'There's no vocabulary
for love that's lived in but not looked at;
the love within the light of which all else is seen;
the love within which all other love finds speech....'
T.S. Eliot -- The Elder Statesman
"Come on. We've got work to do."
But despite the urgency of his tone, Starsky made no move toward the door
as Hutch stepped back to look down again at the woman whose lifeless body
lay there at their feet. Hutch shook his head in quick protest. "We
can't just leave her -- like this...." He reached for the telephone and
found his wrist encircled, gently, by his partner's fingers.
"I already called this in a minute before you got here,"
Starsky told him. "They're on the way. Didn't you hear the siren? Gonna
be here in no time."
There would be no problem, Starsky reflected, in identifying a
perpetrator. Maybe Grossman didn't do this murder himself, but he had
removed doubts by his own call. Must be even dumber than he seemed. Dumb and
dangerous. It had been clear on the previous morning that it was likely to
be Olga who was the brains of that outfit.
He looked searchingly at Hutch, now seated on the sofa back, head bowed,
his gaze fixed still on Gillian. "You want to stay here?" he
suggested. "I could..."
"No!" Hutch seemed startled back into life and movement.
"This is for both of us. You think I can forget what happened this
morning? You're not going in there alone," he finished.
The crime lab team would be checking for confirming clues. Scanning the
room, Starsky took in the signs of a planned departure -- suitcase packed, a
coat draped across it. And there, on the coffee table beside it, a familiar
envelope, its superscription compelling his attention. His own name.
Steps, though muffled by the thick hallway carpeting, were clearly
audible beyond the door, which Hutch had left open, and they both turned
toward the sound. With a sense of guilt, Starsky snatched up the envelope,
sliding it as far as it would go into a pocket.
Hutch watched him, frowning, puzzled. "What...? You know you can't
"I know. Trust me." Starsky was conscious as he spoke of a
potentially hollow quality in what he'd just said. "Later, huh?"
There was no chance for further exchanges and Hutch seemed to accept the
assurance as the lab team joined them and identities were established.
"Going to need a coroner's wagon here," one of them began after a
brief, preliminary survey.
Starsky glanced across at his partner who was standing at the window now,
back to the room. "That's okay," he said quickly. "I already
took care of that when I told them to get you here."
Hutch turned then and Starsky caught his look across the few yards, which
separated them. No way was he going to have his partner in this room while
the next stages of the investigation took their routine course.
To this point, Hutch had stayed where he was, but now he headed for the
door. "Let's go."
"Catch you later," Starsky told the newcomers. "No time
now. We know who did this and we know where to look for them." He
paused, waiting as Hutch cast a last look back at the room, and then
followed him along to the elevator and down to the street where the Torino
And then the fast ride through the night-dark streets to the Royal
Theatre rendezvous, with its reminders of a morning's events in the alley at
the rear of the building. But there was no time now to think about that
time. This would be a different kind of shoot-out; they knew the target and
the target wasn't running.
Grossman's shouted invitation to view the movie echoed in the darkness
as, by separate routes, they made their cautious way inside. It was
difficult at first to concentrate on anything beyond what the screen was
showing. "You liar!"
Hutch's furious accusation had been hurled no more than a half-hour back.
But here, before their eyes, was the confirming, rebutting truth, bringing
no satisfaction at all to the man whose initiative had brought them to this
As the movie came to its abrupt stop and as, eventually, all three --
Grossman, Evans, and Turner -- were accounted for, Starsky's thoughts were
still following the same track. Afterwards, in the short interval while they
waited for their back-up call to bring response, the silence had grown and
settled between them. The words for this moment didn't exist and neither had
found more to say then.
"Want a lift?" Starsky offered later when Grossman and his
goons had been removed from the scene.
Hutch seemed to return to their place and time. "What?"
"Pick up your car?"
Back outside the opulent apartment block, Starsky halted the Torino and
together they walked the few yards to the LTD, parked just ahead. He
intercepted Hutch's thoughts. "No need to go back in there. They'll
have done everything that's...necessary."
Hutch brought his gaze away from the high window and looked back at him,
expressionless. "Yes." He stopped. "Now we'll have a report
"It's late. It can wait."
A beat and then, "See you. Tomorrow. Right?"
"Right." Starsky knew that, for both of them, the effort of
finding words presented too big a challenge at this time. Hutch nodded and
got into his car. Starsky stood watching him as he drove away.
