The Passing (by Barbara)

Summary:  Hutch goes home. Starsky follows him only to find out about his partner’s tragic past.
Category:  Starsky & Hutch
Genre:  Crime drama
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  10,370


 

“Lo?”

“Hey. It’s me.”

“What time is it?”

“It’s early.”

“Whatsa matter?” Starsky asked as he propped himself up in bed. His bedroom was pitch black.

The phone call had awoken him from a deep sleep. The sound of his partner’s shallow voice sent immediate alarm through his entire body and he was alert within seconds.

“Do you want me to come over? Do you need me? Are you sick?”

Starsky asked all the questions a 4 a.m. phone call warrants.

“I’m in Duluth.” Hutch said simply.

“What are you doing in Duluth? Everything okay?”

“Hmmm… no, not really.”

“What is it? What happened?”

“My mom passed away yesterday, Starsk.”

Hutch started to cry. He tried to control his grief but couldn’t hold back. The guttural sounds of his partner’s pain made Starsky’s stomach tighten. He wanted to comfort his best friend but didn’t know how. His eyes began to flood with sympathetic tears.

“Aaah, Hutch. I’m so sorry. What, when…?”

“I got a call…” Hutch sniffed “… after you dropped me off on Friday night. I headed right for the airport. I got here yesterday morning.”

“I’m coming out there.” Starsky announced as he threw off the blankets and sat on the edge of the bed.

“You don’t have to…” Hutch began knowing full well that Starsky would be on the next plane to Minnesota. The truth was, that is exactly what Hutch wanted.

Starsky rose from his bed.

“I’m on my way.”

*****

Hutch leaned against his mother’s car as he waited for Starsky to emerge from airport arrivals. It was a crisp fall day and Hutch could see his breath. He smoked a cigarette, something he had given up years before. But, with the stress of the death of a parent, he needed one. When he saw his partner he walked slowly toward him and when they met they embraced warmly. No words needed to be exchanged. Hutch flung his arm around Starsky’s shoulder and guided him to the car. They got in and Hutch pulled away from the curb.

“You okay?” Starsky asked gently.

“Not really.”

“What happened? I didn’t know your mother was sick?”

“She wasn’t sick.”

“Then what?”

“They think it was a heart attack.”

“They think?”

“She was found by a neighbor. She hadn’t seen or heard from my mom in several days so she went to check on her. They’re doing an autopsy right now.”

“I’m so sorry, Hutch.”

“I know. Thanks for coming, Starsk.”

They rode in silence for several miles. Starsky scanned the landscape of Duluth – Hutch’s hometown. He had never been there before. He’d never even been to Minnesota. It was colder than he was used to. Late October winds off Lake Superior assured that. A dusting of snow gave the place a holiday feel. It was a refreshing change from the heat and smog of Bay City. He looked over at his partner who seemed distant and distracted. Hutch focused on the road ahead seemingly dazed.

“Where we headed?”

“Hotel.”

“I hope you got me my own room.” Starsky chuckled trying to lighten the mood.

“Sure did. I hate sharing a room with you. You snore.”

“Since when? You never complained before.”

“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” Hutch looked over at his friend and grinned warmly.

“Ya know, Hutch.” Starsky began carefully. “I was thinking on the plane that I hardly know anything about your family. We’ve been best friends for a long time. You never talk about them. Why is that?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Hey, all families are complicated. It’s a rule.”

“Let’s get you settled in your room. I have to finish up some arrangements. Then we’ll grab some dinner later.”

“Do you want me to come with you?”

“Nah. I can do it. It won’t take long.” Hutch said. “You get some rest and I’ll call you when I’m done.”

Hutch pulled into the driveway of the hotel and dropped Starsky off in front of the lobby entrance. He peered back into the car through the passenger window.

“I’ll see you in a couple hours.” Hutch said. “Your room is booked under my name.”

*****

Starsky sat at the hotel bar. The small restaurant was occupied by a smattering of patrons. He did manage to get a few winks. He was tired from his frenzied scrabble to get half way across the country. Yet again, he had been awoken by a call from Hutch telling him he was on his way back to the hotel.

Starsky stared into his beer glass lost in thoughts of his own family back east. He chastised himself for not making a better effort to stay in touch with them. He vowed to call his mother and brother that evening. Starsky was so entranced he did not see Hutch approach and was startled when his partner sat on the stool right next to him.

“Hey.” Hutch greeted.

“Hey yourself.” Starsky replied after recovering from the jolt. “How did it go?”

“As well as can be expected, I guess.” Hutch muttered. “It’s a really strange experience picking out caskets. Oak, mahogany, dark finish… white? What kind of box would my mother like to spend eternity in? Would she care? It’s weird.”

“I never thought of it like that.”

“Let’s get a table.” Hutch suggested. “I’m starved.”

*****

Starsky and Hutch sat in a booth across from one another. Hutch ordered Swedish meatballs and mash potatoes. A few peas and carrots dotted the dish. He took a few bites but then just pushed the remaining morsels around his plate with his fork. His appetite was as suppressed as his saddened mood. Starsky went for ribs. He was on his third one when he finally broke the silence that hovered over the two men like an ominous cloud.

“I thought you said you were hungry?” He said as he licked his fingers one-by-one.

“I thought I was.”

“Understandable.” Starsky shrugged.

Hutch did not respond and kept his head down. He felt awful.

“When was the last time you saw your mom?”

“A loooong time.”

“How long?”

“What is this? Twenty questions?” Hutch said slightly annoyed. “It’s been years, okay?”

“Okay. Just asking.” Starsky said. He pulled the napkin that was tucked beneath his chin and tossed it to the side. He rested his elbows on the table and stared directly at the top of Hutch’s flaxen head.

“So. Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

Hutch looked up at his partner bewildered.

“Starsky.” He said quietly. “I am burying my mother. What do you mean… ‘what’s wrong’? Isn’t that wrong enough?”

“I mean there is more to this than the death of your mother.”

“This?” Hutch questioned as he lit a cigarette.

“What is it Hutch? I know you’re upset. Of course you are. But, there’s something else, isn’t there. Now why don’t you just come out with it. You know you are going to tell me in the end so stop stalling. What’s going on in that blonde head of yours?”

Hutch scowled across the table at his friend somewhat annoyed that his partner was so in tune with him. He blew out a puff. Hutch’s eyes were red and swollen. The grief he exuded was so heavy, Starsky could feel the weight. Hutch sniffed and had to look away.

“Come on Hutch. Let’s hear it.” Starsky probed.

“I’m suspicious, okay.” He finally disclosed.

