* 1956 *
The room is filled with the music and song from the TV as the man steps over the now dead body of the blonde and leaves the room, passing the TV.
"Everybody gotta' dance; Rock, Rock, Rock; Roll, Roll, Roll; That Chantalula rock and ro-o-oll."
* 1986 *
We see a tape of the singer finishing up that very song as Mildred taps her foot and dances slightly to the upbeat tune. She, Steele, Laura, a blonde man and a red haired woman are standing watching the tape in Steele's office.
As it ends, they all applaud, and Mildred sighs, "What a set of pipes! You should have heard her sing "Where Or When."
"Really?" Steele questions.
Laura is surprised. "Mildred. You're familiar with this."
"With Billie Young? You bet! Back before she did "ShowTime Cavalcade," Herbert used to take me to the Club Oasis and we'd hear her sing. "Where Oh When" was our song," she recalls fondly.
Steele looks confused. "Wait a minute, I thought your husband's name was Walter."
"It was," Mildred confirms. "You think that shlub would take me dancing? Ha, ha, ha, no. This was before Walter," she explains, laughing. She turns toward the door to the reception area.
The blonde man, whose name is Kyle, asks, "Why didn't you marry Herbert?"
Pausing the doorway, Mildred looks back and says, "He was a little light in the loafers." She leaves.
"Ah, yes. Well the woman was certainly talented," Steele agrees. "What happened to her?
"A good question." Kyle says.
Windsor, the red haired woman, says, "We'd like you to find her." They all move to the conference area. Laura sits in the chair, Kyle on the table next to her. Windsor shares the sofa with Steele.
"Ah." Steele nods.
"Why?" Laura wants to know.
Kyle gives her a disappointed look. "You haven't been following our promotional campaign?"
Windsor explains, "Kyle and I are hosting TV reunion week. LA Spotlight is gathering the casts from some classic fifties TV shows, like Showtime Cavalcade."
"And you can't locate Billie Young," Steele guesses.
Windsor smiles at him. "Mister Steele, you certainly cut right to the heart of the matter."
Steele preens a bit under her attentive, attractive gaze. "Well, Miss Thomas, um "
"Windsor, that's all part of the investigative game, you know, to, um, penetrate, to probe ha ha.-" he says in a suggestive tone.
"So you'll find her," Kyle says.
"Oh yes," Steele assures them. "Just a matter of hours. Hmm."
"Super. How?" Kyle wants to know.
"Yes, Remington, how?" Windsor asks breathlessly. "I'm fascinated."
Steele looks uncertain as he tries to think. "Yes, yes, how? How indeed? Um "
"Skip trace," Laura tells him under her breath, clearly unhappy with Windsor's attitude- and Steele's.
Steele points to Laura. "Precisely."
"What's that?" Windsor asks.
"Miss Holt, why don't you explain the intricacies of skip trace to Windsor, eh?"
Windsor's eyes widen. "I *am* impressed. Not many men are willing to admit that a woman with looks can have brains, too. Miss Holt, you are lucky to have a boss like him."
"Isn't she, heh?" Steele agrees.
Laura smiles sweetly. "Yes, a regular Phil Donahue," she agrees. Hearing her tone of voice, Steele's smile fades a bit. "Skip trace is a systematic method we use for finding people. One begins with the most obvious sources."
"Such as " Windsor prompts.
"Phone listings Mildred?"
"Bubkiss," Mildred tells her. "Service disconnected in 1956."
"DMV?" Steele asks.
"License expired, 1956," Laura tells him.
"Screen Actors Guild?" Laura asks.
Steele tells her, "Membership dropped, '56."
"Legal records?" Mildred questions.
"No marriage. No name change." Laura says.
"No death certificate," Steele adds.
Laura is puzzled by the mystery. "It's as if the woman disappeared from the face of the earth thirty years ago."
Mildred looks out of Steele's office to see Windsor, Kyle, and a man with a news camera entering the reception area. "Un-oh!" she says in warning.
"What?" Steele asks.
Mildred nods toward the doors. "Company."
Frowning, Steele sees what she's talking about. "Oh."
Laura tells Steele, "Great! Mister Steele, I'll let you explain to Barbara Walters out there just how far we've gotten."
Steele is reluctant. "Oh, now Laura, this is your agency "
"Go!" Laura orders.
"Oh boy." He goes out, clearing his throat. "um Hi, how are you doing, Kyle? Hello again Windsor."
"Sorry we're late;" Windsor apologizes. "Our remote segment ran a little longer than we had planned."
"Nude sky diving," Kyle explains, shaking his head. "Tough to cover."
Mildred chuckles. "I'll bet!"
Windsor turns her attention to Steele. "So where do we find Billie Young?"
When Steele hesitates, Laura begins to explain. "Actually "
Steele jumps in, stopping her. "Well, Windsor, uh, this trace skip uh-"
"Skip trace," Laura corrects through clenched teeth.
Steele gives her a little look as he continues, "Has taken a little longer than expected. You see, I've allowed Miss Holt to lead this investigation as part of her ongoing apprenticeship."
Windsor sighs up at him. "You *are* a marvel."
Steele smiles at her praise. "Ah."
"A real prize!" Laura agrees, smiling dangerously.
Steele gives her a nervous look as he confides, "It's been it's been a struggle to stop from hurrying things along myself, but how else is she going to learn, Hmm?"
Kyle looks at Laura. "Well, Miss Holt, have you found out anything yet?"
"The trail goes ice cold immediately after Billie's last television appearance in 1956. She seems to have - covered her tracks."
"Covered her tracks? You mean she deliberately disappeared?" Windsor asks, fascinated.
"It's possible," Laura confirms. "Our preliminary check shows she simply- vanished."
Windsor paces across the room, thoughtful, then says, "It's terrific. It's great!"
Mildred is surprised. "It is?"
Windsor spreads her hands as if seeing a headline. "Tonight on LA Spotlight: beauty, talent, she had it all. What happened to Billie Young?"
"Sex and drugs," Kyle adds.
Windsor is excited by the idea. "Another of Hollywood's unsolved mysteries. Why, it'll be bigger than the reunion itself. Mr. Steele, may we follow your investigation? Watch a crack detective grapple with a thirty-year-old puzzle?"
