After "Bullet in Escrow"

Peter Gunn, season 3, episode 16.

Rating: T

In this episode Ed Stone, a man who blames Pete for sending him to prison on a five-year sentence, has just been released. He is intent on killing Gunn and calls to tell him he's on his way to do so. Lt. Jacoby tries to convince Pete to leave town until the police can capture Stone. Pete's having none of it and goes off in search of Stone's associates. When one, Ernie Daggett, is killed in a scuffle with Pete and Jacoby, the Lt. plants a fake news story that Gunn's been killed. A cabbie who saw the whole incident squeals to Stone. During his scheme to kill Pete, Stone kidnaps Edie and uses her as bait to lure Gunn to a cemetery so he can shoot him. Gunn is to come alone, if he brings anyone else, Stone will kill Edie. In a bold move, a bound and gagged Edie manages to thwart Stone's clear shot at Gunn. Pete evades Stone long enough to get the drop on him.

Ed Stone answered the ringing telephone. He knew who would be on the other end of the wire. "Hello."

"Hello? Stone? Peter Gunn."

"How was the funeral?"

"How would you like a chance at a real one?"

"Took the words right out of my mouth," Stone said.

"All right, we'll settle it."

"I'll set it up, Gunn," Stone stated. "I'm running it. Say hello to my hold card." Stone handed the receiver to Edie, who sat with her hands tied and a tape across her mouth. Stone ripped the tape from her mouth causing her to wince in pain. "Talk pretty."

Edie tried to compose herself, "Pete."

"Edie?" he questioned. "Edie, what're you…."

"I'm fine. I'm all right," she said, her voice heavy with fear.

Stone took the phone from her, "You can keep her that way, Gunn."

"Stone, you hurt her I swear I'll ki…."

"Shut up and listen," Stone growled. "We'll meet….your graveyard's as good a place as any. Be there in twenty minutes. We'll see who walks away."

"I'll be there," Pete challenged.

"Alone. No cops."

"I'll be alone."

"That's fine. Cause I'm bringin' yer girl. I see anyone but you…I kill her." Stone ended the call.

Pete stood by the pay phone thinking. His mind spinning with the thought that Stone might just kill Edie anyway. As he drove to the cemetery his mind was on saving Edie, not on saving himself. He hated himself for being the reason she was in such a perilous position. Maybe it would be better if he broke it off with her. It was too much to ask of any woman to deal with his life and all that went with it. Some hood was always using her to get back at him. It wasn't fair. She'd already been shot and his biggest fear was that one day some thug would follow through on a threat to kill her. If that happened he couldn't live with the guilt. It would be better to walk away from her, let her find a nice guy – like Emmett – someone who was safe. He loved her and would rather have her alive and with Emmett than constantly in danger because of him. But, she never complained about the risks. She only complained that he wasn't around often enough and that he was being called away by clients in trouble at the most inopportune times. He'd agreed with Mother's assessment that he was trouble and told Edie that; tried to convince her that he wasn't the kind of guy she should go out with, while at the same time trying desperately to convince her that she should. Now, three years on, he couldn't imagine his life without Edie. He tried to play it cool around her, but as soon as she stood on the bandstand to sing he got the dopiest grin on his face and turned into a lovesick schoolboy.

The sight of the cemetery gates shocked him back to reality and he steeled himself for the fight ahead. He walked to the gate, "Stone," he said in an unsure voice. In the graveyard, Stone held the bound and gagged Edie against a grave marker with one hand and a .45 in the other, the barrel pointed at her head. Stone gave no reply. "Stone," Pete said louder. No reply. Pete pushed open the gate and hesitated only a moment before beginning his search for the felon. The eerie quiet of the cemetery, the jumble of tombstones and monuments and the light fog made it difficult to ascertain where Stone might be. Pete knew he was walking into an ambush.

