Hutch stood by the window at Starsky’s place, mesmerized by the tropical storm that had spent the last three days visiting Bay City and vicinity. He smiled around the lip of the long neck beer bottle he had forgotten he already drained. Hutch wanted another, but he knew he'd never leave Starsky’s tonight if he indulged.
Hutch shrugged to himself. Who was he kidding? He knew when Starsky started the day reminding him that it was Friday the thirteenth,then went on to regale him with spooky horror stories Starsky swore were true, that he would be right where he was tonight. If he were honest with himself, there was nowhere he would rather be.
Hutch jumped as he felt something ice cold roll across his neck. Starsky’s own beer bottle.
“Starsk! Cut it out! What are you, six?”
Starsky, as usual, was completely unrepentant.
“Hutchinson, you are too easy. Where were you in that blond head of yours? You… okay?”
Hutch noticed the hesitation. He wondered if Starsky was thinking that he was thinking of that bitch, Kira. Hutch certainly didn’t want Starsky dwelling on that fiasco tonight.
“Actually, partner, I was looking for ghosts between the raindrops. After all, most of those campfire tales you spouted of to me today started with, It was a dark and stormy night.”
“Yeah, well, they were all true, at least to your knowledge. Not that I’m counting, but that’s your fourth beer. You ain’t gonna chase ghosts away by getting plastered. I’ll order a coupla pizzas. Oh, and I’m takin’ your keys, metaphorically. You drink that, you stay the night. Hey wanna play a game?”
Hutch tried to steel his expression, even though he knew Starsky saw right down into his soul most days. They were almost back to normal. The hurt in Starsky’s eyes at Hutch’s recent betrayal was slowly turning to an odd sort of loving concern. Starsky was worried about him. Hutch hadn’t decided yet if he preferred the raging anger. That he could take. He deserved it.
Hutch lifted his beer. “Not really up for monopoly, pal. Reminds me too much of that rich scumbag we’re trying to take down. What is it about having money that turns a man to crime?”
“Maybe it’s the not having it. Nobody wants to go back to the streets once they fight their way out. Righteous morality tends to fly out the window when hunger and need knock at the door.”
Hutch took a long drink. It hurt Hutch’s heart knowing that his friend was probably speaking from experience.
“True, Starsk. But in some men it builds character and a sense of wanting to give back.”
Starsky ducked his head. He could never take a compliment from Hutch without making it into a joke. Hutch waited.
“Well, rich kid from Duluth. You can pay this boy back by paying for the pizza. So, Monopoly is out? I don’t feel like chess or backgammon. Oh, I got this game at a tag sale the other day. Hold on a sec.”
Hutch went to the stereo as Starsky rummaged in his bedroom closet. He turned on a light jazz FM station he liked for background music. Starsky emerged from his bedroom, the grin on his face like sunshine on a rainy day, or night.
“Found it! My grandmother used to play with this all the time. I didn’t know they still made them.”
Curious, Hutch took the box from his hands and read the descriptions.
“A ouija board? Speak to the spirits? Is this a joke, buddy?”
“No, no. It’s fun. Look it’s made by Hasbro. They wouldn’t try to con ya. You never heard of this?”
Hutch raised his eyebrows. “Nope. My grandmother would have said I was possessed by the devil and tanned my hide if I tried to speak to the spirit realm. Okay, I’ll give it a go.”
Starsky lit up the room and Hutch had to chuckle. If Starsky only knew how much Hutch would be willing to give to have his partner happy, whole and by his side for eternity if not longer.
Starsky literally bounced to the kitchen to set up the board. It only took a minute, since the game had only two parts. The board itself and the planchette.
Hutch sat at the table and picked up the board.
“Hutch, I’m gonna call for pizza. You want your regular healthy veggie concoction?”
“Yeah. Thanks babe.”
“No problemo, Blondie. I’m getting a garbage pie, a little of everything. Rain always makes me hungry.”
Hutch snorted at that statement, while he looked over the Ouija board. It had a Victorian look to it with dark colors and vintage ornate letters. In the left upper corner was the word, yes, adorned with a smiling sun. The right upper corner held the word no, and a quarter moon. At the bottom was the word ‘goodbye,’ with images of a mystic playing the game on either side. The middle of the board held an arched alphabet and below it a line of numbers, one to zero.
Hutch picked up the oddly shaped planchette. It was plastic, roughly heart shaped with the word ‘ouija’ along the edge. The center held a round, clear window with a small metal pointer in the middle. Hutch turned it over to find three small feel. He wondered how it worked. He didn’t have to wonder for long.
“Okay, babe. Let me explain. It’s real simple. No winners or losers or rules.”
Hutch snorted again. “Definitely your sort of game, buddy.”
“Shut up and listen, wiseguy. You’ll make the vibes negative with your snarky attitude.”
“Wouldn’t want that.”
