Sing a Song of Gladness and Cheer
by Theresa Kyle

SHSVS, Episode 804, Part 4

Back to Part 3

They were both silent in the car as they drove home. Finally, Starsky broke the silence.

"Hey, I could use a break," he said. "Wanna go play some Ms. Pac-man or Frogger at the arcade? I feel lucky tonight."

"No, thanks." Hutch didn't share Starsky's enthusiasm for arcade games.

"Okay, how about if we go see that new movie, Tootsie, with Dustin Hoffman? I hear Jessica Lange is great in it."

"Yeah, I heard that, too, and I'd like to see it sometime, but another night, huh, Starsk? I'm really wiped."

"Yeah, me, too, I guess." Starsky sighed. "Some weird case, huh? I'd give a year of my life to know what it was Lila was going to tell Isak the day she died, about the kidnapping."

"I wouldn't mind knowing that myself."

"What'd you think of Witby?"

"He struck me as a square guy," Hutch said after a moment. "And he seemed like a good cop. If he thinks Henuber didn't do it, chances are he didn't."

"Yeah. But the rest...shit. I really don't like to think of Larry Magoch causing his own baby's death and then letting somebody else go to the gas chamber for it. I mean, he was an icon, Hutch. Like John Wayne, like Roy Rogers--the all-American hero. I remember reading about him going to schools in the thirties and forties, tellin' kids to be good, to never drink or swear and stuff like that. When he became a big hit in movies, he stopped smoking, and when somebody asked him why, he said it was because he didn't want kids finding out he smoked and then thinkin' it was okay just because Larry Magoch did it. He stood for decency and honesty and--"

"Truth, Justice, and the American Way. I know. But, Starsky, you know lots of famous people have feet of clay. Look at Wally Stone, the brilliant actor who killed off members of his Wolf Pack because he blamed them for being sent to prison. It's entirely possible Larry Magoch had feet of clay, too. And his being involved in his son's death would explain a lot of things--like, for example, Lila not having any pictures of her child anywhere, not even in the baby book."

"You're sayin' she felt so guilty about what her husband did--if he did what Witby said--and how she'd covered up for him, that she destroyed all the photographs of the baby?"

"Yeah, I think it's possible. And guilt would explain why she could never talk about the kidnapping. And it would explain that question she asked us--she was afraid of going to jail for her own son's death, knowing there's no statute of limitations on murder. Suppose this happened," Hutch suggested. "Larry somehow causes the baby's death, buries his body on the beach, and then he and his wife cover it up with the fake kidnapping. Then, all these years later, Sam Riordon shows up. Lila knows he's full of it, that the baby is dead, but she's terrified that the publicity that would be generated by his going to the LAPD, or the papers, or both, might mean someone, maybe some smart reporter, will find out the truth. She panics, thinking she might go to jail for taking part in the cover-up--and, even worse, her husband's good name would be destroyed. She calls her assistant, telling him she wants to talk with him the next day about the case--maybe she wants some advice from a friend, or just a sympathetic ear. And she comes to see us, knowing we're cops, to try to find out if she'll go to jail for her part in covering up her child's death. But before she can talk to us again, or talk to her assistant, Sam Riordon shows up again. She loses her temper and threatens to--I don't know what, but she threatens to do something if he doesn't drop the whole thing, something that's so awful Riordon loses it and kills her. That would fit in with everything we know, wouldn't it?"

"Except Riordon is left-handed."

"Yeah," Hutch said reluctantly. "Although he could've swung backhanded, or maybe he's ambidextrous. Okay, how about this. After Lila talks to us she calls her lawyer and tells him about the fake kidnapping, maybe wanting legal advice. And Smigiel gets so outraged he goes to her place and kills her."

"Outraged why?"

"I don't know. Maybe he was full of righteous indignation and thought he was avenging the dead baby, although I admit that's a stretch. Or maybe he was in love with Lila and in a jealous rage that she'd loved Larry and not him. He did say he'd known them in the 1950s, and maybe his pretending not to care about Lila when we talked with him on the golf course was just an act."

"Or maybe Smigiel's in love with Isak Wolf, and Lila threatened to fire him from his assistant's job, so they both offed her. How 'bout that?"

"Okay, so we still don't have any idea of a motive," Hutch admitted. "But tomorrow we'll find out whether Riordon is the real Larry Magoch, Jr. or not. When we know that, that'll answer at least a few of our questions. At the very least, if we find out the Magoch baby is alive, it'll nix the theory that the Magoches killed their child and faked the kidnapping."

"Yeah," Starsky said. "That'd be good news, anyway. I hate like hell to think about Larry Magoch killing his own baby, even accidentally, and then covering it up and letting somebody else go to the gas chamber. That'd make Simon Marcus look like a Boy Scout."

Hutch woke up abruptly, realizing he was alone--and that he didn't hear Starsky in the bathroom, either. Looking at the clock on the nightstand, he saw it was just a little after 3:00 a.m.

He felt his heart rate step up, wondering if something was wrong--three years after the shooting, he still found it hard to get out of mother-hen mode at times--then calmed himself. Starsky was probably just in the kitchen, having a late-night snack or something. But it wouldn't hurt to check. Pulling on his robe, he walked downstairs.

And found Starsky in the living room, wrapped up in an afghan, watching a black-and-white movie on TV.

"Starsky, are you okay?"

Starsky looked at him. "Oh, hi, Hutch. Yeah," he said. "Just... It was weird, but I woke up thinking I'd heard a baby crying. But there was no baby. So I came down here and turned on the TV, and here's a Larry Magoch movie on. It's called No Hope for Harlan."

Hutch sat down on the couch, pulling on Starsky's afghan. "Hey, quit it," Starsky complained. "I'm freezing, Hutch."

"Come on, Starsky, share. There's more than enough for both of us."

Starsky reluctantly let Hutch have a few inches, and Hutch pulled the afghan over his lap. Larry Magoch, in flawlessly perfect cowboy regalia including a huge white hat, was telling a villain he would never get away with it.

"Wonder if he used bleach on that hat," Hutch said. "Did they have Clorox in the Old West?"

"Quiet, will you? I'm watchin' this."

Hutch watched a few more minutes, but he found the plot boring and predictable, just as he had at age ten. He couldn't deny, however, that Magoch was a very handsome man--and very charismatic. Even with the corny dialogue and the hackneyed plot, you found yourself watching him and caring what happened to him.

The bad guy left Larry Magoch alone and tied up--humbled but not defeated. And of course, Magoch did what any cowboy hero would do in the same situation. He burst into song.

