I Can Still Dance
With a Drink in My Hand
Keep on workin' child,
This ain't no time to drink.
She said go, bossa nova, baby,
Keep on dancin',
'cause I ain't got time to think.
Bossa Nova, Baby ~ Elvis Presley
Starsky stepped back and looked up, ignoring the flash of the police
The shark was hanging by its tail at the end of the pier, stark
white on black, outlined against the night by the floodlights. From
this angle Starsky could see clearly that its belly had been slit
open, the contents spilling out onto the weathered planks. A bloodless
arm hung out of the stomach, the skin pitted and peeling. It looked
like something out of a horror film. A particularly cheap horror
film, whose prop people had used old cheese as material for the
fake dead bodies.
A young man in shorts and sandals was babbling to a uniformed officer,
“...I told Ricky that sharks will eat all kinds of things,
and then I cut it open ‘cause I figured, you know, we might
get a buoy or a surfboard or something, and that... that... thing
came out. I didn’t touch it. I called you guys right off.
“Ah, Starsky and Hutchinson.”
Starsky turned as a gray haired man walked up and stopped to stand
beside him, looking at the shark.
“Andy,” said Hutch. “I’m surprised to see
you out from behind your microscope.”
Andy’s shoulders had the stoop of a man who’d spent
his life at a forensic table, probing into the secrets of the dead.
He pushed his glasses up his nose, smiling. “It’s not
every day we find a body in a shark.”
Starsky looked back at the six foot great white. “Yeah. I
mean, wow.” It was all he could say. He’d done a u-turn
the moment he heard the call on the radio, and had peeled rubber
all the way here. It was Jaws. Big as life and twice as real.
“We’re not really just sight-seeing,” said Hutch.
“Yes we are,” said Starsky. He didn’t see any
reason to deny it. There were dozens of people milling around, far
more than necessary for a single dead body. Lab people, print people,
photo people. Trucks and antennas everywhere and a news chopper
circling overhead. Reporters’ cameras had already started
flashing from the barricades. This was going to be front page news
“We were in the area,” said Hutch.
“Only two jurisdictions away.” Starsky ignored the dirty
look Hutch gave him.
Andy smiled tolerantly. “Come with me, I want to show you
A miasma of rotten fish and death hung heavily in the air. The night
was warm and there was no wind to disperse the stench. Starsky covered
his nose with his jacket as he approached the shark. The forensics
guys were all wearing surgical masks and Starsky eyed them enviously.
Andy, on the other hand, appeared unperturbed by either the sight
or the smell. He crouched down next to a pile of offal which had
spilled out of the belly of the shark onto the deck. A small white
tag marked it as evidence item number six, photographed and ready
Andy pulled his pen light from his breast pocket and flicked it
on. He used it to indicate an object in the pile. “Look at
Still holding his jacket over his nose, Starsky dropped to his heels
and squinted, trying to see clearly. “What is that?”
It looked yellow, curved...
Hutch leaned over, bracing his hands on his knees. “Bone?”
He sounded as if he was trying to hold his breath.
“Very good! It’s part of a skull,” said Andy,
clearly pleased. “Remarkably intact. But what interests me
more is this bit here.”
The pen light moved a few inches to the side. Starsky swallowed,
fighting down nausea as it illuminated gobbets of white fat and
strings of red flesh. It stopped on a precise black circle in the
“That is almost certainly a bullet hole,” said Andy.
Hutch straightened and clapped his hand over his mouth, pinching
his nose closed. “The victim was shot in the head?”
His voice was muffled.
“Shot in the head, dumped in the ocean,” said Andy.
“Sounds like a homicide case to me. And isn’t that your
Starsky stood up, and glanced at Hutch. “Murder, huh?”
He shouldn’t feel triumphant about this. He really shouldn’t.
Murders were tragedies, always. But the fact remained...
“There’s no way they can call this one a traffic
accident,” said Hutch.
Great minds think alike, thought Starsky.
“I admit he doesn’t look like much, but Duncan’s
a crack shot.” Bodie maintained a blank fašade, hiding his
amusement. He’d told Doyle to dress down and look hungry,
but he hadn’t expected his partner to take him quite so literally.
Trevor regarded ‘Ray Duncan’ doubtfully, his sharp gaze
tracking from Doyle’s grubby trainers to his equally worn
jumper, both of which looked as if they’d been rescued from
a charity’s reject bin. “You say you’ve worked
with him before?”
“Amsterdam. Just ask Greene.” It was another tangled
thread in a complicated back story, a web of lies with each part
leading back to a single source. Months in the set up, almost three
weeks into the execution, and ultimately it came down to simple
faith that none of the villains would be clever enough to see the
Doyle was doing his part well. He was slouched against the wall
of the entrance hallway, arms crossed, looking utterly disinterested
in the proceedings. Hungry, sure, but also too much the hard man
to reveal any desperation. And dangerous. Exactly the sort of bloke
Trevor ought to want on his private security team.
Trevor, in contrast, was stout and sandy-haired, wearing an expensive
linen jacket and a cravat that made him look like a git.
“Very well.” Trevor waved a lazy hand at Bodie. “Put
him through his paces, Bentley.”
“Eh?” Bodie blinked.
“Let’s see what he’s got.” Trevor’s
smile had teeth. “You can take him, can’t you?”
From the first day they’d met, Bodie had never had any doubt
he could take Doyle in a real fight. Sure Doyle had handed his arse
to him once or twice during training, but that was because he’d
been following CI5 rules. Play nice. No permanent injury.
Doyle met his gaze, and Bodie read the clear challenge in his eyes.
This was for real. No slapping the floor to indicate surrender.
No one around to break things up.
Bodie glanced quickly around at his surroundings. Would have to
watch out for that table. It looked old, and the vase on it looked
even older. The mirror might be a problem, too. The carved banister...
not too bad. Sturdy enough to take a hit, if they ended up at the
end of the hall.
He removed his suit jacket. Wouldn’t want to split it up the
back. It was double breasted, and silver, and he’d rather
like to keep it once the job was done.
Rolling his sleeves up, Bodie moved a few steps to the side. Doyle
circled in the opposite direction, inching fractionally closer.
Bodie watched for an opening, knowing beyond any doubt that Doyle
was doing the same.
There it was. Doyle had dropped his left hand, fractionally. Bodie
moved in fast, relying on his greater reach and weight. Doyle ducked,
and Bodie’s fist grazed the side of his face.
Then Bodie was dodging Doyle’s jab, with no time to react
as Doyle hooked a foot behind his knee. Bodie stumbled and twisted,
pulling Doyle off balance. They hit the ground together, each trying
to seize the upper hand. Bodie got Doyle into an arm lock, but Doyle
managed to slip free, and then Bodie found himself dangerously close
to being trapped in a leg hold.
They separated, panting. Bodie could hear Trevor applauding, and
there were other voices as well. Spectators had gathered on the
stairs. Someone was making bets. ‘Bentley’ versus ‘Duncan’
with distressingly high odds against Bentley.
Beating Doyle wasn’t turning out to be as easy Bodie had expected.
His style in this fight was nasty and ruthless. Not at all what
Bodie had learned to expect from the ex-copper.
Bodie wiped the blood away from his lower lip and moved in again,
matching Doyle’s grin with one of his own. He feinted with
a jab to the face and then hopped back quickly as Doyle retaliated
with a side kick at the Bodie family jewels. Bodie felt the edge
of Doyle’s trainer scrape his leg. Close.
“Naughty,” said Bodie, and ducked under Doyle’s
next swing. Enough with the fancy footwork. He closed in and started
slugging, his head down. He was watching Doyle’s feet now,
less concerned with the incidental damage he was taking to his ribs.
He’d seen an opening, and if he could just hold on long enough...
There! Doyle was trying another snap kick. Bodie took the blow on
the front of his thigh and grabbed Doyle’s leg. Planting his
left foot against the wall, Bodie launched himself forward. Doyle
landed hard on his back, yelping as his knee hit his nose.
Bodie had no time to relish his momentary advantage. Doyle planted
his trainers directly below Bodie’s ribs and kicked, hard.
Bodie was airborne before he knew it, propelled over Doyle’s
head. He tucked his head into his chest and pulled his elbows in
close, just as his shoulders slammed into something hard and full
Something that broke beneath him, with a sound like glass.
“Enough!” bellowed Trevor.
Bodie rolled smoothly onto his feet, more than willing to keep fighting.
Doyle faced him, his hand pressed over his mouth and nose. Blood
was running down the front of his shirt, but his eyes were creased
“Hey!” That protest came from the stairs, and Bodie
turned to find every member of Trevor’s household staring
at himself and Doyle. There, watching avidly from the steps and
hanging over the railing on the upper level, were all of Trevor’s
thugs, his girls, and his various lackeys and hangers-on.
“They’ve not finished the fight!” said the girl
with the platinum bob. The blood lust in her expression contrasted
disturbingly with the baby doll nightie she wore, and the tiny dog
she clutched in her arms.
There was a rumble of agreement from the others.
“I’m not having them tear up my house!” Trevor
stepped forward and glared them all into silence. Then he gave them
a conciliatory nod. “However, you’re right. This has
been undeniably entertaining.” He rubbed his hands together,
smiling. “I’m sure we can arrange a better venue for
the contest, and perhaps then some of you would like to try your
hand with the champion.”
That sparked more commentary, anticipatory this time, and the spectators
began to disperse.
Behind Trevor’s back, Bodie retrieved his jacket and handed
Doyle his handkerchief. Doyle pressed it to his nose, rolling his
eyes in silent disgust. Bodie grimaced in agreement. He wouldn’t
mind a rematch, but he wanted it on his own terms. Not as a novel
amusement for Trevor and his friends, with the two of them just
another pair of fighting gamecocks. Then Trevor turned around again
and he quickly blanked his expression.
“He’s good,” said Trevor. “I’ll give
him the same I’m giving you.”
“For what?” asked Doyle, his voice slightly nasal.
Trevor frowned. “What?”
“Well, what do we do, exactly?” Looking perfectly guileless,
Doyle turned to Bodie. “You said private security.”
“You do as you’re told,” said Trevor. He reached
into his pocket and withdrew a well-stuffed money clip. Peeling
off several bills, he handed them to Bodie. “Get him a suit.”
“Yes, sir.” Bodie bit his tongue, struggling to suppress
a grin at Doyle’s offended expression. “Can’t
have him running around all covered in blood, can we?”
“You’re not exactly Gentleman’s Quarterly yourself,”
snapped Doyle, as Bodie hustled him out the door.
Bodie brushed at the spot of blood that marred the front of his
shiny silver suit. “Ah, but this fabric’s been treated
with some space age compound. Wrinkle resistant. Practically waterproof.
Blood wipes right off. Next best thing to shark skin.”
“Good God. I don’t want to know what laboratory they
cooked that material up in.”
Doyle climbed in on the passenger side of the car and immediately
checked under the dashboard. Satisfied, he ran his fingers under
the edge of the seat, bending over his knees to peer down into the
wheel well. When he straightened, his nose had started to bleed
again and there were tears in his eyes. Pressing Bodie’s handkerchief
to his face, he reached over and switched on the radio.
“Alride, mate. ‘Ow did you do id?”
Bodie reached over and pulled Doyle’s hand down, frowning
at his nose. “How did I do what?” He took Doyle’s
face in his hands and used his thumbs to check the state of his
Doyle shook him off impatiently. “Nothing’s broken,”
he said. “How did you dispose of my predecessor?”
“Oh, him.” Bodie chuckled. “That wasn’t
any of my doing.” He grabbed for Doyle’s face again.
“Now hold still, I just want to make sure.” Bodie’s
lower lip was throbbing, and his ribs felt as if someone had been
playing a drum solo on them – which wasn’t far from
the truth. He could only imagine the kind of pain Doyle must be
Doyle’s right cheek felt a little odd, but that was probably
because of that old break...
“Let go!” Doyle struck the centre of Bodie’s chest
with the heel of his palm, hard.
Bodie’s shoulders hit the side window. “Ow!” He
rubbed his sternum, and gave Doyle a hurt look. “I only wanted
to make sure I hadn’t injured you.”
Doyle snorted. “Oh, dry up. You said it wasn’t any of
“Well, not entirely.” Bodie started the car. Elvis was
playing on the radio, singing about rocking the jailhouse. “He
disappeared the other day. Gone for hours. Trevor was going spare
and everyone was running around looking for him. And then we all
hear this little scream from the basement. One of the maids found
him in a closet with a base pipe, getting high. Someone might
have suggested she look there.”
“So you didn’t hand him the stuff and force him to smoke
“Of course not! What do you take me for?” Bodie glanced
over at Doyle and grinned. “That was only my back up plan.”
Doyle’s laugh was good to hear.
Something occurred to Bodie, as he turned onto the main road. “Listen,
Trevor’s not done checking you out. He’s going to offer
you one of his girls tonight. You’d better take him up on
Doyle looked at him curiously. “Or?”
“Or he’ll offer you a boy. And if you refuse again,
he’ll decide you’re a cop and dump your body in the
‘Be yourself’ had been Cowley’s advice to Bodie
when he’d taken the position as Trevor’s personal bodyguard.
And it had been all too easy to find his place, sliding back into
the habits and attitudes of his mercenary days. Doyle, on the other
hand, had been a cop. He’d been in the Drugs Squad, so technically
he had more undercover experience than Bodie, but fitting in still
wouldn’t be as easy for him as ‘be yourself’.
“Christ,” said Doyle.
“No fear,” said Bodie, trying to reassure. “They’re
all nice girls.” Mostly. Jane had this thing for whips, that
perhaps wasn’t technically ‘nice’, but...
“Of course they are,” said Doyle, giving him a wry look.
“I saw that this evening. Lovely girls, with a taste for blood.”
There was a time when Huggy had wanted Starsky and Hutch to come
into his bar by the back alley entrance, during off hours so no
one would see him talking to the cops. For years they blithely ignored
his attempts to set limits, showed up whenever it suited them, and
asked questions right out in the open.
Then Huggy’s bar had burned down. It took Huggy the better
part of a year to scrape together enough to open the Pits, and by
that time he’d decided that having a visible police presence
in his establishment might be better protection than paying off
the local gangs. More reliable protection, in any case.
Huggy was going legit, and he made sure everyone knew. No more girls
turning tricks in the rooms above his bar. No more after hours entertainment.
No more ‘favors’ for old friends.
Interestingly, however, information continued to come his way without
any abatement in either quantity or quality. Street people are terrible
gossips, worse than a bunch of old ladies on bridge night, and a
bartender hears everything. Even a straight bartender with known
connections to the cops.
Hutch leaned over the bar, his expression expectant. “So what
have we got?”
Huggy shook his head, and stacked the glass he’d just finished
drying with the others. No point in encouraging them. “You’ve
got a forty-two dollar bar tab, dating back almost two months."
Starsky thumped down on the bar stool next to Hutch. “C’mon,
Huggy! You know what we want.”
“I know what I want. And I should point out that forty-two
is only his part of the tab.” Huggy nodded at Hutch. “Yours,”
meaning Starsky, “is sixty.”
“What? No way!”
“I said you were drinking too much,” said Hutch, smugly.
“But do you listen? No...”
“I’ve already got a Jewish mother. I don’t need
another,” said Starsky, as he extracted his wallet from his
back pocket. He began peeling money out. Two twenties were followed
by three tens, three fives, and six ones. He then turned his wallet
upside down and shook it. A quarter, a dime, and seven pennies clattered
down onto the surface of the bar. “Will this do?”
“Hey, thanks,” said Hutch.
“I’m not covering your tab, dummy. I’m paying
off mine and I’m compensating Huggy for his time and effort
on our behalf.” Starsky smiled ingratiatingly at Huggy.
Huggy trapped a penny that was trying to make a rolling break for
the edge of the bar. “I hate to disappoint my Caucasian brothers,
but it’s just lot of chatter, nothing solid.”
“Well, give us the un-solid stuff,” said Starsky.
“Sure,” said Hutch. “Insubstantial is still better
“There’s talk about a new player in town – or
more precisely, out of town. A cat with a lot of flash.”
Now they were both leaning on his bar, eyes bright, looking like
a scruffy pair of orphaned baby birds. Insatiable.
“The chicks are hot for his British accent, and the limos
and coke don’t hurt none, either,” said Huggy. “Now,
I’m not saying there’s a connection, but you know that
new theatre down on the strip?”
Starsky smirked. “Yeah, blue movies.”
“I heard they’re showing Fuck Rogers of the 69th Century,”
“You heard.” Starsky made a disgusted sound.
“I happen to know you took what’s her name to see it
last Wednesday. And you didn’t invite me!”
Huggy shook his head, again. These two were in a class of their
“I was hoping she’d find it inspirational,”
said Hutch, offended. “And anyway, your mind’s already
in the gutter.”
“Did she?” Starsky looked interested.
