Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 1, 2014

Rain Woman

Rain Woman

The parents of Meagan Ragsdale had just laid their infant daughter to rest in her upstairs bedroom on Henry Street in their Nu’uanu Valley home.  The night was long as their little one cried almost endlessly as her new teeth were coming in.  Applying Ora-Jel to Meagan’s gums finally settled her down.  Now she lay sleeping in her crib, and her parents were able to find comfort on their couch in the expansive living room to watch their favorite television show.  Herman Ragsdale kept Meagan’s baby monitor on his lap as a habit so he could be ready to attend to her needs in case she awoke late at night crying.  Carolyn Ragsdale took a deep breath, settled her head on her husband's shoulder, and was not really paying attention to anything; she was just relieved that she could finally sit somewhere, anywhere. 

At that moment, the side room door next to the kitchen opened, and Carolyn’s grandmother walked into the living room where Herman and Carolyn were sitting.

“I heard the baby crying. Is she okay?” the grandmother asked.

“She’s fine Ba-chan; she was teething, but we put Ora-Jel; she’s sleeping now,” Carolyn replied.

“I don’t know why you put her in the upstairs room; better you put her in the room with me so I can watch her, easier like that, you know.  Plus, I’m too old to walk up those steps; what if something happens?” the grandmother replied.

“Ba-chan,” Herman began, “Our room is right across the hallway from Meagan’s room.  If anything happens, Carolyn and I are close by.’

“Pfffhhhttt!” Grandmother scoffed, “Young people nowadays have all the answers but don’t know how to dig a hole in the ground.  They just look at the shovel trying to figure out which end goes in the dirt.  That’s what happens when you think you know everything!”

The grandmother returned to her bedroom and locked the door behind her.

“That woman can be insufferable sometimes,” Herman sighed.

“That insufferable woman helped us by this house,” Carolyn replied.

“With the condition that she lives with us so that she can be close to her great-granddaughter.  Don’t forget that part!” Herman reminded his wife.

“A small price to pay.  Most people in Hawai’i could never afford a place like we have.  We have to count our blessings,” Carolyn said as she let out a small yawn.

Herman and Carolyn fell asleep while the random infomercial on Channel 2 droned on into late hours.  At some point, Meagan’s cries crackled over the baby monitor and startled her parents awake.  It was not the normal cry that her parents were used to.  In the next second the infant let out a horrific scream, and then there was a sudden, uneasy silence. Herman was awake in no time and bounded the stairs while Carolyn tried her best to keep up with him; she watched the light in Meagan’s room come on as her husband dashed in through the open door. A second later she heard Herman scream, “Nooooo….!!!”
The scream was followed by a sudden loud thud. Running into the room now, Carolyn found Herman on the floor trying to regain his breathing; the only window in the space was wide open, and Meagan’s crib was empty, but the baby’s blanket and mattress were soaked with water, so too was the carpet around the crib.

“Where’s Meagan?” Carolyn shrieked at her husband.

“The woman,” Herman babbled, “the woman took her.”

After hearing all the commotion the grandmother now stood at the bottom of the stairs and screamed out to her granddaughter,

“Carolyn!  Carolyn, what happened?  Carolyn!  Answer me, Carolyn!”

The woman’s granddaughter was helping her husband down the stairs very carefully, holding on to the back of his head; Herman seemed dizzy and off balance.

“What happened?  Why is Herman all wet?  Where’s the baby?  Is Meagan alright?” the grandmother demanded.

Struggling to lay Herman on the couch, Carolyn said, “Megan is gone Ba-chan, we heard her screaming over the baby monitor, and then it stopped suddenly.  Call the police!  Some old Japanese woman had Meagan in her arms, and she was climbing out of the window with her.  Herman went to stop the old woman, and he claims that she knocked him across the room.  I have to call the police; the woman could be crazy and try to harm the baby!”

Carolyn was near hysterics herself, but her grandmother calmed her down, “But how did Herman get so soaking wet?”

