Papa Bear Awards 2013
The Mission Briefing
From Russia, with Love
The wind howled over the infinite white plain, hurtling the thin snowflakes hither and thither. A dazzling white from one horizon to another, and in the middle of this too white landscape, a small dot, struggling against the wind.
His hat pulled down, his scarf covering everything of his face save for the eyes, he protectively clutched the heavy bag he was carrying to his chest. He’d been told it was of truly paramount importance that it would reach its destination. And to accomplish that, the messenger struggled on, waist-deep in snow.
The temperature was way below zero. His legs were numb, but go on he must. Up the rise and...
Spluttering, the messenger sat up.
“Was...?” muttered the snowmound he just tried to climb.
And there, before his very eyes, rose none other than the feared snow giant from the Siberian tundra: Iwan the Terrible. Huge, white, rumbling, overpowering, angry, and... shivering?
“Brr, it’s cold, isn’t it? I must have dozed off for a moment, and look – I’m all snowed in already!”
The messenger scrambled to his feet. “You’re a guard? Is this perhaps the 13th batallion then?”
“Um, jawohl, um...” The giant leaned forward and brushed some snow off the visitor’s arm. “Jawohl, Lieutenant. This is indeed the 13th batallion. Or what’s left of it. Sergeant Schultz reporting, sir.” Iwan the Terrible saluted and in the process shook off some of the snow, revealing the very portly figure of the one time Sergeant of the Guard at Stalag 13.
“Good.” The messenger let out a sigh of relief. “At least I’ve managed to complete my mission. I was ordered to deliver this here.” He untangled himself from the bag he was carrying, and handed it over to the guard.
“What’s this?” Schultz eyed the bag suspiciously. “It’s heavy. Is it food?”
“It’s the Papa Bear Awards. Sign here, bitte.”
Schultz’s face lit up as that of a child on Christmas Eve. “The Papa Bear Awards? Oh! So Colonel Hogan has not abandoned us – he... Kommandant!” He took off, trashing through the snow on his snow shoes. “Kommandant Klink! Wake up! The Papa Bear Awards are here!”
“Hey, wait! You haven’t signed yet!” the messenger cried.
But Schultz had already burst into one of the little snow humps. “Kommandant! The Papa Bear Awards are here!”
“Schultz!” came a grumbling voice from inside, followed by a loud sneeze. “What happened to the art of knocking?”
“Verzeihung, Kommandant, but knocking on snow doesn’t have the same effect as knocking on a door.”
“I don’t care what effect it has. Just make sure you knock before you come rushing in.”
“Jawohl, Herr Kommandant.”
“Now go outside again and knock before you enter.”
“But Herr Kommandant...”
“Jawohl, Herr Kommandant.”
But before he could wriggle himself back out of the narrow entrance, somebody else came crawling in. “Sergeant, you didn’t... Oh, good morning, sir. Lieutenant Schwanzenstolz reporting.”
“Go back!” Schultz hissed at him. “We have to knock before entering the Kommandant’s snow hut.”
“Oh, Schultz, don’t be ridiculous. Come in, Lieutenant. At ease.”
Schultz raised his eyebrows in surprise. “How come he doesn’t have to knock?”
“Because he’s not you. Now, Lieutenant, what can I do for you?”
Lieutenant Schwanzenstolz shrugged. “A hot drink would be nice. But all I really need is for your Sergeant to sign for the acceptance of the Papa Bear Awards.”
Klink sat up so suddenly that it looked like a bedspring just pinched him. (Not that they did have bedsprings at the Russian front of course.) “The Papa Bear Awards?” he stammered. “Did you say the Papa Bear Awards? Oh, Schultz, Colonel Hogan has not forgotten about us after all!”
Schwanzenstolz frowned. “Colonel Hogan? That name sounds awfully English.”
“It is.” Klink beamed. “It’s American. He’s the Senior Prisoner of War in the prison camp I used to command... my dear old Stalag 13...”
Schwanzenstolz’s eyes narrowed. “And you refer to this Amerikaner as a friend who hasn’t forgotten about you?”
