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THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL

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“When you said you could do a good head stand, the guy looked a little
irritated and now I know why,” Starsky chuckled when they left the
alleged “employment” agency.

After examining them from head to toe, a greasy guy named Jace had
whistled then appreciatively announced they had just the right “look”
for the job. Starsky and Hutch had looked at each other eagerly, filled
with anticipation for their new job.

Obviously it was gladly accepted that they worked as partners, and only
when half naked women strolled through the room did the former
detectives exchange a questioning glance. One of the women in an open
robe approached, asking Jace for a light and he complained that her teeth wouldn’t stay white that way. She merely smiled and mentioned that they weren’t interested in her face on the set.

It was at that point Starsky and Hutch realized they had ended up in an
obscure office, being hired as actors in a porn movie. Assuring the
grinning man that Hutch needed more experience, Starsky had shoved the
puzzled blonde outside.

“So you think I’m not experienced enough?” Hutch looked at Starsky then
grinned at the mischievous smile on Starsky’s face.

“Be that as it may, we’re still without a job, buddy. Let’s have a beer
at Huggy’s. Time will tell,” Starsky said philosophically and went over
to the parked Torino. He was about to open the door when he suddenly
hesitated.

“Hey, you thinking about taking the job Jace offered?” Hutch smirked,
but Starsky shook his head and pointed to the next corner.

“That’s it! As I told you: Time will tell.” Starsky clasped his hands
and his eyes began to sparkle.

Hutch followed Starsky’s gaze and saw a large black poster on the wall
of an old building, stating in big red letters “Boogie Night -- the
biggest California dancing contest yet. The winner takes  all--
$30,000! Tonight! Ladies are free!”

Hutch looked blank then shrugged his shoulders, impatiently tapping on
the roof of the car. “We’re going or what?”

“Sure, we are. You can wear your black corduroys and the green shirt,”
Starsky babbled as he opened the door. He slid behind the wheel as
Hutch got in the other side.


“You must be running a fever,” Hutch grumbled, laying a hand on
Starsky’s forehead. “What in heaven’s name are ya talking about?!”

Starsky turned toward his partner, batting the hand away. “Hutch,
listen. We’re gonna enter that dancing contest this evening. Look,
there’s no better chance to get 30.000 bucks. I need the money badly
and you don’t wanna touch your grandfather’s trust. It’s easy money and
we’re in good shape to win!”

“In your dreams!” Hutch snorted, paused for a moment then smiled
encouragingly.

“It’s your decision and you’ll do great, but leave me outa this.  You
know, it’s not my thing and there’s no way I’ll disgrace myself out
there. And what is Boogie, anyway?”

For just a moment Starsky looked uncertain but then started the car,
accelerating so quickly Hutch was thrown back against the headrest.
“Boogie is a dance,” he explained then, “very easy to learn. You’ll
see, you’ll be almost perfect in no time.” Humming an unknown tune
Starsky headed in direction of his place and Hutch had a dark sense of
foreboding, wishing they were going to Huggy’s instead.

***


“Ouch! Hutch, that foot was mine!” Starsky yelped, bouncing on one foot
as he clutched his leg.

“Okay!  That does it!” Unnerved, Hutch went to the record player and
stopped the music. “I told you before I can’t dance and now you’ve seen
it for yourself.”  He grabbed his jacket off a nearby chair. “Have fun
on your Boogie night! I’m going home!” And with that Hutch was out the
door.

“Hutch! You can’t leave me alone with this!”

Knowing his protest went unheard, Starsky slumped down on the couch,
massaging his painful toes. He had to admit it had been a disaster
trying to teach Hutch how to dance, especially the Boogie Woogie.
Clumsily Hutch had grabbed Starsky’s hand only to twist his own when he
tried to turn Starsky around. Starsky sighed, resigned.

He wasn’t sure if he should go to the contest alone, but he definitely
needed the money and he’d always loved to dance. Disenchanted that it
wouldn’t be “Me and Thee” this time, Starsky went and fixed a light
dinner for himself, then settled in front of the TV. He dozed off,
dreaming of a beautiful dancing partner that became more ugly with
every dance, Shortly before the last dance the woman in his arms had
mutated in a person that  more and more resembled Harold Dobey, his
superior.

