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Minor Characters Project: Starsky and Hutch

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You can learn a lot about what a guy's made of by watching him at the gym. I get all kinds here: the ones who want to build up their physique to impress a hot chick, the ones who think adding some muscle will let them throw their weight around, the ones who figure working out will add a few years to their lives.

A gym can be a bit like church: people come here because they need something they aren't getting any place else. My job is to help them find it and not get too nosey about why they want it. Better my head in the sand than my tail in a sling, that's what I say. But I have to admit, some of them make me curious.

Take Ken Hutchinson, and his friend Starsky. Night and day, those two. Hutch is the one with the membership and he shows up—well, I can't say regular as clockwork, because he doesn't seem to have any kind of a schedule, but he's dedicated. A couple weeks he might be here afternoons, then for a while early in the mornings, then late at nights just before I close. He's on some kind of shift work, but whatever it is, it's not steady. A few times he didn't show for a while, and I started to wonder if maybe he'd moved, or decided to pack it in. But he always turned up eventually.

I think one reason he works at keeping in shape is because what he does is dangerous. I've seen him under the shower a few times with bruises and cuts—the kind you get from a knock-down, drag-out, bare knuckle fight, not the kind in a ring with gloves and a referee. Probably why he spends a lot of time on the heavy bag. With his long, skinny build, he's better made for running than fighting, but he makes up for it with discipline and technique.

His buddy Starsky drops by all the time with coffee and pastries, or a candy bar; you'd think a guy who ate that kind of crap would weight three hundred pounds and be popping Tums like they were going out of style. But no. I've seen him in shorts and a t-shirt, and it looks like he's doing something right. Broad shoulders and good arms, decent core muscles, reflexes like a cat. A natural tough guy, that's Starsky. A little less chili and a little more soybean loaf, and he'd be in great shape.

Starsky likes to rag Hutch about spending time and money at the gym, and Hutch gives Starsky grief about his eating habits, but neither of them sounds serious about it. It's like an old married couple nagging each other about stuff that might have mattered years ago, but now it's code for, "we're a team".

Maybe more than just a team, but that's not my business either. You two know what you're doing, that's good enough for me.