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DANGEROUS PAST

 

By Elisa Valero and Cristina Pereira

 

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.

 

This story is for Marcy, who was kind enough to bid for it on the S&H charity auction. Thank you, we were very glad and honored writing this for you, and we hope you´ll like it.

 

All our gratitude to Tonya Dotson for all her help to make this story better.

 

 

The apartment was almost in shadows. The only light came from a little bulb hanging on the ceiling. The only window was half-opened and did not help to let some fresh air into that suffocating prison wrongly called a room.  Outside a heavy storm was tearing through the city’s night sky. It was cold. Cold as his heart. Cold as his lonely world and his green eyes.

 

Surrounded by mounds of food and beer cans that had piled up in a corner of the dark and dirty room, Jerome Walters, lie in bed. In his mid thirties, his appearance didn’t help him. He wore old and dirty clothes. His red head was a contrast to his pale skin. He seemed older than his 35 years. Jerome, Jerry, as everybody who was reading the newspaper would come to know him as. On the front page, pictures of two police officers.  Starsky’s & Hutch’s pictures.

 

Hutch…Kenneth Hutchinson. The best student in the academy…the best rookie of his class; one of the best detectives in his precinct…the best…the best…

 

Jerry threw the newspaper angrily, only to get out of bed and retrieve it a second later. He needed to read it...over and over, despite the fact that each one of the paragraphs were like a knife to his heart, flooding with anger and self-pity.

 

Valiant police detectives rescue a mother and her two-year-old child at the wharf

 

A mother, her child. A failed assault that turned into a new success in the career of the Sergeant Detective Kenneth Hutchinson...The woman, her son, and even the perp were saved from drowning in the ocean by him and Starsky when, for reasons unknown, the assailant lost control of the vehicle and it launched into the waters.

 

Hutchinson the hero...The newspaper called him and his partner “Courageous and valuable law defenders. Example of humanity against the crime in the streets. The news was full of compliments. As it always had been since the academy days. Compliments for Kenny and his inseparable partner. For Jerry though, just laughs, mocks, loneliness.

 

“Why? Damn it! Why was it so easy for Hutchinson?” Jerry fought hard, studied. Doing his best to become a good police officer, until finally, came the day he realized that his place wasn’t there, between the winners.  Not between the people happy with his life and work, but just on the other side, in the most somber corner of life where all the losers sheltered themselves.

 

He gave up. He deceived his family and himself, but he must face the reality that he hadn’t become a police officer. The dream was over.

 

Over the next years, Jerry’s life was just an endless sequence of misfortunes and failures. He got married but his wife left him just two years later. He got a job but lost it some time later. He had no children, no wife. He was totally and painfully alone. And over those years, his hate for the person he envied more than anybody in the whole world kept growing up. Quietly, silently, but unstoppable.

 

When he met Hutch in the academy, he hadn’t hated, but admired him, almost devotionally. Hutch’s marks were always excellent, his intuition, braveness and compassion for others would turn him into a great police officer. By then, Jerry did everything in his power to win the friendship of the blond cadet. Hutch was as polite to him as possible, but there just wasn’t a friendship between Jerome and himself, just a nice camaraderie. Soon, he could see, as well as the rest of the cadets did, that Hutch spent most of his time, both in their classes as well as their time off, with another boy with who apparently he had nothing in common.  A young New Yorker named, David Michael Starsky; Almost a kid with the eyes of a child, the smile of an imp, and the loyalty of a brother. The owner of the warmest heart Hutch would ever meet. A boy who was grew up in a background diametrically opposed to his, a modest background. Starsky´s family had no money to waste, and the curly haired boy didn´t know what luxuries were, but he knew better than no other what love meant. How to get it and how to give it. Plenty, unconditionally.

 

At first Hutch felt a little overwhelmed by the warm personality of Starsky: Temperamental. Always glad, enthusiastic, willing to share his sorrows, concerns and joys with that almost unknown and a little vain rich boy of Duluth.  Soon but, both cadets became inseparable, as the envy and hate in Jerry began to grow. The same envy and hate, that despite the years passed was still grafted to his heart as an idea kept growing in his mind. Kenneth Hutchinson did must die…and he, Jerome Walters, would take care of it.

 

The plan was already settled. On a table, some words from newspapers meticulously cut up and glued on a paper rested. Tomorrow it would arrive to the addressee…Tomorrow Hutchinson would start to live under the dominion of terror. And this terror would be in the form of a janitor at the 9th precinct.

 

"Now you will have to see me"

 

Finally, exhausted, Jerry fell asleep. Out there, thunder and lightning kept striking the   night sky.

 

***

 

Starsky parked his Torino and he and Hutch ran to the stairs to get shelter from the rain. Once in the squad room and while Starsky was already pouring himself a cup of coffee, Hutch found a message on his desk and read it in silence.

 

“Hey Hutch...What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Starsky asked holding out a steaming cup of coffee to Hutch.

 

“Um...? I think that Jane is really pissed partner,” Hutch answered, holding the note out for Starsky. On white paper, a message done by glued letters of different types and colors stated…

 

Your friend Starsky is nothing but a pig…jilting his lovely girlfriend was a nasty trick.

 

“Didn´t you tell me that Jane and you were ending your relationship in on friendly terms?” Hutch asked concernedly.

 

“Jane? Yeah. In fact, I already told you that she was the one who wanted to break it off. She told me that I´m a good guy, but I had to realize that we were having some problems. You know...We are too different, and in fact, I must admit that she was right. But we didn´t get angry with each other”

 

“Oh, come on Starsk. Stop kidding me. You both argued a lot.”

 

“Alright, we did argue a lot. We were pretty hot-headed, and we didn´t agree on many things, but that wouldn’t turn her into a psycho, I guess.”

 

“No, if she’s not the one who sent me this note…”

 

“My relationship with Jane is over Hutch, but honestly I can´t picture her doing something as dumb as this.”

 

At that moment Dobey came out of his office, arms crossed, staring at his detectives.

 

“I´m sorry to hear that your last ex-girlfriend is giving you troubles Starsky, however I think that your personal matters should wait until your free time. Now, how about working for a change? Huh?” Having his say, Dobey turned back to his office slamming his door.

 

Starsky looked at Hutch and with a shrug sat down at his desk grabbing a stack of reports before he spoke again.

 

“Really, Jane and I don´t got angry Hutch. I mean it.”

 

“Hey, partner…I believe you, honest. But if she isn’t writing this, then, who did it?” Hutch asked growing intrigued.

 

“I haven’t the slightest idea Blondie…Maybe some friend of her’s that got the wrong idea that I´m the bad one in this movie. I think I should call her later”

 

Hutch put the paper in a drawer and they began to do their paperwork, not paying any more attention to the note.

 

***

 

 

As every Friday night, “The Pits” was packed out with a lot of noisy patrons. It was difficult to find a free table, so, Starsky and Hutch took two stools at the bar, talking, drinking and looking around.

 

They played some pool. Hutch won all of them and had a good time mercilessly teasing his partner.  By the end of the night, they were almost the last ones to leave the bar. It was much needed fun time, especially for Starsky after Jane’s leaving; he was feeling a little down. He didn´t say anything to Hutch, but Hutch knew perfectly well how his friend was feeling.

 

“Mind If I crash in your couch tonight Hutch? Tomorrow, if the weather is better, we can fix some lunch and spend the day in the beach.”

 

“Sure Starsk. Are you okay?”

 

“Oh…Yeah, fine. It´s just that I feel a little too tired to drive.”…Plus, right now, I could use the company of my best friend. Starsky thought.

 

“It’s Jane, right? The matter still has you down.” Hutch knew. Of course, as he always did.

 

“Well, I think so…I know that we did the right thing, but despite that I still miss her… We had a great time in the beginning…Well, never mind. Let’s go home Hutch…”

 

Once at Hutch’s place, they spent a while talking quietly and sharing a couple of beers, enjoying their friendship much like the other times they had until both men began to yawn.

 

“How about calling it a night Starsk?...” Hutch spoke, getting to his feet and stretching his body lazily, “I don’t know about you, but I´m worn out.”

