Because He Is Loved
“Why is this man alive?” I asked myself walking slowly back to my office, exhaustion filling every part of me. “He should be dead, the poison was all over his body; organs shutting down, pulse and respiration getting weaker. Even with Hutchinson bringing the antidote in at the very last minute, Detective Starsky should be dead. But, he isn’t, he’s alive…why?”
I finally make it to my office, a refuge from the drama of death and life. Its dark out, I don’t even know the time. The moon is full as I stand there staring at it, rubbing my tired eyes and reliving the past 48 hours in vivid detail.
Detective Hutchinson had brought his partner, Detective Starsky, in well past the 10pm deadline we had discussed earlier. The dark-haired man was calm and peaceful, accepting what was about to happen to him.
His partner, on the other hand, wasn’t anywhere near accepting of the pending death knell. He was holding Starsky’s hand, agitated with him for killing someone named Bellamy yet cajoling him to stay awake.
I pulled Hutchinson to the side while they transferred Starsky to a bed, hooking him up to IV’s and monitors. Starsky was dying, I could tell by the sound of his heart and the look on his partner’s face. My intention was to berate the blond detective, demand to know why he acted so foolishly and didn’t bring his partner in sooner. Did this man care so little that he let would let Starsky stay out so long?
But, I stopped as soon as I saw the look of despair and hopelessness on Hutchinson’s face and realized how wrong I was. He did care very much for his friend… who was dying before his eyes. And I knew that if Starsky died, a large part of the man in front of me would die with him.
“What happened out there Hutchinson?” I asked, trying to see if something, however small had happened that would bring some hope.
“He shot him,” Hutchinson mumbled, looking over my shoulder to Starsky. Even then, I knew Starsky was looking back at him, their unspoken connection speaking volumes.
“What are you talking about Detective, who shot who? Were you able to find the person who injected Detective Starsky?” I hated to be so callous talking to him like this, but I needed to know right away if they had found anything.
Focusing back on me he replied, “Starsky, he shot Bellamy. The man who could tell us what we needed to know, Starsky shot him.” The hopelessness in Hutchinson’s voice was deep and soulful – like looking into a well with no bottom.
“Why?” I asked in amazement.
Again, looking over my shoulder to his friend, Hutchinson answered quietly, almost reverently. “To save my life, Dr. Franklin. Bellamy was going to shoot me, Starsky killed him to save me.”
Starsky moaned quietly and Hutchinson brushed past me, forgotten in his quest to be with his friend. I watched as he held Starsky’s hand tightly, trying to absorb his partner’s pain and anguish.
“Doctor, he’s ready to be transported to ICU,” a nurse informed me as I was trying to understand the sacrifice made that night. Killing this man Bellamy had, in effect, killed Starsky.
With a nod, I instructed the techs to start the move. Unless a miracle occurred, Detective Starsky would be dead in two hours.
But, the miracle did arrive. In the form of a blond hurricane rushing through the hospital carrying a vial as if it were a newborn baby, the vial of life for Starsky in his hands. Under any other circumstances, I wouldn’t have thought this was possible. But, I was beginning to realize that these two did not fall under normal circumstances.
Quickly, the lab analyzed and created an antidote, which was administered with just a small bit of time to spare.
Then…the real battle began.
Starsky was literally at death’s door. His organs were shutting down, his pulse was low, his respiration shallow. He was having convulsions, deliriums, and a fever that reached the 104 level. His body was fighting the poison. The antidote was helping, but it wasn’t enough. It was too late, the poison had overtaken and would not let go, like an octopus, its arms circling and tightening around Starsky.
But, none of us--doctors, nurses, technicians, the octopus, even death itself--had thought of Hutchinson and the power he had over it all.
Hutchinson never left Starsky. When we had all given up, Hutchinson refused to give up. Hutchinson fought like a madman.
That man spent the next 48 hours talking, holding, coaxing, and demanding that his partner fight and not give up. Even during the worst of the seizures when we needed to be at Starsky’s side, Hutchinson wouldn’t leave him. He would go to the end of the bed, hold his foot, caress his leg, always touching, always speaking, always letting Starsky knew he was there for him.
Twice Starsky coded, his heart just not able to keep up the fight. Twice he was shocked back to life, electricity and friendship working together, keeping Starsky from death’s door one more time.
And then, a peace and calm filled the room. Hutchinson, exhausted beyond measure, knew before any of us. He knew Starsky would live, he was the first person Starsky saw when his tired eyes opened. Starsky was alive.
I’ve been a doctor for over 20 years, been in emergency medicine for over five. I’ve seen unexplained miracles, I’ve seen explained miracles, I’ve seen so much. But, never have I seen the power of true friendship and love…until now.
So, here I sit in my office, exhausted and exhilarated as I’ve never been before. I’ve witnessed something miraculous here, but there’s one small piece missing to this puzzle. The reality is that David Starsky should be dead. Even with the antidote, the work the staff and I did with him, he should be dead. But, he isn’t. He’s alive, weak but alive…why?
I feel the need to check on them once more. And I realized that some time ago I had stopped thinking of just Starsky as my one patient. I had two men to take care of, because without one, there would not be the other.
The room is quiet as I enter, only the soft whirring and beeping of machines breaking the peace. There’s a chair in the corner. I sit and I watch them sleep. A peacefulness fills the room, like the soft silver glow of the full moon.
Starsky calls out quietly, a dream breaking the peaceful moment. I don’t even move toward the still very sick detective, for I know Hutchinson will be there.
And, sure enough, out of the shadows, he appears. Gently, he strokes Starsky’s face, holding his hand, letting his friend know he’s there. Starsky opens his eyes and looks at Hutchinson. No words to be said between them for none need to be said.
Suddenly, I remember another time when this happened.
Where, thru unspoken words, they spoke to each other…
Starsky lay on a gurney, death hovering above him, waiting to claim one more victim. Hutchinson bent over close to his friend, trying to breathe some of his life into Starsky. I watched in awe as the two spoke with only their eyes, spoke of a love and friendship that would never be separated – not even by death. With that one look and slight shake of his head, Starsky let Hutchinson know that he would always be with his friend…his brother…his pal…forever.
…and I knew the answer to my question
…a simple and powerful answer
He is loved…Starsky is alive…because he is loved.