“Suspicious? Of whom?”

Hutch took a deep drag of his smoke. His discomfort was almost tactile. He squirmed slightly in his seat. The story of his life was about to spill out of his body like infection from a boil.

“My stepfather.”

“I didn’t know you had a stepfather.”

“There’s lots you don’t know.”

“Really.” Starsky said with slight surprise. Apparently, there were well kept secrets in this relationship. Starsky was almost offended. “Go on. I’m all ears.”

“When I was 3, my dad died. I don’t even remember him. But, my mom made sure I kept his name. She always told me how much she loved my father. I never had that luxury. So, after he passed away, it was just me and my mom until I was 7. Then she remarried. He had 2 daughters, Jane and Donna. They were quite a bit older than me, so we were never very close. They only lived with us on weekends and not for long because they went away to school when I was… oh, 12 or 13. So, my mom and I were left to deal with him. He’s the main reason I became a cop.” Hutch divulged.

“How could you have kept this from me all these years?” Starsky implored. He was hurt.

“I didn’t keep it from you Starsk, I just don’t like talking about it. I had a miserable childhood. I left Duluth as soon as I could.”

“How old were you?”

“I left on my 16th birthday.”

Starsky didn’t know what to say. He had no clue Hutch’s formative years were so trying.

“I left my mom alone with that asshole. I just left her and never looked back. I abandoned her, Starsk.” Hutch said woefully.

“Does the asshole have a name?”

“Frank. The asshole’s name is Frank Lange.”

“So, he was abusive?”

“That’s an understatement.”

Again, Starsky was taken aback by Hutch’s revelations. It made him angry that anyone had purposefully hurt him. His protective mode kicked in. He could feel his ears getting hot.

“He used to beat the crap out of my mom and me. I tried to protect her but I was too young. My fighting back just exacerbated the situation so I thought if I just left it would calm things down. And, it did for a while. But, then I just ended up losing touch with my mom when I should have been more diligent. I could have been more supportive. But, I was so focused on getting away and starting a new life, I just totally checked out. Then I met Van and got married. I wasn’t the best husband I must admit. Life then was so far away from Duluth… I don’t know.” Hutch sighed, seemingly lost for reasons why. “My mom tried to reach out, but I pushed her away. I was angry. I think I was mad at her for not protecting me from Frank. That rage, certainly didn’t help my marriage any.”

“You have no idea how sorry I am to hear that, Hutch. I wish you had confided in me years ago about this. Why didn’t you for Christ’s sake. You tell me everything!”

“There were times I wanted to but I guess I was embarrassed. I mean you have such a great relationship with your mom and Nick.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault. In fact, you became the family I never had. My brother, my mother, my father all rolled into one.”

Starsky couldn’t help but smile broadly. His throat crapped with emotion.

“Okay, so you’re suspicious. Got a theory?” Starsky queried.

“I think Frank may have killed her.”

“Well, you’re a homicide detective.” Starsky deduced. “It’s natural for you to be suspicious of any death. Maybe you’re just over reacting.”

“My instincts have never let me down before, Starsk. And, this whole thing just plain stinks.”

*****

Starsky felt like he’d been slapped in the face by Hutch’s revelations. Even though he was a seasoned police officer, he found his friend’s accusation disturbing.

“I’ll go down the to the coroner and find out what’s going on.” Starsky said firmly.

“I’ll come with you.”

“Like hell you will.”

“But…”

“But, nothing. You stay here and I’ll see if there is anything to be suspicious about.”

“I want to go. I have to.”

“Hutch?” Starsky stated firmly. “Do you trust me?”

He reached across the table and placed his hand on Hutch’s forearm to settle him.

“Of course I do.” Hutch replied firmly. “That’s a stupid question.”

“Then go up to your room. Take a shower and stay there.”

Starsky slide out of the booth leaving most of his dinner behind. Hutch remained seated, staring at his cold meatballs.

“Eat your vegetables.” Starsky ordered as he threw on his jacket. He smirked at his partner for reassurance. Hutch smiled briefly at his friend’s attempt at breaking the ice.

“Can I borrow the car?”

Hutch tossed the keys to Starsky and watched him leave the restaurant.

*****

The coroner pulled the body drawer open with care. Starsky had flashed his badge to gain entry to the morgue’s cold storage. He felt sick as he was about to meet Hutch’s mother for the first time. He didn’t expect it would be post mortem. Even though he had seen hundreds of dead bodies, this one was personal. He feared what he might see and the consequences it could bring. He braced himself as the doctor pulled back the sheet that respectfully covered the body.

She was beautiful. Beverly Lange. Hutch’s mother. He looked just like her. Starsky was taken aback by the resemblance. Her hair was platinum and he knew that behind her gently closed eyes were the pale baby blues her son inherited. Her kind expression reminded him so much of Hutch, it was unnerving. He wasn’t prepared for that. But, the autopsy “Y” incision immediately erased the sentiment that Starsky was feeling and he fell back into his role as a police detective in an instant.

“Anything suspicious?” He asked the coroner.

“Looks like a heart attack.” He replied routinely.

“Nothing out of the ordinary then?”

“We are still awaiting results of the toxicology. But, I’m not expecting anything abnormal.”

“Was there evidence of heart disease?” Starsky asked still reviewing the body.

“Actually, no.”

“Well, isn’t that suspicious? A heart attack without any heart disease?” He asked now facing the doctor squarely.

“Not really. One can suffer a heart attack due to factors other than heart disease.”

“Oh? Like what, for instance?”

“Shock, trauma, poison. Hell, a bee sting can cause cardiac arrest.”

“Poison? Do you think she may have been poisoned?”

“No. You asked me what else could cause the heart to stop and that is just one of many diagnoses.” The doctor sounded a bit nervous.

“When will the tox be back?”

“Friday at the latest.”

“Here’s my card. I’m staying at the Radisson Harborview. Room 512. Can you call me as soon as you get the results? Call me.” Starsky said forcefully. “Not Ken Hutchison, just me, okay?”

“But isn’t he her son?”

“Yes, but if there is anything questionable on that autopsy report, I want to be the first to know about it.”

“But, it’s my duty to report results to the family.”

“I have my reasons. This is an official police investigation now. Please just do as I ask.”

“Okay then. Will do, Sarge. But, you’ll have to fill out a few forms.” The doctor answered instructed. “Let me get them for you.”

He closed the body drawer and snapped the lever to lock it. Starsky dutifully filled out the forms necessary and signed on the dotted line. He shook the coroner’s hand and left the morgue trying to quell his now peaked skepticism that Beverly’s death was of normal circumstance.