“A friend? Oh, no! No. Not a friend!” Klink whinnied. “But when I got posted at the Russian front, he promised he’d send us the stories for the Papa Bear Awards as a comfy reminder of home. Of my old life as the toughest POW Kommandant in all of Germany.” He looked around. “So where is it? The package, I mean.”
Schwanzenstolz nodded to Schultz. “I gave it to the Sergeant. But he still needs to sign for it.”
“I’ll sign for it,” Klink rushed out. “Now, Schultz, where is the package. Stories, Schultz – from home!”
“Um... it’s outside, Kommandant. It hasn’t knocked yet, you see, so I thought...”
“Dummkopf! Go get it!”
“Jawohl, Herr Kommandant.” Schultz crawled back outside, and returned with a bulging bag full of papers. “Here you are, Kommandant.”
“Oh, Schultz...” The Kommandant had tears in his eyes, which didn’t improve his ability to open the bag’s clasps. But finally he got them undone, and pulled out a huge stack of papers. “Look, so many stories! And there’s a little note, too – from Colonel Hogan. ‘Dear Kommandant and Sergeant Schultz,’ it says. ‘As promised, one copy of this year’s stories competing for the Papa Bear Awards. Please let us know your nominations by Friday, March 1st. The list of categories can be found in the attachment, and remember, only one (1) nomination per category! Only for the quotes are you allowed to send in three (3). There’s about 150 stories here, so we hope they’ll keep you warm through the Russian winter. And as a special treat, we’ve thrown in a special anniversary category this year, choosing the best of the 10 winners from the past editions. See the attachments for details!
‘Wishing you all the best,
Col. Robert E. Hogan (temp. ret.)’
“A hundred and fifty stories, Schultz!”
“Jawohl, Herr Kommandant.”
“What kind of stories would a prisoner of war send his former enemy Kommandant?” Schwanzenstolz wanted to know.
“Very simple, Lieutenant: the kind of stories in which the prisoners are the heroes, by committing sabotage and espionage right under the noses of their jailors. Fiction, of course. Completely harmless. It was one of my schemes to keep the prisoners where they belong. One they actually enjoyed. It’s no coincidence that no one ever escaped from Stalag 13, you know!”
“Then what, may I ask, is a crackerjack prison camp Kommandant doing at the Russian front?”
Klink’s cheeks reddened. “Yeah, well, that was all a mistake. Let’s not get into that, shall we? We’d better start reading if we want to read all of this before March 1st!” He pushed a few stories in Schultz’s eager hands, a few in Schwanzenstolz’s...
“Why me?” the man protested.
“Read it!” the Kommandant ordered. “If only to learn how to run a prison camp. That could only come in handy the next time you’re up for a promotion!”
“Read it, I said! Or would you rather go straight back out there in the freezing cold to return to your outfit?”
Schwanzenstolz shivered. “Maybe not.”
“Then read it. Here.”
“But that letter was talking about categories and nominations and I know not what! I don’t know all these things!”
“Here.” Schultz handed him a few loose sheets. “The PBA for Beginners will help you out. And here’s a description of what’s expected of you. Even a page with Frequently Asked Questions.”
“Yes,” Klink chimed in. “Now let us read in peace, will you? We’d like to imagine ourselves back at our cozy little Stalag 13...”
Schwanzenstolz looked at the papers in his hands. “Escapists...” he muttered. But his curiosity won out by far over his wish to brave the icy cold again, and with a fatalistic sigh, he began to read the instructions for the Papa Bear Awards. Starting with The Papa Bear Awards for Beginners.
"I don't get it," Schwanzenstolz muttered. Sure, he was nicely curled up in a blanket, with a volumous stack of papers in front of him by the light of a paraffin lamp. But this story he was reading was plain weird!
"Ssh," was all he got in reply from his snow hut mates.
He rolled his eyes. It sure beat struggling through the snow and the icy wind to be here with these two escapists and read stories - but this story just didn't make sense! So many oddities, and what was the actual point of view? It seemed to be a different story - albeit along similar lines - with every chapter that he turned!
He sidled up to the big sergeant. "Serge, just tell me. Are you acquainted with this Fanfic Court thing?"
"Oh!" Schultz chuckled. "Well, that's a good one to start with - not! Anyway, the previous version sure had its funny moments. This one, too?"
