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The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Four

Updated on September 14, 2016

Heading West, Southwest with Max and Katie

Thanks for stepping out of your car and hitting the road with Max and Katie. When we last heard from them they were somewhere in western West Virginia, doing about ten miles per day, heading to an unknown future with the slimmest of hopes.

Let’s find out how they are doing. That’s them up ahead, hurry now, we can catch them if we pick up the pace.

The back roads of winter
The back roads of winter | Source

On the Road

Columbus, Ohio is a cold bastard. Cold temps, cold hearts, no radiating heat, no radiating love, just hassle the homeless, keep them moving, can’t sit there, can’t stop here, move along now, soldier boy, no panhandling, no begging, no dirtying our beautiful city now, son, get a damned job, worthless, hey, baby, twenty bucks for a blow, whatcha say, and we couldn’t get out of there quick enough, following the sixty-two southwest in the general direction of Cincinnati, hopin’ against hope that things will be different there, one foot in front of the other, stomach knotting up something awful, cramps and horses named Charlie, slowing our pace, making each step feel like a sadistic session of acupuncture.

Finally, three days without food, headaches threatening to blow the top of the roof off, we come to a city called Washington Court House, huge stone courthouse anchoring the town, roads branching off from that, four directions, southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast, just off center of normal if you ask me, brick storefronts, four stoplights, Midwest struggle disguised by a postcard setting, first visitor we get, first words out of his mouth, city cop in a black and white, “morning, folks, is there something I can help you with?” he asks, and this time that question seems to stem from genuine concern as he unfurls his six-three from the car, lights flashing in the late afternoon gloom. He looks to be about thirty, probably home grown, local high school football and basketball star, settled here after four years of college and no other prospects or offers, pretty common tale in Midwest, America.

“We’re not looking for a handout,” I tell him. “We’re just passing through trying to find warmer weather. We won’t be no trouble and give us half an hour, we’ll be out of your town.” I can feel Kate’s hand squeeze mine, anxiety building, never know with these small-town cops.

“Well I’m glad you aren’t looking for trouble,” he replies, tilting his hat back and looking up into the pewter sky. “Because neither am I. I can tell you, though, that my church offers hot meals at five each night for the down and out, and no offense meant, but you look like you qualify. Deputy Carter is my name, Josh Carter. And you folks would be?”

“I’m Max. This is Kate,” I tell him, expecting any minute a few more black and whites to pull up, help Josh Carter haul our asses to the county line, or stomp on our grits a bit before jailing us, but none of that happens.

“Max and Kate, is it? Well, we’ll dispense with last names for now. Hop in the back and I’ll take you to that church and get some food in you. Then we can talk again.”

I looked at Kate, raised my eye brow. “What do you think, Katie? Your call.”

She squeezed my hand again and led me to the car.

Take me to church....home for the night
Take me to church....home for the night | Source

Take Me to Church

That song was stuck in my head as we drove along the main street, take me to church, I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies, reminded me of living on the streets, willing to do just about anything for a meal, a warm bed, maybe a shower, God Almighty, Hallelujah, Hallelujah. I must have been humming it cuz’ Kate looked at me and said “Hozier,” and I nodded, and I knew she understood.

Officer Josh Carter pulled up around back of Holy Trinity Church, another stone structure built to withstand the worst winters Ohio could manufacture, and we got out of his cruiser with a mammoth cross hovering overhead and the whispers of mom and dad raining down on me, sit up straight, Max, hush now, son, pray to Jesus and all will be well, and we entered a back door into a kitchen where four or five street folks were sitting down to a meal of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and I gotta tell ya, no meal ever smelled as good, and five minutes later Kate and I were trying real hard not to eat like starved hyenas.

We were just finishing up our meal when Josh Carter set two plates of apple pie down in front of us and then sat his six-three down as well. He looked at Kate, smiled, then at me.

“You look military,” he said. “Am I right?”

I nodded. “How’d you know?”

“I was in myself, five years, and if you’ve put in time it’s hard to miss the signs. It’s the way you walk, your posture, your economy of movement. Where’d you serve, soldier?”

I took a bite of pie. Damned good.

“I saw a lot of sand. No reason to say much more on that topic, is there?”

He was quiet for a spell while Kate and I enjoyed a couple more bites of pie. He looked out the window on the parking lot, but I knew what he saw was the same sand and rocks I see occasionally in a nightmare.

Finally he looked back at us.

“I’ve got a small farm outside of town. Not much, really, a little over one-hundred acres, but it’s big enough, what with this job of mine, and there’s always work needs doing. I guess that’s what I’m offering you two, if you’re interested. A little work. I’ve got fences need mending, a good job for you, Max, and my wife has been sick of late, complications after the birth of our youngest, so she could use a little help around the house, Kate. What do you say? I figure about a week is all I’ll need of you. I don’t have much money to offer, say two-hundred? But I’ll toss in the meals, and you can stay in a heated tack room in the barn. Can you use something like that?”

He wasn’t talking down to us and I appreciated that. There would be no handouts, just a straight exchange, a little money, a little food, and in return, work.

