Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 24, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #37

   One day and long ago a humble chapel stood ready to host a wedding—an aged couple who owned it prepared themselves to perform the ceremony and provide food for the reception.

Simple white gardenia petals lined the aisle leading to the dais. The deep purple of an Ola'a bouquet lent a beautiful contrast to its colorless counterpart as it lay on the carpeted floor, with no bride to hold it. The almost groom sat in the front row, staring at the dais. He and his almost bride were never married there; she interrupted the sacred vows that asks if anyone should know why the couple should not be married? They should speak now or forever hold their peace. The bride that never became a wife spoke her mind, her heart, and her truth. "I don't want to be married, Kalama, can't we live the way we've been living? I like that; it's easier."

"Is there someone else?" It's any person's first thought in a situation such as this one. "Lee Anne, is there someone else?"

"There is," the bride Lee Anne answered truthfully. Silent anticipation fell over the small gathering, hoping, waiting to hear a name. A name perhaps that they knew or were going to be familiar with, a name that would taste vile on their tongues, causing them to spit it out. "It's me; it's me that doesn't want to be defined by a ring or a vow or a marriage certificate. Can't our love define us?"

The almost groom Kalama walked away from his almost bride and sat in the front row and never moved. The almost groomsmen left after failing to encourage Kalama to go with them and spend a night of drink and debauchery together. The bridesmaids went with the groomsmen since Lee Anne asked to be left alone. The humble aged couple who owned the chapel told Kalama to take as long as he needed to be alone with his thoughts. The almost groom assured his parents countless times that he would be fine until they finally departed. At two in the morning, Kalama removed his phone from his pocket and speed-dialed the all familiar number, which became second nature. "Babes, where are you?" The almost bride's voice sounded as if she had not been crying; grief, regret, and second thoughts were not in her tone. "Are you coming home?"

No answer came right away; the almost bride waited, knowing that her almost-husband was listening. "I'll be here when you get home." The phone hung up, and the almost bride fell asleep on the couch. The sun awoke her later in the day; the house was the same as when she came home from the almost wedding. She found their bed empty, as was the bathroom and the yard. Hers was the only car in the garage. Lee Anne phoned the chapel and found out from the aged couple that Kalama was gone by three in the morning. The almost groom never appeared again to Lee Anne, his family, or friends. 

He vanished. 

Sadness permeated the town; the flowers did not seem as beautiful as they once were, although the sunlight gave them vibrant life. The almost groomsmen lived their life as one should live it. The almost bridesmaids secretly followed Lee Anne's reasons for not wanting to be married. Verily, they defined love, and it's many complexities in a way that befit their lives. Some through marriage, some not; in all, they knew that love was selfless at its very bare simplicity. In silent moments, the almost groom is remembered with pain in the hearts of those who loved him. His parents remembered him that way until the day of their passing. In their hearts, they nursed a grudge for the almost bride. In the hearts of the almost bride's parents was the question. Why would she wait until the day of her wedding to proclaim her dislike of what defines a relationship?



Lee Anne married Louie Stures a few years after Kalama disappeared. It was a whirlwind romance; before the couple knew it, they were pregnant. They had one daughter and a son who were the apple of their eye. The family of four was on vacation in Las Vegas. Their son's girlfriend flew in from San Francisco to meet them at the hotel. Their daughter Chelle also had plans to meet up with a few of her old friends from high school for a mini-reunion of sorts at The California Hotel. "Some family vacation," Lee Anne scoffed. "It's alright," Louie laughed. "You and I can have our vacation together."

Lee Anne and Louie did the usual things that locals from Hawaii do in Las Vegas, eat, gamble, eat. Louie sent a text to Justin and Chelle later that evening, "We would at least like to have dinner with our children while we're here? Oxtail soup at 6:45 pm, don't be late."

Six forty-five chimed the clock. Chelle appeared in the restaurant first. Taking a seat across from her mother, "All you had to say was oxtail soup!"

"Where's your brother?" Louie asked while buttering a bun and passing it to Chelle.

"They're going to meet us here, he and Gabby had to stop somewhere first,"

"I hope they don't get lost," Lee Anne wondered.

On cue, Justin and his girlfriend Gabby excitedly walked up to the booth where everyone sat and held up a piece of paper for everyone to see. "We got married!"

The two held up their left hands and showed their rings to everyone.



Lee Anne stormed into the wedding chapel with her family behind her, pleading for her not to make a scene. "What's done is done," Louie tried to reason with her. "Leave it be." She wouldn't hear it; Lee Anne had every intention of having the wedding performer annul the marriage right there and then. 

