The Sun Never Rises: Chapter One

An Introduction of Sorts

I’m not even sure if there will be a chapter two or three or…..but I played it safe and put “chapter one” up there just in case.

The writing exercises continue.

My wife says I do dark well. I laugh when she says it. I’m not sure that’s the legacy I want. LOL

Where does it come from? Having Ted Bundy as our paperboy really set me on a contemplative path regarding good vs evil. Having parents who were compassionate and adamant in their teachings that everyone matters, no matter if it is a CEO of a major corporation or the homeless guy in the gutter. In fact, it was my father who first made me take a very close look at a “bum” in downtown Tacoma one afternoon. I was about eight or nine at the time, and he explained that the man in front of me was considered a bum by many, but what he really was…..was a human being who was dealt a very tough hand, a World War 2 vet who saw far too much in the Pacific Theater and came home less than he once was, a man who once laughed and played with his children, a man who had dreams and hopes….until the day his best friend stepped on a mine and disappeared in front of his very eyes, spraying him with blood and tissue, and well, son, some men are not meant to see those things.

So I try to be true to those lessons. Bums are not merely bums. Hookers are human beings. Druggies once believed in Santa Claus.

So there you have the introduction to my latest short story…..I hope you find it, at the very least, thought-provoking. Hopefully there will be a little visceral mixed in for good measure.

Another day of gray
Another day of gray | Source

A Cold Night

I feel them in the night, crawling over my sleeping bag, occasionally their tails brush against my cheek, gutter rats on the hunt, the nocturnal ritual that plays out on the streets of my city after the “good folks” go home. For the most part they mean no harm. The rats, not the good folks. They’re just looking to hang on one more night, like all of us, and a scrap or two, discarded among the broken vials and crack spoons, is all they’ll need. They don’t bite me, sensing the living, not the dead, so I’m safe enough. Besides, it’s the predators with two legs I have to worry about.

It was a cold mofo last night and that’s for damned sure. Winter in Pittsburgh, man, icicles on blue collars, colder than a witches tit, and that cold radiates off the concrete and invades your bones at night, no stopping it, no slowin’ it, just acceptin’ it as the way it is for five long-assed months. Some of us survive. Others, like that guy the other night down by the docks, don’t.

The black turns to battleship gray overhead. In Pittsburgh, for the un-chosen, the sun never truly rises. Somewhere a siren announces the dawn. Somewhere a garbage truck makes its rounds, but not here, not this alley, this being Tuesday and dumpsters remain undisturbed here until Friday.

I roll up my bag, tie it off, stomp my feet some to wake them up, to warm them up, like we used to do on sentry duty outside of Kabul, Operation Enduring Freedom, only ten years ago, see how far I’ve come, rah, rah, God bless America. A couple pages from a newspaper blow by. I grab them, stuff them in my coat, extra lining to stave off a cold that never seems to go away, not for all those ten years.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. I came out of the desert in one piece. Forget about the potholes since I’ve been back in the States. I came back in one piece, more than can be said for three in my platoon back in o-six.

Where shall we dine this morning?

I blow the river stench from my nostrils and move on.

The sounds of the city
The sounds of the city | Source

The Constant Search

There are rules, just like in the Army, and if you abide by them you can pretty much count on getting through a day without the hassle of cops. Don’t approach the tourists or upstanding locals. Don’t beg out in the open where the cameras are always rolling and news at eleven just might find interest in the underbelly, God forbid. In other words, don’t rock the boat, the good ship Pittsburgh, poster child for the revitalization of the Rust Belt, the shining symbol of hope for those stuck in an economy of the past, city fathers damned proud of the work they’ve done, but I can tell you, gospel, my friend, that trickle-down economics don’t trickle this far down, you get my drift?

