Summary: Hutch must delve into his and Starsky’s history to discover why his partner has suffered a nervous breakdown.
Category: Starsky & Hutch
Word Count: 6364
Hutch awoke to a sunny day. This morning his disposition was bright as well. His positive mood was somewhat surprising, as he and Starsky had had an absolutely miserable week full of only the vilest of human kind. It was only Wednesday and they had already arrested 2 rapists, 5 drug pushers and 1 multi-murderer. Not to mention the 4 court cases they were called to testify in. Yes, it was only mid-week, but the pair were nothing short of exhausted.
Nevertheless, Hutch felt rejuvenated this brilliant morning. Instead of dragging himself out of bed, like he did most of the time, he popped to his feet with little effort. He stretched as far up as he could and let out a well rested sigh. He made his way to the kitchen for a cup of Joe before heading to the shower. He decided to skip his usual morning mile run. The hot water stream only enhanced his cheery frame of mind. He whistled as he shampooed and shaved.
After toweling off, it was time for breakfast. Hutch’s specially formulated protein shake chalk full of sea kelp, vitamins, minerals, goat’s milk and of course a smattering of desecrated liver. Then it was a quick brush of his flaxen locks before throwing on his street clothes. Today, he chose his brown cargo pants, faded orange zip up crew neck shirt, brown lace ups and to top it all off, his black and white baseball jacket.
He was out the door in record time. It was his turn to drive, so he got into his car, slipped on his Ray Bans and peeled away from the curb toward Starsky’s place. Hutch always hoped his partner would be ready and waiting but that was rarely the case. When Hutch drove Starsky seized the opportunity to catch a few extra winks. Most of the time Hutch would pull in front of Starsky’s apartment and honk the horn in hopes that he wouldn’t have to park and go upstairs. This was the regular routine. Hutch would read the newspaper in Starsky’s kitchen while downing yet another cup of coffee. Sometimes it was worse than having a girlfriend.
As Hutch drove he hummed a generic tune. It was a pleasant day so far. But, the day was young. As he made his way down the main drag before turning onto Starsky’s street, he saw a man that looked like Starsky walking aimlessly along the sidewalk. Hutch had to take a second look to realize that the man actually WAS Starsky. He was wearing nothing but a pair of jeans. No shirt and no socks or shoes. Hutch screeched to a halt after passing him. He put the car in reverse and worked his way back to Starsky who didn’t acknowledge Hutch’s very distinguishable vehicle.
“Hey!” Hutch yelled. “Starsk!”
But there was no response. He continued to walk away from Hutch.
“HEY!” He tried again.
Hutch did a quick parallel park, threw the car in park and flung his door open. He jogged up the sidewalk to catch up with Starsky. When he reached him he placed his hand on his shoulder and spun him around.
“Hey man. What are you doing out here?” He asked curiously.
But, Starsky just stared at him. He didn’t seem to recognize his best friend.
“It’s me. It’s Hutch.”
The only thing Hutch got in return was a hauntingly vacant stare.
“What are you doing out here in your bare feet? Where’s your shirt. Are you okay? What’s wrong? What happened?”
Hutch crouched slightly to make direct eye contact with his partner begging all the questions. Again, Starsky seemed to gaze into the distance without comprehension or acknowledgment.
“Come on. Let’s get you home.” Hutch ordered as he steered Starsky toward his car and helped him into the passenger seat.
Starsky did not protest.
Hutch gingerly closed the door and circled around the front of the car and got in the driver’s seat. He glanced over at Starsky who looked like he was in a trance. With great concern, Hutch put the car in gear and drove the 4 miles to Starsky’s apartment. What was it this time Hutch mulled? Who had gotten to Starsky this time?
When he arrived, he guided Starsky up the stairs and put him in bed. He had yet to make a sound or show any sign of coherence. After making sure Starsky was safe in his bedroom, Hutch went into the kitchen and picked up the phone and dialed.
“Captain? It’s Hutch.”
