Artwork by Lorraine Brevig



By Monika   11/08



Starsky shifted in his hospital bed to sit up straighter. Pain shot through his body, and it seemed that every muscle objected the sudden movement. No wonder, with all that action yesterday. He held his breath to ride out the pain, hoping that he would be able to move easier after a while.


Finally, he managed to lean against the headboard. He let his gaze wander through the room; it still looked a bit cluttered after the sprinkler system had flooded the place the night before. Poor Hug had meant well when he hung the lantern just below the sensor. It had started so promising…Starsky remembered Hutch entering the room, looking like someone on the run. A little later, their superior Dobey had shoved his ample figure in the room, followed by Huggy, their long-time companion. For the first time in months, Starsky had felt alive again. He had tried the delicious meal Hutch had brought, and even though he could barely eat more than a few bites, he had savored the taste of food he hadn’t eaten in a long time. The sudden spray of water had stopped their celebration of Starsky’s survival.


The party had been over when they were soaked by the pouring water, and Starsky could still hear the nurse’s cry of, “My god, what a mess!”


His friends had been ushered out of the room, leaving him behind, with water dripping from his hair. Two orderlies had put him into another bed, and when they helped him to change into dry pajamas, he had suddenly felt sick again, feeling each painful wound on his body.


Today, it wasn’t much better. Lunch would be served soon. Starsky imagined the brown indefinable ball of meat or fish they generally offered. He checked the nightstand near the bed. If Hutch had left some of the veal from the previous evening, maybe he could skip the hospital lunch.


“Your lunch. Today we have meatballs with mashed potatoes – one of our specialities. You’ll like it.” Nurse Betty entered the room, a cheerful expression on her face.


Starsky gulped and fought upcoming nausea. “No thanks, I’m not hungry.” He turned to his side, ignoring the food on the tray.


“You must eat, David, to get your strength back. Remember, you want to be released before Christmas. With the physical training ahead, we need you to be strong and in good shape. So do me a favor, and take a bite.” Betty settled on the edge of the bed and loaded a portion onto the spoon. “You want me to feed you?” she teased, and he reacted as expected.


“Gimme the spoon!” He took it from her hand, examining the brown bulk from all sides.


“That’s my boy!” Hutch appeared at the door with a bright smile on his face. “Hi, Betty. Are there any complaints about Detective Starsky? I hope he behaves, after what happened yesterday…”


“Hey, it wasn’t me who put the lantern right below the sensor of the sprinkler, huh?” Starsky whined and took the chance to put the spoon back on the tray. “I can tell you I felt like shit after you were gone. I hardly slept, and the repeated overhead page that a Dr. Bear was needed didn’t make it easier. How’s Huggy?”


“He survived, and I think Dobey somehow managed to take the rest of the meal with him. How was your night?" Hutch settled into a bedside chair. "I had to bribe the head nurse to be allowed to visit you. So let’s have lunch." He nodded at the nurse and she got up, relieved. "Thanks, Betty, I’ll take care of my partner.”


“See ya,” Starsky called after her. He leaned back and Hutch stilled his movement.


“Wait a sec.” He fluffed the pillow and helped Starsky to sit more comfortably in the bed. “Bon appetit,” Hutch couldn’t hide a pitiful glance at the contents on the plate.


“Forget it,” Starsky grumbled and closed his eyes.


“Your choice, partner. But if you want to be released from hospital before Christmas, you should think it over: To eat or not. Besides, they've partnered me with the young Baker, and he can’t wait to fill your shoes. Of course, I’d like nothing more than to have you by my side…”


Starsky didn’t hear the teasing behind Hutch’s words, he didn’t get the concern his partner was trying to express. All of a sudden, all he knew was that he was going to lose his best friend. He had fooled himself believing in me and thee forever.


Truth was, he would never be able to drive the streets as a cop again. He had survived Gunther’s assault, but what was left of him was a frigging invalid. Hutch was right to turn away from him; he had to take care of his career. An invalid would be a burden, and Starsky had to accept Hutch’s choice.


“You still here with me? You know, I have to be back at the precinct about two. Baker and I are investigating the double murderer at Westlake. Did I tell you about it?”


“Sorry, Hutch. Don’t worry about me. You should hurry so you'll be back in time. I’ll eat my lunch. Doesn’t look too bad. We can talk about the case later.” As a show of goodwill, Starsky shoved the meat into his mouth, munching noisily.


“Okay. There’s something else. I want you to write your Christmas list. Here’s pen and paper.” Hutch put the writing utensils on the nightstand. "If I can make it, I’ll visit you again tonight. Depends on how long it’ll take to do the questioning in the case.” He reached out and cupped Starsky’s cheek with his hand. Starsky wanted to jerk back, but it was too late, and he surrendered to the bliss of Hutch’s touch.


