“Come on, Hutch! You can water those things later. The show’s starting.”
“The one I told you about. It’s a new Christmas special. Come on!”
“You never told me.”
“I told you several times. That’s the whole point of the gingerbread men.”
Hutch paused, watering can poised, and turned slightly. “What is the point of the gingerbread men?”
“The show! It’s about a gingerbread family. Perfect time to eat gingerbread men. Come ON, willya?!”
Hutch’s long-suffering look was lost on his partner who was adjusting the TV antenna. “Sounds cruel to eat gingerbread men while watching gingerbread men.”
“Yeah, yeah. Oh hey, grab a couple glasses of milk, huh? Or would you rather have a beer?”
“Beer and gingerbread men? I’ll need an Alka-Seltzer after that.”
“Medicine cabinet, top shelf. Look, the credits are over — it’s really starting.”
Hutch shook his head fondly as he went to fetch two glasses of milk.
30 minutes later
“So, what did you think, Hutch?”
Hutch thought it was adorable but would rather eat a beef burrito with onions than admit it.
“I think I’ve lost 20 minutes of my life.”
“It was a 30 minute show.”
“I enjoyed the commercials.”
“You’ve got a mean streak, you know that?” Starsky gathered up the empty glasses and plate and headed for the kitchen.
“What do you mean? That commercial where the lonely old man gets a Christmas card from his neighbor? And the one where that gorgeous redhead was driving a new Ford? But my favorite was the one about the new health food restaurant opening up a block from headquarters.”
Starsky came back into the living room and stood opposite his partner, looking crestfallen. “You mean you didn’t like any of it?”
“Okay, the part where the gingerbread baby takes her first steps and trips over the gingerbread cat was pretty funny.”
“I don’t remember that part.”
“I’m pulling your leg, buddy. Heh-heh.”
Starsky was not amused.
“Okay, Starsk. What was your favorite part?”
Starsk brightened immediately. “I loved the whole show! Especially the part where Georgie Gingerbread sang ‘Come One, Come All to the Gingerbread Ball’ and included the candy cane bully. Oh! And when the sugar cookie Santa lifted up Ginny Gingerbread so she could put the star on top of the Christmas tree. But the coolest part was the end, when you find out that the cookies weren’t really alive—they were just cookies on a plate left out for Santa. And boy, did he enjoy them!”
“That’s not exactly the way it worked, gordo. Those cookies were alive but they only ‘came to life’ when no one was watching.”
Starsky thought about that for a moment. “But, Hutch, if they were alive, then Santa killed them by eating them.” He paused, letting that sink in. “No, Hutch. No way. This is a kid’s show. They wouldn’t have Santa killing innocent gingerbread men by eating them. You’re wrong. Cookies are cookies and you’re supposed to eat them.”
“Whatever helps you sleep you at night, pal. Speaking of which, we have to be up early tomorrow. Go to bed so I can crash on the couch.”
Distracted by his thoughts, Starsky wandered off to brush his teeth. When he was done Hutch did the same.
Starsky settled into his bed but his thoughts kept returning to what Hutch had said about eating “live” cookies. He finally concluded that Hutch was a killjoy, rolled onto his side and was asleep in minutes.
It wasn’t long before visions of gingerbread people danced in his head. There was Georgie Gingerbread sitting on Grandpa’s lap listening to him read a favorite Christmas story. Ginny had fallen asleep under the tree.
Suddenly there was a noise from the chimney. Georgie looked up at Grandpa with a startled expression. “Santa?!”
It was indeed Santa, and he looked like Starsky. Starsky smiled in his sleep. He’d make a great Santa.
“I’m afraid so, Georgie. Quick! Wake your sister and head for the cellar! Battle stations, everyone. The cannibal is here!”
The children ran for safety while Grandpa and the parents tackled the human. The gingerbread family began to grow in size while “Santa” shrunk. In seconds he was overpowered and realized that they intended to eat him.
“No no!” he yelled. “I’m not really Santa! I wouldn’t… I won’t…”
“But you DID, didn’t you!” yelled Gingerbread Dad. “We saw you eating gingerbread people! Murderer! Now it’s your turn!”
Starsky continued to yell and thrash. The noise woke Hutch who raced into the bedroom. He shook his partner who was obviously in the throes of some really terrible, horrifying nightmare.
“No, I promise! I’ll never eat another gingerbread-anything ever again in my entire life! Don’t eat me!”
It took a few minutes and a couple of air punches before Starsky awoke, panting and gasping.
“You okay now, pal?”
“Jeez, Hutch. The gingerbread family thought I was Santa and came after me for eating them. They were giants and I was….”
Hutch cut him off gently. “Calm down, Starsk. It was only a dream. You’re safe now. Those big, bad gingerbreads can’t hurt you while I’m around.”
Starsky gave him a withering look. “Yeah, thanks for the support.”
The two detectives stopped at their favorite coffee shop on the way to the precinct. Starsky ordered his usual large with extra sugar and 2 glazed donuts. Hutch got his black with a plain bagel and low fat veggie cream cheese.
As they settled at their desk Hutch asked Starsky to grab him a napkin at the coffee machine.
“Get it yourself,” Starsky grumped.
“Come on, I’ve got cream cheese on my hand.”
When Starsky turned back to the desk Hutch was gone but a gingerbread man was standing on the tabletop.
Starsky yelped and jumped back.
The other detectives in the room chuckled but the sound Starsky focused on was coming from floor level on the other side. Hutch was indeed on the floor, laughing at his poor partner. Starsky picked up the cookie and crumbled it onto Hutch’s face.
“Hey, cut it out, you’re getting crumbs in my eyes!”
“Serves you right.”
“I can’t believe you just wasted food.”
“I said never again and I meant never again.”
“Never say never, partner,” Hutch admonished.
Just then Dobey came out of his office carrying two little packages.
“Starsky, Hutch. Rosie and Edith made cookies last night and Rosie insisted I bring these in for you two.”
“Aw, thanks, Captain, she’s such a sweetheart. Tell her thanks for me, please?” Hutch asked.
“Yeah, thank her for me, too, would you, Cap’n?”
“Let me know how you like them so I can tell her,” the Captain replied and went back into his office.
The men opened the paper to find two gingerbread men.
Starsky looked at Hutch in horror. “What am I going to do?”
“Like I said, Starsk—never say never.”