*****

Starsky rapped on the door of hotel room 618. It took several moments for Hutch to answer. He was shirtless wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. His hair was tossed and resembled cotton candy. It was he that was rudely awaken this time. Hutch stepped aside to let Starsky into the darkened room. Hutch flipped on the light. It was 11:45 p.m.

“Well?” Hutch asked as he roughly rubbed both eyes with the heels of his hands. “What did you find out?”

“Coroner is pretty positive it was a heart attack. Waiting for toxicology results just to be sure.”

“Toxicology? Did he find something that would warrant a tox screen?”

“No. Just routine.”

Somewhat satisfied, Hutch plopped back into bed. He fluffed up the pillow so he could sit up more comfortably. He rested the back of his hand on his forehead and stared at the ceiling. Starsky placed his derrière on the edge of the desk.

“Did you see her?” Hutch said with a gravelly voice.

“Yes. I saw her.”

“And?”

“You look just like her. She was beautiful.”

“Yeah, she was.”

“She looked peaceful, Hutch. I didn’t see anything that looked out of place.”

“We’ll see.”

Starsky moved over to the chair and swiveled it around to face Hutch. He leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs.

“Coroner says you can set a date for the funeral and finish your arrangements. He said he’d release the body tomorrow.”

“Before the toxicology comes back?” Hutch said with slight alarm. He propped himself up onto his elbows. “What if something shows up? What if they need to investigate further?”

“Well. I don’t know. He doesn’t foresee any surprises. He just said they had contacted the funeral home.”

A pause dangled. Hutch laid back down and exhaled loudly.

“I haven’t seen Frank yet.” He said with dread. “Not sure how I’m going to deal with that.”

“I don’t think you can avoid it.”

“It’s been over twenty years and I hate him just as much now as I did then.”

Starsky lowered his head. He felt awkward and didn’t really know how to respond.

“She divorced him about 10 years ago, but he didn’t go far.” Hutch continued.

“What do you mean?” Starsky asked.

“He bought a place just down the road from her when they split. They were still in each other’s lives. I never understood why. Their relationship was so toxic. But, it seems they just couldn’t live without each other. Their dependence on one another was sick.”

“Well, the tox will be back by Thursday at the latest. The last thing you need to think about is Frank. Just stay cool and we’ll get through this.”

“Thanks Starsk.”

“For what? I didn’t do anything.”

“You’re here. That means a lot.”

“You’d do the same for me.”

“I would you know.” Hutch remarked sincerely. He struggled to keep his eyes open – his voice fading.

“Of course you would.” Starsky grinned. “I’m your brother, mother, father combo rememba?”

Hutch smiled faintly. His eyes were now fully shut for the night. He was out for the count. Starsky took the hint.

“Well, I’m bushed. I’ll see you in the morning. You okay?” Starsky asked as he made his way out of Hutch’s room.

But, there was no reply. He turned out the lights and shut the door as gingerly as he could. He stood outside in the hallway momentarily. He had to absorb the day’s events. Deep in thought he proceeded to the elevator and down to his room.

*****

Hutch’s stepsisters hugged him warmly. He had no qualms with them. He quite liked them. They were lovely women. They did their best as children to shield Hutch from their own father and made their escape much like he did at a young age.

The funeral home visitation was busier than Hutch expected. His mother had a close circle of friends and was active in her church and local SPCA. Many of her associates and colleagues milled about the open casket and made quiet small talk as one does at these things.

“This is my partner David Starsky.” Hutch introduced. “These are my sister’s Jane and Donna.”

“Very nice to meet you both.” Starsky said as he shook their hands.

“We’ve been partners now for what… 7, 8 years now, Starsk?”

“Seems like longer.” He joked.

“Ken has told us all about you David.” Jane said.

“Good things I hope.”

“Some.” She replied with a wicked smirk. She was very attracted to him.

“Well, I hate to ask but…” Hutch interrupted. “Where’s your dad?”

“He’s not here?” Donna answered as she scanned the room.

“I haven’t seen him.”

“He should be here.”

“I thought he would be. He should be. No problem.” Hutch dismissed. He was glad and miffed all in one mixed emotion.

“Liar.” Donna muttered. “I know you’re dreading it. Seeing him again.”

“Can’t fool you.”

“He’s changed you know.”

“Changed?” Hutch questioned skeptically. He placed both hands in his pockets. He wore a spotless navy suit with understated tie. He looked incredibly handsome. “How so?”

“He’s not, well you know…”

“No, I don’t know. Tell me. He’s not what?”

“Well, he’s much more… tolerant.” Donna said as if searching for the right description.

“Tolerant? Hmmm, that’s a good word. Tolerant.” Hutch repeated sarcastically. He could feel himself start to percolate.

“Hutch.” Starsky said quietly as he placed his hand on his partner’s shoulder. “Take it easy.”

“I’m okay, Starsk. I think I’ll go and chat with some of the guests. I’ll catch up with you girls later.”

“I’ll come with you.” Donna offered.

She locked arms with her stepbrother and they walked away and were soon engulfed by the throng. Starsky stayed put and so did Jane.

“He’s upset.” Starsky apologized. “He feels guilty about his mom.”

“Guilty? Why would he feel guilty?” Jane probed.

“Well, you know. He’s been away a long time and he thinks he could have done a better job keeping in touch. He told me about Frank.”

“Oh? What did he say?” Jane inquired curiously.

“Well, he said he had a bit of a difficult time when he and Bev got married.”

“A difficult time? That’s what he said? A difficult time?”

“Well, not in so many words.” Starsky stumbled.

“Let me tell you something, David.” Jane said as she took a step closer. “My father was a monster. And, no matter what Donna says, he hasn’t changed a bit. Whatever Ken told you, it was one hundred times worse for both he and Bev. I’m surprised this didn’t happen years ago.”

“What do you mean?” Starsky asked with a scowl. “You’re surprised what didn’t happen years ago?”

“I’m surprised it took so long for him to kill her.”

*****

Starsky looked around the room to make sure no one had overheard Jane’s accusation. Especially Hutch. He took her by her elbow and gently steered her into a quiet room away from the gathering of family and friends. He closed the door behind them and gestured to Jane to take a seat in one of the two club chairs that faced each other. Between the chairs was a small side table that held a lonely box of tissues.

Jane spoke first. It was like she was busting to tell someone.

“My sister is in total denial about our father, you know. She always has been. He could assassinate the President of the United States and she’d find a way to spin it in Frank’s favor.”

Starsky stared intensely into Jane’s eyes. They were jade green – her lovely face framed by blazing red hair.

