Anatomy of a Crime

This story has been a labour of love to write. Working in the criminal courts as I do, I have consciously tried to keep work and writing apart, but this storyline has stayed at the back of my mind for such a long time that eventually I had to capitulate and put it down on paper. It's the longest thing I've ever written and I couldn't have completed it with my wonderful Brook to help me. It also helped me through some tough recvery time and I hope you, the readers enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

WARNING - this story deals with rape - both male and female. If the subject matter offends, it's probably best not to read

Dedication - For Aussie Angie, who must be the most prolific reviewer ever. Thanks hon, love ya.

Chapter 1

The road was long, stretching away from the brunet’s blue sneakered feet and extending out as far as the eye could see. He stopped running, bending over to try to keep his breath. He had no idea how long he’d been running, but the blood thundered in his ears and the breath sobbed in his throat. In the moonlight he could see the tree lined blacktop extending way into the distance and something told him he needed to reach the end. He heard the scream again and forced his body to start its fevered race once more as he plunged down the dark highway. Ahead he saw a house, its windows alight with warm yellow light making it look like a smiling, friendly face looking out onto the dark world outside. He turned, pushing open the gate and racing up the path to the front door. Starsky pushed it open without knocking and ran inside.

He was faced with a corridor a mile long, extending into the far distance; so long he couldn’t see the end of it, and down each side were a hundred doors leading off right and left. It never occurred to him to think it strange that the small domestic dwelling should have such a place. The scream rang out again and galvanised him into action. Reaching out his left hand he opened the first door, plunging inside with no thought for his own safety. A clown with white painted face looked back at him, its red painted slash of a mouth fixed into a permanent leer. Starsky staggered back from the ghastly presence, out into the hallway and tried the next door and the next.

In each room he met the same thing, a clown staring back at him in alarm, shaking its head and pointing back to the hallway. He could feel the sweat of fear running down his back as he charged on down the never ending line of doors, pushing though one after the other without ever finding the owner of the pitiful scream. He could hear it reverberating around his head in a continuous cycle taunting him for not being able to find the woman.

He shouted out in frustration. ‘I’m here. Tell me where you are an’ I can come get ya’. But he received no answer.

The next door he opened brought a different sight. A woman’s pale body, almost luminescent in the harsh electric light, looking back at him. The girl stared with sightless eyes at him, her throat cut and the blood dripping down from her naked breasts to lie in an ever increasing puddle on the floor at her feet.

Shocked, Starsky staggered back, closing the door. Pitiful as the sight was, that woman hadn’t screamed, no sound would ever come from that slitted throat ever again. But as he started pushing each successive door open the rooms all contained naked women, all with their throats cut and all with their empty, soulless eyes staring back at him. He could feel the bile rising in his throat as another scream rang through the house and again he yelled out to it. ‘Tell me where you are. I’m here, I can save you’.

He thought he heard another noise and forged on but the doors along the corridor kept on multiplying until his body rebelled, his legs telling him that he couldn’t go on further. In desperation, Starsky raised his head and yelled his fury and frustration into the air, ending in a strangled cry as he felt a hand on his shoulder.

‘Dave? Dave. C’mon David honey, wake up huh? C’mon honey, come back to me. Ssh….’

Starsky opened his eyes and stared at the end of his own bed, the bedclothes rumpled and wrapped around his legs. He was sitting bolt upright, sweat rolling down his bare chest and matting his curls as his arms shook. Slowly he calmed his breathing, realising he must have screamed out in his sleep and scared the life out of the woman at his side.

‘That’s better honey. C’mon, just lie back and relax. What’s the matter? Another nightmare? That’s the second this week’.

Starsky slowly relaxed back onto the bed, his pillow feeling damp with his own sweat. He put an arm over his eyes as he tried to regain his equilibrium.

‘M’sorry Molly. Jeez that was a doozy!’

The woman got off the bed and went to the bathroom, returning a moment later with a towel soaked in cool water. She knelt next to the muscular man on the bed and started to sponge down his chest and arms, cooling and calming him as Starsky tried to forget the dream. It was a mark of the state of his disquieted mind that even the beautiful naked woman now ministering to him failed to raise his ardour.

‘Was it the war again?’ she asked quietly.

The curly haired man sighed. ‘No. I almost wish it was. I could handle that’.

‘Then what?’


‘Dave you screamed out in your sleep. The bed shook so much I thought the San Andreas was doing its thing! That’s not nothing honey. Let me help you’. Molly put down the towel and lay back on the bed, curling herself around her man and resting her head on his shoulder.

‘There’s nuthin you can do. It’s just….’

‘It’s that job again, isn’t it?’

‘I don’t understand it. I’ve dealt with this shit before and it never got to me like this’.

‘Well talk to me. Let me in. My Mom used to say a problem shared is a…’

‘Problem halved. Yeah Ma says that too. It’s their faces – the girls that’ve died. Well not just their faces, it’s their bodies too. God this punk is such a sick puppy. He aint content with rapin’ ‘em. He….’ Starsky sat up again, dislodging the woman and put his head in his hands. Molly sat up next to him and put her arm around his shoulder, feeling the residual shakes from the nightmare.

‘I’m strong enough. Tell me’.

‘I dunno Moll. I don’t even know if I’m strong enough!’

‘You don’t know unless you tell me’ she urged.

The brunet ran his fingers through his matted curls and sighed again. ‘K. Well there have been five girls in the past seven months. All the girls are from local colleges, all in their late teens early twenties and all have dark brown or black hair. They’ve been dumped outside or close to local hospitals with notes pinned to their bodies – literally pinned into the flesh. They’re naked, they’ve been tied in the same way – hands behind their back fastened with bailer twine and they’ve had their throats cut. But the real special thing is that the coroner says they’ve been drugged first – some kind of neurotoxin that leaves ‘em conscious but unable to move much so they know exactly what’s goin’ on but can’t do shit about it. Then they’re raped, brutally, then the flake cuts ‘em up before he slits their throats. It’s still a point of argument as to whether they’re alive when he does that’.

Molly had her hand over her mouth. ‘Oh my God. Those poor girls. The news didn’t say anything like that – just that there was a serial killer around’.

‘No. We asked ‘em to keep it quiet – the details. Thought we may be able to catch him quicker’ he snorted. ‘Shows how wrong we were’.

Molly hugged her man to her, rubbing his back comfortingly. ‘You’re not a one man band you know’.

‘I know. But Hutch feels the same way’.

‘Well there are more than two of you on the force. It’s not all down to the dynamic duo’.

‘Feels like it. It feels like this guy is taunting us. Like he almost wants us to catch him but at the last minute he backs off. It’s like it’s personal. Well, it is to me. I’m gonna get up close an’ personal to this flake if it’s the last thing I ever do. An’ when I am face to face with him, I’m gonna look into his eyes an’ force him to tell me why’.

Molly sat quietly for a moment, her imagination running riot. No wonder Dave had had nightmares. The world he lived in was so alien to her. She was more used to photography and the world of glossy magazines. In fact that was where she’d met Starsky - at a photographic club. He’d shown up with his Nikon, they’d shot off a couple of reels of film and by the end of the night he’d asked her out and she’d said yes.

‘What did the notes say?’

‘They’re no more‘n scribbles really. We had a handwriting expert look at ‘em an’ he says that this guy is a cold, calculating type. Probably white. Probably educated to a reasonable standard somewhere in the mid west. The notes are all done in capital letters an’ say the same thing. ONE LESS BITCH IN THE WORLD’.

‘Wow! Like you say, one evil son of a bitch’.

Starsky turned to look at her. Molly wasn’t the usual sort he went out with. Although she was attractive, she wasn’t beautiful. But she had a wholesome quality to her that made him feel special and wanted. At 5’5” and slim she looked tiny compared to the cop and her dark brown hair cut in an elfin cut gave her fine features an almost surreal quality, the short cropped hair emphasising her big brown eyes to perfection. And as he looked at her, his mind superimposed a picture of the dead women, their gore spilling from their bodies, and he closed his eyes against it.

Last night, as she’d climbed into bed, wearing nothing but Estee Lauder perfume, she’d snaked her hands under the sheets and stroked down his flat belly to the tops of his legs. Last night, like the past five nights, he’d wanted to take solace in her body, but the day’s activities had left him feeling empty and somehow broken. And gently he’d moved her hand, clasped it to his chest and murmured his apologies.

Molly saw him look away from her and rolled onto her back, looking up at their reflections in the over-bed mirrors on Starsky’s ceiling.

‘Dave, don’t so this. Don’t let this one guy ruin your life’ she urged.

‘M’sorry. I haven’t been paying you enough attention’ he said. With a conscious effort he cleared his mind of blood and bodies and rapists and concentrated instead on the woman next to him. Slowly he started to trace the line of her neck, from under her ear, over her collarbone, following the contours of her breasts and stopping for a moment to rim her navel. His hand ducked lower and she started to run her fingers down his spine, feeling his body finally begin to respond to her caresses. She sighed into the hollow of his neck as he reached down and….

The bedside phone rang, jangling his nerves and stopping their fledgling love making in its tracks. With a heavy sigh, he rolled over and snagged the receiver in his right hand.

‘This better be good’ he snapped into the phone.

‘Dobey wants us. There’s been another victim. This time she’s still alive’.

Hutch’s words galvanised Starsky into action and he sat upright in bed, Molly’s heavenly body forgotten for one brief moment.

‘You sure it’s him?’

‘Sure it’s the same MO buddy. I’ll be round in fifteen minutes’. Hutch’s usually smooth voice sounded tense and brittle.

‘No, s’ok. You’re closer to the hospital. I’ll come round for you. We can save time. Be there in ten’.

The brunet put down the phone and sprang out of bed, casting around for his clothes. Picking up his blue jeans, his red tee shirt and hopping on one foot to get his still tightly laced Adidas onto his left foot he heard his girlfriend sigh.

‘Guess that’s it for tonight?’ she said a little sullenly.

‘Sorry Hon. Gotta go. They’ve found another girl, but she aint dead. This is our big break. I’m gonna nail this bastard’s ass if it’s the last thing I do’.

‘What happened to not mixing work and pleasure?’ she asked quietly.

Starsky won the fight with his shoe and leaned over the bed. Tenderly he lifted Molly’s chin and kissed her full on the mouth. Try as she might she couldn’t stop herself responding. He was such a special guy.

‘Don’t know when I’ll be home. Leave the key on the lintel huh?’ he said as he picked up his holster and his cream coloured jacket. He opened the door and looked back at her. ‘M’sorry Hon’.

She smiled and picked up a pillow. ‘Just go’ she laughed as she threw it at his retreating back.


A man made his way quietly back to his small room and closed the door behind him. Fastidiously he took off his overcoat and hat and hung them neatly on the hanger by the door and then went into the bathroom, rolled up his sleeves and set to washing his hands. Turning the tap on, he waited until the water was almost blisteringly hot before pushing his hands underneath. He reached for the soap and lathered, rubbing his hands together before rinsing and repeating twice more. Turning off the hot water, he dried them thoroughly, the reached for the bottle of bleach and poured it over his hands, massaging the stinging solution into his skin and stopping to check everything was clean before rinsing in cold water and towelling dry once again. He placed the bottle of bleach back in the cupboard, beside the other nine bottles and went to sit down in the small living room. Neatly arranging his belongings around him, he picked up the book and began to read.

Chapter 2

Starsky drove quickly through the deserted street. The distance from his pad on Ridgeway to Hutch’s house at Venice Place was quite short and with the absence of traffic he accomplished the drive in a little over ten minutes. Pulling up outside the apartment building he smiled to see that Hutch was ready and waiting for him. In the 3 months since they’d been assigned to this case, they ate, slept and yes, dreamed of the rapist and the victims and now they finally had a solid lead rather than just the expert’s considered opinion that the guy was a copycat killer with an obsession for dark haired women.

The brunet pulled up and watched as his long legged blond partner trotted around the front of the car and got in. Hutch never looked any different. Despite the time of day, he was neatly presented, his flaxen hair brushed into place and his clothes clean and pressed. Whereas Starsky had trouble with a five o’clock shadow that seemed to appear at around three o’clock, making him look tired and dishevelled, Hutch’s fair skin was always smooth and golden. The blond looked at his partner now and chuckled.

‘Didn’t get much sleep huh?’

‘Not when I get a call at stupid o’clock in the mornin’, no. Why?’

‘Didn’t have time to say goodbye to the delectable Molly and still shave’.

Starsky ran his hand over the stubble covering the lower portion of his face. ‘Thought I’d grow a beard’.

‘Uh huh? Or start a new fashion in the “didn’t bother shaving” stakes’

The curly haired man looked offended. ‘It’s trendy. Haven’t ya seen it on the TV? All the stars are doin’ it. They call it “designer stubble”. I like it! I may decide to keep it this way’.

‘Starsk, Harrison Ford might look good with “designer stubble”. You just look like you forgot to shave’.

Starsky gave up the argument and instead got his mind onto more important stuff. ‘What did Dobey say?’

Hutch blew out his cheeks. They needed a little banter. It had been in short supply recently. Their lives had been full of these crimes for so long that humour had been at the bottom of their list of priorities as one after another girls had turned up dead and every lead they thought they had turned out to be a dead end.

‘They found the girl a block from Memorial Hospital. Usual type. 21. Long dark brown hair, slim. I think he must have been disturbed coz although she’s been raped and there are some cuts on her body, he hadn’t finished her. She’s been admitted to a private room, and she’s in shock, of course, but this is it buddy. We’re gonna get all the information we need and….’

‘We’re gonna nail the bastard’ Starsky finished the sentence as he pulled away from the sidewalk and carried on to the hospital. ‘Jeez, I’ll be glad when we have him. I feel like he’s been running my life for ever’.

Hutch ran his hand over his eyes. ‘I know what you mean buddy, I know what you mean’.

Ten minutes later they pulled up at the rear of the big hospital and got out, making their way around to the emergency entrance. News of the girl had already spread and there was a smattering of camera men and news reporters gathering already. As they walked around the corner, some of the reporters surged toward them. Hutch’s stomach churned.

‘God they’re like vultures’ he hissed as he batted one of the cameras out of the way. Looking at the nearest journalist, pen and pad at the ready he plastered a smile on his face. ‘We don’t know anything yet. We’re going inside to make enquiries. We may have more news when we come out. C’mon guys, give us a break huh?’

The two detectives cleaved a way through the small crowd and entered the ER thankfully. Dobey was waiting inside and he sped them through the busy area and out to the elevator at the back. Once in the security of the small car, Starsky turned to his Captain.

‘What’ve ya got?’

The black man grunted. ‘Not much. She’s in shock. You might be able to get more out of her. Forensics have just finished. They’ve taken samples from underneath her fingernails, fluid samples, head and body hair. They’re gonna run them again by all the known guys on the patch. Doc says she was drugged, but doesn’t seem to have had a full dose. She’s still pretty out of it. Go see her. See if you can get anything else. I’ll wait here’.

Hutch brushed past Dobey with Starsky on his heels and they followed directions to a small, softly lit room at the end of the corridor. There was a uniformed officer outside it and the two detectives murmured a brief greeting before opening the door and walking inside.

The young girl lay on the bed, her slim frame hardly creasing the sheets. By her side, a nurse sat patiently holding her hand. The nurse smiled and the girl remained staring at the ceiling, her face holding a terrified look as she held onto her comforters hand all the firmer. Starsky walked quietly to the bed and stopped at the foot, not wanting to crowd her. ‘Hi’ he said softly. ‘I’m Dave. Dave Starsky and this here is my partner Hutch.. How’re ya doin’?’ the minute he said it he knew it was a dumb question and could have kicked himself.

The nurse nodded encouragingly to the young woman, who looked up and for the first time looked directly at the men. Starsky tried to keep the look of shock off his face. The girl’s face was blue down the whole of one side, scratches and cuts showing livid and red against her otherwise pale skin. There was another bruise circling her neck and he saw that her hands had been bandaged too. His stomach turned somersaults as he tried to keep his temper in check and his throat constricted. He looked away a moment, unable to trust himself to speak.

Hutch stood by the side of his partner, seeing the brunet’s internal struggled and took over, his voice low and gentle.

‘Hi honey, he's useless at introductions. We’re cops. Can we ask you some questions?’ he asked, walking slowly up the side of the bed until he could sit down on the small visitor’s chair. The girl looked at him uncertainly.

‘It’s ok. They’re gonna catch the guy who did this to you, aren’t you?’ the nurse said encouragingly.

‘Yeah, that’s right. We’re gonna do our best’ Hutch smiled back.

The nurse got up, disengaging her hand from her patient. ‘Don’t worry Hon, I’ll be right outside if you need me. You’re still safe’. She squeezed the girl’s hand and left.

Getting his head back into gear, Starsky came to sit at the other side of the bed, taking the nurse’s place and pulled up the chair. Hutch continued the conversation.

‘We need to ask you some questions. Is that ok?’

She closed her eyes, then nodded but still looked shocked and spacey.

‘What’s your name? Starsky asked.

There was a pause as the girl considered a moment, seemingly probing her memories. Finally something seemed to click in her head.

‘Donna’ she whispered.

Starsky smiled encouragement. ‘Hi Donna. Where d’ya live? Can ya tell us that?’

Another pause, then she haltingly gave them her address. The easy part over with, the brunet sat up in his chair. ‘Donna, you’re doin’ really well. Can ya tell us what happened tonight?’

She licked her lips nervously and took a shakey breath. ‘I...I was going home. Had an argument with my boyfriend...stupid really,so I’d walked off on my own. He didn’t follow. I walked up the road and felt like there was someone behind me. I turned round to look but it was dark and I couldn’t see anyone. Then he...he...Oh God, hecame up behind me’. She stopped, fear obvious on her face and her body started to tremble.

Hutch encouraged her, putting his hand out to hold hers’ but she flinched away. He withdrew his hand, understanding. ‘Go on, Donna, you’re doing great’ he said.

‘I heard something behind me and then he put his arms round my neck and he was squeezing and I couldn’t breathe...I couldn't.Then he dragged me backwards and I couldn’t see where I was going. I couldn’t stop him….I couldn’t stop him from’ There were tears in her eyes and she turned her head, trying to bury her face n the pillow. The detectives allowed her some time and space before Starsky held out a tissue to her.

‘I know its hard Donna, but we need to know so that we can stop him from doing this again’.

She heaved a breath. ‘Ok…..I guess I fought him, but I dunno. I suppose if I had I’d have some injuries or something?...’

‘Your face is scratched honey’ Starsky told her gently. ‘You fought with him ok. You were very brave. Go on’.

She put her hands up to her face, feeling the wounds as though for the first time. ‘He pulled me into his car and he had a syringe. Before I could stop him he’d given me a shot... and from then on things are fuzzy’.

‘How do you mean fuzzy?’

‘It was like…..I was there but not there. I kind knew what he was doing, but I couldn’t move or speak and I couldn’t open my eyes properly, but I could feel him….his hands. They were……were…..oh God, why me?’

The brunet put his hand on her shoulder and instead of moving away, she clung to his hand as though it was an anchor. He squeezed her shoulder, offering some comfort. ‘Ssh…you’re doin’ fine, that’s it….don’t cry Hon……that’s it’ he whispered. ‘Tell us what else you remember’.

‘His hands……then his….he, he put his…..oh my God he raped me!...and then I saw something silver and I felt a pain and then there was a shout and he stopped….I must have blacked out coz the next thing I remember is being here’.

‘Can you tell us what he looked like? Did you see him?’ Hutch persisted.

‘No….he was behind me all the time and them when he gave me the shot I couldn’t see well. He was tall….that’s all I can say’.

‘What about his voice? Did he…did he say anything? Did he have any sort of accent?’ Hutch asked, desperate to gather as many clues as possible.

‘Yeah…..he kept telling me I was a bitch and I deserved everything I got and he was gonna cut me up…he was gonna…..gonna….’ she dissolved into a flood of tears, hands over her face ‘He was gonna kill me’.

‘Sssh, Donna you’ve been so brave!’ Starsky said gently. ‘You’ve been a real brave girl. Is there anything else? Anything at all that you can remember? Anything that can help us nail him? Huh?’

She shook her head from below her hands and the two men stood. They knew she was spent – that she’d given them all she could for the moment. It had cost her a lot and now she needed to rest. They walked quietly to the door, but just as Hutch put his hand on the handle, Donna pulled her hands away from her face.

‘There was one thing. I don’t know if it’ll help’.

‘Yeah? What? Anything could be important’ Starsky urged.

‘Well it was….dunno. He just smelled of bleach’.

Hutch followed Starsky outside and met with Dobey in the corridor outside the room.

‘Well?’ the Captain asked.

‘Sketchy at best’ Hutch said with a grunt. ‘Same as the others. She was drugged. Didn’t see much, if anything’.

The black man handed him a set of photographs. ‘These were the marks on her stomach’. The glossy polaroids showed a series of long, straight cuts from breasts to the top of her legs.

Starsky saw them, then looked away, the MO all too familiar. ‘No wonder the papers are calling him the Ripper’.

‘Well, whatever you got from her, it’s one hundred percent more than we had before. Can you use it?’ Dobey asked.

‘We’re sure as hell gonna try. Get an APB out on him. Tall, maybe buys chemicals or regular stuff from a pharmacy and has a thing for bleach. Not much, but it’s sumthin’ the brunet replied.

‘Well don’t waste your time here’ Dobey grunted. ‘Get out there and find him!’

The two detectives walked swiftly down the corridor and out to the front entrance of the building, bracing themselves for the inevitable clamber from the journalists waiting to pounce.

As they walked out, they were swamped with brightly flashing camera lights and microphones pushed under their noses.

‘Detective Hutchinson! Have you got an identification yet?’

‘Detective, are you any closer to solving the Ripper crimes?’

The shouts continued as the two cops pushed their way through the crowd, steadfastly refusing to answer questions, Htch managed to get to the car but as one more reporter jostled him, Starsky lost his hold on his temper.

‘Sergeant Starsky what do you have on the witness. Has she given you an identification yet?’

Starsky stared at the man ‘No comment’ he grunted as he broke through the crowd of reporters.

‘But Sergeant Starsky, have you anything further to help you?’ the reporter persisted, following behind.

Starsky wheeled around and grabbed the microphone as the cameraman held a close up on his face.

‘I have one thing to say. We’re gonna get this creep...He’s gonna slip up soon...and when he does, we’ll be there and we’ll nail him’.


The man sat staring at the television screen at the scene outside the hospital. Cameras flashed and there was a lot of noise. And two cops forcing their way through the crowd. The camera panned to one of the cops, the close up of a handsome face topped by a thick thatch of mahogany coloured curls dominating the television screen, and the man sat up straighter in his chair.

‘Sergeant Starsky what do you have on the witness. Has she given you an identification yet?’

So, his name was Starsky….nice. And the hair – just the right colour. As Starsky’s voice sounded on the TV…. We’re gonna get this creep...He’s gonna slip up soon...and when he does, we’ll be there and we’ll nail him’ the man smiled to himself and went back to his book, smoke curling up around his narrowed eyes as he flicked the ash from the tip of his pale pink cigarette.

Chapter 3

‘I don’t know Hutch. Why’s this one getting to me so much?’ Starsky said, the lines and planes of his face melting into a grimace as he stirred the coffee around in his cup.

‘Dunno buddy. It’s gotten to me too, but at least I’m not losing sleep over it. Or is it the lovely Molly that has you comatose this morning?’

Starsky snorted. ‘God I wish it were. She’s sweet and she cares and her body…I tell ya Hutch, normally I’d be like a dog with two dicks, but this case is even interferin’ with that! This morning I woke up in a sweat, an’ when I’d calmed down she was there, all pink an’ perfect. So we….ya know….an’ just as I’m getting’ to the good bit I look down at her and all I see is that poor girl’s face with it’s throat cut’. The brunet stared mournfully at the brown dregs in his cup, his head propped on his hand, creasing his handsome face. ‘It has a habit of coolin’ the enthusiasm some. There aint never gonna a be a little Starsky runnin’ round at this rate. I tell ya, its better birth control than any rubber!’

‘Well think on it more as giving yourself a vacation Gordo. And when you get back into it Molly will be all the happier. Tireder, but happier’.

‘By the time I get back into it, Molly will be old an’ grey an’ past carin’ Blintz. There should be a law against this – takin’ your work home with ya. It’s not good for…..Well it’s just not good’.

Hutch nodded and drained his cup. ‘Got’cha there buddy. But at least we got another lead now. C’mon, let’s get back downtown huh?’

Starsky heaved himself out of the booth of the small diner they’d called into. He flung a dollar bill down on the countertop, smiled at the girl behind the counter and followed his partner out to his car. Getting in, they resumed their conversation.

'Don’t know about lead. We aint got much on this flake. Not enough to get out there and make a positive ID’ he grumbled.

‘Well let’s see what we have got’ the blond said, flinging his left arm over the back of the seat and wedging himself into the leather as Starsky drove off. ‘The photos of the girls all show their throats cut, cleanly. So we know he’s got a real sharp blade of some kind - he may be used to using them. He also cuts their bodies in the same pattern and then dumps them near the hospitals’.

‘Yeah, so Markovitz in forensics said it looked like those murders in London England at the turn of the century – that Ripper guy’.

‘Uh huh. Jack the Ripper. Did the same thing and left notes. So he’s a flake with a penchant for history’.

‘A what?’ Starsky’s nose wrinkled as he cast a sidelong look at his partner.

‘Penchant. A liking for history. Did you really finish grade school Starsk?’

‘Yeah. I just don’t’ read “Towards more colorful speech” in the Readers Digest like you do! Go on. We got a goon who has a knife and likes history. Great!’

‘Well there are also the cigarette stubs found next to the girls. And now we know he also smells of bleach’ Hutch finished.

At first the duo had been perplexed by the cigarette stubs. Each one showed a separate pastel shade on the wrapper and had a gold foil filter. Their first thought was that they were some sort of Nat Sherman’s cigarettes, but the guys at the lab had told them that they were, in fact Sobranie Cocktail cigarettes – a Russian brand and not particularly easy to come by in Bay City. Since then, they had turned up 11 stores in the immediate area that sold them and had tried to get lists of all those customers who asked for them by name. Most turned out to be women, attracted by the colourful wrappers and filters, but it was difficult for store keepers to alert the detectives to the sale of the smokes without attracting too much attention.

‘Not the best set of criteria in the world. A chain smoking, effeminate history nut who has a knife and likes to keep clean. Teriffic! You ok?’ Starsky asked as Hutch wriggled on the seat.

‘What? Oh, the coffee. As Mom used to say, I should’a gone before I set off. Pull over there an’ I’ll go use the john’ Hutch pointed at a convenience store on the corner of Channing and 5th. The brunet pulled the car round in a U turn and put it into park as Hutch got out and trotted over to the store.

Starsky tapped his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel, the details of the case floating around and aound in his head. Behind him and a little to the left, he saw in the rear view mirror a large dark brown car, parked sloppily with it’s tailfin sticking out into the road. Something about it made Starsky curious and he got out of his own car and sauntered over to take a look at the target vehicle. It was an Oldsmobile, in beautiful condition and with the addition of white walled tires and shiny chrome fixtures. Always one to appreciate a showy car, he ran an appreciative hand over its smooth paintwork and bent down to look inside. The plush dark brown interior was just as tidily kept as the outside. Not a thing out of place. Which seemed odd. Someone who was so fastidious about their car wouldn’t park it in a no parking zone in such a haphazzard fashion.

The brunet was just about to stand up to look for the owner when his heart did a little flip and his breath quickened. There, sticking out of the ashtray on the dashboard was a pale blue cigarette stub with a gold foil filter. Not common, certainly not something you’d see every day, and something that excited the curly hared cop’s interest.

Knowing it could be a wild goose chase, but prepared to take that risk, Starsky stood up and looked around him. He had a gut feeling, and over the years in the force, he’d come to trust those reactions; they’d both saved his life and solved cases. He leaned nonchalantly against the Oldsmobile and waited, knowing sooner or later the owner would return. In the sunshine, and with his shades on, he felt hopeful that some time soon he’d nail he flake.

A tall man was walking out of the store, a paper sack under his arm as he stowed his change away into a small wallet and pushed the lot into a side jeans pocket. He saw the sable haired man looking into his car and recognised the cop from the TV. Quick as a flash, he dropped the bag onto the ground, turned and bolted down the road in the opposite direction. Starsky saw the move, and attracted to the running figure like a greyhound to a rabbit he sprinted after him, narrowly avoiding being squished by a large passing truck which blared it’s horn at him impatiently. Starsky dodged around the vehicle and ran full tilt after the man just as Hutch was coming back out of the store. The blond saw his partner take off and out of instinct started to run after him. He had no idea why the brunet was running but the biggest part of watching Starsky’s back was being with him and he couldn’t be with him if they were opposite ends of the street.

The tall man was a fast runner and it took Starsky all his time to tail him. While the brunet had never been on a track and field team like Hutch, he could still outdistance most of the guys in the squad room on a flat out sprint. His feet pounded the sidewalk as he hurtled down the road and skidded on the dirt around a corner. His target had set off down the alleyway without realising that it was a dead end. Starsky slowed slightly as the man came up against the tall wooden gates barring his way.

‘Police, freeze’ Starsky shouted behind him as the man turned to face him. For a moment, the brunet thought he may have had a gun, but he saw nothing in the guy’s hands and slowed to a walk as he approached him, his own left hand holding his Smith and Wesson loosely by his side.

‘I didn’t do nothing’ the guy told him haltingly.

‘What did ya run for then?’ the curly haired cop asked evenly.

‘Dunno. I just thought you were gonna give me a parking ticket or something’. He started to walk towards the cop who immediately brought up his gun defensively.

‘Stay where you are, hands in the air’.

The man did as he was told, standing in the middle of the alleyway as Starsky approached him cautiously, gun still drawn and aimed just in case. He flicked the model 59 at the fellon.

‘Against the wall and assume the position’ Starsky ground out, watching as the man complied meekly – almost too meekly. There was something creepy about the punk now he was up close. Putting his gun into the waistband of his jeans at the back, the brunet stepped forward and started to pat his prisoner down. Starting at the arms and shoulders he patted down the body past the waist. As he got to the legs, he was digusted to find that far from being intimidated, the flake seemed pleased to be caught, the emotion being reflected in the fact that he had a burgoning hard on stretching his jeans tight.

Quickly Starsky slipped over that part, grimacing at the thought and continued on to the perps’ ankles. Satisfied he wasn’t carrying, Starsky reached up and took hold of the man’s right wrist, pulling it down and behind his back to snick on the silver cuff. As he brought it’s partner down too, the brunet caught a slight whiff of something easily recognisible – bleach.

Realising that his instincts had once again served him well and knowing who he might have, Starsky put his hand on the man’s back between his shoulder blades and held him against the wall just as Hutch walked down the alley to join him.

‘Starsk? What’ya got there buddy?’ he asked, seeing the stormy look on the panting brunet’s face.

‘I think we got ourselves one Ripper’.

Slowly he allowed the man to turn round and Hutch got his first good look at the man. He was tall, a shade taller than Hutch, putting him at about 6’3”. With blond hair cut in a buzz cut, he had a pale complexion and watery blue eyes which looked out of the thin face. His lips were thin to the point of being almost non existant and gave him a mean, pinched appearance.

‘Good morning Detective’ the man said evenly, his voice low and level.

‘What?’ Starsky asked, amazed at how collected the man was now that he’d been cuffed.

‘Detective Starsky isn’t it? I never forget a face’.

‘Looks like ya got a fan Starsk’ Hutch grinned

‘What can I say. I’m unforgettable’ Starsky grunted.

‘Yes, you are’ the man said.

The brunet shuddered. ‘Name’

‘Shane Lewis’

‘Shane Lewis. I’m arresting you for parking in a no parking zone. Oh…and for the rape of six women and the murder of five of ‘em. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand?’ Starsky asked taking hold of Shane’s arm.

‘I understand more than you’ll ever know Detective’.

Hutch looked at his partner. ‘What the hells’ that supposed to mean?’

‘I have no idea. Let’s just get this flake down to the Metro and book him in. I get a feeling it’s gonna be a long day’.

They bundled Shane into the car and set off back to town, driving silently as they both considered who they had in the back seat. Each time Starsky looked into the rear view mirror, Lewis’ eyes appeared to be staring at him; boring into the back of his head. He shuddered. On most occasions when they’d caught someone they’d been chasing for months there was a sense of elation; a sense that there was some sort of closure. Now, however, there was none of that; no cause for celebration. While they were more than sure they had the right guy, there was still an air of incompleteness that both men found unnerving.

Two hours later, Lewis sat in interview room twelve, smoking a cigarette and staring back at an irritated brunet.

‘Let’s go over this one more time’ Starsky said, leaning on the table and putting his face a mere six inches from Shane’s face. ‘Where were you at 10:00 o’clock last night?’

‘At home’.

‘Who was with you?’

‘I was on my own. I like to be on my own’.

‘What do you like to read Lewis?’


‘You heard. What sort of books d’ya like to read? Any particular subject?’ History maybe?

‘You’re crazy!’ Shane took another drag on his cigarette and blew the acrid blue smoke directly at the curly haired cop.

Starsky took hold of Lewis’ collar and pulled the man up until he could stare into the watery blue eyes with his stormy indigos.

‘We’re on to you punk! We’re gonna nail your ass so that you’ll never get outa Folsom as long as you live! We’re gonna make sure you never lay hands on another girl. Have you got that? Coz when you get inside, they got a special place for flakes like you. Where all the other prisoners know who you are and what ya did. An’ one by one they’re gonna take you apart piece by piece. Then maybe you’ll know what those girls went through’. Starsky let go with one hand, the fury hot in his veins as he lost all control. He drew his hand back to launch a blow but was foiled when it was caught on a strong warm fist.

‘Starsk! C’mon buddy’ Hutch’s soft voice sounded behind him.

Starsky stopped what he was doing, clarity coming back to his eyes. He fought once more with Hutch to land the blow before staggering away to stand against the wall, hands braced and head sagging between them. He panted hard, refusing to look at the prisoner as he heard Hutch warning Shane.

‘My partner gets alittle excited when he’s dealing with punks like you. I stopped him this time, but the next time…..’

‘I want to see my lawyer’ Shane said, meeting Hutch’s eyes with a steely gaze.

The blond raised his hand, pointing a warning finger at the prisoner. ‘You can talk to whoever you like Lewis. But we’re gonna be going over your apartment with a fine toothed comb. We’re gonna find every piece of evidence we can. This case is gonna be so water tight that even Houdini’d never get out of it’.

With that said, Hutch straightened, took a hold of Starsky’s still trembling shoulder and walked out, leaving Shane Lewis watching the tight jeans and swaggering hips disappear through the doorway as he licked his lips.

Chapter 4

Starsky and Hutch made their way back up to the squad room after handing their prisoner back over to the custody sergeant. It gave the duo some satisfaction to see Lewis behind bars, but they knew they had a long way to go to keep him off the streets of Bay City for good. And far from being elated that they had finally caught the man they firmly believed was the Ripper, they felt dirty, as though just being in the same room as Shane Lewis had tarnished them in some way. Starsky glanced at his watch – 15:50. They’d been on the go for almost 12 hours. No wonder he felt weary!

Walking into the smoky room, Hutch sat down heavily on his chair and loosened his collar as Starsky poured them both a cup of strong black coffee. The brunet looped his leg over the back of the chair, sat on the chair back and put his feet on the seat, resting his elbows on his knees. He put his head in his hands, pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes.

‘Ya wanna call it a day?’ he asked the blond as Hutch reached for the cup.

‘No. I want to get the paperwork started. I want this sucker behind bars as soon as…..You want to go?’

Starsky sighed. ‘Nope. I want him just as much as you do. Gimme a form an’ I’ll get started’. He dropped down onto the chair, jammed a pencil between his teeth and started to hammer at the typewriter, cursing at each mistake as he rubbed it away with the eraser. He didn’t look up as Dobey walked into the room.

‘Starsky, Hutchinson. Can I see you in my office?’

Hutch gave Starsky one of his looks as he got up, snagged his jacket from the back of his chair and followed as the brunet walked quietly into the inner room. They stood impassively as Dobey introduced them to Joe Newman, a dapper and super-confident looking guy dressed in a sharp black suit.

‘Mr Newman here has a complaint from his client. He says you’ve harassed him and threatened him’.

‘And your client would be…..? Oh don’t tell me. Shane Lewis’ Starsky growled.

‘Mr Lewis tells me you were quite violent in the interview. I just wanted to warn you that while my client is out on bail you should leave him alone. Got that?’

Hutch put a hand out to hold his partner down as the hot tempered brunet tried to surge forward.

‘Well you tell your client, Mr smart suit lawyer man that when he stops molesting, raping and killing young girls we’ll start treatin’ him like a real human being’ Starsky snapped, his face and neck red with anger and indignation. Newman looked impressed.

‘And that’s just the sort of behavior I’m talking about Captain’ Newman spoke to Dobey, ignoring the curly haired man. ‘Hasn’t your officer heard of innocent until proven guilty? Any more displays of out and out anger and there will be a restraining order slapped on him. It may be better to keep your pets on a leash and under control’.

It was Dobey this time that lost his temper and the big black man stood, knocking his chair over in his speed.

‘Mr Newman, I think it’d be best if you left now. You’ve made your feelings clear and now I think you’d be safer getting’ out of my office’.

Newman grinned at the two detectives, his gaze lingering slightly longer on Starsky before nodding, goading the brunet into making another statement. If Hutch could have slapped his hand over his partner’s mouth he would have, but he needn’t have worried. Starsky may have been hot headed but he wasn’t stupid. The curly haired cop glared at the departing lawyer, but kept his lips tightly clamped shut. The door closed.

‘Ya just know some guys never had fathers. How come that punk got bail? When were ya gonna tell us that little tit bit?’ Starsky ground out when they were finally alone.

‘Don’t take your temper out on me Starsky. The Judge set bail at $500,000 and Newman stumped it up. What could we do? Now ya gotta put that behind ya. Keep your eye on him, but don’t hassle. Get your evidence together and be careful. Will the girl testify?’ Dobey sat back down and started to read their report.

‘Sure she will’ Starsky said

‘We don’t know Cap’n’ Hutch said both at the same time.

Dobey looked up. ‘You’d better get your answers before you meet the DA. It’s her you’re gonna have to convince. Now get outa here. Get some sleep and come back tomorrow with answers’.


Starsky pushed the door to his apartment open and walked in, taking his holster off at the door and hanging it up on the coat stand before heading to the fridge for a beer. He wanted nothing more than an ice cold drink, a pizza and sleep. The time he’d spent with Shane Lewis in the small interview room grated on his nerves and he wanted to forget the greasy flake for just a few hours, get his head back in gear and then set about making sure that Lewis was locked up for a very, very long time.

The brunet ran the shower, stripping off his work clothes and putting them all in the wash basket. Even the smell of the disinfectant they used in the interview rooms seemed to knock him sick tonight and he wanted to get rid of all reminders of the Metro. He stood beneath the shower, holding his bottle of beer at arms length and as the hot water beat down on his shoulders and back, he leaned to one side and took another deep satisfying chug of the amber coloured liquid.

Getting out of the water five minutes later, he felt marginally more relaxed and a lot more sleepy. It had been a long day and he felt that with a good night’s sleep, he’d be ready to take on Donna, the DA and Lewis again in the morning. For now, he wanted to eradicate the sight of Donna’s young bruised body lying on the bed from his memory. As he plodded towards his bedroom he was already using his usual ploy for getting his mind out of “work mode” and was thinking of the New York Giants and running players and game plays through his head. Al Simpson, Danny Buggs, Robert Giblin, Jim O'Bradovic, John Tate, Mike Mahoney. He was just getting to Terry McClowry as he opened the door to his bedroom and walked in expecting to throw himself down on the bed, when George Martin’s name stuck on his lips.

Oh shit, no. Not tonight! Lying on her side on his bed, Molly looked like a real life doll, her hair endearingly mussed and her face relaxed in sleep. Much as Starsky loved his girlfriend to bits, there were times when he wanted nothing more than to stretch out on his own bed by himself. And tonight was one of those nights. Tonight he wanted to be selfish and to consider himself first and foremost. Tonight he wanted to block out everything and just have some Starsky time. Biting back a sigh, he slowly lifted the corner of the sheet, hoping that maybe he wouldn’t wake the girl and he could just go to sleep and wake up with her next to him in the morning. Maybe then he’d feel more like making love, but not now. Not tonight.

Molly felt the dip on the mattress as Starsky sat down and she blearily opened an eye, putting her hand over her man’s flat abdomen as Starsky lay on his back next to her. Hoping that if he lay quiet she’d go back to sleep, he said nothing. But Molly had been waiting for Starsky to come back and now she cuddled closer to him, ran her finger nails down through the hairs on his chest and followed their path south to where they became thicker and more wiry.

Slowly her hand sought him out and circled him as she kissed the crook of his neck. Her hand worked harder at him and Starsky tried his best to relax and go with the flow. But each time he closed his eyes he saw Donna’s bruised face looking back at him. He put his hand over hers and stopped her.

‘Not tonight’ he said a little too bluntly.

She stopped. ‘Are you tired honey?’


‘Well let me relax you. Just lie back and I can….’

‘I said not tonight’. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them and Molly’s hand retreated quick as a rattle snake.

‘Sorry. I just thought….’

‘That you’d come an’ surprise me. Yeah, I know. But sometimes I just need some time on my own’.


‘Ya know. Some space. Some…..’

‘You don’t love me any more. That’s it, isn’t it?’

‘No, nuthin like that. I’m just tired honey. It’s the case we’re workin’ on its just….Molly? MOLLY’

The woman had bounced up off the bed. ‘You don’t need to explain. I shouldn’t have come. I should have called first. I’m sorry – I didn’t think. I just thought it’d be a nice surprise for you after your bad day’ She busied herself getting her things together, shouldering into her tee shirt and plunging her legs into her jeans.

Starsky sighed, sitting up in bed. ‘Molly don’t go honey. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…. Well I did mean, but not…..aww c’mon Moll. Don’t leave like this’.

