Da Little
Tings

Ouch!
That Hurts!

Friends, Enemies,
Lovers & Informants

Food!
Glorious Food

Clothes
Horses

What's In
A Name

Double Jeopardy

By Barb McDonald

 

PART ONE

Captain Dobey stood at the window looking out over Bay City. It was exactly midnight and the city sparkled like a moonlit ocean. But, despite the serene landscape, his gut churned with anxiety. He was in a hospital room. Beside him lay his blonde-haired detective, Hutch – peaceful but broken.
Dobey had phoned Starsky less than a half hour ago and was not surprised when he heard Starsky’s Adidas squeaking on the shiny linoleum of the hallway. His gait was unmistakable. The steps got more and more frantic, as they got closer.

Starsky glanced into each room as he went passing Hutch’s room momentarily. He grabbed the doorframe to stop his momentum. It was the big man in the brown, polyester suit whose posture was etched with concern that caught Starsky’s eye first. Then he saw his friend laid out on the bed – his face softly lit by an overhead, florescent lamp. Starsky slowly entered the gloomy room out of breath and in obvious bewilderment.

“What happened?” He asked, but Dobey did not turn to answer him. He continued to stare out the window.

“Captain?”

Starsky, moved closer to Hutch stopping at the side of the bed. He placed his hands firmly on the metal guardrail. He gave his partner the once over noticing Hutch’s battered face and a cast on his left arm.

“Was he in a car accident?” Starsky tried again.

There was still no reply from his superior officer.

“CAPTAIN!” Starsky blasted. “What the hell is going on?”

Dobey finally acknowledged him but looked lost for words.

“Hutch has been…” He started.

“Been what?”

“Well, he’s been worked over, Dave.”

“By whom? Was he mugged - robbed?”

Dobey had no answer.

“Captain.” Starsky hissed, his patience wearing thin, “What is this? Hutch is supposed to be in Duluth for a family funeral. Then I get a call telling me that he’s in the hospital back here. Now, I’m not going to ask you again and I want a straight answer… what happened?”

Dobey pulled two chairs together and arranged them to face each other. He gestured for Starsky to take a seat. After pausing, he did and Dobey sat across from him.

“I just don’t know.” The captain said simply.

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“All I know is that I got a call at home around suppertime. A woman walking her dog found Hutch on the side of a culvert near Venice Beach. She called police and an ambulance. They said he’d been there a while – maybe two days. One of the uniformed officers recognized Hutch and called me. I thought the officer was mistaken because I knew Hutch was out of town – back home for the funeral. But, I came down here anyway to be sure. When I realized that it was Hutch, I called you. And, that, I’m afraid is all I know so far.”

“But, what… who…”

“I just don’t know, Starsky. I don’t know what or who.” Dobey shrugged. “Only Hutch can tell us that.”

“Well, what did the doctor say? Is he going to be alright?”

“She said he’ll recover, baring any problems.”

“Problems?”

“The breaks and bruises will heal in time, but she can’t rule out head trauma until he’s awake and can be evaluated. He has a fractured skull, Dave.” Dobey said pointedly. “This was no simple mugging. This was done by pros. They knew he was a cop and were careful not to kill him. Beating a cop and killing a cop are two different stories. No, they were careful. This was a warning. Next time he won’t be so lucky.”

“Lucky.”

Starsky was utterly confused. What had Hutch gotten himself into? Why would he do something to put himself in such peril, especially on his own? The partnership Starsky and Hutch shared was closer than two books on a shelf. Why didn’t he talk to him if he was in trouble? As doubt and confusion swirled like an eddy in his head, Starsky settled in for a lengthy vigil.

 

TWO WEEKS EARLIER

“Want a beer?” Hutch asked Starsky as the pair entered Hutch’s flat.

“Sure.”

“Well, you know where they are.” Hutch gestured toward the fridge and then the bathroom. “I’ve got to make a pit stop.”

“That was a hell of a week we had, Hutch.” Starsky shouted toward the now closed bathroom door. “We must have set some kinda record for collars. Seven dealers, nine misdemeanors, three pimps and we finally solved that Richardson murder – arrested that guy too. Not to mention all the paperwork we pushed around. We are two hot detectives, dat’s for sure. I think I’m going to ask Dobey for a raise. I sure am glad it’s Friday, though. Two whole days off. All I’m planning to do this weekend is sleep.”

“You talking to me?” Hutch asked as he emerged from the bathroom.

“Yes, I’m talking to you.” Starsky said with slight irritation as he plopped on the couch and picked up a magazine from the coffee table. He took a swig of beer. “Who else would I be talking to? I don’t talk to the plants like you do.”

“Well, what did you say? I was in the bathroom.”

“Aaaah, nothing.”

“Hey!” Hutch barked as he opened the icebox. “You took my last beer!”

“Ooops. Sorry about that.”

“I guess I’ll have coffee. You want to order a pizza or something? Maybe watch Jeopardy?”

“You can watch Jeopardy if you want. I could care less about French Poet’s and Rivers of North Africa. Besides, Art Fleming is a little smug for me. It’s easy if you’ve got the answers in front of you.”

“You want some coffee then?” Hutch asked ignoring Starsky’s rant.

