- You're Steele My
- 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
"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
"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,
"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,
"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,
"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
"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
"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
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
"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,
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
"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
"As I said, perhaps she's just lonely," Steele said
as the door opened and a dark haired woman stood there, smiling
"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,"
"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
"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",
"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...
- Back Home CaseBook
- Original content ©2000
by Nancy Eddy