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WARRIOR OF THE
January 24, 1979
James Crosky, William Sandlin, et al
RE: LAPD vs. Detective Kenneth R. Hutchinson
I am writing this letter against the advice of my lawyer. In fact, I am sure that Mr. Bendreen will refuse my case once he reads this. By detailing what follows below, I am effectively waiving my right to silence and giving your department a wealth of information to use against me.
But the truth is the truth. And what is is. Punish me as you wish, pass whatever judgment you deem appropriate. My career and my future are in your hands. I do not pretend to believe that I can sway your opinions. I can only hope. That said, what follows is the whole truth and nothing but the truth - whether you like it or not.
The beginning of this whole mess goes back to when my partner, Detective David M. Starsky, was in his "assertive" phase. Now, if you know Detective Starsky at all - and I know both of you do - you'll be able to appreciate how incongruous that statement is. My partner is the most intense, persuasive person that I know. In fact, I have it on good authority that I really don't have a clue just how persuasive he is, because when he gets most intense is when I'm not around to observe it.
(For those of you who have trouble with subtleties, the point is that my partner is the most dangerous when his partner, meaning me, is in trouble.)
But Starsky likes to keep himself amused, and he'd gotten one of his infamous wild hairs and decided he needed to learn how to be more assertive. And, of course, like most of his wild hair-brained ideas, it didn't work. You see, Starsk can't pretend. He can't even come close. It has to come from his heart, or it doesn't come at all. He has that purity about him.
So, he was on this ridiculous kick and getting on everyone's nerves - including mine - by violating their personal space and getting physically close to them in the name of trying to be intimidating. All he accomplished was ticking everybody off. And then he'd pout about it and want sympathy. I can handle those games up to a point... but I have my limits and sometimes what I have to say to him at those times makes him pout even more.
But that's Starsky.
So, on the afternoon of October 10th, we get this call from someone who says they know something about the Kingston murder. Now, just to make sure we're all on the same page, the Kingston murder was our first case following the disco murders (where Detective Lizzie Thorpe almost lost her life). The caller did not identify himself, and said he would not. He was very nervous and insisted that if he had to meet with more than one person - and had any suspicions that someone else was watching or listening - he'd flee and never tell us anything. I told him he had to meet with me and my partner both, but otherwise we would agree to his criteria. He threatened to hang up, and I was about to give in to his terms completely, but then he said okay. And then he repeated all his threats just in case we weren't being straight with him.
I assured him we were being straight.
So, Starsk and I started out toward the meeting place. Actually, it really wasn't a specific place. He had made me describe the car we'd be driving, and he said to cruise down 12th Street and he'd signal us.
So, that's what Starsk and I did. We were in the Torino, slowly driving down 12th Street, when this seedy-looking fellow in a long coat waves us down. And then he disappears into a porno shop.
So, Starsk and I parked and got out. We went into the porn shop. There were a few patrons - most dressed in business suits - and we looked around for our informant. We spotted him sticking his head around the corner to a back hallway, and jerking his head like we were supposed to follow.
So, we followed him down the hallway. He slipped through an "Exit" door, and the next thing we knew the three of us were standing in a back alley.
Our informant hunched down into his jacket and lowered his head. "Let me see your ID," he muttered.
Starsky and I pulled out our badges and shoved them under his nose. He didn't say anything, so after a few moments we put them back in our pockets. Then the man, still hunched down in his coat, looked around, like he was making sure we weren't followed.
"It's just us," Starsky told him, and I knew my partner was getting impatient with all the games.
"Like we agreed," I said.
"So you gonna talk to us or not?" Starsky had stepped closer to the man. . . making himself truly intimidating.
"How much you going to pay me?" the informant asked. He was still looking around and wouldn't make eye contact.
I was surprised, because I'd assumed, with all the secrecy, he was running from something and wanted assurances that any potential charges against him would be dropped. But he wanted cash. "Depends on what you've got," I told him.
"Uh-uh," he said. "Cash first."
"Fuck it," my partner growled. "You're scamming us." He turned away and I took a step to follow.
