Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 28, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #64

 Certain kinds of houses are put together with the Hawaiian stature in mind. Take me, for example, five feet ten inches tall and very broad-shouldered and a wide frame. The house on the eleventh avenue tract in Kaimuki was designed for persons of a smaller frame by its architectural style.

You'll understand the difficulty in blessing this home and thus trying to relieve the spirits that infested its walls, rooms, and occupants. The larger percent of the time, it's the people and their issues which trouble a home, not ghosts or spirits. This house was a rare ten percent. The home was built in nineteen-twenty five against the warnings of every Hawaiian family who lived in the area. The owner had no care for Hawaiians and their superstitions and built the house just because he could. The accidents began on the first day of construction. One carpenter nailed his hand to a plank and afterward swore that he had no control over what happened. Another carpenter found a large shell-like comb. At first, he threw down his lathe and used the shell to even out a piece of plywood. Then, he tossed the plywood aside and used the shell to scrape the flesh off his forehead. Right down to the bone.

When the other carpenters stopped him, they would later say that it looked like he was in a trance. He was fine once he stepped foot off the property. If it were not significant incidents where workers were intentionally hurting themselves, then it was instances where they were hurting each other. Fights broke out over perceived slights or supposed direct insults. The men claimed that they heard the voice of one co-worker call them a stinking Jap or a Chink. Or they would suddenly be overwhelmed with the feeling that all the other men were against them, and the attacks would begin again. For all that trouble, the house was finally completed, and throughout the years, no one seemed to live there for very long. If they did, they went mad.

A week ago, the current family who occupied the place said they'd bought it for a steal at $50,000. Nothing was wrong with it, and it was just the kind of home they needed. Six bedrooms, big fenced in yard, a large mango tree in the back and lots of parking. The neighbors were cordial enough but never seemed to want to make conversation. "For some reason," Takeshi Ono told me. "We always felt like ours was the only house on the block."

"If my memory serves me correctly, that's a small street with not much wiggle room, am I right?" I asked.

"Yeah, cars parked on the street and everything so you know, that's why I felt so lucky that we have such a big parking space on our property," he agreed.

Takeshi said it started with the kids; they were always at each other's throats the way that kids usually are. It's a regular thing, sibling rivalry. But one day, it sounded like a riot had broken out in the back yard. Takeshi and his wife Linda ran outside and witnessed their children tearing one another from limb to limb. There were bloody scratches and deep gouges all over their bodies. "And their faces," Takeshi shared. "They were like animals, teeth bare, eyes wild! They were growling like rabid dogs!"

"What about you and your wife?" 

"Uh," Takeshi sighed. "I woke up one night to see Linda sitting on my chest. She had a cleaver right up to my throat; she had this insane look on her face like Linda wasn't herself, and she was crying. She kept asking me why I was sleeping with another woman, and how could I do that to her?"

"Whew," I exhaled—chills went down my spine, and I could almost see the image that he painted with his words of desperation.

"Linda is the only person I love, there's no one else," Takeshi was in tears now.

"Taka," I began. "When did you begin to attack your wife?"

"I never touched her; it never got to that point. I moved my family out that same night that thing happened with my wife. Just bless it, save another family from what happened to us," Takeshi pleaded.


It's noon on a Saturday, and I'm standing outside the front gate of the eleventh avenue home. It's large and spacious like Takeshi described it. Still, knowing that this home was built on an old compound where prisoners of ancient Oahu wars were herded together, I hesitated. Can you imagine never knowing your fate? Never knowing if it would be life or death until one of your own was plucked from among the thousand and returned with no eyes, no head, or broken bones? It must have been maddening. That's the energy that permeates this property. I offer my genealogical chant first; then, I offer a chant asking for permission to enter. A calm wind blows gently through the property, and I take it as a sign that I am allowed. I walk up to the front door, which Takeshi told me he left unlocked. I turn the knob and push. The door opens to my right. I step through, and without warning, I hear the creaking of old wood, and the door frame shrinks around me. I step back quickly, and without a second thought, I go to the home's back door. The same thing happens, except the wood creaks with a loud tortured moan and shrinks even more. The house won't let me in.

I take a chair sitting up against the large mango tree a few feet away, and I pray. I ask my ancestors for guidance because I am lost. I don't know what I should do at this point.

"Haʻalele," a voice softly spoke. "Waiho kēia wahi kaumaha,"

The voice urged me to leave that place, burdened with sadness. Never one to ignore the ʻūlaleo of my ancestors, I left without a word. I called Takeshi and apologized, telling him that I could not do the blessing because his old house was not physically safe. I also thanked him for his concern regarding whoever the next occupants of the eleventh avenue house would be. He understood and thanked me. That night when I dreamt, it was like I was continuing a chapter of a television series. I was sitting on the floor of my mother's old home while she sat in front of me on her old couch. The air smelled of Vicks vapor rub, thatʻs how I knew it was her. She wore blue Bermuda shorts and her old Kapiolani Bowling league shirt. "Donʻt feel bad because you couldnʻt bless that house. It wasnʻt for you to do; someone else will come later and do it."

"Did I do something wrong, Mom? Did I forget something?"

"No," her voice was soothing but so firm. "Those ancient people who died there are not of our genealogy; therefore, we have no right, no kuleana to that place. I know your heart boy, and the spirits on that property, they know too. But this one you have to let go. One of their ʻohana will come, and everything will be made right."

"Were they the ones who made the door frames shrink?"

"That was us, your ʻaumakua. We are not supposed to intervene until you need it or figure things out for yourself, but today an exception was made. Normally, I pull your ear," my mother laughed.


We canʻt be all things to all people all the time in every capacity. Not only must we know our limits, but we must also know our place. If we are not able to kōkua, someone else will. Trust your ancestors.

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