Game Preempted
Margaret Bryan, Patti Hutchins

Papa Bear Awards 20032003 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Comedy

Papa Bear Awards 20032003 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Challenge - Holiday Challenge

This effort was instigated by another challenge, or maybe we should say a suggestion, to continue with Hogan’s Heroes’ Holiday based fan fiction. We again do not make any claims on the original Hogan’s Heroes’ characters. All other characters are ours. But again, those characters are free for anyone to use, if you so choose. Our rating for this story would be G. Thanks to both Kits and Bianca for Beta-ing this, its much better now.

Wearin’ of the Green -- Um, Shoes

Leprechauns are solitary creatures avoiding contact with mortals and other leprechauns. They pour all of their passion into the concentration of carefully making shoes. A leprechaun can always be found with a shoe in one hand and a hammer in the other.

Leprechauns also guard the fairies' treasures. They must prevent its theft by mortals. They, alone, remember when the marauding Danes landed in Ireland and where they hid their treasure. Although, they hide the treasures well, the presence of a rainbow alerts mortals to the whereabouts of gold hordes. This causes the leprechaun great anxiety---for no matter how fast he moves his pot of gold, he never can get away from rainbows.

Neuendorf, Germany, Gorsheim Orphanage, March 12, 1944, 2300 Hours

Michael O’Keefe a.k.a. Fritz Oppenheimer was getting ready to return to Ireland, his homeland. He had spent close to a year in Germany infiltrating the Hitler Youth Movement and gathering information. His small 4-foot 10-inch frame, as well as his fluent German, had been enough to convince the Nazis that he was a 14-year-old German child and not a 24-year-old Irishman.

Early on, Michael O'Keefe’s assignment had led him to the Gorsheim Orphanage. His cover story had been one of great sadness. Both of his parents had been tragically killed in an air raid. He had told the orphanage staff that he had struggled for over a month on his own, before he had sought refuge at the orphanage. It was then, after moving in and meeting the other children, that he willingly and whole-heartedly embraced the Hitler Youth Movement.

O’Keefe’s alter ego, ‘Fritz Oppenheimer’, had gotten some flack for not having been involved with the movement at a younger age, as ten was the age when children were expected to first be exposed to the movement. It didn’t take long though for his enthusiasm to leave those accusations behind. In the past eleven months, O’Keefe had amassed a lot of information about the Hitler Youth organization and it’s impact of the youth of this country. He passed all of the information back to London through a contact in the Hammelburg area.

Now, O'Keefe's time had run out. The orphanage’s annual physicals were scheduled for next week. It jus’ isna worth th’ effort ta make up‘n excuse fer not havin’ grown even an inch in th’ past year. It would only a caused a battery of medic’l tests. Not quite wha’ ah need ta go through, as me cover could easily b’ blown. Me assignment 'ere had been only fer a year anyway. And ah've already bin at it close ta eleven months. Ah'm ready ta go home -- more than ready. Ah miss me wife an’ son. Ah know itsa bin hard on ‘em, me bein’ gone soo long. Its bin hard fer me not bein’ able ta contact ‘em a’ all. Thank ye God! -- It’ll be ovr’ wit’ soon. Ah’ll be home, this time fer good.

So O'Keefe's plan was to head out tonight for a meeting with Papa Bear’s underground operatives, who would be able to start him on his way back to London, and then finally home to Ireland. He’d been given the location of a safe house in Hammelburg. It would take him a few days to traverse the countryside from Neuendorf to Hammelburg on foot, especially if the frigid temperatures that had plagued the area recently continued. But his spirit was buoyed by thoughts of truly going home.

Ah canna wait ta see th' rollin' emeral’ green ‘ills of Ireland. Ah've bin away so long. It'll be a blessin' ta b’ home a’ last.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Senior POW Officer’s Quarters, March 13, 1944, 0600 Hours

Colonel Robert Hogan, the Senior POW Officer, had gotten a report of two more cases of mild frostbite this morning. It had been horribly cold for the last two weeks. Sergeant Wilson, the camp’s medic, warned the Colonel that he could only expect more cases if the weather didn’t improve soon. A lot of the POWs had been complaining that they didn’t have the proper clothing to deal with the extreme cold and that their worn boots weren’t enough to keep their feet warm. It was especially bad for those men that had been here since even before Colonel Hogan’s arrival at Stalag 13. No one, up until this point, has ever really complained seriously about the cold before. It’s always been little more than a nuisance, but the past couple of weeks have been bad. Colder than I have ever remembered it being here. It's starting to take a toll on the men. Wilson has been able to keep on top of this so far and says that the cases have been fairly mild. At least at this point anyway. All I can say is… Thank God that winter’s almost over.

Hogan had been in and out of Kommandant Klink’s office everyday for the last two weeks, badgering the Kommandant to requisition more cold weather gear for the POWs, especially the boots. The only things that had arrived were more socks and gloves. That had helped to alleviate some of the immediate problems, but the boots were even more of an issue. Even if the weather warmed up, his men were still going to need new boots. Between the work details and just walking for that matter, they were going to have problems without decent footwear.

