(Just FYI: In Russian, the name Boris is pronounced Bah-REECE, not BORE-iss. So many Anglo manglings of Russian names, unintentional though they may be, just sound ugly and throw away some very beautiful names. This is one reason why my Russian characters’ names have accent marks wherever possible, to give a general idea of pronunciation to someone who’s not Russian or a Russophile. It’s the same reason most dictionaries and textbooks have accent marks, even though ordinarily they’re never used in normal written Russian.)
Name: Boris Aleksandrovich Malenkov
Date of birth: 1 March 1900
Place of birth: Moskvá, Russian Empire
Year I created him: 1993
Role: Main character, Antagonist
Boris started off as a good guy, the guy who was supposed to marry Lyuba (then called Amy), the guy she genuinely preferred of all her four potential suitors. Instead he slowly turned into an antagonist, and the more time I spent writing his character, the more and more rotten he became. Now he’s one of my favorite antagonists to write. Even if someone is a truly repugnant person, sometimes it’s just more fun to write such a character, explore the dark side of human nature, get inside what makes this person tick, how he was initially motivated by something understandable, how once he got a taste for sin, it got sweeter and sweeter and seemed easier to sin than to reform and stay good.
With just about all of my editing, revising, polishing, and rewriting of the first book done, Boris now starts off somewhat like Esau. He’s essentially a decent guy, but he’s rather uncouth, impulsive, and has some troubling hints of an evil inclination and bad behavior. However, those troubling character flaws have been pretty much kept in check because he’s still in his parents’ house, and held in line by teachers as well. Even when he misbehaves or acts uncouth, he’s still held accountable for it.
All that starts to change once he’s on his own, expelled from gymnasium, his parents arrested, in hiding outside Moskva with his friends and Lyuba’s cousin Ginny (real name Mikhail). No one can hold him in line any longer, since he’s among peers instead of elders. He’s rather good for awhile, but his evil inclination soon gets the better of him when he meets some unsavory characters whom he starts doing some odd jobs with during the time he and his friends are living in a valley under White control. He’s also very angry and depressed over how he’s had to give up his comfortable upper-middle-class existence and essentially become a civilian refugee. Some of the things he’s doing with his mysterious new friends include drug trafficking, counterfeiting, stealing, forgery, and serving as a village tough.
Boris beats Lyuba up regularly while she’s pregnant with his blood child, so badly she’s left with some serious internal damage that calls into question her ability to even conceive again. He splits for America right before she goes into active labor with Tatyana. Then, when Tatyana is 14 months old, he returns to Russia, having travelled on a ship of Ellis Island rejects. After a week, he decides he can’t handle responsibility and leaves again. But then, in July, guess who comes back, on his second illegal trip home? And that just scratches the surface of what Boris does in Part I.
In Part II, he’s by and large pretty good, but he still can’t completely shake the lure of sin, even in lesser forms. Though I have to admit, I felt kind of bad for him at the end, when he’s sobbing hysterically in the kowtowing position after being forced to sign away all his paternal rights over Tatyana to Ivan. Those are real tears, and his love for his only child is the real thing, even though he’s long ago lost his right to have any role in her life after what he did to Lyuba and how he almost caused the miscarriage of this belovèd child at least five times.
In the second book, the evil inclination gets the better of him once again, and his sins include the following:
Causing a sex scandal with his young teaching assistant Kseniya
Working for the diamond black market during his forced sabbatical from the religious school
Upsetting all of Ivan’s children by trying to tell them he’s going to be their new father. Fedya, Ivan’s oldest blood child, is so upset by what Boris tells him that he runs away and almost gets into an accident in the road.
Actually being happy when his former fiancée Granyechka, his overly forgiving priest’s overly pious daughter, loses her two little children to diphtheria, and later has a miscarriage and stillbirth. After Father Spiridon finally finds his balls and fires Boris permanently, Boris confesses his real feelings and tells Granyechka he hopes she loses the child she’s then pregnant with too.
Continuing to yell at and insult the children in the religious school
Tricking Lyuba into adultery when she’s too delirious and feverish, in her postpartum state, to realize this isn’t her husband come all the way from Minnesota to take care of her. During this deceptive union, he pumps her full of morphine, alcohol, and hallucinogens to reinforce her delusions. He also writes letters to Ivan, bragging about the “affair” and running him down, and pretends one of these letters is from Lyuba.
Dropping Lyuba’s new baby Ilya on the hard hospital floor after he’s gotten out of jail and travelled to Minnesota to demand a blood type paternity test on the baby he’s sure is his and not Ivan’s. (A paternity blood test in 1930 was obviously not a DNA test; they determined what blood type the mother, baby, and potential fathers had, and if the baby could’ve come from only one of those couplings.)
Some typical Boris lines:
“Well, you should be thankful I’m infertile. We won’t need to worry about contraceptives. What kind of pansy even wears prophylactics? That defeats the whole purpose of having relations!”
“That sounds revolting. Why would I want to touch body parts associated with childbirth, menstruation, and relieving oneself? At least a man’s sex organ isn’t involved in such indiscreet things and isn’t that filthy!”
“It’s supposed to hurt the first time. That’s God’s way of making sure a man knows his woman is a pure, untouched virgin. Don’t worry, I’ll wash the blood off the sheets so my parents won’t know.”
“Admit you’re jealous of me, Konev,” Borís blathers on. “I got a nice, tight virgin, while you were getting merchandise that was passed around among so many men there must’ve been no muscle tone left! How do you even get any pleasure out of sleeping with her when she’s so worn-out?”
“I’m still patiently waiting for you to come to your senses and leave your disastrous marriage. While the cat’s away, the mice will play. Admit if you weren’t pregnant, you’d be all over me right now.”
“At least I’m having a good time on Earth before going to Hell.”
“Can you get that brat to shut up? I can’t concentrate on screwing you if he’s going to be interrupting us. It’s time to pay attention to me, not him. He has your attention all day. Now it’s my turn.”
“Thank God!” Borís says. “Tell me my positive results first, so Konev can wait in dread to hear those beautiful words, ‘Ilya is not your son.’”