The First Note
Hutch found the note on the kitchen table when he came back from the shower.
So he was finally up to getting it explained?
“Sit down, Starsk. I’ll tell you.”
He pointed to the chair that Starsky carefully took, and pushed a sheet of paper in the type writer. Each line that appeared after he brought the sled back was absorbed by the smaller man next to him. He was quiet, sticking to his determination not to talk. Hutch knew it was born out of uncertainty of how it sounded. Even in the proximity of his closest friend, he didn’t want to try it.
“Here you go,” Hutch said when he was done. He pulled the paper from the type writer and handed it to his friend. A curt nod and grateful eyes met his.
A couple of weeks ago...
Hutch sat up carefully. His head was spinning with the sound of the blast that was still echoing inside his skull. He wasn’t feeling well, but he realised they’d crawled through the eye of the needle. The building could have very well collapsed on top of them, burying them dead or alive. He heaved his aching body of the examination table and slightly dizzy he put his clothes back on. He wrinkled his nose as the smell of it touched him – smoke, dirt, cordite, fire… Disgustedly he tried to close himself for it.
“In here, cap,” Hutch replied and coughed.
“You can go home,” Dobey said as he entered.
“I know. I’ve got some instructions here. Let’s pick up Starsk and get the hell out of here. I smell of a camp site fire. Ugh!”
Dobey cleared his throat. “Eum… Hutchinson… Starsky has to stay.”
Hutch checked in his movements. His hands hung in the air as he buttoned up his shirt, the act forgotten. “He has to stay?”
“What’s wrong with him?” The blond man felt his heart being squeezed. He would never ever get used to it, to the second he was told something was wrong with Starsky. It always made him feel sick with concern.
“He’s still… deafened… by the explosion,” Dobey answered slowly. He couldn’t fool Hutch, who instantly understand that Dobey wasn’t cautious for nothing.
“There’s something wrong with his hearing,” the captain answered with a sigh. “I don’t know any details, but there’s a reason for the doctors to keep him here a little longer.”
“I want to see him. I can, can I?”
“I guess so. Come on, I’ll come with you.”
Hutch stretched his painful back and winced slightly.
“Painful, Hutchinson?” Dobey barked, but his eyes were warm with worry.
“Nah, it’s not that bad. Just sore, that’s all. Let’s go see Starsky.” Although Hutch tried to sound casual, it was just an act and he knew that Dobey knew.
“Starsk?” Hutch’s voice was soft, ever so careful, not to startle his friend. The dark man, looking rather crumpled like he himself did right now, was lying on his side in a hospital bed. He was sound asleep, unaware of visitors in his room. The blanket that covered him was pulled up almost to his chin and he seemed to be sleeping fairly peacefully.
“He’s asleep,” Dobey said, stating the obvious. “Let’s not awake him, Hutch. He needs the rest and so do you.”
“I’ll stay here.” Hutch looked around for a chair.
“No, you’re not,” Dobey said sharply. “You’re going home and that’s an order.”
“No ‘but’, Hutchinson. You’re going home. You’re doing what I’m telling you. Starsky is not in any life danger so you’re not going to sit here pretend he is. He needs to sleep and so do you. You’re going home.”
“But Capt’n, I—“
“Not one word, Hutchinson.” The captain was clear and his words left no room for misunderstanding. He took Hutch’s elbow.
The blond touched his friend’s hair affectionately. “Don’t go anywhere, Starsk. I’ll be back after I’ve given this grumpy old bear what he wants.”
Dobey grunted something illegible and guided him out of the room.
Starsky scribbled a few words.
Hutch nodded. "Let me finish," he said slowly and made sure Starsky could see his face properly. The dark haired man nodded slowly. He put a new sheet in the typewriter and continued.
Starsky woke up, feeling sore, sick and as if his head was filled with cotton balls. He was unbelievably nauseous, as if he was standing on a ship at sea that was caught in a storm. Very carefully he turned to his back, only to feel the contents of his stomach coming up immediately. Frantically he turned to his side, just in time to throw up over the smooth surface of a clean hospital floor. Starsky hung over the side of the bed, his sweaty hands holding on to the railing, and he could see the floor spinning. The noise in his head was terrible: whistling, humming and pounding. He closed his eyes quickly and tried to push himself back to a lying position, but he was so dizzy that he felt the bed topple over and he crashed to the ground.
Even then the ground didn’t stop moving. Starsky’s fingers clawed for something to hold onto. Why in God’s name was the world moving the way it did? Again he threw up and again, until only bile could rise and left him with a bitter, foul taste. He wasn’t aware of someone helping him, until soft hands touched him, and another pair of strong hands helped him to his bed.
He was rolled to his side, by the same sturdy, decisive hands. Suddenly he recalled the warehouse. The shooting. Light. Noise. An explosion. What happened? Why didn’t anyone say anything? Where was Hutch? Where were the soothing words, the ones that comforted him, the slender hands that would hold him and reassure him? Where was Hutch?
