‘Route 66 by Nat King Cole’
Harrison Solomon Brieman wished he had not taken that
last step when he heard the click of the land-mine
under his foot. Before he could think of what to do
next, a bullet struck him in the back. The M-1 Carbine
fell from his hands to French soil.
wife, Bernadine’s words echoed in his ears,
“Why can’t you stay home and work? I miss
you when you are over there fighting the Germans!”
now he wondered why he had not listened to her. She
must have known something when she woke him in the
middle of the night, two days before he returned to
duty. She begged him to stay home with her, “It’s
too dangerous. I’m scared you won’t come
had been right, now I will never make it home. His
children’s faces flashed before his eyes, Harrison
Jr. - 14, Harriet - 12 and Gloria - 3.
spirit rushed from his body with his last breath.
Instead of his orb descending to heaven, it floated
across the ocean toward Compton, California. He had
to get to his family.
across the Atlantic his parents and several loved
ones who had passed on joined him, “Hello Harrison,
we are your welcome committee.”
is that you?”
son, it’s me. Your mom is here too.”
thought about you a lot.”
know, we were with you every time you did.”
wish I didn’t have to be dead to see you.”
God has a plan for all of us.”
didn’t you warn me before I got killed?”
don’t have any control over that son. Only God
knows the time and the place when one of his children
is called home.”
is my family going to make it without me?”
worry, it will take some time, but they will be fine.”
1942 ‘Bernadine by Pat Boone
cab pulled to a stop in front of the house. Gloria
watched as a man with shiny buttons and medals on
his jacket got out. Bernadine observed him too. She
stood up from the sewing table where she had been
working on a poodle skirt for Harriet.
nights ago she had dreamt of Harrison sitting on the
edge of the bed. She felt him shaking her and smelled
his essence, “Bernadine I came to say goodbye,
honey wake up.”
next morning fully awake she convinced herself that
it was a dream. During breakfast Harriet asked, “Mom,
how long is daddy staying home this time?”
are you talking about girl? Your daddy’s not
I talked to him for a long time last night, he sat
at the foot of my bed.”
Jr. did not say a word, lest they would know he was
crazy too. He played chess with his dad last night.
mention of her father Glory shouted from her high
chair, “Daddy! Want Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”
knock came at the door. Bernadine put her hand over
her heart as if it hurt. “Harriet I want you
to take Glory and wait in the kitchen until I call
Jr. came running home from the park. He knew what
was happening before the officer spoke a word, “The
Secretary of State request that I inform you that
your husband, Sergeant Harrison Solomon Brieman was
killed in battle while defending his country.”
the officer left Harrison Jr. walked into the kitchen.
Glory looked up from the floor where she sat confused,
caressing Harriet’s head, “What’s
the matter Harry? Why you cwying?”
lifted Glory onto his hip and took Harriet’s
hand. They joined their mother on the couch where
she sat looking at nothing, not saying a word. The
silence seemed to last an eternity. When Bernadine
finally stood up she let out a wail the likes of which
they had never heard before.
neighbors, wh o had been standing outside, came rushing
into the house. Everyone knew what the officer’s
visit meant. There had been so many of these visits
that when a cab was engaged by an officer carrying
a briefcase at the airport, bus or train station,
the driver would ask, “You bringing bad news?”
The driver called in a code along with the address
to the dispatcher who notified drivers in the area.
They knocked on doors letting the neighbors know to
get ready. The war had claimed so many sons and husbands
that it was almost a weekly occurrence. The neighbors
banded together to offer their assistance and sympathetic
what seemed like a long time of watching people’s
mouths move and not comprehending anything, Bernadine
told the neighbors, “I would like to lie down
now.” She slowly turned and walked up the stairs
to her bedroom with her best friend, Theresa’s
neighbors took shifts coming by to check on Bernadine
and bring food and drink. The children sat in the
living room looking lost. Glory was too young to understand
what was going on, but she knew it had to be something
bad, she had never seen her family so unhappy.
stayed in her room sleeping for days. When she was
not asleep she stared out the big bay window at the
California palm trees that lined the streets. Why
was the sky so blue? She clenched Harrison’s
dog tags in her hand. Why were those blue jays and
red robins flitting around like everything was all
right? Why wasn’t it raining to let everyone
know that the world was about to come to a hideous
end. Life could not go on without her Harrison. Didn’t
they know that? For a wonderful man like Harrison
to die the way he did, there had to be something terrible
on the horizon. God would not let the world stand
this way, he just couldn’t let the world continue
to exist without him.
lieutenant told her there was not enough of Harrison
left to send home to bury. The day before the wake,
which the neighbors organized, she got out of bed
to ready the house.
sat around talking about what a great guy Harrison
was. Harrison’s brother arrived from North Carolina.
Some of his military buddies came. Several were missing
limbs, or nursing wounds, that enabled them to receive
honorable medical discharge from the army. They were
no longer able to fight and did not know what they
would do with themselves, other than go in and out
of the Veterans hospital. They all looked like their
spirits had been broken in two.
looked at the ten thousand dollar check the government
had given her in exchange for her husband and father
of her children. She knew it would not be enough to
take care of her and her children for long.
would have to find work, but what was she qualified
for? She had married right after graduating high school
and had no training. She would have to find work as
a maid or nanny.
was bitter, she was angry, this was not how her life
was supposed to go. Her one and only love had died,
leaving her with three children to bring up on a meager
maid’s salary which was now usually a dollar
had always said, “No wife of mine is going to
work. I bring home the bacon, your job is to stay
in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant,” She
missed the jokes they shared.
had taken a three month leave to spend time with his
family before going back to start a third, and career
tour in the war. He told the family of his decision
to become a career soldier one morning over breakfast.
