CHURCH, The Television Show
A long line stretched from the front door of Club Roxbury, two hundred people deep. Before the night was over, one thousand more would come in with tattoos, studded ears and bleached, neon-blonde hair.
Security made everyone open their bags and backpacks and scatter their contents across the table. Liquor bottles go into the trash. Water bottles go into the trash. Cigarette packs are riffled through, jackets are stripped off, and pockets are turned inside out.
A short girl with choppy yellow hair and made of cuddly fat, takes offense to the airport-like confiscations. “What the Ef- man! Smell it, it’s just water!”
“We don’t know what’s in there,” The Bouncer says and tosses her blue thermos bottle covered in skittle freak stickers into the trash. “You can purchase water inside.”
“Yeah, for six dollars! Can I at least have my thermos back? I’ll pour the water out.”
“Nope. Put it in your car. Wait in that line again,” he laughed.
Upstairs, two dozen different color strobe lights flashed twenty times per second. Beyond swinging legs and spinning arms, some were sweating from running around mad. For the others curled up in a ball, in corners and couches, were the gentle pleasures of hard candy and glowlight water.
Fresh water was seven dollars a bottle and the bartenders refused to dispense it free from the fountain tap. The line to the bathrooms was fifty people deep; the ravers were crowded around bathroom sinks to replenish crushed plastic containers before being shoved out by the next thirsty, dehydrated partier.
Once the club was comfortably past legal capacity, most of the security staff conducting searches moved upstairs, and the managers went into the office to kick up their feet. The Barracuda was the last one to join them.
“I’ll tell you, this music sucks, but I love rave nights,” The Barracuda professed as he handed over a thickly padded envelope. “These kids eat those pills like candy! It’s a wonderful thing on the rare occasion one of them is actually able to form a full sentence.”
The Prince fanned through the contents of the envelope. Lots, and lots of money. “Jesus, where am I going to put all of this?”
“Write it down as Cristal. Everyone knows how expensive that is.”
“Do we even sell Cristal?” The Prince questioned.
“The Distributor claims we do! Pass what’s left onto the Frenchman.”
“My father is a brilliant man.”
“That’s why you’re The Prince!”
Their camaraderie was interrupted by a rapid knocking.
“Barracuda, The Queer needs you in the kitchen,” The Bouncer relayed.
“You tell The Queer not to get his panties in a bunch,” The Barracuda professed. “I’ll be there when I get there. I’m trying to run a nightclub you know!”
“ASAP ‘Cuda. A-S-A-P, okay?”
“Oh God, oh God, how much of that stuff did you sell this time?” The Queer huffed when The Barracuda finally met him in the very back of The Club, outside the kitchen.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“This is what I’m talking about,” The Queer said as he pushed open the doors.
Guys, girls, teen-aged kids were scattered around the floor, sweating, shaking, and otherwise looking very, very sick.
“My God, these people are disgusting! How could anyone do that to themselves?” The Barracuda laughed.
“Forget that! What are we going to do with them? I can’t…I just can’t keep them back here any longer. What if our friend The Sergeant decides to pay us a visit?”
“Okay, here’s what we do…you tell The Patsy to collect the security staff and we’re going to pick these losers up and drop them off outside the clubs down the street.”
“Jesus Patsy, is this girl even alive?” The Bouncer asked as he bent down to pick-up the final one.
“I don’t know, check her heart or something.”
“Okay, she’s got a pulse, but I don’t think she’s breathing. We should call 911.”
“What! Are you crazy?” The Patsy cried. “The Italian will kill us. No police!”
“Don’t drag her! Put her in a wheel chair and prop her head up so she doesn’t look so dead, and wheel her out the service entrance so nobody sees you leave the building. One block down, in the parking lot, our friend The Ambulance Driver is waiting. Give him this envelope; tell him to drive her around first, to make sure that the odometer adds up. He’ll know the rest.”
The next day The Detective knocked at the door of a college fraternity.
“Rough night last night, I guess,” The Detective presumed to the Chapter’s President.
“Yeah, rough night buying books. At two to three hundred dollars a pop, did you know that I spent over a thousand dollars on stuff that I’m never going to read?”
“I’ve heard about that. But after you bought your books, things got a little out of hand, people drank a little too much, and the guests were a little too much to handle?”
“Look Officer, it’s the first week of classes and I don’t have a lot of time for games. Do you have any identification that proves you are who you say you are? You’re not wearing a uniform, and one can never be too careful these days.”
“Boy you college kids are smart,” The Detective said before flipping his leather wallet open and flashing his gold Captain’s badge.
“Like I said already, it’s the first week of classes. Between school and recruiting new pledges we have too much work to throw parties. So unless you have a warrant, I’ll assume that you’re finished here.”
“I’ll be finished after you tell me about the girl who took too much ecstasy at your party, and who you later dragged unconscious into the alley when the party was over.”
“You’re here to ask me about some alley cat I’ve never met?”
“I’m here to ask you about the girl who died last night of respiratory failure. If you don’t come clean with me know, I’ll have to assume that she died before you dragged her back there.”
“I’m not sure where you got your information, but the ‘party’ was a dinner for Alumni and parents. Come inside, interview our brothers, figure it out for yourself.”
So, The Detective took a ride over to the Private Ambulance Company to find out what The Ambulance Driver knew.
“You’re incident report says that you picked this girl up in the driveway behind The Fraternity. She was unconscious, why did you write that she had been at a party there?”
“The lights were on. People were in the windows drinking. The rest of the neighborhood was asleep. And like the report says, we found her on the edge of their driveway. How is she doing by the way?”
“And yet, you didn’t call the police? She died last night at the hospital.”
“Oh my God, that’s terrible. We did everything we could, but you know what they say: We can’t save them all!”