He tried to open his eyes and again a spell of vertigo hit him. It was as if the bed swayed from left to right. Hoooo ooooh… desperately he tried to cling on to something when suddenly he felt a hand grasping his.
Hutch… he blinked, but it took such a lot of effort to get his eyes open, that he gave up. There was definitely something wrong with him. Something touched his cheek. He recognised a smell, faint but present, between the typical hospital odours which he had understood the strange smells to be. Hutch…
As much as possible, he opened his eyes a little and finally caught a glimpse of his blond partner, looking worried and occupied. He was very close to him and held one of his hands. He caught the gesture of Hutch shoving one his springy curls aside, and talked to him.
But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make out what Hutch said. For some bizarre reason, the sound of his words didn’t reach him. He only saw Hutch’s lips move but there were no words.
Hutch… Hutch… I can’t hear you, buddy. What’s going on?
He shifted in his bed, vaguely aware of other people around him, and was again surprised by a bout of nausea. He retched and threw up, although there was nothing left inside him to throw up. Tiredly he closed his eyes, willing away the wild spinning, and gave in to sleep that quickly embraced him behind the safety of his closed eyelids.
Hutch had looked with growing uneasiness at the non-understanding look in his partner’s barely opened eyes. He talked to him, but even to Hutch’s inexperienced eyes, it was clear Starsky didn’t understand him, didn’t register the words that he said. A flicker of hope sparkled when Starsky brushed against his hand as he pushed an unwilling lock of hair back. Apparently, in the poor state his friend was in, he did notice Hutch around and sought the comfort of the physical touch.
And he WAS in a poor state. He had vomited, fallen out of bed, moaned and groaned and clawed wildly in the air as if to hold on to something. Doctor Beckingsdale, the same physician who had treated Hutch himself, had administered some medication and almost immediately Starsky was succumbed to sleep.
“What’s wrong with him?!” Hutch said loudly. “He was asleep when I left yesterday. Not sick like he is now.”
“Detective, I’ve been told you two are quite close?”
“No. Not in the flesh, anyway. But he’s closer to me than a brother could be. Tell me! What’s wrong with him! Please!” Hutch noticed he’d taken hold of the doctor’s coat, as if to urge him to tell what was going on. A bit embarrassed, he let go of the white sleeve and apologised. “I’m sorry, doc. I’m… he’s my partner. I’m really worried.”
Apparently the doctor found in Hutch’s reaction exactly what he was looking for. He smiled kindly, not at all disturbed by the blond’s outburst. He led him to an office.
“Follow me, Mr Hutchinson. If there’s one thing Detective Starsky needs, it’s a good friend. Someone he’s close to. Someone he trusts.”
“Hell, you make it sound like he’s a nutcase. Not to worry doc, he’s always been like that,” Hutch weakly tried to joke away his own worry and hide his embarrassment about his reaction at the same time. It sounded pathetic.
The Doctor smiled a sympathetic smile and gestured his guest to take a seat.
“David is suffering from a state that can be compared with a severe concussion; only not in the brain, but in his ears. You must know that the brain is lying comfortably in a basin of fluids, right? And you must know that when suffering a concussion, these fluids are imbalanced, for example due to an accident, a blow to the head or high fever.”
Hutch nodded, so far it was understandable.
“When the fluids that are present in the tiny organs of our inner ears are disturbed, a similar phenomenon appears. A patient suffers from severe dizziness, nausea, disorientation, severe physical imbalance and a general feeling of malaise. Basically, you can compare it to a concussion. These fluids are responsible for especially our delicate sense of balance. Motion sickness is caused by the same imbalance. The feeling can be so strong that a patient experiences a bed to move, for example. Such a sensation resulted in your partner tumbling out of bed, as just happened. The patient is completely out of balance and to him the world is out of control. Unfortunately and on top of this, partial or complete deafness is an unavoidable complication.”
Hutch shook his head. It was hard to grasp. “Is this… ailment a permanent state…?” He hardly dared asking.
“No,” the Doctor replied, quite a lot of certainty in his words. “Once the fluids in his inner ears have come to rest, the balance will come back and the dizziness and the nausea will pass. I’m quite certain this is a result of the blast and the air pressure during the explosion and I have good hopes that he’ll recover well.”
“And his hearing?”
The Doctor considered his answer for a moment. “I can’t tell. Not at this moment. We can run tests after a while, when he’s less dizzy and nauseous. I’m certain you will understand that as long as he’s still hearing whistling and wheezing, there’s very little point in doing audio tests.”
"And hearing aids?"
"Too early to say."
“So… how can I help?” Hutch said, slowly absorbing the information. The Doctor smiled, recognising the need in the blond opposite of him, to help his friend in any way he could.
“Let’s work on a plan,” he said.
"That's it," Hutch typed on a new piece of paper. "And I'm here, so I can help you."
Starsky nodded. He didn't say a word. He stood up, went to his bedroom and closed the door behind him.
to the Second Note