One last bit to stick on. Make sure there’s not too much glue. Don’t use so much the fumes get to you. Like a guy would do that. John Rutland looked at the model his Dad brought him the last time he visited. It was a good boat and John was very proud to be able to put it together all by himself. Now, it had to dry before he could show it to Mum and … and … Dad. His other Dad. He wished his real dad was there to show it to now. But he wasn’t. Grown-ups were funny like that. Dad and Mum didn’t like each other any more so they didn’t live together. He had a couple of friends at school who were in the same boat. He grinned at that. But his Dad was the best of the lot. He had a big movie studio to play in. That was really great, loads of fun.
John read a book while he waited for the glue to dry on the model sailboat, but his thoughts kept returning to why his Mum and Dad weren’t together and why he was called Rutland instead of Straker. He knew his step-dad had done something to make him a Rutland, but he didn’t quite know what. Mum had explained it once, but it sounded silly to him. If he was Ed Straker’s son, why wasn’t he John Straker? It wasn’t as though he didn’t know his real dad or that Ed Straker was some sort of horrible monster that he couldn’t be known to; his Dad was a good man. They laughed a lot when they were together.
Only his Mum didn’t laugh and his other Dad certainly didn’t laugh. Well, not about his real Dad, anyway. His other Dad was glum whenever his real Dad came to get him and bring him back. Sometimes John wondered if his Mum still liked his real Dad. Only that didn’t make any sense either. Why would they not be married anymore if she liked him? It made his head swim the way too much glue did to think about that.
He checked the glue to see if it was dry enough to go show his Mum. Yep, it was. Carefully, he gathered up the model and took it down the stairs to where Mum was sitting reading. Her pale eyes looked up and she smiled at him.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“It’s the boat Dad gave me. It’s all together now. Isn’t she a beauty?” He glowed with his accomplishment.
The front door opened and his other Dad came in from work. John looked around with a smile. Dad looked at him and at the model, his face stern and unwelcoming. John sighed and took the hint that he should put the boat away. None of the models he put together, by himself or with his Dad’s help, seemed to please the man. John wondered why he gave his name if he really didn’t care that much about him.
“It’s a lovely boat,” his Mum said, but she was frowning at Dad.
John scurried upstairs. He knew that look and didn’t want them to argue again about him and his real Dad. Why did they have to make it so tough? He set the model on its stand and stepped back. Yep, it looked really good. He’d show it to his real Dad the next time he came to pick him up. That would be great. He heard the voices rise from downstairs and threw himself on the bed, retrieving the book he’d started. It would be a while before they finished. He’d just stay up here until someone called him for dinner.
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I love John in this story. He is quite clearly a young boy, with the confused emotions of a child who doesn’t really understand the situation in which he has found himself. There are some very poignant moments in the story, which hint that perhaps all is not as happy as it could be in Mary’s marriage to Rutland, but the story focuses on John and his pride in his accomplishment. The little touch about his ‘other Dad’ with the stern and unwelcoming face reinforces John’s utter devotion to Straker, and sets the scene for the events in Question of Priorities. Thank you for such an intimate look at John. That small detail at the end, when he throws himself on his bed to read his book, shows us a John Straker who is developing a maturity beyond his years. A delightful story, dragon, yet also heartbreaking in its telling.
i thought this was a very nice story, it could stand on it’s own without the ufo references as a little boy confused about divorce and remarriage, and i also thought that it was smooth and readable. it also had elements that if the whole thing was shot with the actors, it could be put in the tv episode and fit right in. jim