Laura and Remington changed into
jeans, dark sweaters and dark jackets and were ready to leave in a
few minutes. Laura and Mildred left the condo first and waited in
the hallway while Remington lingered to turn off the lights. In
the dining room on an impulse he picked up Laura's cards, which
were laying on the table face down. He quickly flipped them over
and gave a loud sigh. His final hand had been a full house, but
Laura only had two of a kind.
"Oh, for what might have been,"
Remington said regretfully.
"Did you say something?" Laura
Remington turned to see Laura
standing between the dining room and living room.
"Only thinking of another missed
opportunity," he explained woefully as he set the cards back
"I hadn't drawn yet," Laura
reminded him. "I still could have beaten you, you know."
Somehow he doubted it.
She put her arm around him as
they walked out together. "We could always pick up where we left
off," she suggested.
He shook his head. "Afraid not.
The moment's lost somehow."
She knew what he meant. "Another
time then, Mr. Steele?"
"I'll hold you to it."
They drove to Keyes' house in
Mildred's car. The house was dark and empty. Remington made quick
work of the lock on the front door and they went through the house
with a fine tooth comb, each of them taking a different room to
speed things up. There was very little in Keyes' house. It was
nice, but extremely impersonal. Mildred even commented on
"The mark of a good con man,"
Remington explained. "Never leave personal items around to be
traced back to you."
"Guess you should know, Mr.
Steele," Laura dryly muttered.
He gave her a threatening look
and then started going through the desk drawers in the study. It
was the only room they had yet to check. Discovering Keyes'
address book, Remington grinned brightly. Thumbing through it, he
quickly located Clarissa's name, address and telephone number,
along with the names of several other girls. He continued thumbing
through the book, hoping to find a clue as to where Keyes might
have taken her.
"Ladies, have a look at this," he
said, pointing to an entry under the J
Looking over his shoulder, Laura
read it aloud. "'Big Jake's Sea Surf Motel, Venice.' Think it's
worth a shot?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if our
Keyes turns out to be a long time customer," he responded.
"Then what are we waiting
"After you, Mrs. Steele," he
They left the house the same way
they'd found it, dark and empty.
Mildred pulled up to the motel in
Venice. "What a flea pit," she exclaimed.
"Thank you, Mildred, but I
believe we can do without your comments," Laura said.
"Shall we check it out, Mrs.
Steele?" Remington inquired.
"The sooner the better," Laura
responded, climbing out of the car.
Remington followed her into the
motel's office. A sleazy clerk put down his Playboy and looked at them across the grimy
counter. Laura inwardly shuddered. She reminded herself that she
was a private eye. and this was just part of the job but she
shuddered again, anyway.
"A room?" the clerk asked flatly.
"$16.00 an hour, paid in advance. Cable and X-rated movies are
extra. Tonight it's a 3-D feature." He reached under the counter
and began fumbling around. "Do you want the glasses?"
"Ah, no," Laura said. "Actually,
we're just looking for someone. A man in his fifties, bald, short,
stocky, smokes cheap cigars."
"Our guest register is
Remington pulled out his wallet.
"Would President Jackson help?"
"He might. But we get a lot of
men through here that fit that description."
Laura thought surely he must be
joking. "How about in the last two hours?" she asked
Remington peeled off another
bill. The clerk grabbed both bills, hefted up a register and began
flipping through it. "Norman Keyes, room 11," he finally
"Thanks for your help, mate,"
Remington said, taking Laura's arm and leading her out.
"Sure I can't interest you in
that movie?" the clerk called after them, holding up the 3-D
"We're married," Remington
explained with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Could've fooled me," the clerk
declared, returning to his magazine.
Laura and Remington walked down
the outside walkway. "Maybe we should have taken that room, eh?"
he asked, slipping his arm around Laura's waist. "I mean, it might
be our only chance to be alone."
She looked at him to see if he
were serious. He just grinned.
"You really want our first time
to be here, in a place like this?" she asked.
He sighed. "I suppose if we've
waited this long for that magical moment, then surely we can wait
for a place more worthy of the honor."
