Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 27, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017 #97

Fixing a Hole

I moved to Kaua’i and found a small one bedroom apartment in Lihue, the place didn’t seem like much but the most important thing was that there was a 7-11 close by. I was also surprised to have found a job within the first week of moving to the garden isle seeing as how it’s such a small community; jobs are not easy to come by. Fortunately, Kaua’i was a growing town because of foreign developers who were buying up parcels of land. Sure, the Hawaiians and the locals were not happy about any kind of development but in the end, money talks. The job I got is simple, dig a hole and place the dirt on the back of a truck or pile it on the side and let the crew do the rest. The crew is a bunch of good guys, simple. Never been anywhere outside of Kaua’i and never planning to go anywhere else or be anything more and that’s cool. I acclimate myself to them because I want to be no one and go nowhere. The only troublesome thing is seeing the ghosts of road
workers while on the job. They just stand there along that long stretch of road through Anahola and other places looking lifeless and forlorn. I’m not certain if anyone else can see them so I keep my visions to myself, so to say. After a few months, the guys finally feel that I’m okay enough to invite to a family party; the one who extends the invite is the boss, Henry Ka’ula. It’s a humble home in Puhi just off of Leleiona Street and it’s filled to overflowing with people; an easy five-minute drive from where I live near the Wal-Mart. Henry introduces me around and I’m friendly enough to be noticed but not enough for anyone to want to indulge me any sort of serious or lengthy conversations. I keep my distance. There’s a younger crowd that is gathered around a bunch of modified cars out on the street, obviously the trouble makers. I make sure that I greet them and show them respect at the same time; it turns out that the lead troublemaker is Henry’s son Mu.

“Ever need anything Uncle, just let me know, I take care of you,” he offers while using his beer bottle to gesture his intentions.

His father ignores him and walks me through a path along side his home where it leads to the backyard. Seated on a very long wooden bench are my work mates and their spouses and girlfriends.

“Eh! ‘Kaimuki!” they all shouted. I was okay enough to be given a nickname, ‘Kaimuki’, the place I come from. They wave me over and hand me a beer, the second I take a seat a plate of food is set in front of me and I began to eat immediately.

“Eat,” Henry cajoled me in a way that was friendly and not at all demanding. “We wen cook plenty f ofood brah so eat up, no shame!”


As the night goes on there are more introductions to other family members and neighbors; things eventually quiet down until it was just a smattering of people, myself, and Henry sitting in the backyard enjoying a few beers and some snacks.

“So, what you did before you came Kaua’i brah?” Henry asked as he continued to eat his food with his hands.

“Teacher,” I was almost reluctant to indulge in the conversation seeing as how delectable the barbecued ribs were. The meat melted right off the bones.

“Teacha?” He was surprised and gave me a once over glance. “Why you quit dat job fo’ work construction?”

“Honolulu was too much.…….just too much,” I nodded and let everyone see the emotional build up that would never be verbalized. I let my body language do the talking.

Henry didn’t pry any further, instead, he offered me a beer and then changed his mind and handed me a can of coca-cola. After that, he changed his mind again and placed the bottle of beer next to the can of soda. “Since you one teacha, I dunno if you drink or not, but just in case, I go leave the beer.”
As the evening went on, Henry and the rest of the guys from work gravitate toward the hibachi where the steak was still being grilled along with some oysters and some vegetables. There seems to be an endless supply of beer because no one is without the green bottle in their hands for too long. The conversation is mostly about work and everyone goes on about the details of past jobs and rumors which surrounded other job sites. I can’t help but notice that the women who sit on the bench are having the kinds of conversations that only a group of women can have. By the end of the night, some of those same women have to help their husband or boyfriend to his car after having one too many of the green bottled libation. A few go over and begin to run their hands all over their female counterparts, a sure fire sign that some hot two-second sex will happen later or that they will fall dead asleep once they hit the sack. No fights though, of course, there’s some posturing and beating of the proverbial war shield but nothing beyond that. It seems that even in their intoxicated state, they are beholden to some sort of unspoken code of conduct. It is the same while on the job, there will be disagreements but never to the point where fisticuffs are the solution. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that this was all a show, put on just for me.

“What brah? Girlfriend or ex-wife?” Henry nudged me with his elbow, a sure indication that what ever my answer was going to be, he was already prepared to offer sage like advice. “Or you owe somebody money and you gotta hide out?”

“Why would you say that?” I curious as to where this was going to lead.

“Brah, das usually da reason one local braddah move Kaua’i, haoles come cause day wen buy land or dey going LIKE buy land or dey one bunch of lazy ass hippies who no like work. So, must be you running away from someten?” Henry is a little smarter than I give him credit for. “Hahd brah wen come to one broken haht and feelings and all dat kine stuff.”