She smiled half heartedly at him. ‘Dave, you’re tired. I’m tired and right now I feel pretty stupid. So just let me do the whole flouncing out routine and get it out of my system’. She bent down and kissed the top of his head. ‘I’ll call you tomorrow’.

‘You’d better’ he said, angry that he’d made her feel bad, but on the other hand relieved that she was going now, before they said something irreparable.

Starsky kissed her back and led back on the bed as he heard his front door close softly. What had he done to deserve a girl as special as Molly? He switched off the bedside lamp and closed his eyes and was just beginning the downward spiral into sleep. His body relaxed, twitching slightly as sleep overcame him. His mind was still active and once again he started rhyming off the team members of the Giants. Al Simpson, Danny Buggs, Robert Giblin, Jim……. when his telephone startled him wide awake.

Nerves jangling at the sound, Starsky cursed under his breath and reached for the receiver. ‘H’lo. It’d better be good’ he snapped, expecting to hear Hutch’s voice.

‘That was mean Detective. Making your girlfriend leave so early in the night. And such a pretty girl too. Such a slim neck and beautiful long legs’.

‘Who is this?’ Starsky yelled down the phone although the voice was naggingly familiar.

‘You know me Detective Starsky. And now I know you too. But not well enough just yet….there’s time’.

Before Starsky could question the voice more, the phone line went dead leaving the brunet sweating and panting. What did the voice mean, “She has a slim neck”. Molly! Oh shit!

The cop dived out of bed, hurrying to get his jeans and tee shirt on as he picked up his gun and headed for the door. He locked it behind him, got into his car and sped off to Molly’s house, trying to calm his racing heart as visions of Molly in the same predicament as Donna came unbidden to him. Fortunately, Molly’s house wasn’t far from his and the lights were still on when he got there. Starsky slewed the Torino to a halt outside and was out of the car bolting up the steps before the last notes of the engine had died. Without waiting to knock, he burst through the door and stood, gun in his hand and legs bent in classic firing posture as he looked around.

Scared out of her wits, Molly came quickly out of her bathroom, toothbrush still in her mouth. She took one look at the gun and her hands flew to her face as the toothbrush clattered to the ground.

‘Dave? What is it? What’s the matter?’

Realising that there was no-one around, Starsky pushed the gun into the waistband of his jeans and ran to the woman, gathering her up in his arms and kissing her full on the lips. He drew back and looked at her earnest face.

‘Dave, are you ok?’ she asked, reaching up to smooth his curls back from his forehead.

‘Yeah, I am now’ he said, slightly embarrassed now that he realised no-one was there.

‘Are you gonna tell me what this is all about?’ she asked, seeing the last vestiges of fear in his eyes.

‘Would you believe I wanted to apologize?’ he asked sheepishly.

She grinned. ‘No. But it’s a start!’

‘C’mere and let me say sorry properly’ he said hugging her to him. She buried her face in the crook of his neck.

‘Don’t you know that it spoils the whole effect of me walking out on you if you come chasing after me minutes later?’

‘Well I’m sorry I stopped your fun honey’

‘S’ok, do you want coffee?’ she asked separating herself from him with difficulty.


‘How about warm milk?’ she asked with a straight face,

He rolled his eyes. ‘How about you peel those clothes of and I apologize properly’.

‘Aww Detective. You say the most romantic things. I may need some help. I’m very tired you know. My guy threw me out tonight’.

‘Well he’s a moron. Here, the tee shirt comes right over your head like that. And then these jeans have this little zip and a natty little button and…oh look….that’s what holds ‘em up!’ The brunet’s hands moved swiftly over the smooth skin of her hips as Molly stepped out of the denim fabric and knelt beside him. She took his face in her hands and kissed him on the lips.

Deftly he pushed her back until she was laying on her back on the cool tile of the living room. Swiftly he unbuttoned his fly and shuffled out of his own jeans as her fingers raked down the front of his chest.

‘You have no finesse Dave’ she giggled as he started to smother her in small kisses starting at her neck. He kissed down her arm, licking delicately at the soft skin of her inner elbow and she mewed with satisfaction as he carried on lower. As he kissed the palm of her hand, she curled her fingers around his chin and pushed her thumb into his mouth so that he sucked on it and flicked his tongue over the tip.

Molly shivered in anticipation as he hovered over her, poised. ‘I love you Dave’ she whispered as he dipped his body to hers and she sighed contentedly as he nestled into her, exactly where he was meant to be.

‘I think I love you too honey’ he murmured into her ear as his rhythm picked up and his fears for her safety became lost in his drive to take care of her needs.

Chapter 5

Early next morning, Starsky extricated himself from the sleeping woman and dressed quickly. Snagging his keys from the floor where they’d thrown them the previous evening, he made his quiet way out into the early morning cool, got in his car and turned in the direction of Venice Place. The driving calmed him and gave him time to think. Last night had been good after all, the thoughts of losing Molly fuelling him into a night of love making such as he’d never had before, and the first light of dawn had started to illuminate the sky before he and Molly had fallen asleep in each other’s arms. Now he felt tired and relaxed and sure he smelled of their sex, but it was too late to shower. He grinned, but then the grin faded as he thought of the telephone call that had led to their passionate night.

The rest of the drive to his partner’s house was done automatically as Starsky tried to relive the phone call. He was damned sure he knew who’d made it, and wanted Hutch’s views before he took any action. He drew up outside the small block and took the stairs up to the first floor slowly. Sincerely hoping he wouldn’t have to chase down any perps today due to his lack of energy, he knocked once on the tree decorated door and walked in.

Hutch’s apartment was in its usual state of disarray and the brunet sat down on the sofa as Hutch’s head appeared from the bedroom.

‘Be with ya in five. Wassup Starsk? Did ya wet the bed?’

‘Nope. Got a little love call last night. Kinda stopped me sleeping too much’.

The blond head reappeared. ‘If it’s about you and the lovely Molly I don't wanna know. It’s too early in the morning Gordo’.

‘Aint Molly that kept me awake……well not for the most part’ Starsky grinned. ‘I had a bit of an argument with her and she went home’.

‘Not following’.

‘No, well someone was. She’d only been gone about 5 minutes when I get a call to say I was mean to kick my girl out and she had a slim neck’.

Hutch threw his tooth brush into the sink and walked out into the living room. ‘And you’re thinking what I’m thinking?’

‘Shane Lewis. Who else is pissed off enough at us and likes pretty girls who have necks slim enough to cut? I tell ya Blondie, I was round at Molly’s in record time. Nuthin happened……well not with that flake. But it’s just made me all the more hell bent on nailing the turkey’.

‘You and me both’ Hutch said. ‘Where’s Molly now?’

‘I told her to go to her Mothers for a while. She wasn’t for movin’ but I ended up tellin’ her about Lewis an’ helped her pack her bags. She’ll be gone for a while’.

‘Why the hell didn’t you call me?’ Hutch asked as he finished pulling the tee shirt on over his head.

‘I wanted to get to Molly as quick as I could. And anyway, what could you have done? It was a phone call and I couldn’t even prove it was him’.

‘Well we know where our first stop today is’ Hutch agreed reluctantly.

‘Oh yeah! Too right. We’re goin’ to pay our man a visit and hope he gives us enough cause to re-arrest him’.

Two hours later saw the detectives with warrant in hand as they pounded on Shane Lewis’ door. There was no answer to their knocks and finally, fuelled by the phone call the previous evening, Starsky lost patience all together and kicked at the handle, breaking the lock so that the door flew inwards and hung crookedly from its hinges. The brunet stood back and held out a hand.

‘After you’ he said

Hutch nodded and walked into the compact apartment. It was small, well decorated with one room which housed both kitchen and living room together, a separate bedroom and a bathroom. All were tidy to the point of being creepily so. It was as though no-on actually lived in the house – as though it were some sort of film set. Starsky shivered, an irrational fear that someone was watching him raking cold fingers down his back. Without a word, the two set to, checking out the place and poking around Lewis’ property. Hutch started in the bedroom, while Starsky delved into the living room. Within minutes, he called out for Hutch. The blond appeared.

‘What’ve you got?’

‘Only an entire library of history books’ Starsky said, pointing to a well stocked bookcase. The blond tilted his head on one side so that he could read the titles on the spines of the books. He whistled and pulled out four or five tomes, laying them down on the chair next to his partner.

‘I think you’re on to something. Look at these’ he said, reading out the titles. ‘”Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution”, Jack the Ripper in fact and fiction”, “The Life and Times of Jack the Ripper” and Identity of Jack the Ripper”. You know Starsk, call me a detective, but I’m spotting a pattern here’.

‘Uh huh. And lookee here’ The brunet held up a pastel green coloured cigarette, half smoked and it’s gold foil stub still in tact. ‘Don’t suppose there’s any chance of finding an ultra sharp blade to complete the hat trick?’

Hutch grinned and made his way to the small, uncannily tidy kitchen. He opened one or two drawers then let out a low whistle. ‘My God!’

Starsky walked over and saw what had made his partner draw breath. The drawer was every mass murderer’s dream. There was every kind of knife from fruit knife to hatchet in the drawer, all gleamingly clean and all set out neatly in order of size.

‘Now all we need is some of the victim’s blood still on one of ‘em?’ Starsky asked quietly.

‘With the smell of bleach coming from the drawer, I’d say that possibility was zero. That’s another thing I found in the bathroom. Most guys I know buy a six pack of beer. Our friend here goes for a six pack of bleach. He sh……’

‘Should what Detective? What’re you doing here? Why’s my door been damaged? I hope you have a warrant or my lawyer’ll be askin’ the department for damages’ Shane Lewis stood quietly in the doorway.

‘Oh we got a warrant alright. An’ I think we got our killer too’ Starsky said, his voice low and intense.

‘Don’t make threats Detective Starsky’.

‘Well don’t go callin’ me in the middle of the night, threatenin’ my girl’ the brunet responded.

‘Me? Why would I do that?’

‘Coz you’re a lunatic that’s why. What makes you get off on rapin’ and killin’ those girls huh? You like to hear ‘em scream? You like to see the fear in their eyes?’

‘I like to see the fear in your eyes’ Shane said, a half smile on his face.

Before Hutch could stop him, Starsky launched himself across the room, his hands reaching for Lewis’ neck. He slammed into the man, knocking him clean through the doorway and out into the hall as both men crashed to the ground. With Lewis below him, Starsky knelt with a knee on either side of Shane’s body as he took a hold of the man’s head. He pulled it up and slammed it into the floor, satisfied when he heard the grunt from his victim. Pulling his hand back he threw a punch, feeling his knuckles skin as they glanced off Shane’s jaw, snapping his head sideways. Lost in his blood lust, Starsky was winding up for another punch when he felt hands on his shoulders pulling him up. Without another thought he stood, whirled around and landed a blow to Hutch’s cheek before he could stop himself. The blond staggered back not because of the blow but because of the surprise of it as he heard Shane on the ground.

‘He’s a madman. He should be put away. He’s not safe on the streets. You’re gonna hear from my lawyer about this’.

Hutch grabbed hold of his partner before Starsky could do any further damage either to himself or Lewis. The brunet stood panting, trying to get his temper back under control. Neither man saw the look on Shane’s face; a look midway between fear and awe. Their suspect couldn’t take his eyes off the smaller of the two men, following his every move, every swing of his hips, every hand gesture, every raise of his eyebrows. And the way the blond one looked after him. Sickeningly sweet and yet somehow Shane found the whole thing to be erotic in the extreme.

‘C’mon Starsk. Get it together will ya?’ Hutch asked quietly, his eyes on Starsky’s as the brunet struggled for composure.

‘Just get me outa here’ the cop ground out. ‘I don’t trust myself around him no more. He’s a….a….I’m outa here’.

Shane couldn’t resist a parting shot as he watched the tightly swathed denim hips stride past him.

‘You should watch yourself Detective Starsky. Don’t start what you won’t be able to stop’.

Hutch took hold of Starsky’s arms and almost threw him out of the door as the brunet’s jaw worked at keeping his mouth shut. Back in the car, he put his head in his hands and sighed. Opening the window he took a deep breath of fresh air as though the very oxygen in the apartment had been tainted. Hutch waited a while.

‘You ok Starsk? I’ve never seen anyone get to you like that. Not even Crazy George Prudholm got ya that riled. What is it with this guy?’

’Dunno. There’s just something. He gives me the creeps and then some. I want this guy behind bars so bad it hurts. What’s up with me?’

Hutch massaged the bruise slowly beginning to appear on his chin and opened and closed his jaw a couple of times, testing it out. ‘I have no idea buddy. But whatever it is, I hope for my teeth’s sake that you work it out real quick’.


‘Hey, don’t apologize to me. Just put as much energy into making this case as watertight as you can huh?’

Starsky grinned wryly. ‘K. Next stop the hospital. We need to make sure Donna is gonna testify’.


An hour later saw both detectives back at the hospital and waiting to go in to see Shane Lewis’ last victim. Donna had had a bad night, plagued by fear and nightmares and she’d been sedated. The doctors had warned the detectives that she may not be in the best frame of mind to be able to help them, but Starsky in particular was adamant. Finally a nurse came out of the small side room and nodded at them.

Starsky led the way into the room and walked over to the bed, pulling up a chair with his foot. As he sat down, Hutch took up a place behind him. Donna smiled wanly at them.

‘The nurse said you wanted to see me again’ she said hesitantly.

‘Yeah, we do honey. How’re ya doin’ today?’ Starsky asked.

‘Ok. I’m sore, but not too bad. It’s just the nightmares. Every time I close my eyes I see monsters waiting for me. Each time I lay with my back to the door I feel like someone is going to leap out and get me. I’m on edge all the time and I hate it’.

‘Would it make you feel any better if I told ya that we have the guy?’ the brunet asked.

‘You have? Where is he? Is he in jail?’

‘No honey. He got bail’ Starsky saw the look of panic in her eyes. ‘But it’s ok, we can protect you. But you need to do something for us. Can you do that?’

‘What?’ she asked, her body visibly trembling

‘We need you to testify. There wouldn’t be a trial unless we had someone who could testify against him’.

She shook her head. ‘I can’t do that. I hardly saw him. I couldn’t identify him’.

‘But you were the one who lead us to him. Without you telling us about the bleach smell and that he was tall we couldn’t have got him so quick’ Starsky urged. He felt a cautionary tap on his shoulder but forged on anyway.

‘We can keep you safe till the trial and then he’ll be away for good. Isn’t that what you want Donna?’

‘Starsk’ Hutch’s warning voice sounded at the back of him, but the brunet was unstoppable.

Donna wasn’t easily convinced. ‘What about the trial. I’ve heard about them before. How they’ll make me out to be in the wrong. I’ve read about them you know. They’ll make out I enticed him and led him on. I can’t do that. It was bad enough to describe it to the lady police officer. What would it be like describing it all in detail in front of a court full of people?’

‘They won’t do that. The Judge won’t allow it honey’ Starsky said gently.

‘Starsky stop’ Hutch hissed.

The brunet turned around. ‘Shuddup. I’m getting there’.

‘You’re telling her a load of shit and you know it' Hutch whispered angrily.

‘No, I don’t. This’ll be different. This’ll be ok. I know it will’.

Starsky turned back to Donna who had begun to cry quietly. Gently he drew her hands from her face. ‘I won’t let anyone hurt you honey. There’s only you can testify against him, otherwise he’ll go free and you don’t want that to happen do you?’

‘No’ she whispered. ‘But I don’t want to go through a trial either. They’ll make out I’m some kind of whore, I know they will’.

‘No they won’t. We won’t let them. Not at the trial. Not ever. Can you do this, for us…..for me?’

She looked into his pleading indigo eyes and nodded almost imperceptibly. Starsky patted her hands. ‘Attagirl. Thanks honey. I know you’re doing the right thing’ he got up, patted her hand again and walked out of the room with Hutch on his heels. As they got out of earshot the blond took a hold of Starsky’s shoulder and spun the smaller man around.

‘What the hell are you playing at?’ he yelled.

‘Playing? I aint playin’ Blondie. I got us a trial. Now we can nail Shane Lewis once and for all. I did it for Donna’.

‘No, You did it for David Starsky. What’s gotten into you? All that guff about how the Judge will stop the questions! That’s a load of fucking baloney and you know it. They’ll tear her to pieces like they do every rape victim. What happened to making sure the witness is prepared huh? What about how she’s gonna feel going into that courtroom thinking it’ll be a walk in the park? Coz it won’t. It’ll be bloody and personal and it’s gonna destroy her’.

Starsky stared at his partner for a moment. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about! You agreed he needs puttin’ away for a helluva long time. It wouldn’t happen without a trial an’ we can’t have a trial without a witness. Well I got us our witness, now go to hell Hutchinson and let me get this case ready for the DA’.

Hutch watched in utter amazement as Starsky stalked stiff backed down the corridor. With a sigh he followed, unsure what exactly was going on in that curly head, but determined to find out.

Chapter 6

‘Just look carefully at the ‘em honey. It’s ok. We’re behind a two way mirror. You can see them, but they can’t see you’ Starsky urged as Donna sat and looked at the line up of six men. All were over 6’ tall, all had mousy light brown hair and all looked like they could have been her attacker. The curly haired cop watched the woman’s eyes as they drifted from one man to the next, feeling the tremble in her limbs as she concentrated. In the line up room, Donna heard the uniformed man in charge tell the men to take a quarter turn to the left and she looked again at their profiles, then at their backs and then at their other profiles.

‘Well? Any of ‘em fit the bill?’ Starsky asked. He willed her to say number 5. He sent silent telepathic messages to her to utter those words, but the girl looked uncertain.

‘They all look so alike. It could be number 3, but I’m not sure. Can I see them from the side again?’

The cop rapped on the window. ‘Again Charlie’. The six man line up went through the motions again and finally Donna made her decision.

‘It’s either number 3 or number 5’ she said. ‘That’s the best I can do’.

‘Can you decide which one honey? We need the ID. Just one more look huh?’ Starsky pleaded with her.

Donna glanced at the window again and eventually hitched a deep breath. ‘Number 5, I think’.

Starsky could have leapt through the window in joy. ‘Great honey. Just great. Now, go along the corridor, the DA is waiting for ya for the pre hearing’.

Since the day they’d searched Shane Lewis’ apartment, the case had become more and more personal to the curly haired cop, fuelled by the fact that when he got back to the Metro from the search Dobey had been waiting for him. He and Hutch had been ushered into the Captain’s office to find Joe Newman waiting for them.

Didn’t waste much time, did he?’ Starsk grunted as he sat on the arm of the chair.

Newman grinned as he handed a piece of paper to the cop. ‘I’d be obliged if you’d keep the hell away from my client’ he said with some satisfaction. ‘More than 100 yards away, at all times, in fact’.

Starsky opened the sheet of paper and read the restraining order, the ink on the page still damp. He threw it down in disgust. ‘Your Mom must’a been such a lonely lady Newman. Bein’ that you didn’t have a father an’ all’. The brunet got up and walked from the room, Hutch hard on his heels. The blond paused at the door, smiled a rueful smile and shrugged his shoulders.

Um…..have a good day’ he said laconically and closed the door behind him.

What right does he think he has?’ the brunet ground out as he slammed the door to the squad room behind him and headed for the gym. He needed some mindless exercise to take away his pent up anger.

Hutch caught up with him. ‘Every right partner. Think about it. You very near hammered his client into submission back there. If I hadn’t stopped you maybe….’

Maybe I’d have killed him? Is that what you were gonna say? What if I had? What if I had killed him? Once less flake on the street then. One less guy who can ruin a girl’s life. C’mon Hutch. Don’t tell me you haven’t felt like that before? Like we’re just playin’ at this, coz every time we get ‘em to court the jury let ‘em off. Maybe we should just cut out the middle man and have done with it’.

And become vigilantes? That’s not your style Gordo, an’ you know it! What the fuck’s gotten into ya? I just don’t understand it’.

Starsky stopped his headlong chase down the hall and looked at his partner with troubled eyes. ‘Neither do I, Hutch. And maybe that’s what’s scarin’ me more than anythin’. But all I know is I need to put this guy away for so long that he won’t even remember what colour the sky is!’

Aww c’mon Starsk. You’re taking this way too personal. Dobey’s right, we should step back from this one’.

Personal? Lewis made it personal Hutch. When he phoned me, he made it personal all on his own. I’m just playin’ catch up’

Well it’s gonna make it difficult getting the evidence when you aren’t allowed within 100 yards of him’.

Starsky clapped his buddy on the arm. ‘That’s what friends are for’.

Now, the brunet rapped once again on the window to let Charlie know that the line up had come to an end before following Donna out into the corridor. She went into the mock courtroom down the hall as Hutch sat quietly outside and Starsky paced the dark grey carpet. What seemed like hours went by as they waited for the DA to finish the preparatory hearing with Donna. Their minds went back to the last time they’d done this, with a young girl who’d been raped. Starsky remembered the white blond hair and the look of helplessness on her face and he pushed his nails into the palms of his hands until he was sure he’d draw blood.

Three quarters of an hour later, the door opened and Donna came out, supported by a female police officer. She was sobbing into a handkerchief and looked up at the door. Behind her, the DA stood waiting.

Donna saw Starsky, silhouetted against the window and shook off the female officer who’d been holding her elbow. She ran at the brunet, her tears glistening on her face.

‘I hate you….I hate you’ she yelled, beating her fists against his chest. You told me he’d protect me. You told me they’d never question me about how I came to be out. You lied. You’re just like all the rest….just interested in your convictions. I’m not a whore…..I’m not. I don’t sleep around and I don’t go out with countless men. But he made it out that I did! I hate all of you….’ She broke down in a flood of tears and sank to her knees on the floor as the woman with her rushed to her side and put her arms round her.

Starsky’s face was a mask of anger. He looked over the head of the woman at the DA who shrugged his shoulders.

‘What the hell happened?’ the cop asked as Donna was lead away, still hysterical.

The DA shook his head. ‘I did what we always do in these situations. I tried to be as gentle as possible but it isn’t fair on the witness to whitewash over things. The defence wouldn’t do that. She couldn’t ID Lewis. The line up was at best a good guess, so the rest of the evidence we have is circumstantial at best. And then I asked her the questions the defence are likely to ask – about her background; her preferences in men; whether she led him on or not’.

‘Oh fuck. She’ll never give evidence now!’ Starsky yelled his face red with anger.

‘She won’t be giving evidence anyway, Detective. There isn’t going to be a trial’.

‘No trial? What d’ya mean, no trial? We have Shane Lewis. We know where he is, his movements…’

‘But we don’t have a positive ID and the rest of the evidence, like I said, is circumstantial at best. Anyone could have bleach in their house and no jury I know of is going to convict on the strength of a few books on a particular subject’.

‘It aint any subject, it’s one nasty one. An’ he followed the Ripper’s crimes almost to the letter’ Starsky tried to reason with the DA. But the lawyer wouldn’t be moved.

‘You saw what she was like. And there was only me and another woman in the room. Do you really want to put her through a full trial with all you know it entails? Don’t you think that being raped was bad enough?’

‘He’s right Starsk. What’s the point of getting her so upset that she doesn’t know what she’s saying? Hutch tried to reason with the brunet.

‘The point is that that flake is gonna walk free and he’ll be there to do the same thing all over again. And then we’re gonna have to pick up even more pieces. How many more girls lives is he gonna have to ruin or end before some fancy clothes lawyer is man enough to get a case together?’

‘I’ll try not to take that personally Detective’ the DA said as lightly as he could.

‘You can take it any way ya please! I’m just damned sick of everyone pussy footing around. Five girls dead! Don’t that count for sumthin?’

‘It counts for a great deal, and if it wasn’t for passionate cops like you, there’d be more rapists and murderers out on the street. But I’m not prepared to make a prosecution when there is little to no hope of a conviction, and that’s my final word on the subject. Now gentlemen…..if you’ll excuse me?’ the DA walked down the hall as Starsky stared at his retreating back. Hutch put his hand on the brunet’s shoulder.

‘C’mon ya big lug. I know how much this one meant to you, but you can’t win ‘em all. I’ll buy you a burrito and a root beer and you can drown your sorrows’.

‘It’ll take more ‘n’ food to do that. Shit Hutch! I can’t do this day after day. What’s it all about huh? What’s the point of it all?’

‘Point is, we earn our daily dollar and do as we’re told. That’s the way of the world buddy’.

‘Well the world stinks!’

‘I’m not gonna argue with you on that one. You just have to put this behind ya, chalk it up to experience and get back out on the street. There’s plenty more where Lewis came from’.

‘Yeah, I know’ Starsky sighed. ‘Aww hell, I’m gonna knock off early. Had enough of all this for one day. I couldn’t stomach any more for the DA, or Dobey or anyone else come to that. Are ya comin’?’

‘I got some paperwork to finish up, but I’m not gonna be late. Do you want supper tonight?’

‘Nope. I wouldn’t be good company. In fact I think I’d be a pain in the ass. No, I’m gonna go home, watch some TV, veg out and have an early night. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel less like handin’ my badge in huh?’

‘K. But you know where I am if ya wanna talk’.

‘Yeah. I know. See ya tomorrow’. He started to walk away.

‘Is it my turn to come for you, or your turn to come for me? Hutch asked.

‘Um….Be round at mine at 6:00. I could do with an hour in the gym. Just to get the kinks outa the system’.

The blond nodded. ‘Wow! Early bird. Ok 6 it is. See ya then’.

Starsky walked back to his car. He hated feeling this way. He hated failure and the loss of the Lewis case was a failure, although deep down he knew he could have done nothing more. The drug in Donna’s system had meant that she had been too fuzzy to see her attacker properly and the second drug he’d given her – the same paralysing drug he’d given to the other girls had left her with her hearing and sight, but the inability to move and so she hadn’t been able to struggle or to turn her head to see the face of her rapist. He shuddered. Worse than being unconscious while someone violated her, she knew exactly what was going on, but couldn’t even scream out. It was the stuff of horror movies.

Starsky drove back to his apartment via the beach. He spent an hour parked by the jetty looking out at the sea until the first colours of the fast approaching sunset appeared. He turned the engine back on, drove the few miles to his house and mounted the steps up to his front door.

Inside, he busied himself with a beer, ate the remains of a pizza from the fridge, took a shower and spent some time watching a rerun of “I love Lucy”.

At 10:30, he stretched and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed. He stopped a moment. He must be getting sloppy! Usually he was so clean and tidy, but the top was off the toothpaste tube! He squeezed an inch into his brush, did the necessary, then padded back into his bedroom. Amazingly considering the anger he’d felt during the day, he was asleep within minutes although towards midnight something woke him.

Starsky tried to sit up in bed, but his body felt heavy and his head dizzy and spacey. He ran his hand over his forehead with an arm that felt leaden and unresponsive. Oh Jeez! He was coming down with the flu, or something similar. He felt dry and his tongue rasped against his upper lip.


Hutch had said he was there if he needed anything. And although he didn’t usually run to the blond for every little thing that happened to him, he felt so sick that he knew he needed help. With an effort, he reached out his hand to the telephone, but as he was about to pick up the receiver, another hand covered his and prevented him from making the call.


Chapter 7

The curly haired cop opened his mouth to yell, but his lips and vocal chords refused to work and nothing but a breathy wheeze escaped him. His eyes however, followed the familiar figure as it bent down to look at him and Starsky was suddenly transported back in time.

No, I can’t…I can’t….nooo’

Ya got 24 hours to live pig. Count ’em. 24!’

He had that same sickening feeling of being out of control, at the mercy of someone else and he desperately tried to roll out of the way. His body responded sluggishly and he managed to get his legs out of the bed at the other side of the mattress. With a superhuman effort he hauled himself to his feet and stood for a moment swaying before vertigo finally stopped him and he sank to his knees with a low groan in his throat. Dropping onto all fours, Starsky tried to crawl away, finally making it to a corner of his bedroom where he sat, hunched with his back to the wall and panting as though he’d run a five mile race. His eyes stared ahead, but his vision wavered as though he was looking at things through a veil of water and he rubbed his hand over his face, desperately trying to focus on the man in the room. His fingers felt rubbery and cold against his skin – as though he’d led on them and lost the feeling and the brunet tried to cry out. A gurgle but nothing more forced it’s way out and his eyes stretched wide in fright.

Shane Lewis appeared around the corner of the bed and looked at his target. He’d waited a long time to get even with the cop and now was his perfect opportunity. Having observed the mahogany haired man for some time, he knew that Starsky very rarely locked his front door and that when Hutch or his woman weren’t around he’d usually be in bed by 10:30 or 11:00 at the latest. He hadn’t been wasting his time while the cops had been trying to pin the rapes and murders on him. He’d spent a long time hovering around Ridgeway, snapping Starsky and also Hutch with his Olympus camera as they came and went. He loved their closeness, the frequent familiar gestures, the times when Hutch would pull his partner to him in a bear hug of an embrace, or Starsky would playfully reach up and ruffle Hutch’s hair. All grist to his mill. And as he’d watched, his jealousy raged unchecked. He’d always liked dark hair. He’d picked his girls out because of the colour of the hair, but he’d never thought about men before – not in that way. Until he saw the cop with the thatch of sable curls, the handsome, rugged face and those slim hips and tight ass. And his temperature soared. Something different. He could take this man and the feelings he would get from subduing the powerful body would be unlike anything he’d experienced before.

Starsky made another strangled sound in his throat, panic rising in his chest as Lewis bore down on him until the tall man was standing right over him. Slowly he hunkered down next to the cop, cutting of Starsky’s escape route effectively.

‘Surprised to see me Detective Starsky? Or can I call you Dave? Seeing that we’re gonna get to know each other a whole lot better, I like first names don’t you? Huh? Speak up!’

Shane laughed as he saw Starsky’s throat bobbing and his lips trying to form words. ‘C catch ya….fucker’ the cop managed to whisper although his voice sounded alien, even to his own ears.

‘Oh I don’t think so. And even if you did, the mighty Joe Newman will get me off again. After all, if you’re dead, you can’t ID me, can ya? And how many other guys have you pissed off enough for ‘em to want to kill ya? Too many, I bet. Too many for ‘em to sift out who’s done it an’ who aint. With that temper of yours you’re kinda notorious. How’s it feel to make a name for yourself huh?’

Shane stood up and took a hold of Starsky’s arms, lifting the cop to his feet and half carrying, half dragging him back to the bed. Starsky dug his heels into his carpet and tried to hit out with his arm, but although he managed to move it, there was no power in the blow and Shane deflected it easily. He dumped the brunet onto the bed and Starsky fell back, so that he was on his back, his arms flung wide as he stared up at Lewis above him. Indigo blue eyes widened in horror as he watched the flake take a pre-loaded syringe from his pocket. He knelt on the cop’s outstretched left arm and with one hand tight around Starsky’s bicep, he pulled the plastic sheath from the needle with his teeth and spat it away. Dramatically expelling the air from the needle, Shane pushed the metal into an obliging vein and stood up to wait.

Starsky felt as though molten metal was flowing through his veins. The pain was so intense he thought he’d pass out there and then. But even worse than the pain was the horrible feeling of total paralysis that came in its wake. Inexorably, first his arms and then his legs, head, neck all started to feel heavy and as though they didn’t belong to him. He moaned, the sound coming weak and thready from his lips as Shane smiled down at him.

‘Feels odd don’t it? Feels like you’re never gonna move again? Well maybe ya won’t. Maybe this is retribution for houndin’ me and spoilin’ my fun. No-one would’ve ever pinned that shit on me if you and your pretty pretty partner hadn’t come along. So, maybe when I’m finished with you I’ll go see what some blond ass is like huh? Huh cop? Wanna see what he’s got in store for him?’

Shane took hold of Starsky’s hair, a fistful in each hand and raised his head, the indigo eyes never leaving his face. Lewis had wanted to see fear in those eyes; the same fear that he’d seen in the eyes of the girls; the same fear that drove him on time after time. He’d found the drug – a derivative of those used in lethal injections by some states. It worked quickly and effectively and it’s only disadvantage was that it usually paralysed their vocal chords too so that they couldn’t scream. And he missed that. He missed having their voices pleading in his ears. But beggars couldn’t be choosers, so he worked with what he had at his disposal. Now, however, as he looked into Starsky’s eyes, he saw not fear, but rage and defiance. The cop wasn’t scared of him! Starsky was angry, but showed no fear!

Rage ran through Lewis’ veins and he tugged Starsky’s hair, lifting the man’s head and smashing it down onto the headboard at the top of the bed, in a parody of the time the detective had smashed Shane’s head into the floor that day. Starsky’s breath whistled through his teeth and a low groan escaped his useless lips, but it was enough to fuel Shane’s bloodlust further.

Seeing the satisfying smear of blood down the headboard, Lewis took hold of Starsky’s limp right arm and with incredible speed, flipped the smaller man over until he was lying on his belly. The brunet felt vulnerable this way up but try as he might he couldn’t get his useless muscles to obey him enough to right himself. The panic however, threatened to overwhelm him as he felt Shane’s hands on his back, stroking down the ridge of his spine and massaging his shoulders and sides, the flakes fingers digging into his tense muscles and kneading at them harshly. He closed his eyes, trying to shut out the invasion, but slowly and surely the hands were working lower and lower so that now he could feel them at the elastic waistband of his pyjama pants.

He tried to shout out NO and to kick out as he felt the material lowered so that the pants worked down first round his hips and then came off completely as Shane threw them to one side and took his first look at the naked body spread out in front of him.

Starsky’s olive toned skin was slightly lighter where his butt was habitually covered by his jeans or swim suit. It was almost like an arrow pointing down to that tempting crack and the delights it concealed. Shane ran his fingers down the crack now, noticing with glee that despite the drug in his victim’s system the skin could still quiver with indignation at the touch.

Inside Starsky’s head he screamed time and again. Screamed for Hutch to come get him. Screamed for Huggy to ring and interrupt. Screamed for Molly to come back and save him. The hands moved on and he could feel them now, parting his cheeks as Shane took a first good look at his target. And despite every titanic effort that the brunet made, he was unable to move a millimetre as he felt the first finger invade his core.

Shane sighed deeply as he drilled into his victim. This was so unlike his experiences with the girls. Then they’d been outside, or in his car and he’d been scared someone would come and stop him. This was different. This time he could take his time, secure in the knowledge that no-one was due to the house for several hours and at the end of the night, he could kill the cop and make his getaway before his partner came for him at precisely 8:00am. That was the good thing about the blond. He was always so punctual!

Replacing one finger with two, he felt a slight answering quiver from the brunet’s muscles as they responded to the unfamiliar invasion. He took out his knife with his other hand and bared the blade. He needed to see blood. Blood made him stronger. The girls had all bled for him. Now it was the cop’s turn. There wasn’t enough blood from the cut in those curls. He needed more.

Starsky felt a movement behind him, then more fingers being pressed into his body, pushing and widening his opening and then another hot pain that started at his shoulder and made its way down his back, followed by another and another. At first he couldn’t place it, until he felt a warm wetness and Shane’s tongue on his bare back. A silver blade dropped into sight by his face. Oh my God! The sucker had cut him and was licking his blood! The salty saliva made the wounds sting and another groan was ripped from him, spurring his attacker on.

The sound from his victim and the sight of the blood welling up from the five cuts he’d made on the full length of that wonderfully muscular back drove Shane into a frenzy. Quickly he stood and unzipped his jeans and then knelt on the bed over Starsky’s inert body. He pulled the brunet up bodily and jammed pillows under his hips and then, with his target clearly in sight, he parted the butt cheeks with one hand and dipped his own body down, savagely entered the tight tunnel, groaning himself as he felt the ring of muscles at the brunet’s entrance cracking with the strain. The heated flesh finally parted for him and the deliciously warm membranes wrapped him in a sheath of pure pleasure.

Inflamed now by the body beneath him and his power over it, he withdrew slowly then picked up his speed until he slammed into the brunet again and again, feeling the wonderful tightness unlike anything he’d felt with the girls. He could even handle not seeing the fright in his victim’s eyes. This was it. This was what he’d been longing for. Control over the cop that had stopped his fun. And the more he thought about that, the more he drove himself into the sweat soaked body with the power of a freight train.

Beneath him, Starsky thought he’d never felt anything so painful in his life. It felt as though an enormous red hot skewer was being forced up inside him and coupled with the horror of the situation, his mind went into overload. In his head, he continued to scream for someone to come; for this to stop; for him to wake up from this nightmare. And them he felt Shane climax and molten fluid filled his guts so that he wanted to vomit there and then.

Shane’s body shuddered above him and he heard a guttural cry of release before the weight on his back shifted and Lewis’ body collapsed beside him on the bed, a sheen of sweat on his face and a smile stretching his lips. He heard his attacker’s breath slow and then he felt hands carding through his hair as Shane leaned forward and whispered into his ear.

‘Did anyone ever tell you you’re a great fuck? We’re gonna have to do that again before morning’.

Chapter 8 and I should probably clarify at this point. This is NOT a deathfic.

Starsky heard the sound of a zipper being moved and the mattress dipped as Shane got up off the bed. The brunet heard the man moving about, his feet shuffling on his wooden floor and it took him a moment to realise that the man was in fact tidying his bedroom! He disappeared for a moment and then there was the familiar tang of bleach in the air as Lewis walked back into the room with the bottle and a clean rag. He set about cleaning each and every surface in the bedroom, coming in and out of Starsky’s line of sight and finally turned his attention back to the brunet. He whistled tunelessly as he worked, wiping down the bedside cabinet, the telephone, the lamp, the head of the bed. And there he worked a little harder as he rubbed at the blood trail left by the brunet’s head as it connected. Shane tutted at the recalcitrant stain and Starsky could feel the shakes reverberating on the mattress as Shane worked hard at rubbing the blood away. After that came the door handles, the chest of drawers and even the glass that the cop had brought to bed with him. Nothing was left out and finally Shane stood back to admire his handiwork.

Starsky’s mind had begun to shut down from the horror of the situation. Mostly the cop wanted to pass out and remember nothing more of his encounter with Shane Lewis. But he was also scared of what the madman would do to him if he was unconscious. So he fought to remain awake and as time progressed he felt some life returning to his limbs. Nothing that would help him overly much, but he could at least begin to twitch his fingertips and blink his eyes. Small things, but they bolstered the brunet’s confidence and quelled a little of the panic and anguish that had settled like a physical being in his chest and stomach.

However long later Starsky didn’t know, for the passage of time seemed distorted somehow, Shane came back to the bed and once again, the curly haired cop’s skin flinched as he felt the man’s hands touching him on his flanks and back and between his legs as Shane leaned low over him. There was a sudden wet coldness on the centre of his body and he realised that the flake had gotten a washcloth from his bathroom and was washing the residue of his sex from Starsky’s skin. Sickeningly, the washcloth too smelled of bleach and as Shane worked higher, Starsky could feel the burn of the murderous stuff biting into the fresh wounds on his back. He breathed deep, trying to control his feelings of pain and anguish as the knowledge that this was not yet over hit home.

He felt Lewis put down the cloth. ‘Ready for an encore?’ Shane asked him, as if he had any choice in the matter. ‘I know I am. Such a fine body! I bet ya work out don’t’cha? Bet ya flex up your muscles an’ spar with that pretty partner of yours. D’ya think he’s gonna enjoy what you’ve had? D’ya think I should give him less drug? Maybe tie him an’ let him scream. D’ya think he’d plead with me to stop?’ Shane licked up the side of Starsky’s neck and the cop closed his eyes, still unable to flinch away from the sickening touch.

He gathered all his strength and tried to get his numb lips to form words.


‘Wow. I’m impressed Dave. Most of the girls never got their faculties back. You’re strong. So much stronger than they were. Makes it more exciting. Maybe I should wait a bit longer till you’ve got more of your senses back? I’m gonna enjoy myself even more’.

‘Fffffuck…..you’ Starsky managed to pant out as he felt Shane move behind him again.

‘No Dave. Fuck you. Jeez I’d love to have you struggle, maybe moan for a while. But I can’t wait. Time’s a’pressin’ as they say an’ I don’t want Hutchy to be interuptin’ us’.

The man’s hands were on his back again, pulling at the knife cuts. Lewis seemed intent on pulling the margins of the wounds open again to make them bleed more and the sting of the cuts and the burn of the diluted bleach on them turned to out and out pain as he continued. But now the pain was working to Starsky’s advantage and making his head clearer by the moment. Although he was still unable to move much of his body, somehow being able to think more clearly made him feel more in control and the panic he felt was slowly being replaced by clean, wholesome anger as once again the hands dipped lower, over his ass and legs.

This time the brunet knew what was coming and could brace himself for the feeling of horror and helplessness as Shane once more took him and used his body. Starsky buried his face in the fur throw on his bed and moaned his despair into it as his finger tips clawed at the fabric. This second assault was almost more painful than the first as Shane forced himself past the bruised muscle and abraded, torn skin. Shane seemed intent on taking his time and enjoying every moment of the rape this time and Starsky felt each and every stroke and thrust as his body and mind rebelled. He felt the centre of his body being cleaved in two, as though Lewis would drill right the way through to his head and the pains came thick and fast until he thought he wouldn’t be able to bear any more. It was not only the pain, but the knowledge that he’d never again be able to forget the feelings and as his assailant reached his climax and dug his fingers into the bunched muscles of the brunet’s back, Starsky couldn’t hold back the weak moan that was forced from him. He heard Shane’s roar of satisfaction as the man above him threw back his head in ecstasy and the bile rose in his throat.

Once again satiated, Shane collapsed sideways to land by the side of his victim, his face red with exertion and wet with sweat. He chuckled maniacally.

‘Hell, you’re good. So much better than the girls. I almost wish I didn’t have to waste ya, but I escaped the law once coz no-one could ID me. You’ve seen too much. I don’t want ya going squealin’ to that partner of yours. I still got his delights to come. Think on that Dave. While your body’s lying on some mortuary slab, I’m gonna be samplin’ what blondie has to offer’.

‘Utch’ll…..kill ya’ Starsky managed to grunt into Shane’s face as the man leered at him.

