Simon & Simon (1981–1989): Season 2, Episode 11 - Murder Between the Lines - full transcript

A pulp fiction writer pays Rick and A.J. a handsome fee to find a crazed killer who uses the author's latest novel as a blueprint for murder.

One of the victims in Death Boat

is a young private detective?

You mean you took the case

and you haven't read the book?

I was getting around to it.

[Announcer] Tonight
on Simon and Simon...

Two of the murders
have actually happened.

Exactly as you wrote them?

Want to know how it happened?

We have a homicidal
maniac running

amok in this town.

How many will
there be for dinner?


You are dead.


♪♪ [theme]

Who was that?

You didn't recognize him?

- No.
- Rockwell Stark.

- Ah.
- Just wrote the hottest
bestseller of the year.

Death Boat.

Right. So what does
he want us to do?

He's having a family reunion.

Wants us to find
a long-lost cousin.

How long? How lost?

Uh, let's see.

Well, last seen Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, 1953.

Postcard from
Abilene, Kansas, 1956.

After that, nothing.

Great, just my kind of case.

Look, I got tickets to
tonight's basketball game.

I got Charlie's
tickets, the best ones.

What do you mean, no?

I can scalp these
things for 50 bucks each.

I promised Stark we'd find his
cousin for him within 24 hours.

- He didn't believe me.
- Neither do I.

That's why he's
giving us a nice bonus.

Do you know what that
means? That means 24 hours

of looking through old
newspaper clippings,

old telephone books, calling
and hoping... No, I pass.

What do you mean, you pass?

- This is a partnership.
- Oh, really?

Did you consult with your
partner before you took the case?

Well, no, but, I mean, if I...

Fine. Then I'll take
Jenny to the ballgame.

Well... Hey, come on, she
doesn't even like ballgames.

Yeah, I know, but the tall guys
turn her on, so you have a nice one.

Hey, Rick!



I'm next.

I know it. There's
no doubt in my mind.

I'm marked as the next victim,
and you've got to protect me.

You have no idea what
I'm talking about, do you?

Well, you obviously
haven't read my book.

Well, you're among the
very few who haven't.

It's practically a bestseller.

Death Boat.

Rockwell Stark.

The story takes place
aboard a luxury cruise ship.

Four celebrities are murdered
by a homicidal maniac.

Now, so far, two of the murders
have actually happened in real life.

Exactly as you wrote them?

Close enough. The first
victim in my novel is a politician.

Now, three days ago,
Senator Joseph Palumbo

was kicked to death by a horse.

Kicked to death by a horse.

And you had that happen to
a character on a cruise ship.

- It was a racehorse.
- Ah.

In the hold of the ship.

And it was completely credible.

Now, victim number
2 in the novel

is a fashion designer.

Yesterday, Marie Delman
was drowned in her pool

almost exactly as I had written.

All right, well, so far
we've got two people

who've died just like two
characters in your book.

Ah. But victim
number 3 in Death Boat

is a well-known
popular novelist. Me.

Now, I'm willing to put my
money where my life is...

On the line.

Now, this should
retain your services

for a reasonable length of time.

$10,000. Well,
that, yeah, ought to...

Uh, yeah.

Well, looks like you've got
us for the next 28.57 days.

Um, Mr. Stark, do you mind

if I ask you a pointed question?

Of course not.

Why aren't the
cops protecting you?

The police think the deaths have
absolutely nothing to do with my novel.

They say it's just a coincidence

and that I'm after publicity.


Two people
murdered and I'm next,

and I want publicity?

Yeah, I understand.

Uh, just out of curiosity,

how does the third victim die?

It was by electrocution.


Mr. Simon, are you really
certain that's necessary?

Just want to make sure that
the juice coming into the house

is no higher than normal.

Looks okay.

I still wouldn't watch TV
in the bathtub, though.

You live here alone?

No no no, with
only a housekeeper.


Wanda's been with
me over 12 years,

and I trust her with my life.

You keep a dog on the place?

No, no no no. Wanda
doesn't like dogs.

Well, I think it might be a good
idea, you know, just temporarily.

At least till the
killer's nailed.

- I'll arrange for it,
no extra charge.
- Thank you.

Where's your brother? I
thought I'd hired two bodyguards.

You hired two investigators.