Huggy cleared his throat. Standing at his bar listening while Starsky
and Hutch bragged on their sexual exploits wasn’t high on
his list of things to do on an afternoon. “I presume while
you, sir...” Huggy made sure he had Hutch’s attention.
“While you were taking in the show, you noticed the gentleman
standing by the door with his clicker, counting every John and Jane
who walks in?”
Hutch nodded. “I remember him.”
“That gentleman is in the employ of a certain other gentleman,
popularly known as The Director, who controls the distribution of
the movie you saw. After the feature ends, the checker calculates
a percentage of the profit, goes to the owner of the theatre, and
says, ‘Give me five thousand’.”
“Or else.” Huggy shrugged. “The theatre owner
Starsky looked puzzled. “Where does the money go? To the Director?
And how does the British guy come into this?”
“What do they pay you for?” Huggy opened his till and
put Starsky’s money away. “You’re the cops. You
figure it out.” He pulled out his notebook and scratched out
Huggy wasn’t looking at Starsky and Hutch, but he could feel
them staring at him expectantly. Absolutely insatiable. Against
his better judgment, Huggy said, “I’ll tell you this.
Some of the money goes missing. And some of the people who make
that money go missing become shark bait. Or they turn up in hospital,
claiming they fell down the three steps outside the theater, and
somehow broke seventeen different bones. Or just they’re plain
gone, like Jamie T. Or... they find themselves thrown in front of
cars, like Al Greene.”
Any of which could happen to him, if the Director ever decided he
didn’t like a certain Huggy Bear Brown talking to the cops.
“The California Highway Patrol said the Greene death was a
traffic accident,” said Hutch.
Huggy gave him the look that statement deserved.
“Right,” said Starsky. “Well, thanks Hug.”
“Yeah, you have fun unweaving this tangled web. I have an
establishment to run.” And a liquor license to renew, thought
Huggy as he spotted the notice tucked under his cash. Starsky’s
payment would just about cover the bribe.
“When I was a kid, I looked up to that man,” muttered
Doyle under his breath. They’d just finished a circuit of
the grounds and were now stationed in the hall. Most of the party
guests had arrived, and were now scattered around the grounds and
throughout the house. The air was heavy with the scent of marijuana,
and the floor vibrated with the bass beat of Trevor’s new
Bodie leaned close to his ear. “Which one? The retired footballer,
or the elderly rocker?”
“He’s not that old, you know!”
“Wine, women and song. Ages you fast,” said Bodie wisely.
“Look at Elvis. He can hardly drag himself up on stage these
“Wine, women and song? More like sex, drugs and rock and roll.”
Doyle prodded his nose gingerly. It was less sore today, but dark
purple bruises had blossomed under both eyes, necessitating the
use of sunglasses, even at night.
Bodie, to Doyle’s immense disgust, looked as immaculate as
ever. Lounging casually by the door, he’d been getting admiring
looks from many of the women, and several of the men.
Sod this, thought Doyle. He loosened his tie and opened his
collar. If he couldn’t look good, then at least he ought to
be able to breathe.
“Come on,” said Bodie, abruptly. “Let’s
mingle. See if we can hear anything interesting.”
Doyle grimaced. “Besides, ‘baby, blow me’ and
‘where’s the coke’?”
Bodie shot him a quick grin, and a moment later he was gone, sliding
easily into the crowd. Doyle grumbled to himself about pretentious
bastards with delusions of class, and then decided to get himself
a drink from the bar.
It was past midnight before he saw Bodie again. Doyle was in the
garden, rousing revellers from the bushes and chivvying them back
to the house. He’d just paused in the shadow of a tall yew
hedge, when he felt the press of cold metal at the nape of his neck.
Doyle froze, and then heard a familiar chuckle.
“Bo-,” Doyle caught himself just in time. “Bentley,
Bodie flipped the gun and slid it back into his holster. “Sloppy.
Very sloppy. Duncan.”
“One of these days I’ll end up shooting you,”
retorted Doyle. “And they’ll give me a medal.”
There were times, like these, when Doyle looked at Bodie and wondered
if he could trust him. It was a dangerous thought. You had to trust
your partner, or you might end up dead. But when Cowley had prepped
them for this operation, he’d told Bodie to ‘be himself’.
How much difference was there between Bodie and the other hard men
Trevor hired? If he was given the right motivation, could he put
a bullet in Doyle’s head? He had been a mercenary once. Every
time Doyle asked him why he was in CI5, Bodie’s answer was
different, and never reassuring. He was in it for the money, he
said. For the fast cars. For a chance to try the latest, best weaponry.
“I don’t know what the old man’s waiting for,”
said Bodie. “We’ve got more than enough to put Trevor
away for life.”
It was the unguarded vehemence in Bodie’s voice that set Doyle
back on his heels, interrupting his uneasy thoughts. “Is there
something you haven’t told me?”
“Nah, it’s all been in the reports. It’s just...”
Bodie turned away, his hands in his pockets. “Never mind.
If we don’t get back they’ll think we were out here
Doyle had to run a few steps to catch up. He grabbed Bodie’s
arm and yanked him around. “Oh, no you don’t! Cough!”
There was a moment’s silence, and then they heard laughing
voices coming up the path. Something shifted minutely in Bodie’s
stance. “While you were out here avoiding society,”
he said, loudly enough for the others to hear, “Trevor arranged
some... fascinating entertainment for the rest of us.”
“Do tell,” said Doyle. He didn’t have to fake
“You know Jane, the one with the whip fetish? Well, Trevor
had her give a demonstration. Had a little blonde bird strung upside
down, while Jane flogged the living daylights out of her.”
Bodie’s voice was bland, expressionless.
A man and a woman rounded the corner of the path and Doyle stepped
forward to block their way. “I’m sorry, sir. You’ll
have to go back to the house. Trevor’s orders.”
The man had seemed prepared to argue, but the moment Doyle invoked
Trevor’s name his entire attitude changed. He took his date
by the arm and hurried her back toward the house.
“Is she alive?” asked Doyle, quietly. A murder would
put the entire investigation in a completely different light.
“Oh, quite. I have it on good authority that she even got
off on it.”
“Bruised but not bloodied. Jane knows how not to turn a sub
into steak tartar.”
Doyle thought about what Bodie had said earlier. “You know,
I’d like some answers, as well.”
“Ours is to question why,” suggested Bodie. He poked
Doyle in the ribs. “Live long and never die?”
Doyle just shook his head. As mottos went that one was almost the
philosophical antithesis of everything CI5 stood for. An agent’s
life was signed over to Cowley to use in the service of England,
however he saw best. Anything they needed to know they were told.
If they weren’t told, it was because they didn’t need
Never mind questioning why Bodie did the job, there were days when
even Doyle wondered how exactly he’d wound up in CI5. And
the answers he gave himself, preserving law and order and a chance
to make a difference, were no more satisfactory than Bodie’s
fast cars and guns.
Inside the house they found the party beginning to wind down, drugs
and alcohol taking their toll on the revellers.
A large black man was hunched over a naked blonde girl lying sprawled
across a couch. He appeared to be rubbing something onto her back,
buttocks and thighs. On closer examination, Doyle saw the way it
gleamed in the light from the lamps and realized it was oil, and
that it was being smoothed over raised red welts. Doyle knew then
that this had to be the bird Bodie had mentioned, the one who had
At least, he thought, someone’s looking after her.
Bodie intercepted an exhausted looking girl carrying a tray. As
he relieved her of the remaining sandwich triangles he asked, “Where’s
“I think he’s in his office.”
“Thanks,” mumbled Bodie around a full mouth. He offered
one of his sandwiches to Doyle, who shook his head.
The girl gave them a wan smile. “There’s more in the
kitchen, if you want.”
Bodie’s grin widened. “I’ll take you up on that
They found Trevor in the downstairs office, shouting into his phone.
“What do you mean, we may have a problem? I’m paying
you to ensure that we don’t have problems! Shark? A bloody
shark?” He glanced up as Bodie and Doyle stopped at
the entrance to the room. “Here, one moment.”
Trevor pulled the phone away from his ear. “Close that door,
would you? I need privacy.”
Doyle nodded and reached for the door knob. As he was closing the
door, he heard, “You’re supposed to clear all such actions
with me first!”
He exchanged a glance with Bodie and they silently found posts at
either side of the entrance to the office. If anyone came looking
for Trevor, they’d turn them away. But more importantly, even
through the closed door they could still make out a few shouted
It wasn’t much. Bodie said later that he’d thought he
heard the word ‘shark’ a few more times. And something
about a bay.
Doyle, for his part, had new information to consider about his partner.
Bodie had sounded coldly callous in his description of the girl’s
flogging, but he had brought it up in the context of Trevor’s
arrest being overdue. Which could only mean that he was genuinely
outraged by what had happened.
Not so much the heartless mercenary, after all.
Today it was Starsky’s turn to play devil’s advocate.
He watched Hutch drum his fingers on the desk as he read. After
a few minutes, Hutch was hitting the desktop so hard Starsky could
feel the vibration all the way over on his side. There had to be
somewhere an unwritten rule which said that only one half of the
partnership could freak out at a time. The other half had to be
correspondingly calm and rational. It was some kind of cosmic see-saw.
Starsky cleared his throat.
Hutch kept reading, oblivious to everything except what was in the
folder in front of him.
“Hey!” said Starsky. “You should buy me a candy
“I’ve got the coroner’s report on that traffic
accident.” Hutch picked up the folder, sheets stapled to the
inside, and waved it at Starsky. “Check this out, ‘Victim
was missing shoes. These items were not located at the scene. California
Highway Patrol states that the victim was knocked out of his shoes.
CHP will not be pressing charges against the driver of that vehicle.’”
Starsky squinted and tried to focus on the flapping pages. “Someone
at the scene could have stolen his shoes. It happened downtown.”
He was using his reasonable voice. The one he reserved for lunatics
and overwrought partners.
Hutch slapped the report down on his desk. “With dozens of
people standing around, none of whom actually saw Al Greene run
out in front of the car?”
“They were all looking the other way?” It was either
that or transitory mass blindness, a common affliction amongst the
residents of downtown Bay City.
“Al was working as a checker at the Kittykat Theatre,”
Starsky thought ‘where you went and saw Fuck Rogers and didn’t
take me’ but he didn’t say anything out loud. They’d
been over that argument before.
“They had him replaced the day before he died,” continued
Hutch. “Then a week later, that guy disappears. James
Turner. And what about April Showers?”
Starsky dug back into his memory. “April Showers, formerly
known as Katie Buchowsky. Pretty little kid from Kansas. She died
of a drug overdose, in the back alley of the Inferno Club.”
“Yeah, with the belt wrapped around her left arm. How’d
she manage that, when she was left-handed?”
“We’ve been over this before,” said Starsky. “You
and I, and most everyone else in this town, we all know April Showers
was murdered. And so was Al Greene. And for all we know, James Turner,
too. Unless he got smart and went back to whatever Podunk town he
came from. But we can’t prove it. We don’t even have
a place to start.”
“They all worked in the porn industry, that’s something.”
“It’s paper thin, Hutch.” Starsky caught himself
beginning to drum his own fingers on the edge of his desk. Hutch’s
righteous anxiety was contagious. “You need to buy me a candy
“I need to buy you a candy bar?” said Hutch,
“Yeah, because I gave Huggy all my money.” Starsky paused
and thoughtfully considered the condition of his cupboards. “I’m
also going to be eating dinner at your place tonight. And tomorrow
night. Good thing it’s only another week to payday.”
“As I recall, you refused to put any of that money towards
paying off my tab. Which you helped me rack up in the first place.”
Starsky gave Hutch his best wide-eyed innocent look. “But
we have to pay our snitch! What if he stopped talking to us?”
The phone on Hutch’s desk rang. “You know you look bug-eyed
when you do that,” said Hutch, as he picked up the receiver.
Hutch smiled and held up a hand. Then he pointed at the receiver
and silently mouthed, I’m on the phone.
Starsky used an even simpler hand signal to let him know exactly
what he thought.
Hutch ignored him. “Thanks, Andy, I really appreciate this.”
He hung up the phone and stood, reaching for his jacket. “We’ve
got something, after all. Turns out Shark Bait is our missing checker.
James Turner, AKA Jamie T.”
Bodie groaned and tried to pull his blanket over his head. The other
half of his bed was empty, which meant that the girl must have slipped
out at some point while he was asleep. One cracked eye revealed
that it was still dark, and from the sound of Trevor careening down
the halls, he hadn’t been to bed at all. Fucking cokehead
Even bodyguards need to sleep some time, thought Bodie grumpily.
The shift schedule existed for a reason. He should know. He’d
drawn it up himself.
“I’ll get him up for you,” said a voice outside
his door. Doyle. Sounding entirely too chipper for the hour.
Bodie was trying to decide if he’d ignore Doyle when he knocked,
when his door was flung open, bright light stabbed his eyes, and
the suit jacket he’d left over the back of a chair hit him
in the face. “Berk!” He threw the jacket on the floor
and sat up, glaring.
“No,” said Doyle cheerily. “The berk is the guy
caught sleeping on the job. Didn’t you hear everyone running
around? We could have had a massacre while you were having your
“What’s the excitement?” Since clearly Doyle wouldn’t
be looking quite so composed if they’d actually had a massacre.
“Trevor wants everyone packed before dawn. He’s going
“He’s flying to Bay City, California. This morning.
As early as possible, in his private jet. Which is apparently almost,
but not quite, as large as Elvis’s private jet.”
“Damn!” Bodie began throwing on his clothes as fast
as he could, hopping across the room with one leg in his trousers.
Doyle propped his hands on his hips and watched him. “Something
I’ve always wanted to know...”
“Yes, I’m a heavy sleeper. Yes, I was exactly the same
in the jungle. No, it never interfered with my survival.”
It had actually saved his life once when he’d slept through
most of a real massacre, and had consequently been able to slip
away behind the government troops overrunning the camp. Though he’d
rather have his fingernails removed one by one than share that story
with Doyle. “Now, be useful. Grab my bag and throw everything
from that top drawer inside.”
Doyle didn’t move. “Who makes the call?”
Bodie stopped, his shirt half buttoned. “I thought you’d...”
“I’ve managed to get halfway through dialling three
times since Trevor got us all up. He’s been-”
A bellow from the hall interrupted him. “Duncan!”
“Right,” said Bodie. “Keep him distracted. Tell
him I’m still packing. I’ll use the phone in the hall.”
That one was almost certainly bugged, but Bodie was confident he
could work around that small problem.
Doyle nodded and reached for the door knob. Bodie caught his arm.
“Wait. You know what I have to do.”
“I’ll cover you as long as I can,” said Doyle.
And then he was gone.
Bodie threw a few shirts into his bag and zipped it up. Then he
eased his door open and looked cautiously up and down the corridor.
There was a girl hurrying in the opposite direction, but no one
else of consequence. He was able to slip downstairs unseen.
Making the phone call was a bit trickier. Bobby, another of Trevor’s
security men, stopped to see who he was calling. His suspicious
glare faded when Bodie winked and whispered, “My girlfriend.”
Bobby grinned, slapped him on the back, and continued on his way.
Bodie was relieved. Bobby, besides being big and black, was easily
as broad as he was tall, and had no discernable neck. There was
no way Bodie could have taken him out without alerting the whole
There was no guard at the gate when Bodie drove off Trevor’s
estate. Trevor’s security had been little better than a joke
before he’d hired Bodie and nothing had been done to improve
it since. Bodie, in fact, had been actively looking for ways to
undermine security. It was one of these endeavours which had led
to Doyle’s hiring.
Bodie was hoping that he would be able to leave and return undetected.
It was a slim hope, but he drew consolation from the knowledge that
if his own part in the operation went tits up tonight, at least
Doyle would still be inside. Assuming his cover wasn’t too
poisoned by his association with Bodie.
But Doyle was good at thinking on his feet. Ex-copper or not, he
was the best CI5 had to offer. Bodie had never had any occasion
to regret his decision to ask Cowley to partner him with Doyle.
Which was another thing he’d never tell Doyle. Because regulations
stated that no agent could have any say in their teaming. It was
all supposed to be decided on the basis of psychological compatibility
and complementary skills.
“We’re the best,” Bodie had told Cowley. “If
I’m not number one in a class, then it’s because he’s
grabbed the top spot. No one else even comes close. What other reason
do you need to put us together?”
“You’re very different,” Cowley had said.
“Complementary,” was Bodie’s response. “Like
For all Bodie knew, Cowley had been planning to partner him with
Doyle all along. But he wasn’t prepared to take the chance.
He’d seen how well Doyle worked with Jax. And there were others
he himself could have been successfully teamed with, too. Doyle
didn’t seem to care, one way or another. Bodie, on the other
hand, knew exactly which partner he wanted.
And still wanted. He’d missed working with Doyle these past
Bodie stopped his car in the shadow of the flyover. He could hear
the sound of traffic overhead, and crickets in the weeds around
him. He used the time he spent waiting profitably, searching the
car one more time for bugs. It wasn’t so much that he expected
Trevor to have had his car bugged, but that he couldn’t be
certain that he wouldn’t. These days Trevor swung unpredictably
between mania and paranoia.
