The Torino Goes Wacko

OK, I plead guilty. First of all, I do love that car! And I have to say that all the incidents described DID happen to me for real (except when the tire exploded, we were driving slightly faster and did NOT feel a thing), though with various cars on various journeys.

While busy writing my very first multi-chapter long story (in French), I had this silly idea in my head and thought it might be fun (and a little cruel, I admit) to gather every single event into one unique journey. Sorry Guys... just an idea that I had to put on paper. Hope you'll enjoy. Reviews are welcome and appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

Usual disclaimer apply. I do not own the Guys, nor the Torino (I wish I did), just the mishap.

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It was a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun was already shining bright and weather forecast had announced the hottest days of the season. No clouds. No breeze. A perfect day to go hiking, in the cool green little forest Hutch had spotted for their three-day break.

It had taken him a good measure of patience and his best persuasion talent to convince Starsky to come along and benefit from a true dose of fresh air in the open. But no cabin this time. He had not yet told the brunette he had packed a camping tent, for two. After all, they had been sharing the same bed on several occasions, when one of them was watching over his buddy during recovery after some bad time. So he figured sharing the same tent would not be any different. Yet, he refrained from telling Starsky about it. Taking him to the woods was already a true challenge for now.

Starsky had decided he wanted to take his car. He made it clear that it was not negotiable and Hutch had conceded his partner victory on this point, only for this once.

So, early morning on this gorgeous day, Starsky showed up at seven, knocked at the door and entered without waiting for an answer, as he usually did. He found Hutch ready and packed, close-shaven, dressed in a light green t-shirt under a multi-pocketed beige jacket, green trousers and hiking boots. Starsky had chosen to wear a dark brown jacket with large check on top of a black t-shirt, brown trousers, red socks and dark brown boots.

"Hey there!" he happily boasted at Hutch.

"Hey yourself, Buddy. ready for our little Oxygen Trip?"

"Yep. All settled. My bag is in the trunk. Yours ready?"

"Yeah. It's behind ya, at the door."

Starsky had a quick glance.

"Jeez, that's a big one! We're only gone for two days. What's in there?"

"That's THREE days. And I just packed a few things we might need. I'm a safety guy, especially when traveling in the wilderness."

"Wilderness? I thought this was just a quiet little stroll..."

"It's a little more than a stroll, you're gonna love this. I went there on my own a couple of months ago, just to research the location: there is a little lake, we can go fishing, and the mountains around are just beautiful. It's a quiet little place, you can hear the birds singing to each other and the breeze whispering in the trees."

"Swell, sounds like more mosquitoes bites and battalions of aggressive ants devouring our picnic before we can get our hands on it" groaned Starsky.

"C'mon Starsk. Why don't you be positive about this? Being depressed before you even start will only bring you bad feedback. Cheer up, will ya?"

"OK" he replied reluctantly.

"Right. Let's see, I watered all the plants, all's checked ... I'm ready!"

"Let's go."

Hutch put his big bag in the trunk and made himself as comfortable as he could in the front seat, next to an not-so-impatient Starsky.

When the brunette tried the ignition, there was a weird noise, like the battery was giving up.

He tried again. Nothing happened.

"What's the matter?" asked Hutch in a very calm voice, suspecting maybe Starsky had arranged some cheap trick to cancel their trip.

"I don't know."

"Try again."

"I keep trying!" he replied with energy.

OK, he seems genuinely annoyed, maybe this is just a little glitch, thought Hutch.

"C'mon, baby, don't do this to us now, OK?" Starsky was talking to his beloved Torino, while gently trying the ignition again. It finally started and the engine was sweet music to Starsky's ears. Hutch smiled.

"Let's go now, I'll guide you while we drive."

Starsky was driving a bit faster than allowed, but this was his chance to stretch the Torino's legs on another occasion than chasing bad guys across town. They had been driving on a deserted road for about two hours and heading to the mountains when Hutch frowned and took deep breathes.

"Starsk, do you smell something?"

The driver started to breath more deeply a couple of times and frowned too.

"Smells like something's burning."

