Comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author.
THE BOYS OF SUMMER
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 whod been pestering him for weeks to take part in this the annual charity baseball game. But he also knew that it wasnt just for the sake of peace and quiet that hed given in the last year had been hard. Hed felt completely washed out and totally disillusioned with his life on the force. And he knew that hed 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 Starskys eyes that day in Kiras house. It cut through him like a knife and hed 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 hadnt 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. "Youre 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. "Lets go get a beer and a Chilli Dog.... Im starved.
Waiting in line to collect his food, Starsky stood grinning like a Cheshire cat as he admired his winners medallion.
Hutch smiled to himself. It was good to see his partner looking so happy.
"Hey Hutch," Starsky chided, "wots it feel like being associated with a real life sporting hero?"
"Ill 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 ova catch. You been hanging out with the Dodgers or somethin?"
Starsky, enjoying the compliment, looked smugly at Hutch, who groaned inwardly. Im 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."
"Ignore him, Minnie," Starsky interjected, "hes just jealous cos he knows Im 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.
"Well...how bout that game weve been planning for weeks? Things have been real quiet in the office since they started the painting. Lets meet early Monday morning do it before we have to hit the streets."
Hutch nodded his acceptance. "Okay, buddy, youre 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; hed always been good at Table Tennis.
As they walked away from the Bar-b-que, Hutch was happier than hed been in a long time. Hed 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.