Backfire (by Barbara)

Summary:   She’s back!
Category:  Starsky & Hutch
Genre:  Crime
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  5000


 

Starsky sat comfortably at his desk. He had his chair tilted back on its hind legs and his feet crossed atop the table. His face was buried in a racing magazine. He was oblivious to the cops that milled about the squad room and to his partner that sat across from him. Hutch fussed over a pile of bills, torn scrapes of paper, soiled napkins and random notes. It was a weekly routine.

“Why do I always have to organize the receipts?” He grumbled. “Why can’t you do it for a change?”

“Because, I don’t care.” Starsky muttered without removing his focus from the article he was reading.

“This is our money, you know.”

“It’s nickels and dimes, Hutch. I don’t know why you even bother.”

“I’m saving for my retirement.” Hutch stressed. “Every nickel and dime counts.”

“Retirement?” Starsky remarked finally pulling his nose from inside the mag.

“Yes. Retirement! It’s what people do after they stop working. You know… retirement?”

“Hutch. You’re 34 years old.”

“So?”

“So, it’s a little early to be thinking about retirement, isn’t it?”

“The way things are going, I’ll need the next 20 years to make up for all the money we’ve spent on who knows what.”

“Whatever.” Starsky sighed as he returned to his magazine. “Besides, what makes you think you’ll even make it to retirement?”

“What’s THAT supposed to mean?”

“It just means, we are in a dangerous business. I just take it one day-at-a-time. And, so should you, Hutch. Forget about retirement. What would you do with a life of leisure anyway? You’d go whacko if you ever retired.”

“The only thing driving me whacko right now is getting these receipts in order. And, I definitely plan on making it to 65, even if it kills me.”

Starsky rolled his eyes at his meticulous friend. It was the same thing every week. Hutch would fret over the receipts and Starsky would ignore them and his partner.

The door to Dobey’s office swung open almost hitting Starsky in the elbow. The Captain came through into the squad room and stood there squarely.

“Hutch.” He said calmly.

“Yes, Captain.”

“Williams needs you in supply.”

“Supply? What for?”

“I don’t know.” Dobey huffed. “What am I, your secretary? Just get down there!”

“Okay, okay.” Hutch resigned as he continued to shuffle. “I’ll go when I’m done with all this.”

“Now!” Dobey insisted.

“What’s the rush? Is there a supply emergency or something? I didn’t even order anything. I’ll get there when I get there, Captain.”

“Hutch.” Dobey replied sternly. “Get down to supply.”

Hutch scowled, stood and threw his pencil on the desk. It bounced off the phone and ended up in Starsky’s lap.

“Hey! watch it!” He gripped. “You could have taken my eye out. Sharp.”

Hutch didn’t respond, but rather stormed out of the squad room and down to the basement’s supply room.

“What the heck was that all about?” Starsky asked looking up at his boss. “Have we run out of paper clips or something?”

“I need to talk to you.” Dobey replied bluntly. “I had to get him out of here somehow. Get in my office.”

Starsky made a face. What could Dobey possible have to say to him that Hutch couldn’t hear. He took a deep breath, stood and entered Dobey’s office.

“Shut the door and take a seat.”

“What’s the matter Captain. Am I finally getting my pink slip?”

“Diana Harmon has been released.” Dobey stated bluntly.

“Excuse me?”

“DIANA! Diana Harmon! Hutch’s old girlfriend! She’s been released!”

“I know who she is Captain, but she was placed in care 2 years ago. What are they thinking letting her out? She’s dangerous. She stabbed Hutch. She could have killed him!”

“I guess she passed her psych evaluations.”

“Oh, you mean like Commander Jim? You’re a menace to society until you pass a ridiculous test?”

“I don’t know, Starsky.” Dobey blared. “I just know that Diana is now a free woman and I wanted to make sure Hutch knew about it.”

“So, why don’t you tell him?”

