I don't own the guys…
But they own the
Ticking of my heart.
tic… toc... tic… toc... tic... toc… tic…
Starsky wiped his mouth as he and Hutch strolled out of the door at Starsky's newest restaurant adventure. "Now wasn't that nice? A quiet lunch with good food and a friend," he said between wipes.
"Sure, my stomach is quiet now, and in about an hour it's going to start screaming at me because I let you drag me to some hole-in-the-wall again and put one of the greasiest meals I've ever had in it," Hutch said as he held his hand to his gut.
"Hey, but it was good." Starsky patted his stomach with a bit of pride in his smile.
The two detectives slowly walked back to the car. Hutch opened the passenger door, hesitated and leaned over the car. His arms stretched out in front of him across the top of the car with his hands clasped together. Starsky stopped before he sat down under the steering wheel and looked at him from the driver's side. "What?"
"Starsky… in all these years of being your partner and friend, how and why do I allow myself to be subjected to what you consider food, I just can't…"
"Zeb.a T..ee, come .n." The police radio crackled, then stalled, then crackled back to life from inside of the car.
Both Starsky and Hutch slid down into the seat and reached for the mic at the same time. "Zebra Three here. Go ahead." Hutch announced into it.
"Zebr. Thr.e", crackling, "there.. a 187.….. Hill ." The radio again static.
Hutch gave Starsky a look of curiosity.
"Dispatch…of course there's a 187 at Central Hill Gardens. There are hundreds of 187s there. It's a cemetery." Hutch smiled a little at his partner.
"Ver. fun.y Dete..ive Hutchinson. This one isn't buried. See… .. keep.r at… back enter..ce off Willow Dr." The crackling static ended.
"Zebra Three…we are responding." Hutch placed the mic back in its place. "You need to get this radio fixed. Dobey will have our butts if we miss calls."
"I'm having it replaced later this evening. Maintenance said to bring it around by seven."
Starsky turned the key and the powerful engine roared to life. He looked to his left and pulled the car out onto the main street. Hutch placed the mars light on the roof. The siren was switched on but it too seemed plagued with the same problem like the radio. Starsky just shrugged with a slight glance in the direction of his partner. The light would have to do.
"So the spook season is upon us. Dying radio, dead siren, and now dead bodies in a cemetery, who would have thought," Hutch said while looking over at his partner.
"It's Halloween Hutch," Starsky coolly said. Being the holiday junky, this particular one just didn't sit to well with him.
Starsky glanced up at the rearview mirror. He took notice of the dark car a couple cars back. He had seen it that morning. Now it was settled behind him again. Twice in one day? "Hey, I think we have company." He stated as he watched the road in front of him but with quick glances to the back in the mirror.
"Where?" Hutch questioned as he turned in the seat slightly to spy the car that had been mentioned.
"Two back. I saw it this morning on our way into work. Just kind of weird that it's back again." Goosebumps popped up unexpectedly at his arms.
The '69 Dodge Charger was a pitch black with tented windows just as dark.
"I got it." Hutch turned back around to watch for the hard left turn onto Willow Drive that he knew his over eager partner was about to perform. Right on cue Starsky banked the car to the left, and the momentum pulled Hutch tight against the passenger door.
"Hugging those turns like a teddy bear today are we?" Hutch questioned as he straightened himself back up.
Ignoring the slight jab, Starsky double-checked his rear-view mirror again. The black car appeared in the mirror.
"It's still with us," he announced.
"Well we don't have time to play right now. We have a call to take."
"I know. But I haven't seen a car with everything in a shinning black with no chrome on it. And the windows, what is it that he's trying to hide in there? That thing is just weird." He glanced over at Hutch.
Ten minutes later the cemetery came into view. It was placed a few miles outside the city limits when the town was still very young. As the town grew, it slowly got closer. The city was now touching the outer edges of the century old graveyard. The majority of it covered in old-growth trees. Some areas cleared and landscaped into a park style setting. The older sections were allowed to keep its nostalgia. A stone, brick, and wrought iron fence surrounds the over one hundred acres.
As Starsky brought the Torino down to a slower speed, the black car that loomed behind them slowed too. Starsky slowed and pulled the car to a near stop as they approached the entrance and drove onto the gravel drive. The large black car slowed as it passed behind them.
Starsky noticed that there was no noise. With both their windows down in the Torino they should have been able to hear the car as it passed by. There was nothing. Not a sound. It passed in pure silence.
