Lance Stephenson walked silently through the cemetery, lost in his thoughts. He came here often to clear his head; the people here would not bother him for autographs or favors. Sometimes, when he breathed deep, he imagined that the air entering his lungs contained the accumulated wisdom of all those who had chosen this spot as their final resting place.
Passing by an unmarked tombstone, he thought he heard some movement. Pausing, listening, his ears were met only with silence. Then, a faint, yet distinct, voice emanating from the ground beneath his feet: “Let me out! somebody get me out of here!”
Getting to his knees, Lance cupped his hands against the earth and yelled, “Somebody down there?”
“Finally somebody heard me! I’m not dead yet!” responded the man immured in dirt.
Lance immediately began to dig frantically with his hands, but progress was slow and painful. Looking around for a better tool, he saw a shovel leaning against the caretaker’s shed. Grabbing it and resuming his work, he soon had uncovered a plain-looking casket. As soon as the last clump of dirt was removed, the lid sprang open.
Not believing his eyes, Lance rubbed them once, as if to dispel the illusion. “Danny? Danny, is that you, man?”
Danny Granger held out his hand. “I might need some help getting out of this hole. I don’t know how long I’ve been down there, but my legs are pretty weak.”
Lance helped Danny to his feet, then exclaimed, “But you was supposed to be dead! I was at the funeral!”
Danny shook his head and laughed weakly. “Oh no, no no. I wasn’t dead. I just had a few knee problems. Over my fervent protests, the medical staff injected me with some kind of heavy sedative. I think they just wanted to get rid of me, maybe collect insurance on my contract. But now that I’m free from the confines of my coffin, I’m looking forward to coming back and leading my team again.”
Looking a little uneasy, Lance started, “Well, about that…”
“What? I was only interred for a few days at most, there’s no way I would have survived any longer without food or drink.”
Shifting his weight from foot to foot, Lance said, “Actually, you were down there for over a year. It’s not your team anymore. Paul George is the man now.” He flinched as he revealed this information, expecting Danny to erupt in anger.
Surprisingly, Danny hardly reacted. “Oh. Well, I can’t really expect the organization to wait a year for me to return to health, can I? I would be okay being a scoring option off the bench, honestly, as long as the Pacers are competitive.”
Relieved, Lance clapped his old friend on the back. “It’s great to have you again, man. But I got just one question.”
“You ain’t a zombie or nothin’, are you?”
Danny looked at his teammate quizzically. “No, Lance. Why would you think that?”
“Oh, just this dream I had. Forget it.”