Okay, I bet you won’t bring a bigger pumpkin to Rosie’s next weekend than me!” Starsky said confidently pulling the Torino into the parking lot of Parker Center.


When Hutch didn’t answer he looked questioningly at his partner and for a moment he wasn’t so sure about the bet. Hutch was smiling cryptically. Then he opened the glove compartment, took his sunglasses and put them on. He looked back at his partner and his smile became even harder to interprete.


“You agree about the bet?” Starsky asked and continued, “if I've got the bigger pumpkin I can decide which costume you’re going to wear on Halloween. If you win you can choose mine.”


“It’s a deal,” Hutch said pointing his finger at Starsky. Whistling, he got out of the car and Starsky felt uncomfortable.


If Hutch won Starsky would have to wear another ridiculous costume like last year. Hutch in contrast had put on his sleeve a little button with a witch on it. That’s all.


Hutch had had too much fun embarrassing Starsky in front of the Dobeys at the Halloween party, so this year it had to be different.


Starsky had made some special preparations to be the winner this time. He knew that Hutch had good connections to a gardener who harvested quite big pumpkins and he knew that Hutch would go there to get the biggest pumpkin.


Starsky hid a smile as he followed his partner into the precinct. If Hutch knew…!




“Uncle Dave!” Rosie was about to throw herself into Starsky’s arms but was hindered by the big pumpkin Starsky was carrying. “Wow, that’s a big one!” she admitted and drew Starsky into the hall.


“Uncle Ken is already in the kitchen. His pumpkin is verrry big, too.”


“Really?” There was the strange feeling again, that he was fooled by Hutch.


“Attention!” Starsky entered the room and put the heavy vegetable on the kitchen table. Breathless, Starsky looked over at Hutch, who had a huge pumpkin in front of him. However, there was no doubt that Starsky’s pumpkin was much larger than Hutch’s.


“What’s up?” Starsky grinned at his pale faced friend. “It looks like I won the bet. But don’t worry, I’ve brought a cute costume for you, schweetheart.” He tousled the blond hair but his hand was quickly batted away.


“Don’t tell me they sold this one at the market,” Hutch growled. “Where did you get it?”


“Well, there’s a gardener my best buddy knows. He sold me this wonderful specimen.”


Starsky couldn’t hide his joy any longer.


“I’ll be back in a minute.” Starsky hurried out of the room, leaving behind a dumbfounded partner and a giggling Rosie.


“Here’s the surprise –,” Starsky swaggered back into the kitchen holding a parcel under his arm. Hutch snatched at it but Starsky was faster and hid it behind his back.


“Later, sonny-boy. You’ll see your costurme early enough. First let’s carve our pumpkins into scary heads, okay? Rosie, can you give us two sharp knives – be careful -  and fetch a bowl for the innards of the pumpkins, please.” Hutch growled something unintelligible. Only when Rosie looked at him with concern, a little smile crossed his face and he winked at her.


“Here you are.” Rosie watched as Starsky rolled up his sleeves and examined his pumpkin expertly.


“Mine’s going to be a scary face, I promise. Rosie, look at Uncle Ken and tell me if he’s still pouting. I can use his expression for my pumpkin.” Rosie nodded solemnly and checked Hutch’s face for Starsky.


Hutch took pity on the little lady and drew her to his side.


“Rosie is going to help me to make the scariest pumpkin this street has ever seen!” Hutch exclaimed.


Rosie proposed “Let’s start with the eyes.”


They worked on heir pumpkins and when Edith came into the kitchen the bowl was almost filled with the innards of the pumpkins.


“You’ve been really busy, lady and gentlemen,” Edith smiled. “In case you’re hungry I’ve prepared some sandwiches.”


“We’re finished anyway.” Starsky looked proudly at his pumpkin. He had to admit that Hutch and Rosie had done their job, too. The pumpkins looked eerie.


“Ken and Dave, Rosie told me tomorrow there’s a Halloween party at the amusement park. Don’t you think she’s a bit too young for it?” Edith was concerned at her daughter’s wish to attend the party.


“Don’t worry, Edith,” Hutch assured her. “We promised Rosie a big party, since last year we had to leave early.”


“Yes, Mom. I’m older this year and Uncle Ken and Dave are with me – and my friends from school have promised to come, too,” Rosie begged and Edith smiled at last.


“Okay. - Dave, what are you wearing this time? Your costume from last year was unique!”


“You haven’t seen Hutch’s costume for tomorrow,” Starsky beamed at her, “you’ll forget all what you’ve seen before!”


“Oh, I want to see it!” Rosie shouted eagerly.


Hutch said in the same breath: “No way!”