Steele pretends embarrassment as he begins to straighten his tie and jacket. "Ah yes, I suppose that would be a thrill for the viewers, to take them inside deductive process, to observe how the "
Laura speaks up. "Mr. Steele, I don't mean to be a wet blanket, but what if we can't find Billie Young?"
Windsor refuses to be put off. "Well, it's still a great story, maybe even better."
"Like the Loch Ness monster," Kyle says.
Steele looks at him. "Well put, Kyle. Huh."
Windsor takes the microphone from the cameraman. "And it's still great publicity for all of us. Start rolling, Dennis. I want to get this on the show tonight."
Laura makes a last ditch to stop this. "Mr. Steele."
Steele heads for his office. "I'm just going to go get my jacket. Won't be a minute."
Windsor's next words stop Steele in mid-stride. "Wait a minute. Dennis, focus on Laura."
Laura is surprised. "Me?"
Windsor's finally figured out who she needs on her side to get what she wants. "Why sure. You're in charge on this one, right? "Female detective leads search for actress.'' There's our angle." Steele looks at Laura, and then joins Mildred at the desk to watch what's going on.
But Laura isn't sure. "Windsor, I really don't, uh "
"How does she look?" Windsor asks Dennis as he points the camera at Laura.
"The camera loves her!" Dennis declares.
"Windsor, I don't uh think we should do this, you see, Mister Steele and I " She stops as she realizes what Dennis has said. "What do you mean the camera loves me?" she asks, smiling nervously.
Kyle beams at her. "You don't have a bad angle," he explains.
"Right," Dennis confirms, "but next time, don't wear white - or narrow stripes, it looks bad on camera."
Laura smiles and nods as Windsor joins her in the shot. "Dennis." She clears her throat. "This is LA Spotlight, talking with Laura Holt, detective partner of Remington Steele. Laura, what, ah, do you plan to do to solve the thirty-year-old mystery of Billie Young?"
Laura tries not to stare at the camera as she answers. "I plan to solve it quickly, I hope." She laughs. Steele looks put out, and Mildred notices, looking at him. He straightens slightly. "No, seriously, Windsor, there aren't any shortcuts in this kind of work. We have to use good old reliable shoe leather."
"I'll bet you do. Tough job, for a tough woman. Tell us, what's your next move?"
"We'll question anyone who knew Billie Young," Laura tells Windsor as we see the two women on a television set. And elderly man is smoking a cigarette, holding a newspaper as he listens to her speak. "Old friends, contacts, acquaintances, people she worked with. If Billie Young is out there, Remington Steele Investigations will find her," Laura promises.
The man gets up, tossing the paper aside. He goes to a cabinet as Windsor says, "We're counting on it, Laura. If anyone watching has information regarding the whereabouts of Billie Young," she continues as the man takes a box from the cabinet, "please contact LA Spotlight, at 555-4321."
The man unlocks the box and takes something out as Kyle says, "That's all for tonight's LA Spotlight. Join Windsor and I tomorrow when we check out the latest fitness craze to sweep the Southland." The man removes a gun from the box and checks to see that it's loaded before putting it into his belt. He pulls his sweater over the gun to hide it and leaves.
We see an old photograph of Billie Young sitting on a table as Laura says, "Thank you for calling us, Miss Vance."
"She was such a lovely girl," Miss Vance says as we read the inscription on the photo. "There were never such devoted sisters, All my love, Billie." "Don't you think so?" Miss Vance asks, indicating the photo.
"Now that's an usual inscription," Laura notes. "You and Billie weren't sisters, were you?"
Miss Vance, a thin, sharp featured woman with white hair is sitting at a piano. Laura and Steele are close by. "Oh, that's our song. Our signature on the show. Oh, the audience *loved* it," she declares, obviously lost in her memories. She begins to sing. "Sisters, Sister, there were never such devoted sisters-" she stops, as if she's listening to someone else sing another part of the song.
Laura looks at her. "Patsy?"
Patsy begins to sing again. "And Lord help the sister, that comes between me and my man!" She laughs, delighted to have an audience again.
Steele applauds her performance, as Laura smiles tightly. "Bravo, bravo," he says. "Uh, Patsy, on the telephone, you told us where we could find Billie."
"I didn't say that," Patsy corrects. "I said I knew Billie very well."
"Oh." Seeing a dead end, Steele looks at Laura.
"Patsy, do you know where Billie is?"
"No," Patsy tells her.
"Mr. Steele, I don't think we need to waste anymore of Miss Vance's time," she says, as they move toward the door.
Patsy rises from the piano. "But I know why Billie disappeared," she tells them, moving toward them as they stop. "Sally Benson."
"Uh," Steele asks, "Who's Sally Benson?"
"Young actress, under contract at Metro," she explains, opening a drawer in a table to pull out a photo of Sally Benson. "She did a few pictures. Let's see, there was-"
"What was her connection to Billie?" Laura asks impatiently.
"Oh, Sally and Billie were best friends. They roomed together." Patsy returns the photo to the drawer and turns away. "Tragic," she comments.
Laura looks at Steele, curious. "Tragic?" Steele questions. "Why is that?"
"Sally killed herself," Patsy tells them. "Poor Billie was shattered." She sits on the sofa. "She decided to leave Hollywood and never come back. I told her she was making a mistake, but- she left. Lou- he tried to find her. Even sent a detective after her."
"Lou?" Steele asks.
"Lou Mackler. Billie's agent."
"Ah," Steele says.
"Lou Mackler?" Laura asks. "The head of Baxter Broadcasting Group?"
Patsy nods. "He was an agent then. He lost a valuable property when Billie left. She could have gone places." She sighs. "He never found her."
Laura is thoughtful. "Thank you very much, Patsy," Steele says. "You've been very helpful and very gracious indeed. Uh-" he steers Laura toward the door.
"Please," Patsy says, getting up to stop them. "I've got coffee on. And cookies."
"No, thanks," Laura says, and they start toward the door once again.
And once again, Patsy stops them. "I just thought of someone else you might talk to."
