Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 24, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #68


This is what I imagined it to be. It wasn't hospice. It was my own home with high ceilings and oversized doors like giant blinds than portals

Early morning or late afternoon light poured in depending on what my mood was. Everyone wore the kind of white clothing that made you look like you lived in a commune, but it was really just the natural choice of dress because of where I lived. Some days, a friend would silently arrive with their harp, violin, or oboe and play for as long as they wished. Other days, it would be Hawaiian music or strictly chants. Mostly, it was music from the 70s'. Family and friends came and went as they wished, no one was obligated to stay, but most did for as long as possible. They'd have to go back to their lives, of course, but in time they'd return again. Food came in abundance, and by that point, it was much too late to be concerned with dietary choices since the end was soon to arrive at any moment. The drinks were of anyone's choice. Others who were not members of the close circle of family and friends arrived intermittently each day to share memories or offer apologies and to ask for forgiveness for past transgressions. It is an absolution of their guilt and not for any kind of reformation or the rekindling of friendships. When one is this close to crossing the veil, forgiveness, guilt, old grudges, and the like are trivial when one considers what the entirety of life truly means. I'm lying on a dais with massively oversized throw pillows piled together in one place. I'm enjoying the pace of my breathing. It's not something that one normally considers when involved with the mundane day-to-day life, yet my breathing has never ceased through all the joys and suffering. It's the one constant.

The sun casts a shadow of someone wide and bulky coming down the long open hallway. When he appears, his presence is contrary to the architecture, atmosphere, and people who have occupied this space for the past month. He wears his favorite Primo Beer aloha shirt, dark slacks, and his best spit-shined shoes. His wedding ring was always too small for his big meaty hands and his Seiko watch that my brother gave him for his birthday fits snugly on his wrist. 

"Daddy," my tears come with such surprise, but my weakened state did not prevent me from standing and walking over to him. He was never an affectionate man, but I hugged him without judgment or reservation. He wreaked of that horrible Aqua Velva, and it made me laugh. "I remember the first time you let me try your cologne. I couldn't breathe."

"Why are you crying for?" He was gruff as always, but I didn't care. On the contrary, where I feared it before, I treasured it now. 

"Because you're here, and you've been gone for nearly fifty years," I've never known that tears would be so freeing. There's so much absolution at this moment that I can't stop smiling.

"What is this place? One temple or something?" His body language showed how awkward he felt when going to places or being in situations that made him feel uncomfortable. "You still yet go to the Buddha church?"

"This is my house, Daddy," I was so proud for him to see it. "You want me to show you?"

"No, no," he assured me. "I can go myself; where's the toilet, by the way?"

"You know the way you came in?" I tried to make him remember.

"Yeah," he grunted.

"Go back out that same way and take a left turn; you'll see it," I used my open palm to help guide him in the right direction. 

I'm certain he'll return and give me the full report about the bathroom and how it's too wide open. I hadn't stopped crying. Of all the persons I'd expected to show up, my father was the last. It had always been my expectation that he'd be waiting on the other side. "Did you see where your father went?" The voice jarred me and caused me to whip around so suddenly that I was sure I screamed or at least yelped like a puppy. In her single pullover mu'umu'u, my mother spoke to me but looked around, taking in everything. "What kind of place is this?"

"It's my house, mom," I chuckled.

"And who you live with?" She affected. "The hippies?"

"My wife, kids, and grandchildren," I laughed even harder.

"Why you laughing for?" She pushed my shoulder playfully. 

"I miss you, mom," I hugged her. Her overbearing protectiveness is what drove me away from her, but right now, I can't get enough of it because I turned out the same way with my own children.

"So, you get hippie wife and kids?" She whispered. "You wen marry one haole?"

I practically wet myself from laughing so hard! My poor mother didn't get the joke and wasn't sure if she should laugh along or smack me in the head. "If you go out that way and turn left, you'll find daddy. He went to the bathroom."

Walking toward the open hallway, she looked back at me and said, "I'm not joking; I want to meet this wife of yours and your kids!"

"Yes, mom," I bowed deeply as she disappeared down the hallway. I returned to the dais and lay back on the pillows. I fell into slumber almost immediately. At this point, time was fluid. It came and went as it felt it should. The large marble sundial in the middle of the floor and the clock on the far wall seemed irrelevant. I only awoke because of the sensation of little fingers tickling my feet. A chubby little Hawaiian boy wearing only a pair of blue swim shorts from the sixties with the white drawstring sat at my feet. He wore the rice bowl haircut with the bangs hovering just above his big doe eyes. "I know who you are," I told him. "But you're from my mother's time in her life. So why are you here with me?"

He rolled over to his side and reached into his one pocket, and removed an old folded-up picture. "Think again," he said while handing the photo to me with his little chubby fingers. In the picture were my mother, my older brothers, and my older sister. In her arms, she held the little chubby Hawaiian boy on her lap. "Why are you in this picture with my mom and my brothers and sisters?"

