We segue from a shot of the five nekkid ladies to …
… another shot of the five nekkid ladies, this time on a screen. (Remember slides? How quaint!) We hear Mr. Steele’s voice naming the painting: “The Five Nudes of Cairo.” He knows this from his reading!
“Then you are familiar with our painting?” says the guy on the left.
“Only from my reading,” Steele answers.
“Our most important acquisition!” says guy sitting down.
Bearded guy continues our rather boring exposition: “It represents the absolute peak of Fouchard’s career, and it was painted on Egyptian ground, during the-“
“-building of the Suez Canal,” Steele finishes. He seems very engrossed in this painting of five nekkid ladies. Feeling a little … er … frustrated, Mr. Steele?
“Your reading must be quite extensive,” bearded guy says. Steele notes that the work has a colorful history.
Gray-haired guy says this is what the crooks were after; bearded guy insists they must remove it from the display.
Gray-haired guy says they can’t; exhibit is scheduled to open tomorrow, yada yada. Bearded guy is peevish! He tells Steele to tell gray-haired guy that if the painting is stolen, there will be no exhibit. He calls gray-haired guy a Philistine.
The Philistines were among the “Sea Peoples” who appeared in Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Range (circa 1175 BC). They were enemies of the Israelites. In modern parlance, a “Philistine” is a person who is said to be “ignorant, ill-behaved persons lacking in culture or artistic appreciation, and only concerned with materialistic values.” Presumably Bearded Guy is using the term in that sense to describe Gray-Haired Guy, though his bushy mane does look a little like the hat in this heiroglyph.
“Spare us your precious temper, Achmed,” says Philistine (aw, let’s just call him Phil). Phil reminds Achmed that the alarm system worked.
“Alarm system,” Achmed sneers. “Ptooey!” Hey! Are you gonna shampoo the rug, expectorating guy?
The argument seems to be pointless, since Steele informs the men that the Steele Agency can’t help them. Phil thinks it’s because of the money, but Achmed knows better:
“It’s because of the curse, isn’t it?”
Well, THAT’S ominous!
… Laura is having her own horror: dealing with insurance! Apparently she committed a moving violation, created a small dent in this guy’s car, and now has to pay for it. Is that a really, really tan Farrah Fawcett behind them?
Laura finally makes it to the office. She’s looking a little … schlumpy. Maybe it’s the polyesterish pantsuit or the schoolmarm hair.
Laura wants to know about her schedule for the week. Bernice starts to tell Laura that the museum guys are already there.
“I believe I asked about my schedule,” Laura snarks. Those aren’t polyester pants – they’re crankypants!
Bernice is … taken aback … at her boss’s attitude. She tells Miss Holt that her schedule for the week is light.
“Not good enough,” Laura says. “By punch-out time today, I want it wall-to-wall. Understand?”
So Bernice is supposed to go out and murder somebody to generate a case? Hope she gets time-and-a-half for that.
Bernice weighs her alternative employment options as Laura stalks off.
Back in Steele’s office …
… Phil can’t believe Mr. Steele is the superstitious type. Is it just me, or does Phil look like:
This guy, the alien scientist from “This Island Earth”? Or:
This guy, from the classic Star Trek episode, “The Apple”?
Maybe I watch too much cheesy TV.
Laura enters the office, and Phil introduces himself as Edward Coxworth. Just when I’d gotten used to calling him Phil!
Phil Ed introduces his colleague, the curator Achmed Kahlil. They’re disappointed that Steele feels his caseload is too great to take on their account!
Busted! Laura is surprised to hear of Mr. Steele’s reluctance. He explains.
“What with the Murphy affair and the Wolfe case …”
“As a matter of fact, something urgent just has come up,” Laura says.
She leads an uncomfortable looking Mr. Steele from the room. Given Miss Holt’s current mood, I have a feeling this isn’t going to be pretty! (not unlike her pantsuit)
I’ll leave us here on the cusp of another Holt-Steele confrontation. What is your impression of Mr. Steele’s attitude toward the painting. Does he really believe in a curse? And what’s put Laura in such a snit? The fender-bender, or is there something more? Stay tuned!