MANTULA Part Thirteen: The stripper comes back


It didn’t take Glenn long to check his email, but he busied himself for a couple days by surfing the Web.

He’d been a quail for a year, so most of his friends had long ago given up on hearing from him. As he told me, many had given up on him once he starting playing around with meth anyway. Therefore, his Gmail account, had very little to keep him occupied. He had a good time reading news and reading about the movies he’d missed over the last year however. He was bummed to read all the bad reviews on Hangover 3. That was one he’d been looking forward to seeing, he told me. Not that I cared about anything he had to say.

I enjoyed being back at my crappy little apartment for about five minutes. But I found that, no matter how many of my DVDs I stuck in the player, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the drawings on the wall over the kitchen table. Luckily ManQuail could never tell what I was looking at. And I’d gotten more adept at hiding my thoughts from him. He could hear my mental voice when I wanted him to hear me, but not when I didn’t. It took a few days, but I was glad to master that particular skill.

After a while, it seems, Glenn finally got around to reading some of the local news he liked to peruse when he was a man. Shortly after that is when he yelped with surprise and called me over to see what he had on the screen.

There I saw two news stories all about me, a fact that made my tarantula stomach turn a couple tricks. The first mentioned my flight off Coffee Pot Rock in Sedona, which had been captured by a drone running a test flight over the area. I’d see that drone again, not less than an hour later, after I tried to flee ManQuail while holding my hundred-dollar bill. The damn thing had followed me. Seeing me with money, however, wasn’t mentioned in the article. Not sure why it wasn’t mentioned.

The next article had to do with us running across State Route 89A last week and the three-car pile up we’d cased. Both articles had a photo of me, the first showed me falling through the air (I thought I’d go splat around that time I recalled) and the second photo showed me riding atop ManQuail, stupidly waving around my hundred-dollar bill.

“Dude, you’re making a big name for yourself!” Glenn exclaimed happily. “How the hell did that drone get a photo of you flying through the air like that? And look at me. Man, that is one nice looking quail if I do say so myself.”

I was dumbfounded. Finally, I replied, “How can one little bug get into so much trouble. Guess it’s good we’re here. Can’t get into much trouble inside an apartment I hope.”

I know sooner mentally spoke than there was a knock at the door. Checking the clock on the wall, I saw it was just shy of 5:30 p.m. ManQuail stepped back cautiously from the keyboard, afraid his clawed feet might accidentally hit the keys too hard and be heard through the door. I made my way to the window in a flash. Silently, I peeked through the opened slit.

The heat of the day throbbed against my furry spider face as I peered over to see a tall, lanky man knocking politely on the door outside. He looked like a middle-aged hipster, black skinny jeans, an untucked western shirt, bushy brown beard flecked with grey and black-rimmed eyeglasses. I didn’t know the guy from Adam.

“Not sure who he is,” I told my roommate. “He’s leaving a card in the door though.”

(Story continues below)

Doug peeks over the balcony

of his crappy little apartment.

Once the hipster made his way down the stairs to the parking lot, I darted outside to snatch up the card. The card was no sooner in my hand, however, when I heard the tall man call out to someone.

“Hey there!” he yelled. “What are you doing in this neighborhood?”

A female voice, which sounded a bit nervous, not to mention a little familiar, replied, “Do I know you?”

“I’m Kip Mooney,” he told her. “The reporter with the Sedona Daily Reader. We talked on the phone about your drones and that tarantula that fell through the air. Remember? I’m sorry, I recognized you from the picture on your website.”

“I see,” the female voice replied. “Nice to meet you in person, Mr. Mooney.”

I crept further to the edge of the door, then leapt to the railing at the landing, and glanced down to the parking lot. The hipster stood with his back to me. Standing in front of him, dressed this time, stood the woman who caught us watching her take her clothes off a week ago after we’d snuck a ride in her car. What the hell was she doing outside of my apartment? And what was the guy, whose articles ManQuail and I just read, doing out there too?

“I did another tarantula story near here about a week ago. The whole thing has me fascinated really, so I had some free time and I thought I’d follow up on it, see if anyone saw a spider riding a quail around here,” Mooney said.

“I read that story. I’ve been taking walks in the neighborhood myself actually, wondering if I would see anything weird,” she told him. Did I hear flirtation in her voice?

The hipster attempted a laugh. “Your drone might come in handy for that!” The man paused for a second. “Wait a minute. You don’t think this is the same tarantula the Sedona Eye filmed, do you? That was all the way over in Sedona.”

“It’s the same one. I know it,” she told him. “This isn’t for print, Kip, but my drone operator was so curious about the falling tarantula that he followed it with the Eye. When it landed, the tarantula hid under a bush, but came out a while later holding a one-hundred dollar bill.”

Mooney gasped. “Just like the one that caused the crash on 89A! But that’s impossible. How did it get all the way into Cottonwood. Did it ride that quail the whole way here?”

The woman named Diana Sturgis went silent. After a moment, she said, “Trust me. It’s the same one.”

“Well this story is getting weirder and weirder,” the reporter said, shaking his head. “Maybe we should combine forces on this, Mrs. Sturgis. I’ll let you know what I hear, you let me know what you hear?”

Sturgis laughed. She was flirting, I could tell. “It’s Ms. Sturgis, Kip. I’m not married.”

At this point, ManQuail joined me on the ledge. Silently, the bird dipped his head over the railing to get a look. He pulled his head back quickly.

“That’s the guy who wrote the news stories? I know that guy, Doug.”

I detected a hint of nervousness in the quail’s mental voice. For some reason, the reporter made him a bit nervous.

“What is it?” I asked. “Where do you know him from?”

“Remember when I said I got my drugs from a guy in Cottonwood. He’d drive out to Camp Verde to hook me up? That’s the guy. He was my dealer!”

Kip Mooney was right. Things were getting weirder and weirder.

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.

4 thoughts on “MANTULA Part Thirteen: The stripper comes back

  1. This is just a fascinating and fun read. I really like all of the multi media aspects of this, especially the news reports. What a fun and whimsical hilarious effort! With Halloween fast approaching, it sure would be fun to have a Mantula toy or something. . .

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