Dawn examined her image in the bedroom mirror
with keen dismay. These pants had fit her only last week. Had she really grownthatmuch larger in the past few days?
Pregnancy was not turning out to be very
much fun at all. She was already too large to fit comfortably into her clothes, but not yet so large that when she looked
at her reflection she saw a pregnant woman. No, she looked at herself and simply saw fat.
Ken seemed happy enough, but she told herself
that was probably just because of the way her bra size seemed to be increasing right along with her belt. Her breasts were
becoming every man’s dream, no doubt about it. I hope he’s not too disappointed
when they go back to normal, she thought, morosely eyeing the pair of them.
Dawn stared dispiritedly at the interior
of the closet she shared with Ken. Nothing fits. She’d gone to the department
store to look at the pregnancy clothes and had come home empty handed and all but spitting nails. Everything on the rack was
ugly, smocked, and printed with pastel duckies or lambies or something else just as ridiculous. What were they thinking? Who
was it in the fashion industry who had decided that just because she was pregnant, she suddenly had to start dressing like
a five year old?
It was probably a man, because heaven knows
a woman would never design pregnancy wear that looked like that.
She finally settled on a pair of dance tights
with an elastic band she could push below her belly. Then she searched through Ken’s shirts until she found one long
enough to cover her hips. Thus attired, and feeling grossly unattractive, she left the bedroom to join her husband and Dave
in the kitchen.
Dave was another element adding to Dawn’s
discontent these days. This was the fifth day in a row he had shown up at , expecting Ken to make him breakfast. She scowled
at the sight of him, sitting on the edge of the sink next to the stove, his sneakers kicking against the cabinet doors, as
he talked animatedly with her husband. The dishes stacked beside him showed that the two men had already eaten.
Ken heard her enter and turned to greet her.
“Good morning, beautiful lady!”
Against her will, she found herself returning
his smile. ‘Beautiful’ was not an adjective she’d use to describe herself right now, but he said it with
such happy conviction, she couldn’t help but love him for it.
However, her mood turned sour again as Dave
slid off the counter and began rummaging in the fridge without even so much as a ‘may I’ to Ken. Dawn tried to
ignore him. After all, if Ken didn’t mind the guy acting as though he lived here, then what right did she have to protest?
if I ever do buy a house with Ken, things are going to be different…
Well, it was a nice thought, but she knew
perfectly well that things wouldn’t be any different, no matter where they lived. What was Ken’s was Dave’s,
and vice versa. She’d known that even before the wedding. So long as she loved her beautiful blond husband, she was
doomed to have an annoyingly immature brunet rummaging around in her fridge. It was just downright exasperating, especially
when, here she was, sitting at the kitchen table in ugly clothes, with sore feet and itchy skin, and what felt like a medicine
ball strapped to her gut. No, pregnancy was not at all the blissful thing they depicted in all those glossy women’s
A generous serving of ham and cheese omelet,
with strawberries and a small bowl of yogurt, mixed with bran, appeared on the table in front of her. As Dawn looked up to
thank her husband, she realized that he had been singing to himself for the last several minutes. He did that sometimes, when
he was especially happy. Despite herself and despite Dave, who was still tearing the fridge apart and no doubt making it impossible
for her to find anything later, she began to relax. Dave hadn’t made any comments yet about the size of her breakfast
(fat!), or launched into a story about how his mother to this day still rose at
the crack of dawn to make breakfast for the multitudes (well, my husband makes mine,
so deal with it!).
Shoving her grumpiness aside, she smiled
at Ken and said, “I love your voice.”
He beamed and lightly kissed the back of
her neck. “I love you, too.”
Unseen in the depths of the fridge, Starsky
rolled his eyes. Why did Hutch always have to be so soapy with his women?
“I didn’t say I loved you,”
replied Dawn, tipping her head back and teasing him. “I said I loved your voice.”
right, lady, thought Starsky. Just cut the poor guy right down to size.
Hutch placed a hand on the table and leaned
down to meet Dawn’s expectantly upturned face. He kissed her lips, and said, “Well, I love allof you. And I love our life together.”
for god’s sake, thought Starsky.
Emerging from the fridge with a clatter, he said, “Hey, Hutch, how come there’s no juice?”
Dawn bit back her first response. What? Were we supposed to consult you before we went to the grocery store? She said nothing, and instead attacked
her omelet with silent determination.
Distracted by the sudden chill emanating
from his wife, it took Hutch a moment to realize that Starsky had said something. Realizing that he wouldn’t be receiving
any further displays of marital affection for the moment, he looked up to see his friend staring at him with an expectant
expression on his face. “What?”
