Drink the Giant Orange

February 17, 2019

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I rush into the art museum and within minutes feel thirsty and hot and dizzy. I spot relief in a painting called Giant Orange topped by a tall orange and black sign and staffed by a pretty young lady inside a huge orange ball below.

“Whaddya got to drink?”

She looks at me as if I’m from Mars and says, “Orange juice.”

“Gimme the biggest you’ve got, please.”

She turns to a large counter covered with oranges, surrounded by boxes of more oranges, and cuts several in half before pushing them down onto a protruding glass device and turning them to hollow the oranges into juice collected in a bowl that surrounds the hollowing device. Several minutes later she hands me a huge glass of brilliant juice.

“You guys sure have lots of oranges.”

“We use several thousand a week in the summer,” she says. “That’ll be fifteen cents.”

“Fifteen cents?”

“We can’t sell this for a dime anymore.”

I reach into my right pocket and my left and smile. “I never carry change.”

As she watches I retrieve and open my wallet before explaining, “I usually don’t carry cash, either. Here’s my credit card.”

She examines my plastic promise worth up to ten grand and says, “What’s this?”

Quite an ambitious young lady, probably not even twenty and already working on her comedy routines.

“It’s from the Bank of ____, finest in the land,” I say.

“We don’t take anything like this.”

“All businesses take credit cards.”

“Not this one,” she says.

“You’re joking.”

“I’m not.”

“All right, I’ll go to my bank and get the money.”

“Banks are closed on weekends, sir.”

I show her my debit card.

“Looks just like your other card,” she says.

“You’re putting me on.”

“I told you I’m not.”

I gulp some of my orange juice. “Let me handle this. My bank’s right down the street.”

“There’s nothing within two miles of here.”

I take another swig and say, “Relax, I’ll be right back.”

“You can’t leave without paying.”

“Listen, here’s a cell phone worth six hundred dollars,” I say, activating the marvelous device and handing it to her. “Hold onto this as collateral.”

“What is it?”

“Ma’am, your theatrics amused me at first but no more.”

“I need fifteen cents from your, sir, or I’m calling the police.”

“Go right ahead. The cops’ll love this one.”

She puts my phone on the small counter between us and turns to use a phone that belonged in a film from the forties. “He won’t pay the Giant Orange. Please hurry.”

“I’ll be back with your money before the police arrive.”

I drink some more golden juice and turn not to the museum but a dusty parking lot where a man sits in a big old black sedan with a broad curving back forming the trunk.

“Sir, excuse me. Someone’s stolen my car.”

“Hop in,” he says. “I’ll drive you to the police station.”

Notes: This work is informed by the painting Giant Orange by Dennis Ziemiewski

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for GeorgeThomasClark.com are read in more than 50 countries a month.

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