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She had nothing to give,
So, from the wall she lived behind,
She found the bricks that were the greenest with moss
And cut them out with a mason's bit
And gave the most beautiful to her friends,
A green-sided brick for each friend,
And her wall was gone.
--Gardner McKay and David Soul, Paraphrased
The office was quiet as two weary detectives prepared to call it a night. They had finished up the reports on two recent cases they had closed out--one a homicide, the other a rape--and they were looking forward to a couple of days off.
"Okay, that about does it," Detective Ken Hutchinson said, dropping the files in their proper places in the filing cabinet. He was a good-looking man in his early thirties--lean and tall with blond hair and eyes the color of a cloudless summer sky.
"Hey, Hutch, listen to this," said his partner, David Starsky, a ruggedly handsome man, the same age as his partner, only shorter, with dark, curly hair and eyes that twinkled like sapphires. He was reading from a flyer that was in a stack of inter-office mail he had been going through while his partner finished their paper work. "'Be sure to mark your calendars for the annual Municipal Employees' Christmas Party to be held this year at the Los Angeles Hilton on Saturday, December 6th. The theme for this year's party will be An Old-Fashioned Tea Dance. Police officers will be asked to serve as dance partners as part of a fund raising event, the proceeds of which will benefit the Mayor's Secret Santa Fund for needy children. Officers wishing to participate will receive six hours of compensatory leave. Please sign up by Friday, November 21.'"
"Yeah? So?" the blond cop said.
"Six hours comp time before Christmas? A chance to help needy children? Not to mention the prospect of dancing the night away with some foxy ladies?" Starsky was leaning over the desk, waving the flyer in his partner's face.
"Starsk," Ken Hutchinson said, we've been to some of these municipal employee...'wingdings' in the past, back when we were in uniform. In all likelihood, these 'foxy ladies' you are looking forward to will turn out to be dowdy, middle-aged women from the city's accounting department or blue-haired, old-maid school teachers who are ready to retire."
"Aw, c'mon, Blondie, look on the bright side. Surely some of the cuties from the file room upstairs will show up. Or remember that lady coroner we met last year on the Jeffries case? Besides, think of the comp time. You know how hard it is to get any time off this time of year. And the kids, Hutch. We'll be helping some needy kids have a nice Christmas." Starsky looked up at him with what could only be described as puppy dog eyes.
Ken Hutchinson took the flyer and read it to himself. At last, he shook his head in resignation. "Well, I guess it couldn't be that bad. Do you suppose Captain Dobey will let us off?"
"Oh, you know what a softie the Cap'n is when it comes to these things. Besides, I'll bet we'll be the only ones from this division who will want to sign up. Most of these guys we work with are family men. We're swingin' singles. Two of LA's Finest. I'm sure Dobey'll let us go!" David Starsky said.
"Okay, go ahead and put our names down," the blond detective said.
"After all," his partner said, taking a pen in his left hand and putting their names on the flyer, "the worst Dobey could say is 'no', right?"
"Or 'Hell, no!'" Hutch said with a wry smile.
"What the heck is a 'tea dance'?" The question was asked by Jenny Schaefer, a 26 year-old librarian who worked in the cataloging department of the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Jenny had short brown hair and brown eyes that twinkled when she smiled. At 5'4", she was slim and petite and she definitely did not fit the stereotypical image of a librarian. She was standing in the library's break room, reading over the news items posted on the staff bulletin board.
"Tea dances were social events that were popular before the roaring twenties. They were grand parties, usually held in a hotel ballroom, and they only served tea--no alcohol." The speaker was Maggie Grayson, a reference librarian, who happened to be Jenny's best friend, as well as her roommate and co-worker. Like Jenny, Maggie was 26 years old. Maggie had shoulder-length red hair and green eyes. She was 5'6' and weighed 140 pounds. In the past, Maggie had weighed as much as 190 pounds; but over the last few months, she had managed to lose fifty pounds, mostly through sheer will power and Jenny's encouragement. To complement her "new look," Jenny had recently convinced her friend to switch from glasses to contact lenses. But Maggie still seemed rather bookish and reserved when compared to the more bubbly personality of her friend. "Why did you want to know what a tea dance is?" Maggie asked.
"It seems the city is going to be sponsoring one on December the sixth. It says that the proceeds will go to buy Christmas gifts for needy children."
"Oh really?" Maggie asked, coming over to the bulletin board to read over her friend's shoulder. It was true. The notice went on to describe the various activities planned for the evening. There would be an eighteen-piece dance band playing musical favorites from the turn of the century through 1950. Officers from the police department would be offering their services as dance partners for one dollar a dance. Free refreshments would be provided by local restaurants, but there was a note that there would be no alcoholic beverages served. There would also be door prizes, dance contests, and even a visit from Santa himself. The cost for the evening was only five dollars per person and all city employees were being encouraged to attend, including those who worked at the library.
"It sounds like it's right up your alley," Jenny said with a smile. "It's your kind of music, no booze will be served, and Santa Claus will be there!"
Maggie ignored her friend's good-natured teasing. It's true, Maggie was something of a stick-in-the-mud compared to her friend. Jenny loved to go disco dancing. And even though Jenny was not exactly a party animal, she enjoyed having fun--especially with the opposite sex. Jenny enjoyed an occasional beer with her pizza or at a ball game, and she was quite fond of Brandy Alexanders. Unfortunately, Jenny was usually rather giggly and a little silly after only one drink. Once, when they had gone to a friend's wedding reception, Jenny had gotten so tipsy on the champagne that she had given her purse a ride in the elevator at the friend's apartment building. Maggie had been embarrassed by her friend's silliness, not to mention being relieved when Jenny's purse came back to them a few minutes later, safe and sound. Ever since then, Maggie, a non-drinker, had become Jenny's designated driver whenever the two of them went out on the town--which, to be honest, was not that often.
"What do you say, Maggie? Should we go to this tea dance thing?"
"Well..." Maggie said, intrigued by the nostalgia angle and encouraged by the fact that there would be no alcoholic beverages to bring out the silly side of her friend.
"Of course," said Jenny with mock seriousness, "I would have to check my social calendar. I have so many guys waiting in line to take me out, I'm just not sure I will be free that night."
