.. Shaft Of Light
The dim light made the room seemed warm and cozy ... the quietness, yet welcoming, spoke volumes about the loneliness he felt each time he entered into Starsky's Hospital room, however, regardless the pain … he kept going and stayed at his friend's bedside, everyday since that fateful Tuesday morning in May.
Every single long day...
'Hi Hutch!'Starsky's head nurse, Jennifer Murrows, was sitting at his bedside reading a book to him.
'How's he doing?' Hutch asked her while she rose to her feet and gave him a hug.
'About the same. I shaved him, you see? combed his rebel curls, put some parfum also…'a tiny smile.
'Yeah… I… I almost can smell him, looks like he's been here'he said with a tender and sad grin in his face.
'He's here Hutch… I've told you a thousand times, you gotta trust me, he IS here'.
He shuddered. A soft feather floating in the air...
'How come you're so sure, Jenny? I mean, I try, but he's so still, unaware of everything that's happening around him… even me!'The feather meeting the floor... slowly, falling endlessly...
'You should have met him before this... He's always so full of life, so chatty… a motor mouth, he's like a big happy boy…'the memories of those easier and simpler days with Starsky - yet so far away now - were coloring his grey face with the colors of one thousand rainbows.
'Listen Hutch, I've been a nurse for almost 5 years, I've seen lots of patients, not just Dave. You gotta trust me; I know what I'm talking about.'
'Oh Jenny! I wish you're right. I don't know. It's been so hard for me! Almost 20 days! Even the doctors can't figure out why he's still in a coma… and what if...?'Disconnecting his mind trying not to hear his own words...' what if it's true what they say? that maybe he might have suffered some kind of a brain damage during the time he was … because of the time he was…'
'Dead', Jennifer said sternly.
He shuddered again, a ghostly gasp suspended in the air, a missing fraction of a heartbeat… this time. NO!.
'… Yeah, yeah... during the cardiac arrest, back in May…'
Hutch looked at his partner painfully, he gulped, his guts almost expelled out of his body…twisted in pain. He was afraid only at the simple mention of that moment. He moved his right hand, it was so shaky, a trembling hand trying to grasp his buddy… but he couldn't touch.
And now it's June, he thought... for Christ sake!
'What if that happens?'He continued.'What if that's true? And he's suffered brain damage? I'm scared, I… I don't wanna lose him. I need him'.
'But Hutch, have you ever told him? That you need him that much? Have you ever talked to him since the shooting?'
The unexpected question sent shivers than his spine and he babbled, feeling guilty … Did he fail him?
'What, what, what are you saying? I can't do that, he is… He is…I just can't.'
'But you have to! You must do it Hutch, please …He'll listen to you if you do it. He needs you too to come back. If he hears that you're talking to him, then he will be able to make up his mind and choose whether to come back or …'
'No! Don't… don't say that. Please don't say that. I can't even dare to imagine life without him by my side… I… Oh My!' He gasped and broke into a painful sob. She reached him and touched his shoulder in a nice and compassionate way.
Their eyes locked in sorrow ... and in search for the limitless undying hope...
'So talk to him Hutch. Please! touch him. Don't be selfish and take the risk of not being answered once, twice… each time it's necessary. Don't be afraid to let him know that you're waiting for him, that everybody's waiting for him, and that he's so needed. Tell him how much you love him, that you need him that much'suddenly her lovely face softened as she looked at Starsky who seemed at peace...
'I'm sure he'll gonna make it. I can feel it. In here'and she put a hand over her own chest trying to reach her heart.
'He's still healing, Hutch, that's all. He needs more time to get better, to rest and get rid of the pain, the suffering… he is strong and young but he's been put through tremendous damage, his body torn apart… but like you've said before, he's so full of life … his undeniable zest of life ...He's one stubborn warrior, Hutch, we all know that, and nobody goes so far for nothing! I know he's gonna make it... I just know it'She stood still for a second, stopped talking and looked at Starsky one last moment, a tender caress of a glance over his serene and undisturbed face, then looked at Hutch and shared with him the most hopeful glance ever seen in the whole world ... before starting to leave the room…
Hutch sat down by Starsky's side and listened to the words that hadn't yet been said, feeling for the first time since that horrible morning of May the kind of relief he hadn't yet been able to feel. And suddenly he was enveloped in a sort of epiphany, covered by the meaning of Jenny's words, by Jenny's hope. He stared at the still form of his best friend lying limply on the Hospital bed, and it finally dawned on him and without looking at her, asked …
'Jennifer, Do you like him, don't you?'Suddenly Starsky's borrowed crooked smile appeared in all its glory in Hutch's face.
