What the Id Doesn't Know
What fools indeed we morals are
To lavish care upon a Car,
With ne'er a bit of time to see
About our own machinery!
~John Kendrick Bangs
The Dream ambushed Starsky again the night after he broke his big toe. He woke up with a hard-on, and had his
hand wrapped around himself before he remembered that, first, he had a broken toe and it really hurt, and second, Hutch was
asleep on the couch, only a room away.
Starsky froze. Eyes open, staring into the dark, he listened. Hutch’s breathing sounded soft and even, with that little
whistling noise at the end that he only made when he was really and truly asleep.
He started to slide his hand out of his pajama pants and then stopped, his fingertips resting lightly on his crotch. Every
other time he’d had The Dream, he’d been alone. What he should do now was get out of bed and go shut himself
in the bathroom. Then he could jerk off in complete privacy.
Except, if he tried to get up, Hutch might notice.
His hand moved a little lower. His face felt warm, and he bit his lip.
An image from the dream surfaced in his memory, a smell of new leather and engine oil. Starsky immediately told himself he
shouldn’t be jerking off to something like that. It was beyond kinky. It was just plain wrong.
But still, he wrapped his hand around his cock, feeling his balls tighten in anticipation.
It was just a dream, right? He’d had it a few times, and it made him feel good, but that didn’t mean anything.
And besides, if he was very, very quiet, Hutch would never even know.
Starsky started slow, figuring he could quit any time he liked. Just a little squeeze and pull. Nothing fancy. This didn’t
have to go anywhere. His hand was hardly moving. Maybe in a few minutes, he’d even try getting to the bathroom.
Slow, slow... Hutch’s breathing changed, and there was a rustling noise, like he was turning over. Starsky’s
hand tightened reflexively and his breath caught in his throat. It was dark. Almost pitch black. Even if Hutch was looking
through the shelves, he wouldn't see anything... Hutch sighed and settled down again.
Definitely asleep. Starsky loosened his grip and began to slide his hand up and down a little faster this time. If this
took any longer, he’d stop. No point risking discovery. Any moment now, he was going to stop, because he wasn’t
having that much fun anyway...
Jeez, that felt good.
That felt really, really good.
Kinda made him think of The Dream again. Except he shouldn’t, because that wasn’t the kind of thing a regular
guy ought to get off on. So he tried not to think about it and focused instead on the electric feeling that started somewhere
at the top of his head and ended down around his toes, and in between he was shaking, shuddering, still silent, his hand suddenly
damp and sticky.
Hutch slept through the whole thing. He even slept through Starsky getting out of bed and hobbling to the bathroom. Starsky
thought that was a bit unfair. He could have saved himself a lot of anxiety if he’d known nothing was going to wake
Hutch up anyway.
Hutch listened to the sound of water running in the bathroom. Under other circumstances, he would have gotten up to help,
but the quick, harsh breathing that had wakened him had given him a pretty good idea of what was going on. He grinned to
himself at the idea that his partner was still having wet dreams at his age, and went back to sleep.
The morning after didn’t leave Starsky much time to reflect on the night before. There were phone calls to make, and
then the outrage of discovering that Dobey wanted him in and at a desk, being productive, broken foot and all. And on top
of that, Hutch had sold him out, telling Dobey that the break was “no big deal, he’s just got two toes taped together.”
“Traitor,” growled Starsky.
Hutch cracked an egg into the pan. Butter sizzled. “A few hours at a desk aren’t going to kill you. And we
can catch up on our paperwork.” He wiped his fingers fastidiously on his apron. It was yellow with large orange sunflowers
and a white ruffled edge.
“I broke my foot. Yesterday!”
“I didn’t know you’d started writing reports with your feet. Although that might explain a lot.”
“Funny guy,” said Starsky, sourly. He leaned back and glowered at Hutch. After a moment, though, his anger drained
away. It was hard to stay mad when Hutch was so obviously happy. He was humming to himself as he stirred the eggs, pushing
them to one side so he could add the bacon.
Domestic Hutch. A completely different creature from Tough Guy Hutch, who was another creature entirely from Hutch-in-love,
and Giddy Hutch, and all the rest. Starsky couldn’t think of one he didn’t like, unless it was Sarcastic Hutch
– but even that one had redeeming qualities, so long as it wasn’t him on the receiving end.
“Penny for your thoughts,” said Hutch, putting a plate down on the table in front of Starsky. Behind him, on
the counter, the toast popped up.
An evil impulse took hold of Starsky. “I was just thinking one day you’ll make someone a wonderful wife.”
Hutch looked blank for a moment. Then he grimaced. “You should talk. This is your apron.” He turned
and retrieved the toast, reaching for a knife.
“Yeah, but I never wear it.” Starsky was enjoying his first bite of eggs when the freshly buttered toast
flew across the kitchen and hit him in the forehead.
Hutch knew what he looked like. He also didn’t care. Aprons were practical, and he was not going to be so constrained
by society’s arbitrary rules that he’d risk getting grease on his only clean pair of pants.
If Starsky had a conservative streak a mile wide, that was his problem, not Hutch’s. He’d be happier if he loosened
up a little, and stopped dividing everything into ‘girl stuff’ and ‘boy stuff’.
Starsky had completely forgotten about The Dream. That is, until he stepped outside and saw her waiting for him curbside,
like a hooker trying to drum up business. Gleaming, almost gaudy in the sunlight. An open invitation to sin.
Hutch walked into him, bumping into his back. Starsky yelped and jumped. And then yelped some more as he landed on his broken
toe. He hopped forward until he ended up leaning on the only support around. The Torino. Her hood felt warm under his hands.
Just like in The Dream.
“What are you doing?” asked Hutch.
“I... uh,” Starsky was speechless. For a moment he could have sworn he’d felt the Torino laugh silently,
her body shaking.
“Look, I know you don’t like me driving your car,” said Hutch, patiently. “But remember what the
doctor said? You’ve got to stay off that foot. Two weeks.”
It was probably nothing more than the painkillers messing with his head, but for a moment he actually thought about telling
Hutch. He could say, “You’ll never believe what I dreamed last night...”
“I promise,” said Hutch, as they climbed into the car. “I'll treat your car like it’s my own baby.”
Starsky was assaulted by a horrifying vision of Hutch sweet talking the Torino. “I trust you,” he managed. “I
gave you my keys, didn’t I?” No, there was no possible way he could tell Hutch. If he knew what Starsky had
been dreaming about lately, he’d probably end up standing guard over the car with a shotgun.
Hutch gave him a brilliant smile, and started the car. The engine rumbled, the seats vibrated, and Starsky got an instant
He closed his eyes in despair. It was going to be a long day.
Hutch snuck a worried peek at Starsky before returning his attention to the road. His partner didn’t look good. In
fact, he looked miserable.
He tried one more time to lighten the mood. Lifting his hands briefly from the wheel, he said, “See, ma? No accidents!”
Starsky just shook his head, silently.
Hutch tried to remember if he’d done anything particularly horrible to his own car lately. The shocks needed replacing,
but that was nothing new. And the door had fallen off, but he’d replaced it right away, and the color almost
If Starsky had broken his toe in a car accident, Hutch might have understood. But all he had done was trip over his own sneakers
while running after a three time loser.
Something was up.
That evening, Starsky said, “Why don’t we start driving your car instead?”
Hutch paused, his hand on the ignition. “You really don’t want me behind the wheel of your car, do you?”
“No,” said Starsky. “It’s not that.”
“Is it something I did?”
“No.” Starsky was at a loss. How could he explain this, without sounding like a nutcase? And a sexually perverted
nutcase, at that. The Dream had been just a mild nuisance before, nothing more than an eccentric little glitch in his brain.
So sometimes he dreamed about doing his car. Big deal. Probably happened to most guys, right? Except for maybe Hutch, because
who’d ever want to screw an ugly old heap like his? Two minutes in and the horn would probably get stuck, and then
the doors would fall off.
But after last night... Starsky felt his groin tighten again and he hastily reached for the door handle. He had to get outside.
Hutch leaned out the window, looking up at him as he hobbled around the front of the car. “So, you want me to take
a cab home?”
“No!” Starsky wasn’t sure about much, but he knew the Torino was in safe hands with Hutch. “No,
you can just take her with you. I’ll get her from you in a few days, when I’m allowed to drive again.”
The look Hutch gave him was deeply perplexed. Starsky pasted a bright smile on his face, and after a moment Hutch shrugged.
Starsky watched the Torino disappear down the road with a mixed sense of relief and loss. Some time apart would be good for
both of them, he told himself.
Hutch drove home slowly, trying to make sense of what had just happened. There was something Starsky wasn’t telling
He parked the Torino behind his own car and regarded the two of them speculatively. He liked to tell Starsky that he valued
substance over style, and he did, but the truth of the matter was that the Torino was the better car. It was loved, and that
love showed in the sheen of its paint and the way its motor purred... most of the time. And when it didn’t, Starsky
would bankrupt himself paying for repairs.