Shane’s hand slapped down hard on the brunet’s cheek, splitting his lip and leaving a white handprint on the olive toned skin. ‘Shuddup. You can be real annoyin’, ya know that? What d’ya have to try an’ spoil it for? He’s gonna plead with me for more before I finish him. He’s gonna….Aww hell. Why’m I explainin’ this to you? Time for you to go bye bye anyways’.

Very slowly Shane got up from the bed and started to get himself dressed. He looked around the room making sure that all was clean and tidy. Seeing the brunet’s Adidas under the chair, he stooped down and fastidiously straightened them so that they lay precisely one inch apart. He stood back to check and seemed pleased with the arrangement. Straightening his own clothes he looked at the clock on the bedside table. It read 5:54. More than enough time for him to kill the cop and be out of the way before the blond one arrived.

In the mean time, Starsky was testing out his limbs. If he concentrated hard, he thought he may be able to move his arm a little and experimentally he tried to lift his head. It raised from the mattress and he felt a surge of triumph. Gathering all his energy, Starsky made a superhuman effort and rolled over onto his side as he saw Shane coming back towards him.

As his assailant approached, the brunet bent his leg and planted his foot into Shane’s stomach. It wasn’t so much a kick as a push, but it took the big man by surprise and he staggered backwards, knocking over the chair that stood at the back of the room. He righted the furniture and grinned.

‘Full o’ fight aren’t we? God, I wish I could take ya with me! But that’s impossible. At least now I can watch as the light goes out of your eyes’.

He descended on the panting brunet again and Starsky watched almost helplessly as Shane’s hands moved inexorably towards his neck. He managed to raise his arms and took hold of Lewis’ hands, but although he could move a little now, he had no strength in his limbs and he could only follow Shane’s movements as the man’s hands closed around his throat.

Watery blue eyes bored down into his soul as Shane started to increase the pressure around Starsky’s neck. Defiant indigo blue stared back up at him. If he was to go, he wouldn’t go easy!

Starsky felt the pressure on his neck begin to build. It was intense, the feeling of the blood pounding in his head as he stared up at Shane, challenging the man to finish what he’d started. He didn’t want to die, but at the same time, he didn’t think he could live with the memory of his violation and some part of him saw poetic justice in his murderer having to remember his eyes, open right until the end, and staring accusingly.

His vision was beginning to falter now, narrowing until he seemed to be looking down a long tunnel at Shane’s florid, insane face. And still his hands clawed at Shane’s arms, his human nature refusing to give up on the impossible position. Fighting for life until the bitter end.

Was this really it? The bitter end? As the hands closed ever tighter, cutting of his oxygen and sparkles started to flash behind his eyes, Starsky’s last thoughts were of his partner. He hoped Hutch would nail Shane Lewis. He hoped the blond would chase him down and finally persuade the DA to throw the book at him. He wished he could have spent more time with his buddy. He wished he could have said a proper goodbye to the blond with whom he’d shared good times and bad times, but always by each others sides. He’d always thought fancifully that they’d die together. Now, he felt an unimaginable twinge of loneliness. He was going into the ultimate assignment alone, no big blond blitz to watch his back now that he faced death.


What do you want to do about it?
’Missing Persons?’
‘You mean 'missing officer'.
‘No, I mean missing partner’


10-4s, 40 zebras. What are you talking...two-headed antelopes? What are we, a zoo?


You’re my pal Hutch’

The world wobbled as Starsky took a final look around it, and as blackness started to enfold the brunet in its velvety grasp, another sound interrupted the moment. There was a brief knock on the front door and then it opened as Shane looked up in alarm. What the hell was happening? He took a brief look at the clock. 6:00am? The blond wasn’t due for another 2 hours! What was going on?

Lewis looked down at the blue tinged face on the sheet below him. Starsky was dead. There was no doubt in his mind. He’d accomplished his task and now he needed to get away.

Casting around quickly, he saw the window in the corner of the brunet’s bedroom. Taking up the hard wooden chair, he threw it with all his strength against the glass of the bedroom window and as it shattered into a million pieces, he launched himself through it, just as Hutch shouted out Starsky’s name and opened the bedroom door.

The blond cop saw a flash of something disappearing through the smashed window and drew his gun. Ducking back outside, he looked both ways down the tree lined street, trying to see who or what had been in his buddy’s bedroom, but finding no-one. Holstering his weapon and taking the steps up to the apartment three at a time, he ran back into the bedroom and stared in horror at the blue tinged skin and lifeless face of his partner.

Chapter 9

Hutch flew to Starsky’s side, all thoughts of intruders gone as he checked over the limp body in front of him. He put his hand on his partner’s chest above his heart and felt a weak, stuttering beat beneath his questing fingers. Bending, he replaced hand with head as he listened for any breath sounds, his eyes closed in concentration.


Swiftly, Hutch put his hand underneath his partner's neck and tipped the head back as far as it would go, straightening out the airway so that he could gain good access. Pinching off the brunet’s nose, he took a deep breath and sealed his lips over the blue tinged mouth as he breathed his own life force into his friend’s body. He repeated the action three times then stopped and checked to see if there was any change in the brunet’s status. Starsky still lay, limp and cold beneath him. He rubbed one hand over Starsky’s chest and with the other carded the matted sable curls.

‘Starsk. Starsky. C’mon buddy, I need you to help me out here’ he urged, then bent to breathe three more times into his buddy’s body, willing life back into his brother.

‘C’mon Starsk. Please….c’mon. Breathe huh? Starsky? Oh shit don't do this to me’.

Another three breaths and Hutch was beginning to feel dizzy, the world around him blurring until all he saw and felt was the bed and the unconscious body of his partner laid upon it as though on a slab at the morgue. He sobbed once.

It’s always hardest on the ones left behind’ God he hoped he wouldn’t have to put that to the test.

He shook the limp form gently, willing the eyes to open. ‘Don’t do this Starsk. Don’t you leave me like this. Breathe dammit. Make some fuckin’ effort here! STARSKY!’ he checked again and placed his mouth one more time over the cop’s mouth, breathing not only breath, but life into his buddy. He concentrated on that thought. This was life, not just air. This was Starsky, not just some stranger. He wouldn’t…..no, he couldn’t let his partner die!

He bent over that olive toned face again and brushed his hand through the riot of curls, his fingers coming out blood stained and sticky. He stared at the dark red mess as though seeing blood for the first time.

‘Starsky….please don’t leave me’ he whispered. ‘Please don’t leave me like this….c’mon buddy. Breathe? I'm not gonna let it end here. I'm not lettin' you go, hear me? Do ya?’

He checked again, his hand trembling with emotion, scared that he would be unable to stop his friend sinking down further into death. The brunet looked so vulnerable and young led on his back on the white sheets and fur throw of the bed, his hands flung out wide as though inviting his partner into an embrace. He bent low, putting the side of his face against Starsky’s mouth, feeling for any breath ... and there it was! For a moment, Hutch was unsure whether he’d imagined it or not - the unsteady, flickering breeze against his skin. And yet. There it was again.

He sat back on his heels and looked down at his partner, watching the satisfying rise and fall of the lightly furred chest as his own chest filled to the brim with emotion. He placed his hands on Starsky’s arm, sliding down until he could grasp the cold hand in his own and let out a shaky breath.

‘Don’t do that to me buddy. I’ll be grey before my time!’

Relaxing a little now that Starsky was breathing on his own, Hutch managed to look around him. The bedroom was clean and orderly, just as it always was when Starsky was at home. His partner wasn’t exactly a neat freak, but his years in the army had taught him to be clean and tidy and it came as second nature. Only the smashed window glass spoiled the orderliness and the cool, early morning breeze blew in through the open window and ruffled the curtains. The breeze also got rid of the sinus watering smell of bleach that pervaded the room and set Hutch’s nerves on edge.

He grunted as he realised his hands were still covered in blood and very gently, he managed to roll Starsky over onto his side so that he could check out his head. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the blood stains on the sheets the brunet had laid on and he winced as he saw the huge clean edged wounds snaking down the muscular back from neck to buttocks.

Easing the curly haired man back down onto his back, he realised that blood wasn’t the only fluid staining the sheets and suddenly his blood ran cold. No! He wouldn’t! Shane fuckin’ Lewis! The blood boiled in his veins as he wondered what treatment the brunet had suffered, and how many times he’d suffered it. He ran his finger over his lower lip, wondering what to do now for the best. His ruminations were interrupted by a low, hoarse moan from the bed.

Looking back at his partner, he saw the eyelids fluttering and very slowly, Starsky opened his eyes and looked around, unsure, unfocussed and yes, afraid.

‘Hey buddy. How’re ya doin?’ he asked, brushing a curl from the smaller man’s forehead. He tried to keep his voice steady and light, but it cracked with emotion and he turned away for a moment until he could get control.


‘Ssh. Don’t try to talk buddy. I need to ring for the ambulance. You really do know how to play Camille huh? Just lay there and rest while I call this in’.


A deep V appeared in the blond’s forehead. ‘I gotta do it Starsk. You’re hurt. I gotta get ya to the hospital.

Starsky forced his arm up and it landed, uncoordinated on Hutch’s knee. ‘No…hospital….please’. The indigo eyes closed as Starsky thought about all the explaining, the comments, the tests that he’d be faced with. It was too much and he knew he couldn’t handle that right now.

‘Do you know who did this?’ Hutch asked softly, but from the smell of the bleach, he almost knew the answer without asking.


‘Aww Jeez, Starsk. He hurt you buddy. You can hardly move!’

‘Drugged…..Utsch…..he…..’ Starsky’s eyes closed again. He couldn’t bring himself to use the word; couldn’t face the horror and sympathy he knew would be held in the crystal blue eyes above him.

‘Ssh…I know buddy. I know what he did. And that makes it even more important we get you to the hospital. He’s hurt you buddy and we need to get you cleaned up and mended’.

Starsky’s chest rose and fell more quickly and Hutch realised that his partner was crying, tears coursing down his face as he turned his head away from the blond.

‘C couldn’t sstop him. Hurtsss Hutch…..hurtsss’.

Without another thought, the big blond reached down to scoop Starsky up into his arms, offering comfort as they had always done. It had never mattered to them that some might find it strange that one grown man would cuddle another to give support and ease stress. They had just done it anyway. It came naturally to them and there was nothing else other than friendship in the gesture. But now, Starsky saw the move and put his hand up, pushing the blond away. The thought of anyone touching him right then was more than he could bear and he shuffled away from Hutch’s body, distancing himself in space as well as in his head.

Hutch felt as though he’d been slapped, his hands falling away to lay useless in his lap.That bastard Shane Lewis! He couldn’t think of anything bad enough to say about the man and he vowed right there and then that he’d hunt him down and make him pay if it was the last thing he ever did.

Without trying to touch his partner, Hutch leaned over, allowing a small distance between them. ‘Starsk, I need to call this in. And I need to get you to the hospital. There’s nothing else for it buddy. He committed a crime and as soon as we can get the evidence together he’s gonna pay. But I can’t do nothing till we get forensics in here and get you taken care of.

‘Not…. Evidence’.

Hutch heard the muttered words and leaned further over. ‘What? Say again’.

Starsky rolled over and looked at his partner. ‘I’m…not evidence’ he mumbled. ‘Wanna…..oh shit!’

‘I know Starsk. But the sooner we get ya there, the sooner we can get this over with huh? You’re bleeding partner and you’re hurt. You need medical attention and this time there aint no-one else we can call on to give it to ya. We have to call in Bob and the boys. Get forensics going over the place and make sure we do it right’.

Starsky sighed. He knew he had to go through all the tests and the medical examinations. He knew what he needed to do, because he’d stood by and watched as countless women had had it done to them. And he’d been there, ready with his platitudes and his murmured words that meant zip. He’d never understood exactly what they were going through till now. He was far from being uncaring. But if he allowed himself to become personally involved in every rape case that he and Hutch dealt with, he knew he’d go insane. And so he went through the motions; said all the right things. Then at night went back to his house and ate pizza and drank beer and slept well in his bed.

Now he knew first hand how having someone use his body against his will made him feel; how it made those women feel.; how they were not only a victim of the rapist, but also of the procedures that followed. It was a whole set of violations, not just one, as each successive “professional” examined another part of him for evidence. Would they treat him like he’d treated other victims? Would they go back to their families and forget he existed until the next working day? Of course they would because this was their job. He’d descended from human being, to victim, to crime number in three easy steps and now, at his most vulnerable, he was having to surrender his body once more to a host of unknown hands that would poke and prod at him. And for what? Just so that some faceless lawyer could once again earn a fat check and get Lewis off? And yet there was no other way because his partner would never allow him to let this drop, even though all he wanted to do at that moment was to shrivel up and die.

Miserably he closed his eyes. ‘K. Just do it’ he muttered.

He felt Hutch leave the bed and heard the blond punching the numbers into the phone.

‘Yeah, this is Detective Ken Hutchinson of Bay City PD. Can you get me Harold Dobey please?’

There was a moment’s pause and then….

‘Cap’n. Yeah, Hutch. Cap’n that fuckin flake Lewis has struck again. No, not a murder - rape, the victim is still alive, but it was touch and go for a few minutes. Its um…’ Hutch looked back at the bed at his partner who was weakly trying to cover his nakedness with the blood stained sheet. His weakened limbs shook as he fought with the white cover and Hutch stooped, pulling the sheet over the brunet’s middle as Starsky shrank from his touch again and closed his eyes. He heaved a deep breath. ‘It’s Starsky. Starsky’s the victim…..’

Chapter 10

Within a half an hour, the small apartment at 2000 Ridgeway was alive with black and whites, an ambulance, the forensics truck and Dobey’s dark blue Caddy. In the time they’d had to wait, Hutch was at a loss as to how to deal with his injured partner. Always in the past when one of them had been injured, they’d clung to the other for comfort to the point where Memorial Hospital had, on more than one occasion, put an extra bed in the hospital room so that the injured party would rest and take it easy while the other partner was there.

Now however, Hutch was at a loss. After he’d put the phone down from speaking to Dobey he went back to the bed to sit with his partner, but Starsky had turned away from him, his face to the wall as he curled up in a foetal position. He’d managed to cover the centre of his body with the blood stained sheet, but the angry red wounds on his back were still clearly visibly, some still oozing blood that slowly coursed its way down the olive toned, muscular skin to soak into the white cotton of the bed clothes.

‘Starsk, are you ok buddy?’ Hutch asked softly. He knew it was a stupid thing to ask. How ok could someone who’d been beaten and raped be? But he couldn’t think of anything else to ask or anything else to say to break the ice between them.

‘No’ a faltering voice said from the depths of the fur throw.

‘What can I do for you?’


Hutch sighed. He knew better than to start cleaning bed linen. Each and every item of cloth in the room would have to be catalogued, bagged and taken away for forensic examination, but he wanted to do something; wanted to move; wanted to somehow make this all better.

Softly he got up from the bed and went into the brunet’s bathroom. He got a bowlful of water and a soft wash cloth and headed back to the bedroom. Starsky hadn’t moved and didn’t look up as the blond reappeared. Hutch put the bowl of water down on the floor by the bed, wetted the cloth and started to dab at the long, red wounds. The brunet stiffened and Hutch could see the muscles bunching in his back. He thought he may be hurting, but was unprepared for the reaction he got.

‘Don’t touch me’. The voice was clearer and stronger now and the blond heard it clearly. He stopped immediately.

‘You need cleaning up buddy. You’re still bleeding’.

‘I said don’t touch me. Please Hutch. I can’t……just don’t’.

The troubled cop dropped the cloth into the water and sat back, at a loss. ‘I don’t know what to do for you’ he said softly. ‘I’m sorry Starsk. I’m so sorry, but I’m gonna get Lewis and nail him if it’s the last thing I do’.

That got a reaction and slowly, his limbs more coordinated by the minute, the curly haired man rolled over and studied his friend. ‘Be careful….Utch. Watch…..yourself. He….’ Starsky was stopped from saying anything further by the sound of sirens blaring ever closer. Within 2 minutes, the first men had appeared with Dobey at their head.

The big black man made for the bedroom right away and stood in the doorway with a look of sympathy, anger and frustration on his face. Hutch reached out to pat Starsky’s arm – a familiar gesture he’d used thousands of times before, but stopped at the last minute when he saw the slight tensing of arm muscles. He dropped his hand and got up.

‘Won’t be a minute Starsk. Hang in there’.

Hutch motioned Dobey to go with him into the living room. He closed the bedroom door, barring the way for anyone else to get through. ‘He’s bad Cap’n. That flake had him for most of the night from what I can make out’.

‘Did he hurt him?’ Dobey asked.

‘Yeah, he’s cut up pretty bad and he’s bleeding from…. Oh Jeez Cap’n. He’s a cop! This doesn’t happen to cops. We’re supposed to get the bad guys not let the bad guys get us’.

‘Well we’re gonna get this bastard, but we need to do this right. By the book. I want every T crossed an’ every I dotted. There’s no way that Lewis is gonna get away with this a second time. I need to see Starsky now’.

Hutch put a hand out. ‘Be careful huh? He’s hurtin’ and it’s not just from the cuts. I’ve never seen him like this. He’s….he won’t let me in; won’t let me be there’. There was a helplessness in those crystal blue eyes that tore at the big black man’s heart. His two men were always so close that anything like this was sure to affect Hutch badly and almost as much as Starsky. He nodded curtly. ‘I know’.

As Dobey went back into the bedroom, other men started to appear. Hutch nodded to Jarvis and Turner, two cops who’d joined the force shortly after him and his partner. While they’d gone on to make detective, Jarvis and his partner were more than happy to remain in uniform. They smiled as they walked in. ‘We’re sorry to hear about Starsky. Is he bad?’

‘Yeah. An’ then some. I’m glad it’s you two. I couldn’t handle some of the younger ones taking this. I feel so fuckin’ useless’ Hutch said. He sat down heavily on the sofa and put his head in his hands as the forensics guys appeared at the door. Turner told them to hang on a moment and bent down till he could talk to Hutch eye to eye.

‘Um, there’s something I think you might need to deal with’ he said gently. ‘Unless you want us to do it for ya’.

The blond looked up wearily. ‘What?’

‘The usual chasers are outside. They’ve stated gathering. They don’t know details, but they know something’s gone down with a cop’ Turner explained.

Hutch’s jaw muscles worked overtime. He hated the press. He hated what they represented and what they did, and the chasers that Turner had referred to were the cameramen and reporters who habitually chased the forensics cars and coroners wagons around the city looking for that early break on a lead story. So, worse than being the victim of this unthinkable crime, Starsky’s case was going to be plastered all over the Bay City Herald and every other two bit paper in the town.

With something now to direct his anger at, the blond stood up. ‘Thanks Jack, I’ll deal with ‘em’ he said as he made his way to the door. Outside were gathered a small group of the usual hacks, pen and paper in hand and cameras resting on shoulders. He recognised one or two of the faces from other high profile cases he’d been on, but there was even someone there from Bay City TV. The woman had put on her lipstick and combed her hair and as the blond appeared she turned to the camera.

‘Well known Bay City cop David Starsky, 29, was this morning found by his work partner Detective Ken Hutchinson inside his apartment on the east side of town. Detective Starsky is believed to have been assaulted although details have not as yet been released. And here is Detective Hutchinson now. Detective? How is your partner?’ the reporter asked.

Hutch put his hand over the camera lens and forced it around until it was pointing away from him. ‘Lady, I don’t know what drives you on to follow misery and suffering around this city, but what has happened to my partner is his and my affair only. He isn’t one of your lurid stories. He aint a statistic, he’s a guy who’s having to deal with a major trauma and he’ll do it with me by his side. Got that?’

‘But the public have a right to know’ she persisted.

‘The public have a right to know shit! And if you don’t get the hell away from him, you’re gonna get more than a fist in your camera lens’ Hutch spat out as he pushed her away. He looked up at all the rest of the reporters who’d gathered around looking for a scoop. ‘That goes for all of ya. Get the hell away and leave him alone huh? Please? There may come a time when you can help, but till then just give him some space huh?’

The faceless reporters stared back at him as though he’d spoken to them in fluent Swahili and stayed put. Hutch bit back his anger. Now wasn’t the time. He needed to nurture that anger because it was that which was going to keep him focussed on the job. And he swore to himself that this was going to be the most professional, well put together case that Bay City had ever seen.

Hutch went back inside and saw that the door to the bedroom was open. He walked in to find Dobey standing by the side of the bed as the forensics guys examined the smashed window pane. One was dusting aluminium powder on the back of the chair; another was going over the surface of the nightstand. And in the middle of the activity, Starsky lay, curled round and covered by a single, bloody sheet, unspeaking and unmoving, locked in his own nightmare world. Hutch walked over to the bed and sat down quietly.

‘How’re ya doin’ buddy? Don’t worry. We got everythin’ under control. Just rest and let us take care of everything huh? The ambulance is here now. They’re going to take you to the hospital’.

There was no response from the brunet and Hutch ran his fingers through his flaxen hair. It felt strange beyond words that he should be in the middle of a crime scene with his partner without the brunet whizzing round like a dervish, prying into drawers, giving orders and generally running the affair. He felt alone – more alone than he’d ever remembered feeling before and ordinarily he’d have rested his hand on Starsky’s shoulder and sought comfort there. But right now that wasn’t an option. It was the brunet who needed comfort and Hutch didn’t know how to give it without crowding his friend. He nodded at the two paramedics who came into the room bearing a stretcher and a bag. They made straight for their patient and appraised him.

There was a man and a woman and the man bent down, hovering over the brunet so that he could talk to him.

‘Hi, I’m John. An’ who are….’ He was stunned as Starsky’s whole body stiffened and a small moan escaped his throat. The medic stepped away and looked around. ‘Someone care to tell me what’s happened here?’ he asked.

‘My officer as attacked during the night. He was ra…sexually assaulted and beaten’ Dobey explained quietly, seeing the look of pain on Hutch’s face as he’d almost used the dreaded word “rape”.

The paramedic nodded. ‘OK. Lizzy, wanna give it a try? He asked his partner. The young woman stepped forward and gently approached the bed. Calmly she reached out and put a firm hand on Starsky’s shoulder.

‘Hey honey. I’m Liz. Can you tell me your name?’ she asked softly.

The brunet looked up at her, blinking his eyes as he emerged from the dark nest of blankets. ‘Dave’ he said with a small sigh.

‘Ok Hi Dave. Will you let me have a look at you? See what we’re dealing with here?’ she asked.

Starsky sighed. ‘Do what ya want’ he said and lay stock still as she started to examine the blood matted curls at the back of his head. He hitched a breath as she probed a little too hard at the lump that had formed and she stopped immediately. ‘That hurt?’

‘Uh huh’.

‘Do you feel sick? Dizzy? Have you any double vision?’

‘Sick yeah, dizzy yeah, but…. gave me …. shot’.

‘OK can you tell me what sort of shot hon?’ Mo pressed.

‘Couldn’t talk…..could feel. I…..’ the voice tailed off and once again Starsky’s eyes closed and he buried his head in the bedclothes.

‘Ok, honey. I got ya. Just stay still and let me look at your back. OK, I bet those sting, huh?’ she received no reply, but kept up her low, steady conversation anyway. ‘I’m gonna put this needle in your arm and give you something to make you feel more comfortable and then I’m gonna get something to cover those cuts with. We can make you a bit more comfortable and then we’re gonna take you down to the hospital. Ok? Is there someone you want to come with you? A partner…friend?’

Hutch braced himself, unsure whether Starsky would want him there or not. Ordinarily wild horses wouldn’t keep him away, but now, with the brunet being so vulnerable he didn’t know what to expect. There was silence for a split second before Starsky rolled over a little way and looked directly at Hutch for the first time since the blond had got to his house.

‘Utch? Will ya come with me?’

‘Course I will buddy. You had to ask?’

‘I just….I need…..Just be there huh?’

The blond smiled. ‘Sure thing. Here, lemme help get you up’ he put his hand out to help, but retracted it quickly as Starsky ignored it. He may want Hutch’s comforting presence around, but as for touching? That was, as yet, a step too far. As Lizzy and her partner got Starsky onto the gurney and covered him, Hutch walked by his side, ready to fend off the reporters who were still waiting outside

Chapter 11

Starsky remained quiet in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He’d hidden his head under the blanket as the reporters outside his apartment had surged forward for a shot and had hissed, just once, as the gurney was jostled and disturbed the cuts in his back. But then he heard Hutch’s voice yelling at them to back off and there was a shudder as the gurney was loaded into the vehicle. His mind was working its way round in ever decreasing circles, asking questions to which there were very few if any answers. The main one, the question at the forefront of his mind was “Why me?” the question every rape victim since the beginning of time had asked. And the question that had no logical answer. Sure, he could argue that this was retribution for bringing Lewis in on the other murder and rape raps, but what made little sense to the brunet was that so far Shane had only targeted women. So why him? And why now?

As he lay on the gurney, his back stung with every pothole the ambulance ran over and ever corner it turned. Although the sirens weren’t on, the driver wanted to get to the hospital as quickly as he could – maybe the end of his shift was approaching – who knew? Starsky felt sick from the after effects of the drug, although he’d gotten almost all the use back in his limbs and his head hurt. He’d lied about the double vision. When he opened his eyes wide, he saw two of almost everything although the world wavered before his eyes like one of those special effects on TV. So he kept them closed and tried to pretend that the world wasn’t really there and that this wasn’t happening to him. But worst of all was that the brunet had pain in the centre of his body. He felt as though he was sitting on a skewer and the pains reminded him of what had been done to him, as if he could ever forget.

But the most disturbing pain was in his head. Not a physical pain, but the pain that rips one friend from another. He knew Hutch was hurting almost as much as he was. And he knew that the blond needed him to say that he was fine and that everything was alright. Most of the times when he’d been injured he could say that. He’d open his eyes and lock them on the cool crystalline eyes above him and disappear, losing himself in their calming depths and he’d hold onto Hutch and will himself to be ok. Because for the most part, when Hutch was there he felt fine and he could handle just about any amount of pain.

But this time it was different. This time, after Lewis’ hands on his body, smoothing, stroking, invading, he couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else touching him. Not even the big blond. Of course he knew Hutch wouldn’t do anything to hurt him. In fact he was convinced that Hutch would do everything in his power to make this totally shit period as bearable as possible. But just then, thoughts of anyone else touching him left him feeling even more unclean, if that was possible. The only thing he wanted to do right now was to wash, but he realised that would be impossible and he moaned to himself as he thought about what was yet to come. The blond heard the sound and reached forward instinctively to pull the blanket up higher round Starsky’s chin. The brunet saw the movement and tried not to react. This was Hutch. This was his friend; his partner; his protector. But still, the hand invaded his space and he hated it.

‘You ok buddy?’ Hutch asked, concern showing on his handsome golden face.

What the fuck do you think? Course I’m not ok. ‘Yeah. M’fine.

‘We’re nearly there. Do you want me to stay with you?’

No, I want to be on my own. I wanna get out of here and run. I want to tell everyone to go to hell and leave me alone. I want to turn the clock back and make sure this never happened. I want to be on my own, but I’m scared Hutch. I’m scared. I know I’m not helpin’ but even when I say I don’t want you around, ya know I really do!

‘Will ya?’

‘Sure thing buddy. Here, lemme help’.

The ambulance had stopped and the doors at the back opened onto a maelstrom of action. The news of the crime committed against a cop had spread and now there were more reporters at the hospital and as the paramedics pulled the gurney out and set it on its wheels, there was a general surge of people towards him, camera lights flashing and people shouting. Starsky threw his hands up, covering his face as Hutch waded into the thick of it, yelling at them to leave them alone and let the hospital do their job.

Quickly Starsky found himself being wheeled inside and into a small side room at the side of the ER. A doctor pushed the door open and walked in, closing it firmly behind him. Starsky had an irrational urge to leap off the gurney and hide, but he fought it, breathing deeply as the medic advanced on him.

‘Hi, I’m Doctor Wallace. And you’re?’

‘Starsky. Dave Starsky’.

‘Ok. Can I call you Dave? I need to make a quick examination and then the forensic guys will want to do their thing before we set about treating you. Is that ok? I’m sure you know more about these things than I do’.

‘Yeah sure…..’m an expert’ Starsky said wearily. He knew what the doctor had meant, but he felt nervy and jumpy. He wanted peace and quiet, but at the same time, he was scared of being alone. Because being alone meant he’d have time to think. And thinking would mean going over the trauma again and again in gloriou technicolour detail.

He braced himself as the doctor sat him forward, pulling away the big white dressing from the wounds on his back, so that he could assess them. ‘

‘Hmm. You’re going to need quite a few stitches in there I think. Now. Can you roll over onto your side for me? I just need to take a couple of swabs for um….examination’. It was said in such a matter of fact manner that the effect was like a pail of ice water being poured over the brunet’s body.

‘What?’ suddenly Starsky’s heart was hammering in his chest and his throat had gone dry. ‘No. you’re not doin’ nuthin. I can’t. I don’t want ya to….back off man’ Starsky yelled, sitting up on the gurney. He looked around left and right as though assessing a means of escape.

Wallace looked perplexed. ‘Detective, you of all people know we need samples of um…fluids’ he said reasonably as he snapped on a pair of rubber gloves. With an ER full of patients, this was just one more body to get through before the end of his shift

But Starsky was lost in himself. It was bad enough to be the victim of a rape. It was worse that it was a man on man rape. The memory of Shane licking up the side of his neck as his traitorous muscles refused to move set Starsky’s teeth on edge. But now to have to suffer another unknown man touching him there, poking him and delving into his most intimate places was too much for him to bear. This was almost like rape all over again and his body and mind rebelled.

‘NOOO get the fuck away from me…..leave me alone….I’ll kill ya, I’ll kill the fuckin’ lot of ya. Don’t come near me….don’t you come near me’ the terrified cop yelled as he backed further up the gurney, his hands holding tight to the silver rails.

Hutch stood at his side, trying to calm his partner down. ‘Ssh…c’mon Starsk, they’re only tryin’ to help. S’ok, I’m here. Not goin’ anywhere. I’m….ooof’ the wind was knocked from his body as Hutch was driven back by one of Starsky’s flailing hands.

‘He’s not touching me….let me go…..just get me outa here’ the brunet yelled, trying to get himself off the gurney.

The doctor had had enough and was shouting for security. This guy may be a cop, but there was no way he was going to risk his or his nurses safety on the berserk man. Two guards appeared at the door to the room and inflamed Starsky’s fears more. There were tears of frustration running openly down his face now as Hutch wrestled with him on the gurney, trying to calm him down without hurting him more. The guards advanced and took hold of an arm each, not unkindly, but still with a grip firm enough to keep the curly haired man from struggling.

‘NNOoooo, fuckers….no….don’t touch me’ Starsky yelled as the doctor loaded up a syringe and injected the contents into the port of the drip entering Starsky’s right arm. ‘Nooo, oh shit, don’t….noo…I..I…..don’t want….nooo. Huuuutch’. And as Wallace stood back, the drug started to work and the struggles calmed until the doctor nodded his thanks at the guards and they let go of their charge and left.

Hutch rushed to his partner’s side, running his hands over the curly hair as the brunet closed his eyes and sagged back against the pillow.

‘Sssh Starsk. I’m right here. Don’t struggle buddy, you’ll just make your back worse. That’s it, try ‘n’ relax. Good, easy…easy. That’s better’.

Cloudy indigo eyes opened tiredly and looked up into Hutch’s. ‘Utsch….m’sorry’ the brunet whispered miserably. ‘Sscared….hurts. didn’t mean t’hurt ya….don’t….’

‘Hey buddy. I’m right here. Not goin’ anywhere. Just try an’ sleep while the doctor does his stuff. Ok? That’s right…easy. I’ll be right here. I got your back partner….’

Starsky closed his eyes, feeling the comforting presence of the big blond. Why had he been scared of Hutch? Hutch wouldn’t let anyone do anything to him. Hutch was….Hutch didn’t stop Shane from….Ok don’t think, just sleep’.

Gradually, the sedative took effect and Starsky drifted into a dreamless half-sleep as Hutch stood by him, his hand firmly holding onto Starsky’s as the doctor and the forensics guys got to work.

Rolling the brunet over onto his side, Wallace peeled back the bloody sheet and deposited it into an evidence bag, which was immediately whisked away and labeled. He looked at the wounds on the cop’s back and took swabs from those, then probed the brunet’s anus with a cotton swab which was placed in a sealed test tube. After that, he stood aside as the forensics officers set about taking their samples.

Hutch couldn’t help but be glad that Starsky was asleep for this part of the proceedings as one of the men, treating the cop just like any other piece of meat, took samples of pubic hair, head hair and hairs from the brunet’s chest. The other man was busy taking scrapings from underneath Starsky’s nails before taking a swab from inside and round the outside of the brunet’s mouth for saliva samples.

By the time they’d finished, the short acting sedative was beginning to wear off and Starsky lay on the gurney, naked save for the sheet covering his middle and legs. As the last man packed his bags and departed, another appeared, camera in hand and looked apologetically at the groggy man.

‘Um….sorry Detective. I need to um….need to take some photos of your injuries. For the um….you know’.

Hutch bent over the gurney, searching Starsky’s eyes. ‘Are you up to this buddy? We get it over now, you won’t need to do it later’.

Starsky prized his eyes open. He’d been dimly aware of what was going on around him and felt stupid and embarrassed about his outburst. On one level he knew it was necessary if they were to put Shane Lewis behind bars, but his experience with the flake was new and raw and the examination had felt like one invasion too many. Now he was weary and felt dirty and cheap. He sighed.

‘Fine’ he said and allowed the blond to help him turn over onto his belly. He stayed stock still as the sheets were rearranged so that the camera man could get good shots of the long cuts down his back. The back of his head was also photographed, and then his face, showing the black eye, finger shaped bruises and split lip. Finally it was over and he lay back and closed his eyes. Thank God!

But what about his statement?

The doctor came back into the room. ‘We’ll be moving you up to a small room upstairs now. I can deal with your back up there – better than here. It’s more private’ he said quietly.

‘Doc…m’sorry’ Starsky mumbled, unable to meet the doctor’s eyes.

‘Don’t apologise Dave. Shock affects us all differently. I’ll see you up there’.

An orderly arrived and with Hutch in tow, they made their way through the busy ER and up in the elevator to the second floor. Within minutes, Starsky was ensconced in a small single bedded room with a view over a small park and lake at the back of the hospital. The orderly fussed over him hanging the drip bag and getting the brunet into the bed and finally left the two men alone.

As soon as he’d gone, Starsky wrapped the single sheet around his hips and got out of bed, standing unsteadily by the bedside as he reached for the drip bag and unhooked it.

‘Hey, where are ya racin’ off to’?’ Hutch asked him, at once by his side in case he toppled over.

‘Hutch I feel…. I need a shower. I can’t…..Just help me get to the bathroom huh?’

‘You can’t take a shower. Your back needs stitching. Aww c’mon Gordo, they’ll let you wash up after’.

The brunet leaned against his partner, feeling the strength of the big blond as Hutch held him up.

‘I don’t wannna wash. I want a shower. I want to wash every last memory of that punk’s hands off of me, an’ I can’t do that with a bowl of fuckin’ water. Are ya gonna help me or not?’

‘Could I stop ya?’

For the first time since Hutch had found him, Starsky managed a slight, lopsided grin. ‘Nope’.

‘Jeez Starsk! What’m I gonna do with ya? Are you sure? It’ll hurt like hell!’

‘It already hurts like hell. Just help me get in there and then leave. I’ll be fine’.

Hutch supported the unsteady brunet as they made their way into the small functional bathroom. As Starsky propped himself against the wall, Hutch hung the drip bag on a convenient hook and turned on the shower, testing the water.

‘You sure you don’t want me to stay and help ya?’ Hutch asked.

‘No…..there’s been too many people staring at my butt to last me a lifetime. I’ll be fine. Just….wait outside huh?’

Starsky waited until Hutch had gone from the room. Slowly he peeled the sheet from around him and staggered towards the shower. The first shock of the water made him cry out, the heat biting like whip lashes into the cuts on his back. He curled his toes up against the shower tray as his hands made fists against the pain. As he looked down, the water disappearing down the drain was tainted red with his blood and he watched fatalistically as it disappeared down the vortex above the drain. And slowly he took the soap and lathered his hands, reaching up as far as he could to scrub at his back and the centre of his body. He screamed once at the bite of the soap in his wounds then clamped his lips together. The pain was good. It cleansed him, washing away the dirty memories and he dug his nails into his flesh and rubbed and rubbed at the wounds until more blood appeared. And still he continued, his hands working feverishly at the skin over his body as though the memory of Shane’s hands on him could be washed away like so much grime. It hurt. It hurt so much that tears of pain flowed, but he kept on until he could bear it no more. Finally he had no strength left to make any more effort and stood with his hands braced against the wall, head hanging down as he let the water course over his shoulders and back. And then more tears came and mingled with the blood and the water and washed away with the rest.

The man he had been was no more. He’d never again be the same David Michael Starsky. Something had happened to him during the night with Shane. Something terrible had ripped his previous identity from him. He felt weak and powerless. A victim.

Too tired even to dry himself, he wound the sheet back around his waist, took hold of his drip bag and staggered back out into the small room, collapsing unconscious into Hutch’s waiting arms.

Chapter 12

There were voices muttering in his room and he wanted them to stop so that he could go back to sleep. It was Sunday wasn’t it? Was he off duty? He felt warm and comfortable and he rolled over to try and get back to sleep again. And it wasn’t until he moved, and the pains tore at him that he opened his eyes and saw the hospital room. And with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, he realised where he was and why he was there.

During the night he had vague memories of things happening to him, but they were like some weird technicolour dream now. He had some recollection of being rolled over onto his belly and cold, biting stings on the skin of his back. And then there had been a period of quiet and a sense that someone was bending over him. He remembered moaning softly and trying to raise his head. And then Hutch had been there, at the head of the bed, holding his hands still and talking low and soothing to him. And, as in every other instance when he’d been sick or injured, he’d locked his eyes on those crystal blues and let himself float away on the sound of the velvety voice as the doctor had put the seventy odd stitches into the wounds down his back.

At some point, he must have drifted into a deep sleep, because his only other recollections of the night had been of nurses coming and going, checking his vitals and hanging new bags from the drip stand. And at one point he thought he’d heard Dobey, but maybe that was just a bad dream. Oddly the one thing he didn’t dream about was Shane Lewis, or the events that had led to him being in hospital, but for that he was truly grateful.

He woke slowly now, unsurprised to see Hutch sitting in the chair by his bed. Always the same. It never varied. Opening his eyes and looking at the big blond presence each time he woke up in some hospital. But in all the other occasions, he’d been injured because he’d been shot, or poisoned or tortured. But this time, he felt different. This time he wasn’t the avenging cop back from saving some dire situation or other. This time he was the victim and the avenging cop was sitting by his side waiting for him to open his eyes and speak.

He liked dry lips. ‘Utch?’

The flaxen haired cop leaned forward tiredly. ‘Hi buddy. How’re ya doin?’


A moment later, Hutch dropped a sliver of an ice chip onto his tongue and Starsky led back, savouring the cold wetness. ‘S’good’.

‘Uh huh. You had a good sleep’.


‘I bet. Comes of entertainin’ all night Gordo’. He saw the eyes narrow but ploughed on anyway. ‘Starsk? Are you up to talking to Dobey?’

His indigo eyes opened wide. Talking to Dobey….he kinda knew what that meant.

During the night, as Hutch and his Captain waited outside the brunet’s room, they’d talked about Shane Lewis, Starsky, the crimes committed against him and how they were going to put the flake behind bars. Hutch had told Dobey that forensics had been good. They’d been careful and thorough and had taken as many samples as they’d needed and then more. He felt sure they’d get a conviction this time, once they’d managed to arrest the tall rapist. He’d asked Dobey about the statement that Starsky would have to make and the big black man told him, quietly but firmly that he’d take the statement. If Hutch was to do it, he was too close to the situation and it’d lay them open to criticism if they didn’t do it properly.

‘Why Dobey?’ Starsky asked.

‘Coz I’m too close an’ somehow I don’t think I could do it’ Hutch said honestly. ‘We need to do this by the book partner, so we can put that bastard away for a long, long time’.

‘Not now’ Starsky said. The comfort he’d felt a few moments ago was dissipating rapidly. He felt dizzy, like a huge metal band had been placed around his forehead and was being tightened. ‘I can’t Hutch….I….not now’.

‘You’re gonna have to do it sooner or later buddy. The sooner you do, the sooner you can move on’.

Stormy indigo eyes stared back at him. ‘What’s that supposed to mean? Don’t start your psychobabble with me. I aint one of your case numbers’ he snapped, seeing the hurt in the crystal blues.

Hutch ignored the comment. ‘No-one said you were Starsk. But we need to get this down on paper while it’s fresh in your head, ya know?’

‘Yeah, I know, I know. M’sorry. I feel so friggin wired an’……I can’t talk to Dobey. Don’t make me’.

‘Well who then? It needs to be done Gordo’

‘Hutch, I’m a cop. I know what’s needed. I can do my own statement. Just gimme the form and a pen’.

‘Your own sta…. Oh I dunno Starsk. It’s a big thing. Are you up to it? What if you missed somethin’?’ Hutch’s eyebrows V’d in question.

‘You can read it through afterwards, sometime when you’re not here. If I’ve missed anythin’ ya can tell me. An’ this way it’s kinda easier than me havin’ to tell ya what went down. Please Hutch. Ya don’t understand. It’s bad enough to have this shit happen without havin’ to say it out loud. An’ the thought of havin’ to tell someone I know is even worse. Just let me do this my way. Please?’

Hutch sighed. ‘Fine. I know that look on your face. You’re not gonna do it any other way. I’ll go an’ tell Dobey. Are you at least up to seein’ to him? He’s been here all night. He just wants to see how you are’.

Panic set in as the brunet thought of seeing anyone other than Hutch.

‘NO….no…please, not yet. Maybe later but not now, I couldn’t stand…..’ he couldn’t bring himself to say it. He couldn’t bear the thought of all the guys in the squad room knowing what had happened to him, reading his statement. What would they think? What would they say? He could imagine the sympathetic glances; the whispered conversations behind hands; the knowing looks as he walked by. He wanted to bury his head in the sand. He wanted to get out of the hospital and go where no-one knew him; where no-one would know what had happened to him.

