CHURCH, The Television Show
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This isn’t about you; it’s about Aliens, all they have done for US, and all we have done to ruin it. Trust this isn’t about you; any likeness is intended purely for fictional purposes, and not a living soul on earth knows who you really are. This isn’t about you; this isn’t war, this is new religion. War is why we are all so poor in the first place- let’s all share in the riches of Peace, and learn to coexist with each other and the animals, the air and water and trees. Anger will only make you look guilty so remember that this isn’t about you, it’s about THEM, and all they have done for us. So stay happy, stay calm, and please enjoy the show.
Dedicated to Ethan Collins, who taught me that nothing we believe is true. Truth is only what most of us believe.
Dedicated to N.A., who gave all he had before YOU killed him.
When it gets dark enough, look to see the stars.
“Art is writing about reality in such a way that you don’t piss anyone off!”
“The essential guide for anyone joining the Army, or Organized Crime for that matter.”
- The Journalist
“When you die, you’re going to wish that you were more promiscuous!”
- The Manager
Church, The Television Show
“Kill her,” The Casino man shouted from behind his desk.
“Hits are expensive, they’re risky,” The Producer dissuaded. “Let’s scare her. We can cut her face.”
“No! She went to bed with The Police.”
“What could she have possibly given them?”
“The ecstasy, she told the U.F.O. that we cook The E! Kill her!”
The Undercover Federal Officer held his final meeting with The Casino Dancer. “Say goodbye to your boyfriend,” he advised. “And don’t say a word to anyone else. Not even your family.”
“It’s not that bad.”
“They’ve called a hit on you. You’ll have to go into witness protection.”
“Witness protection!” She cried. “I told you, they have all the cops in this city. They have highway patrol. They have the gaming commission. You don’t realize how far their money goes. If you drive me away in the back of a cop car they’ll find me.”
She pleaded, “They have eyes everywhere. There’s no way you’ll get me out of town without THEM knowing. They’ll go after the people I love. Leave me out of this. If I act naturally nobody will think that anything has happened. You have no case against these people.”
“You’re right. You’re absolutely right. That’s why we don’t do it that way anymore. Casino Dancer, we’re going to let them kill you.”
“What?!” She panicked.
“Relax,” The U.F.O smiled. “We have a guy on the inside. He’s a hit man. He’s going to steal you from your car and make you disappear. We have a make-up guy from Hollywood and he’s going to beat you up real bad. Trust me, everyone’s going to think that you’re dead.”
“In a few days.”
“Where…How?” The Casino Dancer’s mind raced.
“This will feel very real, even for you. You’re going to be scared, right up until you wake up on the beach in Madagascar and this whole thing is behind you.”
“For all you know,” he smiled. “Trust me, this place is like heaven.”
Noodle woke up and read the news. A car was discovered abandoned in Casino Town with its doors left wide open. A dancer was missing and her boyfriend was the only suspect.
Comments were posted below the online article. The public was concerned. Some condemned her profession, while The Trolls called her a whore. And yet, other comments portrayed a curious kind of sympathy.
“I knew her,” one commenter posted. “This is tragic. I am so, so sorry to hear that she is missing. I bet her family is a wreck!”
It seemed to Noodle that if you knew her, that if you really cared, you’d be out hunting down her kidnaper with the conviction of outrage and the passion of grief. Not online, blogging about her family’s pain, or surmising their suffering.
Other comments read like the Barracuda’s surreptitious gloating. “A dancer is missing…isn’t that too bad!”
When Noodle was finished reading the comments below the news article, he walked to MetroNorth Main Streets. Their fundraising drive was complete, business memberships were at a high, and he was about to create a business owner network to collaborate on neighborhood initiatives.
He and The Executive Director met with Anthony Spinelli, The Networker, from the local chapter of the Small Business Group.
“Nice to finally meet you Noodle Church,” Anthony said while he reached out to shake Noodle’s hand.
“I heard you work at Majesty. My firm handles all of their accounting,” he winked. “I used to be The Manager at Club Warehouse before it was shuttered. And that led to this job at The Accounting firm. I know The Italian,” he winked again.
Noodle stared back with Big Eyes.
“What you need to drive business in this neighborhood,” Mr. Spinelli began, “Is lights! Bright lights flashing everywhere so that people know we’re here and open for business. Giant spotlights circling the sky so people will come from miles around. Trust me! People see a spotlight in the sky and think ‘I wonder where that’s coming from?’ They’ll follow the light all the way in like a moth. ZAP!” he yelled and clapped his hands, “We Got’m!”
“That’s one idea,” Noodle said.
“And I know the people who rent these lights. We’ll rent them out to you for a discount! And you’ll need lights on the marquees and lights around all the windows. It’s all about the lights baby!”
“Sounds a lot like Casino Town,” Noodle smiled.
“And you need entertainment. People will come for the entertainment. We’ll get musicians to walk up and down the sidewalk playing the trumpet. People will drive by and think ‘What a great neighborhood’!”
“But who’s going to pay for all that?” Noodle wondered.
“I know people,” The Networker answered, “We’ll get you a discount!”
“Here’s what I think,” Noodle began, “Let’s get all the restaurant owners together and see what they want to do. If there’s a consensus, maybe something organic will emerge.”
While Noodle was meeting at MetroNorth Main Streets, The Manager was in a meeting of his own, with The Spook.
“Word on the street is that The Majesty is moving a lot of cocaine,” The Spook condemned.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” The Manager dismissed. “But that’s Police, or DEA business at best. We’re here to catch The Terrorists.”
“Well, the DEA has a line on The Italian’s Assistant selling cocaine from her office.”
“That’s not our job! Anyway, I thought you guys don’t talk to DEA because of their lack of pedigree.”
