Part 3.3



Suzan Lovett

Part 3.4

Starsky was led into a study/library on the ground level of Marruzzi's house. It was a cavernous room with high ceilings. The massive, smoothly polished wood and leather furnishings, and the arched bay windows draped in rich, maroon velvet, kept it from being a cold place. He'd bet he could afford not one piece of the art or bric-a-brac around. It wasn't ostentatious, but very rich. Whether it was tasteful or not, he was no judge, and although it was designed for comfort, he was in no position to feel comfortable in it. However, he didn't intend to show that. His stance was properly arrogant when he faced Marruzzi across the expanse of desk.

It seemed the old man missed little. "Where's his jacket?" were the first words out of his mouth. Starsky's entourage looked blank. Marruzzi sighed. "Did anybody bother to make sure our conversation can be private at least?"

"Uh, Padrone," one of the bodyguards ventured, "if he was wearin' a wire, the cops would've showed u -- "

"Shut up!" It was from Fontane.

Starsky realized that the quieting shout had come from the consigliere at Sal's house. The old man didn't seem to believe in raising his voice. The detective grinned at Marruzzi. "Hard to find good help lately, huh?"

"At the moment I am somewhat...inconvenienced."

Starsky indulged in a boastful snicker. "Gee, I wonder why?"

Marruzzi let it pass. Instead he made a repeated upward motion with his hand. "Do you mind?"

Starsky pulled his shirt up high and turned a circle to show he wasn't wearing a wire. If they thought anything could've been squeezed into the leather pants except himself, they were free to check.

"I see you're an old soldier," Marruzzi commented, on the scars, no doubt.

"Not that old," he retorted.

"It wasn't derogatory." The old man indicated a seat.

Starsky took it, wishing he could lounge insolently, just for appearances' sake, but his shoulder and a stiffening in his constantly tender midriff wouldn't allow it, so he opted for squaring his shoulders.

"Would you like something to drink?" Marruzzi offered politely.

Starsky gritted his teeth. This 'gracious' routine was getting on his nerves. But he wasn't sure of the rules of the game. The wisest choice was to follow the lead. "No, thank you," he answered, just as politely.

"I take it you're not Italian, but your New York accent seems to be genuine. Are you attached to a police department in New York?"


"So, you're with Metro."

"That's been givin' you sleepless nights, yes," Starsky couldn't resist adding.

Marruzzi just smiled good-naturedly. "Mr. Starsky -- "

"Sergeant," Starsky corrected.

"Very well. Sergeant Starsky, I'm a reasonable man. Do you know what ragione means?"

"Must've been left outta the briefin'."

"It means to reason, rejoin -- a concept I've lived by all my life. Do you think we could?"

"Rejoin, forget it, seein' how we were never joined before. Reason, your move."

Marruzzi leaned back, looking like a chess master leisurely considering his strategy. Everybody was respectfully silent. The only sound came from Sal, deep into stupor now, who was pitifully sniffling. The old man's eyes briefly flickered to the sight his grandson presented. Fontane took the hint and led Sal to an out-of-the-way seat, gave him a handkerchief.

Marruzzi broke the silence. "Tell me, Sergeant, are you a clean one?"

The first impulse was to say 'squeaky,' but that was just pride, and the next one was to pretend being open to coercion and bribes to gain time. As civilized and relaxed as outward appearances were, Starsky's instincts screamed he was poised on the razor's edge.

Marruzzi didn't miss his brief hesitation. "I must admit your covert operation was excellent, but don't try and match wits with me. The truth."

To hell with it, Starsky decided. There's a lot to be said for pride. "As clean as it gets."

"I thought so. Inconvenient. You've caused a lot of inconvenience lately. It is enough."

Here it comes, Starsky thought and considered claiming he'd had a check-in time and that he was being missed already. But on one hand, he didn't believe Marruzzi would fall for an old ploy. On the opposite hand, it was too close to the truth if his call had been traced to Sal's place. Hutch would be tearing into there, and he certainly didn't want Marruzzi's gang to be ready for him.

