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Unbereft

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Hutch sits in the drips of coloured light that rain on him from the high stained glass windows at the front of the church.

It’s evening, and he thinks about Jeannie, about Starsky, about himself, about Monk, and about the other man. He thinks about lives ruined, about the glass above him shattering and scarring every inch of him as the sharp little pieces fall, piercing his skin with their odd, comforting, scintillating heat. He thinks of the glory that was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. He thinks of his place, such as it is, in the world, and of what it would mean to relinquish it. Starsky would call it defeatist, probably, but Hutch doesn’t think so. Giving up – no, giving in, giving oneself up – surrendering oneself – isn’t always the same as failure, or defeat. It just depends, Hutch supposes, on what one considers a worthy thing to surrender to.

He stares at the shapes in the glass and wills himself to see God. To see divinity. It’s easier to imagine, in the sunlight, even after everything. It’s easier to believe that this is enough to live by, unbereft of a higher power, unbereft of innocence, of beauty and burning light. He is still scalded by the sermons of his childhood, scalded anew by – something else.

Something rouses him from his thoughts, perhaps an inner shift, and he looks around him. A wild mood takes him, a drive to confess, but there’s nobody to give his confession to. His eyes slide back to the fractured shapes of the window.

“I hope you’re listening,” he says to the shapes, chuckling, a little cynically maybe, at his own need to be heard.

He rises from the pew and heads for the door, but when he gets there, he turns, hand on the sun-warmed wood of the doorframe. He can barely raise his eyes to the cross that he’s been avoiding looking at, but he chances a quick glance at it before he leaves. It’s a meagre genuflection, an averting of the eyes, before he steps out, retrieves his gun from where he stowed it behind the umbrella stand in the church porch – not without, not now – and begins the walk home, in a world, scintillating yet, of stained-glass colours and holy warmth.