Major Hochstetter Meets His Match
2007 Papa Bear Awards - Second Place
2007 Papa Bear Awards - Second Place
This is the second installment of the Mobile Reconnaissance, Equine Deployment saga. Yes, he’s back. This time, Mr. Ed helps Hogan and the gang as they try to foil Major Hochstetter’s plan to trap the saboteurs in the Hammelburg area. Will they be successful? It all depends … is Major Hochstetter smarter than a horse?
The standard disclaimer applies – I make no claims to any non-original characters or situations that are used in this story. It is written purely for entertainment purposes.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Chapter One – Major Hochstetter, Meet Mr. Ed
Colonel Hogan watched as the ball arced through the air towards him. He jumped up and stabbed it in his glove before it flew over his head. He removed the ball from his glove and tossed a ground ball back to Carter. The Sergeant scooped up the ball like a shortstop and fired it back at Hogan as if he were throwing to first base.
The ball stung Hogan’s hand as he caught it in the lightly padded palm of his glove. “Easy, Carter!” Hogan complained as he removed his hand from the glove and shook it. “These Red Cross gloves are not very thick!”
“Sorry, sir,” Carter replied sheepishly. “I guess I got carried away.”
Kinch laughed from the bench by the barracks door. “You’d think he was trying out for the Detroit Tigers or something,” he commented.
“Cleveland Indians,” Carter corrected. “I’ve always been an Indians fan.”
“The Indians!” Hogan exclaimed. “They’re terrible.”
“That’s the only kind of team Carter has a chance at,” Newkirk commented as he kicked a round football in the direction of LeBeau.
“Very funny,” Carter said. He opened his mouth to make another reply but stopped when they heard a small commotion near the fence. “Colonel, look,” he said, pointing towards the main gate of the camp.
Hogan turned to look towards the noise as the rest of his men came to congregate around him. There was a growing group of prisoners gathering near the fence and gesturing to something outside the camp. The guards looked tense and he saw Schultz attempting to herd the prisoners back away from the fence.
“What’s that outside the fence, mon Colonel?” LeBeau asked.
“I don’t know,” Hogan replied. “It looks like …” He paused when the recognition hit him. “I don’t believe it,” he said.
“Hey, it’s Ed!” Carter exclaimed. “What’s he doing here?”
“He probably came to talk to you again, Carter,” Newkirk said jokingly, giving his American friend a poke with his elbow.
“Cut it out, Newkirk,” Carter replied testily. “I can’t help it that he only wants to talk to me.”
The men began to chuckle and tease Carter until Hogan stepped in. “Knock it off, all of you,” he ordered. “There’s got to be some reason that horse is here.” He still had a hard time believing that this horse was an Allied agent and could actually talk to Carter. But still … that last mission couldn’t have been successful without a little equine intervention. “I think I’d better find out what that reason is,” he said. “Carter, you’re with me. The rest of you, get those men away from the fence before the guards get a little trigger happy.”
“Colonel, you’re not going to try to talk to that horse, are you?” Kinch asked incredulously.
Hogan smiled briefly. “I’m not, Carter is!” he quipped and motioned his men into action.
watched the gathering as he walked towards the main gate. The horse – Mr. Ed,
As the din increased, Klink emerged from his office with a frown on his face. He noticed the clump of prisoners near the gate and headed towards it. “Schultz! What is going on here!” he shouted.
Hogan intercepted the Kommandant before he got very far and walked along beside him with Carter following not far behind. “Morning, Kommandant,” he said. “I see you’ve come to welcome our new prisoner.” Hogan put his hands to his mouth and shouted, “Schultz, open up the gate and let him in!”
The Sergeant stopped his flapping and gave a quick salute before waddling towards the gate.
“New prisoner?” Klink asked in confusion. “What new prisoner?”
“The horse,” Hogan answered. “It’ll be nice to have him around.”
“Horse?” Klink sputtered. “Schultz – cancel that order! Leave those gates closed!” he shouted. Schultz stopped and gave another quick salute.
“You’re not going to let him in?” Hogan asked. “Well okay, it’s your funeral.” He gave a shrug as if to show his disinterest in the Kommandant’s predicament.
Klink stopped in his tracks. “What do you mean it’s my funeral?” he asked.
“When the German economy crashes because you didn’t let the horse into the camp,” Hogan answered casually as he stopped along with the Kommandant.
“Why would my not letting that horse into this camp affect the German economy?” Klink asked. His eyes narrowed and he wagged a finger in the American’s direction. “Hogan, this is one of your tricks.”
“One of my tricks?” Hogan replied. “Kommandant, I’m insulted. I shouldn’t have to explain how important that horse is to the German economy.”
“Of course you don’t have to explain that to me,” Klink retorted. After a moment of silence, he added, “Hogan humor me … why is that horse so important?”
“Kommandant, please,” Hogan said, crossing his arms.
“Hogaaaaaaaaaan,” Klink whined.
“That horse belongs to one of the local farmers who delivers produce to the various local military installations,” Hogan explained. “If something were to happen to him, that farmer would not be able to tend his crops or deliver them.” He stopped as if that should clear everything up.
“And?” Klink asked impatiently.
Hogan laughed. “And when he doesn’t deliver his produce to the military installations, they will, of course, take what they need from the German civilians.”
“Of course,” Klink agreed. “So why is that a problem?”
“There would be a shortage of food for the German people and prices would soar,” Hogan continued. “That would lead to inflation in the whole economy and before you know it, the price of bombs would explode through the roof.” He heard Carter snicker at his intentional pun.
Klink nodded thoughtfully as if the explanation made sense to him. “Mmm hmm, naturally,” he said. “That is why I was going to let the horse into camp.” He turned towards the main gate. “Schultz, what are you waiting for, open up that gate!” he shouted.
Hogan turned to Carter and smiled. “Piece of cake,” he whispered. Carter nodded his head in agreement.
“Hogan, when will you learn that it’s fruitless to try to trick me,” Klink said proudly.
“I should never try, Kommandant,” Hogan agreed blandly, holding back a laugh.
They watched as the gates opened and Ed galloped into camp, heading straight towards them. He slowed when he drew near, heading directly to Carter and began nuzzling at his pockets. Schultz appeared shortly after, out of breath from the short run across the compound.
“Why’d he go to him?” Klink asked, pointing towards Carter.
“Him? Oh, he must smell apples on his hands,” Hogan replied quickly. “When LeBeau makes his apple strudel, Carter’s the one who always cuts up the apples.”
“Cockroach is making strudel?” Schultz asked hopefully.
“Schultz! No one asked for your comments!” Klink replied.
Schultz stiffened. “Jawohl, Herr Kommandant,” he said. Then he leaned towards Hogan and whispered, “Cockroach is making strudel?”
“Schultz!” Klink shouted. “Hogan, I don’t suppose your Sergeant Carter cuts these apples with his ear?”
Hogan laughed as he looked over at Carter. Ed seemed to be nuzzling at Carter’s ear. It’s almost as if he’s whispering something to him! Nah, that can’t be! “Now you’re being silly, Kommandant,” he replied. “The horse is just talking to him.”
“Talking to him?” Klink asked as Schultz snorted in disbelief. “And you think I’m being silly?”
“Sure, Carter has a lot of horse sense,” Hogan replied with a smirk.
“Horse sense,” Schultz muttered. “That’s a good one!”
Klink stomped his foot on the ground. “Schultz! Why are you standing here? Go and get a rope so we can return this horse to the farmer who owns it,” he ordered.
Schultz saluted and turned to begin his search for a rope. He stopped as he saw the black staff car enter the camp. “Kommandant, it looks like the Gestapo is here,” he said.
“The Gestapo?” Klink gasped as he turned. “What are they doing here?”
“They probably heard about what you almost did to the German economy,” Hogan quipped.
“Hogaaaaaaaaan,” Klink said.
They watched as the car pulled to a stop in front of the Kommandant’s office. The back door of the car opened and Major Hochstetter emerged with a large frown on his face.
“Klink, what is that horse doing here?” Hochstetter screamed as he headed in their direction.
Hogan jumped in before Klink had a chance to reply. “Hello, Major Hochstetter. You’re just in time to meet our new addition to the camp,” he said brightly as Hochstetter arrived at their little group. “We’re organizing riding lessons and would be glad to save you a slot.”
Hochstetter glared at the horse before shifting his gaze to Klink. “Riding lessons?” he asked. “Klink, what are you running here, a stable or a prison camp?”
Klink laughed nervously. “I assure you Major Hochstetter …” he sputtered.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ed nuzzle at Carter’s ear again and begin to shift his body around. Hochstetter was facing the Kommandant and had his back to the horse, not paying any attention to the animal. Ed moved a little until his rump was directly behind the Major. With a snort he began to swish his tail.
“Klink, are you going to explain the presence of this animal?” Hochstetter growled.
“Actually …” he started, but interrupted his explanation with another nervous laugh. “I’ve let the horse into camp to help save the German economy,” he said. “You see, this horse belongs to a local farmer who grows produce to sell to the local …”
Hogan noticed that Ed had continued swishing his tail around and was occasionally brushing it against Hochstetter.
Hochstetter had continued to stare at Klink with a growing look of disbelief. “Klink, you have the brains of an idiot,” he grumbled, interrupting the Colonel’s explanation.
