CHURCH, The Television Show
“Where’s Doughboy tonight?” The Manager asked.
“I don’t know. He called out sick again,” The Supervisor replied.
“Did he say why?”
“He said he has hives! Do you know what that means?”
“I think that means he’s stressed,” The Manager sighed. “See if you can call in someone else. Call SecuriTemps, we’re going to be busy tonight.”
“Do you have their number?”
“I’ll get it from DJ.”
“Did you hear?” DJ gloated. “The Barracuda got Doughboy to freak out! This is perfect.”
“No, it’s not perfect. We’re now going to have to call SecuriTemps because we’re short too many guys.”
“I don’t care about that! We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
“This isn’t the moment you’re looking for,” The Manager cautioned. “This isn’t what we need!”
“Don’t go soft on me soldier!” DJ struck. “This is what we’re here for, to get these kids to freak out!”
“We need them to run so THEY follow them.”
“Yeah, we freak them out and they run!”
“DJ, Doughboy might never leave his dorm room again! He’s got a rash all over his body. Did you hear what they did?”
“What’d they do?”
“They taped pictures of him posing nude in his underwear all over his college campus! Nothing about this situation is going to help us catch Terrorists!”
“What should we do?”
“Let him sleep it off. We let him recover. Then we try to build him back up and hope we can use him another day.”
“I don’t know. We still have VirginBoy. And Noodle. Noodle’s our best shot anyway.”
Inside The Club, Noodle finally ran into Striker, the Army Pilot working for The Gang.
“Hey Striker, I’m Noodle,” he introduced himself.
“Are you new here?”
“No! You’re the new guy! I’ve worked here since The Club reopened as Majesty, but I’m usually downstairs taking tickets. Sean Connor told me that you’re an Army Pilot.”
“That’s right! I’m a pilot in The National Guard.”
“Sweet! I’m trying to join the regulars. It’s taking me a really long time!”
“I think I’ve heard about you,” Striker smiled.
They stood, discussing their flight time while the Barracuda was downstairs with The Prince, plotting targets.
“Nice job with Doughboy,” The Prince praised. “I heard he has hives.”
“Death to The Manager’s spies, I wish they’d all kill themselves.”
“Come on now, that’s taking it too far. They’ll get the message. But that’s not good enough to get you made. What are you doing to break Noodle already?”
“That girl from Desert City is about to break his heart.”
“You’ve got to do better than that!”
“He hates working the lobby.”
“Wouldn’t you? One hundred people in front of you, crying to get in, and fifty people at your back, pushing to get out.”
“Here’s what I’m going to do,” The Barracuda planned. “I’m going to get Noodle sent back to the lobby!”
“That’s good, but you can do better.”
“His firefighter test is coming up.”
“I hate firefighters.”
“Then here’s what you do, find out when the test is and get him sick. He’ll either do terribly or miss it entirely!”
“And if that doesn’t work?”
“There are other things – things that work best when nobody knows about them. Just find out when his civil service exam is and I’ll help you with the rest. Now go take care of your pathetic plan to make Noodle miserable in the lobby!”
“Come on, I work here,” The Chauffer argued with Brian. “I don’t pay cover. Call The Barracuda!”
“I called him,” Brian responded. “He hasn’t answered, so you’re going to have to step aside and wait while I let other people in.”
“Did he just tell me to step aside?” The Chauffer asked his friend, loud enough for Brain to overhear.
“Yeah, I did,” Brian said inches from The Chauffer’s face. “And if you don’t, I’m going to move you!”
“Whoa, whoa,” The Barracuda said as he ran over. “What’s going on here?” He feigned ignorance.
“You’re employee just assaulted me! Tell him that I work here!”
“Brian, is that true, did you just assault The Chauffer? ”
“I called you on the radio,” Brian responded. “I’m just doing what The Manager told me to do.”
“I don’t want your excuses; I want you to answer my question!”
Every customer in the lobby turned to watch The Barracuda’s finale. “Did you put your hands on my Chauffer?” He yelled.
“Yeah,” Brian admitted. “I reached out to stop him from…”
“Brian, you’re fired! Go upstairs, punch out, and get out of my sight. You disgust me. Never come back to The Club again!”
Brian did as he was told; he went upstairs to punch out. “See you later Supervisor,” he said in passing.
“What do you mean, you’re quitting on me? It’s only your first night in the lobby. It’ll get easier down there.”
“The Barracuda fired me.”
“What did you do?”
“Don’t even answer that. He can’t fire you. You work for me!”
“Barracuda!” The Supervisor exclaimed. “You can’t fire my guy. I have no one else to take the tickets.”
“Let me tell you something – your employee assaulted one of our best customers. Put Noodle back down there.”