“You’re late!” Captain Dobey blasted.
“Look. I’ve got a little problem.”
“Oh yeah? Now what? Was she worth it?” The Captain chuckled at his own jab.
“Nothing like that. It’s Starsky.”
“He’s late too! What about him?”
“Well, he’s… well, I don’t know exactly. I found him roaming the streets.” Hutch struggled to explain his predicament. “He doesn’t seem quite with it. Like he’s had some kind of… I don’t know… some kind of episode.”
“Episode? What do you mean?”
“Captain.” Hutch whispered. “He doesn’t recognize me. It’s like he’s…”
The conversation was abruptly interrupted when Hutch was startled by Starsky’s cries for help. He immediately dropped the phone and ran to the bedroom. He found Starsky sitting straight up in his bed tearful and terrified. He sat on the side of the bed and placed his hands on Starsky’s shoulders to try and calm him down.
“It’s okay Starsk. Take it easy. It’s going to be okay.” He said firmly hoping it would give his partner a feeling of security.
“NO! HUTCH. STOP NO!!” Starsky yelled.
“Stop what? I’m here. It’s okay.” Hutch replied as he tried to lay Starsky back.
“DON’T… NO! HUTCH! STOP!”
It took a few moments, but Hutch was able to get Starsky pacified. Whatever was happening to him needed immediate attention and Hutch wasted no time in calling an ambulance and getting his partner to the hospital.
“How is he?” Hutch asked the doctor when she entered the waiting room of the hospital.
“Not well.” She replied. “I’ve admitted him.”
“What’s wrong with him? I found him roaming the streets wearing just a pair of blue jeans. He didn’t seem aware of his surroundings. He didn’t know who I was.” Hutch implored. His face was etched with worry.
“Yes, well… it’s still early, but I think Mr. Starsky has experienced a breakdown.”
“A mental breakdown.” The doctor assessed. “It’s an acute, disorder that manifests primarily as a severe stress-induced depression, anxiety or dissociation to the extent that they are no longer able to function. It can cause lack of cognizance, nightmares and violent outbursts. Sometimes even hallucinations and or illusory symptoms.”
“But, he was fine yesterday. How did this… manifest… so quickly?”
“Sometimes there are no indications leading up to the episode. Just about anything can trigger one. Are you his family?”
“Well. I’m his partner.” Hutch answered.
“Oh, I see.” The doctor said. “Does he have any family?”
“Yes. His mother and brother. But, they live out east. I am the only family he has out here.”
“Alright then. Let’s go to my office and have a chat.”
“Well, can I see him first?”
“Let’s talk. He’s asleep. You can visit later.”
Hutch reluctantly followed her down the hall to a small office. His instinct was to get to Starsky. She sat behind her tiny desk that was cluttered with far more papers than it could hold and Hutch took a seat across from her. He felt antsy and helpless.
“I’m Dr. Filmore by the way.”
She stretched out her hand.
“Nice to meet you. Detective Sgt. Ken Hutchinson. Everyone calls me Hutch.”
“Okay. Hutch it is.” She replied before she began her interrogation. “So tell me… Hutch, has your partner experienced any traumatic events during his tenure as a police officer?”
“Traumatic events?” Hutch stated as if the question was obtuse. “Hell yeah! Many! We both have. It comes with the job. There have been many ‘traumatic’ events over the past 7 years. I wouldn’t even know where to start?”
“Well, let’s start at the beginning.” She said simply.
“Do you mean you want me recount every time we were shot, or drugged or beaten? Or the times we saw murder or rape victims? Or maybe you’d like to hear about all the good people we have had to use or all the ones we loved who were taken from us. How much time have you got doctor?” Hutch blared angrily.
“Now listen.” Doctor Filmore said sternly. “I’m sorry you have had such an upsetting past Detective Hutchinson. I understand the day-to-day stresses policemen endure. I have had many as patients. But, there is no need to take it out on me. I am not the enemy. Quite the opposite. I am just trying to help. I need to know as much as possible, so I can treat your partner and maybe even help you.”
