Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 15, 2016

"Old Man Take A Look At My Life"

Every morning like clockwork, these three elderly gentlemen gather at an outside table at the golden arches where they sip coffee for what seems like hours. Save for the few smiles, giggles, and an occasional look of melancholy, they don't say a word. There are no conversations whatsoever, and when it's time to leave, they never exchange goodbyes between them, they just get up and go.
Today the oldest looking one among the three arrives early, he hobbles into the restaurant and returns with his hot cup of coffee, and takes his usual seat. One sip and he eases back into the stiff chair and lets out a sigh, he takes in the morning air and eyes the few other patrons who are seated at their tables nearby. A crop duster plane high above briefly captures his attention as does the screeching brakes of a city bus. Otherwise, he is in his own world. Curiosity motivates me to walk over to his table and introduce myself; as I approach, I can see that his eyes are distant, which more than likely means that he is caught in some old bygone memory from long ago. He probably doesn't even know where he is at this point, I am right up and close enough to him to extend my hand in greetings,

"We're not war veterans," he says in a voice that seems as distant as his youth.

"I'm sorry?" I reply a little startled because that's exactly what I was going to ask him.

"You were going to introduce yourself and ask me if my friends and myself who sit here every morning are war veterans? We're not, so there's your answer. Now you can save yourself the introduction and go back to your table," the old man said.

"How'd you know I was gonna say that?" I squealed like a teenage girl now.

"Young man, go away. Go back to your table and keep your observations to yourself." He didn't raise his voice or yell, his delivery was even, but there was something about the way he put his words together that made me afraid for no other reason than the fact that this aged old man now radiated a wave of threatening anger.

"Henry, that's no way to talk to someone who's just trying to be friendly," the voice came from behind me.

 It was the second of the three who always arrived not too long after the first. "No mind Henry, he's mostly angry because he can't get it up anymore," the old gentleman extended his hand and introduced himself, "I'm Boyd, that bastion of sunshine sitting there is Henry. Have a seat, we don't usually have company, but I think it might be a nice change of pace, what do you think Henry?"

"I think he should mind his own business and fuck off, that's what I think," Henry answered.

Shaking his head in disgust, Boyd pulled back the chair opposite from Henry and offered me a seat.

"If you haven't already figured it out, Henry is our alpha male. He'll beat his chest and bellow and dare you to look into his eyes, big ape," Boyd smiled. "Travis, I'm about to go in and get myself a cup of coffee, can I get you something?"

"Oh no," I replied, "I'm fine, I already have a cup of soda."

"Alright," Boyd said. "You keep big John Henry company, and I'll be right back."

Henry shot Boyd the middle finger in return.

"Wait," I said suddenly, "how did you know my name?"

"You told me your name when we exchanged introductions," Boyd replied.

"No," I said, "I never introduced myself."

"Of course you did, Travis," Boyd stepped closer to me. His smile wasn't a smile as much as it was a kind of interrogation. "You told me everything about yourself; you live on 8th avenue. You hate your job because what you really want is to finish school to get your degree, but your wife won't let you because all she cares about is money, but no matter what you do, it's not good enough for her, ever. Why you're also certain that she doesn't love you and you don't understand why she stays, but you're afraid to ask..."

His voice was in my head, and it made me dizzy. I couldn't think my own thoughts.

"Get out of his head Boyd," there was another voice from behind me, but a welcomed one. It brought me out of that temporary hypnotic trance that I was in.

"I'm Murphy, let me take you back to your table," the old man said, "you got your sea legs? Can you walk?"

"Yeah," I said weakly. "I think I can make it."

Murphy got me to my table and waited until I was seated before he sat next to me. I was covered in sweat, and I couldn't keep my head up, my hands were shaking at the same time, and I began to shiver.

"It's alright, what you're feeling will pass, and you'll be fine," Murphy said.

"What the hell just happened?" I groaned.

"You should have listened to Henry and just minded your own business, Boyd saw that you were making Henry uncomfortable, so Boyd set you up by being his usual hospitable self. When your guard was down, Boyd got in your head." Murphy said. Looking at my cup of soda in front of me, I went to grab it to take a sip,

"Here," Murphy offered, "I'll get that."

My soda cup moved right into my hands all by itself.

Patting me on the shoulder, Murphy continued, "We know that you've been curious about the three of us, but it would be better if you just kept your thoughts to yourself; show us old guys some respect."

