Legal speak: I don't own Hogan and the heroes, I'm just borrowing them. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. Any typos are my own fault.

Historic note: I read somewhere that Richard Dawson originally read for the role of Hogan. What would happen if all canon characters were scrambled?

Pantomime Season

The kommandant's secretary opened the door to the private office and peered inside. Donnerwetter, she thought, sleeping in the middle of the day, again. The Oberst's feet were on the desk, his hands crossed comfortably across his belly—snoring loudly. His pudgy face was almost cherubic, even with the monocle was in his left eye.

Rolling her own eyes in annoyance, she stepped inside and grabbed a heavy ledger book from her desk.

"Herr Kommandant! Wake up!" She slammed the book down for emphasis.

Schultz woke with a start, nearly falling out of his chair in the process. The monocle popped out of his eye and hit the floor with a plink.

"Was ist los?" He fumbled around for the lost monocle. Finding it, he put in his right eye. "I told you I was in conference all afternoon."

"You are always in conference," she snapped, "Pull yourself together. The Gestapo just came in the front gate." She refrained from commenting on the migratory eyepiece. She exited with a humph.

At the dreaded word "Gestapo" the big man leapt to his feet, a panicked look in his eye. A visit from the geheimstadt polizei was never good news.

In the outer office, Herr Burkhalter doffed his hat to Schultz's secretary. "Guten tag, gnadige frau," he said with an oily smile.

"Guten tag, Herr Inspektor." Frau Linkmeyer gave him a withering look over the rims of her spectacles, then turned her attention back to the requisition she was typing, Burkhalter sighed. Schultz's secretary was probably the only person in Germany who was completely unimpressed by the Gestapo. Still, if he couldn't ruffle the secretary, at least he could have some fun at the expense of the Oberst.

"Where is the kommandant?"

"In there," she indicated the door to the office with a nod of her head.

Burkhalter, a wolfish grin on his unlovely face, placed his hand on the knob. He then began counting, his lips moving dramatically but soundlessly.

At the silent "five", he jerked the door open and burst into the room. Schultz, caught in the act of pouring himself some liquid courage, whirled around with a gasp. One hand dropped the decanter while the other, wrapped around a filled glass jerked upwards. "The amber-colored liquid spattered on the wood floor, the untidy desk and the unwelcome guest.

The Kommandant became even more flustered. He dropped the glass, which shattered on the floor, although to his credit, he did manage to keep the monocle in place.

"I'm so-so-sorry, Herr Burkhalter!" he stammered. "Please, let me help you."

"No, thank you," snapped the Gestapo agent, using his handkerchief to brush off his dark coat, He shook off the cloth distastefully, shoved it back into his pocket, and only then favored Schultz with a scathing glare. "Tell me, were you this efficient when you ran that toy factory?"

Still shaking, Schultz made his way back to his desk and sat down heavily. His chair creaked ominously.

"No, I mean yes…I mean…." Schultz babbled. "Er…what can I do for you, Herr Burkhalter?"

Burkhalter let him go on for a few moments. Schultz round face was turning red, and he was actually starting to sweat.

"I am returning your escaped prisoner."

"Oh, danke, danke, mein Herr." It suddenly occurred to the kommandant exactly what Burkhalter had actually said. "What escaped prisoner?"

Burkhalter rolled his eyes heavenward. "How did you ever become an officer?"

"When the government requisitioned my business for war production…."

The Gestapo man waved his gloved hand impatiently. "Never mind, I'm sorry I brought it up," he sighed, then continued as if speaking to a child. "You prisoner—that cook from Barrack II—was caught almost three miles away from here on the bank of the Dusseldorf River."

"What was he doing there?" Schultz was genuinely confused.

"How would I know?" Burkhalter shouted. "Maybe he wanted to catch some fresh fish for your supper!"

"Forelle blau," purred the kommandant, the thwarted escape forgotten, "with some lovely Flensheim potatoes…."

Burkhalter glared. "Aren't you at all curious how he got out of you 'escape-proof' camp?"

"Didn't you ask him?" The kommandant was genuinely surprised.