“I was looking for something to drink,”
said Starsky, “but there’s nothing in your fridge.”
Hutch frowned and went over to look in the
refrigerator himself. “Yes there is – what about this?” He held up a carton.
Starsky wrinkled his nose. “Ew.”
Unseen by either of them, her head bent over
her food, Dawn rolled her eyes. Why does Dave always have to carry on about the food
“What’s wrong with it?”
asked Hutch. “It’s juice.”
“That’s not juice.”
“Sure it is. Listen to what’s
in it.” Hutch read aloud the ingredients listed on the back of the carton. “…carrot juice, pepper juice,
onion juice… parsley juice. Parsley juice! That just screams ‘good for you’.”
“The only vegetable anyone ought’a
be juicing is a tomato, and then it ought’a be mixed with alcohol.”
“Aren’t tomatoes fruit?”
“My point exactly!” said Starsky.
He was pleased to have won the argument with
Hutch, but then he overheard a sigh from Dawn. It was the sort of sound that clearly said ‘you’re such an idiot.’
He glared at her. She glared back. He knew exactly what she was thinking, but she wasn’t so much smarter than he was.
She was just a cold-hearted…
Hutch glanced back and forth between the
two of them. Great. All of a sudden now Dawn was looking as bitchy as any woman ever could, and Starsky had that heavy-lidded
sullen scowl that always seemed to drop his IQ about 90 points.
“All right!” he said abruptly.
“Starsky, let’s hit the road. Dawn…” he leaned down and kissed her again, though she wasn’t
nearly as responsive this time. “I’ll see you tonight.”
To himself, he shook his head. It had initially
been a relief when they had, by apparent mutual agreement, stopped talking to each other. Unfortunately, it appeared that
they were now honing their non-verbal communication skills. Except for the fact that they were so unrelentingly negative in
their silent conversational exchanges, he’d say they were nearly as connected to each other as he was to both of them.
Once again, Hutch was struck by how very,
very much alike they were… in an utterly contrary kind of way.
red Torino was parked outside the house in the same spot it
had always occupied whenever they were heading out together to patrol their beat. The sky was cloudless, and a steady wind
carried the scent of sea salt, wiping away for a time the suffocating smog of the city in late summer. For a moment, Hutch
was caught by a sense of déjà vu so powerful he said to Starsky, “Why don’t you log us in?”
Starsky gave him an odd glance. “I
can’t. Remember? I’m not here.”
Hutch felt a sense of dislocation as the
paradigm shifted again. In this newest configuration of reality, Starsky was on leave and they weren’t partnered, at
least not in the official sense of the word. He reached for the handset and logged in, thinking to himself that it was odd
how the present felt somehow less real than the past.
“Sergeant Hutchinson, you have a call
from Captain Dobey,” said the dispatcher, “I’m patching you through now.”
A second later the mike in Hutch’s
hand erupted into a roar, “Hutchinson!
You better not be sitting in that ridiculous red tomato of Starsky’s right now!” Hutch jumped, and nearly dropped
the handset. He fumbled with the cord, trying to retrieve the mike and press the button to respond.
Starsky caught his eye. With mock outrage,
he silently mouthed, tomato?
Hutch had gone pale. Reaching quickly into
the backseat, he grabbed for the day’s newspaper.A large piece of the
front page ripped off in his hand and he began crumpling it loudly into the handset. “Cap? Is that you?”
“Don’t try that bullshit on me,
Hutchinson! I know what you’re up to! Starsky is not cleared for the street!”
Hutch desperately made more static noises
into the handset. “Cap? Cap? I can’t make out what you’re saying. There must be interference in the stratosphere,
sunspots or something…”
Hutch shot a dirty look at Starsky. “You’re
breaking up, Cap!” Static. “Try.” Static. “Later.”
“Hutchinson, if you hang up on me I’ll have your butt in a sling…!”
Using just his fingertips, as if afraid that
the mike might explode at any second, Hutch gingerly replaced the handset, cutting off the captain’s tirade. Looking
over at Starsky, he said, “We’re in trouble now.”
“Then we’d better get results
today, before you have to face the music.” Starsky started the car.
“Me?” asked Hutch, outraged.
“You’re part of this too, buddy.”
“Butt in a sling, head on a platter,
get your act together and your tail in gear… I’ve spent enough time in traction, thanks. Besides, Anna’s
funeral is this afternoon, and I told Becky I’d be there.” Starsky glanced at him, smugly. “Dobey’s
your problem. Remember, I’m on leave.”
Hutch groaned and slumped down in the passenger
seat. After a moment, he asked, “So who’s next on the list?”