“You’re his partner… you tell him!”

“Coward.” Starsky uttered.

“I suggest you both take the necessary precautions.”

“Thanks Captain. I appreciated your due diligence.”

“You’re welcome.”

Starsky rose to leave but was hesitant to exit the safety of Dobey’s office. He didn’t want to face Hutch and have to tell him that the girl who obsessed over him was now on the streets. He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and Hutch’s too. As he departed the office he literally bumped into Hutch. They almost knocked each other over. The blond cop was in a foul mood.

“They didn’t need me in supply!” Hutch bellowed. “What is he talking about? Is Dobey losing it or something? Where is he? I’m gonna…”

“Never mind, never mind.” Starsky said as he punched Hutch’s jacket into his friend’s chest. “Here. Let’s go get a beer at Huggy’s.”

“But, I don’t want a beer.”

“Believe me. You’re gonna need a drink when you hear this.”

Starsky took his partner’s arm and steered him out of the building with Hutch griping all the way.

*****

“She’s out?” Hutch said in disbelief.

He immediately put the burger down that he had just taken a bite out of. He looked around the bar to see if the coast was clear.

“Yep.” Starsky affirmed. “Apparently she passed her evaluation.”

“Oh, ya mean like Commander Jim passed his?”

“That’s exactly what I said.”

Hutch swallowed hard and sat up straight now on full alert.

“What should we do?”

“Well,” Starsky sighed. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot we can do.”

“That’s it? Just sit here and wait for her to pounce. That’s your plan?”

“I don’t have a plan exactly. Besides, she’s probably over you by now.” Starsky smirked.

“That’s not funny.” Hutch said. He squinted his eyes and stared at his friend. “She stabbed me in the shower! She thought I was her fiancé! She bashed Linda over the head. But, worst of all… she destroyed my guitar!! She smashed it to bits along with my heart.” Hutch paused. “I loved that guitar.”

“I know. I know. But, let’s think positively here shall we?”

“Positively?”

“Yes.” Starsky said as he took a sip of beer. “Maybe, if she’s passed all her phycological tests, she is totally cured. Maybe, she’s fine now. Maybe she is a perfectly balanced young lady and we’ll never see her again.”

“Perfectly balanced, huh?”

“Sure. You’re not THAT irresistible.”

“You know something, Starsk?” Hutch said dubiously. He leaned over his plate of burger and fries and made cold eye-contact with his partner. “You know damn well how irresistible I am.”

“Right. Come on… I’ll drive you home.”

“You’re not going to leave me alone are you?”

“Well. You can come back to my place if you want.”

“Yes.” Hutch affirmed. “I want.”

*****

Days and weeks passed and Starsky and Hutch went on with their business. Hutch’s paranoia faded slightly with only momentary bouts of hyper alertness. When he saw a woman in a store or on the street that even vaguely resembled Diana, his heart skipped a beat. He was certainly jumpy.

He had commandeered Starsky’s sofa since learning of Diana’s release, fearful to go home where she attacked Hutch 2 years prior. Nevertheless, tonight was the night. After their shift, Starsky was going to drive Hutch to his apartment. Hutch was cramping his style.

“Where are you going?” Hutch asked from the passenger seat of the Torino.

“I’m taking you home.”

“Home? Why?”

“Because, I have a date tonight and the last thing I need is you camped out on my couch in your underwear.”

“I never sit around in my underwear.” Hutch objected with disdain.

“Whatever. You’re going home.”

“But, do you think it’s safe?”

“Hutch, we haven’t seen hide nor hair of Diana.” Starsky reasoned, “Face it. She’s over you. You’ll never see her again.”

Hutch took a deep breath and let it out with puffed cheeks. He wasn’t convinced.

“I suppose.” He answered warily.

“Listen,” Starsky said. “If anything happens, I’ll be right there to save you. I always am.”

“Somehow, I don’t find that comforting.”

