"I can’t believe I let you talk me into this," Vegeta grumbled as Bulma tugged on his arm, pulling him to the entrance of the Harlem Nights nightclub. She flashed a smile at him, clutching her fur coat to shield her from the cold. It had been over two weeks since that incident in the blizzard. It was now the night before Christmas. The prince had had a remarkable recovery and after that, he and his mistress had become somewhat closer. Though he is still a man of few words, the European girl didn’t seem to mind as much as she had before.
"C’mon, Vegeta! Wouldn’t it be great to dine at the place were we first met?"
"I told you I don’t want that romantic—"
"Don’t worry. It’s just a casual dinner plus…" the woman turned to her sheik and provocatively pressed her body against his. "…if you don’t do this you’re not gonna get any of me tonight."
"You’re blackmailing me, woman," he scowled. The lady laughed. Her beau’s thick dark brows rose to his forehead. He had never seen his mistress as jovial as she was now.
"Let’s go! We’re gonna have a swell time!" she pulled the boxer into the club. As they burst through the doors, old memories from their first meeting surrounded them. There was that same rhythm of jazz music being played by the band onstage. Whites were mixed with black diners; the waiters busily tending to everyone’s orders. One black waiter approached the couple with a wide grin on his face.
"Good evening, Miss Bulma, Mister…uhm…" the young man turned with frightened eyes to the man beside the singer.
"Good evening to you too, Richard," the flapper beamed. "Oh, do you recall Mister Vegeta?"
"I most certainly do ma’am. How do you do, sir?"
"Yeah. Fine," Vegeta shrugged.
"Right this way. The table’s all set for you two," Richard had them follow him through the huddle of tables and people.
"What do you mean all set?" the slick haired man turned questioning eyes at his sheba. When he set his sights on their table, he was held aback. It was the exact same place where the performer had flirted with him. It was also where she had agreed to go on a one-night stand with him. They had gone a long way from that. But the location wasn’t the only thing that surprised him. Two lit red candles wrapped in green ribbons surrounded by a wreath were set in the middle of the table. There were already dishes on the table as well. There was also a piece of cardboard marked ‘Reserved’, which the waiter quickly snatched away.
"You’ve had a lot of time preparing for this," the prince gave the woman sitting across him a suspicious stare while taking off his huge coat and lightly brushing off some lint from his dark blue suit. His date took hers off as well, revealing an off-shoulder, tight fitting red silk dress with a V-neckline partially showing her cleavage.
"I just thought I’d surprise you a bit…being that tomorrow is Christmas and all," she gave him a winning smile. Her lover winced when he heard the word ‘Christmas’.
"Vegeta? What’s wrong?"
"You, of all people should know that I don’t like surprises…and especially Christmas," he stated sternly.
"Yes, I know. Surprises, I can understand. But Christmas? You’ve never really told me why you don’t like it."
Vegeta kept his lips sealed, shifting his cold eyes away. Bulma sighed.
"Look. Let’s not let this ruin our evening, okay? We’re going to have a fabulous dinner."
True to her word, the couple had a sumptuous feast of a rather large roast beef, potato salad and baked Alaska for desert. They also had some red wine. How they managed to find room for it all, they’ll never know.
"I feel like I weigh a ton," the flapper groaned, when the waiters had cleared the table. "I think I’m going to pop a stitch," she leaned down to check at her gown.
"No, you look good," the rich man commented absentmindedly.
"Thank you," the turquoise eyes of the lass sparkled, a smile dazzling on her lips. "That’s very sweet of you."
"I’m not trying to be sweet!" the boxer blushed.
"Whatever," she dabbed the corners of her crimson lips with a napkin, careful not to mess her make up. Suddenly, she remembered something.
"Vegeta, I have to go," she was quickly up on her feet. "I’ll be right back."
"Huh? But…Hey!" Vegeta watched his woman disappear through the crowd. Sighing in exasperation, he sipped the rest of his wine and began his wait.
At that same time, a Manchester parked itself outside the nightclub, right next to a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. Two men stepped out of that vehicle, both in black striped suits with matching black hats. One was a tall, handsome man with pale skin, almond eyes and a head of deep green strands. The other was a pudgy man with a bald head, dark lips and pinkish skin.
