Any Day Now
Got to kick at the darkness ‘till it bleeds daylight. ~Bruce Cockburn
Here’s what you know.
You know that most days are good days. On a good day you can see for miles, and the view is 360 degrees of terrific. You’ve
got a fast car, and a great partner, and all the pretty girls are smiling at you.
Once in a while, though, a day just goes bad. On a bad day, there’s nothing to see ahead or behind. The sun might
as well have stayed in bed, for all the good it does you.
Today is a bad day.
Your wrists are locked in your own cuffs and looped over a pipe in the ceiling. That’s your biggest problem –
it’s the reason why you can’t just kick and punch and fight your way out of this mess. But the little things
are just as bad in their own way. Your back is killing you. Not literally. Not yet. But it really hurts. And there’s
blood running down the inside of your left arm. It's annoying as hell.
Your head is hurting. Not just in the spot behind your right ear where you got smacked with the two-by-four, but all over,
because that part-time drug dealer –
Your mind wanders off track at this point, tripping over details. Part-time drug dealer, part time leg breaker, rumored to
have good connections. And the job was to get to know him, get under his defenses...
None of that matters now that your cover's been blown. Now that you’re cuffed to the guy’s basement plumbing.
From here on out, you decide to think of him as The Bastard, since this guy sure as hell isn’t worthy of the name his
mother gave him and his father never stuck around long enough to learn.
Your head hurts, too, because the Bastard’s got his fist tangled in your hair and he’s pulling hard. And –
just a point of note – your neck is also aching. Which makes the Bastard literally a pain in the neck, and you tell
yourself that, when this is all over, you might even laugh about that.
But probably not.
Because there are a few details you’ve left out of this picture. Such as the fact that your jeans are down around your
ankles, and you can feel the Bastard’s cock pressing up against your hip, and you know what’s going to happen
next, but you’re really hoping it won’t.
Any moment now, Hutch is going to break down that door, and it won’t happen.
It can’t happen.
Because things like this don’t happen to guys like you, not even on a bad day.
You’d been debating with yourself which bits you’d like to cut off the Bastard first, his fingers or his cock,
but there’s no question now. Because the Bastard is slamming you up against the wall, his weight is pressing you into
the plaster, and his breath is hot and it stinks. You’re struggling to breathe, but the Bastard’s hairy gut is
pressed into your lower back, and please no...
There’s no last minute rescue. You feel something tear inside and the agony makes it impossible to think.
Whatever light was left in your day – all wrapped in bright hopes of Hutch saving you at the last minute – vanishes.
All you can do now is retreat inside your own head, curl up small, and keep on breathing.
Most days are good days.
Just not this one.
Hutch does rescue you, though he’s a little late.
You don’t blame him for that. You know he would have shown up sooner, if there’d been any way at all. You know,
even, that he would have volunteered to be strung up on that basement wall in your place, if he could have.
No, the problem right now is that he's constantly in your way. All you want to do is get past your bad day and back to the
good ones, but every time you take a step forward you’re bumping into Hutch.
It starts with the moment he kicks down the door and blows the Bastard away, quite literally right off your back.
There’s not much left after a .44 bullet impacts with a human skull, but you don’t mind the gray matter in your
hair. What you mind is the fact that Hutch killed the Bastard; you had plans of your own.
They weren’t very complex. In fact, at the precise moment Hutch killed the Bastard, your plans had consisted of trying
to see how many parts of the Bastard’s body you could remove and feed to him while he still lived. But you’re
sure you could've come up with something much more imaginative, given half the chance.
Hutch took that away from you. You won’t ever get the satisfaction of seeing fear in the Bastard’s eyes.
And it doesn’t get any better after that. While Dobey and Internal Affairs are busy sweeping the whole shit-storm under
the carpet, and the doctors and nurses are talking in vague euphemisms, Hutch is hovering. Every time you open your eyes,
there’s Hutch parked right beside your hospital bed.
You’re not okay, but you’re doing your best to get there, and it pisses you off that he won’t go along with
the plan and pretend that you’re succeeding. Even the psychologist is willing to just check the boxes and move along.
But not Hutch. Every time you tell him you’re fine, he gives you the look that says he knows you’re not.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” you tell him.
“You can’t keep it all locked up inside,” he says.
“Sure I can. Watch me!”
“It’s not healthy,” he persists.
You decide you’d cope better without his help. Trouble is, you don’t seem to be able to get rid of him.
