Mayday (by Barbara)

Summary:    Starsky’s fears are realized when he accompanies Hutch on a sailing trip and the seas turn stormy.
Category:  Starsky & Hutch
Genre:  Crime
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  5703


 

PART ONE

“Just suck in some of that sea air, Starsk.”

“It smells like fish.”

“It’s the ocean, turkey.” Hutch scoffed. “Of course it smells like fish.”

“Yeah, but I hate fish.”

“I should have left you at home.”

“Why?” Starsky sounded insulted.

“You know how long I’ve been wanting to take these sailing lessons. Please don’t spoil it for me.”

“I’m not gonna spoil it for you.” The curly-haired cop shrugged. “I just don’t like the smell of fish, that’s all.”

Hutch ignored his partner’s gripe. He shook his head dismissively and proceeded down the pier toward his training vessel. Starsky smiled broadly behind Hutch’s back as he often relished in ribbing his buddy about his idiosyncrasies. There were many. He swaggered along the dock as only Starsky could.

“There she is.” Hutch pointed.

“She? Who?”

“The sail boat. Boats are always called ‘she’ Starsk.”

“How come?”

“Well, I don’t know. They just are.”

“Looks kinda leaky.” Starsky said skeptically of the thirty-footer.

“She wouldn’t be afloat if she leaked.”

“Gotta point there… I guess.”

All his life, Hutch longed to venture the high seas. He’d been raised in a land-lock state, but that never seemed to quell his interest. As a young man he intended to join the navy, but opted for law enforcement instead. His career as a police officer and homicide detective had been rewarding but he still felt as though salt water ran through his veins. When he retired, he planned to buy a boat of his own and sail the South Pacific. He hadn’t decided yet whether his best friend would be invited to accompany him or not. On days like this, it was iffy.

“Permission to come aboard, captain?” Hutch called out to the man who stood waiting for his pupil.

“Permission to come aboard?” Starsky mocked.

Again, Hutch disregarded his friend’s sass.

“Yes, yes.” The man answered as he reached out to shake Hutch’s hand. “Welcome aboard the Isabelle.”

“See Starsk. The name of the boat is Isabelle.”

“What if it was Isaac? Would it still be called a ‘she’?”

“Actually yes, it would.” The man replied. “I’m Leigh Hopkins.”

“Nice to meet you Leigh. I’m Ken and this is my partner David.” Hutch introduced.

“Partner?”

“Yeah, we’re ah… we’re cops.”

“I see. I won’t have to worry about pirates then, eh?” Leigh joshed. “I have protection on board.”

“Yes sir. But, we’re not armed.” Starsky stated with another beamer of a grin. It alone could light the way through a thick fog.

“Oh. Too bad.”

“Too bad?” Hutch said with slight puzzlement.

“Yes, there’s been some trouble lately. Seems pirating has raised it’s ugly head in recent months.”

“Really. Pirates, huh?”

“But, not to worry. We shouldn’t run into any trouble. You’ve booked a week of lessons correct?”

“Aye, aye sir.” Hutch answered playfully.

Starsky rolled his eyes. He leaned over to Hutch when Leigh was out of earshot and whispered covertly.

“Kind of old, isn’t he?” He muttered with concern.

“Aaaah. He’s a sea salt. He’s probably got more experience than Ahab.”

“Dats what worries me.”

“Just relax and enjoy it will’ya.”

“How can I relax when we’ve got an old codger taking us out into the abyss in this leaky scow? Look at it. It was probably used in The War of The Roses! And Leigh there, looks like he barely survived the battle. The guy looks like he crewed for Captain Cook!”

“Abyss?”

“Yeah. Out there, there’s riptides and sharks and pirates!”

“Oh my!” Hutch parodied then chortled at Starsky’s blatant cowardliness.