But now with five cases of frostbite in the past few days, Hogan knew that something more had to be done. I know Kommandant Klink has made the requisitions. I've seen the paperwork and Kinch has monitored the phone calls he's made to the supply depot. He's always been more than a little frugal, but generally not when the possibility of a serious health risk to my men was concerned. The Kommandant has pretty much come through with the supplies that we've needed in that regard. Granted badgering helps, but it hasn't worked this time. Why should I be surprised that nothing has come through? I know better than to expect the German government to actually worry about us.

What if I contact London and ask them for a shipment of boots? I'm sure they would send them. But how am I supposed to explain a truckload of new boots to Klink? Well until I find an answer, I'll do the next best thing... I'll coerce Klink into more wood for the stoves, more blankets, and no roll calls... At least, I hope I can.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Kommandant’s Office, March 13, 1944, 0730 Hours

Kommandant Klink looked up from the papers on his desk as Sergeant Shultz entered his office. Shultz approached the Kommandant’s desk and saluted, "Sergeant Shultz reporting as ordered, sir."

Klink returned the salute and asked, "Shultz. The supply trucks were to arrive late last night. Did they? Were the requested supplies available?"

"No sir. The trucks did not come last night," Shultz replied quietly. "And sir. You should know that Sergeant Wilson reported two more cases of frostbite to Colonel Hogan this morning. That makes it five in the past few days sir. Is there anything that we can do for the prisoners? It is hard to see them suffer so. If it gets worse many could loose a toe, or even a foot."

"I know, Shultz. But there is little we can do if the requested supplies do not come," Klink replied sharing Shultz’s concern, though he could not openly voice it.

Shultz sighed heavily, shaking his head sadly. "Ja Herr Kommandant."

"Very well Sergeant. Dismissed," the Kommandant said quickly and watched as Shultz left the office. I will have to again listen to Hogan’s complaints this morning. Although this time, he does have a legitimate complaint. This situation is worse than just the familiar annoyances that he’s forever complaining about. The problem is that I have no immediate solution. I can only hope the weather improves.

Just as Colonel Klink finished that thought, Colonel Hogan barged in his office door and stated emphatically, "Colonel. We have to talk. This situation is getting out of hand. I’ve had five men come down with frostbite in the past few days. I know the supply trucks were due last night. So I want to know where the supplies are that my men need." Hogan had barely taken a breath during that tirade. He hadn’t intended to come in and yell at the Kommandant, but his mood had deteriorated quickly as he traipsed across the compound, fighting the frigid cold.

Klink stood to face the American Colonel. "You are not to address me in that manner Colonel Hogan," the Kommandant said glaring at him. "Do you understand?"

Hogan had to swallow back an angry response. What are you doing, stupid? Getting Klink mad isn’t going to help this situation. Hogan just nodded at the German Colonel.

Colonel Klink continued, "I’m sorry Colonel Hogan, but the supply trucks never arrived last night. I have no control over their arrival. The request for the needed supplies has been made. All we can do now is wait."

Hogan still angry replied, "Wait. That’s all we’ve been doing is waiting. Shultz tells me that the weather isn’t expected to improve either, at least not in the next week or so. I can’t have more men get sick Colonel. I don’t want to live through anything like last year’s pneumonia outbreak. So far, it hasn’t come to that. But I need to stop this before it gets worse." Colonel Hogan sighed and averted his eyes from the German Colonel. After a brief moment he returned his gaze and then continued, "I’m sorry Colonel Klink. This situation is just getting to me." Hogan paused, sighed again and then said somewhat conspiratorially, "But I do have an idea. Can we maybe... work out a deal?"

"What kind of deal?" asked the Kommandant skeptically. Damn the man. Hogan always seems to have something up his sleeve. He is forever playing games. I have never completely trusted him. And yet, I let him continue with his games. I do have to admit though, that many times, Hogan’s ‘deals’ have benefited both of us.

"Colonel Klink," Hogan began. "As soon as the weather warms up, I can get the men to perform routine maintenance on all of the camp’s buildings and the surrounding grounds. All I ask in return is that for now, until the weather breaks, you let us have extra wood for the stoves and extra blankets. I would also request that roll calls be done inside. That way the men can conserve energy and stay warm," Hogan explained. "That should get us through this crisis and I promise not to make any inquiries into the nonexistent supplies. Except… that I still feel that the new boots are a necessity, independent of the other missing weather related supplies."

Kommandant Klink sat back down in his chair contemplating the American Colonel’s offer. He could feel Hogan’s eyes bear down on him as he thought through the proposal. So… Hogan isn’t asking for anything that I truly can’t supply from within this camp. And he’s offering to help keep the Stalag in working order. What a strange balance of power we share? As long as I don’t have to explain any of it to Berlin, it really doesn’t matter to me. Funny. Hogan seems to know that too. "Okay Hogan. We have a deal. I’ll have Shultz make the arrangements. I can count on you to keep your part of the deal, Colonel?"