The old man preempted any decision with his next words. "To do what you did, you had to have inside information. Your cover wouldn't have been enough. Tell me how and from whom, and walk out of here freely."

As much as he wanted to, Starsky couldn't afford to let his eyes stray to Luigi to see how he was taking all this. He purposefully stayed silent for a drawn-out minute, just to make the man sweat. He wouldn't give him up, not yet, not when there still seemed to be a chance to do it the right way. "I can't do that," he finally said.

"Would I be wasting my time if I insisted?"


"All right."

Everybody was silent, intent on the padrone. "Now what?" Starsky asked, doing his best to sound casual.

"Now you may leave anytime you wish."

It was a few seconds before it dawned on Starsky to close his mouth. "Leave?"

"Certainly. What can I offer a man who won't sell at the price of his life?"

Starsky knew there was a dumb look on his face, but couldn't seem able to help it. "I can get up, walk to that door, all by myself, and leave, and that's that?"


He stood up, testing the preliminaries, and let curiosity get the best of him. "How come?"

"The damage is done. I don't extract payment indiscriminately. There has to be one of two reasons. I'm a businessman; profit is naturally one of them. I'm also a traditional man. If you were really Anthony Caporetto, a man I'd expect loyalty from, you wouldn't walk out of here. You're a police officer, loyal to your own cause. I can't fault that just because we happen to be on opposing sides. Profit? What would I gain? If you were the only witness the prosecution has, you wouldn't have been left expendable in the cold. No chargeable offense passed between you and me. I'd gain nothing by holding you. In fact, I might lose."

The old man smiled up at Starsky indulgently. "You're not aware of it, but you were wise in not second-guessing me. If you were a 'dirty cop,' I might have been tempted to act otherwise. Police departments can't afford to get sanctimonious over one of those. Weren't they anxious to cover up just such a case recently? A case I now suspect you know a lot about? A clean cop -- well, that starts a crusade. I have no time for one."

I'll be damned, Starsky thought, absentmindedly brushing his hair back with one hand. He was used to his hair flaring out from his scalp, not constantly straying into his face in long strands. "Well, in that case, I'll -- "

Marruzzi interrupted, sharply. "Do that again."

He paused, with his hand still up. "Huh?"

"Run your hand through your hair."

Instantly uneasy once more, Starsky slowly lowered his hand without complying. Marruzzi motioned at one of his men, who approached the officer and stood, uncomprehending himself. "Check and see if there's an injury to his head," Marruzzi told the man, "although I expect not. Touching didn't seem to hurt."

At a loss about what was going on, Starsky silently suffered the inspection. "Nothing there," the man told his boss.

Marruzzi frowned at the detective. "There was blood on your hair and temple. I thought Luigi had gotten carried away. Since it wasn't yours, where did it come from?"

Starsky stood quietly, feeling that the ground was about to drop out. Should've left right away. Curiosity didn't do wonders for the cat, either.

"Luigi?" the old man asked.

"I don't know. He was bloody when I found him."


The young man had been following the conversation with bleary eyes, but it still took him a while even to understand the question, and then he had to think some more, visibly struggling to dredge up facts from the morass of his brain. "The...uh...the other one...the lady cop..." he finally managed to put together.

Marruzzi heaved a sigh. "I may have been too hasty," he said in Starsky's direction, almost apologetically. "Watch him," he told his bodyguards, and went to his grandson, followed by Fontane. What went on, Starsky couldn't hear, but obviously the two men managed to drag out an account from Sal. They came back. "Sit down," Marruzzi said.

No more Mr. Nice Guy, Starsky concluded when he was pushed down roughly, before he had a chance to comply on his own. Hitting the side of his ribs against the arm rest, he winced, straightened.

