From where they were stationed, Hutch didn’t have a clear view of the warehouse, but he knew some of the other federal agents had the place in sight. They had inconspicuously watched as several motorcycles pulled up a few minutes ago, but according to Hillyard who radioed back, Starsky and Diesel wasn’t one of the men who entered the place.
Hutch could feel the cold hand of fear twisting his insides out as he worried about his partner. If everything went according to schedule, the bust would go down in approximately five minutes. He knew Starsky was feeling lousy when he left Venice Place and it tore him up to give his friend the bottle of cocaine, but if it would make it easier for the brunet and get him through this day, then Hutch resigned himself to do it.
“Maybe you should think about giving him some coke tomorrow before he leaves . . . like I said before, the man is gonna need it to function . . . you seen him . . . he’s as weak as a kitten. He’s playing with some mean cats, and Starsky’s gonna need to have his reflexes
and mind sharp as ever.”
“I know you don’t wanna do it, Hutch, but if you don’t give him a fix, you might just be sending him to his grave . . .”
“He’s gonna have to kick the habit from tomorrow on anyway,”
Hutch frowned, his mind drifting back to what the proprietor had told him. Huggy was right after all, one more day wouldn’t kill Starsky, and he’d have to suffer through withdrawal soon enough. Thoughts of Starsky hurting, craving, searching frantically, desperately, through his bedroom for the small bottle of powder filled his mind with despair . . .
“You okay, Hutch?”
The tall blond turned to look at his captain who sat rigidly beside him, sweat pouring down the side of his dark face. “Yeah . . . j-just worried,” Hutch said, “Don’t know why Starsky wasn’t with the rest of the bikers who just showed up.”
Dobey frowned, “Well, maybe he’s already inside.”
“Maybe,” Hutch conceded. “But something just doesn’t sit well with me. I’m worried Captain . . .” Dobey opened his mouth to say something, but the static from the walkie that sat between them silenced the rotund captain, who watched as Hutch made a grab for it.
“Yeah?” Hutch said breathlessly, his heart skipping a beat, as the voice on the other came in loud and clear.
“This is Hillyard. The truck with the shipment just pulled in. Bikers are letting the truck inside now, we will converge at the warehouse in 5 minutes . . . got that?”
“Yeah . . . Starsky . . . do you see him?” Hutch asked anxiously, wishing he could see the warehouse from where he was.
There was a slight pause and Hutch wondered if they had lost connection, but then Hillyard’s voice came through once more. “That’s a negative . . . no Starsky in sight . . . 5 minutes and we converge . . .”
“Yeah, got that . . . 5 minutes.” Hutch put the walkie-talkie down and looked to his captain who still had that worried frown across his brow.
“Captain . . .” Hutch began.
“We’ll find out soon enough,” Dobey cut in. “You’re partner’s one hell of a cop, he’s gonna be okay, Hutch. This will all be over in five minutes.” The large black man reached out a heavy hand and laid it on the blond’s shoulder, as if to soothe the frazzled detective. “It’s been a long haul for the both of you son, let’s keep the faith, huh?”
“Yeah,” Hutch said softly, starting the engine as he glanced at his watch. The battered LTD took off to the warehouse meeting up with other federal agents, their cars, vans and wagons all converging in front of the warehouse at the same time. “This is the FBI . . . come out with your hands up.” The warning from the bullhorn caused havoc and mayhem to erupt.
Shots rang out as the task force entered the warehouse. Bikers from different chapters, their colors merging together, ran in all directions to try to escape the net that surrounded and eventually captured them red-handed with the huge shipment of cocaine that they were unpacking from the large wooden crate. In all, three bikers were killed, one of them was Mad Dog as he stood his ground and fired repeatedly at his enemies. The five other bikers that were wounded, and two agents who were shot, were quickly taken to the nearest hospital.
Amid the chaos of agents cuffing bikers and evidence being collected, Hutch quickly searched the warehouse from top to bottom, a sense of foreboding and panic filling his heart when he was unable to find his partner. The tall blond had just come out of the upstairs office when he heard the familiar bellowing of his captain.
“Hutch! Hutch come down here . . . dispatch has a patch through for you . . .” Dobey hollered, “Said it has to do with Starsky.”
