CHURCH, The Television Show
Noodle readied for work. He dressed in his blue shirt, gold tie, grey vest, and blue sport coat, then sat on his porch with a cigarette. The Tenant, who lived below, came outside to join him.
“How’s it going at Majesty?” He asked.
“Good…it’s nuts there sometimes…there are so many people.”
“Noodle, I’ve worked as a bartender for a long time,” The Tenant said. “Believe me, you’re at the pinnacle of The Industry.”
“I guess, but eleven bucks an hour doesn’t feel like the pinnacle of anything. I think I’d rather be a bartender at a restaurant. Making a thousand people pay cover in two hours is hard!”
“Noodle, take my advice, join the Army!”
“I’m trying to! I need to call my former flight instructor and ask for his recommendation again,” Noodle said while slipping a surplus flight suit over his dress suit.
He popped a helmet atop his head, started his bike, and rode to The Club like a maniac.
“Hey, Noodle,” The Casting Agent greeted.
“Um, Hello. Welcome to Majesty. Should I know who you are?”
“I’m The Casting Agent! I like your look. Here’s my card if you want to send me a headshot.”
Noodle was embarrassed. “I’ll think about it, but I’m not that good-looking! I have a face for the Army,” he smiled. Noodle was ready for war.
A second time that night, a pretty girl who he’d never before met stopped in front of him and called his name. “Hey Noodle. Can I come in? I’m here to see The Marketer.”
“You’re friends with The Marketer?” Noodle confirmed. “Any friend of his is a friend of mine, you can definitely go right up to see him,” Noodle smiled. “Don’t tell him this, but I had a dream about him last night. We were riding dirt bikes around the block, and as we were speeding toward The Majesty I dumped my bike and rolled onto the ground. The Marketer stopped next to me and said, ‘Noodle, it’s okay to fall, just remember to get right back up!”
“You’re adorable Noodle.”
“Just don’t tell him, okay?”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell him.”
After work, Noodle stayed late to speak with The Manager.
“What’s up Noodle, you’re a star!”
“But I can’t figure out why. Remember how I told you that I volunteer atMetroNorth Main Streets?”
“Yeah, what is that all about? Why do you do it?”
“What do you mean why? I don’t know. My neighborhood is depressed. The Federal Government screwed the neighborhood up in the sixties by encasing it with highways. You can’t even cross to the other side of the street without walking under an interstate, or across ten lanes of traffic! It used to be an awesome neighborhood with a movie theatre and restaurants, but now everything’s closed because no one can walk there. Our organization’s goal is to revitalize the awesome downtown area that the Feds broke. We’re having a fundraiser, so I need to take the night off.”
“Okay, no problem Ninja.”
At the fundraiser, everyone from the neighborhood was asking Noodle what he’s been up to, and when he’d be shipping off to The Army.
“As soon as I get one more recommendation,” Noodle said. “But until then,I’m working at a new nightclub, The Majesty, to pay my bills.”
“You’re working at Majesty? You know that’s the old Roxbury, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that.”
“I grew up with The Italian over in Old Town. Back in our day, they had insane raves. I know those guys…let me know if they give you any trouble.”
“I don’t think The Italian even knows who I am.”
On Noodle’s next shift at The Club, a new assistant helped him make sure that everyone paid cover. Her name was The Niece, and she drove Noodle crazy!
“Can I take your ticket?” The Niece would ask a customer. Then she’d turn to Noodle, say “Here’s their ticket,” and place it in his hand. The Niece did this one by one, over and over and over again.
“Niece,” Noodle tried to explain for the last time. “If you want to take tickets that’s fine, but you have to hold on to them. Please stop handing them to me one by one!”
“Don’t you know who my Uncle is? My Uncle DJ runs this place. He’s your boss!”
Noodle lost his cool. “It’s called nepotism. Niece, do you even know what that means? I’ll tell you what it does not mean. It doesn’t mean that you are good at your job! I can’t believe you get paid more than me.”
“Oh Noodle, you’re in love with me!”
Noodle wanted to wrap his hands around her little neck. He couldn’t take her stress any longer.
“Supervisor, this is killing me! I’m going nuts. The Niece is making my job twice as hard!”
“Noodle, that’s DJ’s Niece you’re talking about.”
“At this point, I wouldn’t care if she were The Italian’s Niece. Supervisor, I click the counter, I take the tickets, and I stamp people. That’s three things I have to juggle between two hands, plus radio calls. And now I have her standing next to me, reaching in front of traffic, handing me one ticket every time someone walks by. Supervisor, I don’t have four hands!”