 

“Sure buddy. Go to bed.” Hutch went to his bedroom to get Starsky a pillow and blankets.

 

“Night, Hutch. If the rain stops in the morning, don´t forget the beach…”

 

“Okay. Good night partner.”

 

Hutch headed to his bedroom, and soon Venice place was silent as both men fell asleep.

 

The next morning a lot of heavy clouds were still covering the sky and a strong wind was blowing. Hutch was the first one to wake up as usual and feeling hungry, he headed to the kitchen to fix breakfast.

 

When he was fixing the orange juice, a loud clap of thunder startled him as the increasing patter of large drops began to pound the street. Hutch looked through the window, seeing the rain falling again.

 

“Shit! The newspaper!”  Hutch ran to the front door.  When he picked up the newspaper, he saw another message, the same white paper, the same colored letters….

 

He looked around the empty street, finding nobody in sight. As a sudden downpour began to fall, he closed the door, going back to the kitchen and reading the note.

 

“So, your beloved friend Starsky spends the night at your place?”

 

Jane?...No. I don´t think that she’d do that either….But WHO? Hutch thought, as an annoying alarm began to sound in the back of his mind.

 

“Mmmm...Morning Hutch.” Starsky entered the kitchen scratching his chest with one hand and his wild curls with the other.”

 

“I´m afraid the beach will have to wait” The brunet added looking out the window as he poured himself a cup of coffee before sitting down in a chair, while Hutch remained staring in the note.

 

“Hutch?...Hey Hutch. Something wrong?”

 

“Starsk… someone left another message at my door…I just opened the door to pick up the newspaper and the message was there.”

 

“Message….” Starsky, still drowsy didn’t seem to understand. “What message are you talking about…?”

 

“Do you remember the message on my desk yesterday…the one we thought couldn’t be written by Jane?”

 

“Oh, that message…did you get another one?”

 

“Yeah.” Hutch gave the note to Starsky who read it and frowned.

 

“Are you saying that somebody is watching me?”

 

 Hutch nodded. “Obviously, though I took a glance out there and there wasn’t anybody in sight.”

 

“Why? I mean… Why somebody would want to watch me?”

 

“I don’t know, but think Starsk…the first message was about the end of your relationship with Jane, right? How would someone know that if they were not watching you? Now… how did this person know that you were spending the night here?”

 

“Okay, okay. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out, you’re right and somebody is watching me…but why and who? I bet that we won’t find any clue or fingerprint on those messages….”

 

“Yeah…I thought about it too. Whoever is doing this wouldn’t be so stupid as to leave fingerprints.”

 

“However, we still have to send this and the other letters to the lab boys….what else can we do?”

 

Starsky got to his feet and headed to the bathroom wondering if somebody could be at that very moment watching them. Since he was apparently the target of that somebody, why was that person addressing the messages to Hutch and not to him?

 

Hutch was in his greenhouse when Starsky came out of the bathroom already dressed.

 

“Some day, I’ll come here only to find your bones on the floor…those things eat people alive you know…”

 

Hutch turned back smiling at his friend “Talking about food. I’ve fixed some breakfast. Help yourself partner”

 

“No thanks…these messages are making me lose my appetite…the same pattern. This is so strange Hutch….” Starsky said thoughtfully “I don’t understand why messages about me are being delivered to you. I didn’t receive anything about you. So, the joke is only about me…. I’m not too happy knowing that someone is watching me…. “

 

“I think that you must be especially careful until we can find out who is playing this sick game.”

 

“Okay Blondie. Let’s see Dobey and take these fucking letters to the lab.” Both men grabbed their jackets leaving out of the apartment.

 

***

 

“So, you find the first note on your desk yesterday morning, and the second one appeared this morning on you doorstep, right?” Dobey asked to Hutch.

 

“Yes Cap. On top of my newspaper”

 

“Any suspects?”

 

“I asked Starsky if, Jane, his ex-girlfriend could be related with it.” Starsky shook his head before he spoke.

 

“She wouldn’t do anything so stupid, I guess.”

 

“Okay, Starsky, but did you ask her about anyway?”

 

“I thought about it. But…”

 

“So, do it, son. Maybe we are worrying about something that is nothing but an infuriated girl’s tantrum. Meanwhile, the lab boys will analyze the letters to try and find any clue or fingerprint.” They were already standing as Dobey picked up the letters, now placed in a plastic lab bag.

 

***

 

“So, now I go to Jane’s place and say, hi Jane, are you the person who is writing the anonymous letters that Hutch is receiving?”  Starsky asked to Hutch.

 

“Well, partner, I’m sure you’ll find a more proper way to ask her about it.” Hutch said, placing a supportive hand on Starsky’s shoulder “But Dobey is right. We can't rule out any possible suspect.”

 

“Listen Hutch…That girl, Jane, is not a suspect. Already I told you…”

 

“I know, buddy, I know. Your relationship ended friendlily. However, you should ask her.”

 

“Okay. So let’s go ask her…after this, I´ll get one more fan, I guess.”

 

Once at Jane’s place, Hutch waited in the car as Starsky headed towards her door and rang the bell.

 

“Dave…What?...I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

 

“I guess so. Listen Jane, can we talk?”

 

“Talk?...Oh, sure, come in…” Starsky stepped nervously into Jane’s place, feeling that was about to make a sorry mistake.

 

“Have a seat, Dave. Do you want a coffee, a beer or something?”

 

“Oh no, thanks…In fact, I haven’t too much time…Look Jane…”

 

As he was asking Jane if she had something to do with the anonymous notes, he stared into her brown eyes wide with incredulity, Starsky felt increasingly stupid.

 

“Wait…wait a minute here David Starsky. What’s eating you?...Uh?” The girl got to her feet and began to pace. “Are you asking me if I´m sending anonymous notes to Hutch?...Notes made with newspaper cuttings?”

 

“I…Sorry Jane…I know that you don’t…”

 

“NO DAVE! You don't know anything…you don’t even know me. You were too busy catching the bad guys and saving the world to even get to know me. If you had, if you had gone to enough trouble to get to really know me, then, you’d not be here asking me that nonsense.” Starsky approached to Jane, who raised her hands in a don't touch me gesture.

 

“Though I don't know why I should do it, I’ll tell you something Dave. I´m not some nutcase. And I didn´t do it. I wasn’t sending any fucking anonymous notes to Hutch nor anybody else for that matter...Is that clear?” Starsky just stared into Jane’s eyes silently. He knew that she was sincere.

 

“Sorry, Jane. I believe you. You didn’t do it…”

 

“Great…now, if you don't mind I was about to run some errands…” The girl was already grabbing her jacket and heading to the door. Starsky followed her, taking her by her elbow, and facing her.

 

“Jane…I´m sorry….For everything”

 

“It's okay, Dave. Forget it. We tried it…It's just that things don’t always work out like we’d want.” Jane briefly brushed Starsky’s cheek with her hand “But I know that you are really a good man…and I still care for you. I mean it…Bye, Dave. I hope that you and Hutch will soon find who is bothering you with those notes.” Their eyes locked, then Starsky left Jane’s apartment.

 

The ride back home was done almost in silence. Starsky was feeling like an ass. He should not have paid that visit to Jane. He knew it, but despite it all he did it anyway. And now he was feeling silly and miserable.

 

“Come on Starsk…Wanna talk?”

 

“She wished us luck finding who wrote the letters´ …and told me that she knows I’m a good man”

 

“Yeah, partner. The lady is right. YOU ARE a good man.”

 

“And that she still cares for me…and in return, I asked her if she had something to do with those fucking notes! SHIT!” Starsky hit the steering wheel angrily.

 

“Stop beating yourself up Starsky. That was a possibility…you only knew Jane for three months.”

 

“A possibility, my ass! Whoever is trying to scare us is still on the streets. And God only know what his next move will be. Meanwhile, here we are, wasting time interrogating the wrong suspect.” Hutch breathed deeply unable to find the right thing to say. In that moment Starsky was already parking the car in front of Venice place. Both men got out of the Torino and climbed the stairs to Hutch’s place. Once inside, a white sheet of paper resting on the floor immediately attracted their attention. Exchanging a silent look with Hutch, Starsky bent down to pick it up. There, the already familiar newspaper and magazine cuttings formed a paragraph.

