Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 26, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #97


Snyder Hanover hi-jacked me for a quarter every day. I had more than that on me, but a quarter was all he wanted. If he was wiser, he could have taken my lunch money.

When I transitioned out of junior high, he ended up at another school. I ran into him ten years later when I was two hundred pounds of muscle, pissing battery acid and armed with a bad attitude. A bunch of us just finished wrestling training, and we were in the parking lot of the old Circle K having sodas and sandwiches when Snyder walked up dressed in his Circle K uniform, which was two sizes smaller. I suppose it was meant to accentuate his budding muscles such as they were. He was all blustered and puffed up like a bad storm headed our way. Or at least in his mind, he thought so. He was one big drip. “Make sure you guys clean up your mess, okay?” He pointed his stubby middle finger at us.

“Sure thing,” Manu replied. “No problem.”

Fia Manu was six foot seven and solid muscle from head to toe and just the sweetest, most humble guy you’d ever meet. However, Manu had a switch that if you were stupid enough to click it, all bets were off, and you were fucked. Snyder was in the process of walking off after Manu assured him that he understood the message. But after taking two steps back toward the convenience store, Snyder Hanover turned around and got right up in Manu’s face, “What? What the fuck did you say to me?”

“I said, sure thing, no problem,” Manu chuckled at the little bulldog of a person who only came up to his sternum. “Relax, friend; we don’t want any problems.”

“Well, you’re gonna have a problem if you don’t watch your attitude!” Snyder poked his pointer finger in the air, getting dangerously close to Manu’s nose.

“I understand,” Manu put his hands up. “You’ll have no problems from us, sir, I promise.”

Giving Manu the once over-up and down look, my former bully spat at Manu’s feet, “Fucking Samoan monkey, your parents must be apes!”

To make a statement like that to someone three times your size, you’d have to be a complete moron, or you’d have to be carrying a gun. Snyder didn’t have a gun. In a micro-second, I saw Manu’s switch click on, and the sweet loving, gentle giant was gone. Everyone knew that to get in Manu’s way was suicide, but I couldn’t let him go to jail for murdering a douche bag like Snyder. I snapped a shin kick to Snyder’s chin and knocked him flat on his ass. The rest of the guys got the hint and set on Snyder and beat the shit out of him. I did my best to hold Manu back, repeating to him and again and again until he got it, “You can’t, Manu, you’ll end up in jail!”

Forty-five years later, and my grandson Kalama isn’t having the same luck that I did. He’s twenty- two years of age and working at a coffee choke and puke on Kapahulu. His school Bully, John Ballard, now works with him and hasn’t grown up. He is still a jack-off. Excuse my language. Kalama comes home with stress, anxiety, bruises, and scratches. His girlfriend Freda is furious and even went to the store one time to confront John and, as a result, nearly got Kalama fired. Kalama suffered retaliation from John after that. The bosses? They’re too afraid to do anything because they’re scared of John Ballard. One day, the coffee choke and puke. It was dead as a doornail. The crowds dwindled down because of the new Sushi Spot that opened next door. If you ordered a complete sushi roll, you'd get a free coffee for the next ten days. The coffee wasn't a fancy put-together mix of anything. It was just black coffee with sugar and cream packets thrown in the bag, but who could pass up free coffee? John was his usual douche bag self. He was blowing spitballs out of a straw on one of the new girls when a dark looming figure walked through the door. It's Manu. He makes a beeline straight to John and appears to triple in size as he gets closer to the counter.

“John?” Manu asks with one eyebrow raised. “John Ballard?”

“Yeah, wassup?” John glances up at Manu but doesn’t give him his full attention. 

Manu grabs John by the hair, yanks him across the counter, and out the door, kicking and screaming. Everyone is in shock and paralyzed to the spot. No one knows what to do. Kalama was in the stock room when he heard screaming coming from upfront. By the time he emerged, he saw everyone pointing out the full pictured window toward the intersection of Kapahulu, Date, and Mo’oheau. John was getting the holy shit beat out of him by a monster of a man.

