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“Hutch? I wanna play a game, Hutch.”

“What? A game? I thought you wanted to watch TV.”

“You can’t play a game while watching TV at the same time?”

“Depends on the game, I guess.”

“It’s called What If.”

“Whateef? What’s a whateef?

What If, dummy. And stop smiling like that. I can tell you’re smiling even with that porn moustache a’ yours.”

“Did you just call my moustache a –“

C’mon, Hutch! Play this game with me!”

“Okay, okay. Let’s play this game of yours.”

“Okay … What if, what if we hadn’t had pizza and soda for dinner tonight?”

“Huh? Uh, well … if we hadn’t had that, we would have … picked something else to eat?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Something you like to eat. Something both of us like to eat.”

“Like burritos from Juan’s?”

“Thank god there’s that vegetarian, non-toxic, non-homicidal burrito on his menu, at least.”

“Burritos can’t be murderers. They aren’t alive. Well, okay, maybe parts a’ them were alive ‘fore the butchers got to them and –“

“Starsky, is this What If game of yours just you trying to subtly complain about not eating burritos tonight?”

“No! The pizza was great! You know that, you ordered my favorite, with extra toppings too and – oh, ooh, I see what you’re doing. Don’t think you can turn your face away and hide that smirk from me!”

“I am not smirking.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m not.”

Yes, you are! Look at you! You’re trying not to laugh now!”

“What, is it a crime now to laugh?! What if I do laugh?”

“S’long as it’s not at me, laugh all you want.”

“What if I do want to laugh at you?”

You – oh, you’re not even bothering to hide it now, you – you chicken!

Aah … I missed this, Starsk. A nice, calm evening after a good meal, relaxing in front of the TV with my best buddy, with not a care in the world.”

“Aw, Hutch.”

“And even better, we don’t have to wake up at 6AM tomorrow. Just one of the many perks of being a private eye with flexible hours.”

“Hutch?”

“Yeah?”

“What if … what if we’re not cut out to be PIs?”

“You think we’re not? You’re … having second thoughts about things?”

“No, I … I just, I dunno. I only got the official green light from the Doc a couple a’ weeks ago to be working full-time again and … I dunno, maybe you’ll … you still got time to –“

“Time to what? Change my mind?”

“I dunno. Yeah. Maybe.”

“Starsk. We talked about this already. Remember what I said?”

“Yeah. ‘Starsky! This is the last time we’re talking about this and my answer’s still the same: You’re my partner no matter what happens and I’m sticking around for a long time so you better get used to it!’”

“You know, you do a pretty good impression of me.”

“You oughta see my impression of you when you’re all constipated after eating Juan’s burri- hey! Stop that! Stop it, stop – aaaahhhh! That tickles! Stop it, Hutch! I’m dying here, stopitstopit!”

“Now who’s the one smiling like a goofball, hm?”

“You’re crazy, you blond blintz.”

“Yeah, crazy for y- … Uh, yeah. Crazy. So, what if I really am crazy?”

“Is that a trick question or something? ‘Cause you already are crazy for –“

“Starsk, if you’re even thinking of telling me that I’m crazy for sticking around and starting a PI agency with you –“

“Actually, I was gonna say you’re crazy for letting that moldy caterpillar grow above your lip for –“

“What if I shaved it off?”

“Wha … are you serious?”

“Yeah. What if I shaved it off?”

“Uh. You’d look, uhm, better without it.”

“You like me better without it?”

“I like you all the ti- I mean, I’m just saying, you’ll take off at least ten years with it.”

“But you prefer it gone, right?”

“I … well, what if I do?!”

“Consider it gone by tomorrow morning.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Uh. Okay.”

“The casual nonchalance in your succinct reply belies the gargantuan grin spreading across your impish features.”

“Man, I love it when ya use big words like that.”

“Who would have thought you’d be so easy?

“Dumbass!”

“Are you referring to me or to yourself?”

