Previous Page


Part Five, Chapter Six

It was so easy, it was almost disappointing. The big blond pig went down with the knife in his leg, and the game was over, just like that.

Of course, one of things he’d learned was that the end of one diversion really only means the beginning of another. And Reg promised himself he’d make sure this one lasted longer. Some things are meant to be savored.

Now, see that? The pig was trying to bring up that little gun of his. Probably thought he was going to shoot him. Reg quickly put an end to that foolish notion, slamming the heel of his boot down on the pig’s hand and giving it that extra little twist to make him release the gun.

He liked the sound the pig made when he did that.


Agony clawed at the edges of Hutch’s mind, the pain in his leg tearing at his consciousness with sharp nails, threatening to sever his awareness. He struggled to regain his equilibrium in the maelstrom.

His right hand was pinned under Reg’s boot. He yanked at it, throwing his head back, the effort lifting his shoulders and hips up off the ground. But he could not find enough traction in the sand and the struggle jostled the knife in his thigh.

He could not tell whether it was the sudden flaring pain or the sound of the metal blade scraping against bone that sent that sickening wave of nausea through him, but he immediately began coughing, gagging on the bitter bile in his throat. Giving up on extricating himself from under Reg’s boot, he instead groped for the knife, his free hand closing over the handle. It was warm and sticky with blood.

The pressure suddenly eased off of his right hand, but his relief was short lived. Almost simultaneously, a crushing weight landed on him, driving the air out of his lungs. He lost his tenuous grip on the knife as his heel slipped and his legs straightened involuntarily. The handle hit the sand, driving the blade further into his thigh. He gasped, choking as the back of his head hit the coarse ground.

When he opened his eyes, he found himself looking directly into Reg’s face, locked as they were in a hideous parody of a lover’s embrace. The man was lying on top of him with his full weight on Hutch’s chest, his hand gripping his wrist, immobilizing him. Suddenly unwilling to keep staring at that leering grin, Hutch twisted his head to the side. Starsky’s gun was lying on the sand. It was only a few feet away, but it might as well have been in the next county for all the good it could do him now.

Reg’s breath was hot on the side of his face. He smelled foul, a combination of sweat and desire that made Hutch’s stomach knot.

“Not so tough now, are you, piggy?”  Reg thrust his hips forward, grinding himself against his prisoner.

Hutch silently bucked, grimly trying to bring his legs up under himself. His heels dug into the sand, small shells cracking under his dress shoes. Reaching down with his free hand, he once more found the hilt of the knife and grasped it. It was slippery now, fresh blood running down over his hand. He squeezed it firmly, determined not to lose his grip this time, and felt the hot liquid ooze between his fingers.

Before he could pull it out, before he could even consider using it on the man above him, a large meaty fist closed over his hand. Despite his earlier determination not to look, Hutch’s head turned back. As their eyes met, the corners of Reg’s eyes crinkled with amusement and he deliberately forced the blade deeper into Hutch’s thigh.

Hutch gasped and shuddered, his eyes tearing.

“Don’t move,” whispered Reg. “You’ll only make it hurt more.”

His voice was soothing, even affectionate.

“You really should have left Freddy alone, you know. If you’d just minded your own business and not chased him out of that shop, I wouldn’t have had to try to kill you. You and I would have gone on our separate ways.” He paused thoughtfully, and then added, “But of course, if you hadn’t then we wouldn’t be having this special moment right now. And that would be a shame, wouldn’t it?”

Hutch did not answer. He was breathing in short quick pants, trying to bring the pain under control so that he could assess the situation a little more logically. He was nearly as tall as Reg, but the other man was much heavier and far more muscular. He could hear himself telling Starsky, I used to wrestle in college, but that skill was of little use in this situation. His hands were pinned, he had no strength in his left leg, and he couldn’t get any traction on the unstable ground with his right.

Oh, Starsk. I’m sorry…

“You’re pussy-whipped, you know,” continued Reg. “That’s the problem with all of you. You let women run your lives.  You think that they love you, but really all they’re doing is using you. They’ll take your money, and your manhood, and when you’ve got nothing left, they’ll move right on to the next sucker on their list.”

