Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Feb 19, 2022

Perspective 2022

Our office occupies an entire floor at the state building on Punchbowl.

We have an excellent fifth-floor vantage point to see all the comings and goings of persons and vehicles on the street below. It's a nice distraction once in a while. We don't have cubicles or partitions, which would give us our own privacy; it's an ample open space that takes up the entirety of the fifth floor. On the one hand, it seems like a fun thing, and of course, in the beginning, it was. However, as time went on, things began to change. It's unusual for a state office to be seen as free and progressive in its setting. The higher-ups felt that a positive atmosphere would yield positive employee attitudes and better, more productive work. So it did, for a while. I'm not sure when it began, but little things started to creep in, like Jodi Cameron from Pearl City, who, for some reason, had it in for Shane Medeiros from Salt Lake, who really hadn't done anything to incur Jodie's ire.

Jodi just decided one day that she didn't like him because of how much praise he received from our boss for his timely work. Jodi's work was just as efficient and just as timely, so, therefore, what was the problem? One morning, Shane clocked in, sat at his desk, and reached for his favorite coffee cup that he would routinely bring to the mini-caffeine bar at the end of the office space. He was stunned to see that his favorite coffee cup was filled with red dirt. He was taken aback for only a second before he became enraged. Only four other persons were present that morning; not everyone had arrived and checked in yet. Jodi sat silently at her desk, said nothing, and paid no mind to the incident, not even looking up once. Shane went and reported the incident to the boss, and the result was that the mini-caffeine bar was dismantled and taken away until someone confessed to the juvenile act. No one came forward. Jodi, however, complained to her friends that Shane was such a crybaby and that the fault was entirely his for the loss of the mini-caffeine bar. "No," Meg Takushi from Liliha interjected. "If you didn't put dirt in his coffee cup, Shane wouldn't have complained to our boss, and we would still have the mini-caffeine bar!"

"Yeah," Carmen Nakasone from 'Ewa Beach chimed in. "That guy didn't do anything to you; what's your problem? You're going to get all of us in trouble, you know?"

After working so closely with Meg and Carmen for fifteen years, literally less than two feet away from them, Jodi couldn't handle being shunned and ignored by the two. They wouldn't have anything to do with her. So, by the end of the month, Jodi took the elevator to the roof on her lunch break and jumped to her death. But that was only the beginning. Ryan Kapili from Kāneʻohe began to harass the only other Hawaiian employee in the office, Mark Lama from Makakilo. Mark wasn't light-skinned and aquiline like Ryan. Instead, Mark was the classic Hawaiian with dark features, jet-black hair, thick eyebrows, brown eyes, full lips, and a hawk-like nose. Daily, Ryan would point out those things to Mark regarding his appearance and say that appearance often equates with lifestyle and financial status. "Which couldn't be much," Ryan laughed, encouraging others around him to laugh. "So, what then? Fish and poi for lunch and dinner?" This continued for quite a while until Ryan returned from his lunch break, fuming mad one day. Someone had broken into his car and stolen his removable stereo deck along with his dive fins and spear gun. He immediately targeted Mark, saying that he was the only one who could have broken into his car since everyone knows that Hawaiians from the west end of the island are thieves and drug dealers. Mark had had enough.

"Aren't you Hawaiian too, Kapili?" Mark stood up and got into Ryan's space, backing him up and away from Mark's desk. "Are you insinuating that because I didn't go to the school on the hill and that I'm darker skinned than you are, it goes without saying that I broke into your car and stole all of your worthless items?"

"You're the only one that could have!" Ryan bellowed loud enough that it caught the attention of the entire floor of employees. They all came rushing over; even our boss stood to one side and listened before interjecting. 

"Why am I the only one that could have? Because you say so? Because you come from a well-to-do family that spoiled you so you wouldn't have to work hard a day in your life? Why do you even bother working at all? Why would you subject yourself to working in a state office of all places when you could just live off of your family's wealth?" Mark asked. "The only conclusion is that your parents probably had enough of your shit and made you get an honest job; otherwise, they were going to cut you off." Ryan didn't reply. The look on his face told everyone that Mark was right, and Ryan had no response. "I did a background check on you, brother, and you're a piece of work. Arrested for possession and thievery while you were still in school? Your father had to pull a few strings so that you wouldn't get kicked out of that school on the hill, and it's been one long string of fuck ups. Especially when you got a sixteen-year-old girl pregnant, it turns out to be the reason why you're working here. Working to support your child, whether you like it or not."

