Steeling the Show
Transcribed from the episode written by:
Peter Lefcourt

A mansion on a quiet night. Suddenly the quiet is shattered by the sound of a woman's terrified screams and two gunshots. A light comes on in the house. As she continues to scream, another light comes on. The screaming woman flees her bedroom, wearing her nightgown, continually looking back over her shoulder as if frightened that she's being pursued. When she reaches the top of the stairs, she falls, lying at the bottom.

Another door opens upstairs, and an elderly man comes out, putting on his robe, as a younger woman comes from the room across the hall. "She's at it again!" the man says, chasing after the woman. She's no longer at the bottom of the stairs, and the old man calls out, "Veronica!"

The younger woman joins him. "Mother!"

The distraught woman is at a doorway. "He won't get me tonight. Not tonight!" she exclaims, then turns and runs into the darkness.


In Steele's office, Laura tells the younger woman, "From the sound of it, Miss Kirk, she hasn't been gone very long." She comes around to show us that Murphy is sitting on the edge of Steele's desk, listening. "Have you tried contacting the police?"

"I was hoping to avoid that if possible," Miss Kirk responds. "You see, my mother has- something of a -- medical problem."

"What's that?" Murphy asks.

"Tequila. Lots of it. That, and the fact that she's been virtual shut in for the past thirty years has given rise to - frequent lapses in memory, bouts of senility, and even - paranoid delusions. For the past two months, my mother's been convinced that someone's trying to kill her."

"And there's no basis for her fears?" Murphy asks.

"NO. Not if we're talking reality, there isn't."

"So, then," Laura concludes, "it's safe for us to assume that your mother is a -" she pauses, looking for the word.

Miss Kirk graciously finishes. "A four-star-loon."
Steele, whistling, enters through the agency doors carrying a newspaper.

Bernice quickly blocks his way: "Look at you! This is new, isn’t it? What a fabulous color for you!”
Unusual praise only causes a smug smile: "Let me guess, Miss Wolf. Laura is in my interviewing a prospective client and YOU’ve been posted HERE to prevent ME from joining THEM.”
"Laid it on that thick, did I?"
"With a trowel, I'm afraid."

"Look, just this once couldn't you let me win?"

"What? And ruin our perfect record?" He clicks his tongue and proceeds towards his office.
In Steele’s office Miss Kirk continues. "I was hoping your agency could handle this with the right sort of discretion," as Steele enters.
"Ahh, excellent. So glad you had to good sense to start without me, Miss Holt," he tells Laura as Murphy looks at him.

"Mr. Steele. I thought you were still -"

"At the mayor's office?" he asks. "What's the point? My views on crime are public knowledge. No, " he says, smiling at Miss Kirk, "this is where I can really make a difference. Eh, Mr. Michaels?"

"You certainly do make a difference, sir," Murphy responds, tongue in cheek.

Steele's attention is finally fully on the client. "Now. How can we be of service to you, Miss-" he asks, taking her hand.

"Kirk. Jennifer Kirk."

Laura explains. "Seems that her mother, Veronica is missing, and the case-"

"Kirk," Steele muses.

"Is complicated by the-"

"Veronica? Veronica Kirk?" Steele asks. "Not THE Veronica Kirk? Death's darling? The Camille of Gower Gulch?"

Jennifer looks bored. "I'm afraid so."

Laura is amazed. "You KNEW the Veronica Kirk was an actress?" she questions Steele.

"You didn't? Oh, it's true she hasn't made a picture in- must be nearly three decades-"

"Could be four- unless Phil Haver gets his way."

"Hmm? Who's Phil Haver?" Steele asks.

"He's a producer," Murphy tells him. "Urging Veronica to make a comeback."

"Oh, that's WONDERFUL," Steele exclaims, oblivious to Jennifer's displeasure.

"Phil Haver is a parasite," she tells him, "who bleeds pathetic old women of their trust funds."

"Oh," Steele says.

Laura comes around the desk. "MIGHT I have a word in private with you, Mr. Steele?"

"Oh, by all means," he agrees. "Excuse me," he tells Jennifer, watching her as he follows Laura from the office and into the reception area, leaving Murphy to do clean up work.

"It appears that I hit a sensitive nerve," he comments.


"My apologies," he says. "But the thought of being a mere relative away from Veronica Kirk, a veritable legend of the silver screen-"

"A deranged and drunken woman," Laura says, indicating that it is Jennifer's description.

"Perhaps legend is a bit strong- but the fact remains- Veronica Kirk WAS the queen of the B's."

"Bees as in buzz buzz?" she asks.

"B movies. Second feature in a double bill? They were made on a shoestring, no budget, no stars, just good acting, great scenarios, and plethora of inventiveness."

"If you can contain your thrill-"

"Thrill? Laura, Veronica Kirk was one of the GREATEST femme fatales of the cinema. She died in more films than any other actress around- and better, too. Better than Davis, better than Crawford, and for my money, better than Garbo."

"Well," Laura points out, "if I don't find her soon, she just may outdo herself."

"You're right. Time to reminisce once we are sure that she's safe."

"What makes you think that the mayor can SPARE you?" Laura wants to know.

"Laura. You can't be so cruel as to come between a man of my cinematic expertise and a star like- Veronica Kirk?" She looks thoughtful. "Can you?"


At a movie studio, Phil Haver is talking to a man. "What IS it with you art directors? Everything has got to be the Taj Mahal? Didn't you ever hear the expression: Less is more?" he asks as Laura and Steele approach him. He shoves the plans back at the man. "So give me more, just make it cost LESS." The man moves away.

"Mr. Haver?" Steele asks.

"Look, if you're an actor - just give your resume to--"

"Mr. Haver," Laura breaks in, "this is Remington Steele."

