Artwork by NIcol Tyler

Artwork by Ankaree



By Monika   03/08




Chapter one


The late afternoon sun flooded the empty beach. The light was caught in the blond hair of the lone man who crouched near the shore, playing absent-mindedly with a glistening toy windmill. He didn’t turn when he felt another person approaching, only straightened and sighed, looking out at the calm sea.


The other man stopped near the blond, they exchanged a few words, and both stood, shoulders touching. Finally they locked glances for a brief moment, nodded in mute agreement, and fished their badges out of their jeans pockets. Simultaneously, they threw their badges into the ocean.




“That’s it.” Starsky burrowed his hands in his pockets and turned his back to the sea. With tired steps, he worked his way through the sand, followed by his partner who looked back one more time, as if he longed to see where his badge had gone.


“Hutch, what’re we gonna do now?” Pensively, Starsky slowed down until they walked side by side.


“Right now? Have a beer,” Hutch said, and a small smile appeared on his face.


For Starsky, it meant encouragement and support after all those days of disillusion and frustration. Lionel Rigger had been killed because Starsky had screwed up, had left him alone to look for his hurt partner on the street. Both detectives had put their job into question, and had jeopardized their ability to protect the people who trusted them, like Lionel. Huggy had turned away from them, disappointed and angry at their betrayal of his friend.


“Not Huggy’s,” Starsky stated, and met no opposition.


Half an hour later, they reached the suburbs of the city. Darkness had set in, and the apartment buildings on both sides of the road looked grey and dirty. As they were almost out of the city limits, they came to an area with lots of parked trucks. An illuminated sign over the entrance of a one story building said, “Trucker’s Lodge”.


“That would be a good place to get some food,” Starsky said, and turned left into the parking lot.


Hutch only nodded, and wiped his face, hiding a yawn.


Starsky glanced at his partner. He knew the events of the last days had taken their toll on Hutch, too.


“Buddy, let’s relax for now.” Starsky rubbed Hutch’s shoulder and gave him an encouraging pat before they got out of the car and trudged toward the bar. Inside, the dim, yellow light from the low-hanging lamps over the tables illuminated the cigarette smoke in the air. A number of truckers sat digging into their dinners, smoking as they shoveled food into their mouths. The mood fitted Starsky perfectly.


Hutch pointed to a corner of the bar where two stools were still free, and soon they were savoring their first beers. Starsky ordered the special of the day, a burger with fries, onions and a salad.


“The same for me,” Hutch mumbled, and Starsky looked at him, astounded. It was the first time in a long time that Hutch had passed on a healthy snack. Maybe finally, Hutch could appreciate what tasted good, Starsky thought, and smiled into his half empty glass. Three beers later, he was still smiling and listening to Hutch’s complaints about a too greasy meal.


“Hutch, stop it. Better think of what we are doing tomorrow. What about our jobs now?” Starsky slurred the words slightly and motioned the bar keeper to bring two more beers.


“What about robbing banks in Bolivia?” Hutch asked, suppressing a hiccup.


“Yeah, or we could join the Canadian football team.” Starsky leaned into Hutch, remembering the night they had opened Terry’s gifts. Before he could slide off the stool in his inebriated state, Hutch’s strong arm held him upright. “Let’s call it a day, buddy,” he heard Hutch say, and then there was another voice right behind them.


“Guys, I overheard you. You need a job?” Both turned around and saw an older man in front of them, smiling encouragingly. His friendliness couldn’t hide his nervousness, though, and he went on speaking, rubbing his hands. “My name is John Carter, I own a little truckage company and I’m in desperate need of two drivers. The men I hired didn’t come back, don’t know why. So if you can drive a truck and have time to take some technical equipment to Mexico, you’d be my men – and you’ll get paid well.”


Starsky looked at Hutch, communicating without words.


’What do you think about it? We could get away for some days, would make some bucks, and driving a truck isn’t the worst thing I could think about. You with me in this, pal?’


After a little moment Hutch nodded subtly and straightened. Turning toward Carter, he said, “You’re in luck, we are available. How long will it take and what exactly are we carrying to Mexico??”


“Well, you have to deliver the load as soon as possible. It’s technical equipment for the oil exporting industry, and you should be leaving tomorrow morning, so you can be back on Sunday. Okay?”


“And when do we get our pay?” Starsky asked.


The man smiled again, “Half of it now, the rest when the load is delivered. Is it a deal?”


Starsky exchanged glances with Hutch and nodded.


”Okay, Mr. Carter. It’s been a while since I have driven such a big baby. Can we  have a look at the truck and the load?”


”No problem,” Mr. Carter hurried to say. He reached out his hands and they shook on the deal.


At that moment, two other men rushed into the bar, heading straight toward the little group.


“Mr. Carter, we’ve heard you need two drivers. Here we are. We have recommendations and are the best available drivers on the market -”


“Too late, I’m sorry, I’ve just hired these two guys,” Mr. Carter said, and Starsky smiled triumphantly. The faces of the two men fell and their disappointment was palpable.


"Any time you need a couple of drivers—we live really near by," One of them said. Slowly, they turned to leave the room


”Where’s the truck?” Starsky rubbed his hands in anticipation.


Carter shifted his glance from the leaving men and concentrated on Starsky and Hutch. ”You said you are used to driving a truck? Because the load is somewhat precious and has to be delivered in the shortest time.”


”When it comes to my partner’s driving skills, I’m only worried that he is too fast,” Hutch couldn’t help to add and received a hard nudge in his side from Starsky.


”You’ll see your load will be delivered in time, I promise,” Starsky said, looking expectantly to the door.


”So, I'll show you the truck. Follow me.”


Mr. Carter led them across the parking lot to the far end of the yard. In the darkness, they could make out a large dusty truck that had seen better days. The bumpers seemed to be tied rough and ready, but the tires were okay. Starsky aimed a kick at the closest one and was satisfied.


“Can we have a look at the freight?” Hutch asked, having rounded the truck.


Mr. Carter willingly opened the doors and let them have a peek into the dark interior. They could see big boxes, tied securely at the walls.


”Give me a hand, will you?” Hutch asked and Starsky helped him to enter the interior of the old vehicle. Hutch checked the fastening of the door and gave an approving whistle. ”Nothing to complain about. What about the load? Can we open a box? I’d like to check the contents, too.” Hutch fumbled with the lock of one of the boxes.


”Mister,” Carter’s voice showed some annoyance. "I can assure you that everything is okay with the boxes. I don’t have a flashlight though, and if you want to check on it tomorrow, it’s up to you.”


Hutch looked at Starsky and saw him smiling reassuringly, hiding a yawn. Hutch shrugged his shoulders and stepped to the edge of the load floor to jump down the truck. The floor creaked and Mr. Carter held up his hands in a warning gesture.


"Don’t stumble. There is a ridge...”


Starsky steadied Hutch when he landed on the ground and nodded. “Okay, Mr. Carter. We need the papers and a place to stay the night. You don’t want us to fall asleep behind the wheel tomorrow,” he joked.


Mr. Carter pointed to the building next door. ”There’s a motel you can stay the night at. I'll bring the papers right away. Night, guys, see you back in four days. And no unneccesary stops. They urgently need the equipment in Santa Rosa.”


Mr. Carter locked the truck and left for his own car, an old Ford Sedan.

”Looks familiar to you?” Starsky joked, but got only a big yawn back from Hutch.


”That’s it, partner. Let’s call it a night.”





“I can’t believe it! Hutch, we’ve got a job!” Starsky let himself fall on his small bed in their motel room, fighting a light dizziness which was obviously the after-effects of the beers he had drunk. But he felt good at the same time. The depressing events of the last days seemed to be far away.


Was this the same evening that they had thrown their badges into the ocean, feeling nothing but emptiness and disappointment? Their problems weren’t solved yet, though, and neither of them was ready to give up his hopes to help people and to serve the law; but whatever was going to happen, they would have a little distraction by going to Mexico. For Starsky, it was a dream come true. He had always wished to go there. He and Terry had planned to spend their honeymoon in Mexico, but that chance was taken from him when Terry was shot.


Starsky sighed and shoved the thoughts aside. Slowly, he braced on one elbow and looked around. The sounds from the small bathroom told him that Hutch was taking a shower. Their room was just a typically bare, non-descript motel room, but it held a special quality for Starsky; it was the first sign of a new beginning. Their future lay ahead of them, and maybe this first job would give them the chance to clear their heads of the bad experiences of the last few days.


“Water is getting cold, so if you wanna grab a shower, hurry.” Hutch emerged from the bathroom, toweling his hair.


“Always the same, you get all the warm water,” mumbled Starsky, trudging past Hutch and pulling playfully at the towel draped around Hutch’s waist.


“Hey, ‘m cold,” Hutch complained, picking up the towel from the floor and smacking it in the direction of a fleeing Starsky.


Through the sound of the running water, Starsky called out to Hutch, asking about what they should do about their lack of fresh clothes and toiletries.


When Starsky came back from the shower, Hutch said, ”Tomorrow morning, we take a detour to our places and get what we need for the trip, and we’ll still be in time to get to…”  Hutch, who had the papers and a map in front of him on the covers, checked the name, “…to Santa Rosa.”


“What about Dobey? Do we need to tell him about us leaving town for some days?” Starsky mused, getting under the covers and stretching out.


“He doesn’t expect us back till next Monday. That would be early enough to tell him about our decision to quit the force.”


Hutch looked insecure for a moment, and Starsky felt uncomfortable, too. Had they screwed up by getting rid of their badges and not telling Captain Dobey about it? Were they really so sick and tired of their job?


“First let’s do this job, then we’ll see.” Hutch ended the discussion and put the papers on the nightstand. He lay down and covered himself with the blanket, only to shove it away after a little while.


“It’s too warm, the air conditioner doesn’t work. G’night, pal,” Hutch yawned and turned to his side.


Starsky lay awake, still thinking about the last week. He was lucky to still have Hutch by his side. ‘Me and thee’ had always been their motto, and apart from the thing with Kira, and some other misunderstandings, they had stuck together. Affectionately Starsky looked over to his sleeping partner. His even breathing calmed Starsky, and soon he fell asleep, too.




“Wake up, Sleepyhead.” Slowly Starsky awoke, looking into Hutch’s blue eyes. Bright daylight was sweeping through the room and Hutch was already dressed. Starsky shook his head and rubbed his eyes.


“Hutch, I had a strange dream. We threw our badges into the ocean! How dumb can someone be …?” Hutch’s gaze told him all he needed to know and he held his breath.