Shuffle down South Water Street, feeling older than I should, head down, never make eye contact, never seem threatening, just part of the landscape, no danger, no reason to be alarmed and call the Man, turn at Riverfront Park, they don’t like us in the park, heaven forbid, find East Carson and take it to Station Square, home of the upscale bakeries and cafes, early morning cookin’ with scraps out the back doors, a first come basis, be on time you eat, be late you go hungry, simple as that, and I’m on time at Sunshine Bistro, first at the door, two croissants for the effort, Charlie the busboy fist-bumping me in greeting, and I appreciate the gesture, an acknowledgement, one being to another, saying I am you and you are me, sing it, lads, sing it.

Next stop the Mission on Eighth, always good for an egg or two, but those eggs come at a cost, a half-hour of salvation sermon from Reverend Micah, origin unknown but a refugee for sure with that accent, hard to understand at times but the message is universal, spoken at ten thousand missions across the country, love Jesus and be saved. I’d be happy if Jesus would just turn up the heat a bit, so cold this morning, the kind of cold that no heat can warm, down to the depths, it is, forty years in the making, wrong turns and good intentions, right turns and bad intentions, all leading to gulls overhead, surveying the whitecaps on the Ohio, with more freedom than yours truly.

I gotta remember to get out to the Veterans’ Hospital this afternoon. Therapy at three, back to reality by four, but it took me three years to get into the program and I’m not about to miss it no matter how futile it all seems. You show up, you get your Zoloft, and that’s the real of it. Tranquility in a pill, better living through chemistry, and I’m all for better living any way I can get it.

There’s me and five more like me listening to the Good Book recitation. I recognize two of them. Tommy Eight Toes, so named after he mistimed a jump and a rail car detached two digits, leaving him with a permanent limp and the screaming banshees in his dreams, and Princess Kate, her ever-present crown atop her wild, blazing red hair, her eyes more alive than mine, leaving me wondering what secret she knows that I need to know.

A metaphor?
A metaphor? | Source

After Breakfast

Princess Kate and I leave together. It sometimes works like that on the streets, an unspoken alliance for the day, safety in twos or threes, the warmth a friendly voice can provide, it all adds up to making it through another day.

I know a little of her story, classic, really, runner-up in the Miss Allegheny beauty contest at seventeen, abused by her step-father, ran away, her life changing in the blink of an eye, takin’ to the streets and learning on the fly. Beat a meth habit at twenty-five, paired up with a couple bikers over the years for security, a little hookin’ when desperation sets in, maybe a couple B and E’s to pay for the basics, her Victoria Secret lace panties now soiled in a way she never envisioned while she walked that pageant runway in Philadelphia.

She’s a good looking woman, or at least she once was, twenty years ago, before the endless nights and discount booze to keep her warm and blot out the memories. Scrub her clean she just might be okay still, like so many of us, but what are the chances? She might be mid-thirties, hard to tell, that fiery hair a beacon on the streets, as much a part of her persona as the chipped front tooth and the Louisville Slugger she carries in her left hand for protection. And the crown. Always the crown. Not sure why she wears it, it’s possible she’s one beer short of a six-pack, but just as likely it represents better days, and why completely let go of those?

I tried to picture her before her innocence was smothered by male lust, sweaty loins, and the smell of Southern Comfort.

Couldn’t do it.

She trusts me. Not sure why but I appreciate it.

“How ya doing this morning, Kate?”

She looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Maybe too close to the truth for comfort. What a stupid-ass question, but she’s too kind to call me on it.

“It’s all good, Max. It’s all good. Spent the night under the I-Three-Eighty. Won’t do that again. Got rousted twice by the cops and once by some frat boys lickered up and feeling privileged. If you don’t mind, soldier, I’m going to walk with you for a spell. I’m too damned tired to watch my back today. Okay by you, hon?”

I told her it was fine with me. The company wouldn’t hurt either of us. We decided to head down to the waterfront, find a trash can, start a fire to warm up, although the wind off the river makes it six of one half dozen of the other. It’s always fifty-fifty on the streets.

