He entered the store quietly, standing to look around for a moment, savoring the feel and smell of a place full of heart and soul. Quietly, he looked around, reaching out to touch, to caress, to find the perfect piece that would complete the healing process of one he loved dearly. The detective in him knew what to look for; the friend in him would know it when he saw it. Further into the store he walked, admiring the newness, but feeling no heart within. He went into a small back room, and there, in a corner, he saw it. No shiny newness, just warmth from being touched and held and loved. Starsky trembled, as he reached out to touch it; feeling it full of life and love - he had found the right one.
Starsky stood quietly at the door of Hutch’s apartment, listening for any type of movement. If Hutch was not ready they were going to be late for work, again. He knocked and waited a second, before using his key to open the door.
“Hey Hutch!” Starsky called out, “ya about ready? We gotta go in just a few or we’ll be late. And, if that happens, I’m lettin’ Dobey yell at ya.” He walked in slowly to the apartment, looking for his blond partner. Even though they were best friends, you just don’t sneak up on a guy in his place, especially after what Hutch had been through these past weeks.
Again, he silently cursed Diana. Knowing she was in Cabrillo State did not help to make the anger any less. As long as he lived, Starsky would never forget Diana’s chilling voice on the phone saying he would be too late, that Hutch would be dead before he got there. That voice filled Starsky with a fear that reached through his heart and into his very soul. The two had been through so much together and survived, but Hutch was there all by himself, possibly already hurt and fighting for his life.
Suddenly, Hutch burst from his bedroom, and Starsky had to grab him by the shoulders to keep him from running the brunet down. While holding on Starsky felt an ever so slight tremble that his klutzy partner could not hide. Looking into Hutch’s eyes, he saw a small shadow of fear flicker in and out, a shadow noticeable only to Starsky.
“Geez, s-sorry Starsk, I o-overslept.” Hutch stammered, confirming what Starsky knew. “Let me jump in the shower real quick and then I’ll be ready to go. We w-won’t be too late, we’ll just sneak in and Dobey will never miss us.”
Starsky smiled, knowing that was not true. Dobey had an internal radar system that seemed to be always tuned into him and Hutch. But, if a few extra minutes were needed so Hutch would feel safe, Starsky would face the Dobey wrath. It wasn’t be the first time and it certainly wouldn’t be the last time. This was all part of the Partner Protection Manual, which seemed to change constantly with these two. Starsky gently patted Hutch’s face and smiled at him, no words needed between the two. Hutch smiled back hearing Starsky’s silent message and made his way to the bathroom.
“I’m hungry”, Starsky thought, “time to raid the fridge. Maybe there’s something here other than wheat germ and black strap molasses.” And, he thought, if Hutch slept late, he would need breakfast, too. In the kitchen Starsky grabbed the coffee pot off the stove, thinking a cup of coffee would also help to get the day started. When he picked it up, he was surprised to discover there was coffee made and it was still warm. He placed the pot back on the stove and stood there wondering what was going on. If Hutch had slept late, why was the coffee pot warm? Sleeping late means not having time to get the coffee started, right?
Hunger forgotten for the moment, Starsky went to Hutch’s bedroom to look around. Right away, he spotted a cup of still warm coffee from that still warm coffee pot on the stove. And then, there was the bed, made up in Hutch’s immaculate way. It never ceased to amaze Starsky that Hutch’s car should be condemned as unsafe to ride in, but his apartment was always clean and spotless. A made bed? Well, that’s possible if running late, so Starsky thought. But, there on the side of the bed, the slightest indentation in the covers, the slightest shifting of the spread; someone had been sitting there - waiting. But, waiting for what?
Starsky took a deep breath and blew it out in frustration and worry. Hunger really forgotten now, he walked back into the den to look around. Slowly, he walked and he looked, trying to figure out what was going on, all the while listening as his partner finished his shower and started to shave. Standing in the middle of the den, hands on his hips, in the quiet of the morning, Starsky tried to figure out what was wrong. What was going on with that blond partner friend of his?