Bodie had finished his search and had just begun a second round,
when another car, a nondescript saloon, pulled up beside him, gravel
crunching under its tyres.
Cowley leaned out the window. “Well?”
“Trevor’s having business difficulties.”
“We already know that,” said Cowley, his tone warning
Bodie not to waste his time. This particular meeting was only to
be arranged in circumstances of extreme urgency.
“Yeah, except this branch of the business is in Bay City,
California. And Trevor’s going to be flying there today to
oversee things in person.”
“So... Bay City,” said Cowley, thoughtfully.
Bodie shifted uneasily in his seat. “Sir, Doyle and I... we
were thinking that now might be a good time to stage that raid.
Before Trevor leaves the country. He’s got a suitcase of drugs
he takes with him everywhere. It’s divided up like those pill
counters you get for the days of the week, except this is for a
whole month. And it’s everything you can imagine. Uppers,
“I’m sure it’s very impressive and more than enough
to put Alan Trevor away,” interrupted Cowley. “But he’s
just one man. Think of this network as if it were a Hydra. If we
chop off the head, two more will have taken his place before evening.
We’ve got to cut off all the heads at once. Cripple the beast.”
“But we’ve given you names!”
“Of social acquaintances. Hangers on. Lackeys and addicts.
Nothing we can directly link to the importation of drugs into this
“Yes, sir.” Bodie wondered if the investigation as a
whole had been a failure, or just his part in it.
“You and Doyle, you’ve managed to get close to him.”
“He doesn’t let us listen in on his business, if that’s
what you mean. And he sweeps for bugs every day.” An agent
had infiltrated a year earlier, and had attempted to plant bugs
of his own. His body had never been found.
“Don’t try to tell an old fox his business, Bodie.”
Cowley frowned forbiddingly. “Trevor’s paranoid. He
won’t travel without his bodyguards. Go with him tomorrow.
Take note of everyone he talks to, especially anyone in customs.
Keep your ears open and your head down. You won’t have any
authority while you’re overseas. If you end up in jail...”
Bodie waited a moment, but Cowley didn’t finish his statement.
“Is this an official assignment, sir? Or are we on our own
Cowley started his car. “Good luck.”
Hutch smiled affectionately. Starsky was so excited it was coming
out in his driving. The Torino was practically skipping down the
“Man, Andy’s good.” Starsky bounded through the
intersection just ahead of a tractor trailer, ignoring shouts from
the driver. “I didn’t think anyone could get an ID off
of that corpse. Much less all that detail on how he was tortured.”
Hutch lost his smile. He could have gone to his eternal rest without
knowing that the deceased had his fingernails ‘forcibly extracted
prior to death’. He glanced at the scrap of notepaper he held,
and then double checked it against the street numbers.
“That’s our building right there,” said Hutch.
“Former residence of one James Turner.”
“Jamie T. The other missing checker. Now found, in the belly
of a shark.” Starsky bounced the wheel of the Torino off the
curb as he pulled in.
Hutch sometimes wondered how much of Starsky’s salary every
month went into repairing his rims. For such a terrific driver,
Starsky really wasn’t any good at parking.
Jamie T’s last address turned out to be a depressingly grubby
apartment building. Red brick, broken windows on the first floor,
and a front door blocked by a wrought iron gate, hanging half off
its hinges. It creaked mournfully as Hutch pushed it open. “Let’s
see if anyone’s home before we go looking for the super.”
“I don’t think places like these have supers,”
said Starsky, wrinkling his nose as he stepped into the dark interior.
The third floor hallway smelled of mildew, vomit and urine. The
few lights which hadn’t yet burned out glowed dimly behind
yellowed glass fixtures, and the peeling carpets were dark green.
Hutch could only hope that had been their original color.
“Here’s number thirty-three,” said Starsky. He
banged on the door with the side of his fist.
There was no response. Starsky glanced at Hutch, and then banged
again. He cocked his head, and a moment later Hutch heard the footsteps
as well. He moved back a step, reaching for his badge.
The door opened. Hutch froze, his hand in his pocket. He saw Starsky’s
The girl smiling at them was very pretty, very wet, and entirely
“Oh, hi!” she said, cheerfully. “You caught me
in the shower. C’mon in. Sit down. I’ll only be a minute.”
Hutch rubbed his hand over his face, and took a deep breath. It
was no illusion. When he looked again, there she was, her fine white
ass trotting unconcernedly into the back of the apartment, bare
feet leaving wet prints on the floor.
He grabbed Starsky’s arm and shook him. “You heard the
lady. Come in. Sit down.”
Starsky walked into the apartment like a man in a daze. He sat on
the edge of a flower-print sectional sofa, and blinked blankly at
the wall for a moment. Then he turned to Hutch and said, “High?”
Hutch tried to recollect what he’d seen beyond a pair of perfectly
formed breasts, pert pink nipples, and indisputable evidence that
the girl was a natural blonde. “As a kite. If her pupils were
any smaller, they’d be in another dimension.” He felt
a stab of disappointment. In the real world girls didn’t just
answer their doors naked for the pleasure of any lucky fellow who
might decide to knock. “But I didn’t see any tracks.
So unless she’s shooting up between her toes, it’s not
“Probably coke,” said Starsky, glumly. “Or speedballs.
She’s too lively to for it to be dope.”
Hutch looked around the apartment. It was a single room, with the
only amenity being the bathroom. “There’s the hotplate,
there’s the mattress, and there’s the window to jump
Starsky stood up and walked over to the window. He pulled the curtain
aside. “Except it faces onto a brick wall.”
They turned as they heard the water stop running. The bathroom door
“Hi! I’m Lois Lane.” The girl was now wearing
a bathrobe, though it was barely long enough to cover her rear and
falling open in the front. She crossed the room and went straight
to the fridge humming in the corner. Bending over to inspect the
interior, she gave them both a second look at her well formed ass.
“Can I get you two anything? We’ve got...” She
paused. “Beer. And a tomato. But only one. Tomato, I mean.
We’ve got lots of beer.”
“Uh,” said Starsky. He’d lost whatever composure
he’d gained while she was in the shower, and was now staring
at her with his mouth hanging open again.
Hutch managed, “James Turner.”
“James? Oh... Jamie!” Lois’ expression turned
regretful. “You’re a couple of Phil’s guys aren’t
you?” She found a bottle opener and used it to pop the top
on her beer. “Look, I’m really sorry the Director’s
giving you a hard time, but Jamie skipped town! I don’t know
where he is, or what he did with the money from the peep shows.
The Director’s just going to have to find himself another
actor.” She took a long drink from her bottle. “Are
you sure you guys don’t want a beer?”
“Another actor?” asked Starsky, vaguely.
“Well, gee!” said Lois, indignantly. “It’s
not like there’s anything special about Jamie. He ain’t
twelve inches long or nothing. I’m sure once the Director
finds another guy who can get it up in front of a camera, he’ll
ease off your boss, right? I mean, honestly, talent can’t
be in short supply. Gosh, I’d bet either of you two could
give a girl a good time.”
“What?” Hutch wasn’t following any of this.
“Well sure!” Lois wandered over and kissed Starsky affectionately
on the cheek.
He stepped back too quickly and almost tripped.
Lois giggled. “You’re cute enough. You two could do
a double act. Now, listen. I’ve got a show at the Aphrodite
in half an hour and I have to get dressed. I wish I could be more
help, but trust me, Jamie’s gone. It’s the price of
doing business, you know? But if you want me to put a good word
in for you with the Director, let me know. Maybe I can get you Jamie’s
job. The acting, I mean. Not checking.”
She propped her hands on her hips and cocked her head, looking them
over with her lower lip caught between small, even white teeth.
“Hey, that’s a pretty good idea!” she said, finally.
“Look, I’m on regularly at the Aphrodite, five nights
a week, when I’m not doing movies. Lois Lane. Look me up,
and I’ll get you an audition. But, for now, bye-bye!”
Before Hutch knew quite how it had happened, he found Starsky and
himself standing in the hall.
Starsky stared blankly at the closed door. “Do we look like
“I’m sure I don’t,” said Hutch. “She
must have been talking about you.” He gave Starsky a shove
toward the exit.
In the car, Starsky sat with the keys in his hand, looking thoughtfully
into space. “The Director...”
“Huggy mentioned him,” said Hutch. “He’s
the one making money off of pornos in our town.”
“And Jamie was the kind of guy who can get it up in front
of a camera,” said Starsky. “But he wasn’t ten
“I, uh, think she said twelve inches.”
“Jamie wasn’t twelve inches,” explained Hutch.
“For all we know, he could have been ten inches.”
“You want I should drive us down to the coroner’s? I’m
sure Andy has a ruler we could borrow.” Starsky started the
car, a wicked gleam in his eye.
“No, that’s quite alright,” said Hutch, primly.
“I wouldn’t want you to go to any trouble.”
“Oh, I don’t mind in the slightest.” But Starsky’s
tone was insincere and he had already turned in the other direction,
back toward the precinct.
Hutch laughed. “Why don’t we review what we’ve
got? Lois said that Jamie took off with the money from the peep
“Yeah, peep shows.” Starsky stopped at a light and gave
Hutch a quick grin. “You know, put a quarter in the slot,
get to see about two minutes of a twenty minute show. It costs about
two-fifty to see the whole movie... What? I had to try it once!”
Hutch was outraged. “You told me you wanted those quarters
for candy bars!”
“I said once!” Starsky pulled through the light
and stopped at the side of the road. “Hey, Hutch...?”
he asked, tentatively.
“What!” Hutch was still upset at the idea that Starsky
had been scamming quarters off of him to go and stare at naked chicks.
At least, he thought that was what was upsetting him. Maybe it was
the fact that he’d never thought to check out a peep show
for himself. How had he managed to overlook something like that?
“Well...,” said Starsky, slowly. “If I put a quarter
into a peep show, most of my quarter ends up going to whoever’s
funding the production and distribution of that stuff. In this case,
that mean the Director and whoever’s backing him. Maybe that
mysterious British guy Huggy mentioned.”
Hutch nodded, his curiosity overtaking his irritation.
Starsky looked troubled. “And when you took your girl to see
Fuck Rogers, that money also went to those guys. Right?”
“Well... how much of our money do you suppose has gone into
the pockets of the guys that killed Jamie T, and Al Greene, and
Hutch had no answer for him.
Delay tactics were never in order. Trevor had known something was
up the moment Bobby had reported to him that “Bentley”
had made a call and then left the house. They’d immediately
taken Doyle’s gun. Trevor had then ordered Bodie followed,
but evidently there was some confusion as to who was supposed to
carry his orders out, and by the time they’d organized themselves
Bodie had vanished.
Doyle stuck to the script. He told them he didn’t know why
Bodie had left, or where he had gone, and he said he didn’t
care. Repeat ad infinitum, ad nauseam. He looked at the heavies
holding guns on him, calculated his odds, and wondered if he’d
survive a raid. He was braced for the choppers and the sirens, any
minute now, because obviously if Trevor was leaving the country
they’d have to move in on him sooner rather than later.
He was not expecting the sound of a single car pulling up to the
door. Even less was he expecting the sight of Bodie ambling innocently
in the front entrance, seemingly astonished to be greeted with a
gun in his face.
“Where have you been?” demanded Trevor, as he reached
into the front of Bodie’s jacket and took his pistol.
Bodie was pinned between two of Trevor’s larger thugs. Doyle
remembered having been introduced to them as Karl and Josef. Bobby
was behind Doyle with another gun, which made entirely too many
armed men versus himself and Bodie. He wondered what had happened
to the raid. Evidently Cowley had a different plan in mind.
“Saw my bird,” said Bodie.
Trevor turned to Bobby. “Dial the last number he called from
here, and put it on speaker.”
Bobby walked over to the phone, and dialled with one thick brown
They all heard the sleepily irritated female voice crackle over
the speaker. “Yes? Hello? Will, you bastard! I told you it’s
Bobby disconnected the line.
“Your bird?” asked Trevor.
“She was,” said Bodie, and he looked so tragic Doyle
immediately began to worry he’d crack up laughing and ruin
everything. “I told her I wouldn’t be seeing her for
a little while. I really thought she’d wait.”
Trevor turned away with a half-laugh, tossing Bodie’s pistol
into the air and catching it by the barrel. Before Doyle had time
to react, Trevor backhanded Bodie across his face with the gun,
knocking him to his knees.
Doyle lunged forward, only to be stopped by a thick brown arm across
his throat. His shout of outrage became a throttled gasp.
Bobby leaned close to his ear. “If you care for your mate,
don’t say a word.” His voice was a harsh whisper.
Doyle, struggling to draw in air and seeing grey static move in
from the periphery of his vision, nodded frantically.
Bobby’s arm dropped down to his chest, and his hand patted
Doyle’s shoulder. Doyle considered feeding him his fingers,
and then quickly discarded the idea. Bobby could be right. If Trevor
only wanted to make an example of Bodie, then interfering could
potentially lead to both their deaths.
Bodie was on his knees on the tiled floor of the hallway, both hands
covering his face. Blood dripped between his fingers, bright red
against the stone tiles.
Trevor stepped forward and grabbed Bodie’s hair, pulling his
head back. “You’re going to have a pair of shiners to
match your mate. But I think a hard man like you needs a stronger
Bodie glared sullenly at him. “I only wanted to see my girl.”
He spat blood onto the floor by Trevor’s shoes, and wiped
the back of his hand across his mouth. “I wasn’t gone
more than twenty minutes...”
Trevor straightened. “Jane, my love.”
Bodie’s head snapped up, alarm written clearly in his expression.
Doyle felt Bobby’s hand tighten across his chest. “Don’t
move,” the deep voice whispered in his ear. “They’ll
hurt him worse if you interfere.”
Bodie bolted to his feet, trying to escape, but Karl and Josef had
their arms locked through his. They slammed him up against the wall
and held him there, next to the sixteenth century painting of a
woman taking her bath, attended by maids.
Irrelevantly, Doyle wondered why he had noticed that last detail.
This was not the time to suddenly discover that some of his art
education had stuck after all.
Jane stepped forward. She was a small brown-haired woman, ordinary
enough in appearance, dressed conservatively in a turtleneck, her
jeans tucked into high leather boots. With her whip tucked under
her arm, she almost looked like a posh young lady, ready to spend
the day riding.
Her head canted to one side, and her hands on her hips, she examined
Bodie. “Lose the shirt,” she said.
Karl and Josef each grabbed one half of Bodie’s shirt and
gave it a practiced yank, shredding it right up the middle and pulling
it off over his head. This was clearly not the first time they’d
done this. If anything, they looked bored.
Jane’s whip was short and made of braided black leather. She
dragged the tip lightly down Bodie’s spine. Bodie remained
silent, his face hidden from view, but Doyle saw the broad muscles
of his shoulders tighten.
“How permanent a lesson do you want?” asked Jane.
“Not permanent at all. A gentle lesson this time, my love,”
said Trevor, smiling. “He’ll need to be able to work
“But it’s such a beautiful back,” said Jane. “Like
an unmarked canvas.” Her whip traced a sinuous line down to
Bodie’s belt. Then, without warning, her wrist snapped and
the leather cracked, biting into his back. The welt appeared instantly,
red against white, and Bodie gasped, audibly.
“It’s the anticipation,” she explained, as the
whip trailed gently across his shoulders, lightly touching the skin
of Bodie’s neck.
The whip cracked again, another welt appearing beside the first,
This time when the whip lightly stroked Bodie’s back, Doyle
saw him shudder convulsively.
Crack. A third stripe. And a fourth. Bodie was silent when she hit
him, but when she traced the rising welts with the tip of her whip,
Doyle heard him groan.
“Pain is easy to take,” she said. “Anticipation
Doyle realized that he was shaking his head in silent denial of
what he was seeing. He forced himself to stop. Tearing his eyes
away from Bodie, he looked at Trevor instead.
He wished he hadn’t. Trevor’s lips were parted and he
was breathing heavily as he watched Jane ply her trade. Doyle tasted
bile. As soon as this was over, he was going to get Bodie away.
To hell with Cowley, and his plans. Bodie had been right. They’d
collected more than enough evidence to put Trevor away. There was
Crack. And again. And one more time after that. Nine red stripes
across Bodie’s back, from his shoulders down to his hips and
Trevor’s arousal was blatantly visible, straining at the fabric
of his trousers.
Jane stepped back and looked at Trevor. “I have to change
direction now. It’ll look very pretty, but wherever the lines
cross he’s going to bleed.”
“That’s enough then,” said Trevor. He clapped
his hands. “All right, everyone, show’s over! I want
you all ready to leave in an hour.”
Wrapping his arm around Jane’s waist, Trevor turned away,
clearly no longer interested in Bodie. “Now, as for you my
love, I can think of several other things you can do for me in the
Karl and Josef released Bodie, letting him drop heavily to his knees.