“What do you mean?” Starsky sounded insulted. “I save you all the time! When have I ever let you down? Huh? When?”

“Never.” Hutch said with resignation. “I just…”

“You just what?”

“I just think something’s going to happen. I have a bad feeling about this, Starsky. Take me to the movies. After your date you can come and get me.”

“Well, I’m not planning on the date ending tonight. If you know what I mean.”

Hutch looked despondently out the window as the car sped toward his Venice Place. He felt defeated, alone and somewhat terrified.

“Okay, okay.” Hutch said bravely. “Take me home then. But, under protest.”

“You’ll be fine, Hutch. Trust me.”

*****

Hutch tentatively entered his second floor flat and flipped on the light. Before removing his jacket and gun, he peered into the bathroom, behind the piano and out on to the patio. Everything seemed in order. He breathed a sigh of relief and felt safe enough to hang up his coat but kept his gun securely fastened to his side.

He immediately went into the kitchen to get a pitcher of water to rescue his plants that were wilted and in obvious need of attention. His absence had taken their toll. Once that was done he felt a bit better – normal. He went to the john then crossed the apartment and opened the fridge. It was barren except for a single bottle of beer. He grabbed it and the phone and plopped on the couch and ordered a pizza. He popped the cap off his beer and turned on the TV to watch the game.

His evening was quiet and uneventful. He was enjoying being home. Although when the delivery man knocked on his door it made him flinch. But, that was it. It looked like Starsky was right. Diana had no interest in him anymore and that was fine with Hutch.

“Well plants.” He murmured. “Eleven o’clock and aaaalll isss weeelllll.” He sang.

He turned off the TV, put his dishes in the sink, and finally removed his holster. As he walked toward his bedroom, he slipped off his shirt and threw it in the laundry hamper. He circled around the bed and was stopped in his tracks.

There on his pillow lay a single, fresh red rose.

*****

Hutch sat at his desk where, yet again, a pile of receipts cluttered the surface. His face was etched with ire as he flipped through the scrapes. He radiated exasperated heat and his fellow cops felt it. They stayed clear. Starsky had yet to show up for work.

“Where’s your partner?” Dobey asked as he entered the squad room.

“I have no idea, Captain.” Hutch replied. “But, if he’s wise, he’ll take the day off.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

It was then that Starsky swung the door open and waltzed in. He couldn’t contain his gleeful mood or disguise the fact that he had had a pretty wonderful night. He carried a greasy paper bag.

“You’re late!” Dobey barked.

“Sorry Captain. I didn’t get much sleep last night. If you know what I mean.”

Dobey simply growled and returned to his office. Starsky took no notice of his boss’ displeasure, grabbed the pot of coffee and poured himself a cup. He then took his seat at his desk and peered over at his partner who glared at him ominously.

“What’s the matter with you?” Starsky asked after taking a sip.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night either.” Hutch fumed.

“Oh? Why’s that? Did you have a date last night too?”

“No. I spent the night in a seedy hotel.”

“How come?” Starsky inquired as he pulled a sticky bun from the bag.

“Because when I went to bed last night, I found a red rose on my pillow.”

“Ooooh.”

Starsky knew immediately what that meant. He stopped chewing.

“So, I ran out of there as fast as a thoroughbred out of the gate. I found the only motel around with a vacancy. Believe me, it was not 5 Star. I told you she’d be back. I told you!”

“Well, I…”

“Well nothing, Starsky.” Hutch seethed. “You just refused to take this seriously and now I’m right back where I started.”

“Take it easy.” Starsky said calmly. “We’re detectives. We’ll find her and…”

“And what, arrest her for being romantic?”

“No. We can arrest her for breaking and entering.”

“Starsky. We can’t prove that it was Diana that put that rose on my pillow. How are we going to do that? We’re going to have to wait until she does something that I really don’t want to think about. In the meantime, I feel like a duck in a barrel.”

