We left Professor Holt and her eager student preparing to begin Professional Detecting 101.
It seems the lessons have indeed begun. We see the limo heading down a lightly-trafficked highway.
The inside of the limo, however, seems to be somewhere other than the exterior. There are a LOT more cars around them. Anyway, Mr. Steele has his notebook at the ready, and Miss Holt is schooling him on just the facts, man.
“To begin with, one must first go over all the known facts and see if they present any troubling questions,” Laura explains.
“Right!” Mr. Steele agrees, taking it down.
Laura explains that telling him to get his notebook out was a figure of speech.
But Mr. Steele declares it an excellent suggestion! He wouldn’t want to miss anything.
Oh, I’m sure you’re not making fun of Laura, Mr. Steele. Are you?
The lesson continues.
“If Mike was Kenji’s only relative in town, and he didn’t know about the accident until today, then who claimed Kenji’s body from the authorities?”
*scribble *scribble* “Who claimed Kenji’s body.”
“And who arranged for the funeral?” Laura continues to count down the facts as Steele studiously jots them down. “And what were those other people doing there this morning?”
Wait a minute. Steele didn’t notice any other people.
Laura fills him in: “Before you came three people paid their respects and left. But I’m sure they weren’t together, and none of them seemed to know Mike at all.”
Mr. Steele is impressed.
“Remarkable! “The way you can make a routine case just- come alive with mysteries.”
Laura gives a nonchalant little toss of her head. She knows she’s remarkable.
Flattery will get you (almost) anywhere, Mr. Steele.
“Perhaps the driver of the car that hit him can tell us something.”
The limo arrives at its destination, apparently in Little Tokyo.
The Ida Market seen on the right here was started by Miyo Higashi Ida and her husband. Mrs. Ida was born on Terminal Island, an artificial island in the Port of Los Angeles that was home to many newly immigrated Japanese before WWII. The couple were sent to the Manzanar internment camps where Japanese-Americans were essentially imprisoned during the war. They started Ida Market in 1947. It is no longer open. Tokyo Kaikan was a well-known restaurant known for being the first restaurant in the United States to offer a Tempura Bar. It is also closed.
Here’s what the area looks like now-ish (Thanks, Google maps!)
Apparently there are apartments above the restaurant. Kinda … sketchy.
Mr. Steele adjusts his cuffs and asks the name of the driver. It’s Mr. Hamata.
Laura doesn’t want any funny business from Mr. Steele, like he got up to with Mike. She starts to lay down the ground rules: “For the purposes of demonstration-“
Mr. Steele is way ahead of her.
“The reins are entirely in your hands. I’ll merely stand back and observe,” he promises.
“Thank you,” says Laura, adopting a professorial pose.
Laura gives the door a few sharp raps. “Mr. Hamata! This is Miss Crenshaw from the Renfro Insurance Company!”
Clever cover, Miss Holt. Unfortunately, it’s wasted on Mr. Hamata, who doesn’t seem to be home. But lots of his neighbors are.
Laura remains intent on raising Mr. Hamata, but Mr. Steele has noticed their audience.
He offers his best “we’re completely harmless – nothing to see here” smile.
Laura finally figures out the apartment is not occupied. Fortunately, she has another idea! “No luck. Maybe we should break in and have a look around-” She starts digging in her purse for her lock pick kit.
Breaking and entering, Laura? I’m shocked!
Mr. Steele doesn’t think it’s a good idea, either.
“Speaking purely as an observer, I don’t think that would be our wisest move.”
He gives a … subtle … sign to alert her.
It seems the teacher is taught by her student!
You are wise, Little Grasshopper.
Laura tries another “professional detective-type” tactic: Talk to the neighbors.
“Excuse me, but I’m looking for Mr.-“
Hm. The neighbors aren’t very welcoming. They must get a lot of pushy door-to-door salespeople.
No wonder they cower behind closed doors.
But Laura – who was certainly a Girl Scout herself – is nothing if not persistent. “Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me. I’m looking for -“
Well. That’s discouraging. Still, everything is a learning experience, right?
“Should I be taking notes, do you think?”
Laura doesn’t think it’s necessary at this time.
But don’t count her out yet! On to Plan C:
The old pretend-to-leave, then turn back quickly trick.
But no! Like any good Girl Scout, Laura gets her foot in the door. Well played, Miss Holt.
“Excuse me, but I’m looking for Mr. Hamata and I was wondering if you could help me-”
The nice lady says … something.
Laura persists. “The man in that room down there. I need to talk him.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Steele doesn’t seem to be paying close attention to his teacher. Careful, Mr. S – there’s going to be a quiz later!
Oh. One of the other neighbors has caught Mr. Steele’s eye.
Mr. Steele tries to alert Miss Holt.
She tries to cross the language barrier with a little mime: “Screeeeech! Pow!”
Mr. Steele persists. Miss Holt is irked.
She’s making progress here! Watch and learn, Mr. Steele. Watch and learn.
Well, Mr. Steele will just stroll over here a minute. He can still observe Laura while he’s getting to know the other neighbors.
The elderly neighbor has top-secret information.
It appears Mr. Steele has found a use for his notebook after all.
Mr. Steele seems pleased by the transaction. And he’s made a new friend!
It seems Laura hasn’t had quick such a jolly time. Speaking of jolly, she has a hot lead: “I got something about a big man with white hair …”
Eureka! The killer is unmasked!
Mr. Hamata, on the other hand, seems to be a dead end.
“Very much so, I’m afraid,” says Steele, pulling out his trusty notebook.
This is an amusing scene, as Laura takes her job of teaching Steele the tricks of the trade very seriously, oblivious to the fact that in the working-with-people department, Mr. Steele might have a sliiiiight edge. Mr. Steele is enjoying the time spent with Laura. I think he’s affectionately amused, rather than scornful, of her didactic attitude. He knows his own strengths, but if it pleases Laura to believe she’s honing his skills, it’s all good with him!