The plane had just landed in LA and you can't imagine how excited I felt! A dream had come true: To live and study in the city of the angels for one year, as an exchange student! I was only hoping that all went well and I would find, without any difficulties, where my new place was. When I got my luggage I said goodbye to the kind young woman who had sat next to me during the flight. We promised each other, we would stay in touch. She was born in LA, and could show me around sometime.

It was early afternoon, the sun was shining and in the distance I could see some palms. Exactly what California was supposed to be. But first I had to look for the right bus to Venice, where my new home was.

Finally I arrived! It was a two floor house and it said "Venice Place" on the front. Not too bad, I thought and entered the building. Narrow stairs lead to the first floor and soon I saw the number of my apartment on the right. It was already furnished and it took me only little time to stash my things in the closet. I turned on the TV but soon felt tired and took a nap.

When I woke up it was already getting dark. I remembered that there was a little bistro downstairs and decided to have dinner there. I had a good table near the window and I was about to finish my salad when I heard screeching tyres outside. What kind of maniac must that be! I thought and then I saw them: two young men got out of the car, one of them a tall blond, the other one a little smaller, with curly dark hair. He was obviously the driver and was laughing mischievously. Side by side they came straight towards the house and disappeared in it. Very interesting. Maybe they were living next door to me! I had to smile to myself. Was I feeling a little lonely, the first day in an unknown town, far away from home? I glanced at the bright red car with the white stripes and wondered what kind of person the owner was. What the heck was I thinking!

I tried to concentrate on my next day at the university, what I had to organize, and so on. When the waiter asked me for another drink I refused and paid the bill.

I went upstairs and was about to unlock the door to my apartment when I heard somebody play the guitar. It seemed to come from the apartment opposite of mine. I hesitated. Should I knock to introduce myself to my neighbour? Maybe it was a girl at my age and we could become friends...

I took all my courage and knocked on the door. Nothing. I knocked again and now the playing of the guitar stopped. Short time later the door was opened -- and I looked into very light blue eyes of the blond I had seen before. "Hi," he said and a little smile appeared on his face. "Hi," I smiled back and started to introduce myself. "I'm Monika from Germany, I am going to be your new neighbour, for some time and wanted to say hello..."

"From Germany? Guten Abend," the blond said and when he saw my astonished expression on my face he explained: "I learned German at school. By the way, I'm Hutch and this is my friend Starsky." He pointed to the living room where the darkhaired man, the driver of the car, was sprawled on the couch. "Come in," Hutch said and I entered the room behind him.

Starsky sat up and reached out his hand to shake mine. "Nice to meet you. Sit down. Would you like something to drink? My friend here is a specialist in mixing healthy drinks, I must warn you." He patted Hutch's back and there was an intimacy between them that touched me.

I laughed and said: "Okay, why not. Let me try one of your drinks." Hutch went to the kitchen to mix a drink. Starsky's dark blue eyes were fixing me and he asked: "Well, Monika, how do you like it here in LA?"

"Oh, I've just arrived. I'm happy that I found this apartment, without any problems, and tomorrow I have to be at the university to enroll."

"If you want we can pick you up in the morning," Starsky suggested and I started to like these young men. But I had to ask the next question.

"Do you live together in this apartment?"

"I've got my own place, but I must admit, my partner and I often hang around together," Starsky smiled.

Partners! I thought, okay, why not, I didn't have anything against this kind of lifestyle. As if Starsky had read my thoughts he added. "Yeah, we are partners, cops, otherwise we love the ladies..."

Hutch was bringing the drinks and asked: "Who loves who?" and Starsky gave his pal a soft smile and said: "I love you -- besides all the lovely ladies..." and his glance in my direction made me blush.

These guys had something special in their way to be with each other, I couldn't describe it. We talked about their job and my studies and when I finally left their apartment I felt as if I had found friends for a lifetime. As you can imagine, I fell asleep with a smile on my face. Lonely? Not at all!

The next weeks kept me busy with my studies at the university. Starsky and Hutch showed me Venice Beach. They took me in the middle and we ran along the beach like children, lighthearted and enjoying each other's company.

I always wanted to learn the guitar. One evening when Starsky was out with his date, Hutch showed me how to play a song with the guitar. He was so patient with me, that at last I could play "Black Bean Soup". I was very proud of myself.

Before I left I gave him a hug, but at this moment the door opened and I heard a furious female voice: "Ah, and you told me you had to work, Ken! Have a lot of fun! See you later!" A door slammed and the woman was gone.

"Diana! What the hell do you mean?" Hutch shouted after her. I felt a little shocked. Though I hadn't seen her, I felt quite uncomfortable with this situation. Must be his girlfriend, but I hadn't done anything wrong.

"Oh Hutch, that was your girlfriend, wasn't she? She misunderstood the situation, I'm so..."

"No, she isn't my girlfriend. I just met her some time ago at the hospital, dated her twice and now she is following me for some reason... Don't feel sorry, Monika, it's allright." And Hutch put his arms around my shoulder and tried to calm me down. Finally I stopped trembling enough so I could go back to my apartment.

