Thou Shalt Not Steele
Transcribed by: Jan Andrews
From the episode written by:
Lee Zlotoff

It is night, and inside a museum, laser beams are flashing across the floor. In a corridor, a figure dressed in black and wearing a ski mask is trying to swing to a switchbox on the wall. After several attempts the person manages to hook a rope around the switchbox. A guard is in another room with his back to the open doorway, brushing a set of false teeth with a toothbrush. The thief opens the switchbox and moves some wires. The sensor lights in the floor turn off and the person drops to the floor, unhooking the ropes. The guard continues to clean his false teeth.

The thief approaches the corridor with the laser beams, bending down to remove a small box on wheels with an antenna. Using a remote control the thief sends the small robot down the corridor passing the guard, whose back is not facing the door as he picks his teeth, which are now in his mouth. When the robot reaches a control panel in the wall, the thief places the antenna against the panel, causing it to blow a fuse. The laser beams stop and the thief runs down the corridor and into a room. On the wall, there is a painting of five women reclining in various states of undress, one of them playing a lute. The thief holds out a small sensor and walks towards the painting. Suddenly, the alarm goes off. The guard drops his dental pick and rushes out. The thief tries to grab the painting but it is secured to the wall. Quickly, the thief leaves the room. Two guards run down the corridor and into the room, flashing their lights onto the painting.


A slide of the same painting is being shown to Steele in his office. "'The Five Nudes of Cairo'," he says.

There are two other men in his office. "Then you are familiar with the painting?" asks one of the men, a bearded middle-eastern man.

"Only from reading."

"Possibly our most important acquisition," comments the other, grey-haired man as Steele continues to use a remote to click through a series of slides showing various close-ups of the painting.

"It represents the absolute *peak* of Pouset's(?) career," says the bearded man, "and it was actually painted on Egyptian ground during the building of the .."

"Suez Canal," finishes Steele.

The man is surprised, "I see your reading must be quite extensive."

"The work does have a rather colourful history," replies Steele with a faint smile.

"We have good reason to believe this is what the thief was after," informs the grey-haired man.

"Which is why I insist we must remove it from display and place it in the vault immediately or give it to Mr. Steele for safe-keeping," says the bearded man.

"Out of the question. The insurance company will only cover us if the painting remains in the museum. Besides, the exhibit is due to open tomorrow. The promotion, the media campaign. We're simply too close to stop all that."

"Mr. Steele, please explain to this philistine that if we lose this painting there will be no exhibit!" appeals the bearded man.

"Now spare us your precious temper, Achmed," placates the grey-haired man, "The alarm system proved effective enough and I'm confident Mr. Steele *knows* how to catch a thief."

"Alarm systems," scorns Achmed making a spitting motion in disgust before turning to Steele. "I tell you, Steele, this thief will not sleep until the 'Nudes' are in his arms."

"Yes, well I appreciate your mutual concern of the situation gentlemen, however, I'm afraid there is nothing my agency can do for you."

"What?" the grey-haired man is stunned.

"I'd only be too glad to suggests some others if you'd like."

"But you come so highly recommended. I realize the money may be less than you're accustomed-."

"It's not the money, Edward," interjects Achmed, looking at Steele. "It's the curse, isn't it?"


Laura is standing in a crowded lift next to a man who is writing on a notepad, "This isn't really necessary. It was only a small dent. I said I'd pay for it. I'm very late. I said I'd pay for it."

"Just tell it to the insurance company," replies the man, handing her the notepad and her purse he was using to write on. "Oh, ah excuse me," he says to one of the other lift passengers.

Laura hands him her business card. He takes it as he gives her another piece of paper, "Oh, I believe the moving violation is yours too." Laura snatches it from him and walks from the lift. She enters the office and tells Bernice, "You'll have to call my insurance company and pay for this - but before that I want to know what my schedule looks like this week."

Bernice takes the papers from Laura and tells her, "You know, the museum people are already in there pouring out their problems to..."

"I thought I asked you about my schedule," cuts in Laura.

Bernice looks up in surprise, "Yes, ma'am. Ahh, the schedule, this week, light to moderate, scattered lunches."

"Not good enough. By punch-out time *today* I want it wall-to-wall. Understand?"

As Laura walks off Bernice snaps the diary shut, "You're right, 'Have a nice day' has lost all its meaning."


Inside Steele's office, Edward is trying to convince Steele to take the assignment. "Surely Mr. Steele you don't subscribe to all that superstitious nonsense."

Laura enters the office, "Not in so many words. Ah Miss Holt, my associate, gentlemen."

"Edward Coxworth, I believe it was you I spoke with on the 'phone."

Laura takes his proffered hand "Yes, of course."

Edward turns to Achmed, "And our curator, Achmed Khalil."

"A pleasure," says Achmed shaking Laura's hand, "Particularly if you can help persuade Mr. Steele to accept our cause."

Steele sighs as Laura responds, "I beg your pardon?"

"Well, I had the impression from our 'phone conversation that your agency could help us, but Mr. Steele feels his case load is already overwhelming."

"Does he really?"

"What with the Murphy affair and the Wolfe case-," Steele tells her.

"Ah yes, the Wolfe case. Well, as a matter of fact some urgent has *just* come up." Laura looks purposefully at Steele. "If you could spare a moment of your time, sir," she then looks to the two men, "With your permission, gentlemen."

Steele turns and follows Laura into her office. As soon as the door is shut she says, "You turned them DOWN?!"

"Believe me, Laura, we want no part of this one."

"Falling in love with our letterhead *again*, are we? Since when do you decide which cases *I'm* going to take?"

"This picture has a very *nasty* background. I was only thinking of the agency."

Laura is not buying it, "Well, the agency has bills to pay and a reputation to maintain."

"Surely then there's a missing person we can find?"

" 'Fraid not."

"An unsolved murder that's baffled the finest minds in law enforcement?"

"Fresh out."

"A child, weeping for its' lost cocker spaniel," he says in a last ditch effort.

"Really." Laura can't believe what's she's hearing and walks to the connecting door.

"Laura, I realize we haven't known each other very long and that refusing this case may cost the agency a great deal. Nonetheless, with no questions asked, no explanations demanded, I'm simply asking that you accept my instincts about this on faith and trust me."


In the office's reception area Achmed and Laura are shaking hands as an unhappy Steele shakes Edward's hand. "Well, I'm pleased that you could see your way clear to help us," says Edward. Achmed bends to kiss Laura's hand.

"A case simply to compelling to ignore," says Steele watching as Achmed continues to hold Laura's hand.

"And apparently a most persuasive associate," says Achmed in appreciation. Laura smiles at Bernice.

"We'll be expecting you soon," says Edward. "Come, Achmed." Achmed finally lets go of Laura's hand and follows Edward from the office.

Before Steele can speak, Laura heads for Murphy's office asking Bernice, "Has Murphy come up with that museum research I asked for?"

"I..." Bernice answers holding up her hand as she watches Laura leave reception.

Steele looks after Laura and then leans onto Bernice's desk, "Miss Wolfe, does it strike you that Laura seems unusually, ah..."

"Wired, cranky, bent out of shape?" fills in Bernice.

"In a word. Any reason for the cause?"

"Well, she did ask me to overload her schedule once before," recalls Bernice, "when she was expecting .."

