First appeared in the fanzine 'Mnd If I Join Ya ?' (2004)
THIS KIND OF LIFE
It had been a long day and now all that David Starsky wanted to do was get home and take a long hot shower. Maybe he'd read a chapter or two of that new book before going to sleep.
As he drove shadows from the Torino lengthened on the sidewalk; a sure sign that the sun would soon go down - the end of another day in Bay City. He pondered the day's events in court. After only a half-hour of deliberation the jury had finally reached its verdict. James Beddows had been found guilty of two counts of murder-one and had been sentenced to life imprisonment.
It was the verdict that Starsky had sought, almost to the point of obsession. Ever since he'd responded to that call and discovered the body of a young girl dumped in a trash can; she'd been strangled. He didn't know why it had affected him so badly, after all dead bodies were practically an every day occurrence in his line of work. Maybe it was because he'd never seen a murdered child before - Emma Whatts was just 12 years old.
At the time of Emma's murder Hutch had been laid up recovering from a gun shot injury. The shoulder wound had only been superficial, but the ensuing infection had meant an extended stay in the hospital, so Starsky worked the case alone. Forensic evidence discovered both at the scene of the crime and on the body itself identified that Emma had battled bravely with her assailant before she died; blood and skin were located under Emma's finger nails and black human hair had been discovered on her clothing.
The usual suspects were rounded up - known paedophiles, rapists - and Starsky interviewed each and every one of them. Unfortunately none matched the profile. But then they'd brought in James Beddows for questioning. Beddows had been spotted by several witnesses in the vicinity of the alley where Emma's body had been located. He was twenty-two years old, had shoulder length black hair and his blood type matched that of the sample lifted from Emma's nails. A few months earlier, he'd been brought in on suspicion of sexually assaulting a young Hispanic girl. However the case was dropped when the girl decided not to press charges, as a result, many thought, of pressure from the boy's father. James Beddows was the son of Harry Beddows, gangland boss!
Following intensive questioning Starsky became convinced that Beddows had to be the murderer. During that first interview, before Harry Beddows got the chance to send in his legal "dream team," the kid had started to crack.
"We know you were in that alley kid ... we got witnesses that saw you there just before the girl was murdered."
A bead of sweat trickled down the boys face. "I keep telling you I wasn't there ..."
Starsky straddled the chair he'd been standing against, and faced Beddows. He picked up a pack of cigarettes and offered one to the boy, who, with shaking hand, gladly accepted.
"How d'ya get that scratch on your face?" Starsky calmly continued.
Beddows touched the small abrasion that ran across his right cheek.
"I told ya already man ... me and my girl ... we got into a fight down at the Blue Parrot club ... she didn't like me dancing with this other chick I met."
"Oh ... dat's right," Starsky responded, "you told me ... 'cept James, your girl says she didn't see you that night."
Beddows puffed nervously on his cigarette, "well she's lying ... she's probably still pissed at me for the other night. Hey ... you got no right to keep me here ... when ya gonna let me out of this joint?"
Starsky leapt from the chair to knock the cigarette clean out of the boy's mouth - he leant over menacingly.
"There's a 12 year old girl lying in the morgue Beddows ... and I know and you know who put her there ..."
Two days after the discovery of Emma's body Starsky instigated formal procedure to charge James Beddows with her murder. Then, from out of the blue, his whole case fell apart.
The two witnesses, who'd identified Beddows as the boy in the alley, both claimed to have been mistaken. The girlfriend changed her statement, claiming to have been responsible for inflicting the wound on Beddow's face after all. The final blow came when four separate witnesses came forward to place Beddows away from the crime scene at the time of the girl's murder. They corroborated his claim that he'd spent the entire evening in the "Blue Parrot" night club.
James Beddows now had a convenient, air-tight alibi and, although Starsky suspected that the boy's father had put pressure (and, probably, money) to bear on the key witnesses, he had no alternative but to let him go.
Watching him walk out the door with that smirk on his face had been hard for Starsky. It was even harder when he had to explain to Emma's parents that he'd had to let the prime suspect go and there were, for the present, no more leads.
