Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 2, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #59


Such a long and scenic drive through Hakipu'u and Ka'a'awa.  It's one of those lazy days where one should enjoy the moment and not go halfway across the island for business.

I was gone once I emerged from the Wison tunnel and inhaled the ocean's air.  No longer was I in my Dodge, but in my father's old Impala station wagon.  Olomana played on the 8-track while I sat in the reverse rumble chair with a sketch pad in my hands.  I loved the scenery and the pungent aroma of old guava fruits on the side of the road.  I drew everything I saw with as much detail as I could.  Such a simple memory brought me to tears, and I couldn't explain why.  For a mere nano-second, I considered calling ahead to cancel. 

I'd been putting off this voice message for weeks.  I recall replying by text and telling the caller that texting was the best communication method.  They called, always they called.  I don't want to talk just to anyone via cell phone.  If it's someone I know within my small circle of people, I might pick up and engage.  So, if you haven't already figured it out, I finally answered the call, and here I am, on my way to meet the caller and her great-great-grandfather. On the fourth or fifth voicemail, she finally stated the reason for her call.  She alleged that her great-great-grandfather is the oldest living person in Hawaii at one hundred forty-two years old.  She sent pictures of him to my phone, and I have to say that if that person was real, he didn't have much of a face.  Where there should have been a nose were just two holes.  The mouth twisted in a perpetual frown, and the eyes were red and glazed over.  If anything, the picture looked like a harmful special effects dummy from an even worse B-movie.  So, why am I on my way out to talk to these people? 

Honestly, I don't know. 


The most recent voicemail from this morning specified that we were supposed to meet at Kahana Valley Road.  She said she'd be wearing a red shirt and jeans.  I reached Kahana Bay and took the specified left turn as instructed.  I cruised slowly, scanning the road on the left and right.  I didn't see her until the end of a cul de sac.  She waved and approached my car, "Nice to finally meet you; I'm Kalani.  You can leave your car here,"

"You sure?" I asked cautiously. 

"No need worry, nobody going bother your car.  I already told my uncle that you were coming.  They live here, so you'll be fine," she assured me.  "

"Where are we headed?" 

"This is why I asked you to wear a long sleeve with jeans and boots; we must walk to our place.  It's not too far," she pointed to the thick forest.

"How far is not too far?" I wondered out loud.

"A mile and a half," she laughed.  "No, tell me you are out of shape?  Lunch awaits us; you can work up your appetite when we get there."

"How old are you, by the way?"

"Twenty-three," she turned and looked me straight in the eye.  She understood the veil beneath my question.  She was tall and slim, this girl.  She had long, thick black hair and big doe eyes like most girls from this side.  " I call my tūtū great-great-because heʻs so old that one hundred forty-two years is the only speculative assumption we can make.  He's probably older than that."

"Alright," I shrugged. 

"Cʻmon," she waved at me and walked into the depths of the nāhele.


She was adept at traversing the rough terrain; she moved fluidly compared to my stumbling and heavy breathing.  Along the way, she picked ferns and particular flowers without stopping once.  By the time we reached the home, she had woven a lei and placed it around my neck.  "It can never be known that a guest who came to visit was not welcomed properly."

She offered a chant to me that Iʻd never heard before.  In it, she petitioned the myriad deities in Kahana for their appearance alongside her, that she may adequately welcome the malihini from a far away.  Just then, a sudden wind jostled the trees at the tops and shook them around as if they were trying to shake a bug off of a broom.  Never once did it filter through where we stood.  Then she identified the ferns and flowers from which she crafted the impromptu lei; even though it was pālai and ʻawaphui, she seemed to address them as personal friends.  She asked the two items to protect me while I dwelled in the forest until I returned safely home.  Turning her attention to the waters we just crossed, she asked that they remain a mere trickle until the time came for my departure.  Completing the chant, she thanked her ancestors and family gods. 

Everything happened so quickly that I didnʻt have a chance to look at the house properly.  In the depths of the Kahana forest stood a two-story Victorian mansion.  It wasnʻt pristine, and it wasnʻt old and run down.  It just seemed to be older than its appearance, almost ancient.

"I know," Kalani acknowledged my thoughts.  "It's a bit much to take in when people first see it, but I know you will appreciate it once we go inside."

Ascending the four steps, she looked back and waved at me to follow her.  Even with her heavy boots on, she moved smoothly across the wooden-floored veranda.  Stopping at the door, she removed her thick woolen socks and boots.  I did the same, of course, but I felt like I would get splinters in my feet if the inside floor were worn and brittle.  To my amazement, there were three large lauhala mats on the floor; on them lay a spread of lau lau, succulent yellow ʻopihi, kalua pig, and three large bowls of poi, waiting to be eaten.  Kalani pulled on my sleeve and directed me to a large wooden water bowl on a stand.  "Holoi lima," she whispered.  I stepped aside and let her go first.  After washing her hands, I dipped my own in the dark wooden bowl.  It could have been a cauldron for all I knew because it didnʻt seem to have a bottom.  The water tingled my skin with an energetic charge, and I had to look at my hands for a second.  "Iʻll be back," she whispered.  "Iʻll go get my tūtū, and we can talk while we eat."

