Today kicks off the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and my theme is going to be some of my favorite characters. Be they villains, heroes, or in between, they’re all characters I love writing and feel are three-dimensional people, realistic people you might know or have heard about. People like timewarped, unintentionally hilarious Daphne, angry, bitter teen Hungarian Shoah survivor Kálmán, Black Pride feminist Marjani, and materialistic, self-absorbed rich girl Portia. Each entry will have a few paragraphs telling a little bit about the character, and then there will be some scenes and/or lines in the character’s own words, demonstrating his or her personality and where s/he’s coming from. We’re starting off with Allen. (My original outline had Ambidexterity as my kick-off topic, but I figured, since handedness is one of my passions anyway, I can write about that anytime!)
Name: Allen Théodore Troy
Date of birth: D-Day (6 June 1944, if you don’t know the exact date).
Place of birth: Manhattan
Year I created him: 1993. The book was taken out of hiatus and started from scratch and memory in 2010.
Role: Main character, Not Protagonist
Allen is the third of nine children of the heinous Antoine Norbert (Nor-BEHR) Troy and Dolores Beulah Goossens Troy of the Lower East Side. Not only is he born into generational poverty, but he also has to deal with the shame of not having a veteran for a father. Mr. Troy flunked his medical and psychological tests because of his drug and alcohol use. When he’s thirteen, he makes his sexual debut with an 18-year-old woman who invites him up to her place and teaches him some things, and when he’s about fourteen, he starts smoking, drinking, and using drugs like his parents and older brother Carlos.
Allen is never as heavy of a user as the others, and his drug of choice is the relatively innocuous pot. He was a much heavier, more serious user in the discontinued original first draft of many years ago. Now he mainly only uses as an easy, reliable out from the tough life he’s been dealt, and he longs to someday make good and go clean, for the sake of his little sisters. After having a scare after taking too much cocaine (when he’s luckily already in the hospital, soon after Carlos’s paralyzing accident), he realizes something has to change, and after he’s discharged, he quits everything, even smoking, cold turkey. Soon after, he moves Emeline, Adicia, and Justine into his new West Village apartment.
When their black-hearted mother gets out of prison, Allen is unable to keep his sisters with him in spite of his valiant efforts, but he never stops looking out for them over the years. They frequently come over to visit with him, and he’s the one stable, loving adult in their family. He’s more of a father to them than their own father, and his eventual wife Lenore is also a mother figure to them. When Adicia finally grows up, he has a hard time seeing her as a real grownup and accepting her convenience marriage of sorts to Ricky, but eventually, he comes around and realizes that this is the real deal, that Ricky truly loves Adicia and isn’t the limousine liberal Allen assumed he was. Family is the most important thing to him, and he’d never do anything to jeopardize the loving relationship he’s always shared with his sisters. They’re all they have, since they don’t have any decent extended family, and their parents are a disgrace to parenthood.
Just a small sampling of favorite and representative Allen lines:
“That’s why someone’s gotta be there to spot for cops. We don’t even need a boat. I’ll just sit on the dock or the wharf and reel it in. At least give me credit for having a fishing rod. Some people have to catch fish with their hands. I even took out the reel and moved it to the left-hand side so I could reel with my stronger hand.”
“Sometimes I wanna kill myself just for living in this tenement,” Allen says. “But unlike you, other people depend on me to help take care of them.”
“At least I’m not higher than a kite as much as you and Carlos! I like the buzz as much as any of you, but we’re still gonna be lacking decent food when the mood passes.”
“I’d care if I got a girl in trouble,” Allen says. “Though I hope that never happens until I find someone who’s marriage material and not just someone to have fun with for a little while.”
“Are you crazy?” Allen demands. “The money you spent on this little brat’s presents could’ve been used to pay our utilities or buy higher-quality groceries! What does a three-year-old even need with a football or Lincoln Logs?”
“I don’t think you’re second-class citizens, even if I am a guy,” Allen protests, putting Justine down so she can try walking again. “You’ve got the power to bring life into the world, which I don’t have. And I think onea the things going for me with the girls is that I have six sisters. When they hear that, they’re like flies to honey.”
Allen stares at her in disbelief. “You’ve been embezzling? Don’t you know they could lock you up if they discover you’ve been committing a crime? And don’t you think it’s really alarming when a guy that age talks about how he loves teenage girls? If I had a teenage daughter, I wouldn’t introduce her to a creep like that, let alone suggest he can marry her!”