A.J., there hasn't
been two murders,

there has only been one
murder, Marie Delman's.

Senator Palumbo's death
is still being ruled accidental.

Okay, now wait a second.
Palumbo was an expert horseman.

He rode in the Olympics.

Now, there's no
way a guy like that

is going to accidentally get
stomped to death by his own horse.

Well, that's what
the police say.

That's just because they
haven't finished the autopsy.

- On Palumbo?
- No, on the horse.

Oh, wait a minute. They are
doing an autopsy on the horse?

Yes. If the horse was drugged,
it means Palumbo was murdered.

A.J., did it ever occur to you

that maybe Mr. Stark
hired you and Rick

as a publicity stunt
to promote his book?

Sure, that occurred to us.

It also occurred to us
that he's scared to death.

Have you read this thing?

That? No, certainly not,
the reviews were dreadful.

Everybody says it's trash, just
like everything else he's ever written.

Right, nobody likes his stuff.

Well, except the public.

All right, you know the
novelist that he thinks is himself?

Listen to this description.

Uh, he's described as

"A highly skilled writer who has
elevated the simple mystery story

to the heights of
classic literature."

Now, that description
might fit Raymond Chandler,

but not Rockwell Stark.

I mean, talk about
wishful thinking.

Thank you.

Wait a minute, leave that here.

I haven't finished it yet.


- Yes?
- Hi, I'm A.J. Simon.

How do I know that?

Well, I just told you I was.

Uh, it's okay, Wanda. It's
the other half of the team.

Say hi to my brother.

Mr. Stark is due
at a TV interview

in precisely 38 minutes.

Yeah, I know, darling,
we're on the case.

I'll tell the master
you're here.

Very good.


It's hard to find good
help like this these days.


No, no, no, no, no.

There are many ways
to electrocute a man.

Good thinking.

- Up or down.
- Up.

- Which floor?
- 3.



[Rick sighs]

Oh, boy. Looks like
we're stuck between floors.

Well now, look here,
I'm due in Studio C in...

Just relax, we're
going to get you there.

It's dead.

You... You don't suppose that...

No, I don't suppose anything.
I think it's just an accident.

Yeah, these things
happen all the time.

Maybe one of us could crawl
out through the top of the car.

There's usually a
removable panel.

No, no, no, no, no.
Try closer to the center.

That's it, that's it,
I think you got it.

- Yo!
- What was that?

Oh, my God.

Uh, well, I'm...
Well, I'm sure there's

some perfectly logical
explanation for this.

No, no, no, I'm going to die.

Just calm down now. We're not
going to let anything happen to you.

Probably what happened
was a workman left it on...

Everybody's reading
it now, you know.

Yeah, everybody.

Just calm down. We're
going to get you out of here.

Here. Hold that.

Give me a boost up, okay?

I'm going to go get some help.

Watch it, watch it.

Stay back.

[Man] You are dead, Mr. Stark.

There's someone up there.



Stay back. Stay in the corner.

Watch it.



- Give me your coat.
- What?

- Give me your coat.
- Why?

Mine's not heavy enough.

All right, I got
you. I'll do it.


He okay?

You all right, Mr. Stark?

You think he's still up there?

I think one of us
better go check.

I'll cover you.

Okay. Let's be fair.

Call it.


Oh, whoopee.

All right, ready?


One, two... Two and a half.


There's no one here.

Do you see anything?


- [grunts]
- Yes, I sure as hell do.


What the... There
you go. You all right?


Here. Give me a hand.

- Can you get it?
- Yep.

All right.

What the... Look at that.

- Heh, heh.
- Electronic.

You are dead, Mr. Stark.

Killer could have been anywhere.

He heard us get into the
elevator with this thing,

the stalling of the elevator,
the cable coming down,

the whole caper could have been
triggered from half a mile away.

Gentlemen, I salute you.

You performed magnificently.

I owe you both my life.

Well, we'll get
you to the hospital.

What are you doing?

I'm scheduled
for a TV interview,

and I plan to keep
that appointment.

Three, two, one.

You're on the air. Go.

Good afternoon, and
welcome to Words with Writers.

I'm Keith Berwick, and our
special guest this afternoon

is Rockwell Stark, whose
latest novel, Death Boat,

is rapidly climbing
the bestseller charts,

despite a severe
lambasting by the critics.

