Put a Tiger in Your Tank
2005 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Colonel Robert Hogan
2005 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Tiger
2005 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Overall Story
There was no time, no place. No identity. Not even an awareness of gender, or body. Just a wild, crushing pain, unyielding and all-encompassing. As he was moved, a moan came from somewhere within the nearly electrified mass of anguish that held his mind and body prisoner, and a voice he could not identify as male or female responded in what was intended to be a soothing gesture, to rest, to quieten down, as the ordeal was nearly finished. But he could not obey, lost in agony and able to follow only the commands of the all-embracing torture that was his reality, pulling away, and begging for release.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
As he became more alert to his surroundings, United States Army Air Corps Colonel Robert Hogan’s mind tried to focus on what had brought him to this point. His mind flashed scenes before him like a projector with a blinking light. A lightning flash. A fall. A searing impact just below his left collarbone that sent him flying. A scream. None of it made sense. And yet he somehow knew that he could not rest easy unless he knew he was safe. Safe with—whom? He struggled to remember. And where?
He gasped as his return to consciousness signaled a violent knife of pain to stab his upper chest. Gritting his teeth, he tried hard not to cry out and instead attempted to form a word: “Where--?”
“There, there, Colonel, do not try to move too quickly,” said a voice from somewhere nearby. That same voice he remembered soothing him however long ago, trying to calm him. Easily restraining him as he tried to rise, Hogan saw long delicate fingers as they came up to wipe his sweat-matted dark hair from his brow and realized his caregiver was a woman. A woman? So this was hardly Stalag Luft 13, where he headed a sabotage and intelligence operation under the guise of being a Prisoner of War under the German Luftwaffe.
“Where am I?” he asked through clenched teeth, squeezing his eyes shut to force out the pain.
“You are safe, Colonel Hogan; you are safe here with us.”
Hogan opened his eyes and through hazy vision made out the outline of a slight form with soft, flowing hair. Still unable to focus properly, and still overwhelmed by the fire racing through his body, he panted, “Where’s ‘here’? Who are you?”
“Oh, my poor Colonel,” cooed the kind voice. The smooth, cool fingers caressed his sore cheek with great tenderness. “Can you not remember how we found you?”
Hogan fought against the assault on his senses and tried again to see his comforter. “Tiger?” he guessed incredulously, hardly daring to believe he could be in the company of allies. He struggled to sit up again but found his body would not obey him, and bit his lip hard to stifle a moan.
“Sshh… Oui, Colonel Hogan. C’est moi, Marie.” Hogan nearly fainted in relief. Out on an intelligence mission for the Allies deep in Nazi Germany, he had somehow ended up with the determined and beautiful French Resistance leader by his bedside instead of the Gestapo. He allowed himself the luxury of letting down his guard, and Tiger oh so gently ran her hand up his arm and face as he started to lose himself in the warm blankets. “You have been wounded; you must rest.”
“Where--?” he asked again faintly, swallowing painfully, barely able to comprehend her response.
“We are in a safe house, a farmhouse a few miles from Stalag 13. Do you remember what happened?”
Hogan mumbled incoherently, his eyes fluttering shut; Tiger took that to mean he did not. She ran a cool damp cloth across his forehead as he faded into the consolation of nothingness, and knew that he would demand answers when he was stronger.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“So I blew it,” Hogan said bitterly when Tiger explained what she knew to him.
“No, that is not so,” she disagreed.
“Of course it’s so,” Hogan insisted. “How do you think I got shot?” Hogan’s memory was clear enough to show him some picture of the last few hours. He had been due to meet an Underground agent deep in the woods. Violent rain storms had slowed his progress, making him late to the rendezvous point, and a German patrol had appeared in place of his contact. Hogan had run for it and tripped in the tangled undergrowth, only to have a bullet smash into his chest just below his shoulder when he spun around to regain his balance. Though the pain was unfathomable, he had kept running, shaking uncontrollably in the wetness, falling hard on the slippery ground and tumbling down a rocky embankment, somehow stumbling across a hiding place he had heard of but had never had time to investigate. And it was there that he had collapsed, clutching the precious information, bleeding heavily, praying as his body throbbed from the invasion of the bullet and the deep cuts and bruises that he had acquired on the chase, praying harder when he started to feel nothing at all. He remembered thinking through chattering teeth that it was odd his life had not flashed before his eyes, as he had thought it would; instead he thought of those he was leaving behind, and those who had not been at the rendezvous. And he was thinking that this was a hell of a way to die, alone and hunted by the enemy.
Vaguely he remembered voices. “My God, get him out, get him out now!”… “Hold still, Colonel, we must get this bullet out.”... “Sshh, now, it is nearly done. You are safe, Colonel.”… And he remembered hands, trying to be gentle but inflicting only torture as they moved him. Holding him down as he screamed in agony, when without anesthetic someone dug into his body to remove the lead that threatened infection. Soothing him as he drifted in and out of fevered awareness. But a full picture eluded him, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to fill in the blanks.
“You kept the information safe, Colonel Hogan. We have passed it on as you were intending to do.”
“Great,” Hogan hissed, concentrating only on the excruciating pulsing in his chest that threatened to engulf him. His head pounded mercilessly, threatening to split open, and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead. Hogan shivered.
“Here, have some of this.” Tiger brought a flask to Hogan’s quivering lips. He felt a burning sensation as the liquid raced down his throat. He moaned involuntarily, praying for respite. “I am sorry, Colonel; we have no morphine.”
“I have to get back to camp. It must be nearly time for roll call,” he said, trying to think clearly. The success of Hogan’s operation hinged on the German officers in charge of Stalag 13 not being suspicious—and on the camp maintaining its “no successful escapes” record. If he wasn’t there when it was time for the head count, that would all be put at risk.
“You cannot be moved now, Colonel Hogan. It is not safe for you—”
“And it won’t be safe for my men if I don’t get back there in time,” Hogan interrupted adamantly. “What time is it?”
“About in the morning.”
“Look,” Hogan said, forcing himself up with difficulty, “I appreciate the nursing but I’ve gotta go.” Damn. His left side throbbed with even the slightest movement; he must have cracked some ribs in his fall. He swung his feet over the bed and immediately swayed drunkenly, dizzy and nauseous. Tiger’s hands were there at once to stop him from falling, helping him to maintain his dignity. “Thanks. But really, I’ve got to get back.”
Knowing she would not be able to convince him otherwise, Tiger agreed. “Very well,” she said. “But it will take a few minutes to organize. You will lay back and rest until it is time,” she ordered. Hogan’s eyes were not alert and he let her lay him back on the pillow without resistance. His eyes closed instantly. Tiger studied his scratched and battered face for a moment before covering him with a blanket, then moved quietly to the next room to arrange for his return to Stalag 13. It was against her wishes, but she resigned herself to the fact that Hogan would not accept any other alternative. At least his loyal men would look after him.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Hogan’s chalky face and unsteady gait alarmed Andrew Carter as he stumbled towards the young American Sergeant in the tunnel under Barracks Two. The man Hogan considered the innocent in his operation came running to his commanding officer’s side. “Colonel Hogan! Boy, were we worried about you!” he cried, nearly bowling Hogan over. Carter broke off as he realized Hogan had winced at his touch and was barely standing on his own. Suddenly his eyes spied the bruises and cuts on Hogan’s face, and he gasped. “Sit down—sit down here, sir,” he said, suddenly all gentleness, helping lower Hogan to the floor and leaning him against the tunnel wall. “I’ll get help.”
Just a minute later Carter returned with three others in tow: Corporal Louis Le Beau, Sergeant James Kinchloe, and RAF Corporal Peter Newkirk. The quartet that were Hogan’s closest operatives surrounded their commanding officer and all seemed to try to talk at once. “Colonel, what happened to you?” asked Le Beau, finally switching from his native French to English.
Hogan labored to respond as his right-hand man Kinchloe started pulling gently at Hogan’s clothes so he could examine his superior officer. “Bit of a run-in…with the Krauts,” he grimaced, as Kinch found the hole in the front of Hogan’s shirt where the bullet had plowed through to his chest. Kinch glanced at the others as he inspected the hole and the white bandaging beneath it.
“Who patched you up, Colonel?” asked Kinch, as Hogan shied away from his hand.
“Some sadist,” Hogan joked weakly. Then, feeling the last of his strength leaving him, he gasped, “Tiger. Tiger was there.” Hogan closed his eyes, and his body suddenly sagged against Newkirk, who was on his other side.
“He’s out,” Newkirk said, looking at the others. “What happened out there? Why didn’t Tiger come with ’im?”
“It doesn’t look like we’ll get the answer to that any time soon,” Kinch said. “Come on. Let’s get the Colonel upstairs. We need to get him warm. And dry.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Hogan’s throat was too dry to release the painful moan that was hanging in it. He ineffectually tried to ask for water, but found it was at his lips anyway, as Le Beau had been holding a vigil by his bedside, just waiting for Hogan’s eyelids to flicker open.
“Drink, Colonel,” Le Beau said softly, supporting Hogan’s head as it came up to meet the glass.
Hogan took one or two swallows then lay back weakly. “What time is it?” he asked. His head and his chest were throbbing in time. “How long have I been here?”
“Not long, Colonel. You came in through the tunnel and we brought you up here. Do you remember?”
Why did everyone keep asking him that? And why was the answer always No? “Had a lot on my mind lately,” he wanted to retort. But he could only manage a feeble shake of his head, which he instantly regretted. He winced.
The door to his room opened, and Kinch walked in, followed by Carter and Newkirk. “Thought we heard talking in here,” Kinch said, coming to Hogan’s side. “How are you feeling, Colonel?”
“Been better,” Hogan admitted faintly.
“We wanted to get
Hogan whispered, “Anyone hurt?”
“No; no one but you,” Kinch answered.
“You were pretty banged up, gov’nor,” Newkirk said. “There’s gotta be quite a story to go with it.”
“Yeah; I wanna hear about how Tiger got involved in this,” Carter said.
“Tiger?” Hogan repeated.
“Yes, sir,” Kinch said. “When you were still in the tunnel you said Tiger looked after you. We didn’t realize she was going to be part of this mission; how did you get together with her?”
Hogan tried to put all the flashes going through his brain in order. But he failed, and he found himself becoming keenly aware of his battered body. He unsuccessfully stifled a groan as he jockeyed for a position that would relieve the soreness he felt all over.
“The answer’ll have to wait,” Kinch said to the others. “I think it’s just too much right now.”
The men respectfully let Hogan wave them away with his protests of mere tiredness, then gathered in the common room as he drifted back to sleep or unconsciousness. “We are going to have to contact the Underground to find out what happened,” Le Beau declared.
“Let’s give Colonel Hogan a chance to tell us himself,” Kinch put in. “He’ll tell us as soon he’s able.”
“Sure he will, Kinch, but when might that be? He didn’t even seem to remember telling us about Tiger. Right now we don’t know if there’s any danger to the operation. Why did the Colonel come back here alone? Where does Tiger fit in? Had the Colonel finished what he went out to do when he took a bullet or not? Who’s got the information he took with him?” Newkirk listed his unanswered questions.
“Colonel Hogan wouldn’t have come back here if it meant any danger to us. Even if he was hurt,” Carter defended.
“I know that, Carter,” Newkirk retorted.
Kinch could see an argument starting, and that was the last thing they need right now. “Then we wait,” he said sternly. Newkirk looked offended. Kinch added more gently, “You have a point, Peter, but we can afford to wait till after roll call.”
“I was only suggesting it to protect the gov’nor,” Newkirk muttered.
“I know,” replied Kinch. “And we may have to do it. But let’s give the Colonel a chance; you know how upset he’ll be if he thinks we’ve jumped the gun.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” admitted Newkirk, relaxing. “Let’s just hope he makes it to roll call.”
As it turned out they would have had a hard time stopping him. A little while later, with his men in and out of his room like it had a revolving door, Hogan regained his senses and emerged. Pale and unsteady but dressed in his bomber jacket and crush cap, he came to the table. “Let’s go,” he said.
“Colonel, you don’t have to go to roll call,” said Kinch hesitantly. “We can always tell Klink you’re sick.”
“No sense in lying to the man, Kinch,” said Hogan, determined not to get annoyed by the coddling. He knew his men were trying to look after him, but for some reason he could never accept being cared for. Except when Tiger had been there... “We have a lot to do today.”
“We do?” asked Carter, surprised, and a little disappointed.
“What do we have to do, Colonel?” asked Le Beau, wary of Hogan’s surface energy.
“First of all, we have to contact
“Sit, Colonel,” said Le Beau, moving aside hastily as Carter and Kinch tried to guide Hogan down.
“I’ll be fine,” Hogan said, cursing the lack of painkillers in the camp but sitting nonetheless. After a moment to collect himself, he resumed as though nothing had happened. “And we have to see what Klink’s got up his sleeve. He’s been strutting around here the last couple of days like the Kraut that ate the canary. We owe it to ourselves to be let in on the secret. It could mean an unexpected guest, and we don’t like to be unprepared.”
“There’s been no word on the coffeepot, Colonel,” reported Newkirk, referring to the bug they had planted in Kommandant Wilhelm Klink’s office, which they monitored via an innocent-looking coffeepot back in the barracks.
“Then that settles it; we’ll have to investigate more closely,” Hogan said.
A loud voice bellowed for the men to file outside to be counted. Hogan stood up stiffly and headed for the door. As he passed Kinch, the radioman said confidentially, “We’ve requested a morphine drop, Colonel. Carter and Le Beau are picking it up tonight.”
Hogan let his eyes convey his honest gratitude, and walked out without speaking. Let’s hope time flies.
Award and Advance
Hogan stood before Klink’s desk after roll call, his right arm embracing his left side in a futile gesture to soothe his aching ribs. Tonight wouldn’t come soon enough. “Colonel Hogan, you are quieter than usual today,” observed Klink lightly, in high spirits that grated on Hogan’s raw nerves. In a rare show of generosity, Klink opened the humidor perched on his desk, took a cigar, and motioned to Hogan. “Care for a cigar, Colonel?” he asked.
Curious but suspicious, Hogan painfully extended his left arm and nodded as he accepted the offer. “Thanks.”
“I want you to know, Hogan, that I appreciate your cooperation in keeping your prisoners in line, and in the camp,” Klink said, lighting Hogan’s outstretched cigar with a flourish. Hogan inhaled deeply, then dizzily regretted the action. His sore flank slammed against his hand, pounding ruthlessly in time with his chest. The muscles below his collarbone were beginning to contract painfully. Klink noticed the change in Hogan’s bearing. “Are you ill, Hogan?”
“I’m fine, sir,” Hogan said, thinking that this may be the one time even Klink would be able to see through his lies. He was seeing Klink through a crazy aura that wouldn’t leave his vision, and found it hard to focus his attention on the Kommandant.
“Your face is scratched, Colonel Hogan.” Klink suddenly came back around the desk, his eyes alight. “What is going on?” he asked, adjusting his monocle to look more closely at the senior POW’s contusions. He waved his hand near Hogan’s face, his index finger and thumb pressed tightly together. “Have you been fighting, Colonel? You know that is against camp regulations!”
Hogan was grateful for Klink’s idea, as he had none of his own at present. “No, I haven’t been fighting, Colonel. I just got caught in the middle of someone else’s argument. I’ve disciplined the men involved, and it’s all under control now.”
They must have packed quite a punch, Klink thought, looking at Hogan’s pallid, bruised face. Normally Klink would have had a ready reprimand for the American, but something about Hogan’s appearance today arrested that. The POW officer was not himself: none of the usual complaints, no improbable requests for his men, no mischievous grin with a matching light in his eyes. He was different today. And while Klink was more than happy to put Hogan in his place, he had also come to find a strange comfort in the Allied officer’s presence, and it bothered him when the personality he counted on for buoyancy was uncharacteristically dulled.
Still, nothing was going to spoil this week for him. And so Klink resumed his confident attitude, saying, “That is very good, Colonel, because it is even more important now than ever that this camp run like a well oiled machine.” Hogan nearly mouthed Klink’s next statement with the Kommandant; he had become quite good at imitating the singsong voice with which the balding man always crowed, “There has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13.”
Hogan merely stared at Klink. At the moment he was incapable of being witty enough to prompt Klink into spilling the secret he was so obviously relishing. But he was counting on the Kommandant’s puppy-like enthusiasm to loosen his tongue.
He wasn’t disappointed. “It may interest you to know, Colonel Hogan, that this camp is finally being recognized for the fine military establishment that it is.”
Even in his weakened condition, Hogan could still think wryly, So, Allied Headquarters is going to give my fellas some acknowledgment at last. He allowed himself the briefest smile at his private joke.
“Given this camp’s perfect record
since my arrival, and
Hogan was trying to absorb what he was being told, so he could consider the ramifications of the information, and possibly work it to the Allies’ advantage. But he had obviously already done too much today: he was being distracted by an ever-growing stinging sensation high in his upper left chest. Was that blood he could feel rushing out of the wound? Why wouldn’t his vision clear? Why was Klink’s voice starting to echo in his aching head? “I’m sure it’ll be a day to remember,” was all he could manage to say. He had to get out before he gave himself away. How would he be able to explain his condition? You don’t get shot stopping a fistfight.
Thankfully Klink was too involved in discussing his plans for the presentation to notice Hogan’s inattentiveness. And when Hogan handed back the used cigar and casually saluted, backing his way out of the office with an “I’ll go tell the men, sir. I’m sure they’ll be as proud as I am,” Klink barely paused for breath. “Fraulein Helga!” the Kommandant sang out as the American left, eager to continue his organizing.
Hogan practically staggered back across the compound towards Barracks Two. He couldn’t remember ever hurting this badly. It was still twelve hours before the morphine drop, and he needed to concentrate on other things before then. But no matter how much he tried to focus his thoughts elsewhere, he couldn’t help but be dragged back to what was quickly becoming unbearable pain.
Finding himself alone when he got into the barracks, Hogan felt his muscles spasming. Not capable of holding himself up, he grabbed the nearest bunk and dropped to his knees as a strangled gasp escaped his lips. Breathing hard, with feverish tears stinging his eyes, he pressed his head to the pillow as he struggled not to be consumed by the fire devouring his whole left side. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hide this from his captors for long now, let alone his own men, before whom he always desperately tried to maintain a strong façade for the sake of the operation.
He heard the door to the barracks
open and felt himself being surrounded. Unable to stop himself, he cried out as
the pain in his chest exploded and his side burst with devastating thrusts of
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Hogan’s mind crept slowly toward full awareness. His body was a mass of hurt, but his brain was determined not to fall back into darkness. He could feel hands on him, fuelling the fire in his body with every touch. But it had been worse before, and now he could at least try to concentrate on what was happening around him. His groan of protest at a tight feeling around his torso was greeted with soothing sounds that did nothing to comfort him. Hogan opened his eyes a slit but could make out only indistinct forms. “Leave… off,” he tried to command, quickly wincing at another stab of pain in his side. “I said, leave…” Hands continued to probe his side, “off!” Hogan didn’t know how forceful he sounded, but he had a feeling it wasn’t a very strong voice that was objecting to those around him.
