(c) June 2016 by Charlotte Frost


A sequel to Landslide



Hutch carefully eased himself onto the sofa in Dr. Judith Parkson’s office. He made sure his right arm was comfortable in its sling, and then looked up at her.

“So, you’ve had the surgery?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’m glad it’s over with, but the doc says it can take up to six months before my shoulder is back to a hundred percent.” He sighed.

“That’s surely wearing on your mind, as well as being exceedingly inconvenient.”

Hutch sighed again. “For sure. I’m supposed to keep it in this sling, and not move my shoulder at all, for six weeks. So, if I try to write something, I have to bring the paper or notepad real close to me,” he gestured, “so I’m not reaching out. And I’ve tried typing on my computer with the keyboard in my lap, and that’s really awkward. It got so impractical after the first day back, that David sent me home again. Plus, with the drugs I’ve been taking, I’m not much use at the office. So, I’ve been staying home and doing phone calls, and things like that. The surgery was ten days ago, and I already feel like a caged tiger.”

“I assume you can’t drive. How did you get here?”

“David has to drive me just about anywhere, unless I happen to be able to get someone else. He’s doing other errands right now.”

“How is he handling that?”

“He’s cheerful about it. Even when I snap at him, because I get so aggravated, being limited like this.” Hutch softly relented. “Not his fault. I know that. But sometimes….”

“Are you afraid he feels pushed away?”

Hutch quickly shook his head. “No, no. We have a long history of taking care of each other. A couple of years ago, he fell while running, fell into a splits, and pulled his groin muscles really bad. Couldn’t walk at all for a week, and that was a slow recovery before he was walking normally again. That was a rough time for him, but I just dealt with it. I knew there was nothing I could do, but be there for him, and do what needed to be done, as far as taking on his responsibilities and things like that. When he got irritated, I let it roll off, because I knew he wasn’t mad at me.” Hutch allowed a smile. “He’s really good at taking care of me. Don’t know what I’d do without him.” He felt a wave of emotion, and looked away.

After a long moment, she asked, “What are you thinking right now?”

He glanced back at her, his gaze lowered. “Sometimes, I feel l like such an idiot for complaining about this.” He indicated his sling. “Compared to things that David and I have been through in the past, this is nothing. It’s not life threatening.”

“Still,” she said gently, “it’s a huge adjustment.”

“I guess I sort of feel how David felt, about being robbed. So much that was life-threatening happened to us when we were cops. Now that we’re just regular people, I feel that life should be kinder to me. That I don’t deserve this.” He looked up at her with a bashful snort.

“I don’t think anyone would feel nonchalant about having their mobility limited for six months.”

“Still,” he lowered his gaze again, “in another part of my mind, I know I’m living the best life imaginable. I don’t want to be angry about how limiting this is. One day, it’ll be in the rear view mirror.”

“Yes. That is something to look forward to.”

Hutch brought forth the next thing he wanted to talk about. “It’s just going to look so dorky, on TV.”

She tilted her head in surprise. “TV?”

“Yes.” Hutch grinned. “You know, David had his book published a couple of months ago.”

“Yes, thank you for the copy you sent me. I appreciate it. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend the gathering you had at your office.”

He felt heartened that at least she acknowledged receiving a copy of The Story of Us. He didn’t want to put her on the spot, and asked if she’d read it. “It was really bad timing, but a few days before my surgery, David’s agent called and said a local afternoon talk show wanted us to be on.”

She brightened. “That’s exciting.”

“Yeah, but we couldn’t even consider it until I was past the surgery. But since the book is hardly selling at all, it needs the publicity. If we waited until I was out of the sling, we were afraid they’d lose interest. So, they have the taping scheduled for Thursday morning, next week. It’ll air the week after that.”

“What show is it?”

“We hadn’t seen it, until I was homebound recently. It’s just local, a half hour. We The Issues.” He looked up at her questioningly.

“I haven’t heard of it.”

“I’ve yet to run into anyone who has. So, it probably has a low viewership. They said that they’ll talk to us for about ten minutes, and then take questions from the audience for about ten minutes.”

“That doesn’t sound too strenuous, at least, not for your shoulder.”

“Yeah. It’s just that they said they’re also going to have a representative from the gay community on the show. You know, an activist. So, we think there’s going to be some animosity, because David and I don’t come across like everyday gay couples. We aren’t attracted to guys. David’s agent, who is gay himself, has always said that the gay community is unlikely to like the book, because it can come off to some like we’re trying to show how ‘normal’ we are, because of all the things that have happened to us, concerning relationships with women. We haven’t fought the gay fight, so to speak.”

She drew a breath. “I’m certainly not one who can say how others will react. I just know, when I read it, I found it engrossing, and a really lovely read.”

Hutch smiled warmly. “I’ll let David know. He’ll love hearing that.”

“It’s not like any book I’ve ever read before. I’d think that, as much as anything, would be a strong selling point.”

Hutch sighed. “I feel he did an incredible job with it. But,” he snorted at the irony, “we can’t even get family members to read it. At least, not any who will admit to it.”

“Tell me about that.”

“Well, his brother has read some of it, at least, but says he can’t stand to read the chapters where really painful things happen to David. That, I can understand. But if my sister read it, she hasn’t said so. My mother loaned her copy to a gentleman at the senior center. I doubt she read it, because we offered David’s entire manuscript for her to read, when she was visiting, when she still lived in Minnesota, and all she did was complain about a certain chapter not mentioning a movie actor she was dating at the time.” Judith was already aware of his issues with his mother. “We sent out a whole bunch of copies to more distant relatives, and no one has said anything.”

“That must be disappointing.”

“It is. And ironic. We spent a lot of time, worried about what what various relatives and acquaintances might think. Turns out, they aren’t interested enough to even read it. Or, if they did, they’ve got nothing to say about it.”

She held up a hand. “It might not make you feel better, but I’ve got some possible insight into that.”

He waited, eager for her enlightenment.

“Writing a story, especially one that is non-fiction, is a very intimate thing. On top of that, this book of David’s is extra specially intimate, which makes it unique and very heart warming. But a lot of human beings are uncomfortable with intimacy. It’s one thing to read an intimate book, in the privacy of one’s own home, so to speak. But quite another to know that the intimate thoughts you’re being exposed to is coming from someone you know. In a sense, it can be like seeing your relative naked. Most people don’t want to see their relatives naked, and are embarrassed for them, and for themselves, for getting that so-personal glimpse into their private life. So, it can be a very uncomfortable feeling.”

Hutch admitted, “I never thought of it like that. I’ll pass that along to David.”

“My guess is, that most of them probably read it. They just aren’t comfortable discussing it, at least not with the author directly.”

Hutch grinned, as a thought occurred. “But maybe discussing it amongst themselves?”

“I’d think that would likely.”

“I guess that’s something to consider.”

When he fell silent, she prompted, “What else is going on in your life?”

Hutch felt solemn. “A few days after the surgery, I made it to a funeral.”

Her eyes widened.

“Our captain when we were detectives, Captain Dobey, passed away from a heart attack.”

“Oh, my goodness. I remember seeing his name in the book.”

“Yeah. It wasn’t unexpected. His health had been bad for a while. He’d always been severely overweight. Still… it really makes one think about their own mortality.” He decided not to mention that Dobey had left him and Starsky with an assignment after he was gone — to find his illegitimate child.

She nodded. “Death has a way of doing that.”

He indicated his sling. “Just makes this seem all the more confining, when I just want to get on with my life, you know?”


He fell silent, sensing that she was waiting for him to say something else. He’d tried to pretend that he didn’t know what it was, but he did indeed know. The week after he’d gone alone to say goodbye to Anne Brookhouse, he’d had a session with Judith. He hadn’t intended to tell her about Anne, as he felt Judith would be disappointed in him, and that likely possibility bothered him greatly. But she had correctly deduced that he seemed to be talking around something that he had yet to say. So, he fessed up what he had done, and she was properly non-judgmental. Still, he sometimes wondered what she’d really thought.

Now, after silence stretched between them, Judith asked, “Do you feel certain that David has forgiven you?”

Emotion welled up in Hutch, as he muttered, “Oh, yes.” He looked up to meet her eye. “He doesn’t hold grudges. He’s always been pretty straightforward. He wouldn’t have said that he wanted to put it behind us, and then stew about it. If he felt mad or betrayed, he wouldn’t have hidden it. And, you know,” Hutch relented, “he was really furious, for a short time.”

She said, “I think he mentioned in his book that he can’t stay mad at you for more than a few moments.”

“Certainly not more than a few hours.” Hutch shook his head. “In a way, I understand why. Like he said, life is too short to feel mad at somebody when, you know at the end, you’re going to forgive them, anyway.” He batted his eyes, while lowering his gaze. “Still…”

“Still…,” she prompted.

