Well, here is what you have been waiting for, the last chapter. I enjoyed all of your comments, very helpful corrections (Goph) and insightful reviews.
Many thanks to the Reviewers, you guys give me ideas... Black Crystall Draygon, the first several paragraphs of this last chapter were an idea that I got from you. I hope you enjoy it. ;-)
As always, Thanks to Bill B., Kelli C. and Joyce B. without you guys, there would be a lot more typos and other errors!
Special thanks to Wuemsel for the German words in this chapter. I hope I used them correctly. ;-)
"Repay kindness with kindness and evil with justice" ConfuciusCG Ch 10 The End
Hutch was dead. He hadn't lasted through the night. Kate was dead. Hutch was dead. And it was all his fault. Hutch had died in his arms, convulsing until he had stopped. Stopped moving, stopped breathing and finally his heart stopped, ever so slowly coming to a shuddering halt, only to beat a few more times, then stop. Start, beat... beat... until it beat no more.
As Starsky watched helplessly, Hutch's eyes had fixed and dilated, the lids remained open. The light behind those baby blues faded and was gone. And it was all because of him. He had failed.
Starsky gently closed the lids, even though he knew that they would open again due to some death process that he couldn't remember the name of. He held onto his friend until rigormortis set in, the awful truth fully sinking in then. Hutch was really dead.
"NOOOOO!" Starsky flung himself to the floor.
"No!" Starsky buried his head in his worthless arms. What good were they? Sure, they were strong, but not strong enough to keep his friend from death.
"STARSKY!" Dobey grabbed a hold of his frantic and bereaved detective, trying to get him off the floor.
"Let me be!" He punched Dobey, sobbing "Where you? We waited for you, now you're here and Hutch is gone, it's too late!
"David Michael Starsky, Stop it!" Dobey grabbed the sobbing man by his upper arms and shook him hard.
"Get-away-from-me! He's gone, he's gone... gone..." Starsky suddenly remembered Dobey had a gun. He easily broke the hold Dobey had on him and dug around his captain's waist searching for the gun, the way to follow Hutch.
"Stop that! I'm ticklish, gees; don't I even get flowers before you grope me?" Dobey laughed.
"Huh?" Starsky stopped.
"Whoa, you really need to do something about your breath! Whew! What have you been eating? Because, my God, your breath is foul"
"Wake up Gordo! You're having a nightmare" Dobey's face dissolved and Hutch's appeared in its place.
Starsky blinked stupidly for a moment, still stuck in the dream, then it dawned on him Hutch wasn't dead, he was right there in front of him "HUTCH! I thought I'd lost you..." He tightened his grip around his friend's waist, buried his head in the blond's chest and wept.
"Shh, s'okay, I'm here, I'm here" Hutch held onto his best friend, tears brimming in his own eyes "I'm right here, babe, and 'm not goin' anywhere..." He stroked the heaving shoulders and continued to soothe the dark haired man "s'okay buddy, shush, I'm here"
"Sorry Hutch, I..." Starsky wiped his brimming eyes and remembered punching Dobey in the dream; he hadn't actually punched Hutch... had he? "You okay? I didn't hurt ya, did I?"
Starsky had fallen asleep next to him on the tiny bunk sometime during the night and had woken Hutch with his terrified screams and struggles. Hutch now had a new bruise to go with the others, but he would never tell Starsky about it. Poor Starsk was feeling bad enough as it was.
"Nah, shh, s'alright Starsk, I think there's still time to get more sleep, if you want..."
"No! I don't think I could sleep anymore tonigh..." zzzzzz
Hutch continued to rub the brunet's back and shoulders gently, he wasn't the least bit surprised as he felt Starsky slip off again. His friend was nearly as exhausted as he was. "Sweet dreams this time buddy, please?" Hutch gingerly rubbed the newest sore spot on his ribs and allowed himself to follow his friend into sleep.
Roy was in fine spirits. He had a new plan. Starsky had taken Hutchinson away from him and had forced him to change his plans. Well, today he had some plans for Mr. Starsky as well as Mr. Hutchinson.
The incident on Monday with his three inmate 'friends' was just the beginning. Today just might be the last day of their lives, if things went the way they should. He smiled and it was all he could do not to burst out laughing.
He spotted Randal as he entered through the door and headed towards the guards' lounge and moved to intercept him. "Hey, hey! Randal, what you got there?"
"It's doughnuts, my turn to buy today" Randal smiled at his friend. Roy had been very pleased with him yesterday and seemed to be in good spirits today as well.
"Hey, can I have one?"
"Sure, that's why I bought 'em" He grinned at Roy.
"There's a fresh pot of coffee brewing, could you get me a cup?"
"Well sure, don't eat all the doughnuts!" He shook a finger at Roy.
Roy smiled back "Wouldn't dream of it" He took the box from Randal. He removed two from the box, his favorite kind and Randal's then randomly picked a few others and put a little something extra on them. He smirked to himself and mentally rubbed his hands together in glee. His plan was in motion.
Starsky had finished dressing and Hutch was washing up at the tiny sink when Roy arrived. He said nothing, merely stood there with his arms crossed over his chest, smirking at the pair.
They exchanged a few looks and could almost swear that they could hear Roy grinding his teeth in frustration as they did so. He seemed to loathe it when they did that. They did it anyway.
The door banged open and Will stormed in. "Roy, there's been a change in plans. Three guys had to go home, stomach flu or something. Puking all over the place... You and Randal have been re-assigned to road crew detail. Shackle these inmates and get 'em to the bus"
"But-" Roy whined.
"No buts, Roy! I don't have time for this shit today! Get a move on! NOW!" Will stormed back out, almost running over Randal who was coming in through the seclusion block door.
"Outta my way!" Will shoved past Randal "Get them to the bus ASAP!" he shouted over his shoulder as he exited the seclusion block. "Wish to hell I could get a day off!" He hollered as he stomped down the empty hallway.
Roy turned back to the pair with a sly grin spreading over his face.
They exchanged a worried look and they both felt sick to their stomachs as dread wormed its way through their bellies. It was always bad news when Roy smiled.
Roy looked innocently at Randal "Gees, someone's got their underwear in a bunch today" he pointed after Will.
"Yeah, he's really on the warpath" Randal chuckled.
Roy nodded and returned his attention to the inmates "Turn around you two and back up to the cell bars, you know the routine"
They complied. What else could they do?
8:05 a.m. Las Vegas Police Department.