"Dodoria, are you sure Jones gave him the letter?" the tall man asked.
"Yes, Zarbon," his companion answered. "I just met up with him. He assured me that Vegeta received it."
"Hmn…this is all wet baloney," Zarbon looked at the Rolls Royce. "He’s either that brave or…Dodoria, weren’t you the one who typed the message?"
"What exactly did it say?"
"I got a copy here that I kept just in case," Dodoria reached down his pocket and handed a piece of paper to his partner. The taller man’s almond eyes had barely traveled over the paper for a second when he held out his hand and slapped the back of the stout man’s head.
"You little sap!" he yelled. "No wonder he isn’t too bothered to go out on his own! This is a joke! He probably thought it was! Do you think anyone could be threatened by this letter?!"
"Well, you said to lay it out fast and straight so—"
"Never mind!" the green haired man handed the paper back. "I’ll talk to him myself."
"Hey! Wait for me!" called the pink-skinned man, as he struggled to keep up with his friend.
"Where the hell is she?!" Vegeta thought, impatiently drumming his fingers against the table. He suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu. It had been this way almost two months ago, when he had waited for Bulma to come out so he could ask her out for the night. He could almost see her walking towards him in that red Art deco dress, her jaded strands shielded by a red cap. A tap on his shoulder pulled him back to reality.
"You Vegeta?" asked a pale man in the same dark striped suit as the pudgy man beside him.
"Yeah? What about it?" the boxer frowned at the men. Without his invitation, the tall man sat down on Bulma’s seat and took off his hat, running his fingers over his smooth green hair.
"Where do I sit?" the bald man complained, his dark purplish lips curving to a pout.
"You can stand there!" answered the man seated across the boxer.
"Who the hell are you, people?!" the ebony-haired man asked, quite fed up by now.
"Oh, I’m sorry. How rude of us. We haven’t introduced ourselves yet. I’m Zarbon Kelly and this little guy here is Dodoria Eastman," Zarbon held out his hand to shake. The man he offered it to gave him one disgusted look of disapproval. Shamefully, he withdrew his hand.
"What do you want?!" Vegeta barked.
"Did you receive the letter?"
"This letter," Dodoria showed the piece of paper in front of the man’s onyx eyes. He let a short grunt.
"So you’re the clowns who sent it to me," his lips curled into a smirk. "Trying to scare me to death with one sentence?"
"This is serious," Zarbon’s cream-brown eyes narrowed coldly, his voice lowering into a whisper. "We have choppers in our car and a pistols in our pockets. Would you like us to use it on you?!"
"Try me," the prince stated menacingly. The tall man’s pearly white fingers reached inside his pocket, hesitating over the handle of a silver handgun.
"Can’t do it, can you?" Vegeta scoffed. "Of course, you can’t. I know all about you Seven Dragons. You’re boss won’t be too happy to learn that you’ve killed me…especially in a public place."
"Besides," he continued, "You wouldn’t want your top secret syndicate to be exposed, would you? I’ve still kept the threat letter you gave me and I won’t hesitate sending it to the feds."
"My, my…you do know how to make threats yourself, do you?" Zarbon sat back, grinning. "I’ll bet you could’ve made a good member to our group. But that’s not why we came here."
"I’m not losing the championship," the boxer said gruffly through gritted teeth.
"We thought you’d say that," the almond-eyed man crossed his arms across his chest, his flexed biceps protruding from his suit. "You can be assured that you will not be killed…at least, not yet. But we do know of someone you care about."
That got the rich man’s attention. He didn’t know why, but it was Bulma’s face that first came into his mind. For all he knew, this syndicate could have kept a close eye on him during their several outings together. The look on his face made the pale man’s grin wider.
"What if that certain someone were to suddenly be found dead by…oh say…tomorrow? Perhaps sooner?" the gang member flicked the rogue olive strands that had covered part of his beautiful face. His bald partner began giggling incessantly.
"Sorry, Mac," the gangster continued. "We’re just doing our job. We won’t be discussing the reasons why our boss wanted this. So what do you say? Do we have a deal?"
Before their victim could answer, all three men were interrupted by the booming voice of the emcee.
"Isn’t it great listening to holiday music?" he called to the crowd, which responded with cheers and applauses. "But we’re gonna take a break from all that t’night and give ya’ll some nice romantic music brought to you by none other than, Miss Bulma Briefs!"