The veteran member of the work crew takes a seat across the table from myself and Henry, in front of him is a pile of barbecued meat on his plate and an ever higher pile of rice next to it. In front of his plate are two bottles of the green stuff. His name is Carlton, one look at him gives you the impression that he is filled with nothing but a vapid offering of thoughts and conversation. For the short time that I know him, he doesn’t say much, but every now and again, he has a few pearls of wisdom to offer.

“Kaimuki is good, he no complain, you ask him for do someten, he do ‘um.” He jabs a few bits of food in his mouth and looks thoughtfully at Henry. “I neva mean fo’ jump inside da convasation, but I stick up for Kaimuki, he one good braddah.”

Henry nods, “Das good and das da main ‘ting Kaimuki, no complain, just do yo’ job. We no work, our family no eat, everybody go hungry.”

There’s a short moment of silence as I show Henry that I’ve understood and absorbed the wise words which he has just shared. A few more bites of food and couple of more sips of the soda and I ask Henry if it’s alright that I use his facilities. Henry gives his consent and walks me halfway into the house and points to a flight of stairs which lead up to the second floor.

“Top of da steps to da right,” he points.

“Nice place,” I can’t help but notice how the interior is entirely made of finely crafted woods.

“I wen build ‘um myself, da boys wen help small kine but dis house was my wife’s present, fo’ make her happy,” he smiled. “Brah, wen your haht pau broke, I go introduce you to somebody, get pleeenny good kine wahine on Kaua’i, I go show you one day.”

He returned to his bench outside and I found my way upstairs to the bathroom. The good thing about this job is that I didn’t have to go in too deep, but I’m not sure if coming to this party was the right thing. However, being anti-social wouldn’t have helped either, I needed to assimilate so that there wouldn’t be any suspicion later on. When I was done using the bathroom, I pulled the door open and there was a young local woman with her hand on the door knob, I guess she hadn’t figured that there was someone in here. We were both startled for a second and I apologized and made my way past her.

“Oh sorry!” She giggled, she looked like she was in her mid-twenties, dressed in a cotton tank top and
Daisy Dukes shorts. There were bracelets all over her wrists and she reeked of peppermint schapps, she was exceptionally beautiful, but at her age, she was still a slave to her vices.

“No problem,” I replied and made sure that no eye contact was exchanged.

“I’m Analia, I’m Henry’s daughter,” she was still giggling, and still standing there as if she expected the awkward conversation to continue.

“Okay well, you go do your thing,” I took a wide arc around her and made my way down stairs.


By the end of the evening, everyone exchanged their hugs and good-byes with the promise that we would all be in each others company come Monday morning, right back on the job. Young Mu, gave me the slap handshake and reassured me that he’d have my back if ever needed. I acknowledged his pledge and gave him the peace sign in return. My car was parked a block up the road and with an armload of plates of food covered in tin foil and another plastic bag filled with beer and soda, I fumbled for the keys in my pocket.

“Let me do that,” it was Analia. Without much effort, she reached into my jeans pocket and removed my car keys. “Which key is it?” She asked. “The one with the green tape on it,” I replied. She walked over and opened the door and took some of the bags out of my hand and placed them on the back seat.

“My dad said you might need some help, so he sent me over.” She smiled and handed my keys back to me.

“Appreciate it, thank you,” I got in but before I could start my car up I noticed that she was still standing there.

“You’re not like this other gu...” I drove off, never giving her the chance to finish what she was going to say because I didn’t want to hear it, I had no time for it.


I’d stocked up on enough things from Wal-Mart and other places so that I wouldn’t have the need to come out of my apartment over the weekend. Considering how small the island is, I didn’t want to run into anyone. Luck would have it that late Saturday night I had a craving for pretzels. Sure enough, as I made my way to the 7-11 next door, there was Mu with his charges taking up all the parking and blasting their music too loud. I turned around and went back to my apartment complex and got into my car and drove into the parking lot and found a space. The last thing I needed was for Mu to know that I lived right next door. He hadn’t noticed me until I walked out of the establishment, then he bellowed out my name and sauntered over with his practiced pimp walk in order to give me a hug. That’s when I saw Analia sitting in the back of a Chevy Avalanche, we made eye contact and she adeptly jumped out of the truck bed and walked over to me with a look of feigned disappointment.

“You just took off and didn’t let me finish what I was going to say,” she pouted.

“Go away Analia, no boddah him,” Mu was aggravated by his sister’s interruption

“Thanks, Mu, say hi to your Dad for me!” Analia ran past and inserted herself between me and my car.

“You have to let me finish what I was going to say!” Just my luck, she wasn’t drunk or stoned or both, which means that what I’m seeing is her true personality. I looked back at Mu for some help only to see him involved in a serious make-out session with a girl in the back of a customized truck.

