By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
He called her Darling Farice and My Dear, Dear Sweetheart. He signed himself Your Big Boy Bob. "I want you all the time, morning, noon and night," he purred, "but the evenings when I am not working is when I miss my baby.... How I long for you, day after day. I don't believe, come what may, I could ever stop loving you."
King's dead daughter was a favorite topic. Evans couldn't stay away from the subject, referring to the baby as if it had been his own, binding his lover's loss closely to him: "Listen, dear, do not forget to go to our little one's grave before winter sets in. Will you, dear, and let me know how it looks? We will have it fixed up nice next summer, won't we, dear?
"I can't imagine how you felt the night that you left me at the depot.... I never want to leave you again that way. I will never leave you for a single day and night.... I want to make you so happy for the rest of your days. I send you my life's love."
Evans didn't say much about his work. Eventually, King learned that he hadn't enlisted in the Navy at all. He came back to Denver to do that, giving her some story about having been rejected the first time around. But he pledged his undying love before heading off to the naval station at San Diego. The next day, King received an anonymous letter telling her that she was a fool, that Evans was married and that his wife had taken the train with him to California.
King couldn't believe it. She wrote to Evans, who assured her that the letter was a vicious lie. He begged her to come to San Diego. She went. He didn't meet her at the station. She called him at the training station. He came to her hotel the next day and took her to the beach. The day after that, she waited in her hotel again, but he didn't show.
She sought him out on the docks. She caught him unawares, clutching a letter he was about to mail, addressed to another woman in Denver. He took her back to her hotel, offered various excuses why she couldn't walk him back to his ship. He said he was going to stop by the YMCA. She said farewell, then followed him at a distance. He walked past the YMCA and into another hotel. She discovered that Evans was registered at the hotel. So was a Mrs. Evans.
She went home. She tried to bury herself in work, she told Pinky Wayne, but Evans wouldn't leave her alone. After the war was over, he showed up at her house one day to pick up a trunk he'd left there, acting as if nothing had happened. He told her he was getting a divorce.
"He took me in his arms and said he loved me more than ever," she recalled, "and we began all over again. He said when we married, we'd have a real home with a little one in it to make us happy."
Evans became a frequent visitor at the King house, especially at the dinner hour. Farice's family didn't care for him much, but she hotly defended him against even the mildest criticism. She did his laundry. She turned one of his old shirts into an apron. She kept his picture under her pillow, clipped his name out of the phone book and plastered it in a scrapbook. She saved a toothpick he used.
The wedding was repeatedly postponed. Evans always had reasons. First it was waiting out the divorce from Cecily. Then it was the need to save money. The reasons kept coming, and the months piled into years. In 1922, Evans belatedly tried to extricate himself from the situation, penning a nimble kiss-off letter:
"There is no use for this to continue longer. Not that I think any less of you, Farice.... The fact is, I have made up my mind that I am better off as I am and will never marry again.... I would like to call just as a friend of the family, if I can be considered such. But I do not wish to cause you to have any false hopes."
For a few weeks, Evans continued to call, and King continued to hold out hope. From her diary of August 10, 1922: "Your visit was wonderful, dear, and I'm happy tonight. I think the door opened just a little. You seemed your old self again."
August 1923: "It has been one long year since that wonderful night you came back to me. You held me in your arms again. Now you are away."
Far away, yet so close. One day she attempted to phone him and found out that he'd moved to north Denver. She checked the city directory and discovered that there was a woman living at that address, too: Mrs. Lillian Evans. The man who'd told her he would never marry again had changed his mind, settling on a bride he'd been courting for five years.