Klink, like many amateur musicians, had an extremely overblown opinion of his talent. Of course, this lack of denial was only supported by Colonel Hogan's ceaseless attempts to inflate Klink's ego. His latest scam culminated in Klink thinking his quartet was being recorded and that the record would be sent to a person who could get Klink a recording contract. Of course, Klink had no idea the recording taking place occurred in the recreation hall and captured a high level meeting of German generals. Klink happily thought his performance would be sent to the English corporal's uncle, the talent scout. It had never occurred to Klink to question why a British citizen would be willing to represent a German, who was holding his dear nephew prisoner, either. And so, the Kommandant happily retired for the evening…
Klink, his conductor's baton securely fixed under his left arm, was standing in the rear of the auditorium. He strutted down the center aisle towards the stage and, thrusting his head forward, glared at his charges.
They all stared at him with disinterested expressions. And what was worse, they were disheveled. This would not do. In fact it was a disgrace.
"Here!" The rest of the group snickered. Klink stomped forward. The Colonel was hidden in the rear in the percussion section. He was seated at a large drum set and was nonchalantly flipping his drumsticks.
"Hooogaaan what is the meaning of this?" Klink waved his arm at the rest of the orchestra. LeBeau was at the player piano, the large tear in his sweater clearly visible to the audience. Baker had been assigned to the bass, and instead of warming up with scales, he was playing a swing beat, every so often stopping to twirl the instrument. Sergeant Carter was polishing a trumpet with his gloves on, for some reason, while Hogan's second, that Sergeant Kinchloe, was missing from his seat as first violinist. Other prisoners were at their spots, but they were out of uniform. Instead of tuxedos, they all seemed to be wearing a variety of olive green drab.
Klink repeated his question. "Hogan, what is the meaning of this? You are out of formation. "
Hogan got up and meandered over to the front of the stage. He stood head to head with the Kommandant.
"Ah, Colonel," he whined. "This is the third rehearsal you've called in 24 hours. Have a heart, sir; you're too tough on them. Look at them, sir," he turned and, on cue, the men started coughing, falling asleep in their seats and playing their instruments out of tune. "Look at them, they're exhausted. " Hogan gazed doe-eyed into Klink's face and pouted.
"If I may, sir?" It was the English corporal who had been assigned to the triangle. He couldn't play anything, but seeing that it was his uncle, Klink was forced to find him an instrument. "Me uncle, 'e's in the business. 'E says the artists union allows for breaks, every 'alf 'our. 'Ere, it says so right 'ere in this contract." Newkirk pulled a wrinkled piece of paper from his pants pocket. "And lunch."
"Lunch? We have no lunch."
"Oh! I'll be happy to get it, sir." Hogan started to walk out.
"Hooogaaaan! Come back here! You're a prisoner. Schultz?"
"See to lunch and see that the prisoners stay in their orchestra section."
"Jawohl, Kommandant." Schultz turned on his heels, spoke to another guard and then turned to Colonel Hogan. "Please, Colonel Hooogaaan. Don't make any trouble. Go back to your drums."
"Well, okay. But I offered to make the run." Hogan, insulted, headed back to his drum set.
"Attention. Attention." Klink tapped his music stand. "Everyone." The prisoners had taken comfortable positions and were chatting with each other.
"Quiet!" Hogan stopped the bantering.
Klink raised his baton and prepared to conduct. "Our first piece, Wagner."
Hogan sprung up. "Kommandant, I protest. This is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention: Article 12, Section 3, Subsection 8, Paragraph 2. No prisoners should be forced to participate in an orchestration of Hitler's favorite composer."
Disgusted, Klink tore off the sheet of music and threw it on the floor. "Very well, Colonel. You win. What would be your pleasure? Joplin? Sousa? Berlin? Porter?"
"Ooh! I like that one," Carter piped up. "We'll take a vote! Men?" Fifty voices at once drowned out Klink's pleas.
Hogan was back at his drums. "That's very generous of you , sir." Ba dum bum. "But that's not necessary. Your orchestra, your choice."
"Very well, then. Klink adjusted his monocle and looked through his music. "Ah. Chopin. The piece is the Minute Waltz."
"I don't know how to play that, Kommandant!"
"Use the think system."
"Never mind." Klink raised his baton and the orchestra members readied their instruments.
"Wait!" Hogan again stood up.
"Hogan, what is it now?"
"No time for a minute waltz. Late for roll call."
"Fine. 30 seconds."
Satisfied, Hogan sat back down. Ba dum dum.
"Hooogaaaan! Will you stop with the drum rolls!"
"Again." The orchestra began playing and let out a sound that would have elicited a surrender by any army within hearing distance. Schultz covered his ears and Klink basically threw down his baton and cried.
"You look terrible, sir. Bad night?" Hogan had barged into Klink's office to bargain for more white bread or something equally mundane, Klink supposed.
"Hogan, what is it that you want?"
"More white bread."
"I gave you more white bread last week, in exchange for snow removal."
"We wanted marmalade, sir. Butter is so boring." Hogan grabbed the chair and plopped himself down. He began to reach for the cigars and had his hand slapped. "Ooh. Testy. You need to relax, sir."
"Hogan, leave me alone."
"The bread?" Hogan grabbed a couple of pencils and began drumming them on the desk.
"No bread. No marmalade. Hogan, what are you doing?" Klink reached over and grabbed the pencils.
"Sorry. Force of habit." Hogan stood up. "More electricity? Say, an extra half hour, and we'll chop some wood."
"Out!" Klink stood up and pointed at the door.
"All right. I'm leaving." Hogan began to walk out and turned. "You know, sir. Try listening to some music. It will calm you down."
Klink watched the Colonel leave and then walked over to the small record collection he kept in his office. Perhaps Hogan was correct. Music was soothing. He made his choice, removed the vinyl album from the jacket, put it on the turntable and turned on the machine. The sound of Brahm's In Stiller Nacht filled the air and spilled out into the outer office. Hogan, who had been having a short "conference" with Hilda, Klink's secretary, paused as he heard the music.
"I never thought he would listen to my suggestion. Surprised he didn't put on Wagner," he commented.
"He never listens to Wagner." Hilda replied. "Unless someone important is here."
Hogan digested that bit of information and increased his opinion of Klink one notch. He turned back towards the door to the Kommandant's office and slowly opened it several inches. Klink, his eyes closed, was leaning back in his chair, his feet resting on his desk. Holding a pencil, he was conducting an imaginary orchestra.
Hogan quietly closed the door. "Music soothes the savage beast," he whispered. Hilda giggled.
"Come back later," she said. "He may be more agreeable then."
"You can count on it." Hogan winked at the secretary, then left the office. Walking back to the barracks, he plotted his next unreasonable request. This time, he decided, he would push for pumpernickel.