“Tell me what know, Jane?” Starsky asked directly.

“I don’t know anything.” She said in a loud whisper. “I just know what my father is capable of.”

“And what exactly is that? What are you trying to tell me?”

“I’m just suspicious that’s all. Wouldn’t you be?”

“Well, Hutch certainly is.”

“Well, Ken has every reason to be. And, why isn’t my father here? If he didn’t have anything to hide, then where is he? He and Bev may have been divorced but they were still together in some respects. Their dependence on one another was like a sickness.”

“Hutch said the same thing.”

“Look David. My father put Ken and Bev through hell. He wasn’t exactly father of the year to Donna and me either. When I heard that Bev had died, the first thing that came into my mind was that he finally did it. He finally killed her.”

“But the coroner says that she died of a simple heart attack.”

“Heart attack? That’s a laugh. She was in better shape than me. Heart attack my ass.”

“Listen. I don’t want you to say anything to Hutch.” Starsky said implicitly. “Let me talk to him first. I don’t want him to do anything stupid.”

“You guys are pretty tight, aren’t you?” Jane said.

“Tight? I’m his brother-mother-father.” Starsky said proudly.

“Well, I’m glad Ken has finally found the family he deserves.”

“So am I, Jane. So am I.”

*****

“Do you want to grab a beer?” Hutch suggested as he and Starsky entered the lobby of the hotel after the visitation.

“Sounds good.”

The partners took a left turn down the corridor that lead to the intimate bar. They sat in the same booth where they ate dinner the evening before. Hutch just held up two fingers to the roaming waitress and she appeared at their table several moments later with a pair of frosty beers.

“Well. That was surreal.” Hutch commented.

“What? The fact that that waitress just read your mind?”

“No. The funeral home.” Hutch said as he took a sip and wiped foam from his mustache. “All those people. All those friends that my mom had. I never met any of them. They all seemed to love her though. That makes me feel a little bit better knowing she wasn’t alone.”

“Yeah.” Was all Starsky could muster. He took a sip of his beer to stall.

“I thought it was odd that Frank wasn’t there. Everyone was asking about him. Where was he? The fact that he didn’t show makes me wonder what the hell happened. It makes me think there is more to mom’s death than just a heart attack.”

“Listen… Hutch.”

“Yeah? What is it, Starsk?”

“About Frank…”

“Yes.”

“I was talking to Jane and…”

“Yeah… and?” Hutch probed with caution.

“She has the same suspicion you do. She said that when she heard that Bev had died the first thing that came into her mind was that Frank had finally killed her.”

“She said what?”

“Now Hutch.” Starsky with restraint. “Let’s not jump to any more conclusions. Don’t let all this suspicion cloud your judgement. Let’s just wait for the tox screen to come back. We’ll get through the funeral tomorrow and go from there. Please Hutch. Listen to what I’m saying. Keep your cool until we find out if there is anything on that report. Because there might not be. You and Jane are too close to this. Your mom was probably just the victim of sudden heart attack and nothing more.”

The fury Hutch felt was almost painful. He wanted to leap from his seat and start a man hunt for Frank right then and there. But, he knew Starsky was right. He willfully tried to control his rage and deliberately breathed in a huge lung full of air to try and calm himself.

“Okay. Okay.” Hutch resigned. “But, I’m going over to Mom’s house right now and have a look around. If anything… anything is out of place, I swear I’ll kill that bastard myself.”

*****

The tiny bungalow in the suburbs of Duluth was well kept with a white picket fence and all. It was bathed in moonlight giving it an ominous facade. It wasn’t the house Hutch remembered. It wasn’t the house where he experienced so much trauma. As a matter of fact, he had never been here and it made him feel ashamed. His mother had moved after the divorce to this little gem and made it her own.

Hutch had gotten a key from the neighbor. They were happy to help even though they had been awakened by the detectives. Hutch could charm his way in or out of just about any situation. His mother’s inherited smile guaranteed that for the rest of his life.

He and Starsky walked up the path of patio stone, up the steps and onto the porch. It was well lit considering it was approaching midnight. Hutch slipped the key in the lock and opened the door. They were met by the sweet scent of a combination of rose perfume and baking. It was not what Starsky expected of what could possibly be a crime scene. Most of the houses they entered back home smelled rancid.

Hutch turned on the lights and was immediately struck by how neat and tidy everything was. No signs of struggle or strife here. The partners proceeded through the place without a word spoken. They had fallen into their familiar roles as professional investigators. It felt so natural even though this was personal.

The two separated. Starsky explored the living room and kitchen and Hutch ventured down the hall toward the bathroom and bedrooms. All seemed copesetic to Starsky who opened every cabinet and searched under every piece of furniture. He took great care in scouring his assigned sector and when he felt satisfied there was nothing to report he meandered to the back of the house to meet up with Hutch.

He walked down the corridor looking at the pictures that hung on the walls along the way. There were many of a blonde-haired little boy. Starsky smiled but was distracted as he reached Bev’s bedroom. Hutch was sitting on the edge of her bed crying. He held a gold watch. Starsky sat beside his friend and placed his hand on Hutch’s back for comfort. He allowed Hutch time to recover.

“This was my grandfathers.” Hutch sniffed. “I was named after him. My mom said she wanted me to have it when she… well, I guess it’s mine now.”

“Let me see.” Starsky said as he took it from Hutch’s hand. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I love watches.”

Hutch couldn’t help but chuckle as he had so often chastised his partner for his strange obsession with watches.

“Nice one.” Starsky nodded. “Not exactly a Rolex but nice nonetheless.”

“I think it was given to him when he retired.”

“Oh? What did your grandfather do?”

“I have no idea.”

Starsky passed the watch back to Hutch and he slid it onto his wrist. He glanced down at it and was surprised to see that it still worked – 12:43a.m.

“There’s nothing here, Hutch.” Starsky surmised. He gently slapped his partner’s back. “Come on. Let’s go.”

*****

The funeral was a solemn affair. The church service was well attended and Hutch gave a short but touching eulogy. Afterwards, everyone gathered in the hall where the lady parishioners had prepared triangle sandwiches of salmon and egg salad, crudités and an assortment of dessert squares. Coffee and tea flowed freely.

Starsky stood alone in a back corner. He wasn’t much for small talk and had to allow Hutch the freedom to mingle. Everyone wanted to meet Bev’s son. Starsky held a paper plate that was mounded with goodies and he steadily ate each piece one right after the other. He was conscious of ladies looking at him but he wasn’t sure why they gawked. It made him feel extremely self-conscious. The fact was, they all thought he was cute as button, but they didn’t think it was the appropriate time or place to swoop. Starsky politely smiled back at them as he popped the last sandwich in his mouth. He waited a few minutes before sauntering back to the buffet table to reload. He piled his plate yet again to overflowing then returned to his safe place when Hutch approached.

