Previous Page


Part Three, Chapter One

Hutch was on the couch reading the real estate section of the newspaper when Starsky breezed in looking positively bouncy. He still had his cane in hand and, while he wasn’t literally airborne, his overall attitude was so buoyant you could have been forgiven for briefly thinking otherwise.

Hutch put on a disapproving frown. “By my calculations, you’re more than thirty hours past curfew, young man.”

Starsky halted in front of the couch and grinned down at him. His good humor was irresistible, and Hutch found that he was unable to maintain the fiction of a bad temper, even in jest. Clearly Starsky’s stay at Becky’s house these past two nights had done him good. Folding his newspaper, he tilted his head back and raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

“So, did you?”

“No!” Starsky’s protest was almost a yelp, causing Hutch’s smile to widen. “Geez, is that all you ever think about?”

Hutch snorted. “Says the man who once claimed he’d rather die young than live without what he so delicately referred to as ‘you know’.”

Starsky dropped down to the couch beside his friend, and gave him a look of tolerant disgust. “Yeah well, some people think there’s some significance to ‘you know’ an’ it ought’a be handled right… ya know?”

“Okay, so if you weren’t,” Hutch waggled his hand in a vague and entirely non-descriptive gesture, “all day yesterday, then what were you doing?”

“Well, we had breakfast and walked the dog, and then I spent the day volunteering at the shelter,” Starsky shrugged with unconvincing casualness. “Becky lied. Kitten massaging is unbelievably gross.”

“Any luck tracking down our mystery man?”

Starsky made a face. “Nah. He didn’t come back, and no one seems to know anything about him. All we got is a first name, ‘Reg’.” He rubbed his hand across his cheek, thoughtfully. “I don’t know, Hutch, somehow I keep thinking this is the same guy who tossed you off that catwalk. An’ if it is, then we’ve got a link to the Bayside murders.”

Hutch sighed, some of the shine wearing off the morning, as the details of the case reasserted themselves in his mind. “As long as we’re speculating wildly, how’s this? Last year most of the rapes occurred in July and August, with the final one on the eighth of September. This year, so far, there have been two rapes in July, a death in August, and two more in early September. Now, either he’s going to keep killing, or he’ll stop and we’ll have a definite pattern.”

“Which is?” asked Starsky. He thought he knew where Hutch was headed, but this lazy morning, he was content to sit back and let his partner do all the mental legwork.

Hutch gave him a sideways glance. Two could play this game. “Well, who do you think has got July and August off?”

“School kids,” said Starsky, amiably. “Their teachers. I dunno. You got anyone else in mind?”

“University students and professors,” suggested Hutch. “People who might live out of state, only coming home to visit family during the summer.”

America’s a big place. Lots of universities, and lots of people in ‘em.” Starsky paused, then suggested, “But you could try looking for similar unsolved rapes through the NCIC. It would be a hell of a lot of work though…” He stopped and caught the look Hutch was giving him. “Oh no. No, not a chance!”

Hutch’s forehead crumpled and his eyes got large and round.

“Hey, I’m on medical leave, remember? I’m not allowed to do this kind of thing!” Starsky crossed his arms defiantly, trying not to let the pleading expression on Hutch’s face affect his resolve. Besides, that was supposed to be his specialty, not Hutch’s.

“Aw, Starsk, so long as you aren’t on the street, I don’t think Dobey would mind. And it’s for a good cause!” He paused, deliberately calculating the moment of maximum effect, then said, “Please?”

Starsky’s shoulders slumped in defeat. How was it that Hutch always knew just how to do him in? “Geez…”

Hutch beamed, and patted him on the leg. “Buddy, I knew I could count on you. And, oh look, it’s already 8:00. Duty calls!” He jumped to his feet and bolted for the bedroom, Starsky’s outraged howl following him.

“This was a set up, wasn’t it? You set me up!”


One of Dawn’s co-workers had taken pity on her, and had presented her with a large bag of second-hand peasant dresses and ethnic styled shirts at work the night before.  She was sorting through them on the bed when she heard Dave walk in the front door. As usual, he didn’t bother knocking.

Dawn shrugged, feeling almost philosophical about it this morning. She figured she had little to complain about, since he had been considerate enough to find himself somewhere else to stay for the duration of the evacuation.

The small clock radio at the side of the bed switched from music to the morning news at the top of the hour.

The Expressway today remains closed. Authorities fear this will result in severe traffic jams throughout the city as traffic is rerouted around the evacuation area. The mayor is asking that residents remain home today. All city and municipal offices are closed, though services such as garbage collection will continue as scheduled.”

