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BLESSING IN DISGUISE

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BLESSING IN DISGUISE


















































"Sam,
I don’t say it again: Look for the registration documents, or you’re fired!” yelled the dark-haired man
searching through the desk drawer. “Where did I put the keys, dammit?” He wiped over his sweat-beaded face and
pushed an unruly curl off his forehead.

 


David
Michael Starsky knew he was in trouble if he didn’t deliver the needed documents tonight. Twenty Chevrolets were supposed
to be shipped south that night, and Tony d’Amato would have a fit of rage if the transaction didn’t go smoothly.
David had heard that the boss wasn’t the kind of man who forgave easily any mistakes.

 


Hastily
David opened the bottom drawer – and gave a sigh of relief. There were the spare keys! David forced himself to calm
down. There was no need to panic. Maybe tonight was his chance to face the man who had changed his life to the worst.

 


Images
of a crumpled person lying on the pavement crossed his mind, and his heart ached. The memories were fresh like it had happened
yesterday – that his father was shot and he had witnessed the assault, when he was just 14 years old. It had happened
sixteen years ago and the crime hadn’t been solved since then. David Michael Starsky had promised himself to find the
murderer of his father, no matter the cost.

 


He
had been a kid who adored his dad. He had yearned so to become a policeman like his Dad. Together they had been to the parade
and David had admired the uniforms of the policemen marching in formation. Fellow cops knew about the boy's wishes, and whenever
there had been a chance to sit in a police car, David had been taken for a ride. David remembered that he had hoped to assist
in arresting a perp some time, but he only had earned a hearty laughter when he had voiced his wish.

 


There
had been times when father and son had disagreed about David spending too much time with not so honorable friends, and David
had opposed his father vehemently. He couldn’t see the danger in hanging around with his friends, and if there had been
any doubt about their honesty, he hadn’t noticed. But his father knew the reputation of some families too well and tried
to influence his son to stay away from them.

 


Then
his father was killed and everything broke into pieces. David had to give up his wish to become a policeman. The education
would have been too expensive. Instead, he had to support his mom and Nick, his younger brother.

 


Where
had the times gone? David sighed and looked around in his little office. The grey walls needed a paint and the neglected furniture
looked as if it would fall apart every minute.


David
hadn’t cared much in all the years; what had driven him on was the thought of revenge to find the murderer of his father.

 


Members
of his gang had given him hints about the men who could be involved in the crime, and so David had hired the little garage
and had started to earn his living by buying and selling used cars. He loved cars and learned very quickly to deal with them.
First he worked alone for several years, but then the work increased and he was given more and more orders by his old gang.
He didn’t care if the deals were more or less illegal. When he hired the young mechanic Sam, he treated him rudely not
caring why he acted this way. Maybe he wanted to keep his distance to hide the kind of business he was doing – how far
had he made from the dreams of his youth when he had longed to be a policeman like his father.

 


David
looked at his watch. It was time to leave. He had made lots of deals with many people in town, but tonight it would be different.
He had heard d’Amato to be a powerful man among the car dealers, one who didn’t hesitate to reach his goal. That
meant he wanted to expand his business - just the right opportunity for David to butt in. The twenty Chevrolets would be delivered
with wrong documents, and nobody would ask any questions. David hoped to become d’Amato’s new partner and at last
to take his revenge.

 


So
far, he hadn’t seen the man, he had only been in contact with a clerk of the boss, but tonight he hoped to face the
man who probably had something to do with the murder of his father. David shivered and noticed that the temperature in the
room had cooled down; obviously the heating had broken down again.

 


“Mr
Starsky, here you are.” Sam entered the office, holding the folder in trembling hands, and his voice didn’t sound
quite confident. David felt sorry for the young man.