"Somebody call for the car." Laura comes from Murphy's office, "Tell him I need to see him as soon as he can get to us." She continues into her office.

Steele turns back expectantly to Bernice who holds up a note, that reads "Don't ask."

"As usual, you've been an enormous help, Miss Wolfe," comments Steele as he walks into Laura's office. "Laura, I don't mean to pry but if something's happened-."

"I'm fine," assures Laura, "and we've got work to do."

"But you're ..." he is at a loss for words.

Laura snaps, "Look, I don't know what your problem with this case is but you're beginning to sound a lot like my .."

"Hello," a voice filters through from reception. "Anybody home?"

Laura visibly winces uttering, "Mother."

"Mother?" asks Steele in surprise. Laura takes a very deep breath.

Mrs. Holt sees them in Laura's office and walks towards them holding out her arms, "Laura, dear."

Laura smiles and goes to her mother. They touch cheeks as Bernice and Steele look on, Bernice in amusement, Steele in amazement. Mrs. Holt holds Laura at arm's length, "Still have to wear your hair up, I see."

Laura ignores the disapproval in her mother's tone and answers unnaturally, "Hello, Mother, you know I would have picked you up from the airport."

"Oh, well, it's all right. I mean, the cab drivers have get to rich on somebody's money."

"Mmm," Laura forces a smile and turns, "Ah, you remember Bernice."

"Oh yes, it's been so long. You're well?"

"Very," replies Bernice.

"And who might this be?" asks Mrs. Holt turning her attention to Steele who smiles and walks forward waiting to see who he is introduced as by Laura.

"Who, ah, um, oh, this is," she swallows, "Remington Steele."

"So, you're Laura's mother," Steele smiles as he shakes her hand.

"At last, I get to meet her boss."

"Heard a lot about me, have you?"

"Not really."

"Oh," says Steele, not sure what to say, looking at Laura who continues in an unnatural voice.

"I'm afraid we have to run right now. Bernice can get you settled at the house. Perhaps we can have dinner together."

"Splendid idea," Steele says. "I know just the place. In fact, the very table."

"Oh," Mrs. Holt is very pleased.

"Don't you have some previous engagement, Mr. Steele?" asks Laura looking at him pointedly.

"Oh, I'll cancel it, whoever it is. Until then ah ..."

"Abigail," supplies Mrs. Holt.

"Abigail," repeats Steele.

"We mustn't be late Mr. Steele," says Laura before leaving the office with a smiling Steele.

As they leave Abigail turns to Bernice and comments, "You know, these offices aren't really bad at all."


In the museum corridor, Steele is inspecting the switchbox panel on the wall and asks Laura, who is holding a mass of cables. "You mean to tell me you haven't spent any time at all with your mother in nearly three years?"

"We don't communicate very well." Laura hands the cable to a security guard, "Thank you. It appears as if the thief came in through that skylight up there, got a rope over the rafter and disconnected the floor alarm here." She points to the switchbox.

"But she gave you life, nurtured you from infancy."

"Can we just *drop* it please?"

"The case?"

"My mother!"

"Sorry. I never realized she was such a jolt to your equilibrium."

"There's nothing wrong with my .." Laura turns and walks straight into Khalil who is approaching them. "Excuse me," she mutters to Khalil, not meeting Steele's gaze.

Khalil hands Steele the small remote used by the thief, "Steele, here is that device used on the laser system."

"I assume the alarms on the outside of the building were cut by the thief as well?" asks Laura.

"No, I don't think so but I'll have them checked." Steele hands him back the remote. "Come, please, the painting is this way."

Khalil shows Laura and Steele into the room containing 'The Five Nudes of Cairo' on the wall. "With the exhibition only a day away we thought it best not to inform the police. If the choice were mine I'd cancel it all together and lock the Pouset away. Alas." It is clear he is unhappy his choice will not occur. They stop next to a blonde woman wearing glasses. Steele sees her and looks lightly uncomfortable but smiles as they are introduced.

Khalil starts with the introductions, "Ah, my assistant, Katherine Simone, Miss Holt."

"Hello," says Laura shaking Katherine's hand.

"How do you do?" replies Katherine.

"Mr. Steele," Khalil finishes the introductions as Katherine shakes Steele's hand.

"Thank you for responding so quickly," says Katherine.

"It was Katherine who first suggested your agency to us," says Khalil as Steele continues to meet Katherine's eyes.

"You say the alarm in this room is what stopped him?" asks Laura.

"What kind of alarm was it?" asks Steele.

"Forgive me, but our insurance company forbids us revealing ..." replies Khalil.

"Yes, of course," says Laura, "we understand."

"We knew when we acquired the 'Nudes' there would be trouble. The curse."

"The curse?" queries Laura.

The two women move to stand in front of the painting as Katherine explains, "The women's religion forbids them from appearing nude in front of any man except their husband. Somehow Pouset managed to get them to pose for him."

Khalil whispers to Steele, "I need to see you, alone. Tonight."

Steele nods imperceptibly, "Where?"

"I'll find you."

"Anyway," continues Katherine, "the reigning pasha got wind of this so he tried to have the picture destroyed, but it was smuggled out of the country, so he placed a curse on any one who dared to possess it." Katherine removes her glasses and places them in her pocket.

"Sounds rather bizarre, doesn't it?" asks Laura.

"Not to the last five owners, they were all killed. Accidentally, of course."

"Shall we all proceed this way," says Khalil as he waits for Laura to leave the room. Steele follows Katherine who, as they leave the room, pulls him behind a statue and into a kiss. Steele responds, but opens his eyes widening as the kiss deepens. They break it off, and he asks, "Katherine, wasn't it? And I always thought Felicia suited you so much better."

She looks up at him. "You're hardly one to talk of names, Mr. Steele. Have you missed me?"

"Whenever possible."

"Poetic that the 'Nudes' should bring us back together again, isn't?"

"Don't tell me, let me guess, you're here to steal it."

"No, darling, you are." Felicia kisses him again as Laura walks towards the statue calling out, "Mr. Steele?"

Laura sees him wiping his lips as he turns around, "Would you care to join us?"

Steele recovers, "Remarkable sculptor, that Rodin," as Felicia walks out from behind the sculpture.

Laura looks skeptically at the sculpture and informs him, "It's a Catelli."

Steele is not sure if Laura saw him with 'Katherine'. "Still love it. Miss Holt?"

Laura looks at Katherine and the sculpture before walking down the corridor with him.


That night Laura is standing in front of her hall mirror putting bobby pins in her hair. She walks to her bathroom and stops in surprise as she sees her mother kneeling as she scrubs the shower.

"Mother, you don't have to clean my bathroom. It will aggravate your asthma."

Abigail looks up, "Oh, well, you know how I hate mess," then returns to her scrubbing. Laura looks on at a loss. Abigail stops again and puts one hand on her hip, "Have you spoken to Frances recently?"

"I called her on her birthday, all right?"

"But did you *really* listen to her?"

"Mother," starts Laura with a breath.

Abigail points at Laura, "Your sister has done very well for herself Laura. You could take a lesson from her. Do you know that her husband Donald's company now owns *twelve* athletic footwear stores."

"I stopped counting at seven."