At that moment, Ed’s tail swished against the Gestapo Major and knocked his hat off his head. Hochstetter grunted his annoyance and bent over to retrieve the hat. To Hogan’s surprise, the horse lifted a hind leg and thrust it towards Hochstetter, hitting the Major in the rear. Hochstetter tumbled forward onto the ground.
“Do you want them back?” Ed said loudly.
Hogan looked quickly towards Carter, who was stifling a giggle. The Sergeant noticed Hogan’s inquisitive look and shrugged, pointing towards the horse.
Hochstetter scrambled to his feet and glared at Klink. “What did you say?” he snarled.
Klink opened and closed his mouth several times before he was able to speak. “It wasn’t me, Major Hochstetter,” he stammered. “It was Hogan.”
“Don’t look at me,” Hogan replied, pointing towards Carter and Ed.
Carter smiled at Hochstetter. “I didn’t say anything,” he said. “It was him.” He pointed towards Ed, who bobbed his head up and down and snorted.
“The horse talked.” Hochstetter replied flatly. He fixed his glare on Klink. “Klink, what kind of fool do you take me for?”
“A perfect one,” Ed replied.
Hochstetter’s head whipped around towards the sound of the voice. He saw Carter unsuccessfully holding back a laugh. “You,” he shouted, pointing at Carter. “You dare insult the Gestapo?”
A genuine look of surprise came over Carter’s face as he stopped laughing. “It wasn’t me, Major,” he replied.
Hochstetter looked at Ed for a long moment. The palomino playfully swished his tail again, barely missing the Major.
Hochstetter turned back to Klink. “I don’t have to stand here and be insulted like this,” he growled.
“Where do you usually go?” Ed said.
This time Carter could not contain his laughter. He doubled over, wrapping his arms around his stomach as he laughed. Hogan noticed that Schultz was also having a hard time keeping a straight face.
Hochstetter whirled around towards Hogan. “Colonel Hogan, you should learn to control your men,” he warned.
“Major, it wasn’t my man,” Hogan said. “It was one of your horses.” Now it was Hogan’s turn to laugh.
“Klink!” Hochstetter bellowed. “Get this horse out of here! I need to talk to you in your office.”
Klink stiffened for a brief moment at the outburst. “Schultz, take that horse away,” Klink ordered, shaking his fist in the air. “Find the farmer who owns it and get it out of here!”
Schultz saluted and took hold of Ed’s bridle. As the Sergeant began to lead him away, Hogan noticed that Ed had left a rather large pile at the feet of Major Hochstetter – so close that if the Major took one step backwards, he would step in it.
Sure enough, Hochstetter wheeled around to head towards Klink’s office and stepped squarely into the center of the mess. Hogan watched with glee as the Major’s foot slipped out from under him and he fell flat on his back in the manure. Hochstetter was furious and tried to get up, only to have his arm slip out from under him and fall again to the ground.
Carter was laughing so hard that he almost fell over. As Klink scrambled to help Hochstetter up off the ground, Hogan grabbed his Sergeant by the arm and hurried towards the barracks. “I’ll be going now, Kommandant. It looks like you have your hands full,” he said over his shoulder.
Chapter Two – The trap is set … Or is it?
When Hogan reached the barracks, the rest of the men had returned from dispersing the prisoners from the main gate and were waiting outside the door. Carter was still giggling at the events that had occurred.
“So what was that all about, Colonel?” Kinch asked.
Hogan didn’t stop outside the barracks. “Hochstetter wants to talk to Klink,” he said, opening the door. “And I want to know what he’s here for.”
“I can tell you that, Colonel,” Carter said between giggles.
Hogan stopped and looked at the Sergeant. “How do you know?” he asked.
“Ed told me,” Carter replied. “That’s what he came here for.”
“Carter, are you on that kick again?” Newkirk asked.
“I’m telling you he can talk,” Carter insisted.
“Quiet down,” Hogan ordered. “Carter, when did he tell you this?”
“Out in the compound,” Carter replied seriously. “He was whispering it in my ear while you were talking to Klink.”
Hogan heard the men snicker at this statement and he motioned for them to be quiet. “Was that why he was nuzzling at your ear?” Carter nodded. Hogan pondered this for a second before asking, “What about the comments to Hochstetter? That wasn’t you?”
Carter shook his head. “No, sir,” he replied. “That was Ed as well.” The men snickered again.
“So now this horse is talking to Hochstetter?” LeBeau asked.
“Insulting him, actually,” Carter corrected.
“Why should he be any different,” Kinch quipped. The smirk on his face belied his belief of Carter’s comment. “But what kind of insults can a horse think of?”
“Pretty good ones,” Hogan said. “I wish I would have thought of some of them.”
“Colonel, are you feeling all right?” Newkirk asked. “You sound like you are starting the believe him.”
“Come on, fellas,” Carter said. “I’m not horsing around here.” The snickering returned. “Oh, you know what I mean!”
“Kinch, set up the coffeepot,” Hogan ordered. “I want to hear what’s going on in Klink’s office.”
“Right,” Kinch replied and headed for Hogan’s office. The rest of the men followed.
“Carter, what do you know?” Hogan asked.
“Very little,” Newkirk whispered under his breath.
Carter threw a glance in the Englishman’s direction but did not comment. “Ed says that Hochstetter is trying to set a trap for the Underground,” he replied to Hogan’s question. “He’s going to spread the word that an important convoy is going to stop in this area and will not be guarded – but he’ll be waiting with several squads of SS hoping that they will try to blow it up.”
“All set, Colonel,” Kinch said as he removed the speaker from the coffeepot. The men gathered around as the crackling voices emerged from the device.
* * * * *
“Klink, I have something very important to tell you,” Hochstetter said.
“Major Hochstetter,” Klink said.
“In two days there will be a convoy passing through this area,” Hochstetter continued.
“Um, Major Hochstetter,” Klink interrupted.
“This convoy is carrying equipment that is very important to our rocket research at Peenemünde,” Hochstetter went on.
“Major Hochstetter,” Klink repeated.
“Klink, what is so important that you have to keep interrupting me?” Hochstetter bellowed.
“You are sitting in my chair, Major,” Klink said.
“So?” Hochstetter replied.
“Major, out in the compound you were rolling around in …” Klink paused as if trying to find the best word to use. Finally he said, “Manure.”
Hochstetter emitted a low growl. “Do you have a point, Klink?” he asked.
“Sir, my chair is now going to smell like …” Klink said.
“Klink!” Hochstetter erupted. “Since you are worried so much about your precious chair, I can arrange for you to have a new one,” Hochstetter said.
“Oh, thank you sir,” Klink replied happily.
“On the Russian Front!” Hochstetter screamed. “Now shut up and let me talk!”
“Yes sir,” Klink groveled. “Shut up and let you talk, yes sir.”
“As I was saying, this convoy is carrying important equipment,” Hochstetter continued. “It will stop for the night in the clearing about a kilometer from this camp – right here.”
Hochstetter was obviously pointing at a map of the area. Hogan pulled down the rollaway map that was hidden on his wall and quickly scanned it for the location. When he found it, he pointed it out to the rest of his men.
“What I need from you, Klink,” Hochstetter went on, “is to have your men ready. There will be only a light guard around the vehicles that night and I want you to be alert to anything unusual happening.”
“You can count on me, Major Hochstetter,” Klink replied importantly.
“Yes,” Hochstetter replied skeptically. “Well maybe it will be safe anyway.”
“Ha ha, you have such a sense of humor sir,” Klink replied halfheartedly.
“Hochstetter really knows how to take the wind out of old Klink’s sails,” Newkirk said laughing.
“Shhh, let’s hear the rest of this,” Hogan said.
“Sir, are you sure you don’t want some of my men to help guard your trucks?” Klink asked.
“That’s the last thing I want, Klink,” Hochstetter mumbled. “The trucks should be fine. My few guards can handle it. After all, they will look to simply be the trucks that deliver the Red Cross packages to the prison camps.”
“Oh, very clever if I do say so myself,” Klink said.
“I thought you might think so,” Hochstetter quipped.
There was some rustling over the speaker before they heard Klink say, “Major Hochstetter, before you leave … about my chair?”
As Kinch unplugged the coffeepot, they heard Klink’s office door slam.
* * * * *
The men in Hogan’s office were quiet as Hogan paced the small room. “So Hochstetter comes here to tell Klink that there will be an important convoy stopping not far from this camp,” he said to no one in particular. “And he makes a point to mention that it will be lightly guarded.” His brow furrowed in concentration. “And Carter tells us that Hochstetter was setting a trap for the Underground.”
“Actually, sir, that was Carter’s friend that said that,” Newkirk said in an amused tone.
Hogan stopped pacing. “Newkirk, we need to be serious here,” he said. “Please stop beating this dead horse.”
“Colonel!” Carter exclaimed.
Hogan looked at Carter and then realized what he had said. “Oh sorry, bad analogy,” he said. “Carter, what all did … Ed say?” Hogan paused before using the horse’s name.
“Like I said before, Colonel, Hochstetter was going to set a trap,” Carter replied. “The convoy that will stop here will not be carrying important equipment.”
“What will it be carrying?” Kinch asked.
“Our Red Cross packages,” Carter replied.
