Columbo (1971) s07e01 Episode Script

Try and Catch Me

Do you really think I didn't know? Three, two, one, bingo! This is Peter Falk.
Here are some scenes from the next episode of Columbo.
Did he leave a note? No, ma'am.
Nothing to write with.
But he took off his belt.
I'm Lieutenant Columbo and I'm looking for a Miss Veronica Bryce.
Me! Do you think Veronica did it, Lieutenant? But she could've got an idea who did kill him.
All right, Veronica, this one's for the Ladies' Club.
Just a rough copy to play with.
I come before you as the author of 32 books on the same subject.
In other words, I have one of the most limited minds in the world.
That's bad enough, but to limit myself to writing about murder seems to Veronica dear, you still here? Just winding up.
I'll be right in.
Oh.
Galleys ready, Abigail? This much, anyway.
Good.
I should have sent you home hours ago.
Oh! Something wrong? Don't you hear it? No.
I think it's a nightingale.
We haven't had any for years.
I don't hear anything.
I'll be sure these get off in the morning.
Just one small thing.
Would you call Edmund for me? Ask him to stop by tomorrow.
Phone your nephew.
Well, he's not my nephew.
He was merely married to my niece.
That's an entirely different thing, my dear.
Perhaps he would like to take me for a walk on the beach.
Okay.
Wait a minute.
I do hear something.
What? A nightingale.
What a clever girl you are.
Good night, Abby.
manage an escape from my own particular pathology.
I have, heaven help me, made attempts at humor, romance, a children's novel, and one perfectly detestable essay on the deterioration of the British royal family since the American Revolution.
As for the broad Pacific, I find that rather an effeminate body of water.
Nobody but you could put down a whole ocean.
Oh.
Down on the Cape, when I was a girl, I watched the Atlantic day and night.
How it churned and boiled and roared.
Did it roar the night Phyllis was drowned? Abby, please don't.
I loved my niece.
With all my heart.
With all the love that I could ever give anyone.
You loved her, too, didn't you, Edmund? She was my wife.
And you loved her? Yes, I loved her.
It must've been terrible for you.
Alone in a sailboat, coming up from the cabin and Phyllis gone.
Disappeared in the darkness and we never had even the comfort of finding the body, of knowing she was safely buried.
The Coast Guard tried.
And you tried.
I know what you did.
Everything you did.
She was only five years old when I gave her the rights to the play Birthday Present.
I would have left her everything.
Now, there's no one but you.
We're all that's left of her.
So, when I die, I intend to make you my principal heir.
Abby, I can't.
Don't comment.
I detest being edited.
I'm not gonna stand here and discuss your death.
Just accept the fact you'll inherit a great deal of money.
Don't pretend that doesn't please you.
There.
Life is short, life is fleeting.
I'm glad you're not going to protest because, you see, Edmund, I really have made up my mind about you and about me.
Annie, my bags are ready.
Anything in this document to the contrary notwithstanding, being of sound mind Oh, Miss Mitchell, your nephew finished with his dinner.
Edmund? Did he eat well? Oh, very well, ma'am.
Isn't that nice? I always like to hear a young man has a good appetite.
Edmund, how nice you look.
Oh.
Dressed for the occasion.
I didn't realize there was an occasion.
I want to sign my new will in your presence.
Give you a lovely sense of security.
Abby, I want you to understand.
I hope you live forever.
I don't want anything from you.
It's not a question of what you want.
It's what I want.
And I do not intend to live forever.
If I did, I wouldn't go flying around in airplanes.
I wouldn't sleep a wink if I don't settle all this business before we take off.
Murder of the Year closes, you know, tomorrow night.
I wanna be there for the last performance.
After 19 years, you've had a pretty good run.
Well, the rights belonged to Phyllis, you know.
And to you now, since the accident.
I understand they'll be doing it in Warsaw.
Oh, Edmund, would you bring me my jewel case.
It's in the safe.
Certainly.
Large leather box, rather flossy-looking.
You'll find it.
Martin is coming with me.
He speaks very sternly to my publishers.
Abby, the light doesn't work.
Oh.
It hasn't worked for months.
I'll have to speak to Veronica about it.
