Binding of the Souls by Sam KW
Chapter 1: The meeting (Starsky's POV-1)
I met with John Blaine two weeks ago. He placed a file in front of me at "The Pits", the pub/restaurant owned by my friend, Huggy Bear. Blaine is the man who has been responsible for most of the important decisions I had made in my life, and today with his connections as a captain in the Police Force he got me the information I was seeking. I opened the file and found a black and white photo of a guy with a slight smile, big eyes, and a puppy-dog like look staring at me. My eyes darted towards the information below.
"Kenneth Richard Hutchinson... That is a mouthful!"
"Are you looking for reasons to hate him?" Blaine's blunt question surprised me.
"Why did you say that?" I asked, truly confused.
"Well… I have seen that glint in your eye one too many times Dave—Just… just give the guy a chance."
Isn't it easy to 'not-to-love' or 'not-to-like' or 'not-to-care of' anyone than to love, like and care? Love or fondness always ends up in hurt. 'Not-to-Love' is just… well… safe. A sigh escaped me when I looked at the photo again. He really looks like a lost puppy dog. Something inside me just snapped.
"Thanks for doing this for me Blaine," I said, not looking up from the face that had captured my attention.
"What I don't understand is why you wanted to know who he is when you cannot change the allocations,"
I shrugged my shoulders "I dunno, guess it'll be easier to deal with him if I know a little beforehand."
"Something in Nam?" Blaine asked.
I started at Blaine for a moment, silently. Blaine didn't raise any questions thereafter. Instead, he started to tell me a little bit more about the person that was smiling at me from the file.
"Kenneth is married. Has a degree in Biology; Pre-Med at UCLA, had the best grades ever, but decided to drop out, and joined the Police academy. His father is a highly respected doctor."
Interesting. Guy with family connections and all means to be a doctor. Smart and wealthy but chooses to be a policeman? UCLA means his family is wealthy, and he wants to be a police officer?? Very interesting! I think I'm going to like the guy!
"He will be here in two weeks – has booked Motel Sunshine for three days."
I remained at The Pits long after Blaine left, going through the file though there was nothing much in it. Kenneth was from Duluth, Minnesota. "Married" but then why was he travelling all by himself to San Francisco? I got up and left The Pits. I had to book a room at the Sunshine.
It was a Friday. I was at Sunshine lobby watching the incoming visitors. At 4.35pm a tall blond got out of a yellow cab. His full attire screamed classy, reminding me of a Greek God I had seen in books. I'm sure he was a little more than 6 feet tall. His suit; long sleeved light beige shirt, brown jacket, matching sunglasses, brown shoes. I couldn't help but grin at the site of my faded blue t-shirt and denim jeans and the sports sneakers. You are in for a very pleasant surprise Kenneth Hutchinson. We are like night and day, sun and moon, ebony and ivory-- ying yang.
He headed straight to the reception and very swiftly and diligently handled the paperwork. I saw Sally smiling at him with her big brown eyes; Just the way she smiled at me; Huh! And I thought her smile was just something special for me. Women!
"Here is your key sir, Room 218." Sally said, and I just couldn't believe it. He was next to mine! Is this fate or what? Well… whatever it is, it made my life a little bit easier.
I had a good view of all the rooms of the Sunshine from where I was sitting at the lobby. I waited until Kenneth entered his room before I went to mine.
Once in my room, I heard what went on in the next room through the thin walls. I heard him sigh and mumble something. I heard the shower running, stopping, and the creaking of the wood when he entered the room. Then after sometime heard the bed squeak.
Was he preparing to sleep or what??? Wasn't he going to eat anything… ??? My stomach was already making rumbling noises.
Well Kenneth Hutchinson you can sleep all you want but I'm going out to eat. Catching up with you will have to wait until tomorrow.
I went outside the Motel, thinking of going to the burger joint when I heard a door open behind me. I didn't need my sixth sense to tell me who that might be. I quickly slipped into the Motel office before he could see me. Hutchinson came near the office and paused. He scanned the room as if he was looking for someone. He had his sunglasses, and I couldn't see his eyes. I was sure he didn't see me. He frowned, shook his head, walked away and stood at the road as if trying to decide which way to go. He turned to his right and started walking. I followed him making sure I had enough distance between him and I so that he wouldn't notice me. To my annoyance, instead of hitting a fast-food joint, he just kept on walking, walking and walking, head down, without even looking where he actually was going. His shoulders were slumped as he had lost everything in the world. He stopped at a junction and turned right again, and kept on walking. Just a glance here and there, but rest of the time his eyes were on the cement pavement.
Jeez man, can't you just stop to eat somewhere. I'm hungry!
I wish I had a mind controlling power so that I could just get him to a burger joint. To my dismay I realized that he was heading into an area which he shouldn't be going into. The 'Redhills' was well known for its rough neighborhoods. This is where men were stalking other men. Only a guy who knew what he was getting into could survive here. And this blond from Duluth would be just the fresh meat some were waiting for. So much for my mind controlling!
My heart sank when he stopped near the 'Numbers,' the bar with a 'reputation' in the town, and he just had to stop at it. This is where things happen. This wasn't the kind of place that made sweet memories. Not a place even I would think of stopping by even if I were going to die in hunger. Ummm… I take it back… I would have stopped, i I were that hungry, but…
Hutchinson stood there looking lost. He sill didn't make any moves.
Don't go there- I cannot follow you if you go there. Keep walking. I kept on believing that the psychic power of mine, which I hoped existed, would enter into his head and make him turn away.
Ok... He is trying to decide where to turn- I tried to calm myself. Turn to your right, dummy, so that we can get back to the Motel, or anywhere else.
As if it was an invitation for him, the bar door opened and some guy came outside. Hutchinson decided to go in. Just like that!
I guess my psychic message was just lost in translation.
Jesus man if this is how good your instincts are I'm in big trouble! I will have to teach you everything. EVERYTHING!
My palms were sweaty, my heart racing, I knew I couldn't go in there. Not after the horrors I faced in Nam. I tried to take deep breaths and tell myself that he will turn back and come out when he sees what kind of a place this is. He will just be fine. I hoped he was not dumb to stay inside when he saw the place. He cannot be that dumb! And on the other hand, he is a grown up man! He can take care of himself. I will just stay here until he comes out. I will not go in!
You cannot do that- he is your responsibility. My better half shouted at me.
No he is not. I don't even know him. How can he be my responsibility?
You know enough. Go in there, and get him out before it is too late.
I CANNOT GO IN THERE
I'M NOT SCARED
Then prove it!
I couldn't stand still anymore- 'I hope you are worth it Blondie.' I stepped into the dimly lit bar. The smell of smoke, alcohol, and sweat was choked me. I couldn't breathe, and I was sure who ever walked beside me could hear my heart pounding against my ribs.
Where are you Kenneth Damn Hutchinson? Out of all the bars you just had to come here, didn't ya?
And there he was, at the bar counter, staring at the beer in his hand, oblivious to what was going around him. I already saw some guys eyeing him, and I wasn't even sure how I got to him before anyone else. All what I had to do now was to get him out of there one way or the other.
"What do you think you are doing here?" I didn't even recognize my own voice. His head turned towards me in lightening speed, and then there was this brightest and bluest eyes staring at me as if they had seen a ghost from the past. What happened next was nothing I expected. His eyes widened as if he recognized me, he jumped back spilling the beer and falling off the stool.
"You," he managed to say. "You are real!"
"What the hell does that supposed to mean? - Get up and get your jacket."
He looked at me with saucer-eyes.
"Get up." I pulled him to his feet and felt something like an electric current pass between us- I knew he felt it too because his eyes widened even more. He stared at me as if he could see deep into my heart, soul and wherever I kept all my secrets, my heart aches, and my life buried and locked up. I felt as if he could see right through me. Who is this guy and how can he make me feel this naked?
"Start moving." I said, pulling him towards the door, ignoring whatever the sensation I was feeling.
"NO." he pulled back. "Who are you to order me around huh? Who the hell are you?" He growled back. "You cannot be him! You cannot be real- what's happening?"
I saw the shocked look in his eyes again. He just couldn't get his eyes off me. What is wrong with this guy? What the hell is HE talking about? Why am I not real? He had me mistaken for someone else for sure or why would he keep asking who I'm as if he 'knew' me.
"Before I tell you who I'm, why don't you look around and see for yourself where you really are." I threatened him because I knew we were running out of time, and I had to get him, us, out of this hell before it was too late.
"What?" Obviously he didn't even hear what I said.
"Look around." I grit my teeth in desperation. "We have to get out of here."
He managed to drag his eyes off me to scan the room. Slowly his expression changed and he gasped. He swallowed hard. "Jesus."
"Oh, no. if you haven't already noticed Blondie, Jesus is not here, but I'm, so get your damn jacket and follow me."
I didn't have to say it again, but as soon as he picked up his jacket a guy with a beard that looked as rough as the guy himself stepped in "Hey you don't have to go anywhere sweet pie, you can stay right here with me." he said, stepping between Hutchinson and I.
"Arr, excuse me. I-- I … I errr... have to go." Kenneth mumbled, trying to look very brave, but I felt his fear. I felt the rage taking control of me. The fire of the anger that burnt within me and the memories of a similar situation that happened so many years ago in a bar like this in Nam made me clench my teeth and fists. I felt the bile rising up my throat just as fast as my adrenalin levels were going up- There was no one but me against them and I'll be damned if anyone think they can hurt this guy. There was only one way to take care of it, and I knew I had to act fast. Thanks to all those years growing up on the streets of New York and then in California, I knew exactly how to handle situations like this.
"Don't touch him. He is my property." I said as clearly as possible. Where did that come from? My property!!!? Huh? Kenneth inhaled sharply and I saw him holding his breath at my words. His eyes were like two big blue flying saucers.
The 'rough beard' guy didn't know whom he was dealing with when he stepped forward to attack me. Big mistake! No one was fast enough to get me. Next minute he was on the ground trying to catch his breath while clutching his stomach curled into a ball. I knew where to hit and how to hit to inflict pain with minimum damage; again, those were the lessons I learnt during my street life. I looked around expecting more of this kind but none of the other guys seemed to care.
"Come on sweet-pie." I pulled Kenneth towards me. He winced at my touch but didn't pull back this time. I headed straight to the door, and he may have decided that whoever the devil I were it was safer with me compared to where he was that time. No one stopped us and I kept on walking until we were away from harm's way. I stopped when I knew I couldn't control myself anymore … I kneeled at the sidewalk throwing up near a bush.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't know... I swear I didn't know." Kenneth knelt beside me trying to hold me… I felt something being pushed into my hand. A white clean 'expensive' handkerchief… "You sure you wanna spoil this?" I couldn't help but ask. He grimaced.
"What do you think you were doin' in that bar huh? What the hell were you thinkin'? Do you even know that there are places like that? Do you know what happens to people like you who go into places like that?" I shouted at him to vent my anger. I was still shaking.
"I'm sorry." He looked like a little boy at the mercy of his father.
"Why the hell are you apologizing to me? I'm not your father." I said, and seeing how he instantaneously pulled back, I knew I had hit a raw spot there. He stood in front of me, looking all lost and confused.
He doesn't need me shouting at him. He already had enough for the day.
My stomach rumbled, reminding me that I was planning on dinner when all this started. Now I was a thousand times hungrier than I were before, after whatever that were in my stomach lay already in the ditch.
"Come on Blondie, I need to eat. My treat, I will buy you dinner, then we will talk. I don't think clearly when I'm hungry."
"Who are you?" He asked without moving. "Do you know me?"
"Oh, didn't I introduce myself? I'm David Starsky. You can call me Starsky or David… or when you know me enough you can call me Dave if you want to, but you can never call me Davey, do you understand?"
"Err.. I.. I arr.. I'm … err Kenneth Hutchinson."
I know!"Nice name." I smiled. "So Kenny--" I saw the terrified look in his eyes. I would have too if someone called me 'Kenny' "What are you doing here in San Francisco?"
"I err.. I'm joining the police academy."
"Really? you?? Police academy?"
"What do you mean by that?" He glared at me.
"I mean... I mean someone like 'YOU'... just look at you-- I'm sure you have enough money to do whatever you want but you want to go to the Police academy? Come one Kenny. That ain't normal!" I teased him, and instantly knew 'Kenny' was not a name he wanted to hear. At least not from me.
I made the mistake of looking at his eyes. Jesus, I will never be able to go against him when those blue eyes were shining at me like that. "Okay, what should I call you then? Kenneth? Ken? You don't sound like any of them. Hutchinson? Couldn't you have chosen an easy name?"
"Not my fault," he said, looking away and then mumbling something like, "I don't even know you, not real. This cannot be happening."
I suddenly had the perfect name for him. "Hutch- that is exactly what you look like." I thought I was very clever. He really looked like it.
"What? What does that supposed to mean?"
I started to walk, ignoring his question, and after some time he started to follow me.
"So tell me. Why are you joining the Police academy when you are obviously rich?" I turned my head, giving him my best grin.
"I'm not rich- that's my father. I didn't want his money," he said softly.
We walked silently until we reached the best burger joint in town. "Ahhhh... here we are. Trust me, Hutch. You have never eaten anything like this before."
He looked at me as if I were a mad man. He clearly didn't share my enthusiasm about burgers.
"You eat this stuff?" Hutch asked once I brought our 'house special burger' orders with two chocolate milk shakes.
"What do you mean 'this stiff'? Are you telling me you have never eaten real food?"
"You call this real food?"
"Just shut up and eat it first, then you can tell me whether this is real or not… ohhh … you are not sure whether I'M real either-- you keep on saying that, Hutch, what's your the problem?" I asked, biting into the juicy burgers. Felt like heaven.
Hutch looked away, avoiding talking about the 'real' issue, but I wasn't about to let it go.
"So… have you made up your mind?" I asked again.
"About what?" and he pretended to not to know what I meant.
"Whether I'm real or not." I reminded him.
"I don't know what you are talking about," he dismissed me, eyeing the burgers suspiciously.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, eat that, will ya!" I said, not wanting to see the burgers getting insulted anymore. He obeyed and took a bite.
"Hmm... not bad," he managed to say between his mouthfuls.
"But these things can kill you," he said, and I could have just smacked him for that.
I felt good after the burgers and the milk shake. Hutch managed only a half of the burger and half of the milk shake. Looks like he is a health freak. Probably eating salad, spinach, raw vegetables and what not.
Oh, man. Isn't there anything similar between us? Just one thing? I sighed.
God sometimes has very strange plans.
But I couldn't shake out the feeling I got when I first had that 'physical' contact with him. It was a like an electric bolt. I'm sure he felt something as well because his eyes, ohh- those eyes cannot hide anything. Yes, he felt it, too. But what is it? What is this thing I'm feeling for this man I have never felt for anyone before? A sense of familiarity; as if he was my own flesh and blood. Like he was my brother! I knew this man was going to be in my life for a long long time.. for eternity.
I suddenly felt very tired. A yawn escaped me.
"Let us get back to the Motel. I'm tired."
He was shocked. The same look I saw at Numbers. No- not the look when he saw me, but the look he had when he realized where he was… Didn't he hear me say 'Motel'? I didn't say let us go to Numbers.What is wrong with him? He even tries to avoid eye contact now. What did I say?
"Aren't you tired? Do you want to go on another expedition? If you do, you are by yourself, Blondie. I'm not going to save your ass again tonight. I'm dead tired."
I stood up while he tried hard to say something. "What?" I yelled at him.
"Err… Umm, well, you know, I'm not that tired. So why don't you go, and I will just sit here for a little while." He looked very uncomfortable, and I couldn't understand what was going on in that blond head of his.
"Oh, no. You are not! Get your butt off that chair." I knew I would sleep better if I knew where he was.
"Are you going to The Sunshine?" Hutch asked.
"Of course! Where do you think I'm gonna' sleep?"
Hutch swallowed hard- very hard, and broke into a string of coughs.
"Hey, what's wrong man? You okay?"
"I- I'm fine, just need some air, I will go back in a minute. I'm alright, really," he searched for words.
Right at that point it just hit me. He thinks I'm 'in to' him! Imagine that!
Well… let him chew on that a little bit. He cannot get into trouble between the burger joint and the Motel. He should be fine. I'm not his keeper anyway, but something else was bothering him big time. It wasn't just the fact that he was wondering whether I'm gay or not. Something else was in the back of his mind. I sat back.
"Aren't you going?" Hutch asked.
"No, not until you tell me what is going on in that blond head of yours."
"Ahh…" Hutch stood up. Apparently he 'lost it' –
"Stop it. Just stop it! I don't know who you are- You-- you j… j.. just appear at some god d...d….damn bar-- I have this f… f… feeling that you know me… I just don't know what the hell it is b... but I feel that you know me. And you know the weirdest thing. ?? I feel like I know you too! But I also know that I haven't even seen you for real before."
There… there it is again- not seen me for 'real'- That is what he said at the bar.
"So, have you seen me in your dreams then?" I asked without taking my eyes off him. That made him even more agitated.
"Who are you?" Hutch asked frustratingly.
"I told you who I am." What else did he want to know of me?
"Not just your n… .n… name… the real you-- please!"
Is he drugged or something? What the hell is he talking about?
"This is me. Real me - The real David Michael Starsky – in flesh and bone. I don't know what you are talkin' about- and I can assure you that we have never met before."
"Then how did you find me. I mean it was like you were there just for me."
You got that right Blondie. You got that right!
"It just happened, okay, I was at the Motel office when you checked in – then later I saw you walkin' along the streets, and I didn't have anythin' else to do- so… I just followed you." I'm sure he didn't like the fact that I kind of 'stalked' him, but well… that is all the truth he will be getting from me for now.
"What? What? You followed me? Jesus! Are you t … t-telling me that you just happened to see me, and you just happened to f… f... follow me? "
"Like I said, I had nothing else to do- I was bored- and … Aren't you glad that I followed you? Huh? Listen…. I just happened to be there and got you out of a bad situation. I was at the right place at the right moment-- lucky you, Hutchinson!"
"I'm not a poor little rich kid. I can take care of myself- I don't need some guardian angel looking over me."
Where did that come from? Guardian angel? Now I had enough. I was just too tired to deal with him.
"Yeah right," I said with a grunt.
"You don't understand. You followed me, I mean you -- You followed me." Hutch kept on mumbling.
I felt that I could not get anything out of him than his 'not real' mumblings. Whatever it is I'll have enough time to get it out of him in the future. Wasn't anything that couldn't wait.
"Oh, suit yourself- I'm out of here. I'm too tired to fight with you, and I'm going to sleep." I got up and looked at him right in the eye. Ohhh... Yesss… I had just one more thing to say to him.
"By the way, just so that you know, I have my own room and own bed! And the blonds I prefer has a different set of curves- So don't get any ideas in that blond head of yours."
From the corner of my eye I saw him blushing like a beet root. I walked away without looking back. Serves him right for thinking I'm gay.
I got back to The Sunshine, showered and hit the bed. I didn't know how tired I was until my head touched the pillow. Something told me that Hutch was safe for today. I heard the door open and close in the next room just before I fell into a deep sleep.
Chapter 2 : The meeting (Hutch's POV-1)
He came to me during my nightmares two weeks ago. His presence changed my nightmares. As far as I can remember I always had nightmares of disappointing my father. They all ended up the same way.
"You will never be good at anything."
"I cannot believe that you have my genes."
"You never try enough."
"You are too lazy."
"You disappoint me Kenneth."
All these accusations and words of hurt that at the end meant nothing for me. I had heard all of it. If there was an insult that was ever invented I would have heard it connected to my name. I bit back my cries when I felt his belt against my skin, because I didn't want him to see my tears.
"A man does not cry." I remember him saying, and I wanted to be a man in front of him. But the hurt never went away until I locked myself in my room and cried myself to sleep. My mother never said anything against my father. My sister would come to me and sit by my side silently. I knew she understood, but couldn't do anything to help other than holding me tight. She was just a little girl.
The nightmares had become intense since the day I confronted my father and explained to him that I did not want to be a doctor like him. If he was not a doctor maybe the idea would have appealed to me. Then three months ago when I told him about my decision to join the Police academy his eyes became cold and expressionless.
