We see the exterior of a house. Inside, we see a mans body on the floor. Someone is pouring gasoline on the body and its surroundings. The camera pulls back and we see a dark-haired mystery man in a trench coat splashing more gasoline around as he backs out the front door. He stands on the front step a moment, looking around nervously, then he starts splashing more gasoline around the outside. He puts down the gasoline can, takes out a match, lights a wad of paper and throws it on the gasoline trail. It ignites as he runs to his car. He speeds away as the house is consumed.
We see a rack full of dental impressions. In the background we hear moans. When the scene widens, we see a man and a blond woman in a nurses uniform, locked in the throes of passion in a dental chair. The phone rings, interrupting them.
As they part, breathlessly, the man says "One of these days, Ive got to do something about that overbite."
Obviously out of breath, the nurse crawls over him to get out of the chair, then walks around to answer the phone. "Hello," she manages.
A woman with curly dark hair stands in her kitchen, shaking pasta in a colander, cradling the phone on her shoulder. "Hello, Cookie, this is Frances. Is Donald there?"
"Oh, hello Mrs. Piper," Cookie gasps. "Dr. Piper just left."
Frances looks puzzled. "He did?"
"Im just taking care of <gasp> some odds and ends here."
"Well, it certainly sounds that way." Frances scowls and slams down the phone.
Cookie hangs up. "Now, what about my overbite?" She crosses the office to the man, who is standing by the door with some folders under his arm.
"Well get to it at the convention," he says. He gives her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek, then puts an arm around her as they leave.
Cookie picks up her sweater and purse at the reception desk, and then they go to the elevator. As the elevator doors close, the stairway door opens. The mystery man who started the fire enters the hallway, carrying a manila envelope. He pulls what looks like a lock pick out of his pocket and bends over to work on the lock of the just-vacated office. On the door, we see two names: Howard Sabatchnik (sp?) and Donald Piper.
He gets the front door open, enters and closes the door behind him. Once in the inner office, he turns on the light. At the filing cabinet, he searches through the files, finally seizing one labeled Whittaker, Wendell. He removes the X-rays from the file and substitutes the ones he takes from the manila envelope, returning the file to the cabinet. He puts the stolen X-rays in the envelope and turns to the cabinet of dental impressions. He opens the door, only to discover the impression belonging to Wendell Whittaker is gone. He looks upset.
At the agency office the next morning, Laura strides in. "Good morning, Mildred." She starts looking through papers on Mildreds desk.
Mildred looks up from watering the plant behind her desk. "Oh, good morning."
"Mr. Steele in?"
"No, but there is somebody waiting for you in your office." Mildred goes to water another plant.
"Oh?" Laura frowns.
"Well, she didnt give me her name. She just came in, asked for you, and sailed into your office as if it were her own. Oh she did mention that the ficus needs watering." Mildred shrugs and walks off to the next plant.
Laura opens the door to her office and we see Frances, wearing a fur coat and dark glasses. "Laura!" She opens her arms and hurries across the office to embrace Laura.
Laura returns the embrace happily. "Oh my Frances!" They laugh and hug again. "Look at you!"
"Oh, you little thing " Frances removes her sunglasses.
"I didnt know you and Donald were coming to LA." Laura gestures at the suitcases on the floor, then directs Frances to a chair.
"Well, Donald has one of his conventions, and I was exhausted. I just finished doing the den. So I left the housekeeper with the kids, and I traded Peggy Burke my day at carpool, and I just flew on out here."
"Hes over at the Brinkley Hotel. You know how boring those things can get." She sniffs and sounds like shes about to cry.
Laura looks concerned. "Frances did something happen?"
Frances pulls a tissue from her purse. "Well, you tell me. For fifteen years, we have been married. And for fifteen years, I have gone to every single one of his conventions. Sixteen, if you count the time when I was engaged and I didnt tell Mother. And now its finally in Los Angeles, and, ah- "
"He didnt take you. But why?"
Frances takes a handful of papers from her purse and hands them to Laura. "THAT is why."
Laura unfolds the papers and looks at them. "Greenwich Florist Shop," she reads. "Myrnas Lingerie Plotkin Jewel-" She turns back to Frances. "I dont get it."
"Well, I didnt get any of it either," Frances replies, twisting the tissue. "Not the roses, not the nightgown. She did."
"SHE did? Oh my God, Frances." Laura perches on the arm of the other chair. "Not Donald."
Frances shakes her head. "Hes having an affair, Laura. My Donald is having an affair."
"I dont believe it."
"Its true. And Ive let it happen. I dont know I guess I was just so busy with the house and getting Mindy to the ballet and tennis lessons after school, and Danny has soccer and his allergist I guess I just didnt pay enough attention to Donald. So he just went out and found himself somebody who did."
Laura gets up and paces. "Frances, are you sure youre not jumping the gun on this?"
"Oh Laura, look at me. Im not exactly the size six I was when we got married. And as much as Donald says he likes to have something to grab onto, it doesnt mean a thing."
"No, Frances you look wonderful."
"And youre my sister and youre being nice. But its true Mother was right. You should be glad you dont have someone special enough in your life to break your heart, Laura."
"I thank the Lord for that everyday, Frances." Laura sounds and looks annoyed, but Frances doesnt notice.
"You are just so lucky."
Laura comes back to perch on the chair again. "Look before you convince yourself its Boom Town all over again "
"Boom Town. MGM, 1940. Clark Gable leaves Claudette Colbert for Hedy La" Laura catches herself and stops.
"I didnt know you were so interested in movies."
Laura tries to laugh it off. "Actually, a friend of mine got me started. Why dont you take my car, go back to the loft " Laura hands her the keys. " while I go to the hotel and take a look around."
"All right." She doesnt sound completely convinced.
Laura tries to pick up two of her sisters bags. They seem to be quite heavy.
