Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

May 14, 2020

Ear Notes

Dad's old man smell permeates the room whenever he is in it. I often wonder if I'm going to smell that way when I get to be his age?

Lately, he's been up and about at two in the morning, tinkering around in the garage or kitchen. I don't get upset; instead, I get up and ask if he needs anything.

"No," he usually says. "Just can't sleep."

"Is it mom? You miss mom?" I'd ask.

"No, I mean, I do, but it's just stuff from a long time ago," he'd confirm.

That's usually when I tell him to hold on for a second while I go to my room to get my digital recorder. "Go ahead, I'm listening."

Tonight, it had something to do with what happened back in 1969. A few friends of his were in town, he was showing them around the area when they decided to stop and take a few photographs at a blowhole on the westside. A car with three military guys drove up, and immediately one of them strips down to his shorts and dives in. Everyone, including my Dad, warned him and his friends about the undertow, but the three men would not listen. "We all stood by helplessly and watched him drown. Lately, I keep seeing his face, the desperation up until the last minute before he went under. I don't know why."

"Is there more stuff from before that's been coming up?" I asked.

"A lot of regrets," he whispered. "You think some whiskey shots would help take the edge off?"

"It will make it worse," I scolded him.

"Yeah, probably." He agreed.

"Did you want to talk more or just wait 'til later?" I didn't want to press him, which is why I always gave him an option.

"You're brothers, you know," he began. "Pete was the one who was always there, but I was always so worried about David that I never truly saw Pete even though he was standing right in front of me. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Pete called all the time for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries; David couldn't be bothered," he sighed. "When I'd call him, he either kept the conversation really short, or Verna would say he couldn't come to the phone."

"I remember," I nodded.

"The phone would just ring, and no one would answer," my Dad mused.

"I never knew what happened, I just remember there was some kind of fight between him and Jan, and then you went after him for something," I said.

"Yeah," my Dad said while running his hands through his hair. "It was over that girl Rachel, she was playing the two of them against one another. I yelled at David because heʻs the oldest and he was supposed to know better. Thatʻs why mom and I kicked her out."

"Pete," I began.

"..Pete was always there," my Dad said it more to himself than to me. "You think he'll talk to me now?"

"Pete, had a heart attack last year, Dad. Remember? We were all at the hospital," I had to make sure I made eye contact with him, so he understood. "You were there, you held Pete's hand until the end."

"What about David ?" He asked because he wasn't sure.

"David wasn't there," I confirmed.

"Did he - does he hate me that much?" My Dad still didn't understand.

"I don't know," I shrugged his shoulders. "He never said anything at the funeral."

"David was at Peteʻs funeral?" My Dad was shocked.

"He came after when everyone was outside having dinner. Remember I told you I saw him when I went back into the funeral home to use the bathroom? He only made his condolences and left," I said.

"Wonder if he'll come to mine?" My Dad muttered to himself.

I said nothing while I moved across the living room and took a seat on the couch.

"What about you, Tom? " My Dad adjusted his position and looked me square in the eye. "After everything, why do you still hang around and put up with me?"

"It's really you who's hanging around Dad," I replied. "You haven't moved on, your guilt and regrets are keeping you here."

"What do you mean, guilt, and regrets? This is my house!" The old man hissed through his teeth.

"Was your house," I told him. "The truth is, you died of a heart attack at the Big Way market. You soiled yourself, so it took a while to take you away once the ambulance showed up."

He slowly dissipated, but he left that old man smell behind like he always does. I played the recorder back, and all I got was white noise and hissing static. I should try video recording next time.