Actions Speak Louder than Words
Starsky sighed heavily and collapsed onto the couch, admitting defeat although he didn’t really want to. It was the Monday before Christmas and it looked like Scrooge himself lived here in his apartment. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible to string lights one-handed. He had tried and tried again but with no success.
He was worn out already just from the effort of putting his Christmas Tree together. Maybe his back would be healed enough for him to actually hang the decorations on the tree before Christmas Eve. If not, it looked like he’d be asking Hutch to do it before they strung the popcorn, which was still their favourite Christmas Eve Tradition. Starsky had lots of popcorn ready to pop because quite a lot of the popcorn never made it onto the strings let alone the tree.
“Oh man, Hutch will probably have to do the stringing too,” Starsky thought with frustration.
That was another job he couldn’t do one handed. He was still getting excruciating pain in his back every time he made the mistake of lifting his arm more than a couple of inches in the air. Maybe he could hold the string with one hand and keep it still and let his other arm do all the work? Maybe. Being shot sure wasn’t much fun, he decided ruefully. Especially round Christmas.
Thank goodness he’d bought his presents last weekend for Ma and Nicky. It was lucky too that he’d posted them on the way into work last Monday. Standing in a line at the Post Office was the last thing he felt like doing at the moment. Standing anywhere for even a little time just seemed totally beyond his current capabilities.
He felt a momentary panic at his physical weakness but then reminded himself that he’d only got out of the hospital the day before and the doctors had signed him off for two weeks. The wound to his head had been nothing; just a little crease that was already healing over. However, the wound to his back had been much more serious. If Hutch hadn’t taken such good care of him, things might have been very different.
He grunted as he changed position on the couch and tried to get comfortable. Maybe he’d take a nap and then try to hang a few decorations. He had to have at least a few up or it would be a pretty rotten Christmas. Hutch had been good enough to drag the boxes of decorations out of the cupboard Starsky stored them in before he’d hurried off to work this morning.
It had been kind, but not unexpected, of Hutch to drop by on his way into work and check he was doing okay. His usually healthy-eating partner had even brought him some pastries for his breakfast. For all his moaning about what Starsky ate, Hutch was never slow to drop off a treat when his partner was poorly or injured and needed a little TLC.
Starsky rolled onto his side and felt a sharp flash of pain. He took a deep breath and rode it out. When it passed, he closed his eyes and thought about taking a nap. Deciding that the couch was too uncomfortable, he struggled up and went through to his bedroom. With a lot of effort, he piled up the pillows behind him so he could keep his back supported and finally got comfortable.
Maybe Hutch wouldn’t mind helping him with some of his decorations tomorrow. Trouble was Hutch liked to keep things simple. A nativity set and a candle or two, maybe a wreath; that was his idea of decorating. Starsky, on the other hand, liked to go to the whole hog. As Starsky drifted off to sleep, he thought sadly that it looked like it was going to be a year of only the most minimal decorations.
Starsky came to, from a dream in which he had been too late to stop the Grinch from stuffing all of his Christmas decorations into a sack and running off with them, and saw that it was dark outside. He’d been asleep for longer than he’d meant to be. He looked at his bedside clock and realised with surprise that it was getting on for eight. He’d been out of it for hours and had definitely missed Hutch, if he’d popped by on his way home. Carefully, he swung his legs off the bed and tried to stand without jolting his back. As he went towards the door, he realised there was a soft glow coming from the living room. He reckoned Hutch must have called in and left a lamp on.
He’d almost taken two steps towards the kitchen before he came to an abrupt halt and started looking around with deepening surprise. The gentle glow was coming from strings of lights hung above his breakfast bar, around the living room wall and even covering his Christmas tree.
His favourite ornament of last year, the standing Santa carrying his sack over one shoulder, was in pride of place on the top of a counter. On the coffee table, his collection of plastic holly and red berries was draped around a huge candle that he’d never seen before. All the little card and paper ornaments that his mother had given him so long ago were tacked to every wooden frame around a window or door. His tree, already decked with its pretty lights, was also covered with some of Starsky’s ornaments but with just enough room left for popcorn strings to be added.
Wiping a tear from his eye, Starsky went to make himself a hot drink in the kitchen and spotted a note covered with Hutch’s neatest writing. It said:
Sorry you’re still in so much pain from your back. When you wake up, give me a call if you’re up to it and you can tell me which decorations I’ve put in the wrong place. I know you like it just so. I can make it just the way you want it after work tomorrow.
Hope you’ll be awake around eight in the morning. I’ll be popping by with cinnamon rolls.
Shaking his head at Hutch’s assumption that he would be anything less than overjoyed at all the effort he had gone to for his partner, Starsky picked up the phone. His partner answered after two rings.
“Hutch, thank you. I like the candle. It looks great with my holly. Everything you’ve done is perfect.”
“You’re welcome. You need anything moving around, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“It’s all perfect just as it is,” Starsky repeated. “I’m sorry I missed ya. I must have been out of it.”
“Yeah, you were snoring pretty loud when I arrived. How’s your back?”
“And how are you?”
“I know, partner, but you’ve just got to be patient. Think of the advantages: you can watch all the Christmas movies you want in the run up to Christmas.”
Starsky snorted. “That’s true.”
“And Edith is insisting that we both come round for dinner on Christmas Day because she says you’re not up to cooking. Of course, I could do the cooking but she seems to be ignoring that little fact. Your being injured does have its advantages."
Starsky snorted again. “Glad I’m being useful!”
He heard Hutch laughing.
“See you in the morning, Blintz. I’m looking forward to those cinnamon rolls you promised me.”
“I don’t know why I encourage your bad eating habits. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a hard luck story…Get a good night’s rest, Starsk. See you in the morning.”
“See ya. Thanks again, buddy.”
As he put down the phone, Starsky smiled to himself. He counted himself very lucky to have such a caring best friend. One who not only worried about his physical condition but did his best to take into account the things that made him happy. As he looked around his apartment, he decided he felt much more positive than he had this afternoon and that was because Hutch had made sure that his Christmas-loving partner was surrounded by the little things that reminded him of childhood and made it feel like the festive season was well and truly underway. He felt his spirits lift and suddenly getting well didn’t seem such an insurmountable task. Maybe Hutch had sprinkled a little Christmas magic around the apartment along with the decorations.