Frances comes over. "Whatever you learn youll give it to me straight, wont you?"
"In Boom Town, Claudette Colbert ends up in Clark Gables arms." She gives Frances a reassuring peck on the cheek.
Laura and Frances come out of the office with her bags. "Well be out for a while, Mildred. On official business."
"Well, is there a number to reach you at, in case the boss wants to call?"
"No, there isnt any." Laura and her sister head for the main door.
"Thank you," Frances says on her way by Mildreds desk.
"Youre welcome." Mildred wrinkles her brow and stares after them.
At the hotel, we see Cookie and her friend in bed, locked in a romantic embrace. A knock comes at the door; he gets up to answer it, clad only in his underwear.
At the door is a dark-haired man, with a name tag on his jacket. "Unbelievable!" he exclaims as he stalks into the room. "I cant leave you two alone for a minute."
"Now wait a minute. Now, I started working on the paper, I swear I did, but " He reaches out to stroke Cookies hair as she sits on the bed, clad in a fetching teddy. " I got carried away with the material."
"Howie, Howie, I dont want to get involved with your personal life."
"But you dont cheat on your wife and you think Im a low-life because I do. But Donald, thats what makes us such great partners. We complement each other." He punches Donalds shoulder. "Come on."
Donald sits on the bed, looking put out. "Lets hear what you did on the paper."
Howie looks around for his notes and finally spots them on the floor. He picks them up, clears his throat and begins. "Ladies and gentlemen, as we all know, tic de la roux is a very interesting condition." Howie stops, still looking at the notepad.
Donald looks up in disbelief. "Thats it? Thats what youve done?"
Howie shrugs and nods. Cookie smiles helpfully.
"Go take a cold shower," he tells Howie, who throws the pad on the bed and goes into the bathroom. To Cookie, he says, "Give me the notes, get me the teeth and put some clothes on. We have a paper to do here."
Cookie reaches under the covers and retrieves the dental impression Donald asked for. He looks at it and realizes he doesnt really want to know why Cookie and Howie had it in bed with them. He walks out the door without saying another word.
Steele walks into the office in a good mood. "Ah, good morning, Mildred."
"Oh, good morning, sir."
"Miss Holt in yet?" Hes at the door of his office by this time.
"She came and went." Steele spins back around at that. "On a new case that arrived this morning."
He crosses back to Mildreds desk. "Ah, wonderful. Where shall I meet her?"
"I couldnt say. She just left. She didnt leave a forwarding number."
"She didnt leave any message for me?"
Mildred shrugs apologetically. "Not a word."
Steele is indignant. "So, were back to that, are we?"
"Back to what?"
He bends over Mildreds desk, looks her in the eye and points toward the main door of the suite. "Mildred, would you be so kind as to read the wording printed on that door over there?"
She looks at him, puzzled. "Remington Steele Investigations."
"Thank you. Somehow Miss Holt has a way of conveniently overlooking that fact, even though she walks through that door every morning."
"Oh, Im sure theres an explanation for that, boss."
"Yes, and Ive heard it before. But I thought she and I had come to a new agreement. That she would stop wandering off by herself." He strides toward Lauras office.
Mildred leaps up and runs around the desk. "Oh, Mr. Steele."
She catches up to him at Lauras door. "Please, Mr. Steele. Oh boss dont youyoure not going to fire her, are you?"
"Im afraid shes on the thin edge, Mildred. The thin edge."
"Oh, Miss Holt is a very hard worker," Mildred says placatingly. "I know that youre angry oh please, give her just one more chance."
"Tell me, what mode of transportation did she use?"
"The limo, I think."
"I see. Then would you be good enough to call Fred on the car phone? Cant have her wandering off by herself on a case. Far too inexperienced." He goes into his own office as Mildred rushes to comply.
Laura walks through the lobby. Behind her is a "Welcome, Dentists of America" banner. In front of her is another dentists banner on the right. On the left is a banner that proclaims "Welcome to the Fifth Annual Chocolate Convention." Laura stands there, entranced by the second banner. Several costumed ladies with trays of chocolates converge on her. "Would you care to sample some of our chocolates?" one of them asks.
"No," Laura manages to say. She hesitates, then, "No, no thank you. I " She makes her escape barely in time to avoid the obvious temptation.
At the reception desk, Laura speaks to one of the clerks. "Hello. Could you tell me, please, what room Dr. Donald Piper is in?"
He consults something on the desk. "Its 312."
"312." She smiles a thanks to the clerk and heads for the elevator.
As she leaves reception, the mystery man who broke into the dental office appears. "In what room do I find a Dr. Howard Sabatchnik?"
"Thats 314," says the clerk. Mystery man also heads for the elevator.
Cookie is lying on the bed, much as she was before except now shes wearing a robe. Shes making notes as Donald speaks and paces.
"Tic de la roux," Donald says, consulting a folder he holds. "Also known as astrigeminal neuralgia, manifesting in bouts of severe, brief lacerating pain in distribution of one or more divisions of the fifth cranial nerve." He sits at a table covered with papers. "Most often found in the superior mandibula or maxillary-"
A knock comes at the door. Cookie rolls over on the bed as Donald goes to answer it.
"Laura!" he exclaims when he sees her.
She enters and greets him with a hug. "Hi, Donald " Her gaze falls on Cookie, who smiles at her. "Oh my God " Laura forces out past her frozen smile.
"Oh my God," Donald echoes. He crosses to the bed and pulls Cookies robe across the display of cleavage. "Laura, this is my assistant, Cookie."
Laura gives him a look. "Shes quite a help, Im sure."
"How about a drink? Downstairs?"
"Im ready any time you are, doctor," chimes in Cookie.
"Take five, Cookie um Miss Widdoes." Donald and Laura leave the room as Cookie goes through the door to Howies adjoining room.
