Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 15, 2016

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween! 76 Nights Left!

Ruby was what we called a, “Calabash Aunt” and during my childhood she was a part of our family for a time. Her boyfriend was an up and coming local surfer named K.K. who surfed the big waves at Makaha and Waimea. He was at home whenever he was on a surfboard and he always wore a natural smile. He was a really cool guy who had a real talent for drawing robots. Whenever he would visit our little house on Kaukamana Street he always had time to scribble down a drawing of a very cool mechanical humanoid for me on any piece of paper he could find. I kept every single one he ever sent me. One evening he and Ruby showed up to our house in a very somber mood; by the looks of Ruby herself it was obvious that she’d been crying. It turned out that K.K.’s number came up and he was drafted into the Vietnam war; his orders stated that he was to leave immediately for Camp Pendleton.

Care packages were sent to K.K. while he was in boot camp and letters would come home to our house addressed to Ruby. K.K. always included a piece of paper with a robot drawing on it. Ruby was able to fly up to San Diego and attend K.K.’s graduation from boot camp. She only had a day and night to spend with him before he shipped off to South Vietnam as part of the 1st battalion, 4th marines. It was a while before we saw K.K. but when he did return home he didn’t have a smile like he used to. His face was hard and stern and his eyes were shallow and his gaze looked as if there was some kind of movie going on behind his eyes, but it wasn’t a nice fun movie. I remember standing in front of him and looking at him for a long time; he looked right back at me but it was obvious that he didn’t see me. He was somewhere else.

A second later, his eyes focused and he was back and I saw the recognition in his eyes.

“Ehhhhh you! Howzit! How you?” He tried to smile.

He opened his arms to me and as I stepped forward he grabbed me and sat me on his lap. Without pause he reached into his coat pocket and removed a pen and grabbed the sleeve of my shirt where he began to sketch out a robot.

“Howz that? Cool huh?” He tried to smile again.

Looking at what he drew on my sleeve I could see that it was a very different kind of robot from the ones he used to draw. It held a rifle in it’s arms and it’s facial expression was no longer bland but filled with fury and anger. It looked scary. K.K. was scary too because his smile wasn’t the same; it seemed like it was painful for him to smile, through that smile it seemed like K.K. was going to cry at any moment.

While he was home he’d spent all of his time surfing from sunrise to sunset; all of my hanai brothers and sisters would go with him and they’d spend the day with him and Ruby.

“He get plenty nightmares,” Ruby confided in my hanai sister Kathy.

“What kind nightmares?” Kathy asked.

“From the war, he said he saw his friends get blown up by one grenade and he seen one small boy get shot. He said he see ‘um every time he fall asleep,” Ruby shared.

The time came when K.K. went back to the war; I remember Ruby asking him if he was going to marry her before he left. He reassured her that they would marry once he got back, only he never did come back. Not alive anyway.

Needless to say that his services were very sad and Ruby was beyond heartbroken. On any day afterwards you could find her sitting on the hood of her Corvair at Makaha beach just watching the waves and crying. She sat there from sunrise to sunset and she drowned herself in her own grief. As the summer months approached it became especially hot and on one mid day when the sun sat directly over head, Ruby ran into to surf to cool off. She knew these waters well and she was a strong swimmer; what she didn’t see was a lone surfer coming over the top of a wave as he shot in to a quickly folding barrel. By the time Ruby saw him and he saw her, it was too late. There was no way to avoid the imminent collision, all she could do was close her eyes and brace herself. The next thing she knew, a pair of hands grabbed her by the ankles and pulled her under and swiftly dragged her to shore. She was choking on the water and sand that she’d inhaled and could only make out the shadow of whoever it was that saved her from being hurt badly, but she did hear that person tell her something.

“Don’t you know you’re hapai? Stop spending all your time at the beach, go home and take care of our baby,”

It was K.K.’s voice.

When her vision finally cleared she saw a bunch of people around her asking if she was alright? That’s when she began to ask if anyone had seen who it was that rescued her; no one would answer. She pressed them further with the same question until finally someone sheepishly admitted that it was K.K. They’d all seen him bring her up the sand and admonish her over something, after that he jumped back into the water and disappeared.

Ruby said nothing to her family or mine about what happened, but after going to see a doctor in town it was confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. A short time later a few of Ruby’s friends and my hanai sister Kathy showed up at Ruby’s house to tell her about something very strange. People they knew who hung out at Makaha beach claimed that they’d seen K.K. as well; mostly surfing the bigger waves. But more often than not, he appeared out of nowhere to rescue a surfer or swimmer who’d gotten into trouble in the water. Afterwards, he’d disappear into the surf and no one would see him until the next time someone needed help. All these years later whenever I take my ghost tour out to Wai’anae in the evening and we are passing Makaha beach, I always wonder if K.K. is out there somewhere still helping people and saving a life? I can’t say for sure, but I do know that I often find myself struck with the urge to draw a robot on a random piece of paper as the motor coach quietly lumbers past that famous location.

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