The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Twenty-Five


So, Max popped the big question to Katie and, of course, she said yes.

The long, improbable journey that these two individuals began, many months ago in Pittsburgh, is reaching an end, and a new life, a life of “us,” is beginning.

It began on a bitterly cold morning in Steel Town, a morning that had us all wondering if the sun ever does rise on the homeless, the abuse victims, those suffering from PTSD, and those just lost in their own minds.

And now here they are, on a dazzling August day in Seattle, three-thousand miles and countless nightmares removed from those fateful first steps.

It’s been one hell of a journey!

Thanks for coming along!

Leaving home for an adventure
Leaving home for an adventure | Source

Morning Has Broken

No nightmares! That’s the first thing I thought of as I opened my eyes and heard the squirrels chattering away about their morning . . . I hadn’t had any nightmares.

I turned my head and saw the wild fan of red hair spread across the pillow, the elegant neck, the snow-white shoulders, her breathing soft and steady, drumming a soft rhythm of contentment. I draped an arm over her, kissed that inviting neck, and whispered in her ear.

“It’s our wedding day, Katie!”

And I was given the first wedding gift of the day.

An hour later we were both showered and trying to be quiet in the kitchen, cracking eggs, sizzling bacon, toast popping up in need of butter, coffee dripping, the smells drifting down the hallways, up the stairs, footsteps approaching, yawns and kisses from Mom, Dad, and Sister Jeannie, tired smiles, loving smiles, the smiles that keep me upright and in touch with a reality I so desperately want.

“We want to leave here by ten, right?” Dad asked.

“That should give us enough time,” I told everyone. “We don’t want to have to rush. A nice, casual stroll in the sunshine sounds damned nice to me.”

And so it was that at ten that morning, the twenty-ninth day of August, two-thousand-sixteen, the five of us left the home of my childhood and started out on our journey.

Picking up Father Patrick on the way
Picking up Father Patrick on the way | Source

Picking up Friends As We Go

The first stop was “Perfect Cup,” the place Jeannie and Katie work. The manager, Jo, saw us coming, flipped the sign on the door, closed up shop, and she and the two employees walked out to join us.

“It’s a great day for it,” Jo told us, kissing Katie and Jeannie.

A half-mile north the church came into view, it’s stone steeple rising above the Ballard neighborhood, its cross beckoning to lost souls. Father Patrick was sitting on the front steps waiting for us. He slowly pushed himself up, doffed his hat, and smiled that smile I’ve known since I was an altar boy many years ago.

“Top of the morning to you all,” he said, Bible cupped in his hand, the white chasuble draped over his frail body. “Can you hear them?”

“Hear what, Father?” my mother asked.

“The angels, my dear. They’re singing up a heavenly storm this morning.”

Three blocks south we went, to the park where my CYO team was waiting in uniform, tossing balls, laughing, being kids, shouting out “Morning, Father Patrick,” and “Last chance to run, Max,” and I hugged them all, not ashamed of the tears, feeling fully alive for the first time in a decade, the sun warming up, a soft breeze caressing our growing party, smiles overcoming all concerns, past and present.

Turning Towards Town

Aurora Avenue pointed straight and true to downtown Seattle, the city spread out before us, an urban jewel on the shores of Elliott Bay, the bluest skies you’ve ever seen, green waters sparkling, our party growing as we walked, shouting out to people in their yards, to people on the streets, “Come join us, wedding day, all are invited,” and I’ll be damned if some didn’t join us, our little group totaling fifteen, then twenty, twenty-five and by the time we reached the area around the Space Needle we had over fifty, some friends, some complete strangers, all coming together, black and white, brown, yellow, old, young, healthy and hanging on by a thread, and then it really grew, downtown bustling with people, going about the business of life, and quite a few just curious enough about our mission, joining us as we walked along Second Avenue, a crowd of over one-hundred and God Almighty it was joyous.

The Second Street Mission is a non-descript building in a part of Seattle experiencing gentrification, dwarfed by new high-rises, an old brick throwback to an earlier Seattle, the only hint at its purpose a neon cross in the window. Into the Mission we filed, Brother Thomas welcoming us, leading us all to the auditorium in back, the room barely big enough to handle the surging crowd, the air suddenly heating up in that cramped room, sweat breaking out on my brow.

“Are you sweating because you’re having doubts, soldier?” Katie asked me, smiling that smile, weakening my knees, squeezing my hand and my heart.