"Do you really think you can survive something like the Police Force? You will never make it Kenneth. NEVER!"
That was not what I wanted from my father but I knew what to expect of him.
"You cannot be a son of mine," he continued. "As of today you do not exist. Did you hear that? You do not exist in my life. I don't want to see you here again- Never- Not as long as I'm alive. So get out and never come back."
I was shocked. I couldn't speak but stare into his eyes. I felt numb. The pain I had shut down was seeping again through my nerves. How could he say I'm not his son? It hurt too much.
"I'm sorry Kenny," my mother came to me and touched my cheek. "Why do you have to make him angry all the time? He wanted the best for you. You could have been a brilliant doctor, but you threw everything away. I don't understand you either, Kenny. I just don't understand." She followed my father. My sister hugged me and sobbed.
"You will always be my brother no matter what happens," she said. I hugged her tightly. We were not close, but we had an understanding of each other. I loved her, and she loved me. That was enough for now. "Good bye, Goldilocks." I kissed her on her head.
I tried telling myself that I was doing the right thing. I tried to get away from something I didn't have the passion to. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I applied for the Police academy, but just felt that it is what I should do, ever since the day I saw how one detective, Matt, spent the time caring for a little boy at the hospital who had lost his parents. I was amazed to see how much he cared for the little boy. Matt also caught the people who had killed the parents of the little boy.
I could have saved lives by being a doctor, but it still didn't feel right for me. Maybe I was afraid that I would be compared to my father. Maybe I didn't want to fail him. Maybe I was afraid I would never be like him. May be... maybe… so many reasons I can think of, but the bottom line was that I didn't want to be a doctor.
By making that confession to my father I had invited another series of nightmares that haunted me for three months that suddenly took a change two weeks ago.
The nightmares were the same but the end was different. My father was shouting at me and insulting me with brutal words just like when I was a kid. I wanted to cry but I couldn't because he would have insulted me more. I felt as if my chest would break open. It was so tight that I couldn't breathe. Just like I felt when I was standing in front of him when I was a kid, shaking with fear, wanting so much to cry to let out the pain, but didn't dare to.
"Please father," I tried to say, but words didn't come out. I couldn't speak, and then suddenly I saw him. A stranger with intense dark blue eyes. He didn't say anything, but stared at me as if he couldn't decide whether to hate me or like me. Something told me that he was someone who had undergone a lot of pain and understood what I was going through.
"Who are you?" I asked but he didn't answer. He kept on staring at me. I woke up, trying to remember his face. Do I know him? Have I met him somewhere, sometime in my life? No, I would have remembered him if I had him met before. I would have remembered those sharp features. I would have remembered those eyes. Even if it was just a dream I could remember everything of him.
Two days later I had another nightmare. My father beating me across my butt, and I was begging him to not to hurt me. "You will never learn unless the lesson comes with pain, Kenneth," he said. I wanted to cry, but knew I couldn't. I couldn't breathe, and tried desperately to stop my sobs. Then suddenly I felt a change in the beating. It didn't hurt, and there he was. The blue eyed stranger!
"It is Okay to cry- Let it go." he whispered.
"I can't- he'll beat me," I said, biting back my tears.
"He will not. I will not allow it." He placed his hand on my shoulder.
I woke up with a jolt. Who is this man? Why is he in my dreams? I closed my eyes thinking of him. I wanted to see him, but he didn't return back that night.
I did not see him for another two days. Not until I had another nightmare.
It was the same and 'He' was staring at me; assuring me that he will never allow my father or anyone else hurt me. He had stopped the hurt just like he promised. I didn't feel the pain my father's words created anymore. Not when 'he' was around. It was as if he had a shield that didn't allow the pain to seep in. Is this the way my mind was shielding me of the pain that I was trying to avoid? An imaginary friend- an imaginary hero?
I always asked for his name. He never replied, but his stares were now replaced by a gentle smile. The first time I saw his smile it stuck in my head the whole day. I felt happy. I had someone who stopped the nightmares. I wanted him to be real and even started to look for him where ever I went. But I never saw him for real. He was only in my dreams. At the end I didn't care whether he was only a figment of my imagination. He stopped the hurt and he was my 'dream hero' – He was my friend.
In college and in High School it was difficult for me to become 'close friends' with anyone. I liked my roommate when I was in college. He was very different from me but we became good friends. He helped me with college life and I helped him with studies. We got along very well. He was not too happy about me deciding to leave med-school, but he understood. Just like I, he too hoped that I will find what I was looking for. I wish I could have said the same about how my wife felt about all of this. She was the biggest mistake in my life. A beautiful girl I met in college, fell in love with, or so I thought, married her because my parents were thrilled about her, realized that she married me for my money or I should say 'my parents' money and for who she thought I will become one day; a well renowned doctor like my father, and she wanted to be the wife of that doctor. Not the wife of plain Kenneth Hutchinson who was going to become a cop. She gave me three months. Three months to decide whether I was going to be a cop or to return back to Med-school. After three months if I was still at Police academy she would divorce me. So much for till death do us apart!
Seems like a lifetime ago, and here I'm today in Bay City- California, at some Motel "Sunshine" getting ready to face the Police academy. No matter how hard it gets I won't quit.
I got off the cab at The Sunshine. My father would have had a fit if he had to stay in a Motel like this. That made me smile. I'm not my father's son, and I liked the idea more and more of not being like him.
The motel room was not that bad at all. I just needed a place to sleep, and this was more than what I would ever need. I unpacked, took a shower and, decided to go outside and walk a little bit. Maybe I will find some place to eat or have a beer. God I felt so tired and drained out. I came out of the room and just had a glimpse of a dark curly head disappearing into the Motel office; a head that looked just like of the guy in my dreams. I scolded myself to imagining things but it didn't stop me from looking inside the office to see whether there is someone there; No one- Just the receptionist who had given me that dazzling smile.
Where should I go? Should find someplace to eat. Maybe I'll just walk for a little while.
I wished Vanessa was with me. Who am I fooling? She does not love me. God, what a fool am I to hope she would come to me? We could have worked things out. We could have… if I didn't quit med-school, but then she would have been with me just because I was a doctor. No- that would not have worked at all.
I found myself standing at a junction. I didn't care where I was going- just had to walk for some time. I had to get my thoughts clear. I felt uneasy when I thought about the Police academy. I knew nothing about being a cop. Nothing! What have I got myself in to? Like my father said I will never make it through. I will never survive this. I have not even held a gun in my life. The irony of the situation just hit me like a brick.
Well, Hutchinson, it is a little bit too late for that now.
You will have to go through it.
You can get through it!
Of course! You can do anything!
That is what you think.
I'm you… so if I think I can do it then you should be able to!
I needed a drink, badly. I was at a junction again- Any bars around? I saw a sign on one. "The Numbers". The door opened at the same time I was debating whether to go inside or not. I guess that took care of it. I walked in, sat at the bar counter and ordered a beer. The bartender looked at me as if he had never seen anyone like me in his life. I hope he enjoys the view. One drink, I told myself, and I will go back to the Motel and sleep. Maybe I can talk with 'Curly' in my dreams. I got my beer and watched the bubbles stream up from the bottom, wishing he was for real and I could just talk to him- And I heard him.. - It wasn't a dream. I heard him, here!
"What do you think you are doing here?" That voice- That is HIS voice!
I looked up, and he was standing beside me. I was sure I had not taken more than two sips of my beer. So I was not drunk, but who is this man standing beside me? The man in my dreams? I stood up and the next minute I was on the floor. The bar stool fell beside me, rest of the beer spilling all over me.
"You-- you are real!" Am I dreaming? But isn't he standing right in front of me?
"What the hell does that supposed to mean?" "Get up and get your jacket." He growled.
I couldn't move a muscle. I glared at him not knowing what to do- My 'dream buddy' was standing in front me. This is not real. Did the bartender put something to my drink? Am I seeing things?
"Get up," he said, and the next minute I was on my feet-
Well if I was just hearing things before then now I was also feeling things. Some electric current just went through my body and I noticed his hands and eyes on me. I'm sure he saw the real me all the way into my inner core- I could feel his eyes penetrating me, seeing what was hidden in my heart; all my insecurities.. the loneliness , the pain and anger that was locked up in me.
"Start moving," he demanded.
"No," I pulled back. "Who are you to order me around? Who the hell are you?" I asked. "You cannot be him! You cannot be real- what's happening?"
He looked at me is if I were some mad-man. What did just say?
"Before I tell you who I am, why don't you look around and see for yourself where you really are." He was angry-
"What?" I asked- What is he talking about?
"Look around," he said, gritting his teeth.
I managed to drag my eyes off him to look around the bar. Didn't take that long to realize that something was not right. There was something sinister about this place. Something was just out of place and it all felt wrong- My blood drained off of me. I don't know what I said but I heard him. "Oh, no. If you haven't already noticed Blondie, Jesus isn't here, but I am-- so get your damn jacket and follow me."
I didn't have to be told that again – I didn't know who the curly man was, but whoever the devil he was I felt safer with him. As soon as I started towards the door a nasty looking guy stepped in. I could feel the alcohol in his breath, "Hey, you don't have to go anywhere, sweet pie, you can stay right here, with me." he said, standing between me and the curly haired man. My heart sank. Oh, God, I'm dead meat!
"Arr, excuse me. I .. I--I errr... have to go." I couldn't even recognize my own voice. I was scared. I saw the curly head turning towards me, out of the corner of my eye. He was angry, and he was on fire. His eyes were flashing red. I felt a shiver running through my body. I would never want to be in his path when he was angry and God help who ever crossed his path now. "Don't touch him, he is my property." His voice was cold, clear and authoritative.
What did he just say? I'm his property? Who the hell does he think he is?
The guy turned towards Curly. What he saw he sure didn't like. I would not have either if I were in his shoes. Curly could have killed the guy just by the look in his eyes. I felt sweat trickling along my back. I had never been this scared in my life before.
I don't know what exactly happened but the next minute the guy was on the ground, groaning and holding his stomach. He wasn't bleeding, but he was in a lot of pain. I had no idea what the curly haired guy had done.
"Come on sweet pie," he said, pulling me towards him. I felt I was in some kind of stance. Did he cast some kind of a spell on me? Did he call me sweet pie?
He headed straight to the door, and I followed him. I didn't know who this man was, but I knew he was getting me out of this place. Is he capable of harming me? I had no doubt about that after seeing that killer look in his eyes. Once we got away from Numbers, Curly stopped and knelt at the sidewalk. It took me couple of minutes to realize what was happening to him. He was throwing up.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't know. I swear I didn't know." I had to tell him that I didn't go to that bar on purpose. It was important to me that he knew that I didn't go to that place on purpose.
I stooped beside him holding him while he convulsed in dry heaves. I took out my handkerchief and pushed it into his hand not knowing what else I could do to help him. The events inside the bar had affected him in a way that I couldn't understand.
He was the guardian angel in my dreams and just like he promised me in my dreams he didn't allow anyone hurt me.
He eyed my white handkerchief, a frown in his face. "You sure you wanna spoil this?"
God this was also one stubborn difficult man!
"What do you think you were doing in that bar huh? What the hell were you thinking? Do you even know that there are places like that? Do you know what happens to people like you who go into places like that?" He shouted at me.
"I'm sorry," I apologized, not wanting to disappoint him.
"Why the hell are you apologizing to me? I'm not your father." His words cut into me with such a force that made me gasp. In a flash of a second his angry blue flashing eyes softened.
"Come on Blondie," he said, getting to his feet "I need to eat, my treat- I will buy dinner. I don't think right when I'm hungry."
Did he call me 'Blondie?' What next?
"Who are you?" I asked without moving. "Do you know me?"
"Oh, didn't I introduce myself? I'm David Starsky. You can call me Starsky or David, or when you know me enough, you can call me Dave, but… you can never call me Davey, do you understand?"
Not Davey? Maybe that's what his girl friend calls him.
"Err, I... I arr.. I'm Kenneth Hutchinson," I introduced myself, but felt that he already knew me, anyway.
"Oh, nice name," he said, smiling. "So Kenny," he continued.
Oh No, Not Kenny--
"What are you doing here in San Francisco" he asked.
"Police academy." I felt stupid. Here I am, joining the police academy, but cannot even defend myself, cannot even stay out of a place I was not supposed to go. What would've Father said if he knew?
"Really? You? Police academy?"
Was he making fun of me? I felt my anger rising. "What do you mean by that?"
"I mean someone like 'you'. I'm sure you have enough money to do whatever you want, but you want to go to the Police academy? Come on, Kenny. That doesn't sound normal!" he teased me.
I hated that name. That's what the high school bullies called out to taunt me.
Starsky looked straight into my eyes. No... not just into my eyes - he looked straight into my heart, my soul. I felt as if he could creep into my head, my thoughts and see who I'm. I felt as if he could read my mind, and see who I really am.
"What should I call you? Kenneth? Ken? You don't sound like any of them." He shook his head. "Hutchinson? Couldn't you have chosen an easy name?"
Was he mad of my name, now?
"Not my fault," I grumbled. Who is this man, and what was he doing in my dreams? "I don't even know you- Not real. This cannot be happening."
"Hutch! That is exactly what you look like," he snapped his fingers, obviously considering himself very clever.
"What does that supposed to mean?" Hutch? I look like a 'Hutch'? Is he calling me Hutch, now? Strange enough though that had some comfort in it. More personal. I liked the name. No one had ever called me that. But do I look like a 'hutch'?
David Starsky walked with a swagger and an extra bounce. "So tell me, Hutch, why did you decide to join the Police academy when you are obviously rich," He turned his head and gave me a lop-sided grin. I felt something stir inside me. That smile. Those eyes. This is someone I know so well, though I also know I had never met him before; at least not for real!
"I'm not rich- that would be my father. I never wanted his money."
Starsky was silent for a while, until we reached some burger place. Burgers! Oh, man, looks like he is a junk food captain. Didn't see that coming.
"Ah, here we are. Trust me, Hutch, you have never eaten anything like this before," he said, rubbing his hands together with such an enthusiasm.
He didn't look like someone who ate junk food. He was lean, well built, and yes… handsome. But he was about to order burgers. How could he eat all this grease? I shook my head in disbelief.
"You eat this stuff?" I asked, once his 'house special' burger orders and two chocolate milk shakes were in front of us.
"What do you mean by this stuff? Are you telling me at you have never eaten real food?"
"You call this real food?" I asked, feeling comfortable to say anything I wanted to this mystery man sitting with me.
"Just shut up and eat it first, then you can tell me whether this is real or not. Oh, you are not sure whether I' am real or not either. You keep on saying that, Hutch, what's your problem?"
I felt uneasy, again. I looked away trying to avoid his eyes. If he looks into my eyes I was so sure he would read my mind. How could I tell him that I had dreams of him when I couldn't believe it myself?
"So… have you made up your mind?" he asked. Didn't sound like he was going to let this go.
"About what?" I asked.
"Whether I'm real or not?"
"I don't know what you are talking about," I said, trying to concentrate on the giant burgers I had on my plate.
"Oh for heaven's sake eat that – Will ya?"
I bit into the burger to avoid making him annoyed, and it did taste good. "Hmm... not bad," I managed to say, and Starsky smiled. "But these things could kill you" I couldn't keep my big mouth shut, and his smile disappeared.
I managed to eat just half the burger and drink half of the milk shake. Starsky had finished everything that was on his plate, and looked a very happy man.
I remembered the sensation I felt when he touched me at the bar. It was a like an electric bolt. Was it just static? I'm sure he felt something as well because his eyes flashed. Yes he had felt it too. But what is it? A sense of familiarity. As if I have known him for years and years, and as if I was waiting for him. As if I was waiting for this moment to happen. Call it fate- call it destiny. I knew this man was going to change my life forever.
Starsky yawned. He looked tired.
"Let us get back to the Motel - I'm tired."
What did he say? Go to the Motel? 'Let us' go to the Motel?' Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God- I didn't dare look at him.
"Aren't you tired? Do you want to go on another expedition? If you do, you are by yourself, Blondie. I'm not going to save your ass again tonight. I'm dead tired. So you better get back to Sunshine!" He demanded.
I tried very hard to say something, but my mind was all blank.
I was so in to my thoughts and the dreams, that I never for a moment considered him be just another man at the bar looking for someone to hook up. Of course! Why else would he be there? God, what a fool have I been? How can I get myself out if this? He is gay, and he might be thinking I'm too.
"What?" he growled.
"Err, Umm... well, you know, I'm not that tired. So why don't you go, and err… I will just sit here for a little while." I tried my best to not offend him.
"Oh, no. You are not! Come on. Get your butt off that chair."
Oh Man! I'm in big trouble!
"Are you going to the Sunshine?" I asked him.
"Of course I am. Where else do you think I'm gonna sleep?"
Was he implying that he wants to sleep with me?
"Hey, what's wrong, man? Are you okay?" he asked.
"Ya... ya. I'm fine, just need some air. I will go back in a minute. I'm alright, really." I felt stupid- So stupid.
His expression changed. He seemed to be thinking of something else, and then he sat back. Oh, no. He is not going to leave. "Aren't you going?" I asked.
"No. Not until you tell me what is going on in that blond head of yours," he said. He wasn't smiling anymore.
This was too much. I was scared and helpless. Who does he think he is?
"Stop. Just stop it!" I shouted at him "I don't know who you are- You... you... just appear at this bar, and you bust me out of it. I have this feeling that you know me. I just don't know what the hell it is but I feel that you know me, and you know,. I feel like I know you too."
You are not real- You are not real I kept telling myself- You are just a dream.
"So have you seen me in your dreams then?"
Oh my God! He can read my mind- He really CAN READ MY MIND.
"Who are you?" I begged, wanting to know the real identity of this man.
"I told you who I'm"
"Not just your name. The real you, please."
"This is me." Starsky looked confused. "The real me. The real David Starsky in flesh and bone. I don't know what you are talking about, and I can assure you that we have never met before."
"Then how did you find me? I mean it was like you were there just for me." And it was like I was waiting for you.
"It just happened, okay. I was at the Motel office when you checked in, and later I saw you walking along the streets… and I didn't have anything else to do … so… I just followed you"
Did he say he followed me from the Motel?
"What??? WHAT? YOU followed me? Jesus! Are you telling me that you just happened to see me, and you just happened to follow me?"
"Like I said, I had nothing else to do. I was bored- and -- Aren't you glad that I followed you huh? Listen, I just happened to be there to get you out of a bad situation. I was at the right place at the right moment. Lucky you, Hutch! "
"I'm not a poor little rich kid, okay? I can take care of myself- I don't need some guardian angel looking over me."
Guardian angel! That's what he was- He was not real. But he is here with me. And he saved me from that hell hole."You don't understand. You followed me. I mean you- You followed me. This is not happening to me," I couldn't help say.
He stood up.
"Okay, suit yourself- I'm out of here. I'm too tired to fight with you, and I'm going to sleep," he said, piercing my soul with his intense stare. He looked kind of angry and serious.
"By the way," he continued "Just so that you know, I have my own room and my own bed! And the blonds I prefer have a different set of curves. So don't get any ideas in that blond head of yours."
Oh My God- Now I was more than sure that he can read my mind- He knew what I was thinking of him. I felt my ears and my whole face burning, and I was embarrassed beyond words. Serves me right to think something like that of him. Of course he is not gay! How could I have even thought of something like that? Stupid me!
He stood up and walked away without looking back. I felt a loneliness coming over me. I knew him just for few hours and I already missed him. Well, I had known him for two weeks- at least in my dreams!
Is this guy for real? Is he real? I still couldn't decide.
A couple of minutes later I got back to the Sunshine and showered. I didn't know how tired I was until my head touched the pillow. I realized that I had not even thanked him for saving me -- saving my life, most probably. God what a prick I am. I wish I knew which room he was staying in- He said he was at Sunshine. Will the receptionist tell me if I asked? One way or another, I will find you tomorrow, David Starsky. I will find you.
Chapter 3: The beginning of a friendship
Hutch woke up early next morning. He had a habit of waking up early, and jogging for 30-45 min before beginning the day's work, but he wasn't planning to jog today.
