CHURCH, The Television Show
Majesty was in business. The first order was to tear the place apart and renovate it, so the public would actually believe it was a new club. If they just changed the sign, people would probably catch on.
DJ and Manager didn’t have to stress about the conversion – The Gang controls labor – especially the cheap, undocumented, hard-working, soft on building code type. So they sat back while the new place was being put together and began assembling their people.
“How the Ef- are we going to get this guy Noodle?” DJ asked.
The Manager laughed. “The Army has a list of pretty much everyone he’s ever talked to. He’s kind of private, but my girlfriend just happened to be in this sorority at some University where Noodle’s best friend’s roommate attended.”
“What?” DJ gasped while he tried to process the connection.
“I know. It’s crazy how networks tie together. But it’s great; my girlfriend knows Ms. Should, who lives where Noodle currently spends most of his free time. I’ll have my girl-friend invite Ms. Should over for dinner where I’ll plant the seed- I’ll let it drop that I’m opening a new club and if she’s got any unemployed friends that we can give them a leg up in the interview. Noodle’s unemployed pending his Army process, he’ll never know that he was recruited!”
“Hey Noodle!” Ms. Should greeted when he came through the door. “My friend The Manager is opening a new club and he’s hiring a lot of staff. Noodle, you should apply,” she said.
Noodle thought it would be a good idea to pick up some extra-cash while he continued the Military Entrance Process. He braved a snow storm to get to the interview. There, he met The Manager and The Supervisor. Noodle didn’t know it, but he already had the job.
Noodle worked hard. He showed up before opening day to mask mirrors in gold glaze and lug furniture. He bought a new suit to wear on opening night.
The grand opening was like a taste of Hollywood. Noodle met models and celebrities, Noodle met The Orphan and five hundred beautiful girls.
Noodle worked the door. His job was to make sure that everyone paid cover. Thousands of people came out for opening night, which kept Noodle busy. But he kept his head down and did everything that The Manager told him. If that meant getting in some guy’s face that was three times his size, and forcing him to buy an admission ticket, then that’s what Noodle did.
“Tell them you’re just doing your job, they respect that,” The Manager coached.
Some employees didn’t work as hard; some people never looked like they were working at all. One of those people was The Orphan. Noodle couldn’t figure out what he did. But Noodle didn’t mind, The Orphan looked after him.
“Noodle’s a Ninja!” The Orphan promoted to the sexy cocktail waitresses.
And, over time, The Orphan introduced Noodle to all the regulars: The Baker, The Chemist, The Pharmacist, The Tailor, The Cook, The Distributor, The Mechanic, The Broker, The Politician, The Doctor, The Pimp, The Cop, The Chairman, The Lawyer, The Courier, and The Driver. These regulars usually wore suits, and often had a big, round, protruding bellies. They were recognizable.
“Noodle, we all work for The Italian,” The Orphan would say. “Take care of those guys because they’re friends of OURS. It’s like one big family.”
“Why don’t they work here like you?” Noodle asked.
“Because they take care of other things. Like that guy,” The Orphan nodded his head toward The Pimp, “If you ever need a girl to escort you someplace nice just let him know – tell him that I said it was okay.”
“Thanks, but I like to meet my own dates,” Noodle smiled.
“Noodle, you’re one of us too. Everyone here is one of US. You could start doing other things, if you wanted.”
“I already have other things to do,” Noodle sighed. “I’m going to join the Army. They’re going to let me fly helicopters!”
“What are you some kind of cop!” The Orphan exclaimed.
“Don’t you know anything?” Noodle asked. “The Army’s not the cops. The Army fights people outside our country.”
“Then come with me after work, my cousin’s in town from Gotham City.”
Mr. Gotham didn’t look like he could be The Orphan’s cousin: They were different colors.
“Are you sure you’re related?” Noodle asked.
“Noodle I’m not lying. We have different fathers.”
“I thought you were an orphan?”
“Noodle, we have a guest tonight. It’s not polite to ask so many questions.”
Noodle got in the back while The Orphan drove Mr. Gotham’s car, because he knew his way around The City. It wasn’t long before those two were doing lines of cocaine off a mirror between their front seats.
“Noodle, you want some?” The Orphan asked.
“It’s only cocaine. And it’s good, uncut!”
“I know what it is,” Noodle answered, “but I’m cool.”
“He says he’s cool,” Mr. Gotham laughed nervously. “Orphan, I told you this kid’s a Narc!”
“Noodle, are you a Narc?” The Orphan turned to ask.
“No, I’m not a Narc dude.”
“Because, if you’re a cop, you’d have to tell us.”
“I’m not sure that I would have to tell you, but I assure you that I’m not a Narc. I’m trying to get into the Army, and it’s something I really want to do, so I’m not going to blow my future flying helicopters for a little cocaine.”
“Sounds like something a cop would say,” Mr. Gotham suggested.
“Noodle, do you know what we do to The Police? We kill The Police. So I’m going to ask you one more time, very politely, would you like some cocaine?”
