Garbol the wizard lined up at security to get through to his first airplane flight ever to Las Vegas for the Magic Arts Convention. At the baggage check, he’d gone through two employees, three supervisors, and an off duty Harry Potter fan to make special declarations for the magic paraphernalia in his suitcases, but they finally accepted it when a non-believer employee threw it on the belt and jeered, “Next thing you know, you guys will charge for another passenger if someone’s possessed.”
The security line was slow, but Garbol had far more patience with queuing than he did with people, so he leaned on his pool-cue staff and contemplated the four conversions of meaning to modify spells for transmogrification.
At the front of the serpentined stanchions, a pair of soft-spoken asian women, one long haired and the other short, were checking IDs, so he pulled his wallet out of his jeans.
“Sir,” said the one with longer hair. “You can’t take that onto the plane.”
“What?” asked Garbol.
“Pool sticks are not allowed on the airplane. You can’t take it past this point.”
By now, Garbol was accustomed to all of the ridiculous demands people have, and situations such as these can rapidly compound impediments, so he didn’t grapple with her stupidity the way he normally would.
“I see,” he said. “Can you write down the problem for me? Use my pencil.” He held out his cue stick.
“I…” the lady furrowed her brow. “I thought… never mind. Your ID, please.”
He advanced through the ropes until he arrived at a short conveyer belt going into an enclosure. People took their shoes off and dropped them in tubs to send them through.
Garbol tapped the shoulder of a man in a suit in front of him. “Excuse me, fellow. Why are we surrendering our shoes for this thing?”
“X-ray.” The man stepped between two monolithic, black boxes taller than Garbol.
“They want to x-ray my shoes?” He pulled off his left shoe.
A lady with curly gray hair behind him whispered. “There was a shoe bomber.”
Garbol pulled off his right one. “Thank goodness it wasn’t an underwear bomber.”
“Oh! They had one of those, too.”
Garbol hitched his mouth. “Then what good is x-raying shoes?”
The lady shrugged, and a plump TSA man took his ticket and beckoned him between the monoliths, pointing to the footprints for him to stand on. After a minute, the agent called over a colleague, a tall Black man, to look at the display on the side. They called Garbol out.
“Sir, do you have anything radioactive on you?”
“Of course not,” said Garbol.
The tall one said, “Your x-ray shows up like a starburst. He pointed to the display, and it showed a radiating light obscuring most of Garbol’s body except for his bare feet and his hands, one hand holding a pencil. Anything on you that might cause that?”
“I’m a wizard. The magic running through me obviously causes that.”
“You’re a wizard,” said the short agent.
“Hm. Okay,” said the tall one. “I’ve heard about such a thing, but how do we know you aren’t a sorcerer?”
“You already know I’m not a sorcerer.”
“If I were a sorcerer, I would already be through, and both of you would be cursed with ulcerative colitis.”
The agent nodded and handed him his ticket.