Hutch shrugged as much as his sling would allow. “For as long as we’ve known each other, no matter what I do, he always ends up being okay about it.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Amazed. Cherished. Sometimes, like maybe I don’t deserve it.” His voice softened. “Sometimes, I wish so, so much that others could have what we have. In our profession, we see so many unhappy people. So many who have felt wronged by those they love.” He looked up at her. “How did we get so lucky?”

“I certainly don’t know the answer to that. But one thing I can say, even without having ever met David, is that you two are very nakedly forthright in your love for each other. You don’t say ‘I love him’ like it’s a learned line. In his book, and when he speaks of you, there’s an uncommon sincerity to the feelings behind the words. Perhaps you’re introducing, to those who are open to it, what real, raw, unconditional love actually is.”

Starsky was frantically trying to finish his notes, after having a lengthy conversation with their leading ancestry client, regarding various relatives, when Lois walked through his partially open door.

“David, have you signed those checks?”

“What checks?” He continued to type.

“Those checks I left on your chair,” she replied with forced patience. “The one to the county needs to go out today.”

“Why?” he asked off-handedly.

“It’s for personal property taxes. We’ll get fined if it’s late.”

He furrowed his brow, as he continued to type. “What do you mean, property taxes? We don’t own the building.”

“It’s personal property taxes. The furniture and office equipment. The business has to pay tax on the value of all our assets.”

“Really?” he asked in disbelief, still typing.

She demanded, “What did you do with the checks I put on your chair?”

“I dunno,” Starsky muttered, trying to maintain his train of thought.

She began leafing through his In basket. “I don’t see them here.”

He gestured with his chin toward the edge of his desk. “Look under there.”

She picked up his notebook. “Here they are. It’s a good thing I asked about them.” She leafed through them, then put one on his desk. “You need to sign this one right now, so I can get it out in today’s mail.”

Starsky sighed heavily, and then turned, grabbed a pen, and wrote his name across the signature line.

“Why don’t you do these others, while you’re at it?” She placed the others in front of him.

Starsky began to sign the rest of the stack. “Am I supposed to be looking these over?” He had no idea if that’s what Hutch normally did.

“They’re just the standard bills. If something is over five hundred dollars, I always ask Ken first if I should pay it. These are small ones.”

“There.” Starsky turned back to his computer.

“You need to sign this, too.” She placed a paper on his desk, with lots of lines and figures.

“What is it?”

“It’s the quarterly 941 form.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s for Federal payroll taxes.”

“How much do we owe?” he asked in alarm. Some of the lines had thousands of dollars on them.

“We don’t owe anything, because we pay the taxes after every payroll. This form summarizes the activity for the quarter. But we still have to get it in on time, or we’ll be fined by the government.” Her finger pointed to the signature line.

As Starsky signed it, he asked, “How do we know if the numbers are right?”

“Emerson’s firm fills it out, since they do the payroll.”

Starsky handed it back to her and grumbled, “Then why don’t they sign it?”

“The signature needs to be a corporate officer. You and Ken are the only corporate officers, and Ken isn’t here.”

Starsky was becoming all too aware of just how much Hutch handled, to keep their corporation running.

“And don’t forget,” she said, “you need to call in payroll to them by three o’clock today.”

Starsky looked up at her, baffled. “What do you mean, call it in? Don’t we get paid the same each time?”

“You, me, and Ken do. Everyone else is hourly.” As though talking to a child, she said, ”The accounting firm doesn’t know the hours, unless we tell them.”

“How am I supposed to know how many hours everyone had?”

She sighed heavily, and began looking around his desk. She checked his In box again and pulled out a piece of paper. “Here it is. I put it on your chair this morning, so you would see it. It’s everyone’s hours for the pay period.” She pointed to the highlighted phone number at the top. “Here’s the direct phone number for Joanie. She’s the one that takes our payroll information.”

He looked at it. “If you have the hours, how come you can’t call it in?”

“I’m not authorized to call in payroll. And, by the way, if we don’t get the big payment that the Shanker and Lawrence firm has promised us, we probably won’t have enough in the bank to cover the payroll.”

Starsky’s eyes widened. “Oh, God. I wonder what we can do to get them to pay.”

“They keep saying the check is in the mail. But if it doesn’t arrive by payday, then you’ll have to draw money from the line of credit to cover the difference.”

Relieved, Starsky said, “Okay, so you’ll take care of that? Call the bank, if we don’t have enough on payday?”

Exasperated, she replied, “I’m not authorized to transfer money. It has to be a signer on the account, and you and Ken are the only signers. The bank won’t give me the time of day.”

“Okay, then,” Starsky decided. “Let me know where the bank account stands on payday.” As she moved away, he muttered, “Thanks for all your help, Lois. I’m doing the best I can.”

“I know.” She glanced back at him from the doorway. “Just don’t forget about calling in the payroll, or you’ll have a mutiny on your hands.”

Hutch stood in the opening between the living room and the kitchen. Starsky’s expression appeared severe, as he intently went about chopping up vegetables. He had announced earlier that he’d found a stir fry recipe, as he was committed to making sure that Hutch ate plenty of vegetables, in lieu of more fattening foods, considering his lack of physical activity. Now, Hutch wondered if Starsky regretted plans for something that took so much time, with all the necessary chopping.

“And then Michael was saying that his camera ran out of film, just when he started taking pictures of the witness walking across the street,” Starsky went on, while continuing to chop. “So, he just got one photograph. Should have been more prepared.”

Michael was one of their newest employees.

Starsky frowned. “Don’t know if he’s going to work out.”

Hutch couldn’t take the heavy concern any longer. He moved to Starsky and softly said, “Hey.”

Starsky stopped chopping and looked up.

Hutch reached up with his left hand and brushed his thumb along Starsky’s cheek. Then he bent his head, and planted a light kiss on that open mouth.

“What’s that for?” Starsky asked, just as grim.

Hutch smiled. “I love you. I love you so much.”

Starsky shifted, and turned his attention back to the vegetables.

Hutch ran his hand along Starsky’s back, feeling the tightness of his shoulders. “Relax. It’s going to be all right. I know you’ve got a lot to juggle, but you’re doing fine.”

Starsky managed a crooked smile, while glancing at him. “Thanks.” Then, he muttered, “There’s just so much going on.”

“I know. You’re handling it.”

“How do you know?” Starsky asked mildly.

Hutch snorted with humor. “Well, since I assume there’s still a place for me to go back to work tomorrow, things can’t have been too disastrous.”

Starsky let a breath release from his body. His chopping motion was now calmer. “Hey,” he glanced up again, “are you doing anything about finding Darla a mate for next year? I thought I saw a phone message from the stallion division of the farm.”

“They wanted to know if we wanted to breed her back to Flying Paster next year. I told them that we might in the future, but I wanted to see what else is out there.”


“Yeah. So, I narrowed things down to a few, and talked to Julie.”

Starsky glanced up eagerly. “Yeah?”

“She’s a little less enthused, but I think I’ve settled on a horse named Golden Eagle.”

“Golden Eagle?”

“Yeah, he’s an old guy. Over 20 years old, so I figure if we’re ever going to breed to him, we should do it now.”

“What do you like about him?”

“He was a stakes winner in France, then here in North American. Raced through the age of nine.”


“Yeah. Julie said that’s highly unusual. So, there’s a good chance that he’s really sound, and likely to throw durable offspring. For that matter, he’s the sire of a handful of stakes winners here in California, including two Grade 1 winners. In fact, one of the other horses I was strongly considering was Beau’s Eagle, his best son. But Beau’s Eagle stands for $15,000 at the same farm, and is unproven as a stallion, since he was recently retired. Golden Eagle stands for $10,000 and is a proven sire; plus, like I said, we’d better get to him now, before he dies of old age, or starts shooting blanks.”

Starsky bent to pull a stir fry skillet from a cabinet. “But Julie doesn’t like him?”

“She just said that he has a traditional European pedigree, which emphasizes stamina more than speed. Since Darla already has a lot of stamina in her pedigree, Julie would prefer us to breed to more American, speedier sire lines, like Raise a Native or Bold Ruler or Northern Dancer, since American racing is geared more toward shorter races than the European ones. But there aren’t many of those bloodlines standing here in California, except for horses that were lacking as racehorses, and therefore wouldn’t be able to cut it in the Kentucky stallion market.”

Starsky grinned as he poured oil into the skillet.

“What?” Hutch prompted.

“You actually sound like you know what you’re talking about.”

Hutch muttered, “I’ve had plenty of time to read up on things.” Then, he realized, “Yeah, I guess I feel like I know some stuff, after two foals and reading articles and such.”

