Hutch was looking forward to a quiet evening with his best friend and partner. Loaded with a six-pack of beer and two extra large pizzas, he rang the bell but nobody answered. He rang again and called, “Starsk, it’s me,” his voice already a bit forced.

“Use your key,” came the muffled voice from inside, and Hutch suppressed a curse.

“It’s not that easy, buddy.” He balanced the food and tried to reach his back pocket to get the key.

“Shit!” He swore as the pizzas dropped on the floor. Hutch was relieved that he at least had saved the bottles of beer.

Opening the door, he picked up the pizzas and entered Starsky’s apartment, striding toward the kitchen when his glance fell on his partner. Sitting in the living room in front of the waste paper basket, Starsky appeared busy with his work.

“Anything lost there?” Hutch asked sarcastically as he put the pizzas on the table and began to unwrap them carefully.

“I’ve found somethin’, look!” Fascinated, Starsky looked into the basket, his eyes wide with excitement.

“Must be something real exceptional, that you forget about pizza,” Hutch teased.

“Hey, you’re so cute!” Starsky responded - yet he didn’t move.

“I know, I know,” Hutch answered drily.  Then, out of curiosity he went into the living room, opening a bottle of beer. He peered over Starsky’s slumped back to look into the wastebasket too.

“Aren’t they cute? Look Hutch, one of them is wiping its mouth!”

Hutch couldn’t believe his eyes and choked on his beer.

“Starsky! Those are two mice! What are mice doing in your apartment?!”

Horrible pictures of hundreds of mice overcrowding Starsky’s place crossed Hutch’s mind as Starsky snatched the beer bottle from his hands and took a hearty drink.

“I found them in the bushes near the wall,” Starsky explained, still excited.  “They’re newborns; their mother must have abandoned them. Look, their eyes are still closed.”

Hutch looked again at the tiny creatures, and had to admit they looked very vulnerable and unprotected. Still he shook his head. “Starsk, you can’t do this. Eventually they’ll have babies and then…”

“Stuff it, Hutchinson! Don’t you see that they’re near death? We’ve gotta feed them. Did you bring milk?”

“Got some goat’s milk at my place,” Hutch mumbled -- then scolded himself for indulging his friend.

“You wanna poison these cuties?” Starsky asked reproachfully, then got up, thinking hard. Just as he was about to take another sip from the beer, Hutch retrieved it and took a long swallow of his own.

“Why not let them taste the pizza?” he proposed, grinning. “If goats’ milk is poison, pizza should be great.”

Intentionally sarcastic, Hutch didn’t believe the mice were capable of eating pizza, hoping instead that Starsky would realize what a crazy idea it was to keep mice in his apartment.

“Hey, that’s a great idea!” Starsky was already on his way to the kitchen, leaving Hutch staring down at the basket incredulously. The mice were tiny but their little whiskers trembled as they sniffed around. One was crawling over the other as it reached for the basket side.

“Here we go.” Starsky appeared with their pizzas on a tray. He put it on the coffee table then picked out a small morsel to put it in the basket with the tiny mice.

The little ones approached the dough cautiously – then began to nibble in earnest, clearly pleased with their new find.

“Hutch! They’re eating!” Starsky’s face was exuberant. He drew a puzzled Hutch down beside him onto the couch announcing, “Great! We can all have dinner together now!”

Hutch sighed, not wanting to spoil Starsky’s joy about his guests, but he knew the mice couldn’t stay. One of them had already tried to climb the walls of the basket, and before long they both would be out ...  He refused to think what would happen next.

They ate in silence, interrupted only by Starsky getting up every minute to check on the young mice.  Finally he relaxed and leaned back into the cushions as Hutch finished his beer then stretched before slumping back against the headrest.

“Ya need a massage?”  Starsky knew from Hutch’s movements that he was having trouble with his back hurting him again. He squeezed Hutch’s shoulder and motioned him to turn until he sat with his back toward Starsky.

Hutch gave an appreciative moan when Starsky kneaded the tense muscles along Hutch’s spine. Feeling Hutch’s body go limp, Starsky smiled fondly at his friend. “Get some rest, buddy,” he advised softly.  “It was a long day.”

“Just for a minute,” Hutch murmured, closing his eyes and leaning trustfully against his friend.

Shifting to find a more comfortable position, Starsky put his arm over Hutch’s, his gaze drifting toward the wastebasket again. Listening to their scuffling sounds, he smiled happily and drifted off into a contented doze.


