Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Apr 22, 2017

Mas Que Nada

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not Catholic. Even though I am sitting in a Catholic church on Fort Street Mall, I am not a church member. I just need a moment to think before I make a move; the man in question who is today's lucky winner is homeless. Heʻs in an alley, not less than a hundred feet away from where I am now, but he’s not really homeless, he’s just playing the role. What he’s really doing is hiding, trying not to be found. If he has no known address, no job, or bills that can pinpoint him to a particular location, he is untraceable. Or so he thought. You see, everyone has one necessary essential thing that they cannot do without; that is, unless they were trained to do so. This guy? It’s his cell phone. It kept him in contact with the person who provided him with cash so that he could survive until he ran out of money, and then another drop off would be made and so on and so forth. The great thing about money is that you tend to make stupid mistakes in most circumstances when you have more of it. John Gaspar’s moment of stupidity was a moment of weakness that caught my attention as I was exiting the downtown Safeway. John intended to buy himself a loaf of bread, some cheese with luncheon meat, and a few drinks so that he could go sit at some nearby park and have a quiet meal to himself. However, before he could enter the store, he was stopped by a group of Girl Scouts who were selling cookies to earn more merit badges. John gave the young girl $50 for the whole box of cookies; as he exchanged the money for the box of cookies, he gave the little girl a hug that lasted a bit too long. The little girl panicked and began to pull away; the den mothers stepped in and forcefully separated John from the little girl scout. One mother screamed for security while another went into the store and got the manager.

At the same time, I exited the store with a drink and sushi in my hand, I noticed the commotion. John made a run for it before anyone could detain him, and that’s when he and I locked eyes. He looked like a little boy that had been caught red-handed and was desperate for a way out; luckily, he didn’t know who I was or who sent me. He took off and made a left on south kukui street and took a right on Fort street, where he ended up hiding on Chapel Lane between the Mojo Barbershop and the Hawaiian Lei Company. I didn’t really chase him so much as I followed at a careful distance. He wasn’t going anywhere; his moral dilemma would keep him right where I would find him. Right now, Our Lady Of Peace church is where I’m taking a moment to deal with my own moral dilemma.

Avellino Gaspar was an architect who arrived in Honolulu on July 10, 1850, the same day that the legislature passed the Alien Land Ownership act. He married a Hawaiian woman who was Ali’i (Royalty). Her name was Hattie Kahanuloa, who had vast amounts of land handed down from generation to generation within her family. Aside from that, very little is known about the Gaspar ‘ohana. Their existence in Honolulu spans one hundred and sixty-six years. All the Gaspar children attended the best private school in Honolulu. For many generations, the family made substantial donations to various local charities but were never themselves present to receive any kind of recognition for their contributions. For the few instances that the Gaspar family were seen in public, they kept to themselves and did not converse at any great length with anyone. Among the rest of the elite Kama’aina families, the Gaspar clan was an anomaly.

The case of John Gaspar began with a phone call from his mother, Fleurette; she requested that the meeting takes place at the gatehouse on the Gaspar estate grounds. It was a seventeen-acre property located in the back of Nu'uanu valley just past the old Morgan house off of Pali Drive. She instructed me to arrive at precisely twelve noon and cautioned me not to be late; noon, it was.
Two large Hawaiian men dressed in white dinner coats and bow ties with tuxedo slacks and corframs on their feet were pushing the large cast-iron gate open so that I could bring my car through. In my opinion, they were overdressed bodyguards because they looked like they could tear an entire pig free with their bare hands. Although I did feel sorry for them having to wear such formal clothing under our tropical sun, I couldn’t help but think that there was more to their jobs than just pushing a gate open. The larger of the two walked up to my window and asked,

“ ‘Olelo Hawai’i ‘oe?” (Do you speak Hawaiian?)

“Li’ili’i,” ( A little ) I replied.

Pointing toward the gatehouse, he said, “Hele pololei ma laila, ke pau ka halawai, ha’alele pololei. Mai mili’apa. Maopopo?” ( Go straight there, when the meeting is done, leave immediately. Don’t be slow. Understand?)

