Chapter 9: The Last Laugh
Hogan had been listening in on the previous interrogations with the coffeepot device in his quarters. Therefore, he knew that Carter and Schultz were on the way. He came out front to meet them. Before long, the barracks door opened and they entered the room.
"I thought you were with Hochstetter," Hogan told Carter.
Carter hoped Hogan had been eavesdropping on their plans. "I will not tolerate insolence," he snapped. "We're here to interrogate the prisoner, Carter."
"He hasn't been well," Hogan responded. "He's resting in my quarters."
"Good. We'll question him there." Carter headed for Hogan's quarters, followed by Hogan and Schultz. Carter stopped them at the door. "You, you're the senior prisoner of war. You have a right to witness the interrogation," he stated, allowing Hogan to enter. Then, he turned to Schultz. "You…you will listen from out here on the Luftwaffe's behalf. I don't want the prisoner to feel at ease by seeing too many familiar faces. I like to intimidate my suspects."
"Jawohl, Herr Major," acknowledged Schultz, snapping to attention as Carter went inside and closed the door.
Carter walked over to the table and slapped it with his riding crop. In Fischer's German accent, Carter growled, "Sergeant Carter, wake up...Now!"
With a sleepy tone, Carter complained, "Can't a fellow get a moment's rest. I had a rough night, I'll have you know."
Fischer said, "You're going to have an even rougher day, I can promise you that."
Hogan quietly announced, "So can I."
Carter winced at that statement. Then, he pretended to explain, "I'm Major Fischer, Gestapo. I know you are Sergeant Carter. Now, let's get down to business. We're here investigating the sabotage that has been going on in this area."
"I'm a prisoner. How am I supposed to know anything about that?" Carter asked.
"You tell me," Fischer responded.
Putting a little quiver in his voice, Carter declared, "Maybe…maybe it was the Underground. I've heard rumors from the guards that there's a unit operating in this area."
In a voice as quiet as before, Hogan sternly ordered, "I want you away from Gestapo headquarters and back in camp as quickly as you can arrange it. Do you understand?"
Carter nodded, while as Fischer, he slapped the table again and snarled, "I'm not interested in rumors. I want facts. Understand?"
"Yes, I understand," replied Carter, quickly making eye contact with Hogan, before letting his gaze drop.
Schultz was listening just outside. Except for Hogan's quiet additions, he was able to hear the conversation within. He took a moment to glance over at the table, where Newkirk and LeBeau were sitting. "I'm so glad I'm not Carter," Schultz stated. "I don't know where Major Hochstetter found that Major Fischer but he is one terrifying agent."
"Yes, terrible," Newkirk agreed.
LeBeau shook his head in feigned dismay. "Terribly."
Back inside his quarters, Hogan softly reprimanded Carter. "What you and LeBeau did was very foolhardy. Your little investigation of Nimrod ends now. Is that clear enough?"
"So, you expect me to believe you were in camp the whole night?" Fischer asked.
"Yeah," Carter answered, looking directly at Hogan, once more to indicate that was in answer to the colonel's question. "There's never been a successful escape from Stalag 13. You think it's fun to spend time in the cooler?"
"You may wish you were," threatened Hogan, before withdrawing from the conversation.
Carter continued to fake the interrogation for several more minutes. Then, he called a halt to the questioning and left the room. Hogan followed him out. Without a word, Carter, as Fischer, went outside and headed back towards the Kommandant's office.
Schultz seemed concerned at Carter's absence and remained behind for a minute. "Carter?"
"Is a little shaken up. Let him rest a bit," Hogan replied.
"Maybe I should check just to make sure he's still here," Schultz insisted.
Hogan blocked the door. "Don't disturb him. No one will be missing at the next roll call. Trust me."
"There better not be," said Schultz. "Or somebody will be in big trouble." With that, Schultz left, as well.
- - -
A short time later, Carter and Hochstetter entered Hochstetter's office at Gestapo headquarters. "I'd like to say once more that I really appreciated your help," Hochstetter told Carter. "It's just a pity that we weren't able to obtain any proof, though."
"Yes, a pity," Carter agreed. "At least, we tried."
"Which is more than any of these other incompetent fools have done. We might have taken a bit longer with the interrogations if I didn't have another project that required my attention. I'm putting together a team for it this afternoon. If you've got nothing planned for tonight, you're welcome to join us. I'll fill you in if you're interested."
"I'm sorry. I must regretfully decline," explained Carter. "My investigation in Hammelburg has come to an end. I must proceed elsewhere."
"Sorry to hear that, but I understand. You have your man to catch and I have mine. Hopefully, we will both succeed someday."
"Someday," Carter echoed, reaching into his pocket for his office keys. He handed them to Hochstetter. "The keys to my office. I'll be leaving now. Auf Wiedersehen. Heil Hitler." Carter gave the customary salute.
Hochstetter repeated both the farewell and salute. "Auf Wiedersehen. Heil Hitler."
Carter turned and quickly left Hochstetter's office and Gestapo headquarters. Hochstetter watched him go, wondering whether he would ever see the agent again. He knew better than to inquire about Fischer's destination. The agent was undercover. If anyone could locate Nimrod, Hochstetter believed Fischer would be the man to do it. Then, Hochstetter turned his attention back to the task at hand, preparing for the trap he and Burkhalter were planning to spring on the Underground.