“Noodle,” The Supervisor laughed. “Just take a deep breath. I’ll go get you something to drink, it’ll help you relax.”
“Supervisor, I don’t drink. I could use a cigarette though.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that you don’t drink, what’s with that? You’re like The Manager, he doesn’t drink either. But you can’t go smoke right now because I need you to take the tickets.”
“What about The Niece?”
“Noodle, I can’t leave her down here alone.”
Noodle turned to stop a customer trying to come in without a ticket.
“I’m VIP,” The Customer said and kept walking. “Our friends are upstairs, they just paid two thousand dollars for a table!”
“Sir, you need to wait here while I call The Hostess to seat you.”
Noodle radioed The Hostess, and when she arrived an argument ensued. “I can’t let you in for free, that table’s already full,” she explained.
“Fuck you!” The Customer yelled.
“What did you just say to her?” Noodle fumed. “You need to apologize, and you need to go pay cover.
“Then fuck you too!” The customer replied.
“Unacceptable! I’m not going to let you into the club. You need to go back outside.”
That’s when The Barracuda came downstairs. “What seems to be the problem?” He asked.
“This guy just said FU to The Hostess. He needs to leave.”
“Oh my God,” The Customer backpedaled in The Barracuda’s presence, “I was just saying fuck-you to my friend here because she had the wrong information. I’m so sorry for the misunderstanding. We’ll just go and pay the cover charge. I’m so sorry.”
“Well, what do you want to do Noodle?” The Barracuda asked. “I’ll let it be your call.”
“That’s fine. He apologized. Let him stay.”
“Noodle, would you like to join me for a cigarette?” The Barracuda asked.
“Yes! I’m dying for a cigarette. It’s been a long night.”
“You know, I would have gone along with whatever you said back there, if you wanted to kick The Customer out…”
“No, he apologized. That’s all he needed to do.”
“Because Noodle,” The Barracuda continued, “the bottom line is that WE always stick together. Got it?”
“Got it ‘Cuda.”
When their shift ended, security gathered for a meeting. Nearby, The Manager had pulled two under-aged cocktail waitresses aside.
“But the question is, were you drinking?!” He yelled.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” one of the girls answered.
“Why am I hearing that people saw you behind coat-check, drinking?”
“I don’t know. We were just back there because we didn’t have any tables to serve.”
“Were. You. Drinking!” He yelled again. “I’m going to ask you one more fucking time and you are going to fucking lie to me. Were you drinking while on shift?” He was screaming so loud that his voice echoed throughout the club.
“But Manager, this is my job!” She cried.
“Fuck you! Get the fuck out of here. Fucking leave now, get out of my fucking sight!” He commanded.
That was the only time, before or after, that Noodle ever heard The Manager swear.
“Wow that was intense. I’m glad I don’t drink,” Noodle said to Doughboy.
“Whatever. Shit happens. Tonight, I punched a kid in the nuts.”
“Dough Boy,” Noodle responded, “listen to me: There’s something seriously wrong with you!”
Once everyone had left, The Barracuda met with The Prince.
“How’d we do?” The Prince asked.
“Awesome. We’re making So–Much–Money! Even more than before as The Roxbury. I’m glad The Ambulance Driver told on US. I mean look, we took in one-hundred-and-fifty thousand dollars on bottle service alone. Once all the receipts add up from the bars and cover-charge, I think we’re looking at a cool quarter million tonight!”
“The Ambulance Driver,” The Prince choked. “He’s dead, fuck’m.”
“Speaking of him,” The Barracuda continued, “how did he know that those overdoses were coming from us? I mean, our whole skittle business got shut down because of that. We can’t have anything to do with that product right now. And it’s really depressing our guys on the street from East Village to North Coast.”
“Well, we were paying him to sit there.”
“Yeah. But how did he know that WE were paying him? How did he know that it was US? It could have been any of the clubs around here.”
“Patsy must have told him,” The Prince shrugged.
“That’s right. Because Patsy couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Because Patsy had to be the guy’s friend.”
“But his actions affected our Enterprise from Mountain State all the way down to Costal State. You know what,” The Barracuda pushed, “Patsy was a great guy and he was clearly a wonderful, trusted employee. Now that we’ve re-opened, let’s invite him back to The Club and show him the time of his life!”
“Great idea. But don’t tell my father!”
