Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 20, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #42


Dear Brother Reuben,

I felt it proper that someone should know, this way no one should ever think me so low that I have succumbed to the superstitious beliefs of the Hawaiians and the locals. I can never repay the kind favor you have afforded me, even when it seemed that excommunication hovered at my door. My kind parents would have surely turned in their graves as it was their wish that I should devote my life to the service of our Lord.
I thank you, Reuben,  for extending to me your political influence which has indeed protected me from the fingering flames of hell and damnation. I am not wholly ungrateful for the little apartment complex in which you have hidden me. It is like an oasis hidden away in a jungle of high-rises and condominiums. Literally if one were to blink they would miss this little complex entirely, but the goings on here is what comprises this letter. When I was first moved here, the building manager and landlord together entered my studio and with a most somber countenance began to tell me of an unwritten rule which was meant to protect all who live here. At first, I scoffed because I being a servant of the lord could not bring myself to listen to such preposterous yarns concerning the ghosts of Hawaiian warriors who march through the small courtyard of this complex which seems to be the source of social traffic. With serious expressions, they began to say that during the last four moon phases of the Hawaiian lunar calendar, that those who travel in the deep dark night process on an ancient path through the courtyard. They intimated to me that all who live here are monthly given the four dates by which no one is to be near the courtyard where the night marchers are left to their travels. Reuben, it seems that the first architects and owners of this place were one and the same, they were unaware of the cultural significance of the area and straight away built this place directly upon a night marcher's path. The landlord and the building manager presented a paper to me which documents the names of those former residents who perished at the spear point of these unearthly warriors who pass through the courtyard on their monthly journey. As a result, a set of clandestine rules were developed in order to protect both residents and owners. Herein lay my only complaint in regards to this domicile of which you have afforded me; from the safety of my little hobble, I have seen them, Reuben. They exist and their procession is a horrible sight to see and the stench which follows them is unimaginable and unforgettable. The sound of their drums is cavernous and has no end to it, it never leaves the air by which they breathe but they themselves walk silently without touching the ground. Everyone is cautioned not to look at them, but it is only through a small hole in the corner of my curtain that I am able to witness this ungodly display of pagan savagery. I wish it were as simple as a mere display of legerdemain, for I myself would have rebuked the persons involved in such trickery. Alas Reuben, what I have witnessed is as real as the air that flutters a leaf in a tree. Having seen such a thing, does this mean that I am even less penitent than before my present lot in life? As I have mentioned earlier in this letter, I do not begrudge this favor you have afforded me, but if there is some other location to which I could go, it would surely lessen the anxiety in my work to serve our Lord. In that fashion, I would be able to devote myself wholeheartedly and without distraction.


Frederick Gamble


It was a small out of the way church, more like a hole in the wall and it's few devotees were foreigners new to the islands. For a such a free minded people whose ancestors lived in the open and literally depended upon their environment for their own survival, they seemed to have taken to the one and only lord of hosts with such ease. They were mostly families of three or five but they were a kind people and always willing to share and to make sure that Father Gamble himself was well fed and taken care of. However, for such a small group they seemed to have taken to confession on a regular basis and the matters by which they would come to Father Gamble involved everything from gambling to adultery. Others came as a mean by which to brag to the others about having gone to confessional, these same people were professional confessional seekers. They only cared about the act of going to confession, they had no real intention of following any guidance given to them by Father Gamble. One late afternoon, the father sat in the confessional and heard someone come in on the other side, "Bless me, father, for I have sinned, it has been twenty years since my last confession."
It was the voice of a child, clearly, Father Gamble was irritated at the foolish act, he slid back the little door and saw that there was no one there. Save for the few people sitting in the pews, there were no children to be seen. Father Gamble resumed his seat in the confessional and immediately heard the child's voice again, "Father, won't you hear my confession?" Pulling back the little sliding door, he saw a young teenaged girl seated on the other side. "Uh yes, please excuse me, were you here just a moment ago?"

"No father, I've just arrived." The young girl answered.

"I'm sorry, please go on," Father Gamble replied.