“You can’t drink coffee now! It’s eight o’clock!” Starsky protested, glancing at his watch.

“Why not?”

“Cuz, you won’t be able to sleep.”

“Sure, I will. Nothing stops me from sleeping, Starsk.” Hutch winked.

“Nah. No, coffee for me or pizza either.”

“Boy, that’s a first.” Hutch mumbled to himself.

 “I’m just gonna drink the rest of this and go home.” Starsky announced. “I’m bushed.”

“Okay. I’ll make myself some eggs.”

“Eggs for dinner. I’ll never understand you, Hutch.”

“You should know me by now.”

“I do. But, knowing and understanding are two different things.”

“Sure you don’t want some? I make a mean omelet.”

“I am absolutely sure. I do not want EGGS for dinner. YOU should know ME by now.”

“Okay. Suit yourself.”

“Well, I’ll see you Monday morning.” Starsky said as he tossed the rest of his beer down his throat and rose from the sofa.

“Miss me.” Hutch smirked pre-occupied with whisking his mixture.

“Don’t worry, I’ll try and get by without you. I think I can manage” Starsky smiled as he headed for the door. He made a face before his last comment for the evening, “Enjoy your eggs.”

*******

Hutch chuckled at the previous exchange. He truly loved the banter he and his long-time friend shared. He relished most of the time spent with Starsky. But, on occasion, it was wise to spend some quality time alone or with other friends outside their closely-knit partnership.

This weekend, Starsky was headed to his bed for some much needed rest and relaxation. A few days to regroup before it all started up again on Monday. He could actually use about a week, but Saturday and Sunday would have to do for now.

Hutch, on the other hand, had plans with his new girlfriend Sarah. They had only been out on a few dates, but Hutch felt there might be something there. They planned to go on a picnic and then to a disco on Saturday night. Hutch decided that Sunday would be taken up with laundry, a few cleaning chores and grocery shopping. As he ate his dinner he added beer to his list. He was just about to turn on the TV when the phone rang.

“Can’t live without me, huh?” Hutch chortled, assuming it was Starsky.

“Hutch?” A female voice whispered.

“Oh… ah… sorry, I thought you were…” He stammered. “Yes? Speaking.”

“Hutch… it’s Jeanie.”

“Jeanie?” Hutch answered with astonishment. He almost choked on his mouthful. “Jeanie Waldon?”

“Yes. It’s me.”

“Well, how… how are you.. . aaah…”

“I know.” She said with slight sadness. “I know this must be a surprise, but I didn’t know who to call.”

“Are you alright?”

“No. I’m not Hutch. I’m very frightened.”

“Why? What’s the matter?”

“It’s Ben.”

“Ben?”

“Ben Forest. He’s been released. He’s out.”

Hutch felt the blood drain from his face. He took a deep breath, put his plate down and fell into the corner of the sofa. His past came rushing back at him like a stampede of wild mustangs.

“How did he… I mean, when…”

“Oh, Hutch. I know what you went through back then. It has haunted me for years. I’ll never forgive myself for what he did to you… what I did to you. But, after all this time I can honestly say that I never stopped loving you.”

“What?” Hutch was taken aback.

“I’ve thought about you so often over the last few years. I’ve wanted so desperately to see you, to be with you.”

“Where are you?” Hutch asked abruptly as if he’d never heard Jeanie’s profession.

“I’m in the city. I never left. I’ve had to go into hiding since I found out about Ben’s release.”

“Well, I…”

“I know Hutch. I know. Why should you help me? All I can say is that you are the only one I can turn to. Oh God, I just don’t know what to do.” Jeanie started to cry.

“Listen Jeanie. Don’t cry.” Hutch’s voice was a soft as suede. “It’ll be all right. I’ll help you.”

“You… you will?” She sniffed.

Hutch took a few seconds to think.

“I want you to meet me down at the station.”

“No! No… I can’t go there.”

“We can put you in protective custody. It’s the only way, you know that.”

“I can’t Hutch.”

“Why not? Why can’t you?”

“I have a child.” Jeanie announced.

“Well that’s all the more reason to go into…”

“Hutch.” Jeanie interrupted. “He’s Ben’s child.”

Hutch was speechless. It had taken years for his horrific experience of forced heroin addiction to fade. In actual fact, he still had nightmares about it. The episode had etched its way into Hutch’s soul – still festering just below the surface. Even when he and his partner came across a junkie during their day-to-day work, a quick glance would flicker between them. It was a fleeting look of recognition of what they had endured.

Four years ago, Ben Forest and his right-hand man Monk, kidnapped Hutch and over a period of several days got him hooked on heroin. They wanted to know Jeanie’s whereabouts a woman Hutch was dating. But, she was Forest’s girl. It wasn’t until the thugs stopped feeding Hutch the drug that he finally spilled the information. Once Hutch was of no use to them, he knew he was done for. But, he managed to escape and was rescued by Starsky. Then with Starsky and Huggy’s help, Hutch kicked it cold turkey, and the partners managed to track down Forest and arrest him.

