The List of Yuri Lermentov


Murder, She Wrote Episode # 162

Original Air Date - December 15, 1991

Guests: Richard Beymer, Theodore Bikel, Len Cariou

Synopsis: While in Washington, Jessica awakens in her hotel to discover her room has been ransacked and a KGB agent is lying dead on the floor.

Adapted by SarahB



I wondered if I was getting too old for this transient lifestyle.   I was constantly on the move and always looking over my shoulder.  It had never easy being attached to MI-6, although at times it had been thrilling.  I had seen just about everything in my day, good and bad.  Over the years, I had managed to have a few flings and one failed marriage, but it would be nice to settle down someday.  Fortunately, I had acquired a number of good friends over the years.   Admittedly, some of those good friends were in enemy camps.   My friend Yuri Lermentov was no exception.   He was a KGB operative and should have been my number one enemy, but we had managed to save each other’s skin on more than one occasion.  I counted him as a close friend.  


It seemed as we were nearing the end of the heady days of spies and intrigue behind the Iron Curtain, but here was an exception.


I found myself in D.C. once again.  This time it was a matter of life or death for mates of mine.  Yuri was on the verge of retirement and he had decided that it was time to cushion his pension. He had acquired a list of names of MI-6 colleagues of mine under deep cover in Libya.  He was planning on selling the list to the highest bidder that would no doubt be used for blackmail and certainly something far worse sinister.  If cover was blown for these fellows, they faced certain death at the hands of the Libyans.  It wasn’t something I could let go.  I was dispatched by Whitehall to try to talk sense into Yuri because of my friendship with him.  The truth was that our friendship was on the line.  I couldn’t let him release the list to the wrong hands, even if it meant that I had to kill him.  


I was actually on a rare vacation to Ireland when I was called up for this duty.   It wasn't often that I saw my cousins in Dublin and I was a bit cranky to have to abandon the  holiday.  But, this emergency took precedence, even over my rare leisure time with family.   From Dublin, I few to London for a briefing at Whitehall.   I then boarded the British Airways flight to Washington.


As soon as I landed at Washington Reagan Airport, I headed to a meeting with Yuri at an abandoned apartment building near the district.   He was there waiting for me.  I was surprised at his appearance.  It had been some time since we had last met, and he didn’t seem well.   We shook hands.  Despite the seriousness of the situation, I was still glad to see my old friend. 


Yuri, you’ve jeopardized your life with this list,” I said, my voice full of meaning.

“There have been times when I have been more pleased to see you too, Michael,” Yuri responded.

“That cuts both ways.  This is a pretty chancy game you’re playing.  Surely, someone at the embassy knew that you had access... that you’re not ready for retirement.”

“I don’t think so.  They are too busy worrying about their own futures.  Being a good apparatchik doesn’t carry the guarantees it used to.”

“For us too,” I agreed.

“It’s as if the...structure has gone out of it.”

“And the fun.  It’s old.”

“It...or us?” Yuri laughed. 

I couldn’t help but laugh too. “Well, it sure as hell isn’t Livorno anymore,” I said.

“Yes, or Frankfurt.  Look, Michael, you think I want to do this?  But the apartment I’m going back to in Kiev is even smaller and infinitely more dismal than my pension.”

“Come on, Yuri, nobody’s twisting your bloody arm.  You’ve had, what? Seventeen pretty cushy years there.”

“Cushy?  Posing as a trade representative.  Talking up tractors and wheat while the field agents were piling up dollars in Swiss banks.”

“Okay, okay, so Salonika was a tough break, but you’re alive.”

“Sometimes I wish you hadn’t been there for me,” he said with regret.

I pointed out,  “But I was there for you.”

“Yes.   You know, Michael, in Moscow, they’re finally beginning to get it.  Perhaps in twenty years, it will be the next land of opportunity.  But I don’t have that much time.   Unlike several of my countrymen who managed to cut themselves a slice of the American pie, I unfortunately do not have a gift for, eh, standup comedy or shoving a puck around the hockey rink.  So, I prefer to do business with you.”

“Okay.  Here’s where it is. I’m not getting a whole lot of cooperation from those twits at Whitehall.  They’re all terrified that the list you’re trying to peddle is a plot to rob the exchequer. What it totals out to is you gotta give me another twenty four hours.”

