"Got a dead male, Caucasian. According to the ID in his wallet, he's twenty-eight-year-old Greg Erlewine." The sergeant who'd been on duty handed the wallet to Hutch. He looked inside and showed it to Starsky. No cash. Nothing else had been in the deceased man's pockets.
He'd been found lying on his stomach, shot in the back of the head. Execution style. Starsky and Hutch had been called to the scene, and were waiting for the medical examiner to arrive so they could see the man's face and get more--if preliminary--information confirming who he was.
"Yeah, what else?"
The sergeant shook his head. The three of them went through a debriefing session and Starsky took notes.
"Good thing it's not dark yet," Starsky told his partner.
The crime scene was in an alley at Twelfth and Main, and it was dark enough in the daytime. He and Hutch carefully walked through the taped-off area together. They examined the scene for any clues that might help them discover who'd killed this man and why. Was there a bloodstain on a rock? Was there sign of a struggle, either on the body or in the environment? They checked the bottoms of his shoes and the crack in his sunglasses. Nothing could be deemed irrelevant at this stage.
The medical examiner arrived not long after they had. Monica Teale had been a medical examiner with the county for many years. Starsky and Hutch liked working with her because, not only was she very knowledgeable and experienced, but she also was very compassionate. She was as tall as Hutch, wore her hair short, and they'd never seen her dressed in anything but slacks and a blouse. Her style mimicked the streamlined way in which she dealt with everything.
They returned to the body as the ME began her examination. They took more notes and paid close attention. Starsky looked away for a moment when the flashing of the cameras was getting to his eyes. "How long you think he's been dead?" he asked.
"Well, from a cursory look here, I'd guess at least eight hours. We'll know for sure after I get him back to the lab," Teale said.
"Think he was killed here?"
"Again, looks like it," she said, putting on a second pair of gloves then rolling the DB over onto a blanket with the help of her assistant. Today, Keith Winston, a grad student at UCLA, assisted her. He wanted to go into this line of work, and he wanted to learn from the best. "We're all wearing two pairs of gloves now. It's safer."
There was a semicircular bruise of approximately one and a half inches in diameter on the dead man's face.
"Bite mark going to be of much help?" Hutch asked.
"Maybe. Everyone's teeth are different. It clearly is a bite mark, and in the past five or ten years forensic odontology's come a long way. We'll take a lot of photos, as usual."
"How'd you know that was a bite mark?" Starsky asked him.
"I read an article in a police journal that you subscribe to."
Keith got the ID information from the card in the DB's wallet, and then helped her move the body onto a wheeled gurney. "I'll let you know when positive ID's been made, and someone can notify next of kin."
Processing the scene took a while. After the body was removed, bystanders were less interested and dispersed.
"Notice what our boy was wearin'?" Starsky felt something tug on the bottom of his shoe and found some dirty, pink chewing gum stretching from the ground to the toe of his tennis shoe.
"Yeah, didn't get that off the rack in Monkey Wards. Better get as much of that gum as you can for a sample." They called an evidence technician over, and he put the gum into a small container.
"Hey," Hutch called out to a uniformed officer. "You got a reason to be inside the tape?"
The officer removed himself from the scene.
"Surprised he wasn't eating a burrito," Hutch mumbled.
Starsky felt along the wall for any other bullet holes. "A cold place to die, huh?"
Hutch nodded, making notes in the margin of his checklist.
As they drove back to the station, Starsky could feel his stomach protesting. "When do ya think we're gonna get some dinner tonight? Didn't count on a double shift. But then--"
"We never do," Hutch said. "The mountains of paperwork await. How many forms do we need to fill out now?" They passed a Reagan for President billboard. "In '84 they'll be trying to get us to vote for the chimp."
After Starsky parked the car in front of the station, he noticed Hutch looking at him. "What?"
"Might miss more than dinner tonight, babe." Hutch puckered his lips slightly, and Starsky did the same back to him.
"You're somethin' I can't live without, either," Starsky said softly as they got out of the car and walked inside.
"You saying all these nice things to me just so you can have your way with me later?" Hutch asked when the elevator doors closed in front of them.
"And what if I am?" He ran a finger down the front of Hutch's chest until he got to the first fastened button on his shirt. "What if I told ya that I'm gonna do things to parts of your body that you never experienced before?"
"Good things?" Hutch laughed.
"Things that'll make you call my name to the clouds!" Starsky answered.
"Four-A and six-B, right?" The doors opened and they stepped out.
"Hutch, when'll you ever stop forgetting about seven-A?"
"They add more forms to the process every day." He opened the squadroom door for his partner, content in the fact that anyone who heard them would have assumed they'd discussed paperwork in the elevator. "But then, if it was somebody I loved, guess I'd want as much documentation as possible."
Hutch found the forms and sat down at the typewriter. Starsky got them each a cup of coffee, then sat across from him, just as they'd done a million times before. In time, a report on the deceased man was delivered, as were the coroner's findings.
"Much as I hate paperwork, I hate notifying families even more." Hutch opened the folder. "Has a father living in New Orleans. You want to call this time?"
Starsky didn't want to, but he went ahead and did it. Hutch stood beside him, theoretically proofreading their report, but Starsky knew that he was really there to help his partner through this difficult task.
