Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 12, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #49

 Seventh grade was a learning situation for myself and my mom. My first official day as an almost teenager caused me nothing but stress. I had hairs growing in unusual places.

My voice's tone began to creak like an out of tune accordion, and my friends would visibly wince from the sound of it. To make matters worse, I completely missed the fact that elementary school fashion does not work in an Intermediate school environment. Case and point, I wore a lite yellow colored shirt with vertical thin blue lines on it. I wore a pullover sweater that was black with red trimming around the collar and cuffs. My mom made it for me from crochet. I had a pair of dark blue workman's shorts and ankled high boots that I called my 'spy boots.' For the whole day, I was teased mercilessly by the eighth graders, especially the girls. The second I got home, I demanded my mother take me to GEMS and buy me new clothes. She didn't ask why we got in the car and went straight to the store. On the way, there I broke down crying and sobbed about the whole embarrassing ordeal. She said nothing; she just listened. After we got the clothes, we sat at the McDonalds near the old sky slide and talked about nothing. She even let me have a second cheeseburger and soda. The following day was better; the eighth-graders complimented me on my choice of clothing. There was still twenty minutes left until the homeroom bell.

I sat near the office looking over all the paperwork and class schedules when Kaydin Murakami sat next to me and offered to trade his homemade sushi roll for the shrimp tempura from my bento. "Nah, we can share. I have an extra soda," I told him.  That night we ran into each other again at Mr. Miyaji's Karate class when it used to be on Waipahu Depot road across from the old Kawano's. The next day, he halved his sushi roll with me, and we shared my shoyu chicken, corned beef hash, and red hot dogs. The iced cold RC Cola just gave everything that bonus when you wash it all down. Kaydin's dad worked for the union, and his mom did the counter at Sasebo downtown. They were friendly people, and it was good to run into them as a family at Arakawa's, and GEMS, and sometimes at Lung Fung's restaurant. My father and Kaydin's father got to know each other when they could come and watch us during Karate class. Mr. Miyaji was funny about parents hanging out, but he didn't seem to mind when our dads were there. 

On most Sundays when we could, Kaydin and a few of us from karate class would go the movies at the old Waipahu Theater. One afternoon, the film was over, and we were all walking up the aisle to leave. Three boys that we'd never seen before jumped in front of us and blocked our way. They wore the same jackets that had a patch on the breast pocket from another dojo. They came specifically to fight Kaydin. Before we knew what was going on, Kaydin straight kicked the first boy in front of him and sent him flying to the floor. The second kid who rushed Kaydin got a straight punch to the face. The third kid got a spinning side kick just for being there. The first got up and rushed Kaydin. That poor kid got a dropped to the floor with a kidney punch. It all happened so fast that we felt terrible afterward for not even jumping in to help. "Your Kenpo is for nothing," Kaydin scolded the three boys. "You didn't even use one technique; I used the basics."


On the way home, we profusely apologized to Kaydin for not jumping in by fighting the two other boys for him. "No, it's better that you folks didn't. If sensei Miyaji finds out, I'm the only one that will get in trouble, not you guys, so don't worry."

Sure enough, Mr. Miyaji found out. The Waipahu Theater manager's son happened to be a student in Sensei's kids' class on Mondays. He saw what happened as he was watching from the film booth that Sunday and called Sensei immediately. Here's the thing about Mr. Miyaji, if you got into a fight in some public place and he found out about it? There was no praise, no trophy. He'd kick your ass the next time he saw you in class. "You like to fight?" He'd scold us all. "You fight to save your life! You fight to protect your family! You fight on the street because you think you tough? Then you get out of this dojo, or you can fight me!"

His karate was not about beating people up and knocking them out; it was about self-respect, self-control, and respecting your parents and your teachers. That Wednesday night, we began with our usual stretching and warm-ups. Sensei lined everyone up in their rows like he always did; all of us brown belts who were poised for promotion to black belts were lined up in the front. Mr. Miyaji walked back and forth with his bokken tucked into the folds of his weathered black belt. We all knew what that meant; someone was going to get hit with that thing, and very hard. "Murakami," Sensei removed the bokken from its imaginary sheath. He pointed the tip of it to a space on the floor in front of him. Kaydin stepped forward. "You got into one fight at the theater this past Sunday?"

"Hai," Kaydin replied. 

Sensei raised his bokken and pointed it at me, "What about you, Lippy? You when fight too?" I guess you could call it a sense of honor or a lack of common sense, but I didn't want Kaydin to face his punishment alone. None of us did. "Hai."

"No!" Kaydin admonished us. "I'm the only one that fought Sensei; it was over before they could do anything; it's my fault."

"Your fault, but how come your friends like getting punished at the same time as you?" Sensei was animated but not in a fun way.

"They feel guilty for not helping even though I fought the three guys myself," Kaydin fell on his knees and bowed to Sensei. "It was my fault."

"Who were the three boys you fought? Gang members?"

"No, Sensei. They belong to Kinuya-Kai," Sensei picked Kaydin up by his arm and made him stand.

"Class is pau for tonight, go home," Sensei told all of us. "Come, Murakami, I have to talk to you."

After that night, we never saw Kaydin Murakami again.