Donald and Laura are waiting at the elevators. Laura folds her arm across her chest and sighs.
"Laura, I know what you think."
"Its not too hard, Donald."
The elevator arrives and they get on. Laura punches the button angrily and the doors slide shut. At that same moment, the doors of the other elevator open and out steps the mystery man. He walks down the hall and knocks on the door of 314.
Cookie opens the door. "Why Mr. Whittaker what are you doing here?" The smile fades when she sees the gun in his hand. He fires two shots (silenced) and Cookie falls to the floor. Howie can be heard singing in the shower as Whittaker closes the door. Whittaker quietly opens the bathroom door and slips in. He throws open the shower door and quickly fires twice more, silencing Howies singing for good.
Whittaker searches the room, growing more and more frustrated. Finally, he gives up and approaches the door to the adjoining room (Donalds), ready to draw his gun. But the room, fortunately, is empty. Donalds briefcase is on the table, and all the papers are still on the table and bed. He checks everything, but no dental impression. On the dresser, he sees a picture of Donald and Frances. He seizes it and stares.
Donald and Laura are in the lobby and take a seat at one of the little seating groups. "Now Laura, what you just saw its not what you think."
"You mean what looks to me like a half-dressed woman on
a half-made bed in the middle of my sisters husbands
hotel room is not what I think?"
"Okay what is it?"
"It is a purely professional relationship."
"And thats just one of the many things you two professionals share?"
"Believe me, Cookie is a fantastic dental assistant. Shes got a light touch shes good with the uppers, the lowers shes experienced." Donald fairly sparkles with professional pride and enthusiasm. "When that office gets hopping, she jumps right in there. She gets the job done."
Even though shes smiling, Laura obviously isnt buying any of it. "Ill bet she does. That silk robe is it always part of her professional uniform, or is it only when she jumps in there and gets the job done?"
"Laura, Laura, I know how it looks. But this is me, right?" Donald touches her cheek. "Please, please trust me."
Steele strolls through the lobby, looking for Laura. From behind a large potted plant, he can see Donald touching Lauras cheek but cannot hear their conversation. He cant believe what hes seeing.
"Why didnt you bring Frances?" Laura probes. Donald drops his eyes as he tries to come up with an answer.
Across the lobby, from behind another potted plant, Whittaker spies Donald. He too cannot hear their conversation, but he can see that Donald has pulled the dental impression out of his pocket and is fidgeting with it.
"Now maybe Im being a bit protective," Donald says, "but I cant expose her to what goes on at these conventions."
"Donald, shes been to fifteen," Laura replies through clenched teeth. "Sixteen, if you count the time you were engaged."
"Yes, yes, and lately Ive noticed an alarming trend among some of my colleagues. Their eyes are beginning to wander from home."
"Hows your eyesight, Donald?"
Steele remains behind the potted plant, looking on in disbelief.
"Laura, I love my wife," Donald protests. "That sort of thing doesnt interest me."
Laura nods. "Of course. How silly of me to have thought otherwise." The hint of sarcasm is lost on Donald.
"Thank you." He touches her chin, briefly. "I knew, I knew that you would understand. Oh, youre great." He gives her a brotherly kiss, which is seen by an aghast Mr. Steele.
Donald stands. "Ive got a paper to write, but why cant we have dinner tonight?"
Smiling, Laura grabs a lapel and pulls him closer. "Donald, not to press a point, but wheres Cookie staying?"
He clasps her hand in his. "With a friend," he says quickly. "You are the greatest. You are the greatest sister-in-law a guy could ever, ever have." He gives her another brotherly kiss.
Steele is shocked by what hes seen.
"I love both of you." Donald takes his leave. Whittaker follows.
Steele faces a moment of indecision. Then he strides over to the dental convention registration and seizes an unclaimed badge bearing the name "Dr. Stanley Bridges." A model in a white one-piece bathing suit, a nurses cap and a sash is enthusiastically greeting all the new registrants. "Well of course you all get a welcome kiss. <smack> Welcome to the convention. <smack> Have a <smack> wonderful <smack> time." She notices the intrepid Mr. Steele. "Hello, Doc. Welcome <major smack> to the convention."
"Excuse me. Thank you very much indeed." Steele breaks away from her, turning just in time to see Donald greet Whittaker.
"Wendell? Wendell Whittaker! What are you doing here?"
"Youre not going to believe this, but I was thinking about you just now."
"Yeah. Im gonna make you famous."
Whittaker sounds less than pleased. "Oh is that so?"
"You remember when you came up to the office with your tic de la roux?" Donald points at his own cheek. "Well, Howie and I, tomorrow, are presenting a paper on it! And who knows? From the size of this convention, we might even get a little TV coverage." Donald once again waxes enthusiastic about his work.
Whittaker is nervous. "TV?"
"Why dont we go up to your room and you can tell me all about it?" Whittaker takes Donalds elbow and tries to steer him toward the elevator.
"Id love to hear it." The elevator arrives.
"I could be your audience."
"Okay!" Donald agrees happily as they board the elevator.
Steele darts to the elevator before it closes and forces the doors open. "Mind if I steal him for a moment?"
Donald calls back to Whittaker. "Dont forget TV, radio. Maybe even a docudrama." He looks at Steele. "Have we met before?"
"Dr. Bridges. Dr. Stanley Bridges." He points to his purloined name tag.
"No, I dont think so Oh, I know ha, ha! The Cleveland convention, right?"
Steele plays along. "Uh-huh Dr. Piper." He points at Donalds name tag.
"No, no, no call me Donald."
"Well, Donald. Here to shake loose, kick up your heels?"
"Seems to be the general rule of these things, doesnt it?" Donald replies with a raised eyebrow.
"I dont know one could always look up long-lost family or friends or perhaps even hire a private detective to find someone for you."
