Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 24, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #100


What is the word ‘adopted?’ What does that mean to a boy who is all of eight years old? 

From the moment that my father could see that I was cognizant enough to comprehend language and conversation, he immediately took it upon himself to inform me that I was adopted. As he explained it, he and my mother were not my real parents, my natural mother had given me up because she did not want me. This is what I was told. The word, which meant to legally take a child and raise it as one’s own meant nothing to me, it was the fact that I was now being told that my parents were not my parents and I couldn’t stop crying. 

My mother was upset at my father and he,
not having the tools to deal with emotional situations other than his own, retreated to their bedroom and locked the door. My mother reassured me that I was her son and that she did, indeed, love me. The following morning at school, all of my classmates pointed at me and repeatedly chanted the word adopted over and over again like some kind of negative mantra. The architect of that mob of eight-year-old acolytes was my neighbor and constant foil, Freddy Cordero. The day before my father made me aware that I was not his son, he had already shared that information with Freddy’s father, who in turn shared it with his own family. 

“Your Dad doesn’t love you,” Freddy's face was an inch away from mine, “He’s giving you back to the Hawaiians.”

My timing could not have been more perfect when I punched Freddy in the nose because our teacher Ms. Bow walked in just as I smashed his little beak under my fist. Needless to say, we were taken to the principal’s office where Ms. Bow took a seat behind us as the principal eyed us closely.

“Why you two boys fighting?” He was not happy with the both of us.

“Freddy told everyone that I’m adopted,” I was petrified because the principal had a reputation for being mean. On the wall behind his desk was a wooden paddle which he used generously on any delinquent student who crossed his door.

“Is that true Freddy?” He asked.

“Yes,” Freddy replied. “His faddah told my faddah.” 

The principal handed Freddy a handful of Kleenex because the paper towels in his one hand were soaked with blood. All the principal could concern himself with was the discipline which he looked forward to doling out, wrong or right was never the case. It was not about being fair, if you were in his office for anything other than business, you were wrong. 

He made the both of us stand up and hold our hands out, palms facing up. His arm was like a whip as it quickly arched over his head and came down so fast that you couldn’t see it. It was the wooden paddle that snapped at the end of that whip-like motion, hitting us one each on our hands, Freddy got it on his left palm and I got it on my right. The impact of the smooth wooden paddle on our fleshy little paws made such a sharp, cracking, snap of a noise that it must have broken the sound barrier. It made Ms. Bow yelp with surprise as she jumped out of her chair. It was an interesting thing to be startled by that sound and not feel the impact of the pain until a second later. He was a sadistic genius that principal, I’ll give him that. 

We walked back to our class quietly crying to ourselves, Ms. Bow took the two of us into the teacher's restroom and put wet paper towels on our hands in order to relieve the pain, however, it only made the pain worse. She walked behind us down the rest of the hallway but, the second I saw our classroom door, I began to cry out loud and wouldn’t go in. 

Ms. Bow became confused and couldn’t understand what was bothering me, “What’s wrong? We have to go back to class!”

“Ms. Bow,” I was doing my best to control my sobbing, “Are you my real teacher or my adopted teacher? Are you going to give me away?”

She took a deep breath and knelt down in front of me, “It's almost recess time, just practice writing your cursive letters until the bell rings.”

I held my right hand up to her and told her I couldn’t, it hurt too much. Her brow furrowed and her mouth twisted to one side, “I’m going to talk to that Principal.”

Freddy and I couldn’t do much for the rest of the day, especially during lunch. It was awkward to carry the lunch tray with my left hand much less use it to eat with but I managed. By the time I got home, there was a feeling inside me that my eight-year-old self could not form the words for, it was more than hurt, that’s for sure. 

Freddy, Stevie boy, Mary, Donna, and Guy wanted me to go outside and play with them after I did my homework but I hadn’t the feeling for it or anything else. After that day I stayed in the house, and I didn’t play with any of my friends for a long while. I’d come home from school, watch the Checkers and Pogo show or Mighty Mouse and then have dinner and go to bed. Of course there was shopping and going to the beach on the weekends or eating at the Chinese food place, and I’d talk only when I had to, but otherwise, I avoided saying much at all. 