 

The lady is as innocent as a baby. You both wasted your time…

 

“SHIT!” Starsky was about to wrinkle the note with his fist.

 

“No Starsk…We’ve got to take it to the lab”

 

“Why? Uh? Can you tell me why? Maybe they will find something useful to catch that damned son of a bitch?” Anger showed in the curly-haired man features.

 

“You already know why. Come on Starsky, try to calm down…He, whoever he is, could leave fingerprints there, on the paper…The lab boys need some time to do their work, but maybe they’ll finally find something.” Starsky sank on the sofa, placing the note on the coffee table.

 

“Let’s go to see Huggy, Hutch…Maybe he could check the word on the street. Somebody holding a grudge, against you, me or both…And I guess these notes are just his first move”

 

Both detectives left Venice place, driving to the Pits. Traffic on that Saturday afternoon was moving quite freely and just ten minutes later they were in front of the black man.

 

“Hey! Today is my lucky day! My white brothers paying a visit to my humble abode…”

 

Without a word, Hutch put the paper on the wood bar. “Somebody is sending me poison-pen letters, Huggy. It talks about everything that Starsky is doing, though…”

 

“So, obviously somebody wants to scare us.” Starsky spoke “Could you listen up for some information?”

 

“Oh, sure Starsky. You don’t even need to ask. From now on, the Bear will be just ears.”

 

“Terrific…Let us know if you know of anyone getting out of jail lately…”

“Or escaping” Hutch cut off Starsky´s words. “Anything, okay?”

 

“Sure bro…don’t worry. I’ll take care of this…Get you both any lunch?”

 

“No Huggy.”

 

“So, your old friend Huggy will fix you something to eat.”

 

“I´m not really hungry, Hug, though I guess I could use a beer.” Starsky answered.

 

“My curly brother is not hungry?…Oh man! That’s hard to believe…and you Blondie? Maybe you would like a salad?”

 

“Oh, no Hug…In fact I´m not hungry either. But how about a beer for me too?”

 

Huggy waved his hand already heading to the kitchen “Nonsense! … Huggy will fix you both a meal that no man could reject…I’ll be right back, five minutes, Okay? Just five minutes. Don't go guys.” With that Huggy disappeared into the kitchen.

 

“Well…it seems that we get lunch anyway.” Hutch said as one of the Huggy waitresses placed two cold beers in front of them.

 

“Thanks sweetheart.” Starsky said giving the girl one of those smiles that made ladies melt. 

 

“Yeah…it seems so. We get lunch,” Starsky answered, before sipping a little of his beer. Minutes later, in front of Hutch was a huge Chef salad as Starsky bit into a burger complete with cheese, bacon, onion, ketchup and mustard, accompanied by an equally big plate of French fries.

 

“Do you think he could be watching us right now?” Starsky asked, chewing his lunch, as he was hungrier than he thought.

 

“The truth?...I don't know Starsk…apparently he knows a lot about what we’re doing at any given moment…”

 

“About what I am doing, Blondie…about what I am doing. There’s a little difference” Corrected Starsky.

 

Both detectives did their best to keep doing their usual things, though not forgetting that at any moment they were the targets of a secret watcher.

 

At Hutch’s insistence, Starsky stayed at Venice place the rest of the weekend.

 

Monopoly games and a sports marathon on the tube, as Hutch called it, was their main menu for those days. Starsky watched basketball, football, boxing and baseball games as Hutch tried to finish a book in the quietness of his greenhouse; despite being disturbed every now and then by some enthusiastic yelling coming from the living room.

 

Monday was spent uneventfully. The labs search results were what both detectives were waiting for. On the papers there weren’t any fingerprints but theirs. They did their work and no more anonymous notes were waiting for them in the precinct or any other place.

 

“Do you wanna spend the night at my place Starsk?” Hutch asked at the end of their shift, concern tingeing his voice. “Or I could crash on your couch?...”

 

“Or maybe we could each go to his own place?...Listen partner. I know that you’re worried, but we can't let the first nut that wants to scare us change our lives. I´ll be okay Hutch. Promise.”

 

“Starsky…”

 

“No Hutch. The guy didn’t bother us today. Surely he has already gotten bored of his game…I´ll spend the night at my place, you at yours, and everything will be alright.” Starsky said, placing a hand on Hutch shoulder, looking at him gratefully. “Come on! I´ll give you a ride to your place.”

 

Starsky took Hutch to his home, driving later to his own, as Hutch felt increasingly unsure about leaving Starsky alone, but his stubborn friend had already made his decision.

 

The brunet, turning on the lights left his jacket, holster, and gun hanging on the usual rack in the living room, headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge’s door to pick out a piece of cold pizza and a root beer

 

I bet Hutch would love a dinner like this Starsky thought mockingly coming back to the living room.

 

“Don't take another step…” A tall, strong man with red hair and piercing green eyes stood in front Starsky, pointing his own gun at him as the detective stopped in his tracks; adrenaline already pumping through his whole body.

 

“Who are you?” Starsky asked softly without losing his control.

 

“Don't you remember me Davey? No, sure, you don't . I doubt you even took the trouble to look at me twice among the years we’d spent together.”

 

Davey?...The years we spent together?… this guy looks familiar to me. Maybe from New York. But who is he?…WHO? Starsky’s mind raced as he tried to get himself out of this situation.

 

“Give me your cuffs and put your hands behind your back. And no nonsense, or I won’t have any problem to killing you right here.”

 

“Listen, what you’re doing is not too…”

 

“GIVE ME YOUR CUFFS AND PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK!” Jerry repeated in loud voice, approaching Starsky and putting the gun’s barrel against his temple. Starsky had no choice but to obey him and produced his cuffs from the back pocket of his pants, handing them to Jerry who quickly cuffed his hands behind back and led him out of the apartment.

 

“Where we are going?” Starsky asked.

 

“You don't need to know that yet. Just walk towards that car” Jerry nodded with his head to a black sedan parked a little distance from them. “And I must advise you not to shout out or do anything else stupid.  It’s not a good idea” Starsky knew it. If he tried to break into a run, his back would be an easy target for his assailant. As for shouting out, he would surely be dead in a heap on the ground before anyone would hear him on the deserted street. This wasn’t the right moment to do anything heroic.

 

Jerry opened the passenger door of his car, brusquely pushing Starsky to sit down and hurrying to the driver’s seat while aiming his gun from the front of the vehicle. Once inside, with a quick movement, he produced a little bottle and a handkerchief from his jacket pocket, unscrewing the bottle cap and pouring part of the liquid into the cloth.

 

“Wha-What are you doing?” Starsky answered, knowing already the absurdity of his question.

 

“Helping you to take a nap Davey” As he said this, Jerry surprised Starsky with a punch to the stomach so hard that the defenseless detective lurched forward gasping for air.  Jerry took advantage of the moment to press the handkerchief against Starsky’s mouth and nose as his other hand viciously grabbed a fistful of Starsky´s curls, pushing his head forward.

 

“Breath bastard, come on! Breath! Starsky fought weakly for an instant, squirming on the car seat, until his body went limp on Jerry’s lap and his mind drifted off into darkness.

 

***

 

The next morning, Hutch was in his apartment waiting for Starsky to pick him up for work. The blond was pacing back and forth, frantically looking frantic at his watch. Starsky was late again. But, this time Hutch had an uneasy feeling. Something strange was going on…. Something frightening.

 

“Come on Starsk… where are you?” After ten minutes more, Hutch decided not to wait any longer and drove to his friend’s place.

 

As soon as he arrived at Starsky’s apartment, he saw the Torino parked in its usual spot.  He climbed the stairs, two at a time, to see that the front door was open. He stepped into the apartment, calling his friend. No answer. An invisible hand squeezed his heart. Everything seemed to be in order, but Starsky was not there.

 

Starsky?...Starsky, are you here?” Hutch then noticed a root beer bottle and a half-eaten piece of pizza lying under the coffee table. It was the only mess he would find in the whole apartment. Not much he thought, as he placed that rest of food into a plastic bag to take to the lab.  He left the apartment and drove to the precinct.