“Impossible.  The buyer wants to close the deal tonight and my flight for Moscow leaves at 8:00 a.m.  If you can meet my price tonight, fine.”

My temper rose and I grabbed the collar of his trench coat.  “Damn you, I’ve got a silenced walther right here in my pocket which if I had any brains in my head I’d be using right now.  Instead, I’ll make you a promise.  If that merchandise is damaged in any way at all, I swear if I have to follow you to Siberia, I’ll kill you.”

Michael, if I were in your place, I’d probably pull the trigger.  And on the whole, I’m not sure it wouldn’t be preferable to Kiev,” Yuri replied, his voice in a dead calm.


He turned and left.   I was desperate.  I went to the British Embassy and called Whitehall again.  I had to make another attempt to convince Whitehall to release the funds.   I knew I had at least one more chance to talk to Yuri later that evening at congressional trade reception.


The trade reception was being held at the venerable Willard Hotel.  It would be attended by various international trade representatives and government officials.  I was under cover as Sir Michael Preston, a diamond lobbyist from South Africa.  I had charmed a pretty young woman named Bonnie Hartman, a US government employee, into taking me as her date.   We planned to meet there since I wanted to save every last second to convince Whitehall to release funds.   


When I walked up to Bonnie, who looked gorgeous in a teal green gown, she was talking to a young bloke.  He was obviously smitten with her and was trying to convince her to go out with him.  It was nothing to me, but I had to maintain my assumed identity.  I overheard him accusing her of “having a serious old guy fixation”.  I took my queue here to interject some humor into the situation, and of course, work my charm on the lovely Miss Hartman.

“And bless her little heart for that, too,” I said as I was walking up.  Michael Preston, at your service, geriatrically speaking of course.”  Bonnie gave me a big smile.

Sir Michael, Harry Neville.  Sir Michael is a lobbyist for the South African Diamond Cartel.”

“Careful with that drink Harry, I believe they are checking I.D.  My dear?” I said as I lead Bonnie away from young Harry.

We passed a waiter carrying two flutes of champagne on a tray so I helped myself to them for us.  I chuckled, “Hated to leave him standing there, poor boy.  I mean, I think Harry will make some post-pubescent teenager very happy.  Don’t you?”  

We shared some more laughs, then I saw her across the room.  Jessica Fletcher.  My heart just about leapt out of my chest.   I stared at her for a minute and then looked down at my shoes.  Don’t get me wrong, Bonnie was beautiful, but she was no Jessica Fletcher.  She was wearing a black, floor length evening gown.  The top of it was covered in lace and the skirt was slit up the side, showing just a hint of her leg.  She was wearing a double strand of pearl and pearl and diamond earrings. I never saw her look so beautiful, or sexy.   I briefly thought back to my yearning to settle down.  If anybody could get me to settle down, this would be the woman to do it.  I stole another glance her direction, hoping that Bonnie hadn’t noticed. 

Michael, what is it?

“’s just a woman I know,” I responded, trying to hide my smile.

“Let me guess. Someone you jilted.  A former mistress?  An ex-wife?”

“No, no,” I said.

Then I saw that she was talking to Yuri!  Oh, Jessica, darlin’, how do you always manage to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? I thought to myself.   Then I saw Yuri remove a small piece of paper from his jacket pocket and slip it into a book that was on the table that Jessica was standing next too.  I knew that that piece of paper must be the list and I had to get over there fast.  I took Bonnie’s arm and led her toward Jessica.

“Come on,” I said.

“But Michael?”

“Don’t argue, love,” I replied.

As I approached the table, I kept my eye on that book.   I had to get that list somehow.   Yuri had managed to step away before I could say anything to him.  I had a feeling that he was coming to his senses about the list.   At least, I hoped that was the case.   Just then, Jessica noticed me.


Uh oh.  “Oh, good Lord, Jessica Fletcher, is it?  Sir Michael Preston. Splendid to see you again!” I said as I pulled her away from the man she was talking to. 

“What are you up to, Michael?” she asked suspiciously.

I kissed her on the cheek and whispered in her ear, “Jessica, darlin’, I promise you I’ll explain everything to you in good time.”

She gave me one of her looks.  I knew I was in trouble.   Well, it wouldn't be the first time.

She whispered back to my ear, “Oh no, if you think this is going to be another San Francisco or Athens...”

