Hutch could remember that miserable day. The clouds hanging over the sky, so grey. Full of sadness. He was standing at the grave of his second best friend.
He knew Barney Franklin of the 19th precinct a year earlier than his recent partner David Starsky, who had become his best friend over the years.
Franklin was shot on duty. That was the greatest fear of a cop.
Not to be shot, that would go with the territory but to leave your wife and kid.
Okay, Hutch knew a lot of Barney’s associates would look after his widow for a while and the insurance she got from the police department wouldn’t leave her without any money. But the time would come that the support of friends would fade away. They would all be to busy with their own lives or loose interest.
The moment had come. Hutch had always stayed in contact with Gwenny and the little girl she raised her own from that moment on.
He had been there when cancer was discovered on Gwenny.
Hutch mind flew back to the present. Slowly he put down the telephone, he let it hang midway in the air. The hospital had called. White as a sheet he was , the receiver got on the hook. He thought he would have been prepared to have say goodbye to Gwenny in a few years, when the cancer would have gotten terminal. But he wasn’t prepared for this news he just heard.
His partner across the table addressed him but he didn’t notice, he was so inside his own memory. Feeling the pain of his friend’s wife, the shock, that she could be dead within two years. The voice of her, full of crying and sobbing that he had witnessed a month ago made him drift away from the room. He didn’t hear a thing what Starsky was asking.
Far away his name penetrated his ears, clouds filled his head with dark thoughts, what about the little girl, Starsky’s words didn’t reach him at all because he started to murmur the name, “Francis, Francis”, over and over again.
Only the hand of Starsky on his shoulder and the firm command made him come back to earth. He felt the squeeze of fingers in his muscles. He looked up, and saw the concerned eyes of his partner, who must have walked from his desk towards him. He hadn’t noticed until now.
When the voice spoke, “Hutch, what’s up?”, he started to shiver.
Starsky pulled an empty chair towards the desk, always turned it backwards. Hutch gave a little sour smile, the day that his friend would use a chair how it should be used would never come. No, only when cows gave beers.
His name was spoken sympathetically again, “Hutch what’s going on”?
“Got a call”. It was a stupid thing to say but Hutch couldn’t get more words out of his mouth at the moment.
Starsky hadn’t been his best partner in crime and friend for years and he waited patiently until the words came out.
“Hospital called”, Hutch hand ran through his hair.
Starsky guessed, he knew what was on Hutch's mind the last four weeks, he had talked about Barnie’s widow diagnosed illness, so he asked, “Gwenny”?
It was hardly recognized but Starsky saw the little nod. He waited and looked with his eyes for a response into the sad ones of Kenneth Hutchinson. A cop admired by so many woman.
“She, she is , the the hospital… Oh Starsk”.
Starsky swallowed, he knew when Hutch started to stutter, his partner was very much emotional. Automatically his hand came up to the lower arm in a comfortable reassuring grip.
“Is it getting worse?”.
Hutch followed the response to go ahead of telling the bad news he just received
“She, oh my God, she is dead”.
Starsky saw how the blond head bowed forwards and the jaw jump down.
His heart dropped one beat, felt the pain Hutch was going through. Hutchinson and Franklin had been very good buddies. And Hutch was the only person who ever kept a close friendship with the widow.
“But how Hutch, how can it be”?
“She committed suicide, co…. couldn't live with it, she.... she left a note”.
Starsky’s blood started to run through his veins and closed his eyes, which he opened in a second again. Oh my goodness, it suddenly hit him, the little girl.
Hutch had grew fond of that child. As his partner was always fond of children. No not really, his partner was fond of everybody that hadn’t a life as most people did.
The hookers he met, the junkies, the kids from the street. Hutch always was drawn to them because he cared.
Before Starsky could respond, he heard Hutch voice tremble.
“Gwenny, had no family, and .. her child will be placed in …. Into juvenile what…”, he almost chocked in the sentence, “what am I going to do?”.
The large fingers covered his eyes for a moment, shaking his head, “she is all alone. I need to take care of her”.
With one big swing, Hutch pushed the chair away and headed toward the door.
Starsky hadn’t seen his partner in this deep despair for a long time. Immediately he pulled his leather jacket of his stool, in two steps he was out of the squad room to follow the man, who didn’t even notice that he pursued.
THREE DAYS LATER.
Starsky gazed across the room, he couldn’t believe his ears. Hutch wanted to adopt Francis.
“Hutch you are crazy, you are a cop, you work 14 hours shift, where will that leave the kid”?
“I will ask Fiffy”.
“Fiffy”, Starsky eyes became angry, while he spit out her name, “yeah and she will say yes, so she can wash your shorts and cook for you, Hutch you are out of your mind, you disliked her remember?”.
Starsky knew he was talking against a brick wall, Hutch was on a mission and he wouldn't stop, not at this moment at least. But he had to try again.
“Hutch, you need to think this over properly, give it some time, before you go ahead with this”, agitated his hands were thrown up in the air. “It is not something for a few month or a few years. Man it will upset your whole life for at least ten to twelve years”.
“There is nothing to think over, I want that child”.
Starsky’s Adams apple was throbbing, he needed to approach it from another way, “you will never get custody Hutch, there are legal matters to deal with, it can take months and with your job and without a wife. It will never work”.
Hutch, turned his back to his friend and walked over to the window while he rested his hand on the window post, he bowed his head. In a very low docile voice he said without looking up, “Francis is mine”.
