A Coffin for Hutch -Part 2. Secrets-

Starsky looked down at his blue sneakered feet and snickered

Chapter 15 – Part 2 - Secrets

‘If you’re not careful we’re gonna be late’ Hutch called into the bedroom as he heard his partner rummaging around. Moments later, the curly haired cop came out with a frown on his face and the waistcoat to his navy blue suit slung over his shoulder.

‘Don’t know which goes first’ he muttered darkly.


‘Why do they make things complicated?’ the brunet complained.

‘Starsk, what’re ya talking about?’

‘If I’m in my work clothes, its fine. Tee shirt goes on, holster, then jacket. Not a problem’.

Hutch stared at him as though he were speaking fluent Swahili. ‘The lips flap and sounds come out, and yet I have no clue what ya mean buddy’.

Starsky glared at him. ‘The holster. Do I put the shirt, the holster, the waistcoat and then the jacket? Or is it shirt, waistcoat, then the holster and the jacket? Huh? Its too complicated’.

‘Well leave off the waistcoat and just go with the shirt and jacket’ Hutch offered brightly. ‘And then think about footwear’.

‘What about footwear. I got my footwear on. What’re they? Lumps of fog?’

‘They’re um…..unconventional. Most guys would go for black lace-ups maybe?’.

Starsky looked down at his blue sneakered feet and snickered. 'Now that's just goin' one step too far'. He buttoned the waistcoat, shouldered into his holster and inserted his gun, then put the jacket on over the top, looking in the mirror to make sure that the weapon wasn't too obvious beneath his clothes. 'Ready?'

'Have been for the last half hour while you try to make yourself beautiful' the blond muttered.

'What d'ya mean, "try to"? No, don't answer that. I don't want to spoil a beautiful friendship. C'mon, the sentencing hearin's at 11:00. We got time for a burrito and a coffee before we go in'.

‘Starsk, do you really want to go? We’ve been before. We know the score. They tell the Judge that Dalango is wonderful, kind to his Mom, never kicks dogs, that kinds thing. They make out he’s had a bad childhood and far from being bad, he’s just severely misunderstood. So we really want to listen to that crap?’ Hutch tried desperately.

‘I wanna make sure he goes down, and I wanna make sure he goes for a long time. He near killed ya buddy!’

‘Yeah, me. Not you. So why the burning ambition for seeing him go down? If anything that’d be my goal, not yours. We’ll find out what happened to him sooner or later’ Hutch said desperately.

‘I have a vested interest in this case Blondie. I don’t appreciate bein’ held over a barrel by some flake from my teenage years, an’ I want to see him one more time before he disappears into #Folsom never to be seen again’ Starsky said decisively. By the set of his shoulders, Hutch knew there was little point in him arguing further and so he kept his counsel and hoped that the hearing would go as smoothly as possible. He’d hate for Dalango to say something he couldn’t rectify some way.

Hutch followed on as his partner trotted down the steps and out to the car and as Starsky unlocked it he got into the passenger seat and took a deep breath. Ok, he could see out. He could open the door any time he wanted to. There was plenty of air to breathe. He was fine. Just relax. Starsky's here, you're here. Everything's fine. Despite the almost 6 months since the brunet had rescued him from the coffin that Dale Dalango had kept him in for four days - probably the worst four days of his life, the claustrophobia still continued to plague him, especially in times of stress. And today he was most definitely suffering from the stress of the occasion, not, as Starsky thought because of the sentencing hearing, but for another, far more personal reason.

Dalango had been arrested and had pleaded guilty to kidnap and assault of a police officer and was due for sentence today. But Hutch hadn't seen the young gangster for 3 months and the last occasion, when he'd taken the interview in the hospital wing of the jail had been one of the most uncomfortable times of his life. The time Dalango had revealed a secret that would destroy his partner.

What I have to say aint the sort of thing Davey’ll want to hear’.

So why tell him? Hutch asked.

Dale snorted. ‘Ya need to ask?’

So tell me’ Hutch had said and Dale had proceeded to tell Hutch his secret. At the end of it, the blond was shaken to the core and vowed that first he’d find out the truth and second, if the revelation was correct, he’d move heaven and earth to keep it from his partner.

And you were gonna tell him?’ he’d snapped at Dalango.

Sure, I still might’.

What’ll it cost to keep ya quiet?’ Hutch said softly.

Somewhere comfortable’.

So, if I can get you into a minimum security jail, you’ll keep your mouth shut?’

Dale had smiled and nodded.

And the stark truth of the matter had been that while Starsky had always thought of Michael Starsky, hero cop and family man as his father, Dale Dalango knew the truth. That Joe Durniak, one of New York's most dangerous crime bosses and Mafia kingpin could indeed be his real father. The fact would slaughter the curly haired cop and Hutch had vowed immediately that the black secret would go to the grave with him. He could count on his own resolve to keep the devastating news quiet, but today Dale and Starsky would be in the same courtroom together, and if things were to go badly...

The brunet drove downtown swiftly, pulling up in the parking lot outside the courthouse. Checking his watch, Starsky grinned. 'See, we still got time for coffee across the road. The stuff they have in the machine in there's almost undrinkable. C'mon' he set of across the busy road and pushed his way through the door of the coffee bar opposite, ordering two coffees and insinuating himself into a booth by the door. They'd just got their drinks when Jo Newman, a sharp suited and clever lawyer that they'd had dealing with before came in a sheaf of papers under his arm. He ordered and looked around for a seat, seeing that the only available one was in the booth with the two detectives. The brunet looked up and a shadow fell over his face as he saw the lawyer.

'Look what the cat dragged in' he muttered as he focussed on something terribly interesting on the rim of his coffee cup. Hutch glanced up and groaned. That was all they needed.

‘Mind if I join you?’ Newman asked as he sauntered over

‘Do we have a choice in the matter? Starsky asked, his eyes searching out and finding his partner’s.

‘You know, we really should let bygones be bygones’ Newman said, sitting down by the side of them.

‘You start letting the flakes get to jail an’ we’ll let bygones be bygones’ Hutch said as evenly as he could.

Newman looked at him over his coffee cup. ‘I’m just doing my job Hutchinson, just like you and Starsky. We all have to earn a crust you know’.

At that moment, Hutch spotted the name on the top paper in Newman’s bundle and his blood ran cold. ‘Most of us can sleep at night though. You representing Dale Dalango?’

Newman smiled. ‘I sleep pretty good, nice and comfortable in my penthouse. What about you?’

Starsky grabbed the papers from the lawyer’s grasp. ‘You are, aren’t ya? Representing Dalango’.


‘And if you’d read the papers, you’d know you shouldn’t be talking to us’.

‘Ah yeah, Hutchinson. No harm done. Against my advice, he pleaded guilty. Now it’s my job to make sure he doesn’t serve too long’.

‘Why you…..’ Starsky got up, almost knocking over his drink. ‘You have no idea, do ya? Just how many lives get ruined coz of turkey’s like you. C’mon Hutch. Suddenly the coffee’s leavin’ a sour taste in my mouth’ He got up and walked out of the diner as the blond followed, his heart pounding all the heavier now that he knew that Dalango would have backup in the form of Newman.

The two detectives walked back over to the courthouse, checked on the lists and found their way up to the courtroom. Hutch waited expectantly for his partner’s usual ritual to begin. He wasn’t disappointed.

‘I’m um…just….’

‘I know buddy, you’re goin’ off to the little cop’s room’.

Starsky grinned. ‘It works. Works every time, and today I really need the mojo’.

The blond nodded and smiled. ‘Go for it buddy. Anythin’ that helps huh?’ he took a seat and sat looking out of the first floor window at the blue sky and the tops of the trees lining the road opposite. Once Dalango had been put away he’d relax. Once Dale had been sent to the jail, he’d be fine. He’d be out of the way and Starsky would never have to hear the devastating truth. Dobey had said that he’s speak to the prosecutor, who would speak to the Judge about which jail Dalango would be sent to. Hutch had promised him “somewhere comfortable” which translated as minimum security and the blond could only hope now that the Judge would do as he’d been asked. He looked up and smiled as the brunet came back and together they headed into the courtroom and got places at the back of the public gallery.

At precisely 11:00am, the court bailiff walked in and brought the Judge into court. The black gowned man looked around, sat down and asked for Dalango to be produced. As the gangster walked into the room between the two guards, he looked around and his eyes fastened onto Hutch and Starsky sitting at the back of the public area. He winked cheekily then stood in front of the Judge as he started his sentencing remarks.

‘Dale Dalango. Yours is a particularly nasty and cowardly crime, committed against one of this city’s finest police officers. The damage you did to Officer Hutchinson, both physically and mentally will stay with his for the rest of his life. To use one person’s life as leverage to obtain what you desire goes against every code this country holds dear.

I have listened carefully to the facts put forward by your lawyer and I take into account your early guilty plea and the fact that Officer Hutchinson has made a good recovery. In the circumstances, I have no alternative but to pass a custodial sentence’.

Starsky nudged Hutch. This was it. This was what they’d been waiting for. He held his breath, hoping Dale would be sent down for a long, long time. At the front of the room, Dalango stood cockily upright between the two guards, as though he were here to hear the latest pop song rather than his fate.

The Judge continued. ‘Dale Dalango, in the eyes of this court, your crime is so grave that no sentence short of fifteen years can be contemplated. Because I believe that you are a danger not only to yourself but to your fellow man, and because I believe that only hard labour will convince you of your wrong doing, I sentence you to 15 years in a maximum security facility. You’ll…..’

Suddenly, Dale, who had been standing quietly yelled out at the Judge. ‘NOOOO, that’s not right. Ya got it wrong. It was all sorted, I was going to minimum security. I….’ he turned and looked directly at Hutch. ‘You double crossing no good bastard’ he yelled. ‘You told me. You said you’d…..Oh I get it. I know your game Hutchinson’.

The Judge was shouting for the bailiffs to restrain Dalango, but despite the fact that they’d taken a hold of their prisoner’s shoulders, they couldn’t shut him up and now Hutch was trying to push past his partner and pull Starsky out of the courtroom and into the corridor outside. The brunet however, wasn’t for moving and Dale continued to shout.

‘I got your measure Hutchinson. You thought you could double cross me. Well no way Jose. I told ya what had happen if you didn’t get me somewhere comfortable. Ya told him yet? Ya told little Davey your news?’

Starsky looked at Hutch, questions in his indigo eyes. ‘What’s he sayin’?’

‘Nothing. C’mon Starsk, he’s crazy. Let’s just get outs here’ the blond mumbled desperately. He pushed at the smaller man but Starsky stood his ground as Dale continued his tirade.

‘He knows your secret Davey, even if you don’t. Ask him about it Bro. Ask him who your Daddy really is. He’ll tell ya. Hutch knows everythin’. Aint that special Bro?’ the bailiffs started to pull him from the room and Dale pulled back against them just long enough for his final parting shot. ‘He wasn’t gonna tell ya ever, but he knows. Ask Joe, Davey. Go see your Dad’.

As Dalango was dragged from the room, Starsky turned to his partner, face white and frame trembling in indignation.

‘Just what do you have to tell me partner? What’ve you and that turkey been talkin’ about behind my back huh?’

‘Not here Starsk’ Hutch muttered, feeling as though he’d throw up at any moment.

‘Yes here. Just what secret are ya keepin’ partner?’ the brunet asked softly.

‘Starsky don’t, let’s go somewhere else. Somewhere quiet’ the bond urged and without waiting for an answer, he took a hold of his buddy’s arm and dragged him from the near deserted courtroom. Starsky allowed himself to be pulled along but the minute they got into one of the small consultation rooms off the main corridor, he slammed the door and turned on the pained blond.

Chapter 16

Hutch walked into the tiny conference room, followed by his angry partner. The brunet was tight lipped, white and shaking and stood just inside the doorway to the room his chest heaving as he fought for control. As Starsky slammed the door behind him, the blond turned slowly to meet the full force of those burning indigo eyes. The pain behind them, the questioning and the hurt they held was like a physical blow to the flaxen haired cop and he wished the ground would open up and swallow him. His throat constricted tightly. What had he been thinking? Why did he think he had the right to keep such a secret from his best buddy? Every man was entitled to know who his father was and here was he, too cowardly to come clean and tell Starsky that the man he’d always thought of as his loving father may not be.

But there was that word “may”. It wasn’t conclusive that Joe Durniak was Starsky’s father. According to Dale, Rachel and Joe had never taken the tests to establish paternity. To them it had been a big dirty secret and it had remained with them all these years. And now Dalango had blabbed, using that same secret as a punishment for Starsky doing his job and putting the gangster behind bars. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right and he was left to pick up the pieces.

‘What’s this all about Hutch?’ Starsky asked in a voice that was steely and controlled.

‘Starsky it’s really better that we don’t do this here. Let’s go home huh? I’ll tell you when we get to your place’ Hutch pleaded.

‘Why? What’s so bad that you have to take me out of a public place? Ya think I’m gonna throw a tantrum like some little kid?’

‘No, I think you’re hurtin’ buddy and you’re scared’.

‘Too damned right I’m scared. What’s Dale told ya? What’s this big secret about me that I seem to be the only one who don’t know about it?’

‘Sit down Starsk’.

‘I’m fine on my feet’ the brunet growled.

Hutch sighed. ‘Fine. Dale has it all wrong you know’.


‘He figured that this secret would split you and your family apart, but it won’t. I know you and you’re bigger than that’.

‘Hutch, for Gods sake stop the melodrama and just tell me’ Starsky’s fist was hitting a silent drumbeat against the wall of the conference room and the air inside the confined space was electric.

‘When I went to see him, to interview him and take his statement, he wanted me to bargain with him. He said he had a secret about you and he’d keep it to himself so long as I could wangle it that he served his time in minimum security’.

‘Yeah, I figured that much. But after what he did to you, why would ya bargain with him buddy? Hutch, what did he tell ya?’

‘You told me that when your Dad died….’

‘Was killed’ the brunet corrected him. Hutch held up his hand in apology.

‘Was killed, that Joe Durniak paid for his funeral expenses’.

‘Yeah, he paid it all. Mom could never have afforded to, Dad’s pension was only small’.

‘And then afterwards, he started to send her checks each month as a kind of allowance?’

‘Yeah’ Starsky’s voice had taken on a thoughtful quality. ‘I don’t like where this is goin’ buddy’ he said quietly.

Hutch ran his fingers over his lower lip, his heart beating wildly in his chest now that he’d come to the crunch of the matter. He took a deep breath.

‘Why would he do that Starsk?’

Starsky’s eyes blazed back at him ‘I don’t know. But I get the feelin’ you an’ Dale have got the answer, so spill it’.

Hutch closed his eyes. ‘Think on it Starsk. Your Dad loved you. You and Nick never wanted for anything. Michael Starsky loved you both and if he was still here today, he’d be the best damned Dad in the world, you know that, don’t ya buddy?’

‘But?’ the brunet said in a small voice

‘There are no “buts” Starsk. All you really need to know is that he brought you into this world and he loved you’.

The curly haired cop staggered slightly and put his hand on the back of the chair to steady himself. ‘But he wasn’t my Dad. Is that what you’re tryin’ to tell me? That my Dad wasn’t who I thought he was for all these years? That it was….it was….oh my God, Durniak?’ He looked up at his partner with pleading eyes. ‘No’ he whispered.

