Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 9, 2016


It was a daring thing to meet in public but times were desperate and the phone call was very urgent. The place was a combination of a coffee shop, sushi eatery, and a smoothie joint. It was a place to see and be seen, business meetings were brokered and lovers and potential divorcees met there because, in love, it was exciting. In break-ups, it was in a public enough place that no one would try anything stupid. Otherwise, you could just sit there and nurse your coffee while you had sushi and finished off the moment with a strawberry smoothie. As Richard and I approached a table, we had already assembled a couple of drinks and a bit of food between us. For me it was a platter filled with a variety of sushi and an orange drink, for Richard it was a latte and a scone and his old leather bag which he carried with him everywhere. He placed the bag next to his left leg but forgot to cover it with the flap. We were two extreme opposites but we were born from the same fraternity, it was in that fraternity that we took a common oath of brotherhood. It was that path that brought us to the meeting in which we sat in a very public place. Words were not exchanged right away, instead, we began to partake of our drinks and food. At some point, we removed our rings and placed them in the middle of the table. It symbolized that only the truth would be spoken between the two of us.

“You don’t come up for air?” Richard asked as I began eating.

“Don’t criticize my eating habits and I won’t pick on your minimalist personality,” I replied.

“Less is more,” Richard always tried to make every moment a teachable one.

“Less is less, it’s never more unless there’s more,” I replied. “Otherwise, it’s less,”

“In any case, let’s get to the matter at hand,” he continued.

“I agree, what are we talking about?” I asked.

“Mendicants,” Richard stated.

“Mendicants?” This was confusing, even for Richard who was so meticulously anal.

“They’ve been hovering around the lodge lately, creating a scene and cursing people who won’t give alms, so to say,” Richard took a bite of his scone, which was followed by a sip of his latte. “We’ve been assigned to do something about it, clean it up as it were,”

“Clean it up?” I asked. “We can’t just call the cops and have them removed or at least put a restraining order on these beggars?

“Mendicants are transients, even if they were served, how could they possibly find the transportation to appear in a court of law? The directive has come from above that you and I are to rectify the situation.” Richard sat back and took everything in before he continued. “With prejudice, was the directive,”

“That’s a bit of overkill for a small group of mendicants, don’t you think?” I asked as I finished off my last kampyo maki.

“No matter the cause, we are obligated,” Richard reminded me.

We retrieved our rings and placed them on our fourth finger. Our meal and drinks were finished and we made our exit from the establishment in opposite directions.


Richard’s job was simple, he was to wait until the lunch hour the next day when people from the nearby buildings would pass our front doors as they were going to and from their break. The mendicants would take that opportunity to stop those innocent pedestrians and beg them for money to the point of assault. Richard would then open our front doors and invite the beggars in for a hearty meal and drinks. He was to let them have their fill until the point of gluttony. The food and drinks were poisoned and their death would be imminent within an hour of eating.


My job was then to bring the bodies upstairs to our ceremonial room where they would be prepared for the ritual of giving, consequently, our problem would be solved. That was the plan, but something caught my eye during my meeting with Richard. He is very meticulous in regards to the smallest detail, and for Richard, it is completely out of character for him to not cover his leather bag. Normally, his bag is belted and clicked, so why is it that today of all days, it's carelessly left open? The one thing that Richard is not, is cavalier. Was it meant for me to see the gun in his leather bag and two full clips next to it? I had to find out.

I caught up to him just as he was about to open the door to his Jaguar.

“What’s the gun for?” I asked him.

Richard jumped and let out a yell, “Dammit! Don’t do that!”

“What is the gun for Richard?” I asked him again.

“I can’t tell you, rather, I’m not supposed to,” Richard was stammering and perspiring at the same time.

“You mean we had our rings out on the table and you were lying?” I asked him.

When it became apparent that Richard wasn't going to respond, I gave him an uppercut to the gut. He threw up a combination of his latte and scone all over his slip on deck shoes. I caught him before he dropped to the pavement and pushed him over into the passenger's seat of his car. I tossed his leather bag into the opened garbage bin at the other end of the parking lot and removed his car keys from his pocket afterward. I turned the engine over and let the air conditioning run so that we wouldn’t have to spend the next few minutes sitting in a sweat box. I reached across his pitiful form and closed his door and then mine.

I gave him another quick shot to his floating rib just so that I could put an exclamation at the end of my question. It seemed to get the point across.

“What is the gun for Richard?!”

Barely able to breathe my fraternal brother struggled to catch his breath.

“It wasn’t meant to kill you, just to renew your sense of purpose in case you had a change of heart,” Richard moaned

“I’m having a change of heart right now,” I replied as I brought my knuckles into his knee cap. He howled in pain and doubled up into a fetal position with his head awkwardly pressed up against the door handle.

“Your problem Richard is that in your arrogance, you think that everyone else around you is stupid. This is too much effort for just a small group of mendicants, who could have easily been scared off through legal means. Tell me what the fuck is going on?”

I lifted his left arm and punched him in a sweet spot known as the funny bone. It was enough of a blow to cause excruciating pain, but not enough to break the arm at the joint. I had to keep the pain coming, I couldn’t let up and give him a moment to think. It was important to instill the genuine fear that I was going to kill him at any moment.

“It’s bigger than the both of us, I can’t tell you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you do to me. If we don’t follow the directive, what they’ll do is infinitely worse.” Richard was in tears now.

“This is a setup?” The fury was rising in my chest.

“Not if we perform the task that has been allotted us, that’s all we have to do and we’ll be fine,” He reassured me.

“And if I don’t do it?” I asked.

“There is no ‘IF” you fool! We HAVE to do it! If we don’t they’ll kill everyone we know, everyone,” Richard made sure that he spoke slowly. “Everyone,”

“How high up is this? Is it higher than our grand enclave?” I was pointed now.

“There are people in higher positions than those of our enclave! Do I have to spell it out? There’s a purpose that we are not aware of, but we have to do what we are told, there isn’t a choice,” Richard was finally regaining his composure. “If you don’t believe me, just look outside your home. There are cars parked there, that were not there before. It’s not random, it’s not someone who has stopped to deliver a text, it’s them. If you refuse, the men that are parked in those cars have been directed to kill your entire family in front you. Whatever they have planned for you, they will save it for last. They’ll keep you alive as long as possible but at some point, you will die and it will be painful.”

“How do you know all this?” I was scared but I couldn’t show it.

“ I was approached after enclave one night . I refused to do what they asked just as you did now, one night these strange men walked into my home and killed my dogs first and then my mother last. Don’t you see? I had no choice, and they chose you to help me so you haven’t any choice either. Just do as they ask and everything will be fine.” Richard urged.

“Alright,” I said as I leaned back and opened the driver's side door and got out. “If there are some strange cars parked on my street, I’ll know that what you say is true. If not, expect an unannounced visit from me,”


I left Richard to himself so that he could recover from the pain I inflicted on him. I couldn’t have gotten into my car any sooner but I had to be cautious as I turned up my street. Sure enough, there were two strange cars parked in front of my house. They were two old Lincoln Mark IV’s, they stuck out like a sore thumb on a street filled with Toyota Tacoma’s and Lexus sedans. Approaching the sidewalk which led to my front door, I entered my home cautiously. My wife was at work, the grandchildren were in school and our son and wife were at work as well.  However, I could see that we had company. They were sitting at the kitchen table; clean cut men in suits and ties. They were expecting me.

“Did he fall for it?” The first man asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“I don’t think that brutal force was necessary,” The second man interjected.

“I had to be convincing,” I replied. “I didn’t know of any other way,” I said. “Besides, who are the two of you to judge in terms of brutal force? After all, you killed his pets and his mother,”

“Well, I didn’t mean it in that context,” the second man began, but I cut him off.

“Please, think before you say anything,” I said as I shot him a look of disgust. “In any case, the empty lot next door to our lodge is set for construction. These mendicants will be perfect for the ritual use of our future building. We’ll bury their bodies under the four corners of the property and then we’ll have the giving ritual. It’s perfect. Richard will be buried under the front entrance since he is the descendant of the first grand high priest of our enclave, it is only fitting that he join his ancestors.”

“Great planning,” The first man was impressed.

“It’s the human ego, as long as you allow people to think that they are smarter and better than you are, it eventually becomes their own undoing,” I smiled. “All it took was a small group of mendicants,”

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