Dobey made his now daily call to Hanna Starsky. He knew he was calling early but he wanted to make sure he reached her. Not that it made any difference. What he had to tell her hadn't changed in days. No news. And every time he said that, she always gave the same reply "Thank God"
It had taken him a couple of days to figure out what she meant by that. He realized that she was waiting for him to say they had been found and were dead, but when he told her 'no news' it meant, for her, that there was still hope. He wished he had that luxury. Hope was growing dimmer everyday. He prayed today would be different. But deep down he feared it would not.
Hutch's family was a different matter. He had contacted them after finding out that his detectives were missing. Dobey was coldly informed that unless he had found their son, they did not wish to be given a progress report.
He shook his head sadly and sighed. He then went back to the pile of leads that covered his borrowed desk and shuffled through them for the hundredth time, maybe he had missed something.
12:36 p.m. downtown Las Vegas
Gabe stopped in front of the electronics store to watch the news on the TVs displayed there. He normally never watched the news, it was too depressing, but today was different. People jostled him as they hurried about their daily lives and their busy routines. He simply smiled at them and moved back into position in front of the picture window of the store, unperturbed.
Then he saw him, on the screen, a helper. Gabe listened intently as the helper explained that two police detectives were missing and asked anyone with any information to please contact the Las Vegas or Bay City police departments. Two photographs were flashed onto the screen and the names of the missing Bay City detectives were under the photos.
Gabe reached into his grubby shirt pocket and pulled out the credit card that the demon in human form had given him over a week ago. He looked at the name on the card and matched it with the dark haired detective. Gabe nodded to himself, now he understood and he began to walk to the police station.
He knew the way. He had been there many times before to explain that there were demons on the loose. They looked like humans and most of the time, acted like humans but they were demons and Gabe was never fooled. The police were usually kind but he knew they never listened to him, they thought he was crazy. Still, he had to try and he would try again today.
He had been petrified when the demon had come up to him and put the plastic card in his pocket. He had pretended to be sleeping during the whole incident. When the demon departed, Gabe had cautiously followed him and watched him get into a white van and drive away. He read the sign on the side of the van 'Arizona Corrections Department' or was it 'Arizona Department of Corrections'? He shrugged; it was one of those two.
He squared his shoulders before entering the police station. Sometimes they turned him away before he even got to the front door. He took a deep breath and walked in. He heard the helper before he even saw him.
The big black man had an air of command about him and the other police officers gave him a wide berth. He shouted and hollered; people moved quickly when he did so. Gabe smiled. He wasn't afraid. He walked directly to the man and introduced himself and handed the big man the credit card.
The big man put an arm around Gabe's shoulders and escorted him to an interview room, shouting for food and anything else Gabe wanted. Gabe smiled, he already had gotten what he wanted; he had gotten someone to listen to him.
1:42 p.m. Las Vegas airport
Dobey was following a lead from a mentally disturbed man. A man who had Starsky's credit card and a story to tell; Dobey mopped his brow. He could feel a headache coming on. The Vegas police told him not to listen to Gabe. But his instincts had told him to listen.
Dobey boarded the small charter plane and was on his way to Tucson. It was a two seater and a very tight fit for Dobey. The Piper pilot told him that it was about a three-hour flight, it would be a straight shot, with no stopping for fuel.
Once there he would have to rent a car to get to the prison. It would still be quite a bit of a drive to reach his destination. As the plane took off, he bowed his head and prayed 'Please God, please help my men, please let me find them alive'
2:58 p.m., somewhere in the Sonoran desert, Arizona
Hutch had collapsed again. It was one hundred and ten degrees in the sun. It wasn't much cooler in the shade. Roy had kept them separate from the other inmates, at the far end of the line, the furthest point from the buses. But he left them alone for the most part, only occasionally coming around to check on them.
Starsky propped Hutch in the shade of tumbleweed and kept working, frequently casting worried glances in his direction. Starsky had to keep a look out for other inmates and guards as well. He was doubly worried because Hutch had quit arguing with him about staying put. Starsky exhausted and feared he was near collapse as well. But he kept working.
Roy trotted up on horseback and watched Starsky work; he leaned down and rested his forearm on the saddle horn. He seemed content with doing nothing else but simply to watch.
Starsky was, at first, rather concerned that Roy would be upset that Hutch was sitting instead of working, but he said nothing, just watched. This made Starsky nervous, he tried to ignore Roy and he concentrated on removing yet one more bush. He was sweating a lot and the sweat dried nearly as quickly as it formed in the dry desert air.
Starsky drank from the canteen that the guards had handed out to all of the inmates earlier. The water was hot. The sun was hot. The wind was hot. This is what Hell must be like. Hot. Hotter then Hell, Starsky choked back a giggle. He stopped, realizing that the heat was getting to him. He took another swig of hot water.
As he capped the canteen, Starsky watched as a large dust devil swirled its way across the arid plain. He sighed and bent back to his task of cutting the tumbleweeds out of the ditch along the roadside. 'Just a few more hours' he thought to himself 'just a few more hours and back to the damn jail. At least it's out of the sun' He cast a quick look at Hutch.
Hutch had tipped slightly off the right; he felt as if a stiff breeze would blow him over. God, it was so hot. But at least he was sweating. Christ, it that what his life had come down to? Happiness over a little sweat? The blond shook his head; he had found out the importance of sweating yesterday and had no desire for a repeat of yesterday.
He had tried to work and help Starsky today but was unable. He felt like he was letting his friend down. That thought made him want to cry, but he was too exhausted to even do that. His head was pounding with yet another headache. He closed his eyes to the pain and tried to concentrate on finding a way out of this mess. At least he could feel useful that way.
Starsky ran the back of his hand across his brow and bent down to cut another tumbleweed. Off in the distance he heard shouting. He straightened up and put a hand to his brow to block the glare that even his broad-brimmed prison issue hat could not completely disperse and tried to find what the commotion was about.
As he watched, Randal rode up, his butt audibly slapping down on the saddle leather. Starsky had seen enough Western movies to know that Randal was a horrible horseback rider. Just like everything else the little shit did – he did it poorly. Starsky chuckled to himself.
"Dust storm's comin'!" Randal panted excitedly "The weatherman was right for once"
"Good" Roy turned to look in the direction of the oncoming storm. It was still some distance off and the bottom part of the storm was partially hidden by some hills in the distance. "Did you bring them?"
"Yeah, but how come there are two sets?" Randal dismounted and tied the horse up to a creosote bush.
"You'll see, unlock their shackles" Roy threw a set of keys to Randal after he dismounted. "You get over here next to your friend" He pointed his gun at Starsky.
Starsky moved over to Hutch and stood in front of him "What're you plannin', Roy?" He squinted up at his enemy. He didn't like the sound or the feel of this. He didn't like it at all.