From that moment on proving James Beddows had murdered that little girl became the most important thing in Dave Starsky's life. Work on all other cases virtually stopped. He remembered Captain Dobey yelling at him across the office ...
"Starsky ... you're obsessed with nailing that punk."
He knew that Dobey was probably right. But then again didn't he have just cause, after all his gut feeling told him that Beddows had been responsible for killing her. Okay he needed to get more proof to smash that "phoney" alibi - just a hunch right? But it was a strong hunch!
One week after James Beddows had walked out of the Bay City precinct, Hutch was released from hospital with strict instructions not to return to work for at least another week. Hutch considered "release" to be the operative word: hospitals did not bode well with Ken Hutchinson.
Although he hadn't been involved in the case, Hutch had understood Starsky's feelings towards Beddows. They'd discussed the case in depth whilst Hutch was still in hospital. He'd witnessed his partner pace the floor of his room in sheer frustration several times and he still remembered that conversation ...
"He's as guilty as hell Hutch ... all I gotta do is prove it, right?"
"Calm down ... try to relax ... I understand what you're going through, but giving yourself a heart attack isn't going to solve anything."
Starsky continued to pace the distance between the window and Hutch's bed.
"For God's sake will ya sit down ... you're giving me a headache!"
Starsky slumped onto a bedside chair.
"I'm sorry buddy, but I can't get her out of my mind. She was just a kid. What that bastard did to her ..."
He punched the arm of the chair, then pushed himself up and walked over to the window. Moving the curtain to one side he stared at the world outside. Then, in a weary voice, "you ever ask yourself why we do this Hutch?" He paused. "You know Nicky once asked me that question. I didn't know the answer then and damned if I know it now."
Hutch stared at his partner. He knew by the tone of his voice that he was hurting.
Starsky continued. "Man this kind of life ..."
He ran fingers through his hair, then wheeled around to face Hutch.
"I mean look at you ... here in the hospital. What if that bullet? ..." he trailed off, interrupted by the nurse that had entered the room.
"Time for your medication Officer Hutchinson" Her voice was sweet, but matter of fact as she handed a small paper cup to the man in the bed.
With the moment broken Starsky walked towards the open door "I gotta go okay ... take it easy ... I'll see ya tomorrow."
Hutch stared after his partner. Starsky had become too close to this case, was taking it too personally. But then again he could understand why. To discover a kid like that ...
Plans had originally been made for Starsky to collect his partner from the hospital, but when Emma Whatt's funeral had been arranged for the same day Huggy agreed to take Hutch home. As officer in charge of the case it was necessary for Starsky to attend; he would have wanted to anyway.
As they walked towards the hospital car park Hutch wondered what Huggy's latest "pimp" mobile would be like. He wasn't disappointed as he slid onto the passenger seat of a white '73 caddie, with brown fur dash and chrome fender. He just hoped he wouldn't be seen by anyone he knew.
During the short drive to Little Venice the conversation turned, quite naturally it seemed, towards Starsky.
"Starsk been round your place much lately Hug?"
"Yeah, I seen him from time to time. Man he's been a real pain in the butt - a real grouch ya know. Spends every waking hour on that murder case. Word on the street is he's pushing the odds. Harry Beddows don't take kindly to his son being hounded the way Starsky's been doing."
Hutch turned quizzically toward Huggy. "Hounded? What d'ya mean?"
"Well it seems your partner's been staging a one man surveillance operation on the Beddows kid ... every where the kid goes, Starsky turns up in the background ..."
Huggy checked the mirror and turned off the highway as he continued, "I hear the kid's real jumpy about it."
Hutch habitually surveyed the surrounding area. "Starsk really getting to him, huh?"
They pulled up outside the house.
"Yeah, and if that's the plan it's paying off."
He switched off the engine and twisted to face Hutch. "Of course the downside, as far as I can make out, is that Starsky ain't slept for two days."
Entering the house Hutch found that Fifi had called round, probably having heard from Starsky that he would be home that day. Whilst he appreciated Fifi's caring, he wished she would keep out of his laundry basket. He noticed, with great embarrassment, the pile of newly washed and pressed jockey shorts she'd left on his bed. He checked the time - 3 pm - the funeral would be over by now. Feeling a need to check on his partner Hutch phoned the precinct and requested a patch through to Starsky's car. There was no reply.