Schwanzenstolz sighed. "I don't know. I can't seem to make heads or tails of it."
"Here. Let me have a look." Schultz put down his own precious reading material and leafed through the volumous stack representing Fanfic Court II. "Here - look. They've included a list who wrote what chapter. It's a group effort, this one. If you read the story following one author at the time, I'm sure it'll make more sense."
Schwanzenstolz looked glumly at the last page. "Boy, this is complicated. But I suppose this'll help."
He was talking to a warm hat and a helmet, for Schultz had already returned to his own tale.
And Schwanzenstolz sighed. "Okay, let's see which author I'm going to follow through this court story first."
"Ssh!" came the reaction from his two snow hut mates. "We're reading!"
"Hey Sergeant," Schwanzenstolz whispered. "Can I ask you something?"
"How do we send in our nominations?"
"By PM of course."
"Yes." Schultz sighed. "Pigeon Mail. Donnerwetter, these pigeons..."
"Why? What's wrong with them? Do they get lost? I thought that pigeons were supposed to be able to find their way home no matter where they are!"
"No. No, it's not that. They just have a habit of eating the return address off the messages they carry. No matter how you tie the message on to them, they seem to know where the return address is - and just eat it! Makes it a bit difficult, you know, for the organizers to send a confirmation. And to have the proof that we are who we say we are."
Schwanzenstolz bit his lip. "Eerie pigeons if you ask me. I bet they're an Allied invention, aren't they. How come we don't know anything about such pigeons?"
Schultz shrugged. "I don't know. I prefer to know nothing."
"So is there anything we can do to stop them from eating the return address?"
"Yep. Disguise it, so that it doesn't look like an address anymore. It seems to work so far. They haven't caught on to us yet. Or else we can send in our nominations directly by E-mail."
"E-mail? What's that?"
"Elk Mail. A very special construction, where you have to set up wires from one elk to another, all the way to where you want to send your message. And then you send your message by that wire. A bit like a telegraph. It's safer for one thing: the elks don't eat the messages. But it'd take an awful lot of elks to get a message all the way from Russia to Hamelburg..."
Schwanzenstolz looked doubtful, and Schultz sighed. "I don't know, I've never tried it. But we know from previous occasions that PM's and E-mail can be used to send in one's nominations. But back in camp, we always used the radio."
"A radio? But..."
Schultz sighed. "Don't worry about it, Lieutenant. We'll find a way. For now, just read on, will you?"
Meanwhile, back at Stalag 13...
"Colonel? Are you down here?"
"Yes, Carter, come on down - if no one is watching, that is."
Carter hurried down the ladder, and quickly pulled the mechanism to close the trap door again. "How's it going, Colonel?"
Hogan sighed. "Not good. With that radio truck sitting right outside camp, we can't contact London to pass on our nominations."
"Boy, that Captain Gruber really knows how to spoil a fun game, doesn't he..."
"Yeah, we couldn't get him to read even one of the stories," Kinch sighed.
"It would have given us some leeway to get some missions done, if we could get him engrossed in these stories," Hogan agreed. "Anyway, how are things upstairs? Any new decisions on nominations yet?"
"Yes, that's why I wanted to see you. I've got my list ready. But boy, was it difficult to make a decision!"
"Good, give it to Kinch. He'll transmit them to London as soon as the aether is free again." He turned to their radioman. "How many do we have in now, Kinch?"
"With Carter's included - nine," was Kinch's sober reply.
"Only nine?" Carter's face opened up. "That's not much, is it? But then, I suppose most people are still busy reading. It's still awfully quiet upstairs."
"And they still got another week." Kinch glanced through Carter's list. "Hey, I was going to nominate that one, too!"
"Well, maybe if everyone likes it, we can make it win together!" Carter grinned. "By the way, Colonel, have you heard from the Kommandant yet? And Schultz?"
"Nope. We sent them a whole cage full of pigeons, but none of them have returned here yet."
"Let's hope the freezing Russians haven't shot them down and used them for supper," Kinch murmured.
"Or maybe they'll fly straight to London. Hey!" Carter jumped up. "Why can't we use pigeon mail to send our nominations to London?"