And so we spent the day doing what we do, avoiding Charon as he works the River Styx, staying out of the wind, one eye to the sky, expecting the first flakes of winter, knowing the first one signals millions afterwards, and wondering if this will be the winter we don’t make it, don’t summon up the will to rise above the stench, rise above the screw it, and just surrender to the inevitable.

Thanks for Dropping By

I appreciate you taking the time to read my little writing exercise. Let’s do it again soon, all right?

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor

More by this Author

Comments 92 comments

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

Yes, Bro. Let's do it again soon! I rather like this (series?) It's shows an excellent start!

Yes, Bev is right. You dark ones are awesome! I think I told you this before. Still, the underline writer or let's say his theme of the environment; social justice; inspiration; highlighting the goodness, misfortune or plight of the underdog, remains the same.

At times thought-provoking, yes. Thank you for reminding us that tramps and prostitutes are children of Light who have their stories too. Much Love.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Wow....just wow. A writing exercise? OK, whatever you say bro. Must be your readers are the ones to benefit with accelerated heart rhythm. "Homelessness"....argh! One of the few unacceptable situations that makes my blood boil, Bill. Just the mention or the ugly vision of it, sends me reeling through disbelief and anger I can barely control.

In just an instant, I adopted Princess Kate. You sure know how to reach out and snatch me firmly into the darkness. I'm already struggling to rescue Kate. This shouldn't be~~not here, not in my country. I hate it and I have to save them all. Damn you.

Bev knows exactly what she's talking about. Darkness, without a doubt.

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 3 months ago from New York, New York

Bill, once again I am in awe and humbled by your writing skills. Definitely agree with Bev about your writing style and very much enjoy getting a glimpse into it here once again. Happy Thursday and wishing you a wonderful day ahead now!! :)

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Much love, Manatita! Friends in low places could have been the title of this new story. LOL I'm glad you liked it.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Sis, that's why I love you....or just one of the many care deeply about people! What better summary of a human being...they cared!

Thanks, Sis! Now i need to go write some more "dark." :)

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Janine, I'm just doing what I do. I was given a humble gift and I need to use it to speak out about social ills while at the same time be a least that's what I try to do.

Happy Thursday, Janine! You are appreciated.

Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia

Wonderful writing here Bill. The words seem to flow effortlessly from your pen. You are made for this type of writing. More chapters would be most welcome.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you John! I guess I just relate better to the lower rungs of the social ladder.

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 3 months ago from Rural Arizona

Bill, I for one will be extremely disappointed if there are not more chapters coming with this story. Not only is it a pleasure to read, but this story is one that needs to be told over and over until people really get it.

Please, I repeat, please keep these coming.

DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 3 months ago from Northern Ireland

Don't let it stay at number 1. I would like to see some more. I was looking through some old files the other day and came across some stuff I wrote maybe 20 years ago. It had been saved on floppy disk and my daughter bought a floppy disk reader recently and I found it. Maybe I should publish it here and add some more!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Mike, I do believe I have a few more in me, but only because you said please....several times. LOL Glad you enjoyed this, Mike. Thank you so much, my friend.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Perhaps you should, Meg! It would be interesting to see that earlier work.

And thank you for your encouragement. I'll keep the story going for a few weeks for sure.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 months ago from Southern Illinois

Bill, this story seemed so real. Your writing is so good. I was right there with the two lonely and forgotten people as they walked the streets ending up at the waterfront. Your detailed descriptions of Kate and Max allowed me to see them, even Kate's chipped tooth. There is so much more to tell about their life on the streets. I do hope you will continue. I love stories that touch the heart and this one did...

Buildreps profile image

Buildreps 3 months ago from Europe

Great story. I think writing these kind of stories draws the best out of you. It is simply excellent. Keep on rollin', bro!

Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 months ago from Dubai

The story is off to a great start, enjoyed reading and looking forward for more.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you so much, Ruby! I'll continue and see where we go with it. Kate and Max have more they need to tell us.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you very much, Buildreps! I will, indeed, keep on rollin'

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Vellur! I'm very happy you enjoyed it.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

This story reminds me of what I think of hell. No matter what crap we are dealt -- if we survive we get used to it. Maybe I am showered and shaved and the other but is their day really all that different than mine. Some of us idiots even do stuff like wilderness survival training and actually choose to be like this for a while - but we know it will come to an end. Hopeless sucks.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

OK.....I just watched the TED video. Why did I do that? I'm sobbing. I feel like I don't deserve to eat tonight. I wonder how long I could bear the hunger pangs? I wonder even more, how could I face the fact that I may not eat tomorrow either?

And what if while I was suffering extreme hunger, I was out in the wind and the rain, no where to take shelter, nothing to shield me from the elements and nowhere to rest my head?

How DARE we? How can we walk by~~stand by while human beings suffer through no fault of their own? What good are we to humanity if we don't act like humans, recognizing and reaching out in some small way to our fellow human beings? How do we feel comfort in our soft, warm beds in a clean, safe room, under our own roof? While visions of hungry, frightened children cuddle closer to their mother, on the ground, under a bridge, wondering who will help them and when will they help them?

I'm done....leaving now to take cartons of food & blankets, shoes and socks to the city mission. I can't imagine ignoring the overwhelming need I feel to do something~ anything. I'm at a total loss how so many with so much can just walk on by....avoid looking, not caring, just walk on by.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 3 months ago

Wow Bill, Bev is right. You do dark good! There is so much untold here. I don't know if I want this story to go forward, or backwards in time. But I know that I don't want it to stop with just this one.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Hopeless does suck big time, Eric. Any man of love understands the need to at least acknowledge the homeless problem in this country.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

No wonder, Paula, you are my sister. Your response, your heart, your empathy....they all make me proud to know you. I feel better at night knowing there are people like you and Bev out among us. You make me want to rise to a new level of humanness.

Thank you Sis!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

That's the kind of reaction, Linda, that pushes me to the next chapter. Thank you my friend.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 months ago from Taos, NM

I have to agree with Bev, you do dark well. What is amazing is that you write these dark stories NOT from experience yet they are still realistic.

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Bill, I know this is real life, I want to read more, please continue the series. But, no bums, I hate the word bum for a homeless person, homeless through no fault of their own, and most more compassionate and caring then any man/woman of means, and most people would not believe how many there are.

I saw a man at Parkland Hospital in the cafeteria who was wearing PJs but he was not a patient and a cop who did not want him to eat the hamburger and drink his coffee inside maybe afraid his homelessness would rub off on the rest of us. It was very cold outside, it was November/December.

Bill, I agree with Bev and the rest of your followers you have a knack for writing about the less fortunate in this life.

Blessings always my friend.

Eldon Arsenaux profile image

Eldon Arsenaux 3 months ago from Cooley, Texas

Great characters. Kate is a killer. You do first person perspective so well and personal. I think this introduction has the potential to turn out a fantastic series. Anyway, have a great weekend Bill!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Suzette! Observation and empathy. A writer can go a long way with those two skills.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Shyron! I do relate to the downtrodden in a way I can't explain. I feel for them, understand them, and want to fix it all....maybe by raising awareness in some small way.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Eldon! Coming from a wordsmith like you that is high prais.

Have a great weekend!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 3 months ago

This is definitely more than a writing exercise. It's just too good to give up on.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

I appreciate that, Pop! I'm so glad it was well-received.

johnmariow profile image

johnmariow 3 months ago from Connecticut

Excellent story. Very sad and in a sense very tragic. But it is indeed reality for many people.

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Bill, that was as excellent a piece of writing that I have seen in a long time. You bent down, reached into the mud and lifted it as clumps and splatters, dripped out and hit the ground. Your characters are 'instantly' real. Having had the 'honor' to stand guard duty in the cold, I know that you describe that penetrating chill that makes the skin crawl.