 

When Hutch rushed into the squad room, Dobey was drinking his coffee as he looked angrily at the two empty desks of his detectives.

 

Seeing Hutch, he greeted him with a fake calmness.

 

“Good morning Hutchinson…trouble with your watch?”

 

Hutch approached his superior officer getting directly to the heart of the matter.

 

“Cap…Starsky is missing…”

 

***

 

Starsky opened his eyes just a little. He was feeling stunned, and at first he couldn’t remember where he was. A terrible headache was pounding in his head. Something bound his wrists and ankles, preventing him from moving. At that moment, he realized that he was tied to a chair, and then remembered what happened. A man was in his house when he came home. He had waited until he was hung up his weapon, then attacked him.

Trying to clear his mind he looked around the room. He was in a small place. The only light came from a bulb hanging in the ceiling.  There was a window, and from that window he could see that it was still night. After few seconds, soft steps approached from the corridor as the man approached him.

"Welcome Davey” Said Jerry. “I´m very glad to finally have you in my house"

"Don´t make any more mistakes. The police will be looking for me soon." Starsky said.

At that moment, Jerry punched Starsky’s stomach so hard, that he couldn’t breathe for a few seconds.

"SHUT UP! You are not here to talk. You are just the bait that will bring who I’m really looking forward to meeting again" After those words, Jerry headed back to the corridor only to return a moment later with a Polaroid in his hands…

“Now, how about a smile for the camera Davey?…our dear friend Kenny will love to see this.”

 

***

Trusting Hutch’s instinct and knowing that Starsky was already too late for it to be just one of his usual delays, Dobey issued an APB on his detective and All METRO P.D. units began the search. Hutch also spoke with Huggy, hopping that maybe he could find out any useful information. The anguish was eating Hutch up, because at the moment, there was not a clue as to where his partner and best friend could be.

After placing a few calls to Starsky´s apartment with no answer, and looking often to the squad room door hoping to see him coming, Hutch asked Mildred to put a call through on the radio with no success.

 

This was one of the longest days in Hutch’s life. He hadn’t stopped for a moment while looking for his partner, not even stopping to eat. Feeling deeply guilty knowing that if he had not left him alone in his apartment, Starsky would now be safe by his side.

Late that night Dobey approached him with concern and placed hand on his shoulder, speaking with the same soft and supportive tone that a father would use with his son.

“Hutch, son. You should go home and get some rest. Exhausting yourself won't do Starsky any good.”

“I can't cap…don’t you understand...I can't.”

“Yes Hutch. I do. I understand perfectly how you are feeling…”

Hutch interrupted Dobey’s words. “NO! YOU DON´T UNDERSTAND! IT’S MY FAULT! I allowed him to go home alone last night. Despite the anonymous notes….despite knowing that somebody was watching us, I left him alone!”

Dobey knew that no one could make Hutch listen to reason. He was on a guilt trip and his captain couldn’t do a thing. He tried to persuade him that they would find Starsky.

“Listen Hutch. There are a lot of men on the streets looking for Starsky. You’ve spent more than twelve hours working. It’s time for a break, son. Go home and get some rest. If something turns up, I’ll call you. Promise.”

“Cap I…I can't.”

“That’s an order Hutchinson. If you aren’t out of here immediately, tomorrow I´ll send you home on sick leave. I mean it.” Something in Dobey’s tone made Hutch to give in, grabbing his jacket and shuffling out of the precinct, he didn’t notice a pair of piercing green eyes following his movements. A red-haired man followed him to the parking lot. A black car followed him home that night….

***

Hutch drove like a robot, not paying too attention to where he was going, ending up at Starsky’s apartment. The place where he’d feel closest to his friend.

 He climbed the steps in slow motion, entering the apartment and closing the door behind him, lost in his own thoughts. 

Hold on Starsk…only a little longer. I’ll find you. Promise. Just hold on a little longer. I need you here with me. You do know I’m looking for you, partner? Yes, you know it, and you know that I won’t stop until I find you.

An uncomfortable silence enveloped Hutch as his mind raced trying to find any lost clue, the sudden ringing of the doorbell startled him.  He turned around and opened the door, as a gun was placed a few inches from his nose.

 

“Waiting for your friend Maybe?”

 

“Who…who are you? What do you know about Starsky?”

 

“Slow down, friend, slow down…” An evil smile crept across Jerry’s face.

 

“Take your gun out slowly and throw it on the floor.” Hutch hesitated for a second.

 

“NOW KENNY! I don't have all night to play games!” Seeing the gun almost brushing his nose, Hutch did as he was told and carefully removed his gun and threw it to the floor. Then, Jerry spoke again.

 

 “If you want to see Starsky alive, shut your mouth and come with me”

 

“Who are you?...You’ve got Starsky?”

 

“Well. We could say that right now he’s one of the guests at my party…But that party can't start without you, my dear Kenny.” Jerry laughed loud, showing his madness with each one of his expressions.

 

“Damned bastard! What did you to Starsky?” Hutch couldn’t help but shout at Jerry.

 

“Hey! Watch your manners Kenny. Such rude behavior isn’t suitable for a gentleman like you” Jerry pressed the gun’s barrel under Hutch’s chin as he tried to keep his temper at bay.

 

“How do I know that you aren’t lying to me?” asked Hutch after breathing deeply.”

 

Digging into his shirt pocket, Jerry removed a picture and showed it to Hutch “Is that proof enough?” In the picture Hutch saw Starsky tied to a chair, with some bruises on his face, looking pale and sick.

 

“Come with me and don’t make any sudden moves. If you do, then I’ll kill you right here and now…and later I’ll kill your dear friend Starsky…Is that clear?” Jerry’s heart was pounding in his chest as a heady mix of triumph, anger and envy was poisoning his very core. Finally he had Hutchinson in his hands and he would do any thing he wanted with him. Hutch would never put his partner’s life in danger. He would do as much as Jerry would ask to save him. He knew it.

 

Listening to the vaguely familiar man, Hutch knew that he must do all that was asked of him, or neither Starsky nor himself would have any chance getting out of this mess alive.

 

They both were already in the street. Jerry motioned Hutch to get into the car. Once there, looking at both sides of the street, he opened the glove compartment and took out a Styrofoam cup popping the cap and holding it out to Hutch.

 

“Drink it”

 

“Oh come on…what do you think I am? Some kind of idiot? If I drink that, I’m a dead man”

 

“You aren’t in charge here Kenny. Drink it or I´ll kill you. And your partner will be the second one on my list.”

 

“What you want from me? If you want me, then, let Starsky out of this”

 

“Drink and stop the chit chat. I don’t have time to waste.” Jerry again flashed his sickening smile.

 

“Trust me Kenny. Drink it and you will have a chance to see your partner alive.”

 

“How can I be sure that you didn’t already kill him?”

 

“How? You can't actually. You’ll have to must trust me…its worth to try, I guess.” Jerry’s gun was still against his head. Hutch could feel the coolness of the metal against his skin.

 

He couldn’t put Starsky’s life in danger. Obviously, the man was crazy and obviously his fate as well as Starsky’s was in his hands. Hutch drank the coffee. As he expected, the taste was awful. Bitter and metallic. The dark liquid contained some kind of drug, though Hutch couldn’t guess what. But soon, he noticed that it was something strong. Seconds after drinking the liquid he was already feeling completely dizzy, and less than a minute later, he slid into a drug-induced sleep. Then Jerry cuffed him and drove away.

 

After almost an hour of driving, Jerry stopped his car near a bungalow in a deserted place in the woods not far from the road, but completely isolated.  It was a little, neglected cabin made of logs. Jerry opened the passenger door and pulled Hutch’s body to the ground. Not worrying if he got hurt or not. He dragged the heavy and limp body to the bungalow. Once inside, he shoved Hutch’s body over to an old bed, uncuffing his hands long enough to tie them to the headboard and his ankles to the footboard. Starsky was tied to a chair, his head resting on his chest, a spot of dried blood showing through his curls. His limbs were sore and numb from being restrained for so long, and he was drifting in and out of consciousness. But upon seeing Hutch, he became wide-awake immediately.

 

“Hutch!” Seeing his friend unconscious, Starsky forgot about his own aching body. “What did you do to him?”

