This story is written for Aussie Angie, who asked me to do a "Jewish" one. Where possible I've tried to make the Jewish information as accurate as I can, but if any of it is wrong, please excuse me - I'm not "of the faith" and intend no disrespect. As for the writing - you know the score - Brook told me to, and I can't dodge her whip!

Disclaimer - I don't own the guys unfortunately (but OMG I wish I could borrow the curly one occasionally!). However, I can't resist damaging them!

Feedback- is cherished, craved and read with relish. As you know, it droves me on and I can't write without it.

Chapter 1

‘We can’t do that here! Dave, don’t. The sand gets everywhere! Stop it’ Cheryl hissed as she tried unsuccessfully to unhook Starsky’s hand from the seat of her bikini. She wriggled away from the questing hand and propped herself up on her elbow.

‘Aw c’mon. Just a little….well OK. A kiss. Just a kiss huh? Can’t get sand in that’ the indigo eyes pleaded with her and she melted into the inky dark pools, resting back on the sun warmed sand as her man loomed above her. The sun was blotted out as the curly head lowered, claiming her mouth with his as his tongue explored each part of her mouth. Tenderly she returned the kiss, relishing the feel of his hard, muscular body rubbing against hers, the hairs on his chest scratching softly at the bare skin of her midriff. She broke off the kiss to giggle at the sensation.

Starsky looked offended. ‘Whatsup? Sand getting in the ….erm…..cracks?’

‘That’s not what I meant and you know it’ Cheryl pouted. ‘I meant you should be careful not to get sand in the wound on your arm’ she reached up and gently touched the bright white bandage wrapped around his biceps.

‘But apart from that, I never went with a guy who was furry before’ she giggled. ‘It’s kinda nice. A bit like a cross between a lover and a puppy’ she ran her hand down his chest, following the line of black hair down the line from his navel to the band of his shorts. He shivered at the touch, pushing the centre of his body against her in encouragement.

‘Any more of that and there’ll be another little puppy waggin’ its tail’ he growled, wiggling his eyebrows ‘an’ I won’t be responsible for its actions’.

He looked over his shoulder as he heard a snort of derision coming from behind his back.

‘You’ve just been compared to a dog and ya think it’s sexy?’ Hutch asked.

‘Shuddup and get back to your side of the sand’ the curly haired cop replied and settled back to his girl.

The weekend had been perfect. The beach house they had rented in Malibu was quiet and situated at the end of the beach, giving enough privacy to enable them to have lazy mornings in bed, before afternoons on the beach and even evenings in the hot tub on the lanai. The sun had shone with that steady Southern Californian radiance for the whole of the three days giving blissfully cool, mist laden early mornings, hot sunny afternoons and romantic, star speckled evenings. Lazy days spent on the beach had worked their magic and now all four were feeling mellow, tanned and ready for another week at work. No telephones, no guns, no shields and no Dobey. Perfect!

The four had celebrated the detective’s liberty from the Metro with romantic dinners lit by flickering candlelight and long passionate nights of slow sensual lovemaking, but the weekend was now coming to a reluctant end and minds were turning back to more mundane thoughts.

This was the first weekend the two had had off from work in over two months. For the past nine weeks both detectives had been working on the case of an arms dealer who had been bringing shipments of guns and semi automatic rifles into San Pedro from San Francisco. The dealer had been using a dirty cop in SFPD to take confiscated arms from the lock up so that he could transport them south and resell them on the black market in Bay City after filing off identification marks. The same guns were sold to gangs and minors and there had been sad instances of youths being gunned down on the streets with the illegal weapons.

For the past two weeks, they’d been expecting the shipment to land somewhere on the docks. They’d had a tip off from their snitch in San Francisco, but he hadn’t been specific enough to keep them from sitting on their butts in the hot car for a fortnight, getting more and more bored and edgy and consuming more coffee than was legitimately good for them. For thirteen days straight they’d sat in Hutch’s battered brown LTD watching the warehouse for unusual activity and during that time Starsky had whined continually about the blonde’s choice of motor. Not even the explanation given – that the candy apple red parade float would be too easy to spot – had done anything to quell Starsky’s revulsion, but he’d finally seen the sense of it when John McMillan, the dealer in question had walked right past the car on his way to see the consignment.

The thirteen days of sheer boredom had culminated in fifteen minutes of adrenaline fuelled action. McMillan had walked into the warehouse and they’ heard activity from within. Starsky had called for backup, then he and Hutch had hotfooted it into the depths of the warehouse, guns drawn and crouched, ready for anything.

They’d seen the whole thing. McMillan and his goons had been caught red-handed, unloading the crates of firearms from the small coastal cruiser moored at the side of the quay into the building. But the dealer and his team didn’t go down easy. They had still put up a hell of a fight, during which the brunet had been winged by a stray .22 high up on the left arm and Hutch received a concussion when one of the guys backhanded him into a stack of pallets arranged at the side of the wall.

But the backup had arrived and the place was soon swarming with uniformed officers, detectives and of course the comforting bulk of Captain Dobey. The furore started to calm down and Starsky had managed to bring his partner around and support Hutch out to the waiting ambulance. There, they’d both sat on the tailgate of the emergency vehicle as paramedics cleaned and bound the brunet’s arm and assessed the level of Hutch’s head injury. Finally persuading them that he was fine and no, he didn’t need checking out in the hospital, Hutch and Starsky managed to get away and limp back to the Metro.

After that they’d had another gruelling day of interviews, typing and paperwork, finally getting back to their apartments in the early hours of the morning, sore, aching and tired, but pleased that the “recycled” weapons wouldn’t be causing any more havoc on the streets of down town Bay City.

Hutch sighed. ‘4:30. We’d better start packing up. Wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome’.

Elaine pulled him back down to the sand. ‘Do we have to? Huh? Can’t we just stay here forever?’

‘I wish we could honey. But until I win the lottery I’m gonna have to go back and keep plodding away at the detective business. Unless you’re secretly a millionairess and you’re gonna keep me in the manner to which I wish to become accustomed’.

Finally convincing Elaine and Cheryl that they really should start making for home, all four went inside to pack and eventually, with a sigh, they pulled the door of their little slice of heaven closed and piled into the Torino. As the sun cast red, pink and orange rays over the sands, Starsky bumped the car up the beach and back onto the main road and towards real life.

The drive home took less than an hour and was accomplished more or less in silence. Hutch sat in the back with Elaine, her hand twisted into his hair as her head rested on his shoulder. In the front, Cheryl and leaned into Starsky’s side and he had his arm around her as he steered one handed, trying to ignore her hand on the bulge in his jeans. He wiggled a little, trying to get more contact and she giggled a low throaty giggle.

‘You’re insatiable, Mr Starsky’.

‘No, I’m Pisces’ he grinned.

In no time at all, they’d dropped the two women off at their respective houses. Drawing the Torino up outside his apartment, Starsky turned to his partner.

‘Want a beer?’

‘Sure. The weekend ain’t over till tomorrow’ Hutch smiled as he followed the brunet up the steps. As Starsky put the key in the lock, he could hear the telephone ringing and leaving Hutch to rescue the key from the lock, he strode across the room and reached for it.

Hutch came into the cool living room and got them two beers from the fridge before sitting down and listening to the tail end of the conversation. Starsky was speaking low into the receiver, his fingers cupped over the mouthpiece as his eyebrows arched in concentration.

‘Yeah Mom, sure…….no I can do that…..Mom don’t cry huh? Please? That’s it…….I’ll murder him, that’s what I’ll do……..no Mom, he deserves it, just let me wait till I get my hands on him…….Ok…….no, I’ll ring back when I know what I can do……..Love you Mom’.

Starsky slammed the telephone back onto the receiver and when he turned, Hutch could see that his face was stormy, the skin around his lips white with anger.

‘Trouble?’ the blond asked, waiting for the brunet volcano to erupt.

‘Yeah trouble. One word trouble. Nicky!’ Starsky ground out, slamming the flat of his hand against the door lintel and rattling the picture hung there.

‘What’s he done now?’

‘The stupid……God, I can’t find words to describe how I feel about him. Mom’s been worried sick. She’s cryin’ and she’s so far away I can’t do nuthin. Nicky has gotten himself mixed up with some religious group’.

‘Religious? As in Simon Marcus type religious?’ Hutch asked, his mind zooming back to the memory of his partner strung up from bruised and purpled hands as black robed men surrounded him, wielding weapons and chanting their leader’s name.

Starsky let out a shaky sigh, making a conscious effort to calm down. ‘No not Simon Marcus, thank God. Although this could be just as bad or maybe even worse’.

‘Even worse than Marcus? Ya gotta be kidding me’.

The brunet turned stormy eyes on his friend. ‘Believe me! I wish I were’.

‘How can it be worse than Marcus? He was a complete head case. Him and that phoney cult were ……’

‘Yeah that’s the problem. Marcus’ was the leader of a phoney cult, so we managed to take ‘em down. Nicky’s mixed up with something so much bigger’. Starsky sat down heavily on the arm of the sofa

‘Bigger than Marcus? I thought Nicky was going straight now, after his little brush with Frank Stryker. Didn’t think he’d want to get mixed up with anything bigger’.

‘Well, it takes all sorts buddy. Apparently, my little brother has gotten religion in a big way’.

Hutch looked quizzical. ‘Religion as in….’

‘Religion as in he’s embracing the Jewish faith. He’s joined a group out at Shoshone. They’re a fanatical Jewish cult and Mom says they’ve filled Nicky’s head with all sort of shit. He’s been spouting readings from the Torah and says that they’re gonna put right the wrongs of the world, whatever that means’.

‘Well it can’t be all bad if he’s gotten in with a proper religious organisation. You are Jewish after all’ Hutch muttered doubtfully.

Starsky gave his partner a “don’t be so naive” look. ‘Two things there Blintz. First, if ya thought I was bad at going to the Synagogue, Nicky would make me look like a Rabbi. We just don’t do religion. I can’t remember the last time either of us celebrated any festival, although Mom still does Yom Kipur and Channukah. And second, have you ever know Nicky to get involved with something straight? Whatever has Mom so upset, it can’t be any good. I’ve told her I’ll try to find out what’s going on. Once I’ve seen Dobey, d’ya fancy a trip to Shoshone?’

Chapter 2

Starsky slept uneasily that night. The mention of a religious cult had awoken memories of Marcus in him too and he tossed and turned on the pillow. Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon; the voices chanted around him as the pains in his stomach doubled him over and threatened to make him throw up over his bedspread. He could feel the cold steel of the knife Gail carried as it pushed against his chest, cutting away the protective fabric of his denim shirt. And then the filthy, animal smell of the bear pit invading his nostrils as the huge beast reared up above him, pawing at the air.

Si-mon, Si-mon. Gail was coming towards him, her gentle heart shaped face full of pain and confusion, the early morning sunlight glinting on the white metal of the blade as she held it two handed in front of her.

‘Thou shalt not k kill’ she mumbled as the knife came up and her face morphed into a stocking masked parody of a man. Features squashed beyond recognition and the dirtiest laugh he’d ever heard as the face loomed above him, giggling insanely.

’24 hours to live pig. Count ‘em. 24 hours’.

And then the cold pain working its way up his body as the poison continued it’s insidious course through his network of veins and arteries, bringing with it a cold sweat, pains throughout his body and the inability to watch his partner’s back.

Hutch laid on the rocky ground, his left leg pinned beneath the wreckage of his car as Starsky skidded to a halt beside him. Starsky’s hand hovered at the side of the blood stained grimy face as relief washed over him when the crystal blue eyes fluttered open. He hadn’t been there for Hutch. He hadn’t watched his partner’s back and Hutch’s pain was all his fault.

Hutch in a back alley, his pale brown shirt clinging to the sweating convulsing back as the same eyes stared wildly around him. His friend pleading for his medicine as he ladled cupfuls of vicious black coffee down his throat and the accusation in the sky blue windows to his partner’s soul as Starsky steadfastly refused to let him out of Huggy’s room.

Starsky hadn’t been there for Hutch. Starsky had allowed his partner to be taken from him and turned into a junkie. Starsky had failed Hutch. Starsky had failed Nicky.

A young boy looking through watering indigo blue eyes as his big brother, the only father figure left in his life, turned, gave his Mom a perfunctory kiss and followed his Uncle Al out to the waiting car. Nicky had refused to say goodbye to his brother. The big brother who had gone completely off the rails when his Father had been shot dead in a drive by shooting in Queens. The big brother who stole a gun from the neighbour’s house and at the age of 14 put himself on a bus to that same Queens destination intent on finding his Daddy’s murderer.

Rachel Starsky had been beside herself with worry and self recrimination and in desperation had asked her sister to take her eldest son to California for his own protection. At least there, he would be away from the gangs, the shootings and the memories of his Dad.

But Starsky never forgave himself for leaving his family behind, and although he loved his Aunt and Uncle dearly he could never forgive himself for deserting the woman who meant more to him than life itself, and the little brother who needed protection.

Nicky. Visions of Nicky tied to the chair in the warehouse, indigo eyes that mirrored his own pleading above the gag forced into his mouth. Nicky with a gun to his head. Nicky dead at his feet. He hadn’t protected him. He hadn’t watched his brother’s back. He wasn’t there. He was a failure. He was useless. Nicky with a blade sticking out from his back, blood dripping to the ground.

The disturbing nightmare shook the brunet awake crying out his brother’s name into the darkness.

Starsky lay in the tangle of sheets on his bed, panting as though he’d run a marathon, his blood pounding in his ears and his heart hammering in his chest. He’d failed Hutch. He’d failed his Mom. He’d failed Terry. He’d failed Rosey. He’d failed Nicky.

He flung his arm over his eyes trying to black out the dream and all it’s implications, his arm and face slick with sweat. Finally he levered himself out of bed and padded into his bathroom, splashing cold water over his face and drinking a mouthful down. Slowly he looked at his reflection in the mirror.


No more recriminations!. What’s done is done. It’s what you do with the rest of your life that matters. Can’t change the past, but ya can make the future better.

Chanting that mantra, he looked at his watch. 4:50am. Not really enough time to go back to bed. And did he really want to go back to that nightmare anyway?

Starsky turned on the shower and stood underneath the jets of water, letting his bad memories flow down the drain with the soapy water as he scrubbed the dreams away. Five minutes later, his tanned skin glowing from the hot water and the brisk towelling dry, he walked naked into his living room and put on the kettle for a cup of coffee. Going into his bedroom, he took from his wardrobe his oldest, softest blue jeans and his favourite blue denim shirt. The butter soft velvety material caressed him like a lover and he felt immediately better. He was a tactile man, enjoying the feel of comforting fabric, soap bubbles in the bath, the touch of a lover’s hand caressing the sensitive skin of his neck and the feel of Hutch’s strong arms around him when he was hurting.

David Starsky was a romantic dreamer. There. He’d admitted it. On the outside he portrayed the hard, jagged edged, streetwise cop, toting his Smith and Wesson model 59 and running down the criminals of Bay City. On the inside – a part he very rarely let show – he was a romantic. He liked music, art, photography, good food and wine and slow sensual passion. He kept this persona to himself guarding it jealously, and only Hutch and Terry had had a glimpse of the man inside the iron willed cage. He chuckled to himself.

God you’re such a romantic Davey boy. Pull yourself together and take another cold shower!

He sat down with his cup of coffee at the kitchen table and sipped at the hot brew, trying to decide how he was going to get his little brother out of whatever trouble he’d gotten himself into.

The last time Nicky had come to town, they’d enjoyed an easy relationship, marred only by his brother’s penchant for easy money. Then, Hutch had had to step in with the uncomfortable task of telling Starsky what Nicky was up to and finally they’d had to rescue the younger Starsky from Frank Stryker’s clutches. Their final meeting at the Pits had been friendly on the surface. A pool game – Hutch and Huggy against the Starskies. All good humour and jokes. But underneath there was still a strain. A simmering tension as the two brothers joked. Nicky had rounded on him earlier in the visit and voiced what Starsky had always felt. David wasn’t there for Nick. David wasn’t the Father figure he should have been and so Nicky had had to find his own way in the world and he’d taken the path of least resistance, choosing crime over an honest day’s toil.

And that’s what worried Starsky now. Nicky was a good kid, but easily led. And if he could find a way to do something that was quick, lucrative and easy, it never crossed the younger man’s mind whether it was legal or not. So whatever this cult was up to, Nicky would fall for it, hook, line and sinker and Starsky would be left to pick up the pieces.

Deciding that sitting and brooding was doing him no good at all, the brunet made his mind up to set off now, swing by his partner’s apartment and then take his worry and fears out on the equipment down at the gym. Loading his sweats into the car, he drove through the early, sunwashed streets over to Venice Place and caught Hutch just as the flaxen haired cop was about to set off for his usual morning jog.

Hutch’s face registered stunned surprise when he saw his usually comatose partner strutting around the front of the striped tomato and 6:00am. He put his hand to his chest.

‘Oh my God. The world is coming to an end. You’re up before the streets are aired and I haven’t had to shoehorn you out of the pit. What’s the matter buddy, wet the bed?’

Starsky cast him a black look. ‘Hey, I like exercise as well as the next guy. I just don’t see the point of running around the park in circles getting nowhere fast’.

‘So you thought you’d keep me company this morning?’

‘So I thought I’d give you a lift downtown and hit the gym with ya. Then we’re already there to talk to Dobey’ Starsky said a little more quietly.

Hutch could see the concern in the indigo eyes and bit back the clever retort he’d prepared. Instead he motioned for his partner to wait a moment till he ducked back inside to collect his work clothes and lock up. Easing himself into the car at the side of his curly haired friend he snook a peek sideways.

‘You look like shit. Didn’t ya sleep?’ he asked.

‘Not as you’d notice. Too much on my mind I guess’.

‘It’ll turn out to be nothin’. Nicky will have gotten himself a nice little Jewish girl and he’ll be taking religious education so as he can settle down with her’ the blond said soothingly.

‘Ya think! Can ya see my brother dressed in black with a yarmulke and ringlets?’

‘Ok, I see your point, but it might be something pretty innocent. Something your Mom would end up being proud of’.

Starsky gripped the wheel of the car until his knuckles were white. When had his brother ever done anything to make his Mom proud? When Starsky had gone away to live with Rosey and Al, Nicky had started his spree of crime and had never really stopped, always keeping it secret from his Momma, but always there, wheeling, dealing and dodging the cops. He sighed and completed the rest of the journey in silence, finally swinging the car into the parking space outside the Metro.

An hour and a half later, exercised, washed and dressed the two detectives bounded up the steps and along to the squad room. Pausing only to pour two cups of the vicious black brew laughingly called coffee from the pot in the corner, Starsky held the door open for his partner as they both went into Dobey’s office and closed the door behind them.

The police Captain was used to the guys barging into his office unannounced and looked up expectantly as Hutch sat on the chair while Starsky perched on the arm.

‘Yeah?’ he asked.

‘We need some leave Cap. Nicky’s in trouble and I need to go get him’. Starsky blurted out.

Dobey had met the younger Starsky and was unsurprised that Nicky was once again in trouble.

‘What’s he gotten into now?’

‘Dunno for sure. Mom phoned last night. She said he was involved in some religious group. She didn’t give a name, but she says they’ve kinda brainwashed him. He’s spouting all sorts of Jewish stuff, like he was a born Rabbi. But she said she thought they were dangerous’.

‘And where abouts is he?’ Dobey asked. He’d long ago gotten used to following up on things his two detectives thought were dirty, knowing they had an almost supernatural ability to sniff out crime.

‘Shoshone. Apparently there’s a stockade type place outside the town and they’ve set up business there’.

‘You’ll be out of jurisdiction, you know that. But let me ring ahead, make some enquiries. See if there’s any dirt on the group huh?’ he reached for the phone and asked for a patch through to the Sheriffs Department in the Eastern Californian town. Minutes later after making scribbled pencil notes and muttering a lot of “hmms” down the phone, he replaced the receiver and looked up with troubled eyes.

‘Seems you may be on to something. The Sheriff’s office have been keeping an eye on some guys who’ve just moved into the town. There’s a group established itself up there on the outskirts of the settlement. They’ve been linked to a couple of bomb attempts, one in San Francisco and one in Sacramento. Nothing concrete, just circumstantial. The attempts were made, they were away from the settlement. They call themselves “Charon af Hashem”

‘Charon af Hashem? What sort of name is that?’ Hutch asked scratching his head.

‘It’s Hebrew. It means…erm…Children of God, I think’ Starsky scratched at his temple in concentration searching his memory for his limited language ability. What did you say they’d done Cap?’

‘Seems they’re intent on cleansing the world of anyone who isn’t a Jew. They’ve been putting posters up around Shoshone. One word “Goyish” with an arrow through it dripping blood’.