After a long court case, Forest was sentenced to ten years – a term both Starsky and Hutch argued was insufficient. They assumed the judge had been paid off, but they could never prove it. Now, with the news of Forest’s early release and his son with Jeanie, the pain came flooding back to him. Hutch wondered if he was strong enough to relive even a part of what had happened to him back then. After several moments of shock-induced silence, Hutch placed the phone receiver to his mouth.

“Meet me on Venice Beach. At the bottom of 25th – the basketball courts.”

*******

Hutch lived several miles from his suggested rendezvous point, but decided to walk. With his head down and his hands in pockets deep in thought, he briskly made his way down to the waterfront. Even though his mind was fogged with bad memories, he was cognizant of his surroundings – he had to be. If Ben was out, Hutch was probably a target too.

He stopped for a pack of cigarettes. Hutch needed something to calm his nerves. He’d quit when he became a police officer – almost 15 years ago now, but with Jeanie resurfacing, a smoke was just the vice he needed. The first puff tasted good. He savoured its burn and the scent of its bluish haze. It made his heart flutter slightly as the nicotine hit his bloodstream. Hutch took a seat on a side bench just outside the chain link fence that enclosed the courts.

The boardwalk that usually bustled by day, was now settling down and only a few stranglers remained. There wasn’t much light left. The mid-summer sun was a brilliant sliver on the ocean’s sharp horizon. The clouds were painted with a veil of pink and orange: God’s watercolours.

Hutch saw a young boy on a skateboard approach him, but he paid no attention. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it up.

“Hello Hutch.” The boy said.

Slightly caught off guard, Hutch looked up only to realize that the boy was, in fact, Jeanie. Her hair was cut short – its former golden glow now a mousy brown. Atop her mop was an L.A. Dodger baseball cap. She wore a sweatshirt and baggy pants with an old pair of checkered vans. The outfit disguised her perfect figure well.

“Your hair has gotten long.” She commented on Hutch’s whitish locks. “I like the mustache too. It makes you look distinguished.”

“Distinguish huh? Well, that’s a first. I guess I’ve finally out grown my boyish charm.”

“Since when do you smoke?” She said as if Hutch should be ashamed of himself.

“Actually. I just started.”

“Not on my account, I hope.”

“Yep. Fraid so.” He laughed uncomfortably.

Her voice was the same as was her touch when she reached over to place her hand on Hutch’s shoulder. It still made him shiver. She smiled woefully and took a seat next to him. The last time she saw Hutch, he was battered and wilted – the drug still milling around his body like a swarm of centipedes. He looked so defeated then, but now he looked healthy and as fit as ever.

 “You look good, Jeanie.” Hutch offered politely.

“Oh, no I don’t! You know me, I just don’t feel human without any makeup on. I look terrible.”

“Well, I…”

“Look. I know this is awkward, but I really didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. You are my only hope Hutch. My only hope in keeping my son and staying alive. Ben will kill me this time. There is no doubt in my mind. He WILL kill me.”

Hutch took out yet another cigarette. Anxiety seeped from every pore of his being.

“Look… Jeanie. I have to be really honest with you.” Hutch began. He blew out a billow of smoke. “I’m not sure if I’m up to this. It’s been a long time. I can take you down to police headquarters and have them put you and your son into a protection program, but that is as far as I’m willing to go.”

“What does Starsky say?”

“I haven’t told him anything.”

“Oh come on, Hutch.” Jeanie grinned. “You tell Starsky everything. You two are like an old married couple.”

“Yeah, I suppose we are in some ways.”

“Are you going to tell him?”

“I don’t think so… I don’t know! Leave Starsky out of this.” Hutch sounded frustrated. “I’m feeling a little ambushed here. I need some time to digest all this, Jeanie. I’ve moved on. I’m happy. I have a new girlfriend. Starsky and I are working together better then ever. I can’t jeopardize everything because you need help. Now, please… please do as I ask and let me place you in protective custody. You and your son will be taken care of. It’s the only way Jeanie. It’s the only way.” Hutch pleaded.

“I’m sorry, Hutch.” Jeanie said with melancholia. “I shouldn’t have involved you in this again. It’s my problem, not yours. Forget I ever contacted you and just know that you will always be very, very special to me. I’ve missed you so much.”

She couldn’t help but stroke his cheek with her delicate hand. She wanted to kiss him, but knew if they were being watched, it would surely give them away.

“Good bye, Hutch.”

Jeanie started to rise to leave.

“Wait a moment!” Hutch hissed angrily. “Wait just one holy moment here. That’s it?”

“There is nothing else to say, babe.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know. Anywhere… nowhere.”

“I don’t believe this!” Hutch seethed. “You call me out of the blue and tell me you love me. Then you tell me that the man who kidnapped and tortured me is out of prison. That you have his son? How the hell I’m I supposed to handle all this Jeanie? You tell me? How?”

“I’m desperate, Hutch. I’m desperate and I need you. I know it’s not fair. But, no matter how long it’s been, you are still my Hutch. My beautiful Hutch.”

“Save it!” He spat – his fuse just about spent.

He took one last puff of his cigarette and threw it to the ground. The cop in him couldn’t let her leave alone. No matter how much his gut instinct was warning him to run away as fast as he could, his protective nature prevailed. He grabbed Jeanie tightly by the upper arm and pulled her to follow him.

