Chapter 1 – 2 weeks ago
The dark, curly haired man came back to consciousness quickly, body stiffening as his
mind told him he was once again awake. On immediate alert for the flakes that’d jumped him in the street close to his
apartment he tensed automatically, feeling the pains begin across his chest and arm. For a moment his eyes remained closed,
his brain telling him it would be crazy to alert anyone to the fact he was awake, and his other senses quested around him
for signs of life or danger. Every fibre of his being told him to remain still and quiet. Every word of his training told
him to pretend to be asleep until he could assess the situation fully.
hearing told him that he definitely wasn’t in or near his apartment any more. There was a myriad of sounds around him.
Voices, hushed and low, murmured conversations that didn’t concern him. In the distance the mechanical beeping of some
kind of machine rang insistently and the metallic clang of trolleys rolling across hard tiled floors added to the muted cacophony.
His sense of smell registered antiseptic and canned, bland air conditioning, the temperature neither too warm nor too cold
and the taste in his mouth told him he’d been drugged. His lips refused to glide over his teeth properly and his tongue
felt as though someone had covered it in sandpaper, his throat sore and dry. Nasal cannula invaded his nostrils and irritated
his top lip and he could feel the dull ache that came from a needle in the back of his right hand. He recognised the signs.
He’d had some kind of surgical procedure, most likely to remove the bullet. OK, he seemed to be safe. Time to wake up.
green eyes opened slowly from beneath thick, dark eyelashes that any make up advertising guru would have paid millions for
the use of and attempted to look around. But the bright light above him hurt and he hissed softly, trying to raise his right
hand to shield his eyes from the harsh glare. Something held his hand down and for one awful, terror stricken moment he panicked.
Oh my God, they still had him! They’d taken him somewhere! They’d restrained him in some way. He started to struggle
weakly and a female voice penetrated his terror and the soothing tones attempted to calm him.
Trafford…..Tom try to stay calm, you’re in the hospital. Ssssh, don’t fight us, just let the drugs do the
work huh?’ A soft hand rested on his forehead and carded fingers through his hair, gentling him and piercing his fears
so that they dissipated and popped like a soap bubble. He turned his head and with difficulty focussed on the uniformed nurse
at his side, relief flooding through his veins. He honestly thought that for a moment he was back in his neighbourhood with
the four attackers still pointing their guns at him and he sighed in relief.
am I?’ he asked in a rasping voice that indicated he’d been out for some time.
the base hospital. You’re safe Tom, try not to worry. You were lucky your neighbour found you outside your apartment
and phoned it in. The ambulance picked you up, saw the uniform and your tags and brought you here. You lost a fair amount
of blood, but we’re dealing with that and you’ve had surgery to remove the bullet from your shoulder. What do
were four….I saw ‘em….they had guns. They shouted, I tried to fight ‘em off and……boom.
I tried to get home. Must’ve passed out……shit!’ he whispered, the memories intensifying the pains.
sorry Major. I shouldn’t have asked, it’s too early. Just try to rest. You’re safe. We have armed guards
on the door. You’re gonna be fine’.
listened to the calm voice and basked for a moment in the warmth and the feeling of security. It had been a tough few months,
but it was nearing an end.
were brought in last evening. You’ve been unconscious for about 15 hours, but we have you stabilised now. The doctor
is on his way to see you with Colonel Whitehead. They have more answers for you. Just try to relax. We’ve given you
pain meds, so you’ll probably just want to sleep’ the nurse advised.
wanna sleep. Wanna get outa here’ Traff gasped as he tried to move to get out of the bed. The woman grinned at him and
put a restraining hand on his arm.
I thought you’d want me for my body Tom. I’m hurt you want to leave so soon, but it doesn’t surprise me,
you always were the world’s worst patient. Lie back. I know moving is gonna hurt so let that be a lesson to you Major.
Look, your CO is here now. Ring if you need anything’. The nurse pushed the call button into his hand and left as two
men walked over to his bed.
that he was awake, Traff looked around as much as he could do from his horizontal position. He was in a large single bedded
room decorated with white walls and a single picture of a countryside scene above a small chest of drawers. A large window
allowed the morning light to flood in and was partially shielded by a plain green blind. Typical army hospital room, but at
least his rank allowed him the luxury of privacy. He tried to sit up a little in the bed, but his left arm and shoulder were
heavily bandaged and the movement did nothing other than cause a knife like stabbing pain in his wound. Two drip bags hung
from the stand by the bed, one with a bag of scarlet blood, another with some clear fluid. Fortunately there was no other
machinery and for that he was thankful. From bitter experience he knew the more machinery around the bed, the longer he’d
have to stay put.
doctor came to stand at the side of his bed while his CO, Colonel Whitehead remained hovering at the foot. Whitehead and Traff
were close having worked as part of the same unit for at least 9 years. As close as a CO and his soldier could be and Traff
knew the big ginger haired man hated sickness or anything to do with hospitals - they made him nervous and edgy. The burly
guy looked distinctly uncomfortable and grasped his cap in front of him, screwing it round and round as he looked at the drip,
the oxygen and then back at this friend. Traff smiled weakly at him and then turned his attention to the medic at his side.
doctor checked his charts, pulled the dressings away from the wound to peer at it and then checked Traff’s pulse.
a lucky man Major’ he finally concluded. ‘If the bullet had been two inches lower, we’d have been planning
a funeral right now’.
feel particularly lucky’ Traff grunted. ‘When can I leave Sir? I got stuff to do’.
won’t be getting out of bed any time soon. And after that…..Colonel Whitehead will be talking to you about that.
We’ve given you two units of blood and there’s another pint of the good stuff on its way. And I’ve removed
the bullet. A nice neat .22, so that scar won’t be particularly impressive, I’m sorry to say. But it’ll
sit nicely with the others I’m sure’ the doctor grinned at the “in” joke – chicks always went
for scars and soldiers liked to collect them, however minor. ‘Unless there’s anything of pressing urgency that
you want to ask, I’ll leave you in the company of Colonel Whitehead. He has news for you’ the medic turned to
the Colonel. ‘Don’t tire him Matt, or I’ll have your guts for garters. He has a lot of healing to do’.
grinned at the departing back and then hooked a chair up to the side of the bed and sat down.
ya doin’?’ he asked.
just woke up with a shoulder full of hole. How d’ya think I feel? I want to get outa here and nail those flakes Matt.
I need to. They think they can intimidate me like this, but they won’t stop me’.
know, and in your position I’d feel the same way, but you’re not Superman Traff. You aint goin’ nowhere
other than to a safe house till the trial. We need to keep you safe and we can’t do it here. It’s too open, too
public. We need somewhere away from everything. Somewhere defensible, where you can….’
‘em coming. Yeah, I know the drill, but I don’t want ‘em thinking I’m on the run Matt. I’m gonna
nail those bastards if it’s the last thing I do’.
know. They um….they left this pinned to your shirt’ the Colonel said quietly, smoothing out a crumpled, blood
stained piece of paper and holding it out for Traff to read. The thick black lettering was neat and uniform, as though it
had been stencilled.
IS A WARNING
GIVE EVIDENCE IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE
NEXT TIME WILL BE FOR REAL
turn of phrase they got’ Traff grunted. ‘But they don’t know me as well as they think. It’ll take
more’n that to stop me. I’m givin’ evidence whatever they think’.
you will, but you’ll never make it to the trial if we don’t do somethin’ to protect you. Just let us get
you to a safe house and give you some protection’.
watching us all the time, they must be to take me when they did. How’re ya gonna get me protection huh? I’m no
shrinkin’ violet. I don’t need to hide behind anyone’. Traff’s voice rose in anger, but at the same
time the blazing emerald eyes showed pain and there was a distinct hitch in the voice. The soldier was tiring fast and Whitehead
saw the signs.
it help if I could get ya someone you know and trust? Someone who was used to keeping witnesses safe? Someone who knew the
score’ he asked.
who?’ Traff battled to keep awake, but his eyelids felt like lead and a deep ache had started up in his shoulder so
that he gritted his teeth against it, his breath coming in shallow gasps as he tried desperately to control it. Shit he hated
this. He hated not being in control over his own life and he hated even more the fact that he had to rely on someone else
for his safety. That was his job, surely. He was the career soldier. He was the one who had the country’s safety as
his number one concern. His country shouldn’t have to worry about him. Damn.
if from a distance, he heard Whitehead’s voice telling him to relax and take it easy and next, the nurse’s voice
was back. He felt a bee sting scratch on his upper arm and then the warm, fuzzy, slightly disconcerting feeling of the morphine
taking effect, making him dizzy and sending him away to pain free oblivion for a while, whilst others dealt with his business.
Matt Whitehead watched as his friend succumbed to the mind clouding, soporific effects of the drug. Slowly Traff’s eyes
closed and his body relaxed against the mattress. This sucked. He hated seeing the usually vital man injured like this. And
for what? It wasn’t as though Traff had been on some dangerous mission in a foreign country. This injury seemed so pointless,
waited a little while longer until he was sure Traff was well and truly asleep, and then tiptoed from the room, returning
the salute the two armed guards at the door flipped him. The sentries went back to their duties, rifles resting across their
knees as they sat either side of the doorway. As the nurse and Whitehead left the room, a third soldier entered and took up
a seat by the window. Looking back, Whitehead assured himself that for the time being the handsome soldier was safe. Jamming
his cap back onto his head, he walked purposefully back to his office across the other side of the base and into the snug
room. As he passed his secretary sitting at her desk, he put a piece of paper in front of her.
me that number and then hold any calls’ he grunted as he went into his room. He heard her busy herself with the telephone
and a moment later his own handset rang. Picking up, he heard the familiar voice at the other end of the phone.
Dobey’ he said carefully. ‘It’s Colonel Whitehead over at the 8th Battalion. I wonder if we might talk.’
then she said to me that I didn’t care about her any more and I should take her home’. Starsky stared morosely
out of the dusty windshield of the car as Hutch sat next to him sipping a cup of coffee.
what did ya do?’
my tongue in her ear, groped her boob and tried to get inside her pants. What would you do?’
that’s how you got the shiner is it? The blond asked, snorting into his drink. The brunet had turned up for their shift
staking out the home of one Ritchie Frankland sporting a bruised left eye and a black mood.
can ya believe that?’
know you’re trouble Starsk?’
you’re gonna tell me’.
huh. No finesse. You should wine and dine a lady. Take her to a candle lit restaurant, its more whispers, cuddles and seduction
rather than poke, grope and bungle.
grope and…..hey, who d’ya think I am. I can seduce a lady. It’s just that Barbara aint much of a lady’
the brunet said sadly. ‘I know what I want, I’m just not sure she does. I want moonlight an……’
three, zebra three, tac two for Captain Dobey’ the disembodied voice spoke out of the microphone on the dashboard.
by the bell’ Hutch grinned as he reached for the mic. and took it from the hook.
is Zebra three’.
the gruff voice sounded over the airwaves. ‘Get your butts back down to the Metro as soon as huh? Got a different job
for ya. One ya might prefer’.
snatched the mic from his partner’s hands. It was a well known fact that he hated the sitting and waiting games. As
he’d observed more than once, he’d done enough waiting around in the army. He flipped the button. ‘More
enjoyable than sitting on our rear ends for eight days straight going slowly nuts? What the hell could be better than that?’
it Starsky. It’s more rear end sittin’ but this time different location and different mark’.
grabbed the mic back and scowled at the brunet who was still muttering curse words under his breath. It never failed to impress
Hutch that his partner could carry on for 5 minutes or so without ever drawing breath and without using the same curse twice.
‘We’ll be right there Cap’n’ he said blandly into the mic. and closed it down. ‘Starsk, d’ya
really want to piss off every human being within a mile’s radius? Just coz you an’ your lady aren’t hitting
it off right now it doesn’t mean you have to take it out on every other poor sod in the vicinity’.
the curly haired man said petulantly and Hutch was reminded of a little boy being told off by his Dad. ‘I just…..is
this what bein’ a cop is all about? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I joined BCPD for excitement, not sittin’
in your crummy apology for a car starin’ at a brick wall in the hope some flake makes an appearance’.
getting’ shot full of poison wasn’t excitin’ enough? Hutch asked as he started the car up.
that was just freaky’.
the bomb in the car? Ya can’t tell me it wasn’t exciting driving through the city sittin’ on a live, ticking
bomb. Jeez buddy. As I remember it you barely got out of it before it blew’.
it was a crummy car. It was an old fashioned saloon and’ the brunet snorted at the memory ‘It was dark green!
It was almost as crummy as yours’.
that there was no way he was going to win this round, the blond lapsed into silence and concentrated on driving.
which whippo we’re gonna be watchin’ now. I could bring Monopoly. I’ve probably got time to read War and
Peace and then critique it’.
flaxen eyebrows rose over crystal blue eyes.
said critique. Where d’ya get that one from?’
chuckled. ‘Might not be able to get into Barbara’s pants, but sumthin must’ve rubbed off. She’s is
a teacher when all said an’ done’.
that’s the problem then’ Hutch said mildly ‘her bein’ a teacher’.
the brunet growled.