“’E’s back, all right,” came Newkirk’s voice. Hogan tried clearing his vision by squeezing his eyes shut tight and then opening them again. It only made the aura around his vision brighter. He opened his eyes a bit wider.
“Colonel, can you hear me? Can you see me?”
Hogan tried hard to focus. “
“That’s right, Colonel. You’re in your quarters. I’m binding your ribs; you’ve broken a couple. It will make it a bit easier for you to breathe. You’re pretty badly bruised inside, too.”
“Get your hands…off.” Hogan tried to sound authoritative.
“Soon, I promise, sir,”
Hogan didn’t have the strength to
force the man away. He tried to make out who was around him while
“I had to redress your chest
“I gotcha,” Hogan murmured.
“I’ve administered a light
sedative. I’m afraid that’s the best I can offer until the morphine arrives,”
“Why don’t you take it, Colonel?” Le Beau ventured, moving in to where Hogan could see him. “We can handle things today.”
“Thanks anyway,” Hogan said. “But I need to be aware of what’s going on at the moment. I’ll let you know if I want to take you up on your offer later on.”
“You need to rest, Colonel,” Le Beau admonished, coming to Hogan’s side. “No one expects you to cope with this with no painkillers.”
“Le Beau and I’ll go out tonight for you, sir,” piped up Carter, who stopped dancing in nervousness and came forward as well. Though he hated seeing Hogan in pain, he was strangely grateful that the Colonel had refused to be totally sedated. It frightened him more to think of Hogan flat on his back and passive than to have him growling at his men while he tried to fight his pain. Hogan’s presence was too strong in their midst to be silenced, even for awhile, without impacting the spirits of those around him. “We’ll be back faster than you can say ‘Jack Rabbit’.”
“We’ll mind the store today, gov’nor,” said Newkirk. “You take it easy; just tell us what to do.” To him there was to be no argument. The others were too soft; if the man is ill, someone else does the job. If he’s stubborn about it, you leave him no choice.
Hogan listened through a
drug-induced haze. “Gotta call…
Making a foolish attempt to rise, Hogan found that the sedative didn’t dull his senses nearly as much as he suddenly hoped it would. Three men came flying at him to lay his pounding head back on the pillow. “Kinch is down there now, sir,” Carter said. “They radioed through while you were…”
“Being looked after,” Le Beau finished hastily, with a scolding glance in Carter’s direction.
“I’d better get down there,” Hogan said. But while in his mind he was up and heading down the ladder, his body was not obeying, and Hogan succumbed to the drug and his own tiredness, and unwillingly fell asleep.
“Blimey, ’e’s gonna be ’ard to hold down,” Newkirk remarked.
“I wonder what happened in the Kommandant’s office,” Carter said.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Newkirk replied. He watched as Le Beau placed a blanket over Hogan’s still form. “The gov’s left a lot of questions unanswered today.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Kinch closed the door to Hogan’s
room and came back to the others waiting at the table. “He’s still sleeping,”
he said. “I guess
“It’s just as well,” Le Beau remarked. “The Colonel has had not given himself time to begin to heal. He needs to be still for awhile.”
“Still, I’d ’ate to be
“It doesn’t matter,” Kinch said. “Our first priority is to get that morphine drop. As soon as we hit lights out, you fellas are out of here,” he said, nodding at Le Beau and Carter.
“You betcha, boy—Kinch,” Carter agreed.
“Okay, Kinch, we’ve given ’im long enough. What did you find out on the radio?” asked Newkirk.
Kinch hesitated. He had honestly
wanted to give Colonel Hogan a chance to tell them the details of the mission
himself. But there was more to be done, and Hogan was in no fit shape to give
the orders at the moment. With a rueful glance back towards Hogan’s door, Kinch
sighed and began. “The information the Colonel was carrying last night detailed
future German tank movements in the area. They’ll pass by here on Thursday.”
The others didn’t speak, looking at Kinch expectantly. The radioman paused,
choosing his words carefully as he looked at Le Beau. “Apparently the Nazis are
planning to have another tank division go through
The French Connection
Le Beau’s facial muscles
tightened, and his eyes started darting around the room as though looking for
something to land on but finding nothing. He wanted to let loose a diatribe
against the German forces, but somehow the day had already become overwhelming
and he could only feel heavy inside. The Colonel would know what to do.
Impossible as it seemed, he believed that Hogan would know, somehow, how to
stop this from happening. But Hogan was in no condition to stop a single German
soldier, much less a German division, from rolling boastfully through the
little Frenchman’s beloved
“They will not do it,” he said, struggling to remain composed. He stood up, and declared, “Colonel Hogan will find a way to stop them. They will not do it.” And he left his friends, and went inside Hogan’s room.
The others remained silent in
their own thoughts. No one had missed the tears in the man’s eyes. Newkirk’s
mind drifted to his own homeland, which had been heavily bombed by the Germans
with devastating results. Quietly, he said, “What does
“They know he had trouble but not
what type,” he replied. “I didn’t enlighten them much further. When they asked
for the Colonel I told them he was with Klink. The tanks heading to
“And I suppose they think the Nazis would like to give us a guided tour, do they?” Newkirk said indignantly. His humor had left him when he’d discovered Colonel Hogan writhing in agony on the bunk earlier in the day. His slim hold on optimism had followed when he saw Le Beau’s spirits crumble. All he had left was sarcasm, anger.
Carter spoke up, unwilling before now to speak in the middle of the raw emotion that had been filling the room. “How do we do that, Kinch?” he asked simply.
“The information the Colonel had was pretty complete,” Kinch said, his eyes drifting toward the closed door. “The tanks are traveling near Stalag 13 in three days.” He sighed. Being in charge of this was not his wish, and it added to his long list of reasons why he desperately wanted Hogan to recover soon. “Maybe if we can detain them, we could get a chance to find out what makes them so special.”
“How do we detain them—hold a cocktail party?” asked Newkirk.
“The Colonel will think of something,” Kinch said wistfully, hoping he didn’t sound as disheartened as he was. “He always does.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Vous penserez à quelque chose, Colonel. Vous devez penser à quelque chose. Vous toujours.”
Hogan was considering lifting his heavy eyelids when he heard the muttering beside him. Still muddled by the sedative, he was unable to distinguish the voice or the language, and so contented himself to remain unmoving. Slowly, as his mind cleared, the speaker’s identity became known. It was Le Beau, holding some sort of vigil, thought Hogan kindly, or making some sort of petition. His already tenuous grasp on French was lost under a blanket of dull pain right now, and he could not understand what the man was saying. “Ils ne doivent pas défiler mon patrie aimée plus loin. Vous devez trouver une manière de les arrêter.”
“Find a way to stop…what?” Hogan asked softly, opening his eyes against his wishes.
“Colonel,” Le Beau jumped, startled. “I am sorry, Colonel. I did not intend to wake you.” Le Beau stood up from the chair he had claimed beside Hogan’s bedside.
“You didn’t,” Hogan said. His mind was racing up and down his body, taking stock of his condition. Still very tender and immeasurably sore, Hogan was nonetheless relieved to find that he was not feeling as much discomfort as he had earlier. He was, however, alert enough to realize that it was the sedative that was responsible for blocking the pain from his mind, and that it would soon wear off now that he was awake. So he wanted to take the opportunity he had now to get appraised of the situation. “What’s going on, Louis?”
Le Beau turned away, as though to hide embarrassment at being caught out. How could he bring this to the Colonel now, when he was so helpless himself? “It is nothing, Colonel,” he said, heading toward the door. “I was just worried about you.”
Easy though it would have been easier to accept the answer and drift back to sleep, Hogan knew Le Beau was lying. And a distressed Le Beau was something Hogan always despaired at seeing. “Le Beau—” The Frenchman stopped mid-step on his way out of the room. “What’s happening? Is everyone all right? Is someone hurt?”
Le Beau turned back to Hogan, eyes fixed on the floor. “No one is hurt, Colonel.”
“So what are you worrying about?”
Germans…” he started reluctantly. “They are planning to go back through
Hogan looked at Le Beau carefully. This little man was amongst the proudest he had ever known. A man who loved his country more than he loved a good and loyal woman. A man who had nearly abandoned Hogan’s whole operation when De Gaulle had called his countrymen home, when he could make so much more of a concrete difference to the war effort right here at Stalag 13. This kind of news would be devastating to the Corporal, Hogan knew. He struggled to a sitting position over Le Beau’s sudden protests, and, trying to clear the fog from his mind, attempted to draw him out.
Kinch get this from
“Yes. It was in the coded information that you handed over.”
Hogan stopped, feeling shame wash over him again. That Tiger handed over. “An offensive strike?” he asked quietly.
“No; a show of superiority.” Then Hogan watched the anger take over Le Beau’s face and creep into his voice. “They want to humiliate my people just to show the rest of the world how wonderful they are. They think the French people are just dogs to be kicked, not people to be respected,” he spat.
Hogan sympathized. How hard it must be for him to be so close to this, and unable to do anything about it. Hogan could think of no words that were adequate. Nothing could combat the humiliation Le Beau would be feeling. Awkwardly, he offered, “It’s all for show, Louis. The French people know they are better than the Nazis.”
Le Beau turned to Hogan and burst, “We have to stop them, Colonel!”
Hogan suddenly understood the murmurings he had awakened to. Le Beau was asking him to find a way to avert this. Had he been in top shape, he would have considered it a difficult challenge; right now, he thought it near impossible. Closing his eyes to the returning pain, he said, “That’s a pretty big order.”
“Oui,” Le Beau admitted. He made a fist and punched his other hand with it. “Give me ten minutes with one of those filthy Krauts on Thursday and—”
“Thursday?” Hogan asked. Why did that day stand out? He tried to think, but could not put his finger on it. He brought his hand up to his injured left torso; the nerves were starting to scream, and a splitting headache was hammering the front of his skull. He tried hard to ignore them.
Hogan said, a small light glimmering in his eyes, “you may have your chance
yet.” He had just remembered his conversation with Klink. How long ago had that
been? Days? Weeks? Or just a few hours ago? “Fill me in. We might at least be
able to put them off for awhile.” Le Beau turned to him with a new hope and
gratitude in his eyes. “But first… I think I’m going to need to see
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Carter pointed to the approaching plane from the cover of the brush. He and Le Beau watched as a small parcel was ejected from the aircraft, and a parachute unfurled itself, slowing the parcel’s speedy descent to a casual float. Under cover of the night, and with the polish on their faces and dark clothing that was the uniform of their trade, the pair followed the path the bundle made, then started to disentangle it from its parachute. Rustling behind them made them turn quickly. Le Beau hugged the package to himself as Carter lithely drew his gun.
“What do you have there?” came the faceless voice.
“Come out where we can see you,” Carter said boldly. The voice was not overly harsh. Carter wondered if they were simply encountering a desperate civilian. “We have no food.”
“I do not want food,” the voice said huskily, the English heavily accented.
“Come out,” Carter said, with more menace in his voice. “You’re surrounded here.”
A slight figure came out from behind a nearby tree. Carter tensed and held his weapon firmly. Le Beau reached for his weapon with one free hand, keeping their precious cargo close to his body. “I would expect not,” said the voice. But the small pistol in the hands of the darkened figure was lowered anyway. “Colonel Hogan’s men do not operate that way.” The figure was now exposed by the moonlight.
“Tiger?” questioned Le Beau, incredulous. “Qu’est-ce c’est--?”
“We are in desperate need of supplies. Most nights we are now scouring the countryside for what we require. I saw the parachute and decided to take a chance,” she said. “I did not know it would be you who would be here trying to retrieve it.”
“It is medicine. Morphine for the Colonel,” Le Beau replied.
“Colonel Hogan?” Tiger answered, worried. “He is in much pain?”
“Oui,” Le Beau replied. “We had no medicine at the camp. We must get this to him now.”
“C’mon,” Carter urged, suddenly finding himself as the sensible one. “Let’s get outta here. We can have our reunion later. We’ve gotta get back.”
He and Le Beau raced stealthily back to the tunnel entrance, with Tiger close behind. Leaving Le Beau to help her down to the tunnel floor, Carter sprinted ahead with the package. He was met at the top of the entry into the barracks by Newkirk, who reached out for the bundle before Carter was even fully back in the room. “C’mon, mate, give; we need it right away,” he said anxiously. Turning without further explanation, Newkirk disappeared into Hogan’s room and closed the door.
Surprised, Carter hauled himself back into the barracks, and turned to help Tiger in behind him, with Le Beau bringing up the rear. “What’s going on?” he asked Kinch, whose eyes were widening at the sight of Tiger.
“The Colonel really needs that medication. Good job,” was all he said.
Tiger brushed herself off a bit and approached Kinchloe shyly. “Bon soir,” she said. “It has been many months since I have seen you, Sergeant.”
Kinch nodded. “Yes, ma’am. A long time.” He looked questioningly at Carter and Le Beau.
“You’ll never guess who we ran into out there,” Le Beau started lightly, then turned serious. “How is the Colonel?”
be a lot better in a minute,” Kinch admitted. “
Tiger’s eyes expressed concern. “Colonel Hogan was very badly wounded when we found him. We did our best to help him, but I was afraid we did not do enough—”
“You did fine,” Kinch assured her. “He got back in one piece. His wound site was clean and the bullet was gone.” Kinch shuddered to think how that had been accomplished, with no exit wound apparent, and tried to block out the image of someone removing a bullet from Hogan’s chest with no proper surgical equipment. “It was lucky you were there.”
“As I have told the others, we are getting desperate for supplies; we have been out most nights looking for things we can use. We cannot depend solely on you for our support; it was purely par hasard... remercient Dieu... that we discovered Colonel Hogan last night.”
“Speaking of which, what happened to the contact? Why didn’t he warn the Colonel?” asked Carter.
“The agreement has always been to leave if your contact does not show up. Colonel Hogan was over twenty minutes late; he could not take a chance. Later, when we thought it was safe, we decided to head out for supplies and it was then that we found the Colonel.”
The door to Hogan’s room opened,
and Newkirk and Wilson appeared.
Tiger smiled gently. “From down there,” she said, pointing to the bunk where she and the others had emerged. “I hope you do not mind.”
“Mind?” Newkirk echoed. “Since
when do I mind a pretty face?”
“How is he?” asked Tiger.
“He’s pretty banged up, in a lot
of pain since the shock’s worn off. But he’ll sleep now,”
“D’accord. Anything for the Colonel,” said Le Beau. He turned to
Tiger. “There is bad news from
Tiger looked at Le Beau questioningly. “What is it? Did something happen? It was so hard to get him to let it go—”
“It all got through,” Le Beau
replied. He led Tiger to the table, and they sat down. “The Nazis are planning
to march through
Papa Bear, Tiger thought. Always with the schemes. What can you do that will help my people now?
Hogan was so certain that what his eyes fell on as he awakened was a dream, that he closed them again. It wasn’t until he heard a persistent, beckoning voice calling him, and felt fingers rubbing the back of his hand in a smooth, gentle circle, that he realized he had not been still dreaming, but was, in fact, quite conscious.
“Colonel. Colonel Hogan.” Opening his eyes reluctantly, Hogan lazily turned his head toward the voice that was caressing his senses with endless gentleness. Maybe it is dream, he thought. It’s certainly not a nightmare.
A drowsy smile tried to cross his lips. “Tiger?” he whispered, reluctant to disturb the reverie.
A kind, compassionate face looked down on him. “We meet again,” she said softly, her hand still stroking his in a comforting gesture.
“Am I still at Stalag 13?” he wondered, confused by the pain and the drugs.
“Oui, Colonel. You have been asleep for a long time.” Hogan tried hard to remember but gave up when only flashes went through his mind. “The morphine,” she prompted. “Corporal Le Beau and Sergeant Carter brought it back last night. I came with them.”
Hogan nodded, still blessedly numb to much more than a dull, aching feeling in his upper chest and side. “Time?” he asked, finding his tongue heavy.
“It is early morning. Do you have pain?”
“Some. Not like it was before,
though.” Hogan wondered how he was going to make it to roll call, when he could
barely keep his eyes open. Then, forcing himself to think more clearly, he
said, “The Krauts are planning to go into
“Corporal Le Beau seems to think the great Papa Bear can do something about this,” Tiger responded. She smiled to show him she was not being unkind. “What kind of man can stop the advance of the German army?”
“My mother always said I was an ambitious boy,” he answered.
Tiger smiled. “You must be mending; your impertinence is returning.”
“It’s what keeps me going.”
Hogan and Tiger lapsed into silence, Tiger still absentmindedly running her hand along Hogan’s arm. Hogan simply lay in a half-dazed state, thinking vaguely that Tiger should be out of the camp, trying to focus his thoughts but finding himself unable to in the face of the comfort of his companion. “Wake me for roll call,” he finally mumbled, as he fell back to sleep.
Tiger murmured assent and left him to rest undisturbed.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Colonel Klink paused in his
frantic preparations for Thursday’s events to consider what he had seen out in
the compound this morning. Used to being greeted outside Barracks Two by an
outspoken senior POW officer, he was amazed to see Hogan still out of sorts,
and quite subdued by all accounts. Moreover, when the men were dismissed after
the count, he was surprised to see Hogan’s man Kinchloe head to Barracks Five
and emerge with Sergeant Wilson, who accompanied him back to Hogan’s quarters.
For a moment Klink considered going himself to find out what was going on—after
He had wanted to share with Hogan the plans he had made for the special day—to gloat, almost, if he admitted it. Who else in the camp could he share this victory with? While Sergeant Hans Schultz was his closest ranking countryman, he was still merely the Sergeant of the Guards, and while loyal, Klink hardly considered this man his equal. He doubted Schultz could appreciate the feelings of pride that he had at this time, and he wanted to share them with someone whom he felt could almost read his mind. In this, Klink was sure Hogan was adept. The American always seemed to know which buttons to push, for the bad and for the good. And even though they were on opposite sides of the war, Klink always had a feeling that Hogan, somehow, was the one in control. And let’s face it, Klink admitted only to himself, when Hogan is in control everything seems to turn out all right in the end.
Don’t look for trouble, Klink finally decided. If Hogan really needed help, Klink believed his men would not hesitate to come to the Kommandant to get it, German officer or not. Hogan’s men would do anything for him, he realized wistfully. That kind of respect only follows an honorable man. So he continued with his planning, resolved to simply fill Hogan in later, to have him take his part in the festivities, as Klink wanted.
Klink’s plans to review the ceremony over a glass of schnapps and a fresh cigar were thwarted when Helga announced a call from General Albert Burkhalter. Though he always did his best to please the portly officer, Klink always seemed a step behind, and “Yes, sir, ‘Shut up and get my snow shoes,’” almost always seemed to be part of a conversation with the man. So now he sighed, putting aside his niggling concern for his senior POW, and picked up the phone.