A couple of hours later, Starsky punched out the familiar number. There
was no long wait as he'd half-expected, half-feared, before he heard Hutch's
answering "Hello?" and remembered suddenly, vividly, the last time
he'd called Venice Place. Was that only last night? Then he'd listened in
despairing disbelief to the note of happy, exuberant anticipation in his
partner's voice, a bitter contrast to the dead tone he heard now. He
searched for something to say.
"Okay?" Then, "I know, I know. Dumb question." Hutch
didn't answer that one and Starsky went on. "I called in. Dobey knows
about...about the theatre shoot-out."
"Right." There was silence until Hutch said, "Been a long
day, huh? So...see you...in the morning."
long way down" seemed to echo between them, and Starsky recalled how that Vegas case
had carried some of this same numbed weariness. "Tomorrow," he
confirmed as the line went dead.
He replaced the receiver. It was going to be a long night, with no
prospect of satisfying his urgent need to talk or the need to be with Hutch.
Too many obstacles there, first among them the conviction that his partner's
need was for time alone. The thought of Hutch's feelings dominated every
other consideration right now and the contact of mere seconds of telephone
talk had brought only minimal comfort. Events had moved too fast, turning
life upside down. Only a couple of evenings back there had been the first
meeting with Gillian Ingram and it had been a good time. Why should Hutch
have thrown that accusation at him? "You never did like her!" But I hardly knew her. Did the questions begin to show so much, so
early? "He talks about you all the time," Gillian had said.
And what did she, in her turn, think of that? Vividly, her last words came
back to him. Gillian was smart as well as beautiful to see so much, so
deeply, so soon. And honest in acknowledging the significance of what she
"Ken's friend," he'd announced himself. Ken? He never used the
name. Why Ken. Because 'Hutch' belonged to another, a different
relationship, whose existence Gillian had not failed to notice but in which
she did not share? His thoughts were busy, squirreling around in an
Tired emotionally and physically, he began the end-of-day preparations,
the shower bringing no kind of relaxation. Bed? But with the realization
that sleep could never be compatible with this brand of tiredness, he made
coffee and returned to the sofa. Too much had happened too fast, too much to
absorb or make sense of, all within the span of mere hours. If only...if
only there had never been that happy evening at the bowling alley when
Gillian had joined them, if there had not been that chance of treatment for
stiffening shoulder muscles and if he hadn't stayed behind at the Venus
Massage place and thus recognized the woman he'd met only hours earlier....
A chain of "if"s.
He'd gone through the rest of yesterday in his own kind of daze, which he
imagined Hutch must have noticed had his mind not been focused elsewhere. And
we don't work that way.... He should have known something was wrong. So
he'd done nothing then, simply carried the crushing knowledge around with
him for the rest of the day, working beside a partner strangely unaware of
Disbelief had come first: this could not be. But the picture of what he
had seen in that sleazy place was imprinted, unforgettably, on his memory,
returning unbidden and unsought to flash its image as if on a screen. Yet he
had done nothing, said nothing, clutching at possible explanations,
rejecting them all, trying to talk to Hutch and failing at every attempt to
find the words.
Back home yesterday evening, he'd stared at the open newspaper, trying to
read but registering nothing of the print he held. Call Hutch...? And
then...? How could he talk to his partner about what he had seen that
morning? Maybe the evening hours would offer a better opportunity? But when
the time came, there was a kind of relief in Hutch's obvious eagerness to
cut conversation short, and again Starsky could find no words for the
thoughts that had dominated his day. Hutch in a hurry meant a kind of
The call to Huggy brought some slight lessening of tension with the
knowledge that he was doing something -- following standard procedure,
checking out people at the scene. Huggy Bear knew the neighborhood, might
come up with some rational explanation. Starsky couldn't really believe in
that possibility. But whatever, Huggy would know, would find some answers.
Answers.... Any answers, he was sure, were going to bring more questions,
crystallizing fears, confirming the evidence of what he'd seen that morning.
Should have talked to Hutch that same
day. Then, maybe, there wouldn't have been that panic impulse to confront
her when Huggy called, and there didn't seem to be the time.... Excuses?
Should have talked to him then.... Why didn't I? Because it all felt like
alien territory, the kind we'd never known before...no maps...like what had
just happened in the alley...never anything like that in all the years....
