The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Sixteen

Have We Come to the End?

I honestly can’t say, but it’s been one hell of a ride, and I don’t want it to end.

So I’ll leave the door open.

Max is almost home with Katie in tow.

Let’s see what kind of reception they get.

And oh, by the way, Max and Katie want you to know how appreciative they are that all of you traveled with them.

Western Washington comes into view
Western Washington comes into view | Source

REFLECTIONS

“Grilled cheese and hot chocolate.”

“What?” Katie asked.

“The snow outside, reminds me of winters in Seattle when I was growing up. We’d go out sledding, me and my friends, stay out for long hours till we were almost blue and we couldn’t feel our fingers, and then we’d all head over to my house where my mom would have grilled cheese and hot chocolate waiting for us. Those were good times.”

She snuggled closer to me. Shivered a bit. We had just crossed over Snoqualmie Pass, the main thoroughfare connecting eastern and western Washington. We only had about an hour to go before the Seattle skyline came into view.

“I don’t have memories like that, Max.” That’s all she said. In truth, that’s all she had to say.

I let her words hang over us for awhile. The snow on the Pass turned to rain on the west side, not a hard rain, just enough to remind us that winter wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The evergreens stood tall guarding the freeway, snow clinging tenaciously to the branches, and forests slowly gave way to buildings, scattered at first, but then in increasing numbers.

“They’re going to hate me, Max.”

“Not my family, they won’t.”

Lake Sammamish in view
Lake Sammamish in view | Source

The Skyline Appears

We passed Lake Sammamish, losing elevation as we continued, and then the city of Bellevue came into view, getting closer with each mile, Bellevue for a few miles and then Lake Washington and the skyline of Seattle dead ahead, tall and proud, the city of my childhood, the city where all of my good memories resided, and just like that tears were flowing down my cheeks, finding a way through the stubble, washing over me, cleansing me, bathing me in sweet surrender. I held Katie tighter.

“We’re home, Katie,” and even as I said those words I knew their truth. It was my home. It was where I needed to be. Familiar streets, familiar buildings, all came into view then, and memories flooded over me with each old discovery. There was the corner of 8th and James were Tommy Boyd and I sold magazines to finance a basketball tournament for our high school team. There was Smith Tower, an antiquated symbol of Seattle’s past, where my sister and I raced down the stairwell, her falling on the second floor, breaking her arm, Mom so damned pissed at me for not taking better care of my little sister. There was Pike’s Place Market, the street vendors, the tossed salmon, all manner of seafoods available, where Theresa Young and I had our first date, and there was the Space Needle, a lifelong reminder of my first kiss, at its base, Theresa telling me she loved me and always would.

The last I heard Theresa was married to a dentist, had three kids, and was living in Los Angeles, doing well for herself, or so mutual friends said, and I was happy for her, hoped she had a long, productive life.

And then the waltz down Memory Lane was completed and the bus pulled into the Greyhound station, and just as it did the clouds parted and I swear to the Almighty the sun broke through, a cold sun for sure, but the first glimpse of it since that long journey began, and it splashed down on us as we stepped off that bus and there, thirty feet from us, my family stood, Mom, Dad, and sister Jeannie, and all manner of chaos ensued as Jeannie came running at me, all flowing hair and flowing tears, a smile to melt your heart, and literally flew into my arms, me picking her up, twirling her around, her face buried in my neck, our tears mixing, us laughing, and then it was Mom’s turn, her familiar scent embracing me, whispered words that her baby boy was home, praise be, oh how she loved me, thank you God.

And standing close by, waiting his turn, my dad, a smile dominating his rugged features, dressed in a suit, one of the few times I could remember him ever wearing a suit, and as Mom released me my Dad stepped forward, snapped to attention, and saluted me.

“Welcome home, soldier,” he said, and his handshake was firm and his hug firmer still, the strength still there, the ability to make me feel safe, still there, and “I love you” filled the air.

Hi Katie

“Lord Almighty, where are our manners?” my mother said, us still hugging each other, finding nourishment in that physical touch. “And who, Max, is this beautiful woman with you? Lordy, is this the Katie you told me about? Well child, you are much too pretty to be hanging with this boy of mine,” and then it was Katie’s turn to be smothered in hugs and kisses, and she looked pretty confused by it all, overwhelmed really, smiling gamely, trying to keep up with three conversations all going at once, “oh, you’re so pretty,” and “I love your hair,” and “Isn’t she just the most beautiful woman,” and “what in the world are you doing with my brother?”

And Kate was all “pleased to meet you,” and “I hope you don’t mind me barging in” and “thank you so much for the reception,” doing her best to not get swallowed up and drown in all the love pouring forth, and all in all it was pretty damned wonderful.

Home
Home | Source

HOME

It hadn’t changed much, the home of my childhood.