The captain was not what Starsky expected. Well, maybe he did expect a seventy-year old man with a white beard and pipe and that is exactly what he got. But, it surely was not what he wanted. He thought Hutch would be taking lessons from a younger, more agile man. Instead he got the stereotypical sailor of old. All that was missing was the parrot and the peg leg.

“Let’s jump ship while we can.” Starsky urged under his breathe.

“Don’t be silly. Now settle down and… enjoy–the–day.” Hutch advised through gritted teeth. He didn’t want Leigh to over hear their conversation.

“Well, it’s not a bad afternoon.” The captain announced as he turned his attention back to his students. “Could be worse. Some clouds to the south but not to worry.” He said as he looked toward the blackness. “Shall we get started?”

“We shall.” Hutch affirmed, confident in his teacher’s judgment of the conditions.

Again, Starsky made a face at his friend’s obvious zeal. He too looked south. It appeared ominous to him and just added to his jitters. He sighed with anxiety. Against his gut instinct, he remained on board.

“Get ready to cast off then.” The captain instructed.

“Get read to cast off, Starsk.” Hutch repeated Leigh’s order.

“Why do I have to cast off? Why can’t you cast off?”

“I’m going to. I’ll take the bow. You take the stern.”

“Oh.”

Starsky hopped onto the dock and began to walk toward the front of the boat.

“No, no, no.” Hutch chided. “The stern, Starsk. The BACK of the boat.”

Starsky did an about face and leered at his partner. He found the stern line and readied himself as Leigh started the tiny engine that would power the boat out of the marina. It took several tries, which didn’t exactly bode confidence in Starsky. He was a good swimmer but not a great one. This whole sailing escapade wasn’t exactly his cup of tea. He liked the feel of earth beneath his feet not soggy teak. He was sorry he agreed to accompany his partner on this little jaunt. He scowled as he awaited the next order.

“Okay. Let her go, David.” Leigh called out to him. “Just guide me out past the dock and then hop on.”

“Hop on? Are you kidding me?” Starsky protested.

“Ah come on Starsk. You can do it.”

“What if I fall in?”

“You won’t. But if you do, I’ll save you.” Hutch chuckled wickedly.

Unsure of the plan, Starsky untied the line and through it to Hutch on board. He walked along the dock, holding onto the handrail afraid the boat might get away from him. When the boat passed the point of no return and Starsky had run out of dock, he athletically jumped onto the deck.

“Well done, Starsk.”

“It was nothin’.” He replied with lackluster conviction.

The partners settled onto the bow and began to enjoy their outing. Gulls swooped and screeched above. They passed several yachts where bikini clad women basked. They alone made the voyage worthwhile to Starsky. He waved and smiled at them as they floated by. Hutch noticed too, but tried to pay attention to Leigh’s instruction. It was hard to listen with such distractions. But, as pleasant as the trip was becoming, Starsky wondered why they were the only ones going out as a parade of boats were flocking back in. He decided to shrug it off.

When they were finally out of the marina and in open-ocean, Leigh began to shout out orders to Starsky and Hutch. It took them off guard. They thought this was going to be an enjoyable ride not a working holiday. They sprang to their feet and almost smashed their heads together.

“Hoist the jib!” Leigh yelled.

“What the heck is a jib?” Starsky asked flustered by the captain’s sudden bark.

“I think it’s that one.” Hutch shrugged.

Leigh continued to call out orders while educating Hutch at the same time. The pair scrambled around the boat running into one another several times. They looked like two ducks in a shooting gallery that had malfunctioned. Eventually, they got the boat rigged and Leigh shut down the engine. They were under sail power now and all seemed serene for the moment. They both sighed with relief. Starsky and Hutch took seats beside Leigh who had the helm. Starsky noticed that they were sailing toward the clouds.

“Ah Leigh?”

“Yes David?”

“Wouldn’t it be safer if we sailed north instead of south?”

“Why’s that?”

“Well, it looks a little stormy down there.”

“Storm’ll do you good. Make you learn.”

