Chapter 1: The Days When It All Started
Jose Vegas had never been the kind of person to care what others thought of him. He had an air about him that just oozed cheesiness with a hint of arrogance. Some loved being around it, some others absolutely hated it and abhorred it. He hung around with a mix of people, some poor and some rich, some popular and some not popular. He never stopped to think of those kinds of things, then again, he didn't think of a lot of things.
As Nick said, he had zero limits on everything.
Girls, he had no limits with, as long as they looked good.
Parties, he had no limits on how crazy they got.
Money, he had no limits on how much he spent and what he spent it on.
It was mostly his fault, but then again, not just his. He lived in the South Bronx, a beautiful place to live if he did say so himself. Joe loved it, it was an intimate place, he knew everyone there and everyone knew him. The guys knew him, as did all the pretty girls that just adored him in the way that Joe loved. It was what he had always wanted, to feel like he meant something, as if he mattered. He knew he never really amounted to much, at least at first. His family had always been something akin to a civil war, Pepe Vegas II against Maria Josephine Vegas almost every weekend and eventually that just became too much too soon. That cute little mansion just on the edge of Hunts Point was only big enough for two, so Joe left. Catching a bus and then a train, it didn't take long for Jose to find his grandparents' place.
Joe always knew that Francesco and Tequila Vegas would let him in, they always had a soft spot for their only grandson. They would let him stay there for however long it took, as long as he did his fair share around the apartment and made sure he never had any parties. Obviously that second part was gonna be harder than he thought, partying harder than anyone else in New York was Joe's forte. However, drinking beer whilst out in the city was never a problem as long as he managed to never puke on anything at home. Again, that was something he might have well made his job in the future.
Jose Vegas: Professional Partier.
He didn't even know what to say when he realised he got accepted into the New York High School for Performing Arts. He never told his mother or father, not until they decided to call him first. That was in Senior Year, possibly the worst time to even call, even after three years of zero communication. His grandparents were absolutely delighted though, and Grandpa Vegas made it an objective that Joe received the equivalent of a reward for the hard work he'd been putting in to get into that damned school. The moment he'd opened up that letter and it said 'we're delighted to be able to say that Mister Jose Vegas has been accepted into the High School of the Performing Arts' he was bouncing all across the apartment, almost smashing his own grandmother through the plaster wall.
He might have dressed like some biker, leather jacket and ripped jeans and all yet he was still just a little kid. He'd never gotten such recognition, so perhaps he may have stretched his confidence in skill to arrogance. It may have been his fault, but entirely his fault?
"Man, just give it up!" Tyrone said, sitting next to Joe in the canteen. "She ain't looking at you the way you looking at her!"
If only Tyrone Jackson ever understood how Joe felt about any girl in PA. To some, after the stunt he pulled in Acting Class they would say it was pure teenage hormones. Perhaps it would be true, but only a few really knew how infatuated Joe got when it came to girls. Not to the extent of Jay Gatsby (who Miss Sherman seemed to absolutely abhor) but whenever he saw someone he was like some sort of lovesick puppy.
"Nah! She's crazy about me, can't you all see that?" Joe replied, still in disbelief
"The only thing she's crazy about is getting out of this place, Vegas." Mabel spoke, before shoving most of a single vanilla pudding into her maw. "Give it up, Joe. There's plenty of more fish in the sea."
If only Mabel could see how right she was. There were so many people in New York PA that Joe could have fixated on, but it just had to be Carmen Diaz. It didn't seem to be going his way, and while everyone seemed to be getting on those of the opposite gender as soon as they could, Joe was doing anything but that. Whilst getting involved in as much acting as he could do, Joe also found himself getting involved with various things that his father would have whipped him with a belt for.
Then again, Joe and Pepe hadn't spoke in months, same with his own mother. They didn't seem to care, they never spoke to him but Joe assumed that it wouldn't last long before they called him back home. He'd only be staying with Grandpa Francesco and Grandma Tequila at least for a little while before his parents begged him to come back.
It wasn't the first time that he'd ran out, but he seriously wondered if he should go back again.
