CHURCH, The Television Show
“Supervisor, how do you feel about working for two companies?” Noodle asked his boss as they cleared furniture from the fire escapes back stage.
“What do you mean?” The Supervisor asked.
“I mean, there’s a whole crew that came in under DJ and Manager, like you and I, and then there’s a whole parallel organization of Roxbury people.”
“It’s all one company,” The Supervisor answered shortly.
“Well, it feels like two companies that operate as one mast but in two completely different directions.”
“Noodle, it’s one company. We’re together,” The Supervisor explained.
“Okay,” Noodle sighed in disbelief.
The Supervisor brought The BigMouth to his apartment with The Creep, The SquishHead, and The Meat Packer. The Supervisor also lived with DJ’s Assistant and The Niece. Noodle wasn’t invited.
“Noodle’s cool, I like him,” The SquishHead admitted.
“What are you stupid?” BigMouth cried. “Noodle’s not cool. The only street he knows in Main Street. He’s a Banana Republic wearing, breast feeding, sheltered motherfucker.”
“Oh yeah?” The SquishHead refuted. “I think Noodle’s just quiet about his exploits. He’s been around.”
“Where has he been? MetroNorth? Those aren’t The Streets.”
“You don’t know everything,” The SquishHead cautioned. “I know a story about Southern City East Projects where he scuffled with CareBear and SilverTooth. Trust me, I’m from Southern City East, it doesn’t get any more street than that. There, they’d play your mocha ass for a white boy, BigMouth!”
“Whatever. Noodle’s just pullin’ your chain.”
“Noodle’s not playing me! Ask The Barracuda. He checked it out.”
The BigMouth couldn’t believe it, so when he got home his brother called their cousins in Southern City.
It seemed like everyone was using cousins to collect intelligence. Word spread around.
But talking was not a Gang approved activity. The talking had to stop. So The Italian sent a message.
“BigMouth, The Supervisor wants you upstairs,” The Creep relayed.
“Really?” He questioned. “I work the door; I’ve always worked the door.”
“Fuck The Supervisor!”
“It’s not him. It comes from above. Something you said.”
“What did I say?”
“I don’t know,” The Creep shrugged.
There was a new kid taking tickets in the lobby, The Swami. A customer at the ropes offered him twenty bucks to get in. Noodle watched The Swami accept the money.
But Noodle never told, Noodle never told on anybody.
Minutes later, that same customer came back and said that he was leaving. He wanted the twenty dollar bribe back!
So The Swami reached into his wallet and returned the money. It was all a test.
The BigMouth was upset about being taken off the door, and he took that anger out on his brother.
“Who did you tell about Southern City?”
“Nobody,” his brother lied.
“What the fuck man! They took me off the door because of that and it was the only place where I could earn tips!”
“Fuck them!” His brother threatened. “Bring me in tomorrow, I’ll break their shit!”
The following night everyone was pissed off, everyone except for Noodle. Since he never talked to anybody, he never had anything to be upset about. He just did his job.
“Noodle, I need you to take the tickets tonight,” The Supervisor ordered.
“W-T-F dude! If you can’t find anybody you like working down there, then you should just pay me something that commiserates with the position and I would be happy to do that job for you.”
“It’s not that. It’s just…The Swami got robbed last night. I think he was held up with a knife. I gave him the night off.”
“Jesus! Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’ll be fine…I hope.”
“Okay, I’ll cover for him.”
While Noodle was taking tickets, The Detective came in to berate The Manager.
“You’re fucked! We’re going to shut you down.”
“Why? Nothing’s going on.”
“I told you, nothing happens to Noodle Church.”
“What does he say that we did?”
“He never says anything! But word is that a crew’s coming up from Southern City to kill him!”
“I looked into it. It’s serious.”
“He must have pissed someone off.”
“From what I hear he was a tourist down there and had a run in with The Gang. And now you have him working at Majesty! And I think someone here, higher up, dug deep to sell him out. It’s a paying job for crying out loud!”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to fix it.”
“And how am I going to do that?”
“You tell The Italian I’ll fuck his club so publicly that the media will shut you down if the politic doesn’t get there first. Either way, he loses.”
“That won’t save Noodle. And the politic won’t shut us down. Haven’t you figured out who we are?”
“I know something’s going on out in the Fed’s ballpark. But never forget that this City stood long before their constitution.”
So, The Manager took the issue up with The Underboss.
“Noodle’s got something coming for him from Southern City.”
“Where’d you hear that?”
“Everywhere,” The Manager sighed.
“Does he know?”
“Judging by his enthusiasm to be at work, I’d say not. He has no idea.”
“I’m not getting involved,” The Underboss rejected.
“You should pass it up to The Italian, in case he wants to take care of it.”
Meanwhile, Noodle was down in the lobby, humming along to the fast paced ticketing.
