby appears in the window behind the man. "I think before you start anything," Steele warns, pointing, "that I should tell you that there is an FBI agent right behind you."
"You know him too?" Laura asks, totally confused now.
The man looks around, sees Colby. The two men start shooting at each other. Steele and Laura duck. Colby chases the man out of the building. Laura gets up, but Steele remains seated on the floor.
"How do you know that guy?" Laura asks him, talking about Colby.
"Uh, he came to the office this morning," Steele confesses.
"The FBI came to our office and you didn't tell me?!" Steele nods. "You came down here to this studio and didn't tell me?!"
"I would have, but I was too busy trying to figure out what it was that YOU weren't tell ME!" Steele yells back.
"You knew that picture was in that magazine all along, didn't you, you- you- "
"Sly devil?" Steele suggests.
"PERVERT!" Laura finishes.
"Pervert?!" Steele repeats. "Your picture appears in a porno magazine and I'M the pervert?"
"It isn't MY picture!" Laura insists, then groans and leaves him on the floor.
Steele sits there, crosses his legs, thoughtful.
Outside, Colby gets the license number of the golf club man's car, and then goes to a pay phone. "Yeah. Forget Veenhoff. I found HIM."
Mildred and Veenhoff are having some coffee when they hear Laura. "Mildred!?"
Mildred meets them at the door. "Oh, Miss Holt. Thank God you're here. You know those FBI agents, Boss?"
"They're as phony as three dollar bills."
Laura slaps Veenhoff's shoulder as he sits in the chair. "I've got just two words for you: Bedside Babes." Veenhoff looks uncertain. "I have never felt more humiliated. More ashamed," she grabs his shirt and shakes him, "or more violated in my life! Whatever possessed you to put my face on that picture?!"
"I needed the money," Veenhoff admits.
"YOU NEEDED THE MONEY?!!!" Laura repeats.
"Yeah, well, you know, you see, I had this great deal going with a magazine in Ohio. They buy my pictures, no questions asked. I never dreamed anybody'd find out, you know what I'm saying? I'm talking OHIO! Anyway, I had this great shot of a gal who's got the body of Venus de Milo, unfortunately, she's got the face of Buster Keaton."
Steele grins and chuckles, until Laura looks at him. "So, you did a little darkroom magic, and you put Miss Holt's face on another woman's body."
"You got it. It's called digital retouching, it is the latest thing. You should SEE the shots I've got of UFOs flying through San Francisco."
Laura has heard enough. "All right, Veenhoff, let's start at the beginning. Aside from Ford Stevens, did anyone else threaten you for your files?"
"You mean, besides my client's husbands?" he asks her. Disgusted, Laura turns and walks away. "Jealousy. Mr. Steele, jealousy is an epidemic in this country. An epidemic! I mean, most of these guys love the pictures of their wives. But then, it occurs to them, somebody had to take these pictures. Now they freak out. One guy actually threatened to bash my head in with a golf club."
Steele's interested. "What did he look like?"
"I don't know. I talked to him on the phone."
Laura puts a hand on Steele's shoulder. "Then man at the studio?"
"Possibly, possibly," Steele agrees. "Uh, anyone else?"
"Well, those two guys that said they were talent agents."
"He means those FBI guys," Mildred clarifies. "They offered him twenty grand for his files."
"And?" Laura asks.
"Are you kiddin'? I jumped at it. But before I could get anything together- my filing system is not exactly up to date- guys started pouring out of the woodwork. I realized, hey, I'm not gonna get a chance to spend my twenty-thousand bucks, so when you suggested maybe I should hole up until you get things straightened out, I jumped at that, too."
"What's in those files that make them so valuable?" Mildred asks.
"I don't know. Name, addresses, maybe negatives."
"How many other pictures did you sell to 'Bedside Babes'?" Laura asks.
"I don't know. A couple, maybe."
Laura goes over to the desk and picks up the magazine. She hands it to Veenhoff. "WHICH couple?"
"Theory, Miss Holt?" Steele asks, as Veenhoff flips through the book.
"The common denominator here seems to be that magazine. The phony FBI came looking for ME, to get to Veenhoff, to get to somebody whose picture is in that magazine."
Mildred frowns. "Yeah, but who?"
"Her," Veenhoff tells Laura, handing her the magazine.
"Do you remember her name?" Laura asks, handing the magazine to Mildred, who holds it for Steele to look at before quickly closing it.
"No. Betcha it's in my files, though."
