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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A COP
Hutch maneuvered his way through the supermarket. He couldn't believe how crowded it was so early in the morning. He figured he'd be in and out, since he only needed a few items for the dinner he was making this evening for his parents. The best-laid plans, he thought to himself. He was definitely going to be late for work.
Hutch had finally made it to the check out and was thrilled to be the next person on line. The line was moving right along until the harried young mother in front of him didn't have enough money to pay for her groceries and was being berated by the teenage cashier.
"What seems to be the problem?" Hutch asked.
"She doesn't have enough money." The cashier said with obvious annoyance. "She's got to put stuff back."
The mother shifted her toddler on her hip. Her three-month-old infant was now screaming. Her five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter were begging for money for the gumball machine. She was obviously embarrassed and very flustered. She really needed every item that was in that cart.
"I know, I know. Just give me a second." She searched every pocket and practically dumped out her purse. She came up with one dollar and fifty-three cents. She was short ten dollars and forty-seven cents.
"Okay, here, take these." She pushed a box of Frosted Flakes, a package of chicken and a gallon of milk to the side. When her five-year old son realized his Frosted Flakes were not going to make it home he started whining.
"Mommy! You said I could have Frosted Flakes!"
"I'm sorry Tommy. Next time I promise you'll get your Frosted Flakes."
"You said that last week!" The child whined.
"That still isn't enough. How about taking this off?" The cashier said holding up a can of infant formula.
"No. I have to have that." She was extremely nervous.
"I think you need it all." Hutch said gently. "How much is she short?"
"Ten dollars and forty-seven cents." The cashier said tersely.
"Here." Hutch handed her eleven dollars.
"Oh no, I can't let you do that, really."
"Well yes you can. And it's already done." Hutch smiled.
"Oh thank you so much. I will pay you back. Give me your name an address and I will pay you back as soon as my husband gets paid."
"It's okay really." Hutch said while bagging her groceries.
"Hey I know you." Tommy said. "You're Officer Ken. Remember me?"
Hutch looked at the boy and remembered him from Sarah Carlson's afternoon kindergarten class. "Yes I do. You are in Miss Carlson's class." He was easy to remember, the only carrot top in the class with a face full of freckles.
"Yeah, yeah. Mommy, he came to our school and taught us about stranger danger." Tommy said putting the emphasis on stranger danger.
Hutch had been dating Sarah. She taught kindergarten at Washington School, which was a couple of blocks from his apartment. She had asked him to come and talk to her students about talking to strangers. He was more than happy to oblige.
Hutch put the groceries into the shopping cart. "Are you sure you can manage?" She had her infant son in a car bed in one shopping cart and her groceries in another.
"Yes, I do this all the time." She said placing her toddler daughter in the seat in the cart. "Please give me your address, I insist on paying you back."
"Ma'am that really isn't necessary."
"Ma'am? Oh please my name is Carol McCarthy."
The cashier had rung up Hutch's groceries. "That will be fifteen twenty-two." Hutch handed her a twenty. He got his change and packed his groceries into a shopping bag.
Her three-year-old daughter tried running out the front door. Carol caught her before she made it out of the store. "I told you that you have to stay by mommy." She gently scolded.
"Let me help you. You have your hands full." Hutch picked up the three-year-old and put her in the seat of the cart that had the groceries in it. He took Tommy by the hand and they all headed to her car.
Hutch put her groceries in her car. He insisted she didn't have to pay him back. She insisted that she did. He relented and gave her his address.
"Next week I will pay you back. You see my husband is a construction worker, he was hurt and was out of work for a few months. But he started a new job yesterday." Carol needed to explain.
"When I go to school later, I'm gonna tell Miss Carlson I saw you." Tommy was happy to inform Hutch "You gonna come back to our class again?"
"I hope so. Tell Miss Carlson hello for me." Hutch was no longer dating Sarah. She was another lady that couldn't handle dating a cop.