Starsky shrugged. “Well, Golden Eagle sounds fine to me. European pedigree or not, if he’s sired two Grade 1 stakes winners here in America, that means his offspring must have some speed.”

“That’s what I figure. Julie wasn’t saying he was a bad choice, just that she thought we might find better matches, but admitted we’d probably have to go outside of California again for that, and we agreed we were only sending Darla to Kentucky the once.”

“Yeah. That would be something, if we got a foal that could race for a lot of years.” Starsky looked up. “So, fine with me. Have you called the farm where he’s at?”

“No. Wanted to talk to you first. But I did call Tom Placing today.”

Starsky looked at him in surprise. “Why?”

“To ask who to contact to get an appraisal on our horses. Remember, Emerson wants to go over our personal finances soon. But he needs to know how much the horses are worth, to do an accurate assessment of our assets.”


“Tom said a bloodstock agent would do appraisals. Gave me the number of one out here. I called them and they said to mail them a check for seventy-five bucks, and the information on all three of our horses, and they’d send us an appraisal in a couple of weeks or so.”

Starsky tossed the vegetables into the skillet. “That’ll be interesting. And let’s call Golden Eagle’s people tomorrow.”

Hutch’s heart pounded as he and Starsky stood to one side of the entrance to the stage. He wasn’t sure that the practice interview that Milton Bloomberg had put them through had them fully prepared. It was impossible to know exactly what was going to happen ahead of time.

The small studio audience, which had been warmed up by a staff member, with jokes and anticipation of what the show was going to be about, was now clapping as the host, Melanie Stearns, walked out onto the stage, with the cameras rolling.

“And remember,” the producer, Greg Eckert, continued to quietly coach to them, “don’t give one-word answers, and make Melanie have to keep milking you for information. Say ‘Yes, and…’ and follow up with what you want to say.”

“Got it,” Starsky said, his voice sounding as nervous as Hutch felt.

Melanie was telling her audience, “And now, to our guests. They were highly successful detectives with the Bay City Police Department, suffered numerous injuries and other types of losses while protecting the city, were tighter than brothers in their partnership, which eventually evolved to into a full fledged relationship, if you know what I mean…” there was nervous amusement from the audience, “…and their fascinating love story in now a book called The Story of Us. Please welcome… David Starsky and Ken Hutchinson.”

“Go on.” Eckert stepped back.

Starsky walked out first, since he was going to sit next to Melanie. Hutch followed while the audience clapped, and wondered what they thought of his sling.

They quickly shook Melanie’s hand, as Eckert had said that greetings should be kept to a minimum, in order to save time.

They sat in the chairs, next to hers.

“Thank you so much for coming on,” she welcomed them.

“Thanks for having us,” Starsky said.

Hutch looked out at the audience. It couldn’t be more than a hundred people. The larger audience would be viewing through the TV cameras that were trained on them.

Melanie held the book, with the cover facing the cameras. “My producer picked up this book on a whim a few weeks back. He said he browsed through it, and was enraptured. I read it, too, and have never read anything like this. It’s a stunning emotional journey, about heroism and courage, and yet, most of all, it’s a love story.” She laid the book down on the small table, on her other side.

Hutch felt heartened by her words.

“Yes,” Starsky said, “that’s what I really wanted to write about, most of all, was how,” he glanced back at Hutch, “we’ve had such a terrific relationship. And…”

Since Starsky hesitated, Hutch wanted to help out. “The original intent had been for David to just write up sort of a chronology of our relationship. We thought he’d just leave the manuscript in a drawer, or something, for somebody to find, in case something ever happened to us. We both felt that nobody really ‘got us’, and why we meant so much to each other, so we wanted to leave something behind, that explained how we came to the relationship that we did.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said. “But once I’d caught up to the present, it just seemed like sort of natural step to see what somebody in the publishing world thought of it. So, I hired a consultant… and things went from there.”

Hutch put in, “Plus, the few people who knew that he was writing it, were always wondering why he was writing something without the intent to publish it.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said with a chuckle. “It really seemed to bother people that I was writing a book, without intending to make it into a book. So, maybe that influenced things, too.” He shrugged.

Melanie said, “Let’s cut to the chase here, so that the audience is clear. This is a book about a homosexual relationship. But you weren’t always in a homosexual relationship?”

“No,” Starsky said. And then, as though remembering what Eckert had coached, “At least, it wasn’t that to us, when we were cops. I mean, Hutch and me were always aware that we had an extraordinarily close partnership. But we were, I guess, flaming heterosexuals, one could say. I was never interested in guys, and neither was Hutch. I didn’t understand anything about that kind of life. But then, after nearly dying a couple of times, like I explain in the one chapter, we sort of figured out that we always wanted to be together, and the only thing we didn’t get from each other was sex. So….”

Hutch could sense Starsky’s embarrassment. Determined to be bold, in said, “And yet, at that point, it did seem natural. So, I guess, we don’t have an explanation for it. About why things happened for us, like that. Everything about our relationship seemed to unfold in a natural time line. We didn’t have to make any big declarations to ourselves, or anything like that.”

Melanie looked at the cameras. “Obviously, gay lifestyles are a controversial issue, and all the more so, since HIV and AIDS has become an unfortunate fact of the gay way of life, and has claimed the lives of many thousands, including movie star Rock Hudson. When we come back, we’ll speak with a representative of the gay community, who has some issues with the book.”

On cue from a man on the stage, the audience began to clap, and one of the cameras began to span across the seats.

Hutch squeezed Starsky’s hand, feeling that this was going amazingly fast. Eckert came up to Melanie with some papers, and leaned down to talk to her. Across from them, a thirtyish man was seated, and was being miked up.

They all nodded politely at each other.

Starsky said to Hutch in a low voice, “I’m less nervous, now that we’re out here.”

“Yeah,” Hutch agreed. Still, he wondered what was in store for them, with the man across from them.

“Let’s stay cool,” Starsky said, as though knowing what Hutch was thinking.

It wasn’t long before Eckert moved away, and someone next to the camera was holding up his fingers and mouthing, Three… Two…. One….

Melanie said, “We’re back, with our guests David Starsky and Ken Hutchinson, who are featured in this fascinating book,” she held it up again, “The Story of Us, about their lives as top cops, and then as lovers, or, as they call it, unofficial married partners. Joining us now is Kevin Flint, the director of the Bay City Gay Advocates organization.” She turned to him. “You’ve read the book?”

“Yes, I have,” he replied. “Frankly, I think it’s a slap in the face, to every young man, every teenager, who is wrestling with feelings of homosexuality.”

Hutch was glad that Milton had prepared them for this.

“How so?” Melanie asked.

“At no point, in the book, do they ever say that they’re gay. Just now, before the break, he,” Flint indicated Starsky, “referred to them as ‘flaming heterosexuals’. And yet, they’re in a relationship together. How is any confused teen supposed to come to grips with his own homosexuality, when he reads something like this, where two guys that are in love with each other won’t even say the words ‘we’re gay.’”

Melanie turned to Starsky. “David?”

“The reason for that,” Starsky said firmly, “is because the book is about us, our lives. What happened in our lives, is that we never went through an ‘oh, no, does this mean we’re gay?’ phase. If you’ve read the whole book, about all the times one of us nearly died, you would hopefully understand that, by the time we realized we wanted to be together, in every sense of the word, we didn’t care what anyone else thought. And, thankfully, we were in a position where we didn’t need to be worried about being fired from our jobs, or something along that line.”

Hutch put in, “We just can’t emphasize enough, that this book is about us, not about anyone else. It’s not intended to be a statement about anyone else’s life. We had a lot of near death experiences, and when you experience those things, you learn what’s really important, and questioning what kind of label we wanted to call ourselves, or what other people wanted to call us… it just didn’t interest us.”

Flint gripped the arms of his chair. “I’ve seen plenty of death in my life. I’ve lost dozens — literally, dozens — of friends and loved ones to the AIDS virus.”

Starsky said, “I’m sorry to hear that. Hutch and me want it cured just as much as anyone else.”

Hutch pointed out, “Also, when David made the statement ‘flaming heterosexuals’, he was talking about our past, how we’d lived our lives as single men. We obviously aren’t flaming heterosexuals now.”

Melanie asked, “Isn’t there a middle ground here? Bisexuality?”

Flint said, “They don’t even call themselves bisexual.”

“I’m pretty sure I saw that somewhere in the book,” Melanie corrected.

Hutch spoke first. “I’m pretty sure that label is in there somewhere. It can apply as well as anything. It’s just… neither of us has ever had an interest in other men.”

The man next to the camera was making a gesture, and Melanie said, “We’ll be back right after this, when we’ll take questions from the audience.”

The audience clapped.