"You can, Colonel. I promise," Hogan replied. He saluted Colonel Klink and left the office. Damn. I’ll be so glad when the day comes that I can stuff this ‘balance of power’ in Klink’s face. -- Knock it off Hogan. -- Klink and Shultz are the only thing keeping you and your men alive and in business. -- Yeah, I know. -- I guess they don’t deserve getting it shoved in their faces. -- I hope the war ends before I have to admit what we’ve been doing here.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Senior POW Officer’s Quarters, March 15, 1944, 1230 Hours

Hogan sat at his desk quietly contemplating the past few days. There have been no new cases of frostbite. The temperature is still frigid, but the extra blankets and wood, as well as inside roll calls, have done the trick. I haven’t made any more demands of Kommandant Klink and he has continued to badger the supply depot for boots. But it just doesn’t look good. I’ll have to get them from London. I’ll have Kinch put in the request. I really need to come up with a good excuse for all the new boots. It won’t be easy to explain boots ‘Made in England’ to our beloved Kommandant.

Hogan exited his quarters only to see Captain Ian O’Malley holding up one of his boots, which had a huge hole in the toe. Hogan sighed, wanting to return to his office and hide under his bunk. But Captain O’Malley smiled when he saw his commanding officer approaching. O’Malley was in the middle of a very animated discussion of leprechauns. He had the men in barracks two, as well as Sergeant Shultz, hanging on every word. O’Malley told of the penchant that leprechauns had for making shoes and how they protected the treasures of the fairies and how you can win those treasures by catching a leprechaun. And he made sure that they knew to watch out for rainbows, as that was the one sure sign of a leprechaun’s riches being hidden nearby.

O’Malley smiled again at his commanding officer and said, "Tis too bad Colonel that we are so far from Ireland. All we would need to do is ask for help from the wee Leprechauns. And there would be many a new pair of boots for the men." Captain O’Malley gave Colonel Hogan a knowing wink and an understanding smile.

Hogan nodded his ‘thanks’ at the Irish Captain. "So true Captain, so true. If only there was a way to bring that wee bit of Ireland here to Germany."

Shultz stared up at Colonel Hogan from his seat at the center table. "Colonel Hogan… you believe in leprechauns?" he asked skeptically. I can’t believe that these two officers believe in something as silly as leprechauns. But both men sound so sincere. How very strange.

"Ah Shultz. I may be American. But my heritage is Irish. One thing you learn as an Irishman is that you never underestimate the power and magic of the wee people known as Leprechauns," Hogan said continuing the age-old tradition of pushing Shultz’s buttons. "If there was a way for me to ask for their help, I would."

Hogan paused as his anger with this situation overwhelmed him. His mood became dark and dangerous. "Hell. It certainly would be easier than waiting on the goddamn Germans to supply us with boots," he said still making eye contact with Shultz.

Shultz just shook his head sadly and left the barracks quickly, without saying another word. I try to make peace with these men. Most of the time it works. It just seems to bother me more when Colonel Hogan slams the door on my efforts. I’m sure his belittling of Germans is not meant as a personal insult to me. I know he’s got his men’s well being to think of. But it still surprises me, when he says things like that, so menacingly.

Colonel Hogan sighed as he watched Shultz leave. What? -- Are you a jerk? -- The one German in the place that has always treated the men decently and you jump down his throat, heaving insults. "Shultz. Wait a minute," Hogan said as he caught up to the rotund guard after following him out of the barracks. Hogan put his hands on the older man’s shoulder. "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to take my frustrations with this situation out on you. Will you accept my apology? I’m really sorry."

Shultz smiled slightly at Colonel Hogan and said quietly. "Of course, Colonel Hogan. Of course. I understand." Then Shultz said nothing more and walked away from the Senior POW Officer.

Hammelburg, Germany, Tunnel under Barracks Two, March 15, 1944, 2030 Hours

Kinch had just received confirmation from London for the boot drop. The drop would take place tomorrow at midnight. It still amazes me. The Colonel can ask for almost anything and London doesn’t seem to balk at all. Granted we’ve done good work here. They owe us something. Only problem with this drop is that the Colonel hasn't yet come up with a plan for telling the Kommandant about the boots. He'll think of something. He always does. Well, at the very least, the boots will be here.

Kinch looked up from his musings to see Colonel Hogan descend the ladder from barracks two. More than likely he was here to wait for Newkirk and Carter. Word had come in from Hermann Schlick earlier in the day that he had a visitor for them. Newkirk and Carter had gone out of camp to meet the visitor -- a returning underground agent. But they were now late coming back.

"Any word from London about the boots, Kinch?" asked Hogan as he entered the radio room.

"Yes sir. Just now. The boots will be dropped tomorrow at midnight," Kinch replied.

"Good. Good," the Colonel said rather distracted. "What's taking Newkirk and Carter so long? They should have been back 30 minutes ago." Hogan began to pace. "This has got me worried. Usually we know in advance of a returning agent. We never heard about this guy until this morning. I don't like this."

