Los Angeles, California
June 26, 2015
Starsky’s hips had started to girate in time to the energizing music that flowed out from the night club even as they stood in the line outside waiting to get in. Hutch had to smile. His charismatic and at times child-like partner - make that life partner - still had it. A certain kind of sex appeal that had no expiration date.
Other than the salt that had begun to speckle his thick head of hair, Dave Starsky seemed practically ageless. He still displayed an infectious enthusiasm for life and that little gleam in his eye that always seemed to ask, ‘what’s next?” Starsky’s enthusiasm held Hutch in a constant state of awe. With permanent lung damage and only half a spleen - traumatic physical damage that has effectively ended his career as a top-notch police detective years ago - Starsky never took the pity route. At no time had he sat on his bed with the intention of never getting up again.
Together, they had found other ways to use their talents that didn’t involve chasing thugs down garbage-strewn alleys. Teaching, researching, mentoring. Fulfilling endeavors, all. They’d had a great life. Now here Starsky was, easily twice the age of the other club-goers waiting in line next to them - upbeat, enthusiastic.
Lux wasn’t the kind of place they would normally have chosen to spend their Friday night - it wasn’t Huggy Bear’s diner back in the old neighborhood by a long shot. The club was a little too flashy for their taste but, then again, this wasn’t a typical Friday night. On this special day an exceptional celebration was called for.
A few hours earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had passed a ruling that protected the rights of same sex couples to marry. Obergefell v. Hodges, as the case was monikered. Not that Starsky and Hutch had ever needed the approval of society to make their bond any stronger than it already was. And their history of rocking the boat was well-known. Still, it was nice to know, after so many years and so many hard-fought battles, that their relationship could finally have legal recognition. Fully protected by law.
Hutch’s grin widened as he thought of it. Ain’t that a kick in the head. Them. Getting protection. Starsky and Hutch had always been the ones doing the looking out for. Standing up for the underdog. The hooker, the junkie, the down and out. Now they were the ones being protected by the highest court in the land, no less. Their right to love each other in full public view. If that wasn’t cause for celebration, Starsky had declared, he didn’t know what was.
So this particular Friday evening, instead of enjoying a quiet game of Monopoly at home or knocking down pins at the local bowling alley with friends, Starsky had wanted to make a real party of it. How could Hutch refuse?
The que of partiers outside of Lux was substantial but the crowd was handled efficiently by a duo of sturdy and well-trained doormen who never dampened the mood. And the grand entrance only added to the festive atmosphere.
Once inside, Starsky and Hutch took the series of steps down to Lux’s expansive main level. They were immediately impressed by the ultra modern design that featured sparkling walls of glass and chrome-accented columns that reached to the high ceiling. Despite the dazzle however, the club still managed to have a gracious feel. Plenty of richly upholstered lounge seating made for comfortable mingling, while cozy corner niches allowed for more intimate encounters. Gorgeous women in slinky outfits and spiky heels danced on strategically placed platforms. And in the center of it all sat a glossy, black Steinway grand piano.
Starsky and Hutch looked at each other, seeing the shades of apprehension that mingled with appreciation in each other’s eyes. Lux was a far cry from the Fever of 1978. But, never ones to be intimidated, they simply moved on.
Within minutes they were met by a stunningly beautiful, ebony-haired cocktail waitress in a black leather dress that fit like a second skin and was set off by a plunging neckline and a metal-studded choker. She balanced an array of drink glasses on a crystal serving tray with ease.
“I haven’t seen you two around here before,” the woman greeted them. Although her reception was warm, her demeanor clearly said “look but don’t touch.” She obviously knew how to handle herself. “What can I get for you?”
“I. . . I’m, ah, Hutch and this is my p . . partner, Starsky.” Hutch was surprised to hear the old stammer in his voice. Had he become that much of a fish out of water that he didn’t know how to talk to a cocktail waitress, no matter how drop-dead gorgeous? At this rate, he’d be lucky not to trip into her and upend her tray. Hutch could feel Starsky’s wicked grin burn into the back of his left shoulder.
