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GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Getting to know you

Getting to know all about you

Getting to like you

Getting to hope you like me

When Michael Starsky got out of his car that Friday morning he wasn’t expecting to see the guy he’d come to know as the ‘Blond Don Juan’ sitting in his car, in the Academy’s parking lot, by himself. David Hutchinson wasn’t exactly the easiest guy to get to know on a casual basis, particularly if you were a guy yourself. A bevy of young women usually surrounded him morning, noon and night, and seeing him without his entourage was like a major sign of something utterly amiss in the cosmos. He sat with his head lowered, not looking like he wanted any company, so Michael almost kept on walking. But something convinced him to try talking to the guy anyway. He walked up to the Corvette and rapped on the glass on the driver’s side. When the blond youth looked up, he saw a vaguely recognizable face outside the car window mouthing something to him. He was curious enough to let it down to see what he wanted.

"What’d you say?"

"I said, are you okay in there?"

"Yeah, yeah, I’m okay."

"Anything wrong?"

"Nothing a couple of cold ones won’t fix."

Michael thought about the statement, and then decided it would be as good an opportunity as any to get the guy talking. "Say, you wanna go grab a couple? It might cure what’s ailing you." They could stand to miss one class.

Hutchinson thought about it. "Yeah, sure. Why not? Hop in, I’ll drive."

Michael ran around to the passenger side of the red Corvette and folded himself into one of the plushest rides he’d ever seen. The fair-haired driver turned the key in the ignition, put the car in gear and sped out of the parking lot, letting his Michelins leave their scar on the asphalt.

They ended up at a nearby bar called Tooley’s Tavern. Tooley’s was one of those places where the ambience of the place changed with the age and type of clientele. In the daytime, a lot of the recruits came there to relax and blow off steam after an onerous day of having their heads stuffed inside textbooks. In the evening, the instructors and sometimes a couple of the off-duty police officers could be seen there conversing and playing pool over a couple of beers. Both young men took a seat at the bar, and the tavern’s namesake, a big, burly man named Ed Tooley, walked over to take their order. "What can I get you boys?"

"I’ll have a Coors. What about you, man?"

"I’ll have a Heineken, on tap."

Tooley looked the Starsky boy over closely, trying to determine his age. "You old enough to be drinking, son?"

"Turned twenty-one last October. Want to see my I.D?"

"Nope. I believe you. Just checking. Can’t be too careful, you know."

Michael nodded.

Tooley reached down below the bar and opened a bottle of Coors, poured it into a stemmed glass, and then went over to a keg of Heineken and opened the tap to fill Michael’s glass. He brought the two glasses and the balance of the Coors bottle over to the two young men and left.

David let his ring finger slide idly over the lip of his beer glass. "So, what’s your last name again?" he asked.

Michael took a casual sip of his beer. "Starsky, Mike Starsky."

"Yeah, that’s it, Starsky. Are you and ‘The Teach’ related? Or are we just looking at some kinda strange coincidence here?" The Blond Don Juan had taken to calling Michael’s father ‘Teach,’ mainly because the elder Starsky’s methods of teaching were a little unorthodox. "I mean, you gotta admit, it’s a pretty unusual name," he added.

"Yeah, I know. He’s my Dad."

David took a sip of his beer. "Hmm. Interesting. Does he ever talk to you his days as a policeman?"

"Only when I ask him about it. He doesn’t really like to talk about the old days that much. Matter of fact, he was pretty shocked that first day of class. Seein’ me sittin’ there musta put the fear of God into him."

The Hutchinson boy laughed. "Wish I could shock mine. Nothing seems to phase him anymore."

"So, what’s your Dad’s name?"

"Kenneth…Ken Hutchinson."

Oh wow, he thought. That was the name his father had given him to check on, and he was most likely the guy’s son. Michael was more than excited; he was kind of proud of himself. And he was curious to see what else he could find out.

"Did your Dad ever work in Bay City, as a detective?"

"Yeah, ‘bout twenty or so odd years ago. He had a partner back then that he never talks about. When I try to bring it up, he gets all uptight and clams up."

"Must be some rough memories for him to keep them bottled up like that."

"I’ll never know. Man’s as tight as a base drum. It’d take a sledgehammer to get through the wall he’s put up on that subject."

Michael downed the rest of his beer and tapped on the counter for a refill, and Tooley came round to accommodate him. Hutchinson poured the balance of his beer into his now empty glass. And he hunched over it like somebody might take it from him.

"So you got any other family?" Michael asked.

"Just the standard issue, Mom and Dad, a baby sister who always manages to give me the creeps." He took a sip of his freshened beer. "You know what? I just thought of something. You’re kind of nosy for somebody I don’t know all that well."

"Ah…what can I say? I saw a guy in pain and thought that maybe if he talked about what was bothering him it might help. That’s no crime, is it?"

"Naw, I guess not."