 

“Nothing yet. But don’t worry… the party will start soon and I’ll let you both know how it feels to get hurt with no one to care about you.

 

Hutch began to wake up, and at first, the distant voices and his increasing headache led him to think that he was dreaming. But when he heard Starsky´s voice, he tried to open his heavy lids. With clouded vision, he saw the strange man near his friend, and instinctively tried to move, only to notice that he was tied to the bed.

 

“What are you talking about?” Starsky asked angrily and confused.

 

“Shut up!!! You don’t have permission to talk. Only I can talk here. Is that clear?

 

“NO…it’s not clear at all!…what the hell do you want from us Jerry?” This reaction made Jerry mad and he furiously slapped Starsky’s face. A tiny trail of blood fell from his lips.

 

“SHUT UP!!!! I told you to SHUT UP!!! You’ve already talked too much…I don’t know what he saw in you…A stupid Jewish guy. A smart ass…that’s what you are!”

 

“Hey…” A weak voice attracted Jerry’s attention. “Leave him alone…don’t hurt him…If you want something…maybe I can give it to you.” Hutch tried hard to focus on the image of the madman in front of his eyes, but he was still dizzy and the drug in the coffee, whatever it was, was strong and he felt sick to his stomach.

 

“What I want?” Jerry asked sarcastically. “First I want you to stop being the perfect student, the perfect cop. Perfect at all you do. Next, I’ll do with you whatever I want, and from now on, you won’t be perfect any more my dear Kenny. You can bet. And now, if you want to do something useful, how about to asking this bastard to shut up? I’ve had enough of him. My interest now is about you…”

 

“Hutch…are you ok?” Starsky tried to make eye contact, but Jerry’s body prevented it.

 

“Yeah Starsk. I´m okay.” Hutch said, trying to calm Starsky´s fears.

 

“Let’s talk. What do you want from me?” Hutch’s eyes were still heavy. It was pretty difficult to think clearly.

 

“You will pay for not giving me what I wanted...what I needed”

 

“What you wanted and needed?” Starsky asked confused.

 

Jerry lit a cigarette and stepped towards Hutch. 

 

“Yeah. What I wanted and you never gave me. You were so caring with your friends…especially with this scum here…“ Jerry approached Hutch and despite his desperate attempts to elude what was about to come, with his hands and feet tied up, Hutch was an easy target. Jerry burned Hutch’s chest with the cigarette.

 

“AAAAAGGGHHHH!” The scream of pain was followed by a loud laugh.

 

“Hutch! Leave him alone!…Get away from him! I´m gonna kill you… do you hear me? I swear I will!” The sound of a gun’s hammer and the feel of cool metal against his head interrupted Starsky’s threats.  

 

“Ohhh…. Please…whoever you are…just tell me what you want…Ohhhh. Let’s talk…” Jerry mocked, approaching Hutch again.

 

“We’re cops. And it isn’t very smart to torture cops, right?” Hutch stared into Jerry’s eyes, as his chest was still throbbing from the burn.

 

“Never mind. I’ll do whatever I want with you.  I don’t care about him…He was just the bait to get you. I wanted you here and I finally got youNow, If you don't mind, I have some things to do. Some surprises for you both.” Silently, Jerry headed to the door. Hutch looked with concern to Starsky.

 

“Starsk…Starsky, partner. Are you okay?”

 

“I´m okay Hutch…You were who got burned.”

 

“But you look like hell”

 

“Thanks Blondie. That’s very thoughtful of you”

 

“Did he hurt you?...Don’t try to fool me Starsk.”

 

“Nothing I can't handle.” Answered an exhausted looking Starsky.

 

“Know something? I think we’re really in hot water this time buddy,” The blond one said.

 

“Well, at least we’re together and that means a better chance of getting out of here alive.” Starsky said trying to sound confident.

 

A few minutes later, Hutch was almost asleep when Starsky’s voice woke him.

 

“Hutch?…Hutch are you okay Blondie?”

 

“Sure Starsk. That asshole gave me some drug, a sedative or something like that, and it’s still in my system, I guess. But I´m okay…your head?”

 

“This jerk doesn’t like my head or lips. Probably, now that Jane left me… these lips will need some time to find a decent girl who will want to kiss me again…”

 

Hutch chuckled and somehow he felt better knowing that Starsky was still able to joke at a time like this.

 

“What the hell’s going on here? Do you know this guy Starsk?”

 

“He´s Jerry, Hutch…Jerome Walters”

 

“Whom?”

 

“Jerry Walters. We meet him in the academy. Though he didn´t make it. He left near the end of our training at the Academy…Do you remember?”

 

“Yeah…Jerry Walters, of course…” The sudden realization came to Hutch’s mind. “I was sure that I saw that guy before. But, why the hell is he doing this, that’s what I can't understand.”

 

“Me either, but it seems that if someone were asking him to join your fan club…he’d refuse…”

 

“You hit the nail on the head Starsk. The problem, whatever it is, is with me. But I can't figure what. He talked about the past. He seems to be resentful about something that I did…or maybe I didn’t do. And he hates me. As if he was jealous. I don’t understand it. ”

 

Starsky tried to move, groaning softly. This didn´t go unnoticed by Hutch.

 

“Starsk?”

 

“I´m okay Blondie. Not as comfortable as I would want to be, but that’s all. My arms are numb.  Got any ideas Hutch?”

 

 

“I’m thinking, but I would like to be free from these damned ropes and closer to you…”

 

Starsky looked at Hutch, letting him to know without words, that they were close to each other. Together. And whatever that deranged mind was willing to throw at them, they would face it together.”

 

“He said that he would be back with surprises.” Hutch pointed out, glancing to the door.

 

“We’ve got to find some way to get out of here…how did he got you Blondie?”

 

“I spent all day looking for you, but last night, Dobey forced me to go home and get some rest. Instead, I went to your place. He rang the doorbell. I opened it and there he was, with a gun aimed directly at my nose. He said that he had you and….”

 

“He set up us…”

 

“Yeah, that’s right. I guess he was who sent us the poison-pen letters too.”

 

“Bingo Blondie…He got a job as a janitor at the precinct. That way he could follow us easily…He did say that he would make us a little nervous.”

 

“But…why did he talk about you instead of me in those letters, if he held a grudge specifically against me? I don't get it.”

 

“To mislead us, according to what he told me.”

 

“What a nice guy…”

 

The sound of a car approaching warned them to keep silent. Jerry entered the room with a gun and a box of bullets in his hands.

 

“Hi…guys…missing me?” Jerry asked with cheerful voice. “Oh…of course not…being together you don't need anybody around. Right? That’s okay, I was already getting bored. Now we will have some fun….

 

“Do you know what this is Kenny?” He showed the gun to Hutch.

 

“Stop this crap Jerry.”

 

“Ooooh I´m really thrilled. So you finally remember me? Maybe the smart ass helped you a little?”

 

“What do you want Jerry?  To torture us? Why?...Revenge?”

 

“Oh, no my dear mate. Nothing but some fun.” Jerry smiled, putting the gun against Hutch’s temple.

 

“Now…what do you want me to do David? Can I pull the trigger?”

 

“Stop it!” Starsky shouted out, jumping in the chair and losing his balance, falling down to the floor on his right side as a frightening crack came from his arm. 

 

“STARSKYY!”

 

Starsky was on his side wincing and biting his lower lip hard to keep from shouting out in pain. All his body’s weight rested on his broken arm. Hutch struggled fiercely against his restraints.

 

“Damn...Jerry, stop it! He´s hurt“

 

“Oh…come on…where is the smart ass that you always were David? The joker? Wasn’t it your funny sense of humour that everybody liked? Especially YOU, Hutchinson?” 

 

“Drop the gun…this is not funny! Not funny at all!.” Hutch firmly said, in a cold voice, trying to get some control over the situation.

 

“But that’s all the fun of it…we don’t know when the gun will shoot, or where the bullet is…or if there even is a bullet. Isn’t this a fun game? Its called Russian roulette.” He laughed wildly.

 

“Come on David. Can I pull the trigger now? Your wish is my command.” Starsky was unable to hear him, since he had passed out from the excruciating pain in his arm.

