Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 5, 2022

Flame 2022

 Anyone who says they don't bring their work home with them is a liar, straight up. Take me, for instance. I'm retired from the force. I've been on the job for thirty years.

My last year on the job would have been quiet and peaceful in a perfect world. No problems, no stress. In an ideal world, yes. A month before my last watch, we got a call regarding an arsonist at an apartment building on 14008 Lusitana street. I knew that location all too well as a rookie. It was never a dull moment on that block. Interviewing the people at this particular address was quite odd. The residents were surprisingly forthcoming with their information. According to what they would tell us, it wasn't an arsonist who started the small fires, which would start and stop for no reason. Instead, it was a little Hawaiian boy wearing a white and green striped shirt, with blue shorts and beat-up slippers. It seemed like a typical description of a child acting out of an anti-social disorder. All the residents at that address concluded their report of the little boy with the same strange description. Where the tiny Hawaiian boy should have had hair on his head, he had flames instead. No, his hair was not set on fire to harm him. It was a singular quiet flame emanating from his scalp like it was a natural part of him. "Quiet flames," they said. Not roaring or bombastic, but unnervingly quiet. Considering my experience with the criminal activity that goes on in and around that block, it would not surprise me in the least that every single person in that residence was high on crack. That was my unofficial conclusion. However, I will say this.

The people I interviewed were genuinely frightened by what they saw. As they put it, the Hawaiian boy touched his finger to something, and a flame would appear, not flickering or wavering, but singular and undisturbed. The flame would only burn in that spot and nowhere else. That would explain the scorched-out areas I saw in each apartment. Finally, I had a talk with the building manager, who was all of five feet tall and thirty pounds overweight. It hurt me to watch him waddle towards me, fighting for every breath of air he took. "They told you about the Hawaiian boy with flames on his head?" He asked.

"Yeah," I sighed. "Fucken unreal. What do you think?"

"They not lying," he huffed. "I saw it myself."

"What is it, a ghost or something?"

"No, not one ghost, but I tell you what I think," he folded his arms. "I think somebody who lives in this apartment went someplace and did something stupid and brought it back with them."

"Okay," I replied. "When you find out who that is, let us know because that person could be the real arsonist." That guy was a walking heart attack waiting to happen.


A few days later, the building manager, Wilson Kamanā, was found burnt to a crisp in his first-floor corner apartment. His residence was completely untouched. It was just Wilson that went up in flames and burned from the inside out. Was it a suicide by self-immolation, or was it a homicide by which someone set him on fire? The medical examiner begrudgingly concluded that it was spontaneous combustion. Be that as it may, thereʻs is nothing like the smell of burnt-out human flesh. Itʻs something that never leaves you. I was on the way back to the squad car when I was stopped by Mrs. Flores; she was one of the residents I interviewed regarding the fires. "Officer, after today, donʻt come back. Donʻt speak to anyone else in this building. Just forget about this place, and go on with your life," she begged.

"Is something wrong, Mrs. Flores? Did someone threaten you or something?" I was genuinely concerned because of the look on her face. She was scared. 

"I cannot tell you here," she stepped closer, with her head down. "Meet me in an hour at Kamāmalu park at the pavilion." She walked through the crowd and went back to her apartment. An hour later, Mrs. Flores and I met at the park. "I have to make this quick, so you will just have to absorb and understand. Can you do that?"

"Sure," nodded. 

"I have to tell you all at once if you stop me, Iʻll forget and then I have to start all over again. You savvy?" She asked.

"I get it," I replied. "Go on,"

"All of us at that apartment building, we had enough of the drug dealer, the chronics, all the stealing. One of our long-time residents had to move because her daughter was raped in their place when some crack head broke in," Mrs. Flores took a breath before she went on. "I summoned it, I had enough, and I was desperate, so I went online and found something about summoning spells, and I brought it forward, and it worked! It scared away the chronics, thieves, and finally, Wilson, the drug dealer himself. I didnʻt think it was going to kill Wilson, you see? I tried to send it back, but it wonʻt leave. Iʻm desperate now. I donʻt know what to do. Itʻs got out of control, so thatʻs why you have to stop investigating before something happens to you...or me." Mrs. Flores looked around as if someone were listening. She bowed slightly and left, walking through the park's length and then down Kamāmalu street. Poor thing, she was just an old and lonely woman who needed attention. A week later, Mrs. Flores was found dead in her apartment, just like Wilson Kamanā. Burnt from the inside out. A month later, I was fully retired. Lots of lounging around the house, lots of reading, and catching up on shows. I spent lots of time restoring my old Monte Carlo and lots of time on the gun range. Then, one night, I was nodding in and out of sleep at six-o-clock in the evening during the news. Something on the broadcast caught my attention. I sat up straight when I saw the picture on the screen with the address attached to it. It was the Lusitana Street apartment building. It was up in flames. "Oh fuck," I muttered to myself. "Shit."

After a late dinner with a few friends of mine, I came back home and took a shower, and then sat down to watch more television. Eventually, around the three-o-clock hour, I fell asleep on my recliner. I suddenly jumped up because I felt the point of a finger press itself very hard into my forearm. Sitting on the edge of my sofa with his knees up to his chest and his arms wrapped around it was a small Hawaiian boy wearing a green and white striped shirt, with blue shorts and beat-up slippers. His chin rested on his knees while his big brown eyes regarded me with a degree of curiosity. On his head was a large singular burning flame, quiet and undisturbed. "I have nowhere to go now," it said. "I think Iʻll stay with you."

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