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COMMENDATIONS AND AWARDS

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The crowd was restless, murmuring during the break as Captain Babcock made his way to the lectern and microphone. As soon as he began speaking the crowd hushed, every ear strained to hear what he would say about Lieutenants Starsky and Hutchinson. The quiet hum of all the television cameras was the only sound in the large room.

“I would like to thank all of you for coming. For showing your love, respect and support for Lieutenant David Starsky and Lieutenant Kenneth Hutchinson.

“Mayor Storchio has been delayed in arriving, so I will try to express her sentiments on this… “

“I’m here! Wait! I’m here!” Mayor Storchio was panting as she made her way across the dais and to the lectern. She shoved a young usher aside who had been trying to help her step up onto the platform set at the front of the large stage. She apparently forgot that she was wearing a mike as everyone heard her say, “Get out of my way! Don’t touch me! I’m the Mayor!”

The crowd laughed and coughed to cover the laughter. The Mayor’s sense of self-importance was well-known. They watched as she almost stomped to the middle of the long tables set up on the stage. She was puffing by the time she got there. Her weight had ballooned out of control since winning her re-election two months ago.

“Thank you.” She huffed to the sparse applause she received.

“It’s a privilege for me to be here tonight. And an… “ She paused, as if searching for a word. “… well, it’s a privilege to be here to… honor… “ Again she paused as if that word choked her up. “To honor Lieutenant’s Starsky, She gestured to her right. “and Lieutenant Hutchinson.” She gestured to her left.

Chuckles and laughter broke out in the audience as Hutch spoke. He pointed to himself and said, “I’m Hutchinson.” He pointed to the man sitting on the other side of the Mayor and said, “He’s Starsky!”

“Yes, yes, whatever. Let’s move on. As your Mayor I would like to talk to you about what I have planned for the future of Bay City.”

Both Starsky and Hutch started to stand up, but Babcock quickly stood, grabbed some papers from the table, and walked up to the Mayor. “Mayor Storchio, I was given a message that there’s a phone call for you in the back.”

It was clear she didn’t want to leave her place in the spotlight, but nodded at the Captain and walked off the stage.

Babcock set the papers on the lectern. “I’m sure we will all miss hearing what the Mayor had to say…”

Laughter interrupted him. “But I do have some things to say about why we are really here.” Applause greeted that statement.

“When I attended the academy, I kept hearing the same two names mentioned, over and over. ‘Starsky and Hutch’. As I listened to what was being said, I wondered, ‘are these guys for real, or what’?”

There were stories of how Hutch was shot, the bullet barely missing his heart… but he left the hospital to help find out where Starsky was being held. And he managed to do that, AND, to rescue him and his temporary partner in the nick of time.

“I also heard a story about Hutch being missing and everything Starsky did to try to find him. How Hutch had been trapped under his car in the hills for three days. And how Starsky wouldn’t give up. He kept turning over rocks and pushing people to give him the information he needed to save his partner. Which he did, again, in the nick of time.

“These two men grew into almost mythical proportions for all the lowly recruits.

“The more stories I heard of their ‘reckless’ bravery, the more I prayed, ‘PLEASE, don’t let me be assigned to Metro when I graduate from the academy!” Laughter greeted this, including Starsky’s and Hutch’s.

“When I graduated I found that God must have missed that prayer, because I WAS assigned to Metro.” More laughter.

“I met Starsky and Hutchinson and was amazed that they weren’t the ten-foot-tall giants I had been expecting. And my prayer became, ‘God, PLEASE don’t ever let me be partnered up with them!’”

As Babcock listened to the audience chuckle he nodded. “Yep. A big narcotics bust was going down at a warehouse and I was to work with them.”

“They briefed me on what they expected to happen and how they were going to handle it. They detailed what my role would be. I would stay with Starsky while Hutch worked his way close to the criminals. They planned to flank them and hopefully take them without firing their weapons.

“I can tell you… antiperspirant does NOT work in situations like that!” The crowd roared with laughter. Starsky and Hutch laughed and looked at each other, both remembering that day.

“Hutch was almost in place. I had my gun in my sweaty hand.” He paused. “The next thing, I know, Starsky grabbed my shoulder and pushed me behind him. I heard him fire his gun and I heard Hutch’s gun firing.

“Starsky had me pinned between his back and a crate that we had been hiding behind. When the shooting stopped, Hutch yelled, ‘You two okay?’ And Starsky answered, ‘Yeah.’

