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IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

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IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

 

Hutch was looking forward to a quiet evening with his best friend and partner. Loaded with a six-pack of beer and two
extra large pizzas, he rang the bell but nobody answered. He rang again and called, “Starsk, it’s me,” his
voice already a bit forced.

“Use your key,” came the muffled voice from inside, and Hutch suppressed a
curse.

“It’s not that easy, buddy.” He balanced the food and tried to reach his back pocket to get
the key.

“Shit!” He swore as the pizzas dropped on the floor. Hutch was relieved that he at least had
saved the bottles of beer.

Opening the door, he picked up the pizzas and entered Starsky’s apartment, striding
toward the kitchen when his glance fell on his partner. Sitting in the living room in front of the waste paper basket, Starsky
appeared busy with his work.

“Anything lost there?” Hutch asked sarcastically as he put the pizzas on
the table and began to unwrap them carefully.

“I’ve found somethin’, look!” Fascinated, Starsky
looked into the basket, his eyes wide with excitement.

“Must be something real exceptional, that you forget
about pizza,” Hutch teased.

“Hey, you’re so cute!” Starsky responded - yet he didn’t
move.

“I know, I know,” Hutch answered drily.  Then, out of curiosity he went into the living room,
opening a bottle of beer. He peered over Starsky’s slumped back to look into the wastebasket too.

“Aren’t
they cute? Look Hutch, one of them is wiping its mouth!”

Hutch couldn’t believe his eyes and choked on
his beer.

“Starsky! Those are two mice! What are mice doing in your apartment?!”

Horrible pictures
of hundreds of mice overcrowding Starsky’s place crossed Hutch’s mind as Starsky snatched the beer bottle from
his hands and took a hearty drink.

“I found them in the bushes near the wall,” Starsky explained, still
excited.  “They’re newborns; their mother must have abandoned them. Look, their eyes are still closed.”

Hutch looked again at the tiny creatures, and had to admit they looked very vulnerable and unprotected. Still he shook
his head. “Starsk, you can’t do this. Eventually they’ll have babies and then…”

“Stuff
it, Hutchinson!
Don’t you see that they’re near death? We’ve gotta feed them. Did you bring milk?”

“Got
some goat’s milk at my place,” Hutch mumbled -- then scolded himself for indulging his friend.

“You
wanna poison these cuties?” Starsky asked reproachfully, then got up, thinking hard. Just as he was about to take another
sip from the beer, Hutch retrieved it and took a long swallow of his own.

“Why not let them taste the pizza?”
he proposed, grinning. “If goats’ milk is poison, pizza should be great.”

Intentionally sarcastic,
Hutch didn’t believe the mice were capable of eating pizza, hoping instead that Starsky would realize what a crazy idea
it was to keep mice in his apartment.

“Hey, that’s a great idea!” Starsky was already on his way
to the kitchen, leaving Hutch staring down at the basket incredulously. The mice were tiny but their little whiskers trembled
as they sniffed around. One was crawling over the other as it reached for the basket side.

“Here we go.”
Starsky appeared with their pizzas on a tray. He put it on the coffee table then picked out a small morsel to put it in the
basket with the tiny mice.

The little ones approached the dough cautiously – then began to nibble in earnest,
clearly pleased with their new find.

“Hutch! They’re eating!” Starsky’s face was exuberant.
He drew a puzzled Hutch down beside him onto the couch announcing, “Great! We can all have dinner together now!”

Hutch sighed, not wanting to spoil Starsky’s joy about his guests, but he knew the mice couldn’t stay.
One of them had already tried to climb the walls of the basket, and before long they both would be out ...  He refused
to think what would happen next.

They ate in silence, interrupted only by Starsky getting up every minute to check
on the young mice.  Finally he relaxed and leaned back into the cushions as Hutch finished his beer then stretched before
slumping back against the headrest.

“Ya need a massage?”  Starsky knew from Hutch’s movements
that he was having trouble with his back hurting him again. He squeezed Hutch’s shoulder and motioned him to turn until
he sat with his back toward Starsky.

Hutch gave an appreciative moan when Starsky kneaded the tense muscles along
Hutch’s spine. Feeling Hutch’s body go limp, Starsky smiled fondly at his friend. “Get some rest, buddy,”
he advised softly.  “It was a long day.”

“Just for a minute,” Hutch murmured, closing
his eyes and leaning trustfully against his friend.

Shifting to find a more comfortable position, Starsky put his
arm over Hutch’s, his gaze drifting toward the wastebasket again. Listening to their scuffling sounds, he smiled happily
and drifted off into a contented doze.