“Painted it last summer,” Dad said, and you could tell he was proud of it, but new paint or not, it was the same home, the type of home that says “welcome, come on in, don’t you worry about taking your shoes off, this home was meant to be lived in,” and walking through the front door it was all there, eighteen years of memories, eighteen years that shaped me, overwhelming really, and Katie took my hand and squeezed, stood up on tiptoes and whispered “it’s all right, Max, there’s love here,” and I knew her words to be true.

And just as I expected, Mom had a big meal waiting, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, my favorite green bean salad, and we all sat down at the table, a family tradition, important matters were always discussed at our dining room table, Mom saying good food made weighty matters a little lighter.

“I suppose,” I said, “you’ll be wanting an explanation why I disappeared for ten years. I’m not sure I can explain. I just…”

“It’s not necessary, Max,” Mom said. “You’re here now and that’s all that matters. In time, if you want, we can talk about it all, but right now, let’s just love each other and give thanks for our blessings. And Katie, if the time comes you ever want to talk about it all, know you’re safe here, and you’re welcome for as long as you can stand us.”

“Maybe you’d change your mind if you knew my background,” Katie said. “I’ve worked the streets for thirteen years now. I’m a homeless hooker, folks. I surely appreciate your hospitality, and I’m pretty sure I’m in love with your son, but bottom line, I’m a hooker. You deserve the truth and I’m tired of hiding from it.” She just blurted it out, couldn’t hold it in any longer, clearing the air early on, looking for reactions.

“Katie, would you like more mashed potatoes?” My dad passed the dish to her, not waiting for her answer. “Do you mind if I tell you a story while we eat?” Katie shook her head.

The Storyteller

“My son there,” Dad said, pointing at me, “and my daughter, both of them, they never knew their Grandpa on my side of the family, my father. Truth is he died in prison while serving life for murder, a murder he committed while robbing a gas station. This was when I was about twelve, I guess, so I grew up as a teen knowing my old man was a thief and a killer. Those were tough times. Me and my older brother, we both worked after school each day, helping our mother with the bills, doing a man’s work to keep food on the table and the lights turned on.

“Anyway, there wasn’t much happiness in our family, and I would go to bed each night promising myself that when I finally got married, I was raising a happy family in a happy home, that I would do whatever it damned well took to make sure there was love in the home, and a feeling that no matter what happens outside of this home, this would always be a safe place.

“That’s my way of saying, Katie, and I know my wife, daughter, and son feel the same, we don’t give a damn what happened in your past. This is your safe place from now on. Now dammit, girl, would you please pass the chicken. I talked myself into an appetite.”

And so It Goes

It’s been a month now since the homecoming.

There are tough days. There are brilliant days. Katie and I are learning to take it all in stride. I’ve gotten a job down on the Ballard docks, my dad coming through with his longshoreman connections. It’s good pay and honest labor.

Katie, she’s working too. My sister Jeannie found her a job as a barista, working right alongside her, about a mile from our home. The tips are great and customers love Katie.

I understand how they feel.

We talked the other night, Katie and me, late at night while laying in bed, the sounds of the house settling all around us. We agreed that Seattle felt right to both of us, that maybe we should stay awhile, let the love wash over us and cleanse us of the past. I’m not sure that’s entirely possible, but I’m willing to give it a go.

THAT’S ALL FOR NOW

There’s’ a lot of healing still left for Katie and Max, but I feel good about leaving them for now.

For now!

They’ve become friends of mine and, in my opinion, friends should stay in touch.

So don’t be surprised if we come back to see how they’re doing in the near future.

Thanks for tagging along.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

More by this Author


Comments 54 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 2 months ago from New York, New York

What a beautiful ending (dare I say), but still got chills in a good way reading. Thanks for sharing, Katie and Max with us, Bill and Happy Wednesday now :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Happy Wednesday, Janine, and thank you for appreciating my story...as I appreciate you. Cold here...22 degrees....brrrr


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Awwww....sigh....I'm not saying, "Good Bye." "Until we meet again," maybe or "Hasta Luego amigos!" Not "Good Bye." Never did like that word, never will.

I could feel the hugs, the love and the warmth of this family, so happy and overwhelmed to see one another after so long. I tasted that delicious dinner of chicken and mashed potatoes! Yes, the perfect comfort foods for just such an occasion.

Wow! I'm so proud of Katy, feeling welcomed and accepted so much so, she came out with the plain, simple fact of her unattractive past. That's the way to do it Katy! Open & honest with a touch of humility, leaving it up to Max's family how they deal with it.

We expected Max's family to be wonderful, loving & salt of the earth folks! Getting to know the depths of Max's heart....he could be from no other kind of family.

Now Katy belonged and was beginning to believe she always had!

