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by Charlotte Frost
As Starsky trotted up the stairs to Hutch's apartment, he wondered if they
were going to have a chance to talk to Jack Taylor before going into work.
He likely held some clues to the recent murder of a showgirl. Taylor was a
snitch who ran a second-hand clothing store, and so far he hadn't responded
to any of the messages Starsky and Hutch had left yesterday.
Starsky had reached the landing and knocked once. He heard bare feet
approach the door, and a moment later the lock was pulled back and the door
pushed open. When it had swung back enough for Starsky to enter, Hutch,
dressed only in blue jeans, was walking away with a towel wrapped around his
"Good morning to you, too," Starsky greeted as he crossed the threshold.
Hutch took a sip from a glass of orange juice and carried it into the
Starsky glanced at the kitchen to see if anything on the counters looked
edible. It didn't, so he took out his wallet and found a little slip of
paper with a phone number. "Gonna try Jack Taylor again." He started to
dial, while listening to sounds of Hutch sifting through drawers.
The phone was answered on the second ring. "Hello?"
"This is Sergeant David Starsky with the LAPD."
"Yes, Sergeant, sorry I haven't gotten back to you. I understand that you
think I may be able to help you concerning a murder."
"You understand right. Shall we meet you at your shop in about twenty
"Uhh... considering the delicate subject matter, I think I'd prefer to meet
you somewhere else."
Starsky was used to that sort of reaction. No one liked cops around, asking
questions. "You name it."
"How about the park at the comer of Slate and Owens?"
"I know where it is," Starsky said, though he hadn't been in the area
before. "What time?"
"I can be there in a half hour or so."
"We'll be there. How will we find you?"
"I drive a powder blue Chevy and wear a blue business suite with a bow tie."
"All right. My partner and I will be waiting." Starsky hung up. "It's all
set with Taylor." Hutch had just walked past him to the bathroom, now
wearing a t-shirt. He took his toothbrush from the holder.
Starsky sat on the edge of the sofa. "Is there a particular reason why
you're not saying anything this morning?" Hutch was often very cheerful in
the mornings. But occasionally he was moody. And if he was moody, he was
either particularly critical or non-communicative. In the latter case, the
thing he hated most was being asked how come he wasn't talking. Which
usually got him talking.
Hutch started brushing his teeth with an aggressive action.
Starsky moved toward the bathroom. "You aren't giving me the silent
treatment, are you?"
The brushing paused, and Hutch looked at him with a glare as if to say Stop
asking stupid questions.
At least it was a reaction. Hutch continued brushing and Starsky moved on to
deductive reasoning. "So, if you aren't mad at me, you must be mad about
something else. And since we haven't started our shift yet, it can't be
anything that's happened at work. So.. .," Starsky trailed off, realizing
that didn't leave many possibilities. Delicately, he asked, "Did you and
Felicia have a date last night?" Hutch had been seeing her exclusively for a
couple of months now.
The brush stopped. Hutch pulled it from his paste-covered mouth and
muttered, "Not last night and not ever again." He started brushing again.
Starsky sighed. He knew why the "never again" had come about. A few days
ago, he and Hutch had gotten a lead on a murderer they'd been tracking for
weeks. Unfortunately, Starsky got the lead from Huggy at around midnight.
He'd called Hutch, knowing it likely that Hutch's warm bed was accompanied
by Felicia. Of course, Hutch had no hesitations about joining Starsky for a
very satisfying arrest. Obviously, sometime between being left behind and
last night, Felicia had decided being a cop's girlfriend wasn't the life for
Cheerfully, Starsky said, "Well, you know, I always feel it's best to know
these things sooner than later. Wouldn't want to find out a lady couldn't
handle being attached to a cop when you're already walking down the aisle."
Hutch spit into sink. Then he glared at Starsky again, as though to make the
point that the humor and cheer hadn't affected him.
Starsky stepped back while Hutch wiped his mouth, then followed him back to
the bedroom. "So... are you mad at her, or at life in general?"
"I'm not mad," Hutch said firmly, and then pulled a plaid shirt from the
"'Kay," Starsky said with resignation. He went to the sofa and picked up the
newspaper. A few minutes later, they were out the door.
