Requiem For a Lightweight (With apologies to Rod Serling)



A stark dressing room in the underbelly of the White House, bathed in the dim yellow light of a 25-watt compact fluorescent bulb. The dingy walls are plastered with Shepard Fairey “HOPE” posters. Off stage is heard the cringing, muffled gasps of a stunned arena audience. Suddenly the door bursts open and enters BARACK “BAM BAM” OBAMA, former champion, unconscious on a stretcher carried by his handlers — cut man TWINKLETOES EMANUEL, manager PAPPY AXELROD, SPITBUCKET BEGALA and SPINDOC GREENBURG. His nose is bleeding profusely, his eyes nearly swollen shut, and his forehead is embossed with a reverse “BRUNSWICK” from an errant bowling ball. They are trailed into the room by a pack of concerned sportswriters as they place the stretcher on a stark table.

TWINKLETOES EMANUEL: Alright, alright! Give ’em some air, you mugs!

PAPPY AXELROD: Can you hear me, Champ?

BAM BAM: We would save enough money… uhh… we would… money save… the ones we are looking for…

PAPPY AXELROD (gently slapping Bam Bam’s face): Champ, Champ! Look at me! How many teleprompters am I holding up?

BAM BAM (giggling): Special Olympics… Heckuva job Timmy…

TWINKLETOES EMANUEL: Somebody get me the stimulus salts!

Twinkletoes opens a wallet under Bam Bam’s nose and he groggily regains consciousness

BAM BAM: Whuh… huh… whuhappened?

RED KRUGMAN: Yeah, dat’s what we wanna know! What happened to the kid’s uppercut? C’mon, Pappy, we got a deadline for the morning edition!

BAM BAM: How… duuh… did I do?

SPITBUCKET BEGALA: T.K.O., 13 seconds in the first round. Lucky shot. You’ll get ’em next time champ!

SCOOP KROFT: Champ, champ! Scoop Kroft, Columbia Broadcasting System. Are you punch-drunk?

BAM BAM: heh… hehheh… wheeee!

TWINKLETOES EMANUEL: Put down da notepad, Kroft! You an’ da rest of you scribes! Let the kid come to. Give ’em a chance to clear out da cobwebs.

PAPPY AXELROD: C’mon kid, shake it off. What’s the last thing you remember?

BAM BAM: I… uh… remember getting, uh, fit with the new, uh, silk robe… then the, uh, Ring Magazine cover shoot… duhrrr… I remember people cheering… after that it’s kinda uh, all fuzzy like…

PAPPY AXELROD: You were doing great, champ! You were magnificent in the walk-in. Magnificent! You shoulda seen the crowd go wild, all the way up until you stepped through da ropes.

RED KRUGMAN: That was one helluva tumble you took there, kid! Are you still feeling that concussion?

BAM BAM: Is dat where I got dese rope burns?

SPINDOC GREENBURG (examining Bam Bam’s face): Damn! Dis ain’t no cut, it’s an irrigation ditch! I ain’t got enough styptic to close this thing. Somebody fetch my stitch bag and polling charts.

FRANKIE RICH: Hey, what gives, Axlerod? You told us this kid was a natural. You said he was ready for a title shot. I even said so in my column! Now there’s an arena full of angry jamokes out there hollerin’ for a refund!

RED KRUGMAN: Yeah, I told everybody dis was a sure thing. I put 50 bucks of my own 401k on the kid myself!

PAPPY AXELROD: Aw hell, he just had a bad week. Everybody has bad weeks. He just wasn’t used to fighting without his headgear. You saw him win the Chicago Golden Gloves in ’04, you all saw that unanimous decision over Johnny Arizona.

SCOOP KROFT: That old crippled tomato can? C’mon! If I didn’t know better I’d say the kid took a dive tonight.

PAPPY AXELROD: Dive? C’mon you mugs, you saw it. You saw Bam Bam open up with that flurry of jabs. You saw him connect with that huge left hook haymaker!

RED KRUGMAN: Yeah. We saw it. We also saw him land it square on his own damn glass jaw. How are we supposed to make that look good? Half the dopes in this city lost their entire paychecks wagering on this stumblebum, and now they’re gonna blame us newspaper boys.

TWINKLETOES EMANUEL: Okay boys, here’s how you’re gonna play it. Three column headline, 60 point type: “BAM BAM SCORES FIRST ROUND KAYO. ECONOMY FAILS TO LAND SINGLE BLOW. CHAMP READY FOR NEXT TITLE BOUT.”

SPITBUCKET BEGALA: Yeah yeah! That’s the ticket!

BAM BAM: I like tickets.

TRIXIE DOWD: C’mon Pappy, the only people drunk enough to swallow that line of malarky are the winos down in the Nutroots skid row.

BIFF OLBERMANN: Don’t listen to her, champ! I still believe in you!

TRIXIE DOWD: See what I mean? If we keep printing this stuff our circulation is gonna drop below Newsweek!

TWINKLETOES EMANUEL: Let me remind you that you’ve got as much riding on Bam Bam as me. Do you really want to help him? Here’s how you can help him. Leave him alone. Print the headlines like I told you, and let the Champ train for the next main event.

FRANKIE RICH: I dunno, Twinkletoes. He don’t look so good.

TOMMY FREIDMAN: Yeah, dose are da worst pair of cauliflower ears I ever seen.

BAM BAM (singing): Don’t stop! Be-leeeee-vin’!

TRIXIE DOWD: You sure he’s ready to go up against Max Tehran? I heard he’s kind of a scrapper.

PAPPY AXELROD: You just leave him to us. Bam Bam’s got some new fancy footwork that’ll make Tehran unclench his fist. Guaran-teed! Ain’t that right, Champ?

BAM BAM: I extend my hand like this, right?

RED KRUGMAN: Okay Pappy, we’ll hype his big comeback. But eventually the public is gonna start noticing the bookie odds. C’mon boys, let’s go.

The reporters leave, morosely.

TWINKLETOES EMANUEL: Okay champ, let’s not let a good disaster go to waste. Get a good night’s sleep ’cause tomorrow we start training bright and early.

PAPPY AXELROD: See you at the Oprah studio gym at 5 AM.

The handlers leave.

BAM BAM: (sighs) I coulda been a contender.


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