Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 21, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #10

 I hung out with my grandfather a lot during the last year of his life.

It was pitiful, really. Not even my dad, my grandfather's only son, could be bothered to spend time with him. My father's sisters were all spread out all over the mainland and busy with their families. I remember during the Zoom call they told my father to only call them once my grandfather passed away. They went on and on about how much of a terrible person he was. Not just to them, but their mother, my grandma, who apparently got off scot-free once she died. I overheard them say that he wasn't physically or mentally abusive; he was just a shitty person. For the six months that I took it upon myself to spend time with my grandfather, I was introduced to the one thing he was known for. His ume preserves. My father told me that back in the day, grandpa's ume was so good that it was more popular than the store brand. People from everywhere came to buy a jar or two from him. My Granpa was smart. He anticipated some sort of reprisal from the county or state once word got out about his ume. So, he gave his ume preservatives away for free, but he would always ask for some sort of favor in exchange. What those favors were was never made clear to me. All my father would say is that it always resulted in some kind of shittiness. This intrigued me, the ume preservatives, that is, not the shittiness. Every day, before I'd head upstairs to sit with my grandfather, I would always dip into a jar of the ume and pop one in my mouth. The jar was chilled to just the right temperature, which made the ume taste heavenly! I was always cautious if some kind of nastiness from the old man in the form of an insult or a whack of his cane came about. However, the quality of keeping company with him was contrary to what I was told. We watched his favorite old movies and ate his favorite snacks. I went through boxes of old photographs with him, and for each one, he had a date, a time, and a story. He never once said anything horrible regarding any person in those pictures, be it family or friends. He was even cool enough to let me drive his old Lincoln to and from the store whenever he needed something. Each evening when his care provider arrived, we parted with a hug and fond I love yous. While the care provider prepared the tub for my grandfather's bath one night, he passed quietly while sitting up in bed. As the body relaxed once the heart stopped and all other bodily functions ceased, my grandpa tumbled off his bed and hit the wooden floor with a loud thud. That's the way the care provider found him, sprawled out and half-naked. When my father broke the news to his sisters over Zoom, they let out a collective sigh of relief as if some horrible burden had lifted from their shoulders and conscience. The tears they shed during my grandpa's services were born from anger, not pain, sadness, or loss. Even as grandpa's ashes were spread at Diamond Head, no sense of some kind of last-ditch filial piety was expressed by my father and his sisters. It was more of an exorcism of my grandfather's mental and emotional demons which he cast upon his own children to possess them. The following day, we gathered in our living room while my grandfather's attorney read his will. My father couldn't care less. My aunties were over it.

"Essentially, Mr. Pai left nothing to you and your sisters," he announced.

"No surprise there," my aunty Rose huffed.

"Go on," my father said. "You might as well read the rest."

"He only left something for Kameron, your son," the attorney eyed everyone carefully while each adult wore an expression of confusion.

"Sure," my father waved his hand.

"This should be interesting," my aunty Tyra scoffed.

"It's actually a bill from your father, Mr. Pai, charging your son Kameron one thousand and eighty-two dollars," the attorney braced himself for the storm.

"For what? Kameron spent every day for six months with his grandfather until the care provider arrived later that afternoon! So what the hell was he charged for?" My dad was pissed, to say the least.

"Apparently, your father knew just how many ume was in each jar, and he counted the number of those preservatives every day, so right after your son would leave, your father went downstairs and counted. According to your father's journal, Kameron stole one ume every day. Your father keeps a ledger, and this is a bill for which payment is due immediately," the attorney paused. "There's also a bill for the amount of gas you used each day to drive your grandfather's Lincoln to and from the store. He kept an eye on the mileage."

To say that my father was mad is putting it mildly. His emotional and mental state exceeded the definition of any word describing anger, rage, and murder. He did kick the attorney out of his house because, as it turns out, my grandfather had his attorney on some kind of payroll. Three days later, my father was arrested at our home for defiling a corpse, namely my grandfather. On his own, my father exhumed my grandfather's body and hung it from a telephone pole fronting his house. In addition, my father hung a large sign around his father's neck which read, "EVEN IN THE AFTERLIFE, I AM STILL A SHITTY FATHER."

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