MANTULA Part Fourteen: Hey, Dopeman

Mant-14

“Find that he’s slapping you, all the time.

But that’s okay ‘coz he’s so rich

And you ain’t nothin’ but a Dopeman’s bitch.”

  – N.W.A.

The reporter, Mooney, and Diana Sturgis wandered off together after agreeing to exchange phone numbers. I turned to go back inside our crappy little apartment, still holding the man’s business card. I doubt the card mentioned his side job as a drug dealer anywhere on it. Glenn hung back for a moment, staring sideways at the two. I stopped at the windowsill and waited for him.

“Are you alright?” I asked him.

He didn’t answer right away. Finally, he sighed and started back into the apartment. “I suppose so. It’s just weird that I’d bump into him. Brings back a lot of memories I haven’t thought about since I woke up in Sedona.”

He looked back a second time before ducking back into the apartment. Once inside, I could tell he wasn’t his usual bored, excitable self. ManQuail walked slowly across the living room without saying a word. He was almost dragging his little quail feet as he went.

I didn’t want to play the role of counselor, but I got the feeling ManQuail needed an ear. Turns out I was wrong.

“You want to talk about it, Glenn?”

The bird shook his head. “Not right now, man. I think I’m going to lay down for a bit,” he answered.

“Maybe we need to get out a bit,” I suggested. “What about trying to see your parents? You’ve talked about them pretty often. We could try and get a ride there somehow, go see how they’re doing?”

ManQuail walked into the small hallway leading to bedroom and disappeared from site. “No thanks. They’re doing better without me there. I know that much. Good night, Doug.”

He’d no sooner disappeared into the bedroom, and actually shut the door (which he never did), when I heard thumping sounds in the apartment below, followed by raised voices. The downstairs neighbors. I recalled they had just moved in a couple days before I woke up as a tarantula in red rock country. Apartments were never very quiet.

I couldn’t make out what the two were shouting about, only that the loudest yeller came from the man. His wife sounded quiet and terrified. With any luck, someone would call the cops on the two. I wasn’t sure how ManQuail would sleep with the ruckus they were making. I thought about banging on the floor myself. It would shut them up, but it might also bring the man upstairs to pick a fight. A better idea would be to keep quiet, I told myself. (Story continues below)

She-Wolf drawing by Doug’s son.

– Illustration by Ben Whitehurst.

The cops never came, however, as they likely had better things to deal with in Cottonwood than domestic violence calls. Nonetheless, the two eventually settled down and I drifted to sleep on the couch. I dreamed of my son and woke with a heated start after seeing him wave goodbye from the school bus as it drove away. I felt hot, feverish almost, but soon began to cool off.

A storm had rolled in for the night, creating a lightning and thunder over the inky Verde Valley night. I found myself staring at another of my son’s drawings when I opened all of my eyes. I remembered he called the female coyote he drew a “She-Wolf.” At the time I thought it looked like a character out of Pokemon. Today it reminded me of Diana Sturgis. I kept picturing her face, her body, in my mind. I tried to bury it, forget the thoughts, and forget seeing her pull her panties over her feet. Don’t think about her. I definitely didn’t want Glenn picking up on the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about her. She-Wolf. I decided I’d get on the computer myself and Google her. If anything, I would tell Glenn that we needed to more about the people looking for us.

It didn’t take long for me to track down the Flight Services, L.L.C. website. Using the mouse and the keyboard took a little bit of work, even with my eight legs, but I soon had a headshot of her on the screen, with details on her background listed in bullet points beside it.

Sturgis was born and raised in Cottonwood, but spent most of her life attending school and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’d only returned to Arizona two years ago to open her drone business and take care of her dying mother, who passed away a year ago, the website said.

After staring into her eyes for a few minutes, wondering what it would be like to actually sit and have coffee with her, what it would be like to be a real man in her bedroom, I could hear ManQuail stirring in the other room. I jumped over to the mouse and clicked on my Gmail account. I had no interest in checking my email actually, but I didn’t want the bird to see Diana on my screen.

He came into the room just as the account loaded on my screen. I found that I had a ton of unopened email, but the weird part is they were all from the same guy. There were at least thirty messages from some guy named Maximillian Kolbe, just like the Catholic saint on the coin sitting atop the coffee table. Not only that but the emails all had the same subject line.

They read, “I know you’re a tarantula.”

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