"Thank you again, that really was so kind of you."
"Don't mention it. I'm glad I could help. Take care." Hutch picked up his bag of groceries and headed for his car.
"Starsky where's Hutchinson?" Dobey barked. "And why do you always eat at your desk every morning. Don't you eat breakfast at home?" Dobey bit into a jelly donut.
Starsky scratched the side of his nose and looked up at Dobey. "Guess I could ask you the same question Captain?" Starsky said with a lopsided grin.
"No you couldn't because I'm the Captain and you are the sergeant!"
"Yes sir Captain."
"Now answer my question!"
"Uh which one would that be Captain, where's Hutchinson or why do I eat at my desk every morning?"
Dobey huffed at Starsky. Starsky smiled at Dobey. Before another word was said Hutch entered the squad room.
"Hutchinson! Why are you late? Never mind, just get to work!" Dobey went back into his office.
"So why are you late, Mr. I hate when people are late." Starsky chuckled.
"I had to go to the supermarket, it was a mob scene. I'm making beef stroganoff for dinner tonight. You are welcome to join us."
"I thought you and your folks were eating dinners out. I loved that place we went to the other night." Starsky said licking his lips.
"My father insists on picking up the tab when we go out. The only way I am going to be able to buy them a meal is if I cook it myself."
Starsky rose from his chair and placed his hand on Hutch's shoulder. "You're a good son." He said with a wink and a slight nod of his head. "Let's hit the streets before Dobey decides it is time for another tirade."
The detectives left the squad room, not a moment too soon. Dobey poked his head out of his office and was pleased to see that his best team was gone.
"Zebra three, Zebra three see the man named Huggy at the Pits. He says he has important information for you."
"This is Zebra three we are on our way." Hutch responded. "What could Huggy have for us that has him up in the morning? He usually doesn't wake up before noon."
"We'll soon find out. Hutch what's going on with your folks?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well this is their third visit in six months. They usually send you a ticket home to visit them."
"My dad is cutting back on his hours at his practice. I think Starsk they are looking to buy a home in Southern California. Those Minnesota winters are getting tough on them. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years, they retire here."
"Whoa, you sure you can handle that?" Starsky laughed.
"Yeah. It's been nice having them around. I have no family out here. My sister's not thrilled. My mom is a big help with her kids."
"So what are Dr. and Mrs. Hutchinson up to today?"
"My mom is hitting Rodeo Drive and my dad is hitting the golf course. He loves his golf."
"Don't most doctors." Starsky kidded.
Hutch laughed. "I don't know about most, but my dad sure does."
Starsky pulled the Torino in front of The Pits. The door was locked. He pounded on the door. "Hey Huggy. Open up."
"I'm coming, I'm coming. No need to pound and wake the dead." Huggy opened the door.
The duo entered the bar. "So what you got for us Hug?" Starsky asked.
"It is with regard to some cocaine that will be hitting the streets later today. The word is that it is coming in via a tractor trailer full of pillows and if you guys hurry you can be the welcoming committee at Slumberland over on 10th and Pine. The truck is coming in around 9:00."
"Pillows Hug?" Hutch raised an eyebrow.
"Don't ask me. Maybe they ain't all feather pillows. That's all I know, and gentlemen I'm heading back to slumberland."
"You know Hug, you'd make a great vampire." Starsky said patting him on the back.
"Don't you know Starsky that all barkeeps were vampires in a previous life." Huggy threw them a wave and the detectives left.
"What time is it?" Starsky asked Hutch.
"I don't know. Where's your watch?" Hutch retorted.
"On my wrist."
Hutch rolled his eyes and shook his head as they got into the Torino.
"It's 8:45. We'd better hurry." Starsky answered with a smirk, he loved teasing his partner. Hutch put the siren on the roof but took it down when they were within a few block of the Slumberland loading dock.
Right on schedule a tractor-trailer was backing into the loading dock. The detectives observed two men take a box and put it into a van.