Starsky shot Hutch a look. "Did you hear that?"
"No. Hear what?"
"Exactly. There was nothing to hear. A car like that would have had some kind of power underneath that hood, or we should have heard the wheels on the road, something that big, just doesn't move on air. Hutch that thing gives me the creeps."
"Bwa-ha-ha-haa," Hutch teased with a smile.
"Not very funny Hutchinson."
"Starsk…just put your mind back on the task at hand."
Starsky pulled the car through the wrought iron gate. The metal bars of the gate scrolled and spiked into a gothic pattern. The tree canopy above them loomed and blocked out the late afternoon sun. With the cool crisp October air, the leaves just started to change into their fall colors. The oranges, yellows and rust colors mixed into the fading greens. A carpet of brittle brown leaves flowed over the ground. Just inside the gate a man waited. He was tall and lean, his face bone thin and just as white. Dressed all in black, he looked to have stepped out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
"Man…he sure is creepy looking. Bet he keeps all the kids from roaming around this place." Starsky said as he stopped the car next to him.
"Straight down to the right curve. Back acres. The old graves," said in a slow, drawn out deep voice.
Both detectives looked at each other, then Starsky turned back to thank the man, but when he did the man was gone. He pocked his head out the open window and glanced around. The man had simply vanished. But with all the large trees and tall headstones, he could have simply walked behind one of them.
"Hutch …did you see where he went?"
"No. But come on, let's get moving."
tic... toc... tic... toc... tic… toc... tic…
Starsky slowly got the car rolling again, still with an eye out where the old man could have gone. He slowly drove up the path and to the right towards the backside of the cemetery.
He slowed the car as they came up to the scene. The lab and crime teams were already on site. There were three extra men that stood off to the side whispering to themselves.
The two detectives got out of the car and walked to where the body was laying. The dried dead leaves crunched under their shoes as they walked.
"So what have we got?" Hutch asked.
"Well, looks like our dead guy was killed again," the coroner told them.
"What do you mean 'again'?" Starsky asked with a sharp voice.
Hutch squatted down next to the sheet covered body. Starsky stood behind him and looked over his shoulder.
Hutch pulled the sheet up to examine the body. The body lay there dressed in a black suit and a deep blue tie. The body was missing its head.
Starsky placed his hand on his partner's shoulder as he too looked at the dismembered figure.
"It seems our victim has risen from the grave again. The body has already been autopsied two weeks ago. The removal of the head was just recent," the coroner stated.
"How can you tell that?" Hutch asked as he lowered the sheet back down and straightened himself up.
"There are burns on the collar."
"Burns?" Starsky questioned.
"Looks like someone used a very hot blade or sword of some kind and as the blade went through the flesh, it burned the shirt collar as well. And whoever did this did it in one swift swipe."
"T'rrific. Now we have someone going around chopping off heads of dead people. Any location of the missing head?" Starsky asked as he looked around.
"Not yet. We have four teams of officers still looking around for it. The victim's name is Patrick T. Connelly," the coroner stated.
"The defense attorney?" Hutch asked as he shot a look over at Starsky. "How would you know who this was with his head missing?" Hutch asked turning back to the coroner.
"We found his grave around the other side of the cemetery and it had been dug up. He died of an unexplained heart attack two weeks ago."
"Right, I heard about it. Unexplained?" Hutch continued to probe.
"His wife stated that he was scared to death. And from the way his body was discovered, looked like he saw something that scared him so bad he experienced a heart attack. Just as a side note, they do live in that old mansion that is just up at Canyon Rd. Maybe it's haunted."
Starsky and Hutch took a long look at each other.
"So the man saw something so horrible that his heart gave out. Then someone comes along and digs up his body and chops off his head." Starsky recapped as ripples of chills ran up and down his body.
"We worked a case about six months ago and he was the attorney for the accused, a Robert L. Cooper. We were the arresting officers. He was arrested for gun running and drug dealing. He had threatened to rip the defense attorney's head off after he heard he was sentenced to sixty four years in maximum security," Hutch said matter-of-fact.
"And then he was going to rip your heart out." Starsky added on, looking at his partner.
"And hand it to you on a silver platter," Hutch said looking deep into his eyes.