"Carter..." Hogan sighed. "In case you hadn't noticed - Kommandant Klink has been replaced, and we haven't had enough time yet to train his successor to be equally cooperative for the Allied war effort."
Carter scowled. "Boy, are you right. This place is almost like a prison nowadays." His face brightened again. "Well, at least we got a lot of good stories to pass the time!"
Back in Russia, where (on February 27th, 2013) it is by now well above freezing during the day...
"Schultz, are you ready?"
"Almost, Herr Kommandant." Schultz sighed, and kept glancing back and forth between the two sets of papers in his hand. "It's just so difficult to make up my mind."
"But the pigeon really needs to go now," Schwanzenstolz agreed. "Or it will never make it back to the Düsseldorf area before midnight on Friday."
"Midnight Hawaii time - that's practically midday in Hamelburg," Schultz corrected.
"Still, we have to count with bad weather. There might be another snow front moving in," Schwanzenstolz pointed out.
Schultz sighed. "Alright, alright..." He squeezed his eyes shut. "Eenie meenie minie mo..." He peeked with one eye. "Okay, this one wins. This will be my nomination for the best story of the year." He gazed at the story with the pride of a new father. "Yes. It would be a worthy winner."
"It hasn't won yet, Schultz." The Kommandant sounded irritated. "Now jot down that last one and let's get that pigeon outside."
Obediently, Schultz did as he was told. The Kommandant took his list and rolled it into the little cylinder, and while Schwanzenstolz held the cooing bird, he tied it onto the pigeon's neck.
"Okay. Ready to go. Schultz?"
"Yes, Herr Kommandant?"
"You go out and point that pigeon in the right direction."
Schultz's eyes grew wide. "Me, Herr Kommandant? Herr Kommandant, out here in the middle of a snowy nowhere, I wouldn't know the difference between up and down! And you expect me to...?"
Another exasperated sigh. "Let's just hope that pigeon has at least the amount of sense God gave the geese." And to Schultz, "Schultz! Take out that pigeon and set him free. He'll find his way home to Stalag 13, with or without your help." A shiver. "He'll have to!"
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant." With an unhappy face, Schultz started to do a backwards crawl out of the snow hut. His teeth immediately started chattering. "Brrr... I'm not even outside yet and my feet are already frozen again. That poor pigeon..."
Schwanzenstolz handed it to him as he was nearly outside. Schultz took it, and petted its pretty silvergrey head. "Now you go and fly home to Colonel Hogan, right? You be a good pigeon, and no detours or love escapades until you are..."
Schultz sighed. "Jawohl, Herr Kommandant." With his hands full of pigeon, he began to try and wriggle the last bit out of the snow hut, until...
"Um... Herr Kommandant?"
"Herr Kommandant... I think I'm... stuck!"
"Push!" the Kommandant ordered, as both he and Schwanzenstolz crowded in the narrow entrance of the snow hut. "Schultz, hold your breath. And maybe... Ouch! Stupid pigeon!"
Whatever else he wanted to say as her jerked upright following the pigeon picking him was lost in a sudden collapse of the snow roof above them.
"Ruckoo! Ruckoo!" The pigeon was the first to get out of the snowy mess.
"Stop him!" the Kommandant yelled.
"Um... why, Kommandant?" Schultz asked as he shook the snow out of his helmet. "We wanted the pigeon to go free - to go home to Stalag 13, didn't we?"
"But nobody escapes from... Oh. Yes. Quite." The Kommandant shook the snow out of his hair. "But what are we going to do now? You're too fat for the front - I've always said so!"
Schultz's face fell. "I couldn't agree more, Kommandant. But maybe..."
"Maybe we could follow the pigeon home?"
Klink gasped. "You mean desert?"
Schultz fumbled a bit. "Well, not quite. But what good are we doing here? There are no Russians in sight to fight. We'd be of much more use guarding prisoners in Stalag 13, wouldn't we?"
A sudden grin spread over the Kommandant's face. "Schultz, that is an excellent idea. Schwanzenstolz - you're with us now. As a messenger, you must know the route back home, in case we lose sight of that pigeon." He halted. "Pigeon? Schultz, we better get after him quick!"
Back at Stalag 13...
"Colonel! Colonel! Everyone, gather around!"