Mr. Stark, welcome to the show.

Thank you.

Mr. Stark, it's come
to our attention

that Death Boat is apparently
inciting some individual to commit

- certain acts of violence.
- Yes, well, now,

I would prefer not
to talk about that.

But so far, there
have been two deaths

that bear a striking
resemblance to cer...

Uh, please.
Please. I must insist.

[stammering] I don't
want to be accused

of exploiting these
terrible crimes.

I see.

Mr. Stark, what do you consider

an author's responsibility
to his readers?

To give them their
money's worth.

The people that are incited to
violence by a work of fiction...

- Hi.
- Hi, sweetie. How you doin'?

- Okay? Are you sure?
- Oh, yeah. We're fine.

- Yep.
- We're fine. Thank you for coming.

Well, you're welcome.

- He seems fine.
- He is.

He's refusing to
talk about the killings.

Oh, good for him.

Oh, A.J., you were right
about Palumbo's death.

- It is starting to
look like a murder.
- Aha!

The medical examiner found traces
of amphetamines in the horse's blood.

Now were you able to
find a connection between

Palumbo and that
woman who drowned...

Uh, what's her name...

- Marie Delman.
- That's her.

No. Well, only a rumor.

About four years ago,
there was some talk

of her having an
affair with Palumbo...

Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Rick, he was
married at the time.

Anyway, I haven't
been able to verify it.

It's the sort of thing
they say about politicians

with half of the
starlets in Hollywood.

Thank you.

I will return them to you
as quickly as possible.

And if you get caught with them,

you will say you
stole them, right?

- Say Rick stole them.
- Right.

Okay. Oh, by the way...

Now that the police
believe Stark's story,

they've assigned a couple of
plainclothesmen to guard him.

[police radio]

I want to tell you again
how much I appreciate...

Oh, no, no, no.

We were just doing
what you hired us to do.

Well, these days, that
almost seems a lost art.

Look, Mr. Stark. Uh...

Now that the police
are on the case,

- maybe you'd like us...
- I'd still like you

and your brother
to stay on the job.

If it's all right with you.

That's what we do.

[dog whimpering]

[whimpering] [grunting]

- Hey.
- [barking]

Let loose of my dog, woman.

If this scrofulous
creature belongs to you...

He was on duty.
You leave him alone.

The master is not kindly
disposed toward canines.

Well, this particular canine

is a highly-skilled,
attack-trained animal,

and he happens to
be part of the team.

If I see that mongrel
in the kitchen

or the pantry,

our anywhere near
my living quarters...

And where were
you this afternoon?

- I beg your pardon...
- Just where the hell were you

when your boss
was being attacked?

You have the affrontery
to interrogate me...

You bet I do, lady.
Now where were you?

Not that it's any
of your business,

but I was at my
parole officer's.

Oh, did anybody see
ya? Can you prove that...

[stammering] What... where?

I'm certain you
heard me, Mr. Simon.

I speak very distinctly.

You mean to tell
me you're on parole?

It's a matter of public record.

What did you do?


Multiple murder,
as a matter of fact.

I poisoned a family of eight.

I assume you'll be
taking your meals out?

Hold it.

You're puttin' me
on, right, darlin'?

How many will
there be for dinner?

Um... none.

Tonight. We're, uh...

Uh, we're taking
the master to dine

with his number 1 fan. [laughs]

Wanda certainly does have

a rather bizarre sense of humor.


The housekeeper who
poisoned the family.

Wasn't that a character
in your first book?

- Mm! Murder a la Carte!
- Mm-hm.

I didn't think anybody
besides myself had read it.

No, Mom's read all your books.

- Have you, now?
- All nine of them.

Well, now I'm flattered
beyond measure.

And I like each one
better than the last.

I can actually see
the growth in your art.

Art? Well now, that's a term

that I've never heard
applied to my work.

Well, I don't care
what the critics say.

It's a real art to be able to
hold someone's attention,

glued to the page,
in book after book.

- Well...
- I just finished Death Boat.

And, oh, I'm sorry

the young private
detective had to die.

He was my favorite character.

The, uh...

One of the victims
in Death Boat is

a young private detective?

Why, yes. Victim number 4.

How come you never
mentioned this little tidbit before?