“But, I don’t want to learn. I want to live.”

“You’re not afraid of falling overboard and becoming fish food are you?” Leigh poked Hutch in the ribs. He thought his joke was very funny.

“Well, actually… thats exactly what I’m afraid of and by the way. Just a little thing.” Starsky asked with the look of terror in his eyes. He scanned the boat as if looking for something.

“What is it David?”

“Where are the life jackets?”

“LIFE JACKETS?” Leigh laughed. “Sailors don’t wear life jackets!”

“Well, maybe sailors don’t but cops do.”

“Nonsense. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

“Yeah Starsk. Sit back and enjoy the ride.”

Starsky tried to appease both Hutch and the captain, but the farther they went the more tense he became. Now he knew why the other boats had sought cover. The skies were getting darker and darker and then Starsky spotted lightning in the distance. That sent ripples of fear up his spin. He pointed to it to try and get Hutch’s and Leigh’s attention, but they were deep in discussion about nautical technicalities. The lightning drew a line through the sky again and a rumble of thunder echoed over the water. It interrupted Hutch and Leigh’s classroom.

“That’s what I’m talking about.” The captain sounded thrilled.

“Yeah? Well, that’s exactly what I was talking about when we left the marina.” Starsky sounded panicked. “Now turn this thing around and let’s head for land.”

“Head for land?” Leigh scoffed. “Don’t you want to experience the wrath of Mother Nature?”

“No. I don’t.”

“Oh come on, Starsk.” Hutch was on Leigh’s side. “Live a little. It’ll be fun.”

“FUN?”

“Show a little backbone will’ya.” Hutch encouraged.

“Right now, I have no backbone. Right now I want to get back to shore… please.”

The wind was now picking up and a few spits of rain began to fall. It was too late. They were going to have to face the storm. The prospect elated Hutch but Starsky hunkered down, clinging to the handrail for dear life. He was not a happy man.

“Wooohoooo!!” Hutch whooped over the claps of thunder and crashing waves. “This is great! Invigorating… isn’t it Starsk?”

Starsky glared at Hutch. He did not find any of this invigorating at all. Leigh struggled to hold the Isabelle on coarse. His concentration was intense but he too was enjoying the battle against the power of the seas.

“YOU OKAY STARSK?” Hutch yelled across the boat to his partner as another thunderbolt ricocheted through the salty mist.

“I HATE THIS!”

“YOU GOTTA LOVE IT, STARSK. YOU GOTTA LOVE IT!”

“I’M GONNA KILL YOU WHEN WE GET HOME!” Starsky threatened.

But, Hutch was too enthralled with the whole adventure. This is what being a seaman was all about. This is why he’d always longed to sail.

They were deep into it now. Water began to flood the decks and drench the men on board. The waves were getting higher and higher, dwarfing the small vessel. The rain pelted their faces and the spray of salt water was blinding.

Then, without warning, the boat jolted starboard. The impact sent Starsky down into the cabin.

He rolled all the way to the V-birth. Hutch fell against the bulkhead, which caused an excruciating pain. He yelped with agony. Starsky struggled to regain his footing and laboriously made his way to the bottom of the cabin steps. Even though buckets of water poured down on him, he could see the wheel spinning wildly. No one was stirring the boat. He looked for Leigh, but he was nowhere in sight.

“HUTCH! YOU OKAY?” He called up to his partner.

But, he couldn’t hear anything over the storm. Hutch held his shoulder to try and stabilize it but there was no doubt – it had been knocked out of its socket. Hutch tried to pull himself up but found it difficult to do with only one arm. He waited for Leigh or Starsky to help him. He had not yet realized that the captain had been swept away by the raging seas.

Starsky was finally able to make it up out of the cabin and onto the deck. He saw Hutch crumpled on the floor. He knelt down to try and help as he scoured the boat and then the ocean for Leigh.

