Down into the Zero

(Blogger's note: Due to temporary and perhaps permanent creative bankruptcy, I turn now to the Old Files for whatever content I can squeeze from them. Please, no complaints, as you were warned about this some time ago.)

Wendell and Doris drove toward East Whippany. It was going to be a super weekend of fun which might or might not include eating in a restaurant--the kind advertised on television and in newspapers.

“Hey, remind me,” Wendell said, “we should stop in Oatesville and shop for jeans at this great bargain store, Gabe’s Warehouse.”

“Do we have to stop for that?” Doris asked, daydreaming of restaurants and the food she believed them to contain. “You can get that stuff anytime.”

“You can’t get jeans for seven dollars in Beebs Gulch,” Wendell noted.

Doris frowned. “You can get jeans at the Games Warehouse?”

“Games Warehouse?”

“Yes, you said Games Warehouse.”

Wendell clarified. “No, I said ‘Gabe’s Warehouse’.”

“Games Warehouse?” Doris asked, puzzled.

“No, Gabe’s Warehouse.”

“That’s what I said.”

“No, Gabe’s Warehouse.” This time Wendell overpronounced the B.

“You sound like you’re saying Games Warehouse,” Doris said.

Wendell shook his head, frustrated. “I’m saying Gaaaaaaaabbbbbbbbe’s Warehouse!” he said. “Buh! Buh! Buh!”

“You keep saying that!” Doris said. “Games Warehouse!”

“B! B! B!” Wendell shouted. “The second letter of the alphabet is what you’re hearing!”

They drove in silence for a while. They passed some trees.

“Games Warehouse?” Doris asked, very confused. “Say it again.”

Wendell slammed on the brakes and pulled over on the shoulder. He got out of the car and walked over to a road sign that read SPEED LIMIT 55. He pointed at the M over and over again. Doris stared out the window at him.

“This is NOT the letter I am saying when I speak of the topic at hand!” Wendell shouted over the noise of passing traffic. “Imagine this as a B!”

"You're pointing at the T!" Doris yelled back.

Wendell saw that his finger was, in fact, a bit wayward and he corrected this. "NOW look at what I'm pointing at!"

“But it sounds like an M!” Doris protested. “As in ‘Games Warehouse’!”

Wendell got back in the car and they drove on in silence. He just didn’t even feel like talking to Doris anymore.

They passed a business on the side of the road. It was called THE GAMES WAREHOUSE. Wendell pulled into the parking lot.

“What are you doing?” Doris asked.

“I want to check this place out,” he said.

“But this isn’t the place,” Doris said. “Is it?”

“NO!” Wendell yelled. “The place I want to stop is called GABE’S Warehouse!”

“Then why are we stopping here?” Doris wanted to know.

“It’s unrelated! I happened to see it, okay?!”

“Okay!” Doris said. “No need for a hissy fit!”

Doris waited in the car. Wendell came out ten minutes later with Deluxe Stratego under his arm, which some game enthusiasts claim is twice the Stratego that Stratego ever was.

“There, did that kill you?” he asked Doris crossly.

She didn’t answer. They drove on.

They passed another business on the side of the road. It was called GABE’S WAREHOUSE. Wendell drove right past it. Doris held her silence for as long as she could, but then turned to a stone-faced Wendell out of a nagging curiosity.

“Why are you going pa--”


Wendell pulled over again. He looked at Doris tenderly and recalled how beautiful she had looked when he first saw her at Battlestar Galacticatoberfest.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry I got angry.”

“It’s all right,” Doris said grumpily.

They drove on. Two hours later Wendell slapped his forehead.

“I think that was Gabe’s Warehouse,” he said.

“Of course it was the Games Warehouse, assface!” Doris said furiously. “You’ve got the Deluxe Stratego receipt to prove it!”

For these two young lovers, marriage seemed a dubious idea at best.