"Wait," the man said.
"Stop wasting our time," I told him.
"Look, I just want to make sure I get paid. I got debts."
"You'll get paid," I assured him. I was wondering at that point how much cash my partner had on him, because I had hardly any.
"What have you got?" Starsky snapped at him. He was standing right in front of the man with his arms crossed. He was far more intimidating then - behaving naturally - than he'd ever been when he was reading that stupid book.
Finally, the man looked up, and in retrospect, I guess that's when he got an eyeful of Detective Starsky. He started to talk. "Kingston was killed by Jimmy Fitz."
"Who's Jimmy Fitz?" I asked.
The man glanced my way but wouldn't really look at me. His eyes were focused on Detective Starsky. "He used to be my business partner. Left me dry, which is part of the reason I'm ratting on him." He quickly added, "The other reason is because I need cash, bad."
This was sounding a little too convenient. I asked him, "What proof do you have that Fitz killed Kingston?"
"When you go to his apartment, you'll find all the proof you need."
"What apartment?" Starsky asked impatiently.
The man shook his head. "That's all you get until I see some green."
Starsky looked at me, and I got a bad feeling because I knew what that look meant: it was my turn to pay.
"Don't you have anything?" I asked him, stepping to one side. I got the feeling our snitch would run scared if he saw us whispering together.
Starsky blinked at me, and there was an accusing glare in his eyes. "Come on, Hutch, pay the man, so we can get the hell outta here and check out this Fitz guy." Despite the fact that his annoyance at this whole arrangement was equal to mine, I could see that he was like a bloodhound on the trail. I'm sure you fellas are aware how unusual it is to get such a strong lead. We both wanted to follow it up right away.
I really didn't know what to do at that point, because I knew if Starsky had had any money, he wouldn't have insisted that I pay. I went through the motions of pulling out my wallet and leafing through the two dollars in it. I looked up at them both sheepishly.
Starsky started fidgeting and grumbling. Then he looked at me and said, "There's one of those automated teller machines at the bank a coupla blocks from here."
Our snitch's eyes widened and he started backing away like we'd just signaled for a SWAT team to come in. I held up my hands and gentled my voice and said, "Hey, come on, take it easy. We thought you were going to want to make some kind of deal for some rap you had. We didn't realize you were going to want cash. Cops aren't rich, you know."
Starsky said, "Hutch'll wait right here with you and I'll run to the money machine. It'll take two minutes, that's all."
The guy shook his head like a machine gun. "No. No way. I knew I couldn't trust you."
"Easy," I said to him again. "You'll get paid; we just need to get some cash. Unless you'd consider a check?" I was hoping he would, but I knew he wouldn't.
I quickly took the watch off my wrist. I'd always hated watches, but Starsky got it for my birthday a while back, so I'd gotten used to wearing it. It bothered me to pawn if off like that, but what could I do? "Here, take the watch. It's worth hundreds."
He shook his head and was looking real nervous. "No. Pawn shops won't give me near what it's worth." I could see Starsky was relieved he didn't want the watch, and I was starting to wonder just how much this creep was expecting us to pay him.
"Look, what do you want?" I pleaded with him. The fact that he hadn't outright run away yet gave me hope that there was something we could give him in exchange for information. "Fact: we don't have the cash to pay you. And since you won't let us take the two minutes to get some, what do you want instead?"
He was getting all nervous again, and Starsky and I both could feel one hot lead getting away from us.
"Come on!" Starsky said. "Tell us what you want and give us the info."
The man looked right at Starsky then - an open-faced look. An obvious up-and-down look. It made me nervous right away. Then he suddenly turned to me - I don't know why he spoke to me instead of to Starsky - but he said, "I want to paint him."
"WHAT?" we both said at the same time.
Then Starsky said, "What are you talkin' about?"
The man's jaw firmed like he was offended and I was afraid again that he was going to run out on us. But he said to Starsky, "You want me to rat on Fitz, and you don't have the money to pay me. And I don't have money to pay for models with the look I'm after. You have 'the look'. So, you pose for a picture. Now. Or never."