The next evening I heard someone coming up the stairs and I thought: Huh, Hutch is coming home quite early today. Just when I wanted to open the door, I had a strange feeling and kept my door shut. I looked through the doorviewer and saw a young woman entering Hutch's apartment. Was that the lady from the day before? Whoever she was, it wasn't my business.

I went on with my studies, then watched the news on TV and prepared a light dinner. It was then that I heard some noises from Hutch's apartment. First I had to chuckle -- obviously they were having a wild night... but then I felt a little uneasy. Something was wrong over there.

Should I attract attention to myself? Still reflecting on this, I suddenly heard a door slam and somebody rushed down the stairs. Did Hutch and his lady have an argument?

Quite pensative I tried to finish my dinner; my appetite was gone.

When I heard again a noise in the hall I opened the door -- and was astonished to see Hutch coming home. "Hi Mon, it has been a long day for me. What about you? Are you fine?" His friendly soft voice attracted me. He was always so caring and I had to tell him about the visitor.

"Hey, let me tell you..." I started but Hutch who had opened his door was rooted to the spot. "Oh my God," I heard him and I saw what had happened to his apartment. It was all a mess. Broken pots with plants, torn cushions and the worst thing was Hutch's guitar -- totally destroyed.

"That can't be true!" Hutch said very quietly and this time I tried to comfort him. "I think I know who this was," and I told him about the woman I had seen entering his apartment.

"Must be Diana," he mumbled and was looking for the phone to call Starsky. A short time later Starsky arrived with their friend Huggy Bear, a bar owner. Starsky went straight to Hutch and spoke to him in soothing words. We all tried to clean up the mess. Finally we fell exhausted on the couch or what was left of it.

"Well, my man, I gotta go, can't leave the bar alone for much longer," Huggy rose and started to leave. "Thanks a lot, Hug," Hutch said and clasped hands with his friend.

"What are we going to do now? You can't sleep here, Hutch, your bed also needs a repair. Let's go to my place. If she comes back..." Starsky said.

Both must have seen the fear on my face. They exchanged glances and said unison: "Stay with us, Mon, if you are afraid to be alone in your apartment this night. And you know, you can trust us..."

"And thanks for helping me to tidy up the mess," Hutch smiled and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

"Okay guys, you are the best. Let me get some things from my place and then we can go." I felt relieved that I didn't have to stay after what had happened this evening.

During our trip to Starsky's place I was thinking about my time in LA so far. What an adventure living in this big city! I had already seen so many things, but the most important thing was that I had found two friends: Starsky and Hutch. Starsky had put his arm on my shoulder and I had to admit: Next to them I felt safe...

"Here we are. Hey Mon, you still with us?" Hutch touched my nose briefly and I smiled and assured him: "Yeah, I'm okay."

Starsky's place was small; one living room with an adjoining bedroom and a little kitchen. Not so many plants as at Hutch's place, but lots of pictures and a bottle ship, still unfinished, caught my eye.

"Make yourself at home. I can get you something to drink, and not only health drinks," Starsky smirked and Hutch rolled his eyes and suppressed a yawn.

"No, thanks, I'm tired, too," I said and was looking around.

As if he had read my thoughts Hutch said: "Well, partner, I think, Monika can take the couch and I share the covers with you, what do you think?" He was pointing to the bedroom.

Starsky nodded, but had to add: "Sure, though my bed is big enough for three people and if you feel uncomfortable on my lumpy couch, it's up to you to join us, Monika." He spoke seriously and I knew again, I could trust them.

"Would you like to take a shower?" I was asked and agreed. I felt sweaty and dusty, so I put my little bag and went into the bathroom.

I emerged from the shower, refreshed, put on a long Teeshirt for the night, and when I entered the living room I saw that Starsky had already prepared the couch for me.

"Thanks," I said and lay down.

"Who's next?" I heard and they both ran to the bathroom, like little boys who competed with each other.

Some time later it was dark in the apartment, I heard some whispering from the bedroom, then it was quiet and I fell asleep.

It was the morning sun that woke me up. I sat up and remembered why I was here with Starsky and Hutch. Disturbing things had happened the day before. Who was this Diana? Why had she destroyed Hutch's apartment? A shudder ran down my spine. Hopefully Hutch could talk to her and calm her down.

I couldn't sleep any longer, so I decided to make breakfast for the three of us.

On my way to the bathroom I peered into the bedroom -- and had to chuckle: Both were still asleep. Starsky had claimed most part of the bed and poor Hutch was lying on the edge of the bed, only caught by Starsky's arm over his chest.

The smell of fresh brewed coffee, scrambled eggs and bacon awoke my friends and they both appeared with tousled hair in the kitchen. "How was your night, Mon?" Hutch asked still yawning and Starsky answered: "I slept well. I told you, the bed is big enough for..."

"Shut up!" Hutch cut him off. "I almost fell out of the bed. Besides I could hardly breathe because some idiot was lying half on me. What a night!"

"Your couch is not too bad," I tried to distract them, and soon we were munching our breakfast.

"You see, Hutch, Monika knows how to make a real breakfast!" Starsky smiled and Hutch had to admit that sometimes even he, could put up with a normal breakfast.

