Each generation of soldiers bring a hidden host of demons back with them from the battlefield. We call them “shell shocked,” “anti-social,” “scarred.” We keep them at arms’ length, never wanting to make direct contact but are ever watchful from the corners of our eyes, always vigilant of the crazy that may break loose around us.
A dear friend of mine went from the rice paddies of Viet Nam straight to the psychiatric ward of a V. A. hospital. Thirty years later, he still felt exposed and vulnerable standing in line to order a fast food burger. Crowds sent him into a cold sweat. He always sat with his back against a wall, ever vigilant, ever wary. Sadly, his experience is not the exception.
Robert Thornhill brings us face to face with these demons. We see through his words the true price paid for the freedoms we take for granted. For it is our service members and, perhaps more painfully, their families, who live this hell on earth. It is their call to duty, their sacrifices that have left scars on our public psyche. Scars that will never truly heal. Scars that will cost us dearly both monetarily and psychologically for years to come.
One of the most timely and well written Lady Justice novels to date, “Lady Justice and The Vet” gives you a brief glimpse into PTSD and the realities of war, yet hasn’t lost the sense of humor that Walt and his merry band of characters brings into every Lady Justice adventure.
Thank you, Robert, for reminding us that heroes and demons are made in every battle, even after the fighting has ended.
— Cynthia Coer Butcher
Edition #60 – December 8, 2013
LADY JUSTICE AND THE VET
By Robert Thornhill
“WHAP, WHAP, WHAP”
Ben Singleton heard the blades of the big choppers.
“Help! Over here! Archie’s hit! He’s hurt bad!”
“Shhh, Ben,” Tracy Singleton whispered, putting her arms around her husband. “It’s okay. I’m here. You’re home and safe.”
“The choppers,” he muttered. “I heard the choppers coming.”
“You were dreaming again, Sweetie. It’s just the ceiling fan.”
Ben lay very still and as he awoke from his recurring nightmare, he realized that she was right. He wasn’t in the dusty road outside the village in Zad Valley. He was safe and sound in his home in Kansas City.
“It’s just so real,” he whispered. “I could taste it, feel it, smell it — I wonder if it will ever go away.”
“Dr. Fletcher said it would take some time —”
“Time! How much time? It’s been four years!”
Immediately, he regretted his outburst. “I’m sorry Tracy. I didn’t mean to snap at you. You’ve been so great.”
“It’s okay. I understand,” she said laying her head on his chest. We’ll get through this — together.”
Before his tour in Afghanistan, Ben was being groomed for a management position in a large brokerage firm, but after returning home and healing from his wounds he discovered that he just wasn’t comfortable in the confines of an office. He felt enclosed and trapped.
After what he had seen and experienced in the Marines, his co-workers in their suits and ties seemed so shallow. Some had been curious about his tour of duty, but there was just no way that he could make someone that had not been there understand the horrors of battle.
He had taken a job with Empire Landscaping that gave him the freedom to work outside with minimal contact with the other members of the crew. It didn’t pay all that well, but it was hard physical labor which was what he needed to take his mind off of the images that kept forcing themselves back into his consciousness. Most nights, he would tumble into bed exhausted, and fall into a deep sleep — most nights, but not all…
Award-winning author, Robert Thornhill, began writing at the age of sixty-six and in four short years has penned fifteen novels in the Lady Justice mystery/comedy series, the seven volume Rainbow Road series of chapter books for children, a cookbook and a mini-autobiography.
Lady Justice and the Sting, Lady Justice and Dr. Death, Lady Justice and the Vigilante, Lady Justice and the Candidate, Lady Justice and the Book Club Murders and Lady Justice and the Cruise Ship Murders won the Pinnacle Award for the best new mystery novels of Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Summer 2012, Fall 2012, Spring of 2013 and Summer 2013 from the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs.
Many of Walt’s adventures in the Lady Justice series are anecdotal and based on Robert’s real life.