Reg was enjoying himself immensely. Whether the tears rimming the cop’s eyes were from pain or fear, he didn’t know and he didn’t care. It was enough that they were there in the first place. Reg wondered why he had restricted himself to women in the first place. They always submitted much too soon. They pleaded and blubbered and let the snot run over their faces. It was disgusting. This was different. Breaking this one’s pride was going to be one of the most satisfying projects he’d ever undertaken.

There was a whole world of pleasure opening up to Reg that he had never before suspected existed. He felt a warm rush of gratitude toward the man pinned beneath him.  Gratitude, and desire so intense he wasn’t sure he’d last until the cop weakened enough to allow him to take what he needed.

Generously, he said, “I’ll let them give you a proper funeral before I go after your wife. She didn’t look like she was quite ready to pop anyway, so I figure I got me a couple weeks to get my hands on the two for one special. I wonder, if I cut her breasts, will I get blood or milk?”

He finally seemed to have hit a nerve. Reg felt the man under him jerk, trying again to unseat him. He jammed his foot down on the man’s ankle, forcing the leg straight and eliciting another pained grunt from his victim.

He decided to pursue this topic of conversation, since it seemed to be a fruitful one.

“Then there’s that little girl. She seems so sweet, doesn’t she? Like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. I like her kind. Trainable. With a little encouragement, they’ll do anything you ask and they’ll even thank you for it. Not like that foul-mouthed roommate of hers.” Reg grimaced, slight annoyance crossing his features. Anna had been less than satisfying. He’d only intended to silence her cursing, not break her neck, and she had died much too soon to give him the release he needed.

“As for your partner…? I think I’ll leave him for last. He needs to learn some humility, don’t you agree?”  It occurred to Reg that breaking the darker half of the partnership might be an even sweeter project than this one.  He’d seen something in his eyes earlier that suggested a certain vulnerability, ripe to be exploited.

The answer to his question was ground out between clenched teeth. “Fuck… you.”

Hutch tensed as he saw Reg’s eyes narrow, a thin amused grin stretching across his face.  He had a wretched feeling that by rising to the bait, he’d just played right into the man’s hands.  Reg’s fist suddenly tightened over his and his wrist rotated, forcing the blade to twist in the wound.

Hutch’s nerves shrieked as they were scraped raw. It was an electric sensation that threw all of his muscles into contraction at once. He convulsed, unaware that he was very nearly succeeding in throwing Reg off after all, as a hoarse scream ripped itself from his throat.


Monster’s head shot up, his ears angling forward. He stood absolutely still for a moment and then his head and tail dropped and his ears flattened back against his skull.

Starsky killed the engine of the car as the dog suddenly jumped over the short concrete retaining wall and took off down the beach toward the waterfront. He was running low to the ground, silent, with an appearance of intent concentration.

“Damn!” Starsky fumbled with the car door, intending to follow on foot. Then common sense returned, he thought better of that plan, and he reached for the ignition, restarting the car.

For the last several minutes, he’d been creeping down the road toward the docks at less than five miles an hour as Monster scouted up and down, snuffling at the gravel, doubling back and generally looking utterly lost. It had been one of the most frustrating exercises of Starsky’s entire career, and before Monster took off, he had just finished promising himself that he would never, ever, under any circumstances, ever volunteer for a K-9 unit.

And now it seemed that Monster finally had a grip on some sort of a lead but, whatever it was, it was taking him off the road and into the dunes where the Torino couldn’t follow.

On the other hand, based on the angle at which the dog was running, it looked as if he might be headed down under the piers. Starsky could certainly drive onto the dock. From there it would be much easier to climb over the retaining wall and drop down underneath, than it would be to cross the dunes.

Soft, sandy dunes, on a leg that was untrustworthy on its best day. Hell, it’d probably take me all week if I tried following the dog. Far better indeed, to simply cut him off at the pass.

