Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 3, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #91


In our ancient culture, it is a tradition that permission is asked to pass through a place or home of a person or persons. The entrance is usually granted after a lengthy protocol ceremony where a chant is offered, and then a chant returned. Sometimes gifts are exchanged, and in cases where a visitor may have nothing to offer other than his own presence, an ornate chant or song is provided instead.
This is a tradition that was kept as far back as the time of my grandparents. However, while growing up in my little neighborhood on the west side of 'O'ahu, such protocols were not as stringent, but the intent of it was still commonplace. Visitors to our home would stand outside the perimeter of the fence, which marked the boundaries of our yard and call, 'Huuuuuuuuiiiii....!!!'

To which someone within the confines of our home would answer, 'Huuuuiiiii...!!! Aloha!'

Then the pleasantries would be exchanged, and most times, the visitor would be welcomed into our home, and my parents would prepare coffee and serve Hilo Pilot crackers and strawberry jam. Other occasions saw people standing outside of our yard asking permission to pick mangoes from our tree. In exchange, they would bring bags of Lychee or freshly made sweet bread. One woman had nothing to offer while picking our mangoes, but she assured my mother that she would return with a pan of Mango bread. A week later, that woman kept her promise, and she and came back with two containers of mango bread. It was the best mango bread I'd ever had the pleasure to consume.

Now, I bring you to the heart of this story which, is about the practice of asking permission to enter. The year was 1976, and we were living in a house that was located in a quaint corner of an old plantation style neighborhood. Yards and parking garages were huge back then, and it was not an unusual thing to have an acreage of property in those days. Floating about the halls of my old intermediate school were the residual impressions of those who had walked those wooden floors many years before us. There was a fad during those days where the old wooden geta slippers experienced a resurgence. Everyone wore them, Japanese and non-Japanese. The sandals were soon banned from school as the clickity-clack sound they made on the old wooden floors was deafening.
 Every now and then, I would happen to see Kayla Hiapo, who was newly transferred from a school in town. She was a nice Hawaiian girl who was always bubbly and never seen without a smile. She was still kind enough to wave hello if she saw me in school or while I walked past her house for whatever reason. I never returned her salutations either way, but it seemed that nothing could dim her sunny disposition.  Soon, it was summer vacation, and the transition from what I called a school of flux to a real school of maturity was inevitable.

One day while lying on the living room couch and reading a Jonah Hex comic book, I heard someone calling my name from outside, 'Davis! Davis! Davis!'

I popped my head up and parted the old curtains and saw Kalya standing outside our fence. She saw me and smiled and jumped up and down and waved at me. She was pointing to a large brown paper bag that she held in her other hand. Now she waved at me to come outside.

"Who is that?" I heard my mom ask from inside the kitchen.

"That's Kayla from school." I dreaded my mother's response, but I already knew what she was going to say.

"Pretty girl, go see what she wants." My mother was insistent.

"Nah, I don't want to." I plopped myself back down on the couch and went back to reading my comic.

"That's rude, Davis," my mother raised her voice, and that tone told me she wasn't going to let it go until I went outside to talk to Kayla. "And don't grunt at me!"


I lumbered down the stairs of our front porch, and with my body language, I expressed my displeasure at having been pulled away from reading my favorite comic book. Kayla was numb to my immaturity and continued to smile and squeal with delight. "Hiiiiieeeee...!!!"

"Hi," I groaned with an audible amount of such displeasure that my voice cracked. What the hell was that?

