Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 14, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #78



In the late '80s and early '90s, Mrs. Mendiola herself was well into her dotage. Yet, everyone on our block loved her because she grew her own fruits and vegetables and generously shared her stock with everyone.

Often, I would hear her early in the morning having a lively conversation with either my mother or father regarding where they should go to buy the best meats for stews and soups. During the holidays, when my brothers and uncles helped my father prepare the imu from beginning to end, Mrs. Mendiola was right there with her shovel helping the men to dig the hole. All the men were good role models and took it upon themselves to have Mrs. Mendiola sit while they took over her shovel duties. But, of course, the old Filipino woman wouldn't hear of it and shooed them away. "I'm the one who gave the banana stalks, so I'm helping to dig! No boddah me!"

She worked just as hard as the men did if not three times more. No one was more loved and trusted on our block than Mrs. Mendiola. However, there was one thing about her that was not so great. Her husband was killed by the Japanese during the occupation of the Philippines. She never loved another man after that and remained a widow her entire life. She'd also remained bitter and hated the Japanese. While riding the bus to the market, if a Japanese person sat next to her, she'd yell and swear at them. The Ikeda kids from down the other end of the street would have rocks thrown at them if they walked on the little patch of grass on the sidewalk fronting Mrs. Mendiola's house. Mr. Ikeda had to confront the old woman on several occasions and even called the cops on her.

 "This crazy old hag is blaming my kids and my family for what happened in 1941!" he told the police officer. "I was born in 1962!"

An agreement was reached where the Ikeda children would promise not to walk on the patch of grass on the sidewalk when passing Mrs. Mendiola's house. Mrs. Mendiola didn't agree to anything. She slammed the door in the police officer's face and stormed out to her backyard. It was thick like a jungle, and the pursuing officers had a hard time finding her. When she did surface, she was standing in front of the only path out of her property with a large cane knife in each hand. It didn't help that the two young police officers were local Japanese. "Try to go for your gun," she dared them. "See how quick you,"

There was a tense stand-off until my father showed up behind Mrs. Mendiola. He witnessed the entire incident with Mr. Ikeda and his children. "Mrs. Mendiola, you cannot do that to the police. You're going to get arrested, or worse. You want them to shoot you?"

My father gently and carefully placed both his hands on Mrs. Mendiola's hands and relieved the cane knives from her grip. Her eyes were afire with murderous intent, she had absolutely meant to kill the two young police officers, or at the very least, she was going to die trying. My dad slowly walked her to the front of her property and promised the officers that he'd keep an eye on the old woman and that the authorities had nothing to worry about. "She's ancient," my father reassured the officers. "She's not in her right mind."


Mr. Rissutto's house was nearly one hundred years old. It came into his hands after the original owners, Mario and Celia Pacheco suddenly sold the place and moved to Hilo on the big island practically overnight. Although he lived by himself in such a large house, there never seemed to be a shortage of people coming to visit him or briefly stopping by. More specifically, people in business suits or Cuban-style bowling shirts with smartly pressed slacks and black loafers. They all wore dark glasses, and they appeared to be the same age as my father. Other times, the most beautiful women I'd ever seen were also guests of Mr. Rissutto's for a few days or for just a brief moment. Everyone who came to see Mr. Rissutto pulled up in those big luxurious cars. There were handshakes, kisses, and hugs, but no one ever seemed to be talking to one another until they went indoors. One day, I was in the front yard kicking around a dodge ball when I gave it a bit too much cheddar and flew like a missile and hit Mr. Rissutto's lincoln continental right when he was leaving to go somewhere. I froze, and I didn't know what to say or do. Mr. Rissutto wasn't anything to look at. He was short, stubby, and only had hair on both sides of his head but not in the middle. He was always well-dressed. I'd never once seen him in a pair of shorts or a tank top or with slippers on his feet. Somehow, he always had beautiful women or a woman around him. One of these beautiful women came to my rescue the second my dodge ball bounced off the wheel well of Mr. Rissutto's car. "Gadd-damned sonofah-bitch-fucking little asshole!"

"Carlo!" The woman scolded him. "He's just a kid! He didn't mean to do it. It's an accident!"

"Accident, my ass!" He bellowed. "He's lucky it didn't leave a dent!"

"Carlo," she shushed him. "It's Sunday, and you're cussing like you don't care about the sabbath?"

Mr. Rissutto grunted and got into his car. The beautiful woman got in on the other side and gave me a wink. Whew, she saved my ass. The following month, my parents celebrated their twentieth anniversary, and the whole block showed up for the party at our house. Mrs. Mendiola and the Ikeda's stayed out of each other's way while everyone else mingled freely. Mr. Rissutto showed up with the same beautiful woman on his arm and a huge bottle of wine. He also brought a big block of cheese and a few logs of salami. He was very cordial and gave my mother a hug and kiss, as did the person I assumed to be his girlfriend. When he locked eyes with me, he patted me on the cheek and said, "Be careful with that ball from now, alright? If you take good care of things the way I do, you'll understand."

"Alright, Carlo, he got the point the first time," the beautiful woman said. "I'm Miranda. If Carlo gives you a hard time from now on, just come see me, and I'll take care of him."

Mr. Rissutto grunted and moved through the crowd of people on his way to the food and beverages. For somebody so mean and caustic, he seemed to be getting along with everyone at my mom's party. I mean, he talked to everyone there at least once. He and Miranda only stayed for an hour, and then suddenly, they were gone. I mean, I never actually saw them leave. I'd just assumed they left. That is until I went into my parent's room to get my mom's sweater because it had gotten too cold for her. I walked in and saw Miranda sitting on the edge of my parent's bed with her legs wrapped around Mr. Rissutto's hips. Mr. Rissutto himself had his pants down to his knees while he appeared to be rocking back and forth. They were too enraptured with one another to notice that I was there. I slowly closed the door and stood outside for a second. 

