A DUO OF THREE

 

 

 

This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit, and is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders of the rights to Starsky and Hutch.

 

Note. Behind this story there are a few good friends who helped me to write it. Heartfelt thanks to Starsky's Strut for her kindness and great beta work, to Cindy. R for her very helpful information about cars, and to Wuemsel and Sandra for being my muses, and my endless resource of ideas.

 

 

Ken Hutchinson was a happy man. At that moment, he had apparently all those things he could ask life for. Being a policeman was all that he wanted to do for a living, and that was exactly what, finally he was doing, despite his parents´ opposition, whom never had agreed with his choice of a career.

 

Mr. Richard Hutchinson was truly disappointed with the fact that his son wanted to be a cop instead following his steps in his prominent law firm. Both Richard and his wife were sure that a police officer’s salary wouldn’t be enough to get all those material things and the social status that they couldn’t live without. Besides, there were the inherent dangers that came with being a cop. It looked like their son’s happiness was the last of their concerns. But Ken wasn’t willing to change his mind. Sure, the last year had not been all that easy because of the endless arguments with his parents. However, at that moment and with his goal achieved, for Ken it was in the past and therefore, it just didn’t matter any more.

 

On the other hand, he had gotten the most valuable support by his side. The most solid rock to lean on when worries threatened to overcome him, and that support was his partner, a street-wise New Yorker, eldest son of a modest family from Brooklyn. His name was Dave Starsky. And what a guy he was! Never before had Hutch gotten to know anyone as warm and caring, yet tough and brave, as Starsky. Besides, with his non-stop enthusiasm, Starsky made Hutch smile, laugh and feel happier than he had felt in all his entire life, up to this point.

 

 

They had met each other for first time at the Police Academy, and despite their differences, or maybe because of them, Ken Hutchinson instantly liked the kid, as most of their fellow cadets used to call Starsky, due of his youthful appearance, gleeful smile and playful demeanour. Sure, the boisterous young man wasn’t always easy to deal with, but he was really worth the effort.

 

Starsky’s teenage years were painfully overshadowed by his father’s murder in the line of duty. Then having been taken away from his home, mother and younger brother Nicky, just a few short months after that tragedy, when he was sent to live with his Uncle Al and Aunt Rose in Bay City. Coupled the difficult years Starsky had spent in Vietnam, living through enough horrors to drive him insane. But he somehow had always managed to bounce back, keeping his optimism and cheerfulness alive, all along with a pinch of naivety. In fact, as Hutch thought often, Starsky was just a big kid walking around in a man's body, but that was just one part of him. For the blond one, Starsky was also very smart, trustworthy and generous beyond words.

 

The months they had spent in the Academy and later, working together as uniformed officers and partners, Ken Hutchinson had grown very fond of Starsky. At that moment in his life, the blond half of the duo could already call his partner a real friend, and he was sure that not one of those well-off and pretentious guys he had once called friends, couldn't compare to him.

 

As a matter of fact, neither Dave Starsky nor Ken Hutchinson knew wholly each other yet, but maybe without noticing it and day after day, they were building up which with the years passing, would be the most important friendship that both men would have in their lives.

 

They had been patrolling together the streets for the last seven months now, after having partnered with both older police officers along some time, given that the Department wouldn't allow two recent graduates to pair up together, and at that moment, the young men really enjoyed working as well as sharing most of their time off together. The fact of finally being allowed to choose a partner was also, for them, a step forward on their road to the future and the eagerly wished for promotion to plainclothes detectives.  As well as being partners. That was the most important thing for both them. Neither even considered the possibility of working with anybody else.

 

That morning, Ken Hutchinson; Hutch as Starsky liked to call him, pulled a halt in front of the brunet’s apartment, sounding his car horn. A moment later, Starsky´s face with a shining smile and his upper body stuck out from one window.

 

“Come in on and get some breakfast, Hutch!” He yelled, waving widely his arm in an inviting gesture. “My neighbour, Mrs. Foster brought me some homemade apple donuts! They are terrific!”

 

“No, Starsky; we don’t have time for that; hurry up, we’re late!” Hutch answered getting out of his car.

 

“Okay, okay…Give me a sec, will ya?” The curly head disappeared from sight, and a moment later, wearing his neat black uniform and pinning his cap under his arm, he went down the entrance stairs, carrying a brown paper bag in his hand.

 

“You sure don't want some, Blondie? They’re really good.” Starsky asked, getting into the passenger seat, while producing a donut from the bag.

 

“Uh-uh” Hutch shook his head “No, thanks Starsk. By the way; do you know what all that sugar, fat and cholesterol are going to do to your arteries?” Hutch queried, going once more into what, after a few months, had become a familiar lecture.

 

“Yeah partner, I know.” Starsky said rolling his eyes “You keep doing nothing but telling me about that every day for the last seven months… In a few years my arteries will be harder than pipes.”

 

“Okay, so let me say that I don't wanna end up in that same way.”

 

“Hmmm” Starsky shrugged his shoulders, biting nonchalantly into the pastry. “That’s okay… Better for me” 

 

“And now, tell me; what happened to your old garbage can this time?” Hutch was asking about Starsky’s old Chevrolet Corvair that had broken down for third time in the last month.

 

“Dunno. Merle’s going to check it out later. Let’s wait to see what he says.” The brunet answered through a mouthful of donut. “But looks like sooner or later I’ll have to put the damn thing out of its misery and get a new car. One thing’s sure, I’m not going to have saving enough to get the kind of car I’d really like to have. You know; one of those muscle cars, speedy, neat and with a real powerful engine” Starsky said dreamily “They are too expensive for me. I’m afraid that I’ll have to put up with something not much better than the old beater that I have, actually.”