I kissed her. It was the only answer she needed. She looked into my eyes, searching for the demons, wondering if they were going to surface, but I just shook my head and relieved her of such thoughts.

The end of one journey, the beginning of a new one
The end of one journey, the beginning of a new one | Source

And so It Begins

“Friends,” Father Patrick began. “We are here to celebrate the union of Max and Katie. I’ve known Max since he was a squirming little bundle of diarrhea, and I’ve known Katie long enough to know that Max just won life’s lottery. May the saints forgive me this morning, but I’m going to dispense with the regular Catholic ceremony and simply ask you all to hold hands with the people to your left and right. Go on now, they won’t bite, reach out and connect with one another.”

Hesitant at first, but not willing to break the gloriousness of the moment, all of our guests did as instructed. The old man continued.

“Love fills this room. Love fills out hearts. Love has the power to heal old wounds, and love has the power to shed light on the darkest of personalities. So it was the day these two were born, and so it shall be for the remainder of their lives.

“The journey was not easy for them. They stumbled along the way, as we all do. They fought back great legions of doubters and the unforgiving, haters and the uncaring. And when those battles had ended they took on the greatest opponent they had ever faced . . . themselves . . . and they stand before you, today, two united into one, unbeaten, unbowed, and completely focused on the only thing that really matters in this life . . . love!

“Katie, do you love Max?”

“Yes, Father, with all my heart.”

“Max, do you love Katie?”

“Yes, Father, with all my heart.”

“Then I pronounce you man and wife, partners on a new journey. May the road ahead always bask in the warmth of the sun, and may that sun never set.

“May God bless you both!”

A New Journey

It’s been a little over five months since we shared our “I dos” in the Mission.

The demons still visit us both, from time to time, but not as often, and when they do they lack the power they once had.

Dad is recovering from that heart attack he had. It forced him to retire, but that just gave him time to help me with the CYO teams. I think he’s happy with the tradeoff.

Jeannie found a guy. Pretty good guy, as a matter of fact. He has no choice, really. If he doesn’t treat my sister with respect, and give her all the love she deserves, I’ll snap his neck. Just kidding . . . barely!

Mom is busy as ever helping out at the church, but the bulk of her time is spent on her new business.

She invested money she was saving over the years and bought the “Perfect Cup.” Now her, Jeannie, and Katie work together in a family enterprise.

Me? I wake up every morning to the sight of wild red hair splayed over the pillow, and every morning I kiss that chalk-white neck and place my hand over that beating heart and silently scream to the banshees that they are not allowed to invade our haven of love.

The power of love, baby! So far it’s been enough.


Yep, one hell of a ride. I offer no apologies for the feel-good, fairytale ending. Every once in awhile we all need a “feel good” story, and this is mine.

May love always be your guiding star.

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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Comments 38 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 13 days ago from New York, New York

I couldn't agree more and thank you for this fairy tale ending here on this cold, February Friday morning. Now wishing you a great rest of the day and wonderful weekend ahead, as well Bill!! :)

always exploring profile image

always exploring 13 days ago from Southern Illinois

Perfect ending, or should I say beginning? I loved the informal wedding and the whole town joining in. I will miss Max and Katie, but they're going to be ok. Love is a beautiful thing, and your writing is so enjoyable to read. Thank you for sharing this story with us. Hugs...

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Janine and my goodness, stay safe and warm out there on Long Island. Happy Weekend to you.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Aw, thank you, Ruby! I'm so happy you followed along and enjoyed it. Have a superb weekend, my friend.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 13 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Bill, I was not suffering from lack of love this morning, far from it. So I reckon my heart was full. And then you just added more to it. There, the spill over which already went through my tear ducts, will be liberally shared today. If the preacher man's job, as you and I agree, is to spread love then you gave one hell of a sermon today.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 13 days ago from Washington State, USA

Bill, we need a few more "feel good" stories in our lives. Everywhere we turn it seems there is more and more sadness and anger and despair. Thank you for a perfect ending. I'll miss Max and Katie, but I know they are safe and surrounded with love.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Eric, YOU DA MAN! We may never meet, but we are brothers nonetheless. Thank you my friend. Keep spreading the message.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Linda! Katie and Max may reappear in book form one of these days, provided I live long enough to finish the project.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 13 days ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

The fabulous aroma of that breakfast being made~~bacon, coffee....MMM, bro, that's a sure way to pull me in. How much happiness & excitement can we take??