Well, I, um...

I didn't think it was important.

You didn't think
it was important?

You mean you took the case,

and you haven't read the book?

I was getting around to it.

Well, if some maniac
is going around

killing people
according to the story,

I would think the book
would be filled with clues...

Mom. If you wouldn't mind.


Just trying to be helpful.

This, uh, uh...

Young private detective.
Victim number 4. Um...

How young is he?

[police radio]

[door opens]

Didn't mean to scare ya.

[long sigh]

Stark asleep?

Yeah. He's asleep.

House is all buttoned
down. Cops are outside.

- You check the alarm?
- Yeah.

Nobody's gonna get into here

without waking up
everybody for miles.

Hmm. Good.

Did you get to that
part yet, where the...

Young private
detective gets killed?

- Not yet.
- Wanna know how it happens?

- No, I prefer to find out...
- He gets burned to death.

Burned to death?


- Thanks.
- Any time.


Ha. And to the North
American Book Award,

two years in a row.

- Many more to come.
- Thanks.


Now since our friend
has won the award,

- maybe that Universal deal...
- Hold it, Derek.

I know what you're gonna say.

You write the
books. I'll sell them.

Fair enough.

Telephone, Mr. Thorne.

- Long distance.
- I'll take it here.

The called said
you'd want privacy.

And suggested that
you take it in my office.

I asked his name,
but he wouldn't give it.

All right.

- Be right back.
- This way, please.

Will you be staying
much longer, Mr. Thorne?

Oh, Lord. It's almost
2 in the morning.

I'm sorry, Andre. I
lost all track of time.

Soon as I finish the call,
I'll get right out of your hair.

Thank you very
much, sir. Thank you.


[Man] Mr. Derek Thorne?

- Yes?
- This is Geneva,

Long distance operator 17.

Please stand by for a
person-to-person call.

- [clicking]
- [electronic hum]

- [beeping]
- [footsteps]

[door opens]

Hey, Woody!


Well, we can handle it now.

See you later.

- Good mornin'.
- Good morning.

Derek Thorne.

I still can't believe it.

Did you know him, Mr. Stark?

Hm? No, no, no,
no. Not personally.

Uh, just by reputation.


He was a very successful
writer, wasn't he?


On the strength of two highly

- overrated novels.
- Now...

We just got rid of
Serpico and Dick Tracy.

Well, I don't think we'll
be needing them anymore.

As I matter of fact, I, uh...

I feel secure enough
to let both of you go.

But it's only been four days.

And you did hire us for 28 plus.

Well... Take the
rest of the time off,

as a bonus for a job well done.

And you're sure that's
what you want to do.


Whoever that maniac is...

He's found his third victim.

- Mr. Stark.
- Yes?

About the fourth victim...

- Oh, come on, A.J...
- The young private

Uh, did you have anyone in mind

when you wrote him in?

A.J... No, Mr. Simon. I didn't.

The fourth victim in Death Boat

was strictly a figment
of my imagination.


A.J., there gotta
be at least 200

licensed private
detectives in a 10-mile...

- Young ones.
- I don't believe this.


I'm sorry to be a source of
concern for you, Mr. Simon.

But I'm sure that
you're not going to be

in any kind of
jeopardy whatsoever.


- [distant dog barking]
- [distant yelling]

Where's Marlowe?

Oh. I saw Wanda dragging
him off to the house.

- [silverware clatters]
- Wanda...



[dog whimpering]

[whimpering continues]

Are you crazy?

How dare you come
barging in there like that?

Well, what do you
think you're doing,

trying to drown my dog?

Drown your dog!

I was bathing him.

- [water splashing]
- You're giving him a bath.

- That's right.
- I don't believe you.

Have you smelled him lately?

[dog whimpers]


Smells fine.

Now he does.

Borrow your fishin' rod?

Where do you think you're going?

Well, since Stark's
out of danger,

I figured I'd take Jenny
Sue up to Mammoth

for a weekend R & R, you know?

We have a homicidal maniac
running amok in this town,

and you're gonna
go off and play?

Hey, hey, hey. Come
on. We're off of the case.

Now we've got a perfectly
competent police force,

which takes care
of things like this.

A perfectly comp...
a lot of good

that perfectly competent
police force did for

- Derek Thorne. Oh, wow.