"Newkirk and Carter can take care of themselves sir," Kinch assured. "Don't worry."

"If they're not back in another 30 minutes, LeBeau and I will go out looking for them," Hogan stated evenly.

"Yes sir," Kinch started to say, but was interrupted by the sound of three voices. Laughing?

Colonel Hogan had heard the same laughter and was now staring intently down the tunnel extension. What's going on here? It was then that Newkirk, Carter and a third man -- or boy? -- entered the radio room.

Newkirk was still smiling as he approached Colonel Hogan. He quickly introduced their new guest. "Colonel Hogan. This is Michael O'Keefe. He's been on detached service from British Intelligence," Newkirk said evenly.

"Mr. O'Keefe," Hogan said reaching out -- and down -- to shake the hand of their diminutive guest. "Welcome to Stalag 13. Please make yourself comfortable. We'll have you processed and on your way back to London soon."

O’Keefe grasped the American Colonel’s hand. "Thank ye Colonel Hogan. Ah must say. Ah wasna expecting ta find meself in a pris'n camp. Quite an ingenious set-up, ye have 'ere. Yes indeedie," O'Keefe said smiling and for the first time in eleven months, using his best Irish brogue. It feels so good. Michael noticed that the good Colonel was somewhat speechless. Bloody ‘ell. It 'appens all th’ time. Ah should be used ta it by now.

"Well Colonel, Ah guess ya be want’n an explanation," Michael continued after indicating his small stature with his hand. "Me assignment was ta infiltrate th' Hitler Youth movement. Ah've just spent th' las' eleven months as an 14-year-old German child, gathering all the information ah could on th' movement. Ah'm truly a 24-year-old intelligence operator straight from County Mayo."

Hogan came out of his funk. "I'm sorry Mr. O'Keefe. Please forgive my behavior. That must have been a difficult assignment. Eleven months undercover and posing as a child. I hope that the information gathered makes it all worthwhile. You don't have anything to worry about now. You are as good as home. Please make yourself comfortable," Hogan said as he left the radio room to return to his quarters. He again heard laughter as he reached the barrack’s entrance. This time he heard Kinch laughing as well. Wow this guy has certainly won my men over quickly.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Senior POW Officer’s Quarters, March 16, 1944, 0330 Hours

Colonel Hogan was lying wide-awake on his bunk. He'd not been able to sleep all night. He had the wildest idea running around in his head. An idea so outlandish it might just work. It might just make the appearance of the new boots plausible. The idea had come to him as he stood talking to their new visitor last evening. No Hogan. This plan is too crazy… even for you. But if we can just convince Klink and Shultz… That's all we need to do. Of course, if I decide to go with this plan… I will need to get help from our visitor, Michael O'Keefe. At least he has experience as an agent. I won't be just asking a civilian to help. It won't even delay his leaving, as we can't get him out anyway, until late on the 17th -- St. Patrick’s Day -- If everything goes they way I hope… that would be just perfect. Now, I just have to convince everyone else. I’ll put this in motion after roll call this morning.

With his decision made, Colonel Hogan tried to get some sleep. He and his men were going to have a busy day tomorrow after he convinced them of his newest scheme.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks 2, March 16, 1944, 0600 Hours

"Do you wanna run that by us again, Colonel?" Newkirk asked incredulously, while Kinch, LeBeau and Carter stared at Hogan with their mouths open in surprise.

"What? It is really very simple," Hogan replied with a grin. "All we need to do is provide O’Keefe here with the proper clothing. And presto... O’Keefe is a leprechaun."

"Have ye bin hittn’ the sauce already this mornin’, Colonel?" O’Keefe asked in total disbelief. Th' American Colonel is askin' me ta masquerade as a leprechaun, so that he kin convince th' Germans thatta leprechaun made boots fer ‘is men! Tis bloody ludicrous!

"Like I said, Mr. O’Keefe. It will be a very simple assignment. You need only be seen a few times. The rest of the operation can be accomplished by my men," Hogan explained.

"But … but a leprechaun?!" O’Keefe repeated exasperated.

"Certainly. We only need to convince the Kommandant and the Sergeant of the Guard. You probably won't believe me, but at one point we had them both convinced that the war was over, but only long enough to free some underground prisoners. Convincing them that there is a leprechaun in camp should be easy," Hogan replied.

"Are ye daft mon?" O’Keefe said in amazement. "Who would believe that the wee lil' folk would be here in the mid’l of Germany durin’ a war?"

"Shultz," Carter replied with a sigh.

"Oui. Shultz would," LeBeau agreed. "But Kommandant Klink?" he asked unsure.

"If it’s handled correctly. Even Klink," Hogan replied confidently.

"Excuse me Colonel," Kinch interjected. "Tell me again, why you don't want to just steal a truck and pretend to be supply officers and just drive the shoes into camp?"

