Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 21, 2022

Kemp 2022

The building manager met me on the Center Street side of the building.

It was a shame that the long-time publishing company finally closed its doors after a lifetime of putting out books from beloved Hawaiian and local authors and noted historians. One in Hawai'i was not considered an actual author until your works were published under Walter Kemp's stamp of approval. Walter was hardly seen in the public eye and was eighty-nine years old when he died of natural causes at his Sierra Heights home. However, as Walter approached his dotage, his thumb was no longer on the pulse of the current trends in island society. He began to miss out on the hottest young writers to lesser publishing companies because he couldn't personally identify with their theme, message, and way of thinking. That situation would have been remedied if Walter had thought to include his younger staff members as part of those particular meetings, but Walter felt that he needed to tighten his grip even harder as he got older. That was the beginning of the end. Now, as I followed behind the building manager whose steps were careful and calculated, knowing that he has walked those now echoed empty halls a million times over, I couldn't help but wonder what this place might have been like when it was in its heyday? Just memories now, I suppose, like the myriads of dustballs floating about under a beam of sunlight through the bay windows. Reaching the end of the hallway on the Sierra drive side of the building, the old man stood in front of a massive door made of Koa. It was ornately carved like one of those old music sheets depicting a beautiful Hawaiian girl on the beach, bathing under the light of the full moon. It gave me the creeps for some reason. Without a word, the building manager put a key in the lock, he turned it, the clicking sound seemed to fill the entire space. He pealed the door open and revealed a sight that only very few saw, even though they might have worked here their whole life. You know you hear about a particular thing for such a long time that you've already formed a picture in your head as to what it looks like. That is until you actually see it right in front of you. That was Walter Kemp's office. It wasn't what I expected to see in the office of the owner of a publishing firm. In fact, it took my breath away. All four walls were lined with bookshelves from floor to ceiling. The tomes were old and thick, massive, unlike the classic books we know. Some were titled in English and Old English. Others were in Italian, Latin, Chinese, and Tibetan. Still, there were others titled in languages I'd never seen before. I got a closer look, and I'm not sure if I was shocked or horrified; maybe I was both? My skin crawled right up to the back of my neck; I was overcome with the fight or flight instinct. I knew right then that fighting would be pointless because what was on those shelves wanted you to fight because that's how it could take you. So, I slowly backed out of the office on purpose. It wanted me to run screaming because it counted on my fear; it was hungry for it. I fought with everything I had, and I walked out as casually as you please until the building manager closed the massive door behind me.

I think I muttered a thank you to the old man before walking briskly back down the long hallway. I found myself back at the door which led out the Center street side of the building. Emerging out of the building was like breaching the surface of the ocean after nearly drowning. I needed that air to fill my lungs. "Grimoire!" The word spilled out of me like a confession, one that I needed everyone and anyone to hear and to know. "Grimoire!" I screamed it out now. "Grimoire! Walter's fucking office is a collection of Grimoire from around the world! What the fuck???"

"Excuse me?" A voice interrupted my tirade and in front of me stood a local Japanese looking very irritable. 

"What?!" I shouted back at him.

"How did you get into this building? Did someone let you in, or did you break in?" He demanded.

"What business is it of yours?" I took a step toward him, challenging his rudeness. "The building manager, let me in if you have to know. I'm the one who was going to buy the building up until a minute ago. But right now, I don't think that's going to happen!"

"Mr. Koalaukani?" His demeanor changed; he was a bit more apologetic and friendly.

"Yes, that's right," I was still hot and not yet as friendly.

"I'm not sure who let you in, but I'm the building manager, Earl Suzuki. I was trying to call and text you to let you know that I was caught in traffic and that I'd be a few minutes late, but for some reason, I couldn't get through," He shook my hand nervously and apologized again. 

"Well, someone who I assumed was the building manager was waiting for me right in front of that door and let me in," I assured Earl Suzuki. 

"Oh well, you got to see the offices then?" He seemed disappointed.

"Just one office," I sighed. "Not all of them."

"Which office? If you don't mind my asking?" Earl seemed perplexed.

"Walter Kemp's office," I confirmed.

"Oh no, you see, Walter Kemp's office was in his home up Sierra drive, not here in the building," why was he so positive? "Come, I'll show you; it's right here." So we stepped back into the building, right through the same door that the building manager, or whoever he was, led me into. Except, there was no long winding hallway. It was a vast open space, with desks, partitions, and copy machines. Like from that Wall Street movie. At the opposite end of the room, on the Sierra drive side was a large black and white picture of a man whose presence loomed over everyone and everything. "That's Walter Kemp," Earl pointed to the portrait. 

"That's the building manager who let me in earlier," I replied, ready to crawl out of my skin and scream myself raw. 

"There were rumors for a long time that Walter practiced the occult at his home and that he collected weird books of the dark arts," Earl shrugged. "I think it's just rumored that he was. There was never any proof."

That's when I screamed, and more than likely scared the shit out of Earl Suzuki. I'm still sorry for that, but I'm not sad about not buying the building. Was the ghost of Walter Kemp trying to scare me and take my soul? Or was he trying to warn me about something? Who gives a shit? Not me.

photo credit: yoyo world forum

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