MEMPHIS -- It started with five whiskey and Cokes -- doubles -- in an airport bar in Texas.
It ended in handcuffs, a three-day stint in the Shelby County Jail, being stripped "buck naked" twice and a lifetime ban from Delta Air Lines for Bryan Sisco, 40.
In between is the odd story of a flight diverted to Memphis last Friday after Sisco bragged to a young woman that he had a gas canister that could put everyone onboard to sleep.
That bit of braggadocio got Sisco arrested on charges of carrying a weapon or explosive on an aircraft. He was eventually freed on a $10,000 bond.
The story began in the Dallas airport, as weather delayed a 7:45 p.m. flight to Atlanta for almost two hours. Sisco decided to ride out the delay in a bar after already downing a few beers on his way to the airport, according to the police report.
"I'm not a big drinker, and I was feeling no pain," Sisco said Thursday from his home in Winston, Ga. "I didn't realize that most of the passengers were uptight. They were pretty ticked off about the delay."
So Sisco boarded the plane and made his way to 20D, which wasn't even his seat. A few minutes later, Danielle Valimont, 23, took 20E and was instantly creeped out, she wrote in a blog.
"He was talking very fast and acted nervous as he introduced himself," she wrote. "I sat down and sent this text: 'I'm sitting beside a crazy man."'
Sisco is getting divorced, he said, and decided to put the moves on Valimont. When a flight attendant confronted him about being in the wrong seat, Sisco said he and Valimont were newlyweds.
Before Valimont could protest, the attendant moved on. A chatty Sisco told her he was an architect, then intimated he was a federal marshal, Valimont wrote.
"He began to explain he knew everything about everyone on the plane," she wrote. "He had the roster and he chose to sit by me because I was 'harmless."'
Meanwhile, a drunken Sisco thought things were going well.
"We were talking, sharing M&Ms, eating chocolate, having a good time," he said. "I fabricated some truths about myself. ... I thought we were getting along pretty good."
Soon, Sisco pulled out a butane lighter, sparking it near Valimont's leg.
"I acted as if it was no big deal, though my heart was racing," she wrote.
The chat turned to a large tube Sisco was carrying, the type architects use for blueprints.
"I told her it was top secret," Sisco said. "She started opening it, and I said, 'You can't do that. There's gas in there that will make anyone sleep if you open it."'
At this point, Valimont faked an excuse to go to the bathroom and started typing on her iPhone, heart pounding. She discreetly left her phone with a flight attendant, she wrote.
"If the guy in 20D is a marshal disregard this msg. He has a torch that he lit and showed me. And he said his canister has a gas device that will make everyone on the plane pass out if there is danger. He also has a device that says is like a Taser. I will go sit back down. Do what you need to."
An attendant took Valimont to the front of the plane, acting as if she needed to show her boarding pass.
Valimont could hear the pilots on the radio, making plans to divert to Memphis. When they landed, she saw police dressed as paramedics slip onboard.
Sisco was oblivious to the unfolding drama.
"I fell asleep and woke up in handcuffs in Memphis with the FBI questioning me. ... I couldn't even feel my thumb, the handcuffs were put on so tight," he said. "I spent three days in a county jail and a fourth day in a federal penitentiary. I was stripped buck-naked twice."
While Sisco was being hauled away, federal agents searched the plane, finding nothing. Within two hours, passengers were allowed to re-board and the plane finally made its way to Atlanta.
While Valimont was hailed as a hero by fellow passengers, some of whom commented on her blog, Sisco was still befuddled.
"It all came about because of that one comment. That was all it took for that plane to be diverted to Memphis," he said. "It was stupid of me. I'm a dumbass."
(Jody Callahan is a reporter for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., firstname.lastname@example.org.)