Someone went up to Flint and began to remove the microphone from his shirt.

With relief, Hutch realized that Flint’s portion of the show was over. He considered that, with the next audience segment ending the show, they hadn’t said near as much about the book as there was to say.

If they were ever on another talk show, he wanted to make a point of emphasizing specific things about the book, rather than wasting time, talking about how it came to be published in the first place.

Flint left with a brief thanks to Melanie, and ignoring Starsky and Hutch.

Hutch noticed that some women were walking among the audience, with microphones, and talking quietly to some of the people.

Melanie turned to Starsky. “I think someone told me that this is your first interview?”


“You’re doing very well.” She glanced at Hutch. “You both are.”

“Thanks,” Starsky said. “We appreciate that.”

Hutch squeezed his hand.

A few moments later, they were back on the air.

Melanie said, “We’re here, talking with the subjects of the book The Story of Us,” she held it up again, “written by the man next to me, David Starsky. We’d like to hear what’s on the minds of our audience members.”

One of the ladies with a microphone walked up to a woman in the second row, who stood up. The audience member said, “I was just wondering if either of you is concerned about the AIDS virus, and practicing safe sex.”

Hutch wanted to jump on that one. “That’s sort of the big irony. When we were single men, dating many different women, we would have had a good chance of getting the AIDS virus, if we’d continued that life style. But we’ve been in an exclusive relationship for years.”

“So, no,” Starsky said, “there’s no reason we need to practice safe sex. We don’t hang out at bath houses, or anything like that.”

The woman seemed satisfied, and the stage hand on the other side of the room held out her microphone to another audience member, who stood up. She was a young woman with a large smile. “Hi. At the risk of sounding horribly shallow, I picked up your book at the bookstore, when I saw that the cover had the most handsome pair of guys I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The audience laughed, and Hutch felt himself blush.

“I was just wondering,” she went on, “how you can justify being with each other, when I and a whole lot of my girlfriends,” she indicated people in the seats next to her, “would love to date one or both of you, and have your children.”

The audience laughed louder.

“You can handle that one,” Hutch muttered.

Starsky said, “Uh, well, uh, I guess this might be a good time to point out that looks aren’t everything. Plus, I’m definitely taken. And so is Hutch. But I’m sure you and your girlfriends will each find Mr. Right, and have his children.”

The staff member stepped back a couple of rows, and held out the microphone to a gray haired woman, who stood up. “Yes, I’d like to know how you reconcile your lifestyle with God. Thank you.” She sat back down.

Starsky said, “How I reconcile it with God is looking at the man next to me.” He glanced at Hutch. “I don’t know how the universe works, or who’s in charge, things like that. I don’t have the answer to all that. But what I do know, without a doubt, is that God, or whatever it is, brought Hutch into my life for a reason. There’s been nothing but good that has come from that. So, if God has any problem with how I live my life, he sure has a funny way of showing it.” He looked at Hutch.

Touched, Hutch said, “Yeah, same here. I don’t worry about God. There’s no way that there’s anything ‘wrong’ with our relationship, when it’s brought nothing but wonderful things to us both.”

Melanie looked at the camera. “We’ve got time for one more.”

The staff member on the first side of the room had the microphone passed down to a middle-aged man in the middle. He stood up. “I’m just curious about what you hope readers will take away from the book.”

“Well,” Starsky replied, “partly what we said before — having an explanation, for friends and family members, as to why Hutch and me became so close. But for everyone else, I think we wanted to show that good relationships don’t have to form in the normal, traditional way. Not even a way that’s ‘normal’ for gay relationships. We feel the way we came together was unique, and I wanted to tell that story. So, if somebody reads it, maybe it’ll reassure them that, if that haven’t found Mr. or Mrs. Right yet, that it might come about in a way they least expect.”

Melanie said, “That’s our show. Thanks so much for watching.” She turned to Starsky and Hutch. “Thanks so much for being on.” She held up the book. “It’s called The Story of Us, and it’s an intriguing, heart warming read, that will be unlike anything you’ve ever read before.”

The theme song began playing, and Eckert appeared before them. “You can take off your microphones.”

After they were relieved of their microphones, they stood up, as did Melanie, who held out her hand. “Thank you so much for being on the show.”

“Thanks,” Starsky shook her hand.

Hutch had to reach out with his left. “Thank you.”

“I hope it helps you sell some books.” She turned away.

“So do we.”

Hutch walked out of the three-story office building with his briefcase in his left hand. His right arm no longer had the sling, but he still needed to be careful about not moving it more than a few inches from his body. His physical therapy was now going to take on a different emphasis, since he needed to start regaining movement and strength in the shoulder.

He went up to the curb and waited. Starsky had dropped him off over an hour ago, for his appointment with Emerson, since Starsky was far too busy to attend the meeting. Now, Hutch was waiting for his promised ride.

Here it was. Lannie’s Chevrolet pulled up to the curb.

“Great,” Hutch said, as he got in. “Right on time.”

“I had to drive around the block a couple of times,” she said. “Nowhere to park.” As she pulled away from the curb, she went on, “I wanted to pick up Melinda before coming here, but it would have made me late. So, we have to stop by Mom’s before I can take you home.”

“Yeah, okay.” Hutch replied. He couldn’t wait until he could drive again. In the meantime, the back of his mind toyed with a train of thought that had developed, upon leaving Emerson’s office.

She looked over at him. “You’re finally out of that sling.”

“Yeah. Thank goodness. I still have to be careful with it, though.”

“When do you think you’ll be able to drive?”

“It’s probably going to be a couple of more weeks, before the doc will consider it safe.” He silently questioned if he was really going to wait that long.

“What were you doing down this way?”

“Had a meeting with our financial adviser. He just wanted to do a regular check-up of our finances, so to speak.” Hutch was grateful that Lanette was unlikely to press for details. He gladly changed the subject. “So, did you guys see the tape we left you, of the talk show?”

“Yes. Nick says that he heard somewhere that people gain ten pounds on television. I guess it’s hard to look slender.”

Did she think they had looked fat?

“I hadn’t ever seen that program before. I liked the hostess, whatever her name was. I think I’ll try to watch it, whenever I’m home at that time.”

Hutch waited.

“That must have felt weird, being on stage with your sling.” She glanced over at him. “I guess nobody asked you about it.”

“Uh-uh,” Hutch said dryly. “I was obvious I’d had an injury, so no one would have reason to ask about it.”

They drove in silence.

Hutch couldn’t wait any longer. He prompted, “What did you think of what was said on the show?”

“That guy from the gay whatever advocacy group seemed kind of mean.”

“Thankfully, he wasn’t on for very long.”

“Do you guys, like, talk to each other during the commercials?”

“Not really. The commercials go by pretty fast, when you’re on stage.”

“So, did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah, for the most part. In retrospect, I wish we would have spent the first segment talking about things that were actually in the book, instead of how it came to be published. We’ll know better next time. If there is a next time.” He tried again. “So, what did you and Nick think of what was said about the book?”

“That hostess seem to like it. Some of the audience did.” Lannie snorted with humor. “That was funny, when that one young lady in the audience said she wanted to have your baby.”

“Yeah,” Hutch said, allowing a smile. He was disappointed that he couldn’t get her to say anything about the book itself. He tried to remind himself of what Judith had said, about the subject matter of Starsky’s book being too intimate.

They made it through traffic easily, and pulled up in front of Lorraine’s unit fifteen minutes later. As Lannie gathered her purse, she looked through the front window where the curtain was. “It looks like Clark, Mom’s boyfriend, is here. Do you want to meet him?”

“Sure.” Any activity was preferable to inactivity. Hutch reached over with this left hand to cock the door handle, then realized he could start using his right a little bit.

He and Lannie both walked up to the front door, just as Lorraine opened it. Melinda, who was holding Lorraine’s hand, held out her arms. “Mommy!” Lannie bent to pick her up.

Lorraine said, “Ken, I don’t think you’ve met Clark.”

“No, I haven’t.” As Clark stepped forward, Hutch held out his left hand. “I’ve got to be a little careful with my arm.”

Lannie said, “I’ll get Melinda buckled in her car seat.” She moved to the door.

“Clark Sawyer,” the man said. He was tall, about six three, with modestly gray hair. Hutch wondered if he was younger than Lorraine.

“Nice to meet you,” Hutch said. “So, do you live here in the complex?” He remember his mother saying she’d loaned Starsky’s book to a man she played cards with.

“Yes, a few units away. I live with my brother, actually. He’s quite a bit older than me, so I decided to move in with him, though I barely qualified as a senior citizen.”

Hutch nodded, thinking that he liked Clark much more than he’d like the old move actor, Dexter Riley.

Clark said, “So, you were on TV recently.”

Surprised, Hutch said. “Yes.”