“I’m sorry.” Hutch digressed as he closed his eyes tightly to try and gain control. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so… I’m sorry. I’m just worried. I’ve never seen Starsky like this. I’m scared.”
Both she and Hutch took a deep breath. Doctor Filmore got up from her desk and poured him a cup of coffee. She instinctively knew he drank it black. She handed it to him and returned to her place behind her desk. She sat back and looked squarely at Hutch.
“So. Let’s start again shall we?” She began. “How long have you and Mr. Starsky known each other? How did this partnership form?”
“We met in the Academy. We hit it off right away. The first day.” Hutch said sheepishly. “We’ve been together ever since. It’s been oh… coming on 8 years now.”
“You must be very close.”
“Close doesn’t even come close.”
The doctor grinned.
“Starsky and I are like one person.” Hutch contemplated. “Whatever happens to him happens to me and vise versa. It’s hard to describe. We love each other very much. We spend a great deal of time together both on and off the job. I depend on him and he depends on me. We trust each other with our lives. I can’t image my life without him. Does that sound strange?”
“No. Not at all. The strongest bond between two human beings is the straight male relationship? Sorry, that is my psychology background rearing its head. But, it’s true. Men in battle become very close sometimes to the point of not being able to function without the other. Sometimes even family and other friends are excluded from their lives. It’s a powerful thing.”
“We certainly have been in many battles.” Hutch confirmed. “It feels like a war zone out there sometimes.”
“So, I’m getting a clearer picture of your relationship. Maybe you can be more specific with some of the trauma you and he have experienced. Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of why Mr. Starsky has had this terrifying event.”
“Dave or David.” Hutch mentioned plainly.
“Instead of ‘Mr. Starsky’. Dave or David.”
“Okay. Is that what you call him?”
“You know what? I don’t think I’ve ever called him Dave.” Hutch sounded as if he’d never realized that before.
“And what does he call you?”
“He calls me Hutch. He’s never called me Ken. He calls me a lot of other things. But, never Ken.”
“What else does he call you?” The doctor chortled.
“He calls me Blondie a lot.”
“I can see why.”
The pair were feeling more comfortable with one another now. Hutch finished his coffee and crossed his legs. It was almost as if he wanted to talk it all out. He never had before. Not with anyone other than his partner. He had thought about seeking therapy many times before and decided to take advantage of this opportunity.
“So. It’s been 8 years then?” Dr. Filmore said as she placed pen to paper.
“Yup. 8 years. A lot has happened in 8 years.”
“What comes to mind first?”
“Well to tell you the truth, something pretty bad happened just 6 months ago.”
“We have accumulated many enemies over the years. This particular man had more resources than most. He targeted both of us.”
“What happened?” The doctor sounded intrigued.
“We were ambushed and Starsky was shot 3 times. He barely survived.”
“Do you think that may be behind this breakdown?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
“Tell me a bit more about the incident.”
“We were in the parking lot at the police station, heading out for the day. Then two men dressed as cops did a drive by and hit Starsky 3 times in the back. He was in a coma for several days and almost died of cardiac arrest. But, he refused to give up. He was in the hospital for about 4 weeks. Then we got him home. I moved in for a while. I took a leave of absence for the six months to help with his recovery. It took time physically, but that whole time he was up beat and positive. I never once was worried about his state of mind. He seemed to just be happy to be alive.”
“We just started back to work 3 weeks ago.”
“And? How has he been since returning to work?”
“Good. Great!” Hutch said brightly. “Same old Starsk. I haven’t noticed any signs of stress. Everything seemed to be back to normal. He’s not one to keep things to himself. I mean, he would have told me if he wasn’t feeling well. And, even if he were trying to hide something, he wouldn’t be able to. I know him better than anyone. I know when something is bothering him.”
“Okay. Let’s put that aside for the moment. Let’s go a bit deeper and maybe further back in his career.”
