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SUPERSTARSKY

 Many thanks to Shawne ‘til Dawn and Mary Millard… (Or Mary Millard and Shawne ‘til Dawn)…The order doesn’t mind. Both of them have helped me very much to write better this story.

This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit, and is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders of the rights to Starsky and Hutch.

 

“STARSKY! MY OFFICE!” Dobey bellowed, making Starsky almost choke on his coffee.

“Starsky? Did he say just Starsky?” Getting to his feet, the brunet questioned his partner.

“Yeah. Loud and clear, actually,” Hutch answered without lifting his eyes from the report he was typing.

“Not something like… ‘Starsky! Hutchinson! My office!’?” Starsky inquired again.

“Nope. Only ‘Starsky! My office!’” With his gaze still fixed on his paperwork, the blond mimicked Dobey’s words.

“What do you think it means, Hutch?”

“Not sure…Maybe Dobey is mad at only you?” Hutch answered matter-of-factly, finally lifting his eyes and looking at his friend.

“Ha-ha . . .You’re very funny, Hutchinson. Did you know that?”

“IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR EARS, STARSKY?” Dobey’s voice thundered again.

“No, Sir…I’m coming, sir…” Starsky answered, hastily heading towards his captain’s office.

“What’s this, Starsky?” Dobey asked, handing over a report as soon as Starsky was inside.

“Chocolate, I think. Don’t worry Cap, I’ll clean it up.” Starsky nonchalantly scratched his thumbnail at a small brownish spot on the paper but only managed to spread it further, making it worse. “It must be from a coupla donuts I ate while typing the report…You know, Cap, I hadn’t had breakfast and…”

“THE SIGNATURE, STARSKY!” Dobey barked, feeling his patience starting to fade. “Right now, I’m talking about your signature! About that red, rather large “S” encircled by that weird pothook at the bottom of your report!”

“Oh, yeah, the “S”… Well, Sir, that’s the first letter in my surname … and Superman’s first letter too. Isn’t a cool coincidence?”

“Superman?” Dobey repeated, before running a hand over his face as a muffled groan escaped his throat. Though he had a soft spot for the detective standing in front of him, he had to admit that Starsky’s childlike and playful personality could be truly unnerving at times.

“What the heck does Superman have to do with your reports, Starsky?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow and staring at Starsky. “As far as I know, “S” is the first letter in Simonetti’s surname too, and even in Sawyer’s, the cleaning lady’s last name… But you don’t want me to think that Simonetti or Mrs. Sawyer are doing your busts or filing your reports, do you, Starsky?” The last question was asked in such a soft tone that it brought to Starsky’s mind the image of Kaa, the snake in “The Jungle Book” Disney movie.

Oh, well, Capt’n…I hadn’t thought of that, I just...”

“Starsky?”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Retype your report.” Dobey commanded curtly.

“The whole report, Sir?” Starsky almost shrieked, raising a hand to his short curls.

“Yes, Starsky. The whole report. Without chocolate stains on the paper, if you don’t mind.” Dobey spoke softly, trying to hold back a new bout of shouting. “And this time, sign it with your whole name, will you?”

“Oh, come on, Cap! This report is three pages long!” Starsky complained, reluctant to repeat a work he had need nearly two hours to complete.

Dobey snatched the file from Starsky’s hands before speaking again. “Well…if you spare stuff like: ‘Prompted by our unreserved commitment to our badges, my courageous partner, Detective Hutchinson, and I started one more day of our shift ready to keep the decent, hardworking civilians of Bay City far from danger’…”Dobey continued to read out loud. “Or how ‘bout this one: ‘With adrenaline rushing through our veins, and regardless of the danger that could be waiting for us behind any door or in turning any corner, we went in pursuit of the felons’...” The Captain lifted his eyes to glare at the squirming detective. “Perhaps, just perhaps, if you spare some of that, you could turn this …this cop show screenwriting into a single page report. It’s just an idea though,” Dobey added sarcastically, handing the report back to Starsky.

“Yes, Sir…I’ll try,” the brunet agreed meekly.

“Okay, and now, move your ass! Go! Go to retype the godforsaken thing once and for all, Starsky! I DON’T HAVE THE WHOLE DAY TO WASTE MY TIME TALKING TO YOU!”

