Category Archives: Evelyn Johnson

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 21: The Happiest Day of My LifePart 3: The Happiest Day of My Life

The Evelynson Foundation had been a quiet success, and, over the years, the hastily-converted family home became too small to house and support the many children, orphaned later in life, who eventually found their way there. Faced with increasing demand and decreasing resources, Evelyn started calling in favours.

Even the children who hadn’t moved in following the wedding had grown up in close contact with Evelyn – initially brought along by harassed carers after repeated demands to “see the nice lady in the white dress” and then more and more under their own steam every year – and although most of them had long since moved away (and not written for years), when they got the Evelyn’s letter, they came running. Amongst those who had ‘lived in’ the devotion was even more marked.

Letters were written; finances raised; land bought; architects, surveyors and engineers engaged; planning permission sought and obtained; builders employed; and, within two years of Evelyn having set pen to paper, she shuffled through a small army of supporters and cut the red ribbon with a pair of garden shears.

That night, she dreamed of the happiest day of her life; she’d never felt so proud.

The next morning, she was found in her bed, wearing a white night-dress and with a smile on her face. She had never looked so beautiful.

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 21: The Happiest Day of My LifePart 2: Happy Families

It turned out that it had been nothing personal against either the Johnson or Evelynson families – the cellarman had developed a grudge against his employer and, in an effort to ruin him, had found a way to poison every bottle of the best champagne in the place. This was, of course, little comfort to Evelyn, who in one moment had lost everyone she knew and cared about.

In that one moment Evelyn realised exactly what she had to do, and in the eternity of motionlessness that followed, her mind worked and planned and dreamed of a better future quite serenely – until the first toddler to realise that something wasn’t just strange, but very, very wrong, started screaming her little lungs out.

The police found Evelyn slumped against a pillar – her beauty quite different now: cradling that one little girl in her arms – both of them quite dry of tears and so far past exhaustion not even a dry sob escaped them. The other children were gathered about them – those that weren’t sleeping, gazing at this strange, sad lady in her lovely, white dress, who seemed to be the last real grown up in the world, but wouldn’t tell them what to do. They refused to move until she got up and then followed her out of that terrible place.

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 21: The Happiest Day of My LifePart 1: Wedded Bliss

Evelyn Johnson walked down the aisle with her (only slightly) arthritic father doing his best to both keep up and slow her down. “It’s meant to be a dignified procession from the doors to the altar” the vicar had said, and Evelyn had agreed. That had been at the rehearsal the night before and a million years ago. Now, she couldn’t wait to get to the front and look into her husband, sorry, soon-to-be-husband’s eyes and for him to see how beautiful she was today.

“Even more beautiful than the last time I saw you.” he’d tell her. She never tired of hearing him say that, and he said it a lot – even when her hair was still plastered to her face from the night before and the face in question still had crinkled pillow marks etched into it. The thing was, he meant it.

“Maybe, in the morning, just this once, he’ll not be able to say it, after today.” She slipped her arm out from her father’s and skipped the last few yards, grabbed her soon-to-be-husband’s hand, flipped her veil over the back of her head and beamed full force at him.

The service went beautifully, the best man performed his duties manfully, the maid of honour, hers honourably (going on to catch the bouquet as the bride and groom left the church grounds), and none of the numerous children made too much of a nuisance of themselves. She even forgave the vicar for calling her ‘John Evelynson’ and making everybody laugh as he hastily backtracked one vow too many.

The sun shone, but not too brightly, the photographer was quick and courteous, everybody did as they were asked without grumbling and the confetti didn’t get stuck in any awkward places.

The food at the reception was beautifully presented, the service magnificent but unobtrusive, and her now-husband’s mini-speech was ever-so-well received. She’d never felt more proud than the moment he broke with tradition, walked around the table and pouring extra glasses for the staff said, “But first, a toast to my lovely wife, who looks even more beautiful today than I’ve *ever* seen her look before, let alone the last time I saw her – in a face pack with cucumber eyes. To Evelyn!”

As one, the other adults in the room stood and raised their glasses high. “To Evelyn!”

As one, the other adults in the room drank deeply from their fluted glasses, for there were bottles in ice buckets aplenty to keep them topped up.

As one, the other adults in the room stopped breathing and dropped to the floor – leaving a stunned Evelyn surrounded by corpses and suddenly quietened children.

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 2: I Love New York in June

Evelyn Johnson strolled down 34th Street, hand in hand with her on-off boyfriend of the past three years. Bernard had moved out the previous September, when his work offered him a hundred percent raise, a company car and dental insurance. Over the course of Bernard’s ten month residence and Evelyn’s three visits, neither of them had become accustomed to the square, building-block town layout, and, not being good with numbers, they both found navigation around New York to be a problem.

Evelyn admired her boyfriend’s newly-shiny pearly whites and wondered how to break the news to him: she had recently been diagnosed with a severe phobia of the final letter of the alphabet and would no longer be able to relocate in the new year. She fully expected this to be the final nail in the metaphorical coffin she felt the relationship had become.

