You're Steele My Valentine
Part Two
Laura waited by the car as Steele escorted Helen Baxter back to her apartment. The list of friends and places that her son Norman liked to visit wasn't long. Apparently the man lived for his work, and his only escape was exploring various places around Los Angeles. Places like Griffith Park, and old movie retrospectives. That last had certainly gotten Mr. Steele's attention, Laura noted as she saw him returning.

"Where do you suggest we start?" he asked, taking the keys she held out and opening the passenger door for her.

"Why not start in Malibu?" she said as he got into the other side of the Rabbit. Glancing at the address on the paper that Helen had given her, she said, "Unless you have something you can't postpone waiting for you at home"

"Not a thing," he assured her. "Malibu it is."

The house was on the beach, with a full deck surrounding it's windowed walls. Seeing that the interior appeared unlit from within, Laura frowned. "I hope someone's home to talk to us. I hadn't thought about the fact that they might have gone out for the evening."

"One way to find out," Steele pointed out, and exited the car to move toward the set of steps that would take him onto the porch. Laura got out of the car and followed him, catching up as he pressed the doorbell.

A woman answered the door. "Can I help you?" She was evidently dressed to go out, Laura noticed.

"We're looking for a Dr. Norman Baxter," Laura informed the woman.

"Not another one," she sighed. "Mitch!" she called over her shoulder. "You'd better get out here!"

"Is there some problem, Mrs.-" Steele questioned.

"Dawson," she supplied. "Look, I don't know WHO this Dr. Baxter is, but he doesn't live here. My husband and I bought this house when we got married four years ago. Mitch!"

"Coming, Leslie," a man responded, entering their field of vision as he tried to finish fastening the cuffs on his dress shirt. "Damn cufflinks." He stopped as he saw Laura and Steele on the doorstep. "What's up?" he asked his wife.

"They're looking for that doctor. You know, the one the old lady keeps calling and asking about?"

"Baxter?" Mitch Dawson asked, looking at Steele. "Listen, Mr.-"

"I'm Remington Steele," he told them. "And this is my associate, Laura Holt. Mrs. Baxter has asked us to look into the matter of her son's disappearance."

"Steele?" Dawson's eyes were wide. "The detective? Thought you looked familiar."

"Look, Mr. Steele," Leslie said, obviously not as impressed. "The woman's crazy. She was calling her every ten minutes, insisting that her son had to be here, that he'd lived here for ten years. The house wasn't even BUILT until five years ago. Mitch and I were the first owners. I had to change the telephone number to get some peace and quiet. I think she needs help, but not anything a private detective can do. Mental help, if you get my drift." She pointed to her head.

"Now Leslie," Mitch said in a chiding tone. "She's probably simply confused, has been dialing the wrong number all this time. You know how old people can be."

Laura held out the photograph that Helen had placed into her keeping. "You've never seen this man, then?" She watched their faces carefully.

"No. Of course, it's hard to tell. Not a very clear picture, is it?"

"Well, *I* can tell," Leslie insisted. "I've never seen the man. And you know what? I don't think he even exists at all." She looked at Mitch. "We're going to be late."

Mitch gave Laura and Steele an apologetic smile. "It's our anniversary. We're going out- Sorry we couldn't be of any help."

Steele nodded, and took Laura's arm. "Sorry we disturbed you. Have a nice evening."

In the car, Steele was silent as Laura replayed the conversation with Mitch and Leslie Dawson. "I think they're lying," she said. "There's something about them that seemed phony."


"Didn't you feel it? They were just a little TOO happy. TOO insistent that Norman Baxter didn't exist."

"Laura, maybe he doesn't," Steele said into the quiet of the car.

She turned to look at him with surprised eyes. "What?"

"Maybe the old woman just wants attention. Maybe Leslie Dawson is right and she's a four star loon."

"No one would go to all this trouble," she insisted, holding up the addresses and photo, "just to get attention, Mr. Steele."

"Lonely people have been known to go to great lengths to get attention, Laura," he said.

"Look, if you want to back off from this, be my guest. But *I* promised Helen that I was going to do my best to find her son. You can call a cab-" she said, but Steele shook his head.

"I never said that I wouldn't help, Laura. Perhaps if we show her irrefutable proof that her son doesn't exist, she'll stop living in her fantasy world. Where to next?"

"Well," Laura said, consulting her list again. "Dr. Baxter's clinic is between here and his regular Friday night stop."

"It's too late for anyone to be at a medical clinic," he pointed out. "Where does he usually go on Friday evenings?"

"An old movie retrospective at the Rialto," she told him.

Steele grinned as he put the car into gear. "At least the evening won't be a total loss, then, eh?"

The clinic wasn't totally deserted, after all, they discovered. There was a light on inside the building. "Probably cleaning people," she said. "But who better to ask?"

