My novella, “HAVEN,” is a picaresque bit of madness set in the 1970s. Haven Tucker is a former Vietnam Army medic, now working as an ER nurse in Boston when he meets and falls for Tadeo, an Argentine dancer on the wrong side of the Dirty War, who’s stranded Stateside with a brand-new baby. Evil forces mass on either side of the pair as they try, with a colorful supporting cast of Leathermen, Black Panthers, rednecks and medical types, to figure out how to be together and stay safe.
Bedside Manner cover
BEDSIDE MANNER, edited by Jennifer B. and with stories by me, Jane Davitt, and Sean Michael, is a collection of three novellas with medical themes.
 Boston's legendary Ramrod Room has a cameo in "Haven." 
Lee Benoit's HAVEN is a must-read,” says Carole at Rainbow Reviews.
Cassandra Gold, author of “Hit By Love,” says: HAVEN has action, danger, suspense, and a sweet and unexpected romance made all the sweeter by the many obstacles Haven and Tadeo have to face.”
Thanks to my stepdad, an Argentine exile, part of my childhood occurred within the sphere of influence of Argentina's Dirty War (though we lived in the United States and were never in direct danger). Naturally, he didn't share the grisly details with me, but that atmosphere of unrelenting threat, that feeling that you might never be safe? That was something I learned to empathize with quite young.
So, when writing HAVEN I didn't need to do a lot of research on the War and its consequences; I refreshed my memory as to the timeline, but that was about it. Instead, I spent much more time combing through old maps and records of the New York subway system for names of lines and stops as they would have been in the late 70s.  You'd laugh if I told you how many hours I spent tracking down the 1977 subway fare!
Buddies poster
The 1970s were such an exhilarating time in Gay culture. Post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS, the bar scene flourished. Here's a bar poster from the era.

CODE SWITCHING: Four years after "HAVEN," it's 1981 and Haven, now a nurse practitioner, contends with the earliest murmurings about the coming AIDS crisis as a medical professional and as a gay man raising a son with his lover. When a friend and patient dies of a rare pneumonia, Haven and Tadeo's secure life is thrown into disarray. Attacks -- and support -- emerge from unexpected quarters as Nurse Haven Tucker returns in this story set at the dawn of the AIDS crisis.   Will coming out make the crisis easier to bear, or will it tear Haven and Tadeo apart?

Read an excerpt below.

CODE SWITCHING is part of Torquere Press' Charity Sip Blitz, a collection of 22 stories celebrating the theme of "Changing Lives" and benefitting The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Alert readers will notice a familiar character in "Vade Mecum." Young André develops a crush on his tutor Suyai, Tadeo and Haven's son all grown up!
Teresa at Fallen Angel Reviews had this to say:
"Lee Benoit has written a poignant story about the difficulties of being gay in today's society, and the miracle that acceptance and love can bring. ... Thanks go to Lee Benoit for a great story."

VADE MECUM: André is a confused and angry fourteen-year-old boy whose aunt rescues him from state care after the death of his mother. She takes him to live with her motley extended family in a ramshackle old house. Against the backdrop of plans for a most unconventional wedding, André finds himself increasingly helpless to resist the charms of his eccentric aunt, moody grandfather, and sexy tutor. This young adult story is ultimately about finding a place to be oneself, and to belong without question.

Read an excerpt below. 

