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Rockford’s ex-girlfriend Sandy Baylock asks him to meet her for dinner. Rockford’s smart enough to guess she needs help, and he’s almost right: her father needs the help. Jim doesn’t understand what kind of problems “good old Charlie Baylock, the friendly bait salesman” might have. Soon enough, Jim learns. Three years ago, Charlie was a low echelon executive for an oil conglomerate, en route to a broken marriage and alcoholism – a different man. More by reflex than by plan, Charlie found a safe containing cash and pushed it out the window. Later, sober and terrified, Charlie put the money in a safety deposit box and quit his job to become a bait salesman. Now the statute of limitations has expired and Charlie wants to return the money. Jim agrees to help, and that pits him against kidnapping mobsters and obnoxious policemen – in particular, Lieutenant Dan Hall, who with a bit of legal chicanery just might link Jim to the original crime!
Answering Machine Message: Hi! This is the Happy Pet Clinic. Your father gave us this number when he left town. The calico stray had six kittens – please come get them... today!
Jim: How much?!?
Charlie Baylock: A little over five hundred thousand. I stole it three years ago.
Jim: Well, put it back!! It makes me nervous!
Jim: I like to run my finger around the edge of something before I decide.
Jim: Just think of me as the bright light in Seawell’s next quarterly statement.
(Lucy Carbone, Sandy’s kidnapper, calls Jim.)
Lucy: Who is this?
Jim: I’m the guy who stumbled into the Halloween party and I’m the guy you’re going to have to negotiate this transaction with.
Lucy: I’m not dealing with no middle man!
Jim: Fact number one is, I’m very fond of Sandy, but I’m not altogether sure she’s worth a half million dollars.
Lucy: C’mon... who are you kidding?
Jim: Fact number two is, I helped Charlie boost this dough three years ago, so I’ve got a half interest in it. Now, I may be willing to trade that away, but only on my terms. I’m not gonna do any deal and then end up with a stiff.
Lucy: I don’t believe you.
Jim: Then take a hike. (He hangs up the phone.)
(Lucy calls back.)
Jim: You keep getting this thing backwards. I’m doing the talking, you’re doing the listening.
Lucy: Um hmm. And you could end up getting part of this broad back in the mail.
Jim: That’d be stupid. I don’t pay on damaged goods.
Lucy: (backing down) Anything else?
Jim: Yeah. I pick the place, and there’s gotta be a lot of people around.
Lucy: That can’t be arranged.
Jim: What a shame. (He hangs up the phone again.)
(Lucy calls back a third time.)
Lucy: What’s with you, anyway? Will you quit hanging the damn phone up?
Jim: Well, you just don’t seem to be getting it right. Now, this thing is going to happen the way I say or it’s not going to happen at all! Capiche?
Lucy: Look, it’s not supposed to go down this way.
Jim: (resignedly) Okay... (He starts to hang up the phone.)
Lucy: Don’t hang up. Okay???
Jim: Alright, get a pencil, I’m going to give you an address...
Lieutenant Dan Hall: Well, now, yesterday you got yourself in a heap of trouble, son.
Jim: (sarcastically) Well, gee, Dad, how’d I do that?!?
Lieutenant Dan Hall: You do that by contacting a man by the name of Max Steinberg and offering to return stolen money. That makes you an accessory after the fact in a robbery.
Jim: Well, let’s look at the facts, Lieutenant. The statute of limitations ran out on that crime at midnight, the night before I talked to Mr. Steinberg. Now, since the statute of limitations ran out that means there is no more crime, therefore I cannot be an accessory. Now, you look that up...
Lieutenant Dan Hall: Well, I don’t know who’s on the clock for your team, but if I were you I’d get a new timekeeper. That statute, on that crime, doesn’t run out until midnight tonight.
Jim: I don’t believe that.
Lieutenant Dan Hall: Of course not. I’m lying to you because I want to get stabbed with a false arrest beef.
Jim: Calm down, Lieutenant. They’re gonna take you home in a respirator!
Becker: You know, I ought to jump all over you.
Jim: Now, listen, Dennis...
Becker: No, you listen! What’s the idea of sitting on kidnappings?