“Come on.”

*******

“Lo?”

“Hey Starsk.”

“Hey yourself.”

“You asleep?”

“Almost.” Starsky grunted. “It seems that it’s you that can’t live without me, huh. What’s up? Something wrong? You sound funny.”

“Yeah, well. I just got a call from back home and it seems my cousin has died.”

“Oh. I’m sorry Hutch.” Starsky propped himself up in bed. “What happened?”

“I don’t really know all the details. But, we were pretty close as kids, so I think I want to go. I should go.”

“Of course you should. I’ll tell Dobey you’ll be off a few days.”

“Well, actually, I think I’m going to take the opportunity to do some visiting while I’m there. I haven’t been back to Duluth in awhile. Lots of family and friends to touch base with.”

“Sure. How long do you want to take?”

“Well, I have lots of holiday time coming. I thought… maybe… two weeks?”

“Sounds like a good idea. Maybe I’ll take some time off while you’re gone.”

“Sure Starsk. Sure.”

“Hutch? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. Just in a bit of shock, you know.”

“I hear ya.”

“So, I’ll talk to you when I get back then?”

“Will do. And, Hutch…”

“Yeah?”

“Sorry about your cousin.”

When Starsky hung up the phone he had a strange feeling. He knew something was out of place. He couldn’t quite put his finger on why, but he knew Hutch was lying to him. Starsky tried his best to roll over and go back to sleep, but that was not to be.

*********

 Brilliant sunlight flooded Hutch’s hospital room. Starsky sent Captain Dobey home around 2am. He’d rummaged through Hutch’s clothes for clues as to how Hutch ended up near death on the side of a culvert. Only the half empty pack of cigarettes seemed out of place. Finally, after several hours, Starsky fell asleep awkwardly in the vinyl chair across from Hutch’s bed. When he opened his eyes, he saw a pretty, young nurse taking Hutch’s temperature and blood pressure. Hutch was still unconscious.

Starsky nodded at the nurse and struggled to sit up and then stand. He glanced at his watch that displayed 7:43 then scratched his head vigorously in an effort to awaken fully.

“How’s he doin?” He asked the nurse – his voice roughened from lack of sleep.

“Same.” She replied sweetly.

“Do you think he’ll come round today?”

“He may.”

“But, you don’t think he will?”

“Well, I hope he will, sir. I’m afraid all we can do is wait. It’s all up to him. These things can’t be rushed. He’ll come around when he’s ready.” She said as she removed the blood pressure cuff from Hutch’s upper arm. “He’ll be alright.”

She looked at Starsky quizzically then looked away when she realized Starsky had caught her suspicious glance.

“Something wrong?” He asked.

“No. It’s none of my business.”

“It’s okay.” Starsky urged. “What’s on your mind?”

“Well, I was just wondering… are you two, how shall I put this… together?”

“Together?”

“I mean are you two a couple?”

“A couple?” Starsky frowned at the nurse trying to figure out what she was insinuating.

“You know… a couple.”

“Oh, no… nothing like that. We’re partner’s.”

“Yes, that’s what I meant. Partners.” She replied with affirmation.

“No, no…we’re cops. He’s my partner in crime… so to speak.”

“Ooooh, I see. So you guys aren’t…”

“No. We aren’t. Why would you think that we were?”

“I don’t know.” She said sheepishly, “I just knew you two weren’t related… brothers or anything like that. I just got the feeling you were very close to one another.”

“Well, we are very close.”

“It’s a little unusual, don’t you think?”

“What’s unusual?”

“I’ve just never seen two men, that weren’t brothers…  oh, never mind.”

“Haven’t you ever seen a World War II movie?”

“Sure I have. Why?”

“Well, we are just like soldiers in battle. We’ve been through a hell of a lot together… good and bad. We trust one another with our lives. THAT is what makes us… very close.”

“Wow.” The nurse said cheerfully. “I never thought of it like that before. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I suppose we do share a strange sort of connection.”

“It’s cute.” She teased.

“We have been known to be cute.” Starsky winked, and then beamed a smile so bright it rivaled the sunlight that now filled the hospital room.

“Well, I better move onto my next patient.”

“Thanks for taking care of him Miss…” Starsky raised his eyebrows suggesting she divulge her name.

“It’s Rhonda… Rhonda Macy.”

“When my partner is feeling better, maybe we can get together… Miss Macy.”

“Sure. I’d love to. You know where to find me.”

She turned to leave and Starsky enjoyed watching her walk away: her body swaying in all the right places. When he focused back on Hutch, Starsky was glad to see him awake.

“What is this? Club 54?” Hutch commented dryly, his voice quiet and crackling.

“Heeeey. How you feelin’?” Starsky greeted with a cautious grin.

“Much better now that I know your love life is thriving.”

“You know what I always say, Hutch. Seize the day.”

“Seize the nurse, more like it.”

With Hutch’s sarcasm came instant relief. Starsky knew he was on the mend. There was no more worry about head trauma. Hutch was going to be fine.

“I’m sorry, Starsk.”

“Sorry about what? Whatja do?”

“I lied to you.” Hutch whispered.