“Tough,” commented Karl, casually.
“Not bad,” agreed Josef. “The last one pissed
Bobby silently handed Doyle his weapon back, and left.
Bodie had one hand covering his face, while the other was braced
against the wall. He was blindly trying to push himself to his feet.
Doyle caught his elbow and immediately had to block a blow as Bodie
“It’s me, mate! You’re a bloody mess...”
Bodie blinked at him and then his bruised, blood-smeared face stretched
into a parody of a smile. “Not so bloody as all that…”
“Here,” said Doyle, struggling to contain his outrage.
“Let’s get you out of here.” And then I can
work out how I’m going to kill Trevor, he thought.
Bodie stiffened. “Not going anywhere, unless you mean upstairs.”
“For God’s sake!”
“Still got a job to do, remember?” Bodie’s expression
was granite. His jaw clenched, and though Doyle heard a sharp intake
of air as he climbed to his feet, he made no other sound.
Heavy footsteps alerted Doyle to the approach of another person.
He looked over and scowled at Bobby. “Bugger off.”
Bodie snarled in agreement.
Bobby’s broad forehead creased with distress. “I just
wanted to give you this.” He shoved a half-empty tube of ointment
at Doyle. “Take it. It’s good.”
“Daft sod,” said Doyle as he watched Bobby leave.
“I can’t decide...” Bodie used one hand to steady
himself against the wall. “...if he’s thick as a brick,
or a fucking genius.” He waited a moment and then pushed himself
off, walking stiffly toward the end of the hall.
Doyle wondered what Bodie meant, since all he’d seen of Bobby
would have led him to conclude the man was a moron. He decided it
wasn’t important, and moved forward to help Bodie with the
“Great timing, mate,” he commented, as lightly as he
“I ran into Father, you know.” Bodie’s knuckles
were turning white on the railing.
“Yeah, he said have a nice flight.”
So that’s Cowley’s plan, thought Doyle, dismayed. “Christ.”
“You’re off the case. The Feds are taking it over.”
“What? They can’t do that,” Starsky yelped. He
looked from his captain to the nondescript man standing behind his
captain’s desk. A man who was now looking more and more like
a weasel in a suit with every passing minute.
“Of course I can do that!” Dobey jabbed his thumb down
at the nameplate on his desk. “See this sign? It says Captain
Dobey. Captain! That means I can do whatever I want with you two
jokers, including assigning you both to traffic detail for the next
sex... I mean six weeks.”
“That’s not fair!”
“We deserve some answers,” said Hutch, much too calmly.
“At least give us that.”
Starsky recognized the dangerous tone in Hutch’s voice, and
drew consolation from the fact that he wasn’t the only one
furious at this turn of events. Hutch was slouched in the chair
in front of Dobey’s desk, looking at the Federal Agent from
under knotted eyebrows.
The man in the gray suit stepped forward. “James Turner was
supposed to deliver the money he had collected while working as
a checker at the adult theaters on your strip to a courier. Instead
he tried to steal the cash.”
Starsky eyed him distrustfully. The Fed had his hands spread, and
was doing his best to look harmless. In Starsky’s view, however,
he was all but sprouting weasel whiskers and a tail. “So whoever
was supposed to get the money tracked Jamie down and fed him to
Jaws. How is the murder of one fatally stupid kid a Federal matter?”
The man sighed. “Because we have reason to believe the money
is going out of the country, and being used to fund the importation
of drugs back into America. Specifically cocaine.”
“Out of the country,” said Hutch, thoughtfully. “To
South America was certainly where most of the drugs had lately been
imported from, thought Starsky, but the Fed had been talking about
money, not drugs. “Wait, remember that British guy?”
The man’s lips thinned. “Suffice it to say, we have
bigger concerns than one dead checker, and we don’t need you
getting in the way.”
Starsky thought fast. “Yeah? Well, what if I said I’ve
got an inside connection?”
He could feel everyone in the room staring at him. Even Hutch had
a startled expression on his face. “Jamie wasn’t just
a checker,” said Starsky. “He was gonna be the star
of the Director’s next big porno.” Okay, that was exaggerating
a bit. Lois hadn’t said anything Jamie being a star. But,
Starsky was on a roll and he wasn’t going to quit now. “And
now Jamie’s shark bait. Which means the Director’s looking
for a new star.”
“Starsk...,” said Hutch, warningly.
Starsky hooked his thumbs in his belt loops and gave them all his
most confident grin. “And I happen to believe I might be able
to fill that bill.”
Hutch covered his face with both hands and groaned.
Dobey slapped his palms down on his desk with a bang that made Starsky
jump. “I didn’t authorize an undercover operation!”
Starsky tried to backpedal, hopefully far enough to avoid the fallout
of Dobey’s wrath. “Well, it was kind of a spur of the
Hutch dragged his hands down his face and folded them together under
his chin, his elbows propped on the arms of the chair. “I
doubt there’ll be much going on under the covers...”
“You can get inside the operation?” asked the Fed, a
hint of something like eagerness in his voice. Starsky wondered
if he’d actually seen his nose twitch, or if he’d just
imagined it. Weasel.
“I’ve been offered an introduction to the Director,”
The man clucked under his breath, thoughtfully.
“No!” snapped Dobey. “Starsky, you’re out
of line. I’m not having my officers getting involved in making
pornography. I don’t care if you think you’re undercover!”
“But Hutch did that tape for the blackmail sting,” protested
Starsky. “Remember? He slept with that girl and let her tape
him doing it.”
Hutch abruptly straightened in his chair. “Thank you so much
for bringing that up!”
Starsky, realizing that he was about to lose Hutch’s support
as well, said, “Hey, you were great. There’s a reason
they play that tape at every precinct Christmas party.”
Hutch didn’t seem to take the compliment in the spirit it
was intended. “Oh, God,” he said, sinking back down
into his chair and closing his eyes.
The Fed stepped forward and held out his hand to Starsky. “I
should have introduced myself earlier. I’m Federal Agent Max
Keller. My team here is made up of two married men and a woman.
None of them want to go under in this case. If you’re willing
to work closely with us, then I could agree to using you as an undercover
operative for the duration of this investigation.”
Starsky shook his hand. Even weasels could be good guys, sometimes.
He grinned triumphantly at Dobey. “We’d get to stay
on the case!”
“I don’t like it,” rumbled Dobey.
“I’m his partner,” said Hutch. “If Starsky
stays on this case, so do I.”
“I don’t like it,” said Dobey, again.
There was silence in the room. Starsky held his breath. Dobey’s
decision would make or break this investigation.
“But I also don’t like murders going unsolved, or drugs
coming into my city,” continued Dobey.
Starsky glanced at Hutch, and together they turned to stare at Dobey,
“Okay,” snapped Dobey. “Okay!”
“I’m going to need to brief you on the case,”
said Agent Keller. “How much do you know about the porn industry
in this town?”
“Hutch worked Vice,” offered Starsky, remembering the
“Pussy Patrol” t-shirt he’d had commissioned.
Hutch’s then-wife hadn’t been impressed.
“Just for a year,” said Hutch.
“Create your cover identities.” Keller handed them a
business card. “I’ll see you at the Bay Towers Hotel,
room 28, tonight at nine.”
Bodie shifted in his seat and leaned forward, bracing his elbows
on his knees. Under different circumstances he knew he’d be
impressed. Here he was in a private plane, of the sort that had
a lounge in the front half and a soddin’ bedroom in the back.
The bathroom had gold fixtures. Karl, Josef and Bobby were having
a good enough time, helping themselves to the contents of the bar
and chatting amicably among themselves.
But Bodie’s shirt was sticking to the oily salve Doyle had
smeared on his back, and every time he moved, it pulled. His nose
was throbbing dully and he’d lost peripheral vision in his
right eye. And all he could hear from the bedroom were gasps and
grunts as Trevor shagged the stewardesses. Who weren’t real
stewardesses, anyway, just more of his airhead birds decked out
in tiny skirts.
There was something fundamentally unfair about a universe that rewarded
mean bastards like Trevor with money – inherited from rich
parents who’d had the good taste to die young. And big houses.
Also inherited from the aforementioned dead parents. And fancy cars.
Purchased himself, because Trevor would never drive an old car.
And all the brainless blonde birds a man could ever want.
It wasn’t even as if he was good looking. He was just a short
stout sod with thinning ginger hair.
When Bodie had first gone undercover as Trevor’s personal
bodyguard, he’d relished living the good life vicariously.
With no real threats to Trevor’s life in the offing, he’d
been able to enjoy the expensive clothes, the fine food and the
parties. But it had worn thin quickly.
There was the first time Trevor had held a gun to a bird’s
head while he fucked her, and Bodie had wondered if he was going
to have to blow his cover to save her coked-up little arse. There
was also the first time he’d come across a guest getting sick
in the bathroom, asked if he could help, and was greeted with a
demand to cop a hit of heroin, but quick!
“Why do you do this to yourself?” he’d asked one
pretty young girl.
She’d been humming a song to herself, leaning against him
as she watched the sun set over the river that wound through the
back of Trevor’s property. She stopped and tilted her head
back to smile at him. “Because I’m beautiful and everyone
loves me. Because I can be anyone I want, do anything I want, go
anywhere I want, and someone else will pay for it. Because I can
dance with a drink in my hand.”
And then, a week later, Trevor had her beaten in front of thirty-five
drunken bastards for his own personal amusement.
Bodie sighed and shifted his weight from one elbow to the other,
glancing over at Doyle.
“You can peel your nose off the window, mate,” said
Bodie. “There’s nothing to see.” The pilot had
them cruising above a layer of cumulous clouds, just miles of great
puffy white piles with an impossibly blue sky above.
Doyle looked away from the window, leaned back in his seat and stretched
his long legs out in front of him. His sunglasses were tucked neatly
into his breast pocket. Up here, he had no more need to cover his
bruises than Bodie did.
Bodie eyed him enviously. He’d like to be able to lean back,
but it would be murder on his back.
“What’s that magazine?” asked Doyle, nodding at
the one in Bodie’s hand.
“Mayfair,” said Bodie. “You already read all the
articles, and you told me the birds were boring.”
“Plucked and painted within an inch of their lives,”
said Doyle. “I like some authenticity, right?” His eyes
flicked to the back of the plane as one of the girls with Trevor
shrieked, no doubt faking her orgasm.
Bodie inclined his head fractionally toward the bedroom. “What
about you? Are you a member of the mile high club?”
Doyle looked thoughtful. “Had a stewardess once. But she wasn’t
flying at the time.”
“Don’t think it counts then.”
They fell silent as the door to the bedroom opened, and Trevor emerged
with a girl hanging off either arm. He helped himself to a drink,
and then came over and sat down across from them. “You two
look positively stiff. Relax! If I’m not safe cruising at
this altitude, where am I safe?”
He seemed to have forgotten about the events of the morning, and
was now all jolly good humour and generosity. Bodie had already
pocketed one American hundred dollar bill, which Trevor had told
him to use to replace that shirt.
As if it had been destroyed accidentally, somehow.
Bodie glanced over at the window. “A rocket launcher--.”
Doyle kicked him, warningly.
Trevor didn’t seem to notice. He had pulled one of the mini-skirted
birds onto his lap and was licking the side of her neck, making
her giggle. “You’ve got to try this one. She’s
fucking fantastic. What’s that you were saying, darling? Before,
The girl smiled. “I said you can fly me.”
“Fly me, hah!” Trevor laughed, expansively. “Great
slogan. God, I love Americans.” He grabbed the girl around
her waist and stood her up in front of him. “Here, love, why
don’t you pick one of those two and give ‘im a ride?
I’d like to see it from the ground, if you know what I mean.”
Bodie shot Doyle a quick glance, only to find Doyle looking just
as alarmed as he felt.
“Oh,” said the girl. She slipped her index finger into
her mouth and sucked on it thoughtfully as she regarded them both.
Then she smiled and leaned down to kiss Bodie on his cheek. “I
like this one. He looks dangerous.”
No, thought Bodie. No fucking way. “I don’t like being
watched,” he said, flatly.
Trevor stopped smiling. “I think for what I pay you, you can
like whatever I tell you to like.”
I’m going to die, thought Bodie, fatalistically. I’m
going to die because there’s no conceivable way I could ever
get it up with that fat little toad staring at me. Maybe I can kill
him first, before Karl or Josef realize what’s going on.
The girl draped herself over Bodie’s shoulders, causing him
to grit his teeth as her weight came down on his abused back. She
ran her fingers down the inside of his thighs, and he thought he’d
never felt anything less erotic in his life.
Bodie grabbed her arm in a firm grip, eliciting a squeak of alarm.
“I said, no!”
Trevor’s expression darkened.
But before he could speak, Doyle stood up.
“Come here, love.” Doyle took the girl from Bodie and
sat back down, settling her in his lap. “Don’t mind
him. He’s just shy.”
Placated for the moment, Trevor leaned back in his chair and took
a sip of his drink.
The tension in aircraft eased noticeably. There was a quiet series
of snaps as safeties were once more engaged, hands dropped away
from pistols, and Karl and the others resumed their conversation.
Bodie realized belatedly that they had all been on high alert while
he was facing off against Trevor. Watching him. Maybe they weren’t
as stupid as they looked.
“I think he bruised my arm,” complained the girl in
Doyle’s lap. She looked excessively young, with a fine blonde
fringe cut straight across her forehead. Her lips were full, red,
Doyle captured her arm and looked at it seriously. Then he kissed
She laughed. “Much! Would you like to see what I can
Doyle was working his way up her shoulder with his lips, pushing
her short sleeve up to bare more skin. “What would that be?”
She slid off his lap and pushed his knees open. “You’ll
like this,” she said as she knelt between his legs.
Bodie decided to get himself a drink. He didn’t feel like
sitting next to Doyle while he got a blowjob. But as soon as he
started to push himself to his feet, Trevor shook his head. “You
don’t want to miss this,” he said. “Once in a
“I’ve seen-,” started Bodie.
“You’ve never seen this,” said Trevor.
Bodie sat down. Despite his misgivings, his curiosity was piqued.
What did this girl have going for her that made her blowjobs so
much more special than anyone else’s?
Even Doyle seemed intrigued. He was more than half hard by the time
she’d worked his zip down. He glanced up and met Bodie’s
gaze with an embarrassed look in his eyes.
Bodie looked away, uncomfortably. If he could have had his way,
he’d grab both Doyle and the girl, toss them into the bedroom
and lock the door. When he looked back, the girl was taking Doyle
into her red mouth, her eyes closed.
Just a blowjob, he thought. But the girl’s head kept going
lower. And lower. She began breathing noisily through her nose and
Bodie realized what Trevor had meant. She was taking Doyle right
down into her throat. Just like in that movie.
Doyle’s eyes were very wide and his expression was far more
astonished than aroused. Saliva was beginning to leak from the corners
of the girl’s mouth and she was making an incredible amount
of noise. Bodie glanced up and found Karl, Josef and Bobby all craning
their necks to see. He tried scowling at them, but they ignored
him, grinning and elbowing each other.
And then Bodie looked down and saw that Trevor had undone his own
zip and was pumping himself enthusiastically with his fat fist.
Bodie had just discovered his own personal definition of hell. Trapped
in a jet with Doyle getting deep throated on the one side, and Trevor
tossing himself off on the other, and an audience of slavering morons
thrown in for good measure.
It was the longest flight of Bodie’s life.
Trevor came first, casually using the hand towel that Bobby gave
him to clean up. Doyle took quite a bit longer. Bodie suspected
he must be feeling some performance anxiety. Though, from the look
on his face after his eyes closed and his hips began to move, he
was having a pretty good time. Doyle’s orgasm, when it finally
arrived, was most definitely not faked.
All things considered, however, Bodie was relieved it wasn’t
him getting drooled on.
An hour later, Trevor had once more disappeared into the bedroom
with the girls, evidently having done his charity bit for the flight.
Doyle was back to staring out the window. He didn’t seem inclined
to talk after his experience with the blonde bird, and everyone
else had gone back to ignoring the two of them.
The silence began to wear heavily. “And the amber waves of
grain,” quoted Bodie, catching a glimpse of patchwork fields
below when the plane banked.
Doyle shrugged without taking his eyes from the window. “My
first time abroad, and already I’m bored to tears.”
“Cabin service not to your taste?” asked Bodie. Then
he thought that Doyle might not want to be reminded of that just
yet. “Travel really isn’t all it’s cracked up
to be. But the good news is that we’re closer than we were
five hours ago.”
This time Doyle actually looked at him. “Cracked up? Practising
your Americanisms, are you?”
“Could do my John Wayne impression.” Bodie immediately
dropped his voice to a Western drawl. “All them thar cow-pokes
will mistake me for one of they own.” He was acting the fool,
he knew it. But he had his reward in Doyle’s laugh.
“That’s dreadful,” said Doyle, grinning. “They’ll
mistake you for a lunatic, is what.”