“Sure, we can do that.” Hutch replied. “But first, I really want to see him. Would that be okay?”
“Of course.” The doctor smiled with resolution. “Let’s go pay him a visit. I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. We’ll continue this later.”
Starsky lay in the fetal position on the unadorned hospital bed. The dull white blankets were pulled up under his chin. The sun bathed the room but it felt cold. Starsky was still under the influence of the sedative Dr. Filmore had given him several hours before. Hutch approached the bed apprehensively. The doctor stood by the door to give them privacy. Hutch took a seat and leaned in.
“Starsk?” He said at a tone just above a whisper.
Starsky opened his eyes slightly but they fluttered fighting to close again. Then they flooded with tears. He didn’t move a muscle and did not seem to register where he was or who was speaking to him. The sight of his friend in this condition made Hutch gulp.
“Hey buddy.” Hutch said trying to sound up beat.
“Hutch?” Starsky finally said. He wiped his eyes and nose on the sheets.
“Yes. It’s me.”
“Are you okay?”
“Well sure I am. It’s you I’m worried about.”
“I tried to find you. I just couldn’t find you.”
“I’m right here Starsk.”
“I thought you were dead.” Starsky whispered barely audible now.
“Why would you think that?”
“I couldn’t find you.” Starsky repeated weakly.
“I’m fine. Everything is going to be alright.” Hutch placed his hand on Starsky’s shoulder. “Get some rest okay.”
Starsky did not respond to Hutch’s words of comfort. He lay there staring into space. A single tear spilled from his eye and fell down his cheek into the corner of his mouth. Then he went back to sleep.
Hutch glanced up at the doctor for reassurance. He looked shattered. She walked over to him and gently placing her hand on the back of his neck.
“Come on.” She said. “We’ll take good care of him.”
“I think I should stay.”
“We have more to discuss Hutch. Trust me. He’s in good hands.”
Dr. Filmore and Hutch sat in the corner of the cafeteria. It was 5pm. The place was crowded with staff, patients and visitors. The doctor opted for a hearty dinner of Sheppard’s Pie, salad and a slice of pound cake. Hutch had little appetite and decided on another cup of coffee.
“What’s your first name doctor?” He asked as he took a sip. “I mean, if I’m going to divulge my life story the least we can be is on a first name basis.”
“It’s Caroline. And, you should eat something. You can’t live on coffee. I’ll have to treat you for malnutrition if you keep this up.”
“Don’t you know this is the lifeblood of a cop?” Hutch grinned. “Actually, I’m usually very conscious of what I eat. Starsky is always complaining about it. I’m a bit of a health nut.”
“And he’s not?” Caroline inquired as she tossed her salad gently with her fork.
“Hardly.” Hutch smirked. “He’s a pizza and root beer kind of guy. And that’s for breakfast!”
“He looks in good physical condition. You’d never know he was a junk food addict.”
Hutch just smiled.
“So,” Caroline interjected. “Let’s get back to our earlier discussion.”
“Well, I couldn’t help over hearing your conversation with David in his room. I was wondering why he might be worried about you? He asked if you were okay. He said he couldn’t find you. I’m curious why he may be under the impression your dead.”
“We’ve been through a lot. A LOT.” Hutch emphasized with raised eyebrows.
“Well, let’s come back to David’s past later and focus on yours.”
“It sounds like David is concerned about you. I suspect this breakdown has more to do with you than it does with him.”
“He has saved me more times than I can count.”
“Yes.” Hutch answered. He leaned his elbows on the table and looked squarely into the doctor’s eyes. “Starsky has saved my life many times. I wouldn’t be sitting here if it weren’t for him.”
“Okay. Give me an example.” She said completely engaged.
She daintily placed a forkful of lettuce in her mouth.
“There was a woman that I loved very much. Jeanie.” Hutch sounded reflective. “She was mixed up with a man who didn’t exactly like the fact that we were together. So, we hide from him. But, he and his men found me and I paid the price.”
“What kind of price?”