Abigail laughs, "Well, do you have any idea how far the jogging shoe has come in the last five years."

The doorbell rings. "I have to go answer the door, now mother," says Laura glad for the escape.

As Laura leaves Abigail comments to herself, "Always running somewhere."

Laura opens her door. It is Murphy, "Hello, partner."

"Hi," replies Laura wearily.

"I got the background information on that painting you asked for." Murphy stands in the living room as he looks around and asks, "So where's your mother?"

"Cleaning the bathroom," replies Laura with resignation in her voice.

"You made your mother clean the bathroom?" asks Murphy not believing what he is hearing.

"I didn't make..." Laura quickly answers then stops herself putting a hand to her forehead, "Look, just give me the highlights, all right."

"Okay." Murphy notices Laura's tension. "All right, 'The Five Nudes of Cairo'." They both sit on the couch. "They've been through a lot of hands and yes, most of them are not around to talk about it any more. But get this, apparently six years ago the painting was stolen from a private collector by a woman and a guy calling himself 'Michael O'Leary'. Ring any bells?"

"Michael O'Leary," repeats Laura as she thinks aloud and then stops. "Wait a minute. When we first investigated our priceless Remington Steele didn't we come across five passports with five different names?

"One of them was for a..."

"Michael O'Leary. But you're not seriously suggesting...?" Laura asks the open-ended question.

"Think about it. If he really is a thief, what better place for him to watch for a big score to come along than in a detective agency."

Laura is not subscribing to Murphy's implication, "But he didn't even want us to take the case."

"Less interference that way. I'm telling you, Laura, he's been waiting for an opportunity like this and there's nothing to keep him from lifting the canvas and leaving *our* agency to take the rap for it. He's STOLEN it once already."

Laura puts a hand on Murphy's shoulder, "I think you're jumping to conclusions. I know him better than that."

Murphy looks away and sighs before turning to look at her, "No, you don't."

Laura meets his eyes briefly before standing, "Then we'll *both* try and keep an open-mind about it. In the meantime, I want you to run a check on the museum's employees. Those outside alarms weren't cut so whoever went after that painting already had access to the museum."

Murphy stands and head for the front door. "Okay. And you call me if you need me all right?"

"Mm hmm."

Murphy hesitates before opening the door, "Is your mother really in there cleaning the bathroom?"

Laura waves him away with a frustrated look. Murphy smiles and leaves.


Laura and her mother pull into the driveway at Steele's apartment.

Abigail is informing Laura, "She has a loving husband with a *thriving* business. "

"I'm *thrilled* for Frances," replies Laura sounding anything but.

"Why, is it so awful, to settle down with someone like Donald."

"Because I don't want to marry a pair of *jogging* shoes. That's why."

"Who's asking for that? There are other alternatives, you know."

"Do *you* really mean that?" Laura is surprised at her mother's statement.

"Of course, take your Mr. Steele for instance. I bet there's a catch and a half."

"Mother, men aren't *fish* any more, and my line isn't out there to *hook* a *big* one and reel him in."

"Well, your line has to be somewhere."

"I'm a licensed private investigator, remember?"

Abigail shakes her head, "I only wish I understood exactly what that is."

Laura is losing her patience, "Are you coming upstairs with me or not?"

"No, thank you, I will just sit here and wait and collect myself."

Laura pauses, then leaves the car.


Steele, wearing his dressing gown, leaves his bathroom when he hears the doorbell ring. As he leaves, a person dressed in black and wearing a ski mask drops down from a rope onto his bedroom balcony.

Steele opens the door. "Ah Laura." She looks at him surprised he's not dressed yet as he asks, "Isn't ah, Abigail with you?" He pokes his head out into the hallway.

"She's downstairs in the car," Laura tells him.

Steele realizes she's looking at his state of undress. "Sorry I'm not dressed yet." Laura holds up her hands in acceptance. "Wonderful. Pleasant, ah reunion?" he asks.

"Just peachy. Do you have any aspirin?" He points her to the kitchen and they head in that direction.

Inside his bedroom the clandestine figure closes the bedroom door, but does not shut it, leaving it slightly ajar.

Laura and Steele walk into the living room as she asks, "I was just curious why you were so anxious not to take this case."

"Why- the curse, of course."

"You never struck me before as the superstitious type."

The person in the bedroom removes their ski mask and it is Katherine/Felicia from the museum. She unzips and removes her black jacket to reveal she is wearing nothing but a gold necklace.

In the living room Steele continues talking. "A minor flaw in an otherwise 'stainless Steele'. For some it's, ah, walking under ladders, black cats, opening umbrellas indoors."

"For you, it just *happens* to be paintings with curses." Laura sips from her glass of water.

"Particularly those with a track record."

"Mmm. Tell me, how do feel about, Irish names. Any favourites?"

Steele is holding a champagne bottle in one hand as picks up and puts down another bottle. "Irish names, Irish names, mmm," he muses, "I once knew an O'Casey I was rather fond of."

"Mmm. How about an O'Leary?"

"O'Leary?" he silently mouths but before he can answer they both turn around in surprise as Felicia appears in the bedroom door wearing a dressing gown.

"Remington, be a dear and fix me another one of your *fabulous*," Felicia stops as she sees Laura who puts her glass down. "Oh I'm sorry, darling. I didn't realize you were expecting someone else."

"I'm a touch surprised myself," comments Steele trying to gauge Laura's masked reaction.

"Miss ... Bolt isn't it?"

"Holt," corrects Laura.

"Is she here on business or did you have something wicked in mind?" Felicia asks him.

Laura pauses, "Shame I didn't know about it sooner. Sounds like fun, but I have my mother downstairs."

"Ooh, that's too kinky for my blood," responds Felicia, to which Steele flinches.

"Well I, -I won't hold up the action any longer. I'll give mother your apologies, Mr. Steele." Laura smiles then strides purposefully for the door.

Steele gives chase after her, "Laura, would you believe me if I said I had absolutely no idea how that woman got into my bedroom or my bathrobe?"

He flattens himself against the wall as Laura opens the door and says with emotion, "Not a chance!"

"Yup! Just thought I ask," says Steele as he hops on one foot while holding the foot Laura stepped on as she left.

In the hallway, Laura leans her back against the wall clutching her fists with a look of hurt and anger on her face. The anger takes over and she punches the wall then walks to the lift. She pauses to collect herself before pushing the lift button. The door opens, and the man in the lift pulls her toward him covering her nose and mouth with a black cloth. Laura's screams are muffled as she tries to punch the man's arm into releasing her hand, but she quickly collapses.

Back inside Steele's apartment Steele is following Felicia into his bedroom. "Formidable entrance, Felicia."

"Wasn't it, though?"

"What, the front door too traditional for you?"

"Too dangerous. There are some desperate men looking for me right now."

"So you thought you'd pop in and tell me all about it."

"Well, the evening does seem to be ours now, doesn't it?" Felicia smiles as she lies down on the bed with an inviting smile.


Downstairs, an annoyed Abigail leaves the Rabbit and heads for the entrance. The man who has drugged Laura is pushing a trolley with a barrel. He signals to Mrs. Holt through the glass door, "Miss, Miss, please, get the door." Abigail opens the door and the man passes through. "Thanks very much." He stops her from walking past him and points to Laura's car. "Hey, I hate to bother you again,but is that your car out there? I think it's blocking our van."

