got to be joking,” said Hutch.
Starsky gave the
Jiffy Pop a shake, before placing it back down on the stove element. The silver
foil container was well expanded, but he was sure there were some unpopped kernels left.
Hutch grabbed the
handle out of his hand. “Don’t leave it on that long. You’ll burn it.”
“Hey!” Starsky tried to grab it back, but it was too late.
The popcorn gave three more desultory pops then subsided. “If I
break a tooth, you’re paying for the dentist.”
for Ford. You can pay your own bills.”
Hutch upended the popcorn into a bowl and shook salt over it.
himself up to sit on the counter. “I would have voted for Ronald Reagan.” He mimed an old West style quick draw. “Pow! But he didn’t get the nomination.”
“A movie star. You would have voted for a movie star?”
Hutch shook his head. “Figures.”
his feet against the counter. “Okay, Mr. Smarty-pants. Tell me why you voted for a guy with no experience. A guy
who believes even just thinking about another woman counts as adultery? Carter’s a moron.”
Hutch took the bowl
of popcorn out into the living room and turned on the TV. “He’s not
the only one.”
that supposed to mean?” Starsky hopped down and followed Hutch into the
saying I’m disappointed, Starsk,” said Hutch, settling down onto the couch.
“I would have thought you’d want a fresh start for our country. Ford
is just more of the same. For God’s sake, he pardoned Nixon!”
“So?” Starsky thumped down next to Hutch. On
the television John Chancellor, anchorman for NBC News, was gesturing to a large map behind him. He seemed very excited about something.
“Nixon, Starsky. Nixon! You know, Mr. ‘I-am-not-a-crook’?”
Starsky stiffened. “I know who Nixon is. And he’s
not a crook. Or if he is, then we’re all crooks.”
dropped. He stared at Starsky in silence for a moment, and then turned to look
at the TV. “Five years I’ve been partnered with the man, and it turns
out I don’t know him at all.”
the last time we got a warrant?” asked Starsky.
Hutch started to
answer, but Starsky interrupted him. “I mean, before we busted in and turned the place upside down? I’m not
talking after-the-fact warrants, here.”
warrant is still a warrant,” said Hutch.
all those times we don’t even bother?” asked Starsky. “We didn’t
have a warrant to search Slade’s place, and we didn’t get one after either.”
completely different,” said Hutch. “We didn’t find anything
but goat’s blood in Slade’s Cave.” He drummed his fingers on
“Tell me you
wouldn’t totally dig wiretapping.”
“I just think
our leaders should be held to a higher standard,” said Hutch. “Us
cutting corners is one thing. Nixon had real power, and he abused it.”
“He did exactly
what we would have done if we were president.”
why I don’t want to see you, or me, or some half-baked movie actor in the White House.”
Starsky put his
feet up on Hutch’s coffee table. “No, you’d rather elect a
guy who wants to give every draft dodger a get-out-of-jail-free card.” He
jabbed Hutch in the ribs with his elbow. “What were you doing during the
Vietnam war, college boy?”
“I know what
I wasn’t doing,” said Hutch.
“I wasn’t hiding out behind the ammo dump getting stoned.”
“I knew I’d
regret telling you about that,” said Starsky, ruefully.
Hutch leaned forward,
his elbows on his knees. He squinted at the TV set. “Who’s leading?”
Starsky tilted his
head to the side as he listened to John Chancellor. “Uh... he says the
blue states are Republican and the red ones are Democratic.”
“How the heck
am I supposed to know which is which?” demanded Hutch, waving an impatient hand at the black and white screen.
“I think the
blue is a slightly darker gray.”
They stared at the
screen in silence for a few minutes. It was turning out to be a closer race than
anyone had predicted, with Ford’s initial lead having evaporated in the last few weeks of the race.
tried to assassinate Ford,” said Starsky.
“How is that
a reason to vote for him?”
was a member of the Manson Family. So, by voting for Carter, you’re really
casting your vote for Manson.”
Hutch gave Starsky
a look of disgust.
was worth a try,” said Starsky. He took a handful of popcorn and dumped
it on his stomach. One puffy white kernel rolled off onto the couch. He ate that one first. “Ford played football, you know.”
about as good a qualification as acting in a movie with a monkey.”
a chimpanzee. Chimpanzees are apes, college
boy, not monkeys.” Starsky picked up another kernel.
one to know one.”
