This story was originally published in the S/H zine SHADOWPLAY. This zine is now out-of-print. The story is reproduced with the permission of the author. Special thanks also go to Cindy for scanning, translating, and proofreading the printed story into electronic copy. This story was written for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to infringe on any rights held by any holders of rights to Starsky & Hutch.
Just thought I'd let you know I got here okay, and as soon as everything's straightened out, I'll be home on the first flight I can get. Damn, it's cold!
Bitch about L.A. pollution all you like, but at least California's got sun. It's not snowing now, but the last fall is still in frozen heaps, dingy-grey and khaki-colored, on the edge of the sidewalk. You ever seen snow in N.Y.? I don't think it even comes down white.
It snowed yesterday, at the funeral. I got here in time to see her before they closed the coffin. She looked like--this is kinda difficult to explain. You know how they say 'she looked at peace' or some such crap? She didn't. Hutch, what she looked like was a doll. One of the real old fashioned sort, you know? In the museums? You remember the time we took Lisa to the Children's Museum when they had that display of Dolls Through the Ages? That's what Momma looked like--a painted wax doll. Not like her at all. Nick made them wait so I could see her. He's been real good about everything. All the arrangements. Like he says, someone had to do it.
Aunt Rebecca--she's not really my aunt, but she was one of Momma's best friends--said she was with Momma when she died. Seems the stroke hit while she was watching TV, and when they got her to the hospital, the doctors said she wasn't likely to come out of it, and that was when Aunt Rebecca sent for me and Nick. Nick got here first, and he saw Momma before she died. But she didn't say anything. So far as we know, she never said a word those last twelve hours. Aunt Rebecca says it was the same with her Bernie. The mind goes, it just takes a while for the body to catch up. She didn't suffer, anyhow. That's what they said. I hope to god they were right.
I don't remember too much about the funeral. Jet lag. Except it was so cold, and I couldn't cry. Nick was crying like a baby. But I just felt numb, like it wasn't happening. We said Kaddish. There were some nice tributes. The roses were beautiful. I'm glad you thought of them. I never had time. Red roses were her favorite, and you remembered. She'd have liked that. She always said you had taste. I can remember what she said after I first took you home to meet her--charmed the hell out of her, didn't you? "Ken's a good man. A shaygetz, but a good man." I'd make book that she'd have tried to marry you to my sister, if I had a sister. Guess you have to make do with me, partner.
I wish you'd ignored what I said and come along. I know I said I didn't want you to come, that I'd rather come alone, but now I wish you were here. I need someone just to talk to, I guess. Nicky's no good. We got nothing in common any more, except our blood. He's New York, all the way through. And I'm not any more.
Funny, all I could think of, right through yesterday, was how I'd gotten sent out to L.A. after Poppa died. I've told you about that enough times. How I thought it was my fault, that I'd done something wrong and Momma was sending me away because she didn't want me. I was thirteen. It was just after my Bar Mitzvah. I was a man, under Jewish law, but I didn't feel much like a man. Just a scared kid, lonely, confused.... I didn't think I'd ever forgive her for listening to the family telling her that she couldn't cope. "David'll be better with Rose and Al. He needs a man's influence. You'll have enough bringing up young Nick...." Took me years before I saw the reasons clear, knew they'd done me a favor. If I'd stayed in N.Y. I might have become a cop, like my Dad. But I wouldn't have a Hutchinson for a partner.
Didn't have time--or coherence--to tell you thanks for fixing everything for me-- the leave of absence and the plane tickets and all. And the flowers. You were terrific, Hutch, and don't give me that "what are partners for?" line. The apartment's contents belong to me and Nick, now, but there's not much I want. I took the charcoal sketch of me you gave her the first Christmas--she had that on the living room wall--and I'm bringing some other bits and pieces back, but Nick can do whatever he wants with the rest. There are a few pieces of jewelry that Momma kept--she'd want Aunt Rebecca to have those, or maybe the china tea service--and Poppa's pocket-watch, and I'm bringing that back for you. She would have wanted you to have something, and so do I, and I'm not going to let you argue me out of it.
Weird thing about funerals--everyone turns up. Folk I hadn't seen for years, some I didn't remember at all. Like I said, the Big Apple just ain't my turf any more, Hutch. I didn't even feel I was part of the family somehow, like I was a stranger. An observer. Like I didn't have any connection with these people. Oh, I made all the right noises, said all the right things. But it didn't mean anything. My family--all the family that means anything to me--is out in California. You're my family, Hutch.
You know how Momma was always nagging me to settle down, find a nice girl, get married. And maybe she'd guessed, begun to suspect, why that wasn't happening, or ever likely to happen. She never asked, because she probably didn't want to know for sure--but she did ease up on me recently, which is why I think maybe she knew how it was between us. She loved you, anyhow, and she always said all she wanted was for me to be happy, so that's okay.
I'm rambling here--damned if I know why I'm writing this, anyway. I could pick up the phone and call you--but it's only about two in the morning in L.A., and you probably just got to sleep and wouldn't be too thrilled about a call, even from me. So I guess I'll just keep on writing . Sitting here at 5 a.m. I'm realizing some things that I think I should tell you, but I'm not sure I can. Not straight out, face to face.
The theory is that once the problem is acknowledged, that's the first step towards solving it. Terrific. I don't even know that it is a problem. You know I love you, you don't need me to tell you that.
I never told Poppa that I loved him, but he knew I did. I told Momma plenty of times. Every week. With every phone call, every letter. So she knew. Or am I just thinking that was all it took? Saying the words like a parrot. "I love you." Because she expected it. A son loves his mother. But did I ever mean it? Did I understand what I was saying?
You're going to think I'm crazy. Of course I loved my mother. So of course I'm sorry she's dead. But it still doesn't seem real somehow. You'd say I'm still in shock, and it'll hit me later, and you're probably right. You usually are. Maybe I'll be able to cry then. I don't know. And I'm trying to analyse something here that maybe I should leave the hell alone, but--what do the words mean?
I love you. That was the hardest thing for me to say to you. The scariest thing, too. When it changed from "friend" and "brother" to what it is--scared the shit out of me, realizing what you meant to me. How much you meant to me. I think I've come to terms with it now--it still scares me but mostly I can handle it. "I love you" is so little, to mean so much. It means you're my partner, my best friend, my lover. It means there's nothing I won't do for you, nothing you can ask that I won't give. I never felt this way about anyone before, Hutch. That's one of the scary parts. The other--well, funerals are great at reminding you of your own mortality, and living the way we do, we both know we're not gonna live forever.
There's a certainty we share that we don't talk about, don't bring out into the open, because we can't look at it. We know it's there, and that's enough. But I'm going to say it. One day, one of us is going to die.
Momma lived more than twenty years without my father. Hutch, I couldn't live twenty minutes without you. I don't ever want to be in that situation, so I pray to god that I go first. I know this would shock you and it has to be the most selfish thing I could wish for, but there it is. It's what I mean when I say "I love you."
Maybe you already know this, inside. But I can't say it to you out loud, and I don't think you'd want to read about it, either.
So I don't think I'll get around to sending this letter. Just in case I do, though--
I love you.