“Hmmm. Not sure if I want to go there yet.”
“I would prefer not to talk about it here.” Hutch said warily. He looked around the room to see if anyone might be eavesdropping.
“What I can tell you is that Starsky and I have been on the streets for a long time. We have seen everything. We have survived more than anyone. And, now this. I’m terrified that this could be the end.”
Hutch sat back and looked pensive. He hesitated before he spoke again.
“The end of us.”
“Okay.” Caroline said as she took her seat behind her desk once again. “Where were we?”
“Starsky saving my life.”
“You mentioned something about paying a price for being with a woman?”
“Can you give me more details about what happened and where Starsky fits into the scenario?”
“Ben Forrest.” Hutch said with distain. “And his man Monk.”
“It’s so hard to talk about. I never have before.”
“You can trust me, Hutch.” Caroline assured. “Whatever we discussed will not leave this office.”
“They kidnapped me and well, shot me up with heroin until I was hooked.” Hutch divulged bluntly.
“I beg your pardon?” The doctor exclaimed in horror.
“I told you. Starsky and I have been through it all.”
“I’ll say. So, what happened then?”
“Then the bastards took it away from me so I’d string out and tell them where Jeanie was. I eventually did. It was one of the most devastating moments of my life.”
All Caroline could do was look at Hutch with complete sympathy. She stopped writing as if Hutch’s story was too horrendous to believe. It made her feel a bit sick. She had only spent a short time with Hutch but couldn’t help feeling maternal towards him.
“Once I gave up the information, they tried to kill me but I got away and Starsky found me.”
“You mean he saved you.”
“Yep. Starsky to the rescue. He took me to our friend Huggy’s and stayed with me until… well, until I was better. I’ll spare you the gory details. Starsky took a lot of abuse in those few days. But, he never gave up on me. He got me through it. It was very, very hard. Still is sometimes.”
“Wow is right.” Hutch agreed. “That harrowing story is just one of many I’m afraid.”
“Have you ever talked about any of this with anyone?”
“Not even Starsky?”
“If we come across someone who is in the same condition I was in, we’ll exchange a glance. It is really the only time we acknowledge what happened with my heroin addiction. But, we’ve never really hashed it out. I mean, why would we? What would it accomplish? It happened. It’s over. We survived.”
“And, have you come across someone recently that Starsky may have related to that terrible incident and caused his breakdown?”
“No. Nothing comes to mind.”
“Hmmm.” The doctor sounded stumped. “Well, let’s talk about more recent history. What has happened in the last say… 2 weeks?”
“We’ve been very busy. VERY!” Hutch emphasized.
With that utterance, Hutch’s complexion changed as if he’d had an epiphany. He sat up straight in his chair.
“What?” Caroline recognized the subliminal light bulb that hung over Hutch’s blond head.
“We had to testify in a trial just last week. Ray Pardee.”
“Oh? Tell me more?”
“About a year ago Starsky and I had a bet. We decided to play this game of hide and seek.”
“Hide and seek? Come on… really?”
“I hid and he tried to find me. It was over the weekend. It was just a stupid game. Our egos get the best of us sometimes. I got into disguises and everything. It was kind of fun until I came across Pardee’s girlfriend. We had just missed arresting him a few days before. So, I decided to follow his girlfriend hoping she would lead me to him.”
“And did she?”
“She sure did. But I got sick. REALLY sick!” Hutch raised his eyebrows again.
“Oh no.” Caroline was fully engrossed in Hutch’s story. She felt like a child being read to by a parent. “Sick with what?”
“You’re not going to believe it.”
“Well, I’ve believed all of your other escapades, why wouldn’t I believe this?”
“Food poisoning kind of botulism?”
“Oh my is right!” Hutch said as if he never wanted to recall that day ever again. “I haven’t eaten soup since.”
“Understandable. Go on.”
“So, I get the girlfriend to take me to Pardee and she does.” Hutch explained using his hands for emphasis. “And, we get there but I’m too sick to even stand and I don’t have Starsky there for back up and…”
“Yes? And then?”