Her hand stopped, grabbing the doorknob, she turned back. She was waiting, she knew he'd know...
'Yeah, I guess I really like him a lot. I usually "fall in love" with all my patients… but Dave's just different, and I, I… I don't know, I think he maybe has some kind of magic, he's…'
'Beautiful'She said bluntly, didn't care to deny. She blushed and Hutch shook his head while grinned a ghost of a smile …
He did it once again, he thought. My partner, the charmer.
The miracle of Love.
Even motionless and stilled on that bed, he still had it. That thing with women.
Jenny, the beautiful had fallen in love with him and Hutch couldn't help but felt so proud of his buddy.
And finally forgetting everything, the shooting, the pain, the blood, the fear, the wait and the uncertainty, looking straight into Starsky's pale face as loudly as he could, he did it...
He said 'Oh Man! You should wake up buddy right away! You did it again tiger, but this time I guess you have outdone yourself prince charming! C'Mon babe, wake up! You'll love this Starsk…'
... and for the first time in almost 20 days Hutch talked to Starsky.
And for the first time in almost 20 days he felt like he was being heard by his pal again, he felt the same mysterious connection they shared, the whole "me and thee" existing again, lingering in the air, falling and staying.
And like countless times before, Hutch felt like they were teasing each other the way it used to be before everything, before "me and thee" collapsed and their own world was shattered into pieces…
So he approached Starsky as nearer as he could and softly said into his ear'You listen to me gordo, you would like to know that The most beautiful and attractive nurse over here, one Jennifer Murrows, says that you're beautiful and magical, all at the same time buddy… and still you didn't dare to open those beautiful blue eyes of yours, nor even talked to her yet? could you imagine what it would be like to her if you decided to resurface? eh? buddy? You can't be so uncouth Starsk! and let her in the dark'
The miracle of love, Jenny thought...
And Hutch felt good. And Jenny. Oh God! Hutch felt so damn good talking to him again, bantering and teasing, even when he wasn't being answered just like Jenny had predicted it could be, but then again, it felt so good doing this just like that. It felt like this thing might have been the right thing to do: to put the bad memories behind, the future and everything else on the mend and ... believe.
'Good Hutch! This is the way. You started talking to him! How does it feel?'gleefully as ever, the pretty blond nurse was looking at Hutch straight into his eyes, expecting...
'I… I, it felt good Jenny, it really felt good!'
Love story and all totally forgotten... she said,'keep on doing this, detective …. and Dave -she put her mouth as closest as she could over Starsky's left ear- you gotta know babe that you really are gorgeous and my very very most important patient all around, no worries about the timing here, you can still being lazy… you keep on healing, ok? you hear me? I'm in no hurry and we have plenty of time…besides, I can wait for you till you decide to join us. Actually I'm waiting now and… I will'.
A wink, a nod floating in the air. Reassuring Hutch and saying this. Jenny kissed Starsky's forehead and gently caressed his cheek and his hair and started to leave the room.
'Oh! By the way Hutch, Dr. Riley wants to talk to you, you'll stay?'
'Yeah, I'm running late for home now and I don't feel like leaving him alone so I think I'm gonna stay the whole night here!'
'Ok Detective! See you later then…'
'Oh, and Jennifer…'
'Thank you! Thank you so much. I really appreciate what you're doing for Starsk and for me, for the two of us'.
She smiled peacefully and closed the door.
~ oo ~
'Dr. Riley please! You can't do that! Give Starsky one more chance, give them both one more chance, just a week, a few days more at least, please…'her begging hands started to rise to the ceiling when she saw the concerned look in Dr. Rileys' eyes, eyes who seemed to be denying to the severely injured cop his last chance to survival... and since she couldn't stand it she dismissed his glance and put her head into her palms almost crying in pain at the same time while the physician kept on talking….
'I'm sorry Jennifer, but I have to. We're all concerned about Starsky's health, but we know he's a warrior too. He proved us a thousand times… So the best medical advice is to put him out of the machinery as soon as possible …we know we're taking a risk but we have to do it, if we don't, he might not be able to breathe by himself again, he can't stay connected to the respirator anymore …and remain connected would be more dangerous for him from this moment on due to the infections …'
'But I'm sure he maybe just needs a few more days, maybe one or two…maybe 'she said it almost like a whisper
'We ought to take the risk Jenny. I know it would be sad and painful if something happens but… otherwise it'll be too late and even worst for him. You know we can't keep him indefinitely under these circumstances, his body wouldn't be able to respond properly if we keep him with the mechanic help for any longer. Besides, there's a risk he could suffer irreversible brain damage and his collapsed lung wouldn't be able to regain its strength or maybe it could turn deadly infected if we keep him connected. We have to put him out of the ventilator now, we don't want him to become a permanent disabled man. We run tests, we did it smoothly for short periods of time and everything seems to be all right. I only wish God helps him so he can be able to start breathing by his own…'
'And what if he just couldn't make it?'