Later on, the security camera in the parking garage revealed random thieves casing cars and deciding on Ryan's car to break into. As a result of Ryan's lengthy harassment of Mark, he was removed from the state office and later transferred to the health department. After that, things were peaceful in our open-air office for a while until they hired Teofilo Raginduin from Waipahu. Now, to set things straight, Teo did nothing wrong. He simply ended up becoming the victim of someone else's nefarious plans. This was Teo's first job right out of college, and with his sunny and bright disposition, everyone liked him. He sort of became the young mascot of the office, which everyone looked after. Tracy Kennedy was a lateral transfer from the state office in Kapolei, but she lived in town, so this was an easier commute for her. Tracy was originally from Sacramento, and her husband was in the military, stationed overseas. No one knew when or how it started, but one day, you could tell. Teo and Tracy had become heavily involved in a relationship that they tried to keep under wraps but failed miserably. They arrived at work together, went on lunch breaks simultaneously, and left the office at the same time.

At the office Christmas party at the ʻĀinahau showroom in Waikīkī, the two were inseparable the whole night and danced as closely as two people could. It seemed like heaven, but things changed after a few more months. Tracy ignored Teo completely. He would stand at her desk, trying to be as discreet as possible, but you could tell that trouble was brewing in paradise and that it was being served piping hot. Tracyʻs husband Stan from Sacramento was home for good as his orders said. It was more than likely that Stan would retire after eight years of service right here in the islands. Teo was destroyed; he was entirely out of his mind and would not see reason. Tracy asked for another lateral transfer, and considering the circumstances, she was granted her request immediately. Everyone else didnʻt know that the basis for Tracyʻs first lateral transfer to our office was that she was having an affair with another employee at her old office. Things got complicated when the employee's wife found out and showed up at Tracyʻs desk one morning. Poor Teo, he was utterly wrecked, and he never recovered. One day while coming from a shopping trip at the Safeway in Mānoa, Teo looked up and saw Tracy and what he assumed was her husband, Stan, crossing the street to the Starbucks. Teo laid the gas pedal to the floor and plowed right into the couple, killing them instantly. He reversed and went forward over them a few times before driving off. He was arrested a few hours later at his home in full view of his parents, who would visit him daily during his twenty-year sentence.


Today was a long day, with budgetary constraints, accounting, financing, and people being downright nasty for no other reason than being tired of the same drudgery day in and day out. No wonder state workers come back and haunt the very office where they spent their lifetime working. Finally, I got home to my apartment on Liholiho Street and just flopped on the couch. I did not bother putting my briefcase down, nor did I bother taking off my jacket. I only had a second to let out a deep breath of relief that the workday was finally over. Then, the ten-foot-tall black-scaled demon with yellowed teeth, claws, and red glowing eyes manifested right before the flat screen. I couldnʻt help but laugh, it started as a chuckle first, but then it broke into uproarious laughter. The demon was visibly irritated, but I apologized because I realized the situation's absurdity. "Dost thou laugh at the presence of one who can tear your soul asunder?"

"No," I was still laughing. "I mean no disrespect; you have been here since I moved in three years ago, is that correct?"

" It is so as you say," the demon agreed.

"And I didnʻt summon you; you were just here," I confirmed.

"Summoned from the foolish youth before you, through the witch board I was," the demon growled.

"Donʻt be insulted, but I canʻt take you seriously," my laughter was coming to a reasonable conclusion.

"You cannot deny one such as me, the epitome of evil," he emphasized each word carefully, hoping to induce terror as he went along.

"I witness evil every day at my job, the way my fellow workers treat one another, the pettiness, the backstabbing, the determination to ruin another person's life, and for no good reason other than they have nothing better to do. I witness the erosion of empathy and compassion, and when you donʻt have that, all you have left is evil. Iʻm surrounded by it day in and day out, so I apologize if Iʻm not impressed by your presence anymore," I said. 

Just like that, the horrifying demon was gone. He blipped out but made sure he left his terrible sulfuric flatulence behind. Ugh.

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