Name: Harry Baron
Date of birth: I’d guess he was born somewhere in the 1880s to the 1890s, since his age is never given, but he’s a cop at least as of the early Twenties, and he’s not so young he’d shy away from making friends with a middle-aged man like Mr. Konev.
Place of birth: Probably New York City
Year I created him: Probably 2001
Role: Secondary Character
Officer Harry Baron is the only recurring secondary character in my Russian novels, besides Katrin’s servants and Anastasiya’s nanny, who isn’t Russian or Baltic. He and two other alcohol-friendly cops frequent Ivan’s father’s illegal liquor store and are friends with Mr. Konev. In their first scene, in which none of the cops are named, they’re talking to Mr. Konev and Lyuba, admiring Lyuba’s children, and wondering why Ivan won’t do the right thing by marrying Lyuba when he has such a beautiful fiancée and lovely family.
The second time they show up is when Ivan goes to the basement of his father’s store while it’s under siege by some pissed off Russian-American mobsters. Officer Baron and his two friends come to the rescue and arrest the mobsters, and give the store additional protection. They also appear as guests at Lyuba and Ivan’s wedding.
In the second book, they show up when Mr. Glazov, the Russian Uncle Tom who runs the iron factory, is finally being arrested for his many violations of the labor laws. Officer Baron later shows up alone to arrest Boris when he’s at his psychotherapist’s. I don’t remember if I had plans to use him in the second book, but I guess I liked him enough as a minor character to trot him out when a cop was needed, instead of using some anonymous, new cop.
Officer Baron scenes:
“You’re the one who gets only fifteen dollars a month at some iron factory, the guy who refuses to make his fiancée a respectable woman instead of indefinitely living in sin with her even after you’ve had a son together and you’re raising her four-year-old daughter like your own? The same guy who won’t let his fiancée get a job because he’s so paranoid about men at work hitting on her and as a result forcing her into danger to pump a lot of extra money into your household?”
“My fazer is tied up in a chair and his business partner is half-tied up!”
“You must be in the wine cellar?”
“Don’t tell me my fazer has had zis happen to him before.”
“No more than ten times. And it’s never been this awful, only empty threats from mobsters previously. We’ll be right over.”
Officer Baron pays a visit to Mr. Glazov as he’s eating chocolate, reading a copy of True Story magazine, and every so often taking little peeks at the exploited workers through ten different glass peepholes. Mr. Glazov’s personal office is more like a suite.
“Is this the Mr. Glazov I’ve been hearing so many terrible things about?”
“One of the workers sent you to inspect the factory?” Mr. Glazov speaks perfect English. “I never should’ve let them start that stupid union. They’re lucky I’m not making them work sixteen hours a day instead of only ten, and that I’m going to start giving them paid vacations this year.”
“I’m a frequent visitor to a store owned by the father of one of your workers. He says you’re only paying his son fifteen dollars a month, which averages out to three dollars and seventy-five cents a week. You’re going to start paying all your workers fifteen dollars a week from now on.”
“I’ve already let them have a union and now paid vacations. They’d walk all over me asking for more special favors if I began to pay them more than they deserve.”
“My friend says his son is friends with another man who works here. Not the agitator who just started the union, the other man he comes in with every morning, the pale, scrawny, bookish guy who’s always reading the bulletin board to see if there are openings in positions that don’t involve so much danger. He’s also threatened to walk if he won’t get a higher salary.”
“He can walk. It’s no great concern of mine. I can continue to pay my workers only fifteen dollars a month as long as none of them are complaining en masse.”
“You’ll pay them fifteen dollars a week from now on, or else I’ll run you in,” Officer Baron threatens.
Iván pushes to the head of the line and elbows his way inside the factory. Inside, the workers are also lined up and holding signs and screaming curses, insults, and chants at Mr. Glazov. Mr. Konev’s three cop friends and about ten other cops are encircled around Mr. Glazov, refusing to listen to anything he says in his own defense. Harry Baron, the officer who forced him to raise the pay rate three years ago, is tapping a billy club against his hand, while another officer is holding out a pair of handcuffs and trying to convince Mr. Glazov to submit to arrest peacefully.