Marruzzi sat down again, and now there was an air of menace about him. "Gavones!" he blurted out to Fontane. "Fools! I'm left with no one with an ounce of brains, and that -- that -- " he jabbed at the air in the direction of his grandson, " -- disonore. How did the blood run so thin? Infamante!"

The consigliere leaned to whisper something in his ear. "I know," Marruzzi said. "What else is left to do?" he distanced Fontane with one hand and addressed Starsky, his voice calmer now, but decisive. "I'm truly sorry, Sergeant, but I can't let you go. Sonna Cosa Nostra -- such are the affairs of our world. I hope you understand it's nothing personal."

Hell of a way to pass a death sentence, Starsky thought ruefully. "Right. I'm an impersonal problem. So what the hell are you gonna do with the personal one? That's your grandson there. Thin or thick, blood is blood, isn't it? Are you gonna make him keep me compa -- fuck it, I'm tired of this polite routine. Are you gonna kill him, too? Oh, right, you don't kill; you order. Neat and impersonal. Well, it's goddamned personal to me! It's also personal to me that the blood of your blood over there killed a police officer." Sal whimpered. Starsky ignored him. "If she wasn't dead then, she's dead now. So what're you gonna do about that?"

For the first time, he saw a measure of confusion in Marruzzi's face. "Without you, it'll just be another unsolved case."

"Bullshit! Great lecture you gave me, but the old brain circuits ain't so swift when it hits too close, huh? She was on a case, with me. Sal's my known contact. How long do you think it's gonna be before they pay him a visit? She was bleeding all over his house. We've all kinds of hot-shots at the crime lab; they'll connect him. This ain't no piddlin' possession charge. It's homicide, involving a police officer. Davey-boy here makes two. Your overpriced lawyers can t make short work of that. Look at him and tell me he ain't gonna break. One night without his baby-bottle, and he'll give up himself, you, and anybody else he can think of."

Starsky realized he had stood up and nobody had stopped him. "So unless you're gonna face your dead son one day with the blood of his son on your hands, killin' me ain't gonna gain you a thing. Unless you wanna live out what's left of your life countin' the ways you wiped out your whole family -- look at him, dammit! He's already half-destroyed. Great care you took of your son's legacy after you sent him off on your errand to be massacred. Is what you've got so important that you're willin' to sit on his corpse as well?"

Marruzzi had gone pale. Starsky realized he'd wrested the upper hand and pushed. "Face it, it's over. Your organization is in shambles, and there sits your future. There's nothing left worth killing for."

For the length of the silence that followed, he thought he'd won. Then Fontane spoke, and Starsky knew he'd underestimated the number of players on the board. "The plane can be ready by the time Sal gets to Manderlay Heights," the man calmly told Marruzzi. "Mexico?"

And that's why he's the consigliere. Starsky sank back into the seat. What's keeping you, Hutch? How long does it take to trace a call? He knew his partner wouldn't have a clear way of locating him once he arrived at Sal's, but couldn't believe Hutch wouldn't start promptly overturning every stone. It's time to pry up this one, babe.

The old man took a shuddering breath, held it, let it out slowly. The next second, he had totally collected himself. "Not Mexico. Too accessible."

"Further south?"

Marruzzi shook his leonine head. "South America, addict's paradise. No. Europe. Home. Once and for all, I want him rid of this abomination."

Apparently, Sal had been plugged in on some level. His voice rose hysterically. "No, please, no. Grandfather, you -- you can't...I don't want to go, please, I don't want to go...don't make me -- oh, God, please...."

Marruzzi ignored the continuing pleas as he would a buzzing insect. "You'll have to be the one to take him, paisan'," he told Fontane. "Take him away and clean him out."

Fontane objected. "I should stay here. You need me, especially now."

"Always, but what can I do? Who else do I have left to trust? Just bring me back a grandson."

"You'll kill me!" Sal screamed. "I can't -- I'll die!"

