This story was inspired by a S&H Facebook writing prompt to include the words "anger," "window" and "damp." It was to be 300 words or less, but this story took on a life of its own and insisted on going until done at 875 words. Sorry about that.
Special kudos to John, critical friend and my partner-in-crime, for the idea of writing about the fixer-upper.
I acknowledge William Blinn as the original creator of "Starsky & Hutch", along with Aaron Spelling, William Goldberg, Joseph Naar, David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Bernie Hamilton, Antonio Fargas and Company.
Hutch's anger soared as the window he'd struggled to open came crashing down on his hand, showering him with assorted shards of glass and timber.
The clamor brought a startled yell from Starsky in the next room. "Hutch, are you OK?!"
"No, n-not, not hardly!" Hutch managed to splutter at last, wrestling with the broken window to free his hand.
Starsky rushed to his aid. "What happened?"
"What happened?! This House of the Rising Damp is what happened! Starsky, I can't believe you took our money and squandered it on this pile of, of, of DERELICT JUNK!"
"Your hand's bleedin'. Let me fix it up."
"Forget it, Starsky!" Hutch snapped, pulling away. "I'll see to it when I get home."
"We need at least to get your hand under some running water. C'mon, huh?"
Starsky steered a seething Hutch to the kitchen tap. The house shuddered in a thunderous uproar as Starsky turned on the tap and brown water sputtered out in fits and bursts.
"Just what I need, a dose of botulism to help my tetanus!"
"Um, let's try the little boys' room," Starsky suggested as, still holding on to Hutch's arm, he led him to the bathroom, dodging pails that littered the floor. Hutch accidentally kicked a bucket and stumbled. Starsky steadied him as Hutch looked up to see daylight peering through the ceiling. "More good news," he muttered through gritted teeth.
"At least we don't have to worry about puttin' in a skylight," Starsky joked.
The bathroom plumbing was no better than the kitchen, sending tiles flying from convulsions the tap wrought when it was turned on.
"Um, well, at least we've got water," Starsky optimistically observed.
Hutch was incredulous that his partner could think these ruins were an answer to an investor's prayer. As he'd told Starsky when they'd first arrived that afternoon, the only way to fix this house up was to knock it down. But undeterred, a buoyant Starsky had taken his friend by the arm and coaxed him to the front porch. A door was propped as a ramp in place of steps that had crumbled away. As they went to cross this threshold of dilapidated dreams, Hutch's foot had fallen through the door. He'd sat on the porch railing to catch his breath, but the railing collapsed and sent Hutch tumbling down onto the ground below. A flea-ridden excuse for a mattress had broken his fall.
"This house is a DEATH TRAP!" Hutch now decried.
"C'mon Hutch, it's not as bad as all that."
"No, it's WORSE!"
"Now just use some of that imagination I know you have lurkin' somewhere there," Starsky cajoled.
"So help me Starsky, if I hear you talk one more time about a lick of paint here and some shrubbery there, I swear I'll, I'll, I'll …"
"OK, OK," Starsky conceded and stepped away. He quietly moved to another room and took a breath as he looked out its grimy window whose glass was at least there and intact. Hutch came in and saw his friend's crestfallen face.
"Ya know, Hutch, I really wanted you to like it. I thought you'd be pleased."
"Why?" Hutch asked, his voice softening.
"It wasn't just about makin' a buck. Maybe I was a bit off-base there. Ya know me, sometimes I see these things through rose-colored glasses. Ya know, the glass half-full?"
"Yeah, but Starsk, this house is as devoid of any prospect as that dead spider over there."
"I guess so," Starsky said with a heavy sigh.
Hutch bit his lip and went quiet.
"Ya know, Hutch, ya work so hard, we both do, and I see how ya care about things ya can't fix. Like with people like Roxy and Belinda and Sweet Alice. And Elijah and the other bums on the street. You're always there lendin' a hand, and sometimes it works, like Kiko and Molly/Pete. But things don't always turn out so swell, like Roxy the other day, and I see how that gets to ya. I figured this house would be somethin' ya could sink ya teeth into fixin' up, with me."
"You really think that?"
"With your ideas and my hands, we could turn this place into really somethin'."
Starsky gave his friend time to mull it over.
"You really believe we could do this?" Hutch finally said, his voice more gentle. "Fix it up?"
"Well, we need to fix your hand up first," replied Starsky, noticing the blood continuing to seep through Hutch's makeshift bandage.
"C'mon, Hutch, it ain't near as bad as some of the injuries you've had."
"I was just remembering the last time I was at the hospital with a wounded hand."
"Oh yeah, Crazy Diana."
"I've got ya back. Won't let ya leave my sight. We'll ask for a nurse we know."
"That won't be hard to find."
As they left the house, a more upbeat Hutch made sure Starsky locked up. A futile gesture, really, but it spoke volumes as they trod lightly over the threshold of renewed hope and walked back to the car with a spring in Starsky's step.