Burkhalter leaned on the desk and shouted at the other man, "Yes, I asked him! Now I suggest you ask him!" Throwing up his hands in frustration, Burkhalter jammed his hat back on his head and stalked out of the office. Outside, two tall SS guards flanked the manacled prisoner.

"Take this man to the cooler," Burkhalter ordered the guards.

"Oh, come on, kommandant! He's served three days. Let him out." The Senior Prisoner Officer expertly snatched several cigars from the cut glass humidor as he followed the German colonel around the office.

"Nein!" the German picked up the humidor and hugged it possessively. "He was caught outside the wire. Thirty days for attempted escape!" He turned to glower at his pursuer.

"He wasn't escaping. He just going to town for some groceries."

"Do you expect me to believe that, Colonel?" The kommandant shoved the humidor into the safe and spun the lock.

"Group Captain! Get it right, Schultz!" Peter Newkirk corrected.

"And that's Oberst to you! Get it right yourself!" The kommandant snapped back.

Newkirk smiled winningly and attacked at the kommandant's weak spot. "If he's in solitary, how can he cook dinner for you and the general?"

"Why would I waste good food on Hochstetter? He wouldn't know Weiner schnitzel from sauce bordelaise."

"Ah, but you would, Schultzie! You would!" Newkirk pasted a sincere-yet-conniving grin on his face. Distracted by mention of his favorite subject. the kommandant failed to notice the familiar use of his name.

Newkirk's men were waiting at the entrance to the cooler to welcome the comrade back.

A scruffy, unshaven figure emerged, squinting, into the sunlight. From inside the cell block, a hinge squealed as Feldwebel Klink shut the iron-clad cell door.

"Welcome back, mon ami!" Lebeau clapped Hogan on the back. "We've missed you!" They group started back across the compound.

"The barracks hasn't been the same without you, buddy!" Kinch added cheerfully.

"Yeah, what's for dinner?" added Carter eagerly.

"Yeah, yeah," grumbled Corporal Hogan, "'What's for dinner? What's for dinner?'" he mimicked. He gave the other men a wounded look. The sergeant with the matinee-idol looks could make a gourmet dinner out of a pair of army boots, which probably explained why the US Army in its infinite wisdom had made him a mechanic. "Let someone else do it."

"C'mon, pal," Kinch put a companionable arm around his friend's shoulder. "We're counting on you."

"Oui, mon ami. Three days of boiled potatoes! We're wasting away." The French corporal sighed dramatically.

Hogan aimed a dirty look at him. "Who's fault is that? Who ever heard of a Frenchie who can't cook?"

Lebeau spread his hands and shrugged. "Is it my fault ma mere was a lousy cook?"

The four enlisted men went directly to the SP's office. Newkirk hopped down from the upper bunk and offered Hogan his hand.

"Glad to have you back, old man," the Group Captain said with his deepest, most formal tone.

Hogan accepted the handshake, but wasn't having anything to do with the oh-so-proper affectations. "Will you cut it out?"

The unorthodox nature of their endeavor encouraged informality between the ranks, which suited the Englander just fine. Newkirk's face split into a grin.

"Right, mate. You were supposed to pick up a package from the underground. Any luck?"

"Yeah. Small tools and radio parts. The stuff's safe."

"How did the krauts catch you, then?" asked Kinch.

"I don't know what's going on, but the krauts are up to something, cause I was dodging patrols all night. I figured I was pushing my luck trying to get back the way I left, so I hid everything in rotted oak tree on the edge of Weber's orchard."

"Anyone see you?"

"Nope. I crossed the river to muddle the trail, then backtracked a good half mile before I let them see me."

Newkirk and his men sighed with relief.

"Looks like we're in business, lads! Tell the fellows who are on the work detail to Weber's farm to collect the goods."

"Think they can sneak past the guard?" Lebeau asked.

Newkirk waved a hand for silence. Pushing open his office door a sliver, he and the others peeked out. Klink had followed them from the cooler and was now methodically searching the barracks, looking through footlockers and under the straw-filled "mattresses." As they watched, a tin of anchovies and a pickle jar full of moonshine found their way into the pockets of his greatcoat.

"I don't think they'll 'ave any trouble."

forelle blau: blue trout, famous German dish