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The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Fifteen

Updated on November 30, 2016

We’re Getting Close Now

Not that far to go for Katie and Max. They asked me to thank you for your loyal following, and so consider this a “thank you” from the three of us.

The bus is in Washington State now. One final obstacle to do, the Cascade Mountains, and then a new life awaits them.

What will that life look like?

From mountains to flat land
From mountains to flat land | Source

Back on the Bus

We crossed over the Fourth of July Pass in the early morning as the gray horizon spread east to west. Heavy snow on the Pass stopped abruptly as the City of Coeur d’ Alene spread out before us, then behind us, the snow tapering to showers, the showers tapering to a mist, and then stopping as we crossed the border into Washington State, the Rockies behind us, giving way to the flatness of Washington farmland reaching for the Pacific.

Katie slept with her head on my shoulder, snuggled close, the bus’s heater working overtime to stave off the drafts of a tired and battle-scarred Greyhound. Spokane, Cheney, Medical Lake, Sprague, town names meaningless to her passed by as the lighter shades of gray illuminated large farms, new red barns contrasting with the weather-beaten, shiny John Deere’s contrasting with rusted remnants, the old and the new, the restored and the abandoned, roads leading off in perpendicular fashion from the I-90, leading off to farmers and farmhands, early morning breakfasts before teeth-rattling days, the way it is, the way it always was in this tabletop country.

“How much longer now, Max?” she asked me, stretching her arms, working out a kink in her neck, her curly red hair brushing against my face.

“Maybe six hours, Katie. More likely seven. Never know with Snoqualmie Pass how bad the weather will be there; it usually means delays this time of year. But we’re getting closer for sure.”

“It looks like the Plains States, Max.”

“Yep, but it will change once we cross the Cascades. Then it will be green as far as you can see, green reaching its hand to the ocean, the evergreens kissed by swift rivers and hugged by crystal-blue lakes, a different world from this for sure.”

The bus driver told us about an hour stop in Moses Lake, a little over an hour away, time enough for breakfast for those interested. Katie was watchful, and quiet, letting the tires make the only sound in our little world.

“I’m worried your family won’t accept me, Max. I doubt they’re accustomed to sharing a table with a hooker.”

The Cascades rise up in the distance
The Cascades rise up in the distance | Source

More Miles in the Rearview Mirror

She was quiet as Washington continued to lighten, the hidden sun doing just enough to beat back the darkness. A good half-hour before she spoke again.

“I was twelve the first time he came to me in the night, Max. What could I do? I’ve asked myself that question for twenty years now. He was stronger. Told me he loved me, loved my mother, wanted to show me how much he loved me, but love like that should never happen, Max, his lips pressing down hard, his body so heavy, his hands, God, his hands, taking everything away from me, and afterwards him telling me he’d kill my mother if I told, kill her dead, and how would I like it if that happened?

“But I did tell my mother, Max, I was scared, and mothers protect their daughters, don’t they, somewhere in this world that happens, doesn’t it, Max? Doesn’t it? Not my mother, though. She didn’t believe me, called me a calculating little bitch, told me I was jealous of my step-father, told me to hush now with the lies or I could just leave her house. Her house? Her house?”

The tears were flowing silently for my Princess Kate, and I did what I could, I draped an arm over her, held her tight, gave her whatever false comfort those actions provide.

“By thirteen I was hooking, and you know what, Max? I liked it. I liked the fact that I had the power over men, and I learned to shut it all off internally. I went outside myself, you know, and I could watch it all unfold, with each one of them, but not feel a thing, and I laughed at every one of them, laughed at their weaknesses, even managed to convince myself that I was better than them in some twisted way.

“But I’m not better than them, Max. I’m a hooker, and your family is going to hate me.”

I held her tighter, let the quiet spread over us, carefully chose my words, for they just had to be the right ones.

Max’s Mother

We were about ten minutes out of Moses Lake when I finally spoke to her concerns.

“My mother, all the while I was growing up, once a week she would drive south to the city of Tacoma, doing what she called her ‘volunteer work,’ cooking and serving meals in the kitchen at Remann Hall, a sort of prison for kids. Every Wednesday morning she would make the sixty-mile drive south, help the kitchen staff, serve the meals, and then, while the kids were eating their meals, she would sit and talk to them, some of them ten, some fifteen, all there for burglary, sexual assault, crimes against society, incorrigibles they were called, putting in their time before being released, many of them immediately returning to the streets to more criminal activity. And every Wednesday night at dinner she would tell me, dad, and sister Jeannie about her day, how she loved all those kids, many of whom never had anyone love them, and how she wished she could take them all home and show them the power of forgiveness and love.

“My family won’t hate you, Katie. My family is going to show you the power of love, and teach you how to forgive yourself.”