Hutch had to admit Starsky was right--Magoch had a good voice. It reminded him a little of Elvis's. Then he frowned. There was something about that voice that bugged him.

"Nice music, huh?" Starsky whispered.

"Yeah," Hutch mumbled. Dammit, what was it about that voice? Or was he just tired? That was probably it, he thought. He was so spooked by this case he was feeling hinky about everything.

Slowly, he became aware that Starsky, sitting next to him, had moved a hand under the afghan and was rubbing his thigh. Caressing it. He looked up, and saw Starsky was still staring at the TV screen. But his hand was massaging Hutch's leg.

Hutch somehow managed to keep himself from squirming, but it was rough. His penis was getting hard, straining at his robe, and he could feel his pulse pounding down there. He felt weak and shivery.

"You're gettin' hard," Starsky murmured.

"Yeah," Hutch whispered.

"Man, you're so horny lately, babe. Must be all that health food you been eating. Or are you taking vitamins?"

"Yeah. Vitamin S," Hutch said huskily.

Slowly, Starsky's hand moved up and gently stroked Hutch's hard penis through the robe. Hutch bit his lip, but he couldn't resist pushing against the friendly hand. A few panting breaths escaped him.

He cast another glance at his partner, but Starsky was still watching the TV screen as if it fascinated him. Watching TV as he continued to massage Hutch through his robe in a slow, sensual rhythm that made Hutch want to scream.

Finally, Hutch couldn't stand it any longer. "Please," he gasped out, hardly able to push that one word through shaky lips. "Please...."

Starsky promptly reached under Hutch's robe, and Hutch gasped again. He was so hard he was ready to burst.

Starsky didn't tease him any longer. His head dropped down to Hutch's lap, and quickly he engulfed the swollen, throbbing head of Hutch's cock deep into his mouth.

"Oh, God," Hutch moaned, resisting the impulse to grab Starsky's head and push his erection down his throat, not wanting to choke him, but oh, God, it felt so damn good. He closed his eyes, and his head fell back as Starsky's tongue worked its magic on him. His balls ached, his skin tingled, his blood pounded, his cock throbbed....

Then he exploded, crying out, thrusting deep, out of control. Thrusting and writhing helplessly in the grips of a brain-shattering orgasm.

Starsky kissed him. "God, Hutch," he whispered. "You're so hot." He stroked his sweat-damp hair.

Hutch, still weak, moved a hand under his partner's robe, but Starsky pushed it away.

"No. In bed, babe. Need to do you right," he said huskily. "C'mon."

Hutch obeyed.

Starsky stared at the woman. "Oh, God," he pleaded. "It can't be true. Please tell me it's not true."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Starsky," the woman behind the desk said apologetically. She was wearing a faux-pearl necklace and a blue polyester dress, and had frosted hair. "You are overdrawn exactly $163.92." 804-4.jpg

"Shit. And I have at least three checks outstanding, making about 150 bucks more I'm gonna be overdrawn before long. It can't be, Hutch. It just can't be." Starsky was staring at the computer printout she'd given him. "I somehow forgot to record the check I made out for the repairs to the Torino earlier this month. Five hundred dollars! How could I have forgotten that?"

"It happens to the best of us, partner." Hutch looked at the woman. "Look, Mrs. Farley, my partner and I have had a lot on our minds lately, what with the Christmas season and all. What do you say I just give you a check for the amount he's overdrawn and enough extra to cover his outstanding checks, and you forget about the fees?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Hutchinson, but it's bank policy to charge for returned checks. He owes us fifty dollars--ten dollars per check."

"Okay, suppose we do this," Hutch said coolly. "You charge him the fifty dollars and we pay it, then we both withdraw our accounts right now. And we also tell the guys we work with--and we're cops; you've heard of the fraternity cops have, we're like one big family, and we'd all kill for each other--never to bank at this bank again. No more checking accounts, no more savings accounts, no more mortgages or loans or money market accounts or retirement accounts or Christmas clubs for any cops in this town, ever again. What would you think of that?"

The woman blinked behind her tortoise-shell glasses. "That's blackmail," she said finally.

"One might say that about this bank, too," Hutch said, still cool. "That it's extortion to charge my partner fifty dollars for one innocent mathematical error. Fifty dollars was what I paid for a month's rent on my first apartment."

The woman took off her glasses and looked at Hutch. Then she looked at Starsky.

"Well, perhaps I've been a bit hasty," she said finally. "Let me go talk to my manager. I'll be right back."

She left her desk and went into an enclosed black glass cubicle, where, supposedly, her manager was housed. The second she was out of earshot, Starsky hissed at Hutch, "Are you crazy?"

Hutch gave him a look. "You referring to anything specific?"

"Threatening a bank, that's what. You can't do that. They'll...they'll call the FBI. Robbing a bank is a federal offense."

"We're not robbing. We're negotiating. Look at us as a modern-day Butch and Sundance."

"Yeah, right," Starsky muttered. "Just remember, when we're in adjoining cells, that this was your idea."

Within moments, Mrs. Farley returned and sat down at her desk. "I just talked with my manager, and he says that, in view of the fact that the two of you have been such good bank customers, the fees could be waived," she said primly, just as if there had never been any question about it. "However, in order to avoid being charged any fees in the future, Mr. Starsky, we suggest you keep your account balanced. And right now, you should deposit an amount sufficient to cover any outstanding checks, as well as the amount you're overdrawn."

Hutch reached for his checkbook. "My account's in this bank, so I assume a check from me would be acceptable?" he asked politely.

"That will be fine," she assured him, apparently not hearing his sarcasm. "Just make it out to Mr. Starsky, and it will be deposited immediately into his account."

Hutch made the check out for $350, to cover all of Starsky's checks, including the outstanding ones, then Starsky endorsed it and handed it over.

"I'll pay you back, Hutch," Starsky said, as they walked out of the bank minutes later. "Fifty bucks a paycheck for the next seven paychecks, okay?"

"Don't worry about it, Starsk. After all, we're partners, right? What's yours is mine and what's mine is yours."

"Well, I'm payin' you back anyway. It's only fair, since it's me that messed up." He looked morose as they climbed into the Torino. "Shit--d'you know what this means?"

"Yeah. It means you're going to be feeling so grateful to me tonight that maybe I'll get some," Hutch said with a grin. "At least, one could hope."

A faint whisper of a smile crossed Starsky's face, then died just as quickly. "I don't mean that. I mean...Saturday's Christmas. And I won't be able to get you that present I wanted to get you. In fact, it means you won't be getting any present from me at all, since I'll be scraping by until my next paycheck now." He stared out at the parking lot. "It was a juicer, Hutch," he said unhappily. "It was a beautiful new Champion juicer, a color they call avocado. The kind I saw you admire in the health food store a couple months ago. You really like carrot juice, and this way, you could make your own every day if you wanted. It makes peanut butter and ice cream, too."