“I can’t let you in without a ticket.”
“But my brother works here!”
“I’ve never seen you before.”
“Man, I’m going to fuck you up!”
“I’m just doing my job – who’s your brother?”
“Come on man, you don’t look anything like him!”
“What are you saying about the way I look?”
“Relax, I’ll call him down. Give me sixty seconds to sort it out before you kill me… Okay?” Noodle lightened.
Later, The Manager came down.
“Noodle. Grab a broom. Go help sweep the butts from the sidewalk. The Italian’s waiting for you outside.”
“Okay,” Noodle jumped. “But why the long face?”
“It’s just…it’s nothing,” The Manager sighed. He inhaled and tried again, “It’s just that politics in This City are…they are,” he tried. “They are…You know what I mean?” He failed.
“No, I don’t know what you mean! I’ll go get that broom,” Noodle said and skipped away.
Noodle dug the bristles of the broom deep into the crevasses between each brick to get every last stogie in his dust pan.
“Faster, sweep faster,” The Italian hurried.
So Noodle swept faster.
“Those people are so loud,” The Italian said about two black folks on their way out of the building. It was commentary on The Gang’s code of silence.
“It’s not like they were shouting or anything,” Noodle replied.
And then a man approached. “Aren’t you The Italian?” He asked.
The Italian stood there, silently, and stared.
“Aren’t you The Italian? I know you.”
Noodle stopped sweeping and stood shoulder to shoulder with The Italian ready to take this guy away.
“They’ve got you sweeping the sidewalk now, huh?” The Creep shot at Noodle.
“Yeah. And they stuck you with a new guy at the door?” Noodle retorted.
“Yeah, they brought The BigMouth inside.”
“I met his brother tonight.”
“Yeah. He’s one hard motherfucker. I thought he was going to kill me.”
“He probably thought you were The Italian.”
“Yeah, I’m The Italian,” Noodle laughed.
“It’s your three piece suit, Noodle. You all look the same to him.”
At the end of the night, The Ballerina ran up to Noodle. She was always full of energy, always full of life. It made Noodle smile.
“Hey Noodle, remember when I told you I moved out of Coastal State’s Club City?”
“Yeah, you moved just down the street from me.”
“Is it really just down the street?”
“Would you want to split a cab ride home?”
“Not even. The Roommate is giving me a ride. You can come with us.”
“Thanks awesome, thank you so much!”
“You don’t have to thank us. Just keep being happy!” Noodle smiled.
On the drive home, Noodle invited The Ballerina to his house.
“Ballerina, I’m a really private person. So if you want to come in I’d ask you to respect my confidentiality and not tell anyone anything about my house.”
His foreword frightened her. “You don’t keep dead bodies in there, do you?” She asked.
“Not at all! It’s nothing sketchy. My home is my sanctuary. I need privacy’s solitude.”
“Okay,” The Ballerina agreed, “but the same goes for me.”
Noodle gave her a tour. Then they sat at his kitchen table talking.
“Are you sure that’s Molly?” She asked about the little bag he was holding.
“No! Tell me what you think.”
“I’ve never seen Molly that looks like that before.”
“I took it off some kid at the door. I was going to throw it away but he came back and acted really proud of what it was.”
Noodle poured the drug out on the table and crushed it finer.
“I didn’t think you were into that,” The Ballerina said.
“I’m not. It causes brain damage, and I want to keep my brain in good order.”
“People at work think you’re no fun!” She smiled.
“I know! It’s because I seek enjoyment paramount to chemical delusions of it.”
“Sometimes I take a little E when I dance, like a half tab.”
“You’ve had a lot of pain in your life, haven’t you?”
“How’d you know?”
“Because you’re good person who hangs out in bad places.”
“My father left my mom just after I was born. I had to support my mother as a girl.”
“It’s nearly impossible to do something when you start with absolutely nothing.”
“And if you are able to make something out of what God gave you, there are always people in front trying to take it away.”
“Ballerina, you’re really smart. Does dancing get you by?”
“Mentally it does! Dancing is a really healthy and natural stress relief. But it doesn’t pay my rent because there aren’t enough hours in it.”
“How do you get by?”
“I fly to Casino Town once a month to pick up a thousand tabs of E.”
“What the fuck! That’s not a good idea.”
“I know. I don’t want to do it…but I can’t turn back now.”
“Be careful Ballerina, you have too big a heart for criminal enterprise.”
“I’m careful, I’m glad we’re in your fortress of confidentiality.”
He never told on her, Noodle never told on anybody.
The Roommate came around the corner with her boyfriend. Noodle placed her rabbit on the counter and cradled it in his hands.
“This is the softest thing I’ve ever felt,” Noodle grinned.
“Noodle’s really high!” The Boyfriend said.
“Yeah, and The Ballerina traffics E,” The Roommate slipped.