CHURCH, The Television Show
Episode Six Part One
The Spook called The Manager for a meeting. It was rare to meet with a confidential informant in person. It risked the operation. It risked informants’ lives.
But it was the only way to pass personally identifiable information, since all kinds of intelligence groups – corporate, government, military, and criminal networks – were hacking and tracking electronic communications. You were safe from being stalked, so long as nobody thought you were a person of any interest.
The Spook sat behind The Manager on an otherwise empty commuter rail line. “We’ve placed civilian spotters on your asset. For now, we’re using the Coalition of Old People. The motorcycle crash your friends caused was dangerous. I wish he’d stop riding that thing.”
“He doesn’t know it was them. He doesn’t remember. The kid’s a Ninja, he got up and kept on moving. Noodle’s our ticket.”
“Our spotters on the street have limitations. If we’re going to track him effectively, I’ll need the model number of his cell phone.”
The Manager scribbled on a piece of paper. “Here’s his phone number. I’ll get the model and send you a message.”
After a brief silence The Manager made sure no one else was on the train, and then turned around. But the Spook was gone. He’d never seen his face.
When Noodle got to work he was intercepted by The Creep.
“Hey Noodle, what do you think of The Roommate?” He pried. “Do you like living with her?”
“She’s cool,” Noodle answered. “She works really hard so I don’t see her a lot. She’s in school and she has three jobs. Outside here she tutors high school kids at the State College.”
“Oh yeah? I heard that she’s going to become a stripper; that she likes to take her clothes off…” The Creep stopped to catch the saliva that spilt from his mouth.
“Don’t be a pervert. I think you’re confused because she’s taking pole dancing classes. A lot of girls do that for exercise.”
“Is that what it is? Noodle,” The Creep continued to snoop, “What kind of cell phone do you have?”
“I don’t know, a SandSong I think – it’s a slider.”
“Can I take a look?” The Creep snaked.
“Sure,” Noodle said and took the phone from his pocket.
The Creep held it for a second, stared at it, then handed it back.
“Cool,” he patronizingly replied.
All the while, The Barracuda was up in the office talking to The Prince.
“Have you found out if Noodle’s in The Army?” The Prince asked.
“I’m working on it. He must have some kind of vendetta. What pissed Spartacus off, anyway?”
“The Romans stole his wife and enslaved him.”
“Haha,” The Barracuda laughed, “Kind of like we did to The Manager. Didn’t his girlfriend have to move to China after he started working here?”
“And then the Romans murdered her.”
“That is fucking awesome!” The Barracuda screamed. “Does Noodle have a girlfriend?”
“How should I know?”
“I’m gonna find out who she is. Let’s take everything Noodle loves!”
They walked down to The Prince’s club, Blood Room. On their way past Noodle, The Barracuda turned to the Prince and said, “Tell me again how you got The Manager to work here? He’s awesome!” The Barracuda feigned while grinning widely at Noodle.
Downstairs, they ran into The Niece. “Niece, go upstairs and ask to borrow Noodle’s phone. Bring it back down here.”
“Okay,” she agreed without question.
“Noodle,” she greeted. “My phone’s out of batteries, can I borrow yours?”
“Yeah sure, I trust you,” Noodle said and handed it over.
She brought the phone downstairs and handed it over to The Barracuda, who scrolled through all of Noodle’s text messages.
“There are a ton of texts to a girl named Angelina in Desert City. Noodle has a Desert City number…maybe this is his girlfriend,” The Barracuda reasoned.
“Desert City? He’s totally a Fed – this whole Army thing is just cover. What’s that girl’s number? We have cousins out West moving a ton of product.”
“Niece, bring this phone back to Noodle. Take a bottle of Stoli Raz on your way out and have some fun tonight,” The Barracuda rewarded.
The Spook called the office from his concrete room beneath his basement. He had access to intelligence that even The President couldn’t touch. Few records were kept. And if anything had to be written down it was highly coded. Not even superiors at NSA knew exactly how he operated; they were aware only that he was one of their counter-terrorism agents – that he was a zombie hunter.
