Darrin cursed as he slammed the brake pedal. He’d been doing that lately, dusting off long unused expressions. Nothing he would let escape in church but well practiced when driving in traffic.
Minutes dragged as the commuter mass approached the downtown core. He searched for a chance to nose over in time to exit.
Four red words on a white billboard caught his darting eyes.
“DO YOU KNOW JESUS?”
Maybe it was suppressed road rage or the stench of exhaust, but that billboard rubbed Darrin the wrong way.
“Seems pretty presumptuous. There’s a lot of different Jesuses around, depends on who you talk to.”
His annoyance nibbled as he drove.
Darrin remembered the Jesus he had met in Sunday school, the friendly type who loved you like a buddy. Those memories blurred when the teenage years hit and Darrin was nagged exhaustively to ponder what Jesus would do. It never chimed with what Darrin would to do and Jesus became a bit of a downer.
He’d quit going to church during college. After exposure to the philosophies of the elite, Darrin grew tired and confused with their elusive, mystical Jesus.
But lately he’d been attending a suburban church. He heard great music and relished the chance to meet some new single, successful women. Darrin thought of the atmosphere there and wondered which Jesus they knew.
The man stood in the waiting room, wringing his hands. A young receptionist snapped her gum and glared.
“Mr. Carlton will be just a few minutes more.”
“That’s fine. I mean, I don’t mind waiting.” He wiped his brow.
The elevator chimed and Darrin stepped out, striding past the man and nodding at the receptionist.
“Awful traffic this morning, Carla.” His office door slammed with gusto.
Carla sniffed delicately and smiled at the waiting man. She checked her manicure, tapped the keyboard and finally turned to the phone.
“Your 9am appointment to see you Mr. Carlton.”
“Of course. Show him in.” The edge in his voice didn’t bode well.
Carla held the door. “Mr. Chris Unbee to see you sir, presenting a pitch for the Produce Department.”
As the door closed, Mr. Unbee shook hands with the infamous Mr. Carlton, Natural Food’s star executive. He was the one to impress with any initiatives - if you had his backing, your proposal was a guaranteed success.
“Thank you for seeing me Mr. Carlton. It’s an honour.”
Darrin waved that aside and leaned back, squinting. “Let’s hear what you’ve got. How can we sell more produce? And don’t mention ‘organic’ or ‘local,’ they’ve been done.”
Chris Unbee gulped before diving in.
“Not organic sir, but unique, custom-made fruit. Picture this. A couple hosts a dinner party in their impeccably decorated home. Everywhere are blue and silver accents - candles, napkins and a large silver bowl as the centrepiece. In that gleaming bowl are these.” Chris presented an 8x10 still life showing a pile of oranges. Except the fruit was a shade of blue slightly darker than a summer sky.
“Custom coloured oranges have endless possibilities. Blue, purple, hot pink, you name it. Green and red for Christmas and pastels for Easter.”
Darrin’s face was unreadable. “How is it done?”
“The fruit’s skin is injected numerous times with a dye, keeping coverage uniform. Preliminary tests suggest that the fruit itself is untouched, which should silence any health advocates.”
“Dye can be extremely unhealthy,” stated Darrin blandly.
“Um, yes, of course you’re right sir. But the consumable portion is untouched and the health benefits should be uncompromised.” Unbee gulped again.
Darrin Carlton presented a well-practiced poker face as he mentally prodded for weak spots and a conclusive direction.
An orange was an orange, even if it wasn’t orange. Did changing the appearance of a product necessarily effect its integrity? Consumers would buy this product for its beauty and as a decor accent. It seemed a potentially profitable idea.
So why was his conscience screeching?
“Mr. Unbee, I know oranges. Loved their sweetness as a kid and their nutritional value as an adult. Oranges have never needed to be anything other than what they were created to be. This would be taking a humble, attractive product and warping it almost beyond recognition. To those who know oranges, the idea is dangerous and obscene. And as I said, I know oranges.”
As Mr. Unbee melted from his office, Darrin glanced out his high-rise window, sharp eyes sighting four red words on a white billboard.
“DO YOU KNOW JESUS?”
Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
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