Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 15, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #46

 The studio was on the second floor of the old Kaimuki home, which overlooked the garage. It had everything in it, sink, refrigerator, microwave, bathroom, a/c, and a working shower.

Bookshelves lined every inch of the walls. After getting a good look at the content, it appeared that each tome had something to do with whatever the owner was interested in at the time. The bed mattress sat on a series of low laying dresser drawers that held a collection of vinyl record albums. Bolted to the wooden floor was a massive brass ring, Corden, the owner, used both hands to lift the enormous brass circle, which turned out to be a knob that revealed a door. Beyond that door was a well lit claustrophobic flight of stairs that lead down to a medium-sized space where all of his clothing and shoes were. It was like a department store dressing room, except smaller.

"This is where I hang out, to read or just think," Corden said. "I don't know why; it just feels safe."

"Is it safe for you to talk? Better than upstairs?" I asked.

"Yeah, if it's okay?" He took a seat on the floor and rubbed his hands together. "I'm not a serial killer or anything; it's just my refuge is all."

"I get it, Corden," I assured him. "Don't worry."

"Where do I start?" He asked himself more than he asked me that question.

"Start wherever it makes sense, and then go from there,"

He thought for a second and slowly nodded his head. "My dad had this thing about what a man is supposed to do and be in his life. It all had to do with working hard and playing sports and boxing. He never finished school as a kid, so education was never important to him. My two brothers turned out the same way, but me? Something inside told me that I didn't want to be THAT kind of man."

"I understand," I chuckled. "So, how did you deal with that?"

"After high school, I went to college and got an MBA. I wanted to show my dad the value of an education and what it can do for you," Corden put his head down and wiped the tears away. "He called me a show-off and accused me of trying to be better than him and my brothers."

"I understand that one too," I nodded.

"I wanted his approval so much; I was making the kind of money where I could have gotten a place and a nice car, but he made me feel so guilty, and so shitty-I stayed here," he gestured to the space around him. "I didn't go anywhere." He began vigorously rubbing his shoulders; he looked mildly irritated. "I'm hungry, do you mind if we go upstairs?"

"Sure," I shrugged my shoulders.

"You go up first," he gestured toward the staircase.



"Help yourself," Corden said. "There's Coke in the fridge and bento in the warmer; please eat, no shame."

I made myself comfortable on a gaming chair near the sink while Corden sat on the edge of his bed. The boneless chicken had the right amount of butter on it, and I could taste the marinated beer as well. The rice was jasmine, which seemed to enhance the flavor of the meat. "My God, where did this bento come from?"

"I make it myself," Corden smiled. "A little side business of mine, it's good, huh?"

"Geeze, it's obscenely good!"

"Would you mind passing me one?" I went to the warmer and got out another bento. I went to hand it to him, but I saw that the light in the small bathroom was on, so I put it on the end table next to his bed. "It's over here on your table."

"Sorry, I forgot to wash hands," he called over the rushing water from his sink.



"So, did you want to continue with what you were saying before?"

His mouth stuffed with boneless chicken and rice, he went on. "I made it a point to include myself in all their trips to the baseball games and the smokers boxing matches in Wai'anae, but my dad always gave me shit for it. He didn't want me to tag along if I wasn't interested, but I'd swear up and down that I was."

"Were you?"

"No, I just wanted to fit in with him and my brothers,"

"Is that all you wanted?" I pried a little.

"I wanted his approval, so I lessened everything about myself to get it," Corden chewed slowly as he thought about something. "Eventually, he started to avoid me, or if I wanted to talk to him, he never looked me in the eyes,"

"What about your brothers? Did you tell them how you felt?"

"Only fags have feelings, that's what they'd tell me," he sighed. "So, you see how that worked out."

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked. "I just have to be sure, because after what you just told me, you don't have to do anything that you don't want."

"No," he shrugged his shoulders. "We should get it done."

"He's outside; let me go talk to him before he comes in, alright?" I could see that this was a problematic issue for Corden, so I had to make sure that I did everything right.

