Comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOME DAYS LOOK BETTER UPSIDE-DOWN
My beta reader, Karen Leigh, keeps my story right side up. I thank her always!
The shimmer of morning's light hadn't even peeked over the eastern horizon. The distant sound of bird songs rambled in his ears. David Starsky squashed his pillow over his head clamping his hands down on either side of it. Still the songs came to him, waking him from only a few hours sleep. He sat up in the rumpled bedding. He instantly regretted his kindness in offering to bird sit for Mrs. Fisher next door. The eighty-year-old women reminded him of his grandmother. He could no sooner tell her no than he could drink one of Hutch's desiccated liver malts. Gripping the pillow with might he threw it at the caged inmate in front of the window.
He watched a moment as the wire prison swung back and forth on its wrought iron, freestanding pole. The yellow canary's melody silenced by the storm only for a moment. He tumbled out of bed stringing his sheets along behind him leaving a trail of linen. He headed sleepily for the bathroom; stubbing his toe against the doorjamb, he screeched out in pain and hobbled the rest of the way to the shower. An all-night stakeout with his partner had been a waste of good sleep. Turning on the shower, he was shocked into wakefulness as ice sprayed out over his body. Damn! Out of hot water again. If he told the landlord once, he told him a thousand times he needed that fixed. Scrubbing his goose-pimpled body quickly, he dressed and headed for the coffeepot. It was too early to be up, but the inmate in the cell wouldn't allow him to slumber any longer. He figured he would make it to work on time at least. Reaching for a cup in the cabinet, his frozen fingers fumbled and the mug hit the kitchen floor with a crack. Pieces of green ceramic slid cross the floor. Shaking his head, the curly-locked man bent down and began to clean up the mess. A particular large chunk found its way into the palm of his hand and he cringed as it sunk into his flesh. He quickly pulled it out and blood spots pattered to the floor. Some peroxide and a few large Band-Aids later, the man who had woken on the wrong side of the bed sat at his table sipping on a cup of coffee, reading the morning news.
The black coffee did wonders and he bounded down the steps to the curb. Starsky looked up at the now bright blue sky taking in a breath of air. He watched a moment as the jet streams crisscrossed one another in the clear atmosphere, looking much like a giant etch-a-sketch. This day can't get too much worse, he thought to himself as he drove in silence toward the station. Only a few blocks from work now the Torino began to rattle and cough coming to a dead stop in the middle of an intersection. Horns blared loudly as they whizzed passed the incapacitated car. Starsky slammed his hands down on the steering wheel, grimacing at the pain that action caused his wounded hand. He reached down to pop the hood and exited the car with angry flamboyance. Steam rose from the interior of the engine. He leaned in heavy on the metal peering down deep. "What the hell did Merle do to this thing?" he complained. He rummaged around a bit pulling on this wire and adjusting that one. Sliding back behind the wheel he tried to turn the engine over again and got nothing more then a few whiny complaints from the ailing Tomato.
A few kicks to the tire, a few cuss words under his breath in Spanish, few more beeping of horns and a tow truck later, Starsky found himself stomping the rest of the way to work. Late again per usual, but at least with an excuse that would hold up in court.
Strolling down the hallway he reached into his front jeans pocket for some loose change as he came to stand before his meal ticket. Wiggling his fingers he found that the pocket had a hole as his ring finger poked out of the denim. Sighing deeply at how this day just wasn't his, he went for the next pocket, a smile appearing as he felt the flat round tin he had been looking for. Depositing the coins into the vending machine he pulled on the handle. Maybe a quick snack would help alleviate some of the bad karma that now filled his entire body. He reached down to the tray to pull out his bar of chocolate only to find it was not there. Huffing loudly he plummeted more coins into the thin slot. Again producing no candy. He kicked at the worthless machine and tugged at the knob pulling it from its stem. He stood a moment in disgust looking at the knob he now held in his bandaged palm. It was then Detective Starsky's thoughts went from himself to the fact the hallway was deserted. In fact the whole station appeared to be empty and quieter then a church mouse. He looked up and down the hallway pocketing the broken knob as he slowly walked toward his department. "What the hell's going on?" he questioned the walls.