Rooting in the ice box Hutch found Fifi had stocked it with basic provisions. Finding a quart of fresh goats milk he decided to visit the local grocery store to pick up some bananas and black strap molasses; after almost 2 weeks of hospital food a good, nutritional drink was just what the doctor ordered - and the fresh air would do him good.
As Hutch climbed the steps, grocery bag in hand, he could hear the phone ringing in the house. He balanced the bag in one hand and with the other fumbled above the door frame for the key. Once retrieved, he stumbled through the door, raced across the room and snatched up the phone.
"Yeah," he gasped, "who's this?"
"Hutch ... Huggy ... I think you better get down here right away. I need rescuing from a mutual friend who's had waaaay too much to drink ... you dig?"
Huggy Bear was waiting for him at the entrance to 'The Pits.'
"Where is he Hug?"
Huggy nodded towards a booth at the back of the bar. As Hutch approached his partner he noted the empty bottles lined up on the table.
Starsky was slumped forward attempting to flick peanuts into an empty beer glass, which he'd positioned on its side at the far end of the table. Judging by the debris scattered on the floor, his aim had not been too successful.
Hutch slid into the booth opposite Starsky.
"How ya doing buddy?" he asked.
Starsky looked up and grinned. "Hey Hutch ... buddy ... old pal." Turning towards Huggy, who had joined them at the table, the alcoholic slur continued, "Hug ... look ... it's my old pal Hutch."
Huggy looked at his blond haired friend, winked, and then replied, "Man ... ya don't say."
"Yeah ... wanna beer?" He pushed a half consumed bottle over to Hutch. "Bring us another will ya Hug?"
Hutch leaned towards Starsky, "I think you've had enough," he stated quietly, "let's get you ..."
"Ya know ...." Starsky interjected, "I never cried at my dad's funeral. Couldn't, I guess ... cause I was the oldest ya see ... had to think about Nicky and Ma ..."
"Yeah, "Hutch thought, " the man of the family, right ... at just 15 years old!"
Finishing the upheld bottle Starsky continued, "but today ... when they buried that little girl." He swallowed hard and looked away.
Hutch laid his hand on Starsky's arm. "C'mon buddy ... time to go."
Starsky looked up and for a brief moment the two men held each other's gaze; reconfirming that no matter what happened, it would always be 'me n thee'.
Starsky smiled, "Ok ... sure."
He stood up from the booth to leave, but although he tried to walk he found he couldn't and collapsed in a heap on the floor.
"Oooops ...." he sniggered, "where'd my legs go?"
Huggy and Hutch, one under each arm, lifted Starsky off the floor.
"Hang on a second Hutch ... I'll just go make sure Francine'll be okay then I'll help you take him home. You gotta watch that shoulder"
When they got to Starsky's place, although it was a struggle they managed to get him out of the car and up the stairs to his apartment; Starsky, in a drunken stupor, bellowed out the lyrics to 'Blueberry Hill.'
When they got to the door, Huggy held him against the wall whilst Hutch opened the door. Starsky giggled as they fell into the apartment.
"Hey ... Huggy," he smirked. "What d'ya think of my Fats impersonation?"
"Starsky my man," he jibed, as he deposited the unsteady man into the bed, "I really thought the great man was here with us in person for a while there."
Almost as soon as his head touched the pillow the effects of too much alcohol and too little sleep took their toll on Starsky; within minutes he was asleep.
Hutch switched on the percolator. "You wanna coffee Hug?"
"No thanks ... I betta get back ... can't afford to loose too much outta the till. I take it you're staying the night?"
"Yeah ... I think that would be a good idea. You wanna borrow my car?"
"Man ... you gotta be kidding me. One thing me and Starsk have in common is a hatred for that heap you call a car. Call me a cab will ya?"
Ten minutes later Huggy was on his way back to The Pits. Hutch, coffee in hand, swallowed a pain killer; his shoulder was beginning to ache. Grabbing spare blankets from the cupboard he made up the couch, pulled a blanket over himself and went to sleep.