Now, this comes Well, that goes with me.
Oh, I'll need some cash.
Those metal boxes, third one from the top.
There you are.
My God, Abby.
Somebody's God, I suppose.
Back it goes.
Respectfully.
All right, Abby.
Edmund.
Nice to see you again, sir.
Thank you.
Could we gather here, please? Abby, this is your new will.
Your signature is here.
Edmund, this is your will.
Mine? I took the liberty of asking Martin to draw up your will, too.
You're my heir, I'll be your heir.
If you should predecease me, a most unlikely event, then the rights to Murder of the Year would come back to where they started.
Is that all right? I should have thought of that myself.
As you said, Abby, we have nobody but each other now.
May I have a pen, please? Aren't you going to read it? Why? Don't you think I trust her? Now, Martin, would you ask Veronica to witness these? Abby, that plane is not going to wait for us.
They might if I ask them.
It might at that.
There.
The deed is done.
Edmund, there's just one more thing.
Only three people know the combination.
My attorney, Veronica and myself.
Now I want you to have it, too.
Abby, I'd rather I didn't.
Well, Martin would also rather you didn't.
But this is my safe.
We'll sneak around Martin and do as I wish.
I want you to drive away, then come back the service road.
Wait for me by the side door and I'll see Martin doesn't disturb us for a few minutes.
Whatever you say, Abby.
Have a fine trip, Abby.
Mr.
Hammond.
We will, dear.
Abby, we're cutting it awfully close.
I'll just get my coat.
Martin, I have to show you something.
Not now, Abby.
Now! I'll say goodbye, now, ma'am.
Goodbye, Annie.
Abigail, you are the most exasperating woman I have ever met.
I accept all superlatives.
It's this switch.
It hisses.
And the lamps don't go on.
There could be a fire.
For Pete's sake, Abby.
Well, you're so clever with these things.
I won't sleep a wink if you don't fix it.
With what? This.
Anything, Abby, anything to get us out of here.
Oh, I love you.
This is the alarm.
It has to be off, as it is now.
Okay.
Now, the combination.
Write it down, dear.
You have to turn it to the right three times, then start it in this position, on the 12.
Right.
No trick at all.
Now you must memorize it.
We've forgotten the wills.
These have to go in the safe.
Where do they go? Those metal boxes on the top.
Okay.
Edmund, you murdered my Phyllis.
Do you really think I didn't know? Madam, your switch is fixed.
Of course, it is.
Thank you, Martin.
Don't dawdle, Martin.
Remember, we do have a plane to catch.
The next time, Abby, let's take the day flight.
Days are for work.
Nights are for play.
Stewardess, may I have another Scotch? I still can't believe it, Abby.
I opened the safe this morning and he was there.
Edmund's body.
You have to come back right away, please, Abby.
Stewardess, may I have another Scotch, please? Abby, are you all right? Yes, absolutely.
I'm so sorry I had to call you like this, but I'm Abigail Mitchell.
I heard nothing at all strange that night.
And I'm a very light sleeper.
Miss Mitchell? I'm Sergeant Burke.
You know about the body in there, ma'am? Yes.
We'll have the safe right open.
Six, five, four, three, two, one, bingo! Did you hear anything? Nothing.
Soundproof.
Excuse me, ma'am.
You're Abigail Mitchell, "the best in murder.
" I just want to say, ma'am, that it's a very great honor to meet a famous author.
I just wish we were meeting under happier circumstances.
Thank you, young man.
You're very kind.
My name is Lieutenant Columbo, ma'am.
Homicide.
Mr.
Galvin, the deceased, I understand he was your nephew.
No blood relation.
He was married to my niece.
Yes, your secretary told us how your niece died in a boating accident four months ago.
They loved each other so.
It's inconceivable that another accident could take Edmund's life.
Excuse me, ma'am.
What accident was that? My safe, his death.
Oh, I doubt that was an accident, ma'am.
I doubt that very much.
Now, he did have the combination to your safe.
I gave it to him last night.
And we found it in his pocket.
But could you just take a look over here, ma'am? All done, Lieutenant.
Anything else? Out back, Sergeant.
