So what’s the most natural thing to do after a visit to the morgue?
Attend an autopsy. Go to lunch!
While they’re waiting for their raw fish to … stay raw, Professor Holt is delivering her next lecture: “He still seems very upset, So let’s not say we suspect anything just yet.”
Is she referring to the dead guy?
Nope. It’s client Mike Ito.
Mr. Steele is content to watch the master at work. “Whatever you think best, Laura.”
But he doesn’t want his inexperience to throw Laura off her game: “My looking over your shoulder isn’t making you nervous, I hope.”
Nope. It seems dead bodies and dead fish make Laura peckish. “All this sushi going by makes me hungry,” she confesses.
Mr.Steele can’t agree. “Raw fish, isn’t it?”
Laura is surprised that a man of Steele’s culinary acumen hasn’t tried the Eastern delicacy.
Something tells me today won’t be the day Mr. Steele expands his horizons. “Yes, well, it all seems so desparate to me, rushing all that raw fish into my mouth when a few turns over the coals could have done us both a world of good.”
I’m inclined to agree, Mr. Steele. Anyway, speaking of dead fish …
“What the hell is this supposed to mean?” Mike
demands says woodenly, slamming casually setting a manila folder on the countertop.
“We were hoping you could tell us,” Laura challenges, perhaps hoping to jar Mr. Ito out of his apparent stupor.
Fugu is a pufferfish served as a sashimi delicacy in Japan. Its tissues contain a neurotoxin that’s 1,200 times more potent than cyanide. It has been claimed that this tetradotoxin has been used to turn people into emotionless zombies. Young Mr. Ito should stop smoking fugu in the back room, methinks.
The detectives and their client take a seat to continue their
heated lukewarm confrontation.
“I ask you to find out who killed my brother, and instead you run a check on him?”
“Just standard procedure,” Steele assures him.
Laura elaborates: “When you told us you didn’t expect a visit from your brother now, we thought someone in his company, Namu Printing, might be able to tell us why he came to the States so suddenly.”
“But according to this, there is no such company.”
Ito says “according to this,” which suggests he’s referring to the file we saw him with earlier. But he left that on the counter. So apparently he’s divining the story from the pattern on the empty tabletop in front of him.
“And he doesn’t seem to work for any other printing concern that we could find,” Steele says.
“Then where did he get the money for me to start this place? What’s going on here?” Ito
snarls in a towering rage mutters indifferently.
Laura hastens to explain, but Steele hastens hastier!
“I’m afraid the cat’s on the roof, and we can’t get her down.” Oh, Mr. Steele. That old chestnut again?
Mr. Steele’s repeated cat references are what’s known in the biz as a “running gag.” Per Wikipedia: “… a literary device that takes the form of an amusing joke or a comical reference and appears repeatedly. Running gags can begin with an instance of unintentional humor that is repeated in variations as the joke grows familiar and audiences anticipate reappearances of the gag. Running gags are found mostly in television shows. “
Mike, showing perhaps his first genuine emotion of the episode, is confused by the change of topic.
Laura can assuage him-
-unless Mr. Steele gets there first.
“You see, Mike, there were these two brothers. One of whom had a cat he loved dearly. Well, he decides to go away on holiday and he leaves the cat with his brother-“
This is not the version of “looking over your shoulder” that Laura had in mind, Mr. Steele.
Bad boy! Bad!
“What Mr. Steele is trying to say is that the driver of the car who hit Kenji was killed yesterday in a very suspicious accident,” Laura deflects. “Are you certain you’ve told us everything?”
I like the look on Mr. Steele’s face here. He seems to genuinely appreciate her professionalism.
Mr. Ito … not so much.
“Wait a minute. You’re not accusing me now?”
“Of course we aren’t!”
You’re finally learning, Mr. Steele.
“It’s just that we think whoever claimed the body and paid for the funeral must know something,” Laura says. “Now, you’re certain you never saw any of those people before who were at the funeral?”
Ito is indignant, in his passive kind of way. “I already told you that. Have I got it backwards Steele, or aren’t I paying you to come up with the answers?”
“That is the general arrangement,” Steele replies, showing remarkable restraint. (I would have told the kid to go to hell.)
Ito says that when the detectives come up with something that makes sense, he’ll listen to them. Until then, he’s got a business to run. He
stomps wanders off.
Mr. Steele, withering under this blistering attack, complains to Laura. “It hardly seems fair … you holding the reins, me taking the whip.”
Laura avoids the issue by deciding to call the office.
Steele watches her go.
What’s Steele thinking here? Perhaps he’s beginning to realize that it’s not all glory, this detective business. Sometimes you have to deal with clients who aren’t very appreciative. Sometimes you have to tell people things they don’t want to hear. Sometimes you have to deal with actors who are so lousy that it’s really hard to stay focused on the scene. Who knows?