"So what’s got you so down in the mouth?"

"You remember that girl I was with the first day of class?"

Michael smiled. "Oh, you mean Brunhilda?"

"Yeah," he laughed. "That’s the one. I had to break it off with her today; she was getting a little clingy. If you know what I mean, it wasn’t a pleasant experience."

"Musta been tough on her."

"Tough on her? She slapped me. Believe it or not, I never had a girl slap me before."

"Real eye opener, huh?"

"No kiddin’."

"So, tell me about your mom and your sister. What’re their names?"

"My mom’s name is Elsa. We call my sister ‘Kat’ for short. But it’s really Katharina."

"Kat. I like that. Sounds pretty."

"It is, and she is. But if you ever get to meet her, don’t you ever tell her I said it."

"You have my solemn word." Michael put his right hand over his heart.

"Okay, my turn. You got any brothers or sisters?"

Michael started rolling the beer glass bottom in concentric circles on the countertop, nearly tipping it over. He wanted to field a few more questions about himself and then get to the final jeopardy question. "Nope, I’m an lonely only."

"What happened? They break the mold after you?"

"I guess you could say that. Dad always thought he’d have more than one, but it didn’t work out that way."

"You miss not having any brothers or sisters?"

"Sometimes, but I don’t suffer too much though. My parents and I are pretty close-knit."

"Well, you must not be all that close-knit. Your Dad didn’t know you wanted to become a cop."

"Yeah, you’re right about that."

Hutchinson grinned. He liked the guy, even if he did have a somewhat non-conventional approach for getting to know people. He thought for a minute, and then went ahead asking the question that was on his mind. "Mike, how’d you like to come over to my house for dinner tomorrow? We can get to know each other better, and you can meet the folks."

"Really?" David nodded. "Well, sure, just give me the time and the coordinates and I’ll be there."

"Maybe after that, I can find out from you how to I can get a good grade from that old man of yours."

"Are you kidding? I’ve been trying to figure that out myself!"

This was turning out better than he’d hoped it would. He didn’t have to ask the Blond Don Juan to come to his house. The guy was inviting him over to his. Wait until his Dad got a load of this.

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LOVE WILL FIND A WAY

It's all right

Once you get past the pain

You're bound to find your love again

Keep your heart open cause

Love will find a way

The Hutchinson home was located in the heart of suburbia in the middle of a cul de sac in Bay City, California. Blue skies, tall trees and manicured lawns abounded. Michael pulled up in the beat-up of piece of crap he called a car around five o’ clock that Saturday evening. He was dressed in his best casual clothes, looking and smelling nicer than he was used to. He knocked on the door and waited until a very pretty blond girl, wearing a cute summer outfit opened the door. She smiled at him as she leaned against it.

"Hi, you’re Mike, right?" She pulled the door open a little farther.

He nodded dully, his index finger jumping inside the neck of his collar to loosen it. It seemed a little tighter around than it had been before, and he felt like he wanted to pass out. But he didn’t. She was great looking. He muttered something to her as he walked past her.

She closed the door and shook his hand. "I’m Kat. Do you want to sit down? Maybe listen to some music while you’re waiting? Dinner’ll be ready soon."

"Ahhh…sure."

"Cool, follow me."

He followed her down a short flight of steps into a large den and started studied her from across the room as she turned on the stereo and found some appropriate music. He guessed that she was probably around seventeen or eighteen years old, a bubbly little thing with an engaging personality, cute without being nauseating. She was wearing a pair of denim Capri pants with a whimsical little pink halter-top and her hair was the most blond he’d ever seen.

She smiled at him. "Would you like something to drink?"

"Sure," he managed to eke out. No more than three minutes in her parent’s home and already had a gigantic crush on her. His face and his neck felt scorched. "What’ve you got?"

"Lemonade, water, iced tea."

"I’ll take a lemonade, please." He was still standing. She pointed to an armchair in the middle of the room. "Go ahead, sit down, and don’t stand on my account. I’ll be right back." She smiled and left him alone.

The young man obeyed. As he went about trying to get comfortable in the chair she’d pointed out to him, he did a head turn around the room. The place was spacious and airy, with high ceilings and nicely decorated throughout. There was a baby grand piano in the corner with an assortment of photos in various frames on top. Curious, he got up to look at them. They were mostly pictures of Kat and David, a visual history of their school attendance from kindergarten through to junior high school. He reached into the middle of the collection and picked out a silver frame. As he was getting ready to examine it, Katharina returned to the den carrying two tall glasses and a pitcher of lemonade on a plastic tray.

"I don’t believe you’re actually looking at those things," she said. "I’m warning you, don’t do it. I looked like a geek, and my brother didn’t look much better."

He turned to her, still holding the frame he’d picked up in both hands. "I think you look pretty nice myself."