Roy ignored him "Randal, hurry up, damn it! We ain't got much time." He scanned the area as Randal removed the prisoners' shackles.
Starsky looked back at the blond.
Hutch was looking up at him "Help me up, Starsk" he put out his hand. Starsky obliged him. They exchanged a long speaking glance; they didn't need any skills as detectives to figure out what Roy had in store for them.
Roy felt it and kicked his horse forward towards the duo "Quit that shit!" He thumbed back the hammer of his gun. He hated it when they did that. That was the last time that they would be doing it ever again, though. That thought made him smile. He watched as Randal removed the inmates' shackles.
Starsky and Hutch exchanged another look. Dread wormed its way through their bellies.
Randal stood up after removing the last ankle cuff. He picked up the chains and put them in his saddlebag. He then brought out two other sets that were visibly damaged "what do you want me to do with these?"
"Throw them under that creosote bush" Roy pointed. His walkie-talkie squawked and the voice issuing from it said to bring all inmates back to the buses to secure them before the storm hit.
Roy turned to check on the approaching storm.
A wall of dust moved steadily towards them and above that the sky was gray with clouds. It was like a giant curtain was being drawn closed at the end of a play as the cold front moved in, lifting and pushing the loose soil before it.
Roy turned back towards the pair "Times almost up for you two, got any last words?" He smirked.
"Shot while trying to escape, huh? That your plan Roy? Couldn't you think of something a little more original? I mean, how cliché, we're insulted" Starsky crossed his arms over his chest. Hutch snickered.
"Brave words from a dead man" Roy replied with a sly smile spreading across his face.
"I ain't dead yet" Starsky said quietly.
Hutch put his hand on his friend's shoulder, lending his support as much as gaining support for his unsteady legs. Whatever Starsky might be planning, he hoped it didn't involve running. He knew he wouldn't get very far; his right leg throbbed with pain, he had little time to recover from yesterday and now today, again... He closed his eyes and tried to gather his meager strength for whatever Starsky had in mind.
"You soon will be, both of you will" Roy laughed.
"Now wait a minute Roy, you said that I would get to keep Honey Dip, y-you said he was mine!" Randal stammered.
"Change in plans" Roy shrugged "you can always get someone else"
"I don't want anyone else, I want Honey Dip!" Randal whined petulantly, "You said he was mine! You promised me last Friday that he would be mine!" Randal advanced on Roy, determined to make his point. He wanted his golden man.
Hutch now knew what they had been talking about while they were in the 'library'. He had the sudden urge to vomit and a quiver ran through his body. His legs threatened to give way, Starsky, feeling this, put his arm around Hutch's waist to steady him.
They took a cautious step back away from the bickering pair and towards the oncoming storm. Then they took another and another, keeping a wary eye on the arguing guards.
Roy barked "Shut up! We can't take the chance that someone will find them-" the horse Roy was riding started to act up, reacting to the on oncoming storm. He struggled to hold it still as it danced and reared excitedly under him.
The horse Randal had been riding pulled away from the bush that he had tied it to and started snorting in fear at the rapidly approaching storm. It pulled back hard on the reins trying to free itself from the bush. Randal moved to catch hold of the reins to keep it from running away. He would be the laughing stock at the prison if he let that happen.
"Whoa, damn it, whoa" Roy slid his gun back into its holster so he could use both hands on the reins. He pulled the horse's head to one side and the animal rapidly spun in a tight circle, nearly unseating him.
Momentarily forgotten, Starsky and Hutch moved even further away from the road. They did so slowly, keeping an eye on the pair of guards. They moved towards the massive wall of dust that was moving towards them at an incredible pace.
Starsky looked back at the guards and saw Roy get dumped by his mount and Randal's horse bolted away from him, running off to who knew where. He tightened his hold on Hutch as they were buffeted by a blast of wind and fine sand. The massive dust storm was nearly upon them.
He ripped one of his sleeves off and made a makeshift bandana to put around Hutch's face to cover his nose and mouth. Hutch smiled at him and tore off a sleeve off his shirt for Starsky to use.
Starsky took it and grinned widely at his partner and they started to laugh. They gave each other a brief hug of relief. They then put on the makeshift bandanas and then turned to move towards the wall of wind blown dust and sand. Starsky pulled one of Hutch's arms over his shoulders and headed in the direction of the distant hills. He wanted to get to them for shelter and protection. He was under no illusions about how far Hutch could go. He prayed his friend could make it that far.
As the wall closed in on them, they stopped in amazement; it was a jaw-dropping sight. The pair could only look up at the massive storm wall. It was as if a mighty tidal wave made of dust and debris was about to crush them in its wrathful wake. They exchanged a fearful look. There was nothing they could do now, no escaping it. They braced them selves and clung to each other. Simultaneously, they put a forearm in front of their faces in a futile attempt to protect their eyes from the sand and dust.
The wall hit them with a blast of wind. But this wind had teeth, millions of tiny teeth made of sand and dust. They leaned into the wind and proceeded into the mouth of the storm.
This storm would wipe away any trail they might leave. All trace of them would be gone, no tracks to follow, no scent for dogs to find. 'We could hide out for a few days and-' Starsky stopped that thought. First he had to get to the hills with Hutch. That was the only thing he needed to concentrate on now.
Through the biting, blinding storm they trudged, all the while praying they were still headed for the hills. It would be so easy to get turned around.
Roy and Randal slowly made their way back to the prison buses on foot. In the blinding dust storm, they nearly had to crawl on hands and knees on the paved road so they wouldn't get lost.
Roy wasn't sure how this was going to play out. Starsky and Hutchinson had managed to escape. They could die in the desert, but those two had the strangest luck. They would probably live, just to piss him off. He growled low in his throat at that thought.
When asked what happened, he would report that his and Randal's horses had spooked at the on coming storm and had dumped their riders and that was when the inmates had escaped. This was no lie so, now all they had to do was find the pair before the other guards did.
Roy smiled; perhaps this turn of events could work out for him after all. This would be far less suspicious then his original plan, but riskier too. They simply had to wait until the storm died down to begin to search for the escapees and kill them.
5:04 p.m., Tucson Arizona
Dobey rented a car and was soon driving on I-10 towards the prison that his men might have been taken to. He thought this thing through and knew he could be on a wild goose chase. Gabe couldn't recall which prison, for sure, that the van belonged to.
And just because it said 'Arizona Corrections Department' or whatever it said, it didn't actually mean it was from there. Some idiot with a sick sense of humor could have painted that on the side of the van. Dobey mopped his brow as nervous sweat beaded there. His thoughts continued to circle, Gabe could have lied and he could actually have something to do with their disappearance. Or maybe he simply found the credit card, or stolen it, or any one of a hundred different things could have happened.