And I didn't tell him anything about the call or about...her...and he didn't
ask, never seemed to notice anything.... So I just didn't talk, acted alone.
Not the way we work. A dumb idea to save a partner, and maybe risk a
The inescapable fact was that he'd tried to buy her off, an attempt he
had no right to make. 'You never did like her' echoed again in memory. Not
true: on that point, at least, his conscience was clear. He had liked
her. Hadn't he been glad that Hutch had liked her....
But Huggy's call put everything in a different perspective. This morning,
faced with those facts, the need to act, to protect his partner, had
precluded deliberation. Hutch had accepted his facile lie without a second's
hesitation. Weird...and he always says
I'm not a good liar...must have grown a special talent this morning.
He'd fled the squadroom to make the dash for dollars and then to talk to
her. The hurried activity felt furtive, combined with the nagging
undercurrent of suspicion that maybe this was all wrong, that he could be
putting certain important things at risk. It was strange, he thought now,
that talking to Gillian should come more easily than talking to Hutch. Or
not strange? Because the fear of hurting was so much less....
'He's got to know,' he had insisted. The financial inducement was a mere
frill compared to that essential message that he must get across. He knew he
had made the message one hundred percent clear. And precipitated what
followed? The responsibility had to be faced.
'No choice?' she had asked.
Choice? She wanted choice? What answer did she expect?
There had been only one choice.... 'Or I'll tell him in the morning.' He
knew by heart the lines of their conversation.
But the telling hadn't waited so long. Hutch knew now, though not the
whole story. That was something which still waited. And Starsky would be
awake, tonight, with that knowledge.
The urge to pick up the telephone again was strong and Starsky had to
fight it. The need to comfort was insistent but some wisdom said that Hutch
would prefer solitude in this long night. He must respect that: he could
help more by staying away. A bitter truth. He remembered times when his
partner had been there for him -- too many times for the counting. Like when
Helen had died or when he'd ignored the rulebook in order to provide
sanctuary for Sharman Crane. The memories crowded in and sleep stayed far
But it was Gillian Ingram who stayed in his mind as the other question
returned -- the one for which he could find no answer. Why had she been in
that place that morning? From Hutch's happy references and from what he
himself had observed, their relationship was serious. So -- why? How could
she have kept that date at Venus Massage if Hutch was truly important in her
life? It didn't fit. 'Pretty name,' Huggy had said. How pretty was the
reality? It was a question he couldn't stifle.
The mixed emotions had been churning as he braked outside the classy
apartment building. He'd never been inside, though he knew the address. How
does she afford a place like this? Does Hutch wonder about that? But why
should he? Would I have had any of these questions if I hadn't seen her at
the Grossman place? Maybe Hutch hasn't spent time here either. Maybe they've
been at his place any place but here? Gillian seemed surrounded, hemmed
in by questions.
He'd gone to bed last night and awakened this morning with the same
thought pushing out all other considerations: He's got to know. And its corollary: Don't make me be the one who has to tell him. Gillian was as
elegant, smart, beautiful, in her own style, as Vanessa. Was that old misery
to be replayed? Paradoxically, it was Gillian's last words as he'd left her
which brought some solace now, a comfort to cling to in the bleak hours
stretching ahead until morning, words which understood his own motives,
putting them in true perspective, voicing the central truth: 'You love him,
The sunny streets felt colorless as Starsky drove to work the next
morning. Getting through this day was going to be like climbing a very high,
very steep cliff. A tentative phone call had raised no reply and, early as
it was, he found Hutch already at their desk. The mug before him, half full
of cold coffee, looked as if it had been standing there for a long time. One
sure way of not being late for work.... All-night thoughts to keep you
Starsky dropped into his accustomed place, leaned back in his chair and
looked across the desk. "Good morning."
Hutch lifted his head to return the steady gaze. "Yeah." He
pushed a thin file in Starsky's direction. "This one's top of today's
Starsky read the subject's identity, which headed the case report.
Today's priority...that pretty name again..."Juliot left this?"
"He's signed it. How'd you know that?"
"He was working on it last night when I was here," Starsky
said, reading through the brief, factual account in which their colleague
had recorded his part in the previous evening's investigation.
Hutch was watching intently as he looked up from the reading. A second
sheet was pushed toward him. "Here's what I saw." And, not giving
Starsky time to read the few lines, "Guess you'll have more that
you can add to that. Coroner's report will be here later. It's a
straightforward case...uh...injury. Means they can go right ahead with...the
rest. No hold-ups there."