"My daughter parked it there." She sighs in exasperation, "I'll move it for you."

"Thanks a lot. That's a really big help, I really appreciate that."


Steele, now dressed in trousers and shirt, is buttoning his cuffs in his bathroom as Felicia looks on from the doorway. He asks her, "So, you swindled a small fortune from this Guttman character, is that it?"

"I had every intention of paying him back in Monte Carlo, -with interest, but dice can be so cruel. You know, he threatened me with rather grisly results if I didn't find a way to make amends." She watches as he tucks his shirt into his trousers and does up some buttons.

Steele walks to the bedroom mirror and starts tying his tie. "Why do it with 'The Five Nudes of Cairo'? As I recall, the insurance company we recovered it for showed their gratitude by *not* paying us."

Felicia walks over to sit on the bureau in front of the mirror. "Sentimental reasons. I just happen to chance upon a photograph of the famous Remington Steele. And when the painting happened to be in the same city ..."

She lets the words trail off as Steele bends down briefly and finishes for her, "Kismet," before returning to his tie.

"I knew you'd be only too willing to help if I lost my footing." Felicia smiles up at Steele and starts to untuck his shirt.

He looks down and lightly slaps both her hands before turning his attention back to his tie, "You know Felicia, I detect a note of blackmail in your voice."

"Well, it sounds so tacky when you put it like that." She stands and starts to untuck his shirt again, "Instead why don't we simply steal the painting together again," she pulls him towards her as he tries re-tucks his shirt, " Disappear to some place decadent and *brush* up on our bacchanalian whirl."

He takes her hands from his waist and moves away, "I'm afraid I'm all whirled out these days."

Felicia is surprised at his lack of interest. She leans on the drawers with a hand on one hip and asks in incredulity, "Well, surely being Remington Steele can't be all that much fun?"

"You'd be surprised." Steele is now sitting on his bed conducting the final moves with his tie.

"But I'd so hate to expose him to the world as a fraud. What an awful flap." She sits on the bed next to Steele. "And that lovely associate of yours? Won't she, be *crushed* when she finds out you're not really Remington Steele?"

"Mortally, I'm sure," replies Steele giving her a sideways glance.

"Well then, have we reached an understanding?" Felicia puts a hand on his shoulder and lies down behind him.

"It seems you've left me with little choice." Steele tucks his shirt into his pants and turns to look down at Felicia.

"Hardly, the choices are just beginning." She pulls his head down and kisses him. When the kiss ends she looks puzzled. "You know, darling, if I didn't know you better I'd say some woman's finally caught you by the heart."

"What makes you say a ridiculous thing like that?"

"Well you hardly seemed glad to see me at all. But it's not just that. There's a new feel about you, as if you've been .."

"What?" Steele quickly asks.

"Smitten." Felicia is surprised at her response.

Before they can talk any more the doorbell buzzes. "Excuse me," says Steele, looking equally surprised as Felicia, who remains on the bed, puzzled.

Steele sorts out the sleeves on a vest as he walks to the door opening it to see Mrs. Holt whom he greets. "Abigail!"

Mrs. Holt walks straight in. "I like to consider myself a patient person, Mr. Steele, but if Laura thinks she can *leave* me SITTING down there by myself..."

"You mean she not with you?" Steele is worried.


The man who has drugged Laura drags the container from the back of a van. An older, slightly portly man looks on. "Well, Felicia, you disappoint me. First you fail to deliver the painting on time and then you go running to a *famous* detective."

The younger man lifts the lid as the older man looks into the container. "You fool! This is not her!"

"Oh no, Guttman. You're not getting out of paying me this time."

"But you've snatched the wrong WOMAN."

"You told me to grab the woman in Steele's apartment, right? Well, this woman came out of *that* apartment," he thrusts the container onto its side, "and I grabbed her."

Laura slowly comes to, lying half-out of the container. The older man walks to stand over her. "I should know better than to hire a man who pumps iron for a living." He slams one of the back doors on the van shut.

"Hey, my body is my temple, so you just lay off."

"Well this is not Felicia but she might know something. I want you to make her talk."

"Well, that will cost you extra."

"No, it won't," pipes in a groggy Laura who is slowly rising to her feet using the back of the van as leverage, "I'll just, call a cab or -something."

"Grab her, Sherman," instructs the older man. Laura cries out when the younger man puts an arm against her throat. Before he can pull her back Laura starts to cough and wheeze. "What's happening?"

Sherman looks at Laura, "I don't know. She can't breathe."

"Well, get her some water." Sherman runs off as Laura sits in the back of the van. She continues to struggle for breathe but manages to point to her throat and then her handbag, "My purse."

As the man bends down to retrieve her handbag, Laura opens the van door that was closed hitting the man on the head, knocking him into a truck parked in the closed garage. She quickly stands and runs down the inside of the van and starts the engine.

The portly man recovers yelling out, "SHERMAN!"

Sherman runs to the van trying to open the driver's door but Laura screeches the van into motion, smashing through the shut garage door. The van stops and she hops out and runs out into what appears to be a truck yard. Sherman staggers through the crashed door but fails to see in which direction she went.


In Laura's living room, Mrs. Holt walks in carrying a large teapot. "Laura has always been a very sensitive girl. My middle one." Steele, sitting in an armchair, holds out a tea cup which she fills. "We had a fight in the car on the way over and," she raises her free hand in resignation, "I guess that's why she left." Abigail pours her own tea before sitting down facing Steele.

"Mmm. I'm afraid she was rather out of sorts with me, as well," he says.

"Ah, I remember one time we thought she'd run away from home."

"But you found her."

"Yes, in the laundry hamper." Steele starts to turn around, "I already checked," Abigail informs him before continuing. "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, Mr. Steele, but the truth is, I just cannot bear to tell Laura's grandmother what she really does."

"No? What do you tell her instead?"

"That's she's a dental assistant. With great prospects of marriage." Abigail looks unsure, "Is that awful of me, to create a complete fiction about someone, like that?"

"Sounds more like a family trait," comments Steele as Abigail looks at him quizzically.

Laura comes in the front door. "I did it." She is ecstatic and laughs, "I got away!"

Abigail and Steele look at each other then proceed to the hall.

Laura takes her coat off, "Pay the cab driver! What's here?" She lifts a teapot from a table near the door and peers into it as she starts to walk to the hall, "What have I got?" She looks up and sees she is not alone. "Mother!" She pulls herself up when she sees Steele, "Mr. Steele."

Steele is looking at Laura bemused while her mother looks aghast, "Laura, look at YOU!"

Laura ignores her mother's tone and walks towards her, "Mother, you should have SEEN me," she puts an arm around her mother to lead her into the living room, throwing Steele a glare, "I was BRILLIANT!."

Abigail is not impressed, "Laura, Mr. Steele was kind enough to ask us to dinner. You DISAPPEAR for over two hours, show up looking like this and call it brilliant? Well I certainly don't." She turns and walks into Laura's bedroom.

Steele leans against the wall to let her pass and stays there as Laura starts to follow Abigail, "Mother, you don't understand!" Laura turns around in frustration and throws her hand out against the wall, "DAMN!" Her hand narrowly misses Steele's head.