Both men looked at Starsky and he shook himself from his dark thoughts. ‘Goyish? Erm…..gentile. Someone who isn’t Jewish. Cap, I need to get Nicky outta there now’.

Chapter 3

By 10:00am they were on the road, Starsky heading off the smaller roads and onto the Interstate North and once on the open road, he settled down to a steady 70 miles per hour, reckoning they could cover the distance up to Shoshone in about 5 hours, traffic permitting. But this was the beginning of the week and the city traffic had already gotten to its destination. Moms on the school run were now happily back at home, making coffee and putting in the first lot of laundry, and so the candy apple red car made good progress out of Bay City and across the State, hitting the mountains to the east by mid afternoon.

The sun was high in the sky and the temperatures climbed steadily until the flashing red sign on the gas station they passed read 103 degrees. Even with the windows wound fully down the car felt stuffy and sticky and both detectives felt the sweat running down their backs, making their shirts stick to their skin. With no need to disguise their guns in the car, they’d taken off their outer shirts, leaving tee shirts marked with Vs of sweat at chest and back, but Hutch felt that even if he’d been able to drive naked, it wouldn’t have been cool enough for him and he longed for a cold beer and maybe a long lie down in an ice box.

Dobey had given them the name of the Sheriff – a man he’d met at an LAPD police conference some time ago. Sheriff Modlinsky had been in the post 15 years and knew his area like the back of his hand, and Dobey said he’d already been keeping his eye on the “Charon af Hashem” group and welcomed input from the two detectives. It was comforting to Starsky and his partner too to know that they had back up if they needed it. But the brunet hoped they wouldn’t need it. He hoped they’d find Nicky, make him see sense and bring him home, leaving a thorough investigation of the cult to other more specialised units.

‘Shoshone 25 miles’ Hutch read the sign they passed at the side of the highway.

‘What d’ya wanna do? Go to the Sheriff’s office first, or find somewhere to bunk down?’

Hutch shrugged his shoulders. ‘Maybe if we see Modlinsky first he can tell us where’s the best place to stay’.

‘Well Shoshone ain’t that big. I bet ya they only got one motel. Maybe that’s even where Nicky is stayin’. And then we can just talk to him an’ get ourselves back to somewhere with air conditioning’ Starsky said, wiping at the trickle running down the side of his face. Damp curls clung to his forehead and he felt grimy and sticky even though the heat was a bone dry heat.

‘Maybe’ Hutch agreed non-committally. ‘But with our luck it won’t be so straight forward’.

A gloomy silence hung about them in the car as each contemplated the younger Starsky and his previous antics. Nothing that Nick ever did was straight forward, although on his last visit to bay City once he’d gotten the job delivering drugs, he had managed to tip off his brother that someone was out to kill him. No, with Nicholas Marvin Starsky, trouble was very definitely the name of the game.

A few hot miles further on they came to the sign proclaiming Shoshone town limits and Starsky slowed the big car as they drove up the main street of the small town. The Sheriff’s office wasn’t hard to find and they pulled up round the corner from it, getting limply out and shouldering reluctantly back into their overshirts. They walked up to the building and entered the icy coolness of the air conditioned office and asked for the Sheriff.

A short, barrel shaped man with a shock of black hair walked out to greet them. Modlinsky held out his hand in a friendly manner and invited both cops into his office. They followed him and sat down in two comfortable chairs across the desk. Modlinsky looked to be in his early 50s. Beneath the still remarkably black hair two humour filled brown eyes regarded the two detectives, appraising them with one glance. The drooping black moustache added to the vaguely Mexican look of the man and Starsky took an immediate liking to him.

‘Captain Dobey said you were lookin’ fer yer brother’ Modlinsky said without preamble. ‘We got lots of strangers round here now. Used to be a quiet sleepy little town but now that group have arrived I can hardly keep up with who belongs and who don’t. But I do recall seein’ a feller looks jus’ like you’ he nodded at Starsky, ‘but shorter’.

‘That’s me, the big older brother. Do ya know where he’s stayin’?’

‘We’ve only got two motels in town, but most of the group bunk down at the stockade. You can’t miss it. Big collection of wooden buildings they’ve put up on the north side of the town. I haven’t had a good look at the place. They try an’ discourage visitors, so what they do up there is a bit of a mystery. Let me make a call’.

Modlinsky dialled a number. ‘Hey Gilly! Tell me. D’ya have a Nicholas Starsky there at the moment? You do? Do you have another couple’a rooms free?’

There was a garbled message at the other end and then the Sheriff put his hand over the receiver. ‘She only has one other room. It’s a twin. Do you want it?’ At a nod from the two men he made the booking and put down the phone.

‘So tell me. What d’ya know about this cult then?’ Starsky asked.

A shadow fell over Modlinsky’s face. ‘I know they’re a shedload of trouble. Apart form the posters they’ve put up everywhere, the ones with the arrow dripping blood, they keep themselves pretty much to themselves. But I've overheard some real terrifying things and they've been busy at the pharmacy across the way, buyin’ chemicals and the like. I think they’re into the whole bomb making business’.

‘What makes you think that?’ Hutch asked, sitting forward in his seat.

‘Well why else would they want quantities of acetone and hydrogen peroxide? They aren’t gonna be doin’ their nails ya know’.

‘You think they’re making what? Acetone Peroxide? Jeez, thats so unstable they’d be lucky not to blow themselves up! And it also takes someone with a degree of expertise to be able to do it’ Hutch said wonderingly.

‘Have you established any links with any known bomb threats recently?’ Starsky asked. He had no idea what the composition of Acetone Peroxide was, and didn’t care to find out, but he knew that it sounded dangerous.

‘The last attack around here was an attack on a Mennonite community up in the hills. Small bomb, fortunately not too many hurt. Why they’d want to hurt the Mennonites I have no idea. They're a pacifist bunch! And some of the “Charon af Hashem” group from here were seen in the area. I know its flimsy an’ not a lot to go on. Its just this feelin’ I have, and I’ve spent the last 15 years relyin’ on my gut feelings. They’ve done me proud over my career’. He sighed and looked at the two detectives.

Starsky and his partner spent another hour or so with Modlinsky, going over the ground of what “Charon af Hashem” had been doing – their camp, their interaction with the townspeople and at the end of the time, they felt they had a reasonable understanding of the community. They were a group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who were taking the teachings of the Torah to the Nth degree. What their motive was, and how they planned to accomplish their mission, Starsky and Hutch would have to find out.

The stood and said their goodbyes to the Sheriff, promising to keep him appraised of their whereabouts and to call for help if it was needed and with a final wave, they headed out into the blast furnace of the afternoon and back to the car. It was only a short drive to the motel, which both men appreciated. The black dashboard and seats of the Torino seemed to attract the heat and it burned their backs as they sat down on the leather upholstery.

The motel was a small, single storey building, built around three sides of a square. The deep eaves of the building kept the sun from penetrating the windows and inside was a cool dim haven. They walked up the reception area and signed in, receiving the key to room 21 from the young girl at the desk. She smiled shyly at the two good looking men and made a mental note of their names.

‘Can you tell me what room Nick Starsky is in?’ Starsky asked. ‘He’s my brother. If we could have the key to his room, I’d kinda like to surprise him when he gets here’.

She giggled. ‘I’m not really allowed to do that Sir…..’

The brunet turned the full power of his indigo eyes on her and smiled and the poor girl melted, capitulating and handing him the second key. ‘Room 9’ she said breathlessly as Starsky reached for her hand and kissed the back of it.

‘Thanks’ he smiled and followed his blond partner out to the room.

‘That was sickening, ya know that don’t ya?’ Hutch said, retrieving his bag from the trunk of the car.

‘What was?’

‘Doing that goofy smarm thing’.

‘Goofy….whadaya mean goofy? That was my best Starsky charm in operation’ the brunet blustered. ‘Can’t help it if she finds me devastatingly handsome’.

‘She didn’t, mushbrain. She was staring at that dirty mark on your shirt’ Hutch said, chuckling as his partner examined his clothing.

They walked over to room 21 and opened the door into the cool dark interior. The curtains had been closed against the bright sunlight and the room smelled of polish and clean bed linen. It was small, one single room containing two single beds, a wardrobe and chest of drawers with a TV on top. A door led into a bright white bathroom with a shower over the tub, a small wicker basket on the side of the tub holding the tiny soaps and shampoos that visitors loved to take away with them.

Dumping his bag on the bed closest to the door, the curly haired cop fumbled the other key from his pocket. ‘Well there’s not much to check out here. What say we head over to room 9 and give my little brother a welcome huh?’

Hutch nodded and together they made their way to the other room, letting themselves in quietly and closing the door behind them. Starsky looked around the room in awe. Nick had never been the tidiest of guys, unlike his brother, but the room was spick and span, not a thing out of place. The brunet opened the door again and checked. Yup. Room 8. It was the right room. He closed the door and looked around again, hunting for signs that his brother had been there, or was still staying there.

Opening a drawer in the chest he let out an exclamation and Hutch crossed the room, looking over his shoulder at the article Starsky was now holding. It was a striped piece of material, tassels dangling from its corners. Next to it were two small boxes with long leather straps attached.

‘I don’t believe it!’ Starsky muttered under his breath.

‘Don’t believe what?’

‘He’s done it! He’s really done it. He’s gotten religion!’

‘What do ya mean he’s gotten religion? What are those?’ hutch asked as the brunet put them away and closed the drawer.

‘There’s a g’rtel, tallit and tefillin. All the clothes he should wear for a Prayer meeting. It looks like my little brother is a genuine, bona fide, paid up little Jewish boy. Rabbi Bernstein at home would be proud’.

‘Proud of what?’ the third voice asked as the door opened.

‘Nick! What the f….what’re ya doin’ out here?’ Starsky asked as his brother stood outlined in the doorway.

Chapter 4

‘Hey Nicky!’ Starsky turned and welcomed his brother

For Nick’s part, he had an astonished look on his face, never for one moment expecting his brother and Hutch to be in his motel room and now he looked from one to the other before focussing on the brunet cop.

‘What’re ya doing here Bro?’ he asked carefully. ‘Is Mom ok, is that why you’ve come? How did ya find me? What the fuck is going on?’

The elder brother held up a placatory hand. ‘Mom’s fine, although she’s worried about you. She telephoned me and told me you’d gotten yourself involved in sumthin she wasn’t sure about. It was Mom who told me where to find you. What’s goin’ on Nick? What’s this group you’ve gotten yourself involved in?’

A smile spread over the younger man’s face. ‘Jeez David, I thought somethin’ was really wrong for a minute! Don’t go giving me heart attacks like that! C’mon sit down an’ I’ll fix us a drink’.

‘S’ok. Its too early for me. I’ll just have…..oh!’

Starsky looked on in surprise as his usually hard drinking brother handed him a soda. Hutch looked expectant and it wasn’t until prompted that Nicky got one from the fridge for the blond too. He handed it to Hutch without a second glance and Hutch took it quickly with a murmured thanks.

Nicky sat down on the edge of his bed and motioned for Starsky to do the same.

‘Where are ya stayin’? he asked.

‘Here. Same place as you. But we’re not stayin’. You’re coming home with me’.

‘What d’ya mean comin’ home with you? No! I’m happy here. Found some good friends and I’ve got some meaning in my life. I thought Mom would be proud of the fact that I’m embracing the family faith’.

‘There’s embracing and embracing’ Hutch said mildly. ‘Your Mom was upset’.

Nick glared at Hutch with a look that could have dropped him where he stood if looks could have killed. He opened his mouth to say something and then seemed to think better of it. Turning back to his big brother, he asked.

‘Why don’t ya come to the service tonight? Then you can see what it’s all about an’ maybe it’ll put your mind at rest huh?’

‘Me? I haven’t been to the synagogue in ages. It’d probably rain fire and brimstone if I went in. And what about Hutch?’

‘He ain’t Jewish and he ain’t welcome’ Nick ground out with such venom that Starsky was taken aback.

‘Hey, just watch your manners there. That’s my partner you’re talkin’ about. The same guy who helped save your ass a while back’ he snapped.

Nicky looked sullen, but neither apologised or looked at the flaxen haired cop. Hutch got quietly up and put his soda down on the drawers. ‘I think I’ll just go and…erm…count the tyres on the car huh? Give you two a little space’. He smiled in what he hoped was a conciliatory manner and quietly stepped outside closing the door behind him. He had no idea what was going on in the smaller man’s mind, but this was certainly not the same cocky, fun loving Nick that he’d met the previous year. Quickly he made his way back to his own motel room and lay down on the bed in the cool interior. He didn’t like the way the meeting with Nick was going and knew his partner was going to have one hell of a job to get his younger brother to give up the group and follow him home. Especially knowing the famous Starsky temper. His partner tried to keep his under tight control, but Nick’s was apparently legendary and Hutch had visions of fists flying across in room number 9.

The two brothers sat apart, staring at each other.

‘What’s gotten into you?’ Starsky asked, balling his hands into fists to keep himself from hitting the wall, the bed or the younger man.

‘There ain’t nothin’ got into me. I told ya. I found this group an’ I feel like it’s somewhere I belong. They’re like a family to me. Rabbi Levi looks after us all real good and I got lots of friends. I thought you’d be happy for me’.

‘I am. Its just…..hell Nick. You were the one who used to pretend you had the stomach ache or a toothache or galloping dandruff to save having to go to praychildreners and now here you are telling me you’ve voluntarily hooked up with a Jewish group. And what’s with the name huh? of God? What’s that supposed to mean? What’re they doin’ with the posters?’

Nicky stood and paced the small room. ‘Its not like ya think Bro. It ain’t anythin’ wrong. Ya heard of freedom of speech? Well, that’s just what we’re doin’. Rabbi Levi says that the Jewish nation should be free to do what they want, say what they think. We’ve been oppressed for so long that….’

Starsky put his hand up, stopping the tiread. ‘”We’ve been oppressed”? What do you mean “we’ve been oppressed”? the only oppression you suffered was when Mrs Kominsky in third grade made ya stay behind for tying Louisa Manner’s braids together round the chair. Nicky, listen to yourself. I’ve never heard ya like this. You’ve never been oppressed in your life’.

‘But the Jewish Nation has. That’s what this is all about’.

‘The Jewish Nation? You’re talking about the holocaust. That was forty years ago! Get real Nick! Just stop this now an’ come home huh?’

But Nicky was adamant. ‘How can ya condemn what ya haven’t seen? Just come to prayers tonight an’ see for yourself. Maybe it’ll change your mind. And if it doesn’t, just give me enough credit to make my own decisions huh? Huh?’

Starsky looked down at his hands. ‘What’m I gonna do with ya? I ain’t got the stuff to go to prayers. I just….’he was silenced as Nicky produced a small pack.

‘Everything you need’s in there. Get yourself ready before we go. I’ll be round for you at 6:00. Just give it a try David. An’ if ya still don’t like it, just go, but let me stay’ he said simply.

The brunet took the small package gently and stood. ‘I hope you’re right Nick. I hope you know what you’re doin’. He opened the door and went out to find Hutch, his heart heavy.

As the door closed, Nicky picked up the phone and dialled a number he seemed to have memorised.

‘Rabbi? Its Nick Starsky. There’s been a slight change of plan. I’ll be bringing someone else tonight. My brother David. But it’s cool. If we can convince him, we’ll be fine. He’s a cop and we could use insider information’.


Starsky walked back to the room with the package under his arm. He had mixed feelings about going to a prayer ceremony that evening. Although he’d been brought up in the Jewish faith, he classed himself as non-practising. It had been way over twelve months since he’d attended a synagogue and although he’d had a brief celebration of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it was nothing compared to what he’d experienced as a young boy.

He pushed the door open and went in, rousing Hutch from his doze.

‘Did you get things settled?’ the blond asked, rubbing his hand over his eyes.

‘Hmm, but not like I’d intended’ Starsky muttered as he put the package down on the bed next to him. He flung himself down on the bed and sighed deeply.

‘What’s the present?’ Hutch asked, looking at the carefully tied bundle.

‘My fancy dress for the party tonight’.

‘Are you gonna go?’

Starsky turned stormy eyes on his partner. ‘Do I have a choice? If I bulldoze Nick into coming home now, he’s gonna me madder ‘n hell an’ fight me all the way. If I go with him tonight, at least he can’t say I didn’t know what I was talking about’. He looked at his watch.

‘Oh shit. I got 15 minutes to get ready’.

Hutch watched intently as the brunet untied the parcel and took out the items one at a time. He laid them out on the bed and stared sullenly at them.

‘Wow, you know what to do with all that lot?’

Starsky grinned. ‘Its been a while, but I’ll cope. Ya gonna watch?’

‘Wouldn’t miss it’ Hutch said as Starsky went to wash. When he came back into the room he sat down again and studied the objects. First he took a small round velvet cap and placed it on the crown of his head, clipping it in pace. It nestled amongst his chocolate curls seemingly almost invisible.

‘Its called a yarmulke. God is above and we’re supposed to separate ourselves from him, so we’re supposed to wear a head covering’ the brunet said by way of explanation.

Next he stood and reached for the square shawl. Holding it up he draped it around his shoulders.

‘This is a Tallit, or prayer shawl. There’s a prayer that goes with putting it on. Starsky looked embarrassed, but folded his hands in front of him and mumbled “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us regarding the commandment of fringes".

Hutch watched quietly. He’d never really seen this side of his partner before. Sure they’d been to the odd ceremony at the synagogue together, but that was mostly to celebrate a Bar Mitzva or similar and neither man had dressed formally. Now, before his eyes, his tough talking, streetwise partner was dropping away to reveal the Jewish boy he’d been taught to be years ago. In a way, it brought a lump to Hutch’s throat, an insight, seeing what David Starsky could have been if his Dad had never been killed and he still lived in New York. Starsky saw the way the blond watched him.

‘Will ya cut it out. Ya make me feel self conscious enough as it is!’

Hutch grinned. ‘I just never saw you like this. It’s like having a whole different guy in the room. Interesting’.

‘Ya mean they don’t have the whole fancy dress thing in the Baptist church?’ Starsky chuckled. ‘Now for the fancy bit, an’ I don’t know if I can remember the Hebrew’.

He took hold of the first of the small boxes and held the leather straps tight. Looking up, he explained

‘These are Tefillin. There are two boxes containing Biblical verses We’re supposed to wear ‘em for morning prayer services in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, and sometimes for other branches of Judaism as well. They are lain on a daily basis by adults above the age of 13 years. When we put ‘em on its called laying them and it’s customary to lay and to remove the tefillin while standing'. Starsky sighed. 'I sound like a Rabbi instructing Saturday morning class’

‘Ok, so. The hand-tefillin is laid first’.

Starsky took the small box with its long leather straps and placed it on his right arm, above the elbow, on the lower biceps, level to his heart.

‘If I were right handed it’s go on my left arm, but we lefties like to do it different’ he explained, concentrating on the procedure. He took hold of the strap and wound it around his forearm seven times and then closed his eyes in concentration.The words from his youth came unbidden into his head and he muttered

‘Barukh atta Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh haolam, asher kiddeshanu bemitsvotav vetsivvanu lehanniakh tefillin’.

Smiling at his memory he translated for Hutch. "Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to put on tefillin."

‘Next comes the head tefillin’.

Starsky placed the second square box on his brow so that it overhung the middle of the forehead, just above his hairline. He tied the straps so that the knot of the strap was at the back of his head and overhanging the middle of his neck, while the two ends of the strap, with the blackened side outward, hang over his shoulders in front. As he tightened the strap he muttered ‘Barukh shem kevod malkhuto leolam vaed’.

Again he looked over at his partner.

"Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever." He explained, then gave a twirl.

‘So, how do I look? Coz I feel like an idiot. I haven’t worn this lot since my Bar Mitzva’

‘Like a pious little Jewish boy. Now go and play nice with your brother’ Hutch grinned as Starsky headed for the door.

Chapter 5

At precisely 6:00 Nick knocked on the door to room 21 and Starsky and his brother walked off into the evening sun. Hutch watched them go from the small window. The two men were almost equally matched. From the back, they could almost have been twins. They had the same chocolate coloured curly hair, the same square shoulders and the same strut in their walk. Only the height marked them apart, the cop’s 5’11” being a couple of inches taller than his brothers. It was only their lifestyle that had been different and wth this sudden change of circumstances, it looked on the surface at least as though Nicholas Starsky had finally turned the corner.

But nagging at the back of Hutch’s mind was the information the Sheriff had given him about the orders from the pharmacy. Why the hell would they want those chemicals if it wasn’t to make bombs. And if they were going to make bombs, where were they going to use them?

The blond looked at the clock on the wall. 6:15. While Starsky was at the prayer service, maybe he could have a snoop around the stockade to see what he could find out. He peered out of the window. The Torino was still parked at the front of the motel and Hutch remembered his partner telling him that it was customary to walk to prayers. He grabbed the keys from the dresser and went to the car, starting the engine and driving off in the same direction he’d seen the brothers take.