Starsky burst through the double-glassed doors and stormed into the squad room like a bull in a china shop. Before he knew what hit him he found himself knocked down to the gray tiled floor. Several officers, including his partner, on top of him, Hutch clamping a hand over his partner's mouth.
"You're late," Hutch whispered in his partner's ear as he nodded to his fellow officers it was okay and to let his partner up off the floor.
Hutch pulled Starsky over behind a desk and kept him down low. Starsky glanced around to the uniformed and non-uniformed entourage that now filled the squad room. "What in tarnation is going on?" He lowered his voice as he saw his partner's finger go to his lips hushing him, and the concerned look in the blond's all too pastel blue eyes.
Hutch quickly explained what had been going down the last hour while his partner lolly-gaggled about getting to work. "Had a bomb threat this morning. Whole station was evacuated." Hutch wiped a few drops of sweat from his brow. "Dobey's being held hostage in his office."
Starsky couldn't believe his ears. This day had gone from bad to worse to damn near cataclysmic. Starsky raised his eyebrows in disbelief at his partner's next word.
"Hobart," Hutch spat out.
"Hobart," Starsky repeated in shock.
"Yeah, guy just snapped like a tooth pick, Starsk."
"How long have they been in there?" he asked Hutch
"Hour, maybe hour and a half."
"Bomb?" Starsky questioned.
Hutch shook his head no, as Starsky figured he would. Decoy to get Dobey alone he thought to himself. But why?
"He make any demands?" Starsky asked, kicking into detective mode faster than flies to shit.
"Nope, not yet." Hutch shrugged not knowing what the next move should be.
"Well, what the hell is he doing in there?" Starsky's worry and frustration evident to his partner.
"I don't know, Starsk. They sure as hell aren't exchanging donut recipes."
"No kidding." Starsky rolled his eyes at that last statement. "We gotta get in there."
Hutch held up his index finger and his eyes grew wide.
"Don't do that," Starsky chimed.
"Don't do what, partner?" Hutch cocked his head to the right still holding up his finger.
"Don't do that thing you do with your finger." Starsky pointed his own finger at Hutch's. "Gives me the willies. Always gets you into trouble." Starsky gave a sideways grin. "What ya thinking?"
"It's Wednesday, right?" Hutch questioned. "Second Wednesday of the month," he concluded. "And on the second Wednesday of every month..."
Starsky interrupted, "The window cleaners are here." His eyes suddenly increasing ten fold in size knowing now where Hutch's brilliant mind was heading and not liking it at all.
"You're not gonna?" Starsky frowned. "I don't like it."
"Got any better ideas, Starsk?" Hutch asked. "Look, give me fifteen minutes to get into position. I'll tap on the glass to distract him."
Starsky nodded his understanding. "Watch your back, buddy." He spoke softly as Hutch squeezed his shoulder and scooted out the squad room door.
Starsky slinked to the edge of the office door and listened intently to what might be happening on the other side. He drew his weapon and waved a few uniforms to move up and stand at the opposite side of him. His face paled at the thought of his partner on the flimsy scaffold, hanging several floors above solid ground. One slip and Hutch would end up looking like a hefty bag full of vegetable soup hitting the pavement. He shuddered and shut his eyes at the image.
Dobey sat at his desk, fingers laced together tightly and staring at his wedding band as he spoke. "Look, Hobart. I know how you must feel." Dobey tried to reason with the man. Hobart paced the room like an expectant father preparing himself for quads. He waved his gun rowdily in the air. At Dobey's last statement he flew to the desk shoving the gun up under the captain's chin.
"You, Captain, have no idea how it feels," the man spat out in frustration. "My partner was killed in the line of duty, he died in my arms. My accountant ripped me off. Took every penny and now is sitting pretty with my wife basking on the black sand beaches of Hawaii. And this job; this septic tank you like to call a city, is the cause of it all." Hobart removed the gun and again paced the small office keeping close watch on the door and on the large police captain behind the desk. He really was off his rocker. Holding the captain of the police department hostage wouldn't bring back his partner, his money, his wife, or his sanity.
