Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 19, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #73


In the dream, I'm walking along the beach at Waikīkī. Itʻs the late afternoon, and itʻs a bit overcast. Itʻs not overrun with tourists, cabana boys, and surf instructors.

The atmosphere is subdued, and everyone is having a normal conversation. No one is boisterous or trying to talk over the din of tourist noise. A little past the Moana hotel, a window suddenly opens. Whatʻs on the other side is the exterior of a lush home whose architecture seems to be from the fifties. It doesnʻt immediately occur to me that this is a time slip until I walk through the window. Suddenly Iʻm standing on the other side of 2021, looking back at it from the decade whereby we would become a state at its end. Without a second to lose, I jump back through, and Iʻm in the here and now. I canʻt explain what it was in the dream that made me so afraid to be in the past. Someone like myself would have seized the opportunity to do some exploring with just enough time to make it back for dinner. But I couldnʻt. There was a feeling about that particular period in the 1950s that told me I shouldnʻt be there. It was a minuscule part of a dream that was whimsical and gone in a few seconds. The following night, I have the same dream, but I know exactly where I am when I step through the time slip. Itʻs a lush, quiet mansion sitting on an estate in Nuʻuanu Valley. The occupants arenʻt home. A local Japanese family is walking up to the driveway of the estate next door. Iʻm taken aback when it becomes apparent that the local Japanese family doesn't own the estate. They work there as servants. What does that say about where I'm standing? Will I be arrested if and when someone finds me here? Again, the time slip opens, and this time it pulls me through, and I'm back. The third night when I have the same dream, the occupants who live in the home are waiting for me. It's a middle-aged haole woman with her husband and servants standing behind her and off to the side. 

"We've been waiting for you," her tone is urgent. "I know there isn't much time, so please follow me."

I'm surprised that this place isn't one of those grand open mansions. Instead, it's like one of those old Japanese castles where everything is divided by shoji screens from one room to the other. The scent of 'iliahi fills my nostrils the deeper we get into the home. It makes me think of all those maka'ainana who broke their backs to fill the orders of sandalwood for the trader ships. Finally, one of the largest rooms I've ever seen has all the shoji doors opened so that the air can pass through. In the middle of the floor, lying on a pile of futons is a haole girl who looks to be about sixteen. She's pale, and her hair is wet and matted from perspiration. I caught it then, the lingering odor of sulfur. 

"You've been waiting for me?" I asked.

"You were recommended," the woman confirmed. "I'm Nancy Woodlawn, my husband John and our house staff." She introduced everyone and then gestured toward the girl lying on the floor. "Avarice, my daughter."

"Your daughter's name is Avarice?" 

"It's not what you think," she assured me.

"What year is this, specifically?" 

"It's nineteen fifty-six, and it's the third of May, specifically. My daughter brought back a rock from the volcano, and since then, she's been vexed. You were recommended as the one who could cure her." She said matter of fact.

"I was recommended by someone here in nineteen-fifty six?" I found that hard to believe. "I'm from two thousand and one. I don't see how that's possible?"

"I'm the one who sent those time slips, it wasn't easy on the first two attempts, but I finally managed to get you here," she said. "Please, the slip won't stay open for long."

"Who recommended me?" I asked again.

"A friend," she was curt.

"Who?" I demanded.

"Someone alive in this time and in yours, now please, cure my daughter," she pointed to the floor.

"There's the lingering smell of sulfur, and your daughter took a rock from the volcano. It's Pele. She's mad because Avarice didn't ask permission," I said. 

"Then can you ask Pele to forgive her and to remove this curse?" Nancy begged.

"Your daughter has to be the one to ask. She took the lava rock. It's her responsibility," it seemed cruel to say so, but it was the truth. "Cut a lock of Avarice's hair and wrap it in Ti-leaf as an offering and a sign of your sincere apology."

The time slip opened right then and pulled me through. I was back on the beach in front of the Moana, and that was the end of the dream. It never came back again.


A few days later, I had some time to kill. My wife and kids were up in the room at the Moana. It was the family vacation we needed. But, walking along the beach gave me an instant shock of deja-vu. It actually creeped me out. It was late afternoon, and the sky was overcast. So, I decided to head back to the room by shortcuts through the banyan tree courtyard. I caught the brief sight of an elderly haole woman sitting on one of the lawn chairs. As I approached, she was sitting up on the side of the lawn chair and stood up. Before I knew it, she walked over to me and reached her hand out to touch my shoulder. "Hello, old friend!"

"Uh, hello," I replied awkwardly. 

She wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big hug, and began to cry. She slipped her card into my shirt pocket while whipping the tears away. "Eighty-one years ago, you came to my home in Nu'uanu and healed me from a terrible curse. My mother said that you'd disappeared so suddenly. We were never to properly thank you. She said the time slip never came back after that. Call me," she begged. "So I can thank you properly. I'm Avarice Woodlawn."

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