Monday, December 10, 2007

Tribute to a Falling Hero

With the temperature hovering just a touch above freezing and a light mist falling, we came to Butte to perform our sacred duty. Like so many times before, we faithful fans were gathered to witness one more of Evel Knievel's death-defying performances. The only thing lacking this time was the suspense about whether this would be his final show. Always before there'd been some question as to whether the stunt would land Evel on the far side of the Snake River Canyon or the far shore of the River Styx, but this time we knew the world's greatest daredevil was destined for the grave. The crowd was massive, possibly Evel's best turn-out ever. The open grave was cordoned off to keep the mob from intruding on the private grief of the family, but I'd gotten there early and claimed my spot against the velvet rope, so I saw the whole thing.

The family, all draped in black, climbed out of their limousines and slogged across the uneven turf of the graveyard. I pitied them, not for their loss of a beloved hero (for I too shared that loss). No, my pity was for the fact that they (unlike me) would sit in the relative comfort of covered seating and miss out on the full dreariness of this event. The mist turned to a steady drizzle. At the far end of the cemetary the hearse stopped and the pall bearers withdrew the red-white-and-blue casket. They walked toward us but stopped when still half a football field away.

Suddenly the tail of the coffin lit up with a roar and a stream of scorching exhaust. The casket accellerated quickly, leaving the ramp doing at least 80 mph. The jet pack went quiet and the flying sarcophagus silently traced a graceful parabolic arc over the parked limos and directly into the earth's maw. As Evel came to his final resting place, a geyser erupted from the grave. I turned from the spectacle to face the mud-drenched throng behind me. Nary a dry eye.


LadyBugCrossing said...

Sounds like he made quite an exit - exactly what he would have wanted.

Hula Doula said...

Going out in a blaze of glory that's for sure