“I’ve been without drugs too, and I ain’t climbing the walls,” Allen scoffs. “But unlike you, I don’t make it a habit to get higher than a kite several times a day.”
Allen discreetly stands up and shakes the remainder of his cocaine out of the window, kicking the pipe underneath the radiator. The last thing he wants is to get in trouble with the police for using drugs if Carlos apparently is already in trouble for presumably the same offense.
“They’re miniature rosebuds. Just ‘cause I’m in charge now don’t mean I’ll let you eat junk food. Too much frosting is bad for you, particularly considering it has no healthy content.”
Allen smiles at her and his eyes light up. “So are all the rest of us. Left-handedness runs in our family. Our dad was born a southpaw, but he gave into teachers trying to switch him. Our sister Ernestine is also a lefty, and so are all four of her new friends the Ryans. You’ll never have to worry about bumping anyone’s elbow here.”
“Her name is Lenore Hartlein, and she’s a lovely girl. Are you implying she’s some girl of ill repute? I’d never let a prostitute or drug dealer move in with my little sisters.”
“Julie and the Ryans are invited to our Christmas too,” Allen tells Ernestine. “Tell them they can bring up their mattresses and sleep here over Christmas Eve. I wouldn’t dream of having five of the members of this family missing out on what’s probably their first real Christmas too.”
“Probably wouldn’t hurt. I do wanna be a good example to you, after all. I’d hate to think you don’t respect me as much ‘cause I don’t use proper English.”
“Why the hell should any child have to put up with a parent who beats or rapes her?” Allen yells. “Someday that’s gonna be a criminal offense, not something you’re supposed to keep a shameful secret and unable to press charges against!”
“You can have my baby sister when you pull her out of my cold dead hands, you evil bitch. I don’t know how such an evil woman could produce so many decent kids. Even Gemma turned out decent in the end. That makes seven outta nine kids who don’t wanna stay in your beloved cesspool of poverty.”
“We’re still a family,” Allen tries to reassure her. “We’re just a family in different places now. Someday when we’re older, we’ll all be together again.”
“I’d rather not tell you too much about it. It’s embarrassing enough a guy like me is so hung up on a girl. By the way, have you met any guys in your night school class or your job?”
“I guess you don’t wanna talk to me about it since I’m not a girl. I mean, I know how it feels to be in love with someone who’ll probably never love you back, but I don’t know how it feels when you’re a girl dealing with that. Me, I’m just an unlucky guy who fell in love with an unattainable girl the first and only time I was in love.”
“You’re naturally beautiful. You’re not onea those girls who needs to put on a bunch of makeup to make herself look good. You should feel proud of having such nice skin and features without needing any extra help.”
“I was…thinking, maybe…if it doesn’t bother you…maybe…I mean, would you mind…would you be okay…how would you like it…I’d like to…I really want to…I’ve never asked a girl for permission before…Can I kiss you?”
“You’re cute. You’re not some girl who’s done this a million times before. Even though I know what happened to you, I’ve always considered you a virgin. If something happened to you against your will, that’s a lot different than choosing to have relations with someone. In your heart, you’re still pure, sweet, and innocent.”
Allen looks at her longingly. “I know I’m not some pure innocent virgin, but I never had much more than a simplistic coupling before. That was only a physical thing I did before I met you. I don’t wanna mess up the first time I actually make love to a woman, and I hope I don’t end up hurting you.”
“You see?” Allen asks. “I’m perfectly fine with you eating foods like that with your hands at my place. Rich boys like Ricky think it’s a scandal if you don’t eat everything with a fork and knife. I’ve heard some rich folks even eat watermelon, bacon, fried chicken, and bananas with a fork.”
“I don’t want my kid sister to have to learn to love anyone. I want you to marry a proper boy you fell in love with like a normal modern person.”
Allen finally looks over at Lenore, tears still streaming down his face. “Boy, oh boy, we finally got a boy!”
“I’d be happy for her to find real love, but not with a rich boy with a silly name like Warrick Grover Carson!”
“It was nothing doing,” Allen tries to brush it off. “I did what I was supposed to do, protect my kid sisters and a helpless baby. You know me. I’d never try to claim credit for being some kinda hero or saving the day.”
“Okay, I promise,” Allen says. “I won’t call you Warrick anymore. I know I’d hate it if people called me by some nickname when I’ve only ever gone by my full name my entire life.”
“Go ahead and do whatever you want for your special day,” Allen says. “I’ll be more than happy to walk you down the aisle.”