"Son, there are people you can talk to. It doesn't have to go down this way." Dobey tried to reason but he could see half the man's brain had gone north while the other half had gone south for the duration. It always filled him with sorrow when one of his men had reached his breaking point. He'd seen it happen too many times before and there wasn't much he could do but to let the officer in question have his early pension. Hobart, in this case, would be more likely taking a long over due vacation to the brightly lit pasty walls of Cabrillo State.
Hutch zipped the white jump suit up and pulled at the rim of the white brimmed cap he placed on his head to shadow his eyes. He hopped aboard the platform with poise. The ground crew pulled at the ropes and slowly he rose from the street up the side of the granite building. He knew right where the Captain's office was; a mere twenty floors up. He just hoped he could distract Hobart long enough to catch him off guard, giving his partner a chance to disarm him. Hutch tied an old rag around his mouth and nose area to conceal his identity and picked up the squeegee in his left hand. His gun he held in his right hand inside the large jumpsuit pocket.
Morning's light began to give way to the brighter light of afternoon. A perpetual haze of smoke became more and more evident as he ascended higher above the city. The thick smell of exhaust choked him. The tightly packed buildings were architectural giants. Far below him, the dwellers of the city scuttled about like tiny ants, matchbox cars swerved and weaved in and out of traffic. Hutch shuddered as a strong gust of wind blew the scaffold beneath his feet giving him the feeling of weightlessness. As he neared the prospective window of his commander and chief, Hutch raised the squeegee and began pulling it up and down the window as he rose into view.
He quickly took note of Dobey at his desk and Hobart wearing a path in the carpet. Dobey caught the reflection of the figure outside his window in the gold tone picture frame of his family that sat upon his desk. He didn't recognize the man but his twenty odd years on the force told his gut to be on alert. Hobart stopped cold in his tracks at the tapping sound, his head snapping up to see the white-suited worker waving hello.
The barrel of Hobart's gun instinctively was pulled from ground level to converge on the eyes of the party crasher. Starsky, at the same time, hearing the tapping signal lunged through the office door, along with several other patrolmen, just as a shot rang out, piercing a small round hole in the glass. Dobey ducked down behind his desk and Hutch slid down grappling at anything his hands could snatch. The bullet had enough velocity to penetrate the office window and slice through several of the ropes that kept the scaffold in place. Hobart was cuffed and hauled out of the office quicker than you could say 'mother may I'.
Starsky flew to the window, cranking the handle till it was open wide. He peered downward at Hutch who hung on by only a thumbnail. Tidal waves of stomach acid tossed inside the curly haired man as he looked down at the dizzying array of the miniature cars and citizens below. His throat burned as bile rose up into his wind pipe, but he stifled his fear.
Hutch, legs dangling wildly, watched the squeegee tumble to the ground, hitting the granite building several times. He watched it break apart like a child's toy, thankful no one but the cement had been its target. The calling of the wind blew through his hair and his ears. His makeshift mask and cap sailed off him and also floating back down to earth. Hutch continued to look downward. He couldn't feel the pounding in his chest as his heart took wings of flight.
"Hutch!" Starsky leaned downward out the window. "Listen to me, buddy. Do as I say." Starsky bit back his own fear of heights and bent over the window at the waist, grappling toward Hutch. His partner was just out of his reach. "Look up, partner. Look up here at me!"
Hutch looked up into the eyes of his partner. He saw a shadow of fear creep through them, but Starsky's love quickly regained control and his eyes shone bright with confidence as he spoke. "Hutch, hold on. I'm coming for you, don't let go."
"Starsky, the last thing I am about to do is let go." Hutch spoke in a shaky voice. "Sprouting wings is not one of my many talents." A soft nervous chuckle escaped his lips. Where did that come from? he thought.
"That's my partner," Starsky spoke down to him with pride. "Always laughing in the face of danger." Starsky's brow furrowed as he quickly took action. He wasn't going to let his partner fall if he had to spit in the face of danger or drag it down the street kicking and screaming; he would do what he had to do. Sitting on the window ledge, he turned to face his captain. "Hold my legs," he commanded.
