the Past" Part 2
By Debra Talley, 2012
Written in honor of the 30th anniversary of "Remington Steele"
If former clients of the Remington Steele Agency had happened upon the kitchen of Gorse Cottage that night, they would not have believed their eyes. While Gammy showed Laura how to made Irish soda bread, Remington expertly diced and chopped potatoes and leeks for Gammy's famous leek and potato soup.
Amid the bustle of preparations, Remington and Laura did their best to satisfy Gammy's curiosity and fill in some of the gaps in his mysterious past. It was a tricky thing to find the right balance between telling her enough but not too much.
"You always had an active imagination, but how the devil did you come up with all those names you adopted?" Gammy asked, trying to make sense of what she was hearing.
"Some of them were the names of characters Humphrey Bogart played in the movies," Laura explained.
"The rest I just . . . made up," Remington added. "Those names served their purpose of hiding my true identity while I struggled to survive. But the only name that stuck was the one Laura created - Remington Steele."
"Perhaps Remington Steele
was always inside you. Perhaps it just took some it just took
extraordinary person to bring him to the forefront," Gammy suggested as she popped the bread in the oven.
Remington pondered Gammy's insight as he brushed flour from her nose and then raked the last of the chopped leeks into the already bubbling soup pot.
"Have a seat while we wait for the bread to cook and the soup to finish simmering," she told them. Then walking into the hall, she pulled a spiral bound book from the bookcase and walked back into the kitchen with it. "I've always felt that the kitchen table is the heart of a family, so we'll just sit here."
After they were seated, Gammy leaned over and pushed the spiral bound book across the table to Remington. When he realized what he was holding in his hands, he broke into the lop-sided grin both Laura and Gammy loved so much.
"I kept it safe, hoping that someday I'd be able to return it to you," Gammy explained as he opened the book. When he turned to the first page, she said, "You had a God given artistic gift. I hope you've continued to nurture it."
Remington didn't trust himself to speak, so he just slowly turned through the pages of his childhood sketchbook. Laura recognized many of the places she had seen as they explored Glendalough. There was the tombstone tunnel where they had found refuge from the rain and the view of the valley from the rock they had rested on, as well as the wooden bridge, St. Kevin's Kitchen and numerous sketches of Celtic crosses and tombstones.
One drawing of the round tower caught Laura's eye. "I don't remember seeing a rope ladder hanging from that large window opening," she said, pointing to the ladder in the picture.
"The rope was there only in my imagination," he told her. "I always wished I could scale that wall and have a look inside." He quickly showed her the drawing on the next page, saying, "Here's my impression of what the interior of the tower might have looked like."
"It looks so real; it's like you actual saw it with your own eyes," Laura declared in amazement.
There were sketches of Gorse Cottage and of Gammy hanging clothes on the line behind the house and even churning butter in the kitchen. Laura's favorite, however, was of the inside of the grocery she and Remington had stopped at earlier that day. In the sketch, Gammy was holding a basket full of necessities such as matches and laundry soap, socks and salt. Her thoughts were not on her purchases, however; they were on the item she wanted but could not afford to buy - a box of chocolates. Remington had captured the look of longing in her eyes as she ran her hand over the shiny wrapper.
"It's grateful I am that you've returned to me and restored life to that hollow corner of my heart that appeared after you left," Gammy said with a catch in her voice. "But before I'm completely undone, play us some music on that whistle of yours."
He pulled the tin whistle from the zippered pocket of his raincoat, which had been placed nearby in an empty chair. He lifted it to his lips, took a deep breath and began to play. In seconds, every corner of the little house was filled with the sound of lilting music and laughter.
****** ****** ******
When the dishes were cleared from the table and then washed, Grammy sent Remington and Laura back to the their seats. Mysteriously, she opened the refrigerator, took out a glass pitcher of milk, filled three glasses and then set them on the table.
"I confess, I did more than nap while you were in the valley," Gammy confessed as she removed something from the pie safe and placed it on the counter. They couldn't see what she was doing, but soon she turned and placed three saucers of gingerbread with lemon sauce in front of them on the table.
"I knew I smelled gingerbread when we returned from the valley!" Remington exclaimed as he jumped up from the table and rushed over to Gammy, pulling her into his arms and dancing her around the kitchen amidst peals of laughter.
After he led Gammy back to her chair, he hurried back to his own seat, saying, "Laura, Gammy makes the best gingerbread in all of Ireland. The rule was that I couldn't have mine until my lesson were all done."
"Is that what it'll take for you to do your fair share of Agency paperwork?" Laura asked.