“Okay. Okay.” Starsky said, stalling to organize his thoughts. “Ahhh… first thing, is to come back to my place.”

“I don’t think that is going to help. She probably knows where you live now. She’s been stalking me all along.”

“Yeah. You’re probably right.” Starsky pondered. “Well, Dobey can set up a safe house for you.”

“I don’t want to go to a safe house. I just want my life back. I can’t believe she is doing this to me again.”

“Well, don’t let her.” Starsky stated boldly.

“What?”

“Don’t give her the power, Hutch. She obviously enjoys it, don’t let her take control. Only you can take back your life. So take it.” Starsky encouraged with a shrug.

“Sounds like a bumper sticker.”

“Well, I’m right aren’t I?” Starsky asked as he chewed his bun. “You do feel controlled don’t you?”

Hutch sat back in his chair and contemplated. His partner was right. Why should he cower to her obsession? She was manipulating him without a fight.

“I think you’re onto something, Gordo.”

“I am?” Starsky sounded surprised.

“Game on, Diana. Game on.” Hutch declared.

*****

Starsky and Hutch entered the psychiatric facility where Diana had spent the last 2 years. It was a cold, dingy place. Everything was beige. The duo approached the front desk where a single security guard sat. She was middle-aged and plump.

“Detective’s Hutchinson and Starsky to see Dr. McDermott.”

“Why? You two look perfectly sane.” She laughed.

“Don’t let appearances fool you.” Starsky quipped.

“I like the appearance of you, doll face.” She flirted blatantly.

“What is this Studio 54?” Hutch interrupted. “Where can we find the doctor?”

“Party pooper.” She frowned. “Room 101.”

She pointing down the hall.

They thanked her and as they headed toward the door, Starsky looked back at the security guard. She winked at him.

“Who’s irresistible now?” He chuckled.

Hutch knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

“Dr. McDermott?” Hutch said as he crossed the room with an out stretched hand. “I’m Detective Hutchinson. This is my partner David Starsky.”

“Ah yes. It’s nice to finally meet you. The famous Ken Hutchinson.”

“Famous?”

“Yes. You were all Diana talked about when she was first admitted here.”

Starsky and Hutch looked at one another with raised eyebrows. The pair took their seats across the desk from the doctor.

“Diana had quite the obsession with you.”

“Yes. I know. Are you aware that she tried to kill me with a butcher knife?”

“I was well aware of the incidences that brought Diana to this facility two years ago.” The doctor described nonchalantly.

He spoke with a strange, mock-British accent. It immediately made Hutch skeptical of him. It tainted his credibility.

“I read your report thoroughly as well Detective Hutchinson. Fascinating case. We had many therapy sessions and yes, Diana’s violent outbursts did come up.”

“You don’t sound alarmed.” Starsky stated.

“Well, I was at first but we worked through it.”

“Worked through it?” Hutch commented suspiciously.

“Yes, my approach was intensive, comprehensive, and methodical. Through our daily conferences, the proper medication and the instilling of life coping skills, my staff and I had a wonderful and transformative result with Miss Harmon. She passed her evaluations with flying colors.”

“Flying colors?” Hutch blasted. “She has stalked me since she was released 4 weeks ago, doctor. Two nights ago she entered my apartment and placed a red rose on my pillow.”

“Oh. I see.” Dr. McDermott said dubiously. “How do you know it was Diana?”

“Well, as far as I know, she is the only woman from my past that stabbed me in the shower, ransacked my apartment, attacked a fellow colleague, confronted me at my place of work and decided we were engaged!”

“But, Diana has made no mention of you for over a year now. All of her assessments show a stable, balanced young lady.”

“Where have I heard that before.” Starsky uttered.

“You listen to me, doctor.” Hutch said with pointed finger. “I’m getting sick and tired of your profession declaring mental health to dangerous people. So help me God, if anything happens to me or my partner, I’ll have your license revoked!”

