THE CHRISTMAS THAT ALMOST WASN'T
By Jacqueline(c)December 23, 2000
Hutch waited a few more minutes, but the moment was gone. Starsky was as immobile as before again. Still Hutch went over to the nurse's station to report what had happened. He'd even remembered to check his watch the moment Starsky had responded so the nurse who walked back with him to the room, could put down on Starsky's status report that the curly haired detective had had a moment of consciousness at 9.45 PM.
She checked the ECG and the other monitors and deliberated both with her colleagues as well as Dr. Roberts downstairs in the ER on what steps they should take. Since Starsky seemed to have slipped back into his own private world again, it was decided to let things be as they were.
So once again, at 10 PM Hutch was alone in the room with his, once again, still buddy.
He turned toward the window and looked out over the city with all its lights. Some people even had put lights in the trees in their backyards. One had to do something to compromise for a snowless Christmas.
Before he could control it, Hutch found himself weeping soundlessly.
His shoulders moved up and down. His whole body trembled with locked up emotion and stress. The tears flowed like they hadn't for years. All the sadness, worry, fatigue, despair came out in one big wet waterfall.
After what seemed forever there were no more tears. Hutch could cry no more. He wiped his face, found a handkerchief and blew his nose. He continued to look out over the city. He checked his watch and found to his shock that it was 11 PM. He'd been crying for a full hour.
But it had been good, he felt better now, cleansed.
Suddenly the Christmas songs were beginning to irritate him. "It's the most wonderful time of the year" he heard the singer on the tape.
"Yeah, right." he uttered in a sarcastic tone.
"Thissssis nnnnnnnot my bed."
Hutch heard a soft, slurred and croaky voice coming from behind him.
As he turned he could see Starsky lying in the bed, eyes fluttering open and closed again, a puzzled expression on his face.
Before he knew it a few new tears escaped Hutch's eyes.
"Whad'ye do with mmmmmmy bed?"
"Hey buddy, you're back again. God, you're awake."
"I donnn even dink thissssis mmmmy room."
Starsky was still struggling to keep his eyes open for a longer time. The lights in the room bothered him. Though he was talking and seemed to be quite coherent, if slurry, he still was lying perfectly still in his bed, the only movement coming from his mouth and eyes.
Hutch squeezed his buddy's arm.
"Wait a minute, wait a minute, Starsk, I'll be right back."
Hutch didn't want to run the risk he would again be the only witness to Starsky's waking moments so he darted out of the room and notified the nurses that Starsky had woken up, for the second time this evening.
When he returned he could already hear Starsky's croaky voice,
"Where'd ye put mmmmmmmy room?" He sounded charmingly drunk.
The nurses had notified Dr. Ontstein who had to be beeped at a Christmas function. He was on his way back to the hospital.
Meanwhile the nurses turned Starsky back on his back. He looked up at all these ladies fussing over him. Then a sly grin covered his face.
"Thissss isssss nice!"
Hutch watched the tableau and shook his head, grinning widely. Leave it to his best buddy to wake up from a coma and immediately start charming the ladies again.
Finally Starsky moved on his own accord. His left arm sluggishly moved up and his hand caught the sleeve of one of the nurses.
"Where diddddya put mmmmmy room?" he asked, looking like a five-year-old.
"Good evening, Detective Starsky. It's nice to see your eyes open for a change. And what beautiful blue eyes you have!"
Starsky's arm dropped again. He looked up at the nurse but still had trouble focusing.
"Do I know you?"
"Not as well as I've gotten to know you over the past few days!"
Dr. Roberts entered the room.
"Ah, Dr. Roberts, on duty even on Christmas Day?" Hutch greeted the young ER doctor.
"Oh, you don't want to know, Detective Hutchinson. So, your partner finally decided to return to the land of the living for real. Hello Detective Starsky, can you hear me?"
Starsky squinted up at Dr. Roberts, trying to focus. His eyes may still have had trouble working, his mouth sure didn't.