Hutch turned to Starsky. "Hey Starsk, isn't that guy Louie Dano?"
"Yep and I guess his merchandise has arrived. But we don't have a warrant or probable cause to do a search."
"So I guess we follow that van. From the looks of it, I would bet something is not in proper working order."
Dano and his associate, Leroy got into the van. Leroy was determined to sample the merchandise. He opened a pillow at the seam and took out a packet of cocaine. He cut a straw in half and took some coke into the straw and snorted it. "Good stuff." He informed Louie.
"Glad to hear it. Now put it away." Lou ordered.
"Take it easy." Leroy put the coke in the glove compartment and laid the straw in the ashtray.
The partners followed the van. One false move and they would pull them over. Louie was switching lanes without signaling. Careless driving. They pulled them over.
Starsky walked up to the driver's side window and Hutch walked up to the passenger side.
"What seems to be the problem officer?" Louie asked calmly.
"You were switching lanes without using your signals. That is careless driving. I'll need your license and registration." Starsky noticed the half straw in the ashtray. There was also some white powder in the ashtray.
"What is that?" Starsky asked fully aware of what it was.
"Uh it's a straw. You know what a straw is right? You use it to sip soda out of a can?" Louie was getting nervous.
"I don't know, pretty short straw. What is it used for mini cans of soda? What do you think Hutch?"
"I don't know what you could use such a short straw for? Oh wait there is one use I know for it, to snort cocaine. Starsk I believe I see some cocaine in the ash tray."
"Okay fellas keep your hands up and step out of the vehicle." Starsky told them.
"Okay so you got a little coke in a straw. What's that a misdemeanor?" Was Louie's response.
"Yep but better than that, it is probable cause to search your van." Starsky patted Louie down and found a gun. Hutch did the same with Leroy but he was clean.
"I got a license for that!"
"Yeah." Starsky cuffed him. He reached into the van and retrieved the straw from the ashtray. He got a little powder out with his pinky and tasted it. "It's cocaine."
Hutch searched the glove compartment and found the packet of cocaine. "And here's more cocaine. You know I bet Starsk, there's a whole lotta cocaine in this van."
The detectives searched the van. They found the coke easily. Packets of cocaine were in pillows.
Hutch called for a black and white unit to take the suspects in.
The detectives continued their patrol.
"All units in the vicinity of 4th and Brewster. There is a report of domestic violence. 1217 Brewster Street, Apt. 4B."
"This is Zebra three we are responding." Hutch said and placed the light on the roof. "Starsk that is the Rivera's again. That is the third time this week. You think she will press charges this time?"
"I doubt it. But we can always hope."
When the detectives arrived, Carlos Rivera was gone. Juanita Rivera was sweeping up broken glass. She had a bruise on her cheek and was crying.
"Juanita." Hutch said gently. He helped her up. "You've got to let us pick him up this time. You have got to press charges."
"No. I can't!" She cried. "He's just frustrated because he can't find work. He's not usually like this."
"Juanita this is the third time this week." Hutch placed his hand on her arm.
Her four-year old son came out of his bedroom. "Mommy!" She scooped him into her arms. "It's okay Carlito."
"Where are your girls?" Starsky asked.
"Juanita, you know it starts out with him hitting you and it won't take much for him to turn on the children." Hutch was trying to persuade her to press charges.
"No, he would never hurt his kids. Look everything is all right now. I have to get this cleaned up. I have to go to work this afternoon. It's okay really. I wish my neighbors would mind their own business." Juanita glared at her neighbor Rosa Fernandez.
Realizing that she was not going to change her mind, the detectives had no choice but to leave.
"You mean there's nothing you can do about that animal!" Rosa said angrily with a thick Spanish accent.
"Rosa, you know that unless she is willing to press charges, there is nothing we can do." Hutch said apologetically. "I really wish there was. But she is lucky to have a neighbor like you. You call us if..."
"Don't you worry about that, I'll call you."
