Authour’s note: These chapters were written as a series of drabbles. Each chapter is exactly one hundred words long, not including the heading, and the word in parentheses in the heading is whose POV the chapter is in.
Silence and blackness.
All I know is we were on patrol and Starsky got a call. Two suspects and we split up. I can’t yell “Freeze!” anymore, but Honey can bark it. We ran – there was an explosion.
I woke to find myself in darkness as well as silence. Blind!
For a deaf man, that’s a huge fear and now it was my reality!
I felt a body next to me. Honey? I signed. Is that you?
She happily licked my face. She knew.
Okay, Honey. I stood, hunched over, my hand tangled in her fur. Take us home.
I got the perps into the car and then realised I was missing a partner. Calling would do no good – Hutch was deaf. So I jogged in the direction I’d seen him run earlier.
I found him about a half block down. I jogged over to him, alarmed at how he was hunched over, his fingers twisted into Honey’s collar. Hey, I signed to him. What is it? You shot?
Suddenly his head rose. I saw his nostrils flare. Starsky? he signed, obviously confused. Is that you? His unfocused eyes were looking right at me.
It was him. We’d found him!
Yes, thank Heaven! He figured out rapidly what had happened to me.
Without really talking about how to do it, we became a modern-day male Keller and Sullivan. He would slowly sign letters into my palm.
Hey – at least it was communication!
He got me to the hospital, where I was cleaned up and examined. The doctor talked to him, and I felt his hand suddenly squeeze mine.
Starsk, what did he say? Am I gonna be this way forever?
From my partner, into my palm, came the sweetest letters I’d ever ‘heard’.
The word echoed again and again in my head. Temporary!
The force of the blast had stunned Hutch’s eyes, and debris had slightly scratched them. But both would definitely heal, though the doctor refused to give us a definite timetable, citing “Everyone heals differently” and “don’t want unrealistic hopes”.
Well, I understood all that. And when he asked fearfully if it was permanent, I could confidently tell him N-O. We’d get through this, I spelled to him. We’d adjusted before – we’d do it again.
“Face reality” be damned. My partner would see again.
And that’s all that mattered.
Starsky drove me home and determined to stay with me till the therapist arrived. I signed to him I would be fine once she did.
Big-hearted Starsky spelled to me, Any way I can help till then?
I grinned impishly and signed, Time for me to face facts. I’m now deaf, dumb – not stupid, as in can’t speak – and temporarily blind. Just point me to the pinball machine.
There was a long pause, and then I felt his palm connect sharply with my hand. But I was laughing and I could sense he was, too. It felt good to laugh.
That silly idiot!
Pinball machine indeed!
I smacked his hand to show him how bad I thought that crack was – then I pressed it to my stomach so he could feel my laughter. I delighted to see that set him off laughing too!
The therapist arrived a few minutes later and I let her in. She was pretty, till she pissed me off.
Her eyes widened when she saw Hutch still silently chuckling over his pinball crack. “Oh….” She frowned. “The doctors told me he understood. But I can see he hasn’t yet grasped the reality of the situation….”
I frowned as I felt the tension in the air grow. Starsky? I asked. Is the therapist here?
Yes. She say you laugh – so you not adjust.
WHAT? I demanded. I was laughing over a JOKE!
Suddenly my other hand was seized and unfamiliar fingers spelled I am Susan Banks. I am your thera--
I jerked my hand away.
She caught it and pressed on, Ken you must let me help--
I jerked it away again and signed – no, I SPELLED in the air. You rude. You no listen. You no welcome. You no help. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.
I wish Hutch could have seen her expression when he told her off! She looked so stunned!
I didn’t like Banks, but I had to admire how she didn’t give up. She grabbed his hand twice more before I spoke up. “He won’t listen.”
“Oh, yes, he will!” she countered – and then made her huge mistake.
She grabbed Hutch’s hand again and when he pulled away, Banks slapped him full across the face.
Before she had time to blink, I’d hauled her out the door and locked it. Ignoring her shouts and pounding, I focused on calming my partner down.
I just stood there – angry, helpless, confused. I became aware of a presence slowly moving toward me.
Honey -- who’d been beside my leg the entire time, letting me feel the vibrations of her growls – suddenly seemed to come alive. Her tail thrashed against my legs as she wagged it happily.
I knew who that reaction was for, and I reached out to him as I felt him draw near.
His hands enfolded one of mine, and he spelled, She’s gone.
Good! I signed back, even as I started shaking. Can I really do this, Gordo? You really believe I can?