The brunette put his hand next to the steering column, but it was not hot. The blonde pulled his window down and checked whether that strange smell was coming from the neighborhood.

"Do you hear that?"

There was a recurrent hammering sound coming from the back right side of the car.

"Hey, slow down, something's wrong!"

Starsky slowed down progressively. As the speed decreased, the sound became more and more audible.

"I think you'd better pull over!"

Starsky parked the Torino on a large spot of yellow grass, about a hundred meters further.

Hutch got out of the car very quickly and stared at the back right wheel.

"Huh, you'd better come and have a look at this!!"

"What???" shouted Starsky, afraid of what he would discover.

He joined Hutch and stared wide-eyed at the wheel. The rubber was completely cut to shreds and in the process it had scraped the right wing paint.

"Oh shit!" shouted Starsky

"Well, at least we managed to pull over in safe conditions."

"Yeah, what do you say, huh? One of the tires explodes and I did not feel a thing, she did not divert one bit. Talk about steadiness!" replied Starsky, gently caressing the roof of the Torino.

"If you say so, but we still have a ruined tire. Guess you have a spare one?"

"'Course."

They started to work together, one of them jacking up the car and screwing the bolts loose, the other one getting the spare tire out of the trunk. After about sixteen minutes, the Torino was equipped with a brand new shoe.

Starsky put the exploded one in the trunk together with the car jack and they resumed their journey to the mountains.

It was now around half past nine in the morning and the weather was as announced. Dry and hot. They were driving with both windows down.

Starsky had not reduced his speed, confident and implicitly trusting his Torino's capabilities. After all, she had just proved to be very safe, even with a ruptured tire at more than seventy miles per hour.

At ten, Starsky was already whining about his stomach. They found a perfect little shady place under a large tree and made a brief halt, to eat the sandwiches and fruits Hutch had prepared early morning and to answer the call of Nature.

When back in the car, Hutch opened the glove compartment where he had put the map with all the markings he'd prepared the day before. He checked the itinerary, satisfied, and put the map back in place. When pushing up the compartment panel, he heard a little crack. Starsky immediately reacted.

"What are you doing?"

"I just wanted to close the compartment, something must have got in the way."

Starsky leaned over on Hutch's knees to check the damage. Apparently, there was nothing in the way and he gently activated the mechanism, without success.

"Jeez, why did you force it?"

"I did not force it. I just wanted to close it. But there is such a mess in there. Maybe you should clear that little space from time to time."

"This is MY car, and I would appreciate it if you would show a little more respect, got it, Buddy?"

"No problem, but it's not my fault, I swear. This should be easily repaired. And besides, you're not the one now obliged to travel with the glove compartment door on your lap!"

Starsky did not want to argue any further and concentrated on the road instead.

A little after eleven, they were driving up a winding and narrow dusty road. The temperature had risen to eighty-four degrees and the skies were announcing even hotter temperatures.

Hutch had a quick look at the map.

"Starsk, there is a gas station about three miles from here. Did you fill her up before we left?"

"Do you think I'm stupid? Of course, I did."

"Just checking. Maybe we could fill he up so we won't have to do it on the way back."

"Yeah, why not."

When he saw the station, Starsky slowed down and parked in front of the unique pump. They got out of the car and stretched while looking around. It was a desolate place, almost in ruins, where everything was looking yellowish, like in an old movie colored with sepia. The only building next to the pump was made of dirty wood. The yellow paint was cracked everywhere. The entrance door was about to fall from its hinges. The two travelers wondered whether there was any gas available.

"Howdy!" an old man greeted; he was looking in his sixties. He was dressed in worn-out yet clean overalls. His hair were gray, a bit curly, so was his beard.

"Howdy!" answered Starsky. "Could you fill her up please?"

"Yeah, sure!"

While he was at it, he questioned the travelers.

"Where are you heading?"

"To Blueberry Peak." answered Hutch.

"Wow, nice little spot. You guys like to be one with Mother Nature, huh?"

"Yep!"

"Hope you got a nice little blanket, can be chilly up there at night."

