CHURCH, The Television Show
Episode Six Part Two
Noodle was commuting to work when his phone began to malfunction. First one of the keys wouldn’t work, and then the whole screen went blank. The send button no longer made calls, and he couldn’t read any of his text messages. So he tossed his phone in the trash and bought a cheap replacement.
“What’s up Ninja!” The Manager greeted.
“Sorry I’m late, I had to stop and buy a new phone. My old one suddenly went blank, like it was microwaved or something.”
“Yeah, that happens. Can I take a look at what you got?”
“It’s just a twenty dollar piece of crap from MegaMart.”
“That’s cool, hand it to me, let me take a look.”
“What are you doing working in The City if you’re from Gotham?” Noodle asked.
“You know, the clubs in Gotham are much better because they can stay open until four in the morning. All of my friends are always like Manager, Manager, come back here to work in Gotham. But I’m like, why would I want to work there when I get to work in The City! You know what I mean?”
“Nope.” Noodle answered then went inside to punch in. Anytime The Manager said, ‘You know what I mean?’ Noodle had no clue what he was talking about.
The Manager climbed into the ceiling to get his special phone from the rafters that he used to call The Spook, his contact at the NSA.
“Noodle’s got a new phone.”
“Sandsong t90. You’d better hurry up because our asset is too honest. The Gang doesn’t like that, it makes them nervous. They’re going to screw him up until he’s got nothing left to lose.”
“Are you going soft on me again?”
“Well, if they destroy him…”
“That phone’s easy to replicate. An operative will bring a replacement by tonight. Give it to his roommate; tell her to swap it out while he’s asleep. It’ll be wired for sound and we’ll get everything that goes on around him. Everything.”
When Noodle walked through the lobby, The Barracuda was sitting on the couch, interviewing a new cocktail waitress.
“No. The Manager’s not the boss,” he told her. “You should talk to me. We’re like co-bosses in the sense that he books the music and makes the advertisements, and I manage the bars and I run The Club! Let me take your picture,” he said with his camera phone outstretched.
Noodle kept walking; he just kept doing his job.
Once The Club had opened, a couple of cocktail waitresses left their table and ran into The Marketer’s office. Noodle followed them to make sure that everything was okay.
When he opened the door, The Model was bent over the Marketer’s desk, snorting a line of cocaine. Noodle smiled and shut the door. Noodle never told on them. Noodle never told on anybody.
After the club had closed, one customer was still at the bar, arguing with The Barracuda about his tab.
“There is no way I ordered this many drinks!”
“Are you calling my bartenders liars?” The Barracuda countered.
“I’m not signing this credit card receipt!”
“Let me tell you something. You’ll do exactly what I tell you to do. But to show you what a nice guy I am, I’m going to refund your entire bill. Sign that receipt so I can issue you the refund; and hurry up before I change my mind.”
The customer signed his name.
“Okay, now give me your credit card so I can swipe it for the refund.”
The Barracuda swiped the card, and the customer signed the second receipt. But the Barracuda really swiped his card for the full charges again to charge him twice. So it went at Club Majesty.
All the while, The Manager was giving The Roommate Noodle’s new NSA wired cell phone.
“Start looking out for Noodle,” he said. “They’re going to start fucking with his life. And no matter what happens, don’t blow your cover! For this to work, we need him to really freak out.”
“Do you want a ride home?” The Roommate asked Noodle.
“Yeah, but can you hold on like fifteen minutes? It’s been a stressful week and I wanna buy some pot to relax.”
Noodle called Washington, who was always trying to sell him drugs anyway. “Hey, can I buy a twenty bag?”
“Where you at?”
“I’ll come inside.”
“Nah, we’re closed, that’s probably not a good idea.”
“Wanna buy some cocaine? I have cocaine,” Washington pushed over the phone.
“No thanks, I’m not interested in that.”
Five minutes later, Noodle met Washington outside.
“Let’s walk down the block a little,” Noodle said.
“Because we’re in the middle of the street right outside The Club! Someone’s gonna see us.”
“It don’t matter, I’m Mr. Washington! I told you, I’m with The Barracuda!”
“Still dude, you never know when there might be a cop hiding in the freaking bushes. You never know who’s looking, so just step around the corner – out of sight.”
“Where are you going after this?”
“It’s late. I’m going home!”
“Well I’m going to America’s First College to push some shit on those rich boys,” Mr. Washington announced.
