Summary: Starsky has trouble dealing with a get away driver that he can’t seem to catch. Problem is… it’s a girl.
Category: Starsky & Hutch
Word Count: 7763
She got away from you again huh Starsky?”
“You know, Minnie? You got a mean streak in you. It’s very unbecoming.” Starsky replied with slight angst.
“Aww, Davey. You know I still love ya.”
The petite policewoman pinched Starsky’s cheek and left the squad room with a pretentious, ballet-like flourish. While Starsky was left with his pointed finger in mid-air like a flagpole and staring into space.
As the dynamic duo, Dave Starsky and Ken Hutchinson, made their way to their desks, the other officers that shared the squad room talked amongst themselves.
“Ever get the feeling people are talkin’ about you?” Starsky muttered.
“It’s not a feeling Starsk. They ARE talking about you.” Hutch replied as he weaved his way through an obstacle course of chairs until he got to his section of desk. He plunked himself in front of a heap of paperwork and scowled at it.
“Well, I wish everyone would get off my back and stop PRESSURING ME!” Starsky announced loud enough for the room to hear.
He looked back at his audience crossly. His dramatics just made his cohort’s chuckle even more.
“You know Starsky. You are your own worst enemy.”
“Oh really. Enlighten me.” The irritated cop replied seemingly disinterested in his friend’s opinion.
“Well, you’ve built yourself an unrealistic reputation.”
“I have, have I.”
“Yes.” Hutch gave his cluttered desk a procrastinated look and got up to get a cup of coffee. He philosophized as he went. “You’ve got THE CAR.” He gestured quotation marks in Starsky’s face to emphasize his point. “You have this uncontrollable NEED FOR SPEED. You think you’re A. J. Foyt for Christ’s sake.”
“I DO NOT!”
“No.” Starsky pouted. “I’m more the Mario Andretti type.”
“Admit it Starsk, you’re just upset because she’s a woman.”
“I’m not upset.”
“Yes you are. She drives better than you and you can’t take that. You hate the fact that you can’t catch her. You think a woman can’t drive a car as well as a man. Let’s face it Starsky… YOU are a male, chauvinist, pig.” Hutch took his seat again and teetered his cup on a stack of files.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it. She’s a criminal and I that’s what I do… catch criminals.”
“Oh YOU do, do you.”
“Well, I have an idea.” Hutch offered.
“Dis I gotta hear.”
Hutch leaned forward and pointed at his partner who sat opposite him with his chin leaning on his clenched fist. He looked terribly bored with Hutch’s expounding.
“Let’s use my car.” Hutch suggested wide-eyed with raised brows.
“Dats your idea?”
“Use your car.”
“Yes. She’s never seen my car. We can get closer with it. She’ll never see us coming.”
“Your car, and I use the term loosely, is an over-sized golf cart that couldn’t catch a skateboard.”
“It’s got speed.” Hutch theorized as he picked-up a group of files and banged the edge of them on the desk to ready them for organization.
“Speed? Define speed?”
“It’s got the same engine under the hood as the Torino.” Hutch informed his partner boldly.
“I will disregard that last remark because I know you don’t know anything about cars.”
“I know one thing for sure, Starsk.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that.”
“If you’re going to catch her, it’s not going to be in your car. Why don’t you just find another heap to chase her with?”
“Because, like I’ve told you before Hutch… the Torino is the fastest car on the old roado.”
“Okay, okay. I’m just trying to help, that’s all.”
“Well, don’t bother. I’ll get her… with MY car.”
“Just don’t kill me in the process, okay buddy.” Hutch continued to rummage through the paperwork now loosing interest in the conversation. “I’m too young to die.”
Captain Dobey opened his office door that led into the squad room. He glanced at his two top detectives and shuffled over to the coffeepot silently. He slowly poured himself a cup and leaned against the filing cabinet. Starsky and Hutch lazily looked up at him wondering what was on his mind.
“So… ah… Starsky.” Dobey began with a smirk, “I heard she got away from you… again.”
“You know.” Starsky replied. “I can get by just fine without all the snide comments.”
“Maybe you should try wearing a pair of high heels instead of those blue and white striped things you call shoes.”
Dobey’s remark made Hutch laugh and it eventually spread throughout the office.
“It’s not that funny.” Starsky chastised Hutch like a little brother being picked on by his sibling.
“Yes it is. I think it’s a scream.” He took a sip of coffee and gave his friend a patronizing wink.
“Anyone care to put a little wager on me arresting this broad by Friday?” Starsky challenged.
“How much money you got?” Dobey asked.
“I’ve got five hundred bucks that says I’ll have her in custody by Friday at six pm.”
“Five hundred bucks, huh?” Hutch inquired. “What about the hundred bucks you owe me?”
“Okay, I got four hundred bucks… anyone… anyone?”
The transfer of wagers circulated through the squad room like a back alley crap game. Starsky was a little miffed at the fact that they were all betting against him. Hutch stayed out of it. After all, he had to share the adventure in the passenger seat. In recent days he’d even used his seat belt. The gambling action soon waned and the police officeres resumed business as usual.
