The Safecracker Coda
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Challenge - Triskaidekaphobia Challenge
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Alfie (The Artist) Burke
Usual disclaimers apply: I don't own 'Hogan's Heroes' and am only borrowing them for fun, not profit.
As the 'suite' is the body of a work, so the 'coda' is the finale. This story takes place right after the events of 'Hogan's Heroes' Episode 27, "The Safecracker Suite" written by Laurence Marks.
13 November 1942
Eugene Shawcross sat at his desk, reviewing a list of supplies to be sent to Stalag Luft 13. When he was first assigned to the Special Missions Department at Fieldstone, the RAF Squadron Leader had been astonished to learn of the sabotage and intelligence unit working out of a German prisoner of war camp. ‘Impossible’, he’d thought at the time. After his first experience dealing with the group, ‘impossible’ had become ‘incredible’.
Signing off on the requisition form, Shawcross put one copy into his ‘Outgoing’ basket, then took the other to the bank of filing cabinets that lined one wall of his office. As he put the form away, he realized that in the few short months since he’d started this assignment, ‘incredible’ had become ‘routine’, even to the point that he no longer questioned requests for such wildly disparate things as magnesium pencils and eyebrow pencils. He wondered about them of course, and certainly looked forward to debriefing the men after the war to find out exactly what they had done with the various things he’d seen on the requisition lists.
He closed and locked the file drawer, pausing for a moment to consider the contents of not only this particular one, but of all the other drawers in the room. Mission reports, personnel dossiers, and an assortment of other types of information as unusual as the group of men it all pertained to, with every scrap of it classified ‘Top Secret’. A knock sounded at the door as Shawcross returned to his seat. “Enter.”, he said, looking expectantly toward the door.
A burly Sergeant-Major that doubled as clerk and security guard glanced in. “Mr. Alfred Burke to see you, sir.” Shawcross nodded and stood to greet his visitor, a civilian he’d recently sent to Stalag 13 to lend his assistance to the group. Also known as ‘Alfie the Artist’, Burke was a professional safecracker and a gentleman of the old school who enjoyed a nice cup of tea as much as Shawcross did himself.
Seats taken, tea poured, and pleasantries exchanged, Shawcross leaned forward. “I understand you have something for me, Mr. Burke.”
Alfie nodded, and produced an envelope from his jacket pocket. “Here you go, Squadron Leader. Your Colonel Hogan thought it best that it was sealed, so that I couldn’t know what was in it if something went wrong.” He handed the envelope to Shawcross, and took a sip of his tea before continuing. “Wonderful chap, really. Quite clever, and someone that I’m glad isn’t on the other side, if you take my meaning.”
Shawcross carefully examined the envelope, then slid it into a desk drawer that he locked immediately. “I’m sorry, Mr. Burke. It’s not that I don’t feel you can’t be trusted. You’ve proven exactly the opposite, as a matter of fact. The simple truth is that this envelope could disrupt the entire German war effort if its contents were known. Hogan was right, you’re much better off not knowing any more about it than you already do.”
“Don’t give it another thought, Squadron Leader. It wasn’t necessary for me to know what was in the safe in order to open it, and it’s not necessary now.” Alfie smiled, and settled back in his chair. “The whole affair was really quite a lark, though I’ll admit it got a bit tense when one of the German guards caught me in the barracks. That was bad enough, but then the camp Kommandant walked in, and I thought the game was ended before it had gotten started.”
“Do you mean to say that the Kraut officer in charge actually saw you, and did nothing about it?” Shawcross stared at Burke in amazement. “How did that - no, I can answer that one myself. Hogan. That man is already getting a reputation in certain circles as a man who can make the bizarre seem commonplace.”
“So I can imagine. I wager that he and his men will give Jerry quite a run for his money before the war ends.” Alfie took another sip, and gave Shawcross a thoughtful look. “In fact, sir, I’d also wager that you’ve got several other fine young men working for you who are also in the business of giving Jerry the run-around.”