“I totally collapse and he holds me there while his girlfriend goes back to get the money they stole.”
“I know!” Even Hutch was caught up in the saga. “I kept telling Pardee that she wasn’t coming back. And, I was right. She didn’t. So, he decided to split and he got me down to the street and into his car. That’s when Starsky came barreling in and arrested Pardee and saved me… again.”
“You two live quite the exciting life.” Caroline said shaking her head.
“Anyway, his trial finally came up last week and we both testified.”
“Do you think testifying may have triggered Starsky’s breakdown?” Hutch asked hopefully.
“It certainly may have especially seeing as he had just recovered from the shooting and had just returned to work. It all may have been too much too soon.”
“So, what’s next?”
Caroline sighed and regrouped before answering. She took a moment to think.
“The next step is to get David stabilized. Once, he is in a better frame of mind, I will go through the same exercise I just went through with you. If I get matching stories from him, we may be able to get to the bottom of why he broke down. Then we can treat him and get him back to normal.”
“You mean, save him?”
“Yes Hutch. We’ll be the ones to save him this time.”
Starsky sat across from Dr. Filmore in her tiny office. He had been in the hospital for 2 weeks recovering from his episode. He looked worn down: lethargic. He sat solemnly with his legs crossed and his hands resting in his lap.
“How are you feeling today, David?” She asked sweetly.
“Okay, I guess.”
“Do you want to talk about what happened to you a few weeks ago?”
“I suppose. But, I don’t remember much.”
“That’s okay. I’ll help you through it.”
Starsky forced a frail grin. He seemed disinterested and unfocused.
“So tell me about your life as a detective? Can you tell me about any trauma you may have experienced?”
“How much time have you got, doc?”
“That’s funny. That’s exactly what your partner said when I asked him the same question.”
“Well, Hutch and I are like one person so that doesn’t surprise me.”
“He said that too.”
Caroline couldn’t help but chuckle. She had encountered close relationships before but had never gotten two exact answers from two different people before. She found it intriguing and somewhat charming.
“Hutch told me that you just returned to work after being wounded in the line of duty. Can you tell me a bit about that?”
“Not much to tell.” Starsky shrugged casually. “We were targeted. Both of us were. They just happened to get to me first. I don’t remember much about that either. I was in a coma for a few days I know that. They said I went into cardiac arrest too. I only remember waking up from it all and seeing Hutch there in the room. He looked shocked.” Starsky smirked. “Then it took me a few weeks to recover enough to go home. I was on sick leave for about 6 months. Hutch took time off too.”
“And how were those six months?”
“Boring as hell.” Starsky blurted. “I couldn’t wait to get back to work.”
“So you enjoy your life as a detective then?”
“I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the right word.” Starsky pondered. “I know that it’s my calling. Always has been. Hutch and I have been on the streets for almost 8 years now. We’ve done a lot of good. We’ve seen it all. Enjoy? No. It’s the life I live. It’s what we were meant to do. It defines us.”
“Tell me about your tenure as a police officer. Tell me about any events that may have led to your breakdown a few weeks ago.”
“There are too many to count, doc.”
“Call me Caroline.”
“There are too many to count, Caroline.” Starsky beamed his electric smile. He seemed more engaged now. More alert. Settled.
“Well, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?”
“Hutch got the plague.” Starsky said with a wince. “That was awful.”
“And botulism too, I hear.”
“Yup. Yes. Botulism too.” He clucked his cheek. “I get a cold and he gets the plague and botulism. He’s always trying to out do me.”
“Can you recall anything else?”
“There was this one time he almost got his hand blown off. Someone booby-trapped his car. He’s been in car crashes and fights. You name it. He’s been through a lot. A LOT!” Starsky stressed with wide eyes.
“But, what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Haven’t you experienced ordeals? Tell me YOUR story.”
“But Hutch’s story is my story.”