Maggie looked at her friend. She knew that Jenny was between boyfriends right now, and unless her friend had just met someone in the few minutes before they went to the breakroom, Maggie was certain that Jenny had no dates lined up for December sixth. Of course, all that could change between now and then. Jenny dated fairly often. But she was not promiscuous. This was not to say that Jenny was a virgin. She had fallen really hard for two of her boyfriends--the first one when she and Maggie were seniors in high school and the second when they were in college. Both break-ups had been hard on Jenny, especially the second one, and she had preferred to keep things "light" ever since then. Even though Maggie and Jenny had been best friends since junior high, Jenny had been reluctant to tell Maggie about her two sexual experiences until just a couple of years ago.
Maggie was not a prude, but she had been the victim of a sexual assault the summer before she and Jenny had met. Maggie had been to counseling a few times since then, but she was never very comfortable dating, always preferring to keep the opposite sex at an emotional arm's length. The few times that she had dated, Maggie had been reluctant even to allow a chaste good night kiss. Consequently, Maggie was not usually asked out on many dates--and had never had a second date with anyone.
Jenny thought that her friend's preference for old music and old movies was a defense mechanism, just as the glasses and the excess weight had been. Jenny often felt that Maggie had forged this well-built wall around herself, determined to keep any prospective suitors out. It was Jenny's fondest wish that someday, some handsome prince would scale Maggie's wall and set her free. Jenny thought about this tea dance thing. Maybe Maggie could meet someone there who would like the same kind of music she did, even have some other things in common with her. Maybe one of those cops...
"Well," Jenny said after perusing her pocket calendar, "you're in luck. I have no dates set for that night. So, I suppose I could go to this tea dance with you."
"Gee, that's awfully generous of you," Maggie said.
"Well, who knows," Jenny said with a flirty grin. "We might even pick up a couple of those cops who will be there!"
Maggie shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Maybe you might do that--not me!"
"Okay," Jenny said, slyly, "Maybe I'll pick up a couple of cops!"
"Will you hurry up?" Ken Hutchinson asked his partner. They had been in the men's room of the Hilton for ten minutes now, while Starsky preened in front of the mirror.
"What do you think, Hutch? One button or two?" David Starsky was wearing a white leisure suit with a navy blue shirt. The effect was striking and set off his dark blue eyes. He couldn't decide whether to unbutton just the top button of his shirt or the top two buttons. Around his neck, he wore a gold disk on a chain. The medallion was more noticeable with the second button undone, likewise the lush growth of hair on his chest. Starsky tried buttoning the second button for the umpteenth time. "I don't know. I don't want to be too obvious. Maybe I should go for subtlety tonight."
Ken Hutchinson laughed. Starsky was about as subtle as an atomic bomb, especially when he flashed his cock-eyed grin at a lady. "Starsk, you're beautiful, either way. But you're not going to impress any of those foxy chicks out there if we stay in here all night!"
"Yeah, I guess you're right. I just want to make sure that I'll be a knock-out!"
"After those five chili dogs with onions that you wolfed down at lunch, you'll be a knock-out, all right. All you'll have to do is open your mouth and your breath will do the rest!"
Starsky breathed into his palm and sniffed. He shook his head. "Thanks, Hutch! You're right!"
"As usual." Ken Hutchinson shoved his hands into the pockets of his gold sport coat in a gesture of impatience. A black turtleneck and brown dress pants completed his ensemble. He looked very handsome, indeed.
Dave Starsky reached into his shirt pocket and took out a small bottle of Binaca breath spray. He opened his mouth and pumped a couple of shots into his mouth, then breathed into his hand again. "Thanks, Hutch. That's better!"
Hutch shook his head. "Great, now your breath will smell like onions and Binaca!"
It was a little before 6:00 on the night of December sixth. They took the elevator to the 25th floor where the Christmas tea dance was to be held. The ballroom was filled with several dozen tables and chairs, each table decorated with a votive candle surrounded by sprigs of evergreen. At the far end of the room was the bandstand where the eighteen-piece orchestra was tuning up their instruments. The band members looked spiffy in black pants, white shirts, green jackets, red ties, and white carnation boutonnieres. In front of the bandstand was a large dance floor. Above the dance floor was a revolving crystal globe, casting starry glints of silver on the entire room. Streamers and swags of evergreen adorned the walls as well as the refreshment table, which was off to one side of the room. Next to the refreshment table was a giant Christmas tree, gaily decorated and brightly lit.
Beside the entrance was a small table, spread with numerous name tags--some blank and some bearing special borders with names pre-printed on them. A large fishbowl sat at the end of the table. The fish bowl was empty, except for several folded pieces of paper. Blank strips of paper and a pen were on the table beside the fish bowl. A matronly woman presided at this table, with a money box in front of her.
"May I help you?" she asked.
"Yes," the blond cop said. "I'm Ken Hutchinson and this is David Starsky. We are two of the police, uhh...escorts."
The lady flipped through the special name tags and pulled out the two with their names already printed on them. "Here you are, officers. I hope you have your dancing shoes on tonight. We've already had some ladies asking when the special male dancing partners would arrive." She nodded her head toward two tables where several middle-aged women, decked out in their holiday finery, were seated.
"Terrific," Dave Starsky said, as he and his partner put on their name tags. He reached into his pocket and handed her his five dollars.
"Oh," the woman said, "didn't they tell you? The police dance partners are admitted free."
"That's okay," Hutch said, handing her his money, too. "It's for a good cause."
"Why, thank you, Officers!" the woman said, taking their money. "Oh! Don't forget to put your names in the fishbowl--we'll be drawing for door prizes later in the evening." Each man wrote his name on a slip of paper and tossed it into the fishbowl. "Good luck! And have fun!" the matronly woman called out to them as they walked away from the table.
"Well, partner," Ken Hutchinson asked, as they eyed the women waiting to dance with them, "do you feel 'lucky' tonight?"
"Yeah, right!" said Starsky.
"Will you hurry up?" Maggie asked with excited impatience as they stood before the mirror in the Hilton's ladies room.
"All right, I'm coming!" Jenny said, closing her compact and dropping it into her purse. She turned around before the mirror, giving herself the once-over. Jenny wore a red sleeveless jumpsuit with white pearl earrings. Even when she was dressed simply, she still looked stunning. She wore red platform sandals that made her appear taller than she was.
