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The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Twelve

Updated on November 9, 2016

Thank You so Much

The road stretches long and true . . . me thinks for all of us . . . so perhaps that explains why this story/future novel has been so popular. Perhaps we can all see a bit of ourselves in these characters, Max and Katie. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful to have you back on the next leg of this journey.

Our friends have left Cheyenne in a ’97 Ford pickup truck, traveling on a wing and prayer, so to speak, so let’s see how they are this fine Wednesday.

Source

The Reality of War

We stopped at a convenience store in Rock Springs, Wyoming, to pick up some snack food for the road and to gas up. Outside there was a teenager wearing a long coat, killing time, his breath pluming in the winter sky, maybe waiting for friends to pick him up. I saw him and all I could think about was the bomb strapped under his coat, how I needed to tackle him, disarm that bomb, before he could blow up the store and hurt innocents.

Of course there was no bomb, and the kid wasn’t a suicide bomber planted by Al-Qaeda, but that’s what war will do to you. Sweat was pouring off my brow when Katie reached over and took my hand in hers.

“Let it go, Max! Your time with war is over.” And she meant well, and I understand the truth in her statement, but it’s just not that easy. You don’t erase memories like that by sheer willpower. You don’t pretend you didn’t see the dismembered and blown-apart on your mind’s projector. You can’t rewind the tape and film a new story. It’s a part of me now, has been for over a decade, and I suspect it will be for some time to come. I hadn’t had my Zoloft for over a month by that time, and there were times it felt like my skin was peeling off.

Source

On the Road Again

The money we made in Cheyenne would have to last us to Seattle, so we were squeezing our pennies. The old Ford was running fine but it drank gasoline and that had me concerned. I was still trying to wrap my brain around the kindness shown by Pastor Charles and Mindi. Hard to fathom in my world.

The Plains were all but behind us and the Rockies loomed ahead, snowcapped, ominous, forcing us to make a decision. We could take the easy route, through South Pass, four-lane road and plowed, but that would take us further south, adding more miles to the trip. Or we could head up through Yellowstone, but that meant the worst of Wyoming winter road conditions, and I wasn’t sure how much I trusted the old truck going over the Continental Divide at almost ten-thousand feet. I asked Katie for her opinion.

“I was a hooker in Pittsburgh, Max. What do I know about mountain climbing? I trust you to get us home safely.” And the thing was, she did trust me, almost a childlike-trusting in my abilities, and it scared the hell out of me to have someone betting it all on me. But that’s really what love is all about, right? You stick your neck out, risking the butcher’s axe, and your partner does the same thing, because together is better than alone, and I’ll never understand that shit, not fully, but there it is.

I was sweating and my hands quivered a bit. Katie noticed. She didn’t miss much.

“Do you need your Zoloft, Max?”

“I probably do, Katie, but look around you. The VA doesn’t deliver, and we’re nowhere near an army base. I’ll just have to hold it together.”

“Where’s the nearest base?” she asked, concern etching into her lovely features.

“I don’t think there’s one in Idaho. Probably Fort Lewis in Washington. I really don’t know, Katie. Don’t worry yourself over it. I’m a survivor, like you. We’ll be fine.”

But I wasn’t fine, and my words sounded hollow in my own mind as I steered north and west towards Yellowstone.

Source

The Wall

There comes a time, approaching the Rockies from the east, when you figure you understand what the travelers of the Oregon Trail felt. There is safety behind you, the flat land stretching to another sunrise, a certain serenity in the sameness, so unlike the wall of jagged peaks facing you to the west, formidable, daring anyone to challenge them, a geographic warning to the weak-of-will to turn around immediately or face the origin of your childhood fears.

And then there was the gray, always present, pressing down on us, suffocating our spirit, whispering in our ears that you can’t go home again, the past is buried and always will be, and hope, for the hopeless, is a cheap commodity held together with spit and chewing gum.

Two hours later One-Ninety-One took us right to the doorstep of the Gros Ventre Range, the elevation rising quickly, sagebrush replaced by pine trees, and more pine trees, looming overhead, the tops sheared off by the clouds, and we rounded one turn and I heard Katie gasp and God Almighty, such a sight, like God’s own painting it was, lakes and rivers, green valleys with patches of white, and snowcaps, contrasted, in my mind, with the squalor that was Pittsburgh, and the reality of it all came crashing down and I found myself pulling the truck to the side of the road and crying like a damned infant.

And Katie holding me close, whispering in my ear “it’s all right now, Max, it’s all right,” and “hush now, darling, isn’t it just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” and bringing me down from the ledge, back into her lap of safety, and at that moment I loved that woman more than anyone has loved another.

Rest for Another Night

The town of Jackson welcomed us, the Teton Range to our left, the Wind River Range to our right, a small pocket of humanity sitting out the winter in that hollow, the wind blowing something fierce, sheets of snow obscuring the buildings, snowmobiles parked at the store instead of cars, a different world for us.