"Hmm?" Steele says.
"Tom Hogan. Billie's make-up man."
Steele smiles as Laura asks, "What would he know?"
"Billie and Tom were very close. If she stayed in touch with anyone, I'll bet it would be him."
Steele nods in agreement. "May I use your phone?" Laura asks Patsy.
"There's one out there," Patsy tells her, pointing toward the entry way.
Steele looks at Patsy as Laura leaves the room. "I was right, wasn't I?" Patsy asks Steele.
"Right?" Steele asks as Patsy returns to the piano and the photograph.
"Billie should have stayed here. People- don't forget a star," she tells Steele as he bends close to her at the piano, looking at the photo as well.
"No," Steele agrees, and looks at her. "People don't forget a star, Patsy."
The woman smiles, grateful for his attention.
In the car, Laura tells Steele, "We'll hit Tom Hogan now, get to Lou Mackler tomorrow."
"Sunset Boulevard," Steele says suddenly.
"Hogan lives on Beachwood Drive," Laura says.
"Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Paramount 1950. That's what this case reminds me of. Trapped with 30-year-old ghosts. It's-" he shrugs, "Well, it's just creepy."
"Is that really what's bothering you?" Laura asks him.
"Ah, what else?"
"I dunno. The fact that someone else is enjoying the spotlight for once?"
"Are you implying that I'm jealous?"
"Ho ho, no no no, not at all, no. I'm delighted. I'm rather weary of dealing with the media, Laura. I appreciate the break."
"Funny. I didn't get that impression when Windsor was fawning all over you."
"Oh, were we, uh, talking about jealousy?" They both smile.
A hand lifts a window curtain to see Laura and Steele approaching the building on foot.
As Laura and Steele approach the building, a man comes out, wearing an overcoat and fedora. It's the man who got the gun earlier. He stops for a second, watching as Steele and Laura enter.
Laura and Steele reach Hogan's apartment. "This should be it," she says, knocking on the door. When there's no answer, she glances at her watch. "That's odd, he said he'd be here."
Steele bends to inspect the lock on the door. There are scratch marks, as if it was recently picked- and clumsily at that. "I'd say we weren't the only ones who wanted to see Mr. Hogan," he tells her, pointing out the lock. Laura bends to look. "Pick marks." He turns the door knob, and frowns as the door opens.
The room is dark, and Laura calls, "Mr. Hogan?" Then reaches into the room to find a light switch. They step into the room as she finds it.
Tom Hogan is lying on the floor. The room has clearly been searched. As Steele kneels over the body, checking for a pulse, we see that there's a bullet wound on Tom's chest. Laura steps around things, looking around. Steele looks at some envelopes on the floor next to him.
Laura's doing the same, but on a desk nearby. She picks up the telephone, and finds an addressbook. Picking it up, she slips it into her purse as Windsor, Kyle, and Dennis arrive.
Seeing the body, Windsor says, "Oh my God." Steele stands up. "Dennis, start rolling," Windsor orders.
Steele frowns. "What? Who invited them?" he asks Laura as she joins him, closing her purse to look at the body.
Kyle looks sick and turns away from the grisly scene as Dennis gets closer to the body for a shot. Laura looks up at Steele.
On TV, we see Tom Hogan's lifeless body being covered by a sheet as Windsor says, "The thirty year old mystery of actress Billie Young took a grotesque turn this evening, when private investigator Laura Holt discovered Billie's former makeup man brutally murdered in his Hollywood apartment." In the background, we see Steele glance over at Laura and Windsor as he consults with the police on the scene. "Laura, in your own words, tell us what happened."
"Well, Windsor, as you know, we've been following all the leads we can," Laura says. She's watching herself on TV in Steele's apartment. "Actress Patsy Vance, one of Billie Young's former colleagues, told me-" on the tape, she glances around as Steele looks at her. "Uh, told- Mr. Steele and me, actually, that we should look up Tom Hogan, her former make-up man." Steele stands by the TV, listening, his hands stuffed into his pants pockets. "Well," Laura continues, "not wanting to waste any time, we came right over here, only to find that, uh, someone had beaten us to him. With- fatal results, as you-"
Steele turns off the TV, and Laura protests. "Hey!"
"You called Windsor from Patsy's and told her to meet us," he says. "Hmm?"
"Yes," she admits shifting in her chair. "I thought Tom Hogan would make a colorful interview."
"Instead, you and Windsor make a circus act out of Hogan's murder," Steele tells her.
Laura rises from the chair to face him, angry. "I didn't know Hogan was dead, and we did not make a circus out of it. It's a legitimate news story." She crosses her arms. "You really don't like me getting the attention, do you?" she challenges.
"I don't like the fact that in the morning you go on television broadcasting our case, and in the evening one of our leads turns up dead."
"Are you implying that *I* somehow am responsible for that?" Laura asks.
"No, but- under the circumstances-" he says, but Laura is furious.
"I don't believe you. For four years, you've been getting fabulous press because of me, and now I get one break, and you feel threatened!"
"That's not the point. The point is, Laura-"
"Look, I don't want to talk about it. I'll see you tomorrow." She grabs her purse and heads toward the door.
"Okay," Steele says, giving up. He sighs deeply in frustration once she's gone.
Windsor is with her boss, Lou Mackler. "Lou, when you hired me for Spotlight, you knew my heart was in news. Well, this is the closest thing to a news story I've *seen* in two years," she declares, following him back to his desk from the conference table. "Hell, there's even a dead body!"
Lou sits down at his desk. "Um hmm. And what about Spotlight?"
"Kyle can do it. Fluff's his forte."
Lou laughs. "Kyle's a boob. And you know it."
"Come on, Lou, one chance. Let me prove I can do a story where all the people keep their clothes on."
Lou thinks. "All right." He holds up a finger. "*One* chance. Blow it, I don't wanna hear anymore about you switching to news."
Windsor smiles, delighted. "You got it. I'll stick to
Steele and Holt like Mike Wallace to a sweating
politician. When they find Billie Young, I'll be there," she promises, moving toward the door.