Hutch crossed the small room in two strides and enfolded the smaller man in a bear hug. ‘Dale said it in malice buddy. He wanted to hurt you and the truth is that neither your Mom nor Durniak took any tests. Nothing is for sure, and does it really matter? Michael Starsky is the man who raised you and loved you and made sure you knew right from wrong, not Joe Durniak’ the blond said softly. The stayed like that for a few seconds until Starsky shrugged his partner’s arms away. He stood back, physically putting distance between himself and the other man as he wiped angrily at his eyes.

‘But it figures don’t it? Why would a gangland boss like Durniak pay for a cop’s funeral? Why would he hang around my family afterwards? Why would he send money to my Mom for all these years? I was dumb enough to think that maybe there was this noble underground code of the streets. Some code that said that the criminal fraternity might look after the family of someone they’d admired. I had no idea it was fuckin’ conscience money to look after his son and his….his…what? Whore? Mistress? What is the correct term for it Hutch?’

‘The term you’re lookin’ for is Mother. She’s your Mom Starsk and she always will be. She doesn’t love you any less for…..Starsky?’

Hutch’s explanation was cut short as his partner bolted for the door. He followed swiftly. ‘Starsk, where are ya goin’?’

‘I gotta get outa here. I feel like the walls are cavin’ in. I can’t breathe’ the brunet gasped as he continued his headlong charge through the rest of the startled people on the concourse of the courthouse. Hutch followed closely as Starsky charged outside and round to the parking lot. In his haste he ran headlong into Joe Newman who was loading his case into the trunk of his car.

‘Ah, Detective. Afternoon!’ the lawyer said with a grin. ‘Back on the streets to arrest my next client?’

Starsky glared at the man as though he’d grown another head as Hutch put his hand up.

‘Not now Newman’ the blond snapped.

‘Why? 15 years of Mr Dalango’s life not good enough?’ Newman asked with a supercilious smile on his face.

Hutch stood between Newman and his partner, putting a physical barrier between the lawman and the brunet. Expecting trouble.

But none came. With almost unnatural calm, Starsky found the keys to his car, opened the door and got in, sitting in the drivers seat and staring straight ahead through the windshield as his fingers played with a loose thread on the button of his navy blue suit jacket. Newman too seemed shocked and despite Hutch trying to keep him clear of the Torino, he dodged around and leaned into the open window of the car.

‘I hope you’re proud of yourself, putting him behind bars for so long he’ll be an old man when he comes out, Detective’.

Starsky turned his head slowly to meet Newman’s eyes. ‘Ya know. I once accused you of having no father’ he said softly.

Newman seemed shocked at the tone and said nothing as the cop continued with a sad smile.

‘Seems that was you and me both’ Starsky finished as he put his keys into the ignition and set the big car in motion leaving the lawyer open mouthed in the middle of the parking lot.

They drove in silence, Starsky deep inside his own thoughts and Hutch terrified in case the explosion was yet to come. It unnerved the big blond enormously to have his partner so deathly still and quiet. Most time when the curly haired man was upset or angry, he would rant and rave, yelling, punching out and often breaking anything that happened to be close by. The unaccustomed calm and the sad expression on the handsome face were almost too much for Hutch to bear and he wished that somehow he could have turned back time and either stopped Dale from telling him in the first place, or found some way that he could have kept the truth from Starsky.

What did it matter if Durniak turned out to be Starsky’s Dad? If it hadn’t been for Dalango no-one would have known and the brunet would have gone on in the knowledge that his Dad was a hero. Durniak may have been there as a ready supply of money, but the Mafia boss had never been around to witness first words, first steps. He’d not been the one to stand proudly by as his son swam his first length of the swimming pool, or hit his first home run, or scored his first touch down. He’d not been there through fevers, chickenpox and measles. That had all been Michael Starsky and his loving wife. For a moment, Hutch wondered if the older cop had ever had an inkling about Rachel’s dalliance with Durniak. But at the end of the day, did it really matter?

Without realising it, Hutch found himself outside Venice Place, the Torino parked neatly by the sidewalk as Starsky remained silent. The blond shook himself from his thoughts and stirred.

‘Are you coming up?’


‘Aww c’mon Starsk. you shouldn’t be on your own right now. It’s been an enormous shock for you’.

‘Ya think?’

‘Yeah, I think. C’mon. Let me fix you a drink and we can talk’.

Starsky snorted softly. ‘Why? Ya got some other juicy secrets ya wanna reveal?’

Hutch sighed. ‘No. I just wanna help my buddy through a tough time’.

‘Then give me some space. I need some time’.

‘You sure you’ll be ok?’

The brunet smiled sadly. ‘I guess. Just need to think, ya know?’

Reluctantly, Hutch got out of the car and leaned in through the window. ‘You know where I am buddy, if you….. Well. Ya know where I am’.

Without another word, Starsky pushed the selector into drive and moved off as the flaxen haired cop stood on the sidewalk and watched him go. Wearily, Hutch walked up his steps and pushed open the door to his apartment. Mechanically he went about fixing himself a coffee and some scrambled eggs which he moved disconsolately around his plate before throwing the uneaten meal into the waste disposal. He sat on his sofa, picked up his guitar and started to strum some chords at random, but that didn’t relax him as it usually did, and he put the instrument down, picking up a magazine. Finding that that too did little to hold his interest, Hutch reached for the telephone to punch in the numbers he knew so well, stopped half way through, then replaced the receiver. It was no use. He couldn’t just leave this here. It was too big. Too much of a deal for his partner to go through on his own and despite the brunet’s protestations that he needed some time, Hutch couldn’t face the thought of his buddy alone and brooding. Picking up his jacket, he headed out of the door and got into his own car and drove slowly over to Ridgeway.

Waiting outside the apartment, under the shade of the tree by the side of the house, Hutch wondered for the hundredth time if he was doing the right think. Finally deciding that he’d prefer Starsky to be with him and angry rather than brooding and alone, he got out of the car and walked up the steps, pausing at the door. He hesitated. They rarely knocked when they went into each other’s houses, but maybe this was one of the times when he should. He rapped once on the wooden door and without waiting, pushed it open and walked in.

Starsky was sitting on his sofa, leaning back with his head resting on the chair back. He didn’t look up as Hutch walked in, but as the blond walked over to him, Hutch saw two things. The first was that clutched to the brunet’s chest was a silver framed black and white photograph of an older man in a cop’s black uniform, smiling into the camera.

The second was a photograph of Rachel Starsky taken at Thanksgiving last year, lying on the floor by the side of the coffee table, the glass in the frame smashed and the photograph torn.

Chapter 17

Starsky looked up as his friend walked into his house. On the one hand, he was eternally grateful that if anyone was to tell him this kind of devastating news it would be Hutch. On the other hand, he’d preferred to not know at all. He felt empty, as though the light had gone out of the day and as though his whole life up until now had been some kind of lie. There had been betrayal in his life, for sure. All kinds, from the little betrayals when one childhood friend told over another, to the kind of betrayal that led to Terri being killed. And although that had been devastating for him and had left a hole and a hurt that he knew he’d never be able to heal, this news was in a whole different league. His life, everything he’d ever known had changed with that small snippet of information. And whatever Hutch could do or say, things would never ever be the same again.

The blond came to sit by his buddy and tenderly picked up the pieces of glass from the broken photograph. The black and white image of a younger, less world weary Rachel Starsky smiled out from the photograph and the expression in her eyes and the dark curly hair which she tried to tame with clips shrieked “Starsky” to him. There was no escaping that Dave Starsky was her child, even if his father’s identity was in question. Hutch set the photo down on the coffee table quietly and just as quietly, his partner reached out and folded it flat, face down on the wooden surface.

‘I can’t look at her’ Starsky said softly. ‘My own Ma and I can’t look at her’.

‘She’s still your Mom buddy’.

‘I know, but it’s like lookin’ at some kinda stranger’.

‘Why? Coz she has the same urges as the rest of us and suddenly she’s human?’

Starsky stared at the back of the photo frame. ‘It’s like…..remember when you were a kid and for the first time you realised that your Mom and Dad had to have done “it”, at least once, to make a new generation? Remember how it creeped you out that they might actually have a sex life even though you thought that they were old and wrinkled and……well, your Mom an’ Dad? Well think about that feelin’ and then think about your Mom, the woman who was always there with your Dad like a constant in the background, and she’s not with the man you thought was your Dad, she’s with someone else; someone you knew you always hated’. The brunet turned pained eyes to his friend, begging for some understanding.

Hutch nodded. ‘My Mom and Dad were never that close Starsk. Mom kinda led her own life and Dad was pretty much involved in his career. I guess coz he was so successful he was surrounded by pretty ladies anyway, all wanting to bask in reflected glory. But I think I can understand where you’re coming from’.

‘My Mom was always perfect in my eyes Hutch. She was this…..dunno, angel I guess. When she sent me away and I was living with Al and Rosey I felt like I’d let her down so much and….oh my God! D’ya think Rosey knew? She an’ my Mom were pretty close’.

‘Does it matter?’ Hutch asked.

‘Yeah. It matters to me how many people knew I wasn’t my Dad’s son’. Starsky got up and started pacing the room, his face changing steadily from sad and wistful to angry as he thought more about the wider ramifications of the scenario. ‘I wonder if they ever laughed behind my back. Whether they gave those knowing looks that relatives do. Shit, maybe that’s why they always treated my like I was…….dunno, like they thought I was special some way. I just thought it was to compensate coz Nicky could be such a pain in the butt. But now……’.

‘Starsk, sit down. It’s no use getting’ yourself all bent over about this. And don’t second guess stuff. What Dale said he said out of spite. If you’d never seen the bastard, you’d never have known any different. Just remember he was out to cause trouble right from the start’ the blond tried to reason.

‘And that’s supposed to make this better? That’s supposed to sweep it all under the rug?’

‘No, I just mean….’

‘I’m goin’ to New York. I need to see Durniak’ the curly haired cop announced suddenly.

‘Oh now slow down buddy. Don’t ya think you’re over reactin’ a little here?’

Starsky turned on his partner with anger blazing in his eyes. ‘Over reactin’? You have no idea! I need to do this. I need to face him and ask the question’.

‘And if Durniak agrees and tells you that you are his, what’s it gonna achieve huh?’ Hutch asked. ‘What’re you gonna get out of it? Think on it Starsk. Think about what you’re doin’ It’s like a road to self destruction buddy’.

‘No, it’s a road to truth an’ it’s important I find out. To me. To my sanity if ya want. I need to know now that the big dirty secret is out of the bag’.

‘And you’re intent on goin’ right into the lion’s den?’ Hutch asked quietly.

‘If that’s what it takes yeah. It aint sumthin I can do over the phone is it? I guess I just need to be able to stare him in the eye and ask the question’.

‘What about your Mom. You aren’t the only one that’s been hurt by this buddy’.

Starsky’s face hardened. ‘She should’a thought about that when she cheated on my Da….on her husband’.

The blond sighed deeply. ‘Whatever you think of all this now Starsk, he’s still your Dad. He’s still the one who was there for you. That’s what I think bein’ a Dad is all about. And as for your Mom, please, think carefully about how you handle this. Think about the effect this is gonna have on her. At least ring her and let her know you’re gonna be visiting with her’.


‘Coz she’ll want to get your room ready for one simple thing’.

‘I’m not gonna stay at home. I couldn’t. It just wouldn’t feel right’ Starsky said coldly. ‘I’ll check into a hotel room’.

‘If you’re absolutely set on this, make that two hotel rooms’ his partner added, seeing the flash of defiance in the brunet’s eyes. ‘Ya don’t think I’d let you do this on your own, do ya? So long as you want me?’

‘You don’t have to’.

‘I know I don’t. It’s not a chore Starsk. I want to. What’re friends for?’

Starsky sighed deeply. ‘Well for one thing, they’re for comin’ with me when we ask Dobey for time off’.


The plane landed at JFK Airport after the five and a half hour flight. The previous two days had been a whirlwind of completing outstanding paperwork, tidying up loose sends at work, finalising travel plans and explaining to their Captain why they needed to jet off once again at short notice. Starsky had not wanted their boss to know anything about his reasons. But since he’d hot footed it to New York without explanation last time to meet Durniak when Dale had taken Hutch, there was little chance of keeping this trip secret.

The meeting in Dobey’s office had been an uncomfortable affair to say the least and while the subject had been the brunet, it had been Hutch that had done most of the talking. In fact in the past two days, the flaxen haired cop had seemed to nothing but talk, to Dobey, to Starsky and, without his partner’s knowledge to Durniak and Rachel Starsky too. Those two conversations had been the most difficult of all and as they hung in the skies over the central states, the blond went back over the words he’d had with Joe.

It had started with Starsky yelling at him that although he wanted the truth from Durniak, he didn’t want to warn the gangster that he was coming. Hutch had pointed out that that was a recipe for disaster, but Starsky hadn’t wanted to listen and so the flaxen haired cop had kept his counsel, gone home and made the call himself, to the number that Joe Durniak had given them months earlier.

Is this Joe Durniak?’

Yes, Who’s this?’

It’s Ken Hutchinson, Dave Starsky’s partner’.

I don’t usually have cops calling socially. What gives?’

Believe me, I don’t make a habit of this, but there’s something you need to know’

What?’ Durniak’s voice took on a serious note.

Dale couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Starsky knows’ Hutch said through gritted teeth. He heard the quiet hiss at the other end of the telephone.


The sentencing hearing was two days ago. Things didn’t go to Dalango’s liking and he kinda yelled across the courtroom that I knew a dirty little secret. I couldn’t keep it from him. Durniak, Starsky’s coming to New York’.

Shit, when?’

We’re booked on the eleven fifteen from LAX tomorrow. Counting time differences, we’ll be at JFK some time around lunchtime. I’m sorry Joe. I couldn’t keep it from him. He wants to see you and um…..he wants to see his Mom’.

Durniak groaned. ‘Does Rachel know he’s coming?’

I haven’t phoned her. And neither has he. He isn’t in the best frame of mind, an’ I can’t say I blame him’ Hutch said slowly.

Ok. Leave that to me. Where are you staying?’

Some hotel on Union Street in Brooklyn. It’s so bad that he won’t stay with Rachel’.

Thanks for warning me Ken. Leave Rachel to me. And when he wants to see me….well. He knows where I am. But be careful huh?’

Will do’ Hutch said.

And Ken?’


You’re lucky to have each other. Davey’s lucky to have you’.

Hutch went over and over the conversation in his mind. There was little else to do. Starsky’s usually non-stop conversations had dwindled to the occasional nod or shake of his head or sometimes a non-committal grunt and the blond found that more disturbing and disconcerting than if the brunet had been yelling and raising the roof in anger. He had no idea how he would feel in the same circumstances, although he had no real frame of reference, his own family being dysfunctional in the extreme. But he ached to be able to help his partner in some way and he hoped that by accompanying him back to his roots, he’d have that opportunity.

The plane landed at JFK on time and as neither man had brought hold baggage, they were through into the arrivals hall with their carry ons in double quick time. There had been some debate about whether they should drive up to New York, but eventually they’d settled for the plane and a rental car when they got there. Now not even the prospect of driving a different vehicle peeked the brunet’s interest and when they were handed the keys to a shiny black Ford Thunderbird he took them without comment and headed for the parking lot.

