The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Nineteen

Happy New Year to You All

“Turn, turn, turn.” The seasons keep proceeding, with our without our permission. The pages of the calendar turn, our age increases daily, the leaves change in color, fall, sprout once again, old men die, while the young see incredible lives ahead of them.

Such is life!

I had planned on this story ending a long time ago, but that would mean saying goodbye to old friends, my characters, and during my lifetime I’ve had to say goodbye to far too many old friends already. Why would I willingly do it to my fictional friends?

So Max and Katie will continue as time allows, and today time allows.

Enjoy my tribute to a modern day family.

Home | Source

The Scene

It happened on a “Chamber of Commerce” day in early April, low seventies, the bluest skies you’ve ever seen, in Seattle, the Ballard neighborhood if you like specifics, the smell of the tide drifting by on the soft westerly wind, new buds sprouting, grass growing much too fast, kids running and laughing, just a glorious damned day in the city of my birth, me and Dad out front, taking care of some chores, enjoying each other’s company.

And then Dad had a heart attack!

We were talking about the Mariners, our perennial sad-sack Major League baseball team, talking about their chances, even talking about finding our old gloves, maybe tossing the ball around later, and he grabbed his chest and, it seemed, slumped in slow motion to the newly-mowed lawn.

I didn’t wait around to ask questions. I’ve seen too many medical emergencies in the Army, so I sprinted into the house, found my cell phone, and dialed those three dreaded numbers. I swear I had barely done that, shouted to my sister, raced back outside and the Medic One van was there, siren fading, and emergency personnel were taking vitals and slapping oxygen on my old man’s face, neighbors curious, watching from a distance, as if they were afraid they might catch whatever it was that happened, or maybe just giving us space, allowing us to grieve in private.

It’s kind of a blur after that, Jeannie and I racing to the car, calling Mom and Katie on the way, telling them what happened, meet us, hurry, at Harborview Hospital, giving them what we knew, trying to remain positive, Jeannie doing a good job while I drove in a daze, switching lanes, in and out, barely missing a sideswipe, hard to see with damned tears in my eyes.

The hospital
The hospital | Source

The Hospital

Grandpa Pete, a Vietnam vet, liked to say “there ain’t no atheists in a foxhole,” and it took me years to understand those simple words, simple truths, the toughest of men, ones who swear they don’t need no gods, don’t need any of that magical, mystical bullshit, will pray like babies when the mortar rounds are dropping and the buddy next to them loses his legs to a “Bouncing Betty,” and on that ride to that hospital I was praying my ass off, making promises, expressing sincere sorrow for transgressions, remembering the words from long ago, bless me Father, grant me this Father, I am heartily sorry Father, just hoping to the Almighty that one of those damned prayers would stick, that somewhere in the netherworld there was some being listening.

They had him in I.C.U. by the time we got there, good people at Harborview, caring people, pros at what they do, a fly-by at Emergency and right to Intensive Care, and someone at the reception desk passed us on to someone on the fifth floor, and finally a doctor, couldn’t have been much older than thirty, sat us down and told us the old man was in trouble but in good hands, and then Mom appeared, and shortly after Kate was there, and we all shed some tears and hugs, telling each other he’s a strong old bird and Mom saying he’s too ornery to die.

And the next thing I know I’m out in the parking lot, just roaming around, horns honking, people yelling at me to get the hell out of the road, and Katie grabbed me, took me over to a park bench, and held me until I figured out where the hell I was. “It’s okay, Max, I’ve got you now,” she said, and me crying like an infant on her shoulder, her hand smoothing my hair, her kissing my cheek. “It’s okay, Max, he’s strong, he’ll make it, this isn’t the war anymore, darling,” and finally my breathing slowed, my heart rate slowed, and I was back in Seattle, back from the Sandbox, no IUDs to worry about, back home, Dad, focus on Dad, and I let Katie lead me back to the room, Room 501, where my dad was receiving what he needed.

The Room

What I couldn’t figure out was how he was breathing with that tube in his throat, didn’t make sense, you know, seemed impossible as hell for a human body to do that, and Lord Almighty, wires hooked up, monitors everywhere you looked, beeping, more tubes in his arms, nurses making busy, charts, bright lights, I just wanted to scream at them “LET HIM REST,” but Katie’s hand on my arm, gently squeezing, kept me from further embarrassment, and she sat me down next to Jeannie and Mom, kept holding onto me, and that made all the difference.