“General Burkhalter, what a pleasant surprise, sir!” Klink sang into the receiver, a broad smile lighting his features. “Yes, General, I suppose I should have expected a call from you about the ceremony this week,” he said after a pause, a bit of the shine disappearing. “Yes, sir, we are preparing Stalag 13 for the General’s visit. Every man here is doing his very best, and I am personally overseeing the decorating of the camp…. Yes, sir, I’m sure it will manage to go over well anyway….” Klink’s monocle nearly dropped off his face as his face sagged with humiliation. “Yes, General, we will be ready, sir—what’s that?” he asked, a bit of interest returning. “Why, yes, sir, of course we can always make room for more…. Yes, we would be delighted to have General Werden and his men join us….Of course, General Burkhalter, all will be in readiness….Yes, General, the guest quarters will be spotless…. Yes, sir, Colonel Hogan has promised he will keep his men in line, sir,” Klink said, nodding. Just as quickly he started shaking his head. “No, sir, I don’t think that’s always a good thing for the Luftwaffe either…. Yes, General…. Heil, Hitler.” And he hung up.
Klink sighed. Well, for better or for worse, he would have to see Hogan now.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Klink’s on the way!” Carter announced, bursting into the barracks from the compound.
Le Beau stood up from the table, drawing Tiger up with him. “You have to hide, ma plus chere.” Tiger stood up, waiting for direction. “Down in the tunnel,” he added, as Newkirk tapped the side of the bunk bed that released the catch. Newkirk handed her down underneath the barracks and then secured the bunk back in place, striking a casual pose in front of it. Kinch stole a quick glance toward Hogan’s silent room, then grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down at the table. Carter sat on his bunk and grabbed a book, trying to look nonchalant. Newkirk reached over and silently turned the book over so the words were right side up.
The door opened seconds later, and Sergeant Schultz ambled in, toting his rifle, followed by Klink. “Achtung!” he ordered. No one moved.
Making his way to the center of the room, Klink issued an “At ease, gentlemen,” before he even realized that no one had stood at attention. “Gentlemen, there is a very important work detail you need to be part of….” He drifted off as he noticed Hogan was not with his men. “Where is Colonel Hogan?” he asked.
Hogan’s men exchanged urgent
glances. Hogan had been in a deep but troubled sleep only moments before, still
very weak from his injuries. During his last visit,
“He’s right here.” Hogan’s voice startled the men, who turned to see him emerging from his quarters. Fully dressed and eyes almost unnaturally bright, the Colonel approached the Kommandant. “Can’t a guy write a letter around here?” he asked.
Klink turned to face the senior POW, and was again taken aback by the less than robust demeanor of the American. Momentarily put off his mission, Klink scrutinized Hogan’s abused face. “Colonel Hogan, I expected your men to be out in the compound by now. I need your men to…” He stopped as he noticed Hogan’s attention seeming to drift. “Colonel Hogan, do I not have your interest?”
Hogan’s eyes moved back to Klink.
The truth was, his mind was simply unable to focus properly. “Of course,
Kommandant. Just making sure my men aren’t up to their old tricks,” he said,
with a glance toward Kinch. Better
reinforce the charade; otherwise I’ll have no excuse for being out of
circulation. There’s too much to do to be playing
Kinch nodded fleetingly toward Le Beau and Newkirk.
“That is admirable, Colonel Hogan. We need to keep this positive attitude in place for Thursday!” Klink reminded him. “However, I have come by to see you because—”
“I don’t care what you say, you little frog, I’m tellin’ you you’re wrong!” Newkirk burst suddenly.
Klink turned to see the Englishman facing off against Le Beau.
“The English always think they are right… no one else could ever know anything!” Le Beau retorted. He turned away from Newkirk, crossing his arms, and letting out a loud, derisive snort.
“Colonel Hogan,” Klink resumed, trying to ignore the ruckus, “I need your men to clean out the exercise area in the main part of the compound. We have, of course, our special visitors coming the day after tomorrow. And now I am told there will be even more of them, staying overnight at the camp—as well as a special demonstration of the German Army’s—”
“Don’t you turn your back on me, you arrogant sod,” Newkirk continued.
“—new tank,” Klink tried to finish. “We are going to need a larger viewing area, and—”
“I can turn my back whenever I please, especially if there is no one worth worrying about behind me,” Le Beau retorted.
“Hey, fellas,” Hogan admonished, furrowing his brow. He turned to Klink. “Anything you want, Kommandant. Just let me handle these men first, okay?” He tried to maneuver Klink out towards the door, anxious to start analyzing the new development. Schultz just watched with surprise, and some disappointment, that the two men who were considered close friends could suddenly be so cross with each other. Hogan turned his attention to Le Beau and Newkirk. “Now come on, fellas,” he said, approaching them as though to facilitate peace, “hasn’t this gone on long enough?”
Suddenly the two men were on each other. Carter jumped up to try and break them apart, and Kinch flew in as well. Klink merely turned to watch in amazement. Hogan reached in to try to pull the arguing pair apart. “You’d better go, sir. This might get ugly,” he said, desperate to get Klink out of the way. “Knock it off,” he commanded. Le Beau and Newkirk didn’t seem to listen. “I said, knock it o—!”
Hogan cut off abruptly as in the melee someone struck the still fresh wound on his chest. All the blood drained from his face, and he froze, wide-eyed, trying desperately to focus on something, anything, to stop himself from screaming in pain. The fighting came to a sudden halt as the others realized what had happened, and Hogan slowly, stiffly turned to Klink, who was still standing by the door, watching. Figures he wouldn’t get involved, Newkirk thought fleetingly.
“I’ll have the men out soon, Kommandant,” Hogan promised in a rough voice. He wondered if Klink could see the sweat of pain springing onto his brow.
“Very well, Hogan,” Klink replied, confused by what he had just seen, but more worried about the impact it would have on Thursday’s events. “See that you do. Sergeant Schultz will show you what needs to be done.” He turned on his heel and left.
Schultz paused on his way out. “Please, do not fight,” he said. “There is a war on. You need all the friends you can get.”
As the door closed behind him, Kinch slipped his arms under Hogan’s to catch the man he knew would not be standing for long. Hogan gasped and collapsed against the radioman, trying to pull himself together, his right hand shaking as he brought it up to wipe some of the sweat from his face. Kinch quickly settled Hogan down on Carter’s bunk and looked apprehensively at the others.
“We’re sorry, Colonel,” Newkirk said. “We were just trying to—”
“I know; it’s all right,” Hogan whispered, not looking at anyone, trying hard to will away the nausea he was feeling. “Kinch—?” he started.
“I’ll get the morphine, Colonel,” Kinch answered. He moved past Carter, who was motionless with worry, and tapped on the bunk that led to the tunnel.
Hopping down through the hole, Kinch told Tiger it was safe to emerge, and she came back up into the barracks, catching her breath when she saw Hogan looking colorless and strained on the bunk. “What happened?” she asked, sitting beside him.
“Don’t ask,” Newkirk said.
“Carter, go get
“Let’s get him into his room,” Newkirk suggested. Le Beau, still quiet, came up beside Hogan, and the two of them managed to maneuver the Colonel onto his bunk, Tiger following anxiously behind. Hogan’s body trembled on the mattress as he concentrated on keeping his breathing calm, even though he was starting to panic about how he could plan to take advantage of the German tanks coming into the camp if he didn’t get past this crippling pain in the next few hours.
Kinch, Carter, and Wilson came in
all at once. “Had a bit of a knock, eh, Colonel?”
“Boy, that wasn’t good,” Kinch remarked wearily as they made their way back to the table in the common room.
“And it’s not getting better,” Newkirk added. “With ol’ Klink wanting us outside cleaning up. He’ll expect the Colonel to be outside with us. And even if he was well, he’d want to be in here scheming.”
“Klink said there’s a new German
tank being demonstrated here,” Carter piped up. “Maybe it has to do with the
information that the Colonel passed on to
Le Beau looked at him. “Then it
would mean these are the tanks to go through
Kinch wondered if Hogan would be up to doing anything in the next twenty-four hours. Looking to the Colonel’s quarters, he said, “Then we’ll have to watch where our fists end up the next time we put on a little show for the Kommandant.”
“You’ve been here too long already; it’s time you went back. Le Beau’s waiting at the other end.”
Hogan was standing in the tunnel with Tiger, cradling his left arm to keep his chest immobile, and trying to ignore the pain that the morphine had masked, but not succeeded in completely removing. When he had come fully in control of his senses, he had been almost livid to find that Tiger was still in the camp, and, ignoring the feeble excuses from the men around him, had insisted that she be on her way as soon as it was safe. If they were truthful, the men didn’t really have an excuse for Tiger’s presence, except that it somehow made them feel nurtured at a time when a lot of things were falling apart around them, and she seemed in no hurry to leave.
“I needed to make sure you were all right,” Tiger explained. “After all, it was I, with others, who found you.” She knew Hogan was right; nonetheless she was upset at being turned out unceremoniously, especially by a man who had needed her help to get down the ladder to the tunnel without falling on his face.
Hogan paused, shame-faced, at the truth. “I don’t want to repay you by letting you get caught by the Krauts,” he said shortly. Another pause. “I never did say thank you properly for the other night. I owe you my life. Again.”
Tiger’s features softened. “To be honest, I thought we were too late. You were so still. So cold…” She pulled her mind away from that wet night and that terrible fear, that overwhelming feeling of loss that thank God turned out to be unfounded. “I am sorry we had to inflict so much more pain to save you.”
Hogan shrugged without thinking,
then winced as the muscles below his collarbone protested loudly. “I’m alive to
feel it. It’s okay.” Heavy with emotion he felt as disgrace, Hogan said, “I,
uh… want to thank you for completing my mission the other night.
“You don’t have to thank me, Colonel,” she said, touched by Hogan’s awkwardness. “I will always do whatever I can for you.” There is so much more I would do….
“God only knows what would have happened if the Germans had found me first,” Hogan continued, lost in his own shame. “They could have just taken the information and left me to die.” Hogan strained to remember that nightmare evening. “Or made sure that I was dead before they left.”
“I doubt it would have been so simple,” Tiger assured him gently. “You were hardly an easy target.” Hogan looked at her, bewildered. “When we first tried to take the information from you, you woke briefly and fought like a wounded bull. It took three of us to get you calm enough to help you…and there was still no hope of getting to that code.”
Hogan shook his head, carefully. “I don’t remember,” he said.
“I’m not surprised,” she said. “You were delirious.” But at least you were alive. I was so relieved to see that you were alive. “Of course, eventually, you were weak enough for us to simply do what needed to be done.”
“Well, thanks for doing it,” Hogan said, still uncomfortable. He cleared his throat. “Now you’d better get out of here. The fellas took advantage of my not being alert and kept you here a lot longer than they should have.”
Tiger nodded. “They care about you very much,” she said simply. “They were frightened for you.”
“I know,” Hogan acknowledged. “I’m very blessed to have them.” He stopped and looked at Tiger as though seeing her for the first time. In his mind’s eye he saw her worried face at the farmhouse, her gentle eyes consoling him. He felt her touch on his feverish cheek, and on his still, cold hand. “And you,” he added. “It would have been a lot worse if—” As though suddenly hearing what he was saying, Hogan cut off and turned away. “I mean…thanks again. For everything.”
Tiger nodded but said nothing. To speak would be to make Hogan feel more ill at ease. And she appreciated how hard he was trying to express himself, when she knew he rarely revealed himself to anyone; he couldn’t, in his position. He had to remain detached and disinterested, or he would go mad with grief and doubt when something went wrong, as it was bound to do, one day.
“Oskar Schnitzer’s waiting for you with the dog truck,” Hogan said finally. “You’ll come up under the doghouse, and the boys’ll distract the guards so you can get in.”
Tiger nodded assent. “I have done it before,” she grinned. “That means I ride with the German shepherds.”
“Lucky dogs,” Hogan quipped.
Tiger smiled, gently squeezed Hogan’s arm in farewell, and disappeared from his sight.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“If you were a high-ranking Nazi General, what could possibly entice you to stop in at Stalag 13?” Hogan asked the next day.
“An inferiority complex,” quipped Newkirk. Hogan grinned.
“Or orders from above,” countered Kinch.
“Right,” said Hogan, pacing his small office. He always paced when he concocted plans to outwit the enemy, and today was no different. But this time his men were keeping a close eye on him, on orders from Wilson, who again warned that Hogan was far from recovered, despite his insistence that all was business as usual. They were going to take no chances on a repeat of Hogan’s collapse on the bunk; to say that that incident had distressed his men would be an understatement. “So if you take your orders from higher up, say direct from old Scramble Brains himself, what do we know about you?”
“You cope well with insanity,” Newkirk piped up. Hogan offered a light smile, then got back to business.
“And you’ve probably been in the Army a long time,” Carter added.
“Right,” Hogan agreed again. “And among other things, that means…”
“That you have no sense of humor,” Le Beau said. “And no taste for fine food.”
Hogan paused in his step and pointed to the Frenchman. “Now you’re getting warm,” he said. The others exchanged confused looks, which they then turned to Hogan. “Look, these guys aren’t going to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in this little backwater place we so lovingly call home. But we need to get close enough to the new tanks to see what this prototype is all about. It could mean the difference between victory and defeat for our boys, and I for one want to stack the odds on the side of the Allies. And that means keeping them away from their precious war machines long enough to do some real damage.”
“So what do we do, Colonel?” asked Kinch.
“These jokers are used to being wined and dined. Going to fancy parties. Being treated like royalty. All they have to do is drop some little Prussian Corporal’s name and all of a sudden they’re the toast of the town.” Hogan was already starting to feel tired. His headache had never disappeared and if he was honest with himself the morphine hadn’t been as effective as he had hoped, either. Still, if nothing else, he was determined today to come up with a plan; that’s what people expected him to do, and he wasn’t going to disappoint them. Or himself.
“So you’re saying we have to make it worth their while to hang around,” Kinch surmised.
“Well said,” Hogan replied, starting to nod then thinking better of it. “An honor for Klink is an honor for the camp, right?” he asked.
“That’s what he wants us to think when he’s being all generous and helpful,” Newkirk retorted.
“Then it’s up to us to be generous and helpful, too.” Hogan started a very slow pace. “After all, this is a very special occasion. It requires special food…special preparation…and someone’s special touch…”
“I will not cook for the filthy
Bosche who are planning to trample through
Hogan raised an eyebrow. How could even that little move hurt? “Not even if it might mean keeping them out of your beloved city?”
Le Beau looked sullenly at Hogan, then at the others. “Maybe I can make one of the dishes terrible.”
“You’ll make them beautifully. Better than you ever have before,” Hogan countered. “And it’ll be the kind of food that needs lots and lots of wine. If you want to make something terrible, do up some sauerbraten, according to the recipe. You’ll have your gourmet’s revenge, and they’ll never know the difference.” Hogan sat down on his bunk and looked at his men. “I’ll talk with Klink about a special dinner tomorrow night. Some of you have just volunteered as waiters.”
“So how do we get to the tanks, Colonel?” asked Carter.
“We’re going to need more than a glance in the dark,” Hogan said, trying to think. It hurt to do it. “Those tanks may be heavily guarded. Someone’s going to have to go inside one in broad daylight and in plain sight of the Krauts.”
“That’s suicide, Colonel,” Newkirk protested softly. “You won’t have as many waiters at your dinner party if one of us tries that.”
“Not if we’re given permission,” Hogan rejoined. The others looked at him. Hogan seemed to be thinking aloud, speaking to no one in particular. “All we have to do is get the Krauts to put someone in the tank and…” He snapped his fingers, then looked to his radioman. “Kinch, contact the Underground. Ask them to have Tiger come back here tonight for a meeting. Arrange to bring her in through the emergency tunnel.”
“Right, Colonel,” Kinch responded.
“Le Beau, start planning a gourmet menu that would persuade a man on a hunger strike to break fast and have three helpings.”
“Carter—how’s your camera?”
“Everything’s okay, Colonel. We’ve still got the regular camera, and we have one hidden in a pack of cigarettes, and last week I designed one to fit in the lapel of a jacket—”
“Perfect,” Hogan said, stopping what was no doubt going to be a continuing stream of explanation. “Will it fit on a woman’s collar?”
Carter looked at his commanding officer, wide-eyed. “Gee, I don’t know, Colonel.”
“See that it does,” Hogan answered. “Because if all goes to plan, Tiger will be taking the pictures for us.”
“What?” Newkirk asked. “Put Tiger in a tank?”
“Why not?” Hogan asked. “Only
fitting for the Germans to have a Poster Girl for their campaign through
Promotions, Plans and Promises
“It’s not just an honor for you, Kommandant,” Hogan was saying about
ninety minutes later. “When someone says that Kommandant Klink runs the best
POW camp in all of
“That’s very commendable of you, Hogan. But I really don’t have time to discuss how the men will be affected at the moment.” Klink tried to wave Hogan away, but the American Colonel was leaning very close to him as he sat at his desk, and for some reason Klink couldn’t turn his head away from the man. Something in the concept was appealing: show the visiting brass that Klink commanded the respect and the good wishes of his charges, as well as his own subordinates.
“Very well, sir, but Le Beau will be offended; he’s already started planning a menu to throw out your diet for….” Hogan stood up, grateful for the relief to his still-sore torso. “Still,” he sighed, resigned and turning toward the door, “I understand that some things are even more important than trying to butter up some General who has the ear of the Fuhrer and could get you that promotion you’ve been itching for.”
Suddenly Hogan couldn’t get another step further. Klink had sprung up from his desk and was blocking his way. “What do you mean by that, Hogan? How could this happen?”
“Well, sir, you’re going to have
some VIPs here; if you make a good impression on them, it’s bound to get back
to old Bubble Head—” Klink shot Hogan a shocked look. Reconsidering his
wording, Hogan amended, “—uh, you know, the small guy with the moustache. That,
along with your inspiring record as
“You think so?” Klink asked, quite happily willing to be led along this particular garden path.
“Oh, and it’s no more than you deserve, sir,” Hogan said, toying with his crush cap in his hands. “But you’re busy, and I certainly can admire and respect a man who puts dedication before any personal gain.” He tried to get past Klink to the door. “I’ll tell Le Beau to forget about it, sir.”
Klink blocked Hogan’s way. “Now, Hogan, don’t be so hasty. Perhaps I was a bit short with you.” Klink smiled what was supposed to be one of his most charming smiles. Hogan felt his stomach turn. “I was merely distracted by the monumental preparations required for tomorrow. After all, General Werden is a very important man, and it is my responsibility to make sure he and his men are well treated. But that is all secondary, of course, to my duties as Kommandant of this camp, and if the men would feel slighted if I did not let them participate, then it falls to me as their commander—and morale officer, if you will—to do something about it. Of course Le Beau may make us a marvelous meal tomorrow night. I will direct Schultz to see that he has everything he needs.”