He looks down at her concerned, "Try to be patient with her, Laura. It's more than she expects from a dental assistant."

"WHAT?" Laura has no idea to what he is referring. The doorbell rings, "The cab driver." Laura goes to the door and gives the cabbie some money, "Here, keep the change."

As she shuts the door Steele asks her, "You had some sort of mishap. Are you all right?"

Laura turns to him, "I was kidnapped by someone named GUTTMAN coming out of your apartment."

Steele cannot look her in the eye, "I knew we shouldn't have accepted this case."

"What do you know about this?" Laura pushes him against the wall in the entrance and points the finger on one hand into his chest while the other hand pokes him with the teapot's spout.

"But it's not too late. We could still drop it and take off for a brief vacation. New Zealand perhaps?"

"*I* asked you a question."

They start to talk over each other.

"Who is this Guttman ..."

"Now, Laura, it's important that you not jump to any hasty conclusions."

"... and what does he know about this woman Felicia?"

"This is a most *dangerous* situation ..."

"I nearly got my NECK BROKEN TONIGHT ..."

"... and mutual trust is absolutely essential for us all to survive in one piece."

"... so don't think you can out of it by giving me some {??????}!"

"... so please try to have a LITTLE FAITH!"

They both stop at the sound of three steady knocks on the front door. Steele opens the door as Laura stands back holding up the teapot pointing the spout at the door. She gasps as they see Khalil slumped against the doorframe.

"Khalil," says Steele looking at the man's ill state.

Khalil mutters, "It's the curse," before collapsing in the doorway.

Laura and Steele watch him fall over the threshold and then look at each other. They both squat by Khalil and Laura asks, "Is he-?"

Steele feels for a pulse but finds none. "I'm afraid so."

"Laura?" Abigail calls out as she opens the bedroom door slightly.

"Oh God! This isn't happening." Laura's voice has gone up an octave. "My mother's NOT going to find a dead body in my house." She shoves the teapot into Steele's hands, takes a deep breath and goes to the bedroom leaving Steele at a loss.


"Hello, mother," Laura puts both hands on mother's shoulders and moves her back into the bedroom shutting the door.

Abigail is apologetic, "Laura, I'm sorry I lost my head a moment ago. But ah, not, -not that I forgive your behaviour but it was wrong of me to say so in front of your employer."

"That's all right, mother," assures Laura.

"I know, but I feel I owe Mr. Steele an apology as well."

"Oh no. It *really* isn't necessary," says Laura shaking her head.

"I think it is."

"But Mr. Steele is with a client right now."

"Here? At this hour?" Abigail doesn't believe Laura.

"Ah, he just- dropped in."

"Well, it will only take a moment," Abigail pats Laura on the cheek as she opens the door, "I'm sure he'll understand."

Laura throws up her arms in dread, "Mother!"

Her mother walks into the living room with Laura following gingerly behind. Abigail stops, surprised to see Steele talking to man sitting in an armchair with its high back facing her and holding a lighted cigarette.

"Fascinating piece of evidence, Achmed, hmm?" comments Steele. He looks up as he notices the two women. "Ah, Abigail, Laura." Laura is wide-eyed as he asks, "Is there something I can do for you?"

"No. No, no. I just wanted to apologize for my little outburst a while ago," says Abigail.

"Barely remembered it. Would you care to join us?"

Laura throws Steele a 'what are you doing?' look. Abigail replies, "No. It's been a *very* difficult evening. I think I'll just turn in. Good night, Mr. Steele. Good night, dear."

Abigail touches cheeks with Laura, who is still in shock but manages to utter, "Good night, mother."

Abigail starts to the bedroom but turns around, "Oh and ah, good night to you Mr..."

"Khalil," supplies Steele.

"Sleep well." Abigail then returns to the bedroom and shuts the door. Laura lets out the breath she has been holding and slumps against the wall as we see the dead Khalil in the armchair with his arm propped up to hold the cigarette. She looks at Steele with a questioning look. He turns to Khalil and asks him, "Pardon?" before returning to look at Laura with a smile.


The next morning Laura walks into the office and is met by an agitated Bernice who puts out an arm to stop Laura. "I hope you know what's going on because our *titular* head 'phoned me at six this morning with a *hell* of a shopping list." Bernice gives Laura a pad and Murphy walks out from his office as she continues, "Look at that. A hundred feet of nylon rope, six pounds of marbles .."

"A spear-gun?" questions Laura, not sure if she's reading correctly.

"He told me to go out and rent a dark station wagon with a big engine," adds Murphy.

Laura hands the pad back to Bernice and asks Murphy, "Have you come up with anything more on the museum staff?"

"So far they all check out okay."

"And what about the assistant curator?"

"Katherine Simone?"


"She's only worked for the museum a couple of months. I'd have to dig a littler deeper."


"What am I looking for?"

"Felicia. And see what you can find out about someone named Guttman," instructs Laura as she walks to Steele's office.

Murphy looks at Bernice then asks, "How long are you going to let this go on, Laura?"

"I don't know."

Inside his office Steele is sitting at his desk studying an architectural blueprint. Laura enters, closes the door and walks to his desk, "I'm troubled."

Steele doesn't look up from the plans. "If it's about Khalil, don't be. The police found him in a 'phone booth. Not far from where you live, actually."

"Thank you. But that doesn't really alter the situation."

"Which, ah, situation is that?"

Laura leans both hands on the desk, "I'm no longer sure our arrangement is in the best interests of this agency."

Steele looks up from the plans, "We're close to that point, are we?"


"Is there anyway back from the edge?" he asks moving around the desk to stand in front of Laura.

"You MIGHT try an explanation of your actions."

"Suppose I said I was only out to protect the good of the agency." He sits on the edge of the desk.

"I wish I could believe that, keep trying."

"How about- an old lover, in desperate trouble has suddenly reappeared and is blackmailing me into criminal behaviour."

Laura turns away frustrated. "Maybe this was a bad idea." She faces him again, "Are you really telling me the truth?" she asks, unsure but wanting to believe him.

"I think I'm trying."

"Well I think I need *more* than that. Something, some statement or gesture that indicates you appreciate the gravity of this situation."

"How about stealing the painting with me tonight?"

"That wasn't it," says Laura with a dejected look.


"This can't be it," comments Murphy. It is night, and he and Laura are sitting in a large, black station wagon.

"Look, I know it sounds twisted, but it does make a certain amount of sense."

Murphy is not convinced, "Laura, we were hired to *catch* the thief."

"And the thief is after the painting, so if we have it, then the thief is forced to come to us." Laura is trying to reassure herself of the reasoning.

"But what if HE'S the THIEF."

"Then I'd be the last person he'd ask to help him, right?" She looks to Murphy for confirmation.

"Well, who knows with this guy? I mean, you said yourself he's twisted."

"Well, I can't very well go to the museum or the police and tell them we suspect the head of our *own* agency now, can I? At least this way, I know what he's doing and where the painting is."

"Look, just don't turn your back on him."

Steele crouches down by Laura's window, "Turn back? Nonsense. We're right on schedule. Ready?" He opens the car door for Laura and she walks to the museum as he bends back down to give Murphy instructions, "Keep the engine warm and the eyes sharp, old chap."