It had been a while since Starsky had driven in his old neighbourhood and as the duo drove along Linden Boulevard, Prospect Avenue and continued into 4th Avenue, they didn’t see the dark coloured Dodge following them, nor the equally dark coloured Pontiac keeping a tail on the Dodge. Starsky was intent on finding his way to the hotel and neither man thought that by merely arriving in New York they’d have a tail. But as the saying goes, Big dogs have little dogs and little dogs have flees and as the Dodge pulled over and phoned through the Durniak that Starsky and Hutch had arrived safely at their hotel, the Pontiac too pulled over and telephoned the head of the Rats to say that Durniak had company and the opportunity was too good to miss.

Chapter 18

‘Starsk, are you sure I shouldn’t come with you?’ Hutch asked as he sat on the edge of the bed in his partner’s hotel room. They’d spent the previous afternoon quietly planning their next move. Starsky had wanted to go straight ahead and make contact with Durniak there and then, but Hutch had put the brakes on his buddy’s zeal and had told him to hold off, hoping the famous Starsky temper would abate slightly. Now the brunet seemed a little calmer, the night in the hotel bar having acclimatised him to being back in his old neighbourhood.

‘No, I’m good. An’ apart from that Durniak’s protected by his footsoldiers anyhow. They know me an’ they’ll let me through, but you wouldn’t stand a chance Blondie. Special not with that colour hair’.

‘Have you thought what you’re gonna say to him?’

‘How about “why did ya fuck my Mom?” Or is that too direct?’ Starsky spat.

Hutch sighed deeply. ‘Starsk, please. Let me come with ya’.

‘S’ok. I promise I’ll behave. I just want to ask him to his face’ the brunet said tiredly. ‘I’m not gonna cause trouble. He’s done enough of that for both of us’.

‘When will you be back?’

‘I won’t be late. I should go see Ma afterwards’.

‘Don’t you think that’s a bit much all in one day? It’s gonna be kind of emotional buddy’.

‘I want to get it all over with and then get outa here. I’ve never been back home and felt so much like I don’t belong. If I can see ‘em both in one day we can be back in Bay City by tomorrow evening’.

‘And if all this was a big mistake? If Michael Starsky really is your Dad and Durniak was just a dalliance?’

Starsky shrugged. ‘If they didn’t take the tests, then I guess I’ll never know for sure. But just knowing Ma and Joe…..well, it puts a different perspective on stuff ya know?’

‘I guess. Just…..well, you know where I am buddy’.

The curly haired cop smiled faintly. ‘Yeah, I know where you are. See ya in a couple of hours huh?’

He slung his black leather jacket over his shoulder and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. While Hutch had taken the next door room, Starsky had spent the night led awake and staring at the ceiling. Sleep wouldn’t come and he felt alien and strange despite spending almost the whole of his first 18 years in the neighbourhood. But now, everything had changed with those few harsh words and he had a burning drive to know the truth, even though he was terrified of it and he knew it would hurt.

Crossing the street, he didn’t see the Dodge and the Pontiac that blended in with the rest of the morning traffic in the big city. Neither car tailed him too closely. He’d decided he’d use the bus rather than drive to Durniak’s rooms. They weren’t far away and the extra time it took to get to his destination he could spend in preparation. And so as he hopped onto the bus and sat down on one of the hard wooden seats, the Dodge tucked in neatly behind it and three cars back, the Pontiac followed on.

Half an hour and several stops later Starsky got off the bus and walked away from the main street down the smaller back streets he used to run in as a kid. Once again, he knew he was being watched and the dark coloured Dodge had phoned ahead to let their boss know that the dark haired cop was back and on his way. As he looked up at the blocks on either side of the small side street, he saw a couple of curtains twitch and knew there would be telephones ringing in Joe’s hideout.

Once again, as he got into the hallway of the apartment block, he was surrounded by five or six heavies and he put his hands up to show that he was unarmed. Despite the show of good faith he was taken roughly by the arms and slammed against the wall. As one of the men spread his legs, another two started to pat him down, being both thorough and rough in their examination. When finally it was done, he stood wordlessly as they indicated for him to go upstairs to the first floor room he’d seen Durniak in last time. With two of the goons in front of him and four bringing up the rear, he climbed the steps slowly and walked into the wood panelled office room, seeing Joe behind the desk. The men arranged themselves around him and he stood, hands at his sides, staring straight ahead.

‘Davey’ Durniak said carefully.

‘Do we need the audience?’ Starsky grunted.

The gangster nodded at the men who withdrew quietly, although the brunet knew they would be just outside the door, ready to burst in again at a moments notice. Joe indicated for him to sit down and he hooked one of the heavy oak chairs with his foot and brought it up until he could sit down and rest his elbows on the big wooden desk.

‘You don’t seem surprised to see me’ the brunet said finally.

‘I’m not’.

‘So you know why I’m here?’

‘I got an idea’.

‘You spoke to Dale?’

Durniak shook his head and light dawned in Starsky’s eyes. ‘Hutch?’

‘Don’t think badly of him Davey. He’s a good friend. He knows you’re hurting and he wanted this to go as smooth as it can do’.

‘Seems he knew more about me than I knew about myself’ the brunet said softly.

‘Does he?’

Starsky stared at the gangster with undisguised hate. ‘Is it true?’

‘Is what true?’

The cop slammed the flat of his hand down on the desk, his shallow veneer of cool blown away. ‘Don’t play games with me Durniak. Or am I supposed to call you Dad?’

‘Durniak is fine. Or Joe. Nothing’s changed Davey’.

‘Wrong. My whole life has changed and I want the truth. I want a definitive answer Joe and I want it now’.

‘Answer to what? Did I sleep with your Mom? Well that’d be a yes. Am I your father? I have no idea’.

‘Well Dale seemed to have a pretty good idea one way or another’ Starsky said bitterly. ‘He seemed all too keen to share’.

‘Dale’s a fool. He knows nothing’ Durniak said softly. ‘What he said was designed to hurt Davey. You want the truth?’

‘Yeah. That’s why I’m here’.

‘The truth is your Mom and Michael Starsky loved each other so much that her one night with me gave her more pain than I ever thought was possible. And it was a mistake. Something that should never have happened’.

‘Explain it to me’ Starsky said desperately. This was harder than he’d ever thought it could be and his mouth was dry, his lips sticking together as he tried to talk. For three days he’d thought of nothing but this moment and now that it was here, he didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to hear those few words that would confirm his identity. And yet, he couldn’t go away without knowing one way or the other.

‘Davey, there’s no way I can explain it. You need to see your Mom. She’ll explain everything, well as much as anyone can do’.

‘That’s it? You’re just gonna dismiss it with a “someone else’ll do your dirty work”.

‘I didn’t mean it that way. I just think that….’

‘You just think that my Mom can explain why you took advantage of her’

‘It’s not what you think Davey. I promise, it’s not what you think’ Durniak argued desperately.

‘Then for God’s sake explain it to me!’

‘NO. Please, Davey. What happened was between your Mom and me. I’m not gonna say any more. If you need more, you need to speak to Rachel’

Starsky’s face turned to stone. ‘Don’t think you’ve heard the last of this Durniak. Just coz you’re too chicken to tell me one way or the other. Fine. I’ll go ask Mom, but you aint heard the last of it, hear me? Once I’ve seen her, I’ll be back’.

Durniak stood up behind his desk. ‘Don’t think bad of her Davey. And don’t be hard on her. This wasn’t her fault’.

The brunet turned away from the door, his hand resting on the handle ‘So far as I know, its takes two’ he grunted as he opened the door and slammed it behind him. he stood with his back to it, head resting back and eyes closed as he tried to get his emotions under control. Ok, if Durniak wouldn’t tell him the truth, he’d have to go see Rachel. Damn!

A half an hour later saw him standing outside the small house he’d known since childhood. The last time he’d been there, he’d been happy. It had been Thanksgiving and he’d brought Hutch home to share in the family time. Then, there had been happiness and laughter. Now he felt completely different, as though he was a visitor to his own home. He put his hand on the door, but felt for some reason unable to walk straight in. instead, feeling like a stranger, he rang the bell and waited. A moment later Nicky opened the door and Starsky’s heart sank even lower into his boots. His brother was the last one he wanted to see right at that moment.

‘Hey Nick he muttered as he walked in, the familiar warm, homely smell of lavender floor polish and baking adding an air of nostalgia. He walked up the narrow hallway and into the small living room and there, in her chair by the fire was Rachel Starsky. She looked up with a timorous smile as he walked in.

‘Hello son’ she said quietly.

Starsky usually rushed over to kiss her, but this time, he held back, standing just inside the doorway.


The tiny woman looked over her eldest son’s shoulder. 'Nicky, could you give us a few minutes please?’ she asked. Nicky nodded reluctantly and closed the door behind him. The brunet walked into the room and sat down opposite the woman.

‘I guess Hutch told you I’d be coming’ he asked

‘No. Joe Durniak told me’ Rachel said, bravely locking eyes with her son. She saw the brief moment of hurt, but forged on regardless. ‘He said you’d been to see him too’.

‘And I guess he told you why?’

‘Yes son. He did’.

‘And are you gonna give me some answers, coz he wouldn’t’.

‘He couldn’t David. No-one can’.

Starsky bowed his head. ‘I just need to know Ma. Is it true?’

‘Is what true? That I slept with Joe Durniak? Yes. That I was unfaithful to my husband, no’.

‘And how do you work that out?’ the brunet spat bitterly.

‘Do you want to hear the truth? Or have you come here just to yell at me?’ Rachel asked sadly.

‘The truth’. It was said so softly that for a moment she thought she’d misheard. The tiny woman took a deep breath and sat forward in her chair. She reached for one of her son’s hands, but the brunet kept it from her and she looked on sadly.

‘I never wanted you to know. You father never knew. Never’.

‘And that’s supposed to make me feel better?’

‘No, I’m just trying to tell you…..if you’ll listen?’ Rachel said quietly. Starsky nodded, refusing to meet her eyes and she continued.

‘It was a long time ago and your father was a young cop trying to make a name for himself. He tried to take on the Mafia single handed and he came this close so many times to being killed because of his stupid pride. By the time he’d learned his lesson, the New York Kings had him proclaimed almost as public enemy number one. I was so scared for him David. You have to understand what it was like for me. I loved him so much and I couldn’t stand by and let them kill him just because he’d try to do what he knew was right. Can you understand that?’

The brunet’s mind went back to a playground in Bay City and a vivacious brunette with twinkling eyes. ‘You and your world of whippos and wise guys! Is this your way of telling me you won’t be around tonight?’ He remembered her in the hospital, lying on her bed dying and still not blaming the men who’d shot her. All she was worried about was that she’d leave him, her best friend to be on his own. She loved him, just as his Mom must have loved Michael.

‘Yeah, I understand’ he said, his voice raw with emotion.

‘So after another night when he’d come home angry that his partner had been shot at, I knew I needed to do something. I was selfish David. I couldn’t contemplate life without him. That was too hard and so I went to Joe Durniak. I’d known him since I was a young girl. And I asked him what it would cost for the Kings to leave Micky alone. He said only one thing. Me’.

Starsky looked up sharply and was surprised to see tears in Rachel’s eyes. And yet still he couldn’t bring himself to comfort her. She went on.

‘He said he wanted one night with me. Just the two of us, and whatever he wanted. And after that he’d leave Micky alone. What could I do? I hated Joe, but I loved your father. I was young and I had nothing else to bargain with, so I did it’ she looked up, the tears now coursing down her cheeks. ‘I spent a night with him, and in the morning he drove me home and I made breakfast for Micky as though nothing had happened. He couldn’t understand why the Kings behaved so well after that. They never caused him trouble. They never came after him again. And six weeks later I…..I found that I was expecting a baby’.

‘Me?’ Starsky’s voice almost gave out on the word.

‘Yes, you son’.

‘And so, who was my Father?’

She shrugged her shoulders ‘I don’t know. I couldn’t question Micky could I? And Joe didn’t know until after you were born. I’m sorry David. You should never have found out. No-one but Joe and I should have known’.

The curly haired man stood, running his hands through his curls. ‘How could you?’ he asked, his voice a barely suppressed shout. ‘How could you do that to my Dad? There must have been another way’.

At his shout the door opened and Nicky stood in the open doorway a grin on his face. It was obvious he'd been snooping outside.

‘Well that answers a lot, don’t it Davey?’

Rachel looked up and Starsky whirled round.

‘Nicky, you don’t know what you’re talking about’ the small woman said desperately. ‘Don’t make this worse than it is’.

‘Why not Ma? It answers so much for me. Like why you sent him away after Dad died. You did it coz he wasn’t ever a Starsky was he. You wanted to get rid of the evidence’.

Rachel Starsky was only a tiny woman, but she was agile and she sprang across the room and slapped her youngest son across the face with a resounding thwack. ‘I told you to shut up Nicky. I love you both the same. You’re both my sons and I sent David away for his own good. It broke my heart to do it, and you both know that’ she sobbed.

Nicky looked over Rachel’s head at his brother. ‘I knew you and me were never alike. Now I know why. At least I know who my Dad was’.

Starsky stood staring at his brother and his mother, his jaw working and his mind numb. He’d come looking for answers and while he could understand a young woman doing that to save her husband’s life, he was no closer to knowing whether he was the product of the man he knew as his father, or Joe Durniak, crime mobster and his bete noir. He looked at the light shining in Nicky’s eyes and for once could think of no rejoinder. Instead, he pushed his way past the two people he’d known all his life, the small room suddenly feeling claustrophobic. As he passed Rachel reached out for her eldest son, but he brushed her hand away.

‘David’ she shouted after him as he ran down the hallway and out into the street. And he heard her calling his name as he walked away, shoulders squared and back stiff with pain and hurt. How was he ever going to be able to find out anything now?

Chapter 19

Starsky stopped his headlong flight at least six blocks from his house. His Mom’s revelations had soothed the fears that she might have had some feelings for Joe Durniak, but did nothing to assuage the feeling that Durniak may well be his Father. And that thought left him cold. In his mind, as he ran full tilt through the back streets of his childhood haunts he went over his characteristics and those of Michael Starsky and Joe Durniak desperately looking for some concrete evidence either way.

All three of them were dark haired, but there again, so was Rachel and both Starsky and his brother Nick had inherited her curls and startling blue eyes. From what he remembered of the man he knew as Dad, he had blue eyes too. God only knows what colour Durniak’s were – he’d never looked into them long enough to find out.

He knew also that Michael Starsky had a temper and that on more than one occasion he’d lost it at work. In fact he’d once gone down to the precinct and his Dad’s partner had taken great delight in describing how Michael had chased down a flake on the street only to have the guy bailed within a couple of hours. Later the same night, the same man had committed an armed robbery on a seven eleven and had seriously injured the store owner. When Michael had found out, he chased the man through the city streets and had finally cornered him in an alleyway. He’d pounced on the man and had lost his famous temper and fought with him for minutes before finally making his arrest. It was only once he was back in his patrol car that he looked down and saw that the perp had knifed him and the hilt of his knife was still sticking out of his side. In his anger and the heat of the moment, he’d never even felt the wound.

So their tempers were alike. The curly haired cop was also excitable, his hot temper being a source of amusement to some of his fellow officers and a constant irritation to Hutch. Durniak, on the other hand had always been the cool calculating type. But Starsky knew only too well that one characteristic was not enough to make a decision on whether he was his parent or not.

Eventually running out of steam, the brunet halted his sprint miles from his home. He stopped and bent double, clutching at the stitch in his side as he fought to regain his breath. He sucked in the cool night air in great sobbing lungfulls. Moments later, calmer in body if not in mind, he stood and looked around him. The neighbourhood was unfamiliar and seemed to be one of the seedier areas of the city. Starsky looked around him. He didn’t want to see Durniak again, he was damned sure he couldn’t stomach being in the same room as his Mom, especially with Nick there to gloat, and the thoughts of explanations with Hutch left him cold also. He needed time to think things through and he needed space.