Hogan pasted a grateful smile on his face and tried not to let his eyes roll toward the ceiling. “That’s very noble of you, sir. The men will be so thankful.” He placed his cap on his head. “I’ll go tell Le Beau now. Oh—and some of the men have volunteered to be waiters as well.”
“Really?” Klink asked.
“Oh, yes, sir. The chance to be in the same room with someone so close to the Fuhrer… well, sir, I can’t even tell you how it makes them feel.”
“I know what you mean,” Klink admitted. He frowned, his nerves starting to play up. He went back to his desk and sat down. “But right now it makes me feel sick to my stomach.”
“Now I know how you feel, Colonel Klink,” Hogan responded. And with a loose salute, he left the office.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“So you’re willing to go along with the plan?”
“Oui, Colonel Hogan. If you think it is best, I will do it,” Tiger answered that evening, sitting on Hogan’s bunk while he explained his idea.
Le Beau came in and handed her a cup of hot tea. She smiled at him, and he blushed, then seemed to forget how to walk. Hogan paused in his explanation and stared at the Frenchman. The Corporal didn’t notice. “Le Beau,” Hogan finally said. Le Beau, startled, tore his eyes away from Tiger and looked at his senior officer. “Out.”
“Oui. Sorry, mon Colonel.”
Tiger smiled again. “Your men are very kind.”
“Yeah. But I’d hate for you to get caught in a Tunnel of Love with one of them,” Hogan said with a chuckle. “They’d love it, though.”
“It would be much preferred to what you are asking of me now,” she replied quietly.
Hogan came and sat beside her. “I know it’s a lot to ask,” he said in a low voice. “First sign of danger and we’ll whisk you out of there before you can blink. But I can’t think of any other way that we’ll get inside that tank before we sabotage it and the others without getting shot. At least you’d have some time in there without being suspected of anything more devious than a bit of womanly wiles. You get the pictures, we get you out. That’s it.”
Tiger nodded, looking at the dark circles under his eyes. “I will do it.”
“Good,” Hogan said. “All I have to do is get the Krauts to play along.”
“You will,” Tiger reassured him. She paused, regarding this man who never seemed to give up, who always seemed to be in control. And she wondered what he did when he felt doubt. Or did he never feel it? “You are recovering?” she asked gently.
“In top form now,” Hogan said heartily.
You are lying, Tiger thought. Your eyes are bright with pain. “It will be hard work for you and your men, too,” she said. “And dangerous.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t buy seats in the balcony,” Hogan quipped. “We’re right onstage.” He turned to her, serious. “And this time, you’ll be the soloist.” Tiger nodded. Hogan took her hands from her lap and pressed them in his. “We’ll keep you safe. I promise.”
Tiger smiled at Hogan. “I trust you, Colonel Hogan,” she said. Now you must learn to trust yourself.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Get him out…Get him out now!... Please, please, Colonel Hogan, stay calm, we are trying to help you…. You are safe, Colonel. We will look after this for you. Please. Please try to hear me…. Hogan tossed, moaning, in his bed, as memories flooded through his dreams, turning into nightmares.
~What’s that tank doing here?~ Hogan turned toward the thunderous noise behind him, stumbling to the cover of the bushes, holding his bleeding chest. The Panzer tank came barreling through the woods, trampling everything in its path, and came to a stop a few feet from Hogan’s hiding place.
“Wait!” Hogan cried, as Tiger emerged from nowhere, and a German officer gallantly helped her into the tank. Without so much as a fleeting glance in Hogan’s direction, Tiger disappeared from sight. Hogan came out from his hiding place and shouted at the massive machinery impotently. “Tiger, where are you going? We were supposed to get you out of there! I promised you’d be safe!”
The tank started to pull away. Hogan screamed after it. “Tiger! Tiger, come back! Come back!” But his pleas went unheeded, and Hogan was left watching the tank retreat from sight, as pain overwhelmed him and he collapsed to the dirt.
Hogan woke up gasping, his breathing wild, his eyes wide. He sat up, putting a hand to his now throbbing wound, trying to collect himself as sweat dried on his face and on his back. It was a dream, he said to himself. We’ll get her out. The same way she got me out. She’ll be safe.
The stinging in his upper chest
sent a chill through him, and he was so, so thirsty. But he didn’t feel steady
enough to go to the common room for some water. Damn that tunnel, he thought, as the idea of going to see
The Gang’s All Here
“Krauts at the gate, Colonel.” Kinch popped his head into the hut to see Hogan sitting at the table in the common room, deep in thought.
“Thanks, Kinch,” Hogan responded. “Tell the fellas it’s show time.” Kinch understood Hogan’s mood and disappeared. Hogan stood up, giving a final look to his dress uniform, which had been neatly pressed and freshened up that morning by Newkirk. Then, determined not to let doubt plague him, he visibly straightened, and headed out the door.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“General Burkhalter, always a pleasure to have you here at Stalag 13,” Klink was groveling, as Hogan made his way over to the men standing near the Kommandant’s office.
But General Albert Burkhalter was in his usual mood when dealing with Klink—surly. “Klink, I think you would say that to me even if I were coming to say that the war was over—and we lost,” he growled. Then, pointing to the man beside him holding a large camera, he said, “This is Herr Klaus Oppenheimer from the Propaganda Ministry. He will be taking photographs of the ceremony and the tank demonstration this afternoon.” Klink nearly bowed his welcome. Scowling in Hogan’s direction as he saw the senior POW approaching, Burkhalter added, “I see Hogan has wasted no time in getting his nose into the middle of this.”
“Now, General, is that any way to greet the man responsible for your evening feast?” Hogan chided him. He nodded at Klink. “ ’Afternoon, Kommandant. Have you explained the celebration to the General?”
“What celebration is that, Klink?” asked Burkhalter, not sounding at all like he was in the mood for a party.
“Well, General,” Klink began, with a false laugh that always made Hogan sigh inwardly, “Colonel Hogan and the other prisoners thought it would be nice to have a special dinner for our distinguished guests this evening, in honor of the… honor…being bestowed on our humble Stalag.” He laughed again. “After all, if it weren’t for the prisoners, there would be no ‘No Escape’ record to have!” He continued laughing. Hogan just cocked his head and looked at him, while Burkhalter glared at the two Colonels before him.
“I don’t believe we’ve been introduced,” Hogan put in, nodding toward the third man.
“Hogan, this is Herr Klaus Oppenheimer from the Ministry of Propaganda. Herr Oppenheimer, this is Colonel Robert Hogan, senior POW officer here at Stalag 13,” Burkhalter said. Hogan couldn’t help by notice the distaste in the General’s voice when the man said his name. A part of Hogan smiled inside.
“So you are saying that Colonel Hogan suggested this meal tonight?” Oppenheimer said, looking at Hogan curiously.
“That’s right, sir,” Hogan said.
“Then, Klink, you had better make sure that Sergeant Schultz comes along as taster. Just in case the food is poisoned.” Burkhalter looked with what was only a half-joking face at the American.
“Don’t worry, General; I’ve almost forgiven you for letting the Nazis conduct tests on me….and then delivering me here. But then, you never know what impact those experiments had on my mental stability.” He started twitching his left eye in an exaggerated fashion, to offset the warning in the words.
Burkhalter shifted uncomfortably, then decided to change the subject. “General Werden will be here soon, Klink. Then the ceremony can commence. Once it is over, there will be a demonstration of the prototype of the new Panzer tanks. Their increased maneuverability will mean a great deal to our war effort. It has always been one of our weak spots.”
So that’s it. “I’m sure the men would be delighted to watch as well, General,” Hogan piped up. “After all, it’s our boys who are going to be facing them. And the Kommandant is always telling us it’s about time we accepted the inevitable defeat of the Allies.”
“It will be a general order, Hogan,” Burkhalter replied. “The men should be falling out already near the platform.”
“I would like to see some of your men near the new tanks, Colonel,” Oppenheimer said to Hogan.
So would I, Hogan thought.
“I am sure the General will be able to arrange whatever you need. Right this way, gentlemen,” Klink sang.
Hogan lagged behind as Klink led Burkhalter and Oppenheimer toward the open area near the motor pool where the temporary platform had been erected. Scanning the perimeter of the camp, he looked for any signs of what was to come. Nothing. The knot in his stomach tightened, and loosened, and tightened again. Just like at the start of any mission, Hogan was being made fully aware of his humanity—and his potential to fail. What if he was doing the wrong thing? Putting Tiger’s life at risk foolishly? What if he was overestimating his ability to get her to safety? He almost preferred the acute pain of his injuries to this mental pain; those were his alone. But his mind was telling him that his plans involved others, who were putting their trust in him. And he wasn’t able to escape that. Not this time, and not as commander of a sabotage and intelligence unit. He couldn’t work alone to protect the others, no matter how much he wanted to.
Now, his chest still aching terribly, Hogan headed toward the front gate of the camp. All Wilson had been able to offer him in the morning was a sedative, which would leave him oblivious, or morphine, which would make him more likely to succumb to the tiredness he was feeling, and therefore have the same result. So Hogan had rejected both and opted for a couple of aspirin tablets, which hardly seemed enough. Still, he sighed, studying the fringes of Stalag 13, it was the best he was going to get.
All was forgotten as he started to hear a thunder-like rumbling. Looking around, he saw that Kinch and Newkirk had taken up their observation posts outside Barracks Two. Le Beau was walking with Carter across the compound toward the platform. Olsen was playing football with Foster near the warning fence. Squinting in the sun, Hogan looked toward the source of the noise, and saw a very large, very dangerous machine heading toward the camp.
Not just any Panzer, but a Panzer the likes of which Hogan had never seen. Through critical eyes, Hogan looked carefully at the sloped front armor, the long gun turret reflecting the rays of the bleak sun, and watched as the earth beneath the caterpillar tracks of the machine crumbled while small rocks bounced out of the way like basketballs being dribbled at high speed. The noise got louder and Hogan could see a head sticking out of the top of the tank as the vehicle pulled closer to the gate. Two camp guards swung the front gates open wide and the tank rolled in, turning awkwardly through the gap in the fence and coming to a halt in the middle of the compound. A German officer’s staff car followed in its wake, small flags bearing swastikas on the hood waving in the breeze. Hogan watched as it carelessly pulled up alongside Burkhalter’s car and sprayed dirt up from the tires as it ground impatiently to a halt.
A severe-looking officer burst
out of the car, not bothering to wait for the driver to open his door. With
only a quick glance around him, the man set his eyes on Hogan and called out in
heavily accented English, “You—American. Where is your
Hogan fought back the urge to reply “You—Kraut—go to Hell.” Instead, he strolled as nonchalantly as he could manage toward the tall, strongly-built officer; a General, Hogan noted. “I believe you’re talking about Colonel Wilhelm Klink,” Hogan offered, a tolerant smile crossing his lips. “I’m Colonel Robert Hogan, senior POW officer,” he added, offering his hand to shake but not saluting.
“Hmph—if I had wanted to know who you are, I would have asked you to tell me,” the man said, ignoring Hogan’s hand. “Of course I mean Wilhelm Klink; who else would be running this place?”
“Well that depends on who you ask,” Hogan quipped, crossing his arms and thinking of the many times he had personally heard Gestapo Major Wolfgang Hochstetter’s declaration that it was the prisoners who had control of the camp—or as he once put it, the inmates who were running the asylum. “Major Hochstetter—”
“Never mind,” the General scowled. “Where is Klink?”
Hogan looked toward the motor pool area. “He’s down there with General Burkhalter and someone from the Propaganda Ministry. They’re waiting for some hot shot General to show up so they can get on with this award ceremony and then watch this thing here go through its paces,” Hogan said, hitching a thumb toward the tank behind him.
The General’s face reddened and his eyes started storming. Hogan pretended not to notice. “I believe I am that ‘hot shot’ General they are waiting for,” he seethed.
“Oh yeah?” Hogan said innocently. Inside, a small thrill of victory loosened the knot that was always present when he was dealing with the Nazis. Though he often appeared to be at ease, almost carefree, when facing them, the truth was he was he was wound tighter than a propeller. The trick was never letting the enemy know that, and sometimes that wasn’t as easy as other times. “Who are you?”
“General Jens Werden is who I am, Colonel,” he said warningly.
Hogan took the hint. Couldn’t afford to be in the cooler, not now—not even for the sake of letting off some of his own frustration and anger. “Oh,” Hogan amended, trying to look apologetic and surprised. “Pardon me, General, of course I’ll take you to the Kommandant.” Then, before he could stop himself, he added, “Would you like one of my men to park your tank for you?”
Werden stopped in his tracks, then obviously decided to say nothing and burst ahead of Hogan when he could see the platform and the people starting to gather around it.
Hogan nodded toward Kinch and Newkirk as he walked up to the small stairs that led to the podium. Schultz could be heard crying “Raus! Raus!” at the stragglers who had yet to make it to the assembly area at the appointed time. Klink was busy making clumsy introductions between the Generals and Oppenheimer. Hogan simply smiled charmingly when Klink tried to introduce him to Werden, saying, “I’ve already had the pleasure, Colonel.” Werden shot Hogan a dirty look but said nothing in response.
Meanwhile Hogan’s men made their way to the front of the platform, some with plain view of the fence, others close to the open area where the tank would be moving. “Look at all those filthy Krauts,” Le Beau spat under his breath. “It must make the Colonel sick just to stand there with them.”
“He doesn’t look really happy, does he?” admitted Kinch.
“He needs to be sleeping, that is what he needs. He needs a doctor and someone to watch over him while he recovers. He is in pain—you can see it—but he has not stopped yet, Kinch,” insisted Le Beau.
“Don’t worry, Louis. You know the Colonel. He’ll stop when he has to.”
“That will be when he falls down.”
Closer to the fence, Carter and Newkirk were scanning the woods, trying not to seem obvious to the guards. “Anything yet, Carter?”
“Not yet, Peter,” Carter answered. “Y’know, I’m not sure how this is supposed to work.”
“We never know exactly, do we?” Newkirk replied. “Colonel Hogan—he always knows. Consider it an adventure, something to break up the monotony,” Newkirk said, shaking his head. “Uh-oh. There’s an adventure we didn’t plan on.” He pointed toward an approaching vehicle. “Better tell the Colonel.”
Newkirk turned and signaled to Kinch, who nudged Le Beau. Le Beau edged toward the platform, where Hogan was carefully distancing himself from the fiasco that was Klink’s charm, and bent down quickly. “What is it?” he asked, wincing slightly at the pull on his chest.
“Hochstetter is coming,” Le Beau whispered.
Hogan quickly stood up and looked around to see the black car pulling in through the gate. “Great,” he muttered. He bent back to Le Beau. “Okay, tell the men the plan is still on. It’s too late to warn Tiger; I’ll just have to play my fiddle a bit faster,” he said in Le Beau’s ear.
And hope Hochstetter likes the tune.
“I didn’t expect to see you here, Major,” Burkhalter said, not bothering to hide his dislike for the Gestapo officer.
“Ja, well, I am in charge of security for General Werden until his
troops head for
Hogan stepped forward. “Good afternoon, Major,” he said cheerfully. “All due respect, but this is where I’m supposed to be, isn’t it? Being a prisoner and all.”
“Quite frankly, Hogan, I suspect that makes very little difference to you.” Hochstetter turned to General Werden as Hogan shrugged. “Herr General, my men will be here shortly to surround this camp and guard your tanks and yourself, sir.”
Werden shook his head impatiently. “Since when does a tank need protection, Hochstetter? This is not the Russian front!” he rebuked.
“Sir, in my experience, anything that comes in contact with Stalag 13 needs special attention,” Hochstetter insisted, staring at Hogan, who purposefully sighed and turned back toward the podium.
“Let us get this show on the road!” Burkhalter said irritably. “Herr Oppenheimer, are you ready to begin?”
“Quite ready, Herr General.”
“Then let’s get this over with.”
The German officers took their seats on the platform as Schultz called the camp to attention. Hogan tried to look comfortable sitting amongst them, but his acting skills were being distracted by other things: mainly, that when Tiger became involved now, the Gestapo was already on hand. He had been counting on a gap between the time she was discovered, and the time one of Hochstetter’s goons showed up.
Oppenheimer signaled that all was
ready, and Burkhalter made his way up to the podium. “Gentlemen. Today I have
been asked to present a special award from
As Burkhalter finished speaking and asked Klink to come forward, Hogan and his men were scanning the fence line. Nothing. Carter shrugged as he looked back from the wooded area, and Kinch subtly shook his head as he shouldered his way back through the crowd. Hogan squinted his eyes to have a good look himself, but also saw nothing. Perhaps Tiger had changed her mind about going along with the plan at the last minute. He was debating whether this was a good thing, after all, when Newkirk caught his eye. The RAF Corporal was stretching hugely, arms over his head, arching his back. Watching him carefully, Hogan noticed the man was gesturing with his head toward a section of woods about fifteen yards from the fence. Hogan nodded almost imperceptibly, and Newkirk’s arms fell back to his sides.
“…has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13,” Klink was saying. “Of course, I am gracious enough to acknowledge that such a record would not exist if not for the men under my command here at the camp. My Sergeant of the Guard Hans Schultz—” Schultz’s chest started to expand with pride, “—may not be the most alert soldier we have ever had—” Schultz’s chest deflated. Hogan shook his head. Figures Klink couldn’t give the poor guy credit for something. “—but I like to think that under my direction he has been able to stop these cowed, broken men from foolishly trying to get out of camp.”
Cowed, broken men, Hogan mocked to himself, not really paying attention to Klink. He was now checking the fence line himself, looking for any indication that Tiger was really there. Part of him was relieved that there wasn’t one. With a touch of self-rebuke, he noted that he had been avoiding getting another agent involved, especially Tiger, and that his reticence could now get in the way of what absolutely needed to be done. You can’t let feelings get in the way. Let her do her job; she knows the risks. Hogan looked over at Kinch, who was edging his way toward Newkirk, then over at Hochstetter, who was impatiently watching the proceedings. But you promised her she’d be safe. Maybe this time you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, Papa Bear.
“…such a marvelous honor. I am truly touched by this recognition, and humbled by the way the Fuhrer has chosen to commemorate…” Klink was still blathering. Hogan rubbed his eyes, tired and hurting. He was relieved when Burkhalter broke in.
“And we are grateful that the Fuhrer has allowed General Jens Werden to demonstrate the newest Panzer tanks today as well,” Burkhalter cut in, standing beside Klink, who looked slightly put off by the abrupt ending to his speech. “Gentlemen,” Burkhalter said, addressing the less-than-impressed prisoners, “you are about to be among the first to witness what will spell the end of the war, in favor of the Third Reich.” There was some shouting from the prisoners, rankling the General and the guests. “I believe, men, that you are aware of the power of the German tanks. Nearly invincible, they say. Nearly perfect, they say. All of this an impotent cry of the Allies in the face of German superiority.” More grumbling. “Well, the nearly invincible, the nearly perfect, has been made even better. With increased maneuverability and an even better weapon range, these tanks are going to be death to all those who oppose us. Look well, gentlemen; this is the future.”
