Hutch seemed engrossed in the folder in his hands when Starsky
out of Dobey’s office, grinning triumphantly. “Hey Hutch, we’re okayed
for our four days
off in two weeks. I just convinced the captain that
you need some distraction from the job too. We shouldn’t miss
race in San Diego. I always wanted to show you my favorite racing
stable. Best driver is Miller.
I’ve seen him when I …”
“Huh?” Hutch looked up, a puzzled expression on his face. He
paid any attention to what Starsky was saying, his thoughts still on
the letter he had received
“What d’you say?” Hutch focused on his happily grinning partner and
something about some days off and a car race in San
“Hutch, this’ll be great! We can
see the show from the best view,
‘cause one of Huggy’s cousins can get expensive tickets for half the
“When do you plan to go?” Hutch asked.
“In two weeks, like I said. C’mon,
you’d like to go too, wouldn’t you?”
Pleading eyes begged for a positive answer and Starsky’s
when Hutch shook his head.
Pulling a letter from his jacket, he said, “I got this letter this
morning. It’s an invitation.” He unfolded the letter, staring at it.
“And?” Starsky moved
to Hutch’s side, perching on the corner of the
desk. Hutch cleared his throat and began to read quietly out loud.
“Hi Ken, I would like to invite you to my 40th birthday. You are one of
my oldest friends and I’m
looking forward to seeing you again. Please
stay with us for the weekend ... Starsk, it’s the same weekend you plan
to go to the car race. Buddy, I can’t refuse his invitation. Hank is a
good friend from my childhood.”
Hutch looked at Starsky and saw the
disappointment in his friend’s eyes.
“You know what?” Hutch
added quickly. “I promise I’ll go with you,
wherever you want, the next time we get some days off. There’s
better than spending time with you.” Affectionately Hutch patted
Starsky’s thigh, not caring that
Simmons entered the squad room just at
that moment, sending a disgusted glance their way.
“So you can’t
go with me,” Starsky said sadly, moving back to his chair
to sit down. “Don’t know if I’m going
then either,” he mumbled and
opened the next folder, not looking at Hutch again.
Hutch felt bad also. Thinking
about the invitation, he would prefer to
go with Starsky, though he wasn’t too fond of car races. But with his
partner there would be enough fun and he loved to see his
friend happy. The bad times after Gunther’s assault had
showed him the
importance of David Michael Starsky in his life. He still had the
horrible pictures in his mind of
Starsky lying lifelessly on the ground
next to his Torino, and Hutch so sure that Starsky
Hearing the doctors speak of a minimal chance of survival, Hutch had
felt paralyzed. He hadn’t dared
touch his partner, fearing even that
simple act might destroy his friend.
“So what’s about that
friend of yours? You said he’s from your
childhood?” Starsky interrupted Hutch’s thoughts, studying
intense blue eyes. Hutch wasn’t sure if he heard a glint of jealousy,
but he was pleased Starsky was
speaking to him again.
Smiling, he explained, “Hank lived in the neighborhood with my family
and he was
the only kid I spent time with. He was sick a lot, and when
we were older we lost contact. I’m surprised I
even got this. He
must’ve tracked me down somehow.”
Hutch paused, thinking of the skinny boy from
his childhood. He
remembered he had felt comfortable with Hank, feeling unloved by his
parents who had seemed occupied
with social engagements and everything
“I think I owe it to him to visit him on his birthday, and
I can get
there in about six hours driving time.”
“To Duluth?!” Starsky almost choked on his
“No, silly. He says he’s moved to Mountainridge; I’m sure I can get
there in one day.”
“Well, let’s hope your old heap will make it,” Starsky responded. “I’m
ya -- you need a new car. Don’t call me when you get stranded
in the desert and the heat starts creeping through
your body, roasting
“Stop it, Starsk.” Hutch rose and snatched his jacket
from the chair.
“Where ya going?” Starsky asked frowning, apparently forgetting his
“I’ll have Merle look at my car, just in case,” Hutch said, turning
back to Starsky as
he left the room. “Pick me up at lunch time? My
treat.” Then he was gone, leaving Starsky to look after
like a forlorn child.