We'll see this family again. I have a feeling it's all uphill for quite some time now.....This reader can't stop smiling. Here's to new beginnings!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Sis, you're just an old softie at heart. You can't fool me at all. If you don't watch "This is Us" the drama on television, do so immediately. You will absolutely love it, but you have to watch it from the beginning, if possible.

Love is everywhere, dear friend, and ain't that just the coolest thing? :)

Hugs from a cold Olympia


DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 2 months ago from Northern Ireland

Great ending with a hint of maybe more to come. Love it! They have been through one heck of a journey with the mountains an allegory for the inward struggle, and maybe the difficulties they faced from some people and the love and help from others helping them peek outside the shells they built up from their troubles. And the love they gave to each other, of course, thinking of someone else first is a good way to set your own troubles aside. It all came together without being spelled out! Great story. You said it was on the dark side but it certainly didn't finish there.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 2 months ago from United States

Congrats Bill for your nice work and it is an inspiration to us all. whonu


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

A "thing" that cannot be measured as the possibilities are endless. A "thing" that lives and grows. There is a concept with addiction that holds that abstinence is great but the monster keeps growing even though one is what would be called sober. I think it true.

And the good news is the same holds for love. A chasm between a man and love? Yet the love continues to grow.

Maybe Katy never had it until now. But Max is even better off than when he left the circle of love.

I had to go do some stuff before commenting as I could not see through the tears of joy. Thanks buddy


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 months ago from Southern Illinois

No, you can't stop now! I ' gotta ' know if they got married and if they had kids? Whether there is more, or not, it was a great story that warmed my heart. The family was my kind of people. I loved my journey with Katie and Max...


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England

Love all your work, either your stories or your helpful hubs, wonderful!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Aw, thanks Meg! I'm so happy you followed along and enjoyed the story. I'm sure there will be more to come in a few weeks.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you whonunu! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you, Eric! Tears of joy are my favorite liquid. You pretty much summed up the message in this story...the circle of love, buddy, and you know how I feel about love. :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Ruby, I promise, we'll come back to see Max and Katie soon. I just need to concentrate on some other stuff first and then I'll take you back to Seattle. Thank you so much for always being here.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

That means a lot to me, Nell. Thank you!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 2 months ago

Now this is the ending I was hoping for. Thank you, billy.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

I'm glad, Pop! Thank you!


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 2 months ago from Oklahoma

A great way to break the monotony of grading finals papers.

Always a pleasure:-)


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

Bill, it's been evident how full of love Max is. That's why accidentally killing that innocent child was almost the end of him.

There are so many times Max could have given up on Katie, but he didn't. He is an honorable man with a huge (though heavy) heart. It is no surprise to me that his parents (and sister) are just as you presented them here. I do hope that, someday, you will share a few more chapter of their story together.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

And always a pleasure for me, Larry! Thank you very much.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

Everyone needs a soft place to land. Seems like a very accepting and loving family.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

I'm sure I will return, Linda! I've already done the hard part in writing this book. The rest is gravy! :) Thanks so much!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

It does for sure, Flourish, the kind of family I would gladly have as neighbors.

Thanks so much for following along.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 months ago

This is bitter sweet, thank you Bill, Max and Katie, for this precious story.

I hope it all goes well.

Blessings and hugs my friend.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a very nice ending for Max and Katie, Bill, even if it's not really an ending!


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 months ago from Northern California, USA

Maybe the sun never rises, but surely the sun shines brightly. What a beautiful, love-filled story. Very romantic and adventurous. I enjoyed the ending, but would love to hear from Max and Katie again. But, if I don't, at least they left memories for me to cherish forever. (sigh)


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

A most satisfying closure at this point for a beautiful couple - loved it Bill.

Looking forward to your next series and wishing you a Happy Thursday.

Love, Maria


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you so very much, Shyron! Bittersweet for sure.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Linda! I suspect there is more coming. I'm not ready to say goodbye to these folks.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

That's very sweet of you to say, Marlene. I thank you, Katie thanks you, and Max thanks you.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Happy Thursday, Maria. Next series? I don't have one in mind yet, but I trust my muse. Soon I'm sure.

love,

bill


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 months ago from Dubai

All is well, Katie and Max are at home, a great place to be among loved ones. Enjoyed reading and well maybe I will get to read about them in the near future.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 months ago from The Caribbean

The waltz down memory lane is a puller, but your Dad's welcome for Kate and the stories they both told tugged at my tears. This episode is great for a fireside family get together. So well done!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Vellur, thank you so much for following along. You are appreciated greatly.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you so much, Dora! I figured we needed a feel good ending with the holidays upon us. So glad you enjoyed it.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 2 months ago from Riga, Latvia

Applause. A most wonderful ending with love, hope and promise.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Aw, thanks a lot, Rasma! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.


phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 2 months ago from United Kingdom

Thank you, Bill. You most definitely did not disappoint. I think I understand why Max waited so long to return. I think he needed to find himself first. I don't think he could have done so at home because he would have tried to become the person he was before. After all he had been through, I doubt he could have. Chances are he would never have met Katie either. He might have married a hometown girl but the marriage would have ended in divorce. He returned home, at last, because, whether he knew it or not, he was ready. I wish Max, Katie and the whole family all the best. Let's hear from them soon.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Zulma, thanks for your thoughts. I happen to agree with them...and you'll be hearing from them again real soon. :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 months ago from Central Florida

I have a huge lump in my throat! I could feel the love the moment Max and Katie stepped off the bus.

