Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 21, 2016

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down Toward Halloween! 70 Nights Left! "Percival"

 I am sitting in front of my laptop and I can hear the high musical strains of a Les Paul guitar as it screams out the arpeggio-like chords for, “Sweet Child ‘O Mine,” The neighbor from across the street has the volume up high on his car stereo system and is completely oblivious to everything and everyone else around him. Oblivious thoughts and a disregard for everything and everyone within a radius of a mile causes me to reflect on the personality of my mother’s late boyfriend, Percival Ching. Upon meeting him for the first time, Percival will immediately insist that you address him as such. However, should you err and regard him by the name, “Percy” his pleasant demeanor will quickly escalate from affable to asshole.

It was 1999 and I remember sitting in my room eating green olives and saltine crackers. My homework was done and I’d just turned the TV on and caught the tail end of “Genie In A Bottle” on MTV. That music video transitioned seamlessly to “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” and almost without fail the arguing began in the kitchen. With all that my mother shouldered as a partner at her law firm, with all the clients and deadlines that occupied most of her time, she was never late in coming home to prepare dinner. I could hear Percy’s loud obnoxious voice accusing my mother of not really working late but that she was actually spending more time than was necessary with Goss Jeffries, the head of the firm. In my mind, I kept repeating to myself,

“Please Mom, please don’t plead your case, please don’t plead your case!”

In the brief time that my mother and Percy were together, I was able at my young age to notice a pattern where the fights were concerned. The stirrings began the moment that I’d return home from a day at school.  Percy was always on the phone and his conversations were filled with laughter and cooing as if he were speaking with someone who meant more to him than just a friend. However, Percy’s phone conversations with my mother were very different; they were short, abrupt and demeaning. He treated her as if she were a burden on his mind and conscious and only displayed any measure of affection toward her when he was in need of something or trying to press his will upon her.

The sound of my mother’s car pulling up into our garage would bring the heated water of Percy’s anger to a slow boil; there were no greetings or sincere queries as to the events of her day. There was only sarcasm and belittling remarks and eventually the accusations of infidelity. Tonight, Percy shoves her and pulls her hair while she cuts the cucumbers in preparation for the salad. I can hear her ask him not hit her this time because she has to return to the firm in order to finish reading through a very lengthy deposition; he hits her anyway. That is when the third part of the pattern took place; it’s the sound of someone drawing in a short quick breath from behind me as if they were suddenly startled by something unexpected. My natural inclination leads me to look in the direction of the sound and there she is yet again.

The ghost of the murdered woman laying on my bed.

She is breathing but it’s as if she is fighting for air, her hands are reaching up into the nothingness. She is scratching, clawing and punching in some sort of mimed last ditch effort to live." Sweet Child ‘O Mine" reaches it’s screeching guitar solo as the apparition desperately kicks her feet out again and again. The struggle appears to be pointless but she tries. There is a bold determination in her eyes that says she is going to come out of this in one piece and that she will be able to return home that same day and change the pattern of her life and live into the extremities of old age, but her form stiffens without warning and slowly relaxes with a sad resignation. The light slowly dims from her eyes and her gaze resumes its empty stare. Blood seeps out from just below the waistband of her white skirt and slowly turns red. The ghost of the murdered woman struggles to live and dies, my mother struggles to maintain her dignity and is beaten for it. She does not even dare to come into my room to check on me because she knows that Percy will follow her and beat me as well, so she keeps it in and takes it all on herself.

The sounds of my mother being beaten by her boyfriend did not paralyze me with as much fear as did the ghost of the woman who lay next to me in my bed. Only minutes after I fell asleep would her lifeless form materialize in the same manner; prone, flat and positioned in a macabre tableau. Her eyes were open but they lacked the focus or purpose of a living person; the rest of her was a tangled mess of hair and blood from the waist down. Why her manifestation chose to make itself known to me was not a question that a ten year old boy asks himself when confronted with something that literally paralyzes him with fear. What I can tell you, however, is that within the first few months of our moving in with my mother’s boyfriend, Percy Ching, the woman’s ghost appeared with such frequency that I began to sleep at the foot of my bedroom door.

I don’t want my mother to be like the ghost that lays bloody and murdered on my bed but I don’t know what to do or who to tell.


 My mother used to be a part of the stoner/surfer crowd in high school which consisted of all the well to do local Chinese kids who came from old money. She was a 4.0 student as were the crowd of kids that she hung out with; they just happened to love surfing and getting stoned. A lot of the old surfing spots were crowded with too many wannabees and more troublemakers than usual. Hardly anyone was a soul surfer anymore and so she ended up at a place called, “Point Panic”

It took a while for her to get a feel for the place but within a month she was surfing point panic like she’d always been there. One late afternoon after work my mother decided to catch a couple of swells before she headed home. She hadn’t noticed that she and someone else had caught the same wave at the same time; fortunately, she caught sight of the incoming surfer at the very last second and managed to fall flat on her board. She didn’t realize how close she’d come to being decapitated; whoever that person was, he just pulled his board in and paddled out to catch another wave.