“Well, I know that. I knew you were lying when you called me about your cousin’s funeral.”

“How did you know I was lying? I thought I was pretty convincing.”

“Well, you weren’t. I knew something was up. You should know by now that you can’t lie to me. If you had a cousin you were close to when you were a kid I would have known about it. Over the eight years we’ve worked together, you would have mentioned any cousins. But, never once have I heard you talk about this so-called ‘close’ cousin or any cousin for that matter. You don’t even have a cousin do you.”

“No.” Hutch digressed.

“I didn’t become a detective for nothing. You may not think so, but I’m good.”

“I know you’re good Starsky.” Hutch sounded disgusted that his partner would think that.

“So, why all this then? Why DID you lie to me? What happened that night?”

Hutch tried to prop himself up but couldn’t. He grimaced with pain and let his head fall gingerly back onto the dented pillow.

“Hey, take it easy.” Starsky advised, leaning over to help his friend. “Stay still. I’ll call the doctor.”

“No…let me just lie here a minute. I’ll be okay.”

Starsky let Hutch regroup. Just because Hutch was awake, didn’t mean he was well. Starsky pulled the chair closer to the side of the bed and poured Hutch a glass of water. He handed it to his partner and waited for an explanation.

“So?” Starsky urged. “I’m ready when you are.”

“It was Jeanie.” Hutch finally disclosed.

“Jeanie Waldon?” Starsky reacted with astonishment.

“She called me just after you left last Friday. She said Ben Forest had gotten early release. She was afraid he would come after her again.”

“Why would she think that?”

“Are you ready for this, Starsk?”

“I’m not sure, try me.”

“She had a son with him.”

“Oh man.” Again, Starsky showed surprise. “How did that happen?”

“Usual way… you know, birds and bees...” Hutch said flippantly.

“No, I mean she was with you for months. How could she…”

“It was when I told Forest she was at the beach house. Use your imagination. It wasn’t pretty.”

“Oh.” Starsky said realizing that Ben had forced himself on her.

“So anyway, I agreed to meet her. I told her that the only thing I could do was put her and her son into protective custody, but she refused.”

“Then what?”

“Jeanie can be very convincing when she wants to b,e Starsk. She told me she still loved me and pleaded with me to protect her.”

“And…”

“So, I thought… stupidly, that I could.”

“Dat was dumb.”

“Yes, Starsky. I know.” Hutch gave his partner a sideways glance. “We didn’t even get two blocks. All I remember is calling you, packing a few things and leaving the apartment.”

“So… where’s Jeanie and her son?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, partner. I have no idea.”

********

After a week in the hospital under observation for any issues arising from Hutch’s cracked skull, he was finally released. Starsky insisted Hutch stay at his place. It would be safer than Venice Place.

The doctor said Hutch needed to be watched closely for a while, any way. With a linear fracture, like the one Hutch had, the doctor said there should be no difficulties. Nevertheless, if he complained of headache, dizziness, sight or hearing problems, Starsky was to get his partner back the hospital ASAP. So far, so good. Except for Hutch’s griping about being bored, all seemed well.

But, there was more eating at Hutch than his itch to get on with his life. What had happened to Jeanie and her son? Dobey had put out an A.P.B. on her but to no avail. There had been no reported murders, missing persons or Jane Does. Starsky too, had done some investigating but had come up empty. It seemed Jeanie had simply vanished.

As for Ben Forest, he was easy to find through his parole officer. Starsky paid him a visit, but had no proof that he or his new gang of goons had anything to do with the attack on Hutch or Jeanie’s disappearance. Starsky’s hands were tied. All he could do was warn Forest to stay clear of his partner – a threat that did not seem to faze the man.

Starsky had taken his two weeks holiday to watch over his buddy. But, today he decided to go down to the station and catch up on paperwork. Hutch was feeling better, so to quell his boredom, he thought he’d prepare dinner for Starsky. Knowing his pal’s disgust in eating Hutch’s healthy foods, he decided to serve Starsky’s favourite – Mexican.

Against Starsky’s orders to stay put, Hutch ventured to the grocery store to stock up on all he needed for his dinner. Without incident, he returned to the apartment and began his afternoon of culinary arts. It took extra effort because the cast on Hutch’s arm made it difficult to maneuver knives and pots and pan. But, he managed and at half past six, Starsky walked through the door to find the table full of Mexican fare.

“Hey. Look at this!” He said with absolute delight. “Did you make all this?”

“Sure did, buddy.”

“Since when do you know how to cook Mexican food.”

“I don’t.” Hutch said with a proud, toothy grin. “But, I did.”

“You’re gonna make someone a fine wife someday, my friend.”

“I know.”

“So, what brought on all this generosity.”

“Just a little thank you for putting up with me the last few weeks.”

“Aaaah. Dats sweet.” Starsky replied mockingly.

“But, mostly, I was bored.”

“Aaaah. Thats more like it.”

Then, Starsky’s complexion turned slightly sour.

“What’s the matter?” Hutch quarried. “I knew I should have made beef quesadillas instead of chicken.”

“No, no… nothing like that. This is really great. I appreciate what you’ve done here.”

“Then what is it?” Hutch asked with concern.