Much to Vegeta’s surprise and dismay, Bulma appeared on the stage, basked under the spotlight. She blew a kiss at her beau, unable to see the two other men beside him under the glare of lights around her.
"Hi!" she waved. "I don’t know if you remember me, but I last performed here about two months ago and—"
"I remember you, Bulma!" one man called.
"Me too! Why aren’t you wearing that sparkling mini dress? We loved that!"
"As I was saying," the viridian haired woman smiled. "I set foot here on the platform not only to sing for all lovers out there, but also for a special someone who’s here with me tonight. This is for you."
And so the music begins…
Someday he'll come along, the man I love
His smile will be a song, the man I love
And when he comes my way
I'll do my best to make him stay
"Wow…" Zarbon mused. "She’s an absolute doll! And that voice…"
I'll look at him and smile,
And in a little while I'll take his hand
And though it seems absurd
I know we both won't say a word
"Hot dawg! That up there’s a real smarty!" Dodoria added, his lustful eyes fixed on the nightclub singer. "Whoever that guy she’s singin’ about is awfully lucky!"
"You mean you don’t know her?!" Vegeta questioned.
"Why would we? It’s our first time here and…the first time I’ve ever seen such a breathtaking apparition," the tall gangster’s fingers raked over his pine colored hair, smoothening it.
Maybe I will meet him Sunday
Maybe Monday, maybe not
But I'm sure I'll meet him one day
Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day
The wealthy boxer ceased to speak. This was a great escape from the gang’s clutches. Now he knew that these men knew nothing of his relationship with Bulma. He won’t have to lose the tournament or his mistress.
"They probably saw me with my previous dates," he thought. Now, all he has to do is hope that the flapper would have the sense not to mention his name.
I'll build a little home, just meant for two
From which we'll never roam; Who would, would you?
And so all else above I'm waiting for the man I love
The crowd cheered wildly as the nightclub singer struck the final note of the song. Her face radiated under the spotlights and the adorations of the audience.
"Thank you, all! Thank you! Happy Holidays!" she waved a last goodbye before disappearing under the curtains.
"That was amazing!" Dodoria exclaimed.
"And how!" Zarbon nodded. "I’m going to ask her out."
"No! You can’t!!" Vegeta’s hand was quickly on the pale man’s muscled arm, stopping him in his tracks.
"Oh? And why shouldn’t I?!" he forcefully pulled his arm out of the prince’s grasp.
"I mean…I…I’m not going to lose the championship!" the man’s inky brows met in the middle, the creases tightening on his forehead. "I don’t care what you do! Now, beat it or I’ll call the cops!"
A moment of silence covered the table as all three men exchanged hateful looks. Then, Zarbon took his cap and put it over his head, as did his comrade.
"You’re going to regret this!" he threateningly pointed one pale finger at the athlete before the two gangsters exited out the door. When he heard the rumbles of a car engine and the squeal of tires, the boxer let out a deep sigh of relief. Then, he felt small, soft fingers sliding into his massive ones.
"Hey," Bulma whispered, a sweet smile dancing on her rose red lips. "How’d you like the song?"
"Get your coat!" Vegeta fumed, getting hold of the flapper’s wrist. "We’re leaving!"
"What?! But Vegeta…"
"No buts! We’re leaving now!!"
Muted by her lover’s harsh command, the woman meekly followed him out of the club, all the happiness fleeing from her face.
* * * * *
All wet baloney = wrong
And how! = I strongly agree
Beau = usually referring to one’s boyfriend; plural: Beaux/Beaus
Beat it = get lost
Chopper = a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, so named due to the damage its heavy .45 caliber rounds did to the human body.
Doll = an attractive woman
Feds = Federal Prohibition Officer
Hot dawg! = Great!
Sap = a fool/idiot
Screw = get lost
Smarty = a cute flapper
Swell = great/good
*The song featured here is entitled "The Man I Love" composed by Ira Gershwin in 1927. "The Man I Love" had the odd distinction of becoming a recognized standard despite its having been:
Though this song has a slower beat, not at all like the upbeat jazz, I kinda liked the lyrics. If you want to hear the midi of this song, clickHERE.