"Well, let's just hope we can get to them before they do," Laura says, grabbing him. "Now come on."
Steele follows them, first grabbing the magazine, then handing it back to Mildred. She glances at a picture, then drops it on the table, disgusted, and sits down.
At a convenience store, Rhodes waits in the car as Colby talks on a payphone. "You're the one with the connections, Sal. Use them to trace the license number. And Sal, make it snappy. He knows we're onto him." He hangs up and goes to the car. "Want anything?"
Rhodes takes the ice bag from his head. "Yeah. Get me a ham and cheese. No mayo and a little mustard. See if they can warm it up for me."
At Veenhoff's Laura and Steele are going through the files, which are in reality scattered around the office willy-nilly. "I thought you said you knew where everything was," Laura says, frowning.
"I do. It's right here. If the prices ever go down, I'd like to put all of this on a computer someday."
"I pity the computer," Laura tells him.
"Aha," Steele says, holding a photo. "Bingo."
Veenhoff looks at it. "Hey, that's her."
"Who is she?" Laura asks, as we see the photo of a sexy red head wearing a black negligee.
"Eileen Fitzgerald," Steele tells her, reading from the paper that was with it. "Care of Castle Rock, 12312 Victory Blvd."
"Castle Rock?" Laura questions.
"Oh, yeah. A miniature golf course out in the valley," Veenhoff tells them. "Now I remember her."
"Home address?" Laura asks.
Steele looks for more. "Nope."
"Well, we'll see if Mildred can dig one up," Laura says. She glares at Veenhoff, then she and Steele go up the stairs.
Veenhoff surveys the area. "Leave a mess," he complains, then follows them as well.
Mildred is at her computer, doing a data bank search for Eileen Fitzgerald. "Not available, not available, not available," she tells them.
"She's got less of a past than Mr. Steele," Laura frets.
"Laura, where's the Agency's gun?" Steele asks.
"In the drawer, I think," she tells him.
Steele looks in the credenza beside Mildred, where Laura is standing, then moves past her. "Excuse me." He opens a drawer and pulls out some pictures that are there.
"What kind of a person has no drivers' license, no social security number, no birth certificate, no record of their existence whatsoever?" Laura asks.
Steele turns. "Hide in Plain Sight," he says.
"A murderer," Mildred suggests.
"A bigamist," Laura says.
"Embezzler," Veenhoff submits.
"We could be looking for anyone," Laura sighs.
"Yeah, but WHO?" Mildred asks.
"James Caan, Jill Eikenberry," Steele continues his thought.
Mildred turns to look at him. "Who?"
"United Artists 1979. Caan's ex-wife was married to a two bit felon who testified against the mob. The FBI gave them a new identity, the whole family disappears. Much like our gun, actually."
Laura goes to Mildred. "Don't quote me, Mildred, but he may be onto something. See what you can dig up on the Federal Witness Protection Program."
Mildred returns to her computer and Laura goes to join Steele.
A seedy looking man in a trench coat comes to the doors and looks around before entering. "Some- uh, somebody hire a P.I.?" he asks.
Mildred turns and shushes him, finds something on her desk.
"Found the bullets!" Steele calls out.
"Found the gun!" Laura tells them, as they both return to the reception area.
Mildred tells the man, "And I've found that the best place to go with a problem like yours is the police," and leads him toward the doors, a Polaroid photo in her hand.
Steele is loading the gun. "Maybe somebody at Castle Rock can give us a line on Eileen Fitzgerald," Laura says.
Veenhoff comes up to Steele. "Hey, Hide In Plain Sight, that was brilliant, Mr. Steele."
"Not brilliant, really. A bit dull, actually. Not a bad idea, though, eh?" he asks, smiling as he follows Laura.
At the elevators, Mildred tells the man, "It's a 1936 Supercharged Speedster." She gives him the picture. "License plate Auburn 1."
"So, why do you want me to find it? You're a P.I. firm."
"Yeah, but we're a big P.I. firm. Stolen cars are small potatoes," she says as the elevator opens behind her. "You got twenty four hours," she tells him as the doors start to close.
"Hold the elevator," Laura calls out.
The P.I. pushes the button to wait for them, to Mildred's chagrin.
"Keep an eye on Veenhoff, Mildred," Laura says as they pass her.
The man gives them both the eye, making Steele and Laura more than a little nervous.
