Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Apr 29, 2017

"Kaua 'Elua"

Sidereal time is a particular time of day when paranormal activity is most active. It usually falls within the noon hour. The seasoned parapsychologist regards the hour with equal regularity as the results are most fruitful within that time frame. So too did Peter Topley who had come across the subject of sidereal time while listening to a CD by Roland Cazimero which referenced sidereal time in relation to the legend of Pele and her journey to what was thought to be the fabled homeland in the north. Hawai’i.

It was the recommended period of the day by which Pele was told to make her departure from Kahiki at the urgent behest of either her mother Haumea or by her eldest and most sacred elder brother Kamohoali’i, the king of sharks. In either regard, that little bit of information sparked a moment of curiosity within Peter which lead him to look up the definition of sidereal time on Google. That was just the spark he needed to be lit under him which literally caused him to jump out of his chair and run down to the garage and get into his truck and make a beeline toward the Wai’anae coast. If the information was correct, then by the time Peter arrived at Keawa’ula, sidereal time would be in full effect, for Peter there was not even the slightest presence of doubt that this was not a well-orchestrated scientific hoax or an urban legend. Peter’s gut feeling told him that this was absolutely the real deal and that there was not a second to be wasted.

The Lunalilo on-ramp was clear as Peter merged into the westbound traffic without much trouble. Life itself was not as easy to navigate during the last year following his divorce and having to move into a smaller apartment on Davenport street right off of Pi’ikoi . With only his own income to go by, Peter also had to take a second job just to keep up with the rent and the rest of the utility bills. Otherwise, eating out was now a luxury that only came twice a month, as was his Lexus. Peter couldn’t afford the insurance any longer and so he traded his car in for a Nissan Frontier. It didn’t have the punch that the Lexus had but it got him safely from point-A to point-B.

Mauna Kapu above Makakilo lingered in the distance just above Palehua as the frontier passed the water park. The natural meridian which extended itself from the heights at Makakilo down to the very point at Kalaeloa seemed to align itself with the vehicle as if giving its approval while the truck now ventured toward Honokaihale. Coming over the rise at Kahe point, the sheer beauty of the crystal blue ocean was breathtaking and stood in contrast to the dry arid rocky plains just before Nanakuli. The old train tracks still remained as a kind of beacon from the past when the old Dillingham box cars moved all the way to Kaena point and back. The bend of the road which found its way into Maili was closer to the Ocean and with his window down, Peter could inhale the aroma of the fresh sea spray as its rough waters crashed on the jagged coast just beneath the highway. The journey went on like this for the next few miles until Peter finally saw the coastline at Keawa’ula just as he passed the ancient cave of Nanaue. Within less than 10 minutes he just made the dip before the first bathroom near the old train stop where it used to reverse and head back east. The conductor’s last name was, “Yokohama” and somehow the area known by Keawa’ula would become his namesake. Peter drove the frontier as far as it could go until the path out to Kaena point finally became inaccessible. Locking up the vehicle and leaving a written note on the windshield, he hurried as fast as he could because he knew that It would take nearly another forty-five minutes to an hour before he could finally reach his destination. He could not miss the opportunity to see sidereal time and to witness the events that would unfold as a result; the unforgiving heat of the sun notwithstanding. The trek itself nearly came to a standstill when Peter saw that a part of the trail had fallen away either because of erosion or the high pounding surf, fortunately someone had been mindful enough to lay a large plank across a portion of the trail in order to lend better access on the way out to the nature preserve. Peter bypassed the preserve and the point entirely and began to make his way toward the Mokuleia end of the westernmost region of ‘O’ahu. With only a minute to spare, he had finally made it to his intended mark. Leleina ka‘uhane, the leaping stone of the dead.

It was twelve noon and according to the calendar that Peter found and researched online earlier that morning, sidereal time was now about to begin.