Hutch put the duffle bag into the trunk of the LTD, closed it and
the washed car a pat. “Merle says you’re still good enough to make this
trip without any problems
so don’t disappoint me. I’m already talking
to you like Starsky does with his striped tomato…”
“What’s like Starsky? You’re talking to your car, by the way.”
Hutch hadn’t heard Starsk approach and turned, startled.
“Just wanted to be sure you hadn’t overslept.”
Starsky yawned. “I had
to park round the next corner. No chance to stop here on a Saturday
those who can get some more shut-eye.”
“You didn’t need to come here, pal,” Hutch said but
his eyes told a
different story and Starsky grinned.
“I don’t know that you deserve it, but I’m
right here.” He opened the
door, and Hutch slid behind the wheel.
“You’ve got everything? Maps,
a present for Hank or whoever?” Starsky
closed the door and motioned Hutch to fasten the seat belts. Then he
down and whistled appreciatively.
“Wow, you’ve cleaned up your car! No styrofoam cups or leftovers from
our last stake out.”
“Stuff it!” Hutch snorted. He put his hand on Starsky’s elbow, braced
on the door frame, and looked at his friend.
“And you -- enjoy the race in San Diego, but stay off the race tracks.
I’ll see you on Tuesday.”
started the car, then felt Starsky’s hand cup his neck and
squeeze lightly before he stepped back.
Hutch loved the morning hours. The still-fresh air and country music
from his favorite
radio station put him in a good mood. Life was good,
and he was going to see his old friend Hank again. It would be
to hear about his life. Hutch wondered if he had become a
lawyer like his Dad?
Time flew and except for one delay
due to road construction and a break
for lunch in a small diner, Hutch made good time, arriving in
the late afternoon. He checked Hank’s address, and
finally reached the wide driveway to his friend’s mansion.
Though he was impressed by the large house and sprawling grounds, Hutch
didn’t find the opulence shocking,
knowing Hank’s parents were wealthy
like the Hutchinsons.
The difference was that he, Hutch, hadn’t
followed his father’s wish to become a lawyer, choosing instead
become a police officer. The elder Hutchinson had never
Emerging from the expansive entrance, a man approached Hutch’s
looking haggard with thinning hair. But his heartfelt smile welcomed
Hutch, who quickly opened the car
door and got out, stretching his
“Hank? Thanks for the invitation.” Hutch reached out
his hand and Hank
took it with both of his.
“It’s so good to see you after all these years,”
Hank smiled and put a
hand on Hutch’s shoulder, starting toward the house.
“Just a sec,” Hutch
said. “I need my bag…”
“Oh, don’t worry, we have staff,” Hank shrugged. “John
will get your
bag and park your car.” He glanced at Hutch’s car compassionately and
“I’m so glad to see you!” he repeated. “Let’s go refresh some
As they entered the foyer, Hutch’s eyes took a minute to adjust to the
He noticed oil paintings on the walls, and a wide staircase
with decorative railings that led upstairs.
Hutch murmured, unpleasantly reminded of his parents’
home which had a similar interior.
I’ll show you your room,” Hank gestured. “Do you remember our
game of “Hide and seek” when
I hid under the bed and you never
Hutch didn’t remember but he nodded, imagining that Hank
had been able
to hide his thin frame under a bed quite easily.
Upstairs was another long hallway and they were
about to enter a guest
room when a figure emerged a room on the left -- a slender woman,
dressed in light colors with
a reserved smile on her face.
“This is my wife, Sandy. Sandy, I told you about
Ken Hutchinson, my
friend from Duluth.” Hank
flipped a switch and the chandelier above
them lit the gallery.
“Nice to meet you.” Light green eyes
appraised Hutch and a cold hand
shook his. “We can have dinner soon. If you want to wash up or get some
your room has been prepared.”
Without giving Hutch time to respond, Sandy
gave a short smile and
immediately headed downstairs. Hank looked after her as if he wanted to
say something, but
then changed his mind.