He awoke in the morning to find Starsky standing over him with a steaming cup of coffee.
"Here ya go buddy," he handed Hutch the coffee, grinning broadly, "... sorry 'bout last night."
"No problem ... how's your head?"
"Well apart from the herd of elephants thumping around inside it I can't complain." He swallowed a mouthful from his own cup and continued. "How's the shoulder?"
"Fine ...." Hutch massaged the wound. "A little stiff."
"Yeah ... sorry about that too ... I should be helping you out more ... guess I'm a little preoccupied right now."
"That's an understatement partner." Hutch grinned.
The phone rang. Starsky snatched up the receiver, "Yeup."
"Listen Pig and listen good ..." Although there had been an attempt to disguise the voice (probably a piece of cloth held over the receiver) there was no mistaking the slur of an East Coast accent.
"I got a message for ya ... lay off James Beddows or else you're gonna end up dead!"
As Starsky replaced the hand set Hutch looked up from his coffee. "Anything wrong?" he asked his partner.
"Nah - just some guy with the wrong number "
Pulling up outside "The Pits" Starsky turned to his partner.
"Look Hutch ... I'm free tonight ... maybe we could do something ... you know relax a bit."
"Hey ... sounds good. How about I buy you dinner; celebrate me getting out of the hospital?"
"Yeah? ... I get to choose where?"
Starsky grinned. "Sounds terrific ... I'll pick you up at eight."
Although the obvious purpose of the threatening phone call had been to deter Starsky from pursuing the case against James Beddows it actually had the opposite effect; he was now even more determined to prove this boy had murdered Emma Whatts.
During the weeks of intensive observation Starsky had identified Beddows to be a creature of habit. Therefore he knew that today, Friday, the kid would be lunching, as usual, at "La Fontana," an Italian restaurant on Fifth Street.
As he walked through the door he spotted the boy seated at a table at the far end of the restaurant. His girlfriend sat alongside, arm draped around his neck; he whispered something in her ear and she giggled. One of Harry Beddows' henchmen sat opposite, devouring a large plate of linguine.
Starsky sat down at an adjacent table and beckoned the waitress; in a loud voice he ordered a beer. Now that he had gained their attention he proceeded to stare over at the kid's table. Beddows shifted nervously in his seat and "downed in one" a large glass of Scotch. He shouted across at Starsky.
"Hey cop... you got nothin' better to do than follow me?'
The waitress delivered his order. Starsky, sipping his beer, peered over his glass and continued to stare.
"Hey cop ... I'm talkin' to you."
Starsky remained silent. Beddows pushed his chair away and staggered over to the dark haired man, followed closely by the henchman, who was attempting to restrain him.
The detective stood up from his table and looked condescendingly at James Beddows. Following the days of hounding it was enough to send the kid over the edge and he swung a punch. Starsky dodged the blow, a manoeuvre which in his drunken state, caused the boy to over balance and fall to the floor. As the henchman attempted to 'take him out' Starsky counteracted and delivered a hard blow to the man's stomach; he doubled over in pain and collapsed.
Starsky grabbed Beddows by his jacket, lifted him off the floor and pushed him onto the table. He pulled the boy's hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
"Hey ... wot ya doin' man?" he protested.
"I'm arresting you for attempted assault on a police officer ... dummy!"
Predictably, within two hours of his arrest, Beddows was back on the streets, having been bailed out by his father. Starsky was not concerned about his release. After all the whole purpose of the exercise had been to step up the pressure on the kid - it was obviously working!
Starsky finished his cup of coffee and grabbed his leather jacket from the back of the chair, he wanted to get home in time to freshen up and change, before meeting Hutch for that promised dinner. It was to be his choice of venue and he had already decided upon an evening at "Smolenskys", their thick, juicy New York steaks were a speciality. However, as he made to leave the office, Captain Dobey summoned him back.
"Starsky," he bellowed, "in my office... now!"
Starsky expected as much. He'd been dodging Dobey for days, and he knew it would only be a matter of time before his Captain would catch up with him. Although now was not a good time!
He checked his watch and entered Dobey's office.