“Hutch, we did it! Now I remember. Shit!” Starsky sat up, suddenly fully awake.


“Let’s look forward to getting the truck load to Mexico first, then we can think about our future.” Soothingly Hutch ran his hand along Starsky’s arm, then looked at his watch. “Time to leave if we want to stop at our places first.”



Two hours later, the big truck left the area of Bay City in direction of the Mexican border. Carter had agreed to open some boxes for them and they had made sure that the load corresponded with the description in the papers. Starsky relaxed and enjoyed being behind the steering wheelof a truck after a long time. Both men had packed a small bag with clothes and some toiletries for the next days, and looked forward to a new experience.











Chapter two



“Something’s wrong here,” Starsky mumbled and shifted behind the steering wheel to have a look at the clutch pedal. He had been been driving since they had left Bay City, and now it seemed that the clutch stopped functioning. Starsky looked at Hutch who was sleeping soundly, his head leaning against the passenger’s window. “C’mon buddy, wake up, we have a problem here. I can’t put it in gear.” He struggled to keep the truck running, and used the next exit to leave the highway.


“Uh? Sorry. What d’you say?” Hutch straightened and looked out of the window. ”We are in San Clemente. Hey, why did you leave the highway? We aren’t at the border yet.”


”Very funny, Hutch,” Starsky  hissed and tried to slow down. ”The clutch has broken down. Let’s find a garage to ask for help.”


”Shit! Okay, let’s see...Look, over there is a gas station. Maybe they can check the clutch.” Hutch folded the map he had used before and put it in the glove compartment.


Fifteen minutes later, both men were retrieving their bags out of the truck and cursing at the broken clutch. The owner of the garage, Carlos, needed one day to get a spare part, but had promised to have the truck ready as soon as possible. They were lucky to have a little motel across the road where they could stay the night.


”We are going to be late. We are supposed to be in Mexico tomorrow evening,” Hutch worried  about the deal they had with Mr. Carter.


”it isn’t our fault, Hutch. We can call him and tell him what an old heap he gave us,” Starsky said.


When they approached the small white Spanish style motel, their mood lightened though.


”Not too bad, don’t you think?” Starsky smiled looking around. ” Hey, the sea isn’t far from here – I can smell it!” A light breeze came from the ocean and cooled them.


”Yeah, it’s almost like home,” Hutch smiled


They headed for the reception and were lucky to get a room with sea view. While Hutch tried to get Mr. Carter on the phone, Starsky stood on the small balcony enjoying the look over the ocean and inhaling the fresh salty air.


”Hutch, maybe it isn’t too bad that we are forced to stay here one day. I’d like to go down to the shore – but beforehand, I need a good lunch.”


Starsky left the balcony and saw Hutch shaking his head, the receiver still in his hand.


”No chance. Mr. Carter isn’t gettable. I’ll try it again later. Yeah, let’s get something to eat. There’s a restaurant downstairs. C’mon, Gordo. I don’t want you to starve.” Hutch opened the door and let his partner go first, a habit they had gotten used to in their long partnership.


In the little restaurant, they satisfied their hunger, and afterward they sat contentedly outside on a wall, looking at the sea and enjoying the afternoon sun.


“Life is not that bad, it’s almost as if we are on vacation,” Starsky said, dangling his feet over the edge. ”I only hope our truck will be repaired tomorrow so we can hurry to Mexico and make up some time.”


”I hope so too,” Hutch said, not able to hide his nervousness completely. ”I want to get this job done as quickly as possible. Carter said they were waiting for the equipment urgently. And we’re sitting here enjoying the beach life.”


”Indeed.” Starsky beamed at a beauty walking by in hot pants and a top that revealed more than it hid her curves.


Starsky went serious again when they heard a noise from something in the distance, and they noticed that down the beach there was a railway next to the road. A train was approaching, and Starsky got excited.




“Fantastic! Let’s walk down to the beach and see if another train is coming. I love trains!” Starsky jumped off the wall and was already moving down the path that led to the tracks.


Hutch sighed. His very energetic partner acted like an enthusiastic child.


“I’m coming, pal.” Hutch followed Starsky down to the railway where they stood looking in the direction where the train had come from. Suddenly Starsky lay down by the rails and put his ear to one of them.


“The Indians did this. They could hear a train coming when it was still miles away.”


Hutch grinned. “Attention, a train is coming!” he said, and Starsky jumped up, frightened.


“I mean, it could be coming.” Hutch smiled teasingly, and Starsky left the rails, just in case.


“You’re mean, you know that?” he pouted, only to grin a second later. “Hey, it’s great here, let’s walk along the beach.” The wind freshened the humid air and both men walked along the shore, lost in their thoughts and trying to cope with the delay of their job.


Starsky let the day pass by in his mind, thinking about how excited he had felt behind the steering wheel of the truck. He remembered when he and Hutch had driven a truck  when Joe Durniak had been their witness and how much fun it had been for Starsky to use the CB. They had invented ’Puce Goose’ and the ’Blond Blintz’, the latter becoming Starsky’s favorite nickname for his partner.


Old memories of Bay City returned, as well, like when he used to drive his Uncle Al's truck. In those days, his uncle had taught him how to repair cars. Who knew what would have happened to him if he hadn’t been drafted? Maybe he’d have become a car mechanic. But after his tour in ’Nam, he’d been forced to find a way to earn some money, and had taken up a job as taxi driver. Becoming a mechanic had felt like a faint dream by then. At least, he thought wistfully, it had still been something to do with cars. Starsky smiled and realized Hutch was looking at him.


“A penny for your thoughts.” He smiled, and Starsky shrugged his shoulders, stopping at the shore.


“I was just thinking about my taxi driver job,” he said and Hutch frowned.


“My God, don’t remind me of that horrible case!” Hutch looked out at the sea, the memories still vivid in his mind. “That crazy man, taking revenge on taxi drivers, and you were almost his last victim.”


Starsky moved closer and touched his friend’s shoulder in a comforting gesture. He was overwhelmed again how much this die-hard cop cared for him. If Hutch hadn’t found him in time… Starsky gulped and said, “Don’t worry, I’m still here, thanks to you. I meant my job after ‘Nam. Driving a taxi, I got to know John Blaine, and he told me about the Police Academy. The rest is history.”


Hutch locked glances with him and a smile found back to his face.


“Yeah, I remember the tough, street-wise guy I met at the academy. I never thought that I would get used to him. But the good thing was that he helped me keep my room clean. It was worth it, in the end.” Hutch winked at Starsky and playfully shoved a little sand in Starsky’s direction with his foot.


“Yuck!” Starsky tried to wipe the sand off his clothes when Hutch bent to unlace his shoes. “What are ya up to?” Starsky asked.


“Going for a swim. You join me?”


Starsky looked down on his sand-covered clothes. A swim in the ocean would cool them off, and though he wasn’t fond of water, he knew that with Hutch by his side he needn’t be afraid.


As if Hutch had read his thoughts, he said, “But promise me that you don’t dive for messages in a bottle. I’m not up to rescuing you from the ocean again.”


Starsky recalled the evening in Bay City when he had gone for a swim with Hutch and had tried to get a bottle out of the sea. A cramp in his leg had gotten him into trouble. Again, it had been Hutch who had helped him to get safely out of the water.


“Promise,” Starsky said, getting rid of his shirt and jeans. Despite of the warmth, he shivered lightly, watching Hutch go straight into the water. “Is it cold?” he asked. Starsky wasn’t sure if he should follow Hutch, but when splashes of water hit him, he called out, “Wait,” and got over his fears.


The waves didn’t wait for him to dive slowly into the water. They swept over him, and he realized that it wasn’t cold at all, but quite refreshing. “Hutch, I like it!” He swam to Hutch’s side and both men enjoyed the swim at dusk.


They didn’t care about dressing before they trudged up to their motel room, jeans and shirt bundled under their arms.


“Today it’s my turn to take a shower first,” Starsky hurried to say before he disappeared into the bathroom. When he came back, Hutch was trying to remove a pile of sand from the carpet, cursing lightly.


“Haven’t had enough of playing in the sand?” Starsky smirked and looked into Hutch’s flushed face.


“Nope. Had it in my boxers. Blame the waves for it. Turned me upside down and shoved sand in my underwear. Didn’t realize it 'till now.”


“Shit happens.” Starsky had to hide a smile and motioned to the steamy bathroom. “Go get your shower and I’ll take care of the sand.”


“Thanks,” Hutch mumbled and disappeared in the bathroom.


Starsky cleaned the the sand from the carpet with a vacuum cleaner he found around the corner in the hallway, and then he stretched out on the bed, feeling tired but relaxed. Must have been the swim in the ocean, he thought and yawned. A grumble in his stomach told him that he could use another snack. Next to the garage, he had seen a diner. Maybe he could go and get some takeout for Hutch and himself.


“Hutch? I’m gonna grab something to eat, be right back.” Starsky didn’t wait for an answer and left the motel room. It was dark by now, and he could vaguely see their truck on the parking lot of the garage. On the spur of the moment, Starsky approached their truck and checked the locks. Relieved that everything was okay, Starsky crossed the road to get their well-deserved late night snack.



”That was good.” Wiping his mouth with the napkin that had been in the bag with the meals, Starsky took a deep breath, sounding contented. Spread out on his bed, he looked over to Hutch who obviously had enjoyed the salad and the turkey sandwich Starsky had got for him.


“Yeah, not too bad. Finally, you got something healthy – so why didn’t you choose the same for yourself?” Hutch asked, and got up from the bed to throw the empty bags into the trashcan.


“Couldn’t resist the French fries and the pastrami sandwich with extra onions,” Starsky said, almost apologetically. He licked a finger to catch the rest of some ketchup, then leaned back and smiled. “Hutch, I can’t wait to see Mexico. Terry would have loved to go with me there.” Starsky paused and knew that his words would make Hutch feel uncomfortable.


“And now you are stuck with me,” Hutch answered as expected. “I’m sorry for you, buddy, maybe we shouldn’t have accepted this job. It makes you think of Terry and what you had planned with her. Now you are alone and…”


“I’m not alone!” Starsky said determinedly, and his voice became soft. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you are here.”


“Getting soapy?” Hutch smiled, and ruffled Starsky’s curls before he turned to his bed, shedding his shoes and jeans.


