Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 18, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #74


I've done this a thousand times more than I can count. The reports, the tags, and all the admin crap are like rote. I have it down to a science.

Even dealing with family members is also a memorized routine because, truthfully, you get numb to it after a while. People grieve differently.  Some grieve dramatically, while others grieve quietly. Still, others don't grieve outwardly, but that pent-up emotion surfaces one way or another. Weight gain, weight loss, acne, weird ticks, and sometimes self-harm or harming others. Yeah, it's all just part of the job. Speaking of the job, our normal collections are stored in cardboard boxes measured by 2 x 2 x 2 feet. Simple. Today, because our junior staff is for shit and they never re-stock until the last minute, we had to go next door to the print shop to ask if they had any boxes they didn't need. Size didn't matter, and if needed, we'd pay them for it. Luckily, they were very cool and let us take as much as we wanted. Later that evening, we bought the overnight staff five boxes of pizza and a case of giant cola as a sign of our appreciation. The next day, we did the same for the opening staff because it was only right. An hour later, every box was filled up, taped tightly, driven back, and handed over to the families who requested the items. Normally, after that, our job was done, and everyone went home. Not me. One box was unclaimed, and it sat in our back room on my desk for the next five hours. I couldn't look at the box for the first hour. The second hour, I had my arm around it, and I held it close to my chest. The third hour I'd fallen asleep with my arms wrapped around it.

Let me explain. Our operation is clandestine, undercover, and very secretive. This is why we're in plain sight in the middle of a crowded strip mall. We're called Custom Boxes. Our front is that we sell customized boxes for whatever your personal needs are. We really are a committed unit of five psychic mediums with specific contacts that help repatriate the remains of missing people to their living families. We have an eighty percent success rate believe it or not. It's that other percent that used to be hard. You know, because like I said initially, we have to pass that news on to those family members who had hoped beyond hope that they could put the physical and psychological trauma. Instead, they have to find some other form of closure, sometimes they don't.

This box technically wasn't a part of the eighty percent because we found the remains requested by the family. But, unknown to us, the only family member who never gave up on this missing person outlived everyone else. She was all that was left, and so too was the hope that one day after forty years, her brother would be found. He was. He was absolutely found. Between the process of finding the remains, collecting, boxing, and bringing it home, the woman, the sister, died in her sleep. So this box in my arms, containing the remains of a four-year-old boy from Pearl City, sits here with nowhere to go. I think it bothered me because of my own childhood trauma. I let my guard down for a second, and it got me. I ended up doing more than crying. I was grieving. Grieving and holding this box in my arms because the remains of a four-year-old boy were in it. His drugged-up father kidnapped him right out of his mother's arms while she waited in line at the local drug store holding the hand of Gary's older sister, who was seven at the time. The father was tracked down and found a month later. After his arrest, he refused to reveal his son's whereabouts. That secret died with him six months later when he was killed in prison. Gently, I rocked the box back and forth in my arms, quietly reassuring the little boy that it's alright, everything will be alright. 

"What's your name?" I ask. "Tell me your name so I can help you."

"Gary," the little boy's voice speaks in my head.

"I'm gonna take you home," I whispered.

"Ok," Gary's voice agreed.

Fortunately, we were able to arrange to have Gary's remains buried along with older sister Patty. Fifty-seven years old seemed like a young age to pass away, but Patty lived all these years with the trauma and stress of her brother's disappearance. She also had to contend with two abusive marriages and three miscarriages. Toward the end, she almost welcomed her cancerous ending as a way of release from her earthly bonds, hoping somehow that Gary would be waiting there for her on the other side. I'm sorry, there's no happy ending to this account. But, if it helps, you should know that meeting Gary softened my approach to those who never get closure. I guess it's more than a job after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment