I wrote this back when Starsky and Hutch was actually still in first run, in 1978, and it has lain in the dust since then. I thought maybe it should see the light after 22 years. I did shine it up some, but the original story is still there.
Feedback is always appreciated at Dawnrca@earthlink.net
MAKE BELIEVE YOU'RE BRAVE
Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune so no on will suspect I'm afraid.
While shivering in my shoes I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune and no one ever knows I'm afraid
The result of this deception is very strange to tell.
For when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.
I whistle a happy tune and every single time,
The happiness in the tune convinces me that I'm not afraid.
Make believe you're brave and the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave as you make believe you are.
Rodgers and Hammerstein--The King and I
Rush hour traffic bypassed Edwards Street since the construction of the nearby freeway onramp so that by six p.m. on a February Friday night the only movement on the street was a piece of newspaper dancing in the gusty wind.
A small boy, his shirttails flapping, ran down the sidewalk. At the door of each storefront, he paused, touching the doorknob. At the candy store, he peered through the frosted glass. Just open the door, the man had said, open the door. Maybe take a few pieces of candy and remember to let the alarm ring. It was easy enough and he was gonna get six dollars.
Taking out a small screwdriver, the boy pried open the lock and slipped inside the building as the burglar alarm started to scream. After stuffing his pockets with chocolate bars, the child ran out, disappearing around the corner to Zion Street.
From a darkened doorway across Edwards a man smiled. It was going according to plan.
One street over, a black and white cruised slowly, stopping at the crosswalk to let a small boy eating chocolate run across. Once the car passed, the child dropped down beside an abandoned blue Ford. Slipping his skinny arm into the open passenger side car window, he pulled an envelope of one dollar bills out of the glove compartment.
"Two eleven in progress! A burglar alarm at 943 Edwards Street," the dispatcher's voice announced. "Niner Four Three Edwards Street. Any car in the area, please respond."
"This is Adam 24," Jasen Collier spoke into the radio mike. "We're only a block away, are responding. Out."
"OK. Adam 24. 10-4," the dispatcher echoed.
"S'probably some vandals or something," Thomas Rochard groaned, flicking on the siren and bearing down on the accelerator pedal. The black and white sped across Jackson Blvd and screeched around the corner to 943 Edwards Street.
Collier jumped out, settling his blue uniform cap on his dark curly hair. He scanned the front of the candy store as Rochard joined him. "Somebody broke the lock." Collier shrugged. "Kids."
"I'll take a look inside, go around the back and see it they're still around," Rochard suggested.
"Sure." Jasen Collier sprinted to the corner.
"Jase," Rochard called. "Nobody's inside and there's nothing much missing."
As Collier turned around, he caught a glimpse of movement from the deserted tenement across the street. "Hey--" he called. Any more words were cut off as a bullet slammed into his chest.
"My God." Rochard froze, as he watched Collier pitch forward onto the sidewalk like a carelessly thrown piece of trash. Police training dictated that Rochard should pursue the sniper, but Collier was bleeding profusely. Torn between going after whoever had shot Collier and helping his partner, Rochard ran to Jasen, but his eyes scanned the nearby surroundings. He thought there might be a suspicious movement across in an alley, but he was distracted by Collier's gasping breathing. Reaching into the car, he picked up the mike. "This is Adam 24." His voice shaking, he stared at his fallen partner. "Officer d-down..."
"Adam 24." The dispatcher asked.
"Blood." Rochard felt a tightening in his throat. "Uh...my partner's been shot...he's down."
"Police Officer down, Ambulance requested at 943 Edwards Street." The dispatcher sent out the announcement over the police band, "Additional police assistance required."
"Jasen." Rochard knelt next to his partner, placing a gentle finger on his carotid. The dark haired man lay sprawled on the sidewalk, his blue uniform dark purple from the blood. Collier was dead.
"Starsky. Hutchinson." Harold Dobey, captain of the metropolitan police department's detective division blared from his office door.
"Comin', Cap'n." David Starsky stuffed the last of a hamburger into his mouth and wiped greasy fingers on the seat of his blue jeans.
"Where's Hutchinson?" Dobey growled.
"He was here a second ago." Starsky shrugged. "Anyway, Cap'n, what was it you wanted us for?"
"I'll tell you when your partner gets back," the Captain answered. "I'll see you two in my office in one minute."
"Hutch is here." Starsky indicated a slender, blond-haired man coming in the double doors from the hall.
"Hutchinson, in my office," Dobey ordered.
"What's he want?" Ken Hutchinson asked his dark haired partner.
"He's growling like a bear." Starsky flopped into an over stuffed chair in the corner of the Captain's office, Hutch leaning comfortably against the arm.
"What'd you say, Starsky?" Dobey pulled out a pile of folders.
"I'm takin' this chair, I said." Starsky sighed. "Cap'n, what'd you want?"
"We got a cop killer on the loose." Dobey opened a manila folder and extracted three photographs. "Up until this morning, we didn't think there was much connection between the two killings, but a third man was shot only three hours ago." He handed the pictures to Hutch. "All three uniformed men. I'm not giving the press any story yet, but there's a connection."
Spreading the three pictures out on the desk, Hutch looked them over. "When did the killings start?"
"Last Monday, February 6th." Dobey pointed to a picture of a young, dark haired man in police uniform. "Andrew Cutler, shot while investigating a flasher report." He pointed to the second picture. "Paul Ravelli, shot on Thursday while on a routine check of an elementary school. The last one is Jasen Collier, killed this evening while checking out a candy store break in. The first two bullets were the same, the third is still pending, but there's another connection."
"They all look alike," Starsky put in.
"Yah. All under six feet, dark curly hair, all in their late twenties." Dobey chewed his bottom lip. "I'm issuing a bulletin to all policemen to use strict caution. Everybody going on a call goes with back up. But nothing's official, OK?"
"Cap'n, why'd you tell us?" Starsky asked. "I mean, you're planning to tell everybody anyway."
"Starsk, who in this room fits that description?" Hutch asked grimly.
"Terrific." Starsky laughed cynically. "Let's hope he's had his fill of killin'."
"Get out on the street," Dobey ordered. "Keep your eyes open and be careful."
"We always are," Hutch said lightly. "Thanks, Captain." He grabbed his leather jacket from the coat rack and followed Starsky to the garage. Dobey's words resounded in his brain. A cop killer. Some deranged person out there gunning down curly-haired brunette policemen.
"Did you talk to Mickey about that fence?" Starsky asked as they climbed into his bright red Torino with the white stripe slashing down the sides.
"I asked you to call Mickey, my fink, about the jewelry fence," Starsky elaborated, starting the car.
"Yah." Hutch dug into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "He said, no, Damon didn't leave two diamonds at Fat Rolly's, beside why would he know?"
"I think he wants more money." Starsky braked coming out of the garage entrance to avoid an oncoming patrol car.
"Did you know any of those guys? The ones who were killed?" Hutch asked.
"That's buggin' you, isn't it?" Starsky glanced at the man next to him. "No, what were their names again? Collier, Cutler and..."
"Ravelli," Hutch supplied. "Ah, yah, it bugs me when somebody goes around shooting cops just cause they're doin' their jobs." He could feel his stomach contacting with increasing worry for his partner, who was acting as if there was no point to his concern.
"You don't have to worry, you don't fit the bill," Starsky reminded.
"Starsky, be serious."
"OK, I won't talk to you, grouch." Starsky understood Hutch's mood, but he wasn't ready to follow it, yet. His more happy-go-lucky attitude refused to believe such horrible things could happen to him. Pulling the Torino onto the main boulevard he revved the motor a little, enjoying the feel of the powerful engine. It was a fun car to drive.
Both detectives kept their eyes on the sidewalks as they cruised the streets, keeping tabs on the pimps, prostitutes and drug pushers who inhabited their beat. The avenues were crowded with the night owls, people who conducted their more illegal activities under cover of darkness. As the unmarked police car's headlights swept the sidewalk, bodies scurried away like cockroaches in a kitchen after the light is turned on. Starsky and Hutch remained alert, on the lookout for any of their snitches who might be out at this hour.
"Hey." Hutch nodded. "There's Reny."
"OK." Starsky swung a sharp U-turn and pulled up next to a fire hydrant. Hutchinson jumped out of the car in time to grab a small, skinny man by the arm.
"Evening, Reny." Hutch backed the small time thief up against a brick wall.
"Hi, Hutch," Reny answered, not quite as enthusiastically. "What'er you and Starsky doing tonight?"
"Nuthin' much." Starsky leaned one arm against the wall. "We wondered what you were doin', Reny?"
