CHURCH, The Television Show
The Spook was a relentless, government class manipulator. He had access to everyone’s network, which gave him the power to orchestrate a small world.
The Spook called his contact at Brown Box delivery. This guy was worked inside corporate security.
“Add this address, Noodle Church and The Roommate in MetroNorth, to the terror watch list,” he requested.
“Are you looking for anything specific?”
“Our x-ray’s have limitations.”
“Open their shipments. I’ll fax over the National Security paperwork. Record all of the return addresses, as well.”
“Jesus, who are you tracking?”
“It’s a post, post nine-eleven world. We’re watching everybody.”
“I don’t want to know what you have on me.”
“E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g,” The Spook pretended to joke.
After breakfast, Noodle went downstairs to see The Tenant. “What’s up Tenant? It’s the middle of the month and I still haven’t received your rent.”
“Yeah, about that…I’ll put something together for you tomorrow.”
“You said tomorrow last week, and the week before that, and I’m starting to feel like you’re giving me the run around.”
“You know what it is? Work owes me money and they didn’t have it the last time I asked,” The Tenant lied, he was out of work.
“What’s up with your car? It’s been parked in the back of the driveway for months and it hasn’t moved an inch. It looks disabled.”
“It’s not disabled. I lost my license: DUI. I wasn’t even that drunk. I’ve been thinking of selling it.”
“That’s a good idea. It would help you catch up on rent.”
“Hey Noodle, why don’t you take these?”
“What are these?”
“Just a couple of pain killers to help you relax.”
“No thanks. You should keep them.”
“Come on, you could sell them to a friend.”
“I could, but I’m not going to. I’ll see you next week Tenant.”
Before Noodle got back inside, the Brown Box guy showed up with a delivery.
“I have a package for The Roommate,” he said. “Does she live here?”
“Yeah, she lives here.”
“I don’t see her name on the mailbox.”
“You’re right. That’s my mistake. Would you like me to go get her for you?”
“You don’t have to do that. I was just checking up on things.”
“I like you,” Noodle smiled.
“The Brown Box guy just delivered this package for you,” Noodle said when he got upstairs. “It looks like it’s been opened!”
“That’s okay,” The Roommate answered as if she expected as much.
“Roommate, step into my office,” The Barracuda called when she got to work.
“What do you want?”
“On Friday night, I want you to leave Noodle’s back-door open.”
“Don’t ask why!”
“What if somebody steals something and he kicks me out?”
“They’re not going to steal anything. They’re just going to poke around so we can see what kind of a guy he is. Noodle’s so quiet…nobody knows anything about him.”
“I know him, he’s cool,” The Roommate explained.
“Roommate, he’s not going to just come out and tell you if he’s a sicko! We have to investigate our people.”
“Okay, I guess,” she agreed.
The Roommate bent over to pick some coat hangers off of the ground; and Noodle watched as The Barracuda snapped a photo of The Roommate’s ass.
“Manager,” The Roommate complained. “The Barracuda wants me to leave Noodle’s back door open so The Gang can go through his stuff.”
“I don’t want to do that!”
“Roommate, do exactly as I tell you: Do everything The Barracuda asks. It’ll be okay, we’re out in front of THEM.”
“Are you sure? I don’t have a lock on my door; I don’t want some looser going through my stuff too.”
“But how do you know?”
“They won’t, but if it makes you feel any better, here’s what you do: Pick up one of those nanny camera’s hidden inside of a teddy bear or whatever and set it up on your bed. It will give you some piece of mind.”
“Okay,” she agreed.
While Noodle was in the bathroom washing up, The Manager came in. Noodle reached into his breast pocket and passed an envelope containing the letter he’d requested detailing Noodle’s position on compensation.
“This is for your eyes only,” Noodle said as he slid the envelope across that vanity’s marble.
“I know, I had to immediately shred your resume,” The Manager winked.
Later that night a girl came in with another one of those paper laminate government ID’s.
“What kind of ID is this?” Noodle asked.
“I’m a military spouse,” she answered.
“You’re not a spy?”
“That’s silly, the girl said and dashed away.”
At the end of the night, The Manager helped push people out.
“Hey, you’re like that guy from We Own The Night,” a customer said.
The Manager stood without the slightest motion. He was a trained sniper.
“You know,” the boy continued, “That movie where The Gang kills the guy’s father and he has this lifelong vendetta and his brother goes deep undercover thinking that he is with The Gang – until he learns of his father’s death and flips and they find out The Boss of The Gang is trafficking cocaine while taking his grandchildren for horse riding outings?”
The Manager stood right next to this kid, never turning, never speaking, and never even flinching.