Dr. Riley sigh helplessly with concern. The dreaded words which he wouldn't liked to even think of... had just been said. A heavy, salty and sour tear streamed down Jenny's face and met the ground…
'Like I said, I hope that it might not happen, but in that case I think it would be more humane to let him go in peace, no code this time. We just… let him go.'
'No, please, don't…'
'We don't have much of a choice at the moment, we take him off the ventilator and pray, otherwise it would prove fatal anyway. That's why I have to talk to Hutchinson, he's got his power of attorney and he has to make the final decision'.
'Oh NO! Dr. Riley! Hutch isn't ready yet!'
'We are never ready for those kind of things Jennifer… Where's he?'
'In Starsky's room'.
And as the doctor got out of his office, Jenny collapsed on the couch and started crying endlessly…
~ oo ~
Hutch was sitting beside his friend like he did over the past 20 days. Staring at him and scrutinizing every inch of his beloved face and body. He hadn't even dared to touch him yet. Not since the shooting. He just couldn't.
What if, he thought... what if I touch him and definitely break him in million pieces, just like the bullets ripped his body?, what if I do it, and being that fragile as he looks maybe I break the spell ... and make it real. His broken body, definitely broken. Ended. No way, he thought...
His recurrent nightmare…
But this time, after Jenny, seemed different, somehow the atmosphere around Starsky seemed to be lighter than before, a kind of fresh and newborn air that pervaded everything and Starsky's halo brighter than ever.
Suddenly Hutch realized, he was feeling hope. He felt like he wanted to touch him again and feel him close, almost being feed by his friend, sucking his joy of life, his spirit, like he had always done…
Something's different, something's changed.
He thought maybe God had finally listened to him this time… he had been so persistent, praying to a God that he had no longer believed in, only to get his friend back … he looked at his face, his beloved face, thin but still handsome and loveable face, searching for a sign, the slightest movement that assures him he was still there…but nothing happened!
It was so strange, so unthinkable this was Starsky, so still and quiet. But he had to be strong, Jennifer said he had to be strong, and a believer, so he finally took a deep breath and did it.
He touched him….
For the very first time since the shooting.
He touched Starsky.
And it felt so damn good.
He was warm, alive. His skin so soft… he'd always imagined he would have been cold, cold like a corpse, cold like dead…
'Talk to me Starsk. Make a joke. I miss you so much buddy. I… I need you. Would you please wake up? Please? Wake up for me Gordo! You're my whole…My existence, my life means nothing for me without you, you know? I really need you Starsk and I really love you'.He caressed his face and kissed him into his right slacked cheek, then stood up and paced over the silent room towards the window, loosing the sight...
'~If this was a cowboy movie I'd give you my boots~', he sighed, recalling a moment so long time ago when he had almost lost him too, and sadly looked through the window.'Remember Starsk? ~You're my pal~, ~you're the best friend I've got in the whole world~, I owed you a three course meal, Starsk... and I can't wait forever... I miss you so dearly, you're the best thing that ever happened to me and the best buddy that anyone could ever have'.
He turned to Starsky again, he couldn't bear watching through that window, watching the life out there, simply happening... fatally like everything is normal. Witnessing that simple fact hurt him so much, and he felt scared and afraid and prayed to the sheer force of the Gods not to feel that void, that emptiness never again ... and he begged and he sat down beside him, near him, again ...'Don't leave me alone, Starsk. Please! Stay with me, if you don't… I'll follow you, I know. I don't know what to do without you Starsk, I don't know what to do. I'm pushing the odds, I don't know what to do… I mean what if... what if?
Silence. Stop. He stood. He wanted to run, to leave, to rewind...
Oh man, what am I talking about, what am I talking about?...'
Dr. Riley solemnly opened the door, and Hutch stared at his dull presence… and a shaft of light suddenly enlightened the barely lit room and both, Hutch and the doctor turned their heads towards Starsky who was still lying in the bed…
And he opened his eyes.