The man suddenly didn't seem like such a loser. I admit I was looking at him in a whole new way . . . as in Starving Artist.
Starsky had his chest all puffed up like he was going to say all sorts of things, but nothing intelligible came out, and I decided right then that I was getting tired of all the haggling. So, I said, "Come on, Starsky, do what the man says. Let him sketch you and then we'll get this Fitz guy."
Starsky glared at me, like he'd somehow come to the conclusion that this whole situation was my fault, but I jumped in and said, "Let's go," and started walking so he wouldn't have a chance to get a word in.
The man wouldn't let us take the Torino. He insisted on walking through a whole series of back alleys until we wound up in some old building near the corner of 22nd and Zuni. Starsky was complaining every step of the way, but I was tired of the whole situation, so I just growled at him for being a bad sport.
The guy actually had a halfway decent studio. He pointed to a little stage area and told Starsky to undress.
Starsky's eyes got as big as saucers. "UNDRESS?" he demanded, looking at me like I was supposed to rearrange the man's mental faculties.
Actually, in other circumstances I would have thought it pretty funny. But at the time, all I cared about was giving the man what he wanted so he'd hurry up and give us the info we needed to snag a murderer.
"You heard the man," I told Starsky. "Come on, hurry up."
"Hutch, he never said nothin' about - "
"You want your information," the man said in a hard-nosed tone. "So, are you going to cooperate?" He was already choosing the pencil he was going to sketch with.
Starsky pulled off a tennis shoe. "How long is this gonna take?"
"I just need a good sketch. About two hours."
Starsky pulled off another shoe and he was still as indignant as hell. He said, "Hutch can go to the bank teller machine and have your money in two minutes."
The man suddenly turned to me, his eyes big and glaring. "If you dare leave," he threatened, "the whole deal is off. I can only trust you as long as I can see you."
Starsky undressed the rest of the way, muttering words through gritted teeth that I was never taught how to spell. Then he stood alone on that little stage, trying to cover himself with his hands, and complaining about how cold he was. He was pretty pitiful looking.
The man was adjusting lights around the stage and told him that before long Starsky would probably start feeling too hot because of the heat from the lights. Then he gave Starsky a wooden stool and told him to sit on it. Then he stared at Starsky a while and then told him to stand beside it and then put one leg on the foot rest, and then to stand up straight like he was looking at something in the distance. The man then growled at me to make myself useful and stand in Starsky's line of sight to give him something to look at.
It took nearly two hours. The man kept fussing with the sketch, erasing and stuff. Starsky was sweating under the lights, but he didn't complain too much; we both just wanted to be done with it and get our information.
When the man was done we both let out a big sigh of relief. Starsky dressed and I noticed that the man was very careful to put his new creation away in a carrying case. He said, "Don't bother coming back here for it, because I'm leaving town this evening."
"I thought you didn't have any money," I said, wondering if we'd been had.
"I don't. But I have a friend who is giving me a ride. Fitz will know it's me who told on him."
"So, where is Fitz?" Starsky asked, now that he was dressed.
Finally, the man told us where Fitz's apartment was located and the hours we could expect to find him there - as well as the evidence the apartment should contain regarding the murder.
We were just about to leave when Starsky asked, "Hey, uh, just what are you going to do with the sketch, anyway?"
"Paint it," the man replied, as though the answer should be obvious.
Starsky was nervous. "Then what?"
The man shrugged. "I'm not sure."
I know Starsky was uneasy about he answer -- (maybe I was, too -- but we had other priorities. We both left there and went to bust Fitz.
I won't go into the details of the bust, because that's been recorded in triplicate and everyone's report jibes. Besides, that really doesn't have anything to do with the charges against me.
I know you all will probably find this hard to believe, but it's the truth: Detective Starsky and I never talked about the sketch or the painting. We wanted Fitz and we did what we had to do to get him, and I don't think anyone in the Department could fault us for that.