An overwhelming silence fell between the two friends. Starsky’s mouth wide open, gasping for air before he could produce his uncertain words, “are you telling me you are Francis's father?”
Hutch gave no response, stood as a statue in the same posture. It left Starsky with an unanswered question. Without any hesitation he jumped from the couch towards the man who he thought he knew. He grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him thoroughly. Spitting out some moisture his voice became an octave higher, “talk to me”.
The head came up and Starsky read in Hutch his eyes a likable conformation.
“How come you never told me?”, his tone was harsh.
Hutch shook off his hands and walked away, “think you better leave”.
“Leave, damn you Hutch not until this is out in the open, we never had secrets for each other and you telling me now you’ve been a father for 7 years”.
Hutch opened the fridge and took out a beer with shaking hands, “it’s not your concern”.
The words spoken made Starsky very angry, “Damn you Hutch, I make it my concern, you have a habit to take women from friends, like you took Kira from me but this is beyond scruples. You fathered a child by the wife of your best friend, you are a low basterd……………….”.
“Don’t you talk to me like that”, Hutch his finger pointed, and his nostrils became wide open by the accusation.
“Oh no, buddy boy, how would you call yourself then”.
Hutch squeezed his eyes, it grieved him deeply, but he also could understand Starsky’s reaction. Yes he had withheld the truth from him all those years, as a matter of fact he had not tell anyone about his suspicion.
“Starsk be fair, let me explain, give me the benefit of the doubt”. It was a pleaded signal.
Against his will, Starsky let himself lead by the troubled face of his friend. He couldn’t wipe out all those years they were together. But his words were cold.
“Fill me in”.
Hutch began his story:
“It was about a year before we became partners Starsk. She wasn’t married to Franklin, she hadn’t even met Franklin, neither had I. It was a one night stand with Gwenny .
But in that same week I met Franklin on a case and it clicked. Accidentally Franklin and I bumped into Gwenny two month later. They both fell head over heels in love. Married and had a kid”.
Hutch stopped his long talk to take a sip of his beercan, his shaking hand made a bit off the contants spill over his clothes, leaving a spot on his favourite bowling shirt.
“They had a premature child. And I can count buddy. Nine month earlier I had been to bed with Gwenny”.
Starsky felt uncomfortable, he moved his legs and twisted in the sofa. “Hutch, I don’t understand, why didn’t you tell me”?
“Because of the little doubt that she might not be my daughter, babies can be born within 7 month”.
“Uh, you lost me, haven’t you asked her?”.
“No, I didn’t wanted to ask and she never told me, Franklin and Gwenny were too happy. I couldn’t hurt him or the both of them.”
“So you are not completely sure the child is yours”?
“No, she has brown hair and green eyes, eyes neither parents have. Gwenny was dark haired you know and Franklin blond too, both brown eyed. So,…………….”.
As a gesture his hand came up. “Oh I’m not sure but I became a second father to Francis, after Franklin died and I love that girl and I want her”.
Starsky blew his cheeks and let out a big sigh. He slapped on Hutch back, “I will help you to get her Hutch, we will find a way, as long as I may be her uncle Starsky”, the big curved smile was that from a deep dear friend. But the grin also held cynical expressions.
FIVE DAYS LATER
It made Hutch cold inside, the reading of the will from Gwenny Franklin had been read this afternoon, The attorney had given him a letter written by Gwenny. He hadn’t opened it at court, instead he had drove to his friends home.
“Hutch, you have to open it”.
Hutch looked up, for many minutes he had tossed and turned the letter in his hand. He was afraid of what was in it.
The will had been very short, Gwenny had left almost all her possessions to Hutch. That meant the house too but more important she had appointed Hutch as the guardian of little Francis and a wish that he should adopt the child.
So Hutch was very afraid of the truth, he was sure she had written that in the letter. At last he would know, he was sure of it.
“Well better get it over”, his nervousness made him tear the envelope in pieces, so he had to rearrangs the portions before he could read it out loud.
I won’t be long here, I can’t bear to stay alive for a year or two years and getting so sick with all the chemicals they want to give me and barely any hope it will work. The doctors told me that I will get severe pains and lose of memory. I can’t live with that, most important I can’t let Francis go through that. I know she will be dying of grief when she hears I’m dead. But then she will remember her mother. I wish she could remember her father too, but she was too young when Barney died.
Her father, I have kept this silence for many years Kenneth and I never told you about my doubts. But maybe her father is still alive? I don’t know if you have ever thought about it, you never ever asked anything. But that night when we made love!
When I met Barney two month later, I had missed period but that wasn’t so strange because I was born with only one ovary, so I always had my menstruation very irregulary.
When Barney and I met that night, to be honest we had hot sex. After a couple of weeks later I found out I was pregnant and Francis was premature.
I saw how Barney loved the baby, he was so happy, so I kept my misgivings to myself. It couldn’t break up my marriage, I loved Barney and I knew it would have broken his heart if he would get that doubt too. I don’t know your blood type Kenneth but Francis's is B neg………………..
The letter fell out of his hands, it swirled on the ground and he fell back against the head of the sofa. His eyes spread wide open towards his friend.
Starsky's brain hit.
B negative, relatively a rare bloodtype that Hutch had. What about Barney or Gwenny? Uncertain his timbre made the vowels: