Disclaimer: This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No profit is being made from it. No infringement on anyone’s copyright is intended.
© July 2002
Physical therapy as part of his recovery from a shooting was going slowly. Starsky was making progress with range of motion in the shoulder that took a bullet in a small Italian restaurant, but his manual dexterity wasn’t coming back anywhere near fast enough to suit him. With only two weeks before he was hoping to re-certify on the firing range, he was getting worried. He was proud of his record as one of the best marksmen in the department and he wasn’t willing to slip in his performance.
“You’ve gotta help me, Darla,” he pleaded with his physical therapist. “Hutch depends on me to watch his back. I don’t want him thinkin’ I’ve lost it. Please?”
Darla smiled patiently and said, “You suffered a serious injury, David, and there was some nerve damage.”
“Shhhhh,” Starsky cautioned. Hutch was in the waiting room within their line of sight and Starsky wasn’t convinced he was out of earshot.
The therapist giggled and repeated something Starsky had already said to her once during this session, “Oh, sorry. Right. Ix-nay on the erve-nay amage-day.” That one netted her a bright smile from her nervous patient. Darla knew that the man’s partner was fully aware of his condition, but she understood why he was trying to downplay the most worrisome aspect of his injury.
Darla thought about it for a moment before she came up with a suggestion. “I have an idea, but I’m afraid you’re not going to like it.”
“I’m desperate, schweetheart,” Starsky quipped. “Lay it on me.”
“You really need to work on your Bogie. It’s not very good.”
Starsky sighed and nodded, not the first time he’d heard that. “Yeah, I know. What?”
Reducing the pitch of her voice to a conspiratorial level, she leaned toward him and whispered, “Do you know how to knit?”
Starsky had also leaned forward to hear her and when he did, he sat up with a start and said, “WHAT?”
Hutch looked up from the magazine he was reading. He caught Starsky’s eye, and his transmitted message that everything was all right. With a shake of his head and a small smile, he returned his attention to his magazine.
“You heard me,” Darla answered.
“No, of course I don’t. That ain’t exactly what you’d call one of the manly arts.”
“Nonsense. You said you’d do anything. I think it would help you get your coordination and manual dexterity back. Now, you could just be patient. The exercises you’re already doing will accomplish that. Might not be as soon as we’d hoped. Maybe an extra couple of weeks?”
Starsky looked shocked at that. He knew it was slow going, but really wanted to get back to active duty. Sitting around all day, especially now that Hutch had gone back to work without him, was making him stir crazy, and worried about his partner.
“What do I have to make?”
“Doesn’t matter. Anything. Do you know someone who can teach you?” Starsky nodded. “Good, let’s finish up for the day. I’ll get you some ice.”
Much to his surprise, Starsky took readily to knitting. He had a little trouble learning at first, since the only person he knew who could teach him was right handed. She was patient, though, and he picked it up quickly. His knitting teacher even had all of the supplies he needed, right down to the yarn. Under the seal of supreme secrecy from everyone, he agreed that he’d make a blanket for her daughter’s doll. Something Edith Dobey had been meaning to do, but just hadn’t had time to accomplish.
Despite the pain it brought when he first tried, he discovered Darla was right. His dexterity was improving rapidly, and he found the hobby strangely soothing. Keeping it a secret from Hutch wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be, since he was alone for many hours a day while Hutch worked. Starsky was now on part-time desk duty, so his afternoons were free.
Only a few days away from re-certifying, Starsky was staying up late at night to finish his project. He wanted it done and given, anonymously, to its intended recipient before he went back to active duty. One afternoon, he was resting on the couch knitting and listening to the radio. The next thing he knew, he heard a quiet knocking on the front door.
He heard Hutch’s voice through the door. “Starsky?”
“Aw, shit,” he muttered to himself as he realized he had fallen asleep on the couch while knitting, not an easy thing to do. The room was completely dark and Hutch sounded a little concerned, so he knew he only had moments before he used his key.
“Hey, you okay in there?”
Starsky was supposed to be making dinner for the two of them, not sleeping. “Yeah,” he called out, “be right there.”
He stood up, disentangling himself from the knitting. The small blanket was almost finished, but still on the needles. For lack of a better plan, he stuffed the entire thing behind a couch cushion, turned on a lamp, and strode to the door.
“Sorry,” he said as he opened the door. “I fell asleep on the couch.”
“You feeling okay?” Hutch asked as he walked in and turned back to look at his partner with a critical eye. “I got a little worried when the lights were off.”
“I’m okay, just a little tired. Let’s just go out to dinner,” he said.
Hutch hesitated for a second, and then replied, “No, let’s just make something here. You look a little rumpled for going out.”
“Just give me a minute and I’ll wash up.”
“No, I’d rather stay here. We could just order Chinese or something.”
Starsky knew what was going on with his partner. They hadn’t gone to any restaurants since he was shot. Even when he returned to work, they’d gotten something for lunch from the cafeteria every day. “Uh, uh, Blintz. I may have been a little slow on the uptake on this one, but I think I know what’s happening here. We can’t avoid eating out forever. I’m fine.”
Hutch stood and stared at him for several moments. At first, he thought to deny the truth of what was going on with him, but one look at Starsky’s sincere expression quashed any such idea.
“Guess denying it isn’t going to fly, is it?” he asked, smiling shyly.
Starsky put a hand on Hutch’s arm and said, “No, Orville.” That earned him a laugh. “I’ll be right back and we can run down to Huggy’s. Maybe that’ll ease re-entry.”
While Starsky was attempting to straighten out his disheveled hair, he heard Hutch yelp from the living room, followed by several colorful expletives, and Hutch asking, “What’ve you got in your couch... barbecue skewers?”
Flinching, Starsky didn’t say anything. He just waited for it. Within a minute, Hutch appeared in his bedroom, dangling the pink, knitted blanket from his hand, with a bemused expression.
“Um, buddy...” Hutch started, barely suppressing laughter, “you on the nest?”
Starsky grabbed the knitting from him, wincing slightly from the sudden movement. He was embarrassed and turning red when he indignantly stated, “No. That’s therapy.”
“Don’t get pissed, I’m just asking. Therapy, huh?”
Starsky sighed heavily and tossed the blanket onto his bed. “Yes. Darla said it would help me get my manual dexterity back faster,” he answered as he wiggled his fingers to demonstrate. “I think she was right, too.”
“That’s a great idea,” Hutch responded. “But, pink? What is it?”
“It’s a blanket for Rosie’s doll carriage. Edith taught me and I thought it would be nice to make something for Rosie.” Hutch picked up the blanket and looked closer.
“Not bad. I like this cable thing you did. Kind of like on a sweater.”
“Edith is a good teacher. Do you really think it’s okay?”
“Yep. Nice and even. My mom knits. She’d tell you, you’re doing fine.” Hutch glanced up from the blanket, seeing the pleased look on Starsky’s face and said, “You know, men used to knit a lot more than they do now. They used to knit on those sailing ships you like. Passed the time on a long voyage.”
Starsky knew that at one time, but his worry about being caught engaging in what he considered mostly a female hobby outweighed any sensible information to the contrary. “That’s right, I guess they did.”
Hutch held out his hand and said, “Squeeze my hand. I want to see how your grip’s doing.” Starsky complied, and Hutch was pleased with the result, despite the slight wince he saw for the second time in a few minutes.
“Watch this,” Starsky said. He picked a quarter up off of the dresser, put it on top of his left hand, bent the fingers, and rolled the coin from his pinky to his index finger and back again. The entire time he had his tongue stuck slightly between his teeth, helping his concentration. “After I go to the range, I’ll be all ready to back you up.”
Hutch said, “I never doubted it, Gordo.”
The two men looked at each other, both glad everything was going to be all right. Though the injury was severe, and Starsky lost a concerning amount of blood that night, he was almost healed. The look on his face clearly communicated his gratitude to and affection for his partner. Hutch kept him alive that night and managed to save everyone else in the restaurant in the process.
“Thanks,” Starsky said. Hutch knew he was thanking him for more than just the vote of confidence about his marksmanship.
Hutch nodded. “You’re welcome.” Thank you for living to fight another day. “I’m starving, let’s get out of here,” he added. “You’re pretty enough for Huggy’s.”
He tried. He really did, but he failed miserably. As the solemn moment faded, Hutch couldn’t help picturing Starsky, sitting with a skein of pink and white variegated yarn on his lap, carefully knitting a doll blanket for their captain’s daughter. He remembered his mother’s voice as she tried to teach his sister to knit. “No, honey. Knit one, purl two.” Somehow, inserting Starsky into that image made him start to laugh. By the time they reached the Torino, he had to lean against the car and hold his stomach he was laughing so hard. All of the tension and worry he’d felt for the past several weeks drained from him along with the laughter, and Starsky didn’t mind. He knew what was happening. Still, a warning was in order. After all, he couldn’t allow Hutch to spread it around the station that he had taken up knitting.
He gave Hutch his best don’t-go-too-far look. “Laugh it up, Blondie. Just remember... payback’s a bitch.”