“Well, you’re just like the guy in that movie,” the boy whispered.
The very corner of The Managers mouth lifted as he gracefully refrained from smiling. And then, he disappeared behind the foliage.
“Hey guys, wanna hear something weird?” Noodle asked The Manager after he found him again with The Supervisor. “When I was backstage I found a bunch of charred banana peels inside a burned piece of aluminum foil! What’s up with that?”
The Manager and The Supervisor turned toward each other and gave each other Big Eyes. And then they walked away.
“Hey Roommate, can you give me a ride home tonight?” Noodle asked after punching out.
“I can’t. I have to wait a half hour until The Boyfriend gets out of work. We’re going to sleep at his house.”
So Noodle took a cab. When he got inside he noticed that the backdoor leading from his porch had been left open.
He knew that it was closed when he left. The Roommate must have left in a rush.
The following afternoon, Noodle’s friend Mehca came over.
“How can your roommate let her rabbit live in those conditions? Look how dirty his cage is!”
“Come on Mehca, it’s not that bad.”
“Clean up after your bunny!” Mehca yelled loud enough for The Roommate to overhear, “He’s sad in there.”
Noodle laughed. “You know Mehca, if you have a problem with someone, you should say it to their face. Yelling something random so that they overhear isn’t going to change the world.”
“What did you find in Noodle’s apartment?” The Barracuda asked The Tenant when he called.
“That depends; The Neighbor never said what you’re going to pay for the recon work.”
“The Neighbor told me you were a bartender, and that you’ve been out of work.”
“Yeah, I could really use the money!”
“Well, how about this. Our friends’ own a bar in Town Line Square. Why don’t you go apply for a job and I’ll put in a good word for you. Then you can work for US.”
“That would be fantastic!”
“What did you find?”
“Well, Noodle doesn’t have much stuff. I went through everything – even the kitchen cabinets and drawers and stuff.”
“Continue…what did you find?”
“Plates, rolling papers, clothes, paint, books, pilot gear. He really doesn’t have much stuff.”
“Come on, give me something good, what did you find on US? What’s on his computer, what’s on his bank statements, his mail, where’s he getting his money from?”
“I didn’t find anything like that. None of that stuff. But he has two big file cabinets and they were locked. I wasn’t able to get into them.”
“So you got me nothing. And here you are asking me to hand you a job!”
“Wait! I didn’t say I was finished. I found a couple of things.”
“Tell me! Jesus, with the suspense!”
“I found a lapel pin from the CIA stashed away in the back of his closet.”
“Really? That’s odd. What else?”
“I found a box of lingerie and women’s underwear. With it, there was a photograph and a note that said, ‘Till death do us part.'”
“Interesting. Not exactly what I was looking for. Was there a ring? A girl’s name?”
“Do you think he’s married – like he’s got another life somewhere else?”
“I never thought about it. I guess he could. He doesn’t date.”
“Good stuff. Ask for Lester at The Tavern, he’ll set you up,” The Barracuda said and hung up the phone.
By morning a second tree had fallen – this one at a house on an adjacent street a hundred yards away. It cleared to view another neighbor’s house that he’d never seen; dozens of windows now stared back at him.
He didn’t even recall a storm coming in the night.
News headlines broadcasted a ring of criminals, between one-hundred and one-hundred-fifteen, had been arrested in Coastal State and brought up on Racketeering, Intimidation, and Corrupt Organization charges.
Noodle quickly read the list quickly to see if there were any names he recognized. Majesty had lots of friends in Coastal State.
And then he clicked on a video report in the online edition of Money Journal.
“Most people in This Country think that The Gang is a thing of the past,” The Commentator reported, “But they’re alive and well. In fact, because the nature of this economy, they’re thriving. Albeit, much less violent, their rackets include thousands of legitimate businesses, tax evasion, pharmaceuticals, energy drinks, cosmetics, weight loss products, knock-off goods, extortion, sports betting, prostitution, drug trafficking, stolen goods, human trafficking, real estate dealings, phishing scams, charitable scams, union busting, and Medicare billing fraud.”
“If you can think of it, they are doing it.” The Commentator then finished his report with a warning, which Noodle took personally. “And beware; The Gang has a very, very long institutional memory!”
Noodle closed the video and went downstairs.
“Roommate, at some point, someone at work is going to ask you to do something. You won’t know what they are asking you to do, or why they are asking you to do it. But Roommate, you have to be strong. You have to ask questions. And you have the courage to just say No!”
“What on earth do you mean?” The Roommate asked with her lying voice. Then she walked away.
Donate then continue reading with Season Four Episode One!