Looking around at the well dusted apartment, something stood out, the piano. Hutch’s beloved piano that he purchased right after moving into the apartment. Starsky scratched his head, thinking of the paint job that occurred before the piano arrived. While every other piece of furniture in the den, including the plants were clean and shiny, at least an inch of dust stood on the piano. Dust that indicated it had not been touched or played with since the night Diana broke into Hutch’s apartment and tried to kill him.
Just then Starsky realized that Hutch was quiet in bathroom. No singing or whistling, something he had not done since Diana’s attack which had started in the shower. That’s it, no music, no piano, no guitar. Hutch had been heartbroken when his guitar had been destroyed by Diana. Huggy had completed the destruction, admonished by Starsky about a man’s heart and soul
And the waiting, what was Hutch waiting for? Did he really sleep late? Thinking back, Starsky remembered the times after Diana’s attack. The nightmares, wanting to sleep with lights on, and fear of the shower. For the longest time, Hutch would take a shower only when Starsky was there and the door was open. Eventually, Hutch seemed to tire of Starsky’s Mother Hen and things seemed to be going back to normal…seemed to be. Starsky now realized what was going on with his complicated friend; he was still scared of the shower. In the shower, Hutch was blind, not able to see or hear if anyone was coming, just like that night with Diana. Suddenly, Starsky realized that Hutch was not running late, nor had he been on other mornings. Hutch was waiting for Starsky to arrive, so he could get into the shower with someone in the house. As brave as he had fought the nightmares of Diana, as hard as he had worked in physical therapy to recover the use of his left arm, as much as he had struggled to get his life back to normal, that one small room and that one small shower still held the fear Hutch needed to break from Diana.
Music and water, two of the most soothing things on God’s earth. And the two things his partner needed to become whole and sound again. What could he do, Starsky thought, to help Hutch find his way back? “Hang on Hutch,” Starsky thought, “hang on, I’ll figure this out for ya and will make it work.”
Just then, Hutch came barreling out of the bathroom, pulling a shirt over his still damp chest. “One minute Starsk, then I’ll be ready.” Hutch headed back to his room putting his gun on and then a light jacket. “OK – let’s go. Like I said, maybe we can sneak in before Dobey knows we are late!”
“Yeah right,” thought Starsky to himself, “we’ll see about that.”
Sure enough, they were late for work, and sure enough, the Dobey radar had them picked out before they even got to their desks. “Starsky, Hutchinson,” he yelled in his typical good morning yell “get in here! You’re late again! What have I told you about being late?” Rolling their eyes, the pair quickly went into Dobey’s office. As usual, Hutch sitting in the chair and Starsky perched on the arm.
Starsky started before Hutch even had a chance to open his mouth, “Sorry Cap, it’s my fault for being late. I overslept and was late getting Hutch, didn’t even have time to get somethin’ to eat! I’m heading to the cafeteria as soon as we are done here, want me to bring you somethin’ back, Cap?”
Dobey looked up at Starsky and knew there was more going on than being late. Starsky & Hutch usually sat close to each other, but today, not even a ray of sunlight could separate those boys. Dobey knew something was up and that Starsky was in Hutch Protection mode, so he just let them being late slide by.
“Starsky,” the Captain said gruffly, “I don’t want anything to eat and you two are not going to have time for breakfast. A lead came in this morning for that drug ring trying to set up in the warehouse area. You two to get down there and see what you can find out.” Dobey handed over the file to the detectives
“C’mon Hutch, just heard about this new place on the way that serves breakfast burritos.” Starsky jumped off the seat, grabbed the file from Dobey and was out the door before Hutch knew what was going on. Hutch looked at Dobey and threw up his hands with a ‘see what I have to deal with’ look and followed his partner out the door. Dobey just shook his head and smiled.
The morning and early afternoon turned into long, hot, empty hours of searching through back alleys following up on tips that lead to nowhere. Even Huggy had no information for them when they stopped by for a quick lunch. The pair sat in a back corner, looking over the file Dobey gave them and going over what few leads they had been able to get. They decided to go and stake out the last known warehouse location of the drug gang – hoping that something would happen.
