Neither Laura nor Remington slept
well that night, but when they did
drop off, their dreams were filled with strange images, their
analytical minds trying to solve the case, even in unconsciousness.
Laura's dream: She's coaching a middle-weight
boxer. "I Left my
Heart in San Francisco" keeps playing on a boom box sung by someone
other than Tony Bennett, but they're not in a boxing ring at all.
She's in a tunnel, and she can hear water running. The boxer is
beating a punching bag that has Mr. Steele's face on it, but then
it's not really his face, she realizes. It's Mr. Silver's! There's
a sluice over on the right, with precious nuggets and gems-gold,
silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds-rolling through it, that turn into
multi-colored, shiny-wrapped Ghirardelli chocolates. She has boxing
gloves on, so it's hard to pick up the chocolates, let alone
impossible to unwrap them, so she just stuffs a few in her mouth
anyway. Mmmm. She is drawn down the tunnel towards the source of the
running water, but finds quarts and quarts of mineral water stacked
up. On the left, she sees a fancy mirrored elevator with a golden
eye painted on it. The mirrors part and Remington is there, and he
has boxing gloves on too. He is trying to take her clothes off as he
kisses her softly on the face. Surprisingly, he is very adept, and
in no time at all she is naked except for her gloves. How could that
happen? She tries to take his clothes off too, but her gloves stick
together as if magnetized. She can't pull them apart and she beats
on his chest. She starts to cry, and then wonders, what am I doing
"I can't get the boxing gloves
off," she murmured, half asleep now.
Boxing, boom box, choco-what a sight! Box. Sight. "Bauxite!" she
exclaimed and sat up, looking at her hands. No gloves, no chocolate
smudges on her hands.
Remington's dream: He and Laura are
playing strip poker at his
apartment, but for some reason they're referring to the game
as "strip mining." The cards are not the usual deck. They all have
the letter "E" on them, with other printing, too: Ronnie, Rusty,
Dusty, Ricky, Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Happy, Sneezy, Dopey and Jack.
This is his apartment, but it's dark and there's water running down
the walls, which now look like granite. He never took them for
granite before. A song by ABBA, "Dancing Queen," is playing in the
background. There's the fireplace, but the fireplace tools are
miner's tools: a pickaxe, a chipping hammer, a pneumatic drill. In
fact, both he and Laura are wearing miner headlamps with the lights
turned on so they can see their cards. Whenever Laura wins a hand,
she lays down a Joker with his face on it. As she laughs, his
clothes automatically appear on her, and she is layering up. He
doesn't like that because he keeps on losing, and the clothes keep
multiplying on her, when he'd rather be taking them off of her.
Finally he's down to one piece of clothing. He looks at himself and
it turns out to be a pink satin teddy. Laura shrieks with delight
and runs off yelling "Acapulco," and he starts chasing her among some
gigantic boxes, wondering, aren't we in a mine? Every once in a
while, a gold finger beckons him to run this way or that, and he
hears giggling. What are all these boxes for? Look at the height
they reach! Box. Height.
"Bauxite!" He woke up. He
threw off his sheets, patting his chest.
No teddy. He was bare.
Laura had requested a wake-up call at 6 AM. She expected to get in
an early morning run by the bay, even if it was foggy. Now she
wanted to clear her brain from last night.
Ring Ring. It could be any number
of callers: the wake-up, Mildred,
Dusty, Ricky, or him.
"Laura Holt," she sang into the phone.
A gravelly voice said roughly, "Stay
away from what isn't yours."
Her heart beating, Laura repeated,
"What isn't yours. Is mine. The
Remington had also slept fitfully. He heard the phone ring next
door. He got up and tapped lightly on the adjoining door.
"Laura? I'm up. Could we. . .uh. . .could we talk now?"
A little scared, all she wanted to
do at this moment was to be
wrapped up in his understanding arms.
She unbolted her side of the door.
They looked at each other
sheepishly, started to grin, and Laura got her wish.
As Steele held her tightly, he stroked
her back, kissed the top of
her head, and they both said, "I'm sorry," at the same time, and
"Take a chance on me, Miss Holt-again?"
While Laura went out for her run, Steele fielded a call from Dusty,
who passed along advice from Rusty to look for a certain file in the
mining office, if they could break in once they got there. She
encouraged Steele even more, by saying that since Rusty was a coal
miner's daughter, she recognized that unsafe mining practices were
being employed, and the miners were grumbling. Steele knew from his
own shadowy background that mineworkers always got shafted. But
Rusty was destined to be the downfall of Silver.
Where's Mr. Silver now? Steele speculated.
Laura came back refreshed from her invigorating run. It was as if
she had pumped out all the impurities of the last day, and was ready
to rock `n roll. Ah, yes. The Hard Rock Cafe. Bono's sunglasses.
Elvis's white suit. Fantastic!
She felt as good as new; her reserves
were full, in spite of the
ominous phone call. She discussed it with Remington over breakfast
in the hotel restaurant. This was early for him, but he was clear-
headed now, despite the strange dream.
