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    Gripping the bat tightly, Ken Hutchinson stood practising his swing as he watched the pitcher step up to the mound. He could feel the tension in the air. As last man in, it was down to him to hit that desperately needed home run to win his team the game. He shifted uneasily. Why did he let himself get talked into this? Well, okay, he knew why – to placate an over enthusiastic partner who’d been pestering him for weeks to take part in this the annual charity baseball game. But he also knew that it wasn’t just for the sake of peace and quiet that he’d given in – the last year had been hard. He’d felt completely washed out and totally disillusioned with his life on the force. And he knew that he’d taken it out on his partner. The practical jokes that were not funny continued to be played, as if they were a vent for all of his anger and frustration. And David Starsky had just stood there and taken it. The breaking point had been a woman named Kira and an act of betrayal which Hutch realised could have cost him the most important person in his life. He would never forget the look in Starsky’s eyes that day in Kira’s house. It cut through him like a knife and he’d decided there and then that, if forgiven, he would make it up to his partner. One month later this baseball game, traditionally held at the beginning of summer, had provided an ideal opportunity to start doing just that.

    As the ball flew toward him he swung his bat with grim determination. CRACK. The contact was good and the ball flew away into the field. He dropped the bat and ran, cheered on by the crowd. From the corner of his eye, as he passed second base, he saw a fielder pick up the ball and knew he would have to pull out all the stops to make it home. The cheers from the crowd increased as he made it past third, but the ball was in the air, fast approaching the eagerly awaiting hands of the guard on that home plate. In an act of sheer desperation Hutch leapt forward and, with fingers outstretched, slid along the ground on his stomach. The noise from the crowd told him it hadn’t been enough. Covered in dust he looked up at the man who, with an impressive one handed manoeuvre, had just caught him out.

    Starsky looked down at his partner. "You’re out," he grinned, echoing the cry of the Umpire. Pulling Hutch to his feet, Starsky draped a consoling arm around his shoulder. "Come on Babe Ruth," he said. "Let’s go get a beer and a Chilli Dog.... I’m starved.


    Waiting in line to collect his food, Starsky stood grinning like a Cheshire cat as he admired his winner’s medallion.

    Hutch smiled to himself. It was good to see his partner looking so happy.

    "Hey Hutch," Starsky chided, "wot’s it feel like being associated with a real life sporting hero?"

    "I’ll let you know when I meet one," Hutch retorted, smiling at Minnie Kapland as she joined the line behind her two favorite detectives.

    "Starsky, honey," she cooed, "that was one hell o’va catch. You been hanging out with the Dodgers or somethin’?"

    Starsky, enjoying the compliment, looked smugly at Hutch, who groaned inwardly. I’m never gonna hear the end of this, he thought.

    "Oh, come on, Minnie," Hutch responded, "Starsk just got lucky."

    "No way, Hutch!" The feeling of indignation was reflected in his voice. "You gotta admit it took skill to grab the ball outta the air like that."

    "Skill my...."

    "Ignore him, Minnie," Starsky interjected, "he’s just jealous cos he knows I’m the better sportsman."

    "Care to put your money where your mouth is?" Starsky goaded, enjoying the banter between them; just like the old days he thought.

    Hutch smiled at his partner. "What did you have in mind?" he challenged.

    " ‘bout that game we’ve been planning for weeks? Things have been real quiet in the office since they started the painting. Let’s meet early Monday morning – do it before we have to hit the streets."

    Hutch nodded his acceptance. "Okay, buddy, you’re on."

    "Terrific.... By the way, what do I win when I beat ya?" Starsky questioned and winked at Minnie.

    "How about the loser buys dinner?" Hutch suggested "Winner gets to choose where." He was confident that he would beat his partner; he’d always been good at Table Tennis.

    As they walked away from the Bar-b-que, Hutch was happier than he’d been in a long time. He’d made a silent promise to Starsky that this year would be different and, during the summer months that lay ahead, he had a strong feeling that it would be.