Chapter 15

Just after eight o'clock in the evening, a man appeared in the corridor outside the offices of Remington Steele Investigations. Dressed in a pair of jeans and a leather jacket, he had been hiding in the bathrooms on the thirteenth floor of the Century Plaza Towers, waiting for the offices to empty and the workers to go home. Now, checking to see that this part of the eleventh floor was clear, he took out an electric handheld drill, crouched down and proceeded to drill the lock on the agency door. When the lock's mechanism was destroyed, he pushed back the bolt, entered the outer office, and pulled out a small flashlight.

Getting his bearings, he strode quickly to Remington Steele's office and opened the door. The room was in darkness. He shone the light around, then had started walking towards the desk when the light from Steele's executive bathroom came on, and Steele appeared, framed in the doorway.

"Lost your way, old chap?" he asked.

The intruder was taken by surprise, but reacted quickly, pulling out a revolver and pointing it at Steele, who was silhouetted in the light from his bathroom. At this distance, the gunman could not miss. Steele put his hands up. Suddenly, the office was flooded with light, temporarily blinding both the gunman and Steele. Detective John Corey took two quick strides into the room and shoved his gun into the intruder's back before he could react. A uniformed cop stepped through the connecting door from Laura's office and pointed his gun at the intruder's head. The gunman dropped his gun on the floor and raised his hands.

Laura and Amram Fouad appeared in the bathroom doorway behind Steele. "Is it over?" she asked.

"Yeah, Laura, we got him," replied John, as the uniformed officer handcuffed the intruder, then proceeded to lean him against the wall and body search him. John picked up the gun from the floor using a latex glove, and placed it inside a plastic evidence bag.

"Why don't we all sit down, eh?" said Steele. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I could use a drink."

Fouad and Corey sat down on the couch. Fouad declined alcohol and Corey was on duty, so Laura poured them both ginger ales, while Steele poured cognacs for the two of them.

"Well," said Corey, "we've got this guy dead to rights on B & E and threatening behavior using a firearm. But that's just the beginning. With luck, this gun will match the one that shot at you two at the Farmers Market, and if the prints match the newspaper, then it's a slam-dunk. Can you identify him as the man that fired at you?" he asked Steele.

"Ah, no doubt about it."

"Well then, that makes it more or less a certainty anyway, with your testimony that he's the shooter, even if he used a different gun."

"He's not reacting at all," pointed out Laura. "Do you think he understands English?"

"Who knows? Some of these street banditos are tough, tough guys. But we'll get the translator in and run him through all the evidence in the next couple of days, make sure he knows he's going away for a really long stretch, and then see if he wants to make a deal," replied John.

"The man who called me on the phone definitely spoke English," noted Steele.

Amram Fouad, who had been silent thus far, now spoke up. "Mr Steele, please forgive me, but I do not understand what is going on here."

"Mr Fouad, this man came here to steal the pages of the Codex which he thought were being kept in our office. We laid a trap for him. After the press conference this morning, the story about the rediscovered Codex pages was printed in the local newspapers, and we made sure that enough information was released – that the Codex was being kept here for one day and would be shipped to Israel tomorrow – to force this man to attempt the robbery tonight."

"I see. But who is this man?"

"Oh, he's probably just a hired hand, Mr Fouad," said John Corey. "A Mexican, we suspect, probably an illegal alien who entered the country just to do this job – to steal the Codex pages and kill anyone who got in his way."

"Who is he working for?" asked Fouad, still puzzled.

Remington replied, "Well that is the key question, Mr Fouad. I am sorry to say, we suspect that he works for your brother, Abi Fouad."

"Abi Fouad? What makes you think this?"

"Well, firstly there is the Mexico connection: your brother is, after all, the head of your family's business interests in Mexico, and if this man proves, as we suspect, to be Mexican, it will be of significance. The key will be, however, if this man talks and tells the police who hired him."

"Is that all, Mr Steele – a potential connection to Mexico?"

"No, Mr Fouad, there is more. You see, even though this story appeared in today's evening newspaper, and on the television news…" Steele indicated the copy of the Herald-Examiner that was still on the coffee table in front of them, "we could not be sure that the gunman would see it, or that he understood English. So we conducted a ruse. Yesterday, we sent a telex to your offices in Mexico, indicating that the Codex was being held in our office under lock and key. The message was worded as if you had left Los Angeles, and our agency was trying to catch up with you to pass the information on – something along the lines of, 'If Amram Fouad stops at the Mexico office, please tell him Remington Steele has obtained the Codex'. Of course, any such message would have been taken by the telex operators directly to your brother, and he would have known we had the fragments."

