Vegeta repeatedly jabbed his fists against the huge, heavy punching bag, sending it a few feet from him. Sweat flew from his muscled form with every blow he threw. A hundred and one…a hundred and two…a hundred and three…he lost count. It had been well over an hour since he had started and yet it seemed only minutes had passed by. He could no longer feel the pressure of the bag as his strong, curled hands forced it away. He couldn’t feel the strain in his muscles, the heat emanating from his body, nor the dampness coming from his every pore. He was in his own world…lost in his thoughts…
"When I grow up, I’m gonna be a boxing champ just like you, dad!" a twelve-year-old Vegeta exclaimed one day. He faced the mirror and started flexing his scrawny arms.
"Well, you better start now," his father, laughed.
"I will then! And I’d make you so proud of me you’d burst like a balloon!" the young boy jabbed himself hard on the chest, making him sputter. His father snorted, trying to hold back his laughter. He really couldn’t help it. His son wasn’t exactly the healthiest looking boy in their little Bronx neighborhood, nor was he the tallest. He was often bullied and teased for not inheriting his father’s built. But that didn’t mean Vegeta hadn’t inherited Veldock’s ego. The boy was often a problem to the family especially to his mother, Rosicheena, who had to tend to all his injuries after he came home from his fights.
"Are you all set, dear?" came Rosicheena’s voice as she walked inside the room with an armful of clothes.
"Almost," Veldock replied, slamming his suitcase down.
"Dad, do you really have to go?" Vegeta complained. "You promised me you’d show me how to do the upper cut today!"
"Oh, did you now?" Rosicheena raised an eyebrow at her husband. "You told me you weren’t gonna teach him none of those dirty tricks! That’s what gets him in trouble all the time!"
"I thought he’d just get a few pointers in self defense, ya know," he smiled winningly at his wife, while giving his son a wink at the corner of his eye.
"Self defense indeed. Now off with you. Your snob of a boss is waiting for you in the carriage," the curly haired brunette sighed as she put the rest of her husband’s clothing in a second suitcase.
"He’s not snobby. He’s just a bit…stuck up?"
"What’s the difference? A snob’s a snob. Here," she handed the suitcase.
"Well, I’m off. See you in a month," Veldock leaned over to graze his lips over his wife’s causing Vegeta to stick his tongue out. He then leaned over to ruffle his son’s hair with his huge hand.
"You take good care of yourself and your Momma, hear?"
"Yeah, I hear," Vegeta pouted.
"Don’t you two worry. I’ll bring you two some great souvenirs from Europe," his father smiled, and left.
Vegeta’s punches grew more intense as he recalled that dreadful night fourteen years ago, when the postman delivered the telegram announcing his father’s death. His father had been caught in the crossfire. He was found, embracing a photograph of his wife and son, together with the souvenirs he had promised to give them. Rosicheena had been the one to read the telegram. She had broken down immediately, unable to tell her son what had happened…but Vegeta knew. For several days after the funeral, he and his mother were unable to speak. It took months for the young boy to cope, but his mother never did. Only a year and a half after his father’s death, Rosicheena suffered a heart failure, leaving Vegeta in the care of Joe Winslow, a friendly black neighbor, who was then, in his early thirties. Instead of tears, the prince gave out superb strength against the punching bag. He always felt the need to hit out at something whenever he felt this way. The last time he had shed tears was at his mother’s funeral. Suddenly, his eyes were blinded by sand. He hadn’t realized he had ripped the punching bag open.
"That’s another one down the drain," Joe quipped, bringing Vegeta a jug of water. The boxer immediately took a swig at it.
"That’s t’fifth time this month. Good thing you got the dough to pay up fer t’damages," the stout man joked, his grayish mustache stretched from his smile.
"Seriously, Joe. Why don’t you open up a gym in Manhattan? I can have my connections hook you up or…"
"Naw…them spiffy city places ain’t fer me. I’m all set here in t’Bronx. Lived here all my life and I ‘tend ta live here ‘til I die. But they’re fer ya, Vegeta. Yer destined fer fame and fortune."
Vegeta was silent for a moment. Joe had been like a second father to him. He was his confidant…his mentor. It was Joe who taught him everything he knew about boxing, for this large, kindly man had once been a boxing legend in his early years.
"Don’t you ever get tired of old walls Joe? This place has too many bad memories," Vegeta wiped his sweaty face with a face towel before sitting on the bench beside his friend.
"Yeah…but mem’ries are still mem’ries, good or bad. When yer as old as I am, ya’d be keepin’ ‘em like treasures," Joe opened his precious gold locket, revealing the faded picture of his late wife, Michelle, a beautiful half African-American, half Venezuelan with long curly locks. Tears were trapped behind his small eyes, glistening under the dim light. Vegeta’s lip curled up, as he pondered on whether he should comfort his friend or not. He had seen him this way several times before. Joe had so loved boxing, but he had loved his wife even more. He had decided to quit the sport when his beloved got pregnant but it was all for a loss. She had delivered too early and died together with the infant. Vegeta was sixteen then. It had hurt to see his friend bury his family, and yet he had not shed a tear…though he had many a talk with his mentor’s wife.
"You need a fresh, new environment Joe," Vegeta insisted. "It’ll be good for you."
"Oh really? I don’t seem ta rememba ya eva gettin’ tired of comin’ back here in t’ old place," Joe replied. "Ya don’t tell me nothin’, but I know ya don’t wanna ferget yer folks."
Vegeta stood up from the bench and walked over to the lockers, putting his shirt on. He could never forget them. Maybe that’s why he strived to do better at the sport. He wanted to make them proud…wherever they are.
"Heard that yer opponent fer t’ heavyweight…what’s his name? Tofu?"