I have to tell you, that I have thought of writing 'first chapters' knowing that there is not a novel developed to support it.

The trouble with sinking into the darkness of your emotions, is that you can become bogged down in it, 'for your art' - not recommended. And besides, I don't think your Sister can handle it :) She swells with compassion.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a powerful story, Bill. Although it's fictional, it reflects some people's reality. Thank you for reminding us of their situation.

BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Such a good story and so well written. I do hope you continue past the first chapter.

Faith Reaper 3 months ago

Wow, Bill, You certainly do write the dark side of reality well! I love the pace of your writing here as it didn't seem to get bogged down but was ever flowing. Your "bums" and "prostitute" are shown and made real to us here ...being that is what society tends to forget ...the are real people!

Maybe I'm an idealist in thinking there should never be, especially here in America, one hungry child, a homeless veteran or precious little girls who are prey to men with evil in their hearts. I can just see Princess with that fiery red hair and crown walking down the street.

Well done!

Peace and blessings

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 3 months ago from San Diego California

I hope you choose to continue this. I'm betting you will. Powerful stuff.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

Excellent. You do the dark stuff well. Bev is right.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you very much Johnmariow!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Mike, coming from you, a master storyteller, those are high words of praise. Thank you my friend.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

And thank you, Alicia, for allowing me to shout from the pulpit for awhile.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

I will indeed, Blossom. Thanks for the nice words.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Faith, if you're an idealist then I'm one too, and I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, I think we need quite a few more yous and mes. LOL

blessings, my friend, and thanks!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

I will, Mel, and thank you! I am enjoying these characters too much to stop now.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Bev, a good rule for me to follow....Bev is almost always right. Thank you!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 months ago

Your opening paragraphs hooked me for the story. The reality of two homeless people is well described and so true to life. This is going to be an interesting series. Now, I have to get a cup of hot tea to warm up, all the cold weather here has gotten to me.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 3 months ago from United Kingdom

I like when you indulge your 'dark' side. Not sure what that means really. What people call dark I call reality. Anyway, you've got me hooked, as always. Your characters are engaging and I'm genuinely interested in what happens to them next.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Dee, thank you so much. I love the beginnings of a story, when I first meet the characters and I begin to understand their thank you for enjoying Max and the Princess.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

They are on the move, Zulma, and they invite you to join them this Wednesday.

Thank you my friend. I value your opinion greatly.

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas



We're open for entries.

First 5000 words

Enter for only £12.00

Have you what it takes?

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thanks Mike!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Well this is a first for me! I actually got all choked up and fought back a flow of tears with this one. This story may be classified as 'dark' but as far as I'm concerned this is a compelling wake-up call. I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in and can fill my belly with food. My dignity remains safe and I can even take a bath without waiting for Saturday to arrive.

It's kind of weird that I ran across this hub today. This morning I was going into Walgreens to pick up a prescription. My drive took me through a 'seedy' part of town. I usually put the metal to the pedal when I come to this area but traffic was bumper-to-bumper which gave me time to sight-see a bit.

As I pulled up to a red light I looked to my right and was surprised to see a woman sitting on the side walk with 2 small children. It was around 1:00 pm and I found myself wondering if this little family had food. I instantly spotted a Mc Donald's turned into the drive-thru and ordered 2 Happy Meals for the little ones along with a king size burger and fries for the mother. I can't begin to describe the joy I experienced as they accepted my little gift.

Anyhow, thanks Bill for this first chapter. Waiting with anticipation for chapter 2.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Audrey, you are a gem! Thank you for "getting it" with this story. If we could multiply your actions of kindness one million times, we just might tilt the scales a bit. One small step at a time, my friend.

Thank you and oh, by the way, have I told you recently I love you? :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 months ago from Central Florida

Bill, this "writing exercise" has the makings of a documentary on homelessness from a first person perspective.