“Is that what they say?” The Detective remarked. “Have a nice afternoon,” he said and left the private ambulance company building.
When the Detective got home he called his adult daughter.
“Hey daddy, what’s up?”
“When are you going to settle down and get married?” He asked her.
“Not right now, I’m single and loving it! Haven’t you heard, thirty is the new twenty?”
“Yeah,” he laughed, “and black is the new white. You know, I hate to ask this of you…”
“What’s up Dad?”
“A girl died last night after taking too much E Downtown, and something feels fishy about it. I can’t find anyone who she was with. And this Ambulance Driver who dropped her at the hospital is a complete loser. Would you use your female powers of persuasion to find out if this guy is deceiving me?”
“No problem,” she agreed, “just tell me how to find him.”
The next evening The Daughter walked down the street outside the Private Ambulance Company dressed in a sleeveless blouse, short skirt, and high heels. She timed her fall outside the building to coincide their shift-change; she fell right as The Ambulance Driver exited the building.
He came rushing over.
“I’m a paramedic. Are you hurt?”
“My heel got stuck between the bricks, and I think I’ve twisted my ankle,” she pouted.
The Ambulance Driver knelt down and stretched her leg over his knee. “Does this hurt?” He asked while bending her foot up and down.
“Owww,” she cringed.
“Do you think you can walk?”
“No,” she shook her head. “I think it’s broken.”
“It’s not broken! Where were you walking? Maybe I could give you a ride.”
“I would love that,” she replied.
The Ambulance Driver carried her upstairs and set her down on the couch. “You’re so strong, and you have really nice muscles,” she blushed. “Aren’t you going to ask for my number?”
“Yeah, if you’ll give it to me,” he ate from her hand.
“Call me this weekend, I like to party,” she said before he left her apartment.
The Ambulance Driver certainly did call The Detective’s daughter, and he took her to a place where everybody loved to party – Club Roxbury.
They were swept past the line, past the pat-downs, and past cover charge.
“Wow, that was incredible,” she remarked. “I feel like a star, you really are somebody!”
“Let’s just say that my friend, The Patsy, owes me one.”
“Do you think this guy Patsy owes you enough to find me some ecstasy?” She asked and ran her hand over the crotch of his jeans until the bulge felt firm.
“I bet he could.”
The Detective’s daughter never took the ecstasy; instead, she mixed it into The Ambulance Driver’s drink and slipped away without saying goodbye. In the morning, she called home for her father.
“He’s not here darling,” her mother said. “Is it something I can help you with?”
“Tell him I met a guy named Patsy over at Club Roxbury, that’s all,” she said.
“Oh love; you really are your father’s daughter.”
So The Detective used his daughter’s information to set up surveillance and stings, he used that information to take the whole house down. The police put pressure on the State Office of Emergency Management, who put pressure on the Private Ambulance Company, who threatened The Ambulance Driver’s career until he confessed that Patsy from the Roxbury was paying him to sit in the parking lot around the block to circumvent the reporting that would be triggered if 911 was called and City EMS were dispatched. This practice hid a history of ecstasy overdose at The Club, sold at The Club, by The Club.
The Police took their evidence to The Politicians at The City Licensing Board, some of whom had been in the pocket of The Club all along, but who had no choice but to risk their allegiances and revoke The Club’s permits in light of a public scandal.
Down a nightclub, The Italian took his anger out on his son, The Prince, who in turn resolved vengeance on The Rats responsible for this mess.
An obvious name surfaced, The Ambulance Driver.
A frightful man, a man whose hands were soaked with blood, The Prince vowed to take care of the situation in an unusually public fashion so that his message would be clear to all the public servants who ate from his trough of crime. Be happy to lose your job, be ecstatic to be arrested and jailed – those two fates are blessings compared to ratting on The Gang.
With his family’s most prized club shut-down, The Prince had plenty of free time to craft his revenge plan.
He invested in a father who’d adopted The Orphan.
The Orphan wore a porcelain knife around his neck, one that would pass through metal detectors, and one that was flat and fit neatly in the crevice between his muscular breasts. It was difficult to detect with a pat-down.
The City’s Gang had hundreds, if not thousands of eyes on the street every day, and most of those eyes belonged to law abiding citizens. It was easy for them to track The Ambulance Driver’s movements.
First, The Orphan jogged around the block until he became very sweaty. Then a friend of his dialed 911 to report a man lying on the sidewalk, having a seizure.
Just before The Ambulance Driver rounded the block, The Orphan swallowed a chemical to make him vomit and foam at the mouth. He dropped to the ground and shook his body as much as he could.
When The Ambulance Driver and his partner descended upon the man, there were no witnesses in sight.
“It looks like some kind of drug overdose,” the partner remarked.
“Check him for needles and weapons while I grab the stretcher,” The Ambulance Driver called.
“Negative for sharps,” the partner reported. “I’m going to intibate him so he doesn’t aspirate this vomit.”
The team loaded The Orphan into the ambulance and sped toward the hospital. Not soon after, while The Ambulance Driver’s back was turned to reach for equipment, The Orphan opened his eyes. He silently unbuckled the belts securing him to the stretcher. He pulled the blade from around his neck. He lunged forward. He slit The Ambulance Driver’s throat with one clean stroke.
As the Ambulance Driver fell into The Orphan’s arms, air bubbled through the blood spilling from his neck.
The Orphan flipped the Ambulance Driver onto the stretcher, opened the rear door, stepped out onto the wide steel bumper, and leapt from the speeding ambulance.
The partner had heard a noise, but when he looked in the rear-view mirror everything was still.
When the doctors waiting on the emergency apron opened the ambulance, they found The Ambulance Driver on the stretcher with his head severed, hanging by the spinal cord.
It was done. The message was sent.
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