SECAUCUS, NJ - The sudden and unexpected close-out of FiveMinute.net's TOS subsite has caught everyone off-guard -- not least brothers Melvin and Sid Smiley, co-owners of the popular parody franchise for the last 17 years.
"We got a call from our supplier in Florida," said Melvin, who works with his brother out of a small second-floor office over Mitzi's Bakery in Secaucus, New Jersey. "He said, 'No more fivers for you. You're done.'
"We were devastated," Melvin added, shaking his head slightly. "We never, ever thought this day would come."
"I was in Mitzi's downstairs, picking out my morning bagel," Sid said. "Mel came down the stairs all hunched over like he'd just heard someone bludgeoned Woody Woodpecker to death. Just looking at him I knew my whole life was about to change."
After accepting Mitzi's condolences, the Smileys reluctantly turned to the sober topic of liquidation.
"We got a whole warehouse full of TOS fiver innards," Sid said, his eyes wide. "Motifs, running gags, funny voices, the whole lot. What are we supposed to do with all that?"
The brothers quickly arranged to rent a local storefront for a last-ditch, everything-must-go blowout sale. They filled table after table with containers full of TOS fiver widgets and the odd cross-over item.
"We had a few consignments of TNG stuff that got shipped to us accidentally," Melvin said. "A skinny kid from up north came by and snapped 'em up. Dark glasses, like he didn't want to be recognized. But I knew who it was," he added, touching his nose with his finger. "It was that Topher Grace from that seventies show on TV, what's it called? Anyway, he cleaned us out of the TNG stuff. But the TOS stuff? Wouldn't touch it."
A recent visit to the storefront revealed most of the bins were still brimming with unsold, slowly moldering merchandise.
"Look here," said Sid, rooting through one of the bins. "You got your premium Kirk/Spock slash jokes. Your tribble jokes. Some wacky 'I'm-a-doctor-not-a' variations. And here, look at this. A three-part Uhura hailing frequencies gag. You plug that into your fiver, and you're almost done! All this stuff is great," he went on, moving to another bin. "Here, check this out. This bin is all redshirts -- 16 different flavors of GAK available. You can't write fivers without redshirt jokes."
"We even got movie stuff," he added. "This bin is full of KHAAAAAAAN!s. Millions of uses. Sold four just the other day."
The brothers suggested that events at the TOS franchise had the other fiver franchises running scared.
"I got a call from Paula McCrimmon-Tootsey yesterday," Melvin said sadly. "She's been running Five-Minute TNG for nearly 40 years, and all by herself ever since her husband Orlando passed away. She's in a state. She thinks she's next! I told her she had nothing to worry about, but I don't think she believed me."
"She said she's thinking of hiding The Outrageous Okona," Sid added. "Just to make sure she's never closed out. She's got a spot in the back of her store where no one will ever track it down and five it."
The brothers said that the owners of all the Trek franchises have called as well, expressing concern. All their suppliers have been incommunicado, engaged in planning some secret weeklong event.
"The showgirl triplets who bought Five-Minute DS9 at auction a couple years ago are especially worried, because they've got one guy who's writing like 10 fivers a day," Sid explained. "I told them they should just rub him out, but they were kinda put off by that."
"I even got a call from Errol Gummidgey, the guy who owns Five-Minute Doctor Who!" Melvin said incredulously. "He was all worried. I laughed at him. His supplier still has, what, Sid, like 800 fivers to do? And their show's still on the air. I practically hung up on him, but he promised to take some of the Spock stuff off my hands. Hey, whatever works."
The brothers sat quietly near the front of their temporary shop, idly watching a three-armed man with orange skin sift slowly through a container marked "TOS SPIN-OFFS AND SUNDRY MISLABELED ITEMS."
"There are worse things that could happen," Melvin said philosophically. "And we got some leads. We got a call in from some guy, said he was affiliated with something called, I dunno, Boston something. Wanted to buy all our Kirk stuff. So, maybe we'll come out ahead after all."