“And that’s why Hochstetter said that it will look like it’s carrying the Red Cross packages for the prison camps,” LeBeau observed.
Hogan nodded. “Anything else, Carter?” he asked.
nodded. “There really is a convoy that will be passing through the area that
night,” he said. “Ed mentioned that it would be traveling over the
brow furrowed as he walked over to the map. “The
Kinch pointed to a spot on the map. “Here it is, Colonel,” he said. “We haven’t gotten to that one yet. We’ve done this one, this one and this one here.” He pointed to the various spots on the map as he spoke.
“And don’t forget that one right here,” LeBeau said, pointing to another spot on the map.
Hogan stared at the map and stroked his chin in contemplation.
“There’s one more thing, Colonel,” Carter said. “Ed also said that Hochstetter will be keeping watch over two very important Dutch scientists that they’ve captured and are forcing to work on their rocket program.”
“Oh? Will they be with the convoy that night?” Hogan asked.
“No, Hochstetter will have them held at Gestapo Headquarters in town,” Carter replied.
“Blimey,” Newkirk exclaimed. “Anything else from this master spy?”
“One more thing,” Carter said, nodding his head. “Ed wanted me to tell you that he’s ready to help in any way he can.”
The men laughed around Carter again. “The horse is willing to help,” Newkirk joked.
right, hold it down,” Hogan said crossly. “Let’s think about this for a
minute.” He resumed his pacing. “Hochstetter is setting a trap with the Red
Cross package delivery,” he said. “At the same time, there is a convoy
traveling over the
“Sir, I can answer that,” Carter said.
“Let me guess, Mr. Ed the master spy told you,” Newkirk quipped.
“Yes, he did,” Carter said defiantly. “Only Hochstetter and his aide, Captain Scheiner, know about the convoy.”
“How does Ed know?” Hogan asked.
“He got his information by overhearing the two men talking outside the market in town yesterday,” Carter replied. “Hochstetter is only spreading the information about the Red Cross trucks. The convoy is a secret that only they will know about.”
“And the scientists?” Hogan asked.
“The same,” Carter replied. “Ed says that Captain Scheiner will be alone in Gestapo Headquarters guarding them while Hochstetter is with the trucks.”
Hogan was silent for a long moment while he digested the information.
“You have a plan, Colonel?” Kinch asked.
“Not yet,” Hogan replied. “Just a couple ideas.”
“Colonel, you’re not actually going to believe all this information, are you?” Newkirk asked.
“Why not?” Hogan replied. “Do you think Carter is making it up?”
Newkirk looked over at Carter, who was staring back at him. “Well, um …” the Englishman faltered. “I’m not saying that he made it up, but you have to admit – getting all this from a talking horse. That’s pretty far fetched!”
“You’re saying I didn’t make this all up. But you also say I didn’t get it from Ed, which means I had to make it up” Carter said. “Boy, some friend you are!”
“Andrew,” Newkirk protested. “You’re twisting my words around!”
Before Carter could continue the argument, Hogan stepped in. “Look, I know how crazy it seems,” he said. “But the more I’m around that horse, the more I get a funny feeling that there’s more there than meets the eye.”
“Or the ear,” Kinch mumbled under his breath, a smile spreading over his face.
Carter looked over at Newkirk and gave him a “so there” nod of the head.
“So you are thinking of a plan to stop the convoy?” LeBeau asked.
Hogan nodded. “And to rescue the scientists,” he said.
“You’re planning to do both?” Kinch asked.
Hogan smiled broadly. “I can’t help it,” he said. “I’m greedy!”
Chapter Three – I’m a Believer
Hogan had been staring at the ceiling in his quarters for several hours. The rough-hewn boards formed sort of a blank canvas for him to stare at while he contemplated what to do. He had stared at the same boards many times, each time almost willing them to provide some spark to ignite the genesis of a plan. Today, however, that spark refused to take hold. Every idea he thought of seemed to hinge on too many variables – too many unknowns – for him to feel comfortable.
He sighed. “Well, might as well go through it again,” he said to the empty room. He began to trace his eyes along one of the lines of wood grain in the boards above him, following it along the entire length, around each blackened knot in the board. When he reached the end, he followed another line back.
He ticked off the things he knew on his fingers. First, Hochstetter had told Klink that an important convoy was stopping for the night near the camp. Second, Hochstetter made it a point to mention that the convoy would be lightly guarded. Third, Carter tells me that the horse told him that Hochstetter was setting a trap for the Underground using a phony convoy as bait.
holding out a third finger, he stopped. This was the point in his thinking when
things began to veer off track. “The horse said,” Hogan muttered. “A horse
named Mr. Ed that
And then there was that incident in the compound. He had definitely heard the insults directed at Hochstetter – some of them pretty good, he had to admit. At first he thought Carter was the culprit, but that didn’t explain the incident with Hochstetter’s hat. He shook his head again and gave a small chuckle. “A talking horse that knows both English and German and communicates through Sergeant Andrew Carter,” he mused. “You’ve got to admit, it’s a good cover!”
He sat up and hopped down from the bunk. “So here I am pondering what to do with information that supposedly came from this equine wonder,” he said as he started pacing the room. “The convoy is a trap – our own Red Cross packages, so that if we are successful in destroying it, we hurt ourselves. Hochstetter is obviously targeting me – why else would the trap be so close to camp?” He shook his head in agreement with his observation. “Once the attempt is made, he waltzes into camp to check up on us. If we are gone, he’s got us.”
pacing and leaned against the corner post of the double bunk. “The real convoy
is traveling secretly over the
He was quiet as the ideas came and went. After what seemed like an hour he began smiling. “Of course,” he said softly. “It’ll be easy … assuming Carter’s new friend is as able as Carter says.” He began laughing. “The guys are going to think I’ve flipped when they hear this,” he said.
Having made up his mind, he grabbed his hat from the table and left his quarters.
* * * * *
looked up expectantly at the sound of Hogan’s door. He had been in his quarters
all afternoon and they knew he was trying to think of a plan to blow up the
convoy that was to cross the
“All right, fellas,” Hogan said as he crossed the room. “Gather around.”
“You have a plan, mon Colonel?” LeBeau asked.
“I think so,” Hogan replied. “I just need to find out a couple of things first.” He looked over at Carter. “Carter, you and I are going out of camp tonight.”
Carter nodded. “Sure,” he replied. “Anyplace in particular we’re going?”
Hogan smiled. “We’re going to pay a visit to Mr. Ed,” he said. “I want to find out how much he can help us.”
“Colonel, you’re not serious,” Kinch said.
“You mean you’re going to ask that horse to help us?” Newkirk asked in amazement.
“Why not?” Carter replied. “He helped us the last time.”
“But …” Newkirk stammered.
right,” Hogan said. “Ed did help us with that synthetic fuel plant. And don’t
“You mean you actually believed them?” Kinch asked.
“Why is it so hard for you guys to believe that Ed is helping us?” Carter asked.
“Carter, you’re asking us to believe in a bloody talking horse,” Newkirk replied.
“I tell you, I’ve heard him talk!” Carter insisted. The rest of the men snickered.
“And unless Carter here has developed a better sense of humor, so have I,” Hogan added.
The snickering stopped. “Colonel?” Kinch asked.
Hogan held up his hands to squelch any further comments. “I’m not saying that I am as convinced as Carter,” he said. “But I did hear something out in the compound this morning. Now, I say that Carter and I are going out tonight and find out what the deal is with Ed and this mission.” He looked at each of his men in turn. “Any objections?” Nobody spoke. “Good.” He turned and retreated back to his quarters. As he crossed the room, he shook his head and muttered, “Great, now I’m starting to think like Carter.”
* * * * *
Hogan entered the barn quietly with Carter following closely behind. As soon as Carter closed the door, they heard a snort and footsteps coming in their direction. Ed appeared and headed straight for Carter, nuzzling against the pockets of his jacket.
“Carter, give him the carrots you brought him,” Hogan said. “I have a feeling that we’ll never get anywhere unless you feed him.” Ed stopped nuzzling at Carter’s jacket. Hogan watched as the horse looked at him and bobbed his head. “I thought so,” Hogan laughed. “You’re not a spy. You’re a slave to your stomach!”
Ed took a few steps towards Hogan and stuck his nose in the Colonel’s face. Hogan backed away slightly as Ed’s upper lip curled, exposing his large front teeth. Ed bobbed his head up and down several times and Hogan could swear he heard the sound of laughing. He stuck a finger in his ear and shook his head slightly, but the laughing sound remained.
“Um, Colonel,” Carter said. “We don’t have much time.” Ed stopped laughing and gave Carter a nudge with his nose.
“Right,” Hogan said, “Give him the carrot while I do the talking.”
Carter extended his hand and Ed gently plucked the carrot from his palm.
‘All right, Ed,” Hogan began. “I’m going to suspend my logical thinking here for a moment. Carter told us what you said to him today in camp, and we heard Hochstetter telling Klink about the convoy that will park outside our camp.”
Ed looked at Hogan and crunched on the carrot.
“And since I know that Carter would never tease Hochstetter unless he is dressed in a German uniform, I heard the insults you were directing at him this morning,” Hogan continued. “They were pretty good, if I do say so myself.”
Ed snorted and took another carrot from Carter.