"What's up Cap'n?"
"This is what's up," Dobey snarled, waving a piece of paper in front of the detective.
"It's an official complaint. You want to know who filed it ... Harry Beddows, that's who. And it says that if you continue to harass his son he'll get an injunction order issued against you and this department."
Starsky grinned, "You know Cap'n it warms the cockles of my heart to hear ya say that ... will that be all? Only I gotta go meet Hutch."
Dobey slammed the paper down on the table.
"No that will not be all," he bellowed, "what do you take me for? ... some kind of rookie? ... you don't think I know what you've been trying to pull?"
"Cap'n ...," Starsky, indignant, tried to interject.
"Don't you 'Cap'n' me ... I've been in this business a lot longer than you, and it doesn't take much to see that you've been pushing the odds ... and if you keep on pushing you could just end up in a lot of trouble ... maybe even get yourself killed," he moved around his desk to stand in front of the dark haired man. "Don't forget who you're dealing with here," he continued, his tone now softer, "Harry Beddows isn't just a two-bit hood ... he's a powerful man, who'll do just about anything to protect that son of his ... "
"You think I don't know that," Starsky looked directly at his superior officer, "but this is somethin' I gotta do ... for Emma ... for me ... and for all those other Emma's out there, who might end up on a slab if punks like James Beddows aren't swept off the streets."
Dobey sighed. He knew that look, knew no matter what he said, or did, Starsky had made up that "pig headed" mind of his. But he also knew he had a duty to continue the conversation. "You think I don't care about that too? ... of course I care ... but I'm also responsible for your welfare, Starsky, ... and the welfare of everyone else out in that office," he nodded towards the open door.
"You're all heart Cap!" Starsky grinned at the large man before him.
Slumping back behind his desk Dobey picked up a pen. He looked up at his detective. "By the way how's that partner of yours?" he queried.
"Getting better ...," a grin spread across his face, "should be back on the streets in no time."
"That's good ... that's good."
Starsky looked at his watch. "Er, Cap'n can I go now? ... said I'd meet Hutch at eight."
"Yeah, yeah ... okay ... get out of here," he waved his hand towards the door.
"Thanks," Starsky sprang for the door.
"Starsky ..." Dobey called after the detective. Starsky swung round - the look was clear - "what now?"
Dobey smiled. "Be careful!"
Hutch had just finished his shave and was splashing cologne on his face when the phone rang. Checking the time – quarter to eight - he nodded knowingly.
"He's running late," he mumbled to himself.
Wiping his hands on a towel he grabbed the hand set.
"Hutch ... Starsk there with you?" Huggy sounded worried.
"Not till eight Hug ... want me to pass on a message?"
There was a long pause. Hutch, sensing something was wrong continued, "what's up?"
"Well it ain't good ... just heard there's a contract gone out on Starsky ... been tryin' to track him down to let him know ... to warn him; twenty thou's a lotta bread."
Hutch stiffened. "You tried his car?"
"Sure ... no answer on his radio. Tried him at home too."
"Okay ... meet me at Starsky's place in fifteen minutes ...." there was a knock at the door, "hang on just a sec' Hug ... this could be him now."
Hutch threw open the door. He was relieved to find Starsky standing on the other side. Relief turned to anguish, however, when he noticed the blood trickling from a deep gash across his partner's forehead.
"H ... u ... t ... c ...h." His voice was weak as he staggered forward and collapsed into his partner's arms.
"Easy Starsk ... easy," Hutch soothed as he lowered the injured man to the floor.
Frantically he rushed to the phone. "Huggy," he called urgently, "get an ambulance and a patrol car over here right away!"
Collecting a cushion from the couch he knelt beside his partner and gently rolled him onto his side. Placing the cushion beneath the blood soaked head, he proceeded to check for any other injury.
Starsky groaned. "Oh ... my head!"
"Easy buddy ... easy ... looks like you hit it pretty hard. What happened?"
"Some punk ... tried to use me ... for target practice," he looked up at his partner, "missed me ... but damn well blew out a tire." He tried to sit up but Hutch gently restrained him.
"No, no ... don't move ... just try to relax!"