“LEIGH’S OVERBOARD!” Starsky screamed.

“WHAT?” Hutch answered – his partner’s announcement momentarily turning his attention away from his shoulder.

“HE’S GONE. I CAN’T SEE HIM.”

“TAKE THE WHEEL, STARSK. TRY TO GET HER UNDER CONTOL.”

“WHAT? ME?”

“JUST DO IT! I’LL TRY AND RADIO FOR HELP.”

Starsky didn’t wait for another order. It was up to him now whether he wanted to or not. As Starsky took the helm, Hutch finally got his feet underneath him and made his way down into the cabin. Adrenaline had taken over.

“KEEP HER STEADY, STARSK!”

“I’M TRYING HUTCH. I’M TRYING.”

Hutch was able to reach the radio but he couldn’t get it to work. Either Leigh had failed to keep it in working order or it had been damaged in the storm. After several tries at transmitting a mayday without success, Hutch threw the hand piece down in frustration. His joy ride had now become a fight for survival.

“THE RADIO’S NOT WORKING, STARSK. WE’RE ON OUR OWN.”

“ON OUR OWN?”

“WE’LL BE OKAY. WE JUST NEED TO RIDE IT OUT.”

“RIDE IT OUT?”

“HOLD ON, STARSK.”

“I’M HOLDING HUTCH! I’M HOLDING!”

*****

PART TWO

It took several hours for the storm to exhaust itself. Finally, the sun broke through and Starsky could relax his grip on the wheel. Now he could tend to Hutch. By this time he was passed out in the cabin. Starsky rushed to the radio to try it one more time but no go. He hissed a profanity.

“No radio, no life jackets. This is nuts!”

But, he had more problems then communication. The storm had taken them out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There was no land in sight. The unkempt and old sails had been shredded into rags by the gale force winds. They just seemed to disintegrate. The 10-horse power engine’s fuel wouldn’t last more than an hour. It wouldn’t take them far. Hutch was incapacitated. Their captain probably drowned. With all the problems now clear, fear really set in. Starsky crouched down in the narrow walkway to try and gain his wits. After a few moments of collection, he tapped Hutch’s cheek.

“Hutch?” He said quietly. “Hutch? Wake up. It’s over.”

When Hutch opened his eyes, he wished he hadn’t. At least when he was unconscious his arm didn’t hurt. With lucidity came pain.

“Where are we?” He groaned.

“No clue. I don’t see land, Hutch. We’re a drift in the middle of the ocean.”

“Damn.”

“Damn right, damn.” Starsky huffed.

“Okay. Don’t panic. We’re not going to sink or anything.”

“That’s comforting.”

Hutch’s face was the picture of discomfort.

“How’s your shoulder?”

“You’re going to have to put it back for me, Starsk.” Hutch announced.

“Put it back?”

“It’s dislocated.”

“And, you want me to relocate it? How am I supposed to do that?”

“Put your foot on my collarbone and pull as hard as you can.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Starsky NO. I’m not kidding. I can’t stand it anymore. Help me.”

“Okay, okay.”

“Take my wrist.” Hutch instructed, struggling to lift his arm. “Put your foot right about here.”

Starsky obeyed.

“Now. When you start to pull, don’t stop. I only want to got through this once.” Hutch panted, already bracing himself for the crude operation.

He wrapped his right arm around the base of the mast that cut through the boat like a massive saber. It would be his leverage against Starsky’s yank.

“But, it’s gonna hurt isn’t it?”

“Yes Starsky. It’s gonna hurt.”

“I don’t want to hurt you, Hutch.”

“I know that. But, we have no choice. We’ve got to do it.” Hutch said as if trying to convince himself as well. “Now when I say pull, I want you to pull as hard as you can. Only stop when you feel my shoulder pop back into place. Don’t stop okay, Starsk?”

“I hear ya.”

Hutch took several breaths to conjure up his courage.

“You ready?” He asked.