You know what we're looking for.
Yes, sir.
This is your burglar alarm, ma'am.
When your secretary came in this morning to open the safe, she found the alarm switch on, like this.
Now, the question is, how did your nephew get into the safe all by himself when the alarm was on the whole time? I can't imagine.
I I'm so confused.
Oh, I can't really imagine you confused, Miss Mitchell.
Not someone who can plan a murder like you.
I mean all your mysteries, ma'am.
But me, I don't mind admitting that I'm confused and I am because we didn't just find your nephew's body in the safe.
Now, all this was spread out on the floor of the safe just the way you see it.
That's one of my manuscripts.
The Night I Was Murdered.
Well, it was pulled apart, ma'am.
Nothing missing.
All the pages are there.
But pulled apart.
You don't suppose Edmund was reading it to pass the time? Surely he must have expected to be rescued.
Well, the light in the safe doesn't work, ma'am.
And he only had six matches, which he used up.
Poor soul.
Burning up his oxygen.
Did he leave a note? No, ma'am.
Nothing to write with.
But he took off his belt.
His belt? His belt, ma'am.
It has little flecks of black something, like paint, on the buckle.
The medical examiner says the same black stuff is under your nephew's fingernails.
Scratching at the door of his death trap.
Oh, hideous.
Well, the thing is, ma'am, the only black paint around the door is on the outside.
And then, Miss Mitchell, there are these.
Two pieces of paper with torn edges.
Nothing on them.
Oh, dear.
I'm afraid I can't absorb it all.
Baffling, isn't it? I was hoping you might be able to explain.
Do you mind if we leave this room? The whole thing is so oppressive.
Certainly, ma'am.
I understand.
Oh, Abby, I put a tea tray in the living room.
After that, you really should get some rest.
I couldn't possibly, dear.
Besides, I have work to do with Lieutenant Columbo.
"I have work to do with Lieutenant Columbo.
" I wish Mrs.
Columbo could hear that.
I'll tell you, she's one of your biggest fans.
I mean, the day that one of your books comes out, she's the first one to put her order in at the library.
Delighted, Lieutenant.
This certainly is a charming room.
Very nice little things you have standing around, ma'am.
Very nice.
Very nice.
You know, a woman in your position, ma'am, I'm surprised you don't have an attorney here with you.
I don't understand.
No.
I mean, an important person like you and how you had your attorney here last night and he flew to New York with you and I would've thought that he would come back with you.
I did not consider it appropriate to return to a corpse in my safe in my home, hand in hand with my lawyer.
The image lacks civility.
One lump, two? Three, thank you, ma'am.
You know what I'm dying to ask you? All those books, all those brilliant schemes, how do you think of them? By putting myself in your position.
Isn't that something? That's just what I said to Mrs.
Columbo.
I said, "When that woman writes, "she don't think like a murderer," "she thinks like a policeman.
" Having composed myself, I'm ready to think like a policeman now.
I believe I can explain what happened here last night and why the switch was on this morning.
Oh, I would appreciate that, ma'am.
That would be a big help.
Uh Can I sit in this? Well, that's what it was made for 400 years ago.
I gave Edmund the combination to my safe after my decision to leave him a great deal of money.
Are you aware of that? Yes, ma'am.
We found the wills in one of those metal boxes.
He drove away just before we left for the airport.
My attorney was here at the time.
My maid, my secretary.
Later last night, Edmund must have returned.
He knew I keep a great deal of money in my safe.
You mean he came back to steal? Well, let's say to take an advance against his inheritance.
It seems I misjudged Edmund.
But you see, Lieutenant, I neglected to turn the alarm back on when I closed the safe last night.
I called Annie from the airport, my maid.
She came into the living room to switch it on.
Edmund was already in the safe, I believe.
He heard her coming, he panicked, he pulled the door shut and the dial must have jumped and locked itself.
It does that sometimes.
You may check it out yourself.
I already did, ma'am.
Well, then you see, it was an accident.
Well, that certainly makes sense.
An accident.
That's probably what it was.
Excuse me.
Lieutenant, we found it.
Can I talk to you? Yes, Sergeant.
Excuse me, Miss Mitchell.
