CHURCH, The Television Show
“What are you working on?” The Roommate asked while Noodle sat at the kitchen table editing a three inch thick stack of papers.
“I’ve been working on this for three weeks.”
“Yeah, but what is it?”
“It’s like a paper,” Noodle responded. He didn’t want anyone at The Club to know he’d written a book about firefighting. He was sure they’d find a way of using it to tear something down. The Gang had shed so much blood that the sun no longer shined for them; their last remaining pleasure was to drag people with them.
“What are you in college or something?” The Boyfriend asked.
“I guess you could say that,” Noodle deflected.
“Where?” The Boyfriend pressed.
“Well, I do most of the work on my computer.”
“So you’re in online college?”
“I guess you could say that,” Noodle said and headed to MetroNorth Main Streets.
“I know I haven’t been around for the last couple of months, I’ve been busy with a project. I’m going to put it away until we have this restaurant owner network assembled, but that will be my last parade as business engagement chair.”
“Where are you going?” The Director asked.
“I’m going into the woods,” he answered. It was the best explanation Noodle could come up with to describe how consumed he’d be. It was a metaphor.
“Are you still going to work at The Club?”
“Yeah, working at The Club is mindless. You should call The Networker from the Small Business Group and make sure he wants to take over after I’m gone,” Noodle said and left for work.
After he’d gone, The Director reached out to his replacement; The Networker.
“Noodle said that he’s going to start organizing all of the restaurant owners in the neighborhood, but then he’s going away to work on another project. Because of your experience in the industry I love it if you’d head the group.”
“I can do that,” The Networker answered then hung up to call The Italian.
“We’re in!” He exclaimed. “This neighborhood organization is the last piece we need to regain control of MetroNorth! We have the real-estate, we have the politic, and now your guy Noodle is going to hand us the restaurants.”
“Good work,” The Italian congratulated.
“We can finally retake Cold Hill from The Irishman. And Seamus McCafferty thinks he’s running the show,” The Networker laughed. “He can’t run the streets from hiding! You have to be on The Street to do business!”
“How’d you get Noodle to give up control?”
“I don’t know, I heard from the girl who runs the place that he’s going into the woods.”
“What does that mean? He’s going camping?”
“She made it sound like he was going to live in the woods.”
“I haven’t heard a word about that at The Club.”
“That’s the information I got. But who cares about Noodle Church? Let him go live in the woods. Pop out the champagne, we’re retaking Cold Hill!”
The Italian didn’t celebrate; not only was he unable to experience joy, but uncertainty made him nervous. He went to his shed to call The Prince while mixing a quart of antifreeze into some dog food. He was a real multi-tasker.
“Son, what have you heard from The Barracuda about Noodle?”
“That he hasn’t been showing up for work.”
“Do you know where he’s been?”
“Word on the street is that he’s writing a book.”
“Find out what this book’s about, I want to know if it’s about US. And find out where he’s going, I want to be able to find him. I want know everyone he meets with,” The Italian finished and went to the garden bordering his neighbor’s property to drop the food he’d concocted.
“Where have you been?” The Italian’s wife asked when he returned.
“Fertilizing my garden. There are three keys to cultivation: Fertilization, water, and pest control. Plenty of pest control,” he muttered.
When Noodle got to work, he went into the kitchen to punch his time-card.
“Church Army, Church Army,” Mr. Made-in-Taiwan exclaimed.
“Why are you calling me that?” Noodle asked.
“That’s your name, Church Army.”
“That’s what my friends used to call me in Desert City, but I haven’t heard that name for a while. What do you know about Desert City?” Noodle asked. But Mr. Made-in-Taiwan would only answer ‘Church Army, Church Army,’ so Noodle left the room.
The Manager finally tracked down The Barracuda to collect the ten thousand dollars he was ordered him to pay for Seamus McCafferty to take care of the problem he’d caused by selling Noodle out to The Gang in Southern City.
“Do you have the money you owe?” The Manager asked.