 

“Well, you know Starsk; if you wanna, I could lend you some money.” Hutch offered earnestly.

 

“No thanks, buddy, no offence” Starsky said, patting Hutch’s knee. “I really appreciate the offer, but I can't accept. You have your own rent, food and bills to pay too, and I’m afraid that Mr. Hutchinson isn’t going to help you out with that. And we get same salaries, so it looks like I’ll have to take care of things on my own, I guess.”

 

Sure, Starsk, We got same salaries, and similar expenses to afford too, but unlike you does, I’m not sending part of my pay to my mother, who by the way has another healthy grown up son, even if he’s too bone-idle how to get some job. Hutch thought, although he didn't say anything about. Those were Starsky’s family matters, and he did feel that he didn’t have any right to put his nose in there... nevertheless what he was thinking was a different story entirely.

 

“By the way;” Starsky added “How about going tomorrow morning to Mason’s Cars? We could start taking a look at some cars, you know, just in case that the end of my old piece of junk is closer than I thought”

 

“Oh, sure, why not?” Hutch answered, contented with the idea of spending his day off with his friend “And later we could drop by Huggy’s to have lunch. My treat.”

 

“Hey, that sounds great! And after lunch we could go to the movies and watch something scary.” Starsky answered, glowing in anticipation like a kid.

 

“Yeah, any of those awful movies you like so much…something creepy and bloody enough even to make us throw our lunch up, right? Hutch teased while parking his car in the precinct parking lot.

 

“Know something Officer Hutchinson?” Starsky asked in mock seriousness, as they got out of the car “I really haven’t idea of why in earth I keep sticking with somebody as rude as you.”

 

“Let me guess…Maybe ´cause tomorrow I’m buying a huge lunch for you? A double cheeseburger with extra of fries, plus a couple of beers and a large chocolate shake?”

 

“And a portion of chocolate pie covered in whipped cream, Blondie; don’t forget the pie.” The curly-headed man pointed out as he and Hutch headed for their patrol car.

 

“I really wonder how long you’ll take to put on 400 pounds of weight, like some Sumo wrestler, Starsk.”

 

“Ha-ha. You’ll don't get to see an ounce of fat on this splendid body of mine, Blondie, you know it, and that’s eating you up.” Starsky stated jokingly, patting his flat abdomen as they climbed into the black and white to start their shift.

 

That’s how their friendship grew. With lots of happy comradeship, playful banters and sincere concern for the safety and welfare of each other, unyielding mutual trust and on top of that, the joy of being together on and off work.

 

~o0o~

 

Next morning, since his partner’s car was still in Merle’s garage, where the skilful mechanic was working to fix the engine, Hutch went again to pick Starsky up at his place. Out of his police uniform and dressed in his own clothes; a black turtleneck, tanned leather jacket and black corduroy pants, Hutch looked handsome enough to be a movie star or maybe a famous singer, rather than a police officer.

 

On the other hand, Starsky’s taste in clothes was much more casual; That morning he wore a pair of crummy jeans, blue sneakers, thick knitted sweater and a black wool cap that covered his short curls. Clothes that somehow would fit perfectly with his manly and attractive physical appearance. 

 

After a short while driving, they arrived at Mason’s Cars. Once there and after asking Starsky what kind of car was he looking for, the car dealer started showing them several cars that were parked in tidy rows in the lot. Then suddenly, Starsky left his partner alone with the salesman and strode with determination inside the store.

 

“Hey Hutch! Come here; look at this!” Starsky called out. Hutch and the salesman headed into the showroom to see him looking in admiration at one Ford Gran Torino painted in a shinning red.

 

“Oh my… it's just… beautiful.” The brunet mumbled to himself, as if he was the only one in the large showroom.

 

“It's just the kind of car you like, huh, buddy?” Hutch asked as he approached to have a closer look at the Torino and upon reaching his friend’s side, rested a hand on Starsky’s shoulder.

 

Truth be told, the blond didn’t much like that Torino, with its glaring red colour. For him, a car like that didn’t match his idea of going unnoticed through the streets of the city. If they’re going to be plainclothes detectives in a near future, driving such a sore thumb on wheels wasn’t maybe the wisest thing to do.

 

However, Hutch was already used to what he referred to as Starsky’s awful taste. He thought that his partner had really an appalling liking for things like greasy and spiced food, worn out clothes or plainly bad B-movies. And he didn’t see why, regarding cars it would be any different. Yet the more refined blond couldn’t help himself, bad taste and all, he simply loved Starsky. 

 

“I’m very sorry young man” The car dealer said to Starsky, taking both men out of their thoughts “But I’m afraid that this exceptional car is too expensive for you; it’s price is $4,461 dollars and, well, as you know, unfortunately, some luxuries are beyond of the reach of some people, I guess.” he stated in a poorly hidden tone of disdain.

 

Not liking at all, the arrogant tone in which the older man had just spoken to his friend and before Starsky had time to come back with any answer, Hutch stepped closer to the seller, staring into his eyes.

 

“Excuse my ignorance, sir, but would you care to tell me what you mean by ‘some people’ please?” He asked in that velvety tone that, as Starsky had got to learn in the last months, he used before letting his Viking temper to take over him.