Dawn shook out a voluminous embroidered dress. It jangled and upon closer inspection she discovered that tiny bells had been sewn into the decoratively knotted hem. It was the antithesis of her usual style and she suspected that somewhere in the city, her co-workers were laughing at her. But at least it wasn’t decorated with pastel duckies and lambies.

The fire department reports that the last propane fire was extinguished at six twenty-five this morning. A steel patch has been prepared to cover the hole in the chlorine tanker. Railway crews are currently removing those boxcars and tankers that have not been derailed.”

The next item to emerge from the depths of the bag was an enormous pair of overalls. She bit her lip as she looked at it. This garment appeared to either be actual pregnancy wear, or else it had been cut to accommodate the granddaddy of all beer bellies.

It occurred to Dawn that teen pregnancy prevention campaigns were missing a golden opportunity here. She had no doubt that the number of pregnancies would decline precipitously if more women were aware of what a complete fashion catastrophe pregnancy was.

Red Cross and other volunteers continue to supervise the settling of displaced residents. There will be a press conference at noon today regarding the possibility that some evacuees may be allowed to return to their homes.”

She heard Dave shout something from the living room and a moment later, Ken dashed into the room, laughing. He cast a quick look at the clothes laid out on the bed before diving into the closet to withdraw a brown suit jacket and tie. “That dress looks nice,” he commented, distractedly.

Dawn crossed her arms and scowled at him. “It’s got bells,” she said, sourly.

He gave her a hurried peck on the cheek. “Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, and she shall have music wherever she goes.” Another kiss: this one rather more attentive than the last. “I’ve got to go to work. I’m taking your car, but I’ll be back in time to give you a ride to work this afternoon, okay?”

“Why don’t you let me drive you?” asked Starsky.

Hutch looked over to see him leaning against the end of the dividing wall with his arms crossed. There was no challenge in his words, only curiosity.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t in the middle of changing, thought Dawn. Isn’t there any place in this house I can consider private?

“I’ve got to go to court today. I was the arresting officer in that drunk driving incident; the one where the Kaminski woman got hurt.” Hutch inclined his head, his words directed at Starsk, but his eyes on Dawn. He had a feeling there was something he was failing to notice. “How about we meet for lunch, instead?”

“Okay,” said Starsky. “I’m going to stick around for bit, then. I got some laundry I wanna do.”

That did it. This time, Hutch couldn’t miss the sudden chill coming from his wife.

He glanced quickly at her and then grabbed Starsky by the elbow, firmly directing him into the greenhouse. Closing the door behind the two of them, he turned to his puzzled friend and said, “Starsk, we have to talk…”

“Why?” asked Starsky. “Is your machine broken? ‘Cause if it is, that’s all right…”

“Shut up, okay? Just listen.” Hutch leaned forward, making sure he had the other man’s complete attention. “Look, this isn’t just my house anymore. It belongs to Dawn, too. And that goes for the washing machine, as well.”

Comprehension dawned on Starsky’s face. “Ya mean, I gotta ask her for permission?”

“I’d really appreciate it if you would,” said Hutch. He gave Starsky a worried look, wondering how his friend would react to this new state of affairs.

“Huh.” Starsky shrugged, and then grinned. “Sure, don’t worry about it.” As he turned to pass Hutch on his way back into the bedroom, he gave him a quick reassuring pat on the stomach.

Dawn was still folding clothes on the bed. Though she had to have caught some of that exchange, she gave nothing away as Starsky walked up to her.

When she finally deigned to look up and acknowledge his presence, he bowed elaborately, recovering easily from the slight loss of balance that resulted. “Hey, lady, pretty please with cherries on top, can I use your washing machine? And the dryer, too?”

Surprised, Dawn found herself having to suppress a sudden urge to laugh. “Since you asked so nicely, I suppose I have to say yes.” She hadn’t intended to refuse in any case, but she had not been expecting him to make his request with such obvious good humor.

Her second shock of the day arrived as he spontaneously planted a kiss on her cheek. “You’re as gracious as you are beautiful. Thanks a million!”

She stared after him, speechless, as he left the room, humming to himself. Deeply puzzled, Dawn looked over at her husband, and asked, “What’s up with him?”

“He’s got a girlfriend,” said Hutch, happily. He sang a few lines of the same song Starsky had been humming as he knotted his tie.

Oh, what a beautiful morning…


The apartment-sized washer and dryer in the corner of the kitchen were relatively new additions to Venice Place. For years Hutch had been content to let his housekeeper take his laundry out for cleaning, but after Starsky had been shot, he’d quickly used up all of his paid leave, and then he’d had to take a fair bit of unpaid leave as well. Funds had run low, and he’d been forced to let the housekeeper go, somewhat more to her dismay than his.

The washing machine was not an entirely adequate replacement, but at least it didn’t waste time mooning over his underwear.

