Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dark Days of Promise by Shaunna Gonzales




Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t a standard topic of conversation I have with my husband over dinner, and for good reason. It isn’t easy seeing tears welling in his eyes while he recounted an incident that happened to him from 25 years ago that still has him traumatized. Mike retired from our local police department six years ago after being a cop for 26 years. That’s a long time looking at the ugliness of society in the face. I sat across the table, spellbound, listening to a horrible story of a gunfight that I’ve heard before, but this time my mind shifted a little.

Logically, you’d think that most men, and women, only see battle during a war. Not so! I didn’t realize that Mike faced a war-like zone every time he was sent on a call. Without getting into the bloody details, he’d rolled up on motorcycle accidents where riders were gurgling their final breaths, he’d smashed into a padlocked, burning trailer and rescued five small children left alone. He’d faced down a desperate man aiming a crossbow at his chest. He’d been a trigger pull away from a psychotic intent on dying by cop. But those were minor compared to his experience with killer twin brothers who had shot their way through our small city a quarter century ago, and sent Mike’s fellow police officer to the grave. One twin brother died. One got away—for a week—before being captured hiding in an attic somewhere in Texas. 

Mike was supposed to be on that call.

Through a myriad of random events, it seemed Mike, and his brand new rookie, were on another call a few blocks away when those two murdering men stepped out of that bus station and decided to take that officer’s life.

Like a nightmarish play, every moment of that afternoon had seemed choreographed to keep Mike and his rookie alive. In the end, the dead officer’s bulletproof vest had nine pieces of lead embedded in it. My husband’s vest had been taken into repair the day before—so he hadn’t been wearing one, and his new rookie hadn’t purchased his yet. No doubt both men knew what would've happened if they had been on that call. They, no doubt, think about it to this day. I know Mike does. They think about how if they’d only cleared the call they were on a few minutes earlier then they would’ve been there—to . . . what? They would've been shot, probably would’ve died along with their friend. But that doesn’t stop the “what ifs” or “if only”, or stop the flashbacks that sneak up still. 

My husband doesn’t dream. It took a while to even sleep again.

This is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

It's not the same in each person. His rookie can't remember what call they were on before it happened. That memory wasn't blanked out by the trauma. 

This brings me to my book review. 

Shaunna Gonzales chose to write an impressive debut novel about a soldier with PTSD. She did her research--talked to veterans who suffer from the disorder, and told us a story so believable it's unbelievable. It's a story about the loss of a loved one, and heavily lined about the importance of trust in a relationship.   

Leave a comment, and you'll enter into a $10.00 Amazon gift card. You can buy Dark Days of Promise, plus another book. How can you lose? 

This is the back cover blurb . . . 

Thirty-four-year old Vicki Laramie must learn to trust before she can love, but she might die trying. 
While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father -- a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes -- she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.
ISBN: 978-1-61252-218-0

11 comments:

Shaunna said...

Wow Debra, Do you thinkMike would let me inteerview him for a future project? These are stories that need to be shared. Maybe it is because PTSD is so close to my heart, but your sharing brought the sting of tears to my eyes. thank you, and Thank you for having me here today.

Debra Allen Erfert said...

You'll need to stand in line, Shaunna. Remember, I'm a writer, too. I have plans...

Good luck with your book!

Shaunna said...

Okay, I'm standing and waiting...

Leann said...

Great thoughts about PTSD. As a former police dispatcher/911 operator, I've seen PTSD from these same angles, including myself to some extent. For dispatchers and 9-1-1 operators, it's the sounds of panicked, injured, or dying officers or people on the radio or phone... and the background noises of what is happening that you helplessly hear as you try to get help to them as quickly as possible. An angle that has just been recently begun to be considered is cumulative stress and how it can mimic PTSD. That's where most dispatchers/911 operators and many officers find themselves, even if they are lucky to have avoided major traumatic incidents for their career. Anyway, the harm and damage that is done to those who serve and protect us in all aspects, the sacrifice they make for their whole lives to take on the pain of the world, is certainly a worthy topic to explore and educate people about.
Thanks!

Debra Allen Erfert said...

Thank you, Leann, for that comment. I know dispatchers aren't given enough credit for their service most of the time. The helpless feelings they endure while the officers are under fire or are dying isn't something that can be fully understood, even by the street officer unless they've sat in your chair for a while.

Shaunna said...

Leann,
Thank you for sharing. I used to think these people were so tough in so many ways and now I'm learning that the wall is real for survival. Not just on the job, but every day no matter where they are or what they are doing.

Tina Scott, author, artist said...

I bet you're glad that your husband is now retired - and that he wasn't there that day. Scary!

Debra Allen Erfert said...

I'm glad he retired from the police department too, only his retirement lasted all of a whole weekend before he started working for the fire department. He is their Public Information Officer and photographer. While not in danger from flying bullets, unfortunately he's had to photograph some horrible scenes, including dead burned bodies. They added to his PTSD. I can't see how any human can get over digging out and taking pictures of dead babies. Gruesome.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Total wow, Debra. *hugs*

Melanie Goldmund said...

I'm in awe of people who can do that sort of job, and glad that they are able and willing.

The book sounds fascinating, too.

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