Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 2, 2020

For Whom The Red Rag Waits

There was a crazy woman who lived somewhere in our Kaimuki neighborhood. I could never tell if her ethnicity was Hawaiian, Asian, or Filipino. For a month, she walked by my yard with her white labrador in tow and stopped long enough to tie a red shammy cloth around the fence.
This continued every day, I never went out to confront her. I wanted to understand why she did what she did. My neighbors saw what the woman was doing but did or said nothing. Periodically, I'd see her in different parts of Kaimuki with her dog, sometimes as far as 22nd avenue near Diamond Head. Other times, I'd catch a glimpse of her around 9th avenue in Palolo. Never once have I happened by her home where I had hoped to see her, milling about in her yard or garage. It was the last week of the month, and if I recall correctly, it was eight in the morning. I passed the living room window, on the way back from the bathroom when I noticed her tying a red shammy cloth on my fence. She was almost done, it seemed that she only had three more left until my fence was completely covered. I decided to finally go out and talk to her.

"Good morning," I waved. The woman adjusted the knot on the shammy to make sure that it was secure."I'm Ken, how are you?"

She looked at me from under the brim of her BDU hat and blinked. "Disaster will strike." She regarded me as if I'd intruded on her task at hand, but this was my fence. She shuffled off down the street with her dog ambling behind her.


The following morning she was back, and I went outside to greet her. She saw me coming and rolled her eyes. The red shammy went through and around the fence smoothly before she tied it off in a square knot. "Can you explain to me what it is you're doing?" I asked.

She sighed and paused and placed her hands on her hips. "Disaster will strike."

Like the day before, she left with her dog following behind her.


The last morning had come, I waited at the fence for her arrival. I saw her coming from the north end of my street, her dog dutifully at her side. Without acknowledgment of my presence, she reached behind her neck, and a red shammy cloth appeared. She began to tie it around my fence, but I stopped her. "Listen, I've been nice enough to let you do whatever strange thing it is you're doing for a whole month, and I said nothing about it. Not one word. You're going to tell me why you're doing this!"

"Disaster will strike!"

"Is that why you've been doing this? So that this disaster won't destroy my home?"

"I'm doing it so that it WILL destroy your house!" She shrieked at the top of her lungs.


Across the street, Steve Medeiros was oblivious to the strange woman's rantings outside my fence. His focus was on his fifteen-year-old son who sat behind the wheel. It was Steven junior's first driving lesson. He placed his foot on the brake and pressed the button on the council. The Nissan came to life, and Steven junior jumped. "Keep your foot on the brake and adjust the gear to drive."

Steven junior followed his dad's instructions and put the car in gear. He took his foot off the brake, and the car didn't move. "That's strange," his father mused. "Give it some gas."

The senior Steven didn't specify how much gas should be applied, so Junior mashed the peddle to the metal. The Nissan's tires peeled out, skidding right and left first before it rocketed out of the garage and across the street. The woman standing outside Ken Leong's fence, screaming about a disaster striking, never knew what hit her. Ken made it out of the way at the very last second, the Nissan plowed the woman through the fence and pinned her up against the neighbors reinforced concrete wall, she was killed instantly. Her dog wasn't so lucky, he was pinned under the rear tires of the Nissan. Steven senior sat there yelling at his son to put the car in reverse, Junior did precisely that and floored it having no clue that the retriever was under the Michelin's.


Strangely, it ended up not being my house that was marked for a disaster to strike. It was meant for the peculiar woman. Imagine if I'd just stood there and said nothing while she tied her last red rag and went on her way? It would have been me up against that mangled mess of fence and reinforced concrete. A couple of days later, I was taking a walk down to the Jack-In-The-Bok on Kapahulu. I had my air-pods on when something caught the corner of my eye. A red flag was tied to the fence of Mr. Roche's house on Mokihana street. I froze in my tracks and looked up and down the road for an old lady with a dog in tow, nothing. Perhaps its time to move to another part of town.

1 comment:

  1. bro you write a lot stories about dogs being killed violently.


    you got a problem with animals or something???

    i man who doesn't like dogs is not a man at all.