Starsky was sorting his clothes on the kitchen table and Dawn was chopping vegetables for a stew, when she suddenly dropped the knife with a clatter and bolted for the bathroom.

He glanced over, and then froze in alarm. There was a large splash of bright red blood on the hardwood floor. His laundry forgotten, he quickly followed her.

“Dawn! Did you cut yourself? Are you okay?” he shouted at the closed bathroom door.

“No, I didn’t cut myself. And no, I’m not okay!” was her less than reassuring answer.

Starsky couldn’t imagine what had happened to her, if she hadn’t cut herself. Or rather, he could imagine it, but his mind simply didn’t want to go there. He shifted his weight anxiously, and almost lost his balance completely, having forgotten that his left leg would no longer co-operate with that sort of motion. His shoulder hit the wall and he braced himself against it. “Can I do something? What can I do? Do you need me to call an ambulance for you?”

He wanted Hutch. He needed Hutch. Hutch was the guy who ought to be dealing with this, but he was out on the road somewhere, without even a radio.

Dawn also wanted Ken very much at that moment. Blood was still running from her in a steady stream as she sat on the toilet, and thought of what it might mean terrified her. Am I losing the baby? Is this how a miscarriage starts? She could hear the panic in Dave’s voice as he continued to shout questions at her through the bathroom door, and oddly enough, it steadied her. If anyone in this apartment was going to completely lose their cool, it wasn’t going to be Dawn, not if she could help it, anyway.

Swallowing back the tears that threatened to undo her, she said, “I need you to get on the phone and call my doctor.”

Starsky had been trying to figure out how to tell if she was even conscious on the other side of the bathroom door when she finally answered. Relieved to have an assignment that did not involve having to enter the bathroom himself, he dialed the number she gave him. The doctor was with a patient, but the receptionist, on hearing Starsky’s unnerved and somewhat inarticulate description of what was happening to Dawn, went immediately to call him out to the phone.

Dawn could hear Dave talking to the doctor. “Yeah, it’s bright red. How much? Um… I guess maybe a quarter cup here… I know blood always looks like more than it is…” He raised his voice, “Dawn? Are you still bleeding? How much blood do you think you lost?”

She didn’t know. She didn’t know how to tell. The water in the toilet bowl was glaringly red, but the flow did seem to be slowing. After a moment, she said, “I’m still bleeding, but I think maybe it’s stopping. I don’t know how much.” As she spoke, the blood began to drip rather than trickle, and she amended her previous statement with, “It’s definitely stopping.” She buried her face in her hands, took a deep breath, and tried to remember where in the bathroom she had stashed the last of her supply of pads.

“He wants to know, more or less than a cup?”

“About that, maybe. Maybe less, maybe a little more. I don’t know!” She cut herself off, as her voice came dangerously close to sounding like a wail.

She heard Dave relay that information to the doctor, followed by a pause and then several more questions in quick order.

“How many weeks along are you?”

“Almost twenty-three.”

“Are there any clots or dark bits in the blood?”


“Have you felt any movements from the baby today?”

“I – I wasn’t paying attention. I know I felt some yesterday.”

“Are you feeling any cramps?”

“No…” She prodded her abdomen experimentally. “My stomach feels a little hard, but I’m also kind of tense right now. I don’t know if that means anything.”

There was a longer silence then, and then she heard Dave’s voice hit a higher register. “I can’t ask her that!” A brief pause followed by, “Aw, geez. Okay, okay, I’ll ask.” In a distinctly strangled voice, he said, “Um… Dawn? This morning, did you and Hutch, um… you know?”

Perched on the chair outside the bathroom door with the phone on his lap, Starsky clutched the handset with a grip as white-knuckled as if it were his last lifeline. Why couldn’t this happen when Hutch was here?

Her sharply blunt answer made him blush.

“Uh, yeah doc, that would be an affirmative,” he croaked into the phone. The doctor’s calm answer went a long way towards reassuring him. “Oh, yeah? Really?”

Pulling the phone away from his ear, he said to Dawn, “The doc says there’s a good chance you’ve got nothing to worry about, since you haven’t bled that much and it’s stopping now, and because sometimes, there’s conditions in pregnancy that can cause bleeding when you… um, you know.”

“It’s called sex, Dave. We had sex!”

Starsky tried desperately to ignore her irritable exclamation. It was clearly safer to stick to simply relaying the doctor’s instructions. “Anyway, he still wants to book you for an ultrasound right away. He says he can see you in an hour and a half, if you can be there.”

Having received an affirmative response from the other side of the bathroom door, he said, “Yeah, doc, I’ll make sure she gets there. See you at ten.”