The old man went back to join his friends while I sat there with my head down, waiting for this horrible feeling to go away. Finally, I was able to look up after what seemed to be an eternity. The morning was over, and it was now later in the afternoon, the three elderly gentlemen were sitting there with their coffees still piping hot, the little stir sticks circling around in the cup on their own. Not a word passed between the three of them as they turned their heads in my direction and nodded, with that, they returned to their cabal of silence and sipping coffee.

I stumbled my way back home, and on the following morning, I decided to have my morning soda at the restaurant up the street. Wouldn't you know it? The place is full of old people sipping on coffee and not saying one damned word to one another.


John Henry Panui telepathically projected the memory of his home on Kaua'i into the minds of his friends Boyd Ahakuelo and Murphy Kalihiwai. The two old men smiled and hummed to themselves with satisfaction as John Henry's memory took them through his former home, where Hawaiian sweet potatoes were being fried up in the cast iron skillet on the old stove. Outside, hanging in the garage were strips of pipikaula or beef, the three old gentlemen inhaled at the same time, and their chests swelled as the alluring smell filled them with the wonder that there was ever something that delectable that caused a person to salivate so much. John Henry's trek filled Boyd and Murphy's mind with sitting at his old dinner table where his family ate from a bowl filled with freshly pounded poi, it's texture was even and had a faint purple color to it. The taste was sweet and seemed to complement the other foods that sat on the table; plump 'opihi, kalua pork, roasted chicken, grilled kala, boiled taro leaf with pa'akai on the side for seasoning.

"Henry, we're getting full," Boyd's thoughts interrupted the telepathic feast.

"Speak for yourself," Murphy thought, "what else get, Henry?"

Henry gave them the image of the dessert that followed, homemade 'uala pie with the 'uala on top and a layer of haupia filling just below.

"No, can dis one, my diabetes goin' start acting up again; I almost sorry I asked!" Murphy's thoughts made Henry smile as Boyd himself began to giggle. The telepathic image was gone, and everyone was back sitting at their table at the golden arches.

"Murphy," Henry projected, "sometimes you forget that these are just images I'm sending you. You can't get diabetes from thoughts."

"Look who's talking," Boyd interjected, "you forget who we are."

"I know who we are," Henry thought back, "I'm just telling him. Forgive me for not being the damned scholar that you are!"

"Oh shut up, John Henry! You're really insufferable!" Boyd grimaced as his thoughts shot back.

"Alright, alright!" Murphy's thoughts shot out like shards of glass. It made Henry and Boyd jump slightly but not enough to spill their coffee. "We can't help what we are because what we are has been passed down through our DNA from generation to generation. That's just how it is, and you know it! Henry? It's time for you to stop being bitter. It's been fifty years already, and you're still carrying a grudge. You're mad because you let love cloud your gift, and it prevented you from seeing that your wife was sleeping with another man. Build a bridge and get the hell over it, John Henry Panui, so that you can stop being such a grouchy bastard! There, I said it!"

"Over there, near the door," Henry's thoughts were down to a whisper. "That homeless kid sipping on his drink sitting on his bicycle, he's looking this way. He's thinking about bum-rushing us and taking our wallets. He's coming down from a high, and he's gonna start having withdrawals soon, he's bone dry on cash."

"That little shit is thinking about jumping me first," Boyd shook his head as he shared his thought with Henry and Murphy.

"He's thinking about cuffing Henry and me after and then emptying out our wallets," Murphy's brow furrowed as he shared his insight with the other two.

"Eff him," Henry's telepathic bravado made Boyd and Murphy giggle, "Murphy, you flatten his tires, and I'll get the traffic signal. Boyd, get in his head, real deep."

Tony Kelly was once the pride of the university. He was a candidate for his doctorate In American history. One night, he was invited to a beach party that lasted the entire weekend. Someone handed Tony a crack pipe at that party, and that was the beginning of the end. At the end of the year, Tony was kicked out of school, and he lost his scholarship, by the following year he was homeless on the streets. His main activity was robbing the elderly and taking their money, now he eyed the three elderly gentlemen as if they were sheep and he was the wolf. Their routine was always the same, and it never changed. He also noticed that other people gathered sporadically at the same tables but were probably not apt to do anything should he assault the three old men. Today was that day, he had to be quick and brutal in his attack. Brutality always shocked people and numbed their tendency to react and help, that's what Tony still depended on to make his plan work.

