Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 6, 2016

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween! 54 Nights Left! "Ifoga"

It's a hell of a thing as a parent to survive your child. No parent should ever go through this because there are no words to describe the pain except that the only comparable equivalent is death itself. He's laying in his casket dressed in his best suit; it's the one he wanted me to get for him for his winter formal. It's the first time my sixteen-year-old son ever wanted to wear something other than his windbreaker jacket and favorite pair of black jeans. I couldn't even broach the subject of buying him different kinds of clothing; I may as well have asked him to let me drop him off in front of his school and give him a hug. I was clueless as to what suddenly caused this shift in his universe until his cell phone rang one afternoon. It was on the kitchen counter, and I had made the mistake of standing near it because he practically tackled me out of the way to get to it.

It was a girl.

He'd been my little boy for so long that the thought of him even growing into a young adult never crossed my mind. It escaped me somehow that he could have emotions and that he might even begin to think like an adult. However, nothing drove home that fact more than hearing his voice was changing while he spoke to this girl on the phone. That's when I left the room and found myself tearing up; we never had THE talk. An hour later and he was frantically shouting from the kitchen,

"Oh my god, Dad! Dad!"

I walked in calmly and replied, "What's up?"

"Dad, we have to go get me a suit right now! I have to wear a suit for the winter formal! Lisa said she'd go with me!" He was frantic.

"Wait, wait, wait," I was already confused. "Who is Lisa?"

"Dad, you weren't listening to me this morning in the car; she's the girl I like! She said, yes! She's going to the winter formal with me, and I need a suit!" It's the first time I'd seen him beside himself, he was turning red.

"Alright," I reassured him. "Let's go to the mall, and we'll have dinner after we get your suit,"

"Oh, thank god!" He sighed with relief. "Oh and dad, we have to get condoms too just in case,"

My eyes began to flutter, and my brain was about to explode; I could not fathom what I'd just heard. I do remember my voice became a high screech as I replied to Kai, "WHAT? How the hell do you know about condoms?"

"We learned about it in health class; it's called responsible sex," I nearly fainted.

"Wait a minute, they teach that in high school?" I was floored. So much for the TALK.


I remember that the mall was very crowded for a weekday; my son was still worried about the kind of suit he was going to wear, and on top of that, he wanted a hair cut. I remember trying to calm him down as we made our way through the busy parking lot by telling him that everything was going to be alright. There was really no need to panic. I remember seeing him look up for a second, and the next thing I knew, he screamed my name and pushed me so hard that I went tumbling to the pavement. I heard a sickening thud and then the sound of brakes screeching.

There was a huge blue suburban parked a few feet in front of me; the doors were open, and a Samoan family stood there screaming. The older man who I assumed was the husband walked slowly toward the main door of the mall. I was still dazed, but my eyes managed to follow the direction in which the man was headed. Just at the entrance is where I saw my son lying on the ground in an awkward position. I finally got to my feet and ran to him; I couldn't understand where all the blood came from. His eyes were open, but they weren't focused; it was like he wasn't even in his own body.

I put his arm around my shoulder and helped him up, but he went limp, he was dead weight in my hands. It was the smell that made me realize that he soiled himself, it was only then that the pieces came together. It was only then that I realized why my son pushed me to the ground; that was supposed to be me. I was supposed to be the one lying there in a pool of my own blood, urine, and excrement.

 I was supposed to be dead, not him.

I heard someone crying like a child, and when I turned around, it was the Samoan man; his wife and two boys cried along with him. He kept apologizing over and over, saying that he sped up to get a parking space, and he didn't even see us. He thought he'd actually hit me, but he was horrified to see that it was Kai. Why was I numb? Why couldn't I cry? I was holding Kai's dead body in my arms, why wasn't there any remorse? Why?

The remainder of the day was a blur; the police arrived and took everyone's statement. I'm not even sure about what I said, but I do know that I asked the EMT to double-check on Kai, to see if he was really gone. The authorities told me that the family kept apologizing, but I don't even remember that. I do know that I went home and sat in my bedroom for a long time; I must have spaced out because when I looked at the clock again, it was two-forty in the afternoon. I missed a whole day somehow. Twenty minutes later, I was parked in front of Kai's school, waiting for him to get out of class. Forty minutes later and he didn't show, I called his cell phone and there was no answer. It wasn't until I was walking down the corridor toward his last class of the day that it dawned on me that Kai was dead.

All I could do was laugh at myself for being so stupid, but I didn't cry.


Two weeks later and I'm leaving the house to finalize the funeral arrangements for my son. I notice two Samoan boys sitting in my yard; they look to be about Kai's age.

"What are you doing in my yard?" I asked.

"We're taking our father's place to ask for your forgiveness," the one boy said.

I was about to ask who their father was, but when I got a better look at the two of them, I realized who they were.

"Why can't he come himself?" There was something building inside me that was turning my stomach.

"He's in jail awaiting his sentence," the other boy said. "He doesn't know we're here,"

"Please take us in place of your son; if you can't forgive us, then please beat us, do whatever you like," the one boy offered.

The tears came unexpectedly, and I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up. It was almost like I was possessed because I was now moving without thinking; some black rage controlled my actions. I marched directly into Kai's room and retrieved his aluminum bat from his closet and returned to the front yard. I raised the bat over my head and found some kind of perverted satisfaction when I saw that the two boys were not offering any resistance. They'd meant what they said.

I took in a deep breath and mustered all the power I could to make sure that I split the first boy's head in two.

"Dad, don't," the voice shook me from the violent storm that churned my common sense. It was Kai, he stood between the two boys.

I ignored it because logic says that I'm hallucinating, so I went to swing the bat again, but Kai's voice was much louder this time, and it gave me a headache and stopped me cold.

"Dad, stop. It's no one's fault; their father is suffering too. How do you think he'll feel?" Kai asked.

"What about me, Kai? What about how I feel? I lost you! I lost you, and I'm lost! It's only fair! It's like revenge just walked right into my hands!" I shouted.

"No, dad. It's not revenge, it's a second chance, take it. If you do this, you'll never see me when your time comes," Kai's expression was stern at first, but then he gave me a look which told me that what he was saying was true.

 That's when I finally broke down and took the two boys in my arms and cried with them.

"I forgive you, go home and tell your mom and dad. I forgive you," I said.


Courtroom A on Alakea was standing room only as the Samoan man's family filled all the seats and stood up against the wall. The moment of truth came when the judge asked the father if he had any last words before he pronounced his sentence. You can imagine the shock of the courtroom when I interrupted and asked to be allowed to speak. Thankfully the judge gave me a nod.

"Your honor, the death of my son, was no one's fault. I do not hold this man responsible, it was happenstance. My son Kai pushed me out of the way so that I wouldn't be hit and killed, and yes, my heart is still broken, but I learned a lesson. I learned that making one father suffer will not relieve the suffering of the other. Please, do not send this man to jail, I am begging you. He is already in his own prison. Forgiveness is the only thing that will release him," I turned to the man and looked him in the eye. "I forgive you, it was not your fault. Please don't carry this guilt with you because I relieve you of it," I embraced him and whispered in his ear. "You have fine, honorable sons,"


Kai is so handsome in his suit and tie, and all of his friends are here to remember him. His family has prepared all the food and decorations, and his grandparents paid for everything. No parent should have to outlive their child, this is true. But no parent ever had a child-like Kai and the two boys who came to ask for forgiveness in place of their father.

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