MANTULA Part Twenty-Six: Peeping Doug

There’s something of a peeping Tom in all of us.

Humans are inclined to know what others of our kind are up to. We pay attention to trends, which are just indicators for us to know what we should be buying, how we should dress, what cell phones we should save up for – all based on what others humans are buying. The rich, the famous, those we know and are jealous of, the cool and the hip, we want to know what they’re up to. We want to know what they’re wearing, what they’re listening to on their iPods, what type of iPod they’re using for that matter, whether it’s their phone or whatever. The allure of cold cash consumerism is the best example I can think of to justify the weirdly erotic feeling we humans get from spying on others. Leave the curtains open at night and be sure someone will look inside as they drive by. Those who say they don’t do it are just fooling themselves. That’s not to say we’re all looking to see something filthy and nasty, though it’s not far from the truth, but we look just because we can. We look to see what our neighbors are up to. We look to see if our lives are better than theirs. Usually there’s no comparison. Theirs is better. They’re doing something more fun, with cooler things, and with better looking people than I’ve ever done. Especially lately.

The idea we all do it, that peeping is simply a part of the human condition, similar to taking a dump or yawning when tired, helped me sneak around the outside of Diana’s house that evening. I found a clump of rose bushes in the front yard and scaled through the interior, avoiding thorns, until a relatively dry spot presented itself. There I settled down, thankful the monsoon couldn’t reach me for the time being, and waited for the arrival of the reporter Kip Mooney. ManQuail had probably made it back to our crappy little apartment by now, I figured, and was settling in for the evening nice and warm. I’d have to pay the bills soon or we’d lose the place, not to mention having the electricity turned off, but I could do it all online, which helped. Mailing bills, for a tarantula, isn’t that easy. I could do it any time I wanted, which freed me up to be a peeping tom when the need arose.

I’m not sure what I was hoping to see, or what I was hoping not to see, but I felt pretty damn sure I was doing the right thing. Getting back to my crappy little apartment would be a breeze. For a tarantula like me, who retained the strength of a human, I could be back there in ten minutes. On top of that, I could fight off whatever predators happened to cross my path. And speaking of predators…

An older model Subaru Outback pulled up to the sidewalk outside of the Sturgis home. In the gloom, I couldn’t make out the color, probably gray, but I could tell the thing had seen better days. Mooney popped from the driver’s side, slammed the door closed, and made his way around the front of the vehicle quickly so not to get soaked before seeing Diana. A pang of jealousy gripped me.

The reporter had the hipster look going on full tilt. He certainly didn’t look like a meth dealer. A short haircut, slicked back with expensive vintage hair gel no doubt, and a full beard complemented a muscular physique adorned in tight black jeans and a fitted red and green flannel shirt. To top off the ensemble, he wore black rimmed glasses – Mooney basically killed the pseudo lumberjack-intellectual look, or slaughtered the Harry Potter-grunge-Amish fusion idea, depending on one’s outlook. I found it a bit too metrosexual for my tastes, but maybe Diana would like it. I had no idea her tastes after all. Tarantulas weren’t likely on the list, that I knew. A date with an arachnid, no matter how well spoken, would be met with no small measure of reluctance I was sure.

Diana opened the door for him wearing a red dress that made my heart go aflutter. I wasn’t the kind of guy to get so weird about a woman that I forgot myself, but that’s exactly what happened when I saw her. I forgot about my tarantula body, that I wanted to be dead, about everything really, but just for a moment. She filled my everything. Her serious, but elegant features, dark hair and curvy body. Everything looked perfect, I suddenly wanted to leap from the rose bush and knock that bastard Mooney unconscious. But what would that gain me? What would any of it gain me actually?

I began to doubt why I was there, hiding in a stupid rose bush, while Mooney entered Diana’s home, and would probably enter her in no time flat.

The rain poured around me. Drops fell on my hairy body as I faced the dark monsoon, staring blankly into the storm. The storm brought a soothing quality into the evening, despite the damp chill. Random flashes of jagged, dangerous lightning lit the darkening sky. Throughout the neighborhood gutters gurgled and slurped. Water ran rampant down the street and muddied the yards. They were quickly turning into oversized lakes the color of chocolate milk.

Doug begins to question what he wants in life.

I’m not sure how long I stared into the storm, paralyzed by my own sense of nothingness, embarrassed that I was concerned, and falling for, a woman I barely knew, and one who’s grandmother was to blame for my mess. It wasn’t that long ago I sat alone and sick in my crappy little apartment. Did I want that back? Did I want to shun the world? Part of me did. There was another part of me, however, that wanted to know more about Diana, that wanted to help those that, for whatever reason, could no longer care for themselves. Many were like me, I figured, able to care for themselves, but without any desire to. There were many out there whop suffered from the curse of Grandma Sturgis. They were unaware a cure could be found. I was that cure. An ugly, spider of a man that would make women and men, like Diana and Mooney, run screaming in the opposite direction.

As if to illustrate my point, a muffled scream pierced through the monsoon, jarring me back to reality. It ended as soon as it came, but I had no doubt it came from within the Sturgis home. I scrambled out of the rose bush and made my way to the closest window. As I got to the window sill, I heard muffled voices inside.

“Diana, please. Dressed like that, inviting me over for dinner, what else should I expect? I just hate formalities. I’m a newsman. I want to get right down to business.”

“No one paws me like that, Kip. Who do you think you are?”

“I’m Kip Mooney.”

“Please, put your shirt back on.”

“Why don’t you take your dress off. You’ll be glad you did.”

Diana’s voice began to sound a little nervous. I started pushing the window open. “You need to get the hell out of here.”

“Make me,” Mooney said.

She wouldn’t have to make him. I would.

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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