The next scene opens on an alarming sight:
Laura, leaning over a high rise balcony. Don’t do it, Laura!
But wait! It seems Miss Holt isn’t alone. Is she engaged in a tawdry rooftop tryst? Don’t do it, Laura!
Oh. It’s just toy boy Tony! He tells Laura he’s sure Charlotte will be sorry to have missed her. By the way, what was it she wanted?
Oh, Laura’s just looking for … er … (Laura seems curiously interested in Tony the Tiger’s chest. Perhaps she’s checking her reflection in his shiny, shiny pecs.)
Hm. What was Laura looking for again? Oh, yeah: Physical ….. evidence.
Laura tears herself away from Tony’s torso to ponder: “I just find it hard to believe that a man would trip and fall over a three and a half foot wall. Ever since Mitchell Knight’s death I’ve had this feeling…”
“… that people are keeping things from you? That all is not as it appears to be, that there’s a deep dark secret somewhere? Pick a cliche, any cliché,” Tony supplies. (Why, Tony! Is that a hand in your pocket, or are you just – oh. No, it really is just his hand in his pocket. Carry on.)
Stung by his words, which so closely mirror Mr. Steele’s accusations, Laura turns to go. Tony puts a gentle, sweatband-sporting hand on her arm. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I’ve never met a female private investigator before. I was just trying to be funny. Harvard isn’t know for turning out comedians.”
Laura is interested to hear that Tony is a Harvard grad. And also that he is, in his words, “an Ivy League gigolo.”
And now for a pointless musical interlude: That 1980s classic by David Lee Roth, “Just a Gigolo.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN-4lX0QyZc
Tony reminds Laura that he’s all about “what gives the public pleasure.”
Laura reminds Tony that she’s “not the public.”
They sit, and Tony explains who he REALLY is: “I graduated with an MFA in 1977, I wrote a novel for my thesis, Lamplight. A mutual friend introduced me to Charlotte and, ah, she’s been something of a mentor. As a matter of fact, she’s persuaded Forsyth to publish Lamplight and I’ve been living here revising it for the last six months.” (Thanks for the exposition, Tony!)
Laura wants to know how Mitchell felt about his wife’s … protégé.
Tony tells Laura Mitchell was pickled most of the time. He read Lamplight, was moved by it, but … it wasn’t really his cup of tea.
“In my book, when two people meet, they talk.”
You sly dog. You know what the lady likes to hear. I suspect you will be more successful as a gigolo than a novelist.
Laura gets up abruptly and walks away; Tony follows, noting, “This thing is really getting under your skin, isn’t it?”
“I suppose I react to a mystery the same way you do to a half-written chapter.”
Tony responds that he’s been known to throw a half-written chapter out.
“Are you suggesting that I throw away my questions about Mitchell Knight’s death?”
Nope. But Tony suggests Laura is asking the wrong questions. “You’re right. Mitchell Knight didn’t fall in a drunken accident.”
“In his own mind, Mitchell Knight was a very accomplished man, except no-one knew it. Can you imagine what it must have been like, working very hard but having someone else win the plaudits?”
Yeah. I think she can.
Tony has a simple explanation for Mitchell’s death: He jumped.
I think Laura has some things to think about, don’t you?
This is an important scene, as it helps Laura put her response to this case in a new context. I think Tony – standing in for Steele here – helps her see that she has reacted so strongly to Mitchell’s death because she relates to his situation. Mitchell allowed his resentment to eat him up inside, and ultimately – perhaps – to destroy him. What lesson will Laura take from this?
This scene also provides more evidence that a liberal arts degree, even from Harvard, is really pretty useless. #beenthere