“But… we…” McDermott retorted with obvious panic.

“I want all of your files on Diana Harmon including her new address.”

“You would need a warrant for me to release that information, detective.” The doctor said with defiance.

“I came prepared, doctor!”

Hutch threw the warrant on the McDermott’s desk.

*****

Diana had been transferred to a rehabilitation facility, literally three blocks from Hutch’s place. That information simply enraged him. She had no restrictions on her daily routine except to find a job and respect an eight pm curfew.

Starsky and Hutch pulled up outside the large home that resembled a boarding house. They made no attempt to hide and drove in Starsky’s gleaming red, striped Grand Torino. There was no disguising it. It was part of Hutch’s plan to take back control.

Hutch grabbed the door handle to get out, but Starsky stopped him.

“Hey, Hutch.” He said sheepishly.

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry? For what?”

“You were right. I didn’t take this seriously.” He confessed. “I should have. I know what you went through so I’m sorry I wasn’t more supportive.”

“That’s okay, Starsk. I didn’t want to believe it either.” Hutch replied with a gentle smile. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?”

With that, the duo exited the car and walked the path and up the stairs to the front door. They knocked and were met by an older woman who inquired who was calling. Hutch flashed his badge and the partners were let into the foyer.

“I’m Mrs. Richards. I am the custodian here. Can I help you?” The she asked politely.

“Yes, we are here to see Diana Harmon.”

“Oh… well…”

“Oh, well what?” Starsky said curiously.

“Well, I haven’t seen Diana in a few days.” she confessed. “I put in a report to the Dr. McDermott but I suppose he hasn’t gotten to it yet. I was just about to call the police, but you’re here now so…”

Again, a frustrated glance passed between Starsky and Hutch.

“When was the last time you saw her?” Hutch asked with angst. He made a conscious effort to control his wrath.

“It was the evening before last when she came home from work. I haven’t seen her since.”

“Take me to her room.” Hutch demanded. He was done with this conversation. Infuration filled his being.

“Of course.” Mrs. Richards said as she pointed to the stairs. “It’s on the second floor.”

She led the detectives up the stairs and down the hallway to the door of Diana’s room. She unlocked the door, opened it and stepped back. Starsky and Hutch entered with daunting trepidation. They stood in the middle of the room with their mouth’s agape. They slowly spun in place, trying to comprehend what they were seeing.

Every wall, from floor to ceiling were plastered with pictures of Hutch.

*****

Mrs. Richards provided Diana’s place of work and while on the way there, Hutch put out an APB. She had gotten a job at a small coffee shop in Hutch’s neighborhood. As a matter of fact, he frequented it often.

“I was just here last Sunday for breakfast.”

“Forget about breakfast,” Starsky stated. “Let’s get lunch.”

“We’re not here to eat, Starsk.”

“How come? I haven’t eaten all day. I’m starved. You know I think better on a full stomach.”

“Well, at least I can rely on you for one thing.” Hutch muttered.

“What’s that?”

“You’re addiction to food.”

The partners entered the small restaurant. Starsky made a beeline for the last remaining unoccupied booth while Hutch scanned the place for any sign of Diana. He eventually caught up to Starsky and slide in across from him. He was already engrossed in the menu.

“This place is busy.” He said.

“Yeah.” Hutch replied still scouting the place for his nemesis. “It always is.”

The waitress arrived to take their order.

“Corned beef on rye with extra mustard, side order of fries and a root beer please.” Starsky outlined.

Hutch ignored his friend opting to question the young lady instead.

“Do you know Diana Harmon?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“Is she here?”

“No. I haven’t seen her for a few days. As a matter of fact, I’m a little worried about her.” The waitress confessed.

“Oh. Why’s that?”

“She said she was having boyfriend problems.”

“Have you ever met her boyfriend?”

“No.” The waitress said. “But, she’s always talking about him.”

“What’s her boyfriend’s name?” Hutch inquired with apprehension.