Peter stood near the legendary leaping stone and waited. According to the stories he had heard growing up; this is where the spirits of those who have died within the month would appear in a long procession. Their end goal was to climb up to the leaping stone where an enormous window appeared out of nowhere. It would receive them one by one into the arms of waiting ancestors on the other side. From here, the details of the story varied in that the procession only appeared at midnight or only during a full moon but the details of sidereal time made more sense to Peter than anything else, so he waited patiently.

Relief came as the winds swept a group of low-lying gray clouds across the face of the sun which sat directly overhead. Peter noticed that one particular cloud fell lower than the rest and now seemed to be hovering less than ten feet above the leaping stone. The sight did not capture Peter’s attention right away until the wind suddenly became intense within a matter of seconds. It was nearly impossible to see even in the daylight but in the distance, rounding the point at Kaena there appeared to be a group of people heading toward him. They did not seem to be hikers because they were dressed in everyday clothing, however as they got closer it was now obvious that there were more of them, an almost unending line of them. Peter’s heart jumped into his throat, this was it. It was now sidereal time.

The spirits of the people who approached leleina ka ‘uhane leaped one by one into the dark gray cloud as it opened up to reveal a blinding light only to dissipate until it became the floating cloud again. The process went on for a few more minutes until for some unknown reason, Peter glanced at his watch. It was now 12:17 pm. It wasn’t until then that he finally noticed that all of the spirits of those who were once a part of the living were all Hawaiian. There was no doubt now, he was in the right place. No sooner did this realization come to him, then did he see her. She only stood a few feet away from the leaping stone behind an elder Hawaiian couple. Her eyes were cast to the ground as if she were thinking about something serious but Peter was careful not to run to her and create a big commotion. He was not certain of what protocols were needed in this instance but he was very certain that love would be understood by the seen and unseen. It was Cory, his late ex-wife. A month ago Peter got into a very bad argument over the phone with her and in the heat of the moment, he told her that he wished she were dead. An hour later as she left her office and was driving home to her mother’s house, she was killed in an accident near the Ka’onohi overpass when a Tesoro truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and ran her off the freeway. The guilt was unbearable but there he stood staring at the ghost of his deceased ex-wife

“Cory,” he called out.

She continued to gaze at her feet as if an important thought had taken her attention away from anything else that might have been going on around her. Peter was surprised to see that her appearance did not reflect the circumstances of her accident; she rather looked more like the Cory which he had met eleven years ago. The strain of her job literally weighed on her shoulders and caused her to slouch without her knowing it, but that was gone now. She was upright and elegant and brimming with the youthful confidence she had before she began to work for the local newspaper. There was no trace of the crow’s feet wrinkles at the corner of her eyes nor was there a clue of the dark slanted line between her eyebrows which developed as a result of she and Peter never being able to smile while in one another’s company during the last years of their marriage. Now here she was almost brand new, reborn. There was a new purity about her, a kind of inherent light.

Peter reached out and gently placed his hand on her forearm.

“Cory?” he said again.

She looked up at Peter from beneath her bangs which were expertly cut to fall just below her eyebrows. It was meant to bring out the almost light brown/yellowish color in her pupils. The haircut was something that Cory wanted to do for herself once the divorce was final, it was a sign of shedding the old life and gaining a lease on a new one. Staring back at Peter now, her eyes searched for some kind of familiar recognition. The man she looked at was part Hawaiian with a mix of Portuguese who seemed to have too much on his mind even though his demeanor was of someone affable and well adjusted. There was an underlying pain which gave him many sleepless nights. His eyes smiled first and then the rest followed.

“How do you do that?” Cory asked.

“Do what?” Peter replied.

“How do you make your eyes dance?” she whispered.

Cory slowly took Peter’s hands in hers and took a step closer.

“Those are the first words you said to me when we first met,” Peter said.

The two fell into one another’s embrace equally and no more was said. Cory’s body was cool and comforting; Peter’s body was warm and filled with the life that she was once a part of. It would be something that she would completely forget once she made the leap from the massive stone into the realm of Po.

