Dean Lombardi’s half-eaten sandwich fell to the floor as his eyes met those of the man now standing in his office. "Where the hell did you come from?"
His eyes opened slowly to a dark night sky, a hint of snow in the air mixed with acrid smoke and the orange hue of flames somewhere not too far away. His back resting on a tree stump, he rolled to one side to get his bearings. He was in what amounted to a large drainage ditch, 20 feet below the roadway above. His car was nowhere to be seen.
As he started to stand, his right leg ached. Somehow it had gotten bent under his body as he’d rolled out of the passenger side of the speeding car with the cruise control pegged. He remembered the pain of his four root canals needed after taking a puck to the face back in training camp. This pain, however, was much, much worse. He had had no idea at the time how important that dental work would be.
He limped and climbed toward the road, and the orange grew brighter as the heat of the burning wreck smoldering 100 feet away slowly invaded the cold of the Pennsylvania winter night. Each step brought sharp pain, and brought him closer and closer to the scene of his death.
He stood for a long moment, watching the fire engulf his car, seeing the body of the medical cadaver burning in the driver’s seat. Burning with his former teeth in its mouth.
He turned gingerly, steadied himself, and began slowly walking in the other direction.
Brandon Saad was gone.