This story was inspired by the sign by the check-in counter at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport depicting several items that were prohibited from bringing onto a commercial flight. The thought of anyone bringing any one of these items onto an airplane was so completely ludicrous that I felt it could only be depicted in a cartoon.
A mail truck pulls up to a dented mailbox near a rocky escarpment along a dusty road in Northwest Arizona near Four Corners. The driver puts a letter inside and taps the horn as he pulls away. Upon hearing the familiar “Beep, beep”, a coyote pokes his head out of a nearby cave. He looks momentarily disappointed as he heads toward the mailbox. The coyote removes a single letter from the box and shields his eyes from the blazing late-afternoon sun as he looks at the envelope. Through the small cellophane window he sees that it is addressed him, Wile E. Coyote, and the return address reads Acme Corp.
The coyote returns to his cave and sits in a chair. His décor is decidedly mission style, including the Tiffany-style reading lamp that he switches on. He puts on a pair of half-glasses that had been sitting on the side table and proceeds to open the envelope. The coyote is surprised to learn that through the use of his Acme credit card, he is now in possession of 1,245,600 airline points. He has never travelled by air before, but wonders if it might not be time to take a vacation. He has several coyote relatives across the United States that he has never visited, and God knows he could use a break from that road runner.
The coyote walks over to a mirror on the wall next to a framed Georgia O’Keefe print. He slides his reading glasses onto his head and looks at the deep bags under his eyes. He decides right at that moment that a vacation is just the thing he needs. He walks to the kitchen counter and takes an address book out of a basket by the phone. He also grabs the Acme triangular calendar, a notepad, and a pencil. “Gifts! I’m going to need some gifts.”
The coyote walks into the main concourse of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport carrying his boarding pass and a large propane tank with a bright red bow on it. He has no luggage, so he bypasses the check-in counter thus missing the sign prohibiting taking propane tanks onto commercial airliners. The coyote is scheduled to take a direct flight to Oklahoma City to see T. Boone Coyote, a second cousin, once removed. T. Boone is an active barbecue maven, hence the gift of propane.
He follows the flow of passengers to the security area. The coyote hands his passport and boarding pass to the first TSA agent who scribbles some indecipherable marks onto the boarding pass, returns the items, and says, “You don’t need to take your shoes off.” He points toward the conveyer without looking up. The coyote looks down at his bare feet, shrugs, and moves toward the conveyor. He watches the other passenger placing their items into gray plastic bins. He places the propane tank on the floor wondering whether he should have waited to get it filled after arriving in Oklahoma. As he turns to place his passport, boarding pass, and cell phone into the bin, he accidentally tips the propane tank over with his tail.
The tank, now on its side begins to roll. It rolls past several inattentive TSA agents and continues on through the body scanner. This sends off an alarm, and as the TSA team all converge on the little old lady who was next to go through, the tank continues to roll down the concourse toward the gates. Since the coyote was pre-checked, he glides through the metal detector and breaks into a mad dash after the tank. He is closing in on it as it approaches a group of nuns traveling to a conference in Milwaukee. The group parts to the sound of “Beep, beep”. Just as the coyote is about to reach the tank, he sees an approaching service cart, driven by a sky cap, and filled with a group of retirees returning from a gambling junket to Las Vegas. The tank hits the cart and explodes into a fireball killing sixteen and injuring ninety-six. Three gates are destroyed as well. Miraculously, the coyote, taking the brunt of the blast is burned nearly beyond recognition, but after falling to the ground literally as ashes, he somehow survives.
Never known as one to give up, the coyote returns to the airport to try again. This time he is on his way to Menlo Park, New Jersey to see his sister’s Father-in-law, Thomas Alva Coyote. He is aware of some of the old inventor’s experiments and chooses as a gift a rather large horseshoe magnet. While on the line for security, he sees several passengers wearing horseshoe shaped items around their necks, although these look considerably more padded than his. He casually places his magnet around his neck with the red bow facing outward.
The TSA agent passes him through to the body scanner. The coyote assumes the position, but when the scanner begins to swing around, the magnet catches it causing it to freeze in the middle. Alarms go off and several agents rush over. “Dammit!” shouts one of the agents, “it’s on the fritz again.”
“The line is backing up,” says another.
They pass the coyote and the next several people through as they work on the problem, including two rather severe-looking men wearing fezzes and pantaloons, and carrying scimitars.
