"Well how long have you had it for?"
"Dunno…hours I guess. Woke up with the damn thing. I tell ya' Hutch it's killin' me. Ain't never had one so bad before."
"Seriously? That bad? Christ perhaps we should get you down to the Doc's, see if we can get you in for a check over. Maybe you're coming down with something Starsky. "
Hutch tried to give his partner an evaluating eye. It was almost impossible to gauge Starsky's level of discomfort as he had a barometer that registered everything back to front. Intense sometimes-interminable pain was brushed off and bleeding, gaping wounds never needed suturing in Starsky's mind. But toothache, toenail ache, numb bum ache from long hours in stakeout cars, meant Hutch needed earplugs to block out the incessant whining. So if he was reading the Starsky pain barometer correctly, there was nothing to worry about with his partner's health.
But just to be on the safe side he threw in another measurement tool.
"Hell and we've got tickets for that game tomorrow night."
"Huh? Shit, that's right! The big game. Doc's? Nah…and what for anyway? Sit around for an hour waitin' to be seen just so he'll stick something sharp and pointy in my rear and check another part of me that I prefer not to have checked. 'Sides I ain't gonna be missin' that game. "
Hutch rolled his eyes. Assessment complete. It was just a simple headache.
"Starsky. If you go there about a headache he's hardly going to be examining your….well …..you know….your rear end."
"And how would you know what he's capable of huh? You don't know how these medical people think! Guy has a headache so it must be connected to his ….well if not the rear end, maybe the other part that I don't like getting prodded at by no guy."
"Oh Brother! Well all I say is you can't be suffering that much if you won't consider seeing someone professional about the pain. How's your appetite?"
"Terrible? Not hungry? Nauseated?" Hutch was starting to look concerned again.
"Terrible – coz I haven't been able to please it. My appetite is unhappy, sad – in need of at least two chilidogs with the lot. Trouble is my freaking headache is stopping me from driving down to the corner to get two of Sal's Specials of the Day."
"Then your appetite is not terrible Starsky. It is perfectly normal and fine. Though come to think of it you might normally go for three, not just two."
"How can you say my appetite is not terrible when it is crying out – crying out to be fed? But with this head…"
"Don't look at me with that look Starsk."
"The look that says go and pick me up two of Sal's Specials with the lot and bring them back here for me with a soda and oh…a couple of donuts while you're at it."
"Jeez Hutch. That's real kind of you – and good add on about the donuts. Now that you mention them the extra sugar could help."
"Ok, I know when I'm sucked in. Stop looking like that with those puppy dog eyes. This is the last time this week you're going to do this to me."
"Thanks partner. You'll be saving my life. You know we've got that meeting with the Relieving Captain this afternoon – got to be on my top form for that."
Hutch was standing gathering keys and jacket.
"Shit yeah. Almost forgot. They want us to show our faces down at that community hall on Seventh where BCPD are hosting those new self defense classes for women don't they?"
Starsky rubbed at his temples again.
"You've obviously forgotten Hutch. It's not just our faces he wants us to show – Dobey wants our bodies too – well come to think of it I think that is why he really wants us there. For our bodies."
He tried his best devilish Starsky eyebrow waggle but he stopped halfway with a grimace and another rub of his temples.
"Dobey wants us to show the new Captain what upstanding officers we are. He wants two busy undercover street cops to show the ladies some moves they can use to protect themselves. Ha! Someone should tell Dobey I'm a busy man with things to do. Like going home and climbing into bed with my headache."
"Maybe you but not me partner."
Starsky decided he'd be obtuse – he couldn't miss the opportunity to get a smart call over his partner.
"Huh? I didn't mean for you to climb into bed with me too Hutch – just me and my headache."
That got him scowling.
Mark one up for Starsky!
"Not that you Moron! The defense stuff. I have no intention of getting thrown on some mat by some Amazonian woman with hairy legs and armpits. And if you – partner - don't get something for that damn headache, you won't be even going to the meeting."
Starsky loved the Hutchinson finger even when it was pointing at him and even when he had a headache.
"Already had aspirin twice – no help."
"Well I'll get your chili dogs – maybe they'll help – better not take any more aspirin just yet. Drink some water too, you never drink enough. Take that glass and go to the water fountain outside and fill it to the brim….or no chili dogs."
"Yeah yeah ….go Mom. Get my dogs."
Water. He thinks it's God's answer to everything. Water and carrot juice. Hmm…and goat's milk…yeuccckkkkk. How he drinks that shit I have no idea.
But he did as he was told and stood filling his glass obediently at the water fountain and wondered what was the world record anyway for the longest recorded headache? Would it be in the Guinness Book – he'd check that one up when his own record headache was finally gone.
Three of the squad room's uniforms were gathered around the vending machine in deep discussion. They all looked enthralled and interested in the topic.
Hmmphhhh…Can't be about work.
