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.
‘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
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
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
‘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?’
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
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
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
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
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’.
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
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
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
‘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
‘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.
‘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
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
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
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
‘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.
‘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
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
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
‘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
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.
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
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
‘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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
‘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.
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
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
‘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
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
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.
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
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.
‘NICKY, LET ME OUT NOW!’
‘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.
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
‘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
‘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’
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
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
‘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
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
‘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
‘For ….what?’ the blond panted.
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
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.
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
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
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
‘M’sorry Blintz. You should never have been dragged into this. When Ma telephoned I should’a
‘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’.
‘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’
‘Starsk. Can’t feel m’legs any more’ Hutch’s voice sounded pained and
‘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’.
‘I knew that!…. Hutch, I think someone’s comin’
‘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
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
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
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.