Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 21, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #40


Someone was in my room. You know that because you wake up from a dead sleep, well at least I woke up from a dead sleep. It was the shuffling feet that did it.
I haven't heard that footfall since high school and that was nearly thirty years ago. I think that's what shook me up so bad; but why was I hearing it in my bedroom and 1:43 in the morning? Once the smell of bubblegum perfume hit me more memories of high school came flooding back. There was only one person in school who wore that perfume and it really wasn't the enjoyable aroma that it was meant to be. It was Melanie Kitagawa. I guess the company that distributed that product did not take a persons chemical DNA into account.

I sat up in bed and there she was, she looked exactly the way she did in high school. Black shirt, denim jeans, wallet in her front pocket with a thick chain attached. Leather wristbands with her name burned into both of them. Her thick black hair was pulled back in a ponytail just like I remembered. Her face was always stoic and she was beautiful but everyone stayed away from her because she was also very tough. When I last saw her in my senior year, she told me that her mother enrolled her in charm school so that she could at least look like she was a girl and not some biker. She was the only girl in a family of boys but the choice of fashion she decided on was not sitting well with her family.

"Melanie?" Thirty years have passed and Melanie Kitagawa still appeared just as she did in high school.

"Tell my mom I tried but her expectations were too high," she cracked that strange smile where it started out as a frown and then turned into a light in a dark room. "So unrealistic," she shook her head and then took a step forward. She dissipated into dust like a cloud and then she was gone.


The next day on the class reunion social media page it was posted that Melanie Kitagawa hung herself in her bedroom closet. There was no suicide note or email which could explain why she took her own life. I recall being mad more than I was sad, but then I also recalled that she'd visited me the night before in her noncorporeal form. I thought it was all a dream and that seeing her was the result of too much beer and bad greasy food. A month later at the Hosoi funeral home, I found myself standing in the long line which led to where Melanie's mother stood. With my turn almost coming, I could hear the people in front of me offering Mrs. Kitagawa their condolences. I was finally in front of her and I took her hands in mine. I muttered something like, "I'm sorry" and she paused for a second and looked up at me from under her wrinkled eyebrows.

"You da one make Merani kakushitsu high skuru time?" Thirty years sure didn't lessen Mrs. Kitagawa's straightforward nastiness.

"No, I'm the one who helped her study so she could pass high school. Remember? I'm Scott," I placed my palm flat over my heart and bowed slightly.

"Buru-sheeto you," she waved me off with her left hand and pushed me aside with her right. If anyone was a two-fisted samurai in her past life it was this woman. I always teased her 'lady yakuza' behind her back. The old woman was already shaking hands with the owner of the local Japanese radio station when I inserted myself between the both of them. I tried to speak in Japanese as best as I could remember, it had been years since language school but I gave it my best shot. " Meranī no yūrei wa kanojo ga kokoromita to iimashita. Anata wa higenjitsutekidesu."

I think I told her that Melanie's ghost said to tell her that she tried and that she (Mrs. Kitagawa) was unrealistic. It was right about then that old lady Kitagawa popped me on the point of my chin and sent me reeling. I was pissed and yelled at her that Melanie's ghost indeed appeared in my room and asked me to relay the message I'd just given her. Old lady Kitagawa retorted just like the ladies in those old Japanese gambling movies. "Meranī no yūrei wa, anata ga kanojo no sōgi ni kite, anata ga chōdo itta koto o oshietekureru to itta! Kanojo wa anata ga usoda to itta!"

As best as I could translate, she said that Melanie's ghost appeared to her as well and told her that I would come to the funeral to tell her that her ghost appeared to me with a message for her and that it was a lie. Needless to say, thirty years later I nearly got mobbed at the funeral services of my old high school classmate who was a notorious prankster. Turns out that her death was not a suicide but death by misadventure. Let's just say that she was into some kinky stuff called sexual asphyxiation. You figure out the rest.

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