TIGHTS AND BOOTS
A nonsensical exploration of how far one partner will go to help the other. Written during one of my moments of insanity. Thanks to Kate(CMT) for a quick beta and most of the inspiration and to Kass for posting to her lovely website.
Senses. He knew he had five, but only one seemed to be working at the moment; his olfactory glands were on overdrive, screaming at the putrid scent that seemed to permeate the very air around him. The combination of week-old garbage, foul feces, strong urine joined with stale vomit and … Hutch frowned, wincing as the simple act nearly separated his scalp from his skull. When he could think again, the last scents computed. Bean burrito. With onions. And sandalwood.
“Starsk?” His voice sounded strange to his own ears, echoing hollowly back at him from some unearthly plane. There was a muffled grunt to his right, and he turned his head. Whoa! Big mistake! Note to self: Movement must be kept to a minimum.
“… utch … hey … Hutch … you … me?”
Hearing was kicking in, albeit slowly and with lots of static. He concentrated harder, forced his mouth to move again. “’m here. Right beside you. You hurt?”
There was a slight gasp, then a soft groan from his prone partner. “… can’t … move my hands. I think … wrists … broken. You?”
“My head. And my back. Little sonuvabitch dressed up like a clown got me good there.” Hutch reached around, tried to touch the roaring ache just above his belt, then gave up in mid-try. It was easier just to lie flat on the cool pavement and look up at the buildings surrounding them.
“Maybe we shoulda offered ‘em more than a stick of Juicy Fruit? They didn’t have to break my windshield. The Torino didn’t deserve that.”
“You think? What’s happening to the younger generation nowadays? Used to be just eggs and toilet paper on Halloween. Now it’s baseball bats and crowbars.”
“So what’re we gonna do?”
“Can you stand?”
In the pitch blackness of the alley, Hutch heard a scuffling sound and a muffled curse.
“No. And you can add my ankle to that list of maladies,” Starsky grunted.
A sigh. Now who’s been keeping Readers Digest in the john. “So, when was our last 10-4 check?”
“How the hell should I know … how long we been lying on our asses here in this stinkin' alley?”
“Were you out?”
“Yeah … think so.”
“Great. So I guess we’re stuck here for a while,” Hutch sighed.
“At least. Until somebody notices we’re missing and starts lookin’.”
There were several minutes of quiet, broken only by both men’s labored breathing and an occasional grunt or moan.
“Shit!” Starsky’s voice broke the silence.
“I don’t think those were kids out trick or treatin’, do you?”
Hutch pondered the slivered moon just starting to peek out over the television antenna on the roof of an adjacent building. “Probably not. They were awfully tall … for kids.”
“Besides, who the hell goes out trick or treatin’ at cars. I never did that when I was a kid. Did you? I mean, we hit all the neighborhood houses, not their cars … well, unless they didn’t give out any good treats and then we’d … never mind.”
“I never went trick or treating.”
Holding his injured wrists up protectively, his partner rolled over adjacent to him. “You what?” he said incredulously.
Hutch looked away. “I never got to go … my dad thought it was something only the lower-class kids did. He … he thought it was akin to … begging.”
“What an asshole! You missed out on some really great times, pard … I remember once, we put rocks in ol' Mrs. Goldstein's clean sheets. And another time, we papered Jackson's back yard with enough toilet paper to clog up Bay City's toilets for a year." He chuckled but it ended in a grunt.
"Hurtin' again?" Hutch asked, his soft voice laden with sympathy.
"Yeah … but not where you'd think. I shouldn'ta had those two king-sized sodas with dinner. I gotta go … bad!"
"Well, hold it in. It can't be much longer. I know we didn't have time to call in a 10-31, but somebody should be lookin' for us soon."
"10-31?" Starsky's voice was beginning to sound strained. "What the hell's a 10-31?"
"A Halloween hit, dummy."
"Hardy har har. We're both stuck on our asses in a dark alley with nobody looking for us and my bladder about to bust, and you're making jokes!"
Hutch grinned in spite of the dull ache it induced between his eyes. "Just trying to take your mind off the discomfort."
"I don't think that's possible. It's getting pretty bad. If you could see my eyes, they'd be yellow."
"Starsk, there's nobody here but you and me. If you've gotta go, for heaven's sake, just go."
"In my pants! No way. That's all I need for somebody to see first thing when they find us. I can hear it now: 'Starsky was so damned scared he pissed his pants.' Ain't happenin', Hutch. I'll just lay here ‘til I explode, and then you can help them scrape my body parts off the bricks around us."
