Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Feb 28, 2022

River 2022

We come here all the time; this is where we met so many years ago. I was here gathering my thoughts because my life was at an impasse. I had no direction, and I hoped that a few quiet moments would give me some clarity. But, instead, this woman came out of nowhere, running straight for the river, which was swollen over and moving fast. Had I not seen her out of the corner of my eye, she would have achieved her intended goal and let the river take her away. The funny thing is that I'd do the same thing right then, just for a second. I ran after her, and she fought me off and kept running. Finally, I had to tackle her to the dirt; was she pissed. Then, a man came out of nowhere, calling out what I could only assume was her name, "Lianne!"
I looked at her to ask her if that guy was her husband, and I saw how bloodied and beaten up she was. "You fucking bitch!" The man screamed at her. "Get over here now before I kill you!"
"I'll save you the trouble, you asshole!" So she made a dead run for the river, and I had to stop her, but at the same time, her husband or boyfriend, whoever he was, came after her. I bummed, rushed him, and knocked him to the dirt, and then I grabbed her and took her with me. Finally, we both made it to my car, and I asked her if she wanted to go anywhere; I could get her there. "Just let me die," this was a deep pain that tore her apart. "Please let me die."

When I was sure we weren't followed, I took her to my place and helped her clean up. I called the authorities first and then her family once she finally agreed that it had to be done. Both entities came and got her, and they thanked me for my help. I changed my career shortly after that. I opened a small tour company that became so successful that I could sell it in less than ten years, and then I retired. Occasionally, the new owners would call me and ask if I could fill in whenever they were short-staffed. Of course, that was fine since I was the one who created the whole thing. They used the mini-bus that day, the one that seats thirty-two people. "Anything you want to do and anywhere you want to take them," the general manager said. "Just make sure that everyone has a good time and that they're safe."

"I can do that," I replied.

I drove down to the bus yard and parked my car there. The office wanted to give me a VIP parking space, but I refused. "I'm just one of the guys; I don't need a special parking spot." Turns out they needed help getting a driver to come on such short notice, so the general manager said they had to pull someone from the King Street office. When the mini-bus pulled up, and the door opened, I was shocked. It was Lianne. We didn't have time to talk and exchange salutations. We only had fifteen minutes to get to Waikiki, pick up the people, and head out.

Luckily, the Sheraton garage wasn't busy at all. The loader was there giving the group an excellent pep talk so that they were all in a good mood when they got on the bus. I brought all of my items, like shark-toothed weapons, ancient-styled fish hooks, and lures, to show everyone when we stopped at such places as Kewalo, Pu'iwa Park, and the Pali lookout. We even managed to stop for some shaved ice while keeping it within proximity of Waikiki, Nu'uanu, and downtown. No need for an all-day trip to the other side of the island. The people were happy and delighted, and they returned to their hotel rooms with enough time to take a nap and ready themselves for their evening plans. On the way back to the yard, Lianne told me about her journey as an abuse survivor. "I was a fixer," she said. "I thought I could fix my ex-husband, but when I realized that I was trapped in that abusive situation and there was no way out, all I could do was run. That's the day you saw me. After you helped me, my friends and family helped me realize that I had to help myself. It wasn't easy, but I got my head out of my ass, and here I am. Thanks for what you did that day," she wiped her eyes and kept her focus on the road. 

"I'm happy you're here," I told her.

"I'm at Windward Community College getting my A.A. in Hawaiian studies," she shrugged. "Something I always wanted to do."

"Well, that's good," I said. "Then you can start doing these tours on your own."

"I wanna do more than drive a tour bus once I'm done," she continued. "I'm gonna transfer to U.H. and see what's what. After that, the sky is the limit, I suppose."

"It is," I agreed. "It is."

"How come you were there that day?" She asked suddenly, which changed to mood.

"I was at an impasse in my life," I spoke honestly. "I was stuck because I was thirty and had done nothing. I had to drop out of college because my folks were having a hard time, so I ended up working these menial paying jobs because I had no degree. I felt like my purpose was ripped right out from under me."

"So, you were gonna kill yourself that day?"

"Yeah, right at that moment when you showed up, I was thinking about it," I replied. "I was gonna throw myself in the river and let it drown me."

"That's weird the way that happened, huh?" She asked.

"What do you mean?"

"If my life wasn't so fucked up, my ex and I wouldn't have ended up there, and I wouldn't have run away from him after he beat the shit out of me," she explained. "And I literally would not have run into you. The circumstances are shitty, but look at how it all worked out?"

"I never thought about it that way," I admitted. "I guess we kinda saved each other's lives, huh?"

Ten years later, the big tall grassy area near that same river has been turned into a park. Lianne's second husband, her kids, and my wife and kids meet there on that fateful date every year to celebrate the second chance the river gave us. It's a mighty river, not to be messed with or taken lightly, but we always bring offerings of thanks. 

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