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The Skycycle Blues

This song is by B. Dolan.

Somewhere, between heaven and the landing ramp is the sacred mathematics of chance, the calculated risk, and the wind whipping you in the fucking eyes, and the sharp metallic taste of life and death.

And there is a moment of utter calm there in midair. A moment of sheer silence and peace before you hear, as if in a dream, the sound of your own voice going "oh shit".

Evel Knievel at the top of his takeoff ramp in 1967, with a fucking earthquake in his chest and all 30 feet of intestines clenched against the concrete's puckered lips. Evel saying goodbye to the mother of his kids. Daddy's job is dangerous. Daddy's job is to swim out further and further into the ocean. He comes back to them broken and never for very long.

At a press conference he tells the reporter, "This is what you call a one shot deal and I don't come back for any late show, honey. No I have not practiced the jump, because there is no use practicing something you cannot miss, and if I miss the jump in a test run that means I'm dead and I 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 opens her jaws up wide on both sides of my landing ramp, gasoline, throttle, thumbs 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 stardusted flashbulb infinity of a launch into impossible space that climbs to the top of it's 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 a hundred yards of tar. Like those ghostly ruined bones on the x-ray screen. Like the steel plates and the metal pins and the screws that they put in ya, till you 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 Evel letters that say, "Thank you sir. I figure if you can get up and keep going then so can I". Evel Knievel shoots holes in the sky to keep peoples hopes alive, even as he's flying across the gaps between public appearances, burning cocaine like money and women with their face made up to look like neon motel signs. The vacancy of a million TVs shine on your skin, you're the twinkle in America's eyes, and the women come looking to lay down with death and you got enough money to buy into your own hype, you got enough fuel to push it 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 canyon shot, crash and burn, the rehab, the bankruptcy, the divorce, the loss of his family, all the bad blood in his veins is hepatitis from bad transfusions, kidney failure, oxygen mask, wheelchair, old age. Living to feel yourself shrink to the size of a footnote, a novelty, a gag, an oddity, all to be part of the long, drawn out revenge of a cowardly enemy.

Robert Craig Knievel in 2007, telling the Hour of Power Christian telecast about how he woke up and saw the devil in his bedroom. Gasping like a fish out of water, missing his oxygen mask, 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 down on my knees and prayed then," said Evel, "Prayed that God would put his arms around me and never ever let me go." He was not a good man. But he was a great man. And for that he deserves mercy, death. Mercy.

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