"Oh, nuthin' much," Reny mimicked with a weaselly smile. He pulled a tattered pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket. "Wanna smoke?"
"We wondered who you were doing nuthin' with," Hutch asked. "Have you seen Fat Rolly or Julian tonight?"
"Hey, no!" Reny lit the cigarette quickly. "I don't hang around with them. I got my parole to think about."
" I din' know you were that concerned with your parole, Reny." Starsky nodded. "That's admirable, but we don't believe you at all."
"Honest, Starsky, Hutch, it's the truth. I haven't seen 'em." He glanced from one man to the other. "Tonight."
"When did you last see them, then?" Starsky specified.
"Uh, this morning."
"Good, we're getting somewhere." Hutch smiled. "Which one?"
"Julian. He was at his place, looking over some paperwork," Reny finally surrendered as Starsky applied a little physical pressure.
"Of a buy?" Hutch pressed.
"Yah, I guess, yah." Reny nervously blew a cloud of smoke out of his nostrils, rubbing his arm where Starsky had left a bruise. "He just had a buncha papers, no jewels or anything."
"Thanks so much, Reny." Starsky waggled his fingers as he and Hutch climbed into the car. "Well, he wasn't a lot of help. Julian could have made any number of buys, it isn't likely he'd show Reny a million dollar sale."
"Let's check out some more street talk," Hutch suggested, "Try Huggy's."
Starting up the engine, Starsky scowled. "This is like one of those birthday party games, treasure hunt. Go to each house and hope you find what you're looking for."
"Isn't most of the stuff we do like that?"
"Yah, but lookin' for a coupla pieces of ice..." Starsky groaned.
"Starsky, million dollar diamonds don't classify as ice."
"Yah, but who cares about 'em." Starsky waved a hand as if dismissing the notion. He recalled Hutch's earlier mood. "They're just a coupla shined up rocks, the hell with 'em. I wanna go out and get that cop killer. That matters. Somebody dyin', that matters."
Hutch nodded. " I wish everyone else thought so." An ambulance roared past, sirens blaring shrilly, interrupting anything else Hutch might have said. Cars on both sides of the road pulled aside to let the emergency vehicle past.
"What would you think if he got me?" Starsky asked suddenly. "If I died."
"Starsky." Hutch took a sharp intake of breath. Even imagining the idea made it hard to breathe. "That's sickening. I wouldn't think about it."
"Before, you told me to be serious." Starsky glanced sideways at his friend. "I am serious."
"I'd feel..." Hutch felt inexplicably desolate. "Lost."
"And alone," Starsky said softly. But he was thinking of loosing Hutch. He parked the car in front of a brightly-lit brick building labeled The Pits. Blaring music issued from within, almost making the sidewalk shake. "Coming?"
"Yah." The two detectives entered the crowded room, elbowing their way to the bar.
"Hey, my two favorite cops." The black, elfin-faced owner grinned. His real name had long been forgotten, but everyone called him Huggy Bear. "Is this a raid or a social call?"
"Would we call on you socially?" Starsky teased. "We're on business."
"So, you don't want no drinks?" Huggy groaned. "Why do you come in here, anyway?"
"Street talk." Starsky answered. "Or bar talk."
"I wanna beer," Hutch ordered.
"You ain't supposed to drink on duty," Huggy reminded.
"What time is it?" Hutch asked.
"We go off duty in forty-five minutes," the blond cop reasoned. "No one'll ever know if you don't tell."
"What about me?" Starsky asked. His answer was a stern look from Hutch. "Huggy, heard anything on a couple of pieces of ice...diamonds?" He quickly corrected himself.
"Big ones or small ones?" Huggy poured Hutch the beer.
"All diamonds are small." Starsky absently ate a pretzel from a bowl on the bar. "Why, have you heard of more than one score?"
"No, man." Huggy slid the beer over to Hutch. "No ice within miles of here. I ain't heard nothing. Just asking."
Drinking the beer solemnly, Hutch contemplated the conversation he'd had with Starsky in the car. He couldn't even imagine life without Starsky. They were like two halves of a whole, incomplete without the other. He sat sipping the beer, deep in depressing thought; unaware of anything Huggy and Starsky were discussing.
"Listen, if Julian was making a diamond buy." Huggy continued. "I'd know, maybe it wouldn't be common street talk, but I'd know."
"So inform us when." Starsky stood up. "C'mon, Hutch."
"S'twelve o'clock, end of shift. I'm leaving."
After a discouraging Saturday shift in which they didn't even arrest a hooker, much less track down the diamonds, Starsky was ready to call it quits. Hutch held out all day Sunday. Finally, as they ate a boring dinner at Hannah's burgers, even Hutch agreed that the diamonds were a lost cause. There had been no leads and both were beginning to wonder if the ill-fated jewels had ever actually existed. Hutch grimaced as his touchy stomach threatened to refuse the greasy hamburger he'd just fed it.
"So, that ends that." Starsky growled into his coke. "Was useless, anyway."
"You're kind of pessimistic today," Hutch observed.
"It's..." Any further comment by the dark-haired member of the partnership was cut short by a sharp beeping sound. "Damn." Starsky removed the beeper from his back pocket and stopped it. Hutch was already out the door and headed for the car.
"Zebra three," he spoke into the car mike.
"Captain Dobey wants to talk to you," the dispatcher informed him. There was a series of odd squawks and beeps as the telephone from Dobey's office was patched in.
"Hutchinson?" Dobey asked.
"There's been another shooting, on Rochester Avenue. I think it's the fourth victim of the same bastard. Get over there and check it out."
"We're going now, Cap'n," Hutch answered.
Rochester Avenue was blocked off a both ends with black-and-whites and swarms of people, both police and civilians. Once a popular shopping destination, the shops and storefronts now showed their age. Most were abandoned, windows boarded up and covered with graffiti. The few still in business needed paint and care. The faces of the people crowding in for a view of the dead man reflected the buildings, long past their prime and needing some hope in their lives. They weren't going to get any this night. Starsky swung the Torino up as close to the sidewalk as he could and both men got out.
"Where is he?" Hutch asked a young sergeant who was trying to control the crowd.
"In front of the clothing store," he replied.
"Hey, there's the ambulance." Starsky pointed to a low white vehicle inching through the swarms of people. "He must be still alive."
A small group of uniformed cops were ringed around the body of their fallen comrade, watching paramedics try to stop the bleeding.
Starsky knelt down next to the injured policeman. A plainclothes vice cop, he was dressed in a flashy burgundy suit, fitting the mysterious killer's pattern, having the characteristic dark curly hair.
"What's his name?" Hutch asked.
"Mike O'Brien. There's his partner over there," a uniformed man replied, pointing out a pretty red-haired girl who appeared to be barely out of her teens. "Lacy Calhane."
"Pretty," Hutch muttered to himself. The girl was dressed in a micro-mini skirt and spike heels, the picture of a low class prostitute. If Mike O'Brien was the fourth victim, then his cover as a pimp had been broken. It was improbable that the killer would go to all the trouble to go after someone undercover. It would be so much easier to target only uniformed men.
"Lacy Calhane?" Hutch asked.
"Yes." She raised her face from her hands, tears on her cheeks. The chill of the evening air had rouged her delicate complexion but underneath, her skin was waxy with shock.
"Sergeant Ken Hutchinson," he introduced himself. "Did you see what happened?"
"Uh, no, not really." She rubbed her bare arms. The wind was coming up and there was a bite in the air. "You can see what I am supposed to be.... I was standing on the corner and Mike was there...where he is now." Lacy shook her head. "And I heard a shot. It is dark, y'know...God..."
"Yah." Hutch took off his leather jacket and draped it over her shoulders. "Where do you think it came from?"
Lacy gulped back the tears in her throat, thinking for a moment. "Back down at the end of the street. Because I didn't see...anything."
"Were you on a call, or just walking your..." Hutch searched for the correct term. "Beat?"
"Just street walking," Lacy said with an ironic edge on her voice. "A kid came by about five minutes earlier and left me a note that there was a guy who was interested in me and would meet me on the corner at 9:30. Probably a set up, huh? Some cop I am." She closed her eyes, trying to hold back the tears still streaming down her cheeks.
Hutch put his arms around the woman, letting her cry. He stared over her head at the place where the sharpshooter must have been. Somewhere out in the dark was some maniac with a gun. He could be watching right now, waiting for another opportunity to strike.
Starsky watched with an impassive expression as one of the paramedics covered Mike O'Brien's face with a sheet. He was dead. Four men had died and no one could predict who would be next. Turning around, Starsky saw his partner comforting the girl. Well, she had to be told.