"What for?" asked Starsky.

"You know, Starsk, when sleeping in the open, may be useful" replied Hutch, with a mischievous little smile on his face. "Don't worry, I'll let you sleep in the tent."

"Tent? What tent? I thought we were staying in a cabin, ya know, like Dobey's."

The old man started to laugh out loud.

"Cabin? There is nothing up there but trees and rocks. But you ain't gonna regret it. The view is just great."

Starsky gave Hutch a nasty look.

"That's why you dragged such a bulky bag along! The tent's in there, right? You had planned this from the start!"

"C'mon Starsk, you're gonna love this, I swear!"

"OK, let's move on" he said, obviously defeated.

They paid the old man and got back in the car. Starsky wanted to pull up his window a little; it seemed somewhat jammed, he tried again and again, when he abruptly found himself with the handle in his hand.

Despite the fact Hutch felt like bursting out laughing, he managed to contain himself. Starsky looked at the handle, mumbled something for himself and put it in the glove compartment.

The rest of their journey to Blueberry Peak was very silent. Starsky was now apparently in a very bad mood. Still, Hutch was just delighted by the prospect of the time they would spent up there.

When they reached a possible location to camp, Hutch looked at the map, studied it for a few seconds and turned to Starsky.

"I think we could as well park here. The lake is about half a mile away. What do you think?"

"Yeaah". Starsky's voice did not reflect any good feeling, but Hutch was not ready to give up that wonderful stay in the open he had been waiting for weeks. Not even if he had to drag the brunette and find a thousand ways to cheer him up.

The second they parked, Hutch jumped out of the Torino, stretched his arms, face to the sky and breathed deeply.

"Can you smell this?"

"Yes."

"Look at those trees! They are probably a couple of hundred years old. C'mon, I wanna see the lake, before we set up the tent."

Hutch was skipping as a school boy on the last day of class. Somehow, it became contagious as Starsky started to relax a little and followed his friend to the lake.

Once there, all of Starsky's anger vanished, as the landscape was indeed breathtaking. The lake was surrounded by a crown of tall trees, and it looked like a little diamond delicately nesting in a dark green bower.

Starsky was glad to have taken his camera along. This might be a nice little vacation after all.

After their eyes had stored all the beauty of the surroundings, they headed back to the camp. Starsky had parked the Torino close to a big tree. They took all they need out of the trunk and started to set up the tent.

When done, they rewarded themselves with a beer. They had a small portable fridge which would only keep cool for a couple more hours, but yet, they savored the moment.

"So, isn't it great?" finally asked Hutch.

"Yeah, it's a nice place."

"Nice?"

"OK, it's beautiful, you were right. It's just that I needed time to completely relax."

By the evening, he had let himself unwind at last and they had a frugal meal, sitting on flat rocks.

When they were tired enough, they crawled in the tent and settled for the night.

" G'night, Starsk."

" Night, Hutch."

Soon they were both lightly snoring.

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They woke up the next morning hearing a little shrill cry. When they emerged from the tent, Starsky was horrified to see a funny-looking black and blue bird attacking one of the windshield wiper. He ran, barefoot, to the car, waving his arms and shouting to chase the intruder away.

"I don't believe this! Huuutch! Look at this!!"

"It's just a bird, Starsk."

"Yeah, but why did it attack MY CAR?"

"Sort of a welcoming committee." he ventured to answer, but seeing his partner's angry look, he thought he should have kept his mouth shut. "After breakfast, I suggest we try and go fishing for lunch."

Starsky let himself being guided through the day routine Hutch had planned, yet always keeping an eye on the Torino as soon as he had a chance, afraid some larger animal would come and try to chew the tires. While Hutch was launching his line, Starsky was playing with his Nikon, taking pictures of the surroundings, even managing to make nice close shots of a large variety of small and delicate flowers blooming all around.

Their second night was as quiet, yet Starsky had a hard time to close an eye, as he was listening to every little sound outside the tent. Each time he heard some faint cry or crawling or scratching, he spied on the Torino like on a treasure. Hutch slept the sleep of the just and did not noticed anything.