"Kinch, you know as well as I that we are better off keeping 'outsiders' out of our schemes. All we would need is for Klink to inspect the cargo and find out that all the shoes were 'Made in England'. Then he'd immediately contact the supply depot and find out they never sent any. Then with that report made, and all the badgering Klink has done lately to the supply depot, who knows who might show up to inspect the cargo," Hogan explained. "Not to mention to confiscate it. We are better off trying to 'win over' Klink and Shultz. We both know Klink won't report anything to Berlin that he doesn't have too. And as Carter says, Shultz may already believe in leprechauns!"

Hogan just stood quietly for a moment watching his men's reactions. Then he smirked and said, "So. Here’s what we’ll do."

Michael O’Keefe stood by quietly as Hogan outlined his plan. It was incredible. The Colonel’s men had stopped protesting and were listening intently to their commanding officer. They're all daft! Ev'ry blooming one of 'em! Ah wonder, though... Has this bin th’ way Papa Bear has run this organization all alon’. He's certainly proven himself vera capable. No one -- but no one -- will eva believe me when ah git back ta England. So, maybe ah'll just be keeping me mouth shut.

"Carter, you need to come up with a way that we can project rainbows when and where we want them," Hogan ordered.

"You got it boy. I mean sir," Carter replied with a grin. He turned to O’Keefe and said excitedly, "It will be a nice change. A chance to expand the old thinking cap. I mean you get bored with your standard everyday demolition packs with short time fuses, impact fuses, or smoke bombs or…"

"Carter," Hogan interrupted. "Rainbows."

"Right. Rainbows. I’ll get right on it," Carter replied and headed for his laboratory.

"Kinch you are responsible for the hammering sounds. We've got to convince both men that the leprechaun is busy making shoes. Only make the noise around Klink’s quarters, Shultz’s quarters and the recreation hall. Make sure you are nowhere near any of our tunnel entrances in case Klink decides to order digging," Hogan continued.

"Right," Kinch replied as he headed towards the radio room.

"Newkirk, you’re responsible for all of the necessary slight of hand. You also need to locate some gold and silver coins. You'll need to hide them almost under our Germans' noses. Once Klink and Shultz start finding the gold and silver coins, you’re going to need to 'lift' them. I know one of the coins is supposed to disappear from a mortal's pocket and the other is supposed to turn to dead leaves or some such thing. I can’t remember the specifics. Go find Captain O’Malley. He should know. He was the one spouting leprechaun stories to Shultz the other day."

"Right-o," Newkirk acknowledged and climbed the ladder leading into barracks two.

"LeBeau, you’re our ace in the hole," Hogan said with a smile, while putting his arm around the Frenchman’s shoulders.

"Me sir?" LeBeau asked confused.

"Right. You will be the one to make sure that either Klink or Shultz sees O’Keefe. You’re also to ensure that they only get a brief glimpse of him. You’ll show O’Keefe exactly where to go, but you need to be in plain sight while O’Keefe makes his appearances. Sorry. But, we don’t want either man thinking that O’Keefe is you dressed in leprechaun finery," Hogan said.

"Okay. And you sir?" LeBeau asked.

"I’ll make sure that Klink and Shultz believe what they see. While hopefully keeping them both off balance enough as to not conduct a search for our wee leprechaun," Hogan replied with a grin. "Oh LeBeau, O’Keefe will also need a fine new set of clothes," Hogan said. "Why don’t you go and see what we have in stock?"

"Green, right sir?" LeBeau asked.

"Green. The brighter the better," Hogan agreed.

"Oui," LeBeau left muttering to himself about leprechaun’s taste in clothing. Uck. Green.

All of a sudden, O’Keefe found himself alone with the American Colonel. "Colonel Hogan. How are ye gonna make this bit o’ tom foolery work?"

Hogan grinned at his guest. "With a lot of blarney… and hopefully... a bit o’ the luck o’ the Irish. Can I count on you Mr. O'Keefe?" Hogan asked with a grin, holding out his hand to shake O'Keefe's.

O'Keefe grinned back at the American Colonel and then grasped his hand saying, "Jus' call me a leprechaun, ah guess." Ah canna believe I'm gonna go along with this scheme! But Hogan's men are all excited now. Ah guess ah kin live with a lil' excitement. Maybe someday ah’ll have quite th' tale ta tell th' gran'children!

"Fantastic. You'll have to excuse me, LeBeau should be back shortly. I've got to go and pave the way for your first appearance," Hogan said with a grin at his new leprechaun. Hogan turned and went off down the tunnel whistling... When Irish Eyes are Smilin'.

LeBeau returned shortly and began to measure O'Keefe for his new clothes. While he was being fitted he watched the comings and goings of Hogan's men as they rushed from one place to another in the vast underground tunnel system preparing for the coming day's crazy activities.

Ah canna believe wha' ah'm seein'. Sergeant Carter keeps wandering back an' forth mutterin' thin's about refracted light an' water. 'E seems oblivious to everyone, and everythin' else around 'im. 'E's even tripped over the fittin' stool LeBeau 'ad moved ta th' side of th' tunnel. And b'cause of th't, he j'st collided inta the English Corporal as Newkirk was rushing in afta returnin' from meetin' a contact in town ta git th' coins 'e needed.