Maggie wore very little make-up--a little bit of blush and some lip gloss. Anything more than this and she felt like a little girl playing dress-up--pretending to be something she was not--or, worse yet, she felt like a circus clown. Maggie's red hair was curled tonight and it fell in soft waves around her shoulders. She wore a dark green dress with long sleeves and a long, flowing skirt that was mid-calf length. Jenny couldn't stand the longer styles that were becoming more popular lately, but Maggie liked them, saying they reminded her of dresses from the thirties or the fifties. In spite of her attempts to downplay her looks, Maggie was an attractive woman.
They proceeded across the gold sculptured carpet of the hotel lobby and rang for the elevator.
"Are you sure I look all right?" Jenny asked self-consciously. "I mean, I've never been to one of these tea thingies before and--"
"Yes!" Maggie groaned, "for the tenth time, you look great!"
When they arrived on the 25th floor, it was nearly 6:30. As they stepped out into the hallway, they were immediately aware of the sound of talking and laughing down the hallway to their right, and above the din of the party sounds was the dreamy sound of the theme song of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
"Moonlight Serenade!" Maggie said, following the music. Glenn Miller had been her favorite "group" when she was in high school, along with the 60's folk duo Chad and Jeremy. Maggie hated disco and all of the other current music that Jenny listened to. Maggie only liked the music of the past--be it opera or oldies, string quartets or swing, folk music or jazz. Tonight, Maggie was in her element.
As they stepped into the ballroom, Maggie held her breath: it was all so beautiful! Even Jenny was duly impressed, although she was already searching the room for attractive men. They paid their money to the matronly woman at the table by the door, filled out their plain white name tags, and put them on. Jenny, true to form, wrote her first and last name on hers. Maggie, however, just wrote her first name. The woman had them fill out slips of paper upon which they wrote their full names. They then placed them in a fishbowl for the drawings that would be held later in the evening for door prizes. The lady also pointed out the refreshment table and the table at which dance tickets were being sold. She then wished them a good evening and they walked into the ballroom.
"So this is what a tea dance is," Jenny said, searching for a few good-looking guys.
"I guess so," said Maggie, feeling as though she had stepped back into the past.
They had no trouble finding an empty table, since it was still so early, and they proceeded to sit down. Their table was right beside the dance floor. The orchestra had just finished Moonlight Serenade and there was a round of appreciative applause. Most of the dancers--indeed, most of the people in the room--looked to be aged fifty or older. There were, of course, a few exceptions, and Jenny was making mental notes of the men that she saw who looked to be under fifty--or even under forty. The orchestra then began playing a snappy rendition of The Sheik of Araby and the dancing resumed.
"Would you like anything to drink?" Maggie asked.
"A Brandy Alexander," Jenny teased.
"Very funny," said Maggie. "How about some tea?"
"Uh, I'd rather have some coffee," Jenny said.
"Coffee?" Maggie asked flatly. "At a tea dance?"
"Sorry," Jenny shrugged. "I gotta be me!"
"Okay," Maggie sighed, heading for the refreshment table, which was pretty crowded at this point.
"Oh, and bring us some goodies," Jenny called out to her friend. "You know, some cookies or some sausage balls or something like that."
As she waited for her friend to return, Jenny's eye was caught by a funny sight. Out on the dance floor, she saw a handsome young man, thirty-ish, with blond hair, dancing with a white-haired woman of about sixty. What made it especially funny was that this young man was well over six feet tall and his dancing partner was not even five feet tall. He was bent over in an absurd way, trying to reach her as they danced. Despite his obvious discomfort, the man was smiling and seemed to be enjoying his partner's company. Jenny wondered if he might be her grandson. As the comical couple went dancing by, the young man happened to look up and see Jenny. She looked back at him and couldn't help but laugh. He smiled back at her and shrugged, then turned back to his partner. For the rest of the song, whenever they went by Jenny's table, the man would make eye contact with Jenny, smiling or giving her a look of hopeless resignation. Jenny would respond with a giggle or a "thumbs up" sign or by twirling her index finger in the air.
When Maggie returned with their refreshments, she had no idea of what was going on.
"Here you go," she said, setting Jenny's coffee down in front of her. She had gotten a cup of hot spiced tea for herself, along with a plate of goodies for them to share. Jenny's attention, however, remained on the dance floor. "Hey!" Maggie said, snapping her fingers in front of her friend's eyes. "Earth to Jenny! You can't be that bored yet!"
"Bored?" her friend asked, as if she were somewhere far, far away. "Who's bored? This might turn out to be one of the best parties I've been to in a long time!"
"It might?" Maggie asked, incredulously.
It was several songs later before Ken Hutchinson was able to talk to David Starsky. They had both been dancing for the better part of an hour and they were finally taking a breather beside the refreshment table.
"I don't know about you, Hutch, but I don't think I've danced with anyone under fifty!"
"Yeah, I know what you mean, partner, but I think I may have found a couple of younger models for us to test drive."
"Where?" the dark-haired cop asked, searching the dance floor.
"See that table over there by the dance floor?" Hutch asked, pointing at a table where two young women were seated.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you it's not polite to point?" Starsky asked, but he followed Hutch's glance and saw who he was pointing at. He grinned. "Good work, Hutch. Now all we have to decide is which one of us goes for which one of them?"
"Well, Starsk, I know how much you like redheads."
Starsky grinned. "Yeah, she does look good, doesn't she?"
"Besides, I've already been flirting with the brunette and I think the feeling is mutual."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Dave Starsky said, setting down his empty cup and walking toward the table where the two young women were sitting.
Hutch pulled him back. "Uh, Starsk, why don't you let me do the talking? Okay?"
His friend shrugged. "Okay, Blintz, you lead the way."
The brunette looked up and saw them coming toward them. She smiled and nudged the redhead to make her turn around. The redhead, however, seemed lost in the music and didn't turn around until the two officers were already there.
"Excuse me," Ken Hutchinson said, turning on the charm. "My friend and I are with the police department and we are helping with the fund raising project by serving as dance partners tonight."
"I know," the brunette beamed.
Hutch noticed that her name tag said Jenny Schaefer. "Would you ladies care to dance?" he asked.
The redhead had turned back around, listening to the music once again.
"I'd love to," Jenny said. "What do I have to do?"
The redhead turned around suddenly and looked at her friend, an expression of disbelief on her face.
"All you need is a ticket," Hutch said to them, borrowing the lyrics to a popular 1930's song.
Starsky then jumped in, singing the last line of the song to the redhead, "Ten cents a dance!" The redhead looked down at her hands, nervously. Perhaps I came on a little too strong? Starsky thought to himself.
