Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 26, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #5


The accident was horrible and I was dumbstruck myself as it unfolded in front of me. An errant driver in his Cadillac SUV with no care for his safety or anyone else's came at an alarming rate of speed from behind me.
I saw him in my rearview mirror, the speed limit was 50 but he was doing 70 and climbing. Three car lengths ahead of me in the right lane was a Nissan Sentra minding its own business. It's left turn signal came on indicating his intention to move into my lane at a safe clip. I let off the gas to give him his space; it was at that moment that I looked up in my rear view mirror and here came the Cadillac. With no turn signal, he came around my left, his turn was too wide. Just as the Sentra came into the lane in front of me, I saw the driver's window roll down. The Cadillac shot in from the left lane and bumped the Nissan off the road, sending it up the embankment. I could see the driver trying to wrest control of his vehicle as he frantically turned it left and then right but to no avail. The external force of the SUV bumping the Nissan off of the road was too strong for the driver to do anything. It spun up the embankment and paused for a mere second before it came tumbling back down end over end. The driver was ejected at some point while his vehicle was totaled. Whoever was behind the wheel of the Cadillac never stopped to help, he just drove off as if nothing happened. I pulled over and grabbed my flashlight and got out of my own car and ran back down to look for the driver of the Nissan. To my surprise there was no one else on the road at the time of the accident, there was just myself as the witness, the idiot who caused the accident, and the man who got into the wreck as the result of someone using his oversized car as an extension of his ego.

I passed the mangled wreck of the Nissan and the air was so pungent with the smell of gasoline it made me gag. The contents of the car were scattered about, papers, a plastic cooler. Tools from the trunk and the spare tire were thrown on the other side of the highway. I finally found him just at the bottom of the embankment where the grass and dirt meet the concrete. His body was mangled, he was crushed by the weight of his own vehicle after being ejected from it, it managed to tumble right on top of him. His limbs were grotesquely positioned like a cowboy Woody doll would be if you haphazardly threw it on the floor with no care. Luckily, his eyes were blinking and looking back and forth, he was trying to say something but it was incomprehensible. I knelt down next to him and focused only on his face. When I think about it now if I had looked at the condition of his body I would have screamed in horror and left him there.

"I'm Herman, I saw everything that happened. I called 911, help is on the way." He kept trying to say something but I didn't want him to expend any more energy. "Don't try to talk sir, just relax."

He finally got the words out, his voice was scratchy and a little hoarse. "Are you an atheist?"

I couldn't believe his question considering the circumstances but I replied, "No, I'm a Buddhist."

"Thank God," he sighed. "If I asked you to pray with me before I died, I would have been fucked if you were an atheist."

He managed a chuckle and I'm not sure if I laughed or cried but he scolded me, "No time for that shit! You pray your way and I'll pray mine okay?"

"Okay," I nodded.

His face turned red with the effort he must have used to move his limbs. "I can't feel my arms and legs....shit...must be fucking broke....can you put your hand on my shoulder and then we'll start?"

Obliging him I placed my hand on his shoulder and the prayers began, I first started with the recitation of the Lotus Sutra, and then I offered a prayer in Hawaiian. As he prayed the rosary he suddenly became calm and whatever pain there was that racked his body was gone. The night suddenly became quiet but it was clear and the stars appeared as giant clusters in the black sky. A lite misty rain fell almost like a blessing, the man closed his eyes as if to greet it. I think we both did.

"What's your name?" He asked while trying to focus his eyes on me.

"Herman Kenai," I bowed to him and smiled.

"You're not going to believe this, but my name is Herman Kenai too, no such thing as coincidence huh?" He laughed at the irony of the situation. I was covered with chicken skin.

"Wow," I replied. "What the hell?"

"Herman," his eyes seemed to peer into mine with a strange kind of understanding. "Why did you agree to pray with me just now even though I'm not a Buddhist?"

"I just think that prayer is prayer no matter what form it comes in. We're all traveling to the same mountain, How we get there might be different but there's no reason we can't help each other along the way." That's how I felt about it, I wasn't sure how he was going to take it. Not everyone agrees.

"Right before that car struck me, I was having a religious dilemma," he managed to lift his head a little and looked directly at me. "I lost everything, my wife, my job. At every turn, it felt like I was being kicked while I was down. I started hanging with a bad crowd and I got involved with some bad stuff. I did it because I felt that what I believed in wasn't true, and so I was taking a late drive and I asked the powers that be to give me some kind of sign that they were for real. Then I said to myself, 'Who are you kidding? There's nothing out there." I was feeling ornery...I rolled down my window so I could defiantly spit on God......and then WHAM! I got the fuck is that for an answer?"

I had no reply for him. I wasn't sure if what happened to him was ironic, or if it was truly a reply. "I'll make you a deal," he said. "If there really is another side, I'll give you some kinda sign."

"You don't have to do that Herman, you just go when you're ready and you find peace," I couldn't hold back the tears. They just came forth like a flood.

"It'll be a fine misty rain like just a minute ago, it'll come when there's not supposed to be one." That was Herman's last word. He passed with a smile on his face, and there was an aura of peace and tranquility in his appearance. The EMT and the firefighters arrived about the same time as the police. It was 2:44 in the morning.



I told everyone that I didn't need a therapist and that I was fine. I had no PTSD as a result of witnessing the accident and spending the last few moments of Herman's life with him. I was fine. However, I had to quell the concerns of my loved ones otherwise I would never hear the end of it. So I went. The six-month term was up and it was the last day in the office, I thanked the therapist for her help and her time and told her that I hoped I wasn't a hard case? She laughed it off as she is trained to do and assured me that I shouldn't worry. I didn't, like her, I was just being nice. I needed to relax after the session so rather than take the usual route I decided to go up Pi'ikoi to the freeway. The traffic wasn't too bothersome and I got to the on-ramp that merged into the Punahou off-ramp. Maneuvering from an on-ramp to an off-ramp in order to get to the freeway is really tricky if you don't have the driving dexterity and patience. I was right at the merge with my left turn signal on when I looked in the rear view mirror and notice a black SUV who was literally on my bumper. Normally, I'm courteous and I move up a bit to give someone space but this person was really aggressive. He suddenly made an illegal move and jumped the medium to get around me. He nearly took out a mini and a motorcycle rider. Horns began beeping at him as he sped up and began to ride bumpers from the back. The second he got some room he took it and sped off towards the Punahou overpass. I only had a second to realize that this was the Cadillac SUV from last year, the one that ran Herman off the road. Before I could even get mad and chase that jerk down, a beautifully colored rainbow appeared between the overpass and Kapiolani hospital. The sun must have been shinning at the correct angle because the rainbow was so rich and so vivid. What was also apparent was the fine misty rain through which the sunlight was able to cast the otherworldly rainbow. Up ahead I could just make out the fine misty rain covering the Cadillac SUV as it ignored the speed limit and began to weave in and out of traffic. The fine misty rain stayed with the vehicle until it passed the U.H. cut off. Suddenly, the SUV banks a sharp right and goes soaring over the rail and lands upside down in the middle of Varsity Place Lane. The driver is killed instantly. It all happened within seconds. I panicked and took the South King Street cut off and parked at the Humane Society. I ran behind the facility and climbed down the steep hill until I got to the bottom and crossed through Kalo Place Mini-Park. The Cadillac landed on its roof, no one was hurt but there were small licks of flame coming from the gas tank but it didn't get out of control. The fine misty rain was still there, falling gently on the wrecked vehicle. Once the authorities arrived, the fine misty rain simply disappeared. It was 2:44 in the afternoon.

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