"That would go over big in Connecticut. I can just imagine a private detective sauntering up to my Bingo would love it."
"My daughter Mindys German Shepherd. And my wife hates him because he sheds. He sheds all over the house. But Mindy and my son love him."
"Is your wife here?"
"Oh, no, no, no oh no, thank the Lord."
Some rowdy conventioneers interrupt them. "Hey Piper, join the party!" one of them urges.
"No, no, no, no way guys. I gotta help Howie with a paper."
"Are you bailing Howie out, Donald?" someone asks. They bundle him off in spite of Steeles attempts to stop them. "Then dont worry well all work on it "
In the loft, Frances is on the phone. "Hazel, I dont care what Danny says, hes not allowed to have toasted marshmallows for dinner. I mean, after all, his father is a dentist."
Laura walks in with a grocery bag.
"Really?" Frances frowns. "When did they call?" Laura pulls out a box of tissues and put it on the table by Frances, then proceeds to the kitchen. "Oh dear, thats just horrible. Well, yes, Ill try and get him." Laura starts putting away groceries. "Oh, oh, oh and Hazel, please remind Mindy to put in her bite plate. Love to all." Frances hangs up.
"Everything all right with the kids?" Laura asks as she puts things in the refrigerator.
"Yes, but it seems theres been a terrible fire and one of Donalds patients died. Wendell Whittaker. The fire was so bad, the police called Donald for the dental records."
"Oh. Probably had to make a positive ID." Laura pulls a bottle of white wine from the grocery bag. "Look what I bought."
"Oh, great I could use a glass." Frances picks up the bottle and examines it.
"Coming up," Laura says.
"Wait youre trying to get me drunk for a reason."
Laura picks up two wineglasses and a corkscrew. "Dont be silly. You remember that time right after Dad left Mom had that man over?"
"Oh, yes. And you spilled red wine all over the carpet. Boy, did I get it for not watching you."
"Sorry you know, I can just picture it. After fifteen years, he ends it with sorry." Frances takes her glass of wine. "Donald saw you and told you hes finished with me, didnt he?"
"No, no, its nothing like that." Laura takes her own glass and follows Frances to the living room.
"Come on, I know what you think of me, Laura. After all, what am I? Just a typical suburban housewife, two kids, a mink coat, and a station wagon, right?" She plops down in a chair.
"Frances " Laura perches on the coffee table by her sisters chair. "Youre my sister. Youre bright, youre beautiful "
"I dont see you quitting your job and signing up for carpool."
"I dont want to quit my job. But that doesnt mean Ive ruled out a husband and family."
"Did you ever tell Mother that?"
"And see my name plastered in the yellow pages? Come on, Frances." Laura takes a sip of wine.
"Come on, Frances what? You dont want to tell her because its something she wants you to do."
"The only thing I know my mother has wanted me to do, all my life, is be exactly like you." She gets up and walks back toward the kitchen. "All my life, Ive heard, Why cant you be like your sister Frances? Why cant you talk like your sister Frances? Why dont you have friends like your sister Frances?" She takes a big gulp of wine.
"Well, the least you could have done was try a little harder. I couldve used a little relief from being the perfect one. You dont know what it was like, Laura. Never doing what I wanted to do. Not even knowing what it was I wanted to do." Frances gets up and follows her. "You know, I never told you this, but six months after Daddy left, Mother came up to me and she took her engagement ring off. I remember she was crying at the time, and she said that she would keep it off until she saw one on my finger. Laura, I dont know. Sometimes I dont know whose life Im leading mine or the one Mother always wanted. Well, anyway youre the lucky one." Frances raises her wine glass. "You got away."
"No, Frances. I ran away."
Theyre interrupted by the doorbell. Laura goes to answer it.
Steele walks in. "Ah, Laura how very nice to see you here."
"Mr. Steele, what an unexpected surprise. This is my sister, Frances."
They shake hands. "Ah, your sister. What a pleasure."
"Well, Lauras told me a great deal about working with you, Mr. Steele," gushes Frances.
"Has she now? Well, Laura and I do have a very special way of working together. How would you categorize it, Miss Holt? For instance, today what would you call that, your own special brand of secret service?"
Laura laughs it off. "There was nothing secret about it. I was at a pier."
"At the pier well, there we are."
"With a client."
"Oh, yes, I forgot. Mildred did seem to mention something about an out-of-towner. Married, wasnt he?"
The ladies exchange looks. "He didnt say," Laura answers.
"Nothing at all about a wife, kiddies, a job, even? How surprising. And it seemed so crucial to the case." Steele sits in the chair Frances vacated.
"Well, if he didnt tell you, it can only mean one thing, Laura," Frances declares.
"It didnt come up, Frances."
"Well, of course it didnt, because hes lying. He is lying to you, Laura, just like hes lying to his wife. Just like hes lying " Frances sobs; Steele raises an eyebrow. "Its an epidemic!"
Laura rips open the box of tissues and hands her some.
"Adid I start something?" Steele asks with concern.
Laura glares at him as she puts a comforting arm around her sister. Frances dissolves in sobs.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the rowdy conventioneers follow Donald down the hall to his room. They are all trying to encourage him to come out partying with them, but he ducks into his room and closes the door.
Donald turns on the light and discovers his room has been trashed. "I dont believe this. Animals!!" Obviously, he thinks Howie and Cookie are responsible. He pounds on the adjoining door. "Howie! Howie, whats the matter? One room isnt enough for you? Look, Howie theres a spot on the wall you missed. Why dont you come in and finish it?" He goes over to the bed, trying to straighten up. He finds the picture of him and Frances on the floor, under the bedspread. He puts the picture on a table next to the dental impression he was still holding. "Oh, no, no, no Howie! Thats it I dont care what you guys are doing, Im coming in."