Though it wasn’t cold at all, Hutch suddenly felt a chill. He couldn’t
the sudden feeling of uneasiness, wondering if it was Sandy’s
behavior or the dark house itself somehow. Hutch couldn’t explain it,
but he didn’t like the feeling at
“Here’s your room,” Hank announced, opening a door. “I hope you like
it; feel free
to make yourself at home. I’d like to go for a walk with
you, but if you’d rather stay here and rest until
dinner, that’s fine
too. It’s up to you.”
As they entered Hutch noted that the late afternoon
sun rays brightened
the room and made it look friendlier. Hank was making every efforts to
make him feel at home,
so Hutch decided to just wash up, then join Hank
for a walk.
They sauntered along the wide paths, talking about
the plants Sandy had
chosen for each area. Hank told Hutch
about his life, which hadn’t been
easy due to his lifelong poor health. His lungs had frequently given
and Hutch remembered that even as a child Hank had been
sent away from Duluth
for a few months to recover from pneumonia.
Hutch asked about Sandy,
with Hank replying that she belonged to one of
the wealthiest families in Mountainridge. They had met during his
for law school, and. he had fallen in love instantly. And
though he had longed to have children, with Sandy it wasn’t meant to
While Hank went on rambling about his job
as a lawyer, Hutch suddenly
knew what was wrong -- Sandy
and Hank’s marriage was sadly similar to
his with Vanessa. He had sensed when he entered the house that
was missing, feeling it was cold everywhere -- emotionally
cold. Hutch sighed, which Hank took to exhaustion, then
return to the house where dinner would be served.
Sandy had dressed for dinner, appearing in a fancy
light beige dress.
During the dinner which was served by the housekeeper John, Sandy
interested in Hutch’s life, asking about his dangerous
situations as a cop. Unwilling to go into details, he skirted the issue, choosing not to discuss
the exceptional partnership he had with Starsky. He thought he might confide in Hank later, but even on that he wasn’t
The evening passed in chats about trivial things. Hutch pretended
listen but found himself wondering what Starsky was doing instead.
Starsky had planned to go to San Diego on Sunday, and Hutch considering
calling ... He shoved
the idea aside. He was a guest at Hank’s home and
resolved to enjoy his stay and spending time with his old friend.
Tired from the long drive, Hutch excused himself shortly after 10 PM.
After a quick shower he dove under
the covers, falling asleep almost
He woke up in the middle of the night, his throat burning
like fire and
his body overly warm. He hadn’t brought any medications with him and so
decided to ignore the
sore throat. He turned over and fell into a
“Ken, are you awake? Breakfast is ready.”
Hank’s voice could be heard from the hallway and Hutch stirred,
realizing bright daylight was creeping through
the blinds. He tried to
answer but his voice simply wasn’t there. Hutch cleared his throat and
tried again only
to hear a croak. He had to fight down panic at the
realization he had lost his voice.
“Ken? Are you okay?”
Hank’s concern made Hutch get up and walk to the
door. He opened it and saw Hank’s relieved smile. “Good
Breakfast is ready. What do you like? We have bacon and eggs, or
cereals, milk, toast…” Hank
looked at him expectantly and frowned when
Hutch tried to speak, but nothing was heard.
“Lost my voice,”
Hutch mouthed, then felt annoyed when Hank smiled.
“Too bad, but I have some medication that will help you,”
him. “Get dressed while I go look for it. I’ll see you downstairs.”
Hutch closed the door to shave and dress, hoping Hank would
have something for his voice. He tried several times to speak,
tried singing his favorite country song -- he finally gave up as his
vocal cords stubbornly refused to work.
During breakfast Hutch broke out in a sweat when he realized that it
was Hank’s birthday and he had forgotten
to congratulate him. He stood
up, and Sandy and Hank looked
at him as if he intended to make a
speech. Instead he rounded the table and reached out to take Hank’s
“Happy birthday,” he mouthed, and Hank understood.
“Thank you, Ken. I’m glad that
you’re here.” Hank gave him a side hug.
Hutch had the impression that his presence meant a lot to his old
friend. Sandy merely smiled then excused herself to dress
birthday guests who were scheduled to begin arriving around 11 AM.
