The mist hung heavy on the ground at that time of the very
early morning. Highlighted by the moonlight, it swirled in spires and dreamy crenelations above the head stones and cenotaphs
in the graveyard, lending an even more eerie feel to the already cold and lifeless place. Dark shadows played across the misty
path and highlighted the silhouettes of the dips in the ground. An owl hooted in the distance and far off a cat screeched
its unearthly call into the night, issuing a forlorn challenge to any who may listen. There was no other sound, the night
being still with barely a breath of wind.
The dark figure made its way through the stonemasonry, its
head questing back and forth, looking for something. The body was mid height and clothed in navy blue coveralls, collar hunched
against the cold of the early hour. A fringe of dark hair surrounded a balding head and the eyes beneath were beady and bright
as they stared into the darkness. Hands paled by the moonlight into ghostly claws reached out before the man to steady himself
over the rough gravel paths surrounding the grave stones and his soft canvass shoes left no sound as the fog deadened the
noise of his footfalls. On a night like this, a person could believe in ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night.
But the man had no other thoughts than to attain his goal, visions of spectres being far from his head.
He stopped before a large stone structure, eyes dancing over
his find. Perfect! He walked towards the stone mausoleum, which was the size of a small garage and pushed at the small doorway.
Of course it was open! Would a dead man wish to break out of his stony crypt? The man walked into the small stone room, flashing
a torch around him. The area was perhaps 15’ x 12’ and the walls were lined with large stone shelves containing
the effigies of the family whose time on earth had come to an end. The middle of the room was bare and the man nodded to himself.
This was just what he needed. Large enough, but not too large, with sufficient space for his requirements. The air was dry
and cool and held the musty smell of death and decay, but the dirt floor was dry and would serve it's purpose. He chuckled
to himself, the chuckle turning into a maniacal giggle as he rubbed his hands together. Soon. Not yet, but soon, the room
would be put to good use.
Making his way back outside, he headed back through the gloom
to the small pick up truck he’d stolen the previous day. He’d chosen it because it was small and inconspicuous,
the brown paint peeling on its cab and blotched by years of rust and corrosion. The man chuckled to himself again, mumbling
unintelligibly under his breath. The rightful owner of the truck would thank him, being able to collect on the insurance money
and buy himself a shiny new vehicle. For now, this was just what he needed.
Slowly and with great patience, he started to unload the contents
he’d so carefully amassed, piling them into an orderly heap at the side of him, then he locked the truck and pulled
tree branches down over it in an attempt to make it less visible. Only the tail pipe and a small silver piece of fender stuck
out, giving a clue as to it’s location.
The journey from the car back to the crypt was repeated seven
or eight times until all the pile had been moved into the stone crypt and finally, panting with exertion the man lit a candle
and placed it on one of the ledges, its flickering flame making the shadows around the place dance eerily. He extinguished
his torch and sat for a moment regaining his breath and looking around the room. Resting his head back against the rough wall,
he thought that the crypt was not much different from the room he had recently vacated: the same plaster walls and the same
windowless, airless atmosphere. But he knew that the new occupant of the room would have more to worry about than the absence
of a view. He pulled a creased and tattered photograph from his pocket, holding it at an angle so that he could see the face
of the teenage boy looking out at his through the dim light. He kissed it and held it to his face as the tears came unbidden
to his eyes. Poor Gary. Dead before his time. For some minutes the man sobbed into the darkness before wiping the sleeve of
his coveralls over the picture to rid it of the teardrops. Carefully he stowed it back into his pocket and set about his work,
making little or no noise.
First he set about rebuilding a small iron bedstead. It was
the sort beloved by hospitals or, and he chuckled grimly to himself, jails, with barred head and footboards, painted in a
cream, chipped paint. It was a single bed frame and he placed it, when complete, in the very centre of the room, standing
back to admire his handiwork. Next he draped a thin cotton mattress over the bare metal base of the bed. It didn’t quite
fit, and the stains on the cotton fabric looked dark in the dim light. Not the most comfortable bed in the world, but of course,
that wasn’t the point.
Next, and more ominously, he uncoiled a length of rope and
cut it into four. He attached the four white cotton ropes to the four corners of the bedstead, leaving the ends to trail across
the floor and take on the dusty hue of the dirt there and heaped a length of chain and several stout padlocks in the corner
of the room, pocketing the keys. A flimsy table decorated with a battery-operated light completed the set up and the man stood
back to look around. He was ready. Now all he needed was to find the other and bring him back and his life would be complete.
‘It isn’t Christmas if we can’t have a tree’
Starsky said, his eyes wide as he looked in the store window. ‘When I was a kid, Mom used to choose the biggest one
she could find and we’d decorate it out and stick a gingerbread man on top. Nicky and me used to have arguments about
who got to go up the ladder to put it there’.
Hutch smiled at his partner’s reminiscences. His own
Mom had never really got engrossed in the festive season before, stating that it was “a waste of money and not something
that was productive”. So Hutch had never had the pleasure of trees or decorations or eating so much he made himself
sick. The maid had seen to all that and it never failed to amaze him that his 34 year old partner never tired of the childish
But it was a fact that Starsky loved anything childish. Not
that he was childish himself, more child-like, especially when it came to holidays and festivals. Hutch never got over the
look of wonderment on the handsome face or the innocence in the deep indigo blue eyes. Once upon a time, Hutch would have
gotten angry at the brunet for nagging him about the tree. He would have been fed up with Starsky going on ad nauseum about
holidays, or birthdays, or Christmas. But since his partner had survived the five bullets, a code blue and a twelve-month
hellish recovery, he’d adjusted to allowing Starsky full reign of his childish half, revelling in the realisation that
he still had a partner and a best friend.
Gunther’s attack was four years ago, and now, apart from
the thin, silvery scars which marked the brunet’s back and nestled amongst the brown curls on his chest like some crazy
road plan along with the lessened resistance to colds and coughs, Starsky was back to his old self, against all the doctors
most pessimistic predictions. His joie de vivre was no less, in fact the brush with death had seemed to redouble the curly
haired cop's efforts to live life to the full and so now Hutch nodded at the store.
‘Go ahead, Gordo. Go an’ pick the biggest and you
may as well get the candies, the turkey and the beer also. Wouldn’t be Christmas if ya can’t eat too much and
make yourself sick’.
The dark eyebrows furrowed. ‘Are you mocking me?’
‘Moi? Would I?’
‘Only ever opportunity ya get’ the brunet grinned
as he went into the store. He took a trolley and pushed it up and down the aisles, searching for everything he needed. Reaching
over the pile of oranges, he was just about to reach for the biggest, when he caught sight of a familiar face across from
him. He overbalanced and when he’d righted himself, the face had gone, to be replaced by a woman with a cauliflower
hairstyle and thick, horn rimmed glasses. The brunet did a double take, sure he’d seen the face from his past, but then
the excitement of the night overtook him and he continued his shopping, emerging from his mission ten minutes later laden
with a paper sack full of goodies and balancing a large fir tree over his shoulder.
Hutch took the tree from him and tucked it under his arm as
they walked back to the car. As Starsky put his hand on the car door he looked up, just as a figure disappeared around the
corner of the store. He starred after it for a moment, long enough for the blond to follow his gaze.
‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost. What’re
you looking at?’
The brunet shook himself. ‘Oh….nuthin. It was just
….I thought I saw someone’.
Hutch looked around at the crowded street and shrugged. ‘Care
to enlarge? You mean someone you didn’t expect to see?’
‘Yeah, for a minute there I thought it was….never
mind. Get in, the beers getting’ warm’.
The two men got into the car, Hutch sharing his front seat
with the tip of the Christmas tree as Starsky put the sack on the back seat, unzipped his jacket and drove off. The brunet
looked down the side street where he thought he’d seen the figure vanish, but there was no-one to be seen. He shrugged
and drove on.
Arriving at Hutch’s apartment, they got out and went
inside, not noticing the battered old pick up truck drawing in to the side of the road a block back. Starsky had the off sensation
that he was being watched and a shiver ran down his spine as he looked both ways up and down the road. He saw nothing unusual
and shouldered his way into the room as Hutch plucked a couple of bottles of beer from the fridge. He handed one to his partner.
‘Starsk are you sure you’re ok? You look like you’ve
seen a ghost’ he asked.
The curly haired man looked up and grinned self consciously.
‘No, I’m fine. I guess I’m just spooked reading too many Christmas ghost stories. I keep getting that feeling’.
‘Yeah, ya know. That one’.
‘Ooooh, That one! One day Starsk, I’ll swear
you’re gonna start making sense’ Hutch grinned.
The brunet snorted. ‘Ya know, the one where ya feel like
someone just walked over your grave. All shuddery an’…..’
‘Oh that one. Well you’re right. You’ve definitely
been reading too many horror stories. Maybe we shouldn’t do the whole tree thing tonight huh? Maybe just a quiet game
‘No! We got the tree! We’ve gotta do the whole
thing, decorations, the lot. I told ya I’m fine. C’mon, help me start propping that baby up huh?’
That night Starsky leapt to his feet each time a group of kids
came to the door, coins in hand as the children from the neighbourhood sang carols. He was as excited as them and once they’d
all finished singing, the brunet would solemnley dole out quarters before the carolers moved on. About 10:00 there was a lull
in the calls and Hutch decided that it was probably too late for any more callers. They were just about to turn the lights
over the door out when there was a final knock on the door.
Starsky leapt up again, grabbed for the dish and pulled open
the door. But instead of a small group of children, a single body stood in front of him. The figure was as tall as a grown
man and was covered head to foot in a long black gown, and inverted red cross emblazoned on its front. The figure’s
face was covered by a mask in the shape of Edvard Monch’s “The Scream! It stood wordlessly on the doorstep.
Starsky’s mind went into override. 6 years earlier he
had been captured and held captive by Simon Marcus’ cult members who dressed in a similar style of robe. They had beaten
him, poisoned and drugged him and had strung him up in the old civic zoo as they threatened to cut his to shreds and only
Hutch’s timely arrival had stopped him from being killed that day. Marcus had retained his hold over Starsky with a
voodoo type doll which Hutch finally took from the leader’s possession. The whole scene had damaged the brunet for years,
his nightmares always coloured by the sound of the chanting and now, even though he thought he’d gotten over it, the
sight of the figure was almost too much.
Starsky staggered back a step in shock, recovering himself
only with difficulty. He stared at the apparition, gathering his wits.
‘A bit big for carolin’ aren’t ya?’
The figure said nothing. It merely raised a hand slowly and
pointed at the curly haired cop.
‘Mine’ it hissed.
Starsky looked over his shoulder, wondering what “mine”
referred to, but seeing nothing, he turned back ready to give the trick or treater a tongue lashing.
But the figure had vanished.
The brunet looked out onto the street, left and right, but
the whole place was deserted, the children having long since gone home to bed. Shakily, he pushed the door closed and stood
with his back resting against it, calming his breath before he went back into the living room.
‘They were late, weren’t they?’ Hutch asked.
‘Huh?.Late?’ the brunet mumbled as he sat down
heavily on the sofa.
‘Yeah, the kids were late. It’s gone ten’.
‘That wasn’t a kid. Looked like a full sized guy’.
‘What did he want?’ Hutch asked seeing the slight
shiver still radiating through his partner's body.
Starsky looked up, grinning sheepishly. ‘Dunno. But whoever
it was, in that costume he sure scared me. He either belongs in a mental home or a cemetry!’.
That night, as Starsky drove home from his partner’s
house, he couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed. He looked in his rear view mirror time and again, but couldn’t
see anything untoward. Sure there were lights from other cars, but it was difficult to establish whether any of them were
following him or not and mentally he chastised himself. Why should one teenager dressed in a silly, scary costume bother him
But deep down he knew the reason. Why would anyone choose to
wear a black robe with an inverted red cross on it? Unless they were either one of Marcus’ followers comeback to exact
revenge, or someone who knew him and knew the history he had with those freaks.
Still feeling shaky inside, he pulled up outside his apartment
and got out of the car. Somewhere close, someone let off a firework and the explosive noise made him jump out of his skin.
He looked around, self-consciously, but there was no-one around at that late hour and he shuddered, pulling himself together
as he took a deep breath. With an unaccustomed hurry, the brunet got out his door keys and opened the door to his flat, hurrying
inside and closing the door behind him. He leaned his back against it, looking skywards for courage, squeezed his eyes tight
closed, then opened them with a sigh.
C’mon Davey, get your act together. It
was only one weird dude! Sort yourself out.
He reached for the light switch and flicked it down but nothing
happened. He flicked the inanimate object up and down several times to no avail. The interior was not suddenly illuminated
with welcome light and he grunted. Great, a blown fuse! As he made his way, sure-footedly towards his kitchen, he thought
he saw a shadow move at the side of the room and almost ran the last few yards, scrabbling through a kitchen drawer for his
torch. He pushed the button on the flashlight and aimed it in the direction of the shadow. The piercing beam illuminated one
of the Parlour Palms that Hutch had given him to make his apartment feel more welcoming. It’s leaves wafted gently in
the breeze caused by his panicked rush and Starsky sagged back against the countertop, wiping the fine sheen of sweat from
his top lip. Letting out a derisory snort, he used the flashlight to search for the fuse wire before dipping down to the basement
to mend the blown fuse. Moments later, his living room was bathed in a cosy amber glow and he climbed the steps back up to
his front door. A cat ran across his path and he jumped again.
Jeez Davey! Either Librium or Bourbon, but
for Gods sake take care of those nerves!.
Closing the door behind him, he reached under the sink and
took out the bourbon from its resting place at the back. He poured three fingers of the golden liquid into a glass and swallowed
half of it down in one gulp, letting the welcoming fire blaze a trail of courage down his throat. He took the glass to the
bathroom and swallowed the rest down while he took a shower before getting into bed and pulling the sheets up around his ears.
He was about to switch off the light and reached out his hand, but the boyish part of him, the part that still wanted his
Dad to search for monsters under the bed, made him take his hand back. He snuggled down in his bed and closed his eyes, the
soothing glow of the nightlight easing away any latent fears and allowing him to relax into a deep sleep. But the sleep was
anything but relaxing.
‘Lemme go. You don’t know what you’re
doin’. Kidnapping a cop’s a federal offence. You’ll get 8 to 10 for this. Just let me go now huh?’
‘Si-mon didn’t dream your escape’
Brad started the by now familiar litany.
‘I don’t care what the fuck Marcus dreams
about. He’s already inside and there ain’t a whole lot you can do about that now. They aren’t gonna let
him go. He’s a mass murderer. He killed those 9 kids in cold blood. Why d’ya defend him?’.
‘They were legitimate sacrifices. They went
to their deaths knowing they served a higher purpose. You live until Si-mon is sentenced. They won’t sentence the Teacher
until you are free, and we won’t set you free until the Teacher is released’…………….
Starsky fell forward, unable to stop himself from falling
because his hands were secured behind his back. He felt the dirt beneath his body, spitting out a mouthful of the grit and
getting some leverage with his shoulder to push himself upright. As he struggled on the ground, he heard the start of the
familiar chant and fear gripped his guts, churning them into knots.
Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon.
He managed to get himself into a kneeling position, his
head a blaze of pain. He felt dizzy and nauseous, fear vying with panic to grab a hold of his precarious clutch on reality
and he knew the only way to preserve his dignity and to give himself some courage was to let go of his steely hold on the
famous Starsky temper. He gathered it to him, feeling it well up inside his chest as he knelt unsteadily on the ground. He
could feel people around him, their voices coming from all directions and he yelled out at them
‘SHUDDUP! I know you’re out there, I can
smell ya’ the sound of his own angry voice gave him a measure of comfort and he tried again, louder above the chanting.
Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon
‘You’re wasting your time, d’ya
Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon
‘Quit the chantin’. That ain’t gonna
save Marcus either. I know you’re out there, I can smell ya. I can smell every one of ya’ he yelled into the blackness
of the blindfold.
But still the chanting continued, closer now. He could feel
the waft of material near his head and body. He ducked his head down, losing his balance so that once more he fell onto his
side, curling himself into a ball. He could feel the pressure of countless bodies now, coming ever closer to him, their chanting
becoming louder and more insistent so that it began to blot out all his other thoughts. He was alone. He was bound and alone.
He was bound, blindfold and alone!...
‘What’s going on?’ he asked as he
watched the girl on the ground take the same knife he’d seen her with before. She seemed to be drawing symbols with
it on the hard earth at his feet, leaning first to one side, then the other before taking the knife’s blade and holding
it to her lips, kissing it and running her cheek tenderly against it.
Like a cat rubbing itself against a favourite chair.
Starsky watched her. The light of recognition was virtually
extinguished from her eyes and as he watched she stood in front of him, her enormous eyes focussed on his chest. He eyed the
wicked looking knife.
‘We’ve been this way before’ he
muttered, trying to get her to look at his face so that he could establish some sort of contact. She glanced up at him, sadness
in her eyes.
‘They’re all watching’ she whispered.
‘Si-mon dreamed they would watch’
Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon
‘You’re gonna kill me’ Starsky tried
to shock her out of her reverie. ‘Yes you are…..you’re gonna kill me’. he said low and as levelly
as he could. But he knew this was it. This was the moment the cultists had been preparing for. They’d told him 24 hours
was all he had, and this time yesterday he was showering and getting ready to go to court.
Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon, Si-mon
‘And your friends are gonna watch’
‘No, I’m not goin’ to kill you’
Gail said timorously
Yesterday. Just an ordinary day. Washing, shaving, dressing,
taking the Blintz to Merle’s to have his car tuned. Just another day. The start of his last 24 hours on earth. Would
he have done things differently if he’d known what was going to happen to him? Too late to think of that now. Too late
to think of anything except the remote possibility that he could talk Gail out of her programming. He looked back at her again
and she returned his gaze.
‘Thou shalt not k kill…. shalt not…..
they’re all watching’. She looked at the men surrounding them. They’d set up their chant again, an insistent
sound pounding at Starsky’s consciousness and taking away Gail’s free will.
The glint of the sun on the knife and the feeling of impending
doom shook Starsky from the nightmare. He struggled, his sweat slick legs entwined in the sheets from his bed and his breath
coming in ragged gasps. It had been years since he’d dreamed of Simon Marcus and his freaks, years since he’d
had the feeling that they were still watching him, but he knew deep down that this was, once again, only a dream. Marcus was
still in prison, the Judge having sentenced him to 30 years for the murder of the 9 children and a further 5 for Starsky’s
kidnap. Marcus wasn’t going anywhere, and his followers had disappeared into the night. It was 6 years since anyone
had heard from them. It couldn’t be them.
The brunet pulled himself out of bed and padded into his kitchen,
putting on the lights along the way. He was thoroughly rattled and any thought of walking anywhere in the dark made him feel
chilled and, he admitted to himself, scared.
Pulling open the fridge door he stared at the content. Milk?
Fruit juice? He slammed the door shut and reached for the bourbon. One more shot of courage and he’d go back to bed.
Looking at his watch he saw it was 3:30am. Not even the early rising Hutch would be awake at that time. He poured the fire
water down his throat and picked up his model boat building magazine. Heading back to his bedroom, he rearranged the pillows
and sat up reading until the first hint of dawn coloured the night sky. His eyes were heavy and he was just about to award
himself an hours sleep before work when the telephone rang, making his nerves jangle in time with the bell.
Starsky looked at his watch. 5:45. Who the hell wanted him
at 5:45? He flung back the sheets and sat on the edge of the bed as he picked up the phone.
There was the sound of nervous fidgeting on the other end before
a familiar voice said ‘Starsky?’
‘Its erm….its Mickey’.
The brunet recognised the small snitch’s wheezing, shaky
tones. ‘Mickey its not even 6 o’clock. Ya want bailin’ out again, you’re gonna have to sit it out
till at least 9’ Starsky said impatiently. In all the time he’d used the little man, he’d never really known
whether to trust him or not, but he’d given him useful leads in the past, and in return Starsky bailed him out, dried
him out and sometimes gave him money for his next fix when he could see he was hurting too much. It was a kind of love hate
‘No, no Starsky. I don’t want no bail money. I
got a lead for ya. A real good one’.
‘And ya wait till the middle of the night to tell me?
Can’t it wait?’
‘Well that’s the thing, see. I gotta see ya. I
gotta see ya now. Private like’.
‘Hutch an’ me are on duty in two hours. Can’t
it wait till then?’ the brunet yawned and rubbed his hand down his face. What he wouldn’t give for a lie down
in a darkened room!
‘NO’ the little man emphasised. ‘No, not
Hutch. Just you. I need to see just you Starsky. It’s important. An’ it’ll be worth your while’.
The urgency in the snitch’s voice penetrated the cop’s
weariness. He yawned again.
‘If it aint, I’m gonna make sure you’re hounded
for every vagrancy and loitering misdemeanour goin’ Ya got that? Where an’ when?’
‘Now. soon as ya can. And somewhere real quiet. I don’t
want to be seen by anyone……the cemetery over on the north side’.
‘Aww c’mon Mickey!. The cemetery? Goin’ a
bit far aren’t ya? Look, I could see ya maybe round the back of the Pits. That’ll be quiet at this time of the
day. Shit, anywhere’d be quiet at this time of the day!’
‘I wanna be sure! The cemetery. Follow the main road
through and take the third branch left. I’ll be waitin’ And remember to come alone and unarmed. I don’t
like guns Starsky, ya know that. They make me nervous. No Hutch. This is for your ears only, capiche?’
‘Yeah, I got it. Gimme 30 minutes’ Starsky said
tiredly and put the phone down. Great. After the night he’d had the cemetery was probably the last place he wanted to
go, but Mickey sounded as though it wouldn’t wait.
Quickly he struggled into his pale blue jeans and added his
sky blue zip fronted hooded cardigan. It was loose enough for his purpose. He took his gun from its holster and pushed it
down the back of his jeans, feeling it’s comforting weight against his spine. He may be being suckered by Mickey, but
he wasn’t going to go in unarmed. The sky blue top felt warm and cosy in the cool of the early morning and covered the
gun perfectly. Being, as Hutch called him, a neat freak, he pulled the covers straight on his bed, smoothed down the cover
and turned off the light before gathering his keys and heading for the car.
Chapter 3 – November 1st
Starsky pulled into the cemetery at about 6:15. The sky was
becoming lighter, the sun trying to force it’s way above the horizon, but it was still gloomy enough that he’d
needed the headlights and now he pulled off the road and drove through the enormous wrought iron gates as they stood guard
at the entrance to the graveyard. It never failed to amuse the brunet that a cemetery, of all places would have gates. Was
anyone really going to break out? He didn’t think so.
The mist lay still across the pathways, lending an ethereal
air to the open spaces of the graveyard. He looked this way and that, peering through the gloom hoping that he could see Mickey
making his way through the maze of headstones. The one thing he really didn’t want to do was to have to go to the very
centre of this godforsaken place in the dark and with the fog still laying thick on the ground. Stone angels and statues loomed
out of the mist, standing sentinel over their respective graves and the already spooked cop’s imagination worked overtime,
imagining that they could somehow come to life and follow him. Nervously he looked in the rear view mirror, half expecting
to see some apparition on the back seat of the Torino. Too many black and white horror films he decided. That and too much
time reading horror stories as a kid. He pushed the spooky thoughts to the back of his mind and concentrated on his goal.
Starsky counted out the pathways off the main road through
the graveyard, turning right at the third one, as Mickey had instructed. The road was rough and the big red car bounced along
the roadway as the brunet peered though the windscreen trying to make out the figure of the little snitch between the grave
markers. The land dipped downwards, towards a hollow filled with fog, the land seemingly stuffed with cotton candy and some
irrational fear made Starsky not want to enter it. Not that he though there were monsters or ghosts. He just had a bad feeling,
his cop senses tingling as he eased his foot down onto the break pedal, slowing the momentum of the big car.
At the bottom of the hill, he drew to a stop. The fog here
was thicker and the beams of the headlights drilled two narrow illuminated golden passages through the mist, cutting his world
down to binocular vision. He wound down his window to see if he could hear any sound from the outside, but the fog muffled
sounds as well and he felt as though he was on a another planet, the only human being in the universe. “The only living
boy in New York” the words of the Simon and Garfunkel song ran round his head.
The curly haired cop turned off the engine and sat in the big
car for a few minutes, his hands playing with the steering wheel as he tried to see through the fog surrounding him. But no
figure emerged. There was no sign of Mickey and Starsky cursed under his breath. He realised he’d been suckered and
he started to think of all the unpleasant things he’d do to the little man when he got hold of him next. He was just
about to switch the engine back on and get out of the white blanketed world when he heard a noise behind him. It was part
way between a cough and a giggle, and just the sort of noise he’d expect the snitch to make. Hand on the door handle,
he swiftly opened the door and stepped out into the cool, cloying mist, feeling the moisture begin to cling to his hair and
‘Mickey?’ he said loudly. There was no answer.
‘C’mon Mickey. It’s too early for games.
I’m tired. Quit fooling around huh?’
Still no response, but Starsky fancied he heard a footstep
at the side of him and twirled around to try to see who was there. The fog covered up all signs of life and muffled further
sounds. Now, his heart was beginning to hammer in his chest, and carefully and quietly he took the Smith and Wesson from its
hiding place at his back, caressing the heavy, body-warmed metal in his left hand. With his right, he pulled back the chamber,
cocking the weapon and instantly felt a little more secure. His eyes scanned the area.
‘Mickey, I’m getting’ tired of this. Hutch
aint here. its just me. Tell me what ya have to an’ then we can both get outa here’ he shouted into the pale fog.
There it was again. A distinct footfall now, to his left. He
turned, bringing the weapon up to waist height, a defensive posture, designed more for his own peace of mind than for firing.
‘Over here’ the thin voice called, shaking him
to the core. He’d fully expected the little man to come limping out of the mist to meet him, but to have Mickey calling
him over was unusual and his heightened senses braced.
‘No. you come over here ya little weasel’ he shouted,
his right hand on his car, an anchor in the misty, monochrome world. His car was his security blanket, a haven of peace and
normality and not much would drag him away from his baby.
‘Can’t……need to see ya’ the voice
sounded again, an edge to it this time, though whether it was fear, pain, or something else, Starsky wasn’t sure. He
only knew that, despite his better judgement, he needed to check it out. He took a step forward, letting go of the cold damp
metal of his Torino, his head questing left and right. In this cotton candy world he felt off balance and unsure and he walked
slowly and carefully toward where he thought Mickey’s voice was.
‘Hey Mickey. Where are ya?’ Starsky called, trying
to get a fix on the snitch’s location.
‘Over here’ came the reply, but this time from
the back of him. How could he have turned around in a circle? But he obviously had in the blinding fog. The brunet turned
and walked back, following the voice.
‘I can’t see ya Mickey. Say again. Where are ya?’
he shouted, his voice muffled. He tasted the metallic tang of the fog in his tongue and wanted to wash his mouth out, to rid
himself of the dirty taste.
This time the voice was away off at his right hand side and
again he seemed to be walking away from his target.
‘That’s it Mickey. Quit playin’ games, I’m
not in the mood. C’mon and show yourself huh? Or I’m just gonna get back in the car an’ go’.
‘No, don’t go. I’m right here. Over here’.
Starsky darted sideways towards the voice, this time much faster
and as he got to the spot he thought he’d fixed with his eyes, he thought he saw a figure moving in the fog, the thick
mist swirling as though it had been disturbed by a passing body. The brunet’s breath was coming in rasping breaths now.
The cemetery was not his favourite place at the best of times. But to be in a fog laden, dark cemetery, on his own and playing
hide and seek with an insignificant snitch was way down on his top ten list of “experiences to be enjoyed”. He
grabbed out blindly, hoping to snag the passing man, but his hands hit thin air and for an irrational second, Starsky thought
he was chasing a ghost. He grabbed out again and this time, the very tips of his fingers brushed against something substantial.
Something wearing a rough material, and to his knowledge, ghosts didn’t wear denim. There again, he couldn’t remember
the last time Mickey had worn denim either!
‘Mickey ya fuckin’ creep! Stand still. Show yourself’
Starsky shouted, and edge of desperation in his voice now.
He saw another flash of movement in a thinner patch of fog
and dashed forwards again, this time managing to catch a fleeting hold of a man’s arm, and his temper snapped.
‘Ok enough. I’m goin’ back to my car an’
I’m goin’. Enough fun an’ games. Ya had your chance. Don’t come runnin’ to me next time ya need
money for a fix, coz I aint playin along’ Starsky yelled, trying to decide which direction his car was. He turned around,
but the fog had closed in again, although the sky was becoming lighter.