Approaching the Cascades
Approaching the Cascades | Source

After Breakfast

We had eggs and bacon in Moses Lake, then back on the bus, passing more farmland, the land brown, free of snow, the sky a lighter shade of gray, we crossed over the Columbia River, a huge gorge reaching north and south, then rose up to another tabletop of land and in the far distance, a hint of elevation, a smudge of the Cascades in view, the last physical obstacle in front of us.

I smiled. The pull of home was strong as familiarity settled into my mind, and I felt my breathing slow and the tension leave my shoulders. Katie must have sensed the change in me for she squeezed my hand and kissed my stubbly cheek.

“I don’t know if I can remember how to be me, Katie. My family is expecting Max of ten years ago. I don’t remember that guy, don’t know if I can call him up and have him make an appearance tonight,” and my words hovered there, in that bus, and rode with us as Ellensburg finally came into view and the Cascades were no longer a hint but the real thing.

“Did you ever meet Sailor Pete, Max? He used to hang out near the Mission in Pittsburgh, a real character with his sailor hat and always singing ‘Anchors Away?”

I nodded. Anyone on the streets of Pittsburgh would know Sailor Pete.

“Do you remember what Sailor Pete would always say, to anyone who would listen, no matter what the circumstance or no matter what you asked him?”

I nodded again, and smiled as I thought of the old man with the white cap, teeth long gone, a tattoo that said “Marilyn” on his left bicep.

“What did he say, Max? Tell me what Sailor Pete always said.”

“He always said ‘trust in your ship, boys, if she’s been built with loving care.’”

She squeezed my hand again.

“That’s right, Max, and you need to trust in your ship. It was built with loving care.”

Seattle Is in Sight

One more leg to the trip, my friends, and then Katie and Max will be safe. Relax, now, I won’t let any harm befall them, not this close to home.

See you next week?

I hope so.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 7 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, cannot wait for the last leg now and this was a great teas though to get us there. Happy Wednesday now to you, Bill! :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      that's me, Janine, just a big old tease. :) Thanks, always, Janine, for your friendship, and Happy Wednesday to you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      No one that I have ever read can express the love you do. Try as I might I just cannot relay inner peace and love as you do. But alas I get to read your work, and continue on my quest. Thank you buddy you awaken my soul.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 7 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Max and Katy may feel a mixture of relief and excitement to be so close to Max's family, which represents the last leg of their trek from start to destination. While your readers can share this joy with them, you've given us reason to see beyond that destination, to what each of us individually may imagine for these 2 beautiful human beings.

      This may just be your special gift to us, Bill. You guided us thus far and now you unselfishly put Max & Katy's future in our hands. Your readers can feel honored that you trust us to create for this amazing couple, a life deserving of their strength in survival, the redemption of forgiveness & limitless hope for all their tomorrows.

      Their happiness and determination can also be ours, as they remain in our hearts for a very long time. The end of your story is in reality, a new beginning for us all to embrace. Thank you Bill......Sis

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 7 months ago from California

      Great story as usual. Thanks for share.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 7 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was a special addition to Max and Katie's journey home. Katie's story was sad, maybe she will learn to forgive her mother, but most importantly, herself. I look forward to reading each episode of your story. Your writing is so real...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      So kind of you, Eric. Thank you very much, my friend. That means a great deal to me, Eric.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Sis, I have tears in my eyes. I did all that? :) Of course I thank you. I know you'll understand me when I say I love the storytellers in the world, the ones who entertain us, and take us to special places, and allow us to see special events, and in their telling we find a way to transport into the story, and witness it up close and personal. A storyteller is a magical person, Sis. That's what I want to be, and your comment makes be think I might be getting closer to my goal.

      Hugs from your Bro in Olympia

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thanks a bunch, Norlawrence!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Ruby! One more chapter...maybe two. I'll miss Max and Katie. :)

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 7 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Another great chapter. Lovely descriptions of coming through the mountains, views I will never see, so can enjoy through your words. Katie and Max are coming through their own mountains too, let's hope the plains will be green and sunny for them too.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Max and Katie still have one mountain to conquer, and that is the act of putting the past behind them , feeling worthy of the love I am sure Mom and Dad will extend to them. This has been a wonderful story of love and redemption. I look forward to the final chapter, but I will miss hearing from Max and Katie each week.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 7 months ago from Oklahoma

      I to am saddened by the idea of this tale coming to an end. But I am so glad for the chance at reading it.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 7 months ago

      I sense the end is near, at least for this great story. Thanks for sharing your time and talent with us Bill. I have enjoyed this series.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 7 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I really enjoyed this leg of the trip. It is peaceful. Home is in sight and I hope they make it safely.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I think, Meg, I can promise that they will be. Thank you for following along.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I'll miss these characters as well but perhaps they will return, one day, in book form.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really appreciate that, Larry. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mike! It lasted quite awhile for a writing exercise, didn't it? :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I can assure you, Marlene, that they will be safe and sound when they get off that bus in Seattle. Thanks for riding along with them. They found you to be excellent company.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 7 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Yeah, right bro! You are one of those storytellers in the world, you speak of, whom we all love.....That's what I've been telling you all along!.....

