Well You See, Sir, It Was Like This
An answer to challenge #297, by 96 Hubbles. One or more of the guys go out on a mission without Hogan. When they fail, they have to come back and explain why.
A/N: I got this idea from a scene in the movie, The Court Jester, from 1955, starring Danny Kaye. I watched it about a year ago, after Deana mentioned it to me. It's one of her favorite movies, and one of mine, now, too! I hope you enjoy it, even if you're not familiar with the movie. :)
Hogan paced back and forth in the tunnel; his nervousness over the current mission evident. Newkirk and Carter should have returned hours ago, and he was obviously attempting to burn off the worry as fast as it was overwhelming him. He glanced over at Kinch, who was manning the radio, and could tell he hadn't heard anything. He sighed, and continued to pace; willing his men to return safely.
Suddenly, Hogan heard voices coming from the tunnel leading to the tree stump exit, and stopped in his tracks. He and Kinch both looked in the direction of the noise, and breathed a sigh of relief when Newkirk and Carter came into view. They were arguing amongst themselves – which was certainly nothing new – but when they reached the main tunnel and saw Hogan standing there, staring at them expectantly, they quickly shut up.
Hogan didn't waste any time. "So, what happened? Did you get the information?"
Newkirk and Carter exchanged looks. Then Newkirk piped up, "Well, you see, sir, it was like this…"
"It wasn't our fault!" Carter interjected.
"Andrew, let me tell 'im!"
Hogan frowned. "Someone better tell me!" he exclaimed angrily.
Newkirk took a deep breath, and began to explain. "We got to the Hoffbrau, just like we were supposed to. But, when we got inside, we didn't see the contact anywhere."
"You mean, the guy with the brace on his leg, who was supposed to have a briefcase for you?" Kinch said.
"That's just it," Carter replied, "There was a guy there with a brace, but he didn't have the briefcase with him. In fact, he didn't even know the recognition code."
Newkirk saw Hogan's expression darken, and quickly jumped in. "But the waitress knew the code, and she told us to go to the Heidelberg Hotel, where we would find the man who had the briefcase."
"Yeah, Colonel," Carter said, "She had this necklace on, that had a huge pearl right in the middle. It must have cost her a fortune! Of course, she might have a rich boyfriend, or maybe her family passed it along to her – "
"Carter," Newkirk retorted angrily, "The gov'nor doesn't care about that!"
Carter suddenly noticed both Newkirk and Hogan's glare, and quickly apologized. "Oh, yeah, sorry about that, sir."
Newkirk rolled his eyes. "So, we went to the Heidelberg Hotel, but when we got there, we couldn't find the ruddy man with the briefcase. We hung around for a while, and then some man finally came by, and he knew the code."
"Yeah, he was kind of stocky, and his face was dark, like he had a deep tan – "
"Carter, do you mind?" Newkirk said, cutting him off. "Anyway," he continued, "He told us he 'ad a package for us outside, so we followed 'im into the alley."
"Probably not the smartest thing to do," Carter commented.
Newkirk shot him a warning glance; then continued. "He showed us to a car out back, and told us we'd find what we were lookin' for in the trunk. He also said we should get out of town right away. Then he gave us the keys to the car and left."
"So, did you look in the trunk?" Kinch asked, getting caught up in the story.
"We were going to," Carter answered, "But when we looked up the street, we saw some men from the Gestapo walking by, and figured that's why the guy told us to leave. So we got in the car and drove off."
Newkirk nodded at Hogan. "That's right, sir. We decided it'd be a mite safer if we drove to a remote area in the country, before 'avin' a look in the trunk." He paused, glancing nervously at Carter.
Hogan leaned against the table and folded his arms. "Go on," he said calmly, trying to keep his growing impatience at bay.
Newkirk took a deep breath. "Well, sir, we 'eaded out of town, and drove back in the direction of Stalag 13 – "
"Yeah, and right when we were getting close, we got a flat tire!"
"Andrew, who's tellin' this – you, or me?"
"Oh, uh, sorry, Newkirk. Go ahead."
Newkirk saw Hogan's frown deepen, and forged ahead. "Right, so we pulled over and got out of the car. We went 'round back to open the trunk, and as soon as we did – "
"We saw the man with the brace on his leg in there, and he was pointing a gun at us!"
"Carter!" Newkirk exclaimed angrily.
Carter looked at him apologetically. "I can't help it, I just get excited – "
"Get on with it!" Hogan shouted in exasperation.
"Yes, sir," Newkirk replied sheepishly. "Carter's right, the man with the brace was in the trunk, and he 'ad the briefcase with 'im. When he saw it was us, he put 'is gun away and climbed out of the trunk – with a little 'elp from us. Then he told us he was tryin' to get out of town because a group of Russian spies were after the briefcase."
