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The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Ten

Updated on October 26, 2016

Rocky Mountain High

Thanks for returning as our homeless couple, Katie and Max, are dropped off in Denver, Colorado, slowly, painfully, persistently making their way west. Our story picks up on a snowy afternoon in the Mile High city, and it does not pick up on a positive note.

Shall we?

Rocky Mountain High
Rocky Mountain High | Source

Three Hours

Three hours!

That’s the amount of time it took for us to get arrested for vagrancy in Denver.

Sister Agnes dropped us off, midday, at Commons Park along the banks of the South Platte River, the river just a trickle that day, the trees stripped of their leaves, random snowflakes escaping the suffocating clouds, the air brittle and tasting of grit. A city marching to the tune of commerce all around us, clogging the air with the din of progress, it made us immediately long for the open road we had just left. The kind nun wished us well, told us to march with God, and then pulled away, quickly engulfed by hundreds of taillights.

Three hours! Forty minutes enjoying coffee at a McDonalds, and two hours and change walking the streets, looking for a sign, any sign, that would call to us in our language.

“There’s not much here for us, is there, Max?” Katie said to me as she and I sat down on the sidewalk on Sixteenth, ambulances provided background music.

“Just a signpost, Katie, a way of marking off progress, getting our bearings, and choosing the next destination. From the looks of it, we’ve got two choices. We can follow the Seventy west, southwest, into Utah, or we can take the Twenty-Five north into Wyoming and then northwest from there. I’m thinking Wyoming. I just don’t think we’ll be too welcome in Mormon Country, but then I could be completely mistaken. What do you think?”

Before she could answer we heard the familiar whoop of the cop siren as a black-and-white pulled to the curb just ahead of us. A tall drink of water in a department-issued winter parka unfurled himself from the driver’s seat, said “good afternoon, folks,” and followed that up with “assume the position while I pat you two down, please,” and the please had no warmth in it at all.

No vagrancy!
No vagrancy! | Source

City Ordinances

Slightly taller than me, bulky, our new law enforcement friend probably played football locally, washed out with an injury, and turned to law enforcement. He looked to be five or six years north of college age, a pleasant enough face, not yet chiseled down by the life of a cop, and he had one of those bodies that would turn to seed and balloon to two-eighty in about ten years. I’d seen enough of them in the army, country boys with no sense of good nutrition, and completely lost after the last pass and tackle of their football lives.

“We’ve got a city ordinance in Denver, folks,” he told us after checking our I.D.s “There’s no sitting on sidewalks from seven a.m. to five p.m.”

“So, Officer,” I said. “You’re telling me if the mayor of your fine city decided to take a break and sit down on a sidewalk, he’d be frisked by you as well, or is this ordinance pretty specific about certain types of people?” I could feel Katie’s hand gripping my arm tightly.

“What I’m telling you,” he said as he opened the backdoor of his cruiser, “Is you and your lady friend are about to become guests of the City of Denver for the weekend. I can cuff you or you can behave yourselves, but either way I want you in the backseat now!”

Home for 60 hours
Home for 60 hours | Source

Sixty Hours

Not all jails are the same. You learn that truth pretty quickly on the streets. Denver’s was better than average. Katie and I were processed into the system and then separated. I was placed in a large holding pen with twelve other vagrants, drunks and addicts. Kate, I assumed, was experiencing a similar fate in the women’s detainment area.

The jail was clean, no roaches, no rats, well-maintained, the city personnel business-like but not cruel, and that, really, makes all the difference. They had a job to do. They didn’t write the laws but they did enforce them, and they did it all with an efficient detachment. I was a number, one of thousands to grace those cells during any given year, and my number would be forgotten just as soon as I processed out on Monday.

It was an uneventful sixty hours. I’m big enough so I’ll be left alone in situations like that, and my veteran status gave me a few creds among the guards. I spent the time thinking about Katie and hoping she was treated respectfully.

Which she was, or so she told me ten minutes after we were released Monday morning at eight sharp.

We hugged on the sidewalk after being reunited. I kissed her as snow flurries turned her flaming red hair to white. She told me she was all right, she’d been treated well, and then the tears fell.

