We were sitting in the gate area, waiting for our flight when the 4 TSA agents came up. They were clearly there on business – it wasn’t quite as dramatic as, say, “The Wire” when the cops come into the courtyard at the low-rise apartments and everyone yells “five-oh” and scatters – but these four officers came in and “took positions”, definitely there on business.
One stood with his back to the wall by the door to the jetway, one moved somewhere behind me, one gave the lowdown to the gate agent and the fourth questioned “The Witness”.
The Witness was a woman about my age, seated opposite me. She spoke to the agent as they both looked at someone somewhere behind me. I heard her say “…about ten minutes ago…” She had observed some suspicious activity and as the incessant indoctrination announcements instructed, she had alerted someone. I appreciated that she had done so, but now I had to figure out who the terrorist(s) was (were).
I turned around and immediately saw two bearded men traveling with modestly-dressed women, all wearing head coverings of a different culture. They were Mennonites.
I wondered what suspicious acts they had been engaged in that had alerted The Witness. Perhaps they had been sharing fried chicken and homemade pies “family style”. Maybe she had seen weapons of mass consumption. I’m not trying to stereotype people here; it’s just that I have come in contact with the Mennonites and Amish people only at bed and breakfasts and restaurants in Ohio and in Pennsylvania. There are always large quantities of food concealed in kitchens or even openly displayed in their gathering places.
As the situation developed, it was obvious that the TSA agent trying to be inconspicuous by the jetway door was going to pull the terrorists aside and water board them … or at least wand them and look through their carry-ons. But the Mennonites boarded and front of me and went through unmolested. I had apparently made an assumption based only on the fact that they looked different from me and I was embarrassed. The worst thing was that I wouldn’t get to see the real terrorists pulled aside and tortured.
As people boarded after me I worried whether the terrorists had been arrested or any of them had slipped through. During the flight I thought I had figured it out. There was a young couple who had smuggled aboard a baby designed to render us helpless. The baby screamed through most of the 5-hour flight, especially loudly during the heavy turbulence, when we just wanted silence so we could weep and pray to our God in peace. Halfway through the flight everyone in coach (first class had been provided noise eliminating headphones) went to the couple and promised to renounce our evil Western lifestyles, but it did no good. Turns out it was just a crying baby.
The actual terrorists turned out to be a trio of women dressed as flight attendants. Prior to the flight they had somehow secreted tremendously heavy metal carts aboard the aircraft. The wheeled carts were just slightly wider than the aisle between the seat row. One hour into the flight, the women grabbed the carts and ran them pell-mell up the aisle, smashing armrests, shattering elbows and ripping legs off at the knees. They tried to cover their mission by tossing snacks and beverages at the passengers, but these just became part of the scene of carnage, mixing with the blood and severed appendages. The screaming of the multitude momentarily drowned out the baby.
Shortly thereafter, the women came by with hot towels to staunch our wounds and comfort us. It never did become clear what their mission was.