"Hoh, my Gawd!" Kalama yelled out. "Uncle Manu, no!"

“Kalama is my godson. He carries my name as his middle name. My name is Manu. Anything you do to him from now on is what I am going to do to you. So if you keep fucking with him, guess what’s going to happen to you babes?” Manu stepped on John’s crotch to emphasize his point.

Kalama ran out to the intersection and retrieved his Uncle Manu and John, dragging the both of them back to the safety of the sidewalk. "Uncle Manu, you can't do things like this! You'll get me fired!"

"You wait, Kalama, you're gonna get yours!" John promised while lisping and whistling throw a few chipped teeth. Manu reached around his godson and cuffed John with his meaty opened palm again and again. Kalama had to physically interject himself between his uncle and dumb ass John, doing his best to push him back. "I'd shut up if I were you, John!"

"Why do you even work here and put up with this asshole Kalama? I'll get you a job down at the docks; it's hard work, but it's better pay, and you won't have to put up guys like this," Manu pointed to John Ballard, who sat on the sidewalk beaten and bruised. 

"He'll just get hired somewhere else and do the same thing," Kalama shook his head. 

"Then there's no other choice," Manu removed a thirty special pistol from his pocket and put the muzzle right up to John's eye. "We have to kill him."

"No, uncle Manu! We're not killing him! Stop!" Kalama pleaded, but Manu had already pulled the hammer back.

"I'll quit! I'll quit! I'll quit!" John screamed, holding his hands up like he was being arrested. "I'll quit right now! I'll go!"

"JOHN!" Manu's booming voice stopped the bully dead in his tracks. "Remember, I'll do to you as you do to my godson."

John ran back into the store with no reply, grabbed his belongings from the break room, and ran out to the parking lot, where he got in his car and drove off. "Uncle Manu, go home. Just go home please," Kalama was deflated. He couldn't even offer his uncle a thank you or a see you again. Manu gave his godson a peck on his forehead and left. His lifted Suburban pealed out of the parking lot and heading up Mo'oheau street, eventually disappearing into the Kaimuki neighborhood. Aside from John Ballard's sudden quitting the Kapahulu Choke and Puke, no real reason was given for his assault at the hands of a giant of a man who nearly killed him. No one would say that the man was Kalama's uncle because everyone who worked there felt that John Ballard was long overdue for his comeuppance. At the end of the day, Kalama thought he'd see John waiting for him in the parking lot, but he wasn't there. It was the same on the following day and the day after that. Six months passed, and Kalama never took up his uncle's job offer. He was still working at the coffee shop.

It was exactly 10:32 in the morning when John Ballard walked into the Coffee shop armed with a pair of brass knuckles on each hand. Kalama saw him right away and called no attention to the former employee. Instead, he held his gaze and waited. "Get your ass over here, Kalama, right now!" John beckoned to his former workmate with his pointer finger. "Right now!" 

Without hesitation, Kalama came from around the counter to meet John face to face in the middle of the floor. "What are you going to do, John?"

"I'm gonna do to you what your shit uncle did to me," John was shaking with nervous anger. 

"Then go do it to my shit uncle, be a man about it," Kalama reasoned stoically. 

Kalama never saw the brass-knuckled right hook coming. Had it made contact on his jawline, it would have broken it completely. Instead, a big meaty hand grabbed John's hand from behind him and spun him around. It was Manu, wearing his own pair of brass knuckles. One punch broke John's jaw in three places. That's all it took. The cops questioned Kalama later about what happened. Kalama took the officers in the back and showed them the footage from the security cam. John Ballard was knocked out cold by something that wasn't there. It was clear that Kalama never touched him. When John came to, he was arrested for terroristic threatening and unlawful trespassing. As for Manu? Well, before I died twenty years ago, I asked Manu to watch over Kalama, as I was going to miss his formative years growing up. Manu made good on his promise, even though he himself was suffering from lung cancer. He never told anyone about it. Somehow, and I still haven't figured it out, Manu became Kalama's 'aumakua, who literally appeared from out of nowhere and protected him from any serious harm whenever his life was threatened.