Sorry for the confusion with the last chapter. It wasn't the end...
Boswell and Garrett were hidden in the back of a farm vehicle. Not only was Garrett stifling sneezes due to the hay, but his partner's encounter with wildlife the previous evening left him in a really foul mood, and forced him to settle in as far as way from the New Yorker as possible.
"Leave it to you to hold out your hand and say, 'Hi, kitty'."
"It was cute, and how was I supposed to know it was a skunk? I'm used to rats in subway tunnels. Beside, listen to you. How can someone who grew up in Florida be allergic to straw?"
"I told you I grew up near Miami, not in the middle of nowhere," Garrett stifled another sneeze. "God, you stink! First thing we do is find an Allied aid station. I just hope any Germans we run into can't smell." He paused as artillery fire could be heard.
The wagon came to a stop, and the driver stepped out and whispered into the hay, "I can't go any further. We're at the river, and there's no way to cross. The Germans are holding all the bridges, the West bank of the river, and the Siegfried line."
The two spies hopped out, and wiped the hay off their clothes. Their contact wrinkled his nose at the stench. "Find some tomato juice and take a bath in it."
"Gee, thanks." Boswell was ready to strip right there, and jump into the river. Of course, with the below freezing temperatures, he'd freeze before getting rid of the stench.
"And watch the river," the German warned. "It could be mined."
"Oh, how nice. That's just lovely." Garrett grabbed a pair of binoculars and scanned the shoreline. "You two get going. We'll take it from here. And thanks."
"Good luck." The German civilian rejoined his wife and headed east, leaving the allergy stricken Garrett and the smelly Boswell pondering their next step.
"We can't swim. We'll freeze to death."
"Way to state the obvious, oh, one who reeks. Achoo! My eyes are starting to swell shut."
"Looks like the nearest bridge is about a kilometer from here," Boswell said as he looked at a map. "Anyone looking at us would think we didn't think this through," he grumbled. "Don't rub your eyes! It will make it worse."
"Not our fault the plane coming to get us was shot down," Garrett retorted, ignoring Boswell's advice. He rubbed his eyes. "Good thing we had a plan B."
"B for, 'Bet you never thought we'd end up like this on the shore of the Rhine, without a working radio'."
"Yeah, well, being shot at, and running full-speed away from an enraged – nothing left to lose – SS platoon, I thought speed was of the essence. Didn't need the added weight; that's why I blew it up. Shhh, I hear something," Garrett held up his hand. Without a word, their training kicked in, and the two agents flung themselves into a ditch near the water and waited silently. To their surprise, two older German soldiers were heading in their direction. It appeared they had been separated from their unit and were trying to make their way back to one of the bridges, which were more heavily manned and fortified.
Several moments later, the two were unfortunately dead, and Boswell and Garrett were now wearing their uniforms. Garrett looked down at the men, whom he estimated were in their fifties. He shook his head at the waste, and then helped Boswell dig a ditch with one of the German's entrenching tools, in which to bury the two. Along with the bodies, they buried the dog tags and identification papers, as those would be no help to them. Their Swiss, SS, Gestapo, and Wehrmacht ID's were discarded, as was their satchel. "Of all the ranks to get," Garrett complained, "We had to get two privates. Next time we should our order our fake IDs in every available rank." The ground was partially frozen, so it took a while, and both agents were exhausted by the time they were done. They ate the meager rations stolen from the soldiers, and plodded on toward the bridge, hoping they were talented and wary enough to get across.
"If we're lucky, there won't be a next time." A rumble heading their way made them stop in their tracks. As the small convoy of trucks carrying troops got closer, Boswell began waving. He and his partner began running alongside the first truck, which had slowed down. "We got separated from our unit. You heading to the other side?" Boswell asked the driver.
"Hop on. We need all the men we can get." The driver pointed to the back.
The two Americans climbed up onto the back, and nodded at the rest of the soldiers crowded alongside them. They all looked tired, hungry and battle-weary. Fortunately none of them looked closely enough at Boswell and Garrett to notice the lack of dog tags. The passengers were silent as they crossed over one of the bridges, and headed towards the front. At the first command post, the men jumped off the truck and started marching, while Boswell and Garrett lingered in the back. At the earliest opportunity, they fell behind and headed towards the woods.
They hid until nightfall; then made their move. Heading west towards Aachen, which had already been taken by the Allies, the two stayed off the roads, and avoided the Germans until daylight. By now, they were freezing, wet and hungry. "Still heading in the right direction," Boswell glanced at his map and compass. "'Bout 15 more miles."