The Truth of It All

“Shit, Max, I don’t know why I’m crying. It’s not the first time I’ve had my ass tossed in jail, three times back east, actually, twice for hookin’ and once for shoplifting, in and out of the system, you know, it was expected and I did the time. But this was different. This interrupted some damned fairytale I had that we could somehow put all that shit behind us, you know? That we could somehow stuff our pasts in our backpacks and start a new future. And this was a slap in the face, a ‘wake up, bitch,’ moment where I was reminded that to the general public we are just vagrants, nothing more, nothing less, and maybe, Max, it’s impossible for people like us to ever climb above it all.” And the tears were flowing freely by then, her face blotchy from the cold and the emotions, and I tried my best to hold her tight and give her whatever it was she needed.

I held her at arm’s length and looked at her, willing up my best smile.

“Did I ever tell you about my mother? You’ll be meeting her when we get to Seattle, provided she’s still alive. Anyway, she taught Special Ed for twenty years. She graduated from the University of Washington as valedictorian, and she had her pick of teaching offers, offers from highbrow prep schools back east, offers to continue her education, go for a masters, offers to teach overseas in government-sponsored programs . . . what I’m saying is she had choices by the dozens all laid out before her, pretty heady stuff for a twenty-one year old.

“But she was in love with my dad, and she didn’t want to leave him for any great-paying teaching gig, and besides, she once told me, she had her heart set on helping those who needed extra help, the special needs kids, and she felt that’s where she could do the most good.

“Now I tell you that story because I’m reminded of something my mom always said to me, and I mean always, like four or five nights per week at the dinner table. She told me ‘Max, you remember this, son, and you remember it well . . . everyone has value . . . they might be missing a leg or poorer than poor . . . they might be emotionally battered or they might be the victims of some God-awful luck, but everyone has value.’

“And now I’m telling you that, Katie. Our past is gone. I refuse to dwell on it, I refuse to be crippled by it, and I refuse to use it as an excuse. You and I are going to follow the Twenty-Five into Wyoming, then up through Boise, across some more mountains and into Seattle, and by God, when we get there, we’re going to start new lives with a clean slate. Now if that sounds like something you want, then give me your damned hand and let’s get moving. My ass is cold standing around here and I’ve seen enough of Denver for a lifetime.”

She wrapped her arms around me and buried her head against my chest, silently sobbing, her shoulders shaking, then subsiding, sniffling, and a deep breath as she regained control and composure.

“Where you go, I go, Max,” and as we started to make our way across the bridge, heading north, she raised her right arm, extended her middle finger, and flipped off the City of Denver.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I thought you would, Shannon! LOL Thank you!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 8 months ago from Texas

      Oh my, what a roller coaster of ups and downs you take us on with these two. But I like her farewell!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Whew! Glad to hear it, Lawrence!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Even at the time we were able to see the funny side of it. More importantly, so did the Sheriff!

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh my, Lawrence, great memory of Boise. LOL Thanks for sharing that and I'm sure glad it got all worked out.

      Thanks always, my friend.

      bill

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      It may not be the best of places, but i bet in the future, Max and Kate will look back on Denver as a turning point, that's when Max put the proverbial 'foot down' and told Kate they weren't accepting any more about the 'old life'

      Mention of Boise brought a smile to my face, that's where me and a few mates nearly got arrested for being British and causing the Sheriff to suspect we were holding the Bank up! (We were trying to change travellers cheques, and they couldn't work out the accents in the Bank

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Marlene. I believe that law is still on the books in Denver....sad for sure...but it is up to us to change those things we don't agree with, so let's get busy, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I love that, Sha! "You matter!" Beautiful thoughts in Orlando and hopefully across the country.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 9 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Oh how I wanted to jump out of my seat to put a knot on that cop's head. Oh well, I guess laws are laws and if you're not supposed to sit on the sidewalk at certain times, you just shouldn't do it. Who makes up these stupid laws anyway? Bill, of course I know these are made-up characters, but I still love them to pieces and the thought of them spending time in jail for bull crap just makes my blood boil.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 9 months ago from Central Florida

      I love Katie's adieu to Denver. You go, girl!