Dobey's shouting was the cue for Starsky to scurry out of the office, slamming the door closed with his foot much louder than the Captain would have liked.

“And? What have you done this time to piss off Dobey?” Hutch asked, once Starsky was back at the desk they shared.

“He doesn’t want me to write the “S” in my name at the bottom of the report,” Starsky said, looking dispiritedly at the paper, as if by doing so it was going to retype itself.

“Say what?” Hutch asked in faked puzzlement, knowing perfectly well what his partner meant. “Do you mean Dobey wants you to sign, 'Tarky' ... like in 'turkey'?”

“Oh, come on, Hutch! Don’t make fun of your poor old partner, will ya?” Starsky complained, feeling miserable. “He wants me to retype the whole report and sign it with my whole name, not just the ‘S’”

“Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you about that. How come you signed in such a weird way, anyway?”

“Do you remember the book I was reading last week, while we were doing that stakeout at the piers?” Starsky asked, bouncing back to his usual enthusiastic self. “That book about the importance of words and the effect they can have on people?”

“Oh…well...right now I’m not sure.”

“Use the Right Words and Your Life Will Change.” Starsky recited to refresh Hutch’s memory. “That’s the title. It explains that if, when talking to others you define yourself as dumb or clumsy or good for nothing or nasty stuff like that, eventually that concept will get engraved in your mind for good, and you really will be dumb or clumsy, or …Well, you get it, don’t you?”

Hutch nodded before Starsky went on. “Same goes for the words you use to define other people, especially regarding kids. But if you think of yourself or another person as being smart or brave or skillful, if you say it out loud enough times soon you as well as other people will see yourself, or anybody else, that way. Got it? It’s called the Conditioning power of words."

“Aha.” Hutch nodded again as a deadpan expression set over his features. The blond detective was once more in awe of the huge amount of odd and quite often useless information Starsky could store in his brain.

“Now, can you picture the effect signing like Superman could have on me, Hutch?” the brunet asked, puffing out his chest and rubbing it with both hands as a contented smile curled his lips.

“Wait…wait a minute there.” Hutch reached over to split open both halves of Starsky’s shirt, uncovering a large Superman logo printed on the dark blue T-shirt his partner wore underneath.

“You’re taking this conditioning thing very seriously, aren’t you?” the blond asked, muffling a chortle.

“You know, Hutch. Gotta find out if it works.”

“Tell me something, Starsk…” Bending closer to Starsky, Hutch's expression was deadly serious.

“Sure, ask away,” Starsky invited, happy to share more of his seemingly vast knowledge on the matter.

“What’s the color of your underwear? Red, like those briefs Superman wears, perhaps?”

“Listen here, young man.” The voice belonged to Dobey who, on his way to the candy machine, had seen his detectives chatting instead of getting their work done. He apparently had also overheard Hutch’s unusual question. “I’m not sure if I want to know why you’re this curious about your partner’s underwear…but I clearly advise you to keep those kind of personal questions for your time off. Have I made myself clear?”

“Yes, sir,” Hutch answered obediently. He bit his lower lip while staring at the keys on his typewriter, knowing if he looked up at Dobey or worse, at Starsky, they both would burst into laughter beyond their control.

“And about you, Starsky -- I really would appreciate having that report retyped before noon…THIS noon!” Dobey bellowed the order, then went on his way.

Feeling like two scolded children, and stifling a few giggles, both men set to the task of getting their reports done. When all was completed and filed, they left the precinct to start their daily patrol of the streets.

xxxxxxx

The rest of the morning passed uneventfully. Starsky and Hutch spent most of it asking questions to a few of their snitches -Huggy Bear among them- searching for clues to solve the murder of a wealthy jewelry store owner.

“You hungry?” Starsky asked Hutch at noon.

“A little,” Hutch responded.

“Okay, then, let’s grab a bite to eat.”

The place of their choice was Santorini’s, a small deli owned by an Italian family who lived in an apartment upstairs. The street where the deli was placed was a busy one, and knowing the chances of finding a parking spot near the entrance were slim, Starsky parked his Torino around the corner a block away. Leaving Hutch to monitor the radio, he headed down the street toward the entrance, out of his partners' sight.

