My apologies! I meant to post this story a week ago; however, I came down sick. Then I had to catch up on work before going on vacation, so more time went out the window. At least I get to use a special phrase for this one.
So…by special request of Deana and Sierra Sutherwinds for a Newkirk-themed story, here you go! I hope you enjoy it; more are planned.
Disclaimer: If I owned Hogan's Heroes, I could at least ship the kids off for a separate vacation….far, far, away:-)
Sometimes, Newkirk had to remind himself what he was fighting for.
Even as he addressed the letter to Mavis, a small part of him wished that he could go along with it. God, how he would love to see his little sister again.
Its been three years, Mavis, he thought angrily. Three bloody years that I haven't got to see you grow up, or to give you a hug. What will you think of me when I get out of here?
He sighed deeply, not sure if he wanted an answer to the question.
I'm glad you're doing well. You've got your own job - a government job, even - and your own flat. You've done everything I've hoped for and more. I always wanted the best for you, Mavis. If it had meant going to the nick so you could have a better life, I would have done it quicker than you could say Jack.
But will you still need me?
Newkirk pushed the thought aside and stood up. He eyed the wooden stool he had been sitting on before he kicked it with his foot; it toppled over to the floor with a dull thud. Without thinking about it, he jammed the letter in a jacket pocket before he left Barracks Two.
Unlike his sour mood, the day was sunny and warm. The light rain that had fallen earlier hadn't dampened anyone's spirits; most of the other prisoners were outside enjoying the weather or playing games. Instead of joining them, he leaned against the front wall of the Barracks before eyeing the barbed wire. It stood there, tauntingly, as if to say: you can never leave.
And it would be right.
How many times had he been outside the fence only to come back to his hell away from home? Sure, the German birds were nice; there was no denying that. However, he'd give his teeth to be able to leave and hear Cockney accents again, feel the warm smell of an English Pub…
To see Mavis again.
A strong wave of homesickness crashed against his soul. Damn the Krauts, he raged. Damn this stupid operation! Damn them all! In his anger, he missed part of what Louis LeBeau was saying; he hadn't even known the man was beside him.
"…officer, isn't he?"
Newkirk looked at him in confusion. "What did you say, Louie?" he asked.
LeBeau tipped his head and looked across the camp. Newkirk followed his friend's gaze until he saw Colonel Hogan; the American Officer was watching the baseball game that was taking place in the middle of the compound.
"Such an officer, isn't he?" LeBeau said, repeating his earlier statement. "The Americans don't know how lucky they are to have a man like him."
Newkirk grunted, but otherwise said nothing as the Frenchman continued.
"A man like that, having to deal with the Boche," LeBeau spat onto the ground in disgust. "A humiliation! Yet, he puts up with it for us…"
Newkirk eyed his French friend as his angry thoughts cooled. Instead, he felt a surge of guilt:
How many times has the Colonel taken over an axe on the wood cutting detail so someone could take a break? Shocked me, it did, the first time I saw that; I'd never seen an officer care for someone like that. Certainly not my officers, anyway. You'd think a stick was up their arse, the way they walked.
What about when Klink got all stuffy last winter about releasing that long underwear from the Red Cross shipment? Then again, the rusty eagle probably would have released it if it hadn't been for that damn Luftwaffe general that wanted to keep us in line. Hogan went toe to toe with that Kraut General and got thrown in the cooler for it. But we got the underwear, didn't we?
Even when we get in trouble, the Colonel is always there. He could leave our necks on the chopping block; instead, he would put himself in harm's way for us. And has. That's not even counting the damn Gestapo; Hochstetter would snatch him out of camp at a moment's notice. He knows it, yet he stays.
Bloody idiot, I am. Here I am, worrying about myself when I should be worrying about others. I'm glad Mavis is doing well; really, I am. I wouldn't mind going home either; that's also true.
On the other hand, I have to do my bit for King and Country first before seeing either of them again. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't be able to face my sister. I'd just be another coward, wouldn't I? I'm not that.
At least I can say that I've never run out on my friends. Then again, Carter, Kinchloe, and LeBeau aren't just my friends; they're my brothers. We look out for each other. I guess we kind of forgot that where the Colonel was concerned, you know.