After the call was made, Starsky made some final notes, and they took off for a beer and a quick dinner at a hotdog stand that was on the way to Venice Place. "Rotten news for a Sunday evening. No two are ever the same," he told his partner. "It was like the guy was expecting it. Even before I identified myself."
They double-checked Erlewine's address and left for his apartment, hoping that, as it often did, a thorough search of the victim's home would yield some crucial evidence.
"Fourteen sixty-four Richfield. Pretty pricey area. And what does he do for a living?"
"Says he's a vacation consultant. Melrose Travel. Guess we'll find out what that means when we stop by his office. Sounds to me like some kind of fancy name for a travel agent."
They pulled up in front of the apartment building. "Bring that--" Starsky started to say when he realized that Hutch was going to bring the folder of information with them, anyway. Hutch opened the door for Starsky, and they walked in. "Manager's in apartment one," Starsky said, then rang the buzzer.
A woman said "hello" into the small speaker, and they identified themselves. She let them into the building and met them in the hall in front of her apartment. They could hear her television. Mrs. Quimby was about fifty, though she dressed much younger. She wore jeans and a t-shirt that had a picture of "The Dukes of Hazzard" on it. "Hi, I've been expecting you."
"Here's our search warrant. "
"Oh, I don't need to see that," she said. "It'll be nice when this is all over. Maybe I'll be able to rent the apartment to someone who pays his rent on time."
"Do you need me to stay with you or anything?"
"No, ma'am, Mrs. Quimby," Starsky said, hoping she'd let them go in alone. A civilian following them around, asking a lot of questions, only made things like this take longer.
"In that case, I'd just as soon stay down here and get back to my studying. I'm working toward my real estate license. Here's the key."
"Thanks," Hutch said. "We'll want to interview you later on. Will you be available a little later this afternoon?"
She looked at her watch. "I'll be home, but it'd be better if you managed to avoid coming between three-thirty and four o'clock. 'Love Connection.'"
"Sorry?" Hutch asked.
"'Love Connection'," she repeated. "On TV. I guess you're usually working at that time, so you can't watch it."
"Okay," Starsky said. "We'll be back later."
"We'll try to be back before three-thirty or after four o'clock," Hutch said.
"I'll be here." She tore a piece of paper off a pad she had been holding. "And here's my phone number, so you won't have to come all the way back down to ask any questions."
The partners smiled and headed to the elevators, as Mrs. Quimby went back into her apartment. "Smooth as silk," Hutch said.
In the elevator, Starsky smiled and nudged his partner with his shoulder. "Love connection."
They unlocked the door of apartment 314 and went inside. It looked like some decorating magazine had furnished the place. "What does this decor remind you of?" Starsky asked.
"Buy it off the rack because you have no personality," Hutch replied. They did the standard pre-search to be sure there was no one hiding in the closet, no dead bodies on the couch, no booby traps in the laundry basket. "You take the low road and I take the high road?" he asked.
Starsky nodded. They put on gloves, new regulations. "Nothing interesting in the fridge," Starsky said, eyeing the array of wines and take-out boxes, three foil-wrapped in the shape of swans.
"And what might've been in there?"
"Oh, I dunno. A rat? A snake? It's amazing what people have in their refrigerators these days." He spoke with a Groucho Marx accent. "How that snake got into my refrigerator, I'll never know."
The early stages of the search turned up nothing. "Maybe he wasn't home that often, being a travel agent and all." A wide assortment of expensive looking luggage in the bedroom closet seemed to confirm that supposition. Starsky checked out the closet while Hutch looked through drawers.
"Where's this guy's address book? You'd think everybody would have an address book, if only for Christmas cards." Hutch was getting frustrated already. Starsky knew his partner had a bad feeling about this case.
As Starsky was re-zipping a duffel bag, Hutch came up to him with a handful of frames. "Found these in the back of a desk drawer." He held one up; it was Erlewine with a blonde woman. "She comes over, sees the photo framed on the shelf. He scores points." Now he held up the one of Erlewine with a brunette. "Same with her." Erlewine had the exact same smile in each of the photos. There was nothing behind his eyes. His smiles seemed to be painted on. Unfortunately, the people he was with probably couldn't see that.
"How do you figure this guy can afford this place? How can he go out to restaurants that give you a swan instead of a doggie bag? And how can he afford to romance this bevy of beauties?"
"That, Starsk, is one of the million dollar questions."
When they arrived at Venice Place, Starsky opened the trunk and pulled out a bunch of his clothes on hangers, and also a small bag that contained underwear and toiletries. "You carry it up. It'll look like dry cleaning or somethin'." Behind the hood of the trunk, Hutch mouthed the words "I love you," and gave Starsky a look that made him feel like he was either going to cry or come or faint, or all three at any moment. Hutch had brought some of his things over to Starsky's a week or so earlier. This was one small outward sign of their commitment to the relationship. You belong at my home; I belong at yours. "No doubt about it," Starsky sighed. "We're gettin' way too sappy."
As soon as Hutch locked the door behind them, Starsky was there. "I missed you, Blondie. You've been teasin' me all day, too."
"Who, me? Why would I do something like that?" He giggled as Starsky tickled him on his chest.
"You're getting so bad."