“I hate to be a nag… but how about helping out with some of this paperwork. What do you say, Mario?” Hutch asked.
“Huh… ah… yeah… sure.” Starsky said vacantly.
But, even though he’d agreed to get to work he did not budge from his sulking posture and stared thoughtfully into space.
“The reports. As soon as we get this stuff done, the sooner we’re back on the streets. The sooner you can loose that four hundred dollars. The sooner…”
Hayley Fitzgerald had only been seen once by her victims. She’d made one mistake in her infamous career as a get away driver and that was to help rob the very bank with which she did her business. A teller identified her through her street side window. That was three weeks ago. Starsky and Hutch had been chasing her through the streets of the city ever since. Her accomplices were well known to police but with Hayley’s skill as a driver she’d managed to keep them safe from incarceration… so far.
There wasn’t much to go on. Starsky and Hutch had an over exposed, grainy photo taken by a filthy outdoor security camera and her customer account information. Most of that turned out to be false. They weren’t even sure if Hayley Fitzgerald was her real name. They’d given her the nickname “Hayley’s Comet” anyway, simply because she seemed to have absolutely no fear of speed.
She always drove a different car. The pair thought they might all be stolen or rented, but none of the license plate numbers came up registered to anyone. They deduced she was altering the plates.
Hayley was young, cocky and clever and it was driving Starsky crazy. He’d taken the case on as a personal vendetta. He’d bragged for years about his souped-up Ford, and the time had come to finally quell his critics. It was now or never… put up or shut up.
Hutch ended up finishing most of the paperwork himself but that wasn’t uncommon. No amount of carping lit a fire under his partner – especially when it came to administrative duties.
Starsky spent most of the morning trying to pick up the latest edition to the department – a constable Andrea Brooksbank. Andrea was small and brunette and cute as a button. Her eyes were bigger and browner then any Starsky had ever encountered before – he got lost in them. She giggled at just about everything he said to her. She sounded like Betty Rubble when she laughed and he loved it.
They finally hit the streets again after Hutch literally pulled his partner away from Andrea. They wolfed down an egg-salad sandwich from the vending machine at the station. They liked to live dangerously – lately it was becoming a habit.
“Officer Brooksbank still not interested?” Hutch cracked as the twosome drove out of the police parking lot.
“Oh she’s interested alright. How could she not be?”
“I can think of a few reasons.”
“Like?” Starsky querried.
“Your clothes. Your choice of aftershave. Your car.”
“Oh. And I suppose YOUR clothes and YOUR aftershave and YOUR car are desirable to women?”
“Of course… at least I iron MY clothes.”
“I iron my clothes!” Starsky insisted as he gave himself the once over. “Most of the time.” He clarified.
“Uh huh.” Hutch nodded all-knowingly.
Abruptly, Starsky changed the subject.
“Maybe I should check in with Merle?”
“I thought he was a car detailer?”
“Hutch. Merle is the Earl.”
“Yeah. I know.” Hutch sighed skeptically. “The Earl of what, I’m not exactly sure.”
“Listen. He knows a lot of people. Maybe he’s seen her. We can show him the picture, can’t we?”
“Sure… okay… whatever.” Hutch sighed resolutely. “This is your gig.”
“Maybe he knows a good mechanic who can tune-up the Torino. It’s feelin’ a little sluggish.”
“Sluggish? Oh, is that what you call it?”
“It feels like my fuel line is clogged or something. I’m not getting the power I need.” Starsky said as he glanced around the car bewildered by its lack of performance.
“I don’t think it’s the fuel line that needs unclogging.”
“Will you please. Can’t you feel that?” He demonstrated by pumping the gas pedal and jerking the car down the road.
“Starsky? Do you have to do that?”
“No. I don’t have to.”
“Well, stop it then… geez.” Hutch sniffed and then regrouped. “The car feels the same as it always does. The thing rides like a battle weary Sherman tank.”
Starsky ignored Hutch’s bashing.
“We can at least give Merle a try can’t we?” Starsky said returning to the previous train of thought.
“If you insist. But if you don’t mind I’ll stay in the car. I’m still mad at him for turning my car into a pimpmobile. Tell him he still owes me money for getting it back to normal.”
“If you can call THAT normal.”
Starsky made a dramatic U-turn back in the direction of Merle the Earl’s Body Shop, which made Hutch roll his eyes impatiently. He exhaled silently but did not mention it in fears of starting another argument.
Before they could reach their destination a call came over the radio.
“Attention all units. There is a two-eleven in progress at Forester and Tramain. Dark green Dodge with black vinyl roof reported leaving the scene.”
Hutch picked up the mouthpiece of the radio to respond but had it swiped from his hand by his partner. Hutch stopped mid word and froze his position – his hand still poised now holding a fist full of air. He slowly shifted his eyes toward Starsky and shook his head.
“We got it. It’s mine.” He said into the radio with intensity.
He threw the mouthpiece on the seat beside him and leaned forward, pushing on the steering wheel subliminally forcing the car forward. He looked like a jockey riding a thoroughbred at full gallop.