For a while Hutch killed time loafing through the pages of an old car magazine Starsky had tucked away in the glove compartment a few days before. Soon, though, the blond realized his partner was taking much longer than usual to get their lunch and return. Sensing trouble, he decided to drive around to the front of the Deli and see if everything was okay.

He had just slid into the driver’s seat when a call coming from the radio sent shivers up his spine.

“All units near Garden Ave and 54th … all units near Garden Ave and 54th. Report of a fire in Santorini’s Deli. Repeat, fire in Santorini's Deli. Requesting nearest police units, all fire station 3 apparatus, and two ambulances to respond.”

Santorini’s Deli was on fire… And Starsky had been going there…

"This is Zebra 3," Hutch responded, grabbing the microphone as he turned the ignition key. "In the area and responding. Detective Starsky possibly inside."

The response was automatic; then Hutch slammed the car in gear and slid around the corner with tires squealing toward the deli entrance.

xxxxxxx

When Starsky had entered the deli, the only patrons there were a couple in their mid-70’s and a younger woman with a sleeping toddler in her arms. Neither the older Mrs. Santorini who owned the deli nor her son or daughter-in-law were in sight. The only one serving the patrons was Marcia, a young college girl who worked part time in the deli to earn some extra money.

For a few minutes, Starsky stood waiting at the counter to be served. Apparently no one but him in a rush. Finally, after looking at his wristwatch for the second time, Starsky began to fidget ... Suddenly, a particular yet subtle smell reached his nostrils, putting his senses on full alert.

“Do you smell that?” he asked the young woman near him, raising his head and sniffing the air, watching as she did the same.

“It seems like… smoke,” she said, her dark eyes growing wide. “It-”

Before she could speak further her words were cut off by an anguished wail from somewhere upstairs.

“AIUTTOOO!…FIREEE…! HEEEELP!”

Though he wasn’t completely sure, Starsky thought the voice belonged to the owner, Mrs. Santorini. With all his cop’s senses kicking in, he flashed his badge to the other customers and Marcia, as he propelled them out the front door, encouraging them to call 911 for help.

As soon as he’d closed the door behind the civilians, Starsky rushed up the stairs that led to the Santorini’s apartment. He had been in the deli enough times to find his way around with relative ease.

Finding the apartment door locked, he was about to force it when a frantic Mrs. Santorini came rushing out. Barely avoiding a mutual tumble to the floor, Starsky grasped her upper arms.

“I CAN’T FIND MY GRANDSON! I CAN’T FIND LUIGI!” she screamed hysterically, trying to pull out of Starsky’s grip.

Struggling to hold her back, Starsky glanced inside and saw flames licking at the aged wallpaper and curtains in the far corner of the room. A spark landed on a pile of newspaper, igniting those and a tattered sofa nearby.

“GET OUTTA HERE!” he ordered the woman. “I’ll find Luigi, but you gotta get outta here now!” He saw the smoke getting thicker, prompting him to give the woman a gentle shove. “GO TO THE STREET AND CALL FOR HELP! CALL 911! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? 911!”

Though he hoped someone had already called 911, Starsky wanted to be sure. ‘Better safe than sorry’, he thought, and gave Mrs. Santorini another push that got her started moving quickly down the stairs.

Trying to remember his basic fire training, Starsky dashed back inside and shut the door, relieved to see the windows were closed as well. By now the fire had engulfed the curtains and was rapidly devouring the tinderbox dry wallpaper as well.

“LUIGI!” Dropping to the floor to escape the worst of the smoke, Starsky repeatedly called the childs’ name. Stripping off his wool sweater, initially he tossed it aside but quickly grabbed it again. He vaguely recalled hearing that wool didn’t burn very quickly, and if that were true it might be useful to wrap and transport the little child.

Crawling his way through the apartment, Starsky repeatedly called the child’s name. Shielding his mouth and nose with his shirtsleeve to ease his breathing, he silently cursed the smoke-induced tears streaming from his eyes. He ignored the feeling of a raspy file scratching his throat with every breath.

Feeling the heat from the fire increasing, the detective made his way down the hallway toward the two tiny bedrooms, knowing his time to search for Luigi was running out. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs from his lack of oxygen, and fought back the overwhelming urge to cough. He knew he couldn’t leave without the child who was no doubt hiding, terrified and possibly even hurt somewhere nearby.