Starsky had convinced Hutch to take a nap while they were waiting. He knew Hutch was still not sleeping good most nights so, hopefully, with the protection of Starsky nearby, Hutch would be able to get some rest. Starsky watched him sleep; with that little boy look that Starsky knew was hiding dream demons. “OK Partner,” Starsky thought to himself, “time to get Diana out of your system once and for all. I just gotta make you see and understand that.” Spotting a pay phone just a few feet from the car, Starsky quietly got out and made his way to it, already hoping his plan would help Hutch to wash those fears of Diana down the drain.
“Hey Hutch, wake up,” Starsky gently shook his partner. “C’mon, bad guys are a no-show and we gotta fill out the report that says that. C’mon Blitz, we are here at the station, so open them pretty blue eyes of yours and let’s get going.”
Hutch opened his eyes with a yawn. Would he never not be so tired, he thought. Would he ever be able to get a good deep sleep? “Yeah, OK, let’s go. But, I’m typing the report, Gordo. If we wait for you to do it, we’ll be here all night.”
Starsky smiled, agreeing with his partner. That worked with his plan so perfectly.
In the squad room, Hutch was working diligently on the report, not even noticing that Starsky had slipped out. He quickly walked down to R&I spotting his co-conspirator right away.
“Minnie, my doll. How ya doin?” Starsky asked all smiles. He and Minnie flirted with each other outrageously, but nothing had ever come of it and never would. Minnie was one of the ‘safe people’ in Starsky’s life, one of those folks that Starsky could depend on for help, no matter what. There were very few folks in that group: Dobey, Huggy, Minnie, Babcock, and Simmons…folks he could trust. Of course, there was Hutch, but he was in a group all to himself.
“Starsky, you rascal, I’m doing fine, now that you are here. What’s shaking?” she asked with laughter in her eyes and voice. Minnie also cared for Starsky a great deal, but like Starsky knew nothing would ever happen between the two of them. He was her safe person – even if he was a rascal!
“Not much Minnie. Do you have that report I called you about?” he asked her.
“Yeppers, I sure do. All the information you asked about has been confirmed.” She told Starsky as she handed him the file. “I think everything you need to know is here. Honey, I hope it helps Hutch.”
“Thanks Minnie, I know it will.” Starsky touched her arm in gratitude. “I’ll let you know.” And he walked out, going to the squad room to collect his blond partner and head home.
An hour and quick trip to the store later, the two pulled up in front of Venice Place. Gathering groceries and mail they walked into the apartment, ready for a quiet night of dinner and a movie.
“Hey Hutch, where’s the beer? I don’t see it.” Starsky asked poking his head into the few unemptied grocery bags.
“I thought you got the beer Starsky, you headed off in that direction.” Hutch said.
“Oh yeah, well, I got distracted by this cute girl.” Starsky said with a sheepish grin. “I think her name was Sandy, she was asking me where I got my tennis shoes from. She was really cute, but liked staring at my feet.” Starsky said. Hutch just rolled his eyes, what he was going to do with this guy; sometimes he just was not sure.
“Hey,” Starsky walked up to Hutch as the last of the groceries were put away. Looking Hutch straight in the face he said, “why don’t you go ahead and get in the shower while I’m gone? Won’t be but a few minutes, then I can get a shower while you finish dinner.”
There, Starsky saw it, faint but fast, the fear of getting in the shower. Yep, confirmed, it was Fear of Shower for Hutchinson, Kenneth. And, hopefully, Starsky had the cure.
“Hutch,” Starsky said his name gently. “Look at me, Diana is in Cabrillo for the rest of her life and she can’t hurt you anymore. C’mere, sit down, I want to show you something.” and he led his partner to the couch. “Look at this report, it confirms that Diana is locked up and can’t get out. Minnie pulled this for me today. Look at the pictures, read the report.”
Starsky hoped that his partner would look at this and know that Diana was truly locked up, never to bother him again. The pictures showed her walking the grounds of Cabrillo accompanied by a guard. The report told in detail of her schizophrenic condition and the recommendation that she stay there for the rest of her life. And, if by some small chance, she did get out, Hutch would not have to deal with her alone again, Starsky would be there.
“So, you see Hutch, she’s locked up. She can’t hurt you, not anymore. You have to walk away from her, you will never be complete until you do.”