 

“Oh, well… I’m very sorry, gentleman, I didn’t mean to seem rude… it’s just that…” The man stuttered, seeing clearly the anger boiling up in those blue eyes just a few inches away from his. “Is just that since… since your friend told me that he was looking for an-”

 

“It's okay, pal; don't sweat” Starsky interrupted, going into his best ‘streetwise’ mode “We know perfectly what you mean, however, you wanna a tip? Huh? You start working hard to improve your good manners towards your clients or this year you aren’t getting the ‘Dealer of the Year Award’ that’s for sure…Come on Hutch, that guy isn’t worth to get ourselves into a mess… Have a nice day” Winking an eye at the open-mouthed man and patting his cheek, Starsky headed outside with Hutch in tow.

 

“Fuck, what a jerk!” The blond one snapped after getting into the car, angrily hitting the steering wheel.

 

“Well, looks like you were right after all.” Starsky said looking down at his crummy jeans.

 

“Right? Right about what Starsk?” Hutch asked.

 

“You know, my outfit…it looks like the guy thought that I am a homeless, or something.” The curly-headed man said, sounding like a sorry child.

 

Hutch chuckled despite himself. “Well, one thing is sure, partner. You’re going to be a fine plainclothes detective some day.” He teased in an effort to lighten his friend’s spirits “I mean, who in his right mind and after seeing you dressed in those clothes would possibly be able to guess that you’re no more and no less than a police officer?”

 

“Yeah… A police officer that maybe, some day, will have to put his ass on the line to save that guy’s life… what a joke, man!”

 

“Oh, who knows?” Hutch replied. “Maybe what we have to do some day isn’t save his life but bust that guy, who, if you ask me, is nothing but an asshole, anyway.”

 

“Yeah, you’ve got a point there. He’s just an ill-mannered asshole. Nevertheless he’s right on the main question. Some luxuries aren’t for everybody. And the price of that car is more than I can pay actually; so, let’s forget the matter.” Starsky said with sadness.

 

“I’m sorry Starsk.” Hutch went serious. “I know how much you liked that car… though you know; I don’t have much in my savings either but maybe it...”

 

“No Hutch.” Starsky broke in his friend’s words “I can’t accept it, you know that. Now let’s forget that car and that moron too, okay? We can look for another car dealer. There are plenty of them in this city.”

 

“Good idea, but now how about a beer? Huh? I’m thirsty.” Hutch offered, changing the subject.

 

“Okay buddy, let’s get that beer.” 

 

They spent the rest of the day together, drinking a few beers and having lunch. Later both young men would go to watch a movie, to end at the evening playing a few games of pool before heading to Hutch’s place to share a couple of pizzas and made themselves comfortable on the couch, ready to watch a ball game on the tube, with a huge popcorn bowl sitting between them.

 

Next day, Merle had managed to fix Starsky’s old Chevy once more, though with a clear warning to the curly boy on that he was doing nothing but wasting his money on those repairs and that the best thing he could do was to get a new car. However, and since there were seven days of work in a row lying ahead, Starsky and Hutch would be too busy how to think in the car’s matter for a while.

 

What they couldn’t guess yet was that one of those days was about to end in near tragedy…

 

~o0o~

 

That morning, both young officers were patrolling their beat, when they saw Rudy, a well-known children molester.  The man was walking with a couple of young kids, who weren’t older than twelve and he was holding a comic magazine out for them.

 

“Starsk…” Hutch said aiming with his chin at the little group.

 

“Yeah…isn’t that scum supposed to be behind bars, by the way?” Starsky asked already pulling a sharp stop.

 

“Nope; he’s on parole, but maybe we should ask the guy why he’s going around with those kids, don't you think?” Hutch said as they both climbed out of the patrol car.

 

“Sure, is always nice to have a while of friendly chat with an old friend.” Starsky mocked as he and Hutch were already shortening the distance among them and Rudy. The man noticed them right off and shoved the children away. He broke into a run, followed along by both officers until he reached the entrance of an old apartment building.

 

I´LL GO BY THE FIRE ESCAPE, JUST IN CASE THE BIRD WANTS TO FLY!” Starsky shouted out at Hutch, drawing his gun, while the blond one rushed upstairs to the front entrance, gun in hand as well.

 

Soon the man was running through the fourth floor hall with Hutch a few feet behind him. Rudy quickly opened one of the doors and got inside his apartment, slamming the door shut behind him.

 

"Rudy?" Hutch called out, knocking at the door.  The only noise coming from inside was a loud sounding TV set.

 

"Rudy, it's the police.  Open the door." But the man didn’t do it.

 

"Rudy, open the door now!” Hutch hollered one more time, still getting no response. 

 

"Rudy? Rudy listen, you’re doing nothing but getting yourself into trouble!” Hutch waited a few seconds before speaking again “Okay, guy! I’m coming in there!" Then the blond stepped back and kicked the door.  The second kick made it to fly open and Hutch stormed inside.

 

“D-don’t shoot at me… please, officer… I’m… I’m unarmed!” Rudy said in a shaking voice and raising his hands in surrender gesture.

 

“Okay, Rudy. Now just hold your hands out where I can see them.” Hutch demanded approaching to the older man wile producing his cuffs.

 

“I’m on parole, officer and I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Honest.”

 

“Yeah, sure, nothing wrong… But then, just tell me, why the hell did you flee-”

 

Hutch didn’t have any chance to end his question when he noticed that Rudy’s eyes were looking past him. Then, in a matter of seconds, all the hell broke loose. While spinning in his heels, aiming blindly at the unseeing threat at his back, Hutch heard Starsky yell out.

