“I’m trying to take steps,” he said.
The 69-year-old Vietnam veteran didn’t know his attacker.
He doesn’t like to think about him.
“Every morning I get up with expectations of tomorrow, not what happened,” said Ranstrom, his hands covered by protective gloves.
Sitting in a private room in Vibra Specialty Hospital, a recovery center for those who need long-term, in-patient care, Ranstrom is unwavering.
He remembers everything.
“There was nobody in the room,” he said. “I didn’t see this guy come in and be seated.”
Ranstrom, who frequented that Denny’s for its hot coffee and strong wifi, believes he had his back to his attacker.
“All of a sudden, I feel something cold on me. I realize it’s gasoline and I think, ‘What the heck?’ All of a sudden, poof. I’m up in flames,” he said. “If I’d have taken one breath when the flames were up, I’d have been dead.”
Ranstrom fell to the floor and landed so hard he damaged a kidney, an injury that requires he be on dialysis moving forward.
He covered his mouth with his hands and rolled.
“I’m squirming and rolling all over the floor. I can’t put the flames out,” he said. “It’s the most horrifying thing in the world to smell your own skin burning off your body and your hair going away.”
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