He pressed his finger on his image in the photo and then pointed at me. Then he placed his finger on his nose and pointed back at me. Finally, I was startled awake and saw my wife sitting next to me. "Time for your tea," she placed the still-hot cup on a small table in front of me. "I also cut up some apricots for you. Did you want to try and do some writing today?"

"I'm not sure yet," I replied. "Give me another hour, and I'll know for certain."

"'I'll bring out your laptop just in case," she fixed the pillows for me and gave me a kiss on my forehead.

"Don't forget to double-check on my life insurance policy," I reminded her.

"It's all taken care of," she sighed. "I don't want to talk about it. That's the very last thing I'm concerned about right now."

"What are you concerned about then?" I asked her.

"Your transition, from here to there," she motioned her head toward the high ceilings.

"It's getting close," I sat up and took a sip of my tea, and indulged in a slice of apricot. "I saw my parents not less than an hour ago. My father went to use the bathroom, and my mother went to go look for him. Then, a little Hawaiian boy showed up, but I had no idea who he was."

"You're at the point now where you can't tell the difference between a spirit and some random memory that you put away a long time ago," she massaged my shoulders. "I'll be here, don't worry."

We sat together and leaned on one another, not just for our physical comfort but for the fact that we always leaned on one another through good times and through diverse ones as well. But, mostly, we leaned on one another because we knew we could. There wasn't anyone else who I could trust wholeheartedly more than her. "The kids and babies are asking if they should be here from now?"

"You know how these things happen," I chuckled. "The hours will go on, and everyone waits around, and nothing happens. Then, the second they leave, boom, I croak."

"I'll have them come anyway," she playfully pushed me away.


It was night. Ambient light played into the large space, but it was dark nonetheless. This was normal for my home. Candlelight was the only illumination allowed here in the evenings unless there was a party or a small get-together. The jasmine-scented candles were my favorite. It wasn't difficult to navigate in the dark space, and finding the lighter stick was not difficult at all. I clicked it several times, trying to get a flame. "Let the candles wait, sit down a second, let's talk," the voice spoke from the dais. It was a man's voice, sonorous and compassionate like James Stewart but with a bit more grit. How many more of these surprise visits will I have to suffer before one of them gives me a heart attack?

"May I ask who you are and why the intrusion?"

"This is not my intrusion, but yours," he replied. Although, he was still a silhouette. He had not stepped fully into the ambient light so that I could make sense of his appearance.

"Who are you?" I repeated, not at all hiding my irritation.

"Walrus Scumble," I saw his shadowy form bow respectfully.

I could not help but chuckle, "Well, of all things," I shook my head. "They said you'd come in a form that was pleasing or familiar, but all I recognize about you is your supposed name."

"I've been following your visitations thus far," he stated. "I think I've learned something."

"Learned something? You?" I nodded, quite impressed.

"Breathing," he paused for a second. "You appreciated breathing, finally realizing that it is the one constant in life until life is no more. It ranks third behind life and myself, the first two constants."

"You're here to take me then?" I asked with no fear, no remorse, no begging for a second chance.  

"No," Walrus Scumble replied. "I'm simply here to commend you on contemplating that which only a minuscule few ponder deeply. Besides, when your time comes, it won't be me who comes for you. It will be your wife." his silhouette stepped back into the ambient shadows, and he was gone. Screams and cries suddenly arose from the far end of my estate. Obviously, something happened. As fast as I could without stumbling, I followed the sounds of lamentation, grief, and utter suffering. It was our adult children crying out one sad syllable, mom.


My illness lingered for another twenty years before my time finally came. All the while, I'd been selfish and practically built a temple for my own demise, but it never came. My wife, because she's always been smarter than myself, probably knew this. So why did she indulge me then? Why did I see the visions of my departed loved ones? They weren't there for me. They were there on behalf of my wife, helping me to let go of old hurts and misunderstandings, but primarily to forgive myself even when I didn't recognize my old boyhood incarnation sitting right in front of me at six years old. She wanted to make certain that I was clear and free so that she could pass easily. My death, when it finally came, was not at all painful. My body simply decided that it was time to stop. It had done enough and wanted not to do anymore. I was meditating, measuring my breathing, and then suddenly I was not. That is when my beautiful wife appeared with a cup of my favorite tea and a sandwich bag of sliced apricots. "Are you ready, my love?"

"I am," I held her in my arms for a long while until we stopped and kissed one another passionately. Our home, which was passed down to our children, suddenly became illuminated under the soft orange glow of jasmine-scented candles. Walrus Scumble stood on the dais, which was now a small reading room for our great-grandchildren. He bowed as we passed, measuring his breathing all the while. I laughed, knowing very well that death himself needn't undertake a practice such as that. This is not what I imagined it to be on the day of my passing. It was infinitely better. A far cry from my earthly expectations.

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