The young man sat hunched by the roadside, right arm almost severed, legs twisted, and a face lacerated by so much broken glass, he doubted he'd ever again recognize the face that would look back at him from a mirror.

He stared at the burning wreckage, wondering where he'd found the strength to pull himself out of the car. He guessed it wasn't his time...or maybe he was just too bullheaded to die.

Those final seconds had been a blur. One minute cruising the highway near Paso Robles, the next careening hopelessly out of control.

Through a red-cloaked mist, he watched the fire trucks and squad cars screech to a halt.

"You okay, kid?" asked a cop. He'd have laughed if his mouth hadn't been too blistered. Did he look okay?

"Jesus Christ," yelled one of the firefighters attempting to douse the flames consuming the Porsche Spider. "Somebody's still in here...burned to crisp by the look of things!"

"Know who that might be, son?" asked the cop as the survivor was hoisted gently onto a stretcher.

It was the moment of truth. He could either bask for eternity in the spotlight or become an object of pity and speculation about what might have been. He made his choice and considered himself lucky that he'd decided to pick up that hitcher.

He mumbled a name. The cop leaned closer. "Who?"

Not known for coherent speech, the young man took a painful breath and spoke louder...clearer.

"Jimmy Dean."

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