Whom Death Could Not Part
The red and white Torino splashed through another mud puddle, causing its driver, Detective Sergeant David Michael Starsky to swear.
"Well Starsk, you should've known better than to wash this cherry bomb before a rain," was the laconic reply from his partner, Ken Hutchinson, also a Detective Sergeant, seated in the passenger's seat munching on a granola bar.
"I happen to take pride in my car. That's more than you can say about that old rust bucket you drive. It hasn't been washed in weeks.. Besides, the weather report said there was only a 20% chance of rain."
"Starsky, you should know by now not to trust any kind of weather forecast. And I do wash my car.. when it needs it. I just don't happen to think of my car as an extension of myself. You know what they say about men who drive long, red cars?"
"No, 'Dr. Freud', I don't. But, I'm sure I'm about to find out", replied Starsky, half sarcastically.
Hutch answered in his best textbook manner. "It's a sign of insecurity. Men who drive long, red cars transfer their sexual inadequacies to their cars. It's sort of a phallic symbol."
"You're crazy! "sputtered Starsky. "I'm not sexually inadequate! Look there, you made me miss our turn."
Starsky swung the long, red car in an illegal U-turn and headed back the way they had come. "What do you know about psychiatry anyway? I just happen to like this car. What's there to like about that brown banana you drive?"
Before Hutch could reply... *All units in the vicinity of Twelfth and Western, a 211 in progress at Al's Liquor, shots fired. Proceed with caution. All units in the vicinity, please respond.. Repeat..*
Hutch reached for the mike. "Control, this is Zebra Three responding to 211, ETA 2 minutes..." Hutch flipped on the siren and slapped the red light in place.
Starsky floored the Torino and it took off down the street. When they arrived at the liquor store, they. were met with silence. Warily, they got out of the car and approached cautiously from either side of the store's entrance.
Suddenly, the door was flung open and a young man burst out firing. Hutch moved up the alley side of the store for a better position when he stumbled against a trash can, offering a clear target for the suspect. Three shots rang out and he fell, clutching his abdomen, as the young man fled dawn the alley, feet pounding in a flurry of mad escape.
Starsky started after the suspect when a black and white pulled up. He yelled for them to take the alley and call an ambulance while he ran to his partner. Hutch lay huddled next to the trash can doubled over, still and unmoving.
A nameless fear settled over him.. ."Hutch...?" Starsky knelt by the figure and gently touched his shoulder. "Hutch, let me see... How bad is it?" He slowly turned his partner over and caught his breath at the blood welling from the gaping wounds. "Dear God!, We've got to get you to a hospital fast!" Starsky quickly pulled off his jacket and wadded it up, pressing it, to Hutch's abdomen to help staunch the flow. Hutch was gasping for breath...short painful inhalations..."Oh Jesus, Starsk. I really bought it this time..., he panted.
"Hush, don't try to talk. We'll get you to a hospital." Starsky was busy using his belt to hold the jacket in place. "You'll be all right!" It was a benediction.. a prayer.
The injured man clutched at his friend's arm. "Not I don't think I'm gonna make it this time." He labored for each breath now, cramping spasms shook his slender frame.
"Hey, take it easy buddy. The ambulance will be here soon. You'll be at the hospital before ya know it." Starsky was trying to convince himself, and yet a black feeling settled upon him.
"Starsk, please just hold me...Don't let me go...It hurts, Oh God, it hurts!" His face contorted in agony as piercing knives thrust through him. Starsky gathered him up in his arms, the undeniable truth etching itself on his soul.
For Hutch to admit to the pain was an indication of its severity. Starsky hadn't checked, but he knew with staggering awareness that Hutch was bleeding to death inside, and he couldn't do a damned thing about it. The dark haired man looked up, silently cursing two-bit hoods, gray skies and late ambulances. Fate had finally showed her hand, and she held all the aces. A line from a song sagged through his memory.. .*Broken windows and empty hallways, the velvet moon and a sky streaked with gray...Human kindness is overflowing and I think it's going to rain today...*
Cradling Hutch closer...waiting...he looked down at Hutch's face. Fine lashes lay against his cheeks, heavy lines had etched themselves across the high brow, the lines continuing their insidious passage, cutting through his cheeks, pinching nostrils and thinning the lips...giving the illusion of a skeleton. Slowly the eyes opened, casting blue from their depths. A small gentle smile curved the lips briefly, dispelling the previous apparition. "You know I really do like your car...
A brief puzzled look flitted across Starsky's face and then his mind fled back to their previous conversation. Minutes ago? No, a lifetime. "Fuck my car!" A furious restraint in his voice.
"See there, I told you you had a fixation about your car." His voice trailed off as another knife laced through his insides. He clutched tighter to Starsky, digging his fingers into flesh in a paroxysm of pain.
"Hutch?" Starsky's eyes filled.
"It's been good hasn't it?" Hutch's voice was wistful now and resigned. "You know, I love you, ya big lug," and his voice failed there.
Starsky gathered the lifeless form to him, burying his face in Hutch's golden hair, murmuring his name. A wave of anguish rose, engulfing his senses, overwhelming his mind. A hard knot of pain fastened in his gut as grief welled in his soul. Huge racking sobs shook his frame and he clutched Hutch tighter, desperately trying to force life into the still form. Desolation and loneliness surged and crushed his spirit as an iron fist clamped around his heart, bursting it into a million fragmented pieces.
It had started raining again, a fine mist that beaded on Starsky's hair, turning it silver-gray, and then slowly dripping down his face, it mingled with the tears that dried there. They found them that way, desperately clinging, arms entwined. In the empty alleyway, the big, red car sat an empty epitaph to mark their passing. The rain turned the sky a slatey gray bleakness and washed the area in its drab tones. Detective Kenneth Hutchinson, dead from gunshot wounds in the abdomen. Detective David Starsky? Dead? The official record read cardiac arrest, but Captain Harold Dobey knew better.
He had known from the beginning how close these two were, each a part of the whole, and he often wondered how one could live without the other, and now he knew. But no one else, except maybe Huggy would or could believe; David Starsky died of a broken heart.
A peaceful glow enveloped the two forms, buoying them on an ethereal plane...
(The following is in italics...)
"Hey Starsk, what's going on? I feel sorta strange!"
"I don't know, Hutch. I can't remember, but I feel like I'm floating."
"Yeah, so do I. Hey, that looks like us. But that can't be. Starsk, this is weird! How can we be in two places at once? Uh...Starsk...I think I remember. I was shot. Didn't I die?
A flash of remembered pain fled through his consciousness. "Yes, you did, Hutch."
"Well then, what are you doing here?"
"I'm not sure, but I guess I died too!"
"How?" The form questioned. "You weren't shot, were you?"
"No...Uh, I think my heart just stopped."
"Why?" The form questioned sharply.
"Because yours stopped. Guess I couldn't live without ya," Starsky's form replied sheepishly.
"Shit! Starsk, you get the hell back there where you belong! It's not your turn yet!"
Starsky's form hesitated before replying. "I am where I belong. Here, with you! Besides, I never got to tell you that I love you..."
And nothing more needed to be said.