"If we make it through the artillery," Garrett commented. The Floridian was stomping up and down, trying to keep warm. He blew on his hands, and glanced upward as a squadron of American planes flew over. Both men then dove for cover as an explosion tore up the road behind them. More explosions followed, and the two half-ran, half-dived further into the woods.
"This can't continue." Garrett glanced up and spotted a German patrol, the reason for the attack, he assumed. The men were running east, in an attempt to get away from Allied fire. The Allies had great aim, as they bombarded the road ahead of the German platoon. Soon there was quiet. "I say we surrender," Garrett told Boswell. "Before we get killed."
Boswell remained silent for several minutes as he thought about their chances of making it through the front line in one piece. He sighed and then took off his overcoat and shirt. Shivering, he pulled off his white undershirt and handed it to his partner. While putting his clothes back on, he said, "You better hope the first Americans we see aren't trigger-happy."
The two kept close to the ground, as they searched for a soldier to surrender to. This fruitless exercise went on for the next hour as they continued to head west while dodging both German and American artillery. "Now I know why they dig foxholes," Boswell muttered.
Finally, they spotted movement in the distance. Garrett grabbed his binoculars and took a look. "Yeah, those are Americans." The two threw down their rifles and, waving the undershirt, they boldly marched toward the small unit they had discovered. Oddly, the soldiers weren't looking in their direction, so Garrett let out a large whistle. Five men turned.
"Holy moley, it's the Germans!" a young soldier yelled. He and his buddies began to scramble for their weapons.
"Stop right there and put your hands on your heads," one said in slow, broken German. "Wow, wait 'til I write home and tell them I captured some Germans." He nudged the man next to him.
Boswell and Garrett looked at each other; then looked at the five Americans nervously coming towards them. One young man, who looked to be about twenty, approached the two. "Do you speak English?"
"All my life," Garrett stated. Boswell took a step aside and spied what appeared to be tables, pots and cooking utensils.
He chuckled, "Hey, Mitch. It looks like we've been captured by the guys behind the Woolworth's lunch counter. Guess we got further than we thought."
They began to walk forward when a private stopped them. "Don't move another inch. You are our prisoners! I wonder if we'll get a medal for this," he whispered to his buddy.
Playing along, Boswell stopped and said slowly, "Can you take us to the nearest officer? We're willing to tell you everything. Just don't shoot."
"Go get the lieutenant," a corporal told a private, who dropped his weapon where he stood and ran. "Would you like something to eat?" he asked.
"No, thanks, we'll just stay right here," Boswell answered.
Garrett protested. "Wait a minute, that's not polite. I wouldn't mind a grilled cheese sandwich and an egg cream."
The corporal guarding the two looked at them curiously. "Are you sure you're German?"
"Actually," Boswell began. He stopped as he spied a lieutenant following the cook.
The lieutenant came forward. "Name, rank and serial number." He looked at the two and waited.
"We're not Germans," Garrett told the lieutenant. "We're actually military intelligence. Can we use your radio?"
The lieutenant laughed. "Uh huh. Did you run into a skunk?" he asked Boswell in German. "C'mon. I've heard that song before. March."
With their hands on their heads, a still-reeking Boswell and a sneezing Garrett followed the lieutenant; while the mess cooks, wielding an assortment of weapons pointed at the two, took up the rear. They were shortly seen into a tent furnished with a table, several lights, radio equipment, and a few chairs.
"Sit," the lieutenant ordered as he swept the maps off of the table and rolled them up.
Garrett sat down. "Yeah. Look, we really need to contact somebody. Our cover was blown and we've been called back to London." Boswell nodded as he also took a seat.
The lieutenant shrugged as he took the seat facing the two agents. "Name, rank and serial number, and then we'll take you to the rear where you can be the guests of Uncle Sam. Let's go. I'm really getting tired of this."
"These aren't our uniforms," Boswell argued as he began to strip. "Look, does this look like German made underwear?" he shivered.
The Lieutenant lit a cigarette and blew smoke in their faces.
Garrett coughed. "Does that look like a German made body?" he cracked.
"Hey!" Boswell punched his partner. "Can we speak to your superiors?"
Several hours later, having finally convinced a major to contact intelligence and get confirmation that they were who they said they were, Boswell and Garrett were happily in the care of the nearest field hospital, being treated for exposure, severe allergies and extreme body odor.
"Well," Garrett told Boswell, as he pulled the covers up to his chin, "Considering what we've been through in the last few days, you've got to admit this isn't a bad outcome."
"No," his partner replied, "But I think our cover being blown was a blessing in disguise. Personally, I'm looking forward to a nice, safe, quiet office for the rest of the war."
Little did they know...
A/N Locations, German defenses, front lines etc in this chapter based on military maps dated 2/7/45 Hopefully, I can come up with another acronym