Moonlight shone through the open window of a fancy room in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, catching the sparkle of dust that suspended the night air. The four walls echoed with the sound of rhythmic snoring coming from its tenant. A small flame flickered in the shadows as Bulma lit a cigarette. Putting the matchbox on the bedside table, she breathed out the grayish smoke from the burning tobacco, releasing it into the air like a ghost in the night. She sat down silently on the king-sized mattress covered with blue silk spreads, pondering on her thoughts. She turned her head of green locks to the man snoring beside her. He seemed dead to the world; his mouth gaped open, taking in and breathing out air. What happened a few hours ago seemed more like a dream: if it was good or bad, she really couldn’t decide. Almost being raped was bad but in the end, though she hated to admit it, she had experienced such immense pleasure.
"Damn you, men!" she cursed to herself, her blue eyes following the streak of light out the window and into direct view of the quarter moon. Tears soon began to well up in her eyes, making them glisten under the moonlight, as she recalled a distant memory that was lodged deep inside her mind…
The huge truck headed for the ports of Bremen swayed from side to side as its tires traveled upon miles and miles of muddy, pot-holed roads, its passengers holding on to their seats, afraid they will fall off if they let go. An eleven-year-old girl with long forest green hair held up by a bonnet wrapped her arms tightly around the slim waist of her blonde mother, who in turn, was holding the hand of her gray-haired husband. The little girl stared with inquisitive eyes at a tall gentleman in front of her. She knew he couldn’t be German, for his clothes reminded her of her American neighbors. The man smiled at her through his thick mustache, which was as black as his hair. The blue-eyed girl buried her face against her mother’s lap but her eyes constantly fleet back to stare at the figure that loomed before her.
"Hey, little girl," the man tried to coax her to show her face. "Don’t be shy…wait…" he rummaged through the suitcase he had with him. The girl watched him curiously, 100% sure now that he was an American.
"Ah…here we are," the man produced a large piece of fudge covered chocolate chip cookie with chopped walnuts and shredded coconut protruding from its circular form. The shy lass licked her lips. She knew it was a van houten…and how she loved the taste of that treat.
"Come on now…" the dark-haired man gave an encouraging smile. "It’s safe…trust me."
The girl reached out and grabbed the cookie quickly; so quickly in fact, that it made the man laugh. The child cringed back to her mother’s side.
"Vat do you zay to zee nize gentleman Vulma?" her father asked.
"Th-thank you, sir," Bulma looked at the gentleman, and then at her father, who gave her a smile of approval. She returned the smile and started to devour the treat given to her.
"You can speak English?!" the American asked, astonished. Bulma’s father nodded.
"Yah. My family an I have lived in your country for over a decade," he answered in a thick German accent, his gray mustache forming the outline of his smile as he reached out his hand to shake. "I am Dr. Kartoffel Unterhosen. Ziz iz my vife, Lebkuchen Unterhosen and my dauter, Vulma Unterhosen."
"Bulma!" the girl corrected as she munched away on her snack..
"Oh, excuze me. Bulma," Kartoffel chuckled. "An you are?"
"Just call me Veldock," the man smiled as he let go of the doctor’s hand. "So, I reckon your daughter was born in America?"
"Yah. Chen here vent into labor zee moment vee stepped down from zee ship," Dr. Unterhosen held Lebkuchen’s hand tightly. "Vul—Bulma here vaz vorn in Vrooklin," Kartoffel corrected himself when he saw the look of reprimand in his daughter’s eyes.
"Vrooklin? Oh, you mean Brooklyn? So, you migrated to New York?"
"Yah. I vaz looking for a beter job for zee future ov my upcoming family. I already had a degree in my hometown of Dresden. Finding a job az a doctor in Nuu Yok vaz fairly eazy."
"Dresden huh? No wonder your little girl looks like a Dresden doll," Veldock commented. Lebkuchen smiled and ran her hands over Bulma’s dark green hair.
"Thank zee gentleman, Bulma," Lebkuchen put her arm around the girl’s shoulder.
"Why Mama? I did that a while ago," Bulma gave her mother a confused look. She had been too preoccupied by the van houten to listen.
"No need to thank me. I’m only telling the truth," the dark-haired man smiled. "I’ve brought some Dresden porcelain for my wife as well. She loves her china. And the van houten I gave little Bulma is just an extra piece I keep for emergencies. I’ve bought about ten boxes because my son has such an appetite for sweets," he laughed. "He’s about the same age as little Miss Dresden Doll here."