"Honey, are you all right?" Hutch asked. Lacy nodded. "This is my partner, Dave Starsky. Starsk, Lacy Calhane."
"I don't exactly know how to say this, but..." Starsky started, gesturing back towards the paramedics still standing over the body.
"He died?" she whispered. "Oh, my God."
"Lacy, can we drive you to the station?" Hutch took her arm and led her to the Torino. She nodded dumbly, shaking with shock.
Captain Dobey hung up the phone in his office with a grim face. "That was the morgue. The bullet matched the other three."
"Terrific." Starsky stood up, jittery from too much coffee and adrenaline. "We oughta try talking to Lacy in the morning. Her statement was kind of sketchy."
"Yah, yah." Hutch took a drink of cold coffee, weariness stamped on every cell in his body. "Captain, every newspaper and TV station in town is camped outside, are you going to issue a press release now?"
"By two a.m. They gave me some time to organize it." Dobey grimaced. "We'll probably have a panic on our hands. Or some fool who feels he can go after that maniac by himself."
"Captain." Jenny Dreyfess, a uniformed policewoman who manned the desk outside, stuck her head in. "There's a phone call."
" Tell 'em I'm in conference, Jenny." Dobey waved her away.
"Sir, I think you'd better take it. He says he killed a cop tonight," Dreyfess told the Captain.
Dobey sat up quickly. "I'll take it. Try to get a trace on it."
"Line five," she said.
Punching the button marked five and the one, which allowed everyone in the room to hear the caller, Dobey said, "Hello?"
"You captain of the pigs?" a voice muttered.
Starsky glanced at Hutch, neither recognized the voice.
"I'm Captain Dobey, head of the Metro Detectives Division."
"OK, Dobey, I guess you know why I'm callin' and I ain't talking long enough to get this traced."
"I killed me another pig and he ain't gonna be the last. I'm gonna kill every one of them curly-haired bastards til I get the one who did it." There was a click and sudden silence.
"Who did what?" Hutch asked softly.
Dobey punched another button on his phone. "Jenny, did they get a trace?" he asked without much hope. The conversation had been too short.
"No, sorry, Captain, not even a direction," Jenny sighed.
"We got somebody who's got a revenge motive." Dobey picked up a pen and turned it slowly between his fingers. "And he isn't gonna let us see him til he's done."
"Captain, Lacy told me one thing which keeps bothering me." Hutch leaned against the filing cabinet. "She said a kid gave her a note to wait on the corner at nine thirty, for a john. Maybe it was from him."
"So, we get a description from her and find that kid," Dobey ordered. "It's the only lead we have."
"First we're lookin' for diamonds and now kids." Starsky threw up his hands.
"'Scuse me, Ah'm lookin' for Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson?" Darryl Washington looked hopefully around the crowded metropolitan detective's squad room. All hands pointed towards the end of the long table where the lone half of the twosome was hunched over his paperwork, scribbling furiously, left-handed.
"Hutchinson or Starsky?" Washington asked politely.
Starsky looked up, then stood, looking up higher. Darryl Washington stood at least six four, had the neck of a pro-ball quarterback and a glossy, black skinned bald head. Next to him, Starsky felt dwarfed at five-eleven.
"Dave Starsky." He stuck out a hand. Washington's huge fingers completely engulfed Starsky's.
Hi," Washington introduced himself. "Mah Captain at Sutter Precinct said you were headin' up the investigation into this cop killer."
"Yah, I'm not really sure how exactly we got to be head of anything, but we wanted to talk to you." Starsky waved him over to a chair. "Hutch'll be..." Once Darryl had seated himself, Starsky could see his partner coming in the door. "Right here. Hutch, this is Cutler's partner, Washington."
"Thanks for coming over." Hutch set down the soda he had bought, as Starsky perched on the desk with his feet on his chair. "I know you've probably gone over this a half dozen times, but it would bring us up to speed if you could remember everything that happened when Cutler was shot."
"Man." Darryl scratched his chin, a mournful expression on his face. "Ah only been on the force for a coupla' months, me an' Cutler were really startin' to gel, y'know?" He shook his head, "There was a report of a flasher on Rochester and Sutter. We got out of the car to look around, but there weren't nuthin' t'see. Guy musta been gone by then. Dispatch said some ol' man had been showing his pecker in the street."
"Who called it in?" Hutch interjected.
Darryl shrugged. "No name, I dunno. So, I was radioin' in that we were gonna leave, when I saw Andy jerk." He swallowed tightly, his Adams apple bobbing. "He just looked like a...toy...like the bat'ries run out--an' this big bloodstain on his shirt, blood running down..." He broke off, covering his eyes for a moment.
"Did you see the shooter?" Starsky asked when Washington had composed himself.
"Never saw a thang. I was still in the squad car." He shook his head. "Ah never expected anythang like that. Him getting' shot. He was a good man, a new baby son..." Darryl picked up the file from the desk, pulling out a photo of Andrew Cutler. "He never said anything 'bout being partner'd with me. Some of them older guys there are prejudice. I hear 'em. But Andy was cool. Man." His voice broke briefly, "An' now he's the first of a serial cop killer--I'll never get used to that."
"It's not something anybody gets used to." Starsky handed him a cup of water. "We talked to Joe Goldstine, Ravelli's partner and Thomas Rochard this morning. It's every cop's nightmare."
Hutch found himself almost unable to speak. The graphic description of Cutler falling like a broken doll imprinted itself indelibly on his mind's eye, except he kept seeing Starsky in Cutler's place, with a blossom of crimson blood across his chest.
"Hutch?" Starsky repeated, slightly concerned at his friend's stricken expression. "Did you hear me?"
"What?" Hutch pulled himself into the present. Both Starsky and Washington were looking expectantly at him. He'd obviously missed a point in the conversation. "Uh, Washington, thank you for going through it all again. We need every bit of information we can get." He searched for a topic to lighten the meeting, "You play pro ball? Look like a linebacker."
Washington grinned shyly. "Just over two years ago Ah was MVP at Georgia Tech, but mah mama didn't want no dumb jock for a son. She wanted a policeman in a blue uniform."
"So did mine," Starsky joked lightly, still worried about Hutch. "And look what she got. You take it easy, Washington. Did you take some time off?"
"Startin' back t'work today--'spect Ah'll get stuck with Sergeant Majors, he's 'bout to retire. But Ah gotta get back on that horse." He respectfully shook each detectives' hand. "You find that man who shot Andy, Ah'll help in any way Ah can. You find him and you nail his hide to the wall." He departed with a sketchy wave of goodbye.
Hutch sank into his desk chair, overwhelmed by the three stories of violent death he'd heard that morning. He was so tired. Plus, they still had to talk to Lacy Calhane again. He didn't want to. Didn't want to hear about one more young, dark curly-haired policeman dying.
"Hutch?" Starsky snagged the forgotten soda and swallowed a big gulp.
"Four dead cops..." Hutch whispered, "And they all look like you, Starsk."
"It's not gonna happen, Hutch." Starsky cupped his hand on the back of his friend's neck, briefly massaging the rigid tendons. "Not to me."
"How do you know?" Hutch asked bleakly.
"Nice place for a cop who plays a prostitute." Starsky glanced up at the modern singles apartment building. The architecture reflected a Frank Lloyd Wright influence, with strong simple lines and staircases outlined in chrome.
'"Starsky, she's a nice girl." Hutch forced a light tone, trying not to dwell on black thoughts.
"Yah, well you're the one who read her personnel file."
"Had to find an address." The blond man consulted his notepad. "Apartment 25 B."
"What else was in her files?" Starsky gave his partner a teasing smirk. "Age, arrest record, measurements?" He followed Hutchinson up one of the staircases to the second floor. All the apartments opened onto a communal balcony that spanned the entire building.
"Uh, 36-27-37, and that I didn't have to read that in her files." Hutch grinned. "There's 25B." He knocked on the door and after a few minutes, Lacy opened it.
"Oh, G'morning, Hutch. Starsky," she said in a soft voice.
"How are you feeling this morning, honey?" Hutch asked as she led them into an eclectically furnished living room. Bright green and blue upholstered furniture vied for attention with Caribbean landscapes and an oversized stuffed parrot resting in the window.
"Better, I guess.... It just seems so senseless." She shook her head, the red curls dancing like waves on the ocean.
Hutch glanced over at his partner who was inspecting the colorful objects adorning the walls and bookcase. Senseless was certainly one way to put it. "I know." He sat down on the green couch next to her. "Captain Dobey wants us on the case, and so far you're the only lead we have."
"What about the others, who were...killed?" Lacy twisted a hank of bright hair.
