Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 10, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #83

Where are you going?

“...Well, I came upon a child of God he was walking along the road and I asked him, tell me where are you going? This he told me ..”

The years I spent in the army was unkind and ruthless, being that I was what they called a ‘Buddha Head’ I constantly had two enemies to fight, the Viet Cong and the United States Army. My mistake was figuring that since I was from Hawai’i they wouldn’t lump me together with the other Japanese ka-tonks from the mainland. No such luck, as far as they were concerned we were slant eyed like the VC and we could very well have been spies.
Being that I was slight of build and only five feet four inches tall, I, of course, was a tunnel rat. A helluva job being a tunnel rat, it’s where I learned so many different swear words that could go anywhere in the English language. Especially the word, ‘Fuck’ it was everywhere, in nouns, adverbs, adjectives, pejoratives, you name it. ‘Fuck’ was an all-purpose word and I used it freely. It’s what I did and it’s what would happen to anyone if they weren’t paying attention. So, you see how I carefully avoided talking about what I went through during the war? ‘Fuck’ is also great in redirecting a conversation.

It was July 1997, twenty years ago in fact. I was driving through the neighborhood heading up to the park at the end of the road, the one that led up to the trail in Moanalua Valley. I went there a lot when I needed time to breathe; for some reason, I never got flashbacks in that valley, it was always so calm and peaceful. On this particular day, I hiked a lot further back than I usually do and at one point I took a trail that I never noticed before. Just to be safe, I took my pocket knife out and began to shred the bandana that I’d been wearing into as many strips as I could. Every ten feet along the trail I would tie strips of the bandana to a tree branch or on an overhanging blade of large grass just to mark it in case I got disoriented. The trail brought me along the valley wall to the right, and before I knew it I came upon a larger path that led up to a small rise where the foliage became thick. From what I could see, I was right up against the face of the valley wall. I carefully made my way through the thick grass and the equally thick branches and before I knew it, I was standing at the mouth of a massive cave. I guess because the forest grew right up to the cave entrance, no human soul knew it was there. Luckily, even though this was a day hike, I brought my favorite flashlight. It was immediately apparent that the path into the cave took a gradual slope downward, at the very bottom was something that I was not prepared for. I didn’t know how to react, but one thing I knew for sure is that no one should be in the cave. Yet, there I was.

In Vietnam, there is a different heightened sense that you get when you know the enemy is close, but this was not the same thing. This was fear, pure, raw, and unhinged. At the bottom of the slope was a massive pit of human skeletons all arranged in a position of lying prone with the heads facing three double-hulled canoes. There were smaller canoes positioned between the pit and the larger three with human skeletons in those as well. I don’t recall seeing anything else, no feathered capes or helmets. There was not a trace of tools or weapons; except for the ever-present darkness that lingered just beyond the beam of my flashlight. It was the darkness of the cave that struck fear into my war tested senses because it was alive, that’s the only way I can explain it. It was a living thing, worse than the stifling darkness in those cramped tunnels in Vietnam. I slowly backed out of the cave and found myself slipping a couple of times as I maneuvered up the slope. It seemed like forever before I finally got out of there but once I did, I popped smoke and tore ass down the trail.  As soon as I was back on the main trail I looked at my watch and realized that I had only been in the valley for an hour but it felt like an eternity. Don’t ask me why but after that I knew I had to go to the museum and lead them back to this place.


I was in my car now, fighting the urge to speed down this road that had a speed limit to it but time was of the essence. I really didn’t see this kid until he was walking right alongside my car on the passenger side.

“Where you going Norman?” The boy seemed to be all of eight years old but there was an old man quality to him.

“Whatchoo mean where I going?” Little shit, talking to me like I’m his equal! My kids don’t talk to me that way and they’re all grown up.

“Eh, I asking you da question, where you going Norman?” Now his voice was more condescending as if I were the child and he was the adult. Little bastard, like talk shit? I stopped the car and jumped out all prepared to stomp a mud hole in this kids ass but he was gone. Maybe he ran off and hid somewhere? Better for him.


The next day I was back at the park waiting for the team from the museum, they were late but a few minutes before they showed I noticed a family walking past the gate that led into the valley. That little kid from yesterday was standing at the gate watching me with a bit of anger in his eyes. He shrugged his shoulders and put his hands up, “So what Norman? Where you going?”
Before I could respond by flipping him the bird, the team was already walking up to me. I introduced myself and we exchanged handshakes and were soon on the way to the trail I discovered the day before. It was going to be right where I told them it would be and of course, I found the markers that I’d left. We found the small rise and the profusion of grass and branches, but no cave. It was gone, all that was there was the valley wall but nothing else. We walked a few feet in either direction but no cave opening surfaced, I swore to them that markers were correct and even the longitude and latitude I gave them was not at all faulty. Their eyes told me that they were mad but the team leader intimated to me that he served in Vietnam as well and that maybe I was having an ‘Episode’

“These things happen,” he said as he patted my shoulder and waved his team to follow him out. I just stood there dumbfounded, confused and pissed off. Then, I heard it from behind me, “Where you going Norman?” There he was that little shit, standing right where the cave should have been. “Brah,” I growled at him. “Who da fuck you ‘tink you talking to me like dat? Like me crack you in da mouth hah?”

“This place not for malihini Norman, how you can forget? You no was listening small keed time? Places like dis only for us to see, you understand now? Das why I ask you where you going cause you forget where you were, das why da cave when disappear. When you figure out where you going, da cave come back.” Like I said, for an eight-year-old boy, he sounded like a grouchy old man.

 Walking back out of the valley the boy lingered a few feet behind me without saying a word but I turned around and asked him, “Who you by da way? Whatchu name?”

This little kid just laughed and shook his head, “Das why you dunno where you going Norman, cause you no even know who me!”

He turned and walked back into the valley and from that day on whenever Moanalua allows me to traverse her natural byways, he and I don’t cross paths anymore. People always say that we miss the obvious answer even though it’s standing right in front of us. Sometimes, we’re so caught up in the drama that life writes out for us that we forget the answer is not somewhere out there to be found in a religion or a romance or the counsel of a psychic. It’s found when we look in the mirror. The day I finally looked in the mirror was the day that I realized that the little eight-year-old boy who pissed me off so much that I wanted to smack him, was in fact myself.

But that still doesn’t explain the mysterious cave.

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