“I’m a regular viewer of We the Issues. So, your mother and I watched it that day you were on.”

Hutch nodded, even more pleasantly surprised.

Clark went on. “I don’t know if your mother told you, but she loaned me your book.” He then corrected, “I guess it’s not really your book, as much as your partner’s.”

Hutch continued to nod, eager to hear more.

“Amazing, what you both have been through. I suppose your recent surgery on your shoulder was nothing, compared to all those injuries you’ve had before.”

Hutch felt compelled to confess, “Well, I’m a bit older now. So, I don’t have as much patience with how long it can take to heal.”

Clark chuckled briefly. “I can relate to that. Anyway, I thought it was a really good book. Like you guys said on the TV show, sometimes relationships can form in all sorts of unexpected ways. I think modern society is finally starting to open up to that. Reading about what a courageous man you are,” he smiled warmly at Lorraine, “I just had to get to know your mother better.”

She waved a hand with a bashful smile, which caused Clark to chuckle.

Hutch laughed, too, while experiencing a sudden barrage of a variety of feelings. Then he said, “I don’t want to keep Lannie and Melinda waiting. Nice to meet you, Clark.”

“Same here.”

When he was back in the car with Lorraine and Melinda, he said, “Clark seems like a great guy.”

“Yeah. I’m surprised Mom is interested in him. He’s more open than the men she normally likes.”

Hutch bit his tongue, tempting to point out that the same could be said regarding her and Nick. He didn’t think she’d appreciate having such a mirror held up to her. Instead, he recaptured his prior train of thought, from when he’d left Emerson’s office. “Hey, Lannie, would you mind stopping at the grocery store close to home? I’d like to pick up a few things.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Starsky sighed heavily as he turned off the motor of the Corvette, having pulled it into the garage. He was dead tired. So much going on at their over-crowded office, even with the new guys being able to use Hutch’s desk, when Hutch wasn’t there. At least, Hutch had gotten past the point of needing the sling. Hopefully, he’d be driving before long.

Starsky went into the house, while pulling the buttons of his shirt apart, hoping Hutch had managed to do something for dinner. Not only was Starsky beat, he was also starving, and not above feeling a bit of self-pity.

When he entered the house, he felt it was darker than it should be. Then he realized the curtains were drawn over the evening sun, in addition to the lights being out, save the one over the stove.

The kitchen table was lit was candles.

“Hi,” Hutch greeted casually.

As Starsky stepped closer, he realized that some kind of large serving tray was on the table, smelling of seafood. Hutch now placed two plates with barbecued chicken, on opposite sides of the table. A bottle of wine was open in the center, and there were wine glasses next to the plates.

“What’s all this?” Starsky asked in amazement.

“We’re celebrating.”

“Celebrating what? Not needing your sling?” This seemed a bit much.

“Not hardly,” Hutch replied with a snort. “Sit down, relax, and I’ll tell you.”

Starsky pulled the rest of his shirt open and gratefully sat down. “Whatever we’re celebrating, this is terrific. I’m famished.”

“Well, none of it is homemade. But it’s all fresh from the deli at the grocery store.” Hutch indicated the tray. “That’s a seafood platter, with shrimp and crab, and this is barbecued chicken that I just now heated up.”

“Terrific.” Starsky picked up a handful of plump shrimp pieces, and dropped them onto his plate, while Hutch took the wine in his left hand, and filled their glasses.

“Let’s have a toast,” Hutch said, putting the wine bottle down.

“To what?” Starsky picked up his glass.

“Our success.”

Starsky wasn’t feeling very successful, right at this particular moment. “I’ll drink to that, but what are we successful at?”

Hutch seemed to hesitate, and then said, “To us. And the financial success we’ve achieved so far.”

They clinked their glasses together.

Starsky sipped from his. Then he said, “I can’t wait for the details, but I’m starving, so I’m diving in.” He cut into a chicken piece.

Hutch asked, “You know what a net worth statement is, right?”

Starsky thought he should know. He chewed for a moment, enjoying the smoked barbecue flavor, and then said, “That’s how much everything you own is worth, right?”

“Pretty much. It’s a statement that shows all your assets, less any debt you owe — which we don’t have any on a personal level that’s long-term, because all of it is paid off — and the difference between assets and debt is your net worth.”

Starsky had given up on silverware, and picked up a chicken leg and bit into it, fully aware that barbecue sauce was getting smeared on his face and hands. “Uh-huh?” his said around his full mouth.

Hutch reached to the edge of the kitchen counter with his left hand, and picked up a piece of paper. He placed it next to Starsky’s plate, near a candle. “Can you read that?”

It was a listing of items and amounts, and he could make out the words and numbers with the help of the light from the stove. “Yeah.”

Hutch used the index finger from his left hand. “There’s our house, our furniture, our investment in our corporation — as one hundred percent shareholders — and our three horses.”

Starsky looked at the names. Then back at Hutch. “Darla is worth two hundred thousand?”

“Uh-huh. I called the bloodstock agent, after their report arrived. They said that a Grade 2 stakes winner, by a fairly popular stallion, but without knowing how her foals are going to turn out… they said that number is the minimum that they would expect her to be worth on the open market. In other words, if we were to auction her off, they would suggest that we place a reserve of two hundred thousand on her, so if she didn’t bring at least that much, then we should just keep her.”

“Wow.” Starsky’s eyes narrowed at the sheet. “And so… Danny is worth fifteen thousand, and Bri is worth…,” Starsky looked up at Hutch in disbelief, “seventy-five thousand? She’s just a foal!”

“Yep. Remember, bloodlines are everything for fillies, and Storm Bird is a very hot stallion right now. And with Bri being out of a Grade 2 stakes winning mare, herself by a successful stallion….”

That was wonderful news about Bri, but Starsky was incredulous. “But how can Danny be worth less, when he’s older and closer to being able to race?” He emphasized, “A lot less?”

“Because he’s a colt, and colts don’t have much value, unless they win major races on the track. Even though Flying Paster has the credentials to be a good sire, he’s a California stud, and young horses by a top California stud are never going to be worth as much as young horses by a top Kentucky stud. Like we’ve always known, with Bri, she can be a dud on the track, but will still be valuable as a broodmare, because of her bloodlines. She already has built-in value, so to speak. Danny doesn’t.”

“Man,” Starsky said.

After a moment, Hutch’s finger moved down. “So, our three horses are worth nearly three hundred thousand dollars.”

“That’s incredible.”

“Yeah.” Hutch smiled. His finger moved farther down and tapped the last item on the paper. “Look at our net worth.”

Starsky stared at it, making sure he was reading it correctly in the dim light. “It says… one million, two hundred and twenty-seven thousand….?” He looked up at Hutch.

Hutch nodded, his eyes twinkling. “We’re millionaires.”

“What?” That statement didn’t make any kind of sense.

“We’re millionaires,” Hutch said, settling back in his chair, and taking his silverware in hand. “We have a net worth of over a million dollars.”

Starsky stared at him, unable to compute that. Finally, he sputtered, “It doesn’t feel like we’re millionaires.”

“I know. But if we were to sell everything we own — including our corporation — we’d have a one point two million dollars in the bank.”

Starsky didn’t know what to say.

Hutch said with amusement, “Your chicken is getting cold.”

Starsky began to eat, but his mind was a flurry of thoughts. Between bites, he muttered, “We work too damn hard to be millionaires.”

“That’s mainly how we got to be millionaires. Don’t you think other millionaires also work hard?”

Starsky shrugged. “I guess. Unless they were born into money.”

“We weren’t. But we’ve made that milestone, buddy.”

“Man. Just thought it would feel different. You know? We don’t even have a house cleaner. Let alone a yacht. Or a corporate jet.”

Hutch chuckled softly. “We don’t need all those things, to live a good life.”

That sobered Starsky. He said, “It has been a good life, but it’s starting to feel overwhelming. I don’t think Michael is going to work out. And I’m trying to negotiate with the landlord about the suite down the hall, to see if we can rent two of the offices there, but he wants somebody to rent the whole unit.”

Hutch held up his hand. “Let’s leave all that until tomorrow. I’ll be back in the office full time, except for all my physical therapy appointments.” His voice softened. “Tonight, let’s just celebrate.”

Though Starsky knew it would be difficult to shut down his mind, he couldn’t deny Hutch, especially after all this effort he’d made. Suddenly, he grinned. “Yeah. Let’s get plastered tonight.”

Hutch grinned back and reached for the wine bottle. He topped off their glasses.

Two days later, Starsky bit heavily into his burger, and chewed for a long time. Across from him, Nick said, “Why down it all at once?”

“’M hungry,” Starsky muttered. Still, he had to sip his soda, and chew a while longer, before he was finally able to swallow. Then he asked, “You want to know something wild?”