Captain Dobey waved a couple other officers over and they held tight to Starsky's lower body as he leaned backward out the window letting his full frame hang straight down and his arms completely outstretched toward his partner like the trapeze artist he wasn't. Buildings turned topsy-turvy, blood rushed to his head and the sky was all he could see till he turned his gaze downward once more to meet the eyes of his partner in hanging. "Reach up, Hutch. Come on, buddy." Starsky could just scarcely touch the hand of his friend. If Hutch could just reach up some, he could grasp him.
Hutch struggled to hold on, his legs swaying in the wind. "St-starsk. I-I can't." It took both his hands to keep him from falling, as the winds at this altitude were much stronger then ground level.
Starsky squeezed his eyes shut a moment and took in a deep breath to steady his own fear. "Hutch, buddy, please, you can do it. Reach for me."
Hutch gripped tighter with both hands to the scaffold. "Starsk," Hutch whispered out in defeat. His sixth sense abjured, telling him don't let go.
"Hutch, don't you do this to me. Don't you give up. Now reach, partner, reach!" Starsky's voice seemed to echo through the air bouncing off the towering skyscrapers. "You've got to trust me, Hutch."
Hutch nodding slightly at the confident, yet gentle, tones of his partner, let loose his grip with one hand and reached upward. Starsky clasped the hand and pulled his partner toward him with the strength of forty oxen. He felt his legs slip and hands tugging at his legs and clothing ripping; the hole in the knees of his jeans got larger.
I'm losing him," one of the officers cried out.
"Hold on to him! Don't let go or I'll have you washing and waxing every patrol unit in the garage from now till pigs fly," Dobey scolded the officer.
Hutch flailed about as he felt them both slip downward. "Starsky, let go. Just let go, pal." He looked downward again and back up to Starsky with fear. "We both don't need to go out this way."
Starsky's fear, for the moment, had flown the coop and he never flinched and he never let loose his grip as he felt them both slip a little closer to mother earth. "Partner, no way in hell. You go, I go," Starsky belted out with deadly seriousness.
Hutch smiled at the selfless, but foolish, sacrifice his partner and friend was willing to take.
"You got that, Hutch? Where you go I go. Now come on, boy, reach up with your other hand."
Knowing his bull-headed partner would never give up, and thankful for it, Hutch let loose his only hold on life and stretched upward, latching with a slapping sound on to Starsky's other hand. They were hoisted slowly back up through the window.
Both men immediately plastered themselves to the side of the office wall near the open window. Hearts pounding in their throats, and limbs shaking, they slid down in unison to land on the floor. Dobey lowered himself to his desktop, waving the rest of the uniforms out of the office and wiping his brow. Starsky laid a hand on his partner's thigh.
Hutch took several more heavy breaths before he spoke in a quaky voice. "I-I don't remember hanging twenty stories over the city being in the job description." A small smile ebbing across his face, as he looked wide eyed at his captain. Hutch felt a wetness on his jeans and looked at his partner's hand. He picked it up to see the cut Starsky had incurred bleeding some through a Band-Aid.
Starsky jerked his hand away from his partner. "Had a fight with a coffee cup this morning."
"Guess you lost, buddy," Hutch quipped before becoming very silent. Hutch tried to get up off the floor but his shaky legs wouldn't allow it and he slid back down the wall leaning harder against the side of his partner.
"Slowly, Hutch, just take it slow." Starsky pulled Hutch tighter to him.
Starsky shaken, but apparently not as much as Hutch, stood and pulled at his partner's hand trying to help him to his feet. Hutch didn't move; he seemed to be somewhere else. Starsky looked down at the blond whose face took on a bleached pallor tinged with green. It was then Starsky noticed the cold clammy hand and the perspiration that streamed down the man's face. Hutch's normally brilliant blue eyes looked smoky and dazed. "Hey buddy." Starsky gripped the hand tighter trying to evoke a response. "You okay?" Starsky pulled once more at the hand of his partner, trying to get him on his feet again with no response. The folds of skin between his thick brows crinkled. "Hutch?" Starsky questioned.