Now, Rick!

One of us is victim number 4.

Maybe both of us.

According to the
book, he's, uh... Young.

I can't believe
you seriously think

you're in any kind of danger.

- Believe it.
- Why?

- Instinct.
- Bull.

- [deep sigh]
- Look, Rick.

That maniac tried to kill us in the
elevator. Doesn't that make you mad?

It was Stark he was after, not
us. We happened to be in the way.

Which is what we get
paid to do! Be in the way!

You gonna help me nail
this looney tune or what?

You really think somebody
is trying to kill you.


Maybe both of us.

Well, I'll tell you what.

I'm gonna start, right
now, living my life

like every day was my last.

Which means I'm gonna
take Laura and Jenny Sue

up to Mammoth for
a weekend of R...

Come on, A.J.
I'm only kid... hey!


You're being totally
paranoid about this.

You know that?

Nobody's gonna incinerate you.

You don't have one
single shred of evidence

that you're gonna
be the fourth victim.

As a matter of fact,
you don't even know

if there's gonna be a...

[horn honks]


[distant door closes]


[door opens, closes]

[starts engine]

[clears throat]

Now, would you
call that nervous?

- Yeah, I'd call that nervous.
- Yep, yep, yep.

- [laughing]
- [door closes]

Very funny. Where
the hell have you been?

Hey! I told you I'd get
here when it was dark.

It was dark?

It's 7:30, Rick. It got
dark two hours ago.

- Oh, God.
- What are you doin' there?

Oh, I'm trying to see
if there's a connection

between the first three victims.

Might give us an arrow
to who the killer is.

So you can get him,
before he gets you.

- You got it.
- Come on, A.J.

Take a break, and
go to dinner with us.

I'm not hungry. Thank you.

I promise, we won't sit
near any open... flames.

- [laughing]
- All right, listen, A.J.

We're gonna go out

and get a nice, rich
slab of rare roast beef,

and then we're gonna
go to the trotters.

You ever been to
night harness racing?

No. Thanks just the
same. Some other time.

Your loss.

Hey, uh, Rick.


I need some help on this one.

Can we get you something?

Um... a doggie bag.

Oh, Myron. Fifth horse.
Second race. 10 bucks.

- What can I do?
- [door closes]

Take a look at Thorne's file.

See if there's anything
there that might be a link

between Delman and Palumbo.


- [footsteps]
- [liquid sloshing]

[footsteps, sloshing continue]

[hissing gas]


- Stuffy in here.
- Yeah, it is.

- Get some air.
- Good idea.


Hey... [groans]

[blowing at flame]

I hate to tell you
I told you so...

Just shut up, A.J.

I'm not even
supposed to be here.

Victim number 4 is a
young private detective.

He left a copy of Death
Boat on your desk, you know.


Just save your breath for
the candle, one more time.

On 3.




[blowing at flame]

[blowing again]

Well, that did a lot of good.

You realize how
embarrassing this is.

- Two grown men,
tied up like...
- Just cool it, A.J.

We got about a minute to figure
this thing out, or we're gonna die.

All right. Let's start
rocking back and forth...

Hold it. Hold it.
Don't you... no.

Don't move. You
start doing that,

you're just gonna set
it off that much faster.

It'll work.

Your right.

My left. On 3.

[deep sigh]


[both] 2.

- 3! Banzai!
- Yagh!


It worked! Huh?

What did I tell ya? Didn't
I tell ya it would work?

- Well, it worked.
- A.J., we've been had.

What do you mean, we've been
had? What are you talking about?

That's not kerosene. What do you
want to bet that stuff won't even burn?

- It smells like...
- I know it smells
like kerosene.

But it can't be kerosene.

Kerosene hits
the flame, it burns.

That's what it's
designed to do, right?

Where's a match?

Rick, I wouldn't do that.

Rick, I wouldn't
do that. Rick? No!

I got it. I got it.

[flame throwers spraying]

Well, now what the
hell do we do about this?


I tell you what.

Let's go someplace
where nobody can

sneak up on us
with a flame thrower.

[Rick] You have any idea
how totally degrading that was,

being trussed up like a couple of
chickens, waiting to be barbequed?


I mean, the contempt of it!

Treating us
like... like... like...

- Chickens?
- Dirt!