“You do realize, of course, that is something I cannot discuss, Mr. Burke.” Shawcross frowned. While he didn’t think Burke was a security risk, this was getting frightfully close to the Official Secrets Act.
Favoring the Squadron Leader with a smile, Alfie waved his hand as if to dismiss the whole idea, then continued. “Speaking hypothetically, of course, if you did have other young men out there engaged in what we might call ‘clandestine activities’, it might come to pass that they would have to engage in certain acts of larceny. All in the name of the Crown, naturally. It occurred to me on the flight home that those fellows, if they did exist, could benefit from some basic education in the cracksman’s arts. That is why I went to Germany, after all, because while your young man on the scene certainly has the natural talent, he simply didn’t have the expertise needed for the situation at hand.”
Shawcross thought it over, then chuckled softly. “I can see that it’s going to be a real pleasure working with you, Mr. Burke. “
“Yes, it should be quite a lark.” Alfie took the last sip, and looked mournfully into the empty cup. “There’s just one more thing, my dear boy. Might I have another cup of tea?”
15 November 1942
Stalag Luft 13
Corporal Peter Newkirk came down the tunnel into the radio room, the last of the group just returning from working the evening shift at Hilda’s Hofbrau. The beergarden was turning into quite the hotbed of Underground activity, and the tips weren’t bad either. He paused, leaning against a wooden brace to watch as Sergeants James Kinchloe and Andrew Carter unpacked the latest supply crate from London. Corporal Louis LeBeau was nattering to himself in French as he went through a box of fresh spices apparently just removed from the crate. Newkirk grinned, wondering how much of it would end up going into an unpronounceable dish designed to divert some Kraut’s attention from the goings-on in camp.
Colonel Robert Hogan glanced up from the new code book he was reading. “Welcome back, Newkirk. There’s a package for you on the table.”
Curious now, as they didn’t receive personal items via the supply drops, Newkirk went to the table, noting that his first name was written on a large tin box. Pulling it open, he unfolded the note lying on top of a wrapped package. He quickly laid the note aside, and grinned as he tore into the wrappings.
“Come ‘ave a look at this, mates. Seems ol’Alfie’s done gone and sent my Christmas present a bit early this year.” As the others gathered at the table, Newkirk handed around books on locksmithing and safe manufacturing.
Kinch paused while leafing through the book on safes, as an alarm wiring diagram caught his eye. “Have a look at this, Newkirk. It seems old Alfie’s made a few notes in here.” He turned the book around, showing the others the additions to the text, done in neatly pencilled script.
Newkirk took a closer look, suddenly realising how worn, but well-cared for the books were. “Blimey... these must ‘ave been from his personal library.” The Englishman smiled, and read the note aloud. “’Best study them all. You never know when I’ll drop in for a nice cup of tea.’, and it’s signed ‘A’.”
Hogan nodded as he put a book back into the tin. “We’ll keep the kettle on for him.”
Author’s Note: Squadron Leader Shawcross is the ‘Major Shawcross’ we see in the radio room, using the code name ‘Mama Bear’ in some of the early episodes. I decided to use the English rank instead of the American one, and gave him the first name of ‘Eugene’ because everyone needs a first name. As far as I know, the character was never given one on the show.
This story also answers two parts of the SmartGroups Triskaidekaphobia Challenge. It covers the ‘Episode 13 - ‘Hogan’s Hofbrau’ and the ‘1300 Words’ challenges, as this comes in at exactly 1300 words including the title.
‘The Safecracker Suite’ ends on 11 November, with Hogan requesting permission for the men to celebrate Armistice Day. The opening date of ‘The Safecracker Coda’, 13 November 1942 is merely a coincidence and has no relationship to the Triskaidekaphobia Challenge, though not for a lack of trying!
Dedication: Becky Cloud... this one’s for you. I hope you like it!
Text and original characters copyright 2005 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.