Looking around, he saw the bright neon sign to a bar across the street. He looked at his watch – 8:30. Ok. Well maybe he could have a couple of beers to ease some time away and then he’d make it back to the hotel. Maybe by then he’d be in a better frame of mind to deal with his buddy’s questions. Although the main one remained unanswered - who was his Dad? Michael Starsky, hero cop and loved husband, or Joe Durniak, cold gangland boss and one night stand? Too many questions. Too many things to think about. His head ached with the pressure he heaped upon himself and he walked across the road and into the bar as his shadows did the same. As one of the men following him ducked down a side street and made for a public telephone, the other followed him into the bar and watched as he sat at the bar and ordered a double scotch.

The man behind the bar slid the shot glass over to him and filled it to the brim with the amber coloured liquid. Starsky took it in his left hand and downed it in one, gasping as the fiery liquid burned its way down into his stomach and left a trail of comfort behind it.

‘Keep ‘em coming’ he told the barkeep, who wordlessly filled up the glass again. The barman had had enough time in his trade to know when his customers wanted friendly conversation and when they wanted cold hard drinking time. And this man definitely wanted time alone with his friend Johnny Walker. As Starsky downed the second double and slammed the glass down onto the bar top he looked up.

‘Save ya time Pal. Just gimme the bottle huh?’

The barman looked dubious till Starsky produced his money. Starsky ordered a couple of beers, took the bottle of fire water and headed to a dark booth at the back of the bar. Sitting down, he took the beers from the bar tender, drank one down immediately and then poured himself another shot of whiskey. The alcohol on his empty stomach was having an immediate effect and he felt slightly less on edge and much more mellow. He could stay here all night, getting blind drunk and no-one would know him; no-one would ask any difficult questions. The only thing marring the pleasant numbness of the drink was the knowledge that if he didn’t turn up back at the hotel, Hutch was going to worry. OK, well, that could be fixed. He looked around and saw a payphone in the corner. Jiggling the change in his pocket for some dimes, he weaved slowly over to the phone and dialled the number asking to be put through to Hutch’s room. A moment later, the receiver picked up.


‘Starsk, where’ve ya been? You ok buddy? I was getting’ a little jumpy here’.

‘M’fine. I just wanted to call f’r’a drink on the way back’ Starsky slurred slightly.

‘It didn’t go well huh?’

‘Was ok. I just needed some time to figure things out. I’ll have another drink and then I’ll come back ok?’

‘Sounds like you already raided the brewery buddy. Will you be long?’

The brunet smiled at the concern in his partner’s voice. ‘No Mom. I got a late pass’.

Hutch snorted. ‘Fine. Gimme a knock on the door when ya get in. Take care’.

‘Hey, this is my old neighbourhood. Why do I need to take care? I grew up around here’ Starsky said before he put down the phone. He made his way back to his booth as a figure by the bar nodded discretely to a young girl who’d just got out of a car outside the bar and walked in. She looked at the handsome man sitting in the booth at the back of the room and nodded back before making her way over.

Dressed in a tiny blue denim mini skirt that left little to the imagination and topped with a white halter top which showed her ample cleavage to perfection, the small slim girl couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19. Her long dark brown hair hung down her back, held away from her face by a blue hair band and her face bore little makeup. She walked on high platform shoes to the booth and stood by the side of the table.

‘Hey handsome’ she said.

Starsky looked up into her face. Despite the fact that she was sex on legs, he really did want to be on his own. He needed time to figure out what to do next. Did he really want to find the truth? Did he really need to know who his real father was? Would it make any difference to who he was? Damn. It was all so confusing and he wanted the girl to go away.

‘Hi’ he responded non-committally.

‘Mind if I join you?’

He looked at her perfect figure and pretty face with its open invitation. Any other time he’d have loved to have her company, even if he wasn’t sure whether she was jail bait or not. But tonight?

‘Sorry, wouldn’t be good company’ he said softly.

She grinned and sat down by his side, shunting herself along the bench seat until she was almost sitting on his knee. ‘S’ok. I can be company for both of us’.

‘I want to be alone’ he said, more forcefully

She snickered. ‘Didn’t one of those bints in the black and white films say that too?’

‘I guess. But I mean it’.

‘No, you don’t’ she said, almost laying her head on his shoulder. Starsky shuffled away as far as he could, but the wall brought him up short and he could feel the warmth radiating from her body.

‘I don’t think you understood’ he said a little louder. ‘I really don’t want…..company tonight’.

She gazed into his eyes as her hand moved to his leg, travelling slowly and sensually up his thigh until she reached his crotch and the traitorous bulge there. ‘No? Seems someone down there says differently’ she said, her voice low and sultry.

The brunet felt the jolt of electricity through the core of his body and breathed deeply. ‘I said no’.

Starsky cleared his throat and moved his hand to cover hers. She grabbed it around his wrist and pulled it over until she was pressing it against her own thigh. His eyes flashed open in surprise but her own eyes remained level, holding his gaze as she pushed his hand beneath her skirt and parted her legs. He tried to pull his hand away, but she held it fast and he met her eyes, searching her face. He wanted this. He knew that now. he wanted mindless sex to take his mind away from his troubles. He wanted a woman to pleasure him and miraculously, here she was.

‘You’re too young’ he said huskily, his alcohol befuddled mind trying to make sense of the situation.

‘I’m old enough. And besides a girls gotta make a living’.

‘You have no idea who you’re dealin’ with darlin’ he said haltingly.

‘Oh I think I do. I think I got me a man who’s lost and needs some comfort. I can see it written in your eyes sugar’. The name jolted him back to Bay City and an older, more worldly wise blond woman who would also have offered her body to him for solace.

‘Don’t’ he said again, half heartedly. ‘I’m old enough to be your….you don’t know what you’re doin’.

‘Then show me. I always did like an older man. So much more experienced’ she said as his fingertips brushed against her secret places. Starsky gasped and his eyes held her gaze momentarily.

‘You sure you’re old enough?’

‘Why? Wanna see my drivers licence?’

‘No, just want to make sure you know what you’re doin’ Coz believe me honey. Any more of that an’ I can’t be responsible for my actions’.

She grinned. ‘It’s my actions you need to worry about’.

‘Uh huh? I got that message loud an’ clear’. A small voice sounded in his head, warning him that this wasn’t something he should be doing, but the alcohol, the situation and they girls hand on his jeans inflamed his ardour. ‘Not here’ Starsky growled.

She looked around. ‘See, I knew you’d see it my way’ she grinned. ‘C’mon, I know a place’ she pulled him from the booth and he had enough time to snag the bottle of scotch on the way out as she pulled him out of the bar and into the dark alleyway behind.

Once outside, the cool night air hit the brunet and he staggered against the wall. The girl pulled him down into the shadows and as he stood with his back braced against the brickwork, she knelt in front of him and expertly unzipped his jeans. With one hand still clutching his bottle and his head resting back on the wall, Starsky felt the girl pull him out and the night air enfold his throbbing erection. He groaned as he felt her warm lips encircle him and giving himself over to the feelings he started to thrust into her mouth, his free hand clutching behind her neck so that she had no means of escape.

On he went, his pleasure the overriding factor in their connection. To hell with Joe Durniak. What the hell if he had no real idea who his father was. What did it matter if his Mom actually slept with the gangster, even if she did it for noble motives? All that mattered was the thrill he felt in the pit of his stomach, the steady warm pull on the centre of his body and the increasing pressure in his balls. Below him, the girl worked her magic with her tongue and lips and he gave his body over to her, a low groan escaping his throat as he felt himself beginning the climb to his climax. It had been a long time since he’d had the services of a whore and for once, he didn’t have to worry about how much pleasure he was giving in return. This was for him. This was for David Starsky and no-one else. With his hand still clutching at the back of her head, he heard the girl give a small choking sound and looked down as he shot his load. He released her and she pulled away from him breathing deeply now that he had shuddered through his climax. He regained his breath, eyes closed and curls grazing the harsh stonework behind him just as she was getting up from the ground and he fumbled in his wallet for some bills, folding them and stuffing them into the front of her top.

She grinned at him. ‘I said I was good’.

‘Uh huh’ he said, slack jawed and relaxed ‘Good’s an understatement’

‘And now I get paid twice’ she said cryptically. The comment made the cop freeze and he opened his eyes to see six men walking slowly towards him down the trash strewn alley way. He looked back at the girl with questions in his eyes, then back at the approaching men.

‘Oh shit!’ he managed to say before the first man struck.

Chapter 20

Starsky watched the men walk calmly towards him, any last vestiges of alcohol now blown from his system. He had just enough time to zip himself back up as he heard one of the men speak to the girl.

‘Nice one Tandy. You did well girl’.

He looked at her accusingly.

‘What’s goin’ on honey?’ he asked as calmly as he could.

She stared back with something like regret in her eyes. ‘I’m sorry. You seemed so nice when we…..I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you’ she said as she got up from the ground and backed away from the group of men surrounding the brunet.

‘Yeah, I can imagine’ he grunted bitterly, his eyes darting from one man to the next. They were all powerfully built and all had some sort of weapon with them. He saw knives, a large bat and some lengths of chain, but no guns. There again, he had no gun either, so there was no advantage there.

The tallest of the men grinned at him like a shark would look at a minnow. ‘Well lookee here. See who this is boys?’

Starsky glared back at him. ‘Hey look. I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m just a visitor. I aint anyone ya know’.

‘No? Sure on that? Mr Sanna says you’re Joe Durniak’s son and Mr Sanna is never wrong’.

‘Who? Who the hell is Mr Sanna?’

‘The boss. He’ll be real offended that ya don’t remember him’.

The brunet dredged the memory up from his younger days. Sanna? Sanna…..not…. He looked back at the guy. ‘Marco Sanna? The Rats’ he guessed, his heart suddenly beating fifteen to the dozen as he recalled the rival gang to the Kings and Ricardo Sanna’s son Marco. So he’d finally inherited the “family business”.

‘The very same. See, we knew you’d remember without too much encouragement’.

‘And what does Marco want with me?’


The one word answer shot the brunet back in time a few months to the old warehouse and Dale’s stark choice to him. Do what he said or he’d allow Hutch to die. Hutch had been the leverage then. Now, in a fine turn of irony, it was his turn. ‘Leverage for what?’

The man closed in as the five behind him licked their lips in anticipation. ‘You ask too many questions. You don’t need to know why, Ya just need to co-operate’.

‘I aint co-operatin’ with no-one till I know what’s goin’ on’ the brunet spat out angrily.

‘That’s a shame. But you’re getting’ real annoyin’ now. We should do something about shutting that mouth’.

Starsky backed up, although the wall was at his back. He was helpless, his only weapons being his hands and feet and the bottle of whiskey still clutched in his left hand. There was no way he could win a fight against 6 men, especially 6 men who were in the peak of physical condition while he’d had three sleepless nights and 3 days of worry to wear down his resolve.

‘Look, I’m tellin’ ya. You got the wrong guy, but if you want I’ll go with ya to see Marco. We don’t need no rough stuff’ he said levelly as his hand clutched the neck of the bottle.

‘Ya know, that’s what Mr Sanna said too. But see, me and the boys have got tired of your talk already. We want to shut you up’.

From the back of the group, the young girl interjected. ‘Ray, don’t do this. He said he’d come with ya. Just leave him alone huh?’

Ray wheeled round and slapped the girl across the face. ‘And you can shut it too Tandy’ he yelled at her.

Starsky leapt forward despite himself as the girl dropped to the ground clutching at her face and sobbing. ‘Leave her alone. Ya got me, so take your hands off of her’ he shouted. It was the catalyst that Ray and his cronies had been looking for and as two of the men took a hold of Starsky’s arms and held him steady, Ray grinned at him and ploughed his fist into the cop’s stomach. Even braced as he was for the blow, it had an instant effect on the brunet and he doubled over wheezing his breath through his teeth. Seconds later he felt a hand in his hair and the gangster pulling him upright as another fist railroaded into his tortured stomach muscles again. He couldn’t hold back the groan as he doubled over again and in the distance he could hear Tandy crying and pleading with them to stop.

But the gang had got the blood lust now and as Starsky managed to stand upright again, all six men descended on him in a welter of fists and feet which left him plunging to the ground. He tried to curl himself up into a ball to protect the softest parts of his stomach and chest but still he felt ribs crack and the feet connect with his back over his kidneys. His world was taken over by a red blaze of pain as the feet and fists continued their furious blows on his body, some connecting with his arms and legs, more than one catching him in the face as he stole a look up. His mind closed down to the single goal of getting through the attack. He had no idea what Sanna wanted with him. Dammit all, he’d only just arrived in the city, but they’d mentioned Durniak and him being his son. Obviously Dale wasn’t the only gangster who’d known Durniak’s dirty little secret.

Twice he tried to crawl away from the group but got nowhere. The first time, he felt a hard boot land on the fingers of his left hand as one of the men stomped on him. He yelped and as he pulled his hand away he saw the bruised and bloody knuckles. After that, anger took him and he tried to fight back as best he could, kicking out whenever there was a convenient target. But with his habitual blue sneakers on he did little damage save to anger his attackers even more. Eventually he managed to get his hands on the bottle he’d had before. It had spun away from him as he’d dropped to the ground, but now his grasping fingers took a hold of it and he smashed it on the concrete of the alleyway and held the broken neck of the bottle out on front of him like a multi bladed dagger. For a few seconds the advantage of the weapon worked and the six men stood back a little giving him just enough breathing space to be able to get to his knees, but as dizziness overtook him and he threatened to topple over, one of the men behind him dealt him a final blow to the back of his head with one of the bats and he fell forward, barely registering that his own glass weapon had now cut into the top of his leg before he passed out from the pain and the exertion and lay still on the dirt floor.

The six men stood around breathing heavily at they looked at the bruised and bleeding man on the ground. Starsky’s clothes were covered in splatters of blood, some seeping from the cuts on his chest and back, some from the smaller but deeper cuts on his face. His left arm led at an odd angle from his body and was obviously broken and where his shirt had torn, one large deep blue bruise stretched across his right chest, overlaid by a large freely bleeding cut. More blood matted his hair, but a small pool of his blood, showing almost black in the darkness of the alley was seeping from the top of his leg and as Ray kicked out at the unconscious form and toed it over onto its back, the glass bottle could be seen impinged in the top of the cop’s leg.

‘Let’s get him into the car’ Ray said as he wiped the back of his hand over his mouth. ‘And boys…..if Mr Sanna asks, he put up a helluva fight, didn’t he?’

The others grinned at their second in command and nodded their agreement. The boss had said only to hurt the man if he gave them any resistance. But having the opportunity to hammer Durniak’s son was too good to pass up, and they’d sure had a good time with this Starsky guy.

Three of the men picked up the limp form and carried him out of the alley and threw him onto the back seat of one of the cars that was waiting. As two of them got into the front seat, the other four piled into the second car and they drove off into the night, leaving Tandy behind, still weeping, but too terrified to do anything other than sit quietly by.

The drive over to Sanna’s place on the east side of the territory was done quickly and smoothly. Ray drove cautiously not wanting to attract any untoward attention and when they finally drew up outside the disused department store, Starsky was just beginning to regain consciousness.