"He’s name is Goku Son."
"Yeah, him. Heard tell he’s bein’ financed by Freiza."
"Ya know. He’s t’ leader of ‘em bootleggin’ syndicate…the Seven Dragons."
"Seven Dragons? I only know of the Five Pointers on the Lower East Side of Manhattan," Vegeta turned a questioning look at his comrade. The Negro seemed startled for a moment, before finally sighing.
"Ferget it," he waved his hand as if waving off the topic. "Ferget I said that."
"What? You started talkin’ and now you got me curious. Just spill it out."
"I s’pose I could trust ya," Joe ran his large hand across his balding forehead and into his gray, curly hair. He turned and gave his friend a smile. "Don’t know anyone I could trust more than ya. Jes don’t go tellin’ nobody ‘bou it," he looked around nervously, as if making sure nobody was eavesdropping on their conversation.
"Okay. Here’s the thin’," Joe started. "Ya heard of ‘t Five Pointers. That’s jes one of the newer gangs here in New York. There are lots of older, more secretive gangs…mostly more powerful than ‘em new ones," he widened his eyes with emphasis.
"The Seven Dragons consist of ‘t leaders of seven of ‘t most notorious gangs here in New York as well as in Detroit. They’re jes like other gangsters…’cept they don’t bully up on ‘t public or ‘t small time bootleggin’ folks. They bully up other gangs. Guess that’s one of ‘t reasons nobody eva heard of ‘em. Seems they blackmail all their little clients ta keep their mouths shut."
"How come you knew of them?" Vegeta asked incredulously, his thick eyebrows meeting as he narrowed his eyes.
"They’re ‘t reason I had ta quit wit ‘t punchin’ and ‘t slammin."
"Huh? How? I thought you quit ‘coz of…"
"Yes, I did quit ‘coz a Michelle but not ‘coz she got pregnant," Joe took the jug from Vegeta and took one huge gulp to dampen his dry throat. "I quit ‘coz they threatened ta kill her and you…"
"Sorry I didn’t tell ya…nobody else knew…not even Michelle. All my opponents were hooch-lovin’ bozos who’d do anythin’ for a bit of giggle water. They offered to lose to me and in exchange, they get a hold on all ‘t booze they want. I was ‘t fav’rite of ‘t Seven Dragons then," Joe took another gulp of water. "They’d do anythin’ ta see me win. But then, I gained a bit of followers of my own. Freiza thought I might be goin’ behind his back. He had me quit boxing and made me swear neva ta spill ‘t beans or else…"
"Why didn’t they just kill you?"
"I dunno…maybe it’s ‘coz I was in cahoots with ‘em fer so long…or maybe ‘coz I ain’t a memba of no gang. As much as possible, they don’t bump off on anyone public. Tha’s why they concentrated on killin’ their own kin. In fact, they were ‘t one who sent ‘t assassin who killed Big Jim Colosimo in Chicago."
"The Big Jim Colosimo? Leader of that notorious Chicago gang?"
"The same. Now don’t ask me any more questions. You know I got such a loose tongue," Joe stood up slowly from where he sat. "So, where’d ya plan ‘t go now that ya finished yer trainin’ fer ‘t day?"
"I don’t know. I think I’ll just go back to my pad and hit the sack," Vegeta adjusted his suspenders and reached for his coat.
"That ain’t gonna do any good fer yer trainin’, boy," the former boxer gathered a broom to clean the mess Vegeta had made of the punching bag. "Ya need to go out and have a bit of fun. It’ll be good fer yer psychological health or somethin’ like that. Jes trust me. Ya gonna need time to relax before ‘t big event."
"Hmm…maybe," the prince put on his trench coat, which had long since dried up. "Got any recommendations? Just don’t give me a place with flour lovin’ quiffs okay?"
"I can guarantee that I won’t be given ya flour lovers but them quiffs are practically everywhere. Ya can’t avoid ‘em. Anyways, ya should go ta this new nightclub…Harlem Nights. Yeah, that’s the place," Joe said, looking at the flyer in his hand for confirmation. He handed it to Vegeta.
"Shouldn’t be too far off from yer pad, eh? It’s in Manhattan."
"Harlem Nights…ain’t this place for bla— I mean, exclusively for…"
"Naw. Don’t believe what ya hear on ‘t streets. Lots of white folks hang out there. Well now, off wit ya. Got me some businesses to attend to. And don’t be talkin’ to nobody ‘bout what I told yer, hear?"
"Yeah, I hear," Vegeta slipped the flyer in his trench coat. Wrapping the scarf around his neck once more, he waved goodbye and exited out the door.
* * * * *
Author’s Notes: Yeah, yeah, I know Bulma hasn’t appeared yet but she will. Be patient and go to the next chapter.
Bootleg = liquor
Booze = liquor/Hooch
Bump Off = To kill/murder
Dough = money
Down the drain = gone
Flour Lover = a girl with too much face powder
Giggle Water = alcohol/Booze
Hooch = bootleg liquor/Booze
Old Walls = usually refers to a place one has lived all their lives
Quiff = a slut or cheap prostitute
Spiffy = Fashionable/Elegant
Spill/Spill the beans = to talk, usually referring to revelations
*The Five Pointers is a gang on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It is the gang Lucky Luciano and the famous Al Capone joined.
*An unknown assailant killed Big Jim Colosimo in his own café on May 11, 1920. He is the first Chicago gang leader to die in the gang wars.
*Harlem is a large area of upper Manhattan, in New York City, that is generally regarded as a black ghetto and in the 1920s, became the most prominent black community in the United States. Obviously, that’s the reason I named my made up nightclub "Harlem Nights." I don’t know where "Nights" came from though. Figured it sounded better than Harlem Nightclub…hehe…