His manner was contained, business-like, somehow insulated from emotion,
but Starsky had no need to guess. 'Hutchinson-the-efficient-cop' was clearly
the mode of choice. But he knew the shock and grief masked by outward
appearances. He pushed the papers aside.
"I'll do it. Soon. But right now, can you -- we -- talk?" He
paused, waited. "Please...."
Hutch seemed to share the need to be elsewhere. "Why not?"
Again his look met Starsky's. "Maybe find some coffee worth
drinking," he added over his shoulder as he led the way out of the
Without discussion they gravitated to the parking lot and Starsky
unlocked the car. As so often, the Torino offered a refuge and, at this
early hour, the duty rotas gave a precious reprieve of time before they
needed to log in. He drove away from the precinct building, heading for
their favorite nearby coffee place.
But once there neither made a move to leave the car. The pressures felt
heavy, the time felt short, for all the things that clamored to be said...so
many questions needing resolution, too many to fit neatly into this mere
hiatus, this brief respite from the public patterns of the day ahead. Both
of them were trying, desperately, to absorb in their different ways the
shocks which had shaken the past twenty-four hours and all the after-shocks
which would not subside.
It was less than twenty-four hours since a routine call and a routine
pursuit in a deserted alley had thrown a new, bewildering factor into this
partnership they had. 'I didn't work the way we work,' Hutch had said then.
And did I? Starsky asked himself now. Scared
both of us for different reasons. Things taken for granted until now had
suddenly become elusive, their substance threatening to dissolve into
Hutch's voice broke in on the somber musings. "Do you want to talk?
We still have work to do."
"I know." Starsky knew, too, that it was not only the
completion of case reports that his partner had in mind. Rather, it was
their partnership, which maybe presented the toughest challenge it had yet
faced. He knew this must be something they both recognized. There was a lot
of work waiting to be done there if something they both valued was going to
make it through to the other side of all the questions as yet on hold.
"I know," he said again. "And we don't have the time right
now. And this isn't the place."
"Back to work, huh?" Hutch had been staring out of the open
window but now he turned to Starsky. "Funeral's probably going to be
soon.... They're fixing a time."
A beat and he went on. "You coming?"
Starsky was aware of one more emotion added to the turmoil of feeling.
Here was one more pain to be lived through and yet Hutch's assumption that
he should be involved was a thread of solace running through all the rest.
"Yes," he said quietly. "I'll be there."
Hutch echoed his sigh and then lifted Starsky's wrist, checking the time.
"So.... Paperwork's waiting. But now, since we're here, how about
that good coffee...partner?"
Almost, then, there was a smile between them.
Starsky slid the key from the ignition and opened the car door. "I
could handle that."
Together they headed for the uncomplicated comfort of the coffee counter.
"Let's get today done," Hutch said. "Then,
Starsky nodded. "Later. But first.... Did you eat breakfast?"
"Well, not really. Not yet. So...."
Starsky put a sustaining arm around his partner's shoulders, propelling
him through the restaurant door into the warmth and the simple consolations
of the breakfast bar.
The phone call came through minutes before Hutch was about to go home.
Starsky took the call, and listened for a couple of moments before passing
over the receiver.
"You want to take this? They're saying you asked to be told."
Hutch listened, and learned that there were now no circumstances of a
kind which might delay funeral arrangements. Those involved had been
consulted, and matters could go ahead...day after tomorrow. With time and
place fixed, there was only the optional attendance to affect them on this
level, just one more stage to be lived through in a nightmare sequence.
Apart from the morning's interlude, it had been a strangely silent day.
There had been so many times over the years when talk had been superfluous,
but this was different, each of them locked within his own thoughts. Now,
Hutch got to his feet and prepared to leave.
Starsky, watching him, asked, "Pick you up tomorrow?"
"Sure." On his way out Hutch made a detour which took him past
his partner's chair so that his hand, in passing, gripped Starsky's shoulder
and rested there for a long moment. Communication could work without the
Hutch was tired. Grief and confusion of the kind that blanked out
sequential thought had dominated the previous sleepless night. He was
trying, still, to absorb the fact that so much of his dream of Gillian had
been grounded in illusion. Not all, maybe. 'I love you, really love you,'
she had said. He wanted to cling to the thought that the words had been
sincere. Yet the doubts persisted and wanting to believe otherwise could not
silence their nagging. If she had truly meant those words, then how could
she continue with that double life? How could she, within hours of saying
that to him, keep the appointment which the Grossmans had set up for her? He
could not forget that while he and Starsky had been checking on Al and Olga,
Gillian, too, had been there in another part of the same building, on her
own different business. Impossible to dismiss that fact: it had haunted him
since he learned of it.