"Their partners gave statements and we've also talked to them. Nobody remembers seeing anything. I'm interested in that kid you mentioned." Hutch got a pencil out of his pocket.
"Boy or girl?" Starsky asked, sitting down in a large wicker peacock chair.
"Um, well...this little black kid ran up to me and handed me a note." Lacy started.
"You still got it?" Starsky interrupted.
"No, in the confusion I must have dropped it somewhere, I guess."
"Do you remember what it said?" Hutch questioned.
"Said; 'be at the corner of Rochester and Larkspur at 9:30. I like your legs and it'll be $100 for you'." She smiled grimly. "I figured I had an easy bust."
"What'd the kid do?"
Lacy shrugged, "Ran off, you know those street kids. Here one minute, gone the next."
"Describe him," Hutch insisted.
"About nine, I guess. He was black, dark hair, dark eyes...wearing blue jeans and a gray sweatshirt."
"Like six thousand others," Starsky put in. "Anything you noticed at all?"
"No! I didn't think it mattered!" she flared. "Oh, God, Why?"
"Hey." Hutch placed gentle hands on her shoulders. "It's OK, we're gonna go after the shooter. You don't remember anything more?"
"No," she whimpered.
"I'll get this on the horn." Starsky excused himself to let Hutch comfort her alone. "Maybe we can get lucky."
"Lacy." Hutch gently brushed her hair away from her wet cheeks. "Did you have a thing with O'Brien?"
"I dunno...we were starting to get close. A date once in a while." She stood up nervously. "He didn't want us to get involved. He said two cops could never make it work. Well, there's no way now, is there?" Lacy turned and looked down at Hutch. "Cops are not supposed to get emotionally involved, especially with one another. Just remember that, Hutch."
"It's hard not to. Cops work too closely together." Hutch took her hand. "Remember, we're all human, you can't dwell on what happened. You can't change the past."
"Just the future." She nodded, her head pounding with the movement. She felt hollow and cold.
"Good bye, honey. Take it easy." He stood, giving her a brief hug. "We'll report back with our progress."
"Oh, Hutch, would you take this?" Lacy took a newspaper, its headlines screaming 'Cop killer,' from a pile of magazines. "It's today's and I don't want it in my house."
"Sure." Hutch shoved the paper under his arm. He paused outside her door until he heard her slide the dead bolt securely into place.
"What ya got?" Starsky asked, as his partner emerged from the apartment building.
"The paper. Lacy didn't want it." Hutch leaned against the Torino to inspect the front page. "The whole damn story in two inch high letters."
"Reporters find out anything we don't know?" Starsky peered over Hutch's shoulder. Photos of the dead officers emphasized their likenesses and the copy complained of the police's lack of evidence.
"No, but they'd like you to think so." Hutch threw the paper into the car. "Let's go to Huggy's. I'm hungry and tired of this whole thing."
"'Lo, Starsky, Hutch," Huggy Bear greeted them. He didn't really open until eleven a.m., but he didn't mind admitting his friends a little early. The bar was dark after the midmorning sun and piled with unopened boxes of liquor.
"Got anything made yet?" Starsky asked.
"Man, you come in here early, you gotta take what we got." Huggy went around the back of the bar, pushing aside cases of beer.
"So what's that?" Starsky asked.
"I wanna beer." Hutch straddled a barstool.
"I got that, too." Huggy handed over a can of Budweiser.
"No glass?" Starsky teased.
"No complainin', Starsky, or I tally up your bar tab." Huggy held up an orange. "You want juice?"
"Fuzz got some jive in the paper this morning," Huggy commented as he squeezed half a dozen oranges with the juicer.
"I'd rather not talk about it," Hutch said. "They're making a sensation out of this and we'll never get it solved."
"This guy's just sitting in the shadows takin' pot shots at cops?" Huggy asked.
"More'n pot shots, Hug," Starsky answered, tasting the orange juice. "Somebody's hitting 'em." He watched as the slender man dumped change into the cash register without counting it. "Good system you've got there, no wonder the IRS wants an audit. Have you heard anything on the street about some weirdo who's got it in for cops?"
"Not this one." Huggy shook his head. "He sounds like a crazy."
"No doubt and that makes him all the harder to go after." Hutch took a swig of beer.
"You want food with that?"
"It's bad to drink beer on an empty stomach," Starsky pointed out.
"I'm not hungry," Hutch said shortly, unfolding the paper Lacy had given him.
"You're the one who's always talking about health food an' good living." Starsky held up his glass. "I got the orange juice and you got a beer?"
"Shut up." Hutch turned to the sports section, concentrating on the scores.
"He gets like this when we don't solve anything." Starsky nodded philosophically. "Gimme a hamburger and French fries, Huggy."
"Starsky, you know I don't serve that kinda food 'til the cook gets here. This is a bar." Huggy pointed to a rack of packaged sandwiches on the wall. "That's it."
"It's the pits," Starsky muttered.
"Hence the name," Hutch put in without looking up from his paper.
"Ha-ha. You gonna eat somethin', Starsky, or am I gonna have to start drummin' up some payin' customers?"
"OK, Huggy, we gotta go to work anyway." Starsky grabbed a bag of potato chips on his way out. "C'mon, Hutch."
"Starsky, you pay for that!" Huggy shouted at their retreating forms.
Driving the Torino down a wide boulevard, Starsky ate the entire bag of chips in silence. He glanced at his blond partner. "Hey."
"This mood of yours gonna last all day?"
"Looks like it." Hutch hid behind his sunglasses.
"Just wanted to know where I stood." Starsky went back to driving, whistling to himself.
"All units in the vicinity of Waverly and Third Streets," the dispatcher's voice blared suddenly from the radio.
"This is Zebra three," Hutch spoke into the mike. "We'll respond."
"OK, Zebra three. 24 Waverly, a possible 2-11, Adam 18 will meet you there. 10-4."
Starsky slammed his foot down on the accelerator, switching on the siren. The red car careened around a corner, skidding to a stop in front of a small grocery. A black-and-white was already there, the red bubble on the top flashing weird red shadows across the deserted storefront. Waverly Street was known as a quiet haven in the middle of two gang territories, and there were rarely people just hanging around on the street. Gang violence was too real a possibility, but it was truly strange to find it completely deserted at nearly noon.
"What ya got?" Hutch jumped out of the car, his hand going for his holstered gun. The quiet was too unnatural. It gave him the creeps.
"Nothing." An older uniformed man shook his head. "The place has been closed for a week. Owner's gone fishin'."
"I'll call it in." Starsky shrugged. "Anything gone?"
"Probably kids who made off with a bottle of pop, but othern' that," the older man said, shrugging. "There's my partner. Hey, Johnny, find anything?"
"Nothing round the back, Al," Johnny replied, brushing his dark curly hair off his forehead. "Just the front door was broken into."
"Four cops for a damn vandalism," Al growled, "It's insa..."
As Starsky bent down to reach for the car mike, a bullet screamed past, so close to his shoulder he could feel a puff of wind.
"DOWN!" Hutch yelled to the others, grabbing his partner's arm. "You OK?"
"Yah," Starsky gasped, crouching behind the car.
"How about you two?"
"Musante's OK." Al checked the clip in his gun. "It's that bastard."
"The question is, who is he after--Musante or me?" Starsky asked with grim humor.
"Cover me, Starsk. I'll go around the corner and up the side of that place." Hutch pointed to a gray tenement across Waverly. Starsky nodded, steadying his gun on the hood of the Torino, but the sniper hadn't fired again.
Hutch could hear John Musante calling for back up on the black-and-white's radio as he gauged the distance he had to run. Already there was a crowd of curious onlookers gathering about fifty feet from the cars. "Hey, Al," Hutch called. "Get those people back."
"Ready?" Starsky squinted towards the building.
"Ready." Hutch crouched low and ran the length of both cars before sprinting across the street. He jumped up and hauled himself up onto the fire escape, taking the metal steps two at a time.
The sound of sirens approaching excited the crowd of people and they pressed closer to watch the blond cop on the fire escape. No one took notice of a man who walked away from the crowd, brief case under his arm.
Hutch paused as he made it to the top of the steps, looking down at the street below. He could see everything, and had the sniper been here, he would have been able to pick off both dark-haired policemen behind the car. His gut cramping, Hutchinson had a feeling he wouldn't see anyone on the roof. The one shot had been it. However, he would take a good look around later, when he and Starsky could do a thorough room-to-room search of the entire apartment building.
"Scared him off," Starsky said.
"But it proves he's still hard at work." Hutch glanced up at the afternoon sky. A dry wind had been steadily building from the southeast all day, pushing the usual smog past the mountains that ringed Los Angeles. "He'll be back."
