CHURCH, The Television Show
The spook called The Manager. This time, he called The Manager’s personal phone.
“You shouldn’t be calling this number. It’s not safe.”
“I decide what’s safe.”
“The Italian could find out.”
“Do you really think The Gang would be able to get away with what it does if The Italian weren’t with us?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know anything.”
“The hit’s on. Southern City’s coming up for Noodle Church.”
“We don’t know.”
“What do they wear?”
“What are we going to do?”
“We have people in place, ready for this sort of thing.”
“I thought you said Big Brother doesn’t hit people anymore.”
“We don’t. I’m helping you out of the goodness of my heart.”
“How do I contact them?”
“You won’t. Seamus McCafferty is sending his crew to inspect Noodle because he’s a little apprehensive about saving a rat. Noodle’s life is in The Irishman’s hands now,” The Spook said and disconnected the phone before the Manager had a chance to copy.
“I blame this on you,” The Italian said to The Barracuda.
“Don’t blame me! I’ve been here fourteen years busting my ass; and I finally found a great opportunity for a payday. Blame Noodle. He’s the one who was planted by The Feds to spy on US.”
“Is that what you think he’s doing here?” The Italian held back.
“Prince, back me up; you know Noodle’s background. He’s a fucking Narc. He deserves a rat’s death!”
The Prince shrugged.
“You didn’t pass this up and now you’re going to have to pay,” The Italian instructed.
“Seriously? I didn’t even get paid! Let those guys come up and take their shot. People have survived gunshots before. Hell, Marcus got shot twice!”
“You owe me ten grand.”
“Prince. Come on Prince. There’s a solution to this. I can’t cough up that much dough. For Noodle? What has he done for US?”
“You’re a made guy now. There are rules.”
“I’ve been made for a whole day! And what a day it’s been- at first I thought you were going to kill me and now you’re taxing me! I wouldn’t have accepted if I knew it was only going to cost me money.”
“You didn’t have a choice,” The Prince warned.
“You have thirty days to come up with the cash,” The Italian said and pushed the Barracuda out.
“How much is this going to cost?” The Prince asked his father.
“That depends on how far it goes. Hopefully we can scare them away.”
“And if not?”
“We’ll need a war chest ready.”
“We could look the other way, we could let this happen.”
“It sends a bad message. We’ll appear weak to our neighbors and look vulnerable.”
“Where else can we collect?”
“Tell The Manager and DJ to get creative. From what I hear, Noodle’s a good worker; I’ll kick in 5k.”
“We’ll need fifty.”
While security stood around trying to kill an hour before The Club opened, Noodle caught a burst of energy and charged at Black Hercules.
He pushed The Black Hercules back, catching him off balance. But as soon as Noodle gained the upper hand, he released his grip from Hercules’s collar.
“Damn son, you’re Army fit!” Black Hercules said as Noodle let go. And then he took to the offensive.
Black Hercules wrapped his body, with arms that carried biceps the size of Noodle’s head, into a knot so that he couldn’t move; then flung Noodle onto a couch. Even as Noodle resisted, Black Hercules clutch both wrists firmly within one hand.
“Hercules it’s over, I’m tapping out!” Noodle cried for mercy. He tried to squirm free, but it was as if his wrists were frozen inside a concrete wall.
Black Hercules pushed the palm of his free hand under Noodle’s chin.
“Come on Hercules, I’m tapping out. You win!” Noodle cried.
“Noodle Church thinks he can run at me!”
Noodle smiled, “I was just playin’ man; you know I was just playin’. I didn’t mean to scare you!”
Black Hercules forced Noodle’s chin up and fully extended his neck until his head was bent over the back of the couch. Like a fish hanging from the gills, Noodle was paralyzed.
“Noodle!” Black Hercules laughed, “Fragile bodied baby,” he said before letting go.
Noodle sat up and gasped for breath. “Hercules, you gotta respect the tap out!”