Starsky paused briefly and took a seat at the table. He looked up at Hutch sympathetically.

“They found Jeanie.”

“And…”

“She’s dead, Hutch.”

“No. Aaah, no.”

Now, it was he who took a seat.

“She washed up on shore yesterday.”

“What about the kid?”

“No sign of him, I’m afraid.”

“DAMN!” Hutch said again.

“I’m sorry.” Starsky uttered as he placed a supportive hand on Hutch’s shoulder. “Dobey’s got Blake and Mosey on the case.”

“Blake and Mosey? What about us?”

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Starsky said with shock. “After what you went through four years ago? What we went through? No way. Dobey wouldn’t put us on this case if we were the last cops within a thousand miles. And, quite frankly, I think he’s right.”

“What? What are you talking about Starsk? We are the only two detectives that can nail Forest and put him away for good!”

“I don’t think we should touch this case with a ten foot pole.” Starsky said with finality. “Now, I’m sorry about Jeanie, I really am. But, you’ve got to put it all behind you. Just forget about it. Please, Hutch.”

Hutch slumped in his chair knowing full well he should take Starsky’s advice. He would have to let it go in order to get on with his life. But, could he?
After several moments of uneasy silence, Hutch turned in his seat to face all the food he’d prepared. Starsky had waited patiently for Hutch to digest all the information that had just been thrown at him.

“Well, let’s eat then.” Hutch resolved. “It’s getting cold.”

“You okay?”

“Physically, yes. Mentally, no.”

“One out of two ain’t bad.” Starsky jabbed, trying to lighten the mood.

Hutch gave his partner a stale stare.

“Go on.” Hutch urged. “Eat!”

“Are going to have some?”

“You know me Starsk. I love to live dangerously.”


PART TWO

The needle got closer. He could feel it’s beautiful sting as it pierced his skin. A warm feeling of adrenaline surged through his body. It was euphoric. Hutch looked down at his arm only to see it oozing blood. The sticky red stuff ran down his forearm and dripped off the ends of his fingers. He was standing in a puddle of it as the heroin pleasure suddenly turned to intense pain. Jeanie’s screams echoed in his ears. A thick film of sweat soaked his entire body as he tried to free himself. He had to save her. But, he was paralyzed, his feet planted to the floor. He started to struggle. Panic set in…

“NOOO!”

Hutch jolted awake. He gasped for breath – his heart beating out of his chest. The veins in his neck pulsed making his head throb. The nightmares had returned. He looked around to orient himself. He was home, in his own bed. At least that was comforting.

He slowly lowered onto his back again, trying desperately to control his heart rate and respiration.  He rested his casted arm across his abdomen. His arm no longer hurt, but the itchiness was as annoying as hundred mosquito bites. Once Hutch had recovered somewhat, he glanced at the clock – its red letters read 5:59. At that moment the dial flipped and the alarm sounded loudly startling him yet again. He took a swipe at it with his good hand and it flew across the room, smashing against the far wall finally silencing its ear piercing sound.

Hutch took a few moments before sitting up and swinging his feet to the floor. He felt awful. Today was Jeanie’s funeral. Hutch had arranged everything. It was the least he could do for her. He knew she had no family. That fact just added to his feeling of gut wrenching guilt. She had no one and he had failed her.

After a long, hot shower, Hutch put on his best suit and waited for Starsky to pick him up. It was 8:30 am when Hutch noticed the Torino parked outside his apartment. They drove to the chapel in silence. The ceremony was brief and only a few of Hutch’s friends attended – Huggy, Dobey and his wife and fellow officer Minnie. Kiko was there, too.

The small procession moved slowly to the cemetery, and the group gathered around the gravesite for a final prayer. But, the minister was mildly distracted when a black limo rolled up to the rest of the cars and parked. It was then that the others also took notice. They watched as the driver got out and moved to the back door and opened it. A small boy got out first, followed by Ben Forest. Ben took the boy’s hand and walked somberly toward the casket. He brazenly joined the mourners.

Starsky could see Hutch’s demeanor change from sadness to burning ire. He knew Hutch was about to bolt to confront Forest and he firmly took Hutch’s forearm to suggest restraint.

“Later.” He whispered sternly. “Not here. Not now.”

Hutch took a deep breath and nodded at the minister to continue.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” He paused momentarily. “Today, we lay to rest our dear friend Jeanie and we pray that her soul will be received in heaven by our Holy Father. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers and remember her with fondness and love. Amen.”

“Amen.” The small congregation answered.

After a moment of silence, they began to disperse. They tried to ignore the obvious upset this strange man and boy had caused Hutch. Besides Starsky, only Captain Dobey and Huggy knew who he was. They feared Hutch might do something rash. It wasn’t hard to see that Hutch was infuriated by his presence. Again, Starsky grabbed his friend to try and instill some sense of sanity.

“Listen. Take it easy.” He insisted. “Don’t say anything in front of that kid.”

Hutch stared intently at his partner but said nothing.

“Now, let’s get in the car and go to the Captain’s house like we planned. Please. Come on Hutch… let’s go.”

Hutch took Starsky’s counsel and they began to walk slowly toward the cars. But, when he passed Forest, Hutch had to kneel down to come eye-to-eye with the boy.

