(C) June 2017 by Charlotte Frost

A sequel to Adoration



Hutch coughed while patting the dust from his flannel shirt and faded jeans. He shook out his rag, and then moved to the window and ran the cloth along the sill.

Starsky glanced out the window. “Ah! Pizza!” He quickly left their office.

Hutch just caught sign of the pizza sign as the car moved passed the visible part of the road, no doubt intending to turn into their newly paved parking lot. He felt that it was a treat to have a window in their joint office. After much discussion, they turned what was originally the building’s conference room into an office for them both, where they each had a desk at opposite corners. If one of them needed to meet privately with a client, while the other was in the office, then they would do so in the conference room, which had been previously described as the executive office.

Hutch wiped his hands on his jeans and left the office, went down the hall, past the restrooms on one side, and the break room on the other, and then turned the corner into the building’s main room, where Lois’s desk was nearest the door. The other employees, all also in casual clothing, began to gather around the open door of the conference room, where Lois, dressed in slacks and a turtleneck, had directed the delivery boy to put the pizzas, since that room was larger than the break room.

The employees were already diving into the three large boxes, when Lois took the receipt from the delivery man and said, “Let me write you a check.”

Hutch followed her, knowing he would need to sign it. She pulled open a drawer, which she already had organized, and took out a voucher check. Though she usually typed the checks, she quickly hand wrote this one, and then stood aside, while Hutch leaned over her desk to sign it. He tore off the top copy from the carbons, and handed it to the delivery boy. “Thanks so much.”

“Enjoy your pizzas.” The young man turned to leave.

Hutch told Lois, “You’d better grab some pizza before the guys demolish it.”

“It’s a hungry group,” she agreed, moving to the conference room.

The front door opened, and Hutch was pleased to see his mother and her boyfriend, Clark, enter, with Lanette following behind. “Hi, there. You made it just in time for pizza.”

“We just ate,” Lorraine said. “But we wanted to stop by and see your new place for ourselves.”

“Nick is babysitting Melinda,” Lanette added. Nick had already been given a tour the day after the closing had taken place a couple of weeks ago.

Starsky stuck his head out of the conference room, a pizza in hand, and Hutch said, “I’ll give them the grand tour. Save some for me.”

Starsky nodded and went back into the conference room.

Hutch stepped to the front door. “We’re still getting settled in, but most of the furniture is in place.”

Lorraine asked, “How did you get everyone to work on a Sunday?”

“We gave them an extra day off at New Year’s, with the understanding that they would have to spend a weekend helping with the move. We’re all moved out of the other place; we’re just getting everything set up.”

“Looks like you just paved the parking lot,” Clark said.

“Yes. We also had to get a new roof, before we moved in.”

Lanette glanced around. “You must have had to buy a lot of new furniture.”

“We did. It’s all financed. The phone system is, too. We’ve got a lot of new furniture, a new phone system where everyone has their own extension, and there’s three outside lines, and plus we decided that we had to get all new computers, because the technology is changing so fast.” That was another new loan, on top of the leases and the mortgage.

“This all must cost a fortune,” Lorraine said.

“We felt our growing business made it necessary.”

Clark indicated the window at the front of the building. “I see you’ve got your sign put up.”

“Yeah, David and I put the letters on the sign a little while ago. We’re hoping to attract some of the street traffic, especially for the ancestry stuff.” Hutch moved to the front door, and turned his back to it. “So, a person walks in the door and,” he gestured to the right, “here’s the waiting room area. This was all one big room, so we put that partition next to the conference room door, then Lois’s desk against the partition, so it sort of blocks off the waiting area from the rest of the room.” He indicated a stack of brochures on Lois’s desk. “We had those brochures printed up, for anyone coming in off the street, and who doesn’t want to wait, if no one is available to talk to them right away.”

Lanette asked, “What’s that clipboard on the wall?”

“That’s a sign-up sheet for the conference room. We thought it would be best if everyone writes when they want to meet with a client in the conference room, so nobody is waiting for the room to free up.”

Hutch moved to the left of Lois’s desk, with the others following. He indicated the group of partitions in the main area of the front room. “We’ve created four little offices with these partitions. We call them field desks, because they’re intended for our employees that spend most of their time in the field. But they each have their own desk — we’ve got two full time, at the moment — and have their own phone extension, and a desk with a file drawer.” He briefly glanced at Lannie. “One of the other desks can be for Nick, when he’s helping us with a case, and he needs somewhere to put his stuff.”

Hutch moved past the aisle to the right, and the copy machine against the wall, to an open door. “And then this office belongs to Kenny, who has been working with us for a few years.”

Clark asked with amusement “Did you flip a coin to decide who gets the offices?”

“No, we decided Kenny and Carlos would get their own offices, because they’ve been with us the longest, by far. We also got them both computers, though neither of them know how to use them yet.”

Hutch turned back to the aisle. “Down here,” he indicated the door on the right, as they continued to walk, “is another door that goes to the conference room. Then, next to it, is a small break room.” He entered and stood aside, so the rest could see. “That little round table used to be in my old office. We’ve got a microwave and a small refrigerator, so we can keep refreshments on hand for our clients.”

There were impressed murmurs, and Hutch moved to the back of the room and opened a door. “Then we’ve got this really nice walk-in supply closet, with all these shelves.” He flipped on the light, showing all the boxes on the floor. “Of course, it’s still going to take a while for us to get everything put away.”

Hutch led the way back out and indicated the other side of the aisle. “Here, we have two restrooms, male and female.” He came to the end of the aisle, and pointed left. “Here is Carlos’s office.” There were boxes on the floor. “And here on the right,” he entered, glad that he and Starsky had most of their items put away, “is my and David’s office.”

Lorraine asked, “All this space, and you’re sharing an office?”

Hutch grinned. “Yeah, we went around and around about it, and finally decided that we’d want to be in the same office, since having separate offices was sometimes an inconvenience at the old place. We can always meet with clients in the conference room.”

Lanette said, “It seems weird that you’re sort of in the back of the building, where you can’t watch over your employees.”

“We thought about all that. Actually, the conference room was intended to be the executive office, and this room was the conference room. But we thought it made more sense to meet with clients at the front of the building. Plus, we both sort of liked the idea of being back here, in an office with a window. Plus, we’re next to the break room, so we’ll know if we think employees are spending too much time there.”

“This is nice and roomy,” Clark noted.

“Yeah, like I said, it was originally the conference room. David and I like knowing what’s going on with the company, overall, so we thought that would be easier with us both in the same office. He’s sort of become in charge of the ancestry cases, and I’ve always been in charge of managing the traditional cases.”

“So, what do you think?”

They turned to see Starsky brushing off his hands with a napkin.

“Impressive,” Clark replied.

“It’s so much bigger than your other place,” Lorraine added.

“Yeah,” Lanette put in, “Nick was saying that your old place was getting way too crowded.”

“We’re really excited about it,” Starsky said. “Of course, tomorrow,” he glanced at Hutch, “it’s going to be back to the grind and working our jobs.”

“And figuring out how to pay for all this,” Hutch deadpanned.

Clark said, “Lanette was saying something about you guys having a horse that will be racing soon?”

Starsky’s expression brightened. “Yeah. Danny. Depth Charge is his official name. He was a two-year-old as of January 1st. Last week, a vet gave him a complete exam and took x-rays of his legs and all that, and gave a thumbs-up that he’s ready to go to the racetrack. So, he’ll be going to Santa Anita, near Pasadena, within the next couple of weeks, to start serious training.”

“Same trainer that trained Darla, his mother,” Hutch said. Even though Danny’s training bill would triple, once he was at the racetrack, Hutch realized he was excited about the idea of Danny racing soon, despite his prior concern that he might not be training as well as others in early lessons under saddle.

“Yeah. Mike Hawkins,” Starsky said.

“So, how long will it be before he races?” Clark asked.

“If everything goes all right, probably May or June.”

“Why would everything not go all right?” Lanette asked.

Hutch replied, “Racehorses are athletes. And, like any athlete, they can be set back by injuries, things like that. So, we just have to keep our fingers crossed that everything keeps going forward.”

“You’ll have to come watch him when he starts racing,” Starsky noted.

“Sounds like fun,” Clark agreed.

“I’ve never seen a horse race in person,” Lorraine said.

Lanette added, “Neither have I.”


In the evening, Starsky and Hutch had stopped for fast food, before arriving home. They both plopped down on the sofa, while Hutch mechanically clicked on the TV, as they felt the exhaustion of the long weekend.

Starsky looked over at Hutch. “Promise me something.”


“That you’ll give it a year before you start worrying about all the debt we’re in.”

Hutch snorted. “I’m not going to make a promise that I don’t think I can keep.” With a heavy sigh, he hoisted himself from the sofa, wishing that he’d picked up the mail before setting down.

“Six months?” Starsky called to his back.

Hutch didn’t reply, but knelt, with another groan, to gather all the mail from Saturday, that was still on the foyer floor. He brought it into the living room and deposited the pieces onto the coffee table.

“Anything interesting?” Starsky asked.

“Didn’t look at it.” Hutch sat down beside him. He looked from the commercial on TV to the stack of mail, which was dominated by a manila envelope. He reached for it. “What’s this?”

It was heavier than expected. “Daylight Publishing,” he read the return address in puzzlement, and then turned the envelope over to open the flap. He pulled out a slick magazine titled Bay City Living. Clipped to the front was a handwritten note.

“What is it?” Starsky asked.

Hutch read the note. “David, Thanks so much for spending time with me. I hope this helps your books sales. Beth Stockman.”

Starsky moved closer. “Oh, she’s the lady that interviewed me a while back.”

Hutch quickly browsed the article titles on the cover, and read, “David Starsky: An Interview About an Unusual Life.”

Hutch flipped through the pages, and stopped when he came upon a page that had a close-up picture of Starsky, and another photo of the front cover of their book. He remembered Beth Stockman taking the first photo when she’d visited their home a few months back to interview Starsky.

“It’s in question and answer format,” Starsky said, moving closer.

“Yeah. She must have felt that it would be best to have it in your own words.”

“I hope it helps it get more sales.”


Late the following week, Hutch entered the conference room from the hall door, with a clipboard and his yellow legal pad in hand. The man in room was tall, fortyish, with short dark hair. He was dressed in a tailored suit, and had draped his jacket over the back of a chair, which a leather satchel rested near. He stood looking at the wall decorations, which included framed articles of Starsky's and Hutch's most notable busts from their cop days.

"Mr. Huntington?" Hutch greeted.

The man turned. His clean features were stern.

Hutch held out his hand. "Ken Hutchinson. Nice to meet you."

The man shook his hand. "Phillip."

Hutch indicated the chair with a suite coat draped along the back. "Have a seat." He took the one next to it, as he glanced at the clipboard with the initial information sheet. "You want someone tailed?"

"Yes. My estranged wife."

"You suspect her of cheating?"

The man snorted. "That goes without saying. Actually, it's of no matter. I've had my liaisons, as well."

Hutch waited, as he flipped his yellow pad to a fresh page.

The man drew a breath. "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but I ask you to hear me out. I believe my wife will try to have me killed."

That was something Hutch hadn’t expected. "Why?"

