Dedication: This is dedicated to Flamingo and Kath, for all they've done for me this year. Comments about this story can be sent to: email@example.com
A THANKSGIVING STORY
Twelve P.M.,Thanksgiving Day, 1979
Starsky and Hutch had readily agreed when Huggy had asked them a few weeks earlier if they would help serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Faith, Hope and Charity Mission. As they had often done before, the two detectives had volunteered to work on the holiday, so that the officers with families could spend the day with their children. They didn't have to report till four p.m., however, and neither of them had made any plans yet for earlier in the day. Volunteering at a shelter to help those in need sounded like a fine idea.
So here they were, shirtsleeves rolled up, dishing out food at the steam table. They had gotten there early to help with the set-up and now were greeting the first people of a long line that had formed outside, the hungry homeless and others fortunate enough to have some sort of shelter, but little else.
"Happy Thanksgiving!" Hutch proclaimed to an elderly woman who was the first in line. He put turkey on a dish and passed it to Starsky who added sweet potatoes and peas. Then Starsky passed it to Huggy, who added stuffing and gravy.
"Happy Thanksgiving! God bless you, son!" the woman answered Hutch. "God bless you!" she said to each of the men as he put food on her plate.
It was the same with the old man behind her. He too seemed grateful for the meal and warmly thanked them. In fact, most of the people in the very long line were polite and acted happy to get a good hot meal, even though the usual sadness and exhaustion could still be seen in the eyes of most.
A little after three p.m., when everyone who had waited in line had been served, an elderly man came up hesitantly to the steam table. "Please, could I have some more?" he asked with obvious embarrassment.
"Sure" Hutch answered. "There's plenty left."
"It's just...I haven't eaten since Tuesday, and I'm still hungry. I hate to ask for more than my share," he said sadly.
"It's okay. Don't worry about it. Your share is whatever you need. You're not getting more than your share," Starsky said, as he added the vegetables to the platter.
"God bless you boys. God will repay your kindness," the old man said to all of them, as he took the plate from Huggy with a smile.
"Happy Thanksgiving" Huggy said, as they all smiled at the old guy and at each other.
Hutch gave a small shrug and took off his apron. "I think we're about done here. Let's have some of this ourselves and then we'd better get cleaned up and get ready to go to work."
"Yeah, right" Starsky responded, blinking rapidly, as if awaking from a dream. He took off his apron, too, and he, Hutch and Huggy made platters for themselves, then joined some of the people they had just served.
Twelve A.M., Thanksgiving Friday, 1979
It had been a mostly uneventful evening at the station, as most Thanksgivings were. Even many criminals like to spend holidays with their families. Now Starsky was driving Hutch home, as he often did, but, for a change, they were talking very little.
Finally, a few blocks from his apartment, Hutch turned to Starsky. "What's the matter, Starsk?" he asked, resting his hand lightly on his partner's neck. "You're so quiet."
"Hmm?...Oh, nothin'," Starsky answered. After a pause, as if in response to Hutch's starting to massage his neck, he asked, "Remember that old man today?"
"The last one who came back for seconds?" Hutch asked.
"Yeah. I can't get him out of my mind."
"I dunno. I guess because he was so grateful for a meal. For something we take for granted all the time," Starsky replied, after a few moments' reflection, as he pulled up at the curb in front of Hutch's apartment building. The street was deserted.
"Yeah, it's sad that some people have so little," Hutch commented sorrowfully.
"That's true, but that's not what's really been botherin' me." Starsky turned to the blond. "I've been thinkin' how grateful I should be for everything I've got. Maybe I don't think about that enough anymore. I did, after the shooting, but once I'd gone back to work for awhile...well, I got used to the old routine again, and I tried to put that whole horrible episode out of my mind."
Hutch looked at his partner with surprise. Starsky never referred to the Gunther shooting anymore; that old man must have really gotten to him. "Of course, you did! That's what you're supposed to do. You had to go on with your life. The thing I'm most grateful for today is that you still have a life to go on with! That I still have my partner and my best friend." Hutch's voice cracked slightly as he finished talking.
"That's what I was thinkin'!" Starsky exclaimed. "That I'm so thankful to have you. You took such good care of me while I was recovering. You've always been there for me. I wouldna wanted to go on, if I hadn't had you." He impulsively reached over and stroked Hutch's cheek with his hand.
Hutch clasped the hand and held it against his heart. A tear spilled down his cheek.
Starsky reached with his other hand and brushed the tear away. "I love you," he said quietly, as he moved closer.
"I love you, too," Hutch barely whispered, his eyes opening wide.
Starsky leaned in and kissed Hutch tentatively on the lips.
Hutch placed his hands on Starsky's shoulders, then returned the kiss.
Starsky put his arms around Hutch and kissed his partner with all the love that he had finally come to recognize.
"Come inside," Hutch urged when they finally pulled apart.
"Not so fast," Starsky said, breathing heavily. "Maybe we shouldn't rush into anything. We don't want to do something we may later be sorry for." This all seemed too shocking to him, yet so wonderful, like a dream.
"I love you, Starsk. You said you loved me" Hutch reminded his friend.
"I do. You mean more to me than anything in the whole world."
"Then come inside. If you don't, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." The blond grinned.
"Hey! I'm the one who does Bogie!" Starsky cried. "But you're right, pahdner. Let's go up," he said in his best Bogart impression, then quickly kissed Hutch's lips.
They got out of the Torino and Starsky followed Hutch up the stairs to his apartment and to the beginning of a new phase of a beautiful friendship.