Donald bursts through the door. "Howie! Youre still in the shower? Thats very bad for you, Howie you wash away all your natural oils." He opens the bathroom door and takes in the scene. "Oh my God "
Lauras phone rings, and she picks it up immediately. "Hello?"
"Laura?" Donald sounds quite upset. "Look, you gotta get over here."
"Its too late for questions. Get over here right now!" He slams down the phone.
"But" Shes speaking to the dial tone.
Donald peeks out the window, nervously. He turns and finds Whittaker in the adjoining door. "Wendell? Oh boy, am I glad to see you. You wont believe what I found."
"Tell me all about it, Donald," Whittaker says, as Donald pushes past him to the other room.
The dental impression looms large on the table as we hear Donald say, "I dont understand." Whittaker stares at it so close! "Why would anyone want to kill Hohis wife!" Donald exclaims. "His wife found out he was having an affair."
"Donald, stand still, will ya? Its hard to get a bead " Whittaker gestures, holding his hand like a gun. " on what youre saying. Youre all over the place."
Donald sits on the bed. "Im sorry."
"Yeah thats much better."
"Ive never run into anything like this before."
"You just never really know when the end is coming." Whittaker starts to reach inside his jacket and has his hand on the gun when the rowdy conventioneers, accompanied by several women, burst through Donalds door.
"Hey, Donald, look what we found!"
"Go away!" Donald yells.
"We brought one for you!"
"I dont want any."
"What about you friend here?" One of the women tries to muss Whittaker.
"No, he doesnt want any either."
"Wheres Howie?" They start for the adjoining door.
Donald and Whittaker both throw themselves in front of the door.
"You cant go in there. Right, Wendell?"
"Ah, what can Howie be doing that I havent done already?" one of the drunks asks.
"Nothing, absolutely nothing," Donald says truthfully. "Believe me, Howies doing nothing. Right, Wendell?"
"Right." Wendell makes a break for the table, intending to grab the dental impression. One of the drunks beats him to it and starts playing keep-away. Theyre throwing it back and forth across the room, as Wendell tries desperately to grab it.
It is at this proud moment that Laura and Steele walk in. Donald calls to her, "Laura! Laura, over here. Dr. Bridges, join the party."
"Dr. Bridges?" She looks at Steele questioningly.
"The mans obviously mistaken me for one of his colleagues." Just at this moment, the game of keep-away flies in their direction; Steele makes a nice one-handed catch. The drunks applaud. Steele starts getting into the spirit of the game. "Okay, which side am I on?" He looks for someone to throw it to.
Whittaker stands on the bed and signals frantically. Donald steps in and takes the impression from Steele. "Dr. Bridges, really! This is not a toy. This is a carefully crafted alginate impression. Laura, please!" Donald stalks off toward the crime scene.
"Yes, doctor, you of all people should recognize a carefully crafted allginate impression." Laura follows Donald to the next room and they close the door. The drunks continue partying.
"I still cant believe it," Donald tells her. "This is the most shocking sight Ive ever seen." He leads the way to the bathroom.
Laura stares at the scene. "Youve already met Miss Widdoes, my dental assistant. The gentleman is my partner, Howard Sabatchnik." Donald looks behind them. "No, Dr. Bridges, please go in the other room."
Steele peers around the two of them, taking in the scene. "Well, perhaps I can be of some assistance. Criminology has always been a hobby of mine. I never miss an Agatha Christie movie."
"Let him stay, Donald," Laura says. "Apparently, theres more to the doctor than meets the eye."
Donald shuts the bathroom door and wanders to the middle of Howies room. "Poor Howie. He did the best periodontal flap in all Connecticut. Maybe even the whole Eastern seaboard." Donald sits on the bed, bewildered.
"Under the circumstances, I think its time for the truth, Donald," Laura tells him as she sits next to him. Steele quickly sits on his other side. "Were you and Cookie involved?"
"Laura, of course not! I told you " Donald takes a deep breath. "She was Howies extracurricular activity."
"I think its time to call the police." Laura rises and heads for the phone.
Whittaker pokes his head in. "Donald, can I talk to you for a minute? Alone?"
"Its all right, Wendell. Were calling the police."
"Good thinking." Whittaker runs back into Donalds room, then out the door and straight for the elevators. He gets on one going down as Frances steps out of the one that just arrived. She hears the party noise coming from Donalds room.
"I knew it, I just knew it!" she exclaims above the roar. "GET OUT! The partys over!" She glares at them all. "Go home to your wives and children. Feed the dog, water the lawn, go to church and pray for forgiveness!" They start clearing out immediately in the face of Hurricane Frances.
They can hear her in the other room. Donald and Laura exchange looks as they both say, "Frances?" They rush next door, leaving Steele sitting there a moment. "Frances?" he asks himself, then joins them.
She is ushering the last partiers out the door as they arrive. "Frances?" Donald says.
"Apparently Frances and Donald are already acquainted," Steele observes to Laura.
"What are you doing here?" Donald squeaks.
"Confirming what I already know."
"And judging from the shrill tone, Id say they were husband and wife," Steele continues.
"You couldnt take me to the convention because you had a paper to write, hmmm?"
"Which makes Donald your brother-in-law," Steele concludes.
"For a dentist, youre not a bad detective," Laura comments.
"Which one of those floozies was yours?" demands Frances.
"But I thought you said he owned an athletic footwear store." Steele is puzzled.
"Only as an investment," Laura tells him.
"What are you talking about?" Donald asks.
"I am talking about community property, child support and alimony."
"Frances, wait," Laura interjects. "Listen to me."
"I think I have done enough of that already."
"Im afraid this is more than a simple case of adultery here," Steele begins.
"Dr. Bridges, stay out of this," Donald tells him. "This happens to be a family affair."
"Who is Dr. Bridges?" Frances asks.
"He is Dr. Bridges." Donald indicates Steele.
