© by Elsa
“Marriot, Brown - get into that den and protect the evidence. No one is allowed close unless they have my permission. Philips, Zakowski – get a bus here and then get all those creeps to jail. Get the officers over there to assist you. Whitey - I wanted a preliminary report on my desk in two hours – then get a courier to the judge. Boone – take a statement from that girl. Hutchinson – take Starsky to see a doctor.”
Dobey was in charge, efficiently running a large group of men and women to their tasks. With Starsky found, Simon could be convicted without endangering the detective any longer. Dobey intended on rounding up the scary sect of Simon’s followers once and for all.
His orders rapidly given and his people put to work, he turned to take a better look at Starsky.
“You alright, Starsky?”
“Sure.” Blue eyes met Dobey’s for a short moment – one in which the Captain recognised the fatigue.
“You heard me, Hutch. Get him to a doctor.”
The blond officer took Starsky’s elbow. “Come on, Starsky. You heard the man.”
“No Hutch. Home. I want these clothes off,” Starsky objected. His voice was matt and calm, to Hutch a clear proof of his partner’s weariness.
“Sure. After that, we’ll have a doctor check you out,” Hutch acknowledged. “Come on. On your feet.”
“They took my shoes.”
“Oh. Yeah – I can see that. Do you want me to find you a pair of shoes?”
“No. I can get to the car like this. What happened to Gail?” the dark-haired man looked around, squinted his eyes against the sun and tried to find the girl that had thrown herself at his feet only minutes earlier.
“I asked Mary Boone to take care of her.” Hutch ushered him to the Torino.
Starsky nodded. “Okay. Mary’s good. That girl was under their influence but she was still not completely won over. Kept asking herself why. That saved my life.” He shuddered lightly at the thought of the blade she’d been holding. “It was a close call, Hutch.”
“Too close,” Hutch agreed. “I’m sorry. I’ve been looking all over for you. You should thank Huggy – he was the one who put it together in the end.”
“Huggy?” Starsky’s eyebrows went up once.
Both men entered the car and Hutch drove off to Starsky’s place. He glanced sideways. There was some kind of scorch burn under one of Starsky’s eyes, rope burns on his wrists and a few bruises here and there. His skin still had a healthy suntan, but his lips were slightly pale and the light in his eyes seemed to be somewhat distant. Hutch noticed his partner suppressing a shiver.
“Are you cold?”
“Yeah. No. Not really. Just tired.”
After a moment of hesitation, Hutch asked, “Do you remember what happened in the court house?”
Slowly, taking his time to think about the answer, Starsky replied, “Hardly. I entered the men’s room. Next thing I recall is being on the floor of a van – my hands were tied. Think they must have whacked me over the head. I said something and then the lights went out again.”
Hutch’s hands clenched the wheel. His knuckles turned white. Bastards, he thought, feeling anger rising now that worry had been replaced by relief, Simon and his bloody commune members. Starsky looked outside and didn’t see Hutch’s anger.
“I came to in that den. Gail, the girl, was trying to clean me up a little. It was very strange, Hutch. All that talk about Simon and his dreams… a regular bunch of wackos. And all that time I heard … Simon… Simon… Simon… I wanted them to shut up.”
He winced suddenly. A grunted moan escaped him, causing Hutch to nearly hit the car in front of him. “What’s wrong?”
Next to him, Starsky took a deep breath and hissed. “Cramp. In my stomach. They put something in the water that I drank.”
“You need a doctor.” Hutch looked around to see if he could turn but Starsky put his hand on the blond’s arm.
“No, Hutch. Home.”
“Home, Hutch.” The weariness, the flatness and the unspoken plea was enough for Hutch to nod, though reluctantly.
“Okay. If you say so.”
“It’s getting better already.”
“It does. You wanna hear the rest?”
“Sure. Go on.”
“Gail put me in a tub and gave me a bath. For the ritual, she said. They left me alone - a lot of the time, actually. Probably because I couldn’t escape: the den was too deep to climb out and there was only one entry and exit. And that seemed to be covered pretty well.” Again, Starsky’s breath checked as a spasm flashed through his body. He rubbed his stomach and continued, “I tried to get out. One of those goons pushed a torch in my face.”