"I'm worth a lot of money. I'm the CEO at a successful investment firm. I've been trying to get a divorce, and she has been fighting me tooth and nail. According to our prenuptial agreement, if we divorce, she will get very little from me. Whereas," he paused for dramatic effect, "if I happen to die, she'll get most all of my personal belongings, as well as my considerable wealth."

In a measured tone, Hutch asked, "Do you have any particular reason to be suspicious? Has she threatened anything?"

The man nodded at the articles on the wall. "You behave as a police detective, of course. But the police can't help me. Apparently," he added wryly, "I have to be the victim of a murder attempt before they'll do anything, without concrete evidence. I'm afraid the only 'evidence' I have is knowledge of her character. She believes in getting what she wants."

Hutch shifted in his chair. "Certainly, we can follow her."

"I can afford to pay you to have her followed 24 hours a day, for a considerable time."

The back of Hutch's mind began calculating the man hours. "Is there anything in particular you're looking for? Or, do you just want us to document where she goes?"

"Such documentation would be helpful. If you can find any evidence of her trying to plot my demise, that would be all the more beneficial.”

"Do you know of anyone in particular she might try to hire, if she does want to have you killed?"

"I've known little of her activities that past few years. Something that I now regret. She plays tennis regularly, she has friends where they participate in charitable activities. But," Huntington shook his head, "I don't know of any particular person of unsavory character, whom she might be associated with."

"All right then," Hutch said, "We'll need a least one picture of her, and an address where she's staying, and a list of places you know she attends regularly, and the people she normally sees.”


The trim figure of the long, dark haired Felicia Huntington moved to her red Porsche. She barley glanced at the ongoing traffic, before pulling sharply from the curb.

“Come on!” Starsky snapped worriedly.

In the LeBaron, since Starsky’s Corvette was in the shop to get a new muffler, Hutch had to wait for another car to go by, before he could pull away from the curb.

“This piece of junk is too slow,” Starsky grumbled. “The transmission sounds funny, too.”

Hutch pressed the accelerator, watched the Porsche turn right, and then had to slam on his brakes to stop at a light.

Starsky sighed, but seemed to hold back a retort, because gunning the light would have caused them to crash into oncoming traffic. Then he said, looking to his right, “She’s stopped, too. A big truck is pulling into traffic, in front of her.”

Hutch took his opportunity when traffic cleared, and turned right. He got into the left lane and passed a few cars, so that he was just a couple of vehicles behind the Porsche. As soon as the truck was finally out of the way, traffic began moving again.

“At least, she isn’t speeding now,” Starsky noted.

Hutch was grateful, too, that the Porsche was moving at a more casual pace. He watched as Felicia went right on the fork up ahead. “She’s turning onto Longram.”

Starsky picked up a clipboard and flipped through the pages. After a few moments, he said, “Her friend Beverly Miles is out this way. On Gordon Street.”

Hutch would have preferred that Felicia not meet with somebody they had notes on, since that would make it less likely that it could have something to do with planning a murder — assuming that Philip Huntington’s imagination wasn’t too far-fetched. Still, the longer this case dragged on, the more they could charge Huntington. If as many of those man hours as possible were put in by Starsky and Hutch themselves, they could keep expenses to a minimum.

Plus, it felt like old times, tailing a target together.

Ten minutes later, the Porsche disappeared through a gate in front of a brick, three-story house that was surrounded by an eight foot fence consisting of iron pikes, and tall trees.

Hutch drove a couple of blocks past the house, and then turned around to park at the curb on the other side. Trees blocked all but the very front of the house.

“Can’t see anything from here,” Starsky said, resigned.

“Which means they can’t see us.”

Starsky picked up the clipboard again and flipped through the pages. After a few moments of reading, he said, “She’s known Beverly since high school, and they’re pretty good friends.” He read further. “Beverly has been divorced for a few years. As far as Philip knows, she lives here alone.”

“Maybe they’re having tea together.”

“And maybe planning Philip’s murder. Too bad it’s illegal to bug the house.”

“Looks like we’ll have to uncover any murder plot with old fashioned police work.”

Starsky muttered, “Which is another way of saying that the longer it takes, the more we get to charge him.” He lowered the clipboard. “We both need new cars, buddy.”

Hutch couldn’t deny it — both the LeBaron and Starsky’s Corvette were eight years old — but quickly responded, “Not going to happen this year.” He was relieved that Starsky didn’t argue, considering the amount of debt they were already under.

After a few moments, Starsky shifted in his seat, and then looked over at Hutch. “So, since Philip told you that he suspects Felicia wants to kill him, because he ‘knows her character’, why would he have married her?”

Hutch shrugged. “He said that she’s used to getting what she wants. I guess, maybe, once she decided she wanted him, she used her feminine ways to get his attention.”

“That makes it sounds like he’s an innocent victim of their marriage.”

“Of course, he isn’t. But when a person wants to play that game of trying to catch somebody, they can be pretty effective.”

Starsky gazed at Hutch for an extended moment. “You ever miss it? Pursuing someone? Or having someone pursue you?”

Hutch shrugged. “I don’t ever think about it. Do you?”

Starsky watched the house. “I haven’t really, either. Not much point. Sometimes, the hunt could be fun, though. At least, that’s how I remember it.”

Hutch spotted the Porsche coming to the gate. “Ah, look at this. No time for tea.” He watched the gate open, and then the Porsche pulled out, and move away from them. He quickly turned the ignition, glanced to see no oncoming traffic, and pulled away from the curb.

“Two of them in the car. Maybe they’re going shopping together.”

“If so, it might give us a chance to eavesdrop.”

The Porsche stayed on streets that were away from major retail areas. Eventually, it left the district, and then accelerated on a two-lane highway that moved along the foothills. It finally slowed at the next township, pulling into a parking place at a curb. Hutch couldn’t find a spot, and eased by the Porsche, as both occupants left the car.

Hutch pulled into a parking lot that looked full. “Dammit,” he muttered.

Starsky cocked his door handle. “I’m getting out.” He opened the door and left the car.

Knowing that his partner was following the two women, Hutch turned his attention to trying to find a parking spot. There weren’t any to be found, as he looped around the lanes. He saw a car pull away from the curb on the opposite side of the street, and quickly waited for traffic to clear, so he could move across both lanes and pull into it.

He saw the two women sitting at an outdoor table at a cafe, along with a casually dressed man, who nevertheless appeared to be in their class of wealth. He saw that Starsky had leaned back against the wall of the cafe, a newspaper spread wide to hide his face.

Hutch picked up the clipboard and filled out the top sheet with the attached pen, detailing the time and what he was observing. He reached into the glove compartment for the 35mm camera he kept there, and rolled down the window to snap pictures of the trio at the table.

It was another twenty minutes before the group began to disperse. Beverly and the man briefly hugged, while Felicia reached across the table to shake his hand. The man left some bills on the table, and then began to walk toward the parking lot, while the two women returned to their car. Starsky had lowered his newspaper and began to follow the man — no doubt, hoping to identify the car he drove, as that was the key to finding out who he was.

Hutch started the LeBaron and decided they would have to abandon the women for now, as the Porsche was pulling away from the curb. He waited for traffic to clear, and then drove across the street to the parking lot, where Starsky was walking casually behind the man, who had his keys out, as he moved briskly along the rows of cars. Hutch stopped just briefly, so that Starsky could get in. The man glanced back over his shoulder, and Hutch moved slowly past him, so that their intent wasn’t obvious. He looped around to the next lane in the parking lot.

Starsky said, “He’s getting in a black Bentley.” He reached for the clipboard. “Get close enough to get the plate.”

Hutch moved the LeBaron at a snail’s crawl, while waiting for the Bentley to pull out in the next row. When it was finally heading toward the exit, Hutch moved a bit faster, since his row had the same exit.

While the Bentley waited for traffic to clear, Starsky said as he wrote, “A. H. C. 23. 75.”

“May as well see where he’s going,” Hutch said, as he followed the black car out of the lot. “You hear anything good?”

“It’s hard to say,” Starsky replied with a sigh. “If they were planning a murder, they were all being very careful with their language. But it was obvious that Ted — that’s the name I caught — already knew Beverly, and was meeting Felicia for the first time. It sounded like he’s going to get back with them about something.” Starsky shrugged. “Could be anything. He’s hardly a murderer for hire. Too spiffy.”

Hutch ventured, “Maybe he’s the one who’s going to hire someone.”

Starsky grunted. “Hard to imagine him knowing somebody who kills people. I think it’s a longshot.”

“At least, we can check out the license plate, and ask Huntington what he knows about him.”


Up ahead, the lights at a train track crossing began blinking. The Bentley accelerated across the tracks, just as the crossrails came down.

Hutch braked to a halt.

“Fuck,” Starsky said. “That’s a long fucking train, too.”

As the train’s warning horn blared, Hutch muttered, “I guess that ends our assignment for the day.”

Mandy sipped from her wine glass, from where she sat of the love seat, watching as the video footage of yearling Bri on the large television screen. Then the screen went black.

“That’s it,” Starsky said, clicking off the VCR. “I didn’t realize how little video we’ve taken of Bri, compared to Danny.”

Mandy glanced over at where he and Hutch occupied the sofa. “I suppose it’s natural to take more footage of your first.”

“We need to get more of Danny, now that he’s at the track,” Starsky said to Hutch.

Mandy asked, “So, when is Darla going to have another foal?”

“Next year. She’s at Golden Eagle Farm now, a couple of hours from here, where she’s being bred to a stallion named Golden Eagle.”

Hutch put in, “It’s just coincidence that the horse and the farm have the same name. The horse was bred in France. Ending up racing here in the U.S. until he was nine.”

“Yeah, hopefully, he and Darla can have a baby that will race that long.” Starsky snapped his fingers at Mandy. “Hey, would you like to come and visit the stable area at the track?” Then to Hutch, “We haven’t been to a track since before Darla was retired. Let’s get some footage of Danny training.”

Hutch said to Mandy, “Maybe we can do that this weekend. I’ll call our trainer, Mike Hawkins, and see when would be the best time to show up, once you let us know which morning would be best for you. They tend to train between six and nine, every morning. After that, they have to get the track ready for the afternoon races.”

“Sure, that sounds like fun.” Mandy placed her empty wine glass on the table.

“You can bring your father if, if you’d like,” Hutch said.

She was thoughtful a moment. “Actually, I think I’d like to bring my cousin, Millie She’s a big animal lover, and it’s been a while since she and I have been able to get together to do anything. We were almost like sisters, when we were young.”

“Sure,” Starsky said, “that would be great.”

“And no pressure on making a decision about buying into Danny,” Hutch assured. At dinner, they’d offered her whatever percentage of a share she could afford, if she was interested. “We’re committed to paying for his upkeep, regardless, so any investment money from you would just be a bonus.”

She rested her elbows on the knees of her jeans. “That’s so nice of you guys. But I wouldn’t want to take advantage of your being so nice about it. I mean, I feel that I shouldn’t be allowed to wait until Danny is racing, or whatever, and buy in if he wins, without having to pay for his upkeep before then. I ‘get’ that it’s a high risk endeavor, and I’m way too practical to invest more than I’d be okay with losing, if things don’t go well.”

