Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 6, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #27


My father and I spent long Sunday mornings hiking along the river behind our home in Kalihi valley. He'd bring water in his work thermos along with some sandwiches, and we'd walk until we got high enough to where the river started from a large waterfall.
We'd sit on a patch of ferns and have our sandwiches and water. "We are in the Wao Akua, the realm of the gods. Sometimes if we stay quiet, we can hear them, sometimes if we are still and we slow our breathing, we feel them. Always, when we make an offering to ask permission to be in their realm, we will see them."

My father would take out from the brown paper bag, a lei which he made from the ferns growing in our backyard and a sandwich that he created specifically for this occasion. He placed both items in three ti-leafs, which he also brought from our yard and fashion a Ho'okupu. With it, came a chant that he offered. His voice was deep and sonorous, and it filled the air around us with its resonance. I remember feeling my father's voice vibrate through the forest; the level of energy changed, and it heightened everything, almost waking the forest up if you will. We'd sit there for most of the morning until he and I could feel when it was time to leave. Of all the things I remember in regards to myself and my father's time together, it was always those Sunday mornings we spent in the realm of the gods.

Years later, when I spent seven years as a police officer, I was working on a missing person case where a husband claimed that his wife went hiking alone one morning in Hālawa valley and never returned home. This was a time when there was no H-3, and the valley was still pristine and untouched. Unfortunately, the valley had quite a reputation among us Hawaiians and the locals. It was solely for that reason that the search part we organized was a tiny one. We started out very early in the morning before it got hot, one half of the search party was lead by a Vietnam veteran who was a scout in the army. I lead the other half; I recalled how my father and I would hike along the river until we reached its source and so I did the same thing with my group. The batteries on our walkie talkies were fully charged, but how much of a direct radio signal we could keep between the two parties was the real question, especially since we were hiking into a valley with very high and steep mountains on either side. The people in group alpha didnʻt seem to care that they were being led by a seasoned scout from the war, who, from his experience, instructed them to stay quiet. Instead, we, group bravo, could hear them shouting the name of the alleged missing woman from seventeen yards away.

"Elizabeeeeth! Elizabeeeth! Elizabeeeth!"

With group bravo, we instinctively stayed quiet and stayed on our course near the river. By the time it was noon, we were high up in the back of the valley where heavy rain clouds loomed over the mountain tops. In imitation of my fatherʻs example from my boyhood, I asked the group to sit with me on the forest floor as I removed a lei from my pack along with some steamed Uala and three ti-leafs. Wrapping it together into a pūʻolo, I offered the same chant which my father offered many years ago, hoping that my voice could fill the forest with the energy he had. When the hoʻokupu concluded, I shared with the group, what my father had shared with me. "You donʻt have to believe what I say, but we are in the Wao Akua, the realm of the gods. To show respect for being allowed to enter their home, I leave this offering of our intentions to them, the Akua. In this case, I also asked for their help to find the missing woman for whom we are in search."

"Thatʻs kind of out of character, considering that youʻre an officer of the law," one group member said.

"Sometimes," I replied, "you have to use any resource that helps the case."

As if the Akua were listening, I looked off to the right of our group, and out from the depths of the forest appeared the missing woman, Elizabeth Long. She was in excellent health, although very much frazzled and starving. She would tell us that she managed to survive simply by staying close to the river, but somehow, she got turned around and became lost. While trying to find her way back to the river, she happened to hear a Hawaiian chant and followed the sound, thatʻs when she came upon our group. At that moment, I humbly thanked the Akua for their generosity and help, I also thanked my late father for teaching me about respect and honor, because it saved someoneʻs life.

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