Suddenly the fog parted slightly and in front of him the small
man stood, smiling innocently up at him. Mickey looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, his eyes giving
nothing away as he gazed sweetly at the cop.
‘I couldn’t find you in the fog’ he explained.
‘Well I was bellowin’ enough. Couldn’t ya
follow my voice?’ Starsky asked impatiently.
‘Sorry Starsky. But I’m here now’ the snitch
said, his eyes darting backwards and forwards, refusing to meet the brunet’s indigo blues. Mickey was uncomfortable
and Starsky knew it, but couldn’t at the moment decide why.
‘So, what did ya have to drag me out here for?’
‘We needed to be alone’.
‘Terrific. So we’re alone. Tell me what ya got
an’ then we can both get outa here’.
‘Well, it’s not as simple as that’.
‘What d’ya mean, not as simple as that?’
the brunet’s temper was beginning to fray again and he really wanted to wrap his hands around the little man’s
neck and ring the truth from him.
‘Well, like I said, I wanted to be alone’.
The cop sighed. ‘Ya wanna search the car? Ya think I
have Hutch in the trunk or sumthin? I am alone’.
‘No, you’re not’ Mickey said, his eyes flicking
over the brunet’s shoulder.
Starsky turned, his gun in his hand, ready to fire if need
be, but as he turned, slightly off balance, a foot appeared from nowhere and kicked his weapon from his grasp. Starsky gasped
in surprise as he heard his gun rattle on the ground, his eyes widening as another figure loomed out of the mist. He had time
only to register shock, fear and recognition before the figure pounced on him, dragging him to the ground. Starsky fell backwards,
the back of his head hitting the concrete path with a tooth shuddering blow and for a second he saw stars, the white foggy
world spinning before him. Bile rose in his throat and he swallowed it down, it’s bitterness burning at his sensitive
tissues and his eyes teared involuntarily
His assailants hands were all over him now, punching and ripping
at him and he used his hands to try to fend off the attack. The heavy body was knelt over him, straddling his own body so
that he couldn’t get enough purchase to rise or knock the other man off his legs. He stared up into the familiar face
just as the man brought the cotton rag soaked in chloroform up and pushed it over the brunet’s nose and mouth. Starsky’s
eyes flew wide in panic and he tried to hold his breath, but the shock of the attack had made his breathing more rapid and
he couldn’t hold out against the desperate need to take a breath. Sucking in air, he smelled the sickly sweet smell
of the drug and felt its immediate effect. His mind blurred and his eyes fought to close as the blood thundered in his ears.
He couldn’t pass out. Not now. Not with this madman bending
over him. He forced his eyes open and looked imploringly at Mickey, but the small man merely looked back, not lifting a finger
to help as eventually the drug took full effect and Starsky’s hand, that had been reaching for his assailant’s
throat sagged back to flop lifelessly down onto the ground.
Slowly the other man got up, panting with exertion.
‘Help me get him into the crypt’ he said as Mickey
bent down and took a hold of Starsky limp torso. The other man grasped the denim clad legs and together they carried the unconscious
form into the stone fortress, pushing the door closed behind them. Quickly, the man took the keys from Starsky’s pocket
and threw them to Mickey.
‘Take that big red machine and hide it. I don’t
care where, just so long as Hutch don’t find it. And Gary, be careful’.
Mickey caught the keys and sighed. ‘I aint Gary’
he mumbled as he went out to drive the Torino away.
Hutch hummed to himself as he looked at his shaving foam encrusted
face in the mirror. Last night, after Starsky had left to go home, he’d had a phone call from Sarah, his girlfriend
and they’d spent time chatting and making love down the phone wires. She was away in Tulsa for the next couple of days,
her job as an air stewardess taking her away far more than either of them particularly liked, but they’d perfected the
art of virtual sex and by the time he’d gotten off the telephone, Hutch needed a cold shower and a beer. He’d
slept well after that, dreaming of her long brown hair and melting green eyes and he’d woken in the early hours of the
morning with his arms wrapped around the pillow, a substitute for her lithe body. He grinned at himself. Crazy guy! Being
so much in love with someone that he dreamed about them every night. But there again, he spent a lot of time dreaming dreams
of himself and his brunet partner. Not sexual dreams, obviously, but since the shooting, when he’d spent long nights
next to Starsky’s bed while he fought for life, he’d often had nightmares about the curly haired man not being
there. At the beginning he’d woken up screaming Starsky’s name into the dark, shivering and shaking and wet with
cold sweat. In those first months of the brunet’s recovery, Hutch had spent nights refusing to go to sleep for fear
he’d have that same recurring nightmare. And then Starsky had questioned him about the black circles under his eyes
and the pale, pasty complexion, the long, straggly hair and the increase in weight.
It had taken Hutch a long time to admit to Starsky, and more
importantly to himself that he was scared to death of losing his best friend. Almost too scared. It was almost unhealthy to
be so close, he knew, but it couldn’t be helped. They weren’t lovers. They’d never wanted each others body,
but they needed each other’s touch, the sound of their partner’s voice to be able to feel whole. Conjoined twins
Dobey had once called them and he’d chuckled at the thought. Yes they were inseparable, and even Sarah, and Erin, Starsky’s
current girl knew they had to share their men. After Starsky’s recovery, his dreams turned to the more gentle variety:
dreams of them camping, fishing, chasing down the flakes on their patch, but always together. Never crowding each other, but
never apart for very long.
Hutch without Starsky was like salt without pepper or day without
night. It was wrong, unnatural and now, as he finished dragging the thin, sharp blade across his smooth tanned skin, the blond
wondered whether his partner had slept well. When he’d left the previous night, Starsky had looked uncomfortable and
Hutch had ribbed him about getting too spooked at a childish horo story. He’d almost been tempted to phone Starsky to
see if he was OK, but thought better of it, knowing the brunet would be mad at him if he behaved in his “mother hen”
mode, as Starsky usually referred to his coddling.
Wiping away the white, foamy residue from his face, Hutch walked
back into his bedroom removed the towel from his waist and started to get dressed. Brown cargo pants, a cream coloured polo
shirt and a deep brown over shirt to hide his holster and his soft brown desert boots. He regarded himself briefly in the
mirror. After the months of self neglect when he’d concentrated on Starsky’s recovery, the brunet had encouraged
him to get back into shape and now, after his three times per week sessions in the gym, the swimming and the horse back riding,
he was trimmer than he’d ever been, the muscles in his upper body and arms rippling lightly beneath his polo shirt and
the belt cinching in his pants around his slim waist above the flat plain of his stomach. With his hair cut shorter, he looked
handsome, toned and tanned and younger than his 36 years.
Checking his gun, he inserted it into his holster and with
a final check in the mirror to make sure it wasn’t showing, he headed for the door, picking up his car keys along the
way. Gone was the battered brown LTD of his past. Starsky and Sarah had finally worked on him enough that he went out and
bought something more modern. Surprising even himself, he came back from a shopping trip the proud owner of a bright red Ford
Mustang which even Starsky was slightly envious of and so now, years after the brunet had told him he hated riding in his
car, Hutch did almost as much driving as Starsky had.
Getting into the car, enjoying the feeling of the sun on his
face with the top down, the blond started the engine and drove through the early morning sunbeams to Starsky’s apartment.
While he had a new car and the brunet had a new apartment, some things never changed, and Hutch was not surprised to see that
the curtains were still drawn in the Starsky household. With a deep sigh of resignation, he got out of the car, knowing merely
pipping the horn wouldn’t work and walked up the short path to his partner’s front door. He hammered on it.
‘Starsky will you get your butt outa that bed. Dobey’ll
have out guts for garters if we’re late again’ he thundered, as he waited for the brunet to make his drowsy way
from his bedroom to let him in. He waited a moment before knocking again, this time even more persistently.
‘Yo, Gordo. C’mon!’
Impatiently, he waggled the door handle, surprised when he
felt it give below his hand. It wasn’t like Starsky to leave his door unlocked at night, he was the most security conscious
guy Hutch had ever known. While Hutch’s mid western upbringing had him happy to leave the door on the latch or the key
on the lintel above his door, Starsky’s tough childhood in New York made him more streetwise and cautious. Slowly he
pushed the door open and went in.
‘Starsky, are you ok?’ he shouted, looking around
the neat and tidy living room. It was always a source of amusement to Hutch that his friend was so tidy. He referred to him
as a neat freak and it was an apt description. Even after the hardest day on the streets, Starsky would come back home and
carefully fold up his clothes, dumping his laundry into the basket. And he always washed up immediately a meal was finished.
There was no answer and Hutch began to worry. The brunet had
been quiet when he left last night. Was he sick? He walked through the living room, looking around him. All was tidy and in
order. Nothing to indicate anything was wrong. He got to the bedroom door and paused. If Starsky was still sleeping he was
going to be mighty pissed at Hutch for finding him asleep on a work morning. But a pissed Starsky was preferable to a pissed
Dobey. He pushed the door open and walked in, crossing to the window to draw back the curtains. Sunlight flooded into the
room and Hutch turned to the bed. It was empty, the sheets neatly arranged as though it had never been slept in. What the
hell was going on? He pulled the sheets back and felt the bed. It was still vaguely warm, the sheets still smelling faintly
of Starsky’s scent, a mixture of sandalwood and herbal shampoo. So. He’d slept in the bed, and had only got up
The blond rushed back into the living room and checked the
coat stand that stood behind the front door. Starsky’s jacket was there, as was his holster, minus the gun. Wherever
the brunet was, he was armed. Ducking back outside and round the corner, he saw that the Torino was missing too. Hutch ran
back down the path and reached into his car for the microphone. He pushed the button.
‘Zebra 3 to control’
The woman’s voice sounded across the airwaves.
‘Go ahead zebra 3’
‘Can you patch me through to Starsky hon? Hutch asked
Elaine, one of the new girls in the patch room.
‘Sure thing Hutch. Hang on’. He heard her punch
buttons on her consol and her voice asking for Starsky to respond and then she came back on his line.
‘No response from him Hutch. Is he ok. I thought you
two were due on duty this morning’.
‘So did I’ the blond grunted. ‘Can ya try
again, just to be sure?’
Elaine worked her magic again, but the result was the same.
‘Sorry Hutch, nothing. The mic. is live, but he’s not responding. Can I do anything else for you?’
Panic grabbed at Hutch’s chest. He ran his fingers through
his short, flaxen hair. ‘No. No thanks honey. I’m coming in’. He put the handset back on the cradle and
took a final look around. There was no sign of his partner or his car and he started his own vehicle up, a V furrowing the
otherwise smooth forehead. Where was Starsky? And what did all this mean? Swiftly he pushed the selector into drive and headed
for the Metro, pulling up in the garage a scant 20 minutes later. He got out of the car and rushed up the stairs and along
to Dobey’s office. Nothing much had changed in the passing years. Dobey had been offered another precinct – a
promotion of sorts, but he’d refused, enjoying the camaraderie and comfort of the familiar surroundings. Now, as Hutch
walked into his office without the herald of a knock, the black man looked up, his face no different, his eyes still as bright
and inquisitive and only a sprinkling of grey hairs to show the passage of time.
‘Hutchinson will there ever be a time when you or that
partner of your have the courtesy to knock?’
The blond cop snickered, but the mirth was short lived. ‘Have
you heard from Starsky this morning?’ he asked without preamble.
‘I went out pick him up for work and he and his car are
missing. I’m worried’.
Dobey’s head snapped up. ‘When did you last see
‘We were at mine last night. You know Starsk. He wanted
to celebrate the beginning of Christmas. He went home about 11:00. I haven’t seen him since’.
‘And his apartment doesn’t show any signs of a
struggle?’ Dobey asked, settled immediately into detective mode.
‘No. Nothing. His rooms were tidy, as usual and his bed
had been slept in, but he’d made it before he went out. Wherever he went he wasn’t in too much of a hurry’.
‘Well, you know your partner. Sometimes he gets the strangest
notions into his head. Give him a while, he’s bound to be in touch’ Dobey said calmingly.
But Hutch wasn’t so easily placated. ‘I dunno Cap’n.
I’ve just got a bad feeling. Something’s wrong’.
‘Hutch, ever since Starsky’s shooting you have
these feelings regularly. Its natural. After we nearly lost him, we all feel overprotective. But its only been a few hours.
Give him a while an’ lets see how this works out huh? If you still haven’t heard from him by…’ he
looked at his watch ‘six this evening, then we’ll re-evaluate. That’s 10 hours from now. Just you see, he’ll
come strutting back in here soon like a dog with two dicks looking for you and wondering what all the fuss is about’.
Hutch nodded, trying to feel reassured. ‘Yeah, you’re
right’ he said unconvincingly. ‘He’s probably in bed somewhere with the lovely Erin, tucked up nice and
warm and comfortable’ the blond said as he walked out of the office.
Across town, Starsky was indeed in bed, but not the sort that
Hutch had envisaged. The brunet opened his eyes with a low groan. Or at least he thought he’d opened his eyes, but try
as he might he couldn’t see a damned thing and he realised he was either blind, or was lying in the pitch black.
Starsky came around from the effects of the chloroform slowly,
his head aching both from the drug and from the blow it received when it smashed into the pathway in the cemetery. The headache
was accompanied by a dry throat and a sickly, empty feeling in the pit of his stomach and he longed for a glass of cool water
to revive him and take away his discomfort, but had the feeling that such kindnesses may be in short supply.
The brunet groaned into the dark and opened his eyes. Or at
least he thought he’d opened his eyes, but there seemed to be no difference between having his eyes open and closed.
Whichever way, he could see nothing but cloying, velvety blackness so thick he felt he could cut it with a knife. Was he blindfolded?
He tried to touch his face but realised belatedly that his arms wouldn’t move. They seemed to be secured above his head,
and his ankles were similarly immobilised. He was laying flat on his back and beneath him he felt some sort of cover over
a set of thin metal rods. He panicked and started to pull at his bonds, feeling the pull on the ropes around his wrists as
the fibres started to abrade his skin. He shouted out into the darkness but the place he was in muffled his shout, the air
having a deadening quality to it.
The cop stopped struggling for a moment, the breath whistling
in his throat as he stared into the pitch black, trying to make out forms, shapes, anything which would give him a reference
point to help him establish where he was. The air around him was dry and cool, bordering on cold and had a strange, unpleasant
smell which he couldn’t quite place. It was almost like earth – the sort of smell when you dug down into the dry
dirt and found it damp a few inches down. As though he was below ground.
That thought sent his pulse racing again and he tried to calm
himself, feeling around with his fingers to find out what he was bound to. They hit cold metal bars and he ran his fingers
along them to the limits of his bonds before trying to move his feet too. He seemed to still have his shoes on, and his jeans,
but his sweatshirt had been opened at the front, exposing his chest to the cool air and he shivered now, partly from the cold
and partly from fear. Without being able to see, he had the desperate and horrific idea that maybe he’d been buried
somewhere. Buried alive! Oh my God! His worst nightmare come true.
Starsky had always had a fear of the dark. Not the sort that
made him want to leave the lights on when he went to sleep. Or the sort that made him shy to go into a dark building. But
it was a fear nonetheless and one of his childhood nightmares had been to wake up and never be able to see again. This was
his nightmare, re-enacted in all it’s terrifying glory and it set up a sheen of sweat to cover his body as he tried
to calm the beating of his heart. Again he pulled at his bonds, the lucid part of his brain telling him it was pointless while
the other, animal part willing to do anything in order to escape.
‘HELP’ he yelled.
The sound appeared muffled in the stuffy silence, but he continued
anyway, desperate to make someone, anyone, hear that he was there, alive and waiting to be rescued.
‘Hey, can anyone hear me? Help. Lemme out. HELP’
he yelled into the darkness and paused for a moment to try to gauge whether anyone had heard him or not. He heard nothing,
then, at the very periphery of his hearing there was a tiny scratching sound, like nails on stone. He stopped breathing, the
better to hear the noise, trying to decipher it’s meaning. And then the realisation hit. The one thing he hated more
than the dark. Rats! He strangled a sob, his heart hammering in his chest and yelled pitifully into the darkness
‘NOOOOO. Motherfuckers! HEEEEEEEELP’.
The sound of the tiny paws caused him to pull again against
his bonds, feeling the rope pull and chafe at his skin until both wrists felt raw and uncomfortable.
‘HUTCH!…… ANYBODY!’ Nothing. But at
least the shouts seemed to keep the rodents at bay. Thankful for small mercies, Starsky kept up his shouting at intervals
until his voice was raw and rasping and the pains in his head pounded him into submission. He lay still, cramps now starting
to pull at the muscles of his shoulders from being confined in one position for so long. How long had it been? How long had
he been here, since he’d been drugged and overpowered. And why?
Well the why was easy enough. His captor had issues. That was
the correct psychological term for the madman. Issues that centred around Starsky. Without the psycho, techno babble. He wanted
Starsky dead, and the way things seemed to be playing out, the brunet realised that very soon he’d get his wish.
The air felt stuffy to him now, thick, as though he could cut
it with a knife and breathing seemed difficult although whether from panic, or because of lack of oxygen, he wasn’t
Starsky lay still for a moment trying to send out mental
thought waves to his partner. Come get me Blondie. Hutch? Find me huh? I’m scared.
The brunet’s breathing sounded loudly in his ears and
he realised he was hyperventilating. He made a conscious effort to calm himself. It wouldn't do to die of hypoxia before he
died of anything else, he thought, grimly.
Ok think. He was at the cemetery. Mickey had called him and
he saw Mickey right? Yeah, that was right. He saw the weasely little snitch right before he got jumped. Surely someone must
find his car. A huge candy apple red “parade float” as his partner called it, was difficult to hide and difficult
to disguise. Maybe he just needed to wait for someone to call in an abandoned car. And Hutch would start to look for him as
soon as he was found missing from his apartment.
That thought calmed him a little. The thought of the big blond
searching for him gave him a measure of comfort. Hutch wouldn’t give up. Hutch would find him even if others couldn’t.
But would he find him in time?
Subdued by this sobering thought, Starsky lay back, wincing
as the back of his head met the hard unforgiving mattress. His head felt lumpy and swollen and he knew he’d gone down
with a blow. He was bruised and maybe even concussed.
Suddenly his ears heard something else. Not the patter of the
tiny rat claws on the stonework this time. It sounded like a key being inserted into a lock. Maybe he wasn’t buried
alive at all! The thought gave Starsky renewed vigour and he yelled again.
‘In here. I’m in here. HELP’ he stopped and
listened. The small noises had stopped and the brunet was just about to shout again when he saw a sliver of light illuminating
the darkness about 15’ away. He looked up and blinked, forcing his head up from the bed so that, in the meagre light
he could see his surroundings. He had only a moment to register the stone effigies around him, the dirt floor and the bed
to which he was tied before the light was extinguished as the familiar figure closed the door to the crypt behind him. Starsky
shivered in the cool breeze from the opened door and tried to remain calm as the man walked towards him.
‘Its no use shouting. There’s no-one around. This
part of the cemetery was full up years ago. Not many visitors down this end now. If they do find you, it’ll be too late’
the soft voice sounded as the man lit a candle and placed it onto one of the stone shelves.
‘You’ll never get away with this’ Starsky
growled, anger now forcing his fear to the background.
‘But I have got away with it. More than once. Its amazing
what a crazy ticket does for you. They can never disprove that I’m crazy’.
‘Tell that to the two cops ya killed’.
There was a soft snicker. ‘Or maybe to that girl of yours.
How long did she live? Just long enough for you to have a little hope that the doctors had made a mistake’.
‘Shuddup!’ Starsky yelled. ‘Just shuddup
Prudholm. Don’t ever talk about Terri again, ya hear’ Starsky yelled yanking at the ropes binding his wrists to
the bed. He so wanted to grind his fists into the madman’s face. And he so wished he’d done it all those years
ago, when he’d had him in the warehouse. When he and Hutch had gone in on the back of the bike and taken down Crazy
George and his two henchmen.
Starsky vividly remembered kneeling over the older man, fist
drawn back to deliver a crippling blow, and Prudholm’s face leering back up at his. ‘Ya can’t touch me…..I’m
crazy’ he’d said. And the Judge had agreed and sentenced the criminal to life in Cabrillo State. So why wasn’t
Prudholm still behind maximum security at the mental hospital?
The brunet stopped struggling. ‘What’re ya gonna
do now?’ he asked quietly.
‘I’m gonna make you suffer’.
‘You know what for’ Prudholm ground out, slaming
his fist into the mattress beside Starsky’s head. The brunet didn’t flinch, instead locking eyes with the madman
and waging a silent war of wills.
‘Gary died in jail. He died coz he was a junkie. It wasn’t
anything t’do with me’ Starsky said slowly, as if explaining something complicated to a young child.
‘He wouldn’t have been in jail if you hadn’t
have taken him’.
‘Prudholm, just…..just let me up huh? We can talk
this through. I can get ya help’
‘Help?’ Prudholm giggled. ‘Help? It
ain’t me that’s gonna need the help boy. I’m not the one tied to the bed’. The older man looked away
and muttered to himself. Starsky strained to here the mad ravings. Gary's not himself...gotta calm him down...get him something
t'make it easier. Garys...no, not Gary...freakin' cop. Not Gary it's Starsky...Starsky. Yeah but Gary needs ya...Gary...NO
The brunet realised that whatever had caused PRudholm to be
released, he was far from sane. He tried to be reasonable, making his voice low and quiet, ‘Prudholm…..George.
Listen to me. Lemme go now and I can talk to the Judge for ya. Get ya some better accommodation maybe. Somewhere nice’.
‘Nowhere’s nice in there. Nowhere’s nice
without Gary. An’ you killed him. You killed my son, my boy. You deserve to suffer like I’ve suffered’ the
man said, his voice cracking and on the verge of collapse.
‘And ya think I haven’t?’ Starsky said softly.
‘Ya think I don’t think of Terri every single day? Ya think I didn’t think about killing myself coz she
was gone? She was innocent. She’d done nothing ‘cept be my lady, but that was enough for you wasn’t it?
Enough for you to want to get to me through her. Well now ya got me. So what’re ya gonna do? Shoot me? Fine. Go ahead.
I’m good ‘n’ ready. But Hutch’ll come after ya. An’ if not Hutch, there’ll be others.
You’ll never get away with it Prudholm. An’ an insanity plea won’t cut it this time’.
‘Shoot you? No, that’s way too quick for you, cop.
I’ve got something much more special for you. How long d’ya think it takes to starve to death? One week? Two?
Think again. With just enough water, I can keep you alive for months, slowly wastin’ away till there aint nothing left
of ya but skin an’ bone, hurtin’ so much you’ll plead with me to end it’.
‘You’re fuckin’ crazy’ Starsky spat
out at him. ‘You’re beyond crazy!’
Prudholm grinned at him as he slowly walked back to the shelf
to the candle. He picked it up, the yellow, flickering light sending the shadows dancing across his face, the eyes abnormally
bright as he imagined the curly haired cop’s final hours.
‘Where’re ya goin’?’ Starsky asked
him, not wanting to be left in the dark again. Even Prudholm’s mad rantings were preferable to being left in the pitch
‘I’m gonna be goin’ now. I may be back tomorrow.
Maybe the next day. Who knows? But I’ll check on you now and again. Wouldn’t want you to die too soon, would I?’
‘No, Prudholm wait. Ya gonna untie me?’ Starsky
yelled at the man’s retreating back. ‘George wait’. He started to pull at his bonds again, the thoughts
of being alone with the rats in the dark more than he could bear. ‘Gary wouldn’t have wanted this’.
Prudholm crossed the small stone room in three strides and
backhanded the bound cop across his face. Starsky’s head flew sideways and ricocheted off the thin mattress.
‘Don’t you ever say my son’s name again’
the madman ground out before walking calmly away. He put his hand on the door and pushed, letting in the soft morning light
and making Starsky squint at the unaccustomed light. Extinguishing the candle, Prudholm backed out of the room and closed
the door behind him, leaving the panicked cop tied and alone, staring into the darkness and wondering what the hell was going
on. And more to the point, how he was going to get out of it.
Hutch paced the small office, waiting for his Captain to come
back into the room. Seven hours had elapsed since he’d gone into his partner’s apartment and found it empty, the
bed warm and made, but with no sign of the curly haired cop. Dobey had tried to convince him that everything would have a
logical explanation, but now, a full working day after the absence had been discovered, the blond was back at the Metro, determined
to start a full scale search.
Dobey walked back in, a cup of coffee in his hand and glanced
at the flaxen haired man, knowing what was coming next. He was also worried about Starsky. It was so unusual for the two to
be separated that he knew the brunet wouldn’t have just taken off on his own. But he had to give it some time, so that
when he did order the APB, he would be taken seriously.
‘Hutchinson’ he greeted as he insinuated himself
behind the desk and sat down.
Hutch launched himself into the attack, his nerves frayed enough
by trying to do days’ work and at the same time keep his eyes out for his partner.
‘Cap’n I’ve had no word from Starsk all day.
Something’s happened to him, I know it has’.
Dobey fixed him with big brown eyes, inviting him to sit down.
‘Tell me again what happened this morning’.
The tall man sighed and flopped down into the brown leather
chair, suddenly weary. ‘I went to pick him up for work as usual. We’d had a nice night at mine the night before.
His door wasn’t locked, which was unusual and I went in. His room was tidy, but no change there’ he snickered
to himself, ‘I went into his bedroom and his bed was made, but it was still warm. He wasn’t in the bathroom and
his car was missing’.
‘And that was….what time?’
‘7:45 ish. Like I say, I was collecting him for work’.
‘Ok, so, was he ok the night before?’ Dobey asked,
trying to build up a mental picture of what had gone on.
‘He was fine. We were joking about him always wanting
to celebrate Christmas. We went to the store for candies and a tree, then went back to mine’.
‘And he didn’t say anything to you then?’
Hutch cast his mind back to the sunny afternoon. He pictured
Starsky coming out of the store laden with his paper sack and the big fir tree. They walked over to the car…..opened
the door and got in. Everything was…..hold it!
‘Now ya mention it, there was something. He looked like
he’d seen a ghost. Like he’d seen someone he knew that he didn’t think he should see. I asked him about
it, but he just waved it away. Typical Starsk, ya know? Like he didn’t want to make a fuss, or like he didn’t
really believe what he’d seen’.
Dobey made a pencil note on his pad. ‘OK. So we have
him seeing someone or something. Not much to go on. What else happened?’
The blond shrugged his shoulders. ‘Nothing much. It was
a typical evening. We had carol singers. They stopped around 10. After that it was quiet. We had another beer and he went
home about 11’.
‘And he was ok when he went home? Not sick? He didn’t
say anything then?’ Dobey pushed.
‘No, not really. The last caller we had was bigger -
a teenager maybe, or at least a lot bigger than the kids that had been coming around during the evening. Starsky said he spooked
him. Said something about him belonging in a jail or a cemetery. He said he had one of those freakish “Scream”
masks on although why is anyone's guess. He was shaken at first. You know Starsk. He hates anything like that. But he seemed
fine when he left’.
‘Is his Mom OK? Maybe he had an urgent call to go see
her’ the black man offered, trying to play devil’s advocate.
‘Well he phoned her the other night and she was fine.
She was gonna come and stay with his aunt Rosey some time soon. An’ if she wasn’t ok, he wouldn’t’a
just taken off. He’d have called me, if not you. There’s something wrong Cap. Now I put two an’ two together.
The look on his face outside the store an’ he was so spooked with that last caller. D’ya think he’s being
‘Well let’s not jump to conclusions huh?. You say
his car was missing too?’
‘Well it’s not the most inconspicuous car in the
world. Surely someone’s seen it’. He picked the telephone up and hammered a bunch of the numbers into submission.
‘Yeah, its Dobey. I want an APB out on David Starsky. Yeah, Detective Starsky. Thanks’.
The big black man looked at the man opposite. ‘What else?’
Hutch ran a weary hand over his face. ‘I dunno. I’m
gonna head on down to the Pits, see if Huggy’s heard anything on the grapevine. But if he had, I think he’d have
called me by now. Starsk looked like the someone he saw outside the store was someone he knew. Someone he didn’t expect
t’see. Maybe an old friend, or someone out on parole?’
Dobey nodded. ‘Could be. There’s a few guys out
there who’d like to exact a measure of revenge. You could ask Alfred in R&I to run the names’.
The blond stood up, anxious now to be doing something. ‘OK,
I’ll go talk to Alfred, then head off to the Pits’.