Nodding, I replied, “Maopopo,”

As my car approached the gatehouse, a lone figure emerged from the front door and stood there with a manila envelope in her hands. It was the matriarch, Fleurette Gaspar. Her eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark glasses. Her red hair almost gave her away as being entirely Caucasian, except that her features became obviously more Hawaiian once she removed her glasses. Her eyes were a lite yellowish-brown, a stark contrast to the dark overcoat she wore along with her dark flats, which looked more like something suitable for a mannequin. Her hands had seen much work and many struggles; it almost seemed strange that she would color her fingernails in burgundy.

I was cautious about exiting my car and made sure that all of my movements were open and not threatening in any way. I offered my salutations from where I stood; it felt like the right thing to do.

One of the men who opened the gate came up from behind me and carefully received the manila envelope from Mrs. Gaspar and put it in my hands. He stood off to my side and awaited orders from his employer.

“In that envelope is a picture of my eldest son John and your compensation,” she said.

Her voice was like that of my Tutuwahine’s generation. Although they spoke Hawaiian fluently, their English had a kind of flair that gave them a regal countenance.

“I apologize, but I don’t understand,” I replied.

“You’ve watched the news, haven’t you?” She asked.

“Yes, I have,” I was still not sure about what she wanted.

“Then you know about my son,” she said quietly.

It dawned on me a little late, and I could see that Mrs. Gaspar was irritated. Not less than two days ago, John Gaspar was arrested for child molestation but somehow managed to escape while he was en route to the police station.

“Now I do, yes. I’ve seen the news,” I confirmed.

“Your services came highly recommended from a close friend of our family; I want this to be discreet and kept very quiet,” she was forthright.

“You understand what my services are, right?” I asked.

“Isn’t it obvious? The mere fact that you are standing here with my son's picture and a large amount of money in a manila envelope should tell you everything.” She was not so much condescending as she was incredulous. She did not like being questioned about anything.

“Alright,” I replied. “Who is the target? Is it one of the arresting officers?”

“No, it’s my son,”


John Gaspar had a problem from the time he was a child, so his mother said. As he got older, he made his problem, the issue of children who were the same age as he was. Over the decades, the Gaspar ‘ohana had managed to keep their family affairs very private, and considering what had just surfaced on the news, Mrs. Gaspar intended to maintain that reputation even at the cost of her son’s life.

“There’s a phone number in the envelope; you’ll call that number once it’s done,” she instructed. She opened the door behind her and disappeared into the confines of the gatehouse.

The bodyguard placed his hand on the back of my shoulder and pushed me toward my car. Poor man, his sweaty palms left a stain on the back of my shirt.

Finding John Gaspar would have taken me longer were it not for my urge to have sushi and a drink. The nearest place was the local Safeway; it was completely dumb luck that I would come upon John Gaspar doing that which brought a blight on his family name; I can understand someone being shunned from their family, but to be killed for it?


It’s a short walk to Chaplain Lane, and John Gaspar was easy to find. He was the blithering idiot sitting with his back up against a wall and his face buried in his hands. He was one of those ugly criers who had no sense of personal dignity; it was the kind of thing that made everyone within hearing range feel very uncomfortable. It was also a sure-fire way to draw attention to himself, like the police, for instance. From meeting his mother, I could see that this middle-aged man could not be reasoned with by any average person other than Fleurette herself; this was more than just being henpecked. I had to get him to shut up so he’d be my rapt audience of one; I removed my 9mm from its holster and pressed the barrel between his eyes, and clicked the hammer back with my thumb.

“Shut up and don’t say a word; I talk, you listen. Got it?” I instructed.

He blubbered and whined even more, which left me with no choice but to give him a quick rap to the head with the butt end of my gun. It woke him up quick.

“The next time, it’s gonna be one right between your eyes; if you understand me, just nod your head,” He could see that I was serious, so he nodded his head. For the next three hours, John Gaspar and I had an intense conversation.


The following morning at precisely eight-ten, I called Fleurette Gaspar from the number she’d left in the manila envelope from the day before.

“Is it done?” She asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“I need to see it; I need proof. Were you discreet?” She asked again.

“Very,” I answered.

