Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 10, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #51


I was very much involved in getting into my car and heading back to my hotel room in Manchester. Not England, but New Hampshire.
I was there for a business meeting which I'd finished early. That gave me a moment to stop in at a local diner and order a take out. I was standing at the door of the rental car with the bag of food in one hand and the keys in the other when I half noticed another patron exiting the diner as well. It wasn't until he walked past me while singing a tune to himself did the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end.

" Woe this crazy circumstance, I knew his life deserved a chance,"

I froze right where I stood. My antenna went up, and I listened with more acute hearing than I'd done in years.

"How beautiful if nothing more, than to wait at Zion's door. I've never been in love like this before. Now let me pray to keep you from, the perils that will surely come,"

Goosebumps crawled all over my body, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing, instinct took over, and it didn't matter where I was right then or how many other people were in that parking lot. At that moment, it was just this man who walked by and me. He wore an opened grey and black flannel shirt with black jeans and a pair of work boots. He was tall, and his hair was black and greasy; I had to be sure you see? If I didn't do it, I'd never know. My heart told me to call out his name ( if it was him ) gently, but I think I screamed loud enough to wake the dead if not get his attention. I called out to him as more of a confirmation than a question.


He slowed his pace until he stopped and turned halfway around to look at where the hysterical voice might have come from. He considered me for a second until he fully turned to face me; it was still working through his head, Zion hadn't figured it out yet but he would. I saw it coming, but in my mind, I was horrified at the sight of him; yes, he was a grown man. He was not the boy I recalled when I last saw him being taken away by his mother and her sleaze fuck boyfriend. Maeve ( my late ex-wife ) left me for her boss's son Daniel. Her boss Daniel Senior ran the office where Maeve worked; Daniel junior walked in one day to trade cars with his father, and that's where it all started. Maeve thought she'd found her meal ticket out of our marriage and out of Hawai'i. What Maeve didn't want to hear or know about Daniel was that he was a sexual deviant. He wasn't a pedophile, he just didn't hide his sexual adventures from Maeve. Unfortunately, no one could tell Maeve anything. Daniel always dressed in open, plaid shirts, black jeans, and work boots; however, it was only Zion and me who sang that Lauren Hill song together. When I called his name, I hoped to god for a second that I wasn't mistaken and that it was actually Daniel who walked by. It was indeed Zion, my son, but he looked every bit like Daniel Neuman. His gait, and the nuance of how he turned to look at me and how he walked with a longer stride while hunched over, It was Zion, but it was Daniel.

"What?" He uttered the word more like a challenge than a question.

"It's me, it's Dad," quickly I opened the car door and placed the take out on the driver's seat so I could speak with him more clearly. "It's me, Zion; it's Daddy."

"Dad, who?" His face was twisted and bewildered, and there was a bit of Daniel's shitty attitude in it. The kind that made you want to kick his face in, but this wasn't Daniel, this was my son.

"Your Dad Zion! From home, from Hawaii, remember?" I was sure that once I'd mentioned Hawaii, he'd remember.

"I know Hawaii, but I don't know you, I think you got me mistaken for somebody else," he waved me off and started to walk away, but I couldn't just let him take off. I had to think fast.

"That song you were just singing..... when you were a baby, your mom and I would have to play that song all the time. I mean all the time at home and in the car but we'd always sing it together with you and me. That was our song, remember?" I was aware for some reason that I was smiling because I was happy to see him. I just wanted him to remember so that he'd be happy too, and we could finally get over this bullshit and hug one another. Instead, he shrugged his shoulder and shook his head, and gave me this look of disgust.

"Look, old man, just be on your way before I kick your ass," he was leaving, walking off to his car and possibly walking out of my life.

"Now the joy of my world is in Zion, now the joy of my world is in Zion. How beautiful if nothing more than to wait at times door, I've never been in love like this before. Now let me pray to keep you from the perils that will surely come. See, life in you, my prince has just begun…"

There I stood in the middle of a parking lot in Manchester New Hampshire singing a song from twenty years ago to my son. I hoped beyond all hope that he'd remember. I swear for a second, just a second there was a glimmer of something in his eyes. There was a spark of something developing, but I was so distracted that I didn't see the figure approaching him from behind. When he walked up to Zion, it looked like Zion's twin. Same styled plaid shirt jeans and work boots………..fuck if it wasn't Daniel. Twenty years older with greying roots and a bad dye job but still Daniel. The joy of all joys he was pasty white and looked like the walking dead. I was suddenly hyper-focused like I'd just seen the devil himself, but in this case, I wasn't afraid. I wanted to kill this devil right where he stood.

"What's taking so fuckin' long Zee? I have been sitting in the car for twenty minutes, let's get a move on!" Twenty years later and his voice still made my skin feel like a buzzing piece a shit fly was on it.