‘Keep me posted’ Dobey called to his retreating
Hutch ran down the corridor, fearsome scenarios running through
his head. They’d had enough incidents in the past to make him wary now of any little thing that wasn’t right.
Thoughts of Simon Marcus and Gunther made his blood run cold. He’d almost lost Starsky then, he couldn’t go through
that again. Not now, after all these years of recovery. Please God don’t let something like that happen again. Hutch
knew he’d never be able to bear it. Since Starsky’s recovery they had become even more inseparable, to the point
where rumours that had roiled under the surface years ago were finally spoken out loud. Starsky and Hutch were gay? Both men
had chuckled at the thought, made polite but forcible comments to the contrary and gone home to their respective girls. But
the gossip mongerers were right in saying that they had a connection. And it was a strong connection. One that had served
them well during their long partnership. And when Starsky wasn’t around, Hutch felt like he was missing a vital organ.
He pushed the door to the small office open and walked in.
Files lined every wall and deadened the sounds in the confined space. The only area free from files was a small chair next
to a desk piled high with papers and on that chair, sleeves rolled up and head bent over a buff coloured cover was a tall,
dark skinned, dark haired man, utterly engrossed in his work. He didn’t look up as Hutch walked in and it wasn’t
until the blond coughed self consciously that it registered with Alfred that someone had entered his domain. He tore his gaze
from his file and smiled as he saw the flaxen haired cop.
‘Hey, Hutch. How’s it hangin’?’ he
‘Fine thanks Alf. You?’
‘Oh you know me an’ my babies’ he indicated
the files with his hand. ‘We get along just fine’.
Hutch snorted. ‘D’ya even go home at nights?’
Since Bernie, the original incumbent had retired and Alfred
had taken over, the R&I division had become an even more well oiled and smooth running department. Where Bernie had enjoyed
his work, Alfred was passionate, reorganising the whole system until he was happy with it and ensuring that responses to requests
were processed even faster than Bernie had managed. It was well known throughout the Metro that they didn’t really need
a set of files as Alfred had every piece of information carefully ordered and stored in his vast memory.
Alfred grinned now. ‘Home? This is my home! My babies
miss me when I’m not here!’
‘Well can you put that wonderful system into operation
and help me out here’ Hutch asked, perching on the edge of the desk.
‘Sure thing! What can I do?’
‘Its Starsky. He’s missing. Since this morning.
Dobey has an APB out on him, but he saw someone or something yesterday an’ I want to now if there’s any connection’.
‘You’re thinking a person? Someone he knows but
don’t want to become reacquainted with? Maybe someone out on early release?’ Alfred asked cottoning on fast.
The tall black man pondered the question. ‘Anyone in
‘No. I was just wondering’.
‘OK well, Going back over the years. Gunther’s
the prime mover, being as he nearly finished your partner off, but he’s serving 20 to life in San Quentin. He’d
be your main suspect. After that there’s the guy you and Starsky put away at the hind end of last year…..Marshall.
He’s still lookin’ at another 4 years before parole. Saunders is out now’ he offered.
Hutch shook his head. ‘No, I remember him. He knifed
his lady in that bar down town. He didn’t like us too much, but its not his style to take Starsky. Anyone else?’
‘Erm…..You guys have been so busy! I haven’t
heard of anyone else, but I’ll keep looking’ Alfred offered.
‘Thanks. Anything you can do’ the blond said as
he got up and walked towards the door. He was just about to open it and set off for the Pits when Alfred called him back.
‘Hey, it was way before my time, but didn’t Starsky
have some run in with George Prudholm?’
The blonde’s face paled. Run in? That was an understatement.
Between the two innocent cops who’d died and the murder of Starsky’s love, Terri, “run in” was the
understatement of the year. He nodded. ‘Yeah Prudholm blamed me an’ Starsk for the death of his son Gary. Why?
He’s locked up in Cabrillo State for the duration. He’s never gonna see the light of day again’.
Alfred shook his head emphatically. ‘Think again buddy.
I heard on the grapevine this morning. Crazy George broke out a few nights ago. They haven’t caught up with him yet.
He’s on the loose!’
Hutch flicked a quick wave of thanks at the stunned man and
dove out of the door back up to Dobey’s office, scenes of Prudholm trying to shoot his partner at the old civic zoo
floating in his head. Other pictures came to him. The look on Starsky’s face when he saw Terri on the stretcher in the
7/11. His face when he emerged from the hospital room after Terri died. And the night they played Monopoly on the brunet’s
kitchen floor waiting for midnight until they could open the gifts that the beautiful young woman had left for them. Starsky
had never truly got over her death, and Hutch knew that deep down the curly haired man made silent comparisons of every girlfriend
against his wonderful Terri.
He flew back upstairs and barged into Dobey’s office,
taking the black man unawares and making him spill his drink.
‘Its Prudholm!’ he spat out.
‘What?’ Dobey asked, the hot coffee on the front
of his shirt temporarily forgotten.
‘Alfred’s just told me that Prudholm escaped from
Cabrillo State earlier this week. It all fits. He hates our guts. He’s never forgiven us for his son dying in jail.
Starsk saw someone he thought he knew outside the store. I bet it was him’.
‘Why weren’t we informed he was missing?’
Dobey thundered, reaching for the phone again.
‘I dunno Cap’n. But its gotta be him. It all adds
up. He’s got Starsk. Now all we need to do is find Prudholm. I only hope its in time’.
Dobey replaced the phone. ‘Yeah, it fits. But you said
Starsky’s apartment showed no signs of a struggle. If Prudholm got to him, he wouldn’t have gone without a fight’.
Hutch paused. ‘Maybe he was drugged’.
‘An’ if he was, d’ya think Prudholm would
have stopped to make his bed up?’
The blond slumped into his seat. ‘Its gotta be Prudholm.
There’s no-one else who hates Starsk enough to do this. He must be workin’ with someone. Maybe Cabrillo can give
us a heads up’.
The Captain shrugged. ‘Its worth a shot’. He looked
at his watch. 18:45. ‘You’re not gonna be able to speak to anyone there tonight, are ya?’.
‘Cap, I’ll wake the whole hospital up if I have
to. I’m gonna get some answers. And sooner rather than later’.
Hutch drove the 45 miles to Cabrillo State like a whirlwind,
anxious now to get some answers and a lead as to where Prudholm might be. The pieces fit. It had to be Crazy George who had
Starsky….but where? And what the hell was the madman doing to his partner? The blond’s blood ran cold as he remembered
the other times when his friend had been forcibly taken from his house or his work. When Hutch had found Starsky hanging from
the aviary at the old civic zoo after Marcus’ goons had threatened to cut him to shreds it had taken weeks to nurse
him back to full strength. It wasn't just the physical injuries that Hutch had worried about, but the almost constant nightmares
the brunet had suffered. And if Crazy George Prudholm did have Starsky, what new nightmare was he inflicting?
It was dark now and the blond peered through the velvety night,
aiming the car at the speed he was going rather than actually driving it. The twin headlights pierced the blackness with their
lance-like light, carving a way forward for his Mustang and he kept his foot to the metal, despite the twists and turns of
the road. As Hutch rounded a particularly sharp bend, he was shocked to see a juggernaut coming in the other direction, way
over on his own side of the road. He swerved sharply, tugging the wheel over with all his strength and breakeras the huge
vehicle trundled past, bringing his car to a shuddering halt, front wheel hanging over the ditch at the roadside.
He drew a shaky breath. OK Hutchinson. You aren’t
gonna be able to help your partner if you’re dead. Take it easy. Drive to arrive ya dumb ass. Now, get your car back
on the road and for Gods sake be careful. Starsky needs you in one piece!
With a trembling hand, he started the engine again, wiping
a bead of sweat from his upper lip. Slowly and carefully he reversed his car backwards, nursing the wheels until they bit
solid blacktop. He put the stick into drive and accelerated away more gently this time. Keeping his speed to no more than
50, the blond made good and steady progress and within another 10 minutes he saw the gates to the mental hospital looming
up out of the dark. At that time of night they were locked and he got out of the car and pushed the speaker button on the
radio entry device, waiting till he heard a tinny sounding voice on the other end.
‘Yes? Can I help?’
‘Yeah. Detective Hutchinson to see the man in charge’
‘I’m sorry Sir. The administrator is unavailable.
Please call back between normal working hours’.
Hutch punched the rough wall beside the speaker box. ‘Listen
lady. This is a serious - police matter. Now you either open these gates and let me in, or I’ll drive the goddamned
car through ‘em anyway. Your choice’.
‘Sir, its 1:00 in the morning. Only the night staff are
on duty’ the voice protested, trying to get the night time caller to see sense.
‘I don’t care if its half past a freckle. I want
in, now. And I want to speak to the man in charge’ Hutch yelled furiously.
‘Do you have a prior appointment?’
The blond snorted. ‘Would I have a prior appointment
for this early in the morning? This is Detective Ken Hutchinson of the Bay City Police. For Gods sake, just open the damned
gates’ he said, low and intense.
The tinny voice seemed to give up the unequal struggle and
Hutch heard a metallic click as the big gates started to open. He got back into his car and waited impatiently until there
was sufficient room to drive through then gunned the engine and set off up the drive in a hail of gravel. He pulled up outside
the big, stone institution and got out, seeing a figure waiting on the steps. The figure beckoned him and he ran up the steps
and followed the young woman inside.
‘I’ve informed Doctor Connor that you wished to
see him urgently. He won’t be a moment, he’s just getting dressed’ she informed Hutch as she showed him
into a small room furnished with a desk and two chairs. He sat down and the young woman left.
Hutch looked around the room. It was obviously the man’s
office, certificates and awards framed in tortoiseshell frames lining the walls. Bookcases stood against the lower walls,
stuffed with leather bound books and smaller paperbacks, all with titles on psychology, forensic psychology and criminology.
Obviously Doctor Connor was an eminent man in his filed. Shame he couldn’t keep a tighter rein on his inmates. Hutch
jumped as the door opened and the doctor came in,
For someone recently roused from his sleep, the man was remarkably
wide awake and to his credit, he didn’t seem too angry at the rude interruption. He held out his hand to Hutch, who
took it and shook it, noting the firm, dry grip.
‘What can I do for you, detective?’ Connor asked
as he sat down behind his desk.
Hutch sat down again too. ‘George Prudholm. I’m
told he escaped here a couple of days ago’.
‘Mr Prudholm was being transported to another facility
upstate. The ambulance transporting him was run off the road – a pure accident. The driver was knocked unconscious and
when he and the escort awoke, their patient had vanished. We notified the police in that area and as yet have had no news
as to where he is. Why do you ask?’
‘Coz me and my partner were the ones who put him in here
in the first place. Now it seems, Prudholm is missing and so is Detective Starsky, my partner. It doesn’t take a genius
to put two and two together and come up with a kidnap scenario’.
Connor sat up straighter. ‘I’m sorry Detective.
Had no idea. Of course, we’ll do whatever we can to assist. How can I help?’
Hutch warmed to the doctor, now he realised that Prudholm’s
escape was no-one’s particular fault. He wasn’t defensive and didn’t seem the usual died in the wool psychiatrist
‘I need to find out what Prudholm’s mental state
was before he escaped. Anything to help me find my partner. Can you tell me what he was like? Had he improved any?’
Connor blew out his cheeks. ‘He was a strange one all
right. I can’t say that there was any particular improvement with George over the months that I’ve been here.
He’s been unsettled throughout. Doesn’t respond to medication much. We’ve tried cognitive therapy, ECT,
Hutch’s heart was in his boots. ‘Is he still um…is
he still fixated?’
‘With his son, yes. He talks about Gary as if he’s
still there. He calls the male nurses Gary, the male catering staff. Seems like he gets his son confused with any male who
happens to have dark coloured hair. George has many complex problems’.
Almost 24 hours had gone by since Starsky had woken the first
time into the black void of his confinement. During that time he’d been confined to the small metal bed, laying on his
back, his wrists secured to the headboard above his head and his ankles to the metal bars at the foot. At first, his mind
had been on one thing and one thing only – escape. But after Prudholm had left him again in the dark, other, more pressing
matters started to impact on his consciousness.
His limbs had at first started to ache from their enforced
position, pains shooting up from his shoulders into his neck and the top of his back. The hollow of his back also ached and
he longed to flex his legs and ease out the kinks in his back and hips. But pretty soon the ache had turned into vicious cramping
pains which tore at his shoulders, elbows, hips and ankles, spiralling through his joints like fiery serpents. No matter which
way he tried to turn he was unable to rid himself of the terrible discomfort and the pains had battered at his mind and body
for hours. He pulled ineffectually at the bonds holding him down and yelled out again into the darkness. But the stones of
the room and the dirt floor seemed to absorb the sounds and Starsky believed Prudholm when he said that the place was soundproof.
Panic and anger took turns at overwhelming the brunet, panic
at being left alone in the pitch black and anger that once again Prudholm had managed to fuck up his life so royally. He longed
to be able to wipe that smug smirk off Crazy George’s face but settled for allowing the anger to simmer below the surface,
fuelling his ability to endure the captivity.
Pretty soon though the pains stopped as gradually his limbs
numbed into their enforced positions. He found he could wiggle his head and raise and lower his upper body a little, but he
was strung out in such a fashion that there was no play on the bonds around his wrists and ankles, and so he lay, panting
into the darkness.
However long it was since his kidnap, he had no idea. But pretty
soon a new need arose. Starsky had had a few beers with Hutch before he’d gone back to his apartment. He’d drunk
juice and water during the night before he’d come out to look for Mickey and now, a different sort of pain made itself
evident. His bladder was full and he needed to pee, urgently. What had started out as a niggling need for the john had, over
the intervening hours turned into an all-consuming urge to go. It became insistent, pains roiling through his abdomen as he
tried desperately to hold on. But what for?
He hoped that the crazy man would come back and let him up
so that he could relieve himself, or at least give him some kind of receptacle to use, but as the minutes and hours wore on,
he realised that that was a forlorn hope. Each beat of his heart now seemed to impact on his bladder and he could almost feel
the skin of his abdomen stretching taut over the swelling. The need consumed his every waking moment, battering away at his
consciousness until he had to do the unthinkable.
Up until then, Starsky was a captive. A man who’d been
kidnapped and held against his will. But he was a man nonetheless. But as the muscles of his bladder finally gave out and
he felt the hot urine soak into his jeans and burn his skin he descended from his status as a human being to that of an object.
Something attached to the bed, but less than human. An animal, to be tied, kicked and beaten. Up until then, the brunet had
been able to process everything that was going on. He hated it – hated the feeling of powerlessness, but he felt as
though he still had some sort of say in his own destiny. The ability to anger Prudholm if nothing else. But now, as he lost
control of his body, his self esteem and control seemed to flow away from him like the hot liquid now flowing down his legs
to soak into the dirty mattress below him.
Starsky sobbed once into the darkness then clamped his lips
closed. He would remain human. He would. If nothing else he had to hang on to the thoughts that he was still David
Starsky and that Hutch would be looking for him. And if anyone could find him, his partner could.
Chapter 8. November 2nd
Starsky’s mind had finally closed down on the horror
of his situation and he slept. He had no idea how long he’d so far been confined, although he was pretty sure it was
days rather than hours. His dreams were all of confined spaces as his brain rebelled against the constraints placed upon his
limbs, his mind picturing his body being locked inside boxes or stretched out like toffee on a table being rolled thin to
make candies. His head rolled against the thin mattress as the dreams took him and shook him and his lips worked in silent
conversation as he shouted for Hutch over and again. As the moisture started to cool and dry on his jeans, he started to shiver,
the wet material of his clothes clinging to his skin and the ammonia continuing to burn his sensitive flesh and before long
in the cool of the crypt, his teeth were chattering together and his body began to shudder against its bonds.
But at the same time, he started to feel hot, his head aching
and his eyes feeling as though they were lined with sandpaper. The fever started to burn in his body and as he slept, the
pains in his limbs returned so that he groaned in his sleep.
Something awoke him hours later and he stared into the still
dark room, trying to focus on the extra stimulus. Had he heard something? He was unsure, but something had roused him from
his fever-fogged dreams. He coughed, his chest feeling tight and he felt light headed and dizzy. His throat was dry as a bone
and his lips were beginning to crack although that small pain hardly registered as it nestled amongst the others assaulting
the brunet’s body.
What had shaken him awake? If he could stop his limbs from
shaking long enough, he may be able to think. Somewhere, in the far off distance he could hear a voice….no, two voices!
His heart leapt. Freedom. He could taste it now and he bellowed into the dark
‘OVER HERE. IN HERE. HEEEEELP’. The yelling cost
him and he sank back against the mattress, coughing a hacking, dry cough that threatened to rob him of his breath. He stopped
long enough to listen, but the voices seemed no nearer. He could hear them, muttering in the periphery of his hearing but
they didn’t seem to be able to hear him. Shit! For a moment he wondered if his mind was going and that he was imagining
He was taking another lungful of air to shout again, when he
heard the minute sounds of scratching against the door and suddenly his eyes were pierced by the light shining in through
the open doorway. Starsky raised his head and looked at the light. Although seeming terribly bright, he saw, in fact, that
it was dark outside and that the light was coming from the moon, stars and the flashlight carried by Prudholm. There was another
figure in the background, a smaller man who didn’t attempt to come into the crypt and quietly Prudholm walked in, closing
the door behind him.
He walked over to the bed and shone the light into the brunet’s
face making the bound cop hiss, the light stabbing at his eyes and sending lancing pains through his head. Starsky rolled
his head sideways and squeezed his eyes shut against the bright light that seemed to stab into him like a knife. Funny that
after the hours of being afraid of the darkness, that he should want to shrink from the light now.
Prudholm looked down at the body stretched out before him and
something clicked on in his head. He saw the young, slim body, the fever bright eyes and the mop of tousled mahogany curls
and instead of looking at his archenemy, Detective Dave Starsky he saw again the familiar face of his son.
‘Gary, are you alright son?’ he asked, sitting
down on the edge of the bed.
Starsky’s fever clouded mind paused a moment, processing
the new development. ‘What?’
‘You look sick son. What can I get ya?’ the madman
said, reaching out to run his fingers through Starsky’s hair.
The cop flinched out of the way, his skin crawling at the thought
of Prudholm touching him. ‘Ya can get me the fuck outta here’ he said weakly. ‘Just lemme go’ he croaked
through his dry throat. ‘Lemme up an’ I’ll be ok. We can talk’.
‘What do you want to talk about son? I shouldn’t
let you up, you’re sick. Just lie still Gary and rest an’ I’ll look after you’ Prudholm said almost
‘Not Gary…..You made me sick. I can hardly move….hurts.
Lemme up’ Starsky continued, trying to shuffle away from the man’s caresses.
Prudholm looked confused. ‘What do you mean, I made you
sick? Gary, I’m your father. I’d do anything for ya, you know that. Let me look after you huh?’
‘I’m not Gary. Your son’s dead. Died in jail
remember?’ the brunet pushed, creeped out by the idea that Prudholm would think he was his dead son.
George stopped a moment, his hand in mid air as he processed
the information. He looked harder at the man on the bed, the face morphing from Gary’s to Starsky’s and back again.
Prudholm ran his hands over his face, rubbing away the vision and looked again. The hands came away and he looked again, unsure
now who he saw in front of him. But whoever it was, they were offering him cheek. And a son doesn’t talk back to his
father. He lifted his hand and slapped Starsky across the face, hard enough to leave white finger marks on the olive toned
The blow wasn’t especially painful, but it knocked his
head sideways and set off Catherine wheels and rockets behind the brunet’s fevered eyeballs. He bit back the groan and
looked back at his tormentor.
Prudholm reached forward and tenderly rubbed the white finger
marks. ‘Don’t sass your father’ he said sternly. I won’t have that Gary’.
Starsky sighed back the panic he felt. Prudholm was away with
the fairies, completely lost in his own imagination now and the brunet didn’t know whether to try to pierce the madman’s
fogged mind, or play along. He tried again.
‘Please…..let me up. I hurt. At least gimme a drink
huh? Then we can talk’.
‘Course you can have a drink Gary. Wait a minute’.
George got up and reached into a bag by his side, pulling out a flask. He unscrewed the top and poured some coffee into the
cup, holding Starsky’s head gently while the parched cop sipped at the hot drink, feeling the caffeine wash through
his system like a life giving tide. He relished the feel of the fluid on his parched throat, the scalding liquid making his
brain feel sharper and more in focus. Prudholm pulled the cup away and Starsky tried to follow it with his lips.
‘More?’ he panted, pleading with the man. He hated
the feel of Prudholm’s hands on his chest and his head, but he craved the drinks and knew he needed more fluid.
Prudholm seemed pleased, however and poured another cupful
of the hot, sweet, strong coffee, solicitously holding Starsky’s head again, as he drank his fill
The drink finished, his head fell back onto the mattress. ‘Prudholm,
listen t’me. I ain’t Gary. Gary’s dead. You brought me here, remember? Remember? The cemetery, this freakin’
‘Not Gary?’ a quizzical look came over the older
‘No, not Gary. Starsky. I’m a…..’Something
in Prudholm’s face stopped the brunet from speaking the last word. What if the word “cop” turned Prudholm
from loving father into avenging demon in one fell swoop. Trussed up as he was, there would be no way Starsky could defend
himself, and although his body desperately craved freedom, just at the moment he’d take living captivity over death.
‘Starsky?…yeah you’re…..No. Gary you’re
sick. You don’t know who you are’.
‘Prudholm, please, listen to me. You brought me here,
remember. Remember talking to me, remember telling me….’ He tailed off. His last conversation with the older man
had consisted entirely of details of Gary’s death. Not the wisest thing to bring up now. He changed tack.
‘I need to get up. I need to move……please?’
Starsky tried to get through to the man he knew Prudholm had once been. The sane, albeit criminal man. Trying to make him
see what he’d done and the sense in letting Starsky go.
He read many conflicting emotions flitting across Prudholm’s
face, but none of them looked like the sort of emotion which would switch on the sanity in the man’s head. Instead Prudholm
shook his head at his captive.
‘Starsky! Shuddup!’ it was as though a switch had
been thrown in the older man’s head, switching him from “Gary mode” to the present.
‘Prudholm?’ Starsky asked, seeing and hearing the
change in his demeanour.
‘Yeah, who else?’
‘Prudholm, let me go. You don’t know what you’re
doin’ Starsky tried again, almost as though he was dealing with two distinct men.
Prudholm giggled maniacally. ‘I know exactly what I’m
doin’. I’m getting retribution for what you did to my son’.
‘No, you aren’t. You’re signing your own
death warrant. Hutch’ll find ya and bring you in, no matter what happens to me. You know that Prudholm…..George.
Listen to me. Just lemme go’. Starsky pleaded. But the light of understanding was leaving the man’s eyes again
and he reverted to his previous persona, the sane Prudholm taking a back step to the caring, loving father.
‘You’re sick Gary. I know you are. I can feel you
have a fever. Ssh, don’t worry. Papa’s gonna make it all better. I’m gonna get you some of your medicine,
then you’ll feel well again huh?’
Starsky saw a possibility and decided to try running with it.
‘Yeah, that’s right, I’m sick. I need a doctor.
Can ya bring a doctor huh? Someone who can make me better?’
Prudholm chuckled. ‘You don’t need a doctor Gary.
I know what sort of medicine you need. Just leave it to your Papa huh? I’ll get ya what you need’.
The brunet’s patience snapped, panic rising again in
‘I don’t need no fuckin’ medicine. I need
to get out of here’ he yelled, pulling at the ropes around his wrists again. ‘Just lemme go, please…….just
untie me’ he finished, the outburst leaving him feel weary and light-headed.
Prudholm stood up and ruffled Starsky’s curls again.
It was a fatherly gesture, designed to show just how much Prudholm loved his son, establishing just what lengths he’d
go to to keep Gary happy. He set off for the door.
‘Where’re ya goin’?’ Starsky asked,
panic grabbing him again. He didn't want to be left in the darkness and especially when he didn't know when Crazy George would
come back to check on him. In his present state he might just forget that the brunet was even there.
The older man smiled back at him. ‘I’m gonna go
an’ get ya fixed up. Then you’ll feel better son. Won’t be long. Just rest a while’.
‘Don’t!…..don’t go, please’ the
brunet pleaded. Even a madman’s company was better than solitary confinement in the dark.
‘I won’t be long Gary. Then everything will be
‘Will ya leave a light on?’ Even to his own ears,
Starsky sounded like a little boy afraid of the bogy man.
Prudholm chuckled. ‘You need your rest son. I’ll
turn the light off so that you can sleep’. He opened the door and extinguished the flashlight, closing the big heavy
door behind him and shutting out Starsky’s desperate, lonely ‘Nooooooooooo’.
Outside, Mickey stood waiting for him, shuffling uncomfortably
from one foot to the other.
‘Is Starsky still ok?’ he asked.
Prudholm paused. ‘Starsky?’
‘Yeah. Ya got him in there dontcha?’
‘Starsky…..oh yeah. He’s erm……he’s
fine’ the older man looked blankly. ‘Mickey I need ya t’get somethin’ for me’.
The little snitch looked expectantly. ‘What?’
‘Gary needs his medicine’ Prudholm said conspiratorially.
‘Gary aint here’ Mickey persisted. ‘That’s
Starsky ya got in there’.
George paused again, his mind so confused that he could barely
make out the difference between the cop and his son, the two men blending into one in his head.
‘Oh yeah, well, I need ya to get it for me’.
‘Enough. He needs a lot’.
‘Its gonna cost’ Mickey said, his eyes refusing
to meet Prudholm’s.
‘Ten K for the first couple’a doses’
‘I don’t have that sorta money right here. Where’m
I gonna get that from right now?’ Prudholm asked desperately.
Mickey grinned. ‘Well if the “medicine” is
for him’ he nodded at the crypt ‘then the only guy you’ll get it from is Hutch’.
‘Why would he……..?’ Prudholm’s
confused eyes met Mickey’s
Mickey sighed. ‘You’ve got Starsky. Hutch’ll
want him back. An; he’ll pay big time. What ya spend the money on is your concern’.
‘An’ if I want to buy the horse?’
‘I don’t care who you use the drugs on. Starsky,
Gary. Just gimme the doe an’ I’ll get ya the drugs’.
Prudholm smiled. ‘And then Gary’ll feel better’.
Mickey looked exasperated. ‘Yeah, Gary’ll feel
better an’ you’ll be richer. An’ Starsky’ll’ve been dealt with’.
‘Yeah, Starsky will have paid’.
Hutch drove back from the mental hospital just as the first
light of dawn was beginning to light up the horizon. He’d had a long night with Doctor Connor as they both tried to
figure out what Prudholm’s next moves would be. But whatever scenario they ran, it always came back to one thing. Prudholm
hated both Starsky and Hutch and blamed them for his son’s death. And he’d do anything in his power to get back
at them. The fact that he was a sick man only added fuel to his flames, and now the doctor and the detective were left wondering
just what sick ideas Prudholm might have.
The flaxen haired cop drove back to the Metro with the dark
thoughts running through his mind. Someone must have seen Prudholm. The madman must have contacted someone. But who? Hutch
started compiling a mental list of all the people that both he and his partner knew, who might have sufficient dealings with
the shadier side of Bay City to be able to help him. By the time he’d pulled up in the police garage, he’d come
up with a short list.
‘Prudholm’s got to have had help’ he told
Dobey as he sat nursing a pot of black coffee, back in the Captain’s office.
‘Are we absolutely one hundred percent sure it is Prudholm?’
Hutch blew out his cheeks. ‘As certain as anyone can
be. We’re dealing with a psychopath, so his actions are always unpredictable. But Doctor Connor said he had this fixation
with his son. As though he thought Gary was still living. And he imprinted Gary’s face onto any male who had dark hair
and was vaguely Gary’s height. It fits’.
‘So what now?’
‘Gonna start hunting down all our leads. Snitches Starsk
and I commonly use. Places we’ve seen ‘em. Someone’s got to have seen Prudholm. Someone’s got to know
something about him. One man can’t just wander around the city without someone recognising him’.
‘Do you want help? More folks out there is gonna mean
a quicker search’.
‘Yeah, but more folks out there askin’ questions
is gonna put Prudholm on the alert if he hears about it. No. It may be a bit slower, but I need to keep this as quiet and
subtle as I can. Until its time not to be subtle. And then I’m gonna need all the help I can get’. Hutch said
‘Where are ya gonna start?’ Dobey asked.