There was no sign of Starsky and Nick as he drove and he concluded they must have taken a path across the fields surrounding the town. Constrained to using the road, it took at least 10 minutes of driving before he saw the tall wooden fence of the compound.

No wonder they called it a stockade. That’s exactly what it was; a carbon copy of the stockades he’d always seen on “Cowboy and Indian” films as a kid. The compound was roughly square and the perimeter was marked by closely packed wooden posts, which looked like the trunks of small trees. The were at least eight feet high and there was one gate set into the northern corner, closed and Hutch felt probably locked. At two of the corners of the compound, there had been built watchtowers and Hutch had the ridiculous feeling that there would be a John Wayne type figure with an old Lee and Enfield sighted on him at any moment. Whatever the group did in their compound they sure wanted privacy!

He pulled the car to a stand still and looked up at the towering fence. There was no way he could get in there without being invited, and he had the distinct impression that tall, blond Nordic types would not be particularly welcome, especially after the reception he’d received from Nick. Hutch sighed and was about to back his car up and return to the motel when something caught his eye.

There was a delivery van of sorts parked right next to the stockade on the south-eastern side. Quietly, the flaxen haired cop got out of the Torino and with his back pressed against the fence, made his way silently around the perimeter until he could duck around the corner and see the vehicle.

What he did see made his heart hammer in his chest. This was no ordinary delivery vehicle and it didn’t look like it’s content were anything too ordinary either. He waited until the man in the driver’s seat got out and knocked on the big heavy gate. He was let in, leaving the vehicle unattended and Hutch saw his chance. He crouched and ran towards the big armoured van. It was the sort used by security companies, with the windshield protected by riveted armour shielding, leaving only slits for the driver to see out of. The side and back panels were similarly reinforced, but the back doors were closed and locked.

Hutch had seen enough and managed to get back around the corner of the compound and out of sight just as the driver re-emerged from the stockade.

‘The shipment will be here tomorrow. Don’t forget it’ll have to stored somewhere dry and cool. We don’t want it going off in the wrong place now, do we?’ the man said chuckling as he got back into the cab and started the engine.

Under cover of the noise of the big diesel machine, Hutch ran back to the car, gunned the engine and turned back towards Shoshone before anyone could catch up to him or question why a bright red and white striped car should be snooping outside the compound.

Driving back took considerably less time that driving out and within five minutes, the blond was back at the motel, letting himself into the room and sitting down on the bed. He had a multitude of questions going around in his head and no answers to speak of. The only thing he knew with absolute certainty was that “Charon af Hashem” was not the holier than thou, Torah thumping, paragon of virtue that Nicky had led them to believe.


It took Starsky and his brother only 15 minutes or so to walk the short distance to the stockade. The brunet had done a double take when his brother had arrived to collect him, it seeming strange to see his little brother dressed in the full prayer garb. But there again, Starsky reasoned, it probably looked mighty weird to Nick too.

As they walked along, the cop tried once again to get the younger man to see sense.

‘What attracted you to ‘em?’ he asked. ‘I never took you to be the religious type’.

‘I never took myself to be religious either, but this group! They’ve got so many ideals. Rabbi Levi says there’s so much we can do. So many things we can change. Rabbi Levi says we could change the world for the better if there are enough of us together. Rabbi Levi says….’

‘Ok. Enough with Rabbi Levi! Just listen to yourself! In the space of a minute you’ve mentioned the guy three times. What’s he done? Brainwashed you or sumthin?’

‘He was there for me’.

That stopped Starsky dead in his tracks. The five words held such accusation and feeling that they acted like a punch to the solar plexus.

‘You mean and I wasn’t?’ he asked quietly.

Nick turned his own, pain filled eyes on his brother. ‘Damned right you weren’t. But that’s fine. It’s ok. You went away to sunny California and left me and Mom to battle it out. After Dad died we had so little money there were times when I went out stealin’ just to keep us alive, while you were out west….’


The one word ground out as the brunet tried to keep his temper under control.

‘I was made to go to LA an’ you know it. An’ you know why I was made to go. You weren’t the only one hurtin’ when Dad was killed ya know. And you had money. Don’t tell me you didn’t. Coz I sent money home every week from the jobs I did when I wasn’t in school. And Mom got the money coz she wrote me. D’ya think it didn’t tear me apart to leave? D’ya think I didn’t think about you every single day? Coz I did and yeah, I wept at night coz I’d made that one mistake with the gun and Mom sent me away. There was no need for you to steal Nick, an’ you know it. You wanted the thrill of the job an’ Mom wasn’t strong enough to stop ya’.

Starsky panted with exertion at the end of his speech. He’d kept so much locked up inside for so long and now it all erupted in an explosion of emotion. Both brothers stood stock still as the evening quiet absorbed the words and floated them away on the light breeze. Nick looked as though he’d been punched in the face, never hearing his big brother talk about his time away before. And Starsky hated the silence that widened the gap between them.

He took a step forwards and pulled the smaller man into a bear hug, thumping his back.

‘Don’t let’s do this huh? Don’t lets talk about that. It’s in the past and what’s done is done. Lets just get this night out the way an’ I promise I’ll keep an open mind. If it makes ya happy then that’s great. But don’t let ‘em take ya over huh? Make your own mind up’.

Nick pushed Starsky away gently so that he could look into his brother’s face.

‘Just come an’ meet ‘em huh? I promise you’ll change your mind. And there’s a place for you here’.

They walked on quietly and out of the evening heat, the stockade loomed before them.

Starsky looked up at the tall fence, the huge gate and the watch towers, feeling distinctly uncomfortable. It looked impregnable and inescapable and it loomed out of the countryside almost malevolently.

Nick knocked on the gate, three raps and pause and three more and the huge wooden structure swung inwards. Both men entered the sandy floored compound and Starsky looked around. All four walls comprised rooms with doors opening onto the quadrangle. The inner square itself was barren, no vegetation and no cover. Just a blinding white expanse of hot earth and the only word that the cop could think of to describe it was “Godforsaken”.

A man dressed in Rabbi’s clothes came out to meet them and Nicky introduced him as the famous Rabbi Levi. The man was mid height with a hook nose and hooded watery blue eyes. His hair was long and straggly bushing out from his royal purple yarmulke and merging with the bushy beard and long sidelocks. He was the epitome of a Rabbi and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a production of The Merchant of Venice as Shylock. He smiled thinly and held out his had.

Welcome, Achinu.You are Nicholas’ brother?’

‘Yeah, David Starsky’ he almost finched at the Hebrew word. Achinu? My Brother? But he took the thin bony hand and shook it. wondering how the cleric knew him. There was no warmth in the man’s eyes and the smile was a thin parody of a welcome. He followed him into the room on the north side of the compound and found himself inside a makeshift synagogue.

As he looked around he saw that there were perhaps 15 other men, all aged between 18 and 40, all piously dressed and all readying themselves for prayers. Nothing unusual in that, except that there was an atmosphere inside the room; an almost palpable air of tension which Starsky didn’t usually associate with a religious ceremony. His senses went on high alert, but he tried to relax into the service.

Most of the Jewish liturgy was sung or chanted with traditional melody and Starsky was impressed that a synagogue so small employed a professional hazzan to lead the congregation in prayer. He became almost hypnotised by the bowing and the liturgy as he prayed the 19 blessings and his mind went back to New York and to the big synagogue he attended with his Dad all those years ago. For a while he allowed himself the comfort of those memories as he lost himself in the ceremony, but at then end, instead of a period of quiet reflection before going home, he was stunned when the Rabbi stood at the front of the room and started to speak.

‘My brothers. The time is coming when the children of “Charon af Hashem” will take their place at the right hand of Hashem and go forward into the world. We will, after all these millennia, take our rightful place, teaching the goyem the true meaning of Judaism and cleansing the world of all impure thoughts. Only then will we be free and at peace to benefit from our works, and only after this country has been washed clean by the blood of our oppressors’.

At that, Starsky’s ears pricked up. What the hell was this man talking about? Preaching sedition and war to the followers who seemed to be drinking in his words. The men in the congregation were staring in rapt attention at the Rabbi who was carrying on with his sermon. But Starsky had heard enough. He wanted out and he wanted out now. But at the same time, he realised that if he could convince the group that he was a willing volunteer he could get the information he needed to blow the operation out of the water. Then he just needed to figure out how to get his little brother out of harms way before the Sheriff’s department came in and busted their asses down to the local lock up.

One step at a time!

Chapter 6

At the end of the meeting, when the Rabbi had stopped his vitriolic attack on society in general and Goyem in particular, Nicky beamed over at his brother.

‘Can you see now? Can you see why I feel so at home here?’ he asked earnestly.

‘Oh yeah’ Starsky agreed, knowing that the love of danger and the criminal tendencies his brother had would be fed and nurtured here. But he tried to remain non-committal. If he could get into the group and convince Nicky and the Rabbi that he was a likely convert to the cause who would become a fervent follower of “Charon af Hashem” then he could get the information he needed and stop whatever sick plans the group might have. He followed the younger man over to the cleric and once again Levi shook his hand.

‘Once again I welcome you. Did you enjoy our prayers?’ the Rabbi asked carefully, searching the brunet’s face.

‘Yeah, sure. Its been a while, but it all came back to me’ Starsky smiled.

‘Welcoming a lapsed brother back into the fold is an honour indeed. And now that you have met us and prayed with us, would you care to join your brother and become a member of our group perhaps?’

The curly haired cop hesitated. ‘Erm, I’m not absolutely clear on what you’re asking here’.

The cleric’s face became a steely mask. ‘Your brother tells me you could be of great benefit to our cause. That you have certain, shall we say, information which may be of benefit to us. And in return, you will reap the benefits when we cleanse the world and take our rightful place’.

‘Cleanse the world huh? Cleanse it of what exactly?’

The Rabbi looked astonished as if Starsky had asked the most stupid question in the world. ‘Of non-believers. Of Goyem. They have kept us down all these years, taken our lands from us and persecuted us and now it is our turn to show the rest of the world that Hashem meant the Jewish people were to rule’. The man’s voice became louder and shriller as he became lost in his mania.

But still Starsky remained calm and implacable. ‘Sure, I can cleanse with the best of ‘em. Count me in. What do I do?’ but a cold hand claw at his chest as he realised the true extent of the cleric’s vision.

Nicky beamed at his side, clearly proud that he’d managed to introduce his brother to his hero but the Rabbi paused a fraction of a second, perhaps reading Starsky’s true intent in his eyes. ‘Go back to your room and wait for instructions’ he said. ‘I must talk with the other elders first and decide what task would be best laid at your feet.’ The Rabbi lifted his hand in benediction and Nicky bowed his head. Starsky followed suit. ‘May the Lord bless you and safeguard you... May the Lord illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you... May the Lord turn His countenance to you and establish peace for you’, the Levi intoned and at the end both brothers replied

‘Kein y'hi ratzon’ (so be it)

At that, the brunet took his signal to leave. He came out of the synagogue into the fast waning evening sun, the air still warm around him, and carefully removed the tefillin, yarmulke and tallit and handed them back to his brother. Nicky walked him to the door of the stockade and paused at the gate.

‘Aren’t you coming back to the motel?’ Starsky asked.

Nick shook his head. ‘We have a meeting now. I’ll be back later’.

‘What’s the meeting about?’

‘Just plans. When Rabbi Levi thinks you’re ready you’ll be invited’ Nick replied mildly.

Starsky took hold of the younger man’s arm and pulled him around until he could look into the other’s eyes. ‘Nick, be careful’.

A look of surprise crossed the smaller man’s face. ‘Careful? Why would I need to be careful? You’ve seen the guys and Rabbi Levi. Can’t you see why I feel at home here now? C’mon Bro. We’ll call for you when we need you. Just sit tight huh?’

The cop plastered a smile onto his face. ‘Yeah, I’ll just go back an’ wait. I didn’t mean nuthin Nick. Just overcautious I guess – goes with the territory. You’re right. You fit in real well here. Take care an’ I’ll see ya back there’. He turned to walk away.

‘And David?’

He turned to look back at his brother. ‘Yeah?’

‘Get rid of Hutch huh?’

Without a backwards look, Nick turned and walked back into the compound, closing the gate behind him. As he walked across the central square, the Rabbi and a couple of the other men came to meet him.

‘He isn’t what we thought’ Levi began. ‘I don’t think his heart is in it’.

Nicky smiled uncertainly. ‘He’s fine. He just needs time to get used to the idea. He’s not as sure as me but he’ll come around’.

But the cleric looked angry. ‘You said he would be an asset to our cause; that he could help us. And so I let him see what our group is about. But I fear your closeness to him has made you a fool. He doesn’t wish to join us. I saw it in his heart and his eyes. We’ve created a weak link in our chain now and I’m unsure how to repair the damage’.

‘There’s no damage done!’ Nick protested. ‘He’s just gonna go away and think about it. He’ll be fine, I know he will. I just need to pursuade him that’s all’

‘Perhaps we would be better to pursuade him here. Maybe you should go and invite him and that Goy with him to our little castle huh? For a little of or own pursuasion’ He handed Nick a sawn off shotgun and the younger man took it hesitantly.

‘I’ll send Saul and John with you, so that there are no further misunderstandings and I’ll expect you back by midnight, with our guests’.

Nick swallowed hard, but met the Rabbi’s eyes and smiled. ‘‘Kein y'hi ratzon’ he said and shouldered the weapon as the other two men followed him to the gate.


The walk back to the motel seemed longer than the walk out to the stockade had been. Starsky was anxious to get back to the motel room and talk things over with Hutch. There was so much going through his mind. He needed to speak to Hutch and let him know what he’d seen and heard. He needed to telephone Dobey and get him to do a crosscheck on this Rabbi Levi. They needed to let Sheriff Modlinsky know what was going down on his patch. And he needed to get Nicky out of there, either by persuasion or by force. At that particular moment he didn’t care. He just wanted his brother out of harms way and the evil cleric and his group behind bars.

The night was still and the sounds of his footsteps in the sandy earth were masked by the loud chirrup of the cicadas and frogs taking the night air. The moon was full overhead casting bright shadows across the flat plain and illuminating the mountains behind the town, making them loom dark and forbidding around the buildings in the distance. Even at 10:00 at night it was still unbearably warm and there was only the merest suggestion of a breeze to waft playfully against Starsky’s dark brown curls, but the cooler air was welcome on his hot scalp and served to cool his sweating body as he walked.

Another five minutes saw him at the door to the motel and he knocked softly once on the door, waiting until his blond partner cracked it open and peered around. The open door cast a wedge of bright light onto the dark veranda and Starsky stepped inside quickly before the night insects could invade their room. He stopped at the small refrigerator and got himself a cool bottle of water, snapping the twist cap and drinking deeply, water droplets trickling down the side of his mouth and dropping from his chin to moisten the fabric of his tee shirt. He stopped and drew the back of his hand over his mouth, wiping away the residue before sitting on the bed opposite Hutch.

‘So, how was it?’ the blond asked.

‘Well I spent the night with around twenty flakes lead by the biggest dirtiest Rabbi in the world while he preached sedition to the masses. How was your night?’ Starsky asked sardonically.

Hutch pursed his lips. ‘Interesting’.


‘Well after you and Nicky left I drove over to the stockade and had a look around’.

‘Nice. Did you see anythin’?’

‘Oh boy yes! Like an armoured truck and a guy talking about a delivery of something that had to be kept dry an’ cool. Like maybe chemicals? We’re on to something buddy’.

The brunet nodded. ‘Don’t I know it! The Rabbi wants me to join their little group and cleanse the world of all non Jews. Oh, and by the way. My brother would like to see you gone’.

‘Jeez, friendly crowd huh? What did ya say?’

‘Figured if they thought I was in they’d give me enough information to bust ‘em wide open. So I told ‘em I was their man. I’m supposed to come back here, get rid of you an’ sit tight. Wait for instructions’.

Hutch blew out his cheeks. ‘Well, sorry, but I’m not goin’ anywhere. I’m not leaving you here on your own. But we need to let someone know what’s goin’ on’.

‘I know’. Starsky looked at his watch. ‘Its 10:30 now. Too late to call Modlinsky. An' I don’t want to call Dobey till we know exactly what they’re gonna use the chemicals for. Not that I think there’s many other uses than making a bomb. Maybe we should just sleep on it an’ we can tell the folks that need to know in the morning huh?’

The blond shrugged his shoulders. ‘Whatever you say buddy. You were the one who was there tonight. You got a feelin’ for what they’re about’.

Starsky sighed. ‘What they’re about huh? I tell ya Hutch, they’re about world domination. The place is built like a fortress. There’s only one way in and out and that’s through a big heavy gate. It’s guarded and there are two towers manned so that they can see who’s comin’ an’ goin’. And inside it’s like a wilderness. There’s no pretence at making it homely. Just one big sandy square that’s hotter ‘ hell and twice as pretty’.

‘Well lets get some shut eye. If it’s as bad as you’re sayin’ we need to get back to the Sheriff’s office early in the morning. Then maybe we can get a warrant to go take a proper look at “Charon af Hashem”.

‘Hey, your Hebrew’s getting’ better all the time’ the brunet grinned.

They got ready for bed. The room, despite the rickety air conditioning was still warm and finally both men decided the coolest thing was to sleep in their boxers and on top of the sheets. With a sleepy “goodnight” Starsky turned over on his side and within minutes was sound asleep. Hutch took longer. It always amazed him how his partner could sleep anywhere and so quickly. But finally the exertions of the day caught up with him too and he curled into a ball as his eyes drifted closed and he entered a dreamless sleep.

Neither man heard the small scratching noises at the door, and neither man saw the three dark figures who crept into the room and stood over their beds.

Chapter 7

Hutch awoke to feel something over his mouth and nose cutting off his oxygen and he tried to push the invading hand away, but his assailant was strong and had the advantage of being standing over him, bent over the supine detective. Ice blue eyes flashed open and looked into the deep brown ones above him. Those eyes radiated distaste and loathing and no sympathy at all as the blonde’s lungs tried desperately to bring air around the obstruction and into his body. He struggled desperately against the hands holding him down to the bed, feeling the anxious fluttering feeling in the pit of his stomach marking the start of oxygen starvation and his vision began the blur around the edges.

He managed to steel a glance sideways, his heart rate hiking up another notch as he saw two men bending over his partner’s body on the bed opposite, although Starsky was either still asleep, or had already been smothered into unconsciousness. Either way, at that precise moment, he was unmoving.

Hutch tried to shout out past the obstructing hand, but no noise escaped him and the hand clamped tighter over his mouth. He tried to bite at the fleshy palm, but could get no grip or leverage and finally his struggles diminished as the strength left his body, his breath gave out and with an agonised groan his body sagged back limply against the mattress. Immediately, his attacker removed his hand and checked that the blond was still breathing before stuffing a wadded up piece of cotton into Hutch’s mouth and binding it in place with a strap of leather.

Next he dealt with the unconscious cop’s wrists, binding them tightly together behind his back before pulling him up into a sitting position. Very slowly the blond regained his senses and his eyes opened a crack. He raised his head, groaning again into the gag and struggled with the bonds at his wrists before giving up and staring defiantly at the man above him. The cotton in his mouth leached away the moisture and left him feeling dry and suffocating and he concentrated on breathing past the obstruction, his eyes now fastened on his partner.

The two other men descended on Starsky and shook his bare shoulder, standing back as the brunet moaned, rolled onto his back and opened his eyes. Seeing the two men, he sat up quickly, reaching for his gun and stopping only when he saw the shotgun levelled at his chest. He withdrew his hand and stiffened, his eyes darting around the room before reality hit and he looked across the room at his bound partner. He took in the gag, the restrained wrists and the angry glare from the ice blues and slowly his eyes, full of questions, went back at his brother.

‘Nick, what the fuck’s goin’ on?’ he said quietly. ‘What’s this all about?’

Nick gazed levelly back at his big brother over the barrel of the gun. ‘Shut up an’ don’t struggle an’ it’ll all be ok’ he said calmly. He seemed to have no qualms about holding a loaded gun on a member of his family. There was no shake in his hand and the piercing Starsky eyes never wavered.

‘What d’ya mean don’t struggle?’ the brunet asked, eyeing the other man who was moving closer. ‘And how the fuck can it be ok? Ya got my partner trussed up like a Thanksgiving dinner. I thought I was supposed to stay here an’ wait for instructions. Didn’t think you’d be coming to beat up on Hutch. Let him go huh? He doesn’t want any part of this. I’ll play your sick little games, but you let him go, now’.