 


“No
offense. But you know, tonight I need to be in time. Go home. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sam nodded and retreated
hastily. Starsky remembered himself being at Sam’s age. Where had all his dreams gone? All of a sudden David saw his
father again, smiling at him, holding him and telling him about his job. Since then David had wanted to be a cop – and
where had he landed? In a little garage; dealing with used cars. If his father knew that the business he was in wasn’t
at all so honorable…

 


The
clock on the grey wall tolled eight times and David woke up from his musings. He grabbed the folder and the keys, and hurried
out of the garage. Chilly air reminded him that he should put on his leather jacket, and he turned back. Even more behind
schedule, he thought, looking frantically for the jacket. Where had his sense of tidiness gone? It seemed he had lost all
what had been important to him, when his Dad was killed. His little brother Nick had always been the one who left his toys
everywhere in the house and his mom had only smiled forgivingly. Now it was the other way round. Nick pretended to please
their mom, ingratiating himself to her. In fact, David suspected his brother being involved in some dubious affairs. What
a crazy family they had become after the death of their father…He laughed without humor.

 


David
got into the Camaro and started the engine. Shortly, he thought of taking Sam with him, as a kind of support, but at the same
moment he decided against it. He didn’t want Sam to be involved with this deal. He checked the time again and accelerated
with squealing tires.

 


He
forced his way through the heavy traffic cursing loudly when he was blocked by any truck or slow driver. When he reached the
outskirts, the roads were less frequented, and he gave a sigh of relief. Thinking about his situation, he had to admit that
his life had become a one-way road, and he wasn’t sure what was expecting him at the end.

 

D’Amato
was a car dealer who had connections all over the country. He was specialized in exporting to
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America
, and nobody asked about correct papers –
as long as the police didn’t get wind of it.

 


The
docks appeared in front of him; to the right he could see water, glistening lightly in the moonshine. To the left there was
a huge building, and at the end of the pier, he could make out some activity.

 


David
slowed the car down and leaned forward to have a better view of the place ahead. The dark silhouette in the background was
a ship, and he saw that one car after the other was lifted into the deck.

 


He
took a deep breath and got out of the car, the folder with the papers and the spare keys in his left hand.

 


“Stop!”
a voice snarled, and something hard pressed against his side.

 


“It’s
me, David Starsky, and I have got the papers for the transaction,” Starsky hurried to say, and turned his head to face
the man behind him.

 


“Okay,
go ahead, the boss wants to speak with you.” The man looked like a boxer, with his smashed nose. He pushed Starsky forward
in the direction of the building in front of them. Starsky was getting nervous and excited at the same moment. Did that mean
that he would meet up with d’Amato?

 


His
heartbeat quickened when they neared the entrance of the large hall. There were only a few cars left that were to be forwarded
up into the ship.


In
the middle of the sparely illuminated hall, David could see two men standing together. They both turned their heads when he
approached.

 


“I
hope I’m not too late.” David’s voice didn’t sound quite confident, and he hated himself for it. He
squinted his eyes to get a better view of the men but their faces remained in the dark.

 


“Okay,
let’s get the deal done.” The bigger man hesitated and stepped out of the shadow. David looked the man in the
eye, and he was shocked to the core. Although the man had aged, David recognized him in an instant; it was the man who had
bent over his father after he had shot him.

 


It
was as if time stood still. His father had been lying on the pavement, and David had been in shock, unable to move on. The
man had run off, and only then had David realized that his dad was seriously hurt. Everything that had happened afterward
had stayed in David’s mind in a horrible scene, repeated over and over in countless nightmares. And now he was facing
the man who had killed his father, smiling at him confidentially and reaching out his hand.

 


“Yeah,
you’re a bit late, but if we hurry, it won’t take long.”


A
hand grabbed David’s and squeezed almost painfully.

 


“Wanna
talk to you, kid. Where are the other twenty Chevrolets you promised me?” Tony d’Amato’s smile froze when
he saw David’s puzzled face.

 


“C’mon,
hurry, I’ve got customers waiting for the cars!”

 


“We
never talked about more than twenty cars. Here’s the documents and the spare keys.”

 


David
stretched his arm out, offering the folder and the keys. He felt that he had been deceived by d’Amato, and a rage built
up inside him. There was his father's killer standing in front of him, trying to betray him and what could he do? He was no
policeman and he had no gun – what had he thought when he started looking for revenge? Scolding d’Amato for having
killed his father? What kind of chance did he have to overpower this man with the huge man still lurking behind him?