‘Sweet Alice is always good for information. The clients
she gets aren’t, shall we say, at the top end of the market. After that I’ll try Huggy’s. Then there’s
5th Avenue, Uncle Joey and Mickey. They all pretty much know what’s happening in the town’.
Dobey sighed. ‘Sounds like a plan. D’ya want anyone
to ride with you?’
Hutch shook his head. ‘Not for a while Cap’n. But
I’ll keep it under review’ he got up, stretching the kinks out of his back.
‘You look all in. You need your sleep’ the black
man said, noticing the dark circles under Hutch’s eyes and the pinched look in his paler than normal face.
‘I have the feelin’ Starsk won’t be getting
much sleep. An’ if I went home I couldn’t rest. I’ll be fine’.
‘OK, keep me posted’ Dobey said as the blond went
out of the door.
Across town, George Prudholm was anxiously pacing outside the
crypt. Gary was hurting. Gary needed help. Gary was…no! Starsky. It was Starsky he had inside the small stone room.
Why couldn’t he remember that? It was Starsky who was going to pay for Gary’s death. It was him and that son of
a bitch blond who’d put Gary in jail. And that’s where he’d died. Starsky needed to pay, and pay big time.
Prudholm would see to that. He’d make the man suffer, for a long time in that room. On that bed…….Gary.
Poor Gary. He was suffering in that room, on that bed.
Prudholm put his hands up to his head. He hadn’t brought
his medication with him from the crashed hospital van. Hadn’t thought he’d need it. It made him dull and tired,
as though he was swimming through molasses all the time, and he hated the feeling. He knew he wanted to be clear headed, but
now it hurt to think and he couldn’t keep his thoughts pinned down. He rubbed at his aching temples. His head didn’t
ache when he took his medication. When he had the brown and green pills he could cope. When he had the pills he still thought
of Gary and sometimes he thought he saw him, but nothing like this.
Everything would be ok. He’d seen Gary. Gary was back
with him in the room. He didn’t need the pills after all. The pills stopped him seeing his son and that was wrong. The
doctors didn’t want him to see his son and that was wrong too. He commenced his pacing again, the walking easing his
jumbled thoughts. Walking was good. He could think when he walked. He could think how to help Gary.
There was the sound of a footfall and Prudholm froze in his
tracks, his ears straining to hear any other noises. At that time of early morning no-one should be around he was sure of
that. He looked up and a smile broke across his face as he saw Mickey striding towards him through the early morning mist.
The little snitch walked quickly with small narrow strides,
his head constantly looking left and right to check he wasn’t being followed. He knew he wasn’t, but the gait
went with his trade. He could never be too careful in his line of business. Never be too careful when he was selling information
to the highest bidder. Scruples went out of the window when there were dollars to be taken, and now, Prudholm was on the verge
of making him rich.
‘Did ya get it?’ Prudholm hissed as the man got
‘Uh huh’ the little man nodded, looking over his
shoulder one last time. ‘But it wasn’t easy an’ I had to pay top price’.
‘I got enough for four doses. Should see him through
a couple’a days, but after that, I need more money’.
George furrowed his brows. ‘Four’s not enough.
He’ll hurt again, and I can’t let him hurt. How much d’ya need?’
‘As much as ya can get me’.
‘Ok I got savings. I got the remains of the money I got
when my Mom’s house was sold….and some other stuff. $80,000. Is that enough? How much will that buy me?’
Mickey’s eyes widened. ‘Should get him enough.
But it won’t last for ever’.
‘I know, I know. Just gimme the stuff an’ I can
stop him hurting’.
Inside the room, Starsky slept fitfully. There was nothing
else for him to do to while away the time. Pains, which had once assailed his back, hips and shoulders, redoubled whenever
he woke and he slept to escape them too. But mostly he slept to take away the terror of the dark and the horror of not knowing
whether Prudholm would ever come back to him, or if anyone else would find him.
His wrists hurt too now and although he couldn’t see
them, he knew that they’d bled. He could feel the raw abraded skin beneath the harsh ropes holding him immobile. It
was his own fault. Even though he’d tried them so many times before, he had to struggle just once more to see if he
could get free. That was the Starsky spirit fighting through regardless. The spirit that had kept him going through all the
trials and tribulations in his life. And the spirit that had brought him back from death at the hands of Gunther.
He sighed into the darkness and the sound seemed extraordinarily
loud in the confined space. During the intervening hours, he’d once again lost the unequal fight for control of his
bladder and now he felt dirty and almost inhuman as he lay on the sodden mattress encased in the wet denim fabric of his jeans.
He’d held out as long as he could, in the vain hope that Prudholm might come back and help him, but as the time went
on, he realised he couldn’t hold on any longer. As he felt the burning liquid soak his jeans again, he’d sobbed
just once, into the darkness, a forlorn and empty sound which scared away the rats pattering around the dirt floor. The fever
which continued to rage through his body made him feel weak and he knew if he didn’t get help soon he’d become
too sick to be able to reason with Prudholm any more.
Since the one, heart rending sob, he’d tried to remain
quiet, hating his confinement not only because of the forced immobility which caused him to feel almost limbless, but also
because being tied to the bed like this was taking away his humanity, a piece at a time. He muttered to himself
‘Dave Starsky. I’m Dave Starsky…..Dave…..Dave.
But then he stopped himself.
You’re goin’ mad Davey boy. Talkin’ to
yourself. Shit….see. you’re doin’ it again!
He stiffened as he heard a noise again and watched as the door
to the crypt was pushed open, George’s figure walking into the room. Once again the brighter light stabbed at Starsky’s
eyes, and once again, he turned his head away from the painful stimulus.
‘Gary?’ Prudholm said gently.
‘Starsky’ the brunet corrected.
‘Hmm. It’s me Papa. I’m gonna stop you hurting
son. I said I would’.
Starsky’s heart leapt. ‘Are ya gonna untie me?
Are ya gonna let me up?’
‘No son. I told ya. You need to rest. But I got your
medicine. I’m gonna give ya your medicine and then everything will be fine’ Prudholm said soothingly.
‘Medicine? What’re ya talkin’ about? I don’t
need no medicine. I just need to be able to get up’ Starsky said, wary now at the turn of events. He had no idea what
Prudholm was going to do, but he didn’t like the thought of “medicine”.
‘But you always want your medicine. It makes you feel
so much better’ George continued as he lit a candle and placed it on one of the stone shelves. Starsky turned his head
to watch, the flickering light casting ghostly shadows around the room. Now that he saw the articles Prudholm unloaded from
his pockets, he started to struggle frantically against his bonds.
‘NO. ya lousy son of a bitch. I don’t need no medicine.
That aint medicine an’ I’m no junkie. Don’t gimme that. Just let me up huh? Just lemme go’.
Blood began to run in ticklish dark trickles down his forearms
and the white rope stained red, Starsky’s life blood looking black in the dim light. Prudholm emptied the powder onto
a small spoon and held it over the flame until it turned from white powder to brown liquid. He affixed the needle to the syringe
and pulled up the dose into the barrel, turning to look at the frantic cop.
‘Ssh. Hold still an’ it’ll be over. Then
ya won’t hurt any more Gary’. He walked towards Starsky who tried to shuffle away as far as his bonds would allow.
‘Fuck! Get away from me ya creep. Prudholm it’s
me, Starsky. I’m not Gary. I’m not your son. He’s dead. Remember? Please. Don’t give me that’
he stared in horror at the needle.
The last time he’d seen anything like this at close quarters
was when his blond partner had been found in a dirty alleyway, collapsed and dirty with a flushed face and wild staring eyes.
Hutch had been strung out on the horse for two days. Two long days that took his body another two months to recover from and
another two years before the cravings finally abated completely. The memory of his partner hitting the door at the side of
his head as he pleaded for more of his “medicine” would remain forever ingrained in Starsky’s memory. And
that’s what Prudholm was going to give him now. “Medicine”.
He tried a different tack. ‘Before ya do. Can I have
a drink? Thirsty. Can I have some water?’ the brunet asked, pleading in his eyes. He was thirsty for sure, but the drink
also put off the evil moment and gave him a few more seconds when maybe someone would find him. Someone. Anyone. Oh God please
let someone find him.
Prudholm smiled down at the man he thought was his son. ‘Course
ya can Gary. Anything for my boy, you know that’. He reached into his back and took a bottle out. Unscrewing the top,
he held the neck to Starsky’s lips as the parched man drew the cool fluid down his throat.
Starsky tried to make the drink last as long as he could. Anything
to put off the evil moment. But finally George pulled the bottle away and took up the syringe again. He held it up and checked
the contents. No air. Good. Quickly he tied a rubber tube around Starsky’s arm and hovered over the vein.
The brunet was beside himself now. No longer afraid or careful
to show his fear as he trembled beneath Prudholm’s grip.
‘Prudholm, don’t…George, please don’t
do this. Please don’t give me that. I don’t want it. I’m not your son. I’m not Gary. I’m Starsky.
Dave Starsky, remember? Remember Starsky…..and Hutch…the blond one, remember?’ he pleaded, his voice trembling
But Prudholm either chose to ignore, or was lost in his own
world where Gary needed his medicine. Whatever was going through the madman’s head, he was deaf to the bound cop’s
pleas and with a final flourish, he pushed the needle into the turgid vein and loosened the tourniquet.
‘Nooo, oh God no, please, no…..don’t gimme….don’t…..George
don’t give me the drugs, I don’t…..don…..do……ungh’.
Starsky’s eyes, which moments before had held such fear
and agony closed briefly as his body gave itself over to the rush of the drug. His tethered body relaxed, as he sagged back
onto the filthy mattress feeling a surge of euphoria. Nothing mattered. So he was tied to a bed in a crypt. It was quite funny
really, when he thought about it. Not that he really wanted to think about it. Now, all he wanted to do was love everyone.
To hug the world and tell his fellow human beings just how wonderful life was. The pains in his body seemed to flow away.
He felt a warm flushing of his skin, his mouth dry as sandpaper, and his arms and legs feeling heavy, as though they didn’t
belong to him.
Prudholm put down the syringe and watched, a happy smile on
his face as he saw Gary relax and close his eyes. Gary was happy. Gary wasn’t hurting. Gary would be happy till the
And Starsky watched dreamily as Prudholm walked out of the
crypt and closed the door behind him after snuffing out the candle. The darkness didn’t bother him any more. The darkness
was like a blanket that he wanted to pull around him, but his hands were tied above his head. And even that was ok.
Hutch walked into the small quadrangle surrounding the swimming
pool. Several women dressed only in skimpy bikinis were lounging on the towel strewn beds around the turquoise oblong of water
and he smiled at each of them as he carefully negotiated his way around the pool to the apartment block in the corner. It
was quieter here, away from the canned music playing softly and the laughter and hum of conversation. He knocked once on the
solid teak door and waited, knowing Sweet Alice may well be “entertaining” clients. He didn’t want to cramp
the woman’s style. Although he wished she could find a different, less hazardous line of work, Hutch admired the fact
the Alice supported herself and despite the men she saw, still maintained a quiet composure and pride. He smiled at the memories
of the times she’d tried to come on to him. The times she’d even offered her services to him for free. In Alice’s
world, that was almost the same as offering him the key to Fort Knox. And Hutch had always refused her advances, always making
the same excuse. “Not now love, but maybe later”. And Alice always understood. A cop could never become “involved”
with a hooker, no matter how discrete.
A moment later, the pretty blond woman opened the door and
peeped around it, her face cracking into a broad smile as she saw her favourite blond. Hutch always treated her like a lady.
‘Well hi there, Handsome Hutch. What brings you to maa
Hutch smiled back. He had a soft spot for the glamorous hooker
and always felt protective towards her. ‘Hi Sweet Alice. I just wondered if you might be able to help me out’
he said, his voice soft and gentle.
She opened the door wider and beckoned him in, closing it and
standing with her back against it as she gathered her pale blue, feather trimmed “work clothes” around her. ‘Well
suga….if ya want a good taam…ya only need ta ask.’
The blond cop stood close and held her delicate chin between
his finger and thumb and dotted a little kiss on her nose. ‘You know, one day, I may take you up on your offers’.
‘But not now…..ah know Suga, but ya can’t
blame a girl fer tryin. So, what can ah do fer ya’.
Hutch’s face showed concern. ‘Starsky’s missing.
He’s been missing a couple of days. I was wondering if you might have heard anything on the grapevine. George Prudholm
broke out of Cabrillo and I think he has something to do with Starsk’s disappearance. You know, anyone talking about
a cop, or askin’ questions about prudholm’.
Alice’s face clouded over. ‘Crazy George? Starsky?
No, ah haven’t heard a thing. Oh maa. I hope he’s ok, an’ ah’ll do anything ah can, ya know that’.
Hutch smiled. ‘I know honey. Its important to me. You
know that’. he paused. ‘How’s business?’
‘Well….ah manage’ she said coyly.
The blond cop reached into his back pocket and took out a roll
of bills. He peeled off $10 and handed it to the young woman.
‘Go buy yourself something pretty’ he said softly,
burying his face in her long blond hair as his fingers entwined themselves in the blond cascade at the nape of her neck. Alice’s
hair always smelled so clean and delicious, like apple pie and lemons and all the good things he remembered from his childhood.
‘You don’t have’ta do that suga’ she
‘I know. See ya’ Hutch breathed as he headed for
the door. It was always difficult leaving the woman. If they had different jobs, maybe they could get something going. But
it couldn’t happen now. Not like this.
Outside once again he leaned his back against the cool wall.
What had his partner called it once? Strike one? Well this was it, strike one again, with balls two three and four coming
up pretty soon. He pushed himself on, his body protesting the lack of sleep and the over dosing quantity of adrenaline coursing
through his veins. But it was only the adrenaline that was keeping him going now. He was so weary he was operating on the
chemical and hope. Hope that the next snitch might be the one that could hint at where Starsky might be,
Hutch got back to the car and got in, sitting behind the wheel
and massaging the back of his neck, trying to ease out the knots of muscles cording across his shoulders. Alice would have
done that for him, and then some! He smiled at the thought then grimaced at the pains. Pains his body was going to have to
endure until he and his partner were back together.
On the other side of the city, Starsky too was beginning to
experience his pains again. After the first euphoric rush of the horse entering his system, he entered a twilight world. A
world where he loved everyone and everyone loved him. The feeling left him warm and languorous as though it didn’t matter
that his arms and legs had been bound into the same, muscle crunching position for the past 4 days. It didn’t matter
that his body lay on a filthy, damp mattress and that his jeans were once again wet with urine.
Beneath the stiff fabric, his skin was red and raw, the acid
in the fluid beginning to chafe and abrade his skin so that it roughened and started to blister. The smell inside the crypt
was nauseating, but to the bound cop, nothing else mattered. He was floating. He was in a glorious freefall where outside
stimuli meant nothing, his only focus being the wonderful high the heroin had given him.
The feeling had lasted long enough for him to miss it terribly
when he started to come down. At first he felt tired, his eyelids refusing to keep open for longer than a second at a time.
He realised he had a smile on his face although there was no longer anyone there to see it, and even when he opened his eyes
and stared into the thick, blackness surrounding him, it didn’t worry him. The darkness was his friend. The darkness
clung to him and caressed him like a lover would and he moaned into it, yearning to have hands for real on his body. He longed
to have some woman’s hands stroking him, his chest and legs, holding her hand over the hot bulge he could feel in his
jeans. The heroin worked it’s insidious way into his psyche, so that he was no longer a bound captive waiting for the
next round of maltreatment. He was floating on a sea of testosterone fuelled by the recreational drug and all he wanted was
to release the burgeoning hard on and use it as nature had intended.
The feelings seemed to stretch on the winds of time into infinity.
He was happy. Hutch might find him, or there again, he might not. And did it matter? Well maybe it did.
The drug started to leave his system, feelings of euphoria
giving way to seconds, then minutes of blind panic and depressive thoughts. What if Hutch didn’t find him? What if he
never got to see his partner again? What if Prudholm never came back? What if he died in this stinking hell hole with only
the rats for company?
The feelings started to over whelm him, the depression being
all the more powerful after the high he’d experienced with the rush. The panic built like a solid wall in his chest,
crushing his breathing so that his breath came in short, sharp pants, excluding the oxygen from his brain so that he felt
Starsky started to pull wildly at his wrists again, the pain
from his already bloody and raw skin only serving to fuel the flames of panic licking at his mind and roiling around his whole
being. He wanted out. He wanted to be able to get off this stinking bed. He wanted to be able to move so that he could change
the position of his body which now felt even more confined amd sore. His shoulders and hips seemed to have locked into that
one position now after being held immobile for the entire time of his captivity. Although he had no way to know that he had
been held for four days, his body told him that sufficient time had elapsed to make his joints protest. In his anguish, he
yelled out into the darkness.
‘PRUDHOLM!!! ANYONE. HEEEEEELP ME’. The shout tailed
off into tears of forlornness which now coursed down his cheeks unchecked. David Starsky was one of the bravest, most stoical
men alive. But this incarceration was beyond even what he could endure without breaking.
Part of his mind wanted the oblivion the drugs had afforded
him. When he was on the rush, he could cope with his confinement and captivity. It didn’t seem to hurt him in the same
way. But the downside, the time when he was coming down from the sweet feelings was made doubly difficult. Did he want more?
Yes and no. If he was never to get away, then at least the drug would make his time bearable. But if Hutch could find him,
there was no way that Starsky would want his blond partner to find a junkie.
The thoughts were still carouselling around in his mind when
he jumped at the sliver of light which pierced his darkness. A candle flared to life in the corner and Prudholm’s face
appeared above him, grotesquely lit by the flickering light.
‘Gary? How are you feeling son?’
‘Fuck off. I aint Gary and I aint feelin’ in the
mood t’play your games any more Prudolm’ Starsky growled. It would have sounded more of a threat if the brunet’s
voice hadn’t been weakened by the fever and the lack of fluid. Now, it sounded raw and thin and he rasped the words
out in a husky parody of his normal voice.
Prudholm’ eye’s opened wide at the verbal attack,
and in the amber light, Starsky could see differing emotions flitting across the older man’s face.
‘What did you just say?’ he asked.
‘I told ya I aint your son. An’ I want outa here,
now. C’mon George. Ya made your point. Ya got me. You got your own back on me, now lemme go huh?’ Starsky tried
to remain as calm as he could, but he could feel the anger below the surface as he fought for control. The heroin had heightened
his emotional state, his nerves jumpy and fuelled with the chemical imbalance.
‘You’re Starsky’ Prudholm said almost wonderingly,
as if seeing the bound cop for the first time. His face split into an evil leer. ‘an I got you just where I want ya.
I’ll make you pay for what ya did to my boy. I’ll make you wish you’d never been born: never set eyes on
my Gary. You ruined his life. You killed him, an’ now its my turn to make you suffer’,
‘Your son was a worthless junkie. He robbed old ladies
to fuel his habit. He killed those old ladies coz he wanted his next fix’ Starsky yelled at the stunned man, flinching
away as Prudholm once again back handed his across the face. Silenced, he licked at the trickle of blood from his split lip,
panting with the exertion of his outburst.
‘Don’t ever speak his name again’ Prudholm
growled. ‘You aint worthy enough to speak his name. My Gary was a good boy. An’ then you went an’ sent him
to jail. He was a good boy….a good boy’. The light of understanding was once again leaving Prudholm’s eyes.
‘Gary’s a good boy’ he whispered. He looked back at the panting cop. ‘You’re a good boy Gary…..a
Starsky hitched a ragged breath. ‘if I’m a good
boy…..Dad…..why not let me up huh?’ he tried, wondering if playing along to Prudholm’s fantasy would
change the balance of their relationship.
‘You’re sick son. D’ya hurt any?’
‘Uh huh. My arms hurt. I need ya to let me up’
Prudholm ran his fingers through the brunet’s matted
curls. ‘I’ll get ya some more medicine. That’ll make it all better’.
‘No, oh for fucks sake no. Don’t gimme any more.
Please…..Dad…Papa….don’t gimme any more. I don’t need any more’ Starsky was beside himself,
needing to get away from the needle and the madness the silver spoon represented. Please God not more dope. He couldn’t
cope with more. How many doses before he didn’t care? How many before he was hurting so bad he wouldn’t care how
much Prudholm gave him?
He pulled away as far as he could, the raw skin around his
wrists tearing again and the pain fuelling his struggles.
But Prudholm was ready, the warm brown drug already pulled
up into the barrel of the syringe. He seemed not the notice the ineffectual struggles of the man n the bed as he tied the
rubber tubing around Starsky’s upper arm. He seemed not to hear the pleadings which ranged from shouts to sobs. All
Prudholm heard was the need in his son’s voice. His mind making him sure that he was helping Gary and that everything
was for the best.
Starsky felt the nip of the needle and his mind went into freefall.
He gathered his breath and yelled out into the amber light
‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO’ before his breath gave out
and his husky voice gave way to a quiet sob. And then the familiar rush of the drug took him and the heroin pushed away his
fears, replacing them with the warm fuzziness which wrapped itself around him and hugged him.
Prudholm looked at the dilated pupils and slack expression
on the other man’s face.
‘That’s it, Gary. Isn’t that better? C’mere.
Let me fix that for ya’ he reached into his jacket pocket and brought out a comb. Leaning forwards, he started to gently
pull the comb through Starsky’s mahogany curls, the teeth snagging in the mats caused by the days of neglect.
‘I’m gonna make ya feel better Gary. Jeez, your
hair’s long. And so curly. Was it ever this curly Gary? That’s it. Papa’s gonna make it all better. Sssh’
And Starsky gave himself over to the older man’s ministrations
as the euphoria took him and made love to his senses.
The next day, Prudholm made his quiet way back to the crypt.
He’d stayed with Starsky/Gary all night and when the bound man had started to come around from the second hit of heroin,
he’d once again slammed another shot into his veins before Starsky had known what was happening or had time to protest.
But now as he started to come down again, and his limbs started
to jerk against his bonds and he moaned low in his throat, George knew he needed more stuff. He’d used up the initial
supply that Mickey had brought for him and now he was ready to meet the little snitch again. He’d been back to his home
and had slit the seam of his mattress and pulled out the money he’d saved from the legitimate sale of his Mom’s
home and the not so legitimate dealings he’d had over the years with Bay City’s lower life forms. Counting it,
he had just shy of $80,000 stuffed in an old sock. How much would that buy? He had no idea, but he knew pretty soon he’d
have to find more.
Mickey wound his way though the headstones, getting used now
to meeting Prudholm in the creepy place in either the dead of night, or the very early morning. He saw the older man standing
to one side of the crypt entrance and wondered idly how the curly haired cop was faring inside. Although he’d had a
long association with Starsky it had never been an easy relationship and while the brunet occasionally gave him money for
drink, or his next fix, Mickey didn’t like the way the cop did his business. Although not particularly wanting to hurt
Starsky, he had no real reason to rescue him either. And if Prudholm was going to give him the amount of money he said he
would, then there’d be enough for Mickey to “divert” some finances his way and still give Crazy George enough
to keep Starsky happy, or at least out of the way.
He sidled up to Prudholm.’ Ya got the doh?’
George nodded and handed him the sock stuffed with bills. ‘How
much can ya get with that?’ he asked.
Mickey pursed his lips. One thing he did like about dealing
with Prudholm was that, while George was clearly dangerous enough to hurt when necessary, he had no idea of the finer points
of the drug business. $80,000 would probably buy 25 hits of top quality Mexican Brown, the best heroin money could buy. But
George didn’t now that. To Prudholm all that mattered was what ended up in the veins of his “son”. He licked
his lips in anticipation.
‘Should get enough for 10 or 12 hits’ he said casually,
his voice sounded amazingly level, even for him.
‘That’s not enough. He’ll need more’.
‘Well I told ya what to do. Ya have to get the rest from
‘Hutchinson?’ For a moment Prudholm looked blank.
‘Oh, Hutchinson. Yeah. Right. I can do that. But Gary needs the next shots. When can ya get back?’
Mickey smiled winningly. ‘I’ll be back in around
five hours, ok?’
‘Uh huh. But no longer. He’s hurtin’ Prudholm
Mickey grinned. He knew George had give Starsky four shots
so far. ‘I bet he is’ he said, knowing that by now the cop would be pretty well hooked on the drug, his system
taking away any free will he had in the decision as to whether to take more or not. If he even had had that choice to begin
with. He set off back up the hill and away to connect with his pushers. The guy he was using was pretty well stocked at the
moment and Mickey knew he’d be able to replenish his own supplies at the same time.
Prudholm went back inside the crypt and looked down at the
bed. During the night Starsky had been quiet, away in his own euphoric world of crimson dreams and strawberry sensations.
Now however, he was coming down again. It had been six hours since his last shot and his muscles were beginning to cramp.
The pains weren’t helped by the fact that he was still bound to the bed and he couldn’t flex his arms or legs
to relieve them. He groaned, his eyes now pinpoint bright in the dim light.
Prudholm sat down on the edge of the mattress and smoothed
his hand over Starsky’s brow.
‘How’re ya doin’ Gary?’
The brunet’s eyes flew open and he jumped at the sound
of the older man’s voice. He knew his body was slowly becoming reliant on the drug and he rebelled against it, but at
the same time, he despised himself because he craved the next rush. Anything to take his mind away from his hellish confinement.
‘F fine…..t’riffic’ he stammered through
gritted teeth. Prudholm took a grey, dirty cloth and wiped the fine sheen of sweat away from Starsky’s forehead.
‘Ssh…..don’t worry. I’ll get ya some
more soon son. It won’t hurt so much then’.
‘D don’t gimme any m more. H hurts too m much’.
‘But the medicine’ll take the hurt away’
‘F fuckin’ moron. The drugs m makin’ me hurt.
N not Gary. I’m not your f fuckin’ son’ the hurting cop ground out, his jaw muscles working to keep himself
from crying out at the pains in his limbs.
Prudholm stared at the younger man, as if trying to decide
just who it was laying there on the bed in front of him. Starsky could see the eyes flickering as Prudholm’s mind worked
the scenario, and a small amount of hope found it’s way into his drug befuddled mind. But then Prudholm’s hand
came up again and his fingers carded through the matted sweat damp curls. He looked at the last of the heroin filling the
syringe and back at Starsky’s hungry eyes. Four shots in less than 36 hours. No-one could take that amount without feeling
‘I can see you’re hurting son. Here, let me help’
Prudholm muttered as he plunged the needle into another vein on Starsky’s arm. This time, the brunet didn’t struggle
so much, but he felt sickened at himself as he welcomed the total rush of the drug and embraced the feeling of warmth and
Hutch pushed open the curtains of Starsky’s bedroom and
grimaced at the bright sunlight as it hit him in the face. He’d finally taken notice of his Captain’s orders the
previous night and had gone back to get some rest. He could go for so long without sleep, but sooner or later his body craved
rest and Hutch knew his own body well enough to feel when the time had come for his muscles to slow and his cognitive abilities
to diminish. When that time came he was of no further use to his partner and he’d gone to bed to rest.
But he couldn’t leave the brunet out of his thoughts
and, as in previous times when they’d been separated, he’d found his feet taking him to his partner’s apartment
rather than his own. Somehow it made him feel connected to Starsky to be in the same room the brunet slept in and he’d
gotten into the bed and immediately smelled Starsky’s masculine scent on the sheets and pillow. It was an unmistakable
mixture of pine scented shampoo and sandalwood soap, along with the faintest hint of Pierre Cardin aftershave. Hutch breathed
it in, thinking that if anyone saw him, they’d think he was one of the dorkiest, soapiest guys on the face of the earth.
But with that fragrance in his head, he managed to slip into a restful and deep sleep where even dreams were banished.
Now, with the morning, he felt rested and ready to continue
the search for Starsky.
Hutch ducked into the shower and emerged refreshed and recharged
five minutes later. Without much hope, he padded to the brunet’s fridge and opened the door, looking for something vaguely
edible for breakfast. Not really wanting a beer, a four day old cold pizza or some of the brunet’s home made chilli,
he resorted to a glass of water before dressing, drying his hair and setting out once more into the city.
This morning’s target was to be 5th Avenue. The man had
been a reliable source of information in the past, and as much as he could, Hutch quite liked the tall laconic man. And he
hoped he may have some information Hutch might be able to use to trace Prudholm or Starsky. He got into his Mustang and switched
on the engine. With the top down, the morning air felt cool and crisp on his newly washed and still damp scalp and it served
to waken the blond up even further. He set off for the city centre, aiming for the seedier area down by the docks, where 5th
Avenue usually hung out.