"So, you have a family ov your own? Ver are zey?" Dr. Kartoffel gave his daughter a tissue to clean her fudge-streaked face. Bulma was usually careful with her food but with the truck moving the way it was, keeping clean was practically impossible.
"They’re in the Bronx county of upper New York," Veldock replied. "Funny how we both lived in the same state and only meet in a country several thousand miles away."
"Zee vorld vorks in myzteriouz vayz," the doctor agreed. "Vat made you come to Germany?"
"I had certain businesses to attend to," the ebony-haired man waved off the topic. "I don’t really want to talk about it. A bomb had exploded outside the inn my manager and I were staying at. He was killed on the spot."
"I am zorry…"
"That’s okay. All I really care about now is going back to my family. How about you? What brought you back to your old place?"
"My muzzer died rezently. Vee came to zee her for zee laz time. Ven zee country declared war against Russia, vee decided to go back home vile vee still can. Coinsidenz how you should hav zumwan you know die az my muzzer died."
"Yeah…coinci—WHOA!" Veldock was cut short when the silence of the night was suddenly shattered by the deafening noise of gunfire. The startled driver had veered the steering wheel too far off to the right that the truck toppled over on its side. The passengers’ screams could barely be heard through the exchange of gunshots from almost all sides. Lebkuchen wrapped her arms protectively around a frantic Bulma as heavy bodies crushed them to their seat. But it was only for a few moments, as the passengers quickly made their way out of the fallen vehicle.
"Chen! Vulma! Are you two alright?" Dr. Unterhosen helped his family up.
"Ve’re fine, Kartoffel," Lebkuchen assured her husband as she wiped the tears from her daughter’s face.
"Are you okay?" Veldock asked the Unterhosen family.
"Vee are fi—look! Zoldierz!" the gray-haired German pointed behind the American. They all turned at the troop, which were several feet away from them. They began shouting in a language Veldock could not understand.
"What did they say?!" he asked loudly, for the sound of guns and explosions had overwhelmed the entire place.
"Zat iz not German!" Dr. Unterhosen’s eyes were now wide with fear. "Zay are Russians!"
The Russian soldiers shouted something more and to the shock and horror of the passengers, aimed their weapons straight at them, firing several rounds.
"Get down!" Veldock pushed the Unterhosen family to the ground as a dozen or so bullets drove unmercifully through his body. Bulma screamed upon the sight of blood that came from the man who had been nice to her.
"Veldock! Veldock!" the doctor shouted, trying to help his newly found friend but when he saw his injuries, he knew that this man was never going to make it. Veldock had taken all of the bullets, which would have rained upon the family if he had not blocked them.
"G-go…" came the man’s weak, hoarse voice. "Go while you still can…"
"Veldock…vat can vee ever do to repay you?"
"Just…give…this…" Veldock produced a small envelope, stained with his own blood. "…to my…family…"
"Yez. Tell uz your family name an vee vill send it," Dr. Unterhosen slipped the envelope inside his daughter’s pocket. "Veldock? Vel—" Kartoffel’s words hung in mid-air. Veldock’s eyes were wide open…yet all the life had fled away from them. The doctor bent his head down. Lebkuchen carried Bulma in her arms, tears flowing freely from both pairs of eyes.
"Zee Good Lord shall reward you greatly, my friend," the doctor ran his palm over his friend’s eyes, symbolically drawing down the curtains to his life. Oblivious to the roar of gunshots around them, they bend their heads down in prayer.
"Okay. Let’z go!" Kartoffel ran with his family after a few moments of mourning to the German army truck that was taking the evacuees to the port. Bulma’s eyes never left the lifeless form that lay covered in blood. Tears flowed freely from her eyes as the small piece of van houten was crushed in her small hand.
"Thank you Mister!!!" she called out sorrowfully, amidst all the noise and the screams of other people, struggling up the truck. German soldiers helped Lebkuchen and Bulma into the vehicle. No sooner had they started loading the trucks with passengers, when it was filled to overflowing.
"There’z no room for me. You have to go!" Dr. Unterhosen looked up at his family from the muddy path, together with other men who had decided to leave themselves behind in favor of the women and children. One young lady was constantly crying, holding her fiancé’s hand as the truck began to start. The mother and daughter clung together, the tires driving the vehicle forward.
Bulma watched in disbelief as the truck sped away, her father fading from view. Then the gunshots came…and Kartoffel fell face down on the muddy path.