I always knew you’d never got past grade school’ the blond finished as he pulled up outside the Metro. He ducked
out of the car just as Starsky started his next round of cursing and reluctantly the sable haired cop followed his partner
into the building and along to Dobey’s office.
stopped in at the squad room to grab a quick coffee and Starsky was just beginning to rifle through the papers on his desk
when the connecting door opened and Dobey’s face peered through.
I told you I wanted you both back here as soon as’ the black man grunted.
right on it Cap’n’ Hutch said smoothly, grabbing his cup from the desk. As Starsky picked his up too they followed
their boss into the inner sanctum and sat down in front of the big wooden desk. They looked at their Captain expectantly.
Dobey shuffled the papers and then put them down and steepled his hands.
been asked to provide some cover for a State witness. He needs minding’ he said slowly watching the scowl on the brunet’s
face deepen. ‘And before you start bawlin’ out at me Starsky I think you ought to listen up’.
Ya gonna do the big sell on us Cap’n? It’s mindless. It never comes to anythin’ you know that, an’
half these flakes are as bad as the goons they’re supposed to be giving evidence against. I aint doin’ it. Give
it to someone else. One of the newbies maybe’.
will you shudup for just one minute? This witness asked for you an’ Hutch, or at least his CO did. Won’t trust
anyone else, it’s too important’ Dobey interrupted.
CO? What the….’
Traff, Starsky. Traff is the witness’.
brunet looked stunned. ‘I don’t understand. What’s Traff need a minder for? He can take care of himself
better ‘n almost anyone I know. I’d like to see someone try to get to him. He’d make mincemeat out of ‘em’.
this time’ Dobey said.
happened Cap?’ Hutch asked, sitting forward on his seat.
had a phone call from Colonel Whitehead, Major Trafford’s CO. Seems the Major has been advising the Government on armaments
and some bomb disposal techniques. Somehow, somewhere along the line a group calling themselves Arms Over Frontiers became
involved in arms dealing over the border between Mexico and the US. The main players were arrested and the Major is the state’s
expert witness at the trial. Seems without his expertise, the trial is likely to be aborted. The AOF have been looking for
him for weeks. He’s had some death threats sent to the 8th Battalion which he’s chosen to ignore. Then two days
ago the group caught up with him near his apartment’.
shot him and left him with a note pinned to him warning him to take them seriously and not to give evidence. He’s in
the base hospital now with a 24 hour armed guard, but they want him out of there. They have a safe house lined up in the mountains,
but at first it seems he wasn’t for going’.
snorted. ‘Sounds like Traff’.
huh. Almost as stubborn as some cops I know’ Dobey chuckled. ‘Anyhow, they finally convinced him he needed to
be out of there and that he needed backup’.
don’t the army provide it? Hutch asked. ‘I mean, there’s no way I’m gonna refuse to do this, but it
does beg the question’.
what I asked too. Seems they suspect that there’s a mole at the battalion and they’ve leaked information about
the trial and Traff whereabouts. They can’t chance Traff’s life and he’s injured so he can’t protect
himself right now. So…’
where we come in. When, where?’ Starsky asked immediately.
sighed. ‘I can’t release both of you. We’re too busy here and I still need a man on Ritchie Frankland. It’s
up to you who goes, but the other stops here and keeps on with the stakeout. Whichever of you goes with Traff will be backed
up with one trusted soldier hand picked by Whitehead’.
no. Think again Cap. We both go. Don’t “partners” mean anythin’ anymore? Traff’s done stuff
for this department before now. We owe him. He needs us both there’ Starsky argued.
that’s something I can’t give him. I have it worked out with Whitehead. You’re both gonna see him at the
hospital tonight, then tomorrow, whichever of you wants is gonna be with him when they transport him up to the safe house.
The location will be known to Whitehead, me, the two of you and to Traff and his soldier minder. The trial is in two weeks
time and during that time, you’ll be with him night an’ day. Got that?’
brunet scowled even harder and sighed deeply. ‘Loud an’ clear Cap’n, but I don’t like it. We work
best together an’ If I’m up there an’ Hutch is down here it…..well, it don’t feel right’.
right Cap’n. We work better together than we do alone. We proved that before’ Hutch joined in. ‘You gotta
did. An’ my orders stand. I can’t afford for the both of you to be away an’ anyway there’s the army
backup. I take it you’ll be going?’ he looked at the curly haired cop for confirmation. Starsky nodded his head.
I’ll be there’.
This is the location. Memorise it, both of you. Now you’re visiting him at 5:30 tonight and tomorrow morning you Starsky
will be back at the Army base for 5:30am. They’ll have the ambulance ready by then. You have tonight to get your stuff
two men looked distinctly uncomfortable and Dobey gazed back at them. ‘That’s all. You have your orders, now go’
he said, picking up the file in front of him and going back to reading it. ‘And don’t’ slam the….’
duo headed for the door and Starsky slammed it closed, registering his disapproval.
Dobey finished with a chuckle.
they headed back to Starsky’s place for the brunet to pack, Hutch tried to look on the right side of them being separated.
‘At least you won’t have to water my plants’ he offered.
always say I kill ‘em anyhow’.
know, so this time I won’t be accusin’ you of murder’ the blond agreed.
you murder a plant? I thought homicide was from “hom” meanin’ “man”. They aren’t people
Blintz. Wouldn’t it be…..dunno, planticide or sumthin. Maybe flowercide or assault with a deadly fern?’
weird, you know that don’t ya Starsk? Just….weird’.
know. But ya love me anyway’ the brunet grinned, his anger at his captain temporarily forgotten.
hours later, and with the brunet’s bag packed and ready back at his apartment, the two men passed through the security
checkpoint at the 8th Battalion and parked outside the hospital block there. With directions from the soldier on duty, they
were sent down a long, impersonal and antiseptic smelling corridor and through a door on the right. Two soldiers snapped to
attention as they approached and Starsky held out the pass they’d been given as proof they were allowed to be there.
As they walked in, a hand lifted the phone and punched in a number.
has visitors. Be prepared to follow them afterwards. The dark haired one is a cop and a close friend. The blond one is his
partner. And be careful. They’ll be wary. Keep your distance’. The hand replaced the phone and the body turned
Starsky pushed the door to Traff’s room open and walked in, his partner at his heels. The soldier inside also checked
their credentials and then left the room, closing the door softly behind him. The room was darkened, the blind having been
pulled down over the window and the room was softly lit by the diffused light from the blind and a small lamp lit above the
bed. On the single bed, Traff lay asleep, drips still feeding fluid into the back of his right hand, his left shoulder heavily
bandaged. That was the only outward sign that anything was wrong until they got closer to the bed. Once by the bedside, however,
the two could see that the soldier was having a hard time of it and his head was tossing restlessly on the pillow. Traff’s
lips moved silently as though he was deep in conversation with someone and heat radiated from the lithe muscular body.
Starsky reached out a hand and laid it on his friend’s right shoulder, leaning over the bed.
Hey Tommy boy, wakey wakey, ya got visitors’.
voice seemed to penetrate the dream and Traff let out a small cry then gritted his teeth, his jaw muscles working as his eyes
flashed open. For a moment, they remained unfocussed and danced around the room, but slowly they came to rest on the two cops
and a weak smile flashed across the handsome features.
t’see ya’ he rasped, his voice rough and raw.
Traff, what did they do to you Pal?’ Starsky asked, shocked at the pain lines etched deep into his old army buddy’s
a hole where a hole don’t belong. Glad you’re both here’. The soldier looked weary and his eyes narrowed
as more pain assailed his senses.
need the nurse buddy?’ Hutch asked, seeing the signs of pain.
m’good. They gave me this button thing for morphine’.
it workin’?’ Starsky asked, staring at the offending button.
Didn’t use it’.
shit buddy. It aint no use bein’ a hero. Take the pain meds before ya crease up some more’.
eyes fixed on the sapphire ones above him. ‘Will do, now you’re here. Couldn’t relax b’fore. Don’t
know who to trust’ Traff gasped. Sweat beaded on his brow and Hutch took a cloth from the nightstand and wiped the trickles
rest now huh? Take the morphine before you pass out on us and relax. We’re not goin’ anywhere an’ Starsk’ll
be coming with ya tomorrow.
You comin’ Chief? Thank God. If I couldn’t have both of ya, half of the dynamic duo is good. Fell like I can…..’
the eyes closed mid sentence as the powerful pain killer took its effect and at the side of the bed Starsky snorted softly.
my boy. Great outa the traps but absolutely no stayin’ power’.
as the two cops settled down to watch over their friend, the hand made another phone call to deliver the latest news.
and Hutch both settled down to wait by the side of their friend. Now that Traff seemed to realise he was safe, the soldier
relaxed and within moments was sound asleep. In the dimly lit room, neither cop spoke, instead sitting and waiting in silence
until Traff was once again awake, but they were concerned at the shape the soldier was in. The dressing on his shoulder wound
covered a large part of the top of his chest too, but beneath it, it was evident that their friend had lost weight and the
appearance was also highlighted by the dark circles round the usually vibrant eyes and the slightly pinched look on his face.
Whatever had gone on with the curly haired soldier, it had obviously been a worry for some time.
about 8:30 an orderly appeared at the door of the room, was checked by the guards outside and entered with a tray bearing
syringes and drugs. He nodded to the two men, went about his business as he checked blood pressure, temperature, respiration
rates and gave the drugs then packed up and paused at the door.
Sirs. Regulations are that there should be no visitors after 8:00. It’s already almost 8:40. You need to go’ he
said apologetically. Traff was one of the most popular officers on the base and it had affected most of the staff there deeply
when he’d been shot.
uh. We aren’t leavin’ him. We’ve been detailed to guard him an’ that’s what we’re doin’
Starsky said firmly as Hutch nodded in the background.
I don’t know….’
brunet stood up, drawing himself up straight and squaring his shouldres. Hutch grinned to himself in the background. Showtime!
know I don’t have the pips on my shoulder today Private, but I did carry the rank of Major. If you need to, go get confirmation,
but in the meantime, don’t question me and don’t wake the patient’ Starsky snapped.
orderly looked shocked and snapped immediately to attention. ‘Sorry Sir, I didn’t realise’. The man backed
out of the room and the curly haired cop heard a muffled snort behind him. He turned and saw Hutch grinning broadly. ‘What?’
buddy. I just love it on the odd occasion that your rank spills out. It’s like a whole different you.'
Well I don’t like to flaunt it, but it comes in useful occasionally’ Starsky grinned back as he came to sit back
by the bed. The conversation and the procedures had awaked the soldier again and he grunted from the bed.
did like that I made major before he did. Bet he bawls out all the minions when he gets a chance’.
huh, like I’ll bawl you out if ya don’t get some rest. How’re ya doin’ buddy?’
till that goon woke me up. Shouldn’t you be gone by now? Traff asked.
leavin’ you. If ya won’t sleep when we aren’t here, then we stay’.
good, but I thought only one of you was comin’ with me’.
that’d be me’ Starsky said quickly.
The solider turned to look at Hutch who held his hand up.
I know when I’m not wanted’ he smiled. ‘And I need to be back. The great Ritchie Frankland awaits tomorrow
an’ the way I’m goin’ he’d be able to plant a nuclear bomb and I wouldn’t notice’. He
got up, stretched and walked to the door, pausing as he got there. He turned and fumbled in his pocket.
know how exciting it’s gonna be for you both at the safe house. All those wild parties you’ll be throwing, so
I thought you might appreciate these’ he threw a small rectangular package to the brunet who caught it left handed.
‘Just remember while you're droolin' over the pictures, I’ll be enjoyin’ the real thing. Take care both
of ya’ Hutch suddenly turned serious. ‘I’ll phone each night at around 6:00, just to check on you, ok?’
he said as he flipped the two men a wave and walked away.
he given ya?’ Traff asked as he watched the big blond back depart.
brunet unwrapped the parcel and snickered, throwing the contents on the bed. Traff reached out and picked them up. ‘Well
that’s gonna make me feel better’ he said and started the rifle through the contents of the Playboy playing cards.
‘Jeez, Dirty Delia….wouldn’t mind spending some time with her. Ya seen the size of those assets?’
was also going through the deck. ‘Can’t made my mind up, there’s three here. Magnificent Maureen looks pretty
good, look’ he showed the card showing a beautiful blond to the soldier who picked up the other two cards he’d
been show. Dammit Janet and Naughty Nelleke look hot too, an' as for Amorous Angie!. Ya think we’re actually gonna be
able to get through a game without a cold shower?’
your condition buddy, they’re mine, all mine’ the brunet snorted. ‘Now go back to sleep. I’ll be here.