Steele followed her. "Laura," he tried to say as she knocked on the door.

"They won't answer the front door," she told him. "Let's see if there's a back door, shall we?"

"Laura-" he said again, this time grabbing her arm to stop her and turn her toward the name plaque on the wall beside the door. "Read."

"Lambert Clinic," she read obediently. "Dr. Marcus Lambert, M.D." No other doctors were listed. "Well, maybe he just recently joined the clinic," she temporized. "And they haven't added his name."

"Mrs. Baxter said he'd started the clinic with his old friend from medical school," Steele reminded her.

"She could have been mistaken," Laura said with some hesitation.

"Why don't we check out the theatre?" Steele suggested. "Perhaps someone there has seen this mystery man and can give us some information."

"I thought you said he didn't exist?"

"I said it was a possibility," he amended.

Laura cast another glance at the clinic, then nodded. "Okay, Mr. Steele. Let's go to the movies

The Rialto was a restored movie house, complete with neon lettering and huge marquee which proudly announced the current double feature: "An Affair To Remember" and "Arsenic and Old Lace".

"Ah, Cary Grant," Steele mused softly.

"You're drooling, Mr. Steele," Laura commented as she opened her door. "Well, shall we?"

The middle-aged woman in the ticket booth smiled brightly when they approached. "Mr. Steele. I didn't think you'd miss seeing Cary. But I didn't expect to see you here this evening, either."

Laura looked at Steele. "You've been here before."

"A few times," he admitted. "And not as often as I used to be. Uh, Mary," he said quickly before Laura could say anything else. "This is Laura Holt, my associate. We're looking for someone-" he held out his hand toward Laura for the photo. "Dr. Norman Baxter. His mother says that he spends every Friday evening here." He passed the photograph into the booth.

Mary put on her black rimmed reading glasses to examine the image. "Not a good picture," she commented. "Dr. Baxter, you say?" She shook her head, handing it back through the opening. "Sorry. I don't recall anyone by that name. And I know all the regulars by name."

"You're sure?" Laura questioned.

"Look, Miss Holt, I've been taking tickets here since this place reopened four years ago, and I've been here every night except for Sundays. If this Dr. Norman Baxter was here on Friday nights, I'd have seen him."

"Hmm," Laura murmured thoughtfully.

"Two tickets, Mr. Steele?" Mary asked.

Steele glanced at Laura, only to discover that she was halfway to the car. "Laura! What about the movie?"

"Later, Mr. Steele," she told him, opening the door. "I think it's time we talk to our client again."

Steele shrugged at Mary. "I'll see you Monday," he told her. "With or without Miss Holt."

"You really should bring her with you, Mr. Steele. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr aren't something you should watch alone."

"I'll try," he promised. "Thanks."

"Coming, Mr. Steele?" Laura called out.

"On my way," he returned, moving toward the car.

They parked before Mrs. Baxter's building and went inside. "Laura, be gentle with her," Steele warned. "She's obviously disturbed-"

"She's going to be MORE disturbed when I tell her that he son doesn't even exist," Laura told him, stopping before a doorway marked "1C". Lifting her hand, she knocked once.

"As I said, perhaps she's just lonely," Steele said as the door opened and a dark haired woman stood there, smiling at them.

"May I help you?"

Laura tried to peer around the woman to see inside the apartment. "We're looking for Helen Baxter," she explained.

"I'm afraid you've got the wrong apartment," the woman said. "I live here alone. And I don't know anyone by that name." She closed the door.

"Maybe she gave me the wrong apartment number," Laura said, then glanced at Steele. "When you brought her back here, is THIS the apartment she went into?"

He tugged his ear. "I left her here, at this door," he said.


"Truth be told, Laura, she didn't actually go INTO the apartment. She said she had to go see a friend of hers in the building."

"Did she mention a name? An apartment number?"

"No. She didn't."

Laura knocked on the door again. Seeing who it was, the apartment's occupant frowned. "Look, I told you, Miss-"

"I know. I was just wondering if you know anyone in the building who's in her late sixties, early seventies, gray hair, wears a worn out dark coat?"

"Sorry. Everyone in the building is younger than I am. Anything else?"

"No," Laura said. "Thank you. Sorry to have bothered you." She turned from the door. "Why do I have the feeling that I've just stepped into the "Twilight Zone", Mr. Steele?"

"The Twilight Zone?" he questioned. "Twilight Zone: The Movie? Vic Morrow, et al, Warner Brothers, 1983?"

Laura shook her head as if in a daze. "No. THE Twilight Zone. Rod Serling, various cast. CBS, 1959-1965," she explained, pushing the door open to leave the building.

To Be Continued...
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Original content ©2000 by Nancy Eddy