Aboard the plane, the coyote ends up in an aisle seat next to a rotund, sweaty salesman from Passaic. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the coyote is just drifting off when the man taps him on the shoulder and tells him he needs to use the bathroom. After the man heads down the aisle the coyote returns to his seat. He looks toward the window and decides to take a peek at the countryside below. Immediately after sliding to the window seat, the magnet around his neck spins violently to the left and begins to pull on the aileron on the back of the left wing. This has the unfortunate effect of putting the plane into and uncontrollable spin eventually ending when the jet blasts into the side of a butte somewhere in western New Mexico. The coyote rises smashed and burnt from the wreckage as the only survivor. He still has the magnet around his neck which is attached to a small piece of the wing assembly.
This time the coyote is traveling to visit his nephew Banksy Coyote in London. After several days of thoughtful consideration, he decides on the gift of spray paint, as his nephew is a graffiti artist of some note. The box he is holding contains a half-dozen cans, all topped with little red bows.
The trip to Phoenix through the desert was long and the coyote purchases a large can of Arizona Iced Tea to drink on the plane. When he reaches security, a rather fat and sloppy TSA agent grabs the first of seven cans. He opens the flip top and pours the golden liquid into a trash receptacle. The agent drops the flip tab into the can and holds it in front of the coyote’s face. He shakes the can so that the coyote, and anyone else so bold as to try and bring liquid aboard the plane, can hear the tab rattling inside the empty can. He also flashes a devilish grin.
The coyote, completely missing the agent’s meaning, picks up the cans of spray paint one at a time and shakes them. The TSA agent is visible disappointed as he hears the rattle of the mixing ball and assumes that the cans are empty. He gruffly waves the coyote through and turns to harass a Mennonite couple heading back to Ohio.
The coyote takes a seat by the window and places the case of spray paint under the seat in front of him. When the plane reaches 29,000 feet, the coyote hears the cans at his feet begin to rattle. He places the case on his lap and takes out a can to examine it. The can bursts under pressure leaving the coyote and much of the surrounding area of the plane bathed in a layer of royal blue. The coyote opens his eyes to see a small crack in the blue covered window to his left. The crack expands causing the pressurized window to blow out.
There is now a completely open window with a dozen blue furry fingers and toes around the edges. Outside the plane, the coyote is being buffeted by debris flying out of the cabin as he hangs on with his severely elongated limbs. An oxygen mask, still attached above his seat is dangling out of the window. The coyote reaches for the mask, remembering the instructions from the flight attendant just a few minutes earlier. Unfortunately, while he able to successfully grab the mask, he loses his grip on the window and begins plummeting earthward.
As he falls, he tries to put on the mask as the air at this altitude is still impossible to breathe. Alas, due to the size of his snout, the mask does not fit. He tosses it away and smashes face-down into a mesa at terminal velocity. The coyote lifts his head out of the rock and looks skyward. His face is completely compressed and the mask floats down onto his pulverized nose and mouth. It now fits perfectly.
Undeterred, the coyote enters the terminal on the way to visit his uncle Mahatma Coyote in India. He has chosen as a gift a large jug of bleach with a red bow around the handle. It seems that his uncle wears exclusively white clothing. The coyote still has his head bandaged from his previous vacation incident. The TSA agent, assuming this to be a turban passes the coyote right through while the other agents are busy strip-searching an elderly grandmother, a Methodist minister, and a four-year-old who somehow has appeared on a no-fly list.
Once on the plane, the coyote sits in his seat and places his jug of bleach on the seat next to him hoping to avoid having another person in his row. He soon sees another coyote making his way down the aisle carrying a large jug of ammonia. He tries to avoid eye contact, but the other coyote stops by his row. Wile E. grudgingly gives him a nod and places his jug near his feet. The other coyote sits down and does the same. Shortly after takeoff, both coyotes are asleep, but a bout of turbulence jars them awake. Wile E. removes his headphones in time to hear the pilot announce that he is going into a short climb to get above the rough air.
Regrettably, during the original rumbling, both of the coyote’s jugs tipped and began leaking. The tilt of the ascending airliner causes the flow from the two jugs to intermix as they move toward the back of the plane. The ammonium chloride quickly gets into the ventilation system and is efficiently distributed throughout the plane, including the cockpit. The passengers and crew are soon overcome and rendered unconscious. With the autopilot having been disengaged for the climb in altitude, the plane goes into a dive and plummets into a canyon killing all aboard except for two extremely lucky coyotes. They spend the next several minutes sorting through a frustratingly intermixed pile of charred coyote parts reassembling each other.
