Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Tight Spot for Bingo

Cheryl and I were all set for a quiet few days at home when we got the call. Our CIA-engineered puppy was needed in Arizona for an undisclosed assignment, ASAP. We got to the airport within an hour, but when we attempted to pass through the metal detector, our puppy's embedded electronics set off every alarm in the place, and in a flash Bingo and Cheryl were sequestered in a glass booth and surrounded by agents.

Normally the CIA has a security path cleared for us so that no questions are asked, but the wires got crossed somehow, and here was Bingo, a 7-month-old puppy with a bionic brain and a dynamic, downloadable intelligence that would allow him to teach a college physics course or fly a Cessna if necessary, sitting in a cubicle with unsuspecting airport security agents. Playing the role, Bingo jumped and licked and wagged his tail in a most silly manner.

'This is Bingo,' Cheryl repeated in a loud voice more than once, hoping that someone from Washington might be in earshot and would come in before the search went too far, while I stood helpless (and, I confess, a little amused) as the agents asked Cheryl to remove Bingo's blue service coat, which is a prototype protoplasmic cotton shield matrix that we keep in a special closet (the bat cave, we call it) along with his other special toys.

Just then I noticed a man, probably one of Bingo's handlers, in jeans on the other side of the booth and talking into a small device that was, I assumed, tuned into Bingo's neural net. Bingo then turned and looked me in the eyes with a twinkle, like light bouncing off a jewel, and somehow I knew what he wanted me to do. I knocked on the glass wall and the words 'If you're through with the dog, I'll take him now.' came out from my mouth. And the security guard, in an oddly similar tone of voice, said 'Yes, I'm through with him.' and then passed Bingo to me through the door even as the metal detectors continued to beep.

That was weird.

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