Hutch felt a pang, but quickly suppressed it. The juicer didn't matter; only Starsky's feelings mattered. "It was a wonderful thought, Starsk, and it's the thought that really counts," he said sincerely. "And you can get it for me some other time, if you still want to. Like my birthday."

"That's not 'til next August."

"All the more time for me to look forward to it. Look," Hutch said reasonably, "I can't pay for your present now, either, since that check I gave our friends at Pacific Savings was just a little less than what I was going to spend on your present. So why don't we just forget about giving each other anything for Christmas this year? After all, we have our house, we have each other--what do we need with material commodities, huh?"

"Yeah...maybe." Starsky didn't look entirely convinced. "But, Hutch, this is Christmas. I mean, we should give each other something. But now I just barely have enough to make it 'til next payday."

"Yeah, me, too. But look, Starsk, we could give each other gifts that don't cost anything, if you want," Hutch suggested. "Like maybe you could do the laundry when it's my turn, or I could cook a meal when it's your turn, or something like that."

"But we do stuff like that for each other anyway. I mean, if you don't feel like doing the laundry, I do it. There's nothing very special about that." A pause. "I really wanted to give you the juicer, Hutch."

"I know, sweetheart. I wanted to give you a big gift, too."

"I still can't believe I screwed up my checks. And all because of this car. Shit, maybe this is gettin' to be too expensive to own anymore. I pay more on repairs than I would on car payments. Like you pointed out when we were talkin' to Jake last month, it is pretty old. Maybe...maybe I should call Jake and ask him if he still wants to buy it."

He sounded like a man who had one foot in the grave. Hutch couldn't stand it. Although he could hardly believe the words were coming out of his mouth even as he spoke, he said, "Over my dead body."

Starsky shot him a look of surprise and--yes--pleasure. "What?"

"You can't give up the Torino, Starsky. It's part of you. Part of us. Part of our history together. Okay, maybe someday the time will come when it just doesn't run anymore, and we'll have to give her an honorable retirement. But not until then."

Starsky was too moved to speak for a moment. Then, when he did speak, it was in a hushed tone, as if he were saying a prayer. "Thanks, Hutch."

He put the Torino in gear and squealed out of the parking lot toward Metro, Hutch hanging onto the seat, but--for once--not saying a word in protest.

Lotus, a beautiful Japanese-American woman with long black hair that gleamed like a mirror, looked at the two Xeroxes. Then she looked up.

"Well?" Hutch said.

"Off the record? Two entirely different people wrote these letters."

"Yeah?" Starsky said.

"Uh, huh," the woman said. "Of course, handwriting isn't an exact science, and these are facsimiles, not originals, which I would insist on seeing if I were testifying in court. But I've been doing this for more than ten years, and I'd stake my reputation on this: these letters were written by two different people. The second is a clumsy imitation of the first."

"What's your opinion of the first letter, Lotus?" Hutch asked. "Off the record, still, if you want."

"My opinion?" Lotus touched the Xerox copy with a silver-colored fingernail. "It was written by someone who was quite literate but pretending to be illiterate. Like that word 'non-sequential'--perfectly spelled, even though he supposedly couldn't spell words like 'letter' and 'instruction.' Also, it was written by someone who had read about famous kidnappings of the past. The signature, Johnson--are either of you familiar with the Leopold-Loeb case in the 1920s?"

Hutch shook his head, but Starsky said, "Yeah, I read a little. Teenage thrill-killers in Chicago. Two boys beat a neighborhood boy to death with a hammer, then sent a ransom letter to the parents to try and get some money from them."

"Basically, yes," Lotus said. "In any case, the ransom note they wrote, they signed it 'George Johnson.' It's my guess that's where this letter writer got the name Johnson. And the 'Dear Sir'--that's the salutation from the first and most famous Lindbergh ransom note, complete with the exclamation point. And the word 'stricly' was in one of the Lindbergh notes, too, misspelled exactly the same way, as I recall. Whoever wrote this, in my opinion, had read about these kidnappings and was imitating them."

"In other words, not a gangster, not an experienced crook, but someone who was trying to sound like one," Starsky said.

"Exactly."

"Anything else?" Hutch asked.

"Just feelings. You feel like listening to some hypotheses?" Lotus smiled, showing white but slightly crooked teeth. "I guess you would call it a woman's intuition."

"Go ahead," Starsky said. "My partner and I have learned not to argue with women's intuition."

"Hokay, here goes. This first letter is surprisingly gentle in tone, not threatening at all. Most kidnapping notes promise bodily harm to the victim, even say they'll send severed body parts if the demands are not met. This letter has none of that. The writer, in fact, says over and over again that the baby is well, is unhurt, is in good hands--making me think that maybe the writer was trying to reassure herself the baby was all right, or maybe she wished the baby were all right, if it was already dead by that point. In other words, in my opinion, this letter was written by a woman."

"You're kidding," Starsky said.

"No, I'm not. And," Lotus added, "if this were a current case, I would suggest you take a long, good look at the mother of the child--especially if she reads a lot."

Hutch took in a sharp breath, remembering what Isak had said at Lila's gravesite about her having been a voracious reader. Had Witby been right? "Why?" he heard himself ask.

Lotus touched the copy, once again, with a silver-tipped hand. "That phrase, 'Your son is mine.' Most kidnappers would say 'We have your son' or 'Your boy is in our possession,' but 'Your son is mine'--it's a kind of a semi-Freudian slip. Also, as I said, the gentleness of the letter in general, especially the lack of threat of harm to the child." She smiled again, this time apologetically. "Of course, if I had to testify to any of this, I wouldn't. It's pretty flimsy. But those are my impressions."

"Thank you, Doctor," Hutch said, reverting to calling her by her title. "We really appreciate it."

"Anytime." Lotus stood up. "You feel like telling me what case the notes are from? They look familiar."

"The Larry Magoch case," Hutch said.

Lotus widened her eyes. "That was before my time, but that was a real hot one. Are you re-opening it?"

"No," Starsky said shortly. "All the principals are dead."

"That's too bad. Well, if you find out I'm right and Larry Magoch's wife had something to do with kidnapping her own son, don't tell me about it. I saw a Larry Magoch movie once, when I was a kid in Japan, and he was wonderful--and so handsome. I was in love with him for years afterwards."

She walked out, and Hutch looked at Starsky.