Starsky's first thoughts were correct.
It was about their wives – not a subject he was inclined to join in with on. Besides his head was hurting too much to bother being sociable.
He sipped and caught the gist of their conversation. Wasn't hard. They weren't exactly being quiet about it after all.
"I tell you Joe, you have never seen anything like it – took a little while to work, but God when it did!" Mike was all smiles. He was shaking a small glass bottle with what looked like pills in it in front of Joe's face.
"Good results hey?" Joe looked a little unsure.
"Incredible. The wife's already asking me if I can get some more for her. Worried the supply might run out. "
"You're kidding me. That good?" Joe was interested now.
"Absolutely fucking great! She hasn't had a single headache in weeks now. She's a different person in fact. They are fantastic pills."
"Yeah Joe." It was Eddie, the third uniform talking now in agreement with Mike.
"It was exactly the same for my Shirl. Headache? Not a one. She's never been fitter if you know what I mean. Should be written on the bottle. These little babies cure all headaches in record time and keep them away!"
Laughter all around and lots of back slapping between the three.
Jeez, those guy's wives must surely have had some mother of all headaches to have them celebrating so much over how some pill had cured them.
Starsky sidled over to them and they all looked up from their cavorting, suddenly a little more serious.
"Starsky? Hey? Don't look so good? Tie one on last night?"
"Nope. Wished I could say I did. "
Starsky sidled a little closer.
"Mike heard you mentioning some pills that are great for headaches. Well right now I've got a doozy of a one and Hutch and me are s'possed to meet up with Dobey's temporary fill in this afternoon. Need to shake it quick."
The three men all looked at each other and back at Starsky then back at each other.
"Oh hey…yeah that new Captain…what's his name? Stephens. Yeah Stephens, from over at the twelfth – you know the man Starsky?"
"No never met the guy."
More glances between the three men. Some quickly smothered, knowing smiles – missed by Starsky who was eyeing off the bottle in Mike's hand.
"And you want to try to shake that headache quick? So you might be interested in these pills – these pills our wives like for their headaches?"
Starsky raised his shoulders and looked just a little embarrassed.
"Well I mean – are they only pills for women? Like you said – made your wives' headaches go away real quick? Maybe I shouldn't take em' – like if they're ladies pills."
He leaned in closer toward the men, lowering his voice now and looking up and down the corridor a little anxiously.
"You know – well – these pills are not like for ladies problems only are they? I mean – shit – I mean – jeez – its not like they're gonna make me funny like? You know lady's hormone stuff and that?"
He was getting himself tied in knots of worry now but the men quickly reassured him even though they seemed to think his concerns were hilarious. He watched them all doubled over in laughter.
Jeez – it's not like it was that funny.
He was a little chagrined that they had discounted his fears about female hormone medication. After all he did keep up with current developments in fields that might impact on females and their sexual functioning.
Well, c'mon we all know that women do take pills for hormones and headaches and stuff like that."
Of course they did. He read enough about it in reputable magazines like Cosmo.
"No Starsky! They're not ladies pills. Not at all! " Mike laughed and Eddie scowled at him.
"Good. Then if can you spare me one or two I'd be really grateful Mike. I really need to get rid of this freakin' headache and aspirin haven't worked."
"Sure Starsky. No problem. Here take three that will really get your spirits 'up'."
Mike shook them out of the bottle.
"Hey they're blue. Why are they blue? Ain't seen blue pain pills before."
Mike faltered and looked at Eddie.
Eddie was fast. He wasn't known as "Fast Eddie" in the squad room for nothing.
"Oh that's why they're so special. The Doc we both go to gets these imported from China. That's why they look different to ours."
"Huh you don't say? China hey? Hah! Well as long as they're not some weird herbal shit like Hutch is always takin' coz I don't reckon that stuff works."
"Starsky believe us. These pills will work. They will definitely work and by this afternoon you will be feeling like a new man. Promise you. You'll be firing on all cylinders and shooting for the stars."
Mike added to Eddie's imagery.
"That's right Mike. Starsky's health will be solid as a rock. You'll be able to go on and on and on…with your renewed energy and ah…..no headache."
Starsky thought they were getting a little over the top with their hopes for what a simple headache pill could achieve but he was grateful for the support.
"Well thanks guys. I'll just settle for having no more headache and then go home to bed. Not so much concerned about shooting for the stars today. Just get this meeting over with this afternoon and crash out."
Mike looked sympathetic.
"Yep you'll need bed I'm sure. Best place to be after you take these pills – home to bed. But, well once that meeting with the new fill in Captain is over, guess you can do that."
Mike handed Starsky a fresh glass of water.
"Here you go Starsky. Down the hatch."
He swallowed the three pills and smiled at the men.
"Ok better get back to the desk so that Hutch thinks I've been doin' somethin' while he's pickin' up my lunch."