 

“Help him Jerry...Please.” Hutch begged. Untie me. We’ll get out of here, and I promise, we’ll forget all of this. Honest.” Hutch stared into Jerry’s eyes pleadingly. He approached Hutch’s ear, still with the gun in his hand.

 

“Begging me are you Kenny? Now?...Now you are paying me a little attention? God! You are so blind!  I was there all the time…asking for your attention!”

 

“What the hell are you talking about Jerry?” Hutch was growing frantic, seeing Starsky still unconscious and sure that his arm was being injured more with each moment.

 

 

“SHUT UP!!!!” He yelled out, pulling the trigger involuntarily. Luckily the bullet missed Hutch’s body, going into the wall. The noise didn’t wake Starsky.

 

“See?…see what you did? Now I wasted a precious bullet. Can I pull the trigger now?” He asked Starsky, who was still in too much pain to hear anything, as he pressed the gun to Hutch’s head again.

 

“I always was nice to you Jerry…and Starsky too.

 

“Yeah, sure. As nice as you both would be to some stray dog…Patting its head for a little while, and giving it your sandwiches before forgetting about it…but do you remember by chance, all the times I asked you for help?… Do you remember all the times you denied me that help because you were already helping this waste here.” He pointed to Starsky.

 

“I´m sorry Jerry. I had already told Starsky that I’d help him. He had trouble with some subjects…” Jerry mimicked Hutch’s voice “I´m sorry Jerry but I´m sure that Garret will be more than happy to help you”…And you weren’t just denying me your help with the Academy stuff. Each time I asked you to get some beers during our time off, you already had plans to go to the city with him!” Jerry bent down towards Starsky, grabbing the chair with a sharp jerk that made him to shout out in pain

 

“Jerry, I couldn’t know that…” Hutch said in low voice, trying desperately to find any way to reach the little sparkle of sanity that madman could have left in his mind.

 

“What Kenny? Did you think that your neglect didn’t hurt me? Did you know how badly I admired you at that time? You were all that I wanted to be and never would be. You were brave, gentle, and intelligent. Even handsome. Okay, okay. I did accept that not everybody gets what you had…but I only wanted a little attention...was that so difficult for you to give me?”

 

Long time forgotten memories rushed into Hutch’s mind. He remembered how Jerry was overwhelming him with attention and even at times with expensive presents, such as his birthday at the Academy, when he wanted to give him a very expensive watch that Hutch wouldn’t accept it.

 

Hutch remembered too how Jerry was following him around with the almost unhealthy devotion of a lap dog. How his demeanour was suffocating him to the point that he felt more and more uncomfortable in front of the young man…and how Starsky with his free, warm and scintillating personality, had come into his life when he most needed him.  Almost from the first day he felt that his curly-haired mate wasn’t anything than the other half of his soul.

 

Jerry kept talking “How could you choose him over me? I was intelligent and I wanted so badly to be a cop…we would have had a great partnership on the streets…” Jerry seemed about to cry, but finally he got a handle on his emotions.

 

Did you know that you could have helped me to pass the academy but you didn’t, and you destroyed my life? I wanted to be a cop more than anything in my life…But all that doesn’t matter, the training, the discipline was much too hard for me to stand on my own…I needed some help! A friend to tell me that I could do it! That everything would be okay…DAMN IT! I NEEDED YOU KENNY!” After a brief pause, Jerry kept talking. This time almost whispering

 

“Did you know that Captain Sheldon nabbed me in his office trying to see the exam questions…and then, they expelled me from the academy when the academic year was about to end, uh? After that, he told me that the least that people could hope from their future law defenders was honesty, and that I’d show how it was a foreign concept for me… Did you know that?”

 

“If I had known that you were having so much trouble I could…”

 

“SHUT UP! I DON´T WANT YOUR DAMNED PITTY! It’s already too late for regrets or apologies!...I don’t want to hear any more of that bullshit.  I only want make you to suffer…to suffer as I suffered.

 

“Jerry…I need some water…” Starsky said, once the pain in his arm decreased to a more tolerable level, in a new attempt to distract the man.

 

“Hey boy…Are you thinking that I´m a waiter here?”

 

“Tell me something Jerry…” Starsky changed the subject. “You wanna kill two cops just because Hutch, one day more than ten years ago, disappointed you?”

 

“ONE DAY?….No. Not just one day, but always. He said no to me over and over!

 

“Jerry, Look.” Starsky tried again.

 

“Shut up…didn’t you want water?...So here’s your water!”  Jerry got a mug of water from a nearby table, throwing it in Starsky´s face.

 

“Jerry. Please calm down… whatever bad I did to you…if you want, I can try and make it up to you. I can help you now.” Hutch said in his most calm voice.

 

“I DON’T NEED YOUR FUCKING PITTY! Jerry barked. “Do you think that I´m so stupid that I don’t know what are you trying to do? I still I remember the lessons about the different ways to distract bad guys to catch them. Negotiation and all that stuff, right? You were good at that, weren’t you?”

 

“Jerry, detective Starsky didn’t have anything to do with our problem.”

 

“Hutch, no!”

 

“Starsk, It’s my problem, not yours. I made him feel bad, not you. “

 

“Oh…how moving…the loyalty, the bond. The perfect duo…the 9th Precinct’s legend.  I HATE you both! Do you think I’m dumb? No. No way. No one will leave this place alive. But you both are going to suffer before I kill you…And I will make you both see the other’s suffering…. What do you think about, buddy?” He asked with a frightening cruelty showing in his eyes and coming back to his sick game again….

 

“Can I pull the trigger now?”

 

“Please, Jerry. Drop the gun...Please.” Starsky begged as waves of pain radiated from his arm, climbing up his spine.

 

“You wanna kill us, right?…Then, why the torture? Just for fun? To feed your revenge?” Hutch regretted his words as soon as he saw the cold anger in Jerry’s eyes.

 

Without a word, Jerry sharply left the room, coming back a moment later and carefully placed on the table a small time bomb.”

 

“Do you like it?...I made it” Jerry asked, looking proudly at the artefact. He approached Starsky with the clear intention of strapping the bomb around his chest.

 

“For God Sake! What are you doing?” Hutch tried instinctively to get free from the ropes but his efforts were useless.

 

“Do you really know how that works, Jerry? You could kill us in seconds….” Starsky tried to control his own panic.

 

 “Don’t you remember who the cadet was that got the best marks in explosives?”

 

“You…you, Jerry…” Hutch said in faltered voice. “Are you willing to blow up the bungalow? If you want to kill us, why don’t you do it right now and end all this madness?” Hutch asked, looking for a pinch of sanity in the green eyes but not finding it.

 

“No...Not the bungalow, but my car instead…it´s old enough and I have already gotten other one…” Again the sadistic Jerry’s laughs resounded around the whole living room. “Do you wanna to know what great idea I’ve got in mind, uh?...” In front of both detectives silence, Jerry kept speaking.

 

“What our beloved Starsky will have fixed to his chest in a while, is a time bomb, right? And only I know when it’s planned to explode…Well, with this point clear, I’ll tell you both what we’ll do next…Something fun though. Very fun, you can bet” Jerry made a dramatic pause and then spoke again. I´ll fix my little handiwork to your friend’s chest; later I’ll take him to my car, moving it up there. Directly into your line of vision, Kenny.” Jerry pointed with his finger to a spot in the woods, in front in the bungalow. “This way, at any moment you will be able to see and enjoy an amazing fireworks display, while comfortably lying in bed, and totally for free. You won’t know when it will happen, though. Only your curly-haired friend here and I will know.”

 

“YOU´RE PATHETIC JERRY!! Hutch shouted out in an obvious change of tactic, squirming frantically against the ropes that kept him tied to the bed.

 

“No partner…don't …” Starsky begged, knowing perfectly well what Hutch was trying to do, but the blond had already hit his target, opening with his words the Pandora’s Box. Forgetting Starsky, Jerry turned to look at Hutch. His eyes wide open, two deep holes of wild rage.

 

“Sorry?...What did you say?”