Starsky gunned the Torino and pulled forward as quickly as he could. Workable plan or not, it still bothered him that he’d lost sight of Monster. I should have tied a rope to that damn dog.

He desperately hoped that Monster actually had a lead on Hutch, and wasn’t just taking off after some seagull, or dead fish, or something.

Though Starsky had no way of knowing it, Monster had been a terrible disappointment to his original owner. He was the last in a succession of dogs purchased by the old man for the purpose of sport hunting. He was a mutt, certainly, but he was strong, intelligent, had a good disposition and came from a mother who’d been a decent hunter herself. All of these traits should have boded well for his future career. Yet despite all of his master’s efforts, he could not be incited to give voice when on the trail of his prey.

When Monster went after something he went after it with the low silent speed of a killer. His soul was not that of a loyal and obedient hunter, it was closer to that of his wolfish ancestors. He could be set on an antelope, but by the time his human companion tracked him down, the antelope would have been reduced to its component parts, meat and hide utterly ruined.

His first owner might have found another home for him then, and purchased a different dog, except for the fact that Monster had already proved to be a charming, lovable, and entirely endearing companion. And a series of illnesses put an end to the old man’s hunting days shortly thereafter, rendering the entire debate moot.

We’re perfect for each other, aren’t we, buddy? thought Starsky, ruefully, as he stopped the car at the first pier. Me with no gun and no balance, and you with arthritis and half your teeth gone. ‘Course, you got all the important ones… he added, silently, thinking of the dog’s long yellow fangs. I don’t know what the hell we can do to help Hutch, but I know we’ve gotta try.


“Had enough?” asked Reg, his voice a crooning whisper in Hutch’s ear.

Yes, Hutch’d had entirely enough. He’d had enough of pain, and of anguish, and of frustration. He’d had enough of Reg’s lunatic excuses and pathetic rationalizations for his sick behavior. Hutch’s disgust with the entire situation had reached nearly unbearable intensity, when Reg, drunk on his own dominance and power, foolishly leaned in as close as a lover.

In that moment, Hutch suddenly realized that he still had one weapon left.

Bucking forward with all the strength he had, Hutch bit deeply into the side of Reg’s neck. He felt tendons slide sickeningly as his teeth tore through the skin, and a sour salt taste flooded his mouth.

Reg yelled and jerked backward, his grip on Hutch’s hands loosening in his shock at the unexpected attack. Hutch yanked on the knife in his leg, and felt it give.

As the blade came free, Reg, ever interested in his own self-preservation, rolled off of his now re-armed victim, and scrambled backwards. The agony in Hutch’s leg seemed to be sending off lightning sparks, blinding him utterly, but he couldn’t afford to waste time lying on the sand, hurting. He threw himself over onto his hands and tried to push himself upright, dragging a dead leg. Sensing Reg nearby, he struck out with the knife, overbalanced, and landed on his face on the sand. But he’d felt the blade connect, however superficially, and he grinned with a fierce sense of victory.

Distantly, through the roaring in his head, he could hear the man cursing.

There was a sharp shell digging into his cheek. He had to move. Once more he levered himself up onto his feet. His left leg refused to support him, and he stumbled. His shoulders hit something he identified as wire mesh fencing, and he pushed himself along it until he came to a solid concrete pillar. Unable to continue, he sank down onto the sand, one knee bent, the wounded leg extended straight before him, trying to make himself as small a target as he could.

“Don’t think you’re so clever, Hutchinson!” yelled Reg, his voice hoarse with anger. “I’ve still got the gun!”

Hutch’s senses cleared and he discovered that he’d squeezed himself into a small space between a pier and the fence. He could feel a pulsing, throbbing sensation in his leg, and his strength seemed to be draining away with each passing moment. He knew he was losing too much blood, too quickly. Placing the knife down on the sand, he began struggling with his belt. His fingers were clumsy, numb with fatigue and weakness.

“I’ll have you know, that was disgusting!” said Reg from somewhere behind him. Not too close, though.