And then it was time to wait, at ease, soldier, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, the platoon second Lew used to say, and waiting meant thinking back to a time long ago, playing catch with my dad, going to the park, him hitting flies to me, me chasing them down, two boys of summer, and my first swim lesson, his strong, reassuring hands around my waist, “use your arms, Max, kick those legs,” and Mariner games, hot dogs on a Saturday afternoon down at Pikes Place Market, or a ferry ride to Vashon, a guy and his son, the guy prouder than hell at school games, his son making a touchdown, firing the last strike on a two-hitter against Garfield High, and those strong arms hugging his son, the troop plane getting ready to take his firstborn to Afghanistan, hard to fathom all those years passed so quickly, were all the words that needed to be said clearly stated, like I love you and thank you and . . .

The hope
The hope | Source

Two Days Later

The doctor told us it was a near-miss, could have been worse, a few things needed to be done, change of diet, no more smoking, cut back on the Jack Daniels, bypass surgery was a life-saver, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again, and it was up to all of us to make damned sure Dad took care of himself, and we all promised to do that, promised to give him the love he needed, and those promises weren’t hollow by any means, we meant what we said, but still, you know, life is so damned fragile, hanging by a thread, we are, and we damned better make the most of it, love like we are crazed, breathe deeply while we can, jump and run and howl at the moon, because one day, man, it will be gone, a blink, one-thousand one, one-thousand two, and it will all be done.

Katie and I made love that night. She did what women do, man, when the screaming banshees threaten to unravel all that came before, she wrapped me in her arms and took me inside her safe place, her wild red hair falling down on my face, her eyes, those deep pools of promise, allowing me in, allowing me to see the safety of love, allowing me to drop all the macho bullshit and just be.


I hope so. I hope you are finding enough in this saga that will interest you and leave you wanting more.

Thank you!

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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Comments 50 comments

DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 7 weeks ago from Northern Ireland

Glad to see Max and Katie again. And no matter when the next call comes for his dad, he will always be glad he got back to see him and to remember the good times.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 7 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I could not get the smell of freshly cut grass out of my nose. Sometimes an event like this is ultimately a blessing as all revere their time as more important. Funny that, we can share our love more openly with a sick person. Great stuff Bill thank you.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 7 weeks ago

I read this with tears in my eyes, having experienced the same thing with my Dad when I was ten years old.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

For sure, Meg! We grab hold of those good times and don't let go...ever. Thank you and Happy New Year.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

True words, Eric. I've seen it happen several times. Thanks for pointing that out, for being here, and Happy New Year to you.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

This one was for my dad, Pop, who died in my arms when I was nineteen...from a heart attack. Fiction meets reality. :)

Happy New Year my friend.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

Bill, I know you saw your Dad as you were writing this, and I thought of mine as well--that big strong man who used to carry me on his shoulders, now being carried from our home, looking so small and fragile and old. And he did not make it. And your Dad didn't make it.

Max is blessed. He has been given a chance to hit the re-set button. You can't erase the past. But sometimes you are stopped in your tracks, just long enough to remember the past. And then, with any kind of luck, you get at least one more day to add a few more memories.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Beautifully stated, Linda, an important message for us all. Make the most of those extra chances we are given...true words, my friend. Thank you!

always exploring profile image

always exploring 7 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

Oh yes, I definitely want more. I see a little of you and your dad in this piece. Loved it my talented friend...

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 7 weeks ago from Oklahoma

Happy New Year to you Bill.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Larry, and Happy New Year to you.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

A near miss can put things into perspective. Imagine if he hadn't made it back from his wandering ways.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 7 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

His father's health is a new problem for Max to deal with. I'm glad that he has come home, though. He and his family need to help each other.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 7 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

This chapter felt especially personal - beautiful writing, dear Bill.

Happy, peaceful 2107 to you and Bev. Love, Maria

Michael-Milec profile image

Michael-Milec 7 weeks ago

Much appreciated moral predicament.

Some of those heart attacks comes with strong messages tendering self reflection for those close to that loving affected heart. Seizing the moment between life and death! Reconciling the rest of the earthly journey. How willingly we accept changes. Max and Katie, Mom and sister would never be the same; their priority will take them to the "higher level" - as widely used expression of hope and love would it voiced.

Good night my friend and blessed New Year to you and yours.


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 7 weeks ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

What a great peace of writing. What I like the most is that I could enjoy reading the 19th chapter without having to have read all the chapters before. excellent.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Yes, Ruby, my dad was in this piece for sure. Thank you for enjoying this. I'll see you next week, and Happy New Year to you.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

That would have been bad on so many levels, Flourish. Now is a time for healing for all of them. :) Happy New Year my friend.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Very true words, Alicia. They all need each all families do. Thank you and Happy New Year!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

It was for sure, Maria. I don't know how to write other than personal. :) Happy New Year, my friend, a year filled with love.



billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Michael my friend, peace be with you, today and all through 2017. Thank you for your friendship.

blessings always

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Aw, thank you Nadine. It's hard, as you know, to write a stand-alone chapter. I don't always succeed, so thank you for your comment, and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 7 weeks ago from England

Nice one as always! and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you Bill!