Haver looks impressed. "Remington Steele? The detective?" Across the stage, another man hears him as he talks with a woman. "Huh. Hey, how are ya?" The man steers the woman farther away. "Oh, uh, look, if my wife sent you, just tell her that I AM having an affair, and I'll send you some pictures if she wants." He laughs.

Steele joins him, Laura smiles, asks, "No, Mr. Haver. We're looking for Veronica Kirk."

"She seems to have disappeared."

"Her daughter thinks you might know where she is."

"That greedy little tramp will do anything to keep me from making this movie. Well, you tell her that I may or may not know where her mother is - But under NO circumstances will I tell HER. Why should I? So she can lock away my star in some loony bin? Uh uh." He holds up the script. "You- uh, you like movies?"

Steele clears his throat. "Miss Holt is not quite the film buff that I am, but- she's getting there."

"Well, I LOVE film," Haver declares. "I have,- I have ever since -since my parents took me to see Dumbo." We notice that the man who overheard him earlier is now listening from across the stage. "The magic really got to me. I was gonna break into this business, no matter what. So I ate, drank, and SLEPT film. And finally, one day, -" he snaps his fingers, "I made it."

Laura is bored, but Steele asks, "Really? And how did you get your start?"

"My father finally broke down and gave me a job," he confesses.

"About Veronica Kirk," Laura says, trying again.

"Picture this: In this film, she gets to play three different roles." Steele listens. "The queen of the Amazon tribe, the mother of a corrupt politician, and a TV anchorwoman. All three- DIE dramatically." Steele and Laura look at each other. "You get it?" Haver laughs. "Veronica Kirk DIES three times, in ONE movie."

"Oooh." Steele smiles insincerely. "Sounds splendid," he says.

Haver laughs again. "Are you kidding? Nostalgia SELLS. Veronica Kirk IS a gold mine. I wish I had ten more like her. But they're all gone. Crawford, Miriam Hopkins, Zasu Pitts. All the rest of em are doing guest shots on 'The Love Boat'. So, you tell that banshee who hired you that she does NOT control Veronica- or her money. Yet." He walks away.

Laura and Steele shake their heads, and start back toward the limo, only to be followed by the other man. "Mr. Steele!" he calls out as they near the car. "I'm Eddie Howell, Philip Haver's publicist" he says, shaking Steele's hand. "I think we can help each other."

"Oh?" Steele asks, removing his sunglasses. "How?"

"Haver's got Veronica stashed. I can tell you where."

"In exchange for?" Laura asks suspiciously.

"A half hour with her daughter and Mickey Prentice."

"Who's Prentice?" Steele asks. Laura nudges his arm. "Oh, yes. Mr. Prentice. I was examining his files this morning."

"There's a book in those people that'll make IN COLD BLOOD look like 'Leave It To Beaver'," Eddie says.

Steele glances at Laura, who lifts her head. "Very well, Mr. Howell, we'll see what we can do."

Eddie smiles, and Laura asks, "Where is she?"


That evening, Laura and Steele approach a motel room. Laura knocks. "Miss Kirk?" There's no answer. "Veronica Kirk?" Laura calls again, knocking once more.

"The manager didn't happen to give you a key, did he?"

Laura opens her purse and takes out her pick set. "Just the room number," she tells him.

"Shame," he comments, keeping an eye out.

"Didn't you used to DO this kind of thing?" Laura asks.



"Ah, of course." She hands him her kit, but he hands it back. "Bobby pin." She takes one from her hair and hands it to him. "Thank you." Steele works his magic, and the door is open. Laura doesn't have time to be impressed- because Veronica Kirk is laying on the floor beside the bed, unconscious. There are empty liquor bottles everywhere. They kneel at her side. "Oh, dear, oh dear, oh dear," Steele murmurs as Laura listens for a heartbeat.

"She's alive," Laura tells him. Finally, they help her sit up. "Miss- Kirk," Laura says. "Miss Kirk," she says again, as Veronica opens her eyes to look at Steele. "I'm Laura Holt," she says, "And I've been hired by your daughter to bring you home."

"Who's the dreamboat?" Veronica asks. "With the dimples?"

"My name's Remington Steele," he tells her, obviously in awe and concerned. "And I don't mind admitting, Miss Kirk, I'm your biggest fan."

"You are?" she asks as Laura uses a towel to wipe her face.

"Have been ever since I saw you in 'The Lady from Montana Mountains'. I wept for days."

"Dimples, you're makin' me blush."

"Come on. Put your arm around me," he tells her. "There we go. On the bed," he says as Laura straightens it for him. He helps Veronica to the bed. "Can I get you anything? Some coffee, perhaps? Put your legs up. That's it." He tucks her in.

"Yes, thank you. No sugar. No cream and a LOTTA of tequila." Steele looks at Laura.

"I'll wait in the manger's office for you know who," she tells him, leaving them alone.

Steele takes off his coat, kneeling by the bed as Veronica reaches for him. "You're not- really gonna make me go back to that house, are you, Dimples?"

"Now, now now, my dear," he says, holding her hand, "Your daughter's worried sick about you."

"My daughter? The only thing she's worried about is my money. For the last two months, somebody has been trying to kill me. Every moment I spend in that house, all I can see is the grim reaper, heading toward me. His shoes shined, his hair cut, determined to spend the night on the town with MY soul."

"'Bandit Betty'. Monogram, 1945," Steele identifies. "I've always loved that speech. So- So descriptive."

"Can the retrospective, Dimples. I'm talking reality. Why do think I ran? Because I like hiding out in cheap motels? Drinking myself into a stupor? No. I'm scared. My life ain't much, but it's all I've got. And I want to hang onto it," she tells him, near tears. "You send me back to that house, and I'm one dead dipso."

