Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 7, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #54


When my boss hired me here at the Mahalo Mart, he first told me that the mart was haunted but that I shouldn't let it bother me.

So all that happens is that at midnight, all doors to where the refrigerated drinks are located open individually. Then the reem of papers in the printing machine starts flying around the office where there's no wind or fan because those things automatically shut off for two minutes as soon as midnight hits. He also noted that things will start falling off the shelves. "It's nothing to worry about," he reassured me. "Just put them back up on the shelf and go about your business."

"What happened before?" I asked him.

"In two thousand four, this place was called 'Teshima's Small Market,' everybody loved the Teshima family. They were good people. Treated everyone nicely; everyone, no matter what color, or background, was nice to everybody. One night this young couple got into an argument outside the store. Things got out of control, and the argument gravitated inside. The boyfriend started throwing his girlfriend around, knocking things off the shelf. In retaliation, she grabbed one of those plastic forks they use for the cheese and nachos and stabbed him in the eye again and again. He pushed her off and stumbled outside the door, but she had already got the corkscrew from the wine section and followed him by that time. She stabbed him dead in the parking lot. When she was done, she came back in here, looking for her favorite orange drink. She opened all the doors to the freezer one by one, but the Teshima's didn't carry that drink. After that, she went into the office and threw things around. Yelling at Mr. Teshima for not having her favorite beverage. That old man was nice no matter what, despite the situation; rather than scream at her to leave, he begged her to go out the back entrance so that the cops wouldn't get her because, by that time, they'd arrived and were coming in the front door. She was so crazed. She ignored him and marched out into the market and out the front door, ignoring HPD's command to stop and drop the bloody corkscrew. They had no choice; they gunned her down in the parking lot. The Teshima's closed market after that. Then this mainland company, Mahalo Mart, opened a chain of stores throughout Hawai'i, and here we are today."

"Oh my god!" I was terrified. "That woman was a badass! So that's the ghost that's haunting this place?"

"No," my boss replied. "I just made it up. I don't actually know what's haunting this place. It can't be one of the Teshima's because they're still alive." He laughed. "But, do be aware of the doors opening and the paper flying around in the office." He walked off to the stock room, giggling the whole time. Jerk.

The evening shift was the typical evening shift. People come in for food, drinks, snacks, beer, and gas. Then the drunk people get madder the more I tell them that they can't buy alcohol after 11 pm. Then there's the occasional visitor from out of town who can't find a bathroom and calls me a prick for not letting him use ours. "Your mama's a prick; just ask your father," was my reply one night when I'd had enough of asshole customers all around. Turns out the guy is blustered and no go. My favorite is the crackhead who comes in and inserts a beat-up old ATM card in the new ATM in our store and stands there, pretending to wait for her cash to come out. "You 'ain't got no bank account, so don't even think about it!" I holler at her. 

"Fuck you, you fucking mopped up shit face!" She screams at me in a scratchy voice and mumbles out of the mart. She'll be back the next night, and we'll go through the same routine.

Things start to slow down around eleven twenty so that by midnight, it is literally dead in the mart. It's like that for a month before it really starts to happen. I don't see it right away. I hear it. The sound of the rubber parting from the stainless steel and then the sigh of the cold air rushing out from the freezer where all the beverages and beer are sitting. All twenty doors open that way, one by one. Simultaneously, I hear the fans and the a/c go off in the office, followed by the sharp flapping sound of paper flitting about. That sound is interrupted by cans, and packages of food, and chips falling to the floor. Dried Korean noodles bowls, min-packets of cookies are next, and thick packets of gum and mints. It all happens like clockwork, just like my boss said it would. Aside from closing all the doors to the freezers, I spend the next few minutes placing everything back on the shelf. I'm not scared at all, just pissed off. I didn't need the extra added stress. Finally, the bell rings, and I look up at the round mirror in the corner. It's an elder Japanese man hobbling in. He's wearing a salmon-colored windbreaker, a shirt, shorts, and slippers. "Oh, papa, it's kind of late for you to be out. How can I help you?" I ask him.

"I just need a package of nori for my udon," he smiled and chuckled more to himself than me.

"You wait right there, papa," I motioned to him. "I'll get it for you."

He was paying for his purchase in a second and then hobbling out the door. I followed him out and locked the door behind me. "Papa, do you live close?"

"Oh yeah, right up the street here," he pointed. 

"Let me walk you home," I kindly insisted. "Dark, that's why and it's so late."

I carried his small paper bag for him and paced alongside him, ensuring he didn't trip over anything. Once we left the lit parking lot of the mart, I used my pocket flashlight to guide our way until we rounded the corner and were standing at the small walkway leading up to his front door. He lived in one of the nineteen twenty-five architectural-type cottages. "I'm alright from here," he told me as he took his paper bag. 

"Ok," I replied. "Let me shine my flashlight on the walkway until you get to the porch, alright?"

"Ok," he chuckled again. Then, less than halfway up the walkway, he paused and turned to look at me. "By the way, is my wife's ghost still haunting the mart?"

"Your wife's ghost?" I was surprised to hear what he said.

"She was kinda lōlō with dementia toward the end," he made the crazy finger motion next to his head. "Sometimes she wanders off and ends up wrecking Teshimaʻs store, but you know that Teshima hah? He's such a good man. He never held it against me. After his market closed down, I heard about what was happening. Is the thing still happening, or what? My wife Irene still making a mess?"

"Yeah," I smiled. "But it's ok, there's no damage, nothing to worry about, papa. It's fine."

"I'm Kuramatsu, Ken," he bowed slightly. "Just call me Ken. Next time Irene makes a mess, just scold her and tell her you gonna call Ken-san. She going stop." Ken waved and made his way into the comfort of his cottage. Now, I know the real story, not the made-up one from my boss. It's bittersweet, actually, and it speaks volumes about the Teshima family. After I talk to the Teshima's, I'll come back here and let you know. 

Photo credit: Tasty Island Food.


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