 

“FREEZE! POLICE!”

 

Then Starsky stormed inside the apartment through the window, rushing over Hutch and knocking him to the floor.

 

Hutch heard two gunshots. As he got to his feet, he saw that there were two bodies lying very still on the floor. One of them was the mortally injured Mrs. Stephen, Rudy’s mother.  She was bleeding from a hole in her chest, still holding a gun in her limp hand.  The other body was Starsky.  He was hopefully just unconscious, but from his stillness, he could possibly be dead.

 

“STARSK!!” In one quick motion, Hutch reached out for Rudy and cuffed him to the leg of the commode.  He was deaf to the man´s shouts and cries for his mother.  Then the blond rushed to Starsky and he felt the breath leaving his lungs at the sight of the blood dampening his friend’s curls, sliding down his temple in a thin wet thread.

 

Oh, no…Nonono...God…Let him to be okay, please…please! While begging silently, Hutch kneeled down by Starsky’s side looking for a pulse in his neck.  He found it a little fast, yet steady. Sighing in relief he grabbed his radio and called for help.  Then Hutch reached his hand out, looking for any sign of life in the woman’s neck and found none.  He then returned his whole attention to his partner.

 

“Hu-Hutch?” Starsky said as his eyes fluttered open.

 

“Yeah, buddy. Right here” Hutch said softly, fingering gently Starsky’s curls. “Don't talk Starsk, just take it easy. Help is on the way.”

 

“Is… is she d-dead?” Starsky asked, trying to crane his neck to look at the woman.

 

Hutch nodded. “I’m sorry buddy.”

 

“I didn’t have a-any choice. I t-tried to stop her,” The brunet said in a thread of voice. “S-she…she was a-about to shoot y-ya.”

 

“I know Starsk, I know. You couldn’t do anything but shoot her…You saved my life there. Thanks buddy.” Hutch said as his heart went out to his sorrowful partner.

 

“What are p-partners for?” Starsky’s lips curled in a weak smile that quickly turned in a wince.

 

“Shhh, it’s okay Stark, don't talk.” Hutch reached out to pick up a cushion and a ragged afghan from the couch to keep his friend warm and as comfortable as possible. Then he dug in his pants` pocket, producing his handkerchief and gently pressing it against Starsky’s injured head.

 

“It’s just a graze, partner. The bullet only scratched that tough skull of yours. In a few days you’ll feel better than new.” Hutch assured Starsky.

 

“B-bullet? You…You mean... I-I got s-shot?” Starsky asked, swallowing dryly and growing even paler, if that was possible.

 

“´Fraid so, buddy. But you were very lucky this time.” Hutch said smiling sympathetically at his fallen friend.

 

“Aw! Shit… I n-never got shot...And I don't like it…h-hurts” Starsky whined sounding like a hurt kid. He slid back into unconsciousness, as the sound of sirens grew closer.

 

~o0o~

 

Hutch was shifting uncomfortably in the plastic chair by Starsky’s bedside. He was right and his partner had been truly lucky that time.  Starsky only needed some stitches and after one night at the hospital, next day he would we able to go back home.  A couple of days of headaches, along a temporary little bald patch where the head was shaved to stitch his wound and a week of sick leave would be the only aftermath of his first injury in the line of duty.

 

While keeping watch over his sleeping friend, Hutch still felt scared as he thought how much worse things could have been. He shivered at the thought that, right at that moment he could have been not watching Starsky’s peaceful sleep, but mourning him instead. And that thought was far more than he could bear, especially since his friend was in that hospital’s bed for protecting him with his own life. Starsky was there for taking a bullet meant for him. And that was so much more than anyone had ever done for him before. 

 

It was then when Hutch knew what he wanted to do…No, rather, what he needed to do.

 

~o0o~

 

 

The rest of the night went uneventful, despite Starsky’s increasing bad mood. After one night in which the nurses kept awakening him at regular intervals to check on any possible symptom of concussion ´Just to bother me with the dumbest questions that nobody in his right mind could picture´ as Starsky did put it, the temperamental young man was tired and especially wired.

 

As expected, in the morning, he was discharged from the hospital, but the friend that Hutch took home wasn’t the joyful and talkative young man he was used to, but one much gloomier and silent.

 

“Hey Starsk…You okay?” Hutch asked concerned as he drove to Starsky’s place

 

“Huh?” The brunet answered absentmindedly, turning his head from staring out the car window to look at Hutch.

 

“What’s bothering you buddy? Does your head hurt?”

 

“Oh, well, a little, no big deal though. I’m okay, Hutch.” Starsky said, returning to stare out the window.

 

“No Starsk. You’re not okay…Talk to me, partner. What’s the matter?” Hutch pressed further, though already knowing the answer. Starsky wasn’t good in putting his feelings into words, though it didn’t matter to the blond one, because along the last few months, he had become able to read all the storms that waved his friend’s soul and he did it just by looking into the brunet’s eyes. Those intense eyes now darkened by sorrow.

 

“Is that woman, Rudy’s mother, isn’t?” he asked.

 

“Damn! Of course it’s that woman!” Starsky burst out “I had to shoot her, and... Well, you know; she…well, she was a woman, an older one. And now, I feel…I just feel like crap, Hutch.” Starsky stated plainly

 

“Do you remember Hopkins, Starsk?” Hutch asked softly.