Hogan swallowed the bad taste rising in his throat and saw many of his men seeming to do the same, as their sour faces reflected back at the German brass on the platform. He looked at Le Beau, who seemed about to break into tears. Damn the Germans, he thought. We’ll find a way to stop it, Louis.
Burkhalter introduced General Werden, who made a few terse comments to the prisoners gathered before him, saying very little about the tanks themselves, and offering only a pasted smile to Oppenheimer when he asked for the two Generals to pose together shaking hands, joined by Klink, who refused to move out of the camera shot by trying to organize the photo shoot.
All of this was quickly brought to an end, much to everyone’s relief on both sides of the war, and Werden signaled to the soldier whose head was sticking out of the tank nearby. The soldier disappeared and the tank suddenly roared back to life. Hogan watched as the gun turret was raised quickly, and, to his surprise, the tank seemed to turn on a dime toward the assembly and then away. A maneuver like that would have, in the past, taken much more space and much more time. Hogan felt that tightening in his stomach again. But this time it had nothing to do with his personal fears. This time it was a fear that the Allies were in for more than they could handle.
Werden started explaining to Burkhalter that the new Panzer had a special component installed underneath it that allowed it to be lifted up and spun around at a much faster pace than any normal machine. This would mean the tank would be less vulnerable to attacks from the rear or the right flank, where it tended to be blind in spots and required protection from other tanks. And it would mean faster focus on enemy targets, making the Allies more susceptible to losses.
Hogan was trying to listen over the roar of the equipment and transform the information as quickly as possible into a plan of counter attack. It was clear to him that to disable the tanks, they were going to have to get underneath them. But how were they to manage that? He looked back toward his men. Many of them were standing, hands in pockets, heads down. They were seeing this as a defeat already, Hogan knew. It was hard enough to be away from the fighting, to know that some of your friends, even your brothers, were out there risking their lives every day; to see something that was bound to make it easier for one of those dear ones to be killed was a kind of torture that Hogan knew was harsher than most physical punishments. They had to fight back.
As the tank finally shut down and Werden looked smugly at him, Hogan yawned, a gesture that turned the look of triumph on the German’s face into a scowl. “What’s the matter, Hogan? Does this little demonstration bore you?” Werden asked bitterly.
“Not at all, General,” Hogan answered, loudly enough for his men to hear. “I find it quite interesting that the Germans have to keep working on tank improvements. Must mean that somewhere things aren’t going entirely well for them.” Hogan smiled benignly.
“The improvements are merely the sign of a superior race constantly looking for perfection,” Werden said. Were his teeth starting to clench? Hogan wondered.
“A search they’ll be on for a
long time,” Hogan retorted. “Can’t think of anything less perfect than a world
run by a Corporal with an over-inflated opinion of himself. Of course, this
could just be a sign that things are getting a little bit chillier in
Hogan heard the snickers from the prisoners gathered nearby and mentally ticked off a small victory as some of the lowered heads raised up in defiance and triumph. That’s one for the good guys, he thought. He took every opportunity he could to harass and irritate the Germans, especially in view of his men; it was necessary in order to preserve a bit of their sanity, and a bit of their morale.
It was Klink himself who burst in to stop what he could see was going to be an ugly exchange. “Gentlemen, I think our Herr Oppenheimer would like to have a closer look at the new Panzer. And perhaps you’d like some more pictures?” he asked. “Perhaps one of me in front of the tank?”
“Only if it is moving, Klink,” Burkhalter said.
Klink laughed nervously. “Ah, the General has such a fine sense of humor!” he chattered.
Hogan smiled to himself. Though he disliked Burkhalter immensely, he had to admit the man’s sarcasm was hard to match when it came to putting down Stalag 13’s Kommandant.
A scuffle near the fence drew Hogan’s attention. Carter was kneeling down, facing the wires, with Newkirk hovering over him. He stood up and looked at the commotion. “Don’t, Andrew!” he heard Newkirk saying. “Everyone will see!”
Hochstetter bolted for the pair. Hogan stood up and watched. “What is this? What are you doing near the fence?” Hochstetter asked, waving his men into position. Two of them immediately followed him to Newkirk and Carter.
“Oh, uh—nothing, Major. Nothing,” Newkirk said, swallowing hard. “Um—we just saw a bird, a—uh—a rare bird.”
“You are bird watching in a POW camp?” Hochstetter raved. “Why do you not want everyone to see?”
Klink and Burkhalter approached, and Hogan hopped off the platform and joined them. “Well, you don’t want just anyone looking, Major,” Carter stammered. “He’s afraid too many people would scare it off!” Hogan rolled his eyes.
“Where is this bird?” Burkhalter asked.
“Well, it was there on the road before, but you’ve gone and frightened it away now,” Carter said, gesturing toward a patch of ground near the road. “It’s run farther into the woods.”
Hochstetter, Burkhalter, and Klink all peered closely through the wire. “I don’t see anything,” Klink said. Hogan looked at Carter and Newkirk, who shrugged and pointed to a darkened area. Hogan could just make out the outline of Tiger.
“Aw, you’re not looking hard enough,” Hogan chided, coming up beside Hochstetter. “Look!” he said, pointing straight at Tiger. He wished she could see his eyes, wished he could tell her that somehow it would all work out okay. But he could not, and so he simply continued. “Look, it’s there… no, it’s—hey!”
“Hey? Hey, what?” Burkhalter asked, turning to the American.
“Oh, uh—nothing,” Hogan said, straightening up and turning away from the fence.
“What is it, Hogan?” Klink asked, trying to sound threatening. “What are you hiding?”
“I’m not hiding anything; you guys are the ones with all the military secrets, right?” Hogan refused to turn back.
“There!” Hochstetter suddenly cried. Hogan tensed. “There—there is a woman out there! Get her!” he called to his guards. “Stop, fraulein! Stop, or we will shoot!” he cried, drawing his gun. Hogan whirled back at the sound of the pistol being primed. The guards burst away and signaled to the others standing near the gate, who ran quickly toward Tiger’s hiding spot. Hogan clenched and unclenched his fists, unable to keep himself from watching as two guards grabbed Tiger when she attempted to pull away, and practically dragged her back toward the camp. “Bring her inside,” Hochstetter growled.
Hogan looked at Tiger’s pale face and trembling figure, and closed his eyes.
“I thought you said you saw a bird!” Klink said.
Newkirk shrugged, then answered in his most Cockney voice, “Well, that’s a rare bird if I ever saw one.”
Klink’s Brilliant Plan
“What is your name?”
Hogan stood in the background in Klink’s office as Hochstetter started questioning Tiger, using all his strength not to step in and pull her away from this small but dangerous man. “I don’t think she’s ready to answer any questions, Major,” he said.
Ignoring him, Hochstetter asked, “What were you doing out in the woods, fraulein?”
“Major, she doesn’t look like she’s about to open up any time soon,” Hogan added. He looked at her, leaning over in her chair, her clothes dirty and torn, her face streaked with dirt, hugging her body, looking at no one, and shaking.
“Why were you out there today? Who are you?” Hochstetter asked more forcefully, bending in close to her ear. Tiger just rubbed her arms.
“Gee, sir, is that any way to treat a lady?” Hogan asked.
Hochstetter slammed a glove down on the desk near Tiger’s face. She flinched. “I want answers, fraulein!” he bellowed.
Hogan pulled away from the wall and moved toward Hochstetter. “I don’t think she’s deaf, Major,” he said. “I think she just wants to clean up and be spoken to nicely.” He stepped forward and put himself in front of Tiger, looking into her eyes. “No one here will hurt you, I promise,” he said to her. Tiger’s eyes softened as she silently acknowledged Hogan’s reminder of his earlier vow. “Not even Major Hochstetter. He might seem like a monster, but he’s really just doing his job—”
“What is this man doing here?” Hochstetter finally roared. He pushed Hogan out of the way. Looking affronted, Hogan pulled back. But now Tiger’s eyes remained on him. He tried to settle back into nonchalance, but it was hard now, with his chest aching and his nerves on edge. Still, he managed a faint smile, with just a touch of cockiness in his expression, to comfort her.
Hochstetter placed his hands on either arm of the chair and pushed his face within inches of Tiger’s. Hogan frowned and Tiger lowered her head. “Fraulein,” Hochstetter said quietly, almost sweetly, something that worried Hogan even more than his shouting, “Colonel Hogan is right. It is not my job to hurt you; it is my job to make sure that the security of our troops is not compromised. Now, if you can simply tell me why you were lurking around the woods near a prisoner of war camp, perhaps we can finish this matter altogether.”
Tiger glanced at Hogan, who made no protest, and said her first words. “I did not think it was against the law to walk in the woods. There are no fences around them,” she said in a low voice.
Hochstetter immediately pounced. “Your accent—you are French!”
“Very good, Major,” Hogan applauded. “I’ll bet you can tell my nationality, too.” He tried a boyish grin to keep Hochstetter off-balance. Tiger could only watch him in action with some amazement. A man in his condition, a man in such a situation, playing like a cat with a mouse—with a member of the Gestapo! Ah, perhaps you can do something about these tanks after all, she mused.
“Klink! Get this man out of here!” Hochstetter demanded. He turned back to Tiger as Klink said nothing, and instead gave Hogan a dirty look. “Mademoiselle, you are in Nazi Germany,” Hochstetter said, again all sweetness. “Are you aware of that?”
“It’s hard not to be—all those big flags, all that saluting,” Hogan quipped.
“What is this man doing here?” Hochstetter exploded.
“Hogan, return to your barracks until you are required,” Klink said.
“Oh, sir, that’s not fair!” Hogan protested. “You want to leave me out of all your grand plans.”
“Plans? For what?” Klink asked.
“‘For what?’” Hogan echoed, sounding incredulous. “Oh, you’re a sly one, sir. Waiting until I leave to tell Major Hochstetter your brilliant plan to use this woman to keep the French subdued. I should have known, sir—nobody tells me anything.” Hogan turned with a sigh.
“Wait a minute, Hogan,” Hochstetter said. Hogan paused and turned back to the officers. “Klink, what is this plan?”
“Yes, Hogan, what is this plan?” Klink asked quickly. Hochstetter looked at him severely. “Hogan says it so much better than I,” he added.
“Well, rumor has it that these tanks are supposed to be heading into Paris, right?” Hogan began. Hochstetter gave a start when Hogan mentioned secret maneuvers, but then simply nodded. “So what better way to convince the stubborn French that it’s best for them to stay in line than to have a poster girl of their own to lead the way?”
“A ‘poster girl’?” Hochstetter asked.
“Well, sure!” Hogan said. “You take a pretty girl—she’d probably scrub up nicely,” he said, gesturing casually toward Tiger, “then you stick her in a tank, take a few photos, get her smiling and enjoying herself, show them to the French people and voila, instant submission. I know I’d submit if I had a chance to be with her long enough.” Hogan grinned at the Germans, purposefully avoiding Tiger’s eyes, which he had seen flare when he started talking about keeping her countrymen submissive to the Nazis.
“Hogan, that is ludicrous,” Klink said dismissively. “Pictures of one woman aren’t going to stop the French from being stubborn.”
But Hochstetter was deep in thought. “You know, Hogan, I think you may have something there,” he said.
“That’s what I said, Hogan, you may have something there,” Klink amended.
Hogan tried hard not to laugh. Ah, the old Klink flip-flop. “Oh, Colonel Klink has a brilliant plan, sir. Get Herr Oppenheimer to have her all dolled up, posing on the tank, hopping in and out, gaily posturing for the Third Reich—why, any Frenchman would go mad looking at her, and the thought of spending the Thousand Year Reich with someone like her would be much less disagreeable than spending it with someone like Goering.”
Hochstetter grimaced at the visual comparison. “Of course; that is right,” he admitted. He came out of his private thoughts. “Very well, this will be done. Klink, get Herr Oppenheimer in here.”
Klink called out for Schultz, who immediately entered the room. “Schultz, go find Herr Oppenheimer, and tell him we have an assignment for him.”
“Jawohl, Herr Kommandant,” said the Sergeant, having a long look at Tiger. “Herr Kommandant, what is to become of the girl?” he asked.
“Why don’t you see if you can find some nice clothes for her, Schultz?” Hogan suggested. “Then she can get cleaned up and something to eat and…” He trailed off as he noticed Schultz’s confused look.
“Never mind, Schultz; just do as he says!” Klink bellowed.
“Jawohl, Herr Kommandant,” Schultz muttered, shaking his head. “Clothes for a girl in a POW camp?”
As the door closed behind him, Hochstetter turned back to Tiger. “Now, my dear, there are some things we need to learn about you. What is your name?”
Tiger looked quickly at Hogan, then back to Hochstetter. “Juliet,” she said simply.
“Ah, how lovely!” Klink exclaimed. Hogan looked up at the ceiling.
Hochstetter turned to the Kommandant. “Quiet, Klink,” he scowled. Then his eyes returned to Tiger’s face. “And what were you doing out there today, my dear?” he asked.
Hogan felt nauseous at Hochstetter’s attempt at sweetness. “Maybe she’d like her lawyer present before she answers any more questions,” he quipped. Hogan watched Hochstetter’s hands shake and his face suddenly go red and thought the time was right to end this. “Listen, she’ll probably feel more like talking when she’s not sitting here in dirty clothes surrounded by men she doesn’t know, who can take her away and have her shot. Kommandant, why don’t we put her in Barracks Four—”
“We?” Hochstetter repeated, incredulous.
“Sure,” Hogan said, ignoring Hochstetter’s real meaning; “it’s empty. Then she can get cleaned up, and have some privacy, come to the dinner tonight, and then by tomorrow she’ll be ready to go, right?” He looked at Tiger, offering her a hopeful smile.
Tiger nodded, tentatively.
“There; see? You just have to know how to treat a woman.” He came up beside the chair and offered his arm. Tiger stood up shyly and took it. “I’ll escort her to the Barracks, Kommandant. Tell Schultz to meet us there.”
And, flabbergasted, the German officers let them leave the office. It wasn’t until they were already out of the building that Hogan heard Hochstetter explode.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Are you all right?” Hogan asked Tiger, as the pair crossed the compound to Barracks Four.
“Oui, I am fine. But you are not well,” Tiger said in a whisper. She looked at the stream of sweat pouring down Hogan’s face with concern.
Hogan reached up to rub his eyes and then to try and calm his throbbing chest wound. “I’ll deal with that later,” he said, trying to sound dismissive, but not quite succeeding. “Right now we’ve got bigger things to deal with.” He glanced over his shoulder to see Hochstetter approaching, with Klink racing to keep up. “We didn’t expect Hochstetter to be here so quickly. Play along with me. We’ve got a tunnel into this building now; we’ll be in later to check up on you. Don’t worry. Okay?”
“D’accord. I trust you,” she said.
Hogan paused. That was the second time she had told him that. He didn’t know if he was worthy of it. “Let’s hope you’re not foolish in that trust.”
“I am not,” she said, certain. Hochstetter was nearly upon them. “You must go. Colonel Hogan—please, see your Sergeant Wilson. You cannot help if you are unwell.”
“You’d be amazed at what I can do,” he replied. But the look in her eyes stopped him yet again. “Okay, I’ll go.”
She squeezed his wrist and entered the Barracks as he opened the door for her. Then he turned and walked away.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Thank goodness we’ve got that tunnel up to Barracks Four now,” Carter said, as Hogan relayed the details to them. The ceremony had been broken up when Tiger was discovered and brought into the camp, and the men were eventually allowed to go back to their huts. They had scrambled to listen on the coffee pot listening device they had planted in Klink’s office, but they had missed some of the conversation, and then missed even more thanks to everyone talking at once.
“Hold still, Colonel,”
“Fine, fine,” Hogan said through his teeth. “But I’ve got work to do, so let’s get this over with.” He opened his eyes and looked at his men. “We’ll have to check up on Tiger later today. And we’ve got to sell Oppenheimer on the idea of a photo shoot. He’s probably got orders to go back first thing in the morning when the tanks leave.”
“Won’t Hochstetter make sure that happens?” Kinch asked.
“Probably, but a little insurance policy doesn’t hurt,” Hogan said. Another quick wince. “We have to keep the good points in front of him. Who’s going to be our photography expert?”
“I will, Colonel,” Le Beau piped up.
“Excellent,” Hogan said. “You’ve just volunteered to be a consultant. And we have to make sure Tiger gets that little camera Carter developed. But we can’t give it to her too early or it might be discovered. We’ll get it to her after the dinner, when she’s finished being paraded to the Nazis.”
“Right, Colonel,” Newkirk affirmed.
“Carter, you and Kinch will need to make sure we get near the tanks parked outside, for a little… creative redesigning.”
“No problem, Colonel,” Carter said. “I’ve got just the stuff. Nice and small to fit around the equipment, but so powerful it’ll knock their socks—” Newkirk shoved Carter’s arm to stop him rambling again.
“And I,” said Hogan, ignoring all
this and lying down as
The World Loves a Lover
Hogan turned toward the door as he heard Klink raising his voice in welcome. Schultz, trying to look his most dapper, was escorting Tiger into Klink’s quarters, and, with a click of his heels and the slightest bow, grinned like a teenager on his first date as she smiled shyly back at him. Ah, Tiger, you always did know how to turn a guy’s head, Hogan thought.
Hogan grabbed a drink from a passing tray to add to his own and approached Tiger as Schultz reluctantly released her. “Good evening, Mademoiselle,” he said cheerfully, handing her a glass.
“Good evening,” Tiger responded.
“Hogan, you have no reason to associate with the lady,” Klink simpered, turning an overly bright smile toward Tiger, who lowered her head and looked away.
“Oh, that’s a fine thing to say, Kommandant,” Hogan retorted. “After all, we’re both prisoners here; you’re the free one. Leave us to our misery.”
Klink “harrumphed” and was about to respond when the sound of the door made him turn again. Hogan glanced over and saw General Werden entering the room, followed directly by Hochstetter. Hogan drew himself and Tiger further into the room and away from the others. “Everything okay?” he asked under his breath, taking a sip of his drink to hide his words.
Tiger nodded very slightly. “Corporal Newkirk came to me earlier and explained everything,” she said.
“Good,” Hogan answered. “We’ll be with you as often as we can. Just play along. But don’t take any chances.”
Tiger nodded, then the pair parted slightly as Hochstetter approached them. “Colonel Hogan, I see you are monopolizing the lady’s attention,” he said.
“Well, they say French ladies have taste, right?” Hogan said with a light laugh. Newkirk slid by with a tray of drinks. Hogan reached out to stop him. “Drink, Major?” he offered.
Newkirk presented the tray. “We have a very fine selection tonight, Major,” he said. “Though unfortunately, it is a German wine. I understand French wine is so much nicer. Is that right, Mademoiselle?” he asked. Hogan smiled. Any chance to upset Hochstetter was a moment well spent, he believed. Newkirk slipped away, the tray untouched.