Steele looks troubled as he comforts her.

Laura and Jennifer approach the room. "How were you ever able get this out of Haver?" she asks.

"We're professionals," Laura informs her. "Divining information is something we do all the time."

"I knew he was at the bottom of this."

"Isn't there SOME way you can shield your mother's money from him?" Laura asks.

"Short of having her committed?" Jennifer suggests as Laura opens the door to the room- only to find it empty.


Veronica is in Steele's apartment, begging for her life. "Please. No." She falls, scrambling on her hands and knees toward the door. "Please." She seems terrified as she reaches up for the doorknob, then collapses into a corner, apparently dead.

Steele begins to applaud the performance. "MagNIficent! Brilliant!" He helps her to her feet. "Heart wrenching. 'Devil's Detour', Republic, uh - 1949."

She takes his arm, smiling, looking happier than she's been the entire time we've seen her. "Long ago and far away."

"Oh, I just can't believe you're here, dying on MY rug." They sit down on the sofa.

"Why, that's what I do best, Dimples."

"'Water Woman'. There was a WONDERFUL picture."

"Umm. I died of malaria in that one."

"'Savage Sagebrush'."

"Snakebite," Veronica recalls as Steele places two fingers on his arm, mimicking a snake's bite. Veronica laughs. "I did my soliloquy to the sagebrush AND the savages."

"Oh, what a time that must have been," he muses.

"Oh, yes, yes, yes. I played opposite all the near and near near greats. Caine Richmond. George Zukow, Sabu."

Steele laughs again as Veronica smiles. "Movies were really movies then, weren't they?"

"Not like today," she agrees, shaking her head.

"Uh uh" Steele agrees.
Veronica continues, "Video tapes, cable TV, you don't *even* have to watch them in the dark." Steele continues to agree with her as she says, "It's like *dreaming* with your eyes open."
"Oh, no fun at all". He stops takes a breath and excitedly asks her, "Tell me, what was Tom Neale really like?" Veronica gives an embarrassed laugh. The doorbell rings. "Ahh, excuse me" he says as gets up to answer the doorbell which continues to ring. Opening it, he finds a furious Laura in the hall. "Ahh, Laura."

"I want to talk to you, DIMPLES!" she rages, heading straight for the bedroom.

"I see you got my message!" he calls, moving to follow her as Veronica speaks.

"She your doxy, Dimples?"

"Laura Holt," he explains, as Laura takes his hand to pull him into the bedroom. "My most trustful, resourceful, - forgiving associate!" he says, as Veronica smiles.

Laura closes the door behind them. "Ethics," she says, facing him.

"You're understandably upset," Steele notices.

"You're obviously unfamiliar with the word, let alone the concept."

"However, I CAN explain out abrupt departure."

"I am licensed by the State of California-"

"That poor woman is beside herself with fear."

"To live by a code of professional ethics."

"She told me the most INCREDIBLE tale of terror."

"The Remington Steele Agency was hired to FIND Veronica Kirk, NOT to abscond with her!"

"I couldn't allow her to be returned to that house alone," Steele insists.

"Her daughter could have my license suspended for what YOU did."

"Someone is trying to KILL her!"

Veronica speaks from the doorway. "Old ladies and little children," she says, causing Laura and Steele to look at her.

"Miss Kirk," Laura begins.

"No one believes us. They accuse us of having active imaginations, as though that were some sort of a curse. It's our active imaginations that allow us to see the truth. Vividly. Someone is trying to kill me," she says again, looking now at Steele. "And I can PROVE it."

Laura looks at Steele.


The limo pulls through the gates to Veronica's house, and Mickey, who is tending rose bushes, looks up, coming forward as Fred opens the door and helps Veronica out. "Ronnie!" he says, his voice carrying a British accent. "Thank God you're alright."

He takes her arm. "Oh, it was the skull faced reaper, Mick." Steele smiles, as if hearing her say those words not for the first time. "I felt him at my shoulder, his razor scythe, glinting in the moonlight." Laura has a problem with the melodramatics and glances at Steele, noticing that he's enthralled by the speech. "And his rancid breath hot on my neck."

"I won't let him have you, Ronnie," Mickey assures her gently. "I'll never let him have you."

Veronica places a hand to his face. "Such a dear fool you are. A dear, sweet fool." He takes her hand. They start inside.

Laura and Steele linger. "Skull faced reaper with hot rancid breath, hey?" she comments.

"Oh, a bit colourful perhaps, but then, drama was her life."

"Still is," Laura says, as they turn toward the house, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Eddie Howell on foot, running toward them.


"What are you doing here?" Steele asks.

"Same as you- collecting my fee."

Steele isn't pleased, and Laura knows it. "I'm aware that we agreed to speak in your behalf, but now is not the most opportune time," Steele begins, turning away with Laura.

"Spare me your smooth lines, Steele. You wanted the old bird, I want an entrance. Anyway you slice it, I'm going in with you."

Steele grabs his coat with both hands, angry. "That OLD BIRD means a lot more to me than some hot copy for your rented typewriter," he says.

"You're gonna try to stiff me, right?" Howell accuses.

Laura puts a hand on Steele's arm. "We DID agree to help him, Mr. Steele," she reminds him. "And since this is hardly the place for a confrontation-"

"Very well," Steele agrees at last, releasing Howell. "Find someplace quiet to sit until I say otherwise. At least PRETEND you're a gentleman," he orders, then moves away with Laura, leaving an angry Howell to follow.