I can't tell you what a big help you've been.
A big help to Lieutenant Columbo.
I wish my publishers could hear you say that.
Abby.
Here, you'd better drink this.
It looks like an awful day.
Yes, doesn't it, dear? Nephew's.
Wait a minute, let me see that shoe.
That's a very nice shoe.
You like that shoe, Sergeant? It's very nice, Lieutenant.
Well, it's practically new.
That's terrific.
I'm looking for a pair of shoes just like this.
You see, I like them rounded toes.
It's French-style.
The French started that.
Oh, made in Italy.
Well, what's the difference? I like them, you see.
Used to be very big in this country.
How do, ma'am? Well, if you fancy them, Lieutenant, as Edmund's legal heir, I'm empowered to make you a gift of his shoes.
Oh, that's very kind of you, ma'am, but no thanks.
It's true I am in the market for a pair of shoes and I was caught by the style, but they're not my size.
They do fit the footprint, though.
We're making a plaster cast.
Yes, very impressive.
But we do know that Edmund was here.
Remember? He was found dead in my safe.
Well, the only question is, ma'am, how did he get into the house? Presumably with a key.
My niece knew that I kept them here.
She must have told Edmund.
Here, wait a minute.
There.
Uh-oh, fingerprints.
Is it too late? I would say so, yes, ma'am.
Well, then if there's nothing else Well, as a matter of fact, there is, Miss Mitchell.
It's about your nephew's car keys.
You and everyone else saw him drive away.
We found the car back there on the service road.
So he had to have car keys.
But there were no car keys on the body.
So the question is, what happened to his keys? I can't imagine.
What do you think? Oh, I'm not a writer, ma'am.
It's not what I think, it's what I can prove.
And I can't prove a thing about those car keys.
But I'm gonna work on it, ma'am.
I'm gonna work on it very hard.
Could I have one of these flowers for Mrs.
Columbo? I insist, Lieutenant.
Wait till I tell her it came from Abigail Mitchell.
Goodbye, ma'am.
Ma'am, if there's nothing else, I'll be turning in.
Yes, it's time we all had some rest.
What are you doing, Annie? That policeman, ma'am, the one that's in charge.
He kept putting his cigar butts in the sand.
I dumped it out and made it nice and fresh.
Dumped it where? In the trash, ma'am.
It was just before the garbage truck come.
Oh, thank you, Annie.
Oh, ma'am, one more thing.
Yes? There were some keys here in the sand.
Were there? Yes.
Miss Veronica said they were hers.
She'd been looking for them.
And Miss Veronica took her keys? Oh, yes, ma'am.
How fortunate for her.
Good night, Annie.
Good night.
Oh, Abby.
Before I split, I thought you might like the draft of the women's club speech.
Oh, thank you, dear.
Good night.
Oh, Veronica.
Yeah? Is there anything else? I can't think of anything.
Can you? Not for now.
Tomorrow is another day, isn't it? It better be.
Good night, boss.
Good night.
You may take this as another confession.
I cannot write any kind of fiction that doesn't have a murder or a sleuth in it.
There you are.
As Agatha Christie said when someone asked her why she didn't write other kinds of novels, "Madam, one does what one can, not what one can't.
" Very good, you know.
Putting the murderer behind bars is the business of detective fiction or committing him or her to the executioner.
Why? Why do so many readers take joy in that? Is it because we're punishing something that we feel in ourselves? Is there murder in our civilized hearts? Obviously, there is in mine.
And I'm well-paid.
Well, now, well, now, there are murderers and then there are murders.
Once upon a time the offended party could issue a challenge to a duel.
What a wonderful solution to a problem! By the time the duel ended, the problem no longer existed.
Of course, dueling existed only for our forefathers, not our foremothers.
Chauvinism at its very worst.
However, however, women were the cooks and there was all sorts of poison available.
In our midst today, ladies, there is someone who deals with murder.
In fact, for him, it's a fact of life.
Real and frightening, a dark probability from which he must defend us.
I wonder if we could prevail upon Detective Lieutenant Columbo of the Police Homicide Division to say a few words to us? Oh, come on.
She got you.
You're adorable.