We found a cheap motel on the outskirts, one of those U-shaped motor courts built during the Fifties, paid the clerk his forty bucks, found Room Eighteen without much trouble, and gave ourselves completely to the welcoming warmth of the room. We lay down on that bed, still in our coats, my head held to Katie’s breast, her hand caressing my hair, her whispering words of comfort to me, just as Momma had so many years earlier.

After a spell Katie told me to rest and asked me for twenty bucks.

“Where you going, hon?” I asked, not at all eager to get up and follow.

“You just rest, Max. I know right where I’m going and I’ll be back soon.” And out into the growing storm she walked, a sliver of a woman with the courage of any ten men, on a mission, determined.

The wind rattled the glass panes of our room, all other sounds muffled as the snow fell. Occasionally the throaty roar of a snowmobile would shatter the silence, but then the town would once again settle into the muted existence of winter in the mountains.

An hour later I felt Katie’s hand on my head, bringing me back from a mission served long ago, me holding the guts of Private Peter Hammond tight to his cavity, pressing hard, trying my damndest to beat back the inevitable, watching the life leave his eyes, never to return.

“Take this, Max,” and she handed me a pill and a glass of water. “It’s Zoloft, darling, come on now, sit up and take it.” I did as I was instructed and rested back, once again, against the bosom of love.

“How’d you find Zoloft in this town, Katie?”

“I’ve got enough for you for a week, and don’t you worry none how I got it.”

“But I only gave you a twenty. That’s not enough for a week’s worth of pills.’

And her hand stroked my hair again, and the warmth of her breasts made my eyes heavy, her breath against my face, little wisp of a woman holding the big soldier tight.

“Don’t you worry now, Max. We’re going to be all right. Everything is going to be all right. The past can never hurt us again.”

As I fell off into a fitful sleep, the words of my father, spoken long ago to his teenage son, came back to me. “We all do what we have to do to survive, Max. There’s no shame in that,” he told me, and I reckon he was correct.

AND WITH THAT I’LL LEAVE YOU

Thank you, once again, for joining me this week. Hopefully you’ve read enough of this story, and enjoyed it, so you’ll join me again next Wednesday.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor

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    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 5 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Max trusts Katie to keep him safe, just as she trusts him to get them where they are going. No shame in that at all. Great story.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 months ago from New York, New York

      Very much enjoyed today's edition and needed a bit of hope, especially today. So thanks for that my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Meg! We all need some trust today, so this story is timely.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Especially today, Janine! True words, my friend, but my characters will make it and so will we. Thank you!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Oh lordy please keep that truck running. I find myself looking forward to Wednesday so I can gobble up another episode. Thanks

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, buddy! You can count on a Ford Ranger!!!

    • Old Poolman profile image

      Mike 5 months ago from Rural Arizona

      Bill, if there is a list of natural born story tellers your name should be near the top of the list. This just keeps getting better with each and every chapter. My guess is you the author are getting to know your characters more with each and every chapter.

      Just keep them coming my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, for me, that's exactly what happens. I start out with a character, put him or her in a situation, and then watch their reaction. From there I let them grow. It's fascinating for me, this creative process.

      Thank you for the kind words, my friend.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 months ago from london

      Some deep home truths in there as well as some great writing and 'sweet' love. Thanks again, Bro.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 5 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, a bit of hope and love on a day that seems pretty dreary. This still seems like a bad dream and wish I could wake up. Thank you for continuing this story. It's the one thing we can look forward to (hope that's not putting on too much pressure). Each chapter just gets better.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita! Sweet love for sure!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, my stories will always highlight hope, even today. i believe in this country and, as you know, we've seen worse in the past. We're going to make it, but there has to be some suffering before real change can happen. Thank you for your loyal friendship.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 months ago

      Love can conquer all.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 months ago from The Caribbean

      I enjoy being on the road with Max and Katie. When their pasts occupy their present thoughts as they do now, we can relate to the conflict it creates. The themes of love, trust and hope keep them going and we are encouraged too.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 months ago from Dubai

      Max and Katie are doing their best to survive, waiting for read what is going to happen next.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It can if we are receptive to it, Pop! Let's hope we all are.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well Dora, Max and Kate enjoy you traveling along with them, so thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for always being here, Vellur!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Your story gave me some hope, maybe there's better days ahead. I love traveling with Kate and Max.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby! There will always be room in the old pickup truck for you. :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another interesting chapter, Bill. As others have said, I appreciate the hope that Max and Katie are experiencing amidst their pain, especially at this time.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! There will always be hope in my stories. I promise you that.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      In this episode I'm reminded of how important authenticity is in a story - especially one that includes PTSD.

      Your choice of medication and your description of Max's feelings / perceptions are credible.