 

“Pathetic, miserable. A sorry excuse for a man…how dare you even dream to be my friend?...Know something Jerry? The only thing I can feel for you is revulsion…Revulsion and pity.

 

“STOP HUTCH…!” the smaller man shouted out, but it was too late.  In front of an impotent and shocked Starsky, Jerry rushed over to Hutch.  Punching and kicking him furiously, mercilessly, as the tied up and defenseless detective had no other choice but to absorb the blows to his body as it was beaten and he lost consciousness.

 

“JERRYYYY! YOU´RE GONNA KILL HIIIIM!!  Starsky shouted out so loud that his throat ached. But it was the only thing he could do. He couldn’t move. Ropes and his own cuffs kept him securely tied to the chair.

 

Upon seeing the unresponsiveness of Hutch’s body, Jerry stopped; gasping for air and almost went into some kind of trance before to turning to Starsky.

 

“COWARD! YOU´RE NOTHING BUT A FUCKING COWARD!” Starsky´s anger was boiling over.

 

Fiercely slapping his face, Jerry commanded. “Come on, scum! Now you´ll come with me!”  He uncuffed Starsky just for a moment, to free his arms from the back of the chair, then swiftly cuffing him again, not moving his gun far from Starsky´s head as his prisoner yelled out from the pain in his arm.

 

“Come on.  A good time is waiting for you” Jerry dragged one very weak Starsky out of the bungalow.

 

Finally, Hutch began to wake up. Every inch of his body was hurting, he had trouble breathing, and he was unaware of the high fever that was rising in his body. He probably had some broken ribs as well. He was sore and aching beyond words. He remembered the beating, the wild beating.  He also remembered the bomb that was probably already tightly strapped to Starsky’s body.

 

Using all his will power, Hutch opened his eyes just a little, looking for Starsky, but he wasn’t there. With his heart pounding painfully, he looked to the window. The soft pink light of dawn illuminated the outside, and there, looking ominously like some kind of death trap parked some feet away from the bungalow’s door was Jerry’s black sedan.

 

“Starsky?...Oh God no! He did it!...STARSKYYYY!”

 

“What the hell’s all the fuss uh? Can't a man take a nap before he goes to work?” Jerry entered the room scratching his head and yawning lazily.

 

“Starsky…Where’s Starsky?”

 

“Oh, come on Kenny! I thought you were a little more clever than this…Where do you think he is?”

 

“The bomb?”

 

“Securely fastened to his chest, of course. Where else?”

 

“Kill me Jerry. Here. Now. But let Starsky go. You don't wanna kill him…you don't need to do it…you really hate me, not him.”

 

Jerry curled his lips in a disgusting grimace “Oh God…so much loyalty and love is simply revolting!...Listen Kenny. You forgot something important here. The rules of this game are not your rules BUT MY RULES…And I’ll decide how things are going to work. However, now I´ll explain you what will happen.” As Jerry spoke, Hutch, with his fists tightly clenched stared at the car where Starsky was. “What your friend has fixed to his chest is a small powerful bomb, almost a toy. Just enough to spread pieces of the car and his body all around the ground….Or maybe even up in a some nearby tree branch.” Hutch didn´t noticed it, but tears of despair were rolling down his cheeks “At any moment this morning, a moment that only Starsky and I know, the bomb will explode. And after that, I´ll need some help to clean up the mess, If you get my drift” Jerry grinned shyly as a naughty child that said a swearword for first time would have. “But don't worry. You won’t be far behind in kicking the bucket and then you’ll be with him. I’ll take care of that. And now, if you don't mind, I must go to work. Wouldn't be too smart if people at the precinct start missing me at a time like this…don’t you think so Kenny?” Patting Hutch’s cheek, Jerry left the room.

 

There he was. Tied up in a bed, unable to move and plunged into a living nightmare.  A few steps away, Starsky was waiting for a certain death as the minutes went by. Hutch’s entire body ached as he kept up his fruitless struggle against the ropes. At that moment he heard the front door slamming as Jerry left the house. Later he saw a car moving away from the narrow path until it was out of sight. Jerry was gone. But that didn´t improve their situation at all. At that moment he didn´t care about his own life, but he couldn’t bear the simple idea of be eyewitness to Starsky’s death. Then, Hutch did something that he hadn’t done in a long time. He prayed. He pleaded to a God that he wasn’t even sure existed, for Starsky’s life. For a miracle.

 

Time was just a blurred concept at that moment. He couldn’t see his watch and there was no clock in the room. Hutch just kept praying, hard.

 

***

 

The tic-toc of the bomb’s clock was the only sound that accompanied Starsky in the narrowness of his dark prison. That and the excruciating pain coming from his broken arm. He knew that the bomb would explode at nine a.m., but since he was shut in the trunk of Jerry’s sedan, he had no way to know what time it was…How much time he had still to live.

 

Sorry Blondie…I´m so sorry. I would do anything, everything to avoid you having to see this…Starsky knew that Hutch would go crazy seeing the car blowing up unable to prevent it from happening. As he would be if the tables were turned. He also knew what was about to happen at any moment would destroy Hutch, and his only and fervent wish was that some way Hutch could get out of that room alive and some day be strong enough to forget and go on with his life.

 

The clock’s tic-toc kept sounding…

 

***

 

At first Hutch thought that it was a dream. Maybe a hallucination resulting from the fever that burned up his shaking body and clouded his mind. But it wasn’t. Paying close attention, he knew that the noise was real. Some steps cracked over the dry leaves on the ground. Maybe Jerry had come back before he thought, or maybe it was someone else. His last hope. The result of his prayers…His personal miracle.

 

“HEEEEELP…HEREEEEE…HEEELP MEEEE PLEASEEEEE!” Hutch shouted at the top of his voice, until a coughing fit shook his aching body violently, leaving him panting for air.

 

“Uh…who’s there?” A man’s eyes peered through the glass window.

 

“Help me please sir…I´m tiding. Kidnapped. I´m police officer.” Hutch said in loud voice so the man could hear him.”

 

“Police officer uh?...I don't wanna get myself into any mess with the cops.”

 

“Please…please sir. It´s very important. You must help me. My partner could die at any moment. Can you get in here please? We don’t have any time to waste.”

 

“In there? How?...Is the door open ?”

 

“I guess it´s locked. Can you go over there and try, please?...Hurry!”

 

“Okay, Okay. I´m going…” Mumbling some unintelligible words the man disappeared from the window.

 

“IT´S LOCKED!” The man shouted out.

 

“OKAY! COULD YOU COME BACK TO THE WINDOW PLEASE?” Hutch shouted back as stings of pain spread over his chest. Once the man’s eyes were again in sight, Hutch said, “You’ve got to break the window with a rock or something, and then enter.”

 

“Oh man! I´m not sure If I´m in shape to do that. I’m too old to do any acrobatics” A cold terror squeezed Hutch’s heart…He couldn´t leave…Not now.

 

“Please sir...Please.” My partner’s life is in danger! Try it, Please, try it!” Despair tinged Hutch’s plea. The man disappeared again. After a minute of silence, Hutch called to him in a piercing voice.

 

“Sir? Sir please…Are you there?” As an answer, Hutch heard the noise of breaking glass as the window broke in pieces and an orange sized stone ended its flight near the bed.

 

“Sir…Could you get in here now?” Hutch’s heart jumped uncontrollably in his chest.

 

“I´m trying young man…I’m trying...” Finally, after some minutes, that for Hutch seemed endless, a tattered and slender man in his 50’s entered the room, falling to his knees, gasping for air.

 

“Hurry up sir! I need to get free from these ropes! Do you a pocket-knife or something?” The homeless man stared amazingly at the sight of Hutch tied to the bed.  He searched in his shabby jacket’s pocket producing a pocketknife and cut the ropes that bound Hutch.

 

“Hurry up, please, sir. My partner is in trouble…” The man kept cutting the ropes until Hutch was free; he then sat up in the bed and began feeling light-headed and sick to his stomach.

 

“Thanks sir. Thank you so much” The man was speechless. Still wondering what was going on.

 

Despite that fact that he wasn’t sure that he could get to his feet, Hutch hurried to the window with unstable steps. It wasn’t too high, but to Hutch it looked 40 feet height.

