Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 9, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #52


It was my very last summer in Wainaku. I would never see it again until much later in life. Up until then, I spent all my summers there.

Every day was a drive to a different locale on Hawaii island. Each place filled itself with a profusion of green forest and the heady aroma of palai and lauaʻe. My father regaled us with his Portuguese pidgin English version of Pele, Kamehameha, and the several types of moʻo that lived in the Wailuku falls and other waterways. In the late afternoons' weʻd return to the Wainaku home where we often stayed. The Wainaku community was like a family. No matter what ethnicity, everyone knew everyone else. 

Our oldest cousin was Randal; he was tall and wide and powerful, but he wouldnʻt hurt a fly. He was one of the few kids back then who grew his hair down to his shoulders without any respite from his parents' uncle Paul and aunty Georgette, who were strict Roman Catholics. He had a modified Toyota truck back then, so more often than not, heʻd pile us in and take us to random places without telling us where we were going. One late afternoon, just before dinner, Randal parked his truck in the Alae cemetery. We were all hunkered down in the back, wondering why the hell we were there? Randal slowly got out, and when he approached us, he had a rosary in his one hand. He gave the sign of the cross over his chest and leaned in close.  "Used to have one store not too far from here. One old Japanese man owned it a long time ago, one night when he was closing up, one Japanese lady wearing one white Kimono came inside the store. Her hair was all mess up, she had one coin in her hand, and she wen ask the old man, "I only have this, can  I please buy a piece of candy?"

The coin, no was nuff to buy the candy, but the owner felt sorry for the lady, so he wen broke off one piece of sugar rock candy and gave um to the lady; after that, she left. The old Japanese man thought the lady was strange, but after he got home, he would forget about um. The next night when he was closing his store, he opened the back door to store foʻ go home, ho man; he jumped out of his pants cause the lady in the white Kimono was right outside the door! She had one oddah small coin in her hand, "Please, may I buy another candy?"

"Of course," the old man told her, but he was all haʻalulu by that point. The lady took the candy and ran off. The old Japanese man thought maybe he should follow her, but she was gone already. The lady in the white Kimono came back four more times each night, but on the last night, she said, "This is the sixth night that I have come, and this is the sixth night that you have kindly sold sugar rock candy to me. This is the last night that you will see me."

Soon as she was gone, the old Japanese man real quiet kine wen close down the shop, and we wen follow the lady in the white Kimono. She ended up coming inside this cemetery. He wen follow her and follow her, and then she wen stop one time. Real quick, she wen turn around and she wen lock eyes with the old Japanese man. She wen disappear right in front of his eyes; the old Japanese man was screaming and crying; he was sooo scared. Had one full moon dat night, das when he saw the ladyʻs footprints go right up to this headstone. Das when he heard one baby crying from underneath the dirt. Ho, he dig up the ground, and he found the ladyʻs dead body, and she was holding one baby in her arms. The baby was sucking on the sugar rock candy. I guess they believe when somebody dies you are supposed to give them six coins to pay the passage to go to heaven. Instead, this lady used the six coins to buy candy for her baby, so he no māke."

As if on cue, a woman in a white kimono appeared a few feet behind Randal. She walked toward us, with her matted tangled hair in her face, cradling something in her arms. We couldnʻt see what it was because she carried it so close to her breast, but we could hear it crying! She suddenly thrust the infant above her head and let out a blood-curdling scream! We all emptied out the truck and ran for our lives! We were hysterical and manic and running into one another; what broke the atmosphere is when we all heard Russell and the lady in the white Kimono laughing hysterically. It was Randalʻs girlfriend, Tammy Tanaka. It turns out she wasnʻt carrying a baby; well, it was a baby, a baby piglet. Iʻm pretty firm on the fact that right there and then was the first time I had called anyone a motherfucker.

Randall got us good.

It was nearing the end of the summer of 1973. August 4 was our last day there; it was also my birthday. My fond memories of Wainaku comes from the foods that the neighbors brought to my humble party. Portuguese bean soup, Gandule rice, Adobo, Lau lau, ʻopihi, and poi. There was also Okinawan sweet potato and shoyu pork. Tammyʻs parents brought tsukemono and large rolls of sushi. Those were the best too. The night was quieting down, and Randal brought out his ʻukulele. Tammy had a smaller one; her brother Cliff held their fatherʻs old guitar and slowly adjusted the strings. Tammyʻs older sister Steph who was from her motherʻs first marriage was taller and darker than Tammy. She played the stand-up bass quite well. I remember Steph would end up staying with us for a while, but my parents had to send her back home.  The term ʻmental illnessʻ did not exist then, although my father did explain that Steph was ʻloloʻ or ʻoff her rocker,ʻ but yes, she was not taking her meds, and she began acting out rather violently. 


There was no count to bring everybody in; they just started playing. It was a beautiful blend of instruments and persons in perfect harmony. That was the first time I heard the Kimo Hula. The tone and control of holding the notes until the precise moment when it drops off and lends itself to the guitar was an emotional journey—Tammyʻs mother and Mrs. Laulima gently glided across the large garage floor on the third verse and offered their hula. The song closed with the haʻina or the refrain, stating its purpose. It was also a great way to close out the evening and my last summer in Wainaku. One day, hopefully soon, when everything returns to a kind of normalcy, Iʻd like to go back to Wainaku and see if the old Wainaku house is still there. Until then, Iʻll only be visiting through memories like this one.


  1. Family live up Wainaku... All over Hawai'i Island... My Mom is Buried up Alae & my Best friend too! Always clean their graves & tell my friend to keep my Mom company! Wow...