“I am if you are.”

“Okay on the count of three.” Hutch ordered. “One… two…”

“Wait!” Starsky barked.

“WAIT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN WAIT?”

“Do you want me to pull on three or when you say ‘pull’?”

“STARSKY?”

“I’m sorry, I just want to do it right.”

“When I say ‘pull’!” Hutch tried desperately to quell his frustration.

“Okay. One, two, three…pull.” Starsky rehearsed. “I got it.”

“Alright. Are you ready?” Hutch puffed.

“Yes. I’m ready.”

“One… two… three…. PUUUUUULL!”

Starsky pressed his foot against Hutch’s neck as hard as he could, while pulling Hutch’s wrist in the opposite direction. Hutch screamed in pain, but Starsky kept his promise. The two seemed to fight to get the stubborn shoulder back in its place. Finally, after a terrible struggle and as much brute strength as both could muster, Hutch’s arm popped forward and then back in a split second. The sound it made was sickening.

“You okay, Hutch?” Starsky knelt over his partner. “Hutch?”

But, there was no reply. Hutch was out cold. It was just as well, Starsky pondered; he was better off that way. He threw a blanket over his downed buddy and decided to leave him be for now. He went back up top to assess the situation further. It was nothing but grim.

*****

When darkness fell over the Pacific it dropped like an anvil off a stepladder. Starsky could barely see his hand in front of his face. With no moon, the boat was cast into complete blackness. It just made his predicament even more difficult.

Unfamiliar with the inner workings of the boat, Starsky fumbled through the cabin in a desperate search for some sort of lighting. Being careful to avoid stepping on his partner who still lay asleep on the floor of the cabin, Starsky pushed and pulled every knob on the control panel. Finally, out of pure luck, the lighting system came on.

“Thank God.” He sighed.

He then scrounged around for some food managing to find a few cans of beans and a box of soggy crackers. He began to prepare some semblance of dinner. There was drinking water on board, something that truly eased Starsky’s mind. Dehydration was not pretty. There was no telling how long they’d be stranded. With a plate and cup of water in hand, again he knelt over his buddy.

“Hey Hutch? Wake up. It’s supper time.” He said melodically. “Wake up , wake up, wake up you sleepy head. Get up, get up, get up… get out of bed. I’ve got some nice water for you. Wake up Hutch. Come on… wake up.”

“Have you been drinking?” Hutch murmured without moving a muscle. His eyes were still closed.

“No, but I wish I had been.” Starsky replied with the same musical tone. “Can you sit up?”

“I think so.” Hutch groaned as he grappled to raise himself.

“Here. Let me help you.”

The pair seemed to wrestle to get Hutch up and onto the narrow bench that ran the length of the cabin. Starsky did his best not to bump Hutch’s bad arm. They soon found themselves sitting beside each other – Hutch in a daze and Starsky awaiting the prognosis.

“Well? How is it?” He asked. ”Can you move it?”

“It works.” Hutch tried to rotate his shoulder slightly. “But just barely.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Not as bad as it did.”

“You should drink this.” Starsky offered Hutch the water.

“Thanks.”

With the blanket still slung across his back, Hutch took a dutiful swig of water. That only made him feel nauseous. The gentle swaying of the boat and the throbbing in his shoulder didn’t help. He looked a little gray.

“You okay?” Starsky quarried, seeing that he truly wasn’t.

“I think I’m gonna be sick.” Hutch announced.

“Well, don’t be sick down here. Go up there!” Starsky ordered as he urgently helped his partner up the few steps to the deck.

He left Hutch there to do his thing and returned to his meager meal. He took a forkful of beans while he waited but after a few moments he began to worry that maybe Hutch had fallen overboard too. With a look of panic on his face, Starsky rose to investigate but stopped when he saw Hutch’s feet descending the cabin steps.

“You scared me.” Starsky exhaled holding his heart dramatically. “I thought you’d gone for a swim.”