Hutch laughed. "Actually, it's a dollar a dance."
"Sounds good to me!" Jenny said, reaching down and taking a few dollars out of her purse. "Where do I buy my tickets?"
"Right this way," Hutch said, pulling out her chair for her and taking her arm as they walked toward the ticket table.
Maggie stared nervously at her hands in her lap.
"What's wrong?" the dark-haired cop asked. "Price too high?" He was grinning in such a way that Maggie had to smile. She shook her head and looked down again. She was wondering how she could possibly tell this good-looking man that she had never danced with a guy before, except for her father, and even that had been when she was a little girl. She looked up at him again. He was still waiting, with that killer smile and his arms raised to the sides, palms up, in a gesture of entreaty.
"I'm afraid I really don't know how to dance," Maggie said finally.
"Oh, is that all?" he asked. "No problemo. This is a nice, slow song. There's nothin' to it! I'll show you!" He came around behind her and pulled out her chair, as the other cop had done for her friend.
Maggie reached down to get a few dollars out of her purse. He must really want this money in a bad way! Maybe some of this money is really going toward the police officers' Christmas bonus! she thought.
He led her to the ticket table. She put four dollars down and the ticket lady gave her four tickets. The dark-haired cop reached into his own pocket and put down six more dollars. "If I'm going to be giving you dance lessons, it might take more than four songs to teach you everything I know!" He wiggled his eyebrows at her, Groucho Marx-style.
Maggie gave him a look that bordered on panic. Did he really expect her to dance ten dances--with him? He took the ten tickets and put them in his jacket pocket ("for safe-keeping" he said), then he led the way to the dance floor.
The orchestra began playing Stardust. Maggie looked around nervously for some glimpse of Jenny and the blond cop--what had his name tag said?--but she didn't see them. Her search was cut short by the dark-haired cop clearing his throat. He took her right hand in his left and put his right hand on her waist. She put her left hand on his shoulder. They then began stepping from side to side in time to the music.
"Just relax," he said, "and follow me!"
Relax! Yeah, right! she thought. At least, I am not wearing platforms or high heels, Maggie thought. I hope I don't step on his feet!
"See, I told you," he smiled, after a few moments. "Nothin' to it!"
Maggie nodded and looked down at her feet.
"Uh-uh!" he said, and she looked up at him, questioningly. "You can't do that! Rule Number One of Dave Starsky's Do-It-Yourself Dance Lessons: Never look at your feet!"
Maggie felt embarrassed and began to look down again.
"Ah--" he said, warningly, and she looked up at him again.
"Don't look at your feet! Look at your instructor. He's much more interesting!" he said, grinning. Maggie smiled shyly. He looked at her name tag. "Maggie," he said. "That's a pretty name. Maggie what?"
"Maggie Grayson," she said.
He nodded. "Pleased ta meet ya, Maggie Grayson. My name's Dave Starsky.
What do you do for a living, Maggie?"
"I'm a librarian," she said. She suddenly realized that she was staring at his chest. Well, I can't look at my feet, she thought, and I'm afraid to look into those melting blue eyes of his. So, of course, I'm staring at his chest. His...hairy chest.
"So, you're a librarian?" he said.
"Yes," she said, trying to concentrate on something besides his chest, "Jenny and I are both librarians."
"Jenny," he said, "that's your friend over there who's dancing with my partner?"
He glanced over his shoulder and Maggie followed his gaze. Sure enough, there was Jenny, talking and laughing with the blond cop as they danced. Maggie nodded. "He's your partner?"
"Yeah. His name is Ken Hutchinson," David Starsky smiled. "We've been together seven years. Hutch and I met in the Police Academy. We've been partners and best friends ever since. He's closer to me than my own brother."
Maggie nodded. "Jenny and I met in the ninth grade and have been best friends ever since. We went to the same high school. We went to undergraduate school together. We went to library school together. We both got jobs at the main branch of the library downtown. We even share an apartment." Why am I telling all this to a complete stranger? she thought.
"Well," David Starsky said with that grin of his, "I guess I'll have to go over to the library sometime and...check you out!"
Maggie tensed up a little at his flirtatious remark. She found herself attracted to this man and it suddenly made her want to run away and hide in the ladies' room.
Her dancing partner sensed that something was wrong. "Hey," he said, "you're looking at your feet again. What's wrong? Is this music starting to get to you?"
"What?" Maggie asked, looking up.
"The music," he said. "If you're not used to this old kind of music, it can get a little boring after awhile."
Maggie laughed. Boy! Does he have the wrong impression of me! "It's not the music," she said carefully, not wanting to criticize his abilities as a dance instructor. "I love this kind of music! In fact, the main reason I came here tonight was because of the music...to listen to the music. I-I've never really danced to it before...well, not slow dancing, anyway...not with a guy, uh, except for my father." Maggie was afraid she might have hurt his feelings. At the very least, he must now be thinking that she was the stereotypical librarian--can't dance, likes old-fogey music, not his idea of a fun date. But the song was finally over and she figured he would go off and try his luck with some other woman who would be more fun. She looked down once again.
For whatever it was worth, she added weakly, "I know how to do the Charleston and the jitterbug and a few other dances, but I'm afraid I'm just not much for slow dancing."
As if on cue, the orchestra broke into I'm Gonna Charleston Back to My Old Shack in Charleston. Maggie looked at him and her mouth dropped open.
"Well," he said, breaking into a grin. "What are we waiting for?"
Ken Hutchinson had never met anyone quite like Jenny Schaefer. She was intelligent and witty. They found that they liked many of the same books and authors and movies. Moreover, she was vivacious and just about the cutest young woman he had met in a long time.
He told her about himself--growing up in the Midwest, moving to California to pursue a career in law enforcement, meeting his partner, Dave Starsky, and the immediate bond they had shared since the Police Academy.
Jenny, it seems, had also grown up in the Midwest, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and her family had moved to California when she was twelve. She had met her friend, Maggie, soon after and, like the bond between the two cops, she apparently had a similar bond with her friend. She mentioned that she and Maggie both worked as librarians at the main library and that they shared an apartment.
Hutch made a mental note of this, thinking how convenient it might be for double dating--he with Jenny and Starsky with Maggie--in the future. Hutch caught sight of Starsky and Maggie and it looked as though his buddy was teaching Jenny's friend how to dance.
Jenny caught sight of them, too, and shook her head.