“Pay attention! See you put the plastic thingy in the middle and place your fingers lightly on it, like… like when you are typing on a typewriter.”
Hutch really laughed at that. “You mean when I type. You’re gonna hunt and peck the spirits to death.”
“Just… just… do it. Come on. Put your fingers on the damn thing. Then we ask a question to get things rolling.”
“Okay, Starsk. Don’t get mad. I said I would play. But I don’t see how…”
Starsky relaxed his shoulders and placed his fingers on the planchette. Hutch did the same.
Starsky spoke softly, “Are there any spirits willing to talk to us tonight?”
A minute passed and Hutch opened his mouth. Just then the planchette violently moved to yes, almost falling off the board with its power.
“Holy shit!” Hutch called out. “What the hell? Starsky you moved that… that thing.”
Starsky chuckled. “Hutch, geez. Calm down. That’s how it works. Here you do it yourself. The spirits won’t mind.”
Starsky placed his hands palms down on the table. Hutch once again placed his fingers on the planchette. He stuttered out a question.
“Ummm. Who… who are you?”
Hutch gasped as he felt the plastic move beneath his fingertips. He knew he wasn’t doing it. It moved gently this time, hovering over letters as Starsky read them out.
“M. I. C. K. Mick.”
Hutch glanced at Starsky who shrugged, them put his fingers back across from Hutch’s.
“Hi there, Mick. Welcome. You got a message for us?”
The planchette seemed to come to life and moved quickly around the board. Starsky repeated each letter out loud.
“D.A.N.G.E.R. B.E.W.A.R.E. T. H. R. E. E. B.L.O.O. D.Y. H.O.L.E.S.”
“Shit!” Hutch stood and nearly fell over his chair. He wiped at his face. As Starsky had read the words aloud, Hutch had seen a flash of an image of his best friend dead with three bullet holes in his jacket. Blood seemed to still be dripping in front of his own eyes. He couldn’t catch his breath.
“Hutch? Hey, Hutch come on, babe. It’s okay. It’s just a stupid game.”
Suddenly organ music filled the apartment, rather the the light jazz Hutch had selected moments earlier. Hutch swivelled violently with the strange sensation that someone was behind him. A knock came to the door and Hutch tripped over the coffee table, sending it crashing to the floor.
“Jesus, fuck!” shouted Starsky. He ran to the stereo in time to hear the DJ apologize for a technical difficulty. He turned it off. Starsky hesitated a moment before going to Hutch. He jerked open the door to find the pizza guy looking bored, but slightly curious.
“Hold on a sec, pal. Gotta get my wallet.”
Starsky ran back to Hutch who had lifted himself onto the couch, still breathing heavily.
“I’m okay, Starsk. Go get the pizza. Here.” Hutch tried for his wallet, but Starsky held him back.
“Sit. Don’t move. I got this.”
Starsky threw a twenty dollar bill at the pizza guy and grabbed the two boxes from him. Starsky hoped the huge tip made up for the door slamming in his face. He dropped the pizzas on the counter and bounced back to Hutch.
“You okay, babe? You hurt anywhere? You hit your head?”
Starsky had his hands all over Hutch. Hutch took one long shaky breath and wrapped his arms around his partner holding him close.
“I saw you dead, Starsk. Three bullet wounds to the back.”
“Hey. Hey, Blondie. I’m here. Nothing’s wrong. I should have known you were a sensitive guy. It was just the game messing with your head. I’ll burn the stupid thing if you want.”
“No! Starsky, no! I gotta know what happens. I gotta know how to keep you safe. It’s gotta tell me how!”
Hutch pushed Starsky away. He moved swiftly across the room and sat at the kitchen table. He placed his trembling fingers on the planchette.
“Mick, please. Tell me how to prevent it.”
Starsky placed his hands on Hutch’s shoulders. He said a silent prayer that Mick would placate his friend. Then he would destroy the board.
The movement started slow and steady, as if it was trying to break bad news as easy as possible. Starsky read out the letters and words as before.
“G. U. N. T. H. E. R. H. I. T. P.O.L.I.C.E. G. A. R. A G E. M.A.K.E. M.Y. S.O.N. W. E.A. R. A. V.E.S.T. I .L.O.V. E. Y.O.U. D.A.V.I.D.”
The planchette jumped to the word ‘goodbye’ and flew off the board. It broke into pieces as it hit the kitchen floor.
Starsky whispered, “Mick -- that was what the guys called my father, Michael. That was my pop, Hutch.”
Hutch stood slowly and took Starsky in his arms. “Listen and listen good, David Starsky. We are bringing this Gunther guy down. You are going to wear a vest under your shirt. Don’t give me any grief about it. Because I’m here and I’m alive and I’d do anything to keep you safe, Anything. I love you too, and I can’t live without you, babe.”
Starsky held Hutch close as he cried, murmuring soft words of comfort and placing light kisses on his hair. He looked down at the ouija board and whispered, “Thanks, Mick.”