Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 3, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #58

 As a child, I was sick for a long while. I needed many blood transfusions; the process and recovery made me weak. The nights in Waiʻanae were cool because of the wind coming in from the beach.

It should have given me comfort; instead, it made me restless. Often, I would open my double door windows and sit on the sill. It was large enough that it served as an oversized bench where I could sit and lean back and enjoy the stars and the moon. The permanent shadow on itʻs silvery face looked like a Hawaiian woman in a seated position with her arms beckoning out to someone that I could not see. "Itʻs Hina, Mauiʻs mother," I said to myself. "She is waiting for him to go rescue her."

Sometimes, the moon's sight frightened me because it felt like people were living there who might be looking back at me. I could almost feel their thoughts as if they might wonder who the little boy was that sits at his window staring up at them? I pondered this for many evenings and many days while I lay on a hospital bed, transfusing blood. It made me sick, and I threw up until I became dangerously dehydrated. The moon's curiosity must have gotten the best of them because they sent an emissary one night. I didnʻt see him right away because he stood much too near the back yard's mock orange hedges. However, once I glanced in that direction, he stepped out of the abstract shadows and made himself known. He was an older adult dressed in strange robes that looked like those worn in those old Japanese movies but different. Not like the sort that Samurai or nobility wore, but more ethereal, nearly god-like. His hair and beard were long and white. He smiled and waved up at me, "May I join you?"

I nodded, but he said, "You must answer with your voice; otherwise, I cannot climb up," he crooked his to one side and bowed.

"Yes, you may climb up and join me," I answered.

He did the climb in mere seconds and without much effort. "Uh," he exhaled. "What interesting nightclothes you wear?"

"Itʻs my Astro-Boy pajamas, my favorite,"

"Would you like me to teach you a game?" He asked.

"Ok, yes," I nodded, remembering that I had to answer. The aged man reached into the hollow of his empty sleeve and removed a sizeable squared stone. It was black, and on its face were carved squares of light and dark. He placed it on the sill between himself and me. From the hollow of his other sleeve, he removed twelve circular pieces of the same kind of rock. Some were lighter; some were darker.

"Moonstones," he affected a dramatic tone. "Every piece a moonstone, such magic for one simple game."

"Itʻs checkers," I giggled. "I know how to play checkers,"

"Do you ?" He replied with affected wonder and amazement. "Well, this will be very interesting, will it not?"

For the next several nights, we played, and for the next several days, the blood transfusions became more comfortable to bear. My parents fed me more foods with iron in them, and slowly I regained my health. Each night, I trounced the old man from the moon, and each night he lamented his misfortune at not possessing the skills to best a boy-child like myself. We played until the sun would peek just over the horizon, and he would leave, always promising to return the following evening.

 "Do you have children and a family of your own where you come from?" I asked.

"Yes," he nodded while trying to focus on which chess piece he would move next. "I have children, and my children have children and so on, and so on,"

"What does that mean, and so on?" I asked while simultaneously jumping his black checker. 

"It means that my children grew up and had their children, and so did their children grow up and have their children as well, and so on," the old man made a circular gesture.

"Donʻt your children miss you so far from your home? Donʻt you want to spend the evenings with them instead of being here with me? Wonʻt they get jealous or mad?" I was genuinely concerned.

"Quite the contrary," he looked up at me with a twinkle in his eyes and smiled. "They are the very ones who encouraged me to continue my return here! Where I come from, I am the checkers champion! I have been for many eons! My children are excited that there is finally someone who can beat me at checkers!" He leaned in toward me and whispered, "They would like to one day meet you."


The next day was tough, my parents told me that I still had to go for transfusions. I was agitated. "Iʻm getting better! Iʻm eating and exercising, and Iʻm not throwing up at all!

"Youʻre still not well," my father said.

"Just a few more appointments," my mother promised.

I stormed off, screaming down the hallway and slammed my bedroom door behind me. My father kicked the door open and spanked me several times on my buttocks and the back of my thighs. I not only cried out of pain but also out of retaliation. I was not going to the doctor, no matter what they did to me. My mother was murderously furious because now there were deep black and blue bruises all over my backside. I still went to the appointment but with just my mother. She told my father not to come when we returned home later that afternoon; she refused to talk to him. It went on like that for the rest of the week. My father even tried to hug her during the weekend, but my mother pushed him away. "You and your fucking Waiʻanae attitude, you think hitting your son is the way to solve every fucking problem?"

"He pissed me off because of the way he was acting!" My father retaliated. 

"Heʻs a hemophiliac, you fucking asshole, or did you forget that? I donʻt how you didnʻt end up killing him, but youʻre lucky you didnʻt, but you know what? I am not taking another chance; the two of us are leaving. I already packed up the car." The argument between the two went on like that for the rest of the afternoon. By the evening, they were fast asleep; I made myself something to eat and retreated to my room. The hour was two when I awoke to something banging on my window; it was the old man tossing little pebbles on the glass. I opened the double windows, and soon he began setting up the moonstone checkerboard. "Something is amiss young Steven; you donʻt seem like yourself."

"My parents have been arguing because of me," I droned quietly.

The old man sat up and regarded me with a look of confusion. "Never have I heard of such a thing, where I come from, children are a source of joy and happiness, never, never are they a source of arguments," he leaned in closer and asked, "what is this word, argument?"

"Itʻs when two people fight, thatʻs what my parents were doing because I didnʻt want to go to see the doctor," I groaned quietly. "My father hit me on my leg a lot, and it got bruised. My mom didnʻt speak to him for a whole week."



"Itʻs time to play, are you prepared?" The old man smiled.

"Yes," I replied.

"This time, let us make it enjoyable. If you beat me at checkers tonight, I will give you the moonrock checkerboard and the pieces, and you can also tell everyone that you bested an actual old man from the moon to get it," he looked me straight in the eyes. He was waiting for the next bit, but it was obviously up to me to continue.

"And if YOU win?"

"IF I win, then I take you to the moon with me where you can meet my children and the rest of my family," that didnʻt seem like a loss at all. It seemed like Iʻd win either way.

"What about my mom?" 

"Well, she is your protector, of course, why not?" He stifled his laughter. We hugged together, and the game began. 


On the evening of his birthday, May twenty-six, the body of Steven Pacheco was found laying on an open window sill of his Kaukamana street home. The nine-year-old boy had hemophilia, severe bruising was found on the back of his legs, and buttocks that the boyʻs mother confirmed as a result of a beating from Steven Pachecoʻs father a few days before. Steven died because of his condition. 

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