Smoothing over the moment, Starsky said, “Since when are you interested in my Christmas list? I don’t need another tree in the park.” Starsky’s gaze went to the window. To be honest, after the first disappointment of not getting that caboose for his model railway some years ago, he had learned to appreciate the tree Hutch had planted for him. Starsky remembered, sitting with Hutch in the shadow of that little tree when they could get a break from work. Those times were over now.


“You'll write it down, won’t you?” Now Hutch sounded insecure, his eyes on the ground.


“Of course, Blondie. And you do the same, okay?” Starsky patted Hutch’s arm reassuringly.


“But you're in hospital. How would you manage to buy anything? It isn’t necessary, really.” Hutch looked at Starsky, his love for his partner so obvious that Starsky almost could believe that everything would turn out right for their partnership. ”Have to go now. Don’t drive the nurses around the bend, Starsk. See you.”


“Only if I get your list of wishes, too,” Starsky called after Hutch. His partner smiled back at him, then he was gone and Starsky felt more lonely than ever before. He looked out of the window, noticing the sky had clouded over as if the weather was reflecting his mood. He slipped under the covers, careful not to jostle his aching body too much. A nap would do him good and let him forget about the future he wouldn’t have.



Starsky woke, the nice dream he'd had still lingering. Hutch had been in his dream, playing monopoly with him, and then he had crawled into bed with him and they had laughed a lot – and then suddenly there had been water all over them, and they had screamed – or was that the nurse disturbing their party?


Starsky realized that he had relived the reunion from the previous night. He also remembered that Hutch was partnered with another rookie while Starsky lay helpless in bed, still feeling weak and miserable. Not anticipating the upcoming weeks of physical training with any enthusiasm, Starsky gave a loud sigh and tried to bring himself into a sitting position.


The room had darkened; the street lights had come on outside the hospital. He reached over the nightstand to switch on the bedside lamp. He still had one hour until dinner was served. If he was lucky, there would be a candy bar on the tray – if his favorite nurse Rebecca was on duty. She knew he had a sweet tooth, and knew just how to cheer him up.


He could use the time to write his Christmas list. He had always been fond of that season. Although he was raised in the Jewish religion, he had learned to appreciate the Christian holidays. His Aunt Rose and Uncle Al were to “blame” for it; they had always had a Christmas tree, and Starsky remembered the wonderful gifts and joyful celebrations at their house. Though his aunt and uncle hadn't had a lot of money, they'd made a big effort to surprise their nephew with special gifts. One year, Starsky remembered, there had been an envelope for him under the tree, and when he had opened it, he'd let out a cry of joy: Uncle Al had given him an old car that was destined for the junk yard. Al had repaired it to let Starsky get some driving practice. Ever since then, Starsky had been crazy about cars and driving.


He would love to get the Torino detailed and tricked out, and that’s how he would start his list of wishes.


Starsky took pen and paper. Slowly he wrote,


My list of wishes, Christmas 1979


I’d like to get my car's engine fixed up


I’d like…


He paused. It hit him all of a sudden that fixing up his car couldn’t be of any use for him. He was lying in hospital, unable to move properly, hurting all over his body. The prognosis for a normal life was quite bad; how could he ever assume he would be the lively, exuberant guy he had always been? How his car looked was no longer important. Neither was how fast he could drive it.


The truth was, he could be lucky if he was released from hospital before Christmas. Driving his car wouldn’t be an option for a long time. He would be dependent on someone taking care of him, getting dressed and … Starsky blushed, thinking of the intimate things he would need help with. So far, he wasn’t even able to use the john alone or take a shower on his own. A nurse would have to be hired to assist him at home. He didn’t want to think of the costs though, and he didn’t want Hutch to help out with his granddad’s trust fund. Several times, Hutch had offered to pay his bills when Starsky had been financially stricken, but Starsky’s pride had always declined the generous gesture.


Now he was in a more serious situation. He couldn’t afford the costs for a home-nurse, and the person who was closest to him in life was about to go on with another partner while he was pushed to the side. At least he felt that way.


Hutch, I don’t know how to tell you, but I need you, I don’t want to lose you,” Starsky sighed, thoughts of depression pulling him down. He couldn’t make it without Hutch, and he knew for sure that he didn’t want to go on with this miserable life. Hutch deserved to have a healthy, powerful partner who was able to watch his back, and Starsky had become a burden preventing Hutch from furthering his career. Hutch's lunch time visit just proved how important the work with his new partner Baker was.


Starsky allowed himself to wallow in self-pity. Cripple that he was, he had no right to ask for a life worth living. He had had his chance, with a good man by his side. Hutch had annoyed him when they first met at the academy, but lo and behold, they had become friends.


Involuntarily, Starsky smiled. Hutch, the clumsy, intelligent, white-bread guy from Minnesota had found his way into Starsky’s heart. Starsky remembered the innumerable times when Hutch had stood up for him and had protected him because Starsky’s big mouth had gotten him into trouble. Their superior Dobey could certainly tell a thing or two about that. Together, Starsky and Hutch could take on all that came their way.