I agree with Bev: you do dark very well. You paint it as you see it, using words that create vivid images in the readers mind.

I hope you continue with this story. I'm curious to see where it goes.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

I'm curious where it's going too, Sha. I'll find out tomorrow. Thanks for the kind words. I don't ever want the homeless to be forgotten or ignored.

Deb Hirt 2 months ago

Living with the odds against you is a tough life, but that could be just as much against you as what you started out with. Sounds good so far.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Valid point, Deb! Valid point!

Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 2 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I had to start from the beginning and I love this story. It is a bit gritty but not GRITTY. It is the edge that I allow myself to go when I want to express myself and only common language will do to get the feeling out,

I was in the ally with the characters. I felt the rats. I felt the cold. I smelled the stench. I was walking with the princes. I was avoiding the cops. I lived in this story while I read it and it was real to me. Thanks for this. I am on to chapter two.

Mizbejabbers 2 months ago

Just catching up on my reading, Bill. I got behind the last couple of weeks. You are a master at dark writing, and I will read yours although it isn't my favorite genre. Looks like this one is off to a good start.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Rodric, that is high praise and I thank you very much. My goal is always to make the characters come alive on the page, so you just brought a smile to my face.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

And I appreciate you hanging with me, MizB, even though this isn't your favorite genre. Thanks so much.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 2 months ago from Oklahoma

Whether you stick with it or not, I sure admire your sticktoitiveness. I have so many writing projects I haven't followed up on it isn't even funny.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

All in good time, Larry! The nice thing is those projects will be there when you're ready to go. Thanks for catching up on my articles.

ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 2 months ago from North Carolina


Per usual, you do not disappoint. Great start with all the right ingredients. So many great descriptions of setting, characters and life on the streets. You are such a natural storyteller, and, I for one, am grateful to call myself one of your biggest fans.



billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

And Kim, I appreciate you very much. Thank you and it's good to see you writing and commenting again. You've been missed.

blessings always


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 2 months ago from Florida

I already know I'm going to enjoy this story as it develops. It's a heart-wrenching topic of war-torn heroes, and I say heroes, because this story about a soldier is one that many soldiers today face after coming home.

I felt extreme sadness while reading this first chapter. I also felt admiration for you and how you just put a face on the struggle and pain of so many that deserve so much better when they return home to America. Your character may be fiction, but so many out in the world today are real.

Thank you for sharing your stories and knowledge of real life with us, and I really want to say CONGRATULATIONS to you on your hubbie award. I voted for you and am very pleased that you won in that category. I mean, who else could have won? You're Awesome Friend!!

I look forward to finding the time to read chapter 2, and I promise I will. :) Peace always be with you and yours! ~Missy

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you so much, Missy! I appreciate all of your kind words, and your friendship, and most of all, that heart that drives you on.

Michael Milec 2 months ago

Apparently your secret hiding storage of supply has endless space, my friend. Your announcement as an excercise writing pretentious though already resound more like actual world scene we live in.

Blessing and peace.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Michael my friend, thank you so much. It truly was an exercise. I'm trying to grow as a writer and this is the only way I know how to do that. I'm so happy you found this worthy.

blessings always

Lawrence Hebb 2 months ago


A good start to the story, two real people, maybe down but not 'out'. Keep it going 'bro'

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Lawrence. I will, indeed, keep it going.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 2 months ago from Texas

I've never been on the streets, thank God, but I have been officially classified as homeless before when we were living in a motel. There are slummy (for the most part) motel owners that allow their workers to have a room in exchange for working so many hours or taking care of certain duties such as desk work, maintenance, or housekeeping. I would never have known that if not for experience.

Right now in Dallas there is a city-wide issue with the homeless. They set up encampments under overpass bridges. Over the summer, the city ran them away from one location. I suppose they thought they were cleaning up the area. They assigned some caseworkers that probably helped some of them get IDs and things they needed in order to get a home and a job, etc. But not all of them were helped, of course, and the rest just moved to another location. Now they want to run them off again, and some of them are just going back to the original location.