Hutch calmly picked up the discarded radio mouthpiece and placed it passively back in its cradle. After setting the police light atop the roof and sounding the siren, he reached for the seat belt and snapped it into position. He braced himself for yet another wild ride. He gazed upwards as if saying a prayer while Starsky focused on the road ahead and his nemesis Hayley Fitzgerald.
“There she is!” Starsky announced accelerating up to eighty-five miles an hour.
Hutch placed a firm hand on the dash and the other flat on the seat beside him in anticipation. It was the only way to stabilize himself without having his head bounce off the passenger side window. He still had a bump on his head from the last chase and he wasn’t about to get another.
“Look at that?”
“Do I have to.” Hutch retorted sarcastically.
“She’s driving a ’68 Charger. I feel like Steve McQueen in ‘Bullitt’.”
“No no. If anyone is Steve McQueen in this scenario it’s me.”
“Because, I’m the one who’s tall, blonde and handsome.”
“I got news for you pal. Steve McQueen ain’t tall.”
“Well, two out of three ain’t bad.”
Hayley caught the reflection of the red striped Ford in her rear view mirror and smiled deviously. She was always happy to see the boys – the swarthy curly-haired one and the platinum blonde one. She looked forward to meeting them some day. It gave her great pleasure to leave them in her wake. It was a turn-on.
Hayley steadily pushed the accelerator to the floor and the Charger responded. It seemed to take off like a jackrabbit making it difficult for Starsky to keep up.
“What the hell has she got under that hood?”
“Seen ‘Star Wars’ yet, Starsk?”
“Well, the Millennium Falcon comes to mind.”
The two cars sped through the streets toward the interstate. They both traveled into the ninety-mile an hour range with Hayley well out in front and still picking up speed. Starsky had seemed to top out at ninety-three.
Hutch winced as his partner tore over the pavement in his futile pursuit. It was difficult to watch from a passenger perspective. Several times Hutch threw his arms up feeling the need to protect himself from what he thought would be a sure collision. Starsky swerved around cars and trucks stopped in the road innocently making their deliveries. There were lots of “WATCH OUTS!” and “STARSKY! SLOW DOWN’S!” in the mix but Starsky continued on relentlessly.
Hayley reached the on-ramp to the interstate and took the curve without loosing any momentum. It was like she used the ramp as a slingshot to propel the Charger onto the highway. Starsky had to apply the breaks, misjudging the ramp. The gap between them widened.
“How’d she do that?” Starsky hissed.
“It’s called skill.”
“I have skill!”
“Oh yeah… I can see that.” Hutch mocked still holding on for dear life.
The chase continued. The Torino seemed to narrow the margin as they raced at top speed in the passing lane of the four-lane highway. But, Hayley was just toying with them.
“Starsk. You’re oil light is on.” Hutch said with a remarkably calm voice.
“Huh? What?” Starsky said still totally focused on the pursuit.
“You’re oil light. It’s on.” Hutch repeated casually.
As Starsky looked down at his instrument panel, Hayley made a quick right move over three lanes and motored up the Mulhulland Drive off-ramp. Both Starsky and Hutch snapped their heads around over their right shoulders to see her waving at them as they continued on straight as an arrow down the interstate. Hutch immediately picked up the radio mouthpiece.
“This is Zebra Three. Green Dodge Charger has exited onto Mulhulland. Please have units in the area respond and continue pursuit. We’re dead in the water.”
“Lost her again, huh Starsky?” Came the dispatcher’s robotic voice.
“Tell her to…”
“Ah, ah.” Hutch waved his finger stopping Starsky from expressing his ire. “And, your oil light is still on.”
“SHIT!!” He blasted as the Torino slowly lost power and ended up on the inside shoulder of the road in a cloud of smoke.
“Why is this happening to me?” Starsky muttered as he rested his head on his hands that were still tightly gripping the steering wheel.
“Look on the bright side, Starsk.” Hutch remarked cheerfully.
Starsky, still hunched over, slowly turned his head to make eye contact with his partner. He waited patiently to hear what could possible be the “bright side” of this situation.
“We’re still alive.”
“Well. If it isn’t Jackie Stewart and his faithful side kick Mario Andretti.” Huggy Bear greeted as the detectives strolled into his tavern “The Pits”.
“No, no. I’m Jackie Stewart,” Hutch corrected. “he’s Mario Andretti.”
“Just get us a beer will ya, Hug.” Starsky ordered wearily.
“Make that a Johnny Walker for me and as for you…” Hutch pointed in Starsky’s face, “you take a seat over there. We need to talk.”
He was seething.
Starsky shrugged and meandered over to their usual table oblivious to his partner’s black mood. He was too crushed by that afternoon’s futile chase to care. He could only wallow in self-pity and denial.