'Father, I have held within my heart a horrible secret for many years and now I must confess, otherwise, I may never ascend to heaven when the time comes," there was a mature regret in the young girl's voice that her manner of speaking gave away.

"Please continue," Father Gamble's voice was compassionate and encouraging.

"I was a devout member of another church much like this one, the priest, I mean the father was a young man and very handsome. Our family served the church faithfully and many times when the father and I were alone, he would look at me in a strange way that made me feel nervous and flush, Even during his sermons his gaze would linger in my direction and I could not pull my eyes away from him, one day at a fundraiser for the church I was in the kitchen helping to prepare the potato salad when the father walked in to help me carry the food out to the bingo hall and his hand brushed up against mine, I became dizzy and fainted. He caught me with one hand while holding onto the potato salad with the other, he was so strong. I opened my eyes and put my arms around him and kissed him, he did not resist. Surely we had sinned in the eyes of the lord but what would have been wrong in becoming his wife? It was a new time and priests were allowed to have wives, the two of us carried on in private because I did not want to ruin anything for him but I kept asking him about when we would make it official and let everyone know? He would always assure me that it would be soon, that it is until one day his wife and children showed up. I was crushed and heartbroken and very pregnant, I was sure that once I told him that I was carrying his child he would see the light and know that it was he and I that belonged together."

Indeed, the information was a bit much to take in all of a sudden but he noticed that the young girl had suddenly gone silent. "I'm sorry, would you like to tell me what happened after that?"

"Yes," the young girl continued. "I hung myself from a tree behind the church when I was four months pregnant."

"I'm sorry?" The father reacted incredulously and then was upset, more kids playing tricks. This time he burst out of the confessional and opened the door on the other side, it was empty. There was no one there, "Whoever is doing this better cut it out or I will call the police!"

His voice echoed through the church and made the few people who sat in the pews jump out of their seats. The rest of the day was uneventful, that is until he got back to his little apartment complex, it seemed that everyone was packing up with groceries and cases of water and other supplies.

"Something happening?" He asked the resident in 209. "It's night marchers night, didn't you get the calendar?"

"Oh no, I haven't," Father Gamble replied, unsure what to say.

"They probably slid it under your door," 209 assured him. "You all stocked up? If not, you better head to the store, it's gonna be a long night."

Father Gamble had everything he needed but as soon as the ten 'o clock hour struck, all the lights in the complex went off, apartments went dark and pretty soon the distant sound of conch shells and drums could be heard. Then it seemed as if a hurricane had whipped up out of nowhere as it came from the complex, then there was the sickening smell of sulfur and the sound of chanting in Hawaiian. Through the courtyard, a cadre of numberless Hawaiian warriors passed, all in a line with six to twelve abreast, all marching silently as if they were the very armies of Hannibal the conqueror heading off to his last campaign. It went on like this for four nights every month, and during that time, Father Gamble would be haunted by phantom confessions from people were never really there.


"It's been twenty years since my last confession," the voice of the little boy said. This time Father Gamble decided to indulge the little one and teach him a lesson about lying and deceiving the lord.

"Go on," Father Gamble encouraged him.

"Well, you see father, twenty years ago I didn't have a voice," the little boy began.

"What do you mean?" There it was again, that maturity in a young voice.

"I mean that no one would listen to me and to what I had to say," the little boy confirmed.

"What was it that you had to say?" Father Gamble sensed an urgency in the boy's voice.

" I had to say that you Father Gamble molested me, but who could I tell? I was only eight years of age," the little boy's voice had an edge of doomed finality to it.

Father Gamble nearly took the confessional door off of its hinges and ran to the other side and tore that door open. The confessional was empty, there was no one there, goose bumps ran up and down his spine and he was short of breath. That was the voice of  Michael Cosmo, but he was dead, he died in a car accident with his parents. It was a horrible tragedy, the three of them were devout members of his old church and Father Gamble had always worried about little Michael saying something to his folks and the accident......well the accident solved that problem didn't it?

"Father Gamble?" Came the voice from in front of him. It was a young Filipino girl sitting in the confessional, Father Gamble wasn't sure about how she got past him while he was still standing there. "You look like you've just seen a ghost?"