“I’m scared Starsky,” Hutch said with such raw emotion that it broke Starsky’s heart. “I know she’s gone, I know she can’t hurt me, but I’m still scared.” Hutch got up from the couch pacing to and fro, agitation and anger pouring out from him. “And, why Starsk? Why am I so scared? I mean, I’m a cop, I fight the bad guys, hell, I run after the bad guys. But, I’m scared to take a shower in the safety of my own home – why?”
“Cause Hutch” Starsky said gently holding Hutch by the arms, “you are human and you were attacked in your own home, the one place where you should feel the safest. But, if you don’t deal with this, then she wins and you live in fear for the rest of your life. And, I know you well enough to know that you can’t do that, and neither can I. Hutch, look at me, you are the strongest man I know, you can do this. You can beat Diana.”
“But, what if I’m not strong enough Starsky? What if I can’t do this?” asked Hutch trying not to get lost in his despair. It was then that they both realized Hutch was just not talking about the shower; he was talking about a fear that he would never find his way back.
“Then,” Starsky said looking at his friend with such love and compassion, “you can have some of my strength, I have plenty to give. I always will for you, babe. Hutch, I know you can do this!”
Taking a deep breath, Hutch looked at Starsky and knew he was right, knew he had to break free of the fear and he had to do it now. “OK, I’ll get in the shower,” he said with a shaky smile, “You get the beer. But, hurry up, I’m hungry.”
“Atta boy, Hutch” Starsky said, slowly letting out the breath he had been holding. “I’ll be right back. And, hey, don’t use all the hot water – I hate a cold shower.” Hutch laughed as Starsky left, the first good laugh he had done in a long while.
Minutes later, there was the sound of water and Hutch truly enjoying a shower for the first time in weeks. As the water ran down his body, he could feel the hold that Diana had on him being washed away. With each cleansing drop, his strength grew and his fear drowned. With each cleansing drop Hutch put his life back in order, to be free of Diana for good. In his heart, Hutch began to feel at peace, and then he thought of the other emptiness in his soul. Could that part ever be filled again? “Oh Starsky,” Hutch thought, “you helped me with this, what about the rest? Can you or anyone help me with that?”
Downstairs, Starsky pulled the keys from his pocket, opened the trunk of his car and pulled out the beer. Walking back up the stairs, he listened for when the shower would cut off. Starsky knew that Hutch needed to do this by himself, but there was no way he would leave his partner alone for something like this; not just yet, not this time. “Besides”, Starsky thought, “I really do hate a cold shower, gotta make sure there is a little hot water left
Over the next few weeks, the partners continued to run down leads for the drug ring while working other cases that never seemed to end. Over time, Starsky abandoned his shower recon as Hutch really seemed to have overcome his fear. But, Starsky knew there was still one more part of Hutch that needed to be fixed before he would be complete and Diana would be finally gone from his life. And, safely stashed in the trunk of his car, Starsky had what he knew would complete the process.
“Hey Blitz”, Starsky called as he let himself into Hutch’s apartment. “I’m here; make sure you are decent before coming out of the bathroom!”
Starsky heard Hutch snort a laugh, could see him shaking his blond head. He listened another second, hoping he would hear Hutch whistling like he used to do when finishing the shower. But, nothing, just silence; a silence so loud in the home of one who so loved music.
“Hey Starsk,” Hutch yelled from the bathroom, “there’s coffee on the stove if you want a cup. I also have some cereal in the cabinet, all full of sugar, just for you.”
Starsky laughed, wondering why Hutch had food like that for him. “Oh well,” he thought, “take advantage while I can. Hey, maybe there’s a prize at the bottom of the box!”
But, just as he was heading to the kitchen, the phone rang. Starsky answered it, hearing Huggy’s worried voice on the other end.
“Starsky, you and Hutch need to get down to the warehouse fast. Just got word that these guys with this drug ring are scared cause you two are getting close. They are packing up and moving as we speak.”
Cereal and coffee forgotten, Starsky thanked Huggy and quickly hung up the phone. “Hutch,” he called, “hurry and finish; we gotta go. Seems the bad guys are tired of us hangin’ around and they are bugging out. If we want to catch them, need to get down there now.”