I looked at Kate. Her nod was barely noticeable. I looked back at Josh Carter and stuck out my hand.

“It’s a deal!”

The view of the unknown
The view of the unknown | Source

On the Farm

What I know of farming you can stuff in a thimble, but it turned out I really didn’t need much knowledge, just a strong back, one of which I had. First thing we did when we arrived at the Carter farm was take a shower, feeling the water wash away the sins of the road, giving us hope, making us breathe soft again. Josh had some old clothes that fit me just fine, which he gave to me, me discarding the grimy rags I’d been wearing, and Josh’s wife Linda, a solid woman with a pleasant face, was more than happy to find something for Kate to wear, jeans and flannels, both of us scoring old winter coats. By the time things settled down that night, and Kate and me were stretching our bedrolls over newly-spread hay in the barn, the headaches were gone and hope had filled the gaps where pain once held residence.

In the absolute darkness of the barn, Kate turned over and put her arm across my chest.

“I’ve hooked for money, Max,” she said softly, and I felt, rather than saw, her silent tears.

“We do what we have to do to survive, Katie. No shame in that.”

“Then why do I feel so shameful, Max?”

I had no answer. I’m not sure one was expected.

“Will you hold me through the night, Max?”

I told her it would be my honor to do so.

And it was.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 10 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, this installment left me having some hope for these two yet and can't thank you enough for that this Wednesday. Wishing you a wonderful day ahead now, Bill!! :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Wednesday, Janine, and thank you. There is always hope in my stories. You know that well, I'm sure.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 10 months ago from Central Florida

      Washington Court House, Ohio sounds like a nice town to start a new chapter of life. It seems law enforcement there believes in the motto "to serve and protect". Max and Katie may want to think about setting down roots. Opportunity has extended its arm.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, we'll just have to wait and see. I suspect our duo has wandering feet and a need to keep moving, but who knows for sure? :)

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 10 months ago

      With all that is going on in the world this bit of good luck for Max and Katie was very refreshing. Believe it or not there are still a huge number of truly kind and decent people in this world.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      MIke, I happen to know a few of them. :) They are refreshing for sure and they do give me hope.

      As do you. Thanks, my friend. I'm glad you are still enjoying this series.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 10 months ago from Oklahoma

      Most people are decent most the time. We just tend to remember the ugliness longer.

      Great read!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 10 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Max, in spite of all his troubles, is a proud man. This journey must be devastating for him. He clearly wants to protect Kate and provide for her.

      No vet should ever be put in Max's position.

      But meeting a fellow-man willing to give him a job - even a temporary one - will gave him hope for the future. I just want Max to retain some level of dignity. He deserves that much.

      I'm completely in to this series (as you can tell.)

      Hugs,

      Audrey

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 10 months ago from Missouri

      A little hand up is always better than a hand out. Glad to see something like this taking place for our travelers. Well done Bill.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 10 months ago from Nibiru

      kindness is the key. No matter how cruel the world maybe.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 10 months ago from london

      Nice one. I really like the first paragraph and of course it only got better. This one reminds me of my Poem, It Burns And The Heat Consumes Me. One of my despairing ones.

      Tearful black guy. Things are looking up for Max and Katie. Nice!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 10 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Lovely uplifting story, so true to life and the good things that can happen.

    • Joyce Fischer profile image

      Joyce A Fischer 10 months ago from Thailand

      This chapter is a good break from the downward emotional pull leading up to it. Nice.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a moving chapter, Bill. Washington Court House may provide only a temporary respite for Max and Katie, but I'm glad they've experienced it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I think that's true, Larry! Thanks for pointing that out. I needed that reminder.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I can tell, Audrey, and I love that you are. Thank you!

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mike! I'm glad you are enjoying this couple and their travels.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I couldn't agree more, Clive! Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita! Always leave them wanting more after the first paragraph...that's my mantra when I start a story or chapter.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Blossom! My stories are always about hope.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Joyce....uplifting is necessary in a story like this one.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I figured they needed a break, Alicia, but soon they'll be back on the road. Thanks for traveling with them.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill I think you've restored my confidence in the human race. This story is just simply sweet. Not a handout but a hand up, and the love that God wants us to share with one another.

      Good one my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I'm afraid I'm not there yet, with my confidence restored, but I'm hopeful. :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

      Very well written with a lot of conviction.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Flourish!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What a gift you have Bill, what a gift. Thanks for sharing some with me.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 10 months ago from Dubai

      Happy that Max and Kate got food to eat and a barn to stay. Officer Josh Carter is generous and kind. Looking forward to reading the next chapter.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I greatly appreciate that, Eric...I really do!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you once again, Vellur....we all need someone generous and kind.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 10 months ago from The Caribbean

      Trying to feel myself out there in the cold, and getting a warm break like this. Humility (not shame) with gratitude should be a good mixed potion for a comfortable night's rest.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree with you, Dora. I'm still trying to reach the ultimate level of humility and gratitude, but I do sleep pretty darned well.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 10 months ago from Texas

      I could feel the compassion of Josh and the warmth in the tack room, no thought of tomorrow just the moment at hand.

