“Captain! Weren’t you supposed to be on diet this week?” Starsky exclaimed, as he and Hutch came around the corner and saw Dobey hide the candy bar he had just gotten from the vending machine.

“None of your business, Starsky!” Dobey growled, his dark face darkening even more.  “Into my office! Now!”

The detectives exchanged glances as the heavy man slumped down in his chair and shoved the plate of carrots and celery aside. Searching around on his desk, he groped a thin folder and opened it, then cleared his throat and looked at his two best detectives.

I need you for a special case,” he stated. “So far we don’t know if the rumors are true, but there’s a fabrication plant for meat products that may be working with substandard meat. Several restaurant owners complained that the meat they got smelled like …” Dobey stopped, made a disagreeable face, then went on. “Well, it stank, and we suspect the Warden factory for handling it. You’ll be checking the company from tomorrow on.”

“What about the Morrow case?” Hutch questioned, clearing disliking the prospect of being surrounded by raw meat.

“Sanders and Thompson will take it over. You’ll work as non-skilled workers.  Everything is already arranged. Here’s the background information,” he added, handing Hutch the folder.  “And Starsky, I need the report from yesterday now!”  Dobey’s voice had returned to its familiar grumbling, forcing Starsky to suppress his response as he turned to leave.

“Okay, Captain,” Hutch mumbled, letting his partner leave first.

Closing the door behind them, Hutch hissed between clenched teeth, “That stinks! He only gave us this assignment because we’ve made fun of his futile attempts to get through his diets.”

“And why did he complain about my report?” Starsky muttered. “Didn't he know that we were out yesterday till late? When did he think I had time to write anything?  At midnight
, I s’pose, interrupting my other activities.” He wiggled his eyebrows and Hutch chuckled despite the grimness of things.

They locked glances then Starsky snapped his fingers, saying softly, “Time for a little fun again.”

Over the next days they had no time for a fun, however, their new “jobs” taking all their energy. Starsky wiped a hand over his sweaty face then bent down to pick up another heavy box of meat.

“Back off!”

Suddenly pushed aside by another worker, he nearly lost his balance and muttered “Shit!” For a moment he leaned against the cold wall in the dark corridor that led to the work floor.

“Hey, you okay?” On his way outside to unload more boxes from the refrigerator truck, Hutch stopped looking at Starsky with concern. Then he picked up Starsky’s box and turned to go back inside.

“That’s my box, idiot,” Starsky chided. “Think of your back.” Worried about Hutch’s bad back, Starsky had noted that his friend seemed to walk slower each day. “C’mon, let’s call it a day.”

Good ol’ Hutch, always caring for him, Starsky thought, making a vain attempt to retrieve the box. He made a mental note to spoil his best friend with a special meal when their assignment was finally through.

They had worked for three days in the factory and hadn’t found anything suspicious so far. One of the workers, Freddy, was quite talkative and had mentioned that they planned to expand the business to the east coast. That was certainly nothing they could arrest him for, and so two very exhausted detectives went home the third evening. Starsky had canceled his date with Susan, knowing that he wouldn’t be up to any activities other than taking a shower and falling asleep, and knew Hutch was beat as well.

Starsky climbed out of Hutch’s LTD in front of his apartment, then leaned inside. “I’ll bring breakfast tomorrow,” he told his partner. “Muffins for me and Danish for you?” Hutch nodded wearily and started to pull away when Starsky suddenly patted on the hood of the car, motioning Hutch to stop.

“Huh?” Hutch yawned – but became fully awake when Starsky explained a trick they could play on Dobey.

“See ya!”

Waving, Hutch left and Starsky climbed the stairs to his apartment, still exhausted but also exhilarated by his thoughts of sweet revenge.


The following morning in his office Dobey listened to Hutch’s report about their assignment in the meat factory thus far. Ostentatiously he put an apple, carrot and yogurt carton on his desk.

“Your breakfast, cap?” Starsky asked seriously, and Dobey nodded.

“It’s getting better every day. Too bad you haven’t been around the last days,” the black man said proudly. “Edith says I’ve already lost weight … But that’s not your concern.” Dobey stopped the personal information and ordered them to continue the assignment for another three days.

“By then you should have found the cause for the rumors,” he concluded.  “Now git!”