"Fans," Starsky said. "They're everywhere."

"Yeah." Hutch put the Xeroxed ransom notes back in the file.

That afternoon, Starsky walked into the squadroom, and Hutch, who had been going through papers on the Magoch kidnapping from the LAPD, looked up.

"I have some news," Starsky said, not looking very happy about it. He flopped down in his chair across from Hutch and propped his Adidas-clad feet up on his desk. "The hell of it is, I don't know if it's good news or bad news."

"Lay it on me," Hutch said.

"Actually, I have two bits'a news. First of all, Riordon's fingerprints didn't match. He's not the Magoch baby."

Hutch let out a breath. "You're right, I don't know if that's good news or bad news. Although to Sam it'll probably be bad news. Funny, isn't it? He seems like a fairly intelligent guy, and yet he believed this fantasy all this time. Maybe because his mother believed it. Or maybe he just wanted to feel important, feel as if he was something other than just an ordinary vocational counselor from Phoenix."

Starsky shrugged. "People believe what they want to believe. Did you know there's a whole cult of people who believe Elvis is still alive?"

"You mean he isn't?" Hutch pretended shock.

"C'mon, it's true, Hutch," Starsky said seriously. "A lot of people think Elvis didn't die in 1977, just because they don't want to believe the King is dead. Maybe Riordon wants to believe the Magoch baby's still alive, just because he can't stand the idea of a little two-year-old baby being murdered like that. Well, hell, I don't want to believe it happened either." Starsky sighed. "I hope Riordon doesn't cry when we tell him. I really didn't enjoy seein' him cry yesterday."

"Yeah, me neither. So what's your second piece of news?"

"Oh." Starsky flushed a little, as if embarrassed he'd forgotten. "Riordon's polygraph score was plus twelve. The guy who did the polygraph just told me, although we'll be getting a formal report later."

"Good Lord," Hutch said, genuinely impressed. In the scoring system the BCPD used, anything lower than minus six was considered lying; plus six or higher was considered the truth; a polygraph score between minus six and plus six was considered "inconclusive." But in all the years Hutch had been on the force, he could never remember anyone getting a plus twelve, the highest of passing scores.

"Yeah," Starsky said. "So, since he says he didn't kill Lila, odds are pretty good he didn't."

"Great," Hutch said sarcastically. "So where are we now?"

"I guess we're nowhere." Starsky looked at the copious pile of papers on Hutch's desk. "Unless you found something in all that junk the LAPD sent over."

"Actually, I did find out two things," Hutch said.

"Really?"

"Well, nothing that'll really help us with our current case," Hutch qualified. "But two kind of interesting facts about the Magoch case of 1956."

"Lay 'em on me."

"Number one: Henuber was innocent."

Starsky blinked at him. "What? You mean Witby was right?"

"Yeah. And I have to admit, it didn't even take superb detective work. Anyone, even you, could've come to the same conclusion looking at these files."

Starsky gave him a sour look. "Why don't you just tell me what you found out, huh?"

"Well, in my opinion, Henuber wasn't innocent of extortion. I think he was guilty of that, since all the experts in the file agreed he wrote the second ransom letter, and, after all, he had the ransom money in his house. But Witby was right--according to the LAPD's files, at least two handwriting experts at the time agree with Lotus--he didn't write the first ransom letter. Not only that, but that actor who lived in the neighborhood and testified at the trial that he'd seen Henuber near the Magoch house the day the baby was taken--he was lying. When the police first talked to him, according to the police report, he said he hadn't seen any strangers in the neighborhood that day at all--more evidence that was hidden from the defense. The two big pieces of evidence, besides the ransom money, that convicted Henuber--both out the window. But there was one more thing--Henuber had an alibi."

"Are you serious?"

"Yep. Apparently, Witby didn't know about it. It's possible the cop who made the report was threatened by the DA, or someone else in authority, to keep him quiet, or maybe he was just transferred somewhere so no one would find out. But Henuber was with a friend the day of the kidnapping, helping the friend paint his house, and he didn't leave his friend's place until about ten that night, long after the…kidnapping was discovered. The friend died before the trial, but he gave a full statement to the police shortly after Henuber was arrested. It's right here in the damn file."

"Shit," Starsky said.

"Yeah," Hutch said tightly. "My guess is the case wasn't getting solved, the public was crying out for blood, and the DA had to get somebody, and fast, or his hoped-for political career would go down the toilet. So when the police found the ransom money in Henuber's garage, he fabricated or distorted the rest of the case to fit. The son-of-a-bitch bastard. It's too bad he's dead, because I'd love to bring him up on charges of corruption and fry his ass."

"Yeah. Me, too. So what's your second conclusion? Or do I need a stiff drink before I hear it?"

"You'll need a lot of stiff drinks. Here it is: even though our friend Sam's not the Magoch baby, neither was the baby they found on the beach."

Starsky looked stunned. "You can tell that just from those files? How?"

"Because, according to the autopsy, the body of the baby was twenty-nine inches long. But according to Mrs. Magoch's baby book..." Hutch held up the blue-covered book they'd liberated from Lila Magoch's desk. "…which has measurements she took of the baby a week before the kidnapping, the baby was thirty-two inches long."

Starsky blinked. "Oh, man. Three inches' difference. And there's some stretching of bones and cartilage after death, so if there was any discrepancy, the baby would've been bigger after death, not smaller. How come no one ever noticed that before?"

"Probably because no one ever saw Mrs. Magoch's baby book before. But there it is--Henuber wasn't the Magoch kidnapper, and there very well may have never even been a murder. Witby's instincts were right on the money."

"This still doesn't prove the kidnapping was faked, though, Hutch. There could've been a kidnapping; they just never found the real perp. Or the right body."

"Yeah. But from what our friend Witby told us, how nothing in the case made sense from the beginning, and from what I looked at today, I think he was right--there never was a kidnapping. And I think that was why Lila was terrified of any kind of publicity--because she knew it wouldn't take much for someone to find out, or at least suspect, that fact."

"But dammit, Hutch, I still can't believe Larry Magoch and his wife killed their own baby. You think it's possible that even though it was a fake kidnapping, the baby's still alive?"

"I don't see why they would've faked a kidnapping for a live baby. Do you? More likely they just disposed of the body somewhere where no one could find it, and Larry ID'd the wrong baby because he thought it would close the case."

"Yeah, I guess. Shit, Hutch. Why do people do stuff like this? How could he do that to his own baby, even by accident?"

"We're not really sure this is what happened, Starsk. It's all still just theory," Hutch said sympathetically. Starsky hated it when kids got it.