"I thought he was Remington Steele," Frances says.
"He is," Laura tells them both.
"He is?" Donald stares at Steele.
"Stop trying to change the subject. Im booking the first flight out of this Sodom and Gomorra." Frances heads for the adjoining door.
"Frances, wait dont go in there!" Laura yells.
"Why not another wild party? Believe me, Laura, I am immune. Nothing can shock me any more." She continues into the next room, with Laura in hot pursuit.
Donald and Steele eye each other. "Steele, huh?"
"Sorry I didnt tell you sooner. Undercover. Very hush-hush." They follow the women.
Laura is wresting the phone from Frances hand. "Frances, stop jumping to conclusions and let us explain." Frances bursts into tears and runs for the bathroom.
Laura: "Frances "
Donald: " dont "
Steele: "go in "
The bathroom door slams shut. They cringe and wait for her reaction.
A moment later, Frances returns, shutting the door and leaning against it. "That is a very messy bathroom." She slides down the door as they rush to catch her.
Whittaker sits in the lobby, looking at a newspaper. Hes reading a story headlined "Head of bullion exchange dies in fire." The story is accompanied by a picture of Wendell Whittaker. The subheading says "Company under investigation." He folds the newspaper and looks around nervously. Several uniformed police officers come charging through. The jig is nearly up.
At the loft, Laura has given up her bed for her sister and brother-in-law; she is making up the couch for herself. Donald and Frances are unpacking by the bed.
"Poor Howie," sighs Frances.
"Poor Cookie," adds Donald.
"Poor Myrtle," Frances reminds him.
"Youre not going to tell her about Howies indiscretion."
"Well, I dont see the point now. I think her husbands death far outweighs a tawdry little affair."
"I just cant believe I cant believe that you suspected me of cheating on you."
"There were all those receipts lingerie, flowers motels."
"Howie used the company card. He didnt want Myrtle to know."
"The way you jumped every time I came to the office."
"I was afraid that youd find out about them, then tell Myrtle."
"You havent come near me for two months."
"Frannie, I was preoccupied. Im telling you, I really didnt know what to do about the situation."
"Then, when you didnt take me to the convention, I mean, a thing like that gets a girl thinking, you know?"
"Frannie, how could you doubt me? When the evidence of my undying faithfulness is everywhere. Could a man whos having an affair dig a new cesspool?"
Frances comes around the bed and goes to him. "Well, I guess I just wasnt paying attention. Donald, can you ever forgive me?"
He grins and takes her in his arms. "Well, I guess its a little flattering after fifteen years " They sit on the bed and giggle. "That you still care enough to get a little jealous." They fall to the bed, laughing in each others arms.
Meanwhile, at the couch, Steele observes, "Hmmm appears the marriage institution has survived another test."
"Profound observation, Dr. Bridges." She hands him a stack of pillows across the couch. "Or should I call you Stanley?"
"I suppose youre going to press me for an explanation on that one."
"I wouldnt dream of it. Unlike Frances, I have implicit faith in my partner." She starts to open up a blanket. "Now, what the hell were you doing running around a hotel masquerading as a dentist?"
"When it looked as if you were dealing with a case without telling me, I was more than a little miffed."
She glances in the happy couples direction. "Frankly, I was a little embarrassed to bring you in on this one."
"Well, when I arrived at the hotel and observed you and Donald in intimate conversation, his hands all over you, I began to suspect that it was more than a business relationship involved. I wanted to pump him, as it were. Incognito."
"You were jealous." She looks a little pleased at the thought.
"Definitely not. I knew I could trust you without hesitation."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
He hooks a finger around the belt of her dress and pulls her toward him, even though the couch is between them. "Well perhaps there was a pang or two." They kiss.
She smiles and says, "Ill forgive you." The train of thought switches tracks. "Now, to the matter at hand."
He walks to the kitchen island. "The burning question seems to be, why would anyone kill a dentist?"
"Well, whatever the reason, I think the hotel is our only starting point." She joins him at the island.
Hes holding the dental impression. "Splendid. Ill use my Dr. Bridges identity," he says as he whips the name tag out of his pocket. "You know blend in, investigate without arousing suspicion."
"In that case, Ill need a cover too."
"Exactly. Now "
Laura and Steele walk through the hotel lobby the next day. Laura is wearing a mini-skirt, boots and a tight, low-cut top.
"This isnt exactly what I had in mind," she tells him.
"Oh, come now, Laura. What better cover for a convention?" Steele clacks the two halves of the impression at passers-by. "Youll be able to roam around at will. People will pour out their life stories to you. And you get to answer that age-old question whats a nice girl like you doing in an outfit like that?"
They are approached by a costumed girl from the chocolate convention. "Caramels? Chocolate covered cherries? Mint parfaits?"
"No. No, thank you." Laura looks stricken.
"Oh, come on," the girl urges. "One wont hurt you."
Laura cringes; "No!" she cries, hiding her face against Steeles arm. They hurry off.
"Ive seen that look before," he tells her.
"Ray Milland had it in Lost Weekend. Played a hopeless alcoholic. Got it every time he saw a bottle of scotch. You and chocolate wouldnt have a similar relationship, would you?"
"Dont be ridiculous. Were on a case. Theres a murderer loose. We dont have time to stand around tasting ch ch cho"
"Come on. Lets pump some dentists."
On the couch next to them in the lobby, completely unnoticed, is Whittaker, still hiding behind a newspaper. He folds it, throws it down on the couch, and follows them.
Back at the loft, Frances lounges on the bed in her nightgown, sighing happily. Donald bounds back into the room, clad in t-shirt and shorts, beaming.
"Oh Donald, you are so energetic."