Starsky threw popcorn
Hutch ducked, snickering. “Ford thinks the Soviets don’t dominate Eastern Europe.”
his hand full of more popcorn. “Yeah,” he said reluctantly. “But... I’m sure he didn’t
mean it the way it sounded.”
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” said Hutch, “it’ll
be Mr. Carter. An honest reformer. An
ordinary, common-sense kind of guy. An outsider, who’ll make a real difference.”
eat him alive,” said Starsky. “Good thing he’s not going to
know,” said Hutch. “It’s not looking good for Ford.”
over until the fat lady sings,” said Starsky. “Sitting presidents
are almost never defeated.”
not even a real incumbent,” said Hutch. “He wasn’t elected.” He shook his head. “I still can’t
believe we’re politically incompatible. Who did you vote for in 1972?”
said Starsky. “And I’m not sorry.”
and picked a few stray popcorn crumbs out of his shirt. “What are you going
to do? Ask Dobey for a divorce?”
He got the Hutchinson finger for that one.
“I’ll have you know Vanessa is a Republican, too.”
has its fruitcakes,” said Starsky, unperturbed. “Simonetti’s
got a Carter sticker on his bumper.”
“Nope. Swear to God.” Starsky sat up and
took another handful of popcorn. “You two guys could’ve gone to rallies
“Hey!” Hutch pointed at the television. “They’re
giving another state to Carter. At least, I think they are. That’s red, right?”
said Starsky. “Rev up those engines!”
Hutch froze. He turned slowly to face Starsky. “Wait
just one darned minute.”
eyes widened innocently. “What?”
give me that!” Hutch’s finger jabbed into his chest. “I know exactly why you voted for Ford, and it doesn’t have anything to do with draft dodgers
or little girl assassins with stupid names.”
you hear Ford’s name, you’re thinking of your car!”
“I am not,”
protested Starsky, unconvincingly.
Hutch simply looked
if I am,” said Starsky, “it’s still my vote.”
Thirty-two years later
“What do you
mean you voted for McCain?” demanded Hutch. “I might have known. You bought into that whole war hero thing, didn’t you?”
“McCain is a war hero.” Starsky leaned
over and pushed Hutch’s glasses back up his nose. “Besides, I had
to vote for him. You voted for Obama.”
Hutch stared at
him. “You voted for McCain because
you knew I was going to vote for Obama.”
said Starsky, grinning.
For a moment, Hutch
could have believed he was still sitting in Starsky’s old living room, back in 1976.
But the twelve inch black and white set had morphed into a fifty two inch wide screen, high definition TV. And the computerized map behind Brian Williams showed the Democratic states in bright blue, while the Republicans
were an eye-bleeding shade of red.
Hutch let his head
fall back onto the couch. He covered his face with his hands. “I think I get it now. Your mission in life is to nullify
“I voted for
the guy with the guts. Obama’s all flash and no substance,” said
Starsky. “Maybe I’ll vote for him in 2012, when he’s got a
bit more experience under his belt.”
said Hutch, dragging his fingers down to his chin. “I was wrong. Your real mission in life is to drive me crazy.”
Starsky picked up
the bowl of microwave popcorn and held it out to Hutch. “You know what
I like about us?”
Hutch shook his
got our own way of doing things,” said Starsky. “Good cop, bad cop,
push and pull, I go high and you go low...”
“I go Democrat
and you go Republican?”
Starsky nodded. “Who ever heard of good cop, good cop?
It just wouldn’t work.”
Hutch almost said,
‘this is why some people shouldn’t vote’. He almost accused
Starsky of making a mockery of the whole democratic process. But then Barack
Obama’s face appeared on the screen, and he remembered why he’d decided to vote for him in the first place.
this way one of us wins,” said Starsky, his eyes on the TV.
Starsky liked McCain
because he was a war hero. Hutch thought it was high time a black man got to
be President. He couldn’t honestly say whose economic plan was better.
the democratic process,” said Hutch, without a trace of irony.