Not saying anything, Starsky headed back to the Torino.
"Hey, Starsky." Hutch hurried to catch up with his friend. "Sorry about this morning, huh?"
The smile on Starsky's face was like sunrise after a stormy night. His dark blue eyes twinkled as he threw an arm around Hutch's shoulders. "Call forensics. We can search that place faster if we both take a floor. Then, I happen to know of a good hot dog stand near here."
"How can you think of hot dogs after that?" Hutch grimaced, his pulse still elevated from Starsky's near miss.
"Dodgin' bullets makes me hungry," Starsky downplayed, despite his own tremors. The last thing he needed to do was feed on Hutch's already rampant fears. "You're the one who drinks beer before noon. It's always hot dog time."
"Nothing, Captain, absolutely nothing." Hutch paced agitatedly back and forth in his superior's office. "And nobody saw anything. Not one person in that whole building. I saw that bullet come from that place."
"How many empty rooms?"
"Two." Hutch nodded. "We checked them. He could have been there but the crime scene boys didn't find fingerprints, spent shells, nothing."
"Who do you think the guy was aiming at, Starsky or Musante?" Dobey loosened his tie.
"Starsky." Hutch sank into the chair, drained. "Musante was too far away."
"Hutch, I can't say don't worry about it," Dobey reasoned. "But it's not helping."
"Yah, yah, and he probably wouldn't try again in one day." Hutch looked up as Starsky entered the room bearing a tray of coffee cups.
"Drinks, anyone?" he asked mincingly, holding the tray like a waitress.
"Only if you've got something stronger'n coffee." Hutch took one of the steaming cups. "What's today?"
"Monday," Dobey supplied. "February 13th."
"Tomorrow's Valentine's day." Hutch closed his eyes; he'd had only five hours of sleep. "So much for hearts and flowers."
With the exception of Mike O'Brien's funeral, Wednesday did prove somewhat quieter than Tuesday had been. Hutch took Lacy home after the ceremony and promised to take her to dinner on his night off.
"I saw last night's paper." Lacy took off her coat slowly.
"I thought you'd sworn off reading the news." Hutch rummaged around in the miniature kitchen, finding glasses and a bottle of brandy in the wet bar. He poured small glasses of the amber liquor.
"You know, it's a little early in the morning, Hutch," she commented.
"After that funeral we could both use it," Hutch said, placing two bubble glasses on the coffee table. "What about the paper?"
"You didn't tell me he took a shot at Starsky." Lacy took a sip, then ran her finger around the rim of the fragile glass, creating an eerie rising tone.
"Why should I?" Hutch sat down next to her. "Nothing happened."
"But it's gonna go on and on and on..." Lacy started to tremble. "Hutch, he'll keep killing everybody.... Mike...and Dave might get it and then...then...."
"Hey, hey," Hutch leaned her head against his shoulder, pushing aside his own similar thoughts. "Lacy, we're trying to find him."
She took a shuddering breath. "We don't know who he is, where he is." She took a large swallow of brandy, gasping as it burned down her throat. " How many has he killed now?"
"Four in one week. Lord." She rubbed her eyes. "I'm OK now." Lacy sipped the brandy, letting it warm her stomach. The rest of her body still felt so cold. "What do you know about him so far?"
"Some cop, with dark curly hair, I guess, did something to him...to someone he...loved?" Hutch laughed mirthlessly as if the thought of the man loving someone was funny. "When he called Dobey, he said he was gonna kill all the curly-haired cops until he got the one who did it. Who did it." Hutch jumped up restlessly. "Who did what?"
"Killed someone he loved, so he's gonna kill someone else who is loved." Lacy stared at her hands in her lap. "He succeeded, but he's gonna keep killing curly-haired police till he gets the right one."
"So, we're chasing a shadow around like idiots." Hutch clenched his fists. " We need to find out who he's really after. Are you coming back to work?"
"Yes." She kicked off her shoes, rubbing her feet with a sigh. "I'd rather be busy than sitting around doing nothing."
"To the old...beat?"
"Uh-huh," Lacy nodded, raising the skirt of her dress to thigh level with a professional, bored smile. "Good evening, sir?"
"That supposed to be a come on?" Hutch leaned over and pinched her knee.
"Some people think so." Lacy nodded. "Hutch."
He eyed her quizzically, waiting for her to finish the sentence.
"I dunno." Lacy smoothed her black jersey dress down over her knees, suddenly self-conscious. "How are you gonna catch him? What if he gets Dave?"
"That's something I try not to think about. Ever."
"So, last night." Starsky drove the Torino one handed, gesturing expansively as he continued his story, despite the complete lack of interest from Hutch. "I called up Cathy and she had the flu--the one that's been going around everywhere? So, I had nobody to go out with, so I watched the tube. An' I saw that movie, 'The King and I,' you seen it?" Starsky flicked on the turn signal then finally put both hands back on the wheel.
"King and I? Yul Brenner, yah." Hutch pushed his sunglasses up his nose and closed his eyes against the glare of sunshine penetrating the windshield. Driving, unsettling winds had pushed the usual smog completely away, giving Angelinos and tourists alike a rare glimpse of the surrounding mountains' beauty. The winds did more than swirl up mini tornadoes of litter and flatten just budding spring flowers. It irritated, grated, like tiny bits of sand against the soul. Emotions came more easily to the surface, as if worn thin by the constant sound of wind.
The last few nights Hutch hadn't been sleeping too well. He'd lain awake listening to the unnerving wind for more hours than he cared count. The strain of searching for the 'Shadows Killer' as the papers had dubbed him was catching up to him and he felt restless and bone tired at the same time. There was still almost no real information on the murderer, and the trail was growing cold.
"Well, you know that song." Starsky hummed a few measures, trying to recall the words. "About bein' brave and whistling...whistle a happy tune, I think." He braked for a stoplight. "It's a nice song." He sang a line. "Make believe you're brave and the trick will take you far. You may be as brave as you make believe you are..."
"That's flat," Hutch commented.
"I din' ask for a music critic."
"Zebra three, zebra three," the dispatcher called.
"This is Zebra three," Hutch answered.
"Captain Dobey would like you in his office as soon as possible."
"OK, 10-4." Hutch hung up the mike. "I wonder what that's about?"
"You think it's the shooter?" Starsky mused, a rough edge to his voice. "It's been three days since he tried last. I was hoping he got discouraged."
"He's out there somewhere." Hutch stared out at the street rushing past the car window. "An' he knows more than we do. He holds all the cards."
"Captain?" Starsky stuck his head in Dobey's office, but the man wasn't there. "Jenny, where's Dobey?"
"He'll be here in a minute," she answered. "He was in the morgue."
Hutch stiffened. "Another cop?"
"Yes," Jenny admitted. "Not from this precinct. Shot while on his way to work."
"Shit," the blond man swore. "What's his name?"
"Brian Hidalgo." Jenny consulted a piece of paper. "Answered a distress call from an old woman."
"So much for heroics," Hutch muttered. "Was he by himself?"
"You heard," Dobey bristled, getting off the elevator. He dropped a pile of folders onto Jenny's desk.
"Number five." Starsky nodded. "And we got no balls, no runs, all struck out."
As Dobey held his door open for the other two detectives, the phone rang. "Captain Dobey's office." Jenny answered. Her eyes widened fearfully as she listened to the caller. Covering the receiver with her hand, Jenny spoke. "Captain, it's him..."
"Get a trace and record it," Dobey ordered. He pressed the speaker button on his desk phone. "Hello."
"Hello, Pig Captain," the gruff voice said loudly." I left you another gift this morning."
"I don't appreciate it," Dobey growled. "Look, we can make an arrangement, work this out like..."
Not likely I'd talk to a bastard pig." He snorted with laughter.
Hutch touched Starsky's arm, listening hard in the brief seconds between the killer's words. In the background was a rhythmic clock-like sound.
"Dobey, you just watch out. I ain't through yet. More'll die and die and die, just like he did."
"Who died?" Dobey asked quickly. "Look, we can..."
"Wouldn't you like to know. But you do, cause one of your piggies killed him."
"Tell me who it was. I can investig..."
"A clue? A gas station at the stroke of midnight. Bye, Pigs." He hung up.
"He's enjoying that." Starsky gritted his teeth. "Playin' God."
"Did you hear it?" Hutch asked. "A clock ticking. A grandfather clock."
"We got a distance, Captain." Jenny burst into the room. "The lab crew's making out a map."
"Good, and find out if any policeman ever shot anyone at a gas station at midnight."
Jenny seemed floored at the magnitude of the assignment, but she nodded and hurried out.