Starsky braced on one elbow, a pensive expression on his face. “Hutch, I remember Nick and me talking about our dreams for the future when we were kids. In the evenings we'd lie in bed in the darkness and dream about what could be. What are your plans for the future, now that we've stopped being cops?”


Hutch hid a yawn, covered himself with the bedspread and lay down on his side, facing Starsky. His pale blue eyes locked with Starsky's, and he smiled.


“I see myself working in my father’s office, supporting my mom with her charity activities and...” Hutch began.


“No, you can’t mean that seriously!” Starsky butted in, sitting straight up in his bed.


“Of course not, dummy,” Hutch chided and turned seriously again. “Whatever the future brings, I couldn’t imagine it without a certain turkey I have gotten used to during the last seven years. Need to know what he has in mind, and I’m in, too.”


Hutch’s smile intensified and Starsky grinned back, feeling so much better all of a sudden. He lay back, folding his arms behind his head and closed his eyes. The events of the day had made him sleepy; and though they had to wait until the next day to go to Mexico, he was sure they would make up for lost time. Everything was going to be all right.


He heard Hutch’s whispered “Sleep tight,” then he was out like a light.





Chapter three



Starsky and Hutch woke up to the morning sun that promised another warm day in Southern California. Starsky yawned broadly and, stretching his limbs, he looked over to his friend whose disheveled hair peeked out from under the covers..


”Mornin’ partner. Hey, no jogging this morning?” Starsky sat up and looked at his watch. ”Past nine. Blondie, what about breakfast? I’m hungry, and they said breakfast is included.”


Hutch turned round and opened one eye glaring sleepily at his partner. ”Breakfast? Okay, if it’s served up in bed,” he said and closed his eyes again.


”I’d do everything for you,” Starsky said in a singsong voice and scrambled out of bed. He dressed and went downstairs to get their breakfst. Looking around, he couldn’t find anything that looked like a buffet or a breakfast table. He was about to go back to their room when he noticed a small table near the back exit door. Set on the table was an open, raked-over package of donuts, some of them already broken. Starsky gulped. His appetite was comlpletely gone. He didn’t care for the coffee in the thermos flask, and hurried back to their room.


”Forget the breakfast, Hutch. Not even a dog would touch such a mess!” He looked at the empty bed and heard the water run in the bathroom. Waiting for Hutch, he took this map out of his bag to check where in San Clemente they were.


”Where’s my luxurious breakfast?” Hutch asked coming out of the bathroom and looking around hopefully.


”Sorry pal, but I wouldn’t have let you eat that crap. Instead let’s go to the city and find something edible there. We have to kill the time anyway till we get our truck back. The center isn’t far from here. Look.” And Starsky pointed at the map to show Hutch the way.


”Hey, you’re dripping on the map!” Starsky fingered some wet blond strands and grabbed a towel from a chair. ”Take this. And then let’s get out of here, Blondie. Let’s enjoy the day before our job takes over again.”


Hutch looked pensive. ”I should try to get Carter on the phone once more. He has to know about the delay and I can only hope that he is in his office this morning.” He went over to the phone and looked for the number on the piece of paper Carter had given them. He dialed and Starsky watched him, ears pricked.


”Hallo? Hutchinson speaking. Can I talk to Mr: Carter, please?. – What?” Hutch listened and raised his eyebrows, his fingers playing impatiently with the chords of the phone. ”Anyway, tell him the drivers he hired will be tardy because of a problem with the truck. We’re going to Santa Rosa as fast as we can. You understand?”


Hutch finished the call and took a deep breath.


”Who did you speak to? Where’s Carter?” Starsky wanted to know.


”She said she’s Alma, the cleaning lady. She smattered something about Carter being away on business. I’m not sure she got what I told her. Her first language is Spanish, I think. Starsk, this job is becoming more and more fishy to me. What if Carter isn’t the serious business man he pretends to be? He offered us the job in the middle if the night – what the hell came over us to accept his offer?” Hutch sounded pissed off. He put on his jeans and a black t-shirt.


Starsky stood next to thim, feeling bad all of a sudden. ”Hutch, I know what you mean, but we shouldn’t worry too much. See, the load and the papers are okay. We’re going to check the contents of the boxes again to make sure that everything is okay. It’s a chance for us to get away for a ouple of days, forgetting about all the trouble we’ve had the last time.”


Hutch shrugged his shoulders ”I’m not so sure about this job, I can’t help it. Anyway, let’s get this job done.”




They left the motel and stopped at the garage where the truck was parked. They unlocked the doors and checked the load again systematically. They couldn’t find anything suspicious and Hutch sounded more relieved when he shut the door to lock it.


”So far, so good. Now let’s ask about the spare part and if they really can get it till this afternoon. I want to be on the safe side. Otherwise, we have to ask for help in another garage”.


”Hello, somebody here?” Starsky entered the garage where some cars were on raised platforms. A dirty, smeared face appeared from under a car and a young man looked questioningly at them. ”Can you tell me where we can find Carlos?”

Starsky asked.


The young man pointed to a back door. ”Carlos is in his office.” He went back to the platform and disappeared under the car.


”Okay, let’s hope that Carlos has good news for us,” Starsky sighed and marched toward the back door. He hesitated to have a look at one of the cars with an open hood. ”Hutch, ya know that I almost learned to be a car mechanic? I was always interested in engines and how to tune up a car. In New York, we used to...”


The back door opened and Carlos stepped out, looking surprised at the two men.


”I’m sorry but your spare part won’t be here before tonight. But it’s ordered. You could spend some time in the city. It’s not far from here and it has some beautiful sights.”


”Thanks. It’s really important that we get the part today. Can you give us your phone number? Then we can call you while we’re away,” Starsky said and Carlos nodded, looking for pen and paper.


Shortly afterward the two men stepped out into the bright sunlight.


”Come on, Hutch. Tonight we’ll be on the road again and can finish our job. Now let’s visit San Clemente.” Starsky turned left into a side road.


”That’s the way to the main street, and I’m sure they have restaurants there where we can have a late breakfast.” Starsky’s stomach underlined the sentence with a loud growl.


Hutch teased him,”Always starving, tsk, tsk..that’s my partner.”


Side by side, they followed the street into the main section of San Clemente. They were surrounded by people strolling along the shopping streets. Many others sat outside at small cafes, relaxing in the sun.


”Here, Hutch, I’ve found a free table!” Starsky hurried over to nice place under a red and white striped awning. They had a beautiful view of the market place to enjoy their breakfast,


”Look over there. What a beautiful church!” Hutch pointed to a Spanish style building.


After they had paid the bill, Starsky trudged behind his friend, listening half-heartedly to Hutch’s historical explanations. Inside the church, they cherished the coolness and  quiet atmosphere.


Starsky thought about Lionel Rigger who had died from their neglect, and the wife he'd left behind with a little kid. It just wasn’t fair. While the bad guys survived, innocent people had to suffer. Starsky took a deep breath, and felt a hand on his shoulder. No words were needed. Hutch knew what Starsky was feeling. Leaning into the touch, Starsky left the church at Hutch’s side.


”I bet that’s something for you.” Hutch used the Hutchinson finger to give the direction.


”A toy shop!” Starsky’s eyes widened in surprise and his thoughts shifted to more enjoyable things.


”I would like a new engine for my model railway. Let’s check the shop. Maybe they can help me.”


This time, it was Hutch who trudged behind Starsky knowing that they wouldn’t leave the store for the next sixty minutes.


”Do you remember when I was waiting for you and you didn’t show up because you had that conversation with your local dealer at the toy shop about model railways?” Hutch reminded his friend of a morning some years ago.


”No idea,” Starsky said blank-faced, then he laughed, lightly embarrassed. ”It was only because I had forgotten the time and the assistant was about to show me the latest model of the Pacific Railway. No harm intended, Blondie. Okay, waiting at the roadside during that heat wave wasn’t the best thing, but after one hour I showed up and I promised you to go with you to that vegetarian restaurant. and I paid for the tofu burgers we had. They weren’t that bad, by the way. – Here we are.”


The San Clemente toy shop had an atmosphere of its own. It was dark inside and the shelves were full of model cars and railway accessories. Starsky made his way through the narrow paths to the counter.


”Can I help you?” An older man appeared and looked at the two men with friendly eyes.


”You’ve got nice stuff here,” started Starsky.


Within one minute, he and shop keeper, Mr. Sanders, were pratically best friends. One model engine followed the other and they were lined up on the counter, to be admired and discussed by Starsky and the old man.


”This one has special fraction tires and here you can see a smoke generator. You fill in this liquid and it works immediately.” Mr. Sanders set the engine on the miniature rails and smoke came out of the stack.


”Isn’t that amazing, Hutch? – Hutch?” Starsky turned around but Hutch was gone. Where was he? Starsky searched the small shop interior quickly.


”We’ve got a section with used stuff--” Mr. Sanders said and pointed to the right.


”Thanks, be right back.” Starsky went in the next room and found Hutch engrossed in some sheets of music.


”What’re you up to?” Starsky put his chin on Hutch’s shoulder and peeked at the yellowed sheets.


”You won’t believe it, but this sheet music is very rare. I could stay here for hours. They even have used guitars – look!” Hutch picked up a vintage guitar and plucked at the strings.


Starsky joked, ”Just the right birthday present for me. You can teach me some new chords and I'll fill you in on the latest model engines. You coming with me?”


Hutch took out his pocket watch and blanched. ”Starsk, it’s already after 4PM. We have to get our repaired truck and head to the border. If Mr. Carter knew...”


”Is it really that late?” Starsky shook his head and mumbled, ”Forgot the time - again. Okay, let’s get out of here.”




Tired, but in good spirits, they arrived at the garage. Hutch made a face when Carlos, told them that they had to wait one more hour.


”Why that? You promised the spare clutch would be here.” Starsky was about to lose his temper.


”Sorry, but my mechanic got sick and had to leave earlier. I’m waiting right now for a substitute to install the clutch. It’s over there. It was delivered this afternoon,” Carlos hurried to explain..


”Maybe I can have a look at the truck, too,” Starsky suggested, and met the skeptical gaze of Hutch and Carlos.


”At your own risk, guys..” Carlos didn’t seem convinced, but he led them to the hall where the clutch waited to be mounted.


Together they went to the truck, and Hutch watched in amazement as his friend, assisted by Carlos, handled the mounting of the clutch with expertise. The substitue joined them, but even he said Starsky had a lucky hand with vehicles.


The truck was repaired in just about an hour, and since Starsky had done most of the work, Carlos only charged them the price of the clutch.