"My car ... gotta get back to it before it gets stripped ... can't afford to loose any more tires .... they cost sixty bucks a piece ... ya know."
Grinning Hutch stroked his partner's head. "Yeah ... I know ... I'll send someone to collect it ... soon as that patrol car gets here ... okay?" And in a concerned voice continued, "So just lie still."
For Hutch the siren in the background was a welcome sound as his best friend slipped into unconsciousness.
Apart from a few stitches and a thumping headache, the hospital confirmed that Starsky's injury was not serious. Kept in overnight for observation, he was now on his way home in Hutch's car. He was anxious to change his blood stained shirt and get back on the streets; there were places to go, people to see.
He'd been through the events of the previous evening over and over in his mind ....
He'd left his apartment about seven-thirty to drive the short distance to Little Venice. As he pulled away he made a note of a black '72 Chevy pulling out of a nearby side street; it fell in behind his Torino and followed him closely for several blocks. Starsky suspected, instinctively, that he had a tail. Needing to confirm his suspicions he accelerated slowly and checked his mirror to see what his pursuer would do. He wasn't surprised to find the black car still with him. So he did have a tail! But who? He didn't get the chance to find out. At that moment the Chevy suddenly increased speed and pulled up alongside, and out of the corner of his eye he glimpsed the gun ...
What happened next was a blur. He remembered the gun being fired, remembered the sound of a tire exploding and the fight to regain control of the Torino, and he remembered the stationary truck!
He was only unconscious for a few minutes, but when he came to his head hurt and he felt groggy. His immediate concern was for the whereabouts of the Chevrolet, but he was relieved to find it was no longer in the vicinity. Although a number of bystanders had gathered around the Torino, none made any effort to help him. He pushed open the door and fell out of his car.
Recognizing the street he knew that Hutch's place was only a few blocks away. He decided, therefore, to make for his partner, rather than wait for help to arrive. It was a struggle but he managed to stagger the short distance to the house.
That was last night. Now, as he sat in Hutch's car, it seemed an aeon ago!
Hutch glanced across at his partner. "So who'd'ya think paid for the hit?"
Starsky sighed, his head throbbed, "... I don't know."
"Think it was Harry Beddows?"
"Nah ... he ain't that stupid ... besides, I gotta feelin' if it had of been him ...," he looked at Hutch "I'd've been pushing up the daisies right now ... schweetheart."
Hutch smiled, and knowing how much it would irritate his friend, responded, "Starsk ... that's the best impersonation of James Cagney I ever heard."
"What d'ya mean?" Starsky sounded indignant, "ain't nobody can do Bogey like yours truly."
"You got that right partner."
"You speak to Maney about my car?" Starsky asked with some trepidation.
"So what'd he say?"
"He said there's only a slight dent in the fender and you cracked a headlight."
"Hey," Starsky enthused. "Guess I got lucky."
"Yeah, partner ... guess you did."
A call came through on the radio. "Zebra Three ... Zebra Three ... see the man named Duffy in connection with the attack on Starsky."
Hutch picked up the receiver. "This is Zebra Three ... we are responding."
Duffy was waiting for them at the usual place, the kiosk on the corner of Twelfth and Main. He'd been 'snitching' for Starsky ever since he and Hutch had made detective. Like most snitches Duffy was a heroin addict, who sold information to the police to feed his expensive habit. Unlike most informants, however, this one could be relied on; he also liked Starsky.
"How ya doin' Duffy?" Hutch asked as they joined a short, frail looking man in his mid-forties.
"Ok ... I guess ... you know how it is." He rubbed his left arm and shivered a little, he was obviously due for a fix. He nodded towards Starsky's blood stained shirt and continued, "I heard somebody tried to waste you last night."
"You heard right Duff ... know who put the contract out on me?"
"No ... but heard a rumour on the trigger man ..." he waited expectantly.
Starsky pressed a twenty dollar bill into his hand, prompting Duffy to continue, "Larry Dodds ...," he shivered, "hangs out at the Blue Parrot over on Main. He's a second-rate hit ... who ever it was hired him ain't too clever."