Windsor opens the door and is surprised to find Laura and Steele on the other side. Laura's wearing a blue pantsuit. "Ah. Windsor," Steele says with a smile.
"Remington. Laura," Windsor says, smiling too. "Did you find her?"
"We were hoping that Mr. Mackler could help us," Laura tells her. "Did you know he was Billie's agent?"
"Well of course. That's one of the reasons he went for this TV Reunion idea. He wants to find out what happened to her. But- Lou told me he didn't have a clue where she was. That's why I didn't mention it to you."
Steele scratches his ear. "We thought he might be of some help," he tells her.
"Well, that's terrific," Windsor says, going past them. "Listen, I've *got* to run, but, I'll catch up with you later, okay? Oh, and Laura, it's a great color. You'll look fabulous on camera."
Laura laughs as Steele stands by, smiling, tongue in his cheek. "Thanks," Laura says.
Lou greets them with a smile. "Hi. Lou Mackler. Please, come in. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Steele."
"And your industrious associate. Uh, sit down," he offers, pointing to a sofa as he takes the matching chair. "Miss Holt, you're even lovelier in person than you are on camera."
Laura smiles, embarrassed. "Thank you."
"I overheard Windsor tell you that I *don't* know where Billie went, so how may I be of service?" he asks.
Steele listens as Laura asks, "We understand you hired a private investigator to find Billie Young thirty years ago."
"Ah, that's right. Yes. There were some contracts, and payments, and, and-" he sighs with regret. "Oh. There was something about Billie," he recalls. "Not just talent. A lot of people have talent. But she had something- *special*. Something-" he clears his throat. "Anyway, uh, he never found her."
"Do you happen to remember his name?" Laura asks. Steele looks thoughtful.
"As a matter of fact, I do," he says with a laugh. "Always reminded me of a character in a Raymond Chandler novel. Slater. Jake Slater."
"Thank you, Mr. Mackler," Laura says, standing. "That may help."
"Good," Lou says, rising as well. Steele stands, looking at Laura as she leaves the office.
"Thank you very much, sir," Steele says, shaking Lou's hand.
"Yes, of course," Lou says.
"Good day." He stops and turns back to Lou. "Mr. Mackler, um, how does one go from being an agent to running the Baxter Broadcasting Group?"
Lou spreads his hands as if the answer is obvious. "By marrying Pauline Baxter," he explains, and laughs.
Steele laughs as well, tapping the side of his nose as he turns to catch up with Laura.
"Good hunting," Lou calls after him.
The man who was watching Laura on television, then passed she and Steele on their way to Tom Hogan is putting something into a blazing fire that's burning in the fireplace of his house. He wipes his hand, frowning as the doorbell rings.
Grabbing his gun from the table, he stuffs it into his slacks, then puts on a heavy sweater as the doorbell rings again. We see a photograph of Sally Benson and Billie Young being devoured by the flames as the man goes to the door.
He opens the door as Laura reaches to ring it again. "It ain't broken," he informs them in a gruff tone through the screen door.
"Uh, Jake Slater?" Steele questions.
"Uh, Remington Steele." He tries to peer through the screen. "This is my associate, Laura Holt."
"Not interested," Slater tells them, and starts to close the door.
But Laura calls out, "Mr. Slater, this is very important."
He opens the door again. "Why?"
"It concerns an old case of yours. May we come in?" Laura asks.
Slater considers the request, then steps back. "Okay."
Laura opens the screen door and Steele follows her into the house. As Slater closes the door, Laura and Steele exchange a confused look. In the over-heated living room, Steele unbuttons his jacket.
"Java?" Slater offers shortly as he moves past them toward the fire.
Steele smiles. "I don't suppose you have any iced tea?" he asks.
"Sissy drink," Slater declares.
"I'll take that as a no," Steele says.
Slater goes to the hearth. "Warm day for a fire," Laura notes.
Slater stretches his back. "Arthritis," he lies. "Uh, let me turn down the fire a bit," he says. Steele nods, removing his jacket as Slater bends to adjust the gas jet. "I'm an old man. I chill easy," he tells them, mopping his brow with a handkerchief.
"We understand," Laura says.
"You, uh, said something about an old case of mine?"
"Thirty years ago you were hired to find a singer by the name of Billie Young," Laura reminds him.
Slater looks thoughtful. "Billie Young," he repeats, looking into the mirror over the mantle, then down at the fire, where the photo of Billie and Sally isn't quite burned. He pushes it farther into the fire with his shoe. "Billie Young. Yes, that's right. Billie Young, the actress." He turns back to look at Laura. "Has it been that long? Never found her."
"We've been hired to try again," Laura tells him. "Would it be alright if we took a look through your case files?"
"Can't. Dumped 'em when I retired," Slater says.
"Do you remember anything about the case?" Steele questions. "Uh, did you interview a-uh- a Tom Hogan? He was her makeup man."
"He knew Billie?"
"Yes," Steele confirms.
"Then I talked to him. I was good." He moves closer. "Listen, let me save you some time. If I couldn't find her thirty years ago, you're not gonna find her now. Drop the case."
Steele puts his coat back on. "Yes, well, thanks for your time, anyway, Jake," he says. "We'll see ourselves out. Don't worry about it," he adds, moving toward the door as Laura turns a bit more slowly to follow him. "Good day," he says, then knocks Jake's fedora to the floor from the room divider with his coat. He bends to pick it up and puts it back. "Sorry." Laura gives Jake a smile as they leave the house.
Jake glares at the door, then looks at the fire.
Outside, Steele fans himself with his coat. "Woo! Crusty old codger, eh?" he asks. Laura steps off the porch to head for the Auburn, waving her arms as well. "It's like a Turkish bath in there," Steele declares.
"Might be you one day," Laura says with a smile, then realizes that he's still on the porch. "What is it?" she asks.
Steele shakes his head. "I have the disturbing feeling I've seen Slater somewhere before," he tells her, "Hold on a sec," then turns back to the door. He stands there, hand to his mouth, thinking, as Jake watches him through the peephole.
Finally Steele gives up. "No. No, no. Can't place him," he decides, and joins Laura. "Can't place him. It's okay. It's all right."
They get into the Auburn.