Within minutes, the partners were in Starsky’s car heading to the warehouse. Hutch called in the information from Huggy to Dobey who promptly got back up rolling.
“How do you want to handle this Starsky?” Hutch asked as he checked is gun. “Front and back? That way we can catch them if they run out either way.”
“Yeah, that works. We already know there are only two main entrances, so they will be at one of them. I’ll go around back, give me a few seconds before you come in the front.” Starsky said.
“Ok, but be careful Starsk, these guys are desperate. They will shoot first and ask no questions.” Hutch said.
“Yes Mother Hen, I promise, and you be careful, too,” Starsky said as they rounded the corner to the warehouse.
As usual, things did not go as planned. Hutch went in the front, thinking he would meet Starsky coming from the back. Only, there was no Starsky, which gave Hutch a bad feeling. The connection he had with Starsky told him that something was wrong and he had to find out quick. Running through the building, he heard footsteps fleeing fast. Hutch knew the bad guys were running, but he stopped short when he saw Starsky on the ground, blood trickling from a gash on his head.
“Oh God, Starsk,” he said, running to his partner. “Starsky, can you hear me? Come on Starsk – open your eyes, buddy.” Hutch gently touched Starsky’s head and looked to see if there were any other injuries. Seeing none, he pulled the radio from his pocket and called in what was happening.
Soon Starsky was in the ambulance, Hutch by his side, rushing to the hospital. Dobey and the others stayed behind cleaning up the scene and looking for suspects.
At the hospital, Hutch waited impatiently outside the examining room looking at the doors, as if his eyes could pull the doctor out and give him the news he needed to hear. Patience was not a virtue either detective had – especially when it came to the other’s partner.
“Hey Hutch,” a familiar voice came down the hall. “How’s Starsky?” asked Huggy Bear.
“Don’t know yet – have not heard anything from the doctor. What are you doing here, Hug?” Hutch could not remember calling their informant friend and letting him know about Starsky.
“Dobey called me, asked me to come by and sit with you, just to make sure you two are ok. He’s still tied up at the scene and can’t get away.” Huggy said as he sat by the blond. Huggy could tell that Hutch was tensed with worry, not knowing what was going on with Starsky. Dobey knew Starsky was hurt physically, but also knew Hutch was hurting mentally. He had hoped the presence of Huggy would help them both.
Soon the doctor came out, making his way toward Hutch. Both detectives had been here enough, the doctors knew to talk with either of them right away. And to not to keep the detectives separated from each other too long.
“Detective Hutchinson, your partner will be fine. The bullet just grazed his head; he has a slight concussion and a few bruised ribs from where he fell. I know he won’t like this, but I do want him to stay overnight, just to be on the safe side. And, I need your help to convince him of this,” the doctor said sternly.
Hutch smiled, knowing the argument Starsky would give, and knowing the dark haired detective would lose. If the doctor said Starsky needed to stay, then that’s what would happen. “Don’t worry doctor; I’ll make sure he stays here with no fussing.”
Later, after a warning finger from Hutch, Starsky stopped arguing and settled into his room for the night. Hutch, of course, stayed with Starsky to make sure he would behave and not flirt with the nurses too much. But, Starsky was in no mood to flirt as the concussion was indeed giving him a really bad headache.
“Hutch,” Starsky called softly in the dark of the hospital room, “ya there?”
“Yeah Starsk, I’m here. Not going anywhere, buddy.” Hutch answered, reaching out to hold Starsky’s hand. “What do you need? I know your head is still hurting.”
“Hutch,” Starsky opened his eyes slowly, “sing to me Hutch. Sing to me, I haven’t heard you sing in so long. Let me hear you sing, Hutch. I know that will help.”
Hutch hesitated at the request. It was true, he had not sung in a while, not since Diana. He was not sure if he could sing again, if the words were even still in his heart.
“Hutch, please…I need to hear you.” Starsky said in a quiet whispered plea.