 


“Hey,
have you lost your voice? For the last time: Where’s the rest of the cars? I wouldn’t want you to feel my anger
about a failed operation like this. C’mon, give me the documents, the keys, and tell me at once where the rest of the
cars are!”

 


D’Amato’s
face had turned into a shade of red. Rough hands grabbed David from behind.


The
boxer took the papers out of David’s hands and tossed them to his boss. Before David knew what was going on, his hands
were brought behind his back. Pain shot through his arms when his wrists were tied tightly together.

 


“I
don’t understand…” David said and his eyes widened in fear when Tony d’Amato approached him, a satisfied
smile on his face.

 


“As
luck would have it, I was told that you were looking for me. Well, it’s the same with me. For years I have been longing
to find that boy who witnessed some things he shouldn’t have seen. I had no idea you are the son of the cop Michael
Starsky. I’m happy to meet you at last, though I’m sorry that it isn’t under the best circumstances. Ya
know, I would have preferred to let my men do the work, but now that we’re here, let’s finish the job.”

 


With
a nod, he motioned the boxer to put his hands round David’s neck. David struggled to break free but with tied wrists,
he had no strength, and already felt the strong hands tighten round his throat.

 


Shortly
before he lost consciousness, images of his father, smiling at him, crossed his mind. His mom was looking sadly down at him
while Nicky played with his toys. David knew that he was dying, and he hoped for a better life when he met his father again
–where ever it would be…He felt a stabbing pain in his side and keeled over. Everything went black.

 


***

 


She
held him against the wall of the dressing room and slanted her mouth over his, her arms wrapped tightly around his waist.
She moaned in his mouth and murmured words of passion, but Ken Hutchinson pushed her off.

 


“I
told you it’s over, Cathy – hm, Dr Swenson, and now leave me alone. I have to start my nightshift. The third shift
this week, and I’m wondering if you have something to do with it.” He gave a tired smile, and knew that he was
right when she looked triumphantly at him.

 


“Cleverly
thought, Dr Hutchinson. I wanna be with you and there won’t be a lot of activity tonight. It’s Monday and I thought,
a little come-together would suit you, too.” Purring like a cat, she embraced him again and pressed her body against
his. Before his body could react, he grabbed her arms almost roughly and shoved her back.

 


“Let’s
leave it, Dr Swenson, and I won’t say it again.” With that, Ken turned to go, and he heard her hissed words.

 


"You
don’t do this any longer to me. Wait till you need my personal review about your work. You’ll never find a job
as a doctor, not in this hospital or in any of the others in town. See you, Dr Hutchinson!”

 

Ken
felt sick when he left the room to make it to the ward where he was supposed to stay the night. He was so fed up with the
situation. Ever since he had started as a resident at the hospital in
Brooklyn
, Dr. Swenson, the chief physician, had
had her eyes on him.

 


She
was an attractive person, and it didn’t take long they had an affair. It was nothing binding for him, but she seemed
very possessive, and didn’t accept any refusals. On the contrary, she followed him, called him in his free time, by
day and by night. Finally he stopped answering the phone. She didn’t let up, belittling him in front of his colleagues,
trying to talk down his work.

 


Ken
hurried to the ward, worried that he would hear her footsteps rushing behind him. But she hadn’t followed him. He took
a deep breath and sat down at his desk. Who knew what she would come up with the next time? Why were so many people expecting
him to act like they wanted?

 


His
father had coaxed him into taking medical classes, and he had been successful, as always. But who had asked if he was happy
in this job? Sure, he loved to help people. Maybe it was the suffocating way Cathy Swenson treated him that made him want
to quit the job, today sooner than later.

 

When
the phone rang, he ignored it. To go back to

Duluth
, his hometown, wasn’t an option; his parents would take him in, using him
to represent the wealthy family on various events, and he would hate it. The phone rang again, and still he didn’t answer
the call. Then he heard footsteps in the hall, and an orderly entered the little office.