I was a little surprised that Katie blurted out her past so soon. Poor girl, she really doesn't think much of herself, does she? I'm sure she'll learn to forgive herself and see herself as others see her. Max and Katie are wise to have come home. I hope they plant roots there. They certainly have a good foundation.

Loved the journey, Bill. I hope you allow us to peek in on Max and Katie from time to time.


Michael-Milec profile image

Michael-Milec 2 months ago

We are introduced to a bestseller in a near future. Someone mentioned it, and I cast my ballot. Max and Katie are forerunners of the modern day constant search for the answer for genuine 'repentance .' No,no, no - nothing 'religious' -it's just being sincere with themselves and TURNAROUND, (180 degree) leaving a wrong direction and comming back to roots. To the father's house where the all good things has originated.

Blessed day.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Sha! I think Katie blurted it out because she was afraid to form a relationship with this family without the truth being right there for all to see. Maybe it was an early test to see if they could truly love who she is. :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Michael my friend, your faith in me is refreshing and appreciated. Some day, perhaps, Katie and Max will find themselves in a full-length novel. Only time will tell, dear friend.

Thank you and blessings always


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 8 weeks ago from Florida

Wonderful!! I am always in awe when I read your stories, Bill. I take so much from them. A lot of realizations that I hope others do too as they read. I see all those sayings we all have heard through our time growing up like: Everything happens for a reason, or God puts everyone on the path that will lead them to their destiny. I think he does, but I think it is up to us to find all the silver linings he puts in place along the low parts of the journey. If we miss those, we lose the beauty of life and the appreciation for all the simple things. We miss love!

Max had to endure his war, and Katie hers, because Max needed to bring Katie to what love feels like, and Katie needed to bring Max back to life, so he could remember what it felt like. It all works out in the end if you have faith!!

Blessings my friend!! Happy New Year!!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 8 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Missy, thank you, Happy New Year to you, and blessings always. As for my stories, I was a sucker for the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie when I was younger. I loved stories about love and the bond of family....mix that with lessons learned the hard way, and we have an odd combination of the dark and the hopeful, all rolled up into stories about normal people. I'm so happy that you enjoy them.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 8 weeks ago from Texas

I like this chapter. Perfect way to enjoy an after dinner treat. And a nice break from the rather heavy novel I've been reading. The book cover said it was supposed to be humorous, but so far, I haven't found a lot of real humor in it and I'm about half way through. . .Don't really know why I just said that, though. Your chapter here isn't filled with humor either nor was I expecting it. . .What can I say? I'm a strange one. My point is simply that this a heartwarming story.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 8 weeks ago from Florida

Little House on the Prairie was my favorite. I never missed an episode. I also enjoyed The Waltons up there on Walton Mountain. Those shows were the best! Laura Ingalls was my favorite. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. No joke! :) If your family was like mine back then, we would sometimes at night yell our good nights to each other adding another family member "John Boy" because it wouldn't have been as much fun if we didn't mention him. Lol

I do enjoy your stories, Bill. They warm my heart in the same way those television shows did when I was young. Thank you.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

I can live with heartwarming, Shannon! I readily admit that few of my stories could ever be described as humorous. LOL And I rather enjoy strange people, so no wonder you and I get along. :) Thank you!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

And I thank you, Missy! That is a high compliment that warms my heart as well.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 7 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Bill

A great way to leave they story, not with a 'goodbye' but a 'see ya later'

Lawrence


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Lawrence! This is a story I really don't want to have end. I guess it's up to me now, isn't it? :)

bill


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 7 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Bill

I think there's a sense in which it doesn't, yes they've travelled the physical miles, but there's the emotional and mental side of things as well, the learning to deal with the 'everyday' stuff we all take for granted!

Example, how does Max deal with fireworks on 4th July?

Keep us informed:-)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Great question, Lawrence, one only a soldier would ask. Thanks my friend. I have the feeling we are going to find out how he does on that holiday.

Blessings always

bill


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 7 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Bill

Twenty years have passed, and I still don't enjoy fireworks! It's been thirty years since I had to worry about cars backfiring, yet I still jump when I hear it!

Glad I could help

Lawrence


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Really, Lawrence, when you say that, it is both unbelievable and perfectly logical. Those of us who have not served have no clue what it was like for those of you who did.

bill

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