By that time Hutch had been given a
special tea, along with some
Tylenol so he felt at least human by the time he was introduced to the
“Oh, who are you? Nice to meet you.”
As he was addressed the same way repeatedly, Hutch wanted
to respond but the medication simply hadn’t worked. He mimed signs that
his voice had vanished but
was very grateful when Hank stepped up
beside him for a time.
It was during that time a group of distinguished
gentlemen came up to
congratulate Hank and to discuss the social events upcoming the next
told us you’re a policeman in Bay City,” one told
interesting. Last week I got caught because I was driving over the
speed limit. No big deal, but
I had to pay a tidy sum. It really wasn’t
Others agreed, making fun of policemen looking for
instead of chasing real criminals. They laughed and looked
questioningly at Hutch, obviously expecting
Inwardly Hutch was fuming, itching to “respond” to the arrogant men
while all efforts
to speak had failed. He was sweating profusely and
felt totally helpless, incredibly frustrated at not being able to talk.
Finally unable to stand around any longer, he excused himself then
headed out for a walk in the garden to collect
“Need some company?” Appearing from nowhere, Sandy
was suddenly by his
side, taking his arm and leading him through the oversized patio doors
me show you my pond,” she said brightly. “I’m very proud of having
the biggest koi in our area. There
are a lot of people who’d like to
buy some from me but I won’t sell. Hank isn’t fond of the fish,
He prefers sitting in his room, reading and writing
A disgusted smile crept over her face and Hutch
was reminded again of
Vanessa, who had never appreciated his love for music – not to mention
his deep friendship
with Starsky. Starsk… Hutch’s thoughts went to his
friend who was supposedly watching his favorite race driver
time. Sandy’s voice didn’t really
reach him; he merely nodded politely
-- all too aware of her continued hold on his arm.
good-looking. Are you married?” That question snapped
Hutch back to the present instantly. When he looked into her
eyes he saw something that made him feel defensive and ill at ease.
Too much like Vanessa once more.
He shook his head and she leaned into him, purring like a cat. “Yes,
I’ve heard that many women think
of a cop’s work as being too
dangerous. But I love danger myself.” She looked up at him meaningfully
Hutch coughed, trying to politely remove her possessive hand from
his arm. Suddenly he felt very sorry for Hank.
abruptly, he smiled. “Partner – Starsky.” The words were mouthed
and faintly croaked, but Sandy looked at him and stopped.
“You have a partner?
Sure, cops work together… You’re work partners.
Right?” Seeking assurance, she looked at him
with a mixture of hope and
desperation in her eyes.
But taking full advantage of the situation, Hutch dropped
his eyes and
shrugged, his expression one of apparent embarrassment at revealing his
personal secret to her.
her hand back as if she’d been burned, Sandy gasped
away. “You’re queer!” she gasped.
Fighting back a smile, Hutch forced himself
to look appropriately
guilty at being caught. No matter what the cost, he knew he had to stop
his friend’s cold
After staring at him for just a moment, she said quickly, “I must go
back. I’m needed
in the kitchen. You can stay out here.”
Watching her scurry into the house as if he was contagious, Hutch
smiled, more than a little relieved but sadly disappointed too. He was
happy to remain in the now-peaceful garden,
It wasn’t long before Hank came out, looking around until he spotted
Hutch. “Ken, there you
are!” he said happily. “Would you like to see
my hobby? Come on, let’s go upstairs. I need a break
from that crowd.”
Making their way up the back stairs, they reached Hank’s office without
Once there Hank proudly showed Hutch his collection
of first edition poems, many signed by the authors themselves.
Duly impressed, Hutch pointed at Hank and made a questioning face,
making the gesture of writing with his right
“What do you mean?” Hank asked, feigning innocence then blushed when
Hutch pointed at the poems
then back to Hank. Finally he conceded and
opened a desk drawer to retrieve another pile of papers - done in
handwriting this time.