Starsky woke up sweating. What a crazy dream! He headed for the
shower, still undecided about participating in the contest that night.
$30.000. The figure kept dancing before his eyes. Finally he took a
deep breath and said to his mirror image, “I’ll do it! I gotta try!”

He shaved more carefully than usual, and took extra time to choose just
the right outfit for the night, deciding on black slacks and a white
shirt. He made some tentative dance moves and knew he had enough
mobility to get the difficult steps done with ease.

He left home whistling, looking forward to an exciting night at the
dancing hall.

***

Hutch had turned the TV off and sat sprawled on the couch, grabbing the
book he’d been wanting to read. He’d just leafed through the first
pages when it occurred him he was thirsty and had nothing to drink. He
trudged into the kitchen, finding himself doing some of the dance steps
Starsky had shown him that afternoon.

Ridiculous, Hutch scolded himself, getting a beer from the fridge, then
returning to the sofa to read. Boogie Night, what a name – and what a
dance! Hutch looked at his watch. Only 9 p.m. He couldn’t explain why
he felt so restless. He wasn’t missing Starsky, was he? Naw ...

Maybe if he only took a look at the contest and didn’t participate.  At
least he could see how his partner fared ... before he knew, Hutch had
showered and shaved and was on his way to the dancing hall. He didn’t
even realize he was wearing the black slacks and the green shirt
Starsky had mentioned earlier.

***


“Ladies’ choice!”

The caller encouraged more women to find a dancing partner for the
contest. Starsky had been snagged by a red-haired beauty when he first
entered the hall and was now waiting with an arm around her shoulders
for the first round.

“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, let’s start the fun,” the announcer
declared.  “This is a marathon dancing contest and the pair that has
the power to dance till our Boogie session ends the contest, will win
30.000 smack-a-roos!”

When he paused, preparing to signal the DJ to start the music, a murmur
was heard at the entrance door; everyone looked over to see  several
women rushing over to claim the tall blond who had just entered the
room.

“Hutch!” Starsky shouted and waved wildly in Hutch’s direction.  His
heartbeat accelerated, he was so happy to see his partner, arriving
late but not too late. Hutch had no chance to refuse one girl’s request
to dance with her and found himself on the dancing floor near his
beaming friend. “Hutch, wow, I can’t believe it! You’re here!”

“I can’t believe it neither,” Hutch grumbled, his words lost as by the
music began.  As everyone began to move in synch with the music Hutch
found that no special steps were needed, and he became more confident.
The girl by his side, Miranda, was a good dancer  and together they
made it easily through the first two hours. Then the announcer called
for a ten minute break.

“Hutch, how ya feeling? It’s fun, isn’t it?” Starsky nudged the blond
in the side after he got a drink for Jamie, his dancing partner. Hutch
didn’t answer but the smile on his flushed face showed Starsky that his
friend was enjoying the event.

“Next round -- standard dances!”

Hutch looked uncertainly at Miranda, who smiled back confidently. “No
problem,” she said. “Just let me do all the work.”  Having no choice,
he followed her to the dance floor and did his best.

From the corner of his eye Hutch saw Starsky spinning over the floor,
and he couldn’t hide the pride he felt. Starsky’s movements were so smooth it was a pleasure to watch him dance. Jamie wasn’t as good as Starsky and
looked a bit dazed, doing her best to keep up with his pace.

After two more hours they were allowed another break, only for ten
minutes again. Both men went together to the john, encouraging and
assuring each other that they had enough power and strength to win the
contest.

“And now, finally, here it comes,” the announcer said enthusiastically.
“The part you’ve been waiting for, and our last round -- Boogie
Woogie!”  He gestured the remaining couples out toward the dance floor
and the music swelled.

The rhythm filled the room, and sweat-slicked bodies started the
ultimate round, all hoping to win the 30.000 dollar prize. After the
first dance four couples gave up and left the dance floor, accompanied
by a round of applause. During the next hour several more couples began
exhausted and dropped out.

Hutch felt as if his legs were about to turn into rubber and Miranda
looked as if she was going to be sick.  Then suddenly a little yelp was
heard as Starsky’s partner Jamie dropped to her knees and gave up,
leaving Starsky rooted to the spot, watching helplessly.

“I can’t go on, Ken,” Miranda whispered. “I’m giving up too.”

At that moment Hutch was grabbed by strong arms, a familiar voice
hissing, “What about us? We’re still goin’. Blondie, may I have this
next dance?”