Hutch slowly peered up at the worried face. He swallowed down hard then tried to answer his partner's question, his voice catching on a shiver as he spoke. "Ya, m-maybe, I-I d-don't know?"
Starsky knelt down to his friend, still gripping the clammy hand in his own. Hutch's body tensed and spasms of what must have been fear or maybe shock rippled through him. Starsky felt his partner's overwhelming emotions as if they were his own. He spoke quietly to Hutch. "It's okay, partner." Starsky raised his brows again. "Okay?"
Hutch looked up with a weak smile that faded to thin lips. "I-I don't ever want to feel like that a-again, Starsk." His hand that lay loosely in Starsky's finally gripped back as if Starsky were his lifeline; his saving grace.
"How's that, partner?" The frown still etched between the thick dark brows.
"S-scared. Hell, Starsk!" Hutch murmured. "Buddy, if I go, I don't want to watch you go, too."
"Hutch, I wouldn't have it any other way." Starsky eased up on his frown. "And neither would you."
"P-promise me, Starsk."
"Promise you what, partner?"
"If you even think I-I... If I even act l-like... I-If I show even the smallest sign o-of..." Hutch stumbled and stuttered over his emotions.
"Hutch, is that what this is all about? Look, Hobart lost it pal. He was on the edge and lost it. You're too good a cop, too good a person, Hutch. That won't, and I repeat, won't happen to you." Starsky pulled the shaken, shock-riddled man to his feet.
Hutch felt the world shift and he slumped against his partner. His adrenalin rush gone, sapping him of his strength. "It's all right. I'm here, partner." Hutch nodded his head in the peace that brought him. He startled some as both men's private hell was interrupted by their captain who had lost all patience and was he himself shook up.
"Starsky! Hutchinson!" Dobey roared, trying to hide his real feelings of dread and letting his own heart rate come back to a normal beat. "You two are responsible for my breakfast bowl being full of Rolaids and pouring Pepto over it instead of milk."
Starsky and Hutch looked at one another, still shaking at what almost transpired, but laughing silently at the care they knew their captain was displaying in his own gruff way.
Dobey shook his head and waved a parental hand at the two shook-up heroes. "Get the hell out of here! Take the rest of the day off and, and, and..." Dobey stuttered still trying to duck out of letting these two know just how scared he was for them and how thankful he was for his rescue. The quick-witted captain came up with an alibi. "Hutchinson get a hair cut. And you," he bellowed, pointing an unstable finger at Starsky. "Get a few new pairs of pants. Ones with no holes in them," Dobey ordered before he sank down in his chair and picked up the phone to call his wife, absently rubbing his wedding band while he waited for her to pick up the phone.
Slinging arms over shoulders, the partners headed out the door. "I think I could use a drink, Starsk." Hutch was still shaken.
"'Kay, buddy, lets go get blitzed, Blintz." Starsky looked back to the wee early morning hours of how bad the day started off, how it just kept getting worse. How it almost was catastrophic in magnitude but how now it all ended up okay. He shook his head, pulling Hutch deeper to his side and gripping his shoulder tighter. Partly to keep his own Jell-O legs from giving way, partly to keep Hutch walking. "Ya know what, partner?"
"Wha?" Hutch asked still feeling a bit light on his feet.
"Some days just look better upside down."
Huggy looked at the two patrons who had closed the tavern. It was 3:00 am and both blond and brunette were passed out cold. Their heads lay upon the mahogany bar, straight blond hair touching curly locks. Huggy placed the last shot glass on top the pyramid they had been working on all night long. He narrowed his sienna colored eyes at his two friends and shrugged. Guess it wouldn't hurt to leave 'em like that, he thought as he tossed the wet bar towel onto the counter. Huggy rounded the bar and put the rest of the bar stools on top the bar and headed for the front door. Glancing around his parlor one last time and at the two sleeping beauties he flicked the lights off.
"I don't envy the headache those two are going to have in the morning." He chuckled at the thought of the two dazed men waking with stiff necks, backs, and pounding heads. "Guess some days just look better upside down." Huggy quietly closed and locked the door. In the darkened tavern all that could be heard were the light snores of two best friends in or above the whole world.