- - -
After supper, that night, Hogan ordered LeBeau, Carter and Newkirk into his quarters. Once they had gathered there, Hogan said, "I think we have already covered how foolhardy this little stunt of yours was. Carter and LeBeau, you two will have no leave privileges for the next month. And for your part, Newkirk, you're restricted to camp for the next two weeks."
"Starting tomorrow night?" suggested Newkirk, hopefully.
"Tonight," Hogan firmly declared.
"But you already said I could go tonight," protested Newkirk. "The Fräulein leaves town in the morning."
"You should have considered that before you covered for them," Hogan insisted.
Newkirk was not ready to give up. "Let me put it this way, sir. If you weren't an officer, would you rat on your mates?"
"It would have kept them and the operation out of danger," Hogan pointed out.
"You didn't answer my question, sir. Besides, they did uncover that trap being set for the Underground."
"That's why you're all getting off so lightly. As to your question, I don't know. I've always been an officer."
Hogan couldn't miss Newkirk's desperation as he pleaded, "But, Gov'nor, the Fräulein, I promised I'd see her again tonight. You wouldn't want to disappoint her on her last night in Hammelburg and all, would you? She's expecting me."
Hogan eyed Newkirk closely as he contemplated the situation. Finally, he said, "All right. But that's it for two weeks. And you have to be back by midnight."
"You think I'm Cinderella or something?" Newkirk started to argue. Then, he noticed the look on Hogan's face. Afraid that the offer would be rescinded, Newkirk quickly apologized. "Sorry, sir. I'll be back by midnight."
"You're letting him go to town when we can't?" LeBeau complained.
"I can always make it two months," Hogan threatened.
"Non, mon Colonel. It's okay," LeBeau conceded.
"Then, I'd best be on me way if we're done here," Newkirk stated.
"I think we've covered it," Hogan agreed. "You three are dismissed."
- - -
Nimrod sat at a table in one of the rooms in the tunnels under Stalag 13. He was sewing some information inside one of the disguises that would be worn by the next escapees that Hogan sent to London. In a few hours, his contact would be taking the train to Bremen to continue her mission.
A quick glance at his watch told Nimrod that he would have to hurry. It was about ten minutes before midnight. Newkirk was expected back by then. Nimrod quickly finished taking the final stitches, then took a moment to admire his work.
Picking up the jacket, Nimrod headed over to where the disguises were stored. He had a feeling that Colonel Hogan had begun to suspect his identity. Of course, he wasn't too concerned. The colonel was one man you could trust with your life.
Nimrod chuckled as he hung the jacket back on the rack. If only they knew how close Nimrod actually was. And then, having had the last laugh, Corporal Peter Newkirk headed upstairs to join the others.
Author's note: I thought my choice had a lot of qualities that an agent of Nimrod's acclaim would need. As an efficient pickpocket, lock-picker and safe-cracker, he would be able to obtain all sorts of valuable information.
Oscar Danzig was considered a master of disguise but Newkirk did pretty good himself. He was very convincing in his little old lady impersonations and did well as an elderly gentleman in the disguise Danzig provided in "That's No Lady, That's My Spy."
He was skilled in the use of various weapons. In "Drums Along the Dusseldorf," he was able to hit the moving truck with the bow and arrow after Carter missed. He claimed it was because he was a descendant of Robin Hood. That, obviously, would have nothing to do with it. It may have just been a coincidence that he was able to hit it, but it is also possible that he might be a skilled archer. In "How to Cook a German Goose With Radar," Newkirk was able to throw a knife through the fence and flatten the tire on a car parked outside the camp near the watchtower.
He had several means available to relay information when necessary. The radio in the tunnel was easily accessible. He could use Schultz as a courier to deliver information to nearby contacts, much the way they did in the series. Newkirk did much of the tailoring work on the disguises used by the Heroes and the ones they provided to the escaping prisoners they helped send to England. He could sew this information inside those disguises for the unsuspecting escapees to deliver to his contacts there.
Newkirk was very adept at conning people into doing what he wanted and was able to talk his way out of all kinds of trouble. Forgery was another one of his skills. Considering Newkirk's background, he may have been an intelligence agent even before the war. In "Monkey Business," he spoke of traveling with a circus. This would have been a good cover for obtaining and relaying all sorts of information.
The major weakness that Newkirk had was the trust that he placed in women who proved to be deceitful, especially in "Sticky Wicket, Newkirk" and "Is There a Traitor in the House?" Newkirk's professed interest in women, however, would have its advantages as he could use it to meet with his contacts. He could also meet the wives and sweethearts of important government officials to glean valuable information or gain access to their residences. On at least one occasion, it seems that Newkirk used the emergency tunnel to leave the camp and go to Hammelburg without Hogan's knowledge, as hinted at in "The Experts."
Another reason I like Newkirk as Nimrod is that most of the Germans would likely be searching for someone impersonating a German in order to obtain critical information, either through normal channels or through subterfuge. Probably none of them would be expecting Nimrod to display his British citizenship openly as a POW in the only camp which was renowned for "no successful escapes." I also find it interesting that Newkirk is the only one absent when Hogan suggests their deception about Klink being Nimrod and when they find Nimrod's note in the model kit at the end of the show.