Somewhere between Heaven and the landing ramp, is the sacred mathematics of Chance. The calculated risk And the wind, whipping ya in the eyes, and the sharp, metallic taste of life and death. And there is a moment of utter calm there, in mid air A moment of sheer silence and peace before you hear, as if in a dream, the sound of your own voice going: “OHHHH SHHHHHHITTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Evel Knievel at the top of his take-off ramp in 1967 with a fucking earthquake in his chest, and all 30 feet of intenstine clenched against the concrete’s puckered lips. Evel Knievel saying goodbye to the mother of his kids daddy’s job is dangerous, daddy’s job is to swim out farther and farther into the ocean he comes back to them broken and never for very long At a press conference he tells a reporter: “This is what you call a one shot deal and I’m not comin back for any late show, honey. No I have not practiced the jump Because… there is no use practicing something that you cannot miss. and if i miss the jump in a test shot, that means im dead and will not ever get to do it for real. So this is what you call, a fucking one shot deal. This helmet is to protect me from my own momentum. This costume is to protect you from the realness of what is happening here! I am calling on Death! and she comes growling and snapping into the arena, and opens her jaws up wide on both sides of my landing ramp gasoline, throttle, thumps up. open her up. let the arrow fly, and tear into the fabric of an instant where you can live an entire lifetime in the star-dusted, flash bulb infinity of a launch into impossible space that climbs to the top of its arc and beats the sky back another inch, only to crumble and collapse only to fall and return to the earth with no illusions of immortality and pay the cost of dreaming. like your skin stretched out in ribbons along 100 yards of tar. like those ghostly, ruined bones up there on the x-ray screen like the steel plates, and the pins and the screws that they put in ya til ya got more in common with your bike than you do with any human being By 1976, Evel Knievel’s body is a monument in ruins the scorched remains of a war waged against his own flesh born to chase after death and kids coming home crippled from Vietnam write letters that say “thank you sir. i figure that if you can get up and go on then so can i” Evel Knievel shoots holes in the sky to keep people’s hope alive! Even as he’s flying across the gaps between public appearances burning cocaine like money and women with their faces made up to look like neon motel signs, the vacancy of a million tv’s shining on your skin you’re the twinkle in America’s eye, & the women come looking to lay down with Death & you got enough money to buy into your own hype & you got enough fuel to push you past the speed of light where every day you age a year and you watch, as if in a dream, as you fail every single person in your life. to pay the cost of dreaming: the botched attempts the bankruptcys the divorce. the loss of his family. All the bad blood in his veins is Hepatitis, Kidney Failure, Wheelchair Old age Living to feel yourself, shrinking to the size of a footnote a novelty. a gag. an oddity. All of it part of the long, drawn out revenge of your cowardly enemy. Robert Craig Knievel In 2007, telling the Hour of Power Christian Telecast about waking up and seeing the devil in his bedroom. speaking carefully and slowly, The broken man told the congregation of how he rose up in his bed and said: ‘devil! devil! you bastard you, get away from me. i cast you out of my life. i just got on my knees and prayed then,” said evel. “i prayed that god would put his arms around me and never ever ever let me go” He was not a good man. But he was a great man. And for that he deserves Mercy, Death. Mercy.