“He was babbling something about the rain falling only on the woman and nowhere else, it must have been raining outside, and that crazy woman let the rain in when she snuck through the window,” Carolyn said, “You go wait in the room Ba-chan, I have to call the police.” 

“Herman, you’re going to have to sit up straight and stay awake okay?  The police are on their way; when they get here tell them everything that happened,” Carolyn instructed. She turned her head a minute earlier, just in time to see the front door wide open. Glancing quickly into her grandmother's room, she saw that it was empty.

Seeing his wife grab her purse and put on her sweater, he asked her, “Where are you going?”

“Bah-chan just walked out of the house; I have to go find her...and Meagan!”

Before Herman could protest, Carolyn was out the door.


On a clear and calm night when the moon was nearly a sliver as it sat in the dark heavens overlooking the plantation town of Waialua, Kumi Hirohito and her sister Mami slept in their bedrooms with the window open while a soft wind rolled in from the ocean and gently filled their space with a comforting coolness.  As one walked in, one would see that Kumi’s bed was fixed in the corner of the room, which was just on the right side of the door.  Mami’s bed was next to the window. She awoke one morning to find a note from her husband on her pillow; they had only been married for one year.


    This is not for me.  It’s not what I imagined.     



At the time when Mami discovered her husband’s note, she was already four months pregnant with their child.  Tetsuo’s departure alone broke Mami’s heart, but one day, when Mami, Kumi, and their parents took a long drive to Chinatown in search of a particular kind of herb, they saw Tetsuo crossing the road at Hotel and River Street with another woman in his arms. Mami ran after her husband screaming out his name; when she finally caught up to Tetsuo she latched on to him and was completely hysterical, “Tetsuo!  How can you do this?  How can you leave our unborn child and me?  Did you leave us for this whore?  Did you?!  Did you, Tetsuo!?”

Claiming ignorance to his new girlfriend, Tetsuo threw Mami to the pavement and walked off, “Ku-so!  You wrinkled my shirt, crazy bitch!”

It was too much for Mami’s father, Masa, to take.  He grabbed Tetsuo and spun him around, and, with one punch, he broke Tetsuo’s nose.  On the drive back to Waialua, Mami was in a lot of pain, so much so that by the time the family had finally made it back home and called the local doctor, Mami Hirothito miscarried her unborn child.  She was never the same thereafter. Mami spent most evenings sitting in her bedroom staring at the wall.  Kumi’s heart ached as she watched her sister lay in her bed in a fetal position with her back facing toward her, but no one's heart could be aching more than that of Mami herself.  

Kumi cried for her sister and prayed every evening that somehow Mami would snap out of her slump and come back from wherever her broken heart had taken her. Kumi’s eyes slowly began to close and sleep finally came to claim another one of its children. Her last conscious memory was that of the strange sound of heavy rain just outside their bedroom window coupled with the simultaneous creaking that Mami’s bed would make whenever she was restless and began to toss and turn. Kumi’s instinct was to rise from her near slumber in order to see what caused the heavy downpour that was out of its season; she was curious that way. However, the events of the long day proved to be taxing on her body and slumber would win over her waking thoughts. It was a decision that Kumi would regret for the rest of her life. 

The next morning when Kumi awoke, she found that Mami had already left.  Her bed was unmade and, as Kumi made her way into the kitchen, her parents were at the breakfast table having their meal.  Stating to her father and mother that her sister left early, Kumi discovered that her folks had been awake since four thirty in the morning and never saw Mami come out of the bedroom.  Kumi said she was going to happen by the cemetery on her way to work and see if her sister was there, but her normal spot at her child's grave was empty.  She was nowhere to be found.

During the day, neighbors would see Mami walking to the old Waialua Cemetery where she would sit at her child’s grave singing softly to herself as she slowly rocked back and forth. Later in the day, a local search party was organized and, by the end of the afternoon, the entire town of Waialua came out to look for Mami Hirohito.  Not a stone was left unturned in the small plantation town on the north shore.  When everything was called off, Mami’s father continued in vain for several more months to look for his daughter but to no avail.  The details of the days before Mami’s disappearance were given to the police, which did not seem to help. 