Satisfied, Bodie started to lean back in his seat. His back immediately
reminded him of why that was a bad idea. He decided to get himself
another drink instead. “I must be a lunatic,” he said,
as he got up.
Bodie collected two bottles of beer, and turned. “Stopped
in New York for refuelling, and never once stepped out to take in
the sights. No Times Square. No Statue of Liberty.” He heard
a rumble of agreement from Bobby, who had his nose buried in a dirty
“Where are we now?” asked Doyle.
“I’m not sure, exactly. Middle America. If we headed
South we’d hit the Mississippi River, and Memphis, Tennessee.”
Bodie sat back down with Doyle and handed him a beer.
“Thinking of dropping in on Elvis?”
Bodie tried his impersonation of the King. “Uh-huh, uh-huh.”
Doyle shook his head, pityingly.
“C’mon, Hutch. There’s no downside to this. Me
and a bevy of beauties, keeping America safe from drugs...”
To Hutch, it sounded as if Starsky was trying to convince himself
that he could make this undercover operation work.
Hutch looked dubiously at the entrance to the Aphrodite Club. Black
silhouette cut outs of dancing girls decorated the marquee of the
old theater building, and a neon sign trumpeted ‘Live! Girls!’
“What if the Director decides a Jewish guy from New York isn’t
what he’s looking for?”
Starsky had been paying attention during Federal Agent Keller’s
briefing. “Well, given that before the Director was a big
shot, he was Teddy Stanke from Pensacola, I think he might have
some sympathy. And anyway, I’m not going to be myself, am
“Oh, right.” Hutch grimaced. “You’re who,
again? Studly Hungwell?”
“Funny.” Starsky jabbed Hutch in the chest with his
forefinger. “You do realize that if my audition falls through,
you’re going to have to step up to the plate.”
“Oh, no.” Hutch shook his head. “No, no, no.”
“Why not? It’s not like you’re some kind of blushing
“Starsky, that’s not the point. You’re not just
doing the girl. You’re doing her in front of a crowd of people
with cameras running. Everyone’s going to be staring at you!”
Starsky’s eyes went unfocused, no doubt seeing visions of
naked girls dancing in his head. “Yeah... Kind of a turn on,
Hutch glanced down, observed the material evidence of Starsky’s
current state of mind, and sighed. Then he reached over and pinched
Starsky’s thigh. Hard. “No, it’s not. Because
I’m not an exhibitionist.”
“Ow!” Starsky gave him a wounded look, and rubbed his
leg. “I’m not an exhibitionist!”
Hutch felt no guilt. He’d successfully distracted Starsky’s
mind – and other parts south – from the girls for the
“Well, not like that, anyway,” clarified Starsky. “You
make it sound so dirty, when really it’s just that I don’t
have a bunch of hang-ups about my body like you do.”
Hutch decided he’d had enough of this conversation. “Fine,
hot shot. Let’s go and see if the Director will buy that manly
body of yours.” He opened the car door and got out, letting
Starsky scramble to catch up as he crossed the street.
The Aphrodite club was busier than they’d expected. Starsky
and Hutch stopped just inside the door, briefly dazzled by the lights
and noise. A girl in a fringed leather jacket bumped into Hutch’s
back. He tried to move out of her way and ended up knocking Starsky
into an alarmingly large tattooed man. Apologies were proffered
hastily and Hutch grabbed Starsky and looked for a safer spot to
Shoved into a corner, they stopped and simply stared. There was
a circular stage in the center of the room, and smaller stages in
each of the corners. The music was excessively loud and Hutch could
feel the heavy throbbing beat right down in the soles of his shoes.
“What’s that?” shouted Starsky, gesturing at the
“I think that’s supposed to be Annie Oakley,”
Hutch shouted back.
“Sure, but is the person playing her a guy or a girl?”
The burlesque performer was doing a slow striptease, making good
use of both cowboy hat and gun.
“We’ll find out when that gun belt comes off, won’t
we?” Hutch sincerely hoped ‘Annie’ wasn’t
actually putting the barrel of that weapon where it appeared to
be going. Maybe it was a water pistol?
“Oh, hey! I know you guys.”
Hutch jumped, startled by the voice behind him. He turned and found
himself looking down into a familiar face. “Lois! You said
you would connect us with the Director.”
Her expression brightened. “Both of you?” Lois was wearing
a costume that appeared to consist primarily of the shredded remains
of a beaded curtain. And for some reason, it made her look more
naked than ever.
“Uh, no. Actually, just him.”
Starsky seemed to have gone catatonic, so Hutch grabbed his arm
and dragged him forward.
“Aw, too bad. Both of you would be kinda neat. You know, dark
and blond, together on one girl. Sexy.”
“That’s, uh...” Hutch stumbled over his words
for a moment. The naked lust in Lois’ eyes was disturbing.
“N-not our thing.”
“Well, you’re in luck,” said Lois. “The
Director’s here, and he’s going out of his mind because
he hasn’t got enough barbarians for the shoot tomorrow.”
Hutch heard Starsky ask, “Barbarians?” But he didn’t
hear Lois’s answer, if she gave him one. She had Starsky by
the hand and was dragging him across the room, toward a booth near
the main stage. Hutch followed in their wake, trying to remain inconspicuous.
There were three men at the table, one of whom was shouting into
a mobile phone, of the kind Hutch had seen once or twice in Starsky’s
car magazines. The cutting edge of telephone technology. He slammed
the handset down just as Lois arrived at the table with Starsky
“I want to introduce you to...” She turned to Starsky.
“Hey, I never got your name!”
“Harvey,” said Starsky.
“See?” she announced. “I’ve found a new
actor for you. His name’s Harvey. Do I get my finder’s
The Director was a thin man with a long narrow face. He examined
Starsky critically. “Only if he works out, darling, you know
Lois pouted. “But just look how cute he is!”
“Hi,” said Starsky.
“Cute are a dime a dozen,” said the Director to Lois.
“The question is, can he perform?”
“I had the lead role in my high school play, four years running,”
Hutch winced. They’d planned a more convincing background,
but it sounded as if Starsky had forgotten and was falling back
on his real life experience instead.
“See, there was this one time the girl who was supposed to
play Camille couldn’t make it, and neither could her understudy,
Oh yeah, Starsky was definitely drawing from his own life. He was
And the Director was looking bored. This was not good.
Lois slapped Starsky’s chest with the palm of her hand. “No,
silly! That’s not what he means. C’mon, let’s
show him what you can do.”
“What?” said Starsky.
Lois turned and leaned over onto the stage, her beaded skirt flying
up to reveal tiny silver underpants beneath. “Sissy! Hey,
Sissy – definitely revealed as a girl now, though a lean and
rangy sort – was finishing up her cowboy act with a demonstration
of rope tricks. She paused and gave Lois an inquiring look.
“We want you to rope this dude,” said Lois. “He
thinks he’s Grade A.”
There was a scattering of whistles from the spectators around the
stage, and a few shouts of ‘go for it!’
“What?” said Starsky, again.
“Go on,” said Lois, urgently. “Get up on stage.
You want to be a star, you’ve got to show the Director your
stuff. Don’t worry, Sissy will take care of everything.”
Hutch thought this might be the moment when Starsky would call the
whole deal off. He knew that’s what he’d do if he were
in Starsky’s shoes.
Instead, Starsky hesitantly climbed up onto the edge of the stage.
He rocked nervously on the balls of his feet.
Sissy smiled and beckoned him forward with one finger.
Starsky took one slow step forward, and then another. Without warning,
Sissy whipped the rope over her head and threw a perfect loop over
him. As it fell down to his knees, she yanked it sharply.
Starsky landed on his rear with a thud and Sissy pounced onto him.
She straddled him and pumped her fist in the air to the cheers of
the spectators. Then she leaned down and whispered something into
Starsky’s ear. Starsky began to grin.
Hutch felt a presence at his side, and looked down to see Lois standing
next to him. “The Director just had to let a guy go, because
he was having problems with his penis,” she said, conversationally.
“So if your friend works out, he’ll be really happy.”
“Problems with his, um...?”
“Yeah,” said Lois. “He just couldn’t get
it to stay up. I must’ve used up a whole tube of lipstick
trying to fluff him up for the camera. I mean, he was real good-looking,
but... you know what I think?”
Sissy had turned herself around and was unbuttoning Starsky’s
jeans. Suddenly Starsky drew his knees up and rolled her over beneath
him, kicking the rope off his feet. Sissy gave Starsky a quick nod
and Hutch realized they were acting out some sort of prearranged
“Hey!” said Lois.
“Oh, uh...” Hutch tried to remember what she’d
been saying. “What do you think?”
Now Starsky was tying Sissy’s feet to her hands, as if she
was a calf. Everyone in the room was now staring at the stage, whooping
Hutch could feel himself shriveling up at the mere of thought of
being on stage in Starsky’s place. But Starsky... God, Starsky
looked like he was in his element, playing to the crowd.
“Well,” said Lois. “What you’ve got to realize
is that this guy’s big claim to fame was that he did double
“He did what?” Hutch dragged his attention away from
the stage and focused on Lois with a frown. She couldn’t have
just said what he thought she’d said.
“Double penetration,” explained Lois, patiently. “You
know one guy up the girl’s pussy, and the other up her ass.
It’s not as much fun as it looks. It’s sweaty and nasty,
and most guys have a hard time keeping it up when their penis is
rubbing against another guy’s penis.”
Starsky’s penis, on the other hand, was currently in Sissy’s
face. She was kneeling in front of him, still wrapped up in her
own rope, and talking quickly. Starsky nodded, then took her head
in one hand, and guided himself into her mouth.
Hutch felt like his own balls might be taking up permanent residence
in his abdomen. His libido had been so thoroughly traumatized, it
was never going to come back out to play again.
The crowd was chanting, “Do her! Do her!” And –
Good God, thought Hutch – Starsky was thrusting in time with
“But what was I supposed to say?” asked Lois, undisturbed.
“Baby, you need to just accept yourself and get a job doing
Hutch made a vague sound of agreement, still watching Starsky. From
the look of intense concentration on his face, Hutch assumed he
must be right on the edge. He glanced over at the Director and found
him leaning forward with an expression of approval.
The noise of the crowd changed to a roar, followed by applause.
Hutch turned around just in time to see Starsky pull back and finish
right in Sissy’s face. The music cut out for a moment, and
the ambient noise shifted to conversation and laughter.
Starsky tucked himself back into his jeans and then knelt to help
Sissy out of her ropes. Hutch heard him ask, “How was I?”
“You got it in my eye, you goof!” But Sissy was laughing.
She stood and kissed him on the cheek. “You were fine, really.
You showed them the money shot, and that’s what counts.”
As she hopped off the stage, she made an A-OK sign with her thumb
and forefinger at the Director.
Starsky slid off the stage looking abashed now that the attention
was off of him. The Director pulled out a notebook ledger, and wrote
something inside. Then he looked up. “Name?”
“Uh... Harvey Wallbanger,” said Starsky.
The Director gave him an impatient glare. “Your real name.
And I’ll need to see some ID.”
“Dave Steinberg,” said Starsky. Reaching into his pocket
he produced the fake ID Agent Kelly had given him. “Am I going
to be in a movie? How much do I get paid?”
“You’ll get a hundred dollars a day, paid in cash after
the film’s in the can.” Sharp eyes examined Starsky,
from his navy blazer down to his sneakers. “We can work out
an advance if you need money for food or rent.”
“A hundred dollars a day! And an advance?” Starsky’s
eyes were very round. He looked over at Hutch, questioningly.
Hutch shook his head. Taking the Director’s money, even in
support of an undercover role, wouldn’t be smart.
“Nah,” said Starsky, regretfully. “I’m a
little short, sure. But I’ve got a buddy looking out for me.”
“Your choice,” said the Director, clearly not interested
in explanations. “We’ll be shooting at 1475 Beachside.
Tomorrow, 7 a.m. Don’t be late.” Digging into his pocket
he came up with a small vial of white powder. He flipped it to Lois,
who caught it. “There you go, your finder’s fee.”
“Gee, thanks!” Lois left without a backward look at
either Starsky or Hutch.
For a moment, Hutch entertained the thought of walking up to the
Director and busting his ass right here in front of everyone.
Starsky grabbed his arm. “I know what you’re thinking,”
“It’d be worth it,” said Hutch, wistfully imagining
frog-marching the Director out of the building in cuffs.
“No, it wouldn’t,” said Starsky, shepherding him
towards the exit. “And you know it.”
Hutch did know it. One vial of coke wouldn’t get the Director
even a day of jail time, and the Federal case would be blown to
hell. “But it’s a sweet fantasy, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah,” said Starsky, and the hunger in his voice
was far more intense than any emotion he’d shown on stage.
Inside the car, the silence was almost palpable when contrasted
with the noise and lights of the club. Instead of driving away immediately,
Starsky leaned back in his seat and ran his fingers through his
hair with a tired groan.
“Well, you did it,” said Hutch.
“Oh jeez, Hutch,” said Starsky, with sudden dismay.
“I’m a porn star. If my mom finds out, she’ll
It was dark by the time Trevor’s plane taxied into Bay City
Doyle watched Trevor slip a thick wad of American dollars to a man
in uniform, no doubt so that the fellow would overlook the minor
issue of their guns. And then it was simply a matter of waiting
for the bags to be loaded and the limousine to arrive.
Outside the airport, Doyle stood back from the others, next to Bodie.
He looked around with keen interest, smelling salt in the air and
taking in the unfamiliar shapes of the potted palm trees lined up
opposite the loading lane. Bay City seemed excessively green to
his eyes. Fern-like plants sprouted from every corner.
The night was hot and humid, and there was something unsettling
about the way the vehicles were all travelling on the opposite side
of the road. It felt as if he’d stepped into a mirror universe.
Even the buses looked different. Longer and squarer, somehow.
“So how does it feel to be a member of the mile high club?”
asked Bodie, quietly.
Doyle grimaced. “I’ve been contemplating taking a vow
of celibacy when we get back home.”
“Isn’t that a bit drastic? You seemed to enjoy yourself.”
“The bird was lovely, but when His Lordship whipped out his
dumpy little cock and started wanking...” Doyle shuddered.
If he could choose one memory to wipe from his mind, that would
be the one.
Still, it wasn’t all bad, because here he was in America.
Not that he’d be playing the tourist. And he certainly wasn’t
going to make a berk of himself by getting excited about it in front
of Bodie, who’d travelled just about everywhere...
Bodie nudged his shoulder. “Exciting, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” said Doyle, grinning despite himself.
1475 Beachside turned out to be a large warehouse, as anonymous
as any along that strip of road. A small paper sign tacked up by
the door identified it as the home of ‘BabeView Productions’.
Starsky had imagined something like the amateur soft core set-ups
he’d occasionally stumbled across during busts. A Super-8
camera or two. A few lights. Girls in costume, and everyone tripping
over each other, crammed into the basement of someone’s home.
This was entirely different. In fact, what it resembled more than
anything was a Hollywood soundstage. There were dollies and rolling
ladders and boom mikes. Scaffolding against the walls. At one end
of the warehouse, workmen were piling boulders on top of each other
and sticking branches in among them. A generator hummed nearby as
electricians worked to untangle a twisted nest of wires and lighting
arrays. Two plaster Greek columns leaned against the wall, next
to a facade of a full-scale Greek temple.
Well, perhaps three-quarter scale, Starsky amended silently. He’d
never seen a Greek temple in person, so he had no idea how big they
actually were. He did, however, have a suspicion that the temple
columns were not usually statues of naked chicks with big boobs.
But if they were, he wanted a plane ticket to Greece ASAP.
At the other end of the warehouse there were racks of clothes lined
up, chairs, and a long mirror at which girls in bathrobes were having
their make-up done. There was one girl, sitting in an old dentist’s
chair, with her knees spread... Starsky blinked and looked again.
She appeared to be getting her pubic hair trimmed and styled.
He nudged Hutch. “Will you look at--.”
“What are you doing here?”
Starsky jumped and turned to find an older woman glaring at the
two of them, a clipboard tucked under her arm.
“Uh, I’m Harvey, I mean Dave Steinberg, and this is
a friend of mine,” said Starsky, quickly. “I was told
to be here...”
“You’re on the list. He’s not. We don’t
need any more performers,” said the woman, sternly. “And
even if I was inclined to arrange an audition for him...”
Hutch paled. “No, no. I-I’m, I’m not... I mean,
Starsky grabbed Hutch’s arm. They had to play this right,
because it was going to look very suspicious if Hutch had to provide
backup from a car parked across the street. “He doesn’t
want to act, he’s got stage fright. It’s just, he’s
my best friend...
“Oh!” interrupted a familiar female voice. “Oh,
you mean he’s your friend? Well, that explains a lot!”
Starsky turned to see Sissy standing in the door with her hands
on her hips. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, her hair pulled
back into a casual pony tail and she had a gym bag over her shoulder.