For the next hour the two men cherished each other’s company, as Hutch
read and enjoyed
his friends’ poetry. Much too soon their time ended as
Hank stated the buffet was now open and they were expected
Reluctantly Hutch went along.
Immediately Hutch saw the curious glances being cast at him,
knew the reason immediately. With discretion obviously not her strong
suit, it was clear Sandy had informed their guests about Hutch’s
lifestyle -- inwardly Hutch smiled
. It was fine with him for he was no
longer being questioned - and being ignored fit his mood very well.
went on, dinner passed and Hutch became increasingly ill at
ease being unable to speak. Some of the guests eyed him suspiciously
and he played the role of the outsider, which was exactly how he felt.
Not being able to speak, being aware
that Hank wasn’t happy, sharing
the company of a woman who resembled his ex-wife much too well ...
wistfully thinking of Starsky again.
Finally, early in the evening Hutch decided to call it a day. He
Hank that he planned to retire because of his ill health. Hank
understood and promised him to show him the area the next
Sandy’s parents would expect them for
dinner the next afternoon, they
would have the rest of the day to themselves. Hutch had no choice but
and nod agreeably.
Staring out his bedroom window at the illuminated garden, Hutch found
himself wishing he could
just go home. Without his voice he felt like
he had been amputated, unable to participate in conversations,
express his needs and feelings – it was the worst sensation he had ever
known. In his condition he felt
totally useless, not that he could have
helped Hank anyway ... he knew from bitter experience that his friend
to solve the problems in his marriage on his own.
The next morning Hutch’s voice hadn’t improved,
and he felt more
exhausted than the day before. His efforts the previous day had
increased his sore throat hurt and
his cough had increased as well. As
he got up and dressed, he made the decision he knew would be best for
Mouthing “Good morning” to his hosts as he entered the large kitchen,
Hutch signaled that he needed
to write something down. When Hank
retrieved a notepad and pen Hutch quickly wrote his message, handing to
his friend with an apologetic smile.
“You really have to leave today?” Hank asked, clearly disappointed.
“What about visiting Sandy’s parents? And
seeing the rest of this place
Well aware of Sandy’s
noncommittal expression Hutch shrugged, his eyes
apologizing once again. Then he sat down to focus on breakfast where
forced himself to eat two pieces of toast with bacon and eggs in
preparation for the long drive back.
couldn’t wait to leave but felt sorry for Hank who embraced him
fiercely beside Hutch’s side, making his promise
to come back another
time. Sandy watched the scene with
an unreadable smile, politely shook
hands with him then folded her arms in satisfaction as Hutch got in and
the car. He didn’t dare look back as he headed back down the
winding driveway -- at last he was on his way home.
Hutch’s heartbeat accelerated when he approached the familiar suburbs
of Bay City after the six hour drive, only stopping for gas this time.
Finally home! He
wondered why he felt as if he had been away for months
instead of a mere two days. He parked his car in front of Venice place
and carried his bag upstairs, never feeling happier
to be home.
Forgetting he couldn’t speak Hutch immediately dialed Starsky’s number,
when he remembered that Starsky was staying in San
Diego until Tuesday. He showered and changed into a pair of
watered his plants, surprisingly hungry by then.
Finding his refrigerator empty, he thought Starsky
might have left
something behind, and before he knew it Hutch found himself driving to
He could write a note saying he was at home
already then they could talk everything through. Talk? He snorted
No way -- his voice was still out of order to everyone.
Rounding the last corner, Hutch couldn’t believe his
eyes. In the
driveway to Starsky’s apartment sparkled the familiar red and white
as he called Starsky’s car. Then he realized Starsky
might well have gone to the race with Huggy’s cousin
and simply left
his car at home.
Hutch got out of his LTD and was climbing the stairs when a glance at
Torino made him abruptly stop. A pair of jean-clad legs were
peeking out from under the
car and they looked all too familiar to
Hutch. Alarmed, he shouted “Starsk!” -- but no sound emerged.
down the stairs, he slowed his pace approaching the figure
under the car. He nudged the exposed ankle with his
foot and heard a
muffled cry. Soon the body belonging to the legs, wriggled out from
under the car -- a delighted
exclamation of “Hutch!” made the blond
Starsky scrambled to his feet, his face and hands smeared
dirt as he seemed to resist the urge to hug the blond. “You’re back and
it’s only Monday!