Hutch glanced at Starsky and then said, “Maybe we can make it a year-by-year contract. Maybe we can put something in place by March 1st, and you’re in for your percent of all expenses and any winnnings, and each March 1st, you can decide to renew our contract, our not at all.”

She nodded. “That’s a thought. I’m thinking that I could probably do ten percent.”

Starsky was surprised that she was considering that much. “That would be great, but like we’ve said, we can’t guarantee that something won’t happen, in terms of injuries or whatever, and that Danny will even race this year. But if everything goes as planned, he could be racing before summer.”

Mandy was thoughtful again. “I think I’d like to try ten percent this first year. And if it turns out to be a bad idea, then it was a bad idea. But I’m fortunate that I don’t have a rent or mortgage payment, since the house I live in has been in my family for decades. I just pay my father’s rent, and he lives in a big apartment with a three other guys his age, so it’s not a lot.”

Starsky said, “Oh. I was thinking you lived with your father.”

“No. He used to live in the house, and when I decided I wasn’t going to marry my fiance, I didn’t want to someday be one of those people who is still living with their parent when they’re forty. And Dad was getting tired of maintaining the yard at his age, so we just worked out that he’d move into an apartment, and since he’s retired, I’d pay his rent, and move into the house.”

“That’s great that things worked out for you both,” Hutch said.

She sat back and crossed her arms. “You know, my family is really practical, like I said. We don’t have big arguments, or anything like that. We’re pretty much always in agreement about what makes sense. And with my job, doing technical writing, everything is just… so.” She gestured with a hand. “Everything is very precise. When I start on a project — which is usually some kind of instruction manual — I know exactly what the end result is going to look like.” She smiled. “I think that’s what intrigued me about horse racing. It’s completely different from that. You go to the paddock at the track, and see ten horses in a race, and they’re all so beautiful, and it’s all so colorful. And all the trainers and jockeys and owners and bettors — everybody thinks they have a chance to win. But nobody knows ahead of time who is going to win.” She nodded. “I like that about it. It’s so different from the rest of my life. I like the idea of owning ten percent of Danny, and having no idea whatsoever of how things are going to turn out.”

Hutch grabbed his and Starsky’s empty wine glasses and reached for hers. “Then I’d say you’re a good candidate to be a racehorse owner. I’ll have our attorney draw up a contract, and you let us know what morning you and your cousin would like to come to the track.”


The balding, pot bellied investigator Hal knocked once on Starsky and Hutch’s open office door. “Here’s the stuff from the library you wanted.”

Starsky accepted the manila envelope. “Thanks for picking it up.”

From his desk in the far corner, Hutch asked Hal, “You’re going back to work on the witness case?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I think he’s in Seattle. Just have to make a couple of calls.”


When Hal turned away, Hutch rolled his chair over near Starsky, who was opening the manila envelope, and bringing with him the thin file marked Theodore Asbury Rosecroft. According to the DMV, he’d been the 42yo driver of the black Bentley that they’d tailed last week.

“Let’s see what we got,” Starsky said as he spread out the half dozen xerox copies along the counter top between their desks.

Hutch picked up one. “Here’s one from the Who’s Who for Cornell University graduates.” He read, “Majored in Economics. Minored in Chemistry.” He quickly browsed through the rest. “Nothing much of interest there. Moved to this area in 1982.”

Starsky picked up a sheet. “Here’s a photo of him at a charity event, where he was on the Board of Directors.”

“That local?”

Starsky looked at the caption. “Yeah. Bay City.”

“I wonder if that’s how he knows Beverly Miles, who introduced him to Felicia last week.”

Starsky glanced at the other xerox copies that were newspaper clippings from societal pages. “There’s certainly nothing here that indicates he’d have anything to do with planning a murder.”

Hutch knew he was reaching when he said, “Except maybe him being a chemistry major would be helpful.”

Doubtfully, Starsky asked, “You mean to figure out how Felicia could poison Huntington?”

Hutch shrugged.

“Huntington made it sound like he and Felicia only talk through their lawyers. They don’t have any contact with each other, as far as we know.”

“Well, we always thought it likely she would hire somebody.” Hutch gathered the sheets and placed them into the manila. “I think we need to assume this is a dead end, and just keep following Felicia as long as Huntington wants to keep paying us.”

Starsky glanced at the big dry erase board on the wall, where they kept track of their jobs — Hutch the basic ones, and Starsky the ancestry ones. “Well, just make sure you don’t schedule us to do any tailing on Sunday morning. Remember, that’s when we’re taking Mandy and her cousin Millie to the track.”


Mandy and Millie decided to drive their own car that Sunday morning. Starsky and Hutch had left the womens’ names with the security gate, so they would be allowed in, and continued on to Mike Hawkins’ barn. They hadn’t seen him since before Darla had been retired.

“That him?” Starsky gestured, as he found a parking spot for the Corvette. Horses’ heads were sticking out the long row of stalls, and people were involved in various caretaking activities, with some of the horses being bathed, and others being tacked up in their stalls. The man in question looked slightly better dressed than the rest, and as tall as Starsky remembered.

“Think so,” Hutch said with a chuckle. “Looks like he might have put on a few pounds around the middle.”

Hawkins looked up as they got out of the Corvette, and quickly came toward them. “Hey, fellas. Good to see you again.” He reached to shake their hands.

“Hi, Mike. It’s great to see you, to,” Hutch said.. “Our guests haven’t arrived yet.”

“I have Danny scheduled to gallop with the last set, so hopefully that’ll give them time to get here. He’ll be going in a group with a couple of other youngsters, and they’ll gallop together, so they can get some experience with have other horses around them.”

Starsky said, “Great! But don’t let us hold you up. We know you got a barn to run this time of morning.”

Hawkins looked back toward the open door at the end of the barn. “Hey, Stella.” Then to Starsky and Hutch, “I don’t know if you remember Stella.”

“From Hutch’s fortieth birthday party?” Starsky asked.

A slim, long-haired blonde woman, in snug jeans, appeared. “Yeah, we got married a while back.” Hawkins reached for her. “Stella, you remember Ken and Dave? We were at their house for Ken’s birthday party a few years ago.”

She smiled at them. “Of course.” She held out her hand. “Nice to see you both again. You have Danny, right?.”

Hawkins said, “She handles all the bookkeeping and keeping the paperwork straight and stuff like that.”

“Yeah,” Hutch replied. “Danny is ours.”

Hawkins said, “I’ve got to get to the grandstand, because I’ve got a few doing workouts. Stella, why don’t you go ahead and show them Danny. They’ve got a couple of friends arriving who haven’t seen the backside of a racetrack before. Plus, they want to get some video of Danny.”

As Hawkins moved away, Stella turned and began walking down the row of stalls. “Danny’s down here. Three from the end.”

“So, did you grow up around horses?” Starsky asked.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “I’ve been around them my whole life. Used to do show jumping horses, until I messed up my knee in a fall. Sometimes, the barn I was with would come to the track to buy horses that weren’t racing well, but looked like they had the conformation and temperament to be good jumpers. That’s how I met Mike.” She reached to a dark bay head sticking out of the third stall. “Here he is.” She patted Danny’s dark bay neck.

Just as they greeted Danny, Starsky heard a car drive up and saw that Mandy and her cousin had arrived.


The next hour was spent with Mandy oohing and aahing over Danny, and eventually the groom brought tack into the stall and begin saddling him. Millie was much more reserved. She was thin and a bit gangly, and slightly taller than Mandy. She didn’t have the easy smile that Mandy did, and while she seemed very interested all the activity, she didn’t ask any questions.

After Danny was saddled, the groom moved to the next horse that would be going out with him, and Starsky and Hutch decided to drive the women to the grandstand, where they could all watch. Starsky had taken charge of the video camera. They met up with Mike, who was watching activity on the track from the top of the grandstand’s first level. He had his stopwatch in his hand, and pointed at the first turn. “I’ve got the gray out there, Magical Lights. He’s going to be working a half mile. He’s the best horse in my barn right now.”

Mandy asked, “There’s so many horses out here at once. How do they keep from bumping into each other?”

Hutch said, “Everyone pretty much goes counterclockwise. Sometimes, a horse will go in the other direction, just to warm up, but they stay far to the outside. The horses that are just galloping, which is a racehorse’s basic daily exercise, tend to stay in the middle of the track. They’re supposed to leave the rail open for horses that are doing timed workouts, since they’re the ones going really fast.”

Starsky glanced at Hutch with a grin. “We haven’t been at a track in a few years, but it’s all coming back, huh?” Then, to Mandy and Millie, “There’s that gray horse, starting his workout. See him on the rail, on the far turn? He’s going fast now.”

Mandy shielded the sun from her eyes, “Yeah, he’s going faster than everyone else.”

Hutch leaned over the rail to look to their left. “Down there is the clocker’s box. There’s employees of the track that clock the horses doing workouts, so they can publish them in the Racing Form, so bettors know how well they’ve been training.”

“Oh, that’s where that information comes from.”

Magical Lights galloped to the finish line with his rider crouched low and urging with his arms. A moment later, Hawkins made a motion with his hand and looked at his stopwatch. “He’s as good now as he’s ever been,” he reported in a satisfied voice. “He’s running in a hundred grand stakes next weekend.”

“A hundred thousand dollar purse?” Mandy asked in amazement.

“Yeah,” Hutch said, then quickly cautioned, “but there’s very few horses that are good enough to be in races like that.”

Hawkins nodded toward the far end of the homestretch. “Here comes the Danny and the other two. They’re just going to have an easy gallop as a group. We’re letting them some experience with running with other horses, so they’re going to try to stay together as a group, and change positions after the first lap around the track.”

Starsky brought the video camera to his eye, while Mandy asked, “So, have they had workouts at other times?”

“No, no,” Hawkins quickly replied. “They’re all still a month or so away from being able to do timed workouts. They still need more conditioning, before their bones are strong enough to withstand being asked for speed. The more gradually we bring them along, the less chance of injuries that are going to set them back.”

Hutch noted, “There seems to be a lot fewer horses out now.”

“Yeah, the track will be closing in fifteen minutes or so, so they can get it ready for the races this afternoon.” Hawkins put his binoculars to his eyes.

All three horses that galloped abreast of each other were variations of bay. Hutch asked, “Is that Danny in the middle?”


From where they stood in the grandstand, they could hear the three riders talking loudly with each other, and one reached over and waved his whip at another.

“What are they doing?” Hutch asked.

Hawkins replied, “The riders are just making a lot of noise and waving their whips around, so the horses can get used to the sights and sounds of being in a race.”

While watching through the camera lense, Starsky commented, “They all seem pretty cool about it.”

With his binoculars at his eyes, Hawkins said, “The colt on the outside is tugging at the bit and getting a little anxious. Danny’s got his head tucked in, and just going with it.”

Proudly, Starsky said, “Like his Mom.”

Hawkins lowered his binoculars and glanced at Mandy. “Darla was one of the most level-headed youngsters that I ever worked with. It’s like she understood what she was here to do, from the very beginning.” He glanced back at Millie, who was watching silently, “Would you like to watch through the binoculars?” He held them out.

