Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 30, 2022

Asafoetida Lima 2022

Noon already; it's been two years, and it's been casually beautiful and seamless.

No squared corners between us; everything is a circle. There's unspoken equality, no one is less or more than the other, but it goes without saying that one wants the other to achieve the limitless sky while either Jen or I bask in the other's glory. We haven't moved in together, she's at her place, and I'm at mine. While I'm there, I treat her home with reverence and respect. I help clean up and make any needed improvements, and we have a fun time keeping her backyard and garden up to par. At my place, since it was the condo at central union church, long before I made aunty Rita and Tabby move into my current abode, it was Jenny's pu'uhonua. A space where she could relax and not worry about anything. She's already up and milling about in the kitchen; getting the coffee started, she sees that there's already a hot cup waiting for her.

On the counter is a fried rice and pork sausage omelet with buttered sweet bread toast on the side. By the time I walk into the kitchen, she's offering me her last piece of the omelet on a fork, which I gladly take. I give her a kiss and fire up the oven to make myself an omelet. I butter up the pan and let it sit on low while cracking the eggs and mixing them in a coffee cup. Finally, the fixings are ready to go: pork sausage, chives, and fried rice are proper in the middle. But, before I fold it up, I realize I've forgotten one crucial ingredient. Natto. 

"Eeeewww," Jenny exclaims. "I was all horny for ya' up until the natto; now you're on your own, buddy!"

"Don't be a snob," I tell her. "Come over here and try it,"

"No!" She pulls away.

"C'mon, try it," I hold the plate up for her to take a piece, and she bolts up out of her chair.

"Dude, I'm telling you to get that thing out of my face," she's holding her palm out to me.

"Or what?" I mock her. She reaches out and flicks my testicles, and I must have jumped ten feet high. She runs, squealing, to my room, and I put the plate down and go after her. She's hiding behind the door when I get there and tackles me to the bed. We giggle, laugh, and roll around until we're tired again, and we fall asleep holding on to one another. Later that night, we were coming out of the theater at Kahala after watching a late movie revival about one of Kurosawa's most ambitious films. We were walking past the old Radio Shack when I glanced up and saw someone staring at us, but I gave it no attention because that person didn't seem to be threatening. It wasn't until we had already gotten some Cinnabon to take home that I noticed this same person was following us. He disappeared when we got to the second-floor parking lot, which made me think that I was being paranoid. However, once Jenny was in the car and I walked over to the driver's side door, there he was, blocking my way. 

"Donnelly Corpuz," I said.

"So, you actually know who I am?" He said.

"We cursed you, so of course," I replied.

"Then you know why I am here?" His eyes were wide, and his nostrils flared out.

"Don't do it, Donnelly," I cautioned him. "You go live your life into the extremities of old age because that's what you're meant to do. You deviate from that path, and everything ends here, right where you stand."

"You and your family cursed me and made me lose everything!" He screamed with the pent-up anger of many years and a lifetime of pain and abuse.

"Typical abusive liar, projecting all your faults on everyone and everything except for the one person whose fault it really is. You, Donnelly, it's your fault you lost Trisha and your kids because all you ever did was make her pay for your sins, the abuse you suffered that had nothing to do with her. If my family and I didn't place that curse on you, you would have killed her," I told him. "Now that Trisha has told you everything, you still can't accept that this is your fault, can you?"

In a fit of blind rage, he charged at me with a large bowie knife. I've been here before, being blindly charged at. I was fifteen; it happened in my room when the Lua assassins came after me, sent by Vernon Holokauahi, who later re-emerged as Joe Black. Why was the anger, hurt, and devastation coming back to haunt me now? Of course, it was the night my father died while trying to protect my mother and myself. They tore his heart out with their bare hands showing no mercy. Donnelly Corpuz reminded me of those assassins, their attitude, and their posturing. I met him halfway, and because of my years of training in Lua, taught to me by my parents, I inserted my hand into Donnelly's sternum and removed his liver. In deference to the god Ku'i-a-lua, I consumed the liver and chewed first before swallowing it. My hands were still glowing red and then blue; I had to control my breathing to calm my Kū energy before doing any more damage. When I stood up and turned around, Jenny was there with a catatonic expression on her face. Seeing my mouth and neck covered in blood, I can only imagine what she must have thought and felt. She ran off, and I couldn't stop her; what was I going to say? How was I going to explain it?


She's not answering my calls and won't come to her door when I show up at her house. Her secretary told me that she's not accepting any calls or visitors. Neither has she shown up at the Goodwill. Luckily, my uncles and aunt let this be my problem to address; they weren't going to step in, although technically, they could. There was no explanation she could accept because how do you explain something like that to someone who is not of the kind of circle you move in? When was I going to tell her? Sooner? Later? It was my fault; I fooled myself into thinking that this was the kind of life I could have until the reality of what I do for a living showed up at a mall parking lot. There was only one way to rectify everything. I got a second car, one that is unassuming, a green Toyota Camry, which is easy to steal so that no one gives it a second look.

When I followed Jenny from her office, she wouldn't think anything of it. She stopped at the Boston Pizza to make an order; I parked across the street at Tamura's and walked over to the opposite corner at 10th and Wai'alae. The second I saw Jennifer receive her pizza, I timed it so I would meet her at her car once she came out. First, I poured a powder called Asafoetida from North Africa into my hand. Commonly known as Devil's dung, it's sometimes used as tea. In voodoo, it's used to make someone leave another person alone or forget. Next, I closed my fist, and as I approached Jenny, she only had a second to turn around and realize it was me. I whispered the word "Poina" (forget) in my closed palm, and then while opening my palm, I blew the asafoetida into her face. It spread from her forehead to her cheeks and down to her chin. She choked and gagged for a second, cleared her eyes, and looked at me with bewilderment. "Iʻm sorry," I apologized. "You looked like you were choking, so I came over to see if you were alright?"

"Thank you, Iʻm fine," she stuttered.

"Here," I held up the box of pizza to her. "You almost dropped this."

I know youʻre asking yourself why I didnʻt use the Hawaiian method? It was too powerful; it would have wiped her clean, not only of her memory but also everything. She would be like a child, having to start over from day one. 


Today. 15 years later.

The line at the Penny Mart isn't too long; I have got some shanks of beef ready to take home and saute in whiskey before I throw them on the grill. Itʻs my turn to cook dinner for the office. My uncles and aunty like this steak, but so does Tabby. She likes it with cloves of steamed garlic on the side. There is a bit of a hold-up ahead; the woman's credit card isnʻt working when she swipes it. I reach over and insert my card and pay for it. The woman is stunned and then thankful, "It's on me," I tell her. "You have a nice evening with your family."

"Please give me your number or your Venmo so I can pay you back," she begged.

"You take care of your family; that's how you pay me back; otherwise, no worries," I assure her. She leaves tearfully with her two children in tow, waving at me and smiling.

"That was very decent of you, sir," the cashier says quietly. 

"It's just money," I reply. "We canʻt take it with us, so we might as well share it."

I pay for my shanks and wait for my receipt. The cashier thanked me again, and I moved out of the way for the next customer. I glance at her for a second and see that the name tag reads, "Jenny."


credit: Pinterest



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