“I understand, but there must have been times when you had things happen to you that were unpleasant.”
“Unpleasant.” Starsky replied. “That’s a nice word for it.”
“We’ve made a lot of enemies Caroline. And, because of them Hutch and I have… well, let’s just say we’ve had to deal with a lot of shit.”
“Name just one David.” The doctor said pointedly. “I want you to think about YOUR life. Not Hutch’s. I want you to try and recall something that happened directly to you. Think for a moment and tell me what comes to mind first.”
Starsky stared down at his hands and took a deep breath. He didn’t have to take a moment at all to reveal the most horrific event in his life.
“Terry.” He said pensively.
“Terry? Who’s Terry?”
“I was going to marry her.”
“And, why didn’t you?”
“Because a man who’s son I put in prison decided to terrorize the entire city! Just because I did my job! He killed two police officers because of me and he shot Terry too. He killed her!” Starsky blasted. “There! Is that ‘unpleasant’ enough for you!?”
Starsky’s eyes turned a dark blue. Fury exuded from his being. Caroline could feel the heat. It scared her.
“Oh David. I’m so sorry.”
“Well.” Starsky sighed trying to calm himself. “Losing Terry almost did me in. Hutch got me through it. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”
“He said the same thing about you.”
“Well. It’s true. For both of us.”
“Okay.” Caroline exhaled. “Let’s go back a few weeks before Hutch found you roaming the streets. Does anything stand out to you that may have caused you to become upset or distressed?”
“I remember that night vaguely.” Starsky began.
“Tell me all you can.”
“I had a nightmare. I couldn’t find Hutch. I kept running and going down all these ally ways. They were dead ends. I guess I actually got out of bed, pulled on my jeans and set out to look for him.”
“Can you tell me about what happened that day?”
“Hutch and I had dinner at Huggy’s. We usually do. I remember Hutch getting up from the table. I assumed he was going to the washroom. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but for some reason when he didn’t come back, I started to panic.”
“Where did he go?”
“Well. He did go to the washroom but on his way back to the table he bumped into an old friend and they were just chatting, you know. But, in those few minutes when I didn’t know where he was I got so… anxious. It was funny because at that moment I remember thinking that I’d never felt like that before. I felt helpless. Alone.”
“You were worried that something may have happened to him like it had so many times before.”
Starsky just nodded.
“I understand. What may have happened in the few days leading up to that night? Can you think of anything?”
“Well, we were really busy. I remember that.” Starsky stared at the ceiling trying to recall anything out of the ordinary. “We were called to testify… in…”
“What is it David?”
“Pardee.” He said simply.
“Yes. Go on.”
“The day we testified in his trial I felt really ill. I had to leave the courtroom when Hutch was on the stand. I was actually sick to my stomach.”
“Did you tell Hutch?”
“I’m not sure.” Starsky considered. “I think I was embarrassed.”
“So you left the courtroom. Then what happened?”
“I just waited in the hallway for Hutch. Then we drove to Huggy’s for dinner.”
“And, that is when you had your panic attack.”
“Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“Then the next day we were on a call and it happened again.”
“We were chasing down 2 perps and we got separated. I ran after one and Hutch ran after the other. I caught up to my guy and arrested him. I got him back to the car and put him in the back seat. Then I started looking around for Hutch, but I couldn’t see him. I circled the block and I couldn’t find him. And, I got that weird feeling again. That feeling of panic.”
“Are you afraid that Hutch will leave you? That he might die? That these horrible things that keep happening just won’t end?” Caroline stated frankly.
There was a long pause. Starsky stared into the doctor’s eyes as his filled with tears.
“I think so.” His voice trembled.
“Yes?” He sniffed.
“I want to you to listen to me okay?”
Starsky nodded again unable to speak.