The credit card checks that he had issued last Saturday had returned with no new purchases on either card since before Starsky and Hutch had left on vacation. Gabe had Starsky's card and Don from the Bay City crime lab had called Dobey in Las Vegas to tell him that Hutch's credit card had arrived there in an envelope that was addressed to him, Captain Dobey. The envelope had no return address on it and was postmarked Las Vegas. The envelope and card had been sent to the lab to be checked for clues, but none were found, so far.
Dobey speculated that the person who found the card or stole it, after seeing him on the news had sent the card to Dobey. Then again, it could be the person or persons who had kidnapped or killed his men had sent it to him as some kind of sick joke.
Dobey mopped his face with his hanky as sweat dampened his brow and kept driving.
The wall of dust hit the duo; the gritty dust scoured their exposed skin with thousands upon thousands of pinpricks of pain. The grit invaded every inch of them, ears, nose, mouth and eyes, nearly smothering and all but blinding them. If they even dared to open their eyes to look around, dust partials filled their vision.
Starsky felt Hutch leaning more heavily on him. He tightened his grip on the blond. He was afraid that if he let go, for even an instant, he would not be able to find Hutch again as visibility was nearly nonexistent.
He wondered if he was even headed in the right direction anymore. Even with the bandana, breathing was extremely difficult. He was gasping for air through the dust-laden cloth. Grit caked around his eyes, due to the moisture from his constantly tearing eyes.
Hutch collapsed just then,pulling Starsky to the ground with him as he went. "Go on without me" Hutch hollered over the wind "I'll catch up later" his body shook with a dust induced coughing fit. He sat panting in the sand and attempted to catch his breath.
"Bullshit! Uh-uh, no way! You wouldn't leave me, I ain't leavin' you!" Starsky knelt down in front of the blond. "Climb on, ya big lug, I'll give ya a piggyback ride for a bit" It was impossible to make eye contact with the dust attacking their eyes.
"Aww, no Starsk, I can walk, really" Hutch was appalled, there was no way he could do that, he would be too much for his friend to carry. He rolled to his knees and tried to stand and failed.
Knowing what he was thinking, Starsky yelled over the wind "Hutch, I carried a friend of mine in Nam outta the jungle after he got shot up, I can do this" He hollered in his friend's ear. They had to keep moving, no telling how much longer the storm would keep up. They had to find shelter soon or risk getting caught out in the open.
"I know you can, Starsk" The ferocious wind blew his words away. He tried getting to his feet but he found he just didn't have the strength. His vision darkened and he felt faint. He quit arguing and allowed Starsky to carry him. All the while promising himself that once he was rested, he would walk on his own again. 'Well, okay, hop on my own again'
After convincing Hutch to climb aboard, Starsky struggled onward, adrenalin giving him strength. He was not sure he was even headed to the distant hills he had spotted earlier. But he was determined. The storm tore at them with sandy teeth, scouring exposed flesh. Starsky refused to complain about it. This storm was saving their lives.
With his head down against the driving sand, he marched on, the heavy but comforting feel of Hutch's weight on his back. Starsky ran directly into the wall of rock. He was panting with exhaustion and he nearly dropped Hutch. His legs buckled and he sank to his knees. Hutch slid off his back and landed in a boneless heap. Starsky sat his partner up against the rocks. Hutch patted his hand weakly.
"Thanks buddy" the blond began to cough, his body shaking with the force it.
Starsky, exhausted, acknowledged Hutch with a weary nod of his head. He sat down next to the blond and leaned against the rock and tried to catch his breath, his heart still hammering from his exertions.
The rock wall partially protected them from the wind and dust and they were able to breathe a little easier. The storm seemed to be getting weaker. The pair coughed and hacked up sand and grit. They each drank some water from their canteens and used a few precious drops to wash some of the grit out of their eyes.
Starsky helped Hutch to his feet after a few minutes and pulled the blond's arm over his shoulders and they slowly made their way around the rock, moving steadily up a slope on a natural rock path. They had to keep moving.
After a bit of climbing, they rounded a corner and found a large opening in the rock wall. Starsky leaned his partner against the mouth of the cave, entered cautiously and he was greeted with a low rumble. He took a nervous step backward. The grumble continued and increased in volume. He stepped back again.
"Who is it? Who's there?" A nervous female voice issued from within the cave "Frank?"
Starsky was back at Hutch's side when he heard the voice, they exchanged a glance.
"Answer me or I'll sic the dog on you" The voice wavered.
"Uh, hello in there?" Starsky called back "We got lost in the storm, can we come in? There's not a lot of shelter out here and my friend is hurt"
"A-alright, just keep your distance"
"Just keep a hold of your dog, okay?" Starsky eased Hutch's arm back over his shoulders and slipped his around the blond's back and after taking a deep breath, they walked into the cave.
From some hole in the cave's ceiling, a tiny shaft of light lit the interior of the cave. A haze of dust from the now dying storm still hung in the air. The detectives scanned the semidarkness for the woman and as their grit filled eyes adjusted to the dim light they saw her.
The woman looked like a statue, covered with a fine layer of dust and sand, as did the dog that stood beside her. As the detectives eyes adjusted to the dim natural light, they saw a pair of horses standing beside the woman; they too looked like statues with the dust layer on them.
Starsky stared at the small group for several seconds, realization sunk in "KATE! Oh my God! You're alive!" Starsky was in shock "Roy said you were dead! How-?"
"Please don't yell, I've got one hell of a headache" Kate sat down and put her hands to her head.
"What are you two doing here? Did you escape?" Kate moved her hands enough to look him in the eyes.
"Yeah, the storm helped"
He moved closer and helped Hutch to sit down next to the cave wall. After assuring himself that Hutch was comfortable for the moment, Starsky turned his attention to Kate. He noticed that there was a makeshift bandage wrapped around her head. He moved to her side, keeping a wary eye on the dog that rumbled as he drew near.
"Bleib, Cody, Setz dich hin!" The dog stopped growling and sat down at the command "It's okay now" She closed her eyes to the pain that talking gave her.
Starsky knelt next to her and under the layer of dust he could see that the right side of her shirt was caked with dried blood and the bandage had a large bloodstain on it. "Do you remember what happened?"
She started to shake her head and winced "Ouch, no, I remember riding for the Thompson ranch... to make the call to your captain... then next thing I remember was Cody licking my face. I must have fallen off of, or got dumped by, Rudy" she hooked a thumb in the direction of the two horses. "He's never done that before though..."
"Roy showed me your glasses last night, he said you were dead"
"So that's what happened to them... I crawled up out of the ravine and found my hat and one lens from my glasses..." She reached back and brought out the hat.