"You're sure it was a clock." Starsky cocked his head. "How can you tell?"
"When I was a kid, we had Grandfather clock. When you've laid awake all night listening to a clock tick like that..." Hutch nodded. "A grandfather clock."
"It's something." Dobey sighed. "Oh, here, a picture of Hidalgo." He handed over a small photograph.
Starsky and Hutch glanced at it. There was really nothing unusual to see. Hidalgo could have been Ravelli, Collier, O'Brien or Cutler. It was beginning to be a depressing row of dark, curly-haired men, all dead.
"Captain, here's the map." Jenny brought in a large city map with a 10 square block portion marked off in red. "They couldn't be more specific."
"So we search ten square blocks?" Starsky asked. "Until we find a someone with a grandfather clock or a gun that matches.... It'll take a million years."
"Which you don't have, so get to work," Dobey dismissed them.
"Wait." Hutch paused on his way out. "Was-was there a kid reported anywhere around where Hidalgo died? Or Cutler or Ravelli or Collier?"
"I dunno, why?"
"Cause all the crimes seem to be a the kind of petty vandalism like kids fooling around--except O'Brien's and that one did have a kid involved."
"You're just remembering this now?" Dobey bellowed. "We never did find that kid who talked to Calhane. And no one's come forth with information after any of the TV broadcasts."
"Maybe they're afraid they'll get in trouble." Hutch rubbed the grit out of his eyes. "It's probably nothing, just a theory."
"Then, get out on the streets and find out something useful!" Dobey waved them out of his office.
"What's all this about some kids?" Starsky pulled on his jacket.
"I dunno, it just seems to fit in somewhere." Hutch paused by the water cooler to grab a cup. He downed two aspirin with a swallow of liquid. "It's in my brain, just out of reach. I'm tired."
"Yah, me, too. You think this bastard could be using some kid to set up his marks?"
"Couldn't possibly be the same child." Hutch disagreed. "A candy store break in, an elementary school...what else?"
Starsky sorted through the case files on the crowded table they shared with half the detectives in the department. Arranging the folders in chronological order, he pointed to each one. "Cutler, killed investigating a flasher, Ravelli, at the school, Collier in front of a candy store, O'Brian--the only plainclothes cop so far, while playin' pimp, and Hidalgo who wasn't even on duty yet, but was dressed for the part."
Hutch thought, trying to push puzzle piece together that didn't even belong in the same picture. "Say a child reported a flasher--there was a call registered in the log book, but it didn't have an age or name."
"Lots of kids in a schoolyard," Starsky reasoned. "Even before school's started, but when officers questioned the students, nobody admitted seeing anything."
"The candy store's owner does report some Hershey bars were gone, most of a box." Hutch read over the statement.
"My personal favorite," Starsky nodded, wishing for one right now. "And Lacy's john's errand boy, the only one we have a partial description for."
"As for Hidalgo, I can't see a kid fitting in there. He was helping an old woman."
"Why?" Starsky put his feet up on the desk, disturbing the neat pile of reports.
"Ah." Hutch selected the appropriate one, smiling for the first time that evening. "A, to quote her official statement, 'damn Mex kid stole the milk off her front porch.' Apparently, Hidalgo lives next door, and just walked over when she started yelling."
"I didn't think anybody still delivered milk anymore."
"At least on Las Pulgas Street they do." Hutch pushed Starsky's blue tennis-shod feet off the paper he wanted. "The old woman wasn't wearing her glasses and is legally blind, so she didn't see the shooter, either."
"Terrific," Starsky grumbled. "Four killings in six days, then bang--nothing until today, five days later. There's no pattern."
"You forgot about the grocery store."
"He missed." Starsky waved a dismissive hand. "And he wasn't aimin' at me. That bullet was probably for Musante."
"You were closer," Hutch countered. "That grocery had been closed for a week, but the owner couldn't find anything missing--like Al Washinsky said, it was probably some kid playing a prank." He began to push the files into a neater pile, pushing papers back into place. "And he missed. That's the only time that's happened."
"He knew where Hidalgo lived," Starsky softly, his heart suddenly going double time.
"He knew where Hidalgo lived," Starsky spoke louder. "He killed O'Brien while he was undercover. He knows more than he should."
"He sure knows more than we do." Hutch felt his skin crawl at the thought.
In the discouraging night that followed, little was accomplished and this only succeeded in making tempers flare. Every policeman was working overtime to get the murderer before he hit another man. Light-haired cops would look worriedly at their dark, curly-haired partners and wonder who would be next. The Shadows Killer was watching. He seemed to know where dark-haired policemen would be even before they did.
Starsky whistled tunes from the "King and I" as he cruised slowly through the pre-dawn streets. Ten square blocks marked off in red, and possibly, somewhere, hiding in one of the dilapidated houses was a madman. Starsky felt a shiver of fear running down his spine.
"There go the morning papers," Hutch said, watching a man unloading bales of newspapers from a truck. "Screaming about a fifth victim, panic, panic, panic. Your police department isn't doing one damn thing but ridin' around on their asses like fools."
"Hutch..." Starsky started but was cut short by a squawking sound from the radio.
"All units, there's a fight reported on one hundred-tenth street behind Miller's bar. They are reportedly armed with knives and guns, proceed with caution."
"This is Zebra three," Hutch answered. "We are responding." He jerked backward as the car sped foreword, the siren screaming.
As the red and white car pulled to a stop beside an alley behind Miller's Bar, a small boy with tousled blond hair ran up.
"Mister, mister," he called. "Two guys are havin' a rumble over there."
"Where is it?" Starsky asked.
"Back over there!" The boy pointed to a nearby warehouse. Hutch stared at the child as he darted away from the car, trying to memorize the boy's face. It was too much of a coincidence, a child alerting them to the fight. Children were always hanging around places they shouldn't be; it didn't have to be significant.
The Torino slammed into reverse and whipped around in a screeching 180 degree turn, speeding to the building. A black-and-white car soon appeared, following the Torino through a large set of storm gates.
The little boy ran off in the opposite direction, pausing only once to pick up an envelope with six dollars in it from the glove compartment of an unlocked blue sedan. Just where the man had said he'd hide it. All finished.
Angry taunts and growls could be heard from a large storage area full of oil drums as Starsky and Hutch got out of the car. Several blue uniforms joined them, all with guns drawn.
"Fan out and take it careful! Keep your eyes open," Hutch ordered. "This could be a set up." The men's actions were hastened as gunshots could be heard echoing off the cylindrical metal containers. A cold, fierce wind flattened newspapers and fast food containers against the chain link fence. There was a raw, desperate feeling to the place, as if violence was a permanent resident.
"I'll go around," Starsky said, indicating the warehouse. He disappeared around the corner at a run. One uniformed man slipped inside the warehouse as others spread out, covering the periphery.
Sneaking amongst the oil drums, Hutch finally caught sight of a young black kid with a gun. "Halt, this is the police!" Hutch commanded. The youth dashed behind a red metal chemical drum, disappearing from view.
Hutch swung around to see a taller black boy wearing a green jacket silhouetted between the barrels. Aiming his pistol up high, Hutch fired a warning shot. "This is the police, put down your weapon!"
The boy ran behind a row of oil drums, his green jacket occasionally visible for a few seconds as he flashed past the containers. Once he got off a shot in Hutch's direction, the bullet plowing an opening in a red painted drum. Oil spilled out onto the concrete, leaving an iridescent trail. There was a shout from one of the police in front of the warehouse as they closed in on the green-coated boy's adversary.
Steadying his arm, Hutch aimed for the space where the boy should arrive next. As the green jacket appeared, Hutch pulled the trigger, but the boy moved too quickly, revealing Starsky directly behind him. Directly in the line of fire. The dark-haired detective was turned away, looking off to his left. He never saw Hutch.
"Starsky!" Hutch yelled a split second too late. He started to run as his partner jerked from the force of a bullet, spun around like a spasmodic dancer and crumpled to the ground. From all sides, gunshots popped loudly, a battlefield in an oil stockyard.
"Officer down!" someone yelled urgently. "Get an ambulance!"
"Starsky? Starsk?" Hutch dropped to his knees, wincing as he hit the cement. "Hey, buddy?" With gentle fingers, he pulled back the injured man's jacket to reveal a bloody wound in the upper right shoulder. The bullet had pierced Starsky's shoulder holster. "Oh, God." Hutch whispered. He had shot Starsky. He had shot his best friend. Shot Starsky!
"Hutch?" Starsky whispered painfully, his fingers reaching out for Hutch's hand.
"It's OK, you'll be OK, huh?" Hutch assured, almost in tears. "Just be quiet, OK? There's an ambulance coming." He fought the urge to be sick at the sight of all the blood. It seemed to be flowing from all over Starsky's body instead of just a single wound.