The curly-haired cop dropped himself in the seat almost sending him over board. When he recovered his balance he leaned on the back legs and put his feet up on the table. He looked around slightly embarrassed to see if anyone had noticed his lack of grace. Usually it was Hutch who knocked tables and chairs over or walked into closed glass doors. Hutch was a bull in a china shop. Starsky had his moments but they were few and far between. He crossed his hands over his belt and glanced around the place to see if there was anything worth looking at. Hutch approached with a mug of beer for his partner and a shot for himself.
“So?” Starsky asked after sipping, swallowing and licking away a beer foam mustache. “What do you want to talk about?”
“What do I want to talk about?”
“Yeah.” He said puzzled. “What do you want to talk about?”
Hutch was amazed at his partner’s density.
“I want to talk about this death wish you seem to have lately.”
“What? What death wish?”
“Starsky.” Hutch said point blank. “If you don’t forget about this tear you’re on you are going to kill one or both of us.”
“Ah, come on.” Starsky dismissed. “I’m not on any tear.”
“I mean it Starsk. I’ve had it. I never thought you’d put me in harm’s way but I saw my life flash before my eyes more than once out there today and I don’t intend for it to happen again.” Hutch leaned back in his chair and downed his shot.
He needed it to steady his over-worked nerves. He winced at its potency and waited for Starsky’s response.
“What are you saying, partner?”
“I’m saying if you don’t settle down and think this thing through instead of trying to power your way to an arrest with that heap of red and white metal out there, I’m done riding with you.”
“You’re done riding with me?”
“You don’t want to be my partner anymore.”
“Of course I want to be your partner. I’ll always be your partner!” Hutch sounded astounded that Starsky would even question his friendship. “I just don’t want to be part of this Indy 500 you and Miss Fitzgerald seem to be involved in. I’m your partner not your co-pilot. I don’t want you to get hurt but most of all I don’t want me to get hurt.”
“So. You’re saying I’m on my own if I continue to chase down The Comet?”
“The way you’ve been going about it… yes.”
“And I suppose you have a better idea.” Starsky relented.
“I already told you, I think we can get her in my car. Or ANY other car for that matter. Let’s get out on the street and see if anyone’s heard about the next target. Let’s track down her cohorts Houghton and Nurse. We’ve got SOME information on those guys. Can’t we just do what we do best? We’re detectives right? Let’s detect instead of moonlighting as the Dukes of Hazard for Christ’s sake.”
“Are you finished?”
“Yes…” Hutch thought a moment. “I think I am.”
Starsky took another swig of his beer and pondered Hutch’s proposal.
“Okay, okay.” Starsky confirmed. “But, I hope you realize you’re sentencing me to a life time of ridicule.”
“I do realize that Starsky and I appreciate the sacrifice.” Hutch spoke calmly now, feeling better that his partner was coming around to his way of thinking. “But…”
“You must be used to ridicule by now.”
“Do you want some of my muffin?” Hutch offered as he riffled through the files on Houghton and Nurse.
“What kind is it?” Starsky looked over suspiciously.
“Oh…” He replied with a grotesque sneer. “No thanks.”
“Eating bran is like eating sawdust. The wood chips get caught in my teeth.”
“Your body needs fiber, Starsk.” Hutch preached. “Keeps your bowels in good working order.”
“My bowels?” He replied as if he had never heard the word before.
“Yeah… your bowels.” Hutch restated.
“My bowels are doing just fine, thank-you.”
“Not if you aren’t getting your daily source of grains and ruffage.”
“Ruffage?” Starsky made a quizzical face.
“Do we have to talk about this?”
“No. We don’t have to.” Hutch shrugged. “I just care about you… want you to be healthy… live a long life.” He expounded sincerely.
“If you cared about me you wouldn’t ask about my bowels in front of people.”
“Nothing to be embarrassed about, Starsk.”
“I’m not embarrassed.”
“Yes you are.”
“I am not.” Starsky reassured. “I just don’t like having my pumping discussed in the office. I’ve got enough problems with my fellow officers about The Comet without you lecturing me about my bowels.” Starsky whispered loudly across the table at his partner who popped the last morsel of bran muffin into his mouth.
“Okay, okay. What kind of muffin do YOU like then?” Hutch said conspicuously changing the subject. “You know… just for future reference.”
“Chocolate chip muffin?” Hutch stopped chewing and held his food in his cheek like a squirrel conserving nuts for the winter. He scrunched his face skeptically.
“Yes… a chocolate chip muffin. What’s wrong with that?”
“Starsky. Anything that has chocolate chips in it is not a muffin.”
“What is it then?”
“I like cake.”
“I give up.” Hutch resigned shaking his head and returning to the reports. “Okay… “ He sighed, “…here’s what we’ve got on our friend Doug Houghton. Released from Chino seven months ago.”
“After how long?”
“Let me see here… served four years for grand theft. Quite the locksmith. Has a reputation for safe cracking just about anything.”
“Isn’t he the guy we arrested who wanted to take us out to dinner before we booked him?”
“Yep. He’s the man. Real charmer. Could sell ice to the Eskimos.”
“Oh yeah. I remember. I liked him.” Starsky pondered. “Nice guy.”
“He robbed people of their life savings, Starsk.”