 

“Listen sir. I´m very grateful but right now, I don’t have time for explanations. I need you to go out of here and run, run as far away from that car as possible. Okay? Do as I say and everything will be fine…” Hutch was already sitting in the window frame ready to jump to the ground. As his numb body fall face down, waves of deep, burning pain engulfed him. Despite the pain, he got to his feet and broke into a run.

 

“STARSKYYYY! STARSKYYY I´M COMIIIIING! Coughing painfully, he got to Jerry’s car, looking inside, but Starsky wasn’t there.

 

Damn it!...Another one of the bastard’s jokes…Hutch thought

 

“STARSKYYYYY!!!” After just a second the muffled voice of Starsky came from the trunk.

 

“Hutch?...Hutch it´s really you?” Starsky asked, still thinking that this was some kind of trick his mind was playing on him.

 

“I’ll get you out of there Starsky…Hold on, just a minute.”

 

“No…Hutch no! Get away! The bomb will explode at any moment!”

 

“He told you when?” Hutch asked struggling with the locked trunk.

 

“Nine o clock…what time is it Hutch?”

 

Hutch took a deep breath and looked at this watch. 8:52…

 

“No problem Starsk. We still got a lot of time.” But Starsky knew what Hutch was trying to do.

 

“Go, Hutch…get out of here…”

 

“No Starsk…No way. Nothing will get me out of here, and you know it, so stop that. Now I’ve got to find something to open this fucking trunk…I´ll be right back, partner…Just a moment.” Huch looked around for something to break the lock, but there were only a few stones, too small to do the job. With his entire body hurting, Hutch ran to a little shed near the bungalow. It was closed, but Hutch didn´t need much effort to batter down the rickety door.

 

The blond blinked to get used to the darkness of the place, looking around frantically until he found an axe firmly stuck in a broad trunk. He didn´t want to look at his watch but he knew that time was passing. Bracing his feet firmly on the floor, he grabbed the axe’s handle, with both hands, he pulled with all his strength, as his body cried out in pain.

 

Growing desperate, Hutch realized that the axe was still firmly stuck in the trunk.

 

“…Okay you fucking piece of junk...Stop dicking me around. I need you out of here NOW”

 

With a guttural shout, Hutch jerked the axe and as it released from the trunk, his momentum caused him to fall backward, hitting the back of his head hard against the nearby wall, momentarily stunning him.

 

Shaking his head and feeling too weak to get to his feet Hutch crawled out of the shelter.Tightly clutching the axe, he was unaware of the blade cutting into his palm, as a spasmodic cough tortured his aching body. The car was just a few feet away, but for Hutch, it seemed an insurmountable distance.

 

I´m c-coming Starsk…I´m coming…Ple-please God…Allow me to be on t-time…

 

***

 

The silence of the forest was broken by the loud noise of an explosion as a flock of startled birds flew away, and a column of grey smoke rose in the sky.  Then quietness reigned again and almost nothing could be heard except a mixture of weeping and laughs of two men sheltered in each other arms.

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

He was still tied to the bed in Jerry’s place…the bomb was about to explode…the tic-toc of the clock grew, hammering his brain like an ominous menace.  He couldn’t do anything…anything but shout.

 

“STARSKYYYY!!”

 

“Hey, hey! Hutch…Take it easy Blondie…Take it easy…” Starsky leapt out of the bed in the hospital room he shared with Hutch and was at his friend’s side.

 

“St-Starsky?”

 

“Yeah Blondie. It's me…everything’s alright”

 

“A-Are you?...”

 

“Safe and sound.” Rubbing his eyes, Hutch looked at Starsky from head to toe. He had some bruises on his face, stitches in his lip and his arm was in a cast, but other than that, he looked okay.

 

“I began to think that you would sleep forever….” Starsky smiled warmly, sitting carefully on Hutch’s bed.

 

Hutch reached out for Starsky, still confused. The brunet took his friend’s wrist, holding his hand.

 

“Hey Hutch I’m here… really. We made it. I’m real.” Starsky said, gently squeezing Hutch’s hand.

 

“Oh God…We were in…”

 

“No Blondie. It was just a nightmare. We are in the hospital. Everything’s over.”

 

“Starsk...Are you really ok?”

 

“Well. Hurting here and there…but nothing compared to being blown up, I guess.”

 

“Jerry? What happened to him?”

 

“Well, you took me out the trunk, and threw the bomb away just in time. But after that you passed out. Luckily, a forester heard the explosion. He’s the one who found us and called the police. When our friend Jerry came back to see me spread all over the woods, he got a little welcome party…He´s in a nuthouse. He won’t hurt anybody else…anymore. The poor devil is totally crazy Hutch…”

 

“I´m feel like I’ve been hit by a truck…Are my ribs broken?” Hutch asked weakly.

 

“Yeah. He beat the hell out of you. I’m sorry Hutch…I couldn’t help you….” Starsky bowed his head, feeling his heart loaded with bitter shame.

 

“Hey. No Starsk...Look at me…” Hutch held Starsky’s hand firmly. “As I recall, you were tied up in a chair. And he beat you too. Your arm…it´s broken?” He asked, looking at the cast on Starsky’s arm.

 

“Yep. But it’ll be okay in no time…” After a deep breath, Starsky kept talking.

 

“The worst part was being shut in the dark with that fucking bomb strapped to my chest” The smaller man stared silently at the window before continuing to speak, “Know something?...that made me remember Nam…. “

 

“I’m sorry Starsk.”

 

“It's okay, Blondie… Let the past rest, where it belongs. You saved my life Hutch…Even beaten up and risking your own life, you got me out of there. Thanks partner.” Starsky gave Hutch a smile. A smile full of warmth and of love. A smile that spoke more than any words could about what he felt for the man that blessed his life with his loyalty, love and friendship.

 

“Hey…I want to know why I’m in bed and you’re up and walking around?” Hutch asked, trying to lighten the situation with a little humour.”

 

“Because I just have some stitches in my lips, and a broken arm, but YOU need some real rest. You got some serious injuries Hutch. That guy beat you pretty badly,” Starsky added, becoming serious again. “I was truly worried about you for a while, partner” 

 

“I never thought that I was so bad to him…to Jerry.” Hutch answered thoughtfully

 

“Bad to him? Hutch, you were the best guy at the academy for everyone. But you were just a boy…you couldn’t help everybody. Jerry had an obsession. He didn’t know how to deal with the frustration of not being a cop and he had to blame someone for his own failure…Hutch, please. Don’t let him put you on a guilt trip. He already hurt you enough” Starsky said, aware one more time of the generosity of Hutch’s heart. He was hurt but still worrying about the unhappy man.

 

“But…If I had helped him more. If I had just paid more attention to him…He desperately needed a friend at the academy, but he didn´t find one….People always need to feel that someone cares about them Starsk.”

 

“And you needed to tell me this? You, who taught me that I could be loved as I was? The one who loved me and took care of me all these years? I know how it feels to be loved…I’m really sorry for Jerry, Hutch, but it wasn’t your fault…He’s sick. Out of his mind.”

 

“Poor guy…”Hutch said almost in a whisper. “Begging for another’s love and friendship. Looking for a little of kindness, as a dog would look for a caress…”

 

“Yeah…it must be awful.” Starsky answered feeling true pity for Jerry.

 

“I’m glad that you’re here…Safe. I was so scared. Just seeing the car and knowing that you were in there, tied to a time bomb…” The frightening memory seemed fixed in the deepest part of Hutch’s mind.

 

“Hey Hutch…How about lets forget the whole thing once and for all. uh? You need rest, and you’re already talking too much…that’s my speciality, talk, talk and more talk…”

 

“Okay” Hutch closed his eyes, with a smile forming on his lips, but he didn’t release Starsky’s hand. He still needed to be sure that his friend was there. That everything was fine again. Starsky kept still, with his hand nestled under Hutch’s hand, feeling his soul fill with gratitude. Gratitude towards the man, that since the first day met, had taught him the real meaning of goodness and friendship.

 

They were together. Their time wasn’t over. And Starsky swore to himself take to advantage of that second chance, to do his best to love and take care of the most precious gift in his life.

 

THE END

 

 

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