“Maybe your daughter needed a break?  I mean this town only reminded her of everything she’s lost.  Maybe she moved somewhere else to get away from it all,” the police officer said, “If that’s the case, she’ll probably turn up in a few months.  Keep your head up, Mr. Hirohito.”

No one dared broach the subject of what they really thought might have happened.

Maybe she took her own life so that she could be with her child in the other world? However, shortly after Mami disappeared, there were incidents of infant children who also disappeared as if they were plucked right from their homes.


The night was clear and calm in Nu’uanu, and the moon itself was a mere sliver hovering above the canopy of trees on Old Pali Road.  The late evening clouds above were not in their normal oblong shape but appeared to be taking a circular configuration as if they were forming a whirlpool.  The grandmother watched the circular cloud formation intently as it moved across the heavens; it was no longer above Old Pali Road.  Instead, it veered to the right above a long canopy of trees, which covered the length of the Nu’uanu Pali drive.  The grandmother followed and soon found herself rounding the hairpin turn fronting ‘Ilanawai.  Just as she neared Judd's trail, she stopped dead in her tracks when she heard a sound that sent chills down her spine. Meagan.  Screaming.

The grandmother’s sheer will carried her seventy-six-year-old frame as fast as it could go.  The more she heard the terrified cries of her great-granddaughter, the faster she seemed to move, but it was more than that.  There was an urgency as if time was of the essence.  Finally, she rounded the corner at the water reservoir, which made her heart sink when she saw it. It was true; her worst fear was a terrible reality.
A column of rain fell upon an old, ugly, haggard, Japanese woman wearing a worn and tattered kimono.  Torrential and unforgiving, the deluge fell upon her and nowhere else.  In her gnarled, wretched hands the horrible woman held Meagan out in front of her as if she were making a sacrificial offering to an unseen deity before partaking of the meal herself.  The meal in question is the baby.

“Mami!” the Grandmother shrieked, "Hirohito, Mami!"

“That’s not your baby, Mami!  Give her to me now!” the grandmother demanded with her outstretched hands. She stepped closer at the sight of her sister, she was much older than the last time she had seen her, but her eyes and features were still the same. The macabre figure slowly turned its head first as the rest of her twisted form followed; the eyes were fixed upon the grandmother and blinked only once.  The blue upper lip curled back to reveal blackened teeth as the graveled voice growled out the name of the old woman in front of her,


“Yes,” the now elderly sister replied, “Give me the baby Mami; she’s my great-granddaughter.  She’s not like the others you took all those years ago, she belongs to me, and you can’t have her.”

The malevolent countenance returned to the rain-soaked ghost and an evil grin replaced familial recognition, “That, I cannot do.  I must have her; I must.” 

“I know who you are,” Kumi pleaded, "I know why you became Ame-onna.  Give the baby to me and let me bring her home and I promise to take your place so that you can find peace.” 

Stepping toward her sister’s ghost, Kumi reached out and retrieved the infant from the arms of the otherworldly being before her.

“All those years ago when I heard the sudden heavy rain, I should have woken up to help save you, but I didn’t.  I was too tired, too exhausted from watching you suffer.  I needed to sleep, and I’m sorry, Mami, I’m so sorry.  Your overwhelming grief because of the loss of your unborn child made you what you are, but I’m here now.  I’m your sister; let me take your place.”


Carolyn Ragsdale searched the entirety of the dark Nu'uanu neighborhood but never found her grandmother.  It was as if she had suddenly vanished.  When she returned home, she found three police cars parked in her driveway and, upon entering her house, saw Herman surrounded by six police officers.  He had Meagan in his arms.  It turned out that Ba-chan returned with Meagan, handed her great-granddaughter to her father, and gave him a big hug and kiss before telling him that she was leaving immediately to visit her sister. 

The world was perfectly safe again but, in another day or two, Carolyn would find herself being interviewed by police.  Not just for her missing grandmother but also for her neighbor's missing child.