Referring to Diana they decided to talk to their captain. Someone had to observe her; her reactions seemed to be unpredictable.

Back to normality. I continued with my studies and Diana didn't appear again at Venice Place. Starsky had invited us to his birthday the next month and I was anxious to buy him a present, too. Hutch and I met in the big mall next to the station to buy something special for our friend.

Soon Hutch had found the right thing: A new engine for Starsky's model railway. "I can tell you a story about Christmas some years ago. I had a very special present for my best friend..." and Hutch told me about the tree that was planted for Starsky in the park, not far from his favourite bench. First Starsky had been disappointed but later he appreciated his friend's gift.

"I'd like to see this place but first I need a present for Starsky," I said.

"What about a new aftershave?" Hutch proposed. "You know, Starsk uses the same aftershave for years, he desperately needs a new one to impress the ladies -- like I do," Hutch smiled, but I had to object: "Women like Diana?"

"No, of course not." Hutch became serious. "I spoke to her and she seemed to be reasonable."

Finally we had found the right aftershave for Starsky and we decided to drive to the park. We sat down on Starsky's bench and looked over to the small plant that was going to be a big tree in some years.

Somehow we started talking about friendship and Hutch told me about the special bond he had with Starsky. When I heard what they had been through together and how they had helped each other I felt deeply touched. Hutch mentioned the shooting in the Italian restaurant a year ago, when Starsky got shot, and he had felt so helpless. Hutch was emotional and I grasped his hand. He held tight and when we walked to the car he still held my hand.

We hadn't realized that Diana was watching us.

How I knew that? I'll tell you.

We arrived at Venice Place and Hutch decided to take a shower while I changed for the evening. We wanted to meet with Starsky at The Pits, Huggy's bar.

I was ready and walked across the hall. His apartment wasn't locked -- no problem, he was awaiting me. He was still in the shower and I sat down in the living room to look at his records.

I was just bending down to take a Buddy Holly record, out of the rack, when something hard was punched against my head, and I tumbled. I heard a furious voice from behind.

"You piece of trash, taking my Hutch away. I wanted to marry him. Now it'll be the end for you both!"

It was hard for me to move, my head was aching terribly, but I had to help Hutch! I heard a cry from the shower and I feared the worst.

Though I felt quite weak I crawled on all fours in direction to the phone to make an emergency call. I had just finished giving them the address when Hutch emerged from the shower, only a bathrobe round his shoulders, followed by Diana who had a knife in her hand. She must have stabbed him already because he seemed to be in agony. He turned toward her to defend himself but he was already very weak and she was getting more and more furious.

He broke down, but continued to wrestle with her to get the knife out of her hand. Soon it would be too late. I crawled along the back of the couch to get behind the woman. I needed something to knock her out with. I caught a glimpse of the new guitar Hutch had bought after Diana's vandalism weeks ago.

"Don't be cross with me, Hutch," I begged, in my mind, "it's only to save you from Diana," and with all my strength I straightened up and whacked the guitar on Diana's head.

She was out like a light, the knife fell on the floor.

"Oh dear," I looked into Hutch's pale face; he seemed to be half conscious. I didn't feel very good either and before I knew it all was getting dark around me.

Something cold was lying on my forehead. I carefully opened my eyes and looked straight into Starsky's dark blue eyes. "Monika, how are you? What happened?" I had difficulty replying, but when I saw Hutch, I felt so relieved and I tried to explain. "Sorry, the guitar, had to help Hutch..." I mumbled and Starsky's big grin made it easier to me.

"Then it was you who saved this turkey?" and Starsky ruffled Hutch's hair affectionately. I turned my head to see if Hutch was feeling better. His left arm was bandaged and he was still wearing the robe. He leaned against the cushions and he was very pale, but when we looked at each other, there was a tender smile on his face. He was gonna be allright.

"Buddy, let's put you into some sweats." Starsky helped his friend to take off the robe and I turned my head to give them some privacy. I could feel the lump on my head. Maybe I had a concussion. Had to ask the paramedic about it...

"Mon, you should lie down," I heard Hutch's soft voice over me. I did what he said. Starsky brought a blanket and put two pillows under my head. "Sweet dreams and thank you for knocking off that crazy woman," Hutch smiled at me and reached down to hug me. Suddenly I felt so exhausted, I only wanted to sleep.

It was my second night together with the guys, but this time there was no complaining at all. I was woken up several times by Starsky, who wanted to know what my name was (ridiculous!). Later I knew it was because of the possible concussion that he had to ask.

Today is March 25th and I'm invited to Starsky's birthday. We are going to celebrate it at The Pits and I will get to know his superior, Captain Dobey and his family and Minnie from the precinct... but fortunately no Diana Harmon! She is going to jail, that's for sure!

I hope Starsky will like his new aftershave and all his other presents and I'm really happy for Hutch, too, because though it isn't his birthday today he will get a present from all his friends: A new guitar. We have collected enough money and have bought him a beautiful new instrument. There is only one condition: This guitar has to ride out the next ten years!

The End

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