”Mister, you did a good job. Have a nice trip.” Carlos smiled.


”Thanks, and you have a nice town here. Bye!” Starsky waved, and both men walked across the street to their motel to freshen up and get their bags.


It was getting dark when they got into the truck. The new clutch worked, and Hutch was behind the wheel. They had to spend approximately two more days on the road to get this job done, and they were very late.


Night set in, and Hutch couldn’t hide a wide yawn. Starsky looked at him, concerned.


”Hutch, you’re tired. C’mon, let me drive.”


Hutch gave a little smile and covered his mouth to hide another yawn. Then he said,

”Starsk, I think we should wait until tomorrow to cross the border. I prefer to drive through Mexico at daytime – unknown territory, you know...And you could use some rest, too. We’re approaching San Diego, and I've seen some signs announcing several motels near the highway. Tomorrow, in the morning, we’ll get an early start and you’ll be in Mexico in no time. ”


That didn’t sound too bad to Starsky. Breathing out deeply, he said,

”It’s a deal. So let’s get a motel for us, and tomorrow we’ll be as fresh as newborns.”




“No swim in the ocean today,” Starsky sighed, when he saw that their motel was surrounded by warehouses and other industrial buildings.


“Reminds me that this is a job, nothing more,” Hutch said, and moved to the reception, ignoring Starsky’s whining.


“I’m going to bed right away; can’t wait to get to Mexico. I need a shower right now and then I don’t care about…,” Starsky mumbled and trudged forward, massaging his aching shoulder. When Hutch nudged him in the side, he shoved Hutch’s hand away.


Hutch nudged him again, and saw two women standing at the reception desk, laughing and joking with the man behind the counter.


The dark haired one clapped her hands and shouted enthusiastically, “That’s fantastic, we have to be there. What do you think, Sandy?”


The blonde one agreed and added, “I love country music!”


”I love what you love!” the other one said. Then they leaned into each other and giggled like teenagers.


Starsky rolled his eyes at that statement, but when he risked a closer look at the girls, he had to admit, they didn’t look bad at all. He put on his most winning smile, forgetting his tiredness.


“Hey ladies, would you let us in on your plans for tonight? My partner and I are looking for some diversion, I mean, getting to know the city and its nightlife.”



Hutch grabbed Starsky’s arm, trying to calm his energetic partner. But the smile on his face showed that it wasn’t such a bad idea.


The girls smiled at each other and then at the two men. ”Hi, I’m Sandy and this is my friend Debbie. Nice to meet you – who are you and where are you from?” Sandy looked from Starsky to Hutch.


”Well, I’m Dave and this is my friend Ken. We’re from Bay City and on our way to Mexico. Hello.”


They shook hands, then the dark haired Debbie said, ”You want to see something special in San Diego? Then you must go to the Old Town. Tonight there’s life music in the ”Black Horse”. We’re planning to go there. If you want to join us...”


”Of course! Let’s spend the evening together,” Starsky beamed at the girls and got a smile back from Debbie.


”Is it far from here? We have arrived in a truck and I don’t want to use it.” Hutch said.


Sandy assured him, ”We can take you in our car. What about eight o’clock? We’re waiting at the entrance of the motel.”


”Okey dokey.” Starsky dragged Hutch with him to get ready in time, waving at the girls.




Starsky checked his looks in the large mirror in the bathroom door and smiled in a pleased manner, making a few dancing steps.


“Whoa, buddy, hold your horses.” Hutch dipped him playfully. “Nobody talked about dancing, thank God. We’re going to a club where they play live country music. You’ll like it, I’m sure.”


“Okay, okay, but you never know, Hutch, maybe Debbie likes to go dancing and then...” Starsky had his own ideas of a fulfilling evening and shoved Hutch out of the room, gently giving him a pat on the back.


The girls were waiting in their car, in front of the motel, honking the horn when the two men stepped outside.


Sandy was driving. Sitting next to her, Hutch kept glancing over to her, appreciating what he saw. Her blond hair fell over her shoulders, forming light waves. From time to time, she exchanged glances with Debbie in the backseat. Hutch wondered why she did this. Maybe she felt insecure next to a stranger and wanted to be sure that her friend was nearby.


Debbie obviously had fun chatting with Starsky about what kind of music each of them liked.


”Then I was crazy about Rock’n Roll, though I loved the slow songs too.” Starsky said and exchanged a meaningful glance with Debbie, touching her arm slightly. She agreed with a nod of her head and her eyes met Sandy’s in the rearview mirror,


”Sandy loves Rock’n Roll, too?” Starsky wanted to know.


 Hutch answered for her.”There are people who love Glen Miller music, for example, right, Sandy?”


Sandy thought for a moment, then said diplomatically, "Well, tonight there’s a folk singer on stage, as far as I know – dunno about you, but I love that kind of music.”


"Me too!” Hutch agreed and Starsky could hear th excitement in Hutch’s voice. Hutch loved folk songs and he loved to sing. He had even composed some own songs. Starsky reminded himself to bring up Hutch's singing abilities when he had the chance.


They arrived at the Old Town of San Diego and found a parking lot near the ”Black Horse”. Music seeped through the open windows and Starsky took Debbie’s hand, dragging her to the entrance. He thought he felt her resist a little and look over at her friend questioningly, but when she didn’t pull her hand away, he shrugged it off. The club was situated in a little street with small shops and restaurants. People wandered around, admiring the old buildings, and laughter and music filled the street.


Hutch had put his hand around Sandy’s shoulders, and even if she didn’t lean in close to him, she didn’t seem to have anything against the cuddling, either.


They entered the ”Black Horse” and found a small round table not far from the stage. A young man with long hair had just left the bar and climbed onto the stage. He unpacked his guitar, and strummed the first chords of ”Blowing In the Wind”. Hutch almost forgot to order, the music had such an impact on him, and he wished he had his guitar with him.


“Blondie, your beer.” Starsky put a large filled glass in front of him. Hutch had never seen such a tall glass before. It was over a foot long.


The waiter explained, "You could get your beer in an even bigger glass. It reaches from the floor to the table!" He pointed to one on display behind the bar.


“Would be something for Huggy,” Starsky said, remembering at the same moment that Huggy wasn’t at all fond of them since Lionel Rigger was killed.


As if sensing his partner's distress, Hutch nodded and smiled reassuringly, saying without words, “It’s going to be all right, buddy.”


They ordered a light dinner, and learned that Debbie and Sandy worked for an advertising agency. All four of them spent some time inventing silly jingles and had a lot of fun with the little game.


”Any requests for my next song?” Al Jordan, the young musician, looked expectantly at the audience.


“Loving Arms!” Starsky heard himself say, and he blushed when everybody suddenly seemed to look at him.


“Well, would you like to sing it with me?” Al smiled, and motioned Starsky to join him on stage.


“No, I’m not that good, but my partner here is. ” Starsky grinned proudly at Hutch.


He hissed, “Starsky, don’t you dare!” But now the audience cheered, and even Debbie and Sandy acted as if they wanted to see Hutch on stage.


At last, Hutch got up to the applause of the guests. “Not without you!” he mumbled, and before Starsky knew what was happening, Hutch had pulled him up to the stage.


Suddenly they were standing in the spotlight and Al Jordan started to play the tune of the well-known song. Hutch started singing and Starsky joined in. At first, Starsky’s voice trembled because of stage fright, but with Hutch by his side, and that soft clear voice accompanying his, he forgot his insecurity.


”If I could hold you now

Just for a moment

if I could really make you mine..


Ive been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Taking any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
And lying in your loving arms again


When they ended the song and left the stage, a round of applause accompanied them. Debbie and Sandy had changed places and sat together, arms around each other.


Starsky and Hutch hesitated for a moment before they took the remaining seats willy-nilly. Starsky exchanged a questioning glance with Hutch. Why had the girls changed seats? And why were they sitting together with their arms around each oher? Was it a sign that they were already fed up with two gorgeous guys?


”What about another round of drinks?” Starsky tried to catch their attention.


”Yeah, why not?” Sandy and Debbie smiled in unison.


Hutch looked at his empty glass and said, ”Good idea, buddy” Then he concentrated on the music, tapping his foot to the music.


Starsky was still confused by the girls’ indifference to him and Hutch. Maybe he would get a chance to get closer to Debbie when they left the club.

Around midnight, Al Jordan packed his guitar and left the stage, accompanied by applause.

Sandy looked at her watch. ”Time to go home, what do you think?” She locked glances with Debbie and again Starsky had the feeling the girls weren’t interested in them at all.

They left the club, and on their way to the parking lot, Starsky drew Debbie close and said, ”Debbie, I had a great time. Maybe we could go somewhere quiet to get to know each other better?" He leaned down and tried to kiss her. She drew back and smiled at him.


“Sorry to disappoint you, Dave, this was fun but I guess we mislead you two," Debbie said kindly. "Sandy and I are together." When she saw Starsky's stunned expression, she hurriedly added, "We're a couple. but we like going out on the town with cute guys. It was fun to meet you."


"I never suspected," Starsky lied, because he had noticed the two women embracing in the club. "Sorry—I guess I'm kind of blind."


"We should have made things clear right up front," Debbie said. "Sandy and I were just in the mood for a night out."


"Ken, you have a great voice. Maybe when the two of you get back from Mexico, we could come up to Bay City—as friends? Buy you a round of beer?" Sandy asked. "I really hope to see you again some time. Enjoy your stay in San Diego."


"We have to hurry." Debbie checked her watch. "Tomorrow is another day of work for us.” She gave Sandy a 'let's-go' look and grabbed Sandy’s hand. They hurried toward their car without a backward glance.


The detectives followed and were about to get into the car with the girls, but Debbie said, ”Sorry, guys, but we can’t take you back to the motel." She looked chagrined but firm. "We live up the coast in the opposite direction. It's easy enough to grab a cab from here.”


“Hey, but we need to get back to the motel! We thought you were staying at that motel, too...” Hutch said.


Sandy replied, “Sorry, we just know Pablo at the reception desk. He’s Deb’s cousin." She snapped her fingers. "Maybe if you phone him, he can call a cab for you. We have to go east and you're going west. ” She smiled at Hutch and closed the passenger’s door.


”No offense!” She mouthed through the window when Debbie started the car.


Starsky and Hutch stared open-mouthed after the disappearing car, unable to figure out how their fun night had turned sour so quickly.