"Here we are. Room 11," Laura
said, pointing to the door in front of them. She leaned her ear
against it, but heard nothing.
Remington pulled his lock pick
out of his jacket pocket and picked the lock. Looking at each
other, they cautiously pushed open the door.
The room was empty. They looked
at each other again and shrugged, walking into the room for a
closer look. Laura looked with disgust at the waterbed with purple
satin sheets, the heart shaped pillows and headboard, and the
Remington turned on the TV.
"Maybe we should at least take a quick look at that movie, eh? See
if it contains any clues pertinent to the case."
"Mr. Steele, please. We're in a
hurry here. Remember?" Laura reminded him.
But Remington continued to stare
at the set, seemingly unable to move.
Laura walked over to him with the
intention of pulling him away. Instead, she was also drawn to the
action on the screen.
"Good Lord!" she uttered in
"Must really be something with
those 3-D glasses, eh?" Remington inquired.
Just then they heard a noise in
the bathroom and hurried to the closed door. Remington cautiously
swung it open and found Clarissa staring wide eyed at him. She was
bound and gagged in the bathtub.
"Oh, you don't know how glad I am
to see you two!" she exclaimed as he untied her. "How did you find
"We'll explain in the car," Laura
said, "but I think we'd better get out of here fast."
Clarissa couldn't have agree
Remington paused and gestured to
the TV on their way out. "By the way, Clarissa, did you have a
chance to watch the movie? I'm curious as to how it comes
Both Laura and Clarissa looked at
him in disbelief, each taking an arm and dragging him from the
When they were safely on their
way, Clarissa told the intrepid trio about her nasty experience.
Norman Keyes had apparently been following her since her release
from jail. He'd seen his chance to nab her at the bowling alley
and had taken her to the motel. But then he was received a page on
his beeper, tied Clarissa up in the tub and told he'd be back.
Then he had left.
"Well, one thing's for sure,"
Laura stated. "Keyes is still on the loose and when he comes back
to that motel and finds an empty room, he is going to be one upset
"That's putting it mildly,"
"And if he's been following
Clarissa, then he knows she's been staying with me," Mildred
"Which means he might come back,"
Laura finished. "Any suggestions?"
Remington and Laura looked at
each other and sighed.
Then with a touch of regret,
Remington said," Well, they say there's safety in numbers. You'll
both just have to spend the night with us at our
"Oh, kids, we couldn't do that to
you," Mildred protested.
"Mr. Steele is right," Laura
agreed. "No arguments. We're all going back to Mr. Steele's... I
mean, to our apartment."
She gave Remington a look of
wistful longing. He took her hand and held it during the ride back
As soon as they entered the
condo, Remington shuffled into the bedroom to gather pillows and
blankets for their guests.
Mildred continued to apologize.
"I'm so sorry to do this to you kids, tonight of all nights. Maybe
we could just go to a hotel or something-- check in under an
"Nonsense, Mildred," Laura
answered. "You and Clarissa are staying right here."
"Here you go, ladies," Remington
said as he emerged from the bedroom with an armful of blankets and
Clarissa took some from him and
pushed two chairs together, seat to seat.
"I'll make do with these chairs,"
Clarissa explained. "Mildred, you can take the couch."
"Thanks, Honey," Mildred
"Maybe we should think of
investing in a fold out cot for overnight guests. Eh, Mrs.
Steele?" Remington joked.
Laura didn't answer; she had just
noticed the scattered clothes and cards from their previous
activities in the dining room.
"Oh, my!" she said, blushing.
With a little laugh, she quickly walked to the dining room and
began gathering up the scatters items. "Here we are with
unexpected guests and the place is a mess! You know how it is when
you come home from a hard day at work. You just can't wait to hop
in the shower and change into something comfortable, so you just
drop what you're wearing on any old place."
"Uh huh," Mildred said, winking
at Clarissa. Neither she nor Clarissa believed a word of
"I really want to thank you again
for everything you've done to help me," Clarissa said as Remington
and Laura, carrying their clothes, started for the bedroom. "It
seems I've been nothing but trouble, but yet you still...Well,
anyway, thank you."