As he drove, Hutch’s eyes were constantly scanning the
sidewalks left and right as he watched out for anyone else who may have something he could use to trace Starsky.
He’d only gone a few blocks further than the Metro when
he caught sight of a small, narrow set of shoulders ducking down one of the side streets. Hutch pulled over to the side of
the road and watched Mickey look both ways before going into the back door of one of the less salubrious bars. The blond bided
his time. Although he hadn’t banked on squeezing the little snitch for information right now, this was as good a time
as any. He drummed his fingers impatiently on the wheel of the car, knowing that if he went into the bar after Mickey now,
he’d queer the little man’s pitch and scare the weasel in the process. No, best to wait and corner him outside
and on his own.
He pulled the car into the alleyway and effectively blocked
off the entrance as he waited. Whatever Mickey was doing, it was taking time and Hutch had almost given up hope, thinking
that Mickey must have used the front door to leave when suddenly the door into the alleyway opened, and the small figure emerged.
Hutch pushed the gas pedal and moved the car slowly forward,
tailing the snitch. Mickey had walked a few paces before he realised he was being followed and he looked swiftly over his
shoulder. Hutch caught the look of fear in the beady bright eyes and gunned the engine, closing the distance between them
until Mickey realised there was nowhere for him to run.
Hutch stopped the car and got out as Mickey pushed his back
against the wall, his eyes never leaving the flaxen haired cop.
‘Mickey’ Hutch greeted
‘Hey, Hutch…erm….what brings you to this
part of town? Mickey asked cautiously.
Hutch watched the little man carefully. His years on the force
had attuned him to body language, especially the body language associated with nerves or those who were anxious. And now he
observed those tell tale signs in Mickey. The sheen of sweat on the little man’s upper lip; the way his eyes glided
away from Hutch’s never meeting the cop’s gaze once; the hitch in his breath; the way his voice had taken on a
higher timbre. Mickey was anxious about something. Way more anxious than if he’d just met Hutch out on a morning’s
‘I was hoping you might be able to help me Mickey’
The little man seemed to shrink against the wall. ‘Well
you know me Hutch. Always ready to help, ya know’ he held tightly to the package under his arm covered by his coat.
His arm almost trembling with the pressure he exerted on it, hiding it from Hutch’s sight.
‘Yeah right. For the right price huh?’ the blond
‘Oh now, Hutch, ya now I don’t mean to……a
man’s gotta make a livin’.
‘Uh huh. My partner’s missing. Have ya heard anything
Mickey’s eyes slid sideways again. ‘Yeah….Huggy
Bear mentioned. Erm….anythin’ I can do, you know that’.
‘Well. Have you heard anything? Where he might be? Anyone
asking about a cop maybe? Or maybe someone asking about George Prudholm?’ Hutch pressed.
‘No…no nuthin Hutch…..but if I do….I’
Hutch reached into his back pocket and took out his money.
He peeled of $20 bill and waved it under Mickey’s nose’
‘Ya hear anything, I want to be the first to know. Got
Mickey’s face showed confusion. ‘You don’t
need to do that Hutch. You know me. I like Starsky. I don’t need that’ but his eyes never left the money wafting
in front of his face.
‘I know that Mickey. Call it an incentive’ He pushed
the bill into Mickey’s ready hand. ‘Remember, I want to be the first to know’.
The little snitch nodded enthusiastically. ‘Sure thing
Hutch. You’ll be the first. I hope you find him. And I hope he’s ok’.
Hutch watched him dart away, trying to get over the feeling
that he hadn’t got all he needed from the small man, but knowing he couldn’t push any harder for the minute. But
there might come a time…. He got back into his car and set off again to look for 5th Avenue.
Prudholm paced the area outside the crypt, his face a mask
of distrust, pain and exhaustion. In the hours since he’d taken Starsky/Gary he’d had little sleep, and now he
was impatient for the delivery he was supposed to have taken from Mickey. It had been almost 24 hours since he’d given
the little man the $80,000 and he was beginning to give up hope of seeing the man, his money or the drugs again. He cursed
under his breath.
After the shot he’d given Starsky/Gary the previous day,
which hadn’t seemed to last as long as the others Starsky/Gary had come around to more and more pain. George had spent
a large portion of the night sponging the curly haired man’s face and chest in an attempt to break the fever which was
ravaging his body, stroking the sweat slick chest and arms and trying to sooth the man with his voice. The curly head had
rocked back and forth on the mattress and several times Starsky had called out in his delirium asking for Hutch. Some of the
time Prudholm understood that this was Starsky and not Gary, but most of the time, the older man tried his best to stop the
violent shudders and low moans that escaped the brunet’s lips by whispering into the man’s ear that he was Papa
and that he was here and he wouldn’t let anything happen to his son.
For Starsky the world was descending into a vicious circle
of euphoria, fever, tremors, depression and pain until the next hit and the cycle started all over again. His body, during
the times when he was coming down hurt more than he ever thought possible without passing out. And on a subliminal level he
understood that his body was becoming addicted to the heroin. But the drug was insidious in its takeover and there was no
way that even the strongest man could overcome the cravings and effects of withdrawal.
Now Prudholm glanced up from his prowling and sighed as he
saw the little snitch weaving his way through the headstones. Mickey’s gait was not as smooth as normal and twice the
little man seemed to lose his way, stopping a moment and retracing his steps before continuing down the hill. Finally he arrived
at the crypt and Prudholm saw the pinpoint pupils and the slightly vacant expression on Mickey’s face. Whatever the
delay, the small man had obviously taken a shot of courage from the delivery he’d taken for Prudholm.
‘Where the hell have you been’ George hissed.
Mickey stared at him, working to focus on the man in front
of him. ‘I had a little difficulty. I met Detective Hutchinson. I had to lie low in case he followed me. But I got your
stuff. Its good shit. The best’ he handed Prudholm a package containing brown powder and stood back as the older an
examined the package.
‘Don’t seem much for the money’ he observed,
prodding the plastic wrapper.
‘Enough for twelve hits. After that, I need more money.
It aint cheep ya know’ Mickey sniffed and wiped the back of his hand over his nose.
‘OK well, I need to give him some of this now. Wait here,
I’ll be back’.
He turned and was about to go back into the crypt when Mickey
took hold of his arm.
‘Hutch is lookin’ for him. You gotta be careful.
I told ya. If ya need more muck you’re gonna have to tap him for it. It’s the only way’.
Prudholm looked confused. ‘Hutch? What’s he want
with….oh, yeah, Starsky. Yeah, s’ok. I’ll be careful. Just be back here tomorrow at this time huh? Then
we can decide what to do next’. He watched the little snitch nod then turned his back and went about his business.
Inside the cool dark crypt, the air was heavy with the smell
of ammonia. Whilst Prudholm had taken care to nurse “Gary” through the night, giving him the occasional drink,
combing his hair, shaving his beard and wiping his face and neck, there were only a couple of occasions when he’d unzipped
the cops jeans and allowed urine to flow into an empty water bottle. For the rest of the time, Starsky lay in his own mess,
slowly becoming more and more sore and raw.
Prudholm crossed to the bed and as he sat down Starsky’s
eyes opened. His pains argued with him, the muscles in his arms and legs needing to be able to flex and bend, but the bonds
around his limbs leaving him anchored in pace. Whatever Crazy George was thinking about the bonds, it seemed he had no intention
of slackening them and the brunet’s shuddering pulled against the ropes, causing more trickles of blood to start their
crooked course down his arms through the residue already caked there. He groaned, the “nod” having passed, to
be replaced by more fever and cramps in his stomach and limbs. He craved the next fix, just to stop himself from hurting and
to escape this nightmare existence.
‘Sh shit, hurts….ungh’ he tried ineffectually
to bring his knees up to relieve the pressure on his cramping guts.
Prudholm knelt next to the bed. ‘Easy son, easy. Try
to relax huh?’
Pain filled indigo eyes regarded him from a face slick with
‘Go t’hell….get ‘way from me. I…ungh,
oh God, fuck….hurts’ his husky voice trailed off as another set of pains assailed him.
‘Tell me what I can do son. Anything Gary, just say’.
Starsky had heard it all before – Crazy George would
do anything for him, so long as it didn’t include untying him. He refused to waste his breath on that one any more.
But he needed something. Something to make the pains go away. Something to make this existence a little more bearable. He
needed something. He needed another shot. No, his mind rebelled. No he wouldn’t allow himself to descend so far. Would
he? The drug’s embrace pulled at his consciousness – just one more shot to take away the pain and the horror.
But the drug was a horror in itself. Which was the lesser of the two evils? The horror of the dark, the filth and the pain,
or the knowledge that each shot he took into his veins made his eventual withdrawal all the harder to bear. He made up his
‘G gimme more’ he rasped. ‘J just need one
m more shot’. Starsky heard his own voice asking for more of the drug and his heart rebelled against it. But Hutch wasn’t
here. He’d lain there so long, his whole world had collapsed to the darkness and discomfort of the nightmare and he
wanted any escape he could find. The comfort the drug gave him was compelling, and if the blond wasn’t here to help
him, he’d find some other way to survive.
Prudholm nodded and quickly prepared the next shot, adding
just a little more to the syringe although Mickey had told him it as the good stuff. Starsky no longer shrank away from the
needle, instead welcoming the happy place he knew he would float away to, but the effects didn’t seem to be lasting
quite so long and he hoped Prudholm would have more for him. Other than that, he may just as well die now.
George tied his tourniquet around the brunet’s arm and
flicked at the veins there, But each one seemed to have been punctured already and none rose up to meet his fingers. He sighed
and retied the rubber tubing around the other arm where new veins reared up in answer to his prodding. Starsky sighed too
as he felt the sharp scratch before the hot flush on his skin and the calm which smothered his troubled mind. Slowly his limbs
relaxed back against the filthy mattress and the indigo blue eyes closed, embracing the feelings.
Hutch dry scrubbed his face in bewilderment. None of his sources
had any information for him. Sweet Alice had telephoned him late the previous night and his heart had leapt as he thought
she’d got some information for him. But, sweet Alice was living up to her name in a way other than that she was noted
for, and she merely wanted to check in with Hutch that he was ok and that he’d managed to find his partner. Sorrowfully
Hutch had had to tell her that he had no more news, and as he’d put the telephone down, he’d felt a rush of despondency.
Where the hell was Starsk?
Now he was out on the road again, although he was unaware of
where he would be going next. 5th Avenue had come up with nothing, neither had Mickey, Uncle Joey or any of the other miscellaneous
snitches he’d questioned around the streets of the city. How could a 6’ bundle of energy just disappear? Someone
must know something! Hutch looked at his watch. 5:30pm. Time he headed back to the Metro to check in with Dobey. Maybe the
police Captain had had better luck than he had.
He wearily walked up the stairs and along the long corridor
to his Captains office and opened the door without knocking. Dobey looked up hopefully, but the hope left his eyes as he took
in Hutch’s exhausted expression, the mussed hair and creased clothing. He knew without asking that the blond had had
no luck again and he sighed, putting down his pen. He got up from his desk and silently went into the other room, returning
a moment later with a mug of coffee which he handed to the flaxen haired cop. Hutch looked up.
‘Hutchinson, you look all in. I told ya to get some rest’.
‘I know Cap. And I did sleep last night, but it just
seems that every way I turn there’s nothing. No news. Nada. Its like he never existed. He’s disappeared off the
face of the earth, I swear’.
‘Nothing from 5th Avenue?’
The blond shook his head and took another pull at the hot black
coffee. ‘He said he’d keep his ears open, but he didn’t seem too hopeful. I don’t know what to do’.
‘Well tonight you’re coming home with me. Edith
knows what you’re like when anythin’ happens to Starsky. She’s worried for you. She wants to feed ya’.
‘Thanks, but I can’t’.
Dobey sighed. ‘Gimme a break huh? If you don’t
come home for dinner, she’s gonna make me eat everything she’s cooked. It happened last night an’ I was
up all night with indigestion. Its only an hour. Just one hour and then you can go back to lookin’ huh?’
Hutch nodded reluctantly. ‘Whatever you say Cap’n.
Far be it from me to add inches onto your waistline. But first I’m gonna go check on Mickey again. There was just somethin’
about the little weasel. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him. He looks shifty at the best of times, but there
was something else about him yesterday. I’m gonna go an’ push a little bit more’.
‘You think he knows something?’ Dobey asked.
‘Dunno. But there’s only one way to find out. He
looked anxious….more anxious than usual and I kinda get the feeling he isn’t telling me everything. I’ll
go lean on him so more’. He pushed himself up from the chair, biting back a low groan.
‘Hope you’re feelings are right’ Dobey said
although he thought the blond was clutching at straws. ‘and don’t forget, back at mine for 7:00’.
Starsky jerked awake, a new sensation assaulting his body.
Once again he was alone in the pitch black, but this time there was an unaccustomed weight on his chest and he held his breath
as he tried to decipher what it was. The weight moved and small cold claws pricked at his skin. Realisation hit. There was
a rat on his chest!
The brunet shrieked into the darkness, trying to move away
from the rodent’s furry body and the rat leapt down from it’s perch, leaving the bound man alone again.
The shock of his awakening and the fear of what the rat had
been doing made Starsky’s heart hammer in his chest, the beats far more rapid than they should have been. He strangled
down a sob as the pains started up in his stomach and back and he felt the heat from his fever start to burn again. How long
had it been since his last hit? He couldn’t remember, but his body told him it was too long and he tried to raise his
head to see if he could see any signs of Prudholm.
It had been 7 days since the curly haired cop had been free
and during all of that time, he’d been tied in one position on the bed. Now he couldn’t feel his arms and legs
any more. He saw himself as a limbless being, the feeling having long since been lost from his extremities. At first it had
worried him, but with each successive shot of the heroin, the fear had flown further away until now, with over 20 doses in
his system, he couldn’t care less. He also didn’t particularly care about the pin points of pain he felt down
his spine, on his shoulder blades, on his hips and at the back of his head. It might have worried him a little if he could
have seen the pressure sores forming down his spine and on each spiny protuberance. Or the smear of blood on the mattress
from the large sore on the back of his head. And he might have been more worried still if he could see the red raw, blistered
skin around his groin caused by the acid from his own urine. During the past 7 days, although Prudholm had given him small
amounts to drink, he’d had no food at all, and now the ribs were beginning to push through the skin of his chest, his
sodden, filthy jeans becoming more loose around his hips.
Now the rat had disappeared, Starsky rested his head back on
the mattress and tried to stop the shaking of his limbs as he waited for Prudholm and his next trip to oblivion.
Hutch walked wearily into the precinct on his seventh day without
his partner. It had been seven of the longest days of his life as he pounded the streets looking for Starsky. Every corner
he turned, every bar he walked into, he longed to see the curly head and the wide grin. But each time he questioned a snitch
or poked around one of the dives, he came up empty handed and he had just about run out of options.
He hauled himself up the steps and was just about to duck into
the bathroom when he heard Elaine’s voice shouting down the corridor to him.
‘Hutch, get into Dobey’s office now. There’s
a guy asking for you and you only’.
Hutch’s long legs powered him along the corridor with
renewed vigour and he skidded to a halt outside the office just as he heard Dobey’s voice on the telephone asking the
other person to hold for just another minute. Even from that distance, Hutch could hear the person on the other end of the
line ranting and he pushed his way into the small room, his hand held outstretched for the receiver.
Dobey held it out to him with a pitying look on his face and
quietly hit the button on its sister phone, holding his hand over the receiver to quieten any noise. Hutch spoke calmly into
‘This is Detective Hutchinson’.
‘So ya finally hauled your ass to the phone huh? Don’t
your partner mean anything to ya?’ the voice challenged him. It sounded familiar and it took Hutch a moment to realise
to whom it belonged.
‘Prudholm. What have you done to Starsky? Where is he?’
The man giggled madly. ‘I have him good ‘n’
safe. Don’t worry about him I’ve got Stars…. Gary. Gary needs money’.
The blond was about to say something, but the name brought
him up short. Gary. Shit, Prudholm thought Gary was with him! Careful Hutchy, he thought.
‘So where’s Gary now?’ he asked softly.
‘He’s with me. I need money or I’ll….or
I’ll…..Gary needs….no Starsky. Starsky. I have Starsky an’ you’ll never see him again unless
I get $500,000 by tonight’.
‘Where have you got my partner?’ Hutch ground out.
‘Let him go and we can maybe get ya the money’.
George giggled again. ‘I may be crazy, but I aint stupid.
You get Starsky when I get the money’.
Hutch looked up at his boss. He knew their policy was never
to negotiate with kidnappers. Odds were that the kidnapped person would wind up dead anyhow. But Prudholm wasn’t your
average kidnapper and Dobey’s eyes widened. He signalled Hutch to keep the man talking, but Prudholm caught the pause.
‘If anyone else is listening in, it won’t do ya
no good. I’m calling from a phone box a long way from where that sorry ass cop is. No use tracin’ the call’.
Dobey nodded at Hutch signalling that he should agree to the
transaction. They’d worry about the fallout afterwards. The main thing now was to get Starsky back.
‘Talk to me. When and where?’ Hutch said sharply.
Prudholm grinned to himself. Starsky would be out of his hair
and Gary would get his medicine. In his head, the two were distinct individuals, his head so messed up that he couldn’t
understand that the man he had in the crypt wasn’t Gary and that Gary wasn’t Starsky.
‘This afternoon, 4:00pm pier twelve, east docks. Come
alone and with the money, or you’ll never see your partner alive again. $500,000 in unmarked non-sequential notes. Any
tricks and Starsky dies, got that?’
Hutch nodded. ‘I got it. No tricks Prudholm or so help
me. I’ll hunt you down wherever you go an’ I’ll make sure that the place you end up will make Cabrillo look
like the Waldorf’. He slammed the phone down and flopped down into the chair in the office, head in his hands.
‘Can we get that kind of money by 4:00?’
Dobey was already on the telephone. He nodded, made arrangements
and put down the phone.
‘I want you going in with back up this time’ he
‘You heard him Cap’n. He said alone or Starsky
dies. I can’t take that chance. It has to be just me’.
‘I’m not taking that Hutchinson. Fine, you can
go alone in your car, but I’m having black and whites closing in as soon as you make contact. I don’t want Prudholm
double crossing us, and the more men we have concealed, the better chance we have of finding Starsky and getting him back’.
The blond looked doubtful. ‘I don’t know Cap. I
don’t want to play around with Starsky’s life. I’d much prefer to…’
‘I know what you want to do, but its not gonna happen.
We do this by the book. Now go get yourself ready and be back here in an hour. You go in with the money and the uniforms close
in once you’ve made contact. No arguments’.
Hutch got up holding up his hand in defeat. ‘Whatever
you say. I’ll be back here by 3:00. And Captain……thanks’.
‘Get outa here’ Dobey gruffed. ‘Just get
him back, ok?’
Four o’clock saw Hutch sitting in his car at pier twelve,
watching and waiting for Prudholm to show. His nerves were a jangling mess as he waited, knowing his partner’s life
was on the line. This was his one and only opportunity to get Starsky back and he’d move heaven and earth to make sure
things went a smoothly as possible. He rested his hand on the canvass bag at his side. It was stuffed with the notes Prudholm
had requested and his hand had shaken as he signed for it back at the Metro. Now it only remained for the madman to actually
turn up and in no time he’d be reunited with his partner.
Hutch caught a movement from the corner of his eye and sat
a little straighter in the car as Prudholm’s car drove slowly up the dock. It stopped almost fender to fender with Hutch’s
Mustang and Prudholm got slowly out, a gun pointing at Hutch’s head. The blond saw the older man’s eyes scanning
the immediate area before they settled on him.
He got out of the car, his hands in the air, the canvas sack
dangling from his left hand.
‘Ya got the doh Hutchinson?’
‘Uh huh’ Hutch waggled the bag. ‘$500,000
all in used notes. Just as you wanted.
‘Bend down and throw it along the ground, nice and slow.
No sudden moves’ Prudholm commanded.
Hutch did as he was bid and stood up again, slowly, his hand
returning to their raised state. ‘Ya gonna count it George?’
‘Do I need to?’
‘No. Tell me where my partner is’.
‘Not so fast. Maybe I do need to count….what’s
that?’ Prudholm’s head snapped up as he caught the glint of sunlight on metal by the side of one of the pier building.
‘I told you to come alone!’ he shouted, excitedly.
‘I did George. I came alone. No-one but me an’
you’ Hutch insisted.
But the madness had overtaken Prudholm again and the gun in
his hand waved around erratically.
‘I told ya….alone….ya didn’t believe
me…..you’ll never see…’
‘Ssh, Prudholm…George, look at me. There’s
no-one here but…’Hutch ducked down swiftly as Prudholm’s gun levelled so that it was trained on his head.
‘Prudholm, no….wait we can talk’ he persisted
‘It’s too late for that. You lied. You said you
were alone an I know you’re not. You lied to me an’ I’m gonna…You’ll never see Starsky again.
Starsky’s hurtin’ Gary’s hurtin’. Gary needs his medicine an’…’ the gun continued
to wave dangerously as Prudholm backed up towards his car.
He stepped backwards slowly but as he reached for his car,
he slipped slightly and his hand went skywards, his finger squeezing the trigger by accident.
All hell broke loose as the uniforms who’d been hiding
behind the building darted forward perceiving that Hutch was in trouble. The blond stood swiftly, yelling at them to get back,
but Prudholm had lost his tenuous hold on his sanity and started to wield his gun like a machine gun, waving it back and forth,
screaming for them to get back.
For one moment he seemed to be getting into his car to make
his getaway and Hutch was trying to get to his own to give chase. There were four teams of uniformed officers now closing
in on the duo, guns raised and pointing at the older man and as Prudholm waved his gun once more in their direction. The youngest
of the officers, a boy of no more than 20 who was in only his second week on the job shouted once more for Prudholm to get
down and the madman looked at him, his gun swinging round. The young man stared down the barrel of the gun for one second
before squeezing his own trigger. The police issue Colt roared to life, the shot echoing around the deserted pier and Prudholm
screamed, falling to the ground clutching at his chest.
As the young man’s partner swiftly took the weapon from
him, Hutch lurched forward dropping to his knees by the side of the older man. He pulled Prudholm to him, rolling him over
onto his back and staring at the blossoming stain of crimson that rapidly soaked Prudholm’s shirt.
George’s eyes were open wide in alarm and shock and his
lips were working soundlessly. Frantically Hutch reached for his handkerchief and pushed it against the hole in Prudholm’s
chest trying to stem the flow of blood, but the older man’s eyes were beginning to roll up into his head.
‘Prudholm….stay with me George….c’mon,
stay with me’ Hutch urged, holding the man’s body to him. He looked up. ‘Someone get an ambulance’
‘Too late’ Prudholm whispered, ‘S’too
‘Stay with me, ya hear. Where’s Starsky. GEORGE,
where’s my partner?’
Prudholm’s eyes opened n surprise. ‘Gary….oh
God, Gary….needs me….he’s……he…..’
Prudolm’s body sagged against the blond cop and his eyes
rolled up into his head. Hutch pressed his fingers against his carotid artery, seeking a pulse, but life had left the old
man and gently, the big blond let his body slip to the floor.
He stared blankly at the broken body. His best chance to find
Starsky snuffed out along with Prudholm’s life.
Hutch looked up at the surrounding ring of uniformed officers,
the youngest of whom was now staring white faced at the dead man at his feet.
‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry’ he whispered
over and again.
Hutch ignored him, not trusting himself to speak. With Prudholm
dead his last chance to find Starsky was dead. What could he do now? One of the older officers bent down by his side and put
a hand round Hutch’s shoulder.
‘He didn’t know Hutch. He thought Prudholm was
gonna shoot you’.
Hutch stared at the dead man. ‘I almost wish he had’
he said softly. ‘He was my last hope. He knew where Starsky was. Now I have no clue where to start. What the fuck made
him shoot?’ he said it quietly almost to himself. He knew the young officer had shot with the best of intentions and
he couldn’t bring himself to lose his head with the young man, but the despair was raw in his voice.
‘I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time’
he muttered and suddenly he was transported far away in time and place
A dark rooftop, stars shining above and the scene
illuminated by a bright moon. He’d thrown himself out onto the rooftop in search of Vic Bellamy, launching himself out
from the door and behind one of the air conditioning units as Bellamy pointed his gun, letting off several shots. Then, like
now, he was in search of answers, that time answers to the composition of the poison ravaging his partner’s body
and Bellamy was the only one who he thought would know.
The big man had shed his phoney leg cast and had hot footed
it up onto the roof and now Hutch was sprawling on the hard rooftop dodging bullets; He’d chased Bellamy around the
roof, narrowly escaping the hot lead several times, but now he was cornered, out of options with his cover gone. Bellamy was
bearing down on him, gun levelled at his head and he’d closed his eyes, not wishing to see the shot that would take
him out. He’d flinched as he heard the discharge of the weapon and braced himself for the feel of the hot slug tearing
through his flesh, but it never came. Instead, it was Bellamy who dropped to the ground, dead before his body hit and Hutch
had rushed to him, flipping him over onto his back and pulling him up by the jacket. But he was too late and Bellamy had breathed
his last breath. He let the body down gently and turned to see his sweat soaked partner leaning precariously against the lintel
of the rooftop door.
Rushing over to the smaller man, he’d taken Starsky
in his arms. ‘What did ya have to do that for?’ he asked as Starsky gasped against his body. Slowly the brunet’s
pain filled eyes had opened and tried to focus on him as the ghost of a smile flashed across the handsome face.
‘Seemed like a good idea at the time’
the curly haired cop had murmured before he collapsed unconscious and slid down the wall to crumple at Hutch’s feet.
Hutch shook himself from his dark thoughts.
‘I know he didn’t mean to, just get him away from
me. I can’t talk to him right now Alan’ he said to the older cop. The man stood and signalled for the circle of
black uniforms to move away and give the blond some space.
Painfully, Hutch pulled himself together. Was there anything
to be salvaged from this mess? He ran his fingers through his hair and scrubbed at his scalp. C’mon Hutchinson think!
‘Someone search his car’ he asked looking at Alan
again. ‘Maybe there’s something in there that can help. Anything, but for Gods sake don’t disturb anything.
‘Sure thing Hutch’ Alan nodded and started to give
orders to the others as Hutch looked back at Prudholm. There wasn’t much to search on the man. He still wore the regulation
blue coveralls that Cabrillo inflicted on their residents, although now he’d added a warmer blue jacket and this Hutch
now started to search with trembling fingers.
He patted down the still warm body, running his hands down
Prudholm’s legs. He inserted a finger into the dead man’s shoes, questing for something; anything. The breast
pocket of the coveralls yielded a gum wrapper and a stick of gum along with a part used packet of cigarettes and a spent match.
Another pocket at the waist of the coveralls held a dirty grey rag.
Hutch moved onto the jacket and added a quarter, two cents
and a safety pin to his haul from one pocket. He inserted his hand into the left hand pocket and brought out a dollar bill
and another scrap of paper. He was about to toss it onto the ground with the small pile of other belongings when he saw spidery
writing scrawled across it. He smoothed the wrinkled paper out and held it up to the light. It showed a number which looked
like a telephone number, but one of the digits at the end was partly obscured.
Hutch stood up. ‘Hey Al. What d’ya make of this?’
The officer walked over and took the paper from Hutch’
hand bending over to get a better light on it. ‘I dunno. Looks like 585-985…..The last number is torn off. I can’t
make it out’.
‘No me neither. I guess I’ll have to take it back
to the Metro, use the phone to trawl through the possibilities’ Hutch said. He hated to waste more time, especially
when this could be a wild goose chase. But Alan put a hand on his arm.
‘Hold on. I think the kid may well come into his own’.
He waved the young officer over and the dark haired boy approached reluctantly. ‘Jay, show Hutch your new toy. Ya think
you can help?’
Jays face cracked into a shy smile. ‘Ya think? I’m
so sorry Detective Hutchinson. I thought he was gonna…. ' he tailed off and motioned Hutch to follow him back to the
police car. Hutch followed reluctantly but his eyes opened wide when the young man showed him the big black box nestling on
the back seat.
‘It’s a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X It’s a brand
new invention – a moble phone. They only released it this year. I blew my savings on buying it’.
Hutch looked at the contraption, the battery was as big as
a car battery, but the handset was smaller than a normal one, white, with an arial sticking out of the end. ‘You can
use it like a regular phone?’ he asked.