Starsky took it and looked it over, under the right side brim he noticed a fair amount of dried blood "I think you were shot, the bullet grazed your skull"
"Shot!" She grabbed her head and winced at the pain.
"Easy, there Kate" He remembered something she said earlier "Who's Frank?"
"My husband" She went on to explain that while he had been hurt badly enough in a car accident to need a wheelchair due to the loss of his left leg from the knee down, he could now get around fairly well with his prosthetic one. "He knows if I don't show up, he'll come check out all the places where we placed emergency rations. Bob and I got lost in the desert five years ago, we damn near died-"
"The taller of the two horses"
"You named your horse Bob?" Starsky could think of a hundred different, better names then 'Bob'
"You say that with distain, that's his name and has been for nineteen years" She crossed her arms defensively "I'm not changing it just because you don't like it" The dog growled.
"Sorry, I just-"
"Keep it up Starsk, the hole you're digging with your mouth is almost big enough to bury yourself in" Hutch started to laugh but was interrupted by a coughing fit.
Starsky went back to Hutch's side "Easy there partner" He reached for his canteen and helped Hutch to drink. The canteen was nearly empty. He quickly checked Hutch's; it had a few swallows left. Kate had said something about emergency rations... "Kate, how much water do you have?"
She pointed to two large containers on the ground next to the horses "Probably ten gallons or so"
"Wow, why so much?" That took care of the water issue. They could get a refill.
"Horses drink a lot"
"Oh" That made sense "I just gotta know, it's been buggin' me since the first time I saw ya ride inta the prison gate, why do you ride to the prison instead of driving a car or somethin'"
"We've been training for the Tevis Cup" At his uncomprehending look; she explained that the Tevis Cup is a hundred mile horseback endurance race over some of the roughest terrain in California "The object is to do the race in under twenty-four hours and to cross the finish line and have your horse judged, by a veterinarian, to still be 'fit to continue' Bob and I have competed for seven years but he's getting on in years so this is to be Rudy's first year-"
Starsky put his hand up to stop her; he had the feeling she could go on for days about the subject, if he let her. "Could we have some of your water?"
"Sure, I got some medical supplies here too, you said your friend was hurt" She pointed to a small box near the water containers "there's not much left, I used most of it, sorry"
"Nothin' ta be sorry about. I'm just glad you're alive" And he was, he couldn't bear the thought that he had been responsible for her death, 'course, he still felt bad she had gotten hurt. As he stood up to refill the canteens and get the first aid kit, he suddenly felt exhausted. The adrenalin had worn off and only sheer will power was keeping him going now.
He brought the meager supplies over to Hutch and they proceeded to clean and care for their injuries. They used some more water to give their poor eyes a good wash to remove the rest of the grit and sand.
After that, Starsky sat down next to Hutch with a big sigh and promptly fell asleep, slowly sliding sideways until his head landed on Hutch's shoulder. Hutch reached over and patted fondly him on cheek.
Hutch was determined to stay awake, someone had to. He had to plan the rest of their escape. They couldn't stay in this cave for long; they couldn't have walked far enough to be out of the search area. The hilly area was sure to be combed over. They would have to go some miles to get to a phone to call Dobey and the proper local authorities.
And then there was Kate. They couldn't leave her here, injured as she was. Roy might find her and finish what he started. The options were minimal. He wouldn't be doing much walking and neither would Kate. The two horses should take care of that both could ride.
Starsky could switch between sharing a horse and walking. Knowing his stubborn friend, he would insist on walking. If their luck held and no one found them, they could leave after dark, less chance of being seen. Hopefully Kate would be able to guide them out of the desert.
Dobey was caught in the aftermath of the dust storm. There had been several traffic accidents and the traffic on I-10 was at a crawl. He got out and helped the local police and state troopers where he could. As he helped them, he told them why he was in the area. It never hurt to have the locals involved (well, he hoped not) and their interest was peaked due to the involvement of fellow police officers.
Jake 'Whip' Williams was pissed. Two prisoners were missing. Christ on a cross, Will Gardner would have his ass for supper. At least the two prison horses had returned to the trailer after having dumped their riders, Randal and Roy. The horses had shown more sense then those two did. Whip glared at the two, if they had brought the inmates in when he first told them to, none of this would ever have happened.
Now here he was with one hell of a dilemma on his hands. He had a couple of busloads of inmates and only a handful of guards. He wanted to keep a lid on the escape as best as he could. Will would have to be informed. If they could find the escapees quickly enough, maybe the warden wouldn't even have to know.
Whip scanned at the surrounding desert. They could be anywhere. The hills were a good place to start, but considering the storm, they could have gone any direction. Hell, they could have died already and could have been buried by sand, never to be seen again.
"SHIT" He turned his eyes back to the incompetent pair "You lost 'em; you find 'em! I've got to get the rest of these inmates back to Boot Camp. If you find them by the time we get back here, it will be a wash. If we have to help you find them, you won't find a job in this state guarding flowers!"
"But-" Roy started, but was cut off.
"Don't even say it Roy, I know your brother is the warden, but if word gets out, he'll help me bury you and you know it! You never were guard material and this foolishness today proves it" Whip stared at the two, who stared back at him "What are you two looking at? Get a couple of fresh mounts and get going!"
Hutch nudged Starsky gently; the brunet had started to drool on his shoulder. 'Friendship can only be taken so far!' he chuckled softly to himself. "C'mon Starsk, time to wake up" Despite his best efforts to stay awake, Hutch had succumbed to sleep as well and twilight was closing in on them. They needed to get out of the area.
Before he had nodded off he had Kate draw a map in the dirt of the surrounding area and best possible routes to take. Now it was time to get going. He felt re-energized and ready to deal with the matter at hand. But first he had to wake his drooling friend.
It took some doing, but Starsky was awake and ready to eat. He dug around and found a container with some granola in it. He brought it over to Hutch, munching on a handful as he did so. "Found some granola, Blintz, ya want some?" He handed it to Hutch and speaking around a mouthful said, "S'not so bad, better than that stuff you usually make me eat"
From over by the horses Kate lifted her head "Granola?"
Hutch looked into the container "Starsky, that's not granola"
Still chewing Starsky looked at him "Whaddya mean this ain't granola? Smells like granola, tastes like granola"
Kate wandered over and looked in the container, then she looked at Hutch and they burst out laughing. Kate held her head as laughing aggravated her head wound.
"What? What is it?"
"Starsky, that's sweet feed"
"Sweet feed?" Dark brows knitted in question.