"Think nothing of it, Clarissa,"
Remington said. "Hopefully, tomorrow we'll nab Keyes and get to
the bottom of all this.Then it will all be over and we can get
back to our normal lives."
Laura nodded her agreement. Once
again they provided Clarissa with Remington's pajamas, but Mildred
insisted on sleeping in her bowling outfit. After wishing everyone
good night, Remington and Laura retired to their bedroom.
Remington leaned against the
closed door in the bedroom and just stared at Laura. "So close and
yet so far," he sighed regretfully.
"Well, Mr. Steele, I guess we
might as well call it a night, too."
"Hmm," he grunted as he shrugged
out of his black leather jacket.
Laura collapsed on the bed and
sighed. "The timing never seems to be quite right, does it? When
one of us is ready, the other isn't; and then when both of us are
ready, something always seems to come along to thwart our plans.
Sometimes I wonder..."
Settling beside her on the bed,
Remington gloomily remarked, "At this rate, we may be celebrating
our 50th anniversary before we get a chance to consummate our
"Suddenly that motel room doesn't
sound like such a bad idea after all," she said. "Any place where
we could be alone would seem like Shangri-La."
He tried to cheer her up, putting
his arm around her shoulders and pulling her in close. "Well, with
any luck, by tomorrow night this case will be history and then it
*will* be just the two of us."
"Promise?" Laura asked
"Look at it this way, Laura: the
anticipation only increases the pleasure."
"Then the pleasure should be
explosive, considering we've build up more than two years worth of
anticipation," she dryly replied.
He gave her a final squeeze.
"Come along, Luv. Bedtime."
Wearily, Laura stood up. She
gathered her nightgown and headed for the bathroom to change.
"You're not going to sleep in the bathtub again, are you?" Laura
asked anxiously as she paused at the door.
Remington did not relish the idea
of another night spent in the tub. Sighing, he said, "Not unless
you wear that long black gown with the strategically placed lace.
She looked down at the sheer silk
and lace she held in her hands. "Why? What's wrong with
"You're a detective. Figure it
The meaning came to her and she
blushed. Walking over to the closet, she pulled out another of the
nightgowns what Mildred had so thoughtfully provided.
"Maybe you'd prefer this one?"
she asked, holding up a long, white completely sheer gown made of
silk and lace.
Remington could only stare at it,
speechless, imagining her wearing it.
"Or this one?" she asked as she
held up a gown of peach colored silk that would mold to every
curve of her body. "Or perhaps this little getup?" she asked,
indicating a short frilly baby doll set of black lace with bikini
Remington could only gulp. "Uh,
no. Perhaps your original selection is the best choice after
Laura carried it into the
bathroom with her and quietly closed the door.
A few minutes later she came back
out wearing it. Remington had already changed into his black silk
pajama bottoms and robe. He had a sheet in his hands and was
contemplating the ceiling.
"Mr. Steele, what are you doing?"
"It Happened One Night, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, 1936," he
"What?" she asked, totally
"I'm trying to figure out how to
hang this sheet to divide the bed," he explained.
Laura didn't need an explanation;
she had figured out the movie reference. She grabbed the sheet
from him and declared, "Oh, for heaven's sake! It can't be so bad
that we're reduced to this."
"Laura, you don't know what it's
like laying next to a person, just inches away from them, wanting
them so much it hurts but knowing it's impossible. It's torture,
sheer torture. That's what it is," he explained.
"Yes, I do know what it's like,"
Laura quietly admitted, looking into Remington's deep blue eyes.
"But this isn't going to help," she said as she wadded up the
sheet and tossed it onto the floor.
"Then I guess it's the bathtub,"
he sadly lamented as he started in that direction.
"Remington, don't go. Please,"
she pleaded softly as she touched his arm to stop him. "Do you
remember the case involving that missing old prospector's
"Ah, yes. Everyone suddenly
developed a case of gold fever. But what does that have to do with
"Don't you remember?" Laura
asked. "We had to camp out in that old ghost town and you
neglected to bring along my sleeping bag, so we had to share
"If I remember correctly, we
didn't actually share; we took turns," Remington corrected.
