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An open letter to the stealth ninja driver

April 8, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE ( , Times-Republican

Dear driver of the 1996 Plymouth Voyager minivan zooming around with his lights turned off at the dead of night rendering your dark-colored family vehicle a nearly invisible motorized killing machine,

Hello. Oh, I'm sorry, was I not supposed to see you? You didn't make the task easy, oh Shadowed One. Thankfully, you made up for the complete lack of proper motor vehicle illumination with excessive speed and a total disregard for human life. Luckily, I have the detection skills of an Apache warrior. Well, that and you were yelling angrily on your cell phone as you passed me on the four-lane highway and both of our windows were down.

"My God," that biker you nearly blasted off the/Your highway must've been thinking. "What was that, a Dementor?" You sure showed him, assuming what you wanted to show him was his life flashing before his eyes.

Your total disregard for your and society's safety impressed even me. It's clear you not only throw caution to the wind, you drop kick it before shooting it with a 12-guage shotgun filled with exploding bees.

We shared a moment, you and I - you yelling into a cell phone while angrily piloting a multi-ton vehicle down the busy highway, and me staring at the shadowed pits where your taillights should be like there's no way this was something I just experienced.

You passed me like the speeding shadow of a soccer mom driving her twins to practice but with the cojones of a veteran matador, blatantly giving fate a pair of one-fingered salutes. The only way it would have been more dangerous is if you had been driving a nuclear missile covered in saw blades from the back seat with a stick. Or if you were some kind of mutant land shark.

During our Moment, I had the brief opportunity to see the face behind the wheel and you appeared just as I had hoped. You were sporting a mustache, obviously, and, forgive me if I imagined this, you appeared nearly identical to what I imagine an anorexic Red Barron would look like or what Snoopy wears when he pilots his doghouse through the sky - meaning an old scarf, leather helmet and goggles. Majestic.

As I sit in my daughter's inflatable ball pit thankful to be alive, I can't help but contemplate just what you could have been thinking. It was clear after you deftly passed that Hobby Lobby that you were on a mission - and that mission did not entail the purchase of arts and crafts supplies, fabrics, baskets, silk flowers, needlework, picture framing, party supplies, furniture or related items.

Perhaps you just finished watching the movie Predator and thought to yourself, "I can be just like that alien hunter while driving to Walgreens for a delightful greeting card."

Or perhaps you're a Star Trek type of maniac and always wanted to pilot a Klingon spaceship with a cloaking device. Perhaps the cell phone I heard you yelling into was not a cell phone at all, but a communications device to your crew. While I couldn't make out what you shouted, it could have very well been:

"Hab SoSlI' Quch!" ("Your mother has a smooth forehead!")

Or perhaps you're like a toddler that, when he closes his eyes, thinks nobody can see him and you believe with all your ninja stealth heart this "power" enables you to zip through traffic like a ghost.

Maybe you see life as one giant video game. And in racing video games, headlights aren't as big of a priority as guts, glory and the possibility of beating your best time.

Perhaps you have a socially misunderstood religion that prohibits you from believing in evening headlights, deeming them the "devil's illuminators."

Maybe you have dreams about being one of those stunt drivers in over-the-top car commercials and I, along with 400 other motorists, happened to be on your practice course.

Perhaps you are an International Man of Mystery tailing someone of great importance to your (our?) government. But, alas, I doubt the CIA, Interpol or Mossad would employ someone with a bumper sticker depicting Calvin from the iconic comic strip Calvin & Hobbes urinating on the Chevrolet emblem. Unless this is all part of your elaborate cover disguise?

You sneaky devil. Your secret is safe with me.

I suppose there's always the unlikely possibility that you're just a raging idiot and simply forgot to turn your headlights on.

It's clear the values you seek out for your vehicles - safety, space, convenience, etc. - do not apply to those outside your sleek and slightly rusted sliding doors. If only you decided to take a Prius, you may have been able to sneak through the residential neighborhood and ended up on that silent killing spree you were hoping for.

Maybe next time, silent killer. Until then, fly on Dark Knight. Fly on.


- The guy you nearly killed

P.S. When you see him, tell Darwin I say hi.


Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via canoe, the only mode of transportation he will consider taking for the next six months.



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