No apology whatsoever.

My mother was pissed. She paddled over to him and started to call him every name in the book, all the guy did was give her a goofy smile while simultaneously feigning complete ignorance.

“Sorry, are you okay?” He asked.

“I’m fine,” my mother huffed. “Just watch out next time!”

A short time later my mother was loading her surfboard into her SUV when the guy she’d chastised earlier walked over to her and apologized again.

“I left my wallet at home, otherwise I’d take you somewhere to eat as my way of being sorry. I do have some shoyu poke with inamona and some two-day old poi if you want? Get soda in my cooler too if you like?” He offered.

“It’s okay,” my mother was trying to shoe this guy away. “You don’t have to do that,”

“I’m not tryna get fresh or anything, I just didn’t realize how stupid I was and I do feel bad. I got some fried chicken too, I made it myself. Oh and I’m Percival Ching, that’s my name on the side of my car there,” he pointed.

“Oh,” my mother looked over his shoulder and saw the simple magnetic sign on the side of his VW Van.

“I’ll make your plate for you, I have rice too. You want some rice?” He offered.

“Uh, sure okay. If you show me where everything is I can make my own plate,” she insisted.

“No, no, no, you’re my guest. Please, let me do this,” he said.

Before my mother knew it, she had a nice plate of food in her hands and a cold drink to go with it.

“Sorry,” Percival began, “I only have Pepsi. I hope that’s alright?”

“Oh no, that’s fine,” my mother waved him off. Her initial thought was to finish her food and leave but the more Percival talked to her the more he was able to put her at ease. My mother found herself sharing more about her life to this complete stranger than she had done with her close personal friends.

“The poi is from Kahalu’u; a friend of mine makes his own. The poke, inamona and chicken is mine,” Percival said. Gesturing behind him to his VW Van, Percival continued, “All those boards I shaped myself, a piece of my soul is in each of those boards so when I teach surfing to clients, they don’t realize that they’re taking a part of me with them. Just like what you did just now; you don’t know me and I don’t know my clients except for that small amount of time I spend teaching them. You shared a part of yourself with me; a guy who nearly killed you with his surfboard. Do you know what that would have done to my karma if I had accidentally killed you with my surfboard? That would have made my soul worthless and black,” Percival offered. “I’m really sorry for what happened, I really am,”

By the time their humble evening meal was over my mother found herself in Percy’s arms in the middle of the empty Kaka’ako parking lot. Nearly a month had passed before she was finally ready to bring Percy home and introduce him to me. His outward appearance didn’t match his occupation; for a surf instructor he was too well dressed and too well manicured. He drove one of those large oversized Chevy Suburbans that was too clean and too detailed. He made it a point to buckle me in himself because as he said, “Once you learn how to buckle yourself in without touching the buckle, then you can do it,”

My mother said nothing.

At dinner, he kept telling me how to sit and how to eat and which fork to use and where my drink should be placed on the table. Whenever he and I made eye contact, I could see that I was looking at the real Percy Ching. He hated me, and I hated him right back. His acts of kindness were just a show in the beginning; I knew that I hadn’t really seen the real Percival Ching just yet. I only wished my mother had known.


So here I am in Percy Ching’s home and of course my mother finds out way after the fact that Percy has given that same speech about his soul in his surfboard to every woman he’s ever taught a surfing lesson to, while at the same time sharing a meal with them that was made by his humble hands. The only thing Percy had any skill in making was a peanut butter sandwich. Needless to say he’s had many girlfriends on the side, sometimes right under my mother’s nose. What hurts is that I knew that my mother was perfectly aware of Percy’s infidelity but she always turned a blind eye to it. She was stronger than that, I’ve seen be stronger than that. In court she was fierce and unrepentant but the second she walked in the door of Percy’s home, she became a meek little mouse.
It was one of those nights when I had my headphones on and I was listening to Jimmy Hendrix shred through, “Foxy Lady”

“ I wanna take you home, yeah
I won't do you no harm
You've got to be all mine, all mine
ooh Foxy Lady
Foxy, Foxy “

Because I had my earphones on, I didn’t hear Percy open the door to tell me that dinner was ready. I was too busy being horrified by the site of the ghost of the murdered woman on my bed, without evening thinking I asked, “Who did this to you?”