“I thought you were just nervous last night, but if you really
prefer boys...” Sissy examined Hutch for a moment, and then
gave an appreciative whistle. “I totally get the attraction.
“Wait a minute! You said I was really good,” protested
“Oh, sure, sweetie, but a girl knows when a guy’s mind
is somewhere else. Don’t deny it. You wouldn’t be the
first actor who’s mostly gay.” Sissy patted his cheek,
“Can you be mostly gay?” asked Hutch, curiously.
Sissy laughed. “Sure, you can. I mean, I mostly prefer girls
myself. I fuck guys for money, and I fuck girls for fun.”
She threaded her arm through Hutch’s elbow, and leaned in
close to his ear. “To be perfectly honest, I’m glad
you’re gay. It simplifies things. ’Cause there’s
nothing sadder than having some stud think he’s in love with
you, just because you did a couple of scenes with him.”
The woman with the clipboard scowled ferociously. “Director
ain’t gonna like it.”
“Let’s see,” said Sissy. Unconcerned, she released
Hutch and strolled over to a door a few feet away. After a cursory
knock, she opened it and said, “Hey! Harvey here’s got
a friend. He wants to hang on set, make sure it’s all
on the up and up.”
There was a moment’s silence, and then the Director appeared
and looked at Hutch. “He ain’t fuckin’ the talent!”
Sissy sighed dramatically. “No, I said he’s a friend.
Like, special, you know? Like Albert’s friend.”
The Director tapped a cigarette out of the pack in his hand. “Yeah,
I remember seeing him last night. Not jealous, is he?” He
examined Hutch suspiciously.
Hutch shook his head. “No, I’m not the jealous type
Starsky looked at Hutch’s wide-eyed, please-believe-me expression
and felt a bubble of hysterical laughter begin to well up inside.
He bit his lip hard, and tried to think of very serious things.
Like the fact that the Director could easily have both him and Hutch
fed to the sharks if he ever found out they were cops.
“Can he do anything? I don’t need another useless boyfriend,
manager, pimp, or whatever disrupting the shooting.” The Director
lit his cigarette, and waited for an answer.
“I don’t suppose you’re artistic,” asked
the woman with the clipboard. She sounded as if she didn’t
expect much from Hutch.
“Uh, I paint,” offered Hutch.
“No,” said Sissy. “She means, can you do hair?
Make-up? Costumes? Anything like that? Anna’s been doing the
costumes, but she could use some help.”
“Yeah,” agreed the older woman. “We always need
more help there.”
Starsky decided this was definitely the right time to jump in. “He’s
great at costumes! He even sews.” Which might be a bit of
an exaggeration, as the only thing Starsky had ever seen Hutch sew
were buttons. But that still counted as sewing, surely.
“I do?” asked Hutch, giving him a startled glance. Then
he seemed to realize that everyone was waiting expectantly for his
answer. “I mean, yeah, I do!”
Sissy turned back to the Director with a triumphant grin. “There
you go. We got another costume designer!”
“Oh boy,” said Hutch, apprehensively.
The Director shrugged. “Fine,” he said. “Come
into my office. I’ll take down your information. Don’t
expect me to pay you as much as I pay him. Actors get more than
the day help. And I hope you remembered to bring ID.” He didn’t
wait for an answer, turning and disappearing back into his office
without a backward glance.
“See you later,” said Starsky.
Hutch gave him a wan smile, and trudged over to the Director’s
Sissy punched Starsky lightly on the shoulder. “I’m
glad that’s all sorted out. Now, I’ve got to go and
get dressed. Rosa here will look after you. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Break a leg, and knock ‘em dead.” She grabbed her gym
bag and trotted quickly over toward the make up area. Several of
the girls greeted her cheerfully.
Starsky found himself alone, except for Rosa who was looking at
him with a narrow-lipped expression of disapproval. It was alarmingly
close to the look he’d imagine his mother would be giving
him if she was here right now, and he shifted uncomfortably. “Uh,
do I get a script?”
“Script? You are new at this, aren’t you?”
Rosa snorted and started across the room. Starsky followed her.
“Listen up. The film is Gonad the Barbarian. You’re
one of the barbarian horde. You and your pals come across a tribe
of lesbian Amazons, and you first beat them all in battle, and then
you introduce them to the wonders of sex with a real red-blooded
man, thereby converting each and every one of them to heterosexuality.”
“I’m really a barbarian?” Starsky thought that
sounded pretty good. Especially if he got to carry a sword.
“You’re...” Rosa checked her clipboard. “Barbarian
Number Six. And lucky you, it looks like you actually get a couple
of lines, and a name. Crogar. Don’t worry, we’ll tell
you what to say when it’s time.”
“CroGAR! Now getcher cute little ass over to the costume rack
and let your buddy fix you up with a loin cloth. We start filming
in an hour.”
Precisely an hour later, somehow chaos had turned into order. The
Director was in his chair, coaching girls through their lines. Spray
bottles and tubs of Vaseline were lined up just outside of camera
range, and Starsky was waiting to invade with several other ‘barbarians’.
And the star of the movie. Gonad the Barbarian. Starsky tried not
to stare. He’d gone through life happily aware that he was
a little larger than average, and he’d had a girl once tell
him that his penis was “pretty”. He supposed that meant
“Gonad” made him feel inadequate. And he couldn’t
even hate him for it. The guy was a big, good-natured kid of about
twenty. While the other guys were pumping themselves up, with a
little help from someone who called herself a “fluff girl”,
Gonad already had his loincloth tented out almost a foot.
And when he caught Starsky staring, Gonad gave him an engaging smile
and said, “It’s the cameras. Soon as I hear them rolling,
I just get hard. Dunno what it is.”
Starsky looked down at his own sadly cowed penis and tried to think
sexy thoughts. C’mon, little buddy, you can do it.
And then he thought, oh hell, you really are little, aren’t
The fluff girl stopped in front of him and propped her hands on
her hips. “Oh, for goodness sake! Didn’t I just do you?”
She dropped to her knees and reached under his loincloth.
“Eep!” Starsky tried to step back, but she had her fingers
behind his balls. “Really, I’m good. Look, it’s
already coming up!” One good jolt of adrenaline was all it
took to get his hard-on back, and for the first time in his life
Starsky was grateful for that particular panic reaction. It was
embarrassing as hell in the gym, but he couldn’t have asked
for anything better here.
She dropped back onto her heels. “Well, make sure you keep
it up. We’re not having five barbarians with hard-ons, and
one who’s floppy, running out there to conquer the Amazons.”
Gonad leaned over and said, “Pinch yourself just at the base.
See like I’m doing? That keeps the blood all trapped, so you
won’t go soft again.”
“Thanks!” Starsky pinched himself grimly. He was relieved
to discover that the technique actually worked. And after a moment
he began to relax.
Hutch was nearby making some final adjustments to several of the
costumes. Still holding himself, Starsky glanced over his shoulder.
“Don’t you think you could have cut this a bit longer?”
Starsky used his free hand to tug at the scrap of leather covering
his groin. He felt ridiculously naked. He’d been plucked and
shaved within an inch of his life. They’d taken all the hair
off his shoulders and back, and even most of the hair on his stomach.
At least they’d let him keep his chest hair, and he’d
flatly refused to let them anywhere near his groin with the scissors.
He’d reluctantly trimmed down there himself, uncomfortably
reminded of the last time he’d had to cut his pubic hair,
when he’d got chewing gum stuck in it.
“Do you want to look like you’re wearing a loin cloth,
or a diaper?” snapped Hutch, sounding harried.
“Excuse me, Ken?” interrupted Lois. “I don’t
think this shows off my breasts to their best advantage.”
She was wearing a white sheet, cut into squares and knotted at the
shoulder. A plastic sword belt held the entire assemblage together
at her waist.
Without missing a beat, Hutch reached out and seized the front of
her outfit with both hands. One sharp tug and the sheet ripped right
down the front and fell open, exposing her breasts. “Hang
on!” he said, before she could protest. Grabbing a role of
double sided tape, he ripped two pieces off. Taking great care,
he stuck one on each of her nipples, and then he pressed the sides
of her costume to the tape. “There!”
Lois looked down at herself. She gave a tentative bounce, and then
grinned when her costume stayed in place. “Hey, this is great!”
She ran off, happily.
“Buddy, I think you’ve got a future in this business,”
said Starsky, scratching his denuded left shoulder.
Hutch shook his head. “I’m just glad none of this actually
Then the guy with the horn blew it really loud, and that was the
signal for the invasion. Starsky grabbed his plastic ax and ran.
The first impression Bodie had when he stepped out of the front
door of the hotel was of a solid wall of heat. For a brief moment
he was transported back to another country, on a darker continent.
But the roar of traffic was reassuringly modern, and the words of
the people passing by, while strongly accented, were still English.
He stepped aside and waited for Trevor, continuing to scan the street.
The impression he got was of a new city, crumbling only a little
around the edges. The downtown buildings were all modern, canyons
of brick and steel towers. On the drive in from the airport he’d
seen a little of the outlying suburbs, and had a vague impression
of large homes with flat roofs, done up in white and assorted pastel
There were many more black faces around than he was used to seeing,
though mostly on the hotel’s staff, rather than as guests.
Doyle joined him.
“What’s the delay?” asked Bodie. He shifted his
weight, feeling the fabric of his shirt rub against the still-sensitive
skin of his back. The heat was oppressive.
“He’s chatting up the maid,” said Doyle.
Bodie nodded wisely. “I remember her. She’s got those
lovely, big...” He paused. “Eyes.”
“Trust you to notice her eyes,” said Doyle, with disgust.
A moment later, though, he grinned. “They are very nice, though.”
The rotating door turned and Karl and Josef joined them outside.
“What heat!” commented Josef, squinting up at the sky.
Karl looked at Bodie and Doyle suspiciously. “You two are
like twins. Where there’s one, there’s the other, and
always ducking off to talk where no one else can hear.”
Bodie felt a stab of alarm, but he was careful to show nothing but
contempt for the implied accusation. “No more than you and
your mate there. I’ve heard the rumours about you two lovebirds.”
Josef laughed mockingly. He hit Karl on the shoulder. “Hear
that, mate? They think they’ve sussed us out!”
Karl scowled, and crossed his arms.
Doyle’s expression matched Karl’s. “I know him,”
he said, indicating Bodie. “I don’t know either of you.”
“Fair enough,” said Karl. “But maybe you want
to try being a little friendlier, and a lot less exclusive. Some
rumours are worse than others.”
Bodie was glad for his sunglasses, and not because the day was bright.
Karl was right, and it was entirely his own fault. When he’d
first started on Trevor’s staff he’d been impersonally
friendly with everyone, not forming any close attachments but not
alienating anyone either. By the time Doyle had shown up he’d
been so lonely, and so bloody glad to see a friendly face, that
he’d attached himself to him without reservation or caution.
No wonder Karl was suspicious.
The problem, Bodie realized, was that he had no idea how to fix
the situation. “Be yourself” just didn’t cover
it. He took a cautious sideways look at Doyle, but he was staring
straight ahead, his expression unreadable.
Fuck, thought Bodie.
Just like on a real movie set, lunch was provided for the actors
and crew. A long table was set up and there were ham, tuna, or egg
salad sandwiches to choose from, as well as several different kinds
of cold deli salads, pickles and cheeses.
Starsky sat near the back wall with his paper plate, far enough
out of the way that he could talk to Hutch without being overheard.
In any case, anyone who saw them whispering together would assume
they were getting all romantic with each other. Which under different
circumstances might bother Starsky a bit, but definitely not here.
“You know what gets to me the most, Hutch?” Starsky
stuffed half a sandwich into his mouth and chewed it ferociously.
“It’s how damned un-erotic this job is. It’s putting
me right off sex.”
Hutch looked over to where the Director was in his chair, reshooting
a girl-on-girl scene. “He takes his job pretty seriously.”
Starsky agreed. The one thing he’d discovered over the course
of the last few hours was that the Director was obsessive about
getting everything just right. Not that he was mean or unreasonable.
The girls all seemed very fond of him, which Starsky supposed he
could understand. After all, he paid them well and fed them lunch,
and gave them a fair bit of latitude when it came to what they would
or wouldn’t do for the camera. And he paid them extra cash,
on the spot, for stuff like anal sex.
However... “That’s not what I’m talking about.
The girls don’t seem to mind what they’re doing, but
it feels like, I dunno. Like they’d be just as happy, or happier,
playing Parcheesi.” Starsky chewed dispiritedly on a carrot
stick. “Except who gets paid a hundred dollars a day to play
“It’s a job, Starsk,” said Hutch. “If you
spent every day working in a chocolate factory, after awhile I imagine
you wouldn’t think chocolate tasted all that great.”
“It just seems a shame to do that to something like sex,”
said Starsky. He put his plate on the floor and folded his arms
over his knees. “And making these movies - it’s really
hard work for those girls! You know, at least a hooker only has
one client at a time, and no one expects her to have sex for eight
The Director had stopped the cameras again and was instructing the
girls to arrange themselves in a different position on the temple
steps. They were both red-faced and sweaty, looking completely exhausted.
The fluff girl ran up and squirted their pubic hair with the squirt
bottle, to make them look more aroused, and then they were at it
again. It was about as sexy as a gynecological exam.
“Anna, from Costumes, is getting paid in blow,” said
Hutch nodded. “While you were playing Fuck the Barbarian,
I was getting the lowdown from the crew. About a third of them are
paid in blow. It’s their choice. They can use it themselves,
resell it, or both.”
“Where the hell is he getting--,” started Starsky.
He was interrupted by a shout from the Director. “I need Barbarian
number six! Where is he?”
“Here!” Starsky bounced up, knocking his paper plate
onto the floor.
Hutch reached over and patted Starsky’s leg. “I’ll
keep asking questions. We’ll talk later.”
Crogar, AKA Barbarian number six, had evidently come upon the Amazons
making love to each other. He seized one, tied her up, tossed her
over his shoulder and ran off into the hills with her. The hills
being a pile of rocks and sand twelve feet to the right of the temple.
The Director kept up a running monologue throughout the scene, alternately
instructing and chastising.
“Okay, you’ve got the girl over your lap and you’re
hitting her with the flat – the flat! – of your sword.
Careful with the edge. It’s dull, but you could still do some
damage and we want a chastened Amazon, not Amazon julienne. And
you, Lois, wake up! I don’t care how comfortable you think
his lap is...”
Starsky leaned over and looked at the girl sprawled across his knees,
her ankles and wrists tied. “Are you sure you’re okay
She yawned expansively. “Oh, sure.” Lifting her head,
eyelids at half-mast, Lois explained, “I just need a pick-me-up,
“Coffee, you get coffee and that’s it,” bellowed
the Director. “Jesus jumpin’ Christ. We could all get
busted just for making this film. If they find you using drugs on
the set, we’re all looking at jail time!”
Starsky blinked. So a bunch of the crew were getting paid in blow,
but they weren’t allowed to use it on the set.
A tendril of marijuana smoke wafted Starsky’s way and he glanced
over to see a cameraman pinch off a joint and tuck it into his pocket.
Obviously the crew didn’t take the Director seriously. Maybe
he wasn’t so scary, as long as you weren’t trying to
steal money from him.
“Pay attention everyone, we’re already behind schedule—.”
The Director stopped as a girl ran up to his chair. She bent down
and whispered in his ear.
“What? Here? He’s supposed to be in London!”
Starsky realized that several people had entered the warehouse during
the filming. In the middle of the group was a short, red-headed
man who appeared to be in charge. He was smirking.
Leaving three of his men by the door, he strolled across to the
Director. Starsky watched, concerned. The red-head didn’t
look particularly threatening, but the two thugs in dark shades
and suits that he had flanking him looked like real bruisers.
He’s supposed to be in London! That was what the Director
had said. So, was this the mysterious Brit Huggy had mentioned?
The Director stood, looking flustered. “Trevor! It’s
great to see you.”
“We need to talk, Teddy.” Trevor ignored the
Director’s outstretched hand. His bodyguards scanned the crowd
with cold eyes.
Yep, thought Starsky. He sure sounds British.
“Of course. My office is this way.”
Trevor and the Director disappeared into the office, leaving the
two goons to flank the door on either side.
Starsky quickly untied Lois. He patted her flank. “I’ll
be back in a minute, okay?”
“Oh, sure,” she said, yawning. “I’m not
Starsky met Hutch over by the back wall. “We’ve got
to get an ear in on that meeting,” he whispered.
“Way ahead of you, buddy,” said Hutch, calmly. “Why
don’t you distract the muscle, and I’ll see if I can
slip out. There’s a window in the back alley that looks right
into the office.”
Starsky grinned, feeling ridiculously proud of his partner. “You
did some scouting.”
“The Director’s compulsive about keeping records. I
was thinking of taking a look at them after everyone left--.”
Hutch cut himself off. “Never mind. Get over there and...”
