Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Louis LeBeau, Max Schnelling, Greta Baum, Magda Stoltz, George Plank, Hans Schultz, Tony Garlotti, Andrew Carter, James Ivan Kinchloe, Peter Newkirk, Robert Hogan, Martin Burger, Anna Braun
Fandom: Hogan’s Heroes
Genres: Angst, Drama, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings: Major character deaths; Descriptions of strangulations
Summary: Hogan and his men encounter the Hammelburg Strangler.
Chapter Summary: A dinner given by Klink helps the Heroes with their next mission.
Date Of Completion: January 1, 2015
Date Of Posting: December 27, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1817
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Notes: This one took me awhile as I hit a major logjam so it lay untouched in my notebook for 11 months until the Muses cooperated. Please heed the warnings!
All chapters can be found here.
"The Art Of Cooking"
LeBeau checked the produce in the greengrocer’s shop. He had to admit that the local farmers were doing a good job. Even in wartime they were managing plentiful harvests.
“Hello. What can I do for you today?”
“My poodle’s name is Fifi. She loves apples.”
“My schnauzer’s name is Fritz. He loves apples, too.”
LeBeau rolled his eyes. “The codes get sillier every day.”
Max, a wizened man with a sense of humor, chuckled and picked up a large beefsteak tomato and handed it to LeBeau.
“Excellent quality,” LeBeau approved. He put it in his bag. “Here, take a look at what I have chosen so far.”
Max took the canvas bag, removed the documents behind the counter, and returned the bag to LeBeau.
The tiny bells jingled over the door as two middle-aged women entered the shop. They chatted and LeBeau checked over the apples. He started to drop them into his bag.
“Maidie said he was impossible,” said the rotund woman with the green feather in her hat.
“He really is a dummkopf.” The thinner woman shook her head. “He ought to be in the army.”
“Ach, he has a bad heart. He works as a bookkeeper at the munitions factory over in Flenzheim.”
“He is still a dummkopf.”
They walked around, picking out ripe tomatoes and turnips when a well-dressed gentleman entered, spectacles perched on his hawkish nose. “Greta, Magda, how are you?” He removed his homburg.
“Fine, George,” said Greta, her green feather bobbing. “How are you?”
“Fine, fine. All is well at the bank.” He shook his head. “My cousin Ludwig works at the police station, you know, and says there’s been another murder.”
“Ach, no!” said Magda, putting a hand to her mouth.
“Ja.” George waved his hat. He wore a tan overcoat and looked worried. “There was another murder just a few days ago!”
“Terrible!” Greta opined.
LeBeau was not certain if she was genuinely upset or eager to hear more. Maybe it’s a little of both. He had little use for silly hausfraus, but at least the gossip was interesting.
“Another young girl,” Magda said sadly.
“Ja,” George said with regret in his voice. “It was a secretary, very respectable, found in the alley behind Mueller’s Bakery. I tell you, Hans Mueller got the shock of his life when he was bringing the trash out to the dumpster in back and saw the poor girl behind a trash can.”
Schultz had been studying the apples and glancing toward Max, trying to find the right moment to steal one when he shook his head. “A bad thing, these murders.”
LeBeau was no fan of Germans but even he felt sorry for the victims. “Let us hope the local police can solve this crime quickly, eh?”
“Ja.” Schultz grabbed a shiny red apple and took a big bite.
LeBeau and Schultz returned to camp with the fixings for a grand meal. Klink was so pleased that he allowed LeBeau to take a portion of the food for the barracks, so soon the wonderful smell of bubbling tomato sauce filled the barracks. He had given some of the produce to the other barracks and now Garlotti was making suggestions for the sauce.
“Where’d you get the oregano?”
“Schultz. He got it from the mess hall. Their cook does not use it much.”
Garlotti sighed. “I agree with Major Bonacelli. German cooking is not as good as Italian.”
“Even as a Frenchman, I agree with you. Wiener schnitzel and potato pancakes…mon Dieu!”
The men listening to this exchange chuckled, though Carter piped up, “I like potato pancakes!”
“Shut up, Carter,” LeBeau sniffed.
Kinch was sitting across the table from Carter and grinned. Patting his hand, he told the sergeant, “It’s okay, Andrew. They’d probably turn up their noses at grits.”
“I never had grits.” Carter began rambling about grits and other things in his usual way and the other men exchanged fond looks.
“You should try good English cookin’, mate,” Newkirk drawled as he drifted over with a coffee mug in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
LeBeau snorted. “Says the man whose people think that something called bubble ‘n’ squeak is haute cuisine.”
“’Ere now, English cookin’ sticks to the ribs.” Newkirk lightly pounded his own side with a fist.
“That is one way of putting it.”
“Mmm, smells great, Louis.” Hogan came out of his office and peeked into the pot.
“Thank you, mon Colonel.”
Hogan took a seat at the table. “The document transfer was successful, so we might as well see if there’s any nuggets of information we can mine tomorrow night at dinner. Newkirk, you’ll be the waiter. Keep your ears open.”
“Right, sir. Who’s Klink butterin’ up this time?”
“Um, some munitions bigshot. Kinch?”
Kinch smoothly took up the narrative. He had been listening in to Klink’s telephone calls.“Herr Martin Burger, a big man in the weapons business.”
“Hmm, ol’ Burger might give us some tidbits of information. If not, at least we got some fresh veggies out of the deal.”