Tiger merely smiled graciously. Hochstetter growled and bared his teeth but did not take the bait. Instead he said, “I see Sergeant Schultz was able to turn you into a lady.” He nodded approval at the simple dress she was wearing. Hogan noted that the dress was one that he had seen Klink’s secretary, Helga, wear in the past, and that Tiger’s hair was neatly combed, with even the slightest touch of make up on her face. It was charming, and the first time he had seen her looking so feminine, he realized with a small, unexpected thrill. The feeling was short-lived, as he realized this also appealed to Hochstetter, which made him nauseous.
“That guy from
“I am sure our dear Juliet will do very well, Hogan.” Hochstetter looked around to find General Werden being bailed up in a corner by a practically dribbling Klink. “Excuse me,” he said with surprising politeness, and he went to rescue the officer.
Hogan and Tiger turned away. “All this decorum is making me sick to my stomach,” Hogan mumbled.
“At least the German men are gentlemanly enough to compliment a lady on her attire,” Tiger teased gently.
Hogan tried to look hurt and then fixed her with a long stare. “You look just fine, Juliet,” he said. “Any man in the room would be proud to be your Romeo.” Time for lightness over, Hogan grew serious. “Le Beau and Newkirk are going to make sure everyone here gets nicely soused and well distracted, while Carter and Kinch are going to handle the tanks—both the ones outside the wires and the one inside. Later on, well get you the camera you need.”
“Oui,” Tiger answered. “Corporal Newkirk explained.”
Hogan shrugged. “Looks like I’m superfluous,” he sighed. “I could have taken a longer nap.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Come on, Andrew; let’s get moving!”
“I just want to make sure I have everything we need. You know what the Colonel says, Kinch: Haste makes waste. Although, you know, I’m not sure he’s the first one to say that. I think my Uncle Ralph used to say that when I was a kid. But you know, he might have met Colonel Hogan some time back then, before he was Colonel Hogan, and maybe the Colonel said it to him, and he liked it and started saying it himself—”
“Carter!” Kinch shook his head as he grabbed an armful of explosives from the babbling demolitions expert. “You’re wasting. Try hasting.”
Carter thought about that for a second, then nodded and followed the radioman up the ladder and out of the camp.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“I think that the lady should have some German soldiers around her for effect,” Klink was proposing. “Laughing gaily, drinking some Riesling perhaps, making jokes.”
Oppenheimer was shaking his head. “You cannot see jokes in a photograph, Herr Kommandant,” he replied.
“Klink is not very good about grasping the obvious,” Burkhalter laughed, taking another drink from the tray Newkirk offered. “Hogan!” he called, seeing the senior POW hanging back on the outer fringes of the room. “Hogan, come and join us!”
Hogan came closer to the German officer. He had been trying to keep watch, to see just how much alcohol was being consumed, and once or twice he had headed out to the kitchen to soothe the ragged nerves of Le Beau. The Frenchman was still tempted to put something unfortunate in the evening meal, but Hogan again explained to him that while it was an idea to admire, it was not going to further their plans tonight. Never comfortable in Burkhalter’s presence, Hogan nonetheless came forward with a happy-go-lucky smile on his face. When Burkhalter had had too much to drink, nationality didn’t matter; everyone was entitled to enjoy himself.
“Why are you not enjoying the company of this lovely fraulein, Hogan?” Burkhalter asked, trying to twirl Tiger in front of the American, but succeeding only in pushing her clumsily. Hogan felt his insides twist as Tiger tried to keep her footing, reaching out with a gasp. He took hold of her arm and stopped her from falling flat on her face, her eyes betraying her anxiety in this room full of dangerous men.
“I think the General is enjoying her quite enough for both of us,” Hogan said, not letting her go.
“Nonsense!” Burkhalter insisted. “This young lady is eminently suitable for a fine-looking officer like yourself,” he said. “Look at the two of you standing there arm in arm. If only Gertrude could find an honorable man like you!” He fixed a wide smile on them, then the smile disappeared as he turned to the Kommandant. “Unfortunately, she seems to have her heart set on Colonel Klink.”
“We can’t all be as lucky as the Kommandant,” Hogan said, never breaking his pleasant demeanor. Well, at least Burkhalter’s drunk, if he’s trying to set me up with Tiger.
“Herr General,” Hochstetter broke in, as Burkhalter tried to push Hogan and Tiger into a waltz with the music playing in the background, “we need to talk about the arrangements to take the fraulein into Hammelburg for questioning.”
“Major, Major—there is time for that later; the night is young, there is a full moon fit for lovers out tonight!” Burkhalter mused loudly.
Hogan danced Tiger away as the two officers debated the full moon’s usefulness for romance or interrogation. Don’t remind me about the full moon. It’s the last thing we want tonight. Where are the clouds?
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Are you done, Kinch?” whispered Carter, sliding out from underneath one of the Panzers parked outside the camp.
“Nearly,” Kinch replied, grunting with the effort. He strained to see the delicate wiring that Carter had designed for these tiny but powerful explosives. His hands shaking slightly from the immensely detailed work, he was concentrating on making sure not a single piece was out of place, and that everything was positioned in a spot to cause maximum damage to these monstrous vehicles.
Inside, his mind was racing; he had never imagined when he joined the US Army Air Corps that he would end up sabotaging a German tank. But then, nothing had gone to plan since he came to Stalag 13, if, indeed, there was ever a plan to have when one was a prisoner of war. Kinch thought of Colonel Hogan, having drinks and dinner up in Klink’s warm quarters, and briefly felt a pang of jealousy at the more comfortable assignment the officer had. But as he slipped the last charge into place around the device responsible for the fancy maneuvers the prisoners had witnessed earlier today, he snorted to himself. More comfortable? Maybe Hogan wasn’t lying on his back in the cold under tons of enemy weaponry, but he sure couldn’t enjoy having to conspire in a roomful of enemy officers, all the while taking responsibility for an operation that most people could only dream of—if they knew about it at all. He couldn’t like playing along with people like General Burkhalter, who had brought him into the camp in the first place, handcuffed and ill-treated. He couldn’t like thinking that at any time, if his plans weren’t up to snuff, any number of men could be killed—and, ultimately, it would be on Hogan’s head, as their commanding officer, the person whom they followed without question. And tonight, while still suffering from a horrific injury he had to endure in secret, he not only had his own men to worry about; he had Tiger to contend with as well. But putting things on hold wasn’t an option; it never was for Hogan. Kinch shook his head unconsciously. I’d rather be out here. There’s no way I’d want to be the Papa Bear.
He finished his handiwork and slid silently out to Carter, who was pointing toward the last of the five tanks. Carter made an “OK” signal with his fingers, and Kinch nodded. Carter slipped underneath the massive machine, while Kinch kept watch. One left after this, he thought, looking into the camp, where the tank used in the day’s demonstration stood with two guards pacing back and forth around it. The hardest one of all. I hope the Colonel’s having success in there.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“I’m afraid I really have to take my leave,” Hogan was saying over the din. Dinner had been a success, with Le Beau even making an appearance from the kitchen to personally receive the accolades of the Germans. Hogan noticed the muscles standing out on the Frenchman’s neck as he struggled not to say anything to Werden, whose compliment of “Very fine work; it seems the French are not without some positive traits,” burned through him.
“Merci,” Le Beau responded through gritted teeth. Tiger smiled sympathetically as Le Beau turned quickly away, crushing the white chef’s hat he was holding in his hands.
Hogan himself was feeling a burning sensation as well, but he couldn’t figure out the cause: empathy for the humiliation Le Beau was feeling; anger at the audacity of the German officers to enjoy a fine meal at the expense of himself and his men; or simply the burning he continued to experience in his chest as his wound tried desperately to heal in spite of Hogan’s continued activity. He put it down to a mix of the fear he always fought when in the presence of Burkhalter and Hochstetter, and anxiety for the safety of his men outside.
“Hogan, Hogan, you Americans are such party poopers!” Burkhalter wagged his finger at the Colonel. “Why, it’s hardly bedtime for small children!”
“Begging the General’s pardon, but it’s nearly ,” Hogan said, trying not to lose his lightness. “All good little Colonels are in bed now. And besides, I’m a prisoner, remember?”
“Ah, not tonight, Colonel Hogan,” Burkhalter said again, and, having consumed more than his share of wine during dinner, thanks to Newkirk’s constant and unobtrusive refilling of glasses, he returned to his theme of young lovers. “Tonight, you are merely a young man with a beautiful lady on his arm.” He tried to reach for Tiger, who was standing a few feet away near Newkirk; Hogan side-stepped Burkhalter and reached her first, pulling her to his side. “Ah, now that is a lovely picture,” Burkhalter said admiringly. “Oppenheimer! Oppenheimer! Where is that man and his camera—”
Hogan gave a quick, reassuring glance to Tiger, then looked questioningly at Newkirk, who nodded in the direction of the back room. Hogan nodded. One German down, five to go.
“Ah, that’s too bad!” he heard Burkhalter saying as he reappeared from Klink’s private rooms. He came up to Hogan and Tiger. “Oppenheimer is asleep,” he said. “I think he could not handle his wine! He must have American blood in him.” He laughed at his own joke.
“Makes you wonder what Propaganda Minister Goebbels would say, huh?” Hogan said, referring to Oppenheimer’s ultimate boss. “Imagine him hiring a half-breed!” He laughed loudly. Tiger tried hard to suppress a grin; Newkirk didn’t bother to hide his.
Burkhalter suddenly grew wide-eyed. “Did I suggest such a thing?” he asked, unable to recall.
“Oh, the General certainly did say words to that effect,” Klink put in from a few feet away.
Hogan quietly watched the tumultuous effect his words were having. What a fine way to gauge their absolute drunkenness, he thought. Watching them destroy each other’s credibility.
“I heard it myshelf,” Schultz
slurred, unsolicited. He approached the officers. “He shed that Herr Oppenheimer must be an Aremican—am
Anerican—a Mericanan—from the
“I think they’re questioning your loyalties, General,” Hogan said, to add fuel to the fire.
“My loyalties?” Burkhalter echoed, his voice getting louder. “My loyalties are with the Fuhrer! If anyone’s loyalties should be questioned, it’s your beloved Kommandant!”
“How can you question the loyalties of a man being decorated for maintaining a perfect No Escape record?” Werden declared belligerently.
Hogan stepped back with Tiger as the fur started flying. Klink’s protests, Burkhalter’s insistence that there always seemed to be funny business going on around the vicinity of Stalag 13, even Hochstetter’s loud input trying to calm the storm. He’s not drunk, Hogan realized, studying Hochstetter. I don’t think I’ve even seen him with a glass in his hand all night. And he’s the one most likely to cause trouble. It was time for him to speak up.
“Gentlemen,” Hogan said, trying to make himself heard. “Gentlemen!” A ripple in his chest pulled him up short; any pain relief he had taken earlier in the evening had well worn off by now. Tiger felt Hogan’s grip on her arm momentarily tighten, and watched as he almost physically pushed away his discomfort. The room fell into silence. Hogan swallowed hard and spoke up. “This is no conversation for a lady to be exposed to. I’m going to take her back to Barracks Four. And I respectfully suggest that you all turn in for the night, until you’re better able to contain yourselves.”
Thus put in their place, the officers allowed Hogan and Tiger to leave, with Schultz staggering carefully behind them. Hogan said nothing to Tiger until they reached her hut. “Hold on tight,” he said. “The real party is about to begin.”
By The Light Of The Moon
Hogan shut the door to Barracks Two behind him and immediately stopped and closed his eyes. Gotta get past this, he said to himself, trying to control his breathing and, through it, his pain. We’re not done yet. He opened his eyes and looked around. The four bunks he knew whether waking or sleeping were empty. Two of them because the men were still with the Germans; the other two because they were out on the job. He hoped.
Hogan walked to the stove and picked up the kettle. The stale aroma of hours-old brew met his senses, but he started pouring anyway. He stopped suddenly as his upper chest protested the usually easy work of holding a cup. He quickly put down the kettle, swapped the cup to his right hand and took a sip, grimacing at the bitterness. Restless, he headed for his quarters, where he opened the window and looked out over the compound. Where are they? he wondered. Worried and yet thankful that he could not see Kinch or Carter near the tank inside the camp, he shut the window, shivering, and turned away.
He glanced longingly at his bunk. “I wish,” he said aloud to his mattress. His chest and ribs hurt like hell, and his eyes were sensitive to the light in his room, reminding him his head wasn’t in top shape either. “Now we’ve got medicine and I haven’t got time to take it,” he muttered ironically. He put the cup on his desk as he sat down carefully. I’ll just take a minute, he thought, his aching mind nonetheless resisting the idea of focusing on something other than the mission at hand. In the end, his sense of duty won, and he stood up, unable to stay still for long and yet at pains to stay on the move. Gotta make sure the guys are able to get to that Panzer.
Hogan headed back outside, the voices from Klink’s quarters still mixing with music faintly in the background. Looking around carefully, Hogan made his way through the shadows toward the building closest to the tank. I don’t even know if they’re back in camp yet, he thought, straining to see ahead of him. Great moon for a bombing raid, he realized, glancing at the sky, but not very helpful for sabotage. Hogan froze as he sensed the slightest movement at the next building. Pressing himself up against the hut, he squinted to see if it was friend or foe nearby. He hadn’t actually seen Schultz go back into the guards’ quarters, and it wouldn’t be the first time Hogan had found the Sergeant asleep—or drunk—outside at a most inauspicious hour of the night. Hogan could make out nothing. He wouldn’t be able to miss Schultz, he thought, and there didn’t seem to be any armed guards; it must have been his imagination.
Convinced his mind had played a trick on him, Hogan decided to move to the next building. Supporting his throbbing ribs, he flowed from one hut to the next, nearly jumping out of his skin as he sensed that movement again, this time right on top of him. A hand touched his shoulder and he spun around, only to see Kinch putting a finger to his lips and indicating that Carter was beside him. Hogan nodded, and in the dimness silently asked Kinch for details. Kinch gave a thumbs-up as he pointed to the fence, then shook his head as his finger aimed at the Panzer standing a few yards away. Carter was glancing back and forth between Hogan and the tank, and held up a set of explosives ready to use, for Hogan to see. Hogan nodded again, held up a finger to indicate the others should follow his lead, and, steeling himself, straightened and headed out into the moonlight.
“Anschlag!” came a voice almost instantly, accompanied by the sound of a rifle being prepared to fire. “Halt!”
Hogan immediately raised his arms in surrender. Uhnn, that was dumb, he thought, as pain raced from his chest through to his left fingertips. He tried to take a deep breath, but that was a mistake his ribs weren’t very forgiving about, and he bit his lip hard to avoid groaning aloud. What the hell are you doing, Hogan? he thought, his head swimming. He lowered his arms but left them spread out away from his body. “I was just out for a stroll,” he protested, looking around to see if he had the guards’ undivided attention.
“Sie werden von hier verschwinden. Sofort.”
Hogan didn’t need that translated; the threat was in the weapon that shone in the moonlight. Keeping his hands in full view, he edged slowly in the direction of Klink’s quarters, making sure the two guards were turning with him, and therefore away from the building in whose shadows Kinch and Carter had hidden. His eyes darted back and forth until he spied the pair dashing over to the tank behind the guards, unseen and unheard. Then he started his patter.
“I was over at the party tonight, you know,” he said, as beads of perspiration started appearing on his forehead. “It was just too exciting, and I had to clear my head before going to sleep. You know what happens when you have a bit too much to drink….” The sweat stung his eyes as it made its way down his face. “Hey, speaking of which,” he said, not giving up, since he hadn’t seen Kinch or Carter yet emerge, “why didn’t you guys get any credit for any of this? I mean, we’d have at least given you a drink if it had been up to us,” he said, stalling for time.
The guards remained silent, menacing, and slightly uncertain about the ramblings of this American prisoner who was speaking a language they only vaguely had any grasp of. Hogan was beginning to lose hope, along with his strength, when a loud cry from behind him interrupted.
“What is this man doing here?”
Swell, Hogan thought. If it isn’t my best friend, Hochstetter.
“I thought you were going to bed, Colonel Hogan,” Hochstetter greeted, standing beside the senior POW. The guards lowered their rifles; Hogan gratefully dropped his arms by his sides.
“Well, I was, but I got here and realized I couldn’t sleep. Must be something about all that rich food. Oh, and the music. And the wine. Did you try the wine, Major?” Hogan asked hopefully.
“I never drink when there is work to be done,” Hochstetter said impatiently. “Unlike that Herr Oppenheimer,” he nearly spat. “You are awfully close to this tank, Colonel Hogan. Don’t you know that is verboten, even for you?”
“Oh, of course, Major,” Hogan said apologetically. “I was just distracted by the idea of Juliet.” He tried to look love-struck. “She was beautiful.”
“Of course you were distracted by a beautiful lady, Hogan,” came another voice. “Any young man who is not blind would be dreaming about that beautiful fraulein.”
Burkhalter. Here we go again, Hogan thought. He turned to see the General stumbling toward them, with Klink close at his heels.
Under the tank, Kinch and Carter froze momentarily. This was getting too crowded for comfort.
Hogan thought of the pair hidden under the German war machine and tried to move the Germans away from the area. “This is turning into a real party!” he said, trying to sound hearty. “I thought you’d have all still been enjoying the music! Why don’t you all head back and—”
“Alas, Hogan,” interrupted Burkhalter, coming forward to put his arm heavily around Hogan’s shoulders. Hogan winced as the overpowering smell of alcohol wafted across to him, and the General’s embrace antagonized his injuries. “With the lovely Juliet no longer in our midst, it was disappointing to stay in the company of these gentlemen,” Burkhalter said. Then, suddenly quite deadpan, he added, “They would not look nearly as attractive in a dress, not even if I were completely drunk.” Then he laughed at his outrageous observation.
Klink laughed with him. “That’s very good, General!” he said with exaggerated cheerfulness.
“You’re right; I don’t think the Kommandant would have the knees for it,” Hogan said through gritted teeth, peeling Burkhalter off of him and trying to catch his breath.
Kinch let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and continued working, once again conscious of his amazement at Hogan’s ability to play any hand he was dealt with seeming offhanded ease.
Burkhalter cackled again. “You should be with the young lady, Hogan,” he said. “You were too much of a gentleman when you left the party. You should have used the time you had alone with her!”
Hogan felt sick for about the fourth time that night. He hated the thought that any of these men were having ideas about Tiger. “Ah, well, the General certainly has a way with women I’m afraid I lack, sir,” he tried to laugh.
“Hogan, you flatter me.” Burkhalter nodded sagely. “But you have always been good at spinning a tall tale.” He broke into a smile. “But this time, Hogan, I like the way you are thinking!” And he laughed again. Hogan and Klink joined in; Hochstetter scowled.
“Herr General, Colonel Hogan should not be here! And begging your pardon, sir, but I do not think it is wise to encourage him to be with the girl. She is obviously part of a French resistance force—” Hochstetter tried.