You call him “turkey” and “moron” and worse. You insult everything from his watch to his car to his
incompetent mother-henning. Hutch just sits there with the corners of his mouth drawn down and never says a word in his own
defense. Even when you resort to throwing things at him, in a last-ditch attempt to get a proper response out of him, he
just cleans up the mess and rings for a replacement meal.
You don’t know much, but you know you’re missing the Hutch of sunny days, the one who is smug, and sometimes cruel.
The one who would kick your cane right out from under you, just for laughs. That Hutch wouldn’t put up with
the way you’re behaving right now.
That Hutch would kick your ass.
But your ass has already been thoroughly kicked, not to mention ripped and stitched back together, and so there won’t
be any harsh words from Hutch today.
You’ve never felt so alone in your life.
Eventually, the hospital lets you go. You find yourself sitting on a pillow in Hutch’s car, clutching a large bag of
prescription medicines. There’s painkillers and antibiotics and stool softeners. While Hutch drives, you read over
the instructions again. Twice a day, morning and evening, with food or without, and symptoms to watch out for.
It’s comforting. It’s something you can handle yourself. A nice, routine set of tasks, which, if you complete
them all properly, and always assuming your blood tests come back clean, means that you’ll soon be able to forget all
about this latest bad day.
By the time the car stops, the printed instructions are blurring and all you can think about is climbing the stairs to your
front door and collapsing into your bed. You’re vaguely aware of Hutch following close on your heels, but you can’t
summon the energy to tell him to go away.
Pills first. Food. Then bed.
You’re turning toward the kitchen when you bump into Hutch, literally bouncing off his chest. The contact feels like
an electric shock to nerves already scraped raw, and you freeze, struggling to regain your equilibrium.
“You should sit down.” He's looking worried.
It takes you a moment to find the words, but you finally manage to croak, “I’m fine!”
“I know you’re not fine, Starsky. If you want to talk about it...”
He’s doing it again. Making you feel screwed up inside. But you’re not screwed up. It’s just a bad day.
It’ll be over soon. All you need to do is take your pills and go to bed and when you wake up in the morning, you know
things'll be better.
“I’m fine!” Stomping into the kitchen, you yank open one of the cupboards. “Where the hell are all
Hutch opens the next cupboard over – the right cupboard – and takes out a mug. “You’re not
fine,” he says. “You were raped.”
You turn on your heel and punch him, right on the nose.
Hutch staggers, and trips, landing on his rear. The mug he’s holding hits the floor and doesn't even break. It fucking
And all of a sudden you realize you’ve made a mistake. A bad mistake. Because there’s a pain in Hutch’s
eyes that has absolutely nothing to do with the blood that’s starting collect on his upper lip.
“Oh, hell!” You don’t know what to do. Except... apologize. A lot. And grab that dishcloth from the
Hutch is just sitting there on the floor with his hand over his face, shock quickly giving way to open confusion. It’s
the first time you’ve really looked at him since... Well, since. And what you see now is a guy with a rumpled
shirt and a drawn, tired face. A guy who has been hurting for a long time, and who doesn’t expect it to get any better
any time soon. And you’re painfully aware that you’re the source of that pain.
“Here, take this,” you tell him, pressing the damp cloth over his face. “I’ll get you some ice.”
Hutch makes a noise, like he’s trying to protest, but the dishcloth muffles his words enough that pretending you don’t
understand is easy. You empty the ice tray into a bag. “Hold this over your nose. You’ll feel better in a moment.”
“Starsky, what the hell are you doing?”
Now that actually sounds like Hutch. A pissy Hutch, true, but much more recognizable than the tender, too-careful
Hutch of earlier. You’re ridiculously happy to have him back.
“I’m fixing your nose?”
“If I say it again, are you going to hit me again?”
For a moment you’re not sure what he’s talking about. Then it all comes back and you sag, defeated. Suddenly
you’re feeling all your aches and pains, and it’s worse now that you can’t even be mad at him any more.
“I’m sorry I hit you.”
Hutch’s eyes are very sober as he looks at you over the top of the ice pack. “I know you’d rather pretend
it didn’t happen, but it did. You were raped.”
It feels like he just punched you back, right in the gut. You struggle to breathe. “Fuck.”
“Pretty much,” Hutch says. “Are you going to talk about it?”
Your legs are feeling shaky, but there’s nothing inviting about the hard kitchen chairs. You lean on the counter instead.
“I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Hutch sighs and tips his head back, until he’s looking up at the ceiling, the ice balanced on his face. “Just
talk to me, Starsk. Tell me why you’re so angry with me.”