“I’ll set him up with a private table for Saturday night. It’s our busiest night. We’ll have all of Sunday to clean up after the mess.”
During concerts, Noodle stood guard of the performers’ dressing room. Unfortunately, no one famous played The Majesty, and no girls threw themselves at him to get backstage. Not a lot of people showed up for the mediocre concerts at all.
But on Saturday night his attendance count was growing past 1,000…1045….1084…and it kept going higher. The sign at the front door stated capacity was 845. But DJ controlled the entrance, and for all Noodle knew, two hundred people had already left for the night. Stuck downstairs, Noodle never really saw just how busy it got inside. But when his count hit 1,245, Noodle pulled The Supervisor aside.
“You might want to take a look at this number,” Noodle said.
“That’s fine,” The Supervisor said. ‘That’s fine’ was pretty much all The Supervisor ever said.
“It’s fine. I’ll get you another clicker. Just keep clicking the new one until the difference between the two is one thousand. We’ll call the second clicker the ‘exit count’ and say that’s how many people have left. So, right now, just click it up to three hundred and click them both every time someone comes in. Get it?”
“Got it,” Noodle said.
That night Noodle’s count topped 1,445. It must have been packed inside, which was just what The Barracuda needed to execute his plan.
Patsy was comfortably seated at his own private table, enjoying free liquor and the company of a dozen Asian escorts.
The Showman walked up to Patsy’s table. He poured himself a drink from Patsy’s private bottle. A fight ensued. There was a lot of yelling, and some pushing.
“Do you know who the fuck I am? I’m The Patsy,” he threatened.
“I don’t give a fuck who you are,” The Showman said and pushed The Patsy back, over the table. Cups and liquor went flying. Security swarmed the scene.
Then, just to make sure that everyone heard, The Showman shouted, “I’m going to kill you!” And he lunged at The Patsy.
Security tackled The Showman while The Manager, The Supervisor, and The Orphan ran over.
“What the fuck is going on in my club!” The Barracuda played.
“This guy is starting fights and pushing people,” The Supervisor reported about The Showman, who he held pinned to the ground.
“Terrible, just terrible,” The Barracuda said. “Have someone take these lovely young ladies to the kitchen so they can get cleaned up. And take whoever started this fight, that guy you have on the ground, out back and teach him a lesson.”
That was The Orphan’s cue to jump in. “He’s a friend of mine,” The Orphan said. “Let me take care of him.”
“Orphan, I don’t care if he’s a friend of yours or not. No one fucks with The Patsy. Carry this punk out of the club if you have to…get him out of my sight!”
So, while The Supervisor and The Manager took the girls to the kitchen to wash off, The Orphan pushed his friend down the stairs and out the front door.
“Jesus dude, what are you doing?! I don’t even know you!” The Orphan said in passing Noodle.
The Barracuda made sure The Patsy was repaid for the misunderstanding. “I’m really sorry about all of this, let me get you another bottle of liquor,” he said to Patsy, then left him alone.
The Orphan then ran back inside, climbed a staircase inside of The Hotel, and entered The Majesty through one of the corner fire exits. He snuck up on Patsy from behind, grabbed the porcelain knife that hung around his neck, and stabbed him fourteen times. Blood, thinned by shots of liquor, flowed from The Patsy’s body like water.
“What the fuck happened?!” The Supervisor panicked when he came back over.
“I don’t know,” The Orphan answered. “I kicked my friend out the front door and when I came back upstairs this guy was just laying here, bleeding. Get me some towels; he’s fucking bleeding all over me!”
The Manager and The Barracuda came running. “What happened now?” The Barracuda asked in his actor’s voice. “I turn my back for one second, one second…”
“Orphan, did you definitely kick that kid out?”
“I threw him out. Ask anyone at the front door. I was just down there with The Creep telling him what happened and not to let that kid back in. There’s no way they let him back inside.”
“Who did this to you?” The Supervisor asked Patsy.
“I don’t know,” The Patsy whispered. And then his eyes rolled up into the back of his head.
“Well, he can’t bleed out here!” The Barracuda instructed, “Bring him downstairs to the kitchen and see if you can stop the bleeding while I run to call 911.”
But he never did.
In the kitchen, The Supervisor taped huge bandages around The Patsy’s fourteen stab wounds.
“Oh my god, this shit is getting real!” The Quitter exclaimed while blood poured through The Patsy’s bandages.