She walked up the five-step dais on the other side of the room and disappeared into what seemed to be an even bigger room.  While she was gone, I noticed something that escaped my attention for a few seconds.  There were no flies or mosquitos.  Where are the bugs, especially this far up in the valley and so near a water body?  There was no trace that creepy crawlies had ever lived in this space.  "No need to concern yourself with little matters," the ancient voice emerged from the anti-room, and with it came its owner.  He was exactly like his picture, which made him look shriveled and small, but in person, he hunched at the shoulders and walked gingerly down the steps with his great-granddaughter's aid, although how many times great we are now not sure.  "I heard Kalani chanting from my bedroom.  We can consider the food already blessed, so let's sit down and eat together."

Kalani helped him to the floor and made sure he was comfortable.  She placed the lau lau and kalua pig in one bowl and moved the giant poi bowl before him.  Grasping a wooden spoon, he began to partake of the meal.  Kalani seated herself and followed suit as I did myself.  "Call me Kepoʻo, but donʻt ask my full name.  It's too long, and I only have this time to share a meal with you, good sir."

"Iʻm honored to be in your home," I bowed my head slightly and placed my hand over my heart.

"Youʻre not a man of forced formalities or protocol; you speak and do as your heart dictates," he nodded slowly while regarding my presence.  His accent worked thick through his aged voice, but it was definitely British.  "A rare quality that moved me to ask Kalani to bring you here."

I assumed nothing for some reason.  There was no evidence that the home was connected to any mainline for electricity.  Yet, the house is lit well on the interior.  In the few minutes I've been here, I have not seen Kalani remove the cell phone she used to call me.  Briefly looking at mine, I noticed that there was no signal.  Did Kalani have to hike a mile and a half out of the forest to contact me?  Almost as if reading my mind, Kepoʻo said, "You wouldnʻt believe the distance Kalani travels to her uncleʻs home just to call you.  Youʻre finally here; that's all that matters."

The food was distracting; it was so delicious that I had difficulty focusing on the conversation.  "Your granddaughter tells me that youʻre one hundred forty-two years old?"

"She is kind and full of compliments," Kepo'o nodded to his granddaughter.  "I'm afraid I am not so young but much more advanced in years."

"Tūtū, why he is here..." she reminded him.

"Yes, thank you," he chuckled and rolled the spoon handle with his fingers.  "I have a story I want to share with you; what you do with this story hereafter is in your hands."

I ate slowly and looked at him for a while, letting him know he had my full attention.  "Kalani lived in England once; she attended school there, but great turmoil within her family required her to return home.  I urged her to remain in England.  I had a premonition that she would never return once she left for the islands.  She assured me she would return when her family affairs were in order."

"So, you came back home instead of her having to return to England," I concluded.

"Not immediately," he whispered.  "Only when it was needed."

"How were you able to travel on your own?  I mean, considering the extremity of your age, it could not have been easy,"

"It was not difficult in the least," he remarked casually.

"Really?  You must be healthier than you look?" I mused.

"When I returned to Honolulu, a few years had passed; Kalani and I were the same age by then," the old man began.

It took a moment to grasp what Kepoʻo just said.  My brow wrinkled with confusion.  "Iʻm sorry, what?"

"My tūtū and I were both twenty-three at the time," Kalani repeated.

"What do you mean?  Youʻre twenty-three right now; I mean, like today," Why do I feel as if Iʻm reprimanding a child?

"Correct, and I've remained twenty-three all this time," Kalani spoke matter of fact.  "Tūtū, or Toby, aged one hundred and forty-two years."

"Outwardly, we say that we are Tūtū and great-granddaughter because of my appearance.  Truthfully, I am and have been her intended.  We were to marry, but another marriage was arranged for her at home," Kepoʻo, or Toby, said.  "The only method of escape was to fabricate her death and hide her away."

"We found this place," Kalani said.  "The water in the bowl is the life of Kāne; you felt its mana when you washed your hands.  It kept me ageless at twenty-three; who knows what it's done for you?"

Toby interjected.  "Rather than gaining eternal youth, I age just as anyone else does, but I donʻt die.  I've accepted what the waters of kāne have done for me."

