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The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Twenty-Four

Updated on February 2, 2017

A Quick Note

At some point I have to wrap this story up, right? It can’t go on indefinitely, like “Days of Our Lives,” or “General Hospital.” I need to give it a proper burial and slip it into the ground.

But that time won’t be today!

Last week, Max faced his demons head on, and survived the 4th of July. So let’s slip into August with this fictional family and see what the dog days have in store for them.

Finding peace at home
Finding peace at home | Source

MEMORIES

I don’t own a gun, haven’t had one since I got back from my second tour. I’ve got no beef with gun owners, no Constitutional argument for or against private citizens owning a weapon. It’s just not for me. I left that all behind, and I leave the Second Amendment discussion for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

The thing is, I’ve seen the aftermath. I’ve carried an M16 around, day and night, week after week, month after month, almost like it was attached to my hip, “your weapon is your friend, soldier, treat it well and it will treat you well,” and I know what it can do. Pull the trigger on an M16 and you release a cartridge at 2,900 feet per second, forty-five millimeters of lead weighing 183 grams, capable of penetrating twenty inches into soft tissue, eight-hundred rounds a minute on full-auto.

But those are all just numbers, nice, neat statistics for gun-buffs to toss around over a beer after a sweaty round on the shooting range. Pull the trigger, hit the target, check your score, and go home to the little lady and barbecue a steak.

One-hundred and eighty-three grams, that’s what a 5.56 x 44 mm NATO round weighs, 6.46 ounces . . . doesn’t seem like much, does it, but the real of it is it doesn’t take much weight hurtling at 2,9000 feet per second, not much at all, and the human body isn’t twenty inches thick, not close to it, so you take all that velocity and blunt force trauma and shockwave, and you compute the physics of it all, and that 6.46 ounces ricochets off of bone, chews up some organs, destroys some tissue and muscle, and then explodes out the other side of the target, leaving a hole the size of your fist and a dead man where once there was life, a father, a son, a boyfriend, dead, never more.

So no, I don’t own a gun and no, I have no desire to ever own one again.

A baseball, by comparison, weighs about 5 ½ ounces, just a little less than a NATO round, but it does a whole lot less damage.

RANDOMNESS

It’s funny what you’ll think about while hitting fly-balls to the kids on a sunny, August afternoon. I toss a ball in the air, grip the handle of the Louisville Slugger, and loft another one high in a soft arc, the whiteness of the ball in contrast to the robin’s egg blue of the Seattle sky, John Risse calling for it, settling under it, letting it snuggle into his glove, no bloody aftermath, no hydrostatic shock, and no death, just a broad smile on his face as he fires the ball back to me, five-and-a-half ounces thrown at seventy miles per hour, doing no damage on that August morning.

I wrap up practice by eleven, my CYO kids heading home to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, eager to return to school, dreading it at the same time, the timeless lament of school kids everywhere. Toss the ball bag and bats in the trunk of the car, my sister Jeannie’s car, and drive to “Perfect Cup,” the coffee place Kate and my sister work at.

All the tables are taken outside, people enjoying the warm morning, enjoying the warm friendships, pigeons standing guard like sentries on post, the air alive with possibilities, not bullets, and I open the front door, step in, see my sister and Kate working the counter, their skin radiant, their smiles welcoming, and they both look up simultaneously, see me, and my morning instantly improved.

“Don’t you dare kiss me, Max, all sweaty you are and in need of a shower,” and I ignored her, as she knew I would, and leaned across the counter and kissed Katie softly, and my sister standing by, grinning, telling the next customer she’d be right with her, as soon as the love birds took their act outside.

“It’s break time, beautiful,” I told Katie, and after she fixed us both a blended mocha, we filled up our favorite spot outside under the canopy of a fifty-foot maple, the soft grass welcoming us, the bark snug against our backs, squirrels chattering overhead.

Finding peace in the mundane
Finding peace in the mundane | Source

The Mundane

“How was practice, soldier?” she asked me, and took another sip.

“A walk back in time, Katie, the years peeled away and me and dad were out there, shagging flies, tracking the arc of the ball, and loving every minute of it. I’ll never be able to thank Father Patrick enough for this CYO job.”