Marruzzi spared him a brief glance. "You'll die or come back a man. Your choice." He addressed Fontane. "Get everybody with a record off my premises immediately. Let's not leave the police any excuse to trump up a warrant just to get a foot into the door."

"It'll leave you very short-handed."

"Can't be helped. Also, see to it that Sal's house burns down tonight. To the ground."

No half-measure and no loose ends, Starsky thought. Except me. As if on cue, Marruzzi's attention focused on him. "Luigi, have my yacht prepared. You'll be taking Sergeant Starsky sailing." The big man paled noticeably. Starsky remembered his fear of water, which Marruzzi also seemed to know. "I know, but the roads might get too crowded. Do me this favor."

Luigi gulped, but nodded, looking like a well-trained dog. "Yes, Padrone."

"Don't get me wrong," Marruzzi said, turning back to the officer, "I'm not enjoying this."

Starsky noted that Luigi, on the house phone now, wasn't intent on them anymore. You won't like this, Hutch, but a promise is a promise. He managed a grin. "Don't worry about it," he said, pretending casualness. "A leopard doesn't change his spots -- even if he does have a history of backin' the wrong horses."

Luigi was trying to locate someone on the phone and didn't react to Starsky's seemingly irrelevant comments. For just a second, it looked like Marruzzi had also missed their import, but the old man was sharper than that, Starsky realized with satisfaction, when a suspicion dawned in his eyes. He glanced at Luigi, then quickly looked away, the narrowed eyes tellin the detective that the message was loud and clear.

All right, Starsky thought, another debt paid. I may not be around to bring you to justice, Luigi, but you've got it coming one way or another. And doing it this way, maybe, just maybe I've got a chance, too, if Marruzzi acts as fast as I think he will. Come on, he silently urged the old man, think how much cleaner it'll be this way. Two birds with one stone and all that.

As if responding to the mental tugging, Marruzzi pushed the button on the phone, cutting Luigi's connection. "You're wasting time. Half the staff is gone. Brasi, go find Luigi someone to handle the yacht. Maybe Gatto, if it isn't his night off."

Starsky saw a message pass between the two men out of Luigi's sight, and that name seemed to have a meaning for Fontane. He started racking his brains as the consigliere left the room. Who the hell was Gatto? Record sheets spread in front of his eyes. He mentally rifled through them. Come on, Hutch made you memorize every miserable sheet; think Gatto, Gatto...Pico Gatto. Distinguishing marks: shaved head, smallpox scars, small and index fingers missing on one hand -- why? Vietnam. Dishonorable discharge from -- Army, yes, but more specifically? Ordnance? No. Demolitons. Yes.

Maybe. Just maybe. Depends on how fast that yacht will be ready. Heard of out of the frying pan into the fire, but actually hoping for the fire? Think. It can't be too close. It has to be far enough off shore so the evidence will sink too deep for recovery.

Somehow, he was ridiculously amused. There had been a time when he would have relied on sheer brawn and charged like a bull in a china shop without a second thought, leaving the brain-hurting processes to his partner -- Hey, Hutch, guess what? I'm growing up. If any cockiness was left in him about his durability after Gunther, this night had dissuaded him of it. Physically, he couldn't cope with all the muscle around. He'd only incapacitate himself. That left him only his wits. He hoped they were in working order.

If I come out of this, Hutch, you can no longer claim the only brains in this team. And if you got any, get here. Soon.


Hutch's tension seemed to be contagious, affecting everybody in the crowded squadroom, making the silence echo. McNeil had been hopping mad when Dobey had ordered the switchboard to hold all incidental calls for Hutch, and to connect Officer Baylor directly to him. But the captain knew that these little concessions were the only things keeping the blond from going over everybody like a steamroller and on out the precinct.

The door to the squadroom opened and Dobey was surprised to see Minnie walk in. "What're you doing here at this hour?"

"Heard what's going down, decided to stick -- Hutch, I might have something."