Starsky awoke to the unpleasant feeling of thousands of needles stinging his right arm, and he forced himself not to jerk it away. Hutch’s weight had cut off his circulation, which was now painfully making its return. Slowly Starsky drew his arm free and flexed his muscles, smiling as Hutch mumbled in his sleep and curled against the cushions again.

Silently Starsky got up to move the pizza tray and plates into the kitchen, glancing into the paper basket as he rose. A little gray mouse was trying to climb the walls of the basket - only one mouse this time. Peering more closely, Starsky knew he had brought home two mice ... his heart sank as a terrible suspicion arose.


He received no reaction, and cold sweat appeared on Starsky’s brow.   “One of the mice is gone. Hutch, I can’t see the second one.”

Frantically searching, Starsky dropped to his knees and crawled round the coffee table. He bumped one corner and sent an empty bottle noisily rolling off onto the hardwood floor.

“What the ...?” Still half asleep, Hutch raised his head at the noise, frowning as he opened his eyes. He looked over just in time to see
Starsky’s butt disappearing behind the armrest of the couch.

“Shit!” The curse came from behind the couch just before Starsky’s head popped up.

Hutch turned to see Starsky holding a paper in his hand. “This is the receipt I’ve been looking for since last June,” he muttered. But it didn’t make him look happy, and Hutch shook his head as he sat up.

“Good time to clean your apartment, buddy. I thought we were going to relax,” Hutch yawned. The next moment he tensed.

“Starsk? I can only see one mouse in the basket now.”

“Why do you think why I’m crawling around here like a beetle?” Starsky grumbled -- and suddenly Hutch knew it all.

“One of the mice escaped, didn’t it? Starsky, didn’t I tell you..?” Then Hutch’s anger faded as he met Starsky’s desperate eyes.

“I declare the search open,” Hutch stated, without any humor. And despite his complaining back, he joined Starsky on his knees looking for the tiny gray mouse.

“Over there! In the bedroom!” Hutch shouted.  He’d seen a flash of gray movement on the floor of the adjoining room. Both detectives got to their feet and tiptoed toward the bedroom door.

“Look!” Hutch drew Starsk to his side and pointed to the nightstand next to Starsky’s bed.  Proudly, like a queen, the little creature was sitting upright eying her domain.

“Hey there, you’re the best, sweetheart,” Starsky crooned. “C’mon over here.”  Starsky tried the soft approach, crawling toward the mouse at a snails’ pace. She was almost within his reach when she darted out of sight under the bed.

In a silent conversation Starsky and Hutch planned the next step. Starsky crouched next to his bed from the left side while Hutch forced himself under the bed from the right. Feeling around for the mouse, Hutch suppressed his urge to sneeze from all the dust.

Meanwhile Starsky worked his way along the floor under his side of the bed, stopping abruptly when his hand groped a belt and bare skin.

“That’s me, idiot,” Hutch growled at him -- then gave a violent sneeze.

His hand resting by his partner, Starsky stopped moving and relaxed. Only their breathing could be heard.  Then Starsky began to giggle uncontrollably.

“If Dobey saw us, together under the bed…” Starsky gasped, forcing Hutch to start laughing too.

“Better than in the bed,” Hutch added ... then frolicking laughter filled the room for the next span of time.

Finally exhausted, the two men emerged from under the bed – without the mouse but in a state of friskiness. Locking glances, they knew what they had to do, and Starsky followed his partner to the living room.

The remaining mouse was trying desperately to escape the basket and had made it halfway up the side when a large hand grabbed it and put it into a bag.

“Ouch!” Hutch yelped. “It bit me!”  He pointed the Hutchinson finger at his partner and glared as he tightly closed the bag.  Without a word the pair left the apartment and followed the path to a field.

“Here you go,” Starsky said, taking the bag out of Hutch’s hand.  He shook it gently on the ground so the mouse could leave.

“Look at the bag, Starsk,” Hutch nodded -- and Starsky couldn’t believe his eyes. The tiny creature had already gnawed a hole through the bag and was long gone.

Wow, I never thought ...” Starsky murmured, shaking his head. “When I saw the baby mice it seemed like a good idea at the time to take care of them.”

“And now?”  Hutch draped an arm around Starsky’s shoulder as he spoke.

“No more mice – one’s enough.” Starsky shuddered thinking of the mouse still running loose in his apartment somewhere.

The two men walked back slowly, stopping outside Starsky’s place instead of going inside.  After a short conversation which both ended by nodding, they got into Hutch’s battered LTD and drove away toward Hutch’s home - leaving the mouse behind.

The End


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