This story first appeared in the zine, Ouch! #12 (2001). This zine, and other fine S&H gen zines, can be obtained from Neon Rainbow Press: http://www.neonrainbowpress.com/< /font>. Comments on this story can be sent to: email@example.com and will be forwarded to the author.
K Hanna Korossy
"How you doin', buddy? Hutch?"
"Help's coming, just hang in there. You sure managed to bring the whole place down on top of yourself."
"Mom always said not to do things halfway." A cough. "Starsk?"
"I'm right here. I ain't goin' nowhere."
"Oh, God... 's like bein' under the car again...I can't feel my legs..."
The briefest hesitation. "That could mean anything, partner, you know that. And I know it reminds you of the canyon, but things are different this time. Help's on the way and I'm here. I'm right here with you. Everything's gonna be okay, trust me."
"Hutch! C'mon, boy, stay with me. I won't let anything else happen to you, but you gotta hold on."
"Shh, don't try to talk then. I know it hurts--just take it one breath at a time. Slow, easy breaths. Feel my hand?"
"Good, 'cause I won't let go. I'll worry about things, you just rest."
"Didn't I say rest? I'm fine, Hutch. I was outside when it all came down, remember?"
"Don't think so much, buddy. You're not supposed to do anything right now 'cept relax, okay?"
"Talk to me."
"Isn't that what I'm doin'? God...hey! Easy there. Don't try to move, partner. They're gonna be here soon to get you out."
"I need...to hear--"
"Hey, now, you know I can talk your ear off, just don't move, Hutch, please. This place could still come down around our ears, y'know."
"Maybe you should--"
"Uh-uh, forget about it. What did I say about staying? You're with me and I ain't leavin' 'til we leave together, got it?"
"Good. Just...calm down, Hutch. I've got ya and I'm not about to lose ya."
"I'm right here. Listen to me--I'll keep talkin' if you stay and listen, okay?"
"I'll take that as a yes. Uh, well...you hear the one about--"
"Sorry. Uh, okay. How about...there's...there's somethin' I never told you about. It was...the night Pop died." A pause. "Ma and I and Nicky were at the hospital, waiting for them to come tell us he was dead. I already knew. They say kids don't get death, but I knew. Ma was the one who was pretending everything would be okay and Pop would be all right. I don't know, maybe she was doin' it for Nicky and me." A shake of the head. "Anyway, we were all sittin' there when Pop's partner showed up. I expected him to come talk to us, tell us everything was going to be all right, too. Hey, you still with me?"
"Good boy, you keep doin' that. So anyway, Pop's partner, this big guy by the name of Sal Delvecchio, got there and I was just waiting for him to say something 'cause I wanted someone to blame. Like that would have made it feel better. But Pop always said he and Sal watched each other's backs and so I thought it would be easier to yell at Uncle Sal than to think about Pop being dead."
A beat. "I don't know. Sal got there and he just sat down on one of those chairs down the hall. An' all of a sudden he started shaking--he was crying. Not scared like Ma, just...like he was bleedin' and couldn't stop. Big Uncle Sal. I didn't say anything to him. I couldn't, Hutch. In a way, he was hurtin' as bad as I was. But I...learned something. I didn't wanna be a cop then, but I realized you could love somebody like that, if you were lucky, someone who wasn't family but who loved you just 'cause they wanted to. Even after Ma sent me away, I didn't forget that. And...I did end up gettin' lucky. More than that kid in the hospital could'a ever thought."
"S--" More coughing.
"Shh, take it easy, take it easy. I'm right here."
"Starsk..." A painful swallow. "I'm scared."
"I know. I am, too."
"What if...this is..."
"Don't. Don't talk like that--you're gonna be okay. Where's that ambulance?! I can't lose ya, Hutch."
"Shh, you wanted me to talk so I'm talking, okay? Just listen. Remember a year ago when Jennings did that poison number on me and suddenly I only had 24 hours left? Talk about bein' scared. But every time I was ready to scream, Hutch, you were there and you looked even more scared than I was but you weren't givin' up. And...that made me stronger. It kept me hanging on 'til you figured out the answer. We already beat the odds by findin' each other, partner, and nothing's gonna change that."
"Yeah... Hutch? Easy, partner. I think I hear the ambulance comin'. It's all gonna be okay now, I promise."
"Not so bad now...thanks."
"Shh, just relax. HEY, OVER HERE! I see 'em comin', Hutch. Almost over, buddy."
A squeeze of the hand his only answer. It was enough.
"Hutch? I'm right here."
"Wha's goin' on?"
"You were in a little accident, buddy. At the old house, remember? It fell on you."
"No...where 'm I?"
"The hospital, for the fifth time. You're gonna be fine, just have to stay for a couple of days."
"I'm fine. You were the only one inside. You broke a few bones and hit that hard head of yours so it's gonna hurt a little bit, but you'll be fine."
"M' legs? Can't feel 'em...!"
"Hey, shh. I told ya you're gonna be fine. Your legs are numb from some swelling. It'll go away soon. Trust me, Hutch."
"...'s like last time..."
"You weren't trapped that long, buddy, and I was with you every second, remember? It's not like it was in the canyon. Feel my hand?"
"Shh. You gonna take it easy for me? I need you to get better so we can hit the streets again, partner."
"Go back to sleep, Hutch. I'll be right here, you just heal."
A whisper. "Tell me about it."
And silence fell.
Written in 1999