“Well, sure. But he did it nicely. Never hurt anyone… physically I mean.” He retorted casually.
“I guess not.” Hutch scowled at his partner’s lack of concern. “He’s a Motocross freak. Into cars too. Maybe we can check out some bike shops in the area and see if anyone’s seen him.”
“Merle the Earl.” Starsky reminded with the snap of his fingers.
“Yeah, yeah okay. Merle might know him.”
“Okay… good. What about Nurse?”
Hutch closed the file on Houghton and picked up the file on Richard Nurse. He sat neatly at the desk while Starsky perched himself on the table next to Hutch. His legs dangled freely like a kid sitting on a dock fishing.
“Nurse… Richard Nurse. Never come across this guy before.” Hutch said as he scanned the report. “Black guy. Six foot… 220. Ex-athlete. Says here he actually played a season with the Rams.”
“I never kid about football, Starsk.”
“Good point. And, what’s his specialty?”
“Guy goes from the NFL to armed robbery. That’s a little strange don’t you think?”
“No. Chocolate chip muffins are strange.”
Starsky just sneered at his partner’s remark and watched him walk over to the cabinet and re-file the reports on Hayley Fitzgerald’s comrades.
“Um?” The blonde cop answered pre-occupied with alphabetizing the files.
“How do you suppose these three people got together? I mean, what do they have in common? They seem like an odd threesome. How do they know each other?”
Hutch leaned on the cabinet and thought a moment.
“Maybe they met in a bar or have a mutual friend.” He offered.
“Yeah… maybe.” Starsky said as the gears in his head began to rotate. “How old are they?”
Hutch reopened the drawer of the cabinet and pulled out the files again. It took him several minutes to find the information. His partner waited patiently.
“All three of them are twenty-eight.”
“Do you think that is just a coincidence?”
“Don’t know.” Hutch shrugged.
“Maybe they went to school together.”
“Fine idea Ollie. Let me check.”
Again Hutch scoured the files for the data. He finished his review and calmly placed the files back in their proper place.
“Well?” Starsky asked anxiously.
“They all went to the same high school.”
“No kiddin’. Man, I’m good… which one?”
“St. Mary’s! Dats one of the most exclusive, private schools in town.”
“Yep. Good work, Starsk.” Hutch confirmed as he grabbed his jacket and headed for the door. “You comin’?”
“Back to school… where else.”
“You know, Hutch. I always hated school.” Starsky reminisced, “The only thing I was good at was lunch and recess.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.” Hutch sniffed.
“No… I mean it. I don’t even like the smell of a school.” The apprehensive cop continued. “They all smell the same.”
“And that would smell like…”
“I don’t know… a combination of bleach, crayons and stale peanut butter.”
Starsky’s description made Hutch chuckle.
They rode in Hutch’s LTD – the Torino now relegated to the garage. At least until they’d caught Hayley.
St. Mary’s was in an extremely upper class neighbourhood and now it was Hutch’s car that was conspicuous. It rattled up the avenue that was bordered with perfectly manicured lawns and statuesque palm trees. They turned into the gated stone driveway that led to the main entrance of the school. When the pair got out of the car, they were gawked at by students and faculty alike. The combination of the shit-brown, battered vehicle and their casual clothes made them stick out amongst the elite. They were used to Mercedes and Jordache, not Ford and Levis. It made the cops feel self-conscious.
As soon as they entered the ivy covered building, Starsky immediately soured his face.
“Yep. Dats the smell.”
“You know something Starsk, you’re right. It does smell like bleach, crayons and peanut butter. Let’s find the principal’s office.”
“Do we have to?”
Hutch ignored his partner and walked down the hall toward the administration office. He led the way briskly while Starsky lagged behind like a toddler in a grocery store.
“We’re here to see the principal.” Hutch announced to the school receptionist.
“Why? Have you boys been bad?”
The two men frowned and glanced at one other being caught off guard by the young lady’s response.
“Uh… no ma’am. We’re da good guys.” Starsky retorted with a gleaming smile.
“I’ll bet you are.”
Again, the pair looked at each other a little bit side ways. Hutch pulled out his badge.
“Police.” He said charmingly.
“Maybe it’s me who’s been bad.” She flirted.
“Look… Mrs. Hamm… erstram… aloski.” Hutch tried his best to decipher the woman’s desk nameplate.
“It’s MISS Hammerstramaloski.” She affirmed batting her eyes at Starsky who stood in front of her with his hands folded neatly behind his back.
“MISS Hammerstramaloski.” Hutch corrected himself, “If it isn’t too much trouble could you tell us if the principal in?”
“Just one moment boys. I’ll announce you. Who might I say is inquiring?”
“Detectives Hutchinson and Starsky.” Hutch answered.
“I’ll be right back Detective Starsky.”
“No no. He’s Starsky… I’m Hutchinson.”
“If you say so.”
Yet another glanced passed between the two cops. All they could do was smirk and shrug.
“I can’t believe I’m standing here in the principal’s office.” Starsky complained. “I’m a grown man.”
“Could have fooled me.”