She sat the tray down on a table near the armchair. He heard the ice clinking in the glass as she brought him the lemonade and a coaster. "Really? My brother says I look like a Gila monster from outer space."

"Hmm. He obviously has no clue what he’s talking about." He took the glass from her and took a sip, then set the coaster and the glass on top of the piano. Out of his sight, Kat raised her eyebrows approvingly.

Michael now was able to study at length the picture he held in his hands. It was an earlier one of David with his father taken at a baseball park, maybe late eighties. David looked about six years old. His father, tall, blond and Nordic looking, was holding him closely and pointing at the camera as if he were trying to get him to smile and look at the camera at the same time. They were both smiling broadly, almost giggling when the picture was snapped. The Nordic face looking back at him sparked something in his memory that he hadn’t thought about for a long time. He was so entranced with the picture that he hadn’t noticed how close Kat was to him now. He startled a little when she spoke.

"That’s my brother and our Dad at a father and son picnic in ‘87." She stepped over to the middle of the piano and pulled out another frame. "This one’s of my mother and me."

He put the first picture back in its place, and took the one she was handing him and looked at it. Kat’s mother was just as blond and pretty as her daughter, and they were both so fair-haired that they almost disappeared into the sunny background. The photo was of the both of them at a children’s party. Kat looked about four years old and she was wearing a frilly yellow party dress with tiny pink florets on it. Her mother was in a matching summer outfit and kneeling beside her. They looked so typically upper middle class that he had to chuckle despite himself.

"What’s so funny?"

"Nothing. I was just thinking Brady Bunch. You know, Florence Henderson?"

"Oh yeah, people say that. I have no idea why. I keep telling them there were six Brady kids on that television show and that my parents have never been divorced. But they still say it. Go figure."

"So, what about your parents. Are they going to be joining us for dinner?"

"My parents are the ones cooking."

"Your parent’s cook?" he asked incredulously.

"To hear my Dad tell it, he’s king of the barbecue grill. Or so he thinks."

A pair of muffled footsteps sounded on their way down the carpeted steps and soon David Hutchinson was party to their conversation. Michael put the photo back in its spot among the others and walked over to shake his hand.

"Howya doin, man? So, I see you’ve met my boring little sister."

"She’s not boring at all. Matter of fact, she’s a pretty good hostess."

David stifled a pretend yawn. "Yeah, well, she’s always been boring to me."

"That’s because you have no taste, man."

Kat raised her eyebrows again and gave her brother one of those, ‘see, I told you so’ looks.

David sniffed the air. "Hmmm, smells like Mom and Dad are cooking up a storm out there. We’d better check in before Mom has a cow. Knowing those two, they’d probably kill it and try to barbecue that, too."

All three of them broke out in boisterous laughter at David’s spontaneous humor. Kat took Michael’s hand. "Come on," she said, and he went along.

From the den they went a short way into the dining room and then a small hallway led them into the kitchen. Michael saw a blond woman setting out a salad on the table and he heard someone else, a male with a soothing baritone harmonizing outside. The scent of charcoal and well-seasoned meat wafted its way in doors. Mrs. Hutchinson removed her apron and smoothed her mussed blonde hair down as her son and daughter brought their guest into the kitchen. Her smile was warm and inviting as she came toward him.

"Hello there, you must be Michael." She took his hand in her own. "It’s good to have you here." He thought he heard a slight German accent in her speech.

"It’s good to be here, ma’am."

"Well, sit down, dear. It’s always nice to have one of David’s schoolmates here for a visit. Dinner should be ready in a moment or two. Um, David, why don’t you go outside and help your father bring in the main course?"

"Sure, mom. No problem." He answered and promptly stepped outside.

Michael’s heart was pounding in his chest so hard he felt like he could hear it in his ears. He felt his palms getting hot and sweaty all of a sudden and he dragged them against the sides of his dark trousers to dry them off. Any minute now he was going to see his father’s old partner for the first time since he’d been born. It was a major rush for him. When David came back into the kitchen he was carrying a big black pan of beef ribs that smelled so good it made Michael’s mouth water. Shortly after he entered, a big bear of a blond man wearing a chef’s apron, sipping a bottle of Foster’s and humming bounded into the house. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Michael. His eyes focused, then refocused again and he put the half-full bottle of beer down on the edge of the counter and then walked over to him for a closer look. He swallowed the sip of beer he’d taken. "Do I know you?"

"No, I don’t think so, sir. But I’m in the same class with David at the Academy."

He started to smile, somewhat relieved. "Oh. What’s your name?" He picked up the beer from the counter and started to sip from it again.

"Michael Starsky, sir." He offered his hand.