In Veronica's room, Mickey removes the coat she's got draped over her shoulders- probably Steele's. "Thank you, Mickey. Thank you," she says, turning to look for Steele and Laura as they enter. "There you are, Dimples. And HERE it was." She goes to stand beside the bed. "Now, I was asleep- over there. And a noise stirred me. And I saw a dark form at the edge of my bed, his gun cocked, pointed at me." Laura looks at Steele. "And I dared him to come one step closer. And he did. And I screamed. A horrible scream. And then he did it. He PULLED the trigger."

"You say a man STOOD at the edge of your bed," Laura clarifies, "and shot you with a gun at point blank range - and he-"

"Missed," Veronica confirms.

"Missed," Laura repeats.

"And they say that there is no God."

"Miss Kirk," Steele asks, "Any thoughts as to who it might be? Who might want to see you dead?"

"I can't imagine. I always thought I was loved the world over."

Laura is frustrated. "Perhaps you could offer a more- detailed description."

"Well, it was VERY dark. And I was still under the effects of my- medication."

"We've ALL been feeling the effects of you medication," Jennifer tells them, entering the room. "Thank you, Mr. Steele, for sparing this household any further embarrassment. If you'll wait downstairs, I'll make out a check just as soon as I've- secured the situation."

"Dimples," Veronica says, appealing to Steele.

"Just a moment, Miss Kirk," he says to Jennifer. "There's a simple enough way to judge if your mother's story bears any truth."

"Please don't humor her," Jennifer pleads.

"If the assassin fired from THERE, then the bullet must have traveled -" he follows the trajectory with his finger, pointing at a spot over the bed, next to a window. "To-here," he says, pulling back a curtain to reveal a bullet hole in the wall. "A rather convincing piece of evidence, wouldn't you agree, Miss Holt?"

Laura is stunned. "Yes," she agrees, looking first at Veronica, then at Jennifer. "I would."

"It certainly is," Jennifer agrees as well. "Except for the fact that it's thirty years old."

"How's that?" Steele asks.

"January 12, 1952 to be exact. It- arrived there shortly after passing through my father," she tells them, sitting down. "He was standing on the bed at the time, wearing - a smile, wasn't it, Mother?" Veronica sits on the bed, upset. "I'm told that the sixteen year old girl he had with him laughed hysterically. She thought it was a gag. Until the lights came on and she saw her brother, standing there with a smoking pistol." Steele watches Veronica through this. "Of course, we'll never know. By the time the police arrived, they were long gone. Oh, Hollywood just doesn't make scandals like that anymore," she sighs, standing up again.

"I think we're finished here, Mr. Steele," Laura says.

"It appears so," Steele agrees, and they start for the door. Jennifer gives her mother a last look, then follows them out, locking the door behind them as Veronica calls out.

"Will NO good soul believe me? Am I utterly, utterly abandoned?"

Jennifer looks at them. "Now you know why I wouldn't wish my life on a dog," she tells them as they hear something break downstairs and head that way, where they find Mickey threatening Eddie Howell with a vacuum cleaner. "Mickey!"

"I caught him in the library," Mickey explains, "Going through the files."

"I'm calling the police," Jennifer says.

"Great! That's just the kind of thing I can use," Howell tells her, causing her to pause. "Of course, it COULD get a bit messy when they find out I had an invite, right, Steele?"

"Your personality grows more winning by the moment, Mr. Howell," Steele says sarcastically.

"YOU brought him here?" Jennifer asks.

"He FOLLOWED us in," Laura explains.

"In exchange for telling them where your mother was," Howell tells her. "So just answer a few questions, and I'll go without noise. Prentice here was Veronica's stunt double. But after Edgar was murdered he started doubling him around here, am I right?"

"Who's Edgar?" Steele asks.

"Veronica's late, unlamented husband," Howell explains.

Mickey turns to Laura and Steele. "Edgar was a swine who grabbed at anything with hips. When he wasn't shaming Ronnie in the papers, he was usually hitting her with one."

"Ah, but he paid off in the end, didn't he, Prentice old boy? You took the insurance money he left and built it into a portfolio worth over three million. Sounds like more than a 'faithful companion' to me."

"Her life was shattered," Mickey insisted. "She had no one. Except Jennifer, a thirteen year old kid. You don't know what she was then. She was- a chrysalis. A nymph made of the finest gossamer. A creature from another world," he says dreamily.

"She still is," Jennifer points out. "Mars. Now, I think Mr. Howell-"

"Has overstayed his welcome," Steele agrees, taking the man's arm to drag him outside.

"Hey, hey, hey, I got some more questions."

"I'll do my best to answer them. If you'll excuse us," he says to Jennifer. "Miss Holt?" Laura turns and follows them out.

Steele lights the gas fireplace in his apartment, and sighs as he looks over at Laura who's sitting on the couch with a brandy glass
waiting for him to speak. He hesitates and then starts, "You have my deepest, sincerest apologies Laura."
"For anything in particular or shall I *bank* it for the future?"
"Spiriting Veronica out of that motel room was not *only* unethical it was *irresponsible*. I was so enthralled by her, so eager to protect her that I gave no thought to the consequences for you or for the agency."

"No, you didn't."

"If I were a better person," he decides, "I'd be doing more of this."

"Apologizing?" Laura asks.

"You must admit, since I elbowed my way into your life, it's been more complicated than it really needs to be. Seems I'm forever running off in the wrong direction. Crashing into this, knocking over that," Laura sits forward, "leaving you and Murphy to pick up the pieces."

She gets up and approaches him. "You know, at moments like this I wish I could call you something besides Remington Steele." She stands before him.


"Then I could say, Harry, or Charlie, or Cyril- you are good. And getting better all the time. You have wonderful instincts. About people. About cases. You've come a long way- Dimples, in a short time."

"Wonderful instincts, eh?" he repeats, leaning closer. "Even about you?" he asks as she leans toward him. The phone rings. "Must I?"