"How bad?" Hutch had a gleam in his eye now. Starsky was readying himself for the pounce.
"You're nearly gettin' as bad as me!" he laughed.
"Bad joke. There are ways that the police have for dealing with perpetrators such as yourself." Hutch took hold of one of Starsky's arms. "We have ways of teaching you lessons."
They walked into the bedroom, where Starsky positioned Hutch with his back against the wall. "I don't know, Sergeant. I've been pretty bad. Think you got a special lesson for me?" After the first contact his thigh had with his lover's groin, his partner was on fire.
After Hutch pulled off his shirt, his hair was all flyaway, wispy from the static electricity. When he was completely nude and going for Starsky, it added to his overall look of crazed desire. "Partner," Hutch said, "tonight you are mine. Tonight your body takes flight."
"Oh, shit, your skin is so smooth," Starsky said as they embraced in the center of Hutch's bedroom. He glanced out at the greenhouse. "It's like we're in a jungle or something."
Hutch tilted his chin up and kissed him, mouths hungry for one another, tongues dancing together. "I got a vine you can swing from, Tarzan," he said, placing Starsky's hand around his erect penis.
This was the first time Starsky'd had his hands on his lover's body in far too many days. He got reacquainted fast. The hardness, the impressive circumference and length. The tip of his thumb teased the glans, petting with feather touches, while his fingers squeezed and pumped the shaft. Starsky was able to wedge his own cock between Hutch's balls and thigh. He moved backward toward the bed, Hutch traveling along with him in a dance step that was becoming more and more familiar, more and more special. He sat on the bed and laid back, Hutch on top of him. Their bodies ground together, and Starsky gasped for breath at the burning sensation of penis against penis. The outer, soft skin, the steel hardness, the folds and sensitive spots, and the power all collided in a beautiful explosion of sparks showering through his body, igniting nerve endings. They kissed, tongues mimicking the joining, the pace and need in their genitals.
As quietly as he could, Starsky reached into the drawer and pulled out the bottle of lube. He drew his tongue and lips from his partner's chest up to his face. Once he knew Hutch was about to lose it, thanks to a deep kiss and the pulsing of a well-trained knee, he was sure his partner was overcome. Soon, his lube-slick hands were massaging, squeezing, slurpy suctioning Hutch's formidable cock and balls. "Come on, lover. You know you want it. It's been too long."
Hutch had reached a good and serious rhythm, humping into Starsky's fist. He backed up, lying on the bed with Hutch sitting up beside his knees. He pulled his knees as far up onto his chest as he could, shifted his balls out of the way and, as his partner licked his lips, proceeded to draw a thick trail of lube from the seam below his balls downward. Glancing up now and then just to be sure he was making it as good as possible, making sure to have his lover's rapt attention. "Yeah, Blondie. I want you already. Need you. In here."
"Sure you don't want to work up to this, babe?"
Starsky pushed a pillow beneath his butt, arched his back and slid a slippery finger into his asshole. Hutch changed his posture to be right below him, a hand on the underside of each thigh. Hutch was under his spell now, eyes looking hungrily as Starsky's finger slid out, then in, out--almost out, then in even farther.
Then Starsky produced his new toy--a dildo he'd purchased not long ago--and started to put it to work. "See how ready I am for you, Hutch?" His partner shook his head as though he was trying to convince himself that this was all a mirage that he had to snap back from.
"I tried to get one that was your size," Starsky smiled. "But this was the biggest they had." He lifted his head and shoulders a bit more and reached out. In a flash, five fingers scattered around his partner's balls and straining erection, his left pointer finger still stretching himself open. Hutch gasped.
He reached for Hutch's hand and wrapped his lover's fingers around the base of the toy. "Come on, boy. Help me out here. Get me all ready for you."
Starsky could tell he was unsure. He pushed forward so his butt slid up onto Hutch's bent knees--just inches from those succulent balls. He grabbed for Hutch's right hand in the process, coating him with enough lube to get the job done. "Give it to me, Hutch. I wanna take you soon." Starsky looked at Hutch's face. It gave him chills to see how much his partner wanted him. The bright blue of his eyes taking on an almost frightening, colorless fierceness, the fierceness of desire. "Let it go, babe."
Hutch began by drawing his fingers down the back of Starsky's thigh. Starsky molded his hand atop Hutch's. Together, they eased this new creature into Starsky's body. Starsky clenched his ass muscles on the first in-stroke, intent on letting Hutch feel the resistance as he tried to pull back out again. On subsequent plunges, he got more and more into it, pulling Starsky's cock and balls up and out of the way. "You'd do this so soon for me?"
Starsky nodded. Hutch eased the toy back in, his hand tugging at Starsky's cock, fingers running rampant along his balls. Suddenly, Hutch got up and hurried to the bathroom.
Starsky was panting. "Hey, Blondie! Lube's in here already."
Hutch returned. It wasn't the lube he was after. "Look what I got, partner." It was a handheld mirror. "Ever seen yourself ready to take me? Want to see?"
At first, for some reason, the idea scared him a little. But then, he was intrigued. He had no idea what he looked like in this state, and seeing could be as much a turn-on for him as showing him was obviously a turn-on for Hutch. "Okay, babe. Show me what's goin' on down there." Hutch held the mirror in place, and Starsky's eyes moved between Hutch's face and the reflection as his partner slowly removed the dildo. He couldn't suppress a grunt when he saw himself stretched open like that. And then, when he simultaneously saw and felt Hutch's sweet finger outlining the gaping orifice before snaking on inside, he closed his eyes and groaned.