"But he died six days into his sentence. Committed suicide by doing a Hairy Karry in his cell. " Shivers ran up and down Starsky's spine again. How the demented man gutted himself left him unnerved.
He took in a deep breath and turned to the officers standing behind them. "Did anyone of you get a statement from the groundkeeper?" Starsky asked.
"I'm the groundkeeper," one of the men that had been standing off to the side announced.
Starsky and Hutch shoot each other a look.
"You're the ground's keeper?" Hutch questioned pointing a finger at the man.
"Yes. I was on my way to meet you at the back entrance when we heard your car coming up the drive."
"If you're the keeper, then who was the man that met us at the gate?" Starsky asked.
"The only people on the grounds right now are the people standing here." The man looked over at his assistants that had been standing with him.
"There was a tall man, looked to be around eighty years old, thin." Starsky tried to describe the man.
"We don't have anyone working for us that would fit that description." The man then stepped off to the side again and whispered with the others.
Starsky stepped closer to his partner and lowered his voice for his ears only, "Hutch, if these are the only guys working here, and then who was it that we spoke to?"
"Starsky, I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation for him." Hutch tried to convince his superstitious partner. But in reality he didn't have a real answer.
As Starsky and Hutch looked over the body and continued their conversation with the lab team and coroner, the air around them grew colder. A frigid air wafted through Hutch's hair, whipping it gently around his face. He unconsciously brushed his hand through it, trying to tame it. As he brought his hand down, he tugged his collar up around his neck to ward off the biting nips of the breeze. Starsky glanced over at him with curiosity. It seems that the pestering cold breeze was annoying only his blond partner and no-one else. And Hutch seemed to be oblivious to that observation.
There was a soft mesmerizing rustling of the leaves in the tree limbs above them. The tree limbs were moving slowly in the wind as if time was of no concern. Softly swaying ever so gently and comforting.
With the light of the afternoon deepening, the officers that had been looking for evidence and the missing head started to regroup at the cars.
"Nothing. We've swept the whole area. We haven't found anything, no evidence and no head." Officer Riley stated. "Looks like he was dropped here somehow. There's no trace of footsteps or even tire tracks from a vehicle. Simply nothing."
"So basically whoever did this took the man's head for a souvenir and dumped the body?" Starsky stated more than asked.
The team began to load the body onto a stretcher and into the back of the coroner's wagon.
"May we go? We have to finish closing up the cemetery for the night," the groundkeeper asked.
"Sure. Do we have your statements and numbers?" Hutch wanted to make sure they would be available for further questioning if needed.
"Yes Sir. We gave it to Officer Jacobson when they arrived."
"If there's anything else that you can think of, make sure that you contact us," Hutch told the man as he handed him a card.
Starsky caught a glimpse of movement to his left. Off in the distance, down at one of the distant drives, the black car slowly prowled the grounds. He caught just a small look before it disappeared behind some large headstones, trees and into shadows. Starsky nudged his partner's arm. Hutch turned and looked towards the direction that he was looking at.
"Did you see it? It's here in the cemetery," he softly mentioned. His anxiety and curiosity levels just jumped into his throat.
"The car. I just saw it cruise down the drive over there. Come on, I want to get a better look."
"If we're all finished here, we're going to continue to look around." Hutch told the team that was getting ready to leave.
"We're all done here. I'll get those reports to you as soon as I'm done with them at the Morgue," the coroner stated as she opened the driver's door to the wagon. Her assistant was already sitting in the passenger seat. The other officers had gotten into their patrol cars, too. Slowly they maneuvered around the Torino and made their way out, leaving the two detectives to themselves.
Starsky quickened his pace up a small incline then down the other side to try and spot the car, being careful as to where he tread as there were buried people under his feet. Hutch was slightly behind his eager partner. He too looked around for the mysterious phantom.
As Starsky slowed on the backside of the small hill, his breath quickened slightly. Off in a short distance further into the back side of the cemetery, he spotted the car. It had parked... the black of the car blending into the long shadows and growing darkness.
A stiff, ice-cold wind hit Starsky from behind propelling him forward almost knocking him over. He took a hastened step to catch his balance. But his attention was still on the mysterious car. He ignored the intense of the air that hit him then just as quickly disappeared.
"That's it Hutch. That's the car I keep seeing." With no reply from his partner behind him, he turned around to see that Hutch wasn't with him. He turned around in a tight circle to try and see where he went. But there was no Hutch.