“We’ll have a coupla beers,” Starsky answered for him.
The cocktail waitress just smiled at them, not bothering to recite Lux’s litany of exotic options. Simple refreshments for simple men would do. Sometimes that was the best kind. “I’m Maze,” she said. “Make yourself at home and I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
“Put your tongue back in your mouth,” Starsky admonished as Maze walked away, but when Starsky followed up with, “save it for later,” sotto voce, Hutch’s embarrassment transformed to eager anticipation.
The music that filled the air was smooth and jazzy. Still a big jazz fan, Hutch thought he recognized Al Jarreau’s ‘Feels like Heaven.’ It added to the sensual ambiance of the place, a nice change from the impersonal coldness of the electronica played in most dance halls these days.
After Maze had brought them their beers, Starsky turned to wander about the floor and Hutch followed after him, admiring the chic, high style of the place and sizing up the other guests. He could tell Starsky was, too. Old habits died hard, their body language communicated to each other.
Starsky and Hutch were a good thirty years older than most of the patrons, all of whom seemed to be members of the ‘beautiful set.’ Or maybe it was just that Lux’s shimmering chrome and glass fixtures made everyone look extra special. In any case, everyone appeared as though they were having a good time, gathered as they were in groups of various sizes throughout the sprawling club. There were plenty of couples, as well. And slowly Hutch had started to realize that some the couples were single sex. Here and there, men and women were leaning into their same sex partner, caressing a shoulder, pushing back a strand of hair. Laughing together. Enjoying each other.
Yes, they were a long way from Fever. And not just in time and space. When Hutch and Starsky decided on a place to sit down, Hutch found himself sliding in close, reaching for Starsky’s thigh, touching him without self-consciousness in a way he could never have done in years past. Even though the partners had touched one another plenty from the start. But it hadn’t been without certain recriminations.
Starsky looked at Hutch and smiled. Reading his mind. When he reached out and squeezed Hutch’s hand (and not even under the table) it felt so damn good.
It wasn’t long before Maze brought them another round of drinks. She seemed to be everywhere, working tirelessly, and Starsky joked to Hutch that she must have supernatural powers. He’d graduated from Godzilla movies to become a fan of the Avengers franchise these days.
That’s when Hutch saw him - a tall, lean man with impeccable grooming and an expensively tailored suit. He was circling the room, greeting the club-goers as if they were old friends or about to become new ones. A real people person. And Hutch felt a shiver down his spine. The feeling his Granddad used to call ‘someone walking on his grave.’ He’d seen this man before. Some forty years ago - but he hadn’t changed a day.
Finally, inexorably, the man made his way to where Starsky and Hutch were sitting together. “Hello, gentlemen,” he said with a crisp, British accent. “I’m Lucifer Morningstar, the owner of Lux. First time here?”
Lucifer Morningstar. The name transported Hutch back to an unrelentingly hot night in 1978 at a club called Fever. Back then placed like that were known as discos. He and Starsky had been working undercover there. On the hunt for a serial killer. While Hutch watched Starsky’s seductive moves out on the dance floor, he’d been approached by a tall, good-looking Brit who’d called himself Lucifer Morningstar. And for a few minutes Hutch had let his guard down. He’d inexplicably confessed to Lucifer his most secret desire . . . a desire for his male partner.
At the time the feeling had been making Hutch feel dirty, shameful. He could barely face himself in the mirror each morning. But each afternoon he looked forward to sliding into the front seat next to Starsky, feeling his heat, breathing in his essence. They could share a sandwich, share a shirt, share a secret, but they could never ever share a bed, share themselves. It was maddening. It was driving him to distraction and leading him to make poor choices that at times had even put their partnership in jeopardy.
