Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 25, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #98


Old discarded beer and wine bottles lined the beach just at the airport's outskirts, with the tops haphazardly sticking out of the sand. When the wind skimmed over the ocean and touched the opiate mouths of the bottles, it sounded like a clarion of conch shells announcing the arrival of someone of great importance or the beginning of a solemn ceremony.

The ocean-born wind is so sudden and whips up with such fury that it surprises the birds gathered at the shore. Letting out their unified cries of shock and anger, it sounds like the mournful wailing of women lamenting the death of a loved one. A lone Cessna 152 lands on the Keʻehi lagoon runway, having just flown in from Molokai. The pilot is nervous and looking forward to the completion of his delivery. The package in question, sitting on the seat next to him, although wrapped in a large lauhala basket, has given off an uncomfortable looming presence since it was placed there. “The ohana on Oahu will meet you at the hangar when you get there,” Carillo Landura instructed. “Just give this thing to them, and your part is pau.”

“What is it?” Jim Cargile asked.

“Doesn’t matter what it is,” Carillo shook his head. “Just get it home.”

“Look,” Jim pointed his finger at his long-time friend. “This better not be some illegal shit, like drugs or whale ivory!”

“Jim, just get it back to Oahu,” Carillo was cryptic in his reply and closed the door the same way, very slowly, holding Jim’s gaze the whole time.  Although the flight itself was uneventful, the feeling of chicken skin and the overwhelming presence of something that obviously was not there made Jim want to scream out with fear and terror. The second the runway was in sight, black clouds gathered out of nowhere, flashes of lightning could be seen within, but no outward bolts striking anywhere. It was almost as if the black clouds were waiting. Once the tires of the Cessna caught the blacktop and landed, a full thunderstorm with torrential rains unleashed itself. The noise was deafening and shook the ground. The strikes of thunder were so close that it finally allowed Jim to let out that scream which he’d been holding back the whole time. He couldn’t have gotten the Cessna to the hangar quick enough. Waiting for him was a group of Hawaiian people. There were only three of them, but they looked frail and barely able to stand. They were dressed as if they’d just come off of the plantation, wearing faded dungarees and old dress shoes. Even the old Hawaiian woman wore a flannel shirt, Bermuda shorts, and watercress boots. Jim decided it was only proper to bring the item to them instead of making them walk over. 

“This must be what you’re waiting for?” He asked.

The three shuffled forward and held the wrapped lauhala basket between them. They bowed to Jim and expressed their thanks. “Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo,” their voices were raspy and filled with a finality that Jim couldn’t place. In front of him, the three Hawaiian people crumbled to dust. The wrapped lauhala basket fell to the concrete floor and also faded to dust. The contents revealed a magnificent black feathered cape with human teeth sewed into the outer lining, crumbling to dust. With the storm raging outside the hangar, one last wind tore through it and carried all the powdered bones and what was once a black-feathered ahu’ula into the air and swooped it outside where it seemed to be carried up into the black clouds. Then, it was suddenly clear and sunny as if the black storm had been the figment of Jim’s imagination. The pilot's first inclination was to run into his office and get on the phone with Carillo, but then he thought better of it. Maybe he didn’t want to know, or maybe he shouldn’t know at all. He called anyway, and there was no hello on the other side of the line when Carillo answered. “So what?”

“What?!” Jim was incredulous. “I’m not gonna ask questions about what I just saw, but what I do want to know is why me?”

“Why not you?” Carillo replied. “You think any local or Hawaiian in their right mind would have done the delivery? No frickin’ way, so it had to be you.”

“Please don’t tell me it's because I’m Haole?” Jim begged.

“I won’t,” Carillo promised. “But if I were going to pick any haole that I could trust to make this delivery, it would be you. In fact, it is you.”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better, Carillo!” Jim moaned with the knowledge that he touched on something that he should not have.

“Did they thank you?” Carillo asked.

“What?” Jim shot back.

“Did they thank you? The three Kūpuna, did they thank you?” Carillo already knew the answer, of course.

“Yeah, they did,” Jim’s reply was a lot less boisterous.

“Good job, Jim,” Carillo congratulated his friend. “Good job.”

From that moment on, whenever Jim Carlyle went on fishing trips with his buddies, the fish practically jumped into the boat. On rainy days, when Jim was looking forward to a picnic with his girlfriend, the rain would let up once he got to the park. It would rain again once he left. Even at a bar, having a few drinks with Carillo, he’d get lucky at darts, but when trouble would start, the police happened to be parked outside the bar. Or someone who knew Jim from way back happened to be the bouncer that night. Whatever it was that Jim delivered to the three Hawaiian elders who disappeared before him would never be known, except for the bones of the high-ranking royal ancestors who were in that wrapped lauhala basket. They knew, and out of gratitude, they gave Jim their protection.