Not goin’ anywhere so just rest’.
soldier rested his head back on the pillow, his eyes already heavy with sleep. ‘Thanks Curly. Just like old times huh?’
the brunet could answer, he was asleep.
made his quiet way from the hospital wing of the base and got back into his car. As he got into the vehicle he thought he
heard footfalls on the gravel walkway behind him and turned, expecting one of the soldiers on the base to challenge him, or
ask his why he was there. He peered into the darkness and for a brief moment thought he saw a dark shape against the darkness
and what appeared to be a shape ducking down the dark alley between the hospital wing and another building. He walked to the
corner of the building and peered into the gloom but saw nothing and shrugging his shoulders headed back to the car. All this
talk of high level trials, flakes taking shots at his friends and the secrecy of the safe house had left him feeling edgy
and what he really needed was a cold beer and some friendly conversation.
the car in motion, he drove out of the base and along the quiet country road back towards town. Instead of going straight
home he headed for the Pits, feeling the absence of his partner keenly. At times like this he liked to go and have a fix of
Huggy’s brand of companionship and so he parked at the back of the bar and pushed his way into the warm, smoky public
as always was dressed in his usual flamboyant clothes, this time sporting bright red dungarees, a canary yellow shirt and
topped off by a red and yellow checked peeked cap. He looked up as the blond walked in a smiled revealing even white teeth.
Hutch my man. What can the Bear do for you tonight?’
beer and some company Hug, nothing more’.
the curly one? Aint he home tonight? Or is he entertaining the delectable Barbara?’
grinned. ‘I think she proved more of a handful than even Starsk could handle. He’s on a job, one that don’t
require the two of us’.
One beer coming up’. Huggy poured a cold one and handed it to the cop, waving away the money Hutch proffered. ‘On
the house. You look like ya need it. Sumthin ya want to divulge to a ready ear?’
really. Its just….remember Tom Trafford, Starsky’s buddy from the army?’
got shot up some an’ we’ve just been to see him. I hate seein’ a guy in a hospital bed’.
that’s never good news. Here, let me serve my paying customers, and then we can go upstairs for some privacy’.
He walked further down the bar to the man who had come into the bar just after Hutch, served him with an orange juice and
took the money. As the flaxen haired cop followed Huggy upstairs to the small room at the top of the building, the customer’s
eyes followed them. As the duo disappeared from sight, the customer rose, left his drink untouched on the bar and left.
hour later, and with two beers under his belt and several jokes shared with the black barman, Hutch came back down the stairs,
got into his car and drive home. As he reached Venice Place and drew up in his customary position right outside the door,
under the canopy reading Chez Helene, he thought he saw a car behind him swerve suddenly and disappear down the street at
the side of his block. He thought it was odd as the street was a dead end, opening out into the park he usually ran round
each morning. Crazy flake. He’ll be racin’ back up here in a minute and looking for the right road. But
the car didn’t reappear and once again hutch had the impression that someone was following him. He drew his gun and
walked to the corner, peering around it. He saw nothing and feeling stupid pocketed his weapon and walked back to his front
door and up the steps. He pushed into his apartment, shouldered out of his holster and hung it behind the door before going
into his bathroom and turning on the shower.
later, and with the shower water running noisily, Hutch stood with his hands braced against the wall as he let the soothing
water cascade over his sun bronzed shoulders. It felt good and he could almost see the tension leaving his body and running
away with the water down the drain, but as he reached to turn off the water, he swore he could hear a noise in his living
was too much of a coincidence and he stepped out of the shower quietly, visions of Diana Harmon still fresh in his mind as
he reached for his robe and pulled it on. Opening the door to the bathroom a crack, he looked around, but could see no one
although as he opened the door fully and walked out into the room he could swear that his holster was swinging slightly on
the hook. Racing over to it, he gave it a cursory check – no problems, it seemed undisturbed and the gun was still seated
inside its cradle of leather. Berating himself for behaving like a rookie cop on his first assignment, Hutch dried himself
off and with a final look around his living room, locked the door and got into bed.
sleep wouldn’t come and scenarios ran through his head. What if he had been followed? What if somehow they’d get
to Starsky and Traff? He argued with himself for half an hour or so before finally deciding that the only way to put his mind
at rest would be to ask someone if anything unusual would be going down.
for the phone he knew Dobey wouldn’t be happy about being woken late at night but this was important. He dialled the
number and waited until a sleepy voice answered.
sleepiness in the voice was immediately replaced as Dobey sat up in bed. ‘What? Is anything wrong?’
was gonna ask you the same thing. I’m sorry to wake you Cap, but I came home from the visit and Starsk is still there,
but I‘ve had the feeling all night that I’ve been followed an’ I just can’t shake it. Is there anything
you’ve heard? I just….I…’ Hutch finished lamely wishing he didn’t sound like a frightened schoolboy.
Dobey understood completely. ‘Haven’t heard anythin’. Have you seen anyone? Heard anythin’ yourself,
or this just a feeling?’ he asked.
blew out his cheeks. Well that was the big question. Was he having histrionics? Was he behaving like a rookie? His mind told
him he was, but his cop senses, the ones he’d learned to trust over the years told him something different. He hesitated.
‘To be honest? Dunno. I guess it’s just a feelin’ but it’s a strong one. I guess I….I’m
sorry I woke ya’ he apologised.
ok. Just lock your door an’ keep your wits about you huh? And Hutchinson….you did right to call’.
blond heard the telephone go down and he sighed. Damn, he didn’t want Dobey to think he bottled out. He got up and padded
out into his living room, checked the door again and on his way past, took his gun from its holster. As he got back into bed,
he tucked the weapon under his pillow and snuggled his head down. Finally, an hour later, he managed to drift into a dark
and restless sleep.
next morning, Starsky woke stiffly his back complaining painfully about the night he’d spent in the chair by Traff’s
bed. He got up with a quiet groan and stood by the window, stretching his arms above his head until his tee shirt rode up
and showed an expanse of toned tanned midriff. Completing his stretching routine with some deep breaths and some circular
motions to ease the kinks out of his left shoulder he looked back at his charge. Starsky's shoulder always seemed stiff. One
of the legacies of the rainy night when he’d preferred linguini with clams to the offer of scrambled eggs at Hutch’s
place. He smiled at the distant memory. Even after 3 years he could still hear Hutch’s low voice Easy partner, take
it easy as he sweated his way through the painful night until he’d heard Hutch’s gunshots signalling that
it was all over.
now Traff’s shoulder was bound up in bright white bandages, just the same as his had been and he could sympathise with
the soldier for the pain he was going through. He never realised quite what movements a shoulder did until he’d been
shot in his upper chest. Afterwards it seemed that even breathing seemed to take on a new sadistic turn and as for turning
his head? That was an enormous no no right from the start.
early morning was quiet in the base hospital , the usual din of bedpans, trolleys and voices not yet having started and outside
the dawn chorus was just beginning. Peach and shell pink stripes lined the horizon of the morning sky chasing the dark away
and as he looked back at the bed, Starsky saw the first signs of movement from his friend. He crossed the room and stood on
Traff’s left side as the soldier opened his pain clouded eyes.
buddy. Don’t move too quick, it’ll hurt like the devil’ he advised.
gave a soft snicker. ‘Already does Chief, but what’s new? Are we ready for the big adventure today? Off into the
wild blue yonder?’
huh. Just what we need. Roughin’ it in some godforsaken neck of the woods with no Deli, no burritos and no beer for
miles. Not to mention no chicks. The things I do for you huh?’ the brunet smiled affectionately.
touhced, truly I am.'
snickered. 'Nah, it's me that's touched - in the head for swappin' easy living for good old Mother Nature!'
two sat chatting companionably for a while until the same orderly as the previous evening brought two trays with breakfast.
For Starsky there was a stack of pancakes, eggs, toast and a pot of coffee. Traff stared balefully at the small bowl of oatmeal
and the tiny glass of orange juice on his own tray.
tryin’ to kill me’ he said mournfully as he watched the cop tuck into the first of the pancakes.
tryin’ to make you better. You aint eaten anythin’ for three days. Your’ stomach’s not gonna be happy
if you ram this down it’.
stomach’s shrivelled away to nuthin. It’s sulkin’ at me already….thinks I’m neglectin’
looked over his shoulder, then forked a pancake laden with syrup onto his friend’s plate. ‘Here, an’ don’t
tell the orderly. He looks like he was half brothers with Mohammed Ali an’ I aint up to fightin’ with him’.
Traff smiled and poked at the pancake appreciatively. Two forkfuls later, however, his rebellious stomach told him enough
was enough, but at least he felt full, and for the first time in a while, relaxed.
Traff had got some solid food inside him and after the doctor had been to check on his wound and give him the all clear to
travel, Colonel Whitehead reappeared at the door and walked in.
how’re ya doin’ there? You’ll be off this morning then. And um….Major….um….Mr…..’
fine Sir’ the brunet smiled at the man stumbling over what to call him.
I just wanted to say thanks for this. I….we appreciate it. And of course, I won’t be letting you
two go alone. I have the backup I promised you. New to the base, but a Captain nonetheless. From the 19th further up the coast.
Captain Hadley. You’ll enjoy their company I’m sure’ the Colonel smirked.
backup’s fine Colonel, but we don’t need it. I can handle it’ Starsky began to say as a woman in full army
uniform walked into the room.
snorted. ‘May I introduce Captain Marion Hadley? Captain Hadley is a weapons specialist and combat instructor. I’m
sure you three will get along just fine. I’ll be leaving now. The ambulance will be here shortly. Take care and Tom,..…be
well huh? See you at the trial’.
Colonel left the room, leaving the two men staring appreciatively at Captain Hadley. The girl was almost as tall as Starsky,
standing at maybe 5’9”. With her blond hair tied back in regulation fashion it was difficult to see properly,
but it seemed to be long and the fatigue pants fitted her slim hips perfectly, accentuating long legs and tiny waist. She
wore her jacket unbuttoned showing black tee shirt fitting snugly over firm breasts. Her face was a blank canvass. She neither
smiled nor frowned, but her eyes appraised the two men with something akin to disdain.
was immediately on his feet. He came towards her, hand outstretched. ‘Um….Dave. Dave Starsky. Pleased to meet
Hadley’ the woman said coldly. She took the brunet’s hand and shook it, but there was no warmth in her eyes and
no hint that she was anything other than bored with the idea of spending time with the two men.
um. Right……well, this is Major Trafford….Traff’ the cop went on, slightly phased by the woman’s
demeanour. Jeez there was cold and there was sub zero!
girl snapped to attention and flipped a perfect salute towards the bed. ‘Sir’ she said.
ease soldier’ Traff told her, slightly amused by her attitude. ‘We’re gonna be working pretty closely for
a while. Let’s cut the rank huh. That’s Starsky, I’m Traff and you’re….?’
sighed and some of the tension left her body. ‘Marion’ she said, although Traff could see the “Captain Hadley”
lingering on her lips.
Marion. We cut the salutin’ and stuff. It’s gonna be uncomfortable enough up there without added pressures’.
Traff grimaced in pain. ‘An’ I aint in a position for salutin’ back right now. So we’re informal?’
that’s what you want Sir’ she said stiffly
soldier sighed. ‘It is, an’ it’s Traff, not Sir. Got it?’
nodded and a moment later two orderlies appeared. ‘Ready Sirs and Ma’am? The ambulance is here’.
Traff started to get out of the bed, Starsky helped and the orderlies managed to get the soldier into a wheelchair. It wasn’t
that he couldn’t walk so much as he was weak from the blood loss and sore and movements cost him a lot of energy. In
the midst of the work, Marion disappeared. The wheelchair was wheeled down to an unmarked ambulance and with Starsky’s
help, Traff managed to get himself into the back and led down on the blue blanketed gurney. As the orderlies strapped the
safety bets around him Marion reappeared at the door of the vehicle.
looked at the dim interior, the windows having been blacked out as an added security measure and her face registered surprise.
um…I’ll ride up front with the driver’ she said, backing away slightly.
ride in here with us’ Starsky said firmly. ‘The driver is armed and he has an armed escort. They don’t want
anyone else swimming in their soup right now. Get in and sit down’.
looked at him in surprise. What she’d taken for a slightly dorky Romeo inside was now transformed into a steely eyed
bodyguard. Starsky’s eyes flitted left and right, constantly surveying the surroundings as he supervised his friend
being loaded into the ambulance. His body was relaxed but alert, and she belatedly saw the Smith and Wesson held in his left
hand. Swiftly she reappraised him. This wasn’t some half-witted oaf along for the ride. This was a cop who knew his
trade well and meant business.
um….I get claustrophobic’ she blustered, backing away still further.
panther-like grace, Starsky snagged her right arm and pulled her towards the ambulance. ‘You should’ve thought
of that before you took the assignment’ he hissed and pushed her bodily into the vehicle, stepping in behind her and
closing the door. As she sat down on the opposite side of the ambulance from Traff, the brunet rapped smartly on the connecting
wall to the driver’s cab and the three passengers felt the vehicle surge forward.
journey took them almost four hours and for the most part, the roads twisted and turned and they had the impression of them
getting higher. The road was rough and the jolting of the wheels took its toll on the dark haired soldier. Traff gritted his
teeth as his body swayed along in the back of the ambulance, but with each successive pot hole or corner, the pains got worse
until he was sweating and finding it almost impossible to stifle the groans as his injury was jolted again. Starsky sat by
his side, hand resting on his hip.
be much further now buddy. Just hang in there huh? You’re doin’ great’.
didn’t they pick a safe house on the beach huh?’ Traff grunted through gritted teeth.
that’d have been good. Sea breezes, miles of white sand, serious work on a good tan. What d’you say Marion? Wouldn’t
you have preferred a bikini to full uniform?’
looked disdainfully. ‘This is a job. I’m not here to enjoy myself. Where are we going anyhow?’
two men looked warily at each other. Only five people knew the location of the safe house. Traff and Starsky, Hutch and the
driver and escort. It was safer that way and they knew there had been a long debate about whether their cover – Captain
Hadley - needed to know or not. After long debates it was decided that it was sufficient for her to be there without her knowing
where “there” was.
going away from it all. That’s all you need to know’ Starsky said carefully.
who are you to tell me what I need to know? Why did the army have to bring in an outsider anyway?’ she asked testily
he’s one of only two men I trust an’ he aint an outsider. He was army too. Major Starsky if you must know ranks.