At dinner, my father would absentmindedly tell me to eat all of my vegetables so that I could grow up and be strong like he was, while simultaneously telling me I was too weak to play basketball. One night while we ate at the Chinese place, he lamented to my mother that there was a father and son baseball tournament coming up and that he had an interest in participating but it was impossible since I was not his real son. My three older brothers were already in their twenties and on their own, the age requirement for this tournament was from six to ten years old. I continued to inhale my abalone soup, acting as if I hadn’t heard a thing.


The following evening I was part of a ‘Ukulele recital at my school where our class was going to play two songs while some of the girls danced the hula. Until today, I can’t remember what those songs were but I do remember that neither one of my parents were in attendance even though they had signed my permission slip a month before. I caught a ride with Freddy and told them that I’d go home with my parents because they were going to come. An hour later, Freddy and his family had already left and I walked home by myself. Somewhere along the way, I threw my ‘ukulele in someone’s garbage can. 

When I got home my father’s excuse was that he and my mother were tired and that they’d forgotten about it. In the same breath, my father yelled at me for not catching a ride with the Corderos. I reminded him that I had waited for them because they said that they were going to attend. My father’s next excuse was that I should have known. How could I have known at eight years of age that they were not going to attend the recital much less not pick me up after?

I sat down to have my favorite meal, corned beef, scrambled eggs on rice and a pile of ketchup on top of it. I always washed it down with my favorite drink, Exchange Orangeade because I liked singing the song before I drank it, “The Exchange, goes down down down and round round round..."

No song tonight, however. I showered and took myself to the bed where I climbed up to my bunk and settled in for the night. While my eyes began to fall under the spell of Niolopua, the goddess of sleep, I finally realized what the feeling was that ached through my body. It was apathy. I didn’t care anymore, I didn’t care about anyone or anything. At eight years of age, I thought that maybe I was better off being dead.


I was in the half state of sleep and consciousness when I adjusted myself in my bed in order to get more comfortable. Turning on my side, I felt it right under me. It poked me between the ribs ever so slowly, but with purpose. I thought a wire may have come loose from beneath the mattress, so when I pulled the mattress back, there was nothing there, all the wires were perfectly tethered. I moved again and felt it, right under the small of my back, a slow purposeful stab as if it were a knife trying to penetrate it’s target until it pierced through to the other side. It happened two more times as I moved away from the spot where it had poked me but I felt like it could sense my every move and would meet me at every spot that I’d adjusted to. I finally decided that if I lay perfectly still that the poking would stop, and it did; from beneath my back that is. Once it realized that I was not intent on moving anymore, it lifted the entire mattress from the frame and let it drop right back on the spring. I hit it pretty hard and it knocked the wind out of me, but in that short frame of time where I tried to gather my thoughts, I heard voices from beneath my bunk, “Come...child...come...”

Heart pounding and being careful to avoid whatever may be in the space below my bed, I jumped off the top bunk and ran into the living room where I hid on the couch, hoping that whatever it was that was was in my room could not see me. I was terrified and riveted to the spot. I didn’t bother to call out for my parents. I felt that there wasn’t a point to it since I was adopted and unwanted. Instead, I would just wait it out.

Eventually, I fell asleep but when I woke up the next morning I was deathly ill. I was so ill that I was taken to the doctor that morning and by the afternoon, mother checked me into the old Children’s Hospital on Kuakini Street. Within the six months that I was there, I’d nearly died twice but for some reason, the doctors managed to bring me back from the portals of the grim reaper. 

When I was brought home, my mother kept me on the couch for some reason and didn’t put me in my bedroom. I wouldn't find out why until a few years later after we moved to Waipahu. While I was in the hospital, my mother explained, she was cleaning out my room one morning. She was folding my clothes and placing them in my drawer when she heard a pounding on the front door of the house. Then, she heard my voice calling her, telling her to open the door. My brother’s girlfriend, Ruby, was sitting in the living room and she heard me calling as well.