      Getting closer to your goal? I could see you were well beyond your goal, when I picked up Tobias. You done past that goal like a Nascar driver, dude!.....We can call you the "Roadrunner"....Beep Beep!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 months ago from California Gold Country

      AW, this is getting better and better in it's resolution. I appreciate your description of the landscape.. you have done it truly. I have traveled in these parts many times.

      This brings up an idea I have thought about in fiction writing. Your reader will know if you are describing the place truly. I do not read a lot of fiction, but one of my favorite fiction writers is Sue Grafton. I like the mystery genre, but she writes so well about so many places I have lived, that it always gets the mental visuals going.

      You seem to do this so well--- but it even works for places I have never been. You do have a gift to share. I wish you more and more success in creating your slices of life.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, Katie's revelation is a powerful pull just before the end of the story. You make sure that (if we hadn't already) we love and accept her as much as she deserves. Hope we get to see Max's family embrace her.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's been an interesting and challenging journey, but Max and Katie deserve some happiness now. I'm looking forward to the last chapter of the story.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 7 months ago from Texas

      Bill, I am so glad are so close to Max’s home town and his family, a reprieve of hope from life on the street, I just hope it can last.

      Blessings my friend as always

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 7 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      Cannot wait till the reach their destination.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL, one of my favorite cartoons, Sis! Beep Beep back atcha! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Rochelle, that is so nice of you to say. Thank you so very much. I, too, love Grafton. Thanks for reminding me of her. I have about ten of her alphabet mysteries still to read.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I think all will end well, Dora, and I thank you for the kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      As am I, Linda! Thank you so much for always being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's always the worry, Shyron, but I suspect all will end well. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      500 miles to go, Rasma! I think they'll make it just fine. :) Thank you!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 7 months ago from United Kingdom

      I agree with Katie. His parents, Mom, in particular, built their ship, their family, with love. So much love in fact, that she had to share the overflow with those in need of it. Like those children, her boy did what he had to do to survive. Like those children, he did things he wasn't proud of, things that stalk his waking moments and hound his dreams. I think Mom will understand and help both Max and Katie heal themselves.

      I so want to see that happen. I know you won't disappoint.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The build-up demands that I don't disappoint, Zulma. Thanks for reading my mind with your summation. Now on to the finale!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 7 months ago from Dubai

      Max's mother is sweet, kind and generous and will welcome Katie into their family with open arms. Looking forward to a happy ending. Enjoyed the journey.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vellur. Max and Katie are very appreciative that you walked and rode along with them.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 7 months ago

      Something very precious: unforgettable memories of early age growing in the home where the loving family atmosphere always warming the heart. Max's gentle answers has assured Katie importance of forgiving to ourselves as well as the others while forgetting though never in totality, will bring up rather good memories than those of sad past. Seemingly Katie has been assured of her future life won't be effected by the pain and hurts of previoius experiences she is now leaving behind. You are reminding your readers my friend, of a far reaching Mom's and Dad's sentiment is accompanying Max (children in general) throughout a difficult life's stormy times they sometimes choose to go through, yet in back of their mind there is that open arm of loving father welcoming the long lost son home again.

      Great story and powerful message.

      Peace.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, I could not summarize the message any better myself. Thank you so much for seeing through this story to the higher message. You are a good man.

      blessings always

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 7 months ago

      I was really feeling Katie's sharing on her relationship with her mother. Heartbreaking. I hope her future holds healing and moving forward with hope.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      All will be well, Dee. Thank you for taking the journey with them. They appreciate the company.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 7 months ago from Central Florida

      The anticipation is killing me, Bill! I'm looking forward to the reunion. I know I won't be disappointed!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't think you will be, Sha. At least I hope not. :) Thanks for being here.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 7 months ago from Florida

      This was a warm story to read on this cold night here in North Florida. I really love how these two characters encourage each other through their past negatives. The section I liked most is when Max told Katie about his mom helping with troubled kids. I suspect Katie will be welcomed into this family with open arms and caring hearts.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      She is for sure, Missy. This is slightly autobiographical, in honor of my mother...so thanks, Mom, wherever you are. :) And thank you, MIssy!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Thoroughly enjoyed this read, I even put down a John Le Carre book to join Max and Kate, I'm glad I did.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, that is high praise for sure. Thank you so much, and a Happy New Year to you.

      bill

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