 


Breathlessly,
he said, “Doctor Hutchinson, I’m John Simpson. We need a doctor in the emergency room. Dr. Fender isn’t
there, he had to make an urgent home visit. There's a guy with a serious knife wound. I tried to call you but…”

 


“I’m
quite occupied here. Can’t you find another doctor who is supposed to work in the ER?" Ken wasn’t up to leaving
his quiet ward right now. He had just made the decision to quit the job, and the sooner he filled out his resignation, the
better. It was time to move on – where to he had no idea, but he had no other choice to leave the hospital rather than
live with Cathy's back stabbing ways. He rummaged in the drawer of his desk looking for paper.

 


John
Simpson stepped nearer, and said in a pleading voice,

 


“I
know that you are needed here, too, but if I promise to keep an eye on your patients, you could have a look at that wound.
It looks as if the guy had been stabbed seriously, and he’s losing a lot of blood. I don’t know if he’ll
make it and…”

 


Something
in his voice told Ken that the matter bore no delay. With a sigh, he got up and nodded his acceptance. He followed the man
down to the ground floor where the emergency unit was. In the hall, he caught a glance of a very worried young man pacing
the distance from one corner to the other.

 


“That
man brought him here,” said John and led Ken into the room with the cubicles, some of them drawn by curtains. Ken could
hear soft moans from one of the gurneys. John drew the curtain back and pointed to the figure lying there.

 


“You
need any assistance, doc, before I leave?” John asked.

 


Ken
frowned. What he saw made his stomach lurch. The man in front of him lay motionless, his face was as pale as a white wall.
His breathing was labored and the clothes were soaked with blood. Ken had to act immediately. He gave instructions to the
orderly to bring the necessary equipment, and sent for a nurse. Then he bent over the figure and felt for a pulse. The man
moaned and moved his head to the side. Damp curls hung in his forehead.

 


Acting
on impulse, Ken touched a strand and said, “Shh, keep still. Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.”
The young man moaned again, and Ken removed his hand, fearing that the man had injuries on his head, and he was hurting him
even more.

 


The
dark-haired man seemed to regain consciousness and mumbled something incoherently. Ken bent closer and heard, “Dad…murder…No…leave
me…Dad…”

 


“Shh,
everything is going to be all right. We’re going to take care of you. What were you just saying?” Ken asked, but
was distracted by a nurse pushing in a mayo stand with equipment.

 


In
the next hour, they did all to save the man’s life. An IV was started, and Ken injected lidocaine around the stab wound
before he sutured it up. Then he bandaged the patient and gave him a blood transfusion. He told the nurse to settle the man
in a room when his gaze fell on the man’s neck. Dark bruises could be seen there, and Ken frowned. Had someone tried
to strangle the man, too, to be sure that he would die?

 


When
the man was settled in a room, Ken checked on him again and applied some ointment on the bruised skin of his neck. The man
moaned and seemed to regain consciousness. Ken was about to leave the room to return to the doctor’s lounge when he
heard the man in the bed say in a weak voice, “Thanks, doc. Can you tell me why I’m here? I remember being at
the docks, and then I have no idea what happened.”

 


Ken
stopped and turned around. He frowned and looked at the sick man in the bed. Dark eyes were looking at him questioningly,
and Ken remembered that the man had mumbled some words earlier. He moved to the bed and sat on the edge.

 


“I
remember you saying something about ‘Dad’.” Ken took the chart in his hand where somebody had scribbled
the name of the patient. “David Michael Starsky, is that you?”

 


Suddenly
the man got agitated. He grabbed Ken’s arm in a desperate grip and said,


“I
remember! They killed my Dad. I found him, the murderer, and then, I don’t know…” The words became slurred,
and Ken thought of calling the police. Someone obviously had committed a crime; he had an injured man in front of him and
the case had to be investigated.

 


“I’ll
call the police. First you need to get some rest. Is there anyone who needs to be informed that you are at the hospital?”

 


But
the man had lost consciousness again. Ken studied the man. He could be about his age. His body was lean and muscular and his
face looked haggard and gaunt. He lay there, vulnerable and weak, and Ken asked himself what had happened to him.

 


He
thought of the nervous man waiting in the hall before, and he decided to have a talk with him.

 


“Sir,
are you the man who brought Mr Starsky here?” Ken saw a man, lying half asleep on the couch in the waiting room, and
he leaned down to pat his shoulder, Startled, the man sat up straight and looked at Ken.

