Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 7, 2016

Detective Yuen

It was a dark and stormy night in the tropics.... private detective Yuen perspired in his white suit and Panama hat in spite of the cool winds spiriting in from the ocean. His holstered 38 special was alive and warm and waiting to be unsheathed and given an excuse to breathe fire from its barrel. It would soon get its wish if the detective could just keep up. Perhaps he purposely slowed his pace because it was one of his own that he pursued? The person in question was a junior member of the Chinese Acacia club who had fallen into debt with one of the local Tongs. His parents tried in vain to pay off their son's marker but the Tong were not interested; they wanted blood. In a desperate attempt to gather the money he owed, the young man held up a taxi driver and as a result of overactive nerves he shot the poor man in the face and killed him instantly. He’d been on the run since then. The taxi driver was the brother of detective Yuen who now pursued the young gambler as he foolishly trekked within the walls of an abandoned Hawaiian temple of human sacrifice. Maybe that's what also slowed the pace of old detective Yuen as well? Although not a superstition man by any means, he knew well enough not to disrespect the old Hawaiian ways. He decided to wait without the walls of the mighty temple being that there was only one way in and one way out, besides, no one in their right mind would even think about scaling the handset stone walls of the structure, let alone hide in the place. That was suicide. Sure the Haoles put it off as old pagan superstitions from a bygone era, but Yuen had seen enough in his time to know that the psychic imprint that the old Hawaiian religion made on these islands was not going to go away anytime soon. The young man hid in an old tattered hut that was once made of Pili grass, but time had withered the structure down to nothing but its wooden frame. When the old kapu system was overthrown and most of the pagan images were burned and the walls toppled over; this temple was one that was left alone. Many of the old Hawaiians said that the structure and the mana that was imbued into it was much too powerful an edifice to destroy. So, it was simply left abandoned. Late at night drums could be heard from within its confines; torch lights could be seen and tortured screams pierced the night. Those who were foolish enough to venture close in order to ascertain where the alarming noises came from would see nothing but the pitched black. However, the cacophony of morbid voices could still be heard until it crashed into a crescendo and then fell into a horrifying silence. That silence was never a welcomed relief, it was only the calm before the storm. Desperation moved the young gambler to conceal himself within the ancient structure; never once taking into account that he toppled a portion of an old stone altar as he stumbled about blindly in the dark. Detective Yuen knew what the end result might be once the sun awoke from the east but he didn’t have the entire night to wait. He’d spent a long career as a private detective and because of that he never found the time to marry and have children. Sure, there were possibilities here and there but the length of time he’d spent in between relationships made him realize that he was perhaps meant to be alone. Yuen’s father had been good friends with a Honolulu Police detective named Chang Apana, who once gave the young boy a demonstration as to how he used his black snake bullwhip to capture criminals. Rather than be fascinated, the young Yuen was afraid of the raw ferocity of the weapon and what it could do. 
“Go school, be akamai so your mind can be da bullwhip too,” Chang Apana told him.
Here he was thirty-three years later being ‘Akamai’.
“Bennett?” Yuen called out.
“Yeah?” The voice returned with no reverberation, it had a dull tone to it which sent shivers down Yuen’s spine; but he was the bullwhip as always.
“Let’s talk,” Yuen offered.
“About what? You taking me to the station? I shot and killed your brother, so If I go with you I don’t expect to make it to station alive or at all,” Bennett answered.
“I don’t want to take you in, I just wanna talk,” Yuen said.
Tears filled Bennett’s eyes as he pictured the face of the taxi driver being obliterated by the single bullet that penetrated the space between his eyebrows, “I didn’t know he was your brother, Yuen. I swear I didn’t know,”
As the excitement of the chase began to wear out, Bennett felt something warm covering his pockets and then his thigh. He felt it and it was wet; when the metallic smell filled his nostrils he realized it was his own blood. Looking for the source of the bleeding he found a bullet hole had penetrated the back of his shirt and that it was lodged in his side.
“Yuen, you shot me!” Bennett yelled back in complete surprise.
“Yeah, that’s why you have to come outta there,” the detective replied.
“Oh yeah right because it’s haunted! Nice try Yuen,” Bennett shouted.
“It’s not haunted,” Yuen was matter of fact now, “whatever’s there just continued on after it died, it never stopped,”
“Sure of course,” Bennett laughed, “but I’m not worried, I have my Chinese ancestors to protect me!”
“Not in there you don’t,” Yuen’s tone was almost fatalistic and it began to cause Bennett some concern.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Bennett returned.
“I’m pretty sure I shot you in the liver; you’re bleeding to death Bennett so I suggest you come out of there,” Yuen instructed.
“I’m dead either way; you, the police, the Tongs. I’m better off in here,” Bennett sighed. “At least I won’t be a burden to my folks anymore,”
“If you don’t come outta there, you’ll never leave,” Yuen’s voice sounded as if he’d already given up the fight. “It’s not the kinda place where you wanna die, believe me,”
Yuen’s mumbo jumbo drivel about the heiau being haunted made the detective look immature and childish in Bennett’s mind. Was that all he was capable of in order to try and negotiate him out of the ancient structure? He certainly was not a Chang Apana; Chang Apana wouldn’t have wasted any time with small talk. He would have jumped in and taken his man in, heiau or no heiau. So why not Yuen? Why was he just sitting outside waiting? He couldn’t have been more than ten feet away?
Detective Yuen didn’t look surprised at all when he saw Bennett standing at the entrance of the old sacrificial temple. There was a look of deep sadness and regret as Yuen shook his head and slowly stood on his feet.
“You should look happy Yuen; here I am,” Bennett said as he held his hands out to be handcuffed. The detective didn’t make a move, he just put his head down as if he were going to cry. “What’s the matter? Don’t tell me you had a change of heart?”
“I can’t take you in Bennett,” Yuen’s eyes were tired as if the weight of some kind of truth had taken a toll on him.
“Why not?” Bennett asked.
“Go back to where you were hiding; you’ll see,” Detective Yuen turned and walked down the old dirt path that led away from the heiau without saying a word. Bennett kept calling after him but Yuen paid him no mind, he continued walking until his form disappeared into the night. It wasn’t until Bennett tried to chase after Yuen that he understood what the detective meant; he was right. He couldn’t leave. Every attempt he made to exit the stone structure brought him right back to where he stood in the first place. Bennett tried time and time again and again but to no avail; he would only find himself at the entrance of the heiau. Out of desperation, he ran back to where he had originally been only to be horrified by the sight of his own dead corporeal form lying lifeless in a pool of blood and dirt. It would have been pointless to scream because no one would be able to hear him, but scream he did.
Again and again.

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