“Hand me that flashlight over there would’ya?” Hutch said ignoring his partner’s comment and his discomfort.

“Huh? What for?”

“I see a boat out there.” Hutch replied calmly.

“A boat? Where?”

“Out there. Maybe we can signal them with the flashlight.”

“Good think’in Ollie.”

Starsky grabbed the light and the pair climbed to the upper deck. Starsky saw the beckon in the distance right away. His heart missed a beat.

“Do you know how to do that SOS thing?” He asked.

“Starsky. You’re a cop. You should know how to signal an SOS.”

“Well, excuse me. I must have missed that day of training.”

“Give it to me then.”

“No… I can do it, I can do it.”

“I can do it, I can do it.” Hutch mocked.

“Besides, you’re injured.” Starsky scowled.

“I’m not too injured to use a flashlight.”

“Just give me the sequence will’ya? We’re wasting time.”

“Three short, three long, three short.” Hutch conceded.

“Oh yeah. I knew that.”

“Well, if you knew that then why are you asking me?” Hutch huffed.

“Take it easy. I just needed reminding that’s all.”

“Well, if you’re gonna do it. Go ahead and signal them before they’re out of range.”

“Okay. Okay.”

Starsky aimed the flashlight at the boat in the distance. He flicked it on and off and on and off. He kept up the signaling until the battery expired.

“Now look what you did.” Hutch grumbled.

“Well, if they haven’t seen us by now, they never will. I’ve been pushing this button for over twenty minutes. My thumb is killing me.”

“Awww, poor you.” Hutch tisked.

“Do you think they saw us?”

“We’ll soon find out.”

With bated breath the partner’s watched the boat that was just a dot on the horizon get bigger and bigger. They had been seen. As the rescue boat got closer and closer, Starsky and Hutch began to yell and wave at them to make sure.

But, when they came into view, only several yards from their boat, they realized they would not be saved at all. What was a desperate situation had just worsened. The men aboard the other boat were indeed pirates. They held machine guns on Starsky and Hutch and within moments had boarded the Isabelle.

“I don’t believe this.” Starsky muttered. His hands were already up.

“Ah, can we help you with something?” Hutch asked the obvious leader as if he were a sales clerk. He held one hand up and the other tightly to his abdomen.

“You sure can blondie?” The man replied.

“Well, whatever it is, you can have it.”

“Gee. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Hutch grinned widely. His sarcasm oozed.

“I hope you two know how to swim.” The man stated.

“Yes. But, we’d prefer not to.” Starsky commented. He too smiled as wide as he could.

“Over you go.” The man said bluntly as he and his men moved closer to the cops.

“Look, ah… couldn’t we talk about this?” Hutch pleaded.

“Nope.”

“But, you can’t just throw us overboard. We won’t have a chance.”

“Sure you’ll have a chance. We ain’t killin’ ya.”

The leader’s jab probed laughter from his insidious crew.

“At least let us take this life saver.” Starsky grabbed it as he and Hutch stepped backward and up against the handrail.

“It’s all yours.”

Both Starsky and Hutch stepped over the rail and were now teetering on the edge of the Isabelle. They looked over their shoulders at the water. It looked like ink.

“Well?” The man pushed. “Do we have to push you over or are you going to make it easy on yourselves?”

“Easy?”

“We could just shoot you.” The leader offered, raising his machine gun to take aim.

“No. No. We love swimming. Don’t we, Starsk?”

“Oh yeah. It’s my favorite pastime.”

“Over you go then.”

The pair had simply run out of room and it seemed there was no bargaining to be had. They looked at each other and then turned toward the sea. Apprehensively, they jumped in. With one arm each clung to the lifesaver, they watched the pirates crudely tie a rope to the Isabelle and tow her into the blackness. Within moments, she disappeared without a trace. The engine of the pirate boat faded into the night.

“This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.” Starsky chided.