Maggie seems so stiff, Ken thought. Well, if anyone can get her to relax and have some fun tonight, it will be Starsky.
"I'm afraid Maggie is a little shy," Jenny said. "And not much of a slow-dancer."
"That's okay," Ken said, holding her just a little bit closer. "Starsky is a good teacher. In fact, we once went under cover--Starsky as a dance instructor and me as a student at the dancing school."
Jenny's eyebrows shot up. "You and your partner are undercover cops?"
"Detective sergeants to be exact," said Hutch, with just a slight hint of superiority in his voice. He wanted very much to impress this young woman.
"Wow!" Jenny said, unconsciously moving a little bit closer to him. "And I was impressed when Maggie and I were promoted to the level of Librarian II last year!" They both laughed, then she continued. "As undercover detectives, do you...carry guns?"
Ken Hutchinson looked down. He really didn't want to talk about work tonight, especially since he had seen some pretty gruesome sights as a cop. "Yes," he said quietly. He felt her body momentarily tense as he said this, so he decided to try to downplay it by adding, "Thankfully, I haven't had to use it very often."
He felt an immediate wave of relief spread through her, but then she asked, "Have you or your partner--what was his name?"
"Starsky," he said. "David Starsky."
"Have you and Detective Starsky ever been shot at before?"
Hutch didn't like the way the conversation was going. He didn't want to frighten her with some of the more dangerous or gory details of their work. "Starsky and I have both been wounded in the line of duty before. It's a risk you take when you decide to go into police work. Thankfully, the 'bad guys' don't usually win."
To his surprise, Jenny snuggled closer to him and he instinctively put his arms around her in a protective gesture as they danced.
"I hope," she whispered, "that the 'bad guys' never do win--at least not against you."
He searched her eyes. This was not some coy, calculated gesture on her part. Her concern for him was genuine. He smiled and nestled his cheek against hers. This is crazy, he thought. I've only just met her and I feel so...so...what? Attracted to her? Drawn to her? Protective of her?
The song ended and they applauded along with the other dancers.
"Say, could I interest you in some refreshments?" Ken Hutchinson asked.
"Yes," Jenny said, forgetting the fact that she still had a half-filled cup of coffee and some cookies back at her table. They walked over to the refreshment table and helped themselves to some of the food and drinks that were there. They took their plates and cups off to a quiet corner and sat down in some chairs against the wall.
Jenny didn't know this, of course, but Hutch was never one to beat around the bush and he took a deep breath and plunged right into the next question. "Jenny, are you...are you...'involved' with anybody right now?"
Jenny didn't usually blush, but there was something about the directness in those cornflower blue eyes that brought a sudden pinkness to her cheeks. "No, uh, Ken, I'm not."
Hutch smiled. "I'm not, either. And I was wondering...would you, perhaps, be free for dinner, say, next week?"
Jenny looked up at him and smiled. "I'd like that. When?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe, next Saturday night? We could go out for pizza and a movie?"
"Okay," she said. "You're on!"
He then noticed Starsky and Maggie out on the dance floor, who were now doing the Charleston, of all things. "Perhaps you would like to double date, you know, with my partner and your friend?"
Jenny frowned slightly. Maggie! Jenny somehow doubted that Maggie would want to go along.
Hutch noticed her expression and asked, "Unless Maggie is already seeing someone else?"
Jenny almost laughed at this. "No, it's nothing like that," she said. "I'm afraid that Maggie just doesn't date that much."
He found this a little hard to believe. "Really? I mean, she's so attractive," then he added with a sly smile, "although, not as attractive as her roommate."
Jenny was in heaven! If Kenneth Hutchinson had said, "Come live with me and be my love!" she probably would have taken him up on his offer! But a part of her cried out in warning: Remember the last time! Don't give your heart away so quickly! Slowly and cautiously! That was what you vowed after you broke up with Tony. Slowly and cautiously! Jenny's thoughts returned to Maggie. "I'm afraid that Maggie has a hard time...relaxing and...getting to know people--guys, especially."
"Oh, I don't know," Ken said, nodding toward where Starsky and Maggie were doing the Charleston out on the dance floor. "It looks as though she is pretty relaxed right now!"
Jenny turned around to see where Hutch was looking. She couldn't believe her eyes! There was Maggie, holding onto Detective Starsky, their feet flying in an amazing version of the Charleston. Jenny knew that her friend could dance this way, she had just never seen her dance with a guy before. And it looked like Maggie was having fun! "Well, I'll be damned!" Jenny said, then covered her mouth in embarrassment. She didn't normally say such things.
Ken just laughed softly and told her, "That's all right. I might have said the same thing about Starsky. You know, they're actually pretty good."
They finished their goodies while they watched the show that Maggie and Starsky were putting on. Several other couples had stopped to watch them, too. Without leaving their seats, Jenny and Hutch joined the others in applauding their friends' performance when the song ended. Then Jenny and Hutch took their empty plates and cups to a trash receptacle.
Hutch glanced up and pointed to something on the wall above them: it was a sprig of mistletoe. Jenny thought it was an odd place to hang some mistletoe, but her thought was cut short by Hutch lifting her chin with his index finger. "Shall we?" he asked.
She smiled. "Why not?" Their kiss was short, but oh, so sweet, and it held the promise of good things to come.
Dave Starsky put his hands on Maggie's shoulders and she put her hands on his. He nodded his head and the two of them began moving their legs in the jerky motions of the Charleston. Starsky had wondered when the dance lessons he had taken prior to his undercover assignment as Ramon, the Argentinean dance instructor, would come in handy. Now he knew. He didn't think there could be another woman in Los Angeles who was as young and as pretty as Maggie Grayson who could do the Charleston the way she could. She even seemed to know the words to the song, since she began singing them until she became too out of breath to continue!
"I'm gonna Charleston back to my old shack in Charleston, Charleston,
"Hang my hat upon the rack in Charleston, Charleston,
"I'm so full of joy today, I could Charleston all the way,
"'Til I land in someone's empty arms..."
"I didn't even know there were words to this song!" he said, becoming somewhat winded himself. Maggie just nodded. "Hey, he said, "what do you say we try a few of the other steps? You know, a little razzamatazz?"
With this, they broke apart and stood still. He bent over and put his hands on his knees, feet apart, moving his knees together and apart in time to the music, crossing his hands to the opposite knees as they came together, then crossing them back as his knees moved apart. Maggie knew this step, too, and started doing it to her own knees.
