Not from Concentrate

Not for Concentrate - Satire - Short Stories“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY, I’m not here to discuss vain affairs or frivolous lawsuits. On the contrary, this matter is serious. I’m here to prove to you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that that man, Dan Mofstad, is orange juice. Look at you, Mr. Mofstad, going through your life masquerading as a natural man, when what you should have been confessing was:  ‘orange juice, I am.’

It first occurred to me while we were both studying at college. He was wrestling a fellow student in the commons with many witnesses present when he cut his forearm on a shard of glass. Dan seemed to become flustered. He rushed to a bathroom in mysterious haste. When he came out, ten minutes later, with a dripping orange tourniquet, screaming, “I’m not orange juice. I’m not orange juice. You’re orange juice,” no one put two and two together.

“Except me.

“And, at the conclusion of dinner prayers, when everyone says amen, I’ve heard him whisper, ‘not from concentrate.’ This is all the evidence one needs for a fresh squeez’n—but there’s more. Everyone is aware of vitamin c’s proven ability to keep away the cold. And so it’s no wonder that when Dan leaves a room, the temperature drops—”

“Council,” the judge interrupted, “you may be confused on several, key points.”

“Shut up, Your Honor! HE’S ORANGE JUICE!… Excuse me, eh-hem. If I may proceed, I would like to question the defendant.”

“Proceed, council,” the judge said and raised his eyebrows, “but you are on Orange Slice. No. Wait:  Thin ice.”

“Mr. Mofstad, what was it like for you in high school?”

“Well, OK, I guess. Sometimes I had a hard time fitting in though. There was this one girl I really liked:  Sally McSweetness. I finally got the guts to call her up and ask here out. And she said, Well, I might like to, that is if you weren’t orange juice. And that’s how it’s been going my whole life. People always think I’m orange juice. But I’m not. I’m not orange juice. When I got to College, I thought all that would be behind me.”

“Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. This man—quotation marks—said he’s not orange juice. He said he’s not orange juice! And without a confession, I guess—I mean—I suppose I have no proof to my allegations. Unless,” The council walked to his briefcase. He drew out a red and white straw, almost as big as a walking cane, along with a drinking glass.

The defendant’s attorney spoke out, “Your Honor, I object!”

“No, no,” the judge replied, “I want to see where this is going. Proceed.”

Dan rocked in his whiteness booth. He folded his hands. He mumbled, “Not from concentrate,” under his breath.

“We’ll be the judge of that,” the council stabbed Dan in his chest with the straw, sinking it straight into him.

“Aack!” Dan cried. “The pain.

“Repent! Golden breakfast juice!”

“Never!” Dan shouted. “Never! I’m not orange juice.”

Orange fluid gummed inside the straw near his chest. It sloped down into the glass. The council drank from the glass, “That boy good!”

Dan slumped forward and looked down.

“Now admit it. I want to hear it from your slimy, orange lips. Say it!”

“Alright…alright, I’m…I’m orange juice.”

“I rest my case, Your Honor.” The council leaned in to whisper, “I knew it. I always knew it was you, you son of a… All those times at Denny’s when you said you were fine with just coffee. I knew you were orange juice. And everyone said I was crazy—that even if I found you, I could never prove it. Now, here you are, cornered. And you know what else:  sometimes I drink orange juice at night with a steak dinner, even though we both know that that doesn’t make any damn sense.”

“NO! You can’t—!”

“Yeah, buddy. Suck it. I just thought you might like to know that before we get the best of you.” The council walked from the witness booth and addressed the jury. “I hope you won’t deliberate too long before the fresh squeez’n.”

“But you’re honor,” Dan said, “This is absurd. Fresh squeez’n?”

“Fresh squeez’n,” the council replied, wringing his hands in a fresh squeez’n motion. “Fresh sqeez’n. Fresh squeez’n. No more watery, stale OJ for us. We found you!”

“But Your Honor, I’m a sentient being.”

The judge replied, “Mr. Mofstad, this is a court of law. We don’t have use for your fancy words. I’m afraid your status has been demoted to:  beverage.”

Dan stood, pulled the straw from his chest and walked from the bench, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I was wrong—wrong to think that a breakfast beverage and mankind could live together in peace and in harmony. Maybe I was wrong to think that I could climb down off the branch and snatch a taste of Sally McSweetness all for myself. Maybe I was wrong to think that I could—that I could”—he glanced around—“THAT I COULD LIVE AMONGST YOU! Maybe I should let you drink me. Or maybe… Yoink!”

Dan splashed to the floor in a pool of shimmering liquid.

“Stop him; he’s headed for the door,” the council hollered.

The judge ordered, “Bailiffs, seal those exits. Recorder, read back the last testimony. Jury,”—he pointed sternly— “disregard the transformation of man into citrus libation.” He banged his gavel. “Stop it.” He banged. “Stop! It! Retain every last drop. Don’t let that orange juice get away.”

The recorder leaned forward to scan her thumbs along the tape roll, “Aack…repent… Golden breakfast—golden breakfast—something, something…” She mumbled to herself and looked up, “Yoink!”

She held her breath and bit her lower lip. She quavered:

“Splash?”

Dan seeped toward one of the bailiffs guarding the door. The bailiff pulled out his revolver and fired at the juice. Bubbles fizzed and rose and spurted from the pool, “ORANGE JUICE NO DIE! ORANGE JUICE NO DIE, SECURITY GUARD!

“What are those bubbles saying?” the judge demanded and banged his gavel. “What! Are! Those! Bubbles! Saying!?”

“Ahhh,” the guard fired another shot at the pulpy mess. “The bubbles are talking to me. I wasn’t in on it, Orange Juice. I swear.”

It hissed and spurted up at the guard’s face. “ORANGE JUICE—REVENGE!”

The guard dropped his gun and whaled, rubbing his eyes.

“Uhhh,” the recorder said, “the defendant—now in the form of an escaping liquid—says—it says,” she raised a thin fist in the air, “Revenge!”

“You can’t stop it,” the council hopped around, shaking his hands. “You can only drink it. Drink that orange juice before it gets away, again.”

The guard screamed, running out of the juice—his shoes crackling, sizzling and smoking, “Ahhhhhh! Citric acid! Someone please help me. I got kids.”

More bubbles came up from the pool as Dan passed beneath the crack of the door, “ORANGE JUICE ALWAYS GETS THE LAST LAUGH. LIKE WHEN YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH BEFORE YOU DRINK US.


About davidwallacefleming

David Wallace Fleming is a U.S. writer, living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the coming-of-age, social media novel GROWING UP WIRED, and the satirical science fiction audiobook, NOT FROM CONCENTRATE.
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