For Tirathon's "to use be or not to use be" challenge. If I've slipped up and perpetrated any, please feel free to make fun of me in your reviews.


Carter squeezed the water from an undershirt that had seen better days, dropped it into the bucket that served duty as a laundry basket, and started to wash the next in the heap of tattered nether garments awaiting his attention; all the while whistling a tuneless, but rhythmic whistle.

"Carter," said Newkirk, "do you have to do that?"

"Well, they won't wash themselves, you know," Carter replied, quite reasonably.

The look Newkirk turned on him would have withered a more sensitive soul, but Carter, accustomed to it, never even noticed.

The splendid bulk known as Sergeant Schultz came into view around the end of the barracks hut, and approached the laundry party with a slow, despondent tread.

"Hiya, Schultz," said Carter.

"You look as if you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders, Schultzie," remarked Newkirk.

Schultz scowled. "Mister Big Shot," he replied, "Kommandant Klink, has given himself a week's furlough. In an hour's time, he will set off for Baden Baden, leaving us to the not very tender mercies of Captain Gruber. For one whole week."

"Gosh, some people have all the luck," Carter said. "I wouldn't complain about a week in Baden Baden. Actually, I wouldn't even complain about a week in South Bend, Indiana. Boy, they got a great car museum there. You know, they've got the first ever…"

"Carter, why don't you just finish washing the Colonel's long johns?" Newkirk interrupted in a weary tone. "Schultz, I never thought you'd miss old Klink if he went away."

"You obviously do not remember the last time Gruber took command of the camp," replied Schultz. "He made us patrol the woods. All night. Every night. In winter. And I had holes in my boots."

"Oh, yeah…I do remember that," Newkirk murmured. "We didn't have much fun that week, either, come to think of it."

He sent a look of apprehension at Carter, who raised his eyebrows in agreement, also recalling that particularly joyless and unproductive (in terms of mayhem created) occasion.

Schultz heaved a sigh, shouldered his rifle, and moved on.

Newkirk leaned back against the barracks wall and folded his arms. "Andrew, we've got a lot on this week, haven't we?"

"We sure have," replied Carter. "The railway junction at Berndsdorf , that new ball bearing plant in Weizenfeld, not to mention the ping pong tournament in the recreation hall on Friday."

"I thought so," said Newkirk thoughtfully. "How the Kommandant can bear to go away at a time like this…I think maybe we should do something to discourage him. Don't you think he'd like his car washed, before he goes?"

Carter snickered. "I think he would, Newkirk."

An hour later, Kommandant Klink came out of his quarters, beaming the happy beam of a man escaping the everyday drudgery of existence for a joyful week of personal indulgence among the thermal springs, and followed by a mountain of baggage apparently moving under its own motive power, although the legs underneath bore a strong resemblance to those of Schultz. Colonel Hogan came out of the barracks, and joined Carter and Newkirk as they watched the Kommandant's preparation for departure.

"A week in Baden Baden. Well, he knows how to look after number one, all right," Hogan remarked.

"He does, sir," agreed Newkirk.

Klink got into the driver's seat and prepared to set off.

"But he won't get very far," Newkirk went on. "He hasn't got enough petrol."

"Yeah, we drained it out," added Carter. "Seemed a shame to waste it on a non-essential journey. Especially in war time."

"That won't stop him," said Hogan. "He'll just come back and have it filled up again."

"I don't think so," replied Carter. "We didn't leave it empty."

A cloud of smoke started pouring from beneath the staff car, as the motor made some truly extraordinary noises. Hogan turned to his men, a slow grin developing across his face.

"What did you guys do?" he asked.

Newkirk and Carter exchanged looks. "Well, sir," explained Newkirk, rather smugly, "we had to do something with all that soapy water…"