"Want more?" he heard his partner ask.
"My back's gettin' a little sore. Think I can relax and let you handle this yourself? And maybe we could retire Hutch Junior for the evening and I could start to connect with my partner."
"Hmmmm," was all he said, planting a slobbery kiss onto the inside of Starsky's left knee. "You just relax, lover. Relax and tell me what feels good." He pulled Starsky's thighs forward so that his calves would rest against his shoulders. Starsky's feet tingled a little from being up in the air, and now he was free to give in. Free to become simply a quivering mass of sensations, a receptacle--giving, taking and demanding--one who absorbs sensations, one who tells his man what he wants and likes.
Starsky leaned his head and shoulders on three piled pillows. His attention zigzagged between focusing on his feelings and heavy-lidded glimpses of his partner, trance-like, visibly calculating so many strokes, so many leniencies. Starsky laid back, eyes closed, allowing him to push against those long, talented fingers. "Ahhh--oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, babe. Give it to me. Give it to me, Hutch."
He pushed forward, calves pressing against his partner's shoulders. Opening his eyes slightly, he saw this beautiful, blond gold man just about to lose control as his fingers plunged deeper--deeper, spread out wider. His partner's eyes were darting now from meeting his eyes to eyeing the expanding orifice that reacted to every touch. Occasionally, Starsky could feel tugs to hairs on his leg, as his partner's grinding genitals clenched and then released. Each new sensation seemed to magnify them all.
"Hey, curly," Hutch said, licking a long swipe on the underside of Starsky's thigh. "Time for you to pick a number between two and four."
He could actually feel Hutch's chuckle ripple through the fingers that were sweetly invading him. He suspected Hutch had known that would be his answer.
Parting his knees, he marveled at the sight of his fine muscled, tan-golden man, like a merman, lithely moving up and between his thighs. The smooth, bronze flesh seemed to emerge or sprout from some secret special place in his own body, from some ancient time or island of blond gods. The thought made him smile, and the smile soon blossomed into a moan of delight, as the fingers showed just how long and well trained they were. Starsky liked the look of how the dark hair on his legs set off his sleek blond partner. And always, they fit together perfectly. Hutch moved with grace and purpose, and when his face met Starsky's, their lips found each other, and suddenly he no longer seemed to feel the force of gravity pushing him into the bed.
When they arrived at work the next day, there was a note on their desk saying that Captain Dobey wanted to see them at nine o'clock. When the time came, they went into his office and found Detectives Collins and Leavitt there. After a round of hellos, Starsky went to the coffee maker. Hutch said he didn't want any coffee. They were seated and got down to business.
"Leavitt and Collins have a case like yours from last night. Happened a few days earlier," Dobey allowed Collins to continue.
"Sam Patton. another male, Caucasian, thirty-five, skid row alley, gunshot in the back of the head, the same caliber as your guy. We think they may be connected."
"So, you want to take over Erlewine?" Starsky asked, raising the cup of coffee to his mouth. Hutch snagged the cup just before it reached his lips.
"No. You've got it backwards," Dobey said, as he walked around to the front of his desk. "Leavitt and Collins have to go to San Francisco to testify in a case they worked on five months ago. I want you two to take over the entire investigation. I've got to go meet with Chief Ryan. The four of you can work things out." He grabbed his jacket and left.
Starsky took back the coffee cup and moved to sit on the corner of Dobey's desk. Hutch went out to get some paper, returned and sat down primed for note taking. Leavitt and Collins filled them in.
"Our man was married, no record, worked for the city. Nothing from coworkers or family, nothing you can sink your teeth into. Not that we discovered after two days, at least."
"His car missing, too?" Starsky asked as he handed the cup of coffee to Hutch.
"Yeah, at first. Then it turned up in some residential area in Culver City. No prints, no signs of foul play. It's in the garage. You guys'll want to take a look at it."
"How was yours dressed?"
Leavitt answered. "Dobey said yours was in some pretty expensive clothes. Ours was no gutter rat, but doesn't sound like he was as well-to-do as your boy." Collins cleared his throat and Leavitt looked up at the clock. "We gotta go get ready for the flight."
"Good luck. Dobey knows where we'll be staying if we can help clear anything up." They handed them a folder of papers and excused themselves.
Returning to their paper-covered desks, Starsky shook his head. "Hardly get a chance to start on this one and," he slapped the Patton folder on top and dropped into his chair. A jolt of pain brought back memories of last night's events, and he gritted his teeth in a grimace that turned into a sly smile. "Gotta get myself a cushion," he whispered as the partners leaned forward putting the papers in order. Hutch gave him a sideways glance and one of those naughty schoolboy smiles that Starsky liked so much.
Unfortunately, that evening Starsky fell asleep before anything could be done about it.
The next day, they looked at the last hours of Erlewine's life, interviewing his neighbors, coworkers, any relatives they could find. No one they spoke to had ever heard of Patton. They looked into his bank records. Had he recently deposited or withdrawn any large sums of money? All rote, all steps they'd taken a hundred times before with so many other cases.