He tossed his drink into the trash bin, and as he moved his bike to the side, he suddenly heard two popping noises and a loud hissing sound. His tires were beginning to flatten before he knew it he heard a faint male voice calling his name from somewhere. His eyes began to dart left and right to see who it was that beckoned to him; finally, he locked eyes with a man across the street who stood just in front of the stone wall that fronted Sacred Hearts school. The man was dressed in a Tori Richard shirt with khaki slacks and loafers on his feet. It was his history professor, Damon Shigemura, he was waving Tony over to join him on the other side of the street,

"Anthony! Anthony! C'mon! C'mon! Come with me! My car is parked over here! Come back with me to the university, everything's been forgiven, I talked to the Dean, you can come back, and we'll pick up right where we left off! You'll get your scholarship back! C'mon!" The professor called out.

"Dr. Shigemura?" Tony whispered.

"Don't worry, Anthony," the professor said, "I know everything you've been through, we'll help you get cleaned up, and you'll be alright. Everything will be alright."

"Dr. Shigemura, is this for real?" Tony asked.

"Of course, it's for real!" The professor laughed heartily, "Hurry, we don't have much time!"

"You forgive me, Doc? You forgive me for everything? Everything I did wrong?" Tony asked as he headed toward the crosswalk.

"Of course, I forgive you! It's all water under the bridge, you can stay with me for a couple of months and then we'll get a hold of your family," the professor promised.

"Dr. Shigemura," Tony was in tears now, "I suffered so much, I'm such a disgrace my family won't have anything to do with me. They've abandoned me Doc, my own family abandoned me."

The walk signal came on, and Tony stepped into the street toward his salvation from a life that would eventually have killed him.

"I'm your family now, Anthony," the professor said, "you were always like a son to me. Come with me, my son come home."

Although the walk signal had been on, Henry manipulated the traffic light to stay green. Tony Kelly walked into the middle of the mid-morning rush and was killed instantly when he stepped into the path of an oncoming GMC Envoy. The people seated at the bus stop witnessed the gruesome accident while others who sat near the three elderly gentlemen shot up from their chairs to see what happened. Others screamed at the sight of Tony Kelly's broken, twisted body after it finally landed just near the Phillips 76 station.

Henry, Boyd, and Murphy simply sat at their table and continued to sip their coffee and did not even bother to blink an eye at what had just transpired.

"Your turn," Murphy sent his thoughts to Boyd, "get the manager to come out here with some breakfast but not the local deluxe, my system can't take the sausages. What do you want, John Henry?"

"We're gonna die the three of us, not today, but one day we will. What do we have to show for it? Our minds are sharp as a tack, but our bodies are old and worn down, are we going to be like our ancestors and let this gift we have just die with us or are we going to pass it on? We've outlived our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, what's left? WHO is left?" Henry asked.

"Again, John Henry, you're doing it again! Why does it always have to be this way?" Boyd had already reached his limit with his old friend.

"No," Murphy interjected, "I know what he's saying, it's about leaving something behind so that no one forgets that you were here. Is that right John Henry?"

"Make mine a local deluxe with everything," Henry directed his thoughts to Boyd, "and a large soda," Looking at Murphy, he continued, "yeah, that's right."

"I hear there's a group of men like us; not exactly like us maybe, but they do what we do but not so obvious that they can be found out. We should pay them a visit one day?" Murphy suggested.

"Like us?" Henry's eyebrows were raised with curiosity.

"Hawaiian gentlemen from a long Kahuna lineage like ours but not from Kaua'i. Theirs comes from Ka'u," Murphy confirmed.

"Why would we want to visit them?" Boyd inquired.

"I hear that the young man who heads this group is a good boy, very compassionate and helpful.'

What do you think?" Murphy projected.

"It's better than dying here in the middle of sipping coffee, that's for frickin sure," Henry inhaled.

"It's settled then, we'll go tomorrow,"

The South King street office was a non-descriptive building that blended into the drab-colored structure, which sat next to the Indonesian clothing store. The three elderly gentlemen examined the exterior for a second before Murphy grabbed the knocker and sounded it three times.

A second later, a large Hawaiian man whose coat and tie appeared to be too small for his massive frame pulled back the door and asked, "He puna wai Kau I ka Lewa." A spring of water placed in the air.

"He Niu," Henry answered. A coconut.

The man stepped to one side and allowed the three men to enter. Before them, they saw a long winding staircase.
Henry, Murphy, and Boyd let out a sigh of disgust when they saw the sheer length of the stairs, but the large doorman called out, "Hele I ka 'eleweka."

The elevator cart took them to the second floor, where they came upon a reception area with a large rattan couch and two chairs of the same making.
An older Hawaiian woman sitting behind a desk eyed them and pointed to the closed door to her right, "Hele' oukou I loko." You folks go inside.