"Look, maybe you're right but that doesn't mean I can't try right?"
"If you keep on shaking your ass like a damn peacock, it won't be happening anytime soon." Tyrone replied, slurping from a cup of coffee before leaning back into his chair.
"What? Like the same way you keep strutting in front of Miss Bell and Keely, Jackson?" Joe shot back.
"Her name is Iris, Iris Kelly. Not Keely." Tyrone grumbled. "Course it'd be you to get confused. You can't tell your Puerto Rican ass from your Spanish elbow! And I don't strut! I bust moves to hip-hop!"
The weird thing was that despite how annoying Joe could be, he was one of the people who never refused to follow his beliefs. If something he saw was wrong, he'd get involved and try to stop it. He seemed to be a spitfire, not unlike Carmen Diaz who he happened to desire so much. Why she had to be so beautiful, so confident in her own abilities, oh how Joe hated to be so entranced by someone as perfect as her. Everyone would tell him to give up, even the closer friends like Nicholas Piazza and Tyrone Jackson may as well have given up on trying to convince their Hispanic friend on letting go of Carmen Diaz. Yet, they knew someone like Joe could be so stupendously stubborn about such things even despite the little time that they knew each other so far.
It was at that moment when Nicholas and Serena walked into the cafeteria, with Serena pestering and hanging onto every word that he was saying to her. It was somewhat cute, yet also somewhat weird. Joe knew that every boy had some kind of attraction to a girl, but Nick was definitely different. Damn it, if someone like Serena obsessed over Joe the way she did Nick, Joe doubted his own capabilities if he could keep himself from making out with her.
It was a shame, but what was happening was happening. Joe had a bet going with Goody that at some point in the next four years that Nick and Serena would get together. There were two hundred dollars riding on that bet, but Joe never really had much luck when it came to bets. It was very rare that he was getting money and much more commonplace that he was giving it away, and large amounts too.
"You think Piazza busts any moves?" Joe asked, fiddling with the golden crucifix wrapped around his neck. "Katz is all over him, you think he's gonna want any of that?"
"Piazza ain't bustin' nuts, let alone any moves if he ain't seeing what's in front of him." Mabel replied, now scoffing down liquorish. "The guy is insane from what I heard. Always so serious about acting."
Ain't that the damn truth, the guy is a living statue. Maybe he don't know the meaning of fun yet, or he's been… oh jeez…
"Uh..." Joe groaned, gaining odd looks from Tyrone and Mabel. "You guys don't think Piazza has been… snipped?"
As soon as Joe spoke, he immediately noticed that Tyrone was now choking on his ham and cheese sandwich with his eyes wide, soon joined by Mabel as she began to use the Heimlich maneuver to wretch the bread and meat from Tyrone's throat. As soon as the deed was done, Joe received the coldest glare from the disco dancer that he would ever receive in the next four years.
"You ever mention that to me, Jose Vegas, and I will personally make sure you get snipped." Tyrone growled, cracking open a Pepsi. "You ain't gonna get anywhere with Carmen when you ain't got nothing to use."
Okay, new rule, never mention castration to Tyrone again. Also a new rule, if ever in pain, find Mabel for Heimlich…
The more that time went by, the more that Joe seemed to mellow out. At the start of the year, he seemed to be constantly high on caffeine whilst now he seemed to have calmed down and settled into the school. He had quite the following, mostly girls but a lot of the boys that wanted one of them usually found themselves becoming friends and acquaintances with Joe not too long after. After pulling the 'Can't Keep It Down' stunt in the third acting class of the year, he had about as much popularity as Tyrone did. The people loved Joe Vegas.
For the most part anyway. Schlomo Metzenbaum seemed to tolerate him just about, and Lambchops had threatened to bash Joe's brains into mush when he tried to flirt with her. However, since it was only freshman year Joe had a feeling a lot more would change over the next four years. If he could have seen into the future, he probably would have choked on a taco but it seemed that what had come to pass was what Joe was completely fine with.
He found someone who managed to love him, or at least when he wasn't high on caffeine or something else, able to tolerate him.
He just never actually imagined it to be who he thought it would be.