“LUIGI! KID! ANSWER ME!”

Just inside the second bedroom, Starsky called out again then lost his battle against an intense coughing fit as the smoke filled his lungs. Fumbling around on the floor, he leaned his head against the bottom of a dresser, wiping his streaming eyes on his sleeve once again. It was in that brief clear moment when he saw it -- the brown leg of a teddy bear sticking out from under the bed.

“Luigi!” Starsky wriggled his way under the bed, groping as he heard the sound of soft sobs. Feeling a small leg, he grabbed onto it and pulled the terrified child clutching his teddy bear out onto the bedroom floor.

“Luigi, come here,” Starsky soothed, relieved when the child wrapped one arm around his neck. “Okay, I got ya. Now we gotta get outta here. Just hang onto me.”

Trying not to frighten Luigi further, Starsky wrapped the wool sweater around him and began making his way out of the room. He was sure he was heading back toward the front doorway, though the room ahead was now engulfed in flames. As the smoke and heat seared his lungs and obscured his vision, Starsky continued his slow and painful crawl…

xxxxxxx

As he slid to a stop in front of the deli and slammed the Mars light onto the car roof, Hutch heard the sound of breaking glass. Horrified he watched as the first window in the upstairs apartment broke out, expelling ominous clouds of black smoke into the bright blue sky ... Hutch left the car running as he leaped out and raced toward the

entrance, shoving his way through the gathering crowd on the street, waving his badge in the air.

“Your partner is in there, Detective!”

The woman’s words cut through the noise of the fire, and Hutch whirled to find Mrs. Santorini running from the crowd. “He made me to get out of the building, but he …He stayed! He went to find Luigi, my little grandson! Help them, Detective! Please!”

With no thought to his own safety Hutch raced inside the deli, all the while yelling his partners’ name. The fire hadn’t reached the deli yet, but Hutch saw wisps of smoke heading down the stairs. He refused to think what the fire was doing to the apartment above as he made his way up the narrow stairway.

Somehow Starsky had gotten up there, now Hutch had to do it too, unaware that the fire department was setting up their apparatus outside. He had nearly reached the apartment doorway when two firemen came up beside him carrying an ax. In seconds the door was open, immediately sending Hutch into a choking fit when he inhaled the dense smoke.

“Starsky!” Instinctively Hutch yelled for his partner, his eyes desperately searching through the smoke toward the flames. He knew the firemen were behind him, also searching, but it was Hutch who spotted movement ... Gasping and choking, he found Starsky in the middle of the living room, his right leg pinned under a heavy bookcase. A small fidgeting form beside Starsky’s chest was surrounded by a protective arm. The child had been saved from the suffocating smoke by Starsky’s familiar wool sweater which was wrapped around his face, exposing only his huge, terror-filled eyes.

xxxxxxx

As the firemen shoved him out of the apartment and took over the lifesaving rescue, Hutch knew the situation was under control. In minutes Luigi was put into one of the ambulances on a stretcher, his grandmother by his side. A glance told Hutch the child would soon be fine.

With an oxygen mask over his soot-blackened face, Starsky was carried to another ambulance, Hutch never moving from his side. The blond barely remembered to give the keys for the Torino to a uniformed officer so it could be moved. Watching his partners’ still form, the ride to Memorial Hospital seemed endless for Hutch.

And it was even harder once they arrived, as he waited in the cold, impersonal waiting room for news. He couldn’t think of anything or anybody but his partner, all sorts of grim possibilities crossing his mind.

At one point he realized he should have called Captain Dobey to let him know what had happened, but he pushed it aside. The only person of importance to Ken Hutchinson right then was David Starsky.

An eternity later -- in Hutch’s opinion -- a doctor wearing green scrubs entered the empty waiting room and looked around. “You’re here for Detective Starsky?”

“I’m Detective Ken Hutchinson, his partner,” Hutch said quickly, anxiously approaching the man. “How’s he doing, doc?”

“Doctor Hooper,” the man responded, extending a hand to Hutch, who found the firm shake reassuring somehow.

