Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 24, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #9




This is about that time in my life when my oldest brother Randy came back from Vietnam after a four-year tour.
I remember we were at the airport waiting at the terminal with a bunch of other local families. Some of the soldiers came home on crutches or wheelchairs, others came back with body parts missing while still dressed in their uniforms. Some were prisoners of war who wore no visible wounds but were scarred in other ways. Then there were the people waiting at the terminal whose sons, fathers, nephews, cousins, brothers, and uncles never walked out of the terminal at all. Thinking about it now, I can still hear their deep sobs and wailing. Gives me chicken skin. Randy was the last one to walk off the plane. He lost a lot of weight, his cheeks were shallow, and his brown eyes had a sharpness to it, which continuously scanned an unseen perimeter. My parents cried when they held him, and so did Anne, Randy's girlfriend. When he finally saw me, he bent down on one knee and called me over to him. "Check it out," he whispered. Tears were brimming in his eyes. From his pocket, he removed a sizeable Mighty Mouse watch and placed it around my wrist. He didn't even wait for me to say thank you, he just picked me up in his arms and gave me a big hug. "I missed you, little brother."

"Missed you too," I cried.


My parents took us to the old Wo Fat restaurant on Hotel street as a special celebration for Randy's return home. He and Anne sat in the back seat of the station wagon and held hands. She leaned her head on his shoulders, and several times during the ride, she tried to make out with Randy, but he put her off. My dad had all kinds of questions to ask, which Randy was good about, but when dad asked about how many enemies Randy killed, my brother got real quiet. "If you don't mind, dad, I'd rather not talk about it."

My mom worried about how skinny Randy had gotten and expressed her concern that he wasn't well-fed while in Vietnam. "I'm alright," he reassured her. "There's no need to worry."


It wasn't too long after Randy's homecoming that he broke up with Anne. Randy explained that it wouldn't have worked out. My mother, ever concerned for her oldest, called Anne one morning and asked her what happened? Anne said that she thinks Randy had another girlfriend in Vietnam, but nothing could have been further from the truth. He just didn't want to be around anyone for a while, we'd find that out later on when Randy would disappear for days at a time, and then suddenly appear in the kitchen or the back yard.

"Where've you been?" My dad would ask.

"I just needed to go somewhere and think dad, that's all," he would say.

"It takes almost a month to think?" My dad replied.

"Things happened in Vietnam that you and mom wouldn't understand. I just need time to sort things out, that's all." Randy would say.

A bit of relief came to my parents when Randy picked up a job as a bag boy at Tamura's market. Old man Tamura was a war veteran himself, so he gave Randy a chance. On the weekends, Randy would take a backpack and head up into the mountains. He'd come back on Sunday evenings so he could be ready for work bright and early Monday morning. 


None of us ever bothered to ask Randy about where he went in the mountains or what it was that he did, but some late nights while my parents were in town with their bowling league, Randy would bring Anne over, and they'd go straight to his bedroom. One night, the music was too loud, and he kept playing the same song from his CCR album over and over again. I remember pounding on the door, yelling at Randy to turn the music down. He swung his door open all of a sudden, and it caught me by surprise. Before I could say anything, he smacked me across the face and told me to beat it. My face stung, and when I looked in the bathroom mirror later, I saw that Randy had left a big red mark. I didn't cry because of the pain, I cried because Randy had never hit me before, It's like, I didn't know who he was anymore. He only had his underwear on, and he was sweating profusely, I caught a glimpse of Anne who only wore a bikini. That wasn't perspiration on her body; it was a translucent slime. She smiled at me, and for the first time since I'd known Anne, she made my skin crawl. Randy slammed the door in my face, and I heard the volume go way up louder on his stereo.

"Like a way you walk, like a way talk. Like a way you walk, like a way you talk, Suzie Q,"


Less than ten minutes later, my parents came home, and the record player went off in Randy's room. As soon as my folks settled on the couch, Randy walked in the front door wearing his work uniform from Tamura's.  He had a bag of groceries that he put on the kitchen table first. How did he get from his bedroom where he just slammed the door on my face, to the front door like he'd never been home this whole time?

"Hey," he smiled. "We got home at the same time."

"We didn't even see you walking down the road?" My mom said.

"Really?" Randy rubbed his chin. "I saw you guys, I waved and everything."

"The road is dark, too," my dad said. "No street lights."

"Oh," my mom nodded.

Even with a smile on his face, Randy stared at me, and I stared back as he headed to his room. He didn't lock his door at all. Instead, he called my parents in, and I heard him ask them in a low tone of voice, "You think I can put a lock on my door? I think Junior boy has been playing in my room while I'm at work. I have a sidearm in my drawer, and it's dangerous if he finds it and plays with it."

I couldn't believe what I heard number one, number two, Anne, who was just in his room, was gone! Number three, my dad smacked me upside the head for doing something I never did! I eyed my brother carefully. Even at nine years old, I knew there was something fishy going on with Randy. I hadn't figured the whole thing out yet, but I knew it had something to do with him spending the weekends up in the mountains. be continued

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