“Hutch and I are millionaires.”


“We’re millionaires.” As Nick continued to stare at him, open mouthed, Starsky said, “I’m serious. We have assets that are worth over a million dollars.”

Nick blinked. “Then how come you’re still working, and not retired on a tropical island?”

“That’s what I asked Hutch. If we did that, then we wouldn’t be millionaires anymore, because we would just have money going out, and none coming in. Besides, in order to get our hands on our money, we’d have to sell everything first. Our house, our business. Our racehorses. And then make sure we didn’t spend all our money before we die.”

“Oh.” Nick took another bite of his burger.

“Still, pretty amazing, huh? Who’d ever have thought?”

Nick shrugged. “Not me. But then, you guys got a boost when you started living together, right? Because Hutch had that trust fund or whatever?”

“Yeah. That certainly made the journey a lot faster.”

“So, what happens now?”

Starsky shrugged. “Nothing. Things continue as before. We just thought it was kind of neat, that we’re technically millionaires.”

“That is neat. Guess you both have worked pretty hard for it.”

Starsky put down his remaining burger. “I’ll say. Man, I had no idea just how hard Hutch works at keeping the company afloat, until I had to take over his responsibilities. I now understand why he’d get pissy sometimes, about money and stuff. And he’d worry about things. I was doing a lot of the legwork, so I haven’t had the mental stress that he’s had. But now that I’ve had a taste of it… I sure am glad that he’s finally back full time.”

Nick snorted. “So he can be stressed out again?”

“He’s good at stuff like that. The money stuff. All the paperwork. He gets aggravated with it but, between him and Lois, they stay on top of everything. I just want to be more understanding when he gets worried about things, or objects to spending money on things.”

Nick deadpanned, “You’re millionaires. Why would you be worried about money?”

“Because, like I told ya, most of our money is wrapped up in things we own. We’d have to sell them to get the cash, and we don’t want to sell them. So, it’s not like we have an abundance of cash sitting around, to spend on anything we want. Money still gets tight occasionally, for the business.” He didn’t want to mention the surprising amount of money they had in savings, since Hutch had been diligent about keeping the dream alive of their therapeutic riding center. He didn’t think Nick would understand the desire to save for a long-term goal.

“Wow,” Nick said, “my brother is a millionaire and, in the meantime, me and my wife are struggling like crazy, because we’re under a ton of debt.”

Starsky shook his head. “It’s not worth worrying over. Take it from me. Why go gray before your time, fretting about things that are unlikely to ever be a real problem? You know the rest of the family would help you guys out, if you got in a genuine bind.”

Nick grinned devilishly. “Then, I guess we should think of ourselves as millionaires, too.”

Starsky muttered, “I wouldn’t go that far.” He took another bite of his burger. After swallowing, he said, “Hutch met Clark the other day. Really seemed to like him. Do you?”

Nicked nodded. “Sure. He seems fine.” Then, with puzzlement, “Not exactly the type of guy I’d expect a Hutchinson to be interested in.”

“That’s what Hutch said. But maybe Lorraine is needing something different, in her senior years. It was especially great that he said nice things about the book, and said they’d watched us on the TV show.”

Nick furrowed his brow. “Hutch was surprised?”

Starsky shrugged. “Well, you know, the Hutchinsons are a pretty reserved family. They aren’t gushy or anything. It’s been sort of frustrating, that Lannie nor Lorraine ever say anything about the book. Have never seemed impressed by all the amazing and heroic things that Hutch has done. So, yeah, Hutch felt really good that Clark said nice things, and had said that Lorraine watched the TV show with him.”

Nick frowned as he gazed at the table.

“What?” Starsky prompted, and then swallowed the last of his burger.

Nick reached to grab a ketchup bottle, and pointed it at his plate. “Do you guys really think you don’t get enough attention?” He pounded the bottom of the bottle. “You’ve been in newspaper articles, you own your own successful business, you have a book published about your lives, you own a racehorse that won lots of money, you’ve been on a TV show, you’re millionaires…..” He put the ketchup aside, looking up. “Do you think anyone is ever going to write a book about me?”

Starsky’s mouth fell open. It had never occurred to him that his brother might be jealous. He quickly said, “You never know. Depends on what you do in your life, I guess. But there’s millions of people that have great lives that aren’t the subject of books. You know, Melinda could have reason to write about her life some day.”

Nick’s mouth corner twitched. “Yeah, maybe.” His tone was apologetic.

Starsky said, “Hutch and me are just going along with our lives, doing what seems natural for us. And, you know, I’m not the type of person to ever write a book. That’s why it feels like such an accomplishment. I’m proud that I could do that.” That all sounded too formal. Starsky felt emotion well up, as he confessed, “That’s not really even it. That book means everything to me, because it’s about Hutch, and how much I love him. I love him so much.” He realized his eyes were watering, and he didn’t care how unseemly it was. “I want the whole world to know how wonderful Hutch is.”

Nick gazed at him a long moment. “Geez, David, you almost sound like you feel inferior to him.”

“No, not inferior. It’s what we have together that is so special. I’m grateful for that, every single day. I wouldn’t have lived as long, without him, for one thing. But more importantly, now, I love sharing my life with him. That it’s our lives, and not my life or his life.” He challenged, “Don’t you feel the same way about Lanette?”

“Sure. It’s just, I guess, we don’t have all that back story to gush over each other about.”

“But you have the future, in Melinda. That’s something Hutch and I will never have. Once we’re gone, we’re gone. Except the book. The book is what we’ll leave behind, to say, ‘We were here.’”

Nick studied him a moment longer. “I was reading that one chapter, about how you say you and Hutch don’t expect each other to be faithful. In fact, I read it out loud to Lan. We thought it was kind of weird, that you don’t promise fidelity to each other.”

Why did Nick have bring up that particular chapter? Starsky shifted with discomfort. “I don’t need that vow from him. I know what’s in his heart, just like he knows what’s in mine.”

Perplexed, Nick asked, “But you think you wouldn’t be devastated if Hutch had a… liasion… with someone else?”

“If I remember right, I did say in that chapter that I wasn’t sure how I would handle it.” He wasn’t going to share with Nick that he now had experience with such a situation. “But here’s the thing, little brother. There’s affairs of the heart, and then there’s… sex. Sex is just sex.” He shrugged. “Sometimes things happen. Something almost happened to me once, when a client came onto me unexpectedly. She was suddenly all over me, and what was I supposed to do at that point? There’s no thinking involved, you know?” He heard the defensiveness in his voice, and tried to soften it. “The gardener knocked on the door, interrupting us. But if he hadn’t, I would have banged her. And then felt terrible about it. I felt terrible about it, anyway, just knowing that that kind of thing could catch me off guard. Even though it wouldn’t have meant anything.”

Intrigued, Nick asked, “So, Hutch doesn’t know?”

“Of course, he knows. I had to tell him. Didn’t want something like that bottled up inside of me.”

“He wasn’t upset?”

“He wasn’t happy about it. But he knew it wasn’t anything against him — a statement about our sex lives, or anything like that. We put it behind us pretty quickly.” After Nick was silent, Starsky explained, “All I was trying to say with that chapter is that, as a man, I know things happen. Women tend to take things like that more personally. They tend to be… I don’t know, more thoughtful about things, I guess. We men tend more to act on impulse. Especially when it comes to sex. I’m hardly going to destroy my relationship with Hutch because one of those ‘I don’t know what got into me’ impulse things happens.”

Nick muttered, “Can’t imagine Lan feeling so casual about it, if she ever thought I banged someone else.” He sounded envious.

“That’s because women, you know, plan things.” Like Anne Brookhouse knew she wanted Hutch. “So, they expect men to think ahead, like they do. But once our cocks are interested to a certain point, we’re past being able to think about consequences.” Firmly, he said, “So our job, as men in permanent relationships, is to not let ourselves get involved in compromising situations, where something can happen.” He warned, “You go looking for something, you’re going to find it. So, don’t go looking.”

“I’m not,” Nick said firmly. “I wouldn’t just be hurting Lan, but Melinda, as well. I don’t want her to be a child that ends up being from a broken home.”

Starsky nodded with approval. And then realized, “I’m proud of you, Nicky. You’re so much a better man than you used to be.” He snorted. “Seemed to take you forever to finally grow up, but now that you have….”

Nick presented a pleased smile. “I was a late bloomer, I guess.”

Starsky returned to the office within the hour. Three employees were on phones, with Gregg, one of the newer guys, standing next to Carlos’s desk, with the phone to his ear. Now, that Hutch was back at work, things were very crowded.

Starsky entered Hutch’s office, closed the door behind him, and plopped down in the chair in front of Hutch’s desk.