“Just be safe,” Noodle cautioned. “Don’t run around telling everyone in the world who you are!”
That night Washington was arrested in First College Square for selling cocaine.
The Roommate always parked in Asia Town, the Chinese section of The City. It was a long walk.
“Roommate, I overheard The Barracuda saying that he’s the co-boss. Is that true?”
“No. He’s lying. The Manager is the boss, after DJ. The Barracuda works for The Manager.”
“Then why would he say that? Why would he lie?”
“I think he’s just jealous! Did you know that The Coat Check Girl aspires to be a criminal defense lawyer? What do you think of that?”
“I don’t know. It’s a good job. They make a shit ton of money.”
“Yeah, money defending criminals; they work to let murderers and rapists walk free!”
“Well, that’s the system we have, and it’s great because it promotes real justice. I mean, I agree that murderers should be locked up – but what if they are innocent? It’s only fair – everyone deserves to have someone working to prove their innocence. What if it was a persecution? What if the Power went against people who didn’t share their beliefs and there was no way to fight back?”
“I still think it’s shitty to defend criminals.”
“Without balance, the world would be more messed up than it already is. Things can’t be one-sided. But unfortunately, when people accumulate power, they find balance to be inefficient. One side leads to the Powerful exploiting the Powerless. Two sides can exist in balance, but it’s hard to keep stabilized. Ideally, everything has three sides. We need criminal defense. It’s just.”
“I guess you’re right,” she sighed.
Back at Majesty, The Barracuda was having another meeting with The Prince.
“What are we doing to break Noodle today?”
“Fuck Noodle. I’m tired of hearing how everyone likes him and that we shouldn’t touch him because he hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s exactly the kind of guy you gotta watch out for.”
“You’re sure he’s not with US?”
“Of course he’s not with US! Every time someone comes through the front door saying they’re friends of mine, he gets on his little radio and calls me to confirm their entrance. He’s a tattle- everyone can hear who I’m letting in at the door.”
“Yeah. He does the same thing with my people, he calls The Manager to confirm the party,” The Prince condemned. “I miss the old days when the whole club was OUR people, but you can’t look back. Just make sure he’s not with The Army!”
The following night, Noodle stopped a couple that hadn’t purchase admission tickets.
“But we already paid cover. We just paid a hundred dollars to get in the front door!”
“Really?” Noodle wondered aloud.
Noodle walked out front and confronted The Creep. “Did you just make these customers pay one hundred dollars just to get by you?”
“Yeah,” he kindly admitted.
“You should give it back. I need them to pay cover at the box office.”
Graciously, The Creep reached into his pocket and returned the money. Noodle didn’t tell on him. Noodle never told on anybody.
“Hey Noodle,” The SquishHead greeted after The Club had closed. “Remember I told you I live in MetroNorth? Well, I don’t have a ride; wanna split a cab-ride home?”
“Sure. Splitting the fare will really help my bottom line. Let’s leave out the back door.”
“Why do you go out the back?”
“If you catch the cab in front of the building, the driver has to make three right turns just to get going in the direction of MetroNorth. By walking fifty yards past the backdoor, you can shave nearly an entire mile off the meter.”
“Wow, that’s smart, let’s do that,” The SquishHead agreed. “So tell me your story about Spartacus.”
“Nah. It’s nothing juicy. It’s just like here.”
“What do you mean?”
“That’s it. Nothing more,” Noodle stopped and outstretched his arm.
“Why are you stopping?”
“To hail a cab.”
“Let’s keep walking. I want to smoke a cigarette. Do you want one?”
“Sure,” Noodle answered.
“So did you know that Sean Connor is a Pilot in the Army?”
“No. That’s weird,” Noodle reflected. “I hadn’t heard a word of that. Are you sure it’s Sean Connor?”
“Yeah. I’m sure. He told me himself. That must be pretty cool, to be a pilot.”
“Yeah it must be cool,” Noodle said, thinking that this Sean Connor sounded a lot like himself.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to be a pilot,” The SquishHead continued. “I’m thinking about taking lessons.”
“Dude, I gotta stop you right there.” Noodle was confused. “I mean, you know that I’m a pilot right? That I’m in process to join the Army…to fly for them?”
“Are you really a pilot? I think I remember you might have told me that.”
“Yeah, I’m a private pilot with an instrument rating.”
“You should talk to Sean Connor then, because he’s an Army pilot too.”