The blond pounced on her. "What?"

"Might be whistlin' Dixie here, but came upon something at the switchboard. There was a call a while back, nothing on the other end except a crash, but the line stayed open and they traced it routinely. It came from Salvatore Marruzzi's residence."

Hutch yanked away the paper she was holding. "It's Starsky."

"We don't know that." McNeil stepped between the detective and his holster and jacket hanging on the chair. Hutch removed him. Dobey could swear the man's feet had left the ground for a second.

Minnie was talking in the meantime. "I just checked with the phone company. The line's still open."

Hutch swept up his things. "It's him."

McNeil and Minnie spoke simultaneously and they were both talking to Hutch's back.

"Hold it, hold it."

"Hutch, the call came about an hour ago."

"Do something," the DA demanded of Dobey. "Stop him."

Dobey waved angrily at the empty air where the blond had been. "What do you want me to do, have him shot? That's what it'll take."

"If he charges in without a warrant and causes -- "

"Enough!" Dobey bellowed. "I've got one officer missing, one silent, and another going in alone, and I don't want to hear it! Get on that phone and get the damned warrants so I can send in back-up. Here's your probable cause; it'll have to do." He threw the page with Salvatore's address, which Hutch had let drop, at the DA, then started issuing orders. If he couldn't actually send units into anywhere, he could at least flood the area with them, ready to go in when the warrants showed up.


It was time to go. Starsky stood up before anybody hauled him up by force. Obviously, the two bodyguards were to accompany him and Luigi. As far as the boat, he supposed. Any further, and I'll know this plan was a bust

Sal was also being led out, steered by Fontane. His blubberings had turned into sobs and then just sniffles, all of which his grandfather had pointedly ignored.

Suddenly, Sal stopped, turned. "What...what're you d-doing w-with... him?" he stammered, indicating the cop.

Boy, have you missed a lot, Starsky thought.

"Not your concern, Sal. Come on." Fontane urged the young man in the direction of the door, but Sal stubbornly, albeit unsteadily, stood his ground.

"No -- what? Tell me."

"Let's go, Sal."

With unexpected agility, Sal was at his grandfather's desk. "Don't. Mother of God, please don't. Please. Don't...don't send him with Lu-Luigi. Send him with me -- yes, just let him come with me. That'll work. Right? That'll work."

Fontane held him by the arm and attempted to pull him away which only made the young man dig in his heels and struggle. "Let me go! Grandfather, Nonno, please, don't. You want me to go, okay, I'll go, I'm going, leave him alone, please." Marruzzi had motioned at one of his men who came forward and got a good grip on the struggling man.

"Stop that!" Starsky interceded, bringing himself close to the young man. "Sal, you're just wasting your breath here. Go on, go with them."

Sal looked at him out of tear-clouded, unfocused eyes. "But...."

"Sssh, I know. There's nothing you can do."


Starsky reached to ruffle his hair. "It's okay, kid, it's okay. Go on." Sal was sobbing again as he was led out of the room.

"Coraggio?" Marruzzi mumbled after him, almost wonderingly, then looked at Starsky. "The only time he exhibits anything approaching courage, and he does it on your behalf." He shook his head and motioned at his men. "Take him away, before I regret this more than I already do."

They tied Starsky's hands behind his back again, before leading him outside, then down the steep, endless steps to the beach, and onto the private dock. Looking at the curve of the bay and the roads that ran its length, he thought there seemed to be too much traffic, but with the Marina right there, he couldn't be sure it wasn't normal congestion.

Gatto was waiting on the vessel, the engines idling. Three pairs of hands had no trouble dumping the detective onto the softly swaying deck. Luigi hesitated until one man gave him a shove. Once he was also on board, the moorings were released. Starsky had time to see a small, lightweight motorboat hooked to a pair of davits on one side of the deck, then he was pushed along a corridor with four cabins opening out to it, and into one of them.