"This old guy thinks I'm his kid…..I just got through telling him to fuck off," Zion pointed at me, and Daniel followed his direction and looked at me with squinted eyes until he removed a pair of glasses from his pockets. Putting them on, he blinked twice until he pulled back and gasped.

"Well, fuck me if it isn't John Lehman…..what the fuck are you doing in Manchester of all places?" Daniel was old and twitchy for some reason; and a bit shaky.

"I'm here on business, I ran into Zion purely by accident," inside I prayed for Daniel to do something but by the looks of him it wasn't worth the effort. He looked worse off than Mick Mars from Motley Crue.

"You know this guy?" Zion asked with more disbelief than betrayal. That would come later.

"This is your father, John Lehman. Well, he's more like your sperm donor really, but he's your flesh and blood father," Daniel was sucking as much enjoyment out of this moment as he could get. He had the upper hand; he'd raised Zion even though he wasn't his father. It's something I never expected, considering how much Daniel only cared about himself.

"But you're my dad, and I'm Zion Neuman, and he's whoever Lehman," Zion was confused and in his voice was an underlying tone of anger that didn't just show up yesterday. I got it, I understood it all too clearly, and right now I wished I was anywhere else but here.

"You adopted him," the confirmation of it hurt me and brought me to a horrible realization. Daniel literally re-created Zion in his own image. The vile incentive I had a second ago to physically destroy him was drained away. There was nothing there. I got back in my car and drove off.



I still haven't told my wife Joy about my encounter with Zion, and it's already been more than a month. Although I did tell her that Maeve came to me in a dream last night, it was simple and not traumatic. She said to me that Zion needs me and that I should help him. She didn't look well; she was greying at the roots and losing her natural red hair color. Maeve wore a white gauze dashiki and a pair of faded jeans. She was barefoot, which was unusual because she never left the house without footwear, and even indoors, she wore sandals.

In the middle of sharing my dream with Joy my phone rang, the number had a 603 prefix on it. That's New Hampshire. The number attached to it was for the New Hampshire State Prison For Men. I answered it, but even before I could say hello, I heard a male voice on the other end, "Hello? I was wondering if I could speak to John Lehman?"

"This is John Lehman?" I couldn't help but think who would be calling me from state prison on the east coast.

"Hey, this is Zion. We didn't meet in the best of circumstances….I just wanted to call you and talk, maybe see if we can pick up where we left off?" His voice wasn't so punkish the way it was when I came across him in that parking lot more than a month ago.

"Uhm……are you calling me from a state prison?" It didn't make sense, or I wasn't putting the obvious together. Or maybe I just wanted him to tell me.

"Yeah, I'm gonna be a resident here until stuff gets figured out in my favor or not," there was a moment of silence which meant that he didn't know what to say next or that he wanted me to ask.

"Can I ask why you're in there?" No nurturing tone there, just a straight question without the accusatory inflection. "Wait! Before you answer that question…..what made you call me?"

"I dunno if you believe in this kinda shit but my mom came to me in a dream last night and she told me to get in contact with you; I ended up finding you on Facebook. So I called, I don't know what to expect or what I'm supposed to say but I figured that there must be a reason why mom wanted me to get in contact with you? Anyway, here I am." There was another pause there until I asked him again about why and how he ended up in state prison. He said that after our debacle in the parking lot that day, he and Daniel got into a terrible argument about me being his biological father and my uttering the word 'adoption.'

Daniel called him a faggot and told him to stop crying over it, he tried to convince Zion that it didn't matter and that he was still his father. That news was only one part of it, through our phone conversations Zion would eventually reveal that Daniel would regularly beat his mother while he watched and then he would do the same to Maeve while he beat Zion. It was a never-ending cycle. Daniel was cruel and unfeeling, and he always made Zion feel like nothing he did was ever good enough. "I spent my whole life trying to please that asshole, and then I find out I'm adopted? That was too much……he was in a fragile condition but I…… I lost it. I beat him until he was dead. They said it's first-degree murder, but they're taking into consideration the abuse that mom and I suffered at his hands. When mom died, I think she was happy because she had no other way out."



There were three connecting flights from New Hampshire before Zion finally got to Honolulu. Joy and I didn't know what to expect as the flood of people emerged from the baggage claim on the international side of the airport. He was the last one out, and all he had was the clothes he wore on the day he got incarcerated. I'd sent him his plane ticket and a few bucks to tide him over if he got hungry on the flight over. I waved at him, and he managed to crack a smile. We regarded one another differently this time, and I'm sure I was the first to hug him. I introduced him to Joy, and then I asked him if he was hungry or not?

"I am," he said with humorous desperation. "But first can we go somewhere to get some new clothes? I don't wanna wear flannel anymore."

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