Remington took a huge bite of gingerbread and moaned with delight. "Laura, I'll do my paperwork and yours if you bake this for me," he declared.
"Careful, Mr. Steele. Don't promise what you can't deliver," she warned as she took her first bite of culinary paradise. After she swallowed, Laura moaned and quickly stabbed another bite with her fork. With her mouth full of gingerbread, she said, "I've got a better idea. You cook this for me and I'll do all the paperwork!"
****** ****** ******
Remington knew Gammy was getting tired, but he wasn't ready to leave just yet. "Any chance you can find me a pencil?" he asked her.
Walking to the bookcase in the hall once again, she picked up a circular, zippered pouch and handed it to him.
"My pencils!" he exclaimed. "You kept them all these years?"
"I put them away with your sketchbook, hoping that one day you would use them again."
Remington instructed Gammy to stand in front of the kitchen door with its white ruffled curtains so he could sketch her. He worked quickly but carefully, realizing she wouldn't be able to stand for an extended length of time. When he finished drawing, he pulled her chair out for her as she sat back down at the table.
Returning to his own seat, he continued to sketch. Wondering why he was still drawing, Laura leaned over so she could watch his hands. Realizing what he was up to, she smiled and said, "Mr. Steele, you never cease to amaze me."
Then turning to Gammy, Laura said, "I can't believe I'm asking this, but while Mr. Steele finishes his project, would you mind letting me copy your recipe for gingerbread and lemon sauce?"
Startled, Remington dropped his pencil.
****** ****** ******
When Remington finished his drawing, he signed his name and carefully tore the page from the sketchbook. Gammy had just finished preparing a box of gingerbread and lemon sauce for them to take when they left and was drying her hands. Remington walked over to her and said, "I can't possibly repay you for all you've done for me. You provided me with food, clothing, a roof over my head, acceptance - and most importantly, unconditional love. Please accept this small token of my affection," he said as he handed her the sketch on which he had been working.
She looked at the drawing he handed her and her eyes overflowed with joy. There she was, standing in front of her kitchen curtains with Remington behind her and looking over her shoulder, his arms encircling her shoulders and his hands clasped together in front of her.
"Oh, Brian, it's speechless I am. It will have an honored place on my mantle and every time I look at it, I'll remember this glorious day."
Remington gave her a warm embrace, hesitant to let go of the extraordinary woman who had reminded him that past memories were a precious part of his present. He released her only when Laura appeared beside him holding his black raincoat.
As Remington shrugged into his coat, Laura took one last look at the amazing sketch the petite older woman was still holding. Then putting her arms around Gammy, Laura said, "Thank you for such a magical day."
"Indeed, it has been magical," Gammy agreed. Turning to Remington, she said, "I'm going to steal away your lovely lass for a bit. Have another piece of gingerbread while you're waiting."
Remington didn't need to be told twice. He quickly sat down and served himself a big piece of heaven.
****** ****** ******
Laura followed Gammy through the living room and into her small but cozy bedroom. Walking over to a large trunk at the foot of her bed, the older lady said, "Laura, love, would you please help me lift the lid?"
After they raised the lid together, Laura watched as Gammy began to rummage through a lifetime's worth of lace handkerchiefs, hand-pieced quilts, embroidered pillows, elegant Irish linen, and clothes in sizes that would have fit both a baby and an eleven-year-old boy.
Finally, Gammy exclaimed, "Ah, here it is" and eased a black, lacy, hand-crocheted black shawl out of her memory trunk. It was sprinkled with flecks of silver threads that gave the whole creation the illusion of bright stars sparkling in the darkest night.
Laura couldn't help herself - she reached over and fingered it. "Gammy, it's exquisite and soft as velvet. It's the loveliest thing I've ever seen."
"Laura, I know you spoke truth when you told me Brian was far more than just a friend. Perhaps the two of you are still in the process of sorting your feelings and putting a name on it."
"Are you sure an Irish fairy
didn't pay you a visit while we were at Glendalough?" Laura
asked with a shy smile.
"When you reach my age, lass, you won't need to rely on the fairies to tell you what your heart already knows. Now, put it around your shoulders and take a look at yourself in the mirror," Gammy instructed as she helped Laura to straighten the shawl.
She led Laura to a full-length mirror in the corner of the room and watched as a glowing smile lit up the face of her Brian's charming young acushla. "It was made for you, darlin'. When you wear it, I want you to remember the happiness we all shared here today."
Laura didn't even consider refusing the gift. Giving the older woman a hug and a kiss on the cheek, she said, "Thank you, Gammy. I'll cherish it always."