"Probably," she says, and he moves off as she takes a drink of brandy.

"Steele here."


"Yes, Veronica."

"How ya doin, kiddo?"

"Just fine, Veronica, and you?"

We see Veronica standing by the desk in her room."I don't know, Dimples. I think I just did a bad thing." She pulls a large caliber handgun from behind her. She looks at the gun- and then at the dead body of Eddie Howell, shot in the chest, dead on her bed.


Laura and Steele arrive at the Kirk mansion. Mickey lets them in. "Mr. Prentice," Laura says, moving past him toward the stairs with Steele at her side.

Jennifer, in the dining room, sees them. "What are YOU doing here?" she asks.

"Your mother called us," Steele tells her as he and Laura join her.

"Oh, you JUST missed her. Shame, too. It was quite a performance. Mother REALLY topped herself. I'm sure she would have LOVED for you to have seen it. Well, perhaps if you asked her nicely, she-" Jennifer pauses, placing a hand on her face. "Oh, but WHO would we get to play poor Eddie Howell?"

"Could we SPEAK to her, Miss Kirk?" Steele asks with an edge of temper.

"I don't know." She looks at Mickey. "I don't know. Do they HAVE visiting hours in the booby hatch?"

"Jennifer," Mickey scolds.

"You had her committed?" Laura asks.

"Oh, no, no no, Miss Holt. It wasn't MY decision. The took one look at her and practically shot putted her into the psychiatric ward."

"You're quite a cold woman, Miss Kirk."

"Do you think so?" she asks, picking up a cigarette and lighting it.

"Umm humm."

"Yes, I suppose I am. But then, cold people aren't born, they're made, don't you think? Do you have any idea what it was like to be Veronica Kirk's daughter? For my birthday parties, do you know what the entertainment was? My mother would die for us. I mean it. She'd come staggering into the room, clutching some part of her anatomy and gyrate and sputter and finally fall into a heap under the Pin the Tail on the Donkey board. It was rather funny when I was seven. It was tragic when I was fifteen."

Laura sneers. "But in the end, it was worth it."

"Oh, yes. Yes, I have fallen into a bit of- shall we say- good fortune? Which reminds me- now that I do have power of attorney over Mother's money, I certainly won't be requiring your services any longer, so I am DELIGHTED to inform you that you are discharged." She walks out.

Mickey starts to follow, but stops to say, "I can't believe Ronnie did it. I- I can't believe they took her away!"


At the hospital, a doctor is telling another doctor, "Look, I don't like putting your psychopaths in with Schwartz's schizophrenics either," as Laura and Steele come down the corridor. "But Maxwell is up to his armpits in manic depressives, and Nardic's neurotics are decompensating all over the place!" The other doctor leaves as they reach the man.

"Dr. Dudworth," Laura begins, "you are the psychiatric administrator, am I correct?"

"I've admitted to worse."

"It's urgent that we speak to one of your patients," Steele tells him. "Veronica Kirk?"

"Kirk," he muses. "Kirk. Oh, the shooter. You're not with the police?"

"Not exactly.," Laura says.

"Then you're relatives. I'll need proof of that, you understand."

"The fact is, we're private investigators hired to look into -" Steele tries to explain.

"Hold it. Hold it right there. If you're not relatives, you're not cops, you're not going anywhere. That's a locked ward for the criminally insane."

"But it's important that we speak with Veronica Kirk-" Steele begins.

"Hey. Not even Santa Claus gets in there on Christmas Eve," Dudworth tells them, then moves away.

Laura looks at Steele. "Well, we handled that one brilliantly, didn't we?"

He looks thoughtful. "It appears we simply weren't mad enough to get in," he tells her. Laura looks at him.


In Phil Haver's office, Haver's on the phone with someone. "Look, Arnold, I'll go a hundred thou a picture. That's TWICE as much as it cost to make those turkeys in the first place," he says as Laura opens the door. He waves her inside and keeps talking on the phone. "No, no, no. Get back to me, you bandit." He hangs up. "Tragic about Veronica, huh? What is this world coming to, huh?" The phone rings again, and he picks it up. "Yeah. So, what's it gonna be, Arnold?" He laughs as Laura looks at a contract laying on his desk. "Okay. No, you got me be the throat. Yeah. But not a penny more than one twenty five a picture. That INCLUDES roll by rights. Okay. Bye bye." He hangs up.

"You're buying the rights to Veronica's old films," Laura says.

"You READ upside down?" he comments, picking up the contract. "What are you? A William Morris agent?" He puts the contract into a folder and puts it in a file cabinet. "Somebody's gonna grab em. They're worth a fortune. She was never this hot, even in her hey day."

"I didn't mean to intrude in your hour of grief, Mr. Haver, what with your publicist dead and your star accused of the murder."

He turns to face her. "It's all showbiz sweetie. A guy guns down forty people. The first thing he does is call his publisher. Why shouldn't I cash in? I was willing to back that old biddy when nobody else would touch her."

"What was Eddie Howell's function on this project?"

He shrugs. "Drum up interest in the picture."

"Was he working on a book about Veronica?"

"No. Feature articles, magazine layouts. Stuff like that."

"Could I take a look at his files?"

"What for?"

"Mr. Steele isn't totally convinced Veronica killed him."

"She was standing over the body, with the murder weapon in her hand. What does he want? Howard Cosell and instant replay?"

"A motive, would be helpful."

"She doesn't need a motive. She's nuts. Didn't you ever see 'Psycho'?"

"I would THINK it would be in your best interests to clear Veronica so you can get your picture made."

He chuckles. "If my father, one of the finest, most respected distributors of erotic films, taught me anything, it was insurance. Everytime you make a picture, you gotta insure ALL the actors against-" he ticks them off on his fingers. "Accidents, illnesses, acts of God, that sort of thing. I am gonna make a TON on this picture, without rolling a FOOT of film."