Hutch tried to make a sound past the wadding in his mouth, but no words came out and the man at his side bent down and rapped the barrel of his own gun smartly across the blonde’s shins, effectively demonstrating that the blond should remain quiet. The sickening sound was obscenely loud in the room as the metal rattles against bone and Hutch’s eyes squeezed shut and he bowed his head to his chest as he fought with the pain, a shudder rippling through his body.

‘Stop. For Gaods sake stop it’ Starsky yelled, sickened at the cold hearted brutallity. ‘He didn’t do nuthin, Nicky. Ya let him go now, d’ya hear?’

Starsky tried to get up from the bed, but the younger man pushed him back down, a firm hand on the furry chest.

‘Sorry David, but your big brother tactics don’t work with me any more. You lost that right a long time ago. The day you walked out on Mom ‘n’ me. I do what the Rabbi wants now, for the good of the group. And right now, the good of the group means you shut the fuck up and listen’.

Starsky turned hurt and accusing eyes on his brother. ‘You know leaving wasn’t my choice. An’ this isn’t about years ago. This is about now and some sicko tryin’ to take over the world, one bomb at a time. Hutch wasn't there then, an' he has nuthin to do with it now. Let him go, for Gods sake untie him an' I'll come quietly’.

He saw Nick’s eyes flicker at the mention of the bomb and pressed on. ‘Yeah I know about the bombs. If you’re gonna order all the chemicals at least spread your orders out. It was you responsible for the Mennonite group wasn’t it? All those innocent people. And what’s your next plan huh? What’s the next great step on the route to world domination?’

The man standing next to Nick nudged him and Nicky seemed to shake himself from his shocked silence. ‘Shudup David. For your own sake just shut it. Ya don’t know what its like. You’ve no idea what this is all about, so just shut that freakin’ pie hole before I do it for ya huh?’

‘Yeah? You’ll shut me up? You and who’s army?’ Starsky sniggered, his temper getting the better of his common sense.

Nick’s temper also snapped and he stepped forward, grabbing hold of the brunet’s curls and pulling him to his feet. Without a moment’s hesitation he pulled his fist back and slammed it into the side of his brother’s jaw, snapping Starsky’s head sideways. The cop tried to retaliate, or at least to defend himself, but Nick’s companion quickly took hold of his arm’s and pulled them behind his back, holding him still. At the other side of the room, Hutch struggled to get to his partner’s side but was held down on the bed by his assailant.

Starsky licked at the trickle of blood from the split lip and sneered at his younger sibling. ‘That’s the only way you’ll win this one little brother. With someone else holdin’ on to me while you use your fists, coz if I get my hands on you I’m gonna knock some sense into that thick skull of yours’.

Nicky’s eyes filled with hate, the words of the Rabbi ringing in his ears. He grinned as he stepped forward and looked into the stormy indigo eyes that were a mirror of his own. He grinned evilly and sunk his left fist into Starsky’s solar plexus, bending the taller man forward as the wind whistled through his teeth and the saliva strung in silver beads from his panting mouth. The bile burned the back of his throat, but he swallowed frantically, damned sure that he was not going to loose his supper over his brother’s shoes.

The reaction seemed to spur Nicky on, the wrongs he’d perceived throughout the years finally translating into motion as his fists hit again and again against the brunet cops stomach and chest. Each blow was accompanied by a sickening thud and the pain became such that Starsky could no longer hold in the groans. His knees felt weak and rubbery and he would have fallen to the ground had it not been for the goon at his back holding relentlessly on to his arms. His chest and stomach were on fire and it was only after the eighth of ninth blow, when Nicky was sweating and panting, that the blows stopped.

Hutch had been forced to watch the brutalisation, a heavy hand holding his shoulder and drilling him into the bed and now, as the punches ceased, he watched as the indigo eyes closed and Starsky hung limply from the strong arms holding him. Bruises were beginning to form over his torso, the skin red and hot. Nicky grabbed a handful of damp curls and jerked Starsky’s head back and the brunet managed a defiant grin through his split lip.

‘Feel good?’ he mumbled.

‘More ‘n’ you’ll ever know’ Nicky said with relish and slammed a final fist into his brother’s face.

With one last groan, Starsky lost consciousness and his body slid bonelessly to the ground as Nicky massaged his fist and nudged the bruised body with the toes of his boot.

‘Deal with him’ he nodded at Hutch, ‘and then get them into the car.

Hutch had hardly any time to brace himself as he saw the man at his side lick his lips like a predator and bring the butt of his gun down onto the back of the flaxen head. With a startled, muffled yelp, Hutch joined his partner in the blackness and knew nothing of the hands pulling his and the brunet’s body roughly into the waiting pick up truck, or the journey across the flat velvety black plain and into the stockade.

But perhaps he would have been better to remain in his pain free darkness as the discomfort and anxiety were only just beginning.

Chapter 8

Starsky’s first conscious thought was that he’s somehow landed in a Lilliputian world where the buildings were too small for him. The ceiling of wherever he was was pressing down on the back of his head and his body felt pretzelled and cramped. And then he opened his eyes and the reality hit.

He saw pale sandy earth right in front of his face, his nose so close he could smell the heat baked into the hard ground. He tried to get himself upright but couldn’t, hard warm metal at his back. His hands were fastened behind him and the roof of bars above him pressed down onto his spine.

He groaned and tried to heave a deep breath to keep himself from up-chucking in that tiny confined space. Getting his stomach under a little more control, he raised his head as far as he could and tried to look sideways around him.

Hutch was at his side and suddenly Starsky knew why he felt the way he did. The blond was on his knees hunkered down, his hands manacled behind his back and his forehead grazing the ground as he was forced to bend tightly forward. He was inside a similar construction to the brunet – a small cage type area which looked like the sort of contraption owners put their pet dogs in when the needed them to stay in one place. The whole cage measured perhaps 4’ x 3’ and was about 3’ high. There were stout metal rods laced through the bars at the top of the cage holding the sides up to the roof and they were fastened in place with large sturdy looking padlocks. Neither man had room to move or alleviate their pains. They were well and truly captive.

The bruises inflicted on Starsky’s stomach and chest had tightened during his period of unconsciousness and now they set up a persistent ache in his guts, tongues of fire leaping through his chest and back and making the breath hitch in his throat as he tried to breath past them. He had no idea how long he and his partner had been left like this. Hutch’s forehead was resting on the ground and worryingly Starsky could see a trickle of dried blood emanating from his ear and making its jagged way down the side of the blond neck. He hissed at the cage next to him.


There was no answer and the way the brunet felt, he decided that Hutch was better off remaining asleep and so he closed his eyes and concentrated on his body and his surroundings.

He recognised the interior quadrangle of the stockade he’d visited with Nicky the previous evening. The sun was coming up over the top of the buildings and already the air was hot and heavy. Within the confines of the square, where the buildings seemed to lean inwards towards his cage, wrapping around him, there was not a breath of wind and the perspiration was already beading on his face and limbs and trickling down his nose to drop onto the sandy ground. From the level of the sun and the length of the shadows he estimated the time to be no later than 8:00 am and chillingly there was no shelter. It was going to get as hot as hell before too much longer.

The small stones on the floor of his cage were digging into his knees, but try as he might he had no room to move to alleviate the small pains. The cramped position was also squashing his stomach and making his feel dizzy and nauseous and his mind went back ten years to another time and another country where the Vietcong had treated him in similar fashion. For three days they’d kept him on a small wooden stool in a white room in a very similar position to that which he now found himself in.( see below) the only difference then had been that there were heavy ropes looping around his shoulders and ankles keeping his head between his knees and his body hunched into an over-exaggerated foetal position. Then he’d been nineteen, and his captors had wanted to break his mind as well as his body. Now, his 29 year old body was beginning to relive the pains he’d tried desperately to forget. Lost in his black memories, he whimpered quietly and the sound of his own voice brought him back to awareness.

His back muscles burned from being forced into the crouched, arched position and his shoulders were beginning to cramp. He tried to wiggle them to get some blood circulating in them, but the combination of shackles and bars was sufficient to keep him firmly anchored into one place. His neck hurt from being unable to support his head in that awkward situation and he tried to lean a little further forward so that he could rest it against the bars in front of him. That worked and for a moment, Starsky revelled in the small comfort.

The worst pains though, were in his legs. They were folded beneath him and the weight of his body was on top of them, severely impeding the circulation so that he had a vicious case of pins and needles in his lower legs, beneath the knees and in his feet. But he knew that that was only the start. Before long, the pins and needles would be replaced by a warm, fussy feeling as his legs turned blue and then, the knifing pains would start. And when, or if, they ever let him out of his tiny prison, and the circulation returned! He remembered the cruel laughs of his Vietcong captors as he’d rolled from side to side on the hard floor of the room and the pains knifed through the whole of his lower body and lanced into his guts twisting them like a knife.

Again, the brunet shook his head as far as he could, from side to side, ridding himself of the crippling memories. It had taken him ten long years to leave them behind and he wasn’t going to allow his brother and some freaking priest to reinforce them again.

As he tried to get his head back into gear he heard a faint sound from the cage at the side of him. It was accompanied by a groan and a clang as Hutch’s head hit the bars above him.

‘What the fuck?’ Hutch moaned as he came back to painful consciousness.

‘Hey partner, welcome to the Shoshone Hilton’ Starsky muttered wryly.

Slowly the blond turned his head sideways. ‘I take it we aint in Kansas Toto?’

‘No, but I sure as hell wish I could click my heels together. Come to think of it, I'd like to just move ‘em a bit’. Starsky watched as his partner slowly tested his limits; what moved; what didn’t and how much each movement hurt.

‘You ok Hutch?’

‘Marvellous! Remind me to thank the concierge. Now what d’we do?’

Starsky sniggered. ‘Work on our tans? It’s gonna get hot’. He was still clothed only in his boxers and the thought of the harsh sun on his naked back was something he preferred not to dwell on.

‘Ya think? Where’s that prick of a brother of yours?’

‘Dunno. But I sure as hell hope someone comes out some time soon. This is freakin’ me out’. Starsky said with feeling.

‘Hey, you ok Gordo. D’ya think they damaged something inside. Nick seemed to enjoy himself a bit too much there’.

The brunet grunted. ‘No, I don’t think my guts got rearranged too much. Its just…..being like this……too close to what happened ya know, then’.

Hutch’s heart missed a beat. ‘In the war? They did this to ya then?’

‘Almost the same. Ropes, not a cage. But the effects were the same’.

‘Jeez buddy, I had no idea. How long did they….?’

Starsky raised his head painfully and grinned wryly. ‘Three days’.

That took the wind out of the blonde’s sails and for a while there was silence in the large square as both cops tried to come to terms with their current situation.

Hutch had never been in such a predicament before and his muscles were beginning to cramp already. He couldn’t imagine how he would feel in an hour and the thought of his partner having had to put up with this sort of treatment, alone and scared, for three whole days left his mind reeling. Just how inhuman could men be? He tried to shift his weight off his legs, but couldn’t get enough height to relieve the ache and numbness and instead he tried to think about their situation and how they would be able to get out of this one. He sometimes wondered, with the amount of times they’d been held captive, whether they should have taken “Houdini” lessons rather than “Police 101”.

An hour later, the sun had climbed further up into the milky blue sky. The temperature had hiked up another ten degrees and Hutch could already feel the heat on the exposed skin of his back beginning to glow. Another few hours of this and he’d have a real tan developing, if not worse.

A clock, somewhere inside one of the buildings struck 10:00 and a door in the corner of the square opened. Although he couldn’t bring his head up far enough to be able to see, Starsky heard the creak of the hinges and the bang as it swung closed. There was a pause and then two dusty shoes appeared in front of his cage. The shoes bent at the toe and he saw knees, wrapped in denim. Painfully he squinted upwards and coughed as a lungful of blue cigarette smoke hit him in the face.

‘It didn’t have to be like this Bro. if you’d just lower your holier than thou principles and see sense, this would all be over’ Nicky said kindly.

‘Nick, get us outa here, for fucks sake huh?’

‘Tell the Rabbi you’ll tell him what he wants to know and he’ll let you out’.

Starsky lost the temper he’d been trying to keep in check, the fire coursing through his veins and blotting out the pains in his stomach and back.


‘What’re the security arrangements for LAX?’

That brought the brunet up short. ‘LAX. How the fuck do I know? I don’t have anything to do with airport security’. And then the enormity of what Nick asked hit home, leaving the brunet cold, despite the fiery heat of the stockade. ‘No Nick, not that. The airport is your next target? Drugs I can believe, the odd burglary I can excuse. But mass murder? Listen to yourself! Don’t so this. Not this. He’s sick and he’s conditioning you to follow him. Please…..Nick…..let us out and we can get you out of here’.

But Nick gave him a pitying look. ‘You have no idea!. But please David, change your mind. D’ya think I want to see you like this? I don’t want to see my brother hurting’.

‘Could’a fooled me after last nights little display’.

The younger man knelt down again and put his face up to the bars. ‘You know I had to put a show on for the guys, or they’d never believe I could get you to change your mind. I didn’t hurt ya too much did I?’

Starsky didn’t answer but glared at his younger brother.

‘You beat him into unconsciousness, ya moron’ Hutch muttered from the other cage. Nick glared at him.

‘Shut up Goy. I don’t want filthy Goy talking to me huh? You’ve always showed how much ya hated me. Ya never made any attempt to like me. Well now who’s got the upper hand? Now who’s in a cage while I’m out here free as a bird. It’s your fault my brother is here. Without you he’d have helped our cause. He knows his faith!’

‘Nick listen to yourself. Just shudup an’ listen huh’ Starsky said, shocked to the core by his brother’s outburst.

But further discussion was cut short as at that moment the door opened again and the Rabbi swept out, his robes brushing the sandy earth.

(*) Please see Merletheearle's chapter of TAG for the full version of Starsky's treatment in Vietnam. Ideas repreoduced here with kind permission of the original author.

Chapter 9

The Rabbi walked purposefully across the compound and stopped beside the two cages. Both detectives tried to look up at him but in their confined space they could see his shoes and no further.

‘Nicholas, what are you doing?’ the deep resonant voice asked.

‘Trying to get him to see some sense’ Nick’s voice explained.

‘And do you think you’ve succeeded?’

There was a pause and Starsky sincerely hoped the pause was accompanied by a shake of his brother’s head.

‘I thought as much. It was wrong of you to bring him here. He’s seen too much of our operation now, and being a policeman, he would not really be expected to divulge information freely. A leopard, as they say, will never change his spots’.

Nicks feet moved in the dust. ‘I thought I could make him change his mind. I still can’ the younger man said with a note of desperation in his voice.

‘Shudup Nick. He’s not gonna listen an’ I’m not gonna change my mind’ Starsky spat out, sick of being talked about as though he wasn’t there.

The Rabbi’s shoes moved as he knelt and looked into the cage. He had a sad smile on his face as he looked at the confined space. ‘Not yet, perhaps. But one of the things we learned from the events of the holocaust was the art of erm….persuasion. Perhaps after some more time in your little domain, you may think differently’.

‘Not likely, ya sick son of a bitch. Look, its me ya wanted, let Hutch go. He’d never have known about this if it hadn’t been for Nick. This is between you my brother and me. Just leave him out of it huh?’

The smile widened. ‘I can’t do that, David. He’s seen our outfit too. Besides which, perhaps the extra bit of leverage might help to change your mind. He stays!’

Starsky saw the shoes move and the face disappeared from his view. ‘What’re ya gonna do now? Isn’t it against your beliefs to inflict pain?’

He heard the gentle snort of derision. ‘I’m not inflicting anything. Mother Nature, on the other hand, may have a different view’.

The shoes left and within moments Starsky and his partner were left alone in the courtyard. There was silence for a minute or so and then Hutch, who had remained silent throughout the interchange with Nick and the Rabbi spoke up.

‘Well that went well’.

The brunet leaned his head against the bars. ‘Sorry partner. I shouldn’t have lost it! It’s just that every time Nick shows up there’s trouble’.

‘Ya think? So. What’s the plan?’ Hutch asked quietly.

‘Other than sitting here an’ bakin' I dunno. Any suggestions?’

Hutch turned his head left and right. ‘Its gonna get hot pretty quick and I don’t see anything that’s gonna cast a shadow across here. S’pose we just sit tight an’ roast’.


By midday, with the sun directly overhead, both men were beginning to feel the effects. Hutch’s legs had long ago passed from the pins and needles, then numb stage. Pains shot up his thighs and back almost with each breath and lanced up into his chest.

At first he had felt vaguely nauseous, his stomach being squashed up against his diaphragm by the cramped position, but the nausea had now turned into full-scale head throbbing sickness. Over the course of the morning, as the temperature had climbed higher and higher in the compound he had started to sweat. At the beginning, the beads of moisture on his skin had felt cool and almost refreshing, but as the morning wore on, the sweat evaporated faster than it could cool him down. With his hands held fast behind his back and his stomach and chest pushed against his thighs, he had no way to change position to allow the moisture trapped in the folds of his skin to dry or cool him. He’d started to breathe faster as he became more overheated and by the middle of the day, he was beginning to see the world through a red haze of heat and pain.

Hutch’s skin always carried some tan. He lived in California where it was hard to avoid the sun and he enjoyed an outdoor lifestyle when he got the chance. But now the skin on his back felt as though it was on fire and he knew that before too much longer he was going to blister and burn. Coupled with that, the good Rabbi had seen fit to leave them without water during the morning and now his tongue felt dry as sandpaper in his mouth and his lips stuck to his teeth.

Starsky was faring little better. His olive toned skin afforded him a little more protection than the blonde’s, but the sun was vicious and he too was beginning to feel the effects. The damage the Vietcong had inflicted on him all those years ago also came back to haunt him now. Twice during the morning he had gotten cramp in his hips and had cried out in desperation against the crippling pain, frantic to straighten his leg to relax the muscles.

But the most fearful aspect for the curly haired man were the flashbacks. He’d spent so long trying to forget his treatment in the POW camp. His nightmares, which had shaken him awake each night for years after his release, had abated now so that it was only in times of severe stress or sickness did they return. But here’ forced into similar conditions that he’d had to endure before, they were coming at him thick and fast.

Another memory hit and he shuddered, not realising he’d cried out loud, but Hutch heard him and rattled against the side of his cage.

‘Hey Starsk. C’mon buddy. Snap out of it. You’re here, with me. C’mon Gordo. STARSKY’. He saw the shuddering cease and the brunet head raise up a little. And then he heard the deep, shuddery sigh.

‘Sorry Pal…. Better now…. How’re ya holdin’ up?’

Hutch snickered, his voice coming out in a thick, gasping fashion. ‘Another twenty minutes at gas mark 6 an’ I’ll be ready. You?’

‘Same. It’s only the thought of what I’m gonna do to Nick that’s keepin’ me goin’.

They lapsed into silence again, each man trying to ignore the fire in their muscles and the burn on their backs. The worst pains were from having nowhere to rest their heads unless they knelt right forwards and rested them on the earth floor. To do anything else put added pressure on neck and back muscles which were already under an enormous amount of strain.

At just after 1:00pm, the Rabbi and another of the men came back out to see them and once again knelt down at the side of the cages, the priest on his knees and the other man lazily smoking a cigarette and looking bored. He looked at the brunet first, noticing the angry blush on the tanned back, the points of each spinal bone red and beginning to blister.

‘Are you ready to come into the shade and tell me what I need to know?’ he asked gently. ‘Its so cool inside and you could slake your thirst with some ice cold water. Maybe splash a little on your back and wipe your face’.

Starsky listened to the seductive, tempting words. ‘Go to hell’ he managed to grind out. He saw the shoes move towards Hutch’s cage; the first time the Rabbi had actually acknowledged the blonde’s existence.

Without looking back at the curly haired cop, he took the cigarette from his companion’s hand and stubbed it out through the bars on Hutch’s back.

The blonde’s body jerked back and hit the roof bars of the cage in shock as a yelp escaped him. But then he clamped his lips firmly shut and breathed deeply through his nose.

Starsky’s head hit the bars of his own cage as he tried ineffectually to get to his partner. ‘You get away from him’ he yelled. ‘It’s me you want, not him. I’ll kill the lot of ya when I get the chance’.

The man at the side of his cage kicked at the bars and grinned, glad to see some reaction from the penned detective.

With a sad shake of his head, the Rabbi stood and walked quietly away. ‘Give them a while longer’ he said over his shoulder as the other man followed him.


By late afternoon, the sun was beginning to loose some of its ferocity, but it had already taken its toll on the two detectives. Hutch was now slumped with his side leaning against the bars at the side of his cage. He’d come to the end of his human reactions some time ago. Mid afternoon had been the hardest for him, when the sun had been at it’s hottest and he could feel the skin on his back burning and blistering. The pains of the burns almost eclipsed the pains from his cramped muscles and ominously, he was no longer sweating.