"Horse grain!" Hutch burst out laughing even harder as he watched his friend franticly spit out the horse food like it was poison, even going so far as to wipe his tongue off on his dirty shirt.
"That was a dirty trick" Starsky rounded on his friend
"Trick, what trick? You got that container all by yourself, remember?"
"Yeah, well you could have told me sooner" Starsky groused.
"Uh, children? I hate to interrupt, but you did say you wanted to be leaving soon..."
"Right, c'mon buddy, give me a hand up" The blond put out his hand.
Starsky grabbed it and pulled him to his feet "Pay backs are hell" he smiled.
Starsky prompted Kate to go over a few horse safety rules after he had nearly made the mistake of walking directly behind one of the horses. "Are you trying to get killed?" she had snapped after pulling him by his belt loops out of the danger zone. "You could have been double barreled!" At his blank expression, she elaborated "Kicked with both hind legs at the same time – double barreled – minimum end of the scale, painful bruises, maximum end of the scale –dead" He swallowed hard.
The trio then set off. Starsky was walking, for now. Hutch rode the older and taller of the two horses, Bob, and Kate rode Rudy. They rode in silence as best they could, the horses' hooves with their metal shoes making the occasional ringing sounds as they traveled over the rocks. Darkness fell and a sea of stars graced the sky.
Roy was furious. 'How dare Whip threaten me with termination? Just who does he think he is?' The sky was darkening; it would be very hard to find them in the dark. Soon Whip and the rest would be joining the search for the escapees. He had sent Randal up a head to check out the hills while he checked the area surrounding where he had last seen them.
Roy pulled the horse to a halt. Maybe he should just cut his losses and just leave right now. NO, that would mean that they had won. He couldn't permit that. They had to die. Then he would leave. Maybe he would go to Canada, Mexico was closer though.
Randal couldn't believe it. He saw them. It had to be them. And Kate was with them. Roy would be beyond angry with him if he ever found out that Kate was alive. Randal hadn't gone down into the ravine to see if she were really dead.
There had been so much blood on her head that he had just assumed that she was dead or soon would be. He didn't want to have to touch the blood, the thought of doing that made him queasy. He had found her glasses near the spot where he had shot her and took them.
That was then, but here, here was his chance to get his Honey Dip. He would kill the other two, then take Honey Dip to his place, where his golden man would be all his. To hold, pet and kiss to his hearts delight. His golden Honey Dip would love him back, in time; he just knew it. He just had to find the right spot so he could ambush them.
To say that Captain Harold Dobey was angry at the Arizona Corrections Department, also known as Boot Camp would have been the understatement of the century. Or more accurately it was the people who worked there and not the place itself was whom he was livid at.
The guards, at first, had been rude. Then they got nasty. Then Dobey called on a few new friends from the Arizona State Troopers department and things got very interesting, very quickly. Dobey then found out that his men had been prisoners in this prison. All the guards thought that his men had been two convicted pedophiles named Gary Harold and Sam Jones. The records had been tampered with; it was a good forgery job. Only thing was his men were innocent and had been kidnap victims. Then the guards reluctantly admitted that those inmates, correction, detectives had escaped just this afternoon. The guards had been preparing to conduct a search for the escapees when Dobey had arrived.
The State Troopers were interested in hearing this and demanded to know why they had not been informed immediately. They were somewhat mollified by the response that the escape happened during the dust storm and that the guards hadn't wanted to report it in case they had found them right away. Resources had been spread thin at that time due to the traffic accidents. But now was different, they should have been informed.
A man pulled up on the scene and demanded to speak to the warden. The man limped up to where Dobey and Warden George Palmer were standing and butted in front of Dobey and started to berate the warden. Palmer stepped back as the man advanced. "Where's my wife? You said you would call me back and let me know what time she left here yesterday, you didn't"
Dobey took control and got the man to calm down, a little. Frank Roundtree's wife, Kate, had been last seen leaving Boot Camp yesterday. When she hadn't made it to her lesson appointments, Mr. Roundtree had gone looking. When the pain of his still healing stump had became too much, he had stopped, gone home and started to make phone calls. He was told, even though he knew it anyway, that he would have to wait twenty-four hours before a missing persons report could be issued.
Dobey was concerned over the seaming coincidences of the man's wife and his detectives both going missing in a little over twenty-four hour period. Dobey started flipping through his notes. Two guards' names kept reappearing. Roy Palmer, the warden's brother and Randal Waters.
The whole mess smelled worse then three-day-old fish. Dobey demanded to speak to those two guards. He nearly had a heart attack when Jake 'Whip' Williams informed him that he had left those two in the desert to search for the escapees.
The clock was against them; Palmer and Waters had motive enough to kill his men, they also had the opportunity and the means. Both guards were armed and they were already out there. The Troopers, Dobey and Frank Roundtree piled into their vehicles and headed to the scene of the escape to conduct their own search.
Randal found the perfect spot for an ambush. His heart raced 'soon Honey Dip, soon' He would take out Harold first then Kate. If Honey Dip tried to run, he'd shoot the horse. He tied his horse nearly a quarter of a mile away from where he was hiding. He didn't need to have it neigh and alert them to his position.
The little group continued their trek to freedom. They were on a seldom-used trail that would take them to a ranch Kate knew of. Starsky walked up front next to Kate. She was feeling dizzy again. They had to stop a time or two already so she could dismount and vomit behind some bushes. Hutch knew from his premed days that she had a concussion. Her vision was blurry as well, mostly from her extreme nearsightedness. He could easily see why she had opted to stay in the cave to await her husband. She would never have made it home on her own.
She sat up straight and stopped her horse.
"Ya need ta get down Kate?"
"Shh, no... the horses are acting funny"
Hutch noticed it too, Bob had his ears cocked in one direction, and Rudy's ears did the same. Both horses then tensed up and sniffed the air. Starsky had learned quickly that when they did this to look in the direction that their ears were turned to. Kate had told them that these horses, Arabians, could spot a black pearl in a pile of coal on a moonless night. He had scoffed at first, but they were quickly turning him into a believer.
"I'll scout ahead" He no weapon. He proceeded forward quietly. His time as a soldier in Nam served him well as he crouched low and made his cautiously way through the desert plants.
Hutch realized that he and Kate were nice targets, sitting high on the horses and he carefully dismounted and urged her to do the same. The dog, Cody, rumbled low in his chest. Kate shushed him and Hutch guided her to some large rocks where they tied the horses. Hutch then moved her up higher and away from the direction that the horses had indicated.
The moon broke over the distant hilltops and bathed the area in a blue light. Hutch tripped over a small tumbleweed. He hissed in agony as his right leg was wrenched. His vision dimmed momentarily. Kate helped him up and put his arm over her shoulders.