“Where the fuck’s Larry?” The Supervisor shouted while swatting cups stacked across a cocktail table. “We open in an hour and not one of the bars is set up! He’s the only bar-back staffing tonight!”
“Larry’s upstairs doing The Hotel’s accounting,” The Doughboy said.
“How’d he get a job doing that?” Noodle asked.
“Maybe you can have his job; I heard The Gang doesn’t like him up there because he has too much integrity,” someone else answered.
“I heard that he sells marijuana out of his John Adams apartment,” The Meat Packer told.
“What! I thought Captain Angry lived at that apartment while he was applying to OCS,” Noodle exclaimed.
“Nah. He just slept on the couch. But don’t tell anyone Larry sells pot. He doesn’t want his girlfriend to find out because her father is a firefighter.”
“Hey Roommate, how’s Noodle holding up?” The Manager asked on his way by coat check.
“How do you know?”
“Because he’s happy! DJ’s waiting for you inside his office.”
“We need to raise money,” DJ said when The Manager entered.
“Tell your staff that they’re going to contribute tonight’s tips to the fund.”
“That’s only five thousand dollars.”
“That makes twenty,” DJ shrugged.
“How are we going to come up with another thirty?”
“Watch this,” DJ said and picked up the phone.
“What’s up Writer, it’s The DJ!”
“Nope, The City is fucking crazy right now. It’s the apocalypse out there. How much is a movie script going for these days?”
“A million bucks – but that’s only if it gets made – and the shot of that happening is about one in a million.”
“What about just to sell it?”
“One hundred thousand.”
“I’ll sell you a plot for thirty thousand.”
“It’s got to be good.”
“It’s current, and it’s fresh.”
“I’ll give you five thousand if I like your idea. Another twenty five thousand if it sells.”
“How long will it take to write?”
“A few weeks, as long as there aren’t a lot of scene changes.”
“It’s got to be cash.”
“That’s easy, this is Mollyhood!”
“Okay, here it is: The NSA has uncovered a terrorist plot to put explosives on passenger trains on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. So the U.S. Military has developed a secret program to thwart the attacks using helicopter pilots. But the pilots aren’t flying aircraft; they’re in a simulator piloting other people’s bodies. The military can see everything going on around their avatar. It’s almost as if they can remotely control these people…it’s as if they can see right through the avatars’ eyes!”
The Manager cut his hand across his neck. “That’s classified,” he whispered.
DJ threw his palms to the air.
“Add in time travel,” The Manager recommended. “It’s got to look imaginative or else they’ll make us go insane!”
“Okay writer. And the military can go back in time. They keep going back to the train until they find the bomb,” DJ said and hung up the phone.
“What if that doesn’t work?” The Manager asked.
“Didn’t Noodle write a book? Maybe we can sell that.”
“The Gang scoured his apartment. He either hides everything or locks it up. They didn’t even find his computer.”
“Have someone to steal his keys.”
“I’m not going to do that.”
“Plant the seed, someone will do it. You know, if we save Noodle’s life we’re going to push him all the way.”
“I know,” The Manager said and left the room. Then he met up with The Barracuda.
“What do you think of Noodle Church?”
“You’re kidding me, right? That little shit just cost me a lot of money!”
“Oh, I’ll get my revenge,” The Barracuda plotted.
“You should take his keys.”
“What am I going to do with those?”
“See what he keeps locked away in his file cabinets.”
“I bet it’s nothing.”
“He’s a writer. I bet he’s writing about you, Barracuda.”
“Noodle Church is worse than any Rat I’ve ever known.”
Then The Manager went downstairs to Dungeon to find The Frenchman.
“Got anything to contribute to the Noodle Church Fund?”
“I’ll give you a hundred bucks just because he has a pretty face.”
“Come on, you could afford a hundred times that.”
“He works upstairs. What’s he done for me?”
“He’s a pilot. You could fix him up with The Traveler and get some modern day George Jung shit going.”