“Trust me, I could care less. Let the scum snort themselves to an early death is what I say. But here’s how it affects us. If the DEA or City brass start sniffing around, then the Arabs will get scared and it blows everything we’ve built. This place has to feel like a safe haven for the criminal elite. No Police!”
“Copy that. I’ll try to curb the dealing – but they’re not going to stop. At best, I might be able to slow it down a little,” he said and hung up the phone.
“I’m going to miss you,” The Diplomat said to Noodle.
“When do you start school in Liberty Nation?”
“My flight leaves next week. I start school a week after that.”
“What are you going to do with all your stuff?”
“I’m going to leave most of it here.”
“You can put some of your stuff in my basement if you’d like. My house is like a fortress. No one comes over, and between the two units someone’s always home. Plus, I’m pretty much stuck there for life!”
The next morning Noodle awoke to a text from The Supervisor.
‘Can you come in ASAP? The Manager needs your help setting up.’
Noodle threw on a torn fire department sweatshirt and ran into Majesty but he couldn’t find The Manager.
The Meat Packer was spray painting enormous Styrofoam airplanes an artist had built, but Noodle couldn’t figure out what he was there to do.
He found The Italian’s Assistant taking pictures of the floor.
“Do you know why The Manager needs me?” Noodle asked.
“Nope. I’m here because we’re putting in new floors. I’m going to order an extra thousand square feet and have it shipped to my house so I can get a new floor too!”
“Oh,” Noodle sighed. He was tired and hungry. He was just out of bed.
“Some people are like, Me Me Me…, you know what I mean?” The Manager asked when Noodle walked over.
As usual, Noodle didn’t know what he meant.
The Italian was watching them from across The Club. “What does he want? To be a firefighter?” The Italian condemned.
And then DJ emerged. “I think he needs direction,” The Manager said to DJ behind Noodle’s back but loud enough for him to overhear.
“You know,” Noodle grimaced, “Sometimes I think that you guys are just setting me up for failure.”
“Noodle’s kinda right about that!” The Manager said to DJ.
“What’s that?” DJ ignored.
“Tell him Noodle,” The Manager coaxed, “Tell him what you just said.”
“You guys are setting me up for failure!”
DJ didn’t say a word. He just walked away.
Eight hours later, after Noodle and The Artist had finished hanging the last of the Styrofoam spaceships, The Manager briefed Club Security. There were a lot of new faces, and he wanted to make an impression.
“Make it through the Fall,” The Manager declared, “And we will be brothers!”
That night, The Roommate gave Noodle a ride home.
“The Supervisor and The Manager cornered me tonight and they kept asking what I saw in The Italian’s Assistant’s office,” The Roommate said.
“What did you see?”
“Nothing!” She answered. “The Meat Packer went in there with The Italian’s Assistant, that’s all.”
“That’s weird. They’re probably fucking.”
“And tonight, they didn’t close the door all the way.”
“So, what did you see?”
“I told them! I didn’t see anything. I don’t know anything,” she pleaded.
“I’m sure it’s not a big deal, I wouldn’t worry about it.”
On Saturday, The Supervisor busted Noodle’s balls. “What are you in college Noodle Church?” He asked.
“No. Why would you ask that?”
“Because you’re wearing a Zoo college sweatshirt.”
“Relax Supervisor, it’s my Alma Mata!”
“What’s up Assassin!?” DJ greeted. He kept walking, but The Manager stopped to say hello.
“Some people don’t need an office, you know what I mean?” The Manager asked.
“I don’t know what you mean!” Noodle exclaimed. “I never know what you mean!”
The Manager didn’t answer. He just walked away. That happened a lot at The Club.
A skinny Asian kid started a fight that night. His friend, who was a little bit bigger, jumped in too.
The only problem was that the skinny one wanted to keep swinging, and it took a lot of energy to drag the wiry ones from The Club. But The Ultimate Fighter was there too; he picked The Asian kid up and carried him away.
Noodle and The Meat Packer escorted this kid downstairs. After each flight, The Asian turned around and threw punches at them through thin air.
“You guys fucked up!” He yelled. “Don’t you know who the fuck I am?”
The Club Security laughed. Nobody of actual importance ever dropped that line. So they pushed him out the back door.
So the kid turned around and punched his fist through the window.
“Oh, no you didn’t,” The Supervisor huffed. “Let’s go outside and get him!”
They pushed The Asian kid against the wall until The Manager came outside.
“Take him to the ground,” The Supervisor ordered.
With great form, The Ultimate Fighter pinned The Asian down like a cop, and placed his knee over his neck.
“Take his ID!” The Supervisor ordered.
He passed the ID to The Manager, who committed everything on the Asian kid’s license to memory.
Noodle stood and watched. He was a natural lookout. “Guys, you might want to cool it. There’s a guy in his car right there,” Noodle pointed, “And he’s staring at us. He could be a Narc!”
“Don’t worry, he can’t do anything to us,” The Manager encouraged. “Noodle, go back inside. We’ll take it from here.”
On his way out of work Noodle went to get his things from the employee coat room but they were gone. He’d hung his Zoo College hooded sweatshirt underneath his thirteen year old leather turncoat – both had gone missing.
After searching, Noodle found his coat piled beneath the lost and found, but he never found his college hoodie.
“Was it gray?” A bus boys asked while they were outside smoking.
“Yeah,” Noodle answered.
“Security took this barely conscious fat girl out the back door. She was wearing that sweatshirt,” the busser informed.
“My college sweetheart gave me that sweatshirt!” Noodle exclaimed. “And it was hanging under my jacket!”
“That’s fucked up,” the busser advised, “Go steal their shit for payback.”