The three stood there for a moment with a look of confusion on their faces as they eyed the receptionist and then one other.

"Go inside," the receptionist said, "They're waiting for you."

Opening the large door, they entered an office that was occupied by a large koa wood desk that sat at the opposite side of the room. All four walls were decorated with large bookshelves that reached from floor to ceiling, some looked like official books that one would find in the office of an attorney or that of a U.H. law professor but with less space. The oddity about the area was that the floor was covered with smooth handset stones. The koa wood desk itself sat on a finely woven mat made from Makaloa. Behind the desk sat the young man that the three had heard of, and on either side of him sat two older gentlemen who appeared to be his counselors.

"Aloha!" The young man's greeting was warm and made the three feel at ease, he stood up and came around the desk and shook the hand of each one, the two older men followed suit.

"I'm Hanson Napualawa, but everyone calls me Boy. These are my uncles, Ivan, and Tiny. Please, sit and relax we are so honored to have the three of you here!" Boy said.

As the three made themselves comfortable, the receptionist Rita Mokiao entered the office carrying three cups of coffee from the golden arches and handed them to the elderly gentlemen. It was only then that they realized that they'd been set up.

"That's why we haven't been able to communicate through our thoughts," Henry said, "This place is a Pu'uhonua."

"Balls," Murphy said softly, "it's one of those that mutes our abilities."

"They got to you somehow Murphy," Boyd said.

"Don't worry, gentlemen, you're not in any kind of trouble. However, word came back to us concerning your activity, and so we sent something out, hoping that it would reach one of you and bring you here so we could talk," Boy said.

"That was me," Murphy shook his head.

"So, what's next?" Henry asked.

"It's amazing that the three of you are even here and that you've been among us all this time. Goodness, the things you must have seen, the changes you witnessed," Boy shook his head in amazement, "I'm surprised that none of you ever thought to write a book."

"You men are literally a living history," Ivan smiled, "You could probably re-write all of our history books."

"That would piss a lot of people off, but it would be amusing," Tiny chuckled.

"Alright," Henry began, "you've greased us up enough. What's the catch?"

" Well, since you're straight shooters, we'll get right to it, we've traced you back as far as the time of Kaumuali'i and perhaps even before that." Boy said.

"Way before that," Henry confirmed.

"Let them work for it John Henry, don't shoot your whole load," Murphy cautioned.

"Too late for that," Boyd snickered.

"Boyd, are you so busy living in everyone else's mind that you can't even tell what's going on in front of you?" Henry asked.

"No, John Henry, what's going on?" Boyd mocked Henry now.

"They're putting us out to pasture Boyd," Murphy interjected.

"Put us out to pasture? I'd like to see them try!" Boyd struggled to get up from his chair.

"Please, gentlemen, relax. Nothing of the kind is going to happen. In fact, we brought you here in the hopes that you would work with us," Boy said, "There's so much we could learn from you."

"What do you do here?" Boyd asked.

"We help people who need certain kinds of things taken care of, let's just say that," Boy answered.

"You're not the local mafia, so you must deal in 'ana'ana," Henry observed, "Am I close?"

"Very close," Ivan replied, "In fact, right on the money."

"Our boss wants you to work with us, that's all," Tiny said.

"And if we don't?" Murphy asked.

"There's no alternative here, gentlemen, you either choose to do so or you don't, that's all," Boy said.

"So, if we don't agree, then we can just leave?" Henry asked.

"You can leave, no strings." Boy confirmed, "we just thought that we could offer you something better than just sipping coffee every morning for the rest of eternity at the golden arches."

"Well hell," Boyd exclaimed, "let's go!"

The three elderly gentlemen stood up from their chairs and made their way to leave, but not before Boy had one last word, "At one time the three of you were powerful prophets. Ali'i wouldn't make a move without your counsel. The balance of life and death literally depended upon your word. You've lived so long that you began to lose sight of the importance of your own lives, and because of that, you began to devalue the life of others. Anytime anyone invaded your circle and slighted you whether it was real or imaged, or if they thought badly of you, you never hesitated to kill them through telepathy and telekinetic power. You did it so much that it's not even a second thought to hurt people now. Let us help bring you back." Boy offered.

"We don't want your help or anyone else's help," Boyd said.

"Just leave us alone," Henry followed.

"We're all we have," Murphy concluded.

The three left the office and took the elevator, which carried them down to the lobby where they first saw the large Hawaiian man in the coat and tie. He was still standing near the doorway.