“He’s lucky to have you, Max. Those kids are lucky to have you.”

“How’s work going this morning?”

“Big tips, soldier boy. If this keeps up I’ll be able to retire soon, live the life of luxury I’m so accustomed to living, and if you play your cards right, I just might take you along for a world cruise.”

I picked up a rock, tossed it sidearm across the grass. The squirrels chattered some more, competing with robins overhead, the sweet sounds of a sweet summer morning, no shouts of “incoming,” no body bags, no tears drying instantly in the desert heat.

“Let’s get married, Katie. Today, tomorrow, next week, but not much longer than that, let’s get married, let’s say screw it to the past, start a new damned life, and beat the odds. What do you say, Princess Kate, will you marry this broken down crapshoot of a man?”

Time to tie the knot
Time to tie the knot | Source

Goodbye, Mundane

And she did the damndest thing, she got up, started running across the parking lot, shouting “JEANNIE, JEANNIE, GET OUT HERE,” and Jeannie heard her, hell, the whole damned neighborhood heard her, and “HE ASKED ME TO MARRY HIM, JEANNIE, LORD ALMIGHTY, THE BIG ASSHOLE FINALLY DID IT,” and I swear to you all, the people at those tables, they all stood up, and they were applauding, and people inside came out, Jeannie leading the way, Jeannie crying, hugging Kate, then both of them in my arms and everyone around us, crying, laughing, telling us how happy they were for us, complete strangers caught up in the dance of life, and then Mom and Dad on the phone, “oh, we’re so happy for you two, son,” and them crying, and the robins and squirrels and pigeons blotting out the memories, making it all about the here and now, no body bags allowed.

And later that night, after the sun dove into the Pacific in search of Hawaii, after the porch lights came on, and the heat of the day gave way to a cooling breeze, we all sat on the porch, Mom, Dad, Jeannie, Katie and me, sipping lemonade, laughing, all happy with the wedding day choice, one week from that day, comfortable in the sweet bosom of love, and not once did I see the torn asunder, not once did I smell death or hear the weakened cries of the wounded.

No, I don’t own a gun. I see no reason to do so.

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      :).....have a lovely week, Ann!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

      You're very welcome, bill.

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That means a great deal to me, Ann, coming from you. Thank you dear friend.

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

      Absolutely fabulous. The contrast in this episode hits like a baseball; we see the bad, then the light-hearted, then you pick us up and hit us with a whole lot of love! Brilliant, bill, brilliant!

      You are definitely becoming that great writer.

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Missy, and I wish for you that kind of loving and life. Thank you!

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 9 months ago from Florida

      Happiness is best found in the simplicity of just loving and living! What else is there to say about this one. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maybe a bit, Sha, but with a special touch for our two heroes. :) Thanks so much, dear friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 9 months ago from Central Florida

      Bill, this chapter is so poetic. I can't wait for the wedding. Will it be anything like yours and Bev's?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy you enjoyed it, Lawrence. Thanks for following along, and blessings to you always.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      This was a great way to bring the story to a close, with hope for a brighter future.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Dee! This was one of those stories that refused to die, and I'm so happy others enjoyed it as much as I did.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 9 months ago

      You have a way with words, Bill. I could see myself enjoying a cup of mocha with them under the canopy of the tree. Max is such an interesting character and brings reality to the series.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 9 months ago

      If not for August, these two people might never give your reader so much excitement for continuity of living voluminous life. Bill my friend, we all want to live fully : Katie, Max and rest of us... a man is creataed to live and have life abundantly.

      Peace and blessings.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Always, Zulma!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 10 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Bill, it's nice to be appreciated. :D

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know, Zulma, what's wrong with continuing this? LOL My goodness, woman, you are pushy. :) I'm so glad you want me to.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Zulma, I have no doubt there are technical details that are niggling you. I love that word, by the way...niggling. LOL Yes, send them to me when you get the chance. Thanks!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 10 months ago from United Kingdom

      BTW, what's wrong with continuing this. Maybe a sequel to the first novel we are patiently waiting for. (nudge, nudge) :D

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 10 months ago from United Kingdom

      If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Jeannie and Kate had been planning this all along. :) I'm so glad Max decided to throw the dice and bet on life.

