Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 1, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #60

 ...Continuing from yesterday's story

In the summer of 1975, a budding Buddhist organization in Honolulu then known as the Nichiren Shoshu of America, did the unthinkable.

They built a floating island off of Waikiki's shores, where they presented a spectacular stage and water ballet show along with a rousing parade on the night previous. It was the organization's proselytizing efforts to introduce Nichiren Buddhism in America. What better place to use as their starting point than Hawaii? For a while, the populace of Honolulu became swept up in the revolutionary message of Nichiren Shoshu. They advocated a change from within—the possibility of unshakable happiness in the present tense, regardless of your circumstance or social status. It was an appealing message because it seemed very practical and relatable. All it took was practicing the recitation of a mantra, Nam-Myo-ho-renge-Kyo, which translated as the universe's mystic law or sound. In retrospect, it was the fresh perspective that Honolulu needed considering that in May of that same year, Mr. Trenton Woods, the woodshop and mechanics teacher at Waikele Intermediate School found the mutilated body of John-John Mendoza in a patch of tall grass behind his classrooms. 



An alumnus of the Waikele Schools created a blog called "Waikele High School Memorial." It was a tribute to all former students who passed away while in school or after that. After a minute or so of scrolling through the content, there was a picture of John-John Mendoza. The caption read, "Was this case ever solved? Did they ever find John-John's killer?"

The post resulted in thousands of comments; some were people's memories of John-John; others were negative comments accusing the blogger of exploiting the victim's murder. Many more commented about 'the dream' but said nothing else. One person commented that everyone should shut up about the dream and forget it. That same person chastised the blogger and demanded that they take the blog down and delete it. Only one reply was a phone number, 808-555-8383 in the messages. It was my burner number. The deluge of comments stopped there. A few days went by before my ringtone pinged twice. "I'm Sherrie Valdez," the text message read. "I was John-John's classmate back in intermediate."

"Hi, Sherrie," I replied.

"Back then, every student in the school had the same dream about John-John before he was found dead. Lately, I've been having that same dream," she texted back.

"Really?" I replied. "Do you think you can call me and tell me what the dreams were?"


8: 52 pm

With the pandemic in place, it wasn't easy to meet at a coffee spot, so we opted for the paid parking near Kapiolani Park. Sherrie identified her car as a charcoal Land Rover with a beat-up surf rack on the roof. Once I made sure that it was her, I reversed in next to her so that our driver's windows face each other. The cops couldn't do anything about it because of a lack of signage that says, "Do Not Reverse In."

"I'm Sherrie Valdez," she said through her mask as she rolled her window down.

"I'm Tad," I replied. "As in Tadpole."

"Oh hi," she waved and put her arms out. "Virtual hug!"

"So tell me about this dream from forty-five years ago?"

Sherrie went on to say that initially, none of her classmates knew that others were having the same dreams until they mentioned it to their parents or teachers. Once word got out about the dream, panic on campus ensued. Mrs. Lindsey called a school assembly and assured the student body that these dreams that everyone claimed to have were just a case of mass hysteria. "Teachers," Mrs. Lindsey warned. "If you hear anyone of your students talk about this dream, report them to me, and I will have them expelled."

"No one talked about it," Sherrie said. "No one wanted to get expelled, and then John-John turned up dead just like in our dreams. The sad part was that none of us went to his funeral, we were all too freaked out. It was just John-John's immediate family."

"You haven't said what the dream was?" I reminded her.

"Oh yeah," Sherrie said, almost absentminded. "He had a hunting knife; he was carving himself to death in front of the whole homeroom class."

"What kind of hunting knife?"

"Like a huge oversized Bowie knife with a deer horn handle," Sherrie remembered. "Everyone thought that Mrs. Lindsey, the principal did it because she had a huge hunting knife over her office door. Before John-John got expelled, Mrs. Lindsey went to his second-period class and grabbed him by his shirt and dragged him outside. He tried to punch her, but he missed. She hit him back, though; she hurt him good. When he came back, he stayed out of trouble. Then, he didn't come to school for a week, and it was during that week that everybody had the same dream."

"A mass premonition?" I was thinking out loud and not so much asking Sherrie.

"I never thought of that," Sherrie gasped. "You think that's possible?"

"Anything is possible," I replied. "Well, thanks for sharing Sherrie,"

"Sure, and thanks for letting me get all of this off my chest," she sighed. "I was only thirteen back then if I only knew, I would have warned John-John, and he'd still be here."

"I was thirty-five back myself back then, hadn't even reached my prime," I reflected.

"That would make you eighty right now?" Sherrie asked. "You must keep yourself in good shape, huh? Even with your mask on you, don't look a day over forty-ish?"

"I exercise a lot," I offered. "I never miss a day."

"Do you have Facebook?" Sherrie asked me. "I'll add you."

"It's Tad Hunter,"

"That's your name?"

"No, hunting is how I stay in shape. Trenton Tad Wood is my name," It took a couple of seconds for the light to come on. Once Sherrie got it, her eyes went wide, and a smile came over her face. It was the moment I needed to get out of my car and walk over to her driver's door. She extended her arms to me for a hug; this was too easy to be true. I removed the hunting knife from my jacket pocket and sank it into her sternum again and again. I didn't have time to skin her in the way I would have wanted as I did with John-John all those years ago. One final plunge of the blade in her heart did the trick. 

She was gone. 

I couldn't take the chance that John-John would figure out it was myself in the bathroom stall with Irwin Frankenstein Ching that day. So, I did what I had to do. Of course, I didn't find John-John's body behind my woods and mechanics shop. I put him there. With all the student hysteria regarding John-John back then, I never heard what the dream entailed, can you imagine? Forty-five years later, I couldn't let a blogger try to figure it out either. Mrs. Lindsey wasn't the only hunter at Waikele Intermediate School back in 1975. Unlike her, I kept my cards close to the pocket. 

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