He paused and looked at Starsky. “Seduce them with your hot
Starsky was suddenly very aware that he was wearing nothing but
a skimpy scrap of leather. And also that the erection he’d
tried so hard to achieve and maintain now seemed to have become
He crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re mean.”
Hutch grinned widely.
As Starsky turned to go, he felt a stinging slap on his right butt
cheek. “Hey!” He whipped back around to confront Hutch.
Hutch held up both hands, chuckling. “I’m in character!”
Starsky grabbed Hutch’s collar. “Okay, buddy, listen
to this. I may be selling my body, but I am more than just a sexy
piece of meat. This relationship is going to be built on mutual
respect and consideration. Got it?”
“Was that in character?” asked Hutch, after a moment’s
Doyle leaned against the flimsy wall, trying to hear the argument
raging inside the office. From what he could make out, Trevor was
yelling at the director of the... film, if you could call it such
a thing. Looked more like an orgy, with a few cameras tossed in
for good measure.
At any rate, Teddy had been running things locally in a manner for
which he didn’t have authority. He’d been making decisions
that had more to do with the money management side of things, instead
of just sticking to making his films.
And then there were the records.
“You’ve got books?”
That last was clear enough. Trevor sounded appalled. There was an
indistinct protest from Teddy.
“Give me that!” demanded Trevor. A brief pause, then,
“Names, dates, amounts, good God, man!”
After that his voice dropped again and Doyle had to strain to hear
anything. He caught something about a shark again, but it was still
impossible to put it into context.
“See that?” said Bodie, jabbing him in the ribs.
Doyle blinked. “What?” He’d been so focused on
trying to hear the argument in the office that he hadn’t seen
much of anything in front of him.
“The clown in the leather nappy, back there with his friend.”
Doyle looked in the direction Bodie was indicating. The two men
appeared to be involved in an intense discussion. “You think
they’re planning something?”
Bodie tapped the side of his nose, wisely. “I don’t
think, my son, I know!”
Doyle sniggered. “You don’t think.”
“Berk,” said Bodie, without heat. “Look, here
comes Leather Lad. Ten to one he tries to distract us while his
mate slips out the back.”
“Uh, hi!” Leather Lad strolled up and smiled brightly.
Doyle looked past him. Just as predicted, the blond was ducking
out the back door while his friend stood there and tried to chat
them up. Doyle exchanged a glance with Bodie who nodded in acknowledgement
and took off in quick pursuit.
“Hey, wait!” Leather Lad turned to follow.
Doyle reached out and grabbed his shoulder, spinning him back around.
“Hold on,” demanded Doyle, drawing his pistol. “Who
Leather Lad crossed his arms, clearly unimpressed. “Dave.”
“And where’s your friend gone?”
“For a leak,” said Dave, biting off each word. “Now,
if you don’t mind, I’m feeling a sudden urge to do the
Doyle leaned back against the wall, comfortably, his weapon still
trained on Dave. “No, I think we’ll wait right here.”
He found himself rather liking the tough little sod. It took real
nerve to stand as good as naked in front of an armed man.
Dave sighed expansively and settled back on his heels, his hands
folded neatly in front. His stance was civilian, but Doyle had spent
enough time in Bodie’s company to recognize the attitude of
someone on parade rest.
“Military, were you?” asked Doyle.
Dave shrugged. “I thought you Brits didn’t carry guns.”
“A gross exaggeration.” Doyle was almost certain he
saw Dave’s ears twitch as the argument in the office briefly
increased in volume, but the man’s expression remained impassive.
The door in the back banged open, and Bodie shoved an irritated
looking blond man through it. Grabbing the back of the man’s
neck, Bodie sat him firmly down in a folding chair before striding
back across the room to Doyle.
Doyle holstered his weapon. “Well?”
Bodie held up a sadly battered joint. “Caught him smoking
up in the alley. Or so he claims.”
If Doyle hadn’t been looking directly at Dave, he would have
missed the brief flash of triumph that crossed his face. In the
space of a blink there was nothing to see but innocence.
“We’re not allowed to use drugs on the set,” explained
“Right,” said Doyle. “Get out of here.”
He watched Dave trot back to his friend, who was being consoled
by a gaggle of pretty, and mostly naked, girls.
“The blond’s calling himself Ken,” said Bodie.
“They’re all right,” said Doyle, still watching
Bodie made a rude noise, and leaned back against the wall, his arms
crossed over his chest. “Didn’t know you went for that
“We are that type,” said Doyle. He didn’t
know who Dave and Ken were working for, but he was fairly certain
it wasn’t Teddy, any more than he and Bodie were working for
Trevor. They had an agenda of their own.
Bodie lifted an eyebrow, and then smirked. “No, we are infinitely
more handsome, suave, and deadly.”
As soon as Starsky arrived, he began trying to get rid of the girls.
Hutch helped by claiming that only Starsky could heal the trauma
he’d experienced, after having been manhandled by that awful
thug. The girls left giggling.
“There goes my reputation,” said Hutch, regretfully.
“You know, I’ve had more women offer me the sexual experience
of my life today... If this goes on much longer, I might have to
explore my straight side.”
Hutch had found his workday very educational. He had no idea there
were so many women who considered ‘I’m gay’ a
personal challenge. Beautiful women. Beautiful naked women, in every
shade of the rainbow from chocolate skinned brunettes to translucently
“But you’re madly in love with me, remember?”
Starsky sat down on the floor and hooked his arm over Hutch’s
leg. “That was a smart move.”
“I thought I might need an excuse for being out back.”
Hutch tugged at the curls under his hand, grinning. From the corner
of his eye he could see that the Director was back, standing over
by the cameras, still trying to placate an irate Trevor.
Trevor’s two thugs were right there as well, flanking their
boss. Hutch rubbed the back of his neck. The asshole bodyguard had
not been gentle with him.
Starsky propped his chin on Hutch’s knee and looked up. “Where
did you get the joint from?”
“Bummed it off Albert, there.” Hutch nodded at a camera
man a few yards away. “He even gave me another, since that
guy took mine away.”
Noticing Hutch looking his way, Albert smiled sweetly and waved.
Starsky harrumphed. “I think he likes you, Hutch. You’d
better not be thinking of cheating on me.”
Hutch smacked the side of Starsky’s head. Then he leaned down
and said into Starsky’s ear, “We’re going to have
to watch ourselves. You saw for yourself that Trevor’s heavies
are packing heat and that goon who grabbed me is more than just
muscle. He’s had training.”
In fact, the way he’d been thrown up against the wall with
his wrist between his shoulder blades, Hutch was willing to bet
it was some kind of military or police-type training. An untrained
person might try that move, but if they’d put the same amount
of force into it without a corresponding amount of control, Hutch
would have found himself with a dislocated shoulder. As it was –
Hutch rotated his shoulder experimentally – he wasn’t
The goon in question was expressionlessly scanning the crowd with
his partner, apparently ignoring the conversation between Trevor
and the Director. The other three men were leaning against the door,
smoking and leering at the actresses. They looked more like the
run-of-the-mill muscle Hutch would have expected a man like Trevor
“Oh, you sweet talkin’ devil, you,” said Starsky.
He reached up and grabbed Hutch’s head, pulling his ear down
within whispering range. “Yeah, and they’re no dummies.
The other one pegged me as ex-army.”
The Director’s voice interrupted them. “If you two lovebirds
are quite done, we’ve got a movie to make! Chop, chop!”
Hutch started to straighten up, only to feel Starsky’s arm
tighten around his neck. Before he could react, Starsky firmly kissed
“No more flirting with the cameramen,” said Starsky
as he released him. “You belong to me, and don’t forget
Hutch was still trying to catch his breath when a pretty brunette
leaned over his shoulder and said, “Maybe you just haven’t
met the right girl yet?” One full breast, the nipple pink
and pert, brushed against his cheek.
It occurred to Hutch that he might have to kill his partner.
Doyle had decided Teddy was a compulsive idiot, keeping detailed
paper records on all his illegal dealings.
On the other hand, if he and Bodie could get their hands on some
of those records they might be able to put an end to this ridiculous
tour. What he’d seen of Bay City was interesting – very
colourful in a pastel, drug-delirium kind of way – but Doyle
wanted to get his feet back on the comfortingly sensible shores
“What happened to her ropes?” demanded Teddy. “The
Amazon is supposed to be bound in this scene!”
Dave, appearing nonchalant about the erection tenting his leather
nappy, trotted over to where a girl lay curled up against a plaster
boulder. She was fast asleep, snoring lightly.
“Hey, wake up,” said Dave, patting her cheek.
Doyle heard an impatient snort behind him, and Trevor stepped forward
into the lights.
“Hey,” Teddy started to protest.
Trevor made a slicing gesture with his hand, and Teddy immediately
fell silent. It was obvious who had the power.
Doyle exchanged a glance with Bodie as Trevor headed for the girl,
who was now rubbing her eyes and smiling sleepily.
Together, they moved up on either side of Dave, and snagged him
by the elbows, pulling him back.
He looked at them, confusion and alarm on his face.
“If you know what’s good for you, keep your mouth shut,”
said Bodie, quietly.
There was a grim expression in Bodie’s eyes, which Doyle suspected
was echoed in his own. He patted Dave’s cheek. “We like
“We’d like to see you live,” said Bodie, grinning
humourlessly. He leaned in close to Dave’s ear and whispered,
Dave went rigid, his eyes wide.
Doyle had to suppress a grin. It wasn’t at all nice of Bodie
to terrorize Dave, but it certainly was an effective way to keep
him quiet. And from Dave’s reaction, maybe he actually was
an undercover cop. Doyle had been thinking more along the lines
of private investigator, judging Dave and his partner too clean
cut to be working for Teddy’s competition. But Bodie’s
instincts were usually good, however unlikely it seemed that any
department would put its officers undercover in a dirty film.
More proof that Bay City was a bizarre town.
Regardless, all they had to do was keep Dave and his partner from
causing any trouble, and then tonight they could wrap this whole
operation up neatly, and most importantly – quietly.
Trevor dropped to one knee beside the girl and lifted her chin in
his hand. “Are you tired, love?”
She nodded, blinking.
“Would you like this to be over, so you can go home?”
Trevor’s voice was like honey, syrupy sweet and gliding over
the threat beneath his words.
“Sure...” she said, tentatively.
“Right, then!” Trevor rocked back on his heels. “Get
on your hands and knees.”
“Okay,” said the girl. The room was silent as she complied.
Doyle relaxed fractionally. He’d been concerned for a moment
at the idea of anything being ‘over’, but evidently
Trevor only meant to shag the girl. Which was something she shouldn’t
object to very much, considering she was being paid to do the same
with the other fellows.
Then Trevor undid his zip and reached for one of the pots of Vaseline.
Doyle grimaced. He’d evidently done a decent job of blocking
the memory of the flight from his mind, because he’d forgotten
just how repulsive a creature Trevor was, with his paunch spilling
over his groin, and the sparse, sandy hair curling underneath. Doyle
glanced away, hoping the nasty little toad wouldn’t take too
If he and Bodie could get away from the hotel tonight, they might
be able to return and break into Teddy’s office without anyone
noticing. If the evidence was strong enough, they could arrest Trevor
– Doyle paused for a moment to appreciate the warm feeling
that idea gave him – and forcibly extradite his fat little
arse back to England, where he could face trial.
And if he resisted...
Doyle was distracted from his pleasant thoughts by a shriek from
“No wait! I don’t do anal!”
Trevor’s fingers were digging into her hips, and he was thrusting
brutally at her arse, even as she clawed the ground, trying to crawl
away. The girl began to cry. “You’re hurting me!”
Doyle was unprepared for the solid blow that landed in his gut.
He doubled over with a pained grunt, feeling Dave twist free of
Bodie cursed. “Bastard bit me!”
Through watering eyes, Doyle saw Dave grab the back of Trevor’s
shirt and haul him off the girl, throwing him to the ground. He
heard shouts and pounding feet and knew Karl, Josef and Bobby were
about to join the fray. Any moment now, there would be gunfire.
Dave had Trevor by the collar and was hauling him up off the ground,
his fist cocked.
Daft sod’s going to get himself killed, thought Doyle.
Ignoring the protest from his bruised gut, he launched himself at
Dave, tackling him.
They hit the ground together, on the other side of Trevor. Doyle
rolled Dave onto his stomach and yanked his arm up behind his back.
Dave yelped, and bucked beneath him, his toes scraping the sandy
floor. Doyle secured his grip. Short of voluntarily dislocating
his shoulder there was nothing Dave could do.
Glancing up, Doyle spotted Dave’s partner immediately. He
was at the front edge of the crowd, watching the situation tensely.
To Doyle’s immense relief, he didn’t look like he was
about to do anything rash. Copper, or private dick, there was too
much at stake to risk over one bloke who thinks he’s a hero.
Looking to the left, Doyle saw that Karl, Josef and Bobby all had
their weapons drawn and were pointing them at Dave. And, incidentally,
Doyle was sure none of those three – certainly not Karl or
Josef – would lose any sleep if he ‘accidentally’
took a bullet or two while they were protecting Trevor from the
But where was Bodie? To Doyle’s surprise, he discovered that
his partner had taken charge of the girl, finding a robe from somewhere
and wrapping it carefully around her shoulders. He was talking to
her quietly, all the while watching the situation with much the
same intensity as Dave’s partner.
There’s something of the hero in Bodie, too, thought
Doyle, bemused. Even if he’s too professional to risk throwing
away the entire case over one girl.
Trevor stood, brushed the sand off his knees and straightened his
collar. He didn’t do up his trousers, but instead stood over
Doyle and Dave, looking down at the two of them. “Fancy yourself
a real hero, eh?”
Doyle tightened his hold, feeling Dave’s muscles bunch beneath
him. One slip, and he’d explode, and get himself shot down
in an instant. And they’d never be so lucky as to have a stray
bullet catch Trevor as well.
Trevor strolled around them, casually. Doyle tried to ignore the
erect organ bobbing at his eye level. For God’s sake,
he thought, irritably. Put that thing away.
Then Trevor stopped between Dave’s ankles and said, “Take
her place, then. Though I expect it won’t be your first time,
more’s the pity.”
Alarmed, Doyle glanced over his shoulder. What the hell?
Movement behind Trevor caught Doyle’s eye. He saw Karl’s
mouth fall open in surprise as an arm suddenly snaked around his
neck, and his Glock was smoothly grabbed out of his hand.
“Freeze! BCPD!” Dave’s partner pointed the Glock
at Doyle, as Karl struggled, clawing at the arm around his neck,
his eyes bulging. “You’re all under arrest!”
The effect on the crowd was instantaneous. Men and women both began
to scream. There was an immediate crush at the warehouse doors,
as people scrambled for the exits, climbing over each other in their
panic to get out.
Trevor spun, drawing his own weapon and firing without hesitation.
The bullet slammed into Karl’s chest. His eyes opened wide
in shocked surprise, and then he was down, taking the cop to the
floor with him.
Trevor bolted for the other end of the warehouse, in the wake of
the fleeing crowd, his gun in one hand, doing up his trousers with
Doyle released Dave, who promptly rolled and bounced up swinging.
Doyle ducked around him and charged after Trevor, only to feel a
hand snag his collar, and yank him back.
He did not have time for this shit.
Doyle turned quickly, using his momentum to land a sidekick in Dave’s
stomach. Dave was utterly open, undefended, and the blow landed
with satisfying effectiveness. He folded with a grunt, both arms
wrapped around his midsection.
Satisfied that Dave was down, Doyle resumed his chase, only to find
that Trevor had vanished. “Damn it!” He skidded to a
stop, then changed direction and ran for the office instead. Much
as he’d love to put a bullet in Trevor himself, it was the
evidence that mattered most. Trevor was just a small part of a much
He smelled the petrol before he was halfway across the warehouse.
He heard Trevor’s voice through the open door of the office
when he was just a few yards away.
“Idiot!” snapped Trevor. “If the cops get their
hands on these records!”
“There’s only one cop...” That was Teddy’s
Doyle reached the door just in time to see Trevor shove Teddy back
against filing cabinet and pull his gun. “Enough! It’s
The weapon barked. A small black hole appeared directly between
Teddy’s eyes, a fraction of a second before the back of his
head disintegrated into fragments of blood and bone.
“Stop,” snapped Doyle, stepping into the office, his
gun covering Trevor. “Drop your weapon.”
The fumes hit him like a kick in the sinuses. Teddy’s office
had been soaked in petrol. Doyle’s foot hit a red plastic
can lying on its side by the door, still draining onto the floor.
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Trevor threw his gun down
and held his hands away from his body. “And just what are
you supposed to be? Another bloody copper?”
“Worse. CI5!” Doyle stepped forward and grabbed Trevor,
shoving him face down on the desk. He glanced around, looking for
something with which he could secure the man.
Trevor snorted, unimpressed. “A little outside your authority,
Doyle saw Trevor’s eyes move fractionally, tracking past his
shoulder. Doyle reacted instantly, only to feel himself skid on
the soaked floor. Off balance, he was struggling to bring his weapon
around when he felt liquid hit his face.
