This story will center around characters introduced in chapter 60 of The Long Road and may feature other characters from that story. It is not necessary to read The Long Road, but I highly recommend it.

Feedback and comments are more than welcome and may be emailed to me at playmaster0023@yahoo.com. I hope you enjoy this story.

Jim

Aaron's Journey Down the Long Road (part of The Long Road series, copyright by Jim Dunaway, all rights reserved)

Chapter 1

"STRIKE 3 YOU'RE OUT!" The stands erupted in bedlam as players converged on the pitcher's mound to grab Aaron and hoist him up on their shoulders. He had just pitched a no-hitter, allowing his high school team to win the state championship.

The following evening everyone on the team and their girlfriends were going to be attending a special dinner in honor of their victory, followed by a party at a teammate's house. Everyone except Aaron, that is, who didn't have a date and really didn't want to go the party. He had returned home right after the dinner was over. About an hour before the party was to start there was a knock on his bedroom door. He opened it to reveal his best friend Jerry. "Hey, why aren't you ready to go?" he asked.

"I'm not really up to going out tonight." Aaron answered him.

"Aaron, you gotta go. We couldn't have won the state championship without you. It won't be the same without you there. Why don't you want to go? Is it because you don't have a date? It's not too late to get someone to go with you. My sister would love to go out with you."

Aaron sighed deeply. All through high school somebody was trying to fix him up with this girl or that girl. I can't do this anymore. I can't keep living this double life. I just don't want to do it anymore. "Jerry can we talk seriously for a minute?"

"Sure, buddy. What's up?"

"We've been best friends for a long time, right?"

"Since junior high school. Why?"

"I have something important to tell you, but I'm not sure how you're going to take it."

"Dude, you're scaring me a little. Are you like, dying or something?"

Aaron gave a mirthless chuckle. "No, I'm not dying, but what I have to tell you could affect our friendship." He looked Jerry straight in the eyes. "Jerry, I'm gay."

"Ha ha very funny. So what do you say? You want me to call my sister? She can be ready in an hour."

"Jerry, I'm not kidding. I'm homosexual."

Jerry just looked at him for a moment, then got up and turned on him with clenched fists. "You're a fucking faggot? God you make me sick. WE'VE HAD SLEEPOVERS AT EACH OTHER'S HOUSES. FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, WE'VE EVEN SLEPT IN THE SAME BED TOGETHER. How many times have we been naked in the locker room together? How many times have we showered together? I bet you've been either wanting to suck my dick or fuck me up the ass. Well, guess what, faggot? It ain't gonna happen. Not now, not ever!" Jerry turned on his heel and walked out of his life forever, leaving him in a state of complete shock.

Aaron's younger sister Alison watched Jerry storm down the stairs and out the front door, slamming it as he did so. Puzzled, she went upstairs to Aaron's room, finding him huddled on his bed crying miserably. "Aaron? What's wrong, honey?" She asked, sitting on the bed. "What's going on with Jerry?"

In a voice choked with tears he told his sister what had happened and that he was gay and just lost his best friend. Alison was so surprised she didn't know what to say. He had always been quiet and never dated, but she had attributed that to being busy with sports and working in a one-hour photo lab. This she never would have suspected in a million years. Aaron mistook her stunned silence for disapproval. "It would appear that I have lost you too." He jumped up, grabbed a bag out of his closet, threw a few clothes into it and was out the door before she could even react. He spent the next two hours driving around aimlessly, not knowing exactly what to do when his cell phone rang. The display identified the caller as his father. "Hi, dad."

"Aaron, I just received a very disturbing phone call from Jerry's father. According to him, you made lewd sexual advances towards Jerry."

"Dad, it's not true. He wanted me to take his sister out to the victory party tonight and I refused."

"Why on earth would you do that?"

"Because I'm eighteen and she's only twelve."

"I don't believe you. You didn't want to take her out because you're a faggot."

"Dad, I refused to take her to the party because she's underage and there was going to be alcohol there. I didn't want to get into any kind of trouble. It has nothing to do with the fact that I'm gay." He cringed as he realized that he had inadvertently outted himself to his father, a well-known and outspoken homophobe.

"Ah the truth comes out. It explains why you never had a steady girlfriend. So you admit that you are a faggot."

There was no sense in denying it, even if he wanted to. "Yeah, dad, I'm gay, and you know what? I'm not ashamed of it. I'm still the same person I was yesterday. Hell, I'm the same person I was two hours ago. No, scratch that. I'm a better person than I was two hours ago. I'm not hiding or lying about who I am anymore."

"Well, since you've chosen this path you can choose another place to live. You are no longer welcome in my house. In addition, you are banned from having any further contact with your brother or your sister. If necessary I will get a legal restraining order."

"Don't trouble yourself. Alison has already made her feelings known, and I'm sure Justin will feel the same way." He hung up, pulled into the nearest parking lot and cried. After a while he pulled himself together and went to find a place to stay for the night. After checking into a nearby hotel he went to the nearest pharmacy and picked up some travel-sized toiletries. He spent the rest of the evening pondering his future and finally around eleven came to a decision.

The next day he went to his high school guidance counselor to discuss the possibility of an early graduation. Being an exceptional student, he had more than enough credits to graduate, and given the fact that the guidance counselor and the high school principal were just as eager to rid themselves of the deviant as his father was, his diploma was given to him that afternoon. It came as no surprise to him that his father had already called the school and had spoken with them. With diploma in hand his next stop was the Air Force Recruitment office and the beginning of his new life. He had for the longest time wanted to be a firefighter, an occupation that his parents were dead set against. Now he was going to be one, even though it had cost him the one thing that mattered more to him than anything -- his family.