“Hence the scorch.”
“They knocked me out again. Guess I’ve been hit over the head quite a few times. When I woke, I was tied to that cage-like thing and they were preparing themselves to offer me to their god Simon. And then you were there. You know what really drove me nuts?”
“Their chanting – that didn’t stop. Continuously, night and day, hour after hour – Simon, Simon, Simon…”
“Tell me about it,” the blond agreed.
“Did you ever notice how sweet quiet can be?”
Hutch smiled, not answering the rhetorical question.
Though it was not nice to hear what his friend had been through, Hutch was secretly glad he’d been told what had happened. He knew that once Starsky had the mental knots untangled, he’d only have to work on his physique again.
Starsky was not one to talk about his own misery easily. Silent brooding, that was more like him. But now he talked, slowly, a bit slurred, taking in deep breaths of air, while Hutch drove home. About the creepy singing, the distant attitude of the commune members, the cult regulations, the rites, the fire, the bear – everything he had seen and witnessed. The horror in his voice and eyes, the spasms when the cramp hit him, the fatigue in his shoulders, the red rope burns on his wrists… Starsky’s body language filled in the gaps in his gruesome account.
Hutch kept quiet and listened. Sometimes that was the best one could do.
“Here we are, Starsk.” Hutch pulled over, parked the car and the men got out. Starsky, stiff, tired and bare footed, took the stairs with some difficulty. Hutch eyed him, ready to reach out if his friend would tumble, but luckily Starsky showed no signs of collapsing.
Starsky had the robe off even before he was completely inside his apartment. He dropped it to the floor and wordlessly headed for the bathroom.
“Shit,” mumbled Hutch, hand on the doorknob, closing the door behind him while facing Starsky’s back. “Bastards.” The darkening bruises at kidney height, the slashes on his shoulders where most likely sticks or a whip had been used, several burn marks… it made Hutch’s stomach churn.
In the bathroom he could hear the shower being turned on, soon followed by familiar splattering. Hutch grabbed the phone and rang the station. He was patched through to Dobey and told him about Starsky’s injuries and the clear and present evidence of abuse. His superior took the information with a grunt and assured Hutch that the people responsible would face more charges than kidnapping an officer. The Captain urged him to see Starsky to a doctor.
Hutch hung up and picked the robe up from the ground. It carried faint smells of trees, grass, sweat, copper and Starsky’s personal scent. The copper-like touch came from blood, Hutch realised – Starsky’s blood. For a few moments, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He wanted to throw it away more than anything else, save Starsky the hurt of seeing that black bearer of evil in his living room. But it might be used as evidence in court, a silent witness to the torture his partner had been subjected to. Shrugging to get the doom images from his mind, Hutch shoved the robe into a plastic bag and put it down next to the door so he would not forget taking it with him when he left.
“Starsk? Can I get you something? Are you hungry?” Hutch knocked on the bathroom door, which was slightly ajar. Starsky had been under the shower for over twenty minutes now, which was a lot longer than he usually did, as far as Hutch knew. “Starsk?”
There was no answer. Hutch knocked again and pushed the door open a little further. He peeked in. The shower was still running.
Behind the foggy glass of the shower cabin he saw his partner’s figure, crouched down on the enamel sink. Had he passed out? Or… Hutch vaguely remembered Starsky telling him once that he sometimes sat down in the shower when he was tired and just enjoyed sitting under the stream of warm water. He called out, softly.
“Starsk? Are you okay?”
Still no answer. Carefully, feeling like an invader, Hutch opened the shower cabin door, instantly engulfed by steam.
Starsky sat in the corner, relaxed, eyes closed, while the water cascaded down on him. The warmth, soothing and comforting, continuously ran over his hair, his face, his sore and bruised body, his legs, his raw feet… Starsky was asleep.
“Starsky? Hey.” Cautiously not to startle his sleeping friend, Hutch tapped him on the leg. He turned the shower off and grabbed a big towel. “Come on, buddy. You’ll wake up in the morning with a crick in your neck and a headache that’ll make you a grumpy old man. Humour me – don’t sleep here. Enough with the shower.”
