What If? Quick Take: 2022 Dodge Durango Hellcat Coupe

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Abimelec Arellano

Welcome to What If? Quick Take, a new feature from imaginative illustrator Abimelec Arellano and Hagerty. While the cars shown in our regular What If? features are full 3D renderings and can appear in any number of images, the Quick Takes are off-the-cuff expressions of Abimelec’s imagination. Each one is accompanied by a short story. Enjoy! — Jack Baruth

Just a fraction of a moment after the deep, resonant BONGGGGGG! of the impact finished having its way with the fried jelly between her ears, Karen realized that hitting her trash can had been a good thing. The 96-gallon plastic container was now crushed between the rear bumper of her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s Durango Coupe and the Honda Civic parked across the street from their home. Much of the impact had been absorbed by the can, although there was still enough left over to shatter the Civic’s side windows and crunch the driver’s door in the process. Karen didn’t want to get out and look at the back of the Durango, but whatever had occurred back there did not make the sleek truck reluctant to switch into Drive and pull away from the mess.

It had all happened so fast. She and Brian were both working from home nowadays, facing each other across a new handmade wood-and-epoxy “river table” found by Brian somewhere mysterious and brought home in the Durango’s cargo area to serve as the center of their new remote-employment life. They’d both been on Zoom calls when she’d seen Brian’s nose first trickle, then flow with bright red blood. He sneezed involuntarily, spraying Karen and the back of her monitor with a fine horror-film mist, then he ran for the bathroom, face in his hands.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened lately. Brian had been spending a tremendous amount of time at Planet Fitness, often late into the evening. He said that there was always a long line for the StairMaster. It seemed to be paying off; he’d been obviously losing weight in rapid and sustained fashion, dropping from 230-plus pounds to just over 190 in the course of three months. Yet she worried he was going at it too hard. His face was pale and sickly-looking most of the time. And over the past month his nose had been bleeding more and more often.

Now Karen stood and took a series of tentative steps towards the bathroom door. As she did so, a flash on Brian’s screen caught his eye, below a Hollywood-Squares-style panel of Zoom participants all expressing some sort of simultaneous concern for her husband’s condition. She flicked the black plastic cover down over Brian’s webcam and leaned in to examine what she realized was some kind of chat window.

Mackenzie: bby u were so good last nite and the coke was fab im still tingling

Brian: thank u bby luv u so much 4 ever

Mackenzie: i need to remind u that my rent is coming due on monday and i dont think it can be late again k

Brian: k and ill have it for u but first i want to talk to u abt a fantasy i have

Karen felt like she had on the day that she and Brian visited the new World Trade Center and the elevator had started its terrifying ninety-plus-story drop with no notice. Who was Mackenzie? It was their daughter’s name, of course, but it obviously wasn’t their daughter — and it was also the name given to perhaps one out of four girls at their local private school. The ones who weren’t named MacKenzie had some other equally masculine and Great-British derivation, or some old-fashioned choice straight out of a Jane Austen novel; the field hockey team was a cavalcade of Becketts, Emmas, Charlottes, and Campbells.

Abimelec Arellano

Without really knowing it, Karen had managed to sit down at Brian’s computer and open a browser. Alt+H for “history”, she knew that from having to find Workday bookmarks in her job. The list that dropped down was a nightmare. There was something called Seeking and another thing called OnlyTheFans and so, so many site names with “porn” in them. The word “Member” appeared again and again in the links. Brian was a member of all these sites! How much money could he be spending! No wonder he’d been so snippy when she’d taken his lack of Christmas gift as permission to buy a Birkin from Rebag … at thirteen grand and change it seemed like a deal but Brian had started sobbing when she’d told him about it.

“We’re in so deep, you don’t understand,” he’d screamed, before running out the door to visit Planet Fitness for the second time that day. Well, maybe that wasn’t where he’d gone.

Karen had always believed in decisive action, and she had always believed in the rightness of her impulses. She grabbed the Birkin and her sunglasses as she walked towards the door. Her Tesla Model 3 was blocked in of course, prevented from leaving by Brian’s obnoxious SUV, something called a Hellcat Durango Coupe. He’d bought it three months ago and he loved to drive it around blasting horrible music by “the Future” and “Drakes”. Until recently, he’d been a Dave Matthews fan, just like Karen, but now he was obsessed with this booming, incoherent junk that made her lungs shudder when he reluctantly drove her to Starbucks or over to Mackenzie’s school for field hockey practice.

Well, if the Durango was in the way, she would take the Durango. The keys were on the lovely vintage farm table she’d bought a few years ago. As she was settling into the driver’s seat, Brian came running out, shirtless, covered in blood like the sexy fellows from the vampire movies but with the addition of a hefty paunch and what looked like a new tattoo on his shoulder that said “Loyalty” in an ornate cursive.

“Where are you going?” he screamed. “I… I can explain!

“Explain it,” Karen replied, “to MacKenzie, and also to our daughter MacKenzie!” She stabbed the start button, twisted the shifter to “R”, and stepped on the gas. But this Durango didn’t have the relatively limp response of her base-variant Model 3. It screeched all four tires and catapulted her backwards out of the driveway at terrifying speed, right into their trash can, which was then carried by the force of impact into the neighbor’s Civic.

Now Brian was at the driver’s side window, waving his hands, a stream of imprecations and curses flowing from his lips. He seemed to be very worried about his Durango. He was pulling on the locked door handle. Karen took a breath, turned her focus away from him towards the rotary shifter, moved it to “D”, and applied a boot’s worth of throttle to knock Brian away from the door and send her down their canyon road.

The Durango was fast. It smelled new, of plastic and leather and the Axe body spray that Brian had started wearing. Karen hit a speed bump at forty-eight miles per hour and the rest of the rear bumper detached, hitting the ground forlorn behind her. She did not notice. She drove without thinking, picking up the freeway and roaring up to a speed that made her vision contract in front of her before coming to a halt for the afternoon traffic. Crawling along in a line of old Hondas and Toyotas, she realized she was hungry. There was a sign for In-N-Out so she took the Crenshaw exit and rumbled down to the parking lot.

As she exited the Durango, a horrid-looking motorcycle of some sort with a very long part between the rear wheel and the rest of it rolled up next to her. A self-assured young man who looked somewhat like that “The Future” fellow from Brian’s Spotify playlists removed his helmet and fixed her with an expression that was both challenging and reassuring.

“Lady,” he said, “that ‘Cat coupe of yours appears to be missing a bumper.” Karen took a deep breath, and replied,

“Maybe you know where we could find a replacement … for what I’ve lost.”

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