“Take him to jail! Don’t vait for him to surrender, because he von’t do it!” Karmov shouts. “He’ll never admit he did wrong! He’ll still be making excuses ven he’s in court! He’ll be convicted on evidence alone!”
“How can I support my wife and kids if I’m in jail?” Mr. Glazov asks. “They’re used to a high off the hog lifestyle. I guarantee you production at this factory will crash to a standstill once I’m no longer around. Who’s even going to run this operation?”
“How do you think your exploited workers supported their own wives and kids on the pittance you paid them?” Officer Baron asks. “Were you even thinking about how you barely paid enough for them to get by, and forced them to pinch pennies and make their wives get jobs too? Fifteen dollars a week is nothing. Most of your workers pay at least ten dollars a month in rent, leaving almost nothing for utilities or food. You should be disgusted at yourself for exploiting your own people. A Russian Uncle Tom, indeed.”
Álya smiles when she sees a police car driving up and parallel-parking. “Oh, look. Perhaps that’s the answer to everyone’s prayers. Maybe they found out your schedule from your parents.”
“They’re probably just regular cops.” Borís pushes past Ánya and Álya and briskly walks to Dr. Seelenfreund’s office.
As Borís is hanging his coat on the wall, he hears footsteps coming up the stairs. Dr. Seelenfreund is in the room with him, and he knows there weren’t any other people in the lobby when he came in. Borís knows no one would be so rude as to interrupt Dr. Seelenfreund when he’s with a patient. He gulps in horror, overcome with a foretaste of what’s waiting for him.
“Good day, Doctor. My name is Officer Harry Baron, and I’m here to arrest this man, Borís Malenkov. Mr. Malenkov, please come with me. If you’ve already paid, you can get a refund in jail.”
“Jail? I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“Why are you arresting my client?” Dr. Seelenfreund asks. “Sure he’s done some bad things in his past, but he’s made a lot of progress in the years he’s been coming to see me. The statute of limitations for any crimes he might’ve committed in the past are up, and since all of those potential crimes occurred overseas, they’re out of your jurisdiction anyway.”
“I’m good friends with Iván Konev, Sr., the father of Borís’s former best friend. I’m also acquainted with the family of Iván Konev, Jr. So I happen to know of this man’s most recent, most outrageous crime ever. I recently spoke to Mrs. Koneva, and she gave me a very damning testimony against him. Borís A. Malenkov, you’re under arrest for violating the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act through the purchase, smuggling, and pushing of morphine. You’re also under arrest for the crime of impersonation for the purposes of fraud.”
Borís walks over to the window and peers down at the fire escape. Hoping to make the five-foot jump, he opens the window and starts climbing out. Officer Baron is hot on his heels.
“Resisting arrest is your third offense. Let’s go.”
Borís whines as a pair of handcuffs is slapped on him. “But my beautiful car, and my beautiful house, and all my money—”
“Mrs. Koneva tells me you were fired by your priest, so you don’t have a job. And everyone is having a hard time with money since the Stock Market crashed, so unless you have a secret stash of millions of dollars, you’re no richer than the rest of us. I’ve heard you never had much money in the bank anyway. You spent it almost as soon as you earned it. I’m sure your parents will love to move back into your house and take over your car. Who wouldn’t love to drive a Duesenberg and pretend to be rich and famous?”
Borís curses his life as Officer Baron leads him down the stairs and back into the street. Álya and Ánya are standing by the Duesenberg smiling at him as he passes.
“Get used to living an ordinary life,” Ánya calls. “You don’t get money, a nice car, and a fancy house in prison.”
“Maybe now you’ll finally learn a serious lesson about proper behavior and human decency, with all that time to think,” Álya says. “You’ve brought this nightmare all on yourself.”
“But I’ll be lonely in jail!”
Officer Baron laughs. “I love when I arrest criminals who whine about how they don’t want to miss their children’s birthdays, feel lonely, want to go to a party, or demand gourmet food and their radio. If all those things were so important to you, you never should’ve committed crimes in the first place.”