Sometimes I wish that someone like him had been there when I was growing up, you know. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten into as much trouble as I did; he's the kind of man that makes you want to do things on the up-and-up instead of stealing.
Then again, it's been dead useful against the Krauts, hasn't it?
Newkirk looked over towards the Colonel, then silently nodded in agreement with LeBeau. "We should really do something for the man, you know," he finally said. "Something to let him know that we appreciate him."
LeBeau frowned thoughtfully. "But what can we do? Certainly we couldn't bring a girl to this pigsty. Besides, he has no trouble getting them on his own." There was a note of admiration in his voice.
The Englishman chuckled at that. "A true Frenchman, you are. Always thinking about love."
The other man snorted. "Of course. Better than the alternative." Both men had to laugh; even a field manual would be more interesting than Stalag 13. The grin slowly died from LeBeau's face as he thought about the problem. "So what do we do for the Colonel?" he asked, changing the subject.
Newkirk frowned. Good question, he thought. It wasn't like they could take him out to have a beer somewhere. No, a gift would be better. Something that Hogan would like…
Then it hit him. No question, he'd like that. His mind raced through the details at high speed before he nodded in satisfaction. It could be done.
"Hold on, I think I've got it," he said, a slow grin crossing his lips. "I know how we can do something for Colonel Hogan and get one over on the Krauts. That is, if you're willing to pay the price."
LeBeau nodded seriously, then grinned. If they were caught, they would be spending time in the cooler. The thought didn't bother him in the least; a good idea was worth it. "So what did you have in mind?" he asked.
Newkirk told him. It was the first time in a long while that he had actually seen his friend jump for joy. Well, when Marya wasn't around, anyway.
Now all they had to do was plan.
This particular item, of course, had to be handmade; there was no way they would be able to smuggle it in via an air drop. Someone would notice and would ask questions; they would have to get the various parts and have someone build it. This, in turn, led them to Barracks Eight and to one Curtis O'Malley.
After some negotiation, the balding technical sergeant agreed to make what they wanted. The price was steep, however: forty packs of American cigarettes and some assorted food items. The whole arrangement left Newkirk and LeBeau steaming; the American refused to come down on his price even though he knew it was for the Colonel. On the other hand, there was little doubt that Curtis would have it done right; his reputation as an operator was on the line. They either delivered or went out of business.
The scavenger hunt for all of the items they needed took over two weeks. The biggest luck was the cigarettes; three Lucky Strike cartons literally dropped into their lap from one of the air drops. Dame Fortune was certainly in their corner since LeBeau had been there to open the canvas pack that night. Even at that, it was playing hell to trade for the rest of the cigarettes: American Red Cross packages usually had only a few at a time, and most of those were smoked.
Little by little, the other pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Although Newkirk and LeBeau ran into a few snags here and there, they had few problems in getting what they needed. Keeping the secret from Colonel Hogan and the other men was easy enough; making the grins disappear was a bit harder. Once everything was collected, they handed the parts off and began the waiting game.
Some three weeks later, Curtis delivered the item. At long last, they were ready.
Colonel Hogan was wide awake even before the 0500 roll call.
One of the benefits of being the Senior POW - if there were any real benefits - were having his own personal quarters. The relative quiet gave him time to plan or think. In this case, it allowed him to write a letter.
He put the pen down by the lamp - illegally lit with power from the German side - and sighed. Another day.
Army life was hard; he had known that since West Point. In the years before the war, promotions were slow and choice assignments few. The knowledge that he was the best at what he did kept him from resigning; even General Marshall had recognized that when he had promoted Hogan two grades in rank to full Colonel. Being a part of a fraternity of brothers - men who would lay their lives down for you, just as you would for them - was something that called to his soul.
Then again, he had never expected to land in a POW camp; it almost made the society lifestyle and family business seem like fun. Almost.
As usual, he checked on his men and thanked God no one in the Barracks was sick; life was hard enough as is. Newkirk and LeBeau looked cheerful for some reason, though he didn't know why. Then again, he probably didn't want to know.
After taking a quick look around the barracks for stragglers, Colonel Hogan walked outside to take his place at the end of the ranks. Schultz did his count; as usual, the Rusty Eagle was there to receive it. He would either retreat into his office or…
"Prisoners of the Third Reich, I bring you news of the war…"
Hogan inwardly groaned as he heard Klink began to speak. He started to open his mouth to object to the propaganda lesson - he should just let us have newspapers; the boys could put them to good use, Hogan wryly thought - when he noticed something strange about Schultz.