Is that good enough for ya Captain?’ Traff snapped. The pains in his body left his temper short. ‘And him an’
me have been through more shit than you’ll ever know. So can it. You’re here, you do your job and we all get through
nodded and relapsed into silence, although several times Starsky caught her looking at him. He wasn’t vain enough to
thing she was looking at him with anything other than distaste and he wondered what experience had made her so anti brunet.
He continued his ruminations for some time until the ambulance slowed and finally stopped. Starsky tensed, his hand once again
on his gun as he heard the driver open his door and then close it again. And then there was a pre-arranged knock on the back
of the vehicle and he opened the back doors.
was met by the sight of trees, trees and yet more trees as the woods crowded in around him. Great, just about his least favourite
place on earth! But the air was cool and fresh and there was the scent of pine needles carried on the light breeze that ruffled
his sable curls. After hours in the stuffy ambulance, the cool air felt good on his sticky scalp and as he stepped down from
the back of the ambulance, he saw the large wooden cabin nestling in a clearing. With a wave of his hand he told the orderlies
to wait a moment as he and Marion searched the perimeter of the clearing. Seeing nothing untoward, he was just about to nod
to the ambulance driver that they could help Traff out when he heard the sound of a car engine coming their way. Swiftly,
the ambulance doors closed and the driver and escort drew their P60s. Starsky darted to the left, his body hidden by a large
tree, his gun drawn and held in both hands, pointing skywards. Across the clearing he could see Marion led on her belly behind
a bush, flat out in classic firing posture. There was an unnatural silence in the clearing as everyone held their breath.
sound of the engine drew closer. Whoever it was certainly wasn’t trying to disguise their approach and as Starsky peeped
out from his hiding place he was relieved to see a familiar mud and rust coloured LTD come into the clearing a pull up. With
a flood of gratitude, he called for Marion to stand down and came out of his hiding, trotting over to the dusty car as it
came to a halt. Hutch got out and the brunet grinned at him.
givin’ me a heart attack Blintz, but I guess it’s good practice for if anyone did come around to visit. Why are
ya here? I thought Dobey wanted you out by Richie Frankland’.
get everyone inside ad I’ll tell you the score then’.
Marion and the escort went inside to check out the cabin while Starsky walked to the back of the ambulance and opened it.
Inside, Traff looked rattled.
goin’ on?’ he asked as his friend walked in and started to unbuckle the straps round his gurney.
though we had company, but it turned out to be Blondie come to pay us a surprise visit’ the brunet explained.
Hutch is here? Great!’ Traff struggled to get off the gurney and allowed Starsky to help him out of the ambulance. He
stood swaying as he surveyed the surroundings with satisfaction. ‘Who needs the beach when ya have all this?’
he said. ‘Whitehead did us proud. Who the hell is gonna find us up here in this wilderness?’ And with that, he
staggered into the cabin and allowed his two friends to get him into the bedroom and into the large comfortable queen sized
were three bedrooms in the cabin – more of a house in the woods rather than the rustic Wild West building that Starsky
had been dreading and now the brunet and Hutch helped Traff into the largest of them. At first the soldier objected to the
assistance telling his friends that he was fine and sick of being treated like an invalid. He shrugged off their offers to
help him get out of his robe firmly but politely and so Starsky stood back with a knowing smile on his face as Traff started
to shoulder out of the heavy towelling bathrobe. He got half way before the sudden movements jarred his shoulder and he gasped
and clutched at his wound with his free hand. He swayed, bending over slightly to suck in a deep breath and felt strong hands
round his waist.
that be a lesson to ya Mister “I can do this on my own”. Just let us help huh? We don’t think any less of
ya’ Starsky said as he steered his friend over to the bed. Traff smiled tightly and looked over Starsky’s shoulder
to Hutch who was hovering in the background.
not gonna leave me here with Florence Nightingale are ya? What kind of a friend are ya buddy?’
grinned. ‘I could always call in…..what’s her name?’
knickers’ Traff grunted.
– Full Metal Corset’ Starsky said at the same time.
Take it you guys didn’t exactly hit it off?’
eased Traff into the bed and once he was sure the soldier was comfortable he perched on the edge of the mattress as Hutch
hooked up the small bedside chair and sat down.
was drummed out of the SS for bein’ too friendly’ the brunet said glumly.
only known her for half a day’.
snorted softly. ‘That’s all it takes buddy. She’s a career soldier through an’ through. Not interested
in anythin’ but the next stripe on her arm or pip on her shoulder. Curly here thought he might get a bit of afternoon
delight, but she soon put him right’.
can’t blame a guy for tryin’ Starsky grumbled. ‘Ya seen those legs? They go all the way up to…..an’
her face aint bad either. I’m not givin’ up. The Snow Queen is gonna melt before this assignment is out’.
to take a bet on that Chief?’ Traff asked tiredly. The journey and the exertions of moving from one base to another
had left him more weary than he cared to admit and he wanted nothing more than pain meds and more sleep. But he also didn’t
want to miss Hutch’s visit, which focussed his mind a little.
don’t take this wrong, I think it’s great you’re here buddy, but why are ya here?’ he asked.
the blond’s face lost the smile and became serious. He ran his fingers through his silky flaxen locks and sighed.
you believe I just wanted to say hi?’
a four hour drive in your crummy car and that look on your face, no. Whassup?’ Starsky asked.
off, there’s nothing wrong with my car. It’s functional’.
snickered. ‘Functional, he says. It’s a death trap on wheels, and it gives me a bad back every time I ride in
ignored the comment. ‘And second, since I left the base hospital yesterday I’ve had the impression I’ve
been followed. Nothing definite, just shadows movin’ and last night when I was taking a shower, I felt sure someone
had got into my house’.
you know this how? Are you ok? Did they touch anythin’?’ the brunet quizzed.
nothing specific. Just a feelin’ But you know feelings partner. Sometimes they’re so damned strong you have to
act on ‘em. So I telephoned Dobey’.
you were popular’.
huh. Anyhow. He was as rattled as me. He’s got Markham and Knight on Richie Frankland at the moment and told me to hightail
it up here and warn ya’.
the beginning, yeah, I’m sure I was. Again, nothing I could put my finger on, but I’m absolutely certain I lost
‘em. Dammit I drove here via Nevada more or less’.
Dobey an’ me think it best that if they’re gonna follow anyone it’s better being me than either of you two.
So, while you’re trying to get into Soldier Sally’s pants, I’ll just lead ‘em a merry dance and keep
guys are really sticking your necks out for me’ Traff said tiredly. ‘I didn’t want either of you put in
Us? Nah. Walk in the park buddy’ Hutch smiled. ‘He gets a vacation in these beautiful mountains and I get a vacation
from him. It’s perfect’. He ducked the friendly blow delivered by the brunet and sat back on his chair.
half an hour later, Hutch took his leave of the two men, promising to phone each night at 6 to make sure they were ok. With
a wave from his partner and more promises from both men to be extra careful the blond set off to drive back down the mountain
following the ambulance. Starsky walked back into the cabin and closed the door behind him. He looked at Marion busying herself
packing food away into the cupboards in the large dining kitchen and walked over to lean casually on the small wooden dining
for dinner?’ he asked conversationally.
What are you gonna cook?’ she said frostily.
thought cos I’m a woman I’d do the cooking and cleaning and no doubt look after you two guys in other ways too.
Well think again hotshot’.
sighed. ‘Look, we’re gonna be here a long tome, just the three of us together. Don’t ya think it’d
be better if we tried to get along? I mean, it gets cold enough outside in these mountains at night without it bein’
frosty in here too’.
where exactly are these mountains?’ Marion rounded on him. ‘I volunteered to guard Major Trafford. I volunteered
to lay down my life for a fellow officer and I’m rewarded with no trust and with enough secrecy to guard Fort Knox.
That’s not the way I operate. To be effective I need to know details and so far, I’ve been kept so much in the
dark I’m beginning to feel like a mushroom. I don’t think that’s very fair, do you? Explain it to me. Is
that coz I’m a woman, or because you don’t trust me?’ She slammed another tin into the cupboard and rummaged
angrily in the bag again for the next item.
could feel the anger rising in his chest, but tried to remain calm. ‘Neither. It’s for your own safety lady, and
where do you get off with that attitude? I don’t care whether you’re woman, man or somewhere in the middle. So
long as my buddy Traff remains safe and alive that’s fine by me. All I was saying is….’
you’d like some colourful diversion along the way?’ she sneered, interrupting him.
that for your own safety, and yeah, for Traff’s safety too it was decided that the fewer people who know this location
the better. I just think we ought to try to get along to make the time easier. Now I’ll take my share of the chores,
an’ yeah, I can cook, so long as you don’t mind Mexican. And as for “colourful diversions”, don’t
flatter yourself lady, you aint my type’.
stared at him angrily. ‘What do you mean, not your type? What’s wrong with my type?’
don’t like tall chicks, your legs are too long and your tits are too small’ Starsky yelled, loosing his temper
appeared stunned. She stood, a can of peas in her hand with her mouth open before seemingly gathering her thoughts.
you aren’t my type either, Mister. Wanna know why?’ she snapped.
the brunet grinned and walked back into Traff’s room, leaving the woman spluttering in the kitchen.
drove back down the mountain carefully, constantly checking in his rear view mirror to keep himself satisfied that no one
was out there following him. His nerves had been on edge all the previous night and once the first light of dawn had lit the
morning sky, he’d set off for the safe house. His fears had been confirmed about being watched when he saw a silver
coloured Caddy start to tail him. It was done softly, almost casually and for the first ten minutes, the blond was unsure
whether it wasn’t just his imagination playing tricks on him or whether he really did have a tail. Experimentally he
tried a few deviations from his course, finally taking them down a dead end. When the silver Caddy followed, his fears were
confirmed and from there, he led the company a merry dance before finally flooring his gas pedal and loosing the tail somewhere
around the garment district. Despite driving for maybe 20 miles without seeing another car on the road, Hutch was still so
concerned that he took a further detour of 50 miles before finally heading up the narrow road and up into the mountains.
on his way back down, he felt easier for having seen his partner and friend settled into the safe house. Now all he wanted
was a quiet night and some company and once again he made his way in the gathering gloom of the early evening towards the
pits. Diverting at the last minute, he checked his apartment again and stole a quick shower and a change of clothes. The house
was as he’d left it, slightly untidy and with his customary power shake still in the blender on the countertop. He lifted
the lid and sniffed it cautiously, wincing slightly. Well it wouldn’t last till morning, so he threw it down the drain,
filled the cup with hot water and left, picking up his black leather jacket on the way out.
minutes later saw him pulling up in the alley at the back of the Pits. Both his and Starsky’s cars were well known to
the regular police clientele and more than once Huggy had observed that it wasn’t good for his trade to have them parked
out front. Not that Huggy was crooked, but the odd shady deal did pass his doors, and like a true businessman, if it earned
a buck, he’d take it. And so habitually either the Torino or Hutch’s nondescript heap parked at the back, out
of the way of prying criminal eyes.
got out and walked into the bar and over to the counter. Leaning on it and with one foot balanced on the foot rail, he surveyed
the scene. Tonight was disco night and Huggy’s was buzzing with life and loud music. But disco night was also the one
night of the week that Huggy closed shop early. Or early for him. He aimed to have the bar cleared for 12:00midnight claiming
that even cool cats needed some time off. Hutch looked at his watch. 10:00. he was quite happy to stand and drink until closing
time and after that he could enjoy some conversation with Huggy before calling it a night. Tomorrow was his day off, so no
need to get up early and so long as he phoned Starsky at 6, that was his duty done for the day.
night stretched on and towards midnight, the DJ announced that the last dance was about to be played. Sweet Alice had been
cruising the bar for custom, but there were no takers that night so she and Hutch enjoyed a friendly smooch to the Stylistics
song belting out from the record player. With her pretty blond head resting on his shoulder, Hutch rested his cheek on her
soft curls and closed his eyes. Under different circumstances, he might be tempted by her constant offers, but for tonight
he was happy to cuddle her, hold her tight and enjoy their friendship. As the song came to an end she looked up into his crystal
blue eyes and smiled.
sure I can’t tempt ya Handsome Hutch?’ she murmured.
know I’d love to honey. But you’d never respect me in the morning’ he smiled back. He kissed her softly
on her cheek and sighed quietly as she made her way out of the bar. Tearing his eyes away from her firm rounded assets, he
watched as Huggy professionally got rid of the last stragglers in the bar, locked his door and poured two large glasses of
brandy. With two bottles of beer also tucked under his arm, they made their way upstairs to the private room and sagged down
into the arm chairs by the bed.
day?’ Huggy asked as he watched Hutch sip appreciatively at the brandy.
busy so much as stressful. I went to see Starsk and Taff’.
