Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Robert Hogan, James Ivan Kinchloe, Louis LeBeau, Peter Newkirk, Hans Schultz, Marcus Kringle, Johann Schingelheimer, Leisl Franz
Fandom: Hogan’s Heroes
Genres: Angst, Drama, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): R
Warnings: Major character deaths; Descriptions of strangulations
Summary: Hogan and his men encounter the Hammelburg Strangler.
Chapter Summary: Disturbing news causes problems for Hogan’s mission to Hammelburg.
Date Of Completion: December 9, 2015
Date Of Posting: April 5, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1468
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
Through the trees,
Sir Albert Carruthers-Simpson
"Thoughts While Tramping
Through The English Countryside
And Other Poetic Endeavors"
“Looks like our guys on the Hammelburg Police force are on the ball,” Hogan said as he read the message that Kinch handed him. The radioman accepted a cup of coffee from LeBeau and sat down at the common table.
“What’s up, Colonel?” asked the Frenchman.
“Seems that Martin Burger has been charged as the Hammelburg Strangler.”
“Bon. Helga and the others can rest in peace.”
“Do you think he’s guilty, Colonel?” Kinch asked.
“I don’t know all the particulars, but he was around during the first wave of murders 29 years ago, and that watch I found is probably his. It was pretty expensive.”
“Besides, wot difference does it make? In Germany these days, everyone’s guilty.” Newkirk took a drag on his cigarette.
“True.” Hogan crumpled up the paper. “Did the Underground confirm my meeting with Leisl?”
“Yes, sir, tomorrow night at five o’clock at Ada’s Place.”
“Good.” Hogan threw the paper into the stove and LeBeau shut the door. “I just wish we could’ve found out his Top-Secret business.”
“Leisl might have that information.” Kinch sipped his coffee.
“I hope so, because whether or not Burger is guilty, his mission for the Fuehrer continues.”
The rest of the day was uneventful, and the next morning the weather was good enough to set up the volleyball nets outside several barracks. Hogan took a turn in the game and when he rotated out, he stood watching the game next to Schultz.
“What’s the good word in town, Schultz?”
“Ach, relief was short-lived.”
“How so?” Hogan caught the wayward ball and threw it back into play.
“The big shot they arrested as the Strangler escaped from jail.”
“Wow.” Hogan was genuinely surprised. “Not much security at the Hammelburg jail?”
Schultz lowered his voice. “Rumor has it that the Fuehrer might have sent men to get his good buddy out.” The big sergeant looked around as if the Gestapo was listening. “Personally, I think the big shot bribed the guards.”
Hogan smiled. “Not much faith in your fellow guards, Schultz?”
Schultz looked indignant. “On the contrary, Colonel, I have complete faith in my fellow guards to know a good thing when they see it!”
Hogan laughed. “Guess you’re right. I suppose Burger’s long gone from here.”
“Let us hope so! Though people are still nervous.”
Hogan relayed the news to his men after the games were over and the nets rolled up and stored away. They were preparing lunch as their appetites had been stoked by all the exercise.
“Sounds fishy to me all right,” Newkirk said as he set out plates.
“In Germany today, gentlemen, justice is highly subjective. Guilty or not, Hitler didn’t want a messy trial.” Hogan sat down at the common table.
“Be extra careful tonight, Colonel. The local police will be out looking for Burger, even if it’s just a show,” Kinch said.
“Don’t worry, Kinch. I’ll be super careful.”
Later that night as Hogan prepared to leave, Kinch repeated his concerns from his seat at the radio station.
“Be careful, Colonel.”
Hogan turned up the collar of his black greatcoat with a smile. “Don’t worry, Kinch. What I said earlier goes.”
“Okay.” Kinch smiled. “Good luck.”
“I’m Irish, me boyo. I always have a bit o’ luck in me pocket!” Hogan began climbing the ladder to the secret tunnel entrance.
“And more than a bit o’ blarney!” Kinch called up after him and was rewarded by laughter floating down.
Hogan walked briskly to town, not wanting to stay out long in the cold. Also, if he was honest with himself, he was a little nervous. Sure, Burger was probably long gone, but what if he was innocent? That meant the real Strangler could be around.
