Hallelujah! Fred has found his
muse. Special thanks (again) to my editor
Lauryn for ideas and insights, and to Susan for location information only a
native can provide!
As always your feedback is appreciated.
Nancy, you may archive. I don't
think readers will have any trouble recognizing this ep.
STEELE DRIVIN' MAN 20/?
DATE: January 30, 1986
SERVICE: Suspension overhaul
The suspension on this beast has had one bad week. The leaf springs haven't had this much stress since I tried to bottom out with movie stars in the backseat.
Tuesday morning I picked up Mr. Steele and this enormous blimp of a guy at the Rossmore. He must have been pushing 350. Mr. Steele got in, and this guy literally crawled, I mean hands and knees crawled, into the back seat. No way was he going to just step in and swing himself in place the way Mr. Steele does. He's a candidate for the grapefruit diet if there ever was one. And what a whiner.
I took them to the polo grounds in Burbank and found a quiet place to park. Now there's a "sport" that someone's going to have to explain to me someday. Watching guys ride up and down the field swinging mallets at a little white ball isn't what I call a sport. I mean, the horses are getting all the exercise.
I was talking to one of the stablehands and he was telling me about how delicate these animals are. And talk about a hefty price tag. I saw a lot of expensive horseflesh put in danger watching a couple of workers try to get Son of Flubber up on a pony so they could take a picture. I don't know who I felt more sorry for - the horse or the guys. I could see the horse wasn't happy.
Mr. Steele and Flubber were talking to another man in polo duds when Flubber took off for the stables like he'd been lit. A minute later Miss Holt pulled up, and while she and Mr. Steele were talking one of those plain sedans that had 'government' written all over it came around the corner fast. Two suits got out and went in the barn. I got out and peeked around the corner because they sure looked like trouble. I heard a shot, then watched Mr. Steele and Miss Holt run in. A few seconds later they were back with big boy and they ducked into a horse trailer. The suits came running out too, took a quick look around, then peeled out in their car.
The three of them came out of the trailer, and while they talked I went back to the car to wait. As they came around the side of the barn I heard Miss Holt tell Flubber we were going back to the office, and he crawled in back. I started up and was just about to pull away when another guy jumped in the back seat, and scared the heck out of both of us.
After he calmed down Flubber starting
laying into this guy, demanding his caviar delivery. This guy
sounded Russian to me, and was obviously trying to squeeze more
money out of him. They went back and forth for quite a while.
Obviously neither one of them was going to give an inch. The
Russian guy put him off eventually and told him that he'd call
him, but when Flubber threatened to sit on him until he got his
caviar, the Russian was out the door and running at the next red
light. I don't blame him.
It was dark by the time we left for home. Miss Holt and Mr. Steele were obviously both really irritated with this client. What a bull in a china shop. Miss Holt called him an "overgrown brat". Amen to that. When the phone rang and Mr. Steele answered I could hear the racket on the handset up where I was, and obviously something bad was going on. Mr. Steele told me where to go and I manhandled the beast through a yoo-ey.
At the Perret warehouse Mr. Steele and Miss Holt ran in and I watched the parking lot. It had been awfully quiet for a while and Miss Holt startled me when she hollered my name, because I could tell there was trouble in her voice. I glanced back and saw them hauling something large so I popped open the trunk. Terrific! A body. They dumped the poor guy in there, and Miss Holt got in with me. I realized it was the same guy who had ridden with me earlier. I wanted to tell her right then that I wished she had given me a better job description way back when. Dogs, magazines, whiners I can handle - just not dead people. But because I'm a good soldier I didn't say anything.
As we were driving away I could see Miss Holt was lost in thought. When I asked her what we were going to do with the body, I could tell we were on the same page. We were both thinking, ok, we've got this body, what do we do next? She didn't say anything for awhile, but I could hear those wheels turning.
Eventually she told me to head to Sylmar and I really thought she'd lost it when we pulled into an enormous salvage yard. Even though I really didn't want to, I rolled through it quietly with my headlights off while Miss Holt was obviously looking for something. It turned out to be a somebody, a real creep show of a guy Miss Holt called Weasel. He looked like the kind of bum who'd run up and squeegee your car windows and ask for 20 bucks. I was ready to throw it into reverse, but since Miss Holt didn't seem too scared I told myself to calm down. She did keep a healthy distance away from him, though.
After they talked for a minute this bottom feeder and Miss Holt started walking, and she waved me to follow. We stopped at an old Caddy and Weasel opened the trunk. We shoe-horned the stiff (as he called it) into it and Weasel said he'd take good care of it. If he was game, that was fine with me. Where do they find people like that?
Wednesday I took Mr. Steele and Flubber to Rome Enterprises, where there was an office and a couple of really big warehouses. I flipped through my Green Lantern and then a parts catalog, since they were gone a long time. I was just about to get out and check with someone inside when Miss Holt and some tall guy I'd never seen before pulled in but went on back behind one of the warehouses. A few minutes later all four of them showed up. I followed the Rabbit back to the office with Mr. Steele and Flubber in the back. They both seemed a little damp.
While everyone was at lunch I went back to the salvage yard with $100 from Miss Holt in my pocket. I'm kinda glad we went there in the dark first, because in daylight it wasn't a whole lot better. Too much to see! Lots of places for low lifes to hang out. Anyway, I found Weasel, retrieved the body and paid him off. It's a good thing it's January and not August, 'cause the Russian was already getting a little ripe.
My next stop was the Perret warehouse where Miss Krebs and another Russian-sounding guy were hard at work on some crates. He helped me move the body again and then I went back to the office. I should get hearse driver's overtime this week.
That afternoon we were back at the Equestrian Center. Mr. Steele went in the barn and a few minutes later I was kind of surprised to see him with a polo mallet and a helmet in his hands. I know he likes to bet on the ponies, but I didn't know he knew what to do once he was on one.
All the money people were wandering around by now, going in and out of some big party tents and setting up their chairs in shady spots to watch the game. Since I didn't understand what was going on I was only half awake when Flubber drove up in the Rabbit. I didn't see any sign of Miss Holt, so I was a little worried about him being in the car but not her. He came rumbling by and went in the barn, with those same two suits chasing him. Score one for him because he used the top half of the Dutch door to knock out one of the suits. Miss Holt jumped out of a station wagon I'd never seen before, and when she saw the suit on the ground, she ran in the barn too.
I heard a lot of cheering at the field as somebody scored, and then right after that a guy hollered in pain. Everyone rushed to the Rome tent to see what was going on, so I didn't have a good view, but there was a big ruckus when the crate with the dead guy in it was opened. I could see Mr. Steele watching the whole thing from the back of his horse, and when the polo guy made a run for it, he steered his horse through the crowd and made a great flying tackle from the saddle. From polo to rodeo - looked like calf-roping if you ask me. Mr. Steele brought him down with a nice right to the nose. But he's going to pay for it later.
That was enough of the horsey and caviar crowd for me. Give me a Lakers game and a hot dog any time.