So tell me -- how was your trip? Miss me, huh?”
Starsky beamed at him as he fired the questions, grinning
pointed to the Torino with a questioning look.
“I had some problems
with the exhaust pipe,” Starsky started to
explain, then he stopped and frowned, looking at Hutch with concerned
blue eyes. “Somethin’s wrong. You haven’t said a word.”
“Lost my voice,” Hutch
mouthed, then shrugged.
The car forgotten, Starsky immediately concentrated on Hutch. “Let’s
we can do for that beautiful voice of yours,” he said. “C’mon
Starsky let Hutch precede him into the apartment then
said, “I gotta grab a shower. There must be Chinese food and
the fridge. And there’s some frozen chicken soup from Aunt Rosie --
that might be just the thing for
He saw Hutch making a face, and laughed affectionately. “Okay, okay,
suit yourself. Get
whatever you want. And hey? It’s good to have you
After blowing a kiss in Hutch’s
direction Starsky disappeared into the
bathroom, grinning fondly all the way. Hutch inhaled deeply and slumped
onto the couch.
Home. Vaguely it occurred to him that he was at Starsky’s, but
nevertheless he felt at home.
He flipped through Starsky’s record
collection and found one that expressed his mood perfectly. “Take me
Country Roads,” sang John Denver, “...to the place I belong ...”
As he went into the kitchen for
a beer and the Chinese food, Hutch
listened to the lyrics and smiled contentedly.
“Having dinner under difficult
conditions,” a teasing voice said near
his ear, and Starsky leaned into him, snatching the can of beer out of
hand to take a swig.
“Hey, get your own beer!” Hutch responded – and excitedly realized the
had come out as an audible croak. “Starsk, I can talk again,” he
exclaimed, still croaking but making sounds.
“Well, right now I’d prefer John Denver,” Starsky teased, “but I’m
for you. I’m used to your voice, Blondie, so take it easy and let’s
have dinner and you can hear
about my trip to San Diego without
straining your voice.”
Starsky put the plates on the coffee table, and soon both men were
enjoying their dinner, only interrupted by
narration about his experience at the car race. He had been able to
meet Harry Miller,
his favorite race driver, but when they had driven
along an old race track, Starsky’s exhaust pipe had become excessively
“Hutch, you won’t believe it, but my car was making noises like a 727!
I decided to come
home early so maybe Merle can fix it. I was just
clamping the loose part together again when you showed up.”
nodded and started to tell Starsky about his visit to Hank when
Starsky silenced him. “Ssh, Hutch. Don’t overdo
it. Your throat needs
some time to heal. Let me ask the questions and you can give a nod or
shake your head.”
Starsky smiled when Hutch nodded, and managed to learn the basics of
Hutch’s trip. In between questions
he got more beers until they both
leaned against the sofa cushions, relaxed and tired, each engrossed in
own thoughts. Suddenly Hutch sat up and looked at Starsky.
“You know what?” he croaked, then batted away
Starsky’s hand that was
about to clamp over his mouth.
“Let me say this -- It’s like a miracle
that I can talk again, only
after being back here half an hour, don’t you think?” Pensively Hutch
at his beer can.
“I felt uncomfortable out there. There was no harmony, no happiness. It
was like I had
Vanessa back again. And poor Hank, he’s miserable living
with all her coldness just like I was with Van. He was
terrific to me,
but it was a terrible atmosphere -- then when I woke up the next
morning I’d lost my voice.
That used to happen when I was married to
Van all the time.”
Hutch looked at Starsky again. Then, blushing
lightly, he said, “I
don’t know how to explain it, but I know one thing -- I’ve never lost
Blinking rapidly and remaining silent, Starsky reached out and pulled
Hutch close, burying
his face against Hutch’s chest. As Hutch responded
he realized he didn’t mind this silence at all -- sometimes
weren’t necessary to say what mattered most.
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