“Me and Ruby took one look at each other," my mother said, "and we both shrugged our shoulders because, even though the outside door was closed, there was no lock. But only us in the family knew that, nobody else!”

When my mother didn’t open the door, both women then heard my voice say, “Ruby? Ruby, please open the door. Please?” 

When Ruby didn’t budge either, they heard whoever it was that was pretending to be me shout, “OPEN THIS FUCKING DOOR!”

Then the two women heard footsteps hurrying down the porch stairs and my voice called out, “Mommy I’m going to play on the road! If I get run over and die, it’s your fault!” 

At that point, my mother said she couldn’t take anymore and reached out to open the door and chase after me but Ruby blocked her way. “Mom, it’s not him! If he knows that the door isn’t locked then why is he asking us to let him in? It’s not the boy, it’s something else!”

They heard a car speeding down the dirt road that was once Kaukamana street, not the finely paved byway that it is today. “Please!” my mother pleaded with Ruby, “He’s going to get run over!”

Ruby would not relent, all the while trying to convince my mother that it was not myself calling out to either of them. Just as it sounded like the car had reached a top speed, they heard it turn into our driveway. It was my father. Both women were nearly hysterical when my father pulled back the front door and walked in the house, they told him everything. It wasn’t until after their explanation that my father told them that he had a similar experience at work. 

He had just returned to the Easy Appliance Warehouse after delivering a bunch of refrigerators to a department store. He said he went to use the bathroom just beneath the stairs that led up to his bosses office. It was a tiny closet, with a sink and a single commode where you literally faced the only door while taking care of your business. Suddenly there was a pounding that was so loud that it nearly shook the door right off the hinges, it was followed by a brief moment of eerie silence.

Then he heard my voice, “Daddy? Daddy open the door. Open the door Daddy, I have to go. There’s blood in my shi-shi. I have to go!”

My father said he was so mortified that he couldn’t even speak; the doorknob then slowly turned right and then left, left and then right, and right and then left again. 

“Daddy? Why won’t you open the door, Daddy? Is it because I’m not your son?” Chills covered my father’s body as he sat there helpless on the toilet, “You’re glad I’m in the hospital aren’t you Daddy? You want me to die since I’m not your son... don’t you? Don’t you want me to die?”


In the days of taking it easy while recovering from my time in the hospital, I spent much of my time watching television and sleeping. I had no idea why at the time but my mother called a feiteceira to come to our house to see me. The old, Portuguese witch drove from Punchbowl with her daughter Vanessa, who came as an assistant and would eventually take her place. The feiteceira cut an imposing figure at six feet tall and very big boned, not fat or overweight but large. She carried a fittingly large purse with her and was already eyeing me closely once she stepped in the door. Her dress was a faded rust color with black rose designs all over it. Her daughter was not as traditional, wearing only a pair of slacks, slippers and a blouse. 

The large woman asked for my shirt, which my mother removed from my body and handed over to her. She eyed me closely and the pulled my mother aside.  She told my mother that the house we lived in was built over a burial of three people. They heard my father say that I was not his son many, many, times. They also felt my feelings and heard my thoughts, they knew that my father’s constant reminder of myself not being descended of his blood began to cause me to have no care for anything much less my own life. They wanted to take me with them. 

As for whatever it was that disguised itself as me, the feiteceira told my mother that it was the whole issue of denying an innocent child, that attracted more evil to our home. My mother assured the woman that she loved me and was not going to give me up at any cost but that it was my father who pressed the matter. 

The feiteceira and her daughter then went outside where they stayed for the better part of an hour. I didn't know what they were doing or if they were even coming back. When they finally did come back into the house, the two women told my mother that they explained to the people who were buried under our house that it was all a mistake. They explained that my father spoke from a place of frustration and that he didn’t mean it. 

“Everything should be okay,” the woman said.


The Portuguese woman was only half right. Sure, the people buried under my house felt sorry for me and wanted to take me with them. However, while I was in the hospital where I nearly died twice, other spirits appeared to petition for me. One was a mo’o wahine, another was a disembodied voice I didn't know. Only my father’s late mother made her presence known and it was she that petitioned for my life... and so I lived. 

No comments:

Post a Comment