"Congratulations," the note read. "Your fabulous powers of observation have paid off again. This note entitles you to the David Starsky prize—a kiss from the David Starsky of your choice, a kiss from the man who adores you. Your prize is payable on demand, so ask already!
Short, sweet, loving as always. Hutch crumpled the note and pressed his forehead against the cool window. He'd found it tucked into a box under some blankets in the window seat—a typically Starsky place to hide his love-notes. The old familiar ache threatened to overwhelm Hutch. Three years . . . and he was still finding the damn things all over the house. How many had Starsky written in their years together?
"Goddamn you, Starsk," he choked. "I miss you so much."
He was learning to live alone and most of the time it wasn't so bad, but sometimes, at night, reaching out to the empty place in the bed—these notes—Starsky's face in shifting images, mind pictures made crazy by the ebb and flow of time: child/man, sweet lover. Hutch's mouth dropped open in a cry of unutterable anguish.
Oh, my love, bring back my love. . . . A litany of aloneness. Bring back my love, my beautiful beast, my beauty, my lover, my partner—
The moment passed as the sun warmed his cold face, and the old man sighed heavily. Forty years of loving would never be lost, but sometimes the world seemed so empty. He uncrumpled the note gently and read it again, smiling with a bittersweet sadness.
I'll stay a little longer because you asked me to.
The note was put away with all the others—all, since the first so many years before; patient reminders of Starsky's love, his passion, his everlasting delight in Hutch.
I am an old man and the world is so cold.
He watched the sun slither out of sight behind a row of trees, then remembered the blankets. It was cold in the big bed these days.