And yet he’d abruptly turned his car over to Hutch’s keeping, an act completely out of character.
Hutch’s step acquired a new bounce as he headed up the stairs to his apartment. He liked mysteries, especially ones
that had to do with Starsky. Even after all these years, he didn’t know everything there was to know about his partner.
Starsky went to bed determined not to dream of the Torino. As he drifted off, he fantasized about large-breasted, enthusiastic
women. Amazons, wearing nothing more than white loincloths. Red haired and shiny, with chrome detailing...
He approached her from the rear, running his hands over her trunk and feeling the responsive vibration of her engine. She
was humming, the parking brake holding her in place.
Stop, he thought.
The Dream is only a dream, he immediately responded, though he wasn’t a hundred percent sure of that.
What if someone saw?
But he wanted her so badly. And if it really was only a dream, then he could do what he wanted. Her tailpipe was
warm and dark and welcoming, and oddly flexible...
Starsky woke up in bed with sticky sheets and an enormous sense of guilt.
Hutch watched Starsky with fascination. His partner definitely had something on his mind. He was draped over Hutch’s
couch, looking pensively at the ceiling and ignoring the open pizza box on the coffee table.
Hutch allowed himself one brief moment to appreciate the esthetics of Starsky – the lean line of leg and hip... And
then he cleared his throat, pointedly.
Starsky looked over at him.
Starsky blinked, and then reached for a slice. Hutch leaned back in his armchair and folded his hands over his stomach.
He thought of something, and laughed aloud.
“What?” asked Starsky, eyebrows raised.
Hutch steepled his fingers. “Tell me about your mudder,” he said in his best Austrian accent.
Hutch decided it was too much trouble to explain. “You’ve got something on your mind. Want to tell me about
it?” The direct approach sometimes worked best with Starsky.
Starsky grimaced. “Nope.” He contemplated the slice of pizza in his hand before putting it back in the box with
Hutch waited. He knew Starsky almost always cracked under the silent treatment. Sure enough, a few minutes later, Starsky
said, “If a car was a person, what do you figure would be the heart?”
It took Hutch a moment to respond. “I suppose, the engine?” He might have guessed this had something to do with
“Heart and brain, maybe. Gas would be the car’s blood. Headlights are eyes. And the gas tank would be like
a stomach. And the exhaust pipe...”
Hutch chuckled. "Well, I'm sure your mother had some nice, polite euphemism for butthole—" He stopped abruptly. Had
Starsky just... flinched?
“I’ve been having dreams,” said Starsky, abruptly.
“Okay...,” said Hutch, slowly.
“They won’t stop!”
“I’ve been dreaming about...,” Starsky paused and then said quickly, “M'car.”
“What?” asked Hutch.
Hutch had the strangest feeling of being suddenly out of his depth.
Starsky covered his face with both hands and said, “I’ve been dreaming I’ve been doing... stuff. To my
Stuff. When Starsky said ‘stuff’ like that, he didn’t mean driving fast, or rotating the tires. He meant
‘stuff,’ such as you did with a beautiful lady. In bed. A bark of laughter escaped Hutch before he could
Starsky sat up abruptly, his expression outraged. “I knew you’d laugh!”
Hutch flapped a calming hand at him. “Relax. Is that why you’ve got your car in my driveway? Because you’re
afraid you’ll molest it?”
“No, I wouldn’t, I mean... Geez!” Starsky’s shoulders squared and he straightened. “Besides,
I don’t even think it’d be possible.”
Hutch nodded, biting his lip to keep from grinning. “I imagine there’d be... sharp edges.” And depending
on what exactly he did to the car, and when, there’d be a good chance of encountering hot metal, too. Hutch’s
cheeks were starting to hurt from the effort of keeping a straight face.
Starsky glared at him.
“Oh come on, Starsk!” Hutch took a deep breath, thinking quickly. “This isn’t about the car.”
“It isn’t?” The expression on Starsky's face was cautiously hopeful.
Hutch reached for the Freud he’d studied in Psych 101. It was about sex. Everything was about sex. Even dreams of
flying. But not sex with a car, because as fond as Starsky was of the Torino, he just wasn’t that adventurous. “No,
you’ve obviously got a crush on someone--.”
“I don’t get crushes!”
Hutch ignored him, trying to refine his theory. “And it’s someone you shouldn’t be thinking about sexually.
Or at least, that’s what you believe.”
“Go on,” said Starsky.
