CHURCH, The Television Show
Noodle needed A Barber; his hair was long past presentable length. He sought the finest wet razor cut in The City, so he visited The Stylist.
“Noodle!” The Stylist smiled. “How are you?”
“How? Like by what method?” Noodle asked as he tipped his head back into the sink. “Poor!” He smiled while The Stylist used the soft pads of her fingers to massage the soap’s lather deep into his scalp.
“But I think most people would say that they are good. I want to be normal; I want to be like all the other people, so I’ll answer that I’m great!”
The Stylist rinsed the soap, and then worked a conditioner through his hair. “Noodle, you’re a freak,” she marveled. “Never forget that most people are not as smart as you. Sit in my chair while I get you a robe.”
“Please don’t make me wear a robe!”
“Noodle, you have to, or else you’ll be covered with hair!”
“It’s only hair. The robe restrains my arms!”
“Noodle, why can’t you just be like everyone else?”
“Because they destroyed my mold! Stylist, I saw you at Majesty last weekend and you didn’t even say hello.”
“Well, I was with The Tuba. She does all The Club’s PR. I don’t need you anymore,” The Stylist jabbed. “How’s work over there?”
“It was great when we first opened. Everyone was positively happy. Now it feels sketchy, like nobody even tries to do the right thing.”
“Noodle, that’s how this city works. It’s all cronyism and kickbacks. That’s how it’s always worked.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well they take care of The Tuba every time we go, and I’m sure she takes care of them when it comes to advertising space. This place is all about who you know.”
“Well, the world needs to keep moving toward what you know. Brilliance is being squashed and squandered by the politic of man!”
“Noodle Church: Fight the power!”
He smiles. “That’s me.”
“What about The Army?”
“I love The Army. Bullets are shitty, but at least they’re being fired by people of great integrity with the courage to restrain. A soldier who truly lives by the Army code is divine. The soldiers I’ve met are better than The Others.”
“Noodle, you should join the Navy. I like them.”
“But I’m Army!” Noodle cried. “I’m loyal to that.”
After the haircut, Noodle went straight to work.
“Hey Noodle,” The Supervisor called. “Brian’s going to start working the door again so you can roam the club looking for trouble with the rest of the guys. But tonight, I need you to search people.”
Noodle positioned himself and waited for the doors to open.
“You know what you’re doing down here?” The Meat Packer asked.
“I have a pretty good idea.”
“The Supervisor doesn’t care about drugs, but make sure you take any liquor coming in…And weapons; a lot of people have pen knives on their key chains and they don’t even realize it. I don’t want to get stabbed tonight!”
“Got it. Thanks!”
“Hey, you want to see something?”
“Give me your phone number and I’ll text you a picture.”
The Meat Packer sent a picture-message of a girl posing naked in the mirror. She was a bartender at The Club.
“I know you won’t tell anybody,” The Meat Packer winked.
Noodle didn’t show anybody, but he wondered why The Meat Packer had; it was a curious thing to pass around nude photos of your own girlfriend!
Smugglers and carriers of contraband feared Noodle Church. He checked behind customers’ collars, down their spine, and around the waistband of their belts. He wasn’t afraid to press against pockets or grip the customers’ legs while he ran his hands all the way down to their ankles.
“I feel like I’m at the airport!” One man exclaimed. “Do you work for The Government or something?”
Noodle tried to keep them feeling comfortable, Noodle tried to move fast. Before the line was even halfway through, he’d completed four hundred squats.
He checked inside cigarette packs, candy packs, and medicine bottles. He checked to make sure that there were no weapons on peoples’ key chains.
He even popped open Chap Sticks to make sure tubes hadn’t been hollowed out and refilled with cocaine.
“What’s this?” Noodle asked as he squeezed the pant leg of a man who hadn’t emptied everything from his pocket.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I have in there!”
“Come on dude, you have to empty everything out of your pockets!”
“No liquids sir. You’re going to have to throw that in the trash.”
When Noodle opened up a European kid’s mint tin, he found clear capsules filled with a dark brown substance that looked similar to raw sugar. Noodle confiscated it, and was about to throw it in the trash when the kid ran back downstairs.
“Just to let you know what you’re getting, there are four one-gram capsules of Molly inside. And here,” he reached out to open the tin and lifted the paper from under the mints to reveal a tiny bag full of a more rocky, white and brown crystalline substance. “That’s for grams of X,” he smiled excitedly.
“I’m pretty sure that causes brain damage!”
“Noodle,” The Supervisor shouted down the stairs, “Come up and keep look-out after everyone’s been let in. You can come upstairs as early as 12:20.”
Inside, twelve hundred people were packed together in virtual darkness.