I worked at a Blockbuster; it was what it was. One evening a group of guys from a Rent-All walked in. The manager gave away a large screen TV that he had no use for since he already had two.  The Rent-All guys were also roommates, so the appliance was a great compliment to their bachelor pad. One of them happened to be Kaydin Murakami. I went over to say hello. He recognized me immediately, and a look of sadness came over him. "So, you still doing the Karate?"

"Not with Mr. Miyaji, I left not too long after you did. Just school and life and stuff," I replied.

"You look like you're keeping shape," he pointed at me. "K, good to see you, gotta go."

"Eh, how're your parents?" 

"Uh, they moved to Japan, long time already," he waved and followed his two buddies out the door. They joked and laughed about the newfound large screen television that would get them a lot of girls.



I did a daytime Waikīkī tour for a while; it was a learning lesson about my self-worth and a reminder never to sell myself short again. The hour was nine in the morning when Waikīkī was relatively quiet and not so crowded. Part of the tour went to the King David Kalākaua statue, which stands at the gateway to Waikīkī. I was bothered by the sight of a few homeless people who made impromptu beddings of carboard right at the foot of the statue. I asked the people on my tour to wait near a park bench while I went ahead to clear out the homeless. One woman saw me approaching and apologized while packing up and leaving. Her two companions followed suit, but the fourth person took his time. He wore a pair of polyester slacks, slippers, and a black G&R shirt. His salt and pepper hair looked like it had Jerry Curl activator all over it. He mumbled something incoherent to himself before he turned around to look at me. It was Kaydin Murakami.

"Holy shit Kaydin," I gasped.

"Eh," he chuckled. "Still doing the Karate?"

"If youʻre around in the next hour, Iʻll came back and we can go eat somewhere and catch up," I was on the verge of tears. I couldnʻt believe what had become of him. I concluded the tour an hour later and came back. Kaydin was gone.



The phone call came from a retired teacher who was now a realtor. Initially, her daughter began to exhibit strange behavior once she reached her later teen years. The woman said that she and her husband took their daughter to seek professional help. The diagnosis was schizophrenia, but the woman told me that their daughter would be fine with the proper medication and counseling. Things were good for a while until the daughter began to exhibit even more strange behavior; she started having full-blown conversations with someone that wasnʻt there. "What scared my husband and me was when our daughter would tell us that the man wanted to know why we were planning to send her to a mental care facility?"

"How is that scary?" I asked.

"Because thatʻs a conversation that only me and my husband had privately, our daughter knew nothing about that," her voice was shaking.

"Did you ask your daughter about who she was having conversations with? Does that person have a name?" It was the standard question I always ask in situations like this.

"She never really said a name," the woman began. "She would only say, ʻKʻden. ʻ You know like how somebody tells you something, and you reply by saying ʻKʻden? ʻ



Mrs. Boshi and her husband and daughter cleared out of the house and went to her parentʻs house in Pearl City. My team waited in silence while I sat in the driver's seat, trying to gather my thoughts. Our van was matted black; anytime soon, one of the neighbors would call the police. Especially with a bunch of Hawaiian and local people sitting in it, all dressed in black. Mrs. Boshi didnʻt understand, and thatʻs through no fault of her own.  Her daughter indeed identified the person she was talking to; it was Kaydin Murakami. My research led me to ask my contact with the local authorities to do a bit of background on my former classmate. Kaydinʻs father, Masahiro, and his mother, Akemi, were both front people for the Yakuza. The how, where, when, and why didnʻt matter to me; I just wanted to know how Kaydin ended up on the path he took in life. The Kinuya-Kai wasnʻt just a martial arts school; it was also another Yakuza front. Kaydin was a member of the dojo until he quit; those three boys from the Kinuya-Kai came after him of their initiative to make a name for themselves. They may have failed, but now they had an idea of where to find Kaydin and cause more trouble. Mr. Miyaji, for all his badass toughness, did not want that kind of attention on his dojo. He knew who the Kinuya-Kai were, so he told Kaydin he would have to leave his dojo and never come back. To protect themselves, Kaydin and his folks moved back to Japan. Once he became of age, Kaydin returned to Hawaii and tooled around with the wrong crowd while simultaneously doing the legit thing. When I saw him in 1989, he was trying to make himself an honest person when he worked with Rent-All. It didnʻt last long. He went back and forth between jail and the street. When I saw him in 2009, he probably half-remembered who I was and went about his business. Before the Boshi family bought their Kaimukī home, it was empty for a while, mainly because there was no yard and no on-sight parking. The house sat in a weird configuration where the wind did not filter through at all. The Boshi family bought it anyway because they planned to fix it up, sell it, and buy the house they really wanted. Before then, Kaydin camped in the house while it was empty and did nothing but drugs until he finally overdosed and died. Thatʻs who Mrs. Boshiʻs daughter spoke to all the time, K-den.

"Are we going in, boss?" Blake asked.

"Yeah," I grunted. "Suit up, itʻs just a blessing, but I want you guys to catch every corner and crevice in this house. Nothing is to be left unturned."

Nadine gave a salute and grabbed Collin as she got out of the van. Blake followed with all the bags over his shoulders. I shook my head and laughed, "K-den, too funny."

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