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...you believe it, Starsky?”

Hey, that's Hutch. He's here. And hearin' real words, not mumbo-jumbo. And sentences. Must be getting better.

James Marshall Gunther is behind the attempts on our lives, I just know it. I can feel it my bones.”

Gunther? That tycoon? So oily nothing but money sticks to him. Why'd he want me and Hutch dead? Attempts? More than one? Hey, almost thinking in complete sentences. Definitely gettin' better. Brain ain't scrambled eggs no more.

A silence stretched so long that Starsky thought Hutch had left. Or he had blinked out for some time.

Stay awake, Davey. Gotta help Hutch solve this. Do my part.

Starsky sniffed the air. Shuddering in disgust at something rammed up one of his nostrils, he was relieved that it hadn't bothered his sense of smell, because he detected the uniqueness that was Hutch. He tried to speak, but his lips wouldn't cooperate. He tried to move, but his limbs didn't respond.

Oh, fuck! Am I paralyzed? No, no, can't be.

He took a few purposeful breaths—something Hutch had taught him—and the panic meter going off in his body fell to near zero. Finally he started to recognize the influence of lots of drugs, of cavernous fatigue like no other, even worse than Bellamy's poison.

Okay, just doped to the gills. Why so tired? Did I get shot? Is Hutch okay? Hutch, tell me you're okay!

I don't know what to do, Starsk. I'm pushing the odds.”

He sounds okay, thank God, just down. Now, where do we go from here?

Suddenly, Starsky knew, as sure as he knew his name.

Hey, Hutch, got an idea about how to nail this Gunther whippo. Maybe I can move my nose, get your attention. Noz, do your thing.

When the nose twitched on command, Starsky laughed but knew no one, including himself, could hear it.

C'mon, Hutch, look at me. Can you hear me? People're always saying we talk without words. Prove 'em right, partner.

I don't know what to do.”

I do, so shuddup and listen. Hear what I'm about to tell ya.

I mean, what if? What if. Oh, man, what am I talkin' about?”

Hell if I know. Hear me, buddy: McClellan and Clayburn. They gotta have ties to Gunther. We'd've found 'em if we'd kept looking.

What am I talkin' about?”

Hutch, get outta your damn head and pay attention to what I'm saying!

He forced his eyes open, astounded at how much power it took to perform such a simple action. Everything was blurry and for a moment, he thought his vision would never clear. Then it did. And the first thing he saw was Hutch, and he knew he was going to be all right because Hutch was all right.

My big, blond beauty! God, it's terrific to see you! Now stop with all the dancing and hugging with that nurse and listen to me! Dig deeper into McClellan and Clayburn!

Starsky, abruptly drained of all energy, felt his brain shutting down, but in sleep this time. He was nearing oblivion when he felt a kiss on his forehead accompanied by an enthusiastic, “Mmmm-wha!” followed by Hutch whispering in his ear, “I heard you, babe. You are brilliant.”

'Bout time you realized it. Go get 'im, partner.

ooOOoo

At first, when Hutchinson had told him Starsky had given him a direction for the investigation, Dobey had harrumphed and said, “Do you take me for some kind of fool, Detective? I didn't just get off the pickle boat, you know. Starsky's been in a coma and was only awake for a minute or two, if that. And that nurse didn't hear him talk at all.”

Neither was he surprised when at the press conference following Hutchinson's return from San Francisco with the suspect, Hutch had insisted his severely injured, hospitalized partner had played an integral part in the Gunther investigation.

Now in the quiet of his temporary office after the ravenous reporters, whose appetites for information remained unsated, had disbursed reluctantly and Hutch had run to Starsky's bedside, he had to admit that nothing was impossible when those two were involved.

the end

September 2019