"What's it gonna take Starsk? When will she see that she cannot let him continue to hit her."
"Hopefully before it's too late." Starsky turned the key in the ignition and they continued on their patrol.
"All units a silent alarm at 1379 Hillside, Rabinowitz & Son Furriers."
"This is Zebra three we are responding."
The detectives arrived at the scene. They observed two black suspects taking furs and loading them into a van.
"Does that look like a Rabinowitz and son to you Starsk?"
The pair got the drop on the would-be fur thieves and placed them under arrest.
They continued their patrol.
Starsky pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store.
"Why are you stopping here?" Hutch queried.
"I could go for a snack. You want anything?"
"No thanks. I had breakfast."
"So did I." Before Starsky could exit the car, the radio beeped to life again.
"All units in the vicinity of Hillside and Main. A 211 reported. See the owner of the Quick Mart convenience store."
The partners looked at each other. "That's here." They said in unison. Hutch picked up the receiver. "This is Zebra three. We are here."
Starsky and Hutch entered the store and identified themselves as police officers. The proprietor, Calvin Biggs, was very agitated.
"So didya get them."
"Uh no sir, we just got here." Starsky said.
"Well you got here awful quick. You didn't see them?"
"No sir. Can you give us a description?" Starsky asked.
"Yeah, two Puerto Ricans. I think with that gang, don't know the name, but they wear the Puerto Rican flag on an arm band."
"Yes, we know the gang, Los Hombres. Can you describe the suspects?" Hutch asked.
"Both were wearing black windbreakers and blue jeans. One had a baseball cap on backwards. Both had short dark hair, I'd say height of both 5'8", medium build. I'm not good at descriptions, but I would know them again if I saw them."
"About how old do you think they were?" Hutch questioned.
"Teenage punks. No more that 16 or 17."
"Did you see what they were driving?" Hutch continued.
"No. They told me to get down on the floor. Hey they were armed. I didn't move until I was sure they were gone."
"You did the right thing." Hutch assured him.
"You are gonna catch these punks?"
"That's our job. We will let you know when we have them in custody." Hutch said confidently.
Starsky picked up a candy bar and put thirty-five cents on the counter. He smiled at the proprietor. "We'll be in touch."
They left the store. "You know Starsk that is the fifth convenience store robbery in two weeks. Sounds like Los Hombres is recruiting."
"Yeah the rob a convenience store initiation to the club."
The team got into the Torino. Hutch called in an APB on the suspects. They continued their patrol. They were able to pick up the teens when they answered a call for a disturbance of the peace. Mr. Biggs was called down to the station and picked them out of a line-up.
The duo was about to break for lunch when the radio beeped to life yet again.
"Zebra three, Zebra three come in please."
"This is Zebra three, go ahead."
"See the woman named Rosa at 1217 Brewster. Report of domestic violence."
"Control we are on our way."
The detectives ran up to the fourth floor. Rosa was waiting for them in the hallway.
"He came back. I hear a lot of yelling and screaming but now I hear nothing." Rosa said she was very frightened.
"Easy Rosa. Did Carlos leave the apartment?" Hutch asked.
Hutch tried the door; it was lock so he pounded on the door. "Police open up."
No response, so the detectives kicked the door in. Nothing could've prepared them for the carnage that they saw. Juanita was stabbed multiple times; the floor was soaked with blood. Carlos sat in a corner with his four-year old son on his lap. He held a bloody knife to his throat.
"You cops get outta here. I'm leaving here with my son." He said with a strained, weak voice.
The child whimpered. "Mommy. Mommy."
Starsky and Hutch moved slowly toward him. Hutch spoke in a quiet tone, "Carlos, put the knife down. Let Carlito go. I know you don't want to hurt him."
"My wife. My wife." Carlos started crying. He let his hand that held the knife fall onto his lap. The little boy ran to Hutch. Hutch picked him up and took him out of the apartment. Starsky placed Carlos under arrest.