”I don’t believe it!” Starsky went ballistic. “Hutch, tell me that this isn’t happening. Did they just leave us here to walk back to our motel? I don’t even think I can remember where it was.”


“It’s no more than ten miles, I presume,” Hutch said half-jokingly. “C’mon, pal, you can rely on me. I’m sure the motel is in that direction. We can stop a cab to take us to the motel. What was its name, by the way?”


”Starlight”, Starsky mumbled, only half mollified. Gently, Hutch took Starsky’s arm and led his partner across the deserted parking lot to the main road.


”Hutch, I don’t get it. These are pretty girls, and they aren’t interested in us?” Starsky shook his head with disbelief. ”I was sure Debbie liked me; she didn’t object when I held her hand and we did some cuddling, and we had the same taste of music..”


”Yeah, I know,” Hutch smiled. ”But remember how they looked at each other. I knew something was wrong – I mean, they had only eyes for each other,” Hutch mused and went silent, lost in thought.


”Ya know how people at the precinct talk about us – being too close...” Starsky slowed his pace and looked at Hutch as if a thought had struck him. ”Blondie, you think they think we’re lovers?”


Hutch gave Starsky a side hug. ”And so? Do we care? Sandy’s in love with Debbie, and it’s fine with me though I wouldn’t have complained otherwise. And I know how you feel about me – or do you want to tell me something I should know?” Hutch stopped walking and cupped Starsky’s face with both hands, looking at his partner with a longing expression on his face as if he was about to kiss his longtime friend.


”Geeze, Hutch, you know I love you but I don’t wanna jump your bones. Get your hands offa me or we’re going to be arrested.”


”You see anyone here?” Hutch laughed. ”No people, no cabs, but at least we’ve already made a mile. C’mon, pal, I can’t wait to call it a night. Tomorrow we’ll be in Mexico...Hopefully Mr. Carter won’t be too mad at us for being this late.”


They trudged along the road. Starsky was soon complaining about how the evening had started so well and ended up such a bust. No cab came their way and the exhaustion of a long day took its toll. Once Starsky stumbled over a crack in the pavement and Hutch steadied him. To keep him walking, Hutch reminded him about the jokes they had played on Dobey the last years.


”I’ll never forget when we pinned that notice for the rookies on the board,” Hutch chuckled.


”Oh yeah, I remember. I must admit it was a great idea of yours, Blondie, to tell all freshmen, Dobey would correct and rewrite their reports. I never heard Dobey yelling that much when his office was flooded with reports to be rewritten!”


Starsky’s mood lightened. Despite their hard work on the streets, they had had so much fun together, and Hutch had been there for him whenever he had needed him. He felt Hutch’s hand on his shoulder and knew that the presence of his friend made the long walk home bearable. Starsky put his hand around Hutch’s waist, cherishing the familiar closeness of his best friend. Inhaling deeply, he said, “Don’t think a great deal of yourself, Blondie, but you’re the best I’ve come across in a long time.”


Hutch chuckled and tightened his grip on Starsky’s shoulder. And fate took a turn for the better. A cab came along, at last, and took them back to their motel. Exhausted, they stumbled to their room. Even though the girls had abandoned them, they felt contented. They had each other, and that was fine for now.


Hutch moaned when he lay down, and Starsky asked, “Your back? C’mon, I’ll give you a rub.”


Getting rid of his shirt, Hutch turned onto his stomach, and Starsky sat on the edge of the bed and positioned himself so he had good access to Hutch’s back.Long experience had taught him just where to massage to ease Hutch's back pain. Hutch’s appreciate moaning proved to Starsky how much he was helping.


When he heard soft snoring, Starsky knew he had reached his goal. He covered Hutch with a blanket and fell down on his own bed. Despite of being dog-tired and having aching legs, he fell asleep with a smile on his face.




Chapter four



“We’re late - again,” Hutch said, as he sat behind the steering wheel the next day, and checked his watch. He frowned; it was already 11am. Exhaustion had made them sleep longer than expected this morning; now they had to hurry up.


“Starsk, look at the instructions that Mr. Carter gave us. It says which border crossing he wants us to use. It isn’t the one most people take. Don’t know why...”


Starsky opened the compartment and fished the crumpled paper out with Mr. Carter’s instructions. He checked the information, then looked at the map.


”You’re right. We have to go more east. I'll read the map and tell you when we have to turn left."




They had followed the highway eastbound for about an hour, and Starsky squirmed on his seat.


“Dunno…,” he mumbled and Hutch threw a concerned glance in Starsky’s direction.


“Something’s wrong?”


“Just thinkin’. I’m not sure if we are on the right road. We should have been at the border, but all I can see is desert and dust.”


Hutch slowed the truck down and came to a halt at the roadside. Yellowish dust rose behind them in the fading sunlight and made the background invisible.


“Let’s look at the map again. You told me to turn right here,” Hutch pointed it out, and Starsky looked at him, unbelievingly.


“Does that mean I forgot to tell you in time, and we went on eastbound?” Starsky put his face in his hands and sighed. Another sigh came from the driver’s side, then a large hand settled on Starsky’s nape of the neck, reassuring him that Hutch wasn’t mad at him.


“Well, so we have to find the next border crossing. We are too late now anyway, so look here, I think it’s about an hour’s drive and we’ll be there. You wanna drive so I’m checking the map?” A little sarcasm was hidden in Hutch’s voice, and Starsky scolded himself for having been too careless regarding their re-routing.


They changed seats, and finally arrived at the border. The bored customs official let them pass without checking the freight. Soon they were on a bumpy road in Mexico, and Hutch cursed every pothole that set his back on fire. They drove for hours, passing impressive rock formations and big cacti but had no eyes for the beauty of the landscape. They had to make up for lost time. It was getting dark.


Hutch stretched behind the steering wheel. ”Where were we supposed to stay the night? Didn’t Carter give us the name of a hostel or something?” he asked.


”Wait a sec.” Starsky took the crumpled paper out of the compartment and checked it. ”Albergue d’Oro in Puebla. But I haven’t seen any signs with directions or the distance to the next town. Let me drive for a while, Blondie. Your back must be hurting.”


Hutch didn’t object. He slowed the truck down and stopped near the roadside. It was so dark, they could barely see the sides of the road.


Starsky said, “We should clean the headlights. They must be covered with dust. The road is barely visible.” Feeling every muscle complain from the rough drive, both men climbed out of the vehicle and made their way to the front. Starsky wiped his hand over the dust-covered headlights while Hutch disappeared in the bushes to take care of business.


Starsky jerked when a suppressed yelp came from out of the bushes and Hutch stumbled out, working on his zipper.


“Back into the car! They’re everywhere!” Frantically, Hutch approached the truck, his arms fighting something invisible. He climbed in, closing the passenger’s door hastily.


Starsky looked around and made his way back into the truck.


“What’s up, buddy?” Concerned, he checked on his partner who had leaned back against the headrest, breathing heavily.


“They were all over me and attacked me everywhere.” Uncomfortably, Hutch looked down to his crotch, adjusting his jeans.


Suddenly, he grabbed the map and hit it against the dashboard. “There is another one! And over there!” Starsky ducked his head not to get hit by the map. Hutch seemed to be in a kind of shock, and Starsky didn’t know what to do.


“Stop it, Hutch! It’s only mosquitoes and they’re getting more nervous the more you are thrashing around. I remember them – from ‘Nam. So be still, please.” Starsky slid nearer to Hutch and held on both arms, trying to calm his friend. Slowly Hutch quieted. He raised his arm and wiped his sweaty forehead, smiling shyly at Starsky.


“Sorry, partner. They just seemed to come from everywhere when they suddenly surrounded me with their buzzing and attacking. It reminded me of my childhood when I was stung by a wasp in the throat. Needed to be treated in the ER because I had trouble breathing. I’m an idiot, I know.”


Hutch leaned into Starsky’s shoulder, and Starsky savored the close contact. It meant so much to him, and he remembered a time at the beginning of their friendship when Hutch had acted so differently. He had been the reserved kid of a wealthy family, well educated and trained not to show his feelings.


When they were first partnered together, it had been Starsky who had occasionally given Hutch a pat on the back or touched his arm when he wanted to tell him something exceptional. Hutch had reacted in a reserved way, though Starsky had felt that the tall blond seemed to enjoy his company. He laughed more often when they connected, and told Starsky about his childhood. He had had been a lonely boy and lacked any emotional connection with his parents


“Let’s leave this place, huh?” Hutch asked, and brought Starsky back to the present.


“Sure. Maybe we find a four-star hotel round the next corner,” Starsky joked, and patted Hutch’s shoulder before he slid back into the driver's seat and started the truck.


Concentrating, they followed the road that led down into a valley. It was getting near midnight, and they hadn’t passed any places where they could stay for the rest of the night. Finally, they decided they would have to sleep in the truck.


Parked by the roadside, they munched the last, dry sandwiches and drank the now warm water from the bottle Hutch had filled that morning. Occasionally, Hutch scratched the spots where the mosquitoes had bitten him, and Starsky swatted his hand away.


“It only makes it worse, so quit it,” he admonished, smiling affectionately at the same time. He hoped that Hutch would get enough sleep in spite of the itching. He coaxed Hutch to lay down in the sleeping area of the truck; he would have more space for his long legs, and his back would appreciate the cushions.


When he knew his objections were in vain, Hutch agreed and climbed over the passenger seat backwards, cursing slightly when his long legs got tangled in the seat belt.


“Starsky, would you mind..?”


“Of course, partner.” Starsky yawned and untangled Hutch’s legs from the belt. With a sigh, Hutch settled in the back, stretching out. Starsky tried to get comfortable in the front without being poked by the steering wheel.


“You locked the doors?” Hutch asked, and Starsky nodded.


“Yeah, don’t worry, Blondie. I’m right by your side, protecting you in case the mosquitoes are planning another attack.”


“Very funny,” Hutch snorted, and Starsky heard Hutch scratching the itchy spots.


“Leave it!” Starsky said with determination.


He got a sigh as answer and a mumbled “Yes, mom. G’night.”


Starsky couldn’t fall asleep right away. Turned on his side, he looked out of the windshield into the darkness. Some stars were visible, and now and then the cry of an animal was heard. Starsky couldn’t hide a feeling of uneasiness. Instead of lying in his comfortable bed in Bay City, he found himself crouched in an old truck out in the nowhere in Mexico, not knowing exactly where they were, nor having any idea what the future may bring. He let the last few weeks pass by in his mind, to try to understand why they had thrown their badges into the sea.