Kinch sat down again, pulled off his headphones and put the radio on speaker.
"What? What's up?" Carter wanted to know.
"The Papa Bear Awards – the nominations are in! Quick, get everyone together!"
"But Captain Gruber is..."
"Who cares about Captain Gruber?" Newkirk scoffed. "Come on, let's go and get everyone!"
Soon, all the men from barracks 2 (and from quite a few other barracks) were gathered around the radio. "Go ahead, Mama Bear," Kinch said. "We're waiting with baited breath."
And London announced:
THE NOMINATED WORKS
"Kommandant," Schultz panted as he struggled to put his snow shoes on. "Perhaps we should have kept the pigeon on a leash. It's going way too fast for us to keep up with it."
Schwanzenstolz snorted, and Klink let out a howl of frustration when the strap of his own snow shoe slipped out of his half frozen hand. "Schultz! That pigeon needs to get to Stalag 13 pronto prontissimo! We can't keep it on a leash! But you're right in one thing - we mustn't lose sight of it. Come on, let's go."
"But Herr Kommandant, your snow shoes aren't tied yet!"
"Never mind about those snow shoes." Klink thrusted the cumbersome footgear aside. "I'm not half as heavy as you are - the snow will hold up my weight." He climbed out of the ruins of the snow hut, tucked his riding crop under his arm, and with a rallye cry he dashed forward in the direction the pigeon had flown off to. "For Hogan, Stalag 13 and the Papa Bear Awards!"
And the next moment he sank into the snow up to his waist...
"Schuuuultz!" he bellowed, futilely waving his arms and his riding crop around. "Get me out of here!"
Schultz and Schwanzenstolz were at his side in a moment, and with combined strength, they pulled their commanding officer out of his predicament.
"Now, Kommandant," Schwanzenstolz began. "If you're going to walk on..."
But Klink ignored him. "Come on, Schultz - let's go home!" One step and... "Schuuuultz!"
Again, Schultz and Schwanzenstolz came to his rescue.
"Careful, Herr Kommandant," Schultz panted once they got him on top of the snow again. "The Russian snow is very treacherous."
"But it's not going to best me!" Klink boasted, and he took yet another step westwards, only to...
It gets repetitive, but Schultz and Schwanzenstolz - both prudently wearing their snow shoes - had to come to the Kommandant's rescue at his every step. And this happened more than fifty times before the Kommandant finally gave up - we certainly have to give him credit for his persistence.
"Kommandant," Schwanzenstolz said at last. "Let me go back to the snow hut and get you your snow shoes. Surely you've come to realize by now that we're never going to make it out of Russia without them."
Klink nodded in defeat as he hung onto Schultz. He didn't dare to take another step, for justified fear that he'd sink waist deep into the snow again immediately.
Schwanzenstolz quickly made for the snow hut again (they had only progressed some fifty meters, thanks to the Kommandant's continuous snow drownings), and in these wide white surroundings of the Russian tundra, a shivering Klink suddenly became confident with his Sergeant.
"Schultz... how do you think things are going in Stalag 13?"
"I'm sure they are going fine, Herr Kommandant. Although..." He hesitated, but continued with pride, "Probably not as good as they did when we were there to keep the prisoners in line."
Klink scowled. "I'm sure that toad of a Gruber has already had dozens of prisoners escape. From *my* escape proof camp, of all things! How dare he!"
"Yes, Kommandant - how dare he!" Schultz wisely agreed.
"Schultz... do you think there is a chance I will get my old command back? And you your post as Sergeant of the Guard?"
Schultz's face turned thoughtful. "I do not know, Herr Kommandant. That is up to General Burkhalter. But if I know Colonel Hogan, I'm sure he'd be happy to help us get back. For I don't think he likes Captain Gruber very much."
Klink's face beamed a little. "Do you think he likes me more than Captain Gruber?"
Schultz closed his eyes. "I know nothing, Herr Kommandant. Let us just say - the strawberries are always bigger on the other side of the fence. I know he was always saying how much he hated you for being his jailor and a German. But now that he's had to deal with Captain Gruber for a while, maybe he has come to realize you weren't so bad after all."
Klink nodded. "War does strange things to people, Schultz. Who would have thought that I would ever long for that dreary old Stalag of mine? Or to see that meddlesome American colonel again who has made my life a misery so many times?"