Hutch handed Carlito over to Rosa. Juanita's sister was called; she would pick up her daughters from school. The Division of Youth and family services was called. Slowly the process of healing this shattered family would begin.
Hutch leaned against the Torino. "Do you think that Carlito saw his father kill his mother?"
"I don't want to know the answer to that Hutch. I hope to God not."
"Yeah." Hutch sighed and got into the Torino.
"Zebra three, Zebra three. Patch through from Fire Chief Jack Flynn."
"This is Zebra three, put him through."
"This is Jack Flynn. We have a situation over at the construction site on La Brea Blvd. A little boy, Tommy McCarthy fell into an abandoned well. He is obviously very scared, he told his mother that only you can get him out."
"Chief we will be right there."
"What's that all about. Why is the boy asking for you?"
"He remembered me from when I went over to Washington School to teach the kids about talking to strangers. I just ran into him and his mom at the supermarket this morning."
The detectives arrived at the scene. It was a circus. Television crews were everywhere. The fire department knew a hole had to be dug parallel to the well that Tommy was trapped in. They had brought in two well diggers to get the job done.
Hutch spotted Carol McCarthy and headed over to her. Starsky was right behind him.
Her eyes lit up with hope when she saw him. "Officer Hutchinson, thank you for coming."
"We came by here to bring my husband his lunch. Tommy was kicking a ball around, I just took my eyes off of him for a second, oh God, he fell down the well." She wept.
Jack Flynn approached and introduced himself to Hutch and Starsky and apprised them of the situation. "We know he is conscious. He is talking to his parents. He keeps insisting though that only you get him out."
"Okay, just tell me what I've got to do." Hutch was ready, willing and able to do whatever it took to get Tommy.
"Wait a minute." Starsky jumped in. "Hutch you're a cop, what do you know about doing a rescue like this?"
"It really isn't a difficult rescue, Hutch just has to go down the hole we dig then tunnel across to where Tommy is."
"Oh is that all?" Starsky said sarcastically. "I have an idea. Hutch why don't you talk to Tommy while a person trained in this kind of rescue goes down the hole and gets him."
"Starsk. Tommy insists on it being me. What if he won't go to this trained person? Then we've got two people in a hole and a little boy will still be trapped."
"I have to agree with Hutch on this. We want the boy calm. I have seen adults make rash decisions in dire situations. No telling how a child will react. We know he will go to your partner. Now if you will excuse me, I want to see how the dig is progressing."
"It is settled Starsk, I'm going down into that hole. I couldn't help Carlito, but I will be damned if I can't save Tommy."
Once Hutch said that, Starsky knew there was no use in arguing. The White Knight instinct was in full gear. "So that's it." Starsky sighed. "Hutch, what am I going to do with you."
Starsky and Hutch walked over to the well that Tommy was trapped in. Hutch called down to him. "Tommy, buddy. It's me Officer Ken. I'm going to be coming down soon to get you."
"Officer Ken," the boy said weakly, "I knew you would come." Tell my mom I'm thirsty."
"Honey I'm right here." His mother said in a soothing tone. We are trying to get you some water."
"Can you get water down to him?" Hutch asked the Chief.
"The well is collapsing. It gets narrower the further down we go. I'm afraid if we try to push anything down there, it will collapse further."
"How could this happen?" Starsky questioned.
"The well was never filled. The guys here tell me that it was covered by a piece of plywood. We had some rain the passed few days. The sides were slippery, he slid straight down and unfortunately his falling caused the well to partially collapse. It is cold and wet down there and we are dealing with some mud." The Chief looked up at the sky. "The sky is threatening, pray we don't get rain."
"How do you know how far down to go?" Starsky asked.
"The well is at least one hundred feet deep. We dropped a washer down on a string. Tommy told us that he could feel it. That was at fifty-eight feet. So that is how far we go. He's wedged there and he told his mom that his arm is stuck above his head." The Chief yelled over to the crew that was digging the hole. "How's it going?"