She shook her head, with a twitch of her mouth corner. “No, that’s okay.”

Starsky thought that perhaps Millie had felt left out, but she didn’t seem to want to engage any of the others, not even Mandy. He decided that she must be shy around strangers.

When the leisurely galloping trio came through the stretch, Danny was urged ahead, and then guided over the rail. The other two moved up to be outside of him.

To Hutch, Starsky noted, “Kind of cool seeing him pass the others, even if just for a moment.”

Mandy said, “Gee, there’s so much preparation that goes into getting a horse to race, isn’t there?”

Hutch said, “And incredibly expensive. You’ve just got to hope that it’s going to be worth it.”

Watching through his binoculars, Hawkins said, “Danny’s coming out of the bridle and throwing his head up some. He’s probably feeling claustrophobic, being on the rail.”

“But he’ll get better, with practice, right?” Hutch asked.

“Probably. Sometimes, horses are very particular about where they want to be in a race. Darla liked being outside of horses, because she was on the large side, and it was more comfortable for her to move around her competition. Others like to be ‘covered up’, surrounded by horses, like they’re part of the herd. And some like hugging the rail. They’re all different. My job is to adapt their training to their needs, so they can win races.”

Starsky briefly lowered the camera and squeezed Hutch’s hand. “Man, that’ll be so cool when Danny wins some races.”


They had been home from the track a few minutes when the telephone rang. Hutch stood at the counter while Starsky answered, “Hello?… Yes, Carlos?”

Hutch stepped closer to the phone, as Carlos was doing surveillance work today on the Huntington case. Starsky and Hutch were going to relieve him at five.

Carlos was saying, “… thought you’d want to know, in case you want to split up later today. Rosecroft, Felicia and Beverly Miles all met on Clarence Beach, and there’s no way I could get close to them without being noticed, because they were the only ones around. But they were joined by a Hispanic man, who definitely was out of place. They all talked for nearly half an hour, before the meeting broke up. They all seemed pretty subdued. No laughing or anything. They weren’t drinking. I followed the Hispanic man before I lost him on the highway. I got his plates. Drove a beat up old white Chevy, at least twenty years old.”

Starsky said, “Hutch and me will run it tomorrow. Definitely sounds like it could be something. Since you lost him, Carlos, why don’t you go ahead and call it a day. We’ll have to wait until we get the info on the plate.”

“Okay, will do.”

Hutch said, “Carlos, is there any possibility that money changed hands while they were on the beach?”

“No, I’m pretty sure I would have seen it. Nobody was taking notes, or anything like that. The entire meeting was just talking.”

“Good work.”

Starsky hung up the receiver. “Man, wouldn’t that be something, if the meeting turns out to have something to do with Huntington. What if the Hispanic guy is a hired hit man?”

“Then I guess it would mean that Huntington was right.”

“I’m thinking we should call him tomorrow, to just to tell him to be on the lookout for a Hispanic man driving an old beat-up Chevy, even if there hasn’t been any payment made. We can’t know when something might be going down.”

The phone rang again. Hutch reached for it. “Hello?”

“This must be Hutch?”

Hutch tried to place the voice. “Milton?”


“Starsky is here.” Hutch bent down to Starsky, while pulling the phone partly from his ear. “It’s Milton Bloomberg.”

Breathlessly, Bloomberg said, “Please tell me that you can drive down to Burbank tomorrow afternoon.”

“Burbank?” Starsky muttered.

“We can make time,” Hutch said, even as he mentally began to rearrange case assignments.

“Good. There’ s been a cancellation, and I have a contact that can get you on The Tonight Show tomorrow.”

While Hutch’s brain tried to digest that statement, Starsky asked in disbelief, “With Johnny Carson?”

“No, Carson’s on vacation. Garry Shandling will be the guest host.”

“The comedian?” Hutch said.

“Yes. I don’t know who else is on, but someone had to cancel, so someone who owes me a favor had been waiting for a slot to open up, so this is it. You might never get another chance like this. You’ll never reach as big of an audience, even with Carson not being there.”

Starsky met Hutch’s eye as he stuttered, “Uh, oh-okay. I guess we have to take this shot.”

“It’s the best publicity that you’ll ever have,” Bloomberg pressed.

Hutch felt his heart begin to pound. “At least, we have a little experience at this.”

“You’ll do fine. First thing in the morning, I’ll courier you a packet with all the information to get down there, and where to go, who to see. All that. Just promise me that you’ll leave plenty early and won’t risk being late. They’ll find somebody else at the drop of a hat, if they think you’re not going to show up. And don’t forget to bring a copy of the book, so Shandling can show it on camera.”

Firmly, Starsky said, “We’ll be there. Thanks a million.” He hung up and looked at Hutch with wide eyes. “Oh, man. The Tonight Show. Can you believe it?”

“Not really,” Hutch admitted.

“Do you think it’ll be okay? I mean, millions will be watching.”

Hutch shrugged. “Probably won’t be that much different than that other late night talk show we were on. Fewer people are going to be watching because there’s a guest host, and fewer still are going be watching to the very end. But there was a little boost in sales before, and maybe this will be even a bigger one, huh?”

Starsky gazed at him with wide eyes. “What if people start recognizing us? Even from that other show, Mandy remembered us.”

Hutch said, “Hopefully, if they remember us, it’ll be for good reasons and not bad ones.”


Garry Shandling looked at the camera, while holding a book. “And finally, my next guests are a pair of prior police detectives who ended up being partners in life. They’ve written a book,” he displayed the cover, “about their extraordinary journey, that takes us through some heroic events when they were cops, and later when they over-came health-related adversity, and eventually considered themselves married and started their own detective agency. The book is The Story of Us. Please welcome its author, David Michael Starsky, and his cop, business, and life partner, Ken Hutchinson.

The audience applauded, and Starsky, then Hutch emerged from the curtain with bashful smiles. Shandling stood beside his desk and shook their hands, and then they all sat down, with Starsky in the seat nearest to Shandling.

“This is quite an amazing read. I was browsing through it while in make-up, and I was entranced by some of the criminals you’ve met, and all the illnesses and injuries. But, after all that, the book seems to be saying that you never knew you were gay.”

Starsky shifted in his chair. “Well, we never thought of ourselves as that. We both liked girls, though we were always aware that we cared most about each other, I guess. You know, I think, across time, we’ve settled on bisexuality as the proper term for us.”

With a grin, Shandling said, “I take it that you aren’t currently dating girls.”

The audience laughed hesitantly, while Starsky said, “No, no. We’re exclusive. We consider ourselves as married as any husband-and-wife couple.”

“Which I suppose is preferable, in this day of the AIDS epidemic.”

“For sure,” Hutch said, while Starsky nodded.

Then Starsky said, “We’ve always thought it ironic that, had we continued our prior lifestyle of dating lots of women, that we actually would have had a greater chance of getting it.”

Shandling nodded. “It’s certainly not a gay disease, anymore.” He glanced at a card on his table, and then indicated the book. “There’s a chapter in here about how you had to find a hit man, when a potential plague hit Bay City a decade ago, since he was the only known person with antibodies in his system, from which doctors could create a serum.. And I believe you, Hutchinson,” he glanced at Hutch, “ were in the hospital with that virus.”

“Yes,” Hutch said. “That was a virus that I did get, and it was all up to my partner here,” he reached to squeeze Starsky’s arm, “to save me, by finding Callendar, the hit man.”

Starsky drew a breath. “That was a pretty rough time.”

“Seems like you fellas have been through a lot of rough times. Both physically and emotionally.”

“Yes,” Starsky said, “and taking care of each other, and looking out for each other, is all part of what made us closer.”

Shandling looked from one to the other, while grinning widely. “You two don’t look anything alike. And yet, you mention how people always get you mixed up.” The audience laughed.

Starsky and Hutch both chuckled. “Yeah,” Starsky said, “it’s like, we’re two completely separate people. And, like you say, we don’t look anything alike. And yet, when people look at us, they see just one body, I guess.”

Hutch said, “We were constantly having to correct people, when they would get us mixed up. In fact, even when we got our badges back, after a rough time when we’d thrown our badges into the ocean, the mayor got us mixed up when he gave us new badges.”

Starsky nodded enthusiastically. “It was incredible, how often it happened. People saw us as a single entity. Even when we would go undercover, and have undercover names, nobody could ever remember which was which, and we’d still be correcting people.”

The audience laughed again.

Shandling noted, “You’re both here now,” he glanced at the cover, “even though there’s only one name on the book.” Then to Starsky, “Are you Starsky or Hutchinson?”

Starsky smiled. “I’m Starsky. I’m the one who wrote it, so it’s my name on the cover. But,” he glanced at Hutch, “like the title says, the book is about us, it’s our story, so it seems appropriate that Hutch should be included in any discussions about the book.”

More seriously, Shandling asked, “And how have people responded to you being in a relationship together?”

“Thankfully,” Starsky said, “we haven’t had to worry about losing our jobs, or anything like that, since we didn’t get together, in the Biblical sense, until I was on medical leave after I was badly wounded. And after starting our detective agency, we’re the ones that own it, so….”

Hutch said, “With clients, it’s rarely an issue. If it happens to come up, most people don’t care. We’re good at one we do, we’re very professional, highly experienced, so if that’s what somebody wants for detective services, then that’s what we deliver, and so our personal lives are pretty irrelevant to our clients.”

Shandling shifted in his chair. “We all see P.I.’s on TV. What’s it really like being a private detective?”

“Well, not as exciting as what’s on TV,” Starsky replied. “We’re glad to not get shot at, anymore. But there is a lot of boring leg work.”

Hutch said, “By far, our most common case are cheating spouse cases.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said. “So, it’s nothing glamorous.”

“I assume it’s the wives who want their husbands tailed.”

“Usually,” Starsky agreed.

“Are they ever not cheating?”

The audience made a nervous noise of amusement.

“We see a few of those.”

Hutch said, “There was one guy that was actually going to the movies by himself, when he wasn’t home with his wife.”

The audience laughed.

Starsky put in, “And another time, a guy was sneaking away to watch the ball games of the son he’d had from a prior relationship. His wife never knew that he had a son.”

Shandling said, “You do talk almost like you’re one person.” The audience laughed again. “It’s like I’m talking to just one of you, rather than two separate people.”

Starsky shrugged with a smile.

Shandling picked up the book and turned to the audience. “The book is The Story of Us. It’s a fantastic read about an unusual relationship. Make sure you pick up a copy.” He turned to Starsky and Hutch and held out his hand. “Thanks for being on, fellas.”

On Wednesday morning, Hutch left the house to relieve Hal, from where he was watching the apartment of one Hector Rodriguez, who was the man that had met with Felicia et al at the beach last week. Starsky was headed to stake out Felicia, who had been watched overnight by Nick.

Hutch’s car phone rang, and he reached for the receiver. “Hello?”

Lois’s tight voice said, “Ken, I’ve called the police. The office door was vandalized overnight.”

“What? Vandalized?”

“Yes,” she said breathlessly. “Someone wrote ‘faggots’ on the glass door, in egg yolk. It’s all run down the door, and hardened overnight. It’s disgusting.”