Murphy reaches across the passenger seat and grabs Steele's arm, "I know *exactly* what to do, old chap. And so help me, if you split one hair too many and I'll do it."

"Nice to know the backup's there," Steele replies calmly.


A guard walks past a darkened doorway on the outside of the museum. Laura's voice is heard, "How do we get in? The roof? The window? The sub-basement?"

Laura and Steele poke their heads around the doorway as he tells her, "I thought the service entrance would be simpler." He holds up a key, "A little going away present from Khalil."

Once inside they turn into a corridor and hide behind a statute when they hear a guard approaching. After he passes Laura observes, "They've put on a lot of extra guards."

Steele is thoughtful, "Hmm. That just may come in handy. Come on." They walk to the start of the corridor the thief entered in the opening scenes.

"There's the alarm box," points out Laura.

"We'll never get through that in time."

"Maybe we'd better take a rain check on this." Laura is starting to lose her nerve but Steele is scouting out the surroundings and notices an air-conditioning vent on a far wall.

"Hand me that spear-gun," he instructs Laura who looks blankly at him.

"Spear-gun?" Laura looks down at the bag.

The same guard from the opening scenes is flossing and checking his bite in a mirror as Steele aims and shoots a spear-gun to the air-conditioning vent. A metal tip lands in the vent and Laura sighs in relief. Steele hands the end of the rope attached to the metal tip in the vent to her and says, "Here, pull this through. Gently." As she follows his orders, a grappling hook is conveyed along the length or rope. When it reaches the vent, it collapses as is pulled through the grate only to re-open and secure itself on the inside. Steele secures the other end of the rope around the top of a statue as Laura remarks, "You've done this before, haven't you?"

"What makes you think that?" He stands and Laura passes him the bag of equipment. He licks the tips of his gloved hands and then slides down the makeshift flying-fox, landing away from the sensor lights in the floor. Laura slides down the rope and into his arms, "Stimulating, wasn't it?" he asks sliding her down his body to the floor.

"Different. Shall we continue?" She smiles up at him, beginning to enjoy their adventure.

"I was hoping you'd say that."

A guard with a torch walks past the end of the corridor with the flashing laser beams. Behind the base of a statue Steele and Laura are sitting on the floor against the wall. Steele is holding a small, stainless steel thermos. As he undoes the lid Laura asks, "What's that?"

"An excellent cognac. Care for a touch?"

"No, I couldn't."

Steele has a drink and they hear a guard walk close by. "Well, maybe just a touch," says Laura taking the thermos from him.

"To our first time, eh?"

She quickly swallows from the thermos, "To our only time. I don't intend to make this a frequent aspect of our work." She hands the thermos back to him.

"Pity, really. There are so few forms of true intimacy left."

"This isn't a *date*, you know."

He pauses, "Certainly beats a night in the laundry hamper."

Laura stops and then looks at him with a slightly worried look before asking, "How are we going to get through those lasers? I'm sure they've re-shielded that other alarm as well." She stops as Steele hands her a small, green, fuzzy wind-up toy with a metal hook nose and eyeballs on small metal springs jutting from the creature's body.

"I thought we'd ask the monsters to escort us." Laura takes the toy and he hands her a small key instructing her to, "Wind."

She hesitates and then takes the key and starts winding, rolling her eyes heavenwards.

In his office the guard with the false teeth is on the telephone, "No sir, I'm not playing my radio anymore. Yes sir, everything is fine sir. Right. Okay." He hangs up the telephone, "Nobody stifles Stakosovky." He hears an electronic noise and grabs his flashlight before rushing into the hallway. He takes a step back when his torch shines on Steele's 'toys'. The guard goes back into his room and turns the switch to deactivate the laser beams before running back into the corridor to follow the trail of the 'toys' to their source - behind the statute where Laura and Steele were hiding. Seeing no-one there, the guard continues down the corridor. From the opposite direction Steele and Laura walk past the swarm of toys with Laura stopping to right a toy Steele has knocked over as he walked through. Again they hide from a guard by crouching behind a statue.

"Won't they start searching for someone now?" asks Laura.

"Eventually. But most museum guards hesitate to report an army of little green monsters marching at them. Looks bad on their record."

Laura is impressed, "You know, you're *very* good at this."

"I think you just made my evening. And here was I beginning to think you didn't like me."

"I do. Some."

"But not all?" Steele looks at his watch.

"Only the parts I know."

"And the parts you don't?"

Laura looks at him, "They frighten me a little."

"Fear can be a most intoxicating brew."

"Promise me something."


"Never tell my mother about this."

A guard calls out, "Hey, Flick! Come here. Get a look at these."

Steele places a hand on Laura's arm to caution her, "I truly hate for this to end but I think it's time we parted company."

"What!" Laura is alarmed.

"I'm still guessing about the alarm around the painting itself. If I'm wrong and it goes off I may need you in another room to create a diversion."

"But don't you want any help to get around it or something?"

"I suspect it's some sort of *heat* sensitive device." He smiles, "In which case, ah, two warm bodies will only set it off that much faster."

Laura is not sure, "I really think we should stay together."

"You almost sound as if you didn't trust me," says Steele who then moves off leaving Laura behind.

Several guards are in Stakosovky's office as he speaks into the telephone, "No sir, now look, I, I ,I I, have *not* been drinking. Now the other guys can verify that." He looks around the room at the guards holding the 'toys' looking for an affirmation, "Right?" The guards remain silent so he asks again, "RIGHT?"

Steele enters the room with the 'Nudes', "Hello again, my lovelies." He kneels in front of them and removes what looks like a small fire-extinguisher before looking up at them. "Do try and be gentle with me this time." He then extracts a thin metal rod with a coiled cord, elongates it and points the tip at the floor. An electric static sound is heard. Steele sprays the extinguisher on the floor before taking a step and pointing the metal rod again. Following this procedure he reaches the painting. "Cover up ladies, you're liable to catch a chill." He starts to spray around the painting's frame.

Laura starts to move from her hiding place behind the statue.

Steele uses a small knife to remove the painting from its frame, "I was always a cut above the rest, don't you think?" he asks the 'ladies'.

Laura continues down the corridor sans laser beams as Steele rolls the canvas, now freed from the frame. He removes a cloth tube from around his neck and inserts the canvas into it.

Stakosovky is still on the telephone, "Ah, no sir, I ah, *didn't* turn off the alarm." He reaches down and turns a switch. The laser beams re-appear and Laura is caught amongst them. She starts to run and Stakosovky puts down the telephone, "Come on you guys." The guards rush out of the office, "Get out there! Now, spread out, will you."

Steele quickly removes his black jacket to reveal he is wearing a guard's uniform.

Laura sprints down a corridor followed by two guards yelling out, "Wait!"

Steele just manages to do up his jacket when a guard comes into the room. Steele turns around, "Quick, they've got the painting. Follow them. They went out that way." He walks out of the room in the opposite direction to which he pointed the guard.

Laura's flight is stopped as she runs into Steele. Stakosovky comes up next to them as two guards approach from behind. Stakosovky says, "Well, well. We caught one. Now go turn off the alarm." One of the guards heads off.

"But I can explain everything," cries out Laura.