 

“Who?” Starsky asked back, digging for a moment in his mind, looking for the memory...“Oh, yeah, sure, Hopkins, the Academy’s shrink”

 

“That’s right. He already warned us about what you’re going through right now, Starsky; you know, the first time; the first perp, which sooner or later we’d have to shoot down.”

 

“Yeah, however he never told us that that first one would be a grey-haired woman wearing an apron, curlers and slippers. A sweet mommy type who happened to be playing Calamity Jane instead of sitting on her couch watching soap operas while knitting a sweater.” A wry smile curled Starsky’s lips as he said it.

 

“Well, as I see it, that lady was pretty far from any ‘sweet mommy’ Starsk.” Hutch said as Starsky stared out at the road ahead them.

 

“Besides, you know, partner.” Hutch added as they were arriving to Starsky’s apartment. “As Hopkins used to say ´Those things are what real life is made of ´”

 

“So, wanna know what I think, pal?” Starsky retorted. “Real life sucks.”

 

“Once more, you’re right Starsk” Hutch said nodding thoughtfully. “Real life sucks.”

 

The curled-haired boy went through a hard time until coming to terms with what had happened in Rudy Stephen’s apartment. However, as days went by, Starsky, with Hutch’s support, managed to grasp that, as sad as it was, things couldn’t have been different.

 

On the other hand, soon he was cleared to come back to full duty, so both men kept on with their lives and work. Though at the same time, and behind Starsky’s back, Hutch was carefully planning something…

 

The first sign of the plan was his missing TV set, gone from the TV table. The next sign was his hi-fi equipment and his records, which were no longer resting in their usual shelves. As no longer was in one drawer of Hutch´s dresser the expensive gold’s wristwatch that his father gave him when he had reached his majority…

 

 

~o0o~

 

 

“Hum…can we have a talk, Huggy?” Hutch asked that evening to the bar owner as he stepped up to the bar where the lanky man was serving drinks to a few of the patrons that crowded his establishment.

 

“Hey, my blond bro! Welcome to my humble house!” Huggy greeted “Where’s curly, by the way? Maybe he’s taking out to dinner any of those beautiful ladies he likes to date?”

 

“Oh…no, no, in fact he’s, well, he’s alone, at home.” Hutch said clearing his throat and feeling oddly uncomfortable, as if he was doing something wrong at his friend’s back.

 

“God forbid! Alone and at home! I can believe it!!” Huggy raised his hands theatrically up “One half of the duo leaving behind the other half?...What’s the matter, uh? Maybe you get mad at each other because you both picked the same chick to date?”

 

“Listen Huggy, can I ask you for a favour?” Hutch asked, by passing Huggy’s question, while looking uneasily around, afraid of seeing his partner peeking behind his back any moment. “But first you must give me your promise on that you’ll keep Starsky out of this, okay?”

 

“Starsky out of this?” Huggy asked scratching his jaw “Out of what, Hutch?... Know something, bro? I’m not sure if I like how this sounds.”

 

“It’s not what it seems, Huggy, honest. But I really could use your help here, and Starsky must keep away from this… please?” Hutch begged.

 

“Okay, okay.” The black man gave up “Spill it… What’s the matter?” he asked ready to hear what favour Hutch needed of him. But as his friend was talking, Huggy’s eyes grew wide open in utter incredulity.

 

“Did you know for a chance any place where I could make some extra money, Huggy?” Hutch asked him “I don't know, maybe I could work in a restaurant, in the kitchen or serving meals? Or singing and playing my guitar in a bar or something…?”

 

~o0o~

 

As more days went by, the more certain Starsky was that Hutch was hiding something from him.

 

The last weeks and despite his many offers to spend time together at the beach, the park, or at each other’s place, like they used to do during most of their time off, the blond one kept refusing again and again to go anywhere with his partner.

 

And even worse, somehow Hutch always would manage to come up with some pretext to keep Starsky away from his apartment. Besides, most of times, he wasn´t at home when Starsky would phone him. On the other hand, the blond one was looking pale and tired, with dark circles permanently showing under his eyes.

 

That night, like it had been happening for weeks, Starsky was alone and bored in his apartment, sitting in his couch and running distractedly through the TV channels with the remote, while sipping a beer. His mind though was far away. Very far from the TV’s screen images.

 

Damn, Hutch! Did I do something wrong? What’s going on, buddy? Why you don't wanna be with me any more? Starsky thought gloomily while searching in his mind for something that he could possibly have done to; unintentionally make Hutch mad at him. But as far as he could recall, nothing had occurred. As a matter of fact Starsky was positive that Hutch didn’t seem to be upset or angry at him during the time that they’d spend together at work.

 

Nonetheless, the plain truth was that lately, those were the only moments that Hutch would spend with Starsky, and that began to sadden the young man. In fact and since he had begun to notice the strange change in Hutch’s behaviour, the brunet didn’t even feel like doing all those things he used to enjoy. Even his search for a new car wasn’t appealing him any more these days. So as long as his old Chevrolet was still on the road, the matter could wait.

 

Yeah…I know what’s going on…Starsky kept musing, letting himself to be carried on a wave of self-pity I make him to feel embarrassed…after all, what can have in common a streetwise, poor devil from Brooklyn and a well-off, college-educated polite guy from Minnesota actually?…Not much, you bet…Oh come on Davey! Starsky chided himself. That’s bullshit, and you know it, Hutch isn’t that kinda stuck-up guy…Something else’s happening to him. I don't know, maybe he’s…Oh…God! Can he possibly be sick?…Seriously sick? Shaking his head as if to banish that upsetting thought away, Starsky got to his feet. He knew that he had to find out what was happening with Hutch. And he had to do it at that very moment, for his own peace of mind.