"B-Brenner," Starsky murmured, trying to keep away the comforting painlessness of unconsciousness. He could feel something like fire in his back and side, making it hard to breathe, hard to think. "Shot." He had to tell Hutch before he blacked out. Had to tell him who shot him.
"Yah, you were shot, but you'll be just fine soon." Hutch forced himself to smile. Oh, please make him be fine, he prayed silently.
"No." Starsky took a deep breath and nearly passed out from the pain. "Brenner shot..."
"Yul Brenner, Starsky? That's the movie, don't talk." Hutch pulled off his jacket, placing it over his partner. Where was all the blood coming from? He took out his handkerchief, trying to remember all the lectures on stopping blood flow and pressure bandages that were given at the academy.
"S'cop," Starsky insisted, unable to make himself understood. He gripped Hutch's hand tightly, fighting a losing battle with consciousness. "Brenner."
"OK, Brenner." Hutch nodded absently, applying pressure to the shoulder wound. It didn't make any difference, there was still so much blood! "Lie still, Starsk. Don't talk..."
"He s-shot..." Starsky couldn't fight the liquid blackness washing over him. It hurt too much to resist.
"Oh, Starsky." Hutch stared at his unconscious friend. "I'm sorry."
"Paramedics are here." A young uniformed cop came up. "We got one of those kids."
"I shot him," Hutch whispered.
"What?" the policeman asked.
"Hurry them up," Hutch said louder, watching two paramedics run past the oil drums towards him, laden with drug boxes and oxygen tanks.
"Good grief." The taller of the two paramedics shook his head. "He's lost enough blood." He jerked open a red case and took out several sterile bandage packages.
"Emergency, this is Squad 63," the other paramedic called on the bio-phone to the hospital. "We have a man, in his late twenties, with a bullet wound. Massive blood loss."
"Jake, three wounds." The taller one said after a quick examination. "I'd say we have an entrance wound in the right shoulder and exit wound out the back. And another wound in the left side, between the ribs." He checked Starsky's vital signs quickly and called them out to the emergency general personnel.
"He was hit twice?" Hutch asked, stunned. "How?"
The ambulance arrived in record time, the driver helping Jake slide Starsky onto a stretcher. The second paramedic held up the IV bottle and tubing inserted in the patient's arm, climbing in after them. Hutch followed, squeezing himself into a small corner of the ambulance, unwilling to be separated from his partner.
Reaching out a shaking hand, Hutch smoothed the blankets covering his friend. Two bullets? Who else had shot Starsky?
"Hutch?" Dobey sat down next to the blond cop on the hard Naugahide couch in the hospital waiting room. "You OK?"
"Yah." Hutch raised his head, the cramp in his gut now a constant companion. "Captain."
"I..." Hutch stood, feeling a restless panic. How long were they going to keep Starsky in that emergency room? "I couldn't stop it in time."
"Sit down, Hutch," Dobey said. "What is it?"
"I shot him."
"Who?...Stars...?" The black man choked out the name in surprise. "Jesus Christ, Hutchinson."
"Starsky, my best friend." Hutch clenched his fists, wanting to punch something. "Dammit! I was aiming at this kid, but he moved and Starsk was behind him..." He rubbed his fist into his palm. "Dobey, he could die and one of those bullets was mine!"
"Wait," Hutch continued. "I was just sittin' there, I couldn't think. The paramedics said he got shot twice." He shook his head. "Where the hell did the second bullet come from?"
"What do you mean?" Dobey asked quietly.
"There was a building--a warehouse." Hutch dumped all the magazines except one off the coffee table. "Here. And a bunch of oil drums scattered all over." He moved a flower vase into place. "Starsk must have run around like this." He traced his finger around the side of the magazines to the vase. "The kid in the green jacket was here. Starsk came up behind him an' I didn't see him." He slammed his fist down on the magazine. "But no one was over there." He jabbed a finger at the opposite of the magazine. "At the right angle to shoot Starsky in the side."
"Hutch, I don't want to say this, but have you considered it could be the Shadows Killer?" Dobey looked worriedly up at the younger detective.
"Oh, God," Hutch whispered. He'd tried to suppress the knowledge that the situation fit one of the killer's set-ups. "He can't die."
"Captain Dobey?" A pretty nurse approached. "There's a phone call for you."
"Thank you." The captain of the detectives followed her back to the nurse's station to take the call.
Sitting down, Hutch felt scared and confused. There had been so much blood! Two bullets. The Shadows Killer. Was Starsky number six? No, no, NO. "No." Hutch vowed. "He can't die. Not because I shot him."
"We got a witness!" Dobey called, causing several nurses to glare at him sternly. "Hutch, there was someone on that side of Starsky." He hung up the phone, hurrying over. "One of the blue uniforms, Stevenson, saw a man in the shadow of a small shed beside the warehouse pull a rifle, but seconds later, when Stevenson arrived at the spot, he was gone."
"Gone?" Hutch echoed. "Was it the...hell. How would Stevenson know, nobody's ever seen him."
"The Shadows Killer?" Dobey finished. "He got a partial description, though."
"It doesn't help Starsky, does it?" Hutch flared.
"Don't give up. It'll help prevent there ever being a next time."
"I wouldn't dare, not with some bastard out there doing his own private executions." Hutch jumped up again, with a compelling urge to move even if it didn't help matters. He paced edgily outside the ER doors. "But...God, what are they doing in there?"
Years afterward, Hutch would not be able to remember how long he spent waiting for word on his partner's condition, but at the time it seemed like an eternity.
"Mr. Hutchinson?" A dour doctor with a loose, jowly face emerged from the trauma room, his white coat splattered with red. "Mr. Starsky's been asking for you."
"He's conscious?" Hutch asked hopefully.
"Yes, but you can only go in for a few seconds. He's extremely weak."
"Doctor, is he...?" Hutch faltered. "Gonna be all right?"
"I'm sorry," the man said grimly. "I can't give you a good answer right now. He's lost so much blood."
"He has to live," Hutch said decisively. He walked slowly through the large door into the trauma room. The room was crowded with equipment, discarded gauze stained red and nurses still attending Starsky's vital signs. Hutch skirted blood spatters on the floor, just staring at the still form on the gurney. "Starsk?" Hutch leaned down, his eyes on Starsky's pale face.
"Hey." Starsky opened his eyes, trying to smile. "Don't worry."
Typical Starsky, critically injured, trying to make his friend feel better. Hutch swallowed the lump in his throat. "I can't help it, you kind of gave me a scare." Hutch closed his hand over Starsky's.
"M-make believe you're brave..." Starsky whispered, trying to purse his lips. "I can't whistle."
"I'll do it for you," Hutch assured, producing one quick fluting note.
"Whistle a happy tune..." Starsky muttered, his mind wandering. He forced himself to concentrate. "Hutch..." The words kept flying around his brain like bees, buzzing, buzzing.
"Hutch?" Starsky could feel his strength draining away, like he was being sucked into the table. It hurt so much to breathe, he couldn't take the agony in his chest much longer.
"I'm here, Starsk." The blond man gripped his friend's hand, as if he could transfer some strength through his palm.
"It was B...Brenner." That was all he said before he blacked out completely.
"Doctor?" Hutch called franticly. "Doctor!"
"He's unconscious," Simms answered, preparing a hypodermic. He squirted some excess fluid from the needle before inserting it into a port in Starsky's IV tubing.
"Like a coma?" Hutch's breathing hitched. "When will he wake up?"
"It won't qualify as a coma until after he's been unconscious for a certain length of time. There are parameters we go by to judge that." The doctor glanced up. "As it is, he may not wake up for hours, days or even weeks...it's all up to him whether he recovers."
Hutch left the emergency department without ever recalling having taken a step. He stood uncertainly in the waiting room, unable to string together coherent sentences.
"What did they tell you, son?" Dobey asked, concerned by Hutchinson's bleak expression.
"I think he's in a coma."
"God, Hutch, I heard on the radio." Lacy threw her arms around him as she opened her front door. "I was so scared."
"Make believe you're brave." Hutch hugged her tightly. He wasn't even sure why he'd come, but he needed someone who'd understand--someone who'd already lost a partner.
"What's that?" She leaned against his shoulder, listening to the beat of his heart.
"Starsky talked to me just before he passed out. He could be in a coma. He said that...it's from a song." Hutch ran his hand down her shining titian hair.
"What song?" She asked, leading him into the room. She pushed her unfolded, clean clothes off the couch but Hutch didn't sit down.
