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The Curse of a Small Catfish

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"The Curse of a Small Catfish"

Thank you for Sparkle731 for beta reading this. Some changes after she did, so any errors are unintentionally mine.

Reviews appreciated.

Starsky and Hutch never got hurt when they were on vacation. It was when they were working, one or both got injured.

Right now they were on vacation at a lake. They were relaxing and drinking Coke for a change instead of their usual beer. When Hutch got through with his drink, he picked up his fishing pole and put a shiny metal lure on the end of his line. He was careful not to cut himself on one of the two hooks on the end of the lure. The plastic part of it had been given to him by his fiancée, Sunny, and it read: You're the best Dad. The sentiment made Hutch smile each time he saw it, even though in actuality, he wasn't a dad yet. But when he became one, Kiko, his little brother through the Big Brothers and Sisters Program, and of course Starsky, would be his and Sunny's kids' honorary uncles.


Kiko was on vacation with Starsky and Hutch. Not interested in fishing, he was sunning himself a bit down the shore from the two.

"Hey, Hutch. I want trout for dinner. Not salmon, bass, walleye, or crappie. Okay?"

"Not being rude, Starsk. But what we're having for dinner is whatever fish are biting. However, I'll do my best to catch you some trout."

"That's mighty swell of you, pal!"

"Ain't it!" Hutch said with a grin. Then added, "Speaking of catfish, remember what I told you the last time we went fishing. Their barbels don't sting."

"Tell me again what the barbels are. I forgot."

"No, you didn't."

"No, I didn't what?"

"Forget what they are."

"Oh." Then, "Kiko and I love to hear you sing, so sing anyway what they are and loudly enough so Kiko can hear you too."

"You've got to be kidding! You can't really want me to do something as silly as that?"

"No, I'm not kiddin ya."

"Yes, you are."

"Am not."

"Am too."

"Am too, what?" Starsky replied.

Hutch rolled his eyes. Then, instead of his usual tenor, tried something different. His first time singing opera, he hadn't done badly at all, belting out several times in a row, "Barbels are a fleshy filament growing from the mouth or snout of a fish and look like cat whiskers."

When he had finished, he took a bow to Starsky and Kiko's enthusiastic applause.


Hutch had caught two large trout and had already cleaned them, and Starsky and Kiko began gathering the wood to cook them.

Hutch had just snagged a catfish on the end of his fishing line. This smaller than the trout he'd caught. He was taking it off the hook when he heard a mockingbird mimicking the tune to "The Barbel Opera" as Starsky had named it, and so did the brunet cop and Kiko hear it.

That's when Hutch yelled, "Ow! Ow! Ow! Oh man, this hurts!" His momentary loss of carelessness holding the catfish was being injured by both the dorsal and pectoral fins.

Surprised at being finned, but managing to drop the fish into a small pool of lake water and keeping it from swimming away into the main lake, the catfish would be part of their dinner after all. Providing he could get unstuck from the gooey mud he was standing in, that went up to his ankles.

A catfish's fins are behind the head on each side and on the top of the fish behind the head. Also, the spines in the dorsal and pectoral fin hold a venom that causes swelling, along with increased blood flow in the area of the injury if these spines puncture the skin as it had unfortunately done him. It was just his luck that smaller catfishes' spines are the ones that most often do that because the tips of these spines are often like needles! In larger catfish, the spines blunt.


Huggy Bear had once told Starsky and Hutch he had twenty uncles who were doctors, and all had informed him if anyone is finned by a catfish to clean the wounds immediately with hydrogen peroxide or any other antiseptic, then cover the wounds with a clean dressing.

Starsky had dropped the wood in his hands and headed for the camper to get the medical supplies to perform first aid on his working partner and best friend.

Hutch dragged his feet out of the muddy sand, hearing it make a slurping sound as he pulled loose from the suction.

"Stop!" he shouted. His hands still hurting with their maddening throbbing.

"What for?" asked Starsky.

"Just stop. Will ya!?"

"Okay. But what for?"

Hutch didn't answer him. Instead, he carefully used his severely painful hands to withdraw the catfish from the small pool of lake water and rubbed the puncture wounds on the slime on the fish's belly. Fifteen seconds on each hand and to his relief, the pain had stopped! Now it was time to let Starsky treat the puncture wounds with the clean tap water and peroxide from the camper, and cover them with a clean dressing.

Kiko appeared at their sides, "Hey, Hutch. While Starsky is at it, how about letting him treat that cut on your left elbow?"

"What cut on my elbow? I don't see a cut," Hutch informed him, bending his elbow and looking at that part of his lean, not overly skinny, athletic body.

"The cut's right there. Do you see it now?" Kiko pointed to the spot.


"Then, Big Brother. You must be blinder than a bat 'cause it's right there."

"Oh. Now I see it and feel some stinging going on in and around the cut! I'll let Starsky tend to it too."

"Too rhymes with booze," Starsky interjected. "Thought ya might want some to dull your embarrassment of letting yourself get finned by a little ole' catfish. Although if it helps any, I'm very, very sorry you did get finned by it."

"Hey. It was that mockingbird's fault I got finned in the first place and naw on the beer. Give me another Coke, will ya? That is after you complete first aid on these wounds in my hands and the cut on my elbow."

"Sure thing," Starsky said seriously, then got in a playful mood, continually winking an eye at him.

At first, Hutch jovially went along with it by groaning.

Followed by telling Starsky, "Go play on the freeway."

