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December 4, 2013 1 Comment
At the Charlotte Douglas International Airport:
A heavy set, well dressed, overly bejeweled woman approaches the airline counter of FLY AMERICA airlines. She appears disturbed and rushed. Behind the counter a male agent with an erect posture visibly stiffens at her approach. Under his breath he warns a cute, young female agent that one of their most difficult very-frequent-flyer is approaching and to let him handle it.
‘Where’s my cat?’
A long sequence of colorful dialogue regarding the airlines, the airport, and the ways of the world she is addressing are heard. The male agent adjusts his tie, puts on a fake smile, and condescendingly asked her what the problem is.
At this point the woman breaks down in furious tears and relays how she checked in three bags and a cat in Chicago and she went to the baggage claim area to find three bags and no cat.
The agent tries to calm her down and asks to see her ticket with the baggage claims attached. He enters something on the computer in front of him and then picks up the phone.
At the International Baggage Claim area of the airport:
Hubbub of activity. Baggage carts are whizzing by and planes can be seen and heard approaching or taking off in the background.
A stocky, muscular baggage-handler answers phone and shouts in order to be heard. Listens to the story, then exclaims: “Jesus Christ, not her.” Hangs up phone and shouts over the noise to a small-statured, wiry baggage-handler driving a cart.
The second handler drives over and screams “What now?”
The first baggage-handler shakes his head and says that he can’t believe what’s happened:
“You know the woman that flies at least every two weeks and is always busting our balls about a scratch on her luggage or the fact that the bags arrived too late after the flight or the fact that she broke a f***ing fingernail getting off of the plane. Well, guess what! Now we’ve lost her pussy and she really has her claws out.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”exclaims the second baggage-handler.
“Her cat, man, her damn cat! She checked her cat in Chicago and they can’t locate it in the baggage claim.”
In a room in the airport stacked with animal carriers:
Audible sounds of meows and barking are heard in the background. Two young baggage-handlers are standing over the animal carrier in center of room shaking their heads.
“Are you sure it’s dead?” asks a tall one with a shock of hair over one eye. “You know a lot of people sedate their pets so heavily that they don’t wake up for two days after a flight.”
A shorter Mexican handler pulls out a visibly stiff large tabby cat with glassy wide open eyes and a parted drool-ridden mouth from the cat carrier.
“Oh shit,” exclaims the tall handler.
At this point they start arguing about one of them rough handling the cat carriers, etc.
Into the room walk the other two baggage-handlers who have obvious authority over these two.
The two younger handlers stand in front of the cat carrier and the dead cat on the floor.
The stocky handler reads off a flight number and asks if they’ve seen the missing cat.
First they try to cover their tracks, then arguing ensues, then nervous explanations and excuses filter into the conversations by the two young handlers.
The small wiry handler roughly shoves them out of the way and sees dead cat. He looks at the baggage claim ticket on the carrier, moans audibly, and says “We’re in deep shit now.” Goes into explanation about who cat belongs to, how much trouble she causes, and how prone she is to write the president of the airlines.
The stocky handler who is obviously in charge gestures with his hands in downward motion for everyone to calm down. Says he has an idea:
“Listen, that looks like a pretty common cat to me.” “It’s just a big fat grey tabby with no distinguishing marks as far as I can see.” “Why don’t we just replace the cat with one from the animal shelter since it sits right behind the airport?”
Other handlers take turns arguing that he’s nuts, that they’ll never get by with it and that there must be some law against something like that.
The stocky handler argues back that they could all lose their jobs over this because the woman is a raving cow and the airline will do anything to shut her up and keep her happy. Says this cat was probably like a kid to her and she will look at it like murder.
The two younger handlers start arguing about how the animal carriers did have luggage packed on top of them and there was rough handling in the rush to unload the plane and that some forensic guy can probably determine the time of death and what caused it.
At the FLY AMERICA ticket counter:
The agent is trying to soothe the woman and telling her that cat was put on wrong flight but should be here in one hour.
The enraged woman starts screaming and threatens that it better not be one minute over one hour because she and the cat have a schedule to keep.
A pick-up truck with FLY AMERICA emblazoned on the side is seen speeding down the road with the two young baggage-handlers inside.
The truck is seen pulling into the animal shelter. Both the guys get out – walk up to the reception area and say they are looking for a cat.
They are led back to a long cement floored room with rows of cages on both sides. They start looking at all the cages, then start arguing again.
A large stocky woman with keys is eyeing them suspiciously and asks what do they want the cat for.
They tell her their aunt’s cat died and they want to replace it with one just like she had before.
Finally they come across an aging lethargic grey tabby cat that looks a little rough but should fit the bill. They ask the woman if she can clean it up a bit,
She bites back that this ain’t no beauty parlor.
They pay for the cat and head back to the airport.
In a corner of the Baggage Claim area:
All four baggage-handlers involved stand over the cat cage. The cat is pulled out.
In one glance they agree the cat needs to be cleaned up and proceed to wet paper towels and wipe it off. One handler pulls out comb from back pocket and proceeds to groom it. The cat is too lazy to scratch or jump.
At the FLY AMERICA ticket counter:
A cat carrier suddenly appears on the baggage belt behind the ticket agent. He breaks it to the waiting woman with a big I-told-you-so smile.
The woman approaches the ticket counter. The agent smiles and hands her the cat carrier.
The woman takes the carrier, looks inside, screams and faints.
The ticket agent opens his mouth in surprise and gets on intercom calling for security.
Two security guys come running and try to revive the woman.
Finally she sits up and exclaims in disbelief:
“It’s a miracle. It’s one of the unexplained wonders of God.” She gets up and pulls herself together, vigorously thanks the nonplussed airline agent, and is seen walking out of the airport with her cat.
At the door, she pauses, turns around and says “I checked my Fluffy on board in Chicago. But, praise the Lord, the flight has miraculously revived her. I need to cancel the funeral arrangements.”
Credits: Mildly edited version of screen-play by Kathy B. Sutton at contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~ks4i/, wikihow.com/Argue-for-a-Life-After-Death and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baggage_claim_2.jpg