"You are a ghoul, Mr. Haver," Laura says.

"Careful, sweetie," he cautions.

"First you con an old woman into investing in your picture, then you make a profit on her pain.
How's that for a motive? Sweetie?"

Haver stands up, angry. "If you were a man-"

"If I were a man," Laura says, "I would have broken your face by now." She turns and walks out.


At the hospital, Murphy drags a strait jacketed Steele onto the psych ward. Steele is growling like a dog. "Someone help me with this animal?" Murphy asks. He stops at a desk, showing a badge to a doctor there. "Sargent Milton, Wilshire Division. Got a stray for you." Steele growls, lunging for the doctor, who jumps back. "HEEL!" Murphy orders, jerking Steele back. "We're twenty minutes from the end of the watch when I get a 219," he tells the doctor as others look on. "Traffic disturbance. Seems Fido here decided to chase a bus." Steele is still growling. "Looked like he was trying to bite the tires or something," Murphy says, laughing slightly. "You should have seen what he did to my partner. He's in the ER right now, getting stitched up." Steele's growling gets louder. "Can we put this animal in a cage or something and deal with the paperwork later? It's been a long night!"

"Yeah, sure. Clifford! Elroy! Get this guy up to the CI Ward." Two orderlies take Steele from Murphy. He struggles. "And if he gives you a rough time, shoot him with 25 mil of thorazine."

Steele glances at Murphy, who pulls a rawhide bone from his pocket. "I kept him quiet in the car with one of these," he says, putting the bone into Steele's mouth. Steele glares menacingly as the two men drag him away.

"Seems like the worst ones always come out at night," the doctor says.

"Yeah, well, you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen, huh?" Murphy says, putting an arm across the doctor's shoulders as he laughs. He gives the man a slap on the back then leaves.

The orderlies take the growling Steele to a door, unlock it, then push him inside. He starts howling, and spits out the bone, then gets out of the straitjacket in a move that would have made Houdini proud. The other occupants of the room surround him, curious. "Good evening. Any of you chaps know where I might be able to find Veronica Kirk?"


Laura sneaks into Haver's office and goes to the file cabinet, quickly locating Veronica's file. She's looking at it when she sees another flashlight beneath the door. She hides, only to get up as she finds it's Murphy. "Murphy."

"Oh, man, what's taking so long? The guard's making his rounds."

"Got it," she says, holding up the file.

"Well let's get back to the hospital, then."

"How'd it go there?" she asks.

"He does the BEST Russian Wolfhound imitation I've ever heard." They both laugh.

"I bet you really enjoyed that part, didn't you?"

"He just looked so- right in that straitjacket, though."

"Don't get too comfortable with the image. Now we've got to get him out of there."

"Yeah. Every plan can't be perfect." They laugh again and leave the office.


Evading the guard on duty, who's engrossed in a comic book, Steele begins his search for Veronica, using his flashlight to peer into various rooms. He knocks over a mop and hides as the man looks through the glass wall. Seeing nothing, he returns to his entertainment. Steele gets up.

Veronica is in a room, in bed, talking. "You wanted me dead ever since the war began, Wolfgang. Well, call your soldiers. I need no blindfold. Just a cigarette in my mouth, and the sun at my back." Steele enters.

"Veronica. It's me."

"Dimples. They got you too, huh?"

"Strictly voluntary," he assures her, coming to the bedside.

"How did you get around all those Stormtroopers?" she asks.

"Dogged enthusiasm," he tells her. "Veronica, I need to know what happened last night in your bedroom."

She blushes. "You're getting awfully personal, sweet stuff."

"I'm talking about the shooting of Eddie Howell."

"Oh that. Well, as I recall, I was fast asleep, and I felt someone shake me. When I came to, I was all alone. And there was a gun in my hand. I didn't remember having brought one with me to bed. So I put the light on. And there he was."

"You don't recall any shots being fired?" he asks.

"I don't think so. But- with this noggin, Dimples- who knows?"

"We're going to get you out of here," he tells her, releasing the restraints.

"But we're surrounded by a battalion of Germans," she tells him.

"Did that stop Bernadette of Berlin?" he asks.

"Only for a reel or two."

He looks at his watch. "I'm counting heavily on the Allies," he assures her.


Laura, wearing a severe black suit, glasses, and her hair up, walks confidently down the corridor toward the nurses station. She places her briefcase on the desk and confronts the young doctor who Murphy spoke to earlier. In a nasal voice, she says, "Good evening. Millicent Wertner, State Board of Health. We'd like to inspect your CI Wards."

"It's three in the morning," he informs her.

"If you were as conversant as you should be with Section 18, Paragraph 6, Article 5 of the State Board Governing Minimum Hospital Standards for Requisite Maintenance and Operation, you would know that a representitive of the board CAN ask for an inspection, and I quote: 'at any time he or she may determine necessary and that no prior contact or warning need be given for said inspection'."

"Sorry, I don't think I can spare the time-"

"Are conditions so wretched up there that you're afraid to let us see without a hasty whitewash? Don't think that we don't know how you urban hospitals operate."

"It's not that," he insists. "But I don't have the authority to -"

She picks up the phone. "Well, then, we'll call your superior and inform him-"

"Wait a minute!" he says, grabbing the phone and hanging it up. "Look, if I wake Dudworth up at this hour with something like this, he'll keep me on night duty til my hair falls out. Will this take long?"

"If everything's in order, ten minutes- tops."

"Alright. Come with me, Miss-"

"Wertner," she tells him, picking up her briefcase. As they walk down the corridor, Murphy approaches from the other end, now dressed as an orderly, wearing dark rimmed glasses and pushing a wheelchair. He goes to the elevator and gets inside.