"Mom, you can't do that here, we'd have to go to where we applied for the marriage certificate!" Justin screamed.

"Geezus, Mom, you are way over-reacting! Justin is old enough to get married," Chelle stood in front of Lee Anne. "You're making Gabby feel like shit, mom!"

"Please, Mrs. Stures, I love Justin, I want to spend the rest of my life with him," Gabby cried.

"I know that Gabby, it's clear that you both love each other, but this is too soon! You've got your whole lives in front of you! You can't predict how you'll feel a year from now? Besides, have you even told your parents?" Lee Anne worked herself up to the point that her eyes were bulging out of her head.

"They know," Gabby answered. "They love Justin."

Lee Anne wasn't listening anymore. She turned around and stormed down the aisle until she got a good look at everything and then stopped in her tracks. White gardenia petals lay on the carpeted floor leading up the dais. Deep purple Ola'a bouquets hung on the pews' arms, and the music that played was so familiar, but she couldn't place it. A tall, young Hawaiian man appeared from behind the dais and approached the family. "Is there something wrong? Can  I help you?"

"Are you," Lee Anne couldn't get the words out. "Are you the wedding performer?"

"Yes, I am," the young man smiled. "I recognize this couple; I performed their wedding an hour ago,"

"Do you own this chapel?" Lee Anne wondered out loud.

"Babe, is something wrong?" Louie asked.

"Mom, are you alright? I think you need to sit down," Chelle waved at Justin. They both held her by the arms and sat her down in one of the pews. 

"Is something wrong, mom?" Justin came back with a bottle of water.

"You didn't answer my question," she looked at the young man. "Who owns this chapel?"

"How rude of me," the young man apologized. "My father opened this chapel almost twenty years ago when he moved here from Hawaii. I'm not sure if you saw the sign outside, but it's named after him, just like he named me."

"Kalama?" Lee Anne confirmed the name more than she asked.

"Yes," the young man bowed. "Kalama's Guaranteed Wedding Chapel."

"Is he here?" Lee Anne hoped but not so much as to make Louie feel uncomfortable.

"No, somebody killed him and my mom in a car accident a few years ago. I had to take it over; it's our family business after all," There was a moment of apologies and then awkward silence with no one knowing what to say, especially Lee Anne.

"I'll let you in on a secret; my dad opened this chapel because somebody left him at the altar once. He decided to make it his life's work that people who came to get married here wouldn't back out at the altar. That's part of the contract you're kids signed and agreed to." The young Kalama winked.

"I'm sorry I made such a scene," Lee Anne stood up and hugged the young man. She turned to Louie, Justin, and Gabby and hugged them too. "I'm sorry you guys, I'm happy for you."

"Hey, since you're all here, why don't we do it again just for the parents?" The young Kalama offered. Looking at Gabby, he asked, "Do you still have your bouquet?' 

"No," she replied. "I left it in the car,"

"It's alright," Lee Anne picked an Ola'a bouquet from the pew and handed it to Gabby. "Take this one."

Soon, everyone gathered closely, standing with arms around one another while the young Kalama performed the wedding vows once more for the entire family. There was not a dry eye in the house. After an invitation to join them for dinner was offered by Lee Anne, the young Kalama accepted but made it a point to share a bit of information with Lee Anne on the side. "My dad would sit in that front pew and stare at the altar. I never bothered to ask him why until a day before he died. He said that after getting left at the altar, he sat in the front pew of that chapel on Oahu for hours. Of course, he was mad, but he said the pain hurt so bad that he wouldn't wish it on anyone else. I also never bothered to ask about who the woman was that left him, but he told me that same day."

"He did?" Lee Anne was nervous, ashamed, and horrified all in one. 

"He told me that if I were lucky, I'd see that same woman walk in this chapel one day and that she would recognize it once she saw it. He said I'd know by the look on her face," the young Kalama looked Lee Anne in the eyes. "I won't say anything, Lee Anne, but it's nice to meet the one who got away."

"You must be sick of oxtail soup?" Lee Anne smiled a bittersweet smile that Kalama understood. 

"Nope," the young Kalama replied. "It's my favorite."

"You'll have to tell me about how your parents met?"

"It's hilarious! " Kalama promised. "You'll die,"

"I hope not!" Lee Anne laughed.


The petals of white ginger were incredibly fragrant and most delicate as they lay on the red carpet. The bouquets of Ola'a gave off a vibrant hue as if the deep purple radiated its color throughout the chapel.  In the front row sat the old Kalama's ghost, who watched as the family left the chapel along with his son. He stood up from the spot he occupied like the memory that occupied his heart. He didn't need to sit there any longer; everything had come full circle.

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