What Really Happened?

Entry by: Henry C

11th December 2021
Florida Orange

It was a mean, cold day when I met Vivien Forester. Seems kinda strange now I’m sitting on death row just for trying to sell juice.

I was a long way from Miami. I hadn’t bought a heavy coat because I didn’t realize it snowed in North Dakota in January. I knew diddly-squat about North Dakota other than the fact that orange juice isn’t a must-have in their diets. Two days in Fargo had resulted in zero sales so I tried the next town, a place called Ebson. According to the sign on the highway, it had a population of five thousand seven hundred people.

More importantly for me, it had two supermarkets.

I made my pitch early at the first one, Mackies. I gave them a discount of five cents a carton for every hundred cartons but they only bought two hundred. Wouldn’t get me salesman of the month.

I hit the other one just before lunchtime.

Foresters Mart as I recall, was near empty. The Everley Brothers played over the tannoy, in-between adverts for cornflakes and soap. A few customers walked around like the living dead, picking things up, putting them back. Not a good sign for a salesman hoping to sell cartons of sunshine.

Two women stood behind the counter. One was young, with long red hair, strikingly beautiful but with an air of fragility. She looked bored. Her name tag said, Vivien. The other, older, perhaps early forties, plain looking with a short dark bob-cut. Her gaze was zeroed in on a black lady at the soap aisle. Her name tag said, Martha. I aimed my charm offensive and my most Gable-like smile at her.

“Good afternoon, ladies. Nils Nilsonn's the name and I’m here to sell you the sweetest juice you’ll ever taste in your life…”

Martha piped up. “Boss is away today, but we already have a contract with California Juice.”

The redhead flashed me a smile. She had nice teeth. She had nice everything.

“California Juice is fine but for that sunshine taste of Florida, there’s one drink you should stock and it’s Florida Orange.”

“Like I said, the manager…” Vivien put a soft hand on Martha’s arm.

“Martha, won’t you get a carton of Cornflakes from out-back, I noticed the shelves are a little bare.” she interrupted.

Martha glowered, turned on her heel, and hurried away. Vivien leaned over the counter and twisted a twirl of her red locks around her finger.

“Mr. Nilsonn. Is that Swedish?”

“My parents were…”

“I met the King of Sweden once. Charming man. Some business award thing. I’m sorry about Martha, she’s just the help. Did I tell you, my husband, George is the boss? George Forester. Well, the owner actually.” she giggled. It reminded me of Veronica Lake.

“George does the buying but...oh, I guess it wouldn’t...” she was playing coy and winning.

“I can give you a good discount. Perhaps we could discuss this over coffee?”

“Or dinner,” she said. “My husband’s out of town. I hate dining alone.” She bit her lip and fluttered her eyelashes. I felt I’d been hit by Joe Louis.

“Shall we say seven at Lindy’s? It’s just around the corner…”


I got there early. She was fashionably late. I was on my third Manhattan when she walked in, dressed in an off the shoulder number which highlighted alabaster shoulders and accentuated her perky breasts.

“Do you like the dress? George thinks this dress is slutty.”

“I don’t think you should dress like that.” I growled.

“Oh, what’s wrong with it? “ She looked down.

“I’m not talking about the dress.”

She looked at me and giggled again. It wouldn’t be the last time.


I topped the sales figures that month and the month after that. My boss gave me a raise. They gave me a new company car, a wine red Hilton Hornet. Vivien loved it. It was roomy and held more than cartons of juice

One evening, just after we’d made love on the back seat, she began to weep.

” I wish you were my husband, Nils. George is so mean to me and you’re so kind. I think he really hates me. ”

“Why would that be?”

“He never makes me feel the way you do. He never gives me any money these days either and I know he’s got it. He’s worth a fortune. He’s going to open two more stores next month.”

“I’d sell more juice, then.” I quipped.

“Only if I buy it. He doesn’t like your stuff and California has offered a bigger discount. I hate him. He’s mean and he beats me, too.” She lifted her dress real high to show a dark bruise on her thigh. “I wish he were dead, then we could be together always and I’d be rich. We could move to Miami. What’s it like?”

“Miami? It’s sticky. What do you mean you’d be rich?”

“Well, I get everything of course. He dies, everything comes to me. Just imagine. I wouldn’t have to work in the store and you wouldn’t have to sell juice. We could get married. I love you, Nils. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!”

“Wonderful,” I said, as my hand moved beyond the bruise.


Two years later I'm on Death Row and I’ve an hour to live.

I didn’t hate George Forester even when I crept into his store and put a bullet in his head. A robbery gone wrong, they said. Vivien set it up, then set me up for the fall.

Martha, the drudge I’d seen that first day testified she’d seen me. I never knew why she lied, not until I saw Vivien and her holding hands in court. Double cross? Perhaps. Maybe she’s blackmailing Vivien or maybe they’re lovers. I don’t give a hoot for her chances. Vivien doesn’t play for keeps.

I asked for a beer with my last meal but alcohol wasn’t permitted, so they bought me juice. Orange juice, the Californian kind.

It tasted just fine.