Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 6, 2022

Number #51 2022

 Mrs. Gouveia remembers when she was seventeen years old growing up in Makaha.

She got a job at Ala Moana shopping center working retail. One day she was asked to do a double and work the closing shift. She agreed because it would add to her paycheck, and that money would go to buying her dress for prom. Everyone knew that the eleven 'o clock Makaha bus was the last ride out to the west side and if you missed it, you either had to sleep at the bus stop until the next morning or had to beg your parents to come to pick you up. Forget the taxi because no cab driver would drive out to the Wai'anae/Makaha area. Luck would have it that Mrs. Gouveia missed the last bus, or so she thought. While she swore and screamed at her bad luck, another 51 bus rolled up with the door open. She remembers the driver was a Portuguese-looking man, maybe middle-aged with reddish hair and a slightly receding hairline with the 70s' sideburns. He wore aviator sunglasses and fingerless leather gloves. Mrs. Gouveia paid her fare and couldn't help but comment, "What brah? You trying fo' race dis bus or what?"

No reply from the driver. He just glanced at her and snickered. It wasn't the ride that Mrs. Gouveia expected, the driver didn't speed, but he didn't stop for anyone either. In fact, he made an illegal turn up Pi'ikoi and headed straight to the freeway. "Oh, what happened?" Mrs. Gouveia remembers asking. "How come we going on the freeway?"

"Bus broke down in Makaha," the driver growled. "I have to bring this one out as a replacement."

It didn't occur to the seventeen-year-old Mrs. Gouveia at the time that if that was the case, why didn't the dispatch just send the driver out straight from the yard? Unless he'd already been sitting in his bus at Ala Moana when he got the call. But she didn't see any other bus except for her missed one. "I saw that you missed the last bus. So I figured that since I was heading out that way, I just pick you up."

"Lucky for you, my stop is the last stop at Makaha beach," Mrs. Gouveia said. 

"That's where I'm going," the driver replied. "Sit back, relax."

But for some reason, Mrs. Gouveia said she couldn't relax. She was on edge the whole time. Especially when she looked at the driver through his mirror. When the ambient light cast its glow on him, his appearance was normal. But when it was dark, his skin was deathly pale, as if he were a corpse. Mrs. Gouveia said that the time couldn't have passed quickly enough and that as the bus rounded the wide turn toward the Makaha bridge just before the beach, she saw the number #51 bus that she missed at Ala Moana avoid an oncoming drunk driver who swerved into his lane. He had to react on a dime and ended up crashing through the bus shack and directly into a grove of Kiawe trees which were very unforgiving. The driver of the #51 bus that Mrs. Gouveia missed took the brunt of the injuries, as did the passenger sitting directly behind him. The other passenger's injuries were not as severe, but they survived. Unfortunately, the driver and passenger behind him did not. The strange driver of Mrs. Gouveia's bus idled by the wreckage and snickered, "Good thing you missed that bus, huh?"

It didn't hit Mrs. Gouveia all at once, not until the driver dropped her off across from Makau street just past the Makaha Shores condominiums. The vehicle came to a slow stop, and the door creaked open. Mrs. Gouveia came walking from down the aisle from her seat and stepped off. Turning to the driver, she said, "You said that you were bringing this bus to replace a broken down one here in Makaha, but we just got here, and we saw the other bus get into an accident? There was no way you or anyone at dispatch could have known that? How did you know?"

"Someone is watching over you," the driver replied.

The bus suddenly took off at a blinding speed and disappeared as it rounded the corner at Kea'au. Mrs. Gouveia walked back to the wreckage, where people gathered from the condominium and surrounding houses. Like everyone else, she pushed through the crowd to get a better look. Mrs. Gouveia told me that she let out a blood-curdling scream when she got a good look at the poor driver. It was the same bus driver who dropped her off just a few minutes past. Middle-aged Portuguese man with red hair, a receding hairline with the 70s' sideburns. His aviator sunglasses were askew, and his fingerless leather gloves were covered in the blood dripping from his mouth and nose.

 "After that," Mrs. Gouveia told me. "I went and got my driver's permit, and my parent's helped me get a car. I never caught the bus after that. I haven't, ever since that accident."

"Do you think that the driver felt guilty about leaving you behind and making you miss your bus?" I asked her.

"Well, the thing is, you see," Mrs. Gouveia began. "Whenever I rode the bus back then, no matter which bus it was, I would always sit behind the driver. But that night, because things were so strange, I sat a couple of more seats back. So, if I had caught my original bus and sat behind THAT driver, I would have been dead."

"But you saw the accident right when it happened, so how could... never mind," I laughed. "Every time I try to question something like this, I just get more confused."

"I will say this," Mrs. Gouveia pointed. "That driver, whoever he was, was right. Someone was definitely watching over me."

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