Bulma buried her tear-streaked face in her hands, her shoulders shaking from her sobs. A soft breeze blew from the window, carrying the grayish mist emanating from the unfinished cigarette sitting on the ashtray. Vegeta stirred in his sleep. The flapper stiffened for a while, waiting to see if the rich boxer would wake. To her relief, he didn’t. She wouldn’t want to answer any questions. He didn’t look like the kind of man who would understand what she’s been through. Fourteen long years had passed since she had witnessed her father’s demise. She and her mother boarded a ship on the ports of Bremen and managed to return to New York unscathed, yet emotionally scarred. Lebkuchen, being a housewife, could only find job as a waitress in Buffalo. After five years of hardship and poverty, she died of Tuberculosis, unable to buy the highly priced medicine needed to improve her health. Bulma was then taken under the wing of her relatives living in Queens, who weren’t exactly happy having another mouth to feed. With both parents gone and relatives who treated her indifferently, she longed to feel the warmth of being loved once more, as she had when she wasn’t left orphaned by war. At twenty-three, she decided to leave the county, leading a life of vice, booze and men, struggling to find love in each one she encountered…but it was all the same. All they wanted was a bit of nookie after which, they leave her with a few dollars short from her wallet. She soon decided to play hardball, leaving her men with empty pockets and broken hearts…almost like giving them a taste of their own medicine. She changed her name to Briefs, in order to keep her original German name clean of her shameful indiscretions. She turned to singing and performing in nightclubs to help her get by.
Then, she met Yamcha Jones, a successful and handsome businessman, at one of her performances in Brooklyn. She was swept off her feet by this debonair bachelor, who said all the right things at the right time…and perhaps the reason she believed him was because she wanted to think that a man could still love a vamp like her. She hoped and prayed he did, but the rumors she heard about his escapades with younger women were all too confirmed.
Suddenly, Vegeta turned to his side. Bulma’s blue eyes widened at the sight of his face. Now that he wasn’t sneering and that his eyebrows had tuned to a more relaxed position, there was a vague familiarity to his face. That feeling of déjà vu made her stomach stir uncomfortably. She turned her sights to the small clock sitting on the bedside table, it’s golden surface reflecting the fading moonlight.
"Jeepers!" she gasped. It was almost five in the morning. Yamcha would be coming to her apartment by six...and the Bronx was still a long way off. She rose from the bed and quickly put on her clothes. After a few minutes, she had her hand around the doorknob, ready to leave; but something caught her eye. Vegeta’s bulging wallet sat on the dresser, taunting the flapper. Bulma licked her lips. She couldn’t resist the temptation. Making as little noise as possible, she strode towards the dresser and opened the wallet. She counted it first…$2,250, all in crisp one hundred dollar bills. She was about to take some of it when she lifted her head to look at man she had made love with. She didn’t know what made her look and she cursed herself for it. Something she saw in him made her heart jump to her throat. It wasn’t because he was handsome. There was something else…she just couldn’t put her finger into it.
"I…I can’t do this!" dropping the wallet as if it were on fire, she fled out of the room, slamming the door as she departed.
"What do you mean you can’t break a fifty?!" Bulma fumed at the taxi driver. She had finally arrived at her apartment, just a few minutes before six. The clean, red-bricked building stood tall, waiting for the entrance of one of its tenants.
"It’s early in the mornin’, lady. What d’you think of me? A piggy bank?!" the driver waved the money in front of the woman’s face. "Either you give me the twelve fifty or you let me keep the change."
"Why you little…"
"Here. This is exactly twelve dollars and fifty cents," came a man’s voice as s blue-stripe sleeved arm reached in the taxi window, holding the exact amount. The driver sighed in exasperation, reluctantly handing back the fifty-dollar bill and pocketing the money offered by the man. When the taxi sped away, Bulma turned to the person who had paid her fare.
"Hello, honey doll," Yamcha wrapped his arms around the woman’s slim waist. "You just got home I see…come on. Pucker up those lovely kissers for me," he leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. The flapper started to put her arms around his neck, when she saw a reddish smudge on his collar.
"That’s lipstick!" she pointed, her eyes wide.
"You cheating scoundrel!" the flat of her palm was quickly on the businessman’s face, the reddish outline of her hand clearly visible on his cheek.