“Oh, God.” They had hoped there wouldn’t be any adverse consequences for their increased publicity from being on The Tonight Show Monday night. Obviously, that wasn’t going to be the case.

“It won’t be easy to wash off. But I thought I should call the police, so they could make a record of it, in case something happens again.”

“You did the right thing,” Hutch assured. “There’s little chance they’ll ever find out who did it, but we do need to get a record on file.”

“Once they’ve taken pictures, I don’t know how I’m going to wash it off. But we can’t have that on our office door. There’s a couple of clients coming in today. Maybe I can cover it up with some paper.”

“Call a window cleaner.”

“I’ll do that. Just hope they can clean it up.”

Hutch sighed. “If not, we might have to get a new door installed. Hopefully, it won’t come to that.”

“All right. I see a police car coming down the street. I’ll let you know if they have anything useful to say.”

“Be sure and have them call me if they need any information from me. Surely, this is because of The Tonight Show appearance.”

“Yes, that’s what I figure, too. Are you going to call David?”

“Yeah, I’ll let him know.” When Hutch hung up, he decided to wait a bit. Starsky would be in heavy traffic before reaching Felicia’s. He pulled over to the curb of a block with apartments, and saw Rodriguez’s old Chevy in the parking lot of the building a couple of lots down. Across the street, Hal waved to him from his old black Ford, and then started his car and pulled away. Obviously, nothing had gone on overnight, or Hal would have paused to talk to him. Hopefully, Hector Rodriguez was going somewhere interesting today. He had a long criminal history, but they were all minor offenses.

As Hutch continued to watch the parked Chevy, his mind inevitably went back to the conversation with Lois. He was puzzled by his own lack of outrage at the idea of their building being vandalized. In a way, he decided, it was like a release valve. From before The Story of Us was ever published, he and Starsky had had some trepidation about making their story available to the public. They hadn’t had any notable negative fallout, until now. If this was the worst type of consequence they were destined to suffer, he could live with it.

His car phone rang. “Hello?”

“Hey,” Starsky greeted.

With puzzlement, Hutch asked, “Did Lois call you?”

“No, why?”

“Our office door got vandalized. Somebody wrote ‘faggots’ on the door, in egg yolk. Lois says the whole door is a real mess.”

“God damn it.”

“I know,” Hutch said with a sigh. “We knew something like this was always a possibility.”

“I wonder if we should call the cops.”

“She’s already done that. They were arriving when she called me. I told her to call a window cleaner. She seems to think it might not clean up very well. If that’s the case, we might have to get a new door.”



“Fucking jerk-offs. I guess somebody didn’t like us appearing on the Carson show.”

“Apparently not.”

There was a long pause, and Hutch prompted, “Why were you calling?”

Starsky’s voice was hesitant. “Well, uh, Nick is wanting me to teach him fishing.”

It took a moment for that to register with Hutch’s brain. “Fishing? From you?” There was no question that Hutch was the better fisherman between them.

“Yeah. At least, I know more than he does. I mean, he doesn’t know anything about fishing.”

“Then why the sudden interest?”

Starsky’s voice was bashful. “He’s wanting us to take a day off. Soon. Just the two of us.” Starsky swallowed. “I think something’s up, Hutch.”

Worriedly, Hutch asked, “You mean… with him and Lannie?”

“I don’t know. But I think the fishing thing is an excuse for he and I to have some time alone together.”

That didn’t sound good. But of more immediate importance… “We’ve got this case, buddy. We need all hands on deck.”

“I know. He knows it, too. But we were able to make the Carson show, and still cover the people we need to cover. I’m thinking, maybe, like he and I could leave really early this Thursday or Friday, and be back sometime the same night. Then we can take our turns and relieve people for the weekend.”

“You think it’s something serious?”

“I don’t know. I won’t know until we can get some time alone together.”

Hopefully, Hutch asked, “Any chance that he just genuinely wants to learn how to fish?”

“I doubt that’s the reason he’s wanting us to go away for a day.”


“Yeah, I agree.” Then, more casually, Starsky said, “Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe he just needs a break.”

Hutch could tell that Starsky didn’t believe his own words. He sighed heavily. “All right. Let me look at the schedule when I’m back at the office.” Then, “I hope to God he or a family member isn’t sick or something.”

“Yeah, same here.”

Hutch saw a short, stocky man walking toward the white Chevy, with his keys out. “I’ve got to hang up. Rodriguez is on the move.”


Starsky and Hutch didn’t see each other the remainder of the day. It was after seven when both arrived home. Mandy had left a message that she was dropping by the contract to buy ten percent of Danny, and she would leave it under the mat if no one answered the door.

As they gulped down rapidly made sandwiches at the kitchen table, Starsky said, “There hasn’t been anything going on with Felicia for days now. Did Rodriguez do anything?”

Hutch nodded, and swallowed his food. “I think he tried. I couldn’t get close enough to hear much, but he met with another Hispanic man at a park. After they talked a little, the other guy threw up his hands and backed away, like he didn’t want any part of whatever Rodriquez was saying.”

Starsky paused in his chewing and gazed at Hutch. “You think Rodriguez was trying to hire him for a hit on Huntington?”

“It’s possible. Or, maybe Rodriguez is doing the hit, and wanting someone else to help him set it up, or drive away the getaway car, or….”

“Did you get a license plate on the another man?”

Hutch shook his head. “I don’t think he drove. I just saw him at the park, and then walking away from the park. He probably lived somewhat near. It was along Macon and 17th Street.” That was a more low income side of town.

“Then, maybe Rodriguez will try to get someone else, huh?”

“Hope so. In any case, it’s starting to look like there might be a plan in the works.”

“Well, you got to figure that Felicia and Beverly and Ted Rosecroft are probably too upper class to get their hands dirty. So, we might be able to back off tailing them, and just focus on Rodriquez.”

“Yeah. Though I hate to do that, as long as Huntington is willing to pay us by the man hour.”

“Well, in any case, I don’t feel bad about the idea of Nick and I taking off for a day.” Starsky’s voice held the hint of a question.

“Yeah, go ahead. See what’s eating Nick.” The doorbell rang, and Hutch pushed away from the table. “That must be Mandy.”

He let her in, and as she approached the kitchen, dressed in a jeans and a red button shirt, she said, “Oh, I didn’t mean to interrupt dinner.”

“We’re done,” Starsky assured. “We’re eating later than usual, because we had a long day at work. Why don’t you come in here and sit down.” He led the way to the living room.

“Want anything to drink?” Hutch asked. “We’ve got a pitcher of lemonade, and there’s root beer.”

“A glass of lemonade sounds great.”

After they were all settled, Mandy reached to her purse and pulled out a folded group of papers, stapled together. “One of my Dad’s roommates is a retired lawyer, so I had him look this over. He thought it was very fair, but wanted to make sure that I was okay with not having my name anywhere official on the Danny’s papers. And I said that was fine, since I just own ten percent.”

Hutch noted, “Our attorney said that if we wanted to include you as a registered owner, the best thing would be to create a stable name, where all three of us are listed as owners, but that would be opening a can of worms, paperwork-wise, and you needing to get an owner’s license and all that.”

She waved a hand. “Yes, I don’t see any reason to go through all that, especially since this is just a year-to-year thing.” She smiled at them both. “I’m just so grateful you’re allowing me this opportunity, without it being the type of thing where I’m risking my financial future.”

Starsky shrugged. “Sure. It’s all the more fun for us, to have someone else involved.” He scratched his head. “I hope your cousin Millie had a good time on Sunday. She sure seemed awfully quiet.”

Mandy sighed, and then muttered, “Oh, she had plenty to say after we left.”

“What? What do you mean?”

Mandy placed the papers on the coffee table, and bowed her head.. “I feel like such an idiot.”

“Why?” Hutch demanded.

“I brought Millie along, thinking she would think it was neat that she’d see how the horses got taken care of and stuff. But, oh my God,” Mandy raised her head, “as soon as we left, she started in with all these reasons why she felt the horses were cruelly treated.”

“What?” Starsky asked on a high note, while glancing at Hutch in disbelief. “They’re treated like kings. Better than lots of people treat themselves or each other.”

Hutch emphasized, “And we’ve got the bills to prove it.”

“Millie would just say that all that ‘good treatment’ is treating horses the way humans would want to be treated, rather than how horses would want to be treated.”

Looking perplexed, Starsky demanded, “How does she know how horses want to be treated? Was she raised in the wild by a herd of mustangs, or something?”

Hutch gave Starsky a scolding look, since Mandy was merely being a messenger.

Mandy didn’t seem offended. “Not hardly. In fact, she doesn’t know anything about taking care of horses, or taking care of any animals, for that matter. Her family has always lived in rentals where animals aren’t allowed. She lives in apartment now, with a roommate.”

More calmly, Starsky asked, “Then how can she judge how other people treat animals?”

Mandy sighed. “She gets all these newsletters in the mail from all these animal rights groups, and ‘save the planet’ groups, and places like that. She reads all of them and believes everything they say, and then uses whatever propaganda they’re dishing out as a basis to judge other people.” More softly, she added, “I feel so stupid for bringing her to the track with me, and thinking she might actually enjoy it. I mean, even when the trainer — Mike?”

“Mike Hawkins,” Hutch replied.

“Yeah, when he was saying that Danny’s mother, Darla, ‘knew her job’ as a racehorse, Millie was talking about how incredibly ignorant he was to think that Darla would think being made to run around the racetrack as a ‘job’ that she’d ever agree to.”

Starsky protested, “Well, I don’t think he meant it like that exactly. Like, Darla or any other horse thinks like a human. He just meant… ,” he seemed to search for the words, “she was just really good at being a racehorse.” He looked at Hutch helplessly.

Hutch said, “As far as being made to run around the racetrack, tell that to the outrider guy, after Darla won one of her races by ten lengths, who had to help the jockey pull her up after the race, because she wanted to keep going.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said with a firm nod of his head.

Mandy gave them a wry smile. “You don’t have to convince me. I just miss Millie as a friend. Almost a sister. The Millie I used to know. I mean, you can’t even say to her, ‘It sure is a nice day outside’, because then she starts in about all the pollution.” Mandy suddenly brightened, and reached for the papers on the table. “Hey, I’m sorry to dump all this on you. Here’s the contract. Whatever Millie’s objections, I’m all in.”

As Hutch took the papers, he admitted, “I’m still curious as to what she saw Sunday that could possibly be considered abuse of the horses.”

Mandy shook her head. “She’s in a mindset where she can turn anything into a dramatic tragedy. Like that horse that was in the stall next to Danny? That had his foot all bandaged up?”

“Yeah,” Starsky said with puzzlement, “they said he had an abscess in his hoof.”

“Well, if he wasn’t a racehorse, he wouldn’t have to suffer having his foot all bandaged up.” Mandy said. “I pointed out to Millie that, when we were little kids visiting Grampa Frank’s farm, that his old plow horse once had her leg bandaged up, because she’d cut it on a barbed wire fence, and did that mean that Grampa Frank was treating his plow horse cruelly, since it was around barbed wire? Millie just said, ‘People don’t have a right to use horses for their own purposes.’”

