There can be a strange passing parade, at airports. Sometimes most diverting.
Remember years ago when dangers arrived in the mail? When poisons or explosives were the fad threat to hated politicians, members of Congress, celebrities? Letter bombs, arsenic in envelopes.
One day we landed at Long Beach, CA, and once with ground control, he taxied us past hawks roosting on taxiway signs, to our FBO of choice. One that catered to biz jets. At the same time they were happy to accommodate little guys. We pulled in and onto its parking apron.
Where was our meet and greet guy? No “Follow Me” jeep. No signal waving orange-vested baseball-capped FBO employee. Well. So be it. I taxied to a likely parking place, shut down the engine. We got out and locked up. Still no local guidance.
Now what? Tentatively poking our way through a line-up of high-priced fancy aluminum, lofty jet noses above our heads, we ankled our way towards the entrance.
But hello – what on earth was that keening, that shrill screaming? And what was that impressively large federal agent doing beside that odd white bus almost blocking our path? We scuttled inside.
“What’s all that hollering out there?” I asked the receptionist at the sign-in counter inside the door, the requisite stunning California girl.
“I don’t know,” she said, wide-eyed, as another round of yowls filtered in. “The prisoner transfer bus is out there. That’s all I can tell you.”
“I’ll go out and ask,” said I.
“Ooh, gee, you can do that?” she looked sidelong at me. Her eyebrows shot up to incredulity level.
“Watch me,” said I, winking.
Outside, I strolled up to Big Fed and smiled up at him, friendly-like. “My goodness, you’re nice and tall. Wow.” (He towered over me, about six feet six.) “What’s going on? What’s that howling?”
He couldn’t have been more cheerful and forthcoming. Resting his hand on his pistol, he grinned and flexed his authority. “In my job, as a Federal agent, it’s good to be big. Useful.”
I nodded, seeing his point.
“Those yells? A white-knuckle flyer.” He chortled at his cliché humor. “That’s a prisoner we’re transferring to another facility. You know those arsenic letters that were in the news a while back? She’s the sender.” He pointed at a utilitarian, multi-passenger aircraft parked beside us, POLICE in big letters. The plane seemed to have blanked out windows. “She has to go in there.”
At that moment, the bus door opened and a slightly built, gray-haired woman emerged on the horizontal, writhing and screaming, two more big Feds hauling her out by the feet and armpits. We were mesmerized by the wild, wily strength of that old woman.
“Yep, a verified white-knuckle flyer. She told us she hates to fly and wouldn’t do it.” He snorted. “Like she has a choice.”
She maintained her lively, howling protest as they carried her past me and up the airplane’s steps, on the way to a dreary prison life. She deserved it. The big guys didn’t let her slip their grip.
I have looked for her in the annals of high-profile poisoners and not found her. I guess, since she didn’t succeed, she didn’t warrant more than a passing mention.
I can’t recall her name. And so flies fame, in the face of ignominy, no? That event was one of the most peculiar of any passing parade, anywhere. A diversion for sure. A clown act.