And, that quiet plea was all Hutch needed. Starsky was here, Starsky needed him, needed to hear him. Reaching down into a part of his heart that had been closed for a while, Hutch began to sing. Quiet songs of peace, love, and healing, all the while holding Starsky’s hand and stroking his face. Soon, Starsky relaxed, his breathing becoming steady, the pain etched in his face smoothed by the healing music of his friend.
The next afternoon, an impatient patient and an impatient partner eagerly awaited discharge orders from the doctor. Huggy had been by, bringing the keys to the Torino, which has been left at the crime scene the day before. What surprised Hutch was that he found Starsky & Huggy in deep conversation that ended quickly when he walked into hospital room. He figured his partner was trying to get a Starsky special from Huggy’s kitchen for the night. Some things just never change.
Hours later, they were in Starsky’s car heading home. “Hutch,” Starsky said quietly, “let’s go to your place. It’s closer, I think the riding is making me sick, my head is still hurting a bit.”
Hutch looked over and saw Starsky with his head leaning back on the seat. He quickly headed toward Venice Place, pulling up just a few minutes later. Reaching over, he gently nudged Starsky awake and helped him up the steps.
Once inside, Hutch got Starsky settled onto the couch and then headed to the kitchen. He could smell the food that Huggy had delivered and realized just how hungry he was.
“Hey Starsk, are you hungry? Huggy brought food – it would help if you would eat a little something?”
“Yeah, a little something would be good,” Starsky replied. “Just bring it in here if you don’t mind. I don’t think I can handle sitting at the table.”
Hutch gathered the food and carried it into the den, spreading it out on the table in front of the couch. “How ya feeling, buddy? Do you need something for the pain?”
Starsky thought for a second. Looking toward the piano, he spotted it; delivered by Huggy when he brought the food. He knew it would be now or never for Hutch.
“M’ok Hutch – your singing last night helped. Maybe you can do it again? Sing to me again, Hutch.”
“Starsky, I can’t. Please don’t ask me to.” Hutch said in a quiet whisper. Singing to his partner was easy at the hospital last night. There was nothing to remind him of the destruction that Diana had done. Nothing to remind him of the part of his heart and soul that had been destroyed.
Starsky looked at Hutch and knew what he was thinking, knew what Hutch was missing, and knew what Hutch needed.
“Hutch,” Starsky said, “music is as much a part of you as breathing and living. Please don’t let Diana take that away from you. Please Hutch, sing to me.” he looked at his partner, willing him to find the music that he knew was in Hutch’s heart. “Hutch, look at the piano.”
Slowly Hutch turned to look at the piano. The first thing he noticed was that it had been cleaned and dusted, shining at him like an old friend welcoming him back. Then, he looked closer and he saw it, the instrument of his heart, of his soul. A guitar, slightly worn and used, just waiting to be touched and held. The guitar beckoned to him, and Hutch complied, reaching out with trembling hands to touch the warm wood, the strings, the frets. Hutch’s heart pulled him to the instrument, and he realized how much he had missed holding and caressing the music of his life.
Hutch looked back to Starsky with a question in his face. Starsky just smiled, “I know your heart was broken when Diana destroyed your guitar. Hutch you need to play, you need to sing, you need to finally be whole.”
Walking slowly toward the guitar, he picked it up and sat on the piano bench. Using the piano, Hutch began to tune the guitar, every note coming into key representing one more note of Hutch’s soul coming into tune. Starsky watched as Hutch gently caressed the piano and guitar, like a lover he had turned his back on, but had finally welcomed back home. He watched as each new note, each new chord, and each new sound filled Hutch’s soul. The piano was the well for Hutch’s soul, and the guitar provided the music to fill that well. Hutch played for hours, lulling Starsky into a peaceful and restful sleep.
Hutch looked up and saw that Starsky was asleep. He knew Starsky had gotten this guitar for him as well as made him face the shower on his own. Hutch was whole again. Through water, music, and friendship, he had been restored. As he looked at Starsky, Hutch realized he had never really lost his soul, that Starsky was just keeping watch over it like he had done so many times before.
Hutch moved toward his friend and gently stretched him out on the couch, covering him with a blanket. Then he went back to his guitar to play and softly sing more. All the while watching Starsky and being thankful for his friend’s love and guidance. Thankful for Starsky… his true soul.