"Slowly but surely." Was the reply. "I'd say at least another couple of hours."
"Don't rush it. We don't want to disrupt that well anymore than it already has been." The Chief called back.
Hutch was talking to Tommy trying to keep his mind off of his situation.
"I'm gonna bring some ice cold water down with me when I come to get you."
The digging process was slow and arduous. Nerves were frayed. Finally after what seemed like an eternity the hole was complete.
"It's done Chief." The well digger announced.
"Great. Officer Hutchinson, we are ready for you."
A fireman put Hutch into a harness. He was given a small canteen of water, a flashlight and a spade to dig with.
The Chief explained what he had to do. "Okay, we are going to slowly lower you into the hole, but you're in control. You set the pace. But if you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, you give us a holler. Now you don't want to go all the way to the bottom. You need some space beneath you to put the dirt that you dig away to make the tunnel to the boy."
The Chief continued, "Now we know the boy is wedged. It's not like once you got a hold of him you can just pull him through. You have to make sure the opening is wide, well as wide as you can make it. You see, once you do make the move to pull him, you gotta do it in one shot. That well is collapsing, I'm afraid that once you start to move him, it's gonna go."
Starsky wasn't happy with the situation he wanted more information. "Wait a second, you expect Hutch to tunnel over to this kid with a spade? That's not much to dig with."
"Sergeant, the hole was dug diagonally, of course we couldn't go all the way with it, but your partner won't have to dig too much."
Hutch looked over at Starsky and tugged on the rope that was attached to the harness. "Don't worry Starsk, they can pull me up on a minute's notice."
"Ready as I'll ever be." Hutch lowered himself into the hole.
The Chief looked at the threatening sky. "I want a tarp around this area. And I want a tent put up over these holes. We don't want them any wetter than they already are."
Starsky yelled down to Hutch. "How's it going pal?"
"Can't you see the light." Starsky said with panic in his voice.
"Starsk, yeah I can see the light above me, I mean below is very dark."
"Sgt. Starsky there's a call for you." A fireman told Starsky.
"Hutch I got a call, I'll be right back."
"Who the heck could it be." Starsky mumbled under his breath.
"Starsky." He shouted into the receiver.
"Starsky this is Dobey, what the hell is going on over there? How's it going with Hutchinson."
"Captain he just started down the hole. I gotta get back over there."
"Okay Starsky keep me apprised."
As Starsky headed back to the well he saw Hutch's parents. "Karl, Elsa what are you doing here?"
"We were heading back to our hotel when we heard about this on the radio." Karl told him. "We were stunned to hear that Ken was the one who would be going down the hole to rescue the boy."
"Yeah, he knows the boy. The boy asked for him. Everyone involved feels it is best that Hutch go down."
"Oh my God." Elsa was becoming hysterical.
"Calm down sweetheart, he'll be fine." Her husband soothed. It was useless; she began to hyperventilate and fainted.
"Elsa!" Starsky shouted.
"Don't worry Dave. Elsa cannot handle tense situations. Let's just say I remember her panicking when one of the children so much as skinned a knee."
A paramedic came over with some smelling salts and she was quickly revived.
Hutch inched his way down the hole. He never could've never have imagined how dark, cold and narrow it was. Dirt was falling into his eyes and mouth. It was difficult to breathe. He could feel the cold wet earth on his skin. As his clothes got wet, he became colder. The deeper he descended the light above became smaller and smaller. He thought to himself that he now knew what it would feel like to be buried alive. He never considered himself claustrophobic, but he sure felt that way now.
Hutch finally arrived at the bottom. He took out the spade and started digging hoping to find Tommy with each shovel of earth that he removed. He looked up for the light at the end of the tunnel. He couldn't see it. But he had come to far to stop now. He continued digging for Tommy.
It had started raining. Not heavy, but a steady rain.
The Chief saw the worried look on Starsky's face. "Hutch has made it to the bottom. He just has to get to Tommy and we are home free." He said but not convincingly.