“Ken.” Came her simple reply.

*****

Starsky’s hunger vanished with the declaration that Diana was, in fact, on the warpath.  The detectives, now on high alert, returned to the car to regroup. Her obsession with Hutch hadn’t quelled at all. They feared instead, that it had escalated.

“Where to now?” Starsky asked as he put the key in the ignition.

“Home.” Hutch stated boldly.

“But, do you think that’s safe?”

“No. I don’t.”

“Then why home?”

“It’s called setting the trap, Starsk. The game just got serious.”

*****

It was Starsky that now commandeered Hutch’s sofa. They would remain at Hutch’s flat for the duration of the hunt. They knew Diana could not control her compulsions. She would rear her head eventually. Restraint for her was unattainable. It would just be a matter of time before she made her move. What that move was exactly, Starsky and Hutch could hazard a guess.

They parked the Torino and the Galaxy right out front of the building making it crystal clear that the men were inside. If Hutch was going to be prey, it would be on his terms. He invited the provocation.

Hutch informed Dobey of their situation. Hutch also called Dr. McDermott to comment on his failed rehabilitation program, warning yet again that if either he or Starsky were hurt, the doctor would be held responsible. Diana was ill and could not be held responsible for her actions.

So, it was Thursday evening and the partners lay in wait. It had been several days since they entered the restaurant but patience had to be exercised. Starsky sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and Hutch puttered around the apartment dusting.

“Well.” Starsky blurted. “It’s official.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I’m bored.”

Hutch just smirked. He was feeling it too.

“This is worse than a stake out.” Starsky declared.

“Ah come on.” Hutch protested. “We are usually buried in a shrub or in a sweltering car when we’re on a stake out. This is the Ritz compared to that.”

Starsky just made a face.

“Do you want to play some chess or monopoly or something?” Hutch suggested, trying to appease his friend.

“Nah. I’m hungry. What should we order?”

“Aren’t you sick of pizza and Chinese food yet?”

“I never get sick of pizza and Chinese food.”

“Well, I want some real food. Maybe a steak or roasted chicken.”

“Sounds good to me. But, the cupboard is bare Mother Hubbard.”

“I can go out and do some shopping.” Hutch offered. “It won’t take long. I’ll go out the backway.”

“Okay.” Starsky sighed. “I’ll hold down the fort. But, be careful.”

“No, no. I’m cute, remember?” Hutch joshed.

Hutch grabbed his jacket. He was already wearing his gun. He hadn’t taken if off except to shower in the last few days.

“Be back in a jiff.” He said as he left the apartment.

“GET SOME BEER!!” Starsky yelled as the door closed.

Starsky returned to his paper and finished the article he was reading. Then he folded it and picked up the few dishes on the table to wash them. He’d start to set the table for Hutch’s home-cooked meal. As he leaned over the sink to turn on the faucet he heard the door to the apartment open. He assumed it was Hutch.

“What did you forget?” He asked.

When turned around, he was faced with Diana pointing a gun straight at him. There was no time to react before she pulled the trigger. Starsky fell to the ground holding his stomach. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.

*****

Hutch was in the back alley when he was startled by the gunshot. Panic engulfed him as he ran back to the building and up the back stairs. He appeared in the doorway of his apartment to find Diana on her knees next to Starsky. She rocked back and forth over his body as if in a trance. Blood oozed from Starsky’s abdomen. His face was white and he gasped for breath.

Hutch stood in horror. His worst nightmare had come true. He planted himself in place as to not spook Diana into doing anymore harm. Sweat trickled down his forehead – his respiration accelerated. He held his hands out, palms down subliminally trying to calm the situation.

“Diana.” He said softly.

But, she did not acknowledge him.

“Diana?” Hutch tried again.

She slowly looked up at him, clutching the smoking gun. She was crying. She gazed at Hutch longingly.

“Why can’t you love me?” She whispered.