“What’s your name?” He asked gently.

“Jeremy.”

“I’m so sorry about your mom, Jeremy. She was a really good person.”

A single tear dripped from the child’s eye. Hutch rose and was now face-to-face with his tormentor – Ben Forest.

“How dare you come here, Forest.” He seethed.

Starsky was still holding Hutch’s arm, but now much more firmly.

“You haven’t seen the last of me. Watch you’re back, Forest… watch – your – back.”

“The boy has a right to say good-bye to his mother Officer Hutchinson. I’m committing no crime by paying my respects.”

“You’ve got a hell of a nerve!” Hutch hissed.

“Let’s go.” Starsky urged. “Now!”

Hutch blistered a searing look into the Forest’s eyes before breaking away and following the others to the vehicles. They all got in and drove away leaving Forest and the boy at Jeanie’s grave.

********

 Edith Dobey had prepared a lovely brunch for everyone. She insisted on having a reception for Jeanie. It was really for Hutch’s sake. She cared about him very much, and wanted to contribute to his plans.

The guests milled about the dining room where trays of sandwiches, hors d’oruves and salads were beautifully laid out. The guests made quiet small talk and complimented the hostess, but they were all cognizant of the elephant in the room. Hutch sat brooding on the sofa, alone. Finally, Starsky had to talk to him. He sauntered into the living room and stood over his friend with his arms crossed. He was slightly irritated.

“Hey… Hutch. Mrs. Dobey went to a lot of trouble here. The least you can do is pretend to enjoy it.”

“How could he Starsk? How could he come to the funeral of the woman he murdered?”

“Hutch. That’s enough. We’ll talk about it later. This is not the time or place. We’re supposed to be thinking about Jeanie.”
 
“I am! I am thinking about Jeanie!” Hutch blared.

“No, you’re not. You’re thinking about yourself.” Starsky said directly. “You’re thinking about revenge.”

Hutch looked up woefully at his partner, his eyes flooded with angry tears.

“Starsky… I can’t… I don’t know…”

Hutch broke down.

Starsky sat beside Hutch and comforted him. But, he was somewhat confused at why his partner was so upset. After all, he hadn’t seen Jeanie in years.

“Hey. Take it easy. What’s going on here? What’s this really all about?”

Hutch tried to collect himself. He finally did and wiped his face with his sleeve.

“I have to go.” He announced suddenly.

“Well, okay… I’ll get the car and drive you home.”

“No. I’ll get home on my own.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Hutch got to his feet and sheepishly approached Edith. He thanked her for her generosity and sympathy and left the house. The gathered friends seemed stumped at Hutch’s behavior and sudden departure, but tried to be gracious. All Starsky could do was shrug and apologize. Captain Dobey pulled Starsky to the side and gave a simple order.

“I want to see you two in my office first thing Monday morning.”

*******

Starsky and Hutch sat quietly in the captain’s office. He had yet to arrive to work. Starsky had not seen Hutch since last Thursday at Jeanie’s funeral. He was sincerely worried about his friend’s state of mind, but reckoned that when Hutch wanted company he would ask for it. At least, that’s what he hoped. He called Hutch Sunday night to tell him about the meeting at the station the next day.

When Dobey finally entered the office, he grunted a good morning and immediately went to the coffee machine and filled his cup. Hutch did not acknowledge his superior at all. He just stared blankly into space occasionally chewing on his lower lip.

“Did you have a good weekend Captain?” Starsky asked cheerfully, trying to break the ice.

“Could have been better.” Dobey replied dryly.

“Oh, well… mine was pretty good. I went to…”

“Can it Starsky. No small talk today. We’ve got a problem here.”

Hutch continued to focus on nothing, seemingly not hearing anything.

“Problem Cap? What problem?”

“Look at your partner Starsky. He’s lost it. He needs help. He’s set on going after Forest. He thinks he killed Jeanie.”

Finally, Hutch glanced across the room at both men.

“He DID kill Jeanie.”

“Hutch.” Dobey said with a steady tone. “I forbid you to go anywhere near Ben Forest and that’s an order.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.”

“You can’t FORBID me from doing anything!” Hutch blasted.

“Now come on.” Starsky got up and stood between them. “Let’s talk about this. No need to get hot under the collar.”

“Hutchinson. If you don’t obey my order, I’ll have no choice but to…”

“But to what Captain? Fire me?”

“I think you should take a leave of absence. As a matter of fact, I insist that you take a leave of absence.”

“I’ll take a leave of absence alright. I’m going to take down Ben Forest if it’s the last thing I do. And, I don’t care if I’m carrying a badge or not.”

“Hey… Hutch. Take it easy. We can work this out.”

“Stay out of this Starsky! This is between Forest and me. You’ve made it perfectly clear that you have no interest in supporting me in taking down that scum and putting him back where he belongs.”

“Wait a minute, here.” Starsky protested. “I’m trying to keep you from getting killed!”

“Well, I’d rather die trying than sitting around here pretending that he’s not responsible for all this.”

Hutch was standing now. His face was red with fury. He could barely contain his rage.