"Bloody 'ell Andrew, watch where you're bleeding going!" Newkirk said exasperated bending to pick up the spilled coins he'd collected.

"Sorry Newkirk," Carter muttered distracted as he continued down the tunnel, never even stopping to help Newkirk. "That stool wasn't there the last time I came this way."

"Just watch where you're going next time!" Newkirk yelled after him. "Oh, bloody 'ell. I forgot to get the damned dried leaves on my way back into camp. Now I have to go back up and get a bag full." As Newkirk disappeared up the tunnel again O'Keefe heard him muttering to himself. "I hope this works. Captain O'Malley couldn't remember which coin did what either. But I guess the Germans aren't going to have a clue either, so it doesn't really matter."

O'Keefe stood quietly getting fitted for a long while. But just as LeBeau had an outfit ready for O'Keefe to try on, Sergeant Kinchloe appeared, followed by three other men all carrying hammers. "Has anyone seen the power cord to the phonograph? Anyone know who used it last?" He asked worried. "The Colonel will blow his top if we can't find it!"

"It's alright Kinch. I'm sure Sergeant Matthews was using it last to prepare for that wedding that Colonel Hogan had planned for the French pilot Boucher and his fiancée Suzanne Martine," LeBeau answered as he pinned up the hem on the green tunic he'd just made.

"Thanks LeBeau," Kinch replied relieved that someone knew where the power cord was. "Baker can you go and get it from him?" Kinch asked.

"Sure Kinch. No problem," the other black radio man replied, disappearing down yet another branch of the tunnel system.

O'Keefe watched as again everyone left on some errand. Ah canna believe me ears. He leaned over and asked LeBeau, "A weddin'?!"

"Oui," LeBeau replied, motioning for O'Keefe to try the tunic on again. "Colonel Hogan was concerned that this French pilot, Lieutenant Boucher was going to tell the Bosche where his air base was. The Germans were using rumors and innuendo about his fiancée to convince him he had nothing to live for. The Colonel sent me to Paris, I found his fiancée Suzanne and brought her back here. The Bosche never knew what hit them. Sergeant Matthews arranged a wedding at the Colonel's order and Kommandant Klink married the two, right here in camp. The whole wedding was staged under the guise of a play for the POWs morale. It worked. Boucher got married and never told the Bosche what they wanted to know. We helped him escape and the two returned to France together."

"And ye do this all th' time?" O'Keefe asked amazed.

LeBeau shrugged nonchalantly and said, "Colonel Hogan always keeps us on our toes." Then LeBeau paused and looked his leprechaun up and down. "There, that fits much better. What do you think, Mr. O'Keefe?"

O'Keefe looked down at his green clothing. "Ah think ah'm in a bloomin' looney bin. An' this is really gonna work?" He asked of LeBeau incredulously.

"Of course it will Mr. O'Keefe," Hogan said ever confident as he entered the tunnel again. "It's all set up. Shultz was just telling Klink about leprechauns after a little prompting from me. You can begin to make your appearances as soon as you're ready." Hogan paused and glanced around. "LeBeau. Where's Newkirk? I have to know which coin does what before this whole thing starts."

"He's outside Mon Colonel," LeBeau replied. "He should be back shortly. He went out to gather the dried leaves."

"Good. Good. Let him know I want to see him. I'm going down to check with Kinch and Carter," Hogan said as he went to leave, but quickly turned back to LeBeau and O'Keefe. Smirking he said, "Great job LeBeau! I must say... you certainly look the part of a leprechaun, Mr. O'Keefe."

"Thanks. Ah think," O'Keefe replied. Oh bloody 'ell they're really goin' ta make me go through wit' this madness. What is this war comin' ta?

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks 2, March 16, 1944, 1600 Hours

Ah'm so glad tha’ this is over wit'! Me heart 'as bin poundin' all day. Jus' waitin' ta be gunned down as ah ran between th' buildings in th' Camp above. Looking around him now though, O'Keefe couldn't help but grin at the men sitting with him and share in their high spirits.

He listened as Newkirk regaled them with his slight of hand tricks. "Did you see ole Klink's face..." asked Newkirk with a wide grin of amusement, "when the coins started to disappear? Then when that last one disappeared and all he got for his trouble was a fist-full of dried leaves!"

"Excellent job Newkirk," Hogan congratulated. "And Carter, those rainbows were spectacular. They were almost enough to make me want to go and chase one down. Klink and Shultz were looking at me in disbelief after the first one. The one on the side of the mess hall. But when the men began to run by talking about chasing the rainbow down looking for leprechaun gold... Ha. It was perfect, the timing couldn't have been better. It took them both by surprise," Hogan said with a grin.

"Thanks Colonel!" Carter replied with a pleased grin.

