I never liked taking
my young son, Ben, along on business trips, as he was at that tireless,
inquisitive age whereby everything is either boring or fascinating. But Ben’s
father - a handyman - was working all weekend and the regional office had
a creche, so I decided to turn the trip into a weekend break. The hotel in
Atlanta, Georgia was pretty, but past it’s best - the sort of place with lots of
empty rooms. The polite young guy on reception took a shine to us, and gave us
the penthouse suite at the regular room-rate, since no-one was using it.
The suite was huge: two bedrooms and a lounge; plenty of
space for Ben to play whilst I worked on my presentation which nobody would
“Misser Duck’s in here, mommy!” He ran out of the bathroom,
I barely looked up from my ancient laptop. “You mean ‘Mr.
Duck’, sweetie?” He couldn’t pronounce his ‘T’s.
“Misser Duck, Misser Duck!” he was bouncing with glee. “He’s
sayin’ fings! Come see, mommy!”
I said I’d go look later, pleased he’d made a friend to
amuse himself, even if it was imaginary. “But ducks don’t ‘say’ things, honey.
They quack! So why don’t you quack back?”
I became so engrossed in my stupid project that I didn’t
notice it was growing dark outside. Ben’s giggles from the lounge spurred me to
shut my laptop and call him in.
“I’ll order us some food, buddy. Sorry mommy’s not been much
“S’ OK, mommy. Misser duck’s been quack-quack-quacking! He
This made me smile, although I wondered what had brought a
duck to mind, as we were about as far from any pond as possible. That night,
Ben insisted he sleep alone in the adjoining bedroom; I agreed as he’d been so
well-behaved all evening. I heard him whispering softly until late, and figured
he was excited about being away from home and making a new, make-believe
friend. I imagined hearing faint, raspy “quacks” echoing as I drifted off to
sleep, and gentle duck footsteps somewhere above me.
The next morning I found Ben curled up under his bed in a
“Whatever’s the matter, sweetheart? Doesn’t Mister Duck want
to play, today?”
“Misser duck lef’ me all alone. He liked seein’ you sleep
I felt a draft on the back of my neck, and looked up to see
the ancient ventilation shaft above the head of Ben’s bed, missing its grill
cover. I rushed back into my room to find an identical set-up. As I peered into
the black passageway, just big enough to fit a person, it dawned on me that
Ben’s dad would have taught him the word “duct”, as he was forever fixing them
in our apartment block. I’d noticed similar shafts in the suite’s bathroom and
“You lookin’ for
Misser Duck? S’ OK, Mommy. He quacked me where we lived, so I quacked him our
Not actually smutty, but not exactly innocent either. Nothing with Malcolm is. Take that as you will.
That, in itself, isn’t new.
The cause of his irritation, on the other hand, is unprecedented and, frankly, baffling.
He glares at the offending item laying insolently on his desk, and runs his hands down his face. It’s stupid, all of it. Fucking ridiculous. He’s Malcolm fucking Tucker, he’s important, he hasn’t got time for this horse shit.
“Mister Tucker?” Rose asks, ducking her head into his office, and he scoops the thing out of sight hurriedly.
“What, what is it?” he snaps.
“Treasury’s waiting for the draft of that memo,” she said calmly, arching an eyebrow. “And Ollie’s asking to speak to you. Again.”
“Oh for Christ’s sake! Tell him I went to Majorca.”
“You were on television this morning.”
“Then tell him I fucking died, I don’t care,” he growls as he shuffles through the papers on his desk to find the memo. “Tell him, if he wants to talk to me, to get out a fucking Ouija board, cause he’ll have better luck with that.”
After this, there’s only one more chapter left of this fic. This update is over 17,000 words long so it’s a doozy. Next chapter ends our journey and wraps everything up, so if you think I missed something in this chapter, it’ll be in the next one.
If there was one thing Burt Hummel was incredibly good at, it was being a dad.
Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but he did a damn good job with what he had. Raising a son as a single father for as long as he did wasn’t something he ever imagined, but he did his best. Whenever he looked at his grown son now, he had to give himself a pat on the back. Fatherhood was rough, but Kurt made it through his tough teen years with only his father’s help. Now Kurt was a responsible adult and an overall good kid, so Burt considered that an achievement. Unfortunately though, no matter how old Kurt got, he’d always need his dad. Always… and in that moment in time, his little boy needed his dad’s help.