“Got enough to eat there, Starsk?” Hutch mocked.

“Well… the sandwiches are small.” Starsky defended. “How do they make these anyway? I’ve never seen sandwiches this small.”

Hutch rolled his eyes. “Did you notice that Frank isn’t here?”

“How could I notice that. I don’t know what he looks like.”

“Oh… well, he’s not here.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“It doesn’t add up, Starsk. Where the hell is he?”

“Well, I’m sure there’s a logical explanation.”

“Yeah. Like he killed my mother.” Hutch whispered.

Starsky looked around the room wide-eyed to make sure no one heard their conversation.

“The minute this thing is over, I’m going to scour this town until I find him and get an explanation.”

“Did you talk to Jane?”

“Of course I talked to Jane.”

“I mean did you talk to her about where Frank might be?”

“Oh. No.”

“Well, why don’t you see if she or Donna have heard from him. Maybe he’s just sick or something.” Starsky suggested innocently.

“He’s sick all right.”

Hutch left Starsky’s side and grabbed a cup of coffee. He forced himself back into the gathering. He too had been surrounded by a gaggle of ladies. Both he and his partner attracted the opposite sex without much trying. Starsky spotted Jane and waved for her to join him.

“Where is your father?” Starsky asked covertly. “If he doesn’t show up, Hutch is going to go on a rampage to find him. And, I really don’t want that to happen.”

“I don’t know, David. I haven’t heard from him since this whole thing began. I am really starting to think he had something to do with this.”

“When was the last time you talked to him?”

“It was summer… maybe late August.”

“Did he say anything?”

“Well, of course.”

“I mean, anything that sounded out of place or odd.”

“Not anything more than usual.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means he’s a nasty piece of work, David. He never had a nice thing to say about anyone or anything.”

“Then why did Bev marry him?”

“Single mother. Small town. You do the math.”

“What about Donna?”

“What about her?”

“Has she seen or spoken to Frank?”

“Nope. But, she’s clueless and naive. She’s dumber than a box of hammers. I told you before. She defends my father no matter what. I love her but she’s a dolt.”

Starsky and Jane stood silent for a moment. They scanned the room one last time in the hopes that Frank would miraculously walk through the door.

“Have you been by his house?” Starsky asked.

“Not yet. I was planning to after this.”

“Do you have a key?”

“Yes.” Jane pull a keyring from her purse and extracted a single one from it. “Here you go.”

“What’s the address?” Starsky said as he slipped it in his pocket.

“North 2nd Avenue East. Number 56. It’s just a few blocks from here.”

“Hold this and keep Hutch busy.”

“How am I going to do that?”

“Find a way, Jane. Help me out here. And, don’t tell him where I’m going.”

Starsky made his exit covertly leaving Jane holding a plate full of food.

*****

When the cab dropped Starsky off in front of Frank’s house, he immediately knew something was wrong. Like Hutch, his gut never lied. The house was small and stark. Starsky scanned the neighborhood then made his way up to the front door and knocked. There was no answer so he tried one more time. Nothing. He went to open the door and to his surprise it was unlocked. He cracked it open – his heart raced with anticipation as he was unarmed.

The stench hit Starsky in the face like a wasp sting. It was the unmistakable smell of death. He opened the door fully and there, squarely in the middle of the living room floor, was a body. He assumed it was Frank. Who else could it be? Unfortunately, there was only one way to find out. He would have to call Hutch to identify it. It was a scenario Starsky did not relish.

Starsky cautiously investigated the scene as he had done so many times before. He diligently scoured the house being extremely careful not to disturb anything. He gingerly picked up the phone receiver first to call the local police then the funeral home to try and connect with Hutch. Luckily, he was still there and it took a while for him to finally answer.

“Lo?” He said skeptically.

“Hutch? It’s me.”

“Where are you?

“I’m at Frank’s house.”

“WHAT? How did you get over there?”

“Never mind that.” Starsky began tentatively. “I know why nobody has seen Frank.”

“And that would be?”

“He’s dead.”

*****

Hutch’s car came to a screeching halt right in front of Frank’s house. He did not tell his sisters about Starsky’s discovery. He made his exit from the funeral gathering quietly and raced to the scene. He swung open the car door where Starsky awaited. Police cars were scattered about the neighborhood – lights flashing. Several on lookers peered from beyond the yellow caution tape.

“Where is he?” Hutch panted.

“He’s in the living room.” Starsky replied.

Hutch barely let Starsky finish before he was up the path and onto the porch. He entered the house with trepidation. His partner followed. Several policemen roamed the place casually. They didn’t seem alarmed by the death and assumed it was of natural causes. Their being there was simply routine.

Hutch took a deep breath and centered himself over the body that was now covered in a clean, white sheet. He crouched down and took a moment to collect himself. He pulled back the sheet then stood up slowly. The room fell silent as all eyes focused on the blond cop. He sighed as everyone awaited his verdict.

“This isn’t Frank Lange.” Hutch stated positively.

“What?” Starsky said with shock.

“It’s not him.”

“Then who is it?”

“Got me.”

“But…”

“Starsky. I have no clue who this man is. I’ve never seen him before. It’s not Frank. But, all this is going to have to wait. right now, you’ll have to excuse me.”

“Where are you going, Hutch?”

“To bury my mother.”

*****

It rained. It rained hard. The gathering of mourners huddled under a canopy of umbrellas to pay their final respects to Beverly Lange. Hutch was flanked by his two stepsisters. Bev was not their mother but they loved and respected her nonetheless. Starsky stood dutifully right behind his partner in subliminal support.

When the short burial service was over the crowd scrambled to the awaiting line up of cars for shelter. But, Hutch stayed by the grave. He was soaked to the skin but didn’t seem to notice. Starsky stayed with him giving his friend as much time as he needed to say goodbye. The cars had left the cemetery when Hutch finally broke his solemn silence.

“I’ve been a bad son, Starsk.” Hutch professed.

“That’s not true.”

“It is true! How could I have just left her like that. How could I have been so selfish. She tried so hard. She didn’t deserve this… she was just so…” Hutch lowered into a crouch and broke down. He held his face in his hands, rain cascading down them and puddling in front of him.

Starsky too hunker down and wrapped his arm around his partner’s shoulder.