David’s father turned abruptly and the beer bottle he was holding slipped out of his hand and landed on the floor without breaking. It rolled back and forth on the linoleum, spilling out its contents, while its owner, Lieutenant Kenneth Hutchinson, stood stock still, his face turning ashen and his eyes going blank before everyone’s eyes. His wife rushed over and began cleaning up the mess with a dishtowel. When she was done, she picked up the near empty bottle, straightened up and looked into her husband’s eyes. "Ken, are you all right?" He didn’t answer; he was still staring at the boy. Kat let out a little wail before rushing to his side. "Daddy, are you okay?"

The blond man nodded wordlessly. He pulled a chair away from the table and sat down in it. The realization of who was standing in front of him and the ramifications it presented temporarily immobilizing him. When his son had finished setting the pan of meat down after covering it to keep in the heat, he walked over and stood behind his father’s chair, placing both hands on his shoulders. Kat did not move from her spot, remaining in a kneeling position beside his chair. Michael stood silent.

"Are you really okay, Daddy?" she asked him.

"Yeah, I’m all right, Kitten. Just in a state of shock, that’s all."

She had worry written all over her young face and she touched him on his forehead. "You sure, Daddy? You don’t look all right."

The elder Hutchinson smiled at his daughter and she slowly took her hand away. "I’ll be okay, baby." He looked up at Michael. "I just never expected this…all David ever said was that a friend of his was coming over from the training center for dinner. He never said who it was."

"Sorry, Dad." the younger Hutchinson said from above him.

He turned to Michael. "You did say Starsky, didn’t you?"

Michael nodded. "That’s right, sir." He saw the color coming back into the man’s face.

Lieutenant Hutchinson motioned to him. "Don’t just stand there, son. Sit down."

Michael took a seat at the dining room table. Elsa, satisfied now that her husband would be all right, tapped her son on the shoulder and indicated that he should help serve the food and let them talk. Kat was allowed to sit by her father’s side and listened with her hand on his knee. Recovered now from the initial blow, Lieutenant Hutchinson was able to give his full attention to his unanticipated guest.

"So, your father’s in town?"

"Yep. He’s teaching. At the Academy."

Hutch turned in his seat to seek out his son, a serious look on his face. "You never told me about that. Why not?"

"Sorry, Dad. How was I supposed to know you knew the guy? You hardly ever talk about him anymore."

Hutch nervously chuffed a laugh. "I guess I don’t, do I?"

David shrugged and shook his head as he reached into the cupboard to get plates.

Hutch took a deep breath. "So, Michael, tell me, where are you and your parents staying?

"In Bay City, sir, not too far from the school. We just brought a new house out here."

"So, Starsky’s back in Bay City, the old devil. Why hasn’t he looked me up?"

"To tell you the truth, he’s been trying to find a way to reach you, especially after he saw David in class the first day. He’s pretty anxious to get together with you again. In fact he’s one of the reasons I’m here this evening."

"No kidding?" Lieutenant Hutchinson looked a little apprehensive.

Michael nodded.

Mrs. Hutchinson returned to the dining room. "All right you two, I’m afraid you’ll have to continue this conversation during dessert. It’s time for dinner."

Michael sat back in his chair and watched the Hutchinson family work the kitchen. It was like watching a clock work, no sooner had David finished setting the table, then Kat was up helping their mother to bring the food to the table. She showed off some adept waitressing skills, placing three full plates of food in the center of her forearm and serving one to her father, the second to her brother, and the last to their guest. She smiled at Michael warmly as she did and then went back for two more plates for herself and her mother.

During dinner Michael couldn’t help but notice how she was sitting across from him, barely eating, just staring at him intently with a dreamy look in her eyes. He tried to keep his own eyes on his plate and he hoped he wasn’t blushing at the attention.

When dinner was over, Kat and David stayed in the kitchen to do the dishes, while Hutch, Elsa and Michael went out to the patio for dessert. A strong cappuccino, hot cinnamon Danish and some fresh cut fruit were the order of the evening. He wasn’t a big coffee drinker, but tried some of the cappuccino anyway. It was bitter, and he probably made some strange faces tasting it, but at least it didn’t kill him. He was glad for that. Mrs. Hutchinson sat beside her husband on the arm of the chair he was sitting in and he put his arm around her waist. He thought Mr. Hutchinson would ask him another question, but he was oddly quiet.

"How is your father, Michael? We haven’t seen him or your mother since your grandmother passed away," Mrs. Hutchinson asked, taking a hold of her husband’s left hand with her right.

Michael tried some more of the coffee. "He’s fine. He was a little down after grandma died and he had to sell her house. But as soon as he got his teaching license and they brought the new house out here, he felt more like himself again."

Lieutenant Hutchinson nodded his head. "Dealing with death can take a lot out of a person. I’m glad to hear he’s doing all right." He sipped some of the cappuccino. "I still can’t believe that Starsky’s teaching now. He actually followed through with it. I guess I didn’t believe he’d do it, not back then anyway."

"He thought it was a stretch too at first, but he’s pretty good at it. Everybody in the class thinks he’s great."