What had changed? It had gotten so much harder to handle the disappointments in their job. Starsky still felt guilty that he had left Lionel on his own when saw Hutch’s old car explode. He had panicked when he lost sight of his partner because of the smoke.


At that moment, Starsky’s mind had been only on his partner and nothing could have forced him to stay with Lionel. He had rushed down the stairs, relieved when he saw that Hutch was lying on the road, moving sluggishly. At least he was alive!


To hold his partner in his arms and hear him complain about his demolished car was the most beautiful experience Starky could remember. When Lionel was shot and fell out of the window, Starsky knew he had screwed up.


Starsky winced as the ugly memories took hold of him again. After throwing their badges away – what would the future bring?


Starsky listened to the calm breathing behind him, and smiled. They had put themselves in a weird situation by accepting a job from a man they didn’t know at all. What had they gotten themselves into, promising to drive a truckload to Mexico?


As if they needed any distraction from worrying about things at home.


They would be back in Bay City early enough on Monday. Going into Metro, they would have to face Dobey with their decision. Their superior had become a friend after all these years, and Starsky couldn’t imagine a life without the grumbling, hollering man. Dobey appreciated them as his best detectives and treated them like family. They often spent their birthdays together, almost like a family.


Starsky thought of little Rosie, Dobey’s daughter, and felt sad, just imagining that he wouldn’t be able to stay in contact with the girl. Would Dobey still be on their side? He would blame them for not having done their job properly, and he was right. If Starsky hadn’t abandoned Lionel, he could be still alive.


Starsky shifted, and realized that the air had become chilly. He shivered and sat up to find some blankets. Looking around, he spotted them on the back seats. Hutch was lying half atop them. Carefully, Starsky pulled them from under him, calming Hutch with soothing words when he stirred and moaned in his sleep.


“It’s okay, I only need the blankets.” Starsky covered his friend with one, and lay back on the seats in his side of the cab, snuggled under the covers. At long last, he fell into an exhausted sleep.


Chapter five



Hutch awoke with the urgent need to relieve his bladder. He kicked the blanket away and scrambled up. Rays of sunshine flooded the truck cab and heated up the small compartment.


Starsky lay sprawled on his back, a hand over his eyes to shut out the sun. His beard-roughened cheek reminded Hutch that they needed a shave badly. But first he had to take care of business.


“Starsk?” Carefully Hutch made his way from behind the seats to the front. He couldn’t avoid colliding with Starsky’s torso, and his friend moaned, scowling.


“What’s up? Lemme sleep.”


“I need to get out, buddy. And you should wake up in good time, we have a job to do.”


Starsky only grunted, but shifted his legs so Hutch could unlock the door and get out of the truck.


There was no way that he was using the bushes on the roadside. He relieved himself right by the truck. Just as Hutch finished, a disheveled Starsky got out, grinned encouragingly and said, “Mornin,’ pal. What a night, huh? Was freezing, though, but with the blankets it was bearable.”


“Yeah, thanks.” Hutch nodded, and ran his hand along his rough cheek. He opened another bottle, and splashed some water in his face and hands. When Starsky came back from his morning routine, they checked the maps again to guess where they had landed the evening before.


“Look, over there must be the main road.” Hutch pointed at the map and went on, “and we have to go east to find it. So it’s my turn to drive and yours to check the map. This time we shouldn’t miss the main road to Santa Rosa. We’re late, and if we don’t arrive this evening Mr. Carter will refuse to pay us the rest.”


“So let’s hit the road,” Starsky said, not too enthusiastically, and got into the truck on the passenger’s side. They followed the bumpy road through the desert-like landscape. The sun got hotter with every mile and both men sweated profusely. When they finally reached the main road, they stopped at a little lodge to refresh themselves and get something to eat and drink. They bought some bottles of water, and Hutch urged them to continue their trip.


They were about to get into the cab when a female voice made them stop.


“Hi guys, would you mind taking me to Santa Rosa? I overheard your conversation, and I know you are driving that way. My aunt lives there and I’d like to surprise her with a visit. Would you guys give me a lift?”

Artwork by Nicol Tyler

Dark expressive eyes looked at them, and a beautiful smile lit the young woman’s face. Starsky locked glances with Hutch, and saw the indecision there. A whispered conversation started between them.


”Hutch, there isn’t any risk to take this lady with us, is it?


”At least she can’t drive away and leave us back – we’re behind the wheel. But let’s ask her some questions first.”


”You’re right, Blondie. You start.”


“My mom always told me to be cautious with strangers.” Hutch hid a smile and cleared his throat, looking intensely at the woman.. ”Who are you, where are you from and how come that you are staying at this Godforsaken place?”


The dark haired woman hesitated a moment before she answered,


”Well, a guy gave me a lift and I hoped he would take me to Santa Rosa. He got thirsty and decided to drown his sorrow or whatever in the cantina here. So if you guys have mercy, please could you take me to my aunt. Next week is her birthday and I can’t wait to see her again.”


Starsky had noticed her accent and asked, ”So you are Mexican? I’m Dave Starsky and that’s my partner Ken Hutchinson. You are...?”


”Juanita Gonzales, art student in Baja. Nice to meet you. Where are you from?”


”We’re Americans, from Bay City,” Hutch said, reaching out to shake hands with her. ”Okay, get in.” Hutch motioned her to climb into the truck. He offered to hold her backpack, but she held fast and smiled.


“Thanks, no problem.” On tip-toe, she took the two steep steps and sat down in the middle of the bench seat. Her pony-tail bobbed in the sunlight, and her friendly smile made Starsky and Hutch smile in return. It was going to be a pleasant trip to Santa Rosa.


Starsky accelerated the truck, and soon they were on the road again, raising dust behind them.


Juanita looked the inside of the truck over. "Americans have such nice trucks, no chickens riding along!"


"No chickens," Starsky agreed. "You speak English very well."


"Living around here, I see more Americans than Mexicans." She rummaged in her backpack and put a sketch block on her lap. She started drawing as they drove along. "Excuse me for being curious, but what brings you down this way?"


Starsky locked glances with Hutch, and both decided not to tell Juanita that they were cops who had just decided to change profession.


“Well, we’re taking some equipment to Santa Rosa, nothing particular,” Hutch smiled at her.


Starsky added, “We’re truck drivers. Hutch does some art, too. Would you show me what you’re drawing?”


He leaned over and caught a glimpse of a sketch that showed the rocky surroundings and the road ahead of them. “Hutch, have you seen? That’s really good!”


Hutch looked at the drawing and gave an impressive whistle. ”Wow, I wish I could draw like you. Well done!”


Juanita smiled.


They reached the main road, and soon they saw a big lodge on the right side.

Starsky raised his hand and started waving. ”Hey, the people are really friendly here in Mexico. Look, there’re some folks in front of the building waving at us. They seem to be overjoyed to see us!”


Hutch looked outside and saw some men gesturing excitedly in their direction. Then he saw the name of the lodge in big letters on the roof, “Albergue d’Oro”.


“Starsk, that’s the place Carter wanted us to stay the last night. Anyway, we’re late and have to go to Santa Rosa without delay. I’ll tell them that we can’t stay.” Hutch lowered the window and shouted, “Thanks for the nice welcome, but we are on our way to Santa Rosa. See you next time. Hasta luego!” They left the village and followed the winding road.


Juanita watched the interaction in front of the house attentively and leaned back against the headrest, looking thoughtful. After a while she turned to Starsky and asked, “You are really funny guys. Why are you in such a hurry to get to Santa Rosa? Which company are you working for?”


Starsky was too occupied with handling the winding road to answer her, and Hutch was checking the map.


“What a beautiful view!” Juanita called out, changing the subject, and pointed out of the left window. It was indeed a remarkable sight. They had reached the peak of a rocky plateau and the view over the lowlands was breathtaking.


“I could use a short break, what about you?” Starsky gasped, and wiped the sweat off his forehead. His hands trembled slightly because of the tiresome drive.


“Okay, but let’s keep that really short. I can go on driving,” Hutch said and showed Starsky a convenient place to stop the truck. When they got out, the merciless sun made them all breathless.


“Let’s stay in the shadow,” Hutch proposed and he watched Starsky with concern. The dark haired man looked beat. He swayed lightly and crouched next to the side of the truck where the sun couldn’t reach him. Juanita joined him, her sketch-pad in her hand and her backpack tucked by her side. She looked at both men and opened her backpack again.


”You want some water?” She held out a flask, and both accepted the drink gratefully. “You are Dave, aren’t you? Let me draw you. You have a beautiful face,” she said to Starsky.


He looked surprised, then a big smile lit his face. ”Ya hear that, Hutch?”


Hutch made a noise that sounded like a choked laugh, and Starsky looked up at the blond and said, “You're green with envy, aren't you?”


Hutch let himself fall next to his friend, laughing openly now.


“Sure, I am. Hope you still put up with me, as I can’t compete with your beauty.”


“You got it,” Starsky said, ruffling Hutch’s hair, and Hutch smiled.


“You said you’re truck drivers. How long have you been doing this job? Is the pay good?” Juanita kept talking eagerly as she sketched.


Except for Hutch’s mumbled ”Hope so,” both men stayed quiet. The heat was taking its toll.


Starsky was the first one to give in to his tiredness. He decided to close his eyes, only for a short moment. Feeling Hutch’s presence, Starsky leaned into the familiar touch and relaxed.


Hutch leaned against his friend and admired the nearby rocks that formed bizarre formations. The view would make a nice picture.


He looked over to Juanita, who was busy with her sketch. She was an impressive young woman and Hutch could see a determined expression on her face as she was observing the surrounding. Maybe she had decided to draw him, too? He could compete with Starsky’s look, couldn’t he? He checked his watch and knew they didn’t have the time to rest, but he felt incredibly sleepy. He had to stay awake though...He concentrated on Juanita and her moving hand on the paper.



Chapter six



Engine noise filled Starsky’s ears. Shocked, he realized that he must have nodded off. He couldn’t believe his eyes: Their truck was moving!


“The truck! Hutch, someone’s stealing it!” Starsky moved to get on his feet, and lost his hold on Hutch in the process. All his tiredness had gone. He hurried to catch up with the truck.


Through clouds of dust, he made his way to the driver’s side, waving his arms to get the driver's attendion. He caught a glimpse of an old Ford Sedan parked at the roadside. The thieves must have driven up and ditched their own wheels in exchange for something larger.