"You're not going to explode. Stop being so melodramatic! Can't you unzip your own pants and …"
"Not with these wrists! I can barely move two fingers. Gonna be in casts for six weeks at least. Damn, I won't even be able to feed myself, dress myself, tie my own sneakers. Owwwww!"
"I tried to get the zipper down and now everything hurts ten times worse."
"Oh, fergodssake, Starsky! Roll over on your side, and I'll do it!"
"You're not gonna help me take a piss! That'd be even worse! I'm lying here, and you've got Cyclops in your hands, and our brothers in blue show up? We could never show our faces at the precinct again."
"Cyclops?" In spite of their situation and his own pain, Hutch snickered.
"What're you laughin' at? You don't have a pet name for yours?"
"No. Nobody in their right mind names their … their …" Hutch pondered a second as his partner squirmed uncomfortably. “Good grief, Starsky! Roll over here and I’ll unzip you. If you can move two fingers, that oughta be enough to take care of business.”
Starsky looked around, squinting his eyes to see in the blackened alleyway. The only light sources were a dim street lamp on 24th Avenue and one or two apartment windows high above. “You see or hear anybody comin’?”
Hutch sighed. “Nobody’s around for miles, so scoot over here and let’s get you comfortable.”
Another glance around and Starsky slid carefully to his right while Hutch cautiously pushed a bruised elbow beneath his own torso. He reached out, grabbed the zipper pull and yanked downward. “Okay, roll back over and aim in the other direction. Then I’ll try to get it up … uhhh … I mean, close it.”
A muffled giggle met his ears, and Hutch could feel his face flush red. “Just hurry up, willya!”
Again, there were grunts and groans, followed by muffled curses. Finally, “Sonuvabitch! Hutch, I can’t get it out. My pants are too damned …”
“Tight? Well, it’s not like I haven’t warned you about spray painting them onto your body.”
“I ain’t heard any complaints from the ladies.”
And you won’t, thought Hutch. “So, what’re you going to do now?”
“Well, I ain’t going in my drawers. Can you … will you …”
Hutch sighed, a weight-of-the-world sigh. “Roll back over, and I’ll see what I can do. But if you ever tell a soul …”
“Like I’d ever do something like that. You think I want people to know my partner hadda reach into my pants and … well … never mind.” He grunted thickly as he turned his body to face Hutch’s. “Hurry up. I gotta pee like a race horrrrrsse …” He gasped suddenly.
“What’s wrong. Did I hurt you?”
“No, I’m fine, but your damned hands are like ice!” He shivered, then turned his back to his partner. A long silence, followed by an even longer sigh of contentment followed. “Ahhhhhh … thankgod!”
“Better?” Hutch asked with a sly grin.
“Mucho,” was the relieved reply. “And I’ve even got him back in his home. But I’ll still need help with the zipper.”
“Okay, once more … with feeling,” Hutch said as Starsky turned toward him again. He reached out, grasped the zipper pull and tugged upward. It wouldn’t budge. He yanked harder, pushing down with the palm of his hands and wrenching upward with two fingers, then stopped as a strangled yelp came from his partner.
“You wanna be a little more careful there, Hutch? That’s valuable property, the whole future of the Starsky clan you’re manhandling.”
Hutch frowned. “Stop complaining. In my book, this is way above and beyond the call of partner duty … and … the … fucking … thing … won’t close! I can’t get it up, Starsky! I just can’t do it.”
“Detective Hutchinson? Starsky?” A strange voice filtered down to them from above. “Do you need assistance, sirs?”
As though stung, Hutch jerked away from Starsky. A moment later, he adopted his best dignified voice. “What took you so long? We’ve been lying here for nearly an hour. My partner’s wrists are likely broken … and he’d drank way too many sodas for dinner … and … and … h-h-h-he h-h-h-had to g-g-go … a-a-a-and …”
Another patrolman joined the first. “You found them, Smith? Looks like we need an ambulance here. I’ll go call it in. Wait with them. See if you can make them comfortable. We’ll get their statements at the hospital.”
Smith looked a bit embarrassed at making the two men lying on the ground before him ‘comfortable’, but he acquiesced. “Is there anything I can do to help you guys until the ambulance gets here?”
“Yeah,” Starsky suddenly said, lying flat on his back. “I hadda piss like a race horse, and my partner hadda help since both my arms are injured. Think you can get this zipper up so my ass isn’t the first thing they see when they get here to save it.”
Smith’s discomfort level seemed to rise and, even in the dark, both men could see his face go bright red. But he did as he was asked, reaching down, lifting the waist band from Starsky’s flat stomach and pulling the zipper up.
Starsky grinned his famous lopsided grin. “Thanks.”
The patrolman grunted.
“Oh, and Smith …you breathe a word of this to anybody, you won’t need to make plans for Thanksgiving. You get me?”