Hutch quietly spat, trying to clear the foul taste from his mouth, as he wrapped the belt above the wound in his leg. He agreed completely. It was disgusting. He hesitated slightly, and then tightened the belt as much as he could. It hurt just as much as he’d anticipated. More actually.

Reg heard the whimper he was unable to suppress and laughed. “Are you in much pain?”

From the strength of his voice, he was doing all right himself. Hutch resigned himself to the knowledge that he’d done very little real damage with either his teeth or the knife.

The coarse sand crunched under Reg’s boots. He was moving closer. Hutch concentrated on pulling off his shirt, trying to move quickly. For once he was grateful Reg liked to take his time, talking, taunting, and tormenting his victims.

“I don’t have to shoot, you know. You got such a big hole in your leg, I figure all I got to do is wait awhile. You lose enough blood and you won’t have any more fight in you than a rag doll. Or a piglet.” He paused and Hutch could almost hear the laughter in his voice as he said, “Now I wonder what it would do to your partner, and your lovely wife, if they were to find you nailed up somewhere without your skin? I wonder if I could do it without killing you right away?”

He was only a few feet away now. Hutch tied a final knot into the arms of the shirt he’d used to bandage his leg. He tried not to think of how much sand and crud there had to have been on the makeshift dressing. Infection was the least of his worries at the moment. It hurts so damn much!

As he picked up the knife again, he dragged his forearm across his stinging eyes, trying to remove at least some of the sweat and tears. He sensed Reg standing silently on the other side of the pillar, as he wearily pushed himself up onto his feet.

I guess it all comes down to this. If I’m going to die, I have to take him with me. I can’t let him hurt anyone else.


Starsky moved towards the concrete retaining wall, listening intently. He’d heard voices under the dock, he was sure of it. Finding a place where the wall had crumbled, the sand and debris piling up against it, he lowered himself over and let himself drop down.

He didn’t land on his feet, but it didn’t matter. The ground was soft enough. The ankle wasn’t broken, just wrenched a little.  He stayed where he’d fallen, crouched low, his eyes searching the area around him.

It was dark. The shadows were long and the light slanting in over the water cast strange reflections on the underside of the pier.

He had never missed his gun so much as he did in that moment.

It was Hutch’s blond head that he spotted first, as always. He used to tease him about it, asking him how he could sneak up on anything with hair like that. It was like something out of one of those nature shows, a white-tailed deer or a cotton-tailed rabbit. A flash of something so startlingly out of place that you couldn’t help seeing it.

Hutch was huddled against a concrete pillar, crammed between it and some wire fencing. Starsky spotted Reg a moment later, and staggered up onto his feet to take cover behind his own pillar. The large man did not seem to have noticed him. He was talking to Hutch.

Hutch was hurt. It had to be bad, from the noises he was making. He was hurt and he thought he was alone, and Reg was saying things to him that would be enough to drive most people right out of their heads. When he got to the part about seeing how long a man could live if you skinned him…

Starsky crossed his arms over his chest, trying to hold the shattered pieces of his heart and soul together. Hard as this was to listen to, there was no way he could just go charging in. He had no gun, he was about as fast as a three legged tortoise, and Reg could kick his rear without even blinking. He wouldn’t be helping Hutch at all by turning himself into a hostage.

All he could do was wait for an opening, and hope for an opportunity.


The order had been to find Hutch, but Monster had long ago dismissed that from his mind. He had a new target.

He knew this man. This was the one who had burned his nose and thrown him out of his own home. He’d scared his mistress and made the man she lived with bleed. He’d nailed a dead thing to the door of Monster’s house. And now he stood there with a hateful, threatening sound in his voice, and the other, a friend, was hurting.

It was all coming back to him now, all the rules of the hunt imprinted in his genetic memory, a gift of his vulpine ancestry. Stay low, move swift and come up on the prey from behind. The wind should have been at his muzzle, not his tail, but there was little he could do about that with the breeze blowing directly off the sea.