“Hey Blondie, don't panic! Edith, can we use your bathroom for a moment?  Hutch is going to need some assistance trying his costurme on,” Starsky smirked.


Hutch got up from the chair to flee the kitchen, but Rosie hung onto him.


“Pretty, pretty please, show us your costume!” Flanked by Rosie and Starsky, Hutch was gently pushed toward the bathroom. Starsky held the parcel and was about to join Hutch. The parcel was yanked from his hand and the bathroom door slammed shut.


“Okay, okay…,” Starsky mumbled, then turned to Rosie: “C’mon, sweetie, I’m starving, what about you?”


They were eating their sandwiches when they heard a door open. Expectantly they looked up – and Rosie almost choked on her sandwich.


“Who’s that?” she whispered when a tall man in red stepped into the room. He wore a red cap, dark sunglasses and a white beard. His bright red suit had Chinese signs on the front and yellow flames on each side. A yellow-red garland was slung around his shoulders.


“Starsk, I’ll never forgive you for this!” Rosie recognized Hutch’s voice.


She shouted: “Mom, look what Uncle Ken’s wearing!”


“Psssst, don’t tell,” Hutch sounded embarrassed.


“You look great, really!” Starsky was contented with his choice of costume he had got from Huggy’s cousin. “You always said you liked Hulk Hogan, so it should be an honor for you to represent him this Halloween.”


At that moment Dobey was heard coming into the house. “Who are you?” he exclaimed in shock.


Hutch faced him. “Cap, it’s me...”


“Hutchinson?” Surprised, their superior looked at his detective. Starsky was standing by his partner’s side, grinning broadly.


“So I assume you’re practicing for some kind of party...” Dobey snorted and Hutch nodded uncomfortably.


“Tomorrow there’s the inauguration of the haunted house in the amusement park,” Starsky explained. “We promised to accompany Rosie this year.”


“Hey, little lady, are you up to go with these two?” Dobey smiled at his daughter.


She nodded her head and said confidently: “It’ll be great, dad!”


“Please, excuse me.” Hutch disappeared into the bathroom to get rid of the costume. Hulk Hogan! Honestly said, Starsky’s batman outfit with the tight leggings from last year had made him smile, too. And this year he had lost the bet and had to bear with the wrestler.


The heck with it!




“Get in, sweet lady!” Hutch said as he helped Rosie into the car. She wore a black costume with a big plush spider on her shoulder.


“What a cute witch!” Starsky said and pushed part of Hutch’s garland out of his face. Rosie was covered with it now and she sneezed.


“It’s smelling strange,” Rosie sniffled


Hutch stated dryly: “Moth powder.”


Soon they arrived at the entrance of the amusement park where a crowd was waiting to be let in. Most of them were in costumes and after a while Hutch got used to his look. He glanced at his partner who wore a striped t-shirt with tight old jeans. “Quite extreme,” Hutch said sarcastically.


“More than you dared last year, buddy.” Starsky smiled as he pinched Hutch gently in his side at a ticklish spot and Hutch cringed. Rosie dragged them to the ghost train where she had arranged to meet her friends.


“I hope it isn’t tall. Ya know I can’t stand heights,” Starsky noted quietly.


Hutch calmed him just as quietly. “It’s so dark inside, buddy, you won’t see anything, I promise.”


“Really? Very mollifying indeed!” Starsky sounded insecure and leaned unconsciously against his partner.


“Can I drive with you two?” Rosie took Starsky’s hand and pointed to the next free car. They sat down and fastened the security belts.


“I’m so excited,” Rosie whispered when the train was set in motion. Both men put their arms around the girl, waiting for what was to come.


“Eeewww!” Rosie screamed when round the next corner a skeleton appeared right over their heads, almost touching them.


“The next interrogation will be here,” Starsky said. “They’ll confess I bet. - . What was that?” Something black had lightly touched his face and disappeared on the left.


“The bat of the house,” Hutch chuckled, gripping the bar in front of him harder when suddenly the train moved to the right. Creepy fog rose from the floor and the cabins turned a little. On the opposite side they saw themselves in mirrors and it seemed that behind each cabin a ghost was hovering. Rosie hid her face in Starsky’s shirt and Hutch noticed that his friend was looking a bit frightened, too.


Slowly Hutch raised his arm and let it fall heavily on Starsky’s shoulder. Starsky jerked.


“Hutch! The ghost is touching me! I wanna get out!”


“What’s the buzz? Can’t I put my arm on your shoulder?” Hutch smiled and thought to himself: sweet revenge for the pumpkin bet.


The train rushed forward. Red glowing eyes were watching them from the right and left. In the pitchblack darkness it seemed they were coming nearer, getting bigger with every moment.


Hutch closed his eyes and tightened his grip around Rosie...