At the office, Mildred is telling Dennis, "Listen, buster, get that thing outa my face, or it's gonna end up in so many pieces that all the king's horses and all the king's men ain't gonna be able to put that back together again."
Laura and Steele come in, finding Windsor and Dennis waiting for them. "No comment," Steele tells Windsor, glancing uncomfortably at the camera before leaving Laura standing there on her own.
Windsor joins Laura. "Uh, give me a minute to freshen up," Laura says, and moves away.
Windsor gives Dennis a look of frustration.
Laura passes Steele enroute to her office. Steele heads toward his own door, but Mildred runs over to him. "Boss?"
"Yeah?" he asks, about to open the door.
"We gotta get rid of em," she says. "I think I found something." Dennis is trying to get settled and knocks a flower arrangement over. "Klutz," Mildred declares.
Steele opens his door. "Come on, Mildred." In the office, Mildred pulls the book Laura found out of her pocket. "What is it?" Steele asks.
"Tom Hogan's address book. I found-"
"Where'd you get that?" he asks.
"Miss Holt. She wanted me to check it out for leads," Mildred explains as Steele takes the little black book from her to look at it. "You didn't know about that?"
"No," Steele admits. "Mildred, you realize having this is a criminal offense?"
"Oh, come on, Chief, we do it all the time!" Mildred insists.
"That's not the point, Mildred," Steele tells her. "I'm afraid LA Spotlight has blinded Miss Holt's judgment. I'm the last one she'd believe about that," he sighs.
"You want me to talk to her?" Mildred offers.
"No, I don't think that would be much better," Steele says. "Well, what did you find?" he asks.
She smiles. "I found a listing for Chelsea Nash in Twin Pines."
"Forgive me if I don't uncork the champagne, but *who* is Chelsea Nash?"
"Chelsea Nash is the name of a character that Billie Young played on Showtime Cavalcade," Mildred explains.
Steele smiles. "Mildred, you have just won yourself a free trip to Twin Pines," he tells her, giving her a kiss on the cheek, then turning toward the door. "Oh, you devil you!"
Mildred pulls him to a stop. "Oh, oh, oh! What about Miss Holt and that- red headed bombshell?"
"Leave 'em to me, don't worry," he tells her, stowing the address book in his pocket and then opening the door. "Ah, Miss Holt," he says, breaking in on Windsor's interview with Laura, "as you're leading this investigation, it seems only fair that you should be interviewed in my office."
"Why, that's a great angle," Windsor declares, but Laura looks uncertain as Steele puts a hand to Laura's back and guides them toward his door.
"I think it's a great angle as well," he agrees. "Come on, straight through here. Feel at home, don't worry about thing," Steele tells them, ignoring Laura's attempt to speak. "Don't thank me, Laura. I'm sure Phil Donahue would do the same thing. There you go, make yourself at home," he tells them, closing the door and motioning for Mildred to precede him out of the office.
At Twin Pines, a woman wearing a flannel shirt and toboggan hat is bringing a string of fish up from the lake. She meets Steele and Mildred on the stairs. "Oh. Howdy. Can I help you?" she asks, in a friendly voice.
"I hope so," Steele says. "We're looking for someone."
"Well, folks usually come up here to get lost," she says with a laugh. "Not to be found." Her smile fades as Steele removes his sunglasses. "Uh, who're you looking for?"
"Chelsea Nash," Mildred says. "We're friends of hers."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Chelsea moved. Been gone-" she pauses, thinking, "more than a year, now."
"Are you sure?" Mildred asks, taking an old photo of Billie out of her pocket. "Here's a picture of her."
The woman looks at the photo. "Hard to tell. Old picture," she says with a sad smile. "People change," she tells Mildred, handing it back.
"Did she say where she was going when she left?" Steele asks.
"Mister, folks up here don't pry. I gotta get these cleaned." She moves between them on up the stairs.
"Well," Mildred says, "it was worth a shot." She doesn't notice that Steele is distracted, looking at the boats tied to the wharf below. "Maybe there are other people up here we could talk to," she suggests.
Steele scratches the back of his ear with his sunglasses as he spots a boat with the name "Sisters" painted on the bow. He smiles. "Well I'll be," he mutters and turns to climb a few of the steps as the woman starts into the house. "Hello, Billie," he says.
She turns to look at him, realizing that her cover is blown.
Billie, now wearing a sweater and having removed the toboggan, walks around the woods with Steele and Mildred. "Look, I'm not goin' back. I won't be paraded around like an old relic brought out of mothballs for people to gape at!" she declares.
"Miss Young,-" Steele begins.
"It's Nash now. Chelsea Nash. Look, I'm of legal age. Don't I have a right to disappear without my picture showing up on a milk carton somewhere?"
"Yeah, but people wanna see you," Mildred tells her.
"People don't remember me."
Chelsea takes the picture. "This is who you remember. Everything she was is gone now." She tears the photo up. "I haven't sung a note in thirty years."
"You're certainly entitled to your privacy," Steele concedes, "but your disappearance is more of a mystery than you're aware of, apparently."
"What are you talking about?" Billie asks.
"First of all, we know about Sally Benson."
"You keep Sally out of this. This is none of your business."
"Look," Steele tells her. "We're on your side."
"Oh, sure, sure, just like the agents and the producers."
"We're prepared to turn 'round and go back to Los Angeles and pretend we never found you," Steele assures her.
Billie smiles. "Yeah?" She looks at Mildred. "You too?"
"He's the boss," Mildred says.
"Oh, that's great. Oh, that's great. Because- I'm really happy here. Yeah," she says, as they start walking again. "I lead a quite life. I manage these cabins. Nobody knows I'm Billie Young and nobody cares. I'm Chelsea Nash, and that's the way I like it."
"Well, I guess there's nothing wrong with that," Mildred says.
"I just need to ask you a few questions first," Steele tells Billie. "Deal?"
"Deal. Fire away."
"Uh, Tom Hogan," Steele begins.
Billie smiles broadly. Mildred smiles as well, but uncertainly. "Oh, so *that's* how you found me!" She laughs. "That old fogey! Boy, wait'll I-" she notices the look on Mildred's face, and looks at Steele. "What about Tommy?" she asks him.