“The Italian’s not going to make me pay. Noodle’s in The Army and I’m about to prove it.”
“You’re wrong. Noodle was never in The Army…get the money,” The Manager said and walked away.
“Who’s Her Majesty’s Noodle?” The Barracuda asked The Dancer Pimp after checking his smart phone. “I got a friend request.”
“It’s Noodle,” The Dancer Pimp responded.
“Isn’t that ironic?”
“That The Gang from Southern City is coming up to kill him, and he’s hiding behind a black baby. Do you think he knows?”
“If he knew, I don’t think he’d still be here!”
“Unless he’s a Narc and this whole thing’s a set-up. I just can’t figure out who he’s Narc-ing to.”
“The Frenchman thinks he’s Interpol!”
“You know…International police.”
“I wonder what The Frenchman is up to that he’s worried about Interpol! Who do you think Noodle’s working for?” The Barracuda asked.
“I don’t think he’s working for anybody, he’s just a yuppie,” The Dancer Pimp answered.
“Well, I’d hate to pay to save a yuppie! What do you make of this post on his PeopleFace, ‘Come get what I’m pushing?'”
“I think it’s just the lyrics from a concert we had here the other night.”
“Wouldn’t that be a riot if Noodle’s selling drugs from the stage without passing anything up.”
“He has too much integrity.”
“He’s a tourist! Haven’t you seen that movie?”
“This guy goes into a cartel and plays stupid the whole time, I mean absolutely stupid. And he wins.”
“I think Noodle’s actually stupid.”
“He’s a tourist! I’m not going to let this end the way that movie did. He’s dealing from the stage, and I’m going to catch him in the act!”
“Come on ‘Cuda, movies aren’t real.”
“Here’s what were going to do; I’m going to post a bar-back on the balcony to watch Noodle every night he’s here. I’m sure we’ll catch him doing something, and then The Italian will let the hit go forward and we can wash our hands of this yuppie once and for all.”
When the night was over The Barracuda pulled Noodle aside.
“Is that you who sent me a friend request, hiding behind a picture of the little black boy?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“I thought it was some kind of charity drive! What’s that little boy’s name?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Here’s what I want you to do: By next Saturday I want you to come back to me with a name for that boy.”
Noodle started to say that he wasn’t going to do that, but The Barracuda walked away.
The Manager called the Spook.
“They’re onto Noodle.”
“Yeah, but does Noodle know?”
“I don’t think so. That kid is oblivious.”
“They’re going to kill him.”
“Don’t worry, we’re gonna take care of that.”
“They’ll destroy him. They’ll go after everything he loves.”
“We have it covered.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, The LucyClub is going to work with The Fire Chief and Mehca and Naval Intelligence is going to look after his girlfriend. We’ll have the entire civilian anti-terror force watching Noodle.”
“Don’t you realize The Italian knows everybody? He’s going to find out.”
“Don’t worry; we’re going to lie to everybody. If no one knows the truth, then nothing can leak! Do me a favor, play VirginBoy and Doughboy to keep The Italian guessing.”
Meanwhile, The Barracuda called The Italian.
“I still believe Noodle’s undercover,” he said.
“I’m starting to get that impression too.”
“You’re proof is on the way,” The Barracuda said then hung up the phone.
The Italian went outside to tend to his garden. The fertilizer he put down was gone, and so were the buds to his rose bushes.
His neighbor ran over. “Mr. Italian, I am so sorry. It appears that our dog has eaten your plants!”
“That’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” The Italian breezed.
“I insist that you let me pay to replace those bushes,” his neighbor begged.
“Come on, we’re neighbors,” The Italian threw up his hands. “It’s water under the bridge.”
“Oh-my-god. You are such a kind soul!” His neighbor relaxed and smiled, “I was so afraid to confront you with the news.”
“It’s fine! These things happen.” The Italian said.
The neighbor’s dog died two days later. The owner told The Veterinarian about the roses. The Vet insisted the animal perished from antifreeze poisoning. Neither had any idea that the animal had been murdered.