I am a 24” x 36” doormat, and Chris Wallace took my job. Being a doormat isn’t easy, but it’s honest work. Though it may rain and snow here in Cleveland, I keep my bristles clean, my “WELCOME” inscription dyed, and my fiber threads groomed. You can imagine my surprise, when the other night, after a quick smoke break, I rolled back to the apartment entrance to find myself replaced by famous news anchor Chris Wallace. He was wearing a torn suit, stretched out in front of the lobby on his back. I don’t know how he'd managed to make himself two-dimensional.
“Chris,” I said, as a family of five wiped their muddy shoes on his face. “What’re you doing here?”
“Muhuhugh,” he said, before spitting out a piece of dogshit lodged in his mouth. He cleared his throat. “I have given up journalism. It’s time I try something I’m suited for. Something pathetic.”
I tried to ignore his implication: that I was “pathetic.” I had been down on my luck before too. I knew he could use the company, so I slid up next to him. “You’re a respected news anchor, Chris. That interview a couple months back with the prez? One where you said a cognitive test is just IDing an elephant? Took guts.” Even I, a humble doormat, watch the lobby TV from time to time.
“So you didn’t see my performance?” Chris asked in a hopeful voice, his tears leaking onto the dirty concrete.
“No,” I said. You see, that smoke break wasn’t the whole story. There’s a dishrag down on East 4th that gets lonely from time to time. Every Tuesday night Debbie and I take a “smoke break” together. Might just marry that broad one of these days.
“I asked Donald nicely to stop,” Chris said, unaware of my reminiscing. “But he kept interrupting! I thought you were supposed to kill bullies with kindness?”
I rolled my corners. “Brilliant strategy, Mr. Harvard grad.”
Chris let out a yelp of pain. I couldn’t tell if it was from my verbal jab or the stilettoed lady crunching one of his testicles.
“Look,” I said, “when a fella knocks you down, you gotta get back up!”
“My testicles!” wheezed Chris.
“I know what you mean,” I said. Debbie had brought her A-game.
Chris tried to sit up, briefly becoming three-dimensional, only to be bowled over by Spots,Mr. Moscowitz‘s Great Dane from the third floor.
“I’m so sorry!” Mr. Moscowitz began. Then he recognized Chris and his brow furrowed into a furious V. “What the hell was that? You call that being a fair moderator? You let that idiot interrupt, lie, and babble the entire debate!”
Intercepting Mr. Moscowitz’s umbrella mid-poke, I nodded for him to go inside. He finally did, muttering about a “mute button.”
“You must have really shit the bed,” I told Chris.
He sighed, picking up his broken glasses and returning to two-dimensionality. “Daddy would be so disappointed.”
I reached behind a concrete step to retrieve my bottle of bourbon, stashed for emergencies. I poured both of us a glass.
“Look at this city,” I said, pointing to the smoggy skyline reaching up in front of us. “Almost 400,000 people live here. You think all of them watched your program? I'm sure it's not as bad as you–”
“It was a national debate,” Chris said.
“Jesus Christ,” I said. “You are fucked.”
I poured him another glass, leaving just before the Snyders and their eleven grandchildren trampled him.
I rolled across the empty streets of Cleveland, headed for Debbie’s. For once, I wasn’t the saddest invertebrate in town.