After that, "I did a lot of fishing growing up in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and never got finned by a catfish!"

Then, "Oh no! I just remembered Huggy told us all twenty of his uncles had people claim they got infections from rubbing their punctured hands on the slime."

Next, "Oh yeah. His uncles also said there's no way to tell if the infection is from being punctured by the fins in the first place, or afterward rubbing the wounds on the slime. Although they suspect that in most instances the infection isn't from the slime."

Kiko then cut in with, "One of my aunts has been fishing for over 30 years and although she has never been finned, knows those who do and use the belly slime trick to get rid of the pain and have never got an infection."

"I suppose your aunt would tell me to don't come crying to her if one of my hands anyhow gets an infection and falls off," Hutch said dryly. Not amused when Kiko replied, "Probably."


"These potato chips, potato salad, and coleslaw, but especially these trout and even that catfish sure were good eating!" Starsky said rubbing his full belly. Hutch and Kiko, who'd had their fair share of the meal, didn't hesitate to agree with him.

The next day the puncture wounds in Hutch's hands still had no pus in them. And currently, he was telling Lenny, a twelve-year-old boy the same age as Kiko, and also part of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program, how to fish using a worm on one hook before graduating to using anything else.

Though Hutch liked Lenny a lot, he technically wasn't his big brother through the program. A guy named Ralph was and had dropped Lenny off for Hutch to take care of while he went and did who knew what.

Then Hutch, Starsky, and Kiko heard probably the same mockingbird mimicking the tune to "The Barbel Opera."

The problem was it was the first time Lenny was also listening to it and it was such a pleasant tune he quit watching what he was doing. Casting the fishing pole's line with the worm on the hook too close to Hutch! The worm fell off and Hutch was quick with trying to get away before the hook snagged him. But then he tripped over something, and although he didn't fall, the hook embedded itself in his upper lip!

His lip was instantly big and fat and his "Ow!" sounded more like "OOOOO" with the puffiness. He hadn't meant to say anything and upset Lenny more than he already was about hurting him, even though it had been unintentional.

"Bettertohavehookinlipthanineye," Hutch managed to slur out of his profusely bleeding mouth.

Then his lip began stinging something furiously! And was just a tiny bit shy of bringing tears to his eyes. The pain was that bad. Hutch wasn't about to trust Starsky to try to take the hook out, and Starsky didn't want to do it, anyway. Lenny's mother unexpectedly showed up and agreed to watch the boys while Starsky took Hutch to the closest doctor.


A few more days spent at the lake and Hutch, Starsky, and Kiko went boating. Lenny had gone home to spend time with his mother.

There still was no infection of any kind in Hutch's hands, but his lower lip was still very painful even if it also wasn't infected. Additionally, while everyone else was cool, Hutch was uncomfortably hot and sweaty due to the afternoon sun and outdoor temperature. Nevertheless, he put his physical discomfort out of his mind. Determined to finish out their time at the lake enjoying himself.

Starsky was behind the wheel of the boat, and was doing just fine in the lower gears, but was nervous as all get out and go about driving the thing in the highest gear. Hutch encouraged him to do it. Promising the extra speed would make the boat ride even more fun, and to Starsky's relief, found out it was!


Hutch wanted to go waterskiing, but it was a strict business policy of the boat's rental place for safety reasons that an employee drive the watercraft, and Wilson was assigned.

Starsky and Kiko stayed on the boat, clapping their hands at the skiing tricks Hutch was performing.

Later on, Wilson stopped the boat to let Starsky and Kiko jump off and join Hutch swimming in the deeper part of the lake. But to prevent drowning, Wilson had demanded that the Mexican teen continued to wear his lifejacket.

A half hour later, Starsky and Kiko got back on the boat. But Hutch wanted to do some more waterskiing.

Again he was doing just fine on the skis, and no birds could be heard singing anything, so he shouldn't run into any problems. When some dandelion that had gone to seed got into his eyes. At first, the itching was tolerable. But then he couldn't take it anymore and furiously rubbed them with one hand while the other continued to hold on to the ski rope's handlebar.

Then shortly after the itching let up, Hutch began thinking about the exhilaration he always got of a boat whipping into a turn and then he let go of the handlebar, gliding across the water on his skis and then dropping into the water and close to the beach shore.

He made a motion to the driver to make the turn and Wilson did, and Hutch would've let go of the handlebar, but the puncture wounds in his hands suddenly had made them freeze up. Not able to do anything about it, he wasn't any longer skiing on the water, and his skis splintered on the many pebbles on the beach!

He was still in motion and losing his balance, leaned all the way to the left and feeling the whole left side of his body being scraped on the pebbles.

His torn and cut flesh looked like raw meat. He had too many broken bones. His screams of pain echoing across that part of the lake.

He ended up spending a lot of time in a hospital that had great wound care, and also orthopedic and physical therapy staff, and had plastic surgery on his body that restored much of his good looks. Still, good looks aren't everything. But when he was on the job was able to go back to using them to obtain the information he needed and might not otherwise get if he wasn't handsome. This information mostly from females, but also males.

Endnotes: Several years ago my dad got finned by a catfish, so that's where I got the idea of Hutch being finned. Also, the waterskiing accident Hutch had has some similarities to the one a 1st cousin had when my dad was driving his boat. Thankfully, though, my cousin didn't get hurt as nearly as badly as Hutch. Also, one of my relatives by marriage got a fishhook in his lip and if I remember right, by someone casting their fishing pole too close to him.