And where was Juanita? Did she take the truck? In the next second, Starsky tore the car door open. The handle was so hot from the sun, it almost burned his hand. He had only one thought: to prevent their truck from being stolen.


”Juanita, what the hell...?” Open-mouthed, Starsky saw a dark haired man sitting behind the steering wheel trying frantically to accelerate the vehicle. ”Hey, don’t you dare take our truck!” Starsky jerked the door open and grabbed at the man to pull him out of the cab.


The heavy man resisted, screaming, “Estais locos? No sabeis que va a estallar en ese calor?”


”Speak clearly or shut up!” Starsky screamed, losing his patience. Yanking the man’s sleeve, Starsky saw that there was a second goon on the passenger’s seat looking terrified.


”Hutch! I need you here!” Starsky yelled.


At this moment the passenger’s door was yanked open and Hutch entered the cab, hauling the other goon off the seat.


“Out of the car!” Hutch hissed, and fought the man who tried to keep on his seat. Getting kicked, with an elbow against his temple, Hutch lost his balance and fell back. Pulling the screaming man with him, both men landed roughly on the road, gasping for air.


The truck didn’t stop, but kept rolling down the plateau with Starsky and the driver wrestling on the driver’s side.


“It’s going to explode!” The man buried under Hutch’s weight cried. Hutch looked at him, not understanding, and the man shouted in desperation , “It’s too hot for the freight – you’ve been too late!”


Hutch knew he had no time to ask questions right now. Instinctively, he yelled,

“Starsky! Get out of the truck, damnit!”


As if he had heard his partner’s warning, Starsky managed to drag the driver out of the truck door and they fell out, hitting the dusty road with a thud.


The truck rolled driverless along the road and gained speed on the steep incline.


“No!” Hutch shouted, feeling sick when the truck didn’t follow the next bend and went straight in direction to a rock wall. Helpless, Hutch watched the big truck hit the wall.


There was a deafening sound, and the truck exploded in a big fireball.


Shocked, the men on the ground watched the explosion. The scorching heat of the fire was intense. Before they could think about what to do next, they heard an authoritative voice behind them.


“Don’t move! You are all arrested. Mexican State Police, Commandante Gonzalez.”


Juanita stood there, legs lightly spread, a gun in her hand. Her smile had gone. Instead, she motioned them to get up. ”Faces to the rocks!” She demanded. Something in her hand glistened in the sun and, in an experienced movement, she handcuffed the truck thieves to each other. Then she ordered, ”Lie on you stomach, your head down!”


”What’s going on here?” Hutch demanded, anger boiling up inside.


Juanita kept a straight face and repeated, ”I said: Faces to the wall! Don't make any wrong moves!” And you know exactly what’s going on here, mister. Don’t pretend you don't know what that truck was carrying. After many long months of investigation, we’ve finally caught you.”


“I don’t get it,” Starsky said, rubbing his sore arm. He searched Hutch’s glance, communicating in silence. Then they said in unison, ”We’re police officers from the BCPD!”


An amused smile crept over Juanita’s face. "If you are from the police, I’m the Incan Queen. And now let me do my job."


From the corner of his eye, Hutch saw that she was rummaging for something in her backpack. Another pair of handcuffs blinked in the late sunlight.


When she took Starsky’s wrist, he bristled and said, ”No way you're cuffing me! You must be crazy thinking we have anything to do with these people.” He pointed to the man he had hauled off the truck.


You must be crazy thinking I believe you!” Juanita said to Starsky curtly.


”Gringos!” the man on the ground hissed and cursed.


Hutch reacted instantly. ”Callate!”


The Mexican went quiet, impressed by the blond’s boldness.


“Stop talking!” ordered Juanita.


”Juanita, please believe us," Starsky insisted. "We’re cops. We can help you to arrest these men.”


”Even if that’s true - you have absolutely no authority in Mexico,” Juanita said.

At the next moment Starsky felt the cuffs tighten around his wrist.


She hesitated. ”Show me your badges!”


”Shit!” Starsky’s shoulders sagged and Hutch sighed, knowing it would be useless trying to explain where their badges were right now.


Juanita was about to cuff him to Starsky when she sensed a movement behind her and a weapon was pressed against her back.


A man’s voice said, “Not so fast, lady. The damage is already done. I trusted these gringos, and they screwed up. Gun down and don’t move!”


Surrendering, Juanita dropped her gun and stood motionless.


“Carter!” Starsky recognized the voice and turned around to face the man who had given them the job.


”You’ll be the first ones I take care of,” Carter said with venom in his voice. ”I gave you this job and trusted you to take the load to Santa Rosa as soon as possible. And what did you do? Caused one delay after the other. Luckily we could follow you after you passed the motel. Then you screwed up again by stopping my men.”


He looked at the burning wreck, then he raised his weapon against Hutch. Fearing the worst, Starsky moved in front of his friend and felt Carter’s heavy weapon hit the back of his head. Starsky sank to his knees, almost unconscious.


”You sonofabitch!” Hutch yelled and ducked. Seeing his friend hurt forced him to make a fast decision. He grabbed a handful of sand and threw it in Carter’s face.


Carter howled, disoriented for a moment. Hutch got to his feet and grabbed for Carter’s gun. It was a short fight and with little effort Hutch was able to disarm him.


Hutch handed the gun to Juanita. She shoved Carter in the sand. The man cried out in pain when more sand got in his eyes. He cursed when she forced him to move his hands behind his back.


”I have to look after my partner,” Hutch said to Juanita. She nodded and crouched next to Starsky to uncuff him. Then she got up and moved toward Carter to cuff him.


Hutch sat down next to his friend. "Buddy, how are you?" Hutch lifted Starsky’s head to put it in his lap. Worried, Hutch stroked Starsky’s cheek and was rewarded when two blue eyes opened and slowly focused on him. ”Ah buddy. C’mon, open your eyes.”


”Hu-ch...what happened?” Starsky clung to Hutch’s sleeve, catching sight of the still burning truck.


“The equipment – it’s all gone?” He whispered and tried to get up, moaning when his head reminded him of Carter’s blow..


”Not only the equipment. Something highly explosive must have been in the truck,” Hutch suspected.


Starsky got agitated, ”Can’t be true. We checked the load. Hutch, what’s going to happen to us? We acted in good faith when we accepted the job. My head hurts like hell.”


”Hey, how could you move in front of me to take the blow, buddy?” Hutch sighed. He examined his friend for visible injuries, but despite of bruised skin, the blow to his head had been the worst. Starsky might have a concussion. He shouldn’t fall asleep, so Hutch decided to made Starsky talk to him.


”Equipment for an oil company would have never caused that kind of explosion,” Hutch thought out loud. Starsky tried to sit up, but Hutch held him down. ”Don’t move too fast, pal. Yeah, I think we are in trouble. Juanita thinks we belong to the gang with Carter – and we can’t prove that we are cops.”


”IDs?” Starsky mumbled.


Hutch felt for his back pocket. ”You’re right. At least we have driver's licenses to identify ourselves.” Hutch looked over to Juanita who had taken something out of her backpack. It seemed as if she was talking to someone. Obviously she was using a radio set to call for back-up.


She approached them again, checking first on the cuffed goons who were lying on the ground and swearing at each other.


”You’re wasting your breath. Wait till you’re questioned at the police headquarters. The same goes for you,” she said to Starsky and Hutch. Then she shook her head lightly and added, ”I don’t know what to think of you. I should have you in custody by now. Instead you helped me. You claim to be American cops, but you can’t show me your badges. Who are you really? And why were you driving the truck, full of nitroglycerin, if you haven’t anything to do with Carter’s company?”


”Nitroglycerin?” Hutch was stunned. ” We checked the load very carefully when we accepted the job. The truck was full of equipment for an oil company, as it said in the manifest.I can’t believe we were carrying high explosive material.” Hutch shuddered.


”No sabemos nada. Queremos hablar con nuestro abogado!” One of the goons whined.


Juanita kept them in check with her pistol and said, ”You’ll be in need of a good lawyer!” And turning to Starsky and Hutch, she said, ”My colleagues will be here soon to get you to Santa Rosa. You’ll be arrested and questioned about bringing explosives into Mexico.”


Starsky wiped his sweaty forehead and bent his head, looking miserable.


"How’re you feeling?” Hutch asked and reached out to examine Starsky’s scalp.


Starsky flinched and batted Hutch’s hand away.


”Don’t touch. I’m going to be all right. I only want to know where the nitroglycerin was hidden. - Ouch! That hurts!”


Hutch had found a lump on the back of Starsky’s head. But there was no blood. ”You have a mild concussion, I think. Don’t get too agitated though. We’ll be allowed to make a phone call. I’m sure Dobey...”


Terrified, Starsky looked up. ”Not Dobey! He’ll grill us for having acted so stupidly. Nitroglycerin! I only saw equipment for an oil company. When Carter hired us in that bar - shortly after he gave us the job, two other men came in and wanted to drive the truck. Do you think they were some other goons who knew about the explosive stuff?”


Juanita butted in.”Oh, those were our men. We suspected Carter’s company for a long time to deal with high explosives, but could never get hold of him and his henchmen. We had a little success by arresting two other drivers of Carter’s company. But they didn’t know anything. We tried to fill in for them with two of our own men, but were too late.You had the job already.”


”Shit!” Starsky hissed, imagining already a life behind Mexican bars.




Three hours later, Starsky and Hutch sat in Juanita's cramped little office and Hutch was finally able to get a call through to BCPD.


”Capt’n, Hutchinson speaking. Starsky and I, we’re arrested in Santa Rosa. We took a job to carry equipment to Mexico for an oil compamy. But everything blew up because there was Nitroglycerin hidden in our truck. Now we’re – ”


”WHERE are you? – WHAT did you do?” Dobey yelled prompting Hutch to hold the receiver away from his ear.


”Right now we’re at the Mexican police headquarters in Santa Rosa. They allowed us to make one phone call. Please help us to get out of here. We told them we are police officers but they don’t believe us and -


”Damnit! Then show them your badges!” Dobey hollered at the other end of the line.


Starsky slumped down on his wooden chair rubbing his aching temples.


”Capt’n, that’s another story. - We helped the Mexican commandante to overpower the head of the gang. In the process Starsky got hurt. I think he needs a doctor soon. And about our badges...um.”


”What about Starsky? How is he?” Dobey lost the angry tone; he almost sounded worried. Hutch mouthed to Starsky if he wanted to talk to the Captain, but Starsky shook his head, gesturing to Hutch he should continue.