“Listen,” I said. “I know this speech because I’ve heard it a million times. I’m not like most guys, because I’m different. What you don’t understand is that I’m only different because I’m the new guy and I’m not from here, that’s all it is.” I took a step around her to open my car door but she blocked me again.

“You don’t have the hands of somebody who works for a road crew, and you don’t talk like my dad and his friends do and they’ve noticed it. You were only invited to our place because they wanted to see what you were like off the job.” She said. “That’s what I was trying to say before you drove off last night.”

“Did I pass the test?” I asked.

“My dad doesn’t let just anyone into his circle, it takes a long time before he lets that happen. He’s only known you less than a few months, so that means something, remember that.” She took a dramatic step to one side and let me get into my car.


This wasn’t the easy nut to crack so to say, they’ve figured out that I’m not someone who was born to this kind of work, but I did manage to convince Henry that I was on the mend from an emotional break up and that it was bad enough that I had to leave Honolulu. Nothing suspicious about that, but was it enough of a reason to doubt me and take my life? Monday morning Henry and two other workers were already at the base yard, apparently, a sizable sinkhole opened up near the back gate where all the equipment was parked. Everything had to be driven and moved to one side of the yard before the asphalt was ready to pour, Henry stood on one side and next to him was Carlton and on the other side of the hole was Mu. That was a surprise, in the short time I’d been here I would never have taken Mu for the hard-working type, well, not the legitimate working type. I asked Henry where the rest of the crew was and he said that they were already on the road but that it would have to be the four of us to fix the sinkhole. We each grabbed a shovel and got ready to fill the gaping opening with asphalt.

“I heard you seen my kids da oddah night?” Henry asked while he shoveled the loose black tarmac around.

“Yeah, at the 7-11,” I confirmed.

“Sorry about my Analia, dat kid, she too smaht fo’ her own good. She always like know everything, kinda get lili bit irritating, I hope she neva’ bodday you too much hah?” Henry apologized, he loved his kids obviously, but he also knew that they both had personalities which could rub people the wrong way.

“No, no, it’s okay,” I reassured him. “I wasn’t offended.”

“Good, good,” Henry nodded. “So what Kaimuki, you on Kaua’i fo’ little while or what you going do? You one good guy and I like to keep you on da job, but no make sense if you only going dig aftah little while, you know what I mean?”

“I have no plans to go anywhere,” my reply was direct and honest. There really wasn’t much else that occupied my time except for the reason that I was sent here.

This was about the time that everything went to shit in one fell swoop. Henry bit his bottom lip and looked off into the distance as if there was something churning around in his mind. He gazed at me for a second and said, “Das good brah, because we not just one nine to five job, we tight. We one tight ‘ohana and we look out fo eachoddah, just like my son Mu. I know dis not his ‘ting but when I ask him fo’ come help on da job, he comes and he no complain. Working on cars, das what he love but wen he come help, I appreciate it. Wen dis business wen first start Carlton was my first workah. Only had me and him but he da one wen put togedah da crew we got today. One time wen Carlton wen need one loan fo’ one car for his wife and kids, I wen give him da money and little by little he wen pay me back. Same ‘ting when he wanted fo’ buy one house, I wen loan him da money and he wen pay ‘um back. Now, Carlton is like one son to me and one braddah fo’ Mu. So you see how work now right?” Without a hint of a warning, Henry drew his shovel back and with a sharp swing and hit Carlton on the head and sent him crashing to the dirt pavement. Carlton held on to his head and groaned in pain, he was on the verge of tears when Mu took a gun out of his pocket and fired one subsonic round from his 22 caliber into the back of the foreman’s head. A round like that either penetrates the skull or bounces around inside it, either way, Carlton was dead.

“Das why,” Henry began, “aftah all that I cannot understand why Carlton would rat me out to dah feds?”

Mu walked over to me and pointed the gun at my heart, now THAT was the Mu that I always knew was in there. Like his sister, he was expressing his true nature. Couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

“So what Kaimuki? You seen someten, or you nevah seen someten?” Henry’s face was without expression, he’d done this a few times before obviously.

“I haven’t seen anything,” I answered without even flinching.

“Good, Mu going show you how fo’ work da steam rollah aftah we bury Carlton in the hole,” Henry’s instructions were filled with a sense of feigned melancholy but it was only for show, something that was very well practiced in order to gain a twisted sense of sympathy from the people in his life. That could also explain the ghosts of all those road crew people I kept seeing alongside the Kaua’i roads. The great thing about Henry having done something like this a thousand times is that he’d also become complacent, that only served to work in my favor. With Mu’s gun still pointing at me, I climbed up on the steam roller and pretended to reach down for one of the gear shifts, instead, I removed my kel-tec P11 9mm from the inside of my work boot and fired one shot right between Mu’s eyes. Henry had no time to react from what he’d just heard, I was right in front of him in the blink of an eye and put one talon round through his knee. He crumbled to the ground in pain before he could even think about running.