      Some technical details are niggling at me, though. If you like, I can email them to you rather than take up space here.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, a wedding is coming soon, my friend. Thanks for always being here.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 10 months ago from Dubai

      Happy times for Kate and Max after all that they have been through. Wedding bliss sounds perfect for the two, a wonderful turn of events.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Shannon, our electricity bill went through the roof last month. I'm praying for warmer temps so we can afford to eat. LOL

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 10 months ago

      You could always move south. No chance of snow here. It's supposed to be near 80 degrees today. Throws in the forecast for the next 10 days are only in the 40s. I can deal with that. It means no heater running up the electricity bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thank you, Shannon! Six inches of snow last night...a winter wonderland this morning, but a bit too cold for this old man.

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 10 months ago

      I'm having a weekend. LOL. Far from superb but oh well. I'll get over it.

      It's high praise because we can all see the movies in our mind as we read. And that's how know I've found a good read.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      So do I, Genna, so do I. And it's going to be us believers who will carry us all through this political and social upheaval. I believe that strongly.

      Thank you dear friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      High praise, Shannon, and I thank you very much. I hope you are having a superb weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, this is my gift to everyone who just can't stand the evening news any longer. :) Thank you my dear, and blessings always.

      love,

      bill

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 10 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Bill. I was so relieved to read: "But that time won’t be today!" Your description of what a powerful bullet can do to the human body was chilling, in contrast to the timeless and nostalgic feel for the love of baseball and seductive scents of summertime. Thank goodness for Father Patrick. And Max and Kate are getting married! I'm an incurable romantic, but I believe that love does find a way.

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 10 months ago

      Y comment went to oblivion again. I only know that because Maria's comment came up in notifications and brought me back. Since I can't remember what I said, I'll say ditto to what she said! Oh, actually, what she said is kind of what I said. I laughed at her reaction to the proposal. And you can go on forever, better than any I'm soap opera any day.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 10 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      "So no, I don’t own a gun and no, I have no desire to ever own one again."

      From tears to joyful laughter at this long-awaited proposal, this story can continue til the cows come home... I prefer this to the news any day these 'days of our lives'.

      Have a lovely weekend, dear Bill. Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I promise, Flourish, that I won't let it rival General Hospital. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, I think it goes back to that topic of hope....there is so much hope in a wedding or a proposal...it's pure love and hope before life waters it all down.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

      Maybe not the most romantic proposal but heartfelt and fitting. Your intro about General Hospital made me laugh.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 10 months ago from Northern California, USA

      So much love packed into this episode. I don't know what it is about marriage proposals and weddings. I always cry when I hear someone propose marriage and I always cry at weddings.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad too, Linda! Max and Katie thank you for always being here.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Dora! I wanted this to be a story we could all rejoice in.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another lovely chapter in Max and Katie's story. I'm glad that life is getting better for them.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 10 months ago from The Caribbean

      I rejoice with Katie. Her reaction to Max's proposal made me laugh and I too am looking forward to the wedding.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Not sure, Pop, but we're getting close. Thanks, as always, for being here.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 10 months ago

      Seems like the perfect ending to me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch, Larry!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I think I'm trying to prove to myself that I can write sweet. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mundane and beautiful, Eric, just like everyday life all around us, right? Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      RoadMonkey, I'm just the writer. The characters tell me when times are right for certain events. :) Thanks so much!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 10 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great read!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, this is so perfectly sweet. If this is the final chapter, it is a fitting one, a good one. Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

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

      How mundane!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 10 months ago

      Just great. I am so happy for Max and Katie. How do you always know the right time for these events?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure,.Ruby! I spent similar evenings growing up...front porch...family...a feeling of safety....great times, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! The beginning is more a throwback to the way my novels read...so I'm happy you liked it.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 10 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I loved this. It brought me back to my hometown and the evenings when we sat on the front porch, crime was practically nonexistent. I loved this line, " Caught up in the dance of life. " I now know that Max and Kate are going to make it. YEA..

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 10 months ago from New York, New York

      I liked how you began this and don't think I'd mind if you continued their story like General Hospital or Days of Our Lives! So, therefore I am happy to see Max and Katie at it again here today now. Happy Thursday now also once again :)