It had been a discouraging week -- work, work,
work -- culminating in the Grand Opening of the piggy bank, the revelation
that its contents would cover no more than a few beers, and the subsequent
prospect of a free Saturday with no money to spare. Even allowing for the
satisfaction of the simple, old-fashioned, do-it-yourself pleasures and the
homemade diversions, independent wealth still held its strong attraction.
However, the notice on the bulletin board
combined with a sunny weekend, ideal for the departmental barbecue, found
them next day joining the throng of colleagues, friends and families.
"Look at all these people," Starsky
invited. "Wonder who's minding the store."
Minnie greeted them a few yards farther on.
"Hi. Red shirt looks good on you, Starsky."
"This old thing? Well...thanks."
Starsky preened modestly.
"I had it new last Christmas," Hutch
muttered. "Hardly worn. Ostentatious color anyway."
"Not on me," Starsky said complacently.
"I kinda set it off. An' I thought we agreed -- flauntin's okay."
He turned to consider his partner's general appearance. "If you wanna
be so picky, you could've worn that -- uh -- that --"
"Serape," Hutch supplied. "No. Too
formal for now."
Minnie and her friends walked on by as they
became aware of the banner above the entrance and looked up, studying its
message. 'Do YOU possess Prize-winning Potential?' it asked in letters a
foot high. They eyed one another in reminiscent speculation, turned back to
"Could be one way to make a few
dollars," Starsky began.
"In that kind of contest? Why? What can you
Starsky raised a disbelieving eyebrow. "You
can't have been paying attention," he observed resignedly.
"Anyway, I know a few tricks --" He met Hutch's look. "With
cards," he finished.
"Don't think that's what they have in mind.
And you know your mother said you'd never make it in the theater."
"So you rise to the occasion. I could be
your agent -- sorta handle things for you -- hold your popcorn." He
reached for an entry form. "Now, let's fill this out. Name...shield
"Category. Means you could -- uh -- sing --
recite -- dance." Hutch looked heavenward. "You don't like those?
Has to be something. Hey -- how about all those jokes I learned? Did teach
you your lines, too."
Hutch spoke decisively. "No. NOT
"Why do we have to?"
"The why is we could use the prize money. I
got it! Remember -- 'Wrap your love all around....' You have to remember
"I forgot the words."
Starsky sent him a doubting look. "Could've
fooled me. Been actin' them out ever since Sue-Anne taught you. No problem,
though. I'll help out -- prompt you." He completed the form and began
shepherding his reluctant partner into the makeshift theater.
Hutch hung back. "I'm not dressed for
"Excuses, excuses. And if that's a sneaky
way to get to wear the red shirt, I'm not fallin' for it. Come on...there's
a lot riding on this. Like hot dinners next week." He patted Hutch
encouragingly. "They're gonna love ya."
Hutch was unconvinced. "I'm not in the
"Sure you are. You know you'll love it when
you're up there."
Hutch looked steadily back at him. "I'm not
answering that," he stated.
Starsky gave him a confident grin. "You'll
be a riot," he promised. "Like always."
He went on ahead, rejoining Hutch after a couple
of minutes. "Booked you in," he announced. "You were lucky --
just made it under the wire. Show's nearly over, but I convinced them to
take you. You're on in ten minutes."
It was nearly an hour later when they made their
way outside again.
"See?" Starsky appealed jubilantly.
"Told you. All those encores. You know if you really don't like that
Bolivian project, there could be a big future in this line of work."
"Dreamer. You don't get the glittering
prizes for this."
"Yeah .... Was good enough though."
Starsky watched as his partner checked the small wad of prize money bills.
"Look at all that! I always say -- it's not the taking part that
counts. It's the money."
He paused and, as Hutch stopped too, reached out
to fix the ribbon rosette behind his partner's ear. "Candy apple
red," he commented approvingly. "Winner gets one of those too. Or
do you prefer it between your teeth?"
Hutch didn't express an immediate opinion.
"Let's pick up a couple of steaks," he suggested finally,
"and a couple of bottles...go home...make the dinner...quiet night
in...then it can be your turn to sing to me. Deal?"
Starsky ginned happily. "Deal."