Bright, neon green hoops spun around the waists of go-go dancers dancing on cylindrical platforms high above the floor.
And bright white strobes flashed so actively that people looked like they were moving without motion.
Hundred’s of people crowded around The Club’s six bars with outstretched arms and legs, nearly climbing up one another’s back as they clamored for the bartenders’ attention to get one more shot of alcohol.
Tip buckets overflowed.
“Any trouble?” The Meat Packer asked.
“I got these capsules at the door. The kid says it’s Molly, what do you think?” Noodle asked while holding out his hand.
“It could be. I’ve never seen brown Molly though. You should sell it and charge like fifty dollars a pill.”
“I’m not going to do that,” Noodle said and walked away.
Later, when he saw The Meat Packer again, he asked, “Do you think you’re supposed to swallow these pills?”
“Maybe you’re supposed to open them up and snort it. Why? Did you swallow one?”
“No,” Noodle smiled. “But I think you might be right.”
“You took some, didn’t you? You’re not rolling?”
“I don’t think so. I feel fine.”
“You should snort it next time.”
“How was your night?” The Roommate asked while driving Noodle home.
“It was good. My legs hurt from doing eight hundred squats but The Supervisor let me upstairs just after midnight.”
“Was searching people better than making them pay cover?”
“It was like one hundred times easier! But there’s a lot of temptation working pat-downs. Perfectly good drugs come in and I have to throw them in the trash. I’m lucky that I’m old and chasing after the Army because it keeps me sober. I hope they don’t put me down there every night, I’ll crack!”
On Saturday night The Club hosted The City’s hottest disc-jockey: DJ FirstLady. Noodle was stuck in the lobby again – he was there to keep the crowds moving smoothly.
“What’s with that kid you have working in the lobby?” She asked The Manager. “He looks so innocent, and he’s way too polite. How on earth did you find him?”
“That’s Noodle. He’s our helicopter pilot.”
“What do you mean?”
“Noodle’s a pilot.”
“Why’s he working here?”
“Terrorism,” The Manager mumbled. “That Ninja’s our Assassin. Check him out; you can’t knock him off balance!”
DJ FirstLady took a break from spinning and went to the lobby with a girlfriend to take pictures under the marquee.
Noodle saw her very clearly in his mind’s eye but he never looked in her direction; the camera flash flickered off her perfect body.
But Noodle wasn’t unbreakable. He didn’t look because beautiful girls were his weakness; they were his kryptonite. Even as he was careful to not take her in, from the periphery, DJ FirstLady’s image centered in his mind.
“You were right!” She said to The Manager.
“What’d you try?”
“We took pictures in front of him. He didn’t leave his post or offer to hold the camera for us. He didn’t even check us out!”
“He’s in another world. But he saw you. Believe me, he saw you. That kid sees everything. You should’ve tried harder. She what happens if you attempt to touch him!”
“What happens if you touch him?”
“See for yourself.”
“Are you sure he’s not just…,” FirstLady stopped to choose her words carefully, “a little bit slow?”
“He’s not slow; you should have seen his psych profile!”
“You’re putting me on. He’s gay, isn’t he?”
“He’s not gay. The Army tested that too. But he’s…well…I don’t know what you’d call it.”
“What are you saying, that they tested him for being gay? That’s impossible!”
“That’s classified,” The Manager smiled.
“Come on Manager, tell me!”
“Try harder. I’ll send him down to the door after we close. Stand right in front of him and talk about being really promiscuous so that he can overhear. See if he bites.”
Noodle was standing just inside the door when DJ FirstLady came downstairs with StingRay from Other Guys promotions. They lingered.
“What do you think of those industry sex parties?” StingRay asked her.
She smiled. “I don’t know about them.”
“Yeah you do. You’ve heard about the masks, the costumes. I know you’ve attended.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Noodle never flinched. Noodle knew love as a heroin compared to sex’s aspirin. He wouldn’t step-out just to chase an over-the-counter drug.
StingRay stood in front of the door. DJ FirstLady tried to step around him, but she was too polite to push her way through.
After she escaped, StingRay followed DJ FirstLady down the sidewalk. He grabbed her arm. He kept pushing the sex parties, she kept saying no.
Noodle bit on the harassment. He wouldn’t tolerate it.
“Leave her alone!” He shouted out the door.
“It’s okay, we know each other,” StingRay dismissed. “We’re just playing.”
“It’s late,” Noodle retold, “And I said to let her go!”
“It’s fine, it’s really fine,” StingRay pleaded.
“Let. Her Go!” Noodle yelled with wide pupils and throbbing eyes.
StingRay released her wrist, and DJ FirstLady escaped into the darkness of night.