“I think we’re hitting all the
east side pawnshops today.” They’d been working their way systematically through all the fences and pawnbrokers
in the city, looking for Anna’s necklace. It was the only unique piece of jewelry they had to go on, and Hutch was hoping
the killer hadn’t decided to keep it as a souvenir. Claddagh rings were, unfortunately, relatively common, and determining
which had been Anna’s among all the others would be an impossible task. Huggy had promised to keep an ear open, but
nothing had turned up yet.
This was one of the most tedious parts of
their job, simply doing the legwork, interviewing one person after another. Still, it was better than doing paperwork, and
had traffic duty beat hands down. Unfortunately, Hutch had a sinking sensation that might be exactly where he was now headed.
Riding with Starsky this past week had been extremely enjoyable, almost like old times, but he’d been kidding himself
if he thought it would escape Dobey’s notice for long. How can I convince him…?
He subtly examined his friend. Starsky was
humming happily under his breath and looking very relaxed as he guided the Torino through the morning traffic. Even without making any progress on the Bayside Strangler investigation, this week had
been good for both of them. Hutch was fairly certain, based on his friend’s punctual arrival each morning, that Starsky
was still joining Becky on her early morning dog walking expeditions. The girl likely had no idea how great a sacrifice that
was coming from a guy who liked nothing more than to sleep in until .
Then again, perhaps Starsky felt he’d
done quite enough sleeping in over the past year.
“So, has Becky’s mother invited
you over to dinner yet?” asked Hutch. Starsky hadn’t spoken about Becky very much, except to say that she seemed
to be coping with the loss of her friend reasonably well, all things considered. He wondered how serious their relationship
“Um…” said Starsky. “We’ve
decided not to tell her that we’re dating. I haven’t told my mom, either.”
Hutch’s eyebrows rose. Dating? They’re definitely dating? Fair enough, but why keep it secret from the moms?
Starsky easily interpreted the quizzical
look his friend directed his way. “Well…” he gave Hutch a slightly embarrassed sideways glance. “Becky’s
family is Jewish, like mine.”
“Oh?” It took a moment for the
significance of that statement to sink in. “Oh!”
“Yeah. If this doesn’t work out,
I’ll never hear the end of it.” Starsky slipped into a devastating imitation of his mother’s voice. “Davy!
You met a nice Jewish girl and you let her get away?” He shuddered. “Ugh.”
Hutch nodded sympathetically.
Starsky continued, “I told Becky we
shouldn’t date, just on the principal of the thing, but she wouldn’t go for that. So… instead we’ve
got the whole ‘let’s not tell mom’ thing going.” He shrugged.
Hutch turned to look out the window, suppressing
a smile at his friend’s deliberately casual attitude. His eyes tracked along the street perfunctorily, looking at nothing
in particular. Suddenly he sat up straight, “Hey, Starsky, there’s Willie!”
The Torino slowed as Starsky’s eyes searched the street. “Which Willie? Bookie Willie?
“No, Willie the Fence.” Hutch
paused and looked at Starsky with a puzzled frown. “Wait, Weasel Willie?
Wasn’t Walter the weasel?”
“I see him!” Starsky pulled the
Torino over to the sidewalk as the object of their attention
entered a door on the side of a red brick building. “But I thought he left town after he had that disagreement with
“Well, Louie turned up in cement shoes.”
“No, that was Little Louie the Snitch.
Willie the Fence is on the outs with Louie the Leg Breaker, because his girl Del got herself in hock gambling and pawned his mother’s antique shot glasses, and
by the time he found out about it, Willie had already sold them.”
“Are you sure about that? I thought
Del was Donny’s girl…” Hutch shook
his head, suddenly realizing that this was the conversation that might never end. “Never mind. Let’s go talk to
leaned on the counter, smiling in a most unsettling manner. “Willie, old buddy, old pal, I thought you’d gone
back to Boise.”
The small round man pulled a handkerchief
from his pocket and wiped his face nervously. “Hey, Starsky, I heard you were off the street. You’re not a cop
“I didn’t say I was arresting
you Willie. Unless, you think there’s something I ought to know about…?” Starsky shot Hutch an exaggeratedly
questioning glance. His partner was standing at the back of the small cluttered room with his hands in his pockets, politely
examining a stack of obviously brand new TVs, still in their boxes.
“Hey!” protested Willie. “I’m
an honest businessman now. These are all legitimate secondhand goods.”
“It’s amazing,” commented
Hutch blandly, “It’s truly astonishing how many people buy TVs and never even open the box. And will you look
at that? They’re all the same make.”
