At I Heart Lesfic, we believe the world could use a bit more kindness after one of the hardest and longest of years. Many authors have signed up to help IHL spread kindness in the world.
Today, the wonderful Les Mood is here to share a story. Also, Caramel Kisses, by Les, is free on Amazon through September 28. More details below.
Take it away, Les.
KINDNESS TO STRANGERS
It was during the last pandemic. In the 1980’s AIDS was running unchecked through the country. With no cure in sight, a diagnosis of AIDS was a death sentence. Particularly hard hit was the gay male population of Southern California. One of those infected was my older brother.
Sam was a classical musician who, like most musicians, had a day job. He was a dispatcher for a delivery company in Santa Monica. Nights and weekends he was rehearsing to conduct a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in the fall of 1987. That was cancelled when, in August, he was admitted to the hospital where he would remain for the short time that remained of his life. He has a panel in the AIDS quilt which describes him as a gentle man.
The Sunset Hollywood Hospital had an entire floor for AIDS patients At that time. Thanks to his day job, Sam had insurance, so his stay was covered. Many of the patients did not, and the hospital would have to eat the cost. Despite that, they did not turn anyone away. As I recall there was one doctor and several nurses and other staff who worked that floor. I don’t remember any of their names, which is a shame as they were true heroes in every sense of the word. In those days medical professionals were as fearful of AIDS, and those who carried it, as everyone else. These wonderful people were able to put their fears aside and care for those who were without hope. In addition to the very real danger they could accidentally get infected, they lived with the knowledge that none of the men they were caring for would leave the hospital alive. The emotional weight of what they were doing must have been enormous. They did it anyway.
Shortly after Sam was hospitalized our parents left their home in Wichita to be with him, staying at the house he owned in the Echo Park neighborhood of Hollywood. Mom was eighty-one at the time and Dad was seventy-eight, both life-long Midwesterners. To my knowledge Wichita was the largest city they had ever lived in. Every morning for over a month they ate breakfast at the same Denny’s Restaurant (knowing what a creature of habit Dad was, I’m sure they sat at the same table every day). After breakfast they got in Sam’s car and drove past the Hollywood Walk of Fame to spend the day in the hospital. It was hard for them, hard on them, to see their son’s slow decline toward the end, but they were there for him.
Every room on the floor was occupied by a young man, boys really, who knew he was there to die. Upon admittance, each was given a teddy bear. For too many, holding that bear was the only form of comfort he had. Some had families too far away to visit regularly. Others had been rejected by those who should have been comforting them. Instead they were alone in their rooms with no one to bring any brightness into their last days.
Except for the elderly couple from Kansas.
Dad, who was always uncomfortable with strangers, looked into every room every day with as cheerful a greeting as he could muster. Mom, who never met a stranger, would stop and sit with each boy; to visit if he was up to it, or just to sit quietly for a while and let him know by her presence that he wasn’t forgotten.
I am a writer. I’m good with words. Yet I don’t have the words to describe what an honor it was to witness so much courage and kindness in the midst of tragedy. The hospital staff who put their fears behind them to care for those young men. The men themselves who were facing certain death. And those two people, whose genes I am proud to share, who did what they could to comfort strangers in a strange land.
by Les Mood
Available in Kindle Unlimited
Emily was new to Omaha, having moved in from Cheyenne when she got a promotion. She made her first friend, Jack, while having coffee before work. When Jack asked her out for dinner and drinks Emily had no idea he would be taking her to a motel bar, where he tried to tempt her up to his room. She also had no idea he was married – until she went to the restroom where she was ambushed and humiliated by his sister-in-law who accused her of malicious sluttery. Months after her ill-fated date, she started attending a yoga class, hoping to make some real friends.
Andrea followed her cheating brother-in-law to a motel bar in Council Bluffs where he was joined by an attractive redhead. When the woman went to the restroom, Andrea took the opportunity to tell the woman what she thought of someone who would sleep with another woman’s husband.
It had been a long time between girlfriends for Andrea and she joined a yoga class in hopes of meeting someone. She developed a crush on Sonja, the good-looking instructor, who appeared to be equally attracted to her. Then She joined the class and Andrea was forced to share the instructor’s attention.
After her own ill-fated date with a philanderer, Andrea realized she might have misjudged Emily. Emily realized she was more attracted to Andrea than she had been to the man who tried to seduce her. When these enemies became friends, things got steamy. But would Emily’s family accept that she was falling for a woman?
This novel, originally published in 2020, has been revised and re-edited.
Caramel Kisses is free on Amazon through September 28.
MEET THE AUTHOR
I learned to read at age four, and have devoured books ever since. After spending nineteen frigid winters in Nebraska, I moved to Arkansas a few years ago where I live in the woods with five dogs, twelve cats (more or less), one donkey and a wife. It was here that I read my first lesbian romance novel and was immediately hooked. There is something magical in stories about two women falling in love. In 2019 I graduated from reader to author. I write romantic stories about women who are rediscovering their sexuality, exploring and indulging in relationships with other women.
CONNECT WITH LES MOOD
Thanks so much for stopping by today.