Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 27, 2016

95 Nights 'til Halloween!, "Charmarita"

For a young woman whose blood is filled with the want of a late-night romance by being serenaded with sweet and tender music, this night would have been perfect. The notes from a guitar emanate from beneath the branches of the mango tree in my front yard as a beautiful male tenor voice sings of love, promise, and fate. The rise and fall of his instruments yearn for the young woman to come out and sit with him so that he can serenade her into the late hours of the night. The setting is perfect, the dark clouds in the night sky hover ever so closely to the moon, careful to not block out its light. The wind is soothing to the skin but not so cold that one would freeze in its embrace. The only sadness is that in my home, there is no young woman to beckon to this man’s presence. There is only me, my wife, our children, and our grandchildren. The man appears each night for the month of July at exactly midnight. He serenades sweetly in Portuguese; being raised by a Portuguese Catholic family myself, I know the language. The man is not young, he is weather worn with lines and wrinkles on his face and looks as if he has survived more than one bar fight in his time. His white hair compliments his features rather than enhances his age, but his voice is the contrast to his appearance. It is the vestige that makes the reality of his looks fade away. It is his saving grace. The light of the moon makes him transparent as the clouds above, he is an apparition belonging to an earlier time. The object of his affection, the woman that he hopes will return his love, is more than likely a part of that bygone time as well. He is locked in that moment of pure bliss as he sings from the very depth of his heart and soul.

The next day our neighbor across the street informs us that years ago, near the end of 1913, a man was seen for several nights during the summer months strumming a guitar from beneath our Mango tree, serenading a beautiful Portuguese girl who once lived where our home stands now. The man was much older than the girl, but his emotions were afire, and he hoped to win her affection; the father of the girl was not at all happy about the man’s intentions. One night, the girl's father hiding near the mango tree, awaited the suitors' arrival. Before the older man could offer his romantic serenade, the young girl’s father stabbed the man in the heart, killing him instantly. What was done with the suitor's body was never known. However, the young Portuguese girl waited for several nights for her suitor's return, but he never appeared again. The month of July is near its close, and the ghostly lyrics of the Charmarita will fade into the dark night until the beautiful male tenor voice returns again next year.

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