 

Without further thought, Starsky turned off his TV set and grabbing his holster, gun and jacket he headed to his car.

 

~o0o~

 

 

 “Ladies and Gentlemen!” The show presenter announced, trotting cheerily to the center of the little stage, with a wide smile plastered on his face, as one bright beam of light focused on him “One more night and coming directly from Las Vegas, Cimarron Country Bar has the big pleasure of introduce to all of you our great star THE MASKED COWBOY!!”

 

The public clapped enthusiastically as Hutch, entered the stage, guitar in hand and sat in one stool placed behind the microphone.

 

He was dressed in white pants studded with rhinestones and multicoloured spangles; fuchsia sateen t-shirt with frills in chest and cuffs, far-west-style white bow tie, besides vest and cowboy hat, both equally in white and studded with spangles too, to end his attire with a pair of white boots. He also was wearing a white mask covering his eyes. That was the only condition he’d put when the owners of the country bar had hired him to sing six nights at week, and the public, especially the ladies seemed to find it very intriguing, mysterious and exciting, though Hutch only wore that mask to prevent any acquaintance, co-worker or even worse, any perp from recognizing him.

 

Having greeted his public with a few words, the blond one began to play his guitar and sing, with his beautiful, melodic voice. The first song was Take me home Country roads. Later would come Ruby, don't take your love to town and the rest of his usual repertoire of country songs he sang every night for almost two hours, with just a few breaks to have a soft drink or a glass of water, while the bar patrons drank their drinks, chatted and ate their dinners.

 

After several weeks of spending all his time working in the streets or the precinct, singing at nights and working in the kitchen of the country bar on his days off, Hutch was just exhausted. Besides, in those ridiculous clothes, with all those shinning spangles and frills here and there, he felt weird beyond words, rather like he was a living Christmas tree or a multicoloured cauliflower with legs.

 

Luckily for him though, those were his last days of work in the bar and soon things would go back to normal.  It would go back to normal because with the money that he had gotten by selling his stuff, using part of his savings and his weekly pay from Cimarron bar, he had accumulated a substantial down payment for the car that Huggy had helped him to find.  That was found at a dealership on the other side of the city, and the car was of course, one bright red Ford Gran Torino, just like the first one that Starsky had fallen in love with at Mason’s cars dealership.

 

Next week, Hutch would plan a little white lie, to make his partner believe that the car was cheaper that it actually was.  By doing that and with the saving that Starsky already had, he would be able to afford to get his dream’s car.

 

~o0o~

 

 

Starsky wanted to push the gas pedal and zip through red lights and exceed the speed limits, but since there was nothing to be worried about, he drove fast, yet carefully towards Hutch’s place. Once there, he bounced up the stairs two at time and rang the doorbell.  Hutch didn’t open the door.

 

“Hutch?” Starsky called out, knocking at the door “Hutch, are you at home, partner?” No answer. Raising his arm, he slid his hand over the top of the doorframe looking for the spare key that he knew Hutch had there. Once he found it, Starsky unlocked the door and let himself into the apartment. Reaching for the light switch to light up the corridor, he headed to the living room.  He was willing to wait there, as long as needed for his friend’s return.  His mind was made up.  He was going to solve whatever problem now stood between them and nothing was going to stop him from having a talk with Hutch that night.

 

Starsky turned on the living room lights and was shocked at what he found there. Hutch’s TV set wasn’t on the TV table, his hi-fi equipment was missing as well and none of his records were anywhere at sight.

 

“Oh my…” Starsky mumbled under his breath as all his cop senses kicked in. Drawing his gun from his holster, he checked out the whole apartment, to make sure that nobody was in there, and that his partner wasn’t anywhere maybe unconscious or hurt. Then Starsky headed back to Hutch’s bedroom. He knew that carefully stored away in a drawer, his friend had a gold wristwatch. Once there and with the help of his handkerchief, to preserve any possible fingerprints, he dragged the dresser’s upper drawer open, and rummaged through its contents. As he already feared, the wristwatch wasn’t in that drawer, neither in any other place for all that matter.  No doubt. Though neither the front door nor any window was forced, somebody had burgled Hutch’s apartment!

 

Starsky strode to the phone, picked up the receiver and dialled the ninth precinct’s number. A short while later, Williams and Martin, two middle-aged and pretty standoffish plainclothes detectives from robbery, besides two guys from the crime lab were at Hutch’s doorstep.

 

“Come on in, guys.” Starsky said opening the front door “Looks like somebody got into Hutch’s place. A few of his personal belongings are missing. One of those items is a pretty expensive gold wristwatch. Hopefully you can find fingerprints somewhere. I was careful of not rubbing any of them out.” He explained fretfully to the detectives as all three headed to the living room while the lab boys began to dust for fingerprints all around the apartment.

 

“Okay kid. Take it easy, will you?” Williams scolded icily. “We know perfectly well why we are here. And I don't think that we need any help from a newbie to do our jobs. Now sit down, shut up and leave this in our hands.” 

 

“Hey, Williams! What’s the matter with you, anyway?” Starsky asked defiantly, clenching his jaw. “You´re right, pal; I am just a newbie, but wanna know what you are, huh? Wanna know it?”