"Carmen! Carmen! Wait up!"
It had been a joke, nothing else really but clearly Carmen had not taken it in such a way. Okay, maybe Joe had said a few things that could have been construed as slightly offensive, but he didn't control himself. He was incapable of doing so, although many of the teachers said that was completely untrue. He ran through the corridor, trying to get through the masses of students that blocked him, stopped him from getting to the girl that he was just so infatuated with.
Why did he love her so? Why did someone like Carmen Diaz have to be so attractive, so amazing, so unique, so fantastically spectacular and special that she had enchanted Joe in such a way. It had always been true, Joe being a sucker for a pretty girl or five but Carmen Diaz was something different. She was someone Joe could see himself spending time with, seeing her made his heart skip a beat or fifty.
"Look, Joe." Carmen said, turning to the young boy, dragging him into a quiet classroom before slamming the door shut and locking it. "Get the message, I don't like you. You are like so many other guys it's almost infuriating! Actually, no, you just try to be like those guys. You're just a little boy, trying to be a man, pretending to be a big boy so you can get the pretty girl. Newsflash! It ain't happening!"
"Look, please, just let me explain..."
"Joe! Please, for once, shut up! Look, I don't want to be in a relationship with anyone at the moment, comprende?" Carmen asked. "Jose, look, I like you. You are a good guy, even though you have 'problems' controlling yourself down there..."
Jose muttered something unintelligible for a moment. "Joe, what did you say?" She inquired.
"I..." Joe started. "I said nobody else calls me Jose like you do. I kinda like it."
"Awh, how sweet. Little Joe really does have a heart under all those hormones."
Joe sighed as Carmen began to sway slightly, with a small smirk on her face. Calling him 'Little Joe' seemed to have some kind of humbling effect on him. Even more noticeable was when his cheeks began to redden a little bit. Carmen even giggled slightly when the blood began to rush to his cheeks, but then again, Joe was more thankful for the fact that the blood wasn't rushing to another certain part of his body.
"You think… we could catch a film sometime? I know a place we can get in for free?" Joe asked, suddenly.
"You know what, I think I'd like that a lot." Carmen replied. "Maybe next week? If you're man enough, we can go and see The Shining?"
"Pfff, am I man enough?" Joe shrugged. "Course I am."
"So, you actually managed to get with Carmen Diaz? No freakin' way." Nick said as he and Joe left their class.
"Well, if you mean 'get with' you mean 'felt up those melones like their was no tomorrow' then..."
"Nope. I don't believe it." Nick reaffirmed. "There is absolutely zero way of you gettin' with Carmen Freaking Diaz."
"Well, I was gonna say that I didn't but if you wanna tell the media that then that is cool with me, hermano."
Nick looked at Joe in the same way, straight faced, with almost the same grimace he carried himself with throughout the halls of the New York High School of Performing Arts. He was analysing the young Puerto Rican, with those bright blue eyes of his. The taller actor moved forward, with Joe following close behind him. The young actors had the eyes of a couple of the dancing girls, and although Joe never particularly minded, he could tell that the young Serena Katz was not too happy with the girls ogling 'her man'.
"Enough about me, hombre." Joe started. "What about you? You found yourself a pretty lady yet?"
"Jeez, I ain't told you enough already? I'm not into that, at least not at the moment." Nick replied, placing his copy of An Actor Prepares into his bag.
"So, even if Little Miss Perfect or as you know her, Miss Serena Katz were to jump on your bones right now..." Joe began.
"No, even if she were offering herself, which she wouldn't..."
"Do you know that?"
Before Nick could continue, Joe dragged him off to the next lesson which turned out to be Math. Even despite them being polar opposites, like most people, the two had become unlikely friends.
Yoyoyo, my dudes…
So, while I continue to write up for Riverdale and some possible one shots, I may start writing little tidbits for Fame: The Musical. It's taken up most of my time, with it being my school musical and since I auditioned and gained the role of the legendary Joe Vegas, I thought it would be best if I wrote from his perspective, especially since there's very little writing from his POV.
Hopefully I will write more for this in the coming days!