I saw Yuri pushing his way out of the room. “Excuse me,” I said and hurriedly pursued him.  On my way out, I ran into two men who seemed to be pursuing him as well.  Unfortunately, we collided and Yuri escaped before I had a chance to confront him.


I made my way out of the reception.  I managed to con the desk agent into giving me Jessica’s room number.  I knew that book belonged to her and that the list was in it.  I had to get it from her no matter what.   I went to her room and picked the lock.  I helped myself to a whiskey and waited for her to return.   There was a miniature marble replica of the Washington Monument and I picked it up and examined it to kill the time.   I looked at my watch.   I wondered why Jessica was staying out so late.  I’d have to ask her a few questions about the man she seemed to be with.  I hoped that she wasn’t dating him.  He was definitely too dull for her.   She was the kind of woman who needed excitement.  I smiled as I wished that I could convince her that I was the one who could show her that excitement.


Ah, Jessica.  I couldn’t wait for her to come in the door and find me waiting for her.  I always managed to rile her up, but she always forgave me.  That was half the fun with Jessica and I had a feeling she enjoyed it.  I wondered if the two of us would ever get together.  I had been pining for her for years, ever since our first meeting in Jamaica.  She had the most beautiful blue eyes that I had ever seen and when she fixed me with one of her looks, well, it was all I could do but grab her and kiss her passionately.   I sighed out loud.  I had actually heard rumors that she was seeing an inspector from New Scotland Yard.  It just figured she’d fall for a Brit and it wouldn’t be me.  Still I hoped and could keep on trying to convince her. Maybe this would be the time that it would finally happen. 


But then I had to remind myself why I was really there.  It was life or death for my mates.


Finally, I heard voices outside the door.  Jessica was saying goodnight to Mr. Dull.  He was questioning her about me.  Hmmmm, jealous, was he?  I had to laugh at how Jessica handled it all.  She was a coy one for sure. I was also relieved to hear her bid him goodnight outside the door. 


She opened the door and locked it behind her.  She turned around and let out a gasp when she saw me.


Michael Haggarty! What are you...?”

“Ah, you were trying to cure your insomnia right?  I mean that’s the only reason anyone would spend an entire evening with that terminally stuffed shirt.”

Michael, Arthur Prouty is not what this conversation is about. Now,”

I interrupted her, “At least you had the good sense not to invite him in.”

“Well, he happens to be a lovely man,” she said.

“You and him?  Aw, Jess,” I said.

“Look, Michael, there is nothing romantic about my relationship with Arthur.  Which certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t a very attractive man. He’s literate, charming, and principled.”

“And boring.”  At least this confirmed that she was not dating this dullsville.

She pursed her lips at me and sighed.   “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

I loved teasing her like this.   “You know Jess, when we’ve got some time, we really should talk about us,” I said.


“Oh, I know what you’re thinking Jessica, but you needn’t give that Miss Hartman a second thought.  She was only my ticket into the reception.  And once I saw you there...”

“Will you please stop?”  She took the replica statuette away from me and held it in her hands.  I hoped she wouldn't hit it with me.  She looked at me sternly, but with those magical sparkling eyes, “Listen to me.  I’ve had it up to here with your flimflams, your half-truths, and your secrets.  This time it’s going to be different.  Now, I want some answers and I want them straight.”  She set down the statuette and took a seat across from me .  “Starting right now.”

I took a sip of my whiskey and looked at her for a moment.  “All right, Jessica, let’s start with the book.”

“The book?  What book?” she asked, completely puzzled.


There was no way I was letting her in on this one.  It was too dangerous and I couldn’t risk bringing her in on it.  She managed to convince me that she didn’t have the book.    She walked me out to the hall.


“Goodnight Michael.  I’m tired and I’m going to sleep.”

“Well Jess, I guess you’ll have to trust me.”

“No Michael, you’ve asked me to do that one too many times.”

“Believe me, love, it’s better that you don’t know, at least for now.”

I took her hand, looked in her beautiful eyes for a minute and then I kissed her cheek.  She gave me an exasperated look.  I took my leave.  Jessica must have left it downstairs at the reception.  I hoped beyond hope that Prouty picked it up. I’d have search for it there.  I still had to find Yuri as well.  It was going to be a long night.  