I'm going to sit at the Motel office and wait the whole day if I have to – He was determined to get hold of his mystery man, David Starsky, today.
He showered and put on some casual cloths and walked towards the office. It was 7.00 in the morning. Hutch was a little bit hopeful when he saw that same girl at the counter.
"Good morning," she said, flashing her beautiful smile.
"Good morning. Beautiful day," Hutch said walking towards the coffee pot at the corner. "Do you know whether David Starsky is up yet?" He asked very casually, pouring coffee into a cup.
"Well… You are the first to drink our coffee," she said, turning her attention back to making notes of the guests who were checking-out today, and scribbling down maintenance requests.
Hutch smiled at her and went to get a cup of coffee for himself. He was not much of a coffee drinker but that was the best way to kill time until Starsky appeared.
"I forgot to ask him to meet me here in the morning and I couldn't ask for his room number," Hutch said, hoping the receptionist will get the hint and give him some information.
The girl noticed that Starsky was staying right next to Hutch's room. She looked at Hutch, debating whether she should tell him where Starsky was or not. She decided against it. Although Hutch looked like a decent guy she didn't want to do anything stupid that could get her fired.
Hutch sat in the office where he can clearly see most of the rooms of the Motel. He saw the door of the room next to his open and Starsky coming out of it.
Seeing Starsky in the room next to his was a little bit too much for Hutch. The coffee that was going down the throat just decided to take another route and Hutch broke into a series of coughs splattering coffee all over him.
"Do you have a habit of spilling everything you drink?" A familiar voice made him look up. Starsky stood at the door, hands in his pockets.
Starsky walked straight towards the coffee pot and poured himself a drink. He didn't look very happy. "Stupid idiot! Waking up this early, showering, making noises… woke me up at six on a Saturday!" Starsky muttered. He was sleeping so well until Hutch had started to shower. With all that noise of water running through the pipelines he may as well slept near the railroad. What the hell was Hutch doing so early in the morning? If this was Hutch's normal routine, Starsky could see what he could expect in the future, and he didn't like it a bit!
"Well Good morning to you too!" Hutch smiled. Starsky's foul mood indicated very clearly that he wasn't a morning person.
"What is so good about it?" Starsky ignored Hutch, sitting at another table and drinking his coffee. He had the morning paper in front of him. Hutch came and joined Starsky at his table, glancing at him time to time to see whether he was out of his foul mood. Starsky's eyes were glued to the paper. Hutch wasn't sure whether he was actually reading it or just staring at it. His eyes didn't move, Hutch noticed, until he was on his 3rd cup of coffee.
Two cups of good strong coffee was all he needed to wriggle out of his morning moodiness but what Starsky was having right now was no coffee; Just some sorry excuse of a brown liquid. To make things worse, Hutch sat in front of him, looking all happy and content after waking up when it was still dark outside. Six o'clock in the morning was practically still night for Starsky on a Saturday. After coming home from Vietnam he indulged himself by sleeping as long as he could, to catch up for all the sleep he missed during his military career.
Ruffling of the paper, Hutch decided, meant that Starsky was actually reading, now. After sometime Starsky began to hum softly, and Hutch felt he could approach him without getting his head bitten off.
"Starsky," Hutch called out, finally feeling safe to talk to him.
"Hmmm" Starsky held the paper in front of him, and Hutch couldn't see his face.
"I err… " Hutch searched for words to Thank Starsky. "I ummm … wanted to say err… Thanks for yesterday."
'Thanks for yesterday'… Is that all what I could think of ….? He makes me feel like a teenager on a first date.. I hate this!
Hutch had wanted to make a better impression on Starsky today, and this was all what he managed to do. Starsky bit back his amusement. He was finally feeling 'human' after all the coffee he had.
He wished he could see Hutch's face. Must be blushing again. Well Hutch you brought it on yourself!
"Yesterday? What did I do yesterday for you to thank me like that?" He put the paper down and keeping a straight face, without a hint of smile; He stared at Hutch knowing very well that this was the 'look' that made people squirm in their seats.
Hutch looked away and scratched the back of his neck, desperately struggling to say something in a way that would make sense.
"You got me out of that tight spot at Numbers." He finally managed to say.
"Numbers? You were at Numbers? That's interesting!" Starsky squinted his eyes.
"You don't remember?" Hutch couldn't say whether Starsky was telling the truth or not. All he saw was a pair of dark blue eyes that didn't reveal a thing.
"Remember what?" Starsky asked. "Do I even know you?"
Hutch was speechless, wondering whether what happened yesterday was yet another dream. No- NO- I will try again;
"Starsky, we met yesterday at Numbers," Hutch began.
"Are you crazy or what? I'm not 'that' type. The blonds I prefer--"
"Yeah yeah," Hutch cut Starsky off effectively. "I know all about that. What I'm saying is that I went to Numbers to get a drink--"
"You went to Numbers?"
"I didn't know what sort of a place it was- Okay?" Hutch said defensively. "I have never been to Bay City before. You said you followed me, and you busted me out of that place. Come on Starsky, you got to remember that. Stop playing the fool, you even bought me a burger and milkshake afterwards"
"And then what? Don't tell me we went to bed together too?" Starsky enjoyed himself immensely.
"No- God!" Hutch gasped.
"We didn't? Hmm, of course, you don't have the right curves. So, then what are you thanking me for?"
"Ahh... forget it! Just forget it!" Hutch got up and stormed out of the office- No way he was going to talk to this man again- he was mad!
The receptionist watched this entire episode, half amused. She knew Starsky played the blond guy. "So sweetheart - do you think I will make it to the movies?" Starsky asked with a chuckle. "You bet, Starsky" she answered. Starsky winked at her, and walked out of the office to catch up with Hutch.
"Hey, Hutch. So was I any good in bed?" Starsky shouted at him.
Hutch stopped dead at his heels. He turned his head around, fuming. "That's not funny, Starsky- That's not funny."
It was good to see that Hutch could turn himself into a fireball when he wanted to.
"Got Ya, didn't I? Loosen up, Hutch. So tell me, what are your plans for today?" Starsky asked changing the conversation and getting directly to what he wanted to know.
He was relieved to see Hutch in the morning at the office drinking coffee. This meant that he didn't have to go search of him everywhere in the city. He can easily get him to tell him what he was going to do, and then Starsky could easily keep an eye on him. Now that he knew how inexperienced and naive Hutch was Starsky wasn't planning to let Hutch out of his sight if he could help it.
Hutch's annoyance just melted away at Starsky's words. "I was trying to just see around before I report tomorrow at the academy."
"Ohh, well. I can show you around if you want to."
"You will do that?" Hutch didn't understand why he suddenly felt so happy.
"Sure, Blondie! I know in and out of this place."
"This is your hometown?"
"Yes, and no- I was born and raised in New York. Came here about 10 years ago. So I'm not sure which my real hometown is."
So that's where that accent comes from- Hutch thought.
"Then what are you doing at this Motel? I mean if your home is here?"
"Ohh, I had some business to take care of."
Business that couldn't be done from home? He took a good look at Starsky. He still couldn't understand what type of a person he is. He looked like a 'happy go lucky' guy, but the look he had in his eyes at Numbers was deadly. The way he moved and handled that guy at the bar made Hutch wonder whether Starsky was involved in some kind of dangerous business that he wouldn't talk about. Hutch wasn't threatened by Starsky, but something about him was nothing but normal. If that was the case he didn't want to know about it. He didn't want to change the image of Starsky he had in his mind, his friend, his hero, his angel that kept the monsters away at night. Some angel he is, Hutch thought with a chuckle.
"What are you smiling at?" asked Starsky.
"Never mind- Meet me at the gate at 9.00." Starsky said and disappeared into his room.
Hutch went back to his room and listened to the noises coming from the next room – Starsky's room. The shower ran for sometime and then someone knocked at Starsky's door. Hutch heard the door open.
"Hey Jim, who told you I'm here."
Should be someone Starsky knows, Hutch thought.
"Blaine told me where to find you. Warned me to not wake you up before ten in the morning, but I had to take the chance - need your help with this one."
"Jim, I don't think I have time. You know I'm leaving tomorrow"
"I know, but this is nothing big."
"Okay, tell me about it. I will see what I can do"
Hutch listened- Leaving tomorrow? Starsky is leaving? Where to? And Jim needs help? What kind of help? Who is Jim? The door closed, and now he could only here muffled voices- He tried to listen to what was going on in the other room but gave up-
After about fifteen minutes he heard 'Jim' leaving, and Starsky telling him 'I will call you when I get home later tonight'. So he was not going to stay at the Motel anymore- Checking out today?
"Hey Hutch- are you ready?" He heard Starsky outside his door. Hutch opened the door immediately.
Starsky stood at the door with a big smile. "I will take you on a ride in my car," he said, walking towards a black Mustang.
Wow- how could he afford something like this? He doesn't look like he has money, but the car- Sleek and shiny- not a scratch to be seen- He must be polishing this everyday.
"Like what you're seeing, Hutch?"
"It's Okay," Hutch said, shrugging his shoulders.
Starsky's smile changed into pure disbelief. "What do you mean 'it is OK?, huh? This is a 1968 Mustang- I worked on it for three years. Three years! And you are saying it's just okay?"
"Errr… well I basically don't understand why you would want to spend that much of money and that much of time on a car when you can find one for one tenth of that price that would do the same thing this would do."
"And what is that?"
"Take you from point A to point B."
"Get in," Starsky hissed. He muttered a long stream of words and sentences under his breath. Hutch didn't want to know what they were. Obviously Starsky had a very different opinion about cars.
'Maniac' was a thousand times better word compared to what Starsky was when he drove the Mustang. He just had no patience. He had a knack to drive past every car that was ahead of them.
"Starsky!" Hutch would call out a thousand times that day. Afraid that Starsky would hit someone or rear-end another vehicle, or drive into a ditch.
For Starsky the way he drove was the 'only way' he would know to drive. He couldn't understand why Hutch was so stressed out about his driving. He drove with such precision. What Hutch didn't know was that Starsky was always in control.
Hutch held his breath, hanging dearly onto whatever he could, praying he could get back to the Motel in one piece after this joy ride Starsky was taking him.
"Okay- alright," Hutch yelled. "I get your point- so stop trying to kill me." Having been thrown around the seat he had had enough.
"What point?" Starsky asked innocently.
"That you can get from Point A to Point B by any car but the ride is not the same."
"Oh, you are really smart, Hutch. I would have never thought of that" Starsky teased.
"Yeah, right," Hutch muttered under his breath.
Starsky took Hutch around the town. Showed him places he should avoid at any cost, like the Numbers. Showed him the 'bars' he could go to. Showed the best 'places' to eat, which Hutch didn't agree with, of course. They talked about a lot of things that meant nothing. Starsky didn't ask anything about his personnel life, and Hutch avoided the same though he was dying to know more about Starsky. He was relieved that Starsky didn't bring up the subject of him being 'real' or not- Hutch was very careful to not to say anything that would remind Starsky of that.
"There is one last place I want to show you," Starsky said driving uphill. After about 15 minutes Starsky came to a halt. He got off the car and signaled Hutch to follow him. Starsky then kept on walking along a small path for a while and stopped at a clearing. The view was breathtaking. One could see the whole city from where they were standing.
"You should come here at night," Starsky said, sitting on the ground under the shade of a tree. Hutch did the same. It was peaceful. None of them wanted to talk anymore. They sat side by side, a dark curly head, and a blond staring down the city, thinking of all the events that led up to this moment. Until yesterday they were just two strangers.
But what about tomorrow? Now that the day was coming to an end, Hutch wondered whether he would ever see Starsky again. He remembered the conversation he heard in the morning. Starsky was going back home. Though he said he lived in Bay City Starsky had not revealed anything about his whereabouts. To think of it, Hutch never asked him, because he never got the chance to ask him.
On the other hand Starsky knew exactly when he would see Hutch again- He also sensed what was going on in Hutch's mind. "At what time do you have to be at the academy tomorrow?"
"Well, we just have to report before the end of the day. Classes begin on Monday."
"Sounds like you don't want to go there anymore?" Starsky said recognizing the non-enthusiastic tone in Hutch's voice.
"No, no. I'm looking forward to it- I am, but I don't know, maybe I'm a little bit afraid."
"You know- people see me as the kind of person who does not belong in the Police."
"Well… then show them they are wrong- you can do anything as long as you want it to happen. Never forget that. Nothing else matters."
"You think so?" Hutch needed that encouragement, badly.
"I don't think Hutch I know- You just have to believe it yourself."
Hutch looked at Starsky. This man who came into his life not more than a day ago already made him confident about his abilities, something he had never felt in his life before.
Will I ever see you again Starsky? Hutch's mind constantly asked, but the words didn't spill out of. Was the friendship with Starsky limited to just one day? He sighed- Of course why would someone like Starsky need someone like me?
"Come on we have to go. I have to go home." Starsky got up and started walking back towards the car. They came back to the Motel. Starsky was silent all the way back.
"Where is home?" Hutch asked.
"About an hour of drive,West."
Starsky's mind was pre-occupied. He was thinking of what Jim asked him to do. Wasn't anything big but it meant that he will have to go home early to finish his packing.
"I will see you again, sooner than you think." Starsky smiled.
He is reading my mind again Hutch said to himself. He couldn't help but smile back at Starsky.
"Now don't go anywhere I wouldn't go- and don't do anything I wouldn't do, okay?" Starsky said, adding a salute to his good bye.
Hutch sighed. He came into my life and then left, just like that. He was real. He said he will see me soon.
After checking out of the Motel Starsky drove home. He was glad he met Hutch. Hutch was his 'project' for the next few months, and maybe for sometime after that. He was going to make sure Hutch will survive the academy. There was an instant bonding between them and Starsky knew Hutch felt it too.
He had a lot of things to do. He had to pack his things for tomorrow. He had to get the information he was looking for, but he had to first meet Brady.
He stopped by the 'Brady's Treasures," the antique shop that offered a little bit more than the average antique for a not-so-average customer.
"Hey, Dave, long time - no see man- what brings you here? I know just the thing you want, I got this new--"
"Later, Brady," Starsky cut the conversation short and got to the point. He never wasted time. He laid a photograph in front of Brady. "Do you know where they operate?"
"Dave. Man, you don't want to mess with these guys. They are bad news, my man."
"Do you know where they operate?" Starsky locked his eyes with Brady.
Brady knew when to give up without wasting anymore words. There was no way out when Starsky made up his mind to get what he wanted. Brady didn't want to see Starsky to get anywhere close to the people in that photo but he also knew the daredevil in front of him cannot be stopped.
Brady came closer and whispered what Starsky wanted to hear. A smile tugged at the corner of Starsky's mouth.
"Thanks, Brady." Starsky was already heading out.
"Anytime, my man. Anytime. Just be careful." Brady sighed, shaking head.
Starsky got home; to the home of his Uncle Al and Aunt Rosie. He packed what he needed for the next couple of months. Then he slipped into his 'workroom' area, which he managed to separate from the garage, and dressed up. He chose his 'old man' disguise. He waited for another few hours until it was dark and slipped into the streets through the back window.
After sometime an old man with long hair and a long beard, wearing a long torn robe, limped along the streets. He had a hollow cough. He stopped time to time as if to get his breath back. He walked along the street and turned into an alley. He stopped near a garbage bin and started to look in it.
After sometime a black Ford Sedan pulled up in the alley. Two men, dressed in black, got off and walked towards a building that looked like a warehouse. They tapped on the door, and walked inside.
The longhaired man walked towards the building and disappeared. Ten minutes later the ghostly figure walked away from the building, making his way towards the phone located at the end of the road. He pushed a coin, dialed a number, spoke softly into the phone, and walked into the night, still limping. His work was done, but knew the man on the other end, Jim Hansen, didn't like what he heard. He barely heard the police sirens once he got back home.
A couple of miles away, the tall blond from Minnesota softly snored. His dreams were of the man with dark blue eyes, but with long hair and a long beard.
Chapter 4: Remnants of the past
Starsky woke up at 10 next morning. He heard his Uncle Al and Aunt Rosie in the kitchen. Uncle Al had the morning paper in his hand and pointed at the headline news.
"Know anything about this?" he asked. Starsky eyed the big black letters and shrugged his shoulders.
"Barry Slame linked to ILLEGAL PRESCRIPTION DRUG Ring"
Al read the news article. "Barry Slame, the Chief Pharmacist, has been linked to an illegal and massive drug ring that had been operating using stolen identities from doctors to obtain prescription drugs--"
Barry Slame's right hand man was in the isolated warehouse the previous night, together with their dealers and goods, when the police arrived and caught them red-handed.
"Hi, Davey." Aunt Rosie walked up to Starsky and kissed him on the cheek. "When did you get home last night?"
"Oh, I can't remember Aunt Rosa. What's for breakfast?" he asked eyeing the dishes on the table, glad to be interrupted from the news of the day. He didn't want to listen to what he already knew.
Al stole a glance at his nephew, setting the newspaper aside. He didn't want to see David leave home but this is what David had always wanted, and Al had known that all the way. Al knew that David will turn out to be just like his father. He had a heart of gold. David will never go wrong in his life.
"Your favorite, Davey- blueberry pancakes," Rosie said placing a plate in front of Starsky.
"Did you even pack your things?" Uncle Al asked.
"All done," Starsky said with a mouthful of pancakes.
"Don't talk while eating, Davey," Aunt Rosie scolded him. For her, he will always be the 13 year old kid that came to her life 10 years ago. "When are you leaving?"
Starsky looked at Al and Rosie but said nothing. He didn't want to talk until his mouth was all cleared. Al had to smile at Starsky's effort.
For Al and Rosie, Starsky was like their third son. They had two sons of their own. The oldest, Jake, was four years older than Starsky, married and living in Chicago. He was a lawyer. The second, Jason, a teacher that worked with handicapped children, was two years younger than Starsky and thought the world of Starsky from the day he came to live with them. Starsky was very patient with Jason. Al thought that it was Jason who had broken through all the barriers Starsky had built around him when he came to live with them as a kid and later again when he returned from Viet-Nam.
Losing his father when he was 13 years old, and been sent from home in New York to live with relatives in California was too much for little David Starsky. The first year was full of rage tantrums and screams, but when Jason was around, David Starsky was different. He had a soft patch for little Jason, and Jason adored Starsky. Ten years later, Al could see that they still felt the same about each other. David Starsky would die for his friends and family. How different was he from his brother Nicholas. Nick was not like David, except for his good looks. He didn't have the sense of honesty and loyalty which were the two main strengths of David. Since they never had a chance to grow up together after Starsky was sent to live with them, Nick never had his older brother to put him in place. David felt guilty, and believed that it was his fault that Nick had turned out to be a little monster, but Al knew better. Even if there were ten David Starskys in Nick's life, he would have still turned out to be a low life criminal. It was difficult to imagine that Nick and Starsky had the same father, Michael Starsky. A loving husband, a good father, a hardworking cop and an honest man, who was gunned down, just for those reasons.
Sending David away from home was the toughest decision Rachel Starsky had made in her life. She wanted David to be safe and away from all the ugliness that surrounded them. Losing a father at 13 was not something that should have happened to any kid. Rachel didn't know how to control David, and did the best she should think of. He needed a father figure and Rachel sent him to California to live with her brother-in-law and his family. There was no other way out than sending him away.
David Starsky survived High School. He was drafted 2 months after that. He was a restless soul who couldn't stay still for longer than five seconds. He was good at multitasking. He was good at everything he was given to do. That sometimes also turned to be the downfall in the military. He was with the military for 3 years. He had been a POW for four months.
When David Starsky came back from Nam, he was a mess. He had been treated for his physical injuries for four months at the military hospital. He was under observation for another month to evaluate his mental condition, to make sure he was 'fit enough' to be released to the 'normal' society. He got through all that, but he was still a mess, and he knew it. The horrors he had to face in Nam were never going to leave him. He had to live with all of that. He tried to lock the memories in his head, but something would trigger the release of those images on a daily basis that ended up with him bursting into rages that couldn't be controlled by anyone.