‘Sure thing, so long as I can get a signal’ Jay
said proudly and switched the contraption on. He waited, wiggling the receiver through 360 degrees before smiling in satisfaction.
‘Dial here and use it like normal’ he said, handing the handset to the blond. Hutch took it in wonderment.
‘Thanks kid’ he murmured as he took out the scrap
of paper and started to dial.
For the next 15 minutes, the blond dialled 585-985 –
1,2,3,4,5 and 6 with no luck. Those numbers belonged to people who seemed to be law abiding citizens, or at least people who
Hutch didn’t know. The two did not always equate. Hutch was getting desperate and sighed as he dialed again, the novelty
of the new device waning now. He punched the small buttons
585-9857 and gazed at the sky as he heard the number connect
and the ring tone start. The phone rang three, four, five times before a rasping and familiar voice answered
‘Hello’ Mickey said into the phone.
Hutch froze. Mickey the snitch! He was sure it was. He’d
recognize that wheezing halting speech anywhere! He hit the disconnect button and handed the device back to the young officer.
‘Nice going kid. You might just have bought my partner
some more time. Ya wanna come see if we can find my snitch Mickey?’
Jay looked at Hutch, then at his partner Alan and back at Hutch.
‘No, I…erm…I can’t….I….well, I just hope you find Starsky. He sounds like one hell of
The blond suppressed an urge to ruffle Jay’s dark hair
and walked away. God was he ever so young? It seemed like a lifetime ago that he joined the force fresh from the academy.
He made his way back to the car and got in.
That little weasel Mickey. He was easier to find than most,
but he wanted to find him and follow him, not take him in there and then. Slimy as the little snitch was, he could keep his
mouth shut with the best of them. No, he needed to find him and follow him. Mickey would lead him to Starsky.
Mickey waited for Prudholm to return. He’d had a long
discussion with him about what he should do to get the money from Hutch. It had been hard. Towards the end the older man found
it almost impossible to differentiate between Starsky and Gary and the brunet captive had not helped matters towards the end.
Starsky had taken to calling Prudholm Papa just to get his next fix, further fueling George’s delusions.
Mickey waited on the corner of the block waiting for Prudholm
to come back and give him the money. He never for one minute doubted that Hutch would find the money. And once George had
handed it over, Mickey would slice some more of it off for his own recreational uses.
But Prudholm wasn’t showing and Mickey wondered whether
he’d been double crossed. He glanced at his watch. They should have met up an hour ago. It was taking too long and he
needed to find his own supplier otherwise his name would be mud.
The little man snook around the corner of the building and
pulled his collar up higher around his neck. He set off in his quick little gait across the street, back towards his own patch.
Snowy White was his supplier and he needed to get back to Snowy pretty quickly if he was going to get his muck.
As he walked he constantly looked over his shoulder, scared
he would be followed or that one of the other snitches whose patch he was walking through might take offence and deliver a
little retribution. He sighed as he made it to familiar territory and relaxed, rushing down his familiar alleyways to his
usual spot by the telephone kiosk on the corner. Happy to be back in his own neighborhood, he didn’t notice the red
Mustang parked quietly on the corner, nor the blond who was hunkered down behind the wheel.
But Hutch saw Mickey and he smiled grimly, looking at his watch.
C’mon Mickey. Do what you have to do, then lead me
to my partner.
For the next half hour, Hutch watched as a succession of men
greeted Mickey, dealt and walked on and finally at 7:00ish, Mickey took one more look around and set off from his corner.
Hutch let the little man get around the corner before switching on the car engine and following at a discrete distance as
Mickey wound his way through the streets.
Hutch’s heart was in his mouth, the beats hammering in
his chest as he tasted success. He was getting closer to Starsky he knew, but would the brunet be ok when he found him? He
drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, impatient now to get to his friend, get him home and get things back to normal.
The blond was more than a little surprised when he saw the
little man duck into the cemetery and make his cautious way through the headstones. Hutch waited at the gates, not wanting
to bring any undue attention to himself before easing the car through the narrow pathways and down the hill. It was growing
dark now and Hutch had difficulty making out where Mickey was going. Using his headlights would only alert the snitch to his
presence and so it was with horror that he saw Mickey pause by one of the larger stone crypts and push open the door.
He stopped the car a little way up the hill and got out. Drawing
his gun, he got out and made his way down the hill and paused at the door of the crypt before pushing the door open.
The stench of ammonia from the interior knocked him sick and
he gagged at the smell, reaching for his handkerchief to put over his nose. His eyes adjusted to the absence of light in the
crypt and he peered into the gloom seeing Mickey holding a syringe and preparing to inject the contents into the bound arm
of his partner.
NB. The Motorola DynaTAC came into commercial use in the
USA in 1983
‘Freeze. Get away from him now’ Hutch’s voice
sounded steely cold in the confines of the small room and Mickey’s small body stopped. His back stiffening at the unforeseen
interruption. The blond walked further into the room, his gun levelled at the little snitch’s head as Mickey slowly
rose from his knees by the side of the bound brunet.
‘Hey…H Hutch. I um…I didn’t…um…I
just found him an’…I had no idea he was here. I was gonna see if he was all right then I was gonna call ya’
Mickey blustered, facing the angry cop with shaking hands.
‘Yeah, sure Mickey. You just happened to find him in
the middle of a deserted cemetery in the late evening. What the hell were you doing? Going for an evening constitutional?
Put down whatever’s in your hands and hold them out, wrists together. Good. Now walk towards me, nice and easy’.
Mickey did as he was told and held out his wrists like a meek
lamb as Hutch snicked on one of the cuffs. He looked around for something to anchor Mickey to. Seeing nothing but the bed,
he dragged the small man outside and cuffed him to the door of his car. Snapping the cuffs on and checking that they were
secure, Hutch holstered his weapon and hurried back into the crypt.
The gagging stench of ammonia was just as bad on the second
entry to the crypt and Hutch looked around him, finding both a flashlight and several candles. He coughed, the smell catching
in his throat and lit the candles quickly and then turned to regard his partner by the flickering light.
Starsky was laid on his back on the bed, his arms still tied
to the bed head and his feet to the foot of the metal bedstead. The brunet seemed to be shaking, his arms pulling fitfully
at the blood stained ropes surrounding his wrists and his head rolled back and forth on the filthy ticking mattress. Hutch
knelt down by his side and realised with alarm that his partner’s jeans and sweatshirt were filthy and wet. The smell
of urine hung heavy in the air and Hutch cursed under his breath. He leaned forward.
‘Starsk? It’s me, Starsky?’
The voice seemed to penetrate his partner’s fogged mind
for a moment and the curly haired man stopped his thrashing, staring up at the flaxen haired cop.
Hutch reacted as though he’d been slapped across the
face. Starsky’s voce was husky to the point of being almost unrecognisable and by the state of his wrists, Hutch couldn’t
decide how long he’d been laid on the bed and in his own mess. He stood.
‘S'ok Starsk. Ssh s'ok. Wait right there buddy. I’ll
be right back’ he said softly and reached down to run his hand through the chocolate curls. They were damp with sweat
and matted. Starsky moaned as if the simple touch hurt and Hutch staggered away back out into the cold evening air. He walked
back to the car and grabbed Mickey by the collar, drawing the little man up until he was stood on tiptoe.
‘How long’s he been here?’ he asked, his
face inches away from the snitch’s.
Mickey looked at the anger in Hutch’ eyes and knew it
would be reckless to lie. ‘Since Prudholm took him, mebe a week ago’.
‘And how longs he been tied to that bed?’
Mickey’s eyes slid sideways, refusing to acknowledge
the accusation in the stormy ice blue orbs. ‘All the time’ he said in a small voice.
Hutch’s hands let go of Mickey’s collar reflexively.
He stared at the small man. ‘All the time? Prudholm never let him up? Fuck that’s seven days. You mean he’s
been tied in that one position for a week?’ He saw the frightened nod and his heart broke for his partner. He couldn’t
imagine how Starsky must feel, but it answered the smell, the wet and the mess.
He hurried back into the crypt and back to the brunet’s
side. Starsky was more agitated now. He’d expected Prudholm to come back and give him his next shot. It had been at
least 7 hours since his last one and the effects of the heroin had worn off long ago. Now his cramps had returned full force,
his skin sensitive to the touch so that the gentlest stroke felt like the sting of a whip. He sweated and cursed on the bed
as he saw the figure above him, but his sight was blurred and in the dim light he couldn’t make out who it was.
‘G gimme some more huh?’ he gasped, pulling again
at his wrists and ankles and groaning at the pains.
‘What? Starsk it’s me, its Hutch. Hey buddy c’mon,
lemme look at you’ Hutch said gently, kneeling down next to Starsky’s bed. He reached up to start to untie the
bonds round the abraded, bleeding wrists when his eyes caught sight of the small puncture wounds tramlining the brunet’s
forearm. His finger brushed them lightly and his partner hissed, stiffening.
The blond moved around and checked the other arm, seeing similar
tiny wounds there also. It explained the fever, the sweating and the shuddering and shaking. He counted twenty-two separate
needle marks and his blood boiled.
‘Starsky, it’s me buddy’ he said again, hoping
to get some sort of reaction from his partner and again, the brunet stopped his shivering and listened to the sound of the
familiar voice. But then the cramps coiled around his gut again and he cried out.
‘Just gimme something…..gimme some more huh? I
know ya got it. Fuck…I’ll fuckin’ kill ya…gimme another….oh crap, just shoot me up huh?’
he said, his eyes imploring Hutch to set the needle against his arm.
The flaxen haired man looked around, seeing the syringe that
Mickey had dropped on the floor. It contained a small amount of brown liquid and his worst fears were realised. Twenty-two
shots of heroin! Oh my God. In the time he’d been taken, all those years ago he’d had only had seven forced upon
him. And he was such a mess that for 48 hours he hadn’t been able to think straight, past the pains and the cravings.
How long had Starsky been without the drug? How long since his last shot?
He smoothed his hand over Starsky’s forehead as the brunet
tried to flinch away from his touch. ‘Ssh, Starsk. Just listen to me huh? Its me. Its Hutch, remember Hutch?….Starsky?’
Hutch rubbed his hands through his hair. This was his worst nightmare. Even worse than being addicted himself was the thought
of his partner having to suffer the same bone crushing withdrawals. He looked down at Starsky. All the euphoria of finding
his partner alive fled in the face of the enormity of the situation. What was he going to do now? There was no way he could
let the brunet go to the hospital. A junkie cop was a cop who was out of the force, even if the drug had been inflicted on
him. But at the same time, by the looks of the curly haired man, he needed medical treatment. Shit!
Starsky seemed to be listening to his voice now. He was quieter
and his body wasn’t shivering quite so much. Hutch tried again.
‘Hey buddy. I got ya’.
‘Starsky’s lips worked on the unfamiliar word.
‘Uh huh. What’ve ya gone an’ done now huh?
Let me help you’.
Starsky’s cracked lips spread into the ghost of a grin.
‘What ….k kept ya…..Prudhom…..it was…P Prudho…argh, shit!’ the pain took the brunet’s
breath away and his body stiffened as he thrashed his head from side to side, trying to rid himself of the cramps knotting
Hutch wiped his hand over his partner’s forehead and
was about to start untying the ropes again when Starsky screamed out.
‘Gimme the fuckin’ shit man..I c can’t do
this. Hurts….oh God Hutch it hurts….just lemme up an’ I’ll d do it. Gimme the n needle…please…ahhh
please?….please?’ his struggles abated slightly but Hutch looked as though he’d been bitten by a snake.
He never thought he’d hear his strong, stoical, incedibly brave partner asking to be injected with any sort of drug
- he even hated the pain meds that the hospital occasionally forced upon him. He withdrew his hand from the ropes. If he was
to untie Starsky now, apart from the pain the brunet would feel at trying to move arms that had been held in one position
for seven days, he didn’t want to have to fight the weary man over the syringe full of dope.
Hutch stood up and started to walk away, but Starsky yelled
‘Nooo, don’t leave me. Don’t go, please….gimme?
...leave a light on….hate the d dark. Don’t leave me again. I’ll be quiet…I’ll shuddup….I
w won’t ask for the….just don’t….don’t leave’ he tailed off into a sob and closed his
Hutch bent over the still tethered man.
‘I’ll be right back buddy. Just goin’ t’make
a call. Honest, I’ll be right back and the lights are on. No darkness, Starsk. Promise…no more darkness’.
Starsky looked up at him, a child asking his Dad for permission
to leave his nightlight on. ‘Promise….you’ll c come back?’ he asked in a tiny voice.
Hutch couldn’t trust his own voice to remain steady enough
to answer. He simply nodded, turned and walked away, hearing the strangled whimper behind him.
He made his way back outside and reached into his car for the
microphone, ignoring the little man still attached to his car by the cuffs. ‘This is Zebra 3 requesting a patch through
to Captain Dobey’ he head the clicking on the other line and then he heard Dobey’s gruff voice.
‘Captain, Its Hutch. I’ve found him. At the old
‘Is he ok?’ Dobey asked, relief washing over him.
‘No he isn’t. Prudholm’s had him tied to
a bed for a week. He’s in one hell of a mess…and he’s um….Cap’n he’s been injected. With
‘Oh shit! How much? Do you know?’
‘I can find twenty-two needle marks. He’s hurtin’
Cap and he needs help, but I can’t take him to the hospital. I don’t know what to do’.
There was a pause. ‘Hutch, as your Captain I should tell
you to get him to Memorial, or at least get an ambulance there’.
‘Yeah, I know’ Hutch replied frostily.
‘But as your friend, I hear where you’re coming
from. Is he hurt in any other way?’
‘He’s dirty, he’s thin an’ I think
he’s dehydrated. He needs some sort of medical attention, but I can’t take him there, I just can’t’
‘Okay. I haven’t said this, but can you get him
up to my cabin in the hills, by Pine Lake?’
‘Ok well, take him up there an’ I’ll make
sure you get some medical help’.
‘How? He needs more’n’ Huggy’s black
coffee. He needs a real doctor, although I could do with Huggy too’.
‘Leave that to me. I’ll call Huggy an’ tell
him to meet you up there. An’ as for the doc, I think I can get ya one of those too’.
Hutch swayed with relief. A tide of gratefulness washed over
him as he signed off the radio and hung the microphone up again. He ignored Mickey as he made his way back into the stone
room again. He had a plan. He had somewhere to take Starsky and he had some place to treat his partner. Now all he needed
to do was to get Starsky into the car.
Looking at the brunet, Hutch wondered how he was going to accomplish
that. The sweat soaked man was thrashing against his bonds once again, crying out in his delirium and as Hutch approached
the sodden mattress, Starsky’s eyes flew wide.
‘Yeah buddy, right here’.
‘Hutch it hurts. H hurts so much….I can’t
d do this…gimme?’
‘I can’t buddy. You know that’.
Starsky’s face turned angry. ‘Fuck you! I n need….just
gimme another shot huh? Just one. After that I’ll…I’ll manage. Just another one..Just one? ….Please?’
the brunet’s eyes closed and he heaved against his bonds screaming in pain. The sounds tore at Hutch’s heart.
He knew how much the cravings hurt and so desperately wanted to make it all better for his partner – to take the pains
away. At the same time he needed to keep Starsky safe enough to be in the car without doing anything crazy, or hurting himself
or the blond.
Hutch looked at the syringe that Mickey had discarded. Was
that the answer? Would one more shot make so much difference? If he was to try to move Starsky now, apart from the fact that
the brunet might want to struggle to get more heroin, Hutch knew that his partner’s joints would have seized up from
their confinement and it would hurt like hell to move.
Indigo eyes watched him hungrily as he bent down and retrieved
the syringe, looking at the ugly brown liquid in it’s barrel. The blond looked back at his friend and made his decision.
With self loathing coursing through every vein in his body,
Hutch knocked the air out of the syringe and looked for a vein on his partner’s arm. Most of them had blown, collapsed
by the acrid nature of the heroin, but finally he found one and rapidly slid the needle home before he changed his mind.
He watched as the shuddering body relaxed and Starsky sighed
contentedly, closing his eyes as the rush overtook him. Hutch wiped away the single tear that escaped his eye before heaving
a deep sigh of his own. He started to untie his friend from his bonds, easing the arms down until they rested at Starsky’s
sides. Even with the drug in his system, the brunet screamed out in pain and tried to rock away, but Hutch held him, soothing
him until the shock of the movement had passed.
The blond walked back outside and silently uncuffed Mickey
from the door of his car and lead the little snitch back into the crypt. He threaded the cuffs through the metal rails of
the bed and snapped them shut again.
Without looking at the small man, Hutch picked up the seemingly
feather light body of his partner. Starsky’s body seemed boneless in it’s utterly relaxed state and the blond
cop carried it outside to his car, laying it tenderly onto the back seat. In the cold light of the evening, Hutch saw the
“prison pallor” on his partner’s usually tanned skin, the seven days of captivity in the dark leaving it’s
pale mark and he cursed. The noise caused Starsky to grunt and thrash out his arm, then cry out as the stiffened shoulder
joints protested the movement. Hutch wondered for a moment. It would take an hour to get up to the cabin, traffic permitting.
He didn’t want Starsky to start coming down from the drug and struggling with him in the car. He sighed and withdrew
his spare set of cuffs from the glove box. With a heavy heart he snapped then round Starsky’s left wrist and anchored
it to the door handle. The brunet moaned, but otherwise made no comment.
‘Sorry buddy, but it’s better than being tied up
back in there’. Hutch said softly. ‘Rest easy Starsk. Its gonna be a long bumpy road till you’re recovered’.
He walked back to the crypt and started to close the door.
‘Hey what’re ya doin’? Don’t leave
me here. Ya can’t leave me here. You’re a cop. Cops don’t do things like that’ Mickey protested.
Hutch smiled grimly. ‘Cops don’t shoot up with
horse either Mickey, but that’s what you knew was happening to my partner. I’ll tell the black and whites to swing
by some time soon….if I remember’. He pushed the door closed and got into his car. The sooner he was out of the
cemetery, the better.
Hutch drew up outside the cabin in the woods about an hour
later. During the drive he’d had time to think and Starsky had remained oblivious to the world in the back of the car,
tossing and turning a little restlessly, and muttering under his breath, but relatively quiet and of no trouble. The blond
knew that his partner was going to need some serious care and had some clue of what the brunet would go through from his own
miserable experience with the drug. And he’d only had a few hits. Judging by Starsky’s arms, his behaviour and
his pleading for more of the muck, he’d been subject to a lot more chemical abuse than the blond had ever been and Hutch’s
blood boiled. Killing Prudholm had been the best thing Jay could have done. Because if Hutch had been able to get his hands
on Prudholm alive, he would have torn the older man limb from limb and taken pleasure in doing so. His hands gripped the steering
wheel until his knuckles showed white and he breathed deep. Time for anger would come later. For the minute, he needed to
keep it together for his friend.
As he drew up, Hutch saw Huggy’s cream coloured Caddy
parked at the side of the small wooden cabin and as he drew his Mustang to a halt, the lanky black man got out of his car
and strode over to Hutch, a look of concern etched deep onto his lean face. He put his hand on the roof of the car and bent
down to regard the restless man on the back seat.
‘Oh man. They done a real job on him. Dobey told me they’d
pumped him full o’ shit, but he looks worse than I would have thought’.
Hutch grunted. ‘Looks bad, and smells even worse. Here.
Help me get him inside’ he opened the door and Huggy leaned in, gasped and stood up again quickly, banging his head
on the door sill in his haste.
‘Jeez, you weren’t joking. He’s in one shit
state. What the hell did they do to him?’
‘Later Hug. I’ll tell ya later, but for now let’s
just get him inside huh?’ Hutch urged, unclipping the cuff from the door handle. He’d hated restraining his partner,
even though he knew it was for both their safeties. Now he flung the metal cuffs to one side and put his hands under Starsky’s
‘C’mon buddy, let me get you outa there. Just relax
an’ let me do the work huh?’
Starsky moaned as Hutch put his hands under his partner’s
arms and tugged at his over sensitive skin. ‘Mmmnoooo, hurts…..lemme go’.
‘In a minute partner, I know it hurts, I know. Just need
to get ya inside then you can lie down, ok?’
Huggy grasped Starsky’s legs as Hutch hauled him out
of the car and together the two men carried the still, limp body into the cabin, laying him down on the rag rug by the fireplace.
The brunet started to shake and groan and he curled himself into a ball, holding his hands around his stomach as he moaned
deeply, his eyes closed tight. Hutch knelt by his side and looked at the mess his partner was in.
‘We need to get him cleaned up. See if you can start
the hot water and then we can get him into the shower’.
Huggy nodded and went in search of the immersion heater, returning
a moment later. ‘Hot water should be ready in a little while. Man, he’s hurting already. When did he get his last
Hutch looked away, angry at himself for being so weak. ‘About
an hour ago’ he said softly.
‘You know that for certain?’
‘Yeah, pretty damned sure’ he said bitterly.
‘So Prudholm gave him…..’
‘No, not Prudholm’. Hutch’s voice broke and
he buried his head in his hands.
Huggy understood and came to kneel by his friend, pulling Hutch’s
hands away from his face. ‘Hutch, my friend. You gave him the shot didn’t ya?’
Crystal blue eyes rimmed in red turned him. ‘He was hurting
so much an’ he was gonna hurt himself. I’d never have kept him in the car an’ I had to get him out of that
stinking crypt. I didn’t know what else to do’.
‘You don’t have to justify yourself to me man.
I dig he was hurtin’. I know what its like an’ you did what ya had to do. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
He’s here now an’ we can deal together huh?’
Hutch managed a watery smile. ‘Yeah we can deal. Just
don’t let me shoot him up again in a moment of weakness huh? Thanks Hug. So what d’we do now?’
Huggy looked at the brunet. His jeans, in the stark electric
light of the cabin, had turned from pale blue to almost grey/black, the pale blue sweat shirt too looking grimy. Beneath it,
blood streaked the curly haired man’s arms and showed rust red and caked almost to his elbows. His wrists were raw and
bleeding and the rope had gouged a furrow from the flesh there so that both limbs were red rimmed. Pus leaked from the wounds
showing infection had set in and even in his drugged state, Starsky held his hands close to his chest as if trying to protect
them from further damage.
‘Lets try an' get him cleaned. The water’ll sting
like the devil in those wounds, so at least now, with the horse still in his blood he’ll not hurt quite so much’.
Together the two men scooped up the sick cop who flung out
his arm in protest. ‘Nooo, gettoff me….lousy no good…..lemme be…..hurts’ his eyes flew open
and settled on Huggy, questioning why someone other than Prudholm would be with him, but at the same time needing his next
fix. The nod lasted an ever diminishing time and he was already hurting again. ‘Help me….need some medicine’.
Hutch stopped suddenly. What had his partner said? Medicine?
It took him back forcibly all those years to his own painful memories of being cramped and feverish and begging for his own
medicine and he strangled down a cry.
Oh shit Starsk, please don’t. Don’t say any
more, I need to get through this like you do buddy
Together, Huggy and Hutch took a firmer hold on the brunet
and hauled him into the bathroom trying to turn deaf ears to his pitiful cries. The shower cubicle was not large and for a
moment the blond regarded it, wondering what was the best way of dealing with the situation.
‘Hug, take hold of his shoulders and stand behind him
in the shower. You hold him up an’ I’ll get his clothes off and wash him down ok? Oh wait. Let me get some scissors’
he dashed out leaving Huggy hanging onto the thrashing brunet, returning moments later.
‘Ok, let me turn on the water. Ready?’
‘Uh huh. Just one thing friend. Don’t ever tell
anyone I showered with two other men in a tiny space. I have my reputation to consider’.
Hutch grinned. ‘Believe me Hug. Your secret will be safe
with me. Ok’.
Hutch turned on the water and tested the temperature and once
ready, Huggy dragged Starsky under the stream of warm water and stood with his arms around the brunet’s chest. Starsky
cried out and thrashed his arms about, trying to dislodge Huggy’s grip but the black man held on.
‘Lousy rotten…lemme go…hurts’ Starsky
shouted, his eyes opening in surprise at the wet. He looked at the man in front of him and for a brief moment there was recognition
‘Utch…help me….please don’t let him….ungh….oh
shit….stop it hurtin'?’.
‘I know. I know buddy I'm gonna try. Just hang in there.
We’re gonna make you feel a bit better. No don’t struggle Starsk it’ll hurt more….. Starsky will ya
cut it out. C’mon buddy, that’s it, just calm down’.
Hutch slipped the big scissors under the sleeve of Starsky’s
sweat shirt and cut up the arm and down the other side so that the garment fell away in three pieces. He gazed in horror as
he saw the plough furrow ribs sticking out through the dark curly fuzz on his partner’s chest and cursed under his breath.
The scars of his previous surgeries seemed more livid now that Starsky was so pale and thin and served only to emphasise the
suffering the smaller man had already had to endure. Kneeling quickly, he cut up one leg of the filthy jeans and then the
other, but nothing prepared him for the sight when the stinking material fell away. Or rather didn’t fall away. Instead,
Hutch had to reach up and peel the denim back revealing red raw and blistered skin from the brunet’s hips to just above
his knees. The week of lying in his own urine had blistered the skin in areas and now, as the water coursed over the sensitive
area, Starsky screamed and tried to get his arms away from Huggy’s grip, his toes curling up against the white shower
tray as his knees buckled in pain.
‘Argh….nooo…..ungh get away from me. Oh for
fuvk's sake stop. STOP’ he shouted, his voice raw and rasping. He kicked out at the blond and Hutch fell backwards out
of the shower. He pushed himself up and braced himself against the shower door. Now that his partner was naked, he needed
to get him clean so that the doctor – whichever one Dobey would bring would be able to treat the brunet.
Slowly, knowing it was going to sting like hell, he took the
soap and lathered the softest sponge he could find. Then he took it to his partner and started to soap him down as Starsky
continued to struggle. The soap bit into the wounds of his wrists and Hutch hardened his heart as Starsky screamed again,
the scream ending in a strangled, forlorn sob which turned once again into a raw scream as the water and soap suds hit the
red abraded, blistered skin on the centre of his body.
‘For fucks sake stop….stop please…..nooo…..argh
sweet Jesus…..Hutch….Huuuuuuutch noooo’.
‘I gotta do it partner, believe me I don’t want
to hurt ya, but I gotta get ya clean then you can heal’ Hutch whispered, more to himself than to his partner, who was
lost in a world of pain and confusion. Hutch continued dabbing rather than rubbing at the sore, red raw skin around Starsky’s
hips. Where the skin had actually blistered he directed the water jet alone, rinsing as much grime from his partner as he
could before the screams ate away at his soul and he had to stop.
While Hutch had been carefully cleaning the thin, pale body,
Huggy had managed to rub some shampoo into the brunet’s hair and rinse it so that, ten painful, noisy minutes later,
Starsky was relatively clean and smelled a lot fresher and both Huggy and Hutch were still fully clothed but dripping wet
Starsky’s struggles had calmed some, his energy sapped
by the week without food and the constant chemical assault on his body. It was easier for the duo to get him out of the shower
than it had been to get him in there, but drying him was a whole different ball game. Eventually they gave up and half guided,
half carried the brunet into the big double bedroom and laid him gently down on the bed, still wet.
Starsky immediately curled himself into a ball again, hands
wrapped protectively around his stomach as the sweat once again beaded on his brow.
‘Gimme s some more….need more….more stuff….more’
he mumbled under his breath as his body started to rock back and forth on the bed. Huggy had laid a snowy white towel on the
top of the bed for him to lie on and had covered him with another one. The top towel fell away and Hutch recoiled in horror
as he saw the blood smears from his blistered skin decorating the soft white cloth beneath the tortured body. Gently he put
the top towel back over Starsky’s thin frame. The brunet hissed softly at the added sensation on his skin then went
back to his rocking. His eyes were either tight shut, or staring wildly around him as if looking for someone.
Hutch turned away and Huggy followed him into the cabins living
‘I can’t do this. I’ve nursed him through
some totally crap times. I’ve held him while he’s thrown up, held him down while they’ve changed dressings.
Shit I’ve even stitched him up myself once. But this…..this is something else Hug. I don’t know if I can
do this. It’s too close to home. Too close to….’
‘To what you went through? Hey, don’t ya think
I dig what you’re thinkin’ man? But I tell ya this. When Starsky found you, you were a mess to be sure. But they’d
had ya what? Two days? An’ it took ya 24 hours to come round enough to be able to talk an’ walk. Well that ain’t
nothing to what he’s gonna go through. He’s ten times worse than you ever were. He’s gonna need all your
help an’ strength and then some’.