The wind howled over the infinite white plain, hurtling the thin snowflakes hither and thither. A dazzling white from one horizon to another, and in the middle of this too white landscape, three small dots, struggling against the wind.
"Leutnant Schwanzenstolz," the biggest of the dots panted. "Ist es noch weit?"
The man in front of him turned around, happy to have his face out of the snow for a moment. "Nein, Sergeant, es ist nicht weit mehr."
The man up front sighed, and the three men struggled on again in silence.
"Leutnant Schwanzenstolz," the biggest man panted after a while again. "Ist es noch weit?"
"Nein, Sergeant, es ist nicht weit mehr."
He sighed, and the man in front of him grunted. And on they struggled, through the too white landscape. It may be late March by now, but the sixty hour snowstorm from last weekend was nothing one tends to associate with a beginning spring. They'd had to huddle it out in a deserted farmer's hut - freezing, with teeth chattering, and very little to eat. But at least they were out of the storm and out of the snow for a while.
Now they were on their way again. Hopefully still in the right direction, but with the sun glaring in the hardblue sky, at least they could orientate themselves reasonably well. Westwards they wanted - back home, back to Germany!
"Leutnant Schwanzenstolz?" the fat sergeant interrupted his train of thought again. "Ist es noch weit?"
He sighed. "Nein, nicht weit mehr, Sergeant." And the Kommandant in front of him rolled his eyes. In truth, they had no idea. They could be anywhere between Belorussia, Poland, the Ukraine - or maybe already in Germany? No... these kind of weather conditions were extremely rare in their beloved Germany - even in midwinter. Surely sixty hour blizzards did not occur in Germany this late in the year?
"Leutnant Schwanzenstolz?" the sergeant began again. "Ist es noch weit?"
Suddenly, the Kommandant up front snapped. "Ja! Noch sehr weit!"
With that, he stomped on, leaving the lieutenant to hide his chuckle, and the sergeant with a sad puppy-dog look on his face...
"Leutnant Schwanzenstolz," Schultz began again. "Ist es noch weit?"
Schwanzenstolz sighed, but in front of him, Kommandant Klink suddenly pointed ahead. "Look! A road sign!"
"Good!" Schwanzenstolz said. "I have a feeling we've been going around in circles lately."
They quickly made their way to the road sign up ahead, and Klink's face lit up in a bright grin. "Düsseldorf! That's the direction we need to go. We turn right here!"
"What? It can't be!" Schwanzenstolz argued. "You said it's Stalag 13, right? That means it must be in Bayern, for 13 is the military designation for Bayern. So we have to take the left road!"
"Nonsense." Klink waved his protests away. "Who's been Kommandant there for years? And I wouldn't know where my own camp was? Hah! I'll have you know that my Stalag 13 is located near Düsseldorf!"
"But that goes against all military regulations!"
"I don't care about military regulations. Schultz!"
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant?"
"Tell him where Stalag 13 is. Our Stalag 13."
Schultz looked uncomfortable. "I know nothing, Herr Kommandant - nothing!"
"Schultz! You Dummkopf!" Klink stamped his foot in the snow. "Don't you even know where your own home is?"
"Yes, Herr Kommandant. In Heidelberg. But we're not going to Heidelberg, are we?"
"It's in Hamelburg, Schultz. Hamelburg, not Heidelberg! And that's where we are going."
"But Hammelburg is located near Schweinfurt!" Schwanzenstolz protested. "I've been there myself once or twice. We really need to go towards Bayern!"
"That's Hammelburg with two M's - ours has only one! You can see for yourself on the sign at the railway station when we get there!"
"But Hammelburg with two M's is the one we need to go to. That's where the prison camp Stalag 13 is located!"
Klink was ready to explode, but Schultz cautiously intervened. "Herr Kommandant, I would not want to offend either of you. After all, you are both officers, and officers can do very unpleasant things to us non-commissioned soldiers. But why don't you and Lieutenant Schwanzenstolz compromise?"
Klink glared at him. "There is no compromise. It's near Düsseldorf. We need to turn right."
Schwanzenstolz glared at him from the other side. "It's in Bayern. We need to turn left."