Listen! Perhaps, perhaps, Lieutenant Columbo will speak to us on his special field, hyper-modern chemical techniques and their application to advanced criminology.
There you go.
I talk better when this is lit.
I didn't expect anything like this.
I came here just like you to enjoy the famous Abigail Mitchell.
As for all that chemical stuff, I think Miss Mitchell was putting you on because I don't know anything about that.
And about my work being dark and frightening, I'll tell you the truth, I'm not sure about that, either.
I like my job.
Oh, I like it a lot.
And I'm not depressed by it.
And I don't think the world is full of criminals and full of murderers.
Because it isn't.
It's full of nice people just like you.
And if it wasn't for my job, I wouldn't be getting to meet you like this.
And I'll tell you something else.
Even with some of the murderers that I meet, I even like them, too.
Sometimes.
Like them and even respect them.
Not for what they did, certainly not for that.
But for that part of them which is intelligent or funny or just nice.
Because there's niceness in everyone, a little bit, anyhow.
You can take a cop's word for it.
Thank you, ladies.
Oh, thank you, dear.
Thank you so much.
I'm so glad you liked it.
How nice of you to come.
Miss Mitchell, ma'am.
Yes.
I thought you made a wonderful speech.
You're gonna forgive my little prank? I'm gonna tell you a secret, ma'am.
I enjoyed myself.
I'll tell you the reason that I wanted to see you, Miss Mitchell.
I would like to take a look at your nephew's apartment.
Whatever for? Oh, if I knew that, ma'am, I wouldn't have to look at it.
Now you're inheriting the property and all, so, I'd like you to be there, too.
I could run you over.
My car is right here.
It's French.
Very rare.
Oh, yes, I can see why.
Would you consider joining me? I'm gonna make a request, ma'am.
Would you allow me to drive this car? Okay.
Thank you very much.
Abby, are you all set? Well, it was all set.
But you see, now I have a mission with Lieutenant Columbo.
The travel agency called about the stateroom.
You want me to take care of it? Oh, yes.
Just tell them "A" deck again.
Right.
You know, I can remember the only new car my father ever bought.
How proud he was.
The way it smelled.
Kind of like the inside of a Pullman car.
It wasn't like this, though, I'll tell you that.
Mmm.
My father never owned a car.
Not until I bought him one.
I was 20.
I'd just sold my first book.
Shall we compare poverty stories, Lieutenant? Not in a Rolls-Royce, ma'am.
What a treat to watch a consummate professional at work.
You may ignore me.
Proceed to detect.
Well, there won't be much to watch, ma'am.
Oh.
What did you say that your nephew did for a living? Well, now, you see those quaint objects up against the wall? Those are called skis.
And this funny whatchamacallit, this over here, that is called a tennis racket.
Now, this gizmo on the wall is a sailboat's wheel.
You may deduce what Edmund did with his time.
Any enemies, would you say? Oh, I can't imagine why there should be.
Are you still going to hold to that theory of malice and murder? Until I find those keys, ma'am.
Are they in the drawer? You're putting me on again, Miss Mitchell.
Would you kindly observe me in this other room? Back there at the Ladies' Club, ma'am, when you were talking to Veronica, she said something about a stateroom and you said "A" deck.
Oh, yes, yes.
I'm sailing in three days.
The Far East.
Off with the old, on with the new.
Whatever that means.
I've decided to do my new book on shipboard.
Oh, I wouldn't count on that, ma'am.
We're gonna need your presence here in town until this thing is settled.
There's nothing to settle.
Bear with me, ma'am.
My plans were made weeks ago.
I know you'll understand.
I do not understand.
You'll have to discuss this with my attorney.
Well, I think we're finished here, Miss Mitchell.
What, precisely, have you found out from all this poking around? I'm surprised, I really am.
Didn't you see it? Evidently not.
Your niece and her husband, you said they were very much in love.
Well, they couldn't have been.
In fact, they must've had a very poor marriage.
You see, Miss Mitchell, there aren't any pictures of Edmund's dead wife.
Not a single one.
And I'll be very glad to talk to your attorney, ma'am.
Playing hooky again, huh? That's the blessing of being two years ahead with my books.
