Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 18, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #45


Case File: 2794986-001

Keʻeaumoku Street

James was the go-to guy for my tattoos. His artwork was great and very imaginative, so I never had to pick out a design. He always did my tattoos freehand and he always did the talking, well, it was more like an interview except that James knew the right questions to ask.
He put you at ease so that you didn't think so much about the pain. Pain is part of the process but James had a talent of taking the edge off through his questions so that by the time you'd told him your entire life story, the tattoo was done. That's why I have to tell you that it came as a shock when I found out that James was terminally ill. He looked like the picture of health, there was no indication that death was strolling up to the front door of his home. The last time that James and I spoke, he was working on a phoenix tattoo piece which was going to cover my whole back. He was in the zone that day so there weren't as many questions like usual. The a/c was at full chill like it always was but for some reason, he was sweating profusely. So much so that I could feel it dripping on my back. I heard him apologize briefly and then it got quiet. I didn't hear the high pitched buzz of the tattoo gun so I turned around to find him slumped over in his chair with his mouth wide open.

He was dead.

The shop that James was part-owner of continued on. It had to because that's what James would have wanted. He was cremated and part of his ashes was spread out from Tantalus lookout which was his favorite chill spot. The other half of his ashes were kept in the corner of his old space in the shop. No one minded, because it was James. As for the remaining partners in the shop, they had to find someone to replace James very quickly, after all, James was popular and he made a lot of money for the shop. So, they had to find an artist who was equally as popular as James and they did. It just so happened that the partners approached Kasey Weathers who was a cutting edge tattoo artist. He also happened to be James's rival, not in a sportsmanship kind of way mind you, but in an 'I'll hate you 'til the day I die' kinda way.

However, money was money and the shop had to thrive, rivalry or not. Kasey, ever the unscrupulous character that he was, began to phone up James's old clients and offered them a discounted deal if they would just come and see him so that he could admire James's work. With a hidden lipstick camera wedged between two large candles, Kasey was secretly recording each of James's pieces and then transposing them to paper. Then when someone came in for a tattoo, he would already have a version of one of James's designs on a stencil and ready to go.

Nothing happened right away, I mean nothing that you could notice. The lights would flicker and the a/c would act up, but nothing really major. But the more that Kasey stole James's artwork the more dissension there was in the shop. Arguments between the partners would flare up over minor things like filling the water cooler, or someone taking too long of a break. Then it became more serious when two cars were racing over the Ke'eaumoku bridge and one of the cars lost control at the intersection of Ke'eaumoku and Kinau and crashed into the shop. No one was hurt but the one space that suffered the most damage was the space where Kasey worked, which was James's old room. Luckily the shop was covered under some really good insurance and the damage was repaired soon after. I remember it was a cool and quiet day in the shop. Things were buzzing along because everyone had a client and there were a bunch of people waiting in the lobby for their appointment. Motley Crue's Doctor Feelgood was blaring on the overhead when all of a sudden everyone heard a horrific scream from the back room. Kasey came running out first, he was hysterical and he kept pointing to his room. His client was still in there, screaming her guts out. Everyone filled the room and they were terrified by what they saw. The woman was standing in the corner of the room screaming, in the opposite corner of the room was a shadow that was so pitched black that the bright lights in the room couldn't penetrate it. It, the shadow, pointed at Kasey, and then it pointed at the urn which contained James's ashes. Then it pointed at the two large candles on Kasey's small desk.  No one saw it right away, not until they moved toward the candles and saw a light flicker between the two waxed flame holders. It was Kasey's camera.

The shadow pointed to James's urn where it moved toward it and dematerialized into it.



The original tattoo shop is long gone, a mere memory of a place that might have never existed had it not been for a talented tattoo artist named James. No one ever knew what became of James's urn after the shop closed down, but as far as Kasey? Not in Hawai'i anymore. Last I heard he was in New York, trying to weasel his way onto a reality show about a bunch of tattoo artists and the life they live.

Luckily, Kasey left Hawai'i with his life intact. His career and his reputation, however?
Yeah, I don't think so.

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