There was a single frozen instant in which Doyle saw Bobby clearly,
another red petrol can in his hands and a grin on his face. Then
the moment shattered, and the world dissolved into blinding red
Christ, my eyes!
Doyle staggered, hardly aware of his gun being pulled from his grip.
He hit the ground on his knees, tears pouring down his face. Gasping,
he ground the heels of his hands into his eyes.
Distantly, through the pain, he could hear Trevor say smugly, “Thank
“Go ahead and light that fire, sir,” said Bobby.
Doyle struggled to find his bearings in the agony that gripped him.
Stupid, he raged silently. Letting him walk right up behind you,
like a rank amateur... He forced his eyes open, only to find the
world a blur. He blinked through his tears, trying to resolve the
“I’ve always wanted to burn money,” said Trevor.
A flare of yellow light caught Doyle’s attention, the blurry
figure resolving into Trevor. He was holding something, watching
it burn. Then he dropped it. Fire flared up instantly, forcing Trevor
to jump back.
Doyle flinched, feeling the heat sear his face even as the pain
flared brighter, blinding him again.
“Well done,” said Bobby. Doyle heard the crack of a
pistol and he ducked reflexively, expecting to feel the impact of
Instead, someone else grunted with shock and pain. Doyle lifted
his head and through watering eyes he saw Trevor stumble and fall.
Almost instantly the stench of burning meat filled the room, and
Trevor began to scream.
Doyle gagged, trying to scramble backward. “Bloody hell!”
“My assignment,” said Bobby, “was to discover
if Trevor had become a liability to the organization. I determined
he had, and I executed the contract.” His voice had changed
from the amiably slow drawl Doyle had known earlier, to something
much sharper and more precise.
“You’re a fucking assassin!” Doyle found the door
frame and grabbed it, pulling himself to his feet. His eyes were
streaming, and he turning, trying to fix Bobby’s location
in the confusion of heat and pain.
“And you’re CI5.”
Doyle felt something collide with the back of his head, igniting
a white-hot explosion behind his eyes. His knees buckled. The last
thing he heard, as the world faded to black, was, “But I liked
Starsky had seen Hutch go down, but in all the confusion he hadn’t
seen him get up again. “Hutch!” His elbow pressed tight
against his battered midsection, Starsky spun on his heel, searching
the remnants of the fleeing crowd. Several of the camera stands
had been knocked down and live wires snaked across the ground, sparking.
He could smell smoke.
A hand landed hard in the center of his back, shoving him forward.
Starsky heard a gunshot, followed by the too-familiar scream and
whine of a ricochet. He ducked and rolled, coming back up onto his
feet just in time to see the goon who had accused him of being a
cop turn toward him, weapon raised.
There was no time to react. All Starsky knew was the utter certainty
that he was looking his own death in the eye. Then a bullet seared
past his ear, and behind him he heard a man yell.
Starsky didn’t waste any time trying to figure out how the
goon had missed at almost point blank range. The important thing
was that he’d taken down one of his own, instead. Starsky
grabbed the stricken thug’s weapon before he dove for the
dubious cover of the plaster boulders.
The sand skinned his knees, and he banged his elbow. His stomach
and ribs were aching. He felt ridiculously exposed, and he was absolutely
certain that this was not the way he wanted to die. There was no
dignity, dying in a leather loincloth. He didn’t even have
shoes, and wasn’t every cowboy supposed to die with his boots
Starsky braced his arms on top of the boulder. “Hold it!”
The big, scary goon was still standing in the same spot as before,
but now he looked righteously indignant. “I’m on your
His buddy was gurgling out his last breaths, a spreading pool of
dark blood soaking the sand beneath him.
Starsky looked from one to the other dubiously.
“Look, if I wanted to kill you, I’d have done it by
now,” said the goon, impatiently. “I saved your bloody
life!” He appeared utterly undisturbed by the dying man’s
Starsky might have waffled indefinitely, trying to decide who the
good guys really were. But a shout from the far end of the warehouse
solved his dilemma very neatly for him.
“Hutch?” yelled Starsky, relieved beyond words to hear
his partner’s voice. Then the sense of what Hutch was hollering
sank in and he realized that he could smell a good deal more than
just electrical smoke.
Noxious black clouds were billowing out of the Director’s
office, and the stench of gasoline hung heavy in the air.
“Bugger!” exclaimed the goon. “They’re burning
the evidence!” He vaulted a toppled camera stand and bolted
for the office.
“Hey, wait!” As Starsky stood he stepped on something
sharp. He hopped several steps, trying to keep up, and then had
to stop long enough to pull a sliver of glass from his foot.
The cast and crew were nearly all gone, except for one large black
man darting out the side entrance. The air was turning blue with
smoke, and Starsky could feel his lungs beginning to burn as he
He found Hutch just outside of the burning office, kneeling next
to the other bodyguard. He had the top off one of the spray bottles
and was pouring water into the man’s eyes.
The goon had got there ahead of Starsky. He crouched and grabbed
his stricken friend’s arm. “Are you okay?”
The guard was coughing and wheezing, his hair wet and blood soaking
into his collar from a head wound, but his response was crystal
clear. “The papers!”
“Right!” He shoved his weapon into the guard’s
hand. “Hold this.”
To Starsky’s horror, the goon turned without hesitation and
ran straight into the burning office. He slid over the top of the
desk in a shower of sparks. Grabbing a drawer, he swung it over
his head and threw it through the window on the opposite wall. There
was a sound of shattering glass, and then the flames roared higher,
gorging themselves on the influx of fresh air from the other side.
Starsky staggered back, feeling the heat like a punch in the face.
The man in the office vanished from view almost instantly, engulfed
in a cloud of smoke.
“Bodie, you bloody moron!”
Doyle was as close to frantic as he’d ever been in his life,
but he didn’t panic. There’d be time to fall apart later,
when he was pulling three bodies out of the ashes, instead of two.
The fire was too intense to get through on this side, but there
was a window on the opposite wall. He’d seen the alley as
they drove up, which meant the shortest way around would be through
the door and to the left.
To his relief, Doyle found that he didn’t need to see perfectly
to know where he was going. As he ran, he shrugged out of his jacket.
A fire extinguisher would be invaluable, but there was no time to
search for one. And his jacket could be used to smother a fire,
even if the object on fire was a human body.
Doyle skidded around the corner of the building and into the alley.
He was just in time to see Bodie dive out of the window, his jacket
over his head and a trail of smoke following him.
Bodie somersaulted, hitting the ground first with his shoulders
and then slamming into the wall opposite. He lay frighteningly still,
Doyle dropped his jacket and grabbed Bodie’s shoulder, turning
him over onto his back. He pressed his ear to Bodie’s chest,
listening for any indication he was breathing. His hand was already
on Bodie’s neck, feeling for a pulse. Then Doyle felt him
shudder, once. A moment later, Bodie began to cough. It was a deep,
racking convulsion, and it was about the sweetest sound Doyle thought
he’d ever heard.
His hand on Bodie’s back, Doyle looked around at the loose
papers, notebooks and binders littering the alley. Some were charred
and others were smoking, but many more were perfectly intact.
Bodie coughed again, and this time he gagged wetly, and began to
kick the ground, trying to turn himself over. Doyle rolled him onto
his side, just as Bodie vomited soot-black chunks onto cement –
and onto some of the evidence, as well.
“Sorry, mate,” said Bodie, miserably. But he was breathing
easier now. He was black with soot, and the bit of skin Doyle could
see beneath the dirt was bone-white.
Doyle grabbed him before he could land on his face in that mess,
and propped him up against the wall. “I hope you didn’t
breathe in too much of that smoke. You’ll be seeing pink elephants.”
The sound Bodie made was suspiciously close to a giggle.
“My partner’s gone to call for an ambulance, and a meat
wagon.” The blond policeman was standing in the entrance to
the alley, his gun drawn. “Who the hell are you?”
“We’re civil servants,” said Doyle, wearily. Now
that the immediate danger was past, he was beginning to feel the
effect of the blow he’d taken to the back of his head.
“Watch where you point that thing,” said Bodie, hoarsely.
“Wouldn’t want it to go off accidentally.” He
coughed a few more times, and then bent forward to grab a piece
of paper before it could blow away. He held it up, between two fingers.
“Do you think Cowley will find this useful?”
Doyle couldn’t make much sense of any of it. Between his still
watering eyes and his headache, the numbers on the paper were sliding
around alarmingly. “Oh, very good.”
“You’re not cops,” said Ken.
“And you’re not... whatever the hell you were pretending
to be,” said Doyle. Nodding very carefully at Dave, who had
just appeared behind his partner, he added, “And he’s
definitely not a porn star.” He was pleased when his head
didn’t actually fall off.
“Hey,” said Dave. “The ambulance is on the way.
They’ll give your pal some oxygen, and put a few stitches
in your head.” He turned to Ken and said urgently, “Give
me your shirt.”
“Just give it to me!”
“No! I’m in the middle of an interrogation here.”
“They don’t look like imminent flight risks, so put
your gun away and take your shirt off.” When his partner didn’t
comply immediately, Dave propped his hands on his hips and said,
“Either you take it off, and give it to me, or I’m going
to take it off you. You know perfectly well we’ve got half
the squad on their way here, every last one of them hoping to see
naked chicks. And what they’re gonna get instead is naked
Ken smiled broadly. “Yeah, I know.”
“You’re an asshole.”
Doyle could hear sirens in the distance, rapidly growing louder.
“What will you give me for my shirt?”
“Give you!” yelped Dave. “Unless you’ve
forgotten, you owe me!”
Doyle was interested to note that all the while Ken was arguing
with Dave, he never actually stopped covering them with the gun.
Nor did Dave ever take his eyes off the two of them. They sounded
like incompetent buffoons, but they were acting like reasonably
Bodie was still sorting through papers, all the while wheezing noisily,
snuffling and periodically wiping his eyes with his forearm. He
appeared to be having some difficulty with his hands, and Doyle
wondered if he’d managed to burn them.
“I paid Huggy for that information,” protested Dave.
“But you didn’t pay my bar tab, which means I can’t
drink at the Pits until next payday. Which means, if we go out tonight,
you’re going to have to cover my drinks.”
“I don’t have any money!”
“But you do have a clean tab.”
“Fine! Bastard. Your drinks tonight are on my tab.
Now gimme your shirt. I’m not facing those jerks without my
“I thought it was your clothes you were missing,” said
Ken as he pushed the gun into his waistband and began removing his
Doyle listened with open fascination. He and Bodie had been called
a double act, but these two sounded like an old married couple.
He wondered how many years they’d been partnered.
As Dave tied his partner’s shirt around his waist, he said,
“I think we should introduce ourselves properly. I’m
Starsky, and this goofball here is Hutch. We’re detectives
with the Bay City Police Department.”
“Doyle and Bodie,” said Doyle. “Our outfit is
“I’ve never heard of it,” said Hutch. “Is
it British? What are you doing here?”
“Observing,” said Doyle, wryly.
“Oh, and didn’t we do a good job,” said
Bodie, happily, if hoarsely. He produced a spiral notebook, only
slightly charred in one corner.
Doyle opened it and squinted at the columns. With effort, names
and dates began to form out of the confusion on the page. Shipment
details. Contacts. British ports. “Cowley will want to give
us nice fat bonuses for this.”
“Never happen,” said Bodie. “But we might get
a ‘well done, lads!’”
Starsky rocked back on his heels as he watched the plane taxi
down the runway. “You know, Hutch, I don’t think I
liked those guys.”
Hutch propped his hip on the railing in front of the large viewing
window. “I think we barely registered on their radar.”
Starsky frowned. He hadn’t been able to forget that Bodie
and Doyle would have stood by while that girl had been raped,
just so they could maintain their covers. When he’d tried
to ask Bodie about it the man had given him an unreadable look
and said the girl might have taken it as a hint that she ought
to find herself a safer line of work.
“They were cold, Hutch. Really cold. Still, I guess all’s
well that ends well.”
Bodie and Doyle had been in some trouble at first, as it turned
out they’d entered the country without legal passports or
official authorization. But Dobey and Agent Kelly were happy with
how everything had turned out.
Mr. Cowley had dressed Bodie and Doyle down over the phone, which
he’d had put on speaker so he could deal with both of them
at once. He said their job had been to observe, not spread death
and destruction across the Atlantic.
Agent Kelly cleared his throat at that, and said, “It was
irregular, certainly, but the Agency would like you to know that
we appreciated having your men’s help in this case, Mr.
“Yes, thank you,” said Cowley. There was a pause.
Finally he said, “Bodie, Doyle, in light of the evidence
you have managed to turn up... You’ve done an adequate job,
Bodie had beamed, and even Doyle had looked pleased.
And Starsky had decided he’d never understand the British.
Because if that was the praise they’d been hoping
for... It must be that whole stiff upper lip thing. Starsky was
grateful Dobey wasn’t cut of the same cloth.
The plane was gone now, swallowed in the clouds. Starsky grinned,
feeling his spirits lift. The job was done, and done well. “And
the best part is, the Director never finished his film!”
He bounced slightly as he began walking toward the escalator.
“What?” Starsky looked at Hutch quizzically.
“You know a certain amount of the film had to go into evidence.”
“Sure, but nothing with me in it, right?”
“Right?” asked Starsky, anxiously.
“Let’s just say you might want to skip this year’s
Precinct Christmas Party.”
Bodie watched the stewardess push her cart down the centre of the
aisle. “I’m hungry,” he said, pathetically. Both
his hands were bandaged, though otherwise he’d come out reasonably
unscathed. A doctor had commented admiringly on the health of his
lungs, and his overall constitution.
Doyle looked away from the window, where he had been watching clouds.
“So buy yourself something.” He was not inclined to
feel any pity for Bodie. He’d had to have about two inches
square shaved off the back of his head so they could put stitches
in. His hair was going to be months growing back in and he was not
happy about it.
“With the money Trevor gave you. That hundred dollar bill!
I know you never got a chance to spend it.” Doyle couldn’t
believe Bodie would try such a transparent ploy.
“Oh,” said Bodie. He pulled a magazine out of the pouch
in front of him. “I don’t have it anymore.”
“What did you do with it?” demanded Doyle.
Bodie opened the magazine, effectively disappearing from view. “Gave
it to a bird.”
“What? What bird?”
“The dozy one. Slipped it in the pocket of her robe.”
“You...” Doyle started to laugh. Finally, conclusive
proof that he’d misjudged Bodie badly. There was nothing at
all callous or untrustworthy about his partner. “You’re
marshmallow under that hard exterior!”
Bodie ignored him.
Doyle’s glee abated as a new thought occurred to him. “You
know, she’ll likely just drink it away.” Or snort
it up her nose, or shoot it up her arm.
“Yeah well...” Bodie shrugged without looking up from
his magazine. “She can still dance with a drink in her hand.”
It took Doyle a moment to place the lyric and match it to the singer.
“Damn. Here we are, leaving America. And I never got to meet
“And you never will,” said Bodie.
“He died two days ago.”
“No, look.” Bodie held up the magazine. The cover was
bordered in black, and there was a picture of Elvis with the dates
of his birth and death on the front. “The King is dead.”
“This is one bloody great cosmic joke, isn’t it?”
“Here, you read it.” Bodie passed the magazine over,
and stood up. “I’m going to go chat up that stewardess.
Maybe she’ll decide to feed me.”
A week later, Starsky was still trying hard to look on the bright
side of things. “Well, at least the film wasn’t ever
distributed. It’s safe in the evidence locker. And the other
guys will understand. They’ll stop teasing me, eventually.
A cop’s gotta do what a cop’s gotta do, right?”
Hutch nodded encouragingly. “Right!” He climbed out
of the car and waited for Starsky to join him.
The missing reel should have turned up by now. But since it hadn’t,
Hutch was fairly confident that it was gone for good. Starsky would
never need to know.
It hadn’t really been his fault. He’d only taken the
film out in order to find the perfect segment to show at the Christmas
party. And then, of course, he’d had to run it by a couple
of the precinct’s female officers, in order to ensure that
he’d picked just the right one.
And anyway, it was high time he got his own back, after having been
forced to listen to multiple renditions of himself doing his “oh,
baby” routine in the blackmail case. Hutch was looking forward
to having Starsky be the holiday entertainment for a change. Turnabout
was fair play.
They were a few steps from the entrance to the Pits when a jeep
filled with young men slowed down. “Hey, Cro-gar! Whooo!”
The driver hit the gas and they sped off, howling with laughter.
Starsky spun around to stare after them. “What did
“Uh... crowbar,” said Hutch, crossing his fingers behind
his back. “Must be some kind of new college slang.”
“Hutch,” said Starsky. “The film just went into
Hutch picked up his pace, pretending not to hear.
“It didn’t go anywhere else, did it?”
Maybe Huggy would protect him.
Because Huggy wouldn’t want blood spilled in his bar, surely.