Loving a man like Boris Pavlikovsky proved equal parts pleasure as pain. The pleasure? Immeasurable.
Long-winded stories crafted under the glow of their stolen television, melting into Stanley’s ears, paired with fine Argentinian wine. Warm amber glow from where the table lamp exploded into the refracted glass of Boris’ whiskey tumbler, burning across his animated expressions. Expensive treats: Rolex watches, fresh-pressed Armani suits, dinners at the finest restaurants in New York. ‘A treat for my Pchelka - do not worry, is all paid for this time!’ Stanley only partially believed him. Sex so varied in its intent it was like two separate creatures altogether at times. Sometimes slow, long and almost loving - if Stan could bring himself to say such a thing in front of Boris without glowing red under his sharp, bassy laughter. Sometimes like rabid cayotes on the plains, tearing into each other. Two beautiful, terrible creatures, bloody and brutal and equally as desirable.
The pain? Ungovernable. Weeks, if not months, alone - stuck in the stagnant limbo of wondering if his plain black suit and smart black tie will make a morbid appearance for the next time he will see Boris. The plastic cover from the dry cleaners crinkles loudly when he debates pulling down the wretched zip - just to see if it still fits. He never does. Boris: bloodied, bruised and more often than not, malnourished. His arrival unceremonious and the agonized uncertainty of his whereabouts brushed out of Stan’s mouth like nothing more than a bad taste. Over and over again - ‘The last time. That is last time Boris leaves, is all sorted out now.’ . The pain is sentimental - a load-bearing piece of their relationship now. Shredding him from the inside out whenever Boris is gone, every vein and tendon being sawed through with a bread knife, every piece of flesh being ripped similar to how Stan rips off Boris’ shirt when he returns, hungry and necessary.
The pain makes the pleasure all the more brighter.
It’s much more satisfying when Boris wraps around him and kisses the nape of his neck when Stanley can feel the sticky blood from his lips on his skin, when the arms wrapped around him are still knuckled blue, when the Russian literature books are still veiled in a thin layer of dust.
The effects of Boris build on him, subtle at first: a blind eye towards a bottle of expensive Irish whiskey under the weight of Boris’ peacoat, then selective hearing when Boris would speak in a broken and fastidious mix of English and a language Stan can now pinpoint as Estonian down a burner phone. Words like ‘laundering’ and ‘artifacts’ and ‘offshore bank’ expertly from Boris’ mouth.
More and more Boris began to consume him - and Stan let him.
Stan felt aspects of his own personality slip through the cracks to make way for this new model of Stanley Uris, lovingly and somewhat unintentionally curated with the malleable hands of Boris Pavlikovsky. Ivory to steel, valleys to mountains, ponds to riptides.
The gravitational pull of Boris warps life around him. Shadows bend and light refracts into the magnetism of him. Walk into a busy room and twenty minutes later, every person in that room, no matter their status or persuasion has been transformed even a little bit under Boris’ wicked eyes and darling smile. All of them carrying a little bit of a Russian criminal in the linen of their pockets or the leather of their wallets. It feasts on you, the longer you’re with him. Seven years now, and Stanley could hardly place himself in his childhood photos - that boy long gone.
It was almost dismissable, how quickly it happened - like a rogue balloon at your twelfth birthday party, slowly withering and deflating in the brambles until years later, you’re trimming the hedges with a hefty pair of sheers and this little shrivelled up limp of red is the only tangible part of your childhood you have left.
It isn’t bad - don’t get it wrong. Stanley accepts his fate willingly with Boris on his mouth and a ring on his finger. Happy to sign his life away on the dotted line if it was for Boris.
Happily, with open arms and a darling smile, Stan rolls up his slacks and treads water into the riptide and lets it tear him apart. He continues to handpick the beetles, mosquitoes feast on him, birds eat the mosquitoes, something else eats the birds, and so on up and down the biotic pyramid until at last, finally and tremendously, Boris eats him.
The pleasure and the pain you ask? Well, Stan laughs - when in love, they are one and the same are they not?