The wind blew through the trees, sounding mournful to Hogan’s ears. He shivered and increased his pace. He was reminded of the night that he had thwarted the Strangler from claiming his latest victim. He listened hard, but chided himself to stop being so jittery. He had faced psychopathic Gestapo and S.S. and angry generals. He could take care of one man.
Hogan entered Hammelburg as the wind skittered down the streets and he headed to the café.
Marcus wondered if he ought to be furious or too weary to care. Their prisoner had escaped, and he was sure that Burger was the Strangler. What a fine kettle of fish!
Marcus turned around to see Johann looking at him with concern. “Sorry, Johann, just woolgathering.”
Johann smiled. “Understandable.” His smile faded. “So what do we do now?”
“Well, we have our skeleton staff out there now beating the bushes, but Burger is long gone, I would say.”
Johann bit his lip. “What if Martin Burger is not the Hammelburg Strangler?”
Marcus’ expression was grim. “Then we are back to Square One.”
Ada’s Place was a small, intimate café that Leisl favored. Hogan would have preferred a larger venue like Hilda’s Hofbrau with its music and noise, but at least the coffee here was excellent and so was the food. He ordered a cup of steaming-hot coffee to drink while waiting for Leisl.
The café was cheerfully decorated in bright colors, and the waitresses wore traditional German costumes complete with flowers and streamers in their hair.
There was a lot to admire about German culture, Hogan mused as he sipped his coffee. Germans were pioneers in psychiatry and sexual studies, and their universities were world-famous. Great musicians, actors and films had all come out of Germany.
Unfortunately, there’s a darker side to their culture.
He observed the patrons of the café. They looked like ordinary people, but no doubt some of them had friends and relatives in the S.S. or were guards at concentration camps. There were disturbing rumors about those camps that he hoped were empty propaganda like in the last war.
There were Germans able to resist the lure of Nazism, of course. He worked with them in the Underground.
He glanced at his watch. 5:21. Leisl was late.
Well, there could be valid reasons for that. A neighbor stopped her to talk and she can’t raise suspicion by running off, or she thinks she’s being followed and is trying to shake the mook, or who knows?
Hogan continued to sip his coffee. Agents were usually punctual but things could happen. At any rate, late agents made him nervous.
By 5:45 he called for the check and departed Ada’s Place. He knew where Leisl lived. She fit the Strangler’s profile: she was blond, blue-eyed and in her early twenties. He kept an eye out for the Gestapo and walked briskly to Leisl’s apartment house.
Once at the red brick apartment house he went into the vestibule and pressed the door buzzer marked 204—L. Franz. No answer. He tried again.
An old woman let herself in and Hogan followed her. She shuffled along to a room on the first floor, apparently unaware of his presence. Grateful for his good fortune, Hogan quickly bounded up the staircase to the second floor.
He found Room 204 and listened at the door but heard nothing. He was going to knock when he noticed that the door was slightly ajar. With trepidation he pushed it open.
The living room was dark as the blinds had been shut at the windows. It still got dark early so the drawn blinds were not unusual. Hogan waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloom.
“Leisl?” he called softly.
In that moment, he saw her. “Oh, Leisl,” he said sadly and knelt by her body that lay next to the couch. He could dimly see the bruises on her throat and a red ribbon pinned to her blouse. He brushed the hair back from her brow. “Sorry, honey,” he murmured.
He heard a movement: so soft, it only registered on the edges of his consciousness, but he knew. Heart pounding, he began to turn but cried out as something long and thin was flung around his neck and tightened. He fought but his lungs felt as if they were going to explode.
The gloved hands applying pressure to his neck were steel-hard. He choked and coughed and tried to kick back, but the Strangler was incredibly strong. Pinpoints of light danced before Hogan’s eyes as it became harder to breath.
No! It can’t end like this. I’ve got too much left to do…
A strange calm settled over him as his lungs felt on fire. His arms were rubbery as they fell away and his legs became boneless. He slid to the floor and the darkness closed in on him as the world slipped away softly.