The voice from the other cage was a raw whisper and for a moment it didn’t penetrate the fog clouding the blonde’s mind. Most of the afternoon, they had been quiet, their strength and resolve being saved for breathing and enduring. He tried to shake his head, but the thundering ache in it stopped him before he could try the manoeuvre a second time.

‘Yeah?’ the word came out as a dry croak.



One word conversations. It was the only type they had strength for, but both partners needed the contact, if not physical, then verbal.

‘Think…..sumthin cool’. Starsky’s voice gave out on the last syllable and he coughed painfully.







‘For ….what?’ the blond panted.


‘Uh huh’

Starsky’s head rested wearily on the ground in front of him, his back muscles screaming for release and his legs feeling oddly dissociated. His mind was a fevered whirl, one moment lucid and thinking of ways to survive the ordeal, at other times taking his back to the rain forests of Vietnam. His tongue felt huge in his mouth, the moisture having long since evaporated away until he was dry as a bone. He tried to swill it across his dry teeth again, but the skin felt like a rasp and the tongue had swollen in his mouth so that talking and swallowing were difficult.

His mind was taking him off to another place again when he heard the door of the compound open and moments later shoes surrounded the cage. There was a clanging sound above him and the ear splitting shriek of metal grinding against metal as the sides of the cage collapsed outwards and Starsky’s body toppled sideways. As he looked around him he saw too that Hutch was being liberated also and he wanted to tell the blond to be careful and not to try to straighten his legs too soon.

Bitter experience told him that being incarcerated for so long and forced into one position, the circulation would burn like white fire through his muscles when he tried to move and he’d learned back in the camp to take first movements slowly.

But Hutch had no such memories and as he fell sideways onto the ground, he straightened his long, cramped legs. The indescribable pain took him completely by surprise and he was unable to quiet the scream that was ripped from his throat, ending in a painful sob as the fire licked at his legs, back and chest. He rolled over onto his back and felt the sickening pop as blisters burst down the length of his spine.

Starsky uncurled himself more slowly, but still the action was a painful one and he closed his eyes, shutting out the sight of the men around him as he groaned and paused, waiting for cramped muscles to relax.

His comfort was short lived however as rough hands took hold of him under his arms and dragged him and Hutch to their feet and towards the side of the quadrangle and towards a stand pipe in the corner, the Rabbi watching as they went.

Chapter 10

The first blast of cold water took his breath away, the cold feeling like knives entering his overheated skin after the heat of the cage. Starsky‘s breath hitched in his throat as the water from the hose pipe coursed over his skin. Unable to get his rubbery, useless legs to hold him upright, he’d collapsed onto his knees next to his partner, his hands still secured behind his back.

When the men had taken them from their motel room, they’d been wearing nothing more than their boxer shorts and of course hadn’t been given a chance to dress. In the cages and in the heat, it hadn’t mattered too much although a shirt might have stopped their skin from blistering. But now, after five minutes being blasted by the cold water, the shock to their overheated systems left them shaking, their teeth chattering in their heads as they fought to breath past the inundation.

They were still surrounded by the Rabbi, two of the other men and now Nicky lurked in the background, unable to make eye contact with his older brother now that he’d seen the damage inflicted on his back. Starsky shook the water from his curls and blew a fine spray through pursed lips. It seemed pointless to say anything to their captors. What they wanted to know, he simply couldn’t tell them. But it didn’t stop the Rabbi from trying again.

He took hold of a handful of the sodden curls and jerked Starsky’s head back so that the kneeling man was forced to look up into the Rabbi’s face.

‘Are you ready to tell me the security arrangements for the airport?’ he asked amicably.

The brunet said nothing and the hand on his head tightened its grip.

‘You know you can help our cause. You need only tell me numbers of guards, locations, types of scanners. We’ll do the rest and you won’t be implicated further’.

‘I don’t know how many more times I need to say it’ Starsky said thickly around his swollen tongue. ‘I have no idea about the airport. I just go there to fly, like anyone else. We have no jurisdiction there’.

The Rabbi flung the curly head down so that Starsky’s chin cannoned off his chest. ‘You’re lying. You work in the city. You’re a cop and you must know about the security. It’s your job!’

‘He’s telling the truth’ Hutch gasped between shivers. ‘We don’t know shit about LAX. Why would we? They have their own security’.

‘You’re lying!’ the man closest to the blond yelled and kicked out at him, catching the big cop in the ribs. Hutch was knocked sideways and curled his legs up to his chest to protect his stomach from further blow, but the Rabbi put his hand up.

‘Enough! Perhaps a different sort of encouragement. Bring them’.

Hands took hold of both men and Starsky tried to get his legs under him to support his weight, but they refused to work and he was dragged into the building, his feet skinning on the rough ground. With Hutch being dragged along behind him, they entered the dark interior and along a windowless corridor. They passed what looked like a kitchen on the right hand side and paused outside a door next to it. The Rabbi opened it and a blast of cold air escaped. The party entered the cold room.

Inside the refrigerated room, sides of beef hung from hooks from the ceiling, other cuts of meat arranged neatly on shelves around the perimeter. The atmosphere was frigid and dry and the breath misted as the men breathed out.

Without further ado, the two men holding on to Starsky and his partner dumped them down onto the ground and quickly unfastened their manacles, pulling their arms around to the front of their bodies and refastening them. Starsky stifled a groan as tense and cramped muscles protested the sudden move, but couldn’t hold back the deeper groan as he was forced to his feet. His arms were pulled up and the cuffs were looped over a meat hook directly above him, pulling him up onto his toes, the metal of the manacles cutting into his wrists. The hook was snapped shut and the brunet was left dangling.

Hutch was given the same treatment, hung so that he and Starsky were back to back and the Rabbi asked one more time.

‘Save yourselves any further discomfort and tell me the security arrangements for the airport’.

The brunet managed to stop his teeth from chattering long enough to grind out a suitable curse and with a final look at the two hanging men, the Rabbi and his party left the room, closing the heavy, insulated door behind them.

In the silence of the small cold room only the sound of clicking teeth echoed.

‘You OK buddy’ Hutch asked between gasps. The burned skin on his back, which had felt soothed by the cold water was now burning fiercely again, it’s comfort not being helped by the way his arms were stretched out over his head. The pains in his shoulders had redoubled now that they had been forced into yet another uncomfortable position and other pains lanced through his chest and the underside of his arms.

‘T’riffic’ Starsky managed to gasp. ‘Don’t care much for the room upgrade, but it’s good to…erm….stretch out. You OK?’.

‘Sure. Can you reach up to unhook yourself?’

Starsky looked up at his hands. ‘No….there’s a kind of latch over the hook. An’ I’m on my toes as it is. This is gonna get real uncomfortable before too long’. He looked down at the ring of water around his feet, and the drips still hanging from his shorts. The skin on his chest and legs had started to goose pimple already and the shivers he’d experienced were intensifying so that it set up yet another ache in his abused back. The temperature difference from the sun in the quadrangle to the freezing conditions in the room was such that his toes were already starting to go numb and his arms shook uncontrollably above him.

‘Utch... ya gotta try keepin’ movin’ Keep talkin’. If we don’t, or we fall alseep, I don’t think we’ll gonna wake up’.

Hutch tested the limits of his movements, dangling like a fish from a hook. ‘Well I won’t be runnin’ a marathon any time soon’ he shivered. ‘I can hardly move anythin’ without these damned cuffs tryin’ to cut my hands off’.

‘Well just keep talkin’ then huh? Don’t go to sleep’.

Hutch chuckled ‘It ain’t exactly a feather bed Starsk. So why d’ya think Nicks gotten so involved with these flakes?’

Starsky sighed, then groaned as another wave of pain shook him. He got his breath under control and tried to decide how to explain.

‘Ya know I lived with my Aunt Rosey for a while? Well, I never really told ya why. I…erm…. When Dad was killed I was 14 an’ I took it hard. It was tough enough for an ugly, bandy legged Jewish kid to grow up in that neighbourhood. An’ having a Dad who was a cop didn’t help none either. So one night just after the funeral, I broke into our neighbour’s house. I knew Tony had a gun, so I stole it, put myself on a bus to Queens and went lookin’ for the guy who shot my Dad’. He paused.

‘Go on’ Hutch said gently. It never failed to amaze him what happened in his partner’s youth and even in their current predicament he was stunned by what had gone on in the brunet’s former life.

‘Ok, well. Like I said, I was 14 an’ I didn’t get very far. One of my Dad’s pals was cruisin’ the streets an’ he saw me and picked me up. Asked where I’d got the gun an’ locked me up in the cells for the night. Kinda to scare me. But I was more scared of Ma and what she’d say. She freaked and decided I needed to get away from town, so she got her sister to take me’.

‘Turns out Nick saw it as desertion. He told me he never forgave me for leaving them and that coming here to find this group it was like the family he never had. S’pose he’s right. If I’d just done what was right, it’d never turn out like this’.

‘That’s bullshit an’ you know it’ Hutch said sharply. He’d had just about as much of Nick as he could take and he wasn’t about to let his partner take the fall for his brother’s short comings and criminal tendencies.

‘Maybe. I dunno. All I know is I always felt like I failed ‘em when Ma sent me away, an’ he just confirmed what I felt’ Starsky finished sadly.

Hutch had no idea what to say.

Keep talking he says and then lays something like that on the line. How the hell am I supposed to keep talking around that one huh? Of course Nick’s a prize prat, but Starsk feels so badly about what happened when his Dad died, how’m I supposed to talk around that one? And Jeez, aren’t you the one to talk about dysfunctional families Hutchinson. Between Dr Hutchinson the eminent surgeon and Mrs Hutchinson, wife and social climber, how can I say anything about his family. It’s not like I had the best of all childhoods.

Starsky noticed the silence and tried to heave a sigh, but the shivering had escalated to downright shudders now and each one set his spine jangling. His chest was splayed so that breathing was difficult anyway and his hands were turning an ominous shade of blue. In a sudden fit of rage he yelled out, pulling frantically at his hands until the skin tore and blood started to trickle down his forearm.

That’s it Davey boy. Ya left your Mom alone with a boy who was too young to know better. All so as you could go an’ be the big man and avenge your Dad. So then you get taken to the other side of the country where ya can’t help no-one. And as if that’s not enough, ya drag your partner into the mix. Any other lives ya want to screw up along the way?

His struggles calmed eventually until he could hear his partner’s voice through the rage

‘Starsk, hey Starsky…..STARSK. For Gods sake stop getting all bent over about this. We’ll get out of this. We just gotta keep our heads. Are you with me buddy? Starsk? Huh?’

Slowly the scratchy voice penetrated his anger and Starsky’s body hung limp from the hook above him.

‘M’sorry Blintz. You should never have been dragged into this. When Ma telephoned I should’a just gone’.

‘As I recall, I asked if I could come along’ Hutch said softly. ‘D’ya think I’d want ya to go through this shit on your own?’

With his back to the brunet, Hutch couldn’t see the moisture in his partner’s eyes as Starsky swallowed past the lump in his throat.


By the early hours of the morning, the cold had penetrated through to their bones. However much they tried to keep a conversation going, their minds were now too slow and numbed to really know what each other was saying. Shivering had stopped some time ago and Starsky was staring in sick fascination at the tiny icicle that hung from the hem of his shorts. His chest, so far as he could see it had taken on a bluish tinge and he no longer had any feeling in his hands at all. When he looked up, his nails looked dark and purple and there was no movement when he tried to wiggle his fingers.

Hutch hadn’t spoken in a while and with almost superhuman effort the brunet raised his heavy head and cleared his throat.


There was no response and he tried again a little louder. ‘Utch’.

He was rewarded with a low groan.



‘Don’t go t’sleep’.

‘Not sssleepin’

‘Good. Can’t sleep….. Not good’.


‘Uh huh? What ‘bout?’

A faint snort came from the man behind him. ‘Thinkin’ that cage was kinda nice ‘n’ warm’.


‘Starsk. Can’t feel m’legs any more’ Hutch’s voice sounded pained and far off.

‘I know Blondie. Just….hang in there huh?’

‘Starsky…..in case we….’

‘Shuddup. Just shuddup, we’re gonna make it. Think burgers, ‘n’ burritos’.

‘Now you’re makin’ me sick!’

‘K. Dedicated coconut ‘n’ liver’.

‘S’dessicated, moron’.

‘I knew that!…. Hutch, I think someone’s comin’

Chapter 11

‘Nicholas, tell me something about your brother. Something that we may be able to use to…ahh…pursuade him to tell us what we need to known’.

Nick looked at his hands, uncertain now what to say. He was confused. When he’d had the telephone call in New York telling him that there was this group, who wanted him and actually needed him, he’d leapt at the chance to be part of a family – to feel as though he belonged. The friend had been cryptic about their purpose, saying only that the group was of the old faith and that they were destined to make the world a better place.

When he’d gotten himself down to Shoshone, his friend Saul had met him at the airport and had driven him back to the stockade, showing him around the impressive set up and introducing him to Rabbi Levi.

Nick had been won over by the older man. Levi had taken him under his wing, treating him as though he were special; as though he were the most important man in the world; as though they could not possibly succeed without him. For days he’d sat with the cleric in Levi’s study, discussing families, the wrongs of the world and renewing Nick’s lapsed relationship with Judaism. Levi was seductive in his approach, never pushing too hard, but never letting the younger man out of his sight. Always pushing at the increasingly open door as the younger Starsky fell under his spell and started to drink in each and every word.

Levi had used this brainwashing technique before and to great advantage. His methods were always the same – find a young man who had either no family, or had a bad relationship with his family. Then he would take them and nurture them, ostensibly in the art of prayer, but beneath the surface he would be reinforcing that fact that they hated their families and that they had been wronged all their lives. He never said so in so many words. He never allowed his initiates to realise that he was turning already damaged minds against their kith and kin. And that was the secret to his success. Take it slowly, take it gently and he would win.

So for two weeks solid, Nick followed the Rabbi around like a little lap dog, eating at his table, attending prayers with him and even sleeping on the small single bed in the Rabbi’s personal apartment. At the end of that time, Nick had been transformed from rough and ready, womanising, hard drinking semi-criminal into a pious and pliant supplicant ready to do his teacher’s bidding.

At first, the sight of his older brother had sickened him. When he’d arrived back at his motel room the other night, he’d had to force the smile onto his face. But he also saw it as a vehicle to get even more praise and recognition from the Rabbi and so he’d woven his little story that all cops in LA knew about homeland security – especially when it pertained to their next bomb target – LAX. Levi had been sceptical to begin with, but so fervent was Nick that at the end of his talk, he’d convinced the Rabbi not only that Starsky would join them, but that he would freely give the information over to the group.

When Starsky had refused, saying that he didn’t know shit about the security arrangements at the airport, Nick was terrified he’d loose the favoured place he had in Levi’s circle and so he’d tried desperately to convince the priest that his brother was lying. And he almost believed it himself. In that same way that one utters a lie over and again until it is truth in your mind, so Nicholas Starsky built his brother up to be an all knowing paragon, who could be changed.

When he’d beaten Starsky senseless in the motel room, he’d taken out every bit of aggression and loathing for the boy who’d betrayed and left him alone with just his mother. He’d almost enjoyed the sight of the brunet’s battered body being manacled and dragged away. He liked even better, the sight of the unconscious blond. Hutch had always been a thorn in his side, and over the years, he’d convinced himself that if it wasn’t for Hutch, Starsky would have come back home long ago, and the two brothers would have been partners, setting themselves up to run the back streets of the city. The green eyed jealous monster sitting on Nick’s left shoulder laughed as he saw the blood trickling from the wound on the flaxen head.

Serves ya right Blondie. That’ll teach ya to take my brother from me.

The feelings had continued when he and his friends had stuffed the still unconscious bodies into the tiny cages and left them. Nick had given little or no thought to how uncomfortable it would be, or what the effects of the sun would be, but by late afternoon, when the semi-conscious men had been liberated and he saw the angry burns on his brother’s back, and saw the proud and defiant way the two detectives held themselves, while in obvious pain, he started to have certain nagging doubts.

Did David really know about LAX? He thought he did, but had he made that up? Was he as bad as he’d lately been remembering? Did he really desert his family? Did he deserve the treatment he was getting?

Levi saw the indecision in his young follower’s eyes and stepped forward, putting a fatherly hand on Nicky’s shoulder.

‘Nicholas, remember the cause. You have served the faith well these last few weeks. Don’t weaken now. Just this final push, and the Jewish nation will have the liberty they’ve always deserved. Just think. Is there one thing that we may be able to use as additional leverage?’

Almost all his doubts fled as he looked up into the older man’s eyes. How could he have doubted Levi? How could he have doubted himself? He closed his eyes and thought.

‘Yeah, I guess there’s one thing…..’


‘Utch….think someone’s comin’.

Starsky’s body was now so cold he could hardly feel it. His hands, suspended above his head had lost all feeling some time ago and had progressed through the rainbow from red through blue and purple to white, although his fingernails looked ominously dark. Pictures of arctic explorers with frostbite sprung to mind, along with horror stories of loss of fingers and toes.

But worst was the lethargy he felt. His head felt stuffed full of cotton wool as he tried desperately to make sense of his surroundings. Only the presence of his partner stopped him from closing down completely.

When Hutch heard the brunet’s words, his heart leapt. Finally they may be able to get out of this hellhole. His body had long ago stopped shivering and although the absence of the bone juddering shakes was a welcome relief, he knew from the medical training he’d had that once the body stopped trying to create it’s own internal heat, death could follow quite quickly. He’d tried to engage in conversation with his partner, but his brain was giving up the unequal contest with the penetrating cold and he knew he was descending into blackness. Even his limbs had stopped aching, but for that he was pitifully grateful. His shoulders had been on fire and his back had felt tight and ablaze.

With his back to the door, he couldn’t see anyone coming, but he heard the faint sound as the door opened and sensed his partner tensing behind him.

Starsky fought to raise his weary head. He too had stopped aching, feeling now intensely tired and heavy. He wanted nothing more than to go to sleep, although he knew he mustn’t. Only the thought of getting his hands on Nick kept the fire burning in the pit of his stomach and now his eyes widened as he saw the younger man standing to the back and one side of Rabbi Levi.

Four other men accompanied them and they came forward now and roughly held up the two detectives while their hands were freed from the hooks above them. The two cop’s skin felt cold and plasticy, as though they were made of wax and Starsky groaned low in his throat as his arms fell down to hang limply in front of him, still held together by the chains connecting the manacles. If it hadn’t been for the men holding him up, his legs would never have born his weight and his two captors propelled him out of the room and into the neighbouring kitchen, the blond hot on his heels, yelping at the sudden movement in his cramped and frozen muscles.

The Rabbi stood in the middle of the room with Nicky next to him. The younger man refused to look his brother in the eyes, and in his hands he held a neat coil of bright white rope. He ran the skein through his fingers as he listened to his priest talking.

The detectives were thrown into the middle of the room. Although not a hot place, the warmth felt wonderful on their skin after the frigid atmosphere of the room next door. But as circulation started to return, their hands and feet started first to tingle and then to burn with an internal fire that had them fighting for some self control.

The Rabbi walked forward and nodded and the two men at Starsky’s side lifted him to his feet so that he stood swaying between them. His feet felt as though red hot knives were plunging into them and he shifted his weight uncomfortably from side to side. The men at his side unclasped one of the manacles from his wrist and roughly pulled his arms behind his back, securing them there again. He gasped and sunk his chin onto his chest to strangle down the grunt of pain.

Pulling himself upright he stared defiant still at the cleric. Levi motioned Nick to join him and the younger man complied, still holding the rope in his hands. As Starsky looked at it, his heart plummeted into his feet and perspiration started to bead on his upper lip. He shuddered and swayed and would have fallen if the two men hadn’t still been at the side of him.

‘Nick, what’re ya doin’?’ he asked carefully. ‘What the fuck did you tell him?’

Levi chuckled. ‘It seems that even the strongest of us have an Achilles heel. And your brother just happened to mention yours’.

Nick let the rope fall from his hands, exposing some of its length and leaving the noose dangling an inch or two from the floor.

Indigo blue eyes shot open wide and Starsky tried to shrink back from the rope as if it was a serpent ready to bite him.

‘You yellow bellied bastard!’ he spat at his brother as the smaller man swung the rope in an arc in front of him. ‘Isn’t there anything ya wouldn’t do Nick? You told him about that?’

Nicky stopped the swinging and the Rabbi took the rope from his hands as the two men manoeuvred the brunet under a sturdy looking pipe running across the ceiling. He struggled hard against them fighting to get himself away from their grip, but the treatment of the past 24 hours had sapped his strength and he was no match for the two powerfully built men.

As the Rabbi put the loop of the noose over the curly head, Hutch watched in sick fascination as David Starsky, the bravest man he’d ever met, crumbled into a shivering and whimpering wreck.