“Is it already the end?” Starsky asked somewhat relieved when the train slowed down.


Hutch opened his eyes again. “Don’t think so,” he mumbled.


On the left side mysterious lights appeared and you could see shadows of three fighting men. One of them held a long knife in his hand and tried to stab the other man. The third man lost his balance and it looked as if he fell over a cliff, his scream lingering.


Suddenly the concussion of a shot was heard and it was dark again. The show was over. Bright light awaited them when the train went through the last curtain. Hutch put his Hulk Hogan sunglasses on again.


“Rosie, sweetheart, are you okay?” Starsky asked their little passenger.


“Yeah, it was great.” Rosie nodded still cuddled in the protective arms of her friends.


“They shot him!”


The frantic cry came from the inside of the haunted house. Both detectives jerked around.


“My God, it isn’t one of the attractions, is it?” Starsky fumbled with his seatbelt to get out of the cabin.


Hutch was faster and jumped out, ripping the yellow-red garland in the process. He ran back through the heavy red curtain – and was rooted to the spot. He couldn’t see anything, only hearing the next train approach. “Damn!” He dropped the sunglasses and hurried along the rails.


A train passed by and he heard children cry out: “Eeewww! A red monster!”


Then it was dark again. Hutch felt his way carefully and bumped into a wall. Then he heard a movement behind him and quickly turned around to face his follower, cursing in his mind that he didn’t have his weapon. It was too late. Something heavy crashed against him and he fought it by wrestling it down. Another train was heard.


“Look, a Hulk Hogan fight – good idea,” a male voice said. Shortly the scene was illuminated and the striped t-shirt beneath Hutch looked quite familiar.


“Starsk,” Hutch mumbled, startled as he released his partner's throat. “I thought…”


“No big deal,” Starsky croaked catching his breath.


Hutch hauled him up and held him close.


“Have you found out what happened?” Starsky whispered and Hutch shook his head.


“No, but here’s a small corridor – let’s check it out.”


Both men sidled along the walls.


“They shot him!”


They rushed forward till they reached a door. Underneath could be seen a ray of light.


Hutch pushed open the door and shouted: “Freeze! Police!”


“Help! I didn’t do anything!” An older man shot up from his seat raising his arms. Behind him were the monitors that showed the main sections of the attraction. They were in the control center of the haunted house.


“They shot him!”


“Parry, stop it – or they’ll arrest you!” The old man looked over to the colored parrot that was sitting on a branch in front of the monitors moving his head up and down in excitement.


“It was the parrot screaming like a human?” Starsky approached the bird that had ignored him so far. Then it turned its head to look at Starsky.


“They shot him! Boo!”


Not believing what he had just heard Hutch came nearer, too.


The parrot looked at the person dressed in red and yellow. He shook his head, fluffed up his feathers and croaked: “Boo!”


“Sorry, mister, but can you tell me where you got this bird?” Hutch asked, and the owner of the etablissement willingly gave the answer.


“I bought Parry from the tropical house this year. Visitors had complained that he frightened them with his unusual comments. I thought he would suit my haunted house.”


“Hey Parry, friend, do you recognize me?” Starsky held his hand up. “Last year on Halloween you helped us to arrest a bad guy – your “Boo!” made him give up. Nice to meet you again.”


Starsky’s finger was under the parrot’s beak now. The bird lowered his head and nibbled carefully on Starsky’s finger.


“Hutch, he is the same bird! And he recognized me!” Starsky was overwhelmed and Hutch gave a sigh of relief and motioned the owner to relax.


“Well, then our job is done here. Sorry for the inconvenience. C’mon, Starsk, we have to look for Rosie.”


“See ya, sweetie,” Starsky crooned to the bird as he moved to the door.


“Gentlemen, just a question. I’m still looking for an attraction for my ghost train. I can give you a job here. The people like a good Hulk Hogan fight. You won’t regret it…” The man smiled encouragingly.


“Thanks, maybe next time,” Hutch was already out of the door. Starsky rolled his eyes apologetically and followed him.


A soft “Boo!” accompanied them.


“There’s one thing I’d like to know though,” Hutch said pensively when they had found the exit and stepped into the sunlight of the late afternoon.


“What is it, buddy?” Starsky said, snaking his arm around Hutch’s waist.


“How come they gave you the biggest pumpkin at my shop?”


Immediately Starsky released Hutch. Lightly embarrassed he admitted: “Well, it was because I promised to buy all the Halloween stuff for Hug’s bar at his shop. You understand?”


“Only too well!” Hutch hissed and trapped Starsky in a double nelson. All the kids at the entrance, among them Rosie, applauded and cheered when they saw the funny performance of “Hulk Hogan” and his sparring partner.



The end



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