CHURCH, The Television Show
His car was black. His suit was black. His hair was black. He said that he was a good person. He said nothing at all.
He wasn’t memorable. Even The Spook had forgotten his birth name. “You’re finished,” he said to DJ.
“I just need more time. We were getting close. Pawn was supposed to lead us to them, to the terrorists. He fucked up. He was out of control. I have other assets. We’ll find the sleepers, I just need more time,” DJ pleaded. “Pawn fucked it up, he was out of control,” he circled round and round.
The Spook just stood there. He stared. He waited until DJ was defeated by his own energy.
“It was pawn’s fault, you gotta listen to me,” DJ continued. “You can’t shut me down. You have no authority over me. I work for the Queen!”
The Spook took one step backwards, and then disappeared into thin air.
On the following night, The Manager met The Egyptian at a cocktail party for Industry types in The City.
“I’m opening a new club in The City,” The Egyptian said. “It’s going to be a club’s club: small, lounge like, intimate with a crowd of regulars. I’ve heard that you’re good with people, and I want you to run the place. You’ll be at capacity every night. You’ll have groupies. You’ll run the show man!”
“Wow,” Manager smiled, “thank you for thinking of me. But I already have a job. I work for DJ.”
“Well, here’s my card. If you ever re-consider, have a full staff ready. It’s going to be called State.”
The Manager was loyal. He didn’t even consider The Egyptian’s offer. Until he got home and found a brown envelope slipped under his door. Inside the envelope were photographs; photographs of The Manager standing with Pawn on the night of his death.
Photographs in the wrong hands, like the hands of The Detective, were big trouble. Like twenty to life trouble.
He met DJ in the offices of Club Babylon. “It’s over,” The Manager said.
“It’s not over!” DJ cried. “I work for The Queen!”
“Right…well, this is America, so see how that goes for you,” The Manager said then walked right into the middle of the Club.
“Listen-up everybody: I’ve heard in advance, because Pawn fatefully jumped from our fire-escape, that The City’s shutting us down. DJ has plans to go back to England. And I’m opening a new club with The Egyptian. It’s going to be really cool. Every one of you will have a job waiting for you. Sleep on it, figure it out, give me a call by tomorrow morning,” The Manager finished and walked out of Club Babylon for the very last time.
DJ went back to London where he was recognized everywhere as a spy. No one would do business with him. He’d lost friends in England’s club scene. DJ was very lonely.
Back in The City, State was a huge success, and everyone was happy again. That is, everybody except for The Italian and his Gang at the Roxbury.
The Prince was at his father’s house for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful time to conduct business, all of the Pigs listening to wires were asleep from turkey’s tryptophan, The Gang’s women were busy in the kitchen, and the rest of the nation was mindlessly chanting for their favorite football team. The Prince and his father had the room to themselves, and this year, there was plenty to talk about.
“What do you mean this is it!” The Italian said and threw an envelope containing $10,000 in cash into his fireplace. Flames engulfed the money and the fire lit up his face. “That’s fucking kindling!”
The Prince was scared; he’d seen this rage when he was a child.
“The Mayor of Mill Town is up for re-election this year- if we lose him we lose the clubs there, the police, the fucking streets and all their trade. The Congressman needs money for the waterfront. The Councilman needs money to keep the banks from developing The Old Neighborhood, and The Community Organizer needs money to keep the black gangs pitted against one another. We’re losing The Hotel to taxes. We’re losing Cold Hill to Yuppies. Why did I put you in charge? Don’t you know how this works? We need money! We need money to pay those god-damn greedy Pigs or else we’re going to end up like your fucking cousins from Gotham in the Federal Penitentiary. I didn’t bust my ass for forty years so you could piss everything away!”
The Price just stared at his father, sullen. He’d sold one of his cars to pass that ten grand.
“We need a half million cash by Christmas, and that’s just to keep control. Sell the row-houses!”
“Dad, the market is messed up – it will take six months to a year to clear even one of those, and half of them are underwater. It’ll be a huge loss.”
“Then raise the rents!”
“They’re illegals. Most of their income comes from working under the table in our restaurants, which are barely turning a profit as it is.”
“Then push more product!”