Jason was the only one who could get to him. Starsky still wouldn't open up even to Jason but controlled himself around Jason. One day, Jason found Starsky thrashing around the bed, screaming something in a foreign language "Chạy chay .. chay cho cuộc sống của bạn." Jason assumed they were some Vietnamese words Starsky may have picked up while in Nam. He didn't know that Starsky had learnt the language during the military training and could speak it fluently.
Starsky was in pain, and Jason couldn't watch that anguish. He managed to wake him up and cradle him in his arms rocking him back and forth like a child. No one else could touch Starsky at times like this. "What happened to you?" Jason asked. "Hell," was the only word that escaped Starsky that day. Next minute Al found Jason crying, and Starsky calming him down. "Come on, Jay. It wasn't that bad, I just had a bad dream," Starsky said soothingly.
Al knew Starsky tried to spare the people he loved from the pain he had gone through. He would still take care of the ones he loved forgetting his own pain.
After the basic training in the military, Starsky was given an additional 6 months of Special Assignment training. He was assigned to Special Forces Operations. He learnt the Vietnamese language, and was trained to kill. He could move quickly and quietly like a cat. He could go in, complete his task and get out in a split second. The problem for Starsky was not his ability, but his willingness to perform what he was asked to. Starsky didn't like what he had to do. But it was his job, his duty, what his country asked him to do. Instead of focusing in 'kill or be killed' Starsky's motto was 'kill or get your men killed'. It made his job a little bit easier, and it saved the lives of his men until one fateful day.
Al never asked Starsky about what he had gone through. He didn't want him to re-live what he had gone through in 'hell'. But he knew Starsky was slipping from them, and Al didn't know what to do. Again, John Blaine, the police officer who helped Starsky as a teenager to survive the streets, who taught Starsky how to fight the correct way and if needed, the not-so-clean way, who got Starsky through High School life, who was a surrogate father to Starsky, found himself again in Starsky's life.
Blaine knew that if something wasn't done, Starsky could go downhill without any warning. He had a lot going in his head and didn't want to open up. Until he was ready to break down the walls Blaine knew he had to keep Starsky under close scrutiny. Many others like Starsky, who went to Nam didn't make it back home. From the ones who made it back many were institutionalized because they were either physically or mentally handicapped; some killed themselves because they couldn't handle the stress and the nightmares that haunted them; some took another turn and moved towards the dark side of life. Starsky was at a stage where anything could happen. Sometimes Blaine felt that the ones who died in Nam were luckier than the ones survived.
He had to give Starsky something to do. That was the only way he could keep him from spiraling down into a place of no return. Upon Al's request he had gone to meet Starsky, and found him sitting at the kitchen table staring into the open space out of the window.
"Dave, son, how are you doing?" Blaine's voice warmed up to him.
"What brings you here?" Starsky gave him the 'No chit chats- just get to the point' look.
"I need your help," Starsky's eyes narrowed but said nothing.
"I need you on the street" Blaine continued.
Starsky's stare remained unchanged.
Blaine knew Starsky was not just an average soldier in Nam. But then he also didn't know the extent of Starsky's true abilities.
"Only if I can work alone."
Blaine didn't know what to make out of that remark. He wasn't thinking of having someone else work together with Starsky.
Just like that Starsky started to help Blaine in catching criminals. He felt alive for the first time since coming back from fighting someone else's war in Nam. After another month, Starsky got a job at a cab company. Being a taxi driver helped him with what he had to do for Blaine. Most of the time it was nothing more than getting some information from the streets about who is involved with whom, or who is meeting with whom, or what is going on where. Most of the information came through Starsky's informants. Blaine didn't know who Starsky's sources were and he didn't want to know. Blaine's right-hand man Jim knew that Starsky can do much more than providing some petty information and wanted Starsky to play an active role in his 'projects'. Starsky lived for Jim's assignments. He enjoyed being the original source of information than a mere messenger. Blaine did not approve of Jim's requests but he couldn't stop Starsky from doing what he wanted to do.
One year after serving as a spy for Blaine and Jim, Blaine had suggested Starsky become a Police officer himself. Getting into the academy was easy for someone like Starsky. So just like that, his spying assignments ended the day before the academy begun.
"Davey, you are not eating." Aunt Rosa's accusation made him sit straight. Starsky was so deep in his thoughts and picking on his food, he had made his pancakes into a pile of fine powder.
"Oh, sorry, Aunt Rosa. I was just thinking how I was supposed to survive the academy without your cooking."
Al smiled and left the kitchen. Starsky just knew the correct thing to say to waddle out of a bad situation.
"Oh, my poor Davey, do you think they will allow me to send a basket of goods every now and then?" She asked, hugging and patting him on his cheeks.
"Oh, don't worry, Aunt Rosa, I think they have a special diet for us there, and we have to eat that." Starsky didn't want to eat Aunt Rosa's 'goodies' if he could help it.
In the afternoon Starsky packed his things to his Black Mustang. He had worked on this beauty for three years. It had been badly damaged after an accident, and was sold to Al by the owner, for parts. Al was a used-car dealer, and Starsky during High School helped Al in his dealership, and worked with Merle, the city's best car mechanic.
Blaine had told Al that the only way to keep Starsky out of trouble was to keep him occupied all the time, so that he wouldn't have time to think of trouble. So Al gave the beat up Mustang to Starsky, one day. "Well Davey, This thing is yours- you get this car fixed anyway you want, but you find the money to do it." Al had never seen Starsky that excited any day in his life, before or after. The Black Mustang became his life project. He had still not quite finished it by the time he was drafted. He completed the work on it after getting back from Nam. It was another one thing that kept him sane.
Packed with his things in his car, Starsky bid Good bye to his family.
Jason watched until the car disappeared at the corner of the street, turning right. His eyes were brimming with tears. 'This is not Nam, this time he will not be messed up.' Jason took a deep breath and went inside. He stood in the middle of Starsky's room.
Al watched Jason wiping his cheek with the back of his hand, sitting on Starsky's bed.
"He will be alright, Jay."
"Pa, he is not alright. He still has nightmares. He needs someone to be with him when the bad guys get to him at night - what if his roommate is an asshole? Dave needs someone to be with him when he wakes up at night. He needs someone who will understand."
Jason's experiences with working with handicapped kids helped him to deal with Starsky's out bursts. He was worried that Starsky was not ready to be alone. Not yet. He wondered whether he will ever be. The only way for Starsky to get rid of his nightmares was to talk about what happened. Jason didn't know how he got through the mental evaluation at the hospital before he was released. 'He must have hypnotized everyone else in the room to believe that he was good as gold' he mused. Oh yes- Starsky can do anything with those eyes of his.
Hutch arrived at the academy grounds just before one o'clock. He had reported at the office, and got his schedule and keys to his room that will be home for the next 6 months. His roommate was not in yet. Hutch unpacked his belongings, arranged the study table, made the bed, and was just thinking of going out to walk around and try to get to know the others when he heard someone shouting outside.
"Speak of the devil, David Starsky, is that you?"
Hutch forgot to let go of the breath he inhaled. Starsky? Starsky is here? Why? How?
Then he heard the familiar drawl. "Jarrrrrrard Sloan – now what the heck are you doin' here?"
"What do you think Dave? I'm joining the academy."
"Good for you man, so am I."
What? WHAT? Starsky joining the police academy? So is this where he was leaving to?
He was debating whether he should go out or not when the door knob turned and Starsky walked inside, with that cheeky smile, grinning ear to ear.
"Hi Hutch, didn't know whether you were in or not- How about that? so you are my roommate."
Hutch glared at him. "You knew, but you never told me."
"Well you NEVER asked." Starsky shrugged.
"Never asked? How could I ask when I didn't know?"
"Isn't that the whole purpose of asking? To know what you don't know?"
Hutch scowled, not knowing whether to hate him for not telling him or to hug him for being his roommate. This means Starsky and he Hutch can be pals, and they can hang out together. He found himself smiling.
Hutch watched Starsky methodically sorting out his thing. It didn't take him more than ten minutes to unpack, put away things, make his bed, and arrange his table. Everything was done in such a precision and neatness that Hutch couldn't help but admire how nice it was with Starsky's things compared to his 'arrangements'.
"Enjoying the view, Blondie?"
"When did you get here?"
"Just a little while ago? How did you know?"
"That we were going to be roommates?"
"Aren't you glad we are?"
"I am, but I'm asking how you knew?"
"I will tell you how I knew IF you tell me why you thought that I was not REAL?"
Oh God- he has not forgotten. How on earth am I going to tell him about the dreams? He will think I'm some kind of a freak.
"Huh?" That's all what escaped from Hutch.
"Don't tell me that you don't know what am talking about because I know, that you know, that I know what I'm talking about?"
"My point exactly - now come on, we'll get outside and meet our fellow policemen." Starsky headed towards the door. Hutch grabbed his jacket and followed him relieved that he wouldn't have to answer Starsky's questions for now. Sooner or later he will have to tell him about the dreams. Starsky will either think he is making it up or that he is mad.
Hutch noticed that making friends came easy to Starsky. It was as if he already knew all of them. Hutch was glad he was with him because he didn't know how to approach all these men. All of them looked physically fit and well built. Hutch knew that most of them probably thought that Hutch was a misfit with the crowd. Oh, he was sure of that because of the remarks some of them made.
"Are you sure you are in the correct place kid?"
"I don't think you want to spoil your thousand dollar suit, pretty boy?"
"Took the wrong turn?"
"I think Hollywood is on the other side."
Hutch patiently smiled or ignored all sneers. Starsky noticed and heard everything that happened. He felt that some were not going to make life easy for Hutch. Hutch will have to learn to fight his battles by himself. But Starsky made a mental note to keep an eye on the tall blond. He is my roommate, and no one is going to mess with him, other than me.
Once they were back in their room, Starsky went through the subject list they will have to take during the next six months. Communication, Law, Investigative procedures, Professional demeanor, Physical fitness.
"Can you believe this, only 112 hours on Physical fitness. Everything else is for this other shit" Starsky hated studying. He wanted to do something 'active' all the time, other than studying.
"Well Starsky 112 hours is 13% of the total time and I think it is a lot compared to the number of hours we spent on these other subtopics. Now see, when once we are Police officers all our decisions, actions will be based on these 'shit' you are talking about, and even the physical activity…" Hutch stopped seeing the blazing eyes of Starsky.
"What are you? Some kind of a robot who gets on when a button is pushed? "
"What I was trying to say," Hutch tried.
"I have already seen, Blondie. No matter what you learn from these books, if you can't get your act together, and if you are not physically FIT, you will not survive one fucking second on the fucking streets!"
Hutch didn't want to argue.
This man has serious issues, Hutch thought. You don't even have to push one of his buttons; just looking at one will set him off. But he knew that I was his roommate, and he followed me … he cared enough to come inside The Numbers looking for me, and that was not a place he would have gone to judging by how he threw up when he got out of that place. So his business in town was me? Is that why he was staying at Sunshine?
"Need a dollar, Hutch?"
"For your thoughts?"
"I'm tired, Starsky, Need to sleep-"
"Sure- I have to run a little bit before sleeping," Starsky said, jumping off the bed. In a minute, dressed in his running pants, Starsky was out of the door.
Sometimes Starsky would need to run before he could get to sleep. He had to make himself tired to get rid of his nightmares because a tired Starsky slept well.
It was two hours before Starsky got back to his room. Hutch had fallen asleep, and didn't even stir when Starsky entered the room. Starsky could move like a cat on the prowl without making any noise. In a minute, in room 234 in the Police academy dorm, two men were fast asleep.
The first couple of weeks of the academy were exciting, painful, and stressful. One would think that for someone who was in the military, rules to obey and orders to follow would come by easy, but Starsky could hardly stay still, never could concentrate in class, and seems to forget each and every rule that had to be obeyed. Hutch realized that he would have to keep an eye on Starsky or else he will be kicked off the academy for his carelessness. Starsky was extremely intelligent. He just didn't care enough about 'studying'; but for Hutch, not caring about studies was never an option. He was as intelligent as Starsky with the will to learn and study that made him unbeatable. He excelled in everything except in Physical activity, in which Starsky was unbeatable.
Hutch noticed throughout the weeks how Starsky was dead beat when he got to the room. He fell on to the bed and was asleep within seconds. Hutch noticed that Satrsky went jogging, not jogging but 'running' or sprinting' Hutch thought grimly, every night for an hour or two. He knew that Starsky who had a very friendly nature didn't let anyone get close to him despite all his friendliness. He didn't share himself with anyone. Not even with Hutch. Hutch still didn't know much about his roommate. He had noticed during shower time that Starsky had many scars on his body. There was one big nasty one on his right leg, and when asked about it Starsky had simply said that it was an accident. Hutch didn't want to ask anymore because he felt that Starsky didn't want to talk about it. Then he noticed that Starsky would spend time with one Jarrard Sloan than others. One Saturday, Starsky disappeared in the morning with Jarrard, and come back after night fall. Hutch sensed that Starsky was troubled, and didn't appreciate any company for the moment.
They went to sleep without much talk and some noise woke up Hutch in the middle of the night. He couldn't understand what it was but then heard that Starsky mumbling something in his sleep. He switched on the light and saw that Starsky was tossing and turning on the bed, shaking his head side to side. The tortured look on his face reflected the pain he was feeling. He is having a nightmare.
"Starsky, wake up." Hutch came near the bed and tried to wake up Starsky.
Starsky didn't hear anything. 'He is fighting something, someone'.
"Chạy chay… chay cho cuộc sống của bạn," Starsky shouted. This was too much for Hutch. Is he talking in some alien language? Hutch felt scared. Who is this man? Who is Starsky?
"Wake up, Starsky. Wakeup." Hutch shook Starsky until he opened his eyes.
Starsky was trembling, his eyes widened in horror. He grabbed Hutch's shirt with both hands, looking into Hutch's eyes trying to identify who is.
"Starsky, it is me Hutch. You were having a nightmare. I had to wake you up."
Starsky stared at Hutch for a few seconds, and his expression changed after some time. Hutch could see a thin sheen of sweat on his face.
Starsky slowly let go of Hutch's shirt.
"Starsky, talk to me." Hutch pleaded.
"Go sleep, Blondie- I'm okay," Starsky groaned, falling back onto his pillow, staring at the ceiling.
"I'm okay, Hutch. Don't worry." Starsky smiled weakly.
He doesn't want anyone to see his suffering. Will he ever talk to me about his life?
Hutch went back to bed though he knew he couldn't go back to sleep.
Starsky was back in the jungle. The last couple of weeks he had slept peacefully. He had discovered that the secret to get rid of his nightmares was to physically exhaust him. There were days he slept like a baby even without his 'physical torture' he subjected himself to. Then there were days he woke up screaming in Vietnamese over and over again. 'Run, run. Run fast - save yourself.' That’s what Hutch heard, and that's also what Jason heard during Starsky's nightmares.
"Starsky," Hutch's voice broke the silence of the night.
"Go to sleep, Hutch."
"I can't. You have to talk to me." Hutch turned and lay on his left side, watching Starsky across the room.
"Are you kidding me? You wanna talk? It is 2 o'clock in the morning, and you wanna talk?"
"You are not sleeping either."
"There is nothin' to talk."
"What was your dream about? You were saying something in some weird language"
"Ahhh maybe aliens abducted me." Starsky said, trying to wriggle out of the conversation.
"Not funny, Starsky."
"We'll talk later. Now sleep."
"I will, if you go to sleep first."
"I guess I'll have to take a break." Starsky got off the bed.
"No, NO. You are not going out now- not at this time! God Starsky, Don't. Please... I-- I will not ask any questions anymore, please" Hutch felt helpless, and he was at the door in a flash, blocking it.
"It will help me sleep." Starsky explained.
"Is that why you run every day?" Hutch asked softly.
"What do you think?"
"I don't know what to think- Please don't go out at this time, Starsk. Please!"
Hutch had called him Starsk. No one had called him that before.
"What a time to give me a nickname, Blondie, now get out of my way."
"No- you will have to get through me and I will... what nickname?"
"Never mind, now get your ass off that door, Hutch"
"No." Hutch was determined to not to let Starsky go out, but when he saw Starsky's blue eyes turned into almost black he didn't feel safe anymore. That look. That killer look.
"Starsk?" Hutch's voice was almost a whisper.
Starsky stared at Hutch watching him turn pale. After a few minutes Hutch moved away, and Starsky stormed out, closing the door behind him. Once the cool breeze hit his face he felt better. He leaned against the door for a minute. The frightened look On Hutch's face was too much. Starsky sighed, shaking his head; he opened the door and went back in. Hutch was sitting on Starsky's bed with his head on his palms. He looked up when he heard the door and couldn't believe when he saw Starsky entering the room.
Starsky walked over and sat beside Hutch, sliding his arm over Hutch's shoulders. "Hutch I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you but I'm afraid that's what'll happen to you being my friend."
"What is that supposed to men? Huh? What's that supposed to mean? Do you know that I have never had a real friend like in my whole life? Do you think I have not noticed how you stick with me whenever some guy tries to say something or do something to hurt me? And you are telling me that I will get hurt because of you? Are you kidding me, Starsk? Who saved me the first day I was here? Who has been watching my 'ass' from the day I got here? Can you explain that?"
"You don't know anything about me."
"Then why don't you tell me." Hutch challenged.
"You don't want to know."
"Just try me."
"What if I tell you that I was a hit man - that I was hired to kill." Starsky's piercing blue eyes were on Hutch, and Hutch felt his mouth go dry.
No this is not true. He is testing me. He CANNOT be a hit man. He cannot be an Assassin. Not Starsky. God NO! But… the way he had that guy at Numbers, on the floor, within a blink of the eye? Then again … If he was a hit man how could he be in the academy? None of this make sense, but then all those scars on him.?
Starsky watched the emotions playing on Hutch's face.
"If you were hit man, you cannot be in the academy, Starsk. So cut the crap," he finally managed.
"I told you the truth, Hutch. I was a hit man, and I was paid for killing."
"No, no. This doesn't make any sense. You are not a killer, Starsk, I know you are not a killer." Hutch instantly remembered something from his dreams. The night of last day at the motel he dreamt of Starsky, with longhair and a long beard. What did that mean? Was that his disguise when he was on one of his assignments? NO—NO. Starsky was never a killer. What am I thinking?
"For heaven's sake, Starsky, stop talking in riddles and tell me what is going on. Stop wasting words and tell me the god-damn- truth."
"That is the god-damn-truth Hutch. I was paid to kill."
It suddenly dawned on Hutch what Starsky were before he joined the academy.
Of course he would have identified him as a hit man- That is just like him. What a fool am I? All those scars on his body and that big one on the leg- Of course, that is why he walks funny- he kind of limps and only if you look closely you can see that.
"You were in the military, weren't you? You were in Nam. God, Starsk. I should have known," Hutch asked selecting his words carefully. Hutch felt the heavy weight lifting off his shoulders, but felt a thousand times more pain. He could not even imagine what Starsky must have gone through.
"I will tell you what I have done, Hutch. One day, I'll tell you when I'm ready, until then don't think of me as your friend or someone whom you can trust. Like I said, I don't want to hurt you."
"You can never hurt me, Starsk, never! I knew that even before I came to Bay City."
"What?" It was Starsky's turn to be surprised. He had no idea what Hutch was talking about. "you knew me before you came to Bay City?"
"In a way, yes, but you got to keep an open mind. And just listen, okay?"
Hutch told him about the dreams he had before he came to Bay City. How Starsky suddenly appeared one day during a nightmare, and how he was always there for Hutch when he needed him, in his dreams.
Starsky was dumbfounded. He had no explanation as to why Hutch had seen him before actually 'seeing' him for real. How can this be, I got the file about him two weeks before he came to Bay City and looks like that is when his dreams begun. Is this even possible? Hutch dreaming about me taking care of him?
Starsky had not forgotten Hutch's mumbling about him not being 'real,' and he could now understand why Hutch was so surprised to see him that day at Numbers. He remembered how he felt when he first 'physically' touched Hutch while trying to pull him up from the floor. That feeling of an electric surge, as if a connection between two circuits were finally completed.