The tall blond flew down the steps, jumping the remaining few in his haste to get to the car, his mind racing as fast as his feet, as thoughts of his partner flashed through his mind. “Yeah?” Hutch panted, quickly grabbing the mic from his captain, “Yeah, patch it through,” he said abruptly, waiting impatiently until he heard the soft voice on the other end . . .
“Yeah . . . This is Detective Hutchinson . . .”
“Hutch?” the gentle southern voice drawled softly, “It’s me Handsome Hutch . . . it’s Sweet Alice.”
“Sw . . Sweet Alice?” Hutch stammered, “Oh my god . . . what . . . where are you? Dispatch said you know something about Starsky?” The blond detective’s mind raced. ‘What was Sweet Alice calling him about? How did she tie into Starsky’s disappearance? If she were hanging out with the outlaws, then she would be able to blow Starsky’s cover . . . did she finger his partner?’ Hutch could feel sudden anger fill his heart at that thought.
“Listen, Handsome Hutch, I’m not sure I’m doin’ the right thing, ain’t never been too sure about that one, but Starsky’s in a whole heap of trouble. They’re gonna take him out to a place called the abyss. They know he’s a cop, Hutch. His cover’s been blown.”
Hutch could feel a shiver of fear run up his spine. Starsky had mentioned this ‘abyss’ before, the night he came over and spilled his guts about Brody. He could feel his hand trembling and he clutched the mic tighter to still the tremors. “Where Alice? Wh-where’s is this abyss? You have to tell me . . . I’m at the warehouse now and . . . S-Starsky’s not here and neither is Deisel. Where did he take Starsky?”
Alice paused, thinking of Diesel, his gentle caresses and warm kisses, the way his eyes softened as they stared into hers. ‘What if Diesel got hurt because of this? Was she making the right decision? Yet Starsky would surely die if she didn’t . . .’ Her mind flashed back to that night where Starsky had put his vest around her cold shoulders, the way he grinned at her when he said he would marry Hutch before she did, the turmoil he’d been in that night and the words she’d spoken to encourage him . . .
“You can’t save the world Starsky . . . people like me and Diesel . . . well, I guess we’re the fools in life, and if prison is the pain we must go through, then so be it. We all make our own choices in life. Don’t you stop from doin’ what’s right, jus’ because others don’t stop from doin’ what’s wrong.”
She thought of Diesel’s strong arms wrapped around her and how that made her feel safe and . . . and loved. If she were completely honest with herself, Alice knew that she was falling for the tall blond biker. ‘Hell, I’m already in love with ‘im,’ she corrected herself silently. There was something so special about Diesel, something that reminded her of the man she was talking to right now on the phone. Never in all of her born years had a man treated her as kindly as Diesel did, and it tore at her heart to think that she might be betraying her man after getting him to trust and share his thoughts with her in the first place. Indecision made her pause a moment longer, but the sharp voice on the other line brought her back to the present . . .
“Alice! Where is Starsky and where the hell is this abyss? You have to tell me Alice, please . . . Starsky’s life depends on this. I-I need you to tell me if you know . . . please Sweet Alice . . .”
Alice closed her eyes and clenched tightly to the receiver, as she heard the desperation in Hutch’s voice. Taking a deep breath, the petite blonde spoke quickly before she could change her mind. “Listen up Handsome Hutch . . . I got Diesel to tell me where that place was. The abyss is a deep well that the club has used to dispose of bodies. It’s been a secret place that only the chapter leaders have known about. The former president of “The Minions” owned some property that had this old dried up well on it. He used it to hide some rival outlaw biker that he had killed off. Since then, it’s been the club’s secret place where they ditch people they hit. That’s all I know Hutch. I think they’re gonna take Starsky there and dispose of him that way.”
Hutch closed his eyes, fear for his partner overtaking his senses as Alice’s quiet voice filled his mind. “Thanks Alice, thank you so much! When all of this over and done with, I’d like to see you again.”
Alice smiled, her heart breaking in two, torn between friendship and love. “H-Hutch?” she called out suddenly as she felt the detective about to hang up. “Be careful, Handsome Hutch, and please . . . please be kind to my Diesel . . . he’s been so nice to me and he’s the only man that’s ever come close to you.”
Hutch could hear the quiet desperation in the woman’s voice, and he knew that Alice had probably sacrificed her man to save Starsky. The tall blond could feel his heart well up with gratitude for Alice, who he knew had so little in life to look forward to. “I will, Sweet Alice, I promise. I have a feeling that Starsky cares a lot about him too.”
