The 5 Stages of Grief, Redux
Death ends a life, not a relationship. ~ Jack Lemmon
“It’s discrimination!” Hutch slapped the medical report down. “Starsky’s as fit as he ever
Starsky’s head fell forward onto his chest. Hutch sat him back up and wiped off the drool.
“Don’t tell me about discrimination,” roared Dobey. “If the doctors say he’s dead, then he’s
dead! I won’t have dead cops in my department!”
“Captain, ‘dead’ is such an ugly word. Besides, he’s not dead. He just doesn’t have a pulse.
Dobey’s scream interrupted Hutch’s moment of neologistic innovation. As he hauled Starsky off Dobey’s twitching
corpse he reflected there was always a way around regulations.
“Sexual harassment charges?” Hutch couldn’t believe his ears.
“Starsky’s career is finished!” Simonetti smiled viciously. “We have three eye-witnesses who saw
him attack Minnie.”
“Starsky’s not a rapist!”
“He bit her on the ass!”
“He was flirting and unless Minnie says otherwise, you don’t have a case!”
Victorious, Hutch dragged Starsky out of the room. In the hallway, he shook him – carefully. Hutch didn’t want
to break any more bits off, now that Starsky was down to three fingers.
“What have I told you about eating our friends?”
Starsky’s eyes rolled and he groaned. Hutch took it as an apology.
That night, Hutch sat Starsky down for a talk.
Starsky promptly fell over. Hutch wedged him in place with a spare pillow.
“The problem,” said Hutch, “is that you keep eating people we like.”
Starsky began gnawing on the pillow.
“And you don’t eat people we don’t like! Though I wouldn’t appreciate the taste of Simonetti, either.”
Starsky appeared confused by the pillow’s contents. Hutch pried open his jaw and started removing feathers.
“So I’m sorry, buddy, but you’ll have to be leashed. Okay? I promise I’ll let you eat bad guys.”
Starsky didn’t object. He never did, these days.
“We never talk anymore.”
Starsky didn’t acknowledge him. He was hanging out the window of the Torino, snapping at looters.
“I feel like something’s missing.” Hutch noticed the brake pedal wasn’t going all the way down to
the floor. He stopped the car and discovered an ear jammed underneath. It wasn’t Starsky’s.
“Maybe it’s just a lack of job satisfaction.” Herding the Criminally Undead into Parker Center’s
cells had turned into an exercise not unlike packing university students into a telephone booth. But less fun.
Starsky flailed at a man stealing a TV.
“At least you’re still happy,” said Hutch.
The Minnesota fall air was crisp. Starsky shambled determinedly toward a clump of bushes near the lake. Hutch waited, patiently,
his rifle at the ready. A moment later there was a rustle and a rabbit broke cover.
Hutch fired. The rabbit somersaulted, and died.
He decided to let Starsky have it. After placing Best in Show, his partner deserved a treat.
Sure, folks had said he shouldn’t have been allowed to compete, but that was just blatant discrimination. So what if
Starsky wasn’t a dog, or even – technically – alive? He pointed like a champion.
“Life is good,” said Hutch, content.