"Hutch! Come on Hutchinson! This isn't funny!" He continued to turn in all directions. He quickly stepped back in the direction they had came from and made sure to look behind the tall headstones and trees that stood guard above him. Still no Hutch. "Hutch, where the hell are you? This isn't the time to fool around." His heart pounded his ribcage.
As he continued his frantic search for his missing friend and partner a cold gust swirled around him, it swept up the dead leaves as they twirled and danced around his feet and legs wrapping themselves around him. As he moved they moved with him as if they were in a dance together.
With the thought that he now had a missing partner he ran back to the car to put in a missing officer. He rounded the red car, grabbed the door handle and violently swung the driver's door open. He sat on the edge of the car seat looking out to the darkening graveyard so he could keep an eye out for his missing partner. Blindly he reached for the mic, his hand brushed against it and he grabbed it.
"Zebra three to dispatch!" His voice was rippled with panic but he tried to stay calm.
Static was all he received.
"Zebra three to dispatch!" He desperately hoped for an answer. Again he received none.
His anxiety level now racing with his thoughts, he tossed the mic to the side. As he went to step out of the car, he got a glimpse of the whirlwind of leaves that had now enveloped the car. He watched as one particular white colored leaf somehow had caught his eye. He followed it as it twisted and twirled and made it's way over the hood of the car and into the passenger open window and onto the seat. He had not noticed earlier but there resting on the seat was a small silver platter. A heart was resting in the center. Fresh blood was still dripping from it. He looked closer and almost saw it twitch.
His heart slammed against his chest. The frantic beat skipping. His breath exploded out of his chest. His left hand trembled to his mouth as he blinked in slow motion. He was momentarily frozen in fear.
Somehow from some unknown level of consciousness he slowly tried to back out of the car.
"Starsky..." a soft voice gently flowed towards him. It was riding the breeze that slowly encircled him.
He gasped in a chocked breath. His body trying to function though his brain was no longer in control.
"Starsk...? Come back to me." There was no real direction the soft voice came from. It just was.
Starsky finished willing his body to move and as in slow motion retreated out of the door, his eyes never leaving the silver tray with the bloody heart calling to him.
"Starsky...please come back," the voice begged him.
"Starsky?" Hutch reached and placed a hand on the man's shoulder. "Come on Starsk…wake up."
Starsky slowly moaned and rolled. There was a soft whimpering coming from him.
"Hey…you going to sleep in today or get up and go to work?" The bed dipped as Hutch sat down on the edge. He continued to rouse his partner. He ran his fingers through sweat moistened curls.
Starsky jerked awake. His eyes were wide and searching. He grabbed Hutch by the shirt and ripped the front open. Buttons went flying. His eyes focused on the smooth chest that had a slight fading summer tan. There was no gory opening. Hutch's heart was still in place.
"Hey! You alright? " Hutch said as he grabbed his friends arms and looked deep into electric-blue eyes. They blinked back at him from a distance. Then slowly a look of relief came across Starsky's face.
"Hey there you are. Was wondering if I was going to have to bring in a bucket of water," Hutch teased as his friend came back to his world.
"What...? Um... sorry 'bout the shirt." his voice was gravelly. He cleared his throat slightly, "what time is it?" Starsky groggily got out as his breath came back to him. He released the shirt and rubbed his sleep heavy eyes with the palms of his hands.
"It's 8 am. And we're late. Hope you know your going to sew those back on," Hutch stated as he picked a couple buttons off the bed.
"Oh... yeah 'K. Give me a minute and we're on the road." He coughed a couple times to regain his breath and get his heart back to a normal rhythm. He also had to dislodge it from his throat. The nightmare was still too fresh. Starsky nudged him and Hutch rose off the bed and proceeded to remove his buttonless shirt and replace it with one of their shared ones.
"You ready for the Halloween party tonight?" Hutch asked as he pulled the orange sweater from the dresser drawer.
"What?" Starsky whirled around in the bathroom door.
"The party tonight. Halloween?"
"Oh...yeah... right. Sure." Starsky's heart jump slightly as he remembered that the holiday had arrived and the nightmare was just the beginning of a long day.
Twenty minutes later the two detectives were in the car and headed to work. As Starsky got the car slowly rolling to a stop light, a big black 1969 Charger with black tinted windows settled in a couple cars behind them.
tic… toc… tic… toc… tic… toc… tic…...