"He was killed last night," Steele tells her in a quiet voice.
Billie is stunned. "Someone shot him," Mildred says.
"Oh, Tommy," Billie sighs. "Look, c-could you two scram for a minute?" she asks. "I'd like to walk." She moves away from them.
"Yeah," Steele says, looking at the ground.
Mildred watches her go. "I feel lousy," she says.
"Hm humm," Steele commiserates, looking around. He sees a TV-News truck approaching on the road. "You're about to feel worse," he tells her, pointing to the truck.
"How did they find us?"
"Oh, Miss Holt's doing, no doubt. Grab Fred and have him pull up about a half mile down the road. I'm gonna get Billie and we'll rendezvous. Quick."
"You got it," Mildred agrees, leaving him.
Billie's walking by herself, crying over Tommy's death. Steele comes close. "Billie?" he calls.
Suddenly there's a gunshot and the bullet hits a tree just beside Billie. She and Steele both duck for cover.
"Get down!" Steele tells her, then runs to grabs her. "Come on. Come on, come on," he says quickly, pulling her with him behind a dead tree trunk as they're fired at again. Steele lays on top of Billie. He looks up, and another bullet almost hits him.
"You've got a hell of a sense of timing, Mr. Steele," Billie tells him.
"Shh, shh," he admonishes, then listens before raising up to see Jake Slater disappearing through the woods in his trademark fedora, still wearing the heavy sweater. "Stay here, Billie," he whispers.
"Oh ho, don't worry," she says.
Steele chases Jake, but doesn't catch him. As he turns to rejoin Billie, he finds Jake's fedora in the grass and is looking at it when the limo pulls up.
Mildred lowers the window. "Where's Billie?" she asks.
Steele looks down the road. "Oh. Slight delay. Here, hold this." He hands her the hat. "I'll get her." He grins as he realizes where he's seen Jake.
As the limo drives along the road, with Steele, Mildred and Billie in the back seat, Steele tells Fred, "Excellent work, Fred. Not a sign of them for the last twenty minutes. Almost makes up for the fact that you told Miss Holt where we were. Next time, don't answer the car phone," he orders. Fred nods solemnly.
Billie looks around. "You know, I swore I would never come back here," she tells Steele, who's holding the fedora.
"I'm sorry, but-"
"I know, I know. I need protection," Billie agrees. "Thirty years I lead a quiet life. You show up, all of a sudden I need protection."
"It's just til we get to the bottom of things, Billie," Mildred tells her. "And we get those news hounds off your trail."
Billie nods and looks at Steele. "So, Mr. Detective, why are they trying to use me for target practice?"
Steele looks at the fedora. "Thirty years ago, another detective was sent to find you," he tells her.
"Yeah? Who by?"
"Your agent. Lou Mackler."
Billie laughs. "Probably owed him money."
"The detective's name was Jake Slater."
"Did you know him?" Steele asks.
Billie shakes her head. "No. Guess he wasn't as good as you," she teases, poking him with her elbow and smiling.
"I wonder," Steele muses.
"He was the man trying to kill you today," Steele says, looking at her. Billie looks shocked. "Yep."
In Lou's office, he asks Windsor, "what do you *mean* Steele isn't cooperating? I thought he and Holt worked together?"
Windsor turns from the window to answer. "I don't understand it myself. But Holt told me she'd get in touch just as soon as she had an explanation."
Lou picks up the phone and says into it, "Get me news."
"What are you doing?" Windsor asks.
"You asked for one chance. You had it. Now I'm bringing in the pros."
Windsor pressed the switch hook. "This is *my* story, Lou. I've earned it."
"You're over your head," he tells her.
"But Lou, you don't understand!" Windsor insists. "This story could do for me what Iran did for Ted Koppel!" He stares at her. "I never thought I'd say this, but- *please*."
Lou hesitates, then hangs up. "I wanna know every move you make. This story is too *good* to lose."
She nods and leaves.
Steele is in his office, in shirtsleeves, papers scattered about the conference area. He takes a drink of some coffee as Laura bursts in, furious. "All right, where is she?"
"Mildred?" Steele asks, deliberately misunderstanding her.
"You know damned well who I'm talking about; Fred told me you found her. What do you think you've been doing?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Steele tells her calmly.
"I've been doing a job," Laura insists.
"Yes," he agrees, still looking at the paper in his hand, "a splendid job of self-promotion while our case blows up all around us."
"I *knew* you were jealous, but I had no idea you'd go to such lengths to upstage me."
Remington's temper blows. "A killer is on the loose out there and all you can think about is `Film at eleven'!" he accuses, his voice growing progressively louder.
"That's ridiculous!" Laura insists.
"Is it? I found Billie, all right! Shortly thereafter, someone took a shot at her!" He calms down to muse aloud, "A woman disappears to forget her past. Thirty years later, a slick Los Angeles detective finds her, shatters her privacy," he stands up and paces toward the desk as he continues, "tells her that one of her oldest, dearest friends has been murdered, and then exposes her to the killer as well. That makes me feel really warm all over."
"Hogan was likely killed to keep anyone from finding Billie," Laura says. Steele turns to look at her. "Why would the killer then go *after* Billie?" she wonders. "Unless he felt *we* were getting too close. On camera I said that we wouldn't' stop until we found her." She looks stricken. "I don't know what to say." She turns away to cross the room.
"Mildred has Billie under lock and key at my place. She's uh, she's safe enough for the moment." He rubs his eyes.
"I still don't understand why anyone would be killed over all this!" Laura insists as Steele starts to straighten the papers on his desk. "Billie must know something."
"According to Billie, she's an innocent escapee from Hollywood," he tells her.
"That doesn't make sense," Laura says.
"Perhaps not," Steele agrees, going back over to the conference area, "but for the moment, I've been following the only lead we have." He tosses the fedora to her before going back to the desk.
"Our would-be assassin was wearing that up in the mountains. Meet anyone recently who might wear a chapeau like that?" he asks her.
Laura looks thoughtful. "Jake Slater."