Stone had taken up a position behind a large marker that hid him and his hostage from view on three sides. Fear gripped Edie's heart. She was sure she would see Pete dead this time, Stone was bent on vengeance. She listened for Pete's footsteps and tried to hold her composure while silent tears streamed down her face. She tried to think of a way to warn Pete, to tip him off to her location. When Gunn passed into his line of fire, Stone leveled his weapon and took aim. Just has he pulled the trigger Edie heaved herself against Stone's outstretched arm causing the shot to miss its target. Stone slammed Edie against the limestone monument and dashed off for cover. Pete drew his own firearm and concentrated on finding Stone. The two men played a cat-and-mouse-game of pursuit and hiding until Pete caught a glimpse of a moving shadow. He squeezed off a shot in the direction of the shadow and Stone returned fire. Then the game was on again – more pursuit, more hiding. Pete slid around a large monument, taking cover in its crevices. He spotted Stone walking silently by. "Stone!" he yelled and ducked into the safety of the monument as two bullets came at him. Pete fired off two quick shots, hitting Stone and dropping him to the ground. As he watched his would-be killer fell, Pete dashed over to where he saw Edie slumped at the base of a marker. He prayed that she was still alive. As he approached, she tried to regain her feet; Pete helped her to sit against the tombstone. "Edie…let's get you up here." He unwound the heavy tape that tied her hands, his breathing finally catching up with his pounding heart. Gently, he removed the tape that covered her mouth.

"Pete," she sobbed. "Oh, Peter."

He pulled her into his arms. "Easy honey, it's all over now." A wave of relief crashed over him and he pressed his lips to her cheek. 'She's safe' he thought.

"I was so scared," she cried, falling against him and glad to be in his embrace.

He pressed his forehead against hers. "That's a pretty good move for a scared girl," he said, the relief clear in his voice. He put his hand under her chin and looked into her eyes, "that's one I owe you." Pete helped her to her feet, his arms around her, and led her to his car. The big engine roared to life and as he pulled the care away he pulled Edie close to him. Her head rested against his shoulder. He drove as fast as he dared to his apartment. He needed a cigarette and stiff drink. He needed to get Edie away from that cemetery and away from this night.

Pete closed and locked the door to his apartment and leaned against it, holding Edie against his chest. He could feel her body shaking with tears. "It's all right, honey. You're safe," he whispered. He led her over to the couch, helped her off with her coat and slid her heels off. He poured them each a healthy shot of bourbon. Pete swallowed the contents of his glass in one gulp. "Come on, Edie, just a sip to help calm you down." He knelt before her and handed her the glass. She took a sip and then another before setting the glass on the coffee table. Pete moved to the couch and wrapped his arms around her. "You were amazing," he said softly, his lips dabbing kisses against her hair.

"Oh, Pete, I thought…I had to do something," she sobbed.

"You did. Thank you." He pulled her close. "I love you."

"I love you." Edie buried her head against his chest.

Pete knew he should call Lt. Jacoby, but he was in no mood to spend the rest of the night going over this with him, and Edie was certainly in no state to be subjected to questions. After several long minutes, Pete helped her to her feet and led her upstairs. "Why don't you change out of those clothes?" He handed her a clean pair of his pajamas. "I know you're exhausted."

"I am…and still shook up."

"I know." He held her hands in his, "how 'bout some warm brandy and then off to bed?"

"All right," Edie relented. She was exhausted and hoped sleep would take away some of the memory of tonight.

When Pete returned with a snifter of warming brandy, Edie was sitting in bed, her knees pulled up to her chest, the blanket tucked around her. He eyed her appreciatively, "Think my pajamas look better on you." Edie smiled. "Have a few sips," Pete handed her the snifter. He carefully removed his suit, hanging it on the valet. Hung his tie on the rack and put his shirt in the pile for the laundry. Edie watched him and wondered to herself if he spent more time on his wardrobe than she did. When he returned to the bedside, he noticed the bottoms to the pajamas he'd given Edie, "these for me?" He pulled them on.

"Uh huh." Edie set the snifter down on the bedside table and scooted under the covers. Pete slid in next to her, pulling her close like spoons in a drawer. She sighed when his lips touched that certain place on her neck. "Pete."

"Shhh, honey, just try to snuggle down and get some sleep. I'm right here."