      A beautiful addition to this story.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 10 months ago from United Kingdom

      It's nice to see Max and Katie got a break from their troubles. A hot meal, a kind gesture, a shower and a warm place to sleep. It takes so little to make us human again. Let's hope it leads to better times.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Shyron! Just warmth and comfort for one night...such a gift for these two.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Let's hope, Zulma, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. :) I can't stand prosperity. LOL

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 10 months ago from United Kingdom

      I'm going to assume that pun was not intended. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Never, Zulma. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 10 months ago

      I just love the ending, simple romantic actions are lovely. I can't wait to see what happens on the farm.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dee! The unspoken can be as powerful as the spoken, as you pointed out.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      A beautiful story, Bill. With all the bad publicity surrounding the police/law enforcement it is good to read of an officer with a humanitarian streak, Deputy Josh Carter. Great stuff.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      John, you nailed it. I wanted a good cop for a change. I'm tired of the negative stories too.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 10 months ago from Northern Ireland

      It's great that there are still some charitable people in this world and I mean that in the best way, not, as Max said, "talking down" to folk but helping them in a way that keeps their dignity.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      So true, Meg. There is far too much "talking down" in a negative way in this world. My stories will always give hope.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 10 months ago from Massachusetts

      Glad to see that Max and Kate have finally caught a break. Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come. Great writing Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, I doubt it will be, Bill. LOL This is not going to be a feel-good story, but it is real.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 10 months ago

      Pleasing chapter, dear friend. One of those where applicable (in my opinion) a popular and famous quotation provides a lasting impression: "Three things will last forever - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love."

      Peace with us.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I couldn't agree more, Michael my friend. Love makes this "world go round."

      blessings and thanks, my friend.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 9 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Peace and tranquility abounds, at least for the night. Loved it!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deb! Sometimes one night is all we can ask for, yes?

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 9 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Someone with a heart. This is how it should be & if I'm not mistaken, a long time ago, I think this might have been a more common thing to do. Taking the time to reach out to a couple of people who look like they're in need.

      The meal, shower and clean clothes were like gifts from the heavens. I do hope this begins a brighter chapter for Max & Katie. We never know when one act of kindness can be the beginning of something special.

      I could hug that police officer!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Sis. When I grew up, cops were not to be feared. They would walk around the shopping districts and stop and talk to you, treating us kids like we were something special....and yes, there was more reaching out and kindness.

      We're dinosaurs, Sis! You know that, right? :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 9 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      I'm back for a second read and more sharing. Did I say I love this story? "I love this story" !!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You did say that, Audrey, but I'm happy to read it again. Thank you dear friend.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 9 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I do love the idea of kind and compassionate law enforcers - what a beautiful example in Josh Carter.

      If nothing else, this peaceful respite will strengthen Max and Katie.

      See you at the next chapter...Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, I believe there are tons of them out there, but they are overshadowed by those few who use excess of force. At least I want to believe that. :)

      love,

      bill

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 9 months ago from Florida

      Lucky! And it's a shame that that's what you are if you run across some nice people without judgments or intentions for harm these days. However, I too like to believe they are still out there. Maybe few and far between, but out there.

      I love Hozier! That song is so good. My favorite song of his is Cherry Wine. It's very beautiful. He puts a lot of depth in his music. A great storyteller through song.

      Again, love your stories of hope!! Thank you for sharing them! :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Missy! I owe you a visit. I see you have a new one. Be there shortly!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      When I first started reading this the first person I thought of was Sly Stallone's character in the movie 'First blood' but then I'm so glad the deputy isn't like that!

      It left me thinking 'there's still good folks around'

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh yes, Lawrence, I firmly believe there are good folks around...and you're one of them. Thank you, sir!

      bill

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 9 months ago from Texas

      Hmmm....I like this chapter. I said I had a personal connection in your last chapter, but I think with this one more so, but for entirely different reasons. In a society of people who love to judge, there are still good people who want to help for the sake of help without any ulterior motives. It's humbling, to say the least.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is humbling, Shannon. My wife, Bev, is one of those people. Her generosity and willingness to help others puts me to shame, quite frankly.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 9 months ago from Northern California, USA

      This chapter left me with teary eyes. I am so happy for Max and Katie. I am glad they found Josh in their path. And that song, "Take Me to Church" caught my interest the very first time I heard it. I remember listening to it repeatedly until I knew it by heart.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marlene. It is a great song, isn't it? And Max and Katie are pretty special to me, so thank you for immediately liking them.

    • jo miller profile image

      jo miller 5 months ago from Tennessee

      When they set the apple pie down in front of them, I almost teared up. Love this story. Every time you publish a new chapter, I come back to pick up the story and read a couple of chapters. Maybe I'll catch up with you some day, or maybe I can buy it when you finish. It would be nice if I had it by my bedside table.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thank you Jo! Maybe one day I'll turn this into a book. Time will tell, my friend.

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