“I need a National Security tap on the following cell phone, model number T586, text, voice, live mic, and GPS tracking.”
“Copy sir, but negative on the mic. The receiver on a slider is cut off from the power circuit when that phone’s closed.”
“It’s for an asset under blind cover. I can’t issue him a phone, he’s a Tourist.”
“Sir, we can cause a malfunction, and hope he buys a more popular model.”
At The Club, The Barracuda was still scheming to ruin Noodle’s life. So he asked everyone to find out where Noodle ate.
The Gang was heavily invested in the food service industry. They had the people, distributorships, and connections to make things happen at restaurants. Just like The Army had done when they sent The Perfect Girl to test Noodle at Southern Kitchen, it was easy for the gang to get people talking off their bar stool.
“Noodle,” a customer greeted at the entrance. He owned a restaurant in Factory Town that received Gang protection in exchange for accommodations. “You’re a great guy and you’re really helpful. Where do you eat? I’d like to buy you a gift certificate!”
“You don’t have to do that,” Noodle replied. “I’m just doing my job.”
“No. I want to. You take care of me.”
“Well, I eat at Southern Kitchen and Tokyo Lobby.”
“Where else do you eat in The Metropolis, just in case I can’t get a gift certificate at one of those places?”
“Sometimes I eat at The Sandwich Shop.”
The customer wasn’t the only person who got Noodle to reveal where he ate. Some said they were foodies, others were flirtatious girls; but no one actually gave Noodle any gift certificates. Most were mining intelligence for The Barracuda or his equivalent.
Noodle’s friend BeFly called to hang out.
“I’d love to, but I have to work today.”
“That’s okay,” she said.
“It’s just a political rally: Elephant Marley Shaker for Governor. Hopefully we can show up and they’ll cut me loose after we open.”
Noodle brought her to The Club, and he introduced her to The Manager. “This is my friend,” he said, “she’s the stuff the earth is made of!”
But The Manager ignored them and kept walking.
“BeFly, I have to set up,” Noodle said, “And then we can hide-out somewhere. Wanna pass out these flyers for the next concert we’re having?”
Meanwhile, the Barracuda met with The Creep.
“Who’s that girl Noodle brought to The Club?”
“I don’t know her,” The Creep answered, “But she’s handing out flyers in The Park.”
The Barracuda got on his cell phone and texted an associate, who sent a group of Foreign Boys to find her. They took her for a cup of coffee and got her phone number.
When Noodle was done setting up he caught The Manager. “The place is ready to open. Can you cut me loose? I don’t get to see my friend BeFly very often.”
“Noodle, you shouldn’t have brought her here,” The Manager warned.
“What do you mean? There’s going to be nothing to do today and I figured it was a better alternative than calling out sick.”
“It’s not that,” The Manager worried.
“What is it then?”
The Manager never spoke about The Gang. Not even to protect his asset.
“It’s just that,” he sighed. “With all the pretty girls here, she’s going to get jealous…you know what I mean?”
“No she won’t. She’s not the jealous type. She’s cooler than all these girls anyway.”
The Supervisor came over with Captain Angry, another future soldier and another of The NSA’s unwitting pawns.
“I heard that you brought your girlfriend to work,” The Supervisor quipped.
“She’s not my girlfriend, she’s just a friend. You’re overstaffed for this event– could you could cut me loose so we can hang out? We don’t get to see each other much.”
“No. I need you here,” The Supervisor tormented.
“I realize this is my job, but you don’t understand! I’d quit in a heartbeat to be with her,” Noodle said and lifted his radio, “You know how this radio feels solid? It’s really just a ton of protons with electrons spinning around them like planets. Billions of them are bound so tightly together that this thing feels quite heavy.”
The Supervisor stared.
“Supervisor, some energy is holding those billions of particles together so this radio doesn’t just de-materialize. Well, she is that energy– she is the energy that holds everything else together, so the world doesn’t just fly apart!”
Captain Angry though that was a wild explanation, “Noodle, you’re crazy!” He said.
When BeFly returned, Noodle explained the situation. “I’m willing to just walk out, to quit, if this is terribly boring for you.”
