Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 21, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #40


She hated her English name and refused to be acknowledged by it or to answer it.

Hester. She only replied if you addressed her by her Hawaiian name, Lei. She grew up in a patriarchal family, where the women were secondary and subservient. However, her inherent nature would not allow her to stand by idly and watch her father abuse her mother and older sisters. As a result, she suffered under her father's lash on many nights and lay in bed hungry, forbidden to eat for a week. Izakaya Kalewa became zealously religious after he was thrown in jail for gambling, extortion, and being an accomplice to murder. The judge said he would go lightly on Izakaya if he turned state's evidence on his friend and became a pastor. Otherwise, prison would be his permanent home until his dying day. Still a horrible human being, Izakaya channeled his insecure rage from petty criminal to man of the cloth. No one would question his methods as long as he could say that God deemed everything to be so. 

Except for Hester.

The day came when Lei was old enough to leave and be on her own, not caring if her father approved or not. She was packed and ready to go, her car literally warmed up and waiting. No love was lost between the two. Her mother and sisters stood by, too browbeaten and otherwise to even wish her a fond farewell.

 "God will judge you, Hester, to the last day of your damnation. He will judge you." Izakaya arrogantly pontificated to his daughter.

"My name isn't Hester; it's Lei. After my grandmother," she retorted.

"See how indignant she is even now?" Then, Izakaya turned to his wife and daughters. "You will reap what you sow."

"I'm confused," Lei shook her head. "Which God is which? The one who loves me or the one who damns me?"

Izakaya raised his hand to smite Lei, but she quickly removed a pairing knife from her pocket. Then, lunging forward, she pressed the tip of the blade into his throat just enough to make her point. "No man will ever raise his hand to me again." Next, she pressed the tip of the blade an inch closer to his throat. "You always said how we Hawaiians needed God to cure us out of savagery? Then, in the same sentence, you say that God loves us just as we are? Does that mean that God loves you for beating our mother and bedding, my sisters and me?" The point of the knife went another inch deeper. "For a man of God, you've done nothing but create a living hell for your family. For that alone, I should kill you." Lei cut away to the left with the knife's point, leaving her father's knees to buckle to the dirt. It was a surface wound, so the blood came forth as if he were bleeding to death, but not really. Izakaya's wife and daughters stood by stoically, not offering a measure of help to the man who screamed that his throat had been sliced open. Lei walked to her car and drove off down the long dirt road without ever looking back.


Nine months later, in the deep depths of a moonless Hawaiian night, Lei trudged through the marsh of Kawainui. She parked her car on Kapa'a quarry road and walked in from there. In her arms, Lei carried her newly born infant daughter under the dark moon of Muku, the night when only the gods walk the earth. The newborn was silent and moving, only gazing at her mother whenever she took a second to look down at her child, laying in her embrace. It would be over soon, and the father's sin would not pass itself down through her. That much Lei did know. They finally arrived at the predetermined location. Lei sat in the peat moss, and the water came up around her arms and to her chest. She began to gather the water in the palm of her hand and let it fall on her infant daughter's forehead. "I'm sorry, I don't know the proper prayers or ceremony, but I will learn. This I promise. I dedicate my daughter Hauola to you, and I ask you for her protection. Take of me what you will, but please release my daughter of any sin passed down to her from my father," Lei's voice stumbled, and the hot tears fell from her eyes. "I ask this of you with humility. I will learn, and I will come back to honor you."

The air suddenly went still, and all the sound was gone. It was unnerving, and it gave Lei a sense of foreboding. Without warning, the wind whipped up out of nowhere, and torrential rains fell so harshly that they hurt her skin. Lei held Hauola to her chest and covered her baby's body with her own. Large drops of water fell unrelentingly, pelting Lei to a degree where she began to cry out in pain. But she endured it because she came from a life of enduring physical and emotional pain. Then, as suddenly as it manifested, the wind and rain were gone. So too was the baby. 


