MANTULA Part Eight: To the ‘Wood’


I could feel the little passenger car vibrate under me as my stalker, who made me a bit nervous, drove the twenty-minute stretch between Cottonwood and the city of Sedona.

I considered falling asleep for the ride,but my companion wouldn’t have it. Maybe he’d done so much meth in his human life that some of it carried over into his quail life. Glenn had more energy than that lame electric pink bunny that was popular on TV commercials back in the day. He squirmed so much in the gym bag we were hiding in that I feared our unknowing cab driver would see it. Luckily she was too busy talking to a reporter on the telephone to notice much else. And yet again, she was talking to him about me–particularly about my end-of-days leap off Coffee Pot Rock yesterday, which had been caught on camera by a drone the woman owned.

It seemed Mantula and his new sidekick ManQuail was already making the news. That would make my son laugh, I was sure. Were he watching, I’m sure my whole predicament was cracking him up.

ManQuail interrupted my thoughts. “So we got a little sidetracked and you never answered my question.”

“What question?”

“Your addiction, man! What was it?”

Ever since Glenn mentioned his “cure” from the disease of methamphetamines, I’d been pondering that very question. Besides having woken up in the body of a hairy insect with eight legs, nothing else felt different. He told me about Dick and Christine and the others as well, and they all reported cures from their various addictions. I had no addiction that I could recall and, as a result, nothing that felt removed from my life after I woke up as a bug.

So I answered his question. “I don’t feel any different, Glenn. I wasn’t addicted to anything in the first place.”

“You had to be. You can tell me, man. Everybody who wakes up as an insect or a bird had an addiction. It’s the way it works,” he replied.

“Look, I wasn’t hooked on anything. I don’t drink really, except recently, but I’ve never been an alcoholic, and I don’t smoke. No drugs, either. No addictions to anything.”

“Dude, that can’t be right.”

I growled. “I’m not lying, Glenn. I can’t think of anything. I feel the same way today as I did when I was a man.”

“That can’t be right,” he mumbled to himself. “There’s always an addiction.” He eyeballed the hundred-dollar bill I sat on with his sideways bird gaze. “Maybe it’s money. You could have a money addiction.”

“Glenn, everyone has a money addiction.”

“But maybe yours is unnaturally strong or something. You ever think about that?”

I positioned myself over the bill, covering it with my body. “I wouldn’t still want it then, would I? Wouldn’t I be cured of the money addiction now? Well guess what, I still want it. So try again.”

Up in the driver’s seat, I could hear the woman talking to the reporter. He’d apparently called back again. I figured we had to be getting close to Cottonwood by this time. Thunder rumbled the skies above us. I could also hear the faint sounds of rain hitting the roof of the car.

“I just don’t get it. Maybe it will come to you,” Glenn continued. “We all had an addiction, man. I know that much.”

“If I think of something I’ll let you know.”

A few minutes later we pulled to a stop. ManQuail and I buried ourselves under the smelly gym clothes to avoid being seen when she got out of the car. I figured she’d just disappear into her house. Neither of us expected her to open the passenger door and reach for the bag we’d picked to hide inside, but that’s exactly what she did. ManQuail fell on top of me as a result of the sudden gravitational shift, but didn’t move after landing on my back. He played it cool, which was a good thing. I doubted the two of us weighed all that much, however. A few drops of cool, moist rain landed on my legs and seeped through the hair on my legs.

Humming, she carried us at her side, up what sounded like a short set of stairs, and into her home. She hefted us a bit further once inside, her footsteps echoing in the place, and then finally set us down. Breathing a sigh of relief, I listened to her footsteps walk away before shoving my bird companion off of me.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I said.

Quietly, we both lunged from the bag and found ourselves in the woman’s bedroom near the foot of her bed. Boxes lay scattered throughout the place. Some were turned on their side with apparel spilled out on the floor. Rather than dart into one of them, ManQuail dashed into a nearby closet. I skittered and flopped right behind him. Once in shadow, we turned back to watch for our host. I could hear her footsteps heading back to the room. The woman with the business attire hummed her way over to a dresser in the far corner. Once there she began to remove her large silver hoop earrings.

For now, we were safe. We’d also made it to Cottonwood, but where in Cottonwood? It could be we were miles from my crappy little apartment, but I supposed we would cross that bridge when we got to it.

For now we’d have to wait things out. Maybe when the woman went to bed we’d find a way to sneak our way to freedom. Being that it was still morning, we might have a while to sit there in the closet.

But then she yawned, and it raised my hopes a bit. She did say she hadn’t slept last night after all. Placing her earrings on the dresser, she reached over her head and pulled her bun loose. Waves of black hair cascaded over shoulder. The woman kicked off her high heels before reaching around her waist to unzip her skirt.

We had a perfect view of the whole thing.

ManQuail giggled and said, “Oh hell yeah.”

Mantula and ManQuail hitch a ride to Cottonwood, Ariz.


Published by patrickwhitehurst

Patrick Whitehurst is a fiction and non-fiction author who's written for a number of northern Arizona newspapers over the years, covering everything from the death of the nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots to Barack Obama's visit to Grand Canyon. In his spare time he enjoys painting, blogging, the open water, and reading everything he can get his hands on. Whitehurst is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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