Back home, he faced the prospect of the empty evening. With the mail
checked and the plants watered, he picked up a can of beer and sank down on
the sofa. He supposed he might make dinner...later. The events of the past
twenty-four hours seemed to cancel interest in everything else. Gillian
Ingram.... How much did he really know about her? So much, he had thought
only days ago, but now...? True she had talked about herself, answering his
natural interest in things which concerned her. But.... Just answering my questions, he
remembered, rather than
A writer, she had told him, and, confronted by Starsky's shattering
revelation, he'd seized on that scrap of information. Maybe it was the
truth. Writing.... And more. How much else had she withheld, leaving his
partner to do the telling? And he could guess at the kind of courage that
had been involved on Starsky's part.
His confusion grew. If she had been a writer, why the need to stay with
the Grossman outfit? This was no inexperienced teenager with no prospects
and nowhere to run. With the talents she had claimed, she surely had freedom
to choose and had chosen to work for A1 and Olga Grossman. Why? It paid
well? She liked the life? Have-it-all time? Starsky's words, voicing the
kinder interpretation, returned to him: 'She was going to give it all up --
just for you.' So why didn't she? If that was true, why had she kept that
And if, that morning, there had been no witness to precipitate the
questions.... What then? How long would she have gone on with the
play-acting, the duplicity? He knew the words were harsh. And accurate. Yet,
he reminded himself, they were not the whole truth.... Was that anything he
would ever know? The work which he did daily had shown him enough of the
complexities which so often underpinned human action and motivation to make
him mistrust the too-rapid conclusion. He could not judge her too harshly.
Should he, indeed, judge her at all?
The questions refused to be hushed. Should he have been attuned to any
warnings? Twenty-twenty hindsight gave bitter meaning to Gillian's image of
bursting balloons. And Starsky had made that unexpected call and had never
given any reason for it -- or any message. Trying to tell me something? He
did call me and I didn't wait to listen to anything. Almost didn't pick up
the phone.... Or should I have wondered why she never really let us spend
time at her place?
The shock of finding Gillian lying there was something which no lapse of
time was going to ease. He knew that Starsky understood his initial reaction
to what he saw and, in turn, he could understand Starsky's desperate wish to
find some way out which would cause his friend the least hurt. No one could
claim that the method had worked but Hutch had no doubts about the caring
motive. Only, Starsk, there was no way
out of that...no possible cover up.
Always, his thoughts returned to Starsky -- his center. To the
recognition that the only real loss would be the loss of this partnership.
The word covered life and living. One question eluded easy answers: he was
trying, still, to confront the meaning of what had happened to him during
that alley shoot-out. It had been a devastating experience, throwing a sharp
spotlight on priorities, on all that the partnership with Starsky
represented in his life. And then had come the fear, the sense that all
those things could change, were somehow threatened. In those mere moments he
hadn't tried to analyze his reaction, and analysis wasn't really necessary.
The sense of irretrievable loss was overwhelming in those frozen seconds.
These were going to be days which they had no choice but to live through.
And they would have to find a time to talk. But he knew his answers there.
'What ifs?' didn't feature where Starsky was concerned. Me and Thee was long
established as the bottom line.
His last thought that night, before sleep finally overtook him, was
thankfulness that Starsky was going to be with him through the inevitable
"Coming my way?" Hutch inquired as they left the chapel in the
late afternoon. The question was serious, Starsky knew -- no lightly uttered
social gesture. He hesitated.
The half-hour had delivered its own brand of stress and he was aware of
the toll claimed by the sleepless hours of the past nights. We
need to talk but I'm not ready for it...the words are going to come out
wrong...I'll forget something...
"Now?" he asked.
Hutch nodded, waiting beside the LTD, ready to drive off.
Starsky told himself. I'm not going to
forget the points that matter...one point particularly.