Hutch saw the sheen of sweat appear on his partner’s brow and the tremble in his limbs. It was early days, of course, but he had no idea what Starsky was feeling, how could he? Although he could imagine. This was no ordinary crime. It was no drive by shooting; no beating by some perp on the street. Rape was so personal, an invasion of body and space. He’d seen countless women go through this and he’d stood back and kept his distance, waiting for the women officers to take charge. It was their concern to deal with the histrionics and tears. It was his job to track the rapist down. But now it was his partner who was the victim and he had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. There was only Hutch able to look out for the smaller man and help to pick up the pieces.

‘S’ok buddy. I’ll tell him. He’ll understand. Wait here huh? I’ll be right back’.

Starsky watched as Hutch headed out of the door and for the first time since Shane had disappeared out of his window, he was on his own with his thoughts. And what thoughts! The drugs he’d been given the previous night had clouded his mind and taken the edge off his memories, but now, they hit him full force, coming back to haunt him as he heard Shane’s voice again in his head.

You’re strong. So much stronger than they were. Makes it more exciting. Maybe I should wait a bit longer till you’ve got more of your senses back? I’m gonna enjoy myself even more!...’

Hell, you’re good. So much better than the girls. I almost wish I didn’t have to waste ya………… ‘

He hitched a breath, his hands up to his temples as he tried to squeeze the memory out from his head. He wouldn’t let Shane do this to him, he wouldn’t! It was bad enough to be violated as he had been, but he couldn’t stand Lewis’ voice being in his head. He moaned, pulling at his hair as he closed his eyes. Shane Lewis standing over him. Shane Lewis licking up the line of his neck. Shane Lewis’ hands on his body, kneading, pushing, invading….

He felt hands on his and tried to hit out at them. Hutch held on to him and waited. ‘Ssh Starsk…take it easy buddy….it’s fine. You’re here now…safe. No-one’s gonna hurt ya any more. I promise. He’s not here. It’s just me and thee. Like always huh?’ the blond wrapped his arms around the curly haired man and hugged him, feeling the wracking sobs torn from Starsky’s throat.

‘I can’t do this Hutch…I can’t. What he did to me….its…..he’s there, in my head…he’s always gonna be there an’ I can’t do fuck about it. Help me…please…..make it go away’.

‘I wish I could babe, I really wish I could. But so help me I’m gonna get that guy an’ I’m gonna make him pay. And then you’ll be safe. For good. Promise’.

For minutes they stayed like that, huddled together, Hutch getting as much comfort from Starsky as the other way around. No-one noticed the figure that stopped briefly by the doorway. No-one saw the figure smile and quickly take a photograph before moving on and losing himself in the crowd.

Heaving a deep breath, the brunet finally disengaged himself from his partner’s arms and led back on the pillow. ‘Sorry’ he mumbled, wiping an angry hand over his face.

‘Nothing to apologise for buddy. you needed some release’.

‘Uh huh. So. Are ya gonna give me the forms and a pen? If I don’t do this now I never will’.

For the next hour and a half, Hutch watched as Starsky wrote slowly and carefully, pausing now and again, and occasionally scribbling out a word and replacing it by another. Sometimes, the smaller man would stop and stare into space, a look of pain creasing his face as some memory emerged, and then he’d dip his head and write some more. More than once, he sat up straight, grimacing at the pull of the stitches on his back and smiled weakly at Hutch who sat quietly by, providing wordless support and the occasional drink of water.

Eventually and with a final swipe of his fingers through his curls, Starsky scribbled his signature on the bottom of the last sheet of paper, shuffled the multiple sheets straight and put them down on the small overbed table.

‘Finished?’ Hutch asked

‘Yeah, finished’ Starsky agreed tiredly. It had cost him a great deal to dredge up the painful memories of the day before and now his body and head ached and he once again felt dirty and used.

‘You did good’.

‘Hmm. If I’d done good I wouldn’t be here now. I’d have fought him off’.

‘Starsk, don’t do that to yourself huh? The Doc said there was more than one drug in your blood. Sure as eggs is eggs he drugged you first before the….the…’

‘Before he raped me. Say it. It aint gonna go away just ‘coz you ignore it’.

Hutch’s eyes slipped down to study his finger tips. ‘Sure buddy. You look tired’.

‘I am. I’m gonna sleep a while. You should go. You look all in too’ Starsky said, snuggling down the bed a way.

‘You sure. I can stay…’

Starsky regarded his partner calmly. ‘Hutch, I need you out there, hoppin’ in the holes, runnin’ down the alleys. I need you to get him….for me. Just go. I’ll be fine’.

Reluctantly Hutch stood up, stretching his cramped back muscles. ‘K. I’ll grab an hour or so, then I’ll be back’.

Starsky snorted. ‘Aint goin’ nowhere’. He watched as the blond shouldered into his jacket. ‘Hutch?’


The eyes bored into his partner as he sought for the right words before giving up. ‘Nuthin’.

‘I know buddy. See ya’.

Hutch made his way outside and hitched a lift in a black and white back to his apartment. He was exhausted and needed sleep but he was wired and edgy. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat with his feet up on the sofa, staring morosely at his toes. So much had happened in 24 hours. So much to change not only Starsky’s life, but ultimately his too. He rested his head back on the sofa and closed his eyes. He needed to be out there, finding Lewis and bringing him in. And this time he’d make sure Joe Newman wasn’t around to offer bail.

His tiredness crept up on him and he was floating into a deep sleep when the telephone rang, the bell jolting him awake so that he dropped the bottle of beer he’d been holding. Cursing, he reached for a towel and dropped it over the wet puddle as he snagged the phone.

‘Hutchinson’ he snarled.

‘Oh Hi. Tell me, how’s your friend? The one in the hospital?’ the voice on the other end of the line asked him conversationally.

‘Friend….who is this?’ Hutch asked, not recognising the voice.

‘How’s his back? Those cuts looked real nasty. Must have really stung. It was so stupid of him to leave his door unlocked. Just like you do Ken’.

‘Lewis, is that you, ya sick son-of-a-bitch?’

‘And I notice he’s in a single room. He has no room mate to keep him company, or even to…..protect him? Ken?...Detective?’

Shane Lewis grinned to himself as he heard the line go dead.

And in another part of the city, a big blond man bolted for the door in his race to get back to his friend’s side.

Chapter 13

Hutch skidded to a halt outside the small hospital room having driven across the city at break neck speed with the mars light flashing and sirens blaring. He’d tried to get hold of Dobey on the car mic. but the Captain, who had been working for 19 hours straight, was off duty for the night. And so, with only himself to rely on, the blond had broken every speed record know to man to get to the hospital, Shane Lewis’ implied threat ringing in his ears.

He stopped outside the small room and looked in. Starsky was led on his side, his face away from the door. The sheet was pulled to his waist and, typical of the brunet, he wore no top, revealing the neatly taped dressings covering the five long, red wounds on his back. The curly head lay smothered in the pillows, extinguished almost and as Hutch walked quietly into the room and round to the other side of the bed he couldn’t help smiling at the picture of the handsome man, safe in bed and asleep.

Ugly bruises marred the familiar face, but Hutch noticed that the drip had been removed and there was an empty coffee cup on the nightstand. He sat quietly by the side of his sleeping friend, calming the heart that had hammered in his chest on the way over. It was too simple. Too easy for Lewis to wind him up. They had to find him and they had to stop him. Now. Before he could do any more damage. Hutch sat back in the chair, his body accustomed over the years to moulding itself to the uncomfortable, hard chairs that habitually found themselves into waiting rooms and bedsides. Despite his nerve jangling ride over, he was tired, not just physically but emotionally and the heat of the room warmed him through, making him drowsy. Slowly, his eyelids drooped and his chin sank onto his chest and within minutes, the blond was fast asleep, snoring gently at the side of the brunet. Perhaps an hour later, one of the nurses walked into the room to check on her patient. Starsky was still sound asleep and it seemed a shame to wake him, but she needed to check his vitals and to do that he needed to be awake. She reached out and gently shook the bare shoulder above the sheet, stepping back in alarm as the curly haired man cried out and jerked his arm away from her. Starsky looked up, shamefaced as he saw it was a nurse and no-one more sinister.

‘M’sorry’ he muttered, shuffling around until she could gain access to his arms.

‘Don’t worry honey. With what you’ve been through, I’m not surprised you jumped’ she said kindly.

And then it hit the brunet. “With what he’d been through”. There it was – he was officially a victim. Damn. He didn’t want this. He hated being cosseted like this. It made him feel claustrophobic. He said nothing more as the woman pumped up the cuff around his arm and jammed a thermometer under his tongue. But he knew he needed to get out of there, quickly before he plunged even further into his depression. When the nurse had finished her checks and had written on the chart at the bottom of his bed, he leaned over and shook Hutch’s knee.

‘Hutch? Hey, Blondie!’

The big man groaned, stretched and opened his eyes, rubbing a hand over his face as he straightened his aching back.

‘Hi buddy’.

‘Hutch, what’re ya doin’ here? You said you were gonna go home an’ get some sleep. M’not goin’ nowhere ya know. B’sides, I aint go no pants’.

Hutch grinned at the “in” joke, but instantly became more serious when he remembered why he was back in Starsky’s room. ‘I had a call last night. Seems we’ve been attracting some attention’.

‘Yeah? Why do I get the impression it wasn’t from your Ma?’

‘You made a real hit with Shane Lewis partner. He’s been watching you ever since….’ Hutch saw the brunet’s eyes narrow at the mention of the rape, but carried on bravely. Starsky was right – he couldn’t skirt around the topic for ever. ‘…..since he attacked you. He um…. mentioned he had a way through my front door too’.

The curly haired man’s face paled. ‘Oh shit! Be careful Blondie. He’s crazy. While he had me he was sayin’ things…stuff. I was kinda fuzzy but I remembered he threatened me that he’d kill me an’ get to you next. Hutch, I need to get outa here. We need to be out there lookin’ for him’.

Hutch snorted. ‘You aint goin’ nowhere. What’re ya gonna do? Protect me? Starsk, you can’t even walk straight right now! You’re in no fit state to be pounding the streets. Leave it to me. I’ll get some guards put on your door here…’ he held up a hand as his partner started to object. ‘….guards on your door. You’re safer here and you still need to rest. Leave it to me….’


‘I am not leaving this to you Hutchinson! You’re too close and you’ve just said that Lewis has you as his next target!’ Dobey’s voice was raised in concern more than anger.

‘But Cap’n, I know the…know the guy. I’ve been t tailin’ him for…’

‘Don’t “but Cap’n” me! I’ve told you you’re off the case. I have two detectives here from San Diego. None of the boys here are gonna get this one. You’re all too close to Starsky. And yes, I know that any one of you would make this the best investigation this precinct has ever seen, but I’m not risking a conviction on anything’ he held up his hand as Hutch started to speak again. ‘It’s final Hutch. You’re off the Ripper cases’.

The blond slammed his hands down on the desk top. ‘Starsk and me have spent the past 6 months following Lewis. We know him. We know his moves, how he operates, what he does. I’ve lived, ate, slept and breathed Shane Lewis and…..’

‘You can put that knowledge to good use by telling the two new people all about him’ Dobey yelled. His voice softened. ‘I know you’re hurtin’ Hutch. We all feel for you and your partner, but you’ve gotta understand this. We need him behind bars. We need him serving life in Folsom. And if that means we farm out the investigation to guys who aren’t personally attached to the case, then that’s what we do’.

‘And who are the two hot shots you got lined up?’ Hutch asked angrily

‘You can meet ‘em now. They arrived half and hour ago. They’re waiting outside’.

Dobey opened the door to his office and motioned for the two waiting officers to come in. The San Diego precinct had sent their finest, anxious that any prospective cop killer would be dealt with quickly and now Jenna (Kosy) Kosielski and Matt Stubbs walked into the room and nodded a greeting to the blond. Hutch nodded back, determined to try to be civil although he still smarted from the idea that he would be unable to deal with the investigation.

The woman walked over to Hutch and held out her hand, ‘Detective Hutchinson. Hi. I’m Kosy. My partner over there is Matt. I just want you to know that we’ll leave no stone unturned on this one. You and your partner deserve the best’.

‘And you’re it’ Hutch asked non committally.

‘We’re good yeah’ the man behind her said without a trace of big headedness. ‘But we still need your help. Your Captain says you’ve been onto this guy for months. So tell us about him. What’s his MO and where does he hang out?’

Hutch appraised the two officers. Kosy stood around 5’5” tall and weighed no more than 125lbs. She had pale, almost white blond hair cut in a flattering style which hugged a sweet face that registered both intelligence and compassion for the flaxen haired cop. Her blue eyes appraised the man easily and she could see the hurt, anguish and anger in Hutch’s crystal blues. Dressed in black jeans and a black top, she looked young, almost too young to be taking on the investigation, but Hutch determined to reserve judgement.

Behind her, Matt Stubbs stood waiting for introductions. The man was a barrel on legs. Standing just short of 5’7”, his round, slightly perplexed looking face was supported by a body that was as broad as it was tall. And yet there was hardly an ounce of fat on the man. His arms refused to lie straight next to his chest due to the large biceps and corded forearms. His body cinched in at his slimmer waist, but then his large, muscular legs stretched the fabric of his jeans to their limit. He looked every inch a weightlifter, but the effect was softened by a face that was good humoured, honest and friendly.

Despite himself, Hutch liked both immediately.

Introductions over, the two sat down and waited expectantly.

‘Hutchinson, tell them what you’ve had so far’ Dobey said.

For the next hour and a half, Hutch went over the past cases with the duo, explaining the murder victims, how Shane had raped them first, the links to the books in his house, the bleach, the cigarettes and the notes he’d left behind. He handed round copies of the files that Dobey had had prepared and they bent over them, perusing the details and asking strategic questions. Hutch went on to explain what had happened to his partner, telling them that although Starsky could ID Lewis, cops had been round to Shane’s house immediately and the flake wasn’t there and his place had been cleaned out – not a surprise, but more than an inconvenience..

‘So he was last seen…’

‘Leaping out of Starsky’s bedroom window at about 6:05 yesterday morning’ Hutch grunted. ‘God knows where he is now, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he aint anywhere round here’.

‘We need to see your partner’ Kosy said. ‘I’ve seen his statement and there are things I want to ask him. Is he up to it?’

Hutch blew out his cheeks. ‘I don’t know. Ordinarily he’s so tough I’d say yeah, go for it. But this is so raw. So damned personal. He needs time’.

‘I know Hutch, but time is what we aint got’ Matt said gently. ‘What say we go over to the hospital now while the going’s good huh?’


Hutch sat back on his sofa, head in his hands and a copy of his partner’s statement in front of him. He’d taken the two San Diego cops over to the hospital and had sat by as they’d questioned Starsky about certain things he’d written down. It was the first time Hutch had heard the full story and he felt physically sick at what had happened to the smaller man, but he remained quiet and let Starsky talk.

Starsky, for the most part tried to be cooperative. He hated the fact he had to explain things. He hated even more that he’d had to explain things to a woman – that to him was yet another violation heaped on top of all the others. And so by the end of two hours, he was tired, his wounds were beginning to hurt viciously and Hutch could see the exhaustion written in every line on his bruised face. Kosy saw it too and snapped her notebook shut.

‘That’s enough for today Starsky. We’ll be back around later, maybe when you’re not as tired’ she said kindly.

The brunet eyed her with suspicion. ‘I told ya all I can remember. I wrote it down. What else is there? Just get out an’ find the bastard huh?’

‘Sure thing. We’ll get him, trust us. We’ll see you around’ Matt said as they headed for the door. Once it was closed the brunet turned to Hutch.

‘What the fuck is Dobey playin’ at?’ he yelled, his face red with fury. Hutch had seen it coming through the long interview; the stormy look in the deep blue eyes; the muscles tensing in the brunet’s jaw, and he’d braced himself for the inevitable explosion.

‘I tried Starsk. I tried to keep a hold of this, but Dobey was adamant. And he’s right. If we do this by the book, Lewis can’t wriggle out of it. That’s why he’s gone. He knows that this time he made a mistake. You can ID him and he hasn’t got a defence!’

Starsky said nothing, but he still stung from the interview. Why couldn’t they just go on as before and work the case between them?

‘You have no idea! You have no fuckin’ idea what this is doin’ to me’ the brunet said softly. ‘It’s like he’s there all over again and this time there are folks watchin’ an’ making notes, like some kind of freakin’ exam!’

‘I know buddy, an’ if there was any other way, God help me I’d take it, you know that. We just gotta hang in there and pretty soon it’ll all be over’ Hutch said soothingly. But at the back of his mind he knew that of Lewis was arrested, talking to Stubbs and Kosy would be just the start – a walk in the park compared to court.

During that afternoon, the doctor had been back around to see the brunet. He’d checked the notes on the chart and had had a quick look at the wounds which were doing well. Finally he pronounced the brunet ready to go home and before he’d gotten the words fully out of his mouth, Starsky was getting up and getting into the clothes that Hutch had brought for him.

For Starsky the drive home had been great. Although too sore to actually rest his back against the seat, just being dressed in his familiar jeans and tee shirt and worn leather jacket had felt good, and driving through the city with the blond at his side, he could, for just a few minutes, forget what had happened to him and what was still to come.

Hutch had insisted on bringing him to his apartment, not wanting Starsky to be alone, and secretly, despite his protestations, the brunet had been happy to comply. He was tired and soon after 8:00, he got into Hutch’s big bed and was asleep within minutes.

And outside in the living room, Hutch read his partner’s statement through for the first time. He wondered how Lewis had managed to drug Starsky to begin with, before injecting him with the paralysing agent, and reread the part where Starsky had said he’d brushed his teeth and had felt odd afterwards. Now he wandered over to the phone and called the number Kosy had left with him.

‘Hi, it’s Hutch. Um….I was readin’ and well….have the forensics guys look over the toothpaste? He says he felt odd after he’d brushed his teeth and the Doc at the hospital said he’d been drugged to begin with. The contents of my partner’s ice box don’t run to anything too special that would hide a drug. It’s just a hunch, but toothpaste’d be flavoured enough to hide a nasty taste’.

Kosy agreed and thanked him and Hutch went back to his reading. Just before midnight, he got to those words….”and then he hit me, got on top of me and raped me. It happened twice during the night and I tried to stop him, but my muscles wouldn’t work. The shot he gave me paralysed me so that I could see and hear and feel, but I was unable to move……”

Hutch shuddered involuntarily and threw the papers down. He’d read enough. With a shiver, he bolted off the sofa and into the bathroom and lost the beer and his meagre supper down he pan.

Chapter 14

‘Donna is dead’. Three stark words that left Hutch holding the phone loosely in his hand with his mouth open. Apparently Kosy and Matt had been called to the scene during the night and one of the uniformed officers just happened to tell them that he’d been there when she’d been raped, and what a waste of a young life. The duo put two and two together, recognising the woman from the file they’d read and had phoned Hutch immediately.

He hung the receiver up slowly, his mind going back to the last time he’d seen the terrified woman. She’d run out from the courtroom after Shane Lewis had been acquitted. And she’d looked at Starsky and him and burst into tears. So much for the American justice system, he thought grimly. One more victim it failed. Under his breath, Hutch cursed and went into the kitchen to make coffee.

Half an hour later, with the strong smell of the fresh brew permeating the apartment, the bedroom door opened and Starsky emerged, fully dressed in jeans, tee shirt and Adidas. He walked a little stiffly into the living room and eased himself down gently onto the sofa as Hutch obligingly poured him a drink and came to sit down at the side of him.

‘What’re ya doin’ up? I thought I’d leave you in bed and let you lie in’ he said, handing the cup to the brunet.

‘Can’t do that. We’d be late for work’.

Hutch looked at his partner amazed. ‘Starsk, you’re not thinking of going in are ya? No one’s expecting you to be in work buddy’.

‘I’m expecting me to be in work. M’fine’ Starsky gave his trademark lop sided grin and sipped at the hot drink. It stung at his split lip and he winced, unwilling to let on to his friend exactly how much he was hurting. During the night he’d had dreams about Lewis and the treatment he’d received at the rapists hands. He’d woken in a cold sweat, his hands clawing at the pillow and he had lain awake for almost an hour afterwards, going over the incident in his head time after time. Could he have stopped it? No, he was sure of that. Could he have fought harder? Well that was a big fat no too. With the drug in his bloodstream, he had no way to cry out, let alone move! But he knew he needed to do something now. He needed to get back to normal. Maybe “normal” would help him to forget. Normal meant work and Hutch and the Pits. So with the plan firmly in his head, slowly Starsky had drifted back to sleep.

‘You’re far from fine. You got seventy seven stitches in your back and you’re still getting over the…the…’

‘Rape. Say it Blondie. Rape. It’s just another fuckin’ four letter word ok? And as for my back – I’ve worked with worse’.

‘But not when you’ve been through so much beforehand’ Hutch persisted.

‘No, well it aint everyday that happens, thank God. But I need to do this. I just need to get my life back in order and then maybe I can get to understanding this more. Please Hutch. Just let me back to work huh? I promise I’ll take it easy. No gunfights, no runnin’ down some whippo. I’ll just do the deskwork. The thought of facin’ everyone is bad enough. I don’t wanna put it off any longer’.

Hutch saw the force of the argument and tried to put himself in his partner’s shoes. Would he feel the same way? Maybe. With any luck, he’d never have to find out. With a deep sigh he nodded his head.

‘Fine. Whatever ya want. But only deskwork. And only half a day. You’re still healing’.

‘Sounds like a deal. Now, ya got anything decent to eat. Sumthin that don’t have seaweed an’ lecithin in it?’ Talking like this made him feel better. Banter with his partner had always felt good and now he could once again put his memories behind him for a couple of minutes as he rested cautiously back on the sofa and waited till the blond had made him toast. Not the cold pizza he’d hoped for, but still more substantial than a shake.

Fifteen minutes later saw them in Hutch’s car driving downtown, talking about just about anything other than Shane Lewis. This was good. This felt like normal and for a while Starsky relaxed, looking at the passing people and cars and listening to Hutch’s voice telling him about his sister’s husband in Canada and his new job with some football team. They drew up outside the Metro and stiffly Starsky got out of the car as Hutch trotted around from the drivers side. The brunet was looking up at the big stone building with a look of anxiety on his face.

‘You ok Starsk? You look like you saw a ghost’.

‘M’ok. I was just….nah. I’m fine’ the brunet replied, squaring his shoulders as he followed Hutch inside.

Why was it that a building that had been a second home for over 6 years suddenly felt so alien? Starsky walked up the steps to the front door of the place he’d worked at for almost two thirds of a decade with a dry mouth and more nerves than a prima donna on opening night. His hands sweated and his stomach somersaulted in his stomach as though he were going to sit at an exam, rather than the desk he’d grown so accustomed to. Angrily he shook himself mentally. C’mon Davey. What’re ya bothered about? No use getting’ bent over about this. They’re all your friends! Yeah. An’ what are they gonna be thinkin’? What’re they gonna say behind your back huh? Oh….there’s Dave. He got ass fucked by some pervert, poor guy. Shuddup. It wasn’t your fault, remember that. It wasn’t your fault….Not. Your. Fault.

He followed Hutch up the hallway to the stairs and then on to the second floor and along to his familiar office. They met several colleagues along the way and most mumbled “good morning” or “hi” just like every other ordinary work day. But today felt different and to the brunet, it was as though a million eyes were boring into the back of his head. Each good morning held a note of sympathy; each greeting was ended by a silent “poor you” and by the time he’d reached the sanctuary of the squad room he’d broken out into a cold sweat and was shaking.

Hutch poured him another cup of coffee and he sank thankfully down onto his hard wooden chair and wrapped his hands around it, staring fixedly at the desk.

‘First step outa the way’ Hutch said softly.

Starsky raised his eyes. ‘Yeah, first step’ he echoed, feeling empty and alone.

Dobey walked in minutes later, nodded to Hutch and raised his eyebrows at Starsky although the brunet didn’t see it and wisely the big black man didn’t say anything. He went into his office and closed the door, ringing Hutch’s extension.

The blond picked it up. ‘Hutchinson’.

‘Should your partner be in here? Is he fit enough?’ Dobey asked quietly. He didn’t want to make the brunet feel any more insecure but at the same time he couldn’t afford to have a liability in the office.

‘Yeah, no problems’.

‘First signs of any, you get him outa here and home, ok?’

Hutch smiled at the gruff concern. ‘Sure’. He looked across the table, over the top of the pot pig to his partner. Starsky had reached out and taken a file from the top of the pile on his desk and had opened it. Hutch went back to his work. If this was how Starsky wanted to take things, he’d ride with it. Anything to help his buddy along.

Starsky opened the buff coloured file, hoping to bury himself in it until all the guys had come in, said good morning and got their curiosity out of their system. He stared at the picture looking back up at him, and the caption beneath. Donna Martin. Date of birth March 11th 1957. The woman’s face stared up at him accusingly. The last file he’d handled before the trial. The last one he’d touched before the guy who was on trial was acquitted and came after him. And one that now had “Deceased” stamped across her photograph.

He read down, looking at his own neat handwriting and the notes he’d made from her interview. Words leapt out at him…..”couldn’t move”……”hands on my body”……..”knife”…….”smell of bleach”. And suddenly the bile rose in his throat and he thought he throw up there and then. He pushed his chair away from the table and rushed from the room, hand over his mouth. Minnie Caplan had heard that one of her favorite men was back and was coming into the room to say hi when a brunet whirlwind ran past her.

‘Hi Hon’ she said to Starsky’s retreating back, but he ignored her, bolting for the bathroom. She walked into the squad room and over to Hutch. ‘Is Starsky ok honey?’ she asked.

Hutch looked up from his file and realised his partner had gone. ‘Hmm? Oh, I thought he was why?’

‘Coz I just seen him looking greener ‘n a blade of grass hot footing it to the john’ she said. ‘You think you should go check on him?’

‘Yeah, thanks Min’. The blond rushed out, following in Starsky’s trail and pushed open the door to the men’s bathroom. It appeared deserted and he was just about to back out when he heard a low moan from one of the cubicles. Barring the door to the room, Hutch walked in and stopped.

‘Starsk? Is that you?’

There was a pause before a ragged ‘Yeah’ broke the silence.

‘You ok buddy?’


‘Are ya sick?’


‘Starsk what’s wrong? Come out. Let me help’. Hutch waited at a loss as to how to help the smaller man this time.

Slowly the door to the cubicle opened and the brunet appeared. He looked grey, his usual light tan disappearing beneath a mask of fear and pain and loss. Starsky leaned against the door of the small cubicle and wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, panting slightly.

‘I can’t do this Hutch. I thought I could, but I can’t’.

‘Hey, it’s early days buddy. You were doing great. What made you lose it?’

‘I don’t know…..I just….oh fuck, I can’t handle this’.

‘Handle what? What did ya see?’ Hutch urged, his hand resting lightly on Starsky’s shoulder. He felt his friend shaking violently.

Starsky looked directly at him, his eyes full of pain and fear. ‘Donna Martin. Her file was on my desk’.

‘Yeah, that was who you were working on before….’

‘Why didn’t ya tell me he’d killed her’ Starsky whispered as he slipped down the wooden lintel to sit heavily on the floor.


It took Hutch a while to coax Starsky out of the bathroom. The brunet shook visibly and clung to the blond as though he were a lifeline back to the present as they sat on the cold tile floor of the bathroom. Whatever Hutch said, the brunet merely nodded, his mind shut down to everything but the sound of this partner’s voice. Sweat trickled down the sides of Starsky’s face as he fought his demons in his own personal hell. Each direction he looked he thought he saw people talking about him behind their hands or looking sympathetically in his direction. Each noise was the precursor to Shane Lewis coming back for another pot at him and he longed for the sanctity of his or Hutch’s apartment. Anywhere where he could be alone and away from the crowds.

Eventually, Hutch left Starsky in the bathroom while he went in search of Dobey, unsure what else to do. The black man listened sympathetically and told Hutch that the reaction was only to be expected. Strong as the brunet usually was, nothing like this had happened before and he’d allowed himself no time to heal. He suggested Hutch take Starsky home and try to find someone for him to talk to. Maybe someone who had been through something similar.

‘And where do ya suggest Cap’n? Rapists R Us?’ the blond snapped.

‘Don’t go off on one with me Hutchinson! I only meant is there anyone Starsky knows, any of his friends who can talk to him. Any that aren’t as close to this as you are?’

‘I’m sorry Cap’n I’m just wired. I don’t…um….yeah. Maybe there is someone who could help, but I don’t know if he could drop everythin’ and get here at short notice’.

‘Well keep your fingers crossed he can. Your partner needs all the help he can get right now. Now get outa here huh? Take him home an’ see to him. I’m giving you a weeks leave’.


Starsky sat on the sofa, his head in his hands. He’d sat like that since Hutch had brought him home. He answered questions monosyllabically, he stared at the floor and he refused to meet Hutch’s gaze in any way. He refused drinks, food and rest and seemed sealed into his own world, oblivious to his surroundings or his own pain.

Hutch sat by him, feeling lost and helpless. He could deal with the brunet when he was sick or injured. He’d stand by and wash his partner, feed him, clean up after him and talk to him, play games with him and keep his mind from his pain. But this was different. It wasn’t Starsky’s body that was hurt so much as his mind, his very being suffering under the memories of the atrocities carried out against him. And he wouldn’t or couldn’t let the blond in. So Hutch did the only think he could think of. He sat by the side of his buddy and remained silent, offering the only thing he had – he offered support, feeling alone and useless.

Until the knock sounded on his door making them both jump. As Hutch looked up, the door opened and his visitor walked in, striding purposefully over to the sofa. And even though Starsky kept his eyes firmly focused on the ground, he couldn’t avoid seeing the shiny, perfectly polished toe of the Army boot, or the voice that sounded above him.

‘Hey Curly boy. What’s doin’?

Chapter 15

Starsky raised his head. ‘Traff? What’re you doin’ here?’

‘Someone said you were in trouble Chief. I thought you could use some company’.

‘Why?’ Starsky looked at Hutch with such a look of pain that the blond turned away, unable to deal with the accusation in the indigo eyes.

‘Why not?’ Traff countered, kneeling down so that he was on eye level with his old army buddy. ‘Hutch is too much a friend to let you go through this on your own. Why wouldn’t I want to be here with ya? Jeez Curly, after all we’ve been through, d’ya really think I’d leave ya to do this on your own? Don’t blame Hutch. Blame the bastard that did this to ya!’

‘I don’t know who to blame. I don’t wanna blame anyone but me. Sure I want to get Lewis behind bars, but that’s not gonna take these feelings away. He’s here, in my head Traff, an’ I can’t get rid of him. And then he says he’s gonna come for Hutch an’ that makes me feel worse. I should’a fought him. I should’a tried harder to stop him, but I couldn’t an’….an’ now he’s here, in my fuckin’ head an’ he won’t go’. Starsky put his head in his hands again and resumed staring at the ground, as though the rag rug on Hutch’s floor would somehow yield the answers he needed.

‘I know what you’re goin’ through Chief, believe me I do. An’ it’ll get better. Not for a while yet, and that’s when you need Hutch ‘n’ me. But it will get better. The memories’ll fade an’ you’ll learn to live with ‘em’ the soldier said gently. He made no move to touch Starsky, no move to invade the brunet’s space. Just knelt quietly by and watched and waited. There was a lump in Hutch’s throat. For the first time since he’d met Traff, he was almost jealous of the bond these two old friends shared and of the closeness they shared, even though he himself was like a brother to Starsky. But what they’d gone through during the war would forge a bond no-one could shake. He stood by and wondered. How come Traff could deal so easily with this? It appeared Starsky was thinking similar thoughts.

‘You don’t know jack shit about what it’s like’ Starsky said, although there was no bitterness in his voice.

‘Believe me Curly, I know plenty about it’.

Questioning eyes looked up at him. ‘What?’

‘Starsky, ya don’t go through 10 years in children’s homes without knowin’ sumthin about it. Remember Sharpe back in ‘Nam? How’d ya think I knew about him huh?’

Starsky’s mind went back over 10 years to a hot, steamy rainy night in a far off bar.

‘‘Corporal, I could have you promoted to Major before the years out, for the right price

I erm….I’m just happy to have made Corporal Sir’ Starsky stammered, starting to zip himself up hurriedly. A large hand shot over the small dividing wall and soft as a whisper it grazed his cock.

Girls can’t give you everything son’

And then Traff had appeared at the door of the bathroom and the moment had thankfully gone, although Sharpe had certainly got his own back on the young soldier later.

‘You mean you….?’

‘Uh huh. By a “teacher” at one of the homes I lived in. I was 15 and he got me one afternoon. Told me I had detention for talking in class! Turns out his idea of detention an’ mine were two different things. I was too shocked to do anythin’ and he told me it was all my fault an’ I’d brought it on myself. For a while I believed him. I felt bad, an’ dirty an’ cheap. Then he tried it again, an’ sumthin inside me clicked, like a switch had been thrown. I was 16 then. I told the woman in charge and she kinda threw me out’.

‘My God. I had no idea!’

‘Well it aint the sort of thing that comes up in polite conversation. Apparently he tried it with a load of the boys, till he hit on one who had a real nasty streak. He was found face down in the bay two days later with a knife through his throat. They all get their just deserts Chief….always’.

Starsky tried to smile. ‘Yeah, I guess. But this is so….I can deal with pain. I can deal with being sick. When Terry was killed I thought my heart would break, but the pain went. But this is so…..I can’t describe it. It’s….’ Starsky sighed deeply. ‘I need to shudup an’ just deal’.

‘No, you need to talk Curly. As much as you need to, till you get to the point where it don’t hurt to talk no more an’ then you’re on the road to getting’ over it. But till then, believe me, I know what it’s like to feel like you’re dirty an’ that everyone is lookin’ at ya an’ talkin’ about ya behind your back. They’re not ya know….they want to help, but they don’t know how’.

Hutch came to sit down beside the two men. He handed them both a glass of bourbon, each one half full of the fiery amber liquid.

‘We’re here for you Starsk. However you want us, we’re here for ya’ he said softly. ‘I called Traff coz I had no idea how to help’.

‘And how did you know he could?’

Hutch snorted. ‘I didn’t, but I figured two useless heads were better ‘n one!’

And as the night wore on. The level on the bottle of bourbon went down and down and the conversation stretched on. They talked about the war, about women, their friends, the job Traff was set to take on in Colombia and the cases Hutch and Starsky had had over the years. They talked about love and hate, about Bay City and about the rape, never wavering when Starsky went quiet or yelled out at the injustice of it all. Three men united in friendship and a need to help each other and the brunet in particular. They talked until dawn tinged the night sky with pink tendrils and finally Traff stood stiffly, stretching lazily and yawning.

‘I gotta go Chief. But you know where I am. It’s just a phone call away. Any time, you know that’.

‘Yeah, I know’ Starsky said. With the liquor in his stomach and his two friends in the room with him, he felt confident and strong and even the pull of the stitches in the wounds on his back didn’t stop him feeling that he could get over this and that Shane Lewis was just a bad dream that he could force to the back of his mind. ‘And Traff?...thanks buddy’.


‘We can’t find him Hutch. We’ve tried just about everywhere and there’s just no sign of him. It’s like he’s disappeared off the face of the earth’. Kosy sat across the desk from Hutch, who had gone back to the Metro two days after Traff’s visit to see Starsky. He’d wanted to clear a couple of things up and with Starsky looking a little stronger each day, he’d taken the opportunity to slip out and deal with things. Having had no news about Lewis, he’d tracked Kosy and Matt down, but the news wasn’t good.

‘Did you try Huggy at the Pits?’ he asked.

‘The barkeep? Yeah, we tried him. Told him we were investigating what had happened to Starsky. He’s um…..protective of the two of you, ain’t he?’ Matt said with a chuckle. He’d met with a blank look and one word answers from the lanky black man until he’d had Huggy ring Dobey for confirmation that the two detectives were kosher. Once that confirmation had been given, however, Huggy had done everything in his power to help, directing the detectives to several of the better known and more sympathetic snitches in the area. Starsky was well known in Bay City and although his hot temper was legendary, both he and his blond partner had a reputation for being fair and even handed. Most of the guys on the street were appalled at what had happened and promised to keep their ears to the ground.

But despite travelling the city from one end to the other in search of Shane Lewis, Kosy and Matt had come up empty handed. His apartment had been cleared out and of course he’d left no forwarding address, his car was owned, so no credit agreements to check and he’d left no bank account details anywhere. The detectives were fast running out of alternatives and the trail was growing increasingly cold.

With a heavy heart, Hutch returned to his apartment late in the afternoon and smiled as he walked in and saw the brunet in his kitchen, a gingham towel wrapped around his waist as he took some fresh baked scones out of the oven.

‘Oh my God, it’s the Galloping Gourmet’ Hutch gasped, clutching dramatically at his chest.

Starsky grinned. ‘One of the by products of living with my Aunt Rosy for those two years. Uncle Al an’ me used to drive out in the middle of the night to get edible food while she was asleep. She was a wonderful woman, but a terrible cook. So to save Al’s pocket an’ my stomach linin’ I got to learnin’ to bake. How do you want ‘em? Buttered? Or just with jelly?’

‘As they come buddy. They smell great. I’m just gonna get a shower’.

Hutch headed for the bathroom and spent five soul searching minutes under the sanctuary of the hot water. Should he tell Starsky about Lewis’ disappearance? Since Traff’s visit, the brunet seemed to be doing so much better and he didn’t want to upset the apple cart. But on the other hand, Starsky was no slouch. Sooner or later he’d ask, or would find out in some other way. And if he didn’t hear from Kosy and Matt himself, he was surely gonna be asking some questions.

Hutch got out of the shower, dried himself and dressed, dragging a comb through his wet hair. Taking a calming breath he stepped into the sweet smelling living room and sat down as Starsky handed him a plate of scones and a coffee. They ate in silence for a while before Hutch broached the subject.

‘I saw Matt and Kosy today’

A shadow fell over Starsky’s face ‘Yeah?’

‘Lewis has done a runner. They can’t find him anywhere. He’s just gone’.

The smaller man sat back, throwing the last morsel of food onto his plate. ‘I guessed as much. He’d be crazy to stay around here. An’ the one thing he isn’t is crazy’.

‘No, he’s a clever one. Not the usual dope we deal with’ said Hutch, thinking about the veritable library they’d found in Lewis’ small apartment.

‘I need to get back there Hutch’.

‘No, you need to stay the hell away from it Gordo’.

‘I can find him, I know I can’.

‘Dobey took me off the case remember. If I can’t do it, there’s no chance he’ll let you investigate your own crime scene’ Hutch said edgily. He felt useless and dumb. Neither of the men were used to sitting back and allowing others to do what they saw as their own work.

Starsky rested his head back on the sofa and closed his eyes. They were missing something, he knew they were. But what? Bracing himself, he thought back to the last time they’d been in Lewis’ apartment. It was tidy, warm, small. The smell of bleach permeated the air. Bleach…..wetness licking up his neck….hands on him, smoothing and….shuddup Davey. Mind on the job. The apartment. Small, warm, tidy, books everywhere. Books on the Ripper. More books…everywhere. He opened one and the ticket fell out…..the ticket…..ticket……library ticket. He loves his books. The library!

‘Hutch, did they try the library?’ he said suddenly.


‘The library. Lewis didn’t own all those books. He got some from the library!’

‘Starsk, he’d never do that. He couldn’t be so stupid as to..’

‘Think on it Blondie. He loves his books. He couldn’t get enough of ‘em. They were his passion. He might have told the library where he was goin’.

Hutch snorted. ‘It couldn’t be so simple, could it?’

‘Stranger things have happened Blondie. Here, gimme the phone. I’ll try’.

Fifteen minutes and three phone calls later the brunet put the phone down in triumph, an enormous grin on his face. ‘I can’t believe it! OK, Hutch. Tell Matt and Kosy to go stake out 1225 Wilmington, flat 4b. Seems our guy doesn’t want to let his books go. Oh, an tell ‘em when they see him, the librarian says he owes 3 dollars in overdue book fines’.

Chapter 16

Hutch drove home slowly. It wasn’t as though he didn’t want to see Starsky, he was just unsure how to tell him how he’d gone on that afternoon. After the brunet’s brainstorm of searching the local libraries for Shane Lewis’ name and address had turned up trumps, Kosy and Matt had hot footed it out to Wilmington. They’d staked out flat 4b for two whole days before they finally found the tall, lanky man with the mousy brown hair, coming back from a shopping trip with a large brown paper sack in his arms. He’d walked down the street full of self confidence and seemingly without a care in the world and had turned into the small entrance to the pleasant apartment block. Seizing their chance, the two out of town detectives got out of their car, waited until they thought Lewis might have gotten up to his flat and then they’d casually knocked on his door.

They’d expected a fight. They’d expected vitriolic denials that Lewis had anything to do with any crime, let alone one concerning a certain curly haired cop. And they’d expected a struggle to get Lewis down to the precinct. But when they knocked on the door, it was opened within seconds, and the tall man had stood and smiled at them. He greeted them cordially and invited them in for a coffee. When they told him that they were there to arrest him for the assault and rape of one David Michael Starsky he merely smiled enigmatically and told them that he’d thought they’d have arrested him days ago.

Matt, who’s temper could be almost as hot as Starsky’s had spun the man round and slammed him against the wall of the small, neat living room and had cuffed his hands behind his back. He was unprepared for the slight moan which escaped Lewis’ lips and the far away look in the rapist’s eyes. And he was even less prepared for the raging hard on he felt when he patted the man down. He grimaced, sick to his stomach and would have lost it there and then had it not been for the diminutive woman at his side. Like Hutch, Kosy had a way of calming her partner and she’d gently taken Matt’s hands from Lewis’ body, sat the big cop down and calmly read Lewis his rights. She couldn’t take care of the small smile he had on his face as they escorted him down to the waiting car. She could do nothing about the big wink that Lewis gave to Matt as Kosy put her hand on the top of Shane’s head and stowed him into the car. But she did allow Matt Stubbs to manhandle the tall flake into the interview room, snick the cuffs on him extra tight and leave him for well over two hours while they phoned Hutch.