"What about..." he said breathlessly, still doing the knee action, "the step where...we join back together...but we kinda...hop...twice...forward and back, forward and back...on each side?"
Maggie nodded. "We hop twice on each side a few times," she said, starting to catch her second wind, "then do it double time, once on each side, a few more times?"
He nodded. "You're on, partner!" Once again, they had their hands on each others' shoulders, going through the hopping motions. As she hopped to the left, he hopped to her right, then they changed directions and did it all again. Hop-hop right, hop-hop left, hop-hop right, hop-hop left, hop right, hop left, hop right, hop left.
"Razzamatazz!" he called out, and went back to the knee movements. They were both panting and sweating, laughing and then smiling when they became too out of breath to laugh. "Okay," he said, "how about if we go back to the original steps for the rest of the song?"
"Okay," she panted.
They returned to the original movements, confident that the song was nearly over by then.
"Shall we go for the big finish?" he asked.
"What's that?" she asked.
"You jump in my arms on the final note."
She shook her head.
"Aw, c'mon. We can do it!"
She still shook her head, although she was laughing now.
"I promise not to drop you!" he said. "Jump up and swing your legs to your right!" Just then, the song ended and she did as he had asked. He reached down his left arm and caught her legs, and to her surprise, neither of them fell over!
There was a large round of applause and they gradually realized that they had drawn a small crowd of others on their side of the dance floor, who had been watching them as they danced. People patted them on the back and one white-haired couple came up to them and said, "We used to be able to 'cut a rug' like that when we were your age!"
Starsky took Maggie's hand. "Let's take a bow, partner," he said, and the two of them bowed to their audience. When the applause continued, he said, "Do it again, they love us!" and they did.
They slowly walked back to the table Maggie and Jenny had been sitting at as the bandleader intoned into the microphone, "And remember, ladies and gentlemen, there will be a Charleston contest later on this evening, so don't go away!"
Starsky looked at Maggie and smiled. "Whaddaya say, partner? Shall we win that contest later?"
"If I'm recovered by then!" she said, sitting down in her chair after Starsky had pulled it out for her.
Hutch and Jenny joined them at this point. Hutch set a cold glass of Coke down in front of Starsky. "Here, Starsk, I thought you could use this!"
"Thanks, buddy," he said, taking a long gulp.
Jenny handed Maggie a cold drink, as well. "It's diet," she said, knowing Maggie only drank diet sodas.
"That was some exhibition you two put on out there," Hutch said.
Starsky gestured to Maggie. "I owe it all to her. She's the greatest!" Maggie smiled in embarrassment, then her dance partner continued. "But when this girl tells you she doesn't know how to dance, don't believe a word that she says!" Again, Maggie smiled down in embarrassment.
"I only said I wasn't very good at slow dancing," she said.
"Yeah?" Starsky said, finally catching his breath. "Well, you were pretty good at that, too." He felt a slight change in her, as though, now that the dancing was over, she was shrinking back into the wall-flower she had appeared to be when he had first met her. He was determined not to let that happen. It had been a long time since he had met someone who could dance as well as she could--even if it was the Charleston. He wondered if she had any other 'hidden talents' that might be of interest to him. He also wondered if they might be able to teach each other a few other moves--off the dance floor--later.
"I owe it all to my dance partner," she smiled.
He considered leaning over and giving her a kiss, but there was something about her manner that told him to hold back. Perhaps, she was the sort who could express more in private, than in public?
The orchestra was beginning a new song, a nice slow number. Dave Starsky stood up, "Hey, partner? May I have this dance?"
Maggie looked over at Jenny and Hutch. Jenny nodded at her. Slowly, Maggie stood up and took her dancing partner's hand.
Before they went back out onto the dance floor, Starsky pointed his finger at Hutch and Jenny, "You two behave yourselves while we're gone!" Hutch and Jenny looked at one another and exchanged a secret smile. Starsky could tell that his partner was already beginning to score points with Jenny. Starsky hoped he would do as well with Maggie.
As they began slow dancing again, Maggie felt suddenly awkward. When they had been doing the Charleston, there was no time for small talk. They had been touching, but she had not felt intimidated by that sort of contact. Even jumping into his arms at the end of the Charleston number had been...well...fun! But now, he was looking at her with those gorgeous blue eyes, thinking God-knows-what, and she once more felt like running away.
"What's wrong, Maggie?" he asked. "Are you still winded after that last dance?"
She smiled and looked down. "I'm afraid, I'm just not...comfortable...with small talk."
"Ah!" he said. "Well, if you don't like small talk, perhaps we could talk about, I don't know, big stuff!"
She looked up to see that grin of his and couldn't help but smile.
"Like, the Empire State Building!" he said. "You know, I come from New York and when I was a kid, I loved going up to the top of the Empire State Building and looking down at the cars and the people below, trying to imagine I was King Kong climbing up the side of the building with Fay Wray in my hand, swatting at airplanes." His idea had worked, for she was now laughing.
"Do you like old movies?" she asked.
"Are you kiddin', schweetheart?" he asked, doing the worst Bogart impersonation she had ever heard. "I love old movies!"
"I do, too,' she said. "MGM musicals, Busby Berkley films, the Marx Brothers..."
"The Marx Brothers, eh?" he asked, wiggling his eyebrows and doing a somewhat better vocal impersonation of Groucho. "A woman after my own heart! Say that you'll be truly mine, or truly yours or yours truly!" Maggie laughed, recognizing one of Groucho's lines from The Cocoanuts. "Hey!" he said, returning to his normal voice, "Did you see that there's going to be a Marx Brothers double feature next Saturday at one of those old theatres downtown?"
Maggie nodded. "Yes, I saw it in the paper. Jenny and I both like the Marx Brothers and were thinking of going."
"Oh yeah?" David Starsky said. "I was tryin' to talk Hutch into going to it, too!" He was silent for a moment and Maggie knew what he was thinking. "What do you say we make it a foursome--you and me and Hutch and Jenny? We could go out for dinner beforehand, then go to the movies together?"
Maggie was not prepared for this. Everything was suddenly happening too quickly. She hadn't been on a double date with Jenny since high school. It had been a disaster, just like all the other dates that Jenny had set her up with. Jenny always told her that dating was "fun" and that it wasn't just a euphemism for sex, but Maggie found that hard to believe. The last guy Jenny had dated had been part octopus, at least according to Jenny. Another guy Jenny had dated recently had bought airline tickets for the two of them and made hotel reservations for their second "date."