“So you’ve gone and put your... internal conflict onto your car. The car’s a symbol for the person you’re
fixated on.” Over a decade since he’d been in college, and he still had it.
“You think?” Without taking his eyes from Hutch, Starsky reached for the slice of pizza he’d had earlier.
“I’m sure of it.” Hutch nodded confidently. “Standard psychological theory. It’s called transference.”
Starsky took a bite. “Okay.”
“The trick now,” said Hutch, rubbing his hands together, “is figuring out who you’ve fallen for.
I hope it’s not Edith Dobey.”
Starsky almost choked. “No!”
“Why not?” asked Hutch. “She’s--.”
“She’s a mom,” interrupted Starsky. “And she’s Dobey’s wife. There’s no
way. Anyway, who says we have to figure out who it is? Now I know it’s not the Torino, I can sleep soundly.”
That night, when Starsky made love to the Torino, it whispered his name in a disturbingly familiar voice.
Hutch tilted his head, trying to see around Minnie’s hip. Yes, Starsky had definitely just checked out her ass.
“You need to stop starving your partner,” said Minnie, handing a stack of files to Hutch. “That boy’s
looking positively peaked.”
“Thanks,” said Hutch. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Starsky looked up at her pathetically, clearly hoping for a kiss. He got his cheek pinched instead.
“Is it her?” asked Hutch, after Minnie had left.
Starsky lost his smile. “No.”
“I mean, she’s not the type you usually go for, but-.”
“No, no, and no!” said Starsky. He reached for one of the files. “Minnie’s like a sister to me.”
“You’d stare at your sister’s ass?”
“I don’t know,” said Starsky, opening the file. “I don’t have a sister.” He frowned
at the first page, and then closed the folder and reached for another. “But if I did have a sister, that'd be…
very bad.” He shuddered.
Hutch shook his head. He hoped the woman Starsky had fallen for wasn’t completely unsuitable. If she was married...
Hutch grimaced. He wasn’t looking forward to nursing Starsky through another round of heartache. After Terry, and
Rosie, and Meredith... There was only so much drunken Monopoly a man could play.
Starsky knew he shouldn’t have told him. Hutch had that excited look he got sometimes, like he’d turned into
an enormous hunting dog and he’d just found the scent. Super Sleuth Hutch. Even the mildest flirtatious comment to
a waitress had him leaning over the table, asking, “Is it her?”
Three days of constant pursuit, and Starsky was beginning to feel trapped. Adding to his stress was the fact that The Dream
hadn’t stopped. It had simply gotten weirder. Last night he’d ended up beneath the Torino, with the car doing
things to him that were just plain unnatural.
Cars shouldn’t have... appendages like that. Especially not girl cars.
“Well?” asked Hutch.
Starsky glanced over at the waitress, who was wiping down another table. Pretty enough, but... “No.”
Hutch rubbed his mouth, thoughtfully. “Maybe we’re looking at this wrong.”
“Maybe looking is what’s wrong.” Starsky picked up a french fry and examined it dubiously. “Maybe
we ought to just forget the whole thing.” He put the fry down.
“Starsk,” said Hutch. “You’re off your food. Ignoring it isn’t going to help.”
Starsky grabbed the fry and shoved it in his mouth, chewing defiantly.
Hutch rolled his eyes.
Starsky took another fry. It didn’t smell very good, but he ate it anyway.
“I wonder,” said Hutch. “What if it’s not a girl you’ve got a crush on?”
It took Hutch the better part of three hours to track his partner down, the process complicated by the fact that Starsky had
stolen his car. He bummed a ride back to Venice Place from a patrolman, and took the Torino. No luck at Starsky’s
place, and Huggy hadn’t seen him, either. Which pretty much left the beach – miles and miles of it, although
Hutch had a feeling he could rule out any of the more popular spots.
He almost missed his car, tucked out of the way behind a sand dune. Starsky was sitting on the hood, looking out over the
water. He didn’t react when Hutch pulled up and stopped beside him.
Hutch didn’t get out of the car immediately. He fingered the rabbit’s foot hanging off Starsky’s key chain,
and regarded his partner thoughtfully.
Hutch liked to think of himself as broad-minded. This was the seventies, after all, and a whole new world. The way people
communicated, played, dreamed… Even morality had changed. Things his parents had considered unspeakable were becoming
commonplace. But the idea that Starsky might have fallen for another guy...
At first Hutch had felt sick.
But then he’d stopped, and tried saying the words aloud. Another guy. As opposed to himself.