      Max's mom's advise is not only sage, but it brings to mind the state of Orlando since the Pulse massacre a few months ago. Now, on almost every street corner, an artist has painted electrical boxes with beautiful murals and the words "you matter". The mantra in Orlando has become "they mattered; you matter". It's a shame it takes a massacre to wake people up to what has been true all along and will continue to be true.

      I hope Max's mom is still alive. It'll be quite an emotional reunion.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The truth will do that at times, Michael my friend. :)

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      Michael Milec 9 months ago

      You left me speechless wiping up rare precious tears.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, English may be your second language, but you communicate with beauty and deep meaning. Thank you so much for seeing the meanings and messages in this story.

      blessings always

      bill

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 9 months ago

      Bill dear friend your masterly story telling gradually but surely discloses hidden divinely implemented characteristick values of our two heroes Max and Katie. All the influencve and teaching of childhood, the aspirations and dreams which the evil of the world could not destroy in ther quest for decent future, now is coming out purified as the gold through the fire. They both opted to rediscover their life together sealed by ancient Ruth's statement to Naomi her 'Mother-InLove', "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay..." In backround of my mind Katie's version "Where you go, I go, Max" - pointed toward that sacred vow "I do". Hope we will see more of their purification process reaching highest value of pure gold...

      Peace and blessing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Dee! I'm so glad you are enjoying this story. More to come on Wednesday.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 9 months ago

      You showed us a softer side of Max with his memories on his mother. Lovely to see. Seems like she had a great influence on his character. Yes, everyone has value.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, that means a lot to me. Thank you so much. I know you give honest feedback, so those words of praise just made my day.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 9 months ago from United Kingdom

      I think what I like best, Bill, is that you don't let the story get too cheesy or, as I like to say, Disney. This shot of reality keeps the story from becoming that. You do balance the truth with the dream so deftly there is no disruption in the flow of the story. It's this masterful manipulation that keeps me and, I suspect, the rest of your followers coming back for more.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, thank you so much. That Katie has some spunk in her, and I hope she never loses it.

      Blessings and love, my friend

      bill

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 9 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      This setback seems to have made Max and Katie stronger in their resolve - very much proving their worth.

      Giving the finger to such a FU experience is the perfect 'period to the sentence' - you go, Miss Katie...far far from Denver with Max by your side.

      Through 'good times and bad' these two are in it for the long haul.

      Speaking of moving on, meet you at Chapter 11. Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      They are made of strong stock, Ann, and I have a good feeling about them. Thanks so much for always being here.

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 9 months ago from SW England

      I like these two more and more and, as a couple of people here have said, it highlights the problems some people face through no fault of their own. The sad thing is, it happens the world over and what government does much about it? None that I know of.

      Despite their problems, I get the feeling that these two are going to survive.

      Thanks for a great read, bill.

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw thanks, Rasma! I'll try not to disappoint you next time.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 9 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      That ending Bill is a true gem. Looking forward to more.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's my job, Alicia. I'm a storyteller with a social conscience. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Shyron, I always look forward to your comment in poetry form. Thank you for taking the time to leave a creative comment. At least our friends were "sprung" after sixty hours. It could have been worse.

      blessings always

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your story continues to raise our awareness about social issues and homelessness. Thanks, Bill.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 9 months ago from Texas

      Bill, this made sad

      That Katie and max were treated bad

      A cop who had never had it rough

      Arresting a homeless couple made him tough

      Maybe he did have a speck of Empathy

      And thought he could warm them up a bit

      So in a cell he would let them sit

      But believing for his town they were unfit

      *

      Great chapter Bill, but I didn't like that they were thrown in jail.

      Blessings my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they make it, and I appreciate you traveling with them, my friend.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 9 months ago from Dubai

      I wonder if they will get to see their mother in Seattle, his mother is wise. The past is the past and the future beckons, and I wonder what the future holds, great things I hope.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You did miss it, Flourish, very early on he expressed sadness for the man he had become during the war, and he wants his parents to know him as he once was. :) PTSD

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm looking forward to it too, Bill. LOL Thank you and I'll see you next week. Happy Thursday to you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really appreciate that, Joy. It's something I have to work on constantly, to not over-describe a scene. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I sure hope you are correct, Blossom. We shall see how things go in Wyoming. Thanks for walking with them.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      So what's the story behind why he hasn't kept in touch with his mother? She seems like a kind soul and he seems to remember her most fondly. So how -- under what circumstances -- does one not even know if their mother is alive? Did I miss this?