They've been holding city council meetings trying to figure out how to spend money allocated to addressing the problem. Hopefully, they find a solution that works for everyone. I get it, it's gross and a real health hazzard to have so many people living that way without facilities to take care of themselves properly or to clean up after their own waste. But, as your dad so wisely pointed out to you, they are all human beings. They all have a story to tell. Ant not all of them want to be living that way.

By the way, I'm going to offer a suggestion because you seem to be the kind to appreciate them, so I I hope you don't take it the wrong way. Besides, I agree with your wife. You do dark very well, wherever it comes from. I think it's the way you explore both sides of the coin when you tell a darker story. Anyway. feedback has to do with the paragraph about shuffling down South Water Street. It's all one long sentence that was rather hard to follow. I"m not sure if it was a run-on sentence or just too much for my mind to take in all at once. I had to read it twice to fully follow it.

I'll be back to read the following chapters eventually. LOL I"m always behind, it seems.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

Shannon, thank you for all that. I don't mind help like that at all. I wrote that sentence that way on purpose, to change the flow, to give a sense of confusion and urgency and....maybe I missed the mark. I have no idea unless someone says something, so I really appreciate you mentioning it.

As for the homeless, the problem continues in practically every city in this country. Our city of Olympia is addressing it by building low-income housing and increasing job placement programs as well as increasing the mental health budget. Seattle is attacking it in similar fashion. One thing that obviously does not work is running them off in hopes they won't come back. That's a no-win for all of us.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 2 months ago from Texas

I didn't feel the urgency in that sentence because I was confused. Confusion, yes. LOL. But not entirely for the reason you intended, at least not with me. But I'm just one reader and I usually am off the mark myself with the way I read and interpret things. hahaha! So don't necessarily believe me. I may be the lone one out.

Yes.. .I think many people could've told them their original plan wasn't going to accomplish anything. Short of running them out of town altogether, they need long term solutions to solve the problem. And running people out of a city will not solve the problem as a nation.

I read an article someone posted onoline a few months ago about a well-known homeless man from my home town. I beleive he was a vetern and he suffered from various things that prevented him from bettering his situation. The article was about hsi life because he had passed away. Someone finally got him a legal advocate that secured some funds owed to him by the government or the military....from somewhere. Then they were able to get him placed in an assited living facility and get the medical care and attention he deserved. Sort of a sad story and an inspirational one all at the same time. I mean, this guy was just a fixture. Locals accepted him for a person. He smiled and waved at people, but he never asked for anything from anyone.

And then there was an experience I'll never forget when I was in Chicago with someone I briefly dated. He lived there. I grew up a couple of hours south of there, so I was unfamiliar with most of the city. But I was walking with him and stopped, intending to give a guy a couple of bucks who just seemed down and out. It was all I had on me. I knew they say to bring the necessities or food and not money in case it is a scammer and because it helps more than money does. But it was all I had and this guy wasn't panhandling. He was just there. He looks so sad to me. Anyway, the guy I was dating grabbed me by the arm and pulled me along in a hurry, as if this guy was nothing. I was quite appalled and made my opinion clear to him. In my opinion and in my experience, most people who are that down and out do not panhandle. They'd rather work or do something to help themselves as best they can. Maybe it's pride. Maybe it's shame. Maybe it's both. Or perhaps, they're just good people who don't want to take advantage of others. I don't know, but I am fairly certain that the majority will not beg.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA Author

it's just one big complicated mess, Shannon! I think this problem has gotten so big, so fast, that most cities have no clue how to fix it, or if they do have a clue, like Olympia where I'm at, they don't have the funds to properly tackle the problem. I was teaching school for a couple years down in Beaverton, Oregon, and it only took me a couple days there to notice there were no homeless. I finally asked someone about it and they told me the city council had outlawed the homeless from their city. If homeless were found they were picked up and driven to the city limits and told not to return.