Before Hutch realized what was happening and could protest, Starsky was
whirling him around the floor. Frenetic applause set in, and suddenly
they were the only couple left, dancing the Boogie Woogie. The audience
cheered and applauded, urging them on.

To Hutch it sounded far away somehow, his only awareness that of
Starsky leading him through the dance. Astounded, he realized that it
gave him great pleasure being twisted around by his partner and
securely held in his arms. He was even able to dance the steps Starsky
had shown him in the afternoon.

The last beats were played and Starsky bent Hutch backwards in an
acrobatic attempt at a “dip”. However, Hutch stumbled and together they
went down in a heap on the floor. Untangling themselves, they scrambled
up and stood holding onto each other, breathing heavily.

“If nobody objects,” the announcer declared, “I hereby present the
winners of this year’s greatest dancing contest -- Darky and Blondie!
The winner takes all -- 30.000 dollars! Congratulations, fellas! You
deserve it all!”

While the audience continued applauding, he approached Starsky and
Hutch and asked, “Your names, sirs?”

“Let’s just leave it with Darky and Blondie,” Starsky replied, and
Hutch nodded gratefully. The applause continued as they followed the
announcer to the business office on trembling legs.

***

“We got it!” Starsk exclaimed as they left the emptying dancing hall.
Hutch was striding to his car when Starsky tugged on his sleeve. “Hey,
wait. Let’s celebrate at my place, we can get your car tomorrow. I
can’t believe we won the 30.000 bucks!”

Starsky drew Hutch to the Torino and was about to check on the money in
both side pockets of his slacks when Hutch gripped his wrist. “Let’s do
it at home,” he advised wisely. “You never know what scum might be
waiting around just for this.”

Sobering, Starsky nodded, locking the doors as they got in the car and
headed home. Once there, they made their way up the stairs very slowly,
supporting each other all the way.

“I’m beat!” Hutch puffed as he headed toward the bathroom, hesitating
at the door. “You mind if I take a shower too?”

Making a permissive gesture, Starsky headed for the kitchen to make
drinks for them both. When Hutch came out of the bathroom, dressed in
Starsky’s robe, his friend was sitting at the coffee table counting the
money.

“Hutch, it’s really true,” he bubbled. “What’re we gonna do with the
dough?” Starsky’s eyes sparkled, then he noticed his robe on Hutch and
grinned. “First I’m gonna buy you a robe for my place, I think.”

Hutch blushed lightly, and slumped down on the couch next to his
friend. “You got any extra sweats for me? I need something comfortable
-- and dry.”

“Sure. Be right back.” Starsky got up from the couch wincing as he  
felt his limbs protesting the dance marathon.

“Here you go.”  As he held out the sweats, Hutch took off the robe to
change.

Starsky stared at the lean body he had held in his arms during the last
round of dancing, suddenly feeling a tenderness he couldn’t explain.
His partner stood in front of him, vulnerable in his boxer shorts
...Starsky reached out and touched the blond’s chest.

“It was great to dance with you,” he said, his voice husky. “You
remember that one step I showed you earlier? The one you had trouble
with? You sure didn’t have any problems tonight.”  Starsky put his arm
around Hutch, his left hand gripping Hutch’s right in the dancing pose.

He led, and felt Hutch lean into his arms, forcing Starsky to exchange
the silent dance for an embrace. Something stirred deep within him,
feeling Hutch’s body pressed against his. Maybe it was the exhaustion
that allowed them to cling to each other, neither seeming to want to
let go. Starsky let his hands roam over Hutch’s broad back, feeling the
fine strands of blond hair tickle his cheek.  Slowly he drew back to
meet Hutch’s eyes.

“You did great,” he said softly, and brushed a thumb over Hutch’s
cheek. Hutch caught Starsky’s hand and held it, an indefinable
expression on his face.  Suddenly Starsky knew he had to sit down,
feeling lightheaded and weak.

He led Hutch back to the couch where they sat down together and leaned
against each other comfortably. Starsky looked at the money and
chuckled, remembering the announcer’s words.

“Hutch?”

“Yeah?”

“The moderator said the winner takes all -- I think he’s gonna be
right.”

Then light blue eyes met dark blue ones as Starsky summoned all his
courage and kissed Hutch’s lips for the first time. In that moment he
felt sure he truly had won it all.


The end?  Or the beginning
?

 

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