Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 5, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #27


"I've been drivin' all night, my hands are wet on the wheel.
There's a voice in my head that drives my heel.
My baby call said I need you here.

It's half past four and I'm shifting gears..."

In the early mornings, before I drop my wife off at work, we usually stop at a drive-thru for her coffee and some breakfast. After taking her to her office, I return to the parking lot of that same drive-thru to finish my eggs, rice, and spam.
It's about this same time that a group of elderly gentlemen gathers in the same parking lot where they park their classic cars next to one another and then head over to the same eatery where they bring their food out to their rides and gather for conversation and an exchange of memories. They're all debonair and well groomed and not at all dressed like the true mechanics that they are, but under that fine clothing is a deep respect for their craft of reincarnating a classic form by painstaking, careful, customization. I haven't got a mechanical bone in my body but I do admire fine art in many forms and mediums and this is one of them. Men like this have been around for as long as I can remember. This morning as they jumped into their finely tuned cars and drove out of the parking lot single file, I noticed that one of their numbers had been left behind. It was a car that I'd never seen among their group before, so either this car was staying back or he was a loner. It was a dark 57 Chevy. It was shiny and new like the other classics but there was something about it; I couldn't stop looking at it. No matter, I started my car because I had places to go and a lot of work which needed my attention. When I turned the key over nothing happened, no clicks no lights, nothing. I turned the key over several times with no result, finally, I got out and popped the hood open and for some reason, I knew it was the battery.

"Battery?" A voice came from my left, it was a younger guy dressed in black jeans, black cowboy boots, and a black sleeveless shirt, hair slicked back, thick black wristbands and black fingernail polish. What timing, he may as well have read my mind.

"Yeah, I think it's dead. I'll walk over to the store here and get one, thanks though!" I told him so that he wouldn't have to worry about giving me a jump.

"I got a spare battery in my car, brand new; I could put it in no problem," he offered. Looking him over again and then looking over at his car, I couldn't help but notice that it was a really wicked looking ride. Before I could politely refuse, he was already walking back to his car. Opening his trunk, he removed a black car battery and an oblong black leather case.

"Really bro, I can just go buy one, it's not a problem," I reassured him that I didn't need the favor, I was fine.

"You sure? If it's money you're worried about it is not a big deal, I got boxes of 'um. One battery on the house isn't gonna hurt me, believe me." In no time he was at my car and removing my old battery and replacing it with the one from his trunk. "Go ahead and start up your car, see what happens."

I sat behind the wheel of my Dodge and it came to life with no effort, except that all the little quirks and idiosyncracies were gone. It almost purred like a cat when you pet it a certain way. I reached into my wallet and removed the only hundred dollar bill I had left and offered it to the guy, but he put his hand up and refused it. "It's on the house man, for real."

"Are you sure? This battery looks like it's custom, I should get something for it." I really felt bad taking the battery at no cost.

"Well, of course, I won't take cash for it but what else do you have?" He looked directly at me or more like he looked right through me.

"Hey, if you're a pervert or something then just please take your battery, I don't need any bullshit right now," I was dead serious and ready to kick his ass if I had too, but he was younger and in better shape than me.

He laughed and looked at me, "I'm no pervert, I'm just trying to bargain is what would you give for the battery? A lucky knife? An old coin? You know, something of value?"

I glanced up and looked at his car again I found myself repeating the same thing I'd said in my head from before, "It's a wicked ride bro,"

"It takes somebody wicked to drive it," he replied. I looked at him and chuckled but he didn't chuckle back, he was absolutely serious about what he just said. "You wanna sit in it? Take a ride, maybe drive it around the parking lot a couple of times?"

"Naaaaahhh," I was hesitant at first but I found myself following this guy back to his car. He held the door open for me and gestured as if he wanted me to take a seat. "Go ahead man, try it out."

I stood there and looked at the interior, everything was black, even the tinting. Again, he read my mind, "The police never say anything about the tinting if that's what you're worried about, go ahead, get in."

Something made me look at him just as I stood a foot away from entering the chevy, "You didn't say what you wanted in exchange for the battery?"

"Let me ask you something," I could see the wheels turning in his head. "What's the one thing that you really want?"

 I thought about it for a second and I replied, "A big house for my wife and kids, a happy life from now and for the next several generations of my family."

"That's a great wish to really is," he began to shed tears but I wasn't sympathetic, there was something about him that irritated me. He was mocking me, making fun of my interest like I was beneath him. "I can make all of that come true for you, but as a sign of good will, why don't you have a seat in my car since you like it so much? Try it out!"

I slid behind the steering wheel and was instantly overcome by the smell of sulfur, as I began to fade out the last thing I heard was myself asking this guy, "You still didn't say what you wanted to for the car battery?" 

In the distance, his voice answered, "Your soul dude, I want your soul."


When I woke up, the digital clock on the radio tells me it's 1:15 in the afternoon, text messages and voicemails are blowing up my phone. I'm sitting in my car and the guy with the battery is sitting next to me in the passenger seat. "I've been told that I have to apologize so I'm sorry! Looks like you got a pass," he tells me but it makes no sense.

I've got a pounding headache and nothing is registering, "What the hell are you talking about? Did you just say you wanted my soul?"

"That doesn't matter anymore," he was frantic now, no longer the cool customer when I first met him four hours ago. "Don't you understand? You get a pass! You're protected! No one can touch you, no one except death when he comes to get you years from now! And even then, nobody on my side can do anything. I've been told that you can keep the battery for free, it's on the is yours!"

He slides out of the car and I ask him, "You never said what your name was?" He reaches in and shakes my hand with a smirk on his face, "It's Scratch......asshole."

He slaps me on the forehead with the palm of his hand and I'm out again, I wake up a short time later with my spam, eggs, and rice breakfast in my lap and my plastic fork in my hand. My vision is blurry as I look across the parking lot and the old gentlemen are still there with their beautiful classic cars parked next to each other. Their conversations continue as per usual and I put off what just happened to me like a dream because the dark colored 57 Chevy chop top is nowhere to be found. I drive off but slowly, but I want to idle by and admire the beauty of these vehicles. One of the older men, dressed in a formal looking Cuban top and pressed pants with impeccable shoes walks up to my passenger's side door and places both arms on the window well. 

"Scratch didn't know who you were until we told him, we've got your back, you'll be fine." He winked and walked away and made a twirling motion with his finger. Everybody got into their cars and drove off to the freeway single file, they took that right turn at the traffic light and beyond that, I can honestly tell you that I did not see these cars get on to the freeway once they drove past a big monkey pod tree next to the intersection, they just vanished. I think I'll eat my breakfast at home from now on, the drive may be lengthy but it's better than running with the devil.

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