“From ‘Blow’, with Jonnie Depp.”
“Ah yes, I know Jonnie. But Manager, now you are being too funny; of course I’m not with those people who come in here.”
“What about this: I got a guy running three to one odds in favor of Noodle’s death.”
“I have intuition that Noodle’s going to live,” The Frenchman smiled and handed The Manager five hundred dollars.
The Manager locked the money he’d collected so far in his drawer and called The Spook.
“How’s he doing?”
“He’s good…great in fact; The Roommate says he’s happy as clover. DJ wants to push him all the way.”
“We’ll see. We’ve started to ramp up. We’ll have guys on every car of every train, on every corner that he passes, in every place ahead of his arrival to keep an eye on Noodle Church.”
“It’ll be very quiet. Everyone thinks they’re working for The Gang.”
“Great…” The Manager said sarcastically and hung up the phone.
The Dancer Pimp came on stage with The Choreographer and stopped next to Noodle.
“Are you really a pilot?” The Dancer Pimp asked.
“Yeah, I’m a private pilot, single engine land rating.”
“So you can fly?”
“Yup. I can do that.”
“I came back from Miami after taking a trip with some friends. If we went back, would you be able to fly us? That would be so cool.”
“I could, but it’s really expensive.”
“What do you mean? We’d take care of you while we’re down there.”
“I’m talking about fuel burn per mile, maintenance reserves, and insurance. It’s cheaper, and faster, to fly commercial.”
The Supervisor walked up to Noodle leading a crew guys. The largest one’s body was covered in black tattoos all the way up his neck. He was a dark angel.
“These guys are cool,” The Supervisor announced. “They’re with the boss. They are always welcome on the stage. Got it?”
“Got it,” Noodle answered as The Dark Angel shook his hand.
He stood at the front of the stage, watching everything. And he never took a sip of alcohol.
Hayden, a massive person, was small compared to The Dark Angel. He came up to the stage with his crew of two and reached his arms around Noodle Church like he was giving him a hug, but then clasped his hands around Noodle’s back until he couldn’t breathe. When he let go Noodle wheezed to catch his breath, then Hayden slapped him on the shoulder hard enough to knocked him over.
“Who are those guys?” Hayden asked The Supervisor. “And what are they doing on the stage?”
“Hayden, do not fuck with those guys. They’re with The Irishman.”
“What are they doing here? They’re not even drinking.”
“There here for Noodle.”
“Fuck them. This is OUR club.”
“Hayden, listen to me, those guys will kill you.”
Hayden stared at The Dark Angel’s back with murderous eyes. He had an inferiority complex. It made the rage boil up inside his body, so he left the stage.
“Be safe out there tonight,” he said on his way off and again slapped Noodle’s shoulder.
“Just looking out,” Hayden sneered.
“Manager!” Noodle ran up with a big smile after the night was over. “I don’t have any transportation since my motorcycle crash, and the ATM down the street closed at midnight. Can I borrow ten bucks for a cab ride home?”
The Manger reached into his front pocket to pull out a twenty dollar bill.
“Thanks buddy! I’ll repay you tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to do that – some idiot handed it to me at the door.”
“I’ll pay you back anyway.”
“Noodle,” Music Boy called as Noodle was leaving The Club. “We’re going to smoke a joint around back if you want to come.”
“I was about to catch a cab.”
“I’ll give you a ride.”
Music Boy was the only person Noodle trusted enough to let him off in front of his house.
“Noodle, there’s a rumor circulating at The Club that you live in a cardboard box.”
“That’s funny! I wish I could get out of that place.”
“Something just doesn’t feel right.”
“I think it’s bad management,” The Music Boy surmised.
“I think it’s something else.”
“I’m not going to say what I think it is. I’m not sayin’ nothin’!” Noodle shouted. “So, how do I get out?”
“Noodle, you’re going to have to win the lottery!”