“Listen to me okay?” He said steadily. Water sprayed from his mouth as he spoke. “You were the best son you knew how to be. She raised a wonderful person. Whether you were in her life or not, she loved you and you loved her. She understood why you left, Hutch.”

“But, I never got the chance to ask her to forgive me.”

“I don’t think she wanted or needed your forgiveness. I just think she wanted you to be happy. That was her reward. You building a life of your own.”

Hutch paused for a moment still gazing into the grave. He sniffed loudly trying desperately to regain his composure. He wiped his nose with his soggy sleeve.

“And, I know you’re happy, Hutch.” Starsky poked, trying to bring his friend around.

“Oh yeah?” Hutch replied hopefully. He looked over at his best friend quizzically. “How do you know that?”

“Because sometimes you get to drive my car.”

*****

“Feeling better?”

“I little.” Hutch divulged.

Starsky and Hutch sat in their favorite booth at the hotel restaurant. It was becoming their headquarters. After drying off in their rooms after the cemetery, they changed into their comfortable street clothes and joined one another for dinner. Once again Starsky ordered a rack of ribs and Hutch ordered the Swedish meatballs. Only this time, they both ate heartily.

“Those little sandwiches didn’t take me very far today.” Starsky said as he chewed on a bone. “These are pretty good though.”

“I must confess. I’m hungry too.”

“You haven’t eaten very much in the last few days. Glad to see you’ve got your appetite back.”

Hutch grinned shallowly.

“I want to thank you, Starsk.” He said shyly.

“Me? For what?”

“I really needed you today. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there.”

“Well, you need someone to help you figure this thing out.” Starsky replied. “Huggy wouldn’t have been any use.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah… I know. I know.”

The men continued to eat their meals and when Starsky finished his last morsel of pork, he pulled the napkin from under his chin, leaned back and rubbed his stomach with satisfaction. He let out a nasally sigh.

“So? What did Jane say? Did she know who the man was?”

“Yup. Guy’s name is Gary Stemple. He was Frank’s best friend. She said they worked at the steel mill together. Oh, about 10 years now. She said he has no next of kin. Sort of a loner. No wife. No kids.”

“Did she have any idea why he might be lying dead in her father’s house?”

“Nope.” Hutch answered as he too finished his dinner. He pushed his plate to the side. “She has no idea.”

“Do you think the two deaths are linked somehow?”

“I do. Don’t you?”

“Well, it could be just a coincidence.”

“Maybe.” Hutch sounded dubious. “But, there’s my gut again telling me that something is definitely awry.”

Starsky didn’t take the conversation any further. He didn’t want Hutch to revisit his mother’s tox screen results. He would get up early the next morning and visit the coroner’s office himself. He wanted to shield Hutch from any more pain. Starsky just hoped that the report would not show anything out of order. But, under the circumstances, that now seemed improbable.

*****

When Starsky got into his hotel room after dinner with Hutch, he was exhausted. All he wanted to do was hit the hay. But, that was not to be. Just as he was about to slip into bed the phone rang. It was the coroner telling him the toxicology report had come in and that he needed to come down to the morgue office immediately.

Starsky redressed, ran down to the lobby and hailed a cab. His fatigue had evaporated into a surge of adrenaline. He arrived at the coroner’s just before midnight.

“Here you go Detective Starsky.” The coroner said as he handed over the report. “Read it and weep.”

“You found something?” He replied before even opening it.

“Yes. I’m afraid we did.”

“What is it?”

“Heroin”

“What??”

“Ms. Lange had heroin in her blood.”

“Nooo.” Starsky remarked with shock. He did not expect that. “Was she an addict?”

“Well. That’s the thing. A heroin overdose is pretty easy to detect during a routine autopsy. I mean there are usually track marks on the body somewhere. Even if they are convert. I check between the toes and a few other hiding places. Plus, there would be obvious signs of weight loss, tooth decay and damaged complexion. She had none of those.”

“Then how could she have died of heroin?”

“I think she ingested it.”

“Would she have done that intentionally?”

“Only if the other signs were present.” The doctor explained. “I’m afraid I now have to evaluate this death as suspicious and inform the authorities.”

“I know I am out of my jurisdiction, but this will be my case.” Starsky interjected. “I am the authority.”

“Not to me you’re not.” The doctor protested.

“I’ll do all the paperwork necessary.”

“But, investigating the death of your best friend’s mother is a conflict of interest. They will never allow it.”

“I’m very convincing.” Starsky assured.

The coroner shrugged and went over to his desk. He was too tired to argue. He rummaged around it for a moment before finally retrieving several forms.

“Here you go. Fill these out. And, good luck.”

“Thanks. Have you started the autopsy on Greg Stemple yet?”

“He’s first on the docket tomorrow morning. Right now, I’m going home to bed.”

“Can you do a blood test and let me know if you find anything?”

“Once your paperwork is approved, I’ll do anything you ask.”

“And, make sure you send any results to me.” Starsky reiterated.

“Whatever you say, Sarge.”

*****

By the time Starsky got approval from the Duluth police department with an endorsement from Captain Dobey, it was 3:30am. He was truly running on empty. It had been an emotional and trying day. He slogged up to his hotel room and fell into bed without even taking off his clothes. He was asleep within moments. But, his slumber was shortened when his phone rang yet again.

“Lo?” He moaned.

“It’s me.”

“What time is it?” He groaned again.

“Six.”

“Six what?’

“Six in the morning, Gordo.” Hutch announced. “Now come on down for breakfast. The tox report should be back and I want to get over to the coroner and find out what the hell is going on.”

Starsky flipped himself onto his back like a trout that had just been dragged onto shore.

“Hutch.” He said. “I already got the results of the report.”

“You did? How? When?”

“The coroner called when I got back in my room after dinner last night.”

“Why did he call you?” Hutch asked with slight ire.

“Never mind that. We gotta talk.”

“You get your butt down here right now!” Hutch replied angrily.

“I got about 2 hours sleep last night. I’ll be down after I shower and shave.”

“Right… NOW!” Came Hutch’s urgent response.

Starsky hung up the phone and swung his legs out of bed. He still had his shoes on. He sat there trying desperately to come out the fog. He knew he was in trouble. But, he didn’t care. He was glad he went behind Hutch’s back and got the results before his partner did. He would have flown off the handle and who knows what he would have done. Starsky would take his lumps… gladly. He knew Hutch’s wrath would be heated but fleeting.

Starsky struggled to his feet and went into the bathroom and did his business. He splashed his face with water, toweled off and left his room to face Hutch in the hotel restaurant. He was dreading it. It was best that they met in a neutral place, though. It may keep Hutch’s reaction somewhat subdued.