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 9 months ago from Massachusetts

      Another great chapter Bill. Love the ending. Despite the setback in Denver they are making progress in reaching Seattle. Can't wait to see what''s waiting for them in Wyoming.

    • Joyce Fischer profile image

      Joyce A Fischer 9 months ago from Thailand

      The bond between Max and Katie keeps growing stronger with each chapter. I like the way you've developed that relationship. It really demonstrates the writer's rule, "Show don' t tell." It's so powerful.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 9 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Perhaps the worst of the bad times will be behind them now and things will begin to look up. We can hope so.

      Love the way you write.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...you had me laughing at that one, Pop! Thanks for being here.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 9 months ago

      Everyone has value except for the Clintons!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you made me laugh. Having never been to Denver, I can't speak from experience, but in my mind's eye I don't like what I see. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, thank you! It's interesting, the reaction to this story. I never intended it to be more than a writing exercise, one or two chapters at best, but here we are, chapter ten, and people love it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Music to my ears, Manatita. Thank you so much!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 9 months ago from Brazil

      Who likes Denver anyway?

      I love his mother's phrase and I believe it's true, everyone does have value.

      Wonderfully written.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 9 months ago from Oklahoma

      You're a great writer, but personally this series has been my favorite of your works. The subject matter is fascinating to me.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 9 months ago from london

      Continues with style and panache among the chaos ... the misadventures. I think that Max and Katie are doing great, considering the conditions and circumstances. Great writing! Real life-like story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I believe it does, Meg. Anytime you are processed and finger-printed it goes on your record. :)

      Thanks for being here. I'm so glad you are enjoying the story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby! God bless the loving mothers of the world. Their impact lasts a lifetime.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 9 months ago from Northern Ireland

      While I am looking forward, going North at this time of year sounds, well, not great for two wanderers. I hope they meet some warmer welcomes than they just received in Denver, although they got a roof and some food. Does that enforced stay go on their record?

      Another great chapter and some more learning from how the past impacts the present.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 9 months ago from Southern Illinois

      In jail for 60 hours just for sitting on the sidewalk, that sucks! The way you wrote about Katie's crying really was touching. I've never been to Denver, but I know I don't like it. I did like the line, ' everyone has value. ' I sensed a feeling of hope when Max talked about home and his mother, a reminder to all we mothers to leave a good, lasting impression. See you on the road next time...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I didn't know that about Utah, Linda. Thanks for mentioning that. I'll incorporate that into the book when it's time to write it. In the meantime, stay warm and hope that this storm passes soon. I kind of liked the last couple days of very little rain.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh man I love Katie! And Alex said the perfect thing at just the perfect moment (timing, my dear, is everything). BTW you would be stunned at how many homeless people there are in Utah (especially Salt Lake City). I was there for a 3-day conference. Although it was 20 years ago I doubt things have improved much.

      I woke up this morning to the sound of drizzle (yep, the rain gutters are clogged again), but knew (hoped) there would be another installment of this story. You didn't disappoint.

      Stay dry my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, you share similar thoughts with Max...and with my dad....and with me. One step in front of the other and repeat. :) Thanks, buddy!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Fantastic. Hmm, maybe the worst of times reminds to be grateful for bad times. I figure that sometimes we just have to keep moving forward and sooner than later the place we were will be out of sight.

      Thanks for this series friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I was timing you, Janine. It took you seven minutes today to make the first comment. LOL Slow by your standards, my dear.

      I'm kidding of course. I cherish your loyalty. Thank you and Happy Wednesday to you.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 9 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, not a happy note, but at the very least the end to this installment left things looking just a bit brighter, dare I say. That said thanks for sharing and Happy Wednesday now, Bill! ;)