“I have a plan to destroy the real convoy and to rescue the Dutch scientists from Gestapo Headquarters,” Hogan said. “But we’re going to need your help.” He watched the horse chew on the carrots. “Can you help us?”
Ed whinnied and bobbed his head up and down.
Hogan stared at the horse. “You’re not going to say anything?” he asked.
Ed snorted and shook his head before taking another carrot from Carter.
“You mean I’m going to have to stand here and talk to you while you snort and whinny?” Hogan asked.
Ed whinnied and pawed at the ground playfully.
Hogan shook his head. “You’re laughing at me, aren’t you?” he asked.
Ed bobbed his head up and down, curling his upper lip to expose his teeth again.
Hogan sighed. “This is going nowhere,” he muttered. “Come on, Carter,” he said, turning towards the door. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s rude to talk with your mouth full?” Ed said with a snort.
Hogan wheeled around and looked at the horse. Ed stared placidly back at him, flicking his ears from side to side and still chewing remnants of carrot.
Carter clapped his hands together happily. “You see, Colonel?” he said. “I told you he could talk!”
“Do you think you can hold off eating until we’re through here?” Hogan asked somewhat testily.
“I can listen and eat at the same time, Colonel,” Ed replied.
Even though Hogan felt that he was expecting a response, he was still shocked. He felt his eyes widen slightly. “Well I’ll be damned,” he whispered.
Carter had continued clapping happily and Ed began to chuckle. “Colonel, if you could tell Andrew to stop clapping and give me another carrot, you could tell me your plan and what I can do to help,” Ed said softly.
Hogan stared silently at Ed. After a moment, he shook himself as if to bring his thinking back to the business at hand. “Oh, of course,” he said. “Carter, give him a carrot … hell, give him all the carrots you’ve got!”
“Now you’re talking, Colonel!” Ed snorted happily.
While Ed crunched the vegetables, Hogan told him the plan he had come up with. He explained why he thought they needed Ed’s help and what the horse could do for them. When he finished, he asked, “Do you think you can do that?”
Ed bobbed his head up and down. “I can do that,” he said. “I was afraid at first that you’d want me to wire the bridge.”
Hogan was silent until he realized that Ed was joking. “I thought about that,” he said with a smile.
“Colonel?” Carter asked. “You were going to ask Ed to wire the bridge?”
“He was joking, Andrew,” Ed said.
“Oh,” Carter replied sheepishly.
“I think your plan will work,” Ed said, turning his attention back to Hogan. “Even if I am seen, nobody would suspect that I could do something like that.”
“That’s what I was hoping for,” Hogan replied. “Anything to keep the Germans off guard.”
“Somehow I don’t think it’s hard to pull one over on that Major Hochstetter,” Ed said. “He seems to be as stubborn as a mule and about half as smart.”
“Gee, and you’ve just met him!” Hogan quipped.
“Colonel, we should get back to camp,” Carter said, giving Ed the last carrot from his pocket.
Hogan nodded and turned to leave. He stopped and turned back to face Ed. “I do have one more question for you,” he said.
Ed whinnied and swished his tail.
“Why didn’t you talk to me before tonight?” he asked.
Ed curled his upper lip again in a gesture that Hogan began to interpret as a smile. “You didn’t believe,” he said. “Besides, a horse has to have some fun!” He raised his head in the air and whinnied playfully.
Hogan shook his head. “Incredible,” he muttered. He motioned for Carter and followed the Sergeant out of the barn.
* * * * *
LeBeau poured coffee into Newkirk’s tin cup as they sat at the table in the barracks waiting. “They should be back soon,” he commented as he set the pot back down on the stove.
“I still can’t believe the Colonel actually thinks that horse can help us,” Newkirk commented as he sipped his coffee.
“The Colonel did make a good point before he left,” Kinch replied. “The horse did help us on the last mission.”
“Yeah, but a talking horse?” Newkirk scoffed.
Kinch shrugged and took a sip from his tin cup.
Newkirk began chuckling to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Kinch asked.
“I was just thinking,” he said. “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Carter tries to get the horse to talk for the Colonel.”
“Oui, a horsefly,” quipped LeBeau, joining in on the laughter.
Kinch put his cup down on the table. “This is no time for you two to be horsing around,” he said sternly. As he looked at both men, a small tick on the corner of his mouth belied the criticism and he too joined the laughter.
As they sat at the table enjoying their humor, they heard the bunk rattle and watched as the bed rose to expose the tunnel entrance. Within moments, Hogan and Carter had climbed up into the barracks and closed the entrance.
“Were you able to recruit Carter’s horse for your plan, Colonel?” Newkirk asked after he had taken another sip of his coffee. He stared blankly at Hogan, trying hard to keep a straight face. He held it for a moment before bursting out in a fit of giggles. He was quickly joined by LeBeau and even Kinch found it hard to keep from smiling.
Hogan looked at the men as they enjoyed their amusement.
“You guys aren’t as funny as you think you are,” Carter huffed.
Hogan smiled. “We should head back to the barn, Carter,” he said mockingly. “At least Ed’s jokes are funny.”
The laughing at the table stopped abruptly. “Colonel, are you saying you talked to this horse?” Kinch asked.
“Of course,” Hogan replied. “And he’s going to help us out on this mission.”
Newkirk snorted. “I suppose he’s going to blow up the bridge for us,” he scoffed.
Hogan’s smile grew wider. “That’s right, he is,” he replied.
The men at the table stared at Hogan in disbelief. “Colonel, how is a horse going to blow up a bridge?” Kinch asked.
Hogan walked to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee. “Gather round and I’ll tell you,” he said as he sat at the table. The men gathered around and Hogan explained his plan. Nobody spoke until he had finished.
“I supposed that would work,” Kinch said. “As long as this horse …”
is Ed,” Carter interrupted.
Kinch looked sideways at Carter. “As long as Ed can do his part.”
Hogan sipped his coffee before answering. “I have confidence that he could do more if he was asked,” he replied. “Who knows, maybe he can operate a radio and I can get him in here to give you a break!”
Kinch opened his mouth to reply but thought better of it.
“Look, he doesn’t have to do much,” Hogan said. “We’re doing the actual wiring of the bridge. He’s just pushing the plunger. Besides, I have a feeling that Hochstetter will make a beeline to this camp when he hears that the real convoy has been blown up.”
“Are you sure, mon Colonel?” LeBeau asked.
Hogan nodded. “He suspects me,” he replied. “Why else would he set up his decoy so close to Stalag 13?”
“And after he leaves, we’re going to run into town and grab those scientists from Gestapo Headquarters?” Newkirk asked.
“Yup,” Hogan replied. “That’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Chapter Four – A (Horse)Fly on the Wall
The sun shone brightly on the warm summer morning as Ed trotted along the road towards Hammelburg. An occasional gust of wind ruffled his mane and he pricked his ears form side to side listening to the sounds of the countryside. He was pulling the empty farmer’s cart, his farmer-owner, Dietrich, sitting casually in the seat, holding the reins while Ed trotted along.
feeling a little frisky, as he always did when he exercised. The cart, being
empty, was light and not a burden for him to pull. And as always, Ed kept his
eyes open for anything that he could observe – after all, that was why
“Be patient, boy,” Dietrich said with a chuckle. “We’ll be there soon enough.”
chuckled again. Poor Dietrich, Ed
thought. The farmer had no idea what was running through Ed’s mind. As far as
he knew, Ed was just a horse – albeit a horse that
“Calm down,” Dietrich said, laughing harder this time. “A person would think you’d want to fly into town!”
chuckled again. If you only knew, he
thought. How do you think I got to
They had crossed over the bridge and, without being told, Ed turned left onto Bahnhofstrasse. He knew where they were headed. Dietrich was on his way to Max’s market in town to discuss Underground business. Ed knew that both men were active in the local Underground, and Dietrich frequently used the cover of a produce farmer visiting a produce market to meet. Ed didn’t mind – he also used his cover of being a produce farmer’s horse to gather information from unsuspecting Germans.
Ed turned right onto Dalbergstrasse and slowed to a stop in front of Max’s market. He flicked his tail from side to side as Dietrich climbed down from the cart.
“Now don’t you go wandering around again,” Dietrich said.
Ed snorted and turned to look at the farmer. He curled his upper lip and stuck his tongue out at the man.
Dietrich shook his head and laughed. “You’ve got the personality of a mule,” he said lightly.
“Hee haw,” Ed snorted.
shook his head again and walked into the market, leaving Ed standing alone on
* * * * *
Ed had been standing in front of the market for about ten minutes when he saw a uniformed Gestapo officer stop at the corner ahead of him. He recognized the man as Captain Scheiner, the aide to Major Hochstetter. Immediately his ears pricked up. The last time he was in town, Captain Scheiner and Major Hochstetter had met on the same corner to discuss their secret plans. It must be my lucky day, Ed thought. It seems as if there is to me another meeting of the so-called Gestapo brain trust. I think I should wander down and listen in to see what they are planning this time.
began to pull on the cart, hoping to avoid making any noise. He wanted to get
close enough to hear, but not make it too obvious that he was eavesdropping. He
knew that this precaution probably was not necessary – after all, what would a horse
understand about world politics – but he liked to “play the spy game”, as his
He had almost reached the corner when he saw a black staff car pull to a stop on Schafgasse at the corner. Sure enough, Major Hochstetter got out of the car and headed towards his aide. Ed stopped as the two men glanced around to see if anyone was nearby. Neither man seemed to take notice of Ed.
