Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 30, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #62

 It wasn't a secret that we hired guys who lived in halfway houses. The tour industry always has a shortage of drivers. There are still a small handful of old-timers, but guys come and go on the regular outside of that.

For myself, I try not to get close to these guys. I mean, I treat them like a human being wants to be treated, and yeah, at some point during their incarceration, these guys must have become model prisoners because they wanted out, legally. Danilo Mancal was the exception. When the boss hired him on, he didn't say much, but he was always punctual and never gave any of the girls in the office a hard time. I watched him for quite a while. He worked hard and never complained. In his eyes, I could see a determination that he wanted more for his life. It made sense on the day that I happened by the old Ward Warehouse for lunch. I saw Danilo sitting with his girlfriend in front of the old L&L having lunch together. She was at the beginning of her pregnancy. That little scenario caused a pang in my consciousness because it reminded me of the simple life where I came from and the people I grew up with. We all want our piece of happiness, no matter how small. I could see that this is what Danilo wanted too.


One morning I saw Danilo on the way to his bus. In his hands, he held his trip sheet and a large thermos. In a plastic bag was a medium piece of Tupperware with rice and some meat all over it. 

"Danilo," I handed him a sheet of paper. "You got back to backs until three today. You cannot be late; I can split it up between you and one other driver if you think you can't handle it?"

"I can do it, boss, please don't worry," he reassured me.

"Brah, Ted is our boss, call me Reg,"

"Sorry, Reg," he laughed nervously. "I can do it; I got it."

I inhaled a lovely aroma for a second, and I knew that it was coming from Danilo's plastic bag with the Tupperware inside. "Brah, that smells good! What is that?"

"Pork adobo and fried rice," he said excitedly. "My girlfriend made it for me."

"Brah, you better go before I eat that thing right in front of you! You so lucky!"

Danilo ended up having a good day; he made a shit load of tips. As if things couldn't get better, his compliment cards were stellar. That was just one day; if it turned into consistent good days for Danilo, then I'd know that we were on to something. Of course, he didn't disappoint; every day was a good day for him. Even when he had guests who were outright asswipes, he always figured out how to turn the situation around and make it better. One day, I went to the main office to talk to my boss Ted about Danilo and his work ethic. "For every good thing he's done, he stays humble and doesn't want any praise for what he does."

"Keep in mind that Danilo is working here with a few other guys from the same halfway house. That could be why he's not trying to call attention to himself; he doesn't want his housemates to think that he's better than them. Crab in the bucket syndrome, you know?" Ted leaned back in his big office chair.

"Yeah," I nodded. "That's understandable."

"You can dress up a Gorilla in a tuxedo and take him out for a night on the town and get him drunk and get him laid. When its all said and done, and you bring him back to the zoo? He's still a gorilla. Don't invest too much in this guy," Ted warned. "You don't want to end up being disappointed."


A couple of days later, I saw Danilo doing a pre-check on his bus. I didn't mean to pry into his personal life, but I had to know something for myself before I made the next move. "Hey, can I talk to you for a second?"

"Sure, Reg, what's up?"

"What happened, brah? You're a good guy; you work hard. How'd you end up getting tagged?" 

"Oh," Danilo sighed and rubbed his fingers through his hair. "I no like say Reg, I no like you think bad about me." 

"If I thought wrong about you and your friends, none of you would have a job," I assured him. "I'm just asking for myself; that's all, you're not gonna get in any trouble."

"Gambling, too much chicken fights. When the cops came that day, everybody run. One guy throws the rooster in my hands, and he took off...that's how I got busted,"

"No, shit?"

"Now, I just like live my life with my girlfriend and my baby coming pretty soon," he rubbed his hands on his pant leg. "I no like trouble, Reg."

"I wanted to ask if you were interested in making some extra money? It's all legal, so don't worry." 

"Oh yeah, sure," Danilo cracked a smile.

"I know you have to report in at a specific time at night, but if you can get here a couple of hours early in the morning and gas up some of the vehicles before they leave the yard, I figure it can help you out. You already have your HazMat so, you'll do good, fifty an hour."