And how are my two amigos hangin’?’
ok Hug. It’s just a helluva drive up there. The mountains are beautiful at this time of year, but you know Starsk and
anythin’ vaguely “woodsy”. He hates it’. Hutch knew there was no problem telling Huggy about the mountains.
The area was so vast that just to mention them wouldn’t put Traff or his partner in jeopardy at all. When he considered,
even he didn’t know the right way to address the cabin. All he knew was that it was near Crater Lake and he could drive
there. And even though he’d been there, he’d never seen the lake. It could be miles away for all he knew. With
the cabin tucked two or three miles down a tiny overgrown track, it was as safe as any house ever could be.
two lapsed into companionable silence interspersed with brief conversations. Huggy was tired from his days business and Hutch
from constant worry. The blond knew he’d never settle truly till after the trial was over, but eventually he forced
himself up out of the chair, bid his friend a goodnight and drove home, as content as he could be that Traff and Starsky were
safe. Again, his apartment appeared to be fine. No signs of break-ins and no signs of cars following him. Maybe they’d
given up. Maybe they’d try something different. With the brandy still warming him, the flaxen haired cop got into bed
and within moments was asleep. He remained so for perhaps a half an hour before the telephone jarred him awake and he shot
out of bed to answer it.
the worst, he grabbed the receiver. ‘Starsk?’ he snapped
its um, Hug. Hutch, um, I need ya to come over here, pronto’ the familiar voice said.
you ok Huggy? What’s….’ he stared at the phone as it went dead in his hand and with his heart in his mouth,
he rapidly got dressed, took his gun and raced back to the bar.
gun drawn Hutch approached the Pits cautiously. He’d driven over at top speed, mars light flashing but no siren and
as he got to the block on which the bar was situated, he turned off the lights and cut his headlights, killing the engine
a moment later to go in dark and silent. Huggy had never telephoned him in the middle of the night before and there was an
edge of something that sounded terribly like fear to the black man’s voice. Hutch suspected something serious was going
down and he wanted to be prepared.
the car to a halt, he got out, checked his big Colt Magnum Python and held it loosely in his right hand as he hugged the wall
and the shadows. He’d feel stupid if this was just an innocent call, but felt it better to err on the side of caution.
There was no-one around now at going up for 3 in the morning and quietly he pushed at the front door of the bar, cursing under
his breath as it gave beneath his touch and swung inwards – not good. Huggy had locked it, he knew for certain. Waiting
for a moment, Hutch ducked down and dived inside, quickly covering the ground to hide behind one of the wooden pillars inside
the room. As his eyes became accustomed to the light level, he saw that not only was some of the furniture overturned, but
some of the chairs were broken and whoever had gotten into the bar had enjoyed themselves with the bottles behind the bar
top. Now the air was heavy with the aroma of hard liquor and there was the sharp, bright glint of broken glass on the floor.
flaxen haired cop listened carefully but could hear nothing at all and slowly he made his way across the room and to the foot
of the stairs leading to the small room he’d used with Huggy earlier in the evening.
set his foot on the first step, testing it, making sure it wouldn’t give a squeak and give away his location, but the
step remained silent and he gently and quietly walked up the rest. The fourth step was loose, he knew and he stepped over
that one, from third to fifth, likewise avoiding the third step from the top which habitually sung like a nightingale if stood
upon too eagerly. The cop paused at the top of the stairs, breathing heavily despite having climbed the treads slowly. He
rested his back against the wall by the door and placed his hand on the brass door handle, easing it down until the door gave
with a quiet snick.
inside, Hutch saw that the room was still illuminated at one end by the lamp on the long low sideboard, although he couldn’t
see the black bartender anywhere. Maybe he was in the small bathroom off. But neither could he see anyone else and with the
utmost caution, he pushed the door open further and walked in.
he hissed, his eyes flitting around the room. Oddly there was no sign of struggle up here, but whether that was a good or
a bad thing, Hutch didn’t know. With gun still cocked, he walked into the room as if going to check out the bathroom
and as he got to the corner, where the L shaped layout showed the queen sized bed, he saw that Huggy was indeed in residence,
but was tied to one of the hard ladder backed chairs, a gag taped into his mouth and his eyes wide and pleading above it.
the second it took Hutch to take in the sight and sounds of Huggy’s muffled shouts and shaking head, the flake behind
Hutch rushed forward and took a hold of him round the throat. Immediately the flaxen haired cop put his hands up, trying to
pry the strong forearm from across his windpipe where it was effectively cutting off any attempt at breathing, He pulled with
all his might at the muscle corded arm, bending forward to try to dislodge his assailant but whoever it was was marginally
taller than the cop and managed to keep his balance.
blond was becoming desperate. His oxygen starved brain told him he needed air, his lungs burned with the need to take a breath
and his limbs were becoming weaker as his vision started to fail. At first the periphery started to shut down, tiny red pinpricks
dancing in front of his eyes as the dark margins of his sight started to close in. A deathly gurgle escaped his crushed throat
and his last thought as unconsciousness overtook him was that he hoped Starsky would be safe.
front of him, Huggy yelled into his gag, his nostrils flaring above it as he tried ineffectually to get to his friend. The
man behind Hutch hung on until the tall golden body became limp and once he was sure there was no fight left in it, he flung
the cop to one side like a rag doll, landing him on the bed. Hutch remained where he’d been dumped, insensate and of
no help to the bar man. The man crossed to Huggy and back handed the barkeep across his face, grinning at the muffled grunt
that the action evoked.
told ya to be quiet’ he said in a strong Mexican accent. ‘There will be time for you to talk later’.
felt that something was different as he started to wake up. He could have sworn that he’d been standing up the last
time he could remember anything clearly. He searched his memories. Yeah. Huggy's. He’d gone over to Huggy’s coz
of a phone call and had…..oh my God. Huggy, tied to a chair! Shit. Wake up Hutchy! He tried to run a hand over
his face to clear his foggy mind and that’s when it hit that he was sitting upright, tied into place on one of the wooden
chairs, just like Huggy had been. Great, now what?
cop didn’t have to wait long for an answer. With his eyes still closed it came as a complete shock when an ice cold
bowl of water was thrown into his face and a hand took hold of a fistful of hair and yanked back his head. Hutch opened his
eyes and spat out some of the water at his assailant. With his long neck stretched taut it was once again difficult to breathe,
and sufficiently hard that he couldn’t force the question from his lips. Sensing the strain was too much for the captive
to use his voice the three men surrounding the blond eased up slightly and let go of Hutch’s head. The cop groaned quietly
and his chin sunk to his chest as he tried to get his breathing under control. He looked up at the men, his eyes flitting
from one to the next and he remained quiet. He knew what they wanted and he wasn’t going to make it easy for them. Across
the way, Huggy, still tied to his own chair, stared back with scared but defiant soup plate eyes.
Hutchinson we presume’ the lead man said. ‘So nice to finally meet you. You led us quite a chase through the city
for the past couple of days’.
like the company’ Hutch grunted and received a backhander for his trouble. Coppery blood seeped into his mouth from
the cut lip and he sucked at it as he eyed the men again. Shit, this was gonna be a long night!
small talk Hutchinson. You know why we’re here, so make it simple for yourself and tell us where that no good piece
of shit soldier is’.
stared defiantly back and grinned through his injured lips. ‘Got no idea what you’re talkin’ about’
man in front of him grunted and the other two descended on him. The blond found himself in the middle of a welter of flying
fists which all connected painfully and accurately with his face, head and chest. At some point he heard Huggy’s muffled
yells at them to stop and he felt things other than fists connecting with his body. They hurt more than any fist would and
he thought they may be using a plank of wood or maybe a baseball bat. Whatever it was he felt a rib break and then another
and he screamed.
Ramon. Not too much. He needs to be able to talk to us. Be careful of his face. RAMON!’
blows stopped. How long had they been hitting him? Hutch had no idea of the passage of time, but he thought that they’d
be at him for at least a century. Each bone and muscle in his upper body and head ached or twinged or felt broken in some
way. He could taste more of the blood in his mouth and he could also smell the coppery tang around him. One eye had swollen
shut immediately and the side of his face felt like it was on fire. What had they shouted out? Ramon? His mind took him back
to a more comfortable time as his body sagged against its bonds
Essa Ramon aqui? Got it? Say it back to me. No, ya gotta roll the R Starsk. Essa Rrrrramon aqui?
Starsky. Oh God Starsk, make yourself safe buddy. Get the hell outa that cabin some way. I’ll hold out as long
as I can, but they’re good. They’ll beat me to a pulp an’ I promise I won’t tell ‘em anythin’
hand returned to his scalp, taking hold of sweat and blood matted hair and pulled his head back. Hutch managed to open his
one good eye enough to stare back at his torturer.
you had enough? How would it be if we said we’d spare that curly headed partner of yours and just take out the soldier?
Will you tell us where he is?’
yourselfffff’ Hutch managed to mumble through his smashed mouth before the fists and bats came back for round two.
some point during the next half an hour, the blond passed out. His body just couldn’t take the constant barrage of blows
that rained down upon it, most of the blows now overlying bruises and broken bones. At one point, just before he lost consciousness,
Hutch coughed, spitting bright red frothy blood onto the shoes of the man in front of him. Breathing was becoming an issue
and the scarlet froth confirmed that one or more of his broken ribs had punctured a lung. The cop didn’t know how much
more of the treatment he could take, but he was satisfied now that he wouldn’t tell. His nerves were reacting less and
less to the pains of the blows and he knew he was on the downward spiral into unconsciousness and as one final blow landed
on the side of his face, the world mercifully winked out.
men stopped immediately. They were professionals. No use wasting energy on a body unless they could hear the grunts and screams,
although disappointingly, this one had only screamed once. They stood back, panting in a semi circle around the bruised, torn
and bleeding cop as they took out a pack of cigarettes and passed them around. In the quiet after the noise of the beating,
they stood around chatting comfortably and blowing the blue smoke into the air.
aint gonna talk’ one of them observed almost sadly. The group took pride in their work and admired anyone who could
withstand what they could dish out.
right. Time we changed tack. Someone is gonna tell us. I think he’s too tough to break. He seems to enjoy the pain.
But somehow I get the feelin’ if we target the other, sooner or later we’ll break his resolve. Wake him up’
Ramon told them
woke slowly as another bowl of water was thrown over him. The water bit at his wounds and stung the cuts and grazes over his
face and shoulders. He moaned pitifully and with an effort raised his head.
to ruin your beauty sleep, but we still have unfinished business’. Ramon reached out and almost gently he put his hand
under Hutch’s chin. The cop flinched, hissing softly as he tried to pull away from the touch and Ramon smiled. ‘Tell
me where Major Trafford is being kept. This is your last chance cop. If you want to see your lanky black friend alive again’.
got Hutch’s attention and he tried to focus on the man in front of him. Huggy’s eyes had flown wide open at the
mention of his name. He’d desperately wanted to help the blond in some way and while the flakes were beating the crap
from his friend he’d closed his eyes wishing he could stuff his fingers into his ears to blot out the stifled cries
and groans from the flaxen haired man. Twice he’d heard Hutch call weakly for Starsky and his heart had bled for the
cop he called friend. And now he knew he was going to get more of the same.
not a coward, Huggy preferred the more comfortable things in life. He was street wise enough to have seen violence throughout
his life and he hated it. He was a pacifist at heart and didn’t even own a gun and as the gag was ripped from his dry
mouth and he worked his jaw to get life back into the lower portion of his face, he regarded Hutch’s bruised and bleeding
body with sympathy…..and dread. The men circled him and across the room he saw Hutch struggling to get out of his chair.
don’t know nothin’ the blond yelled with all his remaining strength. ‘Leave him alone. If ya want more,
I got plenty left’ the brave cop mumbled.
looked at Hutch, and then nodded to the men. Their first action was to stub their cigarettes out on the barkeeps chest and
Huggy’s thin body jangled against its bonds on the chair. He clamped his mouth closed, his lips a thin line sealed over
his teeth as he sucked in deep breaths through flared nostrils. Again they went through the same procedure, targeting Huggy’s
head and chest with their fists and bat and for the most part, the black man tried to remain quiet, determined not to give
his friend any more pain than necessary, but as the bat connected once again with his side, he screamed out, unable to stop
himself. And at that one animalistic sound, the beating stopped and the men looked expectantly at their leader.
crossed to Hutch and knelt down by the side of the bound cop. ’Haven’t you had enough? Hasn’t he had enough?