“Will you please. This place gives me the creeps.”
“Principal Gruber will see you now.” The receptionist interrupted Starsky’s protests.
Hutch pushed his uncomfortable partner forward and the twosome entered the principal’s office and closed the door. Miss Hammerstramaloski watched them all the way with great interest. When they were out of earshot she whistle a quiet catcall to herself then resumed her duties.
Principal Gruber was a severe looking fellow. He sported a military crew cut and wore horn-rimmed glasses. His head was shaped like a cement block. He seemed to have all the personality of one as well. The man’s sternness didn’t make it any easier for Starsky who gingerly placed himself in an over-sized leather chair. Hutch seemed totally at ease.
“What can I do for you officers?”
“We’re investigating a string of robberies. Three of your alumni students are suspects.”
“And whom might these students be?”
“Doug Houghton, Richard Nurse and Hayley Fitzgerald. But we’re not sure if Fitzgerald is her real name. We do have a photo of her though.”
“Houghton and Nurse I know. I’ve been with this institution for almost thirty years. I’ve seen a lot of students come and go. Some I never took notice of. I never had to.” Gruber leaned back pensively to better reminisce. “But, I remember Richard and Doug vividly. They made me earn my money on more than one occasion. Very high-spirited young people to say the least. I have a suspicion who this Hayley person might be. May I see the photo?”
Hutch passed the picture across the massive desk to Gruber.
“Yes. It’s who I thought it might be.”
“Who is she?”
“It’s Paige Gill. She, Nurse and Houghton used to be inseparable. As a matter of fact, I think she married Houghton just after graduation. Those three stood in front of me many, many times while they were here. They were a hand full. Always in trouble.”
“Could you pull their files for us. It sure would help in our investigation.”
“Certainly. I’ll have Miss Hammerstromaloski get those for you. Is they’re anything else?”
“No sir. You’ve been very helpful.” Hutch thanked.
He looked over at Starsky who sat so still it looked like he’d become part of the chair. He hadn’t uttered a word throughout the whole interview but rather stared sheepishly at Mr. Gruber. Hutch rolled his eyes, slightly shook his head and sighed at his partner’s self-induced stress. He was surprised Starsky was so intimidated by this man. Hutch rose from his chair and began to leave.
“You comin’ Starsk?”
“Umm. Yeah. Thank for your time Mr. Gruber.”
“My pleasure.” The principal answered brightly.
Starsky slowly backed out of the office into the reception area. Hutch had already asked Miss Hammerstromalowski for the files. She was more than happy to oblige. She looked for them while periodically and blatantly checking out Starsky. He’d still not recovered from being in the principal’s office and stood in the corner waiting for Hutch to get the files so he could leave as soon as possible.
“Good-bye Detective Starsky.” She said as she handed Hutch the files and showed them to the door. “It was SO nice meeting you. Come back anytime.”
He just smiled awkwardly at her and rushed out of the place. This time Hutch lagged behind him. They finally escaped the building unscathed.
“What is with you?” Hutch gasped impatiently. “You looked like a cornered fox in there.”
“I told you. I hate schools.”
“The fear of schools. That’s a new one. What is that called… scholasiphobia?”
“Very funny. I’ll be even happier when we are off the grounds all together.”
“It’s worse than I thought.”
“What is?” Starsky asked pre-occupied with getting in the car and fleeing.
“You need therapy, man.”
The plan was to interview the parents of the suspects. As Hutch drove, Starsky read the files Miss Hammerstamaloski had given the detectives. He gathered all the addresses they needed. The Houghton’s were first on the list.
“I need a bank.” Starsky announced out of the blue. “If you see a City Bank pull in.”
“Sure.” Hutch replied lazily. “Why do you need a bank all of a sudden?”
“Starsky, it’s June 30th at 3:45. Why do you always wait until the last moment to take care of business.”
“Just thought of it.”
“You pay rent every month.” Hutch lectured. “Why don’t you give your landlord post-dated cheques for the year like normal people.”
“Oh, you mean like you do?”
“Because, I am a live in the moment kind-a-guy. Things change. I might want to move next month. You just never know what the future holds.” Starsky philosophized, “I want to be able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice.” He snapped his fingers several times through the air for effect.
“You’re kidding right?” Hutch said.
“Um?” He looked up from the reports momentarily and made eye contact with Hutch.
“You’ve been in the same apartment now for over three years.”
“You’re not going anywhere, partner.”
“Thank you so much for that vote of confidence.”
“I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean you look pretty settled to me.”
“Well, I’m not. It’s all just a ploy to confuse people who think they know me.”
“Are you saying that I don’t know you?”
“I know you better than you know your self, buddy.” Hutch cut off his partner mid-sentence.
“You don’t know the real me.” Starsky challenged.
“Oh, you mean the guy who is looking for Mrs. Right so he can settle down and have kids – preferably two boys and a girl. Shall I give you their names?” Hutch patronized before he continued to ramble off his partner’s inner most thoughts. “Or the guy who wishes he could drive at Daytona. Or the guy who is smarter than he lets on and just squeaked through school because it wasn’t cool to be intelligent. Or the guy…”
“Okay, okay. STOP. You’ve made your point.” Starsky sounded annoyed that someone could actually know him to the core. “I know you too, ya know.”