"Mr. O'Keefe. I wanted to let you know that you played your part perfectly," Hogan continued. "The look on Shultz's face when he saw you run between the Rec Hall and Barracks 16 was priceless. I thought he was going to lay an egg! Then later, when Klink caught a glimpse of you outside of the motor pool... Well all I can say is that the two of them are definitely thinking about leprechauns right now. The hammering tonight should bring the house down. So thank you very much for doing what you've done."

"Yer welcome. It wasna problem Colonel," O'Keefe replied smiling. "Ah'm just glad ta 'ave helped, in any way ah can."

Just then Kinch came running in from the radio room. "Colonel, we've just got an urgent message from London," Kinch said all business and handed Hogan the message.

Hogan read it quickly. "Okay fellas. Apparently there's a convoy of airplane supplies coming our way tomorrow night. Possibly as many as ten trucks. We're going to have to blow the Hammelburg bridge to take out as many as possible. But London doesn't want anything left of the convoy. So we have to be ready to destroy everything we don't get on the bridge." Hogan was quiet for a moment and then he asked, "Kinch. Are we set for the leprechaun hammering tonight?"

"Yes Colonel. Baker, Stevenson, and Smithers have that under control," Kinch replied.

"Great. Okay that frees up everyone else. Kinch, confirm these orders with London. Tell them we'll be ready as always. Carter, do you have enough charges and detonators on hand?"

"To blow up the Hammelburg bridge? Always. As for the convoy, I think I will have enough extra," Carter replied.

"Go and make sure. We don't have a lot of time for this one. Let's try and take out as many vehicles as possible with the bridge, but nothing can get through. Understood?" Hogan ordered.

O'Keefe watched once again as Hogan's men willing accepted their commanding officer's orders and all dispersed quickly to get ready for tomorrow's mission. Then, once again, he found himself alone with the American Colonel. "So Colonel... Does this place ever stop?"

"No Mr. O'Keefe. It's all in a day's work here at Stalag 13," Hogan answered not looking at O'Keefe. He was distracted, as his mind raced planning tomorrow’s raid. But then he quickly turned to O'Keefe and said, "You can relax now. Please make yourself comfortable. You won't be leaving us till tomorrow night. And don't worry. We'll be able to get you out before the raid on the convoy. -- Again, thanks for all of your help."

"Tis bin quite an experience bein' 'ere Colonel," O'Keefe replied. He watched in awe as Colonel Hogan, the one and only Papa Bear, climbed the ladder back up into Barracks two. That man, and this operation, are incredible. But, no one is ev’a goin' ta believe what this place is like. They do thin's 'ere as common ever'day occurances, that would take any otha group months ta plan and carry out. An' they do it from underneath a POW Camp.

O'Keefe shuddered as he remembered just what this Luft Stalag looked like. His brief glimpses today had been more than he had ever wanted to see. Stalag 13 is a hellhole. Ah don't know how these men stan' it day afta day, knowin' there was this incredible organization below ground tha' could get 'em out, an' back ta Englan'. Ta stay 'ere and do what they're doin' . These men 'ere are truly one of the war's unsung 'eroes.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Klink’s Office, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1944, 0630 Hours

Kommandant Klink sat dosing at his desk. He hadn't gotten any sleep last night. He had continually heard what sounded like hammering during the evening hours. He wasn't sure whether he had been dreaming or actually heard the noise. It had stopped early this morning, and by that time, it was too late to get any sleep.

And add to that… yesterday's crazy activities. I think I might actually need to see a doctor. All the talk of Leprechauns! And Pots of Gold! And Rainbows! And then when the gold and silver coins started appearing and disappearing! And I’m never going to admit to seeing a Leprechaun! I know that Hogan is somehow responsible. The man is always up to something... Yet even he seemed very unconvinced of the events that occurred in camp yesterday. Usually there is some end result to all the craziness. And so far, nothing has occurred that would benefit him -- or his men -- in anyway. I guess. I will just have to wait and see.

Just then Sergeant Shultz entered the Kommandant's office. "Sergeant Shultz reporting as ordered sir," Shultz began to say, but ended it with a huge yawn. "Sorry Colonel Klink," he said quickly. "I didn't get much sleep last night. I kept hearing what sounded like hammering."

"You too?" Klink asked then he thought better of continuing that discussion. "Very well, Sergeant. I just wanted to know if the supply trucks arrived last night."

"Yes sir. They arrived, but the supplies needed for the POWs were not there sir. Only food stuffs this time," Shultz reported sadly.

"Thank you Sergeant. Dismissed," Klink said.

But before Shultz could turn to leave, Colonel Hogan burst through the Kommandant's door. He had a huge smile plastered on his face. "Colonel Klink. You can't imagine how glad I am that the supply trucks finally brought the needed boots for the men!" Hogan said quickly, not giving either man a chance to think. "And it was so nice of you to have the boots delivered to each of the barracks! What a surprise the men got when they woke this morning." Hogan reached over the desk and grasped the Colonel's hand, pumping hard. "Thanks so very much sir. I appreciate all the trouble you went to, to get the supplies delivered. It means so much to me and my men sir." Hogan saluted the Kommandant. He then turned quickly, smiled at Shultz, patted him on the stomach, and left the office without another word.