Postponement time had run out. The longer they found reasons to duck out
of time spent together, time to talk, the heavier the strain would grow. He's
"Your place?" he confirmed. "Okay. Go ahead, I'll follow
Conscious of mounting constraint with every turn of the Torino's wheels
taking him to Venice, he parked the car, and stayed for a couple of minutes
immobile where he sat. He couldn't recall any time to compare with this in
all the years they'd known each other. Over those years they'd talked about
a thousand things -- agreeing, disagreeing, disparaging, encouraging,
confiding, offering gratuitous advice or criticism, seeking comfort and
support -- but always with the same quality of spontaneity and directness.
Now, it was as if Gillian's death was acting as some sort of catalyst,
bringing them up against a new frontier, which would have to be crossed
whatever the outcome. The priority had to be honesty. Honesty had hurt his
partner but its absence had to hurt more.
At the top of the stairs Starsky opened the unlocked door of the
apartment and found Hutch setting out beer and an assortment of sandwich
"Do-it-yourself time," he announced. He pressed a plate into
Starsky's hand. "Just don't eat more than you can lift."
Putting together a sandwich dinner offered a kind of distraction, as did
the television news and sports bulletin. Outwardly everything was like
unnumbered previous occasions. Finally, setting down his plate, sandwich
half-eaten, Starsky picked up a beer can. Can't
spend the evening watching TV..... We're not getting anywhere like this.... He
raised an inquiring eyebrow in Hutch's direction and reached for the 'Off'
"So...." Hutch said. "You want to go first?"
Starsky set down the beer can. "What...what d'you want to know? What
don't you know?"
"I know what you told me. And I know you were telling me the truth.
than you know.... Moment of real truth....
"Okay," Starsky said. "For a start.... You've been
wondering about this?" He produced a crumpled envelope. "Remember
this?" He passed it to Hutch.
Hutch investigated, read the name. "Nothing here."
"Not now. Remember it?"
"The one you took from...from the apartment. Has your name on
it." He frowned. "She was writing to you? Left you a note?"
Starsky drew a deep breath. "I'd seen her, talked to her, that
day." He met Hutch's look of surprise and went on. "I told her
you'd have to know. And now there's another thing you have to know...."
"Yeah? What, then? What?"
"Remember you said that she -- that Gillian -- had plans to open a
"So, I offered to help her, help finance it -- like a business deal.
The -- uh -- financial help was in that envelope."
"And she didn't say no. Didn't tell me to get lost. And then,
afterwards, there was this envelope she'd left there on the table. I knew
what it was and it wasn't something I wanted them to find lying
Hutch seemed to accept the force of the statement. "That's it?
"No.... Come on, how could it be all?"
"So...?" Hutch prompted again.
"Think about it. You're the one has a way with words. How about
bribery? How's that for a word? Or you could call it interference:
interference in your life." Starsky broke off. "Bribery and
interference," he repeated. "Take your pick. Didn't work out, huh?
Not on any level."
Hutch was regarding him quizzically.
"Aren't you mad?" Starsky said at last. "If I'd stayed out
of it, she'd probably be alive now."
"That's not true." The contradiction was emphatic. "You
didn't kill her. Let's be clear about that. That was all down to Al
Grossman, with little Olga right behind him. And they did it without any
help from you."
Starsky shrugged. "Aren't you mad?" he asked again.
Hutch paused. "I might be. If it were anyone else but you, I might
be." He got up from the sofa. "Here." He tossed over another
can of beer. "But it wasn't anyone else. It was you -- makes a
difference. I know, I know, you can make me mad on any day without even
Starsky was watching him closely, hanging on the words.
"Emptied out your bank account, huh?" Hutch went on.
"I'm not that dumb. You know how it is. Bills to pay, gas to
Hutch returned to the sofa, opened his own beer. "You think I don't
understand why you did all that? Like I said, from anyone else, I might
think, 'Stay out of my affairs.' I might think, 'Interference."' He
raised his beer can in a kind of salutation. "With you, partner, that's
one word that doesn't fit here. Okay?"
"Really? You feel that.... You're not mad?"
"Business deal?" Hutch went on. "One more of your
"Better prospect than those Bolivian banks." Starsky halted
then, searching for the words to carry him over the last difficult
revelation. Couldn't Hutch guess? His
own words came back to him. 'He's gotta know.'
"There's more?" Hutch asked as the silence continued.
"Can't you guess?"
"Tell me about it."
Starsky picked up the discarded envelope, began folding and refolding it.
"I think you already worked it out. Was meant to be a way of...."