"I have some RC Cola and some ham and cheese sandwiches I made, do you want?" Before I could answer in the affirmative or the negative, she withdrew the soft drinks from the paper bag, which were both wrapped in tin foil to keep them icy cold. The neatly made sandwiches were wrapped in saran wrap, which made me think that Kayla was definitely a home economics person. The combination of such great ham and cheese sandwiches slathered down with the right amount of mayonnaise while being washed down with a can of icy cold RC cola really hit the spot. Kayla and I must have stood there talking for hours before my mother finally came out to where we were standing and invited Kayla to come inside where it was more refreshing and where we could both talk to one another with ease. I recall giving my mother the death stare, but she ignored me the whole time while she walked Kayla inside. My mother was underhanded; in her ways. Once inside, Kayla saw that my mother was preparing dinner and she offered to help, My mother not refusing the polite gesture, handed Kayla a knife and a few cucumbers and carrots. She told her how many pieces of each that she would need cut, and Kayla went to it like an old chef. The two of them talked about recipes and all the things which Kayla learned in her home economics class. It turns out that Kayla took the course so that she could cook for her mother at home, who was often not well. I am almost sure that that was the moment when my mother sorely wished that she had a daughter like Kayla. It was at that same moment that my mother's eyes finally met mine. She gave me a terse sideward nod of her head, indicating that she wanted me to join them in the kitchen. I sneered at her and plopped myself down at the kitchen table.

"So, are you and Davis in some of the same classes?" My mother asked in that way that only mothers can ask.

"No," Kayla replied with a shy giggle while turning around to look at me. "I see him at school and when he's walking past my house in the morning or after school."

"Davis," my mother said in that way that only mothers can say. "Why don't you walk Kayla to and from school from now on?"

My right eye began to twitch. I knew exactly what was going on, my mother liked Kayla, and now she wanted ME to love her. Son-Of-A-Bitch!

"It's okay," Kayla replied meekly. "He always seems busy, and I don't want to bother him, but I always make sure that I wave hello to him whenever I see him. I think he's nice."

Now it was my mother who gave me the death stare. How did I become the villain in this story? In my own house yet and I'm the bad guy? The beef and vegetables were all prepared, and Kalya placed them into our stew pot, where she stirred the contents gently with our old Koa wood spoon. With her left hand on her hip, Kayla's look went from happy-go-lucky to being very focused. Cooking really was her thing after all. She caught me looking at her and gave me one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen in all my days of living. In return, I think I smirked more than smiled.

"Kayla, since you were so kind in helping me put dinner together, it is only right that I ask you to join us. You don't have to if you don't want to, but if you do, please make sure you call your parents to let them know." Godammed hell! What was my mother thinking? I could feel my fists clenching under the table, and I was sure that my face was turning a few shades of boiling red. I was so livid that I hadn't seen Kayla sit next to me. She placed her hand on mine and asked me if I would move over and make space for her. Her face was covered in a sheen of perspiration, and I handed her a clean dishcloth so she could clean her face.

"I have an extra RC cola in the paper bag if you want it?" Kayla whispered. I nodded in the affirmative, and she brought it out of the bag. Before Kayla could hand it to me, my mother grabbed the can and filled two small cups with ice and poured the cola in both cups, and gave it back to us.

"Thank you for inviting me, Mrs. Kama, but I have to hurry home soon and prepare dinner for my family," she smiled again and stood up to leave, taking with her the paper bag, soda cans, and saran wrap to throw away.

"Where do you live?" My mother asked her while drying off her hands with her own dishtowel.

"The next street over," Kayla replied. "Just near the high school."

"Davis will walk you home," just like that, my mother volunteered my services without asking.


While we walked in silence, Kayla would look up at me and smile, and I would look down and hide the smile that I didn't want her to see. It was like that for the twenty minutes it took to get to her house. When we finally arrived, she hugged me and kissed me on the lips. She turned and opened the gate to her front yard and headed inside her home without a word. There was a myriad of awkward feelings within me that were painful and exciting all at the same time. One of them being my fourteen-year-old erection, which seemed to appear with such verve that I almost fainted. I supposed that all the blood rushing from one part of my body to another in a nano-second could cause one to go dizzy. I ran home after to get my mind off of the sensation in my pants. Awkward, just awkward.

Upon returning home, I admonished my mother for her social faux pas. According to the old custom, it was I who would have allowed Kayla to come into our home since it was myself who went out to greet her.......somewhat.

I was upset that my mother broke protocol by bringing Kayla into the house without questioning who she was. Who was her family? Where did they originate? Yes, I realize this is pointless now considering all that transpired, but there was still something about it that bothered me; little did I know.