“Detective Starsky will be fine,” the doctor answered. “He broke his ankle and of course had some smoke inhalation, but that was relatively mild, considering what I’ve heard. He also has a few burns on his hands and forearms. It’s quite a miracle he didn’t suffer far more serious injuries.”

“What…what about the burns, Doctor?” Hutch asked apprehensively. “Are they serious?”

“Not at all. They’re superficial, Detective. First degree. Actually they don’t even need bandages. We’ve just applied some antiseptic ointment on the damaged skin, but first-degree burns usually heal on their own within a week. Of course they’ll hurt for a few days, but that’s all. Believe me — Detective Starsky is a very lucky, not to mention courageous, man.”

Overwhelmed by relief, Hutch dropped into the nearest chair as Dr. Hooper sat nearby, giving the blond detective basic information about the medication Starsky was receiving and his future care.

Finished discussing Starsky, and feeling much calmer than before, Hutch finally asked about the little boy Starsky had rescued from the flames.

“He is going to be fine too,” Hooper said, smiling. “The poor kid was scared to death and dirty, and he took in a little smoke, but otherwise he came through without a scratch. That’s solely thanks to your partners’ perseverance -- and you.” He paused. “His family has a lot to thank you both for.”

“Not ‘us’, Doc. Starsky. He’s the one who saved his life.” Hutch’s pride in his partner and friend showed through his every word.

The doctor was smiling as he left the room.

xxxxxxx

After taking a few minutes for self-composure, Hutch headed for his partner’s room, his sharp eyes taking in details as he approached the bed. As Hooper had said, Starsky’s reddened hands and forearms were covered with a layer of greasy ointment then laid on a light bed of gauze. A nasal cannula delivered oxygen to his lungs, while his broken ankle was in a cast and propped up on pillows in the bed.

In addition, an IV pumped fluids and antibiotics into his body through his right arm. The injured man looked pale and frail, and Hutch had to make an effort to believe Dr. Hooper’s reassurance that Starsky would be fine. The day could have ended in tragedy, but soon it would be just a bad memory for them all.

“Hey Starsk. How ya feeling?” Hutch asked softly, laying a comforting hand on his partners’ shoulder. The detective was semi- awake though very drowsy from the potent pain medication he’d received.

“Li…like something the cat dra…dragged in,” Starsky murmured, swallowing hard. “‘sides -- thirsty.”

“It’s okay, buddy. I’ll get some ice chips for you. Be right back.”

Starsky nodded and Hutch left briefly, returning with a Styrofoam cup full of tiny ice chips and a plastic spoon. He fed his friend a small amount of the soothing ice and was rewarded with a wan smile.

After a moment; his voice somehow less raspy, Starsky asked, “T-the kid?

“He’s fine, Starsky. Totally unscathed… you saved his life.”

“Really?” Starsky brightened, but still looked for reassurance in Hutch’s eyes.

“Yep…really. I wouldn’t lie to you about something like that, would I?”

“No-nope…you wouldn’t…. Poor kid. H-he was terrified.” Starsky closed his eyes, remembering. “And…I…I was scared too… For a mi…minute. I thought we weren’t going to ma...make it…” His voice trailed off.

“All that’s over now, Starsk,” Hutch told him, wishing he could erase the clearly disturbing memories. “Everything’s gonna be fine.”

“I know, but… Hutch?”

“Yeah, buddy?”

“Whe...where’s my t-shirt?” Starsky asked, taking Hutch aback.

“Your t-shirt?”

“Su...Superman t-shirt.”

“Oh, well ... Buddy…actually I’m not sure. But you know how careless ER nurses are with their patients clothes...”

“You…you mean it m-must be right now in a trash can. Torn…torn into shreds, don’t ya?”

“Probably so.” Hutch couldn’t help chuckling softly at his partners’ sincere concern.

“Shit…I …I liked that t-shirt…It was...” Starsky was still muttering complaints as the drug-induced sleep overtook him once more.

“Don’t worry, Starsk,” the blond murmured. “I’ll get another Superman t-shirt for you. Anyway, I don’t think you need it -- you’re already a Superhero, my friend.” Hutch fondly laid his hand on Starsky’s curls and smiled.

xxxxxxx

During his brief stay in the hospital, Starsky was kept busy entertaining friends and coworkers from the precinct who had heard of his close call. Captain Dobey had been there too, trying not to be too demonstrative but barely hiding his pride in the brave, young detective who was “one of his boys”

Bored out of his mind and moody by the third day, Starsky persuaded Dr. Hooper to release him on the fourth day. His broken ankle would need time to heal, and possibly a few weeks of physical therapy, but his lungs were clear and his burns mostly healed, making him perfectly fit to continue his recovery at home.