"Starsk, I think we were meant to meet, it was our destiny, you can laugh at me or say whatever you want, but I believe that you and I were meant to be together." Hutch instantly knew he made a grave mistake by uttering those words. Starsky burst into laughing.
Hutch blushed. Why do I have to say stupid things like that?
But it made Starsky laugh and it was so good to hear Starsky's laugh. It was infectious and before long Hutch was laughing together with him.
Hutch felt much lighter. He knew there was a lot on Starsky's mind, but he will talk to him one day about everything, about his nightmares, about what happened in Nam, about how he got his scars. Just the fact that he was in Nam would do for now until he opens up to him again one day. I can wait buddy, I will wait for a lifetime for you.
"We are going to be Okay, Hutch, We will be OK" Starsky said squeezing Hutch's shoulder. "I think we should get some sleep. We have to go apartment hunting tomorrow. I promised Jarrad."
"He is moving out?"
"He never moved IN, dummy- he has been living with a friend, off-academy, until his wife comes to Bay City."
"Where is she?"
"Doing some nursing exams- She will be here in two weeks, and Jarrard needs to find a decent place to live. So we are going to find one for him. You should come with us."
Hutch didn't disagree.
Both men finally fell asleep until they heard someone pounding on their door next morning.
Hutch managed to walk up to the door and open it only to find two men standing there.
"Is David Starsky here?" The older one asked.
"Arrr, yes. Errr, he is still sleeping," and so was I.
The two men came inside and smiled a knowing smile looking at Starsky.
"Hey, wake up son," The older guy shook Starsky. Son? Is this man Starsky's father? No can't be. He had dark hair but very straight unlike the 'stubborn' curls like Starsky's. No he didn't look like Starsky's father.
Starsky was up in a second, looking at the two men, with one eye at a time, trying to focus on them. Hutch saw that Starsky was still very much asleep.
"He needs his coffee," the younger guy said smiling at the site of Starsky. Whoever they are, they knew Starsky, very well.
"What are you doing here?" Starsky asked trying to get off the bed through the tangled bed sheets.
"Just came to see how you were doing. You didn't go home since coming to the academy." the older man said, accusingly.
"Yeah, never got to it. Sorry Blaine, but I talked to Jay," Starsky said apologetically, "Hey Hutch, meet Captain John Blaine, and Detective Jim Hansen. And this is Hutch, my roommate. I believe you have not met before." Starsky winked at Blaine.
After the simple introductions and pleasantries, Starsky showered and dressed up, "Hutch, I will be back in a minute. Jarrard will show up sometime. Keep him busy with your 20 questions until I get back, will ya?" He left with Blaine and Jim.
Blaine and Jim had come to check out a guy involved in a drug deal that was going down in the city. They had just stopped by to talk to Starsky. Although Jim was hoping Starsky could help them out, Blaine was against it.
"Starsky is not doing his gigs anymore, and Starsky," Blaine said warningly, as soon as he saw the gleam in Starsky's eyes. "Don't even think about it."
Starsky was game for anything. He lived for excitement.
"He is right, Starsky. I shouldn't have even mentioned it," said Jim.
"I'm planning to go home next week, you know, Memorial day weekend and all, we have three days off. I will see whether I can get some news about these guys, but here I don't know that many who can help me with this kind of stuff. What do you say to that? Is that okay?"
"That's different, but no night time prowls anymore." Blaine was adamant. Starsky grinned.
Hutch relieved knowing that Jim was a police officer. The fact that a guy named 'Jim' showed up one day at the Motel asking for help and Starsky checking out of the Motel the same day was back in Hutch's mind. For some reason Hutch felt that Starsky could never be involved in anything bad or wrong. There was something very honest and truthful about him.
So… Hutch thought while waiting for Jarrad to show up. Starsky had been in the war in Nam. He had been drafted while Hutch didn't because he was in College. His father had saved him from getting into the draft. Hutch knew he would never have survived Nam. He would forever be thankful for his father for that.
He can only imagine what Starsky must have been through in those jungles. Hell, I don't even know what to imagine. All those scars, and the pain he must have gone through. He is tiring himself so that he will not get any nightmares at night. In his mind he is still in the jungle fighting his own war. How can I help him, I have to help him, He is my friend but what can I do.
Hutch heard a knock on the door and found Jarrad. He had never got the chance to get to know Jarrard but liked him. He was a tall, olive complexioned guy like Starsky, dark hair but straight, and he was a friend of Starsky. That was enough for Hutch.
Before long Hutch got to know that Jarrad was in the military together with Starsky. He was one of the lucky ones who completed his tour of duty and came home in one piece.
So this is why Starsky spends time with him. They understand each other and what they have been through.
For a moment Hutch wished he had served in the military so that he could have understood and helped Starsky through his nightmares.
"You are a pretty lucky guy, Hutchinson, to have Starsky in your life," Jarrad said.
Tell me something I didn't already know.
"I have never seen anyone as loyal as Starsky. You stick with him, be his friend, and he will be your friend forever. He will never forget. He has been through a lot." Jarrad had a faraway look in his eyes.
Hutch wanted to know what had happened to Starsky, but felt that asking Jarrard about it was not the right thing to do.
"Starsky doesn't talk about what happened in Nam," Hutch said.
"Yeah- No one wants to. I mean no one wants to talk about their life in Nam. It was pure hell. You never know about the next minute of your life. You cannot trust anyone, sometimes not even your own men. Starsky learnt that the hard way."
That comment took Hutch by surprise. He saw the tight line that formed at the corners of Jarrard's mouth. Jarrard looked angry-
So did someone in his own platoon hurt Starsky? Who in the world would want to hurt someone like Starsky?
"He was a POW for four months. Did you know that?"
Hutch was shocked at Jarrad's words. He had heard the horror stories and the torture the POWs underwent in Viet-Nam. And to think that Starsky was in one of those camps for four months was a little too much for Hutch to digest. He felt as if he could kill everyone who ever had ever laid a hand on Starsky and helped make the nightmares that put that terrified look into Starsky's eyes.
Hutch clenched his fists so hard his knuckles turned deadly white.
"If he had not already told you anything, don't ask him. He may not want to talk about those days at all. But I think it will be a little bit easy for you to understand why he is like he is, you know, the bad ass dude with a chip or two on his shoulder." Jarrad tried to turn the conversation into something lighter.
Hutch couldn't help but smile at that comment. "You got that right"
Before Hutch could ask anything else Starsky joined them. Blaine and Jim had left.
The three men later went around Bay City looking at apartments. Jarrad already had some listings for apartments and Starsky knew some places they could check out as well. They finally decided on a one bedroom apartment close to the academy.
Starsky noticed that Hutch was unusually quiet at the end of the day. Something was bothering him."What's with you Hutch?" Starsky asked when once they were back in their room.
Hutch was sitting at his desk and Starsky was at his. They were facing each other.
"Nothing, I'm fine."
"No lying to me, Blondie. Come on, shoot."
What Hutch knew by now is that when Starsky wanted something he'll get it, one way or another. There was no escape.
"I – err... I was thinking of Vanessa."
"What about her?" asked curious Starsky. Hutch never talks about his wife. He had mentioned that they were having problems but had not elaborated on it.
"I wanted her to come to Bay City with me, but she stayed in LA. She is working as a model, you know."
"No. I didn't know. So the lady stays where she can find work. Maybe you can go to LA after the academy. You can get a transfer."
"That wouldn't solve the problem, Starsky."
"She doesn't want me to be a cop"
"Wouldn't suit her lifestyle, and you know, it's not a 'high paying' job anyway."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"She... her plans… what I want... It is complicated, Starsk."
"I'm listening, and I have all the time on my hands, Go on."
"We met when I was in college. She was studying fashion and was doing part time modeling."
"Must be beautiful… I mean if she is a model". He remembered the photo of her Hutch kept on his desk. An attractive brunet with a striking beautiful smile.
"Yes, she is." Hutch fell into a silence- He had a slight smile on his face, but he looked sad.
"Hutch, hey-- Why don't you go home during the next weekend and see her? You'll feel good. I mean she must be feeling lonely without you."
"You don't understand, Starsk. She gave me three months to decide whether I want to stay with her or whether I want to go to the academy."
Starsky couldn't believe what he was hearing. What sort of a wife is she anyway? How could she do something like that to Hutch? Hutch! The sweetest and the gentlest guy he had ever met- During the past few weeks he had become very fond of the blond guy.
Young Hutch had fallen in love with Vanessa completely. For the first time in his life he felt loved. He liked the way she made him feel. The best part of it was that his parents approved of her. They loved her for her beautiful manners. Vanessa knew the right thing to say at the right place, at the right moment. It didn't take that long for Hutch to propose to her. They got married in a beautiful ceremony. Once they started to live together, under the same roof, as husband and wife, Hutch realized that Vanessa was not the person he thought her to be.
Hutch started working at a restaurant to earn some extra money to support Vanessa's lifestyle. Still it wasn't enough, and the nagging and bickering started with money problems. Hutch didn't want to ask his parents for more money, and Vanessa was not making things easier. He saw himself becoming a slave to meet Vanessa's needs. College became a burden. Working during all the free time he had at the restaurant, trying to be a good husband to Vanessa while attending college was no honeymoon. Hutch was falling into a pit he couldn't get out. He had to quit college and find a job- a fulltime job.
"No," was Vanessa's answer. "You have to be a doctor. You have to work a little bit hard Ken. You are not the only person who is in college that has to work. Look at Craig, he is doing two jobs, and he still goes to college." Vanessa knew that Hutch didn't like being compared to someone else. That was her weapon against him.
"Yes, but he doesn't have a wife who spends all his money and nags him for more everyday," snapped Hutch.
"So now this is my fault? You being incapable of handling day-to-day life is my fault? Be a man Ken, Listen to you father. Try to grow up and be a man. Don't you dare blame me for your incompetence."
The conversations became arguments. Arguments changed to a screaming competition at the end. Hutch would storm out of the house and just walk the streets. When he got back home, most of the time, Vanessa would be asleep, with the bedroom door closed and locked. Hutch spent most of his nights on the couch.
"Talk to me," Hutch came back to the real world from his thoughts on Starsky's voice.
"Nothing much to say, Starsk. I have told you about most of it."
"Not about Vanessa."
"She wants me to be a doctor. Actually, she wants to be a doctor's wife."
"So what will happen if you decide to stay in the academy, after three months?"
"She will divorce me"
"You got to do something about this. You are not just going to let her walk away, are you? She is your wife for God's sake-, you got to work this out."
"Talk to her."
"What do you think I have been trying to do all this time?"
"She doesn't want me Starsk, she wants a doctor."
"You love her?"
"I don't know anymore."
"You cannot not love her."
"I have done everything I could to please her, She spends every cent I earn. She maxed out my credit card, and she still expects more from me. How else or what else can I try, Starsk? I have tried everything, I have talked to her, tried reasoning with her, begged her to understand me, but at the end it all ends up the same. I can never win with her because my father backs her up. Marrying her was the only good thing I did according my parents and now I'm going to walk away from her, too." Hutch sighed. "I just don't know what to do anymore, Starsk." His voice was almost a whisper.
Starsky stood up and walked over to Hutch, and hopped on Hutch's desk, sitting directly facing him.He placed his left arm on Hutch's shoulder.
Hutch raised his head, his eyes skimming over Starsky's.
"Life is never easy, Hutch. You don't get what you always want. You have to make the best out of it. You have to decide what you want in life. I'm not asking you to give up the academy and do what your wife wants you to do. I'm asking you to think about what you really want to do. If you are trying to be a police officer just because you hate your father or just because you want to do something 'different,' then think again. Do you wanna lose Vanessa? Is being in the academy so important that you wanna lose your wife? Think again Hutch. How important is she to you? When you know that for sure, the decision will come to you."
Hutch had already decided. He had already chosen what he wanted to do. He just will have to deal with the hurt.
"I have already chosen, Starsk. That's why I'm here. I didn't expect it to be this hard. I was hoping Van will come around, but it may never happen."
Starsky sighed, moving his hand from Hutch's shoulder. Hutch caught it just as it was slipping from him. He wanted the connection with Starsky. He felt that it was the only thing that was preventing him from going down. He was surprised by his own reaction. "Starsk, Thanks!" His eyes never left Starskys. The healing he felt couldn't be compared to anything. One could get lost in that blue sky. Get lost in a good way.
"That's what roomies are for." Starsky grinned, giving Hutch a friendly slap on his face.
A month ago holding a man's hand would have been something he wouldn't even have dreamed of. But being with Starsky during the past few weeks had taught him how simple and easy it was to convey your 'feelings', feelings that Hutch had never expressed before, a simple slap on the hand, or roughing of your hair, placing your hands on a shoulder, a tap on the cheek; all of which that came so naturally to Starsky. He came from a family who was big in touching, hugging, kissing, and caressing. It was the most natural thing for him although after Nam the walls he built around his heart was still too strong and tall. Starsky couldn't give hundred percent of himself to anyone. But the little he gave was the size of the Rocky Mountain to Hutch who never had got this kind of love and friendship before.
"You know what, Hutch- I will be going home next weekend, 'cos you know - three days off. Why don't you also go home and see Vanessa- maybe she has missed you, absence make the heart grow fonder."
"Not with Van, Starsk. Not with Van, but yes, I think it is a good idea to go home. I might get some closure, one way or another."
Chapter 5: Nightmares and Life changes
A scream woke Hutch. He was out of bed and at Starsky's side in seconds. Starsky was thrashing around; his pillow soaked with sweat.
It was Friday night and they were leaving next morning for the long weekend. Since the very first nightmare Hutch had witnessed a week ago, the days went by without any incident, but then suddenly this Friday night Hutch noticed Starsky was immersed in his thoughts since they had gone out to eat. He was laughing, joking and having a good time, but suddenly like a switch that was turned off he had become silent. Hutch noticed their server looked Asian; Vietnamese maybe, and Starsky's demeanor had changed instantly. And then this- another nightmare.
"Wake up, Starsky." Hutch shook Starsky as hard as he could.
Starsky's eyes fluttered open. He looked terrified. "Gavin," he whispered. "What happened, Gavin?"
"Starsk, it's me, Hutch."
Starsky was partially wrapped in, in his nightmare. "Gavin? No, nooo . He killed you. God, no, no – noooo." Tears welling in his eyes, Starsky turned away from Hutch facing the wall.
Hutch watched Starsky's shoulders shaking. Without any hesitation, Hutch pulled Starsky up, gathering him in his arms.
"I'm here, Starsk, I'm here. Let me take care of you. Shh… It's ok, it's going to be okay. Come on buddy," he crooned.
Starsky buried his face in Hutch's chest, his whole body convulsing with his sobs. His tears soaked into Hutch's t-shirt. "Gavin—Gavin," Starksy continuously moaned.
What happened out there Starsk? What happened to you? Please tell me, and please let me take your pain away like you do of mine. Hutch combed Starsky's hair, feeling the dark curls wrapping around his fingers. Holding Starsky close to his heart, talking to him with whatever silly phrases he can think of was the most natural and the right thing in the whole world. His own eyes were brimming with tears as well.
"All of them are dead." Starsky pulled away from Hutch. "Stay away from me or else you will end up dead too," Starsky mumbled, and without even looking at Hutch tried to get out of the bed.
Hutch pulled him back making him sit upright. "Where do you think you are going?"
"I have to go, Hutch." Starsky said desperately.
"I can't stay here. I don't want you to get hurt."
"Oh, yeah? So who is going to come here to hurt me?"
Instead of answering Starsky looked at Hutch. Hutch had never seen a pair of eyes full of such sadness - he looked lost - He has lost a lot -
"You are not going anywhere, Starsk and neither am I," Hutch said gently.
Starsky just dropped against Hutch resting his forehead on his shoulder. Hutch cupped the curly head, gently ruffling his hair, listening to the labored breath of his friend.
"I don't know what you have gone through Starsk. I don't think I can even imagine how it must have been out there. Sometimes I wish I had been there so that--"
"NO- NO" Starsky's head shot up from his resting place in lightening speed. "Don't you dare think of such nonsense – Do you hear me? Don't you dare."
"Starsk, you don't have to protect me from what you went through. You have to let me share it with you- I have to know what you went through- Can you understand that? I want to be a part of what you went through." The gentleness of Hutch brought tears into Starsky's eyes all over again-
"I don't know whether I can talk about it, Hutch- I don't want to go back."
"But don't you see that you are 'back in there' all the time? You are going through it over and over again because you are trying to trap everything inside you. Until you let it out it will be like this, Starsk- You got to let it go."
Starsky sighed, closed his eyes and bent his head downwards trying to shut off all the images playing in his mind. His men, his friends being gunned down one after the other. How could he ever forget what happened? How could he ever let it go? He killed them!
He couldn't talk to Hutch about it. Not yet. He pulled away, wiping his face with the back of his hand. He noticed a big wet patch on Hutch's shirt. "I'm sorry for making a mess," he mumbled trying to smile.
"Well… I can always use one of yours." Hutch suggested.
"Nothing of your style," Starsky said, shaking his head.
"Ah, I m sure I can find something."
"I don't think so."
"Wanna bet?" Hutch challenged.
"No.. you will just pretend that I have something you like- So how am I gonna prove that you are not pretending that I have something that you like although I know that you know that I know that you are pretending that you like it?"
"My point exactly- I think we have to go to sleep now - you have a flight to catch in the morning and I have to get my stomach seasoned before I go home to Aunt Rosie's Special."
Hutch had heard endless stories about Aunt Rosie's kitchen nightmares. He returned back to his bed realizing that his friend had very skillfully avoided talking about his past again by routing their talk to something entirely different.
"I don't have to go, you know," Hutch said, thinking of staying with Starsky might be a better idea if he is going to have nightmares like this.
"And do what? Come home with me? Do you want to eat what Aunt Rosa cooks? I don't think so buddy!"
"Well both of us can just stay here," Hutch said hopefully.
"AND DO WHAT???"
"Well, I don't know. Go to the movies, hang around-- you know, just lazy stuff."
"For three days? - Nope- No sir- I don't want to just hang around here and neither should you- You have things to take care of and I-- I have to go home I promised Al and Rosie. Besides I have something to do for Blaine too."
This was news to Hutch- What does he have to do for Blaine or Jim for that matter? "Do what?" he asked.
"They are looking for some information on a drug bust that went down."
"And you are going to give it to them?"
"I'll find someone who can give it to them."
"Why you? I mean why they cannot find it for themselves?"
"I did some stuff for them before I joined the academy."
"Listen- I'm sleepy and we have to wake up in the morning. Why don't you keep you 40 questions for another time, huh? Get some sleep. I don't know what you are doin' waking up in the night like this."
Starsky grumbled, switched off the light, and returned to the bed as if it was all Hutch's fault that they were up and talking in the wee hours of morning. Hutch opened his mouth to protest but decided it is better to take the blame than reminding Starsky about who woke up whom from what.
Next morning Starsky drove Hutch to the airport. His flight was scheduled to leave at 6.00am. Hutch was amused to see how Starsky was all excited about going home. Hutch had mixed feelings about this. He had not called Vanessa about his plans. Like Starsky said, maybe it will surprise her and she will realize how much she missed him, and maybe, just maybe… she will feel differently about the choice he had made.
"Okay, Buddy. They are boarding the flight. You call me if you need anything. You got my home phone number?" Starsky's arm was around Hutch's shoulder. This may be the hundredth time that question escaped Starsky.
"Have some fun, and knock some sense into that head of your wife." Starsky's arm was still around Hutch's shoulder.
"Alright, Starsk," Hutch waited patiently until Starsky was ready to let go of him.
"Eat some good food now, will ya? Not just some rabbit food, I mean real food." Starsky found it hard to let Hutch go, but tried even harder to not show it.
"Yes, Starsk." Hutch turned towards Starsky, stood right in front of him and placed his hands on Starsky's shoulders.
"Starsk, I'll be fine."
"Shit, Hutch. I should have come with you." Stasky said softly.
"Aw, Starsk." Hutch wanted to just pull him close and hug him, and make him understand that everything was going to be all right.