"Your father’s a good man. He’s always had a great feel for people." He swallowed hard before asking the next question. "How’s he been lately? I mean physically?" He didn’t know how much the boy knew about past events, but he wanted to find out as much as he could while he was there.

"He’s doing great. But what would really make him happy would be to be able to see you again."

"No kidding?"

Michael nodded and took a bite of his Danish. The police lieutenant was quiet again.

Seeing that her husband wasn’t going to say anything more, Elsa took it upon herself to say what he should have. "Michael, why don’t you give your father our number at home and tell him that we said to give us a call? Do you think he’d like that?" She smiled at him.

"Oh, he’d like that a whole lot. I ‘ll let him know as soon as he gets home tonight."

"All right. Why don’t you go in and find Kat and David, perhaps listen to some music or watch television in the den for a while? My husband and I need to talk."

"Okay." Michael took a napkin and his half-eaten Danish and disappeared inside the house, leaving the unfinished cappuccino behind.

She looked down at her husband, already prepared for what he was going to say.

"I wish you wouldn’t make decisions like that for me."

"Would you have asked him to call yourself?"

"Probably not so soon."

"That’s what I thought." She bent down and kissed him on the lips. "The way I see it. There’s no time like the present."

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YOU"RE THE BIGGEST PART OF ME

More than an easy feelin'
She brings joy to me
How can I tell you what it means to me
Flow like a lazy river
For an eternity
I finally found someone who believes in me
And I'll never leave
(now I've found all I need)
(beside me) Need your lovin' here beside me
(to guide me) Keep it close enough to guide me
(inside of me) From the fears that are inside of me
You're the biggest part of me

David Starsky had no doubts in his mind about his feelings or intentions towards Hannah Kaplan. It was probably about the third time in his romantic life that he was really ever that sure that he loved a woman, wholly and completely without any reservations. After much consideration and negotiation between both families and the bride and groom about the religious merits of a traditional Jewish wedding versus a non-traditional one, it was decided that the wedding would be a semi-traditional one.

After a few harried months of phone calls to each other from across two different states and through much cajoling. David Starsky finally managed to talk his old partner Ken Hutchinson into flying out to New York for his wedding and acting as his best man, along with their former Captain, Harold Dobey. The former detective had asked the captain if he would consider acting on his deceased father’s behalf as father of the groom, and he agreed. He’d wanted their mutual friend, Huggy Bear, to be his other best man, but he wasn’t able to make the flight out, although he promised over the phone that he’d be there with them in spirit.

As the guests arrived and were seated by family members doing double duty as ushers, the best man and the acting father of the groom labored in the dressing room with a nervous groom. Hutchinson stood in front of his partner, stooping low enough to adjust the man’s tie and his friend’s unusual pallor surprised him. "You okay, Starsk? You don’t look so hot."

"No kiddin’. I feel like I’m gonna throw up."

Hutch grinned. "It’s okay, Starsk. That feeling will pass, believe me."

Dobey grinned. "You’d better listen to your partner, Starsky. He knows the drill by now. The main thing is picking the right lady. If you’ve got that right, that’s half the battle." He adjusted the prayer shawl on the detective’s shoulders and stepped back to check it out.

"I hope you’re right, Cap’n."

"I am."

The groom got a misty look in his eyes as he watched both of his friends busily attending to his needs. "You know, I really wanna thank you guys for flyin’ all the way out here. Especially you, Cap. You didn’t really have to."

"Nonsense, Starsky. It was my pleasure. But I’m not doing this for my health. I’m expecting something in return for my efforts."

"Like what?"

"Like how about naming your firstborn after me?"

Hutch grimaced and cocked his eyebrow. "Harold Starsky? C’mon, Cap, you can’t be serious. You wouldn’t do that to the kid, would you?"

Dobey got a little hot. "What’s wrong with Harold? My grandfather’s name was Harold!"

Starsky patted Dobey on his shoulder. "Nothing, Cap. Harold’s a great name. Hutch was just kiddin’." Suddenly a blank look appeared on his face. "Hey, I just thought of something…what if my firstborn is a girl?"

Dobey wagged his index finger in the air and his eyes lit up like a Bunsen burner. He seemed to have come up with a great idea for a girl’s name.

Hutch laughed and shook his head. "C’mon you guys, we’ll settle this later. Right now we’ve got a wedding to go to."

==========

HEAVEN MUST BE LIKE THIS

Three weeks holed up with a beautiful woman in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania was what David Starsky called a perfect honeymoon. He shuddered for a moment thinking about what Hutch’s two honeymoons must have been like. This was a man for whom a great vacation meant spending a couple of creepy nights in an old cabin waking up with the spiders, snakes, owls and bears for company, so a honeymoon for him was probably two weeks at the Bay City Zoo. He pitied Elsa’s fate and relished Hannah’s. Reclining happily on a heart-shaped bed, wearing a red terry robe and sipping Brut champagne, he was in heaven. A fireplace roared in front of him as he waited patiently for his bride to come out to him after freshening up from the trip over.