‘Don’t you think I know that Hug. Its just I look
at him mumbling an’ moaning and it just takes me back. I understand how much he’s hurting and I’m scared
for him. He’s been through so much’.
‘An’ he’ll get through this. He’s got
you an’ his friends’ Huggy said gently.
Hutch smiled back at him, glad the lanky black man was there
for him.’ Thanks Hug. Will ya stay….please?’
Half an hour after the two men had deposited Starsky onto the
big soft bed in the main bedroom of the cabin, Hutch heard the sounds of tires on the dirt outside. Leaving Huggy where he
was on the chair in the bedroom to keep his eye on the brunet he walked out of the bedroom and looked out of the window. He
saw Dobey getting out of his familiar dark blue car along with a young man and a young woman. They walked into the cabin and
the younger man smiled anxiously.
‘Hi Ken. How’s David? Cal asked looking over Hutch’s
shoulder. Dobey’s eldest child was all grown up now and had dropped the title “Uncle” from the detective’s
names a couple of years ago, although he still regarded both Hutch and Starsky as family. Cal, now 23 had recently married
and now Hutch recognised Charmaine Dobey, Cal’s wife standing uncertainly in the doorway. She was a fifth year medical
student and due to qualify any time soon. Hutch smiled at her and then his Captain.
‘So this is the Doc huh?’
‘Yup. Charm is here to look after Starsky’ Dobey
But Hutch put his hand on the big black man’s arm. ‘It’s
not safe Cap. If anyone finds out she was practicing without a licence she’ll be struck off before she’s even
practicing. We can’t do that to her’.
‘She insisted. What could I do? An’ apart from
that, who else is there?’ Dobey hissed.
The young women walked forward confidently. ‘I think
I’m old enough to make my own decisions Hutch’ she said gently. ‘Besides, I love you two almost as much
as Cal does. I’d do anything for you, especially if one of you is hurting. Now where’s David?’
The big blond smiled warmly at the woman and nodded his head
to the door in the corner. ‘In there. How much did the Captain explain?’
‘Enough to get me up here’ she said, already unfastening
her doctor’s bag. ‘But you can fill me in’.
‘Ok. He was a hell of a mess when we found him. He’s
thin. I don’t think he’s had a lot to drink. He looks dehydrated. And he’s covered in sores. From what I
got out of the guy I found with him, he’s been tied on a bed, in one position for a week. We managed to get him cleaned
up in the shower a little, but he’s….um. Well I think he was left on his own for the best part of seven days without
any um…..facilities. His body is burned and blistered where his jeans have been. But the worst thing is he seems to
have been living on a diet of water and heroin and not much else’.
Charm’s face set into an expression of anger and compassion.
She nodded at Hutch. ‘Ok, lead the way’.
He showed her into the bedroom of the cabin and to the brunet
who was still rocking back and forth on his side on the bed. His eyes were staring wildly around him now and as the door hinges
clicked he jumped absurdly at the small noise and mumbled under his breath, his hands shaking against the towel around his
body. Hutch crossed to the bed and bent down until he was on eye level with his partner.
‘Starsk, Charm’s here to take a look after you.
Will you let her look at ya partner?’
Starsky stopped rocking and his wild eyes focussed on the blond
and then on the black women. ‘Ya g gonna give me m more stuff?’ he asked shakily.
‘No Dave, not just now. I just need to look where you’re
hurting’ she said softly.
‘No…don’t wanna…..just gimme the s
stuff huh? Hurts, I’ll b be better if….gimme s some more’ the brunet pleaded, holding out his arm to the
Hutch looked away, his stomach turning somersaults as he watched
his partner begging for more dope. He squeezed his eyes shut and would have put his fingers in his ears if he could have.
But if his friend had the strength to go through this ordeal, then he’d be strong for Starsky and be right there by
his side, the whole time.
Charm bent over the smaller man and tried to take a hold of
Starsky’s infected wrist, but he pulled it away from her angrily. ‘Are ya g gonna give me more?’ he asked,
a little louder.
‘No honey. Not right now’.
‘NOOO, FUCK OFF’ the cop yelled, rolling over to
get himself out of her reach. ‘LEMME GO….LEMME….I NEED M MEDICINE’ he yelled again and tried to get
himself off the bed, falling onto his knees on the hard wooden floor. Huggy and Hutch both went towards him, but Starsky was
shaking now, clutching at his stomach and moaning. He leaned forward and threw up on the floor boards before falling onto
his side and commencing his rocking again, his arms wrapped protectively around his stomach.
Despite his protests, the two men took a hold and pulled the
curly haired man back onto the bed where he immediately got himself back into his foetal position and ducked his head down
to his chest, shutting out the world.
Charm took the sight in her stride and walked around the far
side of the bed where she could see the pressure sores decorating Starsky’s backbone and hips. Softly she pulled the
blood stained towel away from the centre of his body and winced at the cracked raw skin and blisters. The pressure sores down
his back, although they were red and raw, she decided, would be fine left uncovered and clean. The acid burned skin, however,
would require time and antibiotics to heal.
She reached for the brunet’s wrist again and kept tight
hold as the man tried to wrench his arm from her grasp, growling at her deep in his throat. It was an animal sound and Starsky
had reverted to his animal instincts.
Hutch took a hold of the wrist and Charm investigated the wound.
‘It’s infected. He needs antibiotics and…’
she looked at the swellings around some of the puncture wounds along Starsky’s arms. ‘They gave him Mexican Brown
The blond shrugged. ‘Dunno, why?’
‘Because it isn’t as well refined as White heroin.
And the contaminants cause abscesses along the veins. He’ll need treating for those too’.
‘What about the addiction? Can you do anything for the
withdrawal?’ Hutch asked knowing just how much pain the smaller man was going to go through.
Charm shook her head. ‘If I was qualified, I could probably
prescribe Methadone. But that can be addictive in itself, and in any event I can’t get hold of any. And I can’t
give him too much for the pain because the most effective drug would be a morphine based pain killer and that would upset
the addiction. He can take Aspirin or Paracetamol, or a combination of the two for his general pains, but they won’t
do much good for the withdrawal. I’m afraid it’s just going to be a long hard slog for him’.
‘Hutch could hardly bring himself to ask. ‘How
long will he be before he….?’
The young woman pursed her lips. ‘You say he was given
at least 20 shots?’
‘Well he’s going to be taking his withdrawal cold
turkey. This cold turkey phase usually occurs between 8 and 24 hours after the last intake of the drug. Right now, he’s
well into it. There are a lot of symptoms as the body starts to get all it's feelings back. Most people will have similar
symptoms, diarrhoea, aches and pains, cramps in the stomach, vomiting, sweats and cold chills. He’s gonna feel like
he’s dying and this is gonna be a tough time for you too. A lot of addicts will go straight back on the drug and its
up to you to keep him out of harms way. If he can manage to carry on he’s likely to have the symptoms for between 4
to 8 days. Unfortunately still not much help is available at this stage the only thing to do is take painkillers and diarrhoea
tablets which may help a little and get him to drink plenty’.
‘Then I’d say that maybe by tomorrow he’ll
be able to recognise you. Maybe even have some lucid moments. But after the cold turkey stage the battle is still on. This
is just the start of the recovery period. The next step is to get the brain sorted out, as the craving is still there and
he’ll still want his fix. Its then he’s gonna really need you Hutch. The main thing to try and do is keep him
occupied. Addicts at this stage often fail because they have nothing to do’.
‘Addicts! Shit I hate that word! It's not his fault.
None of this is his fault and yet he's an "adddict" with all the shit attached to that word. Like he could help any of this!
And the craving? Oh yeah. Believe me, I know where you’re coming from’ Hutch said, then cast a sideways glance
at Huggy and Dobey. His mind flew back over the years to Huggy’s small room, the candy bars, the chequers games and
the vitriolic, evil things he’d shouted at Starsky as his partner locked the door, suffered the verbal and physical
abuse and kept him safe.
Charm’s eyes widened slightly but she said nothing, instead
poking around in her bag for various items. She took out gauze, bandages and an antiseptic cream.
‘Can you hold him still?’ she asked as Huggy and
Hutch positioned themselves one either side of the rocking man. He moaned and tried to jerk his hands from them but they held
on grimly as Starsky yelled at them, his words making very little sense. Charm worked quickly and efficiently to clean and
debride the wounds around Starsky’s wrists, then slather cream on them and bind them up in clean white dressings.
Starsky’s cries quietened slightly and as they let him
go, he once again curled up and started to rock, grasping at his stomach and occasionally groaning.
Finally Charm took out a syringe and filled the barrel with
a clear liquid. ‘It’s a broad spectrum antibiotic’ she explained as she came back to the bed. Starsky looked
up at her approach and his eyes settled on the syringe. He rolled over and groaned again. Holding out his arm patiently he
looked up at the woman
‘Thank you’ he whispered as he closed his eyes
and waited expectantly.
But instead of injecting the drug into the vein in his arm,
Charm aimed for the muscle of his upper arm and his eyes flew open again.
‘NOOO’ he roared, lashing out his leg and knocking
the doctor sideways so that she landed on the floor. She stayed where she was while Hutch launched himself at his partner,
using his body to hold the smaller man down. Starsky was weak but determined and Hutch was loath to hurt his partner. It made
it difficult to hold the brunet on the bed, but Hutch gritted his teeth and hung on as Starsky’s rasping voice changed
from curses and groans to sobs. Hutch’s heart hammered in his chest as the brunet shed tears of fear, pain and frustration.
‘Please’ he cried, his tears wetting the front
of Hutch’s shirt. ‘Please just g gimme something….hurts….so much. Need some….just gimme, please….help
me,’ his pleadings stopped in a long, protracted whimper and a strangled sob and he leaned over the bed and heaved dry
heaves. Hutch rubbed his back and looked over at Huggy who was looking after Charm. She sat up and grinned.
‘Kick like a mule, hasn’t he?’
‘Hutch smiled back. ‘Yeah, and he’s as stubborn
as one too. Hopefully that’s gonna help him get through’.
For the next two days, Huggy and Hutch took it in turns to
watch over Starsky as he shuddered and shivered his way back towards some semblance of full consciousness. During that time,
he remained on the big soft bed, covered only by a sheet and the soft towels. Anything else was too heavy or harsh to rest
against his abraded hyper sensitive skin. The brunet remained closed off in his own pain filled and dark world, his restless
sleep interspersed with periods of intense stomach pains and dry heaves. During those times he looked around him for someone
who would give in to his wishes and give him his next shot of heroin, to take the pains away and to take him to his happy
place for a while. On a fundamental level he understood that he was out of the crypt and that other people than Crazy George
were looking after him, but Hutch had a nasty shock on the first night they’d got him home.
The big blond had managed to settle his partner somewhat, although
Starsky wasn’t exactly resting so much as not moaning and heaving quite so much. Huggy had poked his head around the
bedroom door and whispered that he’d rustled up some food and Hutch had quietly got up from the side of the bed. The
brunet moaned at the movement, but didn’t open his eyes and the tall cop tiptoed to the window and closed the drapes.
As he walked out of the room, he closed the door behind him, shutting out the light from the cabin’s living room, but
no sooner had the door closed than Starsky started to scream at the top of his voice. The words were unintelligible, but Hutch
rushed back into the bedroom and to the bed.
‘Starsky, talk to me. What is it buddy? What’s
hurting?’ he asked anxiously, rubbing soothing circles on his friends back.
Starsky curled himself around Hutch’s knee, his sweating
body pressed against the big blond as he trembled and groaned. His hands balled into Hutch’s jeans and the brunet buried
his head in the soft material of his partner’s shirt.
‘Don’t go…..don’t leave’ he mumbled
‘Hey…. not goin’ anywhere buddy. Ssh…s’ok.
I’m right here, right here. Starsk, are you hurtin’? Tell me what’s the matter’.
‘S’dark….don’t like the d dark. Dark
hurts….everything hurts….don’t leave me in the d dark’. The smaller man panted and raised his head
to turn pleading eyes on his friend.
And suddenly Hutch realised. Starsky had spent 7 days in the
pitch black of the crypt, on his own with only a few minutes company each day, when Prudholm came to give him his shot. His
partner associated the dark with pain, and as the cabin was in the middle of the woods, at night it too was pitch black.
Gently he pulled Starsky’s hands away from his jeans
and pushed him back onto the bed. ‘S’ok buddy. I’m sorry. Here’. He clicked on the bedside lamp and
covered it with a cloth so that it gave a soft, defused light. ‘is that better Starsk?’
The brunet’s face relaxed a little and the shadow of
a grin crossed his face. ‘Guess I’m a wash-up huh?’ he asked before closing his eyes and stating to rock
‘Nah…just rest easy babe. We’ll get through
this. Me ‘n’ Thee, like always huh?’ His hand rested on his partner’s shoulder until Starsky’s
body relaxed into sleep and then he got up again, eased the tension from his shoulders and back and went to get his cold supper.
Between them over the next hours, Hutch and Huggy forced liquids
of any description down Starsky’s throat, Hutch remembered how when he’d been coming down from his own demons
he’d craved anything sweet and in an attempt to satisfy that craving in his partner, he had Huggy drive back into town
and stock up on fruit juice and fizzy drinks. Although the blond detested the root beer and Coca Cola, he knew Starsky enjoyed
their tooth rotting sweetness and some of the time, the brunet seemed to enjoy the drinks. But other times, the coffee and
Cola made impromptu reappearances and either Huggy or the blond spent a lot of time mopping up, washing the brunet down when
he was too feverish, and fighting with him to drink more. And throughout it all, there were only a few moments when Starsky’s
mind allowed him to understand that his two friends were with him.
On the evening of the second full day at the cabin, the brunet’s
recovery seemed to take a turn for the better. He’d woken from a sound sleep as Hutch was watching over him and the
blond was happy to see that for the first time since they’d got there, Starsky’s first reaction was not to clutch
at his stomach. Instead, the deep indigo blue eyes opened slowly and regarded his partner with some clarity.
‘Hey buddy. How’re ya doin’?’
Starsky closed his eyes and thought. He remembered being in
the crypt and he remembered some of the time he’d been at the cabin. The transition from crypt to new accommodation
was a complete blank as was some of the time he’d been here. He sighed.
‘Maybe you should tell me’. His voice was raw and
husky, but there was a light behind the eyes now. Starsky was once more “at home” and Hutch welcomed having his
partner back with him.
He smiled. ‘Do you want a drink?’
‘Oh shit no. No more coffee, please. M’hungry’.
‘Yeah? What can I get ya?’ Hutch stood up and held
out a helping hand as Starsky sat up and tried to swing his legs over the side of the bed. The curly head hung down and he
took a deep breath as the room swum around him.
‘Something to keep the bed still’ he mumbled and
swallowed hard as another wave a nausea struck. ‘Shit this sucks’.
Hutch nodded. ‘I know buddy, but believe it or not, I
think you might be getting better’.
The brunet snorted. ‘Ya think? My back aches, my heads
poundin', I’m shiverin' and hot an’ I can hardly move my arms. An’ this is better?’
The flaxen haired man sat on the bed behind his partner and
started to massage the knots in Starsky’s shoulders. Charm had explained that as Starsky had been bound in one position
for so long, the muscles would be sensitive and stiff for a while and Hutch could feel that they were swollen still. The brunet
yelped as he gently massaged the hard lumps from his shoulders, then relaxed a little and submitted to the ministrations,
rolling his head around to get the full benefit from Hutch’s strong fingers.
‘Feels good’ he said softly.
‘Uh huh. Now. What d’ya want to eat?’
‘I guess a beef burrito with everything is too much to
ask for?’ Starsky asked hopefully.
‘And you think you could keep it down?’
‘No, probably not. What about a beer?’
‘What about some soup and a glass of milk?’
‘What about another shot?’
Hutch’s face hardened. ‘Starsk, don’t even
joke about that’.
Pain laden eyes turned full force on him. ‘Who says I
was jokin’? It hurts Hutch. God it hurts. I don’t know if I can do this, it hurts so much. I feel like I have
fire ants crawling through my veins. I want to yell ‘n’ scream an’ get outa here. But mostly I just want
more shit. An’ it scares me’.
The blond pulled the smaller man to him. ‘I know’
he said softly into the chocolate curls. ‘But you’ve gotta hang in there buddy. Just hang in there an’ we’ll
ride it out huh?’
‘We? We’ll ride it out? I don’t see you rollin’
around on the ground with a fire in your guts. I don’t see you burnin’ up with fever. Don’t give me that
fuckin’ “we’ll do this together” crap, coz it’s me that’s goin’ through this an’
you don’t know jack shit. If you were my friend you’d help me. If you were really my partner you’d go out
an’ get me some more stuff. Just one more shot an’ I’ll be fine. Just one more an’ the pains’ll
stop Hutch’ he grabbed hold of Hutch’s arm and pulled it to him. ‘Please…..just one more shot huh?’
‘I can’t Starsk…..an’ you know it’
Hutch said, his voice breaking with emotion.
The brunet pushed him away angrily. ‘You have no fuckin’
idea what this is doing t’me. You don’t know squat’ he yelled, his eyes angry pools boring into Hutch’s
Hutch got up from the bed, unable to be in the same room and
keep his emotions under control. ‘I know fine well what you’re going through buddy. An’ I still won’t
get you more stuff’. He walked stiff backed to the door and out into the living room, closing the connecting door behind
him as he heard something bang against the wood. Starsky had obviously thrown something at the door and Hutch almost wished
it could have hit him instead of the dumb wood. Any physical pain now would be preferable to the mental anguish he felt as
he turned down his partner’s pleas.
He went to sit on the sofa. Huggy had taken the opportunity
to go back to the Pits to catch up on his business and now the cabin felt lonely and cold. He shivered and despite the warm
night, he put another log on the fire and sat back, resting his head against the sofa. Slowly he closed his eyes, the weariness
of the past few days washing over him and within minutes he’d drifted off into a deep sleep.
In the bedroom, Starsky felt like a complete bastard. He knew
Hutch was helping him and he knew that the blond knew all about the withdrawal pains. He had no idea what had made him say
the terrible things he had to his best friend and most of all he despised himself for begging for more of the drug. God, he'd
seen enough junkies on the streets to know what withdrawal was all about. He’d read enough psychologists reports about
the effects of withdrawal; the chemical imbalance on the brain; the pains and the fevers. But it was one thing to read about
them and another to experience them first hand. This sucked, big time and while the conscious part of Starsky’s brain
told him that logically he’d get over it and he just needed to ride it out, the unconscious part of him, the part which
controlled his physical reactions told him that his body needed more heroin.
He clutched his hands around his stomach as some of the pains
returned and he bent over, groaning as the fire curled around his guts once more. Sweat beaded on his forehead and he felt
the all too familiar cold streak running down his spine. His body shuddered involuntarily, making the pains all the worse
and he cursed softly, looking at the door. Should he try to get to the door and apologise to Hutch? Or should he try to get
out and get a drink of coffee. Or another root beer. Maybe a candy bar?
He stood uncertainly, his legs wobbly and weak. It had been
over a week since he’d stood unaided and he closed his eyes against the overpowering feeling of vertigo. Looking down
at his bare legs he smiled wryly, a phrase coming back to him from his past.
‘Where’s my pants? Find my pants’
‘Erm….I got your watch’.
Ok find your pants Davey. He looked around, but there was no
sign of any clothes and then he caught sight of the centre of his body, his thighs, and, oh my God, even his dick was bright
red, the skin cracked and blistered. Well now he knew that at least some of his pains weren’t from the withdrawal!.
Grimly, he reached for the towel and wrapped it around his hips before staggering to the bedroom door. He opened it and saw
immediately that Hutch was asleep. He fought the urge to run his fingers through the mussed golden hair and shuddered at the
familiar sensation in the centre of his body. Much as he loved Hutch like a brother, he’d never got a hard on from looking
at him before. Deep down, he knew it was a side effect of the heroin, but Jeez!
As quietly as he could, he made his way to the fridge and took
out a root beer with a trembling hand, then made his way back to the bedroom. He unscrewed the bottle and took a deep chug
of the sweet drink, and then another before putting the bottle down.
Still the pains took him and he rocked himself back and forth
on the edge of the bed, trying to ease them. He tried to take his mind off them, reciting poems he knew as a child, thinking
of ball games he’d seen with his partner. But the pains hammered away at his consciousness so that eventually they encompassed
his whole world. Why wouldn‘t they go away? Why wouldn’t they stop? Why wouldn’t Hutch make it better? Why
wouldn’t Hutch get him more stuff? He only needed one more shot. Just one more to get his through and things would be
fine. Just one more shot to take the pain away and then no more. Promise.
Starsky stopped rocking and got up. Unsteadily he managed to
reach the wardrobe in the bedroom and he looked in. There was a pair of jeans belonging to Hutch and in the bottom of the
closet, his old Adidas.
Quickly, he took off the towel and pulled on the jeans, hissing
in pain as the stiff material grazed his sore skin. He pulled on his sneakers with uncoordinated hands and then crept from
the bedroom. Hutch was still asleep and as carefully as he could, Starsky crept past him and opened the door to the cabin.
It was dark. Very dark, and he hated the dark. It reminded
him too much of that freakin’ crypt, but he had a choice. Go back inside and continue to hurt. Or face the dark and
get back to town to get himself another hit. No choice really. The craving overtook everything and with a backwards look at
his partner. Starsky set off into the night.
The brunet staggered out into the night his only focus being
to get to the bright lights of the city to score. One good thing about being a cop was that at least he knew where the dealers
were and who he needed to see to get his fix. In his overwhelming need for more of the heroin it never crossed his mind to
think that by buying a hit would alert the Metro to the fact that he was now hooked, or even that, dressed only in jeans,
he had no money for the transaction. The only think that mattered to him was the hit, the sweet rush and the welcome oblivion
the drug would provide him with.
Now that his eyes were acclimatised to the dark, Starsky found
he could see reasonably well. The moon was out and cast a cold silvery light across the woods, but after his week of confinement
the dark still scared the brunet and now each tall tree trunk and spiky bush looked preternaturally dark and forbidding and
his heart hammered in his chest, making his head hurt more than ever. Somewhere in the distance an owl screeched and he jumped,
stopped and leaned up against a tall tree. A deer barked somewhere closer and that set him running again. Never one to be
particularly “woodsy”, Starsky was unfamiliar with the great outdoors and in his hyper sensitive state, each noise;
each new sensation assailed him afresh and beat at his senses. His legs were still weak and wobbly and he pushed himself from
one tree trunk to the next as he made slow progress down the dirt road which led back to town.
The ground was uneven and in the dark it was difficult to see
the dips and rises in the road. Starsky didn’t see the branch lying across the path till the last moment and tripped,
landing with a tooth shattering crash on his knees in the dirt. The pain of the fall was nothing compared to what he’d
so far dealt with, but the shock hit him like a physical punch and he remained on his knees, his breath sobbing in his chest.
He fell forwards onto his hands and bent his head down, breathing heavily. The small twigs on the floor of the wood dug into
the palms of his hands and he leaned back on his heels, wiping them on Hutch’s jeans. He looked at them, seeing a large
scratch oozing blood which looked black in the moonlight. Slowly he pushed himself to his feet and set off again, more slowly
but still with determination to get back to the city and the heroin.
Back at the cabin Hutch woke with a start. He had a crick in
his neck from sleeping on the sofa and his throat felt hot and dry. He coughed and his head ached. Slowly he got up and eased
the kinks from his back, but the headache persisted and now he felt cold and shivery too. The fire still blazed merrily in
the hearth and Hutch decided that he hadn’t been asleep too long, but had the nagging feeling that he was getting sick.
He wiped his hand over is forehead and his palm came away wet with sweat.
Oh shit Hutchinson. You don’t have time
for this!. You’re supposed to be looking after him. Hug’s gone back to town. Who’s gonna look after you?
Take two aspirin and pull yourself together for Gods sake. Go see to your partner and get yourself some coffee.
His self imposed pep talk over, Hutch switched on the stove
to boil a kettle full of water and went to the bedroom door. Funny. He thought he’d pulled it completely closed, but
the door swung open easily at his touch. He walked into the room. The night light still burned on the stand beside the bed,
but the sheet was pushed back and the bed was empty.
Where the hells he gone now? Bathroom? Well that’d
be a first. He couldn’t walk on his own a while ago. Go check Hutchinson…..and for Gods sake stop talking to yourself!
Hutch walked over to the bathroom, but the door was wide open
and the room obviously vacant. Panic started to rise in his chest.
‘Starsky?’ he called to the empty house. ‘Hey
Starsk. Where are ya buddy?’
The cabin was comfortable, but not exactly the White House
in scale. With 2 bedrooms a bathroom and a kitchen/living room, there were very few places for a grown man to hide and Hutch
realised that Starsky was no longer there. Now his panic was in full flood and he looked around for any sign of where the
brunet may have gone, although he thought he knew anyway. He went back into the bedroom and checked the wardrobe. Yup, jeans
and shoes had gone.
Oh shit Starsk. Don’t do this buddy. What did
ya have to walk out for huh? I know you’re hurtin’. And you Hutchinson. What gives you the right to keep him here?
What makes you think that you’ve got enough expertise to help him through all this? Ya should’a taken him
to the hospital. You know that.
Yeah, but then he’d have lost his badge and we couldn’t
have worked together
So you’re gonna chance his life just because of a
selfish idea that you still need to work with him. This is Starsky you’re talking about! The guy who nearly died! And
now you think that on the strength of you going through withdrawal, that you’re so damned good that you can cure him?
Jeez Hutchinson. Think you’re God do ya?
OK ok, well lecture yourself later. What’re ya gonna
Go find him, so long as my head stops aching long enough
Sheesh, there ya go again. Thinking of yourself. C’mon
get with the plan. Starsky. Missing. Find him!
OK, I need help. Call Huggy and then go get
Hutch went to the phone on the wall and dialled the Pits number.
He knew it was late, but even in the middle of the night, Huggy would be around. Hutch had never known a man who could go
so long without sleep if there was a buck to be made at the end of it. He heard the phone ringing at the other end, then it
picked up. In the background he could hear the steady hum of voices. Obviously, the Pits was still busy, even at that hour,
whatever the hour was.
‘Huggy Bear, don’t be square’ the laconic
voice sounded down the line.
‘Hug, its Hutch. Starsky’s missing’.
‘I’ll be there in 45 minutes’ Huggy said
without a pause. ‘D’ya dig where he’s gone?’
‘No but I got a pretty good idea that he’s gonna
want to score. He’ll head back to the city. Hurry Hug. I appreciate it’.
He put the phone down, snagged his keys from the nail behind
the door and set out to his car. It was a measure of just how screwed Starsky was that he’d never even thought to drive
instead of walking back to town, but for that Hutch was grateful.
He set the car in motion and switched on the headlights, rolling
the car gently down the hill, eyes scanning the woods on either side of the road. Knowing his partner as he did, he didn’t
think for one minute that Starsky would set off deep into the trees. The brunet hated anything that wasn’t covered in
a foot of concrete and had a convenience store within walking distance. No Starsky would keep to the road if at all possible.
But how long a head start had he got?
Hutch kept his eyes peeled for any signs of movement in the
woods. Under any other circumstances, the blond might have enjoyed the night drive. The moon was a perfect disc in the sky,
looking big and yellow, surrounded with stars set against a midnight blue velvet backdrop. It was cool, but not cold. A perfect
December night. Except that he was looking for his errant partner.
Something flashed in the beam of the headlights a little way
ahead and Hutch slowed the car, unsure whether he’d seen anything or not. He stared into the distance and grinned wryly
to himself. A hundred yards way, he saw the curly haired cop ducking behind a tree. The fact that the tree was no more than
a sapling and hid only about a third of the brunet’s body seemed of no consequence to Starsky. And at least Hutch now
had him in his sights. He set the car going again and stopped twenty yards away from the “hiding” cop.
Hutch got out of the car, ignoring the pounding in his temples,
and walked quietly towards his partner.
‘Starsk, what’re ya doing?’
Starsky peered around the slim tree. It would have looked comic
had the circumstances not been so tragic.
‘Get ‘way. M’goin’ back home’.
‘No you’re not. You’re coming back to the
cabin with me’ Hutch said calmly, closing the gap between the two of them.
‘M’not. I need more stuff ‘n’ you won’t
gimme any. M’goin’ back an’ ya can’t stop me’ the brunet yelled.
