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Three Scenarios in Which Corporal Peter Newkirk Defuses a Bomb

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I.

"Bomb's all set, gov'nor," Newkirk whispered as he approached his commanding officer in the bushes that served as his hiding spot. His role in their assignment was to hide and set the timer for the bomb Carter made to get rid of a German spy going by the alias 'Meier'. "Beautifully 'idden, if I do say so meself. Should go off in about… 'alf an hour or so."

"Good work, Newkirk," Colonel Hogan replied, handing him some tools. "That should give you enough time to defuse it."

"Thank yo—do wha'?"

"Meier's on our side," Hogan responded. He gestured to his walkie-talkie. "Kinch just got word from the underground. I'll explain when we get back to the barracks."

"You mean to tell me after all that work I put into 'idin' the ruddy thing—"

"Thirty minutes," Hogan reminded sternly. "Now go defuse it—that's an order."

"Right sir," Newkirk grumbled before making his way back to where he hid the bomb outside Meier's cottage. It really was a good hiding place—good enough for the Englishman himself to forget exactly where he placed it. This only lasted for a moment, thankfully, as he relocated it from behind a pile of rubbish next to the cottage and dug it out. He disassembled it carefully and cut the appropriate wire, just as Carter had taught him what felt like ages ago. Once finished, he brought the parts with him and Hogan back to camp so they could properly dispose of the evidence in the tunnels, change out of their black clothes and into their uniforms, and maybe catch some shut-eye before roll call. Why did war have to make things complicated, especially for a prisoner of war?


II.

Newkirk didn't see why Carter chose to keep any of the bombs they didn't end up using for missions. Not the ones they disarmed on sight and disposed of later—the ones that didn't even make it out of the tunnels. Sure, it was probably easier for him to keep them for future sabotage plans than to destroy them and take time to make new ones later, but it was a hazardous choice nonetheless. He also didn't see why Carter chose to keep them out in the open on a shelf in his lab. Sure, it was probably easier for him to grab and use them than to store them somewhere where one could forget and accidentally set them off somehow, but that choice was even more hazardous. Combined, someone could easily bump into the shelf, knock down one of the bombs, and set it off—or, if they were lucky, only start the timer. Accidental explosions happened all the time in the tunnels, what with Carter's clumsy nature; he was surprised Carter hadn't killed himself or anyone else in the process by now.

Perhaps Newkirk was being sensible, taking notes to suggest to Carter once he and the others returned to camp from their latest assignment—or, perhaps, he was just making excuses to justify the sticky situation he'd put himself into at that moment.

He knew he wasn't really supposed to be tinkering around in Carter's lab alone, but he swore he had a good enough excuse: he was looking for his book. He'd read it six times now, but it was still a good distraction from the war around them, and solitaire was only fun for so many rounds. He knew the last person who had it was Carter, so he checked anywhere Carter would be, starting with his bunk and ending with his lab. Or, now that he thought about it, was it LeBeau who borrowed it last? He turned around and bumped into the shelf, which caused an old bomb to roll off, fall into his hands, and start ticking upon impact—

Right, the bomb. He needed to focus on the bomb.

"No worries," he said to himself. "Jus' need to disable it…" Now, if only he could remember what it was he needed to do to achieve that goal. This bomb was smaller than the one he practiced on during Carter's lecture on disabling bombs a month before. He could figure it out, he was sure of it. He checked the timer, which informed him he had about thirty minutes to do so. Maybe the others would be back by then to help him? No, he didn't need any help, especially not from Carter—he'd rather die than admit that he didn't remember how to disarm a bomb… which, he was slowly realizing, would exactly be the case if he didn't solve the issue at hand anytime soon. The constant ticking wasn't helping his concentration. Twenty-seven minutes remained, now going on twenty-six…

He decided to wing it. Newkirk was good at getting himself out of hot water. They didn't call him Sticky Wicket Newkirk for nothing! He started taking apart the contraption carefully (that much he remembered) and stared at the wires. Which was the right one, the one that would save him? He narrowed it down to two wires, then one, and brought the cutter to it, hoping for the best…

By the time the others returned to camp, Newkirk was back upstairs in the barracks playing cards at the table, just as they left him.

"Are you still playing solitaire, mon ami?" LeBeau asked. "You were on your fifth round when we left!"

"Well," Newkirk responded casually as he set down the queen of hearts onto a second king of spades he'd slipped from his sleeve, "I would'a been readin' me book if I knew where it was, eh, Louis?"


III.

"Do we really need to learn how to defuse bombs?" Newkirk complained aloud as he, Hogan, and Kinch sat at a table in the tunnels. "I mean, if somethin' goes wrong, we 'ave Carter to take care of it!"

"But what about the times we don't have Carter, Newkirk?" Hogan asked. "Suppose you need to deactivate a bomb, but Carter's off stuck in the tunnels again, or worse, captured. What are you gonna do then?"

"Run for bloody cover, that's what!" Newkirk retorted.

"Colonel's right, Newkirk—we can't always depend on Carter to do it for us," Kinch said. "Give a man a fish—"

"Yeah, yeah, I got it," Newkirk replied, waving it off. "But if we're gonna give 'im a break, then when am I gonna teach you amateurs how to do somethin' else useful, like pick a lock?"

"That's next on our list of Local Lectures at Stalag 13," Hogan responded with a smile, placing his arm around the Englishman's shoulder. "Along with Radio Work with Kinch and Cooking with LeBeau."

At that moment, Carter entered the room holding test bombs, while LeBeau trailed behind with tools. "Now these are all phony bombs," Carter explained as they set everything down on the table and passed the items to each man, "so we don't have to worry about actually blowing anything up. But they do give a small shock if you do something wrong, so it's almost like the real thing."

"You would know," Newkirk teased, earning knowing grins from the others.

Carter then began teaching them how to defuse the fake bombs (styled beautifully like real ones, Carter truly outdid himself) in front of them. Newkirk only half-listened to the lecture and went through the motions, still unconvinced he would ever really need it.