Steele Drivin' Man 14/?
Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
Anne Rose <>

It's been a hectic few days for old Fred. Strangers in his back seat, the
boss in the slammer - it's enough to make a guy go on for pages!

Thank you again to Lauryn for all her editorial assistance and keen insight.

Nancy, you may archive.

Thanks for reading, and as always, feedback is appreciated.


DATE: November 14, 1985
MILEAGE: 52,186
MAINTENANCE: Shampoo interior upholstery

I've got to start paying more attention to those little voices that try to
tell me what to do.

Wednesday morning when I dropped Mr. Steele off at the address he gave me,
he told me to go on and that he'd call me when he was done. But I sure wish
I'd listened to my gut feeling that said I should just stick around. It
wouldn't have been any trouble û I had a new Car and Driver I hadn't
touched, and Miss Holt didn't need me. I even stopped at the end of the
drive and thought about it. In the end, I decided I'd better do what I was
told. If only I'd been listening, though, we'd have all avoided a lot of
worrying and lost sleep.

Mr. Steele never called, which didn't really surprise me, since he sometimes
ends up calling Miss Holt anyway. So I just hung around until quitting time
and then I went home.

I was just getting comfortable in front of the Lakers game when Miss Holt
called. She apologized for calling me after hours but she wanted to know
when I had seen Mr. Steele last. You couldn't miss the panic in her voice.
I told her about dropping him off in Brentwood, and asked her what was going
on. When she said she hadn't heard from him or been able to reach him, I
knew something was wrong. This time I listened to that little voice, threw
on some shoes and picked up Miss Holt.

We started at the house in Brentwood and tried to get a look in the windows,
but the house was dark and the yard wasnÆt very well lit. I drove up and
down the streets. Miss Holt went back and forth between looking out the
windows and making calls to the hospitals and Miss Krebs. Finally I pointed
out that we weren't going to get much done in the dark. Although I could
tell she didn't really want to, Miss Holt finally let me take her home. I
didn't sleep so good that night.

At first light I was up checking all the places on a list Miss Holt gave me.
I went to the boxing gym, Mr. Monroe's warehouse, Chez Rive, the tailor
shop, a couple of video stores and Mr. Wallace's mission. No one had seen
him for a while. I checked around some other places like Mr. SteeleÆs
favorite OTB parlor, his bookie, and the track. Miss Holt had left them off
the list but I can read between the lines. She just wanted to find him û and
quick. No questions asked. Still no luck with Mr. Steele, but I did win
$10 in the sixth race. I told Miss Holt what I'd found, or hadn't found

The next morning Miss Krebs called and told me to come by and pick up the
new owner, Mr. Cranston. New owner? What? I thought Miss Krebs was
kidding, but she sounded dead serious, and was so formal with me I knew
somebody had to be listening at her end.

I still didn't know what was going on, but I swung by Century City to pick
this guy up. It was really eating my lunch that I didn't have a clue why
this Cranston was the new owner. Obviously limos were new to him, because
he was like a kid on a carnival ride, playing with the windows and digging
around. Then he found the car phone and started calling all his friends,
bragging to them about where he was and what he was doing. What a yutz. I
hope Miss Holt doesn't see this month's mobile phone bill.

I spent the rest of the afternoon ferrying him around. At one point we
picked up his girlfriend, some blonde bubblehead named Debbie. I drove them
around town and then back to each of their houses so they could change for
dinner. Man, I could see major overtime in this day. I just did my best
invisible chauffeur routine and took them wherever.

When I had a minute I tried calling upstairs to see if someone could give me
an explanation, but no one answered.

The yutz and the bubblehead obviously didn't know the second rule of limo
riding û watch what you say until you're sure you can trust the driver.
They just about spilled out the whole scheme behind my head. I wasn't quite
sure what they meant about a hole in the floor, but I knew I had to get hold
of somebody, and fast. I was tied up in knots by the time I dropped them
off at the Colony Park Club.

As soon as they were inside I started calling, but it made me crazy that no
one was home, or had their answering machine on. I couldn't get in touch
with Mr. Steele, Miss Holt or Miss Krebs to warn them.

In the parking lot I was pacing like a tiger in a cage while Cranston
partied inside. I wanted to drive to the office or Miss Holt's or
someplace, but I knew I couldn't be missing when Cranston was ready to

I figured my best bet was to keep doing what I was doing, so when the valet
flagged me I poured on the devoted driver routine for Cranston, nice and
thick. They climbed into the back seat all smiles. Cranston told me to just
drive them around the city until the champagne ran out. I smiled back,
told him yessir, shut the doors, checked my mirrors, and off we went. In a
minute I heard the pop of a cork. They must have found the bottle of Cristal
in the cooler. Mr. Steele was not going to like that one bit û I knew he had
some serious cash tied up in that champagne. They were so tipsy already
they were spilling it all over the upholstery.

It worked like a charm, though. I heard the rest of the plot until they'd
worn themselves out. Then they moved on to other kinds of carrying on.

Finally they'd had enough partying and I got rid of them. It was really
late but I just had to talk to someone. I couldn't stand it any longer. I
reached Miss Holt at home, and before I could get out the first sentence she
told me Mr. Steele was in jail. I could not believe what she said. I felt
a huge lump in my throat when she described how he had been caught. I
didn't have the heart to tell her what I'd heard from the backseat û she was
obviously incredibly upset already. I asked her if there was anything I
could do, but she said no one would be able to see him at this hour, and
we'd just have to wait until morning. There I was with another sleepless

First thing in the morning I went to see Mr. Steele in the slammer. Talk
about being in a bad mood. He wasn't very interested in the stack of Green
Hornet comic books I brought. I know all he wanted was out.

The rest of the morning I tried to find something to keep me busy. Cranston
never called, and neither did Miss Holt. Finally, late in the afternoon, I
took everyone to the airport, but no one was going on a trip. I was just
relieved to see Mr. Steele out of jail. Even though I still didn't
understand why we were there, I was happy to do something useful. Important
stuff must have happened inside while I moved from loading zone to loading
zone, because they were all pretty wound up when we left a couple of hours
later. From what they were saying, I started to get a better idea of
everything that had happened in the past 36 hours.

I took everyone home, Mr. Steele last. I knew something was on his mind
because he was so quiet back there. When we got to Rossmore he waited for
me to open the door, which he hasn't done in ages, so I was really on the
alert. He stood on one side of the door and me on the other, but he didn't
say anything right away. When he finally spoke, he asked me if I knew what
a toady is. Well I know about frogs, but I didn't know what he was getting
at so I said I didn't. He told me a toady was someone whose loyalties
shifted to whoever could do the most for him. When I asked him why he was
bringing this up, he said he had seen me with Cranston outside the Colony
Park Club. Then it hit me - he thought I was sucking up to Cranston! I
explained to him why it looked like it did, and what I had found out but
couldn't tell anyone. At least he had the decency to listen to my side of
things. I saw his expression change in a second. The mickey, the lost day,
the night in jail, the boat mess, all flashed over his face while he stood
there looking into the darkness. He mumbled something to himself and
hurried inside.

From now on I'm going to listen to those little voices.
To Be Continued---
To Part 15