Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 3, 2018

The Stranger: Flux

"I went down to the crossroads,
fell down on my knees..."

A 1972 Sattelite Sebring seems like an unusual car to have but my strange like for it is because Plymouth and Dodge were coming out of their car coke bottle shaped 68 and 69 models craze with their Chargers, Roadrunners, and Superbees.
My Sebring had a little bit of the old and new in it, sort of like it was built with the intention of making it a spiritual cusp vehicle. In any case, I decided to take a drive around the island just so I could think and get a perspective on what Boy offered. My journey eventually brought me to a great hamburger steak place in Punalu'u just next to the QLCC. I was sort of anticipating the luxurious juicy flavor of the gravy as it soaked itself into the perfectly timed cooking of the hamburger meat. I can honestly tell you that I was not disappointed when I got there, that plate of food was the proverbial rabbit waiting to be yanked out of the hat, it was magic.

Outside the old mom and pop store was a bunch of wooden benches where anyone could sit in order to enjoy their meal. I was alone for a while just taking my time with my lunch when a much much older Hawaiian man came hobbling up from behind one of the other food trucks. He was dressed in a grey zippered down sweater with a white shirt underneath. His jeans seemed strangely thick and appeared to be oversized for his fragile frame. I looked back at the store proprietor and caught his eye. I gestured for one more plate of hamburger steak and a drink. I waited until the second plate arrived and then I brought it over to the elder Hawaiian gentleman. I placed the meal in front of him and unwrapped the napkin from the fork and knife and handed him the utensils but he didn't take it.

He just looked up at me and tapped his finger on the table, "Sit down."

I obliged and took the seat opposite him where he leaned forward and looked up at me from under his thick white eyebrows. "Bad guys don't make speeches remember?"

My eyes must have sharpened because the thing inside the old Hawaiian man chuckled, "Good, you know who I am so we don't have to mince words. You come with me, or if not you, then Ray."

"I thought so," I nodded. "I knew there had to be more than one of you in Carmen Launui."

I took a look around and everything suddenly went black, there was no mom and pop store, no lush green scenery or the scent of the oceans crashing waves from across the street. The sunlight of the day was still there but only on myself and the thing that once possessed Carmen Launui. Except now it was in the body of a very old Hawaiian man. "I go with you or if not, you take Ray. Is that right?"

"See? You get it, you're not as difficult as everybody says you are," he smiled a smile that was as vile and disgusting as giving a cannibal a whole side of human ribs for the holiday.

"I get it," I confirmed. "It's easier if I go get Ray and bring her here, she trusts me. With you, she'll just struggle and she'll be hard to manage, You agree?" I asked.

"I'll wait here and enjoy the nice meal you provided for this ancient body," it picked up the fork and knife and began to work on the hamburger steak in a very meticulous way.

"If I'd have known I would have ordered yours very very rare," I monotoned.

"It's the thought that counts," he pointed his fork at me while simultaneously burying his head in the heap of food before him.

I pointed around us and looked back at him, "Do you mind putting the lights back on so I can go get her?"

"Oh yes!" It laughed through the aged form of the Hawaiian man, "I forgot!" He snapped his fingers and the tableau went back to normal. "Don't dawdle, I'll know if you've changed your mind and it will be worse if I have to go and get her myself!"

The 426 Chrysler Hemi engine came to life and I turned the Sebring around in the parking lot and headed town-bound in the opposite direction. Two things crossed my mind, the first was that Boy offered me a kind of protection which I thought I'd never need but considering the current situation, I may have to re-think my options. Secondly, I learned a very long time ago that in this world of mine if you're intent on doing something, you never let it show on your face. With what I do, you have to master that skill because it could very well mean life or death. My gauge showed that I was a full mile away from my last location. I let off the gas pedal for a second and rode the forward momentum of the Sebring which allowed me to make a full u-turn. Seamlessly I put my foot on the gas and I was headed back to the roadside mom and pop store. The sparse traffic allowed me to floor it along the somewhat winding path to my return destination. I plugged in the playlist on my phone to the car auxiliary and waited for the music to kick in. Just a little something to get me in the mood.
The song opened with a classic strumming guitar like it was waiting for the singer to come in on the fourth downstroke.