"Yeah, and then, all of a sudden this car showed up, and a bunch of men jumped out, and one of 'em was the guy from the Heidelberg Hotel. And they had the girl from the Hoffbrau with them, too!"
Kinch raised his eyebrow. "You mean the waitress that had the pearl necklace?" he asked.
"Yeah. Boy, was she pretty! Not very nice, though."
"Carter, I'm warnin' you," Newkirk muttered threateningly.
Carter's eyes widened with indignation. "Well, geez, Newkirk, I'm just trying to help! I was there, too, you know."
"Fine, Andrew, you tell the gov'nor then!"
"No, it's all right, Newkirk, you can tell him."
Hogan glared at them. "I'm gonna court-martial you both if you don't tell me what happened right now!"
Carter gulped. "Yes, sir," he shot a glance at Newkirk, and continued, "Well, the guy from the Heidelberg Hotel, you know, the one with the tan, well, he pulled a gun on us and told the guy with the brace to hand over the briefcase and come with him. Then one of the other guys looked into the trunk that we'd just opened, and pulled out a sack."
"The sack was full of money, Colonel." Newkirk said, picking up the story, "The man from the Hotel took it out of the sack and stuffed it into 'is pockets. Then he threw the empty sack back into the trunk, and made the man with the brace get into his car."
"Yeah, and then they all got in the car and drove away," Carter said, "Except for the guy who pulled the sack out of the trunk. I think he was supposed to take care of us, if you know what I mean." Carter fashioned his hand like a gun, put his index finger to his head, and, pulling his thumb down; shouted, "Bang!"
Newkirk scowled at him. "I think the gov'nor understands, Carter." He looked back at Hogan. "He started yellin' at us, in Russian, I think, and pointed to the tire. So I went over and pulled out the jack, and changed the ruddy tire meself – "
"I would have helped you if I could, but that guy had his gun pointed at me!"
Newkirk rolled his eyes. "When I finished, I went to put the jack away. I waited until that Russian bloke wasn't lookin', and I stuffed the jack into the empty sack that was in the trunk. Then I showed the sack to 'im, and told 'im it looked like there was still money in it. He walked over to see, and when he bent over, I brought up the sack and 'it him in right on 'is head!"
"Yeah, you should have seen it, Colonel! The Russian guy fell right over. I bet Newkirk gave him one heck of a concussion!"
"Then what happened?" Kinch asked, totally engrossed in the tale by now.
"We picked up the Russian, and stuffed 'im into the trunk," Newkirk said, "Then we closed the trunk and tossed the key up into the nearest tree."
Carter nodded. "Yeah, and then we came back here, and saw you waiting for us. And that's what happened, Colonel."
Hogan stared at them for a moment, trying to make sense of what he'd just heard. "So, let me get this straight," he said at last, "You met the man with the brace who had the case – "
Newkirk shook his head. "No, the man with the brace didn't 'ave the case."
"That's right," Hogan replied, "So, you went to see the man without a brace, who had the case – "
"Uh, no, sir," Carter interrupted, "Actually, the girl with the pearl sent us to see the man with the tan, but he didn't have the case, either."
"Okay," Hogan tried again, "The man with the brace didn't have the case, so the girl with the pearl sent you to see the man with the tan."
"Right!" Newkirk exclaimed, "Now you're gettin' it!"
"Only, the man with the tan didn't have the case, either," Hogan continued, "But he gave you the keys to a car, and you drove away. Then you had a flat tire, and when you opened the trunk, the man with the brace was there, and he had the case."
"Yes, sir!" Carter responded enthusiastically, "The man with the brace did have the case!"
"Then the man with the tan and the girl with the pearl showed up, and took away the man with the brace who had the case," Hogan said.
"You've got it, gov'nor," Newkirk replied, smiling.
"Then the man with the tan left a Russian agent to get rid of you, two," Hogan said, glancing back and forth between Newkirk and Carter, "But you knocked him out with the jack in the sack."
Newkirk nodded. "Right, Colonel."
"Then, you put the Russian with the concussion into the trunk, and threw the key into a tree, and came back here," Hogan concluded.
"Yes, that's it; you've got it, sir!" Newkirk exclaimed.
Hogan let out a big sigh. "Yeah, I got it; I just wish I understood it!"
"It's simple, sir," Kinch piped up, "You want me to repeat it?"
"No!" Hogan exclaimed, "I think I've heard enough." He let out a sigh. "Well, in any case, it's time to get some sleep. We'll go over the details again in the morning." He gestured for the men to go up to the barracks, and followed after. Newkirk was the last to climb up the ladder ahead of him, and just before the Englishman disappeared, Hogan stopped him and said, "Next time I would appreciate a clearer explanation. Get it?"
Newkirk nodded. "Got it."
Hogan smiled. "Good."