Genna East profile image

Genna East 7 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

There should be a new word for "realism," as it hardly does justice to this chapter. Such near-miss moments make us grateful for each breath we take, the gift of each day with our loved ones. I have a suspicion that Max will not look at life through the same lens from that moment onward. Excellent writing. Happy New Year, Bill.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you, Nell, and Happy New Year to you!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Genna, I've had several of those moments, and I'm happy to report I now see the world with new lenses....and I am grateful for that.

blessings always


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 7 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

Well that took me on a scary, fast heart beating journey. Glad to know Max's dad will be alright and that he and dad can continue to bond. Glad that Kate was able to love away his fears. Looking forward to the next.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Rasma! This story should be right up your alley, filled with love.

Vellur profile image

Vellur 6 weeks ago from Dubai

A health scare in the family but all is well and Max's father is out of danger. Looking forward to the next, nicely penned.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you very much, Vellur, and Happy New Year to you.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 6 weeks ago from Northern California, USA

My dad died of a heart attack and I can imagine my mom going through these exact same emotions. I can also imagine my husband going through the same thing when my heart decides to act up. This episode was truly intense. I'm not sure this makes sense, but I found myself reading really hard and fast... like I just needed to get through it quickly.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 6 weeks ago from United Kingdom

It reads like this story wrote itself. The 'stream of conscious' style you used for Max thoughts was so appropriate to capture his state of mind. Simply sublime.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Marlene, we both suffered similar losses in similar ways, and those kinds of experiences will stay with us for a lifetime. Yes, read hard and fast, my friend. I understand completely.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Zulma, your compliments tell me I'm on the right path, and I greatly appreciate them. Thank you! I know you don't compliment randomly.

Be well, my friend. As my dad used to say, it's colder than a witch's tit here this morning.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 6 weeks ago from United Kingdom

You're welcome, Bill.

The English refer to frigid weather as 'brass monkey weather.' We had that for a few days but it's warmer this week.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

I like that, Zulma! In fact, there are many instances where I rather enjoy the British language more than ours here.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 6 weeks ago from Texas

Now here's a chapter that touched a lot of people on a personal level, including me. Just out of curiosity, how long does it take you to write an installation like this?

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Shannon, about an hour, give or take. The story is in my brain before I start, and then I just let the characters take over. :) Thanks so much.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 6 weeks ago

This episode portrays what so many people experience with their elderly family members. Very touching and glad it turned out well.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Dee! There's a little autobiography in this...just enough to give a glimpse into the hidden corners of my world.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 5 weeks ago from Central Florida

I'm always happy to see another chapter in the life of Max and Katie, Bill.

This one is very close to home to you, I know. I wish your writer's pen could re-write history, but I guess you kinda did that here, huh?

billybuc profile image

billybuc 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

I guess I did at that, Sha! I wish wishing made it so, my friend.

Thanks for tagging along on this ride.

annart profile image

annart 4 weeks ago from SW England

The pacing in this is so good, bill, reflecting the panic and urgency of action against the relief and the calm after such trauma. I love these characters.

It's so true that we have no idea what will happen next, life does hang by a thread, and we have to make the most of each day as it comes. I'm learning about that more and more each day. A dear friend is not having a good time at the moment but is hanging on to any fun she can find - such a strong character and such a brave woman.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you for the kind words, Ann. I do feel like I'm growing as a writer. I'm slowly becoming what I want myself to be. I just hope I live long enough to see the end result. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your friend.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 4 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


This was really powerful, because it's so true to life!

It reminded me the last time I saw my Dad was when my wife and I got engaged, the day after we announced it we both went back to work (we were working in seperate countries, a long distance love) and a few weeks later I got the call he was in hospital!

This was great storytelling.



billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you so very much, Lawrence. It means a lot to me to hear you say that.

blessings always


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 weeks ago

Bill, I am so glad you are continuing this saga, Max and Kate have become family and you also.

Thank you for that.

Blessings always my friend

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Shyron! I would end this series, but the characters won't let me. :) Blessings to you always.

Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 3 weeks ago from Florida

I like the flashbacks to yesteryear. It gives more depth to this great story! It reminds me of that show I'm enjoying so much on television right now-"This is Us."

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Some day, Missy, this will be a book, provided I live that long. :) Thank you so much!

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