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Muted Memories

Disclaimer: This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit.  It is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders of the rights to Starsky and Hutch.

 

 

 

I knew it was beginning; snaking its way through insidiously, bringing pain and death, as it attempted to take the life of my partner, my best friend . . . and I . . . I stood there helpless, unable to stop this madness from happening. Unable to reach out to touch him, soothe him, hold him . . . unable to protect my vulnerable partner like I wanted to.

 

Instead I just stood there quietly, pushing down the frustration that roared in my ears, swallowing the inevitable anger that raced to the surface, as I clenched my fists to stave off my worry, my pain . . . my despair.

 

I watched him as he turned and curled his long body; his soft blond hair lay tousled. Sleep always had a way of softening his features, making him look younger than he was.

 

Though my eyes never left his face, my mind began to wander, racing back in time over the years we’ve spent together. Like muted washes of color, my memories blended together and I could see and hear those special moments that created a collage of images that were forever ingrained upon my mind . . . and heart.

 

“All I want is Blackbean Soup and you to bring it to me . . .”

 

“I don’t know how to break this to you, but you’re just not the kind of man a woman’s gonna kill herself over. I don’t care what your mother said, you’re not Rudolph Valentino.”

“My mother never said I was Rudolph Valentino”

“No?”

“No. Said I was more the Paul Muni type . . .”

 

“You know Starsky . . . I just had a thought .  .  .”

“Yeah? Take an aspirin . . . it might go away!”

 

“Hey . . .”

“What?”

“Goodmorning!”

“Goodmornin’!”

 

“Thought you got hit back there . . . what happened . . . you’re shakin’”

“I’m scared Starsk . . . I’m scared .  . .”

“Yeah . . . me too . . .every time I pull this thing . . .”

 

“Esta Ramon aqui?”

 

“Did you ever think about it Starsk?”

“What?”

“Here we go . . . another day, another dollar . . . 10-4, 5-6, Tack 2, Zebra 3 . . . they’re trying to make us into digits and I’m tired of it!”

“Hey . . . hey . . . hey . . . it’s important. I enjoy being Zebra 3. I don’t think I could sleep at night if they took that away from us . . .”

 

“What took ya so long huh?”

“Nice looking nightgown you got there . . .”

 

“You know . . . if she were havin’ our baby right now, she’d want me there with her to share it . . . I don’t understand . . .”

“Well, perhaps each person has to deal with his fear differently . . .”

“Yeah . . . well I’m scared too . . .”

“I know . . . I know . . .”

 

“How’d it go with Cindy last night?”

“Acceptable, acceptable . . . you still seein’ what’s her name?”

“Sure . . . still seeing what’s her name . . . took her to the what’chama call it . . . gave her my thingama jig!”

“Didn’t know it was that serious”

“It’s not.”

 

But this was. My buddy was dying and I was just standing here . . . watching him die, remembering the times we shared. I needed to be out there again . . . 

 

Hunting, searching . . .

 

But it was tearing me up to leave him like this . . . all alone . . .

 

“You worried?”

“Yeah.”

“Relax.”

“I’d rather be worried.”

“Me too. . . so who do we trust huh?”

“Like always . . . me and thee.”

 

Me and thee. We joke about it a lot, but there is no one who I can trust more in life than my partner. Whenever I was in a situation where I had no one to turn to, I knew I could always turn to Hutch . . .

 

“As I see it, it’s who do we trust time . . .”

 

“Who are we supposed to report this to . . . I mean who in the hell are we supposed to trust?”

“Same people we always do . . . us”

 

Us. Him and me. He’s the other half of my soul. How would I make it without him? I silently berated myself for allowing my thoughts to even go there . . . thinking those desolate thoughts. It was like I was betraying him . . . betraying me.  What happened to positive thinking?

 

“Well that’s twelve hours gone.”

“Yeah . . . the pessimist says it’s half empty and the optimist says it’s half full. Oh it hurts Hutch . . . oh God, it hurts!”

“I know . . . I know . . . buddy I’m here . . . I’m here . . .”

 

“I’m here buddy,” I quietly whispered, though I knew he couldn’t hear me. I could feel the tic in my jaw, as I shoved down the anger and frustration that wanted to boil to the surface. How the hell could this be happening? He’s the health freak for crying out loud, always badgering me about my eating habits . . .

 

“That’s a great breakfast . . . rootbeer and cold pizza.”

“It’s an all American breakfast. Just for the autopsy report . . . what do you mash up in there every morning?”

“Goat’s milk, blackstrap molasses, sea kelp, lecithin, desiccated liver . . . of course a good sprinkling of your trace elements and vitamins . . .”

“Of course!”

 

I smiled to myself, remembering how I sarcastically said the latter. My partner wanted to live as long as those Aber . . . those people in Russia. I could hear his soft voice in my mind, remembering what he said just before they wheeled him to this room . . .

 

“Hutch”

“Yeah?”

“I’m gonna find Callendar”

“Well do it buddy because I plan to be around for another one hundred forty eight years.”

 

I could feel my shoulders wearily drop a notch . . . as my mind replayed the conversation I had with Dobey just a few hours before. .  .

 

“If we don’t find Callendar in the next couple of days; Hutch is a dead man . . he’s  finished . . . gone.”

“Every man who’s not on assignment is out there, including a few that shouldn’t be.”

“Well, we both know that’s not enough.”

“I don’t have any choices . . .”