"He kept saying Brenner." He walked across the room to the small wet bar, selecting a bottle of Budweiser. "It was very important to him, but I don't know who Brenner is."
"He could hardly talk, but he kept saying Brenner." Hutch poured a large glass of beer, wanting to get completely drunk, just enough to loosen the giant knot in his abdomen.
"He was probably delirious," Lacy rationalized.
"No." Hutch downed half the glass. "He was trying to tell me something, trying very hard."
"Hutch, relax." Lacy took the glass out of his hand.
"What do you think I'm drinking for?"
"It won't help," she said sternly. "Are you gonna go after the killer?"
"A lot good I'd be." Hutch paced restlessly. "I'm so damned scared of what he's done...and what he's gonna do."
"You're giving up?" Lacy asked incredulously.
"I won't give up," Hutch said. "But...he's always one step in front of us! Like a damned Shadow, he's there before we are."
"You haven't even tried. Helps Starsky and...Mike a whole lot," She spat out.
"Lacy, I don't need you to tell me that." Hutch pulled open the door and stomped out. She was absolutely right, and he hated it like hell. Who was Brenner?
"Zebra three." The dispatcher was calling as he got back into the car. He felt out of place driving the Torino by himself. Starsky's ghost inhabited the car, and he wasn't even dead, just lying unconscious in a hospital.
"Zebra three," Hutch answered.
"Captain Dobey wants to see you in his office."
"Ten four." Hutch hung up resignedly. He put the key in the ignition and drove to the station, not wanting to think about anything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. It was bad enough that he'd shot Starsky, but so had the Shadows Killer. It was so damned frightening, it almost blotted out rational thought. How bad off was Starsky? That doctor hadn't given him any chance. In fact, he'd been damned discouraging.
The word death whirled around in Hutch's brain. What would he do if Starsky died? How could he live if his best friend were dead? Especially with the knowledge that he was partially responsible.
Starsky, with his dark curly hair in a wind blown mop of ringlets, his remarkably blue eyes twinkling in delight at some inner joke, had long been Hutch's confident, keeping secrets told to no one else. He was always laughing, often at some amusing joke only he knew about the rest of mankind. Starsky had backed Hutch up hundreds of time, sometimes when he didn't even understand the reason. Starsky couldn't die! He was barely thirty years old. Three decades was not long enough for a man to live.
Walking through the precinct halls, Hutch made a concentrated effort to dispel the gloomy thoughts, but they kept intruding like unwelcome houseguests. The desk he'd shared with Starsky for four years nearly destroyed his fragile calm.
"Hutchinson, sit down," Dobey said.
Doing so, Hutch had the irritating thought that everyone was ordering him about today.
"Here's the sketch that the police artist came up with from Stevenson's descriptions." Dobey pulled a large piece of paper from a manila envelope.
"Stevenson?" Hutch asked.
"The uniform who saw a person with a rifle just before Starsky was shot," the captain explained. "Look at it. Maybe you saw him, too?"
"Cap'n, I didn't see the damned..." Hutch stared at the sketch of a graying man with a thick, jowly face in a shocked silence. "Brenner?"
"He is." Hutch breathed quickly. "Starsky saw him. He kept telling me over and over an' I thought he was talking about a dumb movie. But he was trying to tell me that he saw Brenner." Hutch studied the picture closely. Yes, it had to be the same man; even this very general sketch didn't hide the bushy eyebrows. "Pete Brenner."
"The name sounds familiar," Dobey agreed.
"Should." Hutch spoke with a rising anger. "He was a cop." He dropped the drawing onto Dobey's desk. "There's your model policeman, had three citations and then one day he tried to blow his partner away with a shotgun. Luckily, he didn't, but he got drummed off the force."
"So he knows police procedure, could probably get hold of files..." Dobey growled. "What happened to his partner?"
"I dunno." Hutch walked slowly around the room. "But...good God, guess what Daniel Vegas looked like?"
"Dark, curly hair." Dobey grabbed the phone. "Jenny, get me the files on Officers Peter Brenner and Daniel Vegas. As least the one on Brenner oughta be in the inactive cabinet." He nodded as he listened for a moment." OK, that'll be fine." Hanging up, Dobey sighed. "She'll have them in a few minutes. Did you and Starsky ever work with Brenner or Vegas?"
"Yah." Hutch paused to look at a photograph on the wall. It was of he, Starsky and Dobey on the occasion of some awards dinner. Everyone was smiling. "Uh--it was a long time ago, three, no, four years ago--sort of the younger detectives working with the old pros. Some pro--he greets his partner with a shotgun."
"So you know him?"
"Sort of--I did then." Hutch shook his head. "I wouldn't now. He had a temper."
"Yah," Dobey commented sarcastically. He opened a drawer and removed a small plastic bag. "The lab crew analyzed this, and gave it to me." He laid it on the desk. "The bullet from your gun. It was found very near where Starsky fell."
"I don' wanna see it," Hutch said tersely. "What about the other bullet?"
"I talked to Dr. Simms after you left," Dobey said. "He won't be able to operate and take the other one out until Starsky's strong enough."
"When will that be?" Hutch rubbed his eyes wearily.
"He doesn't know."
"Damn Simms, he never gives a fuckin' straight answer."
"Captain." Jenny came in with a file. "Here's the records on Brenner, we're having some problems locating the one on Vegas."
"Did you put it through the computer?" he asked.
"Diane is doing that now."
"Thanks, Jenny." Dobey flipped through Brenner's record. "Well, this doesn't tell us much more that you already knew."
"Where is Brenner now?" Hutch leaned over Dobey's shoulder, looking closely at the small department issue photograph. Brenner's face didn't reveal any evil thoughts.
"He's been under court-mandated psychiatric care for a while, but stopped going last year," Dobey read with a frown.
"Terrific, as Starsky would say." Hutch said cynically. "That means he could be anywhere--with a damned rifle."
"Latest address is 279 Browntree Avenue."
"Probably not where he is now." Hutch exhaled noisily. "That's where he used to live."
"I'll put an APB out on him." Dobey dialed the central dispatcher. "Maybe we'll get lucky."
"You really think so? As lucky as Starsky? Cap'n, that man is a maniac, a psychotic killer who knows police procedures...and will probably be remembered by some of the cops on the street." Hutch paced nervously
"I think our best bet is an APB now that we know his description." Dobey spoke briefly with the dispatcher, describing Brenner and giving his latest address. "And a talk with this Vegas might be a good idea."
Hutch thrust his fists in his jeans pockets, trying to sort things in his mind. Pete Brenner was the Shadows Killer. Why? What could have caused him to go after Vegas with a shotgun? What had been the last case Brenner had worked on before he cracked up?
"Captain Dobey?" Jenny entered, a saddened look on her pretty face. "We found Vegas's file. He's been dead since 1974." She handed it over to the portly black man.
Shit," Hutch cursed. "Jenny, find out what case Brenner and Vegas had just before Brenner started target practice on his partner."
"Yes, sir." She retreated.
"Hutch," Dobey spoke sharply, reading from the dead man's personnel records. "Vegas died only a few weeks after Brenner was...fired."
"Was it a murder?" Hutch asked.
"No, acute appendicitis, complicated with peritonitis. It burst while he was being rushed to the hospital.... Where are you going?" Dobey asked as Hutch stalked out.
"Away." Hutch smacked his hand on the door. "I'm sick and tired of everything, this whole fuckin' crap."
"You oughta get some rest." Dobey nodded. "You've been up for close to 48 hours."
"Yah, what day is this, anyway?" Hutch rubbed his eyes.
"Sunday February 19th."
"If I went to church I'd pray, but it probably wouldn't help."
"Hutch!" Dobey admonished.
"It's just that I'm so scared..." The phone jangled insistently, almost angrily, interrupting Hutch's words.
"Captain Dobey," he answered curtly.
"Oh, hello, Pig Captain," the familiar voice sneered.
Dobey motioned Hutch back into the room and pressed the speaker button on the phone. "Look, we know that you're Pete Brenner."
There was no answer for a few moments while Brenner recovered from the shock, the ticking clock suddenly loud in the silence. "So, who fingered me?"
"Starsky, you asshole," Hutch hissed.
"That piggy voice sounds familiar," Brenner growled. "So, your precious partner got shot, Hutchinson. Little bastard deserves to die. He killed him and I can't wait til I get..."
"Shut up, Brenner!" Hutch felt a rising urge to punch someone.
"They'll keep dying til I'm through." There was a sharp click and then silence.
"That clock was still ticking." Hutch said quietly. "He's still in the same God-damned place."
"Hutch, go home, get some rest," Dobey advised. "I've got other detectives besides you, who can handle this."