- Steeling the
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
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
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
"I was hoping to avoid that if possible," Miss Kirk
responds. "You see, my mother has- something of a -- medical
"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
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,
isnt 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 YOUve been
posted HERE to prevent ME from joining THEM.
- "Laid it on
that thick, did I?"
- "With a trowel,
"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 Steeles
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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,"
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
"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
"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
"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
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."
"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?"
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,
"You're understandably upset," Steele notices.
"You're obviously unfamiliar with the word, let alone the
"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,"
"Her daughter could have my license suspended for what YOU
"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
"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
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
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
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
Laura is frustrated. "Perhaps you could offer a more- detailed
"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
"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
"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
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
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?"
Veronica out of that motel room was not *only* unethical it was
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.
"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
"You're quite a cold woman, Miss Kirk."
"Do you think so?" she asks, picking up a cigarette
and lighting it.
"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-"
"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,
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,"
"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?"
"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
"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
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
"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
"How did you get around all those Stormtroopers?" she
"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
"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.
"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
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
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
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
"And if Howell spent all those hours talking to Veronica,
why is there only one sheet in her file?" She shows it to
"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
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
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,"
Veronica has been studying the man's face. "Oh dear GOD,"
"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
"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
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
"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?"
"With a part of Edgar's insurance money," he confirmed.
"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
"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
"That's why he wanted to talk to you and Mr. Prentice,"
"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.
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
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
"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
"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.
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?"
"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