“You know dah rule, nobody supposed to interfere in Kaua’i business, it’s bad luck!” Henry screamed.

“I don’t get bad luck, I bring it.” I took a step closer and drew the hammer back as Henry closed his eyes and put his head down. The realization washed over him as his skin turned beet red and he began to take in deeper breaths.

“Whose contract dis supposed to be?” Henry hissed.

“The contract is for your wife,” I confirmed, but Henry, still clueless expressed an understanding that he’d figured out the ruse. He was wrong of course.

“Oh you got in tru dah side doa.…pretty good you,” the pain was excruciating but he was doing well. Most people either throw up or die from the shock.

“This stupid display you put on just made things more difficult; your wife burned a lot of bridges and my clients have been looking for her for a long time. You were partly right about why people move here, your wife needed to hide out, and where better than being married to a local mob boss whose business front is a road crew? Once she got wind of what you were doing, she realized that your incarceration was worth a lot more than what you accumulated over the years. She saw dollar signs, book deals, talk shows, and even movies. All she had to do was turn you in. I’ll guarantee that it was your wife who convinced you that Carlton layed down for the feds. You believed her and now his wife is a widow and his kids are orphans for nothing. ” I said.

“You can at lees gimme one chance fo’ go home and kill her!!” He was more furious at himself than he was at me.

“Can’t do that, you played your hand and that’s one too many cooks in the kitchen.” One talon round between his eyes and he was done. I had to work quickly, I went back and dragged Mu’s body to the place where he first stood. As for Carlton? He was completely innocent as far as his alleged betrayal of Henry, but in a sense, I could help him live on. I exchanged clothing with Carlton, shoes, and yes, underwear. I replaced his wallet, keys, and phone with mine. It would work, we were about the same height and build, the only thing is that we didn’t look alike. Shit, I didn’t want to have to fix that problem but I was left with no choice, I went back to my car and got out the shotgun. When the crew returned, they found what they thought was my body, except that my face was completely blown off. The shotgun would be found in Henry’s arms, my gun, after it was wiped completely clean of prints would be placed in Carlton’s right hand, the authorities could figure it out later. I got into Carlton’s vehicle and headed to Puhi. On the way, I saw the road crew and quickly put on a hat that lay on the passenger's seat. Pulling the brim down, I waved and kept going. The boys screamed and yelled and swore as I continued to drive past them without even bothering to acknowledge their salutations. They were just the eyewitnesses I needed to verify that they saw Carlton that same day.

“Carlton you faka!!!”


I was surprised to see the ghosts of other road crew workers lining the side of the road as I passed Kaua’i community college. They never appeared before, why now? There seemed to be more of them for some reason, even on the road leading up to Henry’s house. I had no time to find out, that would have to wait for another time. 15 minutes later, Velma Ka’ula would see Carlton’s vehicle pull up in front of her house, a second later she would receive a text from him on her phone, “Henry said to bring some food from Number 1, kinda hot. Can come get um?”

“That Carlton,” she said to herself. “Why doesn’t he just bring the food inside instead of texting?”

Standing at the vehicle for a second, no one saw Velma get in as it drove off and never returned. A couple of boys from Omao who were on an illegal trek to extract fish from the Menehune pond came across Velma Ka’ula’s body three days later, she’d been shot through the back of the head. The coroner’s report would say that the bullet bounced around the inside of her skull and did severe damage before exiting through her left eye.

Carlton’s vehicle would be found at the airport, on his seat would be a work ID from a female rent-a-car agent that I purposely bumped into while pretending to exit the parking lot on foot. As far as anyone knew, Carlton picked up and left Kaua’i to be with another woman. His wife and kids would never see him again. The authorities were going to have fun trying to figure out who exactly killed who in that work yard, I was dead, that was for sure, at least my alias self-was.
On the flight back I had time to think about the fate of all those ghosts who appeared in broad daylight as far as Anahola, Kalihiwai, and in remote locations on the west side. Was that the result of Henry’s handy work, or that of his fathers and forefathers before him?
It’s an unusual thing to contemplate, that the highways and byways of our island state are paved with the very blood, sweat, tears, and lives of the men who made it so. I imagine that when the time comes for my damnation when someone comes to exact their revenge upon me for a loved one of theirs that I killed, it will either be sudden and unexpected, or long and drawn out. Either way, I’m certain that whatever scenario it is that comes to be, that the ghosts of those whose lives were forfeit for their faults will be there to witness my demise. For that I am prepared, it’s no less than what I expect.

No comments:

Post a Comment