The tall blond detective hung up the microphone, his pale blue eyes tracking the van that just pulled up into the area fronting the warehouse. He recognized the surveillance van that taped the going-ons in Starsky’s apartment, after spending so many hours and weeks in it, trying to watch his partner’s back. “Hey Jason,” Hutch called out, recognizing the young agent who stepped out of the van, “Hey, have you seen Starsky?”
Jason turned at the calling of his name, “Starsky? Hutch, didn’t Hillyard or Slate inform you of the call I put in a while back, before the bust went down?”
Hutch could feel himself tensing, the anger in his eyes reflecting the quiet restraint he put on his volatile emotions. “No, what call? Fuck! God damn it, no they didn’t. Tell me Jason . . . where’s my partner?”
Jason cleared his throat, wondering if he wasn’t supposed to say anything. If Slate and Hillyard had kept this information from the BCPD and from Starsky’s partner, there might be an official reason for doing so. The young agent looked away from the desperate, angry gaze of the blond. He had worked with Hutch on several nights, staked out in the van with him and had gotten to know Hutch as a decent, hard-working detective. If the truth were known, he really liked the tall blond and he wracked his brains trying to figure out why his superiors had kept secret the information regarding Starsky’s abduction.
Hutch could see the indecision that crossed the young agent’s face. “Jason please,” Hutch whispered, reaching out a hand to place upon the agent’s shoulder. “Please . . . he’s my partner . . . t-tell me what you heard . . .”
“His cover was blown,” a tall black agent replied calmly. Hutch had no idea who this older man was, his eyes immediately dropping to the ID that was clipped to his dark brown jacket. Hutch looked up at the black man who leaned upon the hood of the van, wiping the sweat from his brow with a soiled handkerchief. “Name’s Taylor . . . heard everything on the earphones . . . your partner was smart enough to turn on the bug. That’s how we knew exactly when the shipment was coming in. It sounded like they roughed him up a bit, and Starsky tried to get them to tell him where they were taking him, knew we were listening on the other end, but they wouldn’t divulge any information on the whereabouts of this place called ‘The Abyss”.
“The abyss . . .” Hutch murmured, dropping his eyes, his mind running rampant as he thought of his partner, remembering how weak and hurt he’d been as he rode away from Venice Place.
Hutch looked up to see Slate and Hillyard talking to Dobey across the way. The tall blond could feel the pent up rage and frustration take hold of him and he hurried across to the trio. Grabbing Slate by the lapels of his jacket and shoving him roughly against the sedan they were standing next to; hearing the older man grunt in pain brought a slight sense of satisfaction to the angry blond and he shook Slate once again for good measure.
“Hutch! Hutch what the hell . . .” Dobey bellowed, trying to pull his man off of the older agent. “What the hell is going on?”
“Tell him!” Hutch snapped irately, his pale blue eyes flashed angrily, enraged beyond belief by the stupidity of the two agents heading this whole operation. “You tell my Captain how you set up my partner who even now, might be dead!” Saying those words out loud was like a dagger to his heart and Hutch shoved Slate away from him, backing up a few steps, seething as the older man stammered, “W-well, we n-needed to ensure the success of the operation f-first.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Dobey demanded, “Where is Starsky?”
“Unfortunately, Detective’s Starsky’s cover has been blown,” Hillyard calmly. “Now there’s no reason for this kind of violent reaction, we have everything under control.”
“Their taking him to the abyss Captain,” Hutch said angrily, “He’s hurt and alone and these fuck ups have known about his capture since before the bust went down. They’ve had a head start . . .”
“Dammit!” Dobey swore, his dark face clouding over in rage, as he grabbed Hillyard by the lapels of his jacket and slammed his weight against the shocked agent, who gasped as the air was knocked out of him. “If my man dies because of your stupid call, I will personally hunt both your asses down and make sure you are never in a position to hurt another undercover cop again!” The seething black man turned a bloodshot eye to Slate, who shrank back even more.
Hutch glared the frightened agents and sneered. “That makes the two of us, Captain! If Starsky’s dead,” the blond took in a breath, closing his eyes against the horrid image that filled his mind, “ . . . if they’ve killed my partner . . . I’ll be back . . . and you can count on it!”