They went over Erlewine's rap sheet. He'd been brought in a couple times on domestic violence warrants. At the time of his death, there were two restraining orders out against him. They made note of the names of the officers who had worked on those cases and planned to contact them soon, as well as check out the incident reports.
After reviewing the incident reports, they were able to determine that the two women who had filed them--two and three years ago, respectively--seemed to still be living in the area. Perhaps their victim was not entirely innocent in the whole scenario. As there was just cause, they would be able to contact these women and perhaps get some insight into the life of Mr. Erlewine.
"You gonna make the request for copies of the orders and all that crap, or should I?"
"Starsk, why should I care which one of us calls in for the copies?"
"I was just offerin'."
"Go ahead and call then. You thought of it first." Hutch walked over to get a cup of coffee and just as he'd turned to walk back to his desk, another detective left the room in a hurry, causing the door to hit Hutch and some coffee to spill on his shirt. "Ayyyaaaaah! That's hot. That's hot!" he said, as he pulled the shirt out in front of him and dabbed at his chest with some paper napkins.
"You're just upset about last night," Starsky said when Hutch had returned to his desk.
"No, I'm not." He pushed the lap drawer of his desk closed, and Starsky could see and hear that a now-broken pencil had been caught in there.
"Oh, yes, you are," he said in a hushed sing-songy voice. "You're upset about last night."
Starsky rummaged in his desk and produced a small white envelope, handing it to his partner. "Tonight, then," he said as Hutch took it.
His lover's face turned one of Starsky's favorite shades of pink when Hutch opened the envelope and looked inside. There was one small item in there: a single screw. It did bring about one of the first of few Hutchinson smiles he'd seen yet that day.
They gathered what information they could on the two women who had filed restraining orders on Erlewine, and prepared to make their initial phone calls, hoping that each would agree to talk to them. Unfortunately, all they'd been able to learn about the two women were their names and contact information.
"Carmen Goldberg and Lynn Sloane," Starsky read from a report. "Goldberg works at Pacific Insurance on Twelfth, and Sloane works at the Stanton Hotel. Who should we call first?"
"Goldberg had the most recent restraining order. Don't think we ought to call either of them tonight, though. Too late. Try and catch them tomorrow, early evening. Hope they'll be home. Or earlier tomorrow...."
"Both women have pressed some pretty serious and personal charges against this guy. Best not to surprise either one at work with this unpleasant blast from the past," Hutch said as he got up to get them both more coffee.
"Doesn't anybody ever make a fresh pot of this stuff? What time is it?" Starsky asked, noticing that the coffee, which was thick by now, and tasted like mud, had left a bitter and gravelly substance on his tongue.
Hutch had requested the photos from Erlewine's home, and they saw that they'd been delivered. Out of their frames now, they were easier to set out and look through.
"Our boy was busy. Think one of these women is Goldberg or Sloane?"
"Could be." Starsky stopped him. "That one looks familiar, don't ya think?"
"Yeah," Hutch said thoughtfully. Whoever it is, I can't remember where we've seen her. If we've seen her recently, she's done enough to herself that she looks plenty different."
"I'll request a copy of that one. Any others?"
"Nope," Hutch shook his head. We can return these. Good to have them available."
"My ma writes all kinds of information on the backs of every picture she takes. Why couldn't our boy have done that?"
"Look at it this way, Starsk. The less your mom has in common with this guy the better, huh?"
Starsky smiled. It was a silly remark, and it served its purpose. He felt that much less stressed about the case.
They worked long hours, and became frustrated that there seemed to be nothing that would point to any connection between the two dead men, or any reason that either--or ideally, why both--would have been killed.
Sitting at their desks the next afternoon, they began to brainstorm--tossing out any possible similarities or connections between the two, no matter how remote or absurd. They looked a little similar. About the same age. Similar enough bank accounts. Did they go to a gym? A tailor? Did they both know the assailant, and did they both have the same type of relationship with him? They looked through each man's personal effects, the items that had been on him at the crime scene.
Both killings had been at night, both had been dead about the same amount of time when they were found. Maybe one or both of them didn't normally dress in suits, but were dressed up to go out somewhere in the evening.
Both Patton's and Erlewine's suit jackets had labels from Dominik's, a men's clothing store on Innes. Hoping this link between the victims might prove significant; Starsky and Hutch took a ride out to the store. It was small, and Starsky couldn't tell who were the customers and who were the salespeople, because everyone was dressed alike. All in conservative suits, it could've been a board meeting at IBM.
A man seemed to be walking around him, eyeing him suspiciously. "May I congratulate you on your choice of our establishment," he finally said. "Clothes do make the man, and each man grows up sometime. Forty regular?"
Starsky laughed. "Wait a sec. I'm not here to buy a suit."
"Some appropriate casual wear, then? If you'd like, it's perfectly permissible to leave the store in your new purchase, and we can, uh..." He walked around Starsky again. "We can dispose of your...." He pinched a small fold of leather jacket between his index finger and thumb. The salesman wore a navy suit, with a vivid red handkerchief in the front pocket of the jacket.
"Wait, now, will ya? I'm not a customer."
The man simply looked at him. He was blond, with eyes that some would call green, but they looked virtually colorless to Starsky.