Just tell us before one of you dies huh? Where are they keeping Major Trafford?
his one good eye Hutch looked at Huggy’s burned, bleeding body. The black man was near collapse, his thin frame leaning
forwards, supported only by the ropes around his arms anchoring him to the chair. A string of blood stained saliva beaded
from his smashed lips and there was a tooth laying white and blood stained on the ground. Huggy would never withstand more
of this treatment, and Hutch didn’t think he could take much more either. He was more than grateful that the barkeep
had kept his mouth shut, although in truth, Huggy knew very little of Starsky and Traff’s whereabouts. The mountain
was big and Hutch could find the place by driving there, but had no idea how he could describe the address. He made his decision,
hoping it might buy some time.
he raised his head and looked Ramon in the eye.
Lake’ he whispered painfully. ‘Just don’t ‘urt im no more’.
Mexican stood triumphantly. ‘Crater Lake’ he announced. ‘Knew he’d see sense. Finish that one and
let’s get outa here’.
a grin, the men gathered their stuff up and as a parting shot, the man with the baseball bat took one more vicious swing at
Huggy’s head, knocking the man and the chair sideways before rushing to join his comrades as they rushed out of the
was hardly any sound in the room now that the four men had departed. The sounds of the blows had left an eerie silence behind
interspersed only by the ragged wheezing as the blond cop fought for each breath. Very slowly, he became more aware of his
surroundings until he felt the time was probably right to open his eyes and look around. He’d heard no more footsteps
or voices and dimly remembered hearing the flakes depart, but up until now Hutch had been unable to rejoin the world, his
body trying its best to start the healing process.
a low groan he tried to get himself upright again, his shoulders feeling the burn of being tied behind him for so long and
taking the brunt of the weight of his body leaning forward. As he sat upright, circulation started to return and he groaned
again, sucking in his breath despite the knife like pains in his chest.
was laying on the floor where he’d been thrown. The barkeep had remained stoically tight lipped throughout the ordeal
and Hutch felt badly for him. This was a bad case of “wrong place wrong time” and his friend had suffered terribly
as a result.
cleared his throat. ‘Hug’ he croaked, his voice weak and thready.
was no response and the blond tried again, a little louder. ‘Huggy?’ It was only then, as he looked harder at
the lanky body on the floor that he saw the trickles of blood coming from mouth, nose and worryingly ears too. Damn. Not good.
Not good at all.
cop knew he needed to get to his friend fast, but a myriad of thoughts were ploughing through his head. Huggy, Traff, Starsky.
All needed his help and he felt dirty and cheap that he’d finally been forced to give away the safe house general location
to the goons. Forced to trade the life of one friend against the lives of two others. It was an impossible decision to make
and now he wondered if, despite the information, they’d already robbed Huggy of his life. He wriggled painfully on his
chair. Fortunately, the flakes had concentrated on his face and head and upper body leaving his legs relatively unscathed
and although it hurt to think, talk and breathe, he thought he may be able to walk if only he could get out of the chair.
he felt along the hard wooden ladder back of the chair and realised that he had one piece of good luck. While they’d
secured his arms behind him, they hadn’t tied them to the chair and he could managed, albeit painfully, to slither his
arms over the back, freeing himself to try to get to the sideboard where he hoped to find a knife or scissors to cut his bonds.
he leaned forward and pulled at his arms, he screamed, the broken ribs grating against each other and enveloping his chest
in a scarlet blaze of agony. He sucked in more air and managed to get to his feet. He was dizzy. Weaker than he thought and
he swayed, in danger of toppling over. He thought he may have a concussion, but since he could think and feel and reason,
he deduced that maybe it wasn’t too bad. Whatever. He needed help, now.
he made his way over to the low sideboard and managed to pry open both shallow drawers. They bore only two bottle openers
and a part opened jar of olives. In desperation, Hutch took the glass jar and dropped it on the floor, hoping it may smash
and give him a shard of glass with which to free himself. But on the carpeted floor it did nothing more than bounce and the
blond whimpered in frustration, feeling himself losing control.
round he spotted the telephone on the bedside cabinet and praying that the flakes hadn’t been around long enough to
see and disconnect it, he took a breath and staggered over to the bed, feeling dizzier and weaker by the moment. He perched
down on the edge of the mattress and leaned forward, sitting of a range of pains that left his body enveloped in a scarlet
blaze of agony. He gently nudged the receiver from the cradle and felt a rush of relief as he heard the dial tone and carefully
he pressed the 0 with his nose, his head resting on the hard wood of the cabinet as he waited for a reply. A moment later
a business like voice came on the line and he interrupted her, knowing time was of the essence.
is D’tective….’Utchinson….Bay City PD. Officer down…..Pits Bar….urgent’ he breathed
into the phone, hoping she could hear him.
her credit the woman was unflappable. ‘Officer down a the Pits Bar. Do you require backup?’
he gasped before his breath gave out and he toppled forwards onto the floor.
hard wood connecting with his head jarred his teeth, but brought him up short. Not yet Hutchy. Stay focussed just a while
longer. Huggy. See to Huggy. With a groan, the blond rolled over onto his side, using his elbow to try and get upright
again. But the pains and his maltreatment had taken their toll and he had little energy left for anything other than breathing.
Instead of managing to sit up or get to his knees, the best Hutch could do was to push himself along the ground until he was
close enough to Huggy to ensure that the black man’s chest was still moving in and out. With a final sigh, the flaxen
haired cop closed his eyes and allowed the pain free blackness to swallow him up.
cabin was warm and cosy that first afternoon. After Hutch left, Starsky started rummaging in the cupboards for whatever food
was available and as Marion watched with a small smile on her face, the brunet set to chopping onions and soaking kidney beans.
Within and hour and a half, the cop served up a bowl of chilli and rice and took out a smaller portion for the soldier. He
picked up the two bowls and two forks and headed for Traff’s room, brushing past the woman as she sat in the living
good’ she offered, looking around for a third bowl.
I could cook’ Starsky said.
mine?’ she asked.
the pan. Help yourself, an’ tomorrow it’s your turn’ the brunet said coldly and nudged into the bedroom,
closing the door behind him. Marion watched him go and cursed under her breath, not knowing how long she could keep up the
pretence. Why did they both have to be so damned cute? Maybe she could still afford a little bit of fun. The injured Major
wouldn’t put up too much resistance, she felt sure.
the evening drew to a close, the weather around the cabin drew in and as Starsky closed the curtains, checked the perimeter
of the wooden house, walked back in and locked the door behind him, the first rattle of raindrops sounded on the tin roof
and the room lit up like a candle by the flash of lightening.
like it’s gonna be a doozy’ Marion said, peering out of the window at the impenetrable darkness.
up sweetheart. Scared of thunder?’ Starsky asked with a friendly grin. Despite her temper earlier, he was still hoping
he could win the woman round and thaw out her frosty exterior. She gave him a withering look.
going to bed. See you in the morning’ she snapped and closed the door of her bedroom behind her. The brunet grinned
to himself. If anyone could get under her skin and rattle her, he was pretty sure he could. Checking once again that Traff
was safe and sleeping, the cop padded into his own room, placed his gun under his pillow and led down fully clothed to sleep.
the bedroom next door, Marion tossed and turned on her own bed, her dreams taking on a markedly erotic twist as she imagined
her hands running up and down the brunet cop's body...or Traff's...or maybe both. Once or twice she moaned their names in
her sleep, her hand twictchig on the pillow, her mind allowing her in sleep to think what she wouldn't allow herself to dream
during the day.
storm raged for most of the night, the thunder deafening as it echoed around the mountain tops, ricocheting from one to the
other in an awe inspiring power dance of nature. Jagged forks of lightening lit up the inside of the cabin as though it were
midday and there were eerie crashes and bumps around the outside of the wooden house which left Marion's spine tingling. It
continued for several hours unleashing untold forces on the woods and towards morning, with the storm at it's worst, there
was an enormous crash right in front of the house, shaking it on it's foundations. The rain pounding on the tin roof reached
a staccato crescendo deafened Marion’s ears as she lay awake and despite pulling the pillow over her head, the noise
was still such that she couldn’t sleep further. And then it started to abate. The rain cleared, the lightening faded
away and a calm descended on the woods so that when the first light of morning tinged the horizon, there was nothing left
of the deluge but the gentle patter of water dripping from the leaves. As Starsky, who had slept through the whole thing woke
and opened the front door, the air that met him was clean and fresh and had an invigorating quality to it which left him feeling
happy and relaxed. The brunet stood on the top step of the cabin's entrance and rubbed his hands through his hair, scratching
idly at his bared chest. He jumped as he heard a voice behind him.
it finished finally?'
turned to see Marion peering round him at the great outdoors.
Looks like it was a doozy'.
mean you slept through it?' she asked amazed.
A little storm like that? Don’t tell me it gave ya nightmares after all'.
smiled a funny, secretive smile. 'Not nightmares exactly, no. But dreams, yeah. Do you want coffee?’
looked sideways at her. Suddenly she seemed a little softer this morning. Less abrupt and sharp. Was he getting to her? Was
the ice maiden melting?
sure. I’m gonna go check on Traff. He’s gonna want to be up an’ about this mornin’. He hates bein’
in bed. Coffee would be good. An’ one for him too?’ She nodded and he watched her slim hips as she walked back
inside. A moment later there was a small cry and he bolted back into the room.
he asked. Marion was standing by the cabinet on which the telephone lived, one hand holding the phone at arms length, the
other up to her face as though she’d seen a snake. And he knew what that felt like, his mind taking him back to the
week long camping trip at the Dobey cabin. When he’d opened the fridge and the rattler had fallen out he staggered back
and ended up on his butt on the floor, sweating and shaking all over and paralysed with fear as the reptile slithered closer.
He took a quick snake check on their vicinity and thankfully came up empty.
he asked again, perplexed.
phone. It’s dead’ she said quietly.
brunet took the receiver from her hand, checked it and replaced it on the cradle. ‘Its probably the storm knocked down
the power lines. No problem. Hutch’ll know the problem if he hears its dead. The storm’ll have hit the city too’.
but….’ It looked like she was about to say something else, but stopped herself at the last minute.
couldn't resist. ‘Whassup sweetheart? Can’t get in touch with your hairdresser?’
snatched her hand away from his, gave him a dirty look and flounced away, heading for the bedroom. ‘Hey, what about
the coffee?’ he shouted after her.
know where the pot is’ she flung over her shoulder as she slammed the door behind her.
cop grinned and then shrugged. If he lived to be a hundred he’d never get a handle on women. And especially this woman.
She blew hot and cold. One minute she was nice as a dime, the second she was like his worst enemy – a walking advert
for PMT. Walking into Traff’s room he saw his friend was awake and grinning.
an’ her! What’re ya like? Just leave it Curly. You’re floggin’ a dead horse with that one’.
sat down on the edge of his bed. ‘You didn’t see us outside earlier. She thinks I’m ok. She was almost friendly.
There aint much else to do round here. I guess she’s my project’.
soldier sighed. ‘Well don’t say I didn’t warn ya Chief’.
get up today?’
man in the bed grinned. ‘Is the Pope a Catholic? Just try an’ hold me back’.
the next half an hour, the two men struggled to get the soldier dressed around his sling in his customary off duty clothes,
which echoed Starsky’s own taste; threadbare jeans, a comfortable black tee shirt and sneakers. The wound on Traff’s
shoulder was still sore and there was some infection in there, but the antibiotics he was taking, although they made him feel
nauseous, were fighting the bugs and the soldier was itching to be up and around.
the end of the process, Traff was sweating and feeling more tired than he liked to let on. As he stood for the first time
in days, he felt weak and dizzy, but he swallowed down the palpitations and leaning heavily on Starsky he made his way into
the living room and flopped down onto the sofa. Pleased with himself he took his first good look at the surroundings. Although
not the Hilton, the place was warm and homely and as he sat down, Marion emerged from her bedroom and went into the kitchen.
Moments later, she appeared with a mug of freshly brewed coffee which she placed in front of the Major. As she did so, she
stared at Starsky as though challenging him to say something. She sat beside the soldier and solicitously held the cup for
him until he was settled. Starsky looked around pointedly for his mug. Marion glared back, making evident she’d made
one drink and one only. Sighing deeply, the brunet got up and headed outside.
gonna go get some exercise’ he muttered to no-one in particular and closed the front door behind him
cop wasn’t a vain man. He thought of himself as average looking and although he didn’t really have a problem with
getting the girls, he was wary of long term relationships. Only a couple of women had ever made him think of marriage and
only one had actually provoked the question to come to his lips. She’d been in a hospital room at the time and hadn’t
answered him outright. Days later, they were back in the same room and it was too late to put the question again. He sighed.
