Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 4, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #58


Kaniau place is a little lane just off of Waipahu depot road. Back in 1976, I remember seeing the flames burning the old school building at August Ahrens Elementary school from our house. We all walked up the street that night and watched it burn to the ground. In our front yard we had a guava tree and in the backyard was a tall mango tree that gave me peace and solace whenever I would sit in its high branches in order to decompress from my thirteen-year-old teenage worries.
Our neighbor was Mr. Tanaka and he was up there in age but he loved to watch us play karate in our front yard and often times he would come over to give us five fingers or star fruit. One Saturday afternoon Mr. Tanaka asked my father if my cousin and I could come over to his house to help throw away all the rubbish from his hallway closet. It was a fun afternoon and we made five dollars each; back then five dollars went a long way. I can’t really recall the details of the interior of Mr. Tanaka’s house, but what I can tell you is that even in broad daylight, my cousin and I heard footsteps running up and down Mr. Tanaka’s hallway but there wasn’t anyone there, however, the sound was unmistakable.

I remember asking Mr. Tanaka what was making the sound of the little footsteps, he smiled and said, “Usutsuki Warashi,” after that he went right back to work. Later that same night and the nights that followed after, I would hear the pounding of little feet all over his house. You could hear it running through his living room to his kitchen and all the bedrooms. Mr. Tanaka’s son’s name was Kevin and whenever the uneasy sound of the pounding footsteps would occur, I could hear Kevin yelling at his father to do something but Mr. Tanaka’s reply was always in a hushed tone. It happened more often than I care to think about, but one afternoon I was out in the front yard watering my mother’s roses and Kevin Tanaka walked up to the other side of the fence and said, “Eh, go tell your mother and father them that my dad passed away this morning.”

I offered my sympathies and cried because who was going to cheer me on when I was doing my Kata in my yard? Who was going to sneak five finger star fruit to me? Suddenly for some unknown reason, I asked Kevin about what made that noise with the loud footsteps and everything?

“Oh, plantation time had me and my younger brother and baby sister, things were tough and we were kinda low on food and everything and it was a real struggle, especially with an extra mouth to feed. So, my dad and mom had to get rid of our sister, so they buried her inside the tool shed. Then one night me and my brother began to hear somebody running through the house and pounding the walls and shaking the doors, we were so scared we couldn't sleep. Other nights we would hear the floor boards creaking like someone was walking really slow, back and forth in front of our bedroom door. We wake up in the morning and get little dirt foot prints up and down the hallway. My brother and me finally told our folks about what was happening and they said it was, “Usutsuki Warashi” our sister didn’t get a chance to live and be a kid and so now she was doing it in the after life.”

Kevin’s explanation was to the point and not painted up nice, afterward, he walked away and went back into his house. A month later, after the services for Mr. Tanaka were done, Kevin moved out and ended up selling the house. The house itself was empty for a long time, some days I would be in the front yard playing Karate with my cousin and I’d glance over to the empty house and I would see the ghost of Kevin’s sister and another little Japanese girl staring at me through their window but Kevin had only mentioned one sister. It was very unnerving. A year later we had to leave our house and move in with my hanai sister because my mom had a stroke and no one was home during the day to take care of her. The day that we were finally leaving was a sad day for me because I loved that place and I hated leaving. My father and brothers were lifting things and moving items into the big flatbed that my older brother borrowed from his job, right then I remembered that I had forgotten something very important. I crawled under the house and looked for the popsicle stick markers that I'd left in the dirt, there it was....Whew! I began to dig furiously and I found it! It was my Zaboga utility belt that lit up really brightly and made crazy noises, what was cool about it was that you could also attach the belt to the middle of your handle bars on your bicycle when you were riding around at night. It was a very cool headlight. I buckled the utility belt around my waist and turned to crawl back out and that's when I saw her, she sat on the dirt just in front of the little-latched gate that I came in through. It was the ghost of the girl from next door, but sitting beside her was another Japanese girl that appeared to be the same age and same height as she was. The little girl pointed to the dirt space right in front of her and with her two hands, she mimed the motion to dig. For some reason, I was not afraid, I did what she asked and dug out the dirt right where she sat.


Last night I searched google maps for my old house on Kaniau street and I was very sad to see that it was no longer there. It had been long since replaced by a two story concrete monstrosity with a smaller house off to the side where our garage used to be. The mango tree was still there but the old front yard along with the roses which my mother planted was gone as well. It in its place were weather worn concrete pots with neglected bougainvillea growing out of them. There were so many birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, and new years celebrated in that old house. There were hardships that went along with the growing pains of being a teenage boy and a firm reminder every now and then from my father that I still had to know my place whenever I got too big for my britches.
I also couldn't help but wonder if they ever found the remains of an unknown and un-named Japanese girl child on the property when they leveled my former home? If so did they ever find out that our old house once belonged to Mr. Tanaka's brother, who like his older sibling, fell on hard times and thinned out his family by sacrificing his youngest daughter so that the rest of the family could eat? Unlike his older brother, the younger Tanaka buried his daughter under the house instead of in the garage or tool shed. It's funny, the sort of memories that surface when you have too much time to think. Oh well, back to work.

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