Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 20, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #41

 The ancient chiefess Māmala was one who loved to drink awa, play konāne, and ride the surf.

Her first husband was Ouha, the shark-man, perhaps named as such because of the many tattoo markings on his body. He also loved and participated in the pleasures which his wife enjoyed. After his death, he became a shark god who roamed Waikīkī and Kohelepelepe (Koko Head).



Near the statue of Robert Wilcox are gathered, a horde of homeless men enamored by an ancient Hawaiian game known as Konāne. Even the mentally ill hover about, coming out of their fugue state long enough to be hypnotized by the moving pieces. The sight is alarming to patrons and employees who shop and work at the various buildings along the mall. The horde is silent and unmoving except when a black or white stone needs to travel from one space on the konāne board to another. Mall security and police officers pull up and insert themselves through the unkempt crowd only to scoff when they see the stone blackboard, with black and white pebbles sitting on it. "They are not bothering anyone, or causing a scene, so thereʻs nothing we can do," they tell the merchants.

At the center of the game sits a Hawaiian couple who each play on their own Konāne board against anyone else who cares to indulge them. The game intrigues the neʻer do wells because the contest seems to be in their favor, then suddenly, the woman and the man wins. Itʻs a back and forth strategy for sure, finally when the winnings seem even, either the man or the woman says, "Want to make it more interesting?"

Literally, with nothing to lose, the wager is tempting. What could the stakes be, after all? The clothes off their back? An item that was stolen ten times over from their makeshift cart? Sex? How bad could it be?

"Sure," Alan Mitchell growls through whatʻs left of his teeth. "Seems like a bit of a palaver, but whatʻs the deal?"

"If I lose," the Hawaiian woman begins, "you get to have me for a night."

"Seems simple enough," Alan raises his eyebrows. "And if I lose?"

"Then you lose your life, and your life becomes mine to do with as I please," the Hawaiian womanʻs smile made Alan uneasy. The only person who ever caused him that degree of uneasiness was his father, Crane Mitchell. "Doff those britches off Kipper," his father would sternly order him to do so with that whip of a Boston accent. "Get a grip on those ankles, nice and firm there Kipper."

Alan didnʻt know when he started to cry, but the tears were flowing as freely as you please. The uneasiness caused him to hyperventilate like he did years before when he was a little boy. "You canʻt quit now," the Hawaiian woman spoke in a comforting voice. "Youʻve come so far in the game, just one more, and Iʻm sure youʻll do well." She took his hand and put the black pebble piece in it and moved it across the board. "There you go, nice and firm Kipper."



The Hawaiian man regarded the young homeless man in front of him for a second. "Where are your parents? Do they know youʻre out on the street like this playing Manuela Boy?"

"What? What the fuck is that?" The young man scoffed.

"Itʻs before your time, anyway, this game has gone back and forth. Youʻre pretty good at strategy," the Hawaiian man winked.

"What are you, some kinda fucking homo? Donʻt fucking wink at me!" He hissed at the Hawaiian man.

"Relax," he put his hands up in front of him. "Itʻs just old school expressions, long before your time. Now, cʻmon, tell me how you got so good at strategy?"

"I went to ʻIolani school. I worked at my familyʻs business after I graduated from college with an MBA," he said while staring at the black and white pebble pieces.

"Which makes me ask this question again, why are you out here on the streets?"

"My parents are too stupid to run a business, they wouldnʻt listen to me, so I left,"

"Is that what happened?" The Hawaiian man asked.

The young manʻs pupils became smaller, and his body stiffened up. "I hate that, donʻt say that to me. Only my father says that and it fucking pisses me off, donʻt say that."

"Say what? What did I say?"

"IS THAT WHAT HAPPENED?" The young man affected the voice of an obnoxious child. "THAT! DONʻT ASK ME THAT!"

"Alright, Iʻm sorry," the Hawaiian man apologized.

"Thatʻs what my father said when he accused me of stealing money from the family business,"

"Was he wrong?"

"No, he wasnʻt. He disowned me first before he kicked me out,"

"Drugs?" The Hawaiian man figured

"And more," the young man replied.

"Iʻll make you a deal," the Hawaiian man began. "If you win this next game, Iʻll help you pay off your debt to your father."

"Now I KNOW youʻre a homo," the young man smirked.

"Thereʻs no strings attached," the Hawaiian man assured him. "You win, I pay off your debt, thatʻs it."

"Alright, and if I lose?"

"You give me your life," the Hawaiian man was stoic now, not a flinch of expression came across his face.

"My life?"

The Hawaiian man nodded. The bet sounded like it was too good to be true, but man, oh man, his debt to his father paid off? The possibility of getting off the streets and going home again? Why not? As the Hawaiian man said, he was good at strategy, really good. "Sure," the young man nodded. "Sure, why not?"


Weeks went by, and the horde became less and less in numbers. That does not mean that the homeless lost their interest in the Konāne game. One by one, each turn eventually resulted in a win for the Hawaiian man and woman. With each victory, each player would disappear, never to be seen again. When the Hawaiian couple was not at the walking mall winning at Konāne, they were off surfing. Other times they could be found seated somewhere along Fort Street Mall sipping from a Thermos of awa. Eventually, the street merchants figured out that a game of Konāne with the Hawaiian couple was more than a contest of strategy; it was a wager on your life.


Marcelo Mercado was born with Asperger's syndrome; he kept a full-time job at the superstore, stocking merchandise in the back. He watched the Konāne board game for a while, quietly observing the movements of the black and white pebbles. The losing or the winning had nothing to do with the game; it had everything to do with the Hawaiian couple who challenged the homeless to play it. Something told him that they were not human. There was only one way to prove it, Marcelo had to play Konāne against them. be continued

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