Hutch sighed. “Well, I know one thing for sure. If horses and other animals couldn’t serve a purpose — couldn’t contribute to society — they would be extinct, because people wouldn’t have any use for them. And I happen to think horses and other domesticated animals are wonderful additions to life, and I don’t want them to be extinct. So, I want them to keep contributing to society, like the rest of us have to.”

Starsky muttered, “Yeah, I wish somebody would tell me that it’s cruel that I have to go to work every morning and make a living.” He snorted.

Mandy raised her lemonade glass. “Here, here.”

After they all drank a moment, Starsky said more amiably, “Look, kiddo. Hutch and I both have experience with problems with family members, including siblings. Maybe Millie’s just trying to find herself. Seeing where she fits into life. I remember, when I asked, she said she worked retail, and I know those types of jobs don’t pay much. It didn’t sound like she has much going on in her life. I suppose, next to such an accomplished career woman as yourself, she might feel sort of lost.”

Mandy tilted her head, as her mouth fell open. “Oh. I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

Pleased with Starsky’s effect on their guest, Hutch added, “Don’t give up on the idea of having a relationship with Millie.”


“I thought you knew how to fish,” Nick grumbled as, with his jeans rolled up to his knees, he helped pull their rented rowboat to the shore. Being a Thursday, they’d only come across one other fisherman, and he was at least a half mile away.

Starsky defended, “I know a little.” He made sure the boat was far enough up on the bank that it wouldn’t slide back into the water.

“Then how come we didn’t catch anything?”

“It wouldn’t matter if we had. We would have just had to throw them back.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because if we would have kept them, like for dinner, we would have had to clean them — cut them open and remove all their guts and other innards. I don’t want to be bothered with that.” Plus, he wasn’t sure he knew how to do a good job, though he’d helped Hutch a time or two.

Nick placed his hands on his hips. “You mean, you never intended for us to catch anything?”

“Well… not to keep.” Starsky moved up close to Nick. “If you’re really serious about learning fishing, then you should have invited Hutch along.” He slapped Nick in the chest, and then moved eagerly to their cooler. “Come on, it’s lunch time.”

While Starsky began to retrieve items from the cooler, Nick protested, “It just seems like we’re hardly ever able to spend any time together. Just me and you. As brothers.”

Starsky handed Nick plastic baggies with sandwiches, potato chips, and an apple. “And now we’re alone together. Come out, sit down.”

Nick looked dubiously around the sandy bank. “Do you think there’s, like, spiders or anything around here?”

“Such a city boy,” Starsky enjoyed scolding, knowing that Hutch often had similar thoughts about him. He took the cloth next to the cooler. “That’s why I brought a blanket.”

They spent the next fifteen minutes sitting on the blanket and eating their lunches.

 Eventually, Nick asked, while gazing at the water, “Do you think that Mom and Dad were always faithful to each other?” He slowly inserted a chip into his mouth.

Starsky looked at him side ways. “Where did that come from?” He was glad that Nick was finally talking about something other than fishing.

Nick shrugged and looked at him. “Just wondered. I mean, I have so few memories of Dad. He was a cop, surely worked a lot of hours. He could have easily had a fling, without Mom knowing. And she could have had somebody visiting her during the day, when we were at school, without him ever knowing.”

Starsky shook his head. “That’s rather far fetched, to think Mom would risk someone coming over.” He drew a quiet breath. “As far Dad, I never had any reason to think there was ever anyone else in his life. And that’s what I prefer to believe. Because there isn’t anything to be gained by speculating otherwise. We’ll never know, so….” He shrugged.

Nick looked back at the water, muttering, “Seems like everybody cheats. Our whole lives, every day, are filled with people wanting to know if their spouse is cheating.”

Starsky rationalized, “And I’m sure that a doctor would say that everyone always gets sick. But there’s lots of people that have never gone to the emergency room, or been admitted to the hospital.” While Nick continued to stare at the water, Starsky quietly ventured, “Trouble at home?”

“I hope not. Lan’s been having telephone conversations with a guy. Someone that frequents her stores. He’s married.” Nick shrugged. “She insists it’s all innocent, but sometimes I wonder if I’m naive to believe her.”

“Does his wife know?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t asked for many details.”

“Well… does Lanette know that it bothers you?”

“Sure. I mean, I was wanting to know who she was talking to so much. She just said it was a customer that she’d become friendly with, but there wasn’t anything romantic.” Nick abruptly looked at Starsky. “I can’t see trying to demand that she not talk to him, or something like that. I’ve always admired that she’s her own woman. I don’t want to be one of those husbands that’s bossing his wife around. Especially if it would just make her sneak off to talk to him.”

Starsky drew a breath. “Well, I guess it all comes down to whether or not you trust her.”

“I trust her. I just… I mean, we both know, from clients at least, that sometimes things can happen that no one ever intended to happen.”

“There is that. Keep playing with fire… somebody is going to get burned.”

Hutch had been in bed, dozing lightly, when he heard Starsky come in

Starsky sighed as he entered the bedroom, while starting to undress. “You awake?” he asked, reaching to flip on the bathroom light.

“I am now. What’s the verdict?”

“Nothing too terribly serious. At least, not yet.”

“What’s that mean?”

Starsky sat on Hutch side of the bed, while continuing to undress. “There’s some guy — a customer — that Lanette has formed a relationship with. He’s married and everything, but she talks to him on the phone a lot. Insists that it’s completely innocent, and Nick believes her. But he knows it can’t be headed anywhere good.”

Hutch couldn’t bring himself to feel judgment against his sister. “What’s he intending to do about it?”

“I don’t know,” Starsky muttered. “I tried to tell him he needed to make sure she understood how upsetting he found it. But he’s worried about coming off like he’s trying to tell her what she can and can’t do, because that’ll just make her sneak around behind his back and keep talking to the guy, anyway.”

While Hutch pondered what to say, Starsky pulled off the last of his clothing and tossed it aside. “I pointed out to Nick that they got together because of her being willing to cheat on her first husband.”

Hutch quickly defended, “She didn’t love Jeffrey.”

Starsky’s placed his hand on the covers, where Hutch’s leg was. “I know. But I told Nick some of the things you had told me, about your parents and how they both have always had affairs. I mean, I was just trying to make the point that Lanette might think it’s sort of normal. And then,” Starsky sighed, “that got us to talking about me and you, and I know you’d never cheat on me — emotionally, anyway.”

Hutch knew Starsky was giving him a pass, once again, for his single liaison with Anne Brookhouse.

“So,” Starsky continued, sitting with his elbows on his knees, “he felt that meant that it wasn’t imperative that Lanette would cheat. And I agree. But…,” Starsky shrugged, “anyway, I hope they can talk it out.”

“Yeah,” Hutch said softly.

Starsky turned to look at him. “Did you find out anything today?”

Hutch shook his head. “Rodriguez spent all day at home. Carlos is tailing him tonight. I called Huntington to discuss if he wanted us to keep going full force, but he agreed to backing off of Felicia and the others, if it looked like it wasn’t going anywhere. Maybe just tail them during the hours when they’re most often out and about. He’s happy to hear that there might be something going on with Rodriguez. Of course, he doesn’t recognize the name.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said, “since it looks like Rosecroft might be the one who brought Rodriguez in.”

“Hopefully, something definitive will pop soon.”

Starsky pushed off the bed. “I need a shower.”

In a lighter voice Hutch asked, “You and Nick catch anything?”

Starsky muttered, “Fish weren’t biting,” and turned on the shower.


“Starsky and Hutchinson,” Lois greeted.

“Get me David, right away.” Hutch demanded. Starsky had insisted that he needed to stay in the office today to catch up on ancestry cases, since they had been taking a back seat to the Huntington case.

“Sure,” she said.

After a few moments, Starsky greeted, “What’s up?”

“I think something’s going down,” Hutch replied, while keeping his eyes on the two men at the park. “Rodriguez is at the same park as last week. He’s meeting with someone else. A tall dark man, young looking. Big mustache. They’ve been speaking real intently, and just a moment ago, it looked like Rodriguez gave him some kind of photograph.” Hutch continued to watch. “And now they’ve moved to a bench, and it looks like Rodriquez is writing on a piece of paper.”

Starsky ventured, “Maybe directions?”

“Or a map. Or something. Hang on while I get more pictures.” He placed the receiver on the opposite car seat and picked up the camera. After getting a few shots, he again replaced the camera with the phone. “I’m going to follow the new guy when they separate.”

Starsky’s sigh was one of worry. “Who’s replacing you?”

“Carlos at four. But I’m going to want to stay on it, if something’s happening.”

‘Then I’m going to call Huntington and tell him that he needs to keep his body guards extra close.” Starsky hesitated. “Maybe I should join you.”

“I kind of doubt if anything is going to happen tonight,” Hutch noted. “You know, that Rodriguez would hire somebody the same day as the job. Really wish I knew what was on that piece of paper.”

“Did it look like any cash changed hands?”

“I’m not that close, but I really don’t think so. And besides, however this new guy is involved, he might not get paid until the job is over.”

“Yeah,” Starsky releted. “I’ll call Huntington now. Keep me posted about where you are and what’s going on.”

Hutch reached for humor. “Maybe Rodriguez was just passing along a grocery list to a relative or something.”

Starsky grunted doubtfully. “I’ll tell Huntington we can’t be sure, but he’d better be extra careful.”

“They’re separating. Later.” Hutch started the LeBaron.


“I’m leaving,” Lois called from down the hall.

“Okay,” Starsky said from his office. “Have a nice evening.”

Once he heard her close the front door, which had been thoroughly cleaned of the egg yolk, he was alone. There had been a few crank calls, including one asking, “Is this where the faggots work?”, but otherwise things were calm from their Tonight Show appearance. He wouldn’t have any way of knowing if their appearance helped his book sales, until he received his pitifully small royalty check next month. Maybe it wouldn’t be so small this time.

Hutch had last called a half hour ago, to say that he was following the new man, who had driven away from the park to an apartment, and then left the apartment less than hour later. Now, dusk was falling, and Starsky wondered where the man was going. He was wanting to head in Hutch’s general direction, and that was out toward the Pleasanton Cove area, which was where Huntington lived.

As Starsky straightened papers on his desk a final time, he considered that he hoped that something was going to happen. He was ready or the Huntington case to get resolved, so he could spent more time managing the ancestry jobs, which had increased since moving into this building, with the sign out front. They had almost no personnel available for the ancestry cases, other than Kyeesha, who’s regular hangout was the library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He left the building, while locking the door behind him. He had a paper with him, where he’d scribbled various notes that Hutch had relayed while pursuing their new target. After Starsky got in the car, he picked up the phone and dialed Hutch’s car phone number.

It was a moment before Hutch answered, as he was likely maneuvering through rush hour traffic.

“Hey,” Starsky said, “I’m leaving now. I’m going to head out toward Pleasanton Cove.”

“Okay. I’m four cars behind him, and it’s stop and go traffic on Clear Creek Boulevard. Just find it hard to believe that he’s actually heading for Huntington’s place this early in the evening. I bet Huntington isn’t even home.”

“I didn’t talk to him directly,” Starsky noted.. “Just left a detailed message that we think something’s up. Maybe the guy is just checking it out, so he can make plans for a hit at a later time. Besides, it’ll be dark soon.”

