"I'm not kidding, Hutch," Starsky said. "I mean it."
Hutch sighed. "I know you do, buddy, and I'm right with you. But will you please get out of the car?"
"The next person," Starsky went on, his voice becoming low and threatening, "the very next person who says, 'You're lucky it was your left,' I'm hittin' 'em with my cast!"
"I know you are," Hutch agreed. For some reason, the pain medication his partner had been given was making him a little stupid, and very belligerent. "It's an insensitive thing to say."
"The nurses said it, the doctor said it—Dobey even said it! Dobey! How long have I known Captain Dobey?"
"Seven years," Hutch answered promptly.
"He knows I'm a lefty! But what did he say when you told him I'd broke my arm?"
"Well, what he said was, 'Is he all right?' And then he asked how you did it."
"You didn't tell him, did you?" Starsky asked, horrified.
"Of course I didn't tell him! You think I want him to know? I said you fell off your skateboard."
Starsky looked at his partner blankly. "I don't have a skateboard."
Hutch rolled his eyes. "That was a joke, meathead. I told him you'd tripped going down the steps of my apartment and you landed badly."
"And he believed you?" Starsky asked anxiously.
"Of course he believed me! It's not like I hit you over the head with a candlestick, pushed you down the stairs, and then tried to convince him it was just an accident. You're alive. If I was lying, you'd be able to tell people."
"Oh, yeah." Starsky was relieved. "But then he asked which arm it was, didn't he?"
"Yes, he asked which arm it was," and to forestall the next question, Hutch added, "and yes, he responded very inappropriately when I told him it was your left arm you'd broken."
"He knows me, Hutch! He knows I'm a lefty!"
"Starsky, by now your whole neighborhood knows you're a lefty. Can we get out of the car and go in the house?"
Starsky looked around as though he hadn't realized they were still in the Torino. "You drove my car."
"Yes, I did, Starsk. You were parked blocking me in, so I drove your car."
"It's OK, Hutch. You can always drive my car whenever my arm's broken."
Hutch got his partner settled on the sofa and went to clean up the bedroom at least enough to put him to bed. Mostly he just straightened out the sheets and kicked the debris into a corner.
Hutch ran back to the living room and found his partner exactly where he'd left him. "What's wrong?"
"Oh, there you are. I thought you left."
"If I'd left, I wouldn't have heard you," Hutch pointed out.
"Yeah, but you didn't leave." Starsky said smugly. "You'd never leave me."
Hutch sat down next to him on the sofa, and Starsky snuggled against him, his own casted left arm cradled protecively against his chest. "I'm a lefty, Hutch. I need my left hand."
"I know that, Starsk. It's just that most people are right-handed, so it's a natural—" He could feel his partner taking a deep breath, about to argue with him, so Hutch changed tracks. "Dobey must have been so worried about you, he just forgot you're a lefty."
"You think so?" Starsky asked.
"I'm sure of it. And Huggy, first thing he said was, 'It was his left arm? That's terrible.'"
"He really said that?" Starsky asked.
"He really said that," Hutch lied smoothly.
For a long time they sat like that, and Hutch thought Starsky was asleep until he spoke again.
"So, you think the trapeze was a bad idea?"
"I think we only got it screwed into the plaster and not the wood, and that's why it came loose."
"Would you mind if we didn't try it again?" Starsky asked.
"No, I don't mind. You're the one who said he came from circus people."
"I made that up," Starsky said.
"Really? But in this light, you're the spitting image of Bozo the Clown."
Starsky laughed sleepily.
"Why don't you get some sleep, buddy?"
Starsky nodded against his chest.