"It still seems circumstantial only, would you not say so, Mr Steele?"

"Yes, perhaps. As I said, these are only our suspicions. Perhaps only a direct conversation asking your brother whether he hired this gunman will provide an answer. Or alternatively, if this gunman indicates who hired him. Our agency's job was to recover any pieces of the Codex, Mr Fouad – which we've done. Catching this gunman was a secondary matter. Who hired him is not really of concern to us. But we wanted to inform you of our suspicions; how you use that information is up to you…it is, undoubtedly, a sensitive family matter."

Laura came into the conversation for the first time, "However, Mr Fouad, if your brother is officially implicated, then it becomes a matter for Detective Corey, here. This man…" she nodded, indicating the intruder, "carried out several serious crimes on US soil; if your brother is implicated as his accomplice, it will be up to the official authorities to decide how to proceed."

"I will need to talk to you some more, Mr Fouad," said John. "Please do not leave town until I have, okay?"

"Of course, Detective."

"In that case, I'll be going," said John, rising and moving towards the exit, accompanied by the uniformed cop and the intruder. "I'll speak to you soon Laura, Remington. Good night."

Steele and Laura wished John good night, then turned to a relieved Amram Fouad. "Well, I think that concludes our business, Mr Steele, except for one thing."

"Yes, Mr Fouad. The actual pages of the Codex are at this moment safely held in the Federal Building downtown. Once permission is granted by the State Department for their export, they will be placed into the custody of the Israeli consulate. It will be the Government of Israel's responsibility to ensure the pages are safely shipped to the Hebrew University.

"After you've spoken to Detective Corey, I am sure you will be free to return home. Of course, there will be a large amount of publicity concerning this incident, and no doubt that publicity will follow you to Rio de Janeiro very quickly."

"Thank you Mr Steele. Yes, I am expecting it, but that is not the reason I did it."

"Of course not, Mr Fouad."

"Now Mr Steele…and Mrs Steele, you have my profound thanks," said Fouad, taking out his checkbook. He proceeded to write a check, which he tore off and passed to Laura. It was for $220,000. "That covers the agreed price of the Codex pages, and an extra ten per cent for your agency – I think this is the usual amount?"

"Thank you, Mr Fouad, that is correct." Remington glanced towards the door, where Fred had appeared out of nowhere. "Ah, Fred! Would you be kind enough to drive Mr Fouad back to the Bonaventure, please? And then head on home yourself."

Fouad stood, nodded to Steele and to Laura, and then accompanied Fred out of the office.

When they were finally alone, Laura and Steele sat down next to each other, half facing one another, and sipped their brandies. Laura ran her hand through Remington's hair, then leaned forward and kissed him. "All in all, an excellent result, Mr Steele," she said.

"Forty thousand dollars…not too shabby, as we used to say in London argot, Mrs Steele."

"That's an understatement, I'd venture," replied Laura. "Today the news was only local, but do you realize how big this will be once it becomes national, or international? It'll be bigger than the Hapsburg Dagger case. You – we – recovered two pages of the Aleppo Codex! Remington, I'd prepare yourself…"

"Just imagine it, Laura. The Washington Post, Le Monde, The Times…maybe even Newsweek or the networks! Perhaps we'll be interviewed by Dan Rather and appear on the CBS Evening News, eh?"

Laura chuckled, "Could be, Remington, could be – although if it happens, I might pass on the last one. I don't think I want to be on television after what happened with Windsor Thomas. And I'm not sure how I would feel if my mother saw me on the small screen!"

Steele leaned forward and kissed her. "You know, Laura, it just shows how good we are together. Your inspiration about approaching Rabbi Meldola was the crux of this case."

"Ah, but your multilingual charm was what had everyone working together towards the final result, wasn't it? – Fouad, John, even the rabbi."

"True, Laura, true…"

"You know, Mr Steele," said Laura, running her hand through Remington's supernaturally thick, black hair yet again, "with your looks and my brains, we could really go places!"