“Yeah.” Then Hutch abruptly said, “Oh, wait! He just made a right onto Placard Street. That’s going to take him away from Pleasanton Cove.”

Starsky listened to grunts of effort, and soft swearing, as Hutch was likely trying to make that same right turn in heavy traffic. Starsky himself was steering his Corvette onto a busy road, while holding the phone to his hear.

“It’s hard to know where he’s headed now,” Hutch said.

“What he’s driving?”

“Light blue Ford Mercury. Probably ten years old, or more. I’ll call you back when he makes another turn.”

“Okay.” Starsky gratefully hung up, because traffic was requiring his full attention, especially when he was trying to thread his way through as quickly as possible. He figured he was a good twenty minutes away from the intersection of Clear Creek Boulevard and Placard Street. At times like this, he longed for their old cop days, when he could use a siren to get traffic to move out of his way.

Ten minutes later, he was finally in an area where traffic wasn’t as thick, and he accelerated, grateful for the fewer stoplights. It was dark now. When the car phone rang, he answered, “Yeah?”

Hutch’s garbled voice said, “He’s gone left on Pierson and then right onto McKnight. We’re passing that huge Frankfort Appliances building.”

Starsky knew the building, and that it was in a manufacturing section of town. “I’m on Clear Creek, approaching Placard.”

“Oh, wait,” Hutch said softly. “He’s —— like ——to turn.”

“You’re breaking up.”

“I think —— stopping.” The garbled noises increased.

“Hutch?” Crap. Starsky slammed the phone down, and accelerated even more. Hutch was obviously in an area where his phone couldn’t get a good signal.

Starsky waited five minutes before trying again, but all he got was after dialing Hutch’s number was garbled air.

The manufacturing area was quiet, with most of the parking lots empty, when Starsky reached it. He slowed when he came to the Frankford Appliances building. Hutch had said he and his prey were passing it, but shortly after, he’d said that it looked the Ford Mercury was stopping, after taking a turn. Starsky picked up his phone, but all he heard was static, before he even had a chance to dial.


Starsky took the first right past the Frankfort building, and it was a short road that led to more buildings. He couldn’t spot either the LeBaron or the Mercury. He went back and crossed the main street of the area, to the other side. Here the buildings were smaller, one story, more like strip malls of small office units. When the street deadended, he made a wide arc to turn around in the nearest parking lot, and abruptly braked.

A car was parked at the back of the building ahead. From the exterior light a few yards down, Starsky could see that it was a light blue color. He couldn’t see anyone sitting in it.

He abruptly put the Corvette in reverse and backed up to the next building, and then turned off the motor. No one appeared to be around. No sign of the Mercury’s driver, or of Hutch.

What to do?

If Hutch was following the Mercury, then he had to be around here. And if he wasn’t here, nor his car, and the Mercury was absent its driver…. Was Hutch and the Mercury’s driver in Hutch’s car? If so, did that mean that Hutch had been kidnapped? Or, perhaps, had the car’s driver gone somewhere — perhaps gotten in a car with somebody else — and Hutch was now following them?

The latter thought made Starsky feel a lot better.

Step 1. Get out and look around, since I’m here. Step 2. Drive away until I can get in an area where I can call Hutch’s car phone.

Starsky got out of his car. Silence, other than occasional traffic on the road he couldn’t see, since he was behind a one-story strip of building. Still, he felt a sense of foreboding, and reached back into the car to his glove compartment, to remove the pistol he’d kept there, ever since he’d been robbed some eighteen months ago. He’d never felt inclined to retrieve it, except for shooting practice. Until now.

He left the Corvette’s door open as he moved toward the Mercury. He heard a car brake hard on the street, and then a curse, before two motors moved away from hearing range.

All was silent once again. Starsky was just a few feet from the Mercury. Please be all right, Hutch.

Acting on instinct, he swung around to the front of the car, his arms stretched out in front of him, as he held the gun on the passenger side.


Starsky released a breath, and then moved close to the window to peek in. With the exterior lighting, he was able to catch sight of a piece of paper lying in the passenger seat. It looked like a sketching. He caught the word “Frankfort”, and then realized it had to be a map to this place. Starsky reached to the door handle. It was locked.

“Hold it right there,” came a firm, female voice.

Starsky froze, as his heart kicked into high gear.

“Put your gun down on the ground,” the voice continued. “Slowly.”

Starsky wondered if he could swing around and overpower the woman. But she sounded like she was a good ten feet away.

There was the sound of a gun being cocked. “Now. Or I shoot you in the back and sever your spine.”

Starsky realized that he was breathing hard. Stay calm. “Who are you?” he asked, as he slowly bent to place his gun on the ground. Is this what happened to Hutch?

She snorted. “That’s a question that you’re going to answer about yourself. Kick it away, like a good boy.”

Starsky kicked it half-heartedly, as he slowly rose.

“My, my, that wasn’t very convincing.” Suddenly, there was a dull noise, as a ping hit the ground, and Starsky’s pistol moved a few feet farther away.

“My,” she said, “that’s some pretty good shooting, if I must say so myself.”

Starsky’s heart sank. In addition to the fact that she was a very good shot, her gun had a silencer. Still, he struggled for outrage. “Are you crazy? That bullet could bounce off the ground and hit one of us.”

“Well, it didn’t, did it?” Her voice hardened. “Who are you?”

Slowly, Starsky began to turn around, while pondering how he should answer. She was slender, dressed in black jeans and a dark red button tunic, with a cord around the waist. A stylish hat was atop her head, creating a shadow over her face, despite the lighting. “I was supposed to meet up with my buddy, so we could go clubbing together.” Where are you, Hutch?

She made a “tsk,tsk” noise, while holding the gun well in front of her. “What is it that makes men lie so easily? Do you pop out of the womb, with a well of lies already in your genes?” She tilted her head, causing the light to catch her face. “You lie about everything. You’re at least a half hour from some place, and you say you’ll be there in five minutes. You say you’ve got some big money coming in soon because of some fancy big project, and it’s years before any of the money comes — if it comes at all. You introduce your wife to your young cute little relative, claiming she’s some cousin from a shotgun wedding a few generations removed, and then you bang her, without any caring of even being caught.” Her voice hardened. “Let’s try this again. I know it’s difficult, but you’re not going to lie.” She tilted her head toward the next building. “I’ve noticed your Corvette following me a time or two.”

Starsky prompted his mouth corner to twitch. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Huntington.”

She snorted. “So. One of Philip’s bodyguards, then?”

Starsky decided to leave her assumption unchallenged.

“Don’t worry,” she said with feigned sympathy. “He won’t think badly of you. Philip is going to have plenty of concerns of his own, in the very near future.”

He needed to find a way out of this. “I suppose men do lie a lot. I was promised all sorts of bonuses when your husband hired me. He hasn’t come through. I’ve got a family to support. You pay me what he promised, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

Her voice grew soft, dangerous. “Oh, you men love thinking women are so stupid, don’t you? You love to think you can play little games with us, and so easily get away with it.” Harsh laugh. “Nice try, but I wouldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you.”

Starsky swallowed thickly. “Look, I’m no threat to you. Please, just let me go home to my family.” What did you do with Hutch? Despite his worry, he took heart that she hadn’t made any mention of Hutch.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded.

Answering was his only path to getting information. “I was following this car,” he indicated the Mercury. “It lost me for a while. Then I found it here. What happened to the driver?”

“The driver?” Another snort. “Then you don’t know his name. No matter. He’ll be dead before the night is over.”

She was giving him too much information. That was bad news, as far as her intentions for him.

She shook her head. “You men. So impulsive. You never think anything through. Promise you a little money, and you jump right on it, and never consider the consequences of your actions. Freddie will pay for his foolish impulsiveness when he’s no longer useful.”

So, the driver’s name was Freddie. Starsky wanted to keep her talking, even as he kept his ears perked to the road, which continued to have occasional traffic. “What about Hector Rodriguez?”

Her expression might have hinted at admiration. “His day will come. Unless we find further uses for him.” Her head tilted again. “What do you think he’s being used for?”

“To kill your husband.”

She flinched. “Oh, you make it sound so uninteresting. You’ve no idea,” she cooed, “of what I have in mind for Philip. I’m going to have a lot of fun with him first.”

Starsky allowed sorrow in his voice. “Do you really think the police aren’t going to figure out that any harm that comes to Philip didn’t have you as the mastermind? Is spending the rest of your life in prison really worth the death of a man that you don’t need to have any further contact with?”

Her eyes narrowed. “You think like a cop.”

He shrugged. “Used to be one. Then got severely wounded and couldn’t be one anymore.”

“Well,” she drawled slowly, “I bet whatever happened to you is something that Philip will be begging for, when I’m having my fun with him.” She smiled. “I’m going to castrate him. All by myself. So, so slowly.”

Starsky felt a shudder go up his spine. “You’ll have to capture him first.”

“Oh, don’t worry your curly little head about that. The plan is in action, as we speak.”

Starsky guessed, “You stayed behind, and let the others capture him, so you can make your grand entrance later?” Starsky caught the sound of an ill motor that sounded vaguely familiar.

“Something like that. And now,” her hand tightened on the gun, “you know far too much.”

It was flight or fight, and he wouldn’t be able to get away fast enough. He launched himself at her, just as he felt a searing pressure in his middle, and felt some satisfaction that the weight of his body was forcing her to the ground.

The familiar motor was now terribly loud, as they wrestled for control of the gun, Starsky trying desperately to ignore the pain in his left side.


He couldn’t allow his attention to be diverted, as he was trying to hang onto the gun, which was still had Felicia’s fingers curled around it.

Then a strong hand was there, taking the gun.

Starsky rolled away, his own hand pressing against his wet side.

Hutch was kneeling next to Felicia, holding her hands to the ground, as she squirmed. He looked over at Starsky with alarm. “Are you hit?”

Now that the fight was over, Starsky felt the pain all the stronger. He gasped, “Yeah. She shot me cold.”

Felicia spit at Hutch, as she lay pinned to the ground. “I hate you! You fucking bastards! Worthless dicks!”

Hutch grabbed the cord that was around her shirt, and began tying her hands behind her. “Hang on, buddy. Hang on.”

Starsky felt himself begin to tremble, as the adrenaline started to wear off. He watched as Hutch managed to unlock the trunk, while restraining the squirming Felicia, and them dumped her inside, on her stomach, before slamming the trunk down.

“Ah, Hutch,” Starsky said, as his love trotted to his side and squatted down. “Thought I might be a goner. She took me by complete surprise.” He nodded toward the Mercury, swallowing heavily. “Even had my gun with me. It’s over there.”

Hutch’s voice was wonderfully calm and gentle, but also concerned, as he examined the area that Starsky’s hand was pressed against. “We’ve got to get you to the hospital. My phone doesn’t work out here, so it’ll be fastest if I drive you.” He met Starsky’s eyes. “Think you can stand?”

Starsky was determined to do so. “Yeah. Think so.” He braced himself against the pain, as Hutch lifted him to his feet.

“I’m sorry, Hutch.”

“Shut up,” Hutch murmured tenderly.


Starsky felt relief when a weary-looking Hutch finally entered his hospital room.