Admiring the reflection of his newly-shiny pearly whites in Evelyn’s sunglasses, Bernard wondered how to break the news: he’d secretly arranged a permanent visa for her, flown out her friends and family, and was walking her to their surprise wedding – he couldn’t bear any more time apart and was sure that she’d be delighted.

Being a fairly traditional kind of guy, he reckoned he’d better propose to her first.

Shortly after crossing 5th Avenue, he pretended his shoe laces were undone and stealthily dropped to one knee. So stealthily in fact that Evelyn didn’t notice. More subterfuge was called for: “Hey! Evie! Help me up, I think I put my back out.”

Evelyn turned around, just in time to see a gold blur in the place of her would-be fiancée.

Liberace’s concert was rescheduled, and his lawyers obtained a super-injunction preventing any reporting of a solid golden Steinway even being anywhere near the Empire State Building, let alone its falling from a badly secured winch and crushing Bernie Rollins to death.

However, due an oversight that later cost the lawyers their contract, the following day’s New York Times front page headline screamed, “Lady Tourist Killed by Falling Stool!”

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn Johnson – An Introduction

It is a truth universally acknowledged* that amongst the almost-infinite number of parallel universes each of us will be born only thirty-one times. Generally, our parallel selves lead similar, if not identical, lives and although there may be some variation between parallels (freak accidents killing off two or three out of thirty one, for example), most of us will die old and in our beds.

Research has thrown up some anomalies.

Take the case of Bernie Rollins (b. 19th-24th August 1942 d.2nd November 1980-2003). This, otherwise remarkably dull, man is the only person in all history to have been killed by a falling, solid-gold piano thirty-one times. Once in each of thirty-one different cities, always on the 2nd November but never on a Monday.

Or maybe that of Catherine Smith (b. 31st December 1977, d. 31st December 2008) who merits attention only for having been born on exactly the same day and having died on her thirty-first birthday in all of her thirty-one parallels.

However, my favourite of all the life and death studies I have come across so far, is that of Evelyn Johnson b. 8th-21st April 1953, d. 5th June 1970 – 29th February 2028. Although not much is known about her early life, the stories of her widely varying deaths – collected here, and available to the public for the first time – are known. They make interesting, sometimes sad, sometimes humbling, sometimes entertaining reading. I hope getting to know Evelyn enriches your life as much as it has mine.

– Professor John Rollins, International Parallels Research Centre, New Stafford

*universally, that is, by the select small few who have done research into this matter and those who have read their papers. It’s generally agreed that quantum and probability and (possibly) quantum probability have something to do with it.

edited to add a missing word

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn Johnson

Number 7: Deus ex Machina

On the day Evelyn Johnson decided to kill herself (June 5th), the sun was shining, the birds were whistling (needless to say, in the trees), and, all around her, the world radiated a sense of all being well. Four weeks later, on the day she went through with her plan, the conditions remained pretty much as they had all summer.

She’d spent the month putting her affairs in order and had even changed her will to better represent her current relationships and favourites amongst them. All her belongings were packed up and ready for distribution to various worthy causes and named individuals. Her fridge was empty, turned off at the wall and its door was open so that the world (with which all was well) could see the freshly-cleaned sparkle. Evelyn had paid her utilities bills until the end of the month, and informed her landlord that she would moving out and that somebody would along to pick up her stuff by the end of August. She’d even sent out a letter to all her friends, which explained, clearly and succinctly what she would be doing and what the practical consequences were likely to be.

Evelyn walked calmly out of her flat, locked the door behind her and sealed the keys in an envelope which she posted to her solicitor at the first post box she passed as she went her not-so-merry way. After about a mile, she came to the highest bridge in the area, walked half way across, climbed over the side, and after a brief pause, leaned outwards and let go of the structure. Whereupon she began to fall.

And falling is where we must briefly leave her.

Somewhere in the Amazon, God commanded an unseasonal butterfly to flap its wings twice as fast as it usually did for a moment or two. Chaos theory was kind-of validated, and we now return to Evelyn.

A very strong wind blew the falling would-be-suicide into the branches of a nearby tree, the branches broke her fall, gradually slowing her down until she tumbled gently from the lowest branches onto the ground below. Besides a slightly twisted ankle and the bruising sustained in the first impact with the tree, she was completely unharmed.

A voice rang out from the heavens, “Evelyn Johnson. Know that it is for God, not you to choose the moment of your passing.”

As Evelyn repented, vowing to make amends, God commanded a bolt of lightning…

Later that afternoon, council workers, investigating the unusal weather discovered Evelyn’s body. The lightning hadn’t even touched her, having naturally struck the tallest object nearby – the tree. The tree had been split from top-most-tip to root, and then fallen both due east and due west. It was the half pointing towards Jerusalem that had fallen on Evelyn and squashed her flat.