Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 2, 2022

The Jacket 2022

 It was understood in the Kelea ohana that when someone passed away, the deceased's most personal items were taken with them to the otherworld. Whether it was jewelry, woven items, or even clothing. It all went with the dead.

The parents and the kupuna always told the younger ones that the essence of the deceased person is contained within those belongings which were touched and handled by them. It was on their person; the oils from their skin, the emotions, thoughts, and feelings were all contained therewithin. All of that mana was transferred from person to object. No one can own those things or wear those articles of clothing as hand-me-downs. Lest you become sick, cursed, or worse. Braddah Kelea was only thirty-five years of age and the picture of health when he suddenly dropped dead while walking from the kitchen table to the refrigerator. He had a hole in his heart that he lived with for most of his life. His doctors told him it would all be a matter of time. He could die at any given moment. There was no specific timeline; it was going to happen when it happened.

Everyone was heartbroken needless to say because Braddah Kelea was beloved in his family and community. As was the tradition in the Kelea ohana, all personal and intimate items belonging to Braddah were prepared to be sent with him to his final rest. Most admired of his funerary belongings was his embroidered Tiger jacket which he acquired while studying Tae-kwon-do in Korea. He was never seen without that jacket unless he was attending an event of some kind that required a different array of uniforms. Braddah had it dry cleaned once a month. Somehow, the prized jacket disappeared. No one knew where it might have gone or who might have taken it.

A month later, services were held for Braddah at the Hawaiian Memorial Park. It was a standing-room-only occasion. There was no eulogy. Instead, many people were allowed to speak from their hearts regarding their love, affection, and memories regarding Braddah. After, the pal-bearers carried his casket to the hearse and then met at the grave where everyone gathered for a final aloha, a hui hou. The Kahu gave a beautiful and fond farewell, but before the body was lowered into the grave, Braddah's mother stood up and addressed the crowd. "My son Kevin, or Braddah as we all know him, became a Christian when he was eighteen, and that was fine. I always respected my children's choices as long as they were good choices, and I never interfered in their personal affairs unless they asked for my help. But my kids always knew one thing about me that they could never change, and that is a tradition in our ohana from ancient times right up until now, which my ohana has always kept," Mrs. Kelea took a moment to scan the crowd and make eye contact with as many of them as she could. "That is, that no matter when or how we die, that all of our personal items that belonged to us, that were ours because we Hawaiians have so little left, those items go with us when and wherever we are buried. But something that belonged to my son was stolen, so not everything that was his is resting with him right now. I'm not going to accuse anyone or point any fingers, but I will say this. What you took is not yours, it doesn't belong to you, and you have no right to it. Whoever you are, you will not part from this cemetery alive, and that's not a curse. That's a fact. So good luck to you, whomever you might be," Mrs. Kelea snickered as she spread the last ounce of earth on her son's casket. After, everyone went back to have lunch together to sit and talk. An atmosphere of unspoken nervousness permeated the crowd. Was Mrs. Kelea serious? Who would be so horrible a human being as to steal from the dead?

The time had now come for everyone to depart and leave the cemetery. Those who were guiltless left without worry. Others worried that whoever stole the item that Mrs. Kelea mentioned might be riding in the car with them. Goodness forbid that they die in the back seat or while driving! One by one, vehicles left the cemetery gate, and no one died. Neither did anyone who lingered longer than they should have; they too finally left unscathed. Now, with only Mrs. Kelea, her sons, and their girlfriends and wives and children left, the small group eyed one another nervously. The matriarch assured her children that everything was fine and that they could all leave without worry. She ushered her children to their cars and kissed them and her grandchildren goodbye. She tucked her youngest mo'opuna into his car chair and handed him his binky. She kissed him on the forehead and closed the car door, and blew the little one a kiss as the car drove off. Her eldest son Kalani and his girlfriend Sue pulled up in their car and came out to give Mrs. Kelea a hug and kiss goodbye. "See you tomorrow at the house, ma?" Before Mrs. Kelea could reply, Kalaniʻs girlfriend Sue also hugged and kissed her. "Iʻm going to miss Braddah; he was such a wonderful human being."

"Mahalo," Mrs. Kelea nodded.

"Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this family," Sue held Mrs. Keleaʻs face in her hands to make sure that they made eye contact. "Iʻm serious, it means a lot to me,"

"Sure," Mrs. Kelea smiled but very slightly.

"Iʻll see you at the house tomorrow," Sue smiled and hugged Mrs. Kelea again.

"No, you wonʻt," Mrs. Kelea deadpanned. Sueʻs eyes suddenly rolled over white, and her skin went deathly pale. She collapsed to the pavement and died instantly. Before Kalani could even scream, cry, or grieve, his mother grabbed him by the lapel of his suit and pulled him close to her. "Stupid idiot! This is what you get for stealing your brotherʻs jacket and giving it to Sue so you could impress her! You may be the oldest Kalani, but you were always the dumbest! Your brother died because he had a hole in his heart, and you give Sue his jacket that he wore all the time, and now look? She dies of the same thing! Thatʻs why we donʻt take anything that is buried with the dead! Now look, you reap what you sow."

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