Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

May 25, 2020

"Lawe Leka"

Our mail carrier introduced a young man to everyone on our street. He was new and was doing his best to absorb the lessons taught to him by his senior. He shadowed his mentor for half of the month before he finally became our new mailman.

He was young, not yet thirty, but he looked as if he were aged twenty more years. His eyes stared a thousand yards beyond you even though he looked you in the eye. He was cordial and quiet when bringing a letter or a package, but he was definitely haunted by his past.


The mail never comes on Sundays except on those rare occasions when it's a package of some sort. Such a day came when I heard the familiar bark of my dogs that was only reserved for the mail carrier. Without fail, the sound of his truck pulling up and coming to a quick stop roused me from my bed. It was my weekly alarm, but today was the seventh day when no work is done. I made it to my garage door just in time to see him place the packet on my work table.

"Good morning," I nodded. "A delivery on a Sunday?"

He was a bit surprised but not startled. "Yeah, special delivery, I suppose. Sorry if I woke you."

"No apology needed," I assured him. I opened the door to my mini-fridge and pulled out a cold can of Cola. "Something for the road? Hot weather today."

"Thank you," he replied and accepted the beverage.

"I'm Craig," I introduced myself.

"Matthew," he reciprocated, and we shook hands. He held up the Cola in a gesture of thanks and walked back to his truck and drove off.


Somedays, Matthew drove up when we were having Tennessee whiskey steak or a birthday party. I'd make him a plate to go and reassured him that the gesture would just be between him and myself. He was very appreciative, but he always made it a point to let me know that mail carriers were not allowed to accept gifts or presents of any kind. My answer to that was to hand him an invitation to any party or celebration we were having, that way he could attend as our guest and not as the mailman. I was never sure if he was going to show up or not, but he did, he showed up to one of our monthly cook-outs and impressed my wife by coming early and helping to set up. It turned out that he was pretty good on the grill too. In fact, he gave me a couple of tips on how to make an excellent glaze to go with the marinade. He didn't stay long in the beginning, he would have his meal and a couple of drinks and then thank us before leaving. Matt gradually opened up after attending a few more of our celebrations at our home. He and I sat quietly near the grill, picking on tasty shards of steak and sipping glasses of honeyed whiskey.

"Is mail delivery the only thing you've got?" I asked him. "Any hobbies or part-time work? I'm not being nosey or anything mind you, just making conversation."

"That's pretty much it," he replied. "I've got a gym at home, so there's that. They pay is good, health insurance, retirement benefits."

"No plans for marriage?" I asked because I saw the way my daughter always looked at him. She made concerted efforts at trying to at least make small talk with him. I couldn't tell if he didn't see the bait or if my daughter put out the wrong kind of lure?

"Nah," he smiled slightly. " I couldn't do that to someone."

"I have to ask you something," I said. "If I offend you and you feel like you don't want to come around anymore, I'll understand, but I have to ask."

Those eyes that normally gazed a thousand yards beyond me now bore a hole right through me, half daring me to ask and half pleading with me not to. Perhaps because his answer might be the unchartered territory where I would regret to tread. "Alright," he was very hesitant.

"You're a former military?" I asked.

"Yeah," he exhaled quietly. "Was that the question?"

"No," I answered. "Just part of it."

"Oh," his reply was foreboding.

"I'm not going to ask you anything about what happened, what you saw, or did because that's none of my business," I assured him.

"Alright," he shrugged.

"What I want to know is who those six soldiers are that always come with you? They're there every time I see you, but they never come past the edge of my walkway," I told him.

"You're right, Craig," he answered. "It's none of your business."

Matthew stood up and walked out of my garage without a word.


Come Monday morning, a different mail carrier placed our letters and packages in our mailbox. To his credit, he was jovial and bubbling with enthusiasm. He introduced himself as Manu, he was temporarily working this route until they could find a permanent replacement.

"I hope it's me, I hope I get this route permanently," Manu whispered. "The Kalihi kai route is kinda sketchy."

"What happened to Matthew?" I asked.

"Oh, was that the regular guy?" He answered a question with a question.

"Yeah, good kid. We all liked him," I told him.

"No idea, sir, sorry," Manu jumped back in his truck and proceeded down the rest of my street.


It was one of those days that was so perfect and timeless that you lost yourself in it, and you didn't care if it was a Monday or a Wednesday. It made sense then that one of my psychic network friends called me out of the blue. He was a harmless local Filipino boy who meant well, sometimes he could wear on you because he had a tendency to repeat the same information over and over again. His name is Patrick, but I call him 'Patis' after the local fish sauce.

That's another story for later.

Patis said he received a call from someone who wanted to come in for a one on one reading and not a phone session. Patis opted for an open-air coffee choke and puke as clients sometimes turn out to be complete wackjobs. That way, if they made a scene, Patis had the convenience of witnesses and security. It turns out that the client was a reticent young man with eyes that were very intense. He was right to the point.

"He said he had friends of his who were killed in Afganistan," Patis said. "They keep following him around, he wanted to know how to help them move on."

"What did you tell him?" I asked.

"I gave him your name, number, and address because you're the only person I know that can do that," Patis replied. "He did this sigh thing, and then he gave me my money and left. I can give you his name if you want?"

"No," I replied. "That's ok, don't worry."


I wish there was a neat tie up to this story or, at the very least, a decent ending, but there is not. I haven't seen Matthew in five years. I think about him a lot, and I worry about him more, especially on the holidays that honor our fallen. I could have helped the ghosts of Matthew's fallen comrades move on, that's for sure. But helping Mattew deal with the other ghosts from his time in Afghanistan is one part, Matthew, and one part people like us, who love people like him. I'm only speaking for myself, I can't speak on behalf of everyone else because we're our own people with our own thoughts and feelings. I think we have to be tireless and ever-persistent in letting guys like Matthew know that we are there for them no matter what.

We owe you more than just our thanks for your service, and hopefully, one day, much sooner than later, there will be more.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to get in touch with Lopaka Kapanui for a couple of years. I was supposed to meet with him 3 years ago at the Town Library during on of his lectures. I had a heart problem and could not make it.I retired from the Attorney Generals office, so I am an objective person. I got my first paranormal experience when I was 14yo in Peral City. As an adult I worked at the Hawaii State Hospital max unit CISU.I . Worked at the Sheraton Moana as a security for 8yrs. Worked at Waimano Home with juvenile rapist and a 10th ave home for halfway release house that we had to leave due to many unexplained things. Also had loved oned reach out to my on 2 occasions. I assure you Mr. Kapanui I not crazy. I have seen to many and heard to many things that my objective investigators mind can't comprehend. I retired from the AG office so you know I am not a fantasty person looking mfor attention. I just want to tell my stories and get it off my chest. Mahalo for listening. I would like to talk to somebody because these things bother me when I reflect back on this incidents. I am at and ph# 808685-8120