Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 23, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #8


Lunch was uncomfortable because the air conditioning in the Vietnamese restaurant we ducked into was broken. We opted for take-out back at Keith’s office which was an old Matson container that he converted to his personal space. Pretty smart.
The only strange thing was the sight of four little blonde girls who seemed to be shadowing Keith and I as we walked to the restaurant and back. They kept their distance but for me, it was very noticeable.

If you’ve had Vietnamese food before you know that it has a distinctive aroma to it, and for those who aren’t used to it, it can be overpowering. Somewhere in Keith’s office was another smell right under the strong aroma of Pho. I knew that smell but I couldn’t quite recall from where.

“You know,” Keith said through the steam rising from his bowl of Pho, “I remember you got your black belt around the same time you started high school. 1977 wasn’t it? After that, we never saw you in Karate class again.”

“I’m surprised you remember that,” I chuckled. “That was a long time ago, but yeah right as I started high school.” I looked up and there they were but in a very momentary way. The four little blonde girls stood up against all four corners of Keith's office. They looked and me and then slowly dissolved into thin air.

“What happened?” He asked while dipping his spring roll into a small container of sweet and sour sauce. “Was it school?”

“Nah,” I replied just before inhaling my noodles. “My mother had a stroke and that’s when my father realized just how much my mom did. I mean she did everything…when the new school year starts it’s my dad who takes me shopping for school clothes. My mom knew my size, my matching colors but my dad is clueless. He grabs a rack of shirts and pants, and shoes………..hardly any of my clothes fit. Anyway, high school is spent taking care of my mom until a year after graduation. Then she passed away.”

“Wow,” Keith mused. “What about after?”

“One dime and one nickel in service to our country… I'm a contractor. Oh, before you ask I could give two shits about whatever happened to my father…..oh….sorry.” I took a sip of my tea and recalled something about Keith as he waved me off and told me not to worry about my use of foul language. “You kinda fell off the map yourself, didn’t you? ”

“Oh that,” Keith smirked and nodded. “Sensei used to have us sit and meditate at the end of class remember?”

“Yeah, even after I stopped going to Karate I still used that same meditation. Got me through some tight spots.” I agreed.

“That meditation got me through teaching the kids class for Sensei when he was busy with the Adult class in the other studio,” Keith began. “I liked that calm feeling from meditating and I wanted to make that calmness a part of my life. Through God I found calm and that’s when I decided to become a man of the cloth.”

There’s that smell again, I knew it from somewhere but all the pieces weren’t clicking. “So about your confession?” Keith asked. “Did you still need to do it? It doesn’t have to be formal.”

“I think my lunch has relieved me of my affliction father,” I leaned back in my chair and patted my stomach. “I’ll be okay.”

“Well,” Keith stood up from behind his desk and let out a sigh. “It’s been great seeing you again my friend but I have to get back to the business of doing gods work.” He extended his hand across the desk and as he leaned toward me I noticed a set of pictures on the bookshelf behind him. I hadn’t seen them because of how large the back of Keith’s chair was, but there they were. A set of pictures portraying four little girls with blonde hair, they’re a succession in time from the infancy of the little girls until their young adulthood. There was no mistake as to their identity. I still held Keith’s hand in mine while taking in the details of the photographs, “That’s the Cannon sisters.”

“Oh……..yes, yes,” Keith replied while he turned awkwardly about in order to acknowledge what I had seen. “They were baptized in this church. The entire family is members in very good standing since this place was built in 1847. I’ve known those girls all their lives. Terrible tragedy what happened, just terrible.”

Keith walked me to my car which was parked out front but he took me around the back of the church which he said was a shortcut. As we passed the opposite end of his container/office I couldn't help but notice a 1968 Buick parked near it. "Wow," the sight of the well-kept vehicle stopped me right in my tracks. "Now, I can appreciate a car like that, she's beautiful."

"They don't make them like how we remember huh?' Keith laughed.

"This is yours?" I was surprised to know that a Catholic priest had a kind of car fetish.

"Yup, kinda my hobby, put it all back together myself.....well, not without some help of course," Keith nodded toward the Buick. "My first one was just like this one but Doc Canon saw it one day and asked if he could buy it off of me. It was worth the price; too bad it ended up in Lake Wilson."

"You mean Doc Canon as in Doctor Hiram Canon? The father of the Canon sisters? THAT Doc Canon?" I must have been looking at Keith in a funny kind of way because he took a step away from me.

"Is everything okay?" He asked.

"I don't know yet, you tell me," I removed my gun from my back holster and pointed it at him. He didn't know what to say for a second because it hadn't registered yet, but when I cocked the hammer back and he heard the click, it suddenly made sense to him.

"What is this about?" Keith asked in an almost whisper. "Are you crazy?"

"You know, we walk to the mall to get some lunch and I see these little blonde haired girls just staring at us. I don't think anything of it. Then we get to your office and there they are again, just standing in the far corners staring at us the whole time....and I still think nothing of it. Then I see your picture collection of the Canon sisters." I don't make a move, I hold him in his place with my eyes to show him that I mean business.

"You ARE crazy; I thought we were friends catching up on old times but you've meant to kill me all along," It's nice how people try to put it all together just before they're about to take a dirt nap.

"This is what I meant by being a contractor and I had no intention of killing you today. I had no idea you were the priest in this place. I came to confess my sins for all the people I've killed because it was beginning to take its toll. Who knew that it would be you of all people to hear my confession, well, almost. If only you hadn't opened that door," I could see that he agreed. "The whole time we were in your office there was this smell that I couldn't place until you made that remark about your old Buick ending up in Lake Wilson. That's what I was smelling, pungent water from a lake. I know that smell because I've dumped many a body in a lake in my time."

Keith was incredulous now, "Wait, are you suggesting that I had something to do with the Canon sister's suicide?"

"My instincts are never wrong, maybe I played my hand too soon, so here's the deal. I call my media contacts down here and YOU confess, or it ends here and now." I have to say that in all my years of doing what I do, I never thought I'd hear what Keith would say next.

"I'd rather die,"

"Alright," I agreed. "But let me give you a little bit of something first; there's this thing that bugged me about that time you fell off the map and I couldn't figure out why until I recalled something that happened after high school. It was about a junior leader at the local Y who molested a nine-year-old girl in the bathroom. That was you, Keith, that was you. It was a different time back then, no social media so it was easy to maneuver yourself into the position you're in now without anyone knowing what you really are."

"I've heard men like you make a confession before and they all want to be forgiven so they don't go to hell. Make your confession and I'll forgive you, I'll hold your salvation true." Keith offered.

"The men you're talking about are nothing like me, Keith." I shook my head because it was clear he didn't get it.

"How so?" He asked.

"When they come to you they want moral retribution, but me? I'm all about moral ambiguity," Keith's face didn't register the pain once the bullet hit him between the eyes. Usually, it doesn't; maybe the mind and nerves do, but it hardly shows on the face. Why do I do this? The suicide of the Canon sisters had nothing to do with me. Why did I decide to take matters into my own hands? Maybe Boy Napualawa was right? We shouldn't kid ourselves because no matter how we paint the picture, we're killers plain and simple. Be that as it may, I think I need help.

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