“Yes, I know you do Starsk, but I don’t question it every chance I get.”
“Okay… take it easy.”
“Just don’t pull that bull shit with me.” Hutch scolded. “You should know better.”
“Okay, I said.”
“Alright.” Hutch huffed.
“Alright then… if you see a bank. Pull in.”
“I knew you were going to say that.”
The Houghton’s residence was several miles away from St. Mary’s school. This was not uncommon as high society simply went out of their way to send their children to the best schools. They weren’t even sure if the school files they acquired were accurate. The Houghton’s may have moved. But, at least it was a start.
As Hutch drove he consciously watched for a bank so Starsky could pay his rent. He noticed one and pulled in front of it and parked behind three other cars – the driver sat waiting for whomever they’d dropped off to do their banking as well.
“What are you doing?” Starsky asked.
“You said you needed a bank. Here’s a bank.”
“Oh yeah. Thanks. I’ll be right back.”
Starsky got out the car and entered the building.
“Sometimes I feel like his mother.” Hutch mumbled to himself.
He stuck his elbow out the window and rested his jaw on his clenched fist. Being partner’s with Starsky was sometimes a test in patience but Hutch was used to it. He pondered his friendship while he waited. He couldn’t help but smirk. Their relationship was deeply rooted and so comfortable they seemed like one person at times. They were so close they could say “I love you” and “fuck off” in the same sentence. It was the most solid relationship Hutch had ever known. It was rare. It was intense and it was the most important thing in his life.
The brilliant rays of the sun bounced off Hutch’s flaxen hair making it glow like a torch. He reached for his sunglasses and slipped them on then scanned the street, watching people come and go. It seemed like a normal day. But, it was anything but.
The sound of a gunshot made him literally jump in his seat. He instinctively flew out of the car and drew his weapon. He whipped around the front of the LTD only to be confronted with Houghton and Nurse who were coming out of the bank. Nurse held Starsky from behind in a chokehold and held a gun to his head. Hutch squared himself and pointed his gun at the threesome.
“HOLD IT!” He warned. “LET HIM GO!”
“Not on your life, Hutchinson.” Houghton replied coolly.
He’d remembered the pair from when they’d arrested him several years earlier.
“Put down your weapons.” Hutch tried again.
Starsky burned an intense stare into his partner’s navy, blue eyes. He seemed more annoyed than terrified. People on the street scrabbled for safety as the showdown escalated. Hutch could hear an engine rev impatiently. He knew it was Paige Gill’s way of telling her cohorts to get a move on.
Houghton and Nurse sidled toward the get away car and Starsky had no choice but to shuffle along with them. Hutch never took his eyes off them as they got closer and closer to escaping with a bag full of money and with Starsky. Hutch didn’t know what to do. He knew he couldn’t take a shot. He might hit his partner.
The men threw the curly-haired cop into the back seat of Paige’s lime green Mustang Mach II and she sped off before they’d even shut the doors. Hutch bolted for the LTD, flung himself behind the wheel and peeled out into the street after them.
“I don’t believe this.” He muttered to himself as he put the pedal to the metal and caught up to them. He picked up the radio mouth piece. “This is Zebra Three requesting back-up. I am in pursuit of a green mustang on Cornwall at Rogers. Office has been taken hostage and is in said vehicle.”
He could see the reflection of Paige’s profile in the side mirror of her car and her peeking at him. Their eyes locked momentarily. It was like she was challenging him to a duel. The chase had begun.
Hutch couldn’t see Starsky. Houghton must have been sitting on him in the back seat. Nurse was in the front passenger seat with his weapon drawn. He held it upright and at the ready. Paige picked up speed and masterfully swerved around anything in her path. But Hutch stayed with her. He had to.
His front bumper kissed her back bumper and she temporarily lost control only to gain it back again like a NASCAR pro. Hutch picked up the radio hand piece and gave his co-ordinance to the dispatcher. He called for back up and a roadblock several streets ahead. It seemed the only way to stop her. Or at least slow her down.
The Mach II curled around a car turning left and Paige had to drive on the sidewalk to get by it so she wouldn’t have to slow down. Several pedestrians dove out of her way but no one seemed to get hurt. Hutch had to slow up somewhat but was back on her tail within half a block.
Then a shot shattered Hutch’s windshield sending thousands of glass granules into his face and landing in a heap on his lap. Several shards cut him like tiny paper cuts. He consciously said a wee prayer that he’d put on his sunglasses earlier. He shook off the pieces of glass but did not let them deter him from his mission. Another shot rang out. Hutch had to duck. He heard the bullet whiz past his right ear. It made the back windshield explode as it passed through it. His adrenaline surged through his body like he’d never felt before. He almost felt euphoric.
