IF I JOIN YA? -- SCENE TWO
The man on the shore seemed immobile, the wind
off the ocean fluttering his blond hair and the pinwheel in his hands. His
attention seemed to be totally riveted on the small object.
Starsky advanced silently across the sand,
cutting the distance between himself and his partner. Partner...hang on to
that word.... The movie plan had lost its attraction almost as soon as he
had voiced it. Hutch had shown no interest in it and a movie was no fun by
yourself. Not that anything had been fun recently. The shine had worn off
everything. He didn't want to try to trace that feeling back to its origins.
He guessed their roots were deep. Some time, maybe. Not now.
What had happened to Lionel Rigger had produced a
catalyst effect; that much, at least, was clear. They'd been over it more
than once. What point was there in apportioning individual blame, confronted
by the over-riding demands of the system? "We don't make
promises," they had warned Rigger at that first meeting. The memory
didn't help, overshadowed as it was by Huggy's bitter reproaches,
reinforcing the sense of personal guilt.
Starsky drew nearer to where Hutch stood, head
bowed, concentrating still on the whirring color in his hands. Starsky
recalled the trial hearing, the moment when reality decisively dispelled any
lingering optimism that the case might go the way they had imagined. By that
time, it had probably already been unnecessary to name an informant
Maclellan's people would have been making their own educated guesses.
The brilliant sun on the bright waves made an
incongruous setting for Starsky's thoughts. He'd watched Hutch pull out of
the precinct parking lot and had been immediately conscious of the strangely
urgent need not to let his partner drive away. The movie rejected,
forgotten. The priority now was the need to talk.
At Venice he'd found the apartment deserted but
the car was parked outside. He discarded the notion that Hutch might have
opted for exercise around the block. So -- where? Beach --? He crossed the
street and took off at a run, slowing down when, eventually, he saw his
quarry at the ocean's edge. Slowly he made his way across the sand, watched
as Hutch fixed the little pinwheel at his feet and, hands now free, reached
into a pocket.
Starsky came closer until only a few feet
separated them and Hutch raised his head at last. There was no surprise in
the gaze which met Starsky's own.
"Changed my mind," was all he said in
response to Hutch's "thought you were going to the movies." Mere,
Starsky's glance went from Hutch's face to the
badge in his partner's hand. Hutch watched wordlessly as Starsky produced
its replica. The silence stretched between them like the years of
partnership -- and more -- which the badges represented.
"Pollution..." was that the term for
what the shining metal now meant?
Starsky sighed. The mixture of emotions didn't
fit into any words right now. What did fit was the priority of staying
together in this. Like always. Me and thee....
He was aware of Hutch at his side, waiting,
watching him, concentrating on him.
"Mind if I join ya?" he asked.