Note: This story does not have sex in it. If there is, it is implied and you will have to imagine it yourself. This is a story about a gay man and his journey though life. There are some religious points in the plot, and in no way I do I presume to give anything as that religions official stance. If you want to know more about the religions stance, please investigate.

Please understand that the people are fictional, the places are fictional (cities are not). If reading this material is against your morals (or your laws), please do not go beyond this point. This story is the property of the author.

Enjoy!

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Challenges

Part I

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*** Modern Day***

 

The plane banked west as it made its final approach to the Albuquerque International Airport. Beneath the plane Justin Leary saw the Rio Grande snake through the Bosque on its way south. He always loved flying into this airport for the view it offered.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are making our final approach. Please have all seats and trays in their upright position and have any trash ready for pick up by the cabin crew.” The stewardess made the announcement as the other two stewards walked down the aisle. The plane was not full, which was nice since Justin got to sit by himself. It was also nice because he had the opportunity to talk to one of the stewards: Jason Hill.

Over the course of the trip from Seattle, Washington they were able to have a bit of chit chat about life. He seemed like a nice guy, and even wanted to chat with him again. He had asked how long he would be in New Mexico, and that if he had the chance to call him when he got back to Seattle.

“Any trash?” Jason broke Justin’s train of thought and pulled him from the window.

“No.” Justin grinned. The man was highly attractive. “Thanks.”

Jason smiled back and walked past to the next set of people behind him. Justin sighed sharply and turned his attention back to the window. They were slowly getting closer to the ground. He did not like landing as it always scared him. He looked up towards the front of the plan and saw the female steward buckle into her chair. It must have sucked to have to face backwards on a plane.

The plane landed 20 minutes later and was at the gate. Justin took his time getting his things together as he wanted to take his time to get off. He wanted to see if he could say bye to Jason.

You going to get off?” Jason came up teasing him.

“I will.” Justin laughed. For some reason he liked talking to Jason and he had a good personality. “I just was hoping to say bye first.”

Aww.” Jason slugged him a bit on the shoulder. “Thanks.” He picked up the luggage that was sitting on the chair. “Let me help you.”

“Thanks.” They walked to the front of the plane where the captain had opened the door and was visiting with the other stewards. He glanced up and saw Justin and Jason heading up front. He smiled at both of them but kept talking.

“I usually work these flights from Seattle to Albuquerque, so maybe I will see you on the way home.” Jason said hopefully. “If not call me when you get home.”

“I will.” Justin wanted to hug the man but thought better. A bit awkward with the rest of the crew standing there, and he wasn’t sure if Jason was that type of guy.

After taking his luggage from Jason, Justin walked down the gang way. As he exited into the terminal he made his way to the rental car area and pulled out his phone and dialed a number.

“Hey mom. I landed.” He said as his mother picked up. “Yes. It was a good flight. No, I should be there in an hour or so.” He said his goodbyes and hung up.

After he picked up the keys to his rental he made his way out and onto the interstate to head south. His home town was a small city 70 miles to the south. He grew up there, but after high school he left the town and went to college, and then moved to Seattle to work. He liked coming home when he could, but his mother tended to be on the not-so-supportive side of his life.

This trip was a bit different too. An old high school and college romance he had, contacted him several weeks ago as he was planning to come home. The email he received stated that he had heard that he was heading to town and wanted to see him as he had some important news to give. Justin did not email him back as he was not sure he wanted to open that wound again.

Heading south on I-25 he passed the edge of Albuquerque and crossed the Rio Grande which was running hard after the rain that they had the past few days. He turned the radio on and relaxed as he headed south to his old stomping grounds.

***

An hour later he pulled off the interstate and a sign that read “Socorro/Magdalene”. The town was one of the first placed the conquistadors stopped on their way up north from Mexico and the exploration for more gold: The fabled Seven Cities of Gold. The town was more famous for New Mexico Tech and the Very Large Array, or the VLA as it was commonly referred too, to the west. He had been to the VLA as a kid several times and was always amazed at the large dishes that looked up into the sky for exploration and the possibility for life.