As he felt the rope rest lightly on his shoulder’s Starsky cast terrified eyes on his brother before closing them. As the noose tightened around his throat, his knees felt as though they were about to collapse and one word escaped his trembling lips.


Chapter 12

Yay Dave where’re ya goin?’

Down to the park’.

Ya wanna play with the big boys?’

Dunno. Ma said to look after Nicky’.

Aww and ya do everythin’ your Momma says, like a good little boy huh?’

No! It’s just she told me to…’

Fine. If ya don’t wanna come, s’ok. But we’re goin’ over to the railway line, an’ John’s gotten his Pop’s BB gun’.

Well I….hold up, I’ll go take Nick to Mrs Ruben’s.

Well Jeez, hurry up, shmuck! Can’t wait forever.

The curly haired boy took hold of his little brother’s hand and paraded him through the back streets, delivering him to the neighbour’s house amidst protestations from the little boy that he didn’t want to be left. The older boy had watched John and Mark and Jamie play all through the long hot summer vacation while he’d been left holding his little brother’s hand. And now the offer of joining in was just too seductive. He delivered his brother to the reluctant neighbour, skipped back to the waiting crowd and happily followed them down to the railway. His Mom would beat him black and blue if she found out he was down there. She’d told him time and again that it was dangerous and he shouldn’t go with the older boys. But Davey had always been tall for his 12 years and with his dark curly hair and good looks, he was a hit with the girls in the schoolyard, much to the jealousy of the other boys. They tended to ignore him, and this offer to join the big 15 year olds came out of the blue.

As he caught up with them, he followed behind as they wound their way through the tightly packed houses and out towards the bridge and the railway, scrambling down the embankment until they were yards away from the trains trundling up and down the track. John set up some old tin cans on the fence a few yards away and Jamie handed him the heavy pistol.

David had held one before and had even practised the firing stance – side on, sighting down his arm at the target. His Dad had shown him early on how to respect guns and how to care for them, but had always been careful to leave his around in an unloaded state. The group were impressed by young David’s comfort with the weapon and even more impressed when he managed to shoot all five of the tins cans from their perch at the first attempt.

Hey, you’re good!’ Mark said with envy in his voice. ‘D’ya play grown up stuff at home?’

My Dad’s a cop’ David admitted, half proudly, half in an embarrassed way. He never knew what reaction he’d get from friends when he told them. But this group were suitably impressed.

Did he go to any robberies?’ John asked in a hushed tone. The group hunkered down on the ground, the other three intent and impressed by their new friend.

Yeah, loads’ David said proudly.

And what about murders. Did he go to any murders huh?’

Course! He’s a cop’.

Was there loads of blood ‘n’ bullets ‘n’ stuff?’

Yeah, but they don’t always get shot. Sometimes they get dead other ways’ David told them, warming to his task now that he had an audience.

Like how. D’they blow ‘em up? What about Lazer guns?’

Don’t be stupid! No, they don’t have lazer guns. But he told me about one the other week. This guy had been hanged an’ when Dad got to him his face was purple an’ his eyes had popped out an’ his tongue was all swollen'

'Yeah? sounds too good t'be true' Jamie said with a sly grin on his face. He stood and walked down the embankment. He picked up a length of old dirty rope and walked back to the group.

Looky here. What d’ya think we could make outta this huh?’ he asked playing with the rope in his hands.

We could…erm…play tug ‘o’ war’ David said, eyeing the rope a little nervously.

Yeah, or we could see how long it takes your eyes to pop out. GET HIM’ Jamie said as John and Mark jumped on top of the unwary boy.

Hey, what’re ya doin’? Lemme go, hey no…no don’t do that…no…nooooooo’.

The boys pulled their captive to his feet and frogmarched him down the embankment to one of the light poles that stood at the side of the railway line. It had an arm that stood out from the main pole about 10’ in the air and as David struggled to get free, Jamie made a loop at one end of the rope and pushed it roughly over the curly haired boys head.

Jamie don’t. S’not funny, lemme go’ David pleaded, trying to struggle away. He was strong for his age, but not strong enough and he couldn’t do anything but watch as Jamie threw the other end of the rope over the arm of the post and started to haul on it.

The noose tightened around David’s neck as the rope pulled upwards and within moments, only the tips of his toes were able to feel solid ground under them, David clawed at the rope around his neck, but Jamie was inexperienced at tying knots and the slip knot tightened ever tighter around his throat.

David had no breath left for talking or fighting, his hands scrabbled at the rope as the blood thundered in his ears and the world took on a red hue. He could hear the other two boys urging Jamie to pull the rope further up and he felt his toes leave the ground so that his struggling body swung in the air. The breath was whistled in his throat and his vision collapsed in on itself as blackness consumed him. His heart hammered in his chest as he realised he would very likely never see his family again and then the most bizarre thought came into his head – he’d never get to see what the answers were on the quiz Mrs Manners had set them before school finished. The thought swam in a hazy whirl through his head as unconsciousness approached and as the lights seemed to wink out the sensation of panic wrapped him in a black cocoon. He sobbed one final hacking breath – “Momma” and as the world winked out he thought he might have heard her voice.

How much later, he didn’t know, but he opened his eyes to see his Mom’s sweet face looking down at him. The other boys had raced off once they’d seen Rachel Starsky come into view. She had a reputation for strict discipline and a quick temper that belied her petite 5’1” frame. And now she knelt down in the dirt by the side of her eldest son and gently took the rope from round his neck cringing at the deep purple bruise, the abraded skin and the bluish flush to David’s face and lips.

Bist meshugeh? Danken Got! Gelibteh, tsatskeleh der mamehs!

Rachel lapsed into her familiar older language as she brushed her hand slowly over David’s face and a tear splashed onto his cheek.

He opened his eyes wider and sat up to hug his Mom

M’ok Mom. M’sorry’ he rasped at her, his young voice raw and scratchy from the damage to his throat and tears came unbidden to his eyes. He was 12. He wasn’t meant to cry any more, he was a big boy now, but he couldn’t help it. After the cruel trick the boys played on him, he wanted nothing more than to be wrapped in his Mom’s arms. He wanted her to hug him so that he could smell her familiar perfume, a mixture of lemons, furniture polish and baking. And he wanted her to stop hurting, knowing he’d cause her distress.

She half carried him home, a hand round his waist as he leaned heavily against her, although he towered over her tiny frame and Rachel had the doctor visit. He’d proclaimed David to be lucky to be alive. If Rachel had been moment a later, he would be dead. With instructions for chicken soup, ice cream and rest he left.

And afterwards, David wished for a while he was dead. Between his Mom alternately weeping, cursing him and on one occasion beating him soundly, he slept. But the dreams were all of serpents around his neck, or mermaids dragging him down into the water so that he couldn’t breathe. For years later, Nicky would shake him awake in the middle of the night as he cried out for his Mom to come and save him, and each time he’d wake, he’d be bathed in a cold sweat and trembling.


Hutch watched his partner’s transformation with awe. Whatever was going on in that curly head must be devastating for Starsky to crumble so quickly, and that one mumbled word, more of a moan than a name – Momma – what was that all about? It tore at the blonde’s heart strings.

And he watched also as Nick turned away, a troubled look on the younger man’s face.

Yeah, that’s right bozo, look away. What the hell have ya done at him now huh?

The Rabbi was staring at the sweating, trembling cop with a predatory expression on his face, but was surprised when Starsky opened his eyes and stared right at him.

‘So, David. Are you going to tell me what I want to know, or are we going to have a repeat performance of your childhood. Can you remember how the rope felt around your neck? How it pulled at your flesh? How you tried desperately to claw an airway with your finger nails?’

The rope pulled tighter and the noose took up the slack behind the curly head.

‘G go t to hell’ Starsky stammered. The defiance had been leached away by the re-enactment of the vicious memories, but he refused to break down completely. Not until things got too bad, and then he didn’t want to think about what he’d do.

‘Leave him alone, ya demented son of a bitch’ Hutch yelled from his place on the ground. ‘Starsk, hold on, just hold …ungh’ a booted foot struck out at the blonde’s side and kicked him to the ground where another connected with his back, sending bright white pain through his hips and down his legs.

The Rabbi was still smiling. ‘Your friend likes you very much. But he’s like those other friends. He’s going to watch while you hang. While your body pendulums from side to side’.

The rope tightened now until the knot was pulled under Starsky’s right ear and the rope cut at his throat, destroying his chance to breath. The panic was just too strong, the memories coming thick and fast. Pain he could deal with. Pain was something he could understand and endure. But this? This was torture of a whole different league and the curly haired cop broke down completely.

As the rope continued to pull his neck up, the dam burst. He tried to kick out with his feet at the men around him, but couldn’t reach, and with his hands fastened behind his back he was unable to try to relieve the pressure around his neck. His eyes flashed open one last time and saw his brother. Nick had never seen such fear in those indigo pools. Starsky was always the brave one, the avenging angel, the troops coming over the hill. But now, he seemed somehow shrunken and diminished and the younger man realised just how far he had gone, and how much he wanted his brother back.

Starsky’s heart hammered in his chest, the fear and panic washing over him in equal amounts. He was no longer in the room. He was back on the rail track with the three boys goading him on and he felt again the betrayal, desolation and fear that he’d tried for years to mask.

Hutch was still being held on the ground behind him, where he was out of sight, although Starsky thought he could hear his partner gasping, but he needed some contact. Some kindness in his final moments, and he sought out the only other familiar face in the room.

‘Nick…..help’ he gasped.

Chapter 13

Nick looked away, sickened at what he’d told the Rabbi and what was now being done to the older Starsky. The sight of his usually brave and fearless brother now trembling and panicked sent a shock wave through his body and his mind was in turmoil. Wasn’t David the one who’d left him? Wasn’t he the one who’d left Nick to fend for himself on those rough New York streets? Why should he care what happened to his brother? Why shouldn’t he just let things take their course? He felt safe and secure in the bosom of this family group. The Rabbi loved him. His fellow group members loved him. They loved that he was cool, that he had a criminal record and could help them with their cause.

But didn’t David love him too? And that was an unconditional, brotherly love. When Nick had gone off the rails, David had always been there for him. Sure, he might have beaten the crap out of him when he’d gotten him home and safe, but he could rely on his brother to keep him out of harms way. David was brave and fearless and would do anything for Nick.

So what was it going to be? The acceptance of this group of men who he’d just met, but who gave him a certain kudos? Or the unconditional love that one brother has for another.

His indecision showed in his deep blue eyes as he turned back and saw Starsky hanging from the noose. It had been tied in such a way as to not tighten when pulled, designed for death to come by slow strangulation rather than the quick tightening and breaking of the neck. Starsky’s face had a purple, bluish tinge to it now and his lips were working at trying to say something. Although his eyes were closed, his body still jerked frantically at the end of the rope even though his toes were mere centimetres off the ground. The pain filled eyes flashed open again and fixed on his brother and again the lips worked but no sound other than a desperate croak came out.

On the ground behind the hanging, jerking body, Hutch was trying desperately to get to his partner but was being held down by a laughing man as the other alternately punched and kicked at the blond. Another kick landed, this time straight into the blonde’s stomach causing him to grunt, curl up and then deposit the meagre contents of his stomach onto the ground. But still he fought to be at his partner’s side. And that touched Nick more than anything. Jealousy reared its ugly green head as he watched one friend struggle against pain and adversity to be with the other.

He was about to say something; to finally stop the sickening charade when the Rabbi held up his hand and the noose was slackened, depositing the sweating brunet body onto the ground. Starsky curled into a tight ball, his chin wedged against his chest and his eyes tightly shut. He made no comment as his body thumped to the floor, but Nick could hear tiny whimpering sounds emanating from the cave created by chest, chin and hair. They were strangled sounds as though the brunet was trying to stifle them, but the horror of the breakdown of his mental barriers was more than his overloaded senses could cope with.

Nick stood stock still, his body paralysed by indecision. Should he run to his brother and comfort him and blow any chance of being re-admitted into the group? Or should he allow things to take their course? Never the bravest of Rachel Starsky’s boys, he stood rooted to the spot as Levi knelt at the side of the shuddering body. Gently he brushed his fingers through the chocolate curls and Starsky’s head jerked away from the foreign touch another yelp escaping him as though the soft touch brought more pain and misery. The priest ignored the reflex action and continued to run his hand down the bare, trembling arm.

‘David, are you going to tell me now? Are you going to save yourself from more punishment? Your friend is hurting along with you, but you can stop this. Just tell me one little thing. Tell me how many security men are employed at the airport. Or their locations. Or what scanning devices are used. Just a little something to stop this from going further’.

The trembling stopped as the words penetrated the brunet’s fear clouded mind and he opened his eyes and stared back at the Rabbi with such venom that the cleric pushed himself backwards involuntarily. The man tried again.

‘Will you tell me?’

But Starsky wasn’t listening. It was as though the cop known as David Starsky wasn’t present at that particular moment. He’d heard mention of the one person who would make the memories go away and with whom he could feel safe. And he made a conscious decision to try to get to him.

‘Hu..tch’ he whispered through clenched teeth.

The Rabbi stood with a sorrowful look on his face.

‘They won’t tell us anything. Finish it’.


‘Hey honey, can I speak to either of the two guys I checked in the other night?’ Sheriff Modlinsky doodled absently on the pad by his telephone as he waited for the receptionist to ring through to the room. He’d been a little surprised that he hadn’t heard from the two men with their plans. He knew they wanted to get in touch with the curly haired guy’s brother and that they wanted to investigate the group, but he’d thought that, as this was his patch and they were “guests” he’d get some feedback from them.

So now he sat and waited, deciding that enough was enough and he wanted to know what, if anything, they’d learned.

Eventually, after a couple pf minutes, the young girl’s voice came back on the line.

‘Sheriff? There’s no answer from their room this afternoon. But their key is still on the pad. They haven’t checked out to go anywhere’.

Modlinsky sat forward in his seat. He wasn’t a veteran of the force for nothing, and now the things he called his “spider senses” were definitely tingling.

‘When did you last see them, d’ya recall?’ he asked.

‘I think it was the other night when they checked in. Not since. Let me check with Helena, the other receptionist. He heard a hand go over the receiver and a muffled conversation took place. ‘Sheriff? No Helena hasn’t seen them either’ she informed him.

‘You do know who I’m talking about – the two detectives from Bay City?’ he clarified.

The girl giggled. ‘Sure I know ‘em. Wouldn’t forget those two in a hurry’ she said, remembering the blond good looks and the twinkling blue eyes.

‘Ok thanks’ Modlinsky grunted and put the phone down. Pushing his chair back he grabbed his hat, his gun and his cuffs from the window ledge behind him and strolled out into the office. His was only a small outfit. He knew each of his men personally and the five officers had worked with him for all their young lives. He coughed as he went into the room, half his men having come back from the early shift, crossing over with the other half who were just setting out on patrol.

‘Listen up’ he said loudly enough that they stopped what they were doing and looked up.

‘I think we got ourselves a situation brewin’ over at the stockade. Ya know I mentioned the two guys who’d come out from the city to meet their brother? Well, we ain’t heard from ‘em in over 48 hours an’ I’m just getting’ a little jumpy here. What say we go over there ‘n’ see what’s occurring huh?’ He said it as though they had a choice, which of course they didn’t, but the men all liked and respected Modlinsky and they started to get their weapons and equipment together.

‘How do we know they’re at the stockade boss?’ the youngest man asked. At 22, Ash Tetley was the youngest recruit to the department and fresh faced and raring to go.

‘Well we don’t fer sure. But when you’re tryin’ to find somethin’ that’s missin’ always go for the obvious first an’ work yer way back from there’ Modlinsky smiled. Ash was his sister’s youngest and although he would never show favouritism, he harboured a soft spot for the young man.

He watched as the rest of his team got themselves together, checking and rechecking weapons, ammunition and the like and once he’d had the heads up from them all, he signalled for them to join him and they split between two rugged all terrain vehicles and set off down the dusty road towards the stockade.


Inside, Nicky was wondering what ‘Finish it’ meant. He’d been prepared to sell his brother to the Rabbi for the price of acceptance into the group. He’d even been prepared to watch, with some satisfaction, as Starsky and his blond partner had suffered first in the tiny cages in the sun and then in the freezer room. His stomach had turned at the sight of David hanging by his neck from the noose, but ‘finish it’ sounded entirely too final to be anything good, and the death of his older brother was not something he was prepared to witness.

The four henchmen who’d been in the room since the start picked up the semi conscious bodies of the two detectives and dragged then from the room. Hutch’s body showed dark bruises over almost all of his stomach and back, his lip was cut and his left eye blackened. The burn blisters on his back had broken and the skin beneath showed raw and red. He fought to remain conscious so that he could get to his partner who was being dragged in front of him.

Starsky’s world had closed down to just the sight of the ground moving beneath him. When the noose had been looped over his head and snugged up against the skin of his throat, the memories of his near death experience as a child had hit him full force and with such ferocity that he was unable to block them out. Try as he might he couldn’t stop the barrage of emotions that swamped him, pumping the adrenaline though his system until he was dizzy and his legs were weak and rubbery.

And to compound it all, Nicky had watched! Nicky, his own brother, hadn’t lifted so much as a finger to help him. Added to the fear and panic of the moment was the certain knowledge that not only did Nicky hated him, but he had failed his younger brother and his Mom. He had deserted them. It was ll his fault. And now he was to pay the price.

The hands that pulled him up roughly from the ground now propelled him along the corridor and the brunet’s feet couldn’t keep up. He allowed himself to be dragged, his feet skinning and leaving bloody trails behind him. He raised his head once to look for Hutch, but couldn’t see him and he relapsed into his lonely black world as his escort pushed him into another, larger room and dumped him down on the ground.

Once again, Starsky curled into a ball, trying to blot out the world, but he was dimly aware of another body at the side of him. Fearfully he opened one eye and caught sight of Hutch’s battered and bloodied body landing next to him.

There were two things in the world that would revive Starsky from his shock. One would be his Mom, the other his partner. So now, he uncurled and stretched out his hand, grasping for the blonde’s arm. His fingers closed around it and Hutch’s hand clamped over his. As the brunet looked up, he met ice blue eyes and Hutch’s mouth twitched into a painful smile.

‘I gotcha Gordo’ he mumbled as the Rabbi stood over them.

Chapter 14

‘Starsk. Hey, stay with me buddy. Where were ya?’ Hutch locked eyes with his partner as Starsky’s focussed on him. Recognition returned and the trembling abated slightly as the brunet hauled himself back to the present. Not that the present particularly welcomed him with open arms, but he stretched out his body with a gurgling groan and looked around.

The Rabbi and his men had deposited them in a large open room. Starsky levered himself up until he was propped on one elbow so that he could take a proper look around. He didn’t like what he saw, groaned painfully again and laid back down, rolling over onto his back and then onto his other side as the metal manacles holding his arms together dug into his spine. The purple bruise surrounding his olive toned neck stopped him from speaking too much and now as he tried he heard his voice was husky and weak and his throat felt as though he’d swallowed razor blades. He swallowed painfully.

‘M’ere now. Where are we?’

Hutch took time to look at his surroundings. The room was long and narrow, undecorated, unfurnished and had two large windows looking out onto the outside. The floorboards they were lying on were dusty and unpolished and in the beam of sunlight that invaded the room, motes of dust could be seen dancing and drifting. A long forgotten and unused attic room sprung to Hutch's mind. The attic room he was never allowed to play in as a boy. The blond could tell by the quality of the light that it was late afternoon or early evening, which meant over 48 hours had elapsed since they’d been captured. And what a 48 hours! They’d been roasted, frozen and beaten to a pulp, and now, he had the distinct impression that things were going to get a whole lot worse.

In the corner of the room there was something that looked almost like an oxygen tent from a hospital. A whole corner of the room had been swathed in plastic sheets, which hung from ceiling to floor. They swung lazily in the breeze caused by the opening and closing of the door and rattled softly, disturbing the thick, dusty silence. At the top, the plastic had been taped to the ceiling with heavy black duct tape. The two panels swung open down their length, but it was clear that the leaves of clear sheeting overlapped and could be closed down. The plastic was similarly taped to the floor. In effect, if the entrance was closed, it would be like an airtight chamber.

The two detectives were hauled to their feet again and pushed towards that corner of the room and through the plastic enclosure. There, they were forced to their knees and pushed one against each wall. Starsky’s wrists, which were still bound behind his back, were attached to an eyelet cemented into the wall and Hutch’s were attached to a fixing on his wall also. Thus immobilised, the two men watched and waited as their captors stepped outside the plastic room and began to tape the leaves of plastic shut behind them.

When the makeshift tent had been sealed, the Rabbi stood at the side of the clear plastic “room” and smiled his infuriatingly sad smile.

‘It’s a shame you couldn’t find it in your heart to tell us what we needed to know. And it’s a shame too that you had to see our little operation. As you can imagine, we couldn’t possibly let you go now’.