Starsky was asleep when Hutch got the phone call. The brunet had been sleeping a lot, mostly because, although he didn’t admit it to his partner, he was still in some pain and reluctantly took the pain killers that the hospital had given him. They were strong and the Tramadol had a sedative quality too. So now, as the big blond listened to Matt’s voice explaining the situation, he decided not to wake the brunet. There was nothing he could do anyway. The one thing he most definitely didn’t want to happen was for the hot headed man to charge off down to the Metro and beat the crap out of their prisoner. So Hutch put the phone down at the end of the conversation, wrote a brief note for Starsky saying “gone on errand – back later” and drove quickly down town.

The next two hours were some of the most uncomfortable of Hutch’s life. He’d interviewed a lot of guys in his time. Some were cocky, some recalcitrant and some were just too crazy that they didn’t make sense. But he’d never come across a customer as cool as Shane Lewis. As Hutch was still officially off the case, he waited in the small room beside the interview room, looking in through a two way mirror. Kosy and Matt were playing the “good cop, bad cop” scenario to the hilt and the blond had to smile at the familiar pattern of events. Matt would seem to lose it, throw furniture, try to intimidate Lewis then stomp out of the room. And then Kosy would offer him a cigarette, drink, candy and explain that her partner would be back soon and it would go easier for Lewis if he told them what they wanted to know. But despite this psychological warfare, Shane Lewis remained as cool as a cucumber. Throughout the two hour interview, and despite the detective’s best endeavors, his only phrase, repeated over and again was ‘I want to speak to my lawyer’. And as he said it he would look at the mirror on the wall, as if he knew that Hutch was behind it. It gave the flaxen haired cop the creeps to see Lewis’ eyes seemingly boring into his own through the silvered glass and twice he shifted positions, trying to escape the gaze. But it was as though Lewis could see him plain as day and his watery blue eyes followed Hutch wherever he sat. By the end of the interview, Kosy was hot and bothered, Matt had lost it for real and Hutch’s nerves left him jittery and jumpy. The only person who remained cool and calm was Shane Lewis who’s parting shot to the detectives as he was led away was ‘Now do I get to see my lawyer?’

Once the interview room had been cleared, Hutch joined Kosy and Matt.

‘Jeez that guy gives me the creeps’ Kosy muttered as she handed Hutch a cup of coffee.

‘Yeah. I can’t help thinking how Starsky felt while he….God, it doesn’t bear thinking about’ Matt agreed. ‘One more minute and I’d have knocked his block off for real’.

The tiny woman glanced back at her well muscled partner. ‘I know you would Stubby. God I love it when you’re angry!’ She giggled and the sound broke the tension in the room. They’d seen Joe Newman, Lewis lawyer stalking down the corridor and were waiting for the results of the meeting.

‘He’s gotta offer a plea’ Hutch said nervously. ‘Starsk can ID him in a heartbeat. And there’s all the circumstantial stuff. The body fluids tests came back. The semen was Lewis’. They cross matched it from the samples from him they took before Donna’s trial. He’s gonna plead I know he is’.

Kosy put a calming had out. ‘Hutch, honey. We’ve done all we can do. This investigation is the most thorough I’ve ever been involved in. Everyone’s worked together for this. We all love Starsky. It’ll be fine…..’

Half an hour later, however, Dobey walked into the room, kicked one of the chairs clean across the small room and threw his cup of coffee against the wall. His round features were pinched into the deepest scowl Hutch had ever seen and his round frame trembled with indignation.

‘Um, I’m gonna go out on a limb here an’ say the talk with Joe Newman didn’t go well’ Hutch said lightly, although he had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Dobey leaned on the small white table, his dark brown fingers showing pale pink. ‘That’s a fuckin’ understatement’ he spat, the unaccustomed curse making the sentiment all the worse.

‘Go on’.

Wearily the Captain raised his head. ‘Lewis wants a trial’.


Hutch pushed open the door to his apartment, bracing himself for what he had to tell his partner and unsure how he was going to do it. Since Starsky’s flight from the Metro, and Traff’s visit, the smaller man seemed to be doing a little better. There were times when he was still quiet and to Hutch it looked like he was brooding on his memories, but that was only to be expected and for the most part he was back to being his usual smiling self. Yesterday, he’d returned to the hospital and had the mass of stitches removed from his back, and apart from one small area which appeared infected, the rest were healing well. So armed with a fistful of antibiotics, he come home feeling happier and a whole lot more comfortable.

Hutch walked into his living room and sat down. He heard the sounds of the shower in his bathroom and decided not to disturb Starsky. There was plenty of time for their discussion when the brunet was washed and dressed. A quarter of an hour later, the curly haired cop appeared, dressed in his blue jeans and pale blue hooded top and with silver water droplets still decorating his wet black curls.

‘You’re back’ he said unnecessarily.

‘You should be a detective’.

‘Gee, I never thought. Maybe I should! Want a drink? I put the kettle on before I showered’.

‘No. M’fine thanks’ Hutch said absently.

Starsky busied himself in the kitchen, emerging a minute later with a mug of coffee and a fistful of peanuts. ‘Where d’ya go?’

‘The Metro. They got Lewis buddy. They arrested him’.

The brunet stopped, his hand half way to his mouth. ‘They interview him?’



‘They went at him for close on two hours. He’s cool. Cold almost. Like he had his emotions removed at birth’ Hutch said, repressing a shudder as he thought about Shane’s eyes following him behind the mirror.

‘Tell me about it’ Starsky said with feeling. ‘So? What did he say?’

‘He wanted to see his attorney. That’s all he kept sayin’.

‘That freakin’ Joe Newman guy? He’s almost as bad as Lewis’ Starsky said, thinking of the smart, well pressed black suit and crisp white shirt.

‘One and the same’ Hutch agreed.

‘So? What? What happened?’

‘He wants a trial’. Hutch said bluntly.

Starsky stared at him open mouthed for a moment. ‘A trial? Why? How? I mean….I can ID him. I can convince any jury that Shane Lewis did that to me. I can….I. What the fuck is his defense? He aint got a defense. He raped me an’ I can ID him, what defense is there?’ Starsky yelled, peanuts flying round the room as he slammed his hand down on the coffee table.

Hutch took a deep breath. Even worse than telling his partner that Lewis would not plead was telling him why he wouldn’t. He closed his eyes.

‘His defense is that um…..you led him on’.

A nuclear bomb couldn’t have left a quieter room than Hutch’s living room as he put his head in his hands and waited for the explosion from his partner. He expected Starsky to rant, to maybe throw stuff and to generally rail against the injustice of it all. Instead, there was stony silence which seemed to stretch into eternity. And then, quick as a flash, the brunet stood, took his keys from the table by the door and went out, slamming the door behind him.

It took Hutch by surprise and it was seconds before he reacted, taking his own keys and bouncing down his steps three at a time. He was just in time to see a red flash as the Torino slewed around the corner and was gone. With a curse, Hutch got into his own car, vaulting over the hood in his haste, gunned the engine and slammed his mars light on top as he prepared to tail his partner. He drove on through streets that were blessedly quiet at that time of day and followed Starsky’s blazing tail lights through the city. He lost him five minutes into the drive, but by then Hutch knew where he’d find his buddy and he slowed slightly, leaving some time for the brunet to be on his own before he caught up with him.

Fifteen minutes later, the big blond drew up by the side of the jetty leading down to the beach. It was one of Starsky’s favorite haunts, especially when the brunet had his camera in his hands, or just needed time out to think. Hutch got out of his car and walked over the sun warmed sand towards the waters edge. There, a little way of he saw the curly haired cop, sitting on the sand staring out to sea, the sea breeze ruffling mahogany curls and narrowing indigo eyes. Slowly Hutch walked over and sat down beside his friend.

‘Didn’t your Mom ever tell you you’ll get piles sitting on damp sand?’

‘Not a lot of sand in Brooklyn’ Starsky replied, his eyes still fixed on the horizon.

‘No. Guess not. Why’d ya take off Gordo? We could’a talked back there’.

‘I just wanted to get out. I felt…..like everything was closing in on me. Like I couldn’t breathe’.


The sat in silence, both looking out at the turquoise waves and the orange and pink flashes filling the evening sky.

‘Why?’ Starsky asked finally.

‘Why what?’

‘I was so sure he’d just cop a guilty plea an’ that’d be the end of it. I should’a known better. But why? I didn’t lead him on. For fucks sake why would I do that?’ He turned pained eyes on his partner. ‘Why?’

‘Dunno. Maybe coz he’s sick?’

‘I can’t do this Hutch. I thought I was feelin’ stronger, but not that strong. I can’t face a trial. It’s too much…..I just can’t’.

‘If you don’t, he’s off scott free again. Think of the girls Gordo. Think of Donna. She did it coz you encouraged her’.

Starsky snorted. ‘Made her, more like. Shit Hutch, I had no idea what I was forcin’ her to do. I didn’t know how she felt; how cheap an’ dirty she felt. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have pushed her so hard’.

‘You did what you had to do Starsk. And now I’m gonna push you. You gotta do this buddy. If not for you, then for the other girls that didn’t get a chance. You’re the bravest guy I know. You can do this, I know ya can’.

‘Am I? So fuckin’ brave I couldn’t fight him off’.

‘Stop it! You were drugged an’ you now it. And so did Lewis. He’d never have tried that if he couldn’t have some chemical help. C’mon buddy. I’ve never known you give up on anythin’ before. Now’s not the time to start’. Hutch put his arm around Starsky’s shoulders and pulled him into a bear hug. ‘I’m with ya buddy. Always. We can get through this together. Me an’ Thee huh?’

‘Are ya gonna be with me on the witness stand? Are ya gonna be there answerin’ their fuckin’ questions? I don’t think so’.

‘I’m gonna be there when you’ve done. And when Lewis is enjoyin’ his first night in Folsom, I’m gonna be there when we celebrate. C’mon Starsk. You were never a quitter. I’m not gonna let this drop. You need to do this or trust me, you’ll never forgive yourself’.

The brunet drew a shaky breath. ‘Did anyone ever tell ya, you’re a bully Ken Hutchinson?’

Chapter 17

Starsky looked distinctly uncomfortable in his plain dark blue suit, white shirt and plain navy tie. He felt as though the stiff collar would strangle him at any minute and its stricture did nothing to help the dryness in his mouth as he paced up and down the witnesses area of the courthouse. The courtroom was next door and he knew that Shane Lewis was inside and that the jury had just been empanelled. There was only the prosecution opening to go and then he was on.

He’d dreamed about his for over a week, getting steadily more nervous as the trial drew closer and despite the fact that over 3 months had elapsed since the actual rape, each memory was crystal in clarity and just as painful as if he was living them for the first time. Court was never Starsky’s favourite place. He despised the fancy lawyers who could turn words round to suit themselves. He’d never been one for clever ways and verbal sparring. The brunet’s way was clean and simple. Investigate a crime, take down the flake who’d committed it and move on. He also despised a judicial system that seemed to be weighted in favour of the defendant each and every time and more than once, he and Hutch had ended up in a drunken stupor at the Pits while they’d come to terms with sometimes 6 months of work going down the pan when another clever, rich attorney got their client off some murder rap.

The minutes ticked by. He’d been spoken to by the nice lady from witness support. Dressed in her angora twin set and pearls she was pleasant enough, but he had the impression she wouldn’t know a criminal if one jumped up and bit her on her ample and well corseted bosom. He’d been told he would of course be the first witness and that after him would be Hutch. After Starsky had given evidence he was welcome to remain in court or go as he pleased, but he wouldn’t be allowed to speak to Hutch until after the blond had completed his evidence also. He’d nodded, having given the spiel on countless occasions to witnesses himself, but this felt different; this was different and suddenly the courthouse wasn’t just an inconvenient break in a day cruising the streets. It was his lifeline and way back to re-owning his self esteem.

He jumped as the court bailiff came into the room. ‘David Starsky’ he called and the brunet stood, straightened his tie and looked back at his partner.

‘Go get ‘em tiger’ Hutch said with a wink. ‘Give ‘em hell’.

Starsky tried to smile, turned and followed the bailiff into the courtroom like a lamb to the slaughter. He walked across the well of the court and stood on the witness stand with his right hand raised.

‘Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?’ the bailiff asked, holding up the old testament.

‘I do’. Starsky’s voice sounded husky and he cleared his throat. Great! Giving evidence with no voice. Nice one Davey!

The Judge leaned over. ‘Will you tell the court your full name and occupation?’

‘David Michael Starsky, Detective with the Bay City Police Department’.

‘You can sit down’.

The brunet took a seat, his hands shaking so violently he thought he’d shake his carefully inserted cufflinks right out. The prosecution lawyer approached the stand. Marta Woods was an old hand. She was good and Starsky knew it. He also knew Marta personally, having dated her a couple of times and felt even more uncomfortable now that she was gong to start on the intimate questions surrounding his assault. His eyes strayed around the courtroom, falling eventually on Shane Lewis, sitting bolt upright between two uniformed officers across from him. Shane stared back, unblinking and as Starsky looked, he smiled and winked. The brunet’s stomach somersaulted and he thought for one awful moment that he’d lose his breakfast right there in the courtroom. He swallowed hard and missed the first question. Marta repeated herself.

‘Mr Starsky. Tell the court in your own words what happened on the night of October 15th last year’.

He took a deep breath. This was it. Ok Concentrate. Tell it like it was and everything will be fine. For the next half hour, he went through his terrible experience in as much detail as he could remember, leaving nothing out and keeping his eyes firmly fixed on a point in the middle distance, somewhere above Captain Dobey’s nose as his boss looked on from the public side of the room. At the end of it, he was sweating and dry mouthed, but calmer now that he felt he’d got the story down and in the correct order. After one or two questions to clarify minor points and after showing the jury pictures of Starsky’s bruised face and the long wounds on his back, Marta smiled at him.

‘Thank you’ she said, and turned to the man sitting at the defence’s table. ‘Your witness’.

Dougy Stuart stood and made his way into the centre of the room. He was a tall, imposing looking man with whom Starsky had had run ins before. He was supremely confident and a great favourite with the more usual Bay City low lives as he had an unerring knack for getting them off and home. Without looking at the brunet he started.

‘A pretty story Mr Starsky. But you missed out one vital detail. You led my client on, didn’t you?’

‘No’ Starsky tried to keep his voice firm and loud enough for everyone to hear.

‘You’d been harassing Mr Lewis hadn’t you?’


‘I say you stalked him. You wouldn’t leave him alone. You were abusive to him and you harassed him for months’.

‘We were investigating him. I’m a detective. It’s my job’.

‘Is it your job to manhandle a suspect detective?’

‘No, I…’

‘Isn’t that just what you did do? You couldn’t wait to get your hands on him because you wanted him to touch you’

‘Objection Your Honour’ Marta Woods stood up. ‘Conjecture’.

‘Sustained. The defence will not refer to what they think this witness wants. Keep to the facts Mr Stuart’.

Stuart nodded but still refused to look at Starsky; instead he fiddled with a rubber band in his hands and held the jury’s gaze.

‘You harassed my client did you not Mr Starsky?’

‘No, I….’

‘Then what’s this? Defence exhibit one Your Honour. A restraining order stopping Mr Starsky from coming within 100 yards of Mr Lewis’ Stuart handed a sealed piece of paper to the bailiff and the Judge scrutinised it.

‘No, I can explain that’ the brunet started, feeling his anger growing inside. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Shane grin widely.

‘Moving on. Detective, you say Mr Lewis raped you. A big man like you wouldn’t just lie passively back and allow that to happen and yet my client shows no marks, no signs of a fight. Explain that to the jury’.

‘I was drugged. I told ya I was drugged. I couldn’t move!’

‘And yet you say you remember everything? Come, come Mr Starsky. What sort of drug causes that sort of effect I wonder?’

‘Ask him’ Starsky grunted.

‘In good time. Now, moving on. Tell me what are your sexual preferences?’

The question came from nowhere and hit the brunet between the eyes. What the hell? Marta Woods was also dumbfounded and was on her feet in a second.

‘Objection. Relevance Your Honour. Mr Starsky is not on trial here!’

The Judge looked at Dougy Stuart who had a bland expression showing no concern on his face.

‘If I may be permitted to continue, Your Honour, I will prove to the court the relevance’.

‘Objection overruled. But Mr Stuart. Make it quick’ the Judge snapped and sat back.

Dougy returned to his line of questioning. ‘What is your sexual preference?’ he asked

‘What the hell does that have to do with anything?’ Starsky said quietly.

‘The jury might think it has a whole lot to do with this case. Answer the question’.

The curly haired cop felt as though the bottom were dropping out of his world. What the fuck? Why ask that? What for? What did he hope to achieve? ‘I’m heterosexual. I like women’ he said softly, looking at the hard wooden rail in front of him.

‘Are you sure?’

Starsky’s head came up quickly, his eyes flashing anger. ‘Yeah, what do you prefer punk?’ he snarled before he could stop himself.

Stuart smiled back. ‘So, we do have a temper! My sexuality isn’t in question Mr Starsky. However, yours is. Defence exhibits 2 thru 10 Your Honour’ he handed a bundle of photographs to the waiting bailiff. Marta was once more on her feet.

‘Objection Your Honour. Relevance and the Prosecution haven’t agreed these exhibits. We’ve not seen them before today’.

‘They’re late evidence Your Honour’ Stuart bluffed smoothly and handed them to the woman to flip through. She blanched, then handed them to the bailiff. The Judge took a cursory look, then handed them back. ‘Show the witness’.

Starsky took hold of the polaroids with a shaking hand. Each one showed him and Hutch together. Some were taken in the small hospital room he’d been in, one in particular showing Hutch holding Starsky in his arms. The brunet remembered the moment when he’d broken down, but the picture, in the cold hard light of day, told a different story. Others showed Starsky ruffling Hutch’s hair playfully and Hutch leaning over to whisper something, although the brunet acknowledged that from the angle of the shot it could equally be a kiss. The last one was of the two of them sitting on the beach, Hutch again with his arm round Starsky’s shoulders. The curly haired cop’s mouth went even drier with indignation. He looked up.

Dougy Stuart saw his opportunity and pounced.

‘Are you gay, Mr Starsky? Is that your partner in bed as well as at work? What sort of relationship do you have with Detective Hutchinson?’

‘No! No, you don’t understand he’s …’

‘Just answer the question. Are you gay?’ Simple enough’ For the first time since the questioning began, Dougy Stuart looked directly at Starsky, walking up to the witness stand until he was only a yard away. He put his hands on the wooden rail and stared into the brunet’s face.

‘Are you gay?’

‘No, I am not’.

‘The pictures tell a different story. And unlike you, Mr Starsky, pictures don’t lie. No more questions Your Honour’.

Marta Woods leapt to her feet, trying to salvage the situation. She asked a couple more questions, but the brunet’s head was in a spin. The questions - the accusations had come from nowhere and now he felt even more cheap and dirty. Far worse than after the rape itself, as though the whole thing had happened over again. He answered Marta’s last few questions mechanically, not really listening any more. He wanted to get out of the room, away from the twenty four eyes of the jury who now seemed to regard him as some kind of pervert. He wanted to go home, take his Smith and Wesson and blow out his brains. He wanted to escape.

Dimly he heard the Judge telling him he could go and a pair of hands supporting him from the witness stand and he registered Hutch’s expression of concern as they passed in the small corridor before his blond partner started his own round of verbal torture.

Starsky sat in the small interview room next to the courtroom and put his head in his hands. Fuckin’ Lewis. Fuckin’ courts and fuckin’ Dougy Stuart. He stared into space, his mind numb as the minutes ticked away until Hutch came out and they could go home.

Meanwhile Hutch was having problems of his own. At Marta’s invitation, he’d told the jury about finding Starsky in his bedroom, about seeing someone disappearing from the bedroom window and about ringing for an ambulance and escorting the brunet to hospital. Marta smiled weakly at him.

‘No more questions. Your witness’ she said as Stuart got up from his table.

‘Detective, would you describe yourself as close to Mr Starsky?’

‘Yes. We’ve worked together for over 6 years and been through some pretty bad times. It kinda forges a friendship’.

‘I’m sure it does. And that friendship is a strong one?’

‘Like I said, we’ve both been injured…..been in some tight spots together. Yeah, it makes ya close’.

‘How close?’

‘I’m sorry. I don’t follow’ Hutch said.

‘It’s a simple question. How close? Do you go out together after work?’


‘Do you stay over at each other’s apartments?’

‘Yeah, occasionally. Sometimes it’s si….’

‘Just answer the questions simply detective, I don't need yor slant on things’ Stuart cut through the explanations. ‘When you sleep at each others houses, do you share the same bed?’

Hutch saw immediately where this was heading. ‘Oh now come on. I said we were friends. But not like that!’

‘Are you sure detective?’

‘Yes. More than sure’ Hutch snapped, staring at the big lawyer.

‘And you found your partner lying on the bed in his apartment after the alleged rape, you say?’

‘After Shane Lewis raped him, yeah’.

‘Your Honour. Please direct the witness to answer only the questions I put to him’ Stuart said quickly.

The Judge nodded. ‘Just answer the questions put Detective. Yes or no will do’.

‘And you and he were alone?’


‘And you were alone for some time. You must have been relieved to see him again’.

‘Of course I was! What kinda question is that?’

Stuart V’d his eyebrows. ‘The Judge has directed you. Yes or no answers Detective’.

‘You were relieved to see him?’

‘Yes’ Hutch snapped

‘How relieved?’


Stuart fished a report from his pile on his desk and handed it up to the Judge. ‘Defense exhibit 11. Forensic report, Your Honour. Detective, were you relieved enough to say….kiss Mr Starsky?’

‘You’re crazy!’

‘Maybe, but the forensics report shows your saliva traces round his mouth. Now, the report doesn’t lie. Can you honestly tell me that you didn’t put it there?’

‘Now hold on a …….’

‘Yes or no Detective. Was that your saliva around Mr Starsky’s mouth?’

Hutch paused. Catch 22. ‘Yes’ he said indistinctly.

‘I’m sorry, I don’t think the jury heard that. Again and louder?’

‘Yes…but…..’ Hutch said, his eyes closed in anguish.

‘Thank you. No more questions’.

Marta jumped up immediately. ‘Was Mr Starsky breathing when you found him?’

‘What? Um…no’.

‘Did you have to give him artificial respirations – the kiss of life?’


‘Thank you. No more questions’.

But as Hutch walked out from the courtroom, he knew the damage had been done and in his heart of hearts he knew there and then what the verdict would likely be.


Hutch sat in the small airless courtroom, at the back, next to Dobey as he waited for the jury to file back into court. It had been a long two days for both he and his partner, but a short trial, there being only 3 prosecution witnesses – Starsky, Hutch and the Doctor who had treated Starsky at the hospital. And then Shane Lewis had given his evidence. Basically the trial was one man’s word against the other and as the Judge had observed in his summing up, only the 7 man, 5 woman jury could decide whose version they preferred. They should come to a decision based on their beleifs as to Shane Lewis’ guilt or otherwise and that if they had any doubt which would make a reasonable person hesitate in the most important of his or her affairs, they should err in favour of a verdict of not guilty. And if there was any doubt in their minds as to Shane Lewis’ guilt, any small remaining questions, it was in fact their duty to acquit.

Hutch had persuaded the brunet to stay away from court, and to be honest, Starsky took little persuasion. The very act of giving his evidence and the impact of Dougy Stuart’s questions had left the curly haired cop feeling weak, dispirited and dirty and both he and Hutch had been quiet on their way back to Hutch’s apartment that night.

Maybe I should just go back to my place’ the brunet had said wearily.

Why? My bed not good enough for ya buddy?’

What’s that supposed to mean? I don’t sleep in your bed coz I want to ya know. There aint nothin’ meant by it!’ Starsky snapped back.

I know. I just meant….’ Hutch shut up, at a loss for words. He felt for his partner so badly because he’d had a taste of Stuart’s medicine too. It stung him, but for Hutch it wasn’t laid against a background of rape and abuse like it was for Starsky, and to Hutch, it seemed nothing short of evil for the court to have allowed those accusations to have been put.

Starsky sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. ‘I know what ya meant Hutch, an’ I’m sorry. He got to me. He really got under my skin. I could’a ripped his fuckin’ head off! Why? Why should I feel like I have to question everything I do? Aint it bad enough that I look over my shoulder every time I hear someone walkin’ behind me? Shit, I’m a grown man an’ I’m scared to walk into my bedroom at night! I’m a cop, but I aint gonna get very far if I’m shit scared every time a flake runs down a dark alley’.

You’re a damned good cop an’ you know it! And like Traff said, the memories’ll fade. You just gotta give it time’.

Starsky snorted. ‘I gave it three months Hutch. An’ yeah, maybe I thought I was doin’ better, but then that fuckin’ asshole in his fancy suit comes along an’ reopens all the old wounds. I can feel it like it was yesterday all over again. An’ now he accuses me of……of bein’ a faggot. Is that right? Is that who I am? We are close ya know. Is that why?’

Hutch pulled the car over to the side of the road so suddenly that the brunet lurched forward, putting his hands out to brace himself against the dash and hit the side of his head against the side window. The blond gritted his teeth, his blood boiling and yelled at his partner.

Ya wanna finish this now Starsky? Ya wanna throw away 6, almost 7 years of the best friendship I’ve ever had on the strength of that git’s questions? They were designed to cover up the truth buddy. And the truth is that Shane Lewis assaulted you in the very worst way imaginable and he’s tryin’ to squirm out of it. Nothing more complicated than that! An’ if his questions leave you questioning our friendship, then maybe it aint as strong as I though it was. Maybe we’ve lived a lie for all this time. Maybe we aren’t the buddies I thought we were’. The blond kept his hands on the wheel of the car and stared straight ahead, through the rain pebbled windshield.

The silence in the small car stretched on interminably, the only sounds outside being the cars passing them on the road, hissing on the rain soaked blacktop and the wiper blades smearing the raindrops away like so many tears.

You’re my pal Hutch’. Starsky said the words softly, as though he was scared that they would hurt the blond in some way.


Until my dyin’ day’.

I hate that this happened Starsk’

Me too, but it has, an’ we have to deal’.

An’ if I want to hug ya once in a while coz I think ya need it?’

The brunet snorted softly. ‘Fine ya big lummox….but maybe not when there's a crazy photographer around huh?’

Hutch relaxed and smiled. ‘You're right. But we are together a lot ya know...an' I still say you aren’t even a good kisser!’ he snorted alluding to a conversation they'd once had.

The jury filed back into court and passed a piece of paper up to the judge. He opened it and read it, nodding.

‘Mr Foreman, have you reached your verdict?’

Hutch stiffened in his chair, his heart beating wildly in his chest. He already knew the answer; already knew he’d have to somehow break the news to Starsky, but still, he lived in hope.

The man stood up. ‘We have Your Honour’.

‘How do you find the accused Shane Lewis?’

‘On the offence of assault we find him guilty. On the offence of rape, we find him not guilty’

The courtroom was quiet. Hutch could see Shane and his lawyer in deep conversation at the front of the court, and Marta Woods packing up her papers and probably getting ready for the next case. That’s all it was. One man’s life ruined and on to the next job. He cursed under his breath, hardly hearing as the Judge announced that Shane Lewis would be ordered to pay 400 dollars compensation for the assault to Mr Starsky and that after that, he was free to go. The blond stood up and rushed for the courtroom door, needing air and to get out of the room, his flesh crawling from being in the same air as the rapist. Dobey followed.

‘How’m I gonna tell him? he asked, staring out of one of the big windows at the parking lot below.

‘You just gotta tell him the truth. The sooner he comes to terms with it, the quicker he can get back to normal’ the big black man said practically.

‘He was bad enough after he’d given evidence. This is gonna slaughter him’ Hutch said softly. He turned back from the window just as Dougy Stuart and Shane Lewis came out of the courtroom, laughing and joking. Lewis shook Stuart’s hand and the lawyer walked away. Shane saw Hutch standing by the window and couldn’t resist. He swaggered over, a sickening smile on his face.

‘Detective Hutchinson! How lovely to see you. But where’s Detective Starsky? Are you going back to him now? Back to his bed? Want to sample that tight little ass some more?’

Hutch saw red, lurching at the tall man as though he would throttle him there and then. ‘You fuckin’ pervert. I’m gonna make sure I put away for good, you hear me? Don’t rest Lewis, coz every way you turn I’m gonna be there!’ He tried to take a hold of Lewis’ collar, but was stopped by a big black hand.

‘You don’t want to do this Hutch. Not here. Not now. Save it, come away’.

‘Yeah, listen to the nigger. Is he another one? You like a little black too?’ Shane taunted. ‘You ought to listen to him. You cops are all the same. Think you’re so good! And yet no-one believes ya when the chips are down. Such a shame for that pretty little brunet. Tell him I said hi’. Lewis grinned one more time and as Dobey struggled to keep Hutch back, the tall man swaggered down the corridor to freedom.

Dobey held on to Hutch for several more minutes as the blond struggled to regain his composure. And then it was another half an hour and a cup of coffee later before the Captain would let Hutch drive back to Starsky, afraid that in his current state, he was unsafe to drive. But finally he did let him go.

‘You just gotta tell him Hutch. And if he needs the rest of the week off, so be it. I don’t expect either of you in until Monday. Got that?’

‘Yeah, thanks Cap’n. Maybe we’ll go down the coast for a couple of days an’ just unwind. Maybe Molly an’ Mia will want to come too’.

‘Molly? Has she stuck around through all this?’

‘Yeah, she’s some girl! He hasn’t seen a lot of her, but she’s still there in the background. She’s good for him. Kinda steady an’ makes him see sense’.

Dobey snorted. ‘Good for him? Wow. If she can make your partner see sense, she a goddamned miracle worker! Now go, an’ I don’t wanna see your butts till Monday’.

Hutch drove home slowly, admitting to himself that he was putting off the evil moment and berating himself for being chicken. But eventually he pulled up outside his apartment and got out. He walked slowly up the steps and went in without knocking. The brunet was sitting cross legged on the sofa, duster in hand and his favorite Nikon in pieces around him as he lovingly cleaned it. He looked up as Hutch walked in.

‘Ya don’t need to walk on eggshells. I already phoned the courthouse an’ they told me the verdict came in’.

Hutch blew out his cheeks. ‘And?’

‘What am I supposed to say? They believed him over me’. There was an odd calmness about the brunet that Hutch found disconcerting.

‘And you’re ok with that? You were madder ‘n hell a while ago buddy. Why the change?’

‘I just figured I need to put this all behind me an’ maybe move on’.

‘Well that’s an admirable sentiment Starsky old boy, but somehow I can’t believe that you’d let this drop so quick’.

Starsky stopped dusting the lens of his camera and looked up. ‘I don’t wanna talk about it no more Hutch. It happened, it’s in the past. We move on, ok?’

‘However ya want to play it. Dobey says we have the rest of the week off’.

‘I’m goin’ back tomorrow’.


Starsky glared at his partner. ‘I said, I’m going back tomorrow. I’m workin’ till 5 an’ then I have a hot date with Molly’.

Hutch’s “partner senses” were on high alert. He’d expected Starsky to be mad, angry, shaking with indignation. His partner’s hot temper and volatile personality were legend and he’d braced himself for at least a couple of days of vitriolic yelling, maybe some breakages and for Starsky to drink himself into a stupor. He was completely unprepared for this calm, almost emotionless acceptance of the situation and it left him feeling unbalanced and off kilter.

‘I think you ought to take a break. God knows I need one. I thought maybe you, Molly, me an’ Mia could maybe go down the coast, find a little motel somewhere an’ just chill. You deserve it’.

‘Why? For gettin’ fucked? It aint worthy of a prize Blondie. Nice thoughts, but I’m back at work tomorrow, with or without ya’.

‘And tonight?’ Hutch asked.

‘Early night. I’ll be ready at 7:30’.

‘Fine. Starsk, are you sure you’re ok?’

Starsky bent to his camera again, blowing gently to get rid of any lingering dust on the lens. ‘I told ya. I’m fine. Just leave it huh? I’ll be back at work in the mornin’.

‘K. Well. Um…... If you want anythin’…..’

‘I said I’m fine!’ and with that, Starsky got up, picked up his camera and stalked stiff backed into the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

Chapter 19

‘Starsk will ya slow down? He robbed a store. He aint the Boston Strangler. You’re gonna get us killed. Just slow down’ Hutch yelled as he wedged his knees against the dash and grabbed for the window sill.

Starsky ignored him, throwing the car around yet another right hand corner, and causing another set of cars to screech to a halt. He pushed his foot to the metal and forced the big car on, following the blazing tail lights of the guy in front through the city centre and out towards Mandalay Heights.

‘I’m catchin’ up. I’ll have him in a minute. Just….dunno, hang on to sumthin’.

‘I’m tryin’ to hang on to my life buddy, but I’m not doin’ too good a job. What is it with ya? Is this personal? D’ya know the guy?’

‘Nope. Never set eyes on him. But he’ll know me when I get a hold of him’.

The car ahead of them slewed to the left, taking the corner sloppily. Its rear wheel hit the curb and pushed the back end out, throwing it into a skid. Starsky pulled the Torino to a halt and was out of the door in a flash, running over the top of his hood to get to the slightly bemused looking guy in the other car. Roughly he pulled him out by his collar and slammed him over the hood of the vehicle whose engine was still running.

He grabbed a hold of the man’s left wrist, pulling it savagely around behind his back

‘Hey, I didn’t do nothin’. You’re hurtin’ me. Let me up huh?’ The man’s big brown eyes looked pleadingly at the cop.

Starsky snapped on the remaining cuff and whipped him around until he could grab a hold of his collar again.

‘If ya didn’t do nuthin, why’d ya run huh?’

‘Coz there was a fuckin’ madman in a bright red car chasin’ me. I didn’t do nunthin really. The guy at the store’s been on my case for weeks. He wouldn’t give me credit an’ I decided to get even. He was askin’ for it’.

The words were no sooner out of the punk’s mouth than Starsky fist slammed into his jaw snapping his head sideways. The man’s fear filled eyes looked back at the wild man holding him and he whimpered as the fist returned, this time ploughing into the side of his head.

‘You got no idea what he was askin’ for punk! No-one knows what a victim’s “askin’ for”. They just assume. An’ then it’s down to regular guys like me an’ my partner to pick up the pieces. You got no idea…no damned id….’

‘Starsk….Starsky…..STARSKY’ Hutch’s hand was firm on his partner’s shoulder as he pulled the smaller man away from the cowering crook. Taking over, Hutch pulled the man to his feet, dismayed to see the black eye, bruise on his cheek and blood dripping from his nose. With care, he opened the Torino’s door and stowed him safely in the back, closing the door behind him. ‘Stay put’ he told the bleeding man ‘or I’ll let him loose again’. The man nodded vigorously.

Walking back to his partner, he took a hold of his shoulder and pulled him around until he could see Starsky’s face. The brunet was panting slightly, his lips parted and a blaze of bloodlust in his eyes that Hutch had never seen before.

‘What just happened there Starsk?’

‘I caught the guy. Now we take him back an’ book him’ Starsky said defensively. He didn’t know himself what had just happened. All he knew was that he remembered those five words he was asking for it and something in his head snapped. He’d set off that morning feeling edgy and wired although he'd tried hard not to put it down to feeling so let down and disbelieved by yesterday's verdicts and when the guy had muttered those words to him, his head immediately took him back to Shane Lewis and the trial. He was asking for it. How many more times would he hear those words?

‘Buddy, there’s catchin’ and there’s catchin! He was quiet. There was no need to get rough on him’.

‘He’s a punk Hutch. He decided he’d justify what he did by thinking the other guy, the one in the store, deserved what he got. Now he’s had a taste of his own medicine’.

‘Is that what this is all about? You’re still smartin’ over the what happened? About the verdict? Aww buddy, I can understand that but you were the one who told me yesterday that it had happened and now we move on!’

‘You don’t know nuthin. We got the call, we chased him down an’ now I’m gonna take him back to the precinct an’ book him’.

‘Hey slow down. Just take a minute. This isn’t you Starsk, it was a mistake comin’ into work today. Dobey told you to take the rest of the week. Maybe you should….’

‘Maybe you should shudup an’ stop doin’ the Mother Theresa act on me. I said I’m fine. Now get outa the way so as I can take my suspect back for questioning’.

‘You’re not goin’ anywhere pal. Not with him you’re not. You take his car an’ drive it back, an’ I’ll see ya there’ and Hutch turned on his heel before Starsky could argue, got into the Torino and drove away, leaving his partner staring after him and carefully stowing away his anger for later. He got into the dark blue Ford, slammed the door and with a tire smoking start headed back to the Metro, cursing under his breath.

When Starsky got back to the familiar stone faced building, he parked the unfamiliar car in the pound and threw the key to the officer in charge, then trotted up the steps and into the squad room. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down just as Hutch walked out of Dobey’s office. The blond nodded to his partner, went around the other side of the desk as Dobey came to his door and spotted the brunet.

‘Starsky, in my office now’ he thundered leaving the cop to look pointedly at his partner. Hutch looked calmly back.

‘You’d better do as the man says’.

Slowly and deliberately, he got up from his desk, walked into the Captain’s office and closed the door behind him.

‘Sit down Starsky’ the big black man started.

‘From the tone of your voice Cap’n, I’m not sure I wanna sit down’.

‘Hmph. I thought I told Hutchinson to tell you to take the rest of the week off’.

‘No, you said I could if I wanted. I don’t want. I need to work’.

‘Does that include knocking a suspect into the middle of next week?’ Dobey said. As well as being madder than hell at his man, he was also worried for the brunet. Starsky may have a hot temper, but he’d never gone off the rails like that. Not with a two bit guy who’d robbed a small jeweler’s store.

‘I got the job done, didn’t I? Oh, I see. Cotton top’s been in here blabbin’ huh? Some partner he turned out to be!’

‘He’s the best goddamned partner you’ll ever have, an’ you know it! What the hell were you playin’ at? The guy might have run, but he didn’t offer any resistance, he was gonna come quietly according to Hutchinson’.

‘According to Hutchinson? Oh great! What else did he tell ya Cap’n? What other tasty little tit bit? Why the hell do I bother huh? Why the hell do…’

‘Shudup Starsky, before you say something you really regret’.

The brunet’s face was red, his blood thundering in his ears and his reason lost in his rage. ‘Don’t tell me to shudup Cap’n. I’m not the one that was in the wrong there. It’s the flakes on the street that were wrong and now there’s one less. So I messed his pretty face up a bit, so what?’

‘So you don’t do that in my precinct’ Dobey yelled back.

‘So what’re ya gonna do, bust my ass down to traffic?’

‘Better than that. You’re suspended until further notice. I’ll have your badge and weapon and….Starsky….STARSKY!’

But the brunet had slammed the requisite items down on the table and had flung open the office door so violently that the hinges were in dire peril. He walked out into the office, ignoring the other men who looked up, wondering what the commotion was and stalked over to Hutch, bending until his face was inches away from the man he’d called brother.

‘Are ya satisfied now buddy! Got what you and that big mouth of yours wanted?’

‘Starsk, there’s only so much I can hide. You near beat his face to a pulp. What was I supposed to do? I’m worried about you, and so’s Dobey. You need help buddy’ Hutch’s blond face showed concern and pain that his friend was so out of control.

Starsky straightened, his hand twitching on the chair back. He walked away, almost running from the squad room down the corridor and swiftly Hutch followed, his long legs narrowing the gap between the two. He caught up with the fleeing brunet and grabbed his arm, swinging him around until Starsky’s back was to the wall. The smaller man drew his fist up ready to strike, but Hutch held it, forcing it too against the wall as he stared into the sparkling indigo eyes.

‘Starsk, what’s happening to you?’

‘Let go of me Hutch. Don’t touch me. Just don’t…..don’t touch me’ Starsky ground out, his voice low and intense. ‘Leave me alone. You got what you wanted. See how it feels to go solo Pal’ and he whipped his arm from Hutch’s grasp and left, leaving the blond to watch the retreating back again, his mouth hanging open at the completely un-Starsky-like behavior.


Starsky got himself ready for his date, trying hard not to think what had gone on at work. He hadn’t heard from Hutch, although the phone had rung once. But when he picked it up, there was silence, and the brunet wasn’t in the mood for games, apologies or long talks. And besides, he was unsure who would apologise to who, still feeling like he was the victim in all of this although he hated feeling this way with his partner. The one thing he wanted right now was his friend and yet Hutch had grassed on him. Hutch had let him down. Dobey had let him down and the whole freakin' legal system had let him down. There was only Starsky could prove to himself that he was still the man he thought he was, although he felt fragile... brittle and somehow dimished by the attack and the shock of the trial. He wanted normality. He wanted things to go back to the way they were before. Maybe he could still prove to himself that he was attractive to women with his date tonight. He needed so much to feel as though he were in control again.

At spot on 7:00 the doorbell rang and he opened it to see Molly, smiling and bearing a pizza and a bottle of wine. Earlier, Hutch had telephoned her just to let her know that Starsky was still a little fragile and not to be alarmed if he seemed distant or didn’t want to talk. He explained that he knew his partner had taken the verdict badly, but didn’t elaborate about what had gone on that morning.

Starsky smiled broadly. ‘Hi honey. C’mon in’.

She stepped into the warm apartment and handed him the food and bottle. ‘So, how have you been? It seems so long since I saw you’ she said, sitting down on the sofa. The brunet put the pizza on a plate and uncorked the wine, pouring a glass for each of them. Bringing them over, he sat down next to her.

‘I missed ya’ he said, nuzzling her neck gently.

She giggled. ‘I missed you too. You look tired, but still good’.

‘I am good’ he whispered.

‘Oh yeah? Before or after pizza?’

‘Any time you like honey’ he told her, starting to unbutton her blouse. She put her hand over his.