"You said the ground was already very muddy. Hutch had better work fast. Not dangerous Chief?"
"Sergeant I said it wasn't difficult, under perfect circumstances. But it was always dangerous."
The wind started whipping up and the rain came down harder.
Hutch could feel the dampness on him like a blanket. He dug fast and furiously. He had a flashlight but he couldn't hold it and dig at the same time in the cramped quarters.
As he moved the dirt away he tried to push his arm through the earth to see if he could feel Tommy. He remembered what the Chief had instructed and tried to make the opening as wide as possible.
Above ground, things were going from bad to worse. The well that Tommy was in collapsed. If Hutch couldn't get to the boy in the next few minutes, the rescue attempt would be just that, nothing more that an attempt.
Hutch pawed his way through what seemed to be an endless amount of dirt. He finally felt Tommy's cold body. The feel of it did not bring him the relief he had hoped for because he feared the worst. He tried to push the horrible thought from his mind and continued to widen the opening. He could now feel the boy's soft hair, he could run his hand down from the child's head all the way to his blue jeans. Hutch was confident he could pull him through.
"Tommy, it's me Officer Ken. I'm here buddy and I'm gonna get you outta here. Hutch put his arms around his waist and pulled him through the opening. Tommy's body fell into Hutch's chest. He found a weak pulse though and when he coughed it was music to his ears.
Hutch held Tommy close to him and tried to protect his face. Hutch tucked his head into his chest. He could feel the wet earth closing around him. Mud was falling on him, covering him and trying to steal his air. The mud was encroaching on their already tiny space, trying to entomb them. Hutch yanked on the rope with all his strength. He said a prayer and waited to be pull upwards.
Above ground the weather had deteriorated rapidly. The rain had become torrential. The makeshift tent was gone. The rain was pouring into the hole like a waterfall. The Chief commanded the men to start the winch. He locked eyes with Starsky. Starsky knew how desperate the situation was quickly becoming.
"Get that winch started men." The Chief screamed.
"This hole is really close to collapsing, isn't it?" Starsky blue eyes looked intensely at the Chief.
"Yes we've got to move fast."
Hutch could feel himself being pulled up but his body was soaked and covered in mud that he felt like he was being pulled down. He tried to push with his feet but the movement left him gasping for air. He remembered what his father had told him when he taught him to swim in Lake Superior. He told him that if he ever felt he was drowning, to let his body float, never panic, don't struggle. Hutch put himself in the lake. He took deep breaths. He would float. He had done his job. It was up to the men above to do theirs.
"The winch's motor seized!" A fireman yelled.
"You've got to get it going!" The Chief roared.
"It's seized up, there's no way to get it going!" The man was panicked.
Another fireman suggested that they get another winch. The Chief told him that there was no time for that. Before he could say another word, he saw Starsky on his knees pulling the rope. Several firemen fell in behind him. It was now a tug of war with death.
Starsky pulled on the rope with every ounce of strength he had. He gripped the rope tightly in his fists. His blood mixed with the rain and ran down his arms. He was oblivious to the pain. He just kept pulling. Death never faced a fiercer opponent.
Starsky looked into the hole. "I can see them!" He shouted. He called a fireman to take his place in the line. He lay on his stomach and reached into the hole. He wanted to grab a hold of Hutch.
"Go ahead Sergeant, lean in further. I've got you." The Chief grabbed Starsky's legs.
Starsky leaned further into the hole. "A little more and I can grab under his armpits."
A few agonizing moments later, Starsky was able to get a firm grip on Hutch. Hutch and Tommy were pulled to the surface. At that moment, the hole collapsed.
The paramedics immediately attended to Tommy. His color wasn't good, his breathing was shallow, his pulse was slow and he was suffering from hypothermia. He also had a broken arm. An oxygen mask was placed over his face and he was taken to the ambulance.