The short-sightedness of some politicians boggles my mind.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 7 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Bill,

The good news about being late is that I know you have moved way past Chapter One.

I spent some time looking at the comments too - what a beautiful and compassionate community we hang out with.

This story hits my heart reminding me of some of the most disturbing, yet rewarding, time spent working with the homeless in Philadelphia...not so terribly far from Pittsburgh.

Hope you are having a peaceful week and will be catching up as I can.

Love, Maria

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Maria, welcome to the party...not a particularly happy party, but an important one. You are always welcome to travel with Max and Katie.



Genna East profile image

Genna East 6 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi Billy...

I'm late, I know. My apologies but I've been on a kind of leave from HP for months. (It's a bizarre story in itself, but does not have an ending quite yet.)

A superb opening grabs us, quiet, in that dark night. When the grey dawn arrives, we are in his head and see what he sees; we walk each step in that head-down shuffle, searching, knowing, feeling, breathing the cold homeless air that never leaves.

"In Pittsburgh, for the un-chosen, the sun never truly rises." There is so much conveyed just in this one sentence. It is poetry.

This is masterful writing, my friend. You are and always will be one of my favorite writers.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

That means a great deal to me, Genna. Thank you! Every once in a while I'll write a sentence like that and I'll be proud of my writing. :)

annart profile image

annart 6 weeks ago from SW England

Thought I'd read this but if I did I obviously didn't leave a comment - how did that happen?!

Gripping is the first word that comes to mind. We are with this guy and we feel the injustice of it all.

By the way, what is a 'mofo'? All I can think of is 'morning fog' but it could be anything!

Your characters are rounded, tough and vulnerable for all their hard exterior; it takes some writing to get all that across - I salute you, bill!

Enjoy this Friday and the following weekend! Hope all is well with you and yours.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Happy Friday, Ann, and thank you so much. I'm really relating to this character, for whatever reason. I feel him as I write...and mofo....means....mother-fuc..... I can't write the rest, but it is street slang used often in the wrong parts of town.


annart profile image

annart 6 weeks ago from SW England

Oh I'm far too genteel to think of that - ha, ha! Thanks for enlightening me!

I think that when any writer is into the character and can identify with him/her, it shows and makes it all the more real, along with the writing flair of course.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 6 weeks ago from Northern California, USA

I have to agree with Bev. You do dark well. And, you keep it real. Really real! Homelessness is real. But, many of us do not understand it to the level you help us visualize here. Just like jet-setters have their lifestyle for fun, homeless people have their lifestyle for survival. Well done!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thanks Ann! I can safely state that I never use that particular phrase, but I have heard it on the streets, so there you go...authenticity won the day. :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you Marlene! Dark flows easily from me, but I have to do it in spurts, or I'll find myself in a dark place. I appreciate your kind words and thoughts.

pstraubie48 5 weeks ago

How many times must I say never ever fail to deliver (and I am not one to use absolutes often :D).... I was there....each word drawing me more and more in...

Been there...not to this extent...but been homeless so I know know know what it feels like to be one of the 'disenfranchised', to be invisible, to struggle, to be cold and afraid but DETERMINED.... I will be back to catch up...

Hugs and blessings and a host of Angels headed to you and your lovely one ps

billybuc profile image

billybuc 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you PS and I hope I never do fail. My job, as a writer, is to make you feel, so the day I fail to do that, I will have failed as a writer.

Angels winging their way back to you with love and hugs.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

What a great slice of talent you have, Bill. This story comes alive from the first sentence with characters that jump off the page and into my heart. I'm already rooting for Princess Kate to find her salvation and for the narrator to rescue himself. You're off to a fine start and this will be one incredible tale.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you so very much, Peg! I really appreciate that.

norlawrence 2 weeks ago

Very good. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the share

billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 days ago from Olympia, WA Author

Thank you norlawrence. I'm glad you could stop by to meet my two characters.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article