“Noodle, it’s fine. Don’t quit your job. Let’s go outside and smoke some pot then listen to what this guy Marley Shaker has to say.”
The City Gang was well connected to the political arena, and Marley Shaker wasn’t the only political candidate who came to The Club. They hosted the sitting State Governor, and even a senior U.S. Senator.
The Gang’s reign had spanned for over forty years in The City and in the last decade they’d grown to control more than three states. They organized all the other criminals in The City, and had ties to other Gangs in the country to form The National Gang. In fact, the government was so busy fighting terrorists, that The Gang had gone global. They had ties to every criminal enterprise known to man. They loved holding legitimate companies and they loved doing the other thing on the side; gambling, loan sharking, drug trafficking, human smuggling, and prostitution. The Gang loved doing business in developing countries where the appearance of integrity is all you need to get by.
Two girls, standing behind Noodle asked, “What’s she doing here?” The said it loudly so he could overhear, and they said it in the direction of BeFly.
But Noodle didn’t know these girls, and they didn’t say it to his face. It was crazy to think that they were standing behind him, talking about his friend!
At a concert, Noodle was approached by The Neighbor, the one who had tried to convince The Tenant to leave Noodle’s house and move across the street.
“Hey, that is you! I didn’t recognize you at work.”
Noodle stared. He didn’t recognize him.
“I’m from Mountain State; I bought the house across the street from you. Remember? I know The Italian.”
“Yeah, I remember. But why are you talking to me?” Noodle asked. “Go have fun; enjoy the concert!”
“I wouldn’t know what to do with myself here. My wife is pregnant and I just got invited, you know, by the owner of your Club.”
“Yeah, I got that,” Noodle smiled.
The Neighbor then went to the office to meet with The Barracuda.
“What did you get out of him?” The Barracuda asked.
“Nothing! It’s like the same as before, that guy doesn’t speak!”
“Here is what I want you to do. Set up a video camera in your window and record everyone that stops by his house. I want to know who his friends are.”
“It won’t work. There’s a giant tree blocking my view.”
“Cut it down.”
“It’s massive, and it’s on City property.”
“Okay. When the next storm comes I’ll send some guys to split it open. They’ll make it look like the wind took it, or lightning struck it, and then MetroNorth will have no choice but to cut it down.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“Come on…what’s in it for me, he asks! You’re a friend of OURS now; we’ll take care of you. You can come to The Club whenever you’d like.”
“Really? My wife’s pregnant and we don’t go out much. Plus, that tree provides really good shade; it cuts down on my air conditioning costs.”
“Jeez, this guy wants it all! Tell me, what do you need?”
“My house needs to be sided. The estimate is like fifteen grand and we won’t have that kind of money for a while.”
“I’ll tell you what. I know a vinyl-sider. He’s a real piece of work, an alcoholic with a shitload of gambling debts. You pay for the materials and I’ll get him to pitch in his labor– as a tax against some of the interest he owes.”
“How do I know he’ll do a good job?”
“Oh, he’ll do a good job alright! I am not the guy you want to make look bad.”
That night Noodle took a cab home. Even the cab drivers were collecting Intelligence.
“Where are you coming from?” The Caribbean Cab driver asked.
“I work at a nightclub,” Noodle answered. He always tried to remain as private as politely possible.
“I know a girl who works at the nightclubs near where I picked you up, which one do you work at?”
“Majesty,” Noodle sighed.
“I know the Russian girl! She lives in MetroNorth. I know that because I used to give her a ride home every night. What’s her name again?”
“The Russian Doll,” Noodle reluctantly answered. “Will you let me out here?” Noodle asked two blocks from his house. He never let anyone know where he lived.
The Roommate never spoke either. Noodle liked that about her, they got along great. But that made it hard for Noodle to get to know her.
“Hey Roommate,” Noodle approached, “Do you ever hang out with anyone else from work?”
“No. I don’t talk to anybody. I mean, I talked to those bottle service girls once but they all just want to spend their money on boob jobs,” she groaned.
“Where did you go to school?”
“I attended the same high school as President Monkey; I got my degree from the Jewish University. I’m going to go to medical school.”