"Oh sure, I've got somebody who wants to listen to that story too," says Stakosovky as he and the remaining guard lead her away. Steele remains where he is until Stakosovky notices him, "Hey, you, go check the grounds. There might be another one." Steele slowly moves, resting his hand on a waist-high amphora vase complete with lid in the middle of the corridor. "HEY! GET GOING!" orders Stakosovky. Laura looks behind her but doesn't give away Steele as she tries to shrugs off the guards' restraining hands. As the guards continue to escort Laura she glances back as Steele turns and walks away.


Laura and her mother are leaving a police station. "Thank you for posting the bail," Laura tells mother.

"I fed your fish. And your refrigerator was half-full so I, picked up some things at the supermarket and there were some messages on your machine."

"MOTHER! I just spent the night in jail!" Laura, exasperated, stops walking and turns to Abigail.

"That would have been all right in the sixties. *Everyone's* children went to jail in the sixties!"


"Are you all right?" Abigail's concern is evident. "I mean, I ... I have *read* about women in prison."

Laura eyes widen in horror at her mother's comment as Murphy runs up to them, "Laura! Sorry I didn't get here any sooner, but I spent the night looking for -somebody."

"Hello, Murphy," says Abigail.

"Hello, Mrs. Holt," he replies Murphy then asks Laura, "Are you all right?"

"I think so," reply Laura and her mother in unison.

Murphy turns back to look at Abigail until Laura asks him hesitantly, "This someone you're looking for ... you don't mean..."

"I told you this was going to happen. He set us up," nods Murphy with an 'I told you so' half-smile.

"Who?" asks Abigail.

"Maybe ..." starts Laura searching for some rationale.

"Maybe? No. He's gone, Laura. How much more do you need?"

"There might *still* be a good explanation," reasons Laura with a touch of emotion in her voice.

"For what?" asks Abigail who has been following Murphy and Laura's exchange, at a loss.

"What are you protecting him for?" asks Murphy.

"I'm only thinking of the agency!"

"So you keep telling me. Just what exactly went on in there last night?"

"Ah! You know about women in prison too, don't you," states Abigail, sure she now has a grip on the conversation. Murphy, puzzled, pulls slightly back.

"Miss Holt," Edward Coxworth approaches the trio, "Since midnight, I've been trying without success to reach Mr. Steele. *You*, on the other hand, are painfully easy to locate."

"Mr. Coxworth, I assure you there is a good, a *very* good explanation for this."

"Explanation? My curator has been murdered. A painting worth several million dollars has disappeared and the exhibit around it is set to open in a few hours." The man is not happy.

"I assure you the agency is doing *everything* in its' power ..."

"Power? You and that agency, Miss Holt, are in no position to assure anything. What your actions lack in competence they may yet make up for by being criminal!"

"I BEG your pardon," starts Abigail as Murphy tries to stop her by placing a hand on her shoulder, "How dare you talk to her like that? I mean, Laura may have her faults, but she's INCOMPETENT and she is CERTAINLY not a criminal!" Murphy points to Abigail and pleads with a look for Laura to stop her mother's spiel.

"Who is this woman?" Edward is perplexed.

"Mother," tries Laura but to no avail as Abigail continues.

"She is an intelligent and capable young woman ..."

"Mother," tries Laura again as Murphy continues his hand motions.

"... and whatever your problems may be, they give you no call to slander her."


" ... There are *laws* against that ,you know.."

"MOTHER, PLEASE!" Laura's yell stops Abigail in her tracks, but she glares at her daughter.

"Mr. Coxworth," starts Laura, "You hired Mr. Steele because of his impeccable reputation."

Edward looks directly at Abigail, "That was before I knew he took on relatives."

Laura is struggling to maintain her composure, "I *still* suggest that you should reserve judgment until Mr. Steele PERSONALLY can present us with all the facts." When she finishes, Laura gives Murphy a worried look.


Steele is in a telephone booth looking at a plastic wrapped leather wallet as he talks, "Never mind who this is. If the department is interested in finding Khalil's murderer, you'll proceed at once to the address I gave you. His name is Guttman, and his car is a silver four-door of a German persuasion." Steele looks across the road to the car he is describing parked in a driveway. "In it you'll find some of Khalil's personal effects. If not the murder weapon itself." Steele hangs up the telephone and bangs it in an unsuccessful bid to retrieve his coin. He then crosses the road and sits in the driver's seat. As he is leaning down to place the wallet on the floor of the seat a gun is pressed against his cheek. "Funny, I could have sworn this was my car." Sherman is holding the gun, smiling and shaking his head, as Steele tries to extract himself from the situation, "Ah well, my mistake."

He starts to leave the car, but Sherman shifts the gun and stops him, "Uh uh."

Guttman walks up the car and sits in the back seat, "Well, Mr. Steele, when dealing with 'The Five Nudes of Cairo' one can't be too careful."

"So I gathered," acknowledges Steele.

"You called and promised me the painting. But it doesn't seem to be in your apartment. Let's *all* go some place quiet. You don't mind driving, do you?"

"I prefer to walk, actually," Steele moves to open the car door, but has a restraining hand put on his shoulder. "But I'm flexible. Fasten your seat-belts, please," says Steele as he starts the car.


Laura and her mother walk through the office's main door as the latter is talking, "I mean, do you have any idea what Mr. Steele might say if he hears about this?"

Laura ignores her mother and asks Bernice, "Nothing?"

"Not on this end," Bernice is ready to leave, "Murphy still out looking?"

"Uh huh."

"I put some fresh clothes in your office."

"Right." Laura looks worried.

"I'll go back to his apartment and check. And there's someone here from the museum to see you."

"Oh, not another one," Laura is disappointed.

"Now Laura, if it's from the museum," says Abigail as she puts a reassuring hand on Laura's shoulder.

"Mother, please, please." Abigail sighs and turns away as Laura walks Bernice to the door. "Look, ah, call in every hour no matter what, all right?"

Bernice is concerned for her friend, "If we don't find him that's it for us, isn't it?"

"You really think he's gone for good, too?" asks Laura still not wanting to believe it.

"Hey, me I'm not worried about. All I'll lose is a job." She rubs Laura's arm in support before leaving.

Laura looks despondent but draws herself up and heads for Steele's office. She walks in and is surprised to find Felicia sitting on the desk sipping from a glass of red wine. "Miss Simone. Or should I say Felicia."

"Well then, I guess he's told you everything."

"We-elll, not exactly everything."

"You know I came here looking for a blue ribbon cat-fight, but now there hardly seems much point in all that scratching and spitting. I only tried the blackmail gambit because I needed his help so badly."

"To steal the painting."

"It was the only way to get Guttman off my back. The truth is, I never would have exposed him."

"You mean as Michael O'Leary."

"Ohh, that's not his real name."

Laura is suddenly animated, "You know what it is?"

"I doubt there is anyone who knows that, BUT if across some satin pillow he should happen to tell *you*, I'll expect a telegram. That much you can let me have."

"I don't think you understand. Ours is purely .."

"Oh I understand all right, " Felicia cuts in, "He stood *me* up to steal the painting with *you*." Felicia gives a half-laugh, "Strange. You never struck me as his type."

Laura looks disappointed, "Me neither."

In the background the telephone rings and Abigail, sitting at the reception desk answers it. "Hello."