As for herself, Maggie couldn't remember the last time she had dated someone. Beginning in college, most people had seemed to expect a sexual encounter as a required part of any date. But, for Maggie, a simple good night kiss was a major step. She remembered one guy she had dated in college. His name was Dennis. He had seemed sensible and sensitive, so she had decided to take a chance by telling him about having been a rape victim when she was young and how she did not want a sexual relationship until after she was married. The "sensitive" young man had laughed in her face, telling her she was a "dinosaur", and that she would never get married with that kind of an attitude. Dennis had been polite and had not tried anything, but he had also not called back. The older she got, the more Maggie had come to believe that Dennis was right and that she would end up one of those spinster librarians with a couple of dozen cats and a photo album full of "what-if's" and "might have been's."
She looked up into David Starsky's expectant face. He was so handsome and seemed like such a nice guy. They even seemed to have some things in common. But she could see it now. They would go on this double date--to dinner and the movies. At some point, Jenny and Hutch would be getting cozy and probably even go off somewhere by themselves and David would be expecting the two of them to do the same. She just couldn't do it. To him or to herself. She didn't want to lead him to believe that something could happen between them, the way it was probably going to be happening between Jenny and Hutch. She suddenly found it hard to breathe and the room seemed very hot.
"E-excuse me," she suddenly said. "I've got to...I've got to leave."
Maggie broke away and rushed past the table where Jenny and Hutch were seated. Jenny recognized the look on her friend's face. A very confused Dave Starsky came over to the table.
"What's wrong, Starsk?" Hutch asked.
"I don't know," he said. "She just suddenly said she had to leave."
"Is she not feeling well?" Hutch asked.
"I'll go check on her," Jenny said, rising to follow her friend. "Excuse me."
"What do you suppose happened?" Hutch asked his partner.
Starsky shrugged. "I dunno. One minute we were laughin' and talkin' about old movies and how much we both like them. I asked her if she wanted to go that Marx Brothers double feature next weekend--you know, the four of us?--and she just gets this really strange look on her face, like I'd just slapped her or something. I can't figure out what went wrong."
"Sit down, Starsk," his friend said, pulling out a chair. "I don't think it is anything you said or did wrong. Actually, Jenny and I had talked about the same thing--the four of us going out for dinner and a movie--and she had liked the idea. Maybe it was the Marx Brothers that upset her?"
"Nah," his friend said. "She said she really likes the Marx Brothers."
Hutch shook his head. "Maybe it just stirred up an unpleasant memory? Jenny told me that Maggie doesn't date very much,"
"Did she say why?"
"No." Hutch said simply.
"I don't know, buddy" Starsky said. "I thought things were going really well tonight."
"Me, too," said his partner.
Jenny went into the first ladies' room that she saw. "Maggie," she called out, "are you in here?"
From inside, Maggie's tearful voice called out, "Yes."
"Are you all right?" Jenny said, walking past the row of sinks.
"What's wrong?" Jenny looked in each of the three stalls, but each was empty. She walked around a corner to a lounge area with a couch and a chair. It was here where she found her friend, tissue in hand, crying.
"I'm sorry, Jen," Maggie said. "I just can't do it."
"Can't do what?" Jenny asked, sitting down beside her.
"Dave was talking about the four of us going out together--going to that Marx Brothers double feature next Saturday."
"That sounds great! Do they like the Marx Brothers, too?"
"Yes," Maggie said, "but don't you see? You and Ken are hitting it off just great."
"That's right. And you and Starsky seemed to be hitting it off just great."
"That's just what Hutch calls him--I guess it's a cop thing. They call each other by their last names," Jenny said. "So, we're all hitting it off. What's the problem?"
"Jenny, you know what the problem is! It's me! It's always me!"
"Maggie, " she said putting her arm around her friend's shoulder.
"You and Hutch are gonna go off into the sunset and Dav--Starsky--is going to wonder what's wrong when the same thing doesn't happen with us."
"What makes you think it isn't going to happen with you two?" Jenny asked.
Maggie gave her friend a withering look. "I can't do that, Jenny."
"Do what?" Jenny asked. By now, she was deliberately playing devil's advocate with Maggie.
"You know what!" Maggie said. "Going to bed--" Just then, they heard the door to the ladies' room open and Maggie lowered her voice to a whisper, "Going to bed with someone."
"Has anybody said anything about going to bed with someone?" Jenny whispered back.
"No, but I can tell that's what they expect. That's what is always expected."
"Maggie, the only thing we're discussing is going out to dinner and a movie together."
"Yeah, yeah. I know," Then Maggie started to mimic her friend's words from previous conversations. "'Oh, Maggie, just go out and have fun! It doesn't have to mean going to bed with someone!'"
"Well, it doesn't!" Jenny said.
"Yeah, right!" Maggie snorted in derision. "Why don't you tell that to 'Mr. Octopus' or one of your other recent dates?"
"All right," Jenny said. "But Hutch is not like that! And neither is Starsky!"
"How do you know, Jen? We've only just met them, for crying out loud!"
The two friends were silent for awhile. "Okay," Jenny said. "Then we'll just be up-front with them. We'll explain to them that you were raped--"
"No!" Maggie said. "I don't want their pity!"
"Maggie, they're cops! I bet they deal with rape victims all the time."
"I'll bet they've never dated one."
Jenny was silent again. "Look," she said after a long time. "I really, really like Hutch. And I can tell that he really, really likes me. This could be something special. I don't want to jeopardize it."
"Fine! Then you and Hutch go out to dinner and a movie. But forget about trying to double date. It's just not going to work."
"Maggie...please. Don't do this. At least give it a chance."
"Jenny, I can't. It's just too...too scary."
"Why? Because you find David Starsky attractive?"
Maggie hesitated for several moments before she answered. "Yes."
"They've been gone an awfully long time," Starsky said. "Should we go look for them? Make sure they're all right?"
"Wait a minute," Hutch said, nodding toward the entrance to the ballroom. "Here they come."
"Uh-oh. Looks like Maggie's been crying." God, I hate it when women cry! he thought. "What do you suppose happened, Hutch?"
"Take it easy, partner. Jenny's smiling, it can't be all that bad."