"Yeah. I know. But what you're sayin' makes a hell of a lot of sense." Starsky sighed. "Although we still don't have a clue as to who killed Lila. Hell, we don't even know if the fake kidnapping had anything to do with her murder at all. Maybe Isak or Smigiel got fed up waiting for his inheritance and just happened to kill her the day after she meets up with Riordon. Shit. There oughtta be a law against coincidences happening in a murder case."

"Hey, guys," Lizzie called, and when Hutch looked up, he saw the attractive blonde cop was standing at the doorway. "Some guy is looking for both of you," she said. "Someone named Riordon."

"Oh, great," Starsky said sarcastically. "Our day just improves by leaps and bounds."

"You can tell him we're in here," Hutch said. "We're only in hiding on alternate Wednesdays."

Lizzie called out, "Mr. Riordon, in here." Within seconds, Sam Riordon walked into the squadroom, his fists clenched, his face dark with determination. Apparently, he was spoiling for a fight.

"I've waited all day," he said, his voice taut with anger. "I've waited the whole damned day and you never called me!"

"Mr. Riordon, it's only four o'clock," Hutch said mildly.

"I don't care! I took that damned polygraph, I let you search my apartment and my car, I would've stood on my damned head if you'd asked me to, just to find out about those fingerprints! And I've been waiting all day, afraid to even take a damned leak in case I might miss your call, but not one peep out of the phone except a wrong number! Dammit, you promised to tell me today!"

"All right, all right, sit down," Starsky said.

Sam ignored the offer, glaring from one detective to the other. His fists were still clenched.

"What is it?" he demanded, and his voice quavered, despite his obvious efforts to keep it steady. "Do they match?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Riordon," Hutch said gently. "They don't match."

Sam looked at him in silence for a few seconds. Slowly his fists unclenched, but there was no expression on his face whatsoever. In fact, Hutch thought his face looked very much like a man's he'd seen in one of his early days as a cop, whose legs had been amputated in a car accident.

"Here, sit down," Hutch said, standing up and helping Riordon to a chair. Sam sat down numbly.

"There's no doubt?" he asked.

"No, no doubt at all," Starsky said, as gently as Hutch had. "Our expert said he didn't think he'd ever seen two pairs of prints less alike."

Sam let out a breath. Then another one. And Hutch, despite his cynicism, couldn't believe Riordon was thinking about his lost chances to be on the Donahue show, or that now he was just an ordinary vocational counselor from Phoenix again. He was only thinking he had almost had an identity and it had been stripped away.

"Mr. Riordon, you're still the same person you were before," Starsky said. Apparently, he was reading the same things in Riordon's face that Hutch was. "This doesn't change who you are, or the fact that your adoptive parents loved you very much."

Sam looked at Starsky. "But who am I?" he said plaintively. "Who am I now? I don't...I thought I knew who I was, and now I don't anymore."

"A lot of us know who our birth parents are, knew our grandparents, know our family tree back several generations, but we still struggle with self-identity," Hutch said. "It can be a long road sometimes, finding out who you really are. But that doesn't mean the search has to be unpleasant. You might find you enjoy it."

Riordon nodded. "And I'm not...I'm not giving up," he said. "Maybe someday I'll find my birth parents, my real ones."

"There are a number of resources around for adopted children looking for their biological parents," Starsky suggested. "There's even a place here in town, called Parentsearch, it's made up of volunteers that put you in touch with genealogical databases and stuff like that."

"Yeah, I've kind of avoided those kinds of places up to now," Riordon said. "I guess I was so sure I was Larry Magoch's son, I didn't want to explore other possibilities. But now, maybe, I'll try them out. There's a good one in Phoenix, where I live; maybe I'll try going there when I get home. That is, if I'm free to leave the state. Am I?"

"Yeah," Hutch said. "You passed the polygraph, so you're no longer a suspect. But we would like a forwarding address, to contact you if anything turns up."

"Oh. Okay." Riordon took a business card out of his wallet and scrawled a few words on the back, then handed it to Hutch. A quick look told him the young man had given him the same address that was on his driver's license, in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Thanks," Hutch said.

Riordon stood up, still looking despondent. Apparently, hearing he was no longer a murder suspect hadn't cheered him at all. "Guess I'll fly back to Phoenix tomorrow, since there's no more reason for me to stay here. Hey, are you any closer to solving Mrs. Magoch's murder?"

"We're making some progress," Hutch said--the same standard line he'd used on Rose.

"I hope you find him. Mrs. Magoch didn't deserve to be killed like that. Well, thanks for everything, and good luck on solving your case."

"Thanks," Starsky said sincerely. "And good luck to you, too."

After he walked out, Lizzie came in, followed by Arturo. "Hey, what'd you do to that poor guy?" she kidded. "He looks like he just lost his best friend."

Hutch said, "We had to give him some bad news--he's not the missing Magoch baby."

"Ah, that's too bad," Arturo said. He knew all about Riordon, Hutch had told him that morning. Then the handsome Hispanic added jokingly, "I was getting all pumped at the idea of being on TV, giving an interview to Dan Rather. 'Yes, Dan, I know Starsky and Hutch, the men who found the famous Magoch baby'."

"That's not even the worst of it," Starsky said. "He passed his polygraph test, so he's not even a good suspect anymore."

"Does that ruin your case?" Lizzie asked sympathetically.

"Nothin' could ruin this case," Starsky said definitely. "It's so fucked up it'll never get unfucked."

"I'm not sure 'unfucked' is a word," Lizzie said.

"Starsky's of the opinion that if Shakespeare could make up words, so can he," Hutch said.

"Well, who can argue with that logic?" Arturo said with a grin. "Oh, hey, before I forget--Carolyn wanted me to ask the two of you to join us for Christmas dinner. She says she worries about you two bachelors starving to death over the holiday, but I think she really just wants you to come by and spoil your godson a little."

Hutch grinned in return. Spoiling Arturo's little son, Kenneth David, was on his top ten list of favorite things to do. "That sounds really great, but Starsky and I have already decided to have Christmas dinner by ourselves this year. Rain check?"

"Sure. How about New Year's dinner instead?" Arturo offered.

"Sounds great."

Lizzie gave both Starsky and Hutch an apologetic smile. "I warned him the two of you would probably want to be alone together on Christmas, but try to tell a man anything," she said. "Hey, merry Christmas, huh? I'm taking tomorrow and Christmas Eve off as a kind of mini-vacation--Lori and I are going up to San Francisco--but the two of you have a great holiday, okay?"