“I do.” Hutch replied. “I do love you.”

“No you don’t.” She sobbed. “You never loved me.”

Hutch began to take small steps towards her. His heart was beating so hard, it made his head pound. He could feel the veins in his neck pulsate. But, he had to quell the situation, keep calm and get to Starsky.

“Give me the gun, Diana.”

“NO!” She screamed.

“Take it easy. Let’s talk. We can talk, can’t we?”

“No.” She said again with resignation.

Hutch took another step. Diana put the gun the Starsky’s head.

“NO. NO!” Hutch bellowed. “No. Don’t… don’t, please don’t Diana.”

“All you had to do was love me. That was all you had to do. It could have been so lovely you and me. Our marriage. Our children. I would have taken such good care of you. We can still have a life, Hutch. You and me. Just you and me.”

“Sure… sure we can.”

Hutch held his hand out as he took several more steps.

“Give me the gun and we can start over. Just you and me… okay?”

“Not Starsky?”

“No. Just you and me, Diana.”

Diana lowered the gun and looked down at Starsky. She caressed his cheek. She began to cry again and Hutch, seeing her momentarily venerable, made his move. He leaped at her as if diving into a pool. He tackled her and he tried to wrestle the gun off of her. She fought back viciously, history repeating itself. Starsky never budged, totally oblivious to the battle that played out only inches from him. He never moved even when the gun when off.

Diana lay limp on the kitchen floor. Hutch crawled over to Starsky and cupped his hand around the back of his head.

“It’s over. It’s finally over.”

*****

Epilogue

Starsky’s eyes fluttered. He struggled to open them and when he did he saw Hutch sitting at his bedside.

“Hey.” Starsky said with gravelled voice.

“Hey yourself.”

“She got me.”

“She sure did buddy.” Hutch grinned with melancholia.

“Where am I?”

“You’re in the ICU of the hospital.”

“How long have I been here?”

“Oh, a couple of days.” Hutch said. “But, the doc says you’re going to be fine. You’ll be back on your feet in no time.”

“Oh. That’s nice.” Starsky replied, still fogged by medication.

“How do you feel?” Hutch asked.

“You’ll get mad at me if I tell you.”

“I won’t get mad at you.”

“Okay then, if you must know… I’m hungry.”

“That’s good, Starsk.” Hutch laughed. “That’s a good thing that you’re hungry. I’ll never hassle you about your appetite again.”

“That’ll be the day.” Starsky smirked weakly.

A momentary pause filled the room as Starsky tried desperately to focus.

“Diana?” He finally asked. “What happened?”

“She’s dead, Starsk.” Hutch replied somberly.

“Oh no. I’m sorry Hutch. How?”

“We fought, struggled. The gun went off. I got lucky.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. I am.”

Hutch rose to leave the room.

“Listen, I gotta go, but I’ll be back. I’ll bring you a burrito.”

“Where are you going?” Starsky inquired.

“I have something I have to do.”

“Hey Hutch?”

“Yeah, buddy?”

“Don’t forget the onions.”

“Naturally. What’s a burrito without onions.”

*****

Hutch stood alone at the cemetery. Just he and the priest were present to say farewell to Diana. Who organized the burial, Hutch had no clue. Was it a long lost relative? A charity? Or, was it Diana herself. All Hutch knew was that, in the end, it came down to just him and her. She had finally gotten her wish.

Hutch couldn’t help but feel sincere empathy for her. It was clear now that she simply had no one. Her obvious illness, loneliness and desperation for love had manifest into a deadly obsession. And, Hutch was the one. Maybe he was the only one who ever paid any attention to her. Sadness filled him up.

Once the priest completed his simple service, he left unceremoniously. Hutch stepped toward the open grave and placed a single red rose on the casket.

“Goodbye Diana.” He said woefully. “You can rest in peace now.”

Hutch then turned and walked away.

***The End***

April 2019

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