“Yeah, well Hutch doesn’t have any choices . . .”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m some cold hearted bastard! I love Hutch as much as you do! What makes you think my gut’s not being ripped apart?”

“Hutch is dyin’ . . .”

 

‘Hutch is dyin’. Hutch is dyin’. That thought kept going ‘round and ‘round in my head. That litany seemed to mock me, as I stood there silently keeping a pointless vigil over my best friend. My partner was dying . . . he would be dead in a few days if Callendar didn’t show, but finding Callendar would be like finding a needle in a haystack. I knew it . . . and so did Hutch.

 

‘Oh God Hutch . . .’

 

‘Oh God . . . please . . .’

 

I could feel my nails digging into my tightly closed fists as despair once again took hold of my heart. I stood there; my calm fašade hiding the turmoil within. What I wanted to do most; was to smash my fists through the glass window that separated me from my partner. My insides were on fire, as I watched Hutch toss and turn fitfully on the bed . . .

 

“Why couldn’t he have been here?”

“Well you got that out of your system, now whattta you want to do?”

 

I took in a deep calming breath, hearing my partner’s voice in my head, remembering how I trashed Prudolm’s apartment when we didn’t find him there. Hutch always says I need to control my temper. Blondie has that magic in his voice  . . . he has a voice that’s smooth, as soft as velvet, and it never fails to set me straight. Hutch knows me, knows what to say to inspire me, to calm and comfort me, he knows what to say to cheer me up

. . .  well, most of the time . . .

 

“Yeah babe, right here . . .”

“What’s happenin’?”

“Let me check this out. Well it looks like we’re sitting on a bit of a powder keg . . .”

“Huh?”

“Yeah . . . Vic Monte . . .”

“Vic Monte?”

“Yeah . . . those two guys out there are planning to surprise old Vic in his linguine.”

“Don’t sound too good . . .”

“Yeah . . . and when they finish with him . . . we’re next . . .”

“You really know how to cheer a guy up Hutch . . .”

“Well I do my best . . .”

 

I could feel myself smiling again as the memory of that night in the Italian restaurant faded. I remembered how my partner made me suck on a wet rag and then offered me his gold watch. I guess it didn’t matter how bad it got in situations we found ourselves in . . . as long as we were together, we somehow made it through . . . as long as we were together, everything was bearable.

 

Only this time, we weren’t together. He was in there . . . and I was out here. My mind drifted to the time I almost bit the dust, when Bellamy’s poison was snaking its way through me . . .

 

“Want me to drive?”

“What? And get us both killed? Why am I tryin’ to make you feel better . . .”

“You know something Starsk . . . it’s always toughest on the ones left behind.”

“I’ll believe that when I hear it from somebody who went first . . .”

 

Hutch was right. It was toughest on those left behind. This time I might be the one that was left. Now I know what my partner must’ve been going through, watching me slowly succumb to that poison. And now . . . now it was my turn to watch. That time when I was poisoned, at least I had him by my side . . . he was alone in there, battling by himself . . .

 

I should get going . . . I should be out there . . . searching for Callendar, but I couldn’t leave without Hutch knowing I was here. I kept standing there . . . hoping . . . waiting for a glimpse of his baby blues when I sensed a presence beside me . . .

 

“Looks like a little boy . . .”

 

Judging from the voice, I knew it was Judith, although I didn’t bother to acknowledge her.  I just continued to stare at Hutch, watching as he rumpled his sheets with his fitful squirming. I didn’t want to look at her . . . didn’t want her to see the desperate anguish that filled my being, and yet, I needed to know the status of my partner. I was almost afraid to ask . . .

 

“How’s he doin’” I said softly, still keeping my eyes all the while on Hutch.

 

“By tomorrow the symptoms should appear . . .”

 

She said it so matter of fact that I could feel the tension growing in my body. I clenched my fists tighter and chose instead to focus on the weariness I heard in her voice.

 

“How you doin’?”

 

“I’m exhausted.”

 

“You find anything?” I couldn’t help but turn to look hopefully at her, sending up a silent prayer. Perhaps the doc had found something . . . some miracle that would save my partner’s life . . .

 

“No.”

 

A bullet through my side would have been easier to take. I could feel myself wanting to explode, could feel the hot bitterness that her words evoked, but I forced it down, never showing the helpless frustration that gnawed within me. I turned to look through the glass window at Hutch.

 

Hutch. I needed to get out of here and continue my search for Callendar, yet my feet felt rooted to this spot by the window.  I could feel Judith’s eyes on me; feel her silent concern for the both of us. I needed to go now . . . but Hutch . . . he needed to know I was there. As Judith turned to leave, I said softly . . .

 

“Hey, do me a favor . . .don’t ask any questions . . .”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Got a lipstick?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

I nodded as I felt her slip her lipstick into my hand, my eyes never leaving my partner’s form even as I felt Judith turn to leave as silently as she came.

 

Hutch. My eyes took in my sleeping partner. He did look like a little boy, his hand tucked under his chin, his blond hair blending in with that uncomfortable yellow gown the hospital supplied. I wish he would open his eyes. I wish I could tell him how much he means to me . . . I wish I could just see that smile of his . . . I had to let him know I was there . . . that I would always be there . . .

 

Removing the cover of the lipstick, I looked up at the glass window that kept me from my partner’s side and began to write  . . .

 

The last time he saw my name written in red like this, he said it filled him with fear. Maybe this time, it would fill him with hope . . .

 

o- finis -o

 

 

 

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