Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 18, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #13

 It was a party which I'd been invited to at the very last minute.

It was Kai's idea because I was at a very low point in my life. Hated my job, dumped in my previous relationship, and got kicked when I was down by people I thought I could trust. But isn't that when you find out who is down for you and who has been sitting on the fence the whole time? Yeah, so I threw on a pair of pants, a decent pair of shoes, and an old buttoned-down shirt that didn't make me come across as too uptight. It wasn't until I was in the car that Kai told me that the party was in Hau'ula and that he'd intended to do some drinking. He wanted me to be the designated driver. "Sure," I told him. 

"Might have couple other people we gotta drive home, so be ready," he cautioned me.

"You had this all planned out already?" I asked him.

"Of course," he laughed. "And I told all my cousins that I only trust you to drive, 'cause you're level-headed and all that kine stuff."

"Thanks, you just basically told all of your cousins that I'm a square," I huffed.

"Yeah, but you're my square," he leaned over and rubbed his forehead on my shoulder.

I pushed his big head away, "Pay attention to the road stupid before you kill us."


The party turned out to be at a house with a garage on the bottom and six bedrooms upstairs. It was packed in every little space. Literally, standing room only. There was no shortage of drinks or food. The kalua pig was plentiful, straight from the imu. The poi was thick and not watered down like at other parties in town. The rest of the food was magic, everything from Hawaiian. to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and more. Kai went in headfirst and disappeared into the throng people after introducing me around to the key people there, like his mother, aunties, uncles, and cousins. I piled myself a plate of food and found a safe corner where I could sit and eat.

The drinks were iced cold, so that made the meal even more delicious. It was good to see so many Hawaiians in one place, having a good time. They were all hard-working people who deserved a night to commiserate with one another. It seemed that the whole neighborhood was in attendance and that everyone was free to venture through everyone else's homes if the beer ran out or if someone had Chinese roast pork that was needed for the fire. Others were available to do a beer run or get several more buckets of chicken from the drive-thru. By three in the morning, the party died down to just a handful of people. Everyone else wandered or stumbled back to their homes. Some alone, and some with a newly acquired partner for the evening. I was still in my corner, picking on edamame and ume straight from the bottle. Kai finally came weaving down the side stairs with three of his girl cousins in tow. Each one was tall, exquisitely beautiful, and very drunk. I was surprised at how well the four of them could navigate their way to the car without throwing up or falling down. The car was filled with the smell of alcohol and cigarette smoke barely hidden under a few squirts of perfume. Fortunately, the three girl cousins didn't live too far from the Kaipapa'u home. They were right up the street from the church next to the 7-11. Each one stumbled out, offered their slurred thanks, and incorrectly pronounced my name when they asked for it. "Mahalo Kamala, you're so sweet to drive us home!"

"It's Kalama," I smiled. 

"Okay, Mancala, don't get all insulted," the other girl cousin scolded me.

"We play volleyball, you know?" the third one chimed in. "No, make us false crack you, Lakala!"

"Shaddup!" Kai bellowed at the three. "Just get out already! Go home!"

In a second, they were gone, grumbling to themselves and each other. I quickly pulled out to the main road and felt it was eerie to see it so empty and quiet. Kai was out cold, snoring wildly and thrashing about in the passenger's seat. I turned the radio on and bluetoothed my playlist. It was a bunch of loud metal from the 80s, which is now relatively tame by today's standards. It wasn't until I passed the 7-11 in Ka'a'awa that I glanced up at the rearview mirror and saw a young woman sitting in the back seat. "Oh shit!" I screamed and nearly lost control of the car. I managed to pull over really quickly and apologized for almost killing us. Kai was dead to the world. "I'm sorry, I thought you got out in Hau'ula! I'll take you back."

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I fell asleep; I should have said something."

"No," I countered. "I should have been more aware."

"I'm sorry, I know it's out of your way," she apologized again. "It's a long drive back."

"Not at all," I reassured her. I was right back to the spot where I dropped her other cousins off in a short while.

"You're so nice for doing this. I appreciate it." She smiled before she let herself out. Then, she leaned forward and kissed Kai on the cheek. "Good night," she smiled again while looking at me. "You're a good friend to Kai. He's fortunate."

"Goodnight," I nodded. 


Although, time seemed to fade away, and the drive wasn't as long as I thought it would be. It gave me time to contemplate the next course that my life would take after tonight. Eventually, we were pulling up in front of my house, and it took me a couple of shoves and a yank of a hair follicle from Kai's beard to rouse him from his Viking-like snoring. "Oh, we stay at your place already?"

"Yup," I chuckled.

"Faka, why you pull out my beard hair, you basteed?" He rubbed his cheek vigorously. "Shoots, brah, thanks for driving!" He gave me a huge bear hug. "So, what brah? You had planny for eat?"


"You when like the food or what?" He asked.


"And what? You wen hook up with anybody?" He was getting to be obnoxious at this point.


"Brah, you neva hook up with one of my girl cousins, right? I going have to broke your ass if you did, brah!" He put his fists up and began to rock back and forth. Finally, I shoved him into the driver's seat of his car and slammed the door shut. "Shoots, brah! I'll text you when I get home!"


Forty-five minutes later, Kai facetimed me, but is very, unlike his usual boisterous, irritating self. He held up a jeans jacket to the camera. On it was sewn the proverbial patches representing heavy metal bands from the 80s. "Brah, what the fuck is this jacket doing in my back seat, brah? What the fuck?"

"Oh," I replied. "One of your cousins fell asleep in the back seat. I didn't know she was there until I saw her. I thought she got out with the other three, but I brought her back home."

"No lie, you faka!" Kai was upset. "How dis jacket got in my back seat? No fucking lie to me, brah!"

"I just told you, you idiot! What is your problem!?" I screamed back.

"Be outside your place. I coming now!"


Fifteen minutes later, Kai rumbled up, and I jumped in. He said nothing the whole way to Hau'ula even though I asked him again and again about what the hell was going on? Finally, he pulled a hard left into the parking lot of the 7-11 in Ka'a'awa and came to a screeching halt. "Did she show up in the back seat and soon as you passed this store?"

"Yeah," I replied. "She was just there. I swore there were three of them, but I must have miscounted."

"You didn't miscount," Kai cried. "There were only three of my girl cousins in the car."

"Then who was that fourth person?" I asked.

"Their mom," Kai tried his best to hold back his tears, "my aunty."

"Your aunt?"

"My cousins were just born in 1989, my aunty Wailani was a free spirit still, and she loved her heavy metal. Every weekend my grandparents watched the babies while she went to the clubs and the concerts. She was killed in a hit-run, just a little past this store. She was struck so hard that this jacket came off her body somehow," Kai recounted in a hushed tone. "Did she say anything?"

"She said to tell you good-night and that you were lucky to have me as your friend," I replied.

Kai put one arm around me and pulled me close, "I love you, brah, thank you so much!" His aunty's jeans jacket, which he clutched so closely, slowly faded into nothing, dematerializing from his hands. He cried even more, but he did manage to tell me one thing. "That party last night? That was for my aunty Wailani, it was her birthday, but it was also the anniversary of her death. So every year, the whole neighborhood comes out to celebrate and remember her." He pulled back and looked at me for a second. "Of all the people she could have appeared to, she chose you because you were the one driving her daughter's home safely. She's right, brah, I am fortunate."

Kai drove us back to the house on Kaipapa'u to tell his mother about what happened last night. He wasn't certain as to how the news would be received, but he did know, she had to hear it. After all, it's not every day that her sister's ghost manifests just to say mahalo to someone she doesn't know.

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