Here is how "Code Switching" begins:
“Tío, Tío,” a little voice shrills from behind the screen door. “Papa make pandas!”
I dredge up a smile and deny the inordinate hold gravity seems to have on my feet. I force myself to bound up the three steps to the little porch of the bungalow I’ve shared with Tadeo and Suyai for more than four years. That Suyai is truly Tadeo’s and calls me ‘uncle,’ that everyone in our neighborhood assumes Tadeo’s wife was my sister, that we never seemed to disabuse them of the notion, none of those things matter on the other side of the porch door.
Tadeo and our son have been busy -- there’s a lopsided Christmas wreath on the front door with salt-dough renderings of the three of us fastened on with baling wire. At least I hope that’s the three of us -- if they were trying to make a Nativity scene, the Blessed Virgin could really use a shave. I open my mouth to praise the decoration and find my arms full of wriggling four-year-old instead. The oak-framed screen I should have replaced with a storm door months ago slaps my butt and we nearly go sprawling.
“Where’s my sugar?” I growl through my laughter, getting myself a snootful of little boy neck, and an earful of little-boy shriek. “Is it here? No?” I drop the duffel containing my work clothes and tip Suyai over to buzz his quivering belly. He wouldn’t understand, but he’s exactly what I need after the day -- hell, the week -- I’ve had. I carry him toward the kitchen, making the most of my after-work kisses. “How about here? I need my sugar!” Suyai howls with laughter and some little bit of the wretched pain of the past ten hours tears free inside my gut.
By the time Tadeo ambles out from the kitchen grumbling about us letting the heat out the open front door, both Suyai and I are in tears. Tadeo’s dark eyes narrow, and I realize I can’t hide from him the difference between our son’s tears of laughter and my tears of grief. Our eyes meet over Suyai’s riot of curls and in an instant, my lover’s there, his kitchen-damp hands relieving me of my welcome burden and taking a quick kiss -- a promise to relieve all my unwelcome burdens as soon as can be.
“Hey, babe,” I say, relief and love and gratitude conspiring to bring fresh tears to my eyes. “I hear you’re cooking pandas in there.”
Tadeo blinks once and then catches on with a brief grin. “Empanaditas. No bears. What happened?” He adds the last in an undertone, just for my ears.
“Gregory died.” Any more than that will have to wait until later, and even then, I’m not sure how much I can bear to share with my lover. Tadeo went through enough horrors before and after escaping Argentina’s Dirty War to last any sane person a lifetime.
The MacNeil/Lehrer Report drones in the background as I catch up on Tadeo’s and Suyai’s days. Things are blowing up in Lebanon, things are shaping up in Poland, Tadeo’s dance studio is still looking for performance space, and Suyai wants to fly the Space Shuttle when he grows up. It’s normal and homely and solid and I love every minute of it. I don’t want to ruin it by talking about Gregory.
“Those have got to be the best pandas you ever made, babe. Thank you.”
Tadeo smiles. He hates to cook, which is a shame because he’s good at it, especially when he makes a dish from ‘the old country.’ I call it that to tease him.
A very messy dessert of apple slices dipped in Tadeo’s homemade dulce de leche prompts a bath for Suyai, and I clean up the kitchen, all the while thinking of other ways Tadeo and I might use the sweet stuff later, when we’re alone. The traditional one bedtime story turns into two when I join them in Suyai’s little bedroom, then three when I prove helpless against big brown eyes and a guileless “please, Tío, please?”
“You are such a sucker,” Tadeo says after goodnight kisses, night-light lighting and one-more-glass-of-watering. “And you’re stalling.” He knows me so well. Too well.
“Lucky for you, I’m a sucker for your big brown eyes, too,” I remind him. I follow Tadeo into our room, shedding clothing as I go. I try to leer as I say it, but I know I’ve failed when Tadeo fixes me with a sharp look.
“You have had many bad days at work lately, mi amor.” His voice, soft with concern, threatens the control I’d won back during supper and Suyai’s bedtime.
“He died alone, Tadeo. They wouldn’t let Dennis see him. There was no family, not even the Cadorets.” Mem and Pep Cadoret are the oldest residents of our neighborhood, and they’d adopted pretty much everybody on and around River Road that didn’t have other family. They’d adopted me and Tadeo and Suyai the day we moved in four years ago, and they’d always been friendly toward Greg and Dennis even though everyone knew they were queer.
“You told them?” Tadeo asked and I nodded. The old couple had been heartbroken.
Supple arms enfold me and I finally let loose. I sob out the story of Gregory’s strange cancer and the pneumonia that took him in the end. “He was our age, Tadeo, barely thirty. And he wasted away like an old man in a famine.”
Tadeo makes the same soft chucking noise he uses when Suyai skins his knee or misses Sesame Street. With his voice in my ear and his hands skimming up and down my back, I finally feel strong enough to admit the worst thing of all.
“Tadeo, he’s not the only one.”
© Lee Benoit

Here is how "Vade Mecum" begins:
One knock on the dorm's door-jamb is all the warning I get.
"Your aunt's here, Andrew." That's the group home's director, trying to sound all gentle.
"Don't get up," says the lady with her.
I'm folded up on my bed, wrapped up in the one blanket they gave me. It's fucking cold here, and I don't have a coat yet. Didn't need one back home.
I watch her cross the room, trying to keep breathing and not panic. She stops just short of the foot of the bed.
"Oh, my God. You look just like your grandmother."
That fat old hag? "I fucking hope not."
"My mother, I mean. Just wait until your grandfather sees you!" I swear there's a hitch in her voice, which kind of makes me feel better, like I'm not the only one in a panic, here.
"You two might want a few minutes to get acquainted," says the social worker. "I understand it's been a long time since you saw each other."
I have no memories of the curvy, brown-skinned lady in front of me. Not one.
"It was more than ten years ago," my aunt says to the social worker's retreating back. Awkward. "You probably don't remember." She says that to me.
"Nah." I refuse to make it easy on her.
"I'm sorry about your mom."
I'm not. "She was a junkie."
"Doesn't mean she didn't have good in her. She did when I knew her."
"Like you said, long time ago."
"Sister City must seem way different from North Carolina." She's trying too hard.
I shrug.
"Your file says you ran away after your mom died. Asheville?"
I put on my most poisonous smile. "I'm a fucking faggot. Where would you go in NC?"
I'm surprised when she doesn't recoil or even look away. "Shit, no wonder you keep getting bounced from placements. Listen. Sister City may not be as gay-friendly as Asheville, but it's big enough to have pockets. You'll see."
I do my skeptical face.
"Was there someone special? Someone you were running to?"
I shrug. I'm embarrassed to have run away to an idea.
My aunt looks around. "This place is grim. Let's beat feet, what do you say?"
She's trying to sound hip. Failing. I give her a good look. Thirty-ish, round in a not-fat kind of way. Hair in a tight bun, painfully careful makeup. Caramel skin like I wish I had. I have freckles.
"I don't have a coat." I put a note of challenge into my voice. No way am I going to be all pitiful, but no way am I going out in this cold without a coat, either.
"Wear mine." She shrugs out of her black pea coat and passes it over. It's warm from her body and smells hippy-ish, like flowers and smoke.
One more test. "You got any eyeliner?"
"I didn't wear any. I was afraid I might cry when I saw you, like some stereotypical maiden auntie."
I don't say anything, just blink at her. Most grown-ups don't use words longer than two syllables with me. She shrugs.
"We can stop for some on the way."
I give her my second-best smile. "So let's beat feet."
I ignore her outstretched hand and follow her to the social worker's office, where we get shitloads of paperwork, and out to the worst beater of a truck I've seen since coming north.
"That would fit right in back home," I say. It surprises a laugh out of my aunt.
"This is Papi's truck – he almost never drives it. My girlfriend has my ride today, and a scooter didn't make quite the right impression, you know."
"And this truck does," I snark automatically to give myself a split second to decide what to comment on. Wheels trump girlfriend.
"You have a scooter?" I ask.
© Lee Benoit