Hutch was leaning down to his trash can, while tearing the perforation from a computer printout. He glanced at Starsky. “What’s up?”

“You know how Judith told you that relatives might not want to talk about the book, because it’s too intimate?”

Hutch straightened in his chair. “Yeah?”

“Well, I think there’s another reason out there. Jealousy.” He repeated that part of his lunch conversation with Nick, though also assured that the meal had ended on a good note.

Hutch sighed. “Well, I guess that’s maybe normal, huh? Sibling rivalry and such.” His mouth corner twitched. “Want to schedule a session with Judith, to talk about it?”

Starsky waved a hand. “You go head.” Hutch saw Judith off and on. Starsky wasn’t sure that it qualified as “therapy”, but there wasn’t any question that sometimes she had helpful insight. “How’s your shoulder?”

“Have to keep reminding myself that I can use it, but then I have to remind myself not to use it too much.” While Starsky nodded, Hutch sobered and said, “Look, buddy, that suite down the hall is still available for rent. I’m thinking maybe we should just rent the whole thing.”

“But we don’t need the whole thing.”

“I know. But we can just use two or three of the offices, and sublet out the rest. Maybe, if we get a deal with the landlord, since he knows we’re reliable tenants, we can even make a little profit, renting it out.”

“Huh. That just seems like such a greater monthly burden, especially if it takes a while to get the rest of it rented out.”

Hutch deadpanned, “That’s supposed to be my line.”

Starsky’s mouth corner twitched. “Well, now that I’ve gotten a taste of what it takes to keep up with the bills….”

“We’ve got the work to support the employees. Now we need to make sure we’re supporting our employees, so they can work as efficiently as possible.”

“So, if we did rent the unit down the hall, who would we move down there?”

“We’d have to discuss that. Maybe just move the ancestry part of things down there. By the way, I’m terminating Michael on payday. You’re right: he’s not working out. His paperwork is sloppy and I get the sense that he’s using this an in interim job until he finds something more to his liking.”

“So, we need to hire someone else.”

“Yep. I’ll put in a call to the landlord.” Hutch straightened in his chair and looked at Starsky with trepidation.

“What?” Starsky said.

“Now that I’m starting to get better, we need to figure out how we’re going to schedule in the assignment that Dobey left for us.”

“Oh. Right.” Dobey had left them money, and a sealed letter, to be given to his illegitimate child, once found, from before he married Edith. Starsky said, “I don’t know when we can give it a priority. We promised Dobey it would be just us working the case.”

“Yeah. And I don’t want to just put it aside, and then look up one day, and realize that five years have gone by.”

Funny, how likely such an oversight seemed, as they got older. Starsky recalled, “He said something about her being a born in a hospital, when he was employed by the Sacramento PD. We need to open the envelope he left for us, when we get home, and see what information he wrote down.”

“Yeah, that would be the place to start.”

They did just that, and contacted the hospital in Sacramento where the child was born. They were told they had to submit a request in writing for records with the mother’s name, and that it could take months before the documents were located. At least, they had taken the first step.

A few days later, Starsky was driving Hutch back to the office, after they had stopped to see one of their attorney clients. Starsky asked, “Has our landlord called back?”

Hutch shook his head. “He’s probably not picking up messages while he’s on vacation.” The landlord’s voice mail greeting had said that he was out of town.

Starsky was silent for a long moment, then he took a right at the next light.

“Why are you turning here?” Hutch asked.

“Want to show you something.”

“Show me what?”

Starsky gave him a scolding look. “You’ll know when we get there.”

Hutch knew it wouldn’t do any good to press further. Sometimes, it amazed him how, after all their years together, his partner still enjoyed surprising him. After they’d traveled a mile, Hutch asked, “Is it something I’m going to want to see?”

“Hope so,” Starsky muttered.

The road was taking them back closer to their own neighborhood, and farther away from the area of town where their office building was.

After the the next light, Starsky made a right into the empty parking lot of a one story red brick building, about the same size as their house, but shaped liked a square. The sign in the parking lot, with slots for vinyl letters, was blank.

Starsky stopped the Corvette in the parking space in front of the door, which had a FOR SALE sign on it, that included a hand-written phone number. He said, “This had an insurance agency in it, for a long time.” He opened his car door.

“How do you know?” Hutch asked in puzzlement, also getting out.

Starsky indicated the sign, as they approached the front door. “I called that number this morning, when I was out to get the oil changed in my car.”

Hutch looked into the glass door, and the wide open room. “It’s empty.”

“Yeah. I called, and the guy said that the last tenant, the insurance company, was here for something like fifteen years. They left six months ago, and he’s in dire financial circumstances, and he wants to get out from under this building as soon as possible.”

Hutch blinked, as Starsky’s words sunk in. “You’re thinking we could buy this building?” he asked on a high note.

Starsky shrugged. “I dunno. Just seems like a nice building. Great for our growing business. He said it has three offices, a conference room, a break room with a sink, two bathrooms, a big supply closet… and all this open space when you walk in the door, so it could hold a lot of office cubicles, if necessary.”

“How much?”

Starsky sighed. “I don’t know. When I asked that, he started going into all this stuff about the mortgage he has on it, and all this financial mumbo jumbo that I didn’t understand… and I just told him I’d have to have you talk to him, if you were interested.”

Hutch sputtered, “Starsky, we have over a year and a half left to go on our current lease. I can’t imagine the landlord would let us out of it early, especially since he can’t even get the unit down the hall rented out.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said, deflated. “I was just thinking that, if we really wanted to buy this place, we could sublet our unit out to someone else, until the lease is up.”

“Starsky, if we bought this building… well, we’d have a huge mortgage again, for starters. I don’t want to get into another huge debt, after having paid off our house.”

“But we could buy it in our corporate name, right? It would be a debt to our corporation, not to us personally.”

“Any bank would make us sign a personal guarantee, so that if the business fails, they could come after us personally to collect the rest of the mortgage due.”

“Oh.” Then, “But how likely is it that that could ever happen? Besides, how much more would the mortgage be than paying a monthly rent, especially since we’re looking at paying two monthly rents, if we get the unit down the hall?”

Hutch looked back in the window, envying the roomy main area of the building. “I bet a mortgage payment on this place would cost more than the rent on two units in our current building.” He looked back at Starsky. “Owning a building… it’s a huge responsibility. We’d be in charge of all the maintenance, keeping it up to code,” he glanced around the empty parking area, and its visible pot holes, “getting this parking area re-paved. It would be a huge money sieve. Maybe even more so than our racehorses.”

Starsky sighed. “Yeah, well, it’s just a thought. I was just thinking how nice it would be to own our own place. Not have to worry about our rent being increased. Not having to worry about leases. Knock out walls, or add a new one, anytime we want.” He indicated the empty sign in the lot. “We could advertise that we do ancestry stuff, so people could drop in, right from off the street. I mean, just a few blocks away are where the nice houses start in this area.” He looked up at Hutch. “And the interest on the mortgage would be tax deductible, right?”

Hutch nodded, but couldn’t see how them owning this building could possibly be in their future.

Starsky looked at the road. “It’s a bit closer to home. And we could take Churchill, from Blue Hill, at the back of our neighborhood. So, it would be an easier drive. Not as much traffic.”

“It would be a farther drive for Lois, and a couple of the guys.”

“Can’t imagine anyone would object, driving to work at a nicer place like this.” Starsky shrugged, and turned to look back into the glass door. “Just thought it seems so roomy, compared to how cramped things are now.” Then, in a lower voice, “Just thought maybe you could talk to the owner. Just see what he says. And, you know, if it seems at all possible, have him show us the inside.”

Hutch felt reality kick back in. “Starsky, even if he gives us a great price, to get it off his hands, that doesn’t change the fact that we still have over a year and a half of rent to pay on our other place.”

“Yeah. Well, hopefully, it wouldn’t take us that long to sublet it out. But if it did, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, right? I mean, even if it’s an unnecessary expense, it’s a deduction from our taxes and all that, right?”

“It would be a big drain on our cash flow. We might have to take a big cut in our own wages.”

Starsky straightened and looked up at Hutch. “Will you just call him? Just to see what he says? Please?”

Judith Parkson said, “So, I see that you’re out of your sling.”

Hutch nodded, feeling so much happier than during his last session. “Yes. I have to do physical therapy exercises at home, as well as going to the clinic once a week, but I’m finally driving now.”

“That’s good to hear. What else has been going on, since you were last here?”

Hutch drew a breath. “Well, if everything goes all right, within a few months, Starsky and Hutchinson, Inc. will be the owner of a building.”

Her eyes widened. “A building?”

