So this was the place...a tall city building with wide steps leading up
to its wide main door. Bobby Marsh drew a deep breath, excitement mounting.
The big moment had actually arrived. A dream was about to come true.
For as long as he could remember, he had been fascinated by the warm and
wonderful world of radio communication. He loved the romance of it, the
link-up with all those faraway places. There was satisfaction in being part
of that kind of network. It had all become less and less of a game as the
serious interest brought the development of the specialized skills. To hear
all those voices, some sounding as if they were coming from the next room
yet with the words being spoken on the other side of the world...messages,
reports, casual exchanges...others with a compelling quality like the one
he'd heard that day, the one which had brought him here now. Only a few
weeks back there had been that Mayday call, the voice weak, weaker...fading
in and out of reception's range, and almost lost when his mother had begun,
as usual, to nag about such irrelevancies as homework. He'd hardly been able
to wait for her to leave so that he could get back to the radio and try
again to locate that faint, desperate pleading. And he'd found it -- the
voice had been there still. He'd been able to pick it up, had made his call
relaying the information, and then waited, as instructed, to hear further
from the Police department.
Recollections of what happened next were vivid. In less time than seemed
possible, there was the flurry of the cop's arrival. Shaped by anxiety,
urgency, action, events had moved into fast-forward mode, with the cop --
Starsky -- asking his rapid-fire questions, absorbing basic facts, calling
in his own quick message before being out of the house and on his way almost
as soon as he'd arrived. That visit had been over in minutes. Starsky had
shown something of the same kind of desperation as he'd detected on the
The whirlwind departure had left Bobby with a sense of anti-climax. Alone
again, he'd tried to recapture the radio voice...nothing.... But another
voice echoed in his consciousness: his visitor's quick promise -- 'Show you
Communications at Headquarter,' -- no details. No time for those or for any
more talk. But a moment snatched for that glittering promise.
Bobby had held on to the prospect, cherishing the possibility, while half
expecting to hear no more. People, he'd noticed, did sometimes make promises
but didn't follow through. He wouldn't let himself hope too much. But
anticipation stayed as the weeks went by.
And Starsky hadn't forgotten. Bobby had come home from school a few days
ago to find the invitation waiting. His mother had taken the call --
Saturday morning, okay? Even his mother had been impressed, persuaded now
that his obsession with radio was no mere game. It had led somewhere, had
served a real need. There had been the promise of a lift home, but she'd
been willing to deliver him to his rendezvous.
Now, four weeks after those events, he approached the enquiry desk and
waited to be noticed, while above his head a telephone conversation went
on...and on. No one seemed to be taking note of his presence. No problem --
it was enough to be here, drinking in this new universe, just watching the
comings and goings.
"Bobby?" He turned to face the tall man who had stopped at his
side. "Bobby Marsh?"
"Yeah." They all knew
your name around here? This one wasn't the cop who had come to the house
"Ken Hutchinson," the other introduced himself. "We talked
once," -- he smiled wryly -- "a one-sided conversation --
"You're that cop?"
"Right. Dave Starsky's partner. He's told me about you."
"Oh." A name Bobby knew.
"Been wanting to meet you. What you did made a lot of
"I like doing it. It's fun -- really interesting."
"I can imagine. Anyway -- thanks. Been waiting for a chance to say
Bobby grinned, regarding his companion with a proprietary interest. It
was true: he -- and his radio -- had been involved in some real police work
"Starsky couldn't get here right now," Ken Hutchinson was
saying, "so I came to collect you instead."
"So -- let's go, huh?"
Progress in this crowded, busy place wasn't fast, especially with a guide
who seemed to be relying partly on a walking cane. Again, no problem; the
enjoyment of being here made up for everything else. The elevator took them
to another floor and to a door bearing the magical inscription -- 'Squadroom'.
His guide led the way to a desk piled high with an assortment of files,
papers, telephones, typewriters, the remains of a chocolate bar, a colorful
"Have a seat."
Bobby sat down at a real Squadroom desk. "This is where you
"Sure. Some of the time."
"Not enough of the time," a gruff voice joined in. Hutchinson
gave a resigned shrug and Bobby glanced around to see a substantial black
man observing him. "This is the expert who helped crack that
"Yes, this is Bobby. Bobby, this is Captain Dobey."
"A Captain of Detectives!" This was turning into the sort of
day you never forgot.
"Right." The word came from a new arrival...Starsky -- someone
here he already knew. The wide grin welcomed him.
"You did some fine work there," Dobey told him as he moved on.
Starsky settled on a corner of the desk. "Hutch found you
okay?" He gestured toward his colleague. "This is Hutch." His
look lingered on the blond man. "Whyn't you sit?" he
demanded. "Take some weight off that." He waited 'til Hutch
subsided into the chair opposite Bobby's, nodded approval. "That's
better. So you two got acquainted. Know who this is, Bobby?"
"Sure -- you're the one -- the one I could hear out there."
"You helped save my life. You know that?"
"Really know what you're doing with that radio, don't you?"
Starsky said. "Lucky for us." Again, his glance rested briefly on
his partner. "Didn't really have a chance to thank you properly at the
"It's okay. Hutch told me."
Starsky stood up. "So how about we're on our way? Look in on
Communications. Maybe you'll have a few tips you can give them."
"It's not far. They're expecting you," Hutch added.
They were. News had gone ahead of them. Bobby found he had something like
celebrity status. No one could stop work to offer a conducted tour and he
didn't expect that, but it was enough just to watch and listen to the way
What-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up ceased to be a question. A half-hour
later he'd garnered an armful of mementoes -- print-outs, candy, weird and
ingenious mascots, including a small model of a zebra which Hutch
contributed to the spoils. If only school still featured those show-and-tell
sessions of earlier grades.... The feeling grew that life could not hold
He found, however, that it did hold a burger lunch in the cafeteria where
conversation turned to the delights of CB radio with Starsky recounting
animated tales of a puce goose. Another ride in the car with the customized
red-and-white paint job crowned the occasion. If only the other guys could
see me now.... They were back home too soon.
"We'll keep in touch," Hutch promised as he and his partner
prepared to drive away.
"Thanks. Again," Starsky said. His glance strayed back to his
friend. "We'll never forget the way you helped."
"He's right," Hutch affirmed. "What if--" His own
glance met Starsky's.
"Already thought of that. You think I hadn't thought of that?"
"I know you know."
They turned back to Bobby, standing there, laden with the souvenirs of
his memorable day. "It was great!" he told them for the hundredth
"Keep listening!" They waved as the Torino moved off. Bobby
watched until it took the left turn, then hurried indoors. There were a lot
of trophies to be fixed to the bulletin board, a host of treasures for Mom
to see when she got in.
He put on the headset and tuned in to Radio Marsh. He felt like he'd
tuned into a lot of things today...like the way those two seemed to work
together. Maybe you could tune into people like that as well as the distant,
unknown voices. He recalled the first brief meeting with Dave Starsky -- the
single-minded concentration focused and fastened on his friend's need.
Partner...that was the word they used. Sure seemed to fit their kind of
With a sigh of satisfaction for a beautiful day, he made a delicate
adjustment to a knob and leaned back, listening.