“What you’re feeling is a fear of abandonment. Hutch is the most important person in your life. Your past has been wrought with horribly violent and traumatic events. What happened a few weeks ago was your body and mind telling you to deal with everything that has happened to both of you. It was screaming at you to stop all this madness. Those few times you felt panic were triggers – at Huggy’s, in the courtroom, and on the street chasing down those thugs. It has all manifested into a few blown breakdown. Your sub-conscious simply said enough! It shut you down. It had no choice. The shooting, the trial and all the things you and Hutch have had to endure have taken its toll, David. But, now that you have confronted it and recognized it, we can help you cope. You will get better.”
Starsky was sobbing now. He let everything go. It all just flowed out of him like lava from a volcano. Caroline rose from her chair, circled around her desk and knelt in front of Starsky. She placed her hands gently on his knees.
“Look at me.” She said.
Starsky battled to regain control. He wiped his nose and eyes with the sleeve of his shirt.
“We will fix this.”
“Can you?” He replied now gulping uncontrollable.
“Yes. I know how to help you now. The hard part is over.”
“Yes David. It is.”
“It’s your move.”
“I know, I know.” Hutch said impatiently.
“Well. You were the one that wanted to play this dumb game so hurry up would’ja? MOVE!”
“It’s not a dumb game. It’s Stratego. You know strategy? These things take time. I have to analyze the board. I can’t just make a move without planning it all out.”
“Yeah well, I can feel my beard growing. I ain’t getting any younger.”
“Okay fine.” Hutch huffed as he made his move.
“I knew you were going to do that.” Starsky mumbled.
“Oh yeah? How did you know?”
“Because. I know you better than you know yourself… and…”
“And… thank you.”
Hutch was taken aback by Starsky’s statement. It literally came out of the blue.
“Thank you? For what?”
“Well, these last few months haven’t been easy. I know I’ve been… difficult.”
“Starsky. You’ve been recovering from a major mental breakdown. I just want you to get better, get back to work and be happy. That’s all. You can be as difficult as you want it won’t make any difference.” Hutch described. “I’m afraid you’re stuck with me. There’s no way out now. Til death do us part buddy.”
“I bought you a present.” Starsky announced.
“You did? Awww. You didn’t have to do that, Starsk.”
“I know. I wanted to.”
Starsky got up from his chair at Hutch’s kitchen table. He sauntered through the living room and opened the door into the outside hallway landing. He grabbed the massive package he left there when he arrived that evening. The box was almost as big as he was and wrapped in silver paper. Starsky walked back to his pal and handed it to him.
“Wow!” Hutch said with the widest smile he could muster. “What is this? It’s big!”
“I wanted to thank you for all your help in the last few months. I couldn’t have done it without you. And, I feel great and I got the all clear from Dr. Filmore today to go back to work!”
“That’s great! You would do the same for me. You really didn’t have to buy me anything.”
“Yes I would. And yes I did.” Starsky replied as he stood beside his friend. “Open it.”
Hutch rose from his seated position to get better leverage at tearing the package open. He beamed with anticipation. Hutch exposed a plain brown box with no markings on it. Hutch placed it on the table and lifted the lid. When he realized what the gift was, he got all misty.
“Starsky. This is too much. How…”
“Nothing is too much for my buddy.” He said placing his arm around Hutch’s shoulder.
Hutch pulled the guitar from its case. He wanted to hug it but instead placed it gingerly on the sofa. He walked over to Starsky and embraced him so tightly Starsky had to tell him to stop.
“Thank you.” Hutch said still fighting to control his emotion.
“Well, I knew you could never afford to replace that one that Diana broke. And, you’ve been making due with that pawn shop piece of junk.”
“It’s beautiful. I’ll treasure it. Thank you.”
“I’m glad you like.”
Hutch couldn’t wait to give it a try so he sat on the sofa, gave his new baby a proper tuning and started playing. The sound was so pure. It was heavenly. It had been so long since Starsky felt this much happiness. His future was bright. He had it all. He had found himself again.
“Can I ask you a favour?”
“Well, I know you want to play with your new toy and everything. But,..
“Can we get back to work?”
“What? Do you miss Captain Dobey?”
“I do. I REALLY do.