"Well, I have a lot of energy stored up." He returns to the bedside. "Got a little tickle in my throat," he says, picking up her purse. She looks worried. "You got a cough drop?" He opens the purse, only to find its full of chocolates. "Oh, Frances "
"Oh, Donald. Im sorry. You see, there was this ch ch cho "
"Thank you convention at the hotel, and I thought you were having an affair with Cookie, so I was really really really depressed. And I thought, well, gee, just one little teeny tiny consolation "
"How many? How many did you have, Frances?"
"No more than three "
He closes his eyes and nods.
He drops the purse on the nightstand and sits by her on the bed. "Frances, youve got to seek help. If not for yourself, for the children. It is not a pretty sight to find your mother hiding in a garage stuffing her face with malted milk balls."
"I am over it, Donald. I mean, now that I know that I have you, I will never touch another malted milk ball again, as long as I live. I promise. Oh, and the children are just fine. I just talked to them today."
"Yes. Oh, youve got to believe me, they will have no permanent scars because of my condition."
They almost kiss, then she remembers something. "Oh. There was one bit of disturbing news, though. About that patient of yours, Wendell Whittaker?"
"Oh yeah. Oh, hes coping with his tic de la roux very well, I thought."
"I dont think he needs to worry about it any more."
"You never know. Those things can reoccur."
Donald stares at her, shocked.
"Burned, in a fire."
"A couple of days ago, I think."
"Thats impossible. I just saw him. Here, in Los Angeles, in the hotel."
"But thats impossible. The police called for his dental records, to make a positive identification."
"Well they cant possibly make a positive identification without the impression of his teeth. We brought them here with us."
They stare at each other a minute, then realization slowly dawns on Donalds face. "Oh dear Lord "
"Whats the matter?"
Donald jumps up and grabs his pants. "Those teeth may be the key to a double murder." He throws her clothes at her. "Get dressed!"
Laura and Steele get off the elevator. A uniformed officer stands guard in front of the crime scene. Steele still has the impression out in plain sight, in his hand.
"Hmmm doesnt seem to be an easy access, does it?"
"You just leave that to mama." Laura slinks toward the officer. She goes past him, pretends to look for something in her purse, then spills the contents on the floor. She bends over enticingly and the officer kneels down to help.
"Lose anything, miss?"
"I cant seem to find my hotel key." They start pawing through the jumble. "Has it been a long night for you, captain?"
"Sergeant? Really? You look like a captain to me."
"Lets have a look at that badge."
During this exchange, Steele slips into room 314, unseen by the officer. Whittaker comes off the elevator in time to see this and follows him in. He pulls his gun as Steele turns around to confront him.
"Ill take those teeth," says Whittaker.
Steele tosses them up in the air and tackles Whittaker when he goes for them. Whittaker chops him on the neck, stunning him and escapes out the door. Laura and the officer turn; Whittaker fires, wounding the officer. Steele comes out the door just in time to duck away from the next shot. Whittaker makes a run for the stairs.
Down in the lobby, Whittaker encounters Frances and Donald. "He IS alive!" Frances exclaims.
"And somehow I dont think he wants to celebrate his good fortune with us. Come on!" Donald grabs her hand and they run. Whittaker runs after them. They duck into the chocolate convention to hide.
Meanwhile, Laura and Steele burst into the lobby. Laura spots Whittaker. "There he is!" They chase him, and he tries to take refuge in the bar.
They encounter the same group of rowdy conventioneers, who slow them down (especially Laura) temporarily. Then they too wind up in the chocolate convention.
Theyve lost sight of Whittaker. "He could be anywhere," Laura says.
Steele spots a mans leg sticking out from under one of the covered tables. When they pull back the tablecloth, they find Donald, Frances and large boxes of chocolates. Frances is stuffing her face at an impressive rate. "What are you doing?" Laura demands.
"It was the only way I could keep her quiet," Donald replies. "Is he still here?"
"Possibly," says Steele. "Lets check the rest of the lobby. Come on."
"Frances, Im sorry," Donald tells her as they emerge from under the table. "I did it for your own safety, all right?"
Frances is still eating chocolate. Laura assists her, as Steele and Donald take off in search of Whittaker. "Laura Laura, Ill give you $20 if you get me some more Raspberry Swirls."
"Its all the cash Ive got, unless you want to take a travelers cheque."
Laura is aghast. "Frances, what are you talking about?" She tries to steer Frances away from the temptation. "Sit down." They go to the nearest couch.
"Laura Laura, I have a confession to make. Im a ch a ch " She takes a deep breath. "Im a chocoholic."
"Dont tell Mother."
"How did this happen?" They sit on the couch.
"It started with a couple of candy bars for breakfast. Then a few more to tide me over until lunch. Before I knew what was happening, it was all I could think about. Id fall asleep at night dreaming of rich, gooey caramels. Nougat centers. Mocha and then it got to the point where one piece one whiff of ch " Laura cringes in sympathy. "Ch ch " She cant say the word.
"Its all right, Frances."
"Id go through ten pounds before a binge broke. My face would break out. My clothes wouldnt fit. There was no stopping me."
"How long ago was that?"
"I know how you feel," Laura confesses.
"How could you?"
"I too have dreams. Warm, sensuous dreams. I walk into a dark room, and a deep bath of chocolate awaits me. I lower myself into it. Im covered in chocolate. And I discover what the pursuit of happiness means."
"I want to believe in reincarnation so I can come back as a crunch bar."
"It runs in the family," Laura tells her. "The Holt curse."
"Two sisters, so different, yet so similar."
"Frances, Ive never felt closer to you." They hug.
In the lobby, Steele and Donald continue the pursuit. "So, who is this gentleman were chasing?"
"Wendell Whittaker, a patient of mine. Well, actually Howies. He suffers from a classic case of tic de la roux. We were going to do a paper on it for the convention. Even brought an impression of his teeth to use as, you know, sort of a visual aid."
"This is all very fascinating, Donald, but why would this man kill for those teeth?"