Heeding their dismissal, the two detectives left Dobey’s office – only to position themselves in a niche of the cafeteria where they couldn’t be seen easily.

“Helen has everything prepared?” Hutch wanted to know, and Starsky almost choked on his hot coffee in his haste to respond.

“Yeah, she owed me a favor for the burnt toast last month, remember? If we’re lucky, it’ll be a special breakfast for Dobey. And just look who’s comin’ now!” Starsky hid behind his newspaper and Hutch drew the baseball cap further into his forehead.

Dobey walked to the counter and ordered his favorite breakfast -- three fresh cherry muffins and two chocolate donuts.

“So much for his diet,” Starsky whispered and watched their boss hurrying out of the cafeteria, the food hidden in a brown paper bag.

“Don’t wanna miss the fun,” Starsky hissed a moment later, then he and Hutch strolled back to their office casually.

With reports to write, both detectives were busy, their ears cocked toward Dobey’s office as they worked.  They didn’t have to wait long before the anticipated sounds met their ears.

“Ewwww!  Arrghh!”

Coughing and spitting was heard from Dobey’s office, then the door was opened with a jerk. Both men looked up to see their superior leaning against the doorframe, his face distressed. “Water!” he choked. “I need water!”

Instantly Starsky was on his feet, retrieving a cup of water solicitously. “Cap’, you okay?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Mustard,” he gasped.  “There was mustard in my muffin and the donut tasted strange too. I’m gonna be sick.” With that Dobey managed to make his way to the squad room door and staggered outside toward the Men’s room.

Starsky and Hutch looked at each other, fighting hard to keep a straight face, knowing the mustard and Tabasco sauce in the pastries had done their trick. Dobey would be fine again in no time, and everything back to normal again. But their little trick had worked nicely -- Helen from the kitchen staff had done a good job and now they were even with her and Dobey as well.

Before Dobey returned, the two left for their shift in the meat factory once again. They checked the labels on countless loads of meat and talked to several workers, but couldn’t find any indications that something was wrong with the meat.

“That’s it!” Hutch declared the next evening, climbing the stairs to Starsky’s apartment wearily. “Tomorrow we’re telling Dobey the rumors are groundless. I can’t stand being surrounded by that meat another day.”

Retrieving two beers from the kitchen, Hutch dropped down beside Starsky on the couch, silently drinking and watching TV. Starsky finally trudged into the kitchen to warm up soup from their previous dinner, returning to find his partner soundly snoring on the couch.

“”Yep, you’re right, partner, that’s it,” Starsky said softly, smiling as he draped a cover over the blond. He ate a small cup of the soup then made his way to the bathroom for a shower. He took comfort in knowing they would talk to Dobey and finish their reports about the useless assignment the next day.


“Have you heard? Dobey’s out sick.  Someone must’ve tried to poison him!”

The first words they heard upon entering their unit at Parker Center at morning sent a sharp glance between Starsky and Hutch. . “What’d you say?” Starsky asked carefully.

“Dobey hasn’t been sick since…I don’t know when,” the blond murmured.  “Who said he was poisoned, though?” Hutch hoped his nervousness didn’t show in his voice.

“Well, they’re questioning the kitchen staff, that’s all I know.” Officer Jenkins looked at Starsky pointedly. “So far all they know is about a bad joke you were planning, Starsky. Care to tell us about that?”

“Me?!” Starsky yelped. “How can you think I’d try to poison our Cap?” Starsky was truly aghast.

“A girl on the kitchen staff admitted you told her to put something weird into the breakfast --” Jenkins paused, then looked at Hutch “-- “for your partner. Sorry Hutchinson, but it seems the bad joke was meant for you and Captain Dobey got it instead.”

“What?!”  Hutch’s stunned expression matched Starsky’s as Jenkins left the room, shaking his head.  Once alone, Hutch pulled his partner into the men’s room and slammed him against the wall.

“What did you do yesterday?!” he demanded. “You pretended those mustard-filled muffins were for me?!”

“Um, yeah,” Starsky admitted, now meekly guilty. “Ya gotta understand, Hutch -- otherwise Helen would have never done it.  She admires Dobey…”  Starsky’s voice trailed off lamely, leaving Hutch understanding all too well.