Laura and the doctor approach the CI Ward. He's frustrated by the guard's comic book. "Wesley, put your studies away and open up," he says.

"What gives?"

"Just open up, will ya," he orders. The man unlocks the door, and starts to sit down again.

"Uh, you come with with us," Laura says.

"What did I do?" he asks.

"Don't ask any questions, Wesley," the doctor insists. "Just do what she says, okay?" The two men enter ahead of Laura, who places tape on the door latch as she passes to prevent it locking before she joins them.

Steele, hearing the footsteps, waits til they pass, then looks out. He turns back to the room and pulls out a gurney with Veronica on it. He gets her out of the CI Ward, and to the elevators, where Murphy is waiting.

"Right on schedule, Fido," Murphy comments.

"I've got a bone to pick with you," Steele says. "Or should I say biscuit?" They wheel the gurney into the elevator and the doors close. When they open again, Steele is wearing a white coat, and Veronica is in the wheelchair as Murphy straightens the sheets over a pillow on the gurney.

"You mustn't speak English," Veronica warns. "They'll spot us for sure."

Steele starts out, asking Murphy, "Sprechen die deutsch, Murphy?" He clicks his heels. They both leave the elevator, Murphy using the gurney as blind to get Veronica out.


Back at his apartment, Steele changes clothes. While he's putting on his jacket, Veronica admires his movie posters.
"Ingrid Bergman and *Myrna* Loy, now they were movie stars." She looks at him. "I would have given anything to have made one good 'A' picture. Even if I didn't die in it." She gazes at the posters.

He hugs her. "You'll outshine them all, Veronica, just as soon as we clear you of these monstrous charges," he assures her, joining Laura and Murphy as they study the file she took.

Murphy hangs up the phone. "The preliminary autopsy's no help. Single bullet wound, entrance, exit wound, through the heart."

Laura indicates Veronica, who's still enthralled by the movie posters. "Is it all right if we talk in front of her?"

"Oh, of course," he assures her. "She's lost in the stars."

Laura says, "With Veronica practically convicted of Howell's murder, it seems everyone got exactly what they wanted."

"Jennifer has her inheritance without the bothersome formality of her mother's death," Steele says.

"And Haver has a clear profit without having to spend a dime." She looks up. "Veronica, when did you first meet Eddie Howell?"

"Oh, about- two months ago. When that nice Mr. Haver asked me to grace his next production."

Murphy looks at Laura. "Two months ago, she began to think somebody was trying to kill her."

"And did you spend a lot of time with him?" Laura asks.

"Oh, yes. Hours and hours. Why, he practically phoned me every day. He wanted to know everything about me. About my childhood, my love affairs- and that whole beastly thing with Edgar."

"Who's Edgar?" Murphy asks.

"My late deceased husband," Veronica tells him. "But he was so interested. It's a shame I had to plug the kid. You know, good PR is very important in this business."

"Seems odd," Steele notes, "Why would a man risk breaking into someone's house when he had access to them by telephone?"

"He might have been looking for something," Murphy points out.

"And if Howell spent all those hours talking to Veronica, why is there only one sheet in her file?" She shows it to Murphy

"Joseph Twain, RFD 49, Ventura."

Steele looks at it. "Veronica, does the name Joseph Twain ring any bells?"

"Mark's boy?" she asks.

Steele laughs gently. "I'm afraid not."

"Well," Murphy begins.

"They say Ventura's lovely this time of year," Laura says, smiling.


The next day, the limo arrives at a farmhouse. Steele, Veronica, Murphy and Laura get out. Someone starts shooting at them from the house. After the second shot, Veronica tells Steele, "The third shot is my cue." Steele looks down at her, concerned. But she never gets a chance to play the scene as a car come tearing out from behind the house and drives off quickly. "That's Jennifer's car!" Veronica exclaims. "I've TOLD her not to drive that fast!"

The four of them get up and go into the house, where they find Twain, sitting in a chair, shot through the heart. "Our timing in this case has been less than impressive," Steele comments.

Murphy pulls the man forward. "The bullet went clean through. It's embedded in the chair." He looks at Laura and Steele. "You wanna bet the same gun that killed him killed Howell?"

"That's one wager I'll be delighted for you to win, Murphy," Steele agrees.

Veronica has been studying the man's face. "Oh dear GOD," she says.

"Who is it, Veronica?"

"The officer. The policeman who was at the house the night that Edgar was shot. Oh, he was hostile at first, so unbelieving of the story we told. And then, -Mickey. Mickey had a talk with him. Downstairs, in the parlour. And after that, why, he was a sweet as pie. He wrote the report for me. Even helped me memorize it for the inquest. He was very good at cueing me, too. I sailed right through it."

"Did you see him after that?" Laura asks.

Veronica thinks. "Once. He came to the house. Had a drink with Mickey, and went away smiling."

"What story did you tell, Veronica?" Steele wants to know.

"Oh, well, you know. It was in all the papers. For months, it seemed. Then one day, like a storm cloud, it just- went away. And, I could cuddle up with a nice hot rum, and just forget all this awfulness. You know, I can't remember why I switched from rum to tequila? Why, I always liked rum better."

"What story did you tell the night Edgar died?" Steele asks again.

She frowns. "Oh, that we- Mickey and I - had been, - oh, and I really hated- I hated to tell a dirty lie like that. But Mickey said we had to. To protect -you know-"

"You said- the two of you were together," Laura says.

"In a motel," Veronica confirms. "And when we got home, there was poor Edgar, already deceased."

"But you weren't in the motel," Murphy guessed.