Hannah stood naked in the bathroom mirror, considering with a nurse’s expertise what might be wrong with her. She hadn’t been feeling herself since the trip over. Her skin was on pins and needles, and she felt out of kilter, not her usual self. Though her whole body conspired against her, she rallied on, determined not to let being under the weather ruin their honeymoon. She slipped on the black negligee that he liked so much and reapplied a hint of gloss to her lips. She pinched her cheeks twice to pink them up and then smiled at herself in the mirror. Then she went to the closed bathroom door and rapped on it, paused for effect and said, "You ready out there, hot stuff?"

His ears perked up and he stood, setting his champagne glass down on an end table and untying the belt to his robe, revealing his swarthy bare chest and a pair of shorts with tiny hearts on them that he wore below it. "Come on out here and let’s find out," he answered lasciviously. When she opened the door, he smiled, opening his arms wide. "Come ‘ere, you gorgeous hunk of woman."

She walked into his arms and they kissed, his strong hands caressing her neck, his fingers getting lost in her dark hair. None of his movements were throw away. Every touch had a meaning; every word was indicative of how he felt. There was nothing insincere or selfish about the man. He said, "I love you, you know that?"

"Yes, and I love you too."

They kissed again and sat down on the bed together. He slipped the strap of the negligee off her left shoulder, exposing it, and then began kissing it; soft, warm kisses that sent shivers up her spine. He repeated the same action on the opposite shoulder eliciting the same sharp response; then they fell backward on the bed.

After they’d made love, she lay wide-awake beside her husband’s sleeping form, marveling at the rightness of him. Not only was he wonderfully intense and inventive in bed, he was as considerate of her needs as he was of his own. She gently ran the tip of her finger along the bridge of his nose, eliciting a slight twitch. She giggled at his reaction but held it in so as not to wake him. She rose up on one elbow and continued her exploration of his body, allowing her fingers to barely stroke the muscles of his stomach, then his chest and his shoulders, concluding the tour by letting her fingers luxuriate in the softness of his hair. After two weeks of pure pleasure both in and out of bed with this man, she still wasn’t exactly sure how she’d managed to accomplish winning his heart. Was it being in the right place at the right time? Luck? How did an average looking Jewess from the Bronx manage to land herself a god here on earth? How long did Eden last? Her eyes drifted over his face and she kissed him.

"Are you awake?"

"I am now."

"What would my love like to do today?"

He opened one eye and peeked out at her, then the other. "How about we lie in bed all day and look at each other?"

She smiled and grabbed a handful of his hair, pulling his face close to hers, rubbing his nose with her own. "That’s a tempting notion, but that’s not what I meant, Defective Starsky."

He sat up in bed, scruffy looking and still half-asleep. Yawned and tried focusing on the clock, but it was a blur. "That’s ‘detective’ to you. What time is it?"

She got out of bed and looked at the digital clock on her side. "Seven o’ clock, sleepyhead. Get up and take a shower, and we’ll go down for breakfast."

"Aw, can’t we just order room service and sleep in?" he whined, pulling his legs over the side of the bed anyway. "I mean we are newlyweds, for Christ’s sake."

She went over to the closet to select an appropriate outfit for the day. "David, we have been hold up in this room for two weeks. This is our last week and we are going out, do you understand?"

"Yes, ma’am." He mock saluted her. "Sergeant David Starsky reporting for husbandry duty as requested. Will there be anything else, ma’am?" He got up and leaned against the wall next to the bathroom, admiring her as she picked out the rest of her outfit. She felt him watching her. "Will you please stop staring at me and go jump in the shower?"

He stopped staring and laughed. "Yes, ma’am. Sorry, ma’am." He saluted again quickly and disappeared into the bathroom.

She shook her head and laughed, then kneeled to pick out a pair of walking shoes from the bottom of the closet. Smiled when she heard the shower water go on. The phone rang. She straightened up and flopped over onto his side of the unmade bed to answer it.

"Hello?"

"Is this Mr. Starsky’s room?"

"Yes, this Mr. Starsky’s room. This is Mrs. Starsky. May I help you with something?"

"I’m afraid I have some sensitive information to relay to Mr. Starsky that is of a personal nature. Is he there, please?"

"Ah, well…he’s taking a shower. If it’s very important, I can get him for you."

"If you could, please. Thank you."

Hannah put the call on hold and swallowed hard. She knocked loudly on the bathroom door so that he could hear her above the sound of the shower water. When she heard the water go off, she knocked again.

"Yeah?" he answered.

She called loudly through the door. "David, could you come out here, please? There’s a phone call for you."

"What’s up? Is anything wrong?" She could hear him opening the shower door.

"I don’t know. It sounds urgent though."

"Okay."

