CHURCH, The Television Show
Friday, after all the clubs in The City had closed, a fight broke out in the parking garage across the street from Majesty, from Blood Room, from Corsica, across the street from Dungeon. All of these clubs were in the same building; a building which rose high in the sky with rooms for transients. It was a fiefdom. It was an Empire.
The murder victim was purported to have been partying in Dungeon. That brought The Detective around, asking questions.
“I don’t know what this has to do with me,” The Frenchman argued, “We were closed. If something happened in the parking garage across the street, that’s the garage’s problem.”
“If something happened? Someone was murdered!”
“Don’t be so dramatic. Somebody came into my establishment and had a peaceful, fun experience. They got into a fight on someone else’s property. It is what it is.”
“Someone came into your nightclub and never made it home. Someone came in here, sat in the dark, was served alcohol until they lost touch with reality while listening to music about being on top, about demoralizing women, about popping caps, and when they went back out into society and that fantasy played out on The City’s streets.”
“Whoa! You are way out of line coming in here condemning my customers’ entertainment preferences! You should be over at the garage, telling them to pay for more security.”
“Haha,” The Detective laughed right in The Frenchman’s face. “Pay for whose security, your security? I know who you really are.”
“I’m a business man!” The Frenchman countered. “I also know who you are, I know everything about you. So let me give you some advice: Do your job. Go out and catch the shooter. Don’t come back to me unless you have a warrant and your gang behind you. This is America!” The Frenchman fumed.
“What’s wrong with you?” The Barracuda asked The Frenchman. “You look like you’re about to kill someone!” He loved seeing people upset.
“It’s The Detective. He has no right to speak to me like that- putting the whole world’s problems on my shoulders because he doesn’t know how to do his job!”
“I hate cops,” The Barracuda rallied. “Lazy pigs come in here asking US who’s shooting who. All the while they sit in their cars and let the Narcs and Rats they planted everywhere do their job for them!”
“Barracuda, they plant those in here?”
“Of course they do! Why do you think our good friends from Old Town don’t come around anymore? The Hostess is a Narc for City Police, Captain Angry is a Narc for the Army, Ultimate Fighter is a Narc for The State Police, Southie Suits Rats to the Irish, The Supervisor Rats to The Manager, and Noodle came to us from a Rat’s Nest! His father was a Rat, his cousins are Rats, his Aunt and Uncle is Rats!”
“We’ll have to fire them all!” The Frenchman explained.
“No,” The Barracuda responded, “Keep your enemies closest. The Exterminator is taking care of our rodent problem all over The City. He’s taking care of everybody!”
“But how?” The Frenchman asked.
“A gentleman never tells,” The Barracuda smiled.
After The Frenchman left, The Barracuda picked up the phone to call his friends in Southern City.
“I’ve got a Rat for sale. What’s your best offer?” The Barracuda asked.
“That depends, how much business did they cost us?”
“How much did CareBear bring in?”
“Jeez, that was a long time ago! Maybe one or two million a year. She ran the whole East Quarter for US. Why, who do you have?”
“I’m not saying nothin’ till you tell me how much it’s worth to you!”
“On one million? One hundred thousand if it’s solid, if we can get to him easily.”
“We can protect you in The City. It’ll be cake – he works for US and we know his every move!”
“Then why don’t you just take care of him yourself?”
“Now, where would be the profit in that? We’d rather keep him working like a chump for change on the dollar! I’m proud to keep him as a slave; but if he earns more dead than alive… that’s another story.”
“Okay, give me the Information. If it checks out, my guys will pass payment before they take out the garbage. Have you any other business? I’d love to find a way to break even on this deal.”
“Sure. Our X is collecting dust. We have too many eyes on that. Federal eyes, you know what I mean? I could do ten thousand hits for one-hundred K. If you flipped it you’d have your hit money. If you pieced it out you’d have your principle, hit money, and a new car!”
“I don’t know, one-hundred K? That’s serious volume. Is it pick up or delivery?”
