***Bronze Papa Bear Award winner Best Overall Story***
Disclaimer: The character of Major Teppel is not mine. I do not own any part of Hogan's Heroes. The characters of Captain Heinman , Major Frolichman and Dr. Erlichmann are mine. I also want to thank L J Groundwater for her advice and help to this beginning Hogan's Heroes fanzine writer.
A Death In Barracks Two
Chapter 1-- The Beginning of the Nightmare
A pall hung over Barracks two like a blanket. The shock still registering on many of the faces.
Kinch, Carter, LeBeau and Newkirk sat together at the long table in silence. LeBeau glanced in the direction of the closed door to Colonel Robert E. Hogan's quarters. The black wreath they had made and hung two days ago was still there and would be a constant reminder of what they had lost.
"I just can't believe he's gone," murmured Carter, tears rolling down his cheeks. "I just can't."
"Neither can I," agreed LeBeau. "Who would have thought…." He didn't finish. He simply stared at the now cold coffee in his cup.
"I know what you mean, Louie," said Newkirk. He put out his cigarette. "I mean, we've all been on dangerous assignments always with the possibility of getting killed. But to have Colonel Hogan die in his sleep like that is just too bloody shocking. It really is."
"Yeah," Kinch added. "I mean, the Colonel was healthy as a horse. To have his heart give out during the night like that."
Just then, the door to the barracks opened and the rotund shape of Sergeant Hans Schultz entered. Nobody looked up.
"Go away, Schultz," Carter said softly, wiping away the tears.
Schultz hesitated. He understood that the prisoners in Barracks two were still reeling from the unexpected passing of their Senior POW officer. He was in shock himself. Even Kommandant Wilhelm Klink was in shock over Hogan's sudden passing. Schultz missed Colonel Hogan's good-natured ribbing to which Schultz's response was always 'I know nothing! Nothing!' But today, unfortunately, camp routine still had to be followed.
Schultz cleared his throat. "I'm sorry to disturb you boys at this time…."
"Then don't!" yelled LeBeau harshly. He looked up into Schultz's eyes and saw Schultz's pain over their loss. His voice and face softened. "Please, Schultzie…."
"Kommandant Klink wanted me to tell you that you may have a memorial service for Colonel Hogan. All he asks is that you let him know when it'll be."
Newkirk rolled his eyes. "That's bloody nice of him, if you ask me!" He raised his voice. "You just tell Klink…." He was stopped by Kinch's hand on his arm.
"Schultz, tell the Kommandant we appreciate him letting us hold a memorial service for the Colonel," Kinch said softly. "We'll let him and you know when it'll be."
"Danke." Schultz turned and left the barracks.
"Dammit, Kinch!" fumed Newkirk, tears glistening in his eyes. "Why did you…."
"This is about Colonel Hogan, Newkirk. He's gone and we can't bring him back. All we can do in his memory is keep this operation running the way he would if were here. We owe that to him."
"Kinch is right," Carter managed to get out. He was taking the Colonel's death harder than anyone. He worshipped Colonel Hogan. "The last thing the Colonel would want is us fighting amongst ourselves and other things to ruin what he spent his entire life putting together."
Kinch sat at Hogan's desk in his quarters. He had been selected to deliver the eulogy as Hogan's unofficial second-in-command. He stared at the blank sheet of paper in front of him. How do you say goodbye to someone who not only brought out the best in him and others, but was also the best friend he ever had. Help me, Colonel. Help me be the kind of leader you were. How do I sum up Colonel Hogan in just a few words?
There was a knock on the door.
Opening the door, LeBeau came in with a cup of hot coffee. He handed it to Kinch. "We just made a fresh pot."
LeBeau nodded towards the blank sheet of paper in front of Kinch. "Having a hard time?"
"Yeah. I thought if I came in the Colonel's quarters it would help me come up with the words. But it's not."
LeBeau looked around. How many times had he and the others been in Hogan's quarters? LeBeau lost count. In fact, he didn't know if he could come into this room again. He noticed Hogan's crusher cap hanging from a nail outside his closet door, and inside hung his brown leather bomber jacket. LeBeau ran his hand along the sleeve of the butter soft leather and sighed. He glanced around at Kinch.
"You think London'll send another RAF officer to replace the Colonel?"
Kinch sighed. "I wish I knew. My guess is they'll review everything before they either send somebody to replace Colonel Hogan or…." he didn't finish.
"Or they might just decide to shut down our operation completely."
LeBeau let the last sentence sink in. Kinch could see anger forming. "We can't let that happen, Kinch. To shut us down would be like a slap in the face of the Colonel."
"I agree," replied Kinch. "We'll just have to wait and see what London wants to do. But should the decision be to shut us down, they're gonna get a hell of an argument from me."
LeBeau folded his arms. "And from me and probably Carter and Newkirk as well." He noticed Kinch's expression. "Talk to me, mon ami."
Kinch sighed dejectedly. "It's this eulogy for the Colonel. I can't find the words, Louie. I don't know how to say goodbye. I mean, how do I reduce Colonel Hogan's life to just a few words?"
LeBeau was thoughtful for a long moment. "When you think of Colonel Hogan, just speak from your heart. That's the only advice I have."
Kinch smiled faintly. "Thanks, LeBeau. That helps a bit."
"You're welcome, mon ami." LeBeau smiled in spite of his own broken heart and began to leave. He stopped at the sight of the crush cap and bomber jacket again. "Y'know, Kinch, nobody must touch or pack up the Colonel's things except us. We will store them ourselves in his foot locker. And his footlocker will stay with us. But as far as his jacket and crush cap, we will keep them in a safe place as an inspiration for us should our operation be allowed to continue. It'll be like having Colonel Hogan with us, even if it's only in spirit."
"Louie, that's a wonderful idea," Kinch agreed.
LeBeau didn't respond. He just quietly exited the room, closing the door behind him.
Alone again, Kinch began thinking about Colonel Hogan and what his presence and friendship meant not only to him, but to the others as well. Looking at the blank paper in front of him, Kinch slowly began to write.
The two men in Abwehr uniforms stood inside a prison cell looking at the unconscious man lying on the cot in front of them. One of them was about forty while the other was somewhere in his late thirties.
"Did you have any problems?" the older man, with the insignia of a Major asked the other.
The younger man, with the insignia of a Captain, smiled. "Nein. He never even knew it had been slipped to him."
"Anybody at Stalag 13 suspect anything?"
"Not a thing. We are quite free to do what we have to."
"Excellent, captain." The Major smiled an evil smile. "But it will be better if he's kept drugged and unconscious. He'll be more manageable that way and unable to try and escape before we do what we must."
"It shall be done as you request."
The two men calmly walked out of the cell, slamming the door and locking it behind them.