"Whaddare ye nnnnnuts? I ain't deaf. Did you take mmmmmmmy room?"
Hutch couldn't stop grinning. Starsky was back all right.
Dr. Roberts had to chuckle as well. He got out his light and shone it into Starsky's eyes.
"Hey, cudddhat out! Whassamatter with you? That hurtszzzzz."
With a slightly limp hand Starsky tried to knock Dr. Roberts hand away, but his motor skills and his unfocused eyesight made his attempts unsuccessful.
"Detective. Do you know your name?" Dr. Roberts spoke slowly in a clear voice.
"Ssssstaaasssky, Dave Ssstaaaaasssssky." Starsky replied, while he looked at Roberts as if the doctor were an escapee from the loony bin.
"Very good. Do you know what happened?" Dr. Roberts went on.
Hutch watched with anticipation, though he couldn't stop himself from grinning as he already could see the real Starsky surfacing again.
Starsky looked up at Roberts after his latest question, with a blank look.
Now Dr. Roberts was confused.
"Uhm," Dr. Roberts gave Hutch a nervous glance.
Hutch on the other hand could barely contain himself as he was almost 99 percent sure where this conversation was heading.
"Where what?" Roberts tried to get a clue from this extraordinary patient.
"Where did what happen?" came Starsky's return question.
Hutch snorted, Starsky turned to him, still a bit unfocused, Dr. Roberts drew a blank.
Hutch thought he'd help the doctor out since he was the one who knew best how Starsky's brain worked when most others didn't have a clue.
"Starsky, the doctor means if you know what happened to you, do you remember what happened to you?"
"Are you a doctor?" Starsky now asked Hutch.
"No it's me, Starsk. Wait a minute, do you know my name?"
Starsky looked intensely at Hutch, then a smile came over his face.
Now Hutch was embarrassed.
"Yes, but you call me Hutch remember?"
"Yessss I know. You, you are a cop."
"That's right and so are you."
Before Dr. Roberts could ask his next question, Starsky turned to him with an earnest expression on his face.
"Mmmmy car isszzzz rrrrred and he---" he waved his arm sluggishly in Hutch's direction,
"---he don't like rrrred."
Due to Starsky's nature, the otherwise routine examination of a patient after a coma, took much longer for Dr. Roberts to complete than with any other patient he'd had to perform the examination on before.
Hutch just couldn't stop grinning. He loved his crazy partner. Boy, was he ever back.
Even when Ontstein came in, after having been called away from a classy Christmas function, Hutch couldn't stop smiling. To his surprise Ontstein, who'd come across as stern and arrogant before, seemed to take an immediate liking to the still fuzzy but gradually more coherent Starsky.
Still have to meet the first person that you don't charm eventually Starsk, Hutch thought to himself.
After a short talk with Ontstein Hutch went to the phones to bring the good news of Starsky's awakening to both his mother as Jennifer. He kept the conversations short, telling them he would call back longer tomorrow and returned to Starsky's room.
It was 11.50 PM Christmas Day, or rather Christmas Night by now. The two young detectives were alone again in the hospital room. Starsky was getting more and more clear and coherent, even though his short term memory was not quite up to par and he had no memory whatsoever of any event since his kissing scene with Jennifer in the squad room on December 23rd.
Hutch sat in the chair next to Starsky's bed and grabbed his buddy's hand.
"Sso, it'sszzz rrreally Christmaszzzzz Day already?" Starsky asked again, for the fifth time already.
"Yeah buddy, you were out for nearly 3 full days!"
Starsky looked like a little boy lost.
"I sssstill gotta lotta zzzshoppin' to do," he complained.
"Starsky, leave that for next year. In 10 minutes this year's Christmas is over anyway."
Starsky turned to Hutch, looking his Christmassy 5 years old again.
"But, budd --- I didnnnnn't even geddye a gift," he mumbled.
"Oh buddy, you gave me the best Christmas gift in a life time! You came back on Christmas Day!"