The Card - The Best Birthday Present
Hutch walked into the squad room early that morning, grateful for the rare moment of peace and quiet. He had come in extra early because of a very important assignment scheduled for later that afternoon. There were still reports to finish and files to complete. Hutch knew if they weren't done, Dobey would be quite vocal about it.
Hutch walked to the coffee maker and switched it on, thinking over what happened yesterday…his birthday.
He’d spent the day just as he had every other day (and most nights) since May, hanging round the hospital, watching, praying and hoping for the miracle of life to win over the curse of death.
Starsky, with Dobey and Huggy as co-conspirators, had surprised him with a little party. The entire Dobey family appeared with Rosie crawling into Hutch's lap and handing him a card made by her own special hands. Cal, being too grown up to make cards, offered Hutch a brisk handshake as his birthday wish. A handshake that Hutch proudly returned.
Then, of course, before things got too soapy, Starsky asked for cake and ice cream. On cue, Huggy brought in a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream ready to be devoured by the party goers. Rosie helped Hutch blow out the candles and everyone cheered the birthday boy.
At some point in the festivities, Hutch looked at Starsky and saw fatigue creeping into his eyes. He knew it was time to wrap the party up and get Starsky settled for the night.
"Wait Hutch," Starsky said. He saw the look in Hutch's face and knew what his mother henning partner was getting ready to do.
"C'mere blondie," he said gently to his best friend. "I still gotta give you my birthday present, ya know."
Starsky handed Hutch a large manila envelope which he had managed to hide under his covers. "Open it," Starsky motioned with his head, "I think you are gonna like what it says."
Hutch looked at Starsky with wariness. He leaned down toward Starsky and whispered in his ear, "Umm, Starsk, I can open this with Edith and the kids in here, can't I?" Hutch was remembering a few things Starsky had shown him that were, for sure, suitable for guys only.
"Aww Hutch! Gimme a break!" Starsky said with laughter. "I know bettern' that." "Besides," he mimicked Hutch’s whisper, "got somethin' like that planned for later." He laid back on the pillow with a wink and a rascally grin.
"Go on, Hutch, open it up. It ain't gonna bite ya," Starsky said as he stifled a yawn.
Hutch opened the envelope and immediately recognized part of Starsky's medical chart. He was already so familiar with this chart, like a book with never ending chapters. Reading it was practically the first thing Hutch did every time he came to visit Starsky.
The usual notations were there: BP steady, pain manageable, patient alert, patient to be discharged the next day, heart rate strong, and wounds healing correctly. All Hutch had read before, all he had prayed would…wait…what?!
Hutch quickly reread the file, then he read it again and even a third time, just to be absolutely sure he was reading it right. His hands shook slightly, tears filled his eyes and he looked at Starsky with a smile bright enough to light the darkest way. "Happy Birthday, Hutch. I'm going home buddy, I'm going home. We made it partner, we made it." Starsky said with a smile to match Hutch's.
Hutch was still smiling the next morning as he poured the coffee. Starsky was coming home. That was his afternoon assignment, his best assignment ever.
But first, reports and files. He sat down at his desk, throwing his long lanky legs over the chair opening the top folder. On top of the stack of folders he found an envelope with his name on it.
Inside the envelope was a birthday card; the front showing the picture of a father with his arms around his son. Opening the card he read:
Not All Sons are Real Sons
But They are Just as Important and Just as Loved
Then a handwritten note:
Hutch, I am so happy for you that Starsky is coming home today. It's the answer to so many prayers.
I also wanted to say how proud I am of you, son. Not just because of what you've done for Starsky, but because of the man that you are.
I love you Hutch, as if you were my own son. I love you.
Now, go get your partner, the files can wait.
Happy Birthday Son!
Hutch smiled, wiping the tears from his eyes. He grabbed his coat, gently placing the card in his pocket and left. His partner, his best friend, his brother was alive and coming home… the best birthday present ever.