Secret Choices, a novel based on the life of the author, shows the personal costs of war, and follows a combat veteran through a different kind of battle. A battle every veteran must win if they are to reconcile the moral injury of combat and return home from their war.
Tom Warden found the courage to face death in Vietnam. Now he must find the courage to face life. When the man he thought was his ally accuses him of murder, he has a choice. He can hide from the truth of what he has become in order to survive, or open his heart and be the point man of his own life.
"We had to go or give up our lives as we knew them by going to Canada or Mexico. What we didn’t know is that we would give up our lives anyway."
I am Cold, Numb.
There was a war. I killed a man.
There was a great love. I let her go.
I listen for my heartbeat.
I am Cold, Numb.
“I’m going to pat you down.”
The Roach raised his arms slightly, allowing the man to frisk him.
The man felt the .45 immediately. He opened The Roach’s coat and pulled it from the shoulder holster. “What have we here?” He thumbed the hammer back and held it at waist level. He reached out with his left hand, and turned The Roach by the shoulder toward the station wagon.
“Just put your hands on the hood for me.” He stepped to his left and motioned with the .45.
“See if he has anything else.”
The man in the watch cap holstered his weapon and began to pat down The Roach, starting with his ankles and working up. He found the 25 auto in The Roach’s left coat pocket and took it out.
He stepped back and said, “That’s it.”
“Where’s the money?” the man in the topcoat asked.
“Backseat,” The Roach said.
The Roach tightened his grip on the ignition key, got his feet under him, straightened, and began turning to his left. Driving hard with his legs, The Roach swung his right arm around and stabbed the man wearing the watch cap in the eye with the ignition key. The man in
the topcoat raised Timmy’s .45 automatic. The Roach snatched the 25-caliber auto from the other man’s hand as it came up in a defensive gesture. The man in the topcoat pulled the trigger. The hammer fell on an empty chamber. The Roach shot him in the throat. The bullet went through the soft tissue into his spine and he slumped to the ground. The Roach grabbed the man in the watch cap by the shoulder. Placing the pistol under his ear, he put a bullet into his brain stem. As the man fell away The Roach took the watch cap from the man’s head and used it to wipe the fingerprints from the .25 automatic. He sent the watch cap and pistol in a high arc towards Destruction Brook. When he heard the splash, The Roach turned, got in his station wagon and went home.
He kissed her on her forehead, her lips, her neck, her shoulders. His hands found the small of her back. He kissed her breasts, her hands, then her belly, and stayed there for a while. His hands traced down her thighs behind her knees. When Tom felt a slight tremor he picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. He liked undressing Sarah. It was nice and she let him. He took his time because he knew when the lovemaking was over she wouldn’t want to be touched. He was so in love with Sarah. He felt it most when they made love, but it was the only time Sarah seemed to be in love with him. The rest of the time she was just his friend. He tried to stay awake. Most of the time he could, but not tonight. The road had been too long.
Before he dozed off, he said, “I love you, Sarah, I love you.” His breathing became heavy.
Sarah brushed the hair back from his forehead and said, “I love you too, Tom, and don’t you forget it.”
When the red Chinese Army came down on us in Korea, we killed so many with thirty-caliber machine gun fire you could hardly see the ground out in front of our position. We stacked ‘em up like cordwood. It made you feel like life was cheap, that death was no big deal. Like I said, a fellow can get to like killing. I still do, God help me. I’m not saying I do it for pleasure. Never did, but I like the power of it. The finality of it. You had to make a deal with the devil, though. You had to agree to be fair game. If you wanted to be a hunter, you also agreed to be the hunted. That’s the deal. I thought it was a lifetime commitment, but I finally figured out I could cancel my contract with the devil anytime I wanted. That was a hard day for me. I always justified killing in the line of duty by saying a deal is a deal, even if it is with Satan. After that day, when I canceled my hunting license, I walked a fine line. I had to be exactly sure that when I drew my weapon it was for the right reason and not an excuse
to do what I’d come to enjoy.
Tom Puetz is the co-producer, story consultant and lead editor of the The MENding Monologues. Born in 1947 in rural Indiana, Tom left Purdue University in the winter of 1967 and was drafted into the U. S. Army where he fought in Vietnam. The next three decades Tom calls “The lost years”.
Tom moved to Sedona in 1990 and earned a B.S. in Engineering from Northern Arizona University in 1995. He is a long standing performer with "The Abandoned Minds", a local improv troupe and The MENding Monologues, a theater troupe that examines how violence affects our lives. He sincerely believes in the African proverb “The gift is next to the wound". Tom's motto is "Tell your story - Find the gift - Share it with the world."
Unbelievable Truth. Love It!
By Theresa J. Hunt
Secret Choices is an amazing book to read. In this book, the writer beautifully described the life of Tom Warden. He is a very unfortunate person who was struggling in Vietnam. The main character of this book is described wisely. I loved reading this book a lot, and I love my time with it. You should read this true story. You will know more about the life of a soldier who fought in Vietnam war. Highly recommended to everyone!
Really Historical Story. You Must Read!
By Nicholas Carroll
I read many books and stories, but this is the best book I've read in my life. This is not only just a story, but also a true history of the Vietnam war. This book shows us the personal costs of war. The author tells us everything about his life in this book. Really, it is a very enjoyable book for everyone. Thanks for awesome book.
The Truth of War. I Enjoyed This Book!
By Carl S. Ortega
This book is a true story written by Tom Puetz. Everything in this book is real. Tom Warden is one of the main characters who were fighting in Vietnam. This story begins with his life "in the world". After returning from Vietnam, he meets with his classmate and things change dramatically. It is an awesome story. I love this book so much for the true story.
No Word, Just Awesome!
By Alan Gonzalez
My wife and I always love to read adventure and historical books. Last few weeks I was looking for a decent quality book on Amazon. Suddenly I found this book. Today I finished the book. It is full of action and suspense - really outstanding. Perfect ending with the story of the Vietnam war. I know everyone will love to read this book. I recommended all to read this book at least once. Get true story about a soldier who fought in a war. Really, this is an excellent book for all readers.