For some reason, it's Olivia he's thinking of when he walks out of Hackney police station.
There's something about being speechless while every plan he ever had unravels before his eyes that reminds him of his ex-wife. Hopefully, it's not labouring the point to say that was how she made him feel, at the beginning.
Olivia Tucker (nee Garin) has always been one of those women that doesn’t think much of men; even before she met and married Malcolm, that was true. A management consultant trained up in the NHS of all fucking places. Wealthy family, but smart enough to get out and find some independence. Malcolm has always assumed he was a part of that. It’s no surprise he was happy to be a fuck you to her euro-elitist parents.
Olivia. Oli. Which fucks Malcolm up whenever he’s around Oliver Arsewipe Reeder because that’s her name not this pipsqueak cunt’s name. He used to caress that name with his tongue, caress every part of her. Yes, he used his powers for good for once, to make her arc and shake beneath him. Lately, not so much.
They have two kids, two years apart. A girl, Etta, from when it was good, from when it was overwhelmingly sweet, so that it kind of made Malcolm sick in his mouth about it, fretting and overthinking it. He was always waiting for the other shoe to drop and watching for the light to go out behind Oli's eyes. Twisting and turning, dancing, and holding her tighter and tighter. It’s the one part of his life where his every strategy came to nothing.
Kurt is from when they were punishing each other, competing on how to land the worst blows, calculating who was going to crack first. Holding onto that knowledge of how to hurt each other and using it, turning the screws, tighter and tighter. Kurt was born into that, two weeks late and a breathless, plaintive wail, already asking how could they do this to him? Malcolm’s never hated himself more than the night his son was born.
He doesn’t see them, really. Not since the Nutters started to fight back. That was the beginning of the end. He used to get some time on the weekends, and maybe the odd evening. Nothing reliable. No school runs or football club pick-ups but some good drop ins. That used to piss Oli off like nothing else. St Daddy dropping by, Santa down the chimney to sweep up the kids and leave her with the sugar highs and the clean up. But the kids loved it. Unexpected treats and grand gestures to cover up the huge well of emotional fucking absence. It’s not something you quit for; that’s a line for the tossers who can’t make it in politics, whose fuck ups are non-recoverable. “Oh I just woke up this morning with the most urgent need to finger paint and make Papier-mâché turds rather than run the country, I’m sure you understand.”
It’s not like he had a choice in the matter when Oli walked out and took the kids. She did him a favour in calling it quits. Seeing each other every night and first thing every morning was poisoning them both. Non-verbalised recrimination in every sour look and every flattened lip. The kids were walking on eggshells without even realising it, looking scared from one parent to the other, wondering who was going to start shouting first. Drug addictions and therapy bills were flashing before Malcolm’s eyes as he looked at his 4 year old son. This way is better. A happier mother and a magnanimous father bestowing affection liberally in the form of midnight adventures in ministerial vehicles and dinners with no main courses, only puddings.
Long term it probably wasn’t a sound arrangement but it was working for them in the critical post-divorce years until somehow his hold on the job loosened and he wasn’t the feared and despised despot of Westminster anymore. The slide downward was slow and yet inexorable, his fingers in the ever-widening dam of ineptitude were getting sliced off and shoved up his arsehole never to be recovered. He stopped sleeping more than 2 hours at a time and ate only when Sam brought him food (so never as more than a distracted side-issue). He dressed smart because fuck it he still liked clothes and he felt better able to conduct the apocalypse from the understated but unrediculable end of fashion spectrum.
The long and the short of it is, he’s gone months without seeing his kids. He’s been too consumed playing nanny to Nicola fucking Murray and lubing up the press and the piss-ant politicos with minimal prospects to be a dad.
This is what he is thinking about when he walks into the police station to get himself arrested, and what he’s thinking about when he decides not to dignify the rabid media hoard with a comment. It’s why he doesn’t throw his phone out the window but brings up Etta’s number instead. He stares at the digits he doesn’t know off by heart, suddenly terrified that 11 years old is close enough to a teenager that she might not pick up to her absentee dad.
He has a plan, he has a shit hot lawyer, he has too much dirt on every layer of government to be allowed to go to prison to write his memoirs. There’s no convention of collective ministerial responsibility binding Malcolm Tucker’s tongue, there never has been, but up until now he’s really only been using his powers for good. That’s what they never understood, the fuckwitted spineless ministers sweating in the newsnight spotlights as they line up to masturbate over his political corpse. He’d got into this to get government functioning again, that’s what they didn’t understand. That’s why he was so fucking pissed off all the fucking time. What’s the point of power if you can’t do anything real with it? Why be so loyal to such a tired, beaten-up old ruin of a party if you don’t think there’s something fundamentally sound down at the bottom of their hollowed out ideology? Malcom the Misunderstood, that’s him and it’ll all be coming out in hardback at £14.99 a pop over Christmas if people aren’t careful at this juncture. His ass is fully covered. He knows that. They should all know that at least. And if not, then fuck dignity, he’ll need that cash for Etta and Kurt to blow at university after all.
He’s so tired and he’s so fucking disillusioned. He’s pathetic.
He looks at his phone and tries to summon up the mental fortitude he needs to press call. There’s a family out there that he’s barely managed to see in the last two years and he owes them some time. If he starts now there’s a chance, someday in the future, he’ll be an actual, functioning, person again. If he’s lucky, it’s not too fucking late.