I can squander an afternoon.
I thought you should know that Lieutenant Columbo's back again.
Is he? Mmm-hmm.
In the library.
Whatever does he expect to find in there? These? Edmund's car keys.
I knew the police were looking for them.
So were you, Abby.
In the sand.
How very thoughtful of you, dear.
I believe we'll have this one, too.
Oh, yes, it's lovely.
Abby, I've been meaning to speak to you about my salary.
After all, we've been together nearly four years.
I thought more like a bonus.
Perhaps a long trip.
You've never been to Europe.
Oh, but I wouldn't wanna be away from you for too long.
Besides, it might end up like one of your plots.
I mean by the time I get back, the police might even somehow suspect me of murdering Edmund.
Yes, I understand.
I thought maybe we could travel together.
On your cruise.
I've never been on a cruise.
Delightful idea.
You could help me with my book.
And there'd be plenty of time to talk about our futures.
Oh, Abby, I I do hope you don't think I'm forcing myself.
Oh, my dear, I'm always been baffled by people who say they won't submit to force.
I can't think of anything else to submit to, can you? Lieutenant Columbo? Lieutenant Columbo? Yes? How do you do? I'm Martin Hammond, Miss Mitchell's attorney.
Oh, right.
You were in New York.
Yes.
Would you care to join me? Lieutenant, I trust you realize that Miss Mitchell is a rather influential lady.
Oh, I'm aware of that, sir.
I saw all those pictures of her signed by Eisenhower and Truman and Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi.
How did she know Mahatma Gandhi? Perhaps from her travels.
By the way, she intends to travel again.
She's leaving the day after tomorrow.
Oh, I don't think I can permit that, sir.
Why not? Well, as Miss Mitchell said, the body was found in her safe in her house.
But Edmund had left this house.
He drove away in front of three witnesses, one of which was myself.
He returned, well, I don't know when, but it was some time after Miss Mitchell had departed for New York.
That's a fact to which I also am a witness, Lieutenant.
So do you propose to hold her as a suspect? No, sir, I don't think I could properly do that.
As a material witness, then? No, I don't think I could do that, either, sir, since the lady wasn't here.
Do you think that these two pieces of paper go together, sir? No, they do not.
Would you say that something is missing? I would say something appears to be missing.
You're a very good attorney, sir, very convincing.
Goodbye.
Goodbye, Lieutenant.
Very good lawyer, sir.
Very convincing.
Great.
Roll off the right foot, honey.
Fine.
Dance it, enjoy it.
Great.
More hips, hips, hips.
Good.
Now make it sensual but dignified, it's not a striptease.
Combination, hips.
Great.
Both sides, use both sides.
Arms up.
Stomach, stomach, good.
You're terrific.
Excuse the interruption, ma'am.
I'm Lieutenant Columbo and I'm looking for a Miss Veronica Bryce.
Yes, Lieutenant? You? Me! Excuse the interruption, I'm sorry.
More questions? Just a few.
Thank you.
Over here.
All right.
Thank you.
Excuse me.
Hey, that's quite a costume you got there, ma'am.
I thought this was just some kind of an exercise class.
Well, that's exactly what it is.
Now, what can I do for you, Lieutenant? Lieutenant? Yes, ma'am.
Yes.
Now, it's about how you came to find Edmund's body in the safe.
It wasn't very difficult.
I just opened the door and there he was.
What I mean is how did you come to open the safe on that particular morning at that particular time? Do you usually open the safe once a week, twice a week, once a month? How often? Whenever I have something to put in it.
That morning I'd finished typing Abby's new book.
The Night I was Murdered, that book? No, no.
The Night I was Murdered was last year's book.
This is a brand-new one.
She told me to be sure to lock it in the safe as soon as I'd finished typing the last few pages.
When did she tell you that, ma'am, the night before? Yes, the night before.
Excuse me, Lieutenant, but this is the last class before we sail.
You mean you're sailing with Miss Mitchell? Does that surprise you? Well, yes, ma'am, it does.
It's just that there in front of the Ladies' Club, I got the impression that you were making the arrangements just for her.
Oh, did you? Well, I'm included now, is that all right? Oh, certainly.