*****

Hutch sat in their usual booth – headquarters. He was hunched over a cup and coffee staring into space when Starsky entered the restaurant. He reluctantly shuffled to the table and slid in across from his partner. Hutch did not greet him. The waitress sauntered by and filled Starsky’s cup with joe then left unceremoniously.

“Good morning.” Starsky finally said sheepishly.

Again, Hutch ignored him.

“Well you wanted me down here. Don’t you want to know about the report?” Starsky asked as he took a few gulps of coffee.

Hutch smoked yet another cigarette to control his indignation. He looked up at his partner and squinted. The blue of his eyes were electric.

“You went behind my back.” Hutch seethed.

“Yes I did. But, I did it for you.”

“With friends like you, who needs enemies.”

“Oh, will you knock it off. I’m not in the mood. You would have done exactly the same thing if it were me. You can be pissed if you want to but we’ve got work to do. Now, do you want to know the results of the tox or not!?”

Hutch had to look away. He knew Starsky was right. He took a few moments to settle himself and took another sip of coffee and snuffed out his cigarette. His complexion changed from scowl to resignation. He made humble eye contact Starsky.

“I’m sorry.” He said quietly. “I’m just…”

“I know you’re ‘just’.” Starsky said frankly. “If you can’t be ‘just’ with me who can you be ‘just’ with?”

Hutch sniffed a chuckle. He grabbed for yet another smoke but Starsky stopped him.

“I forgive you.” Starsky answered squarely. That was more fleeting that he expected. “Now let’s find out what happened to your mom.”

“So, there was something there… in the report?” Hutch asked with trepidation.

“Yes. I’m afraid there was.”

“And…”

“Before I tell you. I want you to look at it as a cop… not as a son.”

“What’s does that mean?”

“It means that… you were right to be suspicious.”

“How did she die?”

“The report says there was heroin in her blood.”

“My mom was an addict?” Hutch asked wide-eyed. “That would have been obvious in a routine autopsy. What are you saying Starsky?”

“The coroner believes that the drug was ingested.”

“You mean she was poisoned?”

“We think so. And, I think we will find that Greg Stemple died the same way.” Starsky stated.

“He did it. Frank! He did it. He killed her. I told you… he…”

“Now see. That is the son talking.”

“Well, how do you expect me to feel? How else could this have happened?”

“We are going to find out. I got permission to take on this case. Dobey knows all about it, and he wasn’t happy about being awakened in the middle of the night either.  But, I told him the whole story and we have his blessing but we can’t go out there half-cocked.”

“Okay, okay. I hear ya.” Hutch resigned. “Alright.”

“I had the DPD put out an APB on Frank to bring him in just for questioning. AND, if they do…” Starsky stressed. “I will do the questioning.”

“But…” Hutch protested.

“But nothing. Leave it to me.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do?”

“What I suggest we do is go back to Bev’s house and do a more thorough search.”

“Okay. Let’s go.”

“Can I ask just one thing before we go.”

“Yeah. Sure. Anything. Name it.”

“Can I take a shower.”

*****

Bev’s house was much prettier in the daylight. It was pale blue with white trim. The flowerbeds were now dormant but in the summer they would have bloomed with vibrant color. The exterior was clean and tidy. When the detectives arrived, they scoured the front and back yards for clues. When they were satisfied there was nothing to find, they entered the home.

“I’ll take the bedrooms.” Starsky directed.

Hutch just nodded as he meandered into the living room. It held a traditional sofa with orange rose upholstery. An oval coffee table stood directly in front of it. A comfortable rocking chair was placed by the window. It was where Bev liked to read. Hutch remembered that she read a lot when he was a kid. Beside the chair was a small side table that held a stack of books. It made him smile warmly.

Hutch searched the room carefully. He felt like he was intruding though. It was something he would have to overcome if he was to solve the mystery of his mother’s death. He rummaged through the cushions and behind curtains. He rooted through cabinets and cupboards. Nothing seemed to be amiss. Everything was so orderly. Maybe too much so.

Starsky went through the same routine in the bedrooms and bathroom. He noticed there were books everywhere. They were all systematically placed on shelves next to feminine bric-a-brac. There were china vases and small dolls and floral needlepoints. He mostly noticed pictures of Hutch scattered everywhere. There were pictures of him at all ages. There was even one of him with Hutch back in their academy days. He must have sent it to her. Starsky picked up the silver framed photo that stood beside Bev’s bed. Hutch looked about 10 years old in this one. It was a picture of him in brilliant sunlight holding up a fishing pole and its catch. Hutch looked so proud. He carried it into the kitchen where Hutch was scouting the refrigerator.

“Hey.” Starsky said cheerfully. “You were a cute kid. What happened?”

“Nothing happened. I’m still cute.” Hutch defended. “You’re the careful one, remember?”

“Oh yeah. I forgot.” Starsky replied with a broad grin.

The pair rummaged around a bit more before they realized there was just nothing out of place. It was puzzling.

“Your mom sure liked to read.” Starsky said as he picked up one of the books on the side table.

“She sure did.”

“Looks like this would have been next on her list.”

Hutch walked over to where his partner was standing and Starsky handed him the book.

Pride and Prejudice. Her favorite. She would finish reading it and then start right at the beginning again.” Hutch remembered fondly.

He opened the book and flipped through the pages. When he did, an enveloped fell out and fluttered to the floor. Starsky picked it up.

“What is this?” He said.

“It’s an envelope.”

“Well, I know it’s an envelope. Do you think you should open it?”

“Go right ahead.”

Starsky flipped the flap and pulled out a letter. He began reading it as Hutch continued to investigate the living room.

“Anything?” He asked nonchalantly.

“Hmm. Yeah.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a love letter.”

“Oh yeah? From who?”

“Greg Stemple.”

*****

The detectives found many other love letters from Greg in books that were scattered throughout the house. The first one dating from 9 months ago. There was no doubt now that the two deaths were linked. Starsky and Hutch came to the same conclusion, that Bev and Greg had a relationship and Frank was none too happy about it. Their theory was that he killed them out of shear jealously. It was obviously premeditated as there were so few physical clues left behind. Frank may have been an asshole but he wasn’t stupid. He had taken a great deal of care and planning in executing and covering up these murders.

Hutch picked up the phone in the living room of Bev’s house.

“Who are you calling?” Starsky asked.

“Jane.” Hutch replied flatly as he began to dial. “Get me the phone book, wouldja Starsk? It should be in the front hall closet.”

“What for?”

“Look up Duluth DMV.”