"Yeah, okay," Starsky murmured for both of them, as she and her partner walked out. Then he looked at Hutch.

"You don't think she--?" Hutch began.

"Nah," Starsky said definitely. "No way."

"Minnie knows."

"Yeah, well, Minnie has ESP. Lizzie doesn't." Starsky stood up. "Speaking of which, my ESP is tellin' me it's time to go home."

He walked to the coat tree to pull on his leather jacket, and Hutch found himself enjoying, as he always did, the delectable sight of his partner's round, firm butt under his tight jeans.

Suddenly he couldn't wait to get home.

They were in each other's arms the second they closed the front door. In each other's arms, kissing, struggling to pull off jackets, holsters, shirts, and pants as they still kissed, as they pressed close together, wanting, needing to get closer, ever closer....

They walked up the stairs together, fell onto the bed, naked, still kissing, still pressing close, caressing each other with eager, seeking hands. As if in silent agreement, they didn't reach for the lubricant, they didn't move into position for a sixty-nine, they just went on kissing, went on touching, went on clinging together tightly as they pushed, groped, panted. Still kissing as they brought each other to explosive, simultaneous orgasms.

They fell back, gasping for breath.

"You know something?" Starsky said, after a while. "I think I fell in love with you at first sight."

Hutch cast him an unbelieving look. Starsky grinned a little.

"Yep. The day I first saw you at the Academy I felt something like a jab right to the old solar plexus, just lookin' at you. Before we'd even said anything to each other, I had a feeling you were gonna be important in my life."

"You never told me that before."

"Yeah, well, I guess I never told you 'cause you'd think it sounded stupid. But I think I was in love with you for a long, long time, even though I didn't really realize it until after Gunther. Shit, Hutch, if it hadn't been for me getting shot, we might've wound up just being friends for all our lives. Scary, isn't it?"

Starsky's casual reference to getting shot struck Hutch like a blow. He looked away quickly, but not in time.

"Hutch? What is it?"

"Nothing."

After a beat: "This the same 'nothing' that's causing your nightmares?"

"What nightmares?"

"Oh, come on, Hutch. You're talking to a guy who's been closer to you than breathing for years, who knows you like he knows his own DNA. I know you've been having bad dreams again, more than once, too, even though you won't talk about it."

Hutch felt sudden tears sting his eyes. And he didn't know where the hell they'd come from.

"Hutch...Hutch." Starsky reached out and squeezed Hutch's shoulder. "Hey. It's okay. Everything is okay. What's to be ashamed of, having a few bad dreams? Now why don't you tell me about 'em, huh?"

Hutch kept his face averted. Tears were still stinging his eyelids and he was clenching his jaw, knotting his fists to keep them from falling. "I...the dreams are all different," he mumbled. "Sometimes, I dream that I wake up and you're missing, I run through the house looking for you, and you're nowhere to be found. Sometimes, it's the shooting again. I run around the side of the Torino, and you're lying there, there's blood all over you... I run like hell to cover you, but it's too late. Sometimes, I'm talking on the phone with Dobey, holding that damned ping-pong ball, not wanting to let go of it because it was one of the last things you'd touched before the shooting. He tells me I have to get there right away, and I run like hell again, but...your heart has already stopped. You're gone...I've lost you."

He let out a breath. It seemed to hurt to breathe, like he himself had been shot, or like he'd been beaten up and broken some ribs, and the ribs were stabbing him with every breath he tried to breathe.

"Why do you think you're having those dreams?" Starsky's voice was gentle. "I mean, it's been three years since the shooting, Hutch."

"I don't know." To his embarrassment, Hutch felt a tear tremble at the bottom of his eyelid, stinging, then drip slowly over. It splashed on his face, itching, but he didn't reach up to brush it away; he didn't want Starsky to see him wipe his face. "I had these nightmares for a while--after Gunther--then they stopped, then they started up again and stopped again. And now I'm having them again. But there doesn't seem to be any logical reason for...for why I have them. I guess I'm just...I'm scared shitless of losing you."

"Ah, babe."

Hutch hated the way his voice trembled. "I guess this makes me a real wimp, huh?"

"Hey, you think I never get scared when I think about losing you?" Starsky said softly. "You think I don't have nightmares about that time you were pinned under your car and missing for two days, or the time you had botulism, or that time just a few months ago when Jeanie kidnapped you and tried to get you on the big H again? Shit, Hutch, just thinking about losing you scares the shit out of me."

Hutch looked at him. Then, tentatively, he reached up and touched Starsky's chest. Starsky put a hand over his.

"I guess we're both pretty dumb," Hutch said.

"Yeah," Starsky whispered, stroking his hand. "Pretty dumb."

After a pause Hutch said, "I don't...have those nightmares a lot. Just once in a while."

"I know. Me neither. Just every so often. So I guess we're not doin' too bad, huh, partner?"

"Nah. Not bad at all."

After a few more seconds of silence, Starsky said, "Hey, Hutch, are those nightmares you've been having, about losing me--are they why you've been pushin' all this vegetarian stuff lately? Because you read that study that said vegetarians live longer than normal people, and you think if I go vegetarian I'll live longer?"

"Well...kind of," Hutch admitted, a little sheepishly. "I mean I was thinking it wouldn't hurt both of us to eat healthier. But, yeah, I was kind of hoping if I ate better you would, too, and, you know, you'd live longer."

"For cryin' out loud. Next time, just ask me, huh? And I'll say no and we'll get it over with."

Hutch snorted a laugh. It felt good to laugh, when he'd been close to tears just a minute ago. But then, that was life with Starsky. A roller-coaster ride.

"Let's go to sleep, huh?" he said softly. "Tomorrow's a work day."

"Yeah. Don't remind me," Starsky grumbled. He pulled Hutch against him, holding him close. "You're never gonna lose me, Hutch," he whispered. "Never."

"Yeah," Hutch murmured. "I know."

And that was the last thing he remembered until morning.

It was about 10:00 the next morning when Isak Wolf came by the squadroom.

"Hi, guys," the black man said. Hutch noticed that Lila's former assistant had pulled his curly black hair back with a silver clip--perhaps his one concession to decorum upon visiting a police station. He was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt.

"Hey, Isak," Starsky said. "How are you doing?"

"Okay, I guess. Well, kind of in shock. Smigiel just showed me Lila's will. I stand to inherit about half a million dollars."

"Yeah, he told us," Hutch said. "Congratulations."

"I don't want to be congratulated. I'd rather have Lila alive and nagging me to get the apartment decorated for Christmas and asking me if I'd go have her brakes looked at."

"We know you would," Starsky said quietly. "But we're not allowed to make those choices."