‘Maybe in a little while’ she said gently.

‘A little while? What’s the point in waiting? Like ya said, it’s been so long, why wait?’

She edged away a little. This wasn’t her Dave. He seemed different somehow. Hutch had said he was smarting from the trial and she’d expected him to be withdrawn, fragile maybe. She’d come along expecting to give him some solace, maybe with just a little kissing and cuddling to consolidate their relationship, but she was unprepared for this full on romeo act. It made her uncomfortable and just a little scared. He put his hand round her waist and drew her to him, plunging his mouth over hers as she tried to pull back. Her struggles seemed to inflame him and he held her tighter, bruising her side and arm.

Swiftly she pushed him away, unsure now how to react.

‘Dave, no, I said no. Maybe later huh?’ she hedged.

‘To hell with later, what’s wrong with now? You leading me on Moll? C’mere’ Starsky said. This was it, the moment he'd both looked forward to and dreaded. He'd not been with a girl...any girl...since the attack and he felt as though this was his opportunity to prove to Molly - and secretly to himself - that Lewis hadn't somehow emasculated him. He needed to show her how he was still virile. He needed to show her he was in charge. He needed to show her ... him...he needed to prove to himself that he wasn't gay. He needed this so badly.

She looked up into his eyes as she struggled, seeing no love, only fear, confusion and….something else. He bore down on her and she put her hand up. ‘Dave…no, Dave no…..nooooooooooooooooo’.

Chapter 20

Hutch opened his eyes quickly wondering what had roused him from his sleep. He lay in his bed and waited before he heard he knock again and bounced out of his bed. Slipping into his robe, he padded to the door and looked through the spy hole. Hitching a breath at the sight, he opened the door and Molly almost fell into the room and into his arms.

‘Honey? What’s happened? Who did this to you?’ Hutch pushed her gently away and took a look at her bruised face and mussed hair. She’d been crying and the tears were still wet on her face, her eyes red rimmed and swollen.

‘He didn’t mean it’ she sobbed, burying her head once again in the blond’s neck as he shushed her and gently stroked her hair.

‘Who? Who didn’t mean it? Who did….oh God, no. You don’t mean…. Did Starsky do this?’

‘He didn’t mean it Hutch. It’s like you said he’s not himself. He looked at me afterwards and….’ Molly burst into tears again, her hands up to her face and gently Hutch led her to his sofa and sat her down. He was away seconds before bringing her a glass of brandy and making sure she sipped it. Slowly the sobs died down and she wiped her eyes on his hanky.

‘You wanna tell me what happened?’ Hutch asked, once she’d calmed down. ‘Just take your time honey’.

Molly stared at the amber liquid in the glass. Swilling it round and round. ‘OK. Well um…I got to his house just after 7, like I said I would and he was all sweetness and light. Opened the door an’ he was smiling and he liked the wine. I know you’d said he was hiding his reaction to the verdict and I just wanted to help him. So we sat down and I was expecting him just to talk, you know. Maybe be upset and we’d have a little kiss and a cuddle, that sort of thing. But it was like a switch had been thrown and he started coming on to me, like he was some kinda sex maniac. I tried to brush it off…tell him not now, but maybe later. But he wouldn’t take no as an answer’.

She looked at Hutch from red rimmed eyes and he could see her pain at having to “betray” her man. He smiled encouragingly, although all he really wanted to do was go deck his partner. ‘You’re doin’ great hon. Go on’.

‘It was like he was a different guy. Suddenly he was all over me an’ I couldn’t keep him off. I told him no, and tried to push his hands away, but something seemed to switch on in his head and he was like a madman. His hands were all over me and he was almost lying on top of me, so I tried to push him off. And then he hit me. Just once, and I must have screamed coz suddenly he changed. He kinda rolled off me and sat at the side of me and he was whispering that he was sorry over and over again, more like he was trying to convince himself than me. He never looked at me again. And I didn’t give him much chance. I just got my coat and ran, and then I got to the door I looked back and……oh Hutch! He was just still sitting there, looking at his hands. Like he was frozen into the moment’.

‘And are you ok now honey. You could um…..If you needed me to, I could take him in for assault’. The words left him cold, although he was more than mad at Starsky for what he’d done to Molly.

‘Oh God no. I’m ok. It’s Dave I’m worried about. Find him Hutch…..find him and help him. He didn’t mean it, I know he didn’t. It’s like some kind of delayed reaction maybe. Just find him and keep him safe’.

‘What about you though? How’re you gonna be?’ he asked.

‘I’ll be fine, honest. I’m gonna go home and put some ice on this and it’ll be as good as new in the morning’ Molly said lightly. ‘I have my car. I just wanted you to find him and help him’.

Hutch pulled the woman to him and kissed the top of her head gently. ‘You’re a wonderful woman Molly. And one of these days, when he’s better, he’s going to appreciate that. Thanks’.

Hutch watched as Molly got into her car and drove away. What the hell was Starsky playing at? His women had always said he was a tender, loving, gentle lover, not some monster who craved meaningless sex. What was going on in the curly head? And why wouldn’t his partner open up to him and let him know just what Shane Lewis had done to his head, let alone his body. Snagging his keys and unsure what he’d do when he got there, the blond went out to his own car and drove swiftly over to Starsky’s house. There were no lights on when he got there and the door was, for once locked. Hutch banged on the door till his knuckles were raw, but there was no answer and with a few gymnastics, he managed to peek through the brunet’s bedroom window, finding that the bedroom was empty and the bed was tidy and had not been slept in.

Cursing under his breath, Hutch realised that Starsky wasn’t at home although he couldn’t have gone too far, as the Torino was still parked in the driveway, under the shade of the big tree. Hutch sighed and looked around. Ridgeway was not the busiest of thoroughfares and in a mostly residential district, but on the corner of the next block there was a rough and ready kind of bar – the sort that the local wino’s liked to frequent. With a heavy heart, Hutch walked slowly up the street and pushed open the door to the grimy building, looking around the room through the blue haze of cigarette smoke. His nose wrinkled at the familiar sweet and sickly smell of cannabis burning somewhere nearby, but his eyes finally lingered on a curly haired figure by the bar. He walked over quietly.

Once he was within striking range of his target, however, all thoughts of hitting the brunet, or laying into him for what he’d done to Molly flew out the window. Starsky sat hunched over the bar, bottle of bourbon in one hand, glass of brown liquid in the other. His head hung down until the mahogany curls brushed the rim of his glass and his eyes were closed, small tremors shaking his body. Hutch stared. This wasn’t his vibrant, vital partner. This was a shambolic shell of a man, pretending to be Starsky. Gently he put his hand out, resting it on the smaller man’s shoulder.

‘Starsk. what’re you doin’ here?’ he asked over the din of the bar.

In slow motion, Starsky lifted his head, looking around as if seeing his surroundings for the first time. He lifted the glass to his lips, threw back the contents in one and wiped the back of his hand over his mouth. Unsteadily, he lifted the bottle to pour another tumblerful, but Hutch took it from him and set it down further down the bar.

‘Gimme that….s’mine’ the brunet slurred. ‘Wanna drink’.

‘You’ve had a skinful already Gordo. You need to come home’. Hutch said carefully. Starsky’s usually clear eyes looked cloudy and pained and deep lines etched the usually handsome face. His partner seemed to have aged 20 years in a couple of hours and Hutch’s heart lurched as the brunet made a mad swipe for the bottle and missed.

‘Need a drink…..gimme the bottle’ he mumbled, leaning over the bar and teetering on the bar stool.

‘Starsky look at yourself. C’mon buddy, come back home with me. We can talk about this, you need company, not a bottle’.

‘I need….need a drink. Leave me ‘lone Utch. Don’t d’serve friends. Wanna be ‘lone. I hurt her, I know I did. Just shoot me huh? I can’t live like this, I hurt her Hutch an’ she trusted me. Wanna die. Just shoot me’.

‘I’ll shoot ya when you’re back to bein’ Dave Starsky. Right now you’re gonna come home with me’.

‘Noo, I hurt her. Wanna die’.

‘No you don’t. You need to sober up, buddy. Come on, let me get ya outa here’.

Behind him, Hutch felt a hand on his own shoulder. He turned to see a tall, well built black haired man with tattoos up each bare arm. ‘I think the man wants to stay’ the stranger said belligerently.

‘He needs to go home and that where I’m taking him. Back off’ Hutch said angrily, staring up into the big man’s face.

The big guy looked down with a leer. ‘Who’re you? His mother? He don’t wanna go’. The guy drew his fist back and threw a punch at Hutch. The blond ducked below it and drove his fist into the flabby abdomen in front of him, hearing the satisfying wheeze from above him as the man toppled forward, silvery beads of saliva stringing from his mouth as he gasped for air and clutched at his stomach. The noise in the bar had stopped, the rough and ready drinkers attracted by the noise and the promise of a little excitement. En mass, they surged forward and Hutch drew his gun, pointing it into the crowd now surrounding him and his partner. He flicked it at them, finger on the trigger.

‘Back off. I said back off. We don’t want no trouble, I just wanna get my friend back home’.

From the back of the room an unseen, but somehow familiar snide voice sounded loud above the heads of the drinkers.

‘They’re the two faggot cops from the trial on the news. Gonna take your bitch back home now Blondie?’ Shane Lewis called then drew back into the crowd.

Hutch froze in his tracks, feeling Starsky tremble beside him. His eyes scanned the crowd, but whoever had shouted out the comment had disappeared into the seething mass and he had no idea who or where he was looking. Grabbing hold of Starsky round the waist, he dragged his partner from the bar, forcing his way through the crowd to the door. He needed air. He needed to get out of that bar and back to sanity. He needed…..

Hutch looked at the trembling man he was holding tightly on to. The alcohol was still in Starsky’s body, numbing his senses, but it hadn’t been enough to block out the comment. As Hutch pulled him along, he could hear the brunet muttering under his breath.

‘Lewis…..its Lewis…..found me…..fuckin’…..shit’.

‘Ssh buddy. He aint here, it was just some bozo stirring your pot some. C’mon, lets get ya into the car, huh?’ Hutch said as soon as he’d got back to Starsky’s house. He couldn’t bear the thought of the brunet staying alone tonight. He was sick, if not in his body, then in his mind. The physical scars might have healed, but Shane Lewis was still haunting him and until that ghost had been laid to rest once and for all, Hutch vowed to take care of his partner, and to hell with any comments that came their way. He knew the truth. Yes, he and Starsky were closer than most brothers. And yes, they shared something so special that others might think it strange. But they weren’t lovers, never had been, never would be. If anything, they were closer than that.

Hutch bundled the brunet into the car, watching as he collapsed into the seat. Slowly, feeling increasingly weary, Hutch got into the drivers seat, started the engine, and drove back to his apartment. With a struggle, he got Starsky inside and took off his jacket and shoes before making a huge pot of coffee. Pouring a cup, he handed it to the curly haired man.

‘Here. Drink this. It’s better ‘n bourbon’.

‘I don’t wanna drink coffee’ Starsky said into his hands. ‘I wanna forget tonight ever happened’.

‘Aww buddy, you’re still hurting’.

‘Yeah? An’ so’s Molly. I hurt her Hutch. I hurt her so much. Have you seen her? Is she ok? Oh God, she didn’t need to go to the hospital did she?’ Pleading indigo eyes turned on the blond and he shook his head.

‘She bruised some, but nothing serious. And she forgave you Starsk. She loves ya, and she knows you’re hurting. She sent me after you. All I wanted to do was wring your neck, but she was more concerned that you weren’t hurtin’. She’s one in a million buddy’.

‘I know. An’ then I go an’……Shit Hutch. It was like someone threw a switch in my head an’ suddenly I just……it was like I had sumthin to prove……like I needed to prove to myself that he hadn’t……dunno, hadn’t fucked it out of me. Does that make sense? I can’t explain….’

‘Does anythin’ about this whole thing make sense Starsk? What he did to you was beyond evil. Something no-one, woman or man should have to go through. But he did it and now we have to deal with it’.


‘Sure. You, me, Molly, Dobey, Traff. We all care. We all want to help, but it’s like we’re staggerin’ round in the dark, trying to find the way. We need to do something, but we don’t know what’.

Starsky snorted softly. ‘Don’t ask me. I’m the screw up remember? I’m fresh out of ideas’.

‘Well, my first idea is we can’t do nothing while you’ve got a bottle of Jim Beam floatin’ around inside ya. Go to bed, get some sleep an’ we can think in the morning. Take the bed buddy. I got the couch and’ Hutch looked at his watch ‘I have to be up in three hours anyway’.

The brunet rose slightly unsteadily and without argument and deposited the coffee cup on the table. ‘Thanks Blondie’.

‘For what? Poisoning your system with a caffeine overload?’

‘No. For bein’ there. Every damned time’.

‘Yeah, well. Go t’sleep Gordo. We can talk some more tomorrow’.

Starsky smiled. ‘You know, for the first time in months, I feel like I finally got Shane Lewis outa my head and on the run. The punk’s gone. Night Blondie’.

Chapter 21 - and further warning for violence and sexual content

The next morning. Hutch woke early with a pain behind his eyes and a throbbing, nagging headache. Forcing himself to get up of the sofa and groaning quietly as his back muscles unknotted themselves, he staggered to the bathroom and slipped into his old green sweat pants and top. Despite feeling like death warmed over, he felt that a good, early morning run would probably help things along a little. And anyway, why spoil the habit of a lifetime? He did his best thinking when he was out pounding the streets. A mile in five minutes was his usual game, although today, he thought he might do an extra circuit of the park – judging by the state of his partner last night, he had an extra dose of thinking to do before he could figure out how to help his buddy. Fastening his running shoes, he softly closed the door behind him and bounced down the steps. He paused at the doorway and took some deep breaths, stretching up and then bending and stretching his calf muscles before he set of at his usual comfortable lope, down the street and round the corner.

Upstairs in the apartment Starsky was semi aware of his partner moving around the living room and snorted to himself. Trust Hutch! If he was dying, he’d still take his customary run first!

The brunet’s head also ached, but in a way, he welcomed it – due punishment for downing almost three quarters of a bottle of strong liquor the night before. He smiled fondly at the memory of Hutch, gun in hand, defending him in the bar, but his smile faded as he remembered the reason he was in the bar in the first place. Should he call Molly and see if she was really ok? He didn't want to disturb her although he desperately wanted to make certain she was ok. Maybe later. It was early. He knew it was without looking at is watch. Hutch always set off for his jog at 5:55, leaving 10 minutes for the run, then time for his shower and breakfast shake before work. Regular as clockwork! Starsky turned over and pulled the sheet up around his ears. For the first time in such a long time he felt warm and relaxed. Maybe this was it. Maybe it was the beginning of his recovery. He hoped so because he was more than tired of feeling like life was going on around him and he wasn’t part of it. Enjoying the feeling, he snuggled his curly head into the pillow and closed his eyes, sighing contentedly. Later he’d ring Dobey and apologise and maybe next week he’d go back to….

Starsky heard the door to the apartment swing open. Was that Hutchinson a klutz or what? What’d he forgotten this time? His head? Coz if it wasn’t screwed on, he’d sure as eggs were eggs lose it! Ignoring the interruption Starsky tried to get back to sleep knowing Hutch would be mad at himself if he thought he’d woken his partner.

He didn’t hear the soft footfalls coming into the bedroom as he buried his head in the covers, but suddenly they were ripped from him and a heavy weight fell over his body pinning him to the bed. The brunet’s eyes flew open and he opened his mouth to yell, but a rag was quickly stuffed in and held there by duct tape. The weight lifted slightly allowing Starsky to turn his head and stare up into the watery blue eyes of Shane Lewis. His heart hammered and the blood thundered in his ears and Starsky felt as though he were plunging down a long dark tunnel with no end in sight. This couldn’t be happening! This was a nightmare and at any moment he’d wake up from it and be back in the big soft bed. But as Shane took out a small but still deadly pistol he realised the nightmare was in fact, for real. Lewis leered at him from his vantage point perched on the brunet’s chest and slowly, he drew the weapon back and pistol whipped Starsky across the temple with it.

‘That was just a love tap coz I missed ya’ he said with a grin.

The brunet saw stars and his attacker watched gleefully as his victim’s nostrils flared as Starsky tried to draw in sufficient oxygen round the gag. He tossed his head back and forth on the pillow, screwing up his eyes in frustration as the man echoed the movement, landing another crushing blow on the other side of his head. Dimly, he felt the trickle of blood running down the side of his face and the burn of the fire from his wounds. And then he felt Lewis get off of him, although he was weak and disorientated and too fuzzy to take advantage of the sudden freedom.

Lewis took a hold of Starsky’s arms and hauled him roughly from the bed, dragging him out into the living room. With the gag in place, effectively cutting off a lot of his opportunity to breathe, Starsky’s legs were like rubber the pains in his head throbbing in time with his rapidly beating heart, and the horror of the situation made his brain sluggish and slow. This was his worst nightmare come true. Lewis, back for round two and Hutch once again was away. He strangled down a moan and closed his eyes as he felt harsh ropes circle his wrists and tie them together behind his back. He tried to kick out at his attacker, but with only bare feet, and with the shock of the pistol whipping leaving him spacey and sick, Lewis was easily able to dodge out of the way. Shane ploughed his fist into Starsky’s stomach watching as the cop doubled over abruptly.

‘Behave’ he grunted

Starsky fought to keep from throwing up, knowing he’d choke to death with the gag wedged into his mouth. He tried to breathe past the pains, but he was dizzy and disorientated. He felt himself pushed over to the side of the room and then Lewis was behind him again. He felt more rope being pushed through the loop round his wrists, and then a pull on his arms as they were hauled upwards behind him, causing him to lean forward to avoid his shoulders being popped from their sockets. With his arms pulled up and his body bent over at the waist, Shane tied off the rope that was affixed to one of the hooks Hutch used to hang his plants from. How convenient of Hutchinson to provide such a good anchor point!

He stood back and looked at his prisoner, hanging from the rope. Starsky was semi conscious, the lack of oxygen caused by the position he was in and the gag and the pains in his stomach and head leaving him weakened. But more than that; more than the physical pain, was the fear of Lewis; the fear of his predicament, and the fear that his nightmare was about to start all over again. Carefully, Lewis took the tape from the pale, sweating face of his victim and caressed Starsky’s face.

‘Have you missed me? Did you think you’d never see me again?’ he asked. He received no answer, which seemed to annoy him and from his pocket he drew his knife. He cut the cord of the brunet’s pyjama pants and they fell to puddle on the floor as Shane held the knife against the outside of Starsky’s thigh. ‘I didn’t hear ya. Did ya miss me?’

Starsky closed his eyes. The horror was too much and his mind was closing down completely. He said nothing and barely flinched as Lewis drew the knife in a deep red line down towards Starsky’s knee but a low moan escaped his throat as he collapsed forward and the pull on his arms and shoulders increased.

Lewis stood behind him, licking his lips as the blood started to trickle down for the wound, but his ruminations were stopped when he heard the front door bang and footsteps on the stairs coming upwards. Carefully he put the gun to Starsky’s hanging head and stared as the expected blond cop came back through his own front door.

‘Hey Starsk, Guess who I saw while I……’ Hutch shuddered to a halt as he took in the picture before him. His partner tightly bound and hanging from the ceiling, a gun at his head as Shane Lewis leered at him.

‘I’m not sure he wants to know just at the moment, Detective. Or can I call you Hutch. After our time together in the trial, I feel like I know ya so much better now’.

‘Let him go, punk’ Hutch snarled.

‘Or what? Seems like I hold the winning hand Hutch. One wrong move and I blow his brains out. An’ it’d be such a shame to waste that pretty curly head. Now, nice an’ gentle I want you to bring that chair over, put it there an’ sit down. No fancy moves huh?’

Hutch looked around, seeing the hard wooden chair he’d been directed to. Seeing no other way than to co-operate for the moment, he slowly reached for the chair and placed it where directed.

‘Good. Now sit down’ Shane told him.

Hutch sat down stiffly, his eyes still on his partner. Starsky hadn’t moved and seemed almost insensate, blood trickling down his face and his right leg.

‘Starsk. You ok buddy?’ Hutch asked softly. There was no answer and the brunet continued to sway at the end of the rope, his head hanging down and the muscles in his bound arms standing out like cords from the strain of the position. ‘What’ve ya done at him?’ Hutch spat at Lewis.

‘Nuthin yet. I wanted to wait till we had an audience. He’s so cute when he moans ya know. Like he wants more an’ more. Aint that right, Starsky?’ and he leaned down and licked up the length of the brunet’s exposed flank.

Hutch made a move, trying to jump the rapist, but Shane saw it and immediately he had the gun to Starsky’s head again. ‘I told ya, one wrong move an’ I hurt him. Now this is what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna sit there like a good little cop an’ you’re gonna watch. An’ for every move ya make, or sound ya make, or every time ya look away, I’m gonna hurt him some more. Ya got that?’

Hutch said nothing, but stared back at Lewis. The madman took his blade and dug it into Starsky’s back, the tip drawing a ruby droplet of blood to the surface. The brunet flinched, his body swaying more rapidly on the end of the rope, but he made no sound.

‘Yeah, yeah, I got it’ Hutch said quickly. ‘Just don’t hurt him huh?’

‘Hurt? Nooo. He likes it, don’t ya bitch?’ Shane grinned, running his hands down Starsky’s back and down, between his legs. He took hold of the brunet’s exposed balls and pulled down savagely on them. Starsky screamed, his body jangling on the end of the rope as Lewis laughed. ‘See, its more fun when you’re vocal’ he said, yanking playfully again. ‘I missed that with the drugs. No chance for….what d’they call it?...interaction’. His hand wandered northwards and his finger stopped over the brunet’s anus, dipping slightly into the opening.

‘Have you had some of this Hutch? Have you felt how tight his ass is? Ya want some now? Huh?’

‘You’re a sick bastard Lewis’ Hutch snarled, his hands balling into fists by the side of the chair.

Lewis jammed the whole of his finger inside the brunet’s body savagely as Starsky groaned pitifully. ‘Oh now what did I say about shutting the fuck up? Ya want me to hurt him some more? Coz believe me, I’m not even started yet. You cops think you’re so clever, so cute. Well I’m gonna show ya. I’m gonna make sure neither of ya police these streets ever again. Frame ya, like I orchestrated my defense. They’re gonna find the two of ya. Him hanging dead with his ass reamed open an’ you with his blood all over. An’ with what I got ‘em believin’ at trial, they’re just gonna think it’s two more sick fags that’s played too kinky an’ to hard’

‘You’re a sick son-of-a-bitch Lewis. They’ll find ya. They’ll hunt ya down and find ya and lock you up an’ throw away the key’ Hutch yelled. ‘NOO. For fucks sake leave him alone’ he finished as Lewis cut another bloody furrow next to the first on Starsky’s leg. The brunet didn’t even seem to notice the new wound and made no sound.

Shane grunted, slapping at the brunet’s bare back and flanks. ‘And now for the finale. You’re gonna really enjoy watchin’ me fuck his brains out. And then maybe, when I’ve had enough you might want a turn?’

Shane moved around until he could position himself behind Starsky while still watching Hutch. He lowered his zip and put his hands on the smaller man’s hips to draw him towards him. Hutch stared in sick fascination, afraid to look away and afraid to witness his friend’s debasement as Shane prepared himself. He saw the rapists cock spring up, turgid and ready and push itself against the brunet when suddenly the heavy, thick silence in the room was cut through by the ringing of the telephone. The bell rang only once, but it was enough for there to be a split second where Shane looked up.

Hutch seized his chance and sprang forward knocking the madman off his feet. Shane yelled once then started to grapple with the blond cop on the ground, in and around the bare feet of the bound brunet. Over and over they rolled on the polished floor, each trying to get the upper hand, and use their body weight to their advantage. What Shane had in height, Hutch made up for in agility and training and he saw the knife flash down, clipping his upper arm before he grabbed for it. He caught the blade rather than the handle, but he clung on regardless, feeling the cold metal cutting into the flesh of his palm and fingers. Lewis shrieked his anger and frustration into the air and launched another attack against the flaxen haired cop, trying to rip his blade from Hutch’s hand. The blond grunted in pain, but still hung on, the knife sandwiched now between their bodies as they glared at each other, face to face, the strain showing in their eyes as a silent battle of strength ensued.

Hutch felt the tremble in his arms as lactic acid started to build in his muscles. He didn’t know how much longer he could hold on, but above him, he heard another faint moan from his partner. The sound spurred him on and with once final convulsive thrust, he felt the knife connect with something, although in his frenzy he couldn’t tell whether the flesh it had plunged into was his own or Shane’s. It wasn’t until he felt the body beneath him go limp that he relaxed a little and he managed to roll over, seeing Lewis’ body fall to the ground, the knife sticking out obscenely from the rapists throat, and his watery blue eyes staring sightlessly upwards.

With trembling hands, Hutch managed to pull the blade out and crawl over to his partner, cutting the rope that hung him from the ceiling before falling semi conscious to the ground on top of Starsky’s unconscious body.

Chapter 22

Hutch opened his eyes slowly and groaned. His body felt like he’d just completed 12 rounds with Mohammed Ali and had most definitely come off worst from the encounter. He felt something hard and lumpy beneath him and then reality finally checked in and gave him a big fat “hi” and he managed to lever himself up and off of his partner’s still unconscious body and look blearily around him.

The blond put his left hand down on the round to help him sit up and immediately yelped in pain, drawing the offending appendage back and staring at the long gaping wound across his palm, it’s twin decorating the pads of his fingers, showing just how hard and for how long he’d gripped the blade of Shane Lewis’ knife in his desperation to stop him using it to kill him. Blood dripped down to his finger tips, but not all of it was from his hand. Looking further up his arm, there was a large, neat three corner tear on his sleeve and through it Hutch could see that’s there too he’d born the brunt of Lewis’ knife wielding antics and that wound would require stitching too.

He checked Starsky’s body, lying still on the floor. The brunet lay where he’d fallen after Hutch had managed to cut him down and now he looked for all the world like a Marionette with it’s strings cut; a broken doll cast to one side once it’s owner had gotten a new toy to play with. Hutch pushed his fingers against the olive toned neck and waited, relieved that he could feel the steady beat of his partner’s heart, slow and steady and constant. Starsky’s eyes were closed but he breathed deeply and evenly and now, with difficulty, Hutch staggered to his feet and wobbled into his kitchen to get a knife of his own to cut the bonds still holding the brunet’s wrists together behind his back.

The fibres of the thick hemp twine parted and Starsky’s arms fell forward, although the brunet made no acknowledgment of the fact, his eyes remaining tightly closed. Hutch took one wrist in his hands, gently rubbing back the circulation with his uninjured right hand.

‘Starsk? Wake up buddy. It’s all over. The bad guy bought it. Lewis is dead. C’mon Starsky wake up huh?’

There was no answer from the unconscious brunet and Hutch looked critically at his buddy. There were two long wounds running down the outside of his leg, from hip almost to his knee and another puncture wound on the muscular back, a bright red wound mingled amidst the fading pink lines from Lewis’ last attempts at carving into the smaller man. There were also contusions on both sides of Starsky’s head, both bleeding where the torn skin overlay large purple bruises, the legacy of the muzzle of Lewis’ gun ripping into him in the aftermath of the pistol whipping. It was those wounds that worried the flaxen haired cop most and now, he stood up and caught a hold of his phone, punching the numbers as he leaned weakly on his kitchen counter top. Over the top of the small breakfast bar he saw the plant that had been hanging from the hook in the ceiling before Lewis had put it to a more macabre use. The flake had flung it down and now Wanda, Hutch’s favourite fern lay in a mess of dirt on the tile floor, her pot smashed.

And seeing that brought irrational tears to the blond cop’s eyes. Thus far, throughout the whole affair of his buddy being attacked and raped; through the hellish trial; through the veiled comments in the squad room after and through the brunet’s highs and lows, Hutch had remained strong. He was the rock, the anchor to which Starsky could cling when things got too tough in the outside world. He’d endured the shouts, the threats, the tears of frustration, the manic highs and the troughs of despondency that his partner had travelled and all the time he’d been alone. And he’d handled it, using his running and the gym to work off his anxieties and troubles and sometimes letting his girlfriend Mia shoulder some of the burden. But now, seeing the dumb plant in pieces on the floor was the final straw – the one that broke his back and before he could finish punching in the numbers to get help, he broke down. The months of being the rock had finally taken their toll and Hutch put his head in his hands and sobbed for the life he’d had before this and for his buddy lying unconscious on his living room floor.

Hutch allowed himself the luxury of breaking down for a mere minute or so before his practical side kicked in again and once more he was Mr Fixit. He wiped his hand down his face, smearing the salt tears away angrily.

C’mon Hutchinson, get with the programme. Starsky needs help….well you need help too, but see to him first, like you always do. See to Starsky and things’ll be fine.

Picking up the phone again, he punched in the numbers asking for the cops, an ambulance and a coroners wagon to his apartment on Venice Place. And then he waited by the side of his buddy for the fifteen quiet minutes until he house became another hive of activity, bodies rushing here and there as Shane Lewis’ body was tagged and bagged and taken away and Dobey had had a chance to speak briefly to him. Hutch outlined what he’d found when he got back from his run as the ambulance personnel worked over the brunet’s body.

‘Well he won’t be botherin’ anyone any more’ the Captain observed wryly as he stood to one side for the coroner’s green uniformed men to take Shane away.

‘No, but he caused enough damage here’ Hutch mumbled, looking over the man’s shoulder at his partner. The ambulance men were loading him onto a stretcher to take him to the hospital and Dobey grunted.

‘Go with him. You need to get your wounds seen to too. I’ll check in with ya later’ the black man grunted. ‘And Hutchinson…..you did good!’

Hutch travelled in the back of the ambulance with his partner down to the hospital. It seemed to the blond that this was where it all really began – with that fateful interview with Donna. It seemed oddly fitting that Starsky should end up back there almost as though he’d gone full circle and the big cop hoped that this would form some sort of closure for his buddy and allow him to recover and get back to being himself.

They separated in the ER. Starsky was whisked away into a small side room while Hutch was ushered into a small curtained cubicle to have his hand cleaned and stitched. He sat on the edge of the small bed, back bowed in weariness as around him nurses and orderlies busied themselves with the business of the day. The doctor came and examined his hand and he was sent for x-rays to ensure there were no foreign bodies in the wounds and then, an hour and three pain killers later, he was finally back, sitting on a hard seat and with his arm outstretched on a pillow for support as a brusque matronly nurse deftly inserted twenty five tiny stitches into his hand and another seven into the wound on his arm. Fortunately they had all been clean and once they’d been bandaged and he’d been given antibiotics and pain meds, he was free to go see to his partner.

Starsky too had had x-rays, and now he was lying on a small bed in the side room waiting for the next battery of tests. It had been three hours since they’d come to the ER and as Hutch walked into the small room, he saw that his partner’s eyes were now open.

‘Hi buddy’ he smiled as he walked towards the bed, but he was intercepted by an older man wearing a white coat and thick, horn rimmed glasses. Hutch recognised him immediately.

‘Dr Franklin! How’s he doin’?’ Hutch asked automatically.

‘I’ve seen him better’ the doctor retorted. ‘Shall we go outside?’

Hutch followed with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He’d seen that look on the doctor’s face before and didn’t like what it usually meant. As the door to the small room closed Hutch went for the jugular.

‘Go on, tell me what damage that punk caused this time’ he snapped. His patience was at a low ebb and he’d so wanted to see his friend awake and partially recovered and well enough to go home.

‘I’ve read David’s notes and your Captain Dobey was good enough to fill me in with what has been going on and what he’s been subjected to, so I have some background on him’.

‘Yeah, he’s had a bad time’ Hutch agreed softly. ‘Is he ok? Can I take him home now?’

Franklin shook his head. ‘David’s had a traumatic time. He’s not reacting normally at the moment and we’re checking certain things out first. He needs some time to readjust’.

‘You’re saying he has some sort of injury to his head maybe. Lewis hit him pretty hard. Oh my God….he didn’t cause…..its not…?’

‘No Detective, he doesn’t have brain damage. Not in the formal sense of the word. He has something we call post traumatic stress syndrome. It’s common in those experiencing or witnessing an event perceived as life-threatening such as adult experiences of sexual assault’.

‘But he’s been through tough times before and not been like that. What’s different this time?’ Hutch asked, casting another glance through the window and the still form on the bed. ‘And the brain damage? You said “not in the formal sense of the word”. What’s that supposed to mean?’

‘PTSS is unlike other “psychiatric” problems. It has two criteria. The first requires that the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of himself. The second requires that the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. I’d say that being raped and then being confronted by the distinct possibility of the rapist repeating the crime qualified David for both those criteria. And again unlike other illnesses of the mind, PTSS actually has a physical effect on the brain. Combat veterans of the Vietnam war with PTSS showed an 8 percent reduction in the volume of their hippocampus of their brain in comparison with veterans who suffered no such symptoms.We are not entirely sure of the precise role of the hippocampus, but, in general, we agree that it has an essential role in the formation of new memories about experienced events. What we call episodic or autobiographical memory’.

‘So you’re saying he suffering some kind of mental breakdown?’ Hutch said, feeling more panicked by the minute.

‘No, not breakdown exactly. But at the moment David is locked away inside his head. He’s desperately trying to come to terms with what’s happened to him over these past months and all his energy is going into that. You’ll find him non responsive at the moment. Although as a close personal friend you may get more reaction out of him than we’ve been able to do’. Dr Franklin looked at the panicked blond. ’Don’t worry. It won’t last for ever, but he’ll need patience. My recommendation at the moment is that we admit him for psychiatric evaluation and let the experts help him’.

‘What? Psychiatric….You mean Cabrillo! No! I…..no there’s no way on God’s green earth that I’d send him there. He’s gonna come home with me. Don’t you think he’s been through enough without goin’ some place like that?’

‘I think that what’s best for your friend is a series of tests in a professional facility and by knowledgeable doctors. And that means yes, Cabrillo’.

‘No, no way. I’m taking him home with me. What he needs are friends around him, not faceless goons with their needles and drugs’ Hutch yelled.

Franklin took a hold of Hutch’s shoulder. ‘Detective’ he said softly. ‘I know you and your partner are close, but don’t you think you’ve been through enough yourself? This isn’t going to be easy you know. And you need to rest too’.

‘I’ll rest when he’s better. M’sorry Doc. I didn’t mean to yell. Its’ just……when can I take him? Is he ready to go yet?’

‘No we need to run some more tests and some bloodwork. You can wait with him if you like. He may respond to you being there’.

The blond nodded and walked into the quiet room. Starsky was still led on the bed, exactly where Hutch had seen him minutes earlier. He hadn’t moved a muscle and it was as though he hadn’t even breathed. Hutch sat down gently by the side of the bed, his arm and hand pulsing in time to the quickening beats of his heart. He felt the pull of the sling around his neck as he leaned forward.

‘Hey buddy. How’re ya doin’?’

The brunet continued to stare straight up at the ceiling, no recognition in the indigo eyes which once sparkled with mirth but were now dull and lifeless. The nurses had made a pretty good job of cleaning him up and now there was only a slight speckling of dried, rust coloured blood down the sides of the handsome face. The majority had been wiped away and the two wounds, almost symmetrical in appearance on either temple had been closed with stitches and covered with white dressings. They framed the lifeless eyes and leeched colour from them, leaving the brunet’s face tinged with a grey/blue wash which wasn’t helped by the soft neon blue light over the bed.

‘I’m right here Starsk. They just need to fix your leg and then we’re outa here Ok? Maybe take ya by Joes for a nice chilli dog with everythin’? Huh?’

A nurse came into the room with a metal tray of implements. She smiled at the two men.

‘We just need to slip some stitches into the wounds on your leg honey’ she said to the man on the bed. ‘Will you let me do that for you?’ She received no reply and set about her preparations. Hutch took a hold of Starsky’s hand as he saw the woman prepare the needle of Lidocaine and looked away. God he hated needles! And so did his buddy, but as the woman pushed the metal repeatedly into the margins of the wounds there was still no response from Starsky; no flicker of the eyes or squeeze of Hutch’s hand. Nothing to indicate that the brunet felt anything at all, or was aware of what was going on.

Hutch continued to talk to him as the nurse inserted the long lines of stitches into the smaller mans leg, then wound a white bandage around the limb and cleaned up the detritus on the bed. ‘He'll need to come back in 10 days to have then removed’ she said as she smiled and left.

‘Ya hear that buddy? We get to come back an’ see Florence Nightingale again’. Hutch whispered as the woman departed. ‘Aww c’mon Starsk. Gimme a sign here. Just something to let me know you’re ok buddy. It’s all over. He’s gone. He won’t ever get you or anyone ever again. It’s finished’.

Indigo eyes continued to stare upwards but very gently, Hutch felt an answering pressure on his hand, indicating that at least on one level, his buddy understood.

Chapter 23

Hutch opened the door to Starsky’s apartment and ushered the smaller man in. He’d chosen not to go back to his own place, thinking that the memories of his experience would be too fresh for the curly haired cop and also that familiar surroundings might jolt him out of his current state.

And what a state!

Starsky was able to walk, albeit with a heavy limp due to the thirty or so stitches in his leg. He was able to see and hear, but that seemed to be the extent of his capabilities. It was as though the blond man was accompanied by a zombie as Starsky limped slowly up the stairs and through his own front door, stopping just inside the doorway. Hutch took a hold of the brunet’s arm, expecting a flinch, or for his buddy to jump or show some emotion. But Starsky remained impassive as he had throughout the whole of the medical procedures he’d endured at the hospital. Gone were the wisecracks, the flirting with the nurses, the whinging at yet more needles being deployed. Hutch had watched Starsky submit as the nurse drew blood and stitched him without even a flicker of his eyes.


No reaction.

Now the blond steered his buddy over to the sofa and sat him down. Starsky stayed put, making no attempt to sit back or make himself comfortable and with a sigh Hutch reached around and tugged at a cushion, wedging it behind Starsky’s back.

‘Here, lean back buddy. That’s it. Let’s make ya comfy huh?’

The brunet moved himself marginally back on the seat, listless eyes focussed on a point somewhere in the middle distance. With a struggle, Hutch pulled the coffee table closer until he could take off Starsky’s sneakers and put red socked feet up onto the table top. ‘That make you leg feel easier? It must hurt some. Have you got any pain on it? Starsk? You want a pill yet?

Very slowly the curly head shook once. Taking it that that meant his buddy was comfortable for the time being Hutch turned his attention to food.

‘You want a drink? Maybe something to eat?’ Hutch opened the fridge, scanning the mostly empty shelves for something vaguely edible. ‘OK, well….um. We could send out for pizza. You want a pizza buddy? One of those great ones from the take out round the corner? Near the….’

There was a vague flicker of the pale skin around indigo eyes as Hutch was about to mention the bar. The bar where he’d rescued Starsky after his catastrophic night with Molly. It had been less than 48 hours ago and yet it felt like a lifetime.

‘Or I could scramble up some eggs’ the blond ploughed on bravely. ‘How’s that huh? Scrambled eggs an’ some toast. I’ll cut it into soldiers for ya’.

With no further response forthcoming, Hutch ran his hand through his flaxen hair, feeling a steady throb of pain start up behind his eyes. Starsky may not need any pain meds right now, but Hutch’s hand was throbbing in time with his heart beat and felt as though his blood would burst out through his finger tips at any moment. Quietly, he took the small brown bottle from his back pocket and tried to flip the top off one handed. He couldn’t get leverage and he jammed the tiny bottle between his knees, hoping for more purchase that way. But the bottle was shiny and slippery and too small to hold still and finally he cursed and gave up and walked over to the living room. He held out the bottle to the smaller man.

‘Starsk, can ya open the bottle for me? Starsky? The bottle Gordo, I need a pill’.

He sat down by the side of his friend and put the small bottle in Starsky’s hand, curling the fingers around it. Slowly the brunet’s eyes lowered until he was looking at the object now in his grip.

‘I need a pill Starsk, an’ I can’t open the goddamned bottle. Help me out buddy?’

The brunet continued to stare at the bottle as if wondering just how it had managed to appear in his hands. In slow motion, the curly haired cop took hold of the lid and unscrewed the bottle top and sat with the lid in one hand and the bottle in the other. Carefully, so as not to startle him Hutch took the bottle and shook out a couple of white tablets. He handed it back to Starsky, placing it in the curled fingers.

‘Thanks buddy. You can put the top back on it now’.

‘Your hand?’ the brunet whispered, looking as if for the first time at Hutch’s bandaged hand held close to him in the white sling.

‘Yeah, it’s cut up. I cut it when I fought with Lewis’.


‘Shane Lewis. Remember…..the fight…..in my house. He…..’

‘He hurt ya’ Starsky said slowly, as though considering the point and his hand went out to trail gently over the white bandages.

‘He hurt you too buddy. Your leg’ Hutch said, feeling a sudden rush of warmth now that Starsky was talking again, even if it was slow and hesitant. The blond heaved a sigh. He could handle pain, headaches, cuts…..anything so long as Starsky was walking and talking and generally being …..well, Starsky.

‘Leg?’ the curly haired man looked quizzically.

‘Yeah, remember? They stitched it at the hospital. Remember the hospital buddy?’

‘Um….yeah. Hurts’.

‘Uh huh. Hospitals always hurt Starsk. You always say that. Every time.

‘Hospitals hurt…..yeah’.

‘Are you hungry Pal? Can I get ya anything?’ Hutch asked, dry swallowing the pills. Somehow his headache didn’t seem quite so bad now that his partner was showing signs of life.


‘You don’t know if you’re hungry, or you don’t know if you want something to eat?’

‘Dunno’ Indigo eyes looked up from below thick dark lashes, checking out to see if Hutch was mad or not. They caught the crystal gaze, then skittered away to stare steadily back at his hands again.

‘Ok buddy. Well one step at a time. Why not go an’ get comfortable. Maybe a sleep will make you feel right. How’s that?’

Again, the ocean blue eyes lifted briefly, almost shyly as though not wanting to attract attention and the hands fluttered on the curly haired cop’s lap, but there was no other movement and gently, Hutch stood and held out his hand to his friend.


