Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 16, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #76

 In the dream, it's dark. I can only see a lone road crew worker. He wears the reflective vest over a long-sleeved lime green shirt. Silently he works with a power cutter making a deep straight line into the pavement.

He turns the power tool off for a second and stands up to wipe the sweat away from his brow. He's in his mid-twenties, and his goatee is growing without care. On his hardhat is a Rebel Souljahs sticker. Without warning, a massive Mako shark appears out of nowhere and barrels him over. The contrast of the pitched black and the thick red mucus cloud of blood is terrifying and yet, beautiful. I jump out of bed, covered in sweat, and I'm shaking with fear. I have enough time to shower and get dressed before work. I grab a tall black can of an energy drink and take several gulps from it. The rush of sugar is overwhelming, but it doesn't wash away the residual fear and nervousness from last night's dream.


The radio morning show drones on about the same thing, the call-in questions and contests change, but the personalities don't. They shout everything they say, and if it's an all-male team, then the conversations are juvenile and offensive. Or, maybe I'm just old and no longer in the loop. Perhaps I got left behind while a whole new generation passed me by and laughed at me to rub it in. There's a bit of traffic, no problem, I still have time. It's moving along reasonably well, so there's no real delay. 

It's road construction. 

Of course, they always do this during peak morning traffic hours, never after midnight when things are quiet, and there aren't too many people on the road. I swear the city and county do this on purpose because no one can be this...there he is—the road crew worker from my dream! Dressed precisely the way he was in my dream, working a power cutter on the pavement. I stopped breathing for a second; my gut knotted up, and my hands began to shake. He stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow. "No," I whispered to myself. "Please, no."

Traffic moved along and picked up its regular pace. Nothing happened. Oblivious to me or anyone else driving by, the young man went back to work.

I spent the remainder of the day going through the motions until things got busy and my dreams of a lone road crew worker killed by an errant Mako shark while in the middle of working a power cutter fades away. Adult kids and grandkids take up most of our attention for the remainder until finally, it was time to fall asleep. In the depth of a night filled with the ambient sounds of motorcycles racing on the nearby freeway, my dream became a swath of black undulating in random unidentifiable forms until it became eerily still. The lone road crew worker manifested again, forming lines in the pavement with the power cutter. I screamed at him, trying to warn him to run or at least defend himself with his cutting tool, but the words came out in slow motion, and he continued. He stood up for a second to wipe the sweat from his brow. A massive stingray appeared out of nowhere and sunk the extended tip of its barb right through his chest. A thick red and black cloud of blood madly swirled around in the air before it suddenly disappeared with a loud snap. I was sitting up in bed, sweating, and shaking. It was ten minutes after four in the morning. So much for a restful sleep.


It was the same traffic route along Kapiolani Boulevard, and it was the same tired radio programs. I opted for a heavy metal station that I hardly listen to—a crew who lived through the beginnings of metal even before the eighties and understood it. Yngwie Malmsteen ran through arpeggios from hell like it was a cakewalk. Nervously, I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel until the cars finally edged up near the road crew worker. He was still working his power cutter but now in a different direction. Instinctively, I beeped the horn, hoping that he'd look in my direction, but the tool's noise must have drowned it out. None of the other road crew seemed to hear it as well. My last resort was to roll down the window and yell at him to get out of the way, but it was too late. He'd already stood up to wipe the sweat from his brow. Nothing happened.


I had to figure out a different route to get to work. Kapiolani boulevard might be the quickest and most direct way to get to where I'm going in the morning, but if I have one more dream about that road crew worker being killed by an underwater predator, I might go crazy. The following morning, instead of taking the left turn from Date street on to Kapiolani boulevard, I went straight through the intersection and stayed on the date until I took a left on Wiliwili. It brought me right out to Kapiolani, where the traffic hadn't eased up yet. There he was, the road crew worker applying the power cutter in the pavement. I didn't have a dream about him last night, so the panic that usually tightened my chest and knotted up my insides was not there. Uknown to myself, two young college students who just had their fathers by them two vintage Corvettes were testing their sports cars out on the road. They came racing down Beretania and blew the intersection at McCully and then took a hard left on South King. Almost on psychic instinct, they turned right on Wiliwili and barrelled their way toward Kapiolani boulevard. Mine was the only car waiting to take the right turn and merge with the traffic. At a blistering speed exceeding eighty miles, the two Corvettes went around me, one on the right and the other on the left. It was too late to stop at that point. Both cars struck and killed the road crew worker.

One Corvette was a nineteen seventy Mako shark; the other was a nineteen sixty-three Stingray. 

It was a horrible accident and an even more atrocious display of careless ignorance and a disregard for other people's safety.  I was furious with the fates or whoever sent me the dreams I had about this poor young man. Why even send it to me if I can't do anything to prevent it? In the scheme of all this, I don't understand. I don't get the big picture. I have a smattering of words, but they don't make sense. Probably because there aren't any words that fit the description of feeling like a piece of shit.


  1. How horrible for you. Even if you were to warn hi, he may have not listened because that was his ob to do.

    1. Or was the reason for the accident to happen was because you took another route to get there?