Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 17, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #46


FILE CASE: #10081-23-512

'EWA 1978

I hadn't done well during my Sophmore year in high school I was part of a dance group and I was so caught up in it that nothing else mattered to me. My grades suffered, and so I had to go to summer school. I had no choice, my father told me that I wasn't going to be held back, I was going to finish the 10th grade because he'd only gone that far in high school so he didn't want the same for me. The summer school wasn't the punishment, it was placing poles in the acreage we had behind our house. That was the punishment. My father told me that I would also have to dig the holes as well, I wanted to cry but my father whispered into my ear, "You cry, and I'm going to beat your ass."

I was too much of a little shit back then to admit that my failure was all my doing. Blaming people and circumstances beyond my control was the punks way out. The fact that things had gotten to the point where my father was close to administering physical discipline meant that I had really messed up. However, there I was, every afternoon right after summer school was over, digging holes and setting poles. I had to stay out there until the sun went down, which meant I had to eat a full lunch and have a water hose close to me in case I got thirsty. It wasn't until I had a good fifteen poles set in the ground that I began to notice them. They only appeared when it started to get dark, I couldn't make out the details of who they were but they seemed like old ranch hands by the looks of them. Some of them looked like normal everyday people, others were dressed even more strangely. I could make out their faces though, they didn't look happy. The expression said the same thing, "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

One evening after cleaning up and sitting at the table for dinner, my father asked me about how things were coming along? I told him it was as fine as it could be considering the circumstances and his reply was that I had the entire summer to work off my punishment. That's when I decided to mention the people who kept showing up to watch me work around the time it began to get dark.

"Never mind them," he said while chewing his peppered steak and potatoes. "You just keep doing what you're supposed to do and don't get distracted. "

"But they keep staring at me," I moaned hoping to get some sympathy at least from my mom. No luck.

"A real man doesn't complain, he just does his job until it's finished. Not when the sun goes down or when he's worked his eight hours. You're not working from sun up until sundown, you're just working from the time you get home from school until sundown which isn't really that long. So, don't complain, just do your job." When my father had to explain something like that beyond two sentences, that meant he didn't want to hear any more about the subject after he said his piece.
End of discussion.

That's how it was for the rest of the summer, the more poles I set in the ground, the more people showed up to watch me dig and set. In the beginning, they irritated me, but toward the end, they scared me. They were unmoving and unblinking, they were stoic and stood in the same position for a considerable length of time. I began to wonder if they were even real? The only thing that reminded they were real was when they blinked, Not in the way, that you and I blink, their blink was very slow. The eyes closed slowly but when they opened, I could see the whites of the eyes first before the pupils finally appeared. Something wasn't quite right with those people and it gave me the chills but I couldn't stop working. I kept hearing my father's voice telling me to get the work done and don't complain. 

By the end of the summer, I had become adept and digging holes and setting poles, with only five left it was a cakewalk. My father usually got home around four in the afternoon and headed straight to his work shed and after, he'd head into the house and spend time talking with my mom. Today was different. after pulling up into the garage, he didn't go to his work shed. He walked out to where I was about to set the last three poles. Honestly, I thought I'd done something wrong and that I was about to receive that ass beating he promised me at the beginning of summer.

"Here," he said as he took the pole from me. "I'll set it, and you fill in the dirt and pack it."

I was speechless for a second and I didn't know what to say. I never expected my father to come out and help me much less talk to me. He must have seen that look on my face too, "Something wrong?"
he asked in that way that only fathers can ask.

"No," I was still in a state of surprise. "No....uh yeah...go ahead and I'll fill it and pack it."

The last two were easy. It was the very last pole that gave us a problem. Every time we set it and I filled and packed the dirt around the bottom of the pole, it looked great. It stood as tall and as straight as a tree. However, every time we'd step back to admire our handy work, the pole would start to lean to one side. My father and I kept at it until close to sunset, that's when the dark people would appear, standing next to all the previous posts that I dug and set. My father looked up and saw them with his own eyes. I waited for his validation but all he said was, "Just keep working Bran, keep your head down and keep working."

"Who are they, Dad?" I was hoping for at least a history lesson but I didn't get that either.

"Don't talk either," my father grunted. "That's the last thing you want, just put your head down and work."

So, I worked.

For the first time, I was more afraid of something other than my father because he was someone who dictated the flow of my life and he could physically harm me if I didn't behave right. But here now was something that struck fear into me by its mere presence. I put my head down and I worked but I could see them from my peripheral, I could see their unmistakable dark color like sackcloth, they were so tangible that I could probably reach out and touch them.

"Damn," my father sighed as he stood back with his hands on his hips.

"What's the matter, dad?" Thank goodness his consternation had to do with the work at hand and not the dark people.

"This pole is not co-operating, I have to go to my shed and get my sledgehammer and ladder. I think it'll set if I pound it from the top." Without a word he turned around and walked off. I dropped everything and followed right behind him. In no time short, we were walking back to the acreage where I carried the ladder and my father carried the sledgehammer. The setting sun gave us just enough light before it disappeared behind Palehua to see that each pole I'd dug and set during the summer had all been pulled out and thrown to the side. In place of the poles were the dark people, standing there and looking defiantly at my father and me. He wasn't mad at all, he just let out a big sigh and said, "C'mon, let's put these back in my shed."


Two days later and school was back in session. Apparently, I had grown a couple of inches and I lost weight and put on some muscle. Priscilla Daite' noticed first, then Linda Basque and then Melissa Hosaka. I didn't see it at all.

 I only believed it when my homeroom teacher told me, "You've grown and filled out Bran."

That's the only opinion that mattered because I had a huge crush on my homeroom teacher. When I got home from school later that afternoon, I noticed a well-dressed man sitting at the dinner table with my parents. There was an old map spread out on the table before them. My father saw me and introduced me to Mr. Harold Ossurman, a historian and a Kahuna.

"He's going to bless the acreage and then I'll dig and reset the poles," my father said.

"All that hard work for nothing," my mom imitated my groan and laughed at the same time.

"It's alright," my father assured her.

"How come you're blessing the acreage sir?" I asked very politely.

"You did a great job of digging those holes, but the reason the poles didn't set properly is that there are skeletons there. They're all over your acreage, so I'm going to bless the land by asking permission of the bones to continue to let you guys live here and to allow the poles to be set on the other side of the acreage where there are no bones at all." Mr. Ossurman smiled and put his big meaty hand on my shoulder.

"You mean, I spent the summer setting poles on people's graves?" Dammit, my voice was changing because it hit that high crack.

"Burials," Mr.Ossurman corrected me. "Hawaiians just like you and your parents. Oh! And me too!"

Nervous laughter went around the table and the atmosphere was lighter and filled with levity. "I can help you, dad, when it comes time to dig and set the poles, I'm pretty good now, and I don't complain."



The acreage that Branford Mann talked about in this story is no longer there. The land has since been bought out and a school for children with wayward habits sits there now. If you're unaware of the location, it's just before the Zippys near the intersection leading to Renton Road.

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