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"Wake up, Gordo. This is another beautiful day waiting for us."

"Hmmpf, ... tired... what time is it?"

"Seven. C'mon, Champ. Today, we're gonna walk around the lake. This should take most of the day. We gotta prepare our back packs. Come on, Lazy."

Starsky emerged from his slumber and shouted at Hutch, already preparing his own material.

"Walk all day? You mean, we are gonna leave everything here?"

"Huh yeah, that's the general idea."

Starsky looked at the car: it seems it did not suffer any more damage since the night before.

"Starsk, you moron" Hutch said gently "Stop bothering about that car! Nothing's gonna happen. We should be back in about four or five hours."

"That long?" seemed to complain the brunette.

"Starsky, pleeease, would you get ready and come along? That's why we came here in the first place, remember? To enjoy ourselves, to breathe and listen to Mother Nature, and all you've been doing since we arrived is focusing on that damn car!".

Starsky felt it was time to let go.

"Sorry, Blondie. ... You're probably right. I'm sorry. I'll get my things."

He went back in the tent to get his clothes and stuff for the walk.

It took them a little bit more than six hours to complete their walk around the lake, as Starsky was regularly halting to take pictures. Hutch sensed in his partner a new and true feeling of relaxation which he never thought possible.

When they approached the camp, they were laughing and talking about a future three-day trip in the mountains. Hutch did not believe he had managed to convince Starsky to renew the experience.

As they were getting closer, Starsky scrutinized in search of the Torino. From where they were standing, all seemed fine and a heavy sigh emerged from the brunette's chest.

It was around four in the afternoon when they started to head back to civilization.

Starsky had a brief hesitation when putting the key in the ignition. Yet he felt a great contentment at hearing the engine humming with a regular rhythm.

They passed the gas station.

At about thirty miles from the city, they heard some kind of hiccups under the hood. Starsky felt it was loosing power, especially in uphill slopes, where ordinary bangers were easily overtaking them.

"What now? I keep hitting the floor for more, yet I feel like I'm pushing the brake. What's the matter with this car?"

"Don't know." Hutch did not dare to make any comment. Starsky had had enough already.

At a certain point, the engine choked and Starsky decided to pull over before perhaps burning some vital circuits. He went out, slammed the door, lifted the hood and studied every piece of equipment, without finding a reason for this nonsense to happen.

He slammed back the hood. Hutch had not moved an inch.

"Shit! Hutch, I give up. That's it."

Starsky looked exhausted and Hutch felt it was time to be a little bit more supportive, though he had no clue on what was happening this time.

"OK, Buddy, just stay put. It's only a couple of miles to the city. I'll walk and get some help. Just sit and relax."

Hutch was already heading to the city lights, while Starsky was watching him walk away before he could thank him. He was just about to kick into anything but the only thing around was his car. Instead, he sat back behind the wheel and tried to relax.

Later that evening, a tow truck was driving back to Bay City, with a Red and White Gran Torino on its tail, heading to Merle's place. For once, the Striped Tomato was the one in need, and not the bumped LTD. But the blonde never mentioned it.

Merle promised to take great care of Starsky's baby. I turned out that, when filling up the tank before reaching Blueberry Peak, they most probably got what was left of the gas station cistern and a lot of impurities had fouled up the carburation pipes. The whole system had to be purged and cleaned. This would not take more than a day, together with a few minor polishing and checking on the whole system. But it was not a matter of time anymore. Starsky could wait and, moreover, he had to trust Merle.

The whole thing was about his insisting on taking is beloved Torino to a trip he did not want to go on in the first place, though at the same time he was reluctant to admit he did have a good time.

Two days later, he was back in his Torino, both fit for duty, picking up Hutch at Venice Place and patrolling the streets.

They never mentioned this incredible series of mishaps again.

When going through the pictures Starsky had shot, it only seemed they had been taken during a journey free of incidents.

Hutch never said he thought that maybe, just maybe, the Torino did have a soul and was trying to tell something. But what??

THE END