"I'm, I mean, we're police officers. Detectives." He looked around for Hutch and finally found him. A very tall saleswoman was pursuing him with a dark-colored, double-breasted jacket on a hanger. Finally, Hutch was at Starsky's side, saleswoman in tow.
"I have this perfect robin's egg blue Villini dress shirt in the back. Perrrrfect with those eyes." Before anyone could answer, she'd walked away and disappeared behind the cash registers.
"Mister, uh --"
"Frederick," he said, carefully enunciating the "er" in the middle.
Was that supposed to be his first or last name? Though he looked and acted the part, Starsky didn't see Frederick as being necessarily cut out for this trade. He was built like an athlete, and came across a bit more like a secret service man than a salesman in a clothing store. His suggestions came across more as commands. Starsky glowered at him and Hutch continued.
"Mr. Frederick, as Detective Starsky has told you, we are police officers. We're here because we have a few questions about a couple of your customers."
"Is there a manager we could speak to? Someone who'd have access to your books, receipts?"
"That would be Ms. Bowman. And here, she's returned."
"What did I tell you?" she asked as she held up a light blue shirt under Hutch's chin. "The mirror is...."
"Ms. Bowman, we aren't here to buy clothes. We're police detectives, investigating two of your customers, Samuel Patton and Gregory Erlewine. Could you check your records and see when these men last were in your store?"
Hutch gave her the names and produced photos of each man. "Well, there's no doubt that's Mr. Erlewine. And what did you say the other gentleman's name was?"
"Patton. And how is that spelled?"
Starsky looked at Hutch, who spelled it out for Ms. Bowman. In short order, she'd recovered the most recent receipts and information cards for both. Each had signed using a credit card in his own name. Addresses matched. The only thing that was at all different was Erlewine's listed occupation. Talent agent. "Can we take these, or at least get copies?" Starsky asked. She made them photocopies and followed them to the door.
"I'll bet I can guess your inseam," she said to Hutch.
"Not while I'm on duty," he said with a smile, and they left.
"Can I guess your inseam, Detective?" Starsky asked as they drove.
"You can guess it. Hell, you can measure it--any time you want!"
As they sat at their desks eating Chinese take-out for dinner, Starsky allowed himself to think the worst. "We aren't getting anywhere with this, Hutch. There was, what, forty-eight hours between Patton and Erlewine's murders? What if there's a third one on the way?"
"I know, Starsk. I was thinking the same thing. Wish we'd been able to find more social contacts for Erlewine. There's something we're just not seeing."
When they finished eating, they decided to retrace some of their steps, starting with the scene of Erlewine's murder.
Starsky shook his head. "It's too much, sometimes, y'know? I mean, someone died here and nothing's changed. It's as though it never happened." He felt Hutch's hand on his back.
"Careful, partner. You're always reminding me not to get too philosophical about it all."
"Yeah," Starsky said, as they got into the Torino. Their efforts were bringing them no place.
They received a report on the car radio from a uniformed officer who had met with some friends of Erlewine's. Apparently, a female friend had phoned to see if he wanted to go out that evening, but he'd declined, saying he had to return a book to the library. "I didn't see any book at the scene, did you, Hutch?" Starsky said with a sarcastic grin on his face.
"Nope. Guess he was off having fun, fun, fun. Or at least that was the plan." When they got in the car, Starsky entertained his partner with his repertoire of Beach Boys favorites.
When they returned to the station, Minnie Kaplan brought up the reports they'd asked for. "Looks like your boy wasn't going to win any Mr. Popularity contests," she said. "Officers commented that Mr. Erlewine was belligerent and uncooperative," she read from a page. "Hey, Fred Norton and I are pals. I'll tell 'im that you want to talk to him." She set the reports on the desk. "Hey, Starsky, my boy," she said with a wink, "you've been looking more and more, uh, relaxed every time I see you. Found the real thing out there this time?"
"Yeah. Think I just may have," he said with a smile, feeling a blush capture him. It took a lot of effort to avoid looking at Hutch, but he did.
Minnie squeezed his face so his lips puckered. "I'm happy for you, David," she said and, after saying goodbye to Hutch, left the room.
When his eyes finally did meet his partner's, the amount of love he saw there nearly blew him out of the room on a cloud. He cleared his throat and picked up the first page. "Looks like three years ago, when this first restraining order was actually issued, Sloane and Erlewine were living in the San Diego area. Now they're both living here. Goldberg filed her complaint here and is still in the area.
"What kind of business did it say Erlewine was in? Wasn't something where he'd be making the kind of money where he could necessarily afford that car and those clothes."
"Right. Can't say that Mr. Fred-er-ick would have quite that many glorified downtown travel agents as customers. What do you say we call those women now?"
Hutch picked up the phone, hit a button and began to dial. "Hello? Carmen Goldberg, please. Ah, Ms. Goldberg. My name is Kenneth Hutchinson, I'm a detective with the Bay City Police Department, and I'm working on a case in which your assistance and some further information from you would be very helpful. It's concerning a restraining order that you filed with our office against one Gregory Erlewine back in November 1977. I can totally understand that, Ms. Goldberg, but let me assure you that under the circumstances, you have absolutely nothing to fear from Mr. Erlewine. See, I am looking for your assistance in the investigation of his recent death--" He pulled the phone a little ways away from his ear, put his hand over the mouthpiece and whispered, "Not sure if that sound is shock, or joy, or what."