The men laughed and LeBeau announced, “Dinner is served, gentlemen.”
Everyone eagerly sat down as LeBeau ladled out the tomato sauce over fresh vegetables.
“Mmm, LeBeau, my pop back home at the pizza parlor would hire you in a Newark minute,” Garlotti said.
“I thought it was a New York minute?” Hogan asked in amusement.
“I’m from Jersey, not New York.”
“Well, that explains it.”
More laughter rolled around the barracks as the men enjoyed their meal.
“An excellent meal, my dear Klink.”
“Thank you, Herr Burger.” Klink set his napkin down. “The Frenchman LeBeau is quite a good cook.”
“My compliments to him." Martin Burger was a man with a round face, thinning brown hair and broad shoulders. His suit was expensive and he wore a blue-and-white patterned tie. His high-quality gold wristwatch gleamed as he reached for his wineglass. His brown eyes looked lazy, but Newkirk could see that this man missed nothing.
“What do you think, darling?” Burger asked the lovely brunette sitting to his left.
“My compliments, too.” She fingered the string of pearls she wore.
“How are you enjoying your stay here in Hammelburg?” asked Klink.
“Restful. Anna and I are used to the bustle of Berlin.”
“Of course.” Klink signaled Newkirk for more wine. The Englishman complied. “I know that Hammelburg is rather quiet. I grew up here and it has not changed all that much, even with the war.”
“I have been here years ago.”
Newkirk finished pouring the wine and retreated, his gaze lingering on Burger’s girlfriend. A fine-lookin’ bird.
“Yes, I was here the summer before the war. The last war, that is. I had just finished studying at the University of Heidelberg and was visiting my aunt and uncle before starting work in the family business in the fall.” He winked. “I was courting a young fraulein at the time.”
“Ah.” Klink chuckled. “I was home that summer, too. Just graduated from flight school and was waiting for my orders to report to base. Ah, such happy times before August and the first declaration of war!”
The first one you buggers started this century. Newkirk kept his expression neutral. Unlike LeBeau, he could hide his feelings. All that music hall experience, he thought smugly. He took a furtive sip of wine. Somehow it was hard to envision Klink as a young man.
“There has been excitement in town,” Anna remarked as she sipped her wine.
Newkirk moved to clear away the dishes to prepare for dessert.
“Oh?” Klink put his silverware on his Meissen plate. Newkirk picked it up.
“Yes, three young women killed recently?” Burger asked.
“Ah, yes, they are calling the killer the Hammelburg Strangler.”
“Hmm, quite so.” Burger frowned. “The name…well, I have talked to the police chief and he says there is a scarlet ribbon attached to each victim. Cheap stuff, but always pinned to the shirts.”
Newkirk entered the kitchen. Schultz was happily eating a plate of duck l’orange and assorted fresh vegetables as he drank wine. An opened bottle was set close to his elbow.
“You’re a big ‘it, Louis.”
“But of course.”
Newkirk exchanged exasperated looks with Schultz, who continued eating. Newkirk could not blame him. His stomach rumbled.
LeBeau handed him a wing. “Bon appetit.”
“Thanks.” Newkirk enjoyed the sample. “You’re still at the top your game, mon ami.”
LeBeau rolled his eyes at his friend’s terrible French accent. “What are they talking about?”
“The murders. Apparently Burger is tight with Hammelburg’s police chief. The Strangler leaves a red ribbon pinned to each victim’s blouse.” He finished the crisp wing and washed his hands under the tap.
“Pretty creepy, if you ask me.”
“The whole mess is creepy.”
“I agree,” Schultz said after washing down his food with wine. “Bad business.”
“You are right, Schultzy.” LeBeau opened the icebox and took out a chocolate cake with elaborate vanilla frosting and pink rosettes. Both Newkirk and Schultz looked at the confection avidly. “Put your eyes back in your heads. This cake is for the guests.”
Both men sighed. Newkirk took out dessert plates, handling them carefully. He knew quality china when he saw it.
Newkirk went back into the parlor and set the dessert plates, received orders for coffee, and brought out the cups. Next he brought out the cake to appreciative oohs and ahhs. He deftly cut each diner a piece and Anna asked for a small slice.
“Where are you staying in town?” Klink asked Burger.
“The Grand Arms. Fitting, ja?”
Klink chuckled. “Oh, ja.”
Newkirk placed the slice of cake on Anna’s plate. He restrained from rolling his eyes. Klink was a master of kissing up.
“That is a fine hotel,” Klink continued.
“It will do.” Burger sipped his coffee.
“Ah, yes. Well, I have heard that the cuisine at the restaurant is good.”
“Passable. They should employ your cook.”
Klink thought he meant his mess hall cook, but realized that Burger meant LeBeau. “Ah, yes, well, but of course that is impossible.”
“It was a joke, Klink.”
Newkirk thought Klink was a simpering fool, but he could not help a stable of annoyance at Burger’s condescending tone. Even kiss-ups like Klink had feelings.
“A fine meal, Colonel,” Anna said. She sounded sincere.
“Thank you, Fraulein.”
Newkirk went into the kitchen. They had learned nothing useful from this dinner but not every situation worked out. And he and LeBeau could snitch some leftovers to bring back to the barracks. At least it had been a low-stress evening.
He felt a little shiver run down his spine. It had been an uneventful evening, but as his old granny was fond of saying, those were the times you should watch out.