But then was before Hutch had met the mysterious Lucifer Morningstar. They’d had a drink together at the bar and Hutch had felt strangely compelled to confess to him his sin. The funny thing was though, once had Hutch spoken his desires aloud, they didn’t seem so frightening. As if he’d peeked inside some dark closet to discover that there no demon hiding there. The admission wasn’t a magic cure by any means, and Hutch still had a long way to go to fully embrace his feelings. But his words to Lucifer that night had been a start.
Then came the horrific shooting in the police garage when Starsky had almost died. Had died as a matter of fact. For a few seconds anyway. And those few seconds had put Hutch through hell. The terrifying experience was enough for Hutch to finally see the light. He couldn’t go on living without loving Starsky. He was given a second chance and used it to full advantage.
The rest was history. The stuff dreams and legends are made of.
“Yeah,” Hutch heard Starsky reply as he himself was caught mute and staring. “I’m Starsky and this is my partner, Hutch. I have to admit, this isn’t our usual kind of hang out, but you have a great little place here.”
Lucifer smiled his acceptance of the honest compliment. “Thank you. What made you decide to come in tonight?”
“We’re celebratin’” Starsky responded with a broad grin.
“Ah,” Lucifer responded indulgently. “And what, pray tell, are you celebrating?” He made a small gesture with his hand to nearby waitress who was almost as stunning and efficient as Maze, since Maze was now mixing drinks behind the enormous bar.
“Tell ‘em, Hutch,” Starsky jabbed him in the ribs and took a swig from his beer.
“Um, ah . . the ruling today. Obergefell . . .” Hutch began to mumble, doubting that the owner of a swanky nightclub, however well-heeled, would have any interest in what had happened in the halls of an old, murky courtroom clear across the country.
“Ah yes, Obergefell v. Hodges,” Lucifer finished for him smoothy. Taking the words right out of his cotton-filled mouth. “That ruling did come down today didn’t it? So now all of you humans at last have the right to marry whomever it is you truly love. Good for you.” Lucifer’s eyes sparkled.
“That’s right,” Starsky stated.
The waitress reappeared with a bottle of Cristal wrapped in a white linen napkin and three gracefully fluted wine glasses. Lucifer took the bottle and popped the cork with a flourish. “I’d say that does call for a celebration,” he said, then proceeded to fill each glass.
Starsky and Hutch looked to each other, eyebrows raised in surprise and pleasure. This was a treat. They relayed sincere thanks to their host as they accepted Lucifer’s offering.
“Cheers, Detectives,” Lucifer said cheerfully as he clinked all their glasses together. “You both have certainly waited long enough for it, didn’t you?
Hutch took a sip then looked over at Starsky, taking in the flush of delight on his face, the spark of life in his eyes. And he remembered how much he could have lost. The fires he and Starsky had walked through together and how lucky they were to have come out on the other side. To find themselves celebrating here in this place that seemed almost other-worldly. Suddenly overcome with emotion, Hutch leaned over to place a forceful kiss on Starsky’s full, Cristal-moistened lips - a public display once unthinkable. He didn’t even look around to gauge the reaction of any onlookers. He no longer cared, although he sensed Lucifer’s teasing smirk.
Lucifer let them be. He went up to the piano and stood on the bench. “Champagne all around,” he announced. “Here’s to marriage equality. Is there anything more sacred than true and enduring love?” As the crowd cheered their approval, Hutch thought he might have been the only one to notice Lucifer’s eyes flick upwards as if looking for - or acknowledging - a presence beyond their sight.
It was only hours later as Hutch lay in his partner’s arms after their celebratory love-making - not as vigorous as in years past yet still supremely satisfying - that he realized he’d never told Lucifer Morningstar that he and Starsky had once been detectives. Yet somehow Lucifer had known.
And while Hutch got the feeling Lucifer possessed a secret wealth of knowledge, he also believed that they all had a lot more to learn. He listened to Starsky’s gentle snoring and looked forward to tomorrow.