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It had only been about two weeks since I brought him home from the hospital. He's doing much better now, since the shooting occurred a few months ago. God, I still cringe when that awful scene plays back in my head. And, yes, it still does. I still have nightmares about it, and wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Oh, I don't let Starsk know about it. Thank God, he's still zonked out on pain medication and doesn't wake to hear me. Maybe the nightmares will lessen by the time his medications aren't as strong.
Anyway, getting back to Starsky, he had stayed up late for the past two nights. By the way, late was ten o'clock for him right now. He has been watching this three-part mini-series on TV, and tonight was the 'finale', so to speak. It had been taking a toll on him, I could tell, but he was enjoying himself, and seeing him happy about something . . . well, I guess I just missed that 'Starsky Smile' that Gunther had so ruthlessly stolen away from him. That 1000-Watt grin that could light up an entire room. It was back. Okay, maybe it was only 800 watts or so right now, but it was there just the same.
Well, he had been talking about this show all day. How he just couldn't wait to find out the ending. It was one of those 'Murder Mysteries', and he couldn't guess who the killer was. Tonight would be the 'unveiling'. I didn't bother to tell my partner that I had figured it out on the first night. I wanted to harass him about it. "Whose the better Detective here, buddy?" But that wouldn't be fair with him not all up to par yet. I decided it wasn't funny, after all.
Eight o'clock came and I had him all propped up on the couch, with pillows all around him and the afghan close by, in case he got chilled. He was content with watching the third, and last part, of his show. I sat there with him, bored with the obvious direction the plot was leading to, and remembered I hadn't finished with the dinner mess in the kitchen. Starsky would kill me if I let his place get in a wreck while I was entrusted into taking care of it, and him. So, I snuck off into the kitchen to finish up. About fifteen minutes later, I was done. I wandered back into the living room, and my heart sank at what I saw. He had been trying so hard to stay awake, but with the mixture of his pain medications, and his body's need to rest, to heal, his head slowly bobbing up and down and then side to side, until it finally came to rest on one of his pillows I had for him. Sleep had waged a war against him, and he had lost the battle. Damn! This just isn't fair. He had been looking so forward to this!
The last thing he needs is something to set him back. Another point scored for James Marshall Gunther! Well, I wasn't going to let that happen! I was not going to sit back and do nothing. He's come too far along in his healing, both mentally and physically, to let anything stand in the way now. Damn, I wished I'd gone ahead and invested in one of those VCR's that are out now, but that's just not in the cards. Let me see, I could just watch it, and tell him how it ends. Knowing Starsk though, he'd want to know what flavor of ice cream Sarah was eating in this very scene. I've got it! I'll take notes. Detailed notes. I'll write it all down. Everything I can muster. It'll be like his very own 'Howard Cosell' commentary. With a little 'Hutchinson Humor' added, of course. Now where is some paper and a pen . . .
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of a very angry outcry, followed by a thud (poor couch arm).
"I'm never gonna be well again. Never gonna be able to do anything again. Can't even stay awake for a lousy movie. Burn in Hell, James Marshall Gunther!"
There was a silence, followed by the sound of rustled paper, and more silence. Then, I heard it. The sound I'd been lying there waiting to hear. Low and quiet, at first, then slowly getting louder. Then finally, it was an outburst of sheer laughter. I got up out of bed, and poked my head out of the doorway, as he was finishing the last page.
He looked up at me with that grin (I'd give it a 900 this time), and said, "Ah, partner, you didn't have to do that."
I walked over and sat down on the couch beside him. "Judging by the vibes on the Richter Scale, I'm glad I did."
He looked back down at the papers, and then back up at me. "Well, I'm glad you did, too, 'Howard Hutchinson'."
I smiled, and he threw a pillow at me.
I got up to go into the kitchen to get some breakfast started, and as I looked back at him, somehow he was looking a little better this morning.
He called out after me, "Hey Hutch. Maybe, after breakfast, we could go for a short walk on the beach."
I gave him an I-don't-think-that-is-such-a-good-idea-just-yet look. And he gave me one of those 'Starsky pout faces'. So, well, I just couldn't tell him 'no'. But, when have I ever been able to? "All right, but just a short one."
He got all bright-eyed and looked back at the TV and just then I thought I'd seen just a peek of that "1000 Watt Grin."