The dark-haired man woke up, slightly dazed. Blue eyes glanced dully under wet eyelashes. “… Hutch..?”
“Come on, you big log. Let’s get you to bed.”
“Musta fallen asleep,” Starsky mumbled. He tried to get up, lost his balance on the slippery floor and needed Hutch’s support to stay upright. “You still ‘ere?” he muttered.
“Just checking if you keep your mind on the energy bill,” Hutch answered, a bit too quickly, a bit too forced, trying to sound light. “Here’s a towel and clean underwear. You want a shirt in bed?” Despite his chatty conversational tone Hutch kept a watchful eye as Starsky dried himself off and staggered to bed. He crashed down, pulled the duvet over his bare shoulders and was asleep almost instantly.
About two hours later Hutch carefully pushed the duvet aside and began to tend to the cuts and bruises on Starsky’s back, feet and hands. His partner hadn’t moved since he’d fallen asleep and didn’t respond at all to Hutch’s touch.
The tall man had been worried about his friend’s condition, the deep sleep, the visible and hidden injuries, the poisoned water – too worried to not act. While Starsky was asleep, he called Frank Raisin, a befriended doctor who had prescribed crème for the bruises and a special disinfectant for the deep cuts and gashes. To Hutch’s question about the stomach cramps, the doctor replied he’d order blood works if it bothered Starsky still when he woke up. He promised he’d stop by later that afternoon when he was doing his round.
Hutch applied crème to the bruises and the disinfectant to the gashes, some of which looked raw, red and painful. He hoped the disinfectant did as it promised on the package: does not sting.
“How can you sleep twenty four hours and not wake up once?” Hutch laughed, shaking his head in disbelief. He looked at Starsky who had appeared in the living room in a blue towelling robe, with dishevelled hair, puffed eyes and a particularly sleepy expression in his eyes.
“I slept like a log,” Starsky replied needlessly.
“Oh really? How d’you feel?”
“Okay. I think. I’ve got a headache. A bit.” He ruffled his hair.
“You want to eat something? Have a cup of tea?”
“I don’t know. I’m thirsty.”
“Okay, tea it’ll be then.” Hutch waved Starsky to sit down and as Starsky slightly groggily looked through the mail on the coffee table, he went into the kitchen.
“How’s your stomach? You should still see a doctor, you know,” he said, filling the kettle.
“No, I don’t and stop pampering me. My stomach is okay.” There was a pause and then: “Did you put these gauzes on my hands?”
Hutch grinned. “Yes.”
“See? I don’t need a doctor. You’re all the doctor I need.”
The blond was glad Starsky couldn’t see his face. Frank Raisin had been in, checked Starsky out and taken some blood. All that time Starsky was out of it, unaware of the doctor and Hutch hovering around.
“I think,” the doctor said, “that sleep is now the best way to overcome what happened to him. That, and a listening ear. You did well, Hutch. I’ll check on him tomorrow and I’ll relay the results of the blood work to you, if you like.”
“That would be great, Frank. Thank you. You’re sure about the concussion? I don’t need to wake him up every few hours or so?”
The doctor had smiled amusedly. “And risk Starsky’s mood? No Hutch. If he has nightmares, you can wake him up, but for now, I’d just let him sleep. I bet he didn’t get much the past few days. Neither did you, by the looks of it.”
“I think I AM hungry. You think you could make me a peanut butter jelly sandwich? Make that two.”
“You’re definitely feeling better.”
“That’s why I don’t need a doctor.” There’s was a triumphant touch in Starsky’s voice. “You’re here, aren’t you?”
“I’m not a doctor.”
“No? You could have fooled me. Besides, you make a fine peanut butter jelly sandwich.”
Hutch filled two mugs with tea, made the requested sandwiches and one for himself as well and with the tray in his hands, went back into the room.
Hutch took the chair and opened the book he’d been reading when he was waiting for Starsky to wake up. He eyed his partner, who read a Mad Magazine and chuckled, enjoying the ultra strange humour of the comic. His feet, clad in socks, were on the table. He ate the sandwiches as eagerly as he always did.
Hutch felt a warmth spreading inside. It was like old times.
Nothing to say. Just peace and quiet.
Elsa, November 2004