“Sorry Starsk.”

“Next time you want to go sailing you can leave me at home!”

“But, then you’d miss all the excitement.” Hutch tried to sound upbeat in their daunting predicament.

“I don’t need this kind of excitement. Thanks anyway.”

“We’ll be okay, Starsk. Some one will be along. We just have to hold on ‘til morning. Someone will see us when it gets light.”

“I’m freezing. And, look at my watch. It’s ruined!”

“Well, now you have an excuse to buy a new one.”

“No. Now YOU have an excuse to replace it.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll buy you a new watch.”

The conversation ended with the realization by both men that they were in dire straits. They just might not get out of this one. The thought of being shark bait was sobering.

“Hutch?”

“Yeah?”

“If we die out here… I want you to know something before I go.”

“You’re not going anywhere and neither am I. Now just stay calm and keep talking. The last thing we want to do is fall asleep. Let’s just wait until sun comes up and then we can figure out what to do.”

“But, I…”

“Starsky… save it. Let’s talk about baseball or something. Let’s stay positive okay?”

They bobbed in the water like a cork. They stayed quiet for a moment. Only the sound of tiny waves hitting the side of their floatation devise chipped the ominous air.

“Hey Hutch?”

“Yeah?”

“How about those Dodgers, huh?”

*****

PART THREE

The sunrise would have been breathtaking to watch under different circumstances. It certainly was welcome nonetheless. Starsky and Hutch held onto the safety ring, resting their heads on their forearms. They had run out of conversation hours ago and could do nothing but wait. They were cold and on the edge of hypothermia. But, with dawn came hope and the sight of land. When Starsky first saw it, he thought he was seeing a mirage. It came into view, as the mist of early morning evaporated.

“Hey Hutch… look!”

“What?” He answered groggily.

“There’s an island.”

“Where?”

“Right over there.” Starsky pulled his soggy arm out of the water to point. “Do you think we can swim that far?”

“I’m not sure. I can’t feel my arm.”

“I’ll have to pull us then. Just hang-on, Hutch.”

Starsky felt strong. His energy surprised him. It was just as well, as Hutch was fading fast. It would be a heck of a swim against currants and surf, but Starsky plowed forward – his goal the gleaming white strip that cut the horizon. It took over an hour, but they finally made it to shore. They dragged themselves onto the sand and then collapsed onto it as if into their own beds. They flipped themselves over to soak up the sunshine and warm up there frigid bodies.

“You okay?” Starsky puffed, still out of breath from his swim.

“I think so.”

“What about your shoulder?”

“It doesn’t really matter. You did it, Starsk. Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.” He replied still panting. “Come on, let’s see if this place has any water or food.”

“Probably just the odd coconut.”

“I like coconut.” Starsky answered pleasantly.

Being a resourceful duo, they managed to down a few and opened them by slamming them with a rock. They gulped the liquid and feasted on the flesh. It was good and would have to do. Hutch used the crystal off of Starsky’s drowned watch to start a fire. He reflected the sun through it onto a dried piece of bark until it smoldered. He’d done it lots of times when he was a kid. By noon, they had set up camp complete with a bonfire and a few large driftwood logs to sit against.

“I never thought this would ever happen to me.” Starsky muttered out of the blue.

“What?”

“What? What do you mean what? Being stranded on a desert island, that’s what.”

“Could be worse.” Hutch shrugged, then winced at moving his shoulder the wrong way.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, we could be stranded in Antarctica. This is nice.” He said as he dug his bare feet into the soft sand.

“NICE?” Starsky hit back. “We could die out here, Hutch. This could be it. We may never see another soul for the rest of our lives.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“Are you delirious?”

“No. I just think this would be a great way to end our lives. Look at this place, Starsk. It’s beautiful. Look at the blue of that ocean. We could be here for years and it wouldn’t bother me. I like it.”

“You ARE delirious.” Then Starsky’s frame of mind changed gears. “Oh geez, I just thought about something.”