Bernadine had been more than a little salty that day
and did not have much to say.
over lunch, he asked, “Something wrong honey?”
threw down the Dutch cleanser she was using to clean
the porcelain sink and let him have it with both barrels,
“When I married you I didn’t sign up to
have a husband that I only see once in a blue moon.
I want a man that I can cuddle up with every night.”
lump, someone has to protect our country or we could
end up back in slavery, or with some Nazi exterminating
every person because their eye’s are not blue
or their hair is not blonde. What if every man decided
to stay home? Bernie, I am protecting my family and
my country because that is what a man does. Please
understand, I would feel less than a husband and father
if I stayed here and did nothing knowing that the
place we call home is in danger.”
took his wife in his arms in an attempt to comfort
her. She sighed in resignation. Bernadine knew what
was happening with the war, she read the papers and
listened to the news. She was proud of her brave husband,
but he had done his duty for the country. Soldiers
were obligated during war time to stay in for the
duration of the war plus six months. Now he wanted
to sign up for the next twenty or thirty years?
I miss you so much when you are away. Don’t
you think you are pushing it a bit? People are dying
over there in France. Can’t you stay home and
get a job?”
supposed to miss me, but you know what?” He
playfully wrapped his arms around her and started
tickling her, something he always did to coax her
out of a dark mood.
a few more years I’ll be retired and we can
sit on the front porch in our rocking chairs everyday.
Then you’ll be wishing I had somewhere else
to be and you know what else?”
on now!” She said blushing as he took her hand
and led her to the bedroom.
left, left, right, left, shake that butt from left
to right, you bout to have a soldier in yo’
bed tonight.” They both laughed, he was always
making up little cadence songs.
the bedroom Harrison slowly peeled her dress off while
taking in every inch of her beautiful ebony skin.
He studied the inviting way her cleavage looked in
her bra. He replaced his tongue at the spot where
his eyes rested deep in her valley.
moaned with the electricity of his touch. She sensed
rather than felt her apron and dress fall to the floor.
He ran his hands between her skin and garter belt
and before she knew it her stockings were pooled around
her ankles. “You smell so good to me. Two days
before I leave I am going to make love to you every
two hours. I don’t want you to wash or bathe
afterwards. I want you to wear the same pair of underwear
until I leave.”
she laughed, “Can I ask why you want me to do
going to take your panties with me, keep ‘em
tucked in my helmet so at night when I go to sleep
I can put my helmet over my face and smell you and
think about these times. It’s a way for me to
be with you even though we are far apart.”
Uhm, Mr. Brieman, you are so nasty. That sounds so
kinky to me, but what you want you know you can get.”
She unbuttoned his shirt and he lay back on the bed
so that she could pull on the legs of his pants revealing
his muscled thighs and calves. She threw the pants
to the other side of the room and yanked his underwear
down. She loved looking at his bronze body, the way
his legs, arms and chest rippled when he moved aroused
are you staring at Mrs. Brieman?”
beautiful husband,” She lay down on him and
teased the hair on his chest with her teeth, biting
just enough to pull the curled hairs straight, before
traveling to his nipple which grew taut and firm under
don’t tease me too much,” he loved the
fact that he was the first and only man she had ever
been with. He felt like royalty ruling over his kingdom,
her body. He had taken his time fine-tuning her like
a car engine. They had explored every inch of one
She had definitely taken instruction well, she knew
how to pull everything out of him. Bernadine ignored
his plea to slow down. He finished and still she did
not stop. This was something new. He wanted to ask
where she had learned this new technique, but could
not speak. He was so sensitive that he wanted to scream
like a woman, to his amazement he found himself stiffening
you like that?” she asked as she let him go,
flipped him onto his back and climbed on top of his
tell me you like it. What’s the matter? The
bwig stwong soldier can’t tawk? Cat got your
tongue?” She laughed as she rode him hard.
was laughing, but the truth was he couldn’t
talk. He felt like the back of his head was going
to come off. He had always waited in between at least
fifteen minutes before he could go again, but he was
feeling sensations he did not know he was capable
of as she rode him as if he was a stallion. “Well,
giddy yup then.”
had definitely flipped the script on Harrison. Theresa,
who lived two doors down had given her some pointers.
Theresa had one of those hot-blooded Hispanic men,
and shared things with her that she had never dreamed
had always been the teacher, but he discovered that
he liked Bernadine taking the lead. When he looked
in her face there was defiance there. He had to admit
she had his motor running, and he was about to reach
his destination again.
lay there triumphant, her toes curling and uncurling.
She could still hear the roar from his last orgasm.
She felt powerful. She was the boss. Yeah that’s
it, he was always the boss, not that she was complaining
because he always satisfied her, but today they had
reached a new plateau.
soon as I catch my breath and get me some water,”
he was trying to speak and catch his breath at the
same time, his chest heaving, “You are going
to tell me where you learned all this new stuff,”
he said pointing a finger at her.
giggled and rose to get a warm wash cloth and a glass
of cool water. By the time she returned Harrison was
fast asleep. She lay down and he snuggled up to her.
she fell into a deep sleep she felt a familiar fluttering
in her abdomen. A smile turned up the corners of her
mouth. A silvery light sprinkled inside of her like
glitter leaving a tiny miraculous gift in her womb.
woke to the sound of the kids coming in from school.
As usual they made enough noise to wake Glory from
put a smock on and went to see about their snack and
getting dinner started.