Hutch chuckled softly. “Yeah, it’s only about twenty-five hundred square feet, but it’s a stand-alone building with the one unit. It was originally going to be a residence, when it was started in the late sixties. But then the financing fell through shortly after it was started, and the area was being zoned for commercial, so the property ended up being sold and changed to a commercial building. It’s at the edge of commercial and residential areas.”

“It sounds lovely.”

“It’s a big step, but we’re going forward. Commercial real estate is a completely different world than residential real estate, so we’ve had to learn a lot of new terms and concepts. But, thankfully, our financial adviser knows someone who does commercial real estate loans, and they can give us more flexibility on the terms than a bank could, and he can vouch for our financial stability, so that’s helped a lot. Plus, we’ve brought in an attorney that’s been great negotiating some deals with our racehorses, so he can get us the best possible terms for the loan, as well as trying to make it as easy as possible to get through our current lease. It’s just that the paperwork is taking forever. Even if everything goes perfectly, it’ll probably be February, at the soonest, that the closing could happen and we could move into it.”

“That must be exciting. And stressful.”

“Both of those. Not only stressful because the paperwork the loan company needs seems endless, but we’re advertising to sublet out our current office space, since there’s still a year and a half left on the lease. It’ll be a real financial burden, if we have to make a rent payment, on top of a big mortgage every month.”

“I’d think so. I don’t recall you mentioning anything about wanting your own building before.”

Hutch felt warm inside, as he tilted his head. “It was another one of David’s completely out of the blue I-really-want-to-do-this ideas. I’m supposed to be the level-headed business person, between us. But he’s the one that seems to come up with all the big ideas, out of nowhere.” He stared at the carpet. “No matter how outlandish his ideas are, they always seem to work out to our advantage.”

She watched him for a long moment, then prompted, “What are you thinking right now?”

Hutch swallowed thickly. “Just how much I love him. Sometimes I wonder if he ever can really know.”

“I think that came across pretty strongly in his book. How much you both love each other.”

Hutch appreciate her bringing that up.

She asked, “Is there any further news about his book?”

“Sales seemed to have picked up a little bit. Not enough for him to make anything off it, but it’s still moving in the right direction. And his agent, Milton, mentioned us being on some other talk shows but, so far, none of it has panned out. He’s wanting to try to get us on one of the national programs. Supposedly, he has some contacts but, like I said, nothing has panned out yet.”

“Are you eager to be on television again?”

“Yes, I think so. Anything to help the book get more sales.” With a smile, Hutch admitted, “Sometimes, though, I wish life would just stop for a moment. Give us a chance to catch our breath. There always seems to be so much… busyness… going on. The years fly by so fast.”

“Indeed, they do. I hear that complaint from pretty much all my patients.”

“I think back, and I can’t believe how much our business has grown. We were just two ex-cops working out of a little office in our home. Now we have four investigators working under us, a relative that we can call on part time, a secretary, and a person permanently out in the field, who helps with ancestry research anywhere in the country that we need to send her to. We’re responsible for the livelihood of all those people. It can be daunting thought.”

“And also very admirable,” Judith said. “I don’t recall you ever expressing any serious concerns about being able to meet all those expectations.”

“No, not yet. It’s hard not to wonder, though, what might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. And now taking on this building… it seems like such an overwhelming thing.” Hutch relented, “But then, buying a house seemed like such a huge deal at the time. But it’s been paid off for a while now.”

“To me, you seem extraordinarily successful.”

“I guess it’s sometimes hard to see that,” Hutch said. “For us. David said that his brother, Nick, had mentioned something to him about being jealous of us. About how he couldn’t believe that we’d had so much success, but we still wished that we’d hear more about the book from relatives. Like, he thought that whatever we have going on with us, we don’t think it’s ever enough.” Hutch’s mouth corner twitched. “I guess, that we can seem sort of outlandish, from an objective perspective.”

She shifted in her chair. “I think it’s always been human nature to think that others have a better situation than oneself.” She smiled at him. “Except when it comes to how much you and David love each other. Like I said, that comes across loud and clear, and the most special thing about it, I feel, is that you two are both aware of how fortunate you are. That’s a really beautiful, precious thing to offer to those around you.”

Hutch ducked his head bashfully. “I hope so.” Then, still bashful, “I think that’s one of the strongest things about our relationship, since we left the police force. We don’t ever take what we have together for granted. However much we might get flustered with other aspects of our lives, we’re always so grateful to have each other.”

In their bedroom, after the end of a long day, Starsky pushed his pants down with an aggressive motion. “God, now that we think we’ll probably be moving into a bigger place after the first of the year, our current office seems so small. It’s getting on everyone’s nerves, including mine.”

Hutch was also undressing, though it was only a little after nine. “I know. This all can’t be over soon enough. Tom told me today that he thinks he has a final contract together that the landlord will sign off on. As long as we can get a new tenant to pay 10% more than we’re paying on a year’s lease, he’ll forgive the few months that might be left on our lease.”

Naked, Starsky collapsed back on their bed, on top of the covers. “When I met with Nick, he said he wanted to make sure that we’re coming to their house for Thanksgiving. Mom and Clark will be there.”

Hutch paused, pulling off his last sock. “Thanksgiving is still a while away,” he muttered.

Starsky rubbed at his eyes. “Just a few weeks. It’s November all ready.” Abruptly, he looked up at Hutch. “Have you mailed back the contract for breeding Darla to Golden Eagle next February?”

“Yeah. Got it out a few days ago. They told me that we should ship Darla to their farm around the first of February. It’s a couple of hundred miles away. Then they’ll start breeding her, as soon as she comes into heat after the 15th.”


Nude, Hutch staggered onto the bed. Though the bathroom light was still on, he snuggled up against Starsky, laying his head on his shoulder. “We’ve got three horses, will have a fourth on the way, costing us a fortune, now that Danny is at the training farm. We’ll have a huge mortgage on our new building.” He let out a snort. “Sometimes, I think we’re fucking crazy.”

“Why?” Starsky asked reasonably. “We’re enjoying ourselves. We have a good life. What good would it do to have a whole lot of money, and just live mundane, proper, restrained lives?”

Hutch released a sigh. “I suppose you have a point.”

The phone rang.

Puzzled, Hutch looked over at it. “It’s after nine,” he muttered, then reached to pick up the receiver. “Hello.”

“It’s Milton. I’m sorry to call you so late, but I thought you’d want to know.”

Hutch’s leaned back toward Starsky. “It’s Milton.” He moved the receiver away from his mouth, as Starsky tilted his head closer. “Go ahead, Milton. Starsk is listening.”

“Have you ever watched the Your Favorite Late Night Show with Tony Torrington?”

“Yeah, we’ve seen it a few times,” Hutch said.

“Uh-huh,” Starsky put in.

“They’ve got you booked for three weeks from today. On Thursday night. They tape it late in the afternoon. Their people are sending me a packet with all the information about where you’ll need to be, and when.”

“In Hollywood?” Starsky asked.


“Thursday,” Hutch said in disbelief, “is that Thanksgiving?”

“No, it’s the week before Thanksgiving.”

“Man,” Starsky said in a low, disbelieving tone.

“It’s not as big as some of the late night shows, but it’ll be viewed by at least a million people.”

Forcing his voice to be level, Hutch said, “I guess this is just what the book needs.” A part of him wondered if they were really up for this.

“Hopefully, you’ll get more than five minutes. They always put writers on at the end, after all the celebrities. Often, they run behind, and sometimes they don’t have time for the last guest and, if so, you may or may not get re-booked. We just have to hope everything works in our favor.”

“Okay,” Starsky said, and Hutch heard the breathlessness in his voice.

“Also,” Milton said, “I got a reporter with a small, local magazine to agree to interview you, David. Her name is Beth Stockman. She’ll be contacting you. She can meet you anywhere that’s convenient.”

“That’s great.”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I know anything further. Goodnight, gentlemen.”

“Thanks a lot,” Hutch said, and then hung up on the phone.

They both collapsed back on the bed, silent, as they stared at the ceiling.

Finally, Starsky asked, “Did I just say that it was good that we don’t have mundane lives?”

“You did. I heard you.” Then, with gentle amusement, Hutch looked over at him. “Second thoughts?”

“Just seems crazy. We’re going to be watched by a million people.”

“Unless they turn off the TV before it gets to the end. We almost never watch any of those late night shows until the very end. Everyone mainly just wants to see the celebrities.”

“Still, even if say, 50,000 see us and maybe ten percent want to buy the book… that would be five thousand new sales.”

“Somehow, I think ten percent is an optimistic number. At least, when it comes to wanting to buy the book turning into actually buying the book.”

Starsky mused, “I wonder if this could be a step to us getting on one of the really big shows, like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

Hutch settled back to stare at the ceiling. “Dream on.”


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