The phone conversation continued. "No problem. Yes, he was found dead about a week ago, and we're looking into the circumstances surrounding his death. My partner and I would like to meet with you to ask more details of the circumstances back in '77; anything you think might be helpful to us in this investigation. Certainly. That would be no problem." Starsky nudged him. Hutch wedged the phone between his shoulder and ear, reached down and wrote "meet her at her home" on the back of a scrap of paper. Starsky nodded. "Well, for us, the sooner the better. We're pretty a--. That's right. It's good of you to understand."
Hutch put his hand over the mouthpiece once more. "She's checking her calendar." He motioned for Starsky to hand him the small black binder that they used for tracking appointments. "Ms. Goldberg? What's that? Wednesday afternoon?" He flipped through some pages. "Two o'clock? Yep, that works for us. Now, if you could--. Was that East Ninth? Okay. We'll be there. Once again, my name is Detective Hutchinson, and I'll be accompanied by my partner, Detective Starsky. Fine. We'll see you then."
"We wanna try and talk to both these ladies on Wednesday?"
Hutch scanned the calendar and gave him a little shrug.
"You call her or should I?" Starsky asked.
"Why don't you call this one," Hutch said, standing up. "I'm gonna visit the john. Be right back."
"Want me to wait 'til you get back?" Starsky called after him.
"Whichever," he said as he walked out the door.
Starsky climbed up to sit on the corner of Hutch's desk, double-checked the number and called the second woman for what would probably be a replay of the Carmen Goldberg call. It rang three times. He looked at his watch. And then a man answered. "Hello?"
"Hello. This is Detective David Starsky, and I'm calling to speak with Lynn Sloane."
"This is Lynn Sloane. Is there some trouble, Officer?"
Starsky grimaced. "Uh, I'm not sure I have the correct number. I'm calling in regards to a restraining order that a Lynn Sloane filed with San Diego police in August 1977."
"Against Greg Erlewine?" the man asked.
"Y-yes. That's it exactly."
Hutch returned and sat back down. He started to go through some papers, but Starsky nudged him with the toe of his sneaker. "So you're saying that you are the Lynn Sloane who filed for this restraining order, sir?" He emphasized the "sir," and had no doubt that Hutch was taken as off-guard as he was. He leaned forward. Starsky motioned, offering to let him listen in on the earpiece, but he shook his head no.
"Yes, that's me. I'm Lynn Sloane. It's a family name. A lot of people call and expect to talk to a woman. It's understandable, I guess. Especially in this situation. What do you need to know? I never expected to hear Erlewine's name again. Never wanted to, at least."
"Well, Mr. Sloane, uh, we don't mean to make this too unpleasant a task, but we'd like to meet with you regarding Mr. Erlewine. It would be helpful to us in a case my partner and I are currently investigating."
He heard Sloane grunt a little. "Not surprising, really. Yeah, I guess I'd be able to talk to you. I--"
"Sorry, I just wanted to make sure my wife wasn't home yet. I could talk to you, but I'd really like this to be the end of it. My wife and family don't know anything about this. If we could meet somewhere besides my house?"
"We'll do everything we can to make it confidential and convenient for you. You could come down to the station and talk to us here. Would that work out?"
"Yeah. That'd probably be okay. When do you want to meet? You have some kind of timeframe in mind?"
Starsky put his hand over the mouthpiece and mouthed, "When?" to Hutch, who pointed to the coming Wednesday's date on their calendar. Starsky ran a hand through his hair and nodded. "Actually, yes, Mr. Sloane. We have some time this coming Wednesday. Virtually any time before 2:00 p.m."
"Just a minute." Starsky got a pen and heard Sloane rustling a paper. And then, unexpectedly, the man became nervous, speaking softly and quickly. "Hey. My wife just got home. Can I callyaback?"
"Sure," Starsky said, speaking quickly caught up in the man's obvious predicament. "The number is 555-2740,extension 338. Just leave a message if we're not here. Detectives Hutchinson or Starsky."
"Hutchinson or Sparky; 555-2740. 'Kay. I'll call and confirm within twenty-four hours." Dial tone.
"Holy shit!" Starsky spat after he hung up. "What the hell was this Erlewine guy up to, anyway?"
"Sounds like he was up to just about everything," Hutch smiled and slapped him on the thigh after scanning the room. They were alone. "What time is it?" Hutch asked softly. "Suddenly I want to take you home and see about doing some restraining of our own."
Starsky held a folder near his mouth, leafing through its contents. Deliberately looking away from his partner, he said, "Anyone ever tell you that you have a really dirty mind, Sergeant?"
"Um, yeah," Hutch said. "My partner tells me that all the time."
That night, they were at Starsky's apartment. Standing by the window, Starsky thought about how nice Hutch looked in the setting sun. "I am primed for you, partner," he said. Standing before him, his hands gripped Hutch's wrists, then, locking eyes with his partner, he slowly moved up his arms, loving the firmness of the muscles beneath his fingers. Finally, he held Hutch's face, and they spent a moment just looking at each other. "It's all, just. "
"I know," Hutch said. "I feel the same way."