The Luftwaffe Sergeant had a shocked expression on his pale face; it was a few moments before he could stutter out, "Herr…Herr Ko-Kommandant…"
If anything, Klink loved his speeches; he eyed the sergeant with a glare. "Schultz!" he barked in an annoyed tone, "wait until I am finished!" Without waiting for an answer, he turned his attention back to the sullen POW's; his monocle eyed them expectantly. "As I was saying, the flag of the Third Reich flies from all points…"
As the Kommandant continued his talk, Hogan eyed Schultz; the fat guard was pale and obviously nervous. What's eating him, anyway? Hogan wondered. As he followed the sergeant's gaze straight up, his jaw dropped in shock.
As usual, the pole above the Kommandant's office flew a flag. This time, however, it was an American one. The reflected glow of the harsh camp lights took nothing away from the forty-eight star banner as it fluttered in the morning breeze; he could see every star, every stripe…
Hogan's throat tightened. Without really thinking about it, he snapped to attention and saluted. His cover flew off of his head and onto the ground, but he didn't care; his eyes were only on the flag as Klink's voice receded into the distance.
The Kommandant, meanwhile, looked at Hogan curiously as the American Colonel stood to attention; he only stopped speaking when the other men - some pointing and whispering - followed the Senior POW's action and saluted. Even the airmen who weren't Americans followed suit; Klink was pleased. To have the enemy salute him!
It took another minute before he noticed that the enemy airmen were looking up for some reason. With a feeling of dread, Klink marched down the wooden steps and looked at the roof…
…just in time to see an American flag catch a gust of wind and stretch out to its full length. The Kommandant's monocle fell onto the dusty ground even as his own mouth opened soundlessly. That was not to last; Klink's fist flew in rage.
"SCHUUULTZ!" he yelled.
As the flag was hauled down and replaced with the correct one, Hogan's hand came down and wiped the tears from his eyes before his body resumed its normal slouch. Even though the Stars and Stripes were gone, he could still see the flag in his mind's eye; the Germans couldn't take that away from him.
Newkirk and LeBeau, meanwhile, stepped quickly out of the ranks when the Kommandant demanded to know who the culprits were. It was their idea, after all; they had no desire to get the entire camp in trouble. The punishment was just as swift in Klink's office.
"Thirty days in the cooler! Dis-missed!" Klink said, waving his left hand toward the door. Newkirk and LeBeau started to protest, but the Air Corps Colonel held up his hand.
"Sir, that's not fair!" Hogan protested. "The Geneva Convention states-"
"-that I have the right to discipline for camp offences," Klink said, cutting him off. "Get out!"
Hogan eyed him with a glare before changing his tune; his voice became slightly softer. "Then blame me. I put them up to it." The two enlisted men looked at him curiously; what was the Colonel up to?
"Ah-HA!" Klink said, waving his finger in the air. He came around the desk to face the American. "So you were the one that told them to do it!"
"No, but I might as well have," Hogan said, then paused. "They did it for my birthday, sir."
All three sets of eyes looked at Hogan in disbelief. "Your birthday…" Klink murmured. He didn't even know the American's birthday; even the Gestapo had been unable to get that bit of information.
"Well, you know," Hogan began, "the men decided to get me a birthday present this year; I guess they went a little overboard. You should know how it is; I'm sure your own men have done something like that."
Klink frowned even as Hogan sighed again. "If you want to throw anyone on the cooler, I'll go; I'm the one responsible-"
That was as far as he got before Newkirk and LeBeau spoke up and crowded in on Klink with angry voices.
"He knew nothing about it-"
"The Colonel is innocent-"
"SILENCE!" the Kommandant bellowed. He looked at Hogan, his face thoughtful.
I should throw all of you in the cooler; that display would have earned me a trip to the Russian Front! Klink thought furiously. Fortunately, no one else saw it, thank God! Schultz, of course, can see to the guards. After a few moments, he spoke again.
"As a favor to you, Hogan," Klink said as he walked back behind his desk, "I will show leniency and reduce the sentence to a week in the cooler. I will also hold you personally responsible for further incidents. Is that understood?"