“What’s that?”

“My car.”

“Oh that.” Hutch replied with distain.

“I’m probably going to get a ticket. I parked on the street.”

“See there. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what’s so nice about being here. There are no rules or laws. There’s no city noise. No cars. No garbage trucks.”

“No food. No water. No women.” Starsky scoffed.

“Just peace and quiet.” Hutch continued. “I think I’m going to like it here.”

“Don’t get comfortable. We’re not staying.”

“We may not have a choice.”

“Listen, when Dobie finds out we haven’t reported for work he’ll send out a search party. Well, first he’ll flip out and then he’ll send out a search party. They’ll find my car and then put two and two together… right? And, don’t forget about Huggy. He’ll miss us. Won’t he?” Starsky didn’t seem to exude confidence.

“I suppose you’re right. The Coast Guard is probably out looking for us right now.”

“Dats right!”

“But, until then, I plan to enjoy this little paradise. We haven’t had a vacation in a long time.”

“Hutch. When I go on vacation I like to enjoy a few luxuries. You know? Simple things like shelter. A washroom would be nice.”

“Go in the jungle over there. Just make sure it’s far away from camp.” Hutch chortled.

“Very funny.”

“Look. We are going to be rescued. Just be prepared for a bit of a wait that’s all.”

“I hate waiting.”

“Yes. I know. I’ve been on stake outs with you.”

“You hate stake outs as much as I do.” Starsky defended.

“You’ve got a point there, Starsk. Just think of it. We may never have to go on another stake out for the rest of our lives. ”

Hutch closed his eyes for a nap. He exhaled a loud, relaxed sigh. The pain in his shoulder had returned but he decided to keep his discomfort from his buddy. Starsky, he surmised, was stressed enough. Starsky sniffed at his partner’s lack of concern as he scanned the horizon for any sign of a boat or plane. As he looked down the beach, he noticed something washed up onto shore that he hadn’t seen before.

“Hey Hutch.”

“Um?”

“What’s that?”

“What’s what?” He murmured with his eyes still closed.

“Come on let’s go look.” Starsky urged as he stood to get a better look.

“Do I have to?”

“No. I’ll be right back.”

Starsky knew what it was. But, he just had to be sure. It was a mile down the sandy shore and when he finally reached it, his fears were realized. It was Leigh. He turned back to call to Hutch, but he decided to let him be. Starsky began the grizzly task of burying the captain. Several hours later he returned to camp.

“Where have you been? I was starting to get worried.”

“I found Leigh.” Starsky replied somberly.

“What? Where?” Hutch sounded shocked.

“He’d washed up onto the rocks over there. I got him out and buried him.”

“Oh.”

It was just then that Hutch heard a helicopter. It was quick distraction from the news about Leigh.

“Do you hear that, Starsk?”

“I sure do.” He replied – his melancholy turning to hope.

“Go and dunk a few of those palms in the water and then put them on the fire.”

“What for?”

“You get more smoke that way, turkey.”

“Oh yeah.”

Starsky raced to gather up some foliage and ran to the water to wet them. Then, he threw them onto the flames and a cloud of white smoke billowed upwards. When the chopper came into view the pair leaped and yelled trying desperately to attract attention. The helicopter turned and headed toward them.

“Whoooohoooo!” Starsky whooped. “We’re saved! We’re gonna be okay!”

“So much for a vacation.”

“Hutch.” Starsky said with joy. “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. My treat.”

“Anywhere?”

“Yep. It’s on me buddy.”

“How about a cruise?”

Starsky’s elation was momentarily squashed by his partner’s suggestion. The last thing he wanted to do was set sail again.

“How about I leave you right here?”

“Nah.”

“Oh, why not?”

“You’d never find a partner as good as me.”

“I could try.” Starsky jabbed.

“You hurt me, Starsk. You really hurt me.”

***The End***

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