The brunet felt as though every bone in his body was broken, as though he’d been pulled through a threshing machine and had lived to tell the tale. A lot of his face felt numb, and he wished his ribs would also go the same way. Each breath felt like a knife pulling over his chest and there was an ominous crackling feeling. The pains in his back radiated round to his front and he felt something warm and wet and sticky sticking his jeans to his right leg at the top. There was something painful there too and as his hand inched down, he could feel a huge shard of the bottle glass still sticking obscenely out of his thigh, the blood seeping slowly around it. He groaned once and closed his eyes, then screamed as Ray and his buddy pulled him upright and dragged him from the car.

With no strength left to resist, he allowed himself to be hauled inside the disused building and through the big glass doors. Inside, mannequins which had once formed clothing displays stood in various states of undress, some covered by dust sheets making them appear ghostlike and creepy, but he had little time to assimilate what was going on as he was pulled across the floor and into a small back office, his toes leaving marks on the dusty floor and drops of blood from the wound on his inner thigh marking his progress. As they got him into the office, the dropped him on the ground and he landed on top of the bottle, driving it a little deeper into his leg. He groaned again, his body shuddering and lay where he’d been thrown, saving what little strength he had left for a time when he may need it.

Starsky heard the door to the small room open and a new set of feet joined the others coming to a standstill just in front of his face. Wearily he looked up into the face of the leader of the New York Rats and tried to smile through his mashed lips’

‘Long time no see Marco’ he managed to gasp as he levered himself up to a sitting position.

‘Dave! I wish this could have been under happier circumstances’.

‘Forgive me if I don’t get up. It’s kinda tough right now’.

Sanna hunkered down next to the injured cop. ‘I can make it better for you. I just need you to help me with a little job’.

Starsky yelped as he tried to move his broken left arm and instead licked the trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth. ‘Not you too! I'm sick of hearin' that phrase ya know? Somehow I don’t feel in the mood for helpin’. He grunted.

‘Shame. It’d be easier for you if you’d help’.

‘And again, I heard it all b'fore. Why would I want to help ya? You aint exactly been friendly’.

Sanna smiled sadly. ‘I know. I need to have words with my boys. They said you put up quite a fight out there. I don’t know whether to be impressed or just sorry for ya’.

‘Yeah, one man against 6. That’s real fair. Gimme an hour I’d have made mincemeat out of ‘em’ Starsky mumbled painfully. He was having difficulty focussing and was in danger of throwing up over Sanna’s shoes. He swallowed hard, trying to keep his stomach under control.

‘So Dave. Are ya gonna help me?’

‘Why should I?’

‘Coz Durniak’s time is up Bro. He’s an old man. He’s had it too good for too long and he’s got too much territory. I want some of it. Simple as that’.

‘An’ I’m gonna help ya how?’

‘You’re his son. He won’t like that we hurt ya. He won’t like that at all’ Marco explained.

‘You’re sick Sanna. I aint his son. I don’t mean squat to him. An’ if ya think I’m gonna help ya, ya can dream on’.

Marco’s face fell, the smile wiped from his features. ‘I’d hoped that you’d see sense. That when you came back here, you’d be bright enough to realise…..seems I was wrong. And I hate to be wrong’. He stood and opened the door to the small room, beckoning his men back in.

‘Prepare him’ he said, nodding at a large heavy chair at the side of the room. ‘And if he resists, you can hurt him some’.

The men took hold of Starsky and pulled his roughly to his feet, holding his arms as they proceeded to strip his shirt off. He screamed once as the fabric caught against his swollen left arm and the men laughed, poking their hands into the pockets of his jeans. One of them took a hold of something and pulled it out, flipping open the oblong worn leather wallet to expose the shiny silver badge. He shouted for the boss.

Seems we hit paydirt’ the guy said and threw the badge across the room to Sanna. He opened the wallet and studied the contents, grinning.

‘Aww Davey! You’re a cop! Well aint that special? Its gonna make this all the more fun’.

Chapter 21

The four men sat Starsky down onto the heavy wooden chair and tied his wrists to the chair arms and his ankles to the widely spaced legs. A double strand of rope circled his chest and dug painfully at his damaged chest wall, stopping him from breathing freely and holding him upright. Without it, he doubted he’d have been able to hold his head up for any length of time and he leaned against the ropes. The cop’s head hung down in exhaustion. Territory. This was all about territory and he was to be leverage. But how? Why? He may be reputed to be Durniak’s son, but he’d had hardly any contact with the old gangster and he doubted he would provide any leverage at all with him.

He sighed to himself. Whatever happened, he knew he was in for a hard time and for the thousandth time he wished he’d never set eyes on Dale Dalango back in the alley in Bay City. That’s when all this nonsense had started and that’s when Hutch’s and his lives had been threatened. Damn.

Now that he was sitting, he could see clearly the damage that had been done to his leg. The shard of clear glass from the bottle had dug into the inside of his thigh, perilously close to the family jewels, and now blood seeped past the glass to soak into the fabric of his jeans to trickle down his leg. The whole upper part of his pants was now slick and red with his blood and he felt dizzy and light headed. He knew it was the effects of blood loss and also that if he didn’t get some help soon, it wouldn’t matter what Marco Sanna or anyone else did to him. It would be too late. He forced his head up as Sanna appeared in front of him again.

‘Don’t make me hurt you any more’ he said gently. ‘All I want you to do is tell Durniak to meet me to talk terms. Once that happens, you can go’.

‘I aint gonna help your gang wars. You got me all wrong’.

‘Oh yeah. Dave Starsky’s a cop. Forgot that. So now ya got your principles huh? Shame. Principles can be real painful ya know’ Marco turned to the man behind him who was setting up a video camera on a stand. Another at the back of the room had tended to a roaring fire in a small fireplace. He poked at the coals with a metal poker, grunting with satisfaction as the tip turned a bright yellow orange. ‘Are you ready?’

The men nodded. ‘Sure. Go for it’. The man on the camera pressed a button and stood back as Marco cleared his throat and spoke into the lens.

‘Durniak. I’ve tried the civilised way of doing things and you wouldn’t play ball. The time for negotiation without coercion is over. I have something here that I think you’ll find….persuasive. Let’s see if blood really is thicker than water. All I want is the five blocks north of Flatbush Avenue. Simple. You meet me at the north gatehouse of Dyker Beach Park at 5:00am – that gives you four hours - and we won’t hurt him any more’ Marco stepped out of the way so that whovever watched the video could see the bound and bloody cop tied to the chair.

Starsky’s head had sunk down onto his chest and Sanna took a handful of curls and yanked it up. The brunet hissed but refused to say more and Marco smiled sadly. ‘He’s a real chip off the old block Joe. Just as proud and stupid and dumb as you are. He wouldn’t make a noise unless we persuaded him….and ultimately you’. As if to emphasise the point, he leaned over and ground the shard of glass further into the wound on the curly haired cop’s leg. Starsky groaned and clamped his mouth shut as he sucked in a breath through his flared nostrils. He closed his eyes, his body shuddering against the added pain and a little more blood was forced from the wound to start its meandering way down his leg. Marco let go, obviously disappointed that the attack had not had the desired effect and as if in victory, Starsky opened his eyes and grinned painfully at the gangster.

‘Tickles’ he said through gritted teeth. Marco grinned back and nodded at an unseen person.

From the back of the room, the man with the poker appeared, the tip of it still glowing a bright orange red. The cop felt the heat from the tip of poker close to his ear and twisted round to see the man standing by the side of him.

‘Oh, hey. Watch what you’re doin’ with that’ he muttered, struggling ineffectually against the bonds holding him to the chair. The man grinned and at a signal from Sanna he stepped forward and touched the poker to the brunet’s chest. There was a sizzling sound and the sickening smell of roasting meat and singed hair. The touch of the hot metal had a devastating effect on the bound man and despite his best intentions, his body arched against his bonds and a blood curdling scream was ripped from his throat. As the man took the poker away leaving an open livid linear burn across his upper chest, Starsky sobbed one more breath before subsiding into unconsciousness. Marco looked into the camera lens once more.

‘I hope you won’t make me put his through any more’ he said clearly. ‘This morning five o’clock. Be there’.

The man behind the camera switched off the button and took the cassette from the machine. ‘Make sure it’s delivered to Durniak right now’ Marco said. ‘And untie him. He aint goin’ nowhere’.

‘Do we cuff him Mr Sanna?’ one of the goons asked. He received a pitying look in return.

‘Does he look like he could try to escape?’

The man looked at the unconscious man in the chair and shook his head. Between the wounds he’d received from the beating in the alley, the burn and the amount of blood pooling on the floor beneath the chair, Starsky looked like he was about to draw his last breath. Reluctantly, the goon drew a knife from his pocket and cut the ropes surrounding ankles wrists and chest and watched impassively as the brunet’s body toppled forward to land in a heap on the floor.


Hutch paced the small hotel room, a worried V marring his handsome face. He’d had the phone call from Starsky some four hours ago. At the time, he could tell from the tone of his partner’s voice that the curly haired man was hurting and he didn’t want to delve over the telephone. It was too personal and too fresh for anything other than face to face discussion. The blond worried even more that he heard his buddy’s voice slurring. Starsky had obviously had some sort of alcohol to ease his aching, but just how much would he drink, and more to the point how would he get home.

As the hours rolled on, the blond became more anxious by the minute. It wasn’t like Starsky to just get blind drunk. He was more the sort to go out and hit something – the man of action rather than being given over to brooding. And that worried Hutch more than anything. As the fingers on his watch passed 1 in the morning, he couldn’t stand the waiting any longer and after knocking on his partner’s hotel room door until his knuckles were sore, he asked the night porter to open the door, just to make absolutely sure Starsky hadn’t crept in and gone to bed. No such luck. The bed was still immaculately made as it had been when the brunet went out.

With a grunted curse, Hutch gathered his jacket, wallet and badge, mourning the fact that he hadn’t been able to bring his gun with him on the plane. He hated walking through a strange city in the early hours of the morning without some form of protection, but more than worrying for his own safety, he needed to make sure his partner was ok.

Stepping outside the hotel he grinned momentarily. New York sure was the “City that never sleeps” and even at that time, the sidewalks were busy and the shop fronts were still blazing their neon lights into the night. Looking round, the blond saw two yellow taxi cabs driving towards him and in a fit of enthusiasm, he flagged one down, getting in and giving the flat capped cabby Rachel Starsky’s address. That was the last place he knew his partner had gone and as good a point as any on which to start his search. As the cab drove through the city streets, Hutch sat back and watched the passing parade. So this was the neighbourhood his friend had grown up in. No wonder Starsky hated the great outdoors and loved city life. It was vibrant, exciting and just a little frightening that even now there was as many people up and around as there were during the daytime.

The cab pulled up fifteen minutes later on the small side street on which the Starsky family lived. Hutch looked up at the small but neat apartment block with it’s clean scrubbed steps and small boxwood hedges lining the tiny front yard. He grinned. Rachel was tidy. That’s where Starsky got it from. He walked up the small front path and knocked on the door waiting. At this time of night the apartment was in darkness and he knocked again, louder and rapped on the side window. His efforts were rewarded a moment later by the twitch of curtains and a sleep bleary face looking out of the window. Rachel recognised Hutch and her face settled into an expression of alarm as she hurried away to open the door.

‘Ken, what’s the matter? Is everything alright? What’s happened?’ she asked the minute the door opened.

Hutch stepped inside to the welcome warmth of the small hallway. ‘I was wondering if Stars….David was here’.

‘He hasn’t gone back to the hotel?’ she asked.

‘No, he phoned me from a bar and….’ He was interrupted as Nicky emerged from his room.

‘Wassup Ma?’

‘It’s Davey. He didn’t show up back at the hotel room. Ken’s worried’ Rachel explained. ‘Did you….Nick, did you say anything to him before he left?’

‘No Ma! I was here with you the whole time. He’s probably got himself a beer and a woman. Don’t worry huh?’ the younger Starsky said dismissively.

‘Its not like him. He would have come straight back. Or at least after he’d had a drink. I’m worried’ Hutch said softly.

‘Come in. Nick. Put the kettle on and make us some tea while we think about this’ Rachel commanded, taking charge of the situation. Nicky grunted, but disappeared into the kitchen as the tiny woman steered Hutch insot the living room and sat him down on the sofa. She sat next to him, wrapping her dressing gown tightly round herself.

‘Davey was upset. We had some things to talk about and it didn’t go as well as I would have liked’ she started.

‘I know. He’s not been himself since Dalango….. Well. You’re right, he was upset’ hutch agreed. ‘But I didn’t expect him just to take off into the night. I just wondered if you might have some idea where he could have gone. A bar he used to use, or a friend maybe?’

‘He came here direct from Joe’s office. He may have gone back there’ Rachel said thoughtfully. ‘I can’t think of anywhere else he’d have gone. It’s been so long since he lived around here he… find his Ken. Find my Davey, he was hurting so much, and I tried to explain everything, but he didn’t want to listen. It’s my fault, I know it is. Just find him Ken. Do you want Nicky to help?’

Hutch’s initial reaction was to yell “no” at the small woman. He and Nicky didn’t see eye at the best of times. Right now he didn’t want anything to do with the younger man, but he could see Rachel was desperate and didn’t want to hurt her further. ‘I can handle it Rachel. I just need….’

He was interrupted as Nicky walked back into the room with a tray and three mugs.

‘What, ya just need to find a needle in a haystack?’ he grinned. ‘He’ll be fine. He’s a big boy. He knows the area. He’s probably tucked up in bed with a pretty woman as we speak’ he said lightly.

Hutch forced a smile onto his face ‘Yeah, you know him so well! Ok, well I’ll get back to the hotel and wait for him to turn up ok?’ he got up as Rachel stood by his side. The woman came no higher than his chest, but she exuded a power he found amazing. She grabbed his arm tightly.

‘Find him….and let me know. We didn’t part on very good terms’.

‘I will. Don’t worry’.he stood up to leave and Nicky followed him down the hallway. As he stepped out into the street, the younger man took a hold of his shoulder.

‘I’ll see to Ma. Just sort him out huh? It explains a lot. A real Starsky would never run away’.

Hutch stared at him. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

‘What it says. He aint a real Starsky. I always knew him ‘n me were different’.

‘Yeah, you are Nick. Starsky's twice the man you’ll ever be’ Hutch snapped and tuned to walk away. As he set off down the street, muttering under his breath, he’d got as far as the corner of the block when Rachel shouted after him. He turned to see her waving for him to come back and he hesitated. Did he want any more trouble? But something in her face forced him to change his mind and he trotted back towards her. As he got within hearing distance she motioned for him to hurry.

‘Ken, its Joe Durniak. He says he’s had a delivery of something you’re going to want to see. Someone’s taken Davey’.

Chapter 22

Hutch sat down in the small office Durniak used as his base. He’d run back into Rachel Starsky’s house and had wrested the phone from her grip yelling down the phone.

‘Durniak, Hutch. Talk to me’.

‘Hutchinson, I’ve been trying to get hold of you all night. Where the hell have you been? No, don’t bother. I’m just glad I got hold of you now. Have you heard from Davey?’

‘No, that’s why I’d come over to Rachel’s house. He phoned me about 8 or half past and told me he was in a bar. He was gonna have a drink then make his way back to the hotel, but I got worried when he didn’t show. Why?’

The gangster’s voice became quiet. ‘I think you need to get over here. There’s um….there’s something you need to see’.