"Yeah, I know," Isak said, also quiet. "Anyway, I'm going back to Smigiel's office this afternoon. He's going to try to help me get a loan based on my inheritance so I can go to grad school next month, since it takes months for a will to get probated. And he's not charging me anything, either. He's being really terrific to me, actually--a lot like Lila was. He told me he feels I'm his responsibility now that Lila is gone." He looked at Starsky, then back at Hutch. "So, I guess this makes me a good suspect now, huh? Since I had a motive. Unless you already know who did it?" he added hopefully. "You sounded pretty confident at the burial service about getting him."

"Yeah, well, Starsky jumped the gun a little," Hutch said. "We don't have a clue."

"Any good leads?"

"Not many that are very helpful," Starsky said. "But trust me, you're not any more a suspect now than you've ever been. And we still think that the kidnapping had something to do with what happened to Lila, which would probably let you out. Are you sure she never mentioned it to you?"

Isak shook his head. "No. Never," he said definitely. "I read up about it a little after I started working for her--just curiosity--but I never mentioned it, and she never did either. I think she wanted to kind of blot it out of her mind."

"But she did talk a lot about her husband," Starsky said.

"Oh, yeah. Quite a lot. She really loved him. She talked about him almost every day, and spent a lot of time in her memory room." Isak sounded a little wistful. "It must be great, to be loved that much. I wonder, sometimes, if I'll ever be loved like that."

"You will," Hutch said. "Sometimes it just takes awhile to find the right one." Somehow he forced himself not to look at his partner when he said that last.

"I hope you're right. Well, I guess I'll be going. Unless you guys want to grill me or something."

Starsky smiled. "Nah, if we want to grill you, we come to your place in the middle of the night and drag you out of bed, so you're completely unprepared. We don't even let you have your morning coffee first."

"You guys are rough." A faint wisp of a smile. "Hey, I almost forgot why I came. I have a favor to ask."

"What?" Hutch was abruptly wary.

"I want to go to Moonridge Zoo up in Big Bear, sometime after Christmas, to tell them about their inheritance. The zoo was very important to Lila, and I'm kind of thinking this is one last thing I'd like to do for her, you know? Anyway, I wonder if you could give me the address. You took all her papers from the desk, including her address book."

"Sure," Starsky said. He started looking through the documents in front of him, a veritable forest of paper. "I have that address book here somewhere."

"Starsk, why don't you just go get the directory for San Bernardino County?" Hutch suggested. "It'll take less time than trying to make order out of that chaos."

Starsky gave him a look, but after a second or two, seemed resigned to the truth of that statement. "It'll just take me a second," he said to Isak, and left to go over to a shelf in the corner, where the phone books for various counties in California were kept.

"You know what you're going to do now?" Hutch asked Isak. "With all that money you're inheriting, you can pretty much do whatever you want."

Isak shrugged, a little sheepishly. "Yeah, I know. But I really don't know what I'm going to do after I finish grad school next year. I've been thinking I'd like to write a book about Larry Magoch, though. Almost nothing has been written about him--Lila stopped people from writing books about him before--but maybe it's time for something to come out. He still has fans, I know that for a fact; he still gets lots of fan mail, anyway. And I still have all those cassette tapes of interviews Lila did for me, when I started writing that book last year. I just wonder if maybe it'd be unethical to use them, since she changed her mind about the book later."

"I'm sure she'd want you to use what she told you in a way you thought was best," Hutch said.

"Well, thanks. That helps a little."

"Hutch, I can't find the fucking phone book," Starsky said.

"Excuse me," Hutch said, and walked over to his partner's side. And of course, he found the directory in about two seconds. When he pulled it out, Starsky glared at him as if he'd been insulted.

"You did that on purpose," he accused. "Hid it from me, deliberately put it out of order on the shelf to make me look stupid, didn't you?"

Hutch started to say something about how he didn't think Starsky needed much help to look stupid…then he heard his voice trail off. Because all of a sudden he was hearing something else. Something that made an ice cube run down his spine.

The radio was playing a Christmas song, a song Hutch recognized from the movie Scrooge. But Hutch wasn't listening to the radio. He was listening to someone's voice, singing along.

Sing a song of gladness and cheer,For the time of Christmas is here. Look around about you, and seeWhat a world of wonder this world can be....

Hutch swallowed, his throat suddenly dry, as he turned around slowly. Isak was sitting on Hutch's desk, quietly singing with the radio as he watched an attractive black policewoman pour herself coffee at the coffee machine.

"Hutch? What is it?" Starsky whispered.

"Nothing," Hutch said. He took the phone book back to his desk and looked up Moonridge Animal Park, then scrawled down the address and phone number on a sheet of yellow foolscap and handed it to Isak. "There you go," he said. "Good luck."

"Thanks. With my car, driving seven thousand feet above sea level, I'll need it," Isak joked. "Well, so long. Let me know if you find anything, okay? And let me know if I can help with the case."

"Yeah, okay," Hutch muttered, watching Isak walk out.

The second he was out the door, Starsky said, "Okay, Hutch, what is it? And don't say 'nothing' again."

"Just a crazy thought I just had. If I tell you, you'll say I'm nuts."

"Yeah, probably. But share your craziness with me, anyway."

"The other night, when we were watching that Larry Magoch movie and he started singing, something about his voice bugged me. And just now I realized what it was. Isak's voice and Larry's sound really, really similar--in fact, when they're singing, they sound almost the same."

"Yeah? I didn't notice that, but then, I don't have a musician's ear. But so what?"

"So...you know how freaky your mind can be when you're absorbed in a case? It just hit me--what if Isak was the missing Magoch baby? What if Larry had an affair with a black woman and had an illegitimate child and then he and Lila took the baby away from the mother, because they couldn't have children of their own...and then Isak's real mother stole him back. And that was the kidnapping."

Starsky gave him a look.

"Hey, I know it's crazy," Hutch said defensively. "But I swear, those two voices sound so much alike, it's eerie."

"So? I've heard loads of nightclub singers that sound a lot like Barbra Streisand or Judy Garland. That doesn't mean they're related."

"I know, okay?" Hutch growled. "I told you it was nuts." He sat down at his desk. Starsky sat down across from him.

Both of them were silent for a few seconds. Then Starsky said, "There's one way to check. We could look at the fingerprints."

Hutch just looked at him. Starsky said, "We know they never found the real baby's body. Our friend Sam isn't Larry Jr., but somebody else could be. And remember, nobody ever saw any pictures of the baby. He could've been black."

"Don't patronize me."