“You mean less product! Last year by this time we’d cleared 2,000 Turkeys. On the streets we lose and average of one Turkey to the cops for every one we sell. We need the Roxbury. We need the ability to market to a wider demographic than the streets, and we need to be able to sell indoors, away from the eyes of The Police!”
“What about the Lumber Business?”
“Thank God for decriminalization. The trees are the only thing keeping us afloat. But at this point, additional production will put downward pressure on prices.”
“And the Newspaper Business?”
“The internet beat those a while ago. I’m telling you, the Roxbury was the sun that everything else revolved around. It’s 2010, we can’t be outside selling drugs, it’s too much exposure!”
“That damned Ambulance Driver. I should have kept him alive just so I could kill him a thousand more times! This is war, kill our enemies, kill them all!”
Noodle woke up early in the morning smiling about a dream he’d had the night before. Befly.
Plus, he was in love with the Army. Soon he’d be flying around in helicopters freeing the world and spreading democracy. There was no place else in life that Noodle would rather be.
He left his house to go running. He waved to everyone in the neighborhood and told them that he’d see them at the next big MetroNorth Main Streets meeting.
When he returned home he checked his stopwatch. He was ready to take the Army Physical Abilities Test. He called The Recruiter and scheduled it for the next day.
Back in London, MI-6 cruised by The DJ’s flat. “How are you old Chap?”
“My life’s in ruins! Nobody will work with me. Those Americans are cheeky bastards to run me out of town like that!”
“Oh, don’t fret about it so much. You know how these things work – the sun will come out again. Haven’t you heard, The Roxbury’s been closed for a bit?”
“What’s that got to do with me?”
“Because of it, The Gang’s rackets are drying up. They’re underwater. They need money…they need to get their club back in business.”
“Where’d you hear that? The wires?”
“Nah. NSA. They’re on everybody’s cell phone. They can listen in even when the phone’s off and in your pocket. They call it The Patriot Act.”
“Go back to America,” MI-6 instructed. “Pay a visit to the Frenchman from The Hotel. The Yanks will take care of the rest. They’re planning to double down on our club ventures and nab the Arabs and Italians at the same time. God Bless America!”
So DJ flew back to The City and met with The Frenchman, presenting himself as a world renowned disc-jockey and management consultant.
“I started Club Babylon; I booked some of the hottest performers this City has ever seen! It was fantastic, but the cops came and fucked it all up. They put me out of business. They stole my life. That’s why I’m coming to you, because of The Italian’s special kind of relationships.”
“We hate cops! I’ll get you a meeting,” The Frenchman said. “What about the License Board? They’re the ones who really hold the keys.”
“Don’t worry about them, I know people,” DJ smiled.
The NSA was well connected to the political machine, in every city, in every state in the country. They had Federal politics behind them. They had Federal money behind them. They had National Intelligence behind them. And, when all else failed, they had their secret cell phone taps, photographers, spies, and political assassins. To get The Mayor to get The License Board to re-approve The Club, without anyone ever suspecting who was behind it; for the NSA, that was a piece of cake.
So DJ sat down with The Italian. “First off, this whole ethnic think you have going isn’t working. It’s too fucking obvious. Having your gangsters work inside your club isn’t working. It’s too fucking obvious. And making all your money selling water to ravers isn’t working. It got you shut down. I have a way to get you back in business, we’ll build the biggest Gang This City has ever seen, and you’ll be making more money than you ever dreamed!”
The Italian turned to the Frenchman, “Where’d you get this guy,” he laughed.
“Listen, I’m just a DJ, but hear me out. We renovate the place; we bring in all these couches and get a lounge vibe going. We get bartenders to stand at peoples tables and pour vodka drinks on the spot: Hot girls, young girls, college girls. We’ll charge something absurd, like a thousand dollars for a bottle of Mongoose, five thousand dollars for a bottle on the stage.”
“You’re crazy. No-one is going to pay that much.”
“That’s the beauty. It’s how you collect on your debts, collect for your product, and collect on whatever else it is that you guys produce from your dealers and henchmen. You collect and clean the money at the same time. And your dealers are going to love it. Guys that aren’t your dealers are going to want to start working of you because they’re doing business with some hot college chic who believes that she’s just a cocktail waitress, instead of having to deal with Guido back there.”