"Hmm hmm." He slides a paper across his desk to her. "I've been doing a little background check on old Jake. Fascinating stuff. Closed his detective agency in 1956. No report of any income for the past thirty years, yet he's made house payments and paid taxes on a tidy interest he's earned every year." He sits down as if he's tired.
"Charming coincidence," Laura notes. "Thirty years ago, he's hired to find Billie Young. Supposedly he can't locate her, and then he retires shortly thereafter with a sizable nest egg. Blackmail?" she suggests, handing the paper back to him.
"I don't know," Steele says. "The thought has crossed my mind. Perhaps we should pay Jake a little visit."
"I'd like to talk to Billie first," Laura decides. "Something about this doesn't *fit*." She turns toward the door.
Steele picks up the phone. "Oh, uh, you wanna call Windsor?" he asks. "Hmm?"
Laura turns to look at him. "Was it Andy Warhol who said we all get fifteen minutes of fame? I think I've had mine."
Steele nods in approval, then rises and picks up his coat to follow her from the office.
At Steele's, Mildred asks Billie, "Tell me about Sally Benson."
Billie looks sad. "She was a real sweetheart. One of the good people. And talented? I don't think she ever knew how good she was. I found her," she admits. Mildred looks surprised. "You didn't know that, huh?" Billie asks, near tears at the memory. "Yeah. She looked so cold lying on that bare floor. All I could think of was, 'I gotta cover her up. I gotta keep her warm. I gotta- I gotta-'." She starts crying softly. "I couldn't."
"Why did she do it?" Mildred asks.
"Oh, she was pregnant and single," Billie says. "You remember what it was like back then. And it didn't help that the guy didn't want to have anything to do with her," Billie adds, wiping her eyes.
"You knew the father?" Mildred asks.
"Sometimes,- even best friends don't tell." She laughs. "Probably told her he was gonna make her a star."
Mildred picks up the tea pot and stands. "I'll get us some fresh tea."
"You know, somehow it doesn't seem right. Sally and Tom both gone. And I'm still here."
"I guess life is like that sometimes," Mildred says. "There's not much we can do about it."
Billie watches her go toward the kitchen, then nods her head and says, "Sometimes." She nods, and gets up. Grabbing her coat, she leaves the apartment.
Mildred returns with the teapot. "I know you'd rather be in your own bed tonight-" she stops as she realizes that Billie's not in the chair anymore. "Billie?" she calls. Putting the tea on the table, she goes to the bedroom. "Billie?" she calls again, then returns to the living room, worried.
When Steele and Laura return, Mildred tells them what happened. "What was I supposed to do?" she asks, turning in circles as they pace the room around her. "Hand cuff her to the coffee table?"
"No one's blaming you, Mildred," Laura says. "We just have to figure out where she could have gone."
"And why," Steele adds.
"Back to the lake," Mildred suggests.
"Without her luggage?" Laura asks.
"Out of the Past," Steele cites perching on the credenza beneath his movie posters. "Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, RKO 1947. Mitchum plays a private detective hired by Douglas to find Jane Greer. He does, only he falls in love with her, then he doesn't tell Douglas that he found her."
"I don't get it," Mildred says.
"Neither do I, exactly," Steele admits. "But I have the strong feeling this revolves around Jake Slater and Billie Young."
"You've got my vote," Laura agrees, sitting on the arm of the sofa, watching as he pulls the knot of his tie up.
"What are you guys waiting for?" Mildred asks.
Laura and Steele turn toward the door. Steele opens it- only to find Windsor and Dennis there, camera rolling. Windsor smiles. "That was marvelous! Would you mind repeating that for the camera?" she asks, holding out the microphone.
Steele glowers in anger. "Windsor this is not a game anymore. It's deadly serious."
"That makes it news," she replies.
"That makes it none of your business, sweetheart," Steele replies, pushing past her and Dennis. "Excuse me. Out of my way."
Windsor turns to Laura. "Laura-?"
"I'm sorry, Windsor, that won't work anymore." She passes them to join Steele. Windsor follows, getting to the elevator as the doors open and Steele and Laura get inside.
"We had a deal!" Windsor reminds her.
"Deal's off," Laura says.
"Since I realized all the publicity was making me just like you," Laura tells her. Windsor puts out a hand to stop the elevator from closing. "I won't needlessly jeopardize someone's life for the sake of a story."
"Don't get sanctimonious with me, sweetheart. We're more alike under the skin than you're willing to admit."
Steele stands in the back of the car, a small smile on his face. "I don't think so," Laura says, then removes Windsor's hand so the door can close.
Windsor looks at Dennis, angry, as he asks, "What now?"
"We'll take the stairs."
At Jake's, he comes into the entryway carrying a small suitcase and opens a closet door. Hearing a noise in the living room, he pulls the gun from his pants. "Who's here?" he asks, going to the doorway. He goes into the room, passing Billie. "Who is it?"
"Hello, Billie," he says, turning to face her in the dark room.
"You shouldn't have come."
"Just curious," she says, moving closer to him, ignoring the gun in his hand.
"Yeah. I wondered how you'd look after all these years. I guess time caught up with both of us."
"You're crazy to be here," Jake tells her.
"I also wondered how I'd feel," Billie adds. "If I'd hate you as much as I've hated you for so long." She laughs. "I don't." She passes him. "I don't feel a thing." She laughs. "Ain't that a kick?" She looks at him again. "The man who destroyed me and I don't feel a thing!"
Jake looks a little embarrassed. "I meant to come back."
"Oh, sure you did, Jake. Sure. You killed Tommy, didn't you? Why'd you have to do that? He was such a harmless little guy."
"The pipsqueak wouldn't shut up. I just went over to scare him off. But he knew who I was. From your letters, I guess. But he wouldn't shut up."
"You gonna kill me now too, Jake?" Billie asks. "Like you tried in the woods?"
Jake shakes his head as he raises the gun. "This isn't the way I wanted it, Billie," he says. She nods in disbelief as he pulls the hammer back. "But I gotta protect my investment."
They both look at the door as Steele knocks and yells. "Slater!" Jake lowers the gun slightly. "Slater! Open up! Slater, open up!"