"Maybe she'll call you," Starsky said. They'd been driving for ten minutes
in total silence.
"She won't be calling me," Hutch said, the stubbornness in his voice tinged
with a drop of softness.
Since Hutch sounded like he was trying not to stay mad, Starsky pressed,
"Did you like her that much?" He'd thought Felicia too much on the needy
side, and couldn't help but feel that Hutch was good to be rid of her.
"Does it matter?" Hutch countered, looking over at Starsky. Then his gaze
returned to the side window.
"Guess not," Starsky admitted, deflated. Then, more cheerfully, "She wasn't
good for you, Hutch. She's the kind of person who would always want to know
where you are every moment of every day. Trust me, buddy. You're better off
forgetting about her and moving on."
Hutch looked at him again. "Moving on to who?"
Starsky shrugged, not expecting the question. "There'll be others. Always
Hutch nodded. "Yeah. Always is." A thick swallow. "And the ending is always
Starsky took a deep breath. He decided he didn't want to stay on this
subject, for Hutch's words were too true. "Do you have any idea where Owens
Hutch pointed. "By that park up there."
"Oh. Must be the park we want."
They both were out of the car, next to the park, and looking around, Starsky
said, "Guess he's not here yet."
"Maybe he stiffed us."
"Didn't sound like it on the phone." Starsky nudged his partner. "Come on,
let's walk." He started out toward the little path that ran along a man-made
canal. "We can see Jack here if he drives up or not." Not sure if it was the
best thing to say, he added, "Besides, the exercise will do you good."
Hutch didn't comment, but started walking with him. There were large trees
overhanging the path, so maybe putting a little bit of nature in Hutch's
morning would cheer him up.
"So," Starsky said after five minutes of walking in silence, "did she tell
you you were a jerk and selfish and inconsiderate, or did she just say that
she couldn't be with a cop?"
Hutch's gaze was on the ground. Softly, he said, "What difference does it
make whether it was the short version or the spelled out version? Both say
the same things."
Man, Starsky thought. This
break-up had affected Hutch more than it should. It troubled him that he
really couldn't dispute what Hutch had said. So, he didn't say anything.
A pair of ducks paddling along the water beside them caught his eye. The
green head and neck of the male were such a contrast to the brown camouflage
of the female. He nudged his partner. "Look at those ducks. Funny, huh?" He
wasn't sure what he meant by that. "They seem so peaceful."
That brought a smile and a nod.
Starsky stopped and Hutch did, too. They watched the pair paddle around for
a moment. "They seem so content," Starsky marveled. "Just bein' together."
"Yeah, well," Hutch ran his hand back through his hair, "maybe they know
something we don't."
Starsky thought it a pragmatic statement, but when he opened his mouth to
reply, it occurred to him that it might be true. Hutch knelt down by the
edge of the stream. As Starsky followed, he said, "Maybe it's because they
know everything by instinct. Like, the male duck knows that he has to
impress a female, so that she'll choose him above all the other males. And
once she's chosen him, he knows that he'll be able to mate with her, and
they'll raise a family. And the next season, he'll have to try again with
another lady duck. But, he never has to stop and think about any of it. It's
all automatic. He's just following a pre-set plan. So, it's easy for ducks
and animals to be peaceful because there aren't any choices to make."
Hutch remained silent, gazing at the ducks.
Starsky thought he should draw some sort of conclusion. "But I'd rather have
choices and all the hardship that comes with it, instead of living on auto
pilot." He picked up a small branch and tossed it into the water, watching
the male easily glide away from it. "Face it, Hutch, bein' human is where
it's at. No way would I want to be anything else."
Hutch looked at him. "Yeah?"
Starsky nodded, not sure what Hutch's question was really asking. Was he
being doubtful, or wanting reassurance that Starsky's words were true?
Starsky stood and looked around at the cars parked along the road. "No sign
Hutch had also picked up a stick, but he used it to draw a little diagram in
the dirt. "Don't you ever get tired of the constant rejection?" His voice
Starsky shrugged. "Well... I guess I consider that part of life. I mean,
it's not like cops are the only guys who have to deal with rejection time
after time. Besides, it's not always the women who do the breaking up."
