The Second Note
Hutch found the note and in the next room, Starsky moaned.
Hutch flinched at the sound of his partner, coming from his bedroom. His voice, so unlike him, sounding raw and scared. His friend was in bed, sleeping restlessly, tossing and turning as he was still not completely healed from the nausea and the dizziness. Hutch had taken him home and taken Starsky's couch. Not one second was he going to lose his friend out of sight – it was important that he’d read Starsky’s needs, the things that made him confused and frightened, and sick.
Because he was still very quickly off balance since - or maybe even though - he was released. He’d trip, sway or lose focus if he turned too quickly, if he got up too fast, if he did anything that disturbed the very precarious balance he’d finally regained.
Apart from that, there was something else going on. Starsky refused to talk. He tried to for a while, but soon, like an oyster, he shut himself out of the world of the speaking. Hutch’s mind went back to earlier that week.
He typed on his typewriter.
“Why don’t you talk, Starsk?”
“I don’t like it,” his friend answered on the same sheet of paper.
“There’s nothing wrong with your speech.”
“I don’t want to talk,” Starsky typed stubbornly and then stood up and left Hutch sitting at the table. He demonstratively took a book from one of the shelves and sat down on the couch, pretending to read but he leafed through it uninterestedly.
Hutch stood up, with a deep sigh. He walked over to Starsky and touched his arm. “You wanna go outside?”
Starsky understood what Hutch meant – thank God for years of close cooperation. They needed little words.
“Drive the Tomato?” Hutch suggested, meeting his friend’s blue, defensive gaze.
Starsky blinked once, slowly. The idea seemed to appeal him. He stood up and nodded, then walked to the cupboard to get his coat. He turned to face Hutch, a flicker of the old Starsky impatience shining in his eyes. It made Hutch grin. He nodded.
“Okay, okay. Hang on.”
Starsky was outside before Hutch even had his coat on. With a pleased look on his face he let his hands slide over the red roof of the car, then he opened the door and slid behind the wheel.
“Move over,” Hutch said as he reached the car door on the driver’s side. He gestured to his friend to take the other side.
Starsky shook his head. No way, it said.
“Starsk, you can’t drive just yet.” Hutch tried to force the curly man to look at him, but stubbornly Starsky pulled his arm from Hutch’s hand.
“Starsk!” The blond tried to put his hand on his partner’s shoulder, but he flinched suddenly and then burst out in a cry that hit Hutch in the gut.
“NO! Lemmeee gooo!”
Before Hutch could interfere, Starsky hit the gas and sped off, leaving a white whirling cloud of burning rubber behind. He pulled the door shut as he drove away, with Hutch shouting and waving worriedly on the streets.
“Starsky! Fool! Come back!”
What am I standing here shouting at him? He wouldn’t hear me even if he could!
He ran to his own car, the old tattered LTD that was parked outside his apartment and drove to follow Starsky as quickly as he could. It wasn’t too hard to spot him. On one of the long roads he saw the red stripe flash in the distance. Starsky had a very fast car, and Hutch knew all too well he wouldn’t be able to gain on him. If not gaining, he would at least try to keep up with him, see where he was going to.
Starsky, you idiot. You can’t hear! How the hell are you going to pick up anything in traffic? Don’t do this, partner. It’s too risky. And you’re not well yet. You’re still far too easily shaken. Jumpy.
While his mind went over dozens of variations on the same theme, he drove on autopilot. He lost him from his sight when the road bent and he met with a cross roads. Just as he was about to call the station, he caught glimpse of the red car on his left and it made him swallow. The Torino spun wildly, going bezerk on the dusty road that led east.
The car seemed out of control and catapulted off the road, into the corn fields that were all around. The high crop embraced the red car, absorbing the colour in its green.
Hutch was there in no time. He jumped out of his car and ran toward the Torino. The door to the driver’s side was open and Starsky hung out, throwing up, shaking, pale as a sheet.
Exhaustedly the dark haired man pulled himself back to his seat, panting and perspiring, his eyes closed.
Hutch crouched down next to him, and cupped Starsky’s face.
“Open your eyes, Starsky. Look at me.” It was strange but despite the fact that Hutch knew Starsky couldn’t hear him, he kept talking. Maybe it was for his own peace of mind, he didn’t know and frankly he didn’t care. Not talking to Starsky equalled pushing him out, didn’t it? Excluding him from his world. And that was ONE thing he wasn't going to let happen.
He put a little pressure on the clammy face. A soft whine bubbled up. “Sick…” Starsky muttered. He opened his eyes and looked at Hutch with an emptiness that betrayed a big black hole. Nothing could escape from it – it absorbed Starsky’s lust for life, his energy.
Hutch helped him from the car and moved him to the passenger’s seat. He looked wan and was obviously very dizzy again, because he swayed from left to right. Hutch eased him down, and made his friend look at him.
“Home. I’m gonna take you home. Okay?” He spoke slowly and articulated clearly. Starsky just nodded. He got the message.
In silence Hutch carefully drove home. Next to him, Starsky sat motionless, trying to keep his breath under control whenever another spell threatened to overwhelm him again. Hutch threw a few sideway glances every now and then, ready to pull over if things got too bad for his friend, but they made it home in one go.
Leaning heavily on Hutch, Starsky feebly took the stairs and let himself be guided to the bedroom. He fell onto the bed, kicked off his shoes and curled to his side, back to Hutch. By now, Hutch had come to recognise that. It was a sense of defeat that seeped through.
How can I help you, buddy? How can I offer you some comfort?
He sat next to Starsky on the bed and softly rubbed his back. Go to sleep, Starsk. Sleep, I will keep an eye on things. An ear on things.
With a sigh, Hutch was back in the present. Starsky hadn’t been that keen on driving anymore. He had only grown more quiet, more tired and more to himself. The things he did say, where just written down on scraps of paper, that he left here and there. But other than that, he did no effort to communicate. Too lost in his own, silent, devastated world.
His frustration was painfully visible.
To the Third Note