"I'm sorry, my dear I'm unavailable for the rest of the day," he apologized.

"But don't you want to hear the rest of my confession?" She asked with tears brimming in her eyes.

"The rest of your confessional?" Father Gamble was thoroughly confused.

"Yes, from the other day. I didn't get to finish, we can pick up from the part where I was four months pregnant with your child when I hung myself behind the church," the young girl smiled.

Father Gamble slowly backed away, "Jennifer Ambrosio," he mumbled as he backed peddled for the door.

"You remember me, Frederick! I'm so happy! I was your first do you remember? After that, your depravity knew no end! And right under the nose of your wife and children!" The young Filipino girl made no move to leave the confessional, instead, she patted the space next to her and said, "Come, Frederick, let me tell you all about it!"

After that, Father Gamble contacted his old friend Reuben Avery who was an archbishop in the church and begged him for his help. The two of them went back a long way from the time they were kids growing up in and around Punchbowl. They ran in the same circles together and eventually ended up joining the seminary in order to become priests. Both Gamble and Avery knew way too much about one another's vices and Avery had no choice to help Gamble for fear that Gamble would give him up. Reuben Avery knew about the little complex in town which was built over a night marchers trail, he'd been called to that location on many occasions to bless the individual apartments of owners and residents, but to no avail. The night marchers continued on their monthly path unabated, it was the perfect place to hide someone like Frederick Gamble who would be more concerned about his lot in life and less about who he could take down with him should the threat of excommunication become a reality.


Dear Brother Reuben,

I realize that I must accept my present situation as I am bereft of choices. Your monthly stipend is more than generous and is probably more than any high-ranking state employee may make in a weeks time. I've taken up a new hobby as it occupies my thoughts and lends me a clear focus which takes me away from my other weaknesses. I find that I have indulged in wine and I drink it more often than I should but what would really pickle my liver first? Wine or Whiskey? 
I must tell you that I am protected in this place right out, the ghosts from my past can't reach me here without a confessional. Save for the monthly trek of the night marchers, everything else is fine and peaceful.


Frederick Gamble


The following month on the night of the marchers' procession, the wind had already begun to whip up and in the distance, one could hear the drums and the conch shells. Father Gamble took a peek through the pin-sized hole in his curtain and noticed a little boy seated on the grass with a soccer ball in front of him as he rolled it back and forth. The Father looked at his watch and knew that he had only a moment left before the procession of warriors would arrive, so he dashed out of his door and grabbed the little boy by his hand and began to shout, "HELLO! HELLO! WHOSE CHILD IS THIS? HELLO! WHOSE CHILD IS THIS? COME AND GET HIM QUICK!" Realizing that there was no time left, Father Gamble looked at the little boy and said, "You're going to have to come with me okay? It's not safe here, C'mon!"

Father Gamble made his way toward his little apartment when he was suddenly yanked back to the spot where he just stood. Holding his hand in a vice-like grip was not the little-lost boy, but the ghost of Michael Cosmo instead, "You'd like to take me back to your place, wouldn't you?"

Before Father Gamble could react, Michael's ghost disappeared and in the next moment, the night marchers set upon him. One warrior swiftly disconnected the priest's jaw with a newa stone, another fractured his orbital eye sockets with a ko'i while a third warrior scooped Father Gamble's eyes out with a maka lua. Three other warriors stepped forward and ran the priest through with the infamous eight barbed spears and twisted it around once it was in his esophagus. Soon, he was set upon by more warriors, each taking their turn to deal with the Cowan who dared witness their march as they protected a very sacred, high-ranking chief.


Most Reverend,

We are most grieved to inform you of the death of Father Frederick Gamble who this morning was found horribly murdered in the courtyard of the building where he lived. We were not aware that he had taken residence in such a place, given its reputation. We understand that before entering into the holy life that the two of you were boyhood friends. We offer you our sincere condolences and we pray for the soul of Father Gamble who fell victim to his vices and that the lord will find it in his mercy to forgive him.


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