”Hutch? Need the screwdriver here in the kitchen!”

Hutch startled, and realized that he had fallen asleep on Starsky’s
comfortable new armchair that sat among unpacked boxes from Starsky’s
old place. In the past couple of days he had helped his best friend
move into his new home, exhausting himself while Starsky still seemed
full of energy.


“Yeah, I’m coming. Where is the screwdriver, anyway?” Hutch shoved
himself out of the cushions then yelped in pain when something stung
him. “Got it,” he mumbled, looking at the screwdriver in a corner of
the armchair.

“You had it when you fixed the lamp in the living room,” Starsky
shouted --then reached back to take the tool when Hutch trudged into
the kitchen.

“Look, we only have to put this shelf up on the wall then we call it a
day.” It looked quite neck-breaking as Starsky stood on tiptoes on the
ladder and stretched further to fix the shelf.

“Will you be careful?”  Hutch grumbled, then gripped Starsky’s legs to
steady him.

“Back off!”  Starsky giggled and swayed dangerously. “’M ticklish
there!” At the last minute Hutch caught hold of his slipping partner,
then both stood panting and relieved.

“That’s it for today! Starsky declared, leaning against Hutch to
examine his handiwork. “We’ve done great, haven’t we, Hutch?”

“Sure, and now I’m going home. I’m beat,” Hutch said feeling a headache
coming on. He patted his friend on the shoulder and turned to leave
when Starsky stopped him.

“Hey, Hutch. Thanks a lot for helping me with all the stuff. Please
stay and let me fix some dinner. I don’t want to be alone my first
evening here…” he smiled mischievously.  Then he frowned, looking
closer at Hutch’s pale face.

“You’ve got another headache again, don’t ya?” he said, serious this
time. “C’mon, lay down and I’ll call you when dinner is ready. Take my
bed and relax. You can draw the blinds to keep the light out.”

Hutch smiled. Starsky knew him all too well. After Starsky had been
shot in the police garage Hutch’s headaches had turned into migraines
and he knew the only way to handle them was lying down in a dark room
and getting some rest.

“Okay, I’ll take a nap. Wake me up in half an hour.” Hutch made his way
to the bedroom circling around the various boxes like a maze. Tomorrow
they could start unpacking and soon Starsky’s new home would be in the
neat condition Starsky preferred.

Hutch collapsed on the bed, automatically closing his eyes against the
pain. He heard Starsky rummaging in the kitchen and was about to drift
off when he heard voices at the front door. He turned onto his other
side and pulled the covers over his head, knowing he needed this quiet
time. Distant laughter and excited voices reached him, but he didn’t
care as he fell into an exhausted sleep.

“Hutch?” Starsky’s quiet voice near his ear made him grunt and turn.
Sleepily, he looked into concerned blue eyes.

“My new neighbors arranged a little welcome party for me in their
garden,” Starsky explained. “I’ve already told them my friend isn’t in
a party mood, but -- what do you think? Are you up to some fun? There’s
everything you want to eat and drink.”

Hutch felt nothing but exhaustion, and he shook his still-aching head.
“No thanks, buddy. I’ve gotta get more rest. Maybe I can join you
later. Enjoy your party, okay?”

As Hutch closed his eyes again he felt light fingertips trace along his
brow for a moment then Starsky was gone. Hutch curled up beneath the
covers again, grateful for the silence and solitude.


When Hutch awoke again it was to a loud noise coming from the bedroom
door. He opened his eyes to see Starsky wobbling into the room, a shoe
in his hand, leaving the door open behind him. As he bent down and
swayed dangerously, Hutch propped himself up on one elbow and sleepily
frowned. “C’mere. What’s wrong?”

“Lost my shoe,” Starsky mumbled then let himself fall onto the bed,
burying Hutch halfway under him.

“Oops.” The word was a slurred apology when he heard Hutch’s strangled

“Sorry, didn’t mean to hurt ya.” Starsky rolled off Hutch to lie on his
back, looking at the ceiling. Suddenly he started giggling
uncontrollably and ended with a hiccup.

“Must’ve been some party,” Hutch chuckled, lying flat again.

“There was a lot to drink. They said we should empty the bottles. In
the Tequila bottle, there was only this much left.” Starsky raised a
trembling hand and showed two fingers. “The Whiskey took a little
longer to finish, and the Bacardi…”

Suddenly Starsky sat up and scrambled from the bed. “’M gonna be sick.”
He dashed into the bathroom, butting against more boxes along the way.
Then Hutch heard only retching and pitiful moans.

He crawled out of bed to assist his partner if needed. They had always
been there for each other, no matter if one had been hurt or drunk.
Hutch couldn’t let that change now.

He found Starsky embraced the toilet bowl like he’d never let it go,
and grinned. “Finished?” he guessed.  “C’mon, let’s get you into bed.”
Hutch dampened a nearby washcloth to wipe his partners’ face.

“’M sorry,” Starsky mumbled, struggling to get up as Hutch finished
cleaning him up.