Hutch’s heart plummeted into his shoes at the tone. ‘Is it Starsk? Is he ok? How? Where are ya? How do I get to ya?’

‘I’ll send a car. Don’t go anywhere, and Hutch, be ready huh? He’s ok, for now’.

The phone went dead, leaving the blond staring at the receiver. Rachel watched as the colour drained from his face.

‘What did he say Ken? Has he seen David? He wouldn’t talk to me. He wouldn’t tell me. What did he say?’

‘He um…he said he…’ Hutch ran a hand through his hair, shaking himself out of his shock. He looked down at the diminutive woman who was pinning all her hopes on his answer. He tried to smile. ‘I think he has news. He’s sending a car to take me to his place. As soon as I know anything Rachel I promise I’ll let you know. Just hang in there huh? He’ll be fine. He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself. I um….I gotta go. They’ll be coming for me’. Hutch walked slowly down the corridor feeling every one of his 30 years in each bone in his body. Just what the hell was going on now? And why did it always involve his partner?

Within 5 minutes a dark, unrecognisable car drew up outside the Starsky household and the blacked out window wound down.

‘Ken Hutchinson?’ the driver asked quietly.

‘Yeah. Who’s askin’?’

‘Joe Durniak. Get in quick. Boss wants you back there soon as’.

With a backwards glance at Rachel who was clinging to Nicky and trying hard not to show her anxiety, Hutch got into the back seat of the car and immediately the man sitting next to him grabbed his head and pulled it down. The blond yelped in surprise but clamped his mouth shut as he felt a blindfold being tied across his eyes.

‘Hey, I thought I was a guest’ he grunted as he felt himself pushed upright again. He lifted his hand to adjust the fabric but it was held down forcibly.

‘The less you see, the better. It’s for your own protection man’ the voice at the side of him muttered. ‘Ya gonna behave?’

‘Sure. Wanna tell me where we’re goin’?’

‘Boss said to bring ya. Didn’t tell us to hold a friendly conversation’ the voice snapped. Hutch sighed, his nerves already in tatters from the cryptic message Durniak had given him. The silence in the car only served to make him worse and the absence of sight left him feeling slightly nauseous as the car wove through the streets. Fortunately the journey wasn’t long and within 10 minutes, the car came to a stop and the door opened. The blond felt hands on his shoulders and the top of his head steering him out of the vehicle, across a sidewalk and into a building. He heard the quality of the sounds around him change and the blindfold was pulled from his eyes. He blinked owlishly in the electric light of the stairwell and looked around. The tall man at his back motioned for him to climb the stairs in front of him and he took them two at a time, following another man at the top into a small wood panelled room. Behind a large heavy desk, Durniak sat, head in hands. He looked up as Hutch walked in.

‘I don’t take kindly to being treated like some kind of criminal’ Hutch snapped, expecting a clever retort. Instead Durniak smiled apologetically.

‘I’m sorry Hutchinson. In my line of work I can’t be too careful. And apart from that, believe me, you’re better off not knowing where this is’.

‘Whatever. You said you had news of Starsky. How is he? Where is he?’

‘I don’t know’.

‘Are you playin’ games with me Durniak? Coz I’m not in the mood. My partner is….’

‘Missing, yes, I know. And when I say I don’t now where he is at the moment, it’s the truth. But I know where he’ll be at five o’clock this morning. Will that do ya?’

‘You got my attention’ Hutch admitted.

‘Yeah. And Marco Sanna got mine’.


Durniak sighed. ‘Marco Sanna is the leader of the Rats, our main rivals. He’s been trying to negotiate some more territory for some time and up until now I wasn’t playing ball’.

‘Don’t tell me. Suddenly he’s found something, or someone you’re willing to negotiate over?’

‘Yeah’. Durniak put his head in his hands. ‘No-one should ever have known about this. If Dale hadn’t snooped around in my private stuff, he’d never have known either. This was between me and Rachel’.

‘Durniak, I don’t care what went on, or who Starsky’s real Dad is. Just tell me where my goddamned partner is, please. Where is he and what have they done with him?’

‘Sit down Ken. I got this delivered by private messenger about an hour ago’. Durniak waved at a TV screen and nodded for the man at the back of the room to push the play button on the VCR. The picture flared to life and Hutch sucked in a deep breath, falling back until he was sitting on the chair by the side of Joe’s desk.

Durniak. I’ve tried the civilised way of doing things and you wouldn’t play ball. The time for negotiation without coercion is over. I have something here that I think you’ll find….persuasive. Let’s see if blood really is thicker than water. All I want is the five blocks north of Flatbush Avenue. Simple. You meet me at the north gatehouse of Dyker Beach Park at 5:00am – that gives you four hours - and we won’t hurt him any more’

The blond felt physically sick as he saw the man on the screen move to one side revealing his bleeding, badly injured buddy tied to a chair. He hitched a breath and cursed as the man at Starsky’s back touched what looked like a red hot poker to his partner’s chest and the curly haired cop screamed.

‘Where’s the park?’ he asked without taking his eyes from the screen. ‘Just point me there an’ I’ll take the fucker down with my bare hands if I have to’.

‘We’ll go together’ Durniak said, his voice trembling slightly at the second viewing of the video. ‘I’m sorry Hutch. I’m so sorry’.

Hutch turned pained eyes on the older man. ‘Spare me your platitudes. Just go there, do what we have to and get my buddy back’.


Starsky came back to consciousness very slowly, his head feeling light and insubstantial and his mouth dry and sore. For a moment he couldn’t make out where he was. There was a smell of dust in his nostrils accompanied by something sharper. It took him a moment to recognise it as the coppery tang of blood – his blood and as he tried to move his body he groaned feebly. It hurt. Everything hurt too much to move, and yet his memory started to come back to him and he thought about the blood seeping from his leg.

With great care and stifling the moan that tried to escape his throat, the brunet tried to straighten out his body so that he could assess the damaged that had been done to it. He was surprised to find that now that the horrific video had been taken, he wasn’t bound in any way, although chuckling grimly to himself, he had to acknowledge that he was in no state to go anywhere anyway.

Managing to roll onto his back, he saw that the room was deserted and that the last one out had left a small table lamp lit and the fire was still giving a cheery glow and warmth to the room. He shivered as he saw the poker back in it’s rightful place by the side of the fireplace and tried not to think about the open smear of a burn across his upper chest. Thinking about it however, brought the pain and he fought against the heat of the wound, the sweat breaking out on his body only adding to the pains by stinging at the open lesion.

Starsky managed to drag himself upright until he could sit with his back braced against the front of the chair he had once been tied to. It cost him dearly and as he gained the upright position he felt the room swimming around him. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, fighting to remain conscious long enough to examine the deep wound on his leg.

Looking down at it, he could see that the bleeding hadn’t even slowed any and his first aid training kicked in, survival mode taking over. He needed to stem the bleeding and he needed to do it now. What he really needed was for someone to keep a steady pressure on the wound with a clean dry dressing and he snickered to himself. Fine if ya got a spare flake who’ll help ya Davey. What about of ya haven’t? Think!

His thought processes had slowed considerably and what was more frightening was that he knew they had. But he did manage to consider the problem and the only thing he could come up with was his leather belt. Not the best thing to use, he knew and the sounds of his first aid instructor echoed in his head, warning him about how dangerous tourniquets could be. But there again, his first aid instructor hadn’t envisaged being beaten to a pulp and stabbed by some half wit gangsters and then held to ransom.

He tried to move his left arm to unfasten the belt from round his hips, the pains in his leg and chest making him forget the pains in his arm for a moment. But the pain of the movement, accompanied by the sickening creaking and scraping feeling of the ends of the bones told him all too quickly that to try to use his broken arm was ludicrous in the extreme. He groaned, bit his bottom lip and instead used his right hand to unfasten the buckle and slowly pull the belt free of the loops of his jeans.

The next part was the bit he was not looking forward to and he braced himself mentally for the pain. One handed, he managed to loop the leather around the top of his thigh, high up above the shard of glass that was still sticking out from his leg. He knew better than to try to remove it, but each movement made it move and hurt more and twice, the stiff leather loop caught against the object making his cry out despite himself. By the time he’d managed to feed the end of the belt back through the buckle in preparation for pulling it tight, he was almost sobbing, the breath singing in his throat as he fought for some control and his hand trembling.

He rested his head back against the chair for a moment, putting off the dreaded moment for as long as he could. How much time would this buy him? Would Durniak come when he saw the video? Did he really want to be beholden to the gangster for anything, even his life? And what about Hutch? What was the Blond Blintz doing right now? Probably going frantic with worry.

Ok ok Davey. Enough procrastination! Hey, that’s a good word. Like that. procrastination…..stop it. You’re doin’ it again. Just pull the bloody belt and get the damned thing over with huh?

With his right hand slick with his blood it took a moment to get a good hold on the end of the belt and experimentally he pulled on it, snugging the leather until it was just tight enough to pull slightly around his thigh. The glass moved and he cried out again, the pain making him sick and robbing him of his breath. He stopped for a couple of seconds, and then before he could think about it any more, he pulled the end of the belt back and yanked it hard, tightening the murderous tourniquet around his thigh. The pain spun him down into blackness and he shrieked once before slowly toppling sideways and landing on his side on the floor, his eyes closed. As unconsciousness once more overtook him, the blood seeping from his leg slowed and almost stopped and the firelight cast a rosy glow over his pale and sweet slick face.

Chapter 23

The young girl heard the scream as she walked quietly up the steps of the deserted department store. Since she’d been left outside the bar on the other side of town she’d thought about nothing else other than the handsome curly haired man she’s been paid to target. He wasn’t her usual mark and despite the fact that he was a little drunk and seemed to be hurting somehow, she’d taken a liking to him. He was young and handsome and virile and had treated her like a proper human being rather than just some fuck-of-the-night woman he’d picked up…

When Marco’s men had come to target him, she’d had to look away. Outnumbered as he had been, the man had gone down fighting and the sounds of fists and feet driving into his body had stayed with her on her journey back through the streets.

Now she made her way through to the small room they usually used at the back of the store and pushed the door open quietly, stifling a cry as she saw the man had been damaged even more and was now apparently insensate on the floor. She looked over her shoulder, not wanting to draw attention to herself or to the man and finding that she was alone, she walked softly into the room. There was a lot of blood staining the old dusty floorboards and as she looked she realised most of it was from him. Her heart beat a little faster and she closed the gap, her high platform shoes clicking on the bare boards. It wasn’t until she got a little closer to him that she realised he was mumbling…or was it singing under his breath? She knelt on the floor next to him and tremulously put her hand out to rest lightly on his shoulder. The man’s eyes flashed open and he tried to shy away from the touch, but the movement caused him more pain and he moaned and went back to the low, almost inaudible crooning.

‘Daddy, Daddy cool….Daddy…..Daddy cool’

His voice cracked over the words and the song was almost unintelligible, but something in the halting tune and the pained husky voice brought a tear to the girl’s eyes.

‘Hey mister, can ya hear me?’ she asked softly, risking putting her hand back onto his shoulder. ‘Hey, are you ok?’ She stopped herself. What sort of a damned fool question was that? Course he wasn’t ok!

Starsky heard the voice as if from a distance. He didn’t know how long he’d been on his own, but the second voice made him jump and mentally he prepared himself for even more pain. He didn’t think he’d last much longer and he was fast disappearing into his own world where the same thoughts rolled over and over in his mind. Pain, Dad, Durniak, pain. His world was brought down to those four distinct subjects and as he lay in his self imposed darkness, his eyes closed against the world, his unthinking mind took over and brought up the first thing it grabbed onto. A song. A stupid song that refused to go away. But somehow, hearing his own voice, no matter how weak and thready and despite the stupidity of the words comforted him and helped him remember that he was still, for the moment, a human being. And so he continued to croon the words to himself over and again.

‘Daddy, Daddy cool…..Daddy, Daddy cool….’

The voice was there again and now there was a pressure on his arm, pushing, insistent, and for the time being it didn’t hurt. He forced his eyes open, staring at the dusty floorboards and then managed to roll his head slightly to look at the girl. The same girl he’d had in the alleyway and he giggled to himself. Not tonight Josephine! He didn’t think he could raise a smile, let alone Little Davey’s interest right at the moment and he wondered why she was there.

‘Hey, are you ok?’ she asked again and was rewarded with a flash of brilliant blue eyes sheltered beneath sweat spiked, thick, dark lashes.

‘Urts’ Starsky managed to mumble, wanting her to understand that he didn’t require her particular brand of services right then. She smiled sadly at him

‘I know. I couldn’t stop them, I’m sorry. Let me get you a drink or something’.

Starsky closed his eyes and waited. Yeah, a drink. He could handle a drink. A nice cold beer…. The girl returned and he groaned again as she put her hand under his head and lifted it slightly so that she could position the glass by his lips. He managed to sip a little of the cold water, then sank back exhausted and panting with the exertion of the tiny activity. The drink was nice and he wanted some more, but it was too tiring. He needed to sleep. He needed to find Hutch. Hutch would take care of him now, he knew that.

Tandy continued to sit by his side as he lapsed into his shadowy world again. Daddy cool…..Daddy cool….. Moving hurt, breathing hurt, but something made his mind focus once again on his injured leg and he forced his eyes open once more, struggling to keep his gaze on the pretty face. His lips moved and finally he forced a word out. ‘Leg…’

She looked down his body at the blood caked leather around his upper thigh and the glass sticking out of his flesh and her breath caught in her throat. ‘I can’t do anything. I’m sorry, I don’t know what to do’ she muttered.

‘Belt……loosen it’ he gasped, his hand moving weakly to the buckle. She brushed it gently out of the way and took hold of the end of the belt uncertainly.

‘You’re still bleeding. This is gonna hurt you so much. You should leave it. You should just….’

‘No…..needs t’be loose…..just fer a minute…..then tighten it ‘gain’ he managed to mutter softly.

She took a deep breath. ‘OK, but I don’t want to hurt’ she said.

‘Already….’urts. Just….do it?’

She nodded silently and fumbled with the blood slick buckle, struggling to get the metal prong loose from it’s hole and finally slackening the makeshift tourniquet. The sudden rush of blood back to the injured limb sent fire pains coursing through the brunet’s body and he screamed, his body spasming, the sound ending in a sob as she ran her fingers through his hair, shushing him. She stayed by his side for a moment or so, but the blood was still coursing from the wound and biting her bottom lip, she set about tightening the leather again. As the murderous band tightened once more the cop’s body arched back against the pain and he groaned low in his throat, shuddered once and finally sagged back, unconscious just as Marco Sanna and two of his heavies walked into the room.

‘Tandy, get away from him’ Sanna snapped as the girl hurriedly stood and backed away. The gangster looked at his men and nodded. ‘Bring him, it’s time’.

The two men surged forward and took a hold of the injured cop under his arms. Even in his unconscious state, a moan was wrung from him at the uncaring treatment and as they dragged him away, his toes leaving marks in the dust on the ground, Tandy shrank back and closed her eyes.


Hutch sat in the back of the car with Durniak as the driver whisked them through the still dark streets towards Dyker Park. The north side gatehouse had been stipulated as the meeting ground, being on the edge of each gang’s territories and therefore as close as they could come to neutral ground and as they drove the blond cop could feel the nervous tension in the vehicle, the air being so thick he felt he could cut it with a knife.

Once Durniak had turned off the sickening video, there had been a moments silence in the small room as both he and Hutch regrouped and got some control of their emotions. The flaxen haired man’s first instinct had been to run out of the room, find Sanna and ring his neck. But he knew batter than to try and had sat with his fists balled as Durniak had shaken himself out of his shock.