      Love that the word LOVE is being thrown around 'finally' and Katie has a poignant way of showing her love for sure.

      This was a blessed respite after an interesting few days. Love, Maria

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I'll be here again next week. I just had to catch up with Max and Katie today. There is so much caring and love in every episode, but especially this one as Katie did what she had to do to help Max. That's love, man. True love.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting days for sure, Maria. You know what, though? I have faith in this country, despite my heavy heart right now. It's going to be a painful process, but we will come out of it eventually. I have to believe that.

      love and thanks

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      She stepped up big-time, didn't she? Oddly you are the only reader to mention that act of Katie's. Thank you for noticing that, my friend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

      She must've really understood how much he needed that Zoloft. I wonder what she could do for the rest of the country.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting analogy, Flourish! I wonder indeed. :)

      Thank you my friend.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      Katie is an admirable woman. She sees what needs doing and she does it. Still, I worry what she did to get those pills might come back later and bite them both. I guess we'll see.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      All the more power to Katie. I don't think anything could get me out in a storm unless of course it was a matter of life and death. Then there is no choice. Looking forward to more.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kate's a survivor for sure, Zulma, and damn the consequences. Love rules that woman despite her background. She's my spoiled angel.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasma, thank you so much for following along and commenting all the time. It means a great deal to me, friend.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      That is so sweet. Despite it all she's been through, Katie never stopped believing. That is humbling.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Zulma. I'm trying real hard not to be syrupy in this story, but still ring home the message of love/hope/salvation.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      First off, you're not syrupy. As I've mentioned before, you've struck a good balance here.

      Second, and this is my opinion, actively ringing home these themes seldom gets the message across. It tends to come off preachy. However, leaving subtle clues helps the reader come to these conclusions on their own. People enjoying discovering universal truths on their own. I guess it makes them feel more part of the story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's good having you around, Zulma. You keep my writing head on straight. :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      That's what I here for. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 5 months ago from Texas

      Bill, as I ride along with Max and Katie, I miss traveling when we traveled every summer coming to Texas.

      I am so glad Katie got Max some medication

      Good chapter, Blessings dear friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I miss the road trips too, Shyron! Now I enjoy our farm so much I don't want to go anywhere. :)

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 5 months ago

      More than any imagination, quote, "I hope to get us home safely," Katies total confidence in Max declares a firm decision to continue together "as long as we both live." I would like to believe that my hope will fully substantiate.

      Blessings my friend, and good night.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Hope and love, Michael my friend. We all need them and all will find happiness with them.

      Peace and blessings to you always

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 5 months ago

      To always kind friend

      Hello Mr. William D. Holland. Now after I have found favor in your sight, the following question I would dare to ask: Is that permissible, practiced, or benevolent to write a one sentence, one paragraph, over onehundred words as it appears beautifully in this your article :" Two hours later..."

      Just curious.

      (Do not pink-slipped me , please.)

      Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is always permissible, my friend, and no pink-slip will be arriving. :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 months ago from Central Florida

      I have the feeling Katie "shared" herself in order to get Max his pills. Hopefully soon, the day will come when they can truly leave their pasts behind.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Sha, because these two deserve a break of mammoth proportions. Thanks for caring about them.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 5 months ago

      bravewarrior , are you reading other people's mind!? ( it cross my mind too, in disbelief I didn't want to ruin a good thing.)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I know who the smart people are, Michael my friend, and you and Sha are in that category.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 5 months ago from Florida

      As I keep reading Max and Katie's story, I keep looking ahead to hopes of their future. I also keep thinking maybe they're lucky for the hard road they've traveled, because in the end, they will find a contented happiness together. It's a blessing and a curse I suppose. Max and Katie have the painful memories to carry with them, but now they have each other, and the battle to live with them has gotten easier. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It has for me, for sure, Missy, and I can only assume the same is true for Max and Katie. Thank you for being so invested in this story.

    • profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 4 months ago

      Bill

      'One day at a time' that's how they'll make it, Max managed a whole month without the drug, but the main thing is both of them will do 'Whatever it tales' to see the other through!

      That's what love does!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yessir, Lawrence, that's what love does. Thank you my friend! Enjoy your day!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 3 months ago from Texas

      Oh...now you've done it. . ..now I'm curious what Katie did. Seems entirely possible she revived a little bit of her past to help Mac, but that may have been a mistake.

      And by the way, how am I supposed to catch up if you just keep writing more chapters???!!! LOL. And whatever happened to the Harpers. Did they make it to future novel status yet?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      God you're demanding, Shannon! LOL The Harpers are roaming around lost, waiting for me to give them directions. There's no telling how much longer they have to languish in the netherworld. :) Happy New Year my friend.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 3 months ago from Texas

      LOL! Me? Never! At least you like me anyway. ;)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes I do, Shannon!

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