"I will call you when I get home, okay? So stop worrying- I'm going to my wife, what can go wrong, huh?" Hutch tried to smile, ignoring the sudden restriction at his throat.
"Yeah, I know you are going to have a good time." Starsky smiled, remembering why Hutch was going to LA. Of course- his wife! Everything should be ok.
Finally Hutch said Good bye and walked through the gates into his flight. He was already asleep when the flight took off- The exhaustion of not having that much of sleep the other night took over him and he fell asleep oblivious to everything around him.
Chapter 6: Going home (Starsky's POV-2)
Watching Hutch walk towards the plane was not easy. I was surprised how empty and lonely I felt when he disappeared from my sight. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I will get this close to another person in my life again. He had become my friend, my ally, my mission in life, just within one month. And I knew I had become the same for him.
Hutch always made sure I got through the quizzes and exams. He was full of threats when it came to studying. Without his help I would never have got such good marks. He just made me do my work. I knew I could do it, but was always lazy to sit in one place and glue my eyes on a book trying to get the words in to my head. So Hutch came up with this idea of preparing short questions from all sections we were completing each day. Hutch made me answer each and every question he prepared and it was like a game to me. I ended up studying one full section without even realizing what I was doing. Once I wrote down the answers it stuck in my head like super-glue, and I never had to read anything again. He had prepared the question in such a way that not a single important piece of information was neglected. I wasn't sure when he found time to do this, but later realized that he was using the time he was by himself in the room when I went on running every night. He was worried about me all the time. I knew it. When I step out of the room at night for my routine jog, I see the creases of worries on his forehead. I knew he couldn't sleep until I got back to the room safe and sound. He wasn't that worried at the beginning, but after a few days he turned to be a real mother hen.
I hope his wife of him wouldn't do anything foolish. She'd be the biggest idiot and stupidest woman in the whole universe if she let someone like Hutch walk away. Don't want to be his wife if he becomes a policeman? Want to be a wife only if he becomes a doctor? That is the stupidest thing I had ever heard. If that is what she is then, well, Hutch may be better off without her. I shook my head with annoyance. What am I thinking of?
I checked the time. Hutch will be in his home in another two or three hours. I had to be at mine as well to take his call. I hurried towards my Mustang to drive home, to Aunt Rosie, Uncle Al and Jay, my little cousin who is not that 'little' anymore. He and Hutch will like each other for sure. They will have a very good time together comparing notes of me and my habits.
After another couple of hours I was back at home. It seemed like the hugs and kisses would never come to an end.
"Oh Davey... you have become so skinny," Aunt Rosie complained, but Uncle Al, Jay and I knew very well that I had put on some weight. I looked very healthy with all the physical activities and running I had been doing. But I knew Aunt Rosie loved complaining and making a big fuss. Well… not that I didn't like all the attention... I mean it was nice to be fussed about- felt I was loved and missed.
There were so many questions about my time at the academy. What we do, what we eat, what we do in our spare time, friends, and yes of course... Hutch! Jay was the one who had all questions about my roommate. He was worse than my Ma and Aunt Rose put together when it came to people I spend time with. He was like my shadow when I came back from Nam. He understood better than anyone else that the scars that hurt most were the scars that were not visible to the naked eye. He asked once what happened to me and I cannot even remember what I said, but he never ever asked anything again. When we were kids, he used to tag along with me where ever I went and I think he never outgrew the habit.
I think he was satisfied but not fully convinced that Hutch is a good person although I told him everything I could think of. Maybe next time when I come home I should bring Hutch with me. Blondie will enjoy it here. The phone rang just then. and I knew instantly that it was Hutch. I was at the phone in no time. I saw Jay's surprised expression with raised eye brows.
"Hutch?" I asked as soon as I picked up the phone, and heard him chuckle.
"Hey Starsk… don't tell me you were sitting at the phone all this time."
"Now why should I do that?"
"I don't know… maybe … waiting for a call from your favorite roommate?" I could hear the smile in his voice. It was good to hear him and it was just three hours since he left SF.
"I don't have any favorites, you know..." I loved teasing him. "Everything's ok?" I asked.
"Well, I hope so. I mean... Van is not at home. I don't know where she is- maybe gone shopping. She is good at that."
"Oh, stop complaining, Hutch. Ladies need stuff, you know."
"Yeah yeah, you are always on her side, and I'm always by myself- So… how are things with you? Your stomach still Okay?"
"Yep... doing fine, but for how long-- I'm not sure. Jay was just asking me about our work and all,"
"Hey, Starsk. Don't want to keep you away from them. I have to take a shower anyway."
"I think that is a good idea on your part. I mean showering-- you don't want LA to stink like Bay City. "
Hutch muttered something for that comment of mine. We talked to another few minutes and said Good Bye. I promised to pick him up back at the airport on Monday evening. I also made him promise me to call me if he needs me, anytime.
"Sure Starsk," Hutch said, but I wasn't sure whether he meant it or not.
When I turned around Jay was smiling.
"What are you laughing at?" I asked him. He smiled and shrugged. But his smile told me that he was happy and relieved.
The rest of the day was spent with more talks. Later my sole attention was on surviving Aunt Rosie's dinner special. She had tried to prepare some Chicken Byryani; an Indian rice dish with mixed veggies and chicken. I had no idea what she had done to it; the rice was all soggy and the veggies were all raw. I wasn't even sure what she had there was chicken. I have had this dish before and the taste of what Aunt Rosie had made wasn't even remotely similar to what I knew as byriani.
"Umm... Aunt Rosie, what did you put in here?" I asked trying very hard to swallow what I had in my mouth.
"Oh... do you like it? I couldn't find the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon that I had to add to it – I mean... Don't they all smell the same? Anyway, I used this instead." She proudly showed some brown powder she had in her kitchen cabinet. Aunt Rosa had yet again made another dish with so much love, but had managed to omit the key ingredients that made the dish what it really is.
"Mm... yes, this is really good." I tried to keep a very happy face. Uncle Al gave me the "Oh, my poor boy," look.
"Oh, Davey... You really must eat more." Aunt Rosie walked up to me with dish of rice, but Jay stopped her, in time.
"He ate a lot, Ma. You didn't see because you were in the kitchen busy with cleaning."
I was never that much grateful for Jay. I for sure owe him my whole life.
I looked around the kitchen; my family! I had everything- everyone, I needed, in this room. Well... may be everyone if Ma, Hutch and Nicky were here. Hutch! Yep, he is family now. Ahhh... Life was good!
I had not forgotten that I had to go and meet some friends; friends that would give me the information Jim and Blaine needed. They knew someone very powerful was behind the drug dealings that was going around but didn't know who exactly was responsible for the deals that were made.
I had to meet Brady. Later in the evening I drove to his antique shop. There were a few people in there, and I was sure they were not skimming for antiques. I spend a good twenty minutes going through the stuff Brady had retrieved from all over the world. My eyes were on a tall vase that was in a cabinet – It had a very unique pattern carved into it. Some kind of a mythical creature with a body of a lion and face of an elephant.
"Hey, Dave… anything you like?" Brady came to me when his customers left.
"Yep… I need something very unique. What is this vase?"
"Ohh, that comes from India."
Great -- after Aunt Rosie's Indian cooking, this is exactly what I needed.
"So why are you really here David?" Brady asked when I was examining the vase.
"Who is behind all the big scores that are going on lately?"
"Who wants to know?"
"Don't see anyone else in here, do you?"
"Why do you always want to know what you really should not, Dave?"
I rewarded him with my best smile. "Ah, now something tells me that you know what I want to know, and something even stronger tells me that you are just gonna tell me everything you know." I kept on smiling at him, tapping on the glass top of one of his cabinets containing his antique collections.
"I'm not sure about this Dave. I have heard a name, but … it ain't right. You know, my gut says it just ain't right."
Brady picked up the LA times that was on his table and placed it in front of me.
His placed his finger on a name that was on the front page. I looked at Brady puzzled, and he just nodded. I couldn't believe it. The man who was running for the mayor; Jeff Maven: The ultimate family man who had vowed to sweep the drug dealers off the streets, and clean LA within a month of his appointment. Never heard a bad thing of him. I looked at Brady again, with a very big question mark this time.
"Didn't I just tell you that I think something's wrong?"
Politicians were never what they seem to be, but this is way out of line. Jeff Maven is a good man.
"I know what you are thinking, Dave."
"Doesn't make any sense, Brady. Something is not right."
Someone is selling his name. The paper also carried an article about the other man I had in mind- Russel Brendon; Jeff's competitor. I turned the paper towards Brady showing him the man I thought was responsible for all what was going on.
Brady hissed. "Man.. if you knew this already why the hell did you come to me?" Brady was flustered.
"You sure of this?"
"No, but that is the word on the street."
"And you said no one knows?"
"That is correct, Dave. No one knows, for sure, and you didn't hear nothing from me."
"I think … you should wrap this for me." I handed the vase I had with me. I paid him twice as much of its price and went home, picking the LA times on my way. Blaine and Jim can sort this out by themselves.
On my way back I suddenly started to feel very uneasy. Felt as if my stomach was in knots. Maybe the effects of Aunt Rosie's rice dish? I tried to shake off the feeling and started towards home. It was close to 7 o'clock in the evening. I was planning to stop to meet Jim but decided against it as it felt like I was coming down with flu or something. When I got off the car at home I was sure something was really wrong with me. It was like one of my anxiety attacks. My chest tightened with every breath I took, my heart was beating so fast, and I was feeling dizzy. I leaned against the car and bent forward placing my head against my bent knees.
Suddenly I was overcome with such a sadness that brought tears to my eyes. Sadness of what? Why? I couldn't understand. And I felt angry at the same time. What is going on? One of anxiety attacks? But for what reason? I desperately tried to breathe when I heard Jay's voice next to my ear.
"Dave... Dave. Are you Okay? What is wrong?" He held me tight with his arm around my shoulder.
"I don't know, just feel weird."
"Man, I think it's Ma's special."
"You feeling the same?"
"Nah, I'm used to all of her stuff, but I think you couldn't stand it after one month of non-Rose foods."
"I'm not sure whether this is because of the rice. I just feel, I dunno… bad. I mean … as if I lost something-- and.. I feel mad- like I can go and beat the shit out of--"
"Whoa, hold on Dave. Did something happen to you?"
"No, nothing! That's what I don't understand but something is wrong, Jay. I just feel it"
"Of course something is wrong.Happens all the time when you eat Ma's stuff. Come on, Dave- Just go and lie down for some time and you will feel okay- I don't know why you even try to eat what she cooks."
"Ohh, come on Jay, it wasn't that bad- I don't really think this is the food- I mean I don't want to throw up anything. "
"Maybe in a while you will have to take permanent residency in the bathroom."
We made it to my room and I lay down still feeling the same. I tried to sleep to get rid of the dizziness. I still couldn't get rid of the sadness and the angry feeling, but after sometime felt my eyes were getting really heavy.
That is when I saw Hutch! He sat in front of me with his head between his hands, and his hands resting on his knees. "Hutch?" I called him but he didn't hear me. I heard him sobbing and when he raised his head there were tears from his eyes. "Hutch, what's wrong?" I kept asking, but he didn't even see me.
Then he stood up and walked away. We were at a train stop, and Hutch walked towards an oncoming train on the tracks. I didn't even know how he got there. I shouted at him to stop. The train was approaching him, but he wasn't moving out of its path. My heart was beating fast while I ran towards him screaming to get off the tracks. He never looked back.
"Hutch, Hutch... Huuuutch," I shouted, throwing myself at him. I pushed him away and heard the screeching wheels of the passing train. Hutch lay beside me looking not that pleased.
"Why didn't you let me die? Why didn't you let me die?" Hutch shook me.
I opened my eyes and it was Jay's strong hands that were shaking me. "Dave, WAKE UP."
I was in my room, at my home, on my bed. No trains, no screeching wheels, and no Hutch. Oh God Hutch! Something was wrong. I just knew it! "Jay, something's wrong—Hutch."
I was at the phone without wasting anymore precious time. The phone rang five times before I heard a click from the other side.
"Hello?" A female voice! Must be Vanessa.
"Hello... Err... may I speak To Hutch? I mean Kenneth, please?"
"Who is this?" She sounded irritated.
"I'm David Starsky, I'm from--"
"Oh, I know who you are Ken's big friend from the academy, Aren't you? Well, I'm sorry. He is not at home. He went back.." Why was she angry with me? And what the hell did she mean by Hutch went back?
"Hutch went back to what? Where? He just got there!"
"And I'm telling you that he just left to go back to his precious academy, and of course... to you!" Vanessa said sarcastically. What the hell is she talking about Hutch coming back to me? Was she mad?
"He is coming back? Today? But that doesn't make any sense, he said he will--"
"I don't care what he told you. He just left."
"When? When did he leave?"
"I don't know. I'm not his time keeper… at least, not anymore! So Good Luck, and Good Bye… Mr. David Starsky."
She hung up before I could ask anything else. I stared at the phone trying to make sense of what I just heard.
"Dave?" I turned around, and Jay looked worried and concerned.
"I think Hutch had a fight with his wife or something- He has left LA, and I guess he is coming back to Bay City. Today. God, Jay, I could kill that woman with my bare hands. You know what she said when I asked what time Hutch left. She said she is not his time keeper- Not his Time keeper? Jesus... I don't know how Hutch lived with that woman for this long."
"Dave... What are you going to do now?"
"I've got to find the flight times."
The time was 10 pm. I found the old yellow book on the table.
I learnt that there were two flights from LA in the evening. One leaving at six, and the other at ten. If Hutch took the six o'clock flight he should already be at the academy. If he was coming on the ten o'clock flight, which comes to Bay City at 11.40, I should be able to catch him at the airport. I dialed the number to our academy room, but didn't get an answer. I tried again after ten minutes, but still nothing. So does that mean Hutch is on the last flight? There was only one way to know.
"Dave, do you think you should drive now? You were not feeling well at all."
"I'm all right now, Jay. I told you it had nothing to do with Aunt Rosie's cooking."
It was all because Hutch was going though something bad. Some kind of an unknown force tried to warn me Hutch's condition.
"I will come with you." Jay said, picking up a jacket.
"No, I'll be alright. I'll check the last flight from LA, and if he is in it, I will bring him home. If not, I will go to the academy. Either way I will come back with him IF he is in BC. If he calls while I'm gone, ask him to go to the academy- I will not miss him that way. So you got to stay at home. "
I was out of the house in minutes, driving towards the airport. What if he is not on the flight- What if something happened to him? He was crying in the dream, and it was so real. He was crying and I felt his pain. What if he had tried to kill himself like in the dream? No- he wouldn't! I had to think positive! Hang in there, Hutch! Hang in there, buddy!
Please, God, don't let anything happen to him. Please! He is my friend, and I need him. He needs me! We need each other. Don't take him away from me like the others, please!
Finally I was at the airport by 11.30. The ten minutes I had to wait must have been the longest in my life.
Finally the TWA flight arrived, and the passengers walked out. I was feeling downright nervous. I held my breath, waiting for a familiar blond head to appear. Where is he? Didn't he catch this flight? God, Hutch, where are you? Please, I want you to be on this flight. I want you to walk out, right now!!!!
And then… I saw him, just like at the Sunshine that very first day, but somewhat different today. He looked tired, shoulders slumped, his hair in disarray. He walked, head down, his golden hair covering most of his face, eyes on the floor. I leaned against the wall facing the terminal entrance. As if he felt my presence Hutch stopped, raising his head. I could have wept seeing how the expression of his face changed. Watching me with his big blue eyes, not believing what he was seeing – surprised, relieved happy.
I walked up to him. The relief I felt seeing him here, in front of me, alive and in one piece... at least physically, wasn't comparable to anything else. I thanked all Gods for bringing him safe to me. Now I could take care of the rest.
"Hey," I came to him, taking his bag from him. It looked as if the hand luggage itself was too heavy for him to carry anymore.
"Starsk, how did you know?" His voice was hoarse.
"I always know, Hutch." I smiled, laying my right arm around his shoulder and holding him tightly. I wanted to hug him, hold him, tell him that I will protect him from the world, tell him that everything will be Okay and I will take care of him, but such sensitivity would make him fall apart, breakdown, and cry. I had to get him home first.
"Come on... we are going home."
"Home?" he asked.
"Have you eaten anything?"
"Not hungry," he mumbled.
"Maybe I'll fix you something when we go home... okay?"
I called Jay to let him know that we were coming home. We walked to the parking lot and drove out of the airport, onto the Highway, towards home.
Chapter 7: Going Home (Hutch's POV-2)
Never imagined I would feel this unhappy walking away from Starsky, even if it was for just a few days. I just couldn't understand it. For heaven's sake, I'm going to see Vanessa. I should feel happy, shouldn't I? But then why do I feel so lonely-? As if a part of me is left behind. I wasn't even feeling myself anymore.
I have known Starsky only for one month, but it was like I have known him for years and years. Not that I knew anything about his past but I know what makes Starsky, Starsky. I know he is the best thing ever happened to me in my life. My friend, my guardian angel in real life and in my dreams, He is everything to me.
No one had ever stood up for me like he did. He tries very hard to not to show what he is doing, but I know. I also know that most of the others at the academy didn't like our friendship. They couldn't understand why and how the two of us could be best buddies when there was nothing alike between us. Starting from our looks, our cloths, our families, our past… there couldn't be two people different than the two of us, but we have this connection. He has this uncanny ability to read my mind and feel what I'm going through even before I know about it. He is a very simple man, but also the most complex personality I have ever met
He is the physically fittest man I have ever seen. The way he runs, completes the physical exercises, and the obstacle courses was just simply amazing. He was so methodical and precise. The way he moves is a sight to sore eyes. I just can't wait to see him at the shooting range. But… will that bring back some bad memories for him – reminding what had happened in Nam or what he was at Nam? What could have happened to him there? Who is Gavin, the man he is screaming for in the middle of the night? From the way Starsky behaves it looked like the death of Gavin wasn't a 'normal' military death. Will he ever trust me enough to tell me about his past? I can only be patient.
I settled in the plane wanting to sleep even it was a short flight of one just and a half hours. Not being able to sleep that much the previous night caught up to me, and I didn't even feel the plane taking off. The next I thing I know was the landing in LA. It was about a twenty minute ride to the apartment from the airport.
"Van," I called but there wasn't anyone around to greet me. Where was she? It was too early to go out. It wasn't even nine o'clock. The bedroom didn't look any different than the day I left; maybe I can sleep for a while before Van comes home from where ever she was. I had to call Starsky before that.
I dialed the number he gave me, not really sure whether he had already gone home. He said it takes only an hour.
"Hutch?" Starsky shouted at the phone. I couldn't help but laugh- No 'Hellos' and didn't even want to hear who it was on the other side, but straight away he knew it was me.
"Hey, Starsk, Don't tell me you were sitting at the phone all this time."
"Now why should I do that?" He sounded happy.
"I don't know, maybe waiting for a call from your favorite roommate." At least I know I wanted to hear the voice of my best friend! I smiled to myself.
"Everything's okay?" he asked.
"Well. I hope so. I mean, Van is not at home. I don't know where she is- maybe gone shopping. She is good at that."
"Oh, stop complaining, Hutch... Ladies need stuff, you know."
"Yeah, you are always on her side. I'm always by myself - So how are things with you? Your stomach still doing fine?"
"Yep, but for how long I'm not sure. Jay was just asking me about our work and all."
Jay? Oh, yes, his cousin, Jason.
"Hey, Starsk. Don't want to keep you away from them. I have to take a shower anyway," I said, feeling tired and sleepy.
"I think that is a good idea on your part... I mean showering… you don't want LA to stink like Bay city you know."
I'm just glad he wasn't around me while saying that.
After sometime we bid Good Bye, and he promised me to pick me at the airport on Monday evening. Although I said that I could take cab Starsky would not hear any of that.
I picked up my towel from the closet. The warm shower washed my tension away. I fell on the bed and fell asleep instantly.
The opening of a door awoke me, and I sat on the bed trying to remember where I was. Oh, yes. Van.
"Van," I called out.
Finally she was home at 2.30- I had slept for a good 4 hours. She stood at the door looking at me, but not with the kind of look I expected- She was annoyed—irritated?