Marion was a challenge. He didn’t really like her. He didn’t get on with her that was for sure. But he saw her
as hurdle to get over and he was nothing if not persistent. But he liked women and men to be straightforward with him and
Marion was as convoluted as a spring. He couldn’t get into her rhythm and her sudden mood swings made him feel on edge
and uncertain. Exercise might bring clarity and it would certainly work off his anxiety.
around he saw a small lean to by the side of the cabin stocked with logs, a convenient chopping block outside and an axe hung
on a nail by the door opening. That was as good an exercise as any and he walked over and hefted the axe. It felt good in
his hands, the well used wooden handle velvety smooth in his hands and in preparation he stretched his arms and back, mindful
of his left shoulder. The bullet wound from the Italian Restaurant had healed months ago, but left him a little stiff before
placing the first log on the block he swung the axe and brought it down with a heavy, pleasing "thunk" on the top of the log.
It split cleanly in two and he reached for the next one, propping it up ready as he heard a noise behind him. As the brunet
turned, he saw Marion walking towards him from the front door and he cursed under his breath. Wouldn’t she just leave
do you want?’ he asked as he swung the implement again.
if I can help’.
with this?’ he asked.
I get it. This is man’s work and making coffee is for women. Is that it? Talk about chauvinistic attitudes’.
cop leaned slightly breathless on the handle of the axe and stared at her. ‘Ya want to take a swing, go ahead’.
snickered at him. ‘Don’t let me stop your man fun. I’ll run along and wash the pots huh?’
as a flash Starsky reached out to grasp her arm, fully intending to bring her back to reason with her. Or at least question
her attitude which he felt needed a severe adjustment, but she snatched her hand away, clutched his own wrist and with impressive
speed, folded his arm neatly up his back high enough that he was standing on tiptoe to release the pressure.
think I’m a weakling woman?’ Marion hissed in his ear.
brunet leaned forward, using the woman’s momentum to his advantage. He stuck out his hip and rolled her effortlessly
over it so that she landed on her back on the ground. Kneeling above her and with a knee either side of her body he leaned
over and grinned.
said you were weak, but this kinda proves my point’ he panted.
brown eyes glared up at him and Starsky was about to let her up when Marion slipped from underneath him and in a tangle of
arms and legs reversed the position. Now Starsky was on his back and Marion had her knees pinning his shoulders to the ground.
Her crotch was inches from his face and if this had been any other woman he might have enjoyed the experience. But this was
Captain Marion Hadley. She grasped his wrists and pinned his arms above his head as she grinned wolfishly at him.
rule of engagement. Never be the first to relax’.
brought his knee up behind her and into her back, using all the momentum of his body and flipped her over his head so that
she landed with a thud on her back and lost the grip she’d had on his hands. The cop sprang to his feet and stood over
rule of engagement. Never let your opponent take you by surprise’. He turned on his heel to get back to the wood chopping
and as he bent to pick up the axe from where he’d left it, he felt something hard and cold digging into his side. Recognising
it instantly, he straightened slowly, hardly daring to breathe. With his hands out at the side of his body he looked down
to see the pistol muzzle digging into his ribs.
the hell?’ he asked softly, trying to turn to see Marion’s face.
rule of engagement. Expect the unexpected’ she said, seeing with pleasure the alarm that registered on his handsome
face. Slowly she withdrew the weapon and tucked it into the back of her waistband before turning briskly on her heel and walking
back to the house.
will be ready soon’ she said lightly as she closed the door behind her.
awoke to the metallic taste of blood and morphine. He lay with his eyes closed for several moments, measuring just how much
he hurt and what damage seemed to have been done. He vaguely remembered the paramedics arriving at Huggy’s upstairs
room along with two of the detectives from his own squad room. But he was in too much pain to tell them much and as soon as
he realised that help had at last arrived, he allowed himself the luxury of unconsciousness.
he whispered and was surprised that there was no answering pressure on his shoulder or a curly head coming into view.
he allowed his eyes to drift open and stared for a moment at the ceiling. Must be Memorial. County General had a blue painted
ceiling and this was white. Ok Hutchy. Entirely too much time spent in these places if you can tell where you are by the
colour of the paintwork.
eyes followed the ceiling to the corner and dipped down the wall before finally he realised he could look at his feet. Why
was he here? OMG yeah. Remember now. The flakes that beat me up. And Huggy. Where’s Huggy? And how long have I been
here? Ok, so not led flat. That’s a good sign. If he was propped up, things couldn’t be too bad. And then
he looked sideways and saw Dobey fast asleep and snoring gently by his bed. He hissed in pain as bruises and cuts registered
their attendance and the black man was immediately awake.
son. You’ve had a bad time. Here let me call the doctor for ya’.
long have I been here?’ Hutch rasped, recognising the effects of anaesthetics and pain meds lingering in his body.
18 hours. When we got to the Pits you were almost unconscious. They had a time with you. Doc. says you have three broken ribs.
You had a procedure to put a chest drain in coz your lung was punctured. It needed re-inflating – it had collapsed.
And um…..your face isn’t quite as pretty as it was. You’re gonna be sore for a while’.
grunted. To do much else was too painful.
face fell. ‘He um…..he’s not too good. He’s in another part of the hospital’.
blond’s eyebrows V’d. ‘Why?’
not your fault, you have to realise that son. You did everything you could to save him’.
no, he’s not dead’ the black man reassured him. ‘But he’s in Intensive Care. Hutch, they have him
on life support’.
the sound was a cross between a cry and a sigh and the flaxen haired cop rested his head back on the pillow, his eyes closed.
need t’see him’.
you’re well enough you can. He wouldn’t know you were there. They um….don’t hold out much hope’.
was a pause.
time is it?’ he asked
up for six in the evening. Why?’
I said I’d ring Starsk each night at six. An’ if I don’t, he’ll wonder what’s goin’ on.
He needs to be warned’ Hutch’s heart rate sped up on the monitor he was attached to and he tried to reach for
son. Don’t worry. I can see to it. Just rest’ the Captain shushed.
understand. I think….’ Hutch’s eyes were wild. ‘Oh god! I think I told ‘em where he was’.
doctor came to see Hutch later that evening. The blond though still drugged was restless and anxious and as the medic cut
away the bandages around his chest, osculated it and pressed his stethoscope against his back, Hutch waited impatiently for
the diagnosis. The doctor, a young man who barely looked old enough to carry out the job smiled and declared that the cop’s
lung was behaving itself and that the chest drain could be removed. The flaxen haired cop breathed a careful sigh of relief
and asked how much longer he’d have to stay at the hospital.
you have quite substantial injuries still. You may be able to breathe a little easier, but that’s mostly because of
the drugs still in your system. To catalogue your injuries, you have a concussion, a fractured cheekbone, you’ve loosened
several teeth. You have three broken ribs and you’ve just recovered from a collapsed lung. Any sudden movement could
cause it to spontaneously collapse again. You’ve got extensive bruising over your back and chest and although your left
arm isn’t broken, its badly bruised and as you can see, heavily bandaged. Is that enough to tell you that you need to
stay put at least for another couple of days?’
can’t’ Hutch said simply.
your Mother ever tell you there’s no such word as “can’t”?’
is when you’re a cop’ the blond insisted. ‘I need to be outa here’.
I’m telling you that I’m keeping you here for another 48 hours. No arguments or I’ll order the nurses to
sedate you. You need rest and you need to allow your body to heal’.
sighed, knowing he couldn’t win this round of arguments and instead he changed tack.
guy I came in with, Huggy Brown. Can I see him? It’s important’.
medic sighed. ‘What part of rest don’t you understand? Resting means staying in your bed, not gallivanting around
Doc. I’m not gonna be able to rest until I see him. So it’s either you get me a wheelchair an’ my Captain
wheels me down to see him, or I get outa bed and make my own way down there. The choice is yours’.
reached up and took hold of the doctor’s sleeve. ‘My friend is lying close to death because of me. At least give
me the chance to go see him, while there’s still some time. Please?’
I can see I’m not going to win. I’ll have the nurse bring a chair in here. After that you can have ten minutes
with Mr Brown. And then I’ll expect you back here. Deal?’
made a noncommittal grunt and the doctor left.
told you he’s unconscious son’ Dobey said softly. ‘It won’t be….’
need to do it Cap’n. For me. He was damned brave back there. He never said a word. I owe him’.
nurse appeared moments later with a silver tray full of instruments and Hutch submitted without comment as she set about dousing
his side with antiseptic and preparing the site. She snipped the two stitches which held the drain tube into his side and
he coughed when ordered as the girl pulled the murderous object from the space between his ribs. It felt odd. Painful to have
to cough with broken ribs and not pleasant either, as though someone had put a hand into his chest and was rummaging around.
Sticking the edges of the small hole together with tape stitches, the nurse taped a white dressing over his side and once
again bound up his broken ribs, encasing his chest in a twenty inch loop of hell that both supported his ribs and caused them
to ache viciously.
the end of it, the cop was sweating and several shades paler but still as determined as ever to see Huggy. The nurse brought
a wheelchair into the room and helped him from the bed and into it. Putting the drip bag onto the stand attached, she stood
Cinderella. You have till midnight before you change into a pumpkin. Be back here by then ok?’
Hutch grunted, his pain and anxiety not even allowing his usual repartee with the hospital staff. He nodded once at his Captain
and Dobey started to push him through the corridors to the Intensive Care Unit. They pushed the door open and entered the
quiet, warm and dim interior. Dobey pushed the chair over to a bed by the nurses’ station, the area around it being
filled with machinery.
thin broken body lay still and hardly breathing on the air mattress, a single sheet covering his middle and his dark skin
mottled by purple bruises and blood red grazes and cuts. A tube was taped to his mouth and attached to a ventilator and the
soft hiss whoosh marked the up and down motions of the black man’s chest. Tubes fed into his arms, wires attached to
his chest led to other monitors.
was the happy laconic style of the man. This shell was not Huggy Bear, colourful owner of the Pits. Hutch closed his eyes,
willing himself not to cry, but there was an enormous lump in his throat as he thought back to the stoical silence of the
brave man as he watched Hutch beaten, knowing he was likely to be next.
his own pains, Hutch levered himself out of the chair and hobbled over to the bed, taking hold of Huggy’s hand.
buddy. How’re ya doin’? It’s me, Hutch’.
machine continued its quiet work and there was no sign that the man on the bed could hear him. Huggy’s entire head was
swathed in a white bandage, his eyes blackened and bruises and swollen closed.
sorry buddy. Hug, I’m gonna catch the bastards that did this. If it’s the last thing I do, I’m gonna get
‘em and nail ‘em and make ‘em pay. You gotta hang in there Hug. Hang in there. I know you can do that. For
me. For Starsk’.
blond paused, looking for the strength to continue. He waited a moment until his voice was steady again and then continued.
have to go away for a while Hug. To find them and to warn Starsk. But I’ll be back. Promise I will and you have to hang
in there until I’m back here with my partner. I want to see that big Huggy grin when I get back huh? Ya hear me Hug?’
flaxen haired cop stepped back and almost fell into the wheelchair, motioning for Dobey to wheel him out of the room and as
they got into the corridor the Captain stopped.
was that all about? You have to leave? You have to warn Starsky? You aint goin’ nowhere Hutch. You’re in no fit
struggled to turn round in the chair and glared up at his boss. ‘I’m walkin’ and talkin’ so I’m
fit to go find those bastards and you aint gonna stop me. Now get me into the bathroom and find me some pants’. He stopped
momentarily, hearing the familiar phrase from his own lips.
OK find my pants.
Got your watch buddy.
You forgot my pants? You want me to hit the streets with no pants, no badge, no gun……no dignity? Do you
Another guy whose life he had fucked up royally. God Starsk, don’t let ‘em find ya. I only told ‘em Crater
Lake. It’s a vast area. Just hang on till I can get to ya, or at least get to a phone.
you heard the doctor. You need to rest. At least wait here. If I ring him, you won’t need to go find him will ya? You’re
not thinking straight. Just cool it’.
blond stopped in his tracks. Sure. The phone. Why didn’t he think of that? Dobey was right. The pain and the meds were
still arguing with him and he needed to think things through. The sight of his friend Huggy being kept alive by a host of
machinery had knocked him for six and he needed to stop, regroup and get a plan. He nodded at the Captain.