He could no longer escape confronting part of his own motive. He didn't
try to avoid Hutch's very direct look as he made that central admission.
"It was a way to stop your life being broken up."
He waited then for comment but Hutch was silent, his expression
"I guess the whole idea was wrong -- could never have worked. But I
couldn't just let things go ahead, not after I'd seen her that morning. And
I know you've gotta know -- all of it -- and it was a dumb idea and I didn't
have the right...." He came to another halt, waited for Hutch to look
at him before he went on, the words coming fast in contrast to the difficult
admissions of the previous minutes. "I wanted her to open that boutique
a long way from here."
"Figures. That's it?"
"It? Wouldn't you say that's enough? I just made everything
"Starsk." Hutch waited until Starsky looked at him again.
"You're thanking me for what I did?" Starsky couldn't find the
words to continue.
"Right. Thanks. For all the bribery and the interference. For the
"I never meant things to go the route they did," Starsky said.
"You don't have to tell me that. And it wasn't you made it happen
that way. It was just the way some things already were. The way, maybe,
they'd been for a long time. And don't tell me you're challenging my
monopoly." Hutch smiled at his partner's totally puzzled expression.
"On guilt trips," he explained.
Starsky managed a grin at that. "I didn't know how to handle it
without hurting you more than I knew you were going to be hurt. You know how
it was -- I'd just met her that evening and everything was fine -- great --
and then.... Everything changed."
"Yeah. Things are different.... Like maybe Grossman's kind won't be
bothering that neighborhood now."
"That, too. And maybe people like Lonely are going to feel a little
"Another beer?" Hutch suggested, but Starsky waved aside the
"Drivin'. But I could just take something to eat on the way."
"You don't want to watch the late movie?"
The temptation was strong, but Starsky resisted. "Another time.
Wouldn't even stay awake for the first shots. Too tired." He looked
inquiringly at Hutch. "Aren't you? Can't remember the last whole
night's sleep. Can you?"
"So sleep tonight," Hutch recommended.
"Feel like I could sleep for a week." Starsky yawned
comprehensively as he started down the stairs, then looked back to where
Hutch still stood at the open door, and turned. "Forgot
Hutch waited, watching until Starsky reached the landing and stood facing
"Wanna hug?" Starsky didn't wait for an answer. He held Hutch
close and inevitably, remembered another time. But this time the comfort
held no desperation.
There was a different quality here -- retrieving, celebrating, things
which were no longer threatened.
Hutch hugged back, smiled back. "Thanks," he said again.
"Yeah. See?" Starsky took a step back into the apartment.
"Gonna be okay." Their old formula, voiced so often against so
many odds. Starsky was remembering. 'You love him too.' She got that right. Maybe they both owed her something for that
clear-sighted avowal. And maybe, one day, there'd be a moment when he'd
share with Hutch the words which Gillian had spoken then.
A few steps on his way down, he turned again. "Hey. Some time --
next week, maybe -- how about I make dinner...my place?"
Hutch raised an acknowledging hand. "It's a date."
Standing in the doorway, listening to the Torino pull away, Hutch
remembered Eddie Hoyle's lack of comprehension when Lonely Bloggs had died.
'We're nothin'.' Now, as he thought of Starsky, the thought occurred: Always
have time for the nothings, don't you?
His partner...the one who found practical ways to meet the needs he saw,
whether for a ride to the Mission for creamed tuna or for opening a boutique
as a way of saving a partner from imminent hurt. 'Interference' was an
irrelevant concept here. We could
never jeopardize all we have in the name of 'interference,' throw away those
building blocks of our lives...the honesty, the generosity and the giving,
the love based on trust and on genuine caring. We'll go with that wherever
it's taking us.
Dinner, a week later, was to be at Starsky's place. The day had been
punctuated by references, some explicit, some oblique, to the delights which
lay ahead. Finally Hutch interrupted the current oration.
"Starsk, why all the commercials? I've had dinner at your place a
hundred times. More."
"True. But not like this. This is going to be different."
Starsky seemed to catch signs of incipient trepidation in his prospective
guest's reaction to the statement. "You're really gonna like
this," he promised confidently.
"You shouldn't go to any trouble...." Hutch began.
But Starsky brushed aside the protests. "Just wait. Quit worrying.
Hutch waited. And wondered. With Starsky in charge, anything was
"Help yourself to beer," Starsky invited as, some hours later,
they entered the apartment. "Dinner'll be ready in no time."