The other man, the one he’d begun to think of as his master, was standing very still in the shadows. Monster glanced at him once, wondering if he would call him off, as had so often happened on other hunts when he was younger. To his joy, the man simply nodded at him approvingly. He had permission!

Monster skirted the edge of the fence, gathered his haunches under himself and leapt.


It took a moment for Hutch to identify what he was seeing. For a moment, in the darkness, it seemed that Monster was truly living up to his name. He slunk across the sands like a creature out of a nightmare, something predatory and dangerous. Then the shadows coalesced and Hutch realized that he was looking at Becky’s dog.

And behind him, his hand on the fence, was Starsky.

If Reg had been any less cocksure and self-centered, he would have noticed that Hutch’s gaze had shifted to something behind him. He might have even noticed relief in his victim’s eyes. However, after so many deaths and so little resistance, he had become bloated with his own perception of his power. He only saw what he expected to see, which was a man, alone, wounded and helpless.

Monster charged and Hutch moved in the same instant. Monster barreled into Reg just as Hutch came up inside of his reach.  He knocked Reg’s gun arm into the air the same instant he fired. Grabbing Reg’s wrist, Hutch dug his fingers into the nerve cluster, forcing him to release the pistol.

He tried to remember if there were one or two rounds left in the clip. Somewhere along the line, he’d lost count, and it seemed very important all of a sudden that he know.

Monster’s initial leap had been overly optimistic considering his age and agility. Instead of impacting high on Reg’s shoulders, forcing him to the ground, and ripping into his spinal column, he had instead, rather disappointingly, sunk his teeth into the seat of his pants. Reg spun, trying to dislodge the snarling animal.

Finally managing to grab hold of Monster’s collar, Reg ripped the animal free and flung it away from himself. The dog landed heavily on his side and struggled to regain his feet, only to find himself restrained by familiar hands. If he had been younger, he would have pulled away and insisted on continuing the fight, but he was old now and not as hot-blooded as he’d once been. Reluctantly, he obeyed the implicit command to wait.

“Give it up, Reg,” said Starsky, coldly. “We’ve got you covered.”

Reg stopped, realizing his predicament. On the one side of him, with the glittering ocean at his back, stood Starsky with a firm grip on the large dog’s collar. The animal was making a continuous rumbling snarl that sounded as if it was coming from somewhere deep in his chest. On the other side, in the shadows, stood Hutch, the gun trained on him, looking surprisingly steady on his feet, considering the hole he’d had gouged into his leg.

Reg shrugged, and smiled. He held his hands up, palms out in the universal symbol of surrender.  “All right. You got me. I give up.”

He was disappointed, but philosophical. There would be other times, and other opportunities. Let the cops arrest him. Let them believe they’d won. He could probably get Hutchinson on some sort of assault charge for biting him. And eventually there would have to be a psych evaluation.

Reg was planning what he would tell the psychologist, debating with himself whether having voices in his head would be too hackneyed a line to run on them, when he suddenly noticed that Starsky was no longer looking at him. He had his head down, and he was rubbing the dog’s neck, calming him. He looked nothing at all like a man holding a dangerous criminal at bay. Instead, he looked very much as if he was trying to pretend that he was utterly unaware of Reg’s existence.

Confused, Reg glanced back at Hutch. The blonde man had moved closer, angling himself slightly to the side so that Starsky and the dog were out of the line of fire. Something about the cop’s eyes, and the utter lack of expression in his face, unnerved Reg. For the first time in his life, he felt genuine fear.

As Reg stared at him, Hutch moved the pistol up to aim at a spot right between his eyes. He found himself looking directly down into the barrel of the gun, blacker than a pit and absolutely endless.

“What are you doing?” he asked, his voice rising frantically. “You’re a cop! You’ve got to arrest me! You can’t…”

Starsky closed his eyes, his fingers tightening in Monster’s ruff, as the gunshot cracked and the echoes shattered in pieces down around them.

It was the loudest sound he’d ever heard in his life.


Next Page


Chapter Index