Schultz held up his hands. "Gentlemen," he said. "If you cannot come to a peaceful decision, perhaps we should simply go straight ahead?"
The two officers grunted. And looked at the sign. And at each other. And at Schultz.
"Alright then," the Kommandant conceded. "But only until we discover we're going wrong!"
"My idea," Schwanzenstolz agreed.
And so they went straight ahead, taking the road to... Paris...
The road was long. Long and muddy. The now quickly melting snow left small rivers running along the wayside, and any passing vehicle threw up violent splashes of dirty mud. For with a war on, who bothered about clearing the roads?
"Herr Kommandant," Schultz began, but Klink cut him off.
"I have no idea how much further it is, Schultz. I would if we had taken the turn-off to Düsseldorf, but now...!" He glared at Schwanzenstolz, who merely shrugged.
But Schultz shook his head. "That was not what I wanted to ask, Herr Kommandant. But look, there is a little Hofbrau down the road. After the trip we've had - couldn't we go there for some nice Sauerbraten and Sauerkraut and Bratwurst and potato pancakes..." Schultz practically drooled at the thought, and even the Kommandant's eyes misted over.
"Or a good glass of beer," Schwanzenstolz added.
"Apfelstrudel," Schultz murmured.
"Let's go in." Klink swiftly led the way down the side street, and but a minute later they entered the establishment. Only to run into...
"Hogan!" Klink immediately walked up to his former prisoner. "What are you doing here, so far from camp?"
"Kommandant! And Schultz! Well, that's a nasty surprise! I guess you're going to capture me right away and take me back to that awful Captain Gruber, eh?"
"Of course!" Klink beamed at the thought. "Why - without me to keep you in line, the prisoners would fly out of there like pigeons! Tell me, Hogan - how many escapes have there been from Stalag 13 since Captain Gruber took over?"
"Eighty-three, sir," Hogan admitted. "And most of them successful, too. Captain Gruber really can't live up to your standards, can he."
"Of course he can't. No one but me is capable of maintaining a perfect no-escape record. Ha!" He sat down at the table with Hogan, and made an inviting gesture to his two companions. "I'll just go back there and tell him that I'm taking over again. I'm a colonel, he's only a captain. I can do that!"
He ordered a glass of wine and a Schnitzel with an egg on top from the waitress, and then continued, "But tell me, Hogan - what are you doing on the road to Paris?"
"Well, I have girl-friend there, you see, and after I escaped..."
Schultz snickered. "Die Liebe..."
"... I thought I'd hide out at her place. I met her when we needed to get a copy of that famous painting, remember?"
Schultz nodded. "Oh ja. She was verrrry pretty." He tilted his head. "Wasn't she the one who was my niece?"
"Your niece?" Klink reacted. "I didn't know you had relations in..."
"Never mind," Hogan cut in. "Anyway, when I was there, it turned out they had sent the latest copy of The Stalag 13 Gazette to Paris for further distribution. And well, I couldn't very well let the guys go without the results of the Papa Bear Awards, so I decided to head back to Stalag 13 to deliver the papers."
"That is very kind of you," Schwanzenstolz observed. "Kind, but not very practical. Why would you want to go back to your prison camp when you've already made it as far as Paris?"
Hogan shrugged. "Well, I have a duty towards my men. I felt I deserted them when I escaped, so..."
Klink nodded. "Colonel Hogan is very conscientious about his duty towards his men. In fact, he could be a German officer!"
Hogan grimaced, and leaned over to Schultz who pulled his sleeve to get his attention.
"Colonel Hogan, did you say you have the results of the Papa Bear Awards?" the big guard whispered.
A quick nod. "You want to see them?"
"Of course!" Schultz jubilated. "Kommandant, Leutnant Schwanzenstolz... Colonel Hogan has the results of the Papa Bear Awards!"
Immediately, all three of them were upon Hogan as he pulled out a newspaper from his inside pocket. "Here you are, gentlemen. The winners of this year's Papa Bear Awards."
"Let me see!" Schultz pleaded as the Kommandant confiscated the paper and unfolded it to reveal the front page.
The Stalag 13 Gazette
Now announcing the winners of the Papa Bear Awards!