The next morning, after a fruitless night of searching for both the book and Yuri, I returned to the Willard to see Jessica.  There were a number of police cars in front of the hotel.  In the lobby, I saw two medics wheeling out a stretcher holding a body in a bag.  Bloody hell, I said under my breath.  It was never a good sign when cops were in the vicinity of Jessica.   She had the uncanny knack of finding trouble, even without my help.  Not waiting for the elevator, I raced up the stairs two at a time to Jessica’s room.  There were police milling outside her room in the hallway and the door was open.  My heart was pounding in my chest, and not just from running up the stairs.


I rushed in the door and saw her.  Relief flooded me.  She was talking to Prouty and another man who I assumed to be a police detective.  I interrupted just in time to keep her from saying anything about the list. 

Jessica!  I just saw the body bag.  Thank Heaven!” I said.

“Who are you?” the officer asked.

“Oh excuse me, officer, I’ll explain everything in a moment.” I pulled Jessica away, “Jessica, about the book, I’ve searched everywhere for it.  Any chance...”

“Book?  What book?” the officer interrupted.

“Just give me a moment,” I said.

“It’s all right,” Jessica said.

“No, it’s not all right.  Now look.  I want to know who you are and what’s your connection to all of this is,” the officer demanded.

“Would you just give me a moment?”  I turned back to Jessica, “Now...”

“All right, that’s it pal.  Either you’re prepared to tell me now, who you are, why you’re here and what the hell this is all about, or I’m going to hold you for questioning.”

“Officer I really can’t afford to be detained just now and unfortunately, I’m not in the position to be to explain why, not at the moment at any rate.”

“All right pal, that’s it.”

I hauled off and punched him right in the kisser.  I ran out onto the balcony and jumped.  Thank goodness there was an awning and I was able fall onto it to flee safely.   Oh brother.   I knew I was in for it.   Now I was in trouble with the police and Jessica.  I wasn’t sure which was worse.


I spent the rest of the day looking for the bloody book and avoiding the police.  I put in a secure call to Whitehall to let them know about Yuri’s murder.  I was finally able to convince them that this was no hoax.  My biggest problem now was that the list might get into even worse hands.    I finally made my way back to the Willard.  I watched for Jessica to return.   I had a feeling that they would change her room and I didn’t want to risk spending too much time in the lobby.  I lingered in the shrubs by the parking lot.   I was surprised to see Bonnie Hartman coming and going.  And then I was happy to see Jessica return, even if it with Mr. Dullsville Prouty and that young buck Nevill.   I didn’t know what Jessica saw in Prouty.   At any rate, I followed Jessica into the lobby.


Jessica was stopped by a man with a briefcase.  He was unknown to me, but he did look a little familiar.  She visited with him for a few minutes, which I observed from a phone booth.  I then realized that he was one of the men that I had collided with the reception the previous evening.  Jessica was getting involved whether she wanted to or not and against my wishes.  


Once Jessica left the lobby, I watched her enter an elevator and waited for the light above the elevator to indicate the floor stop.  I ran up the stairs again to the fourth floor and caught up with her just as her door was closing.  I pushed the door and then she noticed me.


Michael.  Get in here,” she said, obviously annoyed.  “Now, no more nonsense.”

I noticed that the room was in disarray.  “This place has been searched.”

“I know that.  Michael,”

“Me?  Jessica, I’ve been running around town, dodging the police all day. Uh, hadn’t you better check...see if anything’s missing?”

“If you mean the list, it’s perfectly safe.”

“Thank God.” So she did have the book and the list. I felt great relief. 

“Which is more than I can say for myself,” she said.

“You got that right.  I saw you drive up.   And I’m telling you that you have got to look out for that oaf of a congressman,” I said,

Michael, we are not going to talk...”

“Anybody can tell from the look in the man’s eye that he’s positively bonkers about you,” I said.

“That, that, that is absolutely ridiculous.  Now look...”  Jessica stammered, holding her hands out in disbelief and wearing an exasperated look. 

I walked over to the bar in her suite.  I noticed an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne chilling in it.  I was unable to resist.   I popped the cork off the bottle and poured her a glass and continued, “What are you blind?   I’ve known men like that.  They are all tea party etiquette, but dull enough to put a shark to sleep.  But underneath, they’re oilier than Saddam Hussein’s hair.  You’ll see.  He’ll wait until your eyes glaze over with boredom and suddenly, you’ll find yourself on a cruise ship with him, or on one of those bloody junkets those jokers are always going on all the time.”

