Lawrence Reese, owner of The Sub Shop, was discharged Thursday from the Washington Burn Center, and the road to recovery will be long and painful. His faced is singed, and his arms, torso and legs are covered in third-degree burns and bandaged. On Wednesday morning, an incendiary device exploded inside of his business, with him also inside.
"It happened so fast in front of me. It's unbelievable that this happened while I was there. This is serious," said Reese from his hospital room, to Patch. "I came in to open the store in my own jolly way. I propped my door open, and I had a phone call and I went in the back to get my dolly. I rolled the dolly out and was excited because the store was so brand new. Have you seen it? I just put the TV set up, and I had the place looking beautiful."
The Sub Shop, located at 9504 Richmond Hwy., has seen its share of troubles. Two years ago, the restaurant and a doctor's office next door were destroyed by an electrical fire. In October 2012, a thief broke in through the roof and tore up the interior of the Sub Shop and spray-painted the exterior.
"All I can remember is pulling the dolly out and I started unloading all the groceries from my truck like Mr. Bigshot, as usual, and I go back in the store and I go to turn on the 'open' sign and when I did that and I walked halfway into the store, and I don't know if I heard something, but by the time I turned around, I hear this 'Boom! Boom!' All I could do was hit the floor from the impact."
The blast came from inside the shop near the bathroom, said Reese. "It was a heavy blast. It happened so fast. It was a rush of fire, pal. I hit the floor, and I almost felt like I got dragged out. I felt like someone stepped on me, but my fingers ain't broke. But you give me a day or so, let me get my thoughts together."
Reese doesn't remember escaping the Sub Shop.
A black male was seen running from the scene on foot, possibly injured.
"I didn't see any of that. None of it. I didn't see anybody running," said Reese. "I thought I saw two people, but I was blazed out of my head, all the jumping around and the hoopla. My adrenaline was running. The last thing I remember after the blast - was them yelling outside from the thrift store next door."
Reese's 26-year-old son, Lance, was working at Mercedes Benz of Alexandria when he saw the news of the explosion on television.
"I thought, 'Nah, they must be talking about old news, about that fire in 2010,'" he said. "But the next three hours were the most intense of my life. You've got to count your blessings, because today is Feb. 7, and it doesn't say anywhere in writing that you're promised to make it to Feb. 8. You're not promised tomorrow, so live for today and love everybody for today."
Lance Reese described his father as a force of positive energy. "My dad, in a few words, is very stern, very firm, a go-getter and not a quitter," he said. "He'll just keep on going. He'll recover, he'll be on his feet again and he'll rebuild it. And he'll get rid of that cane, too."
Reese's wife, Lynnette, said that her husband has never wanted to hurt anyone. "He built his business from the ground up," she said. "I'm not OK, but he's going to be OK. He's hanging in there."
Reese doesn't suffer fools lightly, and has no idea who could have committed the act. "I cuss a lot of people out at various and different times," he said. "'I can't use the bathroom? F#*@ you!' Well, F#*@ you too. It happens on a daily basis. And I keep going at it and going at it and going at it. I don't care about how they feel and come at me like that. They don't want to see somebody succeed. It's embarrassing to them, because they can't succeed themselves."
How is Reese feeling?
"I'm ready to get out of here. This ain't no fun. I want to go home, and get done what needs to be done to me to heal," he said. "I'm going to go back, relax my mind, and visualize what happened."
Will the Sub Shop be rebuilt once more?
"Yeah, why not?" said Reese. "It ain't about winning. It's about business. Everything is about business, and that's what it's always been about. We can't live without the excitement of owning the business. This is embarrassing, and I'm going to assess this for what it is and rebuild."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mail at www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637 or call Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.