“Show some respect,” The Italian said with open arms.
“Next, we ink a deal with a big name Gotham City concert promoter. It keeps the club open and earning revenue on weekdays, it brings in a whole new world of Gotham connections for you to network with, and it promotes your club to a newer, younger, hipper generation than that dying rave scene.”
“What do we do about the License Board? They’re the ones who shut us down.”
“Well first, you’re going to fire your entire staff. It was all their fault, you had no idea what was going on. You’re opening a brand new club, and it’ll look like you’re trying to stay above board with all these young, pretty, college aged faces working as staff. That way, your made-guys can work as ‘promoters’ and ‘drivers’ and ‘marketers’. It gives them more time to do what they do best, they don’t fuck up the day to day operations, and they fly below the radar because they don’t technically work here. Also, you rotate them around so nobody sees them in the club too often – like Friday night promoters are different from the Saturday night ones. Your customers are your real employees: your dealers, your extorters, your pimps, your hookers, your politicians, your union leaders, your slum lords. When they get caught, it never comes back to you; they were just a customer who you’ve never met before.”
“Still, the cops know our guys.”
“That’s why you quit the street stuff and go right to the top. You organize the whole city. The Colombians, the Asians, the Greeks, the Blacks, the Haitians, even the Arabs. Definitely get the Arabs; they are huge these days into financial services – insider trading and market manipulation and shit. Just think of what you can do with those guys on your side!”
“And how do we get a whole new staff of over seventy people without getting stuck with a slew of Narcs or college kids that are going to figure out what’s really going on?”
“You ‘adopt’ a club that’s already in business – steal a team that’s already in place.”
“How on earth do we ‘steal’ a team?”
DJ pulls out a manila folder with photos, photos of The Manager from Club Babylon dumping Pawn over the railing of the fire-escape. “Blackmail,” DJ laughs. “It’s The Egyptian’s new guy, Manager, from State. Show him these photos, gently drop that you know a few police who would be interested in the pics, and whamo- you’ve got him for life!”
“I like the way this guy thinks!” The Prince admitted.
“But what do we call it?” The Italian still challenged.
“MAJESTY!” DJ retorted.
“Looks like we’re back in business,” The Italian stood up to shake DJ’s hand; “You’re hired!”
And with that handshake, so were British Intelligence, the NSA, and the American political machine.
The next night, after Manager had closed State, he found The Orphan sitting on his front steps. “You The Manager?”
“Yeah, what’s it to you?”
“It’s your lucky day. How’d you like to re-open The Roxbury?”
“And work for The Italian? No thanks.”
“You know, it’s not a choice.”
“What are you going to do, beat me up?”
“Two weeks from tomorrow,” The Orphan said and dropped the photograph. “Keep it, I have plenty of these,” he said and walked away.
The Manager took the photo inside, burned it, and gave his notice to State the next day. When he reported to the old Roxbury, the only one at The Club was DJ.
“Welcome back Manager!”
“DJ, what are you thinking? These people are animals!”
“Come on, it’ll be great. These animals might be the only people the Arabs will trust. Plus, I need your staff.”
“Why, so you can get one of them killed again?”
“I know you’ve grown quite fond of your children. Why don’t you just reach out to your contacts in the Army? Maybe this time we can get someone with a little bit of discipline, someone you won’t try to kill me if he loses.”
Manager, the ex-Marine, followed orders. He rallied his staff at State. He told them Majesty was going to be the next big thing in The City; that it was going to be the biggest thing ever in The City. He reached out to the Army and got three candidates.
“This one guy looks great,” Manager said to DJ. “He’s going to be a helicopter pilot. The Gang is going to salivate – he’s into real-estate, and he’s a community leader. He’s smart. He’s got no record. And get this, when the Army ran him through one of their exercises, he made everyone of their operatives, and then he just went home! He didn’t confront them, he didn’t tell anyone about it, he didn’t even tell his friends. He’s like a ninja; he talks to no-one!”
“What’s his name?” The DJ asked.
“Noodle!” The Manager exclaimed.
Donate then continue reading with Season One Episode Five!