I turned and handed her a flute of champagne.   She walked over and took it.  She promptly set it back down on the bar.

Michael, Michael, will you please stop?”

“Okay, okay, fine, but don’t way I didn’t warn you.”  I took my own glass and clinked it against hers and took a satisfying sip.  I was enjoying myself very much. 

“So, let’s have the list.”

“No,” she said emphatically.


“No.  I’ve let you do it to me again, Michael.  I’m not blaming you.  You can’t help yourself.   I should have learned by now,” she said.

Jessica, darlin’.”

“Don’t interrupt.  And don’t for goodness sakes keep calling me ‘Jessica, darlin’.  Look, I promised myself over and over that I was never again going to let you draw me into another one of your intrigues, into this, this crazy life that you live,”

“Jess, I wouldn’t dream of...” I said.  

“But once again, I’ve gone and fallen for your lies, and your blarney, and that charm you turn on and off like a faucet.  But now, I want an explanation.  I want the truth.”

I turned away from her and smiled inwardly, So she's fallen for me.  But I knew she wouldn't stand for any more double talk.  “Okay, okay, you’re right.  Everything your saying is true.  Hell, Jess, I guess it’s me I should have been warning you against,” I admitted, and stalling I might add.

Jessica protested, “Michael, you’re doing it to me again!”  She stepped back in front of me and leveled another stern look at me.   


“Now, this list.  What is it a list of?   And how did it get in Arthur’s book?  And why are people willing to kill for it?”

“Look, for whatever it’s worth, I didn’t want to get you involved in a,” I said, avoiding eye contact with her.  She was shaking her head.  Defeated, I knew I had to tell her.  With a sigh, I started tell her about it.  “The list.  It’s a list of five names in code, five of my closest friends, MI-6 spooks like me.   And they’re under deep cover in Libya.  In fact, it’s so deep that we can’t warn them of the danger they are in.  The danger of their being found out."

"You mean if someone sells the list to the Libyans..."

"They'll be killed.  But not until they'll be tortured far beyond the capacities of most men," I told her with a heavy heart.

"Oh dear," she said, shaking her head.    I walked away from her for a moment.  I turned back and joined her at the bar. 

"You've got to understand Jess, there's more to it than us being members of the same bloody club.  Reggie Bowers.   Reggie lost an eye breaking me out of an East German prison the night before I was to be shot by a firing squad.  Ron Priestly.  I was his best man.  I'm godfather to his children.   Rather than tell the bastards my whereabouts in Beirut, he let them do things to his body I don't even want to think about, much less describe then to a lady."

"How awful," she said, putting her hand on mine.  


I told her  more about my mates.   It felt cathartic telling her things that I had never told another living person. 


"Anyway, Yuri Lermentov accidentally got his hands on the list.  He happened to be in the embassy communications center when a stray MI-6 burst transmission bounced off the wrong satellite.  He recognized the boys' code names and their Libyan assignments."

"But I thought that sense the cold war ended, the Russians haven't been any friendlier to the Libyans than we are," Jessica said.

"Well, you got that right.  Only, Yuri figured that there were many people, middle men, with connections in Tripoli who'd pay handsomely for the list.  And then sell it for bigger money over there."
Jessica said with disgust, "All of those people trafficking in human lives."

"Yeah, you try not to think of it.  And when you do, you kind of rationalize the fact that a great many more lives are at stake, civilians, millions of them.  Except, every so often I get this sneaky thought.  Maybe we're just doing a number on ourselves to justify playing cowboys and Indians.  At any rate, Yuri wasn't all that happy with himself for what he was doing and at the last minute, he had a change of heart, slipped the list into that book that Prouty gave you."  I sighed.  "Jess, there's no way you can imagine how badly I want to get my hands on the miserable son of a..."

She stopped me.  "After what he almost did to your friends, Michael?  How can you feel that way?"

"I guess I keep forgetting how hard it is for civilians to relate to the world I live in.  Let me tell you about Yuri Lermentov and me." 


I filled her in on my "friendship" with Yuri over the years, especially our scrape in Salonika.   She listened carefully and with understanding.  She told me about going to the police department with Prouty.  Apparently, he had recognized me from a previous trip to Whitehall so my cover was blown.  To make things worse, both of our finger prints were on the marble statuette which was used to kill Yuri.  We drained the bottle of champaign on the terrace of her suite.  Finally, we retreated back to the comfort of the living room, where I finished filling her in on the list.  Our relationship had reached a new level.  This dear lady, so beautiful and so brilliant, was more of a friend to me than I had ever imagined.   She listened when I most needed it. 