The payphone is ringing, and Colby, cup of coffee in hand, rushes to answer. "Yeah? . . . What's that? . . . Miniature golf? Are you sure? . . . Okay." He digs out a pad and pen. "What's the address? . . . Yeah . . . Okay. Thanks." He hangs up the phone.
The golf club man joins Eileen Fitzgerald at the top of Castle Rock overlooking the miniature golf course. "What time is it?" she asks nervously.
"We got about five minutes," he tells her, giving her a hug.
"It's ironic. All this trouble to hide from them, and we turn up right under their noses."
"You didn't know Veenhoff was gonna sell your picture to that magazine," he tells her.
"No, I've been through this a hundred times, Michael. I never should have had those pictures taken."
"Eileen, regardless of what's happened, those pictures are the best birthday present you've ever given me."
"Oh, Michael, if I hadn't testified, none of this would have happened to you, and-"
"Hey, you're my wife. I love you. We're in this together. It could be worse. We could be at your mother's," he teases.
An armored car arrives, honking its horn. Eileen looks nervous. "All right, it's business as usual," Michael tells her. "We get the money, we sign for it, just like we do every week. As soon as they're gone, we're out of here."
"Where to?" she asks.
"As far as we can get on five thousand dollars in change."
"We could call the number."
"No. No, it would just be the same thing all over again. New name, new town, new job. No. From now on, we're on our own."
They go down to greet the courier and accept the money.
The Ford tears along the street, as does the Rabbit, en route to Castle Rock.
Michael signs for the money, and the armored car leaves. As they're walking back to the building, they see Colby and Rhodes jump the fence, guns drawn. Michael and Eileen turn toward the gate, where the Rabbit has just parked. Seeing Steele and Laura, the couple takes off in the other direction.
Laura and Steele test the gate, but can't get it open. Colby and Rhodes chase the Fitzgeralds as Laura and Steele scale a chain link fence. Colby takes a shot at Steele and Laura to slow them down, then follows his partner and the couple. Steele pulls the Agency gun and fires three shots at Colby before the gun misfires. He's pinned down, and Laura notices a bucket of balls and a putter laying nearby.
Colby's gun misfires as well, giving Laura the chance to get to the balls. She sets up a shot and hits Colby in the head, startling him, and sending him into a waterfall, giving Steele the chance to get away.
Colby stumbles into another pool, and Steele follows, grabbing him and knocking him unconscious. As he's dragging Colby to the side, he hears Rhodes take a shot at the Fitzgeralds, hitting Michael in the leg.
They stop on the grass, watching as Rhodes approaches them, closing in for the kill. He never sees Laura appear, putter in hand. She hits his arm, knocking the gun out of his hand. Laura grabs the gun and joins the Fitzgeralds, holding the gun on Rhodes as Steele rushes up behind him and hits him with clasped hands, sending him to the ground.
Laura looks impressed.
Veenhoff is sitting in his vintage car, talking to Steele and Mildred. "Look, if there's anything I can make it up to you-"
"It's not me you're in the doghouse with, mate."
"Put it drive and pray you never cross her path again," Steele suggests.
"Okay, take care."
"You know, boss, I didn't do bad on this one," Mildred says as they walk across the parking lot.
"You have a keen nose for fraud, Mildred," Steele agrees. "Always a good asset."
"Does that mean you're proud of me?"
"Well, if it hadn't been for your persistent shuffling of Veenhoff from place to place, the phony FBI would have grabbed him, and the poor old Fitzgeralds would be dead ducks." He stops, mouth open as the P.I. pulls up in a flatbed truck. The Auburn is in pieces on the back.
"Found your car," the man tells Mildred.
Steele looks at her. She looks contrite. "Speaking of dead ducks," she says, biting her lip.
That night, Steele and Laura are sitting before the fire in his apartment, tossing a stack of copies of "Bedside Babes" into the flames, one at a time. "I suppose you're wondering why I went to Veenhoff in the first place," Laura says.
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"It all started innocently enough. I needed a portrait for the alumni journal, and-"
"Of course you did," Steele agrees.
"You see, that's what I mean. That's exactly why I didn't come to you about this in the first place. I needed a portrait. He took a portrait. I didn't know anything about Veenhoff's boudoir business until he came to me with this problem."
Steele smiles, glances at the picture in the magazine. "The alumni journal, eh?" he asks.
"Oh, the alumni are gonna be delighted with this, aren't they?"
Laura watches him for a moment, then grabs the magazine from him to toss it into the fire. Then she throws herself into his arms, kissing him, laying on top of him.