“Hey buddy!” Hutch greeted Starsky cheerily the third evening. “How ya doing today?”

“More bored than last night, if that’s possible,” Starsky grumbled. “Besides, the stuff they gave me for lunch couldn’t even be called food. I’m starvin’ to death.” The brunette looked up at his friend hopefully.

“Did you bring me something to eat, Hutch?” Starsky had noticed that Hutch was hiding something behind his back, “I really could use a coupla burritos or a chili hotdog right now.”

“You’re asking me to help you to ruin your stomach and arteries, Starsky?” Hutch responded, pretending to be mortified. “What kind of friend would I be if I did that?”

“A good one, Blondie. A very good one,” Starsky wisecracked.

“Listen, Starsky. I brought you something,” Hutch placated. “It isn’t food, but I think you’ll like it all the same.”

“Something? You mean like a present?” Boredom was quickly replaced by a sparkle of excitement in Starsky’s indigo eyes.

“That’s right, buddy. A present.” As he spoke, Hutch placed the item he had been hiding on Starsky’s lap. It was a parcel wrapped in a bright fuchsia-colored paper that Starsky ripped open excitedly.

“Hey!...HEY! Look what we got here!” Starsky exclaimed in delight, picking up a brand new dark blue t-shirt with a large Superman “S” printed in its front.

“The ER nurses told me they couldn’t save the Superman t-shirt you came in with, so I thought you’d like a new one for when you go home.”

“Thanks Blondie! It’s really neat!” Starsky said happily. “Actually, it looks a lot better than the old one I had!”

“Glad you like it, Starsk. I also brought you another surprise.” Without giving Starsky time to ask questions, Hutch strode to the door, signaling outside with one hand.

A moment later a small parade of people shyly entered Starsky’s room -- Mrs. Santorini, the owner of Santorini’s Deli, led the way, carrying a large carton in her arms, followed by her three year old grandson Luigi and his parents.

“Hey, little guy! C’mere!” Starsky held out his arms for the child who after a gentle push by his grandmother, stepped timidly towards the detective’s bed.

“Are you hurting?” Little Luigi asked worriedly, his big eyes staring at the cast on Starsky’s leg.

“Naw, I’m fine, don’t worry. I’m a tough guy, don’t ya know?” Starsky joked, tousling the boys’ soft dark hair.

“Detective…” Luigi’s father stepped up and began talking in faltering tones. “I really don’t - know what to say… I just can’t find words to express how grateful we are for what you did... For saving our little Luigi’s life.”

“Forget it, Mr. Santorini. I didn’t do anything special,” Starsky shrugged, embarrassed. “Besides, my partner, Detective Hutchinson, was the one who found us inside. He and the firemen... they saved our lives.”

“But Starsky was the first one to go INTO the burning apartment,” Hutch interjected, convinced his friend was the only one who truly deserved the Santorini’s gratitude.

“You risked your own life to save our Luigi. My family and I; we’ll always have a debt of gratitude towards you, Detective.” As she spoke, Luigi's mother had tears in her eyes.

“Well, I don’t…” Starsky trailed off, and he looked to Hutch for help. The blond merely smiled.

“We’ll never be able to return you all the good you’ve done for us. We just know …” Luigi’s mother told him, fighting back tears. “From now on, you will be part of our family, Detective. One of our own… forever.”

An emotional silence hung in the room for a few seconds until Hutch broke it to ask to the Santorinis about the causes of the fire.

“See…Three days ago was the ninth anniversary of my dad passing away. And since then, every year, about noon, the hour he died, Mom has lighted a Prayer candle to pray for the rest of his soul…The firemen say it burned down too far, but we thought it just went out. We left for groceries; Meanwhile Mama gave Luigi his lunch and put him to bed to take a nap. Then she went down to the deli for a minute. When she came back there was fire in the curtains like you saw. She tried finding Luigi, but the curtains…” Mr. Santorini shrugged "Well, they are old and burned too fast. An accident… No one could help.” He sighed.