"I had the weirdest dream last night, Laura."
"I don't want to talk about it.
Let's get going to the car rental
place. I think it's just down the street from here."
"No, I said that *I* had the weirdest dream. You too?"
She looked at him thoughtfully. "Bauxite?"
"I still don't want to talk about it."
Today was Saturday, and the fog would burn off by mid-morning.
Their rented Ford Ranger with Texas license plates-making it a Texas
Ranger-gave them a smooth ride as they drove the few hours up to
Stockton, and then into Mother Lode country. They were guessing that
no one would be working on shift today, but they had to keep a sharp
eye out. With no regular activity at the mine, they would be spotted
easily if anyone were around.
"I hope we strike it rich today," Steele spouted confidently.
"Well, sometimes we do. A gold
rush. That's the name of the game.
We shake things up and sift who comes out as the good guys and who
pans out as the bad guys. And hopefully we can prove our claim."
She continued. "We'll have to
dig deep to find an ounce of truth on
this one, a speck of evidence. And all we may uncover is fool's
gold, or . . ." Laura was in her element.
"Ore what?" Steele quipped.
Not trying to hammer away at her,
Steele was trying to iron out their
differences. His chiseled features melted into a smile. "You're a
real gem, Laura."
When they pulled off the dusty road on the outskirts of the mining
area, they decided to park the truck there and go farther on foot to
scout out the scene. There was a typical scattering of trucks and
heavy equipment for a Saturday, they supposed, but no people were in
sight. The area was fenced but the gate was open, and they were
wary. The sign said, "Silverheels Amalgamated Mines. Danger!"
The office was housed in a small building
painted a light emerald
green, and the rusty tin roof was oxidized. Remington made quick
work of the locked door, and they both went inside. Laura headed for
the file cabinets, as Steele surveyed the outside from the window.
It was even a little misty up here.
Sure enough, Dusty's message from
Rusty was confirmed, when Laura
found a file under "Nobel, Alfred," which detailed some unsafe mining
practices that were putting miners in danger, by faking equipment
costs and purchases, but adding a fortune to Silver's pockets.
"Ah, yes, Alfred Nobel invented
dynamite, but lost his younger
brother to an explosion of the stuff. Ironic."
"I don't really want to hear
anything more about irony today. You
had enough of her last night."
"Mmmm. You, um, right, Kemosabe."
She ignored his native tongue. "I've
been meaning to tell you that
my great uncle Jack did some gold mining in Alaska," Laura chatted as
she scanned more files. "He even left a placer mine to my family.
Not really worth anything anymore. It's somewhere near Auburn. And
you'll be thrilled to know he made a cameo appearance in `Treasure of
the Sierra Madre.'" She frowned at another discovery in the file.
"Is that so, Miss Holt? What's a placer mine?"
Still closed to him, she studied the
document; then she filed it
again, relocking the cabinet.
"Are you just about done there,
Laura? I think we should keep
moving. You know what they say about a rolling stone." Steele eyed
the entrance to the mine, and thought they might have a chance of
finding more than moss down below.
They put on headlamps, switched them on, and rode the cage down to a
cavern deep in the earth. Still no sign of anyone.
What they did see was the dormant
and evidently secret lair of
bauxite, the prime ore for producing aluminum, already a valuable
commodity because it could be recycled.
A revelation was coming to Laura,
based on that documentary she had
caught last night and all the other facts in the case so far. That
file back in the office, which she had skimmed briefly, also came to
"Mr. Steele," she queried,
"why would a millionaire like Mr. Silver
waste his time on a bauxite mine, when he's already making enough off-
the-ledger money on his profit-skimming?"
"I can answer that, young lady,"
said a crude voice, the same one
from this morning's call. "I've been waiting for you."
They jumped at the sound, and also
at the sight of Donald Silver's
gun boring down on them. Silver was here. What a vain man.
"Mr. Silver, don't you know that
the top bad guy should never show up
to do his own dirty work? Haven't you ever watched any James Bond
movies? It won't work now. It never does," Steele laughed, fanning
himself. He could sure use more ventilation. Just not the kind of
ventilation a gun would provide.
"Well, `Jimmy,' I'm the one holding the gun here."
"Those bullets aren't. . ."
"Silver? You want to find out?
Ho ho ho! I feel mighty confident
telling you that I will outsmart you, and Rusty too. You see all
this ore around? I sell the virgin aluminum to the United States at
an outrageous markup, and recycled aluminum to third-world countries
as virgin. I screw everyone and make a hefty profit both ways. The
winner takes it all. Hi yo!"
The scheme crystallized for Laura.
"So your plan was to corner the
world market, making aluminum as valuable as. . . as . . .silver.
What a positively negative effect!"
"I came here to destroy any evidence,
but I suppose you've already
found something in the office. So, hand it over, Chiquitita."