Steele, tied by his feet and hanging upside down from a warehouse roof with Guttman standing beside him holding the telephone, asks, "Miss Wolfe?"

"No, she stepped out. Can I help you?"

"Abigail? Is that you?"

"Ah, Mr. Steele."

"Abigail, is Laura there?"

"No, she's in a meeting."

"Interrupt her. It's important that I speak to her right away."

"The painting," reminds Guttman in an insist tone.

"If it's about her being in jail last night, Mr. Steele," starts Abigail, "I just want you to know that nothing like this has ever happened before. And what ever went wrong, I know that she meant well. It's been a very difficult evening and I just don't want you to be upset with her."

"I'm not upset with her, Abigail. It's about the painting."

"All right. I'll buzz her. Do you know which button to push?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't. I don't mean to rush you, Abigail, but if .."

Guttman takes the telephone away from Steele, "Tell her to bring it to seventy-two forty-nine Hammett Street."

"Did you say something?" asks Abigail. "Would you just hold on and I'll go get her for you."

Guttman has returned the telephone for Steele to speak, "Abigail, tell Laura to watch out ..." Guttman hangs up the telephone.

"You've already been clever enough for one day, Steele. Or are you in a rush to join Achmed Khalil?"

"He rubbed you the wrong way, did he?"

"He discovered Felicia had lied about her past to become his assistant. He was going to report her to the authorities. We couldn't let him do that."

"Do suppose we could continue this conversation with me the right side up? Hmm?" asks Steele hopefully.


The Rabbit is seen driving down an industrial street. Laura is reading the street address, "Seventy-two forty-nine." The car stops. "What the *hell* is he doing here?" she asks as she and Felicia leave the car and enter the door of the warehouse.

"Are you sure this is where he said to meet him?" asks Felicia. They are walking down a corridor with wooden crates stacked ceiling high either side.

"Not completely. Mother wasn't sure she heard it clearly."

"Well, I think it's really sweet asking your mother to work with you like that. I could never do it."

They walk around a corner and Laura sees Steele, now hanging the right-way up tied by his hands but very still with his head bowed down. "Oh my God." Both women run up to Steele, "What happened?!"

"Good heavens!" says Felicia pulling Steele around to face her.

"Oh Laura, Felicia."

"We thought for a moment you were ..." trails off Felicia.

"Just resting actually," says Steele.

Guttman walks from behind one of the crates pointing a gun. "So glad you could join us ladies. You bought the others with you, I trust." Laura realizes they've walked into a trap.


At the office, the telephone rings and Abigail picks it up and listens. "Ah, hello, Laura. No. They're not back yet. Did you find him all right? All right. I'll, I'll go look." She puts the telephone down on the desk and walks into Steele's office. She kneels on the couch and reaches down behind its' back pulling up a cylindrical cardboard container. She walks to the telephone on Steele's desk and pushes a button, "Ah, yes dear. I found it. What should I do now?"


At the warehouse Steele is still hanging by his hands and Felicia has her hands on his waist as she leans her head against his body and gently rocks him. Laura is standing to the side looking slightly uncomfortable as Felicia reminisces, "You know, I'll miss you feeding me strawberries on the Riviera. The wild drives with the top down on the autobahn." She stops and looks at Laura, "He's shown the mastery of his Tibetan massage, hasn't he?"

"Not recently," replies Laura.

"There's no point in trying to make Miss Holt jealous, Felicia. Ours is a purely *professional* relationship," says Steele.

"She tried to tell me the same thing," says Felicia. "A necessary posture for clients, I suppose. Well, assuming we all walk away from this, I'll keep your little secret to myself."

"Laura?" Abigail is heard calling out, "Are you there?"

"Mother, don't come any further! Just leave the painting and, and, and LEAVE."

"What, dear?" Abigail walks around the corner and Guttman rushes up to her before she notices him. They struggle as Guttman wrestles the cylindrical container from her hands, "Let go of me! I, I, I beg your pardon!" Guttman finally grabs the container and shoves Abigail towards Laura.

"Oh, Mother. Oh, I'm so sorry you had to get dragged into this."

Abigail notices Sherman. "Laura, that man."


"He was at Mr. Steele's apartment. He's the one I moved the car for."

Guttman opens the container and pulls out a blank canvas. He throws it down in disgust and walks towards them. "Your foolishness has exhausted my patience, Steele!"

"You didn't like the painting?" asks Steele.

"Obviously, I'll have to kill again to get it. Sherman, take your pick."

Sherman releases the catch on the gun and Abigail starts to hyperventilate. "Mother? Mother!" Laura follows Abigail, patting her on the back, as she kneels to the ground.

"You don't expect us to fall for that twice."

"But she's NOT FAKING! She needs her INHALER! Oh!" Laura dashes for her mother's handbag, but Guttman stops her forcing her back.

"No-one moves. I want that painting," demands Guttman, looking at Steele.

Laura stands, "You son-of-a-" and hits Guttman in the face with her handbag. He falls back and crashes through the side of a wooden container.

Sherman follows Guttman's trajectory, "Hey!" Steele swings around and wraps his legs around Sherman's neck, forcing him to drop the gun. Felicia bends down and picks up the weapon aiming it between the now unconscious Guttman and Sherman who is struggling to escape Steele's grip.

"I wouldn't resist any further, gentlemen. Felicia is rather a good shot," advises Steele.

Laura runs and picks up her mother's handbag, handing her the ventilator, which Abigail grabs and starts to inhale. Laura looks on worriedly, "Oh, mother, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry."

Abigail finally catches her breath. "Oh, oh don't be, don't be darling," she pulls Laura to her, "It's all right. I mean, now I know what you REALLY do."


At the museum a security guard is walking behind Laura, Steele and Edward Coxworth. The latter asks, "If Miss Holt doesn't have it and neither do you, where is the painting?"

"In the museum," replies Steele, "where it belongs, of course." They walk to the amphora vase in the middle of the corridor. Steele starts to lift the lid as Laura worriedly tries to stop him. Steele reaches his hand into the vase and lifts out the cloth tube containing the painting. He watches Laura as he removes the cloth tube from the painting and passes it to Edward. Laura meets his gaze before, seeing Edward inspecting the canvas, which he then passes to the security guard, "Quickly. Get it into its frame. There is still a chance we can make the opening." Steele tosses the cloth tube to the security guard who leaves.

Edward looks at Laura, "But I don't understand. If you knew where the painting was, why didn't you say something?"

"Well ..." starts Laura only to be cut off by Steele's explanation.

"Too risky. Guttman had to believe the picture was in our possession or else he never would have come forward."

"For you to catch him," concludes Edward.

"Actually, Miss Holt is responsible for that. Umm, I was indisposed at the time."

Edward turns to Laura, "Well, either way, I, I must apologize for being so hard on you at the police station." He shakes Laura's hand and then Steele's. "Now, if you will excuse me, there are several million things to be done."

Edward leaves them as Laura looks at Steele. "I'm afraid I've been a bit hard on someone myself."

"Nonsense. Your mother's a strong woman, she'll get over it."

Laura pauses, "But you could have kept the painting and disappeared. What made you decide to leave it in the museum?"

"You're not serious? I don't want 'The Five Nudes of Cairo'. The picture's got a bloody curse on it!"

Laura starts to smile at him.

The End