Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 26, 2022

Asafoetida 2022

I wasn't perfect when I first became a part of the office.

One would say that this is part of growing and maturing. In other circumstances, I would not argue with you, but our office deals with delicate life-or-death situations. I was young then and had not fully considered the scope of my work. I hadn't broken myself of the thought that my work was not a nine-to-five job with the weekends and holidays off and an eventual retirement plan. My work was my life; there was no separation between the two. However, that fact had not sunk in yet, as you can tell. I met Jennifer, of all places, at the Goodwill in  Wai'alae. I walked by while on the way to 3660 On The Rise for a lunch meeting with my uncles and aunty Rita. A coat draped across the shoulder of a mannequin in the display window caught my eye. I had never seen a double-breasted one look so casual. It wasn't the kind of stuffy and stiff old men wore to their office meetings at any local banks. The coat was a bit more now and trendy. I walked in quickly to ask for the price of the double-breasted jacket, and that's when I met Jennifer Willy. A minute previous, she was in one of the dressing rooms trying on a used wedding gown that just came in. The doorbell rang, and she remembered being the only cashier up front. She rushed to the cash register and had forgotten that she was still wearing the wedding old wedding gown. "Hi, can I help you?"

"Hi," I responded. "Can you tell me how much that coat in the window costs, please?"

"Oh," she looked down at a list of items on a clipboard. "Thaaaaat is...oh..twenty-five fifty."

"I'll take it," I said.

"Great!" I'll go get it for you," she made her way around the counter and went to remove the coat from the mannequin in the front window. 

"Are you an anachronist, by the way?" I asked.

"What's that?" She retorted.

"The society for creative anachronisms," I answered. "They re-create 17th-century medieval stuff, knights and damsels, etc."

She was bewildered; she couldn't figure out why I would ask her such a thing. "Uh, no, I'm not; what makes you say that?"

"Well, you're wearing that old wedding gown, so I thought perhaps you were either getting married or you were going to convert it to one of those ladies in waiting for medieval gowns or something?"

"Oh shit!" She immediately took the gown off without fumbling too much over herself and tripping and falling. "I uhm, I just wanted to try it on and see how it fit; anyway, the coat, er, the jacket is twenty-five fifty."

I paid her cash while she put the coat in a garment bag and handed it over. "How long were you going to just stand there and say nothing while I embarrassed myself?"

"I did say something," I retorted.

"Not right away," she countered. "A decent person would have said something so as to save the other person from making a fool of themselves."

"But, you were already wearing the wedding gown when I walked in here," I parried, and she was not happy with that. "For all I know, it could have been wearing a wedding gown day at work; I don't know what the rules are in this place."

"There's only one rule," her eyes were intense. "The rule of decency. Have a good day, sir."

I shrugged my shoulders and walked out; I had to get to my meeting. My three elders asked me about the garment bag I had brought, and I told them about the coat from next door. My uncles commended me on my excellent work, and aunty Rita argued that it would have cost the office nothing if we had just had lunch at her house. "I can cook ten times better than this," she grumbled. 

"Next one is at your house, aunty," I reassured her. 

"We're already here, so we may as well eat," she smirked at everyone, particularly uncle Tiny because he's the one that made the reservation. 

"Very soon, you'll take the lead on these cases, and we'll be there to kākoʻo," uncle Ivan said. "Us people with the white hair cannot be in the front forever; the younger ones with the dark hair have to take the lead and guide this office to the future."

"No pressure," uncle Tiny chuckled.

"No pressure at all," I laughed, but the three of them knew how nervous I was.

After lunch, with the garment bag still in my hand, I passed by Goodwill and saw Jennifer Willy still operating the cash register behind the counter. I walked in, and the second she saw me, she let out a sigh of despair. "You again, the indecent double-breasted coat guy."

I placed a plastic bag on the counter with an extra porterhouse steak in a styrofoam container. "Lunch, a peace offering, and my apologies, Jennifer Willy."

"Luckily, that's what's on my name tag, so no, I don't think you're a stalker," she replied." But, of course, you didn't have to do that, you know?"

"I know," I replied. "But you looked good in that wedding gown; maybe I should have said that first instead of what I ended up saying."

"Or," she pointed at me. "Maybe you were so taken with how good I looked in that wedding gown that you couldn't help but say something stupid; maybe that's what prevented you from saying what you really meant?"

"I'm Hanson," I extended my hand over the counter.

"Jennifer," she took my hand. "You already know that," she said before asking, "so what kind of work do you do that requires you to wear a double-breasted coat?"

"Consultation," I replied. "We help people who are conflicted in certain areas of their life so they can move on and not dwell on the past."

"You sure you're not in the Hawaiian mafia or something?" She laughed half-heartedly.

"Nothing like that," I assured her. "Just ho'oponopono."

"Well, thanks for the porterhouse," she touched the plastic bag.

"Thanks for accepting it; you have a good day, Jennifer," I bowed slightly and walked out.

"You too," she called out as I walked into the Wai'alae afternoon. I didn't have anywhere to go after that; I just thought it was the thing to do since I had already made my peace offering, and I didn't want things to get awkward. 

"Hanson!" I turned to see Jennifer coming out of the Goodwill, holding up the porter-house in the plastic bag. "I'm gonna sit at the bus shack across the street. I'm on my break. Did you want to join me?"

This is the part that I talked to all of you about initially, having to learn a few things about how my job was really my life in all aspects. If you come back for part two, you'll understand why. be continued



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