“Stuff was too bad for Dobey, but I’m good enough for a bad joke, huh?”  Disgusted but calmer, he released Starsky’s shirt then gave a long sigh. “Well, I guess altogether it’s not so bad,” he conceded. “At least this way Dobey has no idea it was meant for him.  But how do you explain that Dobey got the breakfast instead of me?”

“I told Helen that Dobey was gonna pick up our breakfast yesterday,” Starsky explained, shrugging. “And you saw for yourself -- it worked.”

In silence the two men returned to their office where they started writing their reports, expecting every minute Dobey would emerge from his office or holler for them. But it remained quiet, and when they locked eyes again both realized that they were missing their superior.

“Shouldn’t we call Edith to find out how he is?”  The question was rhetorical as Starsky was already dialing Dobey’s home number on his phone.

“Edith? It’s Dave Starsky. How’s Harold – I mean, the captain?” Starsky listened quietly, frowning then smiling again. Hutch rounded the desk to put his ear near the receiver and listen too.

Finally Starsky ended the call and Hutch gave a sigh of relief. “At least he didn’t have to stay at the hospital. Starsk, what have we done?”

Starsky put his hand on Hutch’s shoulder, admitting, “I feel like shit, Hutch. I never wanted him to get really sick. Who coulda known he’d have a bad reaction like this?”

Absorbed in their thoughts for a while, abruptly they both looked up at the same time. “Let’s make up for it!” they said in unison, then laughed.

“What about cooking Dobey’s favorite meal for him when he’s feeling better?” Hutch said squeezing Starsky’s arm.

“Good idea, but I have no idea what he likes,” Starsky muttered, then he snapped his fingers as his eyes lit up. “I know!  Edith can tell us. Can you have a look at my report while I call her again?” Unable to resist his partner’s puppy eyes, Hutch snatched the papers from Starsky’s hands and glared.

“Liver with onions and mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding for dessert.” Satisfied, Starsky looked at Hutch as he hung up the phone. “But Edith says we have to wait awhile until he’s completely recovered from this. She says the mustard caused some virus get active and he still has diarrhea now.”  He paused.

“I told Edith it should be a surprise, our cooking. We can do it at my place or yours, and if Rosie and Cal wanna join us, that’s great. I’d love to see my sweet girl again.”  Starsky smiled, thinking of little Rosie who admired her two “uncles” beyond words.  Hutch nodded then they gave a simultaneous sigh of relief and went back to work.


“Starsk, where’s the liver?” Hutch rummaged in the kitchen, pulling pans and pots from the kitchen cabinets.

“In the refrigerator. Just a minute.” Starsky entered the kitchen, tying the apron with the half-naked woman on it around his waist. “Am I good-looking or what?” He beamed at Hutch, who merely glanced at his partner then snorted good naturedly.

“Irresistible,” he said dryly.  “Let’s get you into the bedroom, sweetie pie..”

Starsky laughed wholeheartedly, cuffing Hutch lightly over his head. “You wish, Blondie! Dream on.”  Then he went to the refrigerator and pulled out a plate of meat.

“Here’s the liver. I got it from the Warden outlet store. Freddie gave it to me for a special price. So at least a little good came out of that useless assignment, I guess.”  Starsky began cutting the liver into smaller pieces as Hutch prepared the salad. The potatoes were already boiling merrily.

“What about the chocolate pudding? Shouldn’t I make it?” Starsky proposed, heating oil in the frying pan. “I’m a very good taste tester, ya know.”

“Exactly that’s the reason I made it yesterday evening and hid it in a secure place, pal.”  Hutch grinned when Starsky lightly kicked his butt, then turned quickly, catching his partner off guard.

“Not very ‘lady-like’,” Hutch teased, grabbing Starsky by the waist and finding just the right ticklish spot to make him giggle and squirm.

“Stop it,” the dark man giggled. “I’ll never do it again.” Starsky was still gasping for air and giggling when Hutch released him at last.

“You wanna fry the liver now or burn down my kitchen?” Hutch inquired, pointing to the heated pan. “That oil is hot!”

Regaining his composure, Starsky managed to put the pieces of liver into the pan. Contented, he watched the process of frying -- then he suddenly frowned.  “Hutch, don’t you realize – the liver stinks!”

Hutch stopped mashing the potatoes and sniffed. He made a face. “You’re right. It stinks as if..”

