Vincent Black Shadow / Vincent Black Lightning

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I am not without scars on my brain and my body, but I can live with them. I still feel a shudder in my spine every time I see a picture of a Vincent Black Shadow, or when I walk into a public restroom and hear crippled men whispering about the terrifying Kawasaki Triple... I have visions of compound femur-fractures and large black men in white hospital suits holding me down on a gurney while a nurse called “Bess” sews the flaps of my scalp together with a stitching drill.

[At the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, planning to cover the Mint 400 Desert Race in Las Vegas]

“Well,” he said, “as your attorney I advise you to buy a motorcycle.How else can you cover a thing like this righteously?”

“No way,” I said. “Where can we get hold of a Vincent Black Shadow?”

“Whats that?”

“A fantastic bike,” I said. “The new model is something like two thousand cubic inches, developing two hundred brake-horsepower at four thousand revolutions per minute on a magnesium frame with two styrofoam seats and a total curb weight of exactly two hundred pounds.”

“That sounds about right for this gig,” he said.

“It is,” I assured him. “The fucker’s not much for turning, but it’s pure hell on the straightaway. It’ll outrun the F-111 until takeoff.”

“Takeoff?” he said. “Can we handle that much torque?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “I’ll call New York for some cash.”

[At the entry desk for the Mint 400]

“What’s the entry fee?” I asked the desk-man.

“Two fifty,” he said.

“What if I told you I had a Vincent Black Shadow?”

He stared up at me, saying nothing, not friendly. I noticed he was wearing a .38 revolver on his belt. “Forget it,” I said. “My driver’s sick anyway.”

His eyes narrowed. “Your driver ain’t the only one sick around here, buddy.”

“He has a bone in his throat,” I said.


The man was getting ugly, but suddenly his eyes switched away. He was staring at something else . . .

My attorney; no longer wearing his Danish sunglasses, no longer wearing his Acapulco shirt . . . a very crazy looking person, half-naked and breathing heavily.

“What’s the trouble here?” he croaked. “This man is my client. Are you prepared to go to court?”

I grabbed his shoulder and gently spun him around. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s the Black Shadow — they won’t accept it.”

Wait a minute!” he shouted. “What do you mean, they won’t accept it? Have you made a deal with these pigs?”

“Certainly not,” I said, pushing him along toward the gate. “But you notice they’re all armed. We’re the only people here without guns. Can’t you hear that shooting over there?”

That is the attitude of the new-age superbike freak, and I am one of them. On some days they are about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. The Vincent just killed you a lot faster than a superbike will. A fool couldn’t ride the Vincent Black Shadow more than once, but a fool can ride a Ducati 900 many times, and it will always be a bloodcurdling kind of fun. That is the Curse of Speed which has plagued me all my life. I am a slave to it. On my tombstone they will carve, “IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME.”

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