”Well, I think he has a mild concussion and needs to lie down for a while.”


”Hutchinson, first you identify yourself by showing them your badges, then I want to talk to the commandante. We’ll have a talk later about two of my best detectives moonlighting instead of being here in Bay City where they are needed. What the hell got into you to go to Mexico?” Dobey was getting louder again.


”We wanted to get away for some time, and our badges are somewhere in the ocean,” Hutch admitted.


”What was that?” Dobey asked as if he planned to come right away through the phone connection.


”Capt’n, we don’t have our badges. I can explain everything,” Hutch repeated when Juanita stepped to the phone and took the receiver from Hutch.


”Captain Dobey? Commandante Gonzales speaking. We have two men here who claim to be two police offers from Bay City. They were caught smuggling Nitroglycerin to Mexico. I needn’t tell you that it is illegal and we had to arrest them. I must admit that they helped me to get the head of the gang arrested.”


Juanita paused and nodded. ”Yes, Captain Dobey, I understand. But so far they could only identify themselves as Ken Hutchinson and David Michael Starsky. They don’t have any badges and can’t proof that they are detectives of the BCPD." She glanced over at her prisoners. "They’re two of your best detectives, hardheaded and successful? In this case though, I'd say more lightheaded.”


She wrote down the information he gave her on the arrest report. "Si, I have to talk it over with my superior. I call you back and inform you about the further treatment of your men.” Juanita put down the receiver and looked at Starsky and Hutch, sitting next to each other at the table. They didn't look like successful detectives at all.


”I’ll have a word with my superior and I’m sending for a doctor to examine senor Starsky’s head. In the meantime, you can get some rest here.”


She pointed to a little room with a cot in it. Hutch got up and helped Starsky to his feet.


”C’mon, lie down for a while and you’re going to feel better.” They made it to the bed and Starsky sank on the mattress, closing his eyes. Hutch sat on the edge of the small cot, putting his hand on Starsky’s leg in a soothing gesture.


”You’ll see, everything’s going to be all right,” Hutch said, but he didn’t feel very confident.


”Dobey...he’s frantic, isn’t he?” Starsky struggled to sit up but Hutch held him down.


”Sure, you know him, but when I told him about you being hurt he sounded worried. Let’s hope that Dobey bails us out. I’ve heard alarming things from Mexican jails,” Hutch mused when the door opened to their room and Juanite stepped in, accompanied by an older man.


”Here’s Doctor Romero. Doctor, the man on the cot has been hurt and he has a bad headache. Can you have a look at him?”


Starsky flinched when the doctor probed his head and checked his pupils. Instinctively, he groped for Hutch’s sleeve.


”Nothing serious, but you should get some rest and not fall asleep the next hours.” The doctor nodded and left the room.


Starsky released Hutch’s shirt and sat up, ”Juanita, what’s gonna happen to us? We’re sorry about all this--what a mess. We didn't know what we had in the truck. I can’t imagine where the Nitroglycerin could have been hidden! We sure acted carelessly in accepting that job, but ya know, we had some problems with a case in Bay City and needed some time off.” Listening to his own explanation, Starsky knew that it was a lame excuse.


”Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” Juanita said sarcastically. ”Fact is, you carried a forbidden load to Mexico, and even if I believe you that you had no idea of what was hidden in your truck, it needs a full investigation.”


Starsky felt Hutch’s hand on his shoulder; his heart started racing. What had Hutch said about Mexican jails?


"I talked with my boss and he has just phoned Captain Dobey again. They made an agreement: You’ll be deported immediately and we’ll get administrative assistance from the BCPD to bust the rest of the criminals who dealt with the Nitroglycerin. It seems that an organisation is operating from the Bay City area, and we have waited for a long time to get hold of this syndicate.”


”Let me guess: they’re smuggling the stuff to make some guerrilleras happy in South America,” Hutch said. ” Starsky, you remember that workshop last year where they told us about transports to South America with illegal loads. We weren’t involved in the investigation then."


”Yes. Guerrilleras in South America will pay big money for weapons and explosives,” Juanita explained.


”Do you have an idea where the explosive material was hidden in the truck?” Starsky asked.


”Yes, Mr. Starsky, I just got the information that our bomb squad have examined the rest of the truck. They discovered that the explosive material was hidden in a double bottom. It couldn’t be seen at all. But our specialists noticed that the floor was creaking, and they checked on it.”


Hutch patted his forehead. ”When I checked the load and there was that creak on the floor before I jumped out of the truck. I wondered about the strange noise, but I never thought that there could be a double bottom.”


”I heard that creak too, and I had no doubts either,” Starsky said, shaking his head. He winced immediately when he was reminded of his headache.


Hutch looked pensive. ”Now the scales fall from my eyes. First I had no idea why they would steal the truck when we took the break. It’s because Nitroglycerin is very sensitive in the heat and should not be jolted around. We were driving for hours, the truck overheating. And those bumpy roads...They were afraid the load wouldn’t last until Santa Rosa.”


”It didn’t make it to Santa Rosa,” Juanita pointed out, preparing some release papers. ”You sign here. An officer will take you to the border right away and from there you will be taken to Bay City Police Headquarters. There you’ll be questioned by the authorities”


Starsky grabbed Hutch’s arm. ”Help me up, partner.” Supported by Hutch, he stood on wobbly legs. He felt dizzy and really wanted to lie down again – but far away from Mexico. He forced a smile on his face when Juanita held out her hand, and both detectives said goodbye to her


She held something behind her back, looking a bit self-conscious. “This is for you.” She handed them an envelope.


Hutch blinked surprised. ”What’s that? You got something for us? May we open it now?”


“Of course, Blondie!” Starsky snagged the envelope out of Hutch’s hand and opened the flap.


“Wow, that’s great! Look, Hutch! What a drawing! Thank you, Juanita!”


Juanita had captured the moment when Starsky and Hutch were settled against the truck, getting some rest in the shadows.

Artwork by Nicol Tyler


“Yeah, you’re talented,” Hutch stated, ”And you see, Starsk, I’m the brain of this team, you can see it. How Juanita has drawn my face, that intelligence...”


”Shut up! And let’s get outta here!” Starsky interrupted and gave Juanita a farewell smile.


Shortly afterwards, they sat in a Mexican police car on their way to the border. Both men were lost in their thoughts.


Starsky said,”Hutch, I’m glad we’ve come this far without landing in jail. I can't believe what could have happened to us. Think of the explosion! If we had been in the truck...”


”Yeah, in the end we were very lucky. One of the goons yelled at me that everything would explode, it would be too late. First I didn’t get it, but..”


”...Then I heard you calling me and somehow got the message – get out of the truck as soon as possible.” Starsky leaned his head against the headrest. Feeling the familiar presence of his partner next to him, he relaxed. ”Me and thee,” he mumbled closing his eyes.


”Don’t fall asleep – how’s your head, by the way?”


”Better. Can’t wait to sleep in my own bed.”


Hutch looked over to Starsky and saw that his friend was dozing off again.


”Buddy, have you thought about what we’re going to tell Dobey about our badges? And why we want to quit being detectives?”


Starsky’s eyes popped open. He straightened and an alert expression crossed his face. ”Hutch, do you really think we should quit? I mean, I screwed up and Lionel would still be alive if I hadn’t ...”


”..Taken care of me, pal. I know,” Hutch said, putting his hand on Starsky’s arm


”On the other side we love being cops, don’t we?” Starsky nudged Hutch in the side, and a mischievous smile appeared on his face. ”And I don’t see us driving trucks in the future. Too dangerous.”


Hutch gave a smile back and said softly, ”So you’re up to talking with Dobey? Explain to him how stupid we were by taking a job without knowing who Carter was and not checking the load carefully enough?”


”But you checked on the load, Hutch – everything seemed to be all right. Dobey will give us a piece of his mind and then he’ll forgive us – as always.” Starsky tried to cheer himself up.


”Let’s hope so, for goodness sake!” Hutch looked out of the window and saw the lights of the border.


"Senores, we’re at the border." The driver turned around and regarded them over the back of the seat. "I make sure that you pass all formalities. You have to sign your deportation and then I was told that you get a ride home. Adios!”


Both men scrambled out of the car. After showing their IDs and signing some more papers, Starsky and Hutch were led through the border and found themselves on American territory again


”Finally home,” Starsky mumbled, looking around.


“Hutch, weren’t we supposed to be picked up from here? I can’t see any black and white… Shit.” He frowned when his gaze fell on a large sedan in the dark that looked quite familiar.


“Oh no, not him.” Starsky blanched when he saw the lanky frame of Huggy get out of the car and approach them. His purple shirt and black leather pants shone brightly even at night. Uncomfortably, Starsky wished he could sink into the ground. Huggy would never forgive him for leaving Lionel alone in that hotel room. It had been his fault that…


“M’men, where have you been? I heard on the street about a big explosion in Mexico, and there were rumors of you being involved…” Huggy’s voice sounded worried, and he tugged on Starsky’s sleeve as if he needed to be assured that they were still alive.


“Indeed, Hug, we were there, but everything turned out to be okay, - more or less,” Hutch said, and Huggy gave a sigh of relief.


“So let’s hurry home; I told my waitress Anita to stay awake and make us a late dinner – but I suppose it’s gonna be an early breakfast!”


Starsky looked at his wrist to check the time. “Hutch, my watch is gone! We have to go back. I must have lost it somewhere!”


“No way!” Hutch said curtly.


Huggy got into the car, motioning the two men to follow him. “Let’s hurry. Dobey told me he wants to talk to you in the morning.”


Starsky climbed into the back of the car and gave Hutch a questioning look. Huggy hadn’t been unfriendly to them when he picked them up. Was Huggy still angry at them? He seemed to be acting the same as usual.


Starsky decided to test the waters. He leaned forward and put his hand on the backrest of the driver seat. “Hug, can’t tell you how sorry I am. Ya know, I never wanted Lionel to get killed.”


“Forget it, you had me worried enough the last days. Good to have you back.” Huggy exchanged glances with Starsky in the rearview mirror.


“And thanks for picking us up.” Hutch changed the topic.


“What are friends for,” Huggy said, looking straight ahead on the road to hide the moisture in his eyes.


Starsky relaxed against the back seat, closing his eyes. He listened to Hutch’s report about their adventure as truck drivers. Now and then, Huggy’s typical remarks and laughter filled the car. Knowing that he was still loved and protected, Starsky surrendered to sleep feeling confident about what lay ahead.


The end