“Supervisor, this guy’s going to die before that ambulance even arrives. We gotta save his life. Put him in the wheel chair and bring him downstairs. I’ll carry him across the street to the hospital myself if I have to,” The Orphan said.
So they threw a bar shirt over The Patsy, and The Orphan ran with the wheel chair across the street.
“Do you know why this happened?” The Orphan asked on their way over.
The Patsy was losing consciousness, there was no way he could answer.
“This happened because you’re a fucking Rat. You told The Ambulance Driver where you worked. Now, we’ve shown you compassion, we’ve spared your life, so here is a word of advice – you were NOT at Majesty tonight. Got it? You got stabbed on the street. Got it? Because if you rat again, I’m going to fucking kill you, your wife, your whole god-damned family!”
The Orphan pushed the wheelchair through the hospital’s sliding door and ran to hide-out.
It would have been the perfect murder; everybody in The Club had an alibi when The Patsy got stabbed. But he was alive for a reason, that’s what The Boss had ordered. Things get too messy when the FBI is involved, even for the NSA.
Most of the employees had no idea anything ever happened. At most they saw a fight. Noodle didn’t even know there had been a fight; he’d been stuck in the lobby all night.
After the last customer left, Noodle stood picking up the littered admission tickets. That’s when three uniformed City Police came in through the front door.
City Police inside The Club were an uncomfortable sight.
“We’re closed guys,” Noodle pushed.
“Come upstairs with us. Everyone is coming upstairs with us,” one of the officers dictated.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re all going to have a little chat,” the other officer said.
When Noodle got upstairs most of the employees were already corralled on the dance floor, and there was yellow crime scene tape all around Patsy’s table.
“This is a murder investigation,” The Detective announced. “This guy died on the operating table. The doctors have revived him, but we’re not sure if he’s going to make it through the night. So, until then, this is a m-u-r-d-e-r investigation. That means we’ll have your full cooperation.”
The Sergeant walked toward the kitchen. He was going to write down all the names on the employee time-cards to cross reference with the employee’s statements.
But, if he did that, he’d also have a list of The Gang’s no-shows and aliases. He’d have a list of everybody in The Italian’s Gang who got paid for their crime on The Majesty’s books.
Not even The NSA liked police detection.
“You don’t have to waste your time writing down all of those names,” The Manager ran over. “We can just go into my office and I can print you tonight’s employee schedule.”
“Oh, that would be great!” The officer said, mistaking The Manager’s manipulation as a gesture of kindness.
Past four in the morning, when The Police had finally left, management held a staff meeting. The Barracuda stood talking with The Manager and The Supervisor, while everyone else gathered around.
“Why were the cops here? Our friend must be talking to The Police,” The Barracuda mumbled.
“No. He’s not. It’s probably those escorts he was with,” The Manager replied.
“Listen up guys,” The Supervisor announced. “The cops,” he cringed, “are probably going to contact you to fill out a statement about what happened tonight. Look, you don’t know anything. Fucking lie if you have to. We pay you to protect The Club.”
The Manager turned and whispered to DJ. “By the time these kids figure out what just happened…it’s going to be too late!”
Luckily for Noodle, he didn’t work inside the club. Luckily for Noodle, he was downstairs the whole night. Luckily for Noodle he didn’t have to lie, the cops didn’t even ask him for a statement.
At 4:30 a.m., The Orphan returned. “Noodle, have you ever washed your hands with blood?”
Noodle didn’t know if he had ever washed his hands with blood, Noodle didn’t know what that meant.
“I’m done with this shit. I’m out,” The Orphan said and left the club. He was never seen again.
In fact, most of the security team working that night disappeared. A few quit, and the rest were fired, one by one by one.
To keep them quiet about the Gang hit, the ones who quit had their lives torn apart. They were given bad drugs to make them sick. They were run down in the street to make them scared. Their girl-friends were stolen in the night, just to make them cry.
These kids were stomped on by The Gang until they’d forgotten everything they’d ever known; until they’d forgotten the truth. The ones who quit were literally mobbed until they were hanging onto life by a thread, living on the street, left for dead.
Luckily for Noodle, he got to keep working there because he was downstairs all night! In fact, DJ’s unwitting recruits suddenly had seniority over an entirely new security staff just two months after opening.
For a while, all those suits with big bellies disappeared, and The Club almost felt like a regular place where people came to listen to music and just have fun.
In an instant, everything again felt ordinary.
Donate then continue reading with Season Two Episode One!