DISCLAIMER: Oh, to own Hogan's Heroes.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: You never know what you're going to find when you go into the recesses of your old computer. Science reports from eighth grade that you can't believe actually got an A, letters to a pen pal you haven't thought about in ages, and fanfiction you left unfinished three and a half years ago. Since I have been writing lots of Hogan's Heroes lately (probably due to my mother playing it endlessly since we gave the first season for Mother's Day), I thought I'd finish this and post it.
I wrote this while I was going through a particularly painful time in my life: saying goodbye to a friend who went before her time. I could never bring myself to finish it and in the ensuing years, forgot about it. Finishing it was quite emotional for me and if it makes you cry reading it, rest assured that I cried writing it. I promise that my next story will involve sweetness and light and there will be no angst, introspection, or killing off our heroes.
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
Col. Robert Hogan closed the door to his office and stumbled over to the bed. Once there, he sat down and buried his face in his hands.
Newkirk's dead. The phrase rang again and again in his head, taunting him, mocking him, driving him to the edge of his sanity.
When the doctor had told them Newkirk was truly dead, Carter and LeBeau had both wept disconsolately. Kinch had stared at the floor without moving. Hogan had fallen back into the chair in a stupor, unable to believe what he'd just heard. After the doctor left, Kinch had gone into the tunnel, muttering something about fixing the radio. Hogan knew the sergeant had needed to grieve in private.
For the next hour, Hogan hadtried to console each of the men as best he could. After Carter broke into tears for the fourth time, Hogan couldn't take it anymore. He needed to get away.
Hogan drew in what was supposed to be a deep, calming breath and rapidly turned into a shuddering near-sob. He blindly groped on the desk for his Bible, the one his mother had given him right before he went off to West Point. The pages were now worn and faded after two decades of his turning to them for comfort.
The colonel opened the book and wiped the tears away from his eyes. He squinted at the page, but the words blurred before him. Hogan sniffed and tried again to dry his watery eyes. He blinked andmade a valiant attempt to read. Tears again obscured his vision.
God, why? Hoganasked with a heavenward glance. Why did you take Newkirk from us? Why did he have to die? The aviator spastically clutched the book to his chest.
I don't understand. Hogan could feel his throat tightening painfully. I just don't understand, God. I know I'm not meant to. But that doesn't make it any easier. I miss him, God, I miss him so much.
The colonel pursed his lips together in an effort to keep quiet. Please help the men, God. They need You so much. Poor Carter, he feels everything. He's so…You know how he is. And LeBeau's going to grieve for a long time, even though he and Newkirk sometimes rubbed each other the wrong way. Kinch will try to put on the brave face, but I know he's hurting to.
A single sob broke through Hogan's control. Oh, Lord, please hold me, he begged as anguish overwhelmed him. I can't go on anymore. Not by myself.
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say
"It is well, it is well with my soul."
Hogan's mother had sung that when his father had died. Hogan could still remember sticking his head into the kitchen and seeing his mother clutching her husband's oak leaf cluster in one hand and her crucifix necklace in the other, softly singing through her tears.
And now here I am. Hogan let the Bible slide to the floor as he brought his hands to his face and began to weep. Please, Father, make it well with my soul, he prayed desperately. I know You have some bigger plan in all this I can't see, but I wish Newkirk was still with us. And don't let the guys hear me in here. They don't need-
So much for that. Hogan tried to hide his grief even though he knew it wouldn't do any good.
"Oh, Col. Hogan!" Carter sat down on the bed and slid his arm around Hogan's shoulders.
"It is all right, mon colonel," LeBeau soothed, sitting on his commander's other side and placing his arm beneath Carter's.
"Do you want us to leave, sir?" Kinch asked in his typical deferntial tone. "If you want to be alone, we understand."
Leave? Hogan shook his head. No. He didn't want them to leave.His crash course in the fragility of life made Hogan want to stay that much closer to his men. The first rule of command he'd learned-"A true leader never admits weakness"-seemed to have gone out the window. The last thing heneeded right now was to be alone.
Kinch wordlessly climbed onto the bed behind Hogan and laid both hands on his commander's back.
"Do not worry," LeBeau said, running a comforting hand over Hogan's hair. It was a gesture the officer would normally have abhorred, but now he was just too upset to care. "We miss Pierre too."
Hogan nodded his gratitude through a sob.
"We're all here for you, sir," Carter offered.
Hogan took one hand away from his face and reached to place it on Carter's arm. Carter squeezed his CO's shoulders in response.
"You've always taken care of us, colonel," Kinch spoke up. "Let us take care of you this time."
Thankfulness and comfort descended on Hogan like a warm blanket. "Thank you," he managed to croak.
Hogan's Heroes, minus one, stayed together long into the night. They reminisced, laughed, cried, and comforted one another until the wee hours of the morning when Hogan was finally too emotionally wrung out to stay awake anymore.
Carter was curled into a ball on the bottom bunk, having gone to sleep long ago. LeBeau was asleep against Hogan's side. Kinch was leaning against the wall withhis legs stretched out in front of him. Hogan couldn't tell if he was sleeping or not.
Hogan gently laid LeBeau down on the bed. Then he quietly climbed onto the top bunk and lay down, allowing his tired mind and body to rest.
Dear God, thank You for my unit, Hogan prayed blearily. Thank You for giving them to me. Thank You for the friendship that we have. Bittersweetness clenched Hogan's heart as he formulated the next thought. And thank You for Newkirk. Thank You for giving him to us even for a short time. Thank You for the skills he brought to our operation and for the person he was. Hogan closed his eyes.
It is well with my soul, was Hogan's last thought before he fell into a slumber borne of complete exhaustion. His heart still ached and he knew it would for a long time. But now he felt a strange peace that he couldn't explain. It is well with my soul.
In memory of Rosemary Lynn Dato
1952 – 2002
"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." – Philippians 1:21