Hutch waited for Jane to answer.

“Hello?” She said.

“Jane. It’s Ken.”

“Hey. Where are you?”

“I’m at Bev’s house and we found something.”

“What?”

“Love letters from Greg.”

“You’re kidding!?” She replied with shock.

“I don’t kid.”

“He was jealous. Wasn’t he.” Jane gasped. “He found out they were seeing one another and that was it. That is all it took for him to finally do it. Oh no… I’m so sorry, Ken. I’m just so…”

She started to cry.

“Look Jane.” Hutch said ignoring her apology and her tears. “I need your help.”

“Sure. Anything.” Jane sniffed. “What can I do?”

“What kind of car does Frank drive?”

“It’s a pick-up truck. A Ford, I think. Red and beat up. The tail light is all bashed in.”

“Okay. I’m going to call the DMV to get the license plate number then the border to see if we can stop him from leaving the country. Canada is only 3 hours away.”

“No need for that, Ken.”

“Why?”

“Because he has a record. He’d never try to cross the border. It would be too risky. He has nowhere to go. He has no one and no money. My bet is that he’s still here in Duluth or close by, hiding out. He wouldn’t go far. He couldn’t.”

“Where does he usually hang out? Where do you think we can start looking?”

“There’s a bar he goes to all the time. O’Malley’s on East Superior. He has a boat. So, sometimes he’ll go down to the Rice’s Point and fish. He’s at the mill most of the time though, working. You should start there.”

“Okay.”

“Let me know if there is anything else I can do.”

“I will and Jane?”

“Yes?”

“Thank you.”

*****

After calling the DMV and putting out another APB on Frank and the pick-up truck, Starsky and Hutch scrambled from Bev’s house to the car. Hutch peeled down the street toward the lake. They would go to the mill first then work their way back to the marina and O’Malley’s.

“Hutch?” Starsky said as he held on for dear life. “Remember what I said?”

“No. What?”

“Be a cop… not a son.”

With that reminder, Hutch laid off the accelerator and breathed deeply. His adrenaline surged but he tried his best to quell it.

“Okay. Okay.”

“And Hutch…”

“What?”

“If we find him. I’ll take care of it, okay?”

Hutch did not acknowledge his friend’s heeded advice. They drove on.

*****

The detectives interviewed Frank’s boss and a few of his colleagues. All of them said they hadn’t seen or heard from him in days. His boss was rather perturbed that Frank hadn’t even called to say he wouldn’t be into work for whatever reason. He at least expected that courtesy. Undaunted, Starsky and Hutch returned to the car to continue on to Rice’s Point.

Just as they were about to pull out of the parking lot, Hutch spotted him. He would know him anywhere. Frank walked slowly along the sidewalk smoking a cigarette. His head was down and he looked like a derelict, but Hutch knew, without a doubt it was him.

He slammed on the brakes and stopped the car with a jolt. Hutch swung open the door and was in a full out sprint before Starsky even knew what was happening. When he realized that Hutch was now in pursuit of the man that killed his mother, he too sprang from the car and followed.

“Hutch!” Starsky yelled. “HUTCH!!”

Frank saw Hutch and turned tail and ran away as fast as he could. But, he would be no match for him. It only took several blocks before Hutch caught up to Frank and tackled him to the ground. He flipped him over and stared him in the eye before striking blow after blow.

“YOU KILLED HER!” Hutch blasted, tears streaming down his face. “YOU KILLED MY MOTHER!! WHY? YOU COWARD! YOU BASTARD!”

Years of rage poured out of Hutch like hot lava. The hatred and vengeance he felt for his stepfather had nowhere to go. Violence was the only option.

Starsky arrived within seconds and pulled his partner off Frank who now lay unconscious on the pavement. Blood oozed from his mouth and nose. Hutch tried to break free from Starsky’s grasp for another round but Starsky held firm and Hutch finally relented. He turned to his partner and fell into his arms and wept. It was over. It was finally over.

*****

EPILOGUE

 

“How’s Donna doing?” Starsky asked Jane as she drove the partners to the airport.

“I think she’s finally coming to terms with the fact that her father is a double murderer.”

“A full confession will do that.” Starsky commented casually.

“I mean, she’s always known that Frank was evil but just decided not to deal with it. She just ignored it and tried to find the good in him. It was just too hard to admit that he was a monster. It was just her way of coping.”

“I understand.” Starsky continued. “I hope she gets the help she needs. And, you too.”

“I have mentioned going to counseling. I think she’ll come with me.”

“Good.”

Hutch sat in the back seat of the car just staring out the window. He could hear Jane’s and Starsky’s conversation, but he was totally lost in his own thoughts. As the city of Duluth passed by, he couldn’t help be feel his childhood melt away. It would become just a faint memory that he would never revisit. He knew he would never come back again.

The last week had made him realized how damaged he was. Hutch had never explored it before and when he was finally forced to, hind sight became 20/20. His abusive childhood explained so much about who he was, his work and his relationships. He had never had to face it head on, but the murder of his mother and her friend brought it all to a festering head. It was painful and would take a great deal of time to absorb and heal. But, he finally got the resolution he needed even though it came through incredible tragedy.

Hutch’s self-analysis came to an abrupt halt when Jane pulled up to the arrivals platform and stopped the car. They all got out and wandered around to the back of the car to get their luggage. The siblings faced each other and Jane started to get teary.

“Hey. None of that.” Hutch comforted as he took her in his arms. “I want you to come out and see me – sooner than later, okay?”

“Okay.” Jane murmured as she tried to control her emotions. She turned to Starsky and hugged him too.

“Do what Hutch says and come out and see both of us.” He smiled brightly. “It’s a lot warmer out there.”

Jane now snickered pleasantly. She turned back to Hutch and looked up into his eyes with sincerity. She couldn’t help but see his mother’s face.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am about Bev. It’s just so…, I just wish I could have…”

“Could have what?” Hutch said softly. “Changed what your father was? You know the answer to that. It’s not your fault Jane.”

“I know… I just…”

“We will survive. He have survived.”

The detectives said their final goodbyes to Jane and watched her drive away. Snow began to fall as they turned to enter the terminal. Hutch reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, tapped it and placed a smoke between his lips. Just before he flicked his lighter Starsky grabbed his partner’s arm.

“Will you stop that.” He said with disgust.

“Ah come on. Just let me finish this pack.”

“Nope. No way. Throw it away.”

“But why?

“Listen.” Starsky replied forcefully. “I am your mother, father, brother. So do what you’re told.”

Hutch shrugged and as he passed the trash can he tossed the package away.

***The End***

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