Willie tried a weak bluff. “What can
I say? Magnavox isn’t a popular brand. Everyone wants the Japanese stuff these days.”
“Hutch, maybe we should run some of
those serial numbers by the Robbery guys downtown,” suggested Starsky, helpfully. “I’d sure feel bad if
our legitimate businessman pal here was unknowingly in possession of stolen goods.”
Before Willie could continue his defense,
the door to the shop swung open with a jingle, and the room immediately fell silent. Hutch went back to examining the boxes
of television sets, and Starsky suddenly found much to occupy his attention in a nearby box of cassette tapes.
Willie mopped his forehead again and greeted
the skinny redhead who had just stepped tentatively into the room. “Look, kid, I’m very busy right now…”
“I just got one thing to sell,”
said the teenager, quickly. “Won’t take but a minute.”
Hutch could hear a slight hint of a southern
accent in the boy’s voice, overlaid by an almost crippling case of nerves. He turned, ostensibly to check out a radio,
and discreetly examined Willie’s newest customer. He was neatly dressed in tan chinos and a black long sleeved shirt.
Expensive shoes. This definitely wasn’t some kid on his last dime.
Starsky heard something clatter on the counter.
Picking up a tape at random from the box, he turned back towards Willie, as if to ask a question.
Hutch saw Starsky’s back go stiff as
he caught sight of whatever it was that lay on the counter. Though his voice was pleasant enough when he said, “Hold
up a minute…”, the kid jumped back as if he’d been stung. Hutch sensed that he was about to bolt and, darting
forward, he reached for his collar. His long fingers just barely grazed the boy’s back as he took off for the exit.
Starsky saw Hutch rush out of the shop after
the frightened teenager, the door slamming behind them both. He didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t follow them,
but there was nothing he could do about it. Turning back towards the counter, he saw Willie reaching for the jade necklace
with the fish pendant. He intercepted the fat fingers, knocking the man’s hand to the side.
“Ow!” complained Willie.
“Unless you want your fingerprints
turning up on evidence stolen from a murder scene, I wouldn’t touch that,” warned Starsky. Glaring at Willie,
who had turned utterly white, he reached over to a nearby rack and pulled a scarf loose. As he wrapped the necklace, he growled,
“So who’s the kid?”
“I swear I never saw him before in
my life!” Willie was truly terrified. “You know me, Starsky. I’d never get involved with a murderer!”
“I know, I know, you’re a legitimate
businessman.” Starsky pocketed the necklace. All ill-tempered sarcasm aside, he believed Willie. There had been no sign
that either he or the kid knew each other at all, and Willie wasn’t that good an actor that he could have covered it
up if he did.
The kid must have had track star potential.
As he exited Willie’s shop, Starsky found the street empty. There was no sign of either Hutch or his quarry, nor any
sound of pursuit. Leaning on his cane, he looked up and down the street, frowning. If
I were a scared little rabbit, where would I run?
Hutch didn’t think twice about following
the fleeing teenager into the condemned building. His entire being was focused on the chase, legs flying and arms pumping,
trying to close the distance between himself and his prey.
The kid grabbed a barrel as he passed and
flung it behind him, but Hutch anticipated the move and vaulted over it. He skidded only slightly on the other side and lost
less momentum than the other runner. The distance closed marginally and, sensing victory, he pressed the chase harder. There
was a metal stairway on the far side of the room, zigzagging up the wall to a catwalk high above the warehouse floor. The
kid charged up the stairs, heading for the door to the roof. Hutch followed.
They had both slowed somewhat by the time
they reached the top, though Hutch was still closing. Legs burning and lungs heaving, they stumbled through a mess of wires,
ropes and cables, left behind by some anonymous workmen long ago. Here, Hutch’s large feet put him at a distinct disadvantage.
The catwalk swayed and the cables twisted around his ankles. He tripped once, and had to grab the metal railing so as not
to land on his face. The kid was a shade more agile. He reached the door to the rooftop first and disappeared through it.
Hutch was right on his tail, kicking himself
free of the debris, still entirely focused on his quarry. He was therefore completely unaware of the presence of a second
man until it was much too late. He never saw the other man’s face, only the large meaty fist that suddenly filled his
vision. The unexpected impact brought with it flashes of lightning interspersed with black spots. The pain followed a moment
later, making him wonder crazily if it would be possible to count the seconds between, and therefore estimate the speed at
which the fist had impacted his nose. He staggered backwards, hopelessly off balance, and felt himself grabbed by the back
of his left knee. His shoulders hit the railing of the catwalk, and his feet flew up in the air.
His hands flailed for purchase, but grasped only air, as Hutch found himself suddenly