"Just like that, huh? You mean
the file setting up dummy
corporations to disguise your ownership of most of the bauxite mines
in the United States? You're facing your Waterloo, Mr. Silver. I'm
afraid your plan won't keep working, with Rusty Tracy in safe keeping
and able to turn evidence against you," Laura said smartly.
"That's about to change, honey,
honey. But first, I'll have to
dispose of you two."
Suddenly the men were wrestling over
the loaded weapon. Silver had a
strong hold on the gun, but Steele was finally able to knock it from
his grasp. The Donald then ran down a tunnel entrance.
Their quarry didn't stand a chance.
Laura and Steele still had their
lighted helmets, and could follow. They caught up to him as he
neared another shaft elevator. Mining tools were nearby.
Squaring off against each other with
drill rods, the two men fenced
each other, as Silver tried to head for an exit. All of a sudden, on
one of Steele's countered thrusts, Silver's hair came off.
"Toupee!" shouted Steele.
"Touché!" bowed Silver,
and he ran toward the elevator,
yelling, "You're fired!"
"No, you're fired! Cover your
eyes, Mr. Steele," said Laura as she
let loose with a blowtorch. She only singed a sliver of Silver's
hair-he didn't have many left anyway-so he was just a little worse
for wear, and not nearly as polished as he used to be. She removed
her welder's mask.
"You should have used a mule,"
Steele reiterated to the loser as he
tied his hands with wire rope.
Sirens could be heard in the distance,
and soon Silver was being
handcuffed by none other than young Det. Ricky Tracy and hauled away
by members of the San Andreas police force of two. The detective
introduced them, "This here's Officer Fernando, and Rookie Clayton
"Super trouper! And we really
couldn't have done this without both
your sisters' help, Ricky," said Laura gratefully. "Rusty is OK?"
Ricky grinned, "She sure is,
Miss Holt. Rusty won't be corroded by
this mess. And speakin' for my sisters and me, we owe you our
lives. And you will probably be helpin' the miners and, well, a
whole lot of people. You deserve a medal of honor."
Steele couldn't help but think that
this was another case for which
they would not get paid a red cent, "When all is said and done."
"Mr. Steele, sometimes I don't give a plug nickel for your darn movie
quoting!" Laura was saying as they drove back to San
Francisco. "Your brain is a sluice of trivia rattling around in
there. I'd have thought you'd have spent your misspent youth trying
to strike it rich in the bond market or something, instead of
absorbing pale, flickering images on the silver screen."
She was dredging up the past again.
He wanted to drill her for her
hard-hearted, rock-solid fastidiousness, but she was a deposit worth
taking out, and his own heart was not made of lead. If only they
could meld together-a volcanic eruption, earthquake-moving, earthy.
He stopped the truck, and slowly molded
Laura's body to his. "What do
you think? Knowing me, knowing you?" His voice had a hot metallic
ring to it. She gasped.
Talk about a rush, and not a gold
rush! She found herself speaking
with a Russian accent: "Vat do I zinc?" Her iron curtain was
eroding. "Rock me!" She sampled him back, stoking the fires. As
the earth shook for them, the earth really started to shake.
"Oh my God, it's an earthquake!
It's not my fault, is it?" The
tremors were temporary, but only for the earth.
They continued on down the road, a
little more grounded. Turning on
the radio to catch any news, they could tune in only a classical
station playing Rossini's William Tell Overture.
Laura absorbed the aftershocks of
both the earthquake, and
of . . .the earth quake. Wow. She craved more of this type of
moving experience. She cuddled close to Remington and felt something
had shifted between them, more personal than plate tectonics, but it
was just the gearshift. They still had a long, hard drive ahead of
As Laura studied this gorgeous man
with coal-black hair, and sapphire
blue angel eyes, she suddenly had tunnel vision. The smelting
process had already begun. All the elements combined to make a
golden moment. She wanted nothing more than to get to a lower level
with this man, something involving a shaft.
Back at the hotel, Steele was galvanized. "Laura, do we have to
return to LA today?" He dreaded the prospect of cutting this scene
short. "You're always in such a rush to get back to work. We have
open-ended return flights, we can call Mildred, and we can stay
longer at the hotel. We're often unpaid, but we're not penniless!
Oh, money, money, money."
"Why are you being so hard on
me?" After such a tough day, she was
prone to lying down.
"You're mine, Laura!"
"My mine? I thought I already
told you about the placer mine Jack
Holt left us."
"I didn't mean that. I meant
`you are mine,' woman! Voulez-vous?"
He lay down beside her.
Laura turned playful. "It's a
good thing I'm not a minor. And
you're not stainless, Mr. Steele."
"Blast it, Laura!"
"Oh, well, then, I claim you
too." She planted a molten kiss on his
mouth. "Remember the Hard Rock Cafe? `Love all, Serve all.'" She
was wearing a poker face, as she probed his chest.
She was hot and he wanted to put his
iron in her fire. "Love me?
Serve . . . ."
She put warm fingers over his lips
and smiled. "Help yourself. Oh!
You're. . ."
"Hard as steel, Laura. Your place or mine?"