 


“How’s
he doing? Man, I went crazy when I saw what they were doing with him…” The man trembled and Ken put his hand on
his arm.

 


“Who
are you and can you tell me, what happened to Mr Starsky? I’m the doctor here and I have to write my report.”

 


Expectantly
Ken looked at the young man.

 


“Thank
you, doctor. I’m Sam Fowler, and I work for Mr Starsky. Well, I wasn’t supposed to do so, but I followed my boss
to be sure that the deal was going okay. And then at the docks, I saw that something was going wrong. They had my boss in
a tight grip and it looked as if he was strangled. I did the only thing I knew.”

 


Sam
stopped talking and looked down at the floor, blushing slightly.


Ken
waited patiently, and Sam continued in a quiet voice. “I put the light on the roof and shouted ‘police’.”

 


“You
want to tell me you were driving a police car? So you are a policeman?” Ken wanted to know. Sam shook his head and blushed
even more.

 


“No,
sir. I work as a mechanic in Mr Starsky’s garage. We deal with used cars. When I saw that my boss was in trouble, I
thought of the flashlight I had in my car. I used it and shouted ‘police!’” Sam looked at Ken, and when
he saw a smile on the doctor’s face, he smiled, too.

 


“Yeah,
that’s it. The guys suddenly left for good, and I found my boss lying on the ground. He had difficulties breathing,
and I noticed that he was bleeding. So I brought him here.”

 


“Thanks
for doing so. You saved Mr Starsky’s life. Now you should go home and get some rest. Your boss is sleeping right now.
He’s going to be fine.”

 


Once
again, Ken patted the young man’s arm and watched him leave. It must be wonderful to have a friend who cared enough
for his boss to follow him and rescue him. Ken smiled when he got up. He would sit just a minute with his patient, checking
on his condition.

 


Ken
took a bedside chair and drew it near to the bed. He dimmed the light so that he was just able to see the patient’s
face. David Starsky looked more relaxed now. From time to time, he moved and moaned in his sleep. Ken put his hand on the
covers, and he was amazed that it seemed to calm down the patient. Ken decided to close his eyes for a moment to think of
the things he wanted to do next

 


***


The
pain was hard to bear. David tried to find a position that was more comfortable. His side was burning and he hitched a breath
to cope with the pain. He opened his eyes and was surrounded by an unfamiliar room. It looked like a hospital room and he
panicked, not knowing what had happened. He wanted to get up, to get away. He moved despite of the increasing pain, but suddenly
there was a soothing hand that touched his shoulder.

 


“Shh,
everything is going to be fine, don’t worry.” David had never heard that voice and he turned his head to know
where it came from. There was a man sitting near his bed, his blond hair glowing in the dimmed light. If he wasn’t in
such a pain, David could have imagined easily that he was in heaven with an angel in front of him.

 


He
croaked, “I don’t believe in angels, but you look like one.”

 


“I
don’t believe in angels either. By the way, I’m Dr Hutchinson and I took care of your wound.”

 


“I’m
David, my friends call me Dave,” David said without thinking. He tried to smile despite of the pain.

 


The
blond man reached his hand out and took David’s.

 


“Nice
to meet you, Dave. I’m Kenneth, but you can call me Ken. How are you feeling? Can I get you anything? Some ice chips?”

 


David
nodded and Ken got up to leave for the ice chips. David closed his eyes. He felt amazingly at ease and couldn’t explain
why.

 


“Here
you are.” A hand supported his head and the other one fed him with ice chips. David enjoyed the refreshing cold. When
he had enough, he gave a little sound and Ken guided his head back in the pillows.

 


“Thanks,”
whispered David and closed his eyes. Somehow the pain had become


bearable,
but he shifted restlessly and had difficulties breathing .

 


A
large hand settled on his shoulder, and its warmth seeped into his body. Then the hand moved in small circles cupping his
shoulder, and Ken’s soothing voice whispered words of comfort. David relaxed and turned his head in direction of the
voice.

 


Everything
was going to be all right.

 


 

The End

 

 

 


 

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