Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 30, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #31


Damp strips from the bark of the Mai'a or banana plant was used to wili or bind the delicate ferns and flowers into place.
Time was lost in the endeavor of creating a lush combination of colors that did not oppose or stand out more than another. The physical prism had to be pleasing to the eye, this she knew by heart which is why she spent the better part of the early morning in the high mountains above Ahuimanu in search of the perfect fern and the rare yellow blossom of Mamane. It was a place where only she knew how to climb to such a height in order to gather such gems. The strips of the bark were the bonds of her love for him, bending, flexed to exhaustion but never broken. The ferns of palai which gave off a heady scent when its delicate leaves became crushed under the binding brought forth memories of their first lovemaking on a bed of palai ferns. It was not intended to happen as both he and she had meant to be congenial to one another at best, but the aroma of the ferns proved to be overpowering and they both gave in to what their hearts most desired. The Mamane blossom made her smile because the first lei he had ever made for her was with the deep yellow flower. It was not an expertly made garland by any means, but the intent and the effort was what touched her heart most. It left an indelible mark left on her memory and for it, she would always love him.

With the lei po'o completed, she turned her to attention to striping the rare maile kaluhea and binding it into a lei that would be worn around the neck. The leaves were full and filled with its own natural musk which brought tears to her eyes. On the day of their wedding, they were bound together by a lengthy strand of Maile which was symbolic of their union. It was a marriage beset with many trials and tribulations but through it all, she was like the 'a'ali'i that bent in the strongest winds but never broke.

Until now.

She adorned herself first with the lei po'o and then the maile. As he slept in the passenger's seat of their Toyota Tacoma, dead to the world after a night of drinking and laying in the arms of yet another woman, she placed his lei po'o about his head. It fit perfectly after all and why would it not? She could not begin to count how many lei po'o she would haku for him, only to see it on the head of another woman later on. How many strands of maile had she braided for him only to see it draped around the mirror of another woman's vehicle? Her braiding was of a particular style that was only known to herself and her grandfather who taught her. She would know it anywhere if she saw it. Sitting for a second while parked in the far end of Windward Mall, passersby noticed her finery and nodded and smiled or paid her a compliment.

"Beautiful your lei po'o," they said.

She smiled graciously and thanked them. She needed to gather herself and go over everything. House left in her sister's name? Check. Checking and savings and all assets left to her parents? Check. Those were the important things. Everything else in the house and whatever was in public storage could be sorted out among the family, his and hers. She specified that no memorial services be held for the both of them and that everyone should go on with their lives as if they had never existed. That was it then, everything was covered. She started up the truck and drove out of the mall parking lot until she turned left on Kahekili. He didn't come home last night and only bothered to call at sunrise to say that he could be picked up in front of Ruby Tuesdays. Anticipating the call, she had already set out much earlier to gather what she needed in order to compose the finery for the both of them. While taking the left turn on to Kahekili tears of grief racked her body and nearly made it impossible to drive. The vow she took to be his wife for better or for worse never got better, she knew that now. There would be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow because there was never a rainbow, to begin with. She'd already made the right turn from Kahekili and was now heading up Likelike when she screamed and lashed out. She punched him on his ear first and then on the corner of his jaw. It jostled him awake and made him groan with an agonizing pain. She lay the gas pedal to the floor. He was furious now, he reached out to grab her with his left hand and pummel her with the right, but she knew that this would be his chosen reaction. After two of her punches landed squarely on its mark, she snapped open the middle counsel with her right hand and removed a 9mm handgun and pointed it at his left eye.

"You yell or scream at me and I'll shoot you right through your eye," she said calmly. It was her calm exterior which alarmed him and so he complied and shrank back into his chair. The Tacoma was posted at 80mph now, his hands were up in front of him "Please slow down," he requested of her very softly.

"I went for my monthly check up and guess what? I'm HIV positive. You're the only man I've ever been with so I didn't catch it from anyone else. So, that only leaves you. I'm not going out that way and I'm tired of you humiliating me and treating me like shit when I do everything for you." On the corner of the John Burns highway, she pulls the Tacoma over and parks it with the passenger side door tightly pressed up against the concrete barrier. She grabs the keys and lets herself out from her door and stands there with the gun pointed at him. She motions to him with her free hand to come to her. The majestic Ko'olau mountains make an unusual backdrop for the tragedy that is about to take place.

"Get out on my side," he ignores her and it's one second more than she can stand. She shoots him in the shoulder and he screams in pain. "Get out on my side." She commands him this time and he complies, he struggles but he is able to let himself out of the vehicle. "Walk to the edge," she raises her voice as the winds begin to mute out any ambient sound. She can see by his facial expression that he is about to invoke sympathy from her but she has prepared herself to not be fooled by the ruse. She aims and shoots at his left ear just grazing it. "Walk to the edge." He walks and decides that he has had enough, just as he stands with his back to the concrete barrier, he begins to regale her with every foul name his fear-stricken mind can compose. Undeterred, she shoots him in the head and he stumbles backward over the barrier. He plummets down into the lush green depths of Haiku valley with his lei po'o tightly fastened about his head and his lei maile draped gracefully around his neck. He never feels the pain as his body is broken over several branches of different trees. His ghost over time is doomed to relive his own death again and again.

Before she can think to complete her task by taking her own life and follow him into death, a deluge of rain appears from the cloudless sky above her. It soaks her completely and is so torrential it blinds her from seeing anything within a foot of where she stood. It dissipates eventually and leaves her with a sensation that an unbearable burden has been lifted from her body. She is lite and free. Her shoulders go back and no longer slouch. She is as tall and regal as she was when she was but a young girl. There is a feeling that the world is suddenly new but what is most astounding is that the freeway did not witness a passerby in their vehicles. Neither are her lei po'o and her lei maile drenched. They are still as fresh as if she had just woven them together. In an ironic way she had been given a second chance, a second chance perhaps to create and bind a new lei of flowers and ferns.

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