Hutch moved to the chair next to the bed, and clasped Starsky’s hand. “Sorry I’ve been gone so long. The police questioned me for over an hour, before they were satisfied with my story. And plus, they had to wait until the situation at Huntington’s condo — which was where Rodriguez and Freddie were planning on kidnapping him — had been sorted out.”

Starsky made an effort to stay awake, as the anesthesia was still in his system. “Yeah, I figured. They were questioning me, too, in the emergency room. I told them everything I knew.”

“So, you had surgery?”

“Yeah. Minor procedure, all things considered. The bullet went into my side and sort of up. Didn’t hit anything vital though.” Starsky released a shaky breath. “Good thing you got there when you did. I think I would have been a sitting duck. She had a lot of fight to her.”

Hutch raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, no kidding.”

“Where were you?” Starsky asked in a small voice.

With his free hand, Hutch stroked along Starsky’s cheek. “As soon as the Mercury turned into that lot, I realized that I couldn’t turn in, too, because it would have been too obvious I was following him. So, I just kept going down the street, and then circled back. I turned into one of the adjoining lots, and I just caught sight of Rodriguez’s car pulling up next to the Mercury, and — Freddie Maranaro, I guess the name was — got into the car with Rodriguez. So, I decided to follow them. They started heading toward Lipton Beach, where Huntington’s condo is, and I was getting worried because my car phone was working again, but I couldn’t get through to you, since your phone wasn’t working, so that meant you were probably in this area, and I thought you might spot the Mercury, so I decided to come back, after I’d called Huntington and told him that something might be happening, and to call the police.”

Starsky wasn’t sure he followed all that. “Where In the hell did Felicia come from? I went up to the Mercury to check it out, and the next thing I know, she’s behind me with a gun.”

“Freddie and Rodriquez both spilled the beans on the whole plan — at least, the parts they knew about. Felicia’s friend, Beverly Miles, had driven her to that area, and dropped her off, and then Felicia was going to take Freddie’s Mercury, since she didn’t want her car anywhere near the scene of the crime, and drive it to some old, abandoned garage where they were going to take Huntington.” Hutch shook his head. “I don’t think there was any chance of pulling it off. Huntington had four bodyguards on duty, so they were ready, even if the police hadn’t arrived. If it had gone off as planned, Maranaro and Rodriguez were going to take Huntington from the condo to the garage, and wait to see what Felicia wanted to do, after she arrived there, which she was planning on doing at eight o’clock. She wanted to give Huntington plenty of time to wonder what was going to happen to him, once they had him at the garage.”

“She said she was going to castrate him,” Starsky said. “She was serious.”

Hutch shook his head. “God almighty. Nothing like a woman scorned.”

Hopefully, Starsky asked, “So, this case is over?”

“For sure. Huntington should be very happy that is ex-wife is sure to be convicted of attempted murder on you, and conspiracy to commit murder on him. We did our jobs.” Hutch sighed heavily and leaned close to Starsky. “I’m so sorry this happened to you, that I wasn’t there.” He stroked back through his hair.

Starsky swallowed thickly. “You were there when it mattered.”


A couple of days later, Mandy entered with a basket of flowers.

“Hey, Mandy,” Starsky greeted in pleasant surprise.

“Oh, thank God you’re all right,” she said, placing the flowers next to others on the window sill. She stood next to the bed. “When Hutch called me, I couldn’t believe it. After all you’ve been through… and here you get shot again. I’m so glad it wasn’t all that serious, relatively speaking.”

“Yeah, they say I’ll be able to leave tomorrow. I’ll just be sore for a while, until my flesh heals.” He nodded at a chair. “Have a seat and stay a while. My brother Nick and his wife — Hutch’s sister — left a little while ago. And I made Hutch go back to the office, because it’s tough on everybody when we’re both gone.”

She sat down. “I took a personal day, since I have a bunch of errands to run, and some can’t get done on weekends.” She put her hand to her chest. “I’m just so glad you’re okay. I can’t imagine what that must be like, getting shot.”

Starsky presented a wry smile. “Be glad that you’ll hopefully never know.” Then he asked, “So, what’s new with you?”

She drew a breath, “If you really want to know….”

“Sure. It’ll take my mind off how bored I am.”

“I love my father dearly, but I’m getting aggravated with him. I dropped off his blood pressure medication this afternoon, at his apartment, and he started in about how he didn’t know why I was wasting my time, getting friendly with two men who can never be interested in me. I told him that’s the very reason I liked being around you and Hutch. None of the usual male/female games.”

“Well,” Starsky hedged, “it’s not like we’re immune to the female gender. Or don’t like to look, but….”

“My father just feels like I should be out looking for someone who wants to marry me. I’m just not all that interested. At least, not now. I figure, if it happens, if happens. Someone will come along. But I’m enjoying my freedom. I’m not one of those women who feels that my life is pointless if I don’t have a date on a Saturday night. And I’m not even sure that I want children some day. I’m already thirty-two, and I don’t regret that I don’t have children.”

Starsky absorbed all that. “Well, I think Hutch’s sister, Lanette, felt that way. She was married to a man she didn’t love. Then fell in love with my brother, Nick, in her late thirties. Divorced her first husband, married Nick, and then had a gorgeous baby girl, after saying her whole life that she wasn’t interested in having children.” He shrugged. “Guess you just never know what can happen.”

“Exactly. But my father is from a generation where women are supposed to be married off in their twenties. He doesn’t realize that it’s a new era. He thinks I just sit at home and mope all day, because I’m not in love. He doesn’t realize how busy I am, and that I don’t get bored.”

“Well, he’s probably not going to change his viewpoint at this stage of his life. So, maybe you’ll just have to reach a peace with his outlook.” Starsky pondered what he wanted to say. “Hutch and I enjoy your company, too. But I wouldn’t want to think that spending time with us gets in the way of you meeting anybody. I mean,” he hesitated, wanting to choose the right words, “I hope we’re not… you know, an excuse, I guess… to hold yourself away from falling in love with someone.”

She firmly shook her head. “I not cutting myself off from anyone. Like you’ve said on those talk shows, one of the purposes of your book was to show people that sometimes love doesn’t happen in the way one expects, or society has always said it’s supposed to happen.” Then she smiled. “Let’s just say that I think you’re book was right with its point.”

Starsky couldn’t find an argument to that.


Hutch’s fingers played with his lower lip, as he stared at the carpet in Judith Parkson’s office.

Gently, she said, “I’ve never known you to be so quiet, for this long a time.”

He realized that he’d almost fazed out completely. He swallowed. “I just keep going over it and over it.” He looked up. “How did this happen? This is a case where we were supposed to follow various people and gather information. Like we always do. That was all. We were never supposed to be right in the middle of the shooting. So to speak.”

“Have you talked to David about it?”

Hutch shook his head. “No.” Then, “It really didn’t hit me, until a few hours ago. That’s why I called your office and was glad you could get me in. I mean, at the time that it happened, I think I was what David needed — I was calm and got him to the hospital. And then after being interrogated by the police, since they had to be convinced that we were one of the good guys, I was just happy to see David relatively well in the hospital, after he’d had surgery. And then I went home and crashed, and then after checking on him again, I had to get back to the office to keep things running.” He thought through the sequence of events. “And then when I was going through a fast food joint earlier today, it just suddenly hit me. He could have died. If I’d just been a few seconds later, he’d be dead. And my life, as I’d known it, would be all gone.”

She tilted her head. “From what I recall, from his book, you’ve had quite a few last-second saves.”

Hutch drew a deep breath. “Too many.” Pause. “I don’t want to play that game anymore. I want us both to live a long, long time.”

She muttered, “I’d hardly call it a game.”

Hutch realized how that sounded. “I just meant… it was part of our way of looking at things. All the danger and stuff. We knew one or both of us could buy it at any time. Then, we were willing to take that chance.” More softly, he concluded, “But not anymore.”

“How do you think you’ll prevent something like this from happening in the future?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I keep running it over and over in my mind. I-I-I feel like I shouldn’t have called him. I was following the one guy, and I was surprised that it looked like something might be happening that night — I would have expected a longer setup, once they had the personnel in place — and David wanted to rendezvous with me. I mean,” Hutch shrugged, “it was such a big case — the biggest we’ve ever had, as far as man hours, and it was reaching a conclusion.”

“It doesn’t sound to me like you talked him into putting himself into danger.”

“I know. But he didn’t know he was walking into danger, either.”

“Do you think he’s going to have some post-traumatic stress, like after the robbery?”

Hutch furrowed his brow. “I don’t know. He seems pretty cheerful, despite being in the hospital. I think, if anything, he feels bad that, you know, he’s going to need extra care for a while, and I’m going to have an extra burden with running the agency. I think… I think his primary attention is going to be on his recovery. With the robbery, there really wasn’t anything for him to focus on, except the fact that it happened. With this, I think he’s going to be focused on healing, especially since it’ll mean taking the burden off of me.” Hutch then managed a partial smile, when he realized, “I don’t want to be a burden to him, either — feeling guilty about it, or anything like that.” He shook his head, “But to just say ‘it’s one of those things’… it just doesn’t cut it.”

“I’d think, at some point, you’re probably going to need to talk to him about how you feel. You two had always have a habit of sharing everything. It’s not fair to you — or to him — to keep your feelings from him.”

“Virtually impossible to keep anything from him,” Hutch said with a snort.

Judith looked over at the clock. “Our time’s up. How about we schedule another appointment for next week?”


Hutch felt that his session with Judith had unburdened him somewhat, and he felt more light-hearted as he approached the entrance to the hospital, so he could take Starsky home.

He paused when he saw Nick emerging from the front doors, gaze lowered. “Hey, Nick. He ready to be sprung?”

Nick raised his head. “Huh? Oh, yeah. He’s all dressed and everything.”

Hutch furrowed his brow. “Everything okay?”

“Sure.” Nick started to walk past, his keys in hand. Then he abruptly turned and demanded, “How did this happen?”


Nick pointed. “My brother has been in there with a gunshot wound. Another one. And he’s not even a cop any more!” His voice trembled. “He could have been killed!”

Hutch swallowed thickly. “I know.”

Sputtering, Nick went on, “He’s not supposed to be in danger anymore! Neither of you are.”

The thought crossed Hutch’s mind that either of them — anybody — could get killed within the next hour, simply by walking across the street. But he knew that wouldn’t appease the anger — the fear — in Nick’s eyes. Any more than it appeased his own heart. “I wish I had the answer.”

Nick’s fist clenched. “I don’t want this to happen anymore!”

Hutch swallowed again. “I don’t, either.”

Nick started to turn away, but then looked back at Hutch, his eyes large. “You guys are wealthy. You shouldn’t have to do this, work this hard.”

A dozen thoughts crossed Hutch’s mind. It was way more complicated than that. They were under a ton of debt. They had a dream of a therapeutic riding stable. They had other people counting on them for a livelihood. Plus, neither he or Starsky could tolerate spending their days solely in leisure — which they couldn’t afford, anyway. But he knew that Nick didn’t want to hear any of it. He could only say, “I know you’re scared. I am, too. So is he.”

Nick shook his head, frowning, and walked away.



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