"Amen to that Duffy," Hutch smiled as he touched the man lightly on the shoulder.
"Take it easy," Starsky warned, "don't score too high ... okay."
As the two detectives walked back to the car Duffy called after them.
"Hey Starsky ... I heard about that little girl. I hope ya catch the son of a bitch that did it."
Tucking his clean shirt into his jeans Starsky walked over to the refrigerator and began to examine the contents.
"You want something to eat?" he asked from the depths of the ice box.
"I'm almost afraid to ask this ... but ... what you got?"
"Well I got baloney, cold pizza ... hey," he continued with excitement, "I got some liverwurst. I could make you a liverwurst and onion sub. My speciality!"
Hutch grimaced. "No thanks Starsk. You got any salad?"
"Yeah ... got some lettuce and tomatos ... that all you want?" Starsky replied, incredulous.
Depositing the dirty dishes in the sink Starsky turned to his partner.
"Wanna drop me back at Metro, so I can pick up my car?"
"What for? We can take my car," Hutch knew what his partner was leading up to.
"Look Hutch ... you're still not fully recovered from that injury and I can handle this okay on my own."
"What? ... like last night?"
"Yeah ... well ... guy just got a lucky shot."
Hutch laid a hand on his partner's shoulder. "Starsky ... I'm coming with you." It was matter of fact - end of discussion.
"Okay ...," Starsky grinned. It was obvious that his friend had made up his mind and that further objections would be futile. Besides he was glad of the company, he'd missed having Hutch around over the past weeks.
The Blue Parrot was a seedy bar, frequented by the local 'low life.' The atmosphere, as both detectives entered, was polluted with cigarette smoke and stale air. They walked over to the bar, surveying the all too familiar faces as they went; they'd lost track of the number of times they'd busted some of these punks.
When they reached the bar Hutch turned to face the door and leant against the counter; in a place like this it was wise to watch your back! Starsky sat on a stool and helped himself to nuts.
The bar tender joined them.
"Hi ya Manney ... long time since we had the pleasure."
"What d'ya want Starsky ... I got customers to serve."
"Is that what you call 'em ... Hutch and me got another name for these creeps." He grabbed another handful of nuts and continued, "we just want some information on a punk name of Larry Dodds ... we know he's one of your ... customers."
Manney looked nervously towards the men's room door.
"What's wrong Manney?" Starsky reached up and grabbed the bar tender's jacket. "Dodds in the john? ... Right?"
Sweat dripped from the man's face as he nodded confirmation.
At that moment the men's room door swung open to reveal a large, bearded man. He looked directly at Starsky and, obviously recognizing the dark haired detective, faltered for a moment, apparently contemplating his next move.
"Dodds," Starsky shouted as the perp, mind made up, disappeared back into the john. There was an immediate sound of breaking glass.
"Out the window," Starsky cried as he followed Dodds.
"I've got the back," Hutch shouted as he exited through the main entrance of the Blue Parrot and ran to the back of the night club.
It was there that he discovered his partner and Dodds, sprawled amongst piles of garbage; the men's room window, it seemed, opened directly out into the garbage disposal area. Bags that had cushioned the fall from the window, had split open, scattering their contents over the ground. It was amongst this myriad of rotting food and cigarette butts that Starsky was attempting to subdue Dodds.
Hutch smiled as he watched his slime covered friend deliver a punch that sent his opponent crashing into several trash cans.
As Starsky staggered to his feet, a banana peel fell from his curly head.
"What you smiling at?" he scowled at his partner.
"Just wondering what your latest impersonation was supposed to be. Are you Abbott or Costello?"
"Ha, ha ... very funny!" Starsky muttered as he moved towards Dodds, cuffs in hand.
It was then that Dodds made his move. Springing to his feet he slipped a hand inside his jacket.
"Hold it right there." Hutch threatened.
Dodds hesitated, weighing the odds, until Hutch continued, "go ahead punk ... make my day."
Starsky looked at his partner incredulously then hauled Dodds to his feet.
"C'mon punk," he said, fastening the cuffs around the suspect's wrists, "you owe me a sixty dollar tire and a new headlight."