I had to hope that this offer didn't put him under the scrutiny of his housemates and cause any friction between them. Whether it did or not, I would never find out. I did know that the tips Danilo made, he gave to his girlfriend, whenever he received a compliment he spoke of himself in the opposite terms. He was self-deprecating and humble. Anyone who didn't know better would think that his behavior was a holdover from the old plantation days where you didn't call attention to yourself. That wasn't why.

One day, the head mechanic was on his way to the snack machine for a chocolate bar when he saw the door to Danilo's bus was wide open. On the stairs leading into the vehicle, he saw Danilo's body. His light yellow shirt uniform was drenched in blood, and the rest of it pooled on the stairs beneath him. The mechanic assumed that Danilo must have been there for a while because his skin was pale. That whole incident gave our company the kind of attention we didn't need. As a result, Ted put a hold on hiring any more people from halfway houses. Of course, when the investigators interviewed them, none of Danilo's housemates had anything to say. Eventually, it would be revealed that it was Danilo's girlfriend who killed him. It had to do with money, Danilo had a shit load of it stashed in a bunch of old pampers boxes. On the morning that Danilo was giving his bus the pre-trip, his girlfriend, who dropped him off earlier, realized that she'd forgotten to give him his lunch. She returned and found him standing in front of the vehicle's storage compartment with another woman in his arms.  The storage was packed with used pampers boxes, all filled with money. For each kiss that Danilo and the woman exchanged, he would give her a wad of hundred dollar bills. His girlfriend screamed bloody murder and the strange woman took off running. Danilo must have attempted to board the bus and lock the doors behind him. The girlfriend made peppered steak and rice for Danilo's lunch that day, which meant that she provided him a fork and knife to cut up the meat. His girlfriend used that same knife to stab Danilo to death. 

On the day that Danilo was arrested for running illegal chicken fights, his girlfriend panicked and threw the losing rooster in his arms and took off. It turns out that the two of them ran the whole operation, but the girlfriend left him holding the bag. When she found out that Danilo was being placed in a halfway house, the girlfriend suddenly appeared and made her case to Danilo. He'd been away for a while and found it difficult to resist her sexual advances. She became pregnant with his child, or so she told him. The child wasn't Danilo's; the birth father was some guy who wanted favors in exchange for Mexican weed. He got what he wanted and left.


So, where is the ghost story in all of this, you're asking yourself. After six months, we had to put down bus three zero one in pretty much the same way that an old horse or cow has to be put down. There were too many complaints from customers who claimed to see Danilo's bloody stinking apparition sitting at the bus's back. Some claimed to have only seen him in the driver's rearview mirror. Drivers, mechanics, and the office girls alleged that they saw Danilo driving his old bus out of the yard early. The overnight cleaning crew always complained that they had a hard time getting rid of the bus's strong metallic odor. Most chilling is when bus three zero one had all of its batteries removed and was nothing but an empty shell sitting in the old bus yard at Ke'ehi. The dispatchers would hear strange clicks on the alpha channel. A voice would come in over the static and say, "Three zero one, I'm ten-ninety. Three zero one, ten-ninety." Everyone swears it was Danilo, calling in his code. He was on his way back to the yard. One of the girls at dispatch was working alone one night and heard the same thing. No driver could call in their ten-ninety at that hour because all buses had to be back in the yard by ten 'o clock. She had the overnight crew check for three zero one. The crew came into the dispatch office a few minutes later and confirmed that the vehicle in question was sitting empty and without batteries in the Ke'ehi dirt yard. At that precise moment, the static came in strong over channel alpha, and everyone heard it.

"Three zero one, I'm ten-ninety. Three zero one, ten-ninety,"

"Three zero one," the dispatcher replied nervously. "What, what's your twenty?"

"I'm twenty in the yard," the voice replied.

"Twenty where? The Ke'ehi yard?"

"The bus yard," the static came on.

The dispatcher said she was angry at that point. "Who is this?!"

"Mancala," the voice clicked in. "I'm waving at you."

The dispatcher and the overnight crew looked out the office window and saw bus three zero one idling in the parking lot. Danilo's bloody apparition smiled and waved.

No comments:

Post a Comment