We were together after that in spite of my mother lording her, 'I told you so's' over me. It was my duty to see Kayla safely home to and from school come rain or shine. In the course of my gentlemanly responsibilities, it became a matter of time until I would meet her parents. They were very kind and affable people. Kayla being the oldest sibling, it was her duty to care for not only her mother but her brothers and sisters as well. I remember them with kindness as it is that most parents do not receive the boyfriend of their only daughter with welcoming arms. With all that Kayla shouldered at home, she was still able to help me adjust to life in high school. My freshman and sophomore years were not easy, but she would often say that when things became too difficult, I should think of her and how much she loved me, and things would be better. At the end of my Junior year, my father suffered a brain aneurism at work and died while sitting at his desk. My mother had been a housewife for most of her life and now had to find regular employment. She'd been a cashier at Spencecliff restaurant when she first met my father, so going back to the old job wasn't that difficult. However, she couldn't feed both of us and pay for rent at the same time on one paycheck. We had to move to the Big Island and stay with my grandparents until my mother could get on her feet and find a better paying job. Kayla did not take the news well, and yes, there were promises of flying home to see her or her flying to the big island to see me. There were promises of only loving one another and no one else. There were promises of calling every day. It was only then that the thought of making love was necessary, as previously, Kayla wanted to save herself for marriage. So we did, not on her bed but at the park near her house. It was dark by then, and there were a few benches on the far side of the park near a high hedge of mock orange. We did it there, I took my shirt off and spread it out on the bench. She lay down, and it happened as quickly and as awkwardly as I feared, but she was patient, and she finally guided me to where I needed to be.

"There," she whispered with a shudder. "Okay, there."


Forty years is a reasonable length of time for a memory to resurface and travel its way back on a nostalgic path to the present. I was curious one late afternoon while driving back home, and I took the freeway cut off that would eventually lead me to my old west side home at the end of a cul de sac. It was still there, weathered and worn, but none the worse for wear. The foundation of the old home was still unbroken; therefore, the house didn't lean to one side or simply drop to the ground as the result of termite eaten floorboards. The old wooden fence was replaced by a chained link one, and an older woman stood just inside the wall, watering the grass. She noticed me and waved,

"Hi, are you looking for someone?"

"Oh no, I'm sorry to bother you," I chuckled. "This is my old house, I used to live here back in the 70s. My father died in 79, we moved out after that."

"Oh, that was the Kama family, right?" She asked politely.

"Yes," I nodded. "That was us."

She shut off her water hose and opened the gate. Walking up to me, she looked very serious as if something had been bothering her for a long while. "You know when you were living here, did you or your parents ever see ghosts in this house?"

"Ghosts?" I replied, thinking that if any ghost haunted this house, it should have been my father's ghost. Was that the reason for her question? Was my father's ghost still here? Was he looking for us?
"Ghosts? What kind of ghost? A middle-aged looking Hawaiian man?"

"No," the woman replied. "A young Hawaiian girl about thirteen or fourteen years old. Long hair down her back, but hair pulled away from her face? A blue wrestling team shirt and khaki shorts? We can never see the feet though, only down to her knees."

"It's my mother's fault," I said to myself without thinking.

"I'm sorry?" The woman exclaimed. "What do you mean, it's your mother's fault?"

"I'm sorry I mumble a lot, but no, we never saw ghosts while we lived here." I thanked her and apologized for bothering her, and I drove off.


Forty years ago, my mother broke protocol by inviting Kayla into our home. In the year 1994, Kayla died from an overdose of meth. As her brothers told me, after high school, their mother passed away, and shortly after, their father committed suicide as he could not live without his wife. It was too much for Kayla. She turned to drugs, and matters only became worse once she discovered meth. The brothers were forced to kick their only sister out of the house. They hadn't heard from her in a long while until one evening they received a call. Her lifeless body had been found in the men's bathroom of 'A'ala park.

I like to think that somewhere in her mind when Kayla wasn't strung out on drugs, that her happiest memory was the day that my mother welcomed her into our home and told her that she could come over anytime. Perhaps before she died, this was her last memory, and now she visits our old house, hoping that my mother will be there, ready to ask for assistance in cooking up a tasty stew.

And so it is when inviting people into your home and forgetting protocol. Sometimes, you have a guest for life........and death.

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