Starsky came out of the bathroom, dripping wet, a large towel wrapped awkwardly around his waist. He noted the anxious look on his wife’s face and then parked himself on the unmade bed. She sat beside him and watched his face as he took the call. He depressed the hold button and put the receiver to his ear. "Hello, this is David Starsky."

"Hello, Mr. Starsky, this is Dr. Weinberg, your mother’s doctor at the hospital. I’ve been assigned to treat her for the symptoms of her illness. I’m sorry to have to bother you on your honeymoon, but I didn’t feel this could wait until you and your wife got back." He paused. "Congratulations, by the way."

"Yeah, thanks. What is it, Doc? Is my mom okay?"

"That’s the reason for my call. I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you and your wife to cut your honeymoon plans short. You mother has taken very ill. She’s been asking for you. We’ve located your brother in the Bronx and he’s flying in tomorrow."

He looked positively thunderstruck. Hannah clung to his arm and watched his face become more and more distressed as the doctor shared the dire news. She stroked his still wet cheek and put her head on his shoulder. When the doctor was finished relaying the information, he solemnly hung up the phone.

She picked her head up. "David, what is it? What’s wrong? Is it your mother?"

"Yeah. She’s gotten worse. They don’t think she’ll…they don’t think she’s going to make it."

She wrapped her arms around him. "Oh, baby, I’m so sorry."

He stayed in a trance-like state from the time he relayed Doctor Weinberg’s suggestion to her until he’d dressed to leave. Time was of the essence he’d said, and if they waited, there was no guarantee that his mother would even recognize them when they got back. They agreed to pack and be on the plane back to New York that evening. Eden was over.

==============

The hospital waiting room was cold and antiseptic. Starsky had never really cared for them, and he liked them even less when he or someone he loved was a patient in one. His mother lay in bed, very still and barely aware of her surroundings, mostly doped up. The hospital staff told them that she’d tried to fight off the male nurse that had been assigned to her, thinking he was a prowler. She’d banged up her knees and her arms badly on the furniture and, she was so hysterical by the time the nurse calmed her down, that he’d had to sedate and then hospitalize her.

Hannah came out of her mother-in-law’s room and walked over to her husband. She put her hand on his neck and bent to kiss him there. "You all right?"

"No," he answered bluntly.

She sat down next to him. "I talked to Dr. Weinberg and he says that we should take her home. There’s really nothing else they can do for her here except keep her comfortable and sedated. Things are progressing a little faster than they anticipated."

Starsky shook his head. "I’m gonna lose her, Hannah…I know it…it always happens sooner or later to everybody I love."

"Everything’s going to be okay, hon. You’re not going to lose her anymore than you’re going to lose me. She just needs to be at home--with us."

"When can we take her?"

"Today. Dr. Weinberg says this afternoon would be fine."

"Good."

=========

YOU’RE HAVIN’ MY BABY

1980

Watching his mother slip in and out of consciousness was hard, harder than he’d anticipated it would be. He knew it wouldn’t be long before she was merely a shadow of the woman he knew and loved from boyhood. On most days she slept, on other days he and Hannah would take her out of her bed and put her in a wheelchair and they’d go out for a walk. Other times, she was plainly coherent and remembered every detail of her life to crystal clarity. It was amazing to see; yet it was agonizing. He was sitting across from her watching her sleep when Hannah walked into the room behind him. He looked up at her when she came in.

"Hey, sweetie, what’s up?"

She shushed him with a finger, took his hand and walked him out his mother’s bedroom. They went outside to the porch and sat down on the swing. She waited, studying the small crows’ lines near his eyes. "I’ve got something to tell you."

More bad news, he thought. "What?"

She didn’t know how to tell him. It was good news, but she didn’t know if he was in any condition to handle it. He stared at her. "What is it?"

She could hear the crackle of irritation in his voice and knew she should tell him soon. "I have some news for you. It’s good news. But I don’t know, maybe it’s too soon to happen. Not that there’s anything I can do about it."

"What’s so soon? Anything you can do about what?"

"David…" She held his hand in both of hers. "I went to the doctor today and well…to use an old saying, ‘the rabbit died’."

His eyes opened wide. "What? You mean--we’re going to have a baby?"

She started nodding her head and smiling, nodding and smiling, nodding and smiling, until he had to place her head between his hands to still it. "I don’t believe you."

"Believe it. I knew I felt funny up there in the mountains. I just didn’t know why at the time. Now I do. It’s confirmed."

He jumped up from the swing and swept her along with him as he did a happy twirl on the porch. "Damn," he said. "Life is great! It’s unpredictable and crazy, but it’s great!" He kissed her all over her face and neck and hugged her. "Wow, I’ve got to call everybody I know and tell them. Nick, Huggy, Captain Dobey…" He put her down pensively and stopped smiling.

She looked at him. "What? What’s the matter?"