"So Mr. Lermentov broke into my room to retrieve the list to make sure it didn't fall into the wrong hands?"

"That's the way I read it Jess.  And someone followed him, and..." I said with a sigh.  "Yuri was as much my friend as those fellows in Libya."

"The list?  Isn't it possible that there are other copies?" Jessica asked.

"Yuri said no.  But there could be.  Whitehall sent a man into Libya to warn the others, but that's going to take a few days.  Meanwhile, they aren't going to be safe as long as one copy of the damn thing is out here and neither are you."


Suddenly, the door was kicked open and the police barged in.    I jumped up and shielded Jessica with my body.

"Don't even move Haggarty, or you're dead meat."

"Lieutenant!" Jessica cried out to him in protest.

"I don't want to hear about it Mrs. Fletcher.  Mr. Haggarty, you're under arrest for the murder of Yuri Lermentov, for resisting arrest, for assaulting a police officer, for unlawful flight.  And, with a little luck, illegal entry into the U.S.  Cuff  him," he said. "And you dear lady, I ought to be running you in for harboring a fugitive."

"Lieutenant Blaisdell..." Jessica said.

"You don't listen, do you Mrs. Fletcher?"

Jessica stood up for me.  "And if I may say so, you don't listen very well yourself.  You've got the wrong man.  The person who searched these rooms is very likely the killer."

He laughed, "And you don't quit either do you?  You'll tell me just about anything to take the heat off this bozo, won't you?"

Of course, Jessica was not about to give up.  "And I'll tell you something else.  Both Bonnie Hartman and Charles Lawton Standish were here in this hotel just before I returned."

She had him there.  Blaisdell said on his radio, "This is Blaisdell.  I want a finger printing unit up here in Mrs. Fletcher's suite on the double."   He turned back to Jessica, "I'm still taking Haggarty in.  And you, Mrs. Fletcher, don't even think about leaving town and don't touch anything."


I was finally able to get a word of warning in to Jessica.  I said, "Jessica, for God's sake, be careful. Five people, five lives, and yours hang in the balance."

Blaisdell said, "Let's go, come on."


I turned back and looked at Jessica one last time and then we were out.   I knew that she would help me as much as she could, but I was also worried about her.  Once we were at the police department, Blaisdell put me in an interview room.  I didn't think he intended to book me, especially concerning my MI-6 status.  I spent the day pacing the small room.   Finally late in the afternoon, Blaisdell came in.


"Well Haggarty, let's go.  Mrs. Fletcher thinks she has it figured out and is setting the trap as we speak."

"I knew she would figure out.  You should have listened to her from the start," I said smugly.

"Just keep your trap shut.  She hasn't proved anything yet."


We burst into Jessica's suite just in time to keep young Harry Neville from using his revolver on Jessica and Prouty.   I sighed in relief.     Blaisdell grabbed Neville and lead him out of the room.   He was put into a squad car.   Prouty, Jessica and I rode together with Blaisdell in a separate unmarked police car.    On the way to the station, Jessica filled us in on how she came to suspect Harry.


"Yesterday, when Harry and Arthur brought me back to my hotel, we talked about our books.  We all wondered why it was that people seemed to want Arthur's book.   Now, Michael, this was before you told me about the list.  Harry joked that maybe there it was a collector's edition or there was a clue in it and then referred to a clue in my latest book," she said. 

"But Jess, how could Harry have known anything about Yuri or the list?"

"Well, he mentioned a clue from my book.   When I looked at my stack of books today, I remembered that I only had five copies left and now there were only four.  I called Arthur to find out if he had lent Harry the copy I had given him.  When he hadn't, I knew that Harry had been in my room and taken my book. See, these are advance copies.  They  haven't been released for sale yet.."

Prouty asked, "But that doesn't account for the list.  How would Harry know about that?"

"Well, I wasn't sure about it.  But the other day in your office, I noticed that Harry opened your mail.  So today, I took a chance that he would open it again.  I sent him the list in via a messenger service.  That's the point when he knew that I knew that he was involved and he came to my hotel to take care of me.  And Michael, that's when you and Lt. Blaisdell saved the day."