Before heading home he took a side trip. His old romance lived on the west side of town near the large mountain with an “M” on it. He decided he would see if he was home and surprise him. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but he figured he had nothing to lose. He knew the romance was gone, but he would like to see an old friend.

His friend lived in a large house that was white, and had some acreage to it. Horses were grazing in the last field as he drove past. He slowed when he saw a large number of cars outside the house, and people dressed nice were moving around in the back area of the house. Loud music was playing under a large tent. Justin sighed under his breath. He will just come back later. As he drove past he noticed a large banner was hung next to the house: “Congratulation to Nate & Sarah”. Justin swallowed hard. That must have been what Nate wanted to tell him: he was getting married. He continued down the road and turned the car back towards the east to his parent’s house.

***

Since Socorro was not that large, it only took a short 10 minutes to get to his parents house. Before getting home he pulled over to the side of the road and laid his head against the car seat. He was not sure why he felt like he had lost something, but after seeing the banner he could not help but feel betrayed and hurt. He sighed again and pulled out his phone. He had to talk to Sharron.

The phone rang three times before getting picked up.

“Lucy’s House of Whores.” A female voice picked up.

“Hey Sharron.” Justin laughed a bit but his current mood did not obscure his foul mood.

Aww,” Sharron cooed through the phone. “What is wrong pumpkin?”

“Apparently Nate wanted to see me to tell me he was getting married.”

“That slut!” Sharron spewed through the phone. “ I am sorry love.”

Justin had to laugh a bit. Sharron always liked to over dramatize the situation, but in this case it made him laugh. She had no idea that calling Nate a slut was ironic because Sarah was the one that was always loose.

It’s okay. “ Justin smiled. “I met a guy on the airplane.”

Ohh. Not a complete loss?”

“No. I got his number. He wants to meet up when I get back to Seattle.”

“You go girl!” Sharron said. In the background the bell to her shop dinged. “Got go love. Be safe!”

“Bye.”

Justin hung up and grinned. He had met Sharron a week after he arrived in Washington. He was lost and she had helped him find his way, and they had been good friends ever since. She ran a small dress shop, which sold custom made dresses.

Justin started moving the car again. He was almost home. He loved his parents, even if they were a bit conservative. His mom never truly accepted his sexuality, but they did love him, and he was always welcome home. He sometimes wanted to talk about his sadness and romances with other guys, but they never seemed interested.

His parents lived in a large two story country style building on the east side of town. They owned 20 acres of land that was adjacent to the house, and another 50 acres to the north that was separate. His father raised a few sheep, but most of his farming was in livestock feed.

He pulled down the dirt driveway, and pulled in next to his parent’s truck. Sandy and Cougar, his parent’s labs, was at the gate waiting to great him.

“Hey boys!” Justin said as he got out of the car. “Did you miss me?” They wagged their tales harder.

With all the commotion outside his mother came to the door and opened it.

“Hey son!” his mother called out.

“Hey mom.” Justin was pulling his luggage from the back of the car and rolled it up to the front gate. The labs were even more excited the closer he got. “Get down. Get down.” He pushed them back as he made his way through the gate.

Inside he put his luggage off to the side and hugged his mom.

“Are you hungry?” She asked as she looked at him. “You don’t eat well there Seattle. No good woman to take care of you.”

“Mom!” Justin started to protest, but knew it would get him nowhere. His mom always brought up that he need to find a good girl to settle down with. She just did not get that he was not into women. He liked them enough, but only as friends. They brought no excitement to his life.

Growing up in a religious Mormon family was not easy. It was difficult to find a balance between his belief in God and his own sexuality. He had been taught that homosexuality was a sin, and that it was something the devil used to bring people away from God. When he was 13, Justin knew something was different, and that what was expected of him by others were not his own personal feelings. By the time he was 14 he knew without a doubt that he was attracted to boys and not to the girls.

These feelings became more evident when he went to church dances. Once a month one of the churches in his district would hold a dance for the area youth. The goal was for good wholesome fun and contact could be had, with proper adult supervision. He would go because it gave him a chance to get out with his friends. He never had a lack of dance partners, but he never enjoyed the dance itself. As he would dance he secretly wished he could dance with the guy to his left or to his right.

