California – April 21, 2020
The doorbell rings. I put my pillow over my head assuming it’s the TV in the family room that’s been on all night. It rings again. Followed by knocks. I pop up.
“What time is it?”
The blurry clock on the bedside looks as though it’s 6:37 a.m.
I think to myself, “Is this some kind joke?”
Slippers? On. Glasses? Check. No sash to tie the bathrobe … better find something else to put on in case it’s the IRS, since they don’t like surprises any more than I do.
Brotherhood of Muscle T-shirt? Check. Jeans from yesterday with wallet still (miraculously) in the back pocket? Good enough.
I open the front door to find an envelope taped to it. No sign of whoever delivered it.
It reads, “Today is the day.”
Rip. Paper cut. Explicit language mumbled to self.
I unfold the weathered paper with two diagonal red lines painted on the outside.
“Today could be the most important day of your life. Before you read on, you have to decide. Is now the time to stop with the lame excuses you’ve been telling yourself for years? Like, ‘now’s not a great time for me to do that,’ or, ‘next year I’m really going to make a concerted effort.’ Yeah, right. Sell that nonsense somewhere else. It’s time you start living. I mean, really living. Like there isn’t going to be a tomorrow because, well, there might not be, should you fail to take this opportunity that is right in front of you. This mission. Ah, yes. The mission. Now, look up from this note. Do you see what’s parked on the street? Get in. Don’t be shy. The keys are inside. Take those 41 steps. Get in. Start it up. The rest of your mission, if you’re brave enough to accept it, can be heard by simply turning on your radio.”
I’ve never seen a more beautiful, precise work of art in my entire life. The strong lines from the rear quarter panel all the way to the front fascia – pure muscle. This is my dream ride. A Dodge Challenger SRT® Hellcat Redeye Widebody.
I open the door, sit in the perfectly-formed-to-my-body seat and start it up.
Seat belt on.
“Good morning. Welcome to your mission. The operation is simple, if you make the right choices. Type ‘Ticonderoga, NY’ into your navigation system, and follow our instructions on this channel as you drive. We’ll be with you all the way. Your mission is crucial, and all of the unanswered questions going through your head right now will be answered in due time. Now drive.”
I pull away from my house and onto Topanga Canyon Blvd.
It’s still early. The sky is swallowed in fog, telegraphing a message of uncertainty that I must push beyond and ignore. This bizarre turn of events has me heading – in a car I don’t own – across the country on a mission I know nothing about.
But I feel alive.
I hear a rally cry that today is the day I must take it to the edge.
Yes, the edge.
What have I got to lose?
I feel alive.
So far, there’s nothing more from my tour guide, so I decide to see what this monster has inside.
Badass is an understatement. Am I caught in the middle of some David Lynch film?
The vibe of the engine note is all too perfect. “Subterranean Homesick Alien” suddenly pops up on the radio and I think, “I’m definitely in some kind of movie,” but it sharpens my focus on the road.
Like a wolf darting through wind, I kick into 3rd, headlights piercing ahead with ferocious intention.
Every street sign I pass seems to have a subliminal meaning behind it. I don’t see, “Pat’s Topanga Grille 7 miles ahead” on the billboard. No, all I see is “797 HP – use it” and how could I ignore that?
I tell myself not to overthink it, just drive.
The 707 pound-feet of torque growls as this wolf gnashes his teeth, putting everyone on notice.
I’m on a mission.
Topanga to Ticonderoga.
Sure, to some living their lives wearing blinders instead of Ray-Bans, this journey may look depraved, but for those who know … yeah, you already know.
Passing the Buddha wall, the face on the mural has an envious look in its eye.
And now I’m thinking out loud about this dream state mission I’m on. “Am I being followed, toyed with, even played? Can they hear me?”
Okay, time to put a lid on that nonsense and keep moving.
The beauty of driving a perfectly designed and tuned machine like this SRT Hellcat Redeye is that it quiets the mind while feeding the soul.
And this is a much better recipe for sanity than allowing my imagination to take over, suggesting I’m in the same recurring dream I’ve had since I was a kid. This feels like how it always begins.
The one where I’m on some post-apocalyptic road heading into the unknown. Then, out of nowhere, I’m being chased by a team in over-the-top F1 cars wearing mirrored helmets that are so close I can see the embarrassingly horrified look on my face reflected back when I grip the wheel and glance out the window. Maybe you’ve had this dream too? For your sake, I hope not. Is this all a dream?
I should probably check the rearview, just in case.
Good. Doesn’t look like I’m being followed. For now.
I pinch myself.
I have an unexpected dreamlike reality in my hands, and 797 horses to reign … all the way to New York.
This HEMI®-powered journey has me flying down the PCH when the voice comes back on the radio and says…
The Mission Intro