Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 29, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #95

Uncle Leonard

The Wai'anae of my childhood memories are like old black and white pictures that only exist in antiquated family photo albums or in the hush of late night discussions with the adults huddled around the dinner table. Raw corned beef on a plate with Hawaiian salt and onions were the evening pupu along with an open can of sardines and a large bowl of poi. As if that were not enough, a pot of Portuguese bean soup with home made sweet bread was always available should the smaller hand foods not be enough.

As the winds from the ocean unfolded down the length of Kaukamana street,
it would eventually find its way through the branches of our mock orange flowers and carry its scent into our living room. It was about that time that most of the adults had just enough Primo beer in their system that they would brave the fates and begin to talk about their own personal ghost stories. Gathered around the table was my hanai father and mother, Aunty Ruby, Johnny Martin senior and junior, Kenneth Stevens and his wife Mary. Mr. and Mrs. Cordero and Mr. and Mrs. Kaneshiro. The Salcedos had already moved by this time so they were not present. The accounts or shared tales of hearsay related on behalf of someone’s aunt or cousin easily opened the way for more participants to contribute their own experiences. At the same time, an atmosphere manifested among the small group of adults that naturally moved their physical forms to draw closer together as the night wore on. Was it fear or the unwillingness to show fear? Was it a visage of bravery that each was emboldened to wear because the tenants of their Catholic faith demanded it? Or was it the only tether they could depend upon to bring them back once they’d gone too far?

On this evening only uncle Leonard would breach the limits of paralyzing fear and not a one among the participants would leave unchanged by the tale which unfurled itself before them.


Uncle Leonard was tall, lanky and walked with a forward gait. He was a darker mix of Portuguese and spoke a bit slower than the rest, but he had a heart of gold. Even as I share this story with all of you these forty-five years later, I am a bit melancholy as I cannot remember what became of Uncle Leonard. However, I can hear his deep slow voice during this midnight hour as I now transpose those memories from my mind to paper. He sat there at the quaint kitchen table wearing a pair of black slacks that were too short for him and a faded aloha shirt which must have come from the local thrift store. The Primo beer had already worked its way into his system as he’d previously consumed three bottles and was now at work on his fourth. His eyes were a bit blood shot and the natural smile he wore was now ten times bigger being that he was nearly sauced. But something happened when he began to tell everyone about the experience that caused him to be ‘slow’ as he put it. He certainly assured everyone that at a previous time in his life before he came into the acquaintance of every adult seated at the table, that he was once a man of brilliant intelligence who stood upright and erect. His natural smile came as a result of possessing an amiable disposition, whereas now people perceived him to have the mind of a child. The occupation he once held was that of an overseeing supervisor for the longshoremen on the docks of Honolulu Harbor and sand island, much contrary to the job which he held during that time, cleaning the floors and stocking the shelves at Dang’s store. The way in which he came into such a miserable condition happened on a late night while standing on the Pa’akea bridge over Ma’ili’ili stream. He would recount that the moon was absent from the night sky and that the atmosphere was so dark that he could not see his own hand in front of him. It was deathly quiet and not even the sound of crashing waves from the beach nearby could be heard. Without a thought, Leonard said he began to whistle to himself, completely forgetting the stern advice given him by his parents while growing up. It was a cautionary warning against whistling at night, for fear that one was calling upon the devil himself. Leonard shared that he could not recall the length of time for which he whistled but that there suddenly appeared an old Hawaiian man with white hair and a white beard dressed in a dark suit with, a black tie and a white shirt beneath. Leonard said that the Hawaiian man’s manifestation was so shocking to him that he screamed with such surprise that he simultaneously passed air. The man in front of him did not appear to notice, but instead asked of Leonard,

“Did you want something?”

“Huh?” Leonard asked as he clearly did not understand the content of the question. “Want what?”

“You called me, so you must want something? What is it?” The Hawaiian man stated. Now Leonard saw that smoke surrounded the Hawaiian man, but that he held no cigarette in his hand.

“Shit, I didn’t call you!” Leonard replied completely unnerved.

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you that when you whistle near a bridge late at night that you are summoning me? You whistled, I’m here. What do you want?” Leonard intimated that the realization of what was then transpiring struck him with such fear that his body immediately felt as if it were covered with filth. He could not even frame his speech to pronounce the name right, even though who knew who it was.

“You’re him,” Leonard stammered with fear, the name would not leave his mouth.

“Him, me, yes.” The Hawaiian man confirmed.

“I’m sorry,” Leonard’s tone was one who begged for his very life. “I take it back, I’ll just go now.”

“No,” the Hawaiian man countered. “It doesn’t work that way, you whistled at a late hour on a bridge, thereby summoning me. You can’t just take it back and leave unmarked.”

Leonard confessed that before he could turn and flee, the devil placed his open palm on the top of his head and that was all that he could recollect. When he awoke it was still dark and his head felt as if it were on fire. He quickly made his way home and looked in the mirror, and separated his hair. He saw an angry red scar that was shaped like a dog. The adults sitting around the kitchen table were too mortified to say anything, but Leonard leaned forward across the table and parted his hair so that everyone could see the animal like mark that was left by the devil. As soon as all were close enough, Leonard suddenly lunged forward and began barking loudly like a dog,


All who were present jumped back and screamed and my hanai father nearly tumbled backward over his chair. Leonard could not help but laugh at the joke that was made at their expense, but the merriment was short lived as a loud pounding knock came at the front door.

“Who da hell is that this late?” My father bellowed.

“It’s me,” the voice replied. “I see all the lights on so I wondered why you all were up so late?”

Aunty Ruby got up off of her chair and opened the door, there standing on the porch with a bag of groceries and a six pack of beer was Leonard, except that he was dressed in his work uniform. Everyone glanced back at where they thought Leonard was seated but he was gone, in his place was the horrible aroma of a wet dog. The collective screams of all who were present could be heard all the way to Ma’ili beach park. It certainly woke the entire neighborhood, that’s for certain.

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