Finishing my meal, I stood up, bowed to Kepoʻo, or whoever he claimed to be, and excused myself.  Kalani did not come after me; I managed to find my way out of the Kahana forest alone.  We started at noon; by the time I emerged from the valley, it was dusk.  My car was untouched, and I was glad to leave.  A couple of crackpots; their scheme made no sense.  Why bring me there, prepare an elaborate meal, and then tell me some meandering baseless lie about immortality?  And that house?  Rich eccentric, crazy people that is what it is.  It is for reasons like these that I donʻt answer phone calls.


The renovated hotel in Waikiki featured old lithographs, artwork, paintings, and photos of the Hawaiian royalty making their homes in the area.  I was in a business meeting that day in that same hotel.  It was brutal and filled with useless suggestions about how to kiss ass for the tourist dollars even more.  "The customer is always right," the head of the meeting emphasized. 

"Pfffhhttt," I must have said it too loudly because everyone turned their seats around to glare at me.  "It's just that I own my business, and Iʻm an accommodating person by nature, but Iʻm not going to stand there while the customer debases me for the sake of return dollars.  No offense that may be how things go in Japan, but we are in Hawaiʻi."

"Well," the moderator asked.  "Do you have a pertinent suggestion?" The little kiss-ass turned to his friends and smiled.

"Yeah, stop trying to be Las Vegas, Rodeo Drive, and Japan all rolled up into one.  Why bring people here to see a place that looks like where they just came from?  If that is the case, why even get them here at all?  You push Hawaii as THE destination, but youʻre afraid of your host culture."

I walked out right after that; I had no fear or regret about what I said because I donʻt work for the Waikiki circus; I work for myself.  The smell from the buffet line called my name, but I had enough of this place for one day.  The tourists in the lobby walked toward me like I was in their way and should move—fat chance.  They made a wide berth when they realized they were about to lose the chicken game.  I passed the concierge desk on the left and was headed out to the side street on.....wait.  Something caught my attention.  I walked back into the lobby; I was stunned.  Why didnʻt I see it while I was there?  I moved in the same space as they did and spoke to them.  I ate with them.  I thought I finally went mad for a moment, but I didnʻt.  Iʻm not crazy.



It was the end of the road at Kahana Valley.  I hadnʻt even thought about how I would get back there because I didnʻt remember the way, but something drove me to go back and see for myself.  It turns out I didnʻt need to go searching; she was already there, waiting just inside the trees, except she wasnʻt wearing her red long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots.  Instead, she wore the one thing known to be her favorite.  In my mind, I knew, but I had to hear it from her.  "Who are you?  What...what is this?  What's going on?"

"Something happened that brought you back here?" She knew too.

"I was leaving a meeting in Waikiki and saw your picture on the wall beside the concierge desk.  It is impossible that it's you in that photograph, but it is you.  Tell me how?" I did not even notice that her ʻunclesʻ were gathered around me, ready to pounce on me if need be.  She glanced at the men, and they bowed to her and left.

"We explained it to you, Toby, and I,"

"Toby De Courcy?  THAT Toby?" I raised my voice, and I didnʻt mean to.

"The same," she nodded.

"But how?  How?" I persisted.

"Toby discovered that the waters of kāne was not the makings of our folklore but real.  He came across it while exploring a wet cave in Kualoa.  He gathered as much of it as possible and brought it to me.  Our mistake is that we put our hands in the water at the same time.  I stayed twenty-three, he would never die, but he would never stay young," Her eyes were bright and full of life.  Very unlike the pictures for which she has become famous.

"You faked your death with a double, someone who had the same rheumatic fever as you,"

"The waters of Kāne took that away, but yes, you are correct,"

"And that house up there in the valley?" 

"The very same; it sits on an ancient heiau that is a door between worlds," she confirmed.

"Then why show it to me?  No one is going to believe any of it!  Even I donʻt believe it," I was in tears now.

"The next opening comes on the Hua moon; Toby and I will go through, and weʻll be as we were once, but not here, not in this world.  After we are gone, you can tell our story.  It wonʻt matter if people will believe it or not, but it will open their minds to greater possibilities," she smiled, something she hardly did in most of her photographs.  She walked back into the valley and was gone. 

Kalani.  Of course, it is only a tiny part of her real name.  Kalaninuiahilapalapakawēkiuilunalilo, otherwise known as Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani.


So, that is the story, Iʻm just waiting for the call that gives me the go-ahead to share the information.


  1. Curious what the first word is on her papale. ...... imortality?.. very interesting story mahalo for sharing. Aloha form Ka'u big island

    1. Immortalite is the French word for Immortality or Eternal Life. Good eye! I totally missed that!

    2. 'Aē. But if you look even closer there seemes to be a word in front of Immortalite.. "something Immortalite? Even more curious now! Mahalo nui!

    3. Ah!.. mahalo nui. enjoy reading these 100 count down stories keep the ones from hawaii Island comming!! Aloha