It was when I was shopping for a birthday gift for my mother that my confession picks up. This was three months later and I was walking along various shops along Carmel Street. I passed by a gallery, and there in the window, almost one-half life size, was my partner in all his nude glory. Only, you couldn't see his privates because the gallery had carefully arranged other pieces to cover it. He was in a forest setting, looking out into the distance, his face a little rounder than in reality, his hair not as thick. But he looked bold and arrogant and daring... almost like a warrior from some ancient time. In fact, that was the name of the piece: Warrior of the Past. He carried a bow and a small satchel of arrows.
I went inside and inquired about the piece. The shopkeeper said he'd purchased it outright from a man who was desperate for cash. The signature said, "Harold Sangster", and the gallery owner said he was only aware of a few pieces by Sangster being offered by another gallery downtown. The price for this particular piece was $2,000.
I beg you to consider the position of the LAPD if someone had purchased that painting or otherwise recognized Starsky as the model.
I realize there was a simple way of going about this. All I had to do was pay the $2,000 and this whole situation would have been over and done with. But I wasn't too keen on purchasing a painting of a nude male from a gallery in my own precinct. It's possible that I could have been recognized by employees of the gallery or by other customers, or even by someone on the streets nearby. If anyone would have recognized me as a cop purchasing a painting of a naked man who looked similar to my partner, can you imagine the scandal?
All right, all right. I'm more aware than anyone that there ended up being a scandal, anyway, and the Department has egg on its face. How was I to know that breaking into that little shop at midnight to take the painting - and in the process save the Department lots of embarrassment - was going to lead to my being identified by the drunk in the next alley, whom Starsky and I had arrested before; to accusations that the LAPD hires thieves; to the personal accusations that Detective Starsky is an exhibitionist; to accusations that I'm his homosexual lover, and so jealous that I don't want anyone else to view his privates; to theories by the press that both Detective Starsky and I are involved in a mob ring that uses the gallery as a front to peddle narcotics.
Frankly, gentlemen, if my career was not at stake this whole situation would be infinitely laughable. Any reasonably intelligent person can see that this is a comedy of errors and the entire situation has gotten out of hand. Let's review the real facts:
So, gentlemen, as I said at the beginning of this letter, I am throwing myself to the wolves. I have spelled out all the facts and detailed them as best I can. It is not my desire to be removed from the Department, and if you can see your way to allowing me to keep my badge, I will accept without complaint whatever punishment you deem appropriate. However, I also ask you to consider, when pondering such punishment, what you yourselves may have done given the same predicament.
As you know, Sergeant Starsky stands by my actions, and it is his judgement of me that is most important. Please realize that if I am removed from the Department, Sergeant Starsky will likely resign, as well. Somehow, I think that will create even more scandal.
It is in your hands now, gentlemen. Until my lawyer formally resigns from the case, you can reach me through his office.
Kenneth R. Hutchinson
Los Angeles Police Department
"You're a liar, Hutchinson."
Hutch looked up from where he poked at the ashes in the fireplace. He grinned at the man sitting up in the king-sized bed, who was laying the letter he'd just read on the nightstand. "Depends on one's definition of lying."
Starsky grunted at his partner's answer. "If those guys in IA had any brains, all they gotta do is ask themselves, 'How would Detective Starsky have had a cigarette lighter to burn the painting when neither he nor Hutchinson smoke?' I mean, the way you wrote it, it sounds like burning the painting was a spur-of-the-moment idea. So, it's not like I would have gone somewhere and bought one just for that purpose."
Hutch leaned his elbow on the mantle, enjoying the feeling of being clever. "But they didn't question that, did they? Everything turned out all right."
Starsky looked around the walls of the condo. "Yeah, we'd have had to renege on our timeshare arrangement for this place if we lost our jobs. That would have been a real drag."
Hutch moved to the bed and stretched out beside his partner, chin propped in his hand. "At least IA saw it our way."
"Yeah," Starsky also stretched out on the bed, mirroring his partner's stance. "I guess even boneheads can see reason sometimes. That was a convincing letter, Hutchinson."
Hutch grinned. "Thank you." The grin widened. "What's my reward?"