Noodle realized that it wasn’t a gracious offer, that it wasn’t a choice. He had to consume the cocaine, and they were right, it was really good. He stared out the window thinking about the movie Training Day – when The Narc gets The Rookie wet – and Noodle really hoped that tonight’s similarities didn’t progress to the point where The Rookie was dropped in a bathtub with a shot-gun pressed to his head and asked if he’d ever had his shit pushed in!
“Hey Orphan, look out ahead, there’s a cop,” Noodle warned.
“There’s a what?” The Orphan joked.
“Police…One hundred yards ahead, put your drugs away or we’re all going to get busted!”
“Oh Noodle, don’t you know where you are?” The Orphan patronized. “Here, the cops are with US! This is our City!”
Noodle didn’t believe him. He thought The Orphan was crazy. A few blocks later Noodle warned of another Cop, this one was standing in front of them on the street.
“Orphan, a Cop!”
“Jesus Noodle, would you relax? Look…,” The Orphan slowed down and stopped right next to the policeman. He reached for the mirror and snorted a line of cocaine, and then he waved to the cop. The cop waved back.
“See Noodle, he’s one of US!”
The Orphan drove around like that for at least an hour; waving to all The Police they passed. Finally, they stopped for pizza.
“Noodle, this is one of our restaurants, order anything that you want. Mr. Gotham and I have some business to take care of.”
They were gone for a while and Noodle tried not to think about where they might be, or what they might be doing.
“Noodle go break into that car,” The Orphan ordered when they got back.
“No,” Noodle denied.
“Do it or Mr. Gotham is going to mess you up. He still thinks you’re a cop!”
“You’re going to beat me up!” Noodle said and charged at The Orphan. But Orphan was bigger. He stepped backwards and dropped Noodle’s head into the pavement.
Noodle accepted the defeat; it was worth it to stand up for what he believed.
Aside from The Orphan, not many other employees at The Majesty were very interesting, or fun. They were cool, but most were young. They didn’t have The Orphan’s wisdom or street sense.
The customers were, on the other hand, all characters. As the tickets collector, Noodle touched them all.
“Are you cool?” A customer turned back at Noodle after passing.
“Yeah, I’m cool, what’s it to you?”
“I got pills, I got dope, oxy, Vicodin, 20’s, 30’s, what do you want…what do you need?” The man pushed.
Noodle sighed. “Mister, all these regular people standing around can hear exactly what you’re saying.”
“It don’t matter, I’m Mr. Washington! I’m with The Barracuda. Don’t you know who he is? He’s your boss motherfucker!”
“Yes I know The Barracuda, but look, be a little quieter about your business. Okay?”
“Haha! I’m Mr. Washington, son!”
After work that night Doughboy, another bouncer, and another one of DJ’s secret recruits, whipped out an extendable baton and swatted it toward Noodle.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“I use it to hit people. I like to hit people who fight,” The Doughboy said.
“Wow it must get pretty rough upstairs,” Noodle marveled.
“Noodle, you wanna touch my stick?” Doughboy creeped.
“Absolutely not! Put it away dude.”
The third of DJs secret candidates was Captain Angry. He was also an Army recruit; he was planning to go to Officer Candidate School. Once, Angry escorted Mr. Washington through the front door, past Noodle, without paying cover.
“Do you think Angry knows what he’s doing?” Noodle asked The Manager.
“Not really. Everyone wants to be friends with someone hard, Noodle…you know what I mean?”
Noodle didn’t know what The Manager meant; maybe The Manager said that because Noodle hung out with The Orphan. Once, when Noodle had his Uncle’s car, he drove The Orphan to The Pizza Restaurant.
“Ninja, whose car’s this?” The Orphan asked and started riffling through the glove box.
Noodle reached over and slammed it shut. “Knock it off. This isn’t my car, show some respect!”
The Orphan reached over and grabbed a hold of Noodle’s neck.
“Noodle, you gotta pop that collar,” he said and pulled to lift the collar up.
The Orphan wrote down the plate number of The Uncle’s car and handed it off to one of his friends in the police department. If only Noodle, sitting inside eating his meatball sub, had any idea of this situation!
Instead, Noodle was encouraged to continue working at The Majesty.
“Ninja, you’re doing a great job downstairs – you’re a natural!” The Manager praised.
“Do you really think that I’m right for this place?” He worried.
“Honestly Noodle, you’d be good at whatever you do!”
“Then let me work upstairs! Everyone else has more fun than me. Getting a thousand people to pay cover every night is kind-of a drag.”
“Give it a while. You’ll get up there.”
Noodle continued the process to join The Army as a helicopter pilot was long, the final piece Noodle needed was a recommendation from his flight instructor.
“I’ve talked to him about it,” Noodle answered. “He says he keeps forgetting, but I think that he might be stalling. I know he thinks I’m a good pilot, I wonder if his religious views are getting in the way. I know from flying with him that he’s definitely opposed to dropping bombs on other human beings.”
“Keep trying,” The Recruiter answered.
“Did you know that I’m working at a new nightclub called Majesty? It’s right down the street from here and there’s another Army recruit working too named Captain Angry –he says that he knows The Sergeant.”
“I know,” The Recruiter smiled, “That’s okay.”