 

“Starsky…” Williams advised in low tone, raising his forefinger.

 

“A pretentious jerk Williams, that’s what you are, a damn preten- ” The sound of the front door being opened, cut short Starsky’s tirade and the climbing tension in the living room as five pair of eyes turned to look fixedly at the new comer.

 

“Hutch?”  Starsky asked; brows rose in astonishment at the sight of his friend wearing such flamboyant clothes that most likely only Huggy would’ve liked them.  But never; not even in his wildest dreams could Starsky have pictured his partner dressed in such a colourful fashion.

 

For a few seconds all the men in the living room stared open-mouthed at the fuchsia t-shirt, the glittering vest and pants all covered in rhinestones and spangles, the white cowboy boots with metallic toecaps.

 

“Hey Hutchinson, kid!” Williams mocked “That’s which you call go undercover? Or maybe there’s a belated Halloween party somewhere?”

 

“What the hell is going on here?” Hutch snapped looking at the little group of people gathered in his living room “Are you okay Starsk?”

 

“Uh…oh, yeah, sure, I’m okay Hutch, but-”

 

“Somebody burgled your apartment, Hutchinson.” Martin ended Starsky’s explanations.

 

“Somebody…WHAT?” Hutch asked plopping on his couch.

 

“Your TV set, Blondie. The hi-fi equipment; your records…Even your gold wristwatch.” Starsky said gloomily.

 

“My TV set…My gold wristwatch?” Then Starsky as well as the detectives and lab team stared in utter puzzlement as the blond burst out into noisy laughs.

 

“I-I’m very sorry guys…” More laughs “I’m real sorry, but nobody has robbed me.” Hutch dissolved once more into guffaws as Starsky’s brow deepened.

 

“Would you mind telling us what means this, Hutchinson?” Williams asked impatiently “Nobody has robbed you all that stuff?”

 

“Listen Williams, I know that this isn’t too easy to explain, but believe me.” Hutch said while trying to stop laughing “Nobody has burgled here. I know what happened with my stuff.”

 

Williams and Martin exchanged looks before the first one said “Okay Hutchinson. I haven’t idea on what this mumbo-jumbo means, nonetheless and in view of the fact that you know where your damn belongings are, I guess that their whereabouts is none of our business. However let me warn you that maybe Captain Goldwin will want have a few words with you both in the morning; especially with you, Starsky, since you were the one who called us.” Williams said staring intently in Starsky’s eyes.

 

“Sure Williams. It’ll be a pleasure to have that talk with Goldwin.” Starsky answered cockily staring back in Williams´ eyes, until the older man turned in his heels towards the doorway with his partner a couple of steps behind.

 

“Come on, gentlemen. We’re done here.” He said to the lab men before all four stepped silently out of Hutch’s house, slamming the door at their backs.

 

“Pompous bastard!” Starsky said through gritted teeth. Then forgetting Williams, he turned back to look at Hutch. There were a few explanations that he’d wanted to hear. 

 

“Well?” He asked sitting on the coffee table across from Hutch.

 

“Well what?” Hutch asked back as he tried to think of a way to get off the hook

 

“Don’t play dumb with me buddy. It doesn’t suit you.” Starsky warned “Don’t you think that there are a few things that you could tell me about?”

 

“That’s exactly which I could say, Starsky. I come from…” Hutch trailed off hopping that Starsky wouldn't notice his slip “I come home just to find that looks like a police convention was taking place in my living room with half of the precinct messing around in here. Then it turns out that they are here ´cause you called them because you thought that somebody had broken into my apartment and still you think that you don’t owe me an explanation?”

 

“I was worried, Hutch, damn!” Starsky said candidly “Correction; I am worried! Worried ´cause you don't wanna hang out with me anymore ‘cause lately you don’t even want me to come over here.  On top of that for the past several weeks, you look like hell partner! And then, when finally I make my mind and I come over here to have a long due talk with you, I just find out that a lot of your stuff is missing.  What do you wanted me to do? Huh? Just wait for you, sit on your couch, drinking a beer and then once you’d return home, break the news to you?  Hi partner! Guess what? Somebody has burgled you!”

 

“It has a rational explanation Starsk… It's just that I don't know how to start.” Hutch said discouraged. If nothing prevented it, he was about to really screw up his surprise.

 

“What´s going on here, Hutch? Are you in trouble?...sick maybe?” That last question was asked with such utter concern, that Hutch felt the need to pull Starsky into a bear hug, though he didn’t it, afraid of increase his partner’s worry.

 

“Okay Starsk. Let make things clear.” Hutch answered after clearing his throat “Firstly, I’m not sick.”

 

“You sure?” Starsky asked worriedly.

 

“Honest Starsk. I’m totally healthy, just a little tired, that’s all. And no, I’m not in any trouble. Is just that after getting off our shift, I’ve been pretty busy these last weeks; that’s why I haven’t had time to go anywhere with you.”

 

“Busy? Busy doing what, Blondie… posing as manikin in a fancy dress store?” Starsky asked ironically looking at his friend from top to toe.  “And by the way, talking about weird things,” The brunet added, “where the heck is your stuff? As you told to that asshole Williams, you know what happened to it, right?”

 

“Okay Starsk. Looks like you caught me red-handed here.” Hutch said after breathing deeply “I tell you everything. But you must make me a promise. And don’t break it, deal?”

 

“What promise?” Starsky asked feeling at a complete loss.

 

“You must promise me that you’ll don’t refuse whatever I´ll give you. No matter what you think. You’ll just have to accept it.”