‘So?’ Hutch demanded.

‘So we meet with him at 5:00am’.

‘And what then? Are ya gonna give him what he wants?’

‘I don’t know. That’s a lot of land’ Durniak said quietly.

‘What the hell has land got to do with it? What price are you gonna put on my partner’s head? The cop yelled, slamming his fist down on Durniak’s desk. The man at the back of the room made a move as though to restrain Hutch in someway, but the old gangster waved him away.

‘Your partner and my……son? I’ll do whatever it takes, but we don’t go in empty handed’ he explained and for the next hour he, Hutch and three of his goons sat around the desk and planned their moves. Now, with Durniak and Hutch in a plain dark coloured car sandwiched between two others the convoy moved through the streets inexorably towards the park.

Five minutes later, they arrived and parked up and the blond looked out of the rear window looking for the backup they’d discussed. He was sure it would be there, he just didn’t see it and the absence made his skin crawl. In front of him, he saw tall park gates and just beyond was a large wooden pavilion-like structure. At the side of it, another car had parked, it’s metal carcass looking out of the early morning mist like some prehistoric creature.

The driver of their car got out, looking around him and keeping his right hand firmly under his coat on the handle of his gun. He checked the perimeters of the park and behind them, Hutch could see the driver of the second car doing exactly the same. He was reminded of the TV shots he saw of the presidential car and realised grimly that these were Durniak’s bullet catchers. Comforting, and at the same time immensely creepy.

When they’d been planning the meeting, Hutch had asked for a weapon. He felt naked without his big Colt Python hanging in its holster beneath his left arm. But Durniak had been adamant. This was an issue between gangs. He was a cop and as such, it would be better for all concerned if he didn’t take a full part in whatever went down. At first, the gangster hadn’t wanted the blond anywhere near, but Hutch had been firm on that topic. This was Starsky, his best friend and partner, and if he was in trouble, Hutch was going to be there. And so he’d persuaded Joe to take him along, but he was defenceless and felt the absence of firepower keenly.

At a nod from the driver, Durniak and Hutch got out of their car and stood with their backs to the metal. The early morning had that cold, damp tang in the air coming from the water and the mist rolled over the treetops of the park, making ghostly shapes in the gloom. The blond shivered involuntarily and followed as Durniak and his minder walked slowly towards the park gates and the building beyond. At his back, the second driver and two more men followed and the cortège made its way slowly down the uneven concrete path and came to a stop ant the foot of the steps leading up to the pavilion.

Here, two of Sanna’s men waited for them, grim and forbidding in the dim early morning light. No one smiled and the air was electric with tension. Slowly Durniak and Hutch walked up the steps and the blond saw that the door to the pavilion had been opened, a tall dark haired man and two others standing inside. As Hutch gained the top of the steps and walked into the wooden building, Durniak put a hand on his arm

‘Remember. Whatever happens, don’t react and don’t show any emotion. It’s important. Got it?’ Hutch nodded imperceptibly and looked around. He realised that Sanna and his men were standing in a semi circle around a pile of rags on the ground. As he came to stand by them however, his heart dove into his boots as the pile moved and Starsky’s bloodied features looked up at the men surrounding him.

Chapter 24

Don’t react….don’t react….don’t show any emotion. The words went over and over in Hutch’s head as he followed Durniak into the wooden structure. The old gangster had warned him that any move, any comment or any reaction to whatever he saw or heard during the meeting would not bode well for them and ultimately for Starsky. And so the blond resolved to do everything in his power to say and do nothing.

When he got into the building however, and saw his partner’s injured and bloody body on the floor surrounded by the semicircle of Sanna and his goons his first thought was to kill each and every one of them and rush to the brunet’s side. Instead, he balled his hands into fists so tightly that his fingernails dugs into the palms of his hands and drew blood, sucked in a deep breath and focussed on a spot on the far wall above the heads of the men. OK ok don’t look. He’s hurt and you want to get to him, but Durniak said don’t react. Oh God Starsk, what the hell have they done at ya buddy? I’m here. I’m here an’ as soon as I can I’ll get to ya. Just hang in there huh? Just a while longer. And in that split second he looked down and his eyes fastened onto his partner’s

Starsky for his part was trying hard to make sense of what was going on. When the goons had picked him up and dragged him from the old department store, the pains the movements had set off in his body had plunged him once again into unconsciousness and mercifully he remained insensate for almost all of the ride over to the park in Sanna’s car. However, when they hauled him out at the other end, the cool air of the early dawn bit at the exposed skin that protruded through his tattered shirt and revived him slightly. He managed to open his eyes, then closed them again against the pains, the dizziness and the nausea and he allowed his body to go limp as the goons hauled him into the wooden pavilion and dumped him onto the floor.

He remained where he’d been thrown, having neither the energy not the inclination to move. Breathing hurt, moving hurt and even thinking hurt and for a while he was content to merely be, waiting for whatever would come next and trying to make some sense of the whole situation. But try as he might he couldn’t understand how he’d gone from being a man looking for the truth about his parent to hostage in one easy move.

And then he heard footsteps walking up the front steps to the place and into the large echoing room. The footsteps stopped and he forced his eyes open to look at the semi circle of shoes that surrounded him. Slowly he managed to lift his head, and there above him were the achingly familiar eyes of the man he’d come to know and trust.


Hutch had come for him. Everything would be fine now that Hutch was there, he knew that. But something was wrong. Hutch wasn’t knelt at the side of him. Hutch didn’t seem to notice he was there! What was going on? Why didn’t his buddy help him?

The brunet dismissed the pains knifing through his body and tried to get to his knees. He managed only to lift the upper part of his body a little way from the floor, but it was enough and he inched forward towards the blond’s shoes.

‘Utssch’ he whispered as he reached out his right, uninjured arm. ‘Help?’

Hutch felt a sob rise in his throat, the effort of ignoring his partner’s pitiful pleas almost more than he could endure. He closed his eyes and wished he could stuff his fingers into his ears as he heard the pained whisper again as Starsky pulled himself fractionally closer.

At first he thought the brunet’s efforts had gone unnoticed, but at least one of Sanna’s goons saw the moves and with a silent snicker, he lifted his boot and brought it down on the curly haired cop’s fingers. Hutch watched as Starsky yelped and tried to retrieve his hand from under the sole of the man’s shoe, but the goon leaned heavily down and Starsky seemed to give up the effort, his head sinking back onto the floor with a small moan.

With a great effort, Hutch tore his attention back to the two gangsters, Durniak and Sanna who were facing off across the circle of men, glaring at each other.

‘Glad you could make it’ Sanna muttered with mock civility

‘You got my attention’ Durniak said mildly, ignoring the man on the ground.

‘Didn’t I just! Are you ready to talk, old man?’

‘You know my answer Marco. You’ve known my answer since day one. Just because you managed to get some leverage doesn’t change squat’.

‘The answer’s still the same?’ Sanna asked, a note of surprise in his voice.

‘Of course. Did you think you could change my mind just like that?’

‘So you’d let your own son suffer just for the sake of a few blocks?’ Sanna asked disbelievingly.

‘Your sources have the wrong information. He aint nuthin to do with me’.

‘Dale said differently’ Sanna remarked. ‘Dale said he’s yours. Your dirty little secret’.

‘Dale’s a fool’.

‘Is he? I don’t think so. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here. He means more to you than you want to let on’ Sanna nudged Starsky’s body with the toe of his boot and another moan echoed around the room. Hutch felt as though he’d never breathe again and Durniak looked distinctly uncomfortable. Sanna watched the reaction and grinned. ‘Means nothing huh?’ he asked and drew back his foot to deliver a crippling blow. Hutch felt himself tense ready. There was no way he would let Sanna or anyone else lay a finger, foot or whisker on his partner, Durniak or no. Enough as enough.

But as Sanna started his forward swing, in the distance they could all hear the sound of police sirens, several of them ringing through the early morning air. Sanna replaced his foot on the ground and looked around angrily, ready to yell directions at his men when he saw the look of equal surprise on Durniak’s face.

‘What the hell?’ he managed to spit out as he went for his gun. Durniak too went for his and suddenly all hell broke loose as the men from both the Rats and Kings drew their weapons and started to fire.

‘Why tell the cops?’ Sanna yelled. ‘This was between us, old man. How the fuck could you be so stupid?’

‘Wasn’t me. This is your doing Marco. One of your guys must’ve done this. We can fight or we can…’

Sanna raised his gun, a look of pure hatred on his face. ‘You double crossing no good….’ The gun spoke in his hand, more effectively than any word that could be issued from his mouth, the sound loud in the confines of the pavilion. It was the catalyst the gangsters needed and within moments the sound of the fast approaching sirens was drowned out by the sounds of gunfire in the wooden pavilion.

As the shootout started, Hutch took his chance and dived forward, his big blond body falling to cover his partner’s as he used himself as a human shield. With Starsky safe beneath him and his hands covering his head, he braced himself as the shots around then continued. There were incoherent shouts, shrieks as bullets hit and the nostril stripping scent of cordite heavy in the air. The blond heard screams and cries and then suddenly the sound of another voice through a loud hailer.

‘Police freeze’ it called into the building.

There was a split seconds silence before the gunshots started again and now there were more men in the big room. The flaxen haired cop snatched a quick look up to see a swat team entering the pavilion, rifles drawn and helmets down as they ploughed into the mêlée, their own gunfire adding to the noise and general confusion. Beside him a body hit the ground and Hutch braced himself for bullets to hit him, but none came. The cop team’s superior fire power had won out over the gangsters smaller single shot weapons and suddenly there was silence in the room, the smoke from the guns floating in a heavy haze above the floor.

Hutch cast a quick look sideways and saw in the doorway of the pavilion a young girl of perhaps 18 or 19. She looked incongruous and out of place in the arena of battle in her tiny blue denim mini skirt and white halter top. She looked around in fear and confusion, finally spotting Marco Sanna laying covered in blood at the back of the room and slowly she picked her way over to him, kneeling by his side. At her touch, the gangster opened his eyes.

‘Marco, I’m sorry…..I was so scared for you. I didn’t want you to die…..I…..’

‘You called the cops?’ the gangster whispered haltingly.

She leaned over him, a single tear falling onto his upturned face ‘I love you’ she whispered.

‘You called…..cops. Keep the ….fuck ‘way from me’ he managed to snap out and shuffled away from her. A uniformed cop pulled her away and she got up tearfully.

‘I’m sorry’ she cried. ‘Truly I’m sorry’ she murmured holding onto the cops arm for support. Reluctantly she turned away from Sanna and allowed herself to be led away.

Hutch looked about him, stunned at the sudden ferocity of the battle and it’s equally sudden cessation. He levered himself up off Starsky’s body as the girl was escorted past and she hesitated.

‘Is he ok?’ she asked quietly.

‘Did you call the cops?’ Hutch asked.

She nodded as though expecting some rebuke from him too but he smiled up at her. ‘You may have just saved his life’ he said softly and turned his attention back to the brunet. Above him he felt the metal muzzle of a gun pushed into his back and the blond froze automatically.

‘Up nice and gentle Pal’ the voice said and Hutch turned to see one of the armed cops standing over him.

‘I’m a cop too’ he said, his voice husky. ‘I’m gonna reach for my badge ok?’

At the nod from the man with the gun, Hutch reached with his finger tips into his back pocket and pulled out his badge, flipping it open to reveal the shiny shield. ‘Bay City PD. This is my partner. Can I see to him please? Can we get an ambulance here?’

The man nodded and gently Hutch pulled his buddy over until he could see Starsky’s face. The eyes were closed and the blond winced at the fresh injuries over his face.

‘Starsk, it all over buddy. I got ya’ he said softly. ‘Starsky, can ya open your eyes for me huh?’

Very slowly, indigo blue crescents showed below bruised eyelids and a frail smile flashed over Starsky’s face. ‘Knew you’d come’ he managed to whisper.

‘Where’s it hurt buddy?’ Hutch asked, taking his first proper look at his partner’s blood soaked body.


The blond looked at the makeshift tourniquet tied around Starsky’s upper leg and the glass still sticking out of his friend’s flesh. He reached down and touched the leather and Starsky’s body trembled at the touch. ‘Sssh. S’ok buddy. We’re gonna take care of that. No problem. I need to slacken it Starsk. Will ya let me do that?’

The eyes flashed open again. ‘Yeah…..hurts’.

‘I know, I’ll be as gentle as I can, but it needs doin’ buddy. Ready?’


Hutch braced himself and loosened the belt, holding onto Starsky’s body as it bucked against the pain. The brunet whimpered into his partner’s shirt as the knife like burning pains assailed him then groaned and trembled, trying to twist away as Hutch tightened the murderous loop again. The brunet panted weakly in his arms.

‘F finished?’

‘Yeah, I'm finished buddy. Just rest till the meat wagon gets here an’ you’ll soon be fine’.

'Ya always h had a lousy b bedside manner'.

Hutch snorted softly. 'Yeah? comes of dealin' with you all these years'.

‘Yeah…..Utch?...where’s Durniak?’

The flaxen haired cop looked round. In the confusion of the shootout and the ensuing reunion with his partner, Hutch hadn’t thought about the old gangster, but now he cursed as he saw Joe’s body on the floor at the other side of the room. Gently he laid Starsky back down on the ground and crawled over to the older man. He was unconscious, a bullet wound in his left shoulder perilously close to his heart. He had a pulse, weak and stuttering, but he’d need medical attention urgently. As he explored the wound, Durniak opened his eyes and smiled at Hutch calmly.

‘How’s my boy?’ He whispered just as the paramedics arrived.

Chapter 25

Hutch watched as the paramedics bundled his partner and Joe Durniak into the ambulance. He climbed into the back of the vehicle with them and pulled the door shut behind him, sitting down on the small perch seat by the side of the brunet. Whilst Starsky was fighting to remain conscious, the old gangster had lost his own battle and was asleep, an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose as the paramedic worked over him.

‘Where are we going?’ Hutch asked holding tight to the side rails of the gurney to save himself from being thrown around the ambulance. The medic continued to work, barely looking up at him.

‘Mercy Hospital. It aint the closest, but you’ll get a better chance of ‘em bein’ seen quick there. County has a major incident and is closed down to emergencies. You should be fine at Mercy’.

‘Is it a long way away?’

‘Nope, we should be there in five’ the man said, continuing to work. Hutch looked down at his partner and was rewarded with a weak smile. ‘How’re ya doin’ buddy? hangin’ in there?’ he asked.

‘How’s Joe?’ Starsky whispered.

‘He caught one in the chest, but he’s holdin’ on. We need to get you both dealt with Starsk. Looks like you lost a lot of the red stuff there Pal’.

The brunet snorted softly. ‘Ya think?’ he gasped as the vehicle ran over a rut in the road and jostled his body. ‘Shit’ he cursed quietly. ‘Leg….arm…. hurts Hutch’.

‘I know buddy. We’re nearly there. Just hang in there huh?’

‘Yeah…..M’tired’ the curly haired cop whispered closing his eyes. His head started to loll to the side and immediately Hutch was kneeling by his side, a hand on his shoulder.

‘Starsk…Stay with me buddy. Hear me. No nappin’ on the job huh? Starsk? STARSKY open your eyes for me’ he watched as slowly they opened, unfocussed and bleary, but still wedged open. ‘Great….you’re doin’ great buddy. Just stay with me here. Work with me huh?’