The two cops stood up as Jenny and Maggie joined them, then the four of them sat down. Their act of politeness was not lost on either of the women.
Starsky put his hand on Maggie's arm. "Are you okay?"
She raised her tear-stained face and looked at him. She nodded, then looked down.
"Hutch," Jenny said, placing her hand on his. "Starsky," Jenny said, nodding to him. "Maggie and I owe you both an apology, as well as an explanation." The two men exchanged glances before Jenny continued. "Maggie doesn't date much. I'm always trying to get her to go out and have fun and I kinda pressured her into coming here tonight--"
Maggie interrupted her friend, "No, Jenny, I wanted to come here tonight."
Jenny nodded. "Okay, we both wanted to come here tonight, but for different reasons. I was hoping to meet some handsome guy," she looked at Hutch and smiled. "Maggie just came along for the music."
Oh God, Starsky thought, Maggie is gay! No, that can't be right.
Maggie took it from here. "Jenny dates all the time. No, wait, that didn't come out right. Jenny likes dating. I don't like to date. And the reason I don't like to date...the reason is," she swallowed, "I was raped when I was twelve years old and, in spite of counseling and all, I just, I'm just not comfortable...in intimate situations." A tear was starting down her cheek again and she couldn't go on.
"So," Jenny took over again, "in spite of the fun Maggie was having tonight--"
"And I was having fun!" Maggie said, raising her eyes to look at Starsky.
"As much fun as Maggie was having tonight," Jenny continued, "when we all started talking about double dating, Maggie got scared because she was afraid that if Hutch and I were to start...making out," Jenny winked at Hutch in a flirty kind of way and he smiled at her, "that Starsky would be expecting the same thing to happen between himself and Maggie, and--"
Maggie sobbed out loud. It was obvious that she was terribly embarrassed.
Starsky edged his chair closer to hers. He wanted to put his arms around her, but he was afraid such a reaction might frighten her. Instead, he put his hand on hers, It was soft and warm. "Maggie, please don't feel bad. Please. And there's no need to apologize. I never meant to imply anything sexual about the four of us going out together--" You're a liar, David Starsky, he thought to himself, but an honorable liar!
"I know you didn't," she said. "It's just me. I over-reacted. I got scared. I was having so much fun tonight. I haven't had this much fun in a long time...dancing with you tonight. And you are so...so attractive..." Her voice trailed off to a whisper as she raised her eyes to face him. "You scare the hell out of me, David Starsky!"
Hutch and Jenny exchanged looks. Hutch covered their clasped hands with his other hand. "Would you care to dance?" he asked her quietly. She nodded and they got up and went to the dance floor.
The orchestra was playing As Time Goes By. Jenny leaned her head on Hutch's shoulder. He wasn't sure what to say to her. He thought of telling her about other situations where he and Starsky had double dated and, for whatever reason, the chemistry had only happened between one of the couples and not the other. Those were awkward situations, no doubt about it. He also thought of times when they had dealt with rape victims. He had often wondered how long it would take those women to put their lives back together. Listening to Maggie tonight, he wondered if any of them ever really got their lives back together again. Then he thought of the woman he held in his arms right now and how much she obviously cared about her friend. He also remembered the scenario that Jenny had foreseen about the two of them making out. That sounded nice. As if she were reading his mind, Jenny looked up at him and smiled. Then, soft as a whisper, he slowly bent his head down to hers and gave her a kiss. He didn't know how this story would end, but, as far as he was concerned, it was certainly off to a wonderful start.
Maggie and Starsky sat in silence together at the table for quite awhile. Maggie had stopped crying. Actually, she felt relieved that all of her proverbial cards were now on the table. She hoped she had not ruined the relationship that was blossoming between Jenny and Hutch. From the way they were cuddled up together on the dance floor, perhaps no harm had been done. But Starsky...
"Casablanca," he said at last. She raised her eyebrows, questioningly. "This song," he said, "it's from the movie, Casablanca."
Maggie hadn't even noticed what the orchestra was playing. "As Time Goes By," she nodded.
"Ya know, that's always been one of my favorite movies," Starsky said, "and not just because of Bogey. The whole story--the mystery, the intrigue, the romance. The fact that Bogey was willing to set aside his feelings and let Ingrid Bergman just ride off in that plane with Paul Henreid at the end of the movie, putting her happiness above his own. Wow! I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. And this song, well, whenever I hear it, it just brings it all back to me."
Maggie nodded. "It has always been one of my favorite movies, too. And one of my favorite songs."
David Starsky took her hands in his. "Maggie," he said. "I'm not sure what I expected tonight. I guess maybe I was hoping to meet somebody special, somebody I would want to see again after tonight."
Maggie's heart fell. "Instead, you met me."
He squeezed her hands. "Yeah, I met you. And you know what, I'm glad I met you here tonight! Ya know why? Because, it's been a long time since I've met someone I could have this much fun with. Someone who can do the Charleston and who likes old movies. Someone who is as lovely as she is intelligent. Someone I can talk to--really talk to. Someone like you."
She was shaking her head. Suddenly, she wanted to run back to the ladies' room. "Please, David, I don't want your pity."
"Pity?" he asked. "Pity?" he asked again, his voice rising. "Who said anything about pity?"
Oh God, now I have insulted him, she thought, made him angry.
"Maggie," he said, his voice soft again, "I'm feeling a lot of things right now, but I assure you that pity is not one of them. I mean, I'm angry that your innocence was taken away from you in such a violent way when you were so young. And I am amazed at the guts it took for you to come back out here and tell Hutch and me what happened. And yeah, I am attracted to you and I would like to ask you out and I hope that someday, we can do that--go out together, like...boyfriend and girlfriend. But, for now, ya know what? I would love it if we could just work on bein' friends. I'd like to get to know you. To let you get to know me. Ya know what else? I think the four of us ought to go to that Marx Brothers double feature, just like we were talkin' about. And if Hutch and Jenny wanna go out afterwards and do something romantic, that's fine. You and me, we can do something else."
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Hey, would Fred Astaire ever lie to Ginger Rogers?"
She smiled. "I don't know. I guess not."
"All right," he said with a smile. "Now, why don't you and I hit the refreshment table because I think we're gonna need to keep our strength up if we wanna win the Charleston contest later!" As they got up from the table, Starsky linked his arm through hers. "Ya know," he said, paraphrasing the final line of the movie, Casablanca, "I think tonight could be the start of a beautiful friendship."