He breathed deep, trying to force the pain away so he could help Starsky. He pointed where he wanted to go to get a good vantage point. Once there he had her crouch down and he peered into the semidarkness, looking for his partner.
That's when Hutch saw them. One man was behind a rock, the other, Starsky, was carefully making his way towards that same rock. Hutch saw the glint of moonlight on metal. He tensed, how many were there? Was it just the one man? If he hollered a warning, the bad guy or guys would know where they were.
"What do you see?" Kate whispered
"Trouble, lots of trouble, someone is behind that rock over there and Starsky is on a collision course with him. Dammit! I wish I had a gun!"
"I have a weapon," She whispered
Hutch spun around "Give it to me! Quick!"
"It's not a gun, it's him" She pointed at the dog "Cody here is, well was, my husband's K-9 partner"
Hutch turned back to the scene before him, Starsky was still on his collision course. He looked at Kate "Send him in"
She nodded with tear filled eyes "Point out whom you want him to hit, he's like a bullet, he'll hit whoever he is aimed at"
Hutch pointed to the crouched figure behind the rock.
"Good dog, Cody, I love you" She hugged the dog and kissed his head "Bad guy still there?"
"Yes! Hurry dammit!"
"Cody, Angriff!" She slummed behind the rock, unwilling to see the outcome.
The dog shot down the small incline and slammed into the figure. Sharp teeth sank deep into the man's forearm and he let out a scream. It was Randal.
Starsky heard the noise and changed positions to attack from the rear. He could hear Randal struggling with the dog. As he closed in on the pair, a crack of gunfire filled the air. He leapt on Randal, his hand reaching for the handgun. They spun around with the dog hanging grimly onto Randal's arm.
Starsky managed to grab Randal's gun hand and they wrestled for possession. The dog let go and Starsky increased his struggle and another crack spilt the air. Starsky and Randal stood face to face, neither one moving.
Hutch's heart stopped "Stay here Kate" He hopped down the incline and as he approached the combatants, Randal collapsed.
"Starsky! Are you okay?" He ran worried eyes over his partner.
"Yeah" Starsky panted and put his hands on his knees and gasped for air.
Hutch went over to check on Randal. As he stood over him, Randal looked into his eyes, reached towards him and smiled "Honey Dip-" his hand landed on Hutch's foot. Hutch left his foot under Randal's hand until the life faded from his eyes. Hutch then pulled his foot away from Randal. He knelt down and checked the carotid artery, nothing. Randal was dead.
"C'mon, we better get outta here, anyone coulda heard those shots" Starsky gripped Hutch's shoulder "c'mon, there's nothing more we can do"
Hutch nodded. He felt sorry for the sick little shit. They turned to collect Kate and the horses.
Kate was sitting in the dirt with Cody in her lap. She rocked him as if he were a baby.
The duo exchanged a look, sorrow in their eyes. Starsky spoke up "C'mon Kate, we have to leave now"
"We can't leave him! He's my husband's partner!" She implored, "He saved you, he saved all of us" She sobbed openly.
Starsky knelt down beside her "Then don't let him have given his life for nothing. Look, when this is all done, we'll come back and give him a hero's funeral, okay?" He gently moved the dog off her lap "We have to go now" He pulled her to her feet.
Soon the solemn group was once more on its way through the dark, having collected Randal's horse, all three now rode. They would make much better time now.
Roy heard the shots. He had been listening to the walkie-talkie and knew the jig was up. They were onto him and Randal. He would have to leave tonight. All his carefully laid plans in ruins. God Damn Starsky and Hutchinson to Hell. This was all their fault. It was them and their weirdness. He wanted them dead. But that was going to have to wait.
He would have to go into hiding for a while. What better place then where Kate had hidden some of her emergency supplies? He had helped restock some of them when her husband was hurt. That little bit of knowledge was going to payoff now. When things cooled down, he would leave Arizona for good.
Dobey looked at his watch. Was it that late already? It was nearly morning. They had found Randal's body and Frank's dog. The scene told the story. Frank was elated that his wife was alive; the dog would not have listened to anyone but her. Proof positive she was alive. Dobey was happy as well. His men were alive.
However, they were probably still under the mistaken notion that they would be sought after as escapees. They would fight if they were not approached carefully.
And Roy Palmer was still at large. An APB was put out for him. A mere detail, he would be in custody soon. He didn't know he was a wanted man, when he returned from searching for the missing inmates, they would grab him.
They were loosing darkness. Both Hutch and Kate were in pain, both were being troopers though. Starsky was in pain as well. He was aching from having carried Hutch yesterday and this horse riding was pulling muscles in his legs that he never knew he had. At first riding had been fun. It was something that he had wanted to do as a kid, ride a horse, just like Gene Autry.
The cold reality was he was in no shape to ride. None of them were. They hadn't made good time. The horses were exhausted as well. Soon, they would be caught out in the open. They would be easy pickings out on a flat plain with no place to hide.
The hot sun would beat down on them. Then the guards would catch them and post them in the blazing sun. Or maybe they would just shoot them out right. Randal was dead. If they found the body they would know who had killed him. Starsky turned his thoughts way from that line of thinking. It was unproductive.
In the distance he spotted a line of lights. As they approached, he was able to count seven vehicles. Dawn was about three hours away. He looked about for a place to hide. It had to be large enough to hide three horses. Yeah, right he thought glumly, nothing over two feet tall around here.
He rode over to Hutch, who looked as if he were about to fall out of the saddle. "Well this is it partner, I'd give ya my boots, but this ain't a cowboy movie, it's a prison break one, you dirty rat" He did his best/worst Cagney impression.
Hutch lifted his weary head and chuckled at that. Leave it to good old Starsky to come up with a joke at the right time. He put out his hand and Starsky grabbed it. They made eye contact and held it.
They broke contact at the interruption and turned to look a Kate, slightly annoyed.
"Sorry to bother you, but I can get the horses to lay down, if they haven't seen us yet, maybe they will drive right by us, we would be hidden by the vegetation"
The pair brightened. That could work.
They all dismounted and Kate had the horses lay down and she showed them how to keep the horses down. "They can safely lie on their side for about thirty minutes, after that it will hurt them"
Hopefully, it would be enough time.
They each peered over the bellies of the downed horses at the approaching vehicles. The vehicles drew nearer and stopped. Had they been spotted? They held their breath.
Then they heard "STARSKY! HUTCHINSON! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU MEN DOING OUT THERE?"
The pair turned to each other "DOBEY!"
They jumped up and made their way to their captain's side and once there gave him a big hug. Which left the big man mopping his face and blustering about all the trouble he went through to find them and then they go try to hide on him.