“Where are you?” She asked.

“Behind the Mc Kesson building on Sand Island road,” I confirmed.

“Bring him here,” she hung up.

In less than thirty minutes, my car idled through the gates at the Gaspar Estate. This time the two Hawaiian brothers climbed into my back seat and directed me to the roundabout driveway fronting the mansion. As I pulled up, I could see that Mrs. Gaspar was already waiting.

“Well? Where is he?” She demanded.

I got out of my car, and the two brothers followed me out as I walked to the trunk. I flipped the key in and opened the trunk where John’s mother, along with her two goons, saw the body bag.

“Open it,” she said quietly.

I zipped the body bag open wide so that Fleurette could see the entire contents of what lay inside. She was not pleased, not in the slightest.

“What is this?” She shrieked. “It’s filled with Ti Leaf bundles! Is this some sort of stupid trick?”

“You never specified how you wanted him delivered, so I thought I’d be creative,” I smiled. “If you open up any one of those bundles, you’ll find teeth in one, hair in another, fingernails, and a class ring if I’m not mistaken,”

Old lady Gaspar eyed me carefully as a wry grin came over her face, “Young man, my family has been in these islands for a long time, and I can guarantee you that we were of a higher class of Ali’i than yours ever were. You come from a long line of death dealers, whereas I come from a line of high-ranking Pi’o chiefs,” she drew her head back slightly so that I could see that she was purposely looking down her nose at me. “I know what a bunch of cursed pū’olo look like!”

Her two bodyguards inched closer towards me as I put my hands up and pleaded my case.

“Not a bunch,” I replied. “Just one,”

I quickly grabbed the most enormous bundle in the body bag and tossed it to one of the brothers. Even before he could catch it, I was already running toward the front gate with everything I had. From out of nowhere, a flaming blue akualele shot down from the sky above and obliterated the matriarch and her two henchmen into dust. The shockwave propelled me toward the front gate with such force that I had no time to curl my body up into a fetal position to protect myself. I hit it full spread eagle. I was banged up pretty good, but after I came to, I reached in my pocket and saw that my cell phone was still in one piece. I managed to limp toward the Pali Highway, where I called for a cab.

An hour before I showed up at the Gaspar estate, I called the police and reported my car stolen; that way, when the authorities found it in a burning heap fronting the Gaspar mansion, I wouldn’t be in any kind of trouble. Besides, my fingerprints wouldn’t be the only ones that could be found in my car, considering that the two goons sat in it as well. Oh, money? It burned up with the vehicle. Mrs. Gaspar was right; with her family being here in the islands since antiquity, there was no way that I could trick her with a bunch of cursed pu’olo, and so the only bundle that was really cursed was the one that had my shirt in it. The one with the sweaty hand stain from the brother. I know you’re saying that since I was wearing the dress shirt that I should have been hurt too, you are correct; I should have. However, I learned an old trick from a Lua master back in the day. The skill involved adapting a more extended, deeper breathing pattern to not perspire even under the most stressful circumstances. It actually works.

The real question you’re asking yourself is, why did I turn the tables on Mrs. Gaspar and not fulfill my contract? Like I said, John Gaspar and I had an intense conversation. It had to do with what Mrs. Gaspar noted the day before; her Ali’i lineage derives from a Pi’o line. It’s a sacred line where a brother and sister marry to keep their lineage pure. The child they have as a result of that union is considered a God. A Pi’o Ali’i. Fleurette Kahanuloa Gaspar, like her family before her, maintained that practice within her own household. Especially with John and his twin sister and his other siblings, and occasionally Mrs. Gaspar herself.

The fact that she was willing to have her son killed to protect her family’s secret gave me pause in a Catholic church of all places; that moment moved me to ask myself a question. Why wouldn’t she have me killed too?


I believed that a revelation was supposed to have taken place once John Gaspar told me everything about his life; I felt that his confession would absolve him somehow. In his mind, it only made him see himself as a twisted monster who was beyond redemption. He got up on his feet and thanked me. A second later, he ran in front of an oncoming city bus and ended his life. There’s no such thing as the lesser of two evils because whatever is leftover is still evil.

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