"Okay, mom!" I shouted. "Well, where IS your sweater then? I couldn't find it the first time!"

A second later, the door opens, and Mr. Rissutto and Miranda emerge. "I guess that's not the bathroom, after all, Carlo?"

"Excuse us," they both push right past me and head down the hallway, where they disappear into the party. That was the last time anyone would see Mr. Rissutto and Miranda alive. Nearly a year later, their bodies were found in the trunk of Mr. Rissutto's car parked at the Honolulu International Airport. Miranda was shot once in the head, Mr. Rissutto was shot in the face. It turns out that Mr. Rissutto was his witness protection name. His real name was Accursio Ginovesse, a made man with the mafia. He'd turn states evidence against the family so he wouldn't have to do life in prison. Unfortunately, he had a problem staying under the radar which is how he was eventually found out and killed.


Chad Ikeda knew good and well that he, his wife, and his children had nothing to do with whatever happened to Mrs. Mendiola's husband in the Philippines. In Chad's mind, it was just archaic racism that the world didn't need in today's world, yet, there it was, living in the middle of the same block as him. However, Chad's father Shinsuke knew everything there was to know about Mrs. Mendiola's husband and the others like him who were killed during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. His name was Diwata Mendiola, one of the resistance fighters who was caught and killed. Why did this Diwata stand out among all the others that Shinsuke would kill long after him? It was his resolve the moment that he knew death was coming. He had seen nothing like it outside of his own culture. It was very similar to the samurai's resolve, knowing that death was inevitable and to die honorably in service of your lord meant everything. Diwata did not struggle. He did not resist. His countenance, his expression told Shinsuke that his death was just a transitory state and that his fighting spirit would live on. Shinsuke recognized this and gave Diwata an honorable death at the edge of his guntō ceremonial sword. Diwataʻs wife, Abian, and the rest of the small detail watched from under cover of the forest floor. They were helpless to do anything. The number of Japanese soldiers was too great. Even if they did manage to fight, they wouldnʻt have held out for too long. So they were forced to lay there and watch. The imprint of her husbandʻs death burned into Abianʻs mind and remained there until her dying day. When Chad came home and explained to his wife and father what had just happened with his kids and Mrs. Mendiola, the senior Ikeda raised up from his chair and made his way to the living room. "Who did you say, Chad? Who was that?"

"Mrs. Mendiola down the street, she hates Japanese because her husband was killed by Japanese soldiers in the Philippines in 1941!" Chad bellowed. "Sheʻs nuts, dad, I tell you!"

"Did she say where in the Philippines this happened?" The older Ikeda asked.

"Bataan," Chad replied.

Shinsuke locked eyes with Diwataʻs wife that day. He instinctively knew that she was his woman. The intensity, the pain, the rage met the eyes of a man who grew up in a family descended from countless generations of samurai. So why didnʻt he betray her position and have the rest of them killed? Honor perhaps? Or knowing that the death of a handful of so few would not matter in the larger picture of what was going to happen? 

"Honor," Shinsuke whispered to himself.


Mrs. Mendiola completed her prayers for the repose of her husbandʻs soul for an hour. Then she showered, put on some clothes, and had breakfast with a hot cup of tea to go with it. When she was done, she headed out into the thick overgrown foliage that was her backyard. She was on the way to her kalamansi to extract juice from the pulp when she ran into an old Japanese man blocking her way to the tree. She halted and reached down into an old paint bucket and removed two cane knives. It had been a lifetime ago, but she immediately knew those eyes. It was him, the man who killed her husband. He stood there dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt and tie, white polyester slacks, and a pair of white shoes. Lashed to his side was the guntō ceremonial sword he slowly brought to life as he withdrew it from the saya. Mrs. Mendiola had prepared her body and mind her entire life for this one moment. It made her body shudder all over, something she was not expecting. Shinsuke took in a deep breath and tried his best to relax his old, worn muscles. Seconds seemed like hours as the two stared at one another, waiting for the precise moment to strike. Shinsuke let out the Kiai and sprang forward. Mrs. Mendiola became as a reed, bending with the overhead strike coming down on her and twisting at the last second to let Shinsukeʻs forward momentum carry himself past her, where she would deliver the fatal blow.

A year later, and no one saw the hide or hair of Shinsuke Ikeda. A quiet but well-respected man in the neighborhood who was only too willing to get down in the dirt alongside you and help with anything you needed. He had left a will to Chad with a sizeable inheritance that would carry him and his family for several generations. A memorial service was held for his father that year, and a small informal lunch was had at his home after. The entire neighborhood was in attendance, including myself and my parents. To everyoneʻs surprise, including Chad, Mrs. Mendiola showed up with a large money envelope for Chad. Sheʻd also brought vegetables and fruits from her garden, along with clothes and school supplies for Chadʻs children. A bouquet of her finest roses was given to Chadʻs wife, Darlene. To Shinsukeʻs portrait, on the family butsudan, Mrs. Mendiola offered incense and prayers for his repose. She had also bought two small vases filled with shikimi. She bowed deeply to the Ikeda family and let herself out. After, there was no contention from Mrs. Mendiola against any one of Japanese personages. She was kind and affable to everyone. She lived several more years until she passed quietly while sipping on homemade Kalamansi juice on her lawn chair, which she had set up on the patch of grass on the sidewalk in front of her house, watching the neighborhood kids play. 

Where is this neighborhood, you ask? Oh, itʻs a  little nothing location at the end of 6th avenue. Which end of 6th avenue do you say? Well, the one at the end.

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