They hugged him again.
They went back to Boot Camp; it was where the headquarters for the search had been set up. They would give their statements and then go to the local doctor to have a once over before heading for home.
They found out along the way that Cody, while injured, was under a veterinarian's care now and should recover. That was the good news. The bad news was that Roy Palmer was still on the loose.
As they entered one of the rooms to give a brief statement, the phone started ringing. Hutch gasped and fell to the floor and lay there shaking.
Dobey looked on in shock "What's wrong Hutchinson?"
More phones started to ring. Starsky grabbed Hutch, pulled him to his feet and hustled him outside. Once there, he leaned him against the side of the building.
Hutch wiped a hand down his face "Wonder how long it'll be before I can stand the sound of a phone ringing? They're everywhere" He gave a nervous laugh.
Starsky gave Hutch a quick hug "I'll go tell cap' that you need to see the doc first, don't go nowhere" He headed back inside.
Hutch looked around at the surrounding desert. It was open, free; he wasn't ready to go back inside just yet. He heard a horse neigh and saw Bob tied to a trailer. He went over to pet the gentle creature. Somehow he found himself on the horse and headed into the desert. Just for a little while. He was free to do so and he would. No one could stop him; they had no reason to.
The tension in his muscles eased and he breathed deep, only now able to enjoy the scent of the desert. He kept going, luxuriating in the wonder of it all.
Starsky came back outside to tell Hutch it was okay to go to the doc's first. Hutch was gone. He swept the area with his eyes; he saw Kate and her husband and ran over to them "Have you seen Hutch?"
"Yes! He stole Bob!" She was nearly done saddling up Rudy to go after him.
"Oh Kate, he didn't steal him, he's just borrowed him"
"Borrowing without asking is stealing!" She snapped and then winced in pain.
"May I borrow Rudy? I'll bring back that dirty horse thief for ya schweetheart" He gave his most charming smiled and winked.
Kate rolled her eyes and handed him the reins "Go get him, bring 'em back in one piece and I'm not talking about your partner, I'm talking about Bob and Rudy"
"She means it, detective" Frank added and drew his wife into a hug to keep her from trying to follow her horses. He then sat down to wait. Kate would refuse to go to the doctor now until her babies were back. She was weird that way.
Starsky gave a smart salute and hurried after Hutch. The blond had taken off. That wasn't like him. He was worried. This was the first time that he had said 'don't go nowhere' only to have Hutch take off. It just wasn't like him. He scanned the surrounding terrain and spotted a cloud of dust. It had to be Hutch. He steered Rudy in that direction and hurried to catch up to his friend.
Hutch finally stopped some miles from the prison. He ended up on a little bluff that overlooked a small group of saguaro cactus. He hadn't directed the horse to come here, but it was a grand sight. The sun was making its appearance to the east and it painted the desert in calm earth tones. He raised his face to the dawning light and soaked it in.
Starsky lost track of the dust cloud, but Rudy seemed to want to go towards the east so not having a better idea, Starsky let him. A short time later, he spotted Hutch on a little bluff. He slowed Rudy to a walk. "Nice view"
"Uh-huh" The blond continued to face the sun.
He let Hutch stare for a while, content to simply sit beside his friend.
After a few minutes, Hutch dismounted and walked away. Starsky dismounted as well and followed, allowing Hutch to collect himself. He would be there. As long as his friend didn't get any closer to the edge of the bluff, the height bothered him. Being on a horse wasn't so bad though, height wise. He let his thoughts wander a bit, trying to find the peace in nature that Hutch found so attractive.
Roy heard something. Voices, they were close. He carefully moved up the rocks to see who it was. He climbed up a little higher. The legs of two horses blocked his line of sight. He edged up. There they were. He couldn't believe his luck! Starsky and Hutchinson, he checked the surrounding area, just incase this was a set up. He hadn't heard anything over the radio, though, unless they had finally figured out that he had a radio as well.
The pair had stopped talking, or were doing so quietly that he couldn't hear them. He moved closer, using the horses as cover. He snuck up behind the taller of the two horses and leveled his gun and took careful aim.
Bob felt something in the air. He twitched his ears around trying to locate whatever it was that was drawing near. His vision was nearly three hundred and sixty degrees, but he could not see directly behind him. There it was again, closing in on him from behind. It was close now, alarms went off --PREDATOR!-- He kicked out with both hind legs, they connected with something solid. Theimpact thrust Roy over the edge of the bluff.
The solid hooves with their metal shoes connected with Roy's chest. The force of the blow crushed his sternum, instantly flailing his chest, rupturing his heart, crushing his lungs. He fell quietly and landed in the upturned arms of a two hundred year old Saguaro cactus. He was already dead.
Hearing a ruckus behind them, Starsky and Hutch whipped around, the horses snorted and trotted away from the edge of the bluff. Starsky grabbed the trailing reins of the horses and Hutch cautiously peered over the edge. He saw Roy lying in the arms of a cactus. He turned back to Starsky "Bob just killed Roy, at least, I think he's dead"
Starsky reached up and scratched the horse's neck "Good horse!"
"Well buddy, I'm ready to go back now" Hutch grinned at his friend, he was ready, more then ready.
Starsky let out a sigh, Hutch would be okay.
They got on the horses and started back down the slope.
Starsky looked about and said "Ya know, it's kinda pretty out here. Kate said we could come back some time and she'd take us jackalope hunting"
"Jackalope hunting?" He raised an eyebrow and struggled to keep a straight face "Ah-hem, you would go hunting forsome poor critter and shoot it?"
"No Hutch, Jackalopes are endangered, we'd just shoot it with a camera"
"Oh really, Starsk?"
"Yeah, it'll be great! We could ride around in the desert during the day taking pictures and at night stay at the Roundtree's house" Starsky was warming up to the idea. "Kate says that Frank makes mean barbequed ribs"
"Uh... Starsky, you really that interested in doing this?"
"Yeah! Just think Hutch, I could be the first Bay City detective to ever take a photograph of a Jackalope!" He was practically bouncing up and down on poor Rudy's back he was so excited about the prospect.
"Oh, it would be a first alright"
"It'll be great!" A smile split the brunet's face, his eyes twinkled, things were going to be just fine.
"Remind me to take you Snipe hunting sometime"
"I don't have to shoot anything, do I?"
"Nope, first you get yourself a gunny sack-" Hutch proceed to tell Starsky how to catch a Snipe and his gullible best friend bought the whole thing. Yep, he was going to be just fine.
Authors note: I bet some of you thought I was gonna let Roy live. Nope. He's dead and he's staying that way!