When they turned their attention to their conversation, Ed resumed his movement towards the corner. In another few seconds, he was close enough to hear them talking. He pricked his ears forward and listened.
“… sure that everything is all set for tonight,” Hochstetter said.
“Everything is ready, Major,” Scheiner replied. “The scientists are in a cell at Headquarters and the decoy trucks are standing by.”
“And the Red Cross packages?” Hochstetter asked.
“They are loaded in one of the decoy trucks,” Scheiner said. “The rest of the trucks will be used for the guards.”
“Excellent,” Hochstetter said with a humorless smile. “And tonight, the trap will be sprung.”
“Do you really expect the Underground to make an attempt on the trucks?” Scheiner asked.
“I expect Colonel Hogan to make an attempt on the trucks,” Hochstetter growled. “That is why they are set up so close to Stalag 13.”
“But how will Colonel Hogan know about them?” Scheiner asked. “You only told Colonel Klink.”
“And Klink will tell Hogan, and Hogan will try for the trucks,” Hochstetter said.
“Do you think Colonel Klink is in on it too?” Scheiner asked in surprise.
“No,” Hochstetter replied immediately. “Colonel Klink is too stupid to be in on anything.”
Ed whinnied a laugh. It takes a stupid person to know a stupid person, Major, he thought.
At the sound, both men looked around quickly. They looked at Ed standing patiently nearby staring back at them before continuing their conversation.
“I expect Hogan is able to get any information out of Klink without the Kommandant even knowing he’s giving the information,” Hochstetter continued.
while he is concentrating on the decoy trucks, the real convoy will cross over
they were destroyed before selling them on the Black Market,” Hochstetter
“And make a nice profit on the side,” Scheiner said, smiling broadly.
Ed pricked his ears in annoyance when hearing this.
Hochstetter said. “
“With all the preparation we have done, what could possibly happen?” Scheiner asked with a smile.
Hochstetter allowed himself to smile as he turned his head to look down the street. “Nothing,” he said. “We’ve been too careful. How could anything possibly go wrong?”
Ed couldn’t resist. He snorted and said, “Because you are in charge, Major.”
Hochstetter whipped his head around and glared at Captain Scheiner. “What did you say, Captain?” he growled.
Scheiner opened and closed his mouth several times before he was able to speak. “I didn’t say anything, Major,” he croaked.
Ed snorted again and both men turned to look at him.
“That horse,” Hochstetter said. “I know that horse.”
“What’s so special about it?” Scheiner asked. “It’s just a farmer’s work horse.”
“That horse was in Stalag 13 yesterday,” Hochstetter growled.
Ed curled his upper lip and raised his head, smiling at the two officers.
“Was that when you fell into …” Scheiner started.
“Yes!” Hochstetter bellowed.
Ed whinnied happily and bobbed his head up and down.
“I should shoot that animal where it stands,” Hochstetter said angrily.
“But Major,” Scheiner said.
“Silence!” Hochstetter ordered. He walked towards the spot where Ed was standing.
At that moment, Dietrich emerged from Max’s market to find that his horse and cart were not where he had left them. “Where is that horse now,” he said, looking around. He spotted Ed at the corner and when he saw the two Gestapo men standing by the cart, he hurried towards them. “There you are,” he said when he reached the cart.
“Is this your horse?” Hochstetter asked.
“Jawohl, Major,” Dietrich answered. “Is there a problem?”
“I saw this horse in Stalag 13 yesterday,” Hochstetter said. “Alone.”
“Alone?” Dietrich echoed. “Surely there were prisoners in the camp.” Ed snorted his laughter at the response.
“Bah!” Hochstetter exclaimed. “Of course there were prisoners! But I didn’t see you there.”
“Ah, I see,” Dietrich stammered. “This is a very energetic horse. Sometimes he likes to wander around.”
Hochstetter glared at Dietrich. “I would suggest to you that you keep a tighter rein on this animal,” he warned. “Or you might find yourself a prisoner.”
“Yawohl, Major,” Dietrich said. “I will do that.”
Hochstetter fixed his glare on Ed. The man and animal stared at each other for several seconds before Hochstetter let out a low rumble and walked away, with Captain Steiner following closely on his heels.
As Dietrich climbed onto the cart, he said, “You should be careful on your wanderings, my boy. Major Hochstetter is not an easy man to deal with.” He flicked the reins.
Ed began walking down the street. He snorted another chuckle. And Major Hochstetter should be careful where he steps! He whinnied playfully and picked up the pace until he was trotting through the streets of Hammelburg, heading back towards the farm.
* * * * *
“Remind me again why we are doing this?” LeBeau grumbled. He took a bundle of explosives and placed it next to one of the wooden beams of the bridge structure. He held it in place while Newkirk secured it to the beam with a roll of tape.
“We’re wiring this bridge so that bloody stupid horse can blow it up,” Newkirk blurted.
“Ed is not stupid, Newkirk!” Carter exclaimed. “He’s a lot smarter than you.”
“A ruddy bundle of horse sense, he is,” Newkirk mumbled.
“Will you guys keep it down?” Kinch ordered. “You want the guards to hear us?”
“Don’t tell me, tell Newkirk and LeBeau,” Carter replied huffily.
“I’ll tell all of you,” Colonel Hogan said as he appeared nearby. “Shut up and get this bridge wired. We don’t have much time.”
“Yes, Colonel,” Newkirk replied. The words were echoed by the rest of the men.
The men continued their work in silence until all the charges were in place. Carter then wired each detonator together and threw the spool of wire to a waiting Kinch on the ground below. He climbed down from the bridge trestle and took the spool back.
“All set, Colonel,” Carter said.
“Good,” Hogan replied. “Now let’s finish this and get out of here.”
The men began their trek away from the bridge. Carter followed, holding the spool of wire as it unwound, leaving a trail behind them. When they reached the spot where they had left the plunger, Carter set about hooking the detonator wire to it. He stood when he finished. “All hooked up,” he announced. “Just push the plunger and up she goes.”
Hogan nodded his happiness. “Let’s get back to camp now,” he said. “We don’t want to be anywhere near here when the bridge blows.”
“It still seems a shame to …” Newkirk mumbled. He stopped abruptly as LeBeau elbowed him in the side.
“Is there a problem, Corporal?” Hogan asked icily.
“Sir, it just seems like a waste to go through all this trouble to wire the bridge and then leave it so that a horse can blow it up,” Newkirk said. The Englishman averted his eyes to avoid having to look at his commander.
Hogan sighed. “We’ve been through this before,” he said. “Once this bridge blows up, Hochstetter will more than likely be at Stalag 13 to check up on us. If we are not there, it’ll mean the end of our operation.”
“And the end of us when Hochstetter gets his hands on us,” Carter chimed in.
“But …” Newkirk stammered. He shut his mouth as Hogan fixed him with an icy glare. After a moment of silence, he finally asked, “But what if it doesn’t work out?”
Hogan smiled. “Newkirk, after all the hair-brained ideas I’ve had you have to question this one?” he asked.
The men laughed. Newkirk laughed along with them and shook his head. “You have a point there, sir,” he said.
“Good. Now let’s get go tell our helper where to find the plunger and get back to camp,” Hogan replied. He was looking at Newkirk and smiling as he purposefully avoided referring to Ed as a horse.
Chapter Five – A (Horse)Fly in the Ointment
Colonel Hogan peered into the clearing at the structures of Dietrich Glück’s farm. The barn was dark, which meant that Dietrich was in the house. But he had not come here to speak with the Underground man - No, he had come to speak with, of all things, his horse. Good, though Hogan. I’m glad Dietrich is in the house. I don’t know how much Dietrich knows about his horse, and I don’t want to feel foolish having to try to explain it! He looked at his men, who were gathered around him at the edge of the clearing.
“Are we going in?” Kinch asked.
“Carter and I will go in,” Hogan replied. “The rest of you keep watch out here. I don’t want anyone to walk in on us.”
“What about Dietrich?” the black Sergeant replied. “He is in the Underground.”
“Yes, but I didn’t come here to speak with him,” Hogan replied.
Newkirk let out a chuckle. “No, you came here to speak with his bloody pet,” he mumbled.
Hogan doubted that the Englishman could see his face, but he glared at him anyway. “That’s enough, Newkirk,” he said tightly. “Carter and I will go in and get this part of the plan rolling.”
“Sir, I could, like, go in with you,” Newkirk offered. Hogan was silent and after a brief pause, Newkirk continued. “You know, in case you need help persuadin’ the creature. After all, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Hogan heard Kinch and LeBeau try to hold back their laughter at the bad pun, but before he could reply, Carter spoke up.
“Ed is more than happy to help us,” Carter replied. “And if he’s thirsty, I’ll be glad to take him in some water.” Kinch and LeBeau laughed harder now.
“Carter!” Hogan moaned. “Just get inside the barn.”
“Yes sir,” Carter replied, and began creeping towards the barn.
“And you, Newkirk,” Hogan warned. “Can it with the horse jokes before I take you back and tie you to that bridge.” He turned before the Englishman could acknowledge the order and crept after Carter.
