(Story continued from part 1)
I was hanging out on the high voltage box behind the church with a bunch of other boys. They were not boys that I was friends with really, but boys I knew from the neighborhood that I wished I could become friends with. Proximity alone had yet to endear me to them. I was bragging about something I never actually did on my skateboard, a trick I would never do, when the mantis first touched me. The look on the boys’ faces was one of pure joy when they saw her. I thought they were reacting to my vivid lie at first. They looked impressed. I ramped up my description of the bogus feat. Their approval was a drug. I was flying as I spoke. The boys in the neighborhood loved me! They had never loved me before.
I didn’t notice the mantis on my shoulder or head. It wasn’t until she had crawled around to my chest and let a feeler brush my neck that I lost it. I panicked. I squeaked and batted the insect high into the air. I broke into a dance, still screaming, and tried to slap my body clean. The mantis landed somewhere in the grass, I guess. Nobody was paying attention to her anymore. Sissies were more fun to watch than insects.
I hunted her for the rest of the summer, looking for a fight. I didn’t care about the law. Every time the boys in the neighborhood saw me, they threw themselves into a fit of squeals and hysteria. That was worse than any prison. So I stalked through the community on a mission of revenge all summer. I carried a rolled up skateboard magazine with me as a weapon. I began lifting weights.
But I never found the praying mantis again. I figured it was because they were rare, which explained why my neighbor told me it was illegal to kill them. It turns out that was an urban myth. The North American praying mantis is common, just really good at hiding in grass, trees, leaves and gardens. So you can fight one whenever you want. And I reccomend you do.