Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 6, 2018

A Chance Without Knowing

In the convenience store, the soft drinks, the juice, and water were stored right next to the beer, hard liquor and wine. When the tall dark man entered the store, the husband, wife, and sister in law yelled at the college students and the older drunk men that the liquor cabinet was closed after eleven in the evening; which it was.
Everyone left upset at there not being liquor available for their intended evening of debauchery but the tall dark man filtered past the dejected few and headed toward the shelf where all the cold soda, juices, and water were stored. The three owners screamed at him from clear across the store that the liquor cabinet was closed, no beer after eleven. He ignored them and opened the door to the soda cabinet and grabbed a ten-ounce bottle of Coke. From where the owners stood, they could only see the red label on the bottle. The three felt that their warning was fair but now they were filled with the indignation that they felt the tall dark man was showing them. Each arming themselves with baseball bats, they briskly walked toward the tall dark man who now sauntered down the middle aisle toward them with the bottle of Coke in his hands. They stood there deflated, the wind knocked out of their sails. They smiled, bowed, and apologized.

They escorted him to the cashiers counter with their hands outstretched, showing him the way. The two women bowed and apologized while the man rang up the purchase of a single bottle of soda. The tall dark man handed the cashier a five dollar bill, all the while ignoring their apologies. The husband handed the tall dark man his change but the man turned and left without receiving it. The three followed after him into the parking lot to give him his change but he was gone.

An uneventful hour passed and they were finally able to close up. The stand with all the chips and pork rinds were brought in and all the window displays were taken down. The outside door was locked as was the double wrought iron doors on the inside. The husband counted out the cash drawer while his wife and sister in law restocked the food and sandwich shelves and changed out the coffee filters for the next morning. Last were the exterior and interior lights and once that was done they all trudged themselves into the Mercedes van which belonged to the husband. The drive home on Kalaniana'ole was easy as there was no traffic heading east. They pulled up into the short driveway of their home just across from Kalani High School and lumbered through the front door and collapsed on the couch. The wife asked her husband to massage her neck but he was too tired to lift his arm, the sister in law kicked her flats off and rubbed her feet, complaining to her brother in law that there has to be another of way living. All they were doing was working at the store and trying to make enough money to live in a house that they were hardly home to enjoy.

All she got was an agreeable moan.

They were too tired to notice the tall dark stranger sitting on the steps which led up to the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. Instead, they trudged their way to the kitchen where the women snacked on pickled vegetables while the husband fried up Kalbi meat and potatoes. Bottles of Orion beer were passed around and once the ribs were done, they spent the better part of the late night eating and complaining. It was four in the morning before they helped wash the dishes and put the pots and pans away. At last, they made their way upstairs to shower and head to sleep. They were out the second their heads hit the pillow.

The wife woke up and saw that her husband was out of bed. Heading to the bathroom, she cleaned up and headed past her sister's room where she saw her door open, she was out of bed as well. In a few minutes, she walked downstairs to the kitchen and saw her husband and sister sitting at the table with their backs facing her. She walked around and as the three exchanged glances she saw that their faces were badly beaten up. Before she could scream a hand grabbed a handful of her hair and pounded her face to the table twice. The force was so great that it blackened one side of her eye; whoever had her by the hair now grabbed the back of her neck and shoved her toward the empty chair next to her husband. She looked up and saw the tall dark man who was in their store the night before. She screamed obscenities at him and before her husband could warn her to keep quiet, the tall dark man lunged forward with lightning speed and punched her in the left eye.

"I'll break your jaw next, keep talking," the tall dark man instructed. In his right hand was a 9mm handgun loaded and pointed right at her. She tried to contain her pain and hysterics but she wasn't doing a good job. Her husband begged her through his broken teeth to endure it and not say anything more. "I'd listen to him if I were you."

When the wife was able to shake the haze of pain from her head, she saw that her husband and her sister were handcuffed by their hands and feet to their chairs. The tall dark man walked toward her with wrist and ankle cuffs, the second she saw that she bolted from her chair. The tall dark man cut her off and scoop slammed her on the tiled kitchen floor. Her body made the sound of a sickening thud and the air was knocked out of her. While she struggled to breathe, the tall dark man picked her up and sat her back on the chair and began to cuff her feet and hands to it; except for the right arm.

He left that one undone.

"You got it worse than the other two because you're the big mouth," The tall dark man said. "Without knowing who I was, you assumed that I was headed toward the liquor cabinet and that I was going to grab a six pack of beer when all I wanted was a soda. The three of you screamed at me like I was a little kid and then you came after me with baseball bats? What if I didn't understand what you were saying and I grabbed a bottle of beer without knowing any better? Would you have beaten me with those bats? Then when you realized that I'm only getting a soda, the three of you turn into these sniveling little ass kissers. Man, you gotta think better of yourselves, you really do."

The tall dark stranger removes a hacksaw from his inside his jacket pocket and hands it to the wife whose eyes are now swollen over and badly bruised "There are just enough teeth in this thing to saw off your cuffs and the cuffs of one other person. It's either your husband or your sister but you won't be able to save them both."

He removes an old oven timer from his other pocket and sets it back to zero, "You have until this timer goes off. Once I hear it, I'm coming in with guns blazing and whoever is left gets splattered all over this kitchen."

The wife doesn't need a second clue, she furiously sets to work at cutting the chains to the handcuffs. She jumps and screams suddenly when she hears two gunshots, looking up she sees that her husband and sister both have bullet holes in their heads. Her sister's body slumps over in her chair while the husband's body has fallen to the kitchen floor in a grotesque position.

"YOU FUCKER!!!" YOU DIDN"T EVEN GIVE US A CHANCE!!!" The wife screams until her throat and lungs burn.

"I'm giving the three of you the same chance you gave me," the tall dark man walks over to the wife and cradles her head in the crook of his arm. He squeezes once and his muscles feel like steel cables around her jaw. He snaps his arm to the left and breaks her spinal cord, killing her instantly. Her body crumbles to the floor and the side of her face bounces off the tile.

 Fishing around in their fridge the tall dark man looks for leftovers. There's Kim Chee, green vegetables, pickled carrot slices, small baked potatoes, and a couple of bottles of Orion beer. In a big Tupperware container is a few slabs of marinated ribs which he microwaves until he can hear to oils sizzle on top of the fat. The pot of rice is still good and there's a lot left. He has a strange habit of putting all the food on the plate first and then piling the rice on top. Once the food is in front of him, he puts his hands together to pray and treats himself to one of the best meals he's had in a while.

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