"Don't be afraid to love him, lass," Grammy told her. "Love is too precious a thing to be wasted."
****** ****** ******
Remington was drinking a glass of milk when they returned to the kitchen. "Laura!" he exclaimed, grabbing a napkin and wiping his mouth. "You look spectacular!" Rising and walking across the room to where she was standing beside Gammy, he said, "Model it for me, eh?"
In spite of feeling self-conscious, she managed to perform a couple of slow twirls, feeling the soft yarn wrap around her body like the softest of embraces.
"You look like a lovely, fresh-faced Irish lass," he said with a twinkle in his smile. Then putting the whistle in his pocket and picking up the sketchbook, pencil pouch and box of gingerbread tied with string, Remington took Grammy's hand in his and recited an old Irish blessing he thought he had forgotten:
Sure, and this isn't just blarney,
For what I say it true,
The luck of the Irish was with me
The day that I met you.
He kissed each of Gammy's hands in turn and gave her a final embrace. Then he opened the kitchen door and he and Laura disappeared into the misty night.
****** ****** ******
Mildred had returned to LA earlier that day, so Laura and Remington had the room to themselves. Laura showered in the bathroom down the hall, drying her hair with the adapter Remington had gotten from the owner of the B&B. By the time he showered and returned to the room, Laura was already asleep. Giving her a kiss on the cheek, he crawled into his own bed and tried to settle down for a few hours of sleep.
****** ****** ******
Laura awakened in the wee hours of the morning and noticed Remington's empty bed. Giving the room a quick look, she saw him sitting in a chair near the window. Using the little bit of light the window provided, he was drawing in his sketchbook. Not wanting to disturb him, she closed her eyes fell asleep again.
****** ****** ******
Laura's travel alarm went off and she automatically hit the snooze.
"Sorry, love, but our flight leaves bright and early. No snoozing this morning," Remington reminded her as he gathered his shaving kit.
"Shouldn't you be the one hitting the snooze while I tell you to rise and shine?" she mumbled into the pillow.
Walking around her bed, he threw back her covers and swatted her feet. "I'm going to shave in the bathroom while you get dressed," he informed her. "And then I'm taking our gingerbread down to kitchen for a quick warm up and some milk."
"Gingerbread?" she exclaimed, sitting up and abruptly jumping to her feet. "Give me a second in the bathroom first!" she said, rushing to the room down the hall.
In less than a minute, she rushed back into their room and found Remington sitting on her bed, still holding his shaving kit. "Out! Out!" she manically told him as she pulled him up by his arm, pushed him out the door, and then shut the door behind him and locked it.
Quickly throwing on some clothes, she French braided her hair as she walked toward the window and looked outside. Turning around, she noticed Remington's opened sketchbook lying in the chair. She picked it up and sat down, debating with herself whether or not she should look at what he had drawn during the night.
Deciding he would have put it away if he hadn't wanted to her to take a look, she tentatively glanced at the open page. It was the tombstone tunnel from Glendalough, but it was different from the childhood drawing she had seen the day before. In this new version, the two of them were sitting under the tombstones and she was kissing him.
Holding her breath she turned to the next page, where she saw a new rendering of Remington's favorite view in all the world. In this version, however, they were sitting on the large stone beside the rushing stream and the valley stretched out before them. He was looking at her and pointing to the breathtaking view down below.
Laura was touched that Remington had placed her in scenes from a time when he was happy. She had placed a roadblock in this path in Malta, but somehow he knew just how to detour around it.
Hearing a knock at the door and his voice calling her name, she guiltily placed the book back on the chair, opened to the page he had left open. "Coming!" she said loudly as she walked to the door and unlocked it.
He entered the room, tossing his shaving kit on the nearest bed. Then picking up the care package from Gammy, he said, "I'll be back in a jiffy."
Laura quickly sprang into action again, swirling around the room like an Irish rain on a desperate day. She finished getting herself ready and then started throwing things into her suitcase, wondering the whole time why in the world she had brought so many clothes.
****** ****** ******
A breakfast of Gammy's gingerbread and lemon sauce in their small room was a fitting conclusion to their Irish adventure. As they placed their dishes outside their door and gathered their luggage, Remington looked at Laura and said, "Well, Miss Holt, I guess we revert to the status quo once we return to Los Angeles, eh?"
Laura didn't trust herself to speak. After all that had happened to them in the last few days, she realized that the status quo was looking less and less appealing.
Author's Note: Pierce Brosnan said in an interview that the 3rd season of "Remington Steele" was aired out of order. I would place "Steele Your Heart Away" in the second half of the season with "Have I Got a Steele for You" following not long afterwards.