"I'm not. I'm just sayin' my curiosity is startin' to itch, too. So look at the fingerprints already, huh?"

Hutch didn't want to, but he had to admit, the idea was going to bug him until he did. He opened the file and found the two sets of fingerprints. Then he got out a magnifying glass.

Starsky watched him, staying as still as a grave.

Hutch felt his heart start to pound as, to his incredulous amazement, he saw one, two, then three points of similarity. Feeling something akin to a man discovering the fifth Gospel, he counted all the way up to twelve. Then, still not believing it, he counted again.

It can't be. It just can't be.

But it was. Isak Wolf's fingerprints matched the prints of the baby who'd resided in the Magoch nursery in 1956.

Isak was the missing Magoch baby.

Hutch looked up, and Starsky, who knew his partner's face, said, "You're kidding."

Hutch shook his head. "I counted twelve points of similarity, enough for a court of law," he said huskily. "Of course, we'll have to get an expert to tell us for sure, but in my opinion this is a match, Starsky."

"Holy shit."

"Tell me about it."

They stared at each other. Then Starsky said, "But Larry can't really be Isak's father, can he? I mean, I don't really think he had an affair with a black woman and had a baby. For one thing, there'd be records and witnesses, and someone would've unearthed it by now. For another, why would Lila've been so devoted to him if he'd had a baby with another woman?"

"Yeah, I think that's too way-out even for a soap opera," Hutch agreed. "And, as you said, lots of people can have similar voices without being related; that was obviously just some freaky coincidence. But fingerprints don't lie."

"So how could Isak be the Magoch baby? Could he have been adopted?" Starsky suggested. "Isak said he was adopted once--maybe he was adopted by the Magoches, too."

"No, Lila's pregnancy was too well-publicized. I can think of only one explanation for this."

Starsky let out a breath. "You mean, Lila had a thing with a black guy and got...knocked up."

"Can you think of another explanation that makes sense?"

"No," Starsky said reluctantly. "I can't. And Hutch...Lila knew who Isak was, too," he added suddenly, struck by the realization. "Not just because of the inheritance, but Isak said she sought him out, asked him to come work for her. Whether she'd always known, or found out right before she looked him up...she knew he was her son. And she offered him that phony job because she wanted to know him, be close to him, maybe help him finish college. But why didn't she ever tell him who she was?"

"Maybe she was afraid he'd reject her if she told him she'd put him up for adoption when he was a baby," Hutch said. "Or maybe she was protecting her husband. There was still the faked kidnapping to consider. But you know something? I'll bet this was what Lila was going to tell Isak the day she died--that she was his mother. Because Riordon was threatening to hire a lawyer and/or go to the press, and she thought someone would uncover the truth about the bogus kidnapping, and she wanted Isak to hear it from her first."

"Yeah, I think you're right," Starsky said. "Shit. I still can't believe it. Lila Magoch had an affair with a black guy. And then had a baby. No wonder there were no pictures of the baby. No wonder there wasn't a lock of the baby's hair in the baby book. No wonder no one ever even saw their child. They must've arranged the phony kidnapping when they realized they just couldn't hide the baby anymore. But dammit, Hutch, why would she be doing the Big Nasty with another guy? She loved Larry."

"Maybe it was just a moment of passion she couldn't control. It happens."

"She was in her forties, Hutch."

"So what? People in their forties still want to do it." Hutch smiled a little. "And watch what you say, partner. You and I aren't too far from that milestone ourselves."

Starsky suddenly looked stricken. "Oh, God, Hutch, maybe it was rape. Maybe some bastard raped her and got her pregnant."

"Yeah, it's possible. But unlikely. If she'd been raped, why didn't she report it? Or get an abortion? Abortion wasn't legal in those days, but if you were wealthy enough and had the right connections--especially in Hollywood--it wasn't all that hard to get one."

"Maybe she thought there was a chance the baby was Larry's, and didn't realize the baby was the other guy's until after the baby was born. After all, like you said, they didn't try to hide the pregnancy at all. Look at all those newspaper and magazine clippings in her scrapbooks of interviews she gave about being pregnant and how happy she was. Dammit, it had to've been rape. She wouldn't have cheated on Larry."

"Why, just because she looked beautiful in Insatiable? Come on, Starsk. Give it up."

"What? Give what up?"

"Being Lila's champion. Come on, we just found out she rejected her own child, her only son, gave him up for adoption, just because he was black. That's not the act of a very praiseworthy individual."

"But she didn't want to," Starsky argued. "Her husband forced her to give the baby up because it wasn't his, that's all."

"You don't know that."

"Sure I do. Witby told us she was grief-stricken, wasn't she? She didn't want to give up her baby, but Larry made her. Maybe he told her he'd divorce her if she didn't go along with it. I mean, even though Lila hadn't really cheated on him since it was rape, he probably didn't want to see proof of her bein' with another guy in his house every day. And she gave in even though it killed her, because she couldn't live without him. Shit. I still can't believe it. The Magoch baby really is alive, after all."

"Yeah. It's incredible."

"Incredible ain't the word for this case. It doesn't even come close. We have one guy sure he's the Magoch baby and he isn't, and another guy who doesn't have a clue he's the Magoch baby and he is. We have another guy who was executed for murdering a child that's still alive, and a woman who was asking us about murder only nobody was murdered. And then she gets killed by somebody, but we still have no idea who. This whole thing's like a damn Rubik's cube. You know something? I'll bet you a big fat tofu pizza Smigiel knows about Isak. He wasn't exactly sweetness and light when we went to talk to him on the golf course, but he got downright hostile when we hinted that Isak might've killed Lila. And Isak just said the lawyer was bein' real nice to him, sayin' he felt responsible for him, acting protective. The guy knows Isak is the Magoch baby, and I'll bet he knows a lot more."

"Yeah, I think you're right. I had a feeling during a lot of our conversation on the golf course that he was hiding something. But he's never going to tell us what he knows, Starsk. For one thing, there's client confidentiality. But also, I'll bet you Lila was bribing him. He told us they weren't friends, but why did she leave him so much money in her will? It must've been a bribe to keep his mouth shut, even after she was gone."

"Maybe it was a gift of gratitude," Starsky argued. "He could've arranged the whole kidnapping thing himself, made sure her son was adopted by a good family, and she was grateful to him."

Hutch gave up trying to convince Starsky that Lila was something less than a saint. "Well, whatever it was," he said, "ten to one, he knows who Isak's real father was. Chances are it would help us solve this case, too. We've got to find a way to get him to talk if we're ever going to find Lila's killer."

"Yeah. Great idea, Blintz. But how?"

On to Part 5

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