"Last chance," he said to the three.

John Henry waved him off as the other two followed behind him. Murphy crossed the street and heard Boyd and Henry scream his name, but it was too late, the car that raced through the light had no time to stop. It hit Murphy with such a brutal impact that it obliterated his body into pieces.

"Dammit!" Henry said to Boyd, "He didn't hear me, Boyd, he didn't hear me! My thoughts told him to stop, but he kept going! Did you hear me tell him? Did you?"

"No," Boyd said, "I didn't hear anything in my head! I didn't hear anything!"

"Those bastards," Henry said, "They took it from us, they took it from us!"

Blinded with rage, John Henry and Boyd walked back to the building where Henry pulled back the knocker. He only hit the door once, and it creaked open, the hall with the long winding staircase was old and eaten by termites, a large part of the stairs had fallen away. There were cobwebs everywhere. Confused now, they headed toward the elevator and pressed the button, suddenly they heard a loud groaning creak as if some dormant giant was beginning to awaken. The doors to the cart slid open as metal screeched upon metal, Boyd was hesitant to enter, but Henry pulled him in. Pressing the button to the second floor, the elevator groaned and creaked, and the walls vibrated heavily as it ascended to the next level. Finally rumbling to a stop, the doors practically screamed like a woman giving birth as it opened, the two stepped out quickly in fear that the cables to the elevator might snap, thereby bringing the cart to a smashing conclusion on the bottom floor. The reception area was empty except for what seemed like years of collected dust everywhere, Boy's office door was partially open, and when the two stepped in, they found that space completely empty as well.

"We were just here," Boyd gasped, "we were just here. How did everything disappear so fast?"

"Boyd, when I said that you spend too much time invading other people's minds, I meant it. It's robbed you of the ability to see the obvious," Henry said gently.

"I know what this is, Napualawa," Henry called out, "But alright, you wanna talk, let's talk."

'What are you doing?" Boyd asked.

"Boyd, this is an illusion! This is your specialty! This is what YOU do to people, remember? How could you not see this for what it is? They somehow took our abilities away, and now they're planting this illusion in our head to make us believe that this office is abandoned when it's not! They're still here, looking at us like we're monkeys in a zoo! Laughing at us, making fun of us! But we're gonna wait it out, they can't keep this up forever," Henry grunted.


"How long do you think they can hold out?" Tiny asked Boy.

"They'll get tired of it sooner than they think, then they'll leave," Boy answered.

"It's too bad," Ivan said, "corrupted and demented by their own mana."

"They were too great to get rid of, I wanted to leave them with some dignity. Sadly, the other one died, but the remaining two can't have those powers anymore. They've become a danger to themselves and others," Boy shared.

Pressing the button to Rita's line Boy said, "Aunty Rita if no one else has already done it, can you please call 911 and report a hit and run in front of our office?"

"Alright, Hanson will do," Rita answered.

"John Henry, we have to go and see about Murphy, he's lying dead in the street! We can't just leave him like that!" Boyd insisted.

"To hell with Murphy! I want my powers back, and I'm not leaving until I get them!" Henry snapped.

Boyd addressed Henry now as if he were a stranger, "And what about me John Henry? What about my powers?"

"What power? The power to invade the minds of those Catholic school girls who come to buy sodas and sit where we sit and influence them to meet you at your place and wait there until you hobble back so that you can have your way with them? Is THAT the power you're talking about?" Henry blurted out.

Boyd let out a scream and tackled Henry to the ground, where he began to punch his ancient friend in the head. Henry pushed Boyd off of him, and as the two struggled to their feet, Henry stunned Boyd with a right uppercut and followed that up with a left hook. Boyd hit the floor with a thud. Suddenly Henry clutched his heart, the pain was horrible, he couldn't breathe, he let out a loud gasp and dropped dead on the floor.


The following morning a bruised and battered Boyd Ahakuelo sat in his usual spot at the golden arches painfully sipping on his coffee, it was either too hot, or it hurt too much to apply his split lip to the rim of the cup. Either way, there was an eternal sadness welling up within him as he suddenly burst into tears and began crying openly. People sitting near him became uncomfortable and either ignored him or moved to a table inside. There was no one now, no one to bicker with or no one to agree with. He could no longer influence the mind of the manager to give him anything for free, and so it was awkward for him to figure out how to pay for a cup of coffee and a breakfast plate on his own. John Henry and Murphy were all he had, all he depended on, all he truly cared for. Now, for the first time in his long, immortal life, he realized that he was truly alone.

No comments:

Post a Comment