**********

Starsky awoke to the unpleasant feeling of thousands of needles stinging his
right arm, and he forced himself not to jerk it away. Hutch’s weight had cut off his circulation, which was now painfully
making its return. Slowly Starsky drew his arm free and flexed his muscles, smiling as Hutch mumbled in his sleep and curled
against the cushions again.

Silently Starsky got up to move the pizza tray and plates into the kitchen, glancing into
the paper basket as he rose. A little gray mouse was trying to climb the walls of the basket - only one mouse this time. Peering
more closely, Starsky knew he had brought home two mice ... his heart sank as a terrible suspicion arose.

“Hutch?”

He received no reaction, and cold sweat appeared on Starsky’s brow.   “One of the mice is gone. Hutch,
I can’t see the second one.”

Frantically searching, Starsky dropped to his knees and crawled round the
coffee table. He bumped one corner and sent an empty bottle noisily rolling off onto the hardwood floor.

“What
the ...?” Still half asleep, Hutch raised his head at the noise, frowning as he opened his eyes. He looked over just
in time to see
Starsky’s butt disappearing behind the armrest of the couch.

“Shit!” The curse
came from behind the couch just before Starsky’s head popped up.

Hutch turned to see Starsky holding a paper
in his hand. “This is the receipt I’ve been looking for since last June,” he muttered. But it didn’t
make him look happy, and Hutch shook his head as he sat up.

“Good time to clean your apartment, buddy. I thought
we were going to relax,” Hutch yawned. The next moment he tensed.

“Starsk? I can only see one mouse in
the basket now.”

“Why do you think why I’m crawling around here like a beetle?” Starsky grumbled
-- and suddenly Hutch knew it all.

“One of the mice escaped, didn’t it? Starsky, didn’t I tell you..?”
Then Hutch’s anger faded as he met Starsky’s desperate eyes.

“I declare the search open,”
Hutch stated, without any humor. And despite his complaining back, he joined Starsky on his knees looking for the tiny gray
mouse.

“Over there! In the bedroom!” Hutch shouted.  He’d seen a flash of gray movement on
the floor of the adjoining room. Both detectives got to their feet and tiptoed toward the bedroom door.

“Look!”
Hutch drew Starsk to his side and pointed to the nightstand next to Starsky’s bed.  Proudly, like a queen, the
little creature was sitting upright eying her domain.

“Hey there, you’re the best, sweetheart,”
Starsky crooned. “C’mon over here.”  Starsky tried the soft approach, crawling toward the mouse at
a snails’ pace. She was almost within his reach when she darted out of sight under the bed.

In a silent conversation
Starsky and Hutch planned the next step. Starsky crouched next to his bed from the left side while Hutch forced himself under
the bed from the right. Feeling around for the mouse, Hutch suppressed his urge to sneeze from all the dust.

Meanwhile
Starsky worked his way along the floor under his side of the bed, stopping abruptly when his hand groped a belt and bare skin.

“That’s me, idiot,” Hutch growled at him -- then gave a violent sneeze.

His hand resting
by his partner, Starsky stopped moving and relaxed. Only their breathing could be heard.  Then Starsky began to giggle
uncontrollably.

“If Dobey saw us, together under the bed…” Starsky gasped, forcing Hutch to start
laughing too.

“Better than in the bed,” Hutch added ... then frolicking laughter filled the room for the
next span of time.

Finally exhausted, the two men emerged from under the bed – without the mouse but in a state
of friskiness. Locking glances, they knew what they had to do, and Starsky followed his partner to the living room.

The
remaining mouse was trying desperately to escape the basket and had made it halfway up the side when a large hand grabbed
it and put it into a bag.

“Ouch!” Hutch yelped. “It bit me!”  He pointed the Hutchinson finger at his partner and glared as he tightly closed the
bag.  Without a word the pair left the apartment and followed the path to a field.

“Here you go,”
Starsky said, taking the bag out of Hutch’s hand.  He shook it gently on the ground so the mouse could leave.

“Look
at the bag, Starsk,” Hutch nodded -- and Starsky couldn’t believe his eyes. The tiny creature had already gnawed
a hole through the bag and was long gone.

Wow, I never thought ...” Starsky murmured, shaking his head. “When
I saw the baby mice it seemed like a good idea at the time to take care of them.”

“And now?”  Hutch
draped an arm around Starsky’s shoulder as he spoke.

“No more mice – one’s enough.”
Starsky shuddered thinking of the mouse still running loose in his apartment somewhere.

The two men walked back slowly,
stopping outside Starsky’s place instead of going inside.  After a short conversation which both ended by nodding,
they got into Hutch’s battered LTD and drove away toward Hutch’s home - leaving the mouse behind.



The
End

 

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