Peter had meant to apologize for what he had said out of anger and for being the cause of the failure of their marriage. He had become so caught up in his work that he had become blind to what was truly important, too blind to see that his wife needed her husband. At that moment, when Peter began to let his guilt and sorrow consume him, Cory looked deeply into his eyes and gently kissed him. Her smile told him that there was no longer any need for regret. Those concerns were unimportant and forgiveness was merely a wisp of a fading memory. There was no need for confession or absolution, there was only Aloha. It was all that mattered.

The procession moved a few steps forward while Cory and Peter held on to one another, avoiding the sight of the leaping stone knowing what was about to come. The deafening sound which came from the void each time it opened whenever a spirit leaped into its endless chasm caught Peter’s attention. He was distracted for a moment when he thought he might have caught a glimpse of what was on the other side of the great spiritual window. There was a vast open field of pili grass which seemed to lead to a lush green mountainside with waterfalls in the distance.

"When your time comes, that's what you'll see when you leap through. I'll be waiting for you," she told him. Looking at the foot of the leaping stone she whispered, "we're here."

The statement brought Peter back to his senses and he found himself asking her again, “What was that?”

“We’re here,” Cory repeated herself, “it’s my turn.”

“Your turn?” Peter was confused now.

Nodding now, Cory continued, “My turn to go.”

“That’s right, it is,” Peter realized her time had come.

“Play track five ok?” Cory asked.

“What?” Peter asked.

“You heard me,” she replied. With that, Cory turned and ran to the very tip of the leaping stone and jumped into the void where it quickly closed behind her. The searing heat of the day returned and, even before Peter could think his next thought or utter one more word, everything had faded into nothing right before his eyes. The hour had passed.

“Shit,” Peter said helplessly.

The walk back to his truck seemed to be a lot shorter than the journey in and it was three forty in the late afternoon by the time he removed the note from his windshield and headed back toward town. Kaua’i had already begun to catch the setting sun beyond her fading orange horizon when Peter pressed play on the CD player in his truck. He had left the Roland Cazimero disc in the player and the track was set on, “I am, I am,” a declaration of Pele’s journey to the new land. There was a brief click as the CD player reset itself to track number five all on its own. It began with the soft murmuring of a guitar with the sigh of a synthesizer coming in beneath the chords. It struck Peter as strange because he had no memory of this song on the disc.

“Pretty face, what’s your name?

“And is that smile for me?

“Am I fortunate enough to have your love?”

Peter pressed the eject button on the player and nothing came out.

“No Disc,” the digital display on the CD player said. It was empty but the song continued to play.
“What the hell is this?” Peter screamed to himself. Suddenly he heard Cory’s voice in his head.

“Play track five ok?”

“How can I do that?” Peter said out loud, “the player is empty!”

Peter pulled the truck over into the empty dirt parking lot just across from Kaneana cave as he now wept uncontrollably. The song on track five was called “Pretty Face/Jealousy” it was his pet name for Cory, she loved the song simply because of that fact and she always held his hand and lay her head on his shoulders whenever the song played on the radio, just as it was playing now. Peter had completely forgotten that he had left his cell phone on the passenger’s seat until it began to buzz intermittently. Picking it up and looking at it, he saw that the display on the screen showed that a rare occurrence had taken place at that exact moment, four ten in the afternoon. It was the second hour of sidereal time accompanied by a longitude and latitude reading which marked its location in the very spot where Peter was now parked.

“Ok,” Peter said, “ok I get it. I get it, I get it.”

The following day Peter applied for a G.E. License and decided to run a lunch truck on the weekends at Keawa’ula Beach. He got his brothers to help him and Cory’s Pretty Face Cheese Burgers were the hit item on the menu. He soon moved out of his Davenport Street apartment and was able to afford a nice one bedroom house in Makaha where, once a month during a certain hour of the day, he could be found clearing a path toward Kaena Point as if he were expecting a large group of guests.

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