"Bulma! Wait!" Yamcha cried as Bulma stormed past him and ran up to the apartment. As she hurried up the stairs, she began to think less of the building after spending a night at the Ritz…though this particular place was the most expensive in the whole neighborhood. She slammed the door, its hinges squeaking in complaint. She took off her cap and flung it on her unused bed. Taking off her fur-lined Art deco dress, she stood in front of her large closet, rummaging for something else to wear. She had put on a blue skirt that reached below her knees and was looking for the matching coat when her beau stepped inside the room.
"Hey, know…what’s wrong with you?"
"What’s wrong with me is you always break your promises!" Bulma shot him a look. "You told me you’d be at the Harlem Nights to watch me perform!"
"I was there," he answered truthfully, holding up his hands. "They kicked me out. What could I do?"
"Kicked you out? They knew you were there to see me. Why would they do that?"
"You were necking up some quiff again, weren’t you?!"
"First of all she’s not a quiff. She’s a business partner and—WHOA!" Yamcha ducked as a shoe flew straight past him.
"You just never quit, do you!?" Bulma cried, before sitting heavily on her bed, making her bounce as she settled her head on her palms. Her beau looked at her for a moment; then, he reached out and put both of his hands on her shoulders.
"Look. When we met, I told you I wasn’t monogamous. You said you weren’t either. Don’t tell me you changed your mind after only three months!" his hands started to make circular motions upon the woman’s stressed muscles.
"Well maybe I did change my mind!" the flapper flared, flinging her hand against her beau’s.
"Oh, really?" Yamcha gave out a sly smile. "How come you have a hickey on your neck?"
Bulma’s hand immediately flew to where Vegeta had nipped at her flesh. She could still feel the wound stinging. The powder she had patted to conceal it was all but gone.
"Your such a little liar…that’s why I love you" the businessman smiled, encircling his woman’s waist with his arm. "Who was it this time?"
"Do you really have to know?!" she complained and pushed him away. "I’m very tired now, Yamcha. If you have nothing more to say, you can leave."
"Fine with me. Bet you don’t even know his name anyway. Just save yourself for me tonight, okay? I’m going back to my room to get some shuteye. That little tramp had me too worn out."
Bulma shook her head in disgust as Yamcha walked out the door, and into his room on the next two floors. They would’ve gotten only one room for themselves, but as Yamcha said, he wasn’t monogamous. He comes when he needs her but often times, would stay in his room with another woman. The green-haired lass sat back on her bed wringing her hands together. She didn’t know what made her stay in this relationship. Before, it was because Yamcha was the one who helped her up her feet: helping her pay her debts and showering upon her expensive gifts. Even her classy apartment room was a gift from her beau. But there were those times he would take her out to romantic dinners and movies, bringing her flowers and doing everything a gentleman would. Bulma loved him for it, and hated herself for being such a gullible fool. Falling flat on her back upon the soft mattress, she stared thoughtlessly at the ceiling before the fatigue from last night closed her eyes.
* * * * *
Author’s notes: Okay, so there’s nothing hilarious here. But there’ll be a bit of humor in the next chapter. I promise!
Beau = usually referring to one’s boyfriend; plural: Beaux
Booze = liquor/Hooch
Doll = an attractive woman
Jeepers = just one of the many expressions used during the 20s
Kisser = lips
Neck = to kiss passionately
Nookie = sex
Quiff = a slut or cheap prostitute
Vamp = seducer of men/aggressive flirt
* I don’t know what made me decide to plant Bulma’s roots in Germany. I figured German women are one of the most beautiful in the world and it suited her.
* Unterhosen is German for Briefs. I don’t know the real names of Dr. and Mrs. Briefs so I looked for some German food for their names. Kartoffel actually means potato and Lebkuchen is spicy honey cookies.
* During the beginning of World War I, Germany declared war against Russia in 1914. There is no historic account on the Russians attacking Bremen. I made that up so sue me if you must. This is just a fanfiction anyway.
* The Deutsch(German Language) word Nein means no.
* Bremen is a port city in Northern Germany on the banks of the Weser River about 70 km from the North Sea.
*Dresden in Eastern Germany, is the capital of the historic German state of Saxony. It is particularly famous for its porcelain products.
*I actually got the words Dresden dolls from my VC Andrews novels. I figured it’s a positive comment so I added it in.
* Van Houten is a kind of chocolate chip cookie with chopped walnuts and shredded coconut. I saw on a TV show that it originated from Germany. What do I know?
* I gave Yamcha the family name Jones since I don’t know his family nameXD
* My description of Bulma’s Art Deco dress is actually inspired from what Catherine Zeta-Jones wore in Chicago, when she went to the press-con.