The apparition point toward me but just off to my left; that’s when I noticed Percy in my peripheral vision; I jumped when I saw him there. He was horrified at first but a second later he pulled me by my hair and spun me around. The next thing I knew I was sprawled out on the kitchen floor. Even before he could hit me, I Immediately jumped to my feet and grabbed a kitchen knife and swung it out in front of me. I cut Percy right through his shirt just below his sternum. I’d had enough.

“C’mon you mother fucker!” I screamed at him, “c’mon so I can fuckin’ kill you!”

I had no idea that my mother had been in the kitchen the whole time; only after she screamed at us to stop did she start asking about what was going on.

“Tell her, tell her what you saw,” I hissed through my teeth at Percy. I carefully circled over to where my mother was standing and positioned myself in front of her.

“Fuck you,” Percy said as he grabbed his car keys and jacket and stormed out of the house. The second I heard his car drive off I immediately told my mother to pack only what she needed and that we had to leave the house.

“When he gets back he’s gonna kill us,” I told her. “I’ll tell you later but we have to leave right now!”

I guess she saw the look on my face because she did exactly as I said and the next thing I knew, we were on the road. I told her to take another route out of our neighborhood in case Percy was waiting somewhere to follow us. Luckily, he was nowhere to be found. In fact, he completely dropped out of sight. He wasn’t even at the house when we returned later that week to gather all of our things so that we could move out completely. The police and her friends at work convinced her to file a restraining order but strangely enough, Percy never showed up to bother either one of us. He never called or anything. His surfing school number was filled to capacity with voice messages and no one had seen his car anywhere.

Two months later, my mom and I decided to go surfing at In-Betweens. Thanks to a recent storm the waves were amazing and she and I were out there for most of the day. A miracle occurred in the later part of the afternoon when a long barrel came out of nowhere and my mom and I happened to catch it at the same time. She was right behind me and we were screaming and yelling with excitement; I had my fist raised in the air and I just couldn’t stop laughing, I was so happy. When I looked back at her I saw Percy come into the barrel right above her; luckily my mother noticed the look of terror on my face and turned around just in time to see Percy coming toward her with a diving knife. He missed her by inches just as she jumped off of her board but now he was coming after me. I was still new at surfing so I wasn’t completely sure as to what I should do to get away from Percy. He dropped below and came back up toward me swinging and stabbing at me the whole time. The blade pierced my shoulder on the his first pass and it got me just below my floating rib on the second. My adrenalin was pumping now, I knew I couldn’t jump off the board and swim away. He’d find me and finish me off for sure. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion and all I could feel was the urgency to get to shore but I wasn’t that good. Everything my mom had taught me so far went right out of my brain, I couldn’t think. Percy dropped low one more time and as he came up he was headed straight toward me with the knife pointing right at my heart. I was done, I was going to die. All of a sudden a massive dark shadow appeared beneath the wave right between us and shot up out of the water as if the power of the swell was nothing but air.

It was a shark.

It grabbed Percy in its jaws and bit him in two pieces. It happened so suddenly that the look on Percy’s face told me that he didn’t even realize that he’d just been killed. The shark disappeared with his improvised meal beneath the waves and we saw neither the creature or the shark again.
I told my mom about the ghost of the murdered woman who appeared on my bed and about my fear of saying anything. I had no idea who the ghost was and why she was there until she pointed at Percy. Percy himself had been following us the whole time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
My mom was connected to friends who worked in law enforcement and was able to investigate Percy’s house. Not to our surprise, a young woman’s body was found buried beneath the floorboards of my room. She was the previous victim before he zeroed in on my mother. This poor young woman figured Percy out and when that happened he killed her by cutting her open just beneath her belly button. She bled out as she was fighting for her life but her struggle to live as Percy choked her, only caused her to bleed out faster.


Mom was not only able to find out the name of the young woman that Percy killed, but she was also able to find out where she was buried. Her name was Belinda Wong and her final resting place was at the Chinese cemetery in Manoa. With the help of the caretaker, Mom and I paid a visit to Belinda’s grave a few days later and offered prayers and incense for her repose. Belinda’s ghost opened the door for us so that we could escape the clutches of Percy Ching. She gave my mother the freedom she deserved but it didn’t explain why a shark suddenly appeared out of nowhere and saved my life?

A month after my mom and I were living in our own place, she told me something very interesting. She said that long before I was born, my father told her that since she’d married into his family that his ancestors were hers, and that his ‘aumakua, his protective spiritual guardians were hers too and that no harm would come to her or their children should they ever have kids. It turns out that my father’s ‘aumakua was a shark, but not just any shark but Kamohoali’i. The king of sharks.
“I saw what happened,” she told me. “I saw that shark and that’s when I remembered what your father told me. I think that shark was your ‘aumakua,”

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