“I will talk to him,” Noodle confirmed. “I feel like I would have heard about this guy.”
“So were you actually in The Army?” The SquishHead tried one last time.
“Dude!” Noodle grew frustrated. “I never told anyone that I served in The Army. I’m trying to get into the Army!”
“Oh, okay. So you’re not in The Army?”
“No! Are you in The Army?”
“Why would I be in The Army?”
“Because you’re always wearing those tags around your neck.”
“I just took them off,” The SquishHead said. “I was wearing them in memory of my cousin, who was murdered. But we just laid him to rest.”
“Oh shit dude, I forgot…sorry for bringing it up. But you first told me about him months ago. You just now laid him to rest?”
“Well, he can rest in peace now.”
“Do you mean that you’ve finally come to terms with your loss?”
“Yeah, something like that,” The SquishHead said then hailed their cab.
To cheer him up, Noodle explained how to become a pilot. He laid out a whole plan for The SquishHead to get inexpensive lessons.
“Wait,” Noodle stopped. “I haven’t known you very long. You’re not a terrorist are you? I mean, you don’t really look like one, but you can never be too sure these days!”
“No. I’m not like that.”
“Okay, just making sure,” Noodle said then stopped the driver a couple of blocks before his house. He never told anyone where he lived.
When the cab rolled away, The SquishHead texted The Barracuda. ‘Noodle was NOT in The Army.’
That night, when Noodle was trying to sleep, it started to rain and the wind picked up. Lightning struck.
Noodle woke up in the morning to the sound of DPW saws cutting down the tree across from his house which had split in half in the middle of the night.
“Must have been struck by lightning,” The Neighbor winked.
“Yeah, must have,” Noodle replied, wondering why none of the taller, densely packed homes on the block had been struck.
“Prince, check out this video we have going of Noodle’s driveway!” The Barracuda called. “The Neighbor really came through. What’s that contractor’s number who owes US money?”
“Check the drawer. His business card is in there somewhere. Clear Carpentry, I think that’s the company’s name.”
The Barracuda opened the desk drawer. “What’s this?”
“What?” The Price asked without looking up.
“Oh. No shit. The Italian found that laying around The Club. That’s the magazine with the loudmouth singing from jail about The City’s drug connections to Gotham.”
“He claims he ran The City? What a laugh.”
“No shit. Back then, The Italian was running around with The Underboss and the rest of OUR friends from Old Town in a war with Seamus McCafferty and his Cold Hill Gang for control of The City.”
“Ain’t that some history?!”
“But get this. Look inside the front cover. The Printer – turns out he has cousin’s running a half ton of lumber a year over in the Oppressed Parish.”
“I thought we were supplying the Oppressed Parish.”
“The Printer is our affiliate’s competition!”
“So it’s a Rat publication, it calls attention to our Gotham trade routes, and they’re OUR competitors? I’m thinking it’s time for a hostile takeover!”
“It’s a big risk. They have a lot of family; we could lose. And there’s no way The City is going to tolerate a war between the gangs. It could come back to us; it could come back to bite us in the ass.”
“So we take one shot. We send a major message. We make it so bloody that The City comes in and locks that place down for a year. And we’ll use out-of-towners. If no one knows where the strike came from, then there’s no one to fight back against.”
“I’ll clear it with The Irishman.”
“Don’t. This one’s going to be a mystery. You’ll see; it’ll be so fucked up that everyone will just want to move on.”
“Well then, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Good. Burn that fucking magazine!”
A week later Noodle was hanging out with the journalist at The Diplomat’s house.
“How’s Crime Magazine going?” He asked. “When’s the next issue coming out?”
“It’s not, we’re shutting down.”
“What are you talking about? I thought the magazine was a huge success.”
“The Printer is closing up shop. Haven’t you heard? There was a mass murder in The Oppressed Parish. Masked men stormed a house and just started executing everybody. I think as many as ten people were killed. There are no witnesses, no one was left alive. They dragged children as young as four years old out into the streets and shot them at point blank range.”
“That’s horrible! I can’t believe that happened in The City. I can’t believe that would happen anywhere. Who does that?”
“No one knows. The cops think it was gang rivalry. But there are no suspects, it’s a mystery.”
“What’s that got to do with Crime Magazine?”
“It was The Printer’s cousins. He’s got some really intense shit to deal with right now, so the magazine is officially out of business.”
“God, help us!”
“Come on Noodle,” The Journalist educated, “There is no God!”
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