Excuse me.
Pardon me.
Sorry, sorry, ma'am, forgive me.
Good morning, ma'am.
What a nice surprise.
Oh! Good morning, Lieutenant.
Do you love surprises as much as I do? Well, that depends, ma'am.
I've had some nasty ones.
And given a few, I guess.
Do you come here often? Well, sometimes in the mornings, walk my dog.
Is he all right? Well, yes, ma'am.
Do you see something wrong? He seems to be scraping bottom.
Well, that's the way they were made.
He likes to look at the boats.
We come down here in the mornings and walk and think.
In my business, the thinking never stops.
He loves the ocean.
How can you tell? It makes him frisky.
Had enough? Okay.
Now don't go away.
Stay.
He's trained.
Amazing.
I've been watching the sailboat.
Oh, beautiful thing.
Not to me.
It's like the one Phyllis was drowned on.
I looked into that, ma'am.
She disappeared from the boat.
But the police, they don't know for a fact that she died of drowning.
I didn't know the police took all that interest.
It was so officially closed.
Well, there was nothing else they could do, ma'am.
No.
Nope.
Nothing else.
That must have been very hard losing someone you love like that.
I've been very lucky.
I've lost my parents, that's the way of the world.
But to lose someone that young, that's like being cheated.
That's very hard.
I'm beginning to be very fond of you, Lieutenant.
I think you're a very kind man.
Don't count on that, Miss Mitchell.
Don't count on it.
Here, dog, come here, dog.
Come on.
I still think Edmund was murdered.
And I'm still looking for the car keys.
When I find the keys, I'll find the murderer.
You quite sure, Lieutenant? Very sure, ma'am.
These are the car keys.
And I didn't murder Edmund.
He drove away, I went to New York.
Remember? I found them this morning, out back.
Out back? Right there, ma'am? Next to this sprinkler? Right there.
Right there.
Well, ma'am, I don't know what to say.
Well, you might say Edmund dropped his keys.
I'm a very old woman.
I know you think I'm stupid.
To tell you the truth, I'm only really intelligent when I write.
Still, it seems clear to me, there was Edmund's car, there were the keys and there was Edmund.
Yes, ma'am, that certainly explains it.
It certainly does.
I'll be running off now.
Goodbye, young man.
Oh, Lieutenant Columbo.
Just one more question.
Yes, ma'am.
Are you prepared to drop your murder theory? The ship hasn't sailed yet, ma'am.
Have a fine time now, ma'am.
And you too, Annie.
You enjoy your vacation.
I will.
I will.
Well, Martin.
All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, aren't you? Yes! Well, you are quite a girl, Miss Abigail Mitchell.
I just write well.
Thanks for rescuing me from the Lieutenant's clutches.
Oh, that was my very great pleasure.
Oh, Veronica, bon voyage.
Oh, thank you, Mr.
Hammond.
Well, take care, love.
And call me any time you find a body in your safe.
Abby, my God, it's like a dream.
How can I thank you? You'll find a way, my dear.
Is it all right if I go on deck? You're free to do whatever you please.
Excuse me, Lieutenant.
All visitors must go ashore.
Are you sailing with me? Oh, it's not that I wouldn't like that, ma'am.
Mrs.
Columbo and I tried it.
It was terrific.
Then goodbye.
Thanks for seeing me off.
Well, the fact is, Miss Mitchell, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave with me.
Well, that's impossible.
Not really, ma'am.
I have a bench warrant here to show to the captain.
May I ask why? Well, ma'am, it's those car keys again.
You see these pictures, ma'am? These are shots of Edmund's footprint taken out there in back of your house.
That was the day that Veronica found the body.
Now, this picture here, we had a section of this blown up.
Here's the blowup.
You see by this sprinkler head here, that's right where you said you found Edmund's keys.
Right under that bush, ma'am.
But there aren't any keys there, not the day that Edmund was killed.
You see that? So how can you say that you found them there yesterday? The curse of old age, Lieutenant, forgetfulness.
One bush is much like another.
Do you want me to speak to the captain, ma'am? I'm gonna be needing your help back there at the house.
Excuse me, I need my coat out there.