* * * * *
The darkness inside the barn was almost complete and Hogan could hear the horse before he was able to sense its presence.
“Hello Ed,’ Carter said softly.
“Hello, Andrew,” Ed replied. “Hello, Colonel.” As it had the previous time Hogan had heard it, Ed’s voice carried a tremor, as if he was laughing at the same time he was speaking.
“The charges are in place and ready for you,” Hogan said, getting right to the point.
“Tsk, tsk, Colonel Hogan,” Ed chided. “Didn’t your mother teach you manners? You don’t even say hello?”
“Oh, sorry,” Hogan replied sheepishly. “Hello Ed.”
“Now, you say everything is in place?” Ed continued. “Tell me where you placed the plunger.”
“I got the map right here, Colonel,” Carter said, excitedly pulling the map from his pocket.
“Just describe the location, Andrew,” Ed said softly. “I have a hard time with maps.”
“Oh, reading them?” Carter asked curiously.
“No, folding them up again,” Ed replied. Hogan could hear the playful sarcasm in his voice.
“Oh,” Carter replied. “I supposed that could be a problem.” He kicked embarrassedly at the earthen floor of the barn.
“The location?” Ed prompted again. He snorted impatiently, tail swishing with annoyance.
Carter described the spot where they had left the plunger. When he was finished, Ed nodded his head, though it was barely visible in the darkness. “I know the place,” Ed said.
“Do you think you can make it there before the train arrives?” Hogan asked.
“Of course,” Ed stated. “I run faster than you and besides …” He snorted in amusement. “The Germans aren’t on the lookout for any enemy horses.”
Hogan smiled. “No, I guess they aren’t,” he replied. “But they may be looking for new draft horses for the Eastern Front.”
“Well if they come for me,” Ed said, “I’ll tell them I’m a Four-F.”
“Four-F?” Carter asked.
“Naturally,” Ed exclaimed. “Four footed!” He whinnied with laughter.
“We’d better get out of here,” Hogan commented, fighting to hold back his laughter. “I don’t know how many more bad jokes I can take!”
“Everyone’s a critic,” Ed replied. “What do you expect out of a horse, Bob Hope?”
Hogan laughed. “You’d better get going too,” he said. “You don’t want to miss that train.”
“Consider it destroyed, Colonel,” Ed replied. Hogan and Carter turned to leave.
“Ahem, there’s something else that I think you should know,” Ed said.
Hogan stopped. “Something important?” he asked.
“Not in the grand scheme of things,” Ed replied. “But I think you’ll find it sufficiently annoying.” He lapsed into silence.
“Well?” Hogan asked impatiently.
Ed whinnied. “Now, now, Colonel,” he said. “Remember your manners!”
Hogan sighed exasperatedly – sometimes this horse could be irritating. “What is it that I should know?” Hogan asked politely.
“You’re not going to like it,” Ed commented.
“Try me,” Hogan retorted.
“Major Hochstetter plans to sell the Red Cross packages from the decoy trucks on the black market,” Ed said. “He’ll just claim they were blown up by the Underground and you won’t get them.”
“He can’t do that!” Carter exclaimed. “That’s wrong!”
“Andrew, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a war on,” Ed said with a whinny.
“You’re right, I don’t like it,” Hogan replied. “If I fell for the trap and was able to blow the decoy trucks up, Stalag 13 would be out the Red Cross packages.” He was pacing now. “If I am successful in blowing up the real convoy, I’ll still be out the Red Cross packages.”
“You need them that much?” Ed asked.
“Of course not,” Hogan said. “Blowing up that research equipment is more important. It’s just annoying to have Hochstetter be successful at anything.” The barn was silent for a moment. “Come on Carter, we’d better go.” He turned and again headed for the door.
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Colonel Hogan?” Ed asked.
Hogan stopped and let out a big sigh. “Good-bye, Ed,” he said. “I’ll remember my manners next time.”
“Manners, schmanners,” Ed replied with a snort. “I was talking about carrots!”
“Oh brother,” Hogan sighed. “Carter, give him the carrots you brought.”
* * * * *
Major Hochstetter was slightly uncomfortable and very bored crouched in the back of a truck bearing Red Cross markings. His legs throbbed and his back ached, but if everything went off as he had planned, the discomfort would be well worth it.
had been simple … bait the trap and wait for the mouse to arrive.
continued to smile to himself in the darkness inside the truck. He had been
very careful. Only he and his aide, Captain Scheiner,
knew that the real convoy was due to pass over the
At that moment, Hochstetter’s thoughts were interrupted when he heard the sound of an explosion. His head jerked up and he began scanning the clearing. “What was that?” he whispered harshly.
“It sounded like an explosion, Major,” replied the Corporal beside him in the truck.
“I know that,” Hochstetter growled in annoyance.
“It didn’t sound close,” the Corporal observed, oblivious to Hochstetter’s annoyance. “In fact, it sounded like it came from the East,” the Corporal went on.
did not reply. The
East? What could blow up East of here? A sudden image hit him and he screamed. “The
“How do you know, Major?” the Corporal asked. “It could be anything.”
“It is the bridge,” Hochstetter insisted, “I know it’s the bridge. Damn! He knew … Somehow he knew!”
“Who knew, Major?” the Corporal asked. “Knew what?” he added after a moment.
Ignoring the question, Hochstetter scrambled out of the truck, hitting the ground awkwardly and falling to his knees. He quickly scrambled up, screaming. “Raus! Everybody … Raus. Get in the trucks and get ready to go!”
“Are we going to the bridge?” the Corporal asked, appearing at Hochstetter’s side and still not understanding why the Major was ranting.
“No,” Hochstetter growled. “We’re going to Stalag 13 to check on my mouse.”
The Corporal didn’t know how to respond to this, so he kept quiet. He had only been with the Hammelburg Gestapo a few months, but the first thing he had learned is that it was never a bad thing to keep his mouth shut around Major Hochstetter.
* * * * *
“Trucks just pulled into camp, mon Colonel,” LeBeau said from his post at the sink. He had the faucet lifted up and was looking out into the compound through the periscope that they had placed in the water barrel outside. “Three of them.”
“Right on time,” Hogan said, clapping his hands. “Everyone get into position … quickly and quietly. Hochstetter will come here looking for me first.”
scrambled through the darkened barracks to their bunks as Hogan retreated to
his office and closed the door. After removing his cap, he quickly wrapped
himself in his bathrobe and stood waiting by the door. Unless he misjudged
Hochstetter – and he had rarely been wrong about the Major – he would barge
into the barracks hoping to find Hogan missing. Hogan would show himself and a
frustrated Hochstetter would take his men and hurry out to the
Hogan heard the door to the barracks slam open and saw the light come on through the cracks around the door. He also heard his men begin to protest.
“Hey! Who turned on the lights?”
“Can’t a bloke get any bloody sleep around this place?”
“It can’t be time for roll call already. Janette and I hadn’t finished our date!”
Hogan heard several loud slams and felt the barracks shudder.
“Hey, watch it! My head is next to that bedpost!”
Hogan knew it was time to get out there before Hochstetter began to bully his men around. He took a deep breath and opened his office door. “All right fellas,” he said, presenting a large phony yawn to everyone in the room. “Turn the lights out. You know how nasty old Klink gets when we don’t follow the rules.”
“We had the lights out, Colonel,” Newkirk complained.
“Hogan! What are you doing here?” Hochstetter growled in surprise.
It was hard for Hogan to hold back his smile. “I live here, Major,” he replied calmly. “What are you doing here?”
Hochstetter grunted. “I ask the questions,” he said. “I don’t answer them.”
Before Hogan could respond, Klink hurried into the barracks, followed by an out of breath Schultz. “What is going on here?” the Kommandant asked, looking around the room in annoyance. Seeing Hochstetter, he added, “Major Hochstetter, what are you doing here?”
“He asks the questions, Kommandant,” Hogan replied glibly. “He doesn’t answer them.”
Klink glared at the American until Hochstetter’s yelling jolted him.
“Klink!” Hochstetter screamed. “Are all of your prisoners here?”
“Major Hochstetter, there has never been a successful …” Klink began.
“Ja, ja,” Hochstetter interrupted impatiently. “Are all of your prisoners here?”
“I assure you that all of the prisoners are here,” Klink replied. He leaned back to Shultz and whispered, “Schultz, count the men and make sure they are all here.”
“But Kommandant,” Schultz protested, “you just said they were all here.”
“Schultz!” Klink yelled impatiently.
“Klink!” Hochstetter screamed.
Hogan cleared his throat. “Ahem. Now that we’ve got the names straight, can we turn the lights out and get back to sleep?” he asked.
Hochstetter brushed the suggestion aside. “Hogan, where have you been all evening?” he asked.
“Major Hochstetter!” Klink exclaimed.
“Klink! Shut up! I want to hear what Hogan has to say,” Hochstetter warned. “Well Hogan?”
Hogan smiled. “I’ve been here, of course,” he replied. “It was Parcheesi night tonight. Carter won.”
“I did?” Carter asked before getting elbowed in the side by Newkirk. “Oh yes, I did.”
“There you go,” Hogan said cheerily.
Hochstetter uttered. “What if I told you that right before I came here there
was an explosion in the direction of the
“An explosion?” Klink gasped. “That’s terrible!”