"Why didn't to tell me you are coming?" Van's was not happy to see me. And I should have told her that I'm coming home? What the hell is that supposed to mean?
"Well, I thought of surprising you. Looks like I was wrong, again!" This was not the way I wanted to start this conversation.
"Well, you surprised me of course – It would have been nicer if you had told me because I had plans for the weekend."
"Of course it is special. I'm meeting with this agent of a modeling company and doing some shows this weekend. I will be going out with him for the weekend."
"Going out with him? What do you mean by 'going out' with him?" I was furious and angry. Going for a shoot out is different. What is this 'going out' for the weekend? 'Going out' and doing what?
"Like I said- would have saved you from making this trip – I mean... whenever you call me you have tons of things to tell me about that new friend of yours. Who is he again? Oh, yes, that wonderful 'Starsky,'- but you cannot tell me that you are planning to come home during this weekend?"
Would have saved me a trip? So when she said that I should have told her that I was planning to come, she would not have stayed at home for me or changed her plans, but would have simply told me to not to come because she had other plans? And she doesn't want to hear anything about my friends? Well... maybe I was talking too much about Starsky, but shouldn't she be happy about the fact that I found a good friend? Maybe she was hoping I was going to be a failure in the Police academy and now she sees that is wasn't going to end that way.
Why am I even trying to be with this woman? "I said I wanted to surprise you."
"And I have a surprise for you too, Ken- I have made plans for the weekend- so surprise! You are on your own!"
I stared at Vanessa trying to understand why I didn't see how cold and empty she was beneath that beautiful face.
"Who is this guy? And why do you have to go out for the whole weekend?" I had to find out about what she really is doing? Was she cheating on me?
Something told me that there was more to what she told me. Is she involved with this guy? I was gone for one month and was she seeing other guys- But we are married! 'MARRIED'!
"I have to do some modeling stuff- And I have to be on the set all the time. I'm sorry Ken, but it is not like you were going to change your plans for me. So why should I ?"
"But I'm here, aren't I?"
"Have you quit the academy? Are you going back to college?"
"No- I'm not going to do that- I have told you already." It came out even faster than I expected.
"Well… then … there is nothing more to say."
"What exactly are you trying to say here, Van?" I tried desperately to keep my temper under control. I knew she was pushing my buttons to get me to the point of no return.
"I think we discussed this before you left, Ken. When we got married, you were going to be a doctor, and I was going to be a model with plans of owning a modeling company of my own, one day. That was the deal- that was the package. Now... you have moved out of it. You want to be some stupid cop for God knows why, but I… I still want to be what I wanted to be- So, well, the deal is broken Ken- there is no point of us staying together."
"So what was all that about for 'better or worse and till death do us apart'? I didn't hear anything about me being a doctor for you to stay with me," I asked, not wanting to accept what she was implying.
She said nothing but smiled sarcastically.
"Are you sleeping with him?" I had to ask, and her eyes turned into fire. Whether she was angry at that question or whether she was trying to hide the truth, I didn't know. I simply didn't know the woman standing in front of me. She said nothing but turned and walked away from me. After sometime I heard the shower running.
I sat on the couch in the living room trying to decide what I should do next. Is this it? Are we ending our marriage? Are we moving towards divorce?
I was startled of the ringing of the phone- Van was in the bathroom- I went and picked up the phone right at the moment it went to the answering machine.
"Hey sweetie, just wanted to hear your voice again,"
I stared at the phone- who the hell is this?
"Who is this?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry mister, I guess I dialed the wrong number- this is not Vanessa's place. Is it?"
So Vanessa is his sweetie?
Well mister, you are dialing the right number but definitely at the wrong time, but who are you? All I saw were red lights flashing around me. I closed my eyes, trying to remain calm. What should I do?
The conversation was still being recorded- I didn't press the end button- something told me that this is important. I have to pull myself together. I have to find who this guy is and what he was to my wife. One month in the police academy and was I already thinking like a police officer or is this just basic instinct?
"Oh, yes, yes, you were correct. This is Vanessa's place. She is in the shower. I can take a message. I can ask her to call you back."
"And.. who are you?" The man at the other end asked.
"Oh, I'm a neighbor. I saw her car and came to return some music records I borrowed." I tried my best to sound very friendly keeping away the anger out of my voice. I had been told onetime that the other person at the end of the phone can actually feel it, when you smile while talking. So I was grinning like an idiot; grinning like a Cheshire cat, feeling quite pleased with myself despite the anger rising within me.
"Oh, tell her Simon Durward called."
Simon... Never heard that name before. Is this her 'agent'?
"Oh, yes. You are the dude she is going out with this the week end, right?" I just had to take a chance.
"Err… Yes- she told you?" The guy sounded surprised. My plan worked! Now I truly was smiling.
"Of course- It is about time she found her real match, you know, I never liked her husband, if you know what I mean."
"Ah, yeah. What a loser. That sorry ass of her husband has no clue of taking care of someone like Vanessa."
You got that right Simon. You got that right. If you only know that the sorry ass of her husband was taping all the nice things you have to say about him.
"Simon… I think she is just coming out from the bathroom- hold on a second I will tell her. Hey, Van," I called out. "Simon is on the phone."
Vanessa froze when she heard the name. I held the phone at her. "You want to talk to him?"
"Sure," she never took her eyes off me while coming to get the phone, and I... just stood right next to the phone, knowing very well that I was making her feel uncomfortable at the moment.
"Hello... Simon... what can I do for you?" She asked trying to sound very casual. She listened to what Simon was saying and her grip on the phone was getting tighter by the minute.
"My neighbor? What neighbor?" She asked and listened back.
"No. That was Ken... I--. I will call you back." She hung up, and turned towards me, looking terrified
I grit my teeth, trying to hold my temper back. I had to keep my head straight."Well, Van... I have no time for liars and cheaters."
I got the cassette out of the answering machine still not taking my eyes off her. "Don't try anything foolish, Van. Everything is right here." I held the little cassette in front of her expecting her to take a grab at it but she was too shocked to do anything at the moment. "You want a divorce? You will get one. I have no time for you anymore in my life, and you know the reason for the divorce, don't you?"
I placed the cassette safely in a pocket of my pants. "One more thing Van. I know exactly who you are, and I know exactly what your weekend out is all about. I'm sure it is going to be one hell of a shoot out. Surprised? Indeed, Van. Indeed."
"Oh, Ken. You are no saint either. I know what you are up to at the academy. I know all about you, too."
"Oh, yeah? Why don't you tell me all what you know about me?" My anger surfaced back.
"You and your great friend. I know there is something going between you two, and don't try to deny it, Ken."
I couldn't believe what she was saying. Is she mad? Me and Starsky? What the hell! I could take whatever she throws at me but getting Starsky into this was despicable.
"What did you say? What the fuck did you just say?" I turned towards her with such a fiery anger that could have burnt her right on the spot.
"Just listen to you," Vanessa snapped. "You cannot even talk decent anymore. You are disgusting!" She walked around the couch, avoiding me.
"What would you use to describe what you were doing with Simon?" I yelled, standing on the other side of the couch, glad for the moment for the physical barrier between us. I had to leave this house as soon as possible. If this conversation continues I will end up doing something that I will regret for the rest of my life.
I walked back to the room and picked up my bag. I stuffed it with my cloths I brought home and some from my drawers.
"Are you leaving?" Vanessa asked when I walked out of the bedroom. I ignored her and called for a taxi.
"You are going back to the academy? Back to your Starsky?"
Vanessa wanted to fight, and she was doing her best to spin a story to make me the bad guy.
"So help me God," I said, grinding my teeth, feeling the taste of blood in my mouth. "If you ever speak Starsky's name or try to drag him into this mess, so help me God, I will make your life a living hell that you'll wish you were never born."
I don't know who was surprised more of the intensity of those words; all I could see was red when I heard Starsky's name dragged into what has happened between Van and me. I just couldn't comprehend the fact that she was trying to blame Starsky for our marital problems that began way before I even had decided to apply for the academy.
"Did I make myself clear?" I asked. Vanessa nodded, biting her lower lip.
I stepped out of the house, and the taxi arrived on time. I didn't know where to go.
"Downtown- terminal, please," I said, not really thinking clearly.
"Where are you heading?" the cab driver asked.
"Not sure. Yet."
The taxi driver looked at me and nodded. "Rough day, huh?"
"You have no idea." I sighed.
"Every dark cloud has a silver lining, son. You just have to look harder, or work harder to see it. I'm Mike."
Mike he had bright, blue, twinkling eyes and a genuine smile. He looked old, maybe in his late fifties or early sixties.
"Ken," I introduced myself.
I have waited and worked hard to no avail. I still ended up with a divorce. I failed! The thought just ripped my heat apart. My wife has been cheating on me. She has been sleeping with another man. Did she bring him home, to our bed?
I just slept in that bed!
"Do you really want to take the Greyhound?" Mike asked, driving across downtown.
Something in his smile reminded me of Starsky. God, I miss him. I wish he was with me right now. I would not have felt this bad if he was with me. My friend! And to think of how Vanessa tried to soil that beautiful friendship left a very bad taste in my mouth. Starsky would have known what I should do right now… If he were here he would have put his arm around my shoulder and smiled at me that would have wiped away the pain I'm feeling now. I longed for the comfort of him.
Why did I think of the Bus terminal? Where am I supposed to go from here? I couldn't even think straight.
"Just drive around a little bit," I said not wanting to get off the taxi for the moment.
"Sure thing son… whatever you say" He started moving forward again… the time I noticed was close to 6 o'clock… What should I do now? Is there any reason for me to be in LA anymore? I closed my eyes and leaned against the head rest…
The feeling I had in my chest was getting heavier by the minute. I felt it was becoming harder to breathe with every breath I took.. This is not what I came for.. I still had hope for our marriage.. but Vanessa had already given up.. Given up on us! I failed.. I have failed in almost everything I have ever done in my life. Nothing has worked out for me up to now. I was a misfit no matter where I went. I'm even alienated from my parents… What is the use of my life? I'm just a useless worthless human being.. Is this life worth living? What is the point of living this life any longer? What is the purpose of my life?
I don't want to live anymore!
The thought shook me all the way to my inner core. Suicide? Am I thinking of suicide? Not the first time I have thought of it but all others were when I was a kid… on days when I was afraid of my father's insults or punishments. I can even remember how I had tried to decide what the best way was to kill myself. I had thought of jumping off a bridge, but the thought of swallowing dirty water repulsed me (as if that would matter for a man who truly wanted to die). Thought of taking some poison, but couldn't decide which one would be the best or how to get one. Thought of swallowing a ton of pain relievers but wasn't sure how many I should take to kill myself, and was afraid that I would end up not dying, but damaging my stomach lining and would have to suffer dreadfully for the rest of my life that I couldn't end. The thoughts running through my mind now was not that different from those of I had as a kid. I had just thought of pushing myself in front of a train, but… what if I end up losing a limb instead of dying for all the luck I had?
A sharp pain in my jaw made me realize that I was clenching my teeth. What am I thinking of? I should be ashamed of myself to think of suicide. This is no reason to commit suicide. Yes, my wife cheated on me, and yes, we are getting a divorce.
Starsky would have said, "So what?"
To think of what Starsky has been through; Nam, a POW… He had lost a lot according the little things I have been able to hear from him and Jarrard, but he survived. I haven't suffered anything compared to what he has gone through, and I'm thinking of suicide!
I had to get back to Bay City.
"Take me to the airport, Mike" the only place I had to go was to the academy. Although the empty dorm was not a place I wanted to be that was the only place I could call my own.
Mike tried to get me into a conversation dering the drice to the airport, but I was not in a mood. I leaned back, closing my eyes. Should I call Starsky when I get to Bay City? No, I should not- I should not destroy his weekend with his family. He has been looking forward to go home – He must be bouncing with joy. He is a bundle of joy that brings happiness to everyone around him.
"Thinking of someone you love?" I opened my eyes to Mike's voice. 'Bulls eye!'
"Must be someone special if she can bring out a smile like that."
Yes… but that's no 'she'!
"You have no idea!" I mumbled.
"Looks like that's your days quote."
"You have no idea!" Mike said, and I really had no idea what he was talking about.
"Look, son," Mike said in a gentle kindness. "Life is one big lesson we have to learn. We stand at cross roads of our life all the time. Remember to think with your head, but always listen to your heart. You'll know what to do."
I shook my head. "There is nothing to decide right now, really. It is just that--" I stopped. It's just that the ones I love always leave me at the end, and I find myself standing all alone at cross roads. "I'm just tired."
"Where are you planning to go?" Mike asked.
It wasn't a lie. I had been in Bay City only for a month, but it felt like home because there was someone there to make it feel like home.
"You work here in LA?"
"No. Bay City."
"So… you work in Bay City... Your home is Bay City, but you are in LA, and now you are going to Bay City? Did I miss something, son?" Mike asked, confused.
"I came to LA in the morning, had err… had something I had to take care of. Now I'm going back."
"At least you are going back home to your wife." Mike said, smiling.
I'm sure he thought 'home' is where my wife was. I didn't correct him.
We arrived at the Airport, and I paid Mike his fee with a generous tip.
"Take care, son" said Mike, and disappeared into the stream of vehicles leaving the air port.
I walked to the ticketing counter and checked for the next available flight to San Francisco. I was lucky to secure a seat for the last flight that was scheduled to leave at 10pm. I had three hours to kill.
Rumbling of my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten a thing since what I had during the flight that morning. Airport food was not something I liked and decided to settle for a coffee; coffee- the perfect meal for Starsky. No matter what I do or think, everything just reminds me of my curly haired friend. I wouldn't feel this desperate and worthless if he were with me, but I was going to do the right thing and just go back to my Dorm and stay there until Monday. I will call him on Monday or else he will go to the Airport to pick me up.
The flight took off on time.
I was not in a hurry to get off the plane at Bay City. I didn't have anything particular to do or anyoe to meet. I stepped out into the terminal and suddenly felt a pair of eyes watching me. I instantly knew who it was, but how can it be? I raised my head and saw Starsky leaning against the wall,watching me. I felt the hair stand up at the back of my neck. Am I dreaming? How can he be here? How did he know? Starsky, my friend, my buddy was waiting for me? I felt ridiculously happy despite all what had gone through during the day. Seeing Starsky I knew everything was going to be all right. With him around I'll never be lonely. With him around I won't have time to think of anything else.
"Hey." Starsky walked towards me and took my bag from me.
"Starsk, how did you know?"
"I always know, Hutch. You should know that by now." He smiled, draping his arm around my shoulder and holding me tightly. Just what I wanted; what I longed for. The love and the friendship of this man will keep me alive through whatever life throws at me. I wasn't alone. I was at home.
"Come on, we are going home," Starsky said as if he was reading my thoughts, again.
"Home?" But which home was Starsky talking about?
"Okay." I didn't mind where we were going if Starsky was with me. I knew everything will be fine- Everything will be just fine if Starsky is with me.
"Have you eaten anything?" Starsky asked.
"I'll fix you something when we go home, okay?"
Starsky stepped into a phone booth and made a call. I didn't know whom he was talking to, and I didn't ask either. After that we walked to the parking lot and drove out of the airport, onto the Highway, towards 'home.'
Chapter 8: Jason's POV
I didn't like Dave driving by himself at this time of the day, especially when he was not feeling well. But that look in his eyes was far too familiar; the expression of 'don't waste your time trying to stop me'. Dave was one stubborn guy, but I would never trade him to anyone, ever. There has never been anyone like him in my life. He cared about me more than my own brother did, and I would do anything for him, anything!
I think he like his roommate, Hutch, very much. Something has changed in Dave. Was that due to Hutch or was it the whole 'police academy' experience? Maybe both, but I sure am glad to see him all happy and excited. But that haunted look in his eyes when he came from Nam has still not left him. Is he still having nightmares? How is 'Hutch' handling the situation?
It was almost midnight when Dave called and said that he found Hutch, and that he was brining him home. I was relieved for Dave's sake. Didn't want to think what would have happened if he didn't find Hutch on that flight. I'm sure both of them are hungry by now. At least I'm sure Dave is; he is always hungry! I decided to make some spaghetti because it was easy to make and Dave liked it too. He liked the special spaghetti sauce of mine, and I used to prepare it for him whenever I could trick Ma into letting me cook. He can do a pretty good job himself in the kitchen when he gets into one of his cooking moods though he doesn't want to cook when Ma is around. Thinks that would be some kind of an insult to her. That's our Dave. Doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but will take any load of hurt himself for anyone he loves.
Ma and Pa had gone to bed. They will meet Dave's friend tomorrow. May be that's for the best. I don't think Hutch is up for anything right now if he had had a fight with his wife.
I hope Hutch is worth it! Dave believed that the sick feeling he had today was because Hutch was undergoing something bad. I found myself believing it for a moment but how could that be? Is there some kind of a psychic link between them, or was it just a coincidence? Whatever it is, I'm glad he found Hutch. Now what was his full name? I couldn't recall Dave mentioning his full name. I heard him asking for 'Kenneth' on the phone.
In another hour of time I heard Dave at the door. I opened and there they were. Hutch was the exact opposite of Dave. Dave had never described Hutch's physical appearance, and I always thought him to be someone similar to Dave. But this guy, Hutch, was something else. Tall and blond. Looks very smart, neat tailored suit, dress shoes,wow! I liked his look. This is how one should dress, and I looked at Dave's attire; faded jeans and an old t-shirt, sneakers-- How on earth did these two get along?
"Are you going to let us in or what?"
I realized I was just holding the door and looking at them without inviting them inside.
"Ah, sorry, Dave. I ... err... is this Hutch?" I asked trying to hide my embarrassment.
"Yes this is he. Kenneth Hutchinson, " Dave said with his full smile, and his head angled to a side.
Oh, so it was Hutchinson, and Hutch for short.
He smiled, extending his arm. "Nice to meet you, Jay, finally!" he said.
Firm handshake; an honest genuine guy. Well, Hutchinson, handshake is not what we are used to.
I pulled Hutch into a big bear hug, and for a moment Hutch just froze. He had not expected it. Well, you better get used to it, Hutch, because that is how it is in this household.
After a few seconds he hugged me back with a smile all over his face.
"Hey, why don't you get into something comfortable? I have prepared some spaghetti for you guys," I said, turning towards the kitchen.
"You did that? Jay, you are the best!"
Dave had this thousand watt smile on his face. It was a very rare site during the past few months.
"Come on, Hutch. Do you have anything you can wear tonight or do you need anything from me?" Dave asked Hutch while showing him to the extra room we had, the one Jake had used. Hutch mumbled something, and I didn't hear what it was.
I went to the kitchen to get the food ready. After another few minutes we sat at the kitchen table, chatting and eating the spaghetti I prepared. I was glad to see Hutch eating well.
"Jay, that was the best spaghetti I have ever had," He said after the meal.
I really like the guy if he thinks my cooking is good.
"Ah, Hutch. Jay is a good cook- He is why I survived all these years. I don't know what I would have done if he had not cooked his dishes for me."
"You know Hutch, if he for once was honest with Ma, and told her that her cooking was rubbish, I'm sure she will not make him, not to mention us, eat all that crap- but he- with all his charm- just goes and praise all her weird dishes as if they were ordered from heaven, and here we are stuck with all that cooking no one can ever taste," I said.
Dave looked horrified. "Shh…, Jay, are you crazy? Don't say things like that of Aunt Rosie. You know it is not that bad."
"Just be honest with her, just once, and that will save--"
"I'm honest with her Jay," Dave cut me off. He looked very serious.
"She took me in when I was a little monster. She never looked back, never said anything to make me feel I was an outsider—I was her son, Jay. She treated me like her own son. We're not even blood relatives, but to her I'm like her own son. She cooks whatever she cooks because of that love, and I'm not going to stop her from doing that. That love, just like yours and Uncle Al's, kept me alive all this years."
How could I ever forget; when Dave got back from Nam he refused to go to New York. I know he loves his mother more than his life but he wanted to be with us here in California.