That brought a smile and even a little laugh. "Yeah, I guess that's true
"If you want my opinion," Starsky pursued, feeling bolder, "you shoulda
dumped Felicia before she dumped you. She wasn't your type."
"She was good in bed," Hutch said bluntly.
Starsky shrugged again. "Sorta figured that. Otherwise, I couldn't see why
you'd want to stay with her."
"So, I was selfish and inconsiderate and a jerk," Hutch said in a level
"Yeah," Starsky sighed, wishing it weren't so. But... "Wasn't the first time
and won't be the last."
Hutch grinned and tossed a pebble into the stream. "Thanks for your vote of
Starsky chuckled. He looked back out into the empty water. "Hey where'd they
Hutch gestured with a thumb. "Down that way."
"They do have the life," Starsky said with appreciation. "No predators. No
worries. Of course, they don't have Monday Night Football, either."
"Yeah, no Howard Cosell," Hutch chuckled.
Starsky laughed, relieved that his partner's humor had returned. He looked
back behind them. "Where's that damn Taylor?" He studied the traffic on the
streets, but still didn't see a powder blue car. He was aware that Hutch
hadn't commented. Turning his attention back to the bank, he saw his partner
was still tossing pebbles into the water, deep in thought.
Starsky decided to sit quietly. He was surprised when Hutch asked, "Do you
think you would want to be with women if it weren't for sex?"
"Huh?" Starsky asked automatically, disturbed by the question's seriousness.
Hutch gestured to the bend in the little stream, where the ducks had
disappeared. "Males and females only like being around each other for sex.
Otherwise, they don't want anything to do with each other."
"That's not necessarily true...
is it?" Starsky wondered. "Aren't some animals, like wolves, monogamous?
It's not like they can be doin' it all the time. So, they must be getting
something out of being together."
Hutch turned to look at him. "You didn't answer the question. I asked about you."
Starsky shifted uncomfortably. "WelL.. I guess if were honest, I'd have to
say that I can't imagine being interested in a lady if sex weren't a part of
it. But there's been a few women whom I really liked just bein' around. It's
not like we had to be doin' it for me to enjoy their company." He hesitated,
then, "I guess that's why wolves stay together, even if they don't do it all
the time. For companionship."
Hutch was still, staring at the water. Then, very softly, he said, "What if
the person you enjoy most for companionship is someone you'd never have sex
Starsky felt a flush of warmth course through his body. Of course, Hutch was
talking about him. He looked at the gently flowing water, trying to find the
little branch he'd tossed into it, but the branch had drifted away.
He realized he was taking too long to answer. Unsteadily, he grinned and
said, "That's why there's women. For the sex."
Hutch nodded repeatedly, as though satisfied. "Exactly. And you're a
selfish, inconsiderate jerk, too." He said it very gently.
"Guess I am," Starsky replied, wondering at the guilt that flushed through
him. If he deserved it. Somehow, he couldn't imagine that Hutch was trying to
make him feel guilty.
"Think about it," Hutch went on. "Men like being around their male friends.
Women like being around their girlfriends. There's lots of intimate things
that each will only share with their own gender, and not with their mates."
Starsky felt relief to find a hole in Hutch's analysis. "That's not always
true. Take my Aunt Rosie and Uncle AI. Other people have never meant as much
to them as they mean to each other. They're always first in each other's
book. And always have been."
"There's always exceptions," Hutch immediately rationalized.
Starsky lay back with a hand behind his head in the cool grass, determined
to be relaxed. "So, what's your point?" He made himself look at his partner.
Hutch had settled back onto the grass, as well.
"I don't have one."
"Yeah?" Starsky asked, not believing him.
Starsky wondered what to say next to draw his partner out, but the blond
spoke first. "Is that Taylor?"
Starsky rolled over and looked where Hutch was pointing. A man in a cheap
suit was emerging from a powder blue Chevy. "Yeah."
He and Hutch helped each other to their feet. As hands assisted and arms
entwined, fingers squeezed Starsky's shoulder.
The warm spot that had started in Starsky's chest expanded as he followed
He was wondering, thinking...maybe even wishing.
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