The first knock was hesitant, the second a little louder. “Dave? It’s Cindy. I’ve brought what you asked me to. Are you awake?”
Starsky looked over at his partner, snoring away in the adjoining bed. It was too early in the evening for them to be sleeping, even if they were injured. Halloween only came once a year, and he was determined that this year, his partner, his friend, his comrade-in-arms (and other things) was going to have fun. “Come on in, Cindy. Don’t mind the outward appearances – it’s not as bad as it looks.”
Cindy Blevins, his girl of the week as Hutch called her, entered the dimly lit room. She gasped at the sight of both men – Starsky with his hands and arms encased in white plaster up to his elbows and his left foot bandaged and elevated; Hutch with a gauze-wrapped head and left elbow.
A limpid pool of sympathy, Cindy hurried over and kissed Starsky gently on the cheek. “Happy Halloween,” she said with a half-hearted smile. “I’m only here for a few minutes. Since you’re laid up and we can't go to that Halloween party like we planned, Gina and I switched shifts. She goes to Rome first thing in the morning and I have to fly to Honolulu tonight. And,” she went on, checking her wristwatch, “I’ve got …just half an hour to get to the airport.”
“I’m sorry, Cin. Hazards of the business, you know. At least tomorrow you’ll be on the beach …”
“And you’ll still be laid up,” she said, planting another light kiss on his face.
He reached out, tried to hold her with his casted hands, then gave up with a sigh. “Looks like it might be a while before we can have any fun like last night,” he said mournfully.
“Well, I’ll check in on you when I get back. Oh, and before I forget, here’re the things you asked for. The store was closing, and there really wasn’t much left to choose from, so I just grabbed what I could. I hope these’ll do.”
“They’ll be perfect, soon as I can get Sleeping Beauty over there to wake up. I got special permission to visit the kids’ ward since we’re stuck here for the night. They’re doing a spectacular haunted house and trick or treatin' at 8:00 down in Pediatrics, and I wanna make sure Hutch is there. Did you know he never got to go trick or treatin' when he was a kid. I mean, can you imagine being in a family that …”
Another kiss, this time full on the lips, silenced him. “Sorry, Dave, but I’ve gotta run or I’ll miss my flight.” She placed a medium-sized sack on his bedside. “I really didn’t pay that much attention to what I picked out, so I hope it’s okay. Take care now. Love you,” she said and vanished out the door.
There was a groan from the next bed. “Is she always so animated?”
“Actually, that animation thing works really well in certain situations," Starsky waggled his eyebrows. "By the way, welcome back to the world of the living. How do you feel?”
“How do you think I feel – sprained back, nasty headache, possible cracked elbow. A little sleep would be nice, I think. And some peace and quiet.”
“Not tonight, pal. We’re headed down to the Peds ward. Doc said it was okay so long as we stay in wheelchairs and be back in our beds by nine."
"The Peds ward? What business do we have there?"
"Well, I kinda told the ol' doc that we'd help a bit with the ambulatory kids' hospital Halloween party. See, they got this haunted house for the kids to go into and they needed a couple of volunteers to hand out candy as they exit. So I volunteered us."
"We're beaten to pulps, lay in a stinking alley for over an hour waiting for rescue, and both of us are high as kites on pain meds, and you 'volunteer' us to hand out candy to ..."
"To sick little kids who can't be out trick or treatin' tonight. Come on, Hutch! My wrists barely even hurt right now, so let's go, huh? Please?"
Hutch melted into the pillow and closed his eyes tiredly. My partner ... always a child. He'll never grow up. He sighed. "Okay, but just for a little while. Then we're both coming right back to this room and getting some shuteye. Deal?"
Starsky flashed his patented 1000-watt grin. "Deal!" He grabbed the shopping bag Cindy had left, pulled out two rectangular packets and tossed both across the chasm separating their hospital beds. "Take your pick."
Hutch caught the flying packages, holding both out at eye level. "What the hell are these?"
"Costumes ... for us! I had Cindy stop off at a Halloween costume shop and pick up a couple in our sizes. We've GOTTA wear costumes, Hutch. For the kids."
Hutch eyed both packages with distaste. "Did you, by chance, tell her what to get?"
"No. She said there wasn't much to choose from since it was a last minute thing. Why? Somethin' wrong?" A cellophane packet, filled with green material, sailed back across the room, landing smack dab in the middle of Starsky's chest. "Hey!" Starsky complained.
"Well, I can say this for Cindy ... she knew you'd be able to pull of a perfect Peter Pan, feathered hat, tights and all. But, partner, after what I've been through tonight, there's no damned way I'm going to any Halloween party dressed as Puss in Boots."