“What are you going to do from now on?” Starsky asked.

“Well, luckily the firemen came before the flames reached the deli.” Mr. Santorini explained “We’ll be able to keep working, at least. As for our apartment, it’s quite damaged. We’ve moved into my uncle and aunt’s place until it can be fixed. Anyway, our little Luigi is safe and well. That’s the only thing that really counts. The rest just doesn’t matter now.” Mr. Santorini went silent before his emotions could break loose.

“I think we should be going,” the older Mrs. Santorini announced. “I don’t think the nurses or doctor would be too happy to find a whole boisterous Italian family inside your room.” She smiled at Starsky.

“Oh . . . by the way, Detective Starsky, this I make for you.” The woman nodded her head at the package she had placed on the bedside tray. “It’s a homemade present. We hope you’ll like it.”

“Gee, thanks,” Starsky said, once again embarrassed. “You’re very nice, Mrs. Santorini. But you didn’t need to…”

“Nonsense, young man,” she interrupted. “There’s nothing better to get your strength back than some of the Santorinis' fine homemade cooking...”

“Homemade cooking?” Starsky’s eyes lit up as his well-trained stomach began to growl.

“Yes.” The older woman unwrapped the package and lifted the lid, exposing a big chocolate cake. It was beautifully decorated with a perfect Superman image and an inscription written in colorful icing: ‘For SuperStarsky. The Bravest Supercop.’

“Oh…Wow!” Starsky was in awe. “This is cool! Real cool! But…how did you

know?”

“Your partner here.” Mrs. Santorini looked at Hutch. “He had some ideas for the cake decoration…and he was right, I mean, about you being SuperStarsky. For that you are.”

She bent down and kissed Starsky’s cheek quickly, then ushered her family from the room, all waving goodbye to both detectives as they left.

“Nice people, huh?” Hutch remarked when they had gone.

“Yep. And nice cake too.” Starsky ran the tip of his index finger across the glossy surface then licked a glob of chocolate off.

“Okay Starsk, okay. I get the message,” Hutch grinned. “I’ll try to coax one of your pretty nurses into lending me a knife and a plate before you start biting off the cake in your best Neanderthal style.” Hutch paused, shaking his head as Starsky dipped his finger in the cake again. “Don’t go anywhere, partner. I’ll be right back.”

Once he had collected a plastic knife, spoon and a Styrofoam plate from a stash at the nurses station, Hutch returned to his partner’s room. Opening the door he was surprised to find that, once again, Starsky had a guest. Sitting in the bedside chair was a shapely, beautiful brunette in her mid 20’s who was animatedly chatting with an enraptured Starsky while attaching a small microphone to a pocket tape recorder.

“Oh…Hi!” At the sound of opening door, she turned and saw Hutch, cheerily waving her fingers at him as she spoke.

“Hi,” Hutch replied.

“This is Melissa Warwick, Hutch,” Starsky informed his partner. “She’s a reporter for the Bay City Journal.”

“The…The Bay City Journal?” Hutch echoed, surprised.

“That’s right,” Melissa confirmed. “As you may already know, the Journal is doing a series of interviews, one per month, with remarkable members of our community. People who have recently done something important -- even heroic -- for their fellow citizens. When we found out about Detective Starsky rescuing that little boy at the deli’s fire, my boss thought he should be our ‘Superhero of the month’.”

“Your… what?” Hutch wasn’t sure if he’d heard her right.

“‘Superhero of the Month’,” the young reporter repeated. “That’s the title of our monthly article. I’m the one in charge of doing the interviews. And let me tell you -- I’ve never had the chance to interview a ‘Hero of the month’ as nice as Dave…I mean, Detective Starsky.” She cast an unmistakably flirtatious glance at Starsky.

“See there, Hutch?” Starsky looked mischievously at his partner. “As I told you, that stuff about the power of the words really works.”

“Oh, sure, Starsk,” Hutch replied dryly. “It works. It sure does.” He paused then, glancing at the attractive reporter once more. “Uh -- before I forget, partner -- could you loan me that book for a while? I think I’m gonna read it after all...”

 

THE END

 

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