Starsky's hand reached out and rested against the bare part of Hutch's chest, where the top buttons of his shirt were undone. "Not sure yet. Gonna have to think about it."
Hutch shifted on his forearm and inched closer to his partner. He whispered, "Here's some food for thought," and lowered his head.
Their lips touched... pressed... then melted together.
It felt so good that Hutch decided he wanted things to happen very, very slowly tonight. They had two days to spend at the condo in Bel Air before they'd have to return to their jobs and the real world... and continue the deception of their true relationship to each other.
He pulled back, their lips making a loud "smack" as they parted. Then he sat up, arranging a pillow behind him. "You know what gets me?" he asked as he gazed at the painting over the fireplace.
Starsky snuggled against his side, and Hutch put his arm around him. "What?"
"That I'm out two thousand dollars for that," he gestured toward the painting, "when I can get the real thing for free."
"Well...," Starsky struggled for consoling words, "you said you wanted to keep it."
"Keep or burn it, I'm still out two grand."
Starsky looked up at his big blond and batted his eyes. "Aren't I worth it?"
"You, yes. That, no."
"Yeah, yeah," Starsky relented with a heavy sigh. "That gallery owner was a real rip-off artist. Thank God we were able to get Huggy to set up somebody to scare him into dropping the charges."
"Yeah," Hutch said with satisfaction, "most weasels change their minds in a heartbeat when faced with the prospect of having their body parts rearranged."
Starsky purred. "Speaking of body parts...," he placed a hand over his partner's denim-clad crotch.
Hutch moved the hand away, eyes still on the painting.
"What's wrong?" Starsky pouted.
"You're so impatient," Hutch scolded, but his gaze remained fixated.
Starsky followed the blond's line of sight. "You keep staring at it."
Hutch shrugged. "Just hope the other timeshare couples don't mind it being there."
"Well, no matter what it's worth, it's a damn sight better than the stupid floral painting that was there before."
Hutch turned to look at him, then grinned. "Narcissist." He ran a finger down Starsky's nose. "And you are an exhibitionist."
"Am not. You said so in your letter."
"As you so poetically noted, I'm a liar."
Starsky tilted his chin up and puckered his lips. "Only when you need to be."
Hutch couldn't resist. He kissed those waiting lips. Then he slid his lips along a stubby cheek.
"Besides," Starsky said, "the only thing you really lied about was burning the painting. The other stuff - well, I noticed that you said we'd never had sex with other men."
"Right," Hutch acknowledged softly, "just each other." He kissed Starsky. After pulling back, he said, "Admit it: you enjoyed him painting you."
"Did not." Starsky pulled away so they could see each other. "The only thing I enjoyed about the whole situation was watching you while I was naked. I'm just damn glad he didn't paint that hard-on I had."
Hutch turned back to the painting. "Even without the hard-on, you look pretty damn noble."
"I thought you said it really doesn't look all that much like me."
"Enough like you that it could have been you in another century."
"Hmm," Starsky noted thoughtfully.
"Just don't know if that's a compliment or not."
Hutch straightened and turned to his partner. "Here's a compliment: I'm hungry and I'm tired and I need a shower and I want to fuck. You can decide which order those go in."
Starsky gazed back at him, a grin slowly spreading up the side of his face. "Uh-uh. None of those things first."
Hutch blinked. "Then what?"
Starsky reached for his partner's crotch again. "I want to suck."
Hutch tried to breathe while quickly lowering his fly. He drew out his length while a curly head descended over his groin. He felt fingers on his hardening flesh. "Got it?" he whispered.
Deep blue eyes peeked up at him from beneath the curly hair. "Got it," Starsky replied in an equally soft tone.
The grip hardened and Hutch's mouth fell open as he let his eyes fall into the rich gaze of his partner's. Then he closed his eyes in a worshipful manner - so amazed, even after so many months - that Starsky's eager willingness to do this was, alone, such an intense turn-on.
Wetness engulfed him.
As the sensations washed through him, Hutch's eyes drifted open and sought the painting.
Warrior of the Past.
Lover of the present.
And everything that mattered for the future.