“Then what are you doing working at Majesty?!”
“I don’t know. My boyfriend is a DJ and I kind of want to be a stripper to pay for school. I started hanging out with club people after going to one of those industry sex parties with The Boyfriend.”
“Yeah. I’m not always The Perfect Girl. You haven’t heard of those? It’s like a big orgy. It’s really private and there are rules like no shoes or fluid exchange. You have to be invited and they’re held at a secret location.”
“I only went once. I wore a latex suit and didn’t even have sex.”
“So you went to President Monkey’s private high school, and you’re going to be a doctor, yet you work at Majesty and attend industry sex parties? Roommate, be careful, or Majesty will ruin your life!”
“I’ll be fine. I don’t drink or do drugs. What’s the worst that could happen?”
To repay The SquishHead for the Intel on Noodle’s excursion to Southern City, Intel which netted him one hundred thousand dollars, The Barracuda found The Cousin’s killer. But it was up to The SquishHead to deliver the payback.
He went out to find the guy whose name was on a piece of paper.
“That’s the guy, that’s the fucking guy!” The Meat Packer pointed as they drove by. “What do you want to do? You want to shoot him?”
“Dude! I didn’t bring a gun.”
“I have a knife, you should stab him. Stab him twice as many times as he stabbed your cousin.”
“I can’t stab a guy. I’m not like that.”
“That’s what he did to your cousin. An eye for an eye motherfucker!”
“Yeah, but my cousin was wrapped up in the streets. I’m not like that.”
“Dude, you’re a squish head. This is your chance, what are you going to do about it?”
“Let’s run him over. Fuck him. Let’s run that motherfucker over!” The SquishHead pumped himself up. He turned the car around and caught up to some kid who was walking down the sidewalk with headphones. He swerved to the side of the road, ran over the grass median, and accelerated the car down the sidewalk.
The guy started running. The SquishHead pressed the gas harder. With no chance to outrun a speeding vehicle, this guy darted into the street. The SquishHead swerved his car and hit the man from behind.
The guy flew up into the air so high that he cleared the windshield and bounced off the roof of the car before landing back on the street.
“Think he’s dead?”
“I don’t know…looks like he might have hit his head pretty hard. No…wait…he’s moving. He’s trying to get up!”
“Fuck him!” The SquishHead said, threw the car in reverse, and backed over the guy’s stomach. The pressure broke the guy’s back and paralyzed him from the waist down. He’d never walk again.
No one saw a thing, and the victim surely couldn’t say anything about the possibility that it was some kind of revenge conspiracy. So The Police marked it down as a random hit and run. They reported it to the media as an isolated incident. The victim wasn’t saying a word, and The Police never conducted an investigation.
But The SquishHead was proud that he had avenged his cousin’s death. And he wanted to give his family and friends some piece of mind. He stopped wearing the necklace bearing his cousin’s name. And he told everybody he knew that his cousin could finally rest.
It wasn’t long before word got around that a murder had been avenged. Word on the streets was that the payback was delivered by The Gang.
And so goes an eye for an eye vengeance that the violence never stops. It becomes an eye for an eye for an eye until everyone is broken.
The victims’ friends went to The Majesty as patrons. They started a fight. One of the bouncers stepped in and accosted them. Then the friends jumped the bouncers.
“Can you hear anything coming out of the radio,” Noodle asked The Hostess.
“No,” she answered. “It’s probably nothing.”
“All of our security has disappeared! None of the managers are even on the floor. I’d better check it out….to make sure everything’s okay.”
Noodle discovered more than twenty people fighting in the lobby. The Underboss had to step in, and Hotel Security too. The band of friends was taking swings at sixty year old men.
While retreating, the friends grabbed a bouncer by the collar and dragged him head first down the hard marble stairway.
Guys with eyes busted open had blood running down their faces. The fight spilled into the street and the cops showed up. But no one was talking. It was a firm rule in The Gang: No one talks to the police!
Noodle could only imagine the payback those friends were going to get back on their home turf. Eye for an eye vengeance spins round until everyone is dead!