‘Ssssound like Dobey’ Starsky whispered. ‘Loud……need t’sleep’.

‘No, you need to stay with me here. Look we’re here now. Just hang in there an’ we’ll get ya inside’. The blond stood to one side as the paramedics opened the doors to the ambulance and nurses and doctors surged forwards to take their patients away. As his partner and the old gangster where wheeled away from him Hutch stood feeling helpless and useless outside the unfamiliar hospital and it wasn’t until the medic from the ambulance tapped him on the shoulder that he moved.

‘You ok Pal?’

Hutch smiled tiredly. ‘Soon as I know he’s ok I will be’.

The man pointed to a doorway and a corridor. ‘They’ll have taken him through to triage. Go wait in there, someone’ll come for ya’.

Hutch walked inside the building, the sights and smells the same as every other hospital he’d ever waited for Starsky in. Too many hospitals. Too many waiting rooms. All joined by a common theme – worry for a certain curly headed man. He sighed and walked up the corridor looking in to each small curtained off cubicle. Third one up he found Joe Durniak lying on his gurney while a nurse cut off his clothes and draped an open backed gown across him. The man looked pale and Hutch could see his chest moving shallowly and quickly. He was going into shock and needed urgent care. The large gunshot wound on his left shoulder still bled freely and a large padded dressing had been taped over it.

The blond walked to the next cubicle and found his partner also undergoing some undressing of his own. As Hutch walked into the small area, the doctor was undoing the tourniquet from round the top of his leg and as the blood started to flow back into his limb, Starsky writhed on the gurney and groaned loudly. His eyes flashed open and fixed on Hutch’s and the flaxen haired cop made his way to the side of the bed, ignoring the nurses look. He took a hold of his partner’s hand and held it tightly.

‘I gotcha buddy. Just breathe through it ok? The worst is over now. They got the belt off. Just lie back an’ try to relax huh?’

‘Sure….walk in th….the park’ the brunet gasped

The doctor moved to the side of him, raising Starsky’s eyelids and shining his penlight into the deep blue irises. ‘You know this man?’ has asked Hutch unnecessarily.

‘Yeah, we’re cops. He’s my partner. How’s he doin’ doc?’

He felt a twitch on his hands and looked down. Starsky was smiling feebly at him. ‘I can ask….for myself’ he whispered.

‘Sorry buddy. Force of habit, you're usually out of it at this point’ he grinned, thankful that at least Starsky could still answer back.

The doctor completed his initial examination as Hutch held on to the smaller man. The manipulations, the probing and the general movement made Starsky sweat and cry out on more than one occasion, but for the most part, he fixed Hutch’s eyes with an immoveable gaze and hung on silently. At the end, the doctor wrote notes on a chart and looked up.

‘David is it? Well, I think from now on you should choose your friends more wisely. You have a concussion, a second degree burn on your chest, your left arm is broken as are at least five ribs on your left hand side. I’m not sure at the moment, but you may also have a fractured cheek bone. You’ll most certainly have black eyes. The glass in your leg will obviously need to be removed, but the most pressing thing is the amount of blood you’ve lost. I’ve sent a sample for cross matching and for the moment I’ll set up a plasma drip. Your blood group is?...’

‘A positive’ both men said together.

‘Ok. Well the hospital has had a number of large scale incidents to deal with and our blood stocks are low. So to help, if you have any relatives or close friends who’d like to come in and donate, we’d be eternally grateful. In the meantime…’

‘Hutch?’ Starsky whispered, his voice not up to the strains of talking any more loudly. ‘Joe….how’s Joe?’

The doctor overheard. ‘The man you were brought in with? He’s stable and will be on his way up to the OR some time soon. Same goes for him. If anyone would like to come in and donate….we’d be grateful. So, David. Rest huh? You’ll be scheduled for the OR soon and once that’s out of your leg you’re gonna feel a helluva lot more comfortable’. The doctor checked one more time and left, leaving the two cops alone.


‘Yeah. You heard the Doc buddy. Just rest’.

‘Find Joe…..see him’ Starsky felt so tired and drained now that he new he was safe and wanted nothing more than to sleep for at least a year, but there was that one burning question left. How was Joe? Somehow it didn’t matter any more that he may or may not be his Dad. He’d helped Hutch and him and he wanted to know. Hutch saw the pain weary face and nodded.

‘Lemme go check’ he said and pulled the curtain aside heading to the next cubicle. He walked in, seeing that Durniak was alone and asleep. Tentatively he took the chart from the bottom of the bed, running through the readings on the page. Blood pressure 90 on 60, respirations 100, next of kin not given, blood group B, religion Roman Catholic. He walked back to his partner’s bed but sighed as he saw that Starsky had finally succumbed to sleep himself and his thick dark lashes had closed over his indigo eyes. His face was still lined with pain, but there was some relaxation now in his body and Hutch pulled up the chair in the small room and prepared to wait.

An hour later, when they came to collect his partner to take him to surgery, Hutch got up stiffly from the hard plastic chair and made his way to the public phone. He dialled Rachel’s telephone number and waited. The phone picked up on the second ring and a worried voice answered.


‘Rachel, its Hutch’.

‘Oyve! Hutch. Have you seen my boy? Have you found my Davey?’ she cried down the phone.

‘Yeah, yeah, we found him. We got him back Rachel’.


‘Joe Durniak an’ me. We found him and….Rachel he’s been hurt. Badly, but he’s gonna be ok, he’ll be ok’ he said quickly as he heard the gasp at the other end of the phone.

‘Where is he? Where’s my David? Which hospital is he at? I’ve been so worried’.

‘He’s at Mercy hospital. He’s in surgery right now. By the time you get here he should be out, but there’s something more you can do for him’.


‘The hospital are short of blood. He bled a lot and he needs a transfusion. There’s enough here, but the docs asked me if there was anyone who’d donate, to replenish their stocks. Do you know you’re blood group?’ Hutch asked.

‘Um, yes Its O. Me and Nick are both group O. That’s good isn’t it. I read about it. Universal donor isn’t it? I can give to anyone. I can give to my Davey?’

‘O? Are you sure it’s O?’ Hutch asked, his heart suddenly beating a little quicker.

‘Of course, Like I said, Nicky and me both. And Davey is….’

‘A, yeah. Well you can certainly come and donate Rachel. Every pint helps’.

‘I’ll be there in half an hour or maybe just a little more’ the small woman said. ‘And thank you Hutch. Thank you for finding my boy. If he’s awake before I get there, tell him I love him’.

The blond put the telephone down and ran his finger over his bottom lip, a smile spreading across his golden face for the first time in days.

An hour later, and still waiting for his partner to return from the OR, Hutch met the diminutive woman in the relative’s room. He sat down by her side and held her hand as she sat stiffly and proudly waiting. The blond looked round.

‘You came on your own?’ he asked.

‘Um….Nick wouldn’t….he…..well he doesn’t like hospitals’ she told him almost apologetically. ‘Have you heard how my Davey is? Have they told you anything yet?’

‘No, nothing yet. But no news is good news and he was awake before they took him. He’s gonna be ok Rachel’.

At that moment a nurse came in. ‘Mrs Starsky? I believe you said you’d donate some blood? We’re ready for you now’. Rachel turned and smiled at Hutch, handing him her coat.

‘Be right back’ she said and followed the nurse out. Moments later, the doctor who’d initially looked after the brunet appeared in the small room. ‘Detective Hutchinson? David’s back in recovery now. You should be able to see him very soon. Everything went well, although he’s gonna be awful sore for a while’.

The blond sighed deeply. ‘He’s kinda used to it’. He saw the flash of a question across the doctor’s face. ‘Occupational hazard – gettin’ hurt. Doc, can I clarify something with you?’


‘Ok, well here’s the thing…..’ For the next ten minutes Hutch went over the facts he had in his head with the doctor and at the end of it the doctor got up and steered him to Starsky’s room as Hutch grinned broadly.

As he walked into the quiet room he was thankful that there was none of the intrusive machinery around the bed. Just a bag of ruby coloured fluid hung from a drip stand, dripping its life giving goodness into the brunet’s right arm. The left was swathed in a bright white cast from finger tip to above the elbow and another white dressing was taped down over the large burn across his upper chest. A metal hooped guard tented the bedclothes over the smaller man’s middle taking any undue pressure from the wound on his upper leg and another drip fed clear liquid into the back of his right hand.

‘We took the glass from his leg with no problems’ the doctor explained, ‘but he’s gonna need at least 4 units of whole blood over the next 24 hours. He should be awake pretty soon’.

The blond cop smiled his thanks and walked over to sit by his partner to wait and within half an hour, the anaesthetic had started to wear off. Another five minutes and Starsky started to breath more deeply and slowly he opened his eyes and looked around.

‘Hey buddy’ Hutch said gently. ‘Welcome back’.

‘Hey yourself’ the curly haired man rasped at him.

‘Want an ice chip?’

‘Nope. Want a beer’.

‘OK, a beer flavoured ice chip. Use your imagination’ the blond grinned and placed the cold crystal in his partner’s mouth. ‘How’re ya doin’?’

Starsky thought for a moment. ‘Not bad. Pain meds huh? Feel fuzzy’.

‘Enjoy it while you can buddy. Doc says you’re gonna be mighty sore for a while’.

‘Great….just what I need’ the brunet grunted. At that moment Rachel appeared in the doorway of the room and seeing that her son was awake she walked over, leaned over the bed and kissed Starsky gently on the forehead, careful not to jostle his injuries.

‘Hey Ma’ he said softly.

‘Davey, are you alright son? Can I get you anything? Oh my God look at you! What did they do to you? Why?’ The small woman delicately traced the bandages with her finger, a tears trickling down her cheek as she looked at the bloodied and bruised face of her eldest boy.

‘Seems they didn’t like I had the wrong Dad either’ the injured man grunted. He managed to grasp his Mom’s hand and held it. ‘S’ok Ma. M’fine’.

‘No, you’re not. This is all my fault. All my….’

‘I don’t think its anyone’s fault, and definitely not his Dad’s’ Hutch said, interrupting her. Both Rachel and Starsky looked at him and he couldn’t resist grinning.

‘What’s so funny?’ Starsky asked painfully. The numbness was beginning to wear off now and he was starting to feel the pain.

‘While you were away sleepin’ I did a little detective work’ Hutch began. ‘I solved your mystery buddy. I know who your Dad is’.

Both Rachel and her son stared at him.

‘And’ Starsky demanded weakly, his eyes fixed on his partner.

‘Well you asked me to go check on Durniak in the next door cubicle right?’

‘Hutch…. for Gods sake jus’ spill it!’

‘Ok, don’t spoil this for me!. I saw his notes and I read he was blood type B. You an’ me are both A right?’

‘Uh huh?’

‘Well the doc asked if you had anyone who could donate blood – the hospital stocks are low, so when I phoned your Mom to tell her you were safe, she agreed to donate’.

‘Well it was the least I could do’ Rachel said, ‘But I don’t understand how that…..’

‘Something rang false with me an’ I didn’t want to mention till I’d clarified it with the Doc. Rachel you’re blood group O’ Hutch said triumphantly.


‘Well don’t you see? If Starsky is type A and you’re O……’

‘Oh my god, Ma! That’s it’ Starsky tried to sit up in bed, groaned and sagged back against the pillow, but his eyes were brighter and for the first time in days there was a painful smile on his bruised features.

‘That’s what?’ Rachel asked.

‘Durniak’s blood is type B. If you and Nicky are O and Starsky is A, it’s a medical impossibility for his Father to be type B. He’d have to be either O or A. Joe Durniak can’t be Starsky’s Dad’ Hutch concluded.

The small woman cried out and sat down heavily on her chair, tears now coursing down her cheeks. Starsky tried to reach for her to comfort her but couldn’t reach, but Hutch walked around the bed and knelt by her side, putting an arm around her.

‘All these years’ she sobbed. ‘All these years of lies and deceit, of keeping secrets and looking at Joe and wondering’.

‘I thought you’d be happy’ Hutch said gently. ‘Mystery solved’.

‘I am happy. So much happier than I can possibly say. It just came as a shock and…relief. Oh Ken, Davey…..I’m so sorry it had to come to this but…’

‘Ma…..c’mere’ Starsky whispered. He could feel himself getting more tired, but he wanted to hold and comfort his Mom. She leaned against the bed and he ran his hands though her curls. ‘M'sorry I said those things...had no right...Love ya Ma’ he said wearily but happily as his eyes slid closed.

‘I love you too son’ she whispered back. The tiny woman looked up at Hutch. ‘Thank you so much Ken, You don’t know how much this means to me and to Davey’.

‘Yes I do Rachel, and I’m only too glad I managed to sort it out’.

‘There’s just one thing….do you think Joe will want his checks back?’


Starsky sat in the wheelchair by the side of Durniak’s bed two days later. While still not allowed to put any weight on his injured leg and unable to use crutches because of his broken arm he’d reluctantly agreed to use the chair although he despised the devices. But needs must and now that Joe was awake, he needed to see him. Hutch rolled him into the room, patted his shoulder and left as the old gangster watched him depart.

‘You look good Davey’ Joe said, his voice weak, but fairly clear.

‘I’m doin’ ok. Sore, but I’m outa here this afternoon. Goin’ back to Ma’s for a while till I’m fit to fly home.

‘She’s a good woman Davey’.

‘Well you should know that’ the words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself and he saw the flash of pain cross the old eyes.

‘She told you what happened?’

‘Yeah, she told me. How could ya? You target a cop then sleep with his wife as a bargain to stop killin’ him. That’s worse than low Durniak. That’s evil’.

‘I loved her. I’ve never stopped lovin’ her’ Joe tried to explain.

‘Well I got news for ya. Your conscience money never bought her love. She loved my Dad right to the very end and there aint nuthin you could’a done about that’. He saw a question behind the old tired eyes and grinned. ‘One good thing that came out of all this Joe. We needed blood. They cross typed us and there aint no way you could ever be my Dad. Not that I would have ever acknowledged the fact anyway. My Dad was Michael Starsky, cop and lovin' husband, not some goon with a gun and a city’.

Durniak’s eyes closed and Starsky was amazed to see a tear roll unchecked down the lined face. The gangster sighed deeply. ‘Damn’ he whispered.

‘Damn? What’s that supposed t’mean?’

The clouded brown eyes opened and fixed onto the indigos across from him. ‘Damn. I would so have loved a son like you David’.

Starsky looked away, uncomfortable with the hurt in the old man’s eyes. He wasn’t prepared for the raw feeling he had in his chest at telling Durniak the news. He was even more unprepared for Durniak’s words. The gangster tried to shift himself further up the bed and the brunet was about to call for the nurse to help when Joe put his hand up and grabbed hold of Starsky’s right wrist. He stared at the younger man as though fixing his face in his memory then looked away.

'OK, enough with the soapy scene. Now get out. Get out, and don’t come near me again huh?’ Durniak turned his face to the wall dismissing the cop.

Starsky called for Hutch to come get him and as the blond started to wheel him out of the room he put his hand up to halt their progress and turned painfully in the chair.

‘I won’t come back Joe, don’t worry about that. But ya know? You risked a helluva a lot for me, I know that an’ I’m grateful. Maybe if things had been different you wouldn’t have made too bad a Dad. Maybe one I could’a looked up to’.

As Hutch pushed him from the room, Durniak turned and watched them go. ‘I loved you anyhow……son’ he whispered to himself as he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.



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