"Oh, man, I just thought of something…Hutch. I gotta tell Hutch. This is the kinda stuff I’m supposed to share with him."

"So call him and tell him."

"Man, I haven’t talked to Dobey or Huggy since I left the we got married. Hutch told me at the wedding that Dobey had partnered him up with a female cop, and he wasn’t taking to it too well. Wait’ll they get a load of this, I’ll never hear the end of it." The smile drifted back onto his face. "Wow, me a daddy."

She patted his face, led him back into the house and walked him over to the phone in the living room and he sat down to make the calls.

===========

ALL BY MYSELF

1999

When I was young

I never needed anyone

And makin’ love was just for fun

Those days are gone

Livin’ alone

I think of all the friends I’ve known

But when I dial the telephone

Nobody’s home

 

Lieutenant Kenneth Hutchinson had the telephone receiver to his ear; he was sitting in a chair in his living room, waiting for someone, anyone, to pick up the phone on the other side. But there was no answer. This was the fourth time in two weeks that he’d called the home number for his former partner, David Starsky, and hadn’t gotten an answer. He put the receiver down in its cradle and put his head in his hands. When he looked up, his daughter’s face was in front of him.

"Hey, Daddy, anything the matter?"

He took his hands away from his years’ laden face and half-smiled. "Nothing Kitten. Just a little depressed."

"What about?"

"Your mother is insisting on something that doesn’t seem destined to happen. How well do you remember your Uncle Starsky?"

Her face descended into a frown that matched his own. "Not very much. You’re trying to get together, right?" He nodded. "Maybe I can help."

"I don’t think so, Kitten. But thanks for wanting to." He touched her forearm.

She stood up, leaned over the table and kissed him on the forehead. "What are daughters for, huh?"

He smiled at her, then got up and went outside. She looked after him and rubbed her right eyebrow with the thumb of her right hand. If there was anything she liked doing the most, it was making her father happy. Now that she knew what was bothering him, she had an idea, however vague, on how to help. She went upstairs to her brother’s bedroom, where he was lying on his back reading a copy of Auto World. She sat on the edge of his bed and purposely bounced on it twice, jostling his arm and making him lose his place. He looked up at her.

"What is it, Terror Girl?"

"Do you have that guy’s phone number? The one that came over--what was his name?"

He laid the magazine down on his chest. "You mean Mike. Yeah, I have it, why?"

"I want to ask him about something." She threw her head back. "Dad’s been in the dumps lately and I wanna see if I can help him out of it."

"You’re always being nosy. Stay out of it, sis. When Dad’s ready he’ll see the guy."

"Have you seen him lately?" She turned to look at him. "I mean he’s positively miserable. I can’t stand it anymore."

"And just what do you think you can do?"

"I want to call Michael and see if his Dad and our Dad can stop missing each other and make a date."

"You really think you can help, huh?"

"Trying can’t hurt anything. Whaddya say?"

David shifted onto his left side and opened the first drawer of his nightstand and pulled out a small, brown phonebook. He handed it to her. "Here, it’s in there. Go ahead and call him. I can’t wait to see what you come up with."

She took the book from him, thumbed through it to the S’s, and slid a forefinger down to the boy’s name. "Okay, frog face, but five’ll get you ten I’ll have Dad out of his slump by tomorrow night." She extended her left palm out to him.

He slapped it and smiled. "It’s a bet. If by tomorrow noon our Dad isn’t on his way to see Mike’s Dad, then you owe me ten bucks."

"Humph. You’re on." Kat hopped off his bed and went to her bedroom across the hall, closing the door after her. She flopped down on her bed and carefully dialed the Starsky boy’s number. When a male voice picked up the phone, she held her breath.

"Hello?"

"Yeah, hi. Is this Michael?"

"Yeah, this is Michael. Who’s this?"

"It’s Kat. Remember, David’s little sister?"

"Ohhh, yeah." She could hear a smile in his voice.

"I’ve got a proposition for you."

He bit his bottom lip. "What kind of a proposition?"

"I think I know of a way to get your father and my father together. They don’t seem to be having much luck on their own."

His hopes were dashed. "Oh," he said, sounding a little disappointed. "I guess you’re right about that. But it’s not for lack of my Dad trying. I noticed that time at dinner your father’s heart didn’t really seem to be up for a reunion."

"Oh, he’s interested all right. I think he’s just scared. So I’ve got an idea. Can you come over? About five o’clock tonight?"

His voice sounded pinched. "Sure, why?"

"Come on over, I’ll let you know when you get here."

"Okay."

As he hung up the phone he had two questions. What was her plan? And how did he fit into it?

As she broke the connection with him she had some questions of her own that needed answering. How was she, a mere teenager, supposed to get two grown men together who had spent the better part of twenty years trying to do it? She lay down on her bed and did some brainstorming, ruminating on the possibilities.

 

Continued