Several blocks up he could see the black and white police cars lining up to end Paige’s rampage through the city. But she saw them too and made a sharp turn into a narrow alley. The car barreled through it like a subway train sending a row of garbage cans flying into the air. They fell like bombs in front of and onto Hutch’s car. Again he ducked thinking he’d get a metal bin right between the eyes. He never let up momentarily.
At the end of the alley was another police car. He parked it so there was no way she could get by this time. Hutch was surprised to see her drive right through the car like a battering ram. Now he really feared for Starsky.
Hitting the black and white slowed Paige down for an instant but she regrouped and headed south toward the interstate – her salvation. If she got onto the highway she’d be gone and so would Starsky. Hutch scraped by the crumpled police car and tore down the street after her. He could see her reflection again. Her expression was frozen – a picture of total concentration. But, Hutch was focused too and he wasn’t about to let her get away – not this time.
Hutch had never driven this fast before. It was starting to unnerve him but he had no choice. The last time he drove in a chase like this he was in a dune buggy in Mexico. That occasion entered his mind as he booked down the street. The only difference was that was fun – this wasn’t.
Paige made another quick turn. West this time. Hutch saw her check for him in her side mirror but when she turned her attention back to the road again her expression turned to utter terror. A delivery truck had suddenly appeared out of nowhere and she was forced to swerve into on coming traffic. There was nothing she could do. The Mach II was side swiped by two cars and sent end over end into a fence where it finally came to an abrupt stop. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. The crash seemed to last for an eternity and all Hutch could do was watch it unfold – the high-pitched screech of the tires, a momentary pause then the frightening sound of metal smashing against metal and glass shattering like fireworks.
“STARSKY!” He yelled out loud.
Hutch jammed his car into park in the middle of the street and jumped out of his car and ran full out to the wreckage. When he got to the Mustang he didn’t know where to look first. It was a tangled mess that hissed from every hose and tire. A crowd gathered.
“CALL AN AMBULANCE!” Hutch shouted to know one in particular.
He got down on his knees and peered up into what was left of the car and saw Starsky dangling from the back of the front seat.
“Starsk? Can you hear me?” Hutch asked tentatively of his bloodied partner. “Starsk?”
“Yeah.” Came a small reply. “Yeah… I’m okay.” Starsky grunted. “But, I’m stuck.”
“Hang in there buddy. Help is on the way.”
“What do you think I’m doing?”
Starsky’s impatient retort made Hutch smile with relief. The driver and her other passengers never made a sound.
“Ooooh… Starsky… baby. Are you okay darlin’?” Minnie oozed as Starsky and Hutch entered the squad room on Monday morning.
“Yes. Minnie I’m fine. Thank you.”
“Are you sure honey? Can I get you anything? Anything at all?”
“Are you patronizing me?” Starsky asked suspiciously – his right eye slightly squinted.
“No sweetie. I was worried about you. Let me get you some coffee. You sit right down at your desk and I’ll be right there.”
“Okay.” Starsky shrugged gleefully at his partner who was disgusted at Minnie’s over-flowing show of sympathy.
Hutch weaved his way through the chairs yet again to get to his desk.
“Can’t you people push in your chairs for Pete’s sake.” He barked as he went.
The barriers were a daily occurrence that he was finally getting tired of.
Starsky sauntered toward his desk as well. His forehead bore a large bandage and his right wrist was wrapped in a tenser. He decided a limp was in order as well to reap as much compassion as he could from any number of policewomen. He took his seat laboriously and let out a pathetic groan.
“There you go doll face.” Minnie said as she placed a mug of coffee in front of Starsky. She gently placed her hand on his shoulder.
“If there is anything else you need, you know where I am.”
“Okay.” Starsky replied as he watched the policewoman leave the squad room. She glanced back at him and winked. “What’s with her?”
“I don’t know. I guess she’s just happy she won the bet.”
“The four hundred dollars.”
“Shit. I forgot about that.”
“Now you really need a bank.” Hutch chuckled.
“Shit.” Starsky said again realizing just how broke he was about to become.
Starsky spent the weekend in the hospital. It was just for observation’s sake. He was absolutely fine. But, that didn’t stop him from milking the situation as much as he could. It took over an hour for the paramedics to get him out of the wreckage. The other three weren’t so lucky. Both Houghton and Nurse were killed. Paige was in a coma and was not expected to make it. Even though Starsky seemed up he was having difficulty dealing with it. Why was he spared? What made him so special?
“Hey Hutch?” Starsky asked his partner quietly over the desk they shared.
“Yeah buddy.” He replied preoccupied with reading his messages.
“Remember last week at Huggy’s when you said you saw your life flash before your eyes?”
“Well, the same thing happened to me on Friday.” He confessed. “And I…”
“You what, Starsk?”
“I just want to say I’m sorry for putting you through that.”
“That’s okay. What are partners for?” Hutch forgave with a charming smirk then returned to his paper work.
Starsky seemed satisfied he’d gotten that off his chest and sighed deeply. He picked up a pencil and began to draft his report of The Comet’s case.
“So?” Hutch blurted expectantly.
“When do you want to go?”
“The bank. You owe a lot of people a lot of money.”