“Quiet, Kommandant,” Hogan said. “I want to hear what the Major has to say.” He crossed his arms and ignored Klink’s angry glare. “Am I to believe that as soon as you heard the explosion you came right here to Stalag 13?”
“I believe it,” Carter said suddenly, earning a nasty glare from Hogan and another poke in the side from Newkirk.
“Oh?” Hochstetter said, walking over to the American Sergeant. “And why is that?”
Carter shuffled his feet uncomfortably. “Ah, well,” he stammered. “It makes sense, actually.”
“Carter,” Hogan warned.
Hochstetter began to smile. “Sergeant, perhaps you can tell me why it makes sense,” he said.
Carter continued to look uncomfortable. “Well, the way I see it,” he began, “when there are explosions, it usually means there are explosives around. And when there are explosives around, people tend to get scared and run to the safest place.” He paused, looking blankly at Hogan. Hogan could see a slight twinkle in his eye. “And, you can call Stalag 13 anything you want, but I know that it’s pretty safe here.” He finished and gave Hochstetter a broad smile.
Hochstetter was speechless, letting the meaning of Carter’s explanation sink in. After a moment, he said, “Are you implying that I am here because I am afraid?”
“Why else would you run here first?” Carter asked innocently.
Hochstetter stayed silent, his breath coming more and more rapidly.
“Herr Kommandant,” Schultz said suddenly. “All prisoners present and accounted for.”
Hochstetter continued to glare silently at Hogan.
“You’re welcome to stay, Major Hochstetter,” Hogan said with a smile. “But all our bunks are full at the moment, so you and your men will have to sleep on the floor.”
“Bah!” screamed Hochstetter as he stomped from the barracks.
* * * * *
“The trucks are through the gate,” LeBeau said, looking through the periscope. “And Klink is heading back to his quarters.” He dropped the faucet back into position and hurried over to the rest of the men.
“Good,” Hogan said. “You, Carter and Newkirk get going. You know what to do – get into Gestapo Headquarters and get those scientists. Bring them back here when you are finished.”
The three men nodded.
“Kinch, you’re with me,” Hogan continued.
“I am?” Kinch asked in surprise. “What are we doing?”
“We’re going to try to take as many of those Red Cross packages from Hochstetter as we can,” Hogan replied.
* * * * *
Ed stood in the road watching the wreckage of the bridge smolder on the rocks below. The destruction had been easy. Rather than cross the bridge one at a time, the trucks had all bunched together and were in the middle of the bridge when Ed set off the charges. He had been surprised by the huge fireball that erupted and guessed that one of the trucks had been carrying rocket fuel.
Ed swished his tail impatiently. Come on, Hochstetter. I’m a busy horse – I can’t wait here all night. His ears twitched and he turned his head to look down the road. “It’s about time,” he muttered as he saw the headlights appear in the distance.
* * * * *
sat impatiently in the front seat of the lead truck with his feet pressed to
the floorboards as if that would propel the truck faster down the road. He was
not happy at the turn of events. Every moment that passed made him think that
his plan was unraveling on him. Nobody had made an attempt on the decoy trucks
and when he had rushed to Stalag 13 after hearing the explosion, Hogan had been
in camp. And now … he cringed, hating to think what he would find when he
As they drew near the bridge, Hochstetter became aware of a figure standing in the road in the distance. “What’s that up ahead?” he asked.
The driver squinted into the darkness. “It looks like a …” he started. “Major, I can’t be sure, but it looks like a horse!”
“A horse?” Hochstetter gasped. He looked harder at the figure. “It is a horse!” As they drew nearer, recognition dawned on him. “That horse! What is that horse doing here?”
“It looks like he’s standing in the middle of the road,” the driver replied.
“Shut up, you fool,” Hochstetter growled. As the truck continued down the road, the horse suddenly reared on his hind legs and began sprinting towards them. “Now what is he doing?” Hochstetter asked in surprise.
“He’s heading right toward us!” the driver exclaimed, clutching harder on the steering wheel. “We’re going to hit him!” There was panic in the driver’s voice. At the last minute, he slammed his foot on the brake pedal and the truck slid and swerved off the side of the road.
As Hochstetter tumbled out of the door, he thought he heard a laughing voice say “Never play chicken with a horse!”
Chapter Six – Hochstetter is a Horse’s … well, you know
“What exactly are we going to do?” Kinch asked as he crouched beside Hogan at the edge of the clearing. In front of them sat a lone German truck, which presumably held the Red Cross packages being used as Hochstetter’s decoy. The truck was dark and the clearing was silent.
“I honestly don’t know yet, Kinch,” Hogan admitted. “I want those Red Cross packages away from Hochstetter.”
Kinch nodded. “Do you think he left anyone here to guard the truck?” he asked.
“You read my mind,” Hogan replied. “I guess we’d better find out.” He felt around on the ground until he found a rock the size of a baseball. “Get ready to hightail it out of here.” He stood and quickly threw the rock towards the truck and ducked back down again. They heard the rock slam against the front fender and then … nothing.
“I guess there’s nobody home,” Kinch said.
“It looks that way,” Hogan agreed. They sat still for another moment before Hogan began to smile. “Why don’t we just help ourselves to the truck and drive it on out of here.” He stood and began walking slowly towards the truck.
“Sure beats walking,” Kinch replied.
When they reached the truck, Hogan quickly checked the back. “Paydirt!” he exclaimed. “Our Red Cross packages and nobody here to guard them. Let’s get this thing out of here.” He hurried towards the driver’s side door.
“This is easier than I thought,” Kinch said happily as he climbed into the passenger seat.
Hogan punched the starter and the engine began grinding, but didn’t catch. Hogan pumped the gas and pulled the choke and tried again – still nothing. “I guess not that easy,” he muttered.
Kinch hopped out and hurried towards the front of the truck to check the engine.
“Find anything?” Hogan asked after a moment.
Kinch appeared by the driver door wiping his hands on his black clothes. “It’s more what I didn’t find, Colonel,” he said somberly. “All the spark plug wires are missing.”
“Damn!” Hogan swore. “They really did intend for this truck to be a decoy.”
“What’ll we do with the packages?” Kinch asked.
Hogan sighed. “Let’s get them out of the truck for now,” he replied. “Once they’re all out, maybe we can begin stashing them around the woods.”
“We’re gonna stash this entire truckload in the woods?” Kinch asked.
Hogan smiled. “Why not?”
* * * * *
stared at the smoldering wreckage of what used to be the
“The bridge was blown up, sir,” replied the Corporal who was driving his truck.
Hochstetter glared at the Corporal. “Your extremely annoying habit of pointing out the obvious is going to earn you a one way ticket to the Russian Front,” he growled.
“Major Hochstetter!” called a voice from the woods.
Hochstetter turned towards the voice and saw one of his men running towards him with something in his hands. “What is it?” he called.
“I found this in the woods,” the man replied breathlessly, coming to a halt in front of Hochstetter and the Corporal. “There was a wire leading from this towards the bridge.”
Hochstetter took the wreckage and looked it over. “This is a detonator plunger,” he said. “Was it in this condition when you found it? It looks like it was stepped on.”
The man nodded. “Ja, it was this crumpled,” he replied. “And in the soft ground all around it there were hoof prints.”
“Hoof prints?” Hochstetter asked sharply. “What kind of hoof prints?”
“They looked like horses hooves,” the man replied.
Hochstetter was silent as he looked over the remains of the plunger. “Impossible,” he muttered.
The driver looked at Hochstetter curiously. “Sir?” he asked.
Hochstetter ignored him and continued to finger the plunger. “That horse couldn’t have blown up the bridge,” be mumbled. “It’s just impossible.”
“Should I keep looking for evidence?” Hochstetter’s man asked.
Hochstetter shook his head as if trying to revive himself. “What?” Oh, ja, ja – keep searching the woods. Schnell!”
As the man ran off into the woods, Hochstetter continued to mumble, “Impossible.”
* * * * *
Kinch picked up another box and handed it out the truck to a waiting Hogan. As he let go of the package, they both heard a rustling in the woods nearby. “Colonel,” Kinch whispered sharply.
“Shhhh,” Hogan ordered. “Get ready.”
“Ready?” Kinch shot back. “Ready for what?”
Hogan waved him to silence and ducked into the darkness below the truck. The rustling continued and soon two uniformed figures emerged slowly from the woods.
“Colonel?” on of the figures said in a voice barely above a whisper.
Hogan emerged slowly from beneath the truck. “Carter? Newkirk? What are you doing here?” he asked.
The two figures hurried across the clearing to the truck. “We thought you might need some help,” Newkirk said when they arrived.
“Where’s LeBeau?” Hogan asked.
“He’s taking the scientists back to camp,” Carter replied. He looked at the pile of boxes on the ground beside the truck. “What’s all this?”
“The Krauts took the spark plug wires to the truck,” Kinch replied. “So we’re unloading it.”
Newkirk opened his mouth to speak but was drowned out by Carter’s sudden gasp. “I hear something coming down the road!”
Everyone stood still. They could hear the noise – a rhythmic thumping along with a constant creak.
“That’s the strangest sounding car I’ve ever heard,” Newkirk whispered.
Carter cocked his head to listen harder. “That’s not a car,” he said. “It sounds like a wagon … and footsteps!”