The big challenge came when he was 15 and being interviewed by the Bishop for a position in the young men’s program.

***16 years ago***

“Do you follow the Word of Wisdom?” the bishop asked.

“Yes. As best I can.” The Word of Wisdom was not difficult to follow, but made his social activities difficult at times. “I have a Coke now and then.”

“Do you keep the law of chastity?”

“Yes.”

“Is there anything in your life that you think would hinder your ability, or makes you unworthy to hold this position?”

Justin thought for a moment. He knew he could not lie, but he knew that if he said something his parents would find out.

“Will my parents find out?” Justin asked with a low voice.

“As long as your life or others lives are not in danger, this is between us.” The bishop smiled to give comfort.

“I have feelings towards other men.” Just put his hands in his lap and looked down. “I am not attracted to girls like the other boys are.”

“Have you acted on these feelings?” the bishop was still smiling and had a soft voice.

“No.”

“I see no problem then.” The bishop leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment. “There is nothing wrong with the emotions and thoughts. If that were the case no one would be worthy to do anything. But the action is going to be the problem.”

“I guess.” Justin never liked that explanation. It was like saying you can have the emotions and feelings, but acting upon them is the problem.

“Let me explain it this way: If you were attracted to a women, and you wanted to be with her sexually, that is okay. Acting upon that emotion before marriage would be a problem.”

“So if I marry a guy then it would be okay?” Justin looked up even more puzzled.

“Well,” the bishop frowned, “no. There is no way for you to marry another man.”

“A life of solitude then?” Justin frowned again. “A life of solitude, or a life of sin. Nice.”

“I believe someday if you keep the commandments and live a life of righteousness, all things will be granted to you. You may even find a woman that you are emotional and sexually able to attach to” The bishop had no other advice, and Justin never liked that explanation either.

“Thanks bishop.”

After that day his depression sat in. He was consigned to a life of solitude, and loneliness. When he normally hung out with friends after school he came home and stayed in his room, or went out to mess with the sheep. His older brother, Matt, tried to talk to him, but was always met with a sharp tongue and uncaring brother.

At school his grades started to decline. He went from an A students to a D student in a matter of weeks. He never was a behavioral problem but lost interest in excelling in his grades. In his mind his world was bleak and so should his life.

Several of his friends attempted to talk to him, but he always seemed to shove them away. Human contact hurt him more than anything. He watched as the other boys in his grade sat around with their girlfriends and held hands or kissed. He wished he could get rid of these feelings he had.

Daily his life was spiraling out of control and he saw it. He prayed daily that he would be able to find his way out of this depression, that he would find a way out of his emotions, and that life would return to normal. Every day he went to bed with sadness in his heart, and tears in his eyes. To be told his life would be lonely was hard to take.

Justin’s parents were at a loss as to what to do. They had attempted to get counseling, but every day Justin sat with the counselor and never said a word. The Bishop made several attempts to talk with Justin as his parents were concerned drugs were involved. The Bishop assured them that was not the case.

Two days before his 16th birthday his brother came into his room. After several attempts to talk to him his brother had enough. He would be graduating in May, and then off to college in August. He would then most likely go on a mission to some faraway land. He was not going to leave without knowing his kid brother was okay.

“Justin!” he came barging into the room. “Get your shoes on and some pants!” He went to the closet and pulled some clothes out and some shoes.

“Go away.” Justin was laying on his bed looking out the window. He rolled over so he didn’t have to see his brother.

“Either you come with me on your own free will, or I will carry you.” Matt could do it. He was 6’ 4’’ and on the swim team. His legs were thick, but his upper body was lanky. Swimmers did not need tons of mass, otherwise they would just slow down.

Justin rolled over and picked up the clothes and put them on. He may not have wanted to go, but he knew his brother would pull him out kicking and screaming.

They went outside, and Matt started to head for the ditch bank. He turned around without stopping and motioned for Justin to follow. “Come on.”

They walked along the ditch bank until they came to a crossing, and made their way across. On the other side of the ditch were two flood control canals, and then finally the Rio Grande.

Justin smiled for the first time as he remembered back when they were younger, Matt would take him to a special hiding spot and they would stay there all day. It was for them and them alone. They would just talk about anything. Sometimes they would just sit there just listening to nature surround them.