“Who’d he assault?” The Supervisor asked.
“Come on ‘Cuda,” The Supervisor coaxed. “You know that didn’t happen. I’m not going stick Noodle back there. Brian stays, get over it,” he said.
“What’s he so upset about?” Noodle asked The SquishHead after The Supervisor wound up and flung a stack of cups across the floor.
“The Barracuda just fired Brian from the lobby.”
“Fuck! I hope they don’t stick me back down there.”
“Did you know? I can’t be fired,” The SquishHead bragged. “I can never be fired!”
“Why does everyone who works here keep saying that?” Noodle wondered. “Anyone can be fired!”
“Not me. I’m with the right people, you know what I mean?”
“Oh shit!” Noodle exclaimed. “I gotta go…”
Noodle ran to The Panther Room just as fight broke out. One guy had pushed another, and then the second guy pushed back so that the first was pressed against the wall.
The second guy’s arm was cocked back above his shoulder, ready to punch the man stuck against the wall. Noodle quickly slipped his arm in front of this guy’s forearm and pushed his hand against the back of his neck. He locked him up, but the man’s arms were twice the size of Noodle’s legs; he easily could have thrown Noodle aside.
“Security,” Noodle whispered. “Relax your arms.”
Noodle caught a break, and the guy relaxed his fists. The fight broke out again, so The Supervisor stationed security in The Panther room for the rest of the night.
“Noodle, good work,” The Supervisor congratulated. “Come back to my house and hang out tonight.”
When Noodle got to The Supervisor’s house, everyone was hanging in the kitchen. There was one guy there who didn’t work at Majesty.
“I’m Rick Coast,” he introduced himself.
The Supervisor and The Hostess stared at Noodle, waiting for a reaction. Rick Coast was the cousin of a guy that Noodle went to High School with, whose father owned one of The Gang’s bars. You’d never believe how many people had connections to The Gang, unless you were inside its very depths of hell.
Noodle didn’t react to the connection which hit close to home.
“He doesn’t get it,” The Hostess whispered to The Supervisor.
Noodle didn’t care.
The Supervisor turned his attention to The Meat Packer. “I don’t like when my guys carry knives.”
“What? It’s legal.”
“But someone could grab it off your belt and stab you with it,” The Supervisor said and reached out to steal the knife off The Meat Packer’s hip.
He missed, and The Meat Packer slapped him across the face. They fought, each trying to exert dominance over the other. So Noodle strolled into the next room to chill with the cocktail waitresses.
“What happened here?” Noodle asked about the air conditioner lying atop broken glass.
“You didn’t hear?”
“The Supervisor had The Peacock’s girlfriend over for one of those industry sex parties. The Peacock was peeking through the windows when he saw his girl-friend well…um, you know…”
Another girl chimed in, “I heard he freaked out and started banging on the window. And then air conditioner fell in. It landed inches from The Assistant’s head!”
“Well, I think catching your girlfriend at a sex party would make anyone freak out.”
“Yeah, but it almost landed on her head! So The Supervisor and Captain Angry ran out of the apartment naked and chased The Peacock all the way down the street to beat the crap out of him!”
“What was The Assistant doing lying on the floor?” Noodle smiled.
“I think she was on her knees,” the girl giggled.
“Hey Noodle, you want a beer?” Captain Angry interrupted the girls’ laughter and threw a silver can across the room.
“I don’t drink,” Noodle said and threw the can back.
“Oh yeah! I forgot, this kid doesn’t drink. Why is that Noodle, why don’t you drink?”
“Captain Angry, my body is my temple! I’m careful about what I put inside of it because I’m planning to live my whole life inside of here!”
“Hahaha,” Captain Angry laughed. “Noodle, you’re an enigma!”
“I accept that,” Noodle smiled, “When are you shipping out?”
“In two weeks!”
“I’m jealous that I won’t be on that bus with you,” Noodle dreamed of The Army. “But I really hope I’m on the one right behind it!” .
Angel Brolié texted The Barracuda.
‘Okay, it’s done. I got him to be into me. We don’t owe you anything anymore.’
‘How do you know that he’s into you?’ The Barracuda texted back.
‘Cause he’s gonna buy me a cross country plane ticket.’
‘Oh my god you are awesome! Here’s what you do: Have him buy the ticket and then you’re never going to get on that plane. Tell him to wait for you at baggage claim!’
‘I like Noodle. I’m not gonna do that’
‘You will do that’
‘You can’t tell me what to do’
‘I can tell you what to do because OUR people supply the product. Without US as friends, Desert City will go dry’
‘Fuck me? You just fucked your whole enterprise you little whore’
‘Fuck you. We have plenty of friends you creepy asshole!’