“Starsky turned to me and asked if I had been hit. I told him ‘no’. He pulled me out from behind him and said, ‘Then let’s check these guys out.’ Just like nothing had happened. Like he hadn’t probably just saved my life, he was all business.”

Babcock stopped to take a sip of water from the glass on the table before him.

“I tried to thank Starsky, but he brushed it off and said, “You would have done the same for me.’”

"We cuffed all the criminals and turned them over to patrol units. Starsky grabbed me by the shoulder and herded me to his car with Hutch. We drove to a bar called ‘The Pits’ and they took me inside and bought me a beer. Both men asked again if I were okay. I admitted I was a little shook up. They both raised their glasses to me and said, ‘Welcome to the brotherhood. When you stop being shook, it’s time to get out.’

"Then talk turned to mundane matters. They never once berated or yelled at me for freezing when the bust went sour.

“That’s the day I learned they weren’t giants, but they were perhaps the best detectives and men I had ever met.” Applause interrupted him. “They were just men, who wanted to do the best job they could do. And for whatever reason, that’s what they did.

“I have seen their unspoken communication at work, first hand. They can share with a quick look, a tilt of the head, what would take others twenty minutes to say out loud.

“I have seen their compassion for those hurting, lost, helpless. I have witnessed their generosity and caring for victims of crime. I have seen their tireless work at solving crimes others said weren’t solvable.

“When Captain Dobey, God rest his soul, passed, I was called into his office by the Commissioner. Starsky and Hutch were there. They were both staring at me. I was sure one of, or both of them, would be named the new Captain. Instead, they both started to tell the Commissioner about what a great Detective I was. They talked about my arrest record, and how much they respected me.

“The next thing I knew, I was the new Captain of Metro.

“And they were promoted to Lieutenants. They chose to work on cold cases and teaching part time at the Academy. And of course to be my sounding boards.” He had to stop for a few seconds. “They have shown me over and over that sometimes rules have to be broken to get the job done. And they have shown me how to deal with the Commissioner when he wanted to know why those rules were broken.” He laughed with everyone else in the building.

“Starsky and Hutch have the highest arrest and conviction rates of any Detectives in the United States.”

There was applause at that comment. “Bay City should be proud of these two who chose to make this place their home, and chose to protect it, as only they could.” More applause.

“So, it is truly my honor to present them with these commendations for Services far above and beyond the call of duty. Also with these awards for their long years of service to the people of Bay City.” Applause again interrupted him.

“And it is with mixed feelings that I wish them happiness as they retire from the force.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lieutenants David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson.”

The crowd roared their approval as Starsky and Hutch stood to speak.

Both men seemed uncomfortable with all the attention. They managed to quiet the crowd. Starsky stepped up to the microphone. “Thank you, Captain Babcock. You shouldn’t be telling lies about us like that!” When the laughter from the crowd subsided, Starsky continued, “Me and Hutch just did what we were paid to do, what we thought was the right thing to do. But we thank you for this party and for coming out to support us and wish us goodbye. Hutch?” He motioned for Hutch to trade place with him.

“Uh, what Starsky said. We didn’t do what we did alone. We had records clerks and patrol cops, informers, and good citizens who called in tips. We couldn’t have done this without all their help. And we had Captain Dobey, who will forever be missed by us and others.”

He stopped and looked at Starsky. There was a moment where everyone in the room realized they were witnessing first hand their famous silent communication.

Without a word spoken, they moved toward each other. They walked right into each other’s arms and, in front of everyone in the room, they proceeded to kiss each other. A full-on lip lock with tongues included.

The room was stunned silent for only a few seconds before erupting in thunderous applause.

When the kiss ended, Hutch looked at Captain Babcock, who was smiling and asked, “Are we through here?”

When Babcock nodded ‘yes’, Hutch turned back to the mike and said, "Then I'm taking my award and going home.”

Starsky jumped into Hutch's arms and locked his legs around Hutch’s waist. Hutch put one arm around his back and his other hand cupped Starsky's ass. They kissed again and Babcock, Huggy, Kiko, Molly, Cal, and Rosie all stood and began whistling and yelling encouragement. Within a few seconds 90% of the crowd was on their feet clapping and cheering wildly.

They looked at each other, shrugged, kissed and Hutch carried Starsky off the stage, out of the room and outside to the street.

Starsky slid down Hutch’s body. They stood, almost in each other's bodies.

“Are you ready for this?”

“Ready for what?”

“Happiness.”

Starsky grabbed Hutch’s hand and they ran across the street to Starsky’s car.

“Ready? You better believe it, blintz!”