Activity did a lot to settle his nerves. In the bedroom, he found a pair of what appeared to be her overalls on the bed. A bit of searching through drawers turned up a shirt and some underwear. He passed the entire bundle through the bathroom door to her. If he happened to have had his eyes closed when he did this, no one was in a position to tease him about it.

The kitchen floor received a quick mopping, followed by some spot cleaning of the rug using the baking soda he’d found in the door of Hutch’s fridge. This wasn’t the first instance where he’d had to clean up blood, but the circumstances this time were certainly unique. By the time she emerged, eyes puffy with hastily dried tears, and her stained clothes held gingerly away from her body, he’d nearly finished tidying up the apartment.

Dawn was relieved when Dave made no comment about either her appearance or the events of the past few minutes. He simply opened up the top of the washing machine and indicated that she should toss her clothes in. “If you wash ‘em right away,” he said, in a confidently practical manner, “you don’t have to do that whole ‘rub soap into ‘em and scrub’ thing to get the blood stains out.”

She regarded him thoughtfully, and then said, “I suppose you would know how to get blood out of clothing, wouldn’t you?”

He shrugged. “Hazards of the job, right? I’d go broke if I had to replace my clothing every time me or someone else went and bled or puked or did whatever all over it.” As he started the machine, he glanced over his shoulder and gave her a wink. “I can sew on buttons and fix a seam, too.”

Despite everything, she almost smiled. It would have better to have Ken here right now, but she found that she was still grateful that at least Dave had been around to give her a hand.

These reflective thoughts were interrupted as he handed her a tall glass of water. She looked at it and then up at him. “What’s this for?”

“Drink it up,” he said. “The doctor says you got to have a full bladder for the ultrasound. I figure if you drink all of this, and another after that, then you should be in pretty good shape by the time we get there.”

Yes, she was definitely grateful. She even thought that she might finally be starting to understand what it was that Hutch loved about this man.

Starsky made a quick call to the precinct, asking them to pass on a message to Hutch telling him to meet them in the Perinatal Services Clinic at Memorial. By the time he hung up, Dawn had finished her water and was back in the bathroom.

“We should go now,” he said through the door. “The traffic’s pretty bad, and I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get you there.”

She emerged with her make-up reapplied, and all traces of her earlier tears erased. She looked entirely composed, and he was impressed despite himself. Tough lady, he thought, as he escorted her to his car.

However, they weren’t four blocks from the house when he looked over to see a tear working its way silently down her cheek.

Starsky winced. Okay, possibly not so tough, after all. “Aw, look, maybe it’s not that bad…”

Her response was not directed at him; so much as it was a cry of despair encompassing everything that her life had become since the day she first met Ken Hutchinson. “Why do I have to love him so much?”

“Dawn, he loves you, too. This ain’t gonna change that,” Starsky said.

This time she focused directly on him, and her words carried a weight of sorrow that made him cringe. “No, he loves you. He only married me because of the baby.”

The traffic crawled slowly forward, as Starsky tried to think how he could unravel this mess. How on earth had she managed to get into this crummy a head space without Hutch noticing? Usually, the blond guy was better at figuring this stuff out and dealing with it. But then again, he could be pretty oblivious sometimes where his women were concerned. Maybe it was a good thing that he wasn’t here, after all.

Finally, Starsky said, “Okay, you’re right about one thing. He loves me and I love him. Heck, I’m closer to him than I am to my own brother.” He heard a small sniff from Dawn and continued hastily, “But, damn it, this ain’t some kind of competition! You’re his wife, and he loves you, too. All you have to do is see the way he looks at you to know that! He lights up every time he’s near you.”

There was a pause. And then Dawn retrieved a tissue from her purse and blew her nose. Quietly, she said, “Pale as that man is, it wouldn’t take much wattage to light him up.”

Starsky has a sudden vision of a glow-in-the-dark Hutch. He chuckled, and glanced over to see a faint answering smile on Dawn’s face. For once, he thought he could see what it was that Hutch loved about her.


Becky was at her desk trying to stem the tide of chaos threatening to overwhelm her record system, when Sandrine leaned over her shoulder and asked, “What did the reporter say?”

“What reporter?” asked Becky, distracted.

“The one that called yesterday,” said Sandrine, as if Becky ought to know all about it. “He said he was with the Gazette doing some kind of post-derailment profile series. He wanted to talk to you.”

Now Becky looked up. “Really?”

“Sure! I gave him your name and your phone number. Didn’t he call?”

“Nope,” said Becky. She shrugged, losing interest. “Maybe he found more interesting people to interview.”

“Oh well,” said Sandrine, disappointed. “It would have been fun to see you in the papers.” She patted Becky on the shoulder. “Don’t work too hard!”

Becky laughed, and then turned back to her files, the conversation already forgotten.


Next Page


Chapter Index