Oh sure, there was Dobey and Huggy, and the rest of their friends and colleagues, but there was only one guy Starsky was really
attached to. Only one guy he loved. “Closer to me than my brother,” he’d said.
Hutch got out of the car, and walked over to his partner.
Starsky scooted over, making room. Hutch accepted the wordless invitation and sat down beside him on the hood of the car.
The sun was setting across the bay, turning the low-lying smog bright orange.
“Is it me?” he asked, finally.
“I’m sorry,” said Starsky.
“Oh, thank God!” said Hutch, fervently. It wasn’t what he’d meant to say at all. He’d had
a whole speech in mind about being open-minded and learning to accept yourself.
Starsky gave him a startled glance. “Huh?”
On second thought, the simple truth might be better than a lecture. “I was worried it might be someone else.”
“I’m a pervert, Hutch.”
“You love me.”
Starsky punched him in the thigh. Hard. “Stop grinning!”
“I’m not making fun of you,” said Hutch, rubbing his leg. He was going to have a bruise there later, he
was sure of it. “It’s just... You really love me!”
“And you’re happy about that?” Starsky sounded disbelieving.
“Of course I’m happy,” said Hutch. “What’s there not to be happy about? You love me!”
He could feel a warm glow igniting in his chest.
“You keep saying that. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
For Christ’s sake, thought Hutch, impatiently. Reaching over, he grabbed the back of Starsky’s head and planted
a firm kiss on his open mouth. Then he released him. “Is that what it means?”
Starsky spluttered and choked.
“Was it—” Hutch sniggered, and then caught himself. “Was it that bad?” Surely not, to judge
by the look on Starsky’s face, and – he glanced down quickly – in his pants, too.
Hutch held his breath. The world was still spinning on its axis, but at a whole new angle, and he wasn’t sure if he
should cheer, dance, or run for his life.
Then the corner of Starsky’s mouth twitched, and a moment later he smiled. “You’re a lousy kisser, Hutchinson.”
“Wanna make out in my car?” Hutch tried to bat his eyes, and then dissolved into more laughter.
“Your car? Hell, no!”
Starsky was very familiar with Hutch-in-love – it was just another one of the many faces of his partner. However, having
that intensity directed his way was an entirely different experience from watching it focus on some pretty girl. It was like
being caught in the beam of the searchlight. As Hutch kissed him again, he thought he finally understood why Abby had run.
And why Gillian had risked everything to stay.
He shoved Hutch back. “If someone sees us--.”
“I’ll tell them it’s therapy.” Hutch was grinning.
“Huh?” Starsky was trying to remove Hutch’s hand from his thigh.
“You want to get rid of those dreams, right?”
The Dream. Just the mention of it made Starsky’s groin swell. He groaned, feeling the warm hood of Hutch’s car
under his jeans.
Hutch leaned forward, and Starsky backed up, irrationally panicked. All of a sudden he lost traction, slid off the car, and
hit the sand with a thump. He looked up to see Hutch peering over the hood.
“Are you okay?” asked Hutch, sounding worried.
Starsky glanced around. All he could see was sand, water. Long shadows stretching across the beach. There was not another
soul around, except for Hutch. The only sounds he could hear were waves and the distant hum of city traffic. And all he
could smell was salt and the heat of the Torino’s engine.
He looked up and saw Hutch, with the wind in his hair, blond strands catching the reflection of the setting sun.
Starsky felt his panic ease, like a knot abruptly coming untied. He reached up and caught Hutch’s collar, pulling him
down off the car. They landed in a heap together, laughing. Even when Starsky jammed his sore toe against the wheel of the
Torino, he barely noticed. He rolled on top of Hutch, and kissed him – properly, this time.
Hutch tasted like coffee and gum. His cheeks were sandpaper rough. But the best part about him was his eyes, which were
creased in the corners as if he was still laughing silently.
“Why now?” asked Hutch, sounding breathless.
Starsky knew what he meant. Why now, why not ten years ago, what’s changed?
“I had a dream,” he said. And after he’d woken up, he’d jerked off in bed with Hutch a few feet away
on the couch.
It had always been about Hutch, he’d just never realized it before. He thought he’d like to tell Hutch about
that, too, but not just now.
Because now Hutch had his fingers inside the top of Starsky’s jeans, undoing the button, and all Starsky could think
was, God, it felt good. It felt perfect. It felt like it should last forever.
That night, Starsky dreamed of Hutch.
And when he opened his eyes, there was Hutch, propped up on one elbow and looking down at him with a smile on his face.
“Good dream?” asked Hutch.