Hogan nodded. "Yes, sir," he said soberly, realizing that Klink would go no further. "May I ask what you are planning to do with the flag?" he asked.
I should just burn the damn thing, for all the trouble it caused!Klink thought, then relented. "I will store it properly; you have my word as a German officer. Now, if there's nothing else…"
"Just one more thing, sir," Hogan asked. "You wouldn't mind sharing a cigar in honor of my birthday, would you?"
"Of course," he said, reaching for the cigar box, "I…" He stopped and realized what he was doing; a sneer crossed his face as he leaned over the desk and glared at Hogan.
"OUT!" Klink yelled, pointing at the door.
Schultz, of course, was waiting for them outside the office; this time he knew everything.
The men were quiet as they marched to the cooler. With a clatter of keys, the two enlisted men were locked in the cell; Hogan pulled the Luftwaffe Sergeant aside.
"Schultz," he asked, "could you give me a minute?"
"I can't, Colonel Hogan," Schultz pleaded, shaking his head. "It's against regulations…"
The American pulled a Hershey bar out of his pocket and watched the NCO's eyes light up. "How about for one of these?"
"Danke, Colonel Hogan!" Schultz said happily. "I'll be over there," he said, pointing at the cooler entrance; he then walked off to enjoy his prize.
"Alright, guys," Hogan said when the German was out of earshot, "what made you do it?"
"Well, it was a right nice plan, it was," Newkirk said, grinning. The shorter man snorted.
"My plan as well," LeBeau interjected, hitting the Englishman on the arm. "Took us long enough to make it."
"The look on old Klink's face was priceless," Newkirk laughed. "I thought he was going to blow a gasket. And that rubbish about your birthday! I got to hand it to you, Colonel; you really had Klink going with that one!"
Surprising both men, Hogan's face fell; for a moment, he seemed disappointed. "You really didn't know," he began wonderingly. Newkirk looked at LeBeau as if to say What's he on about? before turning back to the Senior POW.
"What's that, sir?" he asked.
"Oh, it's just…" Hogan began, then paused. "I wasn't lying to Klink. Today's my birthday. You guys really didn't know, did you?"
Both men shook their heads in shock. "No, Colonel, we didn't," Newkirk began. "We just did it for fun. We had no idea." LeBeau nodded in agreement. It was a moment before the Colonel could speak again.
"That was really nice of you, guys," he softly said, looking each man in the eye. "Thank you." Just then all three men heard Schultz's voice calling from the other end of the corridor; the Colonel nodded his head.
"Keep it to yourselves, ok? I don't want the camp to know," he said. Both enlisted men nodded as Hogan smiled. "Just take it easy; I'll send Carter over with dinner later."
With that, Colonel Hogan turned away and walked down the corridor; a moment later the cooler door closed with an echoing bang, leaving the men alone in the cellblock. Newkirk and LeBeau looked at each other in silent wonder.
"His birthday," LeBeau finally said. "I would have never known…" his voice trailed off.
"Neither would I, Louie," Newkirk admitted. A thought occurred to him. "God does work in mysterious ways, doesn't it?" The words surprised him. Since when did he turn religious?
At least LeBeau seemed to think so; his head nodded in agreement. Newkirk sat down against the cool stone wall and let his thoughts go free.
I would have never guessed that it was the Colonel's birthday. Strange, how things go sometimes.
At least it was a good joke. Someday, when all of this is over, I'll get to tell Mavis about all this; it will be good to hear her laugh again. That's something to go for.
LeBeau's voice brought the Englishman back to reality. "What's that, Louie?"
"You don't think Carter will try to cook dinner, will you?" The French cook looked slightly sick at the thought. Newkirk, for his part, felt nauseous.
Do you suppose the Krauts would consider that to be enough punishment?
A/N: As a side note to the part about Curtis and the cigarettes….Americans in Japanese POW camps were pretty much the only nationality to take trading to the extreme. For instance, you could trade part of your (godawful) food ration for cigarettes or other smoking material; you could literally die for your habit. Some did.
I would also submit that a POW in a German camp, regardless of nationality, would probably salute any flag that didn't have a swastika on it. I actually got this idea from one of the episodes; for some reason, the Nazi banner was never lit up at night. You think it would be, but...
Flag Day (U.S.) is June 14th, BTW; be sure to show yours!