 

“You’re sure that there’s no reason to be worried Hutch?” Starsky asked, now confused beyond thought.

 

“Deal, Starsk?” Hutch asked obstinately.

 

“Okay, okay. Deal; I promise you…damn! I haven’t the smallest fucking idea of what I’m promising you, but I promise anyway.” Starsky said as he nervously scratched his head.

 

“I sold my stuff Starsky. The TV set, the hi-fi equipment, the records and even the gold wristwatch. All of that. And this” Hutch pointed at his odd clothes. “Well, let’s say that this is the uniform of my second job… as singer at the Cimarron Country Bar.”

 

“Singer in… But…WHY???” Starsky asked in high-pitched voice.

 

“To put a down payment on this.” Hutch fumbled through a pile of magazines and old newspapers that set on his coffee table, until he picked up a cars magazine and showed Starsky a large picture of a Ford Gran Torino.

 

“Oh man… It’s a real beauty,” Starsky said as his eyes twinkled. “However I thought that you loved your garbage heap and besides, if I remember correctly that one isn’t your favourite kind of car,” he pointed out.

 

“Well I think that I’ll come to hate that thing, actually” Hutch joked “But it doesn’t matter, Starsk, ´cause it’s not going to be my car, but yours.”

 

“My…? Oh, no. No Hutch, no way.” Starsky said, as realization hit him, jumping to his feet and shaking his head.

 

“You made me a promise Starsk, remember?” Hutch said as he stood in front of his partner.

 

“That was a trick! A pretty dirty one! How could I guess that-” Starsky tried to argue, but his partner cut him off.

 

“I didn’t pay all the money, partner. Just a down payment. You should be able to afford to pay off the rest of that car. But I guess that you’re rich enough to do it.” Hutch teased gently.

 

“You… you sold… a lot of things.” The curled haired man said still taken aback.

 

“Oh, well, you know. I wasn’t using too much that stuff.” Hutch waved nonchalantly his hand.

 

“Your father wristwatch.” Starsky pointed out in chocked voice

 

“The reason was worth it, Starsk.” Hutch replied steadily.

 

“And you…you.” Starsky’s eyes wandered from his partner’s t-shirt to his boots and back to his t-shirt again.

 

“Yeah, for almost two months I’d wear this ridiculous costume and an even more ridiculous mask to sing for a bunch of people, all the while hoping that no one we knew would be among them.  I wouldn’t be able to live if Williams and Martin had seen me; or those two guys from I. A., Simonetti and Dryder, or even worse, that huge, grumpy captain from the homicides division … what’s his name? Dobey?”

 

In picturing that possibility, both young men bursted out laughing, just like two kids.

 

“So…You’re accepting my little present, I guess?” Hutch asked once they had stopped laughing.

 

“Do I have any other choice?”

 

“After all that I had to go through for you? Nope.” Hutch answered in mock seriousness.

 

“Aw partner!...I don't know what to say. How I´m going to repay you for this?”

 

“Well, maybe you could buy me one dinner in any stylish, awfully expensive restaurant. That would be real nice from you.” The blond teased.

 

“Hey! By the way, Hutch, I got an idea” Starsky said all of sudden; his mind wholly back in the car. “How about adding a little custom paint job to the car? Merle would do it just fine. And I think that something like a wide white strip from side to side; going over the doors and roof would turn that beauty into the neatest car in the whole city” The brunet explained moving widely his arms, trying to describe how he was already picturing the Torino with the white stripe on it.

 

“A white stripe?” Hutch rolled his eyes “Come on Starsk! That idea stinks! If we’re driving around in a stripped tomato on wheels, we’d never be able to go unnoticed in the streets... Actually, even without the stripe, it’ll be difficult enough.”

 

“Look it this way Hutch.” Starsky said enthusiastically “If the bad guys know that we are around, they’ll be careful of not breaking the rules.”

 

“Yeah… And we’ll lose our work.”

 

“I can almost see it…” Starsky looked back at the picture “A bright red Ford Gran Torino… with one white stripe on it. It’ll look wonderful.”

 

“Sure Starsk, just wonderful” Oh God, I’ve created a monster Hutch thought as he struggled to keep a smile on his face.

 

“Know something Blondie?” Starsky asked going suddenly serious.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“You know how much I hate soapy scenes, but I´t doesn´t matter now...´cause I wanna let you know that you’re my best friend. The best friend I’ve got in the whole world…and I love you.”

 

“I love you too, partner.” Hutch answered.

 

Maybe that wasn’t the most usual thing to say to another man, but they didn’t care, they just wanted to say it. They both wanted also, to pull the other into a tight hug, and they knew that the bravest people are never afraid to show their feelings, so both men, enjoying the gift of their growing friendship, did just that, which their hearts were asking for. They embraced each other in a heart-warming, strong hug.

 

Next day they would go to the car dealership to get the Torino. From then on, Starsky would be the proud owner of a car, which for him, would mean so much more than that. It was the proof that he had been graced with the gift of the most sincere, genuine friendship.

 

Starsky and Hutch were just at the beginning of their path together, with many years and moments, both happy and sad waiting for them. But the seed of which their lives had to be was already sown. Giving it time, they would become plainclothes detectives and living legends, the best team in the ninth precinct. They would get higher salaries and better material possessions. But what they could never have was more love and friendship than they already had for each other.

 

It just wasn’t possible.

 

THE END

                                                        

 

 

Back To: STORIES INDEX