"Like a couple of hours?" Hutch seized on the possible escape
route. "I'm really hungry tonight. Bread and cheese would be
"In no time, I said. Everything's done and ready. Wanna watch?"
He led the way into the kitchen.
Hutch watched, fascinated, as dishes were removed from the refrigerator
and set out on the kitchen table.
"Cottage cheese?" Hutch's voice rose in disbelief.
"Of course, cottage cheese. And your very own favorite --"
Starsky added a further item. "Really healthy brown rice. Isn't that
With a flourish, he next produced a colorful dish of grated carrot, green
peppers and tomatoes. "Look!"
Hutch's emotions were compounded of incredulity, lingering suspicion and
growing gratification, as yet another offering appeared. "Bean sprout
Starsky beamed. "You got it!" He seemed to be waiting for the
ecstatic outburst which he apparently felt must follow. "Nibble if you
like," he encouraged generously.
Hutch selected a sprig of green. "Starsk...it's -- it's -- too
"You're welcome. I owed you anyway," he added as Hutch reached
for half a mushroom and a couple of almonds.
"Banana chips later," Starsky promised, taking a chair. Hutch
sat down too while Starsky surveyed his creations with satisfied pride. He
smiled sunnily at his still puzzled partner.
"Owed?" Hutch questioned.
"Sure. You remember. You think I'd ever forget the Paul Muni
Hutch smiled back in happy reminiscence, taking in the feast spread out
before them. "All this? For me?"
"Who else? You want scrambled eggs, too? No problem. Or -- " He
half-turned from the table, producing one more item. "You could even
share this...." He whisked away a shrouding cover from the pizza, which
had been lurking on the counter behind him. He transferred a substantial
wedge to his own plate and then filled their glasses.
"Go ahead. You don't have to watch me go to work on this if it would
spoil your appetite for higher things. C'mon, eat your vegetables."
Hutch went happily ahead. This, they both knew, was special. It
meant a celebration of precious things, which had seemed suddenly
precarious, but now safe again, recovered. This dinner was important in
marking some unverbalized stage, which this relationship, central to both
their lives, had now reached. They pledged one another with the red wine.
Afterwards when coffee time came around, Hutch noted the less-than-free
movement as Starsky began to reach for the head-level shelf and then
abandoned the attempt.
"Here." Hutch deposited the jar on the counter. "That
shoulder's still bothering you." The observation brought back
recollections and he stopped sharply.
And there were some rough moments which can't have helped anything. The
memories came back. "Never did get that fixed, did you?"
Starsky was busy with the coffee mugs. "It's okay. Told you. Just
something that happens once a century."
They carried the coffee back to the sofa and settled comfortably.
"See?" Starsky said, relaxing. "Better already."
Hutch considered him. "Maybe I'll do something about it --
later," he announced.
"Yeah? Well, okay. I've known you work some near-miracles before
"In a minute," Hutch promised. He thought about the situation.
"Maybe it's time you let me teach you a quieter game."
"Like what? I should warn you I sorta grew out of stamp collectin' a
Hutch smiled in anticipation. "Not what I had in mind."
"So -- like what?" Starsky prompted.
Hutch smiled again, knowledgeably. "I'm good," he stated
simply. "Could help you along." Bringing together Starsky and
chess promised intriguing possibilities. He became aware of Starsky's
brooding look. "We mustn't expect too much at first," he
cautioned. "But you'll like it."
"Chess, huh?" his partner mused. "This is just one more
phase in your brain and brawn thing, right?"
"Nothing like that," Hutch reassured. "It's just for your
own good. Educational, too. Don't worry."
Starsky thought about it. "Chess.... Neat.... Original...." He
apparently came to a decision. "Okay, you're on. Know something? I have
this hunch I'm going to be a real hit here."
Starsky's confident air of happy optimism sparked a sudden small doubt as
Hutch remembered the folly of taking anything for granted where this partner
was concerned. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to check out a few finer points in the
chess manual before he began the instruction.
"Guess that's something we're both going to find out," he said,
"just as soon as we get the time for it."
The discovery process, he reflected, could prove satisfying.
'Restored, renewed...the lost are borne
On seas of shipwreck home at last.
See, in this fire of praising, burns
The dry, dumb past, and we
The life-long days shall part no more.
The light of recognition fills
This whole great day."
W. S. .Auden 1907-1973