The special morning we've been looking forward to is here. All attention on Max & Katy & increasing joy as we walked along to the marriage of the year! Spreading contagious LOVE everywhere,

I can't think of another thing I'd rather have done this morning! My heart sings for this amazing couple. Thank you so much, bill for today's light heart & 24-hour smile! Peace & Hugs, Sis

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Peace and hugs coming back atcha, Sis! I wanted a feel good story without death and mayhem, and I delivered. Now on to the next project.

Stay safe and warm, my dear friend.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 13 days ago from Oklahoma

Sometimes it's good to feel good:-)

Great read.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

For sure, Larry! I thank you, friend!

RoadMonkey profile image

RoadMonkey 13 days ago

Great ending to this chapter of their story. I daren't ask whether it is THE end because last time it kept rolling on its glorious way and who knows? Katie and Max may just keep talking to you.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 13 days ago from California Gold Country

Great ending. Though I have not commented a lot (thought you had enough feedback), I enjoyed your novel very much. Let us know when it hits the shelves so we can recommend it

Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 13 days ago from Canada

I love happy endings...thank you Bill!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 13 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

I love the feel-good ending, Bill. This was how I wanted the story to end. It's great that Max and Katie found happiness after their difficult experiences.

Vellur profile image

Vellur 12 days ago from Dubai

I love a happy ending, enjoyed reading. Happily married together forever!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 12 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

We just never know, RoadMonkey. We may see Katie and Max again in the near future. Thank you for following along.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 12 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you, Rochelle! I greatly appreciate you following the story.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 12 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

My pleasure, Kaili, and thank you for the visit.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 12 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

We can all rejoice with them, Linda, and that is a win-win for us all. Thank you my friend.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 12 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Forever, Vellur....that has a nice sound to it, doesn't it? :) Thank you!

Genna East profile image

Genna East 12 days ago from Massachusetts, USA

Oh, Bill, I can't imagine a more perfect ending to this chapter and series. Whenever I find myself missing Max and Katie -- and need an occasional reminder of the power of two of my favorite words in the English language: love, and possibilities -- I will click on over to "The Sun Never Rises." Thank you!

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 12 days ago

No apologies necessary. In life there really are fairytale endings.

Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 12 days ago from Brazil

Oh thank goodness, I don't like stories which don't have a happy ending. I am sure this is from growing up watching The Wonderful World of Disney.

Through all their ups and downs, they finally arrived where they were meant to be in their lives. I'm pleased that two broken people can find each other and be healed through love.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 11 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

We all deserve a 'happily ever after' life story, dear Bill.

What a journey...Max and Kate et al will always be a part of my life thanks to you - will look forward to adding to my library once you've published this timeless story.

Valentine's week is a perfect time for this gift of love. Love, Maria

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 11 days ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

Fairy tale endings are good. Just because 90% of mine end in some sort of train wreck doesn't mean I don't enjoy the feel good moments. This has been quite a story along the way, Bill. I haven't caught every installment, but enough to get attached to these people.....and that's what you made them, people, not characters in a story. Thanks for your persistence in seeing this one through.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you, Genna! I think I loved this story as much as all of you. Blessings always, Genna!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

There sure are, Pop! Thanks a bunch for following along.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Mary! I hate sad endings as well, so no way were these two not going to be happy. LOL Thank you for always being here.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

And my love to you, Maria, and my are one of the special people.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Hey, thanks, Chris! I really appreciate hearing that...I'm on my way to your latest now.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 days ago from The Caribbean

Bill, I love this. The wedding procession and the marriage ceremony are unique and among the best I've ever experienced. Experienced because I was there with moist eyes even. True, we need this feel-good touch every now and then. Thank you.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 10 days ago from USA

Definitely a new beginning. Nice conclusion here, Bill.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 9 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Aw, thank you Dora! I wanted it special and unusual for them, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 9 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you for being there every step of the way, Flourish!

Michael-Milec profile image

Michael-Milec 3 days ago

Bill dear, If your writing of this series caused you as much joy and pleasure of triumphing love in every situation in life of Max and Katie as did to me reading it, let me assure you my friend, you have sown a good seed of sustaining love into the heart of each of your readers. Blessings to you for that.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Michael my friend, those are kind words, which will fuel me throughout the day. Thank you, sir, and may blessings follow you today and always.

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