Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 2, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #90

Chickadee was a hand full for her parents, so they sent her to live with the old Hawaiian man up the road. It could not have been easy for Chickadee residing in a home that had not seen the bottom of a broom or mop as the ancient Hawaiian man himself was hardly around. There was dirt for a yard, and we could hear the two yelling back and forth, but for all the contention, Chickadee put her nose to the grindstone and spruced up the house first. Then she began tilling the dirt and raising plants, grass, and a couple of tangerine trees. Before long, the old Hawaiian manʻs house had a new lease on life. If he was happy about it or not, no one knew.

One afternoon, Chickadee got off the bus from school just as I turned the corner to walk down Maipalaoa road. She struck up a conversation while we walked, asking me about school and what I did for fun? I told her that I wanted to learn Kung Fu like Bruce Lee. She laughed and said, maybe one day. A car came by, and one of the older guys from her school pulled up, and he asked Chickadee if she wanted to learn how to drive? It was a 1968 Mercury Cougar, all brand new and right off the lot. Chickadee said good-bye, and she hopped in the car.

I hurried home to do my chores and finish my homework. Around dinner time, there was a frantic pounding on the front door, my father answered and found the guy who drove the Cougar standing on our porch soaking wet. He told my father that while he was teaching Chikadee how to drive, she lost control of the car and drove it into the canal. She got stuck behind the wheel. My father and the guy ran the length of our vast back yard, which lead out to the channel. It was high tide, and my father got there just in time as the car was sinking.

The vehicle was a total loss, and from what I heard later, Chickadee punched the guy in the face for leaving her in the car, rather than helping her out. Two days later, there was another knock on our door. It was the old Hawaiian man. He asked my father very nicely if he would follow him to his house; there was something he needed to show him. I went along.

The old Hawaiian man disappeared into the darkness of his garage, where he pulled a string hanging overhead. At the same moment, a light came when the old Hawaiian man poured out the last contents from a big lauhala basket. Piled on the table in front of him was a variety of fish, crustaceans, and sea urchins. My father's eyes were wide with wonder, but before he could say anything, the old Hawaiian man interrupted.

"I donʻt have too much money, but everything I caught today, I give to you,"

"For what?" My father asked.

"You saved my Chickadee; she's the only family I have. If she dies, I'm alone, you see?" An expression of gratitude and thanks replaced his usual scowl. "My name is Henry."

"Thank you, Henry," my father shook his hand.

From that day, the old Hawaiian man, Henry, always made sure that he filled our table with half of whatever he caught from fishing. He and my father became terrific friends. We finally moved out of Maili a few years later and settled in Waipahu. One day, out of the blue, Chickadee called to let us know that her uncle had passed in his sleep and that the services would take place on Maui. My father and I attended Henry Akinaʻs services, where a beautiful painting hung over his casket. It was Henry, emptying a large basket of yet another abundant catch. For some reason, the artwork gave me chicken skin. My father introduced us to everyone. They were cordial and made small talk and went about their business. A few asked us where we were from. One woman in particular not only asked us where we were from, but she also asked us if we were close to Henry Akina?

"He was our neighbor for a long time," my father began. "We lost touch after we moved out."

"Oh?" The woman was genuinely surprised. "How did you find out about my brothers passing?"

"His niece, Chickadee called us to let us know," my father replied."How is she doing, by the way? Is she here?"

"My daughter passed away last year," the woman looked thoughtfully at the two of us. "Her husband was the jealous type, he always accused of seeing someone."

The woman never finished her sentence, she kept her head down, and the tears came effortlessly. The silence between the three of us was awkward, I was scared out of my mind after what she said, so was my father, but he carefully made an effort to apologize.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you upset, but I swear it was Chickadee, who called. I'd know her voice anywhere,"

"No, don't apologize. It makes sense that Chickadee would call you. She was very close to my brother, but I remember her talking about a family in Maili that she was close to as well. Now I know it was you, folks." The woman wept not only out of sadness but also from a realization that death is not the end and that her daughter's spirit was still with us.

The following morning we met with Chickadee's mother, Mona, who took my father and me to visit Chickadee's headstone. It was sobering to see her gray and black granite edifice. Her full name was Mara C. Akina. It made me worry that my friend from my childhood would continue to haunt me. Mona must have read my mind. "There's no need to be afraid, Chickadee was your friend. She loved you like her brother, she won't harm you."

After that, Mona took us to the old shop where Guri Guri was served. I had a cup to myself while my father and Mona had their conversation. I wasn't paying attention, I was caught up with the sight of the people milling about in the parking lot, and the different kinds of cars driving through around. Maui was just like Oahu in that there were houses and cars as we had. Families walked by the shop, some too busy with life concerns while others peered in the window, deciding if they were going to come in or not. One family crowded the window for a second and then dispersed. All that was left was one young Hawaiian girl who was naturally beautiful and full of verve and zest. Her eyes were bright, and the dimples in her cheeks became very prominent once her smile brought them to life.

It was Chickadee.

She waved and blew me a kiss and waved again. I waved back and smiled. A smattering of people walked by, and she was gone. It was pointless to try and get my father and Mona's attention, they were still caught up in their conversation. I put my cup down and went outside the shop and looked around, hoping to catch a glance of my friend, but no luck. I went back into the shop and resumed work on my Guri Guri. "I miss you, Chickadee," I whispered to myself. "I miss you."

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