Go quick huh? He’ll be wondering why I didn’t call’. He watched as Dobey disappeared down the corridor and
looked around the place he’d been “parked”. Opposite was a linen store and with a grunt, he managed to get
himself out of the chair again, unhooked the drip bag from the stand and staggered into the small room. His eyes travelled
the mounds of linen stacked neatly on the shelves lining the room, past the sheets, covers and across to his target. He rummaged
through the piles of scrubs tops and pants and found some that he thought may fit. Hoping that no-one would come in he plunged
his legs into the white pants and with difficulty he ties the drawstring waist. The top however, posed more of a problem as
the drip was still attached to his hand.
blond had no intention of staying in the hospital, phone call or no. He knew he wouldn’t be able to rest until he saw
that his two friends in the mountains were safe and there was no way on God’s green earth that he’d allow Dobey
or anyone else to go and check on them. He heaped the guilt upon himself until it weighed him down and fell like a duvet across
his shoulders. This was his fault. He was stupid to think that he’d lost the tail for good out in the city. He was crazy
to have gone to the Pits that night and put Huggy in danger and he was weak for not being able to protect his black friend
from the goons in the room. He was the only one who could make this right and he couldn’t do that from a hospital bed.
he picked the tape off the back of his hand and winced as he pulled the inch and a half long cannula out of his flesh. Bright
red blood welled up through the tiny hole and he grabbed at a sheet and pushed it against the flow until it stopped. Dropping
the needle onto the floor, He shouldered painfully and carefully into the scrubs top and leaned back against the wall for
a moment to catch his breath. Any movement jarred his sore ribs, but he had the strength of his convictions behind him and
the thoughts of Starsky and Traff in the cabin drove him on.
opened the door and peered outside. He was unsure whether to wait for Dobey to return, or just to go on his own, but there
again, he needed to know whether his captain had got a message through to his partner. And the little matter of having no
shoes and no transport…..As he started to hobble back to the waiting chair, Dobey came racing back round the corner
and was brought up short by the site of the cop dressed and sans drip.
he bellowed as Hutch held up a bandaged hand
you get through to him?’ the blond asked.
face turned stony. ‘Phone line’s dead….and before….HUTCHINSON!’ he tried to put a hand on Hutch’s
arm to hold him down, but the cop was half way out of the chair again.
it. I can’t wait for those goons to get up there and give my friends a taste of the treatment Huggy got. I need to get
up there. I need to make sure they’re ok, or stop any…..To stop them bein’ hurt’.
what use are you gonna be to them huh? Look at you. You can barely stand and I know ya can’t drive. How d’ya think
you’re gonna get up there?’
gonna take me’ Hutch grinned tightly. ‘Just get me outa here, take me back to mine for some clothes and then take
me up to the Lake huh? Please Cap’n?’
stared at him seeing the set of the blond’s shoulders and the steely gaze in those crystal blue eyes. ‘What’s
the doctor gonna say. You heard him. He won’t let you leave’.
snickered softly. ‘Well what he don’t know won’t hurt him. Just tell the nurse I’m goin’ and
then wheel me outside. After that I’ll suffer any consequences’.
rattled away at the cradle of the telephone as though the sheer physical exercise of digging her index finger into the plastic
would somehow force it to reconnect and when it didn’t have the desired effect she cursed loudly and slammed the phone
back down in disgust.
Starsky muttered as he passed her, the deck of cards in his hand. ‘Probably won’t be reconnected for days. There’s
more important places need phones than up in these mountains. What’s the big deal? Your boyfriend missin’ ya?’
glared at him, swinging right back into cold bitch mode and the brunet grinned, chalking up a mental point on his score card
as he realised he’d gotten to her again. He continued walking into the living room to sit by Traff’s side.
keep tellin’ ya that you’re wasting your time Curly. She don’t want to know’.
d’ya know? What’s not to like huh? I’m not that bad lookin’’
soldier snickered. ‘I don’t think your looks are in question. Starsk you really don’t know do ya?
I never will unless you tell me. What’s the big secret?’
rested his hand lightly on his friend’s arm and tried to keep the smirk off his face. ‘You know, to say you’re
a cop and you’ve seen stuff, you really aint a man of the world are ya? The reason, my friend, that tin Knickers isn’t
interested in you isn’t coz she finds you ugly. She’s a lesbian. You’re just the wrong sex!’
cop’s jaw hung open. ‘She’s a….and she….but I….’
know. Well that’s obvious’ Traff grinned. ‘So maybe now you can stop thinkin’ about getting’
into her pants and start thinkin’ about our game. C’mon. Supper was good but I’m feelin’ sleepy an’
I have a yearning for another hot date with “Magnificent Maureen” before I go to bed. Are ya gonna deal or what?
Besides, sick an’ injured as I am, I’m still ten bucks up an’ I’m aimin’ for twenty’
shook himself and coughed self-consciously. How could he have been so stupid? Although he was sure she was coming on to Traff
earlier. Certainly looked like she was. Or was that just to annoy him?
right. Um….cards, ok’ he spluttered and started to deal. Marion walked into the living room a moment later and
sat down on the other side of the soldier.
in?’ Traff asked smoothly as Starsky self consciously shuffled up the sofa to give her room.
she said and the brunet added her hand into the pot. They played in silence for a while, shouting the calls and concentrating
on their cards. Traff managed his hot date with Magnificent Maureen and also drew Damit Janet and Naughty Nelleke, while Starsky
was reluctant to give up Amorous Angie and Salacious Shawne. Even Marion salivated a little over Dirty Delia before winning
her hand with a straight flush. She claimed her dollar winnings with a smile, seeming for the moment to have thawed out some
again. But during the evening as she continued to play, she constantly looked uncomfortable and kept looking at her watch
and towards the door, then trying to disguise her actions by playing with her hair or pretending to scratch her shoulder.
By the end of the game she’d won three hands, Traff was down 5 dollars and Starsky was beginning to get suspicious.
He said nothing, but as Traff dealt the next round, he made his excuses and got up, saying he was going to check the perimeter
of the cabin.
was dark outside, the clean fresh scent of pine needles still redolent in the damp woods. Cool breezes sang through the dark
boughs of the trees and the moonlight occasionally flitted out from behind the clouds to leave pure white light on the outside
of the cabin, illuminating it starkly, then plunging it back into darkness. Somewhere a little way off an owl hooted and made
the brunet jump. He snickered to himself at his nervousness, although he’d always hated the woods. Being brought up
in Brooklyn he was a city boy through and through and although he enjoyed getting back to nature when he had a camera in his
hand and could photograph some wildlife, the thoughts of spending other recreational time out in the middle of nature left
him cold. Too much effort ploughing through hot, dank jungles in Vietnam left him feeling a distinct dislike for anything
that wasn’t firmly rooted in concrete.
outside and around the corner of the cabin, he didn’t see the figure that crept up behind him, the sounds of the wind
in the trees disguising the sounds of footsteps on the leaf litter on the floor of the woods. The night sounds and the remnants
of the wind from the storm had disguised the sound of the car trundling down the narrow track, it’s light doused.
goons had left Hutch and Huggy and immediately made for the hills, confident that they had the right location to find Traff,
take him and stop him from giving his testimony. But as they drew towards the area marked on the map as “Crater Lake”
they realised just how large a place it was to search. During the almost 24 hours since the beating at the Pits, they’d
checked out every cabin they’d come to and had covered almost two thirds of the square miles around the location. If
it hadn’t been for a fallen tree blocking their way on the main road, they’d never have got out of their car and
found the track to the safe house, and the reluctant witness and his guards would have remained a secret. And so they’d
set off down the small dirt track, thinking that maybe it would be a dead end when they’d seen the cheery lights of
the cabin in the distance their hopes were raised.
drove the car off the track and into the woods sufficiently far that it wouldn’t be spotted from the house and he and
Enrico got out and stalked forward. They saw the small vehicle parked by the side of the cabin, the one Traff, Starsky and
Marion could use in case of emergency and as Ramon peeped in through the cabin window and certified that the men they wanted
were in there, Enrico gently pried open the hood and fiddled with the engine, emerging a moment later triumphantly with the
rotor arm. The car wouldn’t be going anywhere any time soon. He nodded to Ramon and walked round to the back of the
Ramon started to climb the steps to the front door he heard a noise and darted backwards into the shadows, watching as the
brunet cop opened the door and stood on the top step then walked down and round the corner.
Starsky went around the corner to check on the side of the cabin, he felt that something wasn’t quite right. Why was
Marion acting so jumpy? Was it just the woman that had got his guts all twisted up again, or was it something else? He hated
this guard duty, although he wouldn’t have entrusted the life of his injured friend to anyone else, but he wished Hutch
was with him as backup. He never felt completely whole without the big comforting blond presence and on the occasions he’d
had to work solo, things had never gone particularly smoothly. As he stepped around the corner away from the front door he
suddenly felt a warm arm encircle his throat, pulling him back.
started to struggle his hands up to his throat as he fought to pull the constriction away. At first he thought it may be Marion
up to her crazy tricks again, but as he felt the course hairs on the arm he realised belatedly that the cabin had company.
He fought like a tiger trying every move he could think of to dislodge his attacker from his back but Ramon clung on fiercely.
The two men staggered backwards, Starsky desperately trying to drive his elbow into his attackers midriff, but Ramon was ready
for the standard defensive trick and managed to remain sufficiently out of the way to ensure that any blows that did land
were lacking in any power.
pressure on his throat was tightening and the brunet could feel his lungs beginning to burn with lack of oxygen. His muscles
were refusing to work properly and the man at his back seemed to notice the change too. Suddenly the arm at his throat released
his grip and something heavy and possibly metallic hit Starsky on the back of the head. It was a tooth jarring blow that dropped
the cop immediately to his knees, knocking him sick and temporarily robbing him of clear thought. He felt hands round his
body hauling him to his feet but his arms refused to work properly and he could do nothing for the moment save allow himself
to be manhandled up the steps and into the cabin where Marion looked up in surprise. Traff was nowhere to be seen and Starsky
dropped to his knees, his head hanging down as he hoped the soldier had got to his bedroom.
he was pushed through the door, Starsky managed to gather his strength and struggle to his feet as he yelled ‘Marion…….gun’
before another blow to the side of his head sent him to the ground. Now he looked up in confusion at the woman who remained
stock still, her face an impassive mask.
get your fuckin’ gun’ he snapped again, receiving another blow for his trouble. He hissed in pain and raised his
head again, surprise registering in indigo eyes as Marion smiled at the man behind him.
didn’t you ring?’ Ramon asked coldly.
was a storm, the phone line was down’.
Do you realise how much time we wasted? We could’ve been lookin’ yet. Stupid little bitch!’
couldn’t help it Ramon. I couldn’t govern the weather’ she whimpered, her voice small and cowed.
glared at her, risking another blow. ‘You mean……you were….?’
grinned at him. ‘Uh huh’
the other one?’ Ramon cut in quietly, his hand still on Starsky’s shoulder, keeping the stunned brunet on his
knees. His head lolled forward, his breath gasping through his open mouth. The pains in his head from the blows made him dizzy
and nauseous and he could feel a trickle of blood edging its way down the side of his face.
jerked her head sideways. ‘Bedroom. Leave him to me’ she said softly
anger fuelled him and he brought his head up sharply, trying to stand. ‘You fuckin’ bitch! You mean you…..TRAFF
GET OUT’ his words were cut off as she calmly walked over to him. She drew her foot back and aimed between his spayed
knees, her bare foot catching him squarely in the balls. Despite the lack of shoes, the blow was still full force and the
brunet screamed a raw, animal scream as his hands flew to his groin clutching at the terrible pain the roiled around his guts.
As he leaned forward she grabbed a handful of damp curls and yanked his head back, kissing him savagely on the lips. As she
drew away she forced his head down again.
what you wanted? See what you’ve missed’ she spat as she drew her gun and walked towards Traff’s room.
the bedroom, the soldier had been trying to get himself ready for bed. During the day he’d felt much stronger although
he’d been up for eight hours and the tiredness was washing over him in waves. With only one arm working he’d just
managed to get his good arm out of his tee shirt when he heard the commotion outside in the living room. At first, he thought
it was Marion and his buddy having yet another argument and was prepared to let them get on with it but then he heard a male
voice, Marion and then a spine tingling, animal scream. Starsky!
to get his arm back into his tee shirt, he was temporarily blinded for a moment. He staggered to the back of his bedroom door
just in time to see Marion coming into his room and the dull glint of moonlight on the muzzle of her gun.
he needed to act swiftly and using the element of surprise, he grabbed at the gun with her right hand, swinging the woman
into the room. As she spun towards him he clamped his left hand over her mouth to stifle the shout, hissing in pain as the
movement pulled at the wound on his shoulder. Angry brown eyes shone above his hand as Marion tried to bite at the palm of
his hand and he grappled with her gun hand with his right. With the element of surprise on his side, Marion was unprepared
for the attack, knowing that the soldier was still weak and healing. She was also unprepared for the amount of loyalty that
existed between soldier and cop and just what that loyalty could engender.
he held her right wrist in his right hand with a surprisingly crushing grip she yelped and he forced the gun from her hand.
It dropped with a clatter to the floor and he spun her against the wall, Marion's head hitting the plaster wall with a resounding
thud. She staggered back and he repeated the manoeuvre, left hand still clamped over her mouth. He felt rather than heard
her scream and her body went slack in his arms. Gently he lowered it to the ground and rested his head back against the wall,
grabbing at his throbbing left shoulder with his right hand. His breath whistled in his throat as the pain threatened to overwhelm
him and he swallowed down the burning bile that rose in his throat.
what to do next, he picked up the gun from the floor and hefted it. The warm metal felt good in his hand and he forced his
body up from the wall just as he heard the strange male voice shout.
you value your guard’s life, you’d be better showing yourself now’.
through the crack in the door, he saw Starsky, head handing, blood dripping from cuts on his head and with a gun forced into