"Shultz. I thought you said the boots never arrived! What is Hogan talking about?" Klink demanded incredulously.

"Sir. I checked the supplies myself sir. The boots were not on the trucks," Shultz reported mystified.

"You're sure Shultz… No boots came on those trucks?" Klink demanded again.

"Ja. Ja. There were no boots sir," Shultz replied and then his face lit up as if an idea had come to mind. "Colonel. You don't think that the leprechaun had anything to do with this? Do you? Captain O'Malley told me that they are famous for making shoes. And after all that hammering last night…"

"Dismissed Shultz!" bellowed Kommandant Klink. "Get out of my office. The last thing I ever want to discuss again are leprechauns!"

Shultz saluted and disappeared quickly from the Kommandant's office. He noticed as he left that the Kommandant seemed rather unnerved by his question. I'm never going to mention them again, that's for sure.

Kommandant Klink sat at his desk quietly. So... the end result... boots for Hogan’s men. And yet Hogan comes in here seemingly totally unaware that the boots never arrived from the supply shipment. He then thanks me profusely and leaves. Could it have really been a leprechaun? Of course not. So the question is… how did the boots get into camp? -- Do I really want to know? -- No I don't -- I'm just glad I can stop hounding the supply depot. They were getting very annoyed. Even General Burkhaulter phoned and ordered me to stop asking for supplies… Honestly, however the boots got here doesn’t really matter - All that matters is that Stalag 13’s perfect no-escape record is still intact - And the POWs are healthy and have what they need - And most of all, I have nothing I need report to Berlin.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Senior POW Officer’s Quarters, St. Patrick's Day,

March 17, 1944, 0645 Hours

"We're free and clear Colonel!" said Carter excitedly as the Colonel returned to his quarters. "Klink would already have had the guards at the door if he was going to challenge this!"

"Yeah. He dismissed Shultz yellin' about not wantin' to ever talk about Leprechauns again," said Newkirk with a smirk.

"And Klink's been quiet ever since Colonel," Kinch said curious. "What do you think?"

"I think we are just lucky that our Kommandant and Sergeant of the Guard are decent human beings overall or that would never have worked," Hogan said quietly. Then he smiled and with a shrug said, "Happy St. Patrick's Day!" Hogan then turned to LeBeau all business. "LeBeau. Is Mr. O'Keefe almost ready to go tonight?" Hogan asked.

"Yes sir. Everything is all ready. He should arrive in London in two days time," LeBeau replied.

"Fantastic. Please tell him I will be down to see him later," Hogan stated.

Hogan watched as his men dispersed to go about their 'normal' business. How lucky are you Hogan? You know that whole scheme should never have worked. Thank God Klink doesn't have the gumption to make waves. We'd never have been able to do what we've been doing all this time. Let's hope nothing ever changes. With that thought, Hogan went to lie on his bunk and get some much-needed sleep. He had just spent two very long sleepless nights trying to get this latest scheme to work, and there was still the convoy to destroy tonight. God. I'm tired.

Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks 2, St Patrick's Day,

March 17, 1944, 1900 Hours

Hogan approached Michael O'Keefe smiling. "Mr. O'Keefe. I can't tell you what your help has meant to my men and me. I know what I asked of you was a little nuts. But keeping this operation running has always required a unique balance of power between myself and the officers that run this camp. We have to remain the ever 'cowed' POWs to keep the them off balance and unaware," Hogan said reaching out once again to grasped the Irishman's hand. "So, once again. Thank you."

O'Keefe reached out to return the handshake. "Ye are vera welcome Colonel. It certainly wasna how ah ever expected ta spend me las' days in Germany. But wha' a spect'cle! Ta see th' shocked faces of th' Germans upon the appearance of a leprechaun. Tis something ah’ll always remember Colonel," O'Keefe said smiling. "So, thank ye fer a unique experience."

"Have a safe journey Mr. O'Keefe," Hogan said. "And may the wind be always at your back."

"Ah Colonel. A lil' of th' Irishman in ye makes an appearance," O'Keefe said smiling as he ascended the ladder to the escape tunnel. "And so ah say ta you and yer men Colonel..."

We're on this Earth together,

And if we would be brothers,

Fight not just on your own behalf,

But for the sake of others.

The End


Post Script

The Story of Two Irish POWs

During World War II, the captured Allied agents of Stalag 15 were attempting yet another daring prison break. On this particular night, Major O’Rourke and Lieutenant Flanagan were chosen to try and cut their way though the bars of the East gate. They were hard at work when the siren sounded, and the floodlights caught them in that act. As the German officer led them away, O’Rourke said, "We were so careful. How did you ever catch us?" The German replied, "It's very simple. Somehow, I can always tell... when Irish spies are filing."

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Text and original characters copyright 2002 by Margaret Bryan, Patti Hutchins

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.