He stooped and took a hold of the slim hand, helping Starsky to his feet. ‘Go an’ get ready for bed. I’ll bring you some tea huh? Help ya go to sleep’. Hutch pushed him gently in the direction of the bedroom and went to busy himself in the kitchen. It was tough going doing everything one handed and reminded him of the time Arty Solken had planted the bomb in the trunk of his car. Just one more flake who’d taken it as a personal quest to hurt both of the cops one way or the other.

Tea brewed and with cup in hand. Hutch threaded his way back to Starsky’s bedroom, his mind still back with the car bomb. He pushed open the door with his toe and walked in, coming to a shuddering halt two strides into the room. He’d thought that his partner would be ok getting ready for bed, but as he looked up from the cup in his hand, he saw that the brunet had walked into the room and stood stock still. Starsky seemed to be staring at the floor, his hands hanging limply at his sides, his shoulders slumped as if in defeat.

Hutch put the cup down and walked over to the confused man.


No response.

‘Starsk, buddy. What’re ya doin?’

Slowly the brunet looked up and locked his eyes on the big blond.

‘Dunno……I can’t…..Hutch?’

‘Yeah, right here pal’.

‘Hutch…..what’s wrong wi’ me?’ Starsky looked down at his body, pulling at his tee shirt.

‘Aww Starsk. You were in the hospital. Remember. We talked about this. You were at my house an’ Shane Lewis came back. Remember that? He….well, I got there, an’ me an’ him fought and he’s dead’.


‘Yeah, don’t you remember?’

‘No’ the word came out in a frightened whisper and the sable haired cop put his hands up to his face.

‘C’mon buddy. Get yourself ready for bed. You’ll feel better after you’ve slept’ I hope Hutch added in his head. He started to pull at Starsky’s tee shirt, tugging it free of the jeans belt and suddenly the smaller man took a hold of his bandaged hand.

‘He hurt ya’.

‘Yeah. We already covered this. There was a knife and…..Look, just get into bed an’ sleep huh? We can talk tomorrow maybe. When you feel better’.

Like an automaton, the brunet started to remove his clothes, stripping down to his boxers as Hutch picked up the jeans and tee shirt from the floor and dumped them on the chair in the bedroom. He watched as the smaller man sat down on the edge of the bed, almost completing the instructions, but not quite.

‘Put you legs up Gordo, into….’ His further instructions were interrupted by the telephone and Hutch cursed under his breath. ‘Get into bed Starsk, I’ll be right back’.

Hutch trotted into the living room and picked up the phone. ‘Yeah’.


Hutch closed his eyes. No, not this, not now. He had no energy for more explanations. ‘Hi Rachel, no, its not Star….Dave, it’s Ken’. There was an edge of panic in the elderly woman’s voice and Hutch knew she’d found out something from somewhere.

‘Ken, where’s Davey? Is he ok? Rosey phoned. She heard on the news that a Bay City cop had been attacked for the second time in three months. It’s my Davey isn’t it? What’s the schmok done at him this time?’

‘He’s ok, Rachel. He’s ok, not badly hurt. They cut him some, but he’s not in the hospital. He’s home and he’s…..’

‘Ken you always were a terrible liar. I can hear it in your voice’.

‘No, honest, he’s at home right now’ Hutch continued.

‘But. There was a but there. Can I speak to him? Is he really ok?’ Rachel persisted.

‘Well he was going to bed and….’

‘Ken tell me’.

Hutch held the phone away from his ear, eyes squeezed closed. What was he supposed to say? How was he supposed to explain? When the news of the first trial had hit the headlines, Rachel had taken the news of the rape hard – almost too hard. The shock had caused a huge angina attack and Rosey had had to drop everything and travel north to be with her sister. The flaxen haired cop didn’t want a repeat performance of that, but at the same time, and from experience he knew he couldn’t hide a damned thing from the small, erudite woman.

‘He’s in shock Rachel. I’ve never seen him like this, it’s like he’s closed down somehow’.

‘What do you mean?’ she asked, her voice low and careful.

‘He won’t talk to me. It’s like he’s…he’s…..he’s locked inside himself’ Hutch’s stammer told Rachel just how concerned her sons’ best buddy was.

‘Can I talk to him? she asked

‘You can try. But I don’t say I didn’t warn ya’. He punched the button for the extension and put the receiver down, picking the extension in the bedroom up a moment later. Starsky was lying on the bed, on his back, his hands twiddling fitfully with the edge of the sheet.

‘Starsk, its your Mom’ Hutch said gently, holding out the phone. The brunet stopped his fiddling with the cotton, but didn’t look up. ‘Starsk…..buddy, your Mom wants to say hi’ Hutch persisted and placed the receiver in his friend’s hand. Starsky held on to it an slowly put it to his ear.

‘Ma?’ he whispered.

Hutch could hear the woman’s voice at the other end of the line, and once or twice Starsky would mumble a yes, or no. But at the end of the call, he merely lay with the phone still to his ear, long after he’d muttered a final ‘Bye Ma’.

Hutch took the receiver and listened. Rachel was still on the line. He sat down on the edge of the bed and sghed.

‘It’s Ken again’ he spoke into the phone.

He could tell that the small woman was trying to keep tears at bay.

‘What have they done to my boy? What did they do Ken? What happened?

‘Nothing good Rachel, nothing good’ he replied wearily.

‘Get them. Whoever did this, get them Ken. Get them and put them away’ she commanded, a hitch in her voice.

‘Already did. I took care of it Rachel. The bastard’s dead’.

‘And may his soul rot in Hell! Do you want me to come down and help you take care of him….my Davey?’

‘No, I can take care of him’ Hutch said, trying to convince himself as much as Starsky’s Mom.

‘But you need help…he needs help. Do you have someone you can call on, someone who’ll know how to help you?’ she asked.

‘Yeah. I have someone. Remember Traff – Starsky’s army buddy?’

He heard a sigh on the other end of the phone. ‘Yes. Such a good boy! And so are you Ken. Look after him, and look after yourself. I’ll ask Rosey to send by some chicken soup’.

‘NO….no, no that’s fine Rachel’ Hutch said hurriedly. Having once had a dose of Rosey’s chicken soup when he’d had a head cold, he knew he couldn’t inflict that on his suffering partner. ‘I’ll phone Traff. We’ll handle it’.

‘Tell my boy I love him’.

‘Will do. Bye Rachel’

Hutch put down the phone and sighed. Starsky lay, eyes closed and still, but the blond knew he wasn’t asleep. He patted his buddy’s shoulder.

‘Try an’ rest Starsk. We’ll get through this…promise!’

Chapter 24

Early the next morning, the soldier let himself into the dark apartment and looked around. He knew immediately that Hutch was in residence and that Starsky was sick. Clothes were strewn around the floor, a cold pizza sat on the coffee table and an empty bottle of beer lay on its side on the floor. The brunet would never have left it so untidy! A mess of wheaten coloured hair poked out from the top of a blue blanket and one white socked foot protruded from the other end of the sofa. The rest of the large blond body lay slumped uncomfortably across the seats of the sofa and a gentle snore indicated that somehow Hutch had managed to get some sleep.

Traff walked over and pinched the toe, standing back as Hutch shot up from the depths of the makeshift bed like a catapult.

‘Mornin’ he said laconically as the blond slithered to the floor, panting.

‘Shit Traff! Give a guy a heart attack why don’t ya?’

‘Sorry’ the curly haired soldier responded with a grin. ‘So where’s Curly?’

‘In the bedroom tryin’ to sleep’.

‘And you?’

‘Well I slept in between handlin’ his nightmares. Three in one night Traff. It aint good. An’ when he’s awake he’s quiet, uncommunicative. Almost as though for most of the time he isn’t here. Except for when I found him in the shower. I must have drifted off coz I woke up an’ the bathroom door was open. The shower was goin’ full tilt and when I looked in he was stood under the water scrubbing at himself with the nail brush. Damn near tore some of his stitches on his leg. I had to fight with him to get him outa there an’ back to the bedroom. He was yellin’ and struggling like he was still fightin’ Lewis. Then when he got back to bed he just lay like a doll while I re-dressed his leg’.

The emerald eyes regarded him calmly. ‘It’s been less than 48 hours Hutch. Give him time. He’s been through a lot. And so have you Chief. You look like shit. Look. I’m here now. I had some leave coming so my CO said I could take it all at once. I have a month. Enough time for you, him an’ maybe we can have a vacation at the end of it huh? Just go ‘n’ get some proper shut eye. Things’ll look so much better when you’re fresh an’ you aren’t lookin’ at stuff through a haze of caffeine’.

Gratefully Hutch nodded and sank back down onto the sofa, pulling the blanket up round his ears. ‘Well maybe just another hour. And then like ya say, things’ll be better’.

Within minutes Hutch’s breathing had assumed the quiet regularity of sleep and Traff padded into the bedroom to look at his old army buddy. Starsky was awake and as Traff walked in, his eyes slid sideways, seeing the tall curly haired soldier before sliding away and closing.

‘Hey Curly. We gotta stop meetin’ like this! How’re ya doin’ buddy? I hear the flake gave you a return visit’ he watched the eyes narrow and the pained look flow over the handsome bruised face. ‘It’s over Chief. It’s really over ya know. He aint comin’ back, Hutch saw to that. Now it’s up to you. Ya gotta fight this Curly. Fight your way back. Curly? Ya with me?’

Slowly Starsky’s eyes opened and fixed on his long time friend. He regarded him steadily, but said nothing.

‘Are ya tired, or do ya wanna get up? Hutch is in the other room, giving it the zzzs, but we can get breakfast. Ya want breakfast? No? Bet ya do. I never seen you not hungry. C’mon. Get up an’ get dressed’ he tugged the bedclothes back and stood up but was disconcerted when the brunet didn’t move. He’d seen this before. With soldiers that had come back from some frontline war zone. Shell shock they called it, but it didn’t need to be war that set up these reactions. He sighed, remembering those other blank eyes. They seemed to have become lost their in own minds, reacting only to spoken commands. Something to give them direction and purpose without them having to think. Bracing himself he fixed his buddy with a hard stare.

‘Get dressed Dave. Get dressed and come out into the living room’.

The direction still met with a blank look and Traff resorted to handing the curly haired cop his jeans, tee shirt and a clean pair of boxers.

‘Put those on, then come out into the living room’ he said again, firmly, hating himself as he saw his friend begin to obey. He waited until Starsky started to shoulder mechanically into his tee shirt and then he went out into the living room himself.


Over the next few of days, the two men tried everything they could think of to try to shake the curly haired cop out of his self imposed exile. Games meant nothing, when the television was on the brunet spent most of the time staring at the wall rather than at the screen and music jut didn’t seem to register at all. They had taken to virtually commanding him to do everything from eating and drinking to taking a shower and sleeping. They fed him, they clothed him, they set out his clothes after his shower and they made sure he took his antibiotics and pain med even though Starsky never mentioned the pain he must have been in. After the shower that first night and the damage he did to his stitches, the twin wounds became red and swollen and some of the stitches had torn. But neither Hutch nor Traff wished to subject the smaller man to another trip to the ER and so with Hutch holding Starsky’s shoulders, Traff set to and replaced five of the thirty closures that had been torn. Fortunately, being a field medic and trained advanced first aider came with the territory for the bomb disposal Major and so he managed to perform the task with little or no trauma. In fact, throughout the procedure, Starsky stared straight ahead and made no sound.

At the end of the eighth day, once they’d made sure Starsky had washed and taken his pills and gotten himself into bed, Hutch and Traff sat down in the brunet’s living room and cracked open a six pack of beers. There had been no change in the curly haired man’s condition and Starsky still needed them to tell him what to do and when to do it. Even though there were now two of them caring for the curly haired cop, it was exhausting mentally to watch a once vital and virile guy reduced to a human mechanism and both Traff and Hutch were feeling the strain.

‘I hate seeing him like this. I don’t know what else to do’ Hutch said, lying back and resting his head on the back of the chair. He and Traff had slept on a rota basis so that there was always one of them free to see to Starsky when he woke during one of his frequent nightmares and so at least the blond felt a little more rested, although he was worried beyond description about his best friend and felt useless and out of control.

‘I’ve seen guys worse’ the soldier admitted, taking a deep chug of beer ‘but not many, and usually after they’ve been held captive or tortured’.

‘Lewis certainly had fun with him’.

‘Uh huh. I can see that. Bastard!’

Hutch sighed. ‘What can I do? What can we do? I feel like I want to shake him and yell at him to snap out of it. But then I look at him with that confused look in his eyes an’ I can’t’

‘Maybe you should’ Traff said softly.

‘What? Hurt him some more? No, I couldn’t!’

‘No, not hurt him exactly, but get him to snap out of it. Get him to face his fears’ Traff said, sitting up straighter in his chair.

‘Not with ya’.

‘It’s a treatment. I’ve seen it a few times at the base. The shrinks use it to make guys confront their fears. Get ‘em mad so that they just snap out of it and yell an’ get it out of their systems’.

Hutch ran his finger over his bottom lip. ‘Dunno. Sounds barbaric. I don’t want to make this worse than it already is. He’s hurtin’ Traff. I don’t think I could…ya know…get him mad’.

‘I know. It’s tough. Like I say, I’ve seen it a few times and it aint pretty. But mostly it’s effective’.

‘Well the other thing is I don’t really want a shrink getting’ their hooks into him. Remember what he was like when we broke him out of Cabrillo that time. I know they mean well, but shit, I hate their methods’.

Traff considered a moment. ‘Well, we don’t need to get the white coat brigade in. I’m no fan of ‘em either. I’ve seen how it works. I mean, I’m no expert, but so long as I can get him so pissed that he forgets himself and starts talkin’, yellin’…whatever. Its gotta be a good thing. Right?’

‘I guess anything is better than how he is at the moment’ Hutch said dubiously.

‘Hey, Blondie. I’m not gonna do this unless we’re both in agreement. I mean, I wouldn’t force this on anyone. It’s just a suggestion ya know. We can leave him to see if he can come around on his own’.

Hutch heaved a sigh. ‘No, I guess we need to do something to help him. I get the feeling that the more he’s like this, the harder it’s gonna be to shake him out of it. So when d’ya wanna do this. And where?’

Traff considered. ‘Tomorrows as good a time as any. We need somewhere with plenty of room. Wouldn’t be much good if he got so pissed he trashed his place. What about we take him to the beach?’

‘Sounds fine to me’ Hutch said happy that at least now they had some sort of plan to try to help his partner. ‘The beach it is’.


The next day, the ninth since Lewis had come back for a final piece of him, Starsky was no different. Hutch got him up out of bed and gave him his clothes to get dressed. Since the day the blond had brought him home and there had been the stilted few words, the brunet had said nothing further. Questions put to him were either met with a blank stare or were answered with a brief shake or nod of the head. The silence, in a guy who was usually difficult to shut up was eerie and Hutch was more than ready to get some sort of therapy underway.

Traff and Hutch had decided that Hutch would drive them to the beach, then he would remain in the car while Traff took his friend for a walk and tried to provoke some sort of response. The soldier was not looking forward to the experience, but, like Starsky, he was a “doer” and not a “thinker”. He was happy in any given situation if he had a valid role to play and a job to do. And right now, that job entailed jolting the brunet out of his self imposed prison.

The battered brown LTD came to a halt at the park next to the jetty. The sun was shining and there was a warm breeze blowing in off the ocean. Far off a couple were walking their dog, but this stretch of the beach was more popular at weekend. During the week, when kids were at school and couples were working, the vast stretch of powder white sand was deserted, and just the place for Traff’s experiment.

Starsky looked straight ahead out of the car window, neither seeing nor recognising the place he’d come to a thousand times before. Hutch put the car into park and Traff opened the door, letting in the sharp tang of seaweed and the muted cry of the gulls overhead.

‘C’mon Curly, lets go for a walk’ he said, opening the door for the brunet to get out.

Starsky got stiffly out of the car and stood waiting for further instructions. With the white dressings now removed from the healing wounds on his temples and the wounds on his leg hidden by his jeans, the brunet seemed almost normal, the bruises across his body either disappeared or faded to a sickly pale yellow. The breeze ruffled his curls as Traff took him by the arm.

‘C’mon, lets go for a walk’ he repeated, tugging at his friend.

Hutch watched them walk off down the beach, thinking for the thousandth time that they looked so much like twins, especially from the back. The same neat build, the same dress sense and even the same swagger in the hips, although Starsky’s was diluted of late. As he watched them walk down to the waters edge, the blond hoped against hope that this treatment they’d decided on would work. If it didn’t, he knew a shrink was the only remaining answer and that was a route he didn’t want to travel. He shuddered at the prospect, keeping his eyes on his two friends.

Pretty soon, the two were mere specks on the horizon and with fingers, toes and various other portions of his anatomy firmly crossed, Hutch slid down in his seat and succumbed to sleep.

Starsky followed Traff mechanically. His mind was a blank, as it had been ever since that morning when he’d woken to find Shane Lewis’ hand clamped across his mouth. He’d hoped never to see the flake again. The initial rape had been quite bad enough. The examinations which ensued and then the culmination of the trial had left him with the ragged conviction that the jury were somehow right and that he had in fact enticed Lewis in some way. Far from being a victim in this rape, he was the one who was at fault. It was Starsky who’d led Lewis on. It was Starsky who hadn’t fought hard enough to get the madman off of him and it was Starsky who was in the wrong in bringing the poor man to trial.

He had tried to convince himself that after the trial had finished everything would go back to normal. It had been bad enough to wait the three interminable months for the final hearing without having to go through the questioning or try to justify his relationship with Hutch to anyone. No, he wasn’t gay. Of that he was certain. But as for him and Hutch? Was he really so unnaturally close to his partner that people thought they were lovers? When the question had been asked in court it had brought him up short.

Was that what people really thought?


Was it true?

No, but they were talking about him. They were all talking about him and Hutch. And while he’d been violated and that was all his fault, Hutch was the innocent party. Hutch shouldn’t have to listen to the insults that Starsky felt sure were flowing thick and fast. And that was his fault too. Hutch’s discomfort was all his fault and he didn’t now what to do about it.

And Molly. He’d wanted to see her. He’d wanted to share himself with her. He wanted to thank her for sticking around for him and yet when she’d come to his house, he’d been overwhelmed by a feeling of powerlessness. What if she’d heard about what went on at the trial and she thought he was some sort of whimp? What of she thought he was somehow diminished and not a man any more? What if she thought he couldn’t make love to her any more like he had done before?

He was a cop. A man yes, but first and foremost a cop. He was the one who was supposed to kick the bad guy’s ass. He was the one who was supposed to rescue victims and make everything right. He was the big strong man with all the answers – supremely confident and strong. And so, to prove himself he’d done that to her. He’d used his strength and his anger against her and he’d hurt her. Now she too was suffering because he let Lewis fuck him.

The thoughts spun round and round in Starsky’s head in unending monotony and they consumed his every waking moment until he could think of nothing else. And then when he slept, Shane Lewis visited him again and again until all he could feel in sleep were those hands on his body, pushing, pulling, massaging and kneading at him while he lay quiet and allowed the tall man to take what he wanted.

The brunet followed his friend mechanically down the sandy beach to the waters edge. He didn’t really care where he was or what he was doing there. It was so much easier and less painful to not think, to just let others make the decisions for him. He was relieved that his two friends were there to care for him and he placed his trust in them implicitly.

Chapter 25

Traff walked slowly by the side of his friend as they made their way along the white sand. The afternoon was beautiful, the sunshine streaming down from an azure sky which was almost the same shade as Starsky’s eyes. Overhead, gulls cried their plaintive song and circled the water looking for their next meal. Ordinarily, the soldier loved the ocean and the beach, feeling freer here than anywhere else in the world. He enjoyed the feel on the grains of sand between his toes as his sandaled feet sank into the powdery surface and luxuriated in the feel of the sun, warm on his shoulders.

“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry”. John Denver’s mellow voice sounded in his ears and if this had been any other day, he’d probably have started warbling along to the tune in his head. But today, his heart was heavy and he had a feeling of foreboding. He didn’t really want to do this. He didn’t want to pick a fight with his best friend even though he had the unshakable conviction that this was the only way to get under Starsky’s skin and break through the seemingly impenetrable barrier in the brunet's head.

He looked around, seeing the dark wooden jetty far off in the distance, and the speck of the brown car with the waiting blond inside it. And he sighed.

Fine Tommy boy. This was your big idea. Now or never.

‘How’re ya doin’ Curly?’ he asked, hoping the change of surroundings would make a difference and maybe he wouldn’t have to do this. He looked critically at Starsky. The two weeks at home had taken their toll on him. His jeans didn’t cling quite so snugly to his lean hips and there was a haunted, ragged look in eyes which were circled by dark rings. He received no reply, although Starsky stopped walking when he stopped. But there was still a blank look in the eyes and his friends face held no hint of emotion. A ruggedly handsome, somewhat bruised blank canvass.

‘Dave you’re gonna have to talk some time ya know. We’re getting’ mightily sick of the silent treatment’.

Still nothing. No raise of the eyebrows, no hitch in the breath. No reaction.

Oh Curly. Don’t make me do this, please don’t. C’mon, gimme a sign here. Throw me a line. Smile. Do sumthin!

‘You ignorant bastard. Answer me! D’ya think Hutch ‘n me want to stick around if ya won’t talk to us?’ Traff hated himself as he saw a look of pain flash for the briefest instant across his buddy’s face. But at least it was some kind of reaction and he knew he needed to keep going.

‘For Gods sake answer me!’ he snarled.

‘No’. The one word answer was quiet, Starsky’s voice low and halting.

Great! An answer. Keep it goin’. Get him mad an’ he’ll snap back…..I hope.

‘Oh so ya can talk! What’s the matter? We haven’t been worth talkin’ to. Coz let me tell you Curly boy, we won’t be assed around any more, ‘less ya start answerin’ back’.

Starsky gazed at his friend as though Traff had suddenly grown two heads and the soldier almost lost the contents of his stomach on the sand. But he knew he’d started this and he needed to see it through if he was going to have any hope of his “therapy” working.

‘Oh ya can hear me then! Fine. What’s the matter curly top? Words not enough for ya? Actions better? Ya want me to maybe feel you up? Is that how ya respond these days?’

Oh shit! Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Too far, you’ve gone too far. Stop! Enough! Don’t go on, you’re hurtin’ him too much!

‘Was my fault’ the brunet said softly.

‘Oh for fucks sake! What was? The rape? How’d ya figure that?’

‘Dunno’. Traff was reminded of a small boy who’d been caught playing truant from school. Not his fault, it was someone else who made him.

I can’t do this. I’m hurting him.

But you’re getting a reaction! He’s talking. There’s animation in his eyes.

But can I carry on?

Shit this hurts me almost as much as it hurts him!

Well just get on with it. Go for the jugular an’ see what ya get.

‘Coz ya liked it? Coz maybe it made you feel like a man? Or maybe ya get your kicks from hitting women?’

Traff closed his eyes as he said the last few words. Tough as he was he couldn’t stand the look of pained accusation in those indigo eyes as the sentence registered with the brunet. But he was completely unprepared for what happened next.

With lightening speed considering how stiff his body had been over the past few days, Starsky spun on his heel, and with all his strength behind it, he threw a punch at Traff’s chin. The soldier spun backwards and landed on his back in the shallow water, surprise keeping him from balancing and immediately Starsky was upon him, his knees straddling the soldier’s midriff as Traff tried desperately to dodge the myriad of blows that were raining down on him.

He rolled them both over in the warm water, trying to catch a hold of the brunet’s flailing arms as Starsky fought with him in the surf. Both men fought for the upper hand, but whereas Traff was trying to be careful not to hurt his friend too much, Starsky was lost in his rage. All the pent up feelings of the past months flowed out now, though his fists and into his target. Traff and Hutch thought he was bad for not fighting off Lewis. Well he thought he was a wimp too. But now he’d show them He’d show them just how much of a man he really was. He’d kill ‘em. Kill ‘em all. In Starsky’s eyes he no longer saw his friend, he saw Shane Lewis leering up at him, the watery blue eyes sparkling into his as he tried to punch the memory.

Traff yelled at him. ‘Curly….Dave……hey c’mon, snap out of it’ but pretty soon the soldier’s breath was all taken up with dodging the punches and being careful of those that he managed to land. He was almost at his wits end. What was he supposed to do now? This wasn’t how it was supposed to pan out at all. He’d planned it so that he’d goad the brunet into some sort of reaction then maybe Starsky would break down, yell, maybe cry and at the end of it be the same Starsky that he’s always known. Even back in ‘Nam, Curly had never behaved like this. Maybe he should just knock him out cold?

But all thoughts of the fight flew from his head as Starsky seemed to get renewed vigour. Suddenly the attack redoubled in force and the brunet flipped his friend over in the shallow water, forcing Traff’s head beneath the surface. Struggling now for his life, the soldier prized himself up, thanking the fact that his friend was not as yet at full strength. He pushed upwards with all his might and managed to struggle round beneath the lithe body above him. Thinking that maybe face to face he may be able to reason with the brunet, Traff opened his mouth to speak, only to see a fist driving like a pile driver into his cheek. The last thing he remembered thinking was that while Starsky may not be well yet, he could still pack a punch, when suddenly the lights went out.

As Traff’s body went limp below him, Starsky came slowly back to his senses. Gone was the frightening vision of Shane Lewis and with the reality check came the knowledge that he’d just knocked one of his best friends into unconsciousness. Starsky looked down at the handsome and blood spattered face with sorrow and wearily he got to his feet, dragging the body of the soldier out of the surf and further up the beach to safety. He knelt by the side of his friend and felt for the pulse in his neck. It was there, strong and steady. Great. Out cold, but no major injuries to worry about. Other than the fact he could cheerfully have killed his ex army buddy a few minutes ago he felt fine. But there again, a few minutes ago, all the brunet had seen before him had been his rapist leering up at him.

Starsky got to his feet and staggered a few feet away. Dropping to his knees, he deposited his lunch onto the sand, heaving until all he brought up was filthy water. He stayed, braced on his arms and head hanging down for several seconds, wondering what he was going to do now. He’d just fought with his friend because of Shane Lewis. He’d beaten his girl because of Shane Lewis. Hutch had been hurt because of Shane Lewis. And the whole of the precinct……maybe the whole of Bay City thought it was his fault because of Shane Lewis. There was no way he wanted to hang around. There wasn’t much point in waiting. After the fight, he felt that Traff and probably Hutch too would want to distance themselves from him. After all, he’d been a royal pain in the butt to the both of them.

No, it was better if he just left. With him out of their lives they’d be able to get on with things. Without him there like the proverbial thorn, they could carry on. He couldn’t face the goodbyes and he couldn’t face the accusation he felt Hutch would surely heap upon him and so he swiftly searched Traff’s wet shirt and came up with a wallet containing credit cards and 100 in small bills. He took the money but left the cards, carefully tucked the billfold back into his friends shirt pocket and with a final look at his friend he got up and staggered off down the beach trying to blot out the ache in his head and the heaviness in his heart.


Hutch sat in the car watching the sun starting to dip down in the sky. He fished his half hunter watch out of his pocket and stared at the hands for the hundredth time. Three hours! It was too long. Something must have gone wrong. Hutch’s “partner senses” were on high alert and much as he loved and trusted Traff, he felt that maybe this treatment was just too heavy handed and barbaric. Getting out of the car, he took his binoculars out of the trunk and focussed them on the place he’d last seen Traff and Starsky, way off down the beach.

He didn’t see either of them now. The white sand ended in a rocky headland a little way further down and the blond didn’t think they’d have both climbed over the jagged rocks there. So where were they? Something like panic clawed at his chest as he started to walk from the car, down to the water where the sand was packed harder and the walking was easier. Steadily he walked towards the headland, his eyes scanning continually up and down the sandy beach for his two friends. Two grown men couldn’t just disappear, surely! They had to be around here somewhere. Hutch cursed under his breath. He cursed Shane Lewis, Joe Newman, Dougy Stuart and all lawyers. This was their fault! If it hadn’t been for the trial, this would never have happened and he and his partner would be back on the streets, working, playing and picking up the threads of their lives.

Lost in his dark thoughts, Hutch reached the rocky outcrop at the end of the beach and slowly turned back. He couldn’t have missed them could he? Two six foot tall men? He looked back the way he’d come. Some of his footprints were washed away by the small waves lapping at the shore, but ahead, picked out in stark relief by the lengthening shadows of the evening sun, he saw two parallel lines up from the water to higher ground. Hutch surged forward and followed the lines up the beach and over a small rise in the sand. There. laid out in the sun was the unconscious form of the soldier, arms thrown wide and eyes closed. Hutch cursed and sank to his knees besides the limp form, noting the fresh cuts and bruises marring the handsome face.

‘Traff. Can ya hear me? Tom?’

He heard a low groan and with relief saw the emerald green eyes blink open. Traff groaned again and rubbed his hand over his eyes as he tried to sit up.

‘What happened? Where’s Starsky?’ Hutch asked.

‘Aww shit. Fuck!’

‘Gone? Gone where? What happened?’ Hutch persisted.

Traff sat up and pulled his knees up so that he could rest his elbows on them. He ran his fingers through his short curls and sighed. ‘It was goin’ pretty well. I was startin’ to get some reaction from him, so I ploughed on. Oh God! I'm such a stupid fuckin’ moron! I thought I could get through to him, I really thought I was makin’ progress. And then I kinda mentioned Molly and…..’

‘What?’ Hutch asked carefully

‘He hit me! He just turned on me like he’d lost his mind and started walin’ away at me. Took me all my time to hold him off’ Traff snorted. ‘Didn’t do too good a job, did I?’

‘Are you ok?’

The soldier considered. ‘Yeah, nothin’s broken, ‘cept maybe my pride got a bit dented. Where is he?’ he asked, looking around.

Hutch looked concerned. ‘That’s what I was gonna ask you’.

Chapter 26

Starsky made his way off the beach and through the small dunes to the quiet road at the back of the sands. He stopped a moment and caught his breath. The healing wounds on his leg stung fiercely now that the salt water was beginning to dry on them, and he felt dizzy and sick to his stomach. But his conviction drove him on. He didn’t belong here any more. He didn’t want to bring Hutch and Traff down any more. Everything that had happened had been his fault, from the initial rape, through the trial to the last sordid episode with Lewis. All his fault and he needed to put distance between himself and Bay City and all those people who knew him. He had spent the last nine or ten days in a blissful state of numbness. He saw and heard everything that went on, but it was as though it was happening to someone else and for those ten days, he could forget everything that had happened to him. Thinking had hurt him and he was so scared of the memories that he’d kept a tight lid on them, refusing to think or do. And yet the thoughts had swirled round and round in his head and it had taken all his concentration to keep them below the surface, simmering away but without coalescing into clear thought. It was easy while Hutch and Traff looked after him, but now……. Now his old army buddy had put an end to that and now he was forced once again to confront his violation, his behaviour and the consequences of both.

Without his watch, he had no idea of the exact time, but from the height of the sun in the sky, he hazarded a guess at maybe 3:30 or 4:00. Soon the road would become busier with kids coming down to the beach after school to play, surf or make out in the dunes. And when that happened, he needed to be far away. He wasn’t safe around people any more. Hell he wasn’t even a man any more! What kind of man would allow another man to do that to him? And what kind of man would take his feelings out on the girl he thought he’d loved? Starsky looked left and right up and down the black metalled road. His head was clearer now, the thoughts that had been plaguing him for days finally coalescing into some sort of clarity. Get away from Bay City. Get away from Hutch and Traff and Molly so that he couldn't hurt them any more and find somewhere were no-one knew him.

Choosing a direction he walked back towards the city. He needed transport, but he was still too far away from home to go back to get his Torino. And in any event, his red and white baby was too well known, too visible for him to be able to make a quiet getaway. No, he needed some more inconspicuous method of transport, and so he kept on walking, his feet taking him inexorably back towards the outskirts of the city. He walked mechanically, his mind on other things as he put one foot in front of the other and trudged on through the late afternoon sunshine. He didn’t really know what made him turn the corner off the coast road as the sun started to dip below the horizon. If he’d stayed on the road a little longer, Traff and Hutch would have found him and picked him up as they drove back to town. But instead, Starsky found himself on a winding back road into the rougher areas of the city and before long he found himself outside the bus depot. He fingered the bills in his pocket. Traff’s money and he’d send it back to him once he’d got his new life in order. But for now, he needed a ride.

Starsky looked around the almost deserted station. There were only two busses parked up by their designated stands. One had a sign on the front saying City Centre and Starsky recognised it as the bus that trundled regularly past the Metro. Not, perhaps the best route for taking him to his new life! The other bus, a small rickety affair with hard metal seats and a corpulent driver had a sign on the front which read “Calico”. The brunet had never heard of the place and figured that if he hadn’t, then neither had Hutch or Traff. Settling for the unknown over the familiar, he mounted the steps.

‘When are ya headin’ out?’ he asked the bus driver, who seemed to shake himself awake.

‘Huh? Oh. Um….8:20’ he grunted.

The brunet looked nonplussed. ‘What time is it now?’

The driver appraised his would be passenger. The man’s clothes were slightly dishevelled and looked as though he’d been swimming in them maybe. Unruly curls which seemed matted in places topped a face which was battle scarred and had a world weary look to it and the man walked with a distinct limp. Goddamned bums! He hated ‘em all, especially when they were riding his bus. Sighing he pointed to the clock set into the front of the bus.

‘It’s just past 8. Are ya ridin’ or what?’

‘How far’s Calico?’ Starsky asked, ignoring the man’s attitude.

‘About 60 miles east of here, up in the hills. What am I? A goddamned encyclopaedia? Do ya want a ticket, or some friendly conversation? Coz if it’s the latter, ya come to the wrong guy buddy’.

‘Gimme a ticket’ Starsky said calmly.

‘Single or return?’

‘One way. I aint comin’ back’ the brunet said with finality. He took the small card ticket, walked right to the back of the deserted bus and got down on the back seat. With his back against the window and his feet up on the seats, he closed his eyes, folded his arms and tried not to think of his two friends and the life he’d left behind.

The bus ride was long, the bus stopping at it’s allocated stops along the way, but only two other people got on, and neither of them went the full distance of the journey. No-one bothered him and Starsky managed to doze during the three hour journey up into the foothills to the east of the State. The bus driver had a way of crunching the gears and jamming on the breaks at unforeseen moments, but Starsky braced himself against the back of the seat in front of him and jammed his knees against the upholstery to save the extra bruises the driver seemed anxious to inflict. Eventually, the bus drew into a small one horse town in a valley surrounded by tall pine trees. The lights in one or two of the outlying houses shone brightly out onto the road, but the time was going up for eleven and most houses already had that tightly curtained appearance meaning their occupants were either in their bed’s or someone else’s! As the rickety bus lurched to a halt, the driver turned tiredly in his seat and looked at his solitary passenger.

‘Calico. Last stop’.

The brunet heaved himself up from the seat and made his way to the front of the bus, looking around him.

‘Is there a motel or sumthin?’ he asked.

‘Pines Motel at the end of the road. But I don’t know if you’ll find anyone there at this time of night. There’s a bar next door. If anything Vera will be in there, her husband runs it. You could try there’ the driver said laconically.

With a final nod, Starsky climbed down from the bus and looked around. The air was colder up here and scented with pine and new mown grass. With a slight shiver, and realising he wasn’t really dressed for altitude the brunet started to walk up the one and only street. He could see in the distance the motel, an ugly, squat affair set on three sides of a square. At it’s centre was a parking lot, but there were only 4 cars parked there. Obviously Vera was not busy tonight, Starsky thought wryly. He paused by the small booth at the entrance to the motel and looked in. there was a telephone, a small chair, but nothing else. There was no reception committee, but that was fine by the cop – he should stop calling himself that now. He wasn’t a cop any more – he didn’t want conversation. He looked up at the hording above the booth. “Rooms 10 dollars per night, hot water, TV in all bedrooms”. He counted the notes he had left after he’d paid the bus ticket. 9 x 10 dollar bills. Less than 9 nights in this fleapit if he took out money for food and beer, unless he could get something better. But then he’d need more.

Turning away from the motel, he walked back down the hill a ways to the only other lighted building in the one horse town. “Calico Bar” it proudly announced in faded writing above the door. Inside, Starsky could hear voices, laughing and some cheering. Yay! Calico did have life after all. Feeling a little like the Lone Ranger walking into Indian territory, he pushed open the door to the bar and walked in, immediately being enveloped in a warm rush of beer fumes, sweat and noise. There was a small bar arranged against one wall, but that was largely ignored by the crowd of men and women, who were grouped around a makeshift roped off arena at one end of the long room. As he walked in a hush fell over the room and every eye in the joint turned to stare at him. He stared back belligerently, perturbed by the reception, but he walked purposefully over to the bar and leaned against it.

‘Whad’ya want? We don’t take kindly to strangers around here’ the barman said coldly.

‘Fine by me. I’m just mindin’ my own business’ Starsky said equally coldly. This was just what he needed. No-one to bother him and no-one to ask questions. ‘Gimme a beer, an’ is Vera here? I need a room for the night’.

‘We’re full’ the barman told him.

‘You don’t look like Vera’.

‘No, I’m her old man, an’ I’m tellin’ ya, we don’t got no room’.

Starsky sighed. He could feel the anger welling up inside him and he knew it would emerge soon enough. Silently he sent up a prayer Just gimme a goddamned room and let me hide away. Ya don’t wanna do this punk, ya really don’t!

‘Gimme a beer anyway’ Starsky said, looking around the room. At the far end, he could see the quietened crowd were now turning their attention back to the roped off arena and as he looked closer he could see two men at it’s centre, both blood splattered and bruised, eyeing each other cautiously. He looked back at the bar keep.

‘Is that what I think it is?’

‘It aint none of your business’ the man said, a spark of fear in his eyes. ‘Who d’ya think you are? The law?’

Starsky started to say something, but stopped himself. You aint a cop no more, so keep it buttoned Davey.

‘How many rounds’ve they done?’ He asked conversationally. The bare knuckle fighters were winding up to recommence their bout now that the stranger didn’t seem interested in arresting them.

‘About 18. You a fighter?’ the man behind the bar asked, suddenly a little more interested in the stranger. He certainly looked like he could be. His face was bruised enough and hadn’t he limped as he’d walked in? Was there money to be made from him?

Starsky gazed coldly at him. ‘Like I said, I just wanted a room for the night’.

‘We may have one…..fer the right price. So, are ya?’

‘Am I what?’ Starsky snapped. He was more than fed up with the guy’s attitude. He was tired, his body hurt and he could feel the tendrils of anger beginning to catch at his throat.

‘A fighter’.

And suddenly it struck him. A way to get rid of his anger, earn some bucks and move on. He looked back at the two men in the ring, still slogging it out and now he could hear the sound of flesh beating into flesh as they pounded into one another. He turned back to the bar and grinned savagely.

‘Does a rocking hose have a wooden dick?’

‘Next bout’ll be up soon. Wanna try out? Mebe if ya win, we can sort out that room’ the man said with a grin. ‘The names Deek’.

Starsky appraised the man. He knew he’d been suckered into saying he’d fight, but what the hell? Bucks were bucks, an’ he knew how to fight. How hard could this be? He smiled coldly back at Deek. ‘Michael….Mick’ he said, surprised that he’d given his middle name. Where the hell did that come from?’

There was a roar from the crowd at the end of the room and Deek looked up from the bar. One of the fighters had staggered back against the wall, blood flowing from his nose. He lifted an arm in salute then staggered away, his fight now over, and as two burly guys took hold of his unconscious opponent, the bar man grinned. ‘Fights all done. You’re up next’.

Chapter 27

‘I’ve tried everything Cap’n, but it’s been seven days. How can one man disappear so completely in seven days?’ Hutch paced the small office, beside himself with worry for his partner. Over the past week, he and Traff had searched the whole city. They’d turned the place upside down, calling in favours from snitches, running down anyone Starsky might have know. He’d rung Rachel Starsky to see if her son had returned home, and without telling her exactly why he was calling (he didn’t want to scare the woman) he’d found out pretty quickly that she hadn’t seen her eldest son since his last visit three months previously. After that, it was a case of searching all the bars, the motels, the hospitals and even the jail. But there was no sign of the curly haired cop and by now Hutch was frantic.

‘What do you want me to do?’ Dobey asked. ‘Anything. Name it. The Lord knows he’s been through enough already!’

‘Put out an All Points on him. Get every damned flatfoot in the area working it, and call the other precincts too. Maybe they’ve heard something. Shit Cap! He can’t have just disappeared off the face of the earth’.

Dobey snickered. ‘You know Starsky! He always was the best at undercover work. If he doesn’t want to be found, he won’t be’.

Hutch planted his hands firmly on the desk and looked into the kindly dark brown eyes. ‘That’s what I’m afraid of Cap’n. I had that one phone call from him the night he went. He sounded either sick, or drunk and he told me he was leaving for good and not to go looking for him. He’s still sick. Starsky wouldn’t do that. Traff said he snapped when he was on the beach with him. Something got to him, and if he’s suddenly dealing with all those memories all over again……Fuck! I gotta find him’.

‘And what about you?’ Dobey appraised the blond cop critically. ‘You’re not sleepin’, you look like you haven’t eaten in days. Hutch, what use are ya gonna be if ya find him. You’ve gotta go home, have a decent meal and get some sleep. That’s an order! The minute I hear anything, I’ll ring. You an’ Traff have to look after yourselves if you’re gonna help him’.

Wearily the flaxen haired cop smiled his gratitude. ‘Thanks. I’ll head of. But if ya hear anything…..’