On his way to visit cousin Neil Degrasse Coyote in New York, Wile E. stops by the Acme outlet and picks up a rack of test tubes containing a variety of chemicals. As he approaches security, he sees the smug overweight TSA agent approaching him. The agent picks up one of the test tubes by its red bow and is about to pour it into the waste bin. Wile E. holds up a finger indicating that he should wait. He points to a mark on the side of the test tube indicating eighty milliliters. The coyote quickly pulls a calculator out of an unseen pocket and does a mathematical conversion. He shows the readout to the agent who frowns deeply. It reads 2.70512 ounces. The agent hands back the test tube and harrumphs as he moves up the line to harass a baby drinking from a bottle.
He takes a rear seat this time, remembering the problems on his previous flight. Soon, the coyote is being annoyed by a little girl leaning over the back of his seat in front of him. “Doesn’t this brat have parents?” he wonders. Somewhere over Iowa, he places the rack of test tubes on the floor and heads to the restroom just behind his seat. The little girl reaches under her seat and pulls out the rack. As most curious kids would, she immediately begins to mix the chemicals.
The coyote is washing his hands when he feels a significant rumble tossing him about the tiny lavatory. He needs several paper towels to dry himself off. The coyote unlocks the door and steps out of the small enclosure. He finds himself and the bathroom hurtling through the sky as though detached from the plane due to a sudden chemical explosion. Wile E. immediately goes back into the stall, closes the door, and locks it. The bathroom stall smashes onto the ground door-side up. In a moment, the little sign on the door snaps from OCCUPIED to AVAILABLE and the door opens. A severely damaged coyote pops his head out. He looks up and quickly raises a sign the reads “YIKES!” The rest of the plane lands upon him.
This time the coyote decides on a shorter trip to the Texas home of his race driving cousin A. J. Coyote. This gift choice was easy. He is carrying a new Acme 60 month, 12 volt car battery with 650 amps of cold-cranking power toward the security line. Of course, it is topped with a red bow. He is in line in the middle of a group of four young men in business suits. The coyote hears one of the TSA agents shouting that all electronic devices need to be in a separate bin. Each of the men in turn removes a laptop computer out of their carry-on bag and places it as directed. The coyote shrugs and does the same with his car battery. He removes the bow remembering the careless way that the agent removes one from a test tube on his previous trip.
The agent eyeballs the laptops on the belt in sequence, stopping when he gets to the coyote’s bin. The agent lifts up the battery and tests the weight by shaking his arms up and down. “Man,” he says, “this must be one of the original laptops, Buddy. Don’t you think it’s time for an upgrade?” He passes the coyote through when he turns his attention to an old man who is dressed suspiciously like an Archbishop.
The Coyote takes a seat on the plane and places the battery on the seat next to him. He is happy to have no one take the seat and leans back for a nap on the short flight to Houston. The coyote is dreaming about swimming in a crystal blue pond, something unusual for a desert dweller. He awakens suddenly to the memory of the six cups of coffee he had on his way to such an early flight and realizes that he must use the bathroom. Recalling his last vacation disaster, he decides to bring the car battery with him lest another curious child with inattentive parents is aboard as well.
The bathroom is quite small, so the coyote balances the battery on the edge of the counter near the sink. It is hanging over the edge but is secure enough for now. The coyote lifts the seat, after all, he is civilized, and does his business. After flushing, he turns to wash his hands. The plane hits the most minor, barely perceptible bit of rough air and gives a tiny shimmy. Unfortunately, this is enough to tip the battery over the side of the counter, flipping onto the toilet. The two terminals simultaneously touch the sides of the metal toilet bowl immediately shorting out the electronics throughout the plane and plunging the bathroom into total darkness. It takes the coyote several minutes to find and pick up the fallen battery and to negotiate the lever for unlocking the door.
When the coyote exits the lavatory, he notices that everyone aboard is unconscious and in the process of freezing to death. He rubs the frosted window to see that the plane is level and cruising along, almost certainly on autopilot. He pulls a slide rule out of an unseen pocket and grabs the in-flight magazine out of a nearby seatback. Turning to a map of the flight routes, he calculates that the plane will run out of fuel somewhere roughly equidistant between the Cap Verde and Canary Islands. “Hmm,” he wonders, “I have a distant cousin, T. E. Coyote in Northern Africa. Maybe I’ll get to visit him.” The coyote returns to his seat and begins leafing through the magazine as the plane heads toward the toward the morning sun.
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