Back at the precinct it didn't take much to get Dodds to admit to the attempt on Starsky's life. And with a little persuasion - if he cooperated he'd get his prison sentence reduced - he was also eager to tell them who'd paid for the hit.
The force of the blow knocked James Beddows to the floor. He stared angrily at his father, who stood, menacingly above him.
"You damned fool ... I told ya I'd take care of that cop - but legally. I'd already started proceedings to get a restraining order 'gainst him. He wouldn't have been able to get within a mile of you. One thing I learned in life is that you don't kill cops ... you play them at their own game."
James staggered to his feet, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. He wiped it away with the back of his hand.
"I told you if you ever hit me again I'd kill ya ..."
Harry Beddows laughed. He picked up a large bottle of brandy from the table and poured himself a drink. Dressed in swimming trunks and a towelling robe he sat by the side of the pool and lit a cigar.
"You? ... kill me?" he laughed again. "You make be sick. You think you're so big and tough ... but you're a weak minded fool. I sometimes find it hard to believe you're my son ..."
James Beddows tightened his fingers around the gun he had concealed under his jacket.
His father continued. "I've bailed you out all your life ... but no more. I should've done this a long time ago ... after you raped that girl in college ... I thought about it. Well I'm doin' it now. I ain't gonna protect you anymore James ... you're on your own ... I'm disowning you ... from now on you're no longer my son. Now get outta my house."
Harry Beddows stood up, turned his back on his son and walked over to the diving board.
Starsky produced the warrant from his jacket and leaning one arm out of Hutch's car thrust it at the two henchmen guarding the gate.
"I think you'll find that about covers it ... now get out of the way."
Fully aware that they could not object the two guards moved aside to allow the two detectives to drive through the gate and up to the front of Harry Beddows grandiose house. As they walked towards the door it opened before them and another Beddows hood barred the way. As Starsky reached for the warrant a second time the sound of gun fire emanated from the rear of the house. All three men ran, guns in hand, through the house and out to the pool.
Harry Beddows was floating face down in the pool, his blood staining the water. His son sat cross-legged, weapon in hand, at the side of the pool, staring at his father's body. Starsky and Hutch moved closer to Beddows, covering him with outstretched guns. He looked up at them as they approached.
"I told him if he hit me again I'd kill him," his voice held no emotion. "But he just laughed at me ... just like he always does ... just like that girl did."
He began to rock back and forth but the tone of his voice didn't change as he continued. "You know ... she shouldn't have laughed at me. I fell over you see ... in the alley ... had too much to drink I guess and she ... she just stood there laughing. I asked her to stop ... all I wanted to do was make her stop ... I didn't mean to kill her."
He looked specifically at Starsky, eyes crazed. "I didn't mean to kill her ..."
Starsky lifted the gun out of Beddows hand, pulled his arms behind his back and placed the handcuffs around his wrists.
"James Beddows," he began, as he lifted the boy off the ground, "you have the right to remain silent ..."
After taking that steaming shower he'd promised himself, Starsky grabbed a cup of cocoa, puffed up the pillows on the bed and settled down to read his book. A sense of relief washed over him ... the phone rang.
"Hi buddy ... just thought I'd let you know they're showing "Casablanca" on the Channel 9 late show tonight - thought you could use the practise."
Starsky grinned, "Thanks ... I'll check it out ... schweetheart."
"Scratch that - you could definitely use the practice."
Starsky was indignant. "Hey ... you're hurting my feelings here."
Hutch laughed. "Sorry about that partner ... guess the truth hurts huh?"
"Maybe? ... What time you want me to pick you up tomorrow?"
"How about seven-thirty - join me for a good nutritional breakfast, huh?"
"Nutritional. Is that what you call it? ... I'd get more nutrition from a plate of lettuce."
"That can be arranged."
Starsky grimaced. "I'll grab my own breakfast on the way over, if that's okay with you?"
"Sure ... it's your stomach partner."
"Okay then ... I'll see ya in the morning."
Starsky put down the hand set. He was still grinning. He knew the real purpose of the phone call; Hutch would be there if he needed him, just like always!
He still didn't know why they did it, but hey, this kind of life ... it wasn't all that bad!