When Noodle got to work on Saturday The Club was a mess. Everyone acted like they didn’t know what to do. It was chaos!
“Supervisor, we are going to be so busy tonight,” The Barracuda said.
“I know,” The Supervisor responded. “They pre-sold more than twelve hundred tickets.”
“I don’t know why everyone likes DJ T-shirt so much, he’s not even that good,” The Barracuda diminished. “But if we’ve sold so many tickets, you should put Noodle in the lobby. Otherwise, we’ll have chaos.”
“I know, but The Manager said not to put Noodle down there anymore.”
“Where’s The Manager now?”
“At dinner with DJ T-shirt.”
“Exactly. The Club opens in five minutes and look at this place: It’s a mess. I don’t know why you would listen to somebody who doesn’t even care enough to show up on time for work,” The Barracuda manipulated.
“Noodle, I need you downstairs in the lobby,” The Supervisor relayed. “Grab the clickers – you’re taking tickets tonight.”
“What are you talking about?” Noodle asked. “The Manager said that I never have to do that again.”
“I know,” The Supervisor responded.
“You have Brian now.”
“I know. I’m putting you in the lobby to take tickets. You’re the only one that I trust.”
Tickets were fifty dollars apiece, no one could find the guest list, the box office didn’t have any tickets to sell, and a thousand people were lined up at the front door.
‘Supervisor, I need to talk to you’ Noodle texted.
‘If you want to talk about it then you should just leave’ The Supervisor replied.
So Noodle did what The Supervisor said. He left The Club.
Less than a block away Noodle thought of how much he liked The Manager, of how he looked up to him. The Manager never even took a sick day. He didn’t want The Manager to return to The Club and find everything he’d built torn away. So he reached out:
‘Manager, I know you’re at dinner, but I wanted you to hear it from me that I walked out of The Club…After The Supervisor ordered me back to the lobby,’ Noodle texted.
‘He shouldn’t have done that…I’m out to dinner with DJ t-shirt…we’ve only just ordered.’
A small touch from The Manager was all it took to inspire Noodle. The Manager was that good. He was a true leader.
Noodle texted again. ‘I can’t do that to you. I can’t leave you hanging like this. I’ll take the tickets; let’s talk when you get back.’
It turned out to be one of the most stressful nights of Noodle’s life; DJ T-shirt’s fans were the epitome of obnoxious.
“How are things down here?” The Hostess asked.
“Shitty. The Manager said I’d never have to work the lobby again and here I am, helping them collect fifty grand while they pay me fifty bucks!.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” The Hostess commiserated. “I quit my day job and turned my life upside down to work here and they still owe me thousands in back pay.”
“What’s their excuse?”
“That they can’t pay me the money right away because of tax implications.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
The Hostess shrugged, ‘Whether it makes sense or not doesn’t help me get my salary!”
“It’s crazy upstairs. The place is packed!” The Barracuda bragged. “Noodle, I’m trying to get you that raise,” he said with his actor’s voice and smiled.
“Thanks ‘Cuda, sometimes I don’t know who’s telling me the truth around here!”
“The Hostess tells me that you signed up to take the firefighter exam,” The Barracuda planted.
“Noodle’s going to be a firefighter,” The Hostess chimed.
“Well, if I don’t get into The Army first,” Noodle explained.
“When do you take the test?”
“Next Saturday,” Noodle confirmed.
“You did a great job tonight; let me buy you a drink. What do you want?”
“A soda water.”
The Barracuda went to the kitchen and pulled The Meat Packer aside.
“Go to the bar and bring me back a soda water with lime,” he ordered.
When The Meat Packer returned The Barracuda squeezed the lime, withdrew a cotton swab, and used it to stir Noodle’s drink.
“Whatcha doin’?” The Meat Packer asked.
“Noodle thinks that he’s going to quit Majesty so that he can become a firefighter.”
“What’s that gonna do?”
“I have this friend, The Nurse…you do not want the shit that’s on the end of this cotton swab!” The Barracuda gloated. “Bring this drink down to Noodle.”
When Noodle woke up Sunday morning he wasn’t feeling well. He thought it was from a long night at work taking tickets from a thousand people’s hands.
Hey laid in bed and texted Angel.
‘Good morning doll, how are you?’
‘I’m Shitty. Drank too much last night.’
‘Me too. I think I’ve caught a cold. Want something to cheer you up?’
‘Yeah, cheer me up Noodle’
‘I downloaded a few itineraries. I’ll email them to you. Pick one out and I’ll buy you an airplane ticket!’
‘Okay J ‘ she texted back.
But Noodle never heard from her again. Poof, Angel Brolié was gone.