There was a brief argument on the other side of his door. "Not until we stop," Gatto was telling Luigi. "Those are my orders."

Starsky couldn't catch Luigi's words because the man's voice was too deep a rumble, but he was obviously objecting. "Where it's really deep. I'll tell you," Gatto said. "I don't know what the fucking difference it makes. Those are the orders and that's good enough for me." Another grumble came. Gatto continued, "Take it up with the padrone if you don't. I just do what I'm told. I gotta move this thing now, so get off my back."

Luigi came in, chose a chair across from the detective, and placed a gun in his lap. Starsky studied the huge hands that looked more deadly than the weapon. Overkill.

The boat started moving. There was already an unhealthy color to Luigi's complexion, and it was getting worse the further they moved away from the shore. Starsky decided to let the man's phobia do some of the work for him before he started the next round.


As Hutch was driving up the road, the first sight of Sal's house showed a dark and shuttered place. About an hour, Minnie had said. How late am I? Then he saw in the distance the garage door rising. Silhouetted against the slight illumination inside the garage, a car left, heading his way.

Somebody to answer questions, was his only thought as he swerved into its path, blocking the road. The other car came to a screeching stop. Hutch was out his door and yanking open the driver's on the out-of-place looking, battered station wagon. The man inside was holding his head as if he'd hit it. Hutch grabbed by the lapels, pulled him out to hold against the car. He recognized Sal's bodyguard.

"Where's Starsky?"

Rudi looked dazed. "Huh?"

Hutch shook him. "Starsky, Caporetto, where is he?"

"I don't know...what you're talking about."

The blond caught the brief hesitation in the middle of the sentence. "Don't play games! I don't care how many bones you have broken before you tell me." He leaned a forearm into the man's throat and caught one of his fingers to bend back. "Make up your mind. Fast."

Rudi gasped. "I don't know, I swear, I don't know." There was real fear in his voice and he couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from the blond's. "I swear, man."

Hutch forced the finger back some more. "Okay. This is for starters."

Rudi caught his breath, then the words rushed out. "He was there, but I hadda go somewheres, and when I came back nobody was there, I don't know, I swear I don't know, I was just goin' home, and I don't know nothing."

Hutch spied the garage door opener on the front seat. He pulled the man's arm through the window and cuffed him to the door, then reached in to grab the remote control. He was heading back to his car when he felt something sticky on his fingers, put his hand down in front of the headlights. It was red, viscid.

Clamping down on speculations, he grabbed his flashlight out of the glove compartment and went to check Rudi. The man's sleeve was bloody. "Where did this come from?" Rudi stayed silent, eyes darting about. Hutch grasped him by the hair, bringing his face close to the edge of the door frame. "If you don't start thinking real fast, you're going to get a lot bloodier."

"In the...the back -- but I don't know nothin'."

Hutch saw something in the back of the car covered with blankets. It was large enough to be a body. He swung the man and the car door out of his way, yanked the keys out of the ignition. "I swear, man," Rudi was babbling. "I ain't had nothin' to do with it. I don't know how it happened, I was just told to drive the car, that's all."

He lifted the hatch, swept the back of the wagon with the beam of his flashlight. Froze. The only thing escaping the blanketed mound was a strand of dark hair. It took him a few seconds before he could finally reach out and lift the cover. Gently. Fearfully. A slow inch, two, then another. It sank in that the tendril of hair was too long. He remembered to breathe, lifted the blanket firmly. Linda.

Thank God, was his first, instinctive, totally helpless reaction, then it was overwhelmed by a burning shame.

Carefully, he straightened her out as well as possible in the cramped space. She was still warm. The wound was halfway between the right breast and her collarbone. The blood had started to congeal. The trickle down the side of her mouth was bright, fluid. He saw it bubble slightly. She was breathing. Alive. The pulse on the neck was thready, but there. Gently, he slipped a hand under her body, couldn't feel an exit wound.

