"You can't take all this!"
Hutch halted just inside the door, glaring down at the carton, which had
nearly tripped him. He kicked its bulging side, and turned to glare across
the room to where his partner knelt before another vast and overflowing
Starsky answered without looking around. "There's no law. And where
I go, that goes. Whatever it is."
"So the first thing you get to do is extend the place to take all
this junk!" Hutch sank down on the floorboards, leaning back against
the wall and closing his eyes on the empty room. The opening pop of his beer
can drew Starsky to his side as if by magnetic force and he felt the can
detached from his grasp.
"Good idea at any time," Starsky commented around the first
Resignedly, Hutch took possession of the last can from the depleted
six-pack. The beer was welcome after the concentrated toil of the past
couple of hours. The apartment was cleared now, furniture moved already into
the new place, and they had spent a last night here, followed by a final,
early onslaught of packing up.
Idly, Hutch reached out for a handful of assorted papers from the nearest
container...programs, picture-cards, fancy brochures from car sales people,
clippings, all representing the fleeting or enduring interests of years.
Starsky eyed the papers in some surprise. "I'll sort it later,"
he forestalled defensively. "Maybe there'll be some I won't need."
He lifted a program book from the top of the pile while Hutch seized a
second handful. "Lucky dip, huh?"
Starsky was turning over the pages of a baseball program from several
years back, exclaiming over half-forgotten prowess and personalities.
Becoming aware of Hutch's silence, he leaned across to see what was
absorbing his partner's attention.
Hutch regarded him appraisingly. "Haven't changed, have you?"
"What -- ?"
"Just the same still." Hutch assumed a precise, official tone
as he read aloud: "David likes to ask questions and does not lack
original ideas." He gazed broodingly at Starsky.
"Your report card, looks like. Was with all the stuff your mom sent.
Look -- they took your picture too."
The group photo showed a score of seven-year-olds in a half-circle around
their teacher. Hutch pointed to a spot on the front row where bright eyes
looked back directly at the camera, while their owner maintained a firm
grasp on a long-haired guinea-pig.
Hutch returned to the card. "David shows a lively interest in most
recreational activities," he announced. "Told you...you just don't
change. 'His plasticene work is improving, and we have noted signs of a
developing sense of community responsibility, he has proved a most reliable
"See the button?" Starsky indicated the fading photograph.
Hutch finished the reading: "One is always aware that he is a member
of the group." He turned back to the subject of these eulogies who was
listening with an attentive, complacent expression.
"I'll bet," Hutch murmured. "Means they had to watch you
all the time -- right?"
"She liked me," Starsky stated confidently. "Told my mom I
made full use of my opportunities."
Hutch raised an eyebrow. "Like I said...still the same."
Starsky grinned at him. "So -- would you have it any other way?
What's that one?" He reached for the scarlet cover.
"Colorful," Hutch observed, not relinquishing it. He opened it
up. "Well, wouldn't you know?"
Starsky tugged at it unavailingly. "Keep telling you -- reading my
mail, reading my notices...." A dark head pushed its way beneath
Hutch's arm and he stretched his neck in an attempt to see over and above
the curls that were tickling his chin.
"Hey -- look at that!" Starsky invited with pride.
"'Pirates of Penzance' -- cast list. People paid to see me, hear me
Hutch took in the names on the list. "'Pirate King' -- David
Starsky. Typecasting, huh?" He turned back to the attached review
clippings. 'An energetic performance, characterized by drive and
"I was good," Starsky stated simply. "Never understood why
my mother said I wouldn't make it in the theater."
"It's chancy. Probably wanted to see you in steady work -- and
there's a whole lot more of that waiting for you right now." Hutch
gestured towards the extensive archive of Starsky's past life, which, at
that moment, was the main feature of the living room, and began to collect
their empty beer cans. "Sorting...packing up..." he reminded with
return to determined purpose. "Horizontal doesn't help." He put an
arm around his partner who had subsided into somnolence upon the
floorboards, pulled him up so that they sat side by side, surveying the
littered room. "Should get ahead with these chores. You nearly
"Sure. Feel stronger now to finish up. All I ever need is a little
encouragement. Then I can go on. Didn't you notice what a little
encouragement can do for me?" Starsky scrambled to his feet, clutching
another handful of papers, and made for the largest of his hoards.
"Guess you're right. I'll just throw out some of this stuff."
Again he riffled through the assortment in his hands as Hutch reached out to
capture the ones on top.
"Just a minute. Wouldn't hurt to keep those." With an
appearance of detached, academic interest, he studied once more the report
card and the program notes, while Starsky watched him with a quizzical
"Okay," he agreed, "but we needn't hang onto a lot of
this." He allowed a dozen ancient, receipted bills, witness to the
Torino's constant welfare, to drop to the floor.
"Five years old," Hutch commented incredulously, watching their
progress. "It's like geological strata."
Starsky's hands were suddenly still as he came upon the crumpled card in
the middle of the pile. Hutch came to look over his shoulder, curious in
spite of himself. "So -- what's that particular fossil?" He
stopped, recognizing his own rapid scrawl.
Starsky obligingly held the card so that they could share the reading.
His glance met Hutch's above the luridly colorful representation of
champagne bottles, tropical fruit, tropical flowers, tropical dancing girls,
and the scribbled message: "Get well soon... Love...Hutch."
"There ya go," Hutch shrugged off Starsky's plaintive,
reproachful look. "Got your watch. Got you a card."
"Yeah. After. Tryin' to make up for what you did." Starsky
shook his head sadly. "Now
admit it -- was that any way to treat an invalid?"
Deciding that counter-attack could pay off best, Hutch ignored the
pathos. "There's something I've been meaning to bring up," he went
on. "Real sneaky the way you hung on to that red sweater like that --
"Too late now," Starsky dismissed the subject. "No point
in dwelling on your old grievances." He twitched the card out of
Hutch's hand, pushed the greeting into a pocket and aimed the rest of the
papers in the general direction of the trash.
A half-hour later, after a final check for things forgotten or overlooked
in corners or closets, they paused at the door. A rented living space. They
were taking away with them the memories it held. The place had seen
violence, despair, the deadness of hopeless days...and had seen too renewing
hope, confidence restored and a liberating love.
This place would never lose for either of them its special meaning. Every
part of it was full of reminders...like the kitchen recalling those ritual
wrangles in the on-going rivalry between healthy eating and a more
adventurous style...living-room and the hours spent there, talking, not
talking, arguing, quarrelling, laughing, living...watching the TV set
through sleepless nights...bathroom with the hurried scramble of so many
mornings, the sweet start propitiating the unknown day...the space where the
elegant sailing-ship had stood...kitchen floor recalling one particular game
of midnight monopoly....
They had crossed so many thresholds together, and now this old threshold
into a new future. Starsky met the smile that reflected his own, softly
closed the door and followed his partner down to the car.
'We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed.
As in filling a vessel, drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it
run over, so, in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the
heart run over.' Samuel Johnson 1709 -- 1784