Starsky wiped the mud off of Hutch's face. Hutch's father had made his way over to where his son lay motionless. He noticed that his breathing was also shallow, his pulse slow and his color a little gray but he wasn't suffering from hypothermia. Starsky and Karl sat him up and he started to cough.
"I'm okay really." But Hutch still wasn't breathing well. Karl placed an oxygen mask over his son's face.
"I'll be the judge of that." Dr. Hutchinson motioned to the paramedics to put Hutch on a stretcher. "You are going to the hospital." Hutch's blue eyes met with those of his father and Starsky and he knew he had no say in the matter.
"I'm feeling a lot better. I really don't think I need to stay here overnight." Hutch insisted.
"No way young man. You are staying and that is final." His mother said while fluffing his pillow.
"Elsa could you go down to the cafeteria and get me a snack." Karl asked his wife sweetly. "Dave do you want anything?"
"Yeah a candy bar would be great."
"Okay. I'll be right back." She leaned over and kissed her son on the forehead.
"Why do I get the distinct impression she will be sleeping here tonight."
"Because you know your mother. That is exactly what she intends to do."
"Well son, now that your mother is gone, there is something I would like to discuss with you." Karl held up Hutch's rather large medical file.
Starsky tried to excuse himself but was instructed by Dr. Hutchinson to stay.
"I don't understand Ken how you could tell us that everything is fine. That you never get sick or hurt. We have nothing to worry about. Then I see your medical file."
Hutch shifted uneasily in his bed. "Dad it's just that I don't want you and Mom to worry needlessly. You know how upset she gets. She freaks out over a hangnail."
"Let me worry about your mother. I don't think our worry is needless when, let me see." He opened the file. "You are shot and critically wounded, contract botulism, are in a car accident and are a victim of the plague. All within a year's time!" Karl was incredulous. "You know we called you and asked you about that plague that I heard about and you told us you were fine. And if I go back further I see you were stabbed, trapped under your car and suffered third degree burns to your right hand when your trunk exploded."
"Well when you called I was, recuperating. Dad I just didn't want you to worry. Starsky would've called you if anything."
"If anything, like if you died! And as for you Dave, I am very disappointed."
"Disappointed in me?" Starsky said with surprise.
"Yes you are his best friend. I expect you to call me when something happens to him."
"Yes sir. I promise I will call you the next time something happens." Starsky gave an 'I told you so' look to Hutch.
"Thank you." He looked at his son. "We are your parents Ken and we love you. We don't need protecting."
"I know. I'm sorry. It won't happen anymore."
Elsa returned to the room with Tom and Carol McCarthy.
"Hi Officer Hutchinson. How are you feeling?" Carol asked.
"I'm fine. And please call me Ken. How is Tommy?"
"Much better, the doctors say he will be fine. He should be home in a couple of days." Tom told him.
"Ken my wife tells me we owe you ten bucks, but after today, well we owe you a helluva lot more than that."
"You don't owe me anything. And it really was a team effort." Hutch looked over at Starsky.
"I really wish there was something I could do to thank you." Tom pressed.
"Tom you just take care of that family of yours."
"Tell Tommy I will stop by tomorrow to see him."
"Will do." Carol replied and she and her husband left the room.
"Well gentlemen, I think Ken has had enough excitement for today and he needs his sleep." Elsa said while showing Starsky and her husband to the door.
"Okay I'm going, don't have to tell me twice." Starsky said throwing Hutch a backward wave.
A nurse came in with a rollaway bed. Hutch's suspicion was confirmed. His mother was spending the night in his hospital room.
She kissed her husband. "I will see you tomorrow dear."
"Mom this isn't necessary at all."
"Look. I'm still your mother and since you've lived in California I haven't been able to mother you for years. Besides, those nurses take forever to respond. You won't have to worry about a thing. Mother is here."
Hutch just smiled. She got him a glass of warm milk. She read a few chapters of a murder mystery to him and he fell asleep. He slept like a baby.