[Rick] You know what
burns me about this?

Seems so showy about it.

That was like he was a...

- performer, or a...
- Writer?


Remember Stark told us
he'd never met Thorne?


Says right there that
Thorne took a writing course

from him four years
ago, at City College.

Wow! Well, maybe Stark forgot.


Maybe he just
hated a lot of people.

I mean...

Hated them enough
to want them dead.

So he writes a book
about people who roughly

fit their descriptions
are all getting killed...

- Uh-huh.
- Waits till the book
gets published.

And starts killing 'em off.

Makes it look like
the work of a maniac.

Which would make
Stark the maniac.


- I don't believe it.
- What?

He is making fools out of us.

You remember the hot
wire in the elevator bit?

Looked like it
almost killed Stark?

Well, according to this, there wasn't
enough juice in that wire to kill anybody.

Just enough make it look
scary, and throw a lot of sparks.

He could have triggered the
remote control device himself.

Easily. One hand in his pocket.

Think we'd better go
have a talk with Mr. Stark.

And it's taken six months,

and every ounce of
political clout I could muster,

to get myself invited
to an actual autopsy.

As you can imagine,

the medical examiner's
office is extremely reluctant

to allow unauthorized
observers, uh...

Uh, Mr. Simon.

Your mind seems elsewhere.

Am I boring you?

No no. No. No. Not at all.

It's, um... it's fascinating.

Uh, somehow, I feel

this is not a social call.

You're right. It's not.

My brother and I were putting
things together this morning,

and we came to the conclusion

that it was you who
murdered Senator Palumbo,

Marie Delman, Derek Thorne...

And then tried to kill us.




- You are good.
- Well...

What a master stroke.

Naturally, if I were
a homicidal maniac,

that accusation would have
shattered my composure.

I must use that ploy
in my very next novel.

Brilliant! Just brilliant.

Why, thank you.

Now, which of you
has the revolver

pointed at me under the table?


Both of you! Well, well, well!

Now I am flattered.

But not really dangerous.

Uh... Uh, would you, um...

Would you care to search me?

Well, now that you mention it...

Well, now, whatever
made you suspect me?

You said you had
never met Thorne.

Oh, my. Did I really say that?

Well, he was my student
at City College, of course.

And I killed him because...

His books get better
reviews than mine.

[laughing] Well, now tell me.

Why did I kill Senator
Palumbo and, uh...

That Delman woman?

Undoubtedly, because
you hated them.

Would you like some more coffee?

No, no, no. No, thank you.

You know something?

This is really absurd.

Yeah. We know.

'Course, we'd still like
to take a look around.

- If you don't mind.
- Oh, I don't mind at all.

But what is that
you hope to find?

Oh... Possibly some
electronic gear?

Something that
might be used to...

Stall an elevator, say?

My house... is your house.

[cocks gun]

After you.

Uh... [chuckling]

Follow me, gentlemen.

My workshop. Help yourselves.

[rattling door]

A.J., give me a hand with this.

Holy... hey!

Stay exactly where
you are! Both of ya!

Place your weapons on the
floor, and kick them over to me!

- Hey, oh!
- Okay. Okay. Okay.

[weapons hit floor]

Hey, hey, hey, hey!

Get your jacket
off! Let's rush him!

- Rick! Help me!
- A.J.!

- Help me put it out!
- Get back!

- Rick!
- A.J.!

Help me! Help me!

[echoing] Help me! Help me!



Excellent, Mr. Simon.

Just outstanding.

Now here's your check.

And the bonus is included.

Well, thank you
very much indeed.

I'm glad that we... that I was
able to find your cousin so easily.

Well, this is wonderful. I've
wanted to see him again for years!

Just, just wonderful.


You didn't tell me how much
the bonus was gonna be.

You didn't ask me how much
the bonus was going to be.

Yeah, well, it's okay, 'cause I
gotta go to the bank, anyway.

I could just
deposit that for you.

Why don't you take a look,
see who it's made out to?

Hey, wait a minute. The name of
this company is Simon & Simon!

That's right, partner.

So you get to watch the
office for the next two days,

while this check and
I go to San Francisco.

- A.J... A.J.!
- Bye-bye!

Closed-Captioned By J.R.
Media Services, Inc. Burbank, CA