They enter an empty seminar room. "Wendell has a bullion exchange. He trades in gold and precious metals. Apparently, hes under investigation for embezzling close to ten million dollars of his companys funds. When they found the body burnt beyond recognition, the police called me for the dental records to make a positive ID."
"And if Wendell Whittaker is officially declared dead, he becomes a very wealthy ghost." Theyre at the stage now.
"Wait a minute! Look, he has his teeth. That should be the end of it."
"I dont know, Donald. As long as you can examine that corpse and declare that it isnt Whittaker, I dont think weve heard the last of him." Steele looks all around them.
"What am I supposed to do? Run the rest of my life? I just cleaned my garage."
"The Man Who Knew Too Much."
"Look, Im willing to forget it if he is."
"Jimmy Stewart, Doris Day, Paramount, 1956." He looks behind the stage curtain nothing.
"What are we doing here, talking movies now?"
"What better way to formulate a plan to save your life and capture Whittaker?"
"Thats the one where Doris Day sings Que Sera, Sera."
"Ha! A meaningless musical interlude. The plot has a hired assassin planning to kill an ambassador at the exact moment the cymbals crash during a concert given at the Albert Hall."
"Good. That leaves me out. I dont play the cymbals."
"No need to. This is Albert Hall, and you deliver your paper at?"
"As good as any cymbal. Come on!" He pulls Donald behind the curtain.
The clock on the wall shows 2:50 PM. The room is filling up. Steele watches the audience from behind the curtain. Laura is now dressed up as a tube of toothpaste, so she can join the other costumed ladies at the convention. She taps Steele on the shoulder. He turns. "Ah, splendid."
"You really enjoy seeing me wear these outlandish not to mention demeaning costumes, dont you?" She adjusts her tube-cap hat.
"Laura, you told me yourself the secret to surveillance is to blend in."
She peeks out through a curtain opening. "Sometimes I wish Id stayed in the math department."
Frances joins them. "Laura, are you sure Donalds going to be all right out there?"
"Mr. Steele and I are covering the entire auditorium. Believe me, Frances, Wendell is not going to slip through."
"Time to squeeze out," Steele notes. Laura shoots him a dirty look. She makes her entrance, much to the audiences joy.
Donald tells Frances, "Why dont you go out front?"
"No, no, no I want to stay back here with you."
"Come on, you heard what Laura said. Nothings gonna happen. Nothing!"
"I know that." Frances sits down backstage.
"So do I." He takes a long pause. "The key to the safety deposit box is in the bureau drawer, under the socks."
"I thought thats where you kept the will."
"No. The will is under my shorts."
"Well, wheres the insurance policy?"
"Under your pantyhose!"
"Oh, Donald, dont talk like that."
The moderator walks by. "Ready to take a shot at this, Piper?"
The moderator comes out on stage and takes the podium. "Ladies and gentlemen, to open the afternoon session, our distinguished colleague from Connecticut, Dr. Donald Piper." The audience applauds as Donald makes his entrance. Frances watches him from stage left.
"Tic " Donald falters, then sees Frances on the side encouraging him. "Tic de la roux is a very interesting condition."
Steele peeks out from behind the curtain.
Donald continues. "Something hot, something cold, something sweet even a loud sound could send the mouth into excruciating pain."
A costumed and masked man bursts into the room. "Super tooth is here!" he exclaims, scattering toothbrushes.
"Stop that tooth!" Laura shouts. Steele obliges her by running out and tackling the guy.
"All right, Whittaker," Steele says as he peels off the mask. But its a stranger.
"Hey, this wasnt my idea. Some guy gave me twenty bucks to do this."
"What guy?" Steele asks.
The poor tackling dummy looks to the back, where we see Whittaker at the door. "Him!"
Whittaker draws his gun and prepares to fire at Donald. Steele dashes to the sound control board, hitting every switch he can and creating horrendous feedback. The shot goes wide, knocking the yellow windscreen off the mike, as Whittaker grabs his face in pain. Laura tackles him and sends him flying out the door.
Donald stands there in shock. "Tic de la roux. Even a loud noise could send the mouth into excruciating pain."
At the loft, Steele and Donald carry the last of the Pipers bags to the door.
"Go, go, go, go we go." Donald is happy to be returning home.
"Too bad we couldnt spend more time together," says Steele.
"Yes, yes," agrees Donald.
Laura and Frances already stand by the door. Laura is enjoying trying on Frances mink coat.
"Well, now that weve made contact, Im sure there will be many more visits," Frances tells them. She tugs at the coat; Laura laughs as she returns it.
"Next time, let it be in Connecticut," Donald says. "Its a lot quieter."
"Okay, you got a deal, Donald," Steele replies.
Steele kisses Frances goodbye. "What can I say Frances, its been wonderful." At the same time, Donald kisses Laura goodbye. Donald and Steele then shake hands, as the sisters hug.
"Donald. Take care of yourself."
In the confusion, Laura and Remington reach out and almost hug each other, but suddenly catch themselves and put their arms down, embarrassed.
Donald takes a wrapped package out of a suitcase and hands it to Laura. "A thank you for saving my life gift."
"Oh, how sweet," Laura coos, as she kisses Donald on the cheek.
Donald and Frances grab their bags and head out the door. More chit chat, promises to send kids pictures and to call, as they are finally gone.
Laura slides the door shut and puts Donalds gift on her home desk. Steele points at it and asks, "Arent you going to open it?"
"Arent you in the least bit curious?"
"You know me. I can go months without opening a present."
He considers it a moment. "Such willpower, eh?"
They stand there another moment, then Laura rushes over and rips the paper off the box. Its an enormous chocolate sampler, which must have come from the chocolate convention. Laura tries to hold out against temptation, then weakens. "Well, maybe just one."
"Thats what Ray Milland said just before he lost the weekend."