"No, Jess, I think it's you who saved the day."

"Thank you, Michael," she said, patting my hand.


We gathered in Blaisdell's office. 

"We found these in his apartment.  Apparently, he's been taping every conversation coming into or out of your office over the last three years," Blaisdell said to Prouty.

"My God," Prouty said.

"That's how you found out about the list, isn't it Harry?  The other day, when I was in the office, a Mr. Kesmek barged in when I was in with Arthur.  Then, you took a call from Kesmek's attorney Charles Lawton Standish.   You must have heard them discussing the purchase of the list.  He wanted to get his hands on it terribly bad.  Kesmek even directed Standish to buy it from me.  He offered me a million dollars.   Anyway, Harry heard both sides of the conversation via the tape," Jessica surmised.

"We also found these leather gloves in Neville's apartment. The leather print on them matches a pattern we found on the marble statuette that was used to kill Lermentov," Blaisdell said.

Harry Neville spoke up here, "I didn't know all that much about the list except for the big money involved.  But then at the trade reception, I happened to pick up on the looks between Kesmek and Lermentov and when Lermentov slipped something into the book...well anyway, after the reception, I saw the headwaiter give the book to Mr. Prouty and when he got on the elevator..."

Jessica said, "You knew it would be in my room and you were already there when Mr. Lermentov let himself in."

"I just found what I thought was the right book.  I bumped into something and then he saw me.  I had no choice."

"The hell you didn't..." I said.

"This Bonnie Hartman must have been another one who saw Lermentov get rid of the list," Blaisdell said.

"You know, Arthur, you and I must have been the only two people in that room that didn't see it."

I shook my head, "Poor sweet lass, that Miss Hartman, well, I guess she just got in over her head."

"Well, so far, all we've got her for is illegal trespassing in Mrs. Fletcher's suite.  We haven't picked her up yet."

Prouty interjected now, and said smugly, "I doubt if it will stick Lieutenant.  While Mr. Haggarty believed that  he was using Miss Hartman to get into the reception, she knew exactly who he was."

"Now wait a minute.  That young lady bought my act without so much as a flicker of the stars that I put in her eyes,"  I bragged.

"Mr. Haggarty, Miss Hartman works for US intelligence.  And while she was searching Jessica's room, she was trying to determine who was doing what to whom

and why."  

Much to my chagrin, I heard Jessica laugh.   Ignoring them both, I picked up the list from Blaisdell's desk and examined it. 

"Uh, Jessica, there is one thing.  With all due respect, I have to say by sending this, you were taking one hell of a chance with five men's lives."

"Oh, but that's not the real list, Michael.  I scribbled that one in the messenger's office.  The original list is in the hotel safe."  She flashed me a huge smile. 


Later that evening, I took Jessica to a celebratory dinner at Butterfield9 in the district.  It was an elegant restaurant with a modern menu.   We extended the evening by enjoying a walk around the mall.  I never took enough time to admire the beauty of all the monuments.  At night, they were especially beautiful.   We chatted about our lives and caught up.  It was probably the first time that I made it through any amount of time without shamelessly flirting with her.   I wanted her to know how much she meant to me as a friend, yet somehow I was unable to say it.  Somehow, I think she understood.  We said goodnight after a nightcap in the Round Robin Bar at The Willard.    It was among the finest evenings I had ever enjoyed.  


The next morning, I escorted Jessica through the busy lobby of the Willard Hotel to the waiting taxi that would take her the airport and out of my life again.

"Well, I guess poor Yuri got his wish.  He doesn't have to go back to Kiev after all.  So, listen Jess, you have no idea how relieved I am I helped you see the light about that Prouty fellow.  Now, about you and me..."

"Oh come on Michael," she said with a laugh.

"Now Jessica, please, hear me out.  We've simply got to start spending more time together.  And I have the perfect plan. You see I have to be in Singapore the day after tomorrow," I said.

"And you need a cover."

"And I need a cover.  And you'd be perfect.  There's absolutely zero risk.  And it would be a great chance for you and I to, um..." I said, raising my eyebrows and giving her a wink.  She laughed and pretended to elbow me.  She gave me a lingering hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Goodbye Michael," she said.

"Goodbye Jess, until we meet again.  If the luck o' the Irish is with me, it'll be sooner than later."  She laughed again and got in the taxi.   I stood there and waved goodbye to her, letting out a sigh.