‘Get outa here’ Dobey grunted not unkindly. ‘Soon as I hear, you’ll be the first to know’


Starsky groaned as he turned over on the bed, the bruises now dappling his body aching as he started to surface from his drunken stupor. In the seven nights he’d been in Calico, he had seven fights and won every one of them, although some had been harder than others. Bare knuckle fighting did have some sort of rules, although they were loosely interpreted at the best of times, and out here, in the middle of nowhere, they meant next to nothing. It was, after all, an illegal sport. But it made him feel alive. For the time he was fighting, Starsky felt like he was once more a man, rather than a woman beater or victim or any of the other labels he’d heaped upon himself. For the time he was pounding his opponent into submission, he was his own, reinvented and unfeeling man. Nothing mattered but the fight and the winning and at the end of it. And when he was once again the victor, he would stagger to the bar, buy himself a bottle of bourbon and take it back to the motel room. Because he found that once he’d had the adrenaline of the fight, his mind was reawakened to the thoughts that he found so terrible and oppressive. When he had the clarity of the adrenaline flowing through his veins, he was once again open to relive the horrors of the rape, and the feelings of betrayal of his friends. He knew Hutch and Traff would be looking for him, and he knew that the perfunctory, cold telephone call he’d made on his first night at the motel would do nothing to stop the big blond from searching for him. The only thing that stopped the reality breaking through his self imposed exile was to drink. And so Jim Beam became his sleeping partner most nights, and he’d wake from his drunken state some time around 3 in the afternoon, take a shower, force some food down and be back at the bar at 7 to stake out the competition.

The rules governing bare-knuckle fights had been laid down in the 1740s and amended in 1839 in England and had come over with the early settlers to America; yet there were no weight restrictions, no set number of rounds, no time limit to a round, and, of course, no gloves. During his seven fights, Starsky had been fairly lucky. Both his eyes were bruised and on the second night, he’d sustained a cut over his left cheek, which his opponenets concentrated on on each successive night, so that it remained open, red and swollen. His knuckles were skinned and raw and bled each night and he’d found early on that the stitches in his leg hampered him too much. So, on the morning of the third day, he’d taken a clean razor blade and cut them out, thanking his lucky stars that in the past he’d had sufficient of them to have watched the nurses and knew how to do it. Without their tightness pulling at him, he could move more freely and become even more aggressive, to the extent that even Deek had become wary and cautious around him.

The brunet hellion had a dangerous air about him. No-one questioned him about his past any more. No-one, other than Deek, and his pretty young wfe Vera spoke to him, which he found to be fine. He didn’t want to make small talk. It was easier if he could build up his impregnable wall and hide behind it.

Starsky got out of the bed and stared blearily at the clock on the wall. 4:30. Damn. He’d overslept! Or rather he’d managed to get to sleep at about 4:00am after dark thoughts of Traff and Hutch had plagued him all night. Last night’s fight had been a doozy and now he nursed his bruised ribs as he remembered the thick set Irishman ploughing into him time and again. He’d almost lost that one, and it was only quick thinking and his cop training that had made him use his opponents weight and impetus against him. As the huge man had come at him for the coup de gras, Starsky had neatly sidestepped, taken hold of the man’s arm and catapulted him into the wall. The plaster had cracked and showered down and the Irishment fell, stone cold against the base of the wall. Out for the count.

But it was getting harder. With each progressive bruise, his body responded more slowly and he knew it was only a matter of time before he lost a fight. And then maybe Deek wouldn’t be quite so accommodating. But the fighting was like a drug to the damaged cop. It was what fuelled his life, making him get up and eat. Making him feel alive, if only for the short time he was in the ring. For the rest of the time, he existed in an alcoholic blur which numbed him and for the most part removed his memories.

Rubbing a hand over his three day growth of beard, Starsky reached for the bottle of bourbon. It was empty. So much for breakfast! With a mouth like the bottom of a parrots cage and a roaring hangover, he staggered out of the small motel room and made his way down the hill to the bar. Deek would be there, and maybe he could force down some of Vera’s chilli if he really had to.

The walk was no more than a half a mile, but the crisp cool air of the mountains sharpened his wits and he felt his body responding to the surroundings, waking and coming alive. He started to jog, easing the kinks frm his muscles and warming them slowly. Mindless activity, like fighting, soothed his mind and brought him calm.

Minutes later, he pushed open the door to the bar and walked in. At that time of day, it was deserted and the smell of stale sweat and beer assailed him, making him feel even more nauseous. He was about to bang on the bar counter and yell for Deek to give him a beer, when he heard a noise from the small kitchen out back. The noise of clattering pans was accompanied by a female voice which sounded terrified and despite all his better intentions of keeping himself to himsef, Starsky’s cop persona took over and he vaulted over the bar, snapping the door to the kitchen open with his foot.

He saw the shiny metal surfaces of the kitchen, the afternoon sunlight reflecting off them and blinding him for a moment. And then in the corner he saw Deek, a cleaver in one hand and pastry pin in the other, looming over the body of his wife. Vera hunched down on the floor in the corner of the room, her hands up, protecting her head and face as her husband yelled at her. Blood flowed from a large cut on her arm and without thinking, Starsky leapt forward.

‘Back off punk’ he yelled as he launched himself across the room.

Deek looked up suddenly, not expecting a spectator and his eyes widened as he saw his prize fighter bearing down on him. He turned, cleaver at the ready.

‘This aint your concern Mick’ he said deensively.

‘Anyone who beats up on a woman is my concern’ Starsky spat, his eye on the huge meat knife. ‘I told ya, back off’.

‘This is between me an’ my wife. Nuthin to do with you. We were just……considerin’ Deek said, pleased at his own choice of words.

‘Leave him alone Mick, don’t get yourself involved’ Vera cried from the corner.

Deek turned and kicked out at the small woman. ‘Shut your pie hole woman. Ya never know when to keep that mouth o’ yours quiet do ya?’ Deek bent down to swipe at the terrified woman, but as he did, he was hit full force by a freight train, launching itself across the contertop.

Starsky wrestled with Deek’s hand, the cleaver between them wavering dangerously. Deek was a big man, a solid 210 lbs of muscle and at 6’6” a good 7” taller than the brunet. But Starsky had quickness on his side and he went in low, his curly head cannoning into Deek’s stomach. The wind whistled through the big man’s teeth as he bent over and Starsky rabbit punched him, right handed on the back of the neck. But a blow which would have felled most guys merely bounced off the big bar keep and he stood up slowly with a leer on his face,

‘See what happens when ya stick your nose in where it don’t belong?’ he grinned, taking hold of a handful of curly hair. He pulled Starsky’s head back and slammed the cop’s face into the metal work surface. Starsky saw stars, but there was no time to relax. Deek was getting into his stride and tried to puch at the smaller man’s back. At the last moment Starsky ducked out of the way and Deek’s hand ploughed into the solid surface. He howled and turned again, the cleaver now above his head. He brought it down and the tip caught Starsky high up on his right arm, drawing blood from the 2” cut.

The brunet backed up as Deek advanced and pushed though the kitchen door into the bar. He picked up the first bottle he came to and threw it at the barman who ducked. The glass smashed against the mirrored back of the bar, smashing that too and Deek picked up one of the larger shards, aiming it at the culry haired cop.

With seven fights under his belt, and the best part of a bottle of bourbon still sloshing around his insides, Starsky was tiring fast. Blood coursed down the side of his face and from the corner of his mouth and the cut on his arm dripped ruby droplets onto the floor where he stood panting. Deek advanced again and Starsky backed up, the breath whistling through his teeth as he desperately fought for breath. Another bottle came to his hand and once again he threw it. Again Deek ducked out of the way and this time he picked up the brunet bodily and threw him against one of the small tables.

Starsky felt his body shatter the wood and the next thing he knew he was on the floor with Deek’s body weighting him down. The big man’s hand were round his throat and he put his hands up, trying to pry them away, the hands feeling too much like Shane Lewis’ for comfort. And suddenly, he was back there, Lewis’ hands on his body, making him do things…unnnatural things….things no man should be forced to do.

The brunet went berserk. The tired cop was replaced by a spitting seething panther, slippery and full of grace. With a superhuman effort, he forced Deek’s hands away, slithering out from beneath the huge body, and somehow grabbing hold of Deek’s back. The barman reered up with a roar, but Starsky held on, his own hands now beginning to choke the life from the big man as Deek’s hands clawed ineffectually at the cop’s wrists.

As the light slowly began to fade from Deek’s eyes however, the fight was stopped abruptly by two shots being fired into the air, the noise deafening in the confines of the room.

Both men dropped to the floor exhausted as the Sheriff made his way over to the fighters, gun still pointed at the two men. In the corner, Vera stood, still holding the telephone in her right hand, her left up to her mouth as she watched the fight in horror.

The Sherrif looked down at the two men.

‘Evenin’ Deek’ he muttered lacanically.

Deek looked back though watery eyes. ‘Jake?’

‘Wanna tell me what’s goin’ on?’ the Sheriff asked, never taking his eyes off Starsky.

‘Young feller bust into my bar and darn near strangled me’ Deek stared at Starsky as though daring him to contradict.

Jake looked around at the smashed furniture, bottles and mirror. ‘Sure did a perty little number’ he siad almost appreciatively.

‘Uh huh. He’s a dangerous one. Watch yerself Jake. He’s mean’.

The Sheriff looked at the panting cop, taking in the blood, the bruises and the still wild look in his eyes. Bending down, and with the gun still at the ready he studied his prisoner. Starsky stared back. He couldn’t exactly tell the lawman what had gone down. Bare knuckle fighting was still illegal, so if he didn’t get busted for fighting with Deek, he’d get a rap from the prize fights. He opted for quiet beligerance.

‘Stand up son’ the Sheriff said quietly and watched as the brunet staggered to his feet. ‘Now turn around nice an’ slow and put yer hands behind yer back’.

Starsky felt the cold metal bracelets circle his wrists and without a backards look at Deek or Vera, allowed himself to be guided from the shattered bar and down the street to the town’s lock up.

Chapter 28

Hutch dived for the telephone before he’d really woken up and grunted as his body hit the bedroom floor. Extricating his legs from the sheets on his bed, he sat up and grabbed for the receiver.

‘Hutchinson’ he panted into it.

‘We got a lead. Sorry, did I wake ya? Captain Dobey said he’d sent you home for some shut eye, but I thought you’d want to know right away’ the voice on the other end of the phone belonged to Sgt Ogama down at the Metro and Hutch was immediately wide awake.

‘A lead? How? Where?’

‘Come on down and you can let me know whether you think it’s worth following up’ Ogama said to the phone. Hutch slammed down the receiver and ran into the living room. He shook the curly bundle on the sofa. They’d had such a late night the night before that he didn’t realise it was now 2 in the afternoon. Somehow Hutch didn’t realised they’d been quite so bushed although at least now he felt rested and ready to resume the search.

‘Traff, c’mon Traff. I just had a call. They got something down town’.

The soldier was instantly awake, a lifetime of rude awakenings in Army camps and war zones accustoming him to shakes and shimmies.

‘Who? Who called? Curly?’

‘No, but one of the guys at the Metro thinks he has a lead. Are ya coming?’ Hutch said, hopping on one foot as he plunged his other foot into his brown suede boot.

‘Yeah, no problem’ Traff got up and within 2 minutes was dressed in his black jeans and black tee shirt. Pausing only to get his wallet from the countertop in the kitchen, he followed the excited blond out into the early afternoon heat. Hutch drove his LTD down town at a frantic rate although there was a tense silence in the car, both men alone with their thoughts, both hoping that the lead would help them find Starsky and that the brunet would be ok.

Stopping in the curly haired cop’s usual parking space right outside the Metro, Hutch took the steps two at a time as he bounded in and along the corridor to the room where Ogama hung out. The diminutive Japanese man was waiting for him, a copy of a report held in his hand. He thrust it at the blond as Hutch dashed in. It was an arrest report which had been faxed through from a precinct to the east and as Hutch read it his hand started to shake. He handed it to the soldier at his side.

Traff read the name at the head of the report. ‘Michael Starsky? That’s too much of a coincidence!’

‘Yeah, but if he was gonna try and get a new identity, would he really go with his middle name? Is that lame or what?’

‘Well he aint exactly firing with all thrusters, is he? Cut him some slack Blondie!’

Hutch gazed at the piece of paper as though he wanted to frame it. ‘Says here he was arrested for damaging property. A bar in a town called Calico. Locked up for 48 hours’.

Traff snickered. ‘That’s my pal. He never could hold his liquor. I could drink him under the table every time!’

‘Uh huh. Well we know he’s safe. Not sure what shape he’ll be in, but….. How’s a ride up to the hills grab ya?’ Hutch said, folding the carbon copy report and stuffed it into his jeans pocket.

‘Wouldn’t miss it for the world’.

Hutch thanked the sergeant again and made a swift exit with Traff hard on his heels. Now he knew where he could find his partner, he might be able to do something to help the brunet come to terms with what had happened to him. Both men got themselves into the car and Hutch looked at the map. He pointed a finger at a tiny settlement and tapped the paper.

‘About 60 miles. We should be able to make it in just over an hour. God I hope he’s ok!’ Hutch mumbled as he pushed his foot down on the gas. Keeping as close to the speed limit as he could, he turned the car out of the city and towards open country.

‘He can look after himself ya know’ Traff said as he saw the blond’s white knuckles gripping the steering wheel.

‘Huh? Yeah, I know, but still…..he was so lost’

Traff sat back in the seat, happy now he had a target. ‘Did I tell ya about that night we once had in ‘Nam?. Just after we’d got there. We’d done our first mission and I’d had this um…..incident with a chopper. God that was some wild night! Well it was once he’d gotten the idea firmly fixed in his head! He was always the innocent one, our Curly’ He closed his eyes remembering the rainy night.

I got us a pair of twins. How’s that?’

How will we know who’s is who’s? Starsky asked.

I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem. Turns out Ai and Di.u haven’t been in the game very long and they share a room. They don’t speak a lot of English but from what I can glean, they don’t mind sharing the bed if we don’t’. He grinned.

Ya mean we both…..with them…..on the same……oh!’ Starsky ended lamely.

Well if ya don’t want, I could have ‘em both to myself’ Traff countered, knowing his friend wasn’t likely to pass up the opportunity for a hot night.

No, no…its fine…its just…um….oh hell, nuthin. Whatever….just go for it’ Starsky agreed.

‘Starsk was innocent? Oh please! He was always some kinda chick magnet. It was me who was the innocent one – even though I’d had a wife and a divorce. There was this conversation we had, the day we became partners, I’ll never forget it. It was at the Pits and he’d just introduced me to Huggy.

‘……..He said your name was Alice?’ Hutch asked, his voice slightly unsteady as she regarded him with her cerulean blue eyes.

Uh huh. Around here folks know me as Sweet Alice’.

Coz you’re a lovely girl?’

That…..an’ they say I taste nice!’ she giggled as she nuzzled his neck.

Hutch choked on the mouthful of beer he’d taken, the fine spray cascading across the bar. ‘T taste?’ he stammered, his cheeks colouring.

Uh huh. You could maybe come ‘n’ find out?’ she asked in a sultry voice.

Maybe another time Sweet Alice. We’re on duty….An’ I don’t think he could afford ya!’ Starsky said, leaning over to peck the woman on her cheek. She smiled at him, then looked sadly at the blond. ‘Maybe I could give you a free trial some day Suga?’

She kissed him softly then shimmied away. Hutch looked confused. ‘She was a….?’

Yeah, an’ a good one, I’ve heard’ the brunet smirked. ‘Haven’t tried her myself’.

Tried her…..Starsk! She’s a hooker!...A cute one, but she’s a….and you……with……?’

Don’t tell me you never have, Blondie. Oh wait, you had the wonderful Van to keep you happy, but that’s been…what? Two, three years now?’

Three years, two days and……seven hours. But who’s counting?’ Hutch said wryly. ‘And still the woman hounds me. But when did you? With a…..’ He leaned forward conspiratorially. ‘Starsk? What was it like?’

Better ‘n’ you’ll ever know Blintz. There was this woman near the border. She was Japanese. What she could do with her tongue was unbelievable. An’ I swear she was filleted…………!’

‘He was playin’ with ya Hutch. He was as innocent as driven snow when I first met him. Mind, he was only 18. Here…..is this the turning?’ Traff pointed to a side road of the freeway. The sign pointed up into the hills.

Another 35 minutes later, Hutch pulled his battered brown car into the parking lot of the Pines Motel and the two men got out. Stretching his back, the blond looked back down the road.

‘I think the Sheriff’s office was back down that way. Ya wanna go make absolutely sure it’s Starsk before we get a room?’

‘Oh yeah! This aint the sorta town I’d wanna spend too much time in’ Traff grinned as they started to walk down the small dusty road. They walked on in companionable silence now, happy to be getting some answers finally and pushed open the door to the Sheriff’s office. It was a neat wooden building situated on the main corner in the town. The door opened out onto a small front office with a wooden counter running along its width. Behind it were a couple of desks housing typewriters and sheaves of papers. Hutch rang the bell on the front desk and waited, elbows planted on the formica top as he looked around. There was a door at the back of the office and from that the Sheriff now appeared. He was a nondescript kind of man, middling height, middling weight, middling brown hair and with no other distinguishing features. But he seemed friendly enough as he eyed the two visitors.

‘Can I help you gentlemen?’ he asked

‘We’re looking for a friend of ours’ Hutch started.

The Sheriff dug out a pad of forms and a pen. He rested the papers on the top of the counter and licked the end of the pen.

‘How long’s he been missin’?’

Hutch put his hand out, amused at the man’s calm attitude and trying to save the guy some work. ‘I don’t think you need a “missing persons” request. I think…..I hope our friend’s right here?’

‘In Calico? What’s his name?’

‘Starsky. Dave Starsky’ Traff said quickly.

The Sheriff’s eyebrows rose at the name. ‘We got a Mick Starsky, but no Dave’.

‘We’re pretty sure that’s him. His full name’s David Michael. Can we see him?’ Hutch asked.

Jake looked at him quizzically. ‘You aint gonna cause no trouble are ya?’

‘No sir’ the blond affirmed and held out his badge for inspection.

‘Weeeell doggy! We got ourselves a fancy cop from the city! What did he do? Rob a bank? Murder? He’s kinda mean’.

Traff snorted. ‘Mean? He’s um….he’s a cop too. Can we see him?’

Jake looked frankly unbelieving. ‘A cop? Could’a fooled me! He’s a wild one alright. But, you got the badges! Be my guest’ he held out a hand, indicating for them to come around and he escorted them through the door at the back of the office and out to a small cell complex. There were four barred cells arranged around a central square. Each cell was perhaps 20’ x 20’, barred on 3 walls with the fourth being a solid brick affair. Each cell had a bunk with bedding and a pillow, a toilet pan and a wash hand basin. Not the Hilton, but they had the basic comforts. The only thing the cells lacked was privacy, but at that moment, only one of them was occupied.

‘Busy huh?’ Hutch observed.

‘We’re a quiet town. Don’t get much trouble ‘cept fer the drunks on a Saturday night. Is that who you’re lookin’ for?’ Jake pointed to the closest cell and the two friends walked over.

In the corner, curled up on the bunk and with his back to the bars was a curly headed figure. It was motionless and it wore the same clothes that they seen Starsky in on that day at the beach, although now they appeared rumpled and……was that a blood stain?

‘Ah…..yeah, yeah, that’s him. Could we um…..could we have a few minutes? Hutch asked.

Jake shrugged his shoulders. ‘Aint no skin off my nose what ya do. But he stays put till tomorrow noon. After that, ya can do what ya want with him. I’ll be in the office. No funny stuff huh?’ the elderly Sheriff asked earnestly.

Hutch smiled reassuringly. ‘No sir. No funny stuff’.

‘The names Jake. Callin’ me sir is like putting an elevator in an outhouse. It don’t fit’. Jake smiled back and went back to his office as Hutch turned back to the jail cell.

‘Starsky? Starsk!’

The figure on the bed twitched. ‘Don’t want no coffee Jake. Leave me alone’.

‘Starsky! Yo, Starsk!’

This time, the familiar voice seemed to penetrate and very slowly the brunet turned over on the bunk and tried to sit up. He groaned, clutched at his chest and tried again, finally making it into a sitting position. He braced himself, hands holding onto the mattress and head hanging down.

Hutch moved closer although the bars prevented him from running to his partner and checking him out. The blond put his hands on the cold metal bars as he saw shivers running though his friend’s body.

‘Starsky. Are you ok?’

Slowly the curly haired man raised his head and looked unsteadily at his partner. ‘Utch?’

‘Oh my God! Starsk! What the hell happened?’

‘Nuthin’. The voice sounded lost and held so much hurt that for a moment Hutch could hardly breathe. By his side Traff cursed under his breath.

‘Bastards. Wait here, I’m gonna find that fuckin’ sheriff. How could he just leave him here like that?’

They looked at the brunet closely. Starsky’s face was a welter of cuts and bruises, the largest and most colourful being over his eyes, which were swollen and puffy, but were, at least, open. There was a large cut too on his cheek, the flap of skin ragged and swollen. Starsky’s lips were cut and cracked and there was a fresh wound at the corner of his left eye. His shirt was open at the front and showed a black and blue bruise decorating the left ribs and dried blood caked the left sleeve. The smaller man seemed to be breathing too quickly and there were flashes of pain around the eyes. He was hurting.

‘No, don’t. It aint Jake’s fault’ Starsky muttered as he forced his head up to look at Traff.

‘Not his…..whose fault is it Curly? What happened?’ Traff snarled.

‘He wanted to get the Doc. I wouldn’t let him’.


‘S’my fault. It’s all my fault. Deserve it’.

‘Ooooh shit Starsk. No-one deserves that! You’re hurt buddy. You need help’ Hutch tried to reach through the bars to his partner. ‘Who the hell did this to ya partner?’

Starsky gazed back, more life in his eyes than there had been for months. ‘Why did ya come lookin’ for me? I told ya not to’.

‘Yeah! As if we’d just leave ya! Jeez, Starsk, when we do leave ya on your own, look what happens!’

‘You shouldn’t have come’.

‘An’ how d’ya work that one out Curly?’ Traff asked gently.

‘I was an asshole’.

Time stood still in the confines of the cell complex. None of the men breathed as the words floated on the air. Finally the soldier broke the silence.

‘Wasn’t the first time Curly. An’ it won’t be the last. But you’re here an’ we found ya’.

‘Yeah’ the brunet sighed ‘Ya found me’.

Chapter 29

An hour later, the doctor appeared outside the cell and tut-tutted as he looked at the state of the prisoner. Traff had finally persuaded Starsky to take some medical help and had gone in search of Jake to ask him to call a medic. The sheriff had been relieved beyond words. He’d worried about his prisoner, hating to see the man hurting. He’d seemed mean and moody, but there was something about the curly haired fighter that Jake liked and he tried everything in his power to talk the younger man into having someone look him over. But Starsky had been adamant and Jake couldn’t force him, although he did manage to get him to take two aspirin tablets and brought him extra drinks.

Now, as Traff and Hutch waited outside the cell, Jake let the doctor in and the medic went to work. Starsky eyed the advancing man with concern, his hand clutching at his chest as he backed up against the bars of the cell. The blond saw the look of terror in his partner’s eyes and thought for a moment that Starsky was going to fight the doctor off, hands defensively balling into fists. He licked his lips.

‘Starsk? Easy buddy’ Hutch’s voice was gentle, calming, penetrating the brunet’s fear. He knew his buddy wasn’t ready for more hands on him, but he needed treatment. The bruises that he could see were new and livid and he hated to think of what was hidden by the dirty blue shirt. At the best of times, Starsky was never good around hospitals, but now, with his attack still raw in his mind, this seemed somehow worse, as though the doctor would somehow violate him all over again. The scared indigo eyes skittered sideways. Gone was the whirlwind prize fighter. It was replaced by a small boy who was scared of the needles and what the doctor would do. Too many hands. Too many people invading his space. In desperation, his eyes found Hutch’s crystal blues and locked on, never wavering, boring into his partner’s soul and tapping the inner calm, drinking it down and holding it close to his chest. Despite the distance he’d put between them both, Hutch was and always had been his rock and now he clung to the blond’s gaze like a drowning man would cling to a life preserver.

‘That’s it Starsk. Nothing to it. Just let him check you out huh? I’m right here partner. I’m not goin’ anywhere. C’me’re. Over here an’ sit down’.

Hesitantly, the brunet crossed the cell and sat down on the bunk, his back wedged into the corner of the bars. Hutch reached through them and rested his hand on Starsky’s shoulder, feeling the trembling. ‘Sssh s’ok. You can do this. Just let him see to those cuts huh? Good’ he soothed, his hand rubbing small circles on the thin shoulders.

The doctor saw the fear in his patient’s eyes and frowned, immediately knowing that there was something more going on than a fighter who needed patching up but he knew better than to ask. Once Starsky took his shirt off, Hutch and Traff could see the extent of their friend’s injuries. He was thin, no doubt about that. Hutch estimated he’d dropped at least 5 pounds and his jeans, once snug around his hips now gaped and seemed loose. The fight in the bar had taken its toll and the final blow, where Deek had smashed him down on the table had caused cracked ribs. There was extensive bruising over the brunet’s chest and back, the worst being over his left ribs and as the doctor pressed his stethoscope to his patients’ chest his eyes narrowed.

‘Hmmm, you should have seen someone a while ago. You have the start of pneumonia and three cracked ribs that I can feel. You’ll need x-rays to confirm of course and antibiotics. Those I can give you now, but the plate will need to wait till you can get to a hospital. In the mean time I’ll strap your chest so at least it will make breathing easier’.

The doctor was as good as his word and after that went on to clean and place four stitches in the wound on Starsky’s arm and another two in the cut on his cheek. Starsky remained still throughout the procedures, hissing slightly at the needle piercing his skin, but he didn’t protest, even towards the end when the doctor gave him a shot of antibiotic. At the end of a couple of hours there were cotton swabs and bandages scattered around the floor of the cell and the brunet was covered in white bandages and tape, the majority centred on his chest and face. The ordeal, although not particularly painful, had taken its toll on the cop and now, he sat with his back against the bars, slumped and exhausted, but glad to have his friends there with him once more. Now at least, he felt he could relax.

While on one level it had been easier for Starsky to cut himself off from his friends and head for the hills and anonymity, he’d always felt edgy and jumpy on his own. His nerves jangled with each stranger he saw or each new voice he heard. He knew Shane Lewis was dead. But what the rapist had done to him lived on in his memory, haunting him both when he was awake and in his dreams at night. He couldn’t relax from the burden of keeping his mind either focussed on something else, or so drunk that he couldn’t care.

But now, with his two best friends close, he could relax and be himself. Hutch and Traff would watch his back while he slept, he knew that. And if he had a nightmare, the blond and the curly haired souldier would be there to calm him and ease away his fears. Why had he ever left them? Why had he felt it necessary to go away?

His memories of the days after the second attack were vague; distant; as though maybe they’d happened to someone else and had been told to him so long ago that he doubted if they were real. Now, in the safety of the jail cell and with his two buddies close by, he steeled himself and allowed his memory to wander back over time.

He remembered the first attack clearly – how could he ever forget? And he remembered a lot of the ensuing three months when the DA had got the trial ready. He shook as he remembered his time on the witness stand, although now, with distance, the memory didn’t seem to be quite so painful as it had been. The words and the accusations still smarted, but not with the same intensity.

And then there was that terrible night with Molly. That memory did hurt, but he forced himself to think it through. Yeah, that one was a bad one, and a memory he wished could have been erased. He hated what he’d done to the wonderful girl. She’d been trying to help him and he’d repaid her by….. Well. What was done was done and he couldn’t take it back. He’d lost his mind that night. That night he’d stopped being David Starsky and had become someone……no, something else. Something cold and unfeeling and somehow separated from reality.

After that, blessedly there was a gaping hole. He had only vague recollections of the second attack. He remembered a jumble of voices and sounds. He remembered being uncomfortable and his arms had hurt. There was pain, for sure, but nothing clear; nothing he could fix upon. He vaguely remembered Hutch leaning on him, the hospital and for some inexplicable reason a bandage on Hutch’s hand. And then home and a time where Traff was there and then, for some reason, the sound of seagulls and a cool breeze running through his hair. How weird was that?

When he allowed himself to think about it he couldn’t really remember how he’d come to this town, or why he was here, other than he wanted to escape from his previous life. He remembered the fights clearly enough and the days and nights in the small, mean motel room. And the nightmares when he’d woken in a sweat, crying out into the blackness and wishing he could pick up the phone and speak to Hutch. But he hadn’t, instead curling himself into a ball and riding out the nightmare till the morning and the next shot of bourbon.

The doctor finished tidying his equipment away and rested his hand briefly on his patient’s knee. ‘Look after yourself young man. You have good friends around you. That counts for a lot’.

‘Yeah, I know Doc. and thanks’ Starsky mumbled. It was almost too much of an effort to speak, the sleepiness washing over him in waves now that the pain killers were taking effect and his wounds had been cleaned and dressed.

As Traff walked with the doctor to the door and spoke briefly with the relieved Sheriff, Hutch watched his partner slump further against the bars.

‘Hey, Starsk, why not lie down and get some sleep huh?’ he said gently.


‘You look all in. Lie down and go to sleep buddy’.

‘Yeah, m’tired’ the brunet slid sideways until his body was stretched out on the bunk, his arms held protectively across his chest and his head next to the bars. He closed his eyes and sighed carefully.

‘Utch?’ he said drowsily.

‘Right here partner’.

‘Why d’ya come for me?’

‘What kind of a dumb question’s that?’

‘Just kinda wondered……Before….back there….I was….’

‘You were hurtin’ buddy’ Hutch said softly, carding his fingers through the mahogany curls poking through the bars.

‘Uh huh. But still…..’

‘Just go t’sleep Starsk. You’ll feel better after you’ve slept’.

Starsky forced his head back, so that he could look at Hutch upside down. ‘Already feel better…..thanks’.

Traff came back into the room a few minutes later and smiled at the picture before him. Starsky was fast asleep, his handsome face relaxed and pain free for the first time in a long time. Beside him, and separated by the prison bars, Hutch knelt on the hard concrete floor, his hand wedged between the bars and resting on his partner’s shoulder. He walked over to his two friends.

‘How’s he doin’?’ he asked.

‘He’s exhausted. And God knows how he got into this state. Look at him! Its like he’s been in some fight’.

Traff snickered. ‘Seven to be exact’.


‘Our Curly was making his money as a bare knuckle fighter. Look at his hands’.

‘A ba…..Oh my god!’ Hutch saw the bloodied and skinned knuckles for the first time. Before, his attention had been fully focussed on Starsky’s bruised chest, back and face and now he studied the hands, fingers bloodied, some taped, some raw and swollen. ‘Jesus! Most men’d just resort to stealin’.

‘Not Curly, he’s straight through an’ through’ the soldier chuckled. ‘Jake told me he arrived here late at night eight days ago. Kinda terrorised the natives and got himself a name for bein’ good an’ tough. He won all seven fights, by the way’.

‘Doesn’t look like he won the last one’.

‘No, that was a whole different ball game. Seems he walked in on the bar keeper beatin’ up on his wife. The caped crusader there came to the rescue and he and Deek, the owner started scrappin’. That’s how he ended up here. The woman’s so scared of her man she didn’t want to press charges, so Jake had no option but to lock Curly up for his own good, more ‘n anythin’ else’.

The two men spoke with Jake as the evening wore on. The sheriff was an old timer, who’d spent most of his working life in the small town. He knew all the residents, and was happy to have a place where the most serious offences were usually associated with neighbours arguing over livestock. At around 10 o’clock, there was a soft knock on the door and Jake got up stiffly and opened it. He smiled at the young girl who stood holding a large tray covered in a cloth.

‘Supper’ he said as he took the tray and set it down on the small table. ‘I’m real sorry boys, I can’t let him out till tomorrow, but if’n ya don’t mind sleepin’ here, there’s bunks in the other cells, an’ some soup an’ bread to eat’.

Hutch grinned. ‘So long as you don’t lock the doors, that’ll be fine. And Jake? Thanks’.

They watched as the sheriff left. He was a good man and he’d recognised the good in the brunet too, almost as though he was a kindred spirit.

The three men were left alone and as Traff lifted the cloth from the tray and the aroma of the hot onion soup and new baked bread wafted around the small jail, Starsky woke almost immediately, his stomach rumbling. Pausing for a moment as he remembered where he was, he forced himself to sit up and look around.

Hutch snorted. ‘Some things never change. He can smell food a mile away’.

‘Uh huh. He always used to first in the chow line at camp. How’re ya doin’ curly?’

The brunet looked wryly at his friends. ‘Dunno, you tell me’.

‘Well apart from the fact that you look like you tried to wrestle a rhino and didn’t win, I think you’re gonna make it’.

Starsky clutched his hand to his bandaged ribs. ‘Feel like it too’ he grunted. What smells so good?’

‘Jake left us food. You’re stuck here till tomorrow, but we got free accommodation for the night. We can have a party!’

The brunet looked dubiously at the soldier. ‘Party huh?’

‘Yeah. We got the food, we can get some chicks, maybe play a little music’.

‘”Jail House Rock”?’ Hutch offered

‘”Doin’ my Time”’ Traff said

‘How about “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”?’ Starsky said, his eyes following his two friends closely.

‘How about you aint lonesome any more’ Hutch replied softly.

‘Yeah. I like the sound of that’ the brunet agreed, resting his forehead against the cool metal.

Chapter 30 – Epilogue.

Hutch whistled tunelessly as he drove the car though the early evening traffic. It had been almost a week since he and Traff had found Starsky up in the town of Calico, behind bars for the first legitimate time in his life. True to his word, the day after they found him, Jake had opened the cell door and declared that Starsky was free to go and in the nicest sense of the sentiment, he never wanted to see the brunet again.

They’d driven back to Bay City quietly. Starsky had enjoyed the scenery, the drive and most of all the comfort of having his friends around him again. He was tired, and his body and mind still needed healing time, but he was easier in his mind and felt happy in his body again.

Two days after he got home, he and Hutch walked quietly into the doctor’s green painted surgery and Starsky had his first session with Dr Roberts, a psychiatrist who had come highly recommended. Not an over-the-top type of man, Roberts had sat quietly, nodding appropriately and passing no comment as the cop had outlined his story of abuse and the shame he felt both for it and his consequent action. Hutch had been amazed at the change that had come over his partner and was almost unbelieving when he’d suggested a visit to Roberts and Starsky had agreed. The session lasted an hour and at the end of the time Starsky got back into the car quietly, slept all the way home and all that night too. He seemed more at peace with himself than he had been for months and Hutch had even seen a slight strut returning to the slim hips.

Traff had been recalled to his base early to take on a job in Colombia and so now Hutch was driving the two of them down to the beach.

‘Ya don’t have to’ Starsky said quietly. ‘I’m feelin’ good. No need to nursemaid me any more’.

‘I know. But you bring out the Mother in me’ Hutch grinned. ‘And besides I have a surprise for ya’.

The brunet brightened visibly. ‘A surprise? What? Tell’.

‘If I told ya, mushbrain, it wouldn’t be a surprise would it?’

‘But if you tell me now I can prepare….kinda savour it’ Starsky persisted.

‘I bet you were one of those kids’.

‘Huh? One of which kids?’

‘The kids that start searching the house about October looking for Christmas presents’ Hutch said.

‘Was not!’

The flaxen haired cop looked sideways, a disbelieving look on his face.

‘OK, but it was November, not October. My Mom always used to go out on the second week in November and buy stuff for me an’ Nick. And then she’d hide it in the top of her closet. And me an’ Nick would find ‘em and guess what they were’.

‘So that you got to savour the surprise?’ Hutch grinned.

‘No, so as we knew what we had to swap when we went back to school! Had to get a good exchange rate. That’s how I got my full set of baseball tradin’ cards’.

‘You’re incorrigible; you know that, don’t ya?’

‘No, I’m Pisces!’

Hutch pulled the car into the parking lot by the jetty, the same one he’d parked at a couple of weeks ago under less than happy circumstances. He turned off the engine and put his arm over the back of the seat. Starsky looked at him quizzically.

‘So? What now? We sit an’ count the waves? Some new kind of therapy?’

‘Nope. Now you go for a walk’ Hutch said, pointing down the beach.

‘This aint some trick is it? You’re getting one over one me for havin’ ya chase up into the mountains. I get out an’ start walkin’ and you drive off? I’m not gonna be suckered Blondie’.

‘Straight up Starsk. No suckerin’ involved. Just a walk on the beach fair and square’.

‘I think that’s “walk in the park” but I’ll ride with it. Are ya comin’?’

The flaxen haired man shook his head. ‘Uh uh’.

‘Just me? On the beach. On my own’ Starsky said hesitantly.

‘I said it was a surprise. Just go huh?’

Slowly the brunet opened the car door and got out, his left hand still protectively clutching his chest. He closed the door and looked in through the open window. ‘And you’ll still be here when I come back? How far d’ya want me to walk? Gimme a clue’.

‘Starsk, just walk. I’ll be here, promise. Now go!’

The sable haired cop walked out onto the sun warmed sand, pausing to shake off his sandals. He carried them in one hand as he walked slowly down to the waters edge, looking back over his shoulder once to make sure Hutch was still there. Traff and Hutch had been with him constantly since he came back from Calico and now he felt oddly uncomfortable at being alone. He’d enjoyed their company and knew he would never be able to repay their friendship towards him. Stupidly a tear came to his eye at the thought and he snickered softly to himself at the unbidden emotion, allowing the sea breeze to dry the moisture from his face. He waved and the blond waved back before Starsky turned and started to walk towards the rocky headland following the same path he’d taken with his old Army buddy those days ago. The beach was deserted, only one distant figure to be seen and the figure was walking his way.

Starsky became lost in his thoughts. So much had happened. So much had changed in his life and yet the one constant was his friendship both with Traff and with his partner. He couldn’t imagine a life without Hutch. He was his rock. The one anchor in an ever changing life filled with trials and tribulations. His session with Dr Roberts had left him feeling more tranquil than he had in months if not years and he’d promised to return the following week for more help, the doctor telling him straight that the emotional damage that had been done to him would take years to heal and may never truly disappear. Starsky had nodded, realising that in a way it was similar to getting over his experience as a POW. It had been tough, but he’d fought through until he could handle the memories although they would always remain with him. He sighed, wishing this had never happened, but it had and he had to deal with it and each day would be tough, but for now, he enjoyed the feeling of the sand between his toes and the cool water lapping at his ankles and he allowed his mind to wander to more pleasant things.

The brunet walked slowly on, the evening sun still warm on his face and the water cool underfoot. He didn’t notice the only other figure on the beach walking towards him. He didn’t notice how they paused for a moment to watch him looking out to sea, his eyes the very colour of the waves he watched. But as he glanced up the beach, he saw the figure begin to run towards him and his breath hitched in his throat. Slowly he started to walk towards the other person, his heart hammering in his chest. It couldn’t be! Not after everything that life had thrown at them. And yet…..

The gap between them narrowed and his face cracked into a wide, shy grin as Molly ran at him, flinging her arms around his neck as she covered his face with kisses and whispered in his ear. ‘I love you Dave Starsky’. Her legs wrapped around his waist as he swung her round and round, the waves splashing up his legs and catching at the hem of her skirt.

‘Oh my God. I thought I’d never see you again. Molly. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It wasn’t me……that monster. It wasn’t…and I hurt you’ he mumbled, feeling the prickle of tears behind his eyes. He gazed into her eyes, looking for some accusation or remnant of the damage he’d caused her, but all that shone back was a calm acceptance, and love.

‘I know that Dave. Don’t talk about that. What’s done is done. I’m just so happy to have you back, my own Davey. Its like we’ve got a second chance now’.

‘Uh huh, a second chance….if you’ll have me?’

She pulled away from him for a moment to look into his handsome face. ‘Nothing will ever keep you away from me’ she said earnestly. ‘Other than maybe that blond partner of yours’.


‘He loves you, you know’ she said slightly breathlessly ‘Even more than I do’.

‘Yeah, I know, honey. And I love him too’.

‘And me? Do I still have my fun loving man back?’

‘If you want me. I’m still kinda getting’ over the whole thing, but I guess I got my marbles back. And I rode down here in Hutch’s car, so I must’ve got the sense of humour back. He’s waitin’ by the jetty’.

‘I know’ she said shyly.

Starsky put her down and looked at her shining eyes and open, beautiful face. ‘You know?’

She grinned. ‘Who do you think set this up? I’ve been wanting to see you all week, but he thought you needed some time to adjust. He told me what happened Dave. I’m so…’

Starsky put his finger to her lips. ‘Shh. This is too special. Don’t say nuthin. Let’s just enjoy the moment huh?’

‘We should start back. Hutch will worry’ she said as she took his hand and started to walk up the beach with him. She appraised the thinner frame, the slight limp, the scars, bandages, cuts and bruises and thanked her lucky stars that inside he was still the man she loved.

‘Do we have to go back?’ he asked quietly. ‘I like it out here with you’.

Molly looked at her watch. ‘Yeah, we need to go back. But we can come back to the beach tomorrow. Trust me, it’ll be worth walking back to the car’.

As they neared the jetty, the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon. It had been a hot day and now a gentle warm breeze fluffed the tops of the waves and the evening stars were beginning to put in an appearance. The beach was deserted and disconcertingly, so was Hutch’s car, but that didn’t seem to phase Molly and she led her man past the parking lot and down into the small cove at the other side of the jetty.

Starsky hitched a breath. There, beneath the rapidly darkening sky, set out on the powder white sand was a table set for four. A candle flickered in the gentle evening breeze and the snowy white tablecloth fluttered. The brunet stopped in his tracks.

‘What’s all this?’ he asked softly.

As if from nowhere, and as surreal as a Picasso painting, Hutch and his girl Mia appeared dressed in full tuxedo and waitress' outfit. As they solemnly pulled the chairs out for Starsky and Molly to sit down, they poured flutes of champagne and lifted the lid on a large plate of seafood and salad.

Molly turned her beautiful face towards the sable haired cop and smiled.

‘Just to let you know we love you so much and to make sure you don’t ever go away again’ she said as she raised her glass. The other two followed and Starsky’s eyes fixed on the crystal blues across the table from him.

Hutch raised his glass in a toast. ‘To the survivor’ he said and winked knowingly at his partner. Starsky smiled back shyly and raised his own glass.

‘To the best friends a man could ever have’.



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