"Yeah. Sure thing Starsky. We're out of here too. Our shifts finished. Home to the wives hey boys?"
Eddie laughed. "Yep home to the wives with no headaches."
Starsky wondered about the lame humor that men must lapse into once they were married. It was a bit tragic really. The guys actually thought they were cracking some big ones here just now.
But he smiled good-naturedly as if he too found the humor in the marital tedium.
Which he didn't.
"OK…say hi to the wives for me then. I'll let you guys know how the pills worked when I see you tomorrow. Ok?"
"Starsky – you won't need to tell us - I'm sure you'll be more than happy with the results."
They all walked off and not for the first time while sharing time with the other squad room boys, Starsky was secretly pleased to still be able to call himself a bachelor.
Hutch watched as the third chilidog disappeared down his partner's throat.
Starsky's appetite never ceased to amaze him.
"Feeling any better since you've eaten?"
"Ummmnnnn…guess so." He shook his head a little as if to test it and Hutch covered a smile. Only Starsky would rattle his head to check on the status of a headache.
" Yeah guess so. Some…But hard to say whether it is the food or the pills."
Starsky was mumbling through the last mouthful as he sucked on the dregs of his soda.
"Pills? You had those aspirin hours ago. Couldn't be them."
"No the other pills. So busy chowing down since you brought – kindly brought –"
"Don't grovel Starsky it doesn't become you."
"Well since you kindly brought me my lunch, that I forgot to mention to ya'. The guys – Mike and Eddie were leaving at end of shift and were also kind – yeah – kindly gave – Hey Hutch, having a headache is sorta good, everyone is kind to ya'. It's sorta like people act like pilantropists 'round ya when ya' not feelin' too good."
"Philanthropists Starsky – and that's not really how you use the word anyway. It's an act for the betterment of mankind, it's not just being nice to someone."
"Well I like the word and I can use it how I like. Hey it's a joke too. Hutch I made a joke – whatda' call those things? I made a pun."
"Starsky how the hell is using the word Philanthropy a pun – a pun for what?"
"See Mike and Eddie are Pill –anthropists... . Get it? It's a pun."
Hutch sighed, took a patient breath and wondered whether it was worth bothering with taking this conversation further. Starsky tangential thinking processes were kicking in now that his carb load was up.
"No – I don't get it. Not at all. Tell me why they are Pill – anthropists Starsky, I'd love to know."
It clicked then. Eventually he could catch up his partner's crazy trains of thought.
"Ah – so I see. Pills. They gave you some painkillers for your headache? Starsky, you shouldn't mix your meds you should know that."
Starsky frowned. Trust Hutch to be annoyingly sensible. Sometimes he just wished his careful partner would walk a little more on the wild side. Or at least allow him to. Even headache pills were up for censoring.
Jeez what could a coupla' little pills do anyway?
That sentence stayed in his head because he realized Hutch would waste no time in telling all the things that little pills could do to him.
Hutch was like that.
A worrier. Sometimes Starsky wondered if his partner was born worried. Did he have the little crease between his eyebrows when he was in his diapers?
"Well Mike reckoned they were like super pills. You know. For headaches. His wife and Eddie's wife think they're real great. So I thought I'd give them a go."
"No such thing as a super pill Starsk – least not one you buy over the counter from the drugstore. Nothing legal that is - that you can get without prescription."
"Yeah, but these ones are from China – special like."
Hutch snorted so loudly he sprayed his coffee across the desk and Starsky flicked it off his sleeve without complaint.
"China! Oh that makes all the difference then. Special ones? From China? God Starsky! They gave you some herbal shit no doubt."
Too late Hutch realized his mistake and tried to cover it. He stood up quickly and started gathering up the lunch wrappers.
"Herbal what? Herbal what? Did you just say shit Hutch? Did you just use the word herbal and shit together? You did! The great cure for everything according to Hutchinson – herbal remedies. Why you big phony!"
"Now wait a minute. There's herbal remedies and there's herbal shit – they're not the same Starsky."
He coughed loudly and stood up.
"Look I'm going to the john and then we'd better head off. Dobey wants us at this center for the defense class and meet with. …What's his name…Stephens – by two pm? You about ready?"
"Ready? What's to get ready? Yeah I guess I am feelin' better. Mike's right. I've already got some new energy flowing through my veins. Can sorta feel it I guess."
He shuffled a little on his chair and stretched out his leg, shuffled a little more than stood up and pulled at his jeans that lay snug across his hips.
"Shouldn't have had those chilidogs so close together. Now my jeans are cuttin' me in half. "
"You're either starving to death or fit to burst. Can't you find a happy medium with your food intake?"
As they both headed out of the squad room doors Starsky would have agreed with Hutch's opinion that he tended to overdo it with the food and that often, yes he did end up with a stomach fit to burst.
He was just a little confused as to why chilidogs and a soda should be making his crotch feel tight and swollen and not his gut?