He ran to his car, requested an ambulance and backup, then returned to her side. There wasn't a thing he could do to help, but neither in case she stopped breathing. A thought went in a loop: if one cop was expendable...

Rudi was wisely quiet. He might have more answers, but Hutch was scared to look at him, let alone get close, no longer sure he'd stop at threats. It didn't take long. Within minutes a black-and-white drove up, one of the units Dobey already had patrolling the area. Two uniformed officers jumped out.

"The ambulance is on the way, stay with her, and give that son-of-a-bitch his rights," Hutch called out to the younger one, "Come with me," to the other. He ran for the house.


The yacht was gently swaying, the motor idling. Luigi's hands were restless on the gun. "Impatient, huh?" Starsky broke the silence. No answer. After the engines had wound down, there had been other sounds outside, a whine of pulleys, a splash, something thudding against the side of the boat. Totally out of his element, Luigi hadn't attached any importance to them, his instincts worthless in this situation.

"Why doesn't Gatto come and tell you to get on with it, right?" If he had his hands free, Starsky would've snapped his fingers in front of the man's face to see if he was catatonic. The eyes looked dead. Only the fingers moved. "Got news for you, big boy. Gatto ain't coming. He's gone. Didn't you hear the boat lowered? Who do you think left in it?"

It took a couple of beats before some intelligence showed in the man's eyes. He jumped to his feet, ran out of the cabin. Starsky heard oaths, useless; gunfire, probably just as useless. When he came back, he looked panic-stricken.

"Told ya," Starsky said smugly. He didn't know how fast time was running out, but had to play the hand right. "Nobody here but us chickens and all that water out there." With a jerky motion, the gun faced him point blank. "Sure, shoot me, then it'll be only you and all that water. You know how to move this monster? I do." A lie.

"They'll come for me."

"Oh, yeah, sure. That's why they left you, huh?"

"They will!"

"Boy, have you missed the boat. See, Luigi, it don't make no difference if you pull that trigger or not. They didn't leave it up to you this time. This time you're it, too. So are you gonna stand there and wait for the big bang?"


"Unless I miss my guess, there's a little package somewhere on this boat, just ticking away. A present from Marruzzi -- surprise, surprise!"

"Wh -- what -- ?"

"Oh, don't be dumb. He knows, don't you understand? Neither one of us is goin' back to shore ever again if you don't get your brains outta where they don't belong. You wanna be food for little fishies, Luigi? Wake up! This boat's gonna blow to kingdom come and nobody's gonna find the pieces again."

Luigi started to run out of the room. "Where're you goin'? You know how to swim?" Starsky shouted, stopping him dead in his tracks.

"I -- I'll find it."

"How? Do you know what belongs in a boat's engine and what doesn't? And then what? Gonna yank it out with your bare hands?" The man froze, totally lost. "Untie me."


"Come on, dammit, or it's gonna be too late! Gatto must've set it up to go soon after he's outta range."

"What can you do?"

Starsky lied some more. "I was in 'Nam, whaddaya think I did there? You're in over your head, Luigi. Let me loose and maybe we'll both get outta this."

There was a brief hesitation, then Luigi roughly turned him around and freed his hands. However, his neck was gripped tightly. "We'll look."

"Sure, whatever you say." He'd offer no resistance until they were on deck. Once there, though, he started again. "Look, we don't have a chance like this. It could be in the engine room or by the fuel tanks. You'll be lost with the engines, but you can check the tanks. Either orange cylinders in a bunch with a timer, or a box about eight by ten, attached with plastique, looks sorta like pinkish clay." Uncertainly, Luigi's grip loosened. Careful not to move fast enough to spook the man, Starsky pulled away, pointed aft. "Right there, go! Call me if you see it."

Luigi was befuddled enough to start that way, but two steps later, he whirled around and shouted, "No!"

Starsky heard it an instant before he hit the water. Then, cold and dark, it closed over him.


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