And I'll need mine.
If you don't mind, ma'am? Is this the important help you needed? Oh, no, ma'am.
I'm gonna need a lot more help than that.
To the desk, ma'am.
You see these two pieces of paper, ma'am? You can see that there is a missing piece.
And I kept saying to myself, I kept thinking, there's Edmund locked in there in the safe.
Now supposing, just supposing, I'm right and you're wrong, there he is locked in there by the murderer.
And he certainly must've known who that was.
If I'm right, that is.
Would you agree, ma'am? If you insist.
Then, I said to myself, if I was Edmund, if I knew I was going to die in there, I would want the murderer punished.
I would certainly want the police to know who murdered me.
But you have nothing to write with, Edmund.
Absolutely correct.
And even if I could've written out an accusation, I would have no way of being certain who would be the first person to open the safe and find it, or destroy it.
I mean, for all Edmund knew, it could have been the murderer who would be the first person to open the safe.
But I can't get it out of my head that the dead man left us something, a message.
Some sort of sign.
The missing piece of paper.
Not exactly, ma'am.
That's a puzzle, all right.
But I keep thinking that Edmund maybe left us a different kind of puzzle.
These safe deposit boxes, ma'am, they've all been in and out of the safe a half dozen times since the murder.
Stacked every which way.
May I put them here? Sure.
Now, you remember that Edmund had black paint under his fingernails and on his belt buckle like he was trying to scratch at something.
And the only black paint with scratches is on these boxes.
Nice, fresh, new scratches.
Do you see the scratches, ma'am? His message from the grave.
Please, ma'am, bear with me.
It's like we have to interpret them, put them in some kind of order.
If there is an order, that is.
That's why I need your help, ma'am.
Your particular kind of mind.
I suppose we could start almost anywhere.
Let's turn this top box over and see what that's like.
What do you make of that, ma'am? A "V.
" "V" for victory.
Perhaps he was expressing his life-force.
Or is it "V" for Veronica? How very cruel of her.
Do you think Veronica did it, Lieutenant? Oh, I doubt that, ma'am.
I doubt that very much.
But she could have got an idea who did kill him.
Really? What a clever girl she is.
Perhaps it's upside down.
An unfinished "A.
" "A" for Annie.
Did Annie, my maid, do it? We haven't got a butler.
Abigail Mitchell.
"A" for Abigail, ma'am.
Was he accusing me? Are you accusing me, Lieutenant? I wasn't here.
Right, ma'am.
That's a fact.
Well, let's take this second one and turn it around.
Well, we could turn this upside down and put it on top.
Mmm-hmm.
A "Y.
" Maybe it's a cosmic question, "Why?" Dear Edmund in the safe, questioning the meaning of life.
Or why he was murdered, ma'am? Oh, every character I write knows exactly why he was murdered.
Let's try again.
About those car keys, the only way you could have got them after Edmund left is for Edmund to have come back before you left for the airport.
And you were with him, ma'am.
Edmund and you were together.
That's very extravagant of you, Lieutenant.
Can you prove that? No, ma'am, no.
Not a chance.
What do you make of that, ma'am? An arrow.
An arrow pointing straight down Do you think he wanted to call attention to his new shoes? Excuse me, ma'am.
An arrow pointing straight to heaven.
Heaven is my destination? He wanted us to know the light doesn't work.
He was always a bit of a complainer.
It's the title page from your manuscript, ma'am.
The Night I Was Murdered? It's the missing piece.
You see, these two words have been rubbed out by a burned match.
Would you mind reading it for me, ma'am? Out loud, please, ma'am? "I Was Murdered" Go on, ma'am.
"By Abigail Mitchell.
" Murdered by Abigail Mitchell.
Deathbed testimony.
That's considered very strong evidence, ma'am.
I understand why you did it, Miss Mitchell.
Veronica will spit when she hears.
I don't suppose you would consider making an exception in my case? An old woman, quite harmless, all in all.
Under the circumstances, your kindness.
I thank you for the compliment.
But you're a very professional person in your work and so am I.
Very professional indeed.
Just think, Lieutenant.
If you had investigated my niece's death, all this need never have happened.