"...I was a little too tall could've used a few pounds,
tight pants point hardly renowned..."

I was never sure why I decided to save Ray's life that night so long ago. I was as purposely unfriendly and distant as I could be. I was even sure that I was rude, but when I heard that gunshot go off I had no flight instinct. Instead, I ran to where the danger was and saved a scared half Haole half Chinese local girl who was certainly going to die because of her idiot boyfriend's insecurities.

The last few cases as of late have been difficult and I found myself spending a lot more time than I should at Ray's bar. I remember a night where I left the bar a lot more drunk than I should have been. At some point, as I drove along Ala Moana Boulevard I looked in the rearview mirror and noticed that I was being followed. I crossed the bridge past the beach park and pulled into the parking lot adjacent to the Hawaii Prince Hotel. The strange car pulled up right beside me and I immediately got out of my car and opened the door to the intruding vehicle and bodily removed the driver. I forced the barrel of my gun down that person's throat before I realized it was Ray. She followed me because she was worried that I might not make it home in one piece. She was scared shitless and I made it worse by screaming at her for half an hour. She stood there crying and apologizing only after she screamed at me for shoving a gun in her mouth. I'm pretty sure she punched me in the face but I was probably too drunk to feel it. I held her close to me after and I told her, "You can't know anything about me outside of the's not safe for you." Was I wrong or was I wrong?

"..Workin' on mysteries without any clues,
workin' on the night moves..."

The QLCC came in to sight and sure as shit there he was still sitting there, working on his hamburger steak. No tells, no clues, no inkling. I floored it and kept it there, the rear wheels slipped for a second and caught the blacktop. I got it up to 75mph in that short amount of distance, we were doing good that's for sure. No tells, no clues, no inkling. Once I hit 80mph it just took a short turn of the wheel to the left to get me to where I wanted to go. The great thing about power steering, it teaches you not to put too much into your intentions, that way you don't overcompensate and get yourself hurt. That little turn to the left was all I needed so that my Sebring was pointed in the direction of where the thing that possessed a poor Hawaiian man in his dotage was sitting. No tells, no clue, no inkling. The wooden tables exploded into a thousand splinters as my Sebring cut through them like a snow plow. The thing that possessed the old man could only think about the simple earthly pleasures it enjoyed so many eons ago in Mesopotamia the land between two rivers. When the physical shell that the demon died in was obliterated by the car into a heaping mess of flesh and bones, it could only think a mournful thought. It wanted to return home.



With a few stitches here and there and a few pins in my ankle and my forearm, I'm sitting in front of Boy Napualawa and his family in his office. Tabby is here too, as are the Rizal Brothers from Kauai. Good bunch of boys, I'm not sure why they're here but if they're in Boys office it must be a good thing.

"You come to gloat and tell me, 'I told you so?' I asked with a deal of discomfort.

"No," Boy smiled. "We've come to hear you out."

"Is that offer still good? The one about working here and getting protection for Ray?" I was in too much pain to be diplomatic. I needed answers now.

"It is," Boy replied.

I had to know, I couldn't wait, "When does it start?"

"Right now," Boy nodded. "There's an official ceremony where you'll become inducted but that's for formality. Your word of honor and loyalty is all I need from you and you're set."

"My word is my bond and my honor, my loyalty is based on that and you have it." Everyone stared at me for a second and then they looked back at Boy. I stood up as he came around the desk and gave me a gentle hug. The rest followed suit and within the hour we were all seated on a long table outside the lobby where we had a huge feast. Boy stepped to the birdcage elevator like he was waiting for someone and indeed he was. The door slid back and out came, Ray. I'd been in the hospital all this time and I never called her to tell her what happened. Somehow Boy figured that out and invited Ray to have dinner with all of us. I got yelled at in front of everyone and I got punched in all the places that hurt, then she held on to me and cried and I held on to her as much as I was able to.

What a dinner it turned out to be, it was a feast for the soul.



I was early for my first day but the only person in the office was Boy, he waved me in and had me sit in a chair on the other side of his desk. He was at the end of a phone call and gave me a signal to hold on. When he finally finished, he leaned back in his chair and let it swivel back and forth for a second before leaning forward with a quizzical look on his face,

"How much do you know about your family?"

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