"Okay," Corden continued to chew on his chicken and rice.



"Mr. Machado, I want you to prepare yourself before you go in there, alright?"

"What do you mean?" He asked.

"Corden may have changed from the last time you saw him, that's all I'm saying," I put both my hands up as a cautionary gesture. "These things happen, just be ready."

Mr. Machado looked confused, but he agreed to what I shared with him. "Give me a second to go back in and talk to him, when he's ready, I'll open the door, and you can come to see your son."



"So, Corden, I need you to listen to me very carefully," I held my hands up to him, palms facing out in a gesture of caution.

"Okaaaay," Corden tentatively agreed.

"It's about how your father will appear to you,"

"I don't understand?" Corden replied, the tension rising in his voice.

"He's a lot older now," 

Tears fell down his cheeks, and his body shook and heaved while he covered his mouth with his hand. "Oh my god, is he sick? Is he, is he dying?"

"No," I shook my head. "He's just old."

"Okay," Corden put his bento down on the end table. "Okay," he straightened himself out and smoothed his hair back. Nodding at me, he repeated it, "Okay,"



I pulled the portal back and peeked my head out, and gestured for Mr. Machado to come in. Gingerly, he stepped in and scanned Corden's studio back and forth. "Where is he?"

"Over there," I pointed.

An eternity passed as Mr. Machado walked toward the other end of the bed while simultaneously observing his surroundings. Some items he recognized as ones he had bought for Corden himself. Others were newer things Mr. Machado couldn't understand or didn't know that his son found an interest in. I followed behind him until he rounded the foot of the bed and saw Corden sitting on the floor. "Who is that?" He asked.

"Corden," I replied.

"That's some little kid, not my son," I could see he was mad; he thought I was playing a trick on him.

"Spirits have a choice as to how they want to appear after they die, young, middle-aged, old? It's up to them. Look carefully, Mr. Machado, that's Corden," I explained.

"But why is he like that?" Mr. Machado pointed.

"It's probably his age and time when he was the happiest; it's more common than you think," I assured him. "Talk to him, Mr. Machado, he may not be flesh and blood, but his essence is still Corden."

Corden sat on the floor, intently playing with a Lego building block. His father carefully approached him and used the edge of his son's bed to hold on until he could sit comfortably on the floor. "Corden boy, what you doing?"

"Playing lego," the boy replied without looking at his father.

"You know who me, Corden boy? You know who I am?" Mr. Machado was almost there, but he needed to say it himself so his son could hear it and pass on.

"Daddy," Corden muttered while holding the lego piece to his face.

"You know Daddy loves you, right?"

Corden looked up at his father and shook his head, "No,"

"Daddy felt shame when you came back from college Corden; I felt stupid. I never understood why you stayed here instead of moving to someplace better. Daddy, no was a shame of you, I was proud of you." That's all Corden's spirit needed to hear. He put his lego piece down on the floor and wrapped his arms around his father's neck. "I love you too, Daddy,"

For a second, all the sounds and all the feeling went out of the room.  There was a silence that I could not explain, but it was unnerving. Once everything went back to normal, I could hear and see Mr. Machado sitting on the floor, crying like a baby. Ten years ago, Corden Machado committed suicide in his studio apartment, which overlooked his father's home's garage.  Corden's brothers kept the place as if Corden were still living there; the only person that never went in was their father. Lately, he'd had vivid dreams that his late son wanted to talk to him. Mr. Machado didn't know the first thing about how to approach it, so his two sons called me. 



Mr. Machado thanked me after recalling fond memories of Corden as a little boy. Before we both walked out of Corden's studio, I saw that his bento was still sitting on his end table, un-eaten. I took it with me to dispose of it downstairs. Mr. Machado couldn't help but comment, "My two boys get one small store now where they sell Corden's bento recipe. Ono yeah dat thing?"

"It's sinful," I agreed.

"So smart that boy, I'm so proud of him,"

-photo credit: gurushots

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