“Bah!” Burkhalter dismissed the Gestapo officer’s protest. “Tonight, Hochstetter, she is simply a beautiful woman. And Hogan has wasted his chance.”
“Afraid I’ve been out of circulation too long, sir,” Hogan quipped, with overwhelming relief seeing Carter and Kinch flit back to the safety of the shadows. “Well, it’s late, and Major Hochstetter’s right, I really should be in bed, so…I’ll just bid you gentlemen good night.”
Hogan threw out a sloppy salute and headed back to the barracks, Burkhalter’s offer of giving him lessons in wooing the fairer sex echoing nauseatingly in his ears.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Everything’s in place, Colonel,” Kinch reported. “The charges are wrapped around that new device underneath the tanks, and they’re so small it will seem more like they melted than that they were tampered with.”
“That’s right,” Carter enthused. “There’ll be a small explosion, which’ll immobilize the tanks at first—that’ll release an acid that will eat through the unit and work its way into the mechanics of it. It’ll seem like it’s got some kind of leak, and that will disguise the damage from the explosives. And eventually, ka-BOOM!”
“A good night overall,” Hogan praised his men. Newkirk and Le Beau had just been released from busboy and kitchen duty, and Kinch and Carter were safely back in the hut. The Colonel wanted only to head to bed and try to ignore the stinging pain he was feeling, but he knew a debriefing and pat on the back was a routine a close-knit group like this could hardly afford to pass over, even for one night. He picked up the kettle at the stove automatically, with no real intention of having a drink.
Hogan’s lightheadedness was played out by his hands, which clumsily knocked the shallow pan the kettle sat in off the stove and onto the floor. The loud clatter made him flinch, and he bent down to pick it up. Realizing his hands were visibly shaking, Hogan stood up, leaving the pan on the floor. “You guys did a great job tonight,” he said abruptly. “We’re in great shape for tomorrow. But it’s late; let’s hit the sack. See you in the morning,” he said. The men exchanged looks as they bade him good night uncertainly. “Newkirk?” Hogan called, and disappeared into his room, knowing the Corporal would follow.
Wordlessly, Kinch reached down to pick up the pan Hogan had dropped. Then, like the others, he fidgeted, deep in his own thoughts, until Newkirk came out of Hogan’s room only a minute later.
“Carter,” Newkirk said, as he headed for the bunk that hid the tunnel, “the Colonel wants you to get that camera to Tiger right away; she’s expecting it,” he said, activating the spring that triggered the lower bunk to rise up.
“You betcha, boy,” Carter answered.
“I’m going to go get
Le Beau bobbed his head in agreement. “He was not well tonight in Klink’s quarters.”
“He was even less well when we were outside dealing with that Panzer,” Kinch added.
“I-I’ll be glad when this is over,” Carter stammered. “I don’t like the Colonel having to worry about us. And this time he’s got Tiger to worry about, too. And you know how protective he is of her.”
“There’s a good reason for that,” Kinch said. “She’s saved all of us more than once.”
“And he’s not very happy about having to ask her to get involved in this, especially with Hochstetter prowling around already,” Newkirk added, stepping down to the tunnel
“He’ll pull it off,” Kinch predicted, taking off his jacket and stretching his stiff muscles. “He always does.”
“Oui. But he is still feeling guilty about what happened out there the other night,” Louis said, “and that is playing on his confidence.”
“You’d have never known it listening to him tonight,” Kinch related. “The Colonel’s always able to pull out a rabbit, even when there’s no hat.” Let’s just hope we don’t have to test that theory tomorrow.
Working For The Enemy
“Okay, I want to make sure
someone’s got a full view of Tiger at all times,” Hogan was saying to his men
the next morning. Standing outside Barracks Two and looking out across the
compound, Hogan was aware of that sense of foreboding he had whenever he was
surrounded by German brass. But he was grateful that he was facing the day with
a few hours’ solid rest, thanks to Newkirk’s unsolicited trip to
“Newkirk, you’ll be the fashion consultant. If Tiger needs a change of clothes or some fine-tuning, you’ll be there to do it. We don’t want any Krauts getting near that camera of Carter’s.”
“Carter, there’s film in the camera?”
Carter grinned sheepishly. “There is now, sir.”
Hogan shook his head, an amused smiled touching his lips. “Good. You’re going to have to be close by, too, just in case something goes wrong with the camera.”
“You want me near Tiger—when she’s changing her clothes?” Carter gasped. “Gee, Colonel, I don’t think a fella should be around when a lady is getting dressed—”
“Carter!” Hogan stopped him, pinching the bridge of his nose as he grimaced. He loved Carter, he couldn’t deny it; the innocence of the man was endearing and touching. But this morning it was more than Hogan could take.
“Yes, Colonel?” Carter asked, hesitant.
“I’m not asking you to watch her get undressed. Just make sure the camera works. If she has to change, we’ll make sure your back is turned, okay?”
Carter relaxed. “Thanks, Colonel,” he said, relieved.
“Kinch, anything from
“Nothing, Colonel. But the Underground reports more troop movements heading toward the French border, probably in anticipation of those tanks.”
“Well, they’re in for a disappointment. Make sure the telephone lines out of and into Klink’s office are routed through our switchboard.”
“Right, Colonel,” Kinch said. “What for, sir?”
“Ah, Kinch,” Hogan sighed, “do you want to be a Sergeant all your life? I have a feeling before today is over, you will have been given a pretty big promotion.” The others raised their eyebrows. “By the German Army.” Hogan nodded his head in the direction of the Kommandant’s office as he saw Burkhalter and Klink emerge. “There’s old Rosy Cheeks now,” he said.
“Burkhalter looks a bit green around the gills this morning,” Kinch observed.
“I’m surprised his gills didn’t fall off after what he drank last night,” Newkirk said.
“I’m surprised he’s vertical,” Hogan added.
Klink and Burkhalter made their way toward the tank still standing in the middle of the compound. Shortly after, Hochstetter and Oppenheimer came out of Klink’s office and headed to Barracks Four. “Okay, let’s go,” Hogan ordered quietly.
Led by Hogan, who was taking long, confident strides, the group approached Klink and Burkhalter. “Good morning, Kommandant!” Hogan said cheerfully. “General.”
“What’s so good about it?” Burkhalter said, his surliness returned.
“Beautiful day for a photo shoot. What do you think, Le Beau?”
“Oui, Colonel, almost perfect. Of course the exposure may have to be left a bit longer when we are in the shadow of the tank.” Hogan looked at Le Beau with a touch of surprise; what was he talking about? Le Beau shrugged, to tell Hogan that he didn’t know either, but he thought it might sound knowledgeable.
“Well, there you go, Kommandant; you’ll have to make sure you have a longer exposure. Of course, your Herr Oppenheimer will probably know that; too bad you won’t be using the expertise of Le Beau here,” Hogan started spinning his yarn.
“What expertise?” Klink asked, bewildered.
“Well, back in
“Perhaps you have an idea there, Hogan,” Burkhalter put in.
“No. No, sir. I won’t let you do it—it’s against the Geneva Convention to ask a man to do something to the detriment of his own country. You can’t have Le Beau; you can’t.”
“Hogan,” Klink said, trying to sound smooth, “General Burkhalter thinks it would be helpful to have Le Beau coordinate the photographs.” He smiled through clenched teeth. “There would be ample reward.”
“Oh, really?” asked Le Beau. “Like what?”
“No, Louis,” Hogan protested strongly. “They’re asking you to turn your back on your countrymen. Don’t listen to ’em.”
“Like what?” Louis asked again.
“Le Beau, I order you to refuse to do this,” Hogan snapped. He turned to Burkhalter and Klink. “Colonel, if you have Le Beau run this session, the propaganda will be so good the French will lose hope forever. Those poor people won’t be able to resist the Nazis once Le Beau lends his talent to these photographs. It’s unfair, and I won’t let him do it.”
“An extra piece of white bread for each man next week?” Klink proposed.
“Done,” Le Beau agreed.
Hogan let out an exasperated grunt. “You’ve sold out, Le Beau. I hope you choke on your crust.”
Hogan turned his back on the group and looked toward Barracks Four. Oppenheimer and Hochstetter were coming out, with Tiger close beside them. Hogan gave a slight nod to Newkirk, who parted from the others and started heading toward the approaching party.
“Oh, no, no, no,” Newkirk lamented, shaking his head in disgust. “You can’t have her looking like that. Who’d ever believe she’s French?”
“Why, what’s the matter with her?” Klink asked, still puzzled.
“Well, it’s obvious, sir,” Newkirk continued, brushing Oppenheimer away from Tiger and starting to pick at her hair. “Look at this hair; it’s not fit for a model. Fit for a rat’s nest, perhaps, but not much else.”
Hogan exchanged glances with Kinch; they were bound to get in trouble for that remark later.
“It looks all right to me,” Burkhalter protested.
“Oh, you’re too kind, General; this girl is obviously just a peasant when it comes to fashion.” Tiger moved her eyes to where Newkirk’s fingers were toying with her locks, her expression becoming set but saying nothing. She allowed the Corporal to pull her away from the Germans. “Clearly, I’ll have to take charge here,” he declared, then looked at Le Beau. “All right with you, Louis?”
“Awright, awright, you two,” Hogan complained. “You’re not making the lady feel very confident. If you two want to go and do something nice for the Krauts, that’s your business—we’ll discuss it later—but don’t insult the poor girl. Carter, Kinch, I’m ordering you to make sure these two don’t get carried away. Keep close watch on their activities. I don’t want them giving aid and comfort the enemy. And I sure as silk don’t want them making her look any better than she has to.”
“Actually, Colonel Hogan, I was hoping that one of the prisoners might be willing to pose with the lady,” Oppenheimer spoke up.
Now that’s making it just a little too easy, Hogan thought, pleased but cautious. “I don’t know about that either,” he said.
“Come now, Hogan,” Burkhalter chided. “You were the one talking yesterday about accepting the inevitable. Why don’t you be the one to take some pictures with her?”
“Not on your life,” Hogan retorted. He lifted a chin over toward Tiger as she came up beside him with Newkirk and the Germans at her side. “You haven’t even asked her what she wants. What makes you so sure she’s going to smile for the birdie?”
“She is aware, Colonel Hogan, that after this little delay she will be coming back to Gestapo Headquarters with me for questioning,” Hochstetter informed him. “She also knows that her cooperation would be duly noted when the time comes.”
“What makes you so sure she’s a spy?” Hogan asked, uneasy.
“Why else would a French woman be wandering around in the woods outside a prison camp, eh?” Hochstetter replied. He turned to look Tiger in the face, then carefully ran a finger down her jaw line. She turned her head away from him.
“Maybe she just liked the look of the barbed wire,” Hogan said, clenching his fists to stop from throwing himself at the Major. “It’s lovely at this time of year.”
“Enough of this,” Burkhalter interrupted. “Hogan, if you refuse to do it, you will have to order one of your men to do it.”
“I can’t order anyone to support this,” Hogan said. “It’d be wrong and unfair.”
Carter spoke up hesitantly. “Um—Colonel—if you don’t mind, I’ll do it, sir.”
Hogan tried to look surprised and hurt. “You, Carter?”
“Well, gee, photography’s always been my hobby. And—and it’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to stand next to a pretty girl, sir.”
So long you’ve forgotten what you’re supposed to do with them! Hogan thought benignly, remembering the young Sergeant’s protests about being too close to Tiger earlier. Good for you, Carter—you know what this one’s going to take. “Hardly seems like a reason to betray your country,” Hogan grumbled.
Klink laughed gleefully. “It appears you are losing control of this situation, Colonel Hogan. Three of your men are quite happy to be involved in this project for Herr Oppenheimer.” Klink set his eyes on Kinch. “Do I hear four?”
Hogan looked at Kinch, who shrugged. “Can’t see myself in fashion or photography, Kommandant,” he said. “Although I sure would like to work with a pretty woman myself.”
“Maybe you can develop the pictures,” Hogan said sarcastically.
“I’m afraid Herr Oppenheimer probably works alone on that, Sergeant Kinchloe,” Klink responded. “But there might be something else you can do.”
“What, like spit and polish the tank?” Hogan said, his voice laced with sarcasm. “Where’s Werden anyway?” he asked.
“General Werden will be joining us shortly,” Burkhalter answered shortly. “He is still… freshening up after last night.”
Hogan snorted. “You mean he’s got a hangover and he doesn’t want to face the daylight without making sure he has his proper military bearing.”
“I’m sure the General means no such thing, Hogan,” Klink berated him.
“I’m sure the General means exactly that such thing,” Burkhalter said, with a smile that Hogan was sure had a touch of smugness to it. “That’s the last time Werden will tell me that he can handle his liquor better than I can.”
If that was handling it, Hogan thought, bemused, I’d hate to see him out of control. “Let’s get this show on the road,” he said aloud. “The sooner this is over with, the better I’ll like it.”
And that’s the truth.
The Photo Shoot
The muscles in Hogan’s throat constricted as he watched Oppenheimer hand Tiger up to the German soldier standing in the upper hatch of the Panzer. The image of his dream flashed before his eyes— Where are you going? Come back!—and he swallowed uncomfortably as he watched her briefly disappear from sight.
Arms crossed and brow furrowed, Hogan knew that everything was now in the hands of his men. And God. How else are we going to be able to pull this off? How do we ever pull any of these insane schemes off?
Oppenheimer had been firing off his camera for the last thirty minutes, with Carter holding up the proceedings by being just too shy to easily slip his arm around Tiger’s shoulders. A bit of gentle coaxing didn’t seem to have any effect, so finally Tiger herself grabbed the Sergeant’s arm and wrapped it around her. The gay smiles and the laughter that were called for, however, seemed forced, and Oppenheimer was trying his best to get a wider grin from a wildly blushing Carter, when Le Beau spoke up.
“Monsieur Oppenheimer, the lady might look more like she is enjoying herself if she is nearer to the young soldier in the tank.” Oppenheimer considered, then called for the Lieutenant perched in the hatch to come down. “No, no, no,” Le Beau countered quickly. “Let her go up there.”
Oppenheimer smiled and gave his approval, then, after fighting off Newkirk’s fussing, handed Tiger up the tank to the soldier, who smiled a little too happily for Hogan’s taste. “No,” Newkirk complained, “it’s too crowded up there; her clothes aren’t the best as it is, and the wind is playing havoc with her hair.”
“Oui, you are right,” Le Beau conceded. Hogan shook his head and looked at Kinch, whose expression indicated he knew the kind of trouble the pair would have been in if Tiger had not been in the middle of a dangerous assignment. “Pull the soldier down here; let her be up there on her own.”
“On her own?” Hochstetter repeated. “I don’t think that is such a wise idea.”
“Certainly, Hochstetter,” Burkhalter countered. “What do you think she is going to do by herself—steal it?” He laughed derisively.
“Not a chance,” Hogan piped up. “We took the keys out last night when we thought General Werden was too drunk to drive.” He let out a slight laugh, only to wipe the irreverent grin off his face when German glares assaulted him.
He turned his attention back to the tank. Newkirk had climbed up and was making a show of fluffing Tiger’s hair and straightening her collar. That’s it, Newkirk—make sure she’s all set to go.
“Now pop yourself down in there and fix your hair out of the wind before you come back up,” he heard Newkirk demand.
“Hey, Newkirk, you’re going to make her cry soon!” Kinch called. “Try a bit of honey instead of vinegar.”
Newkirk turned and looked down at Kinch. “When you are the fashion consultant, you can run this any way you like.” He turned back to Tiger, who had hesitated. “Now get down there and fix yourself up.” Tiger disappeared from sight. “Bloody amateurs,” Newkirk muttered, “you think you know everything.”
Hogan bit his bottom lip, knowing now was the critical time. Le Beau stood nearby, trying to seem impatient. Carter shifted from foot to foot, and Newkirk poked his head down the hatch. “You going all right, love?” he said in a low voice.
Tiger was turning from one panel to the next, aiming the lapel of her dress at them and activating the small camera. “I don’t know what I am looking at,” she said in a worried voice.
“That’s all right, darlin’; someone will.” She gave him a grateful look. “All you need to do is give them something to look at.”
“Hurry up!” they heard Oppenheimer call from below. “I’m sure she is fine as she is.”
“Heathen,” Newkirk muttered. Tiger smiled at his lightness. No wonder Hogan managed to keep a positive outlook in the face of impossibilities. “You haven’t looked close enough, then!” he called back to the German. “Sorry, love,” he said to Tiger.
“I am sure my ‘rat’s nest’ won’t be so bad when you are done with it,” Tiger shot back. Newkirk gave a start, then smiled when he saw the laughter in her eyes.
“Hey, I tell you what,” Hogan said, unable to handle the suspense, and worried about how long it was taking. “Why doesn’t Carter step up there with her?”
“I thought you were against this, Hogan,” Klink observed.
“Oh, I am, sir, but if Carter’s going to do this anyway, he might as well look good. What do you think, Le Beau?”
“Hmm, it might work. But then the lady might look better on her own up there, with the trees and the barbed wire framing her face….” Hogan shot Le Beau a look that quite clearly reminded him who was making the suggestion, and why they were doing this in the first place. “Oh, uh—no, of course, you are right, Colonel,” he hastened to add. Nearly got carried away in the role and forgot the objective! “Carter, why don’t you go up and stand where Newkirk is?”
Carter nimbly hiked up the war machine and nudged Newkirk. “My turn to stand next to the pretty girl, Newkirk,” he said with a grin.
“Charmin’,” Newkirk muttered under his breath. “She’s nearly done.”
Tiger looked up and flashed her determined eyes. “Finished.”
“Great,” Newkirk said. Then, for the benefit of the others, he said, “That’ll be quite enough, darlin’, I don’t think we’re going to be able to improve on it.”
“He’s pushing hard,” Kinch said under his breath to Hogan.
“Any harder and she’ll push him right off the tank,” Hogan replied.
“That’s it, Andrew; get right inside with her,” Le Beau was coaxing.
Hochstetter started to protest, but Burkhalter waved away his concerns and watched as Carter hopped into the tank. The Sergeant grinned at Tiger in the small space. “Excuse me, ma’am,” he said.
Tiger smiled briefly and removed the camera from her clothing, handing it to Carter, who put it deep into one of his pockets. Then the pair popped their heads out of the tank, finding it nearly impossible to move in the small space of the hatch. “No, that’s not going to work,” Le Beau said, shaking his head. “Come on down, Carter.”
Carter hopped back out, slid down the side of the tank, and came to stand beside Hogan and Kinch. Hogan gave him a sideways glance, which Carter responded to by nodding slightly as he rocked back and forth on his toes, never taking his eyes off the tank. “I can’t watch this any more, Kommandant,” Hogan complained.
“Just a few more, Colonel Hogan; just a few more.” Klink was still rivaling the Chesire cat with his smile; he was quite enjoying Hogan’s apparent discomfort.
