Friday, June 21, 2019

Microstory 1130: Natasha Orlov

Varlam Orlov came to the United States from the Russian Empire with his family in 1916, when he was sixteen years old. They arrived with as little as many immigrants have, but they were hard workers, and they wanted a better life. Theirs was a roller coaster of a history. They made money, they lost it, they made it back, they struggled with their neighbors. They were persecuted during the Red Scare, and persecuted again during the other Red Scare. But they kept trying, and they never broke any serious laws. This isn’t a story about a legendary Russian organized crime family. This isn’t about a nuclear family of sleeper agents. This is about a woman named Natasha Orlov, whose father completely altered people’s perspective on their family, and he didn’t even have to. Varlam’s grandson, Maxim was born in 1951. He was obsessed with mob movies and books, particularly the ones depicting the Russian mafia. He was fascinated by their antics, and their tactics, and wanted to grow up to be just like that. Unfortunately for him, organized crime began decades ago, and you don’t just suddenly decide to be a crime boss. He knew he wouldn’t get anywhere just by sitting around, so he started committing petty crimes, learning from his mistakes, and escalating little by little, until he was finally arrested. This is precisely what he wanted. No one would teach him how to run a business out of the kindness of their hearts. He figured that prison was the only place he would be able to find someone to take him under their wing, and that they did. He got himself into a gang, who nurtured his desires to take on the world, thinking he would join their family on the outside, once his sentence was complete. Of course, he didn’t do this, because now he had the tools to strike out on his own.

He had listened to what the other inmates had said about people in their ranks, and the ones who maybe had a little less loyalty than others. He used this knowledge of the social structure to recruit people into his own organization, and before anyone realized what was happening, he was well insulated from any permanently damaging retaliation. Suddenly there was a new family in Kansas City that no one knew what to do about, and over the course of the next few decades, he carefully and methodically edged out all of the competition. He never intended to have any children, because the life would always be too dangerous for them, but Natasha came as an accident when he was pretty old. He wanted to keep her out of it, but he also wanted to keep her close, and those two contradictory sentiments just did not work well together. Others in his organization were pressuring him to teach her what he knew, and groom her to replace him one day, in some capacity, but he never cared about that. He wanted to run a business; not leave a legacy. She resisted as well, but in the end, it was safer for her to be within the confines of his protection, so no enemy could come after her without serious consequences. He placed her in his construction company, which was probably the farthest she could be from the illegitimate side of his business, while still being inside the bubble. She found herself drawn to the demolitions division, which was primarily designated for imploding buildings to make way for modern replacements. Even though it was the most dangerous, it was a positive venture, and helped shape the way the city, and its surrounding areas, would look like in the future. When the family finally fell, she was the only one left standing.

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