Noodle kept in shape for boot camp. He ran his neighborhood every morning and exercised at the gym with his friend, The Diplomat, every night.
“How’s Majesty?” The Diplomat asked.
“It’s a fun job. It doesn’t feel like work.”
“You should thank Ms. Should for getting you an interview with The Manager.”
“You’re right, I should thank her! Why don’t you all come out for a night at The Club? We can invite The Journalist too, he’ll love it there.”
So The Diplomat, Ms. Should, The Journalist, and other students from The Diplomat School came out to party.
It wasn’t long before The Journalist returned to Noodle talking a mile a minute.
“Noodle, this place is great. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to get The Publisher and The Rapper and all the Gansta’s in The City who read Crime Magazine…Noodle, did you know that I write for Crime Magazine?”
“Yeah Journalist, I know.”
“Noodle, you’re not listening…I’m gonna get them all together and throw a magazine release party!”
“Journalist, haven’t you already released the magazine?”
“Noodle, you’re not listening to me! We’re going to have a release party and The Rapper will perform and we’ll get cameras and we’ll film the whole thing. It is going down!”
“Journalist you’re a mess right now, did you snort cocaine?”
“But you walked through that door only ten minutes ago, how’d you find the drugs so quickly?”
“I know the streets motherfiucker! I’m down with the brotha’s!”
“Mr. Washington! He’s a salesman…gave me a buy one get one half-price deal!”
Noodle sighed. “Journalist, go back upstairs and find The Diplomat. Stay with him and stay out of trouble. People will hurt you here.”
But temptation at Majesty was too great, soon The Journalist was back in the lobby, blowing lines of cocaine in the open.
“Jesus!” Noodle exclaimed. “It’s not even dark down here, put that away!”
“It’s cool. Stop acting like a Cop, Noodle!”
“I don’t even know you right now. Assistant,” Noodle called to DJ’s secretary. “I don’t even know this guy, so I’m kicking him out! Will you do me a favor and escort him to the front door. I can’t leave my post right now.”
Later that night, Noodle hung out with The Orphan, The Orphan’s father, and Virgin Boy from the club. The Orphan was taking them to their city within The City.
The Orphan’s neighborhood, East Village, was so private that you had to have a keycard to get through the mechanized gate. His neighborhood was so connected that it had its own internationally recognized airport.
“Orphan, this is your neighborhood?”
“Ninja, I told you before, The Gang owns this whole place. One hundred years and still strong!”
If Noodle had lived a different life, he might have made an exceptional criminal.
“Do you know what you could do with that airport?”
“Noodle, I forgot that you’re a pilot!”
“Orphan, you send some guys to Southern Continent and they load their bags with Product. Customs there is poor, and probably on the take, so no one cares about the bags until you come through customs at the airport of entry.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Keep explaining it to me,” The Orphan played.
“When the plane lands, a couple of your friends, The Baggage Handlers, take the bags- make them bright pink Hello Kitty bags so they’re easy to spot- they take the bags and toss them on a separate trolley, where some guy grabs them who has finished his shift. You literally live on the airport, so the bags get to your neighborhood without ever leaving port. The bags go missing, but no one reports it, and no one knows they even existed! You cut the product up here and then it into The City in a Hundred different cars. You can even pay The Traveler through some no-show job, like vice-president of entertainment, right on Majesty’s books!”
“Ninja, I like the way you think, you’re definitely one of US!”
“Nah, I’m not totally like you. I feel guilt and stuff like that. I like you, but your thing is not my thing.”
The Orphan knocked on a secret door and they were whisked into a private, after-hours club. But it wasn’t glamorous, it was dirty and smoky.
“This is Noodle,” The Orphan introduced to everyone there. “He takes tickets at Majesty. If you ever want to get into The Club, this is the guy you gotta know. But be prepared to pay cover…I’m warning you, this kid is a Ninja!”
They ordered rounds of bottled beers, and were joined at their table by a couple of working girls. This afterhours place in East Village is where people gambled at cards. It was a place where you could skip the bathroom and snort lines of cocaine right off the table in front of you. But maybe not everyone wanted to share, because when Noodle went to use the urinal he found that people’s heads were still bent over the same porcelain they’d just pissed in.
Noodle played pool with Virgin Boy, who he’d warned to stay out of trouble before they went in.
“Virgin boy, be smart in there, these people will kill you!”
But it wasn’t long before Virgin Boy was sitting at the bar, befriending a retired Gang Assassin. That’s how life goes: You take all the friends you can get. Have no father? No family? No lover? The Gang will take you in.
“Noodle,” The Orphan called.
“What is it?”
“I want to tell you something. There’s a club in The City where all the Bosses hang out. I had to go there the other night. There’s a guy who hangs out there – I won’t tell you his name – but he’s the guy you gotta see before you kill someone! I went the other night while they were playing poker and I swear to God they almost killed me! That is, until I told them who I was, and who I was with, and then we were best-friends. But it was a one-time deal…I don’t think they’ll ever let me back.”
“That’s fucked up!”
“Noodle,” The Orphan explained, “The whole world’s fucked up!”
Donate then continue reading with Season One Episode Six!