Dave's eyes were full of tears, and yes, this is David Michael Starsky we all knew. Only the ones close to him knew what a soft soul he was, how emotional he can become and what a lovable person he really is. The strong rough exterior is the complete opposite of his interior.
Hutch snaked his arm around Dave's shoulder, his eyes full of love and admiration.
I felt like a fool for saying what I said before. David Starsky always had a reason for what he did; no matter what it is, he always has a good reason for what he does.
"Well, Dave, that's the longest speech I have got from you for a long long time. Man you should have given the valedictory at High School." I tried to bring the conversation into a lighter atmosphere.
"Oh, yeah? If I made that speech then no parent would ever send their kids to that school anymore." Dave's playful side was back.
"Now that is something believable," Hutch said, smiling.
"Hey, I think we should try to get some sleep now. You have had a long day, Hutch. We can talk tomorrow," I said putting away the dishes.
"Jay is right, Hutch," Dave said, directing Hutch towards the room. I wasn't really sure whether Hutch wanted to sleep, but he didn't want to talk either. He obeyed Dave and settled in for the night.
Chapter 9: Breaking down the walls (Hutch's POV)
It was two weeks after the Memorial Day weekend holiday fiasco. Starsky was out on his night run and I'm here in our academy dorm waiting for him to come back. I thought about my new family; Uncle Al, Aunt Rosie and Cousin Jay. I had lost my own 'biological' family and my wife because of the decision to join the police academy. I was not good enough to my people anymore. But now I had gained a whole new family and a friend worth more than the sun and the moon and everything that made this world go around.
I thought of all what they had told me about Starsky; I learnt that Starsky came to California because his father was killed and his mother couldn't handle him anymore. That is something I can believe for sure. Starsky is a bundle of energy and one hell of a stubborn man- I can only imagine how he must have been during his teenage years. A thousand times more active and restless compared to now, as if that was even possible.
The morning after I had stepped into Starsky's home for the first time, Uncle Al and Aunt Rosie gave me a memorable welcome. The warmth, delight and love emanating from them were genuine. For the first time in a long time I felt truly accepted. When everyone went back to their own businesses Starsky came to me and sat with me in the bedroom I slept the night. I told him bits and pieces of information on what happened that day with Vanessa. With Starsky sitting next to me I found that it was not that hard and painful to relive what had happened the other day. His responses were just 'hmmm's and 'huh's and sighs.
Then in the afternoon Starsky left to meet Blaine and Jim. I knew that he didn't want me to come with him. Jay joined me for a talk, and boy wasn't that the talk! Although three or four years younger than us, he sounded like Starsky's father, at least that is how I felt. He is very protective when it comes to Starsky.
He told me how Starsky had been feeling bad the whole day. and figured out that I was in trouble because of a dream- Starsky never told me the whole story; when I asked how he knew, he said that he just called me at my apartment and that Vanessa told him I had left. He never told me what made him call me when he had no reason to check on me. I don't think I had ever seen anything as beautiful as the sight of that curly dark hair, dark blue eyes, twinkling smile, the ragged white t-shirt and the faded blue jeans at the airport. How on earth did I become so lucky to have him as my friend?
He managed to find me, again, and I promised myself that I'll never let anything happen to Starsky as long as I'm alive. The same promise I again, made to Jay, the same day. I will never forget Jay's eyes; just as intense as Starsky's. We had talked for a while, about what happened to me, about what had happened to Starsky, as a kid and then as a teenager, as a soldier in Nam.
"Hutch, I need to know. Did you… have you-- noticed him having any nightmares?" Jay's eyes were full of pain.
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak; my throat felt constricted.
"How many times?"
I held two fingers at him. He sighed "It is not that bad. He has improved."
I was surprised. Improved? "You mean he used to have many?"
"At the beginning it was almost everyday. Then it became better-- like three or sometimes four times a week. Then once he started working for Blaine, and on his Mustang--" Jay smiled. "Things got better, but they came back-- the nightmares, his demons. Whatever he has locked up within inside him will jump out."
I could see that it was Jay who could have reached Starsky through his ordeals. "You were taking care of him, weren't you?"
"I tried my best, but until he talks about what he went through, he will never get rid of those nightmares."
"So he hasn't told you anything?" I was surprised by the fact that Starsky had not confided in Jay.
"Starsky is a very private person, Hutch. He will tell you only what he wants you to hear."
Starsky gives everything, but doesn't want anything back; doesn't want any help. Tries to get things done by himself, like right now, running in the night to get rid of his nightmares without trying to talk about his problems.
A knock on the door made me break my train of thoughts.
"Hutchinson, open up." That sounded like Justin Hall, one of the guys in the next room. What the hell was going on? I was on my feet and at the door in two seconds.
"What's up Justin?" I asked looking into two brown eyes edged with fear.
"Starsky... at the hospital with James." He pantd like had been on a marathon."Found him hurt, beaten up near running tracks."
That's all what he could get together..
"What? What did you say? Starsky is at the hospital?"
"Yes... with James."
James was Justin's roommate.
I had known that running at night was a dangerous thing to do even at academy grounds. Starsky never listened to me, and went running by himself. My fault! I should have gone with him; I had just promised Jay that I will take care of him; I had promised myself, and now? I picked up the keys to Starsky's Mustang and was out in no time.
"Wait for me, Hutchinson." Justin yelled, trying to keep up with me.
"I knew this would happen. I warned him so many times," Justin mumbled and I was surprised. How did Justin know about Starsky's running habits? I haven't even seen them talking with each other.
"I mean, no matter how tough you are," Justin was still mumbling.
"Which hospital?" I asked ignoring Justin's comments.
In another ten minutes we were at the hospital, and I ran up to the nurse at the reception desk.
"I'm looking for David Starsky; he was brought in, maybe an hour or so before…"
"Let me check-- and you are?"
"Well sir, there is no one of that name admitted to the hospital. Are you sure he was bought in here?"
"Yes... he was... please, check again."
The nurse checked her records, a frown on her face. I was getting restless by the second. Justin caught up with me just in time.
"They cannot find him. You sure it was Ridgeway," I asked.
"That is what he told me."
Right then I saw a familiar curly head way down the corridor.
"Starsky? What the hell?" He looked quite alright, and surprised to see me there. He was not injured, and it was my turn to be confused. "Starsky, you Okay?"
"Of course, I'm okay. What are you doing here? Did Justin ask you to drive him? Oh, boy, they had done some number on James."
Starsky was not hurt; it was James who was hurt. I never even thought twice that Justin was talking about his roommate being hurt, and not Starsky.
I looked back at the reception desk and saw Justin getting the information from the nurse- He came towards us.
"Room 202. Sorry Hutchinson, I messed up – I... I'm sorry. I wasn't clear. It was James. I'm so sorry man."
"It's alright," I assured him. I was so damn happy that it wasn't Starsky who was in Room 202.
Starsky put his arm around my shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. He understood what had happened.
The three of us headed to James's room. He was all bandaged up; his whole face was swollen to the point of making him unrecognizable. A cut in the lower lip, stitches on the forehead. All of which could have been on Starsky!
I looked at him, feeling relieved that he was not the person lying on this bed, but what if this happens to him, tomorrow? Starsky avoided my stare as if he knew what was going on in my mind. I was not going to let this slip by again- I'll talk to him and get him to stop this night time running ritual. This was sheer madness.
Nobody knew what really happened to James and it was wee hours of the morning when we finally got back to our dorm.
Two days later we learnt that James had a gambling problem. He had borrowed money and apparently lost everything. This was the punishment for not being able to pay back on time.
Starsky didn't go running for one whole week. I knew he became restless during nights, and for once I just couldn't understand why he didn't just do what he normally did. I was relieved, of course, but I was also concerned and confused of this behavior. Nothing could have scared him, but then why?
He paced in our small dorm room, and watching him made me giddy.
"You okay, Buddy?" I asked not being able to take it anymore.
"Will you quit worrying about me like this?" His voice was a combination of frustration, and anger.
I knew right then the reason why Starsky had not gone out to run. It was so clear and I cursed myself for not seeing this before. "Ahh, Starsk." I walked up to him and pulled him towards me.
I noticed, unlike the very first few days at the academy, Starsky didn't flinch when I touched him. He was allowing me to breakdown the walls he had built around him, but there were plenty more to get rid of. It might take a lifetime for me to get to that point, but I will, someday.
"Is that why you stopped running?" I asked gently.
Starsky turned away from me. He didn't want to see me worrying, so he controlled himself- Knowing him, I could only imagine how hard that must have been. He wasn't sleeping well, though, there were no nightmares since we got back from home.
"Didn't wanna see any lines on your forehead." Starsky's words just ripped my heart out. He
"Ah, Buddy. I don't deserve you, you know that? I just don't deserve you." I stared into those deep blue eyes, thinking again and again, how lucky I was to have him as my friend. "Come on, Starsk. It's getting late- If you really want to go running then I will come with you. I need some fresh air, too."
"Nah, 'tis okay. Maybe tomorrow." Starsky fumbled with the door knob. "I'm tired too." He turned away from the door. "All that field training today was just a little too much."
I felt relieved not only because he didn't go out, but also because he didn't object to my suggestion of joining him in his running.
It was past midnight when I was woken up by Starsky's screams. I jumped out of the bed and half asleep, half awake, and stumbled towards his bed.
"No, Don't... not him, Gavin, get out... Gavin... run... Hutch, please… No..., Hutch." Starsky whimpered, thrashing around.
"Starsky... come on, buddy, wake up. Please." I shook him until he opened his eyes. His weary expression told me that he was not out of the dream yet. Like always, his face was wet with sweat. He grabbed my t-shirt.
"What are you doing here, Hutch. This is not the place for you. Why did you come here?" His tone scared the hell out of me. He was talking in a low voice... a voice I had never heard before.
"Starsk, it was a dream... whatever you saw isn't real, buddy. Was just a dream... Look at me."
"Get down - get down," he screamed, and the next minute I was on the ground, with Starsky on top of me covering me and shielding me from… from... something or someone that I didn't know of.
"Why did you come here, Hutch? I told you to stay away," He said harshly, and I stared at the floor beneath me, helpless to move or to do anything or say anything. In his mind Starsky was in Viet Nam- That much I understood; for some reason I was in his nightmares now, with Gavin- the guy he always shouts for-
I pushed Starsky from me onto the floor and saddled him, pulling him towards me so that we were facing each other.
"Look at me, Starsk. We are in the dorm room at the academy. We are not in a jungle- There's no Gavin here. It's only me-- Hutch-"
"No Gavin?" Starsky's voice was only a whisper.
"I don't know where Gavin is, but I know where you and I are, and it is not in a jungle buddy, so cut it out, and get yourself together."
I was for sure annoyed with this Gavin character no matter who he was. I knew he was someone important in Starsky's life, but I didn't like the fact that Starsky kept on saying his name in his nightmares.
"You are not in Nam? We are not in Nam?" Starsky asked, confused.
"No, Buddy. We are not. I have never been to Nam, and I never will. So stop worrying. I'm here with you- No one got me, okay?"
"'Kay, but they got Gavin."
"Who? The VCs?"
"No, not them," Starsky said, his eyes wet with tears.
"Starsk," I laid my palm on his cheek. His pain was unbearable, and I felt it cut right through my heart.
"I killed him. I killed all of them," he said, laying his head on my shoulder, his body shaking with sobs.
I stroked his head, allowing him to wash his sorrow, knowing that nothing would ever bring back the peaceful mind he had before going to Nam.
"Let it out, Buddy. I'm here- I've got you- I've got you, babe." I whispered against his ear.
Knowing Starsky, if he says that he killed them, it means that he believes that he is responsible for whoever got killed. In his mind he truly feels that he killed them.
"Hutch... promise me." He moved from my shoulder, wiping his wet cheeks with the back of his hand.
"Anything," I said, placing my hands on either side of his shoulders.
"Never go to Nam," he looked straight into my eyes.
I had to get him talk about his ordeal before he goes through another series of nightmares- "Starsk, who is Gavin?"
"My buddy," Starsky answered.
It was a start.
"In Nam?" I asked
"But I'm your buddy, now, correct?" I asked trying to bring some laughter into his eyes. It worked… his mouth twitched.
"Yeah you are," he said, brushing his knuckles against my cheeks.
"So… are you going to tell me about Gavin? Because you have to tell everything to your buddy, you know."
"Oh, yeah? Says who?"
"Says me. So are you or aren't you?"
"Are you sure you want to know, Hutch? Because it is no fairy tale, and you may not want to be my buddy anymore."
"Well, then, I sure have to know what it is, right? I mean if this is a dark secret of yours then I've got to know it, and you've to be honest with your buddy, right? "
Starsky sighed and closed his eyes, allowing his head to drop.
The floor was cold, hard and uncomfortable. I stood up trying to get Starsky on his feet as well. "Come to bed. My ass is numb, sitting on the floor like that." I pulled him towards me; he didn't argue but followed my cue. I was nervous, but patient. Whatever he was going to tell me, I knew in my heart that nothing could change the way I felt about him.
With another deep sigh Starsky began to unfold his nightmare. "It all happened because I couldn't figure out who Carl really was."
"Carl? Then what about Gavin?"
"Carl I knew from the days of Special training- I met Gavin after we were transferred to Nam- Gavin was in my unit – he was a sweet kid- just out of school, but I had never seen anyone brave and determined like that – He always tagged along with me – treated me like his big brother. I kind of took him under my wing, if you know what I mean. I felt responsible for him, more than what I felt for others- Once I saved him from getting killed by the VCs, and he swore that day that if he had to, he will die for me, someday. And that is just the thing he did at the end."
Starsky closed his eyes, trying to shutout the memories, and I wondered whether I did the right thing by pushing him to talk about his past. After a while of silence Starsky continued.
Carl was his friend. Correction! He thought Carl was his friend. They had the Special Force training together. But Carl was a racist, and not only hated but also was jealous of Starsky from day one. Starsky, who could sense and feel a man for what he is, and who he is, failed to see the sick man Carl were behind the flashing bright smiles. He never saw the real Carl until it was too late.
That day in the jungle, when Carl had betrayed him, it was a Vietnamese family, that rescued him and cared for him. They were farmers. It was their 15 year old son, Sinh, who came across wounded Starsky in the jungle. Sinh had dragged Starsky to his home. Sinh's parents were furious for what he had done, but Sinh had insisted on taking care of Starsky. For one full week they had hid him in a storage hut, and a village doctor had tended to his wounds. They had to get him out to the military camp but couldn't take the risk. Sinh had seen who shot Starsky.
Starsky was the best in the group, he was the best sniper, best stalker, best tracker, best of everything. He even had good looks, but he was Jewish. Carl was waiting for the correct moment to finish him. He had hidden the hatred he felt very well. Gaining Starsky's trust and being his friend was the best way and the easiest to destroy him. When they were assigned to camps, Carl made sure he was close to Starsky's. When Starsky's group was raiding one of the enemy camps Carl followed them and in a minute when Starsky was separated from the group, seized his opportunity and shot Starsky in the back. Before he could make sure Starsky was dead he heard footsteps and fled the scene. The kid Sinh had found Starsky on the ground, and he noticed that Starsky was still alive. He dragged him away and covered up all the tell tale signs of what had happened.
Carl may have came back later to take care of Starsky's body before anyone of the military could find him, but Starsky's 'body' was gone.
Neither Starsky's men nor Carl knew what had happened to Starsky until they got a tip that the village doctor was making frequent visits to one storage hut in the middle of the jungle. They were not sure who was been treated by the doctor but went to check it out. When Starsky's men finally found Starsky, Carl had followed them and found Starsky very much alive. He had to finish what he started. Starsky could do nothing but watch his men being gunned down by Carl, one by one. He screamed at Sinh, who was spending most of his time in the storage hut with Starsky, to run, as soon as he saw Carl turning the gun on his men.
Carl had then turned to finish Starsky. He saw the hatred in Carl's eyes – as he aimed the gun at Starsky. In milliseconds the gun went off and Starsky felt an excruciating pain in his leg. When he gained consciousness he was in a wooden cage of VC's. He had been captured after the bloodbath brought about by Carl. Starsky was a POW for 4 months before he was finally rescued.
He learnt later that Carl had been shot at the same time he had pulled the trigger on Starsky. It was one of his wounded men, Gavin, who had saved Starsky before death engulfed him. Starsky had multiple gunshot wounds to his torso and his right leg. But he survived. His men had died for him. His men had been killed by one of their own and he could do nothing to save them. What became of Sinh and his family that saved him, he still didn't know. He may never know.
"I didn't even get to go to the funeral of my men, and they died because of me. I got them killed, Hutch. I killed them." Starsky's trembling voice reflected the deep pain and guilt he was bearing within himself.
"It is not your fault, Starsky. You didn't kill them. " I held him, not wanting to let go, ever. I didn't want to break the contact between him and me, ever.
"I was protecting them from the VCs for that moment. I didn't know which would have been the worst- killed by the VCs or betrayed by your own."
"Lot of things that happens in our lives doesn't make sense, Starsk."
"Tell me about it. I never understood why my friends died and I survived - I'm the one that should have died that day, but I survived- I should have died, but I still live- I don't understand why." Starsky said, trying to break free from my grip.
"Do you want to know why you survived? Do you want to know why you are alive?" I asked, and he became quiet.
"God couldn't let you die because this world needs people like you, Starsk- Everyone needs a 'Starsky' in their life, and you were spared because you are the Starsky in my life. Do you understand? If you think your life is not worth saving, then my life is not worth living either." I stood up, and moved away from him.
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Starsky asked his eyes blazing with anger and confusion. "Your life is not worth living? Are you crazy? How could you think that your life is not worth living..? You are a good man, a respectable man, but I-- I'm just another guy who grew up on the dirty streets of New York. Sent to California by my mother because I ran with a rough crowd after my father was gunned down. I was a monster, Hutch. I spent most of the time on streets. Grew up with sons of criminals and thugs, and then in Nam I killed for a living—"
"Are you done?" I stopped him from saying more. "Are you done? Now you listen to me carefully, you stupid idiot!" I moved in front of him trapping him between me and the bed headboard.
"You have the most wonderful loving family I have ever seen. You have a family that truly loves you-- loves you for who you are; in your own words, you survived and you are still alive because of them, aren't you? So did you just think for one second why they love you so much? Rose, Al and Jay—God, Starsk, you are their life. Don't you see that? You are their reason to live. Your love is what keeps them going on, too? And for me, I have been praying so hard, everyday in my life, for a friend who genuinely cared about me, and God just couldn't help but protect you and send you here safe so that you could save my life. I'm alive today because you were there for me. You cared enough to come inside that goddamn bar I went to the very first day I came to Bay City. You came in, not even knowing the real Hutchinson, and you stuck with me even after knowing all my faults and my stupid ways and everything. I will never let you go, Starsk. You are stuck with me for life, pal. You asked for it that day when you stepped into that bar to save me. "
"Hutch," Starsky whispered, his eyes were full of tears.
"You didn't kill your friends, Starsk. One sick man who was out of control did it to them, and they died saving a life of a man who is worth thousands of all of them put together."
Starsky leaned against me. His tears were for his friends, for not being able to save them, for being betrayed by one of their own, for being alive while his loved ones died.
I held him against my chest resting my cheek on his head, gently kneading my fingers thorough his hair. I wished I could take his pain away, and fill his heart with happy memories, laughter and joy. I couldn't do the former, but I could do the latter.
"No more tears, Starsk. No more nightmares- Whatever life throws at you, I will be there to take it, too, you and I, from now onwards. Do you hear me?"
He nodded, unable to speak- It was enough.
I planted a soft kiss on his head, and the words "I love you, Starsk," were out of my mouth without even thinking. I just couldn't control my tongue, again!
"Love you too, Hutch! – but don't get any ideas into that blond head of yours. You know that--"
"I know, I know. The blonds you love have a different anatomy." I completed his sentence smiling like an idiot.
Starsky chuckled. He raised his head and planted his hands beside my face, pulling me towards him. He gave a big smacking kiss on my forehead, flashing the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
I knew that no matter what was in store for us in the future, we will be able to get through anything, as long as we were together.
************************************ - The End - ****************************************************