2005 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Best Short Story
Usual disclaimers apply: I don’t own ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and am only borrowing them for fun, not profit.
Andrew lay in the loft of his uncle’s barn, sprawled across a pile of loose hay. The entire family had gathered to help put up the last cutting of the year, and while it was hard work, it was a lot of fun. The last of the hay had been hoisted up to the loft and stacked, and Andrew was taking a well-earned break before dinner.
The clean, crisp scent of the fresh hay, the faint smells of the ham and apple pies baking for dinner, and the soft, steady drone of his uncle’s honeybees were some of his favorite things about coming out to the farm. Oh, sure, it was great being with the family and all, but it was times that he could just relax and listen to the world around him that made it really special.
As he turned onto his side, he could just hear the long, drawn out tone of a steam whistle. Smiling a bit, he listened, wondering what it would be like to hop aboard that eastbound freight train and travel around the country. Chuckling softly to himself, he knew it was a silly idea, because all he ever wanted was right here, with his family and his home.
The train sounded its call again, but this time the tone changed, pitching sharply upward until it became the shrieking of a guard’s whistle, rousing Sergeant Andrew Carter out of his warm bunk for roll call.
Louis sat at the kitchen table, peeling potatoes as his grandmother stirred the bubbling chicken broth. “Almost done there, Louis?” she asked while adding a pinch of salt to the pot.
“Yes, ma’am, I just have to cut them up and they’ll be ready.” Suiting action to words, Louis grabbed a long knife and quickly chopped the vegetables into small, neat pieces. He’d learned a lot while spending the summer at his grandparent’s home, their patient teachings having turned the act of putting food on the table into a love affair with the art of creating a wonderful meal.
His grandfather came in, the door banging against the wall as the elder LeBeau had his arms full of wood for the kitchen stove.
Hearing the sound, Louis turned to look, blinking at the sight of Sergeant Schultz stepping into through the barracks door. Merde, c’est le boche. Sighing, Corporal Louis LeBeau stood and wound his scarf around his neck before going to see if there was any coffee left over from last night.
James stood wavering on his feet, adrenaline masking the throbbing pain in his body. He knew he’d feel it later, but now wasn’t the time to think about it. The cut on his forehead sent blood dripping into his eye and he shook his head, slinging sweat and blood onto the floor of the boxing ring. His opponent wasn’t looking any better than James felt, but he was determined to stay in there and keep punching. He’d show everyone that he had what it took to win.
Ducking and weaving to dodge a strong left hook, James feinted with his own left and followed it up with a pile driver from his right. It connected, dropping the other man like a string-cut marionette. The referee called out the numbers, and after ‘10’, reached over and raised James’ arm into the air, declaring him the new Golden Gloves champion by knockout.
The crowd went wild, jumping to their feet and cheering. James wiped his face with the towel his jubilant manager draped across his shoulders and looked around. He couldn’t quite believe it! He’d won, and all these people were cheering for him, chanting his name over and over! ‘Kinchloe! Kinchloe!’
A hand grasped his shoulder, shaking him gently. His eyes flew open to see Sergeant Schultz standing over him. “Kinchloe, come on, Kinchloe, please, it is time for roll call.” Grumbling at the sudden return to reality, Sergeant James Kinchloe hauled himself out of his bunk and joined the other POWs in getting ready to start the day.
Peter opened the Garibaldi cabinet with a flourish, revealing that his lovely young assistant was indeed back where she’d started. She took the hand he offered and stepped onto the stage, dropping into a curtsey as he bowed to the audience. Their applause got louder when he produced a single long-stemmed rose apparently from nowhere and presented it to her with a smile and a kiss on the cheek.
When they made their way offstage, the girl turned to look at him with a grin. “Well, Peter, I think they like you. Got anything planned for an encore?” The magician and assistant both laughed at the running joke they shared, both knowing that Peter would go back out in a few minutes to do his usual routine of bringing children from the audience onstage and performing several simple tricks just for them.
This was the part of the show Peter loved the best: entertaining the children. Watching their faces light up as he pulled coins from their ears, or ‘magically’ mended ropes they’d cut themselves, gave him more pleasure than all the applause he’d gotten over the course of the show. Their excited chatter brought a smile to his face as they tried to figure out how he was doing the tricks.
This time, though, the childish laughter gave way to grumbling. Cracking open an eye, Corporal Peter Newkirk groaned and added his voice to the usual morning complaints. “Oh come off it, Shultz, we’re all here, take our word for it and let us get back to sleep!” The barracks erupted in laughter when the German guard muttered “Jolly joker” as he made his way outside.
Rob looked forward to Saturday mornings. They were the only time he was allowed to sleep in, what with school and going to church on Sundays. This Saturday morning, however, he was up two hours before daylight. A fishing trip with his father was one of the few things that Rob would happily give up his usual lie-in for.
He sat on the floor, carefully going through his tackle box even though he’d checked everything last night before going to bed. The box was a birthday present from his father, and its contents had been gifts from the rest of the family. He’d been surprised at Christmas with a brand-new cane pole, and had kept it propped in a corner of his room, ready and waiting for this first fishing trip of the season.
Come daybreak, Rob was standing on the riverbank, watching his father point out a good place to try his luck. He brought the pole back, listening to the faint whirring as the line spun off the reel. The baited hook touched the water, but its splash was lost to a sharp knocking sound.
Colonel Robert Hogan, Senior POW at Luft Stalag 13, rolled out of the top bunk, landing lightly on the floor as Kinch quietly spoke from behind the door that separated his office from the enlisted men’s quarters. He put on his brown leather jacket and cap, shaking off the remnants of his dream before stepping into the main room of the barracks. The Colonel nodded to his second-in-command before greeting the men with a smile and a cheerful “Good morning.”
Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Nancy Ware
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.