Tossing the cloth into the sink, Hutch ignored his own indisposition as
he put his arms around Starsky’s chest and hauled him upright. “That’s
my boy,” Hutch said fondly, and slowly they made their way back to the

“Wait a minute.” Hutch released Starsky beside the bed then stepped
over to turn on the overhead light. He squinted against the brightness
as he turned to help his friend undress. Starsky stood unmoving, a
silly grin on his face.

“Hey, you mind helping me a little?” Hutch requested, and Starsky
smiled apologetically.

“Sure. Well, dunno why I drank all the stuff. It was fun and we laughed
a lot. I’m lucky with my new neighbors and…” Starsky continued rambling
about the party and the drinks he was given as he worked to remove his

Accepting the discarded item, Hutch frowned. “Starsk, why are your
jeans so dirty?” He held the soiled denim in front of his partner’s
nose. Starsky’s face crinkled in disdain, and he pulled away.

“Well, I had to pee and since everybody else used the compost heap in
the garden, I did too. I musta lost my shoe ‘cause when I was trying to
find it, I think I fell. I found my way home, but not my shoe. I’m
really sorry ... gotta find my shoe.” By now Starsky was leaning
heavily against Hutch, literally falling asleep on his feet.

“We’ll look for it tomorrow,” Hutch answered, stripping off Starsky’s
damp shirt before letting him drop down on the bed, hastily tossing the
covers aside. Without a word Starsky curled into a ball, already
unconscious when Hutch pulled the covers over him.

Hutch looked at his friend with affection. When he was in the right
mood Starsky knew no boundaries and he was paying the price for his
exuberance now. Hutch decided to put a basin from the bathroom at his
partners’ bedside -- just in case. Then he switched off the light and
silently left the room.

His headache was nearly gone and he was hungry, so he made a sandwich
and drank a beer. Looking for a place to spend the rest of the night,
he slumped down in the wide armchair in the living room, falling asleep
again in no time at all.


“What’re you doing in the chair?”

Hutch heard the words from far away. He blinked and squinted his eyes
against the bright morning light that flooded Starsky’s living room. A
shadow was hovering over him and he recognized the disheveled dark
curls as belonging to his partner.

“Starsk.  How are you?” Hutch sat up then moaned when his back
protested the sudden movement and his sleeping posture.

“Been worse – and better,” Starsky said, looking worriedly at his
friend. “Why are you sleeping in that chair? I remember you were layin’
on my bed when I went to the party. You gotta take care of your back…
Wanna take a hot shower? That might help.”

Starsky looked around, apparently confused, then started to open some
of the boxes in the living room while Hutch watched, amused.

“Your clothes are over there, in that big box,” Hutch told him, then
made his way to the bathroom, moving slowly this time.

When he came out some time later Starsky was still in his briefs,
looking desperately at his shoe. “Hutch, I lost my other shoe. Are you
gonna help me find it?”

Hutch nodded, but pointed to the bathroom. “Sure, but you need to get
dressed first. Are you feeling better than when you came home last

“A little. And -- thanks for the basin. It came in handy.” Starsky
blushed. Then he trotted into the bathroom, leaving Hutch to stifle a
yawn and go make their morning coffee.


Half an hour later the two weary detectives were examining the garden
where the party had taken place.

“Hutch, you see these footprints?” Starsky pointed. “They could be

He knelt down to examine some traces while Hutch went toward the
compost heap, hoping Starsky’s blue Adidas could be easily seen. But
their search proved to be in vain. The shoe simply wasn’t there.

“Shit! Those’re my best pair of shoes.” Starsky was becoming frantic.  
“I can’t have lost it here, taking a leak.  How dumb would that be?”  
He stopped abruptly when he saw Hutch raise his hand.

“Starsk?” Smiling at his friend’s tirade, Hutch pointed to the garden
further inside the yard. A fence divided off the compost pile, but
right in front of Hutch was a hole in the fence. On the other side
something blue shimmered in the grass.

“My God!” Following Hutch’s gaze, Starsky gasped at what he saw --a big
black dog that lay in front of his dog house, contentedly biting and
sucking at Starsky’s blue shoe.

“Do something, Hutch!” Starsky yelled -- then instantly fell silent
when the dog released a low, warning growl.

“Well, I guess time will tell,” Hutch stated philosophically, not
knowing what to do at all.

He watched as Starsky summoned all his courage and made a move to crawl
through the hole in the fence. The dog sat up, showing his teeth as he
growled louder this time.

“Okay, okay, I’m goin’.” Starsky drew back, then looked at Hutch
pathetically for help.

“There’s only one chance,” Hutch said soberly, pausing as he put his
hand on Starsky’s shoulder.

“You cootchie-coo him and I’ll get my shoe back.  Right?  Hutch?”
Starsky beamed at his partner, receiving a meaningful smile in

“No,” Hutch replied sweetly. “You give him the other shoe too and
you’ll have a friend for life.”

Hutch knew about Starsky’s running skills and turned fast to escape his
revenge. From the corner of his eye Hutch saw the dog crawl through the
hole of the fence. It seemed he was looking forward to having a little
fun chasing after the two men running through his garden -- the shoe he
had confiscated after the party could definitely wait.

The end



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