“…hundreds of elephants have pissed into this pan!” Starsky exclaimed and took the spatula to turn the liver pieces around. The stench intensified and both men looked at each other helplessly.

“I don’t get it!” Starsky grumbled. “There was nothing we could find about the Warden meat fabrication and now we’re dealing with substandard food right here. Maybe it’s from a kangaroo or a cat.” Starsky ‘s imagination went overboard, forcing Hutch to cut in.

“Starsk, be that as it may… The Dobeys will be here any minute, and we’re standing in a stinking kitchen with a stinking meal – That would not be a nice surprise. Throw the liver away and let’s figure out what to do.”

Unfortunately at that moment the bell rang, and they could Rosie’s excited voice outside the front door.

“Too late,” Starsky mumbled, removed his apron and walked slowly to the door.

“Uncle Dave!” Rosie shouted, excitedly throwing herself into Starsky’s arms.

“Hi, sweetie.” Starsky lifted the girl up in his arms, not daring to look at the Dobeys yet.

“Thank you for the invitation. Hmm, smells rather strange, doesn’t it?” Edith sniffed and made her way into the kitchen where Hutch was about to throw the liver into the trash can.

“Sorry, Edith.” Hutch’s blushed face showed his embarrassment. “The meat is spoiled. I’m so sorry.”

“I was thinking you planned to cook Harold’s favorite meal – liver with onions.” Edith looked confused

“We did too,” Hutch replied sadly, “but the liver stinks.”

Edith looked at the meat and shook her head. “This isn’t liver. It must be kidney. You have to soak kidney in water overnight to get all the uric acid out of it.”

Dumbfounded, Hutch stared at her for a moment before shouting, “Starsky! Get in here – NOW!”

“You played another bad joke on your partner, Starsky?” Dobey entered the kitchen grinning mischievously then making a face at the smell.

“I, uh, not at all, Cap,” Starsky answered, then looked at Hutch’s glowering face questioningly.

“Starsky, you bought kidneys instead of liver,” he stated, his anger so palpable that Starsky paled. “Care to tell us how that might have happened?  Huh? Friend?”

“Freddie gave it to me and said it was liver. Ask him.  I dunno.” Absent-mindedly Starsky played with Rosie’s pigtails.

“Maybe he found out we were cops, snooping around the business, and he wanted some sweet revenge,” Hutch pondered, then he smiled.

“Listen, I don’t want this evening to be spoiled,” he declared.  “Let’s have a toast to a special man at our precinct -- our Captain Dobey. We’re sorry what happened to you.”  Hutch opened the chilled bottle of champagne while Starsky put Rosie down and went in search of some orange juice.

“By the way, where’s Cal
?” Hutch asked, filling the champagne glasses, and looking around for the missing boy.

“He had better things to do, in his words,” Dobey smiled. “He must have known Rosie would be the star anyway.”

Starsky noticed that Dobey seemed to be himself again, looking slimmer though. He bantered as usual with them, and Starsky exchanged a meaningful look with Hutch. ‘We’ll never play a joke like that on him again, okay?’  they said in silence. ‘I’m glad he’s okay again.’ Then a low grumble was heard, causing everyone to look around.

“I bet that was Starsky, hungry as always,” Hutch smiled, and Starsky blushed. “Well, if it’s okay I’ll have Michelle from the restaurant downstairs make a real liver and onions dinner for us. Then we can eat in a little while.”  Hutch gestured toward the living room.

“Go have a seat while I see about dinner,” he invited. “Then we should have a talk about people who dare playing tricks on their best friends.”  

At his accusing glance, Starsky raised both hands. “I’ll never do it again, I promise. And I’m sorry, Cap’, I never meant for you to get sick.”  Starsky looked at his superior with rare expression of sincerity, and Dobey looked almost friendly in return.

“Apologize to your partner for playing tricks on him,” Dobey replied generously. “But I certainly would like to know who used my name two months ago on the Announcement board saying I’d offered to write reports for all the new young officers!”  Dobey scowled, remembering the high number of officers that had given him their folders, expecting their reports to magically appear.

Starsky suppressed a smile and leaned against Hutch.  “Any idea, buddy?” he asked innocently, smiling when Hutch shrugged. “Dunno, but I tell ya, Cap, if we ever find out who did it, we’ll make sure he makes amends!”

The End


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