“Can’t you let my men go?” Hogan persisted. “Surely they’re not needed any more.” He glared at Carter for the Germans’ benefit. “I have to have a word with some of them about loyalty.”
“That’s fine, Hogan,” Klink sang, casually waving his hand in their direction. “Take Carter and Kinchloe wherever you wish. We have what we need right here.”
“What about Le Beau and Newkirk?”
“Oh, no, not them, Colonel Hogan. Not yet!” Klink countered. “The Frenchman and the Englander will need to stay to be in the final photographs.”
“What final photographs?” Hogan asked.
“The one the Herr Oppenheimer will surely want to take, showing that even with a No Escape record, I can still be a compassionate and fair Kommandant.” Klink’s chest expanded as he drew in what he surely saw to be a regal and honorable breath.
“Of course,” Hogan said, turning away and practically pushing Kinch and Carter back toward the Barracks. Then he called out over his shoulder, “Just make sure they don’t get hit with any flying debris when the camera breaks; I want something left of them to chew out.”
“These photos are great, Colonel,” Kinch said, squinting at the negatives that had been quickly made down in the tunnel. “Tiger did a great job.”
“She sure did,” Hogan said from the door to the Barracks, where he had continued keeping an eye on the proceedings. “She’s gone above and beyond the call this time,” he added.
“What’s going on outside, Colonel?” Carter asked.
“Louis’s waving his arms around. It looks like he and Newkirk are about to get into an argument. I think that means they’re done.” He straightened. “Kinch, get ready to make that call.”
“Carter, you watch the door.” Carter nodded. “I’m going to get Juliet off the balcony.” And with a final look back at the film Kinch was holding, Hogan opened the door, and headed out of the barracks.
When he got closer to the group, he could see that there was more going on than Le Beau and Newkirk pretending to be at odds over the closing photos; the Germans all seemed to be arguing as well. And at the center of it all was Hochstetter.
“This woman must come back with me to Gestapo Headquarters…schnell!” he was practically shouting, pointing impolitely at Tiger, who had been helped down from the Panzer and was now standing in between Le Beau and Newkirk. “We have waited long enough.”
“No one is debating your right to have her, Major,” Burkhalter was saying. “I am simply reminding you that if it is your job to maintain security while General Werden is still here, then your responsibilities are not yet completed.”
“What seems to be the problem, gentlemen?” Hogan asked, approaching the Germans with something akin to lightness. Here comes the tricky part.
“Hogan, you are not required, please return to your barracks,” Klink dismissed him.
“I am sure the General will appreciate that the tanks are on their way out now; he was not pleased with my having to be here at all!” Hochstetter continued, completely ignoring Hogan’s presence.
“Can’t stop the German Army, Major,” Hogan interjected.
“What is this man doing here?” Hochstetter seethed, throwing a warning glare in Hogan’s direction.
The American felt his stomach muscles contract as he caught the look; something about Hochstetter always made him uneasy, even when they were far from the torture chambers of Gestapo Headquarters which sat pushed far back in Hogan’s memories. “Anything I can help with, Kommandant?” Hogan asked, stalling for time. Come on, Kinch—hurry up with that call! “Or can I have my men back now?”
“Take your men, Hogan,” Burkhalter said. “They have served their purpose.”
“Don’t forget my white bread,” Le Beau said to Klink.
“I am sure you will be recognized for your helpfulness, Corporal Le Beau,” Klink replied.
“What about my helpfulness?” Newkirk asked, noting Hogan’s silent order to keep the conversation going.
“Herr Kommandant,” came the voice of Schultz from behind them. The group turned around to see the Sergeant puffing his way over to them in what appeared to be the fastest trot he could manage. “Herr Kommandant, there is a telephone call for you.”
“Well, take a message, Schultz, can’t you see I’m busy?”
“But Herr Kommandant, the Major said he was calling from
“Ja, Herr Kommandant. The Major said he was calling from the Headquarters of the Abwehr.”
“The Abwehr?” burst Hochstetter. “Klink, we will all answer that call.” And he started off toward Klink’s office, not waiting for the others to catch up.
“Schultz, take Juliet back to Barracks Four. The rest of you prisoners, return to your barracks,” Klink ordered. Schultz politely led Tiger away. Hogan nodded at her, Newkirk, and Le Beau, and followed the Germans.
“Colonel Klink speaking, Heil Hitler!” the Kommandant was saying as Hogan entered the office unannounced. “Yes, Major Beckhaus…” He turned and looked at the others in amazement. “Yes, Major—from Admiral Wilhelm Canaris himself!”
“Head of the Abwehr, you know,” Hogan muttered under his breath to Burkhalter. “Must be a very exciting day for you, sir.”
Burkhalter pulled away from Hogan, annoyed, but too distracted by the call to respond, or even to notice that the senior POW was someplace he probably shouldn’t be.
“Yes, Major—oh really?....” Klink’s face took on an astounded expression. “Juliet? Are you sure?” Klink looked briefly at Hochstetter, then turned away. “Yes, Major, he has been here the whole time. Yes, for security purposes.” Hochstetter suddenly brought his full attention to the call as he realized he was the topic of conversation. Trying to pull in closer to hear what was being said, he was thwarted by Klink, who unwittingly kept swiveling back and forth in his chair. “Yes, of course, Major, we will comply with the orders of the Abwehr immediately…. Certainly, Major….You’re welcome, Major…. Yes, we are pleased with our No Escape record here,” Klink said, a proud smile bursting onto his face. Hogan looked at the ceiling. “Thank you, Major. Heil Hitler!”
Klink hung up the phone and looked at the others. “Well, Klink, don’t keep it to yourself like a boyhood secret—what did the Major have to say?” Burkhalter demanded.
“He says the Abwehr is aware of Stalag 13’s perfect record, and that Admiral Canaris is impressed with me!” Klink said, still awed.
“And when he wasn’t clucking about you, Klink, what was it he said about Juliet?”
“Now that’s the strange part,” Klink said. “He said that she is part of a—” For the first time, Klink noticed Hogan in the room. “Colonel Hogan, you are not needed here.”
“Fine—you guys never tell me anything,” Hogan complained. But he took his leave quickly, and hot-footed it back to Barracks Two.
He entered the hut and went straight to his quarters, where Carter and Le Beau were listening in on the coffee pot bug that led to Klink’s office. Hogan gestured toward the listening device with his chin, silently asking for an update as the raised voices reached his ears. “They are arguing about Tiger being a member of the Abwehr’s Intelligence Unit,” Le Beau said. “Hochstetter does not believe it.”
“Well, Hochstetter’s a smart man,” Hogan said. “He knows intelligence and the German Army don’t go together.” He furrowed his brow as the arguing continued. “What did Klink say?”
“He said that Major Beckhaus told him Tiger was sent to keep an eye on Hochstetter to make sure the Gestapo is keeping up with its job to support the German Army.”
Hogan shook his head approvingly. “I’m sure that went over well.”
“Like a ton of bricks,” Carter said.
“…will not believe that unless I can confirm it myself,” they heard Hochstetter saying. “I will call Gestapo Headquarters.”
Burkhalter’s voice came next.
Even without seeing him, Hogan knew the expression the man would be wearing:
one of disdain and condescension. “What do you think the Gestapo is going to
tell you?” he asked. “You were not supposed to know they were checking up on
you, Hochstetter. The answer will be in
“Now there’s a clever Kraut,”
Hogan praised sarcastically. “Let’s see what’s going on in
“Ja, Abwehr Headquarters. Kapitan Vos here,” Newkirk said in his raspiest German. Hogan laughed to himself. Kinch shook his head. “Ja, Major Hochstetter, of course we have a Major Beckhaus here…. Nein, Herr Major, it would be no trouble at all.” Newkirk looked at Hogan and shrugged. “One moment, bitte.”
Kinch took the headsets from Newkirk, and then launched into his best German. “Ja, Major Hochstetter, I am surprised to hear from you…. Of course, Major, but we do not make it a habit to tell the people that we are observing…that we are observing them. The Abwehr has its own agenda….Major Hochstetter, it is not your place to worry about what the Abwehr is doing. If you have any concerns, I suggest you discuss them with the man who handed down the orders, Admiral Canaris!” Kinch’s voice started growing hard and angry. A smile crept onto Hogan’s face as he watched the transformation of this mild-mannered radio operator. If only Hochstetter knew he was being bullied by a pussy cat. “Jawohl, Major, I am sure you meant no disrespect to the Admiral…. Ja, so you will let the woman go as she pleases…. Danke, Major. Heil, Hitler,” Kinch finished, pulling the plug out of the switchboard.
He looked sheepishly at Hogan and Newkirk. “It’s not my fault he got uppity!” Kinch said.
“Nice work,” Hogan said.
Le Beau and Carter came down the ladder. “Hochstetter is livid,” Le Beau told Hogan. “He cannot believe that someone was spying on him.”
“Never spy on a spy,” Hogan said. “So what’s happening now?”
“They are going to tell Tiger she can go.”
“Once they stop arguing long enough to get there,” Carter added.
“Good,” Hogan said. “Le Beau—get over there before the Krauts do and make sure Tiger stops here before she goes out. We need to get these pictures back to her so she can get them to the Underground.”
Le Beau didn’t wait to be told twice. “Oui, Colonel.”
“The rest of you, just watch the fireworks… you’ve done your bit. Almost too well.”
“Sir?” Newkirk questioned.
“A little more attitude and you’d have been stolen to work at Vogue magazine.”
By Any Other Name
“So, Corporal Le Beau tells me I am working for the Abwehr,” Tiger said, as she stood facing Hogan in his quarters.
“I thought it would be the best way to make sure Hochstetter leaves you alone. Since he showed up before we expected him to, it seemed like a good idea to make sure if he does see you again, he’ll be wary about approaching you.”
“Always with the good ideas, Papa Bear,” Tiger said. “It was most surprising that they were so willing to let me move about the camp freely once my new identity was discovered.”
“The power of positive thinking, Juliet,” Hogan said. He let a small smile cross his lips. “That and a bit of cold-hearted manipulation.” Hogan held out a small parcel to Tiger. “Here. This is all your hard work and your risk.” She took it from his hand and turned it over thoughtfully, then buried it in her clothing. “Thanks to you, those new Panzers may not have a chance. And our boys will.”
Tiger took a moment to look carefully at Hogan. This man had always fascinated her. His willingness to constantly put his own life at risk was a mystery to her, even though she herself often did the same. Most men in a similar situation, coming to the camp in the way she had heard through the grapevine that he had, would have simply given up hope, or mentally collapsed, or laid down to die. Finding Hogan outside in the wet the other night, so ill, so fearful, and yet so unwilling to relinquish what he knew was vital information for the Allied war effort, had strengthened her own resolve. Even though fear that the darkness had won had flooded through her that night as she watched Hogan struggling to survive, she had responded readily when the Colonel called her back to help in a mission barely two days later. And she knew she would continue to do so, until the war ended, or she was dead.
Now, this same man who was responsible for the execution of this mission stood before her, obviously tired, obviously still hurting, and yet giving her the credit for a job well done. She wondered not for the first time what drove him, and felt a surge of protectiveness that she had not expected. And something else with it that was equally surprising.
“You have all done superb work,” she said.
“Now take this stuff and get out of here,” Hogan said. “I think Hochstetter’s about to offer you his staff car. Either that or Burkhalter will beat him to it because he’s so pleased about the idea of somebody getting the better of the Gestapo.”
Tiger smiled. “You certainly know how to put a cat amongst the pigeons,” she said.
“Yeah, and you’re one pigeon I plan to let fly the coop.”
Tiger suddenly felt dissatisfied with the way Hogan was responding. Had she not done everything she could to help? “Why do you say that?” she asked, her defenses rising.
Hogan raised his eyebrows. Put her in danger again? Not if he could help it. He owed her too much, had risked her too often. “I think we’ve provided quite enough thrills for you for one war,” he said.
“What does that mean?” Tiger asked.
“It means I won’t call you again unless we really need you,” Hogan said.
“Anyone would think you are unhappy working with me!” Tiger accused, her eyes flashing.
“I am!” Hogan retorted, turning
on her. Their eyes met in an angry moment, and all the fire went out of his as
he mentally traced her face. “I am,” he repeated quietly. He turned away.
“Every time you work on a mission I’m afraid I’ll never see you again. I don’t
want to be responsible for that. What happened the other night, and this mess
with Hochstetter, just reinforced that.” He studied the knots in the wood
around his window. “If you were safe in
Tiger was quiet for a moment, watching Hogan from behind. Her initial impression of this man had been correct: the temper was hiding the vulnerability; the commander was protecting the man. “Later,” she repeated softly. “You mean, after the war?”
“Maybe,” Hogan said. He clenched and unclenched his fists and followed a crack in the wood with his eyes from one end of the timber to the other.
“And what about you?” Tiger prompted gently.
“What about me?” Hogan asked, resignedly.
“Don’t you think that someone
would like to have you safe in
“Because it has to be done,” Hogan responded shortly, whirling back to face her.
“And so that is what I do as
well.” Hogan stared at the floor. Tiger came to him, put her hand on his cheek.
Hogan tried not to look at her but could not resist her powerful presence. “You
want me safely tucked away, while you are here and in danger. Mon cher, I would rather be here taking
risks with you, than worrying in a warm house across the
Those emotions that Hogan had routinely buried for months—years—suddenly came rushing through him, and he pulled Tiger into his arms. He shuddered as he felt himself become whole again; all his defenses were crumbling around him. How could he have operated without this awareness of his senses for so long? Warmth spread from Tiger’s insistent body through to his own, from his lips to his fingertips, and to his newly beating heart. He closed his eyes, trying to experience this revelation with every part of his being. And as he did, he found himself drawing Tiger even closer, and she responded willingly to his desperate, liberated breaths.
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. Hogan abruptly pulled Tiger away from himself, straightened, and moved, disoriented, toward the window, absentmindedly rubbing his wounded chest. “Robert?” Tiger said softly.
But she knew. Smoothing out her clothing, she nodded silently as Hogan said in a husky voice, “I can’t.” He turned to her with pain in his eyes and shook his head, sadly. “I can’t.”
“I know, Robert,” she said
gently. “You must be single-minded.” Hogan nodded numbly. “It is what makes you
a fine leader.” She came to him and laid a hand on his breastbone. Hogan felt
himself shiver but did not move away. “And a lonely man.” Hogan was avoiding
her gaze. Tiger cupped his chin with her — oh, so soft! — hand, and their eyes
met. “There will be
Holding his face tenderly, she kissed each of his closed eyes, then turned and walked out of his office.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Did you tell Tiger to make sure
the driver doesn’t follow the tanks?” Hogan asked as Hochstetter’s staff car
pulled out of the gate, carrying Tiger and the precious photos and information
that the group had gathered for delivery to the Underground, who would get it
“Yes, gov’nor,” Newkirk replied,
watching Burkhalter and Hochstetter arguing about traveling together in the
General’s car. Werden had left a few minutes earlier, leading his tanks on
their way to
“Those tanks aren’t going to make it very far,” Carter said enthusiastically. “I give ’em ten more minutes. Then the little explosions will start, and the acid will burn right through that component underneath…and then everything will start to burn away… and then…BOOM!”
Hogan gave a slight start at Carter’s sudden exclamation, then closed his eyes. He was starting to feel a tiredness that he had done well to ignore for most of the day, and wanted some peaceful time to pull apart the mission, as he always did, to see what went right—and what could have gone better. With his wounds being given no respite for the day, he was painfully reminded of one part that could have gone better: his own. Hogan was disturbed by what he still considered to be his failure, and just as bothered by his weakness with Tiger. She was an agent—nothing more, nothing less. Someone to work with. Someone to use to fight the Nazis. I have to think that way, he said. I can’t start protecting the Underground from their work, or we won’t have an Underground to work with.
His thoughts still in a whirl, and feeling more pain than he wanted to handle in front of the others, Hogan turned to go back inside the Barracks. “Let me know if anything happens, okay?”
His men were left to look at each other, and wonder where their commander’s mind was wandering.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“I wanted to let you know, Colonel Hogan, that your Corporal Le Beau will not be getting his extra ration of white bread,” Klink said to the senior POW a couple of days later.
“Now, come on, Kommandant, that’s not fair. I may not have been in favor of this project, but a deal’s a deal—Le Beau did his part to make sure the photo shoot went well; it’s your duty as a fair man to see that he gets what’s coming to him!” Hogan argued. He knew full well why Klink was reneging on his part of the bargain. But there was no way he could tell Klink that.
“Now just a minute, Hogan. Before you start spouting the Geneva Convention at me, you may want to hear the reason why.” Klink shook his head as he spoke, still amazed himself. “The new tanks are unusable. The photographs must be destroyed.”
“What do you mean they’re unusable?” Hogan scoffed. “A tank’s a tank; they looked pretty usable while they were here.”
“That’s just it, Hogan; they were fine. But about fifteen minutes after they left Stalag 13, they started having mechanical problems. Then all of a sudden there were explosions—the tanks were not only failing, they were blowing up! General Werden was in his car in the lead; he was wounded. Thankfully, no one was killed—most of the soldiers had gotten out of the tanks to see what was wrong with them. General Werden said the men were telling him that everything just seemed to melt away.” He shook his head again. “Those tanks can’t go through Paris, Hogan; they can’t even go through Hammelburg! The General says all the plans will have to be rethought. Obviously, there was a flaw in the new design that didn’t get picked up until now.”
Hogan stroked his chin thoughtfully. “That’s a pretty big flaw, Colonel,” Hogan admitted. “Of course I could have told you that would happen.”
“Oh, could you, Colonel Hogan?” Klink asked cynically.
“Oh, sure,” Hogan said. “The way you were flaunting it, it was bound to be a propaganda piece. You know how it is: the bigger they are, the harder they fall….”
“Hogan, that had nothing to do with it. These tanks were perfect fighting machines!” Klink insisted.
“So perfect that they fell apart as soon as they hit the slightest rough terrain,” Hogan countered. “Teasing us with them here, making my men look at them—telling them it will be the way to end the war—in the Nazis’ favor. That was above and beyond, Kommandant. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear about this.”
Hogan turned to leave.
“Oh, Hogan,” Klink detained him.
“You know that Juliet was actually working for Abwehr Intelligence.”
Hogan feigned surprise. “Really?”
“That’s why she was allowed to come and visit the Barracks on her own later on. She was quite insistent about seeing you. What did she want?”
“Oh, just to inspect the Barracks. And maybe to see if I was everything Burkhalter made me out to be when he was drunk,” Hogan said, waving away the question.
“The bold, brave, handsome American officer, is that what you’re trying to say, Hogan?” Klink asked.
Hogan let his mind run
thoughtfully back to his encounter with Tiger. In his mind, he gazed on her
face, felt her warm breath and the touch of her hand on his cheek, heard her
comforting words. There will be
And, opening the door, Hogan walked out into the sun.
Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Linda Groundwater
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.