‘We can’t tell you what we don’t know. I don’t know if you’re deaf or just plain stupid. The airport people have their own staff. They have their own security. I know about as much as you do about it’. Starsky rasped, pulling again at his bonds.

‘Be that as it may. Even if you are telling the truth, you’ve seen too much. And you have your brother to thank for that. But at least he’ll be safe with us. Say goodbye David’.

‘What’re ya gonna do?’

Levi squatted down by the side of the tent. ‘I always said I learned a lot from our past David. Especially the part about killing people without getting any of their blood on my hands. Welcome to my own, humble version of a gas chamber. Be thankful I let you keep your hair and your jewellery. My father was not so lucky!’ He got up and walked slowly to the door as Hutch heard a car engine start up outside the window.

For a moment there was silence in the room. With Levi and his goons out of the way, the two partners were alone together again. Starsky’s chin still rested on is chest as he fought with his personal demons. The memories and his recent experience with the noose were still too fresh for him to concentrate on anything but the here and now.

Hutch’s body ached with a vengeance from the beating. But he thought that nothing was broken although his ribs were severely bruised. He shifted uncomfortably, trying to free his hands.

‘How’re ya holdin’ up there buddy?’ he asked softly.

Starsky’s head snapped up and he seemed to shake himself. ‘M’ok. Sorry. M’fine. Not goin’ anywhere’. He cleared his throat gently and painfully. ‘You look like shit though. Are you ok?’

Hutch smiled. However bad he was, Starsky always asked about others first. ‘Been better’ he said lightly. ’So what’s the bastard got in store for us now? He said somethin’ about a gas chamber’

‘Yeah’, indigo eyes flashed around the plastic tent ‘an’ I got a bad feeling. Can you get your hands free?’

Hutch tugged at his bonds hard again, the metal cuffs cutting into his wrists. ‘No, not a hope in hell. You?’

Starsky tried his, grunting in pain as the metal sawed at the flesh of his wrists. He relaxed and suddenly saw the first tendrils of blue vapour seeping into the sealed off room. He pulled harder at his wrists, regardless of the pain and damage he was inflicting on his own hands.


The acrid smell of exhaust fumes filtered into their compartment as the blue tendrils snaked their way inside from the mouth of the hose pipe that had been inserted into the hole in the wall. Hutch understood now the meaning of the sound of the car engine, it’s exhaust fumes now beginning to fill their funeral chamber.

The wide diameter pipe infiltrated the all half way between the two men, but too far away from either of them for them to be able to block it off with a foot or another part of their anatomy. Starsky started to cough, the gas catching at the back of his already abused throat and his eyes teared.

‘Carbon monoxide’ Hutch spluttered. ‘Try an’ kneel up higher. The gas is heavy, it lies at ground level first. There’s clear air above it’.

With their wrists securely fastened to the wall, there was very little direction for them to go, but both men tried to get up onto their knees and keep their heads as high as they could.

The engine outside revved and more of the noxious gas poured into their plastic cave, setting off another round of coughing. They felt lightheaded and almost euphoric as the air around them turned a vague, ethereal shade of blue.

‘Hutch…can’t breathe’ Starsky gasped, sagging against the wall, his eyes closed. The damage he’d sustained to his throat made the effects of the gas harder to cope with and he felt his eyes closing.

‘Just try ‘n’ breathe’.

‘Utch….feel….sleepy’ Starsky slurred. He knew he should be terrified at the prospect of being gassed, but instead he felt dissociated and calm.

‘Don’t go t’sleep. Starsk….don’t…..sleep’ Hutch struggled to tug the air into his lungs, his head feeling lighter and more woolly by the second.

The indigo eyes struggled open and blinked owlishly. The brunet’s body felt heavy and tired and he sunk further down the wall, feeling as though he was submerging beneath the water. It wasn’t painful. If anything it was a woolly, warm feeling, as though he wanted to fall asleep laughing. It all seemed so funny now. The capture, the torture. Even his back and neck had stopped hurting as his eyelids fell closed again.

‘Starsk…stay with me…..don’t….sleep’ Hutch slurred, feeling the effects himself. His body was heavy and lethargic and the small part of his mind that still had coherent thoughts remembered the effects of CO poisoning. He struggled to keep awake and to keep his body high enough up the wall to be able to take advantage of the cleaner air until the last possible minute.

But the smell of the exhaust fumes was making him feel sick to his stomach and he felt himself beginning to float away on a cushion of gas. He seemed to be seeing the world as though he was looking down a long tunnel and as though he really couldn’t give a shit about what happened.

And then, as if from a great distance, he thought he heard a gun shot.

Hutch struggled to open his eyes again, seeing his partner slumped insensate against the other wall.

‘Starsky’ he wheezed, his voice sounding weak, as though he’d run a ten mile race. ‘Hey Starsk’ he tried again, and kicked out with his leg. It fell short, but the movement roused the brunet and he stared stupidly around him.

‘Hmm…Mom?’ he muttered before his heavy eyes focussed on hutch. ‘Ut…sh?’

‘Stay awake….gotta stay awake Starsk….heard sumthin….’


And then Starsky heard it too. Voices were coming own the corridor, closer and closer. The brunet pushed himself against the wall, hoping it was salvation and not the mad Rabbi come to hurt them again.

Through the distortion of the thick plastic screening, he saw the door to the room open and a young, fresh-faced man appear. The man stopped, taking in the sight of the gas tent and the two bound men, then went away, but the detectives heard him shouting for help.

With what looked like help finally on the way, Starsky’s body closed down completely. In anguish, Hutch watched as the muscular frame fell forward until Starsky's arms were pulled painfully to one side behind him and the brunet’s curls brushed the floor in front of him. He tried ineffectually to call his partner’s name, but the curly haired cop was deeply unconscious and Hutch’s world too was slowly greying as the poisoned gas began to overpower his system. He had sufficient energy for a final gasped ‘Ssstarssk’ before he too slumped against the wall and his ice blue eyes closed.

The same fresh faced young man appeared again at the door of the room, this time accompanied by Modlinsky and another of his men.

‘You did good Ash’ the Sheriff praised his nephew as they rushed into the room. The older man drew a pocket knife from his back pocket and cut a line down the wall of plastic sheeting, at the same time shouting for someone to edge out to see if they could shut off the engine. There was a muffled ‘yes boss’ and Modlinsky dragged the plastic walls to one side, opening up the gas chamber and letting the noxious gases mix with clean fresh air.

As he rushed inside, he saw that the men’s hands were secured to eyelets in the wall of the room and without having the keys to the handcuffs, he took the butt of his gun and began to pound away at the fixings. He finally releasing the brunet as Ash pulled Hutch’s limp body to the middle of the room and knelt by his side, rubbing the bruised chest and looking for signs of life.

As Modlinsky dragged Starsky to the side of his partner, Hutch spluttered once and coughed and his eyelids fluttered open.

‘Starsk’ he whispered, looking around in confusion.

‘Its ok Mr, your partner’s here. He’s gonna be ok I think’ Ash said, his young face looking earnestly down at the big blond. Hutch winced and tried to sit up, propping himself on his elbow as he looked at the unconscious brunet.

Modlinsky worked over Starsky, rubbing the cop’s burned and blistered back and chest and trying to rub life back into the limp form. Within minutes, Starsky too was coughing and spluttering and eventually, indigo eyes lashed open and focussed on the Sheriff.

‘Utch?’ he spluttered as Modlinsky smiled.

‘What is it with you two. Are ya joined at the hip or something?’ he snorted.

‘Oh yes, they’re definitely close’ the Rabbi’s voice sounded from the doorway and as Starsky peered around the side of the sheriff’s shoulder, Levi thrust Nicky into the room where he fell and skidded across the floor to land near his brother.

As the brunet looked up, he saw the Rabbi and one of his men were holding guns, their black muzzles trained on the group.

Chapter 15

The big SUV’s rumbled through the sandy flat lands towards the stockade, kicking up a line of dust that rose lazily into the air and hung on the windless plain, announcing the Sheriff’s arrival even before he was ready to get out of the car. In all the time the group had been there, Modlinsky had never had cause to go inside the compound. The men kept themselves very much to themselves and even when he thought they'd been implicated in the Mennonite deaths, he still didn’t have probable cause enough to get himself a search warrant.

But hearing about the disappearance of the two detectives from the city set his nerves jangling. He’d liked the two guys. They weren’t the usual cocky clever sorts that came out to see him, laughing about his rustic office and his tiny staff complement. These guys were straight as a die and interested only in making sure that the job got done. He was impressed. And for Harry Modlinsky to be impressed, there had to be something about this Starsky and Hutch duo.

So he’d waited outside the tall fences of the stockade and got his men together. Tetley, Evans, Ball, Gomez and Manger listened as he told them to be careful, but he didn’t really know what to be careful of. He told them to watch their backs and to watch each other’s backs, like he’d taught them. And he’d had them check their guns one more time before he marched up to the big heavy gate and thundered against it with the butt of his gun. There had been no answer and he’d tried again, even harder. It took someone who was deaf or stupid or both to ignore Harry Modlinsky, and he suspected that the groups, and especially their leader, were neither deaf nor stupid.

When he still go no answer, he stood back and aimed at the large lock on the gate, firing once into the wood and ducking away as the splinters flew high and wide. But it worked and he kicked his way into the compound and looked around.

It was ominously deserted and he told his men to be on high alert. That he didn’t know what they should expect but to be careful about shooting and if they had to shoot, they should aim to wound and not to kill. Unless they were in mortal danger themselves.

Modlinsky thought it strange that there was not a soul in sight in the compound. He’d expected a welcoming committee at least and he felt disconcerted that there was no-one there to ask him his business or try to get him off their property. His senses now on higher alert he motioned his men to fan out and start to search the buildings.

Evans and Gomez had only just entered the room on the right when they were ambushed by four of the Rabbi’s men. Crouching down they loosed of two shots, bringing the group members up short. Their Rabbi had told them to defend the compound. When they were dealing with two unarmed and weakened captives they felt big and strong, but they weren’t prepared to fight against guns and bullets. They put up very little fight and walked almost docilely out onto the bright compound their hands in the air.

Modlinsky and Ash walked further into the buildings, their guns raised and ready and as the Sheriff thought he heard a noise and peeled off, Ash pushed into a small and seemingly deserted room, seeing the plastic tent and the two insensate cops tied in the corner. He shouted for his uncle, then rushed to the sealed off part of the room, scrabbling at the slick plastic with his finger nails.

Modlinsky burst into the room a moment later and took in the sight, reaching for his penknife and freeing the two cops.

He worked over them feverishly and when they both came around his heart leapt. He hadn’t relished telling Dobey that two of his finest had died on his patch.

But then the voice of the Rabbi had shattered his illusions and he slowly stopped his ministrations and looked over his shoulder at the cleric.

Levi pushed a man towards them. He had curly hair and the same eyes as Starsky and the Sheriff didn’t feel it needed a detective to tell that this was the younger brother that the cop had been searching for. Modlinsky had his back to the door and surreptitiously he held his gun in front of his body out of the eye line of the Rabbi, biding his time and listening to the calm, but still crazy rantings of the man.

‘Did you think you were going somewhere? You may have preferred the easy way of death in the chamber’ Levi said as Starsky and his blond partner tried to focus on him. He ignored the Sheriff and Ash as though they weren’t there, speaking only to the brunet.

As Starsky started to try to reply, searching for some way to reason with the madman, he saw a movement behind the Rabbi. For a moment he thought it may have been more of the group coming into the room as back up, but then he saw a familiar uniform and realised Modlinsky had more men with him.

Levi saw the indigo eyes drift away from him and was alerted to someone being behind him. As the Ball came into the room, the Rabbi brought his gun up and aimed it straight at Starsky, his hand trembling as the finger sought for the trigger. The brunet glared back at him, but had neither the strength nor the ability to escape. He stared down the muzzle of the gun expecting death.

And then the world seemed to slow down, everything happening as though it was under water. As the deputy at the door took aim, Ash shot at the man who’d come into the room at Levi’s side, felling the man with one shot. Modlinsky turned from his crouch on the ground, bringing his gun up, but too slowly and the Rabbi pulled his trigger, aiming directly for the curly haired cop. Starsky closed his eyes waiting for the hot metal to rip through him, then opened them in surprise and alarm as he heard a loud yell. Nick had watched Modlinsky’s finger squeeze the trigger and launched himself in front of his brother, blocking the bullets path and taking the slug himself. It passed clean through the younger brother’s side and winged the elder Starsky on the right arm.

Modlinsky fired his own gun, the sound echoing deafeningly around the room and the Rabbi fell backwards, dead before he hit the ground as the rest of the Sheriff’s men ran into the room, guns ready and spoiling for a fight.

They saw the carnage in the room, two dead and Nicky’s bloody body draped across Starsky’s legs as the brunet tried to reach for him, blood dripping down his arm to his fingertips.

The sound of the gun’s discharge was eclipsed only by the sound of the one word ripped from the curly haired cop’s thoat.


Starsky was frantic to reach out and comfort his brother, to check if he was alright. All thoughts of retribution for the treatment his brother had stood by and witnessed went out of his head as Nicky’s head turned weakly and looked into his elder sibling’s eyes. A trickle of blood edged down the side of Nick’s mouth as he managed to pant out ‘Gotcha’. And then his head fell forward and his eyes closed.

‘Nicky!. Nick, c’mon, stay with me huh? Nicky stay with me here’ Starsky’s pains were forgotten as he tried to reach again for the broken body. Ash crawled round behind the two detectives and managed to unlock both sets of cuffs with his master key and immediately the brunet’s hands were free, he ran his fingers through the younger man’s curls.

‘Nicky? C’mon Bro, talk t’me Nick. Stay with me huh?’ Starsky looked up as Hutch knelt at his side. ‘Someone get an ambulance now’ he shouted as he cradled the curly head in his lap.

Hutch sat at his side, unsure what to do. Both men were weak from their treatment and in no condition to be looking after a wounded man. But he crawled to Nick’s side and gently rolled the younger man onto his back. The head fell back limply, the eyes closed and Hutch searched around for something to press against the glistening bloody patch on Nick’s side. Ash shouldered out of his shirt and tee shirt and wadded up the soft cotton garment to hand to the blond detective. He took the tee shirt and pushed it against Nicky’s stomach and ribs.

Nick groaned and his eyes fluttered open, looking up at Hutch and then sideways at his brother. Blood bubbles frothed at his lips, but he worked hard at forming the words.


Starsky carded his hands through Nick’s curls. ‘Ssh. Don’t talk. Just lie still, the ambulance is comin’.

‘Davey…. Need t’tell ya…..s sorry’.

‘Aw shudup Peewee. Just shudup an’ save your energy huh?’

‘Needed….t’tell ya’. Nicks lips formed into a twisted smile, which morphed into a cough and a groan as he curled over, grasping at his side.

Hutch kept pressure on the wound, smiling to reassure his partner that things should be ok, but he was relieved when he heard the two tones of the ambulance drawing closer.


‘Mr Starsky you really should take it easy. You have some quite serious injuries which still need treating. Are you listening to me?’ the doctor at the small hospital tried to get the brunet to lie back down on the bed until he’d been properly treated, but Starsky was anxious to know how his brother was faring.

In the ambulance where the three had been transported together, the paramedic had worked constantly over the bloody limp form of his brother while Hutch and the brunet sat back and tried to keep out of the way. They’d been given oxygen masks and clutched them to there faces as they tried to purge the remnants of the carbon monoxide from their lungs. Now that things had settled down and the adrenaline had stopped flowing, both men felt their own injuries keenly and neither had argued as they were transferred from the ambulance onto waiting gurneys to be taken into the hospital.

The doctor had scratched his head and said that’s he’d not seen both sunburn and frostbite on one body in California before. He’d examined both men in turn and given them a shot of pain killing medication first before deciding what to tackle first.

Starsky had second degree burns to his back, minor frostbite in two of his fingers, the large purpling bruise around his neck and the gunshot graze on his right arm. Hutch’s back was burned worse, with blisters and swelling over half the surface. He had frostbite in three fingers and a toe and both man were dehydrated and needed fluids.

The doctor called for his colleague and together they worked over the two cops. Starsky’s doctor examined his neck first, testing airways and humming and ahhing over the bruise.

‘Normally I’d want to scope that to see just what damage there is’ he said, shining his pen light into the indigo eyes.

‘M’fine. I can breathe an’ swallow an’ it don’t hurt too much’ the brunet lied, anxious to get out of the ER and to Nicky’s side.

‘I thought you’d say that. Look, your brother will be in theatre for another few hours. I’ll get someone to tell you as soon as he’s out, but in the mean time, you need to get yourself cleaned up’.

Starsky nodded and submitted to the doctor’s hands alongside his partner. He treated the sunburn first. The larger blisters and those which had burst were first debrided, and silver sulfadiazine ointment was applied over the whole surface of their backs, then covered with a swathe of white gauze. The blistered fingers were popped, debrided and dressed and eventually Starsky emerged from the curtained cubicle looking more like a remake of The Mummy than a Californian cop. He waited until Hutch had completed his treatment too, sitting by the table as the blond sweated and cursed when the blisters on his back were dealt with.

But then, with a final assurance that they’d check in at Memorial when they got back, they limped out into the waiting room and sat down painfully, clothed in blue hospital scrubs until they could get back to the motel for their clothes.

Chapter 16

Nicky was finally moved to a small side ward for peace and quiet and for him to recover. He’d been in theatre for five hours having his liver repaired, his bowel resected and his guts generally cleaned out from the damage the bullet had done. When he returned to the room he had drips in the back of both hands, a tube up his nose and into his stomach, a drain running from the stomach wound to a vacuum flask and a catheter into his bladder. He looked pale, vulnerable and too young. But he was alive, and for the brunet, that’s what mattered.

For Starsky the waiting had been hell. For Hutch it was even worse. The blond was beside himself with worry for his partner, and angry at Nick for having put his older brother into the position of having to go into the stockade to begin with. But he knew he had to bide his time to bring up the subject as Starsky sat by the bedside and waited.

The nursing staff, who had told the two men to go home and rest now felt responsible for all three of their patients. Starsky wouldn’t leave his brother’s side until he knew that Nick would make it and Hutch, of course, wouldn’t leave Starsky. The two detectives were swaying on their feet with exhaustion, but neither of them would go from the room and so, in desperation, the porters squeezed two further beds into the room and the doctors made Hutch and the brunet lie down. Still suffering from dehydration and with no prospect of them looking after themselves too much, the staff took the opportunity to hook them both up to drips too, surreptitiously adding a mild sedative so that eventually they both feel asleep, both on their sides facing towards the unconscious Nicky as though standing sentinel.

Hutch woke early the next morning as the nurse was changing the drip bag by his bed, He rolled lazily onto his back, then groaned as the tight skin felt as though it would split, rolling back onto his side to look at his partner.

Starsky had woken earlier and was once again sitting by the side of his brother’s bed, although he was still obviously in pain from his injuries.

‘Mornin’ Hutch grunted.

Starsky turned his head painfully, the bruise around his neck even more livid now that the colours were blooming. ‘Morning’ he croaked. The doctor had told him he had no permanent damage to his throat, neck or voice, but that he’d experience a sore throat, back and neck ache and a rasping voice or maybe loss of it altogether over the next few days.

‘Nick’s still out of it’ he rasped, looking sadly at his brother.

Hutch looked at the still form and grunted again, his mind still fuggy from the pain meds and the sedative. He was amazed Starsky was up so early, knowing that the smaller man found it difficult to tolerate drugs. Even two aspirin had been known to knock him out cold! He tried to relax back onto the bed, but his back was still a blaze of fire and his fingers and toe vied with his back for which could throb the most. His muscles were still cramped from the day he’d spent in the tiny cage and the poisonous gas had left him with a hacking cough. Altogether Hutch was not a happy blond bunny.

He laid on the bed going over the events of the past couple of days. Starsky needed to rest, he knew that. But the brunet was sitting up again in that hard chair looking out for Nick. He knew Starsky was hurting too. He’d learned over the years to read his partner’s body like a book. The stiff, straight back, the slight hitch in the breath, and the fact that he wheezed with every inhalation – all were dead give-aways. And all were as a direct result of the man in the bed. Nicholas Marvin Starsky. The bane of their lives! Hutch knew he needed to do something, otherwise his partner would never recover properly.

Hutch pushed himself up onto his elbow and then with a groan and a wince, he swung his legs over the side of the bed. He sat for a moment as the room swam before him, then stood with a yelp and another groan. Dragging the drip stand behind him, he padded over to his partner and looked down at Nick's sleeping form, his gut clenching as he saw Starsky rubbing his thumb over the back of his brother’s hand.

‘We gotta talk’ he said simply.