"Oh, no. I would never do something like that. No matter how many times Mickey tried to get me into one. After all, I was a married woman. I had a daughter. Poor Jennifer. She was thirteen when it happened. He was a louse, Edgar was. He beat up on that poor kid something fierce. I tried to stop him, but then he'd start whackin' me around." She's almost in tears.

"Where was Jennifer that night?" Steele questions.

"Home with him," Veronica confirms.

"Alone?" Laura asks.

"Mickey said we had to lie. It was my gun. And they would either blame me, or- I wanna tell you something, Miss Holt, Edgar had it coming. In spades." Steele puts his hand on her arm to comfort her.


Steele, Laura and Veronica return to the Kirk house, where Mickey greets them. "Ronnie. Are you all right?"

"Just dusty, Mick. Have we got any rum?"

"Come inside," he tells her. They go inside, Laura and Steele following.

Jennifer is waiting. "Oh, you people are incredible. You help my mother escape from a mental hospital, and then you bring her back here."

"This is where it began, Jennifer," Steele tells her. "Thirty years ago."

"Whoever killed Eddie Howell also killed a man named Joseph Twain, and for the same reason: Your father's murder," Laura informs her.

"I'm afraid you have the wrong Kirk," Jennifer says. "Murder is my MOTHER'S area."

Steele tells her, "She has three very reputable witnesses who can swear she was with them when Twain was killed."

Laura steps forward. "And those same witnesses saw your car leave the murder scene this afternoon."

"I've been in the house all day. And besides, I don't know anybody named Twain."

"He investigated your father's death."

"I was THIRTEEN years old," Jennifer reminds them.

Laura turns to Mickey. "You paid Twain off, didn't you?" she asks.

"With a part of Edgar's insurance money," he confirmed. "Yes."

"As the investigating officer," Laura points out, "he was free to devote all his energy into looking for a nonexistent brother and his sixteen year old sister. Only in talking to your mother, Howell began to piece together what really happened that night."

"And he began to realize that the story your mother and Mr. Prentice told was a lie," Steele chimes in. "A lie concocted to protect a frightened, perhaps justified, but none the less guilty thirteen year old."

"You're as batty as my mother!" Jennifer insists, heading toward the stairs.

"Jennifer!" Veronica calls, following, as do the others. Upstairs, Jennifer's starting into her room, turns as her mother says, "Jennifer, I never wanted to believe it was you. But after all who else COULD it have been?"

"YOU," Jennifer suggested. "You HATED him. There wasn't a week that went by that the police weren't out to this house to break up a donny brook between dear old mummy and daddy. You even shot at him before!"

"But I always missed," Veronica reminded her.

"Howell intended to write a book about the murder," Steele points out. "They seem painfully fashionable, these days."

"That's why he wanted to talk to you and Mr. Prentice," Laura adds.

"You lured him here, probably with the promise to tell him everything," Steele guesses.

"Instead, you shot him and dragged him into your mother's room," Laura says.

"When you can prove that," Jennifer challenges, "you give me a call." She starts into her room, but Steele stops her with his next words.

"There's an interesting bit of information from Howell's autopsy," he says. "It seems the bullet passed clean through him. NOT unlike your father's untimely demise."

"Mind if we check your room for the slug?" Laura asks.

"Check every room in the house."

Steele starts to open the door across the hall. "No," Mickey says. "That's my room, Steele."

"Oh?" Steele asks, gazing thoughtfully at the old man. "Sorry."

Laura looks at Mickey. "Is there any reason we shouldn't go in there, Mr. Prentice?"

"As good a place as any to start, eh, Mick?" Steele asks.

Mick approaches him, his hand in his pocket. "No!"

"You know, Mr. Prentice," Laura notes, "every time we mention Jennifer's name in connection with Howell, we also mention yours. And if you were Veronica's alibi the night her husband was killed- then she was yours."

"Ah, you mean where was Prentice the night that Edgar became an unfortunate statistic?" Steele asks.

Mickey pulls the gun. Laura raises her hands. "As you just pointed out," he says, motioning for her to join Steele and Jennifer, "this is a particularly powerful weapon. Puts a bullet right through a person."

"Mickey!" Veronica cries out, distracting him. Steele lunges for him, the gun goes off, inches away from Veronica, who goes into her "act", clutching her chest and tumbling down the stairs.

Mickey leads the way down the stairs, "Ronnie," he says, cradling Veronica's head in his arms. "You're the one person I never wanted to hurt," he says.

Veronica opens her eyes, looking up at him. "I just realized something, Mick. You're as big a louse as Edgar."


In Steele's office, Laura pours coffee for herself and Murphy as she says, "Poor Prentice. He was in love with Veronica from the moment he first fell off a butte for her in 'Waco Wendy'."

"Everything was fine as long as she didn't leave the house," Murphy says, and Laura nods. "That's why he tried to frighten her into dropping Haver's movie with those phony attempts on her life."

"But," Laura pointed out, "When she began talking to Howell, he was terrified their secret would come out."

"That's why he put Howell's body in her room. She's be committed, nobody would ever believe a word she said.

"That's right."

Bernice comes in. "You won't believe what just walked in," she tells them.

Laura rises as Steele, looking like a star, sunglasses, scarf, camel hair coat, carrying a script, walks in. "Sorry I'm late. Just got back from the set." Murphy puts his hand over his face. "Been running lines with Veronica. She's doing a guest spot on 'The Love Boat'." He comes around to sit beside Laura. "Wonderful part. Explores the full range of her talents. She falls down a funnel and dies."

Laura chuckles. "Can I ask you something, Dimples?"

"Of course."

"What made you go to Prentice's door?"

"Why, Laura, you said it yourself." He pulls the sunglasses down to look at her. " My infallible instincts." They both laugh.

The End