Can I do this, Gordo?
The words tore at my heart, but I didn’t hesitate for an instant. Of course you can, I spelled to him, well aware I was misspelling words in my rush to get it all out. And I am gonna be right here beside you. The entire time.
Hutch shook his head and pulled his hands away. After a moment, he signed, Gordo, I can’t ask you to--
I caught them and stilled them. Then I spelled slowly, so nothing would be lost. You didn’t. I’m here; I ain’t leaving. It’s still Me and Thee, Hutch.
Still Me and Thee.
I couldn’t reply for the longest time. All I could do was hold his hands – both of them – and nod.
True to his word, Starsky didn’t leave my side. He fed Honey, called Huggy, and spelled to me.
I was sitting on the couch, Honey’s head in my lap, when Huggy arrived. I knew it was him because I felt the vibrations of her bark.
She does this sharp ‘bark-bark’, then a pause, then ‘bark-bark’ – and then repeats. That’s special – reserved for Starsky or Huggy – and Starsky never left.
But, I wondered, what was Huggy doing here?
I walked in, all smiles. I looked over as Starsky took the book from me. “It’s real, then?”
“Afraid so,” he told me. “Mind sitting and talking to him while I read this?”
“Not a problem. How do I sign to him?”
“Take his hand and sign the letters into the palm so he can fell them. Slow, but effective.”
I nodded and walked to the couch. Starsky was already reading.
I petted Honey and sat down. Feeling the cushion sag, Hutch reached out, and I took his hand in mine.
Hey, m’main silent one, I spelled. How’s it hanging?
I couldn’t stop the smile. Even in spelling, Huggy managed to sound like himself. I’m all right, I signed back to him. In the dark, but all right. I reached back for him and waited.
That’s rough, he spelled back to me. Any ETA on them peepers?
Just when it happens. So where did Honey and Starsky get to, I wonder?
His answer floored me. Wonder Dog is in the corner chair, on his lap. He’s over there soaking up some knowledge on how best t’help you cope till this is over.
You can’t mean what I think you mean!
You can’t mean what I think you mean!
Yep, I spelled to Hutch. He’s over there reading how to help you deal with being --
He jerked his hand away. I didn’t push things – he was obviously emotional right then.
He snapped his fingers, and I watched Honey pad over to him. I watched her lead him to his partner. I watched Starsky greet him. I watched Hutch’s hands feel the book. I watched his hand stretch out to gently touch Starsky’s face.
I couldn’t do anything but watch when all of a sudden, Hutch slapped Starsky with all his strength.
I stood there, fists clenched, feeling the THUD! as Starsky hit the floor. A moment later, I asked, Are you up?
Yes, he spelled. Why?
I found the book and threw it away from us. My signs were large, reflecting my anger. You’re giving up! You’re giving up on us – on ME! You’re reading that book because you think I’ll never see again!
There was a long pause. I raised my hands to sign again, and felt them captured by his.
He just held them for a second, then turned one over. No, Blintz, he spelled slowly, deliberately. You’re wrong.
He blinked, and I released his hands. Wrong? he signed, none of his anger gone. How can I be wrong? Huggy even said it was what I thought it was!
One glance at Huggy, and it all suddenly made sense. Yes, I agreed, spelling fast into his palm. But I don’t think he realised you were thinking what you were thinking.
Hutch frowned and his fingers moved warily. Then why are you reading about dealing with blindness?
Remember that occupational therapist? When his nose wrinkled, I went on: Yeah, she sucked. So we’re getting you a new one. Me.
I blinked wildly in his direction. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! YOU? I signed broadly. It takes training – a lot of it! Which you don’t have! What makes you think you can--
His hands stilled mine and he spelled one word. Love.
I shook my head and pulled one hand free, spelling in the air. Starsky, I don’t understand.
I love you, brother, he spelled. We’ll learn together. We’ll be fine.
I shook my head again and pulled my hand free again.
He caught it again. Hutch. And there was warm determination in his touch. We’ll. Be. Fine.
And fine is just what they were.
I stood back and watched proudly as they learned together. Starsky befriended a kind occupational therapist and leaned on him more then once over the next few weeks.
One month to the day after their world was turned upside down, the phone at my house woke me. It was Starsky, jabbering so excitedly I couldn’t dig a word he was saying! Once he calmed down some, he told me Hutch could see light!
M’main silent one healed fast after that, and soon they were back on the street – where ‘Me and Thee’ belonged!
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