“Delivery of course. We have people, young girls on holiday. They don’t even know what they’re carrying!”
“Deal on both fronts! Give me the guy.”
“His name’s Noodle Church. His telephone number is…”
“But that’s a Desert City number! You sure you’re not setting me up? He’s not with The Supremacists, is he?”
“Haha,” The Barracuda laughed. “Trust me, we’ve got Desert City with US. They can’t say no to the traffic we run there. Just make sure your guys check in with me. This is The City! The Irish control The Police and The City snobs don’t like hearing about hits – we have a tiny quota and we have to keep that open for our high-profile shit. It’s gotta look like a mugging or an accident, understand?”
“It’ll be a robbery!”
Elated with how much Noodle was worth, The Barracuda called the head of Gang Intelligence.
“I’m calling on behalf of The Italian,” he announced. “How much to find out who killed The Salesman?”
“I don’t know him.”
“Of course you don’t know him, he was a nobody.”
“Then why would you want to avenge his death?”
“I need to repay a favor – some information that I just made a killing from – and hopefully this will help keep the informant loyal…and silent.”
“Where’s this Salesman from? Age? Proper name? Aliases?”
“Quick estimate: Five thousand dollars. But it’s going to depend on how long the hounds are out sniffing. He’s young, so it should be easy. Kids scare nicely, you know what I mean?”
“Are you kidding me?! I don’t know how you guys do it so cheaply!”
“We own the PeopleWebsite! If you know how to find everybody in the world, finding the people you’re looking for comes easy.”
“Get back to me,” The Barracuda said then hung up the phone.
When Noodle awoke the next morning he heard The Neighbor talking to The Tenant, three stories below his bedroom window.
“So how long have you lived under Noodle?”
“Like a year or longer,” The Tenant answered.
“How much are you paying for rent?”
“Twelve hundred a month.”
“What do you do for work?”
“I’m a bartender.”
“Oh yeah? I know people who own bars. Where do you work?”
“The Steak Market.”
“Cool, I just bought the three-family across the street. You should move in with me and I’ll give you a better deal on rent,” The Neighbor propositioned.
“I don’t think so. Noodle’s cool, and the apartment is modern.”
“Well, think about it,” The Neighbor planted, “I’ll let the offer stand.”
Noodle wiped his eyes. He couldn’t believe his ears. He must have been dreaming – if he weren’t that would be crazy!
When Noodle went downstairs he found The Roommate on her bed, firing off text messages.
“Arhh,” She groaned. “I hate The Manager! He keeps telling me one thing, and then doing another. I like The Barracuda much better.”
“You don’t know The Manager. He’s probably the most balanced guy at Majesty. Don’t speak poorly about him, I know he’ll come through on whatever he says to you. Give him a chance okay?”
“Okay,” she agreed.
Noodle went into the kitchen to cook breakfast. The Roommate walked through wearing nothing but lace panties.
“I think I’m going to like living with you,” Noodle lusted.
“No reason!” He exclaimed in embarrassment. “What did you do before Majesty?”
“I worked at a massage parlor in PeterPan Land. Workers gave hand-jobs, so The Boyfriend told me to quit.”
“That sounds like good advice. But Roommate, there’s nothing wrong with sex, don’t let anybody ever tell you that there is. Have as much sex as your heart desires, as long as you don’t pay, or get paid for it.”
When The Roommate left the kitchen, she left behind her to-do list: ‘Move all my stuff out of parent’s house,’ it said.
“I’m glad you like living here,” Noodle remarked as he passed by her door.
“Thank you so much for letting me move in! I really needed to get away.”
“Why? Was it that bad?”
The Roommate recounted terrible tales of abuse. But Noodle never told, Noodle never told anybody about anything.
“The Manager really likes you,” DJ’s Assistant told Noodle during a concert. “He says you’re doing a great job.”
“Thanks!” Noodle replied.