Ooh, come ‘ere, you! I got a friend here on the end of my left arm who wants to say hello to your face! Hutch! Get back here! Get – oh, don’t think you can run away from me just ‘cause ya got long legs! I’m gonna getcha! Gonna getcha, Hutch!”

“Starsky! Starsky, buddy, think about what you’re about to do here, I’m still full of pizza and Coke and jumping on me is not a good id–“

“HUUUUTCH!”

STAAARSKYYY – OOF!“

Aaaaah, oh man, Hutch, you shoulda seen the look on your face!”

You try lying down on the couch watching and feeling a 160-pound guy flying through the air and landing on top of you!”

“Did I hurt you?“

“No, of course not. Takes a lot more than a meatball like you to squash me – HEY!

“This meatball’s got quick, ticklish fingers, you keep that in mind.”

“I will, I will.”

“Hey, Hutch?”

“What?”

“Your shoulder makes for a nice pillow.”

“Well … you’re not too bad for a blanket. You’re rather hairy in certain places but …”

“But?”

“Hairy is just fine.”

“Good answer.”

“Starsky … what if we buy that house on Ocean Avenue?”

“Oh, man, that would be … but Hutch, we already crossed it off the list ‘cause it’s outta our budget.”

“By just a bit.”

“Just a bit can sometimes mean the difference between having a meal each day or starving for days.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve figured out how to cover the rest of the cost.”

Huuutch –“

“Seriously, I have. And you don’t have to worry about it.”

“So why aren’t you dishing out the details for it? I don’t like it when we aren’t splitting things fifty-fifty, ya know that. S’not fair to you.”

“Doesn’t count if it’s a gift.”

“A gift –“

“So, what if we buy that house on Ocean Avenue? I know you love it to pieces. You can’t fool me. You were practically floating when we explored the place yesterday.”

“I … you … okay. Okay, if we buy the house, we’re splitting everything fifty-fifty.”

“Deal.”

“That’s it? You’re not gonna argue with me about it?”

“Nope.”

“Oh. Okay then.”

“I’ll call the realtor up first thing in the morning. Right after the moldy caterpillar goes.”

“Oh. Oh yeah, that. You – you’re serious about that too?”

“Yep.”

“Hutch?”

“Hmm?”

“What if … what if I wanted to lie here, like we are now, till we fall asleep?”

“Since it’s almost summer, we don’t need a blanket. Well, I already got one anyway.”

“A rather hairy one.”

“A rather hairy one. Comes with its own heating system too.”

“Too hot?”

“Sometimes. A lot of the time.”

“Bad hot or good hot?”

“Guess it depends on whether I get to stick around for a long time.”

“What if the answer’s … yes?”

“Then it’s the good hot.”

“Hutch?”

“Mmm?”

“What – what if … what if your best buddy tells you that he loves you?”

“I’ll tell him right back that I love him too. Without a doubt.”

“And what if … if he tells you that he – that he isn’t interested in dating anyone else again ‘cause he’s … finally found the person he wants to be with forever?”

“I … I’ll tell him I – I hope it’s me.”

“Hutch …”

“Starsk?”

“What if the answer’s … a definite yes?”

“Then I – I’ll t-tell him that it’s too good to be true be-because I’m not that lucky and he deserves someone so much better –“

“Hutch?”

“W-what?”

“Shaddup and kiss me already, will ya? Ten years is a long time to wait for a kiss, ya know.”

“I … oh, Jesus –“

Mmmmmmm …”

Mmm … Starsky …”

“Wow … oh, wow, scratch what I said. Ten years was – ten years was totally worth the wait for a kiss like that.”

“Beautiful. You’re so beautiful.”

“Stole the words outta my mouth, you big, blond beauty.”

“What did you call this game, again?”

“What If, Hutch. What If.”

“So what if we play it for a really long time, Starsky?”

“How long we talking here?”

“Oh … fifty years. Something like that.”

“What if the world ends tomorrow?”

“Will you be there with me if it does?”

“Ya gotta ask? It’s me and thee, babe. Till the end.”

 

Fin