Starsky looked up, surprise in his eyes. ‘What about? Are you ok? Did the doctor tell ya sumthin?’

‘No Starsky, I’m not ok, but it’s nothing the Doc can do anything about’. He replied tiredly. He moved away to the bed at the far side of the room. He sat down on the edge of it feeling every one of his pains afresh and every one of his 30 years as though they were tripled. He hung his head down, trying to bite back the words that wanted to pour out of him, knowing that once said, they would be remembered and would be ingrained on his partner’s mind forever. He needed to be careful, but he needed to say this, for his partner’s good and for his own peace of mind.

Starsky joined him, pulling up a chair so that he could sit facing the blond, but at the same time keeping an eye on Nick. He arranged his own drip stand and sat back painfully, waiting. He’d seen that look in those ice blue eyes before. Hutch needed to say something that Starsky wasn’t going to like and he prepared himself, knowing what was coming next.

Hutch took a deep, steadying breath. ‘What are we gonna do?’

‘Do? What d’ya mean, what are we gonna do?’

‘You know what I mean Starsk. Don’t play that game. I mean what are we gonna do with him?’

The brunet’s face hardened. ‘I’m gonna take care of him. Why?’

‘He stood by and watched as that fucking madman tried to kill ya! And now you’re gonna take care of him?’

‘He was scared’.

Hutch snorted. ‘Nicky? Scared? You’ve got to be joking. He knew exactly what he was doing’.

‘He didn’t want anything to happen to us’ Starsky mumbled. ‘He was just kinda swept along with the cult. Y’know what it’s like. They brainwash ‘em’.

‘If they’ve got a brain to wash yeah’ Hutch said bitterly.

‘Hey that’s my brother you’re talking about!’

‘I know Gordo. The one that was ready to stand by and watch as the Rabbi tortured ya. Don’t ya remember that cosy little chat you two brothers had while we were in those cages? Remember how he taunted you? How he kinda forgot to offer you any water, any shelter?’

‘He took a bullet for me! How much more could he have done?’ Starsky said angrily, his voice giving out completely on the last syllable. He clutched miserably at his throat and coughed but no sound came out.

‘He caught the bullet because he got in the way. He was coming to you to rescue him because he knew he’d outlived his usefulness with the group. He was trying to save his own hide Starsk, not yours'. Hutch watched as the troubled indigo eyes closed down.

‘Not true’ the brunet whispered miserably, although he knew deep down it was. How could he make his partner understand about the talks he’d had with his dad all those years ago. How could he make Hutch understand how much it meant to him to be able to keep his promise to him. How he’d sat by his Dad’s side as he’d put his arm round him.

‘Always remember son. Blood is thicker than water. There are two things you watch out for in this life. Your family and your partner. In that order. Got it?’ and the young David had nodded solemnly as he digested that bit of wisdom.

And it had served him well over the years. He knew his Dad would be happy that he had a partner like Hutch. Even from their first few days at the Academy they’d been close and had been through a great deal together. But even closer than that was the relationship he had with his family.

Top of the tree of course was his Mom, who he’d die for if necessary. Rachel Starsky was her elder son’s reason for living and although he lived far away from her, he called her each week and had been known to drop everything and get on a plane if he thought she needed him.

Next on the list and drawing an equal second were his Aunt Rosey and Uncle Al, and his brother, Nick.

While his Aunt and Uncle had looked after him for all his teenage years, he’d loved them to bits. But Nick had caused nothing but trouble to him. They’d stood shoulder to shoulder in the school yard. Starsky had taken Nick to the Synagogue. He’d taught him how to fight, to look after himself and keep safe on the tough New York streets and had tried to keep him out of trouble. But Nick wasn’t the sort who wanted to be kept out of trouble, seeing an easy buck at almost every turn. And most of those turns got him into deep water.

Starsky sighed. What Hutch said had the ring of truth, but no-one was allowed to bad-mouth his brother. Not even his blond partner. He turned away. There was nothing he could think of to say, even if he’d still had a voice. Dismally he walked away to the other bed and with a grimace led down on it, turning on his side so that he faced the wall and tried to sleep.


Over the next day or so, the atmosphere in the room was chilly, bordering on frost. Starsky had led on the bed for hours, his back stiff, his muscles bunched as he mulled over exactly what the blond had said. He knew that Nick had criminal tendencies. He also remembered that sense of betrayal he’d had when he realised Nick wasn’t going to help them out. But Hutch was wrong about the bullet. Starsky wanted to believe so much that Nick had made a conscious decision to try to save his older brother, hugging that thought to him as if it could protect him from the cold, hard truth. And that truth was that Nick would sell his soul to the devil if it looked like he could make a sound investment.

By mid afternoon, however, the famous Starsky appetite had returned and the growling of his stomach echoed round the room. Stiffly he sat back up and looked around, seeing Hutch sitting by Nick’s bed looking at the sleeping man.

‘Is he ok?’ he whispered painfully.

‘Yeah, he woke a while ago. He asked where you were. I told him you were trying to get some sleep’.

Starsky levered himself out of the bed, noticing that his drip had gone. He must have slept, although he felt as though his eyelids hadn’t closed at all. Hutch’s drip had also gone. He padded over to Nick’s bed and perched on the edge. At the dip on the mattress, the younger man’s eyes fluttered open and a small smile spread over his face.

‘Hey Bro’ he said, weakly.

Hutch moved away to give the brothers more room, feeling a complete heel for what he’d said to Starsky that morning. But it needed to be said, if only for the brunet’s wellbeing.

‘How’re ya doin’? Starsky asked gently, brushing the curls from Nick’s forehead.

‘M’good. Davey…..m’sorry. Can you forgive me?’

The curly haired cop looked at the man in the bed and smiled. ‘You took a bullet for me. What’s to forgive?’

Chapter 17

2 weeks later

‘Nick just sit down an’ let me wheel ya will ya?’ Starsky fussed as he got his brother into the wheelchair and ready to go down to the waiting car.

‘I’m not helpless David’ the younger man complained half-heartedly as he sat back and allowed himself to be wheeled out of the hospital, a self satisfied look on his face.

In the two weeks since he’d come around from his operation, Starsky had been at Nick’s side almost constantly, arranging his pillows, getting him drinks, smuggling in bottles of beer. The brunet had driven himself almost into the ground, with no regard for his own recovery at all. And when Starsky didn’t recover properly, neither did Hutch.

The blond had watched in dismay as once again the younger man had started to wind the curly haired cop around his little finger. His whining, petulant voice frayed the blonde’s nerves and several times he’s had to bite his bottom lip to stop himself from yelling at both Starsky brothers that Nick was not helpless. But after that initial talk, where the brunet had clammed up on him and gone to lie quietly on his bed, Hutch had tried to keep his own counsel. Surely Nick’s company must come to an end soon and then he could get back to making sure his partner was getting the rest he so desperately needed.

So he endured the drive back to Bay City with as good a grace as he could, insisting on doing at least half of the driving to give the brunet a little rest. Nick didn’t engage him in conversation. During the whole affair the younger man had hardly said more than a dozen words to the blond. He’d ignored him completely at the stockade, Hutch not being “of the faith” and even in the hospital when Starsky had left the room, Nick pretended either to be sleeping, or just downright ignored him. And for once Hutch didn’t care. He endured Nick’s presence because his partner needed support, but he was thankful he didn’t have to converse because then he would have had to bite back the comments he wanted to make.

But even when Starsky wasn’t driving he was not resting, instead fussing over his brother.

‘Do ya want a drink Nick?...Are ya hot?...want to stop for the bathroom?’ The questions went on and on and Nick played his injured hero role to the hilt, grasping at his side when Starsky asked him to do something and playing on the agony he thought he ought to be feeling.

By the time they hit the city limits all Hutch wanted to do was to strangle him. It was Nick’s turn to sit in the back, stretched out on the big bench seat while Starsky sat in the passenger side front seat, his feet wedged up on the dashboard and his arms draped over his knees.

‘Where’s he gonna sleep?’ Hutch asked as the motels started to flash by.

Starsky gave him a pointed look. ‘At mine. Why? Did ya think I was gonna dump him in a hotel room?’

‘Starsky you need to rest. I need to rest. You’ve had it rough for over two weeks and he hasn’t helped. He hasn’t let up. “Gimme this. Get me that”. He has you running ragged and you need to heal’.

‘I’m not having my little brother in some crummy motel room. Not after he…..’

‘Took a bullet for ya. Yeah, I know’ Hutch sighed. ‘Ok, well we go back to mine and you both stay with me. There’s more room an’ I can look after the two of you’.

‘Don’t need lookin’ after, he does’ Starsky said, fingering the fading bruise round his neck self consciously.

‘Hey, I’m awake at the back here’ Nick’s voice sounded from the back seat. ‘Don’t talk about me like I’m not here! Can’t we go back to your apartment Bro?’

Starsky looked over his shoulder and smiled. ‘Hutch wants to play Mother Hen. Just for a couple of days. Then he’ll get fed up’.

Nick made a face that Hutch caught in the rear view mirror, but bit his tongue, biding his time. He drove around to his apartment and pulled up outside, watching as Starsky helped his wincing, groaning brother out of the car. Nick grabbed his side and doubled over as the brunet took hold of him around his waist.

‘Can ya get in there Nick? Let’s just get ya to bed huh?’

As they passed Hutch, walking into the living room he could have sworn he saw the younger man wink.

That night Nick had the bed, Starsky had the sofa and Hutch spent an uncomfortable night on the floor, his healing back not taking kindly to the hard, polished surface. By morning he was happier to be up and in the kitchen, easing the kinks out of his muscles. He brewed coffee for the three of them and fried bacon and eggs, which Nick, the reformed religious icon ate with relish.

‘We need to go down to the precinct and tell Dobey what’s been happening’ Hutch said as he drained his cup. He looked at his partner, challenging him to make some excuse about Nick having to come with them. He didn’t want the younger man left on his own in his apartment, but he had little choice in the matter. Starsky dodged his partner’s look.

‘Will ya be ok Peewee?’ Starsky asked Nick, who was lying with his feet up on the sofa.

Nick smiled back. ‘Sure, an’ don’t call me Peewee, Davey. Ya called me that when I was 4 an’ I hated it then! Or when I’m feelin’ better I’ll….’

The brunet grinned. ‘Like to see ya try!’ He stood and ruffled Nick’s curls affectionately.

Hutch got his keys and the two detectives went out to the car. Hutch watched as Starsky reached for the door, winced and flexed his right arm before using his left to close it. The bullet wound from the slug that had passed through Nick and hit his forearm hadn’t been deep, but with all the use that arm had been getting it wasn’t healing as quickly as it should.

‘Hey, you ok buddy?’

Indigo blues stared back. ‘Yeah, only hurts when I laugh’ Starsky grinned.

Hutch set the car in motion and pulled away, drawing out into the traffic on their way to the city centre. He drove quietly, his lack of sleep leaving him grouchy with a leaning towards downright miserable. He noticed the fuel dial on the dash was hovering on the quarter full mark after the long drive the previous day and decided to get gas. He reached into his back jeans pocket then cursed.

‘Hmm?’ Starsky directed the question at him.

‘Forgot my money. Shit!. Hold on, I’ll turn back’.

‘Hutch you’ve more ‘n’ enough’ Starsky leaned over the blonde’s shoulder and stared at the pointer.

The blond shouldered him away and snorted. ‘Humour me. I don’t wanna ruin my day by running out of gas’ he grunted, turning off the road, reversing and darting back into the traffic in the opposite direction. He gunned the engine and within minutes they were back at his apartment.

‘Hang on. Won’t be a minute’ he mumbled and headed into his house. He stopped, his hand on the door handle as he heard a voice inside. Cracking the door open gently he saw Nicky leaning nonchalantly against the door to the bedroom, phone wedged between his ear and shoulder.

‘Yeah Tony, been out of the city for a while…yeah, I need a job, but don’t call me, I’ll call you………no, just staying with a friend for a while…….yeah, I’m up for anything…….just get me the job – daytime, nothing late huh? Have to get my beauty sleep ya know’ he laughed and Hutch heard a voice at the other end of the phone.

The blond pushed the door open and walked straight over to Nick, wrenching the phone from his hand. ‘he’ll get back to you’ he said into the receiver before slamming it down on the cradle.

‘What’re you up to Nick? What’s your game now huh? You come over the faint invalid when Starskys around and yet you can set up your next job? Well not on my phone pal. Not in my house!’ he yelled at the still smirking man.

‘I need to get some money. And the sooner I get it the sooner I’ll be out of your hair’ Nick said coldly, trying to make his way back to the sofa.

Hutch put out a warning hand, trying to hold him back, but as Nicky started to round on him, Starsky walked through the door.

‘Hutch, I……Nick, what’re ya doin’ up’?’ he said, rushing to his brother’s side. Hutch watched in awe as the previously cocky attitude melted away and Nicky clutched his side again.

‘Just goin’ to the bathroom. Hutch saw me an’ he was helpin’. He looked up, his eyes challenging the blond to say something.

‘Well come an’ sit back down. Ya need your rest’ Starsky muttered, putting a solicitous hand out to help. Nick hobbled back to the sofa and settled down with a melodramatic groan.

‘Are ya ok now Peewee? Ya want a drink or sumthin?’

Nicky smiled wanly. ‘I’ll be fine. Just go an’ do what ya have to. An’ Davey? Thanks for…..ya know’.

‘Hey no problem. Hutch ‘n’ me’ll be back in a coupla hours huh? just rest’. He smiled fondly at his brother as Hutch headed for the door, unable to stomach the sickening display any more.

In the car, they were quiet, Hutch concentrating on the drive to quell the seething fire in his gut. How could Nick treat his brother like that? And how could his normally rational and perceptive partner be drawn in by the sham? He needed to do something, but what? If he had a show down with Nick, he’d blow any friendship with Starsky, and that was unconscionable. But he couldn’t stand by and just watch his partner being sold a lemon. He sighed in desperation.

They pulled up outside the metro and Starsky got out of the car. ‘Ya comin’ Blintz?’

Hutch sighed again. ‘Yeah, coming’ he muttered and dragged himself out from the drivers seat.

Their meeting with Dobey was a short one. They told him the salient facts of the case and Starsky made out that Nick, far from having watched the torture and done nothing about it, in fact telling the Rabbi how to hurt his brother more, was painted as the hero who saved the day and kept him from being killed. The blond balled his hands into fists to stop himself from shouting out that the Starsky version of events was bullshit. But slowly a plan was forming in his head.

That afternoon, once he’d deposited his partner back at his apartment, he told Starsky he had an errand to run. He drove the car back into town and stopped by at the bank, and then at another shop a little further along the road, making his purchase and returning home.

His back ached with a vengeance and his fingers that had suffered the frostbite burned fiercely, as he’d been told they would, as they recovered. But for the first time in two weeks, he felt happier in his mind. He had a plan, and when he had a plan he was happy.

So Hutch bided his time. The next day, the duo went back to work, to be greeted by a mountain of paperwork. They sat at their desks, Starsky with a pencil jammed between his teeth as he concentrated on the crime reports, and Hutch banging away at the old typewriter. By mid morning, the blond started rubbing his head and easing his back, as if the second night sleeping on the floor had finally got to him. He stood up from his chair and gave a loud, tremulous groan. Starsky’s head snapped up, ever alert to his partner.

‘You ok Blintz. Ya look washed out’.

Hutch groaned again quietly and put his hands round to his back, arching it backwards and wincing.

‘They said it’d be a bugger when it healed, an’ they weren’t joking’ he said, closing his eyes. He hated lying, but hoped the end product would be worth it.

‘Ya want for me to take ya home?’ Starsky asked, getting up from his own seat.

‘No, no. S’ok Starsk. I just need to go and lie down. Tell ya what. I’ll catch a ride back to mine and’ see you there later huh? Don’t worry. I’m good. Just need a bit more rest’ he smiled encouragingly as his partner looked at him doubtfully.

‘I can drive ya’ he said.

Hutch waved a dismissive hand. ‘With all that paperwork you’re gonna be here for ever as it is. Just leave me to it an’ I’ll be fine’. He shouldered into his black leather jacket and walked as casually as he could out of the office.

Catching a ride with one of the black and whites, he strode up the steps to his apartment purposefully. Opening the door quickly he saw Nicky jump. The younger man was sitting relaxing on the sofa, a bottle of beer in his hand and a bowl full of candies by his side. He eyed the blond with suspicion, looking around him fro his brother.

Starsky’s still at work. I wanted a word and to give you something’ Hutch said grimly as he sat down on the chair opposite.

‘Nick I want you gone’ he said simply.

‘And what if I don’t want to go’ the young man asked cockily.

Hutch smiled grimly. ‘You’re gonna go whether you want to or not. But I have something here to sweeten the parting. You’ve run Starsky ragged. You watched as he was tortured and did nothing about it, you told the Rabbi how to hurt him even more and then you just happened to get in the way of the bullet aimed at him. And now you’re milking your recovery for all its worth’.

‘Does he know you’re here?’

‘No, and he isn’t going to know about this chat. You’re gonna write a nice little farewell note and then you’re gonna get the hell out of here’. Hutch handed him an envelope which Nick opened slowly. The plane ticket fell out and he picked it up, read it, and looked up.

‘One way to England huh? Some sweetener. What do I do when I get to England?’

‘Do I look as though I care? I want you out of this house, on that plane and as far away from Starsky as you can get. What you do there is your own concern, but I’m sure there’s plenty of gangs and shady deals you can get involved in’. Hutch handed him a pen and paper. ‘Write. And make it good huh?’

‘Didn’t want to stay in this flea pit anyways’ Nick replied defiantly.

Slowly Nicky reached for the pen and began to scribble.


Hutch stood at the airport terminal window and watched the plane take off. It hadn’t taken Nick long to pack and just to make sure that the younger Starsky got on the plane and out of his brother’s life, Hutch had accompanied him to the airport, waiting uncomfortably with him until his flight was called. Then he walked with him to the gate and watched as he got onto the plane, just to make absolutely sure. Now he rested his head against the glass window pane and breathed a sigh of relief. He just needed to complete the last part of his plan, and hopefully his partner would begin to relax and heal.


Starsky walked through the door at 17:15 looking grey and washed out. He flung his holster and gun down on the table by the door, putting his shield, wallet and watch by the side and flung himself down on the sofa, sniffing appreciatively at the cooking smells coming from the oven.

‘How’s your back Blondie? Feeling better?’

Hutch appeared and handed him a bottle of beer. ‘Better, yeah, thanks’.

Starsky looked around. ‘Where’s Nick? Is he lying down? He needs to rest and…..what?’ he saw the troubled look on Hutch’s face.

Hutch handed him the note and sat down by his side.

‘When I came back I found this pinned to the door. he’s gone Starsk. I didn’t want to phone you at work. There wasn’t much you could have done anyways. I think he just waited till we left this morning and then packed’ The lie fell so easily from his lips.

Wordlessly Starsky opened the paper and read.

Hey Davey.

I needed to get away to think. I’ve put you to a shitload of trouble and you’re tired. So I’m out of here. Don’t try and find me. I’ll ring when I’m ready. Don’t think badly of me.

Love you


The brunet looked up. ‘He’s gone’.

‘Yeah, I know. But he’s a big boy. He can look after himself’ Hutch said softly. He hated to see Starsky so down, but knew it was for the best. Any more trouble from Nick would have been too much for the curly haired man to bear.

‘He was still hurtin’.

‘Hey, he’s probably somewhere setting his next deal up, ya know?’ Hutch said lightly. ‘Nick’s a survivor, he’ll be around’.

‘I know. I just kinda liked having my little brother around’.

‘I know you did. But now you can rest and get well yourself’.

Starsky gave his blond partner a strange look, Then took another mouthful of beer ‘Yeah. S’pose. He’s probably charming a chick somewhere as we speak. Hey did ya hear about Jane in R&I?’ Starsky started………….


‘Sir, are you alright?’ the impossibly pretty stewardess asked.

Nick turned his deep blue eyes on her and clutched his side dramatically, his shirt open just enough to show the white bandage beneath.

‘Yeah, it’s just a wound I got saving this guy from…..Ah, hell you don’t want to know about me’ he smiled wanly.

She drowned in his gaze and sat down by his side. ‘Of course I do. It looks painful. Here, let me get a drink for you’.

Nick sat back in his seat, eyeing the pretty woman appreciatively. Sometimes he could fall into a cess pit and come up smelling of roses. And sometimes it was good to be Nick Starsky.


NOTE  I have been cautioned by a dear friend to add this rider.

This story does not, and was never intended to insult or cast aspertions against the Jewish faith. There is no such cult, that I am aware of, who would set about plotting the things mentioned in this story and a Rabbi would never behave in such as fashion. there are errors in the body of the text and for those, I do apologise. This is a work of FICTION, commissioned and written for another dear friend.


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