It was two in the morning, and traffic was at a standstill driving into Kailua, so we opted to take the shortcut through Kapa'a quarry road. It's not the most scenic route to take, considering there are no street lights, and it's pitched black. I had a long day, and I was afraid if I chose to sit in that traffic, I'd fall asleep at the wheel, and I would end up being 'that guy' who makes the traffic even worse. However, my wife was good about keeping the conversation interesting so that I wouldn't doze off. We'd just passed a place called Nā Pōhaku O Hauwahine when we saw the old woman on the side of the road. She wore a faded grey tank top and Bermuda shorts, and nothing on her feet. Her hair was unkempt, and there was a wild look in her eyes. I pulled over just ahead of her, and my wife and I exited the vehicle. We walked up to her and asked her if she was alright. "Kapu moe!" She hissed at us while suddenly taking all of her clothes off without any reservations. "Kapu moe!" She screamed this time. Her attention suddenly snapped somewhere toward the dark marsh and then back to myself and my wife. "Too late for you folks already!" She screamed. "This is your last chance! Kapu moe! Strip naked and lay face down!"

There it was, the torch lights, burning a bright yellow and greenish color accompanied by the deep cavernous sound of drums shaking the ground. The sound of the conch shells blowing was high and shrill, and it sent shivers down our spines. Now, we knew why she was so crazed. It was night marchers, but the old woman seemed to be waiting for them like she knew they were coming. The stench of sulfur was overwhelming, and we began to wretch, all the while doing our best not to look up. Feet were walking, not marching in time syncopation. Soon we knew that they surrounded us. We heard the crazed woman giggling and cooing. "It's okay," she said. "You can sit up; it's okay."

Slowly, we sat up in the dirt, stark naked. The old woman sat on the ground not far from us. Standing above her was a young Hawaiian girl, dark, tall, slender, with beautiful black hair well past her ankles. She wore only a paʻū made from finely scented ferns around her waist. "Hauola, kuʻu pēpē!" The crazed old woman held her arms open, and the young Hawaiian girl consented to her embrace, where she rocked her back and forth in her arms and hummed a song to herself. I hadnʻt noticed until then how clear the sky was. Not a cloud hung in the heavens, and the moon's brightness was very pronounced. It was shaped like an egg almost, Hua. That was the Hawaiian word for it. Although my wife and I had no idea what transpired in front of us, it was apparent that the young effervescent Hawaiian girl was the old womanʻs daughter. But she, herself, was otherworldly, not human in the way that we know it. The wind sent a blot of clouds suddenly to cover the moon, and the entire tableau slowly faded away. It was only then that I realized that this whole procession was female from beginning to end. The old woman sat there on the dirt weeping silently to herself, rocking back and forth still. My wife and I put our clothes on and then helped the old woman to clothe herself. "My Hauola," she cried. "That was my Hauola. I only get to see her like this once a month, but pretty soon, my time will come, and we will travel together on a moon-like tonight."

"Is there someplace where we can take you, Tūtū? Or did you want to go eat somewhere?" My wife asked her.

"No," the old woman said more to herself than us. "It's better for me to walk, so I can clear my head. Mahalo, I'll be fine."

We left with a great deal of reluctance, yet we did not want to seem overbearing or pushy to someone older than us, but where do you draw the line? It would be a horrible thing to see her picture plastered all over the news as being found dead on the side of the road the following day, knowing that we could have helped her. "I'll be fine," she reassured us a second and third time. We left finally and stopped at the 7-11 in Kailua, where my wife and I silently sat with our drinks and spam musubi, decompressing from everything we'd just experienced. We stayed that way, even when we got home and showered before heading off to bed. A thought occurred to me as I began to fall asleep. We always look at ghosts and spirits as a kind of inconvenience that we need to get rid of. In Hawai'i, it's an entirely different concept. We're the ones that are in the way, and whether we choose to stay where we are or adjust, it won't matter. The spirits of our ancestors will come right through regardless. That's a very sobering thought.


Lei never held any regret for what she asked from the spirits of Kawainui. Finally, one primary akua heard her request and took pity on her plight and her child. So, Hauwahine raised Hauola in the realm of the gods, Kānehūnāmoku. Once a month, on the night of the Hua moon phase, Lei comes to see her baby and holds her close to her poli, knowing that the moment will be brief. One day, when Lei is called to join her kupuna and ʻaumakua, Hauola will be there to greet her, and they will share the alaokekuawahine together. 

photo credit: Blog Saving Time in a Bottle

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