Mr. Made-in-Taiwan, the guy who had witnessed The Manager murder Pawn, and who subsequently leveraged that information to book an international performance, loved standing next to Noodle.
“I’m like the best disc-jockey in The City, you know.”
“I hadn’t heard that. Why don’t you ever play Majesty?” Noodle questioned.
“The Manager never told me we were coming to Majesty, and I sold my turn-tables right before he opened this club! But I’m like royalty. If I ever moved back to my home country I’d have secret service protection and everything,” Mister Made-in-Taiwan bragged.
“Really?” Noodle marveled. It was crazy to imagine a bus-boy with secret service protection. “You should move back there then!”
When the concert was over an Average Joe approached Noodle and pointed to two men on the dance floor.
“Those two men are terrorists!” He said.
‘You’re crazy!’ Noodle thought while peeking at the two men this guy was pointing to. They were wearing western clothing, and were relatively clean cut, with the exception that one had a large pot belly. That guy was doing the twist.
They didn’t look like they were carrying bombs, or guns, or chemical canisters so Noodle left them alone, and he never thought about terrorists again for a very, very long time.
When the club closed, The Barracuda met with Prince.
“Have you found out why Noodle thinks he’s Spartacus?” The Prince asked.
“Nope. It doesn’t matter.”
“Sure it matters. Word on the street is that his Aunt’s maiden name is Michelson, and that there was someone in the family who had gambling debts thirty years ago, so our friends robbed their house. She called the cops, and made it sound like things were connected.”
“I told you, it doesn’t matter!”
“‘Cuda, you’re going soft on me. Get this…it turns out Noodle’s father was a Marine and he died after one of OUR friends sold him bad drugs to get rid of a problem, you know what I mean? Maybe that’s why he thinks he’s Spartacus.”
“Oh shit! I’m shaking,” The Barracuda smiled. He relished the upper hand. “I t-o-l-d you, it doesn’t matter. Don’t you trust me?”
“I think he may want to kill US!”
“It doesn’t matter! I found someone who wants to kill Noodle!” The Barracuda grinned so wide that his white, razor sharp teeth showed through his gums.
“Are you sure? It’ll happen? Some street thing or what?”
“Oh, it’ll happen, and it’ll be clean. They’re sending professionals!”
“What is he? A Narc? State Police?”
“Ten thousand dollars?”
“Haha, times ten!” The Barracuda bragged.
“Holy shit! I want a piece of that.”
“Get the fuck out of here!”
“I’ll tell The Italian,” The Prince threatened.
“Prince, you won’t tell, I have so much trash on you that your father doesn’t know about. Plus, he won’t respect you snitching unless he asks. After a decade, I’m finally making some money! Kudos to The Manager for filling Majesty with Rats!”
“If Noodle’s going to get taken out, I guess we can start fucking with him,” The Prince reasoned.
“What do you have in mind?” The Barracuda asked and they sat around dreaming up plots to destroy Noodle’s happiness.
The following night, The Club hosted a MacDougal’s scotch tasting. Noodle loved scotch, and this stuff went for upwards of five-hundred dollars a bottle. At the end of the night, Noodle was curious what five-hundred dollar scotch tasted like.
“Hey Manager,” he asked. “Is it okay if I try one of these left over samples?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
Noodle tried two shots of the scotch and then went downstairs to check out the music thumping through the walls of Club Dungeon. There, he ran into the guys from Two Brothers Promotions. They were classy, Noodle liked them.
“Noodle, you’re here to party!” Baby Face exclaimed. “I thought this day would never come.”
“We had a scotch tasting upstairs and it made me thirsty. I’ll hang out for a little while.”
“You’re with us tonight,” Big Mac proclaimed. “We’re going to show you a great time!”
The Brothers bought Noodle drinks, and let him sit in VIP. But Noodle took it slow, he didn’t get drunk, he planned to ride his bike home.
“Noodle, let’s get you another drink. What do you want?”
“That’s the last one. Make it a gin and tonic.”
Big Mac and Baby Face went to the bar for another round.
“Remember The Prince pledging one-hundred bucks for anybody who fucks with Noodle?” Baby Face asked Big Mac.
“Yeah, but Noodle’s cool. I mean come on, I won’t take one-hundred dollars to fuck the kid up,” Big Mac responded.
“We don’t have to hurt him. We just have to mess with him a little. Let’s slip Noodle a Mickey!”
“Do you have one with you?”
“Go talk to The Sandman.”
So Big Mac went around looking for Sandman. When he returned with the Roofie, Baby Face stirred it into Noodle’s drink.
“That took a while,” Noodle sighed. “I thought you guys might have left.”
“Nah,” Baby Face dismissed, “Just got talking to someone, you know what I mean?”
Noodle sipped the drink doped with Rohypnol, and slipped away.
“What can we get him to do?”
“Let’s wait until he passes out and then we can hide him somewhere. He’ll wake up, have no idea where he is, and freak out. Or we can take pictures of him. That will be funny!”
But Noodle didn’t pass out. The lights came on, the club was closing.
“Alright guys, I’m going to ride home,” Noodle announced.
“You’re going to ride home on your motorcycle?” Big Mac asked. “Leave it here; we’ll give you a ride. Where do you live?”
“I don’t want to leave my bike here, someone might fuck with it,” Noodle said and went outside. He zipped his flight suit and donned his helmet.
“Think I’m okay to ride?” He asked smiling wide.
“Noodle, let us follow you home so we know you got there okay.”
The Two Brothers had hearts; they didn’t want to see Noodle get hurt or killed. But they couldn’t tell him what they had done.
“Please don’t follow me,” Noodle pleaded. “I really don’t want anyone to know where I live!”
Noodle started his bike and took off. He roared past The Park. But when he stopped at a red light, The Brothers caught up.
“We’re right behind you Noodle. We won’t let you fall!”
“I told you, I don’t want you following me! I don’t like being followed,” Noodle cried and cranked his throttle all the way open.
He steered around several corners, and sped up the onramp of The Driveway.
He rode fast into the corner and his motorcycle drifted outward, all the way to the edge of the curb, before his bike popped up and over the granite embankment. He was suddenly riding through the grass, trying to stabilize the motorcycle as it flew over bushes and shrubs. The bike swayed to the left, to the right…ready to dump on its side.
When Noodle landed the motorcycle back on the pavement he was headed right for a parked car! He swerved to avoid it and, at last, the bike crashed to the ground.
A car stopped to help. But The Brothers were one car behind that, and they ran over to care for Noodle. Big Mac picked the bike off the ground and leveled it.
“Noodle, you cannot ride. Where do you live? I’ll drive your motorcycle and Baby Face will take you home.”
“I don’t want you to know where I live! I don’t want sketchy people coming to my house to do bad stuff. Let’s just leave the bike at my barber’s house; she lives right around the corner.”
Noodle walked four miles home, flight suit, helmet and all. To the passing cars, he must have looked like a stranded spaceman.
The next morning Noodle didn’t remember a thing. But when he went outside he realized that he didn’t have his motorcycle. So Noodle called The Judge for help.
“Dude, where’s my car!” He joked. “I don’t remember leaving The Dungeon…or getting onto my bike…I don’t remember anything. I don’t know if I crashed it, but I remember walking home. Will you help me find my bike?”
“Sure, I can do that.”
When they got to The Driveway, Noodle found the bracken bush he’d rode through and pieces of his busted taillight on the street. They walked the surrounding blocks but he couldn’t find his motorcycle.
“I found a message in my sent box that I must have texted to my barber,” Noodle said to The Judge. “I texted that I parked behind her house.”
“Do you want to check there?”
“I don’t know where she lives!”
Noodle called the towing companies, but none of them had towed it.
Noodle called The City Police, but they hadn’t ticketed it.
Then Noodle realized, he’d lost his motorbike!