“I have assigned Blake and Mosey to this case and you are not to interfere.” Dobey demanded. “ And, if I hear that you have impeded their investigation in any way, I’ll have you arrested for public nonsense. Is that understood?” Dobey barked then settled. “Please Ken. For your own good, please do as I ask.”

“Captain.” Hutch said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his badge. “You can take your ultimatum and stuff it!”

He threw the wallet across the room almost hitting Starsky and stormed out of the office.

“You know I’m right… don’t you?” Dobey asked the remaining detective.

“I don’t know about you Cap, but there’s more to this than meets the eye. I’ll get to the bottom of it. I’ll be in touch.”

“Starsky?”

“Yeah, Cap.”

“You do that. But, mark my words. Hutch is playing with fire. I don’t want him to go through what he did four years ago.”

“Believe me Captain. Neither do I.”

******

 “Hutch?” Starsky knocked shyly on Hutch’s apartment door. “Hutch? Let me in please.”

“It’s open.”

Starsky entered the small flat to find Hutch sitting at his kitchen table. He was cleaning his gun.

“Who you planning to use that on… Dobey?” Starsky said, trying to be funny.

But, Hutch did not see the humour.

“It needs cleaning, that’s all.” Hutch replied without taking his attention away from his chore.

“Want a beer?” Starsky asked.

“No.”

“Mind if I have one?”

“Help yourself.”

Starsky opened the fridge and pulled out a beer. He popped the cap and took a seat across from Hutch and took several gulps for courage.

“Listen… aaah, we gotta talk.” Starsky said gingerly.

“Go ahead, talk.”

“Okay, then. I’ll get right down to brass tacks. Quite frankly, I think this whole tirade you’ve been on these last few weeks has nothing to do with Jeanie.”

Hutch stayed intent on polishing his weapon.

“I think…” Starsky continued, “You’ve never really gotten over what happened.”

Hutch finally stopped his tinkering and put his tools down. He leaned back in his chair and looked intently at his partner. Starsky, moved forward and placed his elbow on the table. He pointed his finger at Hutch.

“You have never come to terms with being kidnapped and tortured. That’s what this little tantrum is all about, Hutch. You want revenge for you… not for Jeanie or her son.”

“Little tantrum?” Hutch murmured. “Little… tantrum?”

“You were terrorized. They injected you with heroin and there’s was nothing you could do about it. You were helpless. All that pain you went through… you’ve never really gotten over it, have you? It’s always been there, hasn’t it? Right under the surface. All these years, it’s always been right there tormenting you day in and day out.”

“ You think you know everything, don’t you?” Hutch sounded defensive.

He clenched his jaw tightly and sighed deeply. He fought the urge to leap across the table and beat the crap out of Starsky. He was so angry. He didn’t want to listen anymore. He felt like he could jump right out of his skin. At that moment, he felt like he could explode.

“No. I really don’t know anything. What I do know is that we’ve kept what happened to you a secret all this time. I know that it has haunted you and I know that you can’t keep it in any more. You want to scream so loud that Forest is a monster, that you can barely contain yourself.”

“Oh really? Is that what I want to do Starsk?” Hutch fought for control.

“Yes. It is. And, I know that if you don’t deal with how you’re feeling and right now, you are going to self-destruct and I’m not about to let that happen. No way.”

“Who do you think you are? Sigmund Fraud.” Hutch sniffed.

He knew Starsky had hit the nail on the head but still battled to conceal his agony.

“No. I’m no shrink… I’m just your best friend.”

Hutch’s chin dropped to his chest and he closed his eyes tightly. It took several moments for Hutch to finally respond to his partner’s spot on revelation.

“I can’t sleep.” Hutch muttered softly. “I don’t think I’ve slept in a long time. I’m so tired Starsk. I can’t eat. I can’t stop crying.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know what to do? When I heard Jeanie’s voice a few weeks ago, it all came flooding back. I couldn’t handle it. I don’t think I’ve ever handled it.”

“I know.”

Hutch looked up at Starsky, his eyes wet and red.

“Help me.”

“Dats why I’m here buddy. I’d love nothing more than to help you.”

The men stood and embraced. The relief Hutch felt was as euphoric as any drug. He knew he’d need therapy, but he finally felt free. Freer than he’d felt in years.

 

EPILOGUE

Officers Blake and Mosey came through. They focused their investigation on Forest’s thugs. They found priors on all three of them, arrested them and made them deals. For ratting on their boss, they would receive lighter sentences. Over a six-month period, Blake and Mosey gathered enough evidence to incarcerate Forest for life. They found that he not only ordered the attack on Hutch, but also had Jeanie sign over custody of Jeremy. When she did, he had her murdered.

Hutch did not have to testify at Forest’s trial, something in which his psychiatrist advised would have been detrimental in his recovery. It simply wasn’t necessary. The trial only lasted a few days. The evidence was overwhelming and the jury’s deliberation was swift… guilty on all counts.
Hutch got better and got back to work. He had no idea he’d bottled up his bitterness for so long. With therapy, and the support of Starsky and Captain Dobey, he became a stronger man; a whole man… a happier man. He was finally free of all of it. His life no longer jeopardized by what his shrink diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Hutch could continue his career as a police detective. The suffering was finally over.

THE END

 

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