There was another level of their relationship, essential for their well-being: their need to touch and be physically close. It was cause for gossip in the precinct. Quite often, other cops talked behind their backs and labelled them as gay. They had never cared, and sometimes they even provoked that attitude by blowing a kiss to each other when one of them left the squadroom.


Starsky’s smile brightened. Hutch, you crazy guy, you always played along, and were never ashamed of showing your feelings. At first, at the academy, you were quite shy, and I bet I made you feel uncomfortable by touching you when I felt happy or needed some comfort. The Starsky family are that way, you know. When you got to know Ma, and she hugged you right away, you knew what you had to expect. Man, I can’t tell you often enough, it meant so much to me when you opened up and returned the affection.


There had been so many times since then that Hutch had taken care of him. Hutch could act hard and deadly cold when questioning a suspect. Conversely, whenever Starsky was hurting or felt bad, Hutch's pale blue eyes got darker with concern, and his voice became a whisper.


Starsky could still feel Hutch’s comforting hands on his head, probing for injuries after that crazy actor disguised as an old lady had beaten him in the taxi. Although Starsky had teased Hutch for being too late, Hutch had known how much it had meant to Starsky that he got there in time to prevent anything worse than a beating.


Or maybe didn’t he know? Starsky held his breath, remembering the times that he had made fun of his partner, of his taste for old heaps – or ladies, when Hutch had fallen for the wrong lady again. Starsky shifted in his bed, ignoring a painful wound on his back. What if Hutch turned away from him because he was fed up with Starsky’s offending remarks?


Had Hutch chosen to be partnered up with another cop because he planned to start a new life without Starsky? Starsky’s heart beat faster. He crumbled the paper with his list of wishes in his hand.


Suddenly he knew what to do with the list. He smoothed the sheet and slid the little tray over the bed and placed the paper on it. He scratched out the first sentence about fixing up his car.


For a moment, he chewed on his pen. Then he began to scribble, knowing exactly what he wanted to tell Hutch.


A brainteaser


I’d like to get…


Something you can’t buy in the next store.

Something that’s unique and can’t be found twice on earth.

Something that cheers me up,

Something that is music in my ears,

Something that’s soft and tender,

Something that calms me down,

Something that reminds me of the sun and sea.

Something that brightens my day.

Something I love so much.

Something I can’t live without.


What is it?


I’d like to get... (answer is below)


Starsky wrote in big letters on the bottom of the page: YOU.


He heard approaching footsteps and folded the paper hastily. He remembered that he should have signed the list, but now it was too late, because the door opened and a blond head peeked in.


“You’re decent? Can I come in?” Hutch smiled, pushing a tray in front of him.


Starsky looked down on himself, arranging the blanket over his groin. Grinning, he said, “Ready for you.” At the same moment he noticed that they were back to the old teasing manner between them. That made it so much harder to think about having to live without the familiar banter if Hutch moved on without him.


”Hey, look what a special dinner they have for you tonight: Cold cuts and rye bread – and I never knew they served candy bars for dinner.” Hutch shook his head in disbelief.


Starsky looked at his partner, absorbing the handsome features. His heart ached with the fear of losing this beloved person. At least Hutch would know about Starsky’s feelings when he read the list…


“So...” Hutch continued. “Have you been a good boy and written down your wishes for me? You know, Christmas isn’t far away, and with that case I have to investigate, it’s even harder to find the time to look for the right things for you.”


Awkwardly, Starsky nodded and handed the folded paper to Hutch. He wished he could disappear. He didn’t want to be present when Hutch read the list. “What about you? I won’t eat until I have your list, too.” Starsky tried to sidetrack.


“Here you are.” Almost shyly, Hutch put a folded paper on the blanket. He looked at Starsky’s sheet and gave a whistle. “Ugh, that’s quite a lot...” Hutch went quiet and read.


Starsky took Hutch’s paper, concentrating on opening it carefully. Maybe Hug could do him a favor and get Hutch’s presents. He read:


My list of wishes


All I want is YOU




The letters began to dance and blur in front of Starsky’s eyes. Realizing that Hutch needed him as much as he needed Hutch was just too good to be true.


“Hey.” Hutch sat on the edge of the bed, reaching for Starsky’s hand. “So the question about the presents is solved, huh?” he smiled, and Starsky only nodded, not trusting his voice at the moment.


Hutch leaned close, his blond hair mingling with Starsky’s dark curls. “Never without you, babe.”


Starsky cleared his throat and was about to answer when the door opened and Nurse Rebecca’s cheerful voice said, “I hope the dinner was...” She stopped and a worried expression appeared on her face. “Oh, is something wrong? Any bad news?”


Not at all, Rebecca,” Hutch said, settling in next to Starsky and pulling the dinner tray near.


“Everything’s fine. Thanks.” Starsky beamed at her.


“And merry Christmas in advance,” both men said in unison.



The end







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