Disclaimers: Alas, none of the characters are mine. Would that they were!
Summary: A canine conundrum of confuzzling proportions. Features Frau Linkmeyer.
Somewhere, there lives a man born to love the lumpy bundle of fur coats and hideous hats known as Frau Linkmeyer, and who chooses to compose lengthy love poems in her honor. He likens her voice to a bird singing sweetly on a spring afternoon; her waddling steps to a cat's graceful padding across a wooden floor; her rapidly thinning hair glistening like silver in the sun. And her eyes will be as blue as a clear sky, regardless of whether they are, in fact, blue at all.
This is not a story about that man.
This is, instead, a devilishly witty tale about Klink, who has all the romantic interest in Frau Linkmeyer as a mailman has in a vicious dog, which is closer to what Frau Linkmeyer actually resembles.
“Uh, Frau Linkmeyer, may I, may I—" Klink leaned backwards, trying to climb over the arm of the couch while maintaining a watchful eye on the woman taking up most of the two cushions.
Her voice was definitely not the singing or a bird on a spring afternoon, sweet or otherwise. In fact, if there had been a blackboard nearby, the bray might have been fingernails being dragged painfully down its surface.
“Pour yourself another glass of wine. Fill mine, too, will you, Kommandant?”
Gratefully, Klink turned toward the distraction, willing the man to say anything that would require his immediate presence elsewhere, even if it were something along the lines of ‘Kommandant, every one of the prisoners has escaped, taking your favorite car with them, and are at this moment exchanging toasts in England.’
Unfortunately, the American P.O.W. who normally was more than forthcoming with bad news just stood at his arm, idly dangling a wine glass from his fingers, smiling and seemingly studying how to be completely and utterly useless.
“What do you want, Hogan?” Klink asked.
“The dogs are loose, sir.” This delivered without a blink or waver. “The men aren’t too happy about it.”
“What—“ Klink said, watching Hogan pour himself a glass of wine and trying to shake the nagging sensation of wrongness that followed him about whenever Hogan opened his mouth.
“We would help, but the dogs don’t seem to like us very much. And your guards were doing a fine job, too.”
“Were?” Klink swirled the wine in his glass, feeling very much as if his control over Stalag 13 were spiraling downward in the same way.
Hogan nodded earnestly, apparently oblivious to the Kommandant’s sudden bout of insecurity. “Oh, yes, sir, they ran after those dogs like Schultz after strudel.”
“No,” Klink interrupted. “Were. Past tense?”
“Well, yeah. After a few minutes, the dogs had them all cornered in the tower. Some even got to the roofs of the barracks. I bet you can see them from your window.” Hogan leaned towards the glass. “I was right—see?”
With a sinking feeling in his stomach that may have come from the dinner, or Frau Linkmeyer’s cloying affections, or from spending company with Hogan—any and all were likely—Klink peered past the window drapes that Hogan helpfully held aside. Most of the guards were huddled together in the small wooden watchtowers, while a few clung to the wooden ladder.
“Schultz!” Klink called, never taking his eyes off the scene. “Schultz!” Normally when there was food or a decanter nearby, so was his sergeant, but the huffed breaths that heralded his approach were curiously absent. Acting on instinct, Klink turned to Hogan, who frequently knew more than he did in situations when he knew nothing at all. Naturally this made Hogan’s job much easier.
“He’s the one where the roof’s sagging,” Hogan supplied.
“Yes,” Klink said glumly after glancing outside to verify, “that’s him.”
“Klink!” The shrill screech sent a shiver up his spine, where it crawled into his shoulders and stayed there in a hunched manner.
“Yes, I am very sorry to ruin our evening, Frau Linkmeyer, but I must go help my guards,” which sounded a great deal less impressive than he had meant to sound, but still less depressing than ‘a group of canines supposedly loyal to us has taken over my camp and intimidated my men, who wield automatic weapons on a daily basis’.
He turned to find Hogan already standing there with his cap and coat in hand. Klink took both the proffered items, mumbling ‘danke’ before striding outside the door purposefully. He promptly slammed said door when a large snout connected to several long, sharp teeth met him on the porch. Once again, in a habit most found unsettling if not downright disturbing, Hogan waited for him.
Glaring at the prisoner, a sudden thought struck him. “How did you get here anyway, Hogan? The dogs should have attacked you.” He carefully ignored the fact that most of the dogs seemed rather overly fond of the prisoners they were guarding.
“I was here before they got loose,” said Hogan truthfully.
“How long ago was that?”
Hogan shrugged. “An hour ago. Hilda and I were watching the show from the window in her office.”
“What could you possibly have been doing for an hour—” He paused when the tips of Hogan’s ears turned pink. “Oh.”
“You know, Carter used to live on a farm. Has a strange affinity for animals, you know. I bet if we let him call—“
Whatever idea Hogan had been about to suggest cut off short when a rampaging bulk pushed her way through the two men.
“Out of my way, out of my way!” the hefty woman demanded. Despite any misgivings Klink had about marriage, particularly to General Burkhalter’s sister, he still could not allow a defenseless woman go out against a camp full of vicious dogs.
“No, I forbid it.”
“Now, Klink,” she said, eyes narrowed menacingly. Klink stepped aside, dodging the incredulous look Hogan shot his way.
“Of course, Frau Linkmeyer.”
They both watched as she opened the door.
“Her funeral,” Hogan muttered.
“We can only hope,” said Klink. Both held their breath as Frau Linkmeyer glared at the dog.
“Back!” she cried, in a tone that reminded Klink of a female barbarian issuing a battle cry. He shifted uneasily. Somehow, he had always pictured Valkryies being a good deal prettier.
When faced with a threat like that, the dog did what any sane male would do and ran, tail tucked between his legs. Like a rampaging lion, the dogs spread in her wake, burying themselves in holes underneath the barracks or returning to the doghouses in an effort to escape.
A peculiar expression crossed Hogan’s face just then, and something like awe tinged his voice when he spoke.
“Even the dogs are afraid of her,” was what he said, though Klink had a strong suspicion that what he was about to say was closer to ‘They know their own kind.’
Just for a moment, Klink felt a flicker of pride that it was his monster who could inspire a man like Hogan to reverence. For that moment, Klink felt a portion of what that man made for Gertrude Linkmeyer felt all the time. She turned toward him from the campgrounds, baring her teeth in a cruel parody of a smile. It was like a pail of ice water doused the flame and the flicker died. Klink recoiled.
As the woman lifted her skirt to reveal thick legs, leaving Klink staring in morbid shock, a supportive hand dropped onto his shoulder.
“Good luck. You’re going to need it.”