‘Starsky listen to yourself. You don’t want to
do this. You don’t want to take more shit. You don’t want to be a junkie. Look at all those guys we’ve hauled
back to the Metro in the past. You don’t want to turn into one of them’ Hutch pleaded.
‘I never wanted this in the first place! Never wanted
drugs, but Prudholm made me an’ its all your fuckin’ fault. You didn’t come t’get me. You weren’t
there to stop him’.
The world stopped. Hutch could hear the wings moving on the
moth caught in the headlights of his car. He could see every mote of dirt whirling around in the air. He could feel his heart
beat in his chest and the blood flow through his veins. The world stopped with the sound of those six words. “You weren’t
there to stop him”.
‘Is that what you think? That this is all my fault? That
I didn’t come back to rescue you? Is that what you really think Starsk?’
Defiant indigo eyes, fuelled by the cravings for more heroin
stared back at him. Starsky was breathing heavily and Hutch could see the confusion he was experiencing. He watched his partner
ball his fists and struggle with his inner turmoil, and he closed the gap further until he was within touching distance of
the smaller man.
‘Starsk, is that what you really think? That I’d
just not look for you? Could you ever think that?’ he asked softly.
The word was whisper light, floating on the air between them,
but still Starsky kept his distance.
‘Then what? Is this all my fault? Do you need someone
to blame so bad? Coz if that’s the case, blame Prudholm. Blame Mickey for getting him the stuff. Blame the faceless
guys who bring the shit into the country. But don’t blame me. Not me. I love ya, and I’d never do anything to
The speech took it out of Hutch and he put his hand up to his
throbbing temple and closed his eyes, suddenly weary beyond words. He swayed and leaned against the tree feeling as though
he were in freefall; as though the world was closing down around him; as though his world would come to an end without his
And then he felt the strong fingers wrap around the back of
his neck and pull him forwards until his forehead was on Starsky’s shoulder and Starsky’s arms were surrounding
‘I’m sorry Hutch. I know you’d go to the
ends of the earth for me. I know that an’ I shouldn’t’a said those things. But this is so fuckin’
hard. It hurts so much an’ I think I’m just weak. I can’t do this. The feelings are so strong’. He
pushed Hutch’s head up until he could see his partner’s face. ‘Help me?’ he pleaded.
Hutch smiled. ‘Any way I can partner. Just get back in
the car huh? We’ll go back to the cabin an’ you can rest’ he looked at the smaller man and grinned. ‘And
those jeans look terrible on you’.
Starsky grinned back, the first time his handsome face had
cracked into a grin since this whole affair had started. ‘That’s not me makin’ ‘em look back. It’s
your lousy taste in clothes’.
Hutch drove them back to the cabin silently. On the way, Starsky
slumped against the car door, his eyes closed and his hands once more wrapped protectively around his middle as he fought
quietly against the cramps in his stomach. Whatever he did; whichever way he turned, there was no way he could escape them,
and by the time the car came to a standstill again, he was once more bathed in sweat.
Hutch came around to the other side of the car and opened the
door as Starsky almost fell out. Silently, the blond followed his partner back inside and Starsky staggered towards the bedroom
and closed the door behind him. Hutch gave him a few moments, before he pushed the door open.
The brunet was sitting on the edge of the bed, doubled over
as he gasped past the pains in his guts. His eyes once again were wild and Hutch braced himself for another period where his
partner was once again lost to him. He knew it was the nature of withdrawal that these periods would come and go, and that
sometimes the pains and cravings were so bad that they blocked out every other rational thought. But shit it was hard to witness.
And, he knew, even harder to live through. He walked over to the bed.
‘Hey buddy, can I get you anything?’
Starsky looked up, eyes wide and glaring, fever bright and
unblinking. ‘Why can’t I just have another shot? Just one more huh? Then I’ll be ok. Then the pains’ll
go an’ I can get through it….I just….fuck, Hutch. Don’t make me plead. I’ll be good…..just
The blond hardened his heart. ‘I can’t Starsk.
I know and you know that….’
‘YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT’ the smaller man screamed
at him. ‘You brought me back here and said you’d help. But you’re not gonna help are ya? Does it make ya
feel good watchin’ me hurt? Is that it? Ya get off on it or sumthin? Just lemme go, an’ I’ll be outa your
Hutch could feel the panic rising in his chest again. God this
was so damned hard! And there was no point in trying to reason with his friend while he was like this. ‘You know that’s
not true’ he said as calmly as he could.
‘No? Then help me. Or let me help myself. Let me go get
some more stuff if you’re too chicken to get some for me. Or I can just wait till ya go to sleep again’.
Hutch cracked, his nerves finally frayed sufficiently for him
to be galvanised into action. Without really thinking about it, he took his cuffs from his back pocket, caught hold of Starsky’s
bandaged left wrist and snicked the cuffs on, attaching the other cuff to the metal bed frame. He stood and without a backwards
glance walked towards the door.
Starsky had watched the procedure without struggling, shocked
into silence by what his partner had done. Now, as he glared at the retreating back he jangled the cuffs against the bed frame.
‘Fuck you Hutchinson. You’re no better than Prudholm’.
To close out the sound of his partner’s voice yelling at
him, Hutch staggered over to the radio and switched it on, turning up the volume to drown out the other noises. It was typical
late night listening and the last song had just finished. The DJ’s slimy voice was telling the world that it was 1:00
in the morning and time for all the good folks of Bay City to be in bed, and to put them in the mood, the next song was just
for them. Hutch smiled wryly as the strains of Simon and Garfunkels “I am a Rock” filled the room – how
apt!. The blond flung himself down on the sofa, head in hands and let the music wash over him.
A winter's day, in a deep and dark December
Ok, well its November and not December, but the sentiment is still there.
I am alone, gazing
from my window to the streets below on a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow, I am a rock, I am an island.
God I’ve never felt so alone. He’s right there in the next
room and yet I can’t talk to him; get through to him. I don’t know what to do or how to help him. Or even if I
can help him. I wish someone would help me. Someone just show me what to do, coz right at the moment, I’m fresh out
of ideas. I just wish I could stop him hurting so much. Fuckin’ Prudholm! Death was far too easy for that creep. Being
a rock – yeah that sounds nice. No emotions, nothing to hurt when times get bad. Just cut off from the world in my own
little island to get on with my life. Shit I don’t know who to be more mad at – Prudholm for shooting him up,
Starsky for not fighting harder, or me for being so fuckin’ useless.
I've built walls. A fortress deep and mighty that
none may penetrate. I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain, it's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
Yeah, a fortress. Right now that sounds so good, like I wouldn’t
need to bother with anyone else. Like I could cut myself off and never have to feel like this ever again. But as for not needing
friendship, I just need one friend right now. Starsk. But he aint at home just at the moment. Right now he needs another –
chemical - friend and I’m not prepared to give in to him. I can’t give in to him, even though I know he hates
me for being tough. But someone’s got to be tough, right? Its true, friendship does cause pain, an’ right now
I think I’m hurtin’ nearly as much as him.
Oh hell, this is a mess. C’mon Hutchinson,
pull yourself together. He needs you, and right now, you need him almost as much.
I have my books and my poetry to protect me. I am shielded in my armor. Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,
I touch no-one and no-one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And the rock feels no pain and an island never cries.
Is that what you’re doin’ Hutchinson? Hiding in your room? Yeah, coz you’re too scared of what he’s gonna
call ya, an’ probably what you’ll end up callin’ him. I don’t want to hurt any more. I don’t
want to feel like this any more. Shit, right now, I just don’t want to feel, period. Or maybe I do. Maybe I just want
to feel normal again. Whatever normal is. Maybe I just want to be back in the car poundin’ the streets, just to feel
like everything’s back where it should be. God Starsk. It was so damned tough when you got shot, but at least I could
talk to you then, even if you couldn’t answer back. Now, I can see ya right in front of me, but you’re like a
stranger to me with all that shit floatin’ round in your bloodstream. I just wanna talk; I just wanna…..Oh fuck
Hutchinson, don’t get so damned soapy!
Hutch looked up from his dark thoughts as Huggy opened the door, letting the cool night air into the cabin.
The flames on the fire flickered and danced casting shadows which went flying around the room and the blond sighed. The song
on the radio had finished, oddly echoing his thoughts and feelings and in a way he could never have openly voiced.
‘Hey man, you ok? Where’s the curly one?’ Huggy asked
Huggy looked at the bedroom door. ‘Great! Ya found him. Is he ok?’
‘Oh just peachy. He’s madder ‘n’ hell at me, the world and probably himself, but he’s
‘Is it safe to go in?’ Huggy asked with not a trace of humour.
Hutch snorted. ‘Yeah. Great friend and bosom buddy that I am, I cuffed him to the bed. I didn’t
know what else to do. He was ok one minute. Contrite even. We even had a relatively normal conversation an’ he said
he was sorry. He got in the car and I drove him back, and then he changed’ Hutch clicked his fingers ‘Like that.
Like he was two different guys’.
The lanky black man nodded. ‘Well that’s horse for ya. Shall I go an…’
He was interrupted by a shout from the bedroom.
‘Hey Hutch. Hutch! HUTCH! C’mon Pal. Let me out’
Hutch stiffened, but did nothing. Was he ready for another encounter with his partner?
HUTCH. I can hear ya. C’mon, please. I need to erm….I
need to pee’
Hutch and Huggy glanced at each other and Huggy winked his support as the blond got up and opened the bedroom
door. Starsky was sitting where Hutch had left him, his hand still cuffed to the bed of course and now he jangled it softly
against the metal bed frame and plastered a smile onto his face.
‘Can ya let me up? I need to take a leak’. As if the emphasise the point, he wriggled his body on
the bed. If the situation had been different, it might even have been funny.
The blond crossed to the bed and fished for the key to his cuffs. He winced and inwardly berated himself as
he saw the fresh blood soaking through the white bandage round the brunet’s left wrist and he carefully unlocked the
cuff. Starsky said nothing, but sat for a moment rubbing at the soreness, his head down, not meeting his partner’s eyes.
‘Starsk, I’m sorry’ Hutch started
‘Yeah, yeah. If you were sorry you wouldn’t’a cuffed me to the bed’ the brunet said
‘What else was I supposed to do? I’m trying my best to keep you safe. Just throw me a line here’.
‘By chaining me to the furniture? Swell. That the only thing you could come up with Hutchinson? Ya take lessons from Crazy George, or what?’
Hutch stopped as if Starsky had slapped him in the face. ‘That’s unfair’.
‘Yeah. What about being an asshole and tyin’ me up like a dog. Is that fair?’ Starsky ground
out, the anger welling up inside him again. He felt antsy and jumpy and the feelings were getting to him so that every nerve
felt on fire and every muscle cramped. He wanted out; he wanted someone to take this feeling away; he wanted….another
hit. He couldn’t think past the craving. It consumed his every waking moment and his mind shut down all other rational
thought until all he could think was heroin and all he could see were syringes and powder.
‘Don’t. Just don’t say any more’ Hutch pleaded, feeling the situation getting out of
hand. But Starsky was unstoppable now, fuelled by his need. He stood up, his anger giving him strength and pushed Hutch out
of the way. The blond was taken by surprise and staggered back a pace as Starsky bolted for the door.
Like a rattle snake, Hutch’s long arm darted out and caught at the waistband of the brunet’s jeans,
the only clothing he was wearing and the impetus of the smaller man’s flight and Hutch’s grab sent both men spinning
into the wall. The blond held his partner there, leaning his body into Starsky’s, an arm across the brunet’s throat.
Hutch could feel his friend’s heart beating wildly against his own chest and he stared into Starsky’s indigo blue
eyes, boring his way through the pain and anguish, drilling down to get to the man he knew was buried in there somewhere.
‘You don’t want to do this Starsk’.
‘You don’t know jack shit about what I want’.
‘You’re wrong. You’re so wrong. I know exactly what you want. I know how it burns away at
your soul. How it consumes ya, so that you can’t think of anything else in the world other than your next hit. I was
there Starsk. Remember? Remember how you sat with me through all those hours? How you forced that stinking coffee down my
throat and cleaned me up when I threw it back up? Remember how I tried to put my fist through your head but then hit the door
at the last second? You were so strong for me babe. I couldn’t have got through that without ya. But now I don’t
think I’m strong enough to get you through this and I feel so fuckin’ helpless’.
Hutch’s crystal blue eyes bored into the brunet’s, silently pleading with his partner to try to
see it his way. He was faced with cloudy indigoes that reflected anger and need and fear and he wanted to be able to take
those feelings away. If only he could wave a magic wand and make everything better. Hutch held his breath, scared to move
and break the moment. And slowly, the smaller man’s body relaxed a little. They stayed there for minutes; Starsky with
his back to the wall and Hutch with his arm across his partner’s throat, never hurting, but anchoring the brunet to
Finally it was Starsky who broke the silence.
‘You’re the strongest guy I know’ he said in almost a whisper.
Hutch took his arm slowly away from the curly haired man’s throat, ready in a second to replace it if
needs be. But there seemed to be a change in Starsky’s attitude; a look in the eyes that said that David was back in
‘I don’t feel strong. I feel like a little kid. I feel like I should be able to do something for
ya, an’ I can’t. I can’t think of what to do an’ its eating me up’ Hutch said, his voice cracking
‘I don’t wanna hear that. I wanna hear how you’re gonna be there for me. You do everything
for me Hutch. Everything. I couldn’t have come this far without you. Shit, if it had been anyone else who’d found
me, I’d be whipped off the Cabrillo in a straight jacket and pensioned off the force. You gave me another chance. And
then I go an’ try to run away’.
Hutch looked at his friend. ‘Yeah, you tried to run away’.
‘I needed more stuff an’ it as the only thing I could think of to do to get more’.
‘So you ran’.
‘In my jeans’.
‘Couldn’t find mine’ Starsky said sulkily.
‘And now you’ve gotten them all dirty’.
The brunet looked down at the offending garment. They were too long in the leg and concertina’d around
his ankles. The waist was also less than snug and the pants hung from his hips in peril of falling down completely.
‘You always had a rotten taste in clothes’.
‘Better than your crummy blue jeans’.
‘Well look on the bright side’ Starsky said seriously.
‘There’s a bright side to this?’
‘Uh huh. At least I didn’t take your car’.
From that moment on, Starsky started to improve a little more
each day. Although the need still ate away at him, drilling down into his soul, there were more and more times when he could
relax and just be David Starsky. Hutch remained with him constantly and Huggy returned to the cabin whenever he could, in
order to give the blond some down time.
And Hutch himself, tired as he was, had taken to sleeping when
Starsky slept, just so that he would be around when his partner needed him.
On that first night, when he and Starsky had finally had their
heart to heart, Hutch had wondered how he was going to get any sleep at all if he was constantly on the lookout for the brunet
trying to escape. And Hutch knew he would probably try again, because the nature of the withdrawal was such that it would
creep up on the smaller man unawares and grind away at his senses so that eventually even the strongest man would have to
give in. In the end, it was Starsky himself who had come up with the answer.
Starsky laid on the bed with Hutch at his side as the brunet chugged
at yet another bottle of root beer. Deep indigo eyes regarded the weary blond.
‘Hutch you’re gonna need sleep as much as I do’.
The blond snorted. ‘I can manage’.
‘What? I said I’d cope. Just go t’sleep’.
‘I can’t. I feel too jittery’.
The blond sighed quietly. ‘Monopoly then?’
‘Well what can I get for ya? Candy bar? Some more root beer?’
Starsky stared at him. ‘Nuthin. I can’t sleep knowing
you’re not gonna sleep’.
‘I think that’s termed being between a rock and a
hard place Gordo. Just go to sleep, I’ll be fine’.
‘No. you won’t. You look like shit warmed over. It’s
useless both of us being sick. I need you to be there for me an’ you can’t if you’re dead on your feet’
Starsky had persisted.
‘So what? What’re ya trying to say?’
The brunet grinned. ‘I’m trying to say what you’re
afraid to. I know why you won’t sleep’.
The blond rolled his eyes. ‘Enlighten me’.
‘Coz you think I’m gonna do the Houdini thing again’.
Hutch’s heart stopped. Even withdrawing, his partner was
just too damned perceptive. ‘Yeah, well. That’s my problem’
‘It doesn’t have to be’.
‘Starsk I don’t know what to do. D’ya want me
to saw your legs off or something?’
‘Got an idea’.
Hutch looked sideways at his partner, ready for the certain Starskyism
that was going to assail him. ‘Sock it to me’.
The brunet got off the bed and padded unsteadily across the bedroom,
returning a moment later with Hutch’s handcuffs. He snapped one on his newly bandaged left wrist and held the other
out to his friend. ‘If we’re cuffed together I can’t go anywhere without you knowin’ and you can get
some sleep’ he said simply.
‘Aww Starsk. I can’t….I don’t want to’.
‘You did it a while ago without too much trouble’.
Hutch grimaced. ‘That was different. I didn’t know
what else to do’.
The brunet grinned. ‘S’no different. Ya still don’t
know what else to do. So just put the bracelet on an’ we’ll be together so we can go to bed’.
‘Starsk that sounds wrong on so many levels!’ Hutch
retorted. But he saw the force of the argument and that night both men had slept reasonably well.
But there were times that were still tough and this was one of
them. Unable to get a regular sleep pattern going after the mess the heroin had made of his system, Starsky had taken to pacing
the small wooden cabin. At times like this, seven days into his withdrawal, the peaceful, secluded building felt more like
prison to him. The rough wooden walls seemed to lean in on him so that he was a prisoner, trapped in an ever decreasing world.
At times like these, he wanted nothing more than to open the door and run – anywhere. Run to leave the fire ants eating
away at his nerves behind him and run to some sort of life that vaguely seemed like normality. But he knew he couldn’t
run, for two reasons. He’d made a promise to Hutch to be strong and try harder to get through the withdrawal and going
back on his promise to the blond who’d stayed with him was an even worse thought than getting another hit. The second
reason was far simpler. After the initial attempt to run back to Bay City,
and despite the brunet promising to try, Hutch had taken the simple precaution of taking Starsky’s shoes away. So even
if he’d made it out of the front door, he’d never have made it back to town without help. It seemed Hutch had
covered all bases.
He sighed heavily and flopped down on the sofa only to bounce
back up and recommence his pacing. Hutch watched him tiredly.
‘Is it bad again?’
‘And then some’ the brunet snapped, running his fingers
through his hair. It didn’t even cross his mind to be grateful that he could at least raise his arms once more. Days
ago, they’d seized up completely from their maltreatment and it was only hot baths and having the blond rub his shoulders
with something that he secretly thought might be horse liniment that had got them back into working order.
‘You want a game of Monopoly?’
‘Ok, so you’re not the hot property tycoon tonight.
What about cards?’ Hutch said mildly.
‘What about you let me outa here?’ Starsky grunted,
pausing to look out of the window. ‘I’m not your prisoner ya know’.
‘What about cards?’ Hutch repeated, refusing to be
drawn into the brunet once more pleading for his shoes.
‘Don’t wanna play cards’.
‘I’ll bet you another six pack of root beers that
you won’t win’ the blond continued, dealing out the cards into two even piles.
Starsky glared at him, then swiped the cards off the table, upsetting
the table and a chair in his impatience. ‘I’M NOT A CHILD. I don’t wanna play cards, I want outa here NOW’
he yelled, his face inches from Hutch’s.
‘Not a child huh? Well quit acting like one!’ Hutch
He hated staring his partner down like this, and a little bit
of him was afraid too that Starsky was going to turn violent again. While at the beginning he’d been weak and too sick
to pack a punch, the intervening seven days had seen him put on a little bit of weight and lose the prison pallor he’d
had. The fluids he’d been forcing down had helped him enormously and now, although his pressure sores and the centre
of his body still needed care, he was not in constant pain from them and if it hadn’t been for the withdrawal, he’d
probably have been fit enough to return to light duties at work. No, Starsky would be able to hurt Hutch now, if the blond
The smaller man stood glaring, his breath coming in ragged gasps
as he fought for control, his hands balling into fists and then relaxing by his sides.
‘I need to get out. I feel so confined. Hutch…for
Gods sake let me out huh? Please. Just for a little while’.
‘Its going dark out there’ Hutch hedged. ‘You
don’t like the dark’.
‘We’ll take a flashlight. An’ you’d be
there. Please Hutch. I just need to get out. It’s been nearly a week and before that Prudholm had me for seven days.
I’m goin’ stir crazy in here. I promise I won’t try nuthin…..you can cuff me if you want’. He
finished in a small voice.
Hutch ducked his head down. He’d hated using the cuffs on
his partner, but at least it had gotten them some sleep. But there was no way he was going to use them outside the cabin.
He sighed. Could he trust the brunet? Or was this just another ploy to get out and away?
You’re gonna have
to trust him some time Hutchinson. You can’t keep him
here for ever Might as well be now.
Finally he made his decision. He stood, went out to his car and
returned with the blue Adidas that his partner habitually wore. He handed them to Starsky silently.
‘Really?’ the brunet asked, hardly daring to reach
for the footwear.
‘Would you give me any rest if I said no?’
Both men stood and Hutch opened the door again. The evening had
drawn in around them and now the woods outside the cabin were dark and mysterious. Hutch stood on the porch while Starsky
stood just inside the doorway. This was what he wanted wasn’t it? What he’d pleaded for? What he’d fantasised
about? But now that he as faced with the darkness again, it seemed to close in around him.
Hutch gently took his arm. ‘C’mon Gordo. I got ya’.
The brunet took a faltering step outside, then followed closely
behind Hutch as they started to walk down the path towards the lake. It wasn’t far and the flashlight the blond held
sent a warm comforting beam to pierce the darkness. And yet Starsky felt ill at ease, as thought he shadows were ready to
pounce on him. It suddenly struck him just how much damage Prudholm had managed to inflict during those seven long days in
the crypt, not only to his body, but to his mind too. Starsky pictured the older man glaring down at him. His face fixed into
a leer as he held the syringe over the vein in his arm, and his anger bubbled under the surface,
How dare he? How dare one man destroy another like that? And yet
he wasn’t destroyed. He was battered. A little crumpled around the edges, but he was still functioning. He was still
walking and talking. He was still David Starsky. The brunet set his shoulders. He would not allow Prudholm to have the lingering
hold over him. It was bad enough to battle the drug without battling himself!
Hutch had walked on a little further in front of him and now Starsky
stopped, for the first time enjoying being outside. He looked up at the moon overhead and the pinpricks of starlight dotting
the sky, and he breathed in the pine scented air. It was good to be alive! He looked a little further down the path for Hutch
and as he looked he saw, off to one side of the lake, the flare of a match or a small fire. Curious, he hurried to catch up
with his partner.
‘Are we expecting company?’
Hutch shook his head. ‘Dobey said no-one was up here at
this time of year. We should be alone. Why?’
‘Coz I thought I saw something over there’ he pointed
across the lake.
Hutch looked dubious. ‘Don’t see anything’.
‘There’s someone there, I know there is’ Starsky
insisted, heading off down the path towards where he’d pointed. Hutch started to run after him, unsure whether this
was genuine or whether the heroin was once again eating away at his friend and this was just another elaborate ploy.
Despite his lingering fear of the darkness and his still weakened
state, Starsky had set off through the wood at a pace and within seconds, Hutch had lost him in the gloom.
‘Shit!’ he cursed and set off to follow.
Starsky ran through the woods along the uneven path. Without Hutch’s
flashlight, his eyes became accustomed to the dark and he found that the moon was really fairly bright. Once again, he caught
sight of the bright flare of a fire and he ran faster. If Hutch had said no-one should be up here, then he needed to find
out what was going on.
As he got close, the brunet slowed and started to use the trees
as cover, darting from one trunk to the next, keeping himself hidden. He still experienced the occasional cramp in his belly,
but somehow this felt right, and the exercise took his mind off of his pains.
As he came up behind where he’d seen the flare he saw two
youths bent over something on the ground. They were scrawny and dressed in black, so no wonder he hadn’t been able to
get a good view of them, but what he saw them doing took his breath away.
One had lit a candle and placed it on a flat rock between the
two. The other youth was holding a tin foil wrapper of something dark and powdery. As Starsky watched, he held it over the
flame and the brunet stared hungrily at the heroin, his eyes locked on the tin foil and the syringe that youth #1 was holding.
He could hear their muttered conversation now, their voices floating to him on the night air.
‘He went down hard man. D’ya think he’s dead?’
‘Do I look like I care? We got the shit’.
‘Yeah, guess so, but still. I don’t like the thought
of him lyin’ there on his own’.
‘He was a fool. Who’d trust us? He knew what we wanted.
It aint our fault if he wasn’t careful’.
The powder had changed now and youth #1 set about drawing it up
into the syringe and Starsky’s hand twitched against the bole of the tree. Heroin. Only yards away. And they were young,
he could take them, he was sure. His hands trembled at the thought of the sweet rush and the pains that would subside into
mellow nothingness. Slowly, as if drawn towards then on a fishing reel, the brunet walked out into the small clearing. A twig
cracked under his foot and the two youths looked up.
‘Back away’ Starsky said, his voice level and cold.
‘Ya gonna make us mister. Who the fuck d’ya think
police is who I think I am, wise guy’.
‘Shit he’s a cop’ youth #1 grunted, standing
‘Yeah and there’s only one of him an’ two of
us’ youth #2 observed.
‘So we take him. NOW’ youth #1 yelled and sprang forward
at the brunet.
Starsky stood his ground and as the first youth came at him, he
ducked out of the way, grabbing the arm as it passed and swinging the young body into the trunk of the tree he’d been
leaning against. But as soon as he’d done that, the second youth jumped onto the brunet’s back, weaving his arms
around his neck and threatening to cut off Starsky’s breathing. The brunet was weakening fast and he staggered back,
trying to slam the youth into another tree but he slipped, crashing to the floor. The youth slithered from beneath him and
knelt up readying himself to slam a fist into Starsky’s face when suddenly a shout rent the air.
Silhouetted in the moonlight, Hutch looked like an avenging angel,
but an angel toting a huge Colt Magnum. The youth froze mid swing and shuffled off the brunet’s panting body as Hutch
sprang forward using his overworked cuffs to anchor the young man to a tree. Checking that the other youth was out cold Hutch
turned and his stomach churned.
Starsky had managed to get himself to his knees and was crawling
determinedly to the candle, syringe and heroin. As Hutch watched, the brunet reached out with a trembling hand and took a
hold of the syringe. He held it as though it was the most precious thing in the world; as though it would break if he looked
at it too sternly. And very slowly, he turned the syringe until the needle was facing him.
Hutch’s world stood still. His voice seemed paralysed as
he witnessed his partner and the heroin. He couldn’t speak; couldn’t tear his eyes away from the horrendous sight
in front of him. He wanted to rush forward and knock the deadly cargo from Starsky’s hand, but his feet seemed rooted
to the spot.
As he watched, Starsky lovingly caressed the barrel of the syringe,
looked at his arm, then back at the needle in front of him. Slowly and deliberately, he held the hypo in front of him and
gazed at the brown fluid before holding it out in preparation.
His eyes never leaving the needle, now glinting dully in the moonlight,
Starsky raised the syringe and plunged it into the dirt in front of him, extracting it and scouring the tip against the flat
rock until the needle was bent, blunt and misshapen. He panted and the beads of sweat dripped from the tip of his nose and
spiked his eyelashes, and his head ducked down in weariness.
Time unfroze and Hutch rushed to his partner’s side, putting
his arms around Starsky’s shoulders and feeling the thin frame still trembling. The brunet looked up into his face and
‘What kept ya?’ he asked, his voice husky and uncertain.
‘I stopped to admire the scenery and check out the wildflowers
along the way’ Hutch said.
‘Yeah? Find anything interstin’?’
Hutch’s hand obscured his face so that Starsky couldn’t
see the moisture in his eyes. ‘Found you’.
‘Uh huh? Just a quick walk in the woods. Nuthin special…..Great
night huh?’ the brunet grinned, dropping the syringe to the dirt as though it might bite him.
Hutch held his partner to him and smiled into the chocolate curls.
‘The best partner….the best’.
There was a comfortable silence between them that plastered over
the cracks, heeling their wounds and sending balm through their veins. Two men, bound by friendship and adversity oblivious
to the world.
Starsky pulled away from his partner slightly and sat back on
‘Can we go home yet?’
‘Coz I hate the woods. It’s damp an’ cold an’
there’s bugs. An’ it’s full of dangerous stuff’.
Hutch looked at the syringe and grinned weakly. ‘Yeah partner.
I think we can go home now’.