“Footsteps? Wagon?” Hogan wondered. “Dietrich and his wagon? What’s he doing out this time of night?” He scrambled over to the road in time to see Ed emerge from the darkness pulling the farm wagon with Dietrich sitting on the seat.
The German was surprised to see Hogan. “Colonel Hogan, what are you doing here?” he asked.
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Hogan replied. “It’s kind of late to be out riding.”
“I know,” Dietrich replied as the rest of Hogan’s men gathered around. “It’s this horse. He was rather insistent that I hitch him up and go.”
“Oh?” Hogan replied, looking at Ed. “He told you he wanted to take a walk?” Ed snorted loudly.
Dietrich laughed. “You might say that,” he replied. “Actually, he made such a racket outside my door tonight that he woke me up. When I came out, he practically pushed me over to the wagon. So I hitched him up and let him go and we ended up here.”
“And it’s a good thing too,” Hogan said. “If we load your wagon up with these boxes, can you take them somewhere to hide them?”
“I can do that,” Dietrich replied. “What am I hauling?”
“Red Cross packages,” Hogan replied. “Hochstetter is going to try to sell them on the Black Market and we would rather he not do that.”
Dietrich nodded. “I have a perfect place to hide them on my land,” he said. “There is a small cave that I can put them.”
“Good,” Hogan said, rubbing his hands together. “Come on fellas, let’s get this wagon loaded!”
As Dietrich climbed down from the wagon and hurried to help the men load the wagon, Hogan walked over to stand beside Ed.
“Hello, Colonel Hogan,” Ed whispered. “I thought you might need some help.”
“How did you know I would be here?” Hogan asked.
Ed whinnied playfully – a gesture that Hogan was beginning to interpret as a laugh. “Colonel, I knew you weren’t going to allow Hochstetter to sell your Red Cross packages,” he replied.
Hogan chuckled. “Well, this wagon is going to be a lifesaver,” he said. “The Krauts disabled the truck so we couldn’t drive it away.”
“Mr. Ed’s Trucking Service,” Ed replied. “We bring the wagon to you.” He snorted and bobbed his head with amusement.
laughed. “If we pull this off, I’ll recommend that
“Forget the medal,” Ed said. “Where would I pin it?”
Hogan stifled a laugh as the men arrived with the first load of boxes. After they had placed them on the truck and left for more, Ed continued. “If you really want to do something for me,” Ed said, and paused.
“Yes?” Hogan prompted.
“Could you give me a scratch behind my left ear?” Ed snorted.
Hogan laughed and reached up to scratch the horse behind the ears. “You’re high maintenance, you know that?” Hogan chided.
Ed whinnied playfully. “But I’m worth every bit of it!”
* * * * *
Hogan let out a sigh of relief as he watched the wagon disappear into the darkness. “Well, that’s done,” he said.
“I wonder what Hochstetter will say when he discovers that the Red Cross packages have been taken,” Carter said.
“Knowing him, it’ll be something like heads will roll!” Newkirk exclaimed.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I would rather have this discussion back in camp,” Kinch commented.
“I agree,” Hogan said. “We’ve had enough excitement for one night. Let’s go.”
* * * * *
It was right after roll call the next morning when Hochstetter rolled into camp. Hogan was still in formation with his men as they watched the staff car drive through the main gate and come to a stop in front of Klink’s office. Schultz quickly dismissed the prisoners and waddled over to the car, arriving right behind the Kommandant.
Hogan stood where he was, watching the proceedings. Hochstetter emerged from the staff car followed by another officer.
“Colonel, that’s Captain Sheiner, Hochstetter’s aide,” LeBeau said.
“You think he’ll recognize you?” Hogan asked.
LeBeau shrugged and Newkirk said, “Hard to say, Colonel.”
“Let’s not take any chances,” Hogan said. “You men get lost. Kinch, stay here and wait – I’m going to have a little fun with the Major.” He walked over to the staff car, arriving in time to hear Hochstetter mention the missing Red Cross packages. “Good morning, Major,” he said brightly. “Did you find the source of your explosion last night?”
replied warily. “The
“Really?” Hogan replied. “You Germans ought to learn to take better care of your bridges.” He pulled a chocolate bar from his inside coat pocket and began to unwrap it. “My mother was always telling me if you can’t take better care of your toys, you shan’t be allowed to have any.” He took a bite of the chocolate bar. “She was always telling me that.” He stopped and looked at the chocolate bar and then back at Hochstetter. “I’m sorry. I would offer you one but this is my last until the Red Cross packages arrive.”
Hochstetter sneered. “I would save that one if I were you, Hogan,” he said. “You’re in for a long wait for the packages.”
“Oh?” Hogan asked as he took another bite of the chocolate bar. “Why’s that?”
“They were stolen last night,” Hochstetter replied bitterly. “Along with some other things.” Hogan saw him glare at Captain Sheiner.
“Probably someone who wants to sell them on the Black Market,” Hogan said, taking another bite.
Hochstetter said nothing as he glared at Hogan.
Hogan tried to suppress the smile as he continued to eat his chocolate. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dietrich’s wagon appear at the main gate.
Klink saw the wagon as well. “It’s that farmer again,” he muttered. He began waving his arms at the guards manning the main gate. “Send them away!” he yelled.
Hochstetter turned to see what Klink was waving at and saw the wagon. “It’s that horse again,” he exclaimed. “Don’t let them get away!”
Klink immediately resumed waving his arms frantically. “Don’t send them away, you dummkopfs! Bring them in here!”
The men were silent while Dietrich guided the wagon through the gate and stopped in front of them.
“Where were you last night?” Hochstetter demanded.
“You think he stole our Red Cross packages?” Hogan exclaimed.
“Nein!” Hochstetter screamed. “I saw that horse last night by the Reinsdorf Bridge. And hoof prints were found beside the detonator plunger.”
Dietrich began to stammer until he caught sight of Hogan shaking his head slightly.
“Major, are you trying to say that this horse blew up that bridge last night?” Hogan asked. He started to laugh. “I’ve heard of some crazy ideas in my time, but this one takes the cake!” He continued to laugh as he walked over to Ed. “Hey you, horse, did you blow up that bridge last night?”
Ed snorted and bobbed his head up and down.
“Well, it seems that you’ve caught your saboteur, Major Hochstetter,” Klink said seriously.
Hogan continued to laugh. “And did you take the Red Cross packages that Major Hochstetter said were stolen last night?” Hogan asked.
Ed snorted again as he bobbed his head up and down.
“There you go,” Hogan said. “Did anything else happen last night?”
was staring dumbfounded at Ed. “Well there were those scientists that were
kidnapped from under the nose of Captain Sheiner
here,” he muttered. “Wait a minute – this is crazy!” He shook his finger at
Hogan. “Do you realize what would happen if I reported to
“You’d get a commendation,” Hogan said.
“I’d get transferred to the Russian Front!” Hochstetter screamed.
Hogan looked thoughtful for a moment. “You do have a point there,” he said. “There must be some other explanation for the bridge being blown up and the scientists disappearing.”
Hochstetter continued to stare at Ed. “But only Captain Sheiner and I knew the plans,” he said. Suddenly he stopped and wheeled on Captain Sheiner. “You! Only you knew the whole plan. There was never anyone around when we talked about it.”
Captain Sheiner took a step backwards and began shaking his head violently. “I assure you, Major,” he said. “I didn’t … That horse,” he said suddenly, pointing at Ed. “That horse was around when we talked.”
“Do you expect me to believe that the horse overheard our plans and then managed to somehow communicate those plans to the Underground?” Hochstetter screamed. “What is this, a talking horse?”
Ed snorted and began bobbing his head up and down. Hogan had to turn away because he could not keep the smile off his face.
“Captain Sheiner, I’ll have your head for this!” Hochstetter continued. “Get in that car … now!” Hochstetter gave the Captain a shove towards the car.
“Major Hochstetter?” Hogan asked. When Hochstetter turned around, he continued, “Don’t you want to take the horse too?”
Hochstetter was silent and Hogan actually saw his face turn red with anger. “BAH!” he screamed and hurried into the car.
As the car drive away, Hogan couldn’t help but laugh.
“Hochstetter is such a dummkopf,” Klink said as he watched the car disappear through the main gate. “Imagine thinking that this horse was smart enough to blow up a bridge.”
“I don’t know,” Hogan said thoughtfully. “I think he’s smarter than you think.”
“Please, Hogan, don’t make me laugh,” Klink replied. “You’re not going to tell me that this horse is that smart.”
“No,” Hogan replied. “I’d prefer to let him tell you himself.” He looked up at Dietrich and winked.
Klink laughed. “Hogan, you’re as crazy as Hochstetter!”
“And you’re almost as smart,” Ed said quickly.
Klink whirled around and stared at Ed, who looked back at him placidly. “Hogan, did you hear that?” he asked.
“Hear what?” Hogan replied.
“That horse talked!” Klink stammered.
“And look who’s calling who crazy!” Hogan said, starting to laugh.
Klink continued to stare at Ed in disbelief. After a while, Ed raised his head and curled his upper lip, exposing his large front teeth. He bobbed his head up and down and stamped his front foot.
“Kommandant, I do believe he’s laughing at you!” Hogan said. He continued laughing as he headed back towards the barracks.
Text and original characters copyright 2006 by Jeff Evans
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.