"Yes, the first night. But the
second night we slept together."
"Such fond memories," he sighed.
"Huddled together for warmth, our bodies pressed together in close
"Don't you see what I'm getting
"No," he said. "I haven't got a
bloody clue what you're getting at."
"If we could share sleeping
accommodations then like two, mature responsible adults, then we
can certainly do it again now. And if you'll remember back to the
case, nothing happened that night."
"Not for the lack of wanting," he
"Now, Mr. Steele," Laura said
patiently as she hopped into bed and patted the pillow next to
her. "Why can't we go to sleep together like two, mature
"Easier said than done," he
muttered, still unconvinced.
Her brown eyes looked up at him,
pleading. She wanted to sleep with Remington next to her. She
needed the reassurance of his presence.
Reluctantly, Remington took off
his robe and joined Laura under the covers. Just to be on the safe
side, however, he lay as far away from her as was physically
"I hope someday when we look back
on this, we'll be able to laugh about it," Remington said.
"Years from now, when you talk of
this, and you will -- be kind," she replied.
"Tea and Sympathy, Deborah Kerr to John Carr, MGM, 1956,"
they said in unison, both laughing.
Remington reached over and took
Laura's hand in his. "If we can maintain our sense of humor, we're
going to be OK," he assured her.
She smiled in agreement and
squeezed held his hand.
Surprised by the comfort they
each felt from the simple act of holding the hand of the one they
loved, they soon fell asleep. But two nights without sleep had
taken their toll on Remington. He slept, but it was a troubled
sleep. He had lived by his wits long enough to smell trouble,
sleeping or waking, and his subconscious was in overdrive.
Somewhere in the misty fog
of his mind, he and Laura were once again playing strip poker.
The stakes had just been
raised. Laura lost the hand, slowly stood up, and provocatively
began removing her last
remaining article of clothing - a black teddy. Remington smiled
and noisily licked his
lips, even in his sleep. But then the spell was broken as a
came crashing through the
balcony window, shattering the glass around the living room.
Remington and Laura
instinctively hit the floor. The entire apartment was quickly
in thick nauseating smoke
which smelled amazingly like a cheap cigar. Suddenly, a spine
prickling laugh filled the
room, echoing bizarrely off the very walls. Laura and
scrambled to their feet and
stared into the thick smoke. It suddenly parted and Norman
Keyes stood before them,
thoroughly enjoying himself.
"I see you were expecting
me," Keyes declared triumphantly, gazing appreciatively at
Remington knew that there
was no way possible that Keyes could actually see Laura through
the smoke, but he quickly
grabbed his discarded jacket from the floor and tied it around
waist like a skirt. Keyes
just laughed louder. Remington started to lunge at him, but
grabbed his arm. Remington
literally bit his tongue as he abided by Laura's wishes.
Abruptly, Keyes' laugh
disappeared and his look turned deadly. He removed his half
cigar and pointed
threateningly with it in their direction, saying, "I'm on to
you, Pretty Boy.
I know all about your
little scheme to nail me at tomorrow's game. And let me tell
I'll catch up with you. I
don't know when, but I'll catch up. Every time you turn around,
expect to see me standing
there. Because one day you'll turn around and I *will* be
"I'm impressed, Norman,"
Remington said calmly.
"What do you mean, you're
impressed?" Norman demanded angrily.
"John Wayne to Montgomery
"Very funny, Steele. Make
your little jokes - but just remember that I'll have the last
Remington made a desperate
lunge for Keyes, but found himself clutching nothing but a
smoldering cigar. Keyes
fingernails-down-the-chalkboard laugh filled every nook and
cranny of the
Tossing restlessly in his sleep,
Remington kicked one leg off the bed. He rolled his head from
side-to-side several times, but did not awaken. In his state of
exhaustion, however, his normally well honed instincts weren't
quite up to par. He didn't notice the thump against the window or
the sound of the bedroom window being raised.