When they got to the spot, it was almost hard to recognize. The area had been taken back over by nature. They had spent hours cleaning the area, and even made some make shift chairs out of logs they found.

“Man it has been years since we came out here.” Matt laughed and kicked some logs around. “I miss our talks out here. We used to tell each other everything.”

“Yea.” Justin nodded, and went to the area he always claimed. He knew what Matt was up to. Here with no one to overhear them, Matt wanted to know what was going on.

Matt said nothing but sat down on the log and just listened to nature. Spring was here and the trees were starting to grow green. The bugs were not yet fully active, so no need for bug repellent. Matt would let Justin have his moment of peace.

“I love it out here.” Matt looked around. “We should go up to the canyon sometime. Maybe this weekend?” Matt asked with sincerity. They used to go and hike around the canyons all the time with their dad.

“Maybe.” Justin sat down on a log opposite Matt and picked up a stick. He started to draw in the ground. Matt just watched patiently.

“I can’t believe you are already 16 in a few days.” Matt broke the silence after a few moments. “You are growing up to be a handsome young man.”

“Does it matter if I am handsome or not?” Justin smirked back. He felt bad for treating Matt this way and almost regretted his language. Matt just smiled.

“Of course it matters.” Matt picked up his own stick and started to drawn in the dirt as well. “If you want to find someone to love, you have to love yourself.”

“Then it doesn’t matter, because I won’t find someone.” Justin felt the doom and darkness start to flood the area. He did not need to find someone, so what did it matter if he was attractive. He felt the air flow to his lungs become restricted.

“Then find yourself handsome for your own personal self.” Matt stopped drawing in the ground and looked right at Justin, who was still face down. “Love yourself first. Never let someone else tell you otherwise.”

“Easy for you to say.” Justin threw the stick on the ground. “You have everything you wanted. You even have a girlfriend!”

“You could have one if you wanted.” Matt said quietly.

“I don’t want one!” Justin yelled back. As soon as the words escaped his mouth he regretted it, and knew the door was open. He knew his brother would understand what he meant, and that he would tell their mother, and his life would go from hellish to outright hell.

“I see.” Matt sat for moment thinking about it. Justin went back to drawing in the dirt.

Justin and Matt sat for about 10 minutes before Matt interrupted the silence.

“Do you want a boyfriend?”

“Doesn’t matter.” Justin started to tear up. “I am destined to be alone for the rest of my life. That is what the bishop told me. I cannot have these feelings and act upon them.”

“I see.” Matt put his hands on his knees and started to hum a song that he hummed when he was thinking.

Justin looked up at his brother and was shocked he hadn’t yelled at him.

“I think,” Matt started, “that you are my brother, and that you are a Child of God. Therefore, you were made in his image. He loves everyone unconditionally, and therefore, would love you regardless of who you loved. You have a challenge little brother. A challenge that will be with you for the rest of your life. But always know I love you. I want you to be happy. I am not sure how mom and dad would react, but I know they love you too. Do not despair over this. If you find love, regardless of the person’s gender, you found love.”

Justin just stared at Matt. Matt was older, but he never knew Matt understood so much about life.

“What about it being a sin?” Justin wanted to hear his response to that.

“The sin is being lustful. The sin is being unfaithful. The sin is being angry. But love is not a sin.” Matt responded without thinking. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”

“Way to go on the seminary class!” Justin laughed as his brother recited 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. “I never could get any of them memorized like that.”

“If love is all those things, then how can it be a sin?” Matt smiled and stood up. “Let’s go.”

Matt stood up and started to walk away, but stopped to turn around.

“You really need to pick yourself up. Don’t despair in what others tell you.” Matt turned and walked off.

Justin smiled and vowed to turn everything around. He would be the person he was meant to be.

***

Authors note:

I am in the process of rewriting all the chapters.

Please feel free to email me with comments and suggestions about this story at sockingsaw@hotmail.com

If you also would like to volunteer to be a proof read I am looking for one as well.

Also, please consider donating to nifty.org for having a place host these stories. You can donate at donate.nifty.org. Good reading to you all.

Matt (Socks)