“I’m not angry.”
His head rolls slightly to the side and one blue eye regards you dubiously. “Is it because I didn’t get there
in time?” His tone is calm, but his voice cracks slightly when he says ‘in time.’
Yeah, he’s hurting all right. You wonder why you hadn’t noticed earlier how much he’s hurting. Hutch is
blaming himself, because he couldn’t stop that...
...that thing. That happened. To you.
Okay, so Hutch can say it, and you know you won’t hit him for saying it. Again, anyway. But you’re still not
going to even think the words.
So instead you say, “It wasn’t your fault.” You carefully lower yourself to the kitchen floor, trying not
to wince as your weight settles on your rear. “You saved my life.” Honest to God, you’re sure you can
count each and every stitch by the way it pulls. You don’t want to think about what your first real dump is going to
Hutch straightens and looks over at you.
“I’m not mad at you,” you tell him. Anymore, is the rest of what you don’t say. “I’m
just having a bad day.”
It’s easy to see you've surprised him. His eyes widen. “You call this a bad day?”
“It sure as hell ain’t a good day.”
The funny side of that hits him, and the beginning of a smile tugs at the corner of his mouth.
“C’mon,” he says, “Let’s get up off the floor.”
You’ve had your eyes opened, in a manner of speaking. You watch closely as Hutch goes about getting you settled into
bed with a snack, a glass of water and your pills. You see the way his shoulders are bowed, as if he’s laboring under
a heavy weight. And you can’t miss the way his tired eyes light up, the blue brightening for a moment, when you try
a smile out on him.
It makes you feel like a world class heel.
That’s the other thing about bad days. Sometimes you get so focused on your own misery that you forget other people
might be having a bad day, too.
You grab Hutch’s shirt, before he can leave the bedroom. “Stay here.”
He looks a bit hesitant, so you give his shirt an emphatic tug. “I’m sorry I was such an asshole.” You
see him flinch and amend that quickly. “Uh, I mean a grouch.” It’s probably best not to mention asses
for awhile. It’s a sore topic.
In more ways than one. God, you crack yourself up sometimes.
“Like you said, you had a bad day,” says Hutch, as he sits down on the edge of the bed. “It’s okay
to be pissed off.” It seems he’s now willing to use your words for it, and you’re grateful for that. It
sounds so much better than what he was saying before. And it’s just as true, if not more so.
“Yeah, but I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
He shrugs at that. He’s still on the edge of the bed, as if he doesn’t know where to go next.
You try again, pulling the covers back invitingly and patting the bed. “Partners aren't punching bags.” Maybe
you can get that tattooed across your knuckles for the next time you’re tempted to hit him.
Not that there'll be a next time. Because things like this just don’t happen to guys like you.
Except when they do.
You’re still going around in mental circles, trying to figure out how something that can’t happen did happen,
when Hutch finally sighs and lies down next to you – fully clothed and on top of the covers. You suspect he’s
trying to be sensitive, but it isn’t necessary. It’s not like you’d ever mistake him for the Bastard.
Not even in the dark. Not even if everyone was naked, in the dark.
“You can hit me back tomorrow, if you like,” you offer.
Hutch’s laugh sounds a more like a sob, and he covers his face with his hands. “Christ, Starsky. How do you
Shit. He’s actually crying, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes and breathing noisily through his banged
up nose as he struggles not to give himself away. He’s trying so damn hard, it just about breaks your heart.
He's trying to roll away now. Probably figures he can go hide in the bathroom with the water running. Ignoring the protests
from various parts of your body, you grab his shoulder and tug him back. It’s all the encouragement he needs. He turns
toward you like a kid wanting a hug, all incoherent need and terror.
Poor guy. Of course he’s falling apart. His partner just got raped.
You pull him in and make comforting noises and pet the back of his head, where the hair is getting damp with sweat.
Tomorrow Hutch is going to want to talk. Hutch is all about talking. He’s into that crap about group therapy and psychological
What he doesn’t understand, and what you’re going to have to explain, is that the best place for a bad day is
in the past. This day is over and done with, and tomorrow when you wake up, it’ll be a good day. You car will purr
beneath you and the girls will smile at you, and if it’s only 180 degrees of terrific, that’s okay for now. You
know better than to look back. All that’s behind you is darkness and rage, and Hutch doesn’t deserve any of that.
You know you’re right about this. It was a bad day, but it’s over now. The only thing you did wrong was forget
to look out for him, and you won’t make that mistake again.
Reaching over Hutch’s head, you turn out the light.