I looked at Starsky, whose colour changed as if all blood had drained from his face in a few seconds. The young, attractive officer who shook our hands as we were introduced outside the newly painted gym, could not have imagined what effect she would have on my partner.
Starskys eyes seemed to lose focus. It was as if the world around him had stopped turning and he stood in a vacuum. He held her hand tight in his and I could see the knuckles turning white as he squeezed unintended, but considerably harder than he would normally do.
Hya David. Hey...... aaow... youre hurting me... She pulled her hand with visible effort from his and snarled accusingly, HEY?!
Starsk... I said softly, knowing what was going on in that mind of his.
The female officer had lost her smile, sensing something wrong. She rubbed her hand.
Starsky... I tried again but to my partner the present was a different place. His mind was thrown back in the history of his vision, Pandoras box that had been closed and now seemed to have opened up again.
Sorry, I mumbled an apology to the woman. She wasnt angry
or anything but clearly unpleasantly surprised by my partners reaction
and asked, Is
I put my hand on Starskys arm and squeezed softly, once. Under my hands
I felt his tensed body going lax and I was only just in time to support him
before his buckling knees would not longer keep him standing up. It was as if this near-faint brought him back to reality. The glassy look disappeared
and was taken over by a slight touch of embarrassment.
Hey buddy. Come on. Lets get you some fresh air.
No, he said, swallowing. its okay. He caught my glance. Its okay, Hutch, really. Ive got it under control.
He turned to the woman wed just met.
Sorry I scared you, he said with a smile and only if you knew him as closely as I do, youd pick up the strain that was still in his words and the shoulders that were still tense. Must have inhaled too much paint odours in the locker rooms. Think its gotten to my head.
She smiled cautiously, not knowing what to make of it. Yeah, she nodded finally, you can get a nasty headache from it. Itll be less if you eat something, make sure your stomach isnt empty.
Starsky smiled, acknowledgingly, and turned to me. I saw the pleading look in his eyes. Lets get the hell out of here, Hutch. Please.
You heard the lady, I said, adding a touch of decisiveness to my voice. You should eat something. I bet you skipped breakfast, ey? Hopefully she wouldnt notice the easy lies we bombed her with.
Yeah, my partner said weakly. See ya round, he said to the woman, smiling with to me at least- obvious effort.
Bye David. Take it easy, you hear? She flashed me a warning, concernedsmile. See you, Hutch.
Goodbye Terry and welcome aboard.
I put my hand on my friends shoulder as I led him outside. He was as
stiff as a board and swallowed with difficulty. Once out of sight, he wiped
forehead with his sleeve. His fingers trembled.
That was tough, wasnt it?
Starsky didnt answer.
I HAD to say it. I had to say her name. He would have to get used to it.
There were more women in the world who went by the name of Terry. One day, he would be able to hear that name without flinching. Only a smile, one of distant but cherished warm memories would colour his face.
But not now. Not today.
Not while the Terry he knew, represented the only Terry in the world.
Come on, Starsk, I said softly. Shifts nearly over anyway. Youre going home.
His quiet nod told me more than words could say.
Elsa, June 2004