Starsky pulled his lover's face to his, and his tongue explored the dark sweetness of Hutch's mouth. He wrapped a leg around Hutch's thigh, setting a familiar rhythm, unashamedly taking a small dose of the connection he needed.
Soon, Hutch suggested they move the party into the bedroom. his eyes seemed ultra blue as he lay beneath Starsky framed by the blue bedspread. The need was too strong to indulge in much foreplay. A hand between his lover's thighs confirmed that Hutch felt the same way. Starsky sat up a little and unbuttoned his shirt. "I'm gonna take my clothes off, and then I'm gonna take yours off. Peel off your shirt. Pull down those jeans." He teased his partner with his knee. "You don't have to do anything."
"I like that idea," Hutch said, stretching his arms over his head. "I'll just lie here and enjoy the show."
Starsky had pulled one arm out of his shirt when the phone rang. "We're not here," he said.
"Starsk, it could be the break we've been waiting for."
"Could also be Simmons and Babcock lookin' for two more to round out a poker game." Grudgingly, he answered. "Starsky."
When he heard a nervous woman's voice on the phone, he gestured to Hutch and tilted the receiver a bit so they could both listen at once.
"Detective Starsky? I'm calling because I have some information that I think you may be looking for about those two murders."
Hutch reached over to a night table and got a pen and pad of paper, and handed them to Starsky. "Okay, definitely I'm interested. What's your name?"
"Look, I don't feel like--"
"Fine. Just give me something that I can call you."
"You can call me, um, Gretel."
"Okay, Gretel, what kind of information do you have?"
"Well, I knew Erlewine, and he was--" She paused.
"Gretel, are you there? What's going on?"
"I can't stay on the phone. I think someone's listening to my conversation. Can I meet you somewhere?"
"Yeah, you name it. Where and when?" Hutch jumped up and put his shoes back on.
"Turner Beach. Place called Lucky's Tavern. Do you know it? I can be there in thirty minutes at the most."
"We know it. How will we know you?"
"I can't I don't feel safe. I'll find you. I know what you both look like. I'll be there." She hung up.
"You want to take my car? A little less conspicuous?"
Buttoning his shirt, Starsky answered, "Conspicuous I don't care about. I just wanna get there, and quick as we can. Take your heap, and we might end up in an auto body shop while our lady leaves us for no-shows. Come on, Hansel, sounds like Gretel's at least fifteen minutes closer than we are."
When they arrived at Lucky's Tavern, they parked, went inside and sat down at the bar. "She'll know us, she said?" Hutch asked. As they stood side by side talking, a woman in a halter-top jostled her way in between them and then slowly walked away. They looked after her, and she simply smiled. "Still got your wallet?" Starsky asked his partner.
"Somehow I don't think that was Gretel."
Sitting down at the bar, they ordered a couple of beers and looked around the room. Pretty good crowd for a Thursday. No one seemed to be looking at them, or for them. "She should'a got here before we did," Starsky said. He asked the bartender if anyone named Gretel had left a message. The bartender said no. "Think Gretel's going to be able to leave us a trail of breadcrumbs?"
After about a half-hour, they started thinking that their lady informant was a no-show. Starsky reached for his beer, and the side of his hand touched the sticky bar top. He grimaced and stuck a cocktail napkin into a glass of water. Hutch gave him a little elbow jab. "Guy in the baseball jacket," he said softly. When Starsky looked around, he told him, "He's over there. Pretend that you're watching the guys play darts." Starsky got him in his sights. "He's been eyeing us for a while now."
While the distance, cigarette smoke and crossfire of mingling patrons made it difficult to see the man clearly, he could make out enough to get a fair take on him. He seemed jittery, hands going in and out of his pockets. Kept messing with his hat. Holding the glass of beer up in front of his mouth, Starsky said, "Maybe he's lookin' for us. Maybe we should help 'im out?"
"You got it." A glance between them communicated the tactic they'd take. This called for Hutch to go outside. He acted like he was saying goodbye to Starsky then left the tavern, while Starsky got up from the stool, feigning drunkenness. The guy in the baseball jacket was between him and the restrooms. "Hey," he said to the bartender, "which way's the john?" As he started walking, the guy stayed where he was, probably thinking he was being inconspicuous, even though he was a muscular guy.
As Starsky got nearer to him, he shifted around enough that Starsky could never clearly see the guy's face.
Starsky readied himself for an encounter with this unknown--and, therefore, unpredictable--man.
Finally, when he was about three feet away, the guy bolted out the door, Starsky in pursuit. When Hutch got to him, he produced some kind of a weapon; it looked like it might have been a tool of some kind. Hutch didn't let him hit him with it, but in the scuffle, he managed to knock Hutch over, long enough to get to his car and take off with a squeal of tires. They jumped into the Torino and high-tailed it after him. "Who the hell is this guy?" Starsky said as he turned a sharp corner, his butt actually leaving the seat for a second as if he were on a roller coaster.
"Starsky! This guy's a lunatic. We don't even know if he's involved. It's not worth killing yourself over!"
Hutch's words didn't affect him. "He knows something, all right. It's our first lead." He wiped sweat off his forehead. "The only thing close to a lead we've had in a week on this whole case."
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