"Some other time, doll," he promises, and takes off out the back way.
Billie stands there, shaking her head as Steele gets the door open and he and Laura rush in. "Slater!" he yells, and then they see Billie. "Billie."
"Are you all right?" Laura asks.
"Where's Jake?" Steele asks her.
"Out the back." He and Laura turn to follow, but she calls out, "Mr. Steele?"
They turn to look at her. "Yeah? What?"
"Nail the creep," she tells him. Steele grins at her, then follows Laura.
Laura and Steele exit the house, and look around as Jake rounds a corner and then, putting his gun into his trousers again, climbs over a chain link fence.
Steele and Laura follow him, chasing him along the street. He begins to stumble a bit, holding his chest.
The LA Spotlight van pulls up on the curb. Jake pulls his gun, but his chest is hurting so much that he can't fire it. He drops it as he grabs his chest and runs across the street into a playground, where he stops at the jungle gym to catch his breath. Suddenly he collapses.
Laura and Steele reach him. Steele checks his neck, while Laura grabs a wrist. "No," she says, shaking her head. She looks up to find Windsor and Dennis there. "Roll tape, Dennis," Windsor orders. "I want a three shot of us around the body."
She moves around, straightening her lion's mane of hair as the light comes on. Laura picks up a stick and slams it into the camera, surprising Steele and infuriating Windsor. "I'll have your license!" she threatens.
"Just try!" Laura returns.
Before Windsor can say anymore, the quiet is rent with a woman's screams. "Billie!" Steele says, taking off toward Jake's house again. Tossing aside the stick, Laura follows him.
They enter through the back door, and find Billie laying on the floor, coughing. "Billie," Steele says as Laura kneels by her.
They help her to sit up, but all she can do is point. Steele takes off as Laura tries to comfort the woman.
Steele runs outside as a car backs out of the driveway and tears down the street. As Steele climbs into the Auburn, the van pulls up and Dennis gets out, then the van speeds away after the other car, just behind Steele.
"Windsor!" Dennis yells after the van.
Steele follows the gold Mercedes into a cul-de-sac, which the smaller car easily negotiates. But the Auburn won't make the turn and Steele has to put it into reverse. "Oooh, lousy turn radius," he mutters angrily.
The Mercedes turns back toward Jake's house, and Windsor, driving the van, comes at the car head on, forcing it to crash into an LA Spotlight billboard.
Steele parks the Auburn and gets out, rushing over. He uses a board to remove a live electrical wire from the car and opens the door to reveal an unconscious Lou Mackler. "Lou Mackler?" he questions, looking up at a chastened Windsor.
"I recognized the car," she tells him. "He was using me. I told him where Billie was," she says.
Back at the office, Billie tells her story. "After Sally's death, I took off for the mountains. I just wanted to forget everything I ever knew about this town. But a man found me," she says as Mildred, Steele, Laura, and Windsor listen to her. "Handsome, smooth-"
"Jake Slater," Laura guesses.
Billie nods. "He didn't tell me he was a detective at first. Told me he was a truck driver. We fell in love. At least, I did. Harder than I ever thought possible. After a few days, he- told me the truth. That Mackler hired him."
"Why?" Steele asks.
"To recover Sally's diary. I inherited most of her stuff. She didn't have any family."
"Why the diary?" Windsor asks.
"Jake didn't know. He'd been sent up to get it. I hadn't read it, so I had no idea either. So we- took a look," she admits.
"And?" Mildred prompts.
"Lou Mackler got Sally pregnant. He didn't wanna marry her. He was gonna marry some rich broad," she says, and Laura smiles, as does Steele as he understands. "Sally was gonna have the baby anyway, and she insisted that Lou be responsible as his father."
"So Sally Benson didn't commit suicide," Steele says.
"Lou Mackler killed her to keep his career on track," Laura says.
"Yeah," Billie says. "Obviously he forgot that Sally kept a diary- til later."
"Why didn't you go to the police?" Mildred asks.
"I was in love," Billie reminds her. "And Jake? He said the diary wasn't enough to prove anything. It wouldn't bring Sally back. So, we'd hit Lou where it hurt him the most."
"Blackmail," Laura says.
"I was so in love I'd have done anything Jake said," Billie tells her, near tears again. "So I agreed. He covered my trail, he wiped out every trace of my former life. Set me up at Twin Pines, took the diary and went back to Los Angeles." She gives a self derogatory laugh. "He said he'd be back for me in a week. We'd be together." She lowers her head, crying.
"He never came," Steele says.
Billie shakes her head, and Mildred asks, "Why didn't you tell us this before?"
"I was so ashamed," Billie explains through her tears. "I'd betrayed my best friend, I was betrayed, I lost everything. And I've hated myself ever since."
"All these years," Laura muses. "Jake was bleeding Lou and Lou thought it was Billie."
"So when I suggested TV Reunion Week," Windsor says, "Lou saw his chance to get his hands on the woman he thought had been blackmailing him for thirty years. And I played right along," she sighs regretfully.
Steele blows out a deep breath, looking at Windsor. "I guess you got your story," he tells her.
"I, for one, shall be very anxious to hear how you report it," Laura adds.
On a TV screen, Windsor, at the news desk, reads, "And so, after thirty years, the truth behind actress Sally Benson's death is finally known. Ironically, the murder of Benson was uncovered during an LA Spotlight search for Benson's long-time friend, Billie Young. The whereabouts of Young, a former Showtime Cavalcade star, remain a mystery. This is Windsor Thomas, NewsWatch 6."
Billie smiles and turns off the TV with a remote, then picks up a scrapbook.
On the shore of the lake, Steele and Laura are